Thursday, October 05, 2006

Start Here

Several years after Islamic terrorists killed three thousand innocent civilians and crippled America's economy (but decades after the first modern Islamic terrorist attacks) many Americans still ask themselves:


If you can't answer all of these simple questions ...
  • What Is Islam?

  • How did Islam originate?

  • Who was Muhammad?

  • Why pray toward Mecca?

  • What is the "Caliphate?"

  • What is the "12th Imam?"

  • What is the relationship between ancient Islam and modern Islamic terrorism?

  • What are the two basic ways to defeat Islamic terrorism?

... you must read Militant Islam 101.

After you have absorbed Militant Islam 101, we believe you will:

  1. Recognize that America's present system of counter-terrorism can never really defeat Islamic terrorists, but can only hope to contain and supress them.

  2. Agree that there only two ways to neutralize the threat from militant Islam. One is unthinkable and desperate; the other is peaceful and improbable.

  3. Be prepared to urge the moderate Muslim community to assume a leadership position in staging strong public demonstrations of support for global peaceful co-existence and religious freedom.

We ask readers of "Militant Islam 101" to post comments here to open a dialogue that could identify additional options not yet considered for the actual defeat of militant Islam - not appeasement; not management.

Islam vs. militant Islam

This blog is not intended to slander or pass judgement on all Muslims nor does it serve to blame the entire Islamic faith for modern terrorism.

However, it is unwise for Americans to ignore the fact that radical elements of the global Islamic community are stubbornly motivated by ancient Islamic traditions of socio-political and spiritual conquest.

When we refer to "militant Islam," we refer to terrorists who use guerrilla-like tactics in an attempt to intimidate their enemies into surrender while citing the cause of Islam or scripture from the Quran as justification for their actions. This blog uses "militant" Islam, not the more commonly used "radical" Islam. The root of "radical," oddly enough, is from the Latin word for "root." This could suggest that terrorism is at the root of modern Islamic principles and that is not the message of this blog. The word, "militant," attributes a more appropriate combative nature to this terrorist movement.

Many Americans have a vague but hopeful perception that militant Islam represents a radical minority of the Islamic faith. Although it seems impossible to know for certain, we encourage readers to explore within their own communities whether militant Islam can be overcome with the help of moderate Muslims.

Tempering Perspective With Fair Comparison

Some of the most disturbing elements of Islamic history share parallels with Christianity and other beliefs. Where those conditions exist, we purposely point out or explore those parallels in an attempt to temper the formation of a realistic, unbiased evaluation of militant Islam.

Note: Please review this information with skepticism.
Although we include a list of references from which the vast majority of this information was taken, we urge each reader to explore his or her own resources to determine if this perspective represents a valid assessment of today's conditions.

What is Islam?

Islamic (Muslim) doctrine was established by Muhammad between 610 and 620 AD. Islam is an Abrahamic religion, as are both Christianity (Christians) and Judaism (Jews).

Estimates on the global Muslim population range between 700 million to 1.2 billion (between 11% and 18% of the world's population). The number of Muslims in the United States is estimated between 2 million and 7 million.

Islamic doctrine holds that Muhammad became Allah's messenger to the world, on a divine mission to heal the corruption of Allah's truth which had led humans astray since the time of Abraham through the practices of paganism, Christianity, and Judaism.

Muslims believe Islam is the ultimate religious evolution and that only Islam offers Allah's salvation to humankind.

Note: The nature of most organized religions is the personal acceptance of two things:
  1. The belief that their chosen doctrine represents the true word of God, and;

  2. The obligation of believers to spread their version of the truth.


  • Many Catholics believe that, in 1917, in the midst of World War I, the Virgin Mary appeared to three Portuguese children (Our Lady of Fatima), exhorting them to pray for the conversion of the world to Christianity, and specifically revealing to them how to convert the Soviet Union to Christianity.

  • The Baha'i doctrine - which is partially derived from Islam - calls for its own inevitable spiritual conquest of the world.

Who was Muhammad?

Prophet "Muhammad" in Arabic calligraphy

According to the teachings of Islam, Muhammad was born in the year 570. As a young adult, Muhammad worked as a merchant, enjoying a reputation as a charismatic person and a man of integrity.

Most historians agree that Muhammad:

  1. Lived between the 6th and 7th centuries

  2. Adopted various monotheistic traditions intended to replace popular polytheistic religions of the Arabian Peninsula

  3. Gained wide acceptance as a prophet before his death in 632 AD.

Note: The main sources of information on Muhammad's life are the Qur'an, the traditional Muslim biographies of Muhammad, and quotes attributed to him (the sira and hadith literature).

The compilation of the Qur'an was completed soon after the death of Muhammad. While the earliest surviving written sira dates to 150 years after Muhammad. The compilation and analysis of the hadith literature took place even later.

The origin of Islam

Islam was established by a respected merchant, Muhammad, who, as a young adult, frequently meditated in a cave near his home in Mecca, in what is now western Saudi Arabia.

Mt. Hira, where Muhammad said Gabriel appeared

Islam teaches that, in the year 610, when Muhammad was about forty, he was visited in a cave by the Angel Gabriel who commanded him to recite verses sent by Allah. (Christian legend says Gabriel will blow his horn to announce Judgement Day.) These verses, now called the Qur'an (recitation), were revealed to Muhammad over a period of about twenty-three years and formed the basis of the religion which he founded, Islam.

: If revelations in a cave by the Angel Gabriel seem to be an unlikely basis for a global "true" religion, bear in mind the origins of some other popular faiths:

  • Christianity was founded by Saul, a persecutor of Jesus' followers, most of whom were Jews. Saul, who had never met Jesus, said that Jesus appeared to him - at least two generations after the crucifixion - in a blinding flash of light that knocked him senseless off his horse. Saul wrote of Jesus as existing strictly on a spiritual plane, not on the earth. The Gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John - were actually written well after any adult who was alive in Jesus' time would have died.

  • Mormonism was founded by Joseph Smith, Jr., who said Jesus appeared to him, as well as God the Father, and an angel named, "Moroni." Smith dictated The Book of Mormon by gazing at a "seer stone" he had placed in a hat which yielded divine translations of "reformed Egyptian" scriptures which he said had been engraved on gold plates. This was the same "seer stone" he had previously used in "fortune telling" episodes that had resulted in his arrest and conviction.

Upon successfully convincing family members that he was a prophet, Muhammad began preaching his verses in public. After being persecuted for his teachings, Muhammad and his followers fled from Mecca to Medina where they formed a community of people who devoted themselves to life according to the tenets of Muhammad's revelations. Some Jewish tribes in the vicinity converted to Islam. Those that refused were expelled from the community.

How early Islam flourished and grew

Simple map of modern Saudi Arabia,
showing locations of Mecca and Medina

In 623, shortly after establishing his Islamic community in Medina, Muhammad's Muslims began raiding caravans en route to Mecca. In retaliation, over the next 8 years, determined to quash Muhammad's power and the spread of Islamic teachings, the Meccans repeatedly attacked the Muslims of Medina - often with superior forces. Sometimes the Muslims lost battles, but they were never completely defeated. Jewish tribes accused of supporting enemies of Islam were slain or enslaved. In 624, the Battle of Badr saw 1,000 Meccans defeated by only 300 Muslims.

In 627, Meccans attacked Medina but failed and withdrew after one month. In 628, emboldened by their victory, Muslims conquered the Jewish community of Khaybar - an oasis 95 miles north of Medina - and slaughtered or expelled all of it's residents. Arab tribes quickly began sending delegates to submit to Muhammad and convert to Islam, rapidly increasing Muhammad's power.

Note: It should be recognized that religious and political conquest was accepted as the common method of social change in Muhammad's era and for thousands of years previously and for hundreds of years afterward.

In the same year that Muslims repelled the Meccans, 627, the Byzantine Empire, successors of the Holy Roman Empire, decidedly defeated the Persians in Ninevah, an ancient "exceeding great city" located at what is now Mosul, in northern Iraq.

A little over 450 years later, Pope Urban would declare "bellum sacrum" ("Holy War") against the Muslims, promising the remission of sins - and therefore assuring a place in heaven - to any western Christians who came to the aid of the Greeks because, the pope said, "Deus vult!" ("God wills it!").

Conquering Mecca

Muhammad's sword

In 628, Muhammad launched a religious pilgrimage into Mecca that was perceived by Meccans as a military provocation. Muhammad stopped short of Mecca and arranged a treaty that would allow Muslims a peaceful annual spiritual pilgrimage, presumably to pray at the Ka'aba in Mecca.

This arrangement held for two years, after which time Muhammad declared that Meccans had violated the treaty. He led more than 10,000 men in a successful attack on Mecca. This solidified a belief of invincibility among Muslims (and many Arabs) that Islamic forces are protected by Allah and therefore cannot be defeated but will ultimately prevail.

Upon his victory, Muhammad assumed control of Mecca, destroying all of its pagan idols. Muhammad immediately negotiated or forced the surrender of surrounding Arab cities, converting them to Islam.

Soon after repelling the Meccans at Medina, Muhammad wrote letters to the known world's greatest leaders, inviting them to embrace Islam. In his letters, Muhammad said that the nations of leaders who converted to Islam would be safe, but predicted that those who did not convert to Islam would face calamity.

The Ka'aba

Mecca is the holiest of sites in Arab and Islamic traditions. Many people are aware that Muslims bow in prayer toward Mecca. However, when in Mecca, Muslims bow toward the Ka'aba, located in the center of the Grand Mosque of Mecca.

Ka'aba, Grand Mosque, Mecca

The Ka'aba (literally, "cube") is a granite structure about 50 feet high and roughly cube-shaped. Muslims believe the original Ka'aba was built by Abraham and his son, Ishmael. It housed hundreds of pagan idols until Muhammad's conquest, at which time he destroyed all the idols and rededicated the Ka'aba as a singular direction of worship as ordained by Allah to reflect His house in heaven.

Set in the Ka'aba's east corner today is the "Black Stone," a pre-Islamic spiritual relic some say is a meteorite and some believe is the only remaining piece of the Ka'aba as it stood in Muhammad's time. The Ka'aba was replaced in 692 with the structure that stands today. Entrance to Mecca today is forbidden to non-Muslims.