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Islamic Politics and Jihad Through History

QUESTION: Islamic Politics – Jihad Through History


The teachings of Jesus and Muhammad about the implementation of violence differ fundamentally: Jesus taught His disciples not to take up arms against those who opposed Him, but Muhammad taught his disciples to conquer anyone who opposed them or who refused to become Muslims. Afif A. Tabbarah recounts an example of Muhammad’s teachings in action: “Muhammad sent his delegates to eight neighboring rulers with messages calling them to embrace Islam. The appeal was rejected. Some of them even killed the Prophet’s delegates, and some tore the message and threatened the delegates who had brought it. In that case, Moslems found no other alternative but fighting, after being certain that those rulers had slain the Prophet’s delegates, misled their people, and ruled them in oppression and tyranny.”1 The message the delegates carried was “Convert to Islam or we will battle with you.” Peace with Muhammad was impossible if unbelievers did not adopt Islam or submit to Muslim rule.

Islamic Politics – Jihad and the Crusades
The Crusades of the Middle Ages are a questionable blot on institutional Christianity.2 The Crusades began as a response to Muslim aggression. Muslim armies had moved north, taken Jerusalem, and made several incursions into the Christian Byzantine Empire. Eastern Christians called on Western Christians for aid in the face of Muslim aggression. The later Spanish crusades, with the aim of driving Muslim armies from Spain, were intended to take back land and free those captive to Muslim intruders.

However, there was a very unfortunate disorganization in the Crusader movement that led some to rush off to war without proper training and strategy. The resultant tragedies included many Crusaders wasting their efforts and their lives as well as the lives of others. This is particularly apparent in the Fourth Crusade, where the grand vision of recapturing Muslim-conquered lands mutated into the sack of the Eastern Christian capital of Constantinople. Another misfortune was the so-called Children’s Crusade through which many children were drowned in the Mediterranean Sea or sold into slavery in North Africa.

Learn More! Notes:

Rendered with permission from the book,Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews(Rev. 2nd ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry at Summit Ministries. All rights reserved in the original.

1 Afif. A. Tabbarah, The Spirit of Islam: Doctrine and Teachings (Beirut, Lebanon: Dar El-llm Lilmalayin, 1978), 384.
2 See Alvin J. Schmidt’s The Great Divide (Boston, MA: Regina Orthodox Press, 2004) for his understanding of the Crusades.

Islamic Politics - Learn More!

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