Review: 'Islamic Jihad: A Legacy of Forced Conversion, Imperialism, and Slavery'
25 Feb, 2009
Publisher: iUniverse Inc., New York, Bloomington
Violent Jihad is the heart of Islam; without it, Islam would, most likely, have died a natural death in the seventh century itself. --M. A. Khan (p. 79, Islamic Jihad).
M. A. Khan — the able editor of the increasingly popular islam-watch.org Website, which disseminates the factual understanding of Islam and its ongoing malaise—has also proved his ability as a scholarly author in his maiden venture by writing a persuasive book, Islamic Jihad. This is a very important addition to the growing list of literature for the accurate and objective understanding of Islam and Jihadi violence. In this book, Khan has made it crystal-clear that Islam is imperialistic and violent at its heart, and that the current Islamist terrorism is a continuation of Islamic Jihad that ensued at the birth of Islam. The message of this book is that Islamic Jihad is very much alive and kicking and the current civilisation may ignore the threat only at its peril.
This seminal work of Khan is in the league of Andrew Bostom’s bestseller, The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non Muslims.
Islamic Jihad is divided into seven main chapters: beginning with the elaboration of such topics as the controversies that currently surrounds the idea of Jihad, basic beliefs in Islam, Prophet Muhammad’s biography and the birth of jihad, and ends with the topic of Islamic slavery. At 380 pages, it is a massive work. Khan deserves a huge acclaim for completing such an influential work.
Khan has written on various aspects of Islamic jihad: violence of Prophet Muhammad, Islam’s treatment of the Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and people of other religions, the imposition of Islamic imperialism and Arab suzerainty in various parts of the world. In this review, I shall briefly highlight some of the salient features of Khan’s work.
On the cultural genocide of the conquered people, Khan writes:
But the Islamic conquerors acted on destroying the culture of the conquered infidels because of the fundamental Muslim belief that the vestiges of the pre-Islamic jahiliyah age must be replaced by the perfect religious, political and cultural civilization of Islam. (p. 164)
This is a profound statement, which tells us why the converts of Islam hate their original culture, language, traditions, and civilisation. Islam completely destroys the link of the conquered-and-converted with their past. This explains why a Muslim from India or elsewhere considers himself Muslim first, then anything else. This book makes it clear why a recent convert becomes eager even to sacrifice his life for Islam and readily volunteers to wear explosives-laden suicide-belts for killing, en masse, his innocent coreligionists of recent past. He completely disconnects himself from his root, his ancestry, his past religion, and perhaps his indigenous language and culture. Khan’s book is a compelling reading for Muslims, who have lost their past.
The author chronicles Islamic incursions in various parts of the world, which started soon after the death of Prophet Muhammad. Sourced from impeccable historical evidences, mostly documented by Muslim historians, Khan has depicted a compelling picture of Islamic invasions of India, the Balkans, Spain, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe, plus its spread in South East Asia. The narration of these incursions is detailed and engrossing; much new information up to the current time have been included. Thus, this is not simply a book of chronicle of Islamic history, but up to date. To scholars and academics, this book will be a valuable reference for the history of Islamic jihad. Muslim readers will find this book a masterpiece to understand their root, and know why they are Muslims or why not. The researchers and writers on Islamic jihad will find this book an invaluable one stop reference.
Khan compares the Islamic colonisation of the infidel world of India, South East Asia and other parts of the world with those of the European (Western) colonisation. He wonders why the indigenous people of these regions, who were largely forced to convert to Islam, have selective memories: while they glorify the Islamic imperialism, most often cruelly imposed on their ancestors, yet condemn the Western colonisation as slavery, decadent, and oppressive. He provides ample proof that the Western colonialists, unlike Islamic ones, resorted to much less slavery, committed less violence and left indigenous cultures and tradition often unperturbed. Khan asserts that the converts to Islam of invaded lands have got it totally wrong when they maintain that Islam brought them liberation. The truth is: Islam brought horrible slavery, servitude, forced conversion, obliteration of indigenous tradition and culture, dhimmitude, religious persecution, and genocide to their ancestors. Western colonialists resorted to these practices on fewer occasions.
Khan eloquently describes how the Muslim invaders systematically advanced in India through war, terror, plunder and forced conversion. Islamic invaders diligently killed all the fighting Hindus, looted their temples and shrines, and enslaved the women and children. Many of these enslaved Hindu children were raised as Muslim fighters for engaging in killing their Hindu ancestors. Muslim soldiers methodically raped the child bearing Hindu women, generally captured as war-booty. These hapless Hindu women had no choice but to submit to Islam, and give birth to Muslim children. This profoundly affected the religious demographic in India (the same elsewhere) as Khan writes:
Therefore, wherever Muslims made successful inroads, they reduced the Hindu population directly by slaughtering the men in large numbers and taking away the women and children as captives. It indirectly reduced the Hindu populace by rendering the remnant Hindu men unprocreative by depriving them of childbearing female partners. Since those women became the vehicle for breeding Muslim offspring instead, the final result was a reduction of the Hindu populace and a sharp rise in the number of Muslims. The growing Muslim population was to be maintained by the toiling of the vanquished Hindus, subjected to grinding taxes. This is roughly the same protocol, which Prophet Muhammad had applied to the Jews of Banu Qurayza and Khaybar. (p. 102)
According to Khan, this had been a deliberate strategy by Muslim invaders to permanently change the demography of India, in their attempt to convert the entire India into a Muslim subcontinent. This attempt was a huge success given that India is now flanked by two Islamic nations: Pakistan and Bangladesh, born out of Hindu India. (It has been much more successful elsewhere). This book presents this truth with forceful conviction. Those, still doubtful of the roots of the Pakistani and Bangladeshi people, must read Khan’s book to dispel the doubt. Honestly, Khan’s book forced me to search for my own Hindu roots and heritage. Other Muslims from that part of the world may also happen to do the same, once they read this book.
Khan also lists thirteen humiliating conditions, enshrined in the Pact of Umar, that were to be ideally imposed by Muslim rulers upon their dhimmis subject: Jews, Christians and others (some rulers were lax in imposing them). This list is a must read for all non Muslims and eye opener for those, who think that Islam is tolerant and merciful towards non Muslims. On the Pact of Umar, Khan writes:
The terms in the Pact of Omar for dealing with dhimmis are clearly in agreement with the sanction of Allah [Quran 9:29] and prophetic tradition. Therefore, the Pact of Omar, wrote Abu Yusuf, the great eighth-century Hanafi jurist, ‘stands till the ay of resurrection.’ (p. 106)
Therefore, in a pure Islamic society, non Muslims must not expect any protection of their human rights, which, historically, was most often the case and continues to be so, such as in Saudi Arabia.
Khan also shatters the popular myth that Islam in India was largely spread peacefully by the Sufis. With undeniable historical evidences, he has demonstrated that many of those so called Sufis were anything but peaceful mystics. Khan provides the names of many famous Sufis, who were actually Jihadis resorting to war, plunder, and forced conversion.
Another surprise that Khan’s book springs is the myth that Islam came to South East Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, Southern Thailand and Southern Philippines) through peaceful traders. Based on authentic sources, Khan convincingly proves that propagation of Islam in South East Asia was not as peaceful as it is usually thought to be. It was mainly jihad by stealth, coercion, intrigue and deceit, and in many instances bloodshed. On the propagation of Islam in Indonesia, Khan writes:
Ibn Battutah’s description shows that as soon as Muslims gained political power as in Samudra, they started brutal Jihad against the surrounding infidels. (p. 140)
The author also provides the reason why Islam had spread so quickly in South East Asia after Muslims gained political power. It was, according to Khan, probably because of the Shafii Law practiced there, which gives idolaters only two choices: conversion to Islam or death. Whereas in India, the milder Hanafi Law showed some mercy to the idolaters by elevating them to the status of tolerable dhimmi, thus sparing the lives of Hindus, who did not voluntarily convert to Islam. As a result, the Islamization of India was less successful.
Khan’s book provides an ominous picture of a world dominated by diehard Islamic jihadis as the global Muslim population increases fast and the Christian populations in previously Christian-majority Lebanon, Bethlehem, Sarajevo, and Nigeria etc., dwindles rapidly. Simultaneously, they vanish from Palestine, Egypt, Iraq and other Muslim-dominated countries, resulting of persecutions. It is a serious global threat, indeed.
Islamic Jihad cites many examples of racism inherent in Islam and as practiced by the Arabs, since Muhammad’s time. Even to this day in Arab countries, even Muslims of dark complexion—from Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and Africa—are treated as less than human and with utter contempt, gross discrimination, lowly status, and poor pay. Khan’s compelling examples flies in the face of the popular claim, even by leading non-Muslim scholars of Islam, that Islam is egalitarian and preaches universal brotherhood. One must read Khan’s book to affirm how groundless those claims are.
The most fascinating and illustrative chapters of this book are Islamic Imperialism in India (Ch. VI) and Islamic Slavery (Ch. VII). Readers will find these two chapters absolutely absorbing. Here is an excerpt from chapter VI:
The scale of the destruction of Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh religious institutions by Muslims in India have few parallels in the history of conquests. In most instances, after a temple was destroyed, the idols and treasures therein were carried away, while the remains of the destroyed temple were often used as materials for the construction of a mosque at its place. The Kwat-ul-Islam (Might of Islam) mosque in Delhi was constructed from the materials of seventeen destroyed temples of the area.xxx The priests of the temples and monasteries were normally slaughtered, as joyfully narrated by Amir Khasrau and Sultan Firoz Tughlaq amongst others (mentioned already). (p. 199)
The Chapter on slavery would reveal a harrowing tale of inhumanity suffered by tens of millions of innocent people from India to Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and even the United States.
In conclusion, Khan’s work is very scholarly, persuasive and cogent. The language is simple, easy to understand, and engaging. Once started reading, readers would feel an urge to finish the book. No serious readers of Islam should ignore this book. Read this book and you will grasp why the Islamic Jihadis are doing what they are doing. Readers of the subcontinent (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh), especially Muslims, will be shocked at the suffering their ancestors suffered at the hands of Muslim invaders from the Middle East and Central Asia. The compelling account of many invasions and subsequent incursions will force them to eagerly search their roots. Readers from elsewhere in the Muslims world, and even Europe and America, would also be able make a connection as to how Islam impacted lives of their ancestors.
This book is also a must read for today’s political leaders—both Muslim and non-Muslim—to shake off their apathy towards the mortal danger of ascendant Islamic radicalism. The final word about the Islamic jihad can be summed up by Dr Ali Issa Othman, a reputed Palestinian sociologist and advisor to UNRAWA on Education, who said on the propagation of Islam that,
‘‘The spread of Islam was military. There is a tendency (amongst Muslims) to apologize for this and we should not. It is one of the injunctions of the Quran that you must fight for spreading of Islam.” (p. 146)
Perhaps, the only flaws of this book are the absence of an index and a glossary.
Abul Kasem is an Bengali ex-Muslim and academic. He has contributed in Leaving Islam - Apostates Speak Out and Beyond Jihad - Critical Voices from Inside and Why We Left Islam.. He has also written extensively on Islam in various websites and is the author of five e-Books: A Complete Guide to Allah, Root of Terrorism ala Islamic Style, Sex and Sexuality in Islam, Who Authored the Quran? and Women in Islam. Mr. Kasem leaves in Sydney, Australia. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.