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Do not give in to Evil, but proceed ever more boldly against it

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

How Muslim Piracy Changed The World

From Gates of Vienna:

Last month we published an excerpt from “Islam and the Dark Age of Byzantium” by John J. O’Neill. Mr. O’Neill returns with an essay about the ways in which Muslim piracy and brigandage influenced the Christian world far beyond the bounds of the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

During the course of the last five years, in my capacity as a collator of information about the Muslim world, I have come to regard Islam as an incarnation of the Destroyer. For every Arab astrolabe or treatise on geometry, there have been a thousand — or a hundred thousand — incidents of murder, pillage, torture, slavery, and wanton destruction of anything sublime and beautiful that originated outside of Islam.

Mr. O’Neill’s essay makes me realize how far afield Islam’s baleful influence has in fact extended. The legacy of the Prophet reaches from the causeway at Tenochtitlan to the temples of Kerala and the beaches of Bali, from the coast of Iceland to the shores of Zanzibar.

How Muslim Piracy Changed the World
by John J. O’Neill

In my recently-published book, Holy Warriors: Islam and the Demise of Classical Civilization, I argued that it was the coming of Islam, in the mid-seventh century, which effectively brought the Classical Civilization of Greece and Rome to an end and initiated the Middle Ages. There I showed that the Muslim conquest of the Middle East and North Africa, from the 630s onwards, closed those areas to trade from Europe; and the consequent impoverishment of the latter led to the decline of the urban centers which had been the powerhouses of Classical culture.

But it was not war alone that brought this about. After all, from the beginning of history, empires had come and gone around the shores of the Middle Sea, yet trade and economic life had continued. With the rise of Islam, it is clear, this did not happen. All trade between the Christian West (and Christian East) and the newly-Islamic East was terminated, definitively. We know this for certain by the data brought forth by Henri Pirenne and others. Why did it happen? Did the Caliphs forbid merchants to trade with infidels?

The truth is far worse.

Barbary PiratesOne of the fundamentals of the Islamic faith was the acceptability, even the duty, of Muslims to wage war against the infidel. Islam divided the world into two starkly opposing camps: that of Islam, the Dar al-Islam, and that of the unbelievers, which was known as the Dar al-Harb. But Dar al-Harb literally means “House of War”. Jihad or Holy War, as we have seen, was a fundamental duty of all Muslim rulers. Truces were allowed, but never a lasting peace. (See eg. Koran, 8: 40 and 9: 124). In the words of medieval historian Robert Irwin, “Since the jihad [was] … a state of permanent war, it [excluded] … the possibility of true peace, but it [did] … allow for provisional truces in accordance with the requirements of the political situation.” (Robert Irwin, “Islam and the Crusades: 1096-1699,” in Jonathan Riley-Smith (ed.) The Oxford History of the Crusades (Oxford, 1995) pp. 237). Also, “Muslim religious law could not countenance the formal conclusion of any sort of permanent peace with the infidel.” (Ibid.) In such circumstances, it is evident that, when the Islamic forces were in a position of strength, almost all contact between them and the outside world was warlike. And this was not war as is waged between two kingdoms, empires, or dynasties: This was total war, war that did not distinguish between combatants and non-combatants, and war that did not end. In this spirit, Islamic generals launched attack after attack against the southern shores of Europe during the seventh and eighth centuries; and these “official” actions were supplemented by hundreds, even thousands, of lesser raids, carried out by minor Muslim commanders and even by private individuals: For it was considered legitimate that the Muslim faithful should live off the infidel world. Whatever spoils could be taken, were divinely sanctioned.

Thus the coming of Islam signaled a wave of banditry and piracy in the Mediterranean such as had not been seen since before the second century BC, when such activities were severely curtailed by Roman naval power. Indeed, it seems that this new Islamic piracy surpassed in scope and destructiveness anything that had come before. We could mention here, from the seventh and eighth centuries and later, quite literally hundreds of accounts of attacks in Greece, Italy, southern France, Spain, Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica, carried out by Muslim freebooters and slave-traders. Neither Eastern nor Western Christendom was safe, and Crete, for a long time, was the centre of the Mediterranean slave-trade; a dubious honor she retained till the island was retaken by the Byzantine Emperor Nicephorus II Phocas around 956. (See John Julius Norwich, The Middle Sea, p. 94) These cut-throats, it seems, did not confine themselves to capturing towns and their inhabitants, but plundered churches and monasteries too, putting their occupants to the sword or selling them into slavery. The entire Mediterranean, east and west, was now off-limits for trade and, “In the Occident … the coast of the Gulf of Lyons and the Riviera to the mouth of the Tiber, ravaged by war and the [Muslim] pirates, whom the Christians, having no fleet, were powerless to resist, was now merely a solitude and a prey to piracy. The ports and the cities were deserted. The link with the Orient was severed, and there was no communication with the Saracen coasts. There was nothing but death.” (Henri Pirenne, Mohammed and Charlemagne, p. 184)

Read the rest.

And consider what reversion to the violent and chaotic historical norm will mean for North America.

Tempus fugit.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


There follows a list of Christian countries I can think of that have been conquered by Moslems since the Industrial Revolution:

On the other hand, to the best of my admittedly weak historical understanding, the following Islamic countries have been conquered by Christians: Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Jordan, Chad, Pakistan, Bangla Desh, Libya, Indonesia, Yemen, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Kyrgyz, Kazakhstan, Somalia, Sudan, and Uzbekistan, to name a few. On various occasions Christians have tried to conquer Afghanistan, but with no better luck than they deserved.

Since 1500, Christians also conquered all of North, South, and Central America, most of Southeast Asia, India, Australia, Nepal, Africa, China for practical purposes, and so on. I am not sure the record is altogether on the side of Christians in terms of inherent pacifism.


A drawback of getting older is that one has a sense of seeing the same bad movie over and over. We always fight demons. Like the Moslems, the Russians also were patient and barbaric, as were, and will be again, the Chinese when they come online as the next enemy. The Japanese too were primordially evil, committing such atrocities as the Rape of Nanking until nuclear terror bombing returned them to civilization’s fold. The only good Indian was a dead Indian. Et cetera.

November 11, 2009 at 6:11 AM  
Blogger Concerned American said...

And how did those "Islamic" countries become so?

Answer: They were conquered, raped, and pillaged by the swords of Islam.

I like Fred's stuff, but here he makes the same error that Richard Maybury and other smart people have made by not stating the examination period at the time of Big Mo himself (i.e., from 570 AD forward).

See http://www.pbs.org/muhammad/timeline_html.shtml

Start there, do an honest assessment of the "spread of Islam" and its methods, and get back to us.

November 11, 2009 at 6:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And how did those Islamic countries then become Christian? Answer: They were conquered, raped, and pillaged by the swords of Christianity. Suppose I stipulate that Muhammad was the same kind of highly motivating nutcase as Stalin, Hitler, and Mao. How does this change the analysis? The track record for the last couple hundred years is that, overall, Islam is at least as peaceful as Christianity. So they keep the female half of their workforce out of the labor market? Point and laugh at their self-defeating behavior. Can you see them doing Rosie the riveter?

The nationalist-socialist-ecologist flavor of fundamentalism is the one that has traction today in the industrialized first world countries. I feel the big threat comes from the religious fundamentalists that make integrated circuits and fly predator drones, not the ones that make mud huts and shoot pistols.

November 11, 2009 at 6:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ft. Hood: A fundamentalist regime with a thousand times as many pages of behavioral rules as any set of holy books controls half the military spending on the planet. It has indoctrinated religious faith in its correctness in its mandatory religious schools. Some little nothing of a former competitor to it comes in and slaughters a few of its Terminators, which have been disarmed and made dependent to discourage them from thinking independently.

In response, the wider pool of slave-victims mouth their religious catechisms about liberty and safety being a trade-off, and how they need an "ordered liberty". The Constitution is an idol. It has writing on it, like those stone tablets did, but you're not supposed to read it, you're supposed to pray to it and believe whatever the priests tell you it means. That nitrogen-filled glass case in the archival bunker is the new Ark of the Covenant.

November 11, 2009 at 6:36 PM  
Anonymous Qi Ji Guang said...

Muslim piracy also led to the need, and the creation of the United States Marine Corps to neutralize the threat.

Note that the early Marines are called "leathernecks". Muslim pirates loved to use short swords called the scimitar, and the Marines wore leather armor over their necks to defend against sword strikes.
The same swords of Islam that conquered so many countries had also strenghtened and toughened one infant nation's army into the world's most elite fighting force.

November 11, 2009 at 10:45 PM  
Blogger Concerned American said...

Anon at 6:02 pm:

You don't really think that Christianity up until the time of Big Mo spread through the sword, do you?

And prove this point, with facts:

The track record for the last couple hundred years is that, overall, Islam is at least as peaceful as Christianity.

November 12, 2009 at 6:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You don't really think that Christianity up until the time of Big Mo spread through the sword, do you?"

The Spanish Inquisition wasn't a debating society. Here are some examples down through the ages of Christianity spreading through the sword: Splinter Christian groups like the Gnostics squished for not falling in line with the first multinational corporation, the Catholic church. Roman Empire converting to Christianity. Spanish Inquisition. Retaking the Holy Lands for Christ, take one on horses. Henry VIII's empire converting to a new Christian sect. Conquistadors claiming the new world for Christ. New England settled by Europeans fleeing Christian persecution, who then turn around and mutually persecute all the other Christian variants in the area. Salem Witch Trials. Founding fathers calling themselves deist because athiest is unsafe. Converting the Indians to Christianity: kill them all and God will know his own. "Papist" anti-Catholic sentiment. The Klan. Gott mitt uns. Christians vs. Christians in Ireland. Retaking the Holy Lands for Christ, take two on humvees.

"And prove this point, with facts:

The track record for the last couple hundred years is that, overall, Islam is at least as peaceful as Christianity.

What facts are more telling than the recent track record of successful national military conquests, as listed by Fred? When a real enemy does a Pearl Harbor, they have a fleet of ships ready to press the attack. But where were the followup attacks after 9/11? This is not the behavior of a viable enemy. A small fraction of Islam wants to be totalitarian fundamentalists, but in the environment of the continental US, they are losers who mostly can be ignored -- both 9/11 and Ft. Hood happened because the true dominant totalitarian made those places victim disarmament zones.

"Islamofascism" is a red herring to distract you from the acts of American fascists.

November 13, 2009 at 4:50 AM  
Blogger theotherryan said...

A very strong argument can also be made that Muslim Pirates are the reason our weak original form of government failed and we ended up with the Constitution.

November 13, 2009 at 7:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only legitimate way to fight crime is to do it without committing more crime in the process. The merchants could have privately hired soldiers in boats to guard their shipping, and raised the price of their goods to cover it. With the true cost of the shipping accurately contained in the prices, maybe it would have been cheaper to manufacture some of the goods at home. Or not. But there would be no financial incentive to exaggerate the Muslim pirate threat as a way to get more defense spending for your cronies.

Theft is evil. If you pervert your morality to claim that theft is proper, you're toast. There is libertarian anarchy of snow-white purity, and there is the slippery slope to genocide. There are no stable intermediate points. "A Republic, if you can keep it" means "we lit the fuse, and we're going to live off you in our plush diplomat gigs for the rest of our lives, sucker".

November 14, 2009 at 10:24 AM  

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