Here are some headlines from the International News Section of The Jerusalem Post on Sunday: “Death toll from twin Somalia suicide car bombs rises to 45“; “ISIS claims it’s behind southern Yemen attacks that kill, wound dozens“; “More than 20 Dead in latest Afghan violence“; “Rescuers: we can’t keep up with air strikes battering Syria’s Ghouta.” What is the common thread between all these violent conflicts, as well as others in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere, the only answer is Islam. To those who claim, like Pres. Obama and previous US Presidents claimed, that “Islam is a peaceful religion,” I say “phooey.”
Of course, there are individual local causes in each case, but basically they are subsumed under the common thread of Islam. Islam is a violent religion, and it has been since Mohammed led an army from Mecca and forced Medina to capitulate (the hijrah in 622 ce). Then he conquered the whole of Arabia, which included massacring tribes or towns that would not capitulate to him, many of whom were Jewish. Then after his death in 632 ce his followers quickly expanded their conquests to Damascus (634), Baghdad (636), Jerusalem (639) and Cairo (641). Then a war of succession started between his followers, the Caliphs, and those who believed that a direct descendant of Mohammed should be their leader. These were the Shia and they were defeated at the battle of Karbala, now in Iraq, in 680 ce.
But, apart from the cause of religion, there were of course other factors involved:
- Tribalism: Tribes fought each other in all parts of the world, in Europe (French, Germans, Czechs, Poles, Hungarians, Romanians, Russians, Croats, Serbs, etc.), in North America (Apache, Pawnee, Cheyenne, Comanche, etc.), China, (Han and many others), so the Arabs were intent on expanding their tribal control; they introduced Arabic wherever they conquered and eventually the peoples they conquered, Copts, Greeks, Jews, Persians, Berbers, etc. came to think of themselves ethnically as Arabs.
- Imperialism: There were always clashes between Empires that had imperial designs, such as the Arab, Turkish, Persian, Russian, German, British, French and so on. Those who call Israel an “imperial state” really don’t know their history.
- Political: With the advent of Fascism, Nazism and Communism, the Arab world had its own flirtation with these ideologies. At one point the Arab world was very pro-Nazi, there was a pro-Nazi regime in Iraq, and the officer’s corps that carried out the revolution in Egypt under Pres. Nasser were very anti-British and pro-German. Later, Egypt and other Arab countries were closely allied to the Soviet Union.
But, in the final analysis, it is the concept of jihad, the violent struggle of Islam to conquer the world, that is at the base of such persistent violence throughout the Muslim world. The comprehensive study by Andrew Bostom entitled “Jihad: Islamic holy war and the fate of non-Muslims,” clearly demonstrates that jihad is never a “spiritual” struggle as is claimed by pro-Islamists, but always a violent one. The Sunni Arabs regard the Shia as heretics, worse than infidels, since infidels don’t know better. This schism, parallel to the Catholic=Protestant split in Christianity that was violent for hundreds of years, has not yet run its course.