Beheadings, Crucifixions and Massacres

Who is distorting history? It is not Islamic State!

The following was written in response to an article written by Hamida Ghafour, a foreign affairs reporter at the Toronto Star.

Dear Ms. Ghafour,

Karen Armstrong never ceases to amaze me along with reporters who quote the former Catholic nun who has found a new hero in the Prophet Muhammad as if she is an unbiased commentator on Islam.

In your Toronto Star article How Islamic State militants hijacked history - Islamic State distorts historical events to justify gruesome campaign of beheadings, crucifixions and massacres in a bid to gain power you repeat the straitlaced Armstrong's spurious claim that Abu Bakr's ruthless suppression of tribes who rebelled against Muslim rule, in what is commonly referred to as the War of the Apostates and in which 7,000 defeated men, in the last stage of the war were shown no mercy (sound familiar), as being a good thing because of the way things were before Muhammad imposed Muslim Rule.

Ernest Renan (1823–92), French historian and critic, writing about pre-Islamic Arab society, described it this way (my translation).

I am not aware in the entire history of civilisation of a more gracious, more loving, more vibrant society than that of the Arabs before Islam … [it was a time] … of unbound freedom, lofty sentiments, a nomadic and chivalrous way of life, [a land] of fantasy, joy, mischievousness, bawdy impious poetry, refined love-making …

Ernest Renan, cf. Robert Montagne, La Civilisation du désert

Following is how T.E. Lawrence’s described the post-Islam Arabs:

They were a people of primary colours, or rather of black and white … They were a dogmatic people, despising doubt, our modern crown of thorns. They did not understand our metaphysical difficulties, our introspective questioning. They only knew truth and untruth, belief and unbelief, without our hesitating retinue of finer shades.

This people were black and white not merely in clarity, but in apposition. Their thoughts were at ease only in extremes … they never compromised; they pursued the logic of several incompatible opinions to absurd ends, without perceiving the incongruity.

They were a limited, narrow-minded people, whose inert intellect lay fallow in curious resignation. Their imaginations were vivid, but not creative.

T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom

As too beheadings, we have the example of the Prophet who ordered the decapitation of the seven hundred men and boys of the Qurayzah Jewish tribe of Medina after winning the battle for the city in which the Jews had not participated. In Muhammad, A Prophet for our Time, the lover of primary colours justifies this slaughter and the selling of the men’s wives and daughters into slavery during the war between Pagan Mecca and Muslim Medina because he did not trust the Jews to remain neutral; conveniently forgetting to mention that he ordered this cold-blooded mass-murder after the Meccans had lifted the siege of Medina and returned to Mecca, never to threatened Medina again.

Not only that, The Prophet for our Time could have sent the mothers, wives and daughters of the murdered men - they were no threat whatsoever– to join the former Jewish communities of Medina whom he earlier dispossessed and sent into exile.

As to the particular type of gruesome crucifixions carried out by Islamic State, it is Allah's recommended punishment for apostates and those who would fight Him and His Messenger. It is part of the four mainstream school of Sunni Sharia law and is based on what Allah revealed Pharaoh did to his magicians for changing their allegiance to Moses.

20:71 He (Pharaoh) said: “Do you believe in him before I give you leave? It must be your chief who has taught you magic. I shall then cut your hands and feet on alternate sides, and I will crucify you upon the trunks of palm trees, and you will certainly know whose punishment is sterner and more lasting.”

Finally, the period of time in which Muslims, converts for the most part, made substantial scientific contributions during the so-called extremely bloody “golden period” was extremely short.

Between the 8th and 10th century there emerged an Islamic school of thought largely influenced by Plato and Aristotle which became known as Mu’tazilism or Philosophy of Rationalism or simply Islamic Philosophy.

Mu'tazilites argued that verses of the Koran should not be taken literally and that human reason was more reliable than scriptures. The caliphs of the time tolerated this philosophy (some actively supported it as you point out) and this made it possible for Muslim scholars (Arab and others who became Muslims as Islam spread by the force of arms throughout the Middle East, North Africa and Persia) to make substantial contributions to astronomy, medicine and mathematics.

This period of intense scientific inquiry ended somewhat abruptly and with a vengeance towards the end of the 10th century when The Book of Hadith (the more than ten thousand authenticated sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) was closed and orthodoxy reasserted itself in the form of a comprehensive Islamic Theology which completely smothered Islamic Philosophy and ended, once and for all, any substantial innovation as demanded by a saying of the Prophet.

Every innovation is a misguidance and every misguidance goes to Hell fire. Imam Muslim

Sincerely Yours

Bernard Payeur

September 8, 2014