Book Review: The Sword of the Prophet

See Also: Atlas Shrugs

In his The Sword of the Prophet, Serge Trifkovic endeavors to detail the history and theology of Islam. Some of the critically important questions addressed in his volume are whether violence is creedal to this religion and whether its theology can withstand rational scrutiny. In his introduction, Trifkovic states that Islam is “a detailed legal and political set of teachings” and that while what follows is not true of every Muslim; it is true of every true Muslim.1 Thus, the author is taking care not to communicate a politically correct view of Islam, but to come to terms with the actual nature of the religion in its historical context and meaning.

Trifkovic states that “there are no reliable written Muslim sources that go beyond 800 AD” and that “texts we have after that date should not be read as a factual record of past events”.2 The documents, he claims, reached their present form in about 1000 AD and, while containing historical facts to a degree, were largely embellished by Muslim apologists far removed from the historical events.

That Muhammad came from lowly origins and was largely despised by his own people counts little against his claims to be God’s Messenger. What is significant, however, is whether Muhammad could be shown to have written historically false statements, have offered ethical monstrosities as God’s Word, insisted upon gratuitous evil and violence, and give rise to an incoherent theology. Moreover, if the origin of Islamic beliefs can be shown to be loaded with pagan beliefs, this would also count against the likelihood of Islam being a true religion. For example, the name Allah existed in pagan forms in pre-Islamic times. Generally, the name was associated with an Arabic moon god who had a wife and daughters and were worshipped by the Meccans. The word Allah also having Aramaic derivation corresponds to the Babylonian Baal or Bel.

It was in the year 610 AD at the age of 40 that Muhammad claimed to have first received his messages from God through a visitation of the angel Gabriel. The visions accompanying the messages discontinued, however, and written records of them did not appear until 650 AD. This may not be problematic, but the content of the messages seem increasingly ad hoc, rooted in personal gain, and unnecessarily violent. This would include doctrine that reflected political expediency. For example, of the Meccan rejection of Muhammad’s claims, Trifkovic states that

“Attempting to sway the doubters by theological compromise, Muhammad went so far as to allow for the possibility that the three well liked Meccan deities- the moon god’s daughters al-Lat, al-Uzza, and Manat- were divine beings, capable of interceding with Allah on behalf of the faithful”.3

His source for this is the Koran (6:108):

“Do not revile the idols which they invoke besides Allah, lest in their ignorance they revile Allah with rancor. Thus, have We made the actions of all men seem pleasing to themselves. To their Lord they shall return, and We will declare to them all that they have done.” 4

Trifkovic further states that:

“Muhammad then refrained from cursing the Meccan idols but called them all by the same name “Allah”, thus merging 300 odd deities at the Kabba into one, and calling all of them by the same name. He subsequently abrogated this section of the original Kuran, claiming that this an interpolation of Satan- hence the “Satanic verses”. 5

Trifkovic claims that medieval scholars authenticated this account and it is unthinkable that a Muslim believer would fabricate such a story. Further, in 619 AD, not knowing that the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD by Titus, Muhammad claims to have been taken to the “Farthest Mosque” ( Masjid al-Aqsa) on a white mule with a human head during his journey to heaven with Gabriel. That temple was built in 691 AD. By Jews and Christians

Muhammad also originally states that Jews and Christians can be counted among the saved (Kuran 29:46), but it was later “in Medina, when Muhammad’s prophetic claims were rejected, that his position underwent complete change to uncompromising hostility and justification of violence”. 6

In time, Muhammad was enjoying the spoils of caravan raids on Meccan merchants which occurred even during the month of Ramadan. The messages he supposedly received from Allah became increasing violent and filled with terror. For example, we find in 8:68 “It is not for any prophet to have captives until he hath made slaughter in the land”. Of this Trifkovic states:

“Fresh revelations described the unbelievers as “the worst animals”. The Prophet was now the “enemy of infidels”. Killing or, in the case of the Jews or Christians, enslaving and robbing them, was not only divinely sanctioned but mandated” 7

Having fled Mecca, Muhammad brought Medina completely under his control with the threat of death, exile, or conversion for its citizens. His critics were systematically slaughtered as his followers gave him their utter devotion in a blood covenant (iman). Reminiscent of the holocaust in Nazi Germany, Muhammad ordered the murders of Jews increasingly until “it was time to dispense with individual murders and deal with that stubborn community collectively”.8 In one instance, Muhammad ordered 900 Jewish men to be beheaded in front of their wives and children due to their refusal to convert to Islam. Jewish tribes shortly disappeared from Arabia.

He also sanctioned the rape of his subjects and captives. (4:24) “Contrary to his own regulations”, Muhammad himself had up to 25 wives, some as young as seven years of age.9 In a tremendously ad hoc manner, he received direct revelations from Allah that would settle even disputes among his wives.

Muhammad’s ad hoc teaching did not end here. Initially, he had his followers facing Jerusalem during daily prayers but after he scorned the Jews, they were to face Mecca. It seemed he was making up doctrine and receiving messages as a matter of convenience and on a very impromptu basis.

Of the nature of Allah, Trifkovic states that his “absolute transcendence means that he is everything and nothing He cannot be grasped by the human mind and is greater than we can comprehend. Everything about him is false and insufficient. He cannot be fathomed, only worshipped”. 10 It follows that Muslims do not have personal relationship with Allah. They cannot identify his nature enough to make claims about him other the necessity to worship Him. Allah is not necessarily good as the Christian God must be. The believer and unbeliever alike are subject to his whims, whims not grounded in any sort of absolutely good nature. This is somewhat contradictory to claims made by the Koran that Allah “does not love unbelievers”, a knowledge claim made about him. (Sura 3:32) Trifkovic further argues that the belief among Muslims that “Allah is All” is pantheistic in the end analysis.

The Koran also contradicts itself on the creation account. In two passages, it is six days long and in another two passages, it is two days long. Elsewhere it states that the “earth is flat and stationary, with the sun and moon rotating around it on their fixed orbits”. 11

Islam is a religion committed to predestination. It would be heretical for one to suggest that mankind has anything akin to a freewill and real ability to choose. Allah makes all things happen according to his will whether that even is good or bad. Again, there is no burden on Allah to consistently do what is Good. The Good is not inexorably yoked to his nature.

In popular culture, male Muslim believers are often chided for believing that they will enjoy the comfort of 72 virgins as they enter into heaven. This is not a straw man but a tightly held belief. Moreover, it is also believed that “The righteous will also be served by boys, “pure as pearls” dressed in green garments of fine silk and heavy brocade, adorned with bracelets of silver, and used to drinking wine”. ( Sura 76:21)

Trifkovic states that:

“According to some interpretations of the Tradition and in the considered opinion of a contemporary Islamic commentator “The men in Paradise have sexual relations not only with the women [who come from this world] and with the ‘black eyed’ but also with the serving boys….In Paradise, a believer’s penis is eternally erect”. 12

Islam is decidedly lacking in any sort of natural revelation that might serve as a cross check against the claims of its founder. Unlike Paul who urged the potential believer to employ his own sense of reason and test his claims, Islam entails an unquestioning fideism that severely punishes and derides an admission of the intellectual struggles that accompany faith. As Trifkovic points out, it also bears the influences of other religions- not only Christianity and Judaism the scriptures of which it regards as the “barbarous Kuran”, but also of paganism ( contemporary and ancient), Zoroastrianism, and Sabaism. Jewish and Christian scriptures are often misunderstood and misrepresented. For example, in Surra 66, Muhammad confuses Mary with the sister of Moses.

That the Kuran encourages, teaches, and even demands violence is inescapable. Regarding Christians, Jews, and other unbelievers, the Kuran states “Who so of you makes them his friends is one of them.” (Surra 5:55) “War, not friendship, is mandatory until Islam reigns everywhere” (Surra 8:39 and 2:193) Critical to his theme, Trifkovic faulted Forte, an advisor to the Bush Administration, when he said that “When they talk about Islam, they talk about jihad. They patronizingly assume that violence is an essential part of Islam” However, Trifkovic counters that:

“This view, however erroneous, boils down to the conviction that believers, no matter their denomination, are better people than nonbelievers, and that a religious outlook- any religious outlook- is preferable to the nihilistic wastelands of postmodern secularism”.13

Trifkovic is making a strong case here. Islam, properly understood, is a brutal criticism of religious pluralism. It does not embrace the unity of religions and tolerance by and of all religions as espoused by religious pluralists. To offer that Islam is only one proverbial blind man holding a different part of the elephant or to suggest that Islam, at its core, seeks the same things as other more benevolent religions, is, on the whole, a very ignorant position to hold. Islam categorically seeks the complete destruction of competing religious views, even unto death. There is no compromise in its ranks; death is the rightful punishment for those who will not submit to the doctrine of Muhammad. To offer that all religions have common goals, when one religion (or more) so vocally states otherwise, places the pluralist in an insolvable contradiction. Clearly, the Muslim would become an infidel if he or she embraced religious pluralism. This renders religious pluralism as internally incoherent. Moreover, most other religions, including the populated Judaism and Christianity, make exclusive claims that cannot be accommodated by pluralistic constructs. By their very nature, these religions are mutually exclusive. It may be the case that a natural law has been revealed to all mankind, but differences in purpose and meaning exist in these various religions- such that somebody is not being honest. Trifkovic further states “What dialogue there is, therefore, starts on the Muslim assumption that a clear and frank restatement of Islamic dogma will prompt others to see the light. (85) Consider, for example, Abdus-Samad Sharafuddin of King Abdule-Aziz University who said of his own paper titled About the Myth of God Incarnate: An Impartial Survey of Its Main Topics to a scholarly conference of the Society for the Study of Theology at Oxford:

“It shatters age-long darkness like a bolt from the blue; like a rational, God-sent lightning it strikes the London horizon to explode an age long blunder in Christian thought.” 14

It strains one’s sensibilities to think he’s leaving the door open to a religious pluralism. Importantly, the popular understanding of a peaceful, personal, and inner jihad:

“was predicated on the assumption that the external real jihad was nearing its completion. The concept of spiritual struggle was never meant to replace, let alone abrogate, the original, warlike meaning.” 15

With little exception, war and violence were characteristic Islam since the death of Muhammad in 632 AD. By 644 AD, Persia, Egypt, Jerusalem, and much of the Byzantine Empire fell under Muslim control by the sword. Beginning in 750 AD, the Abbasids ruled for roughly 500 years. According to Trifkovic, for the early caliphs, war served the purpose of subjecting the conquered politically and legally than in spreading Islam. In time, the sheer numbers of those slaughtered became staggering. For example, true to the verse “Kill those who join other gods with God wherever you may find them” (Surra 9:5-6), Mahmud had 50,000 Hindus slaughtered at a celebrated temple. Trifkovic further states that:

“The massacres perpetrated by Muslims in India are unparalleled in history, bigger in sheer numbers than the holocaust, or the massacre of the Armenians by the Turks; more extensive even than the slaughter of South American natives by the invading Spanish and Portuguese….Militant Islam sees India as “unfinished business”, and it remains high on the agenda of oil rich Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia, which are spending millions every year trying to convert Hindus to Islam” 16

Torture accompanied the killing with frequent burnings and drownings. The Islamic religion felt no burden, had no creed, to stem the tide hatred racial hatred.

The Islamic Empire nearly crumbled, however, with Tatar invasions. But they readily converted to faith and gave rise to the Ottoman Empire in the thirteenth century.

Trifkovic states that life under Muslim Turks for the “Greek, Armenian, Serb, or, indeed, any other Christian in the Ottoman Empire meant living daily in fear of murder, rape, torture, kidnap of one’s children, slavery, and genocide”.17 Trifkovic details events such as these that span the 1500 years of this religion’s existence.

What does this say of Allah? Islam is in complete contradiction with any rudimentary understanding of natural rights or natural law. That is, if Islam is true, humans have no intrinsic value, no preciousness in the sight of a benevolent God. In fact, benevolence would have no coherent meaning, no grounds in anything absolute. Trifkovic quotes the Muslim Mernissi in Islam and Democracy:

Shirk is the most appropriate word for translating the word ‘freedom’ in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is posed as an ideal to be attained: ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; this includes freedom to change his religion”.18

However, as Trifkovic points out, it is “the ultimate unpardonable sin of blasphemy and the exact opposite of Islam” and “A Muslim is not free to believe or do as he wishes. He is under Islamic Law, which is the only legal, legitimate, moral, and rational code”.19 Intellectual freedoms, then, does not exist in the Islamic state.

Included in his litany of Islamic offenses to human rights is the treatment of women. From the time of Muhammad to the present day, female rights are left in wont. Currently, in Saudi Arabia, a woman may not even check into a hospital with out being accompanied and represented by a male. Sexism is severe in every aspect of daily personal life and at a public level. In addition to dress codes, women in fundamentalist Islamic states have virtually no rights in court without male representation, are limited in the educational pursuits, and lack societal protection in cases of spousal abuse. Trifkovic details a very sad and grim picture for the female Muslims:

“Muslim propagators in the west [i.e. the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils] “explain” that the Islamic teaching and practice on admonishing and beating wives and withdrawing sexual favors from them is in line with the latest achievements of clinical psychology. It is apparently not only correct but positively beneficial to them because “women’s rebelliousness (nushuz) is a medical condition based on either her masochistic delight in being beaten o and tortured, or a sadistic desire to hurt and dominate her husband.” 20

The Sword and the Prophet proved to be a well documented and cited brutal critique of both the current and ancient Islamic faith and state. Jews, Christians, and well intentioned secularists are presented with significant challenges after succumbing to the force of Trifkovic’s case. The first of which is to place our own faiths under the same scrutiny and ask “How are we different?” and “Is the violent nature of Islam true of our own faiths?” Violence is not unique to Islam and the Jew and Christian may find themselves considerably hard pressed to account for the God ordained violence that took place in the Old Testament. Such included the slaughter of women and children. Trifkovic did make a cursory attempt to explain the ideological differences, but not in depth enough to be wholly convincing. Reciting 1500 years of unfathomable pain and suffering stirs the emotions and passions against its perpetrators. This should place a tremendous burden on Jews and Christians to explain the differences, yet we come across so little explanation in the pulpits.

Trifkovic also challenges us to question the limits of our tolerance. Merely stating “No intolerance allowed!” is an intellectually vacuous position. Bumper sticker sloganeering about world peace and unity of and by world religions is naïve position. We must accept that the Islamic state ultimately seeks world submission to its state laws. We must come to terms with the fact that our freedom and the Islamic state are diametrically opposed. Freedoms will not be protected by political correctness which entails denying a significant problem. Regarding “the massive migratory process” taking place by Muslims in France, Trifkovic states that:

“The moving spirit behind the project is in Muhammad’s homeland, and the fuel that makes it possible is oil The Muslim World League was founded in Mecca in 1962 and a decade later the Organization of the Islamic Conference- a kind of Islamic Comintern- with its headquarters in Jeddah. Both organizations, and a myriad of ostensibly private charities devoted to Islamic proselytism, are richly endowed by petrodollars from Saudi Arabia’s narrow, ultra rich ruling elite. Its members provide aid to countries willing to follow the path of Islamization, and build Mosques wherever they can. They send missionaries, provide literature, and run electronic media. The MWL runs the world’s largest printing presses, producing tens of millions of copies of the Kuran every year for worldwide distribution…..The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia also remains the most intolerant Islamic regime in the world. Within Saudi Arabia, the practice of any religion besides Islam is as strictly prohibited as not as it was in Muhammad’s lifetime.” 21

Trifkovic insists that Muslims must be

“westernized- that is to say, made as willing as Christians to see their religion first relativized, then mocked, and it commandments misrepresented or ignored- or else Christianized, which of course cannot happen unless there is a belated, massive, and unexpected recovery of Western spiritual and moral strength. If neither of those scenarios works, the West faces two alternatives: defense or submission and acceptance of sacred Arab places as its own.” 22

Political correctness is such an increasingly well entrenched belief among Americans that the likelihood of making a strong resistance to Muslim insurgence is slim. Little discussion is taking place at the national level indicating anything of a threat is recognized. Trifkovic rightly states that Islam must be understood not as mere a set of religious beliefs but as a legal and political body that demands the supervision as any other violent cult. He further advocates limiting immigration from Islamic states and that the Kuran should be taken as seriously as Mein Kampf.

 

References:

  1. Trifkovic, Serge. The Sword of the Prophet (Regina Orthodox Press: Boston) 2002 p7
  2. Ibid. p11
  3. Ibid. p30
  4. Ibid. p31
  5. Ibid. p31
  6. Ibid p33
  7. Ibid p38
  8. Ibid. p41
  9. Ibid. p48
  10. Ibid. p58
  11. Ibid.p59
  12. Ibid p64
  13. Ibid. p84
  14. Ibid. p85
  15. Ibid. p89
  16. Ibid. p112-113
  17. Ibid. p117
  18. Ibid. p143
  19. Ibid. p143
  20. Ibid. p157
  21. Ibid. p242
  22. Ibid. p295

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