So then, you think WMDs and Islamophobic propaganda are a new phenomenon? Think again. Misrepresenting Islam and Muslims in the West is a long practised dark art.
Fearful of the rising power of the Islamic Empire in the East, which had by now absorbed almost all of the Eastern half of the Holy Roman Empire, with Baghdad and Constantinople at the heart of the region; Western forces justifiably paranoid of the threat of Islam, concocted a plan between the Vatican and the heads of the European dynasties. Mission Impossible. To boldly go on a mission to (re) capture Jerusalem and to ‘Christianise’ the Holy Lands. Did I say Christianise... I meant deliver salvation of course.
Historical revisionism! I hear you cry. What we can't deny is that Pope Urban II claimed that the Prophet Muhammad was the 'antichrist' (and not the head of Thorn Enterprises, the really nasty type). What we also can't deny is that the ensuing military campaigns sent murderous hoards from all corners of the Europe to the Holy Lands. An interesting mix of religious fervour but one nonetheless one compatible with rape, pillaging, plundering and mass murder en-route. The examples are legion and easily accessed. But how exactly can anyone garner support for such a campaign? Its easy really. Absolute power combined with propagandising the people of the West into believing that the Jew and the Christian were being subjugated and slaughtered at the hands of the Muslim barbarians.
"During the time that a crusader bore the cross, he was free from suit for his debts, and the interest on them was entirely abolished; he was exempted from taxes, and placed under the protection of the Church, so that he could not be pleaded in any civil court."
[Crimes of Christianity, Chapter IX - The Crusades, G W Foote & J M Wheeler]
Imagine the scene when Richard the Lionheart finally arrives at the hills surrounding Jerusalem (at the generosity and allowance of Salah' Uddin). It is reported that he wept. There were no massacres and no persecution of Jews and Christians - they were living side-by-side in peace under Islamic Rule. No WMDs. No link to Al Qaeda. Dodgy dossiers and corrupt intelligence.
What history tells us it that for those who believe, the Holy Lands are Head Office for God's prescribed religion; the cradle of humanity; home of the Prophets and where the Holy books were delivered. So why is it that so many miss the blatantly obvious? The fact that the entire region has been until very recently, overwhelmingly Muslim. It was only in the early part of the 20th century, that UK and US sponsorship provided a zionist foothold and platform for the Israeli state and a surge of Christians into the Levant.
Yes, shock horror. Muslims can and do co-exist with adherents from other faiths and of none. It's nothing new. This system of peaceful living is supported in the Qu'ran in many places. Arguably, Islam is the religion which most promotes a secular society - there is no compulsion in religion. Each to their own. The biggest injustice is however the fact that the right wing and fascist neo-cons can rest easily on their laurels; between Shariah, terrorism, oppression of women and many other mischiefs; the Muslims have more than enough on their hands untangling millennia old lies.
From the time of the holy Prophet, through the Umayyad, Abbasid to the Ottoman Empire the existence of Jews and Christians was not only tolerated but advocated under Shariah law. It is worthy of note that these categorisations are 'labels' propagated by Western historians: they all relate to one simple nation, the Islamic nation but not we should add - the Ummah. The notion of an Islamic entity is a recent development, going back to the time of the holy Prophet (pbuh), the Ummah was also said to include non-Muslims. It was the community in the broader sense, and with Muslims if they are doing their jobs properly, taking a social, economic, political and transformative lead.
Even after the Crusades, in spite of the mistreatment at the hands of the so-called Christians, the Islamic Ottoman Empire continued to actively adopt policies of lenient behaviours towards those with different faiths. The Ottoman Empire was often as a refuge for the Jews of Europe escaping persecution from Christians, whilst the Muslims relationship with the Orthodox Church was also peaceful. ‘Qanun’ law for the Christian and Jews ran alongside Shariah law but often Christian women opted to have their grievances heard under Shariah law as it favoured the position of women with regards to compensation, inheritance and legal rights of possession.
Islam was the key influencer behind the advent of science, agriculture, politics, education, the Renaissance and was a driving force behind the European resurgence which leads directly to the European ‘coffee house’ idealists, Newton, Greys Anatomy and to the Industrial Revolution. Spain went from being an arid desert to becoming the fruit garden of Europe under Islamic rule. Women were given the right to vote, inheritance and proprietary rights under Islam 1200 years before the West recognised any part of this issue.
In spite of this, throughout European (and now American) history, there has been and continues to this day a complete denial of the Islamic influence in the context of World history. Children in western schools are simply not taught of Islam’s influence on history, the enlightenment through Islamic jurisprudence or even a simple context to Islamic influence in the world. In the UK, the issue of Palestine and the Ottoman Empire being pulled into WWI is completely and surgically excised from the educational text books.
Islam is simply edited out from history. Unacknowledged. School kids never had a chance. We cannot even argue that it is a revisionist position as the history books never tell the full story in the first instance. In the libraries of the West, throughout the 19th and 20th centuries there was a massive upsurgence in anti-Islamic publications. There are little or no books by Islamic authors of noteworthiness published and held for posterity in the majority of public libraries in the West.
The demonisation of Islam is not a new phenomenon but it is the biggest and most reprehensible misrepresentation in history. This started when the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) first took the message of Allah out to the masses. As I have stated, it started even before this – it was a battle against belief, not just Islam, although Islam is the purest form of the religion of the Prophets. A Muslim is one who submits to the will of Allah; Muslims regard all the Holy Prophets (pbut) to have submitted to the will of Allah, they were all persecuted for their beliefs.
Today we have the global media network, main stream media, corporate oligarchies and capitalist free markets economies. All perceive a threat by the advent of Islam. We have no conclusive proof of who committed 9/11, why the towers were ‘pulled’, why airplanes were modified, why steel melted at 800 degrees not 2,300 or the relevance of 'Operation Northwoods’. The pleas of the families for an inquiry are denied and the evidence has in the majority, been completely destroyed. However, any straw poll will almost entirely state it was the Moozlims.
The Muslims of today are being put under an intolerable amount of suffering; they face persecution and oppression the world over in almost all of the high-Muslim population countries. Imperialistic forces continue the age old tried and tested tradition of divide and conquer. Hand in hand with a war of words, a battle for the hearts and minds of the West, a continuing aggression against the Muslim world. Israel, arguably a terrorist state, is overwhelmingly core funded through the US and holocaust reparations. We need not list Israeli atrocities other than to say that according to the Book of Moses, the Jews are utterly prohibited from oppressing another people, having been oppressed themselves. They are meant to wander without a land. They are in the main European, Ashkenazim, Khazar, non-Sephardic and non-Semitic Jews.
Despite all of this, we have to be optimistic. After all, it's fixable. Whilst some argue fatalistically that we are hurtling towards the end of days with no respite in sight, I am not amongst them. Ultimately to even begin to understand why the image of Islam is so misconceived, we need to look at the greater context.