PART ONE ON ISLAM’S DANGERS COMPARATIVELY VIEWED
Islamic Domination And Armed Expansion
For 1100 Years and Then Endless Decline
The Start of Militarized Imperialism
Islamic conquests of non-Muslim countries started in just a year or two after Muhammad's death in 632, with Arab militaries --- on fast-moving ponies and in slower infantry --- going on a religious rampage in the Levant (held by the formidable Byzantine Empire) and in the vast Persian Empire. The efforts to conquer "heathen" countries and, where encountered, to destroy their military resistance and set up Muslim rule over the subject peoples went on for 11 centuries, expanding Islam in immense areas of the world 1100 years. In those 1100 years, the dominant Muslim colonialists varied in ethnicity. Sometimes the leaders were Arabs and Berbers. Sometimes it was Ottoman Turks, or Tatar Mongolians in Russia, or new Turkish-Moguls in India, and a combination (as with later European colonizers) of clerics, soldiers, traders, and bureaucrats that expanded Islam throughout Central and Southeast Asia.
In the process, Muslims ruled over Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, and pagans galore. The invasions and conquests started, to repeat, in the early 7th century and went on until the end of the 17th century.
Well, from 1700 onward, Islam in whichever power-laden guise it still assumed --- the Ottoman Empire, the Persian Empire, the Turkish-Moguls in India (in power as the rulers from 1528 to the mid-18th century, followed by British rule) --- fell farther and farther behind Europe on every important measure of creativity, power, and influence . . . whether in economic growth, in science and technology (civilian or military), in literacy and education, in medicine, and what have you. Not to forget the entire industrial revolution, created in Britain first from the mid-18th century on.
The result of this growing backwardness? In the early 19th century, European colonialism quickly overran Islam almost everywhere --- even as the last Muslim Empire (the Ottomans) lost all of their European possessions in the Balkans, North Africa, and, eventually, in the Arabian Peninsula by the end of WWI. Not to forget Zionist immigrants who created the new state of Israel in 1948, followed in May of that year by Arab armies --- far outnumbering the Israelis --- going to war in 1948, 1967, and 1973 and always being vanquished. What could be more humiliating than that? Jews regarded as dhimmi cowards in Muslim countries for more than 14 centuries, right down to 1948 and with no powerful foreign countries to try rescuing them the way Christian dhimmis could count on from European Christian militaries.
Sidebar Clarification of Dhimmitude: Dhimmis were protected minorities captured when Arabs and later other Muslim Empires conquered non-Muslim countries in jihad wars. On this count, Muslims did better in allowing Jewish and Christian subordinate minorities to remain in their home-countries than Christian countries did in extending control over Jews and Muslims in Europe . . . at any rate until the 17th and 18th centuries. Remember though: when Islamic rule was established over the conquered non-Muslim populations, its system of government controlled not just political, legal, and military matters, but all social, ethnic, religious, economic, cultural, and family life as well . . . family life covering the entire treatment of women by men. That was the aim of Sharia-law. It encompassed all the various ways of life, no exceptions.
And though there were variations in imposing sharia law across different regions of Islam, its advantage was the creation of one common civilization --- or, to be more accurate, an advantage but also a similarly rigid brake on the ability of dozens of various Muslim countries to experiment with distinct ways to overcome Islam's steady downfall and backwardness and modernize to catch up with Western civilizations after 1700.
Anything else? Yes: conquered peoples had three choices when Islam overran it. 1) They could convert to Islam; 2) Stay in the country as second- and often third-class submissive minorities --- as long as they paid the yearly jizya tax --- that could be as high as 80% of the revenue earned by the dhimmis or 3) Emigrate without taking any assets out of the Muslim ruled countries. Actually there was a fourth alternative: death, but it didn't seem to have much appeal.
And now on to a deeper look at Islam's 1100 years of conquest and expansion around much of the globe (save in the Americas and the rest of the "New World"), followed by its non-stop decline and multiple setbacks in contending with Western civilization's rapid modernization after 1700.
ISLAM'S RISE IN POWER AND INFLUENCE
632 C.E. -- 1700 C.E.
1) START WITH LARGE ARAB CONQUESTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA IN THE 7th AND 8th CENTURIES
The Initial Targets were the Byzantine and Persian Empires
The first Muslim conquests were carried out by Arabs first starting in the 630's C.E. and lasting for about 6 centuries. The first areas to be invaded and ruled over were significant parts of the Byzantine Empire in the Holy Land and the rest of the Levant, plus, not long afterwards, parts of southern Russia and all of Egypt and North Africa. Almost simultaneously as these conquest occurred on Byzantine territory was the total conquest of the massive Persian Empire. (Note that the Levant refers to these modern day countries: Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, and Israel, but not the Arabian desert areas from which the Arabs hailed, nor Turkey.)
.....Sidebar Clarification: The Byzantine Empire, Greek-speaking --- though with Latin the official language until the 7th century --- was created by the Roman Emperor Diocletian around 300 C.E. He split the Empire into two parts because the increasing wars with Germanic and other Tribal Warriors along the vast porous frontiers of the gigantic Empire clearly indicated to him that it was too unwieldy for one Emperor and his chief advisers to rule effectively . The Byzantine Empire itself existed a good thousand years after the Western Roman Empire collapsed in the 5thcentury. In 634, Arab militaries invaded the Byzantine territory, destroyed its rule in the Levant (more on this later), and continued their wars with the Byzantines for three centuries more. In their initial invasion of the Greco-Roman Empire, the Arabs conquered, fairly swiftly, almost all the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa (it too under Byzantine rule.
As for the Persian Empire, it was ruled from 224 C.E. to 633 C.E. by the Sassanid dynasty. 633 C.E. was the year when the Arab jihadi military first showed on Imperial soil. Until then, the Persian Empire had been considered the equal in power, span, and influence of both the Western and Easter Roman Empires. The Sassanid dynasty was only the third ruling family regime in the long history of the Persian Empire, during which, among its numerous foes, it fought repeated wars with the Roman and Byzantine Empires. How big actually was the Persian Empire?
By 632 C.E. the Sassanids had expanded their rule to the Empire's greatest immensity ever. in square miles, to be more specific, the Persian Empire spanned over 2.5 million square miles. Currently, to grasp this mammoth size, consider that the USA 48 Continental states add up to around 3.0 million square miles. Persian dominance included much of the Arabian Peninsula, parts originally of the Byzantine Empire, and northward on the other side of the Black Sea, much of the Caucasus . . .the source today, needless to say, of a limited war between Russia and Ukraine.
How did the Arabs overrun two powerful empires so quickly?
The chief reason: the Romans and later the Byzantines and the Persians had been fighting for centuries, and more to the point, by 633 C.E. they had been slugging away in a new war lasting off and on for several decades. The predictable result: when the Arab militaries marched into their lands that year, the two empires’ armies were exhausted and noticeably weakened. Worse yet, both the Persians and Byzantines dismissed the invading Arabs as contemptible backward desert peoples with little fighting spirit and even less knowledge of tactical military doctrine for fighting and winning battles.
Yikes! Never a good idea for any military to underestimate an enemy's long-term strategy and, even worse, its tactical preparation for battles. The Byzantine and Persian dismissal of the Arab forces invading their territories --- with fast-moving cavalry and infantries --- proved calamitous.
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