Recently, on May 21, “Quds Day,” the Tehran Times—which bills itself as “Iran’s Leading International Daily” and was founded in 1979, the year of the Islamic Revolution—featured a piece underscoring the fact that rewriting history is every bit an Islamist tactic as it is a leftist one.
Two themes—both lies—permeate “A Zionism-free world on strategic agenda of International Quds Day,” written by one Mohammad Hossein Niknam: 1) that Islam was an advanced and much “welcomed” force, and 2) that the West is the evil originator of colonialism. Both are well represented in the following excerpt:
Colonialism has experienced a bitter confrontation with the Islamic civilization. Following the emergence of Islam and its spread across the region, a powerful civilization was formed with its own cultural, scientific, military, and economic characteristics. Wherever the newly-formed civilization arrived it was welcomed by the hosting nations. The West, which was seemingly Christian but in fact was materialistic and profit-seeking had found the new civilization as an obstacle to its colonial projects.
Back in the real world, it is Islam that “colonized”—not to mention permanently conquered—the majority of the pre-Islamic Christian world, the predecessor of today’s West. This was done over the course of more than a millennium of violent jihads. The atrocities and mass slavery recorded in the chronicles of the times—both Muslim and non-Muslim—make ISIS-style atrocities seem tame.
As for the obscene claim that “Wherever the newly-formed civilization [of Islam] arrived it was welcomed by the hosting nations,” perhaps it’s best to consider the words of those who actually witnessed Islam’s “arrival.”
After recording numerous horrific atrocities committed during the Muslim invasion of Christian Egypt beginning around 640, John of Nikiu, an eyewitness, concluded as follows: “But let us now say no more, for it is impossible to describe the horrors the Muslims committed.”
About a century later, after explaining how Muslim governor Musa bin Nusayr “invaded Spain to destroy it. He ruined beautiful cities, burning them with fire; condemned lords and powerful men to the cross; and butchered youths and infants with the sword…. He terrorized everyone,” the Latin Chronicle of 754 also concluded in resigned frustration: “Who can relate such perils? Who can enumerate such grievous disasters? Even if every limb were transformed into a tongue, it would be beyond human nature to express the ruin of Spain and its many and great evils.”
Three centuries later, after recounting numerous examples of the Islamic terrorization of Armenia at the hands of Turks beginning around 1040, Matthew of Edessa also threw up his hands in despair: “How to relate here, with a voice stifled by tears, the death of nobles and clergy whose bodies, left without graves, became the prey of carrion beasts, the exodus of women of high birth led with their children into Persian slavery and condemned to an eternal servitude! That was the beginning of the misfortunes of Armenia. So, lend an ear to this melancholy recital.”
So much, then, for Iran’s claim that Islam merely “spread” and was “welcomed by the hosting nations.” Indeed, two of the three nations discussed above—Egypt and Spain—are often the ones that Muslims boast were most eager to “welcome” Islam.
As for Jerusalem, Tehran Times’ main topic, here are the recorded thoughts of Sophronius, the Holy City’s patriarch who was present during its conquest by Islam around 637: “The vengeful and God-hating Saracens … overrun the places which are not allowed to them, plunder cities, devastate fields, burn down villages, set on fire the holy churches, [and] overturn the sacred monasteries.”
Equally warped—or projected—are Tehran Times’ depictions of the West as being, both past and present, a colonial force responsible for the Islamic world’s contemporary dysfunctionality.
In reality, European powers colonized the Muslim world for only about a century—compared to the more than a millennium of jihadi depredations and conquests Europe had earlier experienced. Moreover, European rule in the Muslim world had an altruistic component—the so-called “White Man’s Burden”—to civilize and help Muslims break away from their tribal mentality of exclusively subsisting on “the other,” the infidel. Thus, whereas jihads often culminated in slavery, depopulation, and devastation, European colonialists abolished slavery and introduced their Muslim subjects to the boons of modernity, scientific and medicinal advances, and the radical concepts of democracy and religious freedom.
“In a word,” writes a Copt around the turn of the twentieth century concerning British rule, “we say that the Egyptian State was at the highest degree of justice and good order and arrangement. And it removed religious fanaticism, and almost established equality between its subjects, Christian and Muslim, and it eliminated most of the injustice, and it realized much in the way of beneficial works for the benefit of all the inhabitants.”
In fact, under the West’s cultural influence the Muslim world flourished and advanced as never before; and the argument can be made that it is the pusillanimous retreat of Western influence—or capitulation to relativism and its many offspring (e.g., multiculturalism)—that has caused the Muslim world to descend back to poverty, chaos, and terrorism.
In the end, none of these well-documented facts matter for Iran’s Islamic leaders. In order to present Israel and its Western allies as the root cause of the world’s problems, they have no choice but to rewrite history—just as leftists in the West regularly do—and in ways that beggar belief.
Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center; a Judith Rosen Friedman Fellow at the Middle East Forum; and a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.