Raymond Ibrahim’s Sword and Scimitar, which I just completed reading, is a singular modern achievement. The author combines lucid scholarship with nearly extinct modern intellectual courage when it comes to analyzing Islam’s 14-century, ongoing history of predatory jihad warfare against Christendom. As the late Islamologist Maxime Rodinson warned (p.59) almost a half-century ago, the dominant — and anti-intellectual — trend in the “academic” study of Islam has become this:
Understanding has given away to apologetics pure and simple.
Among Ibrahim’s almost interminable litany of salient examples demonstrating this corrosive phenomenon is a brief allusion to the first American edition of the Koran, printed in Springfield, Massachusetts, in October 1806. A September 12, 2010 Boston Globe op-ed by an Ivy League academic averred that this 1806 Koran, included within John Adams’ personal collection of books, reflected the second U.S. president’s “worldly” ecumenism. The editorialist further insisted that Adam’s inclusion of the 1806 Koran in his own library illustrated how “the Founders were way ahead of us,” having “read the Koran, and studied Islam with a calm intelligence that today’s over-hyped Americans can only begin to imagine.”
Ibrahim demolishes this particular apologetic strain of “analysis,” first and foremost, by simply citing what the 1806 Koran’s own opening editorial note “TO THE READER” (reproduced in full, below) actually states:
[The introduction] makes clear, its [the 1806 Koran’s] publication was not for the “cultural enrichment” of Americans — as is often claimed today — but to inform them why they had been at war [i.e., against Barbary Muslim jihad piracy] for the last four years.
This book is a long conference of God, the angels, and Mahomet, which the false prophet very grossly invented … Thou wilt wonder that such absurdities hath infected the better part of the world, and wilt avouch, that the knowledge of what is contained in this book, wilt render that law [i.e., Islamic law, the Sharia] contemptible.
Barbary Muslim jihad piracy fit squarely within Islam’s timeless jihad against the non-Muslim infidel, as expressed with candor to then-U.S. diplomats John Adams and Thomas Jefferson during their 1786 meeting with the Tripolitan [Libyan] ambassador Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja. These future American presidents were attempting to negotiate a peace treaty which would spare the United States the ravages of jihad piracy — murder, enslavement (with ransoming for redemption), and expropriation of valuable commercial assets — emanating from the Barbary states (i.e., in addition to Algeria, modern Morocco, Tunisia, and Libya, known collectively in Arabic as the Maghrib).
During their discussions, they questioned Ambassador Adja as to the source of the unprovoked animus directed at the fledgling United States republic. Jefferson and Adams, in their subsequent report to the Continental Congress, recorded the Tripolitan Ambassador’s justification:
[T]hat it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise [i.e., Islam’s cosmic brothel], per Koran.
Americans, New Englanders, were captured and enslaved by Algerian jihad pirates dating back to 1640, during the colonial era. Abolitionist and Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner (1811-1874), in his 1853 White Slavery in the Barbary States documented the following accounts, quoting from 17th Century New England town records and letters:
[I]n 1640, “one Austin a man of good estate,” returning discontented to England from Qunipiack [Qunnipiac], now New Haven [Connecticut], on his way “was taken by the Turks, and his wife and family were carried to Algiers, and sold there as slaves.”
Instances now thicken. A ship, sailing from Charlestown [Rhode Island], in 1678, was taken by a corsair [naval jihadist], and carried into Algiers, whence its passengers and crew never returned. They probably died in slavery. Among these was Dr. Daniel Mason, a graduate of Harvard College, and the earliest of that name on the list; also James Ellison, the mate. The latter, in a testamentary letter addressed to his wife, and dated at Algiers, June 30, 1679, desired her to redeem out of captivity two of his companions.
At the same period William Harris, a person of consequence in the colony, one of the associates of Roger Williams in the first planting of Providence, and now in the sixty-eighth year of his age, sailing from Boston for England on public business, was also taken by a corsair, and carried into Algiers. On the 23rd February, 1679, this veteran … together with all the crew were sold into slavery. The fate of his companions is unknown; but Mr. Harris, after remaining in this condition more than a year, obtained his freedom at the cost of $1200, called by him “the price of a good farm.”
American John Foss chronicled his own seizure at sea in a trading frigate, October 25, 1793, by Algerian naval jihadists while en route from Newburyport, Massachusetts, to Cadiz, southwestern Spain. Entitled, “A journal, of the captivity and sufferings of John Foss; several years a prisoner at Algiers,” (published 1798), the book describes what Foss and his fellow seamen were told by their Algerian jihadist captor Rais Hudga Mahomet Salamia:
[N]ow you are slaves and must be treated as such, and do not think that you will be treated worse than you really deserve, for your bigotry and superstition in believing in a man who was crucified by the Jews, and disregarding the true doctrine of God’s last and greatest prophet, Mahomet.
Foss was held in captivity under brutally abhorrent conditions and put to hard labor in Algiers and its vicinity for two years until the nascent American government ransomed him and the surviving members of his captured vessel, The Polly.
Foss’s plight and other telling observations of Algerian Muslim society were recounted as historian and scholar of the Barbary Muslim enslavers, Robert C. Davis, has acknowledged, in a reliable, credible manner — an “unembellished, Yankee way of laying out a tale, however horrific its details.” The narrator, Foss, explicitly preempts any criticism that the account might somehow have exaggerated his travails given the nature of Islamic doctrine and practice, certainly by the Muslim votaries of Algeria:
Some of my descriptions of the treatment of the Captives may appear rather wire-drawn, but then my readers ought to be informed that these merciless Barbarians are taught by their religion to treat the Christian Captives with unexampled cruelty, and that in so doing they do God a service! Hence to expect pity or commiseration from those sons of Ishmael would be as absurd, as to expect a shrubbery from the burning deserts, or cooling streams, from the parched plains of Arabia.
Foss’s narrative included a summary of Algerian Muslim punishments for, and hateful attitudes/behaviors towards non-Muslims, specifically, Christian slaves and Jews. The latter were not enslaved, but lived as segregated and humiliated “dhimmi” under the Sharia [per Koran 9:29; see pp. 127ff], while their very lives were always in a parlous state:
The punishments [of Christian slaves] for small offenses are bastinadoes … They have different punishments for capital offenses, sometimes they are burned, or rather roasted alive. At other times they are impaled. This is done by placing the criminal upon a sharp iron stake and thrusting it up the posteriors, by his back until it appears at the back of his neck.
For being found in company with a Mahometan woman he is beheaded, and the woman is put into a sack and carried about a mile at sea, and thrown overboard, with a sufficient quantity of rocks, or a bomb, to sink her. For suspicion of being with one, the slave is castrated, and the woman bastinadoed.
A slave for murder of another slave is immediately beheaded. But for murder of a Mahometan he is cast off from the walls of the city upon iron hooks, which are fastened into the wall about half way down. These catch by any part of the body that happens to strike them, and sometimes they hang in this manner, in the most exquisite agonies for several days together before they expire. But should the part that catches, not be strong enough to hold them (for sometimes this is the case, and the flesh tears out) they fall to the bottom of the wall and are dashed to pieces upon sharp stones, placed for this purpose.
If a slave endeavors to make his escape and is brought back, they are nailed to a gallows, by one hand and the opposite foot, and in this they expire in the most despicable torture. But this method is not always practiced for desertion, for sometimes they are only bastinadoed, at other times they are beheaded …
A slave for speaking disrespectfully of the Mahometan Religion, is impaled or burnt — For striking a Turk he is executed in the same manner. … A Jew for different offenses hath various punishments; similar to those of the Christian slaves, and not with less severity. Such is the gross indignation the Mahometans bear toward the Jewish religion, that a Turk may with impunity (if he flees to a Marabout Mosque, or pay a small penalty), murder ten of them.
If he kills the eleventh, he is strangled, no Mosque or penalty will execute him: Nothing will save his life, except he is pardoned by the Dey, whose word is absolute. A slave may with the same impunity, beat and abuse them in the streets as he passes. While the poor Israelites are not allowed to lift their hand in their own defense, on penalty of having it cut off. All the consolation they will have, in such cases, from the Mahometans, is encouragement for the slaves to continue their abuse. I have known fifty in one day to receive five hundred bastinadoes each for being found with a red sash about their waists. As they are not allowed to wear any color except black.
The collective experiences of colonial era Americans from the mid-17th Century, through early American citizens shortly after our nation’s birth at end of the 18th Century, such as John Foss, reflect the timeless “logic” of jihad. Islam’s sanction for this uniquely Muslim institution of permanent warfare and subjugation is clearly articulated in the Koran, including the October 1806 Koran published in Springfield, Massachusetts.
As Ibrahim’s Sword and Scimitar concludes:
Thus , the United States’ first war — which erupted before it could even elect its first president and intermittently lasted some thirty-two years — was against Islam: and the latter had initiated hostilities on the same rationale that had been used to initiate hostilities for the preceding 1200 years.
Blinding ourselves — or allowing academic, media, and political “elites” to obfuscate the tragic and dangerous living legacy of jihad, for us — continues to put basic American security at unnecessary risk.