Bernard Lewis continues his extremely puzzling journey into Edward Saidism. I was traveling when his Jerusalem Post interview appeared several weeks ago, but Hugh Fitzgerald pointed out some of its strangest features here, and Andrew Bostom weighed in here. As Hugh and Andy both point out, his words are contradicted by clear statements of Islamic authorities and passages in Islamic authoritative texts. What he says in that interview strongly echoes apologetic statements made by Islamic spokesmen in the West — statements that have no basis in Islamic doctrine or history, and that is fact of which he, of all people, should be aware.
And here is yet another strange statement, although it’s possible that here he was misquoted, since this is a small community newspaper and the same article at one point renders “Jews” as “dues” — perhaps indicating a high degree of incomprehension on the reporter’s part. But taking it as it is, it is odd on many levels. More below.
“Lewis, Prager Share Their Knowledge On ‘Final Jihad,'” by: Jenny DeHuff for The Bulletin (thanks to the Constantinopolitan Irredentist):
Philadelphia – Two great thinkers put their heads together for a lecture, “Clash of Civilizations, the Final Jihad,” at the University of Pennsylvania last night.
Sharing their worldviews on Islam, Christianity and Judaism were renowned authors Bernard Lewis and Dennis Prager, a syndicated columnist whose work appears in The Bulletin.
In helping Penn students better understand the state of affairs between western civilization and the Arabic world, Mr. Lewis, who has been a key advisor to President George W. Bush, said, in order for Americans to better grasp the complexity of how Muslim jihadists are able to carry out terrorist attacks, they need to realize that for Muslims, Islam is that which defines them.
“As they see it, the world is divided into two houses – the house of Islam and the house of unbelievers,” Mr. Lewis said.
“Throughout the middle ages, Christians and Muslims fought a great fight. This ongoing struggle, linked together by common beliefs, gave rise to this long succession of jihad and crusade, jihad and crusade.”…
Do Christians and Muslims really have “common beliefs”? If Dr. Lewis really said that, I would ask him to produce the Christian equivalent of this:
“Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” — Qur’an 9:29
It has been reported from Sulaiman b. Buraid through his father that when the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) appointed anyone as leader of an army or detachment he would especially exhort him to fear Allah and to be good to the Muslims who were with him. He would say: Fight in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah. Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war, do not embezzle the spoils; do not break your pledge; and do not mutilate (the dead) bodies; do not kill the children. When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them….If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah’s help and fight them. — Sahih Muslim 4294
It is reported on the authority of Abu Huraira that he heard the Messenger of Allah say: I have been commanded to fight against people, till they testify to the fact that there is no god but Allah, and believe in me (that) I am the messenger (from the Lord) and in all that I have brought. And when they do it, their blood and riches are guaranteed protection on my behalf except where it is justified by law, and their affairs rest with Allah. — Sahih Bukhari book 1, no. 31
And did this commonality of belief really give rise “to this long succession of jihad and crusade, jihad and crusade”?
The idea that jihad and crusade are essentially equivalent is historically absurd. The jihad began in the 620’s, and overwhelmed the Christian Middle East, Christian North Africa, and Christian Spain within a hundred years of Muhammad’s death in 632. The Christians in these lands were subjugated as dhimmis, and the cultures Islamized.
What did Christian Europe do? Nothing. Only 450 years later did the First Crusade begin. Did it win back all those lands the Islamic jihadists had conquered? No — with the exception of Spain, if the Reconquista is considered a Crusade as some do today. Did the Crusaders ever even try to win back any of the other lands that had been conquered and Islamized? Outside of the Holy Land, no. There were some Crusader territories in the Holy Land for about 200 years, and that was it. There was never any large-scale action against the Islamic world as the jihad had been a large-scale action against the Christian world. Even in those lands the Crusaders did conquer, they did not re-Christianize or compel the Muslims to stop practicing Islam — and as I show in my book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), one contemporary Muslim historian lamented that the Muslims in his day preferred to live in Crusader territories rather than in lands the Muslims ruled!
And a “long succession”? The Crusades began in 1095, and the last Crusader territory was conquered in 1291. Two hundred years. The jihad began in the seventh century and continues today.
The Crusades were, in sum, a small-scale and largely unsuccessful attempt not to counter the jihad, but to secure the Holy Land for Christian pilgrims and under Christian rule. For Lewis to imply that a Muslim wave was followed by an equal and opposite Christian wave and that the two warlike theologies jockeyed for power — that is just historical myth, and Bernard Lewis more than anyone else in the world knows that.