“I found that the history of Islam was completely different from what we were taught at school.”
There is a concerted effort to whitewash the bloody history of jihad and mislead people about the history of Islam in general. Take a small example: the Sphinx’s nose. It was destroyed not by Napoleon’s troops in target practice (as goes the common story), but by the Muslim precursors of the Islamic State. In a rare moment of candor, Russia Today noted in 2015:
“Attacks on the Sphinx date back centuries. Despite many legends surrounding the monument’s missing nose – with harm from Napoleon’s cannon being among the most popular myths – historians believe it was actually destroyed by Sufi Muslim Muhammad Sa’im al-Dahr in the 14th century, after he learned that some peasants worshipped the Sphinx.”
Many of the incidents of Muslim destruction of artifacts are ascribed to Infidels, in keeping with the general tendency of Islamic supremacists to blame everyone but themselves for their own wrongdoing. In Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History, Robert D. Kaplan repeats uncritically what he probably heard from local Muslims: that the icons in the local churches had their eyes scraped off because the superstitious local Christians had taken them to mix in health potions.
It is, however, virtually inconceivable that Orthodox believers, even the most ignorant and superstitious, would desecrate icons in this way. It is much more likely that the icons had no eyes because Islamic authorities consider that it is sufficient to destroy the representation of the face in order to ruin the image as a representation of the human form. And that’s why the nose of the Sphinx was gone long before Napoleon’s troops ever had target practice.
Then there is the persistent myth of a tolerant, peaceful al-Andalus, supposedly a paradise of proto-multiculturalism under Muslim rule. Reality does not at all match politically correct fantasy. Even Maria Rosa Menocal, in her romantic and fantastic hagiography of Muslim Spain, The Ornament of the World, acknowledges the second-class status to which Jews and Christians were relegated there. “In return for this freedom of religious conscience the Peoples of the Book (pagans had no such privilege) were required to pay a special tax–no Muslims paid taxes–and to observe a number of restrictive regulations: Christians and Jews were prohibited from attempting to proselytize Muslims, from building new places of worship, from displaying crosses or ringing bells. In sum, they were forbidden most public displays of their religious rituals.”
According to historian Richard Fletcher, “Moorish Spain was not a tolerant and enlightened society even in its most cultivated epoch.” On December 30, 1066, about four thousand Jews in Granada were murdered by rioting Muslim mobs–more than would be killed in the Crusaders’ infamous Rhineland pogroms of the mid-twelfth century. What enraged the Granadan Muslims was the political power of the Jewish vizier Samuel ibn Naghrila and his son Joseph: the mob resented the fact that these men had authority over Muslims, which they saw as a “breach of sharia.” The mob was incited to kill the Jews by a poem composed by Muslim jurist Abu Ishaq: “I myself arrived in Granada and saw that these Jews were meddling in its affairs. … So hasten to slaughter them as a good work whereby you will earn God’s favor, and offer them up in sacrifice, a well-fattened ram.”
The mob heeded his call. A Muslim chronicler (and later sultan of Granada), ‘Abd Allah, said that “both the common people and the nobles were disgusted by the cunning of the Jews, the notorious changes they had brought in the order of things, and the positions they occupied in violation of their pact [of second-class status].” He recounted that the mob “put every Jew in the city to the sword and took vast quantities of their property.”
This whitewash of history in general is for the purposes of dawah. But sometimes, as in this case, Johannes, a Muslim who was raised with these kinds of falsehoods, discovers the truth, and they have the opposite effect.
“European churches say growing flock of Muslim refugees are converting,” by Harriet Sherwood and Philip Oltermann, Guardian, June 5, 2016 (thanks to Rod):
A growing number of Muslim refugees in Europe are converting to Christianity, according to churches, which have conducted mass baptisms in some places.
Reliable data on conversions is not available but anecdotal evidence suggests a pattern of rising church attendance by Muslims who have fled conflict, repression and economic hardship in countries across the Middle East and central Asia.
Complex factors behind the trend include heartfelt faith in a new religion, gratitude to Christian groups offering support during perilous and frightening journeys, and an expectation that conversion may aid asylum applications.
At Trinity church in the Berlin suburb of Steglitz, the congregation has grown from 150 two years ago to almost 700, swollen by Muslim converts, according to Pastor Gottfried Martens. Earlier this year, churches in Berlin and Hamburg reportedly held mass conversions for asylum seekers at municipal swimming pools.
The Austrian Catholic church logged 300 applications for adult baptism in the first three months of 2016, with the Austrian pastoral institute estimating 70% of those converting are refugees.
At Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral in the UK, a weekly Persian service attracts between 100 and 140 people. Nearly all are migrants from Iran, Afghanistan and elsewhere in central Asia.
One in four confirmations conducted by the bishop of Bradford, Toby Howarth, over the past year were of converts from Islam. Most were Iranian and most of those were asylum seekers.
Mohammad Eghtedarian, a curate at Liverpool Cathedral and a refugee from Iran who converted to Christianity and was later ordained, said the church was helping people to develop their faith and to apply for refugee status. “These two are intertwined. Most people apply for asylum on the basis of their religion,” he said.
His own journey, from the Iranian city of Shiraz to the UK, took him through half a dozen European countries, by truck, train and on foot. Destitute and terrified, he was offered practical and emotional support from Christians along the way….
Johannes, another Iranian, left Tehran for Vienna. Born into a Muslim family, the 32-year-old – who was previously called Sadegh – began questioning the roots of Islam at university. “I found that the history of Islam was completely different from what we were taught at school.
“A religion that began with violence cannot lead people to freedom and love. Jesus Christ said ‘those who use the sword will die by the sword’. This really changed my mind.”
Johannes began the process of converting to Christianity in Iran. He was ambushed with a group of others leaving a bible class but managed to escape and went into hiding. When the Austrian visa he had already applied for came through, he left the country.
Now waiting for the outcome of his asylum application, he has not told his parents of his conversion: only his sister knows his “secret”.
Authorities say there are about 90,000 Christians in Iran, though some human rights organisations put their number as high as 500,000. While Iranian law does not order the death penalty for converting from Islam to another faith, courts have handed down death sentences based on interpretation of Sharia law and legal opinions issued by religious leaders….
The Church of England does not collate figures on conversion. “This can be a delicate issue and we want to be sensitive to the backgrounds that people are from,” said Howarth….
Yes. People with backgrounds in a religion that mandates death for apostasy present a difficult challenge indeed.