Really interesting article on the history of Islamic Imperialism by an expert, Efraim Karsh, who is the head of Mediterranean Studies at Kings College, University of London. Just a couple of reminders about Islamic history while we're on the subject. These are facts most westerners don't know or don't remember but which seem particularly important given our current history.
- During his life Mohammad had begun the conquest of the Arabian peninsula but after he died the Islamic empire's expansion exploded in an almost unbelievable way. The Islamic armies conquered most of what used to be the Roman empire, reaching from India to Spain within a hundred years of Mohammed's death.
- The populations conquered by the Moslem armies were for the most part Christian. The Christians were not forced to convert to Islam but were forced to submit to second class citizenship, i.e. "Dhimmis," those who had entered into peace treaties with the Islamic Armies. They were taxed, kept from building new churches or repairing old ones. It was against the law for the Christians to evangelize. They could not serve in certain jobs etc. The result was that the Christian population of the invaded countries virtually disappeared. It's amazing to me that there are still Christians in Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Iran. What a testament to their faithfulness.
- Islam was on the verge of conquering all of Europe, invading France from their colony in Spain, when they were defeated at the Battle of Tours on Oct. 10, 732 by Charles Martel, Charles the Hammer.
- The Islamic invasions continued under several different dynasties. During this period the armies of Islam kept picking away at Europe sometimes gaining ground sometimes loosing it. Sicily was conquered. Rome was sacked. Athens was invaded. Bulgaria was conquered etc., etc., etc. The most successful of the muslim dynasties were the Turks, who under Suleiman The Magnificent marched an army of 240,000 people to the gates of Vienna, Austria in 1529, but were unable to capture it. In 1672 the Turks attacked and subjugated Poland. (Now that's getting a little far north.) In 1683 the Turks again besieged Vienna but were routed.