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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Current Events > South Asia and World Terrorism

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South Asia and World Terrorism Discuss the War in Afghanistan, civil war in Pakistan, and events around the Indian sub-continent.

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Old 04 Sep 07, 18:40
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Islam - Jihad - GWOT

Many in the West tend to think of the World's religions as essentially the same, idealogies with dieties attached, differring only in minor details. Those more studied in History, which may be the case of many here, come to realize the differences are greater, hence the reason why "religious differences" have been major causes of conflict throughout history. A people's relgion has much to do with the shape of their culture and civilization and hence their view of the World/Cosmos and their place within such. The Religion of a Culture/Civilzation often becomes the main driver of their goals and dealings with other cultures/civilzations so a proper historical perspective requires an understanding of the substance and nuances of the religion of a culture/civilization in order to gauge who these people are and why they do what they do.

Many of us in the West used to have only a passing aquaintance with Islam, thinking of it as something similar to Judism or Christianity only with a different name for their Deity and a few quaint customs. After Sept. 11, 2001, some of us began to realize that perhaps we needed to look deeper into the substance of Islam. I know that was my case and the following will reflect some of that investigation of the past few years.

I'll present a mix of sources and materials from within Islam, for sake of getting it "from the horse's mouth" as one might say, as "pure" information as possible, as well as sources outside of Islam looking in from a Western perspective that hopefully helps bridge the conceptual gaps that exist between these to words, that presents Islamic concepts/dogma/scripture in a manner better grasped by 'the western mindset'.

For a start, one wishing to know/study Islam might wish to get a copy of the Koran/Qur'an translated into their own language. Muslims claim that one can only know and understand the Qur'an in its original arabic, that something conceptual is lost in the translation. One is left to wonder then why this would be the case of arabic and not other languages - after all, such is the case, most languages have phrases and expressions that often don't translate well into others. Still, since humanity speaks hundreds of languages, we all have to stumble along trying our best to translate back and forth and it's seldom that anything profound or major remains lost "in the translation".

More to the point, why would a Creator of all things and Knower of all things limit It's universal message to one of hundreds of languages when the message should be something so universal as to transcend all languages?!

Fortunately, not all Muslims view Islam as such a constrained theology and any major chain bookstore (Barnes&Noble, B.Daltons, etc.) usually has about a half-dozen of more translations of the Koran/Qur'an on it's shelves. A copy I use and recommend is one put out by;
Tahrike Tarsile Qur'an, Inc.
80-08 51st Avenue
Elmhurst, N.Y. 11373

A non-profit religious organization devoted to the dissemination of authentic knowledge of Islam; http://www.koranusa.org/
The 2003 edition I have is ISBN: 0-940368-18-8

I've also seen volumns that have Arabic on one page and the translated language on the other for comparrision and one may wish to get such eventually.

This thread is intended to provide ready reference to websites and articles that can be used as common ground and benchmarks to facility the many dialogues occurring on this board in which there seems to be some confusion and differences about Islam, the subset concept of Jihad, and how this factors into the 'so-called' "Global War On Terror"(GWOT).
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  #2  
Old 04 Sep 07, 19:22
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Islam - Basics

I'll start off with providing two websites that are comprehensive surveys/overviews of Islam, filled with numerous links to articles and other websites on specific issues/questions. Some of these links I'll detail in following posts here for convenience sake. This first one, is an "Islamic" sponsored website who's authenticity speaks for itself, and is obviously geared to "pitch" Islam in as accurate and possitive light to "the West" as possible;
http://www.islamworld.net/

THE SOLUTION TO ANY PROBLEM?
THERE IS NO DEITY WORTHY OF WORSHIP EXCEPT ALLAH, AND MUHAMMAD IS HIS MESSENGER

That which you have been given is but a fleeting comfort of this life. Better and more enduring is that which Allah has for those who believe and put their trust in Him; who avoid gross sins and indecencies and, when angered, are willing to forgive; who obey their Lord, attend to their prayers, and conduct their affairs by mutual consent; who bestow in alms a part of that which We have given them and, when oppressed, seek to redress their wrongs. [Al-Qur'an, Sura: 42 (Ash-Shura), Ayat: 36-39]

A general note about the Koran/Qur'an and it's format. Unlike the Bible, the Qur'an has only one author ~ Muhammad. It is organized by numbers of word length, except for the first chapter/book, known as "Sura" with the longest chapters/suras first going towards the last~shortest. Hence the above quote comes from the 42nd Sura/Chapter out of 114 total. Not being chronological in sequence, many will find that the Qur'an seems to hop about conceptually and thematically compared to the Bible and other religious texts.

For balance sake, here's a comparable comprehensive website on Islam written "from the outside, looking in" which provides a somewhat different perspective. For example, 'true-believing' Muslims consider the campaigns of conquest and conversion begun by Muhammad and continued by his successors to be wars of liberation and that becomes the Islamic view of their religions history comparred to the non-Islamic view.

http://religion-cults.com/Islam/islam.htm

Islam, quick survey

Islam was founded in 622 AD by Mohammed the Prophet, in the "Hegira", "Hijra", flight or migration from Mecca to Medina, Arabia, and marks the beginning of Islam and the Muslim calendar.
Islam, means "submission" or "surrender" to the will of the one God, Allah... but actually "Islam" is derived from the word "salam", which means primarily "peace" and in a secondary sense "surrender"... so, the full connotation of "Islam" is "the perfect peace that comes when one's life is surrendered to God".
Muslim (also spelled "Moslem"), is the corresponding adjective to Islam, and it means "he who submits" or "surrenders" to Allah... and in a full sense means "the perfect peace that comes to the one who surrenders his life to Allah"... however, the Koran speaks about the Muslims primarily as "the believers".
The sacred scripture of Islam is The Koran or Holy Quran which contains God's revelations to Mohammed. The Hadith and Sunnah. The Hadith: What Muhammad the prophet said and did. The Sunnah are the rules and regulations of Muslim life, with different "sharia" (norms of life). Holy Scriptures
Believes: Muslims follow a strict monotheism with one creator who is just, omnipotent and merciful. They also believe in Satan who drives people to sin, and that all unbelievers and sinners will spend eternity in Hell. Muslims who sincerely repent and submit to God will return to a state of sinlessness and go to Paradise after death. Alcohol, drugs, and gambling should be avoided and they reject racism. They respect the earlier prophets, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, but regard the concept of the divinity of Jesus as blasphemous and do not believe that he was executed on the cross.
The 5 Pillars of Islam: The Five Pillars of Islam: The religious obligations of all Muslims are summed up in the Five Pillars of Islam, and are:
1- Recite the shahadah the Profession of Faith, There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet. A Muslim is supposed to pray it at least once in his lifetime, but they actually pray it many times a day. The greatest phrase of the Arabic language: "La ilaha illa Allah", "there is no God but Allah".
2- Perform the salat , prayer 5 times a day while facing Mecca. The "Tasbih" ("Rosary"), or "Subha, is like the Catholics Rosary
3- Donate regularly to charity via the zakat, a 2.5% charity tax, and through additional donations to the needy.
4- Fast during the month of Ramadan, the month that Mohammed received the Qu'ran from Allah.
5- Make at least one pilgrimage to Mecca if economically and physically possible. 5 Pillars The Hajj The Hajj around Mecca
Branches: The two main divisions of Islam are the Sunni (90%) and the Shiite; the Wahabis are the most important Sunni sect, while the Shiite sects include the Assassins, the Druses, and the Fatimids, among numerous others. Another significant element in Islam is the mysticism known as Sufism. Baha'ism was founded in 1863 in Iran, with the desire "to unite mankind into one religion kingdom". Islam Branches

ABRAHAM is the "Father" of the three Great Western Religions: "Judaism", "Christianity", and "Islam".
ISLAM has a noble ancestry, having roots in the religions of both the Jews and the Christians. Perhaps the time has arrived when brothers and sisters of the Bible and of the Koran can find a common bond in mutual brotherhood and peace.
Islam is not only a "religion", but a "total way of life"; there is no distinction between the sacred and the secular, the religious leader is the political leader, and every aspect of the individual life should be Islam: Dress, food, and every detail of the family or social life... the way of living of the Muslims is similar to the way of living of the Jews, and one of the glories of Islam consists in having embodied the beautiful sentiment of Jesus into definite laws.
Islam is today the second largest religion of the world, after Christianity, with 1,100 million members (1995), and the fastest growing religion.
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Islam - Basics - Allah

Allah: God of the Muslims, of Islam

The most fundamental belief that a Muslim has is that "There is only One God" the Creator, the Sustainer -- known in the Arabic language and by Muslims as Allah. Allah is not a foreign god, nor an idol. Arabic-speaking Christians use the same word for the Almighty.

The fundamental pillar of faith in Islam is to testify that "there is no deity worthy of worship except the One True Almighty God" (in Arabic: "La ilaha ill Allah", "there is no God but Allah", the greatest statement of the Arabic language.

For the Muslims, Allah is the name of the One and Only God, Compassionate and Merciful. The Gracious, The Creator, The Sustainer, The Healer, The All-Knowing, The All-Wise, The Lord of the Universe, The First, The Last, and others. He is the Creator of all human beings. He is the God for the Christians, the Jews, the Muslims, the Buddhists, the Hindus, the atheists, and others. Muslims worship God whose name is Allah. They put their trust in Him and they seek His help and His guidance.
There are traditionally ninety-nine names, or attributes, that Muslims use to describe Allah's nature, 99 names of Allah The 99 Attributes of Allah

Indeed, it is beautiful and impressive the worship of the Muslims to Allah.

Some non-Muslims mistakenly believe that Allah is an "Arab god," a "moon god," or some sort of idol. Allah is the proper name of the One True God, in the Arabic language used by Muslims all over the world. Allah is a name that is neither feminine nor masculine, and it cannot be made plural (unlike god, gods, goddess, etc). Muslims believe that there is nothing in the heavens nor on earth that deserves worship except Allah, the One True Creator.

Islam is based on the concept of Tawhid, or Unity of God. Muslims are strictly monotheistic, and fiercely reject any attempt to make God visible or human. Islam rejects any form of idol worship, even if it is an attempt to get "closer" to God, and rejects the Trinity or any attempt to make God human.

http://religion-cults.com/allah.htm
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Islam - Basics - Holy Scriptures

1- The "Koran" or "Holy Quran": For the Muslims is the word of God as revealed to Muhammad.
The Koran, "recitations", is the cornerstone of the Muslim faith. It is for the Muslims the divine law of God as uttered by Allah himself in revelations to Muhammad... it is the only miracle God worked through Muhammad, his "standing miracle", as he called it... and he is the "seal of the Prophets".
The Koran is smaller than the New Testament, about 4/5 of it. It is divided into 114 chapters or "Sura", arranged in order of length of the Sura: Thus, Sura 2 has 286 verses, Sura 3 with 200, down to Sura 114, which has 6 verses. All except the first Chapter, the opening Sura.
The Holy Quran, in 23 languages
The Koran or Holy Quran, in 19 languages

2- The "Hadith": What Muhammad the prophet said and did:
The Hadith is the record of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The sayings and conduct of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) constitute the Sunnah.
The Hadith has come to supplement the Holy Quran as a source of the Islamic religious law. The Hadith is the second pillar after the Quran upon which every Muslim rests his faith. Hadith consists of Mat'n and Isnad. Mat'n means the text of the Hadith, while Isnad means the chain of transmitters to that Hadith. http://www.al-islam.org/short/alhadi...age1.html#what
The Hadith and Sunnah
The Prophet Muhammad's Last Sermon

3- The "Sunnah": The rules and regulations of Muslim life, with different "sharia" (norms of life):
Believes and Practices
http://www.al-islam.org/laws/ Islamic Laws and Practices
http://www.al-islam.org/laws/al-khui/ Islamic Laws of Ayatullah Khoei

4- The "Torah" of Moses, the Psalms of David, and the Gospel of Jesus (the Injil), accepted by the Koran, but considered "corrupted".

5- The interpreters of the Scriptures, are the "mullahs" or "ulemas", who serve as religious teachers and judges in the courts... the University of Al-Azhar in Cairo, Egypt, is considered to be the best institution for religious instruction and legal interpretation, the Sunni Islam's foremost seat of learning. In a sense, "Al-Azar" may be compared to the Vatican in Rome for the Christians.
When Napoleon attacked Egypt he looked upon Al-Azhar as the most well-known university in the whole Islamic world. During his exile at Saint. Helena he wrote in his dairy that Al-Azhar was the counterpart of Sorbonne in Paris. He looked highly upon Al-Azhar Ulama as the elite of the educated class and as the leaders of the people.
When the 1952 revolution took place, Al-Azhar was one of the society that has been modernized and developed so that it can effectively carry out its illuminating role for the welfare not only of Egypt, but also of the Arab and whole Islamic world. http://www.islamfortoday.com/alazhar.htm

http://religion-cults.com/Islam/islam4.html
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Islam - Basics - Organization

Islam Religious and Political Organization

The community of all Moslems is called the Umma. Everyone who speaks the Shahada with intention and who strives to fulfill the Five Pillars of Islam belongs to the Umma. Usually there is not excommunication or expulsion from Islam, that's only a private right. There are no priests nor pastors.

One way to view the development of Islam into different groups is to look at the balance between religious and political authority. Different ways of understanding who should wield these two types of authority helps explain the manner in which different types of Islam developed.

Mohammed:
Mohammed combined both in himself, the religious and political power. He was Allah's Prophet (or Messenger) and thus exercised religious and spiritual authority as Allah's direct representative. At the same time he served as a governor and the highest civil authority of his expanding community.
As a Muslim web site states, "roughly speaking, the Prophet launched 80 campaigns during the ten years from his migration in A.D. 622 to his death in A.D. 632, though some of these campaigns were nothing more than reconnaissance missions..." http://www.al-islam.org/restatement/20.htm

After Mohammed:

There are Two kind of Islam:

1- Sunni Islam:
It accounts for the vast majority of all Moslems, some 85%. In it, the civil and political authority of the empires has been strong, while religious authority has been given to all believers... however, the head of the country is usually the head of the Muslims of the country.
They are the followers of Abu, the first Caliph after Mohammed, and called "Sunni" because they accept the "sunnas", the oral traditions and interpretations of the Koran after Muhammad's death, called the "sunnas", and later the "Hadiths".
They are usually more liberal.
They belief the Caliph ("successor" of Muhammad) should always be elected, not conferred by heredity. They claim they are the true followers of the faith, and until 1959 they refuse to recognize the Shiites as true Muslims. They believe in "predestination".
During the Ottoman Turks, the Caliphs were called Sultans... now a days the King or President of the Nation.

2- Shiite Islam:
By contrast, makes up only about 15% of all Moslems and it combines both political and religious authority in a single individual called an Imam. Although not a prophet like Mohammed, this person continues Mohammed’s spiritual leadership; his knowledge and guidance are divinely inspired by Allah.
The "Shiite ("partisans"), are the followers of Ali, more orthodox and militant, mainly in Iran, Iraq, and Palestine. In 656, Ali and Fatima's son Hussein led a fight against the Sunnis. Hussein was torture and beheaded, and today the Shiites of Iran honor the memory of Hussein's death with an annual procession in which marches in a frenzied demonstration beat and whip themselves with chains and branches.
The "Imam" and "Mahdi" (Messhiah):
Shiites created the office of the "Imam" ("leader" or "guide"), who were infallible, one for each generation, the only source of religious instruction and guidance, and all in direct descendant of Ali. There were 12 Imams since Ali; the last one, the 12th, went into hiding in 940, and he will emerge later to rule the world as "Mahdi" ("Messiah"). For this reason they are also called the "Imamites" or "Twelvers".
The present "Ayatollahs", ("signs of God") see themselves as joint caretakers of the office of the Imam, until he returns at the end of time. The "Ayatollah Khomeini" claimed that he was a descendant of the 7th Imam of the Ismaeli Seveners, and hence the rightful ruler of the Shiites.

3- In Countries where the King or President is not a Muslim, the Muslims are guided by the different Mosques, usually sympathetic or lead by either a Sunni or Shiite group or Country... though most Mosques are independent.

[A further note about Mosques ...]

Muslims of all creeds are in theory free to enter all mosques, but a Muslim of one orientation will in reality find mosques used by Muslims of other orientations inappropriate. A travelling Muslim will try to find a mosque which is used by people belonging to his own creed (Sunnis, Shi'is, and Kharijis are the main division points). Other mosques are defined as inappropriate because they are under control of the government or dominated by Islamists). But most major mosques are seen upon as neutral, and are used by Muslims of all creeds.
Most mosques today are closed to non-Muslims, a regulation that was developed through the first century of Islam.

The first mosque is the one in Mecca, defined as the area that surrounded the Ka'ba, the most holy shrine to Islam. But the model of early mosques, was the courtyard of Muhammad's house in Madina, which was constructed in 622 CE. This was organized with a qibla, which at first faced the direction of Jerusalem. To the left of this qibla, houses for Muhammad's wives, were erected. There were three entrances to the courtyard. An area of the courtyard was roofed, and here prayer was performed. After 1,5 years the direction of the qibla was changed, to face Mecca.
This Madina mosque had social, political, and judicial functions, in addition to housing Muhammad's family.

http://biblia.com/theology/islamrp.htm
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Islam - Basics - Branches

We've just seen the basics for the two major branches of Islam, Sunni and Shiite, this page provides some descriptions of other branches(sects); Kharijitis, Wahhabi, Ismailis, Ismaili Druze, Twelvers, Seveners, Assassins... Sufi, Baha'ism... U.S.A. Black Muslims ...

http://religion-cults.com/Islam/islam5.html

One of particular relevance today, being the theological foundation of Al-Qaeda and similar Sunni Islamists movements;

The "Wahhabi":

A small group founded by al-Wahhab in the eighteenth century, but it was the primary force in the creation of the state of Saudi Arabia in 1932, the country of the cities of Mecca and Medina, and from them, the Wahhabi have influenced Muslims throughout the world who go into the pilgrimage to Mecca.

They are the Puritans of the Muslims, with the most strict, severely enforced moral standard of conduct, and their call for a pure Islam regulated by a literal interpretation of the Koran.

For them, it is a polytheism to visit the graves of the saints, and they are against observance of the feast of the Birth of the Prophet... and they discourage such Western innovations as cinema and dancing.
[More on Wahhabism;]
http://answering-islam.org.uk/Gilchrist/Vol1/9d.html
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Islam - The Lawful and Prohibited

This is perhaps the most important link to study extensively as here is where the "rubber hits the road" so to speak in how one actually lives the Muslim life. The 'nuts and bolts' applications of Shariia Law, what you can do and not, what might get you lashes or even death. From what you wear, to how you style your hair, to what you eat and can't, recreation, marriage/family, sex, medicine, etc. Much that we in the West consider to be "basic rights" and acceptable lifestyle choices and options are prohibited under strict adherance to Sharia Law of Islam. Something worth considering when realizing that the Islamists belief the whole of humanity should be Muslim and where people like GWB are coming from when they say the Islamists are oppossed to our way of life.

http://www.witness-pioneer.org/vil/Books/Q_LP/
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Islam - Basics - Slavery

Here's a topic that some might find a bit sensitive, Islamic scripture and custom has long supported slavery. I realize so has much of the world throughout much of history, but in recent centuries nations have moved to abolish it and it is proscribed by UN charter and international human rights provisions. However, Sudan currently has slavery as a state legal sanction/system and such is part of the program of genocide against non-Muslim African Blacks of southern Sudan (Darfur). Curiously, Sudan remains a member in good standing in the UN such that it was on the 'Human Rights Commision' of the UN, go figure!?

Another lengthy article worth a full read, I'll start off with a relevant paste;

Slavery in Islam

The Scholars of al-Azhar in Egypt

In his book, "You Ask and Islam Answers", Dr. 'Abdul-Latif Mushtahari, the general supervisor and director of homiletics and guidance at the Azhar University, says (pp. 51,52),

"Islam does not prohibit slavery but retains it for two reasons. The first reason is war (whether it is a civil war or a foreign war in which the captive is either killed or enslaved) provided that the war is not between Muslims against each other - it is not acceptable to enslave the violators, or the offenders, if they are Muslims. Only non-Muslim captives may be enslaved or killed. The second reason is the sexual propagation of slaves which would generate more slaves for their owner."

The text is plain that all prisoners of war must either be killed or become slaves. The ancient scholars are in full agreement over this issue, such as Ibn Timiyya, Ibn Hisham, Malik etc. Ibn Timiyya says (Vol. 32, p. 89),

"The root of the beginning of slavery is prisoners of war; the bounties have become lawful to the nation of Muhammad."

Then (Vol. 31, p. 380), he indicates clearly and without shame,

"Slavery is justified because of the war itself; however, it is not permissible to enslave a free Muslim. It is lawful to kill the infidel or to enslave him, and it also makes it lawful to take his offspring into captivity.

In Part 4, p. 177 of the "Prophet Biography" (Al-Road Al-Anf'), Ibn Hisham says,

"According to Islamic law concerning prisoners of war, the decision is left to the Muslim Imam. He has the choice either to kill them or to exchange them for Muslim captives, or to enslave them. This is in regard to men, but women and children are not permitted to be killed, but must be exchanged (to redeem Muslim captives) or enslaved - take them as slaves and maids."

This is the statement of Ibn Hisham, on whom all Muslims and students of Muhammad's biography rely. Of course, these matters which Ibn Hisham recorded used to take place continuously in all of Muhammad's wars and invasions. All of Muhammad's people (his wives, and Muhammad himself) owned many slaves - males and females. In his campaign against the children of Qurayza (the Jewish tribe), Muhammad killed all the males (700-900) in one day. Then, he divided the women and the children among his people.

http://answering-islam.org/BehindVeil/btv5.html
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Islam - History of,

In the history of religions is obvious that Religion and Politics is a lethal mixture... in the name of Religion many battles and wars have been fought... often not because of the Religion itself, but using Religion as an excuse.

Look even today at the many civil disturbances and wars around the world which are at least partly caused by religious intolerance: Middle East, Israel-Palestine, Sudan, Northern Ireland, Yugoslavia, Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tibet... see The Dark Side of Christianity: Inquisition, Crusades, bad Popes, Priests scandals...


In Islam the problem is accentuated because the Ruler of a Muslim country is at the same time the Political and Religious leader... starting with Muhammed himself who personally fought many wars to defend and expand Islam, and of course he is the model for all the Muslims... and because the final aim of Islam is to conquer the whole world for Allah... by peaceful means, or by war, as started by the Prophet himself. Empires of Islam.

Christians have apologized for he atrocities of the Crusades and Inquisition, even the Pope John Paul II, but I don't know of any Muslim apologizing for the atrocities done by Islam in the name of God for centuries... hundreds of battles, wars, all kinds of terrorism, suicide bombers... the last one today, September 11, 2001, in the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington...

I have met many Muslims in New York, Palestine, Egypt, North and South Africa, India, China, and all of them are good people, good friends, hard workers, reliable... however, in Islam there have been hundreds of totalitarian regimes for centuries, starting with the Prophet Himself, with Muhammed (peace be upon him)... the aim of most of them, like Hitler or Stalin, was to expand Islam to the neighboring countries, if necessary by war, with thousands of wars made in the name of God, and millions killed for the only crime of not being a Muslim...

If you look at "A Brief Chronology of Muslim History" it looks like the history of battles and wars in the world:

http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/history/chronology/
http://www.barkati.net/english/chronology.htm
Empirs of Islam ~http://www.biblia.com/islam/history.htm

Most of the hundreds of Muslims rulers, caliphs, sultans or ayatollahs, had a totalitarian regime, a dictatorship as complete as the one of Hitler or Stalin... even a more complete dictatorship, because it always included the total religious ruling on top of the political, social, and economic ruling.
....
http://www.biblia.com/islam/islam.htm
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Islam - Empires of,

Christianity spent it's first three hundred years as a grass-root social movement cum scapegoat of Roman ills, dodging pogroms and being tossed to lions in the collesiums of thew Roman Empire. Then about 312AD Roman emperor Constintine claimed conversion to the outcast faith, repealed Nero's Edict of Milan, 'wrote' "The Bible" via the first council of Nicea (@325AD) and strarted Christianity on the road to being the Holy Roman Church (Catholic); not quite what Jesus had in mind, I'd wager.

A couple hundred years later along comes Muhammad with his Arab tribes out of the Arabian deserts, banging on the doors of the declining Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire with a newly formed religion and fervor of conviction~conversion that sees the first three centuries of Islam as violent and conquest driven as that of Christianity wasn't. Most of the known Islamic world will be conquered/converted(liberated) during those first three centuries, Muhammad himself carrying a sword and leading armies.

Interesting polar opposities of style between these two "greats" of religion and the openning moves of the religions they founded. You saw this link above and I'll rerun here with a mention you may want to click on the map links included within;
http://www.biblia.com/islam/history.htm

From the tailend of that article, we see the Muslims haven't lost "the message" their religion started out with;

" Muslims Wars are going on Today:

The Iraq war just started.
The Aphganistan War just finished.
The Muslims Palestinians have a continuos war of terrorism against Israel.
In Sudan, Africa, the Muslim government of the north have already killed over one million Christians in the south.
Algeria is wracked by bitter fighting between Islamic Fundamentalists and the military.
Nigeria is in the midst of a civil war between Moslems and Christians.
In Kenya the Islamic Party has declared Holy War on the government.
Colonel Khaddafy and his Libyan army have carried out numerous military excursions into neighboring Chad, and, like Aphganistan and Iran, is the basis for terrorism plots.
In Turkey the secular Muslim government is being challenged by militant Refah Islamic Party.
A war also rages between Christian Ethiopia and Muslim Eritrea.
The fight between Christian Armenians and Muslim Azerbaijans ( 35,000 casualties), after which tiny Armenia was shrunk further because of territory "gained" by the "breeding-with-a-vengeance" Muslims population.
A war between the Christian Serbs and the Muslim Albanians could spark at any moment.
Muslims in Chechnya, Daghestan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have ignited insurrection against the pro-Russian regimes.
Two articles in the L.A. Times wrote about Muslims in Indonesia forcing Christians of all denominations to convert to Islam or get their throats slit. Thousands upon thousands of Christians have been first converted, and then sexually mutilated with kitchen knives and razor blades to make them conform to Muslim standards. Afterwards, they are enslaved to their local Muslim chieftain. This was not some aberration of Islam, but rather business as usual for all but the moderate factions. They have a history of murder, terror, lies and brainwashing to advance their cause of global conversion and subjugation... Their Jihad!.
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Islam - Offensive War to Spread,

From; http://answering-islam.org/BehindVeil/btv2.html

Muhammad and his successors initiated offensive wars against peaceful countries in order to impose Islam by force as well as to seize the abundance of these lands. Their objective was to capture women and children and to put an end to the poverty and hunger from which Arab Muslims suffered. So, Islam was imposed upon Syria, Jordan, Palestine (Jerusalem), Egypt, Libya, Iraq, Iran, all of North Africa, some parts of India and China, and later Spain.

Undoubtedly, the concept of an offensive war to spread the faith is a genuine Islamic concept; it is known as a Holy War for the sake of God. We will see what Muslim scholars have explicitly determined that this is the essence of Islam. They also indicate that if sufficient military power is available to Islamic countries, they ought to attack all other countries in order to force them to embrace Islam, or pay the poll tax and be subject to Islamic rule. Muhammad (as well as all the Caliphs who succeeded him) called for holy wars . All scholars and lawyers acknowledge that.

Those who say that the Islamic wars were always defensive do not understand Islam and have not read sufficient history. It should be evident that offensive wars to spread Islam are the heart of the entire religion of Islam. They embody the meaning of "Striving for the cause of God"—holy war to make the Word of God supreme over the whole world. Our study will be filled with objective quotes from the statements of scholars, along with a throng of true stories.

The Sayings and Deeds of Muhammad and His Companions

One of Muhammad’s popular claims is that God commanded him to fight people until they become Muslims and carry out the ordinances of Islam. All Muslim scholars without exception agree on this. Muhammad said:

"I have been ordered by God to fight with people till they bear testimony to the fact that there is no God but Allah and that Mohammed is his messenger, and that they establish prayer and pay Zakat (money). If they do it, their blood and their property are safe from me" (see Bukhari Vol. I, p. 13).

Scholars understood this claim to mean the waging of offensive wars against unbelievers in order to force them to embrace Islam as individuals or communities. This is exactly what Muhammad himself did in carrying out God’s commandment to him.

Azhar’s Scholars in Egypt

In his book, "Jurisprudence in Muhammad’s Biography", the Azhar scholar, Dr. Muhammad Sa’id Ramadan al-Buti says the following (page 134, 7th edition):

"The Holy War, as it is known in Islamic Jurisprudence, is basically an offensive war. This is the duty of Muslims in every age when the needed military power becomes available to them. This is the phase in which the meaning of Holy War has taken its final form. Thus the apostle of God said: ‘I was commanded to fight the people until they believe in God and his message ..."’

Dr. Buti deduces from Muhammad’s statement that this is the concept of offensive war—this is Holy War as it is known in Islamic jurisprudence. Notice by his statement also that this matter is a duty incumbent on every Muslim in every age. The time will come when East and West, as well as politicians and military personnel all over the world will realize that the real military danger is the Islamic community. When the needed military power becomes available to them, they will wage wars and invade other countries !
~~~~~~~~~~~

This is a very long article from which I could excerpt many comparable statements but for now will leave it to the reader here to go to the link and read for themselves. And I'll provide another link of similar theme regarding a current book looking at this aspect of Islam;

Islamic Imperialism: A History, by Efraim Karsh. Yale, 2006. $30, 320pp., ISBN 0-300-10603-3
"I was ordered to fight all men until they say 'There is no god but Allah.'"

Prophet Muhammad's farewell address, March 632

"We will export our revolution throughout the world . . . until the calls 'there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah' are echoed all over the world."

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, 1979

"I was ordered to fight the people until they say there is no god but Allah, and his prophet Muhammad."

Osama bin Laden, November 2001

Prof. Karsh, Head of the Mediterranean Studies Program at King's College, University of London and author of Empires of the Sand and Arafat's War, among others, opens this provocative examination of Islamic imperialism with the quotations cited above. They serve as a springboard for his analysis and raise an important question: Why is it so hard for so many to take these people at their word?

From Muhammad to bin Laden, Muslim leaders have forthrightly signaled their intention to confront infidels until Islam enjoys universal hegemony. But, we are advised—not so much by Muslims but our own elite—that they don't mean what they say. That the jihadists—a small minority—have hijacked a peaceful religion for their own purposes. That Western imperialism and Arab victimization are the root causes of today's terrorism.

Neither of these popular and politically-correct notions stands even the most superficial examination. If the Prophet Muhammad acknowledges that his goal is to "fight all men," how can jihadists represent a small minority that has hijacked Islam? Moreover, if the institution of imperialism originated in the Middle East—as it surely did—Muslims are as much oppressors as victims.

Karsh clearly and carefully debunks such myths. Muhammad's goal was not to be free of foreign occupation but to create "a new universal order in which the whole of humanity would embrace Islam or live under its domination." The same was true of subsequent Muslims empires down to the Ottomans, and it remains the goal of our enemies today. They aren't shy about announcing their intentions; we refuse to heed them at our peril.
....
http://www.military.com/features/0,15240,97480,00.html

[Okay, real world/3D requires I put a "hold" here for now, about half-way thru. Will return in a day or so with the rest. GDB]
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Jihad - I

The following posts will draw heavily from this article which I've presented a few times already on this board. I'm repeating it here with close examination and excerpts as it is one of the best such articles from inside Islam describing both what Jihad is and "the why" of engaging in such, therefore it is a key part of the "Know your enemy." concept critical to any strategic thinking when engaged in warfare.

Jihad in the Qur'an and Sunnah
By SHEIKH ABDULLAH BIN MUHAMMAD BIN HUMAID
http://www.islamworld.net/jihad.html

[From the "Publisher's Note"/Introduction]

But, as regards the reward and blessing, there is one deed which is very great in comparison to all the acts of worship and all the good deeds-and that is Jihad!
....

In this article, Sheikh 'Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Humaid, ex-Chief Justice of Saudi Arabia, has presented Jihad in the light of Qur'an and Sunna. Never before such an article was seen, describing Jihad in its true colours-so heart evoking and encouraging! May Allah bless him with all His Blessings for all times.

Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, the translator of the Noble Qur'an and the Sahih AlBukhari, has translated this article from Arabic to the English language with all its fervor and feelings. May Allah reward him with best of His Rewards.

We are publishing this article and recommend every Muslim not only to read it himself but to offer every other Muslim brother within his read.

May Allah shower His Blessings on everyone of us- Ameen !
__________________________________________________ ____
[NOTE: 1) I'll not do any editing of the grammar, syntax, or spelling used in excepts quoted from this article, not wanting to "lose" anything in the translation provided. 2) Make note of the author being a former Saudi Arabian Chief Justice, of Sharia Law and also of Wahabbist extremism of Sunni Islam. This is noteworthy in light of Osama bin-Ladin's latest pronouncement released as OBL is a Wahabbist purist so OBL's views on Jihad likely echo those of this author (which are echoed by many other Jihadis) given that both often say/express the same things~ideology.]
__________________________________________________ _____

Praise be to Allah swt Who has ordained Al-Jihad (the holy fighting in Allah's Cause):

1. With the heart (intentions or feelings),

2. With the hand (weapons, etc.),

3. With the tongue (speeches, etc., in the Cause of Allah)

Allah has rewarded the one who performs it with lofty dwellings in the Gardens (of Paradise).
....

He (Prophet Muhammad pbuh ) carried on his mission of inviting people to Allah Ta'ala (Islamic Religion) and persisted in (this) invitation for 13 years inspite of the harm and injuries (which he suffered), and he used to forgive the ignorant... in order that Allah's Proof be established against them (disbelievers) and that His Promise be fulfilled to them (disbelievers) which He assured them with His Statement:

And We never punish until We have sent a Messenger (to give warning) (V. 17:15).

[NOTE: This combination call to join Islam co-joined with a warning of dire consequences if refused is common to pronouncements from Jihadis, such as in OBL's most recent release and an earlier one we'll examine later.]
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Jihad - Ii

http://www.islamworld.net/jihad.html

So when you meet (in fight... Jihad in Allah's Cause) those who disbelieve smite at their necks till when you have killed and wounded many of them, then bind a bond firmly (on them, i.e. take them as captives). Thereafter (is the time) either for generosity (i.e. free them without ransom) or ransom (according to whatbenefits Islam), until the war lays down its burden. Thus [you are ordered by Allah to continue in carrying out Jihad againstthe disbelievers till they embrace Islam (i.e. are saved from the punishment in the Hellfire) orat leastcome under your protection] but if it had been Allah's Will, He Himself could certainly have punished them (without you). But (He lets you fight) in orderto test you, some with others. But those who are killed in the Way of Allah, He will never let their deeds be lost.
He will guide them and set right their state.
And admit them to Paradise which He has made known to them (i.e. they will know their places in Paradise more than they used to know their houses in this world). (V.47:4, 5,6).
....

Then Allah (swt) revealed in Sarah Tauba (Bara 'a) (Repentance, IX) the order to discard (all) the obligations (covenants, etc.) and commanded the Muslims to fight against all the Mushrikun as well as against the people of the Scriptures (Jews and Christians) if they do not embrace Islam, till they pay the Jizya (a tax levied on the nonMuslims who do not embrace Islam and are under the protectionofanlslamicgovernment) with willing submission and feel themselves subdued (as it is revealed in the Verse 9:29). So they (Muslims) were not permitted to abandon "the fighting" against them (Pagans, Jews and Christians) and to reconcile with them and to suspend hostilities against them for an unlimited period while they are strong and are able to fight against them (non Muslims).

As it is now obvious, at first "the fighting" was forbidden, then it was permitted and after that it was made obligatory- ( I ) against them who start "the fighting" against you (Muslims)... (2) and against all those who worship others along with Allah... as mentioned in SurahAIBaqaraSl (II), Allmran (III) and Tauba (IX)... and other Sarah (Chapters of the Qur'an). Allah (swt) made "the fighting' (Jihad) obligatory for the Muslims and gave importance to the subjectmatter of Jihad in all the Sarah (Chapters of the Qur'an) which were revealed (at AlMadina) as in Allah's Statement:

March forth whether you are light (being healthy, young and wealthy) or heavy (being ill, old and poor), strive [ hard with your wealth and your lives in the Cause of Allah. This is better for you if you but knew. (V.9:41).
....
__________________________________________________ _________
Muhammad studied Jewish and Christian scripture as part of his meditation program seeking inspiration for a religion for his people, the Arabs. When he began "channeling" messages from Allah he initially tried to emmulate Jesus with a peaceful preacher method. Hostility and violence towards him and his followers, which included the deaths of some of his followers, saw his "ministry" take on a more violent counter-response in it's second half. Allah granted permission to Muhammad to 'carry a sword' and lead armies in Allah's cause and hence the die was cast for Islam to expand with conversion by force of sword/pain of death to those who resisted/refused to convert/submit.

Since the Qur'an is not written in chronological order this is why it appears to bounce from "peaceful" to warlike/Jihad Suras, the two halves of Muhammad's 'ministry' intermingled in the chapters/Suras arranged by order of length per number of verses within each rather than theme or timing of his preaching.
__________________________________________________ _____________
....

And He (Allah) said:

Jihad (holy fighting in Allah's Cause) is ordained for you (Muslims) though you dislike it, and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know. (V.2:216)

"The fighting", even though by its nature is disliked by the human soul because of the liability, of being killed, orbeing taken as a captive, or being injured, with the wasting ofthe wealth, the damaging of the industries, the destruction ofthe country, the spreading of fear and awe in the souls and the (possibility) of being exiled from one's homeland, Allah had made ready an immensely good reward that cannot be imagined by a human soul.

'Ikrima (a religious scholar) said: At first Muslims disliked it (Jihad), but later they loved it and said: "We listen and obey." And that is because the submission to the order to fight means hardship, but if the reward is made known it becomes to compare the hardship involved and its reward.

The Verses of the Qur'an and the Sunna (the Prophet's legal ways, orders etc.) have exhorted greatly for Jihad and have made quite clear its rewards, and praised greatly thosewhoperform Jihad (the holy fighting in Allah's Cause) and explained to them various kinds of honours which they will receive from their Lord (Allah swt). This is because they-Mudahidin are Allah's troops. Allah (swt) will establish His religion (Islam), with them (Mujahidin). He will repel the might of His enemies, and with them He will protect Islam and guard the religion safely.

And it is they, (Mujahidin) who fight against the enemies of Allah in order that the worship should be all for Allah (Alone and not for any other deity) and that the Word of Allah (swt) (i.e. none has the right to be worshipped but Allah (swt) and His religion Islam) should be superior. Allah has made them (Mujahidin) partners in reward along with all those who guard Islam with their weapons, along with their good deeds which they performed even if they sleep in their homes.
....
__________________________________________________ _______

Fighting for a Noble Cause with a Great Reward, the Mujahidin becomes a sort of "Jedi" for Allah. Sheds some insight in how this appeals to young minds indoctrinated with Theology from an early age and desiring "Glory" in their lives.

Last edited by G David Bock; 08 Sep 07 at 02:40.. Reason: typo
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Jihad - Iii

http://www.islamworld.net/jihad.html
....
And Allah said:

Do you consider the providing of drinking water to pilgrims and the maintenance of AlMasMidalHaram (at Makka) as equal to the worth of those who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allah? They are not equal before Allfih! And Allah guides not those people who are the Zalimun (polytheists and wrongdoers). (V.9:19).

Those who believed (in the Oneness of Allah-Islamic Monotheism) and emigrated and strove hard and fought in Allah's Cause with their wealth and their lives are far higher in degree with Allah. They are the successful. (V.9:20).

Their Lord gives them glad tidings of a Mercy from Him and that He is pleased (with them) and of Gardens (Paradise) for them wherein are everlasting delights. (V.9:21).

They will dwell therein for ever. Verily, with Allah is a great reward. (V.9:22).

In the above Verses Allah (swt) the Most High, be He glorified above all that they ascribe to Him, informs that those who maintain AlMasMidalHaram (at Makka) [and the maintenance of the mosque means to do i'tikaf in it, the tawaf (circumambulation) of the Ka'ba, and the offering of Salat (prayers) in it, etc.] mentioned in the above said Verse-and those who provide drinking water to the pilgrims are not equal to those who did Jihad in Allah's Cause. Allah (swt) informed that the believers who fight in Allah's Cause (Mujdhidln) are far superior in grades before Him and it is they who will be successful.

And they are the ones who have received the glad tidings of: (I) His Mercy, (2) His being pleased with them, (3) and Gardens (Paradise).
....
Not equal are those of the believers who sit (at home) except those who are disabled (by injury, or are blind, or lame, etc.) and those who strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allah with their wealth and their lives. Allah (swt) has preferred in grades those who strive hard and fight with their wealth and lives above those who sit (at home). Unto each Allah has promised good (Paradise), but Allah has preferred those who strive hard and fight, above those who sit (at home) by a huge reward. (V.4:95).

Degrees of (higher) grades from Him, and Forgiveness and Mercy. And Allah is Ever OftForgiving, Most Merciful (V.4:96).
....
Verily, Allah has purchased of the believers their lives and their properties; for the price that theirs shall be the Paradise. They fight in Allah's Cause, so they kill (others) and are killed. It Is a promise in truth which is binding on Him in the Torah and the Gospel and the Qur'an. And who is truer to his covenant than Allah? Then rejoice in the bargain which you have concluded. That is the supreme success. (V.9:111).

So Allah (swt) has put Paradise as the price of the believers and their properties, so if they sacrifice their lives and properties for His Cause, then they deserve the prize (Paradise) and the bargain which they concluded with Him. He reassured them with a number of assurances:
....
Think not of those who are killed in the Way of Allah as dead. Nay, they are alive, with their Lord and they have provision.
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Let those (believers) who sell the life of this world for the Hereafter, fight in the Cause of Allah; and whoso fights in the Cause of Allah and is killed orgets victory, We shall bestow on him a great reward. (V.4:74).
....
__________________________________________________ ______________
There is a pattern developing here, noticible more-so to those who might read the full text rather than these select excerpts, of reward in proportion to Jihad effort. A "sliding scale" where the greater the deeds done by a Mujahidin, the greater the Rewards in Paradise that await him. The implication should be clear, the bigger the damage and body-count done by the "Holy Warrior" the greater his reward, in Paradise of the afterlife of course.
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Old 08 Sep 07, 02:57
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Jihad - Iv

http://www.islamworld.net/jihad.html
....
Jihad is a great deed indeed and there is no deed whose reward or blessing is as that of it, and for this reason, it is the best thing that one can volunteer for. All the Muslim religious scholars unanimously agree that Jihad is superior to Hajj and 'Umra (pilgrimage) and also superior to nonobligatory Salat (prayer) and Saum (fasting) as mentioned in the Qur'anand Prophet's Sunna. It is obvious that the benefits of Jihad for us are extensive and comprehensive, it(Jihad) includes all kinds of worship both hidden and open, it also includes (a great) love for Allah (swt) and it shows one's sincerity to Him and it also shows one's trust in Him, and it indicates the handing over of one's soul and property to Him- it (Jihad) shows one's patience, one's devotion to Islam, one's remembrance to Allah (swt) and there are other kinds of good deeds which are present in Jihad and are not present in any other act of worship.
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"Paradise has one hundred grades, the distance between each of the two grades is like the distance between the heaven and the earth, and these grades Allah (swt) has reserved for the Mudahidin who fight in His Cause" [as mentioned in the two authentic Books (AlBukhari and Muslim)]. [See Sahih AlBukhari, Vol 4, Hadlth No. 48].
....
__________________________________________________ _______________

This last statement makes it clear, the "Reason" one becomes a Mujahidin, a Holy Warrior, undertaking "Terrorist Actions" for JIHAD (Holy War) is because the higher levels/grades of Heaven are only for them.

The highest level goes to Muhammad;
http://www.islaam.com/Article.aspx?id=494

The lowest level(grade) is for the peaceful/moderate Muslim;
http://www.islaam.com/Article.aspx?id=427

Secular "justifications" for 'terrorism'/Jihad are distractions for the secular focused infidels of the West. The Muslim who chooses the path of Mujahidin does so for religious reasons, the promise of greater and proportionate reward in Paradise, a higher level in Paradise in scale to the deeds achieved in Jihad.
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