- Hardcover: 442 pages
- Publisher: Prometheus Books (October 1, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1573922471
- ISBN-13: 978-1573922470
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.1 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #868,218 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Jihad in the West: Muslim Conquests from the 7th to the 21st Centuries Hardcover – October 1, 1998
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Jihad is back, says Paul Fregosi, but this current incarnation has a long history behind it. From the start, Islamic fundamentalism has intended to expand the Muslim religion to encompass the entire world through conversion, or, in many instances, violence. Yet until now it has lacked a general historical narrative: "The jihad has been the most unrecorded and disregarded major event of history," writes Fregosi. Jihad in the West attempts to describe the history of Islamic and European conflict over 1,500 years, including moments such as the climactic battle at Tours (if the Moors had won it in 732, much of Europe might be Muslim today), the sieges of Vienna, and the Barbary Corsairs (the battle U.S. Marines refer to when they sing about "the shores of Tripoli"). Such a sweep necessarily sacrifices detail for breadth, yet it still provides a helpful backdrop to understanding a religious movement that has played a prominent role in late-20th-century terrorism. Many Muslims will quarrel with Fregosi when he compares jihad to a Christian sacrament, and the book would benefit from footnotes. Jihad in the West nevertheless is a good introduction to an often-ignored topic. --John J. Miller
Although not The Satanic Verses, this book is sure to raise much of the same issues and ire, and come into demand simply because of its notoriety. It is a look at the darker side of the Islamic religion, from its inception with Muhammad up through the first half of this century, lightly touching on recent decades. Fregosi shows that jihad, or holy war, did not come about as a reaction to the Crusades but has been a continually integral part of Islam. While not excusing the barbarities of Christianity, he highlights how Islam has been particularly ruthless in its acquisition of lands and wealth and in dealing with those who have stood in its path. Although most of this history is well documented and factually indisputable, the author will likely generate considerable umbrage with his interpretation of many of Muhammad's actions and suryas (teachings) as manifesting a self-serving nature. This title is a highly recommended, if problematic, historical perspective, suitable for most libraries. Eric Robbins
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A contention is held in the book that the described Muslim military conquests of centuries past, and the terrorist campaigns of the modern day, share much more than just the same name of "Jihad" but also encompass what the book cites as the Muslim "distaste for and basic antagonism to" the entire non-Muslim world that is described herein as being seen to be "blasphemers and infidels".
While some readers may find such comments to be contentious or inflammatory, the book submits these subjects to a meticulous scrutiny with a view to presenting an appropriate context to these assertions.
Throughout it is clear that the writer strives to provide an objective analysis wherever possible without attacking the fundamental aspects of the Islamic religion - instead attempting to concentrate on the context of it's implications & relationship to the furtherance of Jihad itself.
The writer states that Jihad has possibly been the most unrecorded and disregarded major event of history and introduces his study as perhaps being one of the first pertaining to the subject of Jihad, arguing that history has largely ignored what are described as the Muslim attacks and invasions of Europe from the seventh to the twentieth centuries, instead being content to remain transfixed on the Christian Crusades.
Beginning his investigations from the time of Muhammad and the writing of the Islamic Koran in the early 7th century, the text illustrates in commendable detail the origins of Jihad during that period and throughout the wars of some 1,300 years ago in Arabia, during which the study depicts how Muhammad purportedly fought against what he describes as the pagan Arab tribes of the peninsula, allegedly demanding that they acknowledge his suzerainty and convert to Islam itself.
Although this work is not written from the platform of any religious persuasion, the reader is confronted with a direct comparison between the Christian Crusades and Islamic Jihad. The study illustrating how Muhammad purportedly cited to his followers that the "sword" is the key to heaven and hell, but that Christ had said to his followers some six hundred years earlier, that he who lives by the "sword" shall perish by the sword.
The writer drawing attention to what he calls the ethical differences between Islam and Christianity, with Christians who kill being responsible for ignoring the words of Christ, but that Muslims who kill are following the commands given to them.
Recognition is also given in the study to how many devout followers of Islam allegedly believe that the Crusades are a prime factor for what is cited as the "confrontation between Christendom and Islam" and therefore believe that it was the Crusaders who "forced" Islam to create Jihad as a means of self defence.
Due detail is provided to illustrate how Jihad had already been in action against Christendom for nearly five hundred years before the Crusades were launched in 1096.
As an aside, the book makes reference to a number of factors/comparisons including how, in Europe today, Muslims can worship in their own mosques but that some Muslim countries forbid Christians to practice their own faith or build churches for their own worship, with even stricter restrictions being placed upon Judaism. Another factor referred to is how Muslims are forbidden to change their religion at the risk of their own lives, with apostasy being punishable by death. The book recognises what it describes as the often uncritical devotion of Muslims in regard to their Prophet Muhammad, while citing that any criticism or the Prophet or attack upon Islam is also undertaken under similar risk.
As the investigation into the history and precepts of Jihad progresses, the study declares that the purpose of Jihad became, and allegedly still is, to "expand and extend Islam" until the whole world is under Islamic rule.
Jihad also being further clarified in the text as purportedly being what is cited as the permanent state of hostility maintained by Islam against the rest of the world, with or without hostility, for the purpose of obtaining sovereignty over more territory.
One notable quote mentioned is that of the contemporary Ayatollah Khomeini who allegedly referred to Jihad in the following context; "...the conquest of non-Muslim territory. The domination of Koranic law from one end of the earth to the other..is the final goal...of this war of conquest."
Another reference is also made to a further statement from he same Islamic leader, who recently died, where he describes eleven unclean things as being urine, excrement, sperm, blood, a dog, a pig, bones, a non-Muslim man and woman, wine, beer and the perspiration of the camel that eats filth. Such reference being made to explicate the mind-set behind the precepts investigated in this work which proceeds to cover nearly one and a half thousand years of European and Islamic military and political confrontation.
Italy, Sicily, Portugal, France, Spain, Austria, Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Rumania, Wallachia, Albania, Moldavia, Bulgaria, Greece, Armenia, Georgia, Poland, Ukraine, eastern and southern Russia are all cited as being battlefields where Islam either conquered or was conquered.
The details surrounding some of the ensuing conflicts are at times quite graphic but this is an essential study for anyone interesting in the history of Islam and how many proponents may perceive it's future. Highly recommended.
For all that, I thought Fregosi was fair, dispassionate and hard on both sides of these wars. At not several but MANY points in the book he condemns violence committed by both sides. I think he goes to some pains to indicate he is not anti-Muslim by sticking to the facts and by equally condemning all violence. Smart thing too, since some Muslims can display a tendency to violently react to anyone who criticizes or asks uncomfortably honest questions about their culture, faith, past military history, warrior-mentality, etcetera. Salman Rushdie is just the most famous victim of this reflex to condemn those who write or say things people of the Islamic faith don't like. Taslima Nasrin of Bangledesh is another example of a writer who has felt Islam's wrath. There are others languishing in jails who are less known to us in the West who did not tow the right Islamic line. So, Fregosi displayed some courage to write so eloquently on this type of subject.
Fregosi's humanism, compassion, his passionate hope for a better and less violent future come through in his dedication (read it to see what I mean) and his final chapter, among other places. Fregosi can be tart, humorous, yes - a bit sarcastic too, but always, always, there is a caring, deeply morally concerned human being writing the story who mourns the deaths of so many. At some, more subliminal level, there is a deep sadness that permeates this book. Fregosi is by no means a "happy warrior" out to "get Islam." He mourns the torture, death, violence and enslavement of so many. He mourns the human rights abuses and abuse of women by the Arab empire and the Ottoman empire. He mourns the genocide committed by these regimes. I suspect he must have been under some psychological duress when he wrote his book given the seriousness of the subject matter. That too comes through. But there are also WONDERFUL real life heroes and leaders of wisdom, vision and compassion on both sides. And he happily discusses those individuals as well. I met some wonderful people in this book and they deserve to be remembered by us today.
...I can honestly recommend it.