CHARLOTTE, N.C., September 11, 2017 – It seems appropriate to write about the history of Islam on this latest anniversary of 9/11. It was sixteen years ago that the United States felt the wrath an accumulated 1400 years of Islamic hatred and revenge that left 3,000 people dead scattered around and beneath the smoldering piles of twisted rubble in New York City and Arlington, Virginia.
In the wake of the horror that unfolded on that sunny morning of September 11, 2001, it is incomprehensible that so few Americans have ever felt the need to learn more about the radical Islamic ideologies that have killed and maimed thousands more innocent people around the world since that infamous date.
In the 1930s, English historian Hilaire Belloc wrote a book entitled "The Great Heresies," in which he penned a prophetic statement that rings truer today than it did even in his own time:
"Millions of modern people of the white civilization-that is, the civilization of Europe and America-have forgotten all about Islam. They take for granted that it is decaying, and that, anyway, it is just a foreign religion which will not concern them. It is, as a fact, the most formidable and persistent enemy which our civilization has had, and may at any moment become as large a menace in the future as it has been in the past. The suggestion that Islam may re-arise sounds fantastic but this is only because men are always powerfully affected by the immediate past: one might say that they are blinded by it."
Belloc saw the future clearly, and his observations still stand. If we do not pay attention to the lessons of history, we are doomed to repeat them.
For centuries Islam was a growing global force to be reckoned with until it was halted at the gates of Vienna, ironically on September 11, 1683. After that date and for more than 300 years thereafter, Islam as a political force went into relative hibernation. It was a sleeping giant that only periodically raised its ugly head. But it did not die and it did not disappear.
Due to a complex "perfect storm" stemming from a series of events in the Middle East, a wealthy man named Osama bin Laden decided to revenge for that 9/11 battle in Vienna in 1683 and revived once again the hatred of the West towards Islam.
But astonishingly, today, 16 years later after that murderous attack in the U.S., Western nations still refuse to recognize or understand the horrors that Hilaire Belloc accurately predicted nearly 100 years ago.
In its most basic form, Islam is not as difficult to comprehend as it may seem. It is the product of a desert culture at a time where temperatures consistently reached a relentless 120-degrees under cloudless skies and the burning sands of Arabian deserts.
Under that tribal foundation, which still exists today throughout the region, paranoia and distrust were common features of that ancient Arabic culture. The morality of the time allowed raids upon other tribes in order to obtain wealth and wives, capture slaves, and wage war. It was the code of the desert, and vengeance was paramount when a member of one tribe harmed anyone from another tribe.
Such a mentality existed long before the Prophet Muhammad began experiencing the "revelations" that led to the rise of Islam. Today, modern technologies have changed the environment of the desert to some degree. But temperatures – and tempers – continue to reach well above 100. Worse, the tribal mentality of the region has not changed in any fundamental way. Violence has always been the norm in the desert and violence remains a primary aspect of Islamic culture.
Muhammad first began to have visions about being a prophet in 610. By 622, he left his Meccan tribe, the Quraysh, and led his tiny band of followers to Medina.
Given the tribal nature of the society, separating from family ties in 622 was not the same as moving into a neighboring town in 2017. This constituted a major schism that defied the culture of its day.
To survive, jihad became the best and most efficient way to sustain Muhammad's beliefs. In Arabic, the word "jihad" means "struggle," which can be defined as the personal inner battle humans face to survive and succeed. It can also define the ongoing struggle against one's enemies in order to gain power and control.
In 624, when Muhammad won his surprising victory in Islam's first battle, he and his forces were outnumbered 3 to 1. The prophet subsequently believed his success was due to the divine assistance of Allah. Had Muhammad lost that battle, the world would likely be a very different place today.
Within the next eight years, prior to Muhammad's death in 632, half the Arab world had become Muslim. By 750, Islam had conquered the Persian empire and much of the Byzantine empire as well.
This was not the result of a so-called "religion of peace" being gently carried to other countries by benevolent invaders. Nor were those who were captured, enslaved, raped, maimed and coerced to conversion known as "Islamophobes." Rather, these were the early roots of the murderous violence we are witnessing today, some 14 centuries after Islamic violence began its advance.
As Hiliare Belloc asked in the 1930s:
"Will not perhaps the temporal power of Islam return and with it the menace of an armed Mohammedan world which will shake off the domination of Europeans still nominally Christian and reappear again as the prime enemy of our civilization?"
Today is 9/11. It's an appropriate time to think once again about the history of Islam and finally begin to understand it.
About the Author: Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.