Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
During the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, Muslims fast, pray, engage in acts of piety and charity, and reminisce over warfare and bloodshed in the name of Islam.
Virtually every Ramadan features various Islamic authorities, personages, and/or institutes reminding Muslims to take pride in and celebrate various historic battles between Muslims and non-Muslims, or “infidels” (as in this hour long televised special). Among other things, such victories are meant to demonstrate the power, and thus truth, of Islam.
This alone should underscore Islam’s innate militancy in comparison to other religions. It further suggests that Islam is a worldly religion, one that takes pride and finds validation in something as corporeal and temporal as victory in warfare (with all the attendant collection of booty and slaves that entails).
By way of analogy, and to better appreciate Ramadan-time celebrations of jihad, imagine Christians gathered together in church during Christmas or Easter. Then, the officiating pastor eulogizes the bloody military conquests Christians had over non-Christians during Christmas or Easter—even as the congregants cheer or at least feel deep pride in their Christian faith.
Not only is such a scenario exceedingly difficult to imagine—a reflection of how utterly different Christianity and Islam are from one another—but many of today’s Christians have become so anti-war as to characterize even self-defense as “un-Christian.” That, at least, is what the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, seems to think: recently, while condemning war, he went so far as also to condemn Just War, the idea that war is legitimate when waged for just reasons (self-defense, liberating conquered peoples or territory, etc.)
Hence the double irony: most of the wars that took place on, and which Muslims celebrate every, Ramadan had nothing to do with just war, and were in fact aggressive and imperialistic in nature.
An article by the popular website AboutIslam.net makes all this clear. Titled, “7 Remarkable Islamic Victories That Took Place in Ramadan,” it opens by saying, “Ramadan is a special month that’s full of blessings for the Muslim Ummah. It is not only famous for fasting and charity, but also for great Islamic victories that changed the world.”
Examining the list, however, there is no question that at least five of the seven military episodes it mentions—the battle of Badr and the conquests of Mecca, Spain, Crimea, and Nubia—were unjust, meaning they had nothing to do with Muslims engaging in self-defense or liberating their conquered territories and everything to do with Muslims waging unprovoked wars of conquest in search of plunder.
For example, although much extolled in Islamic historiography for being Islam’s first major victory over infidels, when stripped of its hagiographical veneer, the battle of Badr (624 AD) appears to have been little more than a caravan raid, driven by lust for booty.
Similarly, Muslims were the aggressors in the various conquests highlighted by AboutIslam.net for taking place on Ramadan. During these conquests, Muslims invaded non-Muslim territories, butchered and enslaved their inhabitants, and appropriated their lands—and for no other reason, and under no other logic, than that they were “infidels,” non-Muslims.
The eighth century invasion and subsequent conquest of Spain, for instance, featured hordes of invading Muslims slaughtering countless thousands of Christians and torching their churches (in one notable incident in Cordoba, the Muslims managed to kill two birds with one stone when they torched a church with its inhabitants trapped inside).
Same with the Crimea. Originally inhabited by Slavic peoples, Muslims—Turks and Tatars—brutally conquered it in the fifteenth century and turned it into an emporium of white flesh. An estimated three million Slavs—Poles, Lithuanians, Russians, and Ukrainians—were enslaved and, according to a contemporary chronicle, sold “like sheep” between 1450 and 1783.
This is what Muslims are supposed to remember and celebrate during their holy month—during their equivalent of a “Christmas” or “Easter” season: the unprovoked invasions and bloody subjugations their ancestors undertook in the name of Islam against people whose only “crime” was to be non-Muslims. (Little wonder that, so riled, Muslims not infrequently murderously assault infidels in their midst during Ramadan.)
Incidentally, taking pride in Islamic violence is not limited to “radical” sheikhs or websites; it is quite mainstream. Thus, not only is the popular English language website, AboutIslam.net, considered “moderate” and meant to put a good face on Islam before infidels; the aforementioned article celebrating seven battles/conquests during Ramadan was published by the website’s “Family & Life” team.
Before closing, and lest Muslims truly believe that Ramadan is exclusively a month of victorious jihads, let it be noted that Muslims also lost a fair bit of military engagements during their holy month—the pivotal Battle of Tours (732), when outnumbered Franks halted Islam’s advance into Europe, being just one of the more memorable.