THE SWORD OF THE PROPHET:
The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam
by Serge Trifkovic
(Boston: Regina Orthodox Press, 2002)
Reviewed by Paul Eidelberg
In her extraordinary work, Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide, Bat Ye'or avoids discussing Islam per se. She lets Islam's thirteen-century record of plunder, rape, and genocide discredit that religion. One would hardly know of such barbarism reading the doyan of Islamic scholars, Bernard Lewis. Judging from his book What Went Wrong? (2002), nothing is intrinsically wrong with the religion that enthralls 1.2 billion people. And Lewis, unlike John Esposito, is not known as an apologist of Islam.
Enter Serge Trifkovic, a man of extraordinary intellectual courage. His The Sword of the Prophet departs from the moral "neutrality" of academia and, in six lucid and well-documented chapters, provides a "Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam." Citing the Kuran and the voluminous Hadithsthe Traditions of what Muhammad said and didDr. Trifkovic exposes Islam's prophet as cruel, ignorant, and lascivious. He examines Islam's fatalistic theology; reviews this religion's devastation of other civilizations; warns of the Muslims' insidious penetration of America and Europe; criticizes U.S. appeasement of Saudi Arabia and other Islamic regimes; and goes to the heart of what must be done to prevent Islam's global ascendancy.
Chapter 1, "Muhammad," portrays a simple preacher who became a fanatical warlord in the process of conquering Mecca and Medina. After slaughtering Arab tribesmen and looting their camels, the prophet and his followers kidnapped their women and staged an orgy of rape. One Hadith explains:
We desired them, for we were suffering from the absence of our wives, but at the same time we also desired ransom for them. So we decided to have sexual intercourse with them but by observing 'azl [coitus interruptus]. But we said: We are doing an act whereas Allah's Messenger is amongst us; why not ask him? So we asked Allah's Messenger and he said: It does not matter if you do not do it, for every soul that is to be born up to the Day of Resurrection will be born.
To the men of one Jewish tribe, Muhammad offered the choice of conversion to Islam or death. Upon their refusal, up to 900 were decapitated in front of their women and children. "Truly the judgment of Allah was pronounced on high," was Muhammad's comment. The women were subsequently raped. Trifkovic comments: "That Muhammad's actions and words, as immortalized in the Kuran and recorded in the Traditions, are frankly shocking by the standards of our timeand punishable by it laws, that range from war crimes and murder to rape and child molestationalmost goes without saying." Trifkovik is aware of the cultural and historical relativism that would prompt Western intellectuals to say, "we must not extend the judgmental yardstick of our own culture to the members of other cultures who have lived in other eras." He counters this relativism by pointing out that "even in the context of seventh century Arabia, Muhammad had to resort to divine revelations as a means of suppressing the prevalent moral code of his own milieu."
Muhammad repeatedly invoked Allah as a deus ex machina, professing revelations to justify the prophet's political and personal needs. "Nowhere was this more obvious than when it came to his exaggerated sensuality." Trifkovic cites Ibn Warraq, author of Why I am Not a Muslim (1995), who asks whether Muhammad was a "known fraud, or did he sincerely believe that all his 'revelations' that constitute the Kuran were direct communications from God?" Warraq does not see how this can possibly matter to our moral judgment of Muhammad's character. "Certain racists sincerely believe that Jews should be exterminated. How does their sincerity affect our moral judgment of their beliefs?"
Trifkovic adds: "On the Prophet's own admission, Islam stands or falls with the person of Muhammad, a deeply flawed man by the standards of his own society, as well as those of the Old and New Testaments and even by the law of which he claimed to be the divinely appointed medium and custodian. The problem of Islam, and the problem of the rest of the world with Islam, is the religion's claim that the words and acts of its prophet provide the universally valid standard of morality as such, for all time and all men."
Our author sums up his assessment of Muhammad with the words of Sir William Muir (1819-1905), one of the world's greatest orientalists: "the sword of Muhammad and the Qur'an are the most fatal enemies of civilization, liberty, and truth which the world has yet known." No academician today would dare such a judgment. Even the outspoken Daniel Pipes feels compelled to distinguish Islam from "Islamism" and say Islam is compatible with democracy!
Chapter 2, "The Teaching," portrays Allah as very different from the God of the Bible. Allah is absolutely transcendent. He is pure will without personality. Islam offers an "empty and barren concept of deity." (Avraham Kook, the first Chief Rabbi of Palestine, regarded Islam's monotheism as barren and devoid of joy and life.) "One consequence of Allah's absolute transcendence and lordship," says Trifkovic, "is the impossibility of free will." Sinners are as predestined as virtuous believers. Whereas sinners will "fill up the burning regions of Hell," the virtuous believers will dwell in Paradise where, according to one Muslim commentator, "The men have sexual relations not only with the women ... but also with serving boys In Paradise a believer's penis is eternally erect."
Given its fatalism, Islam is theologically incompatible with democracy, whose cardinal principle is freedom. The root of freedom is man's creation in the image of Godthe God of Abraham. Abraham can argue and plead with God, as did Moses, because the God of the Jews is a personal God, immanent as well as transcendent. In contrast, the Muslim prostrates himself before Allah as a slave before a master. Trivkovic rightly states that it is more pertinent to compare Islam with totalitarian communismdespite its atheismthan with Judaism or Christianity. He could have pointed out that human dignity is not a normative principle of Islam if only because Islamic theology cannot abide the Jewish conception of man's creation in the image of God.
Turning to the Kuran, Trifkovic, like other critics, reveals Muhammad's distorted account of the various narratives of the Five Books of Moses. (Muhammad was ignorant of the books of the prophets). Noting that the Kuran underwent revision during Muhammad's tribulations and triumphs in Mecca and Medina, Trifkovic states that Islam's holy book "looks, feels, and sounds like a construct entirely human in origin and intent, clear in its earthly sources of inspiration and the fulfillment of the daily needs, personal and political, of its author."
"Of all major religions known to man," writes Trifkovic, "the teaching of Islam makes it the least amenable to dialogue with other faiths." Nevertheless, he informs us that President George W. Bush has internalized the ecumenical views of his adviser on Islam, Professor David Forte, a conservative Catholic who believes that Christianity and Islam can together foster family values. Forte, who is not an Islamic scholar, contends that Islamic terrorists are heretics or not authentic Muslims. He seems to have reinforced Mr. Bush's naïve belief that all religions are peace-loving, and that a religious person cannot possibly be a terrorist, i.e., evil. Trivkovic comments: "Their faulty understanding of Islamic theology leads them to imagine that 'Allah' is more or less interchangeable with the 'God' of the monotheists." Their ecumenism is intended to counter the globalization of secularism.
Chapter 3,"Jihad Without End," demonstrates that the goal of Islamic jihad is world conquest, and that willingness of Muslims to sacrifice their lives to this end "is neither extreme nor even remarkable from the standpoint of traditional Islam." The notion of "inner" jihadof one's personal fight against his ego and sinful desirescame into being only after the Islamic Empire had been established. Of its countless jihads against unbelievers, Trifkovic emphasizes Islam's massacres in India, which "are unparalleled in history, bigger in sheer numbers than the Holocaust, or the massacre of the Armenians by the Turks." Regarding the Turks, "being a Greek, Armenian, Serb, or indeed any other Christian in the Ottoman Empire meant living in daily fear of murder, rape, torture, kidnap of one's children, slavery, and genocide."
Trifkovic, a Christian who acknowledges the crimes committed against the Jews during the Crusades, nonetheless emphasizes Islam's crimes against Christian communities throughout the Middle East and North Africa. He deplores "politically correct" academics: "Thirteen centuries of religious discrimination, causing suffering and death of countless millions, have been covered by the myth of Islamic 'tolerance,' that is hurtful to the few descendants of the victims as it is useless as a means of appeasing latter-day jihadists."
This leads to Chapter 4, "The Fruits," which explodes the myth of Islam's "Golden Age." Our author correctly notes that the medieval philosophers al-Farabi and Avicenna, both Persian, "belong to 'Islam' just as much as Voltaire belongs to 'Christianity.'" (Muhsin Mahdi has shown that Farabi, to avoid being executed, crafted his work on Plato and Aristotle in an esoteric style. On the surface he appears as a devout Muslim; but a close reading reveals him as a disciple of Greek philosophy.) Contrary to its apologists, the Muslim Empire inherited the knowledge and skills of Greece, Persia, and India (including what are still mistakenly known as "Arabic" numbers.) "Whatever flourished," writes Trifkovic, "it was not by reason of Islam, it was in spite of Islam." Thus, in 1993, the supreme religious authority of Saudi Arabia, Sheik Abdel-Aziz Ibn Baaz, issued an edict, declaring that the world is flat: anyone of the round persuasion does not believe in God and should be punished."
The chapter concludes with these words of Alexis de Tocqueville:
I studied the Kuran a great deal. I came away from that study with the conviction that by and large there have been few religions in the world as deadly to men as that of Muhammad. So far as I can see, it is the principal cause of the decadence so visible today in the Muslim world and, though less absurd than the polytheism of old, its social and political tendencies are in my opinion more to be feared, and I therefore regard it as a form of decadence rather than a form of progress in relation to paganism itself.
Islamic decadence is rooted in its impersonal and empty monotheism. In contrast, Hebraic monotheism, as may be seen in the Biblical account of creation, seeks to probe the unity underlying the totality of existenceof man and the universe. Moreover, the creativity for which Jews are famous, especially in the sciences, is rooted in the Genesis conception of man's creation in God's imagethe divine source of human creativity as well as the intellectual basis of Jewish faith. (In this latter respect, Judaism also differs from Christianity,)
Returning to Trivkovic, Chapter 5, "Western Appeasement," focuses on Washington's appeasement of Muslims in Bosnia, which has become a safe haven and transit for Arab terrorists. Israeli intelligence conveyed to the American State Department that "about 6,000 fighters in Bosnia, Herzegovina, Kosovo, Albania, and Macedonia are ready to do Bin Laden's bidding, and that a nucleus of Bin Laden followers in the Balkans could balloon into an army of about 40,000 men." Also, some 2,000 to 10,000 Muslim migrants are arriving in Bosnia every month.
Trivkovic reveals how the State Department, while accusing Russian forces in Muslim Chechnya of "human rights" violations, exempts from human rights requirements such predominantly Muslim countries as Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. (This hypocrisy is even more obscene in Washington's appeasement of the Arab Palestinians.) But our author's most dire warnings concern Washington's appeasement of Saudi Arabia. This totalitarian regime, linked to American corporations willing to sacrifice their country's interests to Mammon¸ is the financier of global terrorism.
Chapter 6, "Jihad's Fifth Column," surveys the incredibly rapid growth of the Muslim population in the West. Thanks to Saudi Arabia, thousands of mosques have sprung up throughout the U.S. and Europe. Their predominant message? Islam is the wave of the future. Despite Islam's openly declared objectives, the West refrains from restricting Muslim immigration and from enforcing the laws against Muslims who exploit democratic values to advance Islam's totalitarian ends.
Allied with these Muslims are postmodern liberals. These liberals are motivated by a hatred of Western civilization, primarily its biblical roots. Their pro-Muslim attitudemost pronounced in their support of the Palestiniansevinces an anti-Jewish animus. Academia is the seedbed of this unholy alliance of believers and atheists.
"Islam," Trivkovic concludes, "is a collective psychosis seeking to become global, and any attempt to compromise with such madness is to become part of the madness oneself." But what most threatens the West, says our author, is not Islam so much as the West's own "loss of Faith, and the arrogant doctrinerampant in 'the West' for three centuries nowthat man can solve the dilemma of his existence by his unaided intellect alone. If that loss is not reversed, the game is over anywayproving that where God retreats, Allah advances."
"The Sword of the Prophet" is indispensable reading.