Is Political Islam Worse Than Nazi or Communist Totalitarianism? Ask St. John Paul II.
President Trump has gotten himself in hot water. Wednesday morning, he shared on Twitter some videos of what were apparently Islamist attacks on Christians. Critics quickly pointed out that the videos weren’t exactly what they seemed to be. More alarming, their source was Britain First, a group which the British establishment labels as “extremist.”
A friend or advisor needs to have a sit down with the president. There is no need whatsoever to use putatively dubious videos to highlight how alarming political Islam is. Real footage of Islamists marching in Britain, or photos from terrorist attacks all over Europe, are easy to find. And the best source for terrifying statements about Islam is official Muslim texts. Try the Koran itself, or manuals of sharia.
Don’t Listen to Britain First, But to St. John Paul II
A few days ago, I cited a credible report that in 1993 St. John Paul II shared with a priest friend a vision received in prayer. Just three short years after the collapse of Communist totalitarianism, John Paul saw a horrible future: An almost childless Europe overwhelmed by the mass influx of intolerant Muslims. Its churches were turned to mosques, its believers persecuted. To repeat his most troubling words:
“‘Tell this to those whom you will meet in the Church of the third millennium. I see the Church afflicted by a deadly scourge. Deeper, more painful and more deadly than those of this millennium’, referring to … communism and Nazi totalitarianism. ‘It’s called islamism.”
Roll that around your head for a while. As a young man, John Paul saw the Nazis smash into recently independent Poland. They “decapitated” the culture, targeting professors, teachers, priests, and other culture-bearers for murder or prison camps. They killed, through combat, hunger, and death camps, one fourth of Poland’s pre-war population, including nearly all its Jews. As the Nazis receded, their former Soviet allies rolled in — who had in 1940 murdered thousands of Polish officers at Katyn. While Stalin’s outright genocides were over, in China, Mao launched his own. Tens of millions perished, and Christianity had to go underground from the Elbe River to the Pacific Ocean.
Yet John Paul II called political Islam “[d]eeper, more painful and more deadly” than any of that. Or in fact, than anything else that had afflicted Europe for a thousand years (1000-1993).
The Greatest Threat to Christians
Was that mere hyperbole? Or was John Paul II speaking from a depth of historical knowledge and Christian wisdom? Consider this: Bloody and brutal as it was, Nazism lasted just 13 years. Its thuggishness repelled the world. Its irrational hatreds and chaotic policies doomed it.
Communism seemed more sophisticated, with a pseudo-intellectual façade for its rank appeal to envy. But the economic hopelessness of socialism wrote its own epitaph, as Ludwig von Mises predicted in 1920. It lasted in Russia, its homeland, just 73 years, and only then because of market tweaks to make it more workable. In China, the dictatorship that rules there now uses Marxism mainly as a fig-leaf for old-fashioned tyranny. Christianity, while persecuted, survived in Nazi Germany, clung to life in Soviet Russia, and is burgeoning illegally in China. Even in North Korea, we hear reports of a tenacious underground church.
The Church Killer
Islam, by contrast, really can wipe out Christianity in a region. It has done so over and over again. It began with a burst of conquest. Muhammad and his heirs goaded Arab tribes to conquer most of the Mediterranean. Soon their empire stretched from Spain to India. Obedient to the Koran, Muslim armies killed Hindu polytheists with abandon, some scholars say by the millions.
Muslim scholars have unfolded the essence of the Koran for believers for centuries. And believers acted on it, by conquering and subjugating almost half the world. Scholars drew Islam’s message up in a comprehensive, “divinely revealed” legal code (sharia). Muslims are not just meant to live by it, but to impose it on every country on earth — subduing non-Muslims who are technically “rebels” against God.
Almost every city that St. Paul mentions in his letters is now stripped of Christians. They were all driven out, killed or ground down to apostasy. Of the ancient patriarchal cities of the Christian church, three out of four were in Muslim hands by 800 AD: Alexandria, Jerusalem, Antioch. Only Rome was still free, and the newer seat of Constantinople. Muslims raided Rome and soon besieged Constantinople. They kept attacking it for 800 years until it fell.
Then Turkish armies tore into the underbelly of Europe. They occupied and enslaved Christian nations from Greece up through Hungary. They periodically tried to burst through Vienna’s gates to subjugate the continent. Meanwhile, the Ottomans harvested soldiers by regularly kidnapping Christian children in the thousands to raise as fanatical Janissaries . In 1915, that empire began the first modern genocide, against Armenians, Greeks, and Assyrians.
An Opportunistic Infection
After two hundred years of comparative weakness and disorder, political Islam is now resurgent. Not that it has any new ideas. Nor viable solutions to modern problems. No, it just has a higher birthrate, and billions of dollars in oil money funneled from Saudi Arabia. The Gulf States reject Muslim “refugees.” Instead they build new mosques and schools all over Europe. They pour billions into spreading their purist Wahabist Islam worldwide.
ISIS imitates Muhammad as the Franciscans imitate Jesus.
Meanwhile we have abandoned our own notions of virtue, chastity, honor, and patriotism. We’ve compromised our immune system with modernity’s civilizational AIDS. Islam is now arriving like a handy case of pneumonia to carry us off.
The Split in Islam: Mecca vs. Medina
Islam is a complex religion, which I won’t pretend to unpack in a single column. But as former Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali told the Hoover Institution, there are simple historical facts we can start with. The revelations Muhammad claimed to receive fall into two starkly different periods, with contrasting content.
While he was an obscure would-be religious leader living in the pagan city of Mecca, Muhammad sang one tune: “Kumbaya.” He condemned religious coercion. He called for mutual brotherhood. He flattered both Jews and Christians as “people of the book.” Each had worthy (if partial) revelations from God. Muhammad had simply come along to complete and correct them.
These are the parts of the Koran that you hear about from front groups like the Council on American Islamic Relations. Also from dupes in the Bush Administration, and from pasty-white Christian clerics at “interreligious events.” You won’t hear these sections cited by Christian refugees from Iraq, Egypt, or Syria. They must seem like a bitter joke.
Allah Reverses Himself, Conveniently
Later, Muhammad emigrated to greener pastures in Medina. The city welcomed him as a sage who could settle the constant feuds among Arab clans that were tearing the place apart. He soon gained power as absolute ruler of the city.
At that point, wouldn’t you know it, his revelations began to change. Now God was telling him to “slay the unbeliever.” To raid his caravans and take his cargo. Suddenly God revoked what he’d said before. He just flip-flopped on countless issues. The changes (“abrogations”) were always in the direction of giving the new military ruler of Medina permission to rape and pillage. Muhammad promised his holy warriors (jihadis) the highest place in heaven if they died in combat. Those who survived could keep most of the loot they captured (the mosque got a cut). They could keep any women they chose to take home as sex slaves after killing their infidel husbands and fathers. As I wrote here a few months ago, ISIS imitates Muhammad as the Franciscans imitate Jesus: They do what he did, in the same way he did it, for the same reasons.
Decoding the Koran
It’s crucial to know which parts of the Koran were “revealed” in Mecca, and which in Medina. Why? Because for Muslims it’s fine that God contradicts himself in his “perfect, eternal book,” the Koran. The passages that are binding are those that came latest, chronologically. So the Koran works much like the U.S. Supreme Court, which can overturn its own precedents and remake the Constitution at will. But how do we know which parts came last (that is, in Medina), and are binding for Muslims? The Koran won’t tell you. It’s traditionally organized not by chronology, or even by subject matter. No, the chapters (suras) are arranged … according to word count. If those who compiled the Koran (from oral tradition) had been trying to encode its meaning, they couldn’t have done a better job.
For non-Muslims, the only real way to understand the Koran is to read it in chronological order. That’s the order in which Western editions used to present the material, until the 1940s. British patriot Tommy Robinson has produced such an edition, with commentary, which I am reading. I recommend it to everyone: Muhammed’s Koran. You owe it to yourself to get this book and study it carefully. It’s a snapshot of our future.
Muslim clerics have unfolded the essence of the Koran for believers for centuries. And believers acted on it, by conquering and subjugating almost half the world. Scholars drew Islam’s message up in a comprehensive, “divinely revealed” legal code (sharia). Muslims are not just meant to live by it, but to impose it on every country on earth — subduing non-Muslims who are technically “rebels” against God. In the ideal Muslim future, no other religion will be preached or promoted, though Christians and Jews may be tolerated, if they accept status as segregated, second-class citizens heavily taxed. Every able-bodied Muslim male has the duty to promote this utopia, via jihad (war), dawa (propaganda), or hijra (immigration).
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The World’s First Global Totalitarian Movement
In other words, political Islam is the first totalitarian system in the world. It’s by far the most successful. How many of the world’s billion Muslims understand it fully and accept it? It’s impossible to say. But public opinion surveys among Muslims around the world reveal that tens of millions say they support sharia and violent jihad. With a base of one billion, you only need a small percentage to fuel uncontainable terrorism and extremism all across the planet.
And that is why we are living through the first part of John Paul’s prophecy:
“They will invade Europe. I saw the hordes coming from the West to the East’, and he described to me the countries one by one: from Morocco to Libya to Egypt, and so on to the eastern parts. The Holy Father added, ‘They will invade Europe, Europe will be like a cellar, old relics, shadowy, cobwebs. Family heirlooms. You, the Church of the third millennium, will have to contain the invasion. Not with armies, armies will not suffice, but with your faith, lived with integrity.’ ”
Next time I’ll address the Pope’s call to resistance, and what it must entail.