Some Orthodox are clinging to dhimmitude and making excuses for those who wish to conquer and subjugate us all.
I invite you not to drop your weapons, and don't let your souls or your enemies rest until each one of you kills at least one American within a period that does not exceed 15 days with a sniper's gunshot or incendiary devices or Molotov cocktail or a suicide car bomb -- whatever the battle may require.
If the stupid pig [Pope Benedict XVI] is prancing with his blasphemies in his house, then let him wait for the day coming soon when the armies of the religion of right knock on the walls of Rome.
We will break up the cross, spill the liquor and impose the 'jizya', then the only thing acceptable is a conversion or the sword.
Soon Jerusalem will be the capital of the new Muslim caliphate, and the caliph's seat will be there.
We have repeatedly warned you [Americans] and offered a truce with you. Now we have all the legal and rational justification to continue to fight you until your power is destroyed or you give in and surrender.
You infidels and despots, we will continue our jihad and never stop until Allah avails us to chop your necks and raise the fluttering banner of monotheism, when Allah's rule is established governing all people and nations.
The above constitutes just a small sampling of quotes from Muslim leaders over the past few days regarding their intent, to wit, the conquest of the world and the subjection of all peoples to their evil and inhuman religion.
Certainly, the rhetoric has been stepped up in reaction to Pope Benedict XVI's quoting, in a speech exhorting German youth to reasonable discourse and non-violence, of a 14th Century debate between the Emperor of Byzantium and a Persian Islamist, in which the Emperor characterised Islam in those same terms: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." (It is noteworthy that the Muslim reaction has largely been something along the lines of, "How dare you insult Islam by calling it violent? Take it back and convert to Islam, or we will kill you and blow up all your Churches!") But hearing such sentiments from Muslim clerics, political leaders, and the terrorists they support and encourage is something de rigeur; an almost daily occurrence even in the most normal of times. There is good reason for this. As Robert Spencer writes:
JIHAD IS A CENTRAL DUTY of every Muslim. Modern Muslim theologians have spoken of many things as jihads: the struggle within the soul, defending the faith from critics, supporting its growth and defense financially, even migrating to non-Muslim lands for the purpose of spreading Islam. But in Islamic history and doctrine violent jihad is founded on numerous verses of the Qur'an -- most notably, one known in Islamic theology as the "Verse of the Sword": "Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is forgiving, merciful" (Sura 9:5). Establishing "regular worship" and paying the "poor-due" (zakat) means essentially that they will become Muslim, as these are two of the central responsibilities of every Muslim.
Sahih Bukhari, which Muslims regard as the most trustworthy of all the many collections of traditions of Muhammad, records this statement of the Prophet: "Allah assigns for a person who participates in (holy battles) in Allah's Cause and nothing causes him to do so except belief in Allah and in His Messengers, that he will be recompensed by Allah either with a reward, or booty (if he survives) or will be admitted to Paradise (if he is killed in the battle as a martyr)."
Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), a pioneering historian and philosopher, was also a legal theorist. In his renowned Muqaddimah, the first work of historical theory, he notes that "in the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force." In Islam, the person in charge of religious affairs is concerned with "power politics," because Islam is "under obligation to gain power over other nations."
Violent jihad is a constant of Islamic history. The passages quoted above and many others like them form a major element of the motivation of jihad warriors worldwide today. No major Muslim group has ever repudiated the doctrines of armed jihad. The theology of jihad, with all its assumptions about unbelievers ... lack of human rights and dignity, is available today as a justification for anyone with the will and the means to bring it to life.
From the introduction to JihadWatch.
Islam is clear about its goals and intentions. Crystal clear. But here in the "civilised" secular West, our leaders will have none of it. They refuse to admit one of the world's "great religions" to be a force of evil far greater than the twin monstrosities of the last century - Communism and Naziism. They refuse to acknowledge that Islam is anything but a "religion of peace." They refuse to recognise even the well-stated programme of Islam for world conquest.
As Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine leader George Habash explained to Oriana Fallaci in 1972:
Our revolution is a part of the world revolution. It is not confined to the reconquest of Palestine. Palestinians are part of the Arab nation. Therefore, the entire Arab nation must go to war against Europe and America. It must unleash a war against the West. And it will. America and Europe don't know that we Arabs are just at the beginning of the beginning. That the best is yet to come. That from now on there will be no peace for the West ... To advance step by step. Decade after decade. Determined, stubborn, patient. This is our strategy. A strategy that we shall expand throughout the whole planet.
Orthodox Christians should know better than to accept the common "religion of peace" rhetoric. After all, the Orthodox have suffered greatly under Muslim oppression, in some places for nearly 1500 years, as Islam conquered an empire that stretched from Indonesia to Spain. Orthodox Christians, when the weren't slaughtered outright, were subjugated as Dhimmis, a term ostensibly meaning "protected people", but in reality a condition little better than than most abject slavery.
Robert Spencer describes it thus:
Dhimmitude is the status that Islamic law, the Sharia, mandates for non-Muslims, primarily Jews and Christians. Dhimmis, "protected people," are free to practice their religion in a Sharia regime, but are made subject to a number of humiliating regulations designed to enforce the Qur'an's command that they "feel themselves subdued" (Sura 9:29). This denial of equality of rights and dignity remains part of the Sharia, and, as such, are part of the legal superstructure that global jihadists are laboring to restore everywhere in the Islamic world, and wish ultimately to impose on the entire human race.
If dhimmis complained about their inferior status, institutionalized humiliation, or poverty, their masters voided their contract and regarded them as enemies of Islam, fair game as objects of violence. Consequently, dhimmis were generally cowed into silence and worse. It was almost unheard-of to find dhimmis speaking out against their oppressors; to do so would have been suicide. For centuries dhimmi communities in the Islamic world learned to live in peace with their Muslim overlords by acquiescing to their subservience. Some even actively identified with the dominant class, and became strenuous advocates for it.
From the introduction to DhimmiWatch.
This syndrome is, unfortunately, something deeply evident among Orthodox Christians in Islamic lands. The violently anti-Israeli pontifications of the Jerusalem Patriarchate's Metropolitan Theodosios of Sebastia (formerly Fr. Atallah Hanna) , the rabid anti-Americanism and Intifada support of Metropolitan George Khodr of Mt. Lebanon and the Pan-Arabist speeches of Metropolitan Philip Saliba of New York are prime examples of this embrace of dhimmitude, as is the reaction of the Coptic Pope of Alexandria, Shenouda III, to Benedict XVI's lecture:
Coptic Pope Shenouda III told the pro-government Al-Ahram newspaper that he didn't hear the pope's exact words, but that "any remarks which offend Islam and Muslims are against the teachings of Christ".
Thus far, in fact, the only Orthodox Primate to take a stand against the Jihadists in this controversy has been Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and all-Greece:
In yet another furore to grip the Christian community, the head of the Orthodox Church of Greece has joined the Pope controversy by attacking what he calls Islamic fanaticism in Africa.
In a scathing attack, barely 48 hours after a Somali Islamic cleric called for Muslims to kill the Pope for his Tuesday utterances, Archbishop Christodoulos told [sic] a sermon in Athens that Christians in Africa were suffering at the hands of 'fanatic Islamists'.
"Many Christians on the Black Continent (Africa) suffer from fanatic Islamists. The example of Roman Catholic monks who were slaughtered last year ... because they wore the cross and believed in our crucified Lord is still recent," said Christodoulos.
This brings us to Fr. Andrew Phillips, a prominent British clergyman of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, who, in his latest editorial in Orthodox England blames the ostensibly-Christian-but-in-reality-secular West, as well as Zionist Israel, for all of the unpleasantness that has erupted in the Muslim world since 1948.
When a fourteenth-century Orthodox Christian Emperor of Constantinople, who has lost most of his territory and people in the destruction wreaked by Muslim invaders, sees nothing good in Mohammed, we can understand his viewpoint. However, when a twenty-first century Pope of Rome quotes him, we can understand that Muslims protest at his uttering of the quotation in the contemporary context.
The contemporary context is that Muslim countries have been invaded by Western forces. Generally, Muslims are no longer the aggressors, but the aggressed, and they behave as outraged victims all over the world always do, with crude reprisals. Bombarded in Gaza and the Lebanon, where they have been living in refugee camps for nearly sixty years, occupied in Iraq and Afghanistan, insulted by the former Italian leader who called the Western invasion there 'a Crusade', Muslims have the right to feel aggrieved. However, Muslims who burn an effigy of Pope Benedict XVI and threaten churches and priests in their countries with death remind us of the Muslim fanatics who protested in London earlier this year, with the slogan: 'Death to those who say that Islam is violent'.
First, to ascribe the Emperor Manuel II Paleologos' carefully constructed argument, one that happened in the course of an educated and civil theological debate simply to having "lost most of his territory and people in the destruction wreaked by Muslim invaders" rather than to the Emperor's own erudition and knowledge of the Quran, as well as his long acquaintance with the practise and tactics of Islam, is a great injustice, not to mention sheer misrepresentation of history, even in the service of being "understanding."
To the main point, though, Fr. Phillips' characterisation of the contemporary situation in incredibly naive, if not disingenuous. He disregards completely the stated intent of Islam for world domination, ignores the 20th Century history of Muslim terrorism and atrocity from the Armenian genocide in 1915 to the genocide of Greeks in Asia Minor (1895-1955) to the organisation of the Bosnian Handzar and Albanian Skanderbeg S.S. divisions for Hitler by Hajj Amin al-Husseini during WWII, and then writes off the more-or-less constant terrorist activities of Islam since 1947 all over the world, culminating in the 11 September 2001 attack on the US by al-Qaeda as the result of the Zionist and American invasion of Muslim lands.
Perhaps this will fly in the halls of the United Nations, but it is not a realistic assessment of the situation. Israel was the creation of the United Nations, and by that organisation's own resolutions has a right to exist and defend itself, and the US, with the minor exceptions of a bombing raid against Libya in the 1980s and the Gulf War, the purpose of which was to liberate one Muslim country from another's invasion, had taken no military action against any Muslim country until after she was attacked on 911. Even when she had sufficient cause, as she surely did in 1979 when Islamic Revolutionaries seized the American Embassy in Teheran and held its staff hostage for 444 days.
He then moves on to criticise the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church in this manner:
Institutional Roman Catholicism has a long history of violence. In fact it has been marked with violence ever since it began in the eleventh century. Thus, whether in Sicily, the British Isles, the Iberian Peninsula, the Holy Land, Cyprus, Central and Eastern Europe or the south-west of France, the Crusades were merely Roman Catholic jihads, probably slaughtering more Orthodox Christians and Jews than Muslims, and certainly ruining otherwise quite cordial relations between Muslim settlers in the Holy Land and the native Orthodox Christian residents.
One may also mention the Inquisition ('Kill them all, God will recognize his own'), the sixteenth-century 'Wars of Religion', the oppression of Orthodox by imperialist seventeenth-century Poland and the ensuing Uniat spiritual fraud, or the twentieth century slaughter of Orthodox in Bosnia and Croatia (those responsible for the genocide were given shelter in the Vatican in 1945 and then quietly transferred to Catholic Argentina and Fascist Spain, where they died in old age). The fact that the Vichy Jew-hater Paul Touvier was hidden for nearly fifty years in Roman Catholic monasteries in France and uncovered only in the 1990s, is no credit to the Vatican either.
Sadly, Vatican violence and oppression have continued to this day, with the oppression by Roman Catholics of Orthodox in Poland, Slovakia, the Ukraine, Croatia (again) and now Kosovo. For a Pope of Rome to complain about violence in religion is nothing but hypocrisy.
I am not sure of the relevance of this litany of Roman Catholic injustices over the centuries (some of it quite erroneous - e.g., in the Crusades, as bad as they were, especially regarding the 1204 sack of Constantinople, it is well known that more Muslims died than Christians and Jews combined), except as fodder for Fr. Phillips's charge of hypocrisy against the Pope. As an Orthodox Christian, I am well aware of the Vatican's history of violence against and oppression of Orthodox Christians (except in Kosovo, where the clash is between Orthodox Serbs and Muslim Albanians, as he is surely aware). But to call Benedict XVI a hypocrite for making a speech exhorting his own followers to reasoned discourse and renunciation of violence is surely uncalled for. Fr. Andrew, perhaps, like Pope Shenouda, has not familiarised himself with what was said?
Further, it is unjust to propound such a slanted and incomplete version of history. For instance, Fr. Andrew does not mention the fact that the Byzantine Empire initially welcomed the idea of the Crusades, nor does he acknowledge that we ourselves have been guilty of some of the same bad behaviour - just ask the Copts and the Syrian Jacobites. The point of invoking all of this can only be to poison the well.
Fr. Phillips goes on with a tirade against "Protestant" British and American Imperialism, and the damage they have done throughout the world, a diatribe more typical of a left-leaning American University professor than an Orthodox Priest. Then he engages in the dubious activity of equating all Western Christianity with secularism, something that is demonstrably untrue - certainly Medieval Catholicism, the Reformation, and the dialectial struggle between them contributed to opening the door for the secular humanism that has, over the past three centuries, emerged as the prime "enemy within" of Western civilisation, a conglomeration of various antichrist philosophies that has roots stretching from the Renaissance back into the paganism of antiquity, whose trunk has grown up through the Enlightenment, and which has now borne a ripe harvest of unbelief and every kind of licentiousness. And this has, of course, affected Catholicism and Protestantism, as they have either embraced modernity and post-modernity or retreated into pietism.
Thus, it is true that the West is now largely secular, the result of a complex process. Fr. Andrew does no service to a reasonable understanding of history with such an oversimplified and erroneous presentation.
To be fair to Fr. Phillips, I must say that he does not entirely let anybody off the hook. He writes:
The fact is that Institutional Roman Catholicism, 'the Vatican', carries nearly a thousand years of crimes on its shoulders. However, if the politics were to be removed from Catholic belief, the Institutional Religion removed from the Faith, the Roman removed from Catholicism, we would have a very different view. Catholicism without ideology, without Papism, without the Vatican, without oppression, seems to us a respectable concept. It is in fact what most ordinary Catholics actually believe in. But then it would no longer be Catholicism - but something else - akin to Christianity. Roman Catholicism as an Institution, and its State-manipulated Protestant children, form not so much a civilization as a secularization. Allied with this world, Institutional Western Christianity is inherently secular.
The fact is that Institutional Islam also carries well over a thousand years of crimes on its shoulders also. However, if the politics were to be removed from Muslim belief, the Institutional Religion removed from the Faith, the jihad removed from Islam, we would have a very different view. Islam without ideology, without 'Islamism', without fanaticism, without oppression, seems to us a respectable concept. It is in fact what most ordinary Muslims believe in. But then it would no longer be Islam - but something else - akin to Christianity. Islam as an Institution, and its State-manipulated Shia children, form not so much a civilization as a secularization. Allied with this world, Institutional Islam is inherently secular.
I am not sure what the point of this exercise in what-if really is, other than a device by which to say that both Western Christianity and Islam have, by certain of their positions - positions which, by the way are not just add-ons, but rather form part of the warp and woof of the respective systems - turned themselves into "secularizations"; that they have sacrificed the integrity of their systems for an overlay of worldliness. While this idea may have some validity with regard to Roman Catholicism (indeed, it is one of our more frequent criticisms of the Papacy), it does not hold true for Islam, which is a cruel and violent ideology of conquest at its very core. The claim that either Western Christianity or Islam is "inherently secular" is really not supportable, except from the point of view of a pietism that derides anything earthly as unspiritual. Quite frankly, up until the fall of the great Orthodox Empires, Orthodoxy would have been open to the same charge on the same basis. It is only since our fortunes have fallen to the Turkis and Communist yokes that we can afford to cloister ourselves and deride all worldly activity. Before that, we were busy running empires and spreading the dominion of Christ. Popular Orthodox pietism fails to recognise the comprehensiveness of the gospel, that it applies to all areas of life, that the object of salvation is not simply to pluck souls out of the fire, but to redeem all creation. Thus, the gospel has claims over every area of life, including international affairs. Like Islam, it aims to fill the world - just not by coercion.
Thus, I can agree with much of what he says below, apart from the sophistry involved in his redefinition of "civilisation", for I affirm that the only salvation for the world is our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ and His gospel, and the spread of the Church, leavening the whole lump.
In recent years, especially since 11 September 2001, much has been talked about a 'Clash of Civilizations', with regard to the so-called 'Christian' (i.e. in fact, secular Western) world and the Islamic world. However, true civilizations do not clash, they co-operate. Today's Western-Muslim conflict is not a clash of civilizations, but a clash of two different secular systems, concerned with power, territory and resources (especially oil, but increasingly water also).
And the demons that live in the empty house of these secular civilizations will not be exorcized by the political, the military, the economic, or by institutionalized religion, whatever it may be, but by the spiritual. Any attempt to organize the world without spiritual vision is doomed to failure, because it ignores the fundamental spiritual nature and destiny of mankind. Only when people begin to speak of the spiritual, unmixed with the dross of the rest, shall we begin to see peace and harmony in this saddened and darkened world, which, heedless, is now speeding towards its end.
That said, however, the point that Fr. Andrew completely misses stands with chilling presence before us - while he makes excuses for the fanatical behaviour of the Muslims, while he casts the Muslim warriors as victims of Western oppression, the Jihad has begun. We are living in Dar al-Harb (the land of war), and the mujahideen are poised to fall upon us. We must prepare ourselves with repentance, prayer, the progressive re-Christianisation of our societies, and a willingness either to suffer martyrdom (as did so many of our sainted forefathers under the Muslim yoke) or to put up a fight (as did so many others of our sainted forefathers).
That is the choice before us. Perhaps the West will be defeated at the hands of Islam - the sure result of how we Christians have failed to live up to the demands of the gospel; have not walked circumspectly, redeeming the time; have retreated into our Churches while the secularists captured the centres of power and civilisation. But perhaps also God is giving us the chance he did to Nineveh in the days of the Prophet Jonah, that if we repent we might be spared. The jury is out on this, for now.
David Selbourne, on 9 September 2006, wrote an article for the London Times, entitled "Can the West defeat the Islamist threat? Here are ten reasons why not." It is worthy of a careful reading, and it comes down to this (though Selbourne, of course, does not put it in these terms) - Western Civilisation, once Christian, is in disarray, has degenerated into secular humanism, and has neither a sufficient raison d'etre or the necessary will to survive in order to withstand the juggernaut that has risen out of the Arabian desert.
But there are still 7000 that have not bowed the knee to Baal, and we must put our trust in the Lord, repent, pray, engage ourselves diligently in the hard work of conforming our cultures to the Kingdom and steel ourselves for the onslaught of an enemy that gives no quarter. Perhaps He will allow us to prevail, preserve our freedom, and actively pursue the Great Commission that which we have so neglected. Or perhaps, since the West has become as Sodom and Gomorrah, He will chasten us under the rod of an expanded Islamic Umma. We must, at all costs, remember the it is our God that directs history.
Why have the heathen raged, and the peoples meditated empty things? The kings of the earth were aroused, and the rulers were assembled together, against the Lord, and against His Christ. Let us break their bonds asunder, and let us cast away their yoke from us. He that dwelleth in the heavens shall laugh them to scorn, and the Lord shall deride them. Then shall He speak unto them in His wrath, and in His anger shall He trouble them. But as for Me, I was established as king by Him, upon Sion His holy mountain, proclaiming the commandment of the Lord. The Lord said unto Me: Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee. Ask of Me, and I will give Thee the nations for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession. Thou shalt herd them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt shatter them like a potter's vessels. And now, O ye kings, understand; be instructed, all ye that judge the earth. Serve ye the Lord with fear, and rejoice in Him with trembling. Lay hold of instruction, lest at any time the Lord be angry, and ye perish from the righteous way. When quickly His wrath be kindled, blessed are all that have put their trust in Him.
~ Psalm 2
Ephrem Hugh Bensusan is an independent Computer Networking Consultant, and the Director of Tserkovnost: An Eastern Orthodox Resource Centre. He serves as Chanter at St. Basil the Great Antiochian Orthodox Church in Silver Springs, Florida.
Read the entire article on the Razilaenje website (new window will open). Reprinted with permission.