Sunday, May 31, 2015

Islamic Jizya: Fact and Fiction

"Jizya is yet another ugly fact of Islam—add to offensive jihad, imperialism, misogyny, slavery, etc.—one that cannot be whitewashed away, even as the world stands idly by watching its resumption in the twenty-first century."

by Raymond Ibrahim — May 28, 2015

The Return of Jizya

Muslim demands for non-Muslim “infidels” to pay jizya on pain of death are growing, even as the West fluctuates between having no clue what jizya is and thinking that jizya is an example of “tolerance” in Islam.

In the video where the Islamic State slaughters some 30 Christian Ethiopians in Libya last April, the spokesman repeatedly pointed out that payment of jizya (which the impoverished Ethiopian migrant workers could not render, nor the 21 Copts before them) is the only way for Christians around the world to safeguard their lives:

But whoever refuses [to pay jizya] will see nothing from us but the edge of a spear. The men will be killed and the children will be enslaved, and their wealth will be taken as booty. This is the judgment of Allah and His Messenger.

When the Islamic State invaded ancient Christian regions around the Ninevah Plain last June,  it again declared: “We offer them [Assyrian Christians] three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract—involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword.”

The Islamic State—which most Western politicians ludicrously insist “has nothing to do with Islam”—is not alone in calling for jizya from Christian “infidels.”  In 2002, Saudi Sheikh Muhammad bin Abdul Rahman, discussing the Muslim prophet’s prediction that Islam will eventually conquer Rome, said, “We will control the land of the Vatican; we will control Rome and introduce Islam in it. Yes, the Christians . . . will yet pay us the jizya, in humiliation, or they will convert to Islam.”

And in a video recently posted, Sheik ‘Issam Amira appears giving a sermon in Al Aqsa Mosque where he laments that too many Muslims think jihad is only for defense against aggressors, when in fact Muslims are also obligated to wage offensive jihad against non-Muslims:

When you face your pagan enemy, call them—either to Islam, jizya, or seek Allah’s help and fight them.  Even if they do not fight [or initiate hostilities], fight them!… Fight them!  When?  When they fight you?  No, when they refuse to convert to Islam or refuse to pay jizya….  Whether they like it or not, we will subjugate them to Allah’s authority.

In short, if the Islamic State is enforcing jizya on “infidels,” demands for its return are on the increase all around the Muslim world.  Put differently, if Abu Shadi, an Egyptian Salfi leader, once declared that Egypt’s Christians “must either convert to Islam, pay jizya, or prepare for war,” Dr. Amani Tawfiq, a female professor at Egypt’s Mansoura University, once said that “If Egypt wants to slowly but surely get out of its economic situation and address poverty in the country, the jizya has to be imposed on the Copts.”

Saturday, May 30, 2015

End of Days: A Lamentation for Constantinople

The great clouds of Christian martyrs of the 20th and early 21st centuries join the heroic witnesses of the Imperial City of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire.

May 29 is the anniversary of the capture and desolation of the great Christian city of Constantinople by the forces of Islam in 1453.

The Fall of Constantinople

We live in an age of global upheaval, of titanic forces and epochal change. After the bloody twentieth century, which saw 50 million or more Orthodox and Eastern Christians martyred for their faith in Jesus Christ, now we see a new wave of genocide committed by Muslims against Christians at the start of the twenty-first. A new harvest of holy martyrs joins the ranks of the saints in the heavens...

Many young people today may see Islam become the world’s largest religious group and dominant military-political force during their lifetime, and Europe may itself soon fall or capitulate to the pressures of millions of Muslim immigrants within their borders, and tens of millions more without.

The United States seems to have lost its way, conniving and plotting — and when the cost is not too high waging open warfare — against Orthodox Christian nations like Russia, Ukraine, Greece, Serbia and Romania. Christians here at home are now the targets of a perfect storm of neo-pagans, liberals, and the LGBT mob. We are mindful of the words of our Lord Jesus Christ:

"If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.
If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father.
But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause'."

— John 15:18-24-25

We live in dire times, not dissimilar to the gathering darkness which preceded the defeat of Constantinople in the fifteenth century. For the Christian citizens of the Great City, it must have felt like the ‘End of Days’.  It feels like that now, at times.

The Fall of Constantinople is a sign for us, that it can happen here, now. That our earthly cities can and will be swept away by the enemies of Christ. Yet we are called to stand firm in the Faith, knowing that Jesus Christ has already conquered, and that He will not forsake us.

"This calls for the patient endurance of the saints..." —Rev. 13:10

In somber commemoration of this dark event, below are two accounts of the Muslim Turks’ crime against God and His people. May we be moved to deep repentance, faith and steadfast courage by the noble examples of our brothers and sisters, martyrs and confessors of so long ago.

Islamic State has 30,000 foreign jihadis from over 100 countries

"None of them existed in a vacuum before they joined the Islamic State. They learned their Islam somewhere."

RelatedEU Underestimates Number of Westerners Fighting for Jihad

via Jihad Watch — May 29, 2015

The ISIS victory parade after the capture of Ramadi

30,000: that’s an awful lot of Muslims who fell for this Nothing-To-Do-With-Islam form of Islam. How to explain so many misunderstanders? After all, none of them existed in a vacuum before they joined the Islamic State. They learned their Islam somewhere. Are we to believe that the slickness of the Islamic State’s video presentations alone was enough to induce this throng to throw over the true, peaceful Islam it learned down at the corner mosque and join up with the hijackers of their religion? We live in an age of infantile analysis.

“ISIS has 30,000 foreign fighters from more than 100 countries,” 
by Abdelhak Mamoun, Iraqi News, May 29, 2015:

( According to a report to the UN Security Council, nearly 30 thousand foreign fighters were recruited currently in the ISIS ranks. They came from 100 countries around the world including countries that had been untouched by the activity of terrorist groups such as Chile and Finland.

The members of the Security Council will meet on Friday to discuss a report on “foreign terrorist fighters” and consider possible measures to combat this threat.

This is the first report of its kind in the United Nations, which addresses the issue of “foreign fighters”, and includes countries such as Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, in addition to North African countries such as Libya.

The report indicated that the number of recruits in ISIS ranks has increased by about 70% during the past nine months.

NYT’s Artistic Display of Religious Hypocrisy: Runs Offensive Virgin Mary Painting Once Again

So called "art" which presents offensive depictions of Christ and His Most Pure Mother, the Holy Theotokos (Greek: "Birthgiver of God"), is part of the Western cultural persecution of Christianity, one waged "more by sneer than by spear," as I heard Fr. Thomas Hopko (of beloved memory) put it in a talk.

via Jihad Watch — May 30, 2015

The hypocrisy is stark and absolute: “Under Times standards, we do not normally publish images or other material deliberately intended to offend religious sensibilities” — unless it offends a group that is not committing mass murder and threatening more over such images. This is, as I wrote yesterday, still more mainstream media canonization of the assassin’ veto. The mainstream media is signaling that terrorism works: threaten to kill us, and we will do what you want. That will only bring more terrorism.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

William Kilpatrick: 'How to Alienate Moderate Muslims'

"If the moderate Muslim was inclined to resist the radicals, he will be less likely to do so if he looks around and notices that no one else is resisting... Why should he stick his neck out?"

William Kilpatrick makes a compelling case for resisting encroaching Islamization and the creeping advance of sharia culture in America.

See also my post, Freedom, Provocation and Targets: 'No Cartoons Required'

How to Alienate Moderate Muslims
by William Kilpatrick, Crisis Magazine — May 26, 2015

The winning cartoon of Muhammad. I post this because I still can!
The recent “draw Muhammad” contest in Garland, Texas not only drew fire from two armed jihadists, it also drew fire from Christian leaders and media critics. One of the chief objections was that events of this type will alienate moderate Muslims and possibly drive them into the radical camp.

It can just as easily be argued, however, that caving on the cartoon issue is more likely to result in a defection of moderate Muslims than the drawings themselves. And caving seems to be the order of the day. The Muhammad art exhibit and cartoon contest has been roundly criticized not only by the usual suspects in the liberal media but also by conservative journalists and conservative religious leaders such as Franklin Graham. In general, the critics say that free speech is a wonderful thing, but that it should never be used to insult what is most sacred to others.

When Franklin Graham registers his disapproval, it’s undoubtedly because he genuinely believes that it’s wrong to mock another person’s deeply held faith. On the other hand, when secular opinion-makers voice the same concern, it’s probably because they are genuinely afraid. Any moderately informed moderate Muslim knows that secular pundits have no problem if someone mocks the things held sacred by Catholics or Mormons [or Orthodox!]. He will understand that what’s at issue is not whether religion is insulted, but whether Islam is insulted. And, if the most powerful players in the media are afraid of Islam, why wouldn’t he be?

If the moderate Muslim was inclined to resist the radicals, he will be less likely to do so if he looks around and notices that no one else is resisting, except for a handful of people whom the media has labeled as “haters.” Why should he stick his neck out? If the supposed guardians of free speech who are relatively safe from retaliation nevertheless bow to Islamic law, then prudence suggests that he do the same. The constant kowtowing to Islamic demands has the result of putting increased pressure on the moderate Muslim to do some kowtowing of his own. He won’t necessarily join forces with the jihadists, but neither will he do much to oppose them.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Egyptian Mosque Sermons Reminiscent of ISIS

"The mosque’s imam spoke in tones reminiscent of the Islamic State... hailing “the future of Islam, the glory of Muslims, the humiliation of polytheists—Islam is coming and Allah will make it victorious over all the earth.”

by Raymond Ibrahim — May 20, 2015

On Friday, May 15, the prayer leader of Safa Mosque in the city of Mersa Matruh, west of Alexandria, Egypt, repeatedly declared that “the Islamic caliphate will return and that Jerusalem, though stolen at the hands of the Jews, will return to Muslims once again.”

The mosque’s imam further spoke in tones reminiscent of the Islamic State, including by hailing “the future of Islam, the glory of Muslims, the humiliation of polytheists—Islam is coming and Allah will make it victorious over all the earth.”

Therefore, counseled the Muslim preacher, “It is incumbent on all Muslims to commit themselves to the mores of Islam, to follow the example of the Messenger of Allah, and to adhere to the Book of Allah and his Sunna”—precisely those things that the Islamic State is doing.

Islamic State Militants Destroy Assyrian Churches Northern Syria

"The group has reportedly destroyed most of the churches in the area before withdrawal, military sources reported."

By Zozan Shekho

ARA News via AINA — May 26, 2015

The Assyrian Virgin Mary Church in Tel Nasri, Syria,
was destroyed by ISIS on April 15.
Hasakah, Syria -- Radicals of the Islamic State's (IS/ISIL) withdrew from several Assyrian villages in Tel Temir countryside in northeastern Syria, after battles with Kurdish and Assyrian forces.

The group has reportedly destroyed most of the churches in the area before withdrawal, military sources reported on Monday.

Speaking to ARA News, Fayez Korko, member of Haras al-Khabur force, said that a huge devastation hit the Assyrian areas in the vicinity of Tel Temir at the hands of IS terrorists, especially the worship places and civilians' property.

"They dropped the church's crosses and crashed them all. They also damaged all contents of the churches and painted anti-Christian slogans on the walls," he added.

63 Christian churches have been destroyed during the years of war in Syria

Although "churches were destroyed both by the opposition forces and the government army of President Bashar al-Assad... the report accuses only ISIS militants of desecration of Christian crosses... it is impossible to describe all the cases of attacks on Christian churches."

Pravoslavie — May 26, 2015

63 Christian churches have been destroyed during the years of war in Syria. The human rights organization, “Syrian Network for Human Rights” (SNHR), has published a report, entitled “Targeting Christian Places of Work in Syria”, reports

Authors of the report state that during the four years of war, churches were destroyed both by the opposition forces and the government army of President Bashar al-Assad. According to the 21-page report, directed against the legitimate regime, 14 churches were burned down by the opposition, 7 churches – by extremist groups (ISIS, Al-Nusra Front), while another 40 fell victims of the “ruthless” regime of B. al-Assad.

The report mentions one incident of deliberate desecration of a church in Kasab by the government troops. However, according to “World Watch Monitor”, islamists from “Al-Nusra” are responsible for that crime.

In spite of the consistent criticism of the Syrian government, SNHR admits that the majority of the churches “destroyed by the government forces” were situated on the territories controlled by the opposition.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Christians in the Middle East: Martyred by Muslims in their Homeland, Disdained by Christians in America

In an early 2014 article by Michael Brendan Dougherty titled, 'The World’s Most Ancient Christian Communities are being Destroyed — and No One Cares', I was struck in particular by this brief quote, which sums up the problem in a memorable manner:

“The victims are ‘too Christian’ to excite the Left, and ‘too foreign’ to excite the Right.” —French philosopher Regis Debray

Quite so. I might amend Debray's observation to read that the Christian victims are "too Eastern" to excite American Protestant/Evangelical Christians to action. Though, as an Orthodox Christian myself, I am tempted to charge that the Christian victims of Islamic jihad are actually "too Christian" altogether.

Rod Dreher recently offered some reflections on this phenomenon following an encounter he had with a Bible-believer, which I hope American Baptists, Evangelicals and assorted others of the 33,000-or-so Protestant denominations (World Christian Encyclopedia by Barrett, Kurian, Johnson; Oxford Univ Press, 2nd edition, 2001) will ponder:

Over the weekend, I got into a brief Twitter exchange with a pastor of a nondenominational “Bible church” (as if all churches aren’t Bible churches) in Texas who said that I am not a Christian, because Orthodox and Catholics are not Christian. I pointed out to him that Christianity did not begin with the Reformation, but then decided to block the guy on Twitter, because the last thing I wanted to do was get into an exchange with a guy like that. 
An hour later, I was standing in our Orthodox vespers service, thinking about that guy and smiling. There we were, praying in a church that can trace itself in an unbroken line back to the apostles. We chanted Psalms and read passages aloud from the Old Testament. We sang hymns commemorating the Council of Nicaea (325), and its victory over the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Jesus. As in every vespers service, we sang the hymn “O Joyful Light,” which is the oldest surviving hymn from antiquity, having been composed in the late third or early fourth century; tradition says it was written by a bishop on his way to martyrdom. He didn’t write it for a praise band. 
And I thought about all the Christians of the Middle East being exiled and martyred today for their faith in Jesus Christ. These Christians are almost entirely Orthodox, Eastern Rite Catholic, or members of one of the Nestorian churches. Whatever their communion, their ancestors were worshiping Jesus Christ as God when the ancestors of nearly all of us northern Europeans were praying to pagan gods. 
And yet, to this fundamentalist Protestant in Texas, these people are not Christian.

Rod's musings on the Orthodox Vespers service hit some of the myriad highlights as to why Orthodoxy deserves to recognized as authentic Christianity. While there are some Nestorian groups to be sure, it is illuminating to consider two recent articles by Dr. Anton Vrame of the Greek Archdiocese on the Assyrians and the Armenians, as well as an affirming "Amen" to the canonization by the Coptic Orthodox Church of the 21 Coptic Christian Martyrs of Libya, written by Fr. Lawrence Farley, as hopeful signs. Out of the darkness of Islamic persecution of Christians is shining the light of true Christian faith, showing there is far more uniting many of the Eastern Christian communions than the often circumstantial historical anomalies which have separated us for centuries.

Greek Media: "Orthodoxy for the USA is like a Red Flag to a Bull"

Some who follow the media closely are positive that the anti-Church campaign in Greece is financed by the USA.

Pravoslavie — May 26, 2015

Thousands in Greece venerate the relics of St Barbara.
The USA hates the veneration of saints and hates the Orthodox
Church, and therefore is promoting depravity and godlessness
in Greece, Russia, and other traditionally Orthodox nations.
(Athens, May 22, 2015)  An anti-Church campaign is continuing in Greece. It flared up after the holy relics of Great Martyr Barbara had been brought to the country. Some who follow the media closely are positive that the campaign is financed by the USA.

“For the USA, Orthodoxy is like a red flag to a bull… This is because Orthodox peoples are friendly towards Russia. That is why in Greece in every way – through media and Non-Governmental Organizations controlled by the USA – godlessness is being promoted and the faith ridiculed. The huge influx of the faithful to the relics of St. Barbara has startled the West and caused the intensification of this propaganda,” experts of the Greek portal are convinced, reports AgionOros.

It should be noted that St. Barbara’s relics, which are permanently kept at the San Marco Basilica of Venice, were brought to Greece, and this caused a wave of negative publications in the liberal media. The event has already been called “unprecedented”.

Thousands call for Hagia Sophia (Church) to be converted into mosque in Istanbul rally (VIDEO)

Pressure continues to build for converting Hagia Sophia into a mosque in rapidly re-Islamizing Turkey.


via Jihad Watch — May 25, 2015

Thousands call for Hagia Sophia (Church) to be converted into mosque in Istanbul rally
Well, they say hundreds:

Hundreds of people demanded that the historic Istanbul Hagia Sophia museum be converted into a mosque during a rally in Istanbul on May 24.

People gathered outside Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia, in the historical Sultanahmet district, with some carrying signs that read: “Hagia Sophia needs to be reopened as a mosque,” and “Let our lives be sacrificed for Islam.”

The protest was led by many Turkish nongovernmental organizations, including the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (İHH).

Designed as a Christian basilica in the sixth century by Anthemios of Tralles and Isidorus of Miletus, Hagia Sophia is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Monday, May 25, 2015

81% Of Al Jazeera Arabic Poll Respondents Support Islamic State

More proof of widespread Muslim support for ISIS.


Breitbart, May 25, 2015

In a recent survey conducted by, the website for the Al Jazeera Arabic television channel, respondents overwhelmingly support the Islamic State terrorist group, with 81% voting “YES” on whether they approved of ISIS’s conquests in the region.

The poll, which asked in Arabic, “Do you support the organizing victories of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)?” has generated over 38,000 responses thus far, with only 19% of respondents voting “NO” to supporting ISIS.

100 Years of Silence

Of the 2.6 million Greeks of Ottoman Turkey in 1914, over 700,000 additional Thracian and Anatolian Greeks were slaughtered, bringing the total Greek deaths to over one million.

Related: The Armenian Genocide

by Thea Halo, Author of Not Even My Name, and A Lid for Every Pot, painter, former WBAI news correspondent.
Huffington Post — May 20, 2015
h/t AINA

In the struggle between denial and silence, silence wins hands down. That is, silence wins out over denial if the genocide of a people is to be complete. For almost 100 years, Pontic Greeks have mourned the loss of the 353,000 fathers, mothers, grandparents, children, friends and community members who were slaughtered outright, or who died agonizing deaths on long death marches to expulsion from 1916 to 1923. My mother was among them. Of the 2.6 million Greeks of Ottoman Turkey in 1914, over 700,000 additional Thracian and Anatolian Greeks were slaughtered, bringing the total Greek deaths to over one million.

Although the Pontic Greeks had settled on the southern shores and in the mountains along the Black Sea since 875 B.C., and other Greeks had settled in Anatolia since 1200 B.C., over 2,000 years before the first Turkish tribes invaded, today it's difficult to find anyone who has heard of the Pontians or Anatolian Greeks, as if they never existed? Ditto for the Assyrians who had settlements in Asia minor dating back four thousand years before the genocide that took the lives of at least 275,000 Assyrians, more than half their population. As with the Pontic Greeks, until recently, it was rare to find anyone who knew Assyrians still existed in the modern world.

VIDEO: Raymond Ibrahim — The ongoing war between Islam and Europe

In the following video, Hanne Nabintu, historian of religions, interviews Raymond Ibrahim on the history of Islam and the West.  Topics include the original (but forgotten) Arab conquests, the (demonized) Crusades, and why the modern West’s notion of “history” is immensely skewed.

Raymond Ibrahim — May 21, 2015

Interview with scholar Raymond Ibrahim on the Middle East and vital facts of history that we often hear little about in the media today. We often forget that during the early Islamic conquest a high number of Christian nations in the Middle East were taken over by Islam. Egypt, Syria, Algeria, Marocco - these were Christian lands at the time.

Europe itself was under siege for several hundred years, - only Scandinavia, Germany and the British Isles were exempt from the Muslim effort to take Europe. We forget that the Crusades were originally a European reaction to the horrors that was done to Christians, both pilgrims and the indigenous Christians in the Middle East as a result of the Muslim Conquests.

Scroll down for video...

Saturday, May 23, 2015

William Kilpatrick: 'Needed: A New Church Policy Toward Islam [Pt. 3]'

Here is the final installment of William Kilpatrick's important three-part series advocating for a fearless, faith-based, and vigorous Church policy towards Islam. Although writing for a Roman Catholic audience, Kilpatrick's observations apply equally to the Orthodox Church:
"Theologically, Islam is a house of cards. It can’t stand up to examination, which is why Islam’s guardians go ballistic at the least hint of criticism. Nevertheless, Catholics [and Orthodox] should start making the case while there is still time — before the questioning of Islam becomes a crime, or before the Islamic world goes ballistic in the literal sense of the term."
Read and share widely, along with Part 1 and Part 2. 

Needed: A New Church Policy Toward Islam [Pt. 3]
by William Kilpatrick, Crisis Magazine — February 11, 2015

In his book America Alone, Mark Steyn observed that “there is no market for a faith that has no faith in itself.” He was referring to Christianity’s loss of faith in itself as exemplified by the decline of Christianity in Europe and the corresponding rise of Islam—a faith that does have faith in itself.

A new Church policy toward Islam should be geared toward reversing that situation—that is, undercutting Islam’s faith in itself while at the same time strengthening the faith of Christians. Many others have written about the second half of the equation, so let me concentrate on the first. How do you sow the seeds of doubt in the minds of Muslims?

I’ve already addressed the objection that sowing doubts is not a nice thing to do. Many Catholics seem to believe that religion is ipso facto a good thing, which means that weakening someone’s religious faith would be a terrible thing to do. Yet history provides many examples of religions that seem best consigned to the past—for example, the child-sacrificing religion of the Carthaginians and the human-sacrificing religion of the Aztecs.

Catholics are reluctant to put Islam in the same category as the Carthaginians for two reasons: First, Islam is a very big religion—the faith of a billion and a half people. Second, Islam bears a superficial similarity to Christianity; Muslims believe in one God and they “revere” Jesus. Yet it’s estimated that some 270 million people have been killed in the name of Islam over the centuries—far more than the combined total of all those killed in the name of Nazism or communism. It’s not politically correct to compare Islam to totalitarian ideologies, yet many respected authorities including Catholic authorities, have done just that. Consider this entry from the 1910 edition of the Catholic Encyclopedia
In matters political, Islam is a system of despotism at home and aggression abroad…. The rights of non-Muslim subjects are of the vaguest and most limited kind, and a religious war is a sacred duty whenever there is a chance of success against the ‘Infidel'.

As I suggested in the previous column, a new policy toward Islam should be based on the assumption that Islam is an ideological enemy, just as communism once was and still is. The idea is to wean people away from the ideology by undermining and discrediting it, and also by offering a better alternative. Because Islam has proven itself to be a totalitarian system, we should try to weaken faith in it just as, during the Cold War, the West (with considerable help from the Catholic Church) attempted to weaken faith in communism.

Once you’ve studied up on Islam, the first thing you realize is that the key to sowing the seeds of disbelief is Muhammad himself... If he is discredited, Islam is discredited. 

But it’s difficult to give other people second thoughts about their religion if you don’t know the first thing about it yourself. And there are numerous indications that Catholic authorities are badly informed about Islam—else why do they continue to maintain, in the face of overwhelming evidence, that Islam is a religion of peace? So the first thing that Catholics need to do is to get up to speed on Islam.

Timothy R. Furnish: 'Talking Honestly About Islamic Hate Speech'

A summary of the recent Boston University Conference, 'Apocalyptic Hopes, Millennial Dreams and Global Jihad'.

Talking Honestly About Islamic Hate Speech
by Timothy R. Furnish, History News Network — May 9, 2015

Timothy R. Furnish holds a PhD in Islamic history; writes, lectures and consults on Islamic world issues; and blogs on Mahdism and Muslim eschatology at

On May 3-4, 2015, Boston University (BU) was the site of “Apocalyptic Hopes, Millennial Dreams and Global Jihad”—a conference jointly sponsored by they BU History Department, Center for Millennial Studies (CMS) and Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. The organizer and driving force was Dr. Richard Landes, eminent scholar of medieval European (Christian) apocalyptic thought and director of the CMS until its demise in 2003. This conference, the CMS’ last hurrah as it were, brought together the dozen or so American and Israeli researchers into the topics of Muslim apolcalyptic beliefs and movements in the modern world.

Landes set the stage for the conference with his introductory lecture, In which he pointed out that Islamic apocalyptic ideas might be a “bad joke” to some, but in reality they are very “bad news.” The reason so many scholars and analysts prefer the former description is a subset of the worst problem bedeviling Islamic/Middle East studies as a whole today: the fear of the charge of “Islamophobia,” in which writing or speaking about (Islamic) hate speech is branded hate speech itself.

Landes’ position—which appeared to be the majority view among the folks attending this conference—was questioned, at times vehemently and indeed increasingly vitriolically, by several participants. The argument---which has become quite tiresome to many of us in the field, frankly—was that connecting modern jihadism and Islamic terrorism to any Islamic roots would somehow impugn all Muslims and place them at risk.

This position was ably refuted by many conference presenters, especially the journalist Graeme Wood, author of the influential article “What ISIS Really Wants” (in the March 2015 issue of The Atlantic). 

VIDEO: 'Refusing to Take Islamist Ideology Seriously'

Dr. Jeffrey Bale lays out the ideological blinders of too many analysts and politicians today.

Nowhere Man--American Policy Toward Islam Is At Your Command
Timothy Furnish,  Mahdi Watch — May 21, 2015

One of the best lectures from the Boston University conference on Islamic apocalyptic is up--although it does not, ironically, really deal with the main topic of the venue.  Dr. Jeffrey Bale, eminent expert on terrorist ideologies across the board at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (CA), talked about "Refusing to Take Islamist Ideology Seriously."

John Lennon's lyrics, "he's as blind as he can be/just sees what he wants to see," aptly describe (too) many analysts of jihad and terrorism today--and Jeffrey Bale lays out the ideological blinders of these Nowhere Men and Women.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

VIDEO: Timothy Furnish — 'Rejecting Millennial Time: The Ottoman Empire's 700-year War against Mahdism'

The usual Ottoman kinetic response to Mahdist rebellions started with the janissaries--but often this was supplemented with IO/IW in the form of fatwas and other religious salients.

Video of Tim Furnish's presentation at the recent Boston University Conference, "Apocalyptic Hopes, Millennial Dreams and Global Jihad."  The introduction by Richard Landes is noteworthy for his high estimation of Dr. Furnish in this formerly obscure but now frighteningly relevant field of Islamic Eschatology and Mahdi Movements.

This is a profound talk, which touches on Sufism and other Islamic sects, complexities of Ottoman rule, and an array of related topics which are of great help in informing our understanding of the Islamic State and its apocalyptic ambitions.

The COIN of the Ottoman Realm Spent Against Proto-ISIS Groups
Timothy Furnish, Mahdi Watch — May 19, 2015

"My lecture from the Boston University conference on Islamic apolcalyptic movements, "Rejecting Millennial Time: The Ottoman Empire's 700-year War against Mahdism" is up. [Scroll down for video.]

Armenian Muslims Living in Turkey are Returning to Christianity

“Descendants of the Armenians who were forcibly converted to the faith of Prophet Muhammad have started realizing the significance of their nation’s history, and now they are returning by the dozens to their ancestral faith in Christ the Savior.”

Pravoslavie — May 21, 2015

(Istanbul, May 19, 2015)   

Armenians living in Turkey – descendants of the Christians who embraced Islam – are returning to the faith of their fathers in great numbers, reports the Linga news portal.

According to the famous Agos Armenian weekly newspaper published in Istanbul, the cases of conversion of Armenian Muslims to Christianity, which are becoming more frequent, indicate that they (Armenians) have preserved their ancestors’ faith deep in their memory.

Mosque to be built in Athens, Greece - Parliament Amends Law

"This serves as a support to the plan of islamization of the country... to say nothing of the uncontrolled settling of Muslim immigrants...  And then it results in slaughter and bloodshed inside a criminal caliphate that inspires islamists to preach Islam anew."  — Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus

AXIOS Metropolitan Seraphim! Allowing Islam a beachhead in Athens will inevitably and quickly lead to serious problems, as can be seen wherever Islam spreads.

Mosque to be built in Athens, Greece - Parliament Amends Law
Pravoslavie — May 21, 2015

(Athens, May 20, 2015)  The Parliament of Greece has made amendments to the state’s legislation allowing the building of a mosque in Athens. The changes were made by the ruling Syriza party (the Coalition of the Radical Left).

In connection with this Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus addressed his flock with his arch pastoral speech, reports Romfea:

“The Greek Parliament has once again made Islam a pressing problem, trying to legalize this religion whose law presupposes a death penalty for apostasy (conversion from Islam to another faith).

Gone is the Glory of Constantinople…

"... but the glory of the Christians shall not end so long as they hold fast to faith in Jesus Christ and carry Him with them wherever they wander, wherever they are taken, wherever they settle. Jesus alone is their glory."

by Fr Georges Massouh, Notes on Arab Orthodoxy – May 2015
OCP Media — May 19, 2015

Jesus announced that the worship of God is not tied to a specific place as God is not contained by space and He cannot be bound in an exclusive place toward which those who want to be in His presence must pray or make pilgrimage. Thus when the Samaritan woman asked Him, “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain (Gerezim in Samaria), and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship,” Jesus answered her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father… the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth” (John 4:20-23).

God is present in every place and there is no place on the face of this earth from which God is absent. God is present where His people gathers in His name. The Apostle Paul affirms this when he says, “I shall dwell in them and walk among them. I shall be their God and they shall be My people” (2 Corinthians 6:16). God is a wanderer who does not settle in one place. He does not require people to come to Him in a specific place. He comes to them whenever they call upon Him and seek Him.

In this context, Saint Basil the Great (d. 379) comments on Jesus’ words to the Samaritan woman and says that worship is no longer tied to a specific geographical location since the Holy Spirit has become the “place of worship”. Christ also is the place of worship and the Gospel of Saint John clearly speaks of the end of worship in the temple of Jerusalem since Jesus Himself is the new “temple” and there is no need for a temple built in a city or on a mountain.

Hereditary Martyrs: the Christian Victims of ISIS's Massacres

"At the news that her son was dead, Nana collapsed. Her cries filled the cold, desolate room. Nana's husband, a priest of the Ancient Assyrian Church, had been murdered the year before -- dragged behind his horse by Muslim neighbors. The following year, another family member would be shot by his Muslim servant..."
Read and share this powerful reflection by a descendant of survivors of the Assyrian Genocide.

Hereditary Martyrs: the Christian Victims of ISIS's Massacres
By Juliana Taimoorazy
AINA — May 18, 2015

Woody Allen once joked that sterility is hereditary: If you don't have any children, you won't have grandchildren either. In my family, we pass down a different condition: martyrdom.

My great-grandfather and my great-uncle both were murdered for their religion in 1915. Decades later, my own immediate family had to flee Islamist harassment in Iran. My colleagues' cousins even now are hiding from ISIS in isolated villages and on mountaintops. This is the heritage of all Assyrian Christians.

The butchery last month of Ethiopian Copts in Libya was not some new kind of atrocity. It's the latest incident in 100 years of Islamist religious and ethnic cleansing all across the Middle East.

The first genocide of the 20th century was launched by the Ottomans and the "Young Turks" against Assyrian Christians in Mesopotamia. The next victims were Armenians and Greeks. For nine long years the slaughter went on, ending only in 1923 after claiming 2.5 million victims. The Ottomans "cleansed" Turkey, and much of Iraq, of their Christians. In November 1916, the Atlantic Monthly reported:

"Within six months they [Young Turks] succeeded in doing what the Old Turks were unable to accomplish in six centuries .?.?. Thousands of Nestorians and Syrians [Assyrians] have vanished from the face of the earth."

For many years, my mother stayed silent about the genocide. But one cold night in Tehran, in 1985, as we huddled around the space heater, she finally opened up. She told me how Nana (her grandmother) was awakened in her little clay house by violent knocks. Nana's nephew George burst in. He threw himself down on her sickbed and wept for a solid minute. Then he reared up and whispered the news: "Nana, they killed Uncle Augustus. Those merciless animals cut his body into pieces and made me bring it home in a rice bag -- our ration bag."

May 19 – Pontian Greek Genocide Remembrance Day

Records show a minimum of 350,000 Pontian Greeks were exterminated through systematic slaughter by the Turkish Muslims. The Pontian Greek Genocide is part of the wider Orthodox Christian Holocaust, which included the Armenian Genocide, and spanned from 1894 to 1923.

In 1994, May 19 was selected by the Greek parliament as the day to commemorate the Pontian Greek Genocide by the Turks. The Pontic Genocide is one of the darkest moments in history not only for Greeks, but also for mankind. The Genocide vanished from its ancestral and historic homeland in Pontus a culturally vibrant and unique part of the Greek population that had been fighting for its survival for about 3,000 years.

Records show a minimum 350,000 Pontian Greeks exterminated through systematic slaughter by Turkish troops, deportations involving death marches, starvation in labor and concentration camps, rapes and individual killings. Entire villages and cities were devastated, while thousands were forced to flee to neighboring countries. The Ottoman government’s plan to annihilate the Christian populations living within Turkey, including Greeks, Syrians and Armenians, during World War I was set into force in 1914 with the decree that all Pontian men aged between 18 to 50 would have to report to the military. Those who refused to do so, were ordered to be shot immediately.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Islamic State captures Ramadi, threatens Baghdad, expands in North Africa

ISIS celebrates capture of Ramadi with orgy of bloodshed, 25,000 flee their homes.
Islamic State forces now only 60 miles from Baghdad.


Iraq braced for the Battle of Baghdad: Chilling images show ISIS victory parade after fanatics seize key city of Ramadi – just 60 miles from the capital – in an orgy of violence and beheadings

by Jay Akbar, Steph Cockroft, Simon Tomlinson and Julian Robinson
MailOnline — May 19, 2015 (h/t Jihad Watch)

ISIS victory parade in Ramadi
ISIS militants have held a twisted victory parade after taking the key city of Ramadi in an orgy of violence and beheadings – and the extremists could march on the Iraqi capital Baghdad within the next month.

Mutilated bodies scatter the streets of the ‘Gateway of Baghdad’, where Islamic State slaughtered around 500 and forced nearly 25,000 to flee their homes over the last few days.

Now ISIS has released images of militants celebrating, children wielding automatic weapons and a fleet of pick-up trucks carrying its jubilant fighters through the blood-stained streets of Ramadi.

Shi’ite fighters have already launched a counter-offensive to recapture the city, but these kinds of tactics play straight into Islamic State’s grand plan to spark all-out war in the region, according to the Middle East director of counter-terrorism think-tank RUSI.

Islamic State militants are already marching east towards the Habbaniya army base – around 20 miles east of Ramadi – where a column of 3,000 Shi’ite paramilitaries are amassing, witnesses and a military officer has said.

And if ISIS manage to reach Baghdad, it would be ‘utter carnage’, Professor Gareth Stansfield told MailOnline.

He said: ‘If ISIS turn up in great numbers in Baghdad, it will be an absolute slaughter between Sunni’s [sic] and Shia’s [sic] there.

‘They [ISIS] are now having so many successes, and moving so quickly, that Baghdad is under very real threat from ISIS forces outside Baghdad and also the ISIS terror cells inside Baghdad as well...

by Thomas D. Williams, PhD, Breitbart News — May 19, 2015

As ISIS influence increases daily in the North African nation of Libya, it has also succeeded in penetrating the ranks of Islamists in neighboring Tunisia, securing an oath of fealty from the Mujahidin of Kairouan.

According to reports, the Mujahidin have released an audio message addressed to the ISIS Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi containing a sworn oath of allegiance.

The nine-minute audio message was disseminated primarily through social networks and was still able to be heard in the original language on the net on Tuesday.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

William Kilpatrick — 'Needed: A New Church Policy toward Islam [Pt. 2]'

Kilpatrick's analysis and proposed policy shift applies as much to the Orthodox Church as it does to his original Roman Catholic audience. Consider this excerpt:
"Church policy should at least be redirected toward telling the truth to fellow [Orthodox]. Right now, [Orthodox Christians] are being seriously misled about the nature of Islam...  The bishops don’t necessarily have to censure Islam, but they also don’t have to talk about their esteem for it... You can express your respect for Muslims, but do you really want to express your respect for Islam?"

See also: Part 1, Part 3.

'Needed: A New Church Policy toward Islam [Pt. 2]'
by William Kilpatrick, Crisis Magazine — February 4, 2015

In my last column, I promised to propose an alternative to the Church’s current policy toward Islam. The main question I raised then can be put this way: If there is something in Islam itself that is conducive to violence, should Church leaders say so, or should they, for prudential reasons, keep echoing the secular mantra that Islamic violence has nothing to do with Islam?

The prudential consideration actually cuts both ways. By taking a more forthright stand, you risk offending moderate Muslims and possibly endangering Christians who live in Muslim lands. On the other hand, by rushing to the defense of the Islamic faith, you risk confusing Christians and lulling them into complacency at a time when they need to be on their toes.

The pope’s recent comments about the Muhammad-mocking Charlie Hebdo cartoons illustrate the dilemma. After insisting that “you cannot kill in the name of God,” he added, “You cannot provoke, you cannot insult the faith of others, you cannot make fun of the faith.” “We have an obligation to speak freely,” said Francis, “but without offending.”

There’s the rub. What if the ideology or religion you wish to talk freely about has an infinite capacity for being offended? What if all discussion is out-of-bounds? Not just ribald and deliberately offensive cartoons, but calm and reasoned analysis of religious texts and teachings? As Pope Francis says, it’s not a good idea to gratuitously provoke others, but what’s missing from his observation is an understanding of the current context surrounding discussions of free speech.

Monday, May 18, 2015

VIDEO: Obama's Model Mosque in Boston linked to a Dozen Jihad Terrorists

Powerful, truth-telling 1-minute video ad banned in Boston.

The Dirty Dozen – President Obama’s Model Mosque
CounterJihad — May 15, 2015

Banned in Boston. The local FOX and NBC television stations in Boston refused to play our ad. That is certainly their right, but sadly indicative of a culture now where messages about the dangers from the Global Jihad Movement are being suppressed. We don’t think that is healthy for a our liberty or security. So our policy is See Something, Say Something.

There are jihadists in our midst. There are mosques where they congregate. Many of these mosques hand out jihadist literature and the worst of them preach it openly. But we are supposed to stay quiet, we are told that pointing this out is Islamophobia. Keeping quiet led us to the horror of the Boston Marathon bombing, and a mosque in Boston has not just the Tsarnaev brothers, but a Dirty Dozen jihadists associated with it.

William Kilpatrick: Insulting Religion

"Because Islam has consistently proven itself to be an enemy of Christianity, 'less Islam' is an idea that Catholics [and Orthodox] need to seriously consider... It’s very much in our interest to sow the seeds of doubt about Islam in the minds of Muslims."

Another excellent article by one of the keenest Christian critics of Islam. I consider Kilpatrick's writings to provide a framework for the Orthodox Church in how to deal with the threat of Islam to the Church.  Not merely "Radical Islam," but Islam itself.

More articles by William Kilpatrick:

Insulting Religion
by William Kilpatrick, Crisis Magazine — May 13, 2015
Thanks to Raymond Ibrahim
Cartoons not in original article; compiled by Creeping Sharia.

We often hear it said that it is simply wrong to insult the faith of 1.3 billion Muslims. Why, then, isn’t it wrong to insult the faith of 2.2 billion Christians? It’s done every day, and sometimes the insults are hard to take. Christians are understandably upset when art exhibits feature crucifixes immersed in urine or portraits of Mary covered with dung.

It doesn’t require a Ph.D. to figure out why the secular word condemns insults to Muslims but countenances insults to Christians. It’s because the latter won’t come after you with machetes and assault rifles. If Islam were truly a religion of peace, it’s likely that most secularists wouldn’t give a fig about Muslim sensitivities.

Still, having themselves been the target of religious insults, Christians can sympathize with Muslims when their religious sensibilities are assaulted. It follows that many Christians will have scant sympathy for the organizers of the recent Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest in Garland, Texas. Christians wouldn’t like it if atheists exhibited unflattering cartoons of Christ. To be consistent, they should also protest when the founder of Islam is similarly caricatured. That seems to be the general line of argument advanced by critics of the exhibit.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Catholic scholar of Islam: Caliph’s saying Islam is religion of war “very shrewd”

This is a welcomed theological exploration of the Islamic State Caliphate's motivations, rooted as they are in the Quran and in the example of Muhammad. Robert Spencer's introductory remarks provide a helpful overview and context.

by Robert Spencer, Jihad Watch
May 16, 2015

“Islam was never a religion of peace. Islam is the religion of fighting,” says the Islamic State’s caliph. 

Fr. Samir Khalil Samir, the leading Catholic scholar of Islam, says this is “very shrewd,” because it “corresponds to the expectations of a part of the Islamic world,” which will exclaim, “Finally, we find the true Islam!” The caliph’s call, says Fr. Samir, is “meant to rekindle an idea that is deeply embedded in Islam, namely: let us all go through our hijrah, let us leave behind all those who want an Islam of peace, and let us move to the true Islam that conquered Arabia first, then the Middle East, then the Mediterranean.”

All that is below, and in another interview, Fr. Samir says this about the Islamic State (ISIS): 
“We hear, very often, Muslims say: ‘This has nothing to do with Islam.’ This is a spontaneous reaction of Muslims on the street. But, in fact, it’s a false reaction. This is a part of Islam, and we can find it in the Quran itself and much more in the life of Mohammed, who had a very strong and violent attitude toward unbelievers.”

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Metropolitan Hilarion: Terrorism And Extremism in the Middle East Continue Growing And Spreading Like a Plague

An illuminating discussion of the deadly threat of Islam to Christians and the civilized world, without ever specifically mentioning Islam. 

Highlights include:

  • "If the whole world now fails to unite against this new terrible epidemic, the consequences may be irretrievable..."
  • "Each country should be concerned by it because sooner or later it will come to its borders too."
  • "Russia is a country which will cope... But Western Europe is not at all ready for it. People are too well-off there, too relaxed."

Pravmir — May 16, 2015

On May 2, 2015, Metropolitan Hilarion as presenter of the Church and the World TV program had as his guest the chairman of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society Sergey Stepashin.

Metropolitan Hilarion: Good afternoon, dear brothers and sisters. Christ is Risen! In these Paschal days, the mental eyes of many Orthodox faithful are directed to the Holy Land, the places where our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ lived on earth. Today we will speak about the Holy Land, the Middle East and Palestine with the chairman of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society Sergey Stepashin. Good afternoon, Sergey Vadimovich.

S. Stepashin: Good afternoon, Your Eminence.

Metropolitan Hilarion: Christ is risen!

S. Stepashin: He is truly risen!

Among the main tasks of the Imperial Palestine Society is a serious, thorough and sometimes very dangerous work in the Middle East. I may start with Syria as the most problematic region today, as this country is very close to us in its Christian traditions. Today all the peoples in Syria are going through a very difficult period and Christians have proved to be in the most terrible situation.

Recently we have marked the centenary of the Armenian genocide. You know that the Armenian Church has canonized over a million citizens who were killed in the genocide. I believe today we have a full right to say that what is happening in the Middle East, too, is a Christian genocide.

VIDEO: Graeme Wood speaks on the Islamic State's Apocalyptic Motivations

Courtesy of Timothy Furnish at Mahdi Watch:
'Atlantic' editor and writer Graeme Wood describes pushback on his now famous article 'What ISIS Really Wants' in a lecture entitled 'On the Resistance to Seeing Global Jihad as Apocalyptic Movement'.
Recorded at the Boston University conference 'Apocalyptic Hopes, Millennial Dreams and Global Jihad' (May 3-4, 2015).

Very special thanks to Tim Furnish for sharing this at his site, Mahdi Watch, where he is posting links to videos from the Boston conference. I will be posting some of the other talks in the days ahead.

Friday, May 15, 2015

ISIS Leader: ‘Islam Is the Religion of War'

“O Muslims, Islam was never for a day the religion of peace. Islam is the religion of war... there is no might nor honor nor safety nor rights for you except in the shade of the Caliphate.” —Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Leader of the Islamic State

Those whose thinking is not clouded by political correctness or by the well-intentioned but misguided notion that avoiding direct criticism of Islam will help pacify the growing multitudes of militant Muslims, agree with al-Baghdadi: Islam is the religion of war. 

In fact, Islam uses war-like threats — including the death penalty for apostasy — to keep its devotees in line. Yusuf al-Qaradawi, head of the Muslim Brotherhood and one of the most respected leaders of the Sunni world, recently admitted as much on Egyptian television saying, "If they [Muslims] had gotten rid of the punishment [often death] for apostasy, Islam would not exist today."

ISIS Leader: ‘Islam Is the Religion of War'
by John Sexton, Breitbart News — May 14, 2015

ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has released a call to arms which asks Muslims everywhere to physically join ISIS in the area it now controls or simply take up the struggle against unbelievers wherever they are.

The title of the message “March Forth Whether Heavy or Light” comes from a verse in the Koran which calls on believers to “strive with your wealth and your lives in the cause of Allah.” In Baghdadi’s view that striving is ISIS’s war against unbelievers.