Robert Spencer : The History of Jihad: From Muhammad to ISIS
I sat down to speak with Robert Spencer about his hard hitting new book ‘ The History of Jihad: From Muhammad to ISIS’ which is being released through Bombardier Books this August.
Robert Spencer is director of Jihad Watch, a program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, where he is a Shillman Fellow. He is the author of eighteen books, including The New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. Spencer has led seminars on Islam and jihad for the FBI, the United States Central Command, United States Army Command and General Staff College, the U.S. Army’s Asymmetric Warfare Group, the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), the Justice Department’s Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council, and the U.S. intelligence community. He has discussed jihad, Islam, and terrorism at a workshop sponsored by the U.S. State Department and the German Foreign Ministry. He is a consultant with the Center for Security Policy.
Robert, tell us a little about your new book and why there’s a compelling need for audiences out there to engage with it?
Thank you, Saurav. The book is entitled is The History of Jihad From Muhammad to ISIS. And it’s just that: the first and only comprehensive chronological narrative history of fourteen centuries of jihad worldwide. This is the first time that there has been a book-length chronological treatment of the entire history of jihad, not just the jihad against Europe, which has been the focus of several worthy books, but also the devastatingly bloody jihad against India — a story that is almost entirely unknown in the West. This is also the first book that I know of that situates the jihad against Israel within the context of the 1,400-year history of worldwide jihad and Islamic anti-Semitism. Along the way, it touches on numerous related matters, including chattel slavery and the sexual enslavement of infidel women, which wasn’t invented by ISIS but actually goes all the way back to the beginning of Islam. This book has important public policy implications, as it actually shows that the foreign policy establishment of the West and other non-Muslim nations is on the wrong track, and has been for decades.
Do you think the liberal intelligentsia is carefully replacing the description of ISIS with Daesh for a reason? Is the nomenclature important?
Yes, certainly. The nomenclature is very important. They’re trying to obscure the Islamic character of the group, as they attempt to do with all jihad terror groups. This in turn deforms our ability to deal with these groups: you can’t defeat an enemy you don’t understand. I believe, in contrast, in calling things by their right names.
Why do you think talking about and critiquing Islamism and Islamic terrorism is the ultimate no-no in this day and age?
It’s a very odd development given the fact that there have been well over 30,000 jihad attacks worldwide since 9/11. I can only ascribe it to the power of Saudi money and the skillfulness of Islamic advocacy groups in the West in appropriating the language of racism and civil rights: they claim any honest analysis of the motivating ideology behind jihad terror is “racism,” and the international left has happily fallen into line with this.
What would you say to someone who argues that the concept of ‘Creeping Sharia’ is hyperbole, unnecessary scaremongering and ignores the reality that many Muslims have sought to change, to embrace Western values and that it’s the minority who seek to destroy the infidel?
The Bolsheviks were always a minority in Russia, but they were an organized, energized, ruthless vanguard facing weak opposition. It doesn’t matter if Sharia supremacists are only a minority of Muslims in the West. They are at work, as is clear from ongoing and relentless efforts by CAIR and other groups to get counter-terror initiatives shut down and to secure special privileges for Muslims in workplaces and schools. Moderate Muslims are not stopping them.
By the time your readers have finished this book, what are the main lessons you hope they will take away from it?
I hope they will see that, contrary to common myths today, there is no period since the beginning of Islam that was characterized by large-scale peaceful coexistence between Muslims and non-Muslims. There was no time when mainstream and dominant Islamic authorities taught the equality of non-Muslims with Muslims, or the obsolescence of jihad warfare. There was no Era of Good Feeling, no Golden Age of Tolerance, no Paradise of Proto-Multiculturalism. There has always been, with virtually no interruption, jihad. This has enormous public policy implications — for our international alliances, our immigration policy, and much more. I do hope this book will influence the public debate on those and other matters.