One of the most overlooked aspects of Islamic jihad is its utterly ruthless and destructive nature.
Consider the ongoing slaughter and terrorization of Christians in the Democratic Republic of Congo. On Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023, Muslim jihadists bombed a Protestant church during a baptism: 14 Christians were blown to pieces and dozens were seriously wounded. From their hospital beds, survivors recalled that evil day:
People were just flying in the air and falling down lifeless—it was a painful Sunday, everyone inside was trying to get his or her way out, but some couldn’t because their legs had gone off. The bomb killed children and their parents. I was traumatized and suffered some pain all over my body, but thank God I survived…. Bibles were in pieces and there was blood all over, and when I checked around me I was in a pool of blood. I lost consciousness. I regained my consciousness in a hospital bed…. I saw my fellow church members covered with blood, while others were crying and wailing in pain… This was done to threaten and reduce the number of Christians, and also to instill fear in the hearts of Christians of attending church services within the province.
During another recent attack in DR Congo, the jihadists sadistically tortured and slaughtered their Christian victims; a nun, Sister Marie-Sylvie Kavuke Vakatsuraki, and another Christian were burned alive.
In attempting to describe all of these atrocities, Bishop Melchizedec Sikuli Paluku of the DR Congo concluded that “There are no words, such is the horror that it surpasses all tolerable limits.”
He is hardly the first person to be at a loss for words in describing jihad’s horrific nature. From the birth of Islam in the seventh century to the present, most of those who lived through or witnessed the aftermath of Islamic “holy war” were also left dumbfounded.
Discussing the Arab conquest of Christian Egypt around 641, John of Nikiu, a contemporary eyewitness, recounted atrocity after atrocity committed by the Muslims against the indigenous Christians (Copts), simply because the invaders deemed “the servants of Christ as enemies of Allah.” His chronicle is so riddled with bloodshed that John simply concludes,
But let us now say no more, for it is impossible to describe the horrors the Muslims committed.
About a century later, the Latin Chronicle of 754 documented how the North African Muslim governor Musa bin Nusayr “invaded Spain to destroy it. He ruined beautiful cities, burning them with fire; condemned lords and powerful men to the cross; and butchered youths and infants with the sword…. He terrorized everyone.” Unable to elaborate, the Chronicle of 754 also concludes in resigned frustration:
Who can relate such perils? Who can enumerate such grievous disasters? Even if every limb were transformed into a tongue, it would be beyond human nature to express the ruin of Spain and its many and great evils.
Three centuries later, after recounting numerous examples of the Islamic terrorization of Armenia at the hands of Turks beginning around 1040—which included the slaughter or enslavement of hundreds of thousands of Christians, and destruction of thousands of churches—the chronicler Matthew of Edessa also threw up his hands in despair:
How to relate here, with a voice stifled by tears, the death of nobles and clergy whose bodies, left without graves, became the prey of carrion beasts, the exodus of women … led with their children into Persian slavery and condemned to an eternal servitude! That was the beginning of the misfortunes of Armenia. So, lend an ear to this melancholy recital.
What to make of all this? Why is the jihad so beyond ruthless? The answer is that Islam, thanks to its founder, Muhammad, deifies violence and bloodlust, in two primary ways.
First, it highly extols those who wage jihad—indeed, none is greater than the “holy warrior.” According to Koran 9:111: “Allah has bought from the believers their lives and worldly goods, and in return has promised them Paradise: they shall fight in the way of Allah and shall slay and be slain.” Or, in the words of Muhammad, “Lining up for battle in the path of Allah [jihad] is worthier than 60 years of worship.” Greatest of all is the Muslim who dies fighting for Allah. Islam’s prophet continues:
The martyr is special to Allah. He is forgiven from the first drop of blood [he sheds]. He sees his throne in paradise. . . . Fixed atop his head will be a crown of honor, a ruby that is greater than the world and all it contains. And he will copulate with seventy-two houris [supernatural sex slaves designed to pleasure Allah’s favorites in perpetuity; The Al Qaeda Reader, p.143.]
Second, Islam utterly demonizes and preaches hate against non-Muslims. The Koran disparagingly likens them to cows, apes, swine, dogs, in sum, “the worst of creatures” (see 2:221, 2:65, 5:60, 7:176, 8:55.) So inflamed with hate and bloodlust, once jihadists get their hands on subhuman “infidels,” little wonder the atrocities they commit are so sadistically mindboggling.
In short, all of mankind is predisposed to hate the “other” and commit violence. But whereas religion and reason—think the Sermon on the Mount—have helped temper such inclinations, Islam deified hate and violence.
Such was the “genius” of Muhammad: in the Arabian society he lived in, non-tribal members (the “other”) were free game, to be plundered, enslaved, or killed with impunity. Muhammad took this idea and infused it with a pious rationale. Henceforth there would be only two “tribes” in the world: the umma—which consists of all Muslims—and the “infidels,” who deserve to be plundered, enslaved, or killed with impunity for rejecting Allah.
This explains why other nomadic societies—Turks and Tatars, whose way of life consisted of preying on everyone outside their tribe—also converted to Islam and, under the banner of jihad, continued preying on the other, the infidel, but now as venerated “champions of the faith.”
As Gregory Palamas, an Orthodox clergyman who was taken captive in the fourteenth century, said of the Turks:
They live by the bow, the sword, and debauchery, finding pleasure in taking slaves, devoting themselves to murder, pillage, spoil, and not only do they commit these crimes, but even—what an aberration—they believe that God approves them!
Little has changed. Returning to the ongoing Muslim butchery of Christians in the DR Congo, a survivor recounted: “I heard them. They were shouting in Arabic and Swahili, saying that the kafirs [nonbelievers or infidels] should be killed, all of them, and make Congo an Islamic state. Shoot all of them. Kill all of them, and burn their houses, these notorious Christians.”
Note: Quotes from historic chroniclers were excerpted from and are documented in the author’s book, Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West.