Americans didn’t pay much attention to the rising power of radical Islam until the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks inside our borders, so it may seem like a relatively new phenomenon. But Muslim terrorists have actually been killing Christians, Jews and other non-Muslims since before the U.S. was founded, and we fought two wars against them in the earliest days of the republic. Muslim extremists believe their actions are justified by teachings in the Koran. This makes it vital for us to know what the Koran instructs its followers to do, and to wake up to the reality that radical Islam poses a real threat to the safety of non-Muslims everywhere.
As early as the Middle Ages, Muslim countries along the Barbary Coast in northern Africa (chiefly Tunis, Morocco, Algiers and Tripoli) waged war against Christian nations in the Mediterranean Sea and all along the Atlantic seacoast, sending pirates to attack ships and raid coastal towns. They would seize the ships’ cargo, kill or enslave the sailors, and hold people and ships for ransom. These “Barbary Pirates” terrorized the high seas, capturing more than a million European slaves from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. By the 1700s most European nations were forced to pay “tribute” (extortion money) to the leaders of these Muslim countries to protect their ships and cities from government-sponsored pirates. Although these payments were expensive, they didn’t provide complete protection, and ships were often held until additional ransom was paid.
Before the American Revolution, ships travelling to and from North America were protected from these seagoing terrorists by the English navy, as well as by the tribute England paid to the Barbary Coast nations. But as soon as the United States became an independent country, their ships became fair game for the pirates. In 1784 Congress appropriated $80,000 as tribute, but the following year the Algerians captured two American ships and held their sailors until the U.S. paid another $60,000 in ransom.
Congress sent Thomas Jefferson and John Adams to negotiate a treaty with the Barbary States. When they met with Tripoli’s representative in 1786 to ask him why Tripoli was attacking American ships and kidnapping our citizens, they must have been surprised by his answer. The ambassador said the Koran instructed all Muslims to make war on non-Muslims wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of any enemies they could capture. This is true; there are several places in the Koran that say exactly this, but the chief passage is chapter 47, verse 4 (for more, see below).
The U.S. continued to pay tribute for another 15 years, although Jefferson, George Washington and others publicly declared that it only encouraged the terrorists. Over the next 15 years, they paid the four Barbary states more than a million dollars a year. Jefferson was sworn in as president in 1801, the pasha of Tripoli sent him a note demanding an immediate payment of $225,000 and annual tribute of $25,000. When Jefferson refused to pay, Tripoli declared war on the United States, and was soon joined by the other three states.
The U.S. fought the Barbary states until 1805, when an American fleet and a land force compelled their surrender. This is where the phrase in the Marine Hymn originated: “to the shores of Tripoli.” So the first war fought by the U.S. was not against any European power, but to free itself from the threat of Muslim extremists. When the U.S. was fighting England in the War of 1812, the Barbary Coast nations took the opportunity to go back to pirating, and as soon as the war was over, President James Madison sent ships and troops to the Barbary Coast again, finally achieving peace in 1815.
An interesting commentary on the Koran’s call to holy war, or jihad, can be found at www.answeringmuslims.com/p/jihad.html. According to this well-researched website, there are three stages of jihad described in the Koran. In the first stage, when Muslims are outnumbered, they are instructed to preach peace and tolerance, waiting for a time when they are stronger. In the second stage, when they have enough resources to defend themselves from attack, they are supposed to fight anyone who poses a physical or intellectual threat to Islam, chiefly by using terrorism. Stage three begins when they’ve become a majority in the community and have gained political power – then they can start fighting non-Muslims until only Muslims are left. Since Muslims in the U.S. are still a tiny minority, we are still in stage one, but many parts of Europe and Africa are in stage two, and we are now seeing the effects of stage three in the Middle East, where people can be killed for being Christian.
Many Muslims in the U.S. seem peaceful and preach tolerance. They may be good people who are unaware of the implications of what the Koran teaches, just like many people who call themselves Christians don’t know what’s in the Bible. Or it could be that they’re just waiting to be called to the next stage of jihad. There’s no real way to know, but it would be stupid not to be prepared by learning everything we can about radical Islam.
Don’t take my word for it. There are many places online where you can read the Koran in its entirety, including www.Quran.com and www.noblequran.com/translation/. Go to any of these sites and look up the following passages. The English translations may differ, but the message is the same:
- Make war on them until idolatry is no more and Allah’s religion reigns supreme. 8:39
- When the sacred months are over, slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. 9:5
- You who are pious, fight those of the disbelievers who are close to you, and let them find harshness in you. 9:123
- When you meet the unbelievers in the battlefield, strike off their heads, and when you have laid them low, bind your captives firmly. 47:4
- Make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal sternly with them. Hell shall be their home, evil their fate. 66:9
Other passages tell of the rewards awaiting those who are killed while fighting against nonbelievers.
More than 220 years ago, Thomas Jefferson was warned about the threat posed by Muslim extremists, and the U.S. waged two wars to defeat them. The Koran hasn’t changed since then, and it still calls the faithful to slay nonbelievers. In the name of Allah, Muslim terrorists are waging “holy war” against Christians and Jews, blowing up innocent civilians, and trying to destroy the state of Israel.
No further proof of this war against non-Muslims is needed than to look at the massacre happening in northern Iraq and Syria. Christians are being told to convert or die and the brutality being waged upon religious minorities in the area is both shocking and sickening. Christian children are being cut in two or beheaded and displayed in public by the Islamic State. Executions, rape, forced fighting and the trafficking of women are daily occurrences in the region.
The Islamic State seeks to create their own nation of Sharia law and is willing, even gleeful, to purge anyone who is a non-believer. And don’t think that conversion to Muslim for these religious minorities will bring them salvation either. For example, one source recounts the story of a man renouncing his faith in Christianity just before he is beheaded by his captors. This example of purging the non-believers is nothing short of genocide and the atrocities are happening while the world watches. The Islamic State is not being shy in declaring their actions. Rather, the terrorist organization is actively posting videos and photographs for the entire world to see what they’re doing. These actions would only indicate their pride in upholding the most blood-thirsty of laws found in the Koran.
While Jefferson sought to reveal the truth about radical Islam and fight their injustices, we have a president who pretends it doesn’t present a real danger and that we should all just get along. If no one stands up and stops this persecution now, what will stop the Islamic State from making their way through Iraq and Syria to Israel and, eventually, to America?
Wake up and educate yourself! Here are some more resources to help you:
America and the Barbary Pirates:An International Battle Against an Unconventional Foe, by historian Gerard Gawalt