Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | September 24, 2014

ISIL, ISIS and Islam Part 2, by David Bower

How did the violence start?

Islam has had a history of warfare and conquest from the beginning and is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a peaceful religion; but is rather, a violently aggressive geopolitical worldview that promotes Sharia Law, which is a comprehensive plan for all aspects of life. ISIL/ISIS seeks to reestablish an Islamic Caliphate which would then impose Sharia Law on as much of the world as they can conquer by any means necessary and if you’re wondering, this is not good.

There is an ongoing distrust between Sunni and Shia today; Saudi Arabia (Sunni) is fearful of the power that is developing in Iran (Shia) and concerned that Iran may seek to expand its influence over other Muslim nations. Iran is now developing concerns over ISIL/ISIS which is Sunni, (Sadam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party was Sunni).

A Brief History

Islam’s formal historic existence can be partially summarized as follows:
1.Umayyad Caliphate 622 AD to 750 AD (Sunni)
2.The Caliphate of Cordoba 929 AD to 1031 AD (Sunni)
3.Abbasid Caliphate 750 AD to 1519 AD (Sunni)
4.Fatimid Caliphate 909 AD to 1171 AD (Shia)
5.Ottoman Empire 1517 to 1924 (Sunni)

Umayyad Caliphate 622 AD to 750 AD

Umayyad CaliphateUmayyad Caliphate c. 750 AD

Conquest and control has been a key part of the spread of Islam from the beginning. After Muhammad’s flight to Medina in 622 AD, called the Hegira and used as the starting year for Islam, he waged jihad (holy war) 77 times before his death in 632 AD.

In this time he expanded his area of control from Medina to include the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula. This conquest led to the formation of the Umayyad Caliphate which became the fifth largest contiguous empire in history.

In 656, Ali, who became the fourth Caliph, was a  cousin and son-in-law of Mohammad, and had supporters that killed the third caliph. Soon after, the Sunnis killed Ali’s son Husain. Fighting continued but Sunnis emerged victorious over the Shiites and came to revere the caliphate for its strength and piety. Shiites focused on developing their religious beliefs, through their imams.” Paul R. Pillar, retired C.I.A. official who coordinated intelligence on the Middle East.

At its largest in 750 AD it included Spain and Portugal and could have expanded into the rest of Europe had it not been for its defeat at the hands of Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours on October 10, 732. A number of 18th and 19th century historians give this victory the credit for turning the tide of Islamic aggression and preserving Europe for Christianity.

The Battle of Tours, 732 AD, a Turning Point in HistoryThe Battle of Tours, 732 AD, a Turning Point in History

Caliphate of Cordoba (Spain) 929 AD to 1031 AD

Caliphate of Cordoba, SpainArea Controlled by the Caliphate of Cordoba

This was a spinoff of the Umayyad Caliphate after it fell under attack by the Abbasid Muslims. Abd-ar-Rahman I became Emir of Córdoba in 756; fleeing for six years after the Umayyads had lost the position of Caliph held in Damascus in 750. Intent on regaining a position of power, he defeated the existing Islamic rulers of the area who defied Umayyad rule and united various local fiefdoms into an emirate. The Great Mosque of Cordoba, which is now a Catholic Church, was built at this time. The Caliphate finally fell in 1031 AD returning to small independent Muslim kingdoms.

Great Mosque of Cordoba, Spain.jpg 2Great Mosque of Cordoba, Spain

Great Mosque of Cordoba, Spain ExteriorExterior View of Great Mosque of Cordoba, Spain

Abbasid Caliphate 750 AD to 1519 AD

Abbasid CaliphateArea Covered by the Abbasid Caliphate

The Abbasids staged a successful attack on the Umayyad Caliphate with the aid of the Persians by temporarily converting to Shia Islam as a condition of Persian participation; this resulted in the establishment of the new Caliphate with the capitol moved from Damascus to Babylon as payment for the Persian support in the overthrow of the Umayyad. Once in power the Abbasids moved their loyalties back to Sunni Islam which left the Persian Shia Muslims very angry.

It was during this period that the Islamic Golden Age emerged. The first recorded paper mill was built in Babylon by Chinese captives, the mathematics of algebra was refined and the Arabic system of numerals was developed. Scholars there became a clearing house for knowledge of the time and many writings were preserved by translating them into Arabic and later into Hebrew, Turkish, and Latin. Hulagu Khan, a grandson of Genghis Khan sacked Baghdad on February 10, 1258, causing great loss of life. The Abbasids maintained a semblance of control but it was limited to religious matters only. The dynasty finally fell in 1543.

Fatimid Caliphate 909 AD to 1171 AD

Fatimid CaliphateArea of Fatimid Caliphate

This is an exceptional period in Muslim history where the Shia and the Caliphate were united. The dynasty was founded by Abdullah al-Mahdi Billah who claimed descent from Muhammad through his daughter Fatima. Wide spread defection from the Caliphate and attacks by outside forces eventually caused the end of the Caliphate by 1171 AD.

The Ottoman Empire 1517 AD to 1924 AD

The last of the Caliphates, the Ottoman Empire, lasted over 400 years under the leadership of Turkish Sultans. During the life of the Empire poor leadership, out of date political systems, and a failure to keep up with new technology resulted in steady erosion of territory when more technologically advanced nations attacked. The lack of strong leadership helped create the emergence of the Muslim pirates along the Barbary Coast; it was during this period in 1801 – 1805 that the United States sent eight Marines leading a force of 500 mercenary soldiers cross country from Egypt to capture the Tripolitan city of Derna. It was also at this time that Thomas Jefferson acquired a copy of the Qur’an to better understand the enemy he was fighting at the time.

Ottoman Empire 1914

The 400 Year Old Ottoman Empire in 1914

In 1914 the Ottoman Empire entered WW I on the side of Germany; when the war was lost the Empire collapsed and was arbitrarily divided by the Treaty of Versailles and a series of later treaties over the following years. It is this division which has created many of the problems today.

My objective in all of this is to show the true nature of Islamic thought; there is a clear, centuries long, history of conquest and control and although we have lived in a short period of calm, since 1918, that period appears to be over.

I’m reminded of Hegel’s famous observation:

“What experience and history teach is this–that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it.”

In the last part of the series we will consider Islam today.


  1. Thank you David. Keep up the great work. Looking forward to part three!! Say Hi to Adele for me:-) Carol

    Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 1 person

    • Carol,

      Thank you for your comment, I think many will be surprised by the conclusion; but remember, the blog is about life from a Christian perspective.



  2. More and more people need to look at this and understand this side of the story.

    Liked by 1 person

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