The History of Jihad: From Muhammad to ISIS by Spencer Robert

The History of Jihad: From Muhammad to ISIS by Spencer Robert

Author:Spencer, Robert [Spencer, Robert]
Language: eng
Format: azw3, epub
Publisher: Bombardier Books
Published: 2018-08-06T16:00:00+00:00



Jihad in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries


The Ottomans continued their ascent. The Safavid Persians, who had just adopted Shi’ism in 1501, were a new and potent force confronting the Ottoman sultanate in eastern Asia Minor; as the Ottomans grew in power and confidence, a confrontation was inevitable.

There was, however, one obstacle: the Qur’an forbids Muslims to kill fellow Muslims (4:92), and so these Shi’a had to be declared non-Muslim. A decree therefore went out that “according to the precepts of the holy law,” the Safavid Shah Ismail and his followers were “unbelievers and heretics. Any who sympathize and accept their false religion or assist them are also unbelievers and heretics. It is a necessity and a divine obligation that they be massacred and their communities be dispersed.”1

The Ottoman sultan Selim then wrote to Shah Ismail: “You have subjected the upright community of Muhammad…to your devious will [and] undermined the firm foundation of the faith; you have unfurled the banner of oppression in the cause of aggression [and] no longer uphold the commandments and prohibitions of the Divine Law; you have incited your abominable Shii faction to unsanctified sexual union and the shedding of innocent blood.”2

The jihad against the Shi’ites thus justified, the Ottomans defeated them in 1514, and drove them from the eastern regions of Asia Minor. Two years later, the Ottomans defeated the Mamluks and gained control of Syria and the Holy Land and defeated them again to win Egypt shortly thereafter. Their preeminence in the Islamic world, outside of Persia and India, was now secured, and then cemented in 1517 when the last Abbasid caliph, al-Mutawakkil III, surrendered his authority to the Ottoman caliph Selim I.3

Although the Holy Land had been occupied by Muslims since 1291, the Ottoman presence there was alarming to the crowned heads of Europe, who had long had an opportunity to see the Ottomans up close, far closer than they would have preferred. Pope Leo X tried to organize a new Crusade, and in 1518 called upon the leaders of Europe to stop their infighting and unite against the jihadis, but it was that very infighting that prevented any concerted European effort against the Ottomans.

The Ottomans even became a rhetorical weapon in that infighting. In response to Pope Leo X’s efforts toward a new Crusade, the pioneering reformer Martin Luther declared that “to fight against the Turk is the same thing as resisting God, who visits our sin upon us with this rod.”4 In polemicizing against the Roman Church, Luther even charged that the papacy was worse than the Ottoman caliphate, thus making a Crusade against the Ottomans in alliance with the pope anathema to many Protestants:


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