Exclusive: The neocon prescription of endless “regime change” is spreading chaos across the Middle East and now into Europe, yet the neocons still control the mainstream U.S. narrative and thus have diagnosed the problem as not enough “regime change,” as Robert Parry reports. By Robert Parry The refugee chaos that is now pushing deep into Europe – dramatized by gut-wrenching photos of Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi whose body washed up on a beach in Turkey – started with the cavalier ambitions of American neocons and their liberal-interventionist sidekicks who planned to remake the Middle East and other parts of the world through “regime change.” Instead of the promised wonders of “democracy promotion” and “human rights,” what these “anti-realists” have accomplished is to spread death, destruction and destabilization across the Middle East and parts of Africa and now into Ukraine and the heart of Europe. Yet, since these neocon forces still control the Official Narrative, their explanations get top billing – such as that there hasn’t been enough “regime change.” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Aug. 30, 2013, claims to have proof that the Syrian government was responsible for a chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21, but that evidence failed to materialize or was later discredited. [State Department photo] For instance, The Washington Post’s neocon editorial page editor Fred Hiatt on Monday blamed “realists” for the cascading catastrophes. Hiatt castigated them and President Barack Obama for not intervening more aggressively in Syria to depose President Bashar al-Assad, a longtime neocon target for “regime change.” But the truth is that this accelerating spread of human suffering can be traced back directly to the unchecked influence of the neocons and their liberal fellow-travelers who have resisted political compromise and, in the case of Syria, blocked any realistic efforts to work out a power-sharing agreement between Assad and his political opponents, those who are not terrorists. In early 2014, the neocons and liberal hawks sabotaged Syrian peace talks in Geneva by blocking Iran’s participation and turning the peace conference into a one-sided shouting match where U.S.-funded opposition leaders yelled at Assad’s representatives who then went home. All the while, the Post’s editors and their friends kept egging Obama to start bombing Assad’s forces. Keep reading full article at Source: How Neocons Destabilized Europe | Consortiumnews
Nordic/Christian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik admitted killing 77 people last summer but claimed “self-defense,” protecting Christian culture from Muslims and “multiculturalists.” His writings show he was inspired by anti-Muslim bigotry spread by U.S. “experts,” Robert Parry explained in 2011. By Robert Parry (Originally published on July 27, 2011) If the Fox News promoters of racial profiling had been in charge of investigating the terror attacks in Norway on July 22, 2011, they might well have encountered blond, blue-eyed Anders Behring Breivik and his two smoking-hot guns only long enough to ask if he’d seen any suspicious-looking Muslims around. After all, it has been a touchstone of the American Right, as well as right-wing Israelis, that Muslims are the source of virtually all terrorism and thus it makes little sense to focus attention on non-Muslims. A clean-cut Nordic sort like Breivik, who fancies himself part of a modern-day Knights Templar, is someone who would get a pass. Passport photo of Anders Behring Breivik, the admitted killer of 77 people in Norway, including young people at a summer camp affiliated with a liberal political party. Or, as Israel’s UN Ambassador Dan Gillerman told a conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in 2006, “While it may be true – and probably is – that not all Muslims are terrorists, it also happens to be true that nearly all terrorists are Muslim.” [Washington Post, March 7, 2006] So, if you were tuned in to Fox News after the Norway attack, you would have seen smug-looking Fox talking heads recounting how this attack was surely an act of Islamic terrorism and even one exchange about the value of racial profiling to avoid wasting time on non-Muslims. Yet, while the biases of Gillerman and Fox News represent a large chunk of the conventional wisdom, the reality is that terrorism is far from some special plague associated with Muslims. In fact, terrorism, including state terrorism, has been practiced far more extensively by non-Muslims and especially by Christian-dominated nations, both historically and in more modern times. Terror tactics have long been in the tool kit of predominantly Christian armies and paramilitaries, including Breivik’s beloved Crusaders who slaughtered Muslims and Jews alike when Jerusalem was conquered in 1099. Terror, such as torture and burning “heretics” alive, was a big part of the Roman Catholic Inquisition and the intra-Christian bloodletting in Europe in the middle of the last millennium. Terror played a big role, too, in genocides committed by Christian explorers against the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere and other unfortunate targets of colonialism. More Crusading ‘Knights’ During the Jim Crow era in the American South, white Christians organized Ku Klux Klan chapters, which, like Breivik’s Templars, considered themselves Christian “knights” harkening back to the Crusades. The KKK inflicted terror on blacks, including lynching and bombings, to defend white supremacy. In the 20th Century, there were countless examples of “red” and “white” terror, as Communists challenged the Capitalist power structure in Russia and other countries. Those violent clashes led to the rise of German Nazism which empowered “Aryans” to inflict terrifying slaughters to “defend” their racial purity from Jews, Gypsies, Slavs and other “inferior” races. To prevail in World War II, the Allies resorted to their own terror tactics, destroying entire cities from the air, such as Dresden in Germany and Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. After World War II, the United States created the CIA to conduct what amounted to a war of terror and counter-terror against revolutionary movements around the world. This “low-intensity conflict” sometimes spilled into massive slaughters, such as U.S. terror bombings that killed estimated millions across Vietnam and Southeast Asia. The CIA also recruited, deployed and supported proxy terrorists throughout Latin America. A generation of South and Central American military officers was schooled in how to intimidate and repress political movements seeking social change. A fierce slaughter occurred in Guatemala after the CIA ousted an elected government in 1954 through the use of violent propaganda that terrified the nation. The CIA’s coup was followed by military dictatorships that used state terror as a routine means of controlling the impoverished population. The consequences of the U.S. strategy were described in a March 29, 1968, report written by the U.S. embassy’s deputy chief of mission, Viron Vaky.
Keep reading >>>> Source: Who Commits Terrorism? | Consortiumnews
Rick Santorum declared, “Satan has his sights on the United States of America.” Though sounding odd to many, Santorum’s Satan talk is common among right-wing Christians who have intervened in U.S. politics before, like President Clinton’s impeachment, as Frederick Clarkson noted in this 1998 article. By Frederick Clarkson (Originally published in 1998) Most attorneys who ascend into the rarefied atmosphere of media celebrity-hood are either dashing courtroom warriors, like O.J. Simpson’s Johnnie Cochran, or inside-the-Beltway power types, like Bill Clinton’s Robert Bennett. The Monica Lewinsky case broke that mold with the unlikely emergence of the family’s Los Angeles-based lawyer, the garrulous William Ginsburg, as a five-talk-shows-per-Sunday phenomenon. But perhaps even more unusual — and less examined — is the entrance of Paula Jones’s lawyer, John Whitehead, into the exclusive “Burden of Proof” club of TV-courtroom stardom. As the Paula Jones case merged with the Monica Lewinsky case in 1998, the rumpled Whitehead became a fixture as a talking head on Nightline, CNN and other network news shows. Two priests during the Inquisition use torture to get a “heretic” to repent. Yet, there has been only superficial attention to who Whitehead is and what he stands for — despite a lengthy public record of controversial remarks. During his legal-religious career, for instance, Whitehead has asserted that democracy is “heresy”; that the defining aspect of history is the “race war” between Christians and non-Christians; and that the harsh Calvinism of the “Puritan Fathers” is the standard to which temporal law should strive. But, even as the TV networks ran up millions of dollars in expenses covering Monica and Paula, there was next to no attention to Whitehead’s religious-political goals. Those motives might normally have been expected to draw some interest, especially as the possibility grew that the Jones-Lewinsky controversy could lead to some form of impeachment proceedings against President Clinton (which it did later in 1998). Still, more often than not, the Washington news media served only as a conveyor belt for P.R. boiler-plate. In a typical description, The New York Times called Whitehead’s Rutherford Institute “a kind of evangelical Christian civil liberties union” — which is how Rutherford describes itself in its publicity material. The P.R. handouts just leave out “kind of.” Are Whitehead’s beliefs too white-hot to handle? Or are reporters of a kinder and gentler generation merely being considerate of people whose religious beliefs are deeply held? Or is that sensitivity a cover for reporters and editors too timid to investigate and fully report potentially controversial beliefs for fear of being labeled religious bigots?
>>>> Read full story @Source: Onward-Marching Christian Soldiers | Consortiumnews
Islamophobia is a real problem that needs to be considered in the same light as racism, homophobia and anti-Semitism, says Nathan Lean, the author of ‘The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims’
What is Islamophobia? Who is promoting it? And, how is it a poisonous force in the world today? Nathan Lean answers these questions in his excellent new book, The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims (Pluto Books/Macmillan, 2012).
Nathan Lean is Editor-in-Chief of Aslan Media, one of the best American sources for news, commentary, and analysis of issues in the Middle East. He is the co-author of Iran, Israel, and the United States: Regime Security vs Political Legitimacy (Praeger, 2011). Lean earned his Master’s degree in International Studies at East Carolina University in Greenville, in the US state of North Carolina. He is currently in graduate school at Georgetown University’s Center for Arab American Studies in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service in Washington DC.
In The Islamophobia Industry, Lean illuminates the shadowy underworld inhabited by bigots united against Muslims and Islam. It is a meticulous investigation of the disturbing global phenomenon of ‘Islamophobia’. His book will shape our understanding of this subject for a long time to come. Lean discusses his new book in this exclusive interview.
What was the inspiration for your new book?
I was interested in the way in which the controversy over the Park51 Islamic Community Center, dubbed by ‘Islamophobes’ as the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’, mushroomed into a national hysteria almost overnight.
It occurred to me that the people heralding the opposition to Park51 were the same people behind the push for anti-sharia laws, the scare over the Muslim Brotherhood, and the virulent and nasty protests over the construction of mosques from California to Tennessee. I saw that there were dots that needed to be connected, and that this tight-knit, well-funded network needed to be exposed.
Who are the captains of the Islamophobia industry?
There are several. But two in particular have had more influence than other, at least as of late: Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. These are two American bloggers who prey on Muslims and who use the power of the Internet to drum up hate.
Spencer and Geller were not only the leaders of the Park51 protest, but their lawyer authored the blueprint legislation for the anti-Sharia bills circulated throughout American legislatures. Recently, their metro ads in New York and California were met with backlash, and now we know that they are both connected to the filmmaker and producer of the anti-Muslim flick Innocence of Muslims that set off protests in the Middle East. Both Spencer and Geller were listed as inspirations by
Anders Breivik, the Norway killer who, in July of 2010, murdered 77 youth that he blamed for the ‘Islamisation’ of Europe.
How profitable is their industry?
The Islamophobia industry is very profitable. We know, thanks to the Center for American Progress, that over the past decade, seven different organisations have funnelled US$42mn to groups that support the work of these Islamophobes. But that’s not all.
Millions of dollars have also come from other sources, individuals who donate substantially to these projects, wealthy Israelis connected to or living in the Occupied Territories, and sadly, much money has come via political donations that are made to candidates who take up a particular anti-Muslim platform.
Beyond just donations, though, the key players in this industry have created careers peddling this type of hate – careers that bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars in salaries each year. They sell books, have provided training for law enforcement officials, and charge astronomical fees for speaking engagements.
How deep is Islamophobia in America?
Islamophobia in America is a real problem. Polls show that today, nearly half of all Americans report that Muslims make them feel ‘uncomfortable’. Mosque burnings, assaults, Congressional witch-hunts and hearings, racial and ethnic profiling, illegal surveillance programmes – all of these things are evidence of a social cancer that is festering within our society.
Violence carried out by Muslims inside the US is at extremely low levels. Between 2001 and 2010, 33 terrorist attacks were successfully carried out. Certainly that’s 33 too many, but compare that to the 150,000 murders that took place in the same period of time and a clearer picture emerges about where – and who – the real threat is.
How has Islamophobia infected Europe?
Islamophobia has affected Europe so greatly because it has been institutionalised. In essence, what you have is a cadre of state governments that officially adopt policies discriminatory to Muslims. In Belgium, citizens were paid money to go around town and capture women wearing burqas – which were banned – and report them to the police.
It sounds too absurd to be true.
There is also a growing and dangerous right-wing nationalism in Europe that, in addition to being neo-Nazis and supporting only the advancement of the white race, have zeroed in on Muslims. The English Defence League (EDL) is a classic example of one such football hooligan group.
They storm the streets of various cities, beat up Muslims, break into restaurants and, with their fists pumped and their jugular veins popping from their necks, proclaim that Europe won’t tolerate the infiltration of ‘outsiders’. That is what’s happening in Europe.
What is the antidote to Islamophobia?
First, relationships. Then, more speech. Getting to know Muslims – neighbours, co-workers, etc – and developing friendships with them is a positive step in this direction. That doesn’t mean that we work to change their ideas, nor does it mean that they change ours. We have to move the Overton window to a place that excludes the rhetoric of the Islamophobes in our society and emphasises our common humanity.
What that means is agreeing, as a society, that Islamophobia is first a real problem that needs to be considered in the same light as racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, etc. We can accomplish that by constantly dragging the people who spout anti-Muslim sentiment out into the light and exposing their hate.
We must also reject that hate, not just in private but vocally – in op-eds, in articles, in the media, in church pulpits, in schools and universities, in workplaces. It’s not an easy task. But I am certain that one day, the Islamophobes will be swept under the rug of history along with the other racists in our society whose rhetoric was at one time acceptable, but now is considered disgusting and taboo.
How can all of us challenge Islamophobia in our own communities?
By not being afraid to speak out every time we witness an injustice. By getting involved in interfaith groups. By learning about Islam and getting to know our Muslim neighbours. An important part of this is using the word ‘Islamophobia’. If it doesn’t have a name, it doesn’t exist.
And when we reach a point in our society where we begin to describe this illness with consistent terminology, we will reach a real tipping point. Think about it – we have ‘anti-Semites’ and ‘racists’ and no one wants to be labelled as one of those. Everyone knows that these are bad things. The same must be true about Islamophobia and the Islamophobes that seek to fracture our society.
[Joseph Richard Preville is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Tabuk, Saudi Arabia]
In the politics of Nigeria, religion, ethnicity and regionalism are intermingled. Almost all Hausa are Muslim and overwhelmingly located in the North. Almost all Igbos are Christian and are geographically concentrated in the East. The Yoruba, on the other hand, are half Christian and half Muslim and are concentrated mainly in Western Nigeria. Since its 1960 independence, Nigeria’s national politics have been bedeviled by Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba ethnicity tensions, Christian vs. Muslim sectarianism violence and North vs. South regionalism.
The militant Islamic movement, Boko Haram, consists mainly of young Hausa in the north of the country. The movement signifies a different kind of radicalization and precipitated from the 1990s Sharia movement in the north.
The Sharia movement was a cultural assertion by Northern elites at the state level to compensate for their political decline at the federal level. Although Nigeria as a country was supposed to be a secular state, one Northern state after another established Sharia Islamic law within their state boundaries. Of the 36 Nigerian states, about one-third opted to adopt Islamic law and governance.
The world woke up to its implications when Amina Lawal, an unmarried pregnant woman, was sentenced to death for adultery by a Sharia court. The sentence was never carried out mainly because of national and global outcry, not least among fellow Muslims worldwide. However, Islamic law remained theoretically operational in most northern Nigerian states, but the militancy declined among the elite.
While the Sharia movement was ultimately an assertion of pride in Islam, Boko Haram’s ideology is adversarial toward other religions. The Sharia movement in Nigeria was a declaration of loyalty and adherence to Islam, while Boko Haram is substantially a declaration of hostility towards Christianity and aspects of Western civilization.
The Sharia movement was basically non-violent except under the legal sanctions of the more stringent aspects of Islamic law. Boko Haram, on the other hand, is more directly violent as an ideology of terror. Boko Haram has targeted federal officials, churches, law-enforcement buildings, liquor stores and some military and educational institutions associated with promoting Western culture. Almost all the casualties have been fellow Nigerians, but occasionally the group has attacked international representatives such as United Nations members within the country. Boko Haram has been the militant denunciation of Western education and disapproves of learned modernity.
Ironically, the Muslim uprising in Nigeria began through the relative denial that young Muslims are able to receive a good Western education. Far less Muslims are seen studying abroad in prestigious Western universities than Christians. This is in spite of the fact that the Nigerian Muslim population is larger than the population of Christians. In Nigeria, Muslims are educationally an underprivileged majority.
[ Added an Extract from Encyclopaedia Britannica:“The decline of Muslim scholarship coincided with the early phases of the European intellectual awakening that these translations were partly instrumental in bringing about. The translation into Latin of most Islamic works during the 12th and 13th centuries had a great impact upon the European Renaissance. As Islam was declining in scholarship and Europe was absorbing the fruits of Islam’s centuries of creative productivity, signs of Latin Christian awakening were evident throughout the European continent. The 12th century was one of intensified traffic of Muslim learning into the Western world through many hundreds of translations of Muslim works, which helped Europe seize the initiative from Islam when political conditions in Islam brought about a decline in Muslim scholarship. By 1300 C.E when all that was worthwhile in Muslim scientific, philosophical, and social learning had been transmitted to European schoolmen through Latin translations, European scholars stood once again on the solid ground of Hellenistic thought, enriched or modified through Muslim and Byzantine efforts.”
“Most of the important Greek scientific texts were preserved in Arabic translations. Although the Muslims did not alter the foundations of Greek science, they made several important contributions within its general framework. When interest in Greek learning revived in Western Europe during the 12th and 13th centuries, scholars turned to Islamic Spain for the scientific texts. A spate of translations resulted in the revival of Greek science in the West and coincided with the rise of the universities. Working within a predominantly Greek framework, scientists of the late Middle Ages reached high levels of sophistication and prepared the ground for the scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries.” According to Will Durant, the Western scholar, “For five centuries , from 700 to 1200 (C.E), Islam led the world in power, order and extent of government, in refinement of manners, scholarship and philosophy”.]
Part of this is a cultural explanation. The Hausa put tremendous value in the attainment of Nigeria’s independence, and are still suspicious of Western education while being disproportionately attached to Qur’anic schools and basic Islamic education.
Nigeria’s fifty years of independence has created more rich Christians than Muslims. Petro-wealth has created a Nigerian plutocracy with economic inequalities between social classes and among regions, ethnic groups and religious denominations.
The wake of these postcolonial changes has created a lack of communal morale and collective self-worth in some groups. Some ethnic and religious groups suffer from insecurities and high levels of victim-psychology. Nigeria needs to embark on confidence-building measures to restore the morale of and give support to the underprivileged.
Finally, there is the distinction between cultural genocide and ethnic cleansing. Sharia critics accused the movement of cultural genocide. The Sharia champions, in fact, were not guilty of killing their adversaries. They were hostile to Nigerian values that contradicted Islam. This was perceived as a version of cultural genocide.
On the other hand, Boko Haram’s program includes expelling Nigerian Christians out of the North. If fulfilled, this program would be a kind of sectarian displacement, otherwise known as ethnic cleansing.
Neither the Sharia movement nor Boko Haram has attempted a full implementation of their exclusion programs. There is still time for religious, political and educational leaders of Nigeria to seek solutions to some of the political and sectarian grievances that have recurrently plunged the country into ethnic and religious conflicts.
There is a need to widen opportunities for disadvantaged young people in Nigeria. This would be the best antidote to political and religious extremism in the unfolding decades of Nigeria’s history.
By By ALI A. MAZRUI
Ali A. Mazrui is a Professor and Director of the Center for Global Cultural Studies, State University of New York at Binghamton. Dr. Mazrui is also Senior Scholar in Africana Studies at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and a Senior Fellow of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. Currently, he is also President of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists of North America.
Nigeria’s militant Islamist group Boko Haram – which has caused havoc in Africa’s most populous country through a wave of bombings – is fighting to overthrow the government and create an Islamic state. … Continue reading »
“If He wills, He can remove you, and substitute whomever He wills in your place,”[Quran; 6:133].
When the Arab–Israeli war raged in 1948, librarians from Israel’s National Library followed soldiers as they entered Palestinian homes in towns and villages. Their mission was to collect as many valuable books and manuscripts as possible. They are said to have gathered over 30,000 books from Jerusalem and another 30,000 from Haifa and Jaffa.
Using eyewitness accounts, this film tries to understand why thousands of books appropriated from Palestinian homes still languish in the Israeli National Library vaults and why they have not been returned to their rightful owners. Was it cultural preservation or robbery?
A film by Benny Brunner
- The Great Book Robbery (aytacgok.wordpress.com)
- Watch: The Great Book Robbery, Israel’s 1948 looting of Palestine’s cultural heritage (windowintopalestine.blogspot.com)
- Report: Israeli police caught robbing Palestinian workers (windowintopalestine.blogspot.com)
- The Great Book Robbery in Palestine by Israel (windowintopalestine.blogspot.com)
Pre-Islamic Arabia, like much of the rest of the pre-modern world, was a place of continual low-intensity warfare. (So was Europe, which is why castles and fortifications litter the continent’s landscape, and why Shakespeare’s historical plays almost always feature violent conflicts and intrigue.)
But when Muhammad came along and when, in response to his preaching, people from various Arabian tribes began to join the Islamic community, he told them that they could no longer pillage and murder one another. They were now, in effect, members of a single faith-based super-tribe.
So their traditional urge to raid — again, not much different than that of every other tribe and petty kingdom worldwide — had to be turned outward. Which it was, and with great success. The Sassanid Persian Empire, one of the two great powers of the seventh century Middle East, fell under Arab control not many years after the Prophet’s death, and much of the rest of the Middle East, along with North Africa and Spain, fell to the Arabs within the next few decades.
So, were the Arabs’ defeated subjects compelled to accept Islam? Was the ultimatum really “Convert or die?”
No. In fact, for the first two centuries or so, conversions to Islam were often actually discouraged. In Egypt, which seems to be roughly typical, fully three centuries were required before Muslims constituted a bare majority of the population.
Why would the Arab overlords of the Middle East discourage conversions to their Islamic faith? The answer lies within the politics of the Arab empire itself.
After Muhammad’s relatively sudden death in 632 AD, his immediate successors, known as the four “orthodox caliphs,” were chosen from among the ranks of his earliest disciples. But then, in 661 AD, a new dynasty called the Umayyads took power, based in Damascus.
The Umayyads were descendants of Muhammad’s archenemies in Mecca. Mu’awiyah, the first Umayyad ruler, was the son of Abu Sufyan, who had led armies in battle against the Prophet and the Muslims.
By William J. Hamblin and Daniel Peterson, For the Deseret News
Islam & Sword:
This is another successful innovation (source). Although some other religions have spread themselves using force, they had very little justification from their own religious doctrines to do so. Not so with Islam. Expanding by conquest is very much accepted and encouraged by the idea-collection. Islamic teachings present it this way: The non-Muslims need to be saved from the sin of following laws other than Allah’s. If they won’t voluntarily change their laws to Shari’a, then it is a Muslim’s duty to insist. The world cannot be at peace until every government on earth follows the laws of Allah. Mohammad’s own experience showed the example — an example, says the Qur’an 91 times, that every Muslim should follow. At first, Mohammad tried to spread Islam by peaceful means. After thirteen years he’d gained 150 converts. But then he changed tactics and started using caravan raids, warfare, executions, ransoming captives, and assassination, and within ten years he converted tens of thousands. After he died, his followers used the same tactics and converted millions. And by now it is one and a half billion. The use of warfare combines synergistically and powerfully with the instruction to create an Islamic state. So Islam spread quickly as their armies got bigger. They conquered and set up Islamic states, most of which have lasted to this day, and the laws within an Islamic state make Islam very difficult to dislodge. The laws also make it very advantageous to convert to Islam. This is one of the most effective methods ever invented for getting an idea-collection followed by huge numbers of people. It’s a method of control and indoctrination similar to those used successfully in communist and totalitarian states. But as you’ll discover below, Islam makes unique use of the power of the law to enforce complete conversion to the religion.
Islam started under unique conditions. All other major religions were started within an already-existing state. Islam is an historical exception to this rule. Any organized government will, of course, put a stop to violent uprisings of a rebellious political group — especially one that wants to wage war and apply its own system of law. Christianity arose within the Roman Empire, for example. If Christianity had been a militant or political uprising, Rome would probably have killed or imprisoned the followers. Probably many military or political religions did start up then, but we’ve never heard of them. They couldn’t get off the ground. But Islam arose in Arabia when there was no central ruling power. The whole area was comprised of individual tribes. Under those circumstances, conversion by war and the use of force was possible.
Warfare and Humanity:
It is irrational to ignore the lust of blood in stubborn man as a form of evil which has to be combated “within the limits”, set by Allah. At the time of creation of Adam: “The angels said: Will You place there one who will make mischief and shed blood? ..”(Qur’an;2:30). It may undoubtedly be realized that human beings often resort to war without solid justification, at times over petty matters. One has to look at history, the past and present. The motives of war could be many, broadly they are; (1) Pursuit of trade and to gain economic advantage, (2) Spread of influence or religion, (3) Desire for security and political power, and (4) Combination of one or more of these three. At different times and in different places, different motives are dominant. War is a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between political units, such as states or nations or between rival political factions of the same state or nation. It is a popular myth among critics that Islam was spread through wars [Jihad] ordained upon Muslims through Qur’an. Warfare is one of the ways to defend oneself when all peaceful efforts and persuasion fails, and aggressor try to impose its will upon weak. Human history is witness to the fact that those who did not resist oppression and aggression suffered.
Warfare [armed struggle, Qital] was also permissible in the previous scriptures. It is mentioned in Qur’an: “Indeed God has purchased from the believers their persons and their wealth and in return has promised them paradise; they fight in the cause of Allah and slay and are slain. This is a true promise which is binding on Him mentioned in Torah, the Gospel and the Qur’an; and who is more true in fulfilling his promise than Allah? Rejoice, therefore, in the bargain which you have made, and that is a mighty achievement.”(Qur’an;9:111). As regards actual ‘fighting with the sword’ there has been some difference in theological theories at different times, but very little in the practice of those who framed those theories.
Forced Conversion to Islam not Permissible:
Conversion by force is prohibited in Islam. Allah says: “There shall be no coercion in matters of faith. Distinct has now become the right way from the (way of ) error: hence, he who rejects the powers of evil and believes in God has indeed taken hold of support most unfailing, which shall never give way: for God is all-hearing, all-knowing.”(Qur’an;2:256). “So if they argue with you, tell them: “I have submitted myself entirely to Allah and so have those who follow me.” Then ask those who are given the Book and those who are illiterates (not having revealed scriptures): “Will you also submit yourselves to Allah?” If they become Muslims they shall be rightly guided but if they turn back, you need not worry, because your sole responsibility is to convey the Message. God is watching all His servants very closely.”(Qur’an;3:20). “Call people to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and best advice, and reason with them, if you have to, in the most courteous manner: for your Lord knows best who strays from His Way and He knows best who is rightly guided.”(Qur’an;16:125). “O Muhammad, declare: “O mankind! The truth has come to you from your Lord! He that follows guidance (Right Way) follows it for his own good, and he that goes astray does so at his own risk; for I am not a custodian over you.”(Qur’an;10:108). “Say “The Truth is from your Lord”: let him who will believe and let him who will reject (it): for the wrongdoers We have prepared a Fire…. (Qur’an;18:29). “Will they not then ponder on the Qur’an?..”(Qur’an;4:82). “Say, O Muhammad: “Would you dispute with us concerning God, who is our Lord and your Lord as well? We shall be accountable to Him for our deeds and you for yours; to Him alone we are devoted.”(Qur’an;2:139). “And argue not with the followers of earlier revelations unless it be in (a way) that is better, save with such of them as do wrong; and say: We believe in that which hath been revealed unto us and revealed unto you; our God and your God is One, and unto Him we surrender.(Qur’an;29:46). “Have you ever seen the one who has taken his own desires as his god? Would you take the responsibility of guiding him?”(Qur’an;25:43). “If there are some among you who believe in the message with which I have been sent and others who disbelieve it, then be patient until Allah judges between us, for He is the best of all judges.”(Qur’an;7:87). “He creates man out of (mere) drop of sperm: and lo! This same being shows himself endowed with the power to think and argue”(Qur’an;16:4).
It is well known historic fact that after eight centuries of the Muslims inSpainthey were totally eliminated from that country after Christian reconquest. If the Muslims had used force, military or economic there would not have been any Christian left inSpainto have kicked the Muslims out. One cannot charge Muslims with using the sword to convert Spaniards to the Islamic religion. Today, Islam is still spreading all over the world and Muslims have NO sword!! The Muslims were also the masters ofIndiafor almost thousand years, but they did not force Islam down the Hindus. InSpainand inIndia, the Muslims were no paragons of virtue, yet they obeyed the Qur’anic injunctions. Indonesia and Malaysia in the Far East and The majority of the people on the East coast of Africa as far down as Mozambique, as well as the bulk of the inhabitants on the West coast of the continent are Muslims, but history does not record any invading hoards of Muslims from anywhere. The Muslim traders and preachers through their good conduct and moral righteousness achieved the miracle of conversion. This forced De Lacy O’Leary in to write : ‘History makes it clear however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of the sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myths that historians have ever repeated.’ (“Islam at the Crossroads”London, 1923, p.8).
More at: Jihad: Myth & Reality