What 18th century, American founding fathers knew about Islam
By Yoram Ettinger. Since the 18th century, American founding fathers and scholars have been aware of deeply-rooted Islamic violence, terrorism, intolerance and hatred toward other Muslims, as well as non-Muslims.
Early American leaders and thinkers were endowed with deep appreciation and unique knowledge of global history, international relations, ancient cultures, ideologies and religions. They spoke and wrote candidly about global threats, including the Islamic threat.
In 1830, New York University Professor George Bush, the great-granduncle of George H. W. Bush, considered one of the most profound American scholars of the mid-19th century, published “The Life of Mohammed.” He was not concerned about political correctness, was low on delusion and top-heavy on realism. His 1830 reference to the Islamic threat was consistent with the 2012 state of intra-Muslim atrocities, hate-education, tyranny, anti-U.S. stormy Arab winter, intolerance of criticism, global Islamic terrorism in general and suicide bombing in particular.
According to Professor Bush, ”[Muhammad] promised robes of silks, marble palaces, groves and fountains and beautiful virgins to those who fought for the faith … offering his enemies the alternative; the Koran or the sword. … It was inflamed by zeal for a religion which assured the soldier of victory now and paradise hereafter. The permanence of this religion is now apparently secured by education … in regions where freedom of thought is unknown [pp. 155-6].
“O prophet of God, I will beat out the teeth, pull out the eyes, rip open the bellies and cut off the legs of all who shall dare to oppose thee [pp. 36-37]. … [Muhammad] was cruel on principle. He did deliberately what other men do from impulse. … The ambition which tramples on the right of men to think or to live is the greatest of human crimes. … The sword is the key of heaven and hell. A drop of blood shed in the cause of God is of more avail than two months of fast and prayers. Whosoever falls in the battle his sins are forgiven … and the loss of his limbs shall be replaced by the wing of angels [pp. 103-4]. … Hatred of Christians and Jews is rooted in their hearts from childhood [p. 137]. …
John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist church (1703-1791) preferred clarity over ambiguity when describing Islam: “Ever since the religion of Islam appeared in the world, the espousers of it … have been as wolves and tigers to all other nations, rending and tearing all that fell into their merciless paws. … Such was, and is at this day, the rage, the fury, the revenge, of these destroyers of human kind.”
Thomas Jefferson studied the Quran to become more knowledgeable about a chief enemy — the Muslim Barbary pirates who plundered American ships, enslaving Americans and demanding protection money and ransom for their release. During 1784-1789, while Jefferson (the third president of the United States) was ambassador to France and John Adams (the second U.S. president) was ambassador to England, they met with the Barbary ambassador to London in an attempt to stop the anti-US piracy. Ambassador Sidi Haji Abdrahaman told them: “[Piracy] was founded on the laws of the Prophet, as it was written in the Koran; that all nations which had not acknowledged [Islam’s] authority were sinners; that it was [the Muslims'] right and duty to make war upon them and enslave them as prisoners, and that every Muslim slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.”
John Quincy Adams, sixth U.S. president (1825-1829), wrote after his presidency and before his election to Congress in 1830: “The precept of the Koran is perpetual war against all who deny that Mahomet is the prophet of God. The vanquished may purchase their lives, by the payment of tribute; the victorious may be appeased by a false and delusive promise of peace; and the faithful follower of the prophet, may submit to the imperious necessities of defeat: but the command to propagate the Moslem creed by the sword is always obligatory, when it can be made effective. [Muhammad] declared undistinguishing and exterminating war, as a part of his religion, against all the rest of mankind…. Between [Christianity and Islam], thus contrasted in their characters, a war of twelve hundred years has already raged. The war is yet flagrant….” (Blunt, 29:274).
In 1916, 26th U.S. president Teddy Roosevelt observed: “Wherever the Mohammedans have had a complete sway, wherever the Christians have been unable to resist them by the sword, Christianity has ultimately disappeared” [ditto, Judaism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism ...].”
In 2012, U.S. policymakers should benefit from the experience of early U.S. leaders and thinkers — whose observations have been vindicated by the recent turmoil in Arab lands — avoiding the lethal trap of political correctness in their assessment of the Islamic threat.