Book Review

Jihad in the West

P. Fregosi, Promethius Books, 2000 (442 pages)


Many today see Islam and Arabic societies through the rose-colored glasses of wishful thinking, hoping that Islam is somehow a benign religion that can be engaged with reason and diplomacy and coaxed into modernity. It may someday be possible to live in harmony with Arabs and Muslims. But before this can happen, Westerners need to first understand the true nature of Islamic societies. Jihad in the West is one of the few books that is honest enough to describe Arab history without the endless apologizing and gentlemanly euphemisms that characterize so much other work on the subject.

After the invention of Islam by Muhammad in the early 7th century, Arab society was transformed from a peaceful collection of nomadic tribesmen into one of the most bloodthirsty and destructive forces the world has ever seen. The Arabs themselves characterize the land outside their control as Dar-al-Harb, the "land of war", land where Muslims may freely commit acts violence and war. And as this book accurately describes, the history of Islamic societies is truly written in blood.

The book describes the historical origins of their 1,300-year long jihad against the West, concentrating in Europe where the destruction wrought by Islamic Arabs was mild compared to the devastation the Muslims brought to India. From the conquest of Spain in 711, which was held by Muslims for 800 years, to the devastation of Hungary, whose population was reduced by Muslims from 4 million to 1 1/2 million, the Muslims brought slavery, disease and death to their European victims.

Only during the relatively short period of European colonialism in the Middle East between the 19th to mid-20th centuries were Arabs disorganized enough to be unable to attack and devour other societies.

True, the Europeans of that era and since had their share of violence and conquest. But in contrast to the 1,300 year long Muslim Jihad against the world, the European Crusades on the Holy Land lasted a mere 174 years and had a very narrow focus on conquering a specific region. Reading this book puts the military aggressiveness of the much-maligned Spanish Reconquistas and the later New World Conquistadores in the New World in a new light. Their battles with the Moors were not, as Americans are taught in school, acts of wanton, greed-driven destructiveness, but a culmination of an 800-year struggle by Spaniards to regain the homeland. The final destruction of al-Andalus in 1492, when the last of the Muslim invaders were finally driven from Spain, was the act of a courageous, patriotic people who had been brutalized and oppressed for centuries by foreign invaders. Little wonder the Conquistadores became fierce warriors when they colonized the Americas.

Fregosi characterizes the motivation for Arabs' empire-building as motivated less by religious fanaticism than by greed, especially sexual greed. For the Muslim mujaheddin, it is a true case of "cherchez les femmes": if he was successful in his battle of conquest, the Arab soldier was permitted to rape his victims and plunder their wealth, as the Noble Quran instructs him to do; if he is killed, or `martyred', he gets to spend eternity in Paradise surrounded by 72 virgins where, supposedly, sexual orgasms last for 1000 years (this being reduced in later Hadiths to a more manageable 24 years), and he gets a free couch with matching green pillows. Either way, the Muslim believes, he is going to score big.

Islam's jihad against the West continues today, under the guise of terrorism. The Muslims would carry out biological warfare against the West with as little reservation or remorse as they felt in Caffa in 1346, where Muslims started the Great Plague that killed over 20 million Europeans. If reforming Christianity, which was originally founded as a peaceful religion and later degenerated into the Inquisition, was difficult for Europeans, reforming Islam is bound to be an unimaginably more difficult and bloodier task, and one in which Westerners now seem condemned to participate.

November 1, 2001 Back