Now that President Barack Obama has, yet again, placed the free world on our back foot towards Islam with his apologies for the blasphemies of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, it’s not surprising at all that Sheikh Yousuf al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, is now demanding that the Pope “apologize to Muslims for his lecture [in 2006 in Regensburg, Germany], his apostolic exhortation, and the slaughters committed by the Crusaders [against Muslims] in Andalusia, just as he apologized to the Jews." (“Muslims: Pope must apologize for Catholics freeing Spain from Islamic invaders.”)
But why should the American president’s squishy diplomacy lead Qaradawi to imagine his next soft target is the Catholic Church? Obama’s not a Catholic. And Lord knows, (and I mean that literally), Catholic teaching has little in common with the progressive hash that passes for religious thought in the Obama administration.
I think Qaradawi is taking this shot now because, in the mind of Islamists like him, all Western nonMuslims are “crusaders,” (except when their “Zionists”). Obviously the Crusades, that poorly understood series of long-ago wars that were the first, and, for that matter, the last effective counterpunch against Islam’s relentless efforts to invade and subjugate all of Christendom, were an undertaking of the Catholic Church. They were preached by Catholic popes, fought by Catholic knights, and they’re the perennial Exhibit A of anti-Catholics and secularists determined to prove the bottomless greed and barbarity of the Catholic Church, if not the inherent violence at the heart of all religions (except Islam, of course).
Yet from the vantage of an Islamist, all nonMuslim Westerners, except the Jews, are more or less Christians, and therefore more or less complicit in the real or imagined crimes of the Catholic faith -- because from his vantage, the Christian faith is the Catholic faith. The average suicide bomber couldn’t care less for the distinction between a Catholic reciting the Nicene Creed and an evangelical rejecting all creeds in favor of a literal reading of the King James Bible. In the jihadist’s long and angry memory, all those kuffir armies were sent by popes, and a few of them were actually led by popes. The Protestant Reformation notwithstanding, from the 7th century until fairly recent times the Dar-al-Islam has known no other commander-in-chief dispatching those Red Cross knights than the Bishop of Rome.
A devoted Protestant reading this might become rankled that a shanty Irishman like me is presuming to claim universal spiritual jurisdiction for the Man of Perdition in Rome. But all I’m trying to do is bring into focus the undeniable perception within the Dar-al-Islam that the remnants of European Christianity all follow basically the same religion and all bear equal guilt for the Crusades. As far as Qaradawi bothers to think about it, Benedict XVI speaks for all Christians. (And who else would fill that role? Rick Warren?)
And thanks to the fecklessness of political leader of the free world, Qaradawi assumes he can leverage the West’s “misplaced sense of guilt” about crusaders mowing down helpless Andalusians to wring further concessions to Islamist demands.
In fact, it goes deeper than that. As Pope Benedict surely knows, and as all Christians ought to know, Islam’s jihad with us goes beyond the military or political, and is also a spiritual warfare.
Qaradawi’s demand for an apology from the Vatican betrays his conviction that subjugation of the spiritual leadership of Christianity in the West is within the Ikhwan’s grasp if only the Pope is forced to bow his head to Islam, just as subjugation of the political leadership in the West was, well, scooped up with no real effort at all when the American President’s whole body bowed to Islam – without even having to be forced.
But Pope Benedict XVI isn’t going to apologize for liberating Spain. Nor does he need to.
For years now we’ve been fed the myth of “the great intellectual Islam of the Andalusian Moors, with its pan-confessional humanism,” and the way Andalusia was a refuge for people of all faiths from Europe’s medieval narrowness, welcoming spiritual variety and freethinking types of all sorts -- more or less an Iberian version of Ann Arbor -- until the mean old Spanish Catholics spoiled it by kicking the last Muslim king out of Granada in 1492. Bat Ye’or and Andrew Bostom have a more accurate summary of what happened:
Iberia (Spain) was conquered in 710-716 AD by Arab tribes originating from northern, central and southern Arabia. Massive Berber and Arab immigration, and the colonization of the Iberian peninsula, followed the conquest. Most churches were converted into mosques. Although the conquest had been planned and conducted jointly with a strong faction of royal Iberian Christian dissidents, including a bishop, it proceeded as a classical jihad with massive pillages, enslavement, deportations and killings.
. . . . In the regions under stable Islamic control, Jews and Christians were tolerated as dhimmis - like elsewhere in other Islamic lands - and could not build new churches or synagogues nor restore the old ones. Segregated in special quarters, they had to wear discriminatory clothing. Subjected to heavy taxes, the Christian peasantry formed a servile class attached to the Arab domains; many abandoned their land and fled to the towns. Harsh reprisals with mutilations and crucifixions would sanction the Mozarab (Christian dhimmis) calls for help from the Christian kings. Moreover, if one dhimmi harmed a Muslim, the whole community would lose its status of protection, leaving it open to pillage, enslavement and arbitrary killing.
. . . . Al-Andalus represented the land of jihad par excellence. Every year, sometimes twice a year, raiding expeditions were sent to ravage the Christian Spanish kingdoms to the north, the Basque regions, or France and the Rhone valley, bringing back booty and slaves. Andalusian corsairs attacked and invaded along the Sicilian and Italian coasts, even as far as the Aegean Islands, looting and burning as they went. (“Bat Ye'or: Andalusian Myth, Eurabian Reality”).
Nor does the celebrated Golden Age of Andalusian enlightenment turn out to be everything the academics relate:
The Andalusian Maliki jurist Ibn Abdun (d. 1134) offered these telling legal opinions regarding Jews and Christians in Seville around 1100 C.E.: "No...Jew or Christian may be allowed to wear the dress of an aristocrat, nor of a jurist, nor of a wealthy individual; on the contrary they must be detested and avoided. It is forbidden to [greet] them with the [expression], 'Peace be upon you'.
. . . . Indeed, although Maimonides is frequently referred to as a paragon of Jewish achievement facilitated by the enlightened rule of Andalusia, his own words debunk this utopian view of the Islamic treatment of Jews: "..the Arabs have persecuted us severely, and passed baneful and discriminatory legislation against us...Never did a nation molest, degrade, debase, and hate us as much as they.."
The Reconquista, as the 500-year long campaign by the Spaniards to rid the Iberian peninsula of its Moorish tormenters is called, was a genuine liberation of a vast area of the European continent from an Islamic vanguard practicing “one of the most rigorous schools of Islamic jurisprudence.” Without that liberation, eventually Muslims conquests would have launched across the continent from Spain. We can thank the Crusaders in Andalusia that Mass is still celebrated at Notre-Dame in Paris, instead of its having been reduced to a mosque/museum like Turkey’s Hagia Sophia, or simply be allowed to crumble into a ruin according to the strict rules for dhimmis set out in the Pact of Umar.
Fortunately, the Pope is not going to be subjugated, thanks to a certain promise that the gates of hell will never prevail against the Church. Alas, there’s no such promise that the gates of hell will never prevail against our political system. That explains in part why thousands of raving savages demanding that we arrest one of our own for blasphemy were answered with a photo of a gang of sworn officers hustling the offender into a sheriff’s paddywagon in the middle of the night.