Christ our God…ordered us to pray for our offenders and to do good to them. He also said that no one of us can show greater love in life than he who gives his life for his friends (Jn. 15:3). That is why we generously endure offenses caused us as private people. But in company we defend one another and give our lives in battle for our neighbors, so that you, having taken our fellows prisoners, could not imprison their souls together with their bodies by forcing them into renouncing their faith and into godless deeds. Our Christ-loving soldiers protect our holy Church with arms in their hands. They safeguard the sovereign in whose sacred person they respect the image of the rule of the Heavenly King. They safeguard their land because, with its fall, the home authority authority will inevitably fall too and evangelical faith will be shaken. These are precious pledges for which soldiers fight to the last. And if they give their lives in battlefield, the Church will include them in the community of the holy martyrs and call them intercessors before God. (Life of Sts. Cyril of Methodius. excerpted from For the Peace from Above: An Orthodox Resource Book on War, Peace and Nationalism, p. 118)
And they [the Jewish teachers of the Khazars] said once more, “if we accept that He [the Anointed One] has already come, as you claim on the basis of the Prophets and other arguments, then how is it that the Roman Empire is still in power?” The Philosopher answered, “It is no longer in power, for it has passed, like all empires at its likeness, for our Empire is not of Rome, but Christ.” (Life of Sts. Cyril of Methodios, Chapter 10. For the Peace from Above, An Orthodox Resource on War, Peace and Nationalism p. 97)
The Tsar’s authority, having in its hands the means of restraining the movements of the people and relying on Christian principles itself, does not allow the people to fall away from them, but will restrain it. And since the main work of the Antichrist will be to turn everyone away from Christ, he will not appear as long as the Tsar is in power. The latter’s authority will not let him show himself, but will prevent him from acting in his own spirit. That is what “he that restraineth” is [2 Thes. 2:7]. When the Tsar’s authority falls, and the peoples everywhere acquire self-government (republics, democracies), then the Antichrist will have room to maneuver. It will not be difficult for Satan to train voices urging apostasy from Christ, as experience showed in the time of the French Revolution. Nobody will give a powerful ‘veto’ to this. A humble declaration of faith will not be tolerated. And so, when these arrangements have been made everywhere, arrangements which are favourable to the exposure of antichristian aims, then the Antichrist will also appear. Until that time he waits, and is restrained. (V. Moss, An Essay in Universal History – Part 4: The Age of Empire [1861-1914], p. 134)
If anyone breaks my rule, whether he be my son or a servant, or anyone of my race or one of the boyars, and interferes in the ecclesiastical affairs of the Metropolitan, which I gave into the hands of the Metropolitan, and of the Church, and of the bishops in all the cities in accordance with the Canons, he will be judged and punished. If anyone tries to seize the judgment of the Church, he will be deprived of the name of Christian, and may all such be cursed by the Holy Fathers. (quoted V. Moss, “Church and State in Kievan Rus’. excerpted from Archbishop Seraphim (Sobolev), Russkaia Ideologia (The Russian Ideology), St. Petersburg, 1992, pp. 83-84)
Patriarch Theodore Balsamon ca. 12th
If a rural priest might perform a benediction of a third marriage, while knowing that it was a third marriage, may he be punished, or as a peasant shall he be deemed worthy of pardon?
The one ignorant of the fact, whoever he may be, is worthy of pardon in accordance with the laws. The one who is ignorant of the law is not pardoned. Since by the new legislation of the celebrated emperor Lord Konstantinos Porphyrogennetos, the third marriage is sometimes permitted, and sometimes not permitted (for those who have children from the first or second marriage, and those who exceed forty years of age, are not able to contract a third union), we say that the priest who had performed a benediction of such an impeded third marriage is to be defrocked, because he was ignorant of the law’s main points. However, peasants, who are ignorant of the law’s fine points, are pardoned sometimes, since legal matters are not clear to all men. (Canonical Questions of the Most Holy Patriarch of Alexandria, Lord Markos, and the Answers for them by the Most Holy Patriarch of Antioch, Lord Theodoros Balsamon. excerpted from Viscuso, “A Guide to the Church Under Islam” p. 133)
Hieromonk Matthew Blastares ca. 14th century
Basil the Great in his fourth canon states, “We hold the custom of five years’ excommunication for trigamists when the marriage is clearly not dissolved. However, we no longer call such an affair marriage, but polygamy, or rather fornication that has been tempered, i.e., not dissolved, but reduced; limited to one woman. Wherefore, the Lord also said to the Samaritan woman, who had five husbands in turn, “He whom you have now is not your husband,” because they that go beyond the limit of digamy are no longer worthy to be called by the name of husband or wife.” However, he states that “it is not altogether necessary to bar them from the Church, but only for their punishment to be spent in the places of the hearers and of those that stand, not however, in that of the weepers.”
But also, again in canon fifty, he states, “There is clearly no ecclesiastical law of third marriage. Nevertheless, we view such things as defilements of the Church. However, we do not submit them to public condemnations because they are more preferable than unrestrained fornication.” Thus, we do not condemn the practice so as to also dissolve them, but according to the Tomos of Union which will be discussed shortly, by its decisions and command, we accept these marriages.
Gregory the Great, who is surnamed the Theologian, stated, “The first marriage is legal, the second is a concession, the third is a transgression of law, and one beyond this, the life of a swine, which does not have many examples of its evil.” (Homily 37.8)
Concerning the Tomos of Union
At this time, three marriages were recognized by ancient laws. Emperor Leo the Wise, who entered into a fourth marriage, was subjected to anathema by Patriarch Nicholas [I Mystikos], who required the emperor to quit himself of this union. Because the patriarch was absolutely inflexible, the emperor expelled Nicholas from the Church, and appointed as patriarch Euthymios Synkellos, a holy man. However, Euthymios, with a majority of hierarchs, contending not only tetragamy, but also trigamy to be illegal, with all zeal hindered the emperor who wished to decree that marriage be extended as far as the fourth for those who so desired. On account of this, a schism arose in the Church, which also sustained the dispute over the throne between Leo VI’s son Constantine Porphryogennetos and the latter’s father-in-law Romanos. At this time, in the year 6428 [920 AD], the so-called Tomos of Union was brought forth, which determined when it is fitting to concede a third marriage for some, excellently places reins on shameless desires of the passions, and it is annually read during July on the ambon. Thus, it states the following toward the end:
“Men who have reached forty years of age, and who cast themselves into a third marriage, inasmuch as they are defilements of the Church, we rule that they are to be excommunicated for five years, and after this expires, they are to approach for Communion once a year, on the venerable day of saving Pascha, after purifying themselves as much as possible by the fast for Pascha. The priest who dares, contrary to the decision, to deem some of these worthy of Holy Communion, will be risking his own rank. We command these things when there are no children from previous marriages. But if in fact there are children, the third marriage will be forbidden. But if a man is thirty and has received a succession of offspring from previous marriages, and nevertheless now joins himself to a third woman on account of the licentiousness of fleshly desire, let him be excommunicated for four years. Afterward, let him partake of Communion three times a year: on the Resurrection Day of Pascha, the Dormition of the undefiled Theotokos, and the feast day of the Lord’s Nativity because the fasts before these days are believed to purify most of the stain absorbed by him. However, if he is childless, this man is worthy of pardon if he chooses a third marriage on account of a desire to procreate children; and, excluded from Communion for three years, he should be treated with customary penalty.” (An Alphabetical Collection of All Subjects That are Contained in the Sacred and Divine Canons, prepared and at the same time organized by Matthew, the least among Hieromonks. excerpted from Viscuso, “Sexuality, Marriage, and Celibacy in Byzantine Law” pp. 97-99)
In the case of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, it is obvious that the power of its incumbent is always defined in reference to his position in the Christian oikouméne, the universal empire and the universal church indivisibly united. The title of ‘Ecumenical Patriarch’ has no other meaning. Of course the empire of Justinian, of Basil II and of John V Palaeologus hardly represented the same political reality, and the relationships between the patriarch and the powerful emperors of the past were different from those that prevailed during the Palaeologan period. However, the principles and ideals of the oikouméne had remained the same, with the patriarchate now carrying a much heavier responsibility for their preservation than it ever had in the past, precisely because the emperors were now politically much too weak to play their former role in the Christian world. Of course, the patriarch in the fourteenth century, was not invested with the externals signs of imperial power (which the Roman popes had assumed already in the early Middle Ages and which were also to be adopted by the patriarchs of Constantinople after the capture of the city by the Turks), but was gradually and de facto taking up the position of main spokesman for the Orthodox ‘family of nations’.
…[W]hereas [Patriarch Athanasius I] accepted the Byzantine political ideology of the empire and expressed the greatest respect for the ‘divine majesty’ of Andronicus II, acknowledging his traditional power in the field of Church administration, Athanasius also demanded from the emperor a strict adherence to the faith and ethics of Orthodoxy, and obedience to the Church. Upon returning to the patriarchate in September 1303, he had Andronicus sign a promise ‘not only to keep the Church fully independent and free, but also to practice towards Her a servant’s obedience, and to submit to Her every just and God-pleasing demand’.
…Quite naturally, the ideals of Patriarch Athanasius would serve as inspiration to the monks who, after 1347, came, like him, to occupy the Patriarchate… the power and authority of the Ecumenical Patriarchate was re-emphasized anew, especially in terms of its concern for the ‘universal’ Church.
…[O]fficial documents described the role of the Church of Constantinople in terms of ‘universal solicitude’. A document issued in 1355 by Patriarch Callistus is particularly revealing. It is addressed to the group of hesychast monks in Bulgaria — including St. Theodosius of Trnovo — who apparently were advocates of Constantinopolitan centralism. They were, together with Callistus himself, fellow disciples of St. Gregory of Sinai on Mount Athos. In this document, Callistus sternly criticizes the Bulgarian Patriarch of Trnovo for failing to mention the Ecumenical Patriarch, as his superior. The Patriarch of Constantinople, according to Callistus, ‘judges in appeal, straightens out, confirms and authenticates’ the judgments of the other three ancient Patriarchs: Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. How much more, he asks, he must also be recognized as lord (kyrios) of the Church of Bulgaria, whose primate, according to Callistus, has received the title of ‘Patriarch’ in only an honorific sense, but is not essentially different from one of the metropolitans, subjected to Constantinople… This restrictive view was hardly shared by the Patriarch of Trnovo himself who, in 1352, had even consecrated a Metropolitan of Kiev without referring to Constantinople.
This trend toward reaffirmation of Constantinople’s primacy is also apparent in patriarchal documents relative to Russia. In 1354, the synodal act of Patriarch Philotheos appointing Bishop Alexis as Metropolitan of Kiev and all Russia proclaimed: ‘The holy, catholic and apostolic Church of God [i.e. of Constantinople], which administers always all things for the better, according to the unfailing privilege and power granted to it from on high, by the grace of Christ, manifests its concern and solicitude over all the most holy churches wherever they are found, so that they may be governed and directed for the good and in accordance with the Lord’s law. In 1370, addressing Grand-prince Dimitri of Moscow, Philotheos calls himself bluntly the ‘common father, established by the Most-High God, of all the Christians found everywhere on earth’. In another letter, written in the same year to the princes of Russia, urging them to submit themselves to their Metropolitan Alexis, Philotheos expresses the theory of ‘universal solicitude’ in a way, practically indistinguishable from the most authoritarian pronouncements of the Roman Popes:
“Since God has appointed Our Humility as leader of Christians found anywhere in the inhabited earth, as solicitor and guardian of their souls, all of them depend on me, the father and teacher of them all. If that were possible, therefore, it would have been my duty to walk everywhere on earth by the cities and the countries and to teach there the Word of God. I would have to do so unfailingly, since this is my duty. However, since it is beyond the possibility of one weak and mightless man to walk around the entire inhabited earth, Our Humility chooses the best among men, the most eminent in virtue, establishes and ordains them as pastors, teachers and high-priests, and sends them to the ends of the universe. One of them goes to your great country, to the multitudes which inhabit it, another reaches other areas of the earth, and still another goes elsewhere, sos that each one, in the country and place which was appointed for him, enjoys territorial rights, an episcopal chair and the rights of Our Humility.”
In 1393, Patriarch Anthony (1389-90, 1391-7) not only reaffirms, in a letter to Novgorod, his leadership of ‘all the Christians in the universe’, but also, in his letter to the Muscovite Grand-prince Basil I, indignantly reproaches Basil for having forgotten that ‘the Patriarch is the vicar of Christ and sits on the very throne of the Master’.
There is no doubt that the definition of the Patriarch as ‘vicar’ of Christ is directly inspired by the Epanagoge, the well-known legal compendium of the Macedonian period, describing the functions of the Byzantine oikouméne and defining the role of the ‘Ecumenical Patriarch’ not in terms of his sacramental functions, but rather in his political and social responsibilities: the author (possibly Photius) wants to affirm the role of patriarch as ‘a living image of Christ’ in society, without according that particular religious function to the emperor. Verbal dependence upon the Epanagoge also appears in the text of Philotheos quoted above as it appears in the definition of the functions of the patriarch in the Epanagoge:
“The throne of Constantinople, receiving its honor from the empire, was given primacy through synodal decrees… The responsibility and care for all the metropolitanates and dioceses, the monasteries and churches, and also judgment and sanction, depend upon the patriarch of the area. But the incumbent of the See of Constantinople can… rule on issues arising in other thrones and pass final judgment on those.”
We have seen above that the canonical tradition and ecclesiology of the Byzantine Church are incompatible with the formal literal meaning of the letter of Philotheos, which represents the Patriarch as a ‘universal’ bishop with the local metropolitans acting only as his representatives. The language used by the patriarchal chancery in drafting documents addressed to Russia must have been chosen for ad hoc reasons with the aim of impressing the still relatively unsophisticated Slavs with the importance of Byzantium as centre of the Christian world, even at the expense of strict canonical consistency… It is important to note, however, that the source of this rhetoric is to be found in civil law, representing Byzantine political ideology, and not theological and canonical literature per se. (Byzantium and the Rise of Russia, pp. 112-115)
Monasticism is something ‘other,’ a kind of ‘anti-city,’ anti-polis, for it is basically ‘another’ city… Christian history unfolds in an antithesis between the Empire and the Desert [but] monasticism succeeded, much more than the Empire ever did, to preserve the true ideal of culture in its purity and freedom. In any case, spiritual creativity was richly nourished from the depths of the spiritual life. (Christianity and Civilization)
The first traces of the famous “Third Rome Theory” are sketched out precisely in…perspectives of apocalyptical unrest. The theory is intrinsically an eschatological one, and the monk Filofei sustains its eschatological tones and categories. “For two Romes have fallen, a third stands, and a fourth there cannot be.” The pattern is a familiar one taken from Byzantine apocalyptical literature: it is the translatio imperii, or more accurately, the image of the wandering Kingdom — the Kingdom or city wandering or straying until the hour comes for it to flee into the desert.
…For a “Josephite”, the “Third Rome” meant that great and newly constructed Christian kingdom of Muscovy. By contrast, for Maxim, [St. Maxim the Greek] the “Third Rome” signified a City wandering in the wilderness.
“Journeying along a wild road filled with many dangers, I came upon a woman kneeling with her regal head held in her hands, moaning bitterly and weeping inconsolably. She was dressed entirely in black, as is the custom for widows. Around her were wild animals: lions, bears, wolves, and foxes… ‘Basileia [Empire] is my name…’ ‘Why do you sit alongside this road surrounded as it is by wild animals?’ And again she answered me: “O traveler, let this road be the last one in an accursed age.’ ” (The Ways of Russian Theology)
EMPERORS GRATIAN, VALENTINIAN AND THEODOSIUS AUGUSTI. EDICT TO THE PEOPLE OF CONSTANTINOPLE.
It is our desire that all the various nations which are subject to our Clemency and Moderation, should continue to profess that religion which was delivered to the Romans by the divine Apostle Peter, as it has been preserved by faithful Tradition, and which is now professed by the Pontiff Damasus and by Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic holiness. According to the apostolic teaching and the doctrine of the Gospel, let us believe in the one Deity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, in equal majesty and in a Holy Trinity. We authorize the followers of this law to assume the title of Catholic Christians; but as for the others, since, in our judgment they are foolish madmen, we decree that they shall be branded with the ignominious name of heretics, and shall not presume to give to their conventicles the name of churches. They will suffer in the first place the chastisement of the divine condemnation and in the second the punishment of our authority which in accordance with the will of Heaven we shall decide to inflict.
GIVEN IN THESSALONICA ON THE THIRD DAY FROM THE CALENDS OF MARCH, DURING THE FIFTH CONSULATE OF GRATIAN AUGUSTUS AND FIRST OF THEODOSIUS AUGUSTUS (Codex Theodosianus, xvi.1.2)
Why was Tsar Nicholas II persecuted, slandered, and killed? Because he was Tsar, Tsar by the Grace of God. He was the bearer and incarnation of the Orthodox world-view that the Tsar is the servant of God, the Anointed of God, and that to Him he must give an account for the people entrusted to him by destiny, for all his deeds and actions, not only those done personally, but also as Tsar.
(continues on inside back cover): … he was the bearer of the consciousness that the Supreme authority should be obedient to God, should receive sanctification and strength from Him to follow God’s commandments. He was a living incarnation of faith in the Divine Providence that works in the destinies of nations and peoples and directs Rulers faithful to God into good and useful actions. Therefore he was intolerable for the enemies of faith and for those who strive to place human reason and human faculties above everything …
Tsar Nicholas II was a servant of God by his inner world-outlook, by conviction, by his actions; and he was thus in the eyes of the whole Orthodox Russian people. The battle against him was closely bound up with the battle against God and faith. In a word, he became a Martyr, having remained faithful to the Ruler of those who rule, and accepted death in the same way as the martyrs accepted it.
“Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II,” Orthodox Word vol. 4, no. 4 (21), July-Aug. 1968, p. 137
In St. Gregory the Theologian’s funeral oration for St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory describes the legacy of St. Basil’s philanthropic endeavors in this way: “Go forth a little way from the city, and behold the New City, the storehouse of piety, the common treasury of the wealthy … where disease is regarded in a religious light, and disaster is thought a blessing, and sympathy is put to the test.”
St. Gregory is referring to the Basiliad, the great philanthropic foundation established by St. Basil where the poor, the diseased, orphans and the aged could receive food, shelter, and medical care free of charge from monks and nuns who lived out their monastic vocation through a life of service, working with physicians and other lay people. The New City was in many ways the culmination of St. Basil’s social vision, the fruit of a lifetime of effort to develop a more just and humane social order within the region of Caesarea, where he grew up and later served as a priest and a bishop.
The story of Basil’s life centers around two profound shifts. The first, a spiritual awakening so decisive as to be called a conversion, occurred shortly after he completed his studies at the great university at Athens. As a result of this experience, Basil chose to be baptized, a decision that in his day was often postponed until late in life. He then sold his inheritance, distributed the funds to the poor, and embarked upon a journey to see the monastic communities that were flourishing throughout Palestine, Syria, and Egypt.
Igumen Phillip Ryabykh, the Moscow Patriarchate representative at the European Union, offers a fascinating look at the Orthodox Church and society in this interview with the editor of Road to Emmaus Orthodox magazine. The first of this two-part series traces historical Orthodox Byzantine and Russian interactions with the state, while the second will focus on Church-State relations in contemporary Russia. Fr. Phillip is a graduate of Moscow State University of International Relations and the Moscow Theological Academy of St. Sergius Lavra.
—Today, our topic is how the Church and society have interacted historically, and the contemporary relationship between the Russian state and the Russian Orthodox Church.To begin, can you tell us what percentage of the Russian population is baptized Orthodox, and of that number, how many are regular church- goers?
—We don’t have exact figures of the number of baptized people in Russia, but we do have several reliable surveys and polls that estimate from 60 to 80% identify themselves as Orthodox. The differences in these percentages are the result of answers to several questions. If the first question is simply, “Do you believe in God?,” over 90% of those asked will answer affirmatively. When they are then asked, “Are you Orthodox Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, or something else?” usually about 80% of those who believe say that they are Orthodox. If they are asked, “How often do you go to church?” answers vary from “I never go to church” to “I go to church once a week or more,” which could be about 70% of those who call themselves Orthodox. The number of people who regularly try to fulfill the prescriptions of the Orthodox Church for a healthy spiritual life is about 10%.
“Magadan, September 2 (Interfax) – Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia consecrated the biggest in the Far East Orthodox church – Trinity Cathedral in Magadan.
“Kolyma is the Russian Calvary and perhaps those who tormented people on this earth, pronounced terrible words during transporting convicts “step to the right, step to the left – shooting without warning,” couldn’t imagine that a grand cathedral will be erected here,” the Patriarch said after the prayer.
He called the cathedral “a great sign showing that God’s truth is alive and none even most powerful human forces can destroy this truth” and called it a symbol of victory over evil, “faith in Christ, as for confessing Him many people were exiled here to Kolyma to become martyrs.”
Patriarch Kirill said that his father on the eve of his wedding was arrested only for chanting in amateur choir in one of St. Petersburg churches though he worked in secular job and was getting higher education.
|“And now we are terrified to see that we lack the most necessary things – good roads, high quality cars, durable houses. Where are those innumerable goods and resources? They vanished. Why? Because we built the life of our nation, our society and state without God and opposing God,” he stressed. This reminds me of… “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.” – Psalm 126:1|
According to him, today there appear people, including those coming to politics, who say that “we need to return to that past – life without God.”
“We answer to all these people: come to Kolyma and you’ll see what means to build life without God and, moreover, on bones of those who confessed their faith in God,” the Patriarch said.
Kolyma is the land of Stalin’s notorious prison camps.
The service lasted several hours, followed by the presentation of Russian Orthodox Church orders to regional officials and to the cathedral’s architects.
Reports had said that the cathedral’s construction started about ten years ago. Close to 900 million rubles (around 31 million dollars) have been spent on its construction since then. This money has been provided by the regional government and private donors.”
H/T to Byzantine Texas
“State, society, culture, nature itself, are real objects of mission and not a neutral milieu in which the only task of the Church is to preserve its own inner freedom, to maintain its religious life.”
~ Fr. Alexander Schmemann, The Missionary Imperative in the Orthodox Tradition
There are some very serious disconnects between the Church and the culture in our modern times. In fact, there seems to be mass confusion just as to what the Gospel does to us as ‘mere mortals’ and how these mortal bodies become victorious bodies while on earth. How do we know that we are living out a life of worship, that our ceremony is affecting our lives and that our lives are affecting others to further the Kingdom? What does this look like when it begins to happen?
From the early Church’s conviction of sharing their property and “having all things in common,” as we see in Acts Chapter Two, to our modern struggles of regaining this sense of unity in a very confused society, the goal of this article will be to attempt to sort out the rubble and bring light to this subject of Christian purpose.
WHILE READING about things totally unrelated to the counterjihad movement, I have occasionally come across some interesting historical facts about Islam. I was surprised to discover that Islam had a hand in many important historical events I already knew about without ever knowing Islam had anything to do with them. Here are a few of the most interesting:
1. The creation of the U.S. Marine Corps was initiated in response to Islamic warriors. The Barbary Coast pirates were following in Mohammad’s footsteps, raiding caravans (in this case, oceangoing ships), taking slaves, capturing people to hold for ransom, and demanding “protection money” from any kafirs who didn’t want to be raided. This had been going on for centuries along the North African Mediterranean coastline.
Any ships that wanted to do business in the Mediterranean were at risk. Many European countries did the easy thing and paid the protection money to the Muslims to avoid being raided, which, of course, helped fund their operations against anyone who wasn’t paying. The U.S. did not have enough military resources to protect its ships, so it paid the protection money too. This bothered Thomas Jefferson. Before he was president, when he was an ambassador to France, Jefferson had a chance to meet with an ambassador from Tripoli, and he asked why Tripoli did this. The Muslim explained it was written in the Koran.
So Thomas Jefferson did something every leader of the free world should do: He bought himself a Koran and read it. Then when he became president, he knew what he needed to do: He formed the United States Navy, created the Marine Corps, and sent them to the shores of Tripoli, where they soundly defeated the Muslim warriors.
This was the first foreign war fought by the United States. America’s victory was the beginning of the end of the “Barbary Coast Pirates.” The military aggressiveness of Islamic countries remained contained and weakened for over a century.
2. The New World was discovered because of Islam. Christopher Columbus was looking for a new trade route to the East. But why was he looking for a trade route?
During the Second Jihad, Islam invaded Central Asia and defeated Constantinople in 1453, cutting off the overland route for Europeans. Islamic armies continued their jihad northward, and conquered much of what is now Eastern Europe, until they were finally stopped at the gates of Vienna in 1683. Read more: The Second Major Wave of Jihad: the Turks, 1071-1683.
Europe had been trading with the Far East for centuries, and their old overland route now went through territory that was hostile and dangerous to anybody but Muslims. The economy of Europe was threatened.
So, in 1492, the year Islam was finally defeated in Spain, ending Islam’s 780-year occupation, Columbus set off to find a passage to the Far East by boldly sailing West into the unknown. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
3. The .45 caliber 1911 semiautomatic pistol was created to stop Islamic warriors. From 1902 until 1913, the United States fought a war with the “Moro Warriors” in the Philippines. These Islamic warriors were named “Moros” by the Spanish. Their unstoppability was legendary. “In one instance,” writes Robert Boatman, “a Moro warrior received 14 bullet wounds in five minutes, three of which penetrated his brain, and yet he fought on.”
At the time the army was using .38 caliber guns, which were unable to stop the Moros, so in 1906, they began testing different guns to find something better. In 1911, they chose the .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol. It had enough stopping power to kill even a Moro warrior with one shot.
4. The Great Pyramid of Giza looks unfinished because of Muslims. The pyramid was once covered by a smooth, beautifully polished layer of white stone. This outer layer was removed by Muslims, who used the white stone for mosques and palaces, leaving the ancient pyramids with their somewhat unfinished appearance.
The physicist, John Zajac, wrote: “This protective covering was made up of…hard, white limestone, similar to marble but superior in hardness and in durability against the elements…The casing stones, 144,000 in all, were so brilliant that they could literally be seen from the mountains of Israel hundreds of miles away…The people of the area had viewed the pyramid and its polished stones with awe for centuries. But when a 13th century earthquake loosened some of these casing stones, the Arabs recognized a great quarry of precut stones that could be used to finish off palaces and mosques. For instance, the casing stones were used to rebuild the new city of El Kaherah plus Cairo mosques and palaces, including the Mosque of Sultan Hasan.”
Historically, this is Islamic standard operating procedure. Wherever Islam established itself throughout the world, it destroyed or defaced monuments that represented the previous (conquered) culture and replaced it with Islamic structures and mosques. Afghanistan used to be Buddhist. Turkey used to be Christian. Pakistan used to be Hindu. The former cultures and any symbols of them were annihilated and replaced by Islam.
5. The Crusades were a limp, late, defensive response to four hundred years of Islamic war against what was then largely Christian lands (the Middle East, Northern Africa, and Europe). Four of the five main centers of Christianity, including the Byzantium and Constantiople, were eventually conquered by the Islamic warriors’ relentless conquests, and the countries were forcibly converted into Islamic states. But before the Crusades, Byzantium was still fighting to defend itself, and repeatedly appealed to Rome for help.
The different nations of Europe were largely competitors with each other. They were not a united force — far from it — but the Pope thought he could unify Europeans if he made it a matter of “defending Christians,” so that’s how he made his appeal. It helped unite Europeans against a common threat, and it may have saved Europe from the forcible Islamization suffered by the nations of the Middle East, part of India, and North Africa. Read more: What About the Crusades?
Here’s another interesting historical tidbit about Islam’s influence: The defense of Europe during the Crusades was devastatingly expensive, and the Church of Rome tried many ways to raise funds. Some of these fundraising efforts were deeply offensive to Martin Luther, so he intitiated the Protestant Reformation.
Islam has had a profound impact on important historical events throughout its history, and it is still being felt today.