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)
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)
There are three ages in the history of the Church: the Golden Age, when the Church was opposed to political governments; the Iron Age, when she was politically directing Europe’s kingdoms; and the Stone Age, when she has been subdued to the service of political governments. What a humiliation for the present generation to live in the Stone Age of Christianity!
Trying to unite Church and State we are trying to unite what God separated from the beginning of our era. To separate the Church from the State does not mean, as many think, to separate soul from body; it means to separate two quite opposed spirits unakin and hostile to each other, like Cross and Capitol.
The worm of comfort and human inertia has reconciled Christianity with secular, pagan governments, and so paralyzed the most divine movement in human history… Christianity is neither monarchical nor republican. It does not care about institutions but about the spirit living in them. That institution is the best which is fullest of the Christian spirit. From this point of view, an autocracy may be better than a republic, and vice versa. (The Works of Rev. Nicholai Velimirovic D.D., “The Agony of the Church”.)
“The greatest gifts which God in His heavenly clemency bestows upon men are the priesthood and the Imperial authority. The former ministers to Divine things, the later presides and watches over human affairs; both proceed from one and the same source and together they are the ornaments of human life. Therefore nothing is so close to the hearts of Emperors as the moral well being of the priesthood since priests have the task of perpetual prayer to God on behalf of Emperors themselves. For if the priesthood is in all matters free from vice and filled with faith in God, and if the Imperial authority with justice and efficiency sets in order the commonwealth committed to its charge, there shall be an ideal harmony to provide whatever is useful for the human race. We therefore have the greatest anxiety for the true doctrines of God and for the moral well being of the priesthood by which, if it is preserved, we believe that the greatest gifts will be given to us by God and we shall preserve undisturbed those things which we have and in addition acquire benefits which are at present lacking to us. But all things are done rightly and efficiently if a beginning is made which is fitting and agreeable to God. We believe that this will come about if there is due care for the observance of the holy canons, which the justly praised Apostles and venerated eyewitnesses and servants of the word of God handed down and which the holy Fathers preserved and interpreted.”
When Russia was in her days of prosperity, she gave every support to her Orthodox brethren who were in worse circumstances, especially to those who had been subjugated by non-Orthodox rulers. It was not only the Government that directed all its efforts to this end, but the whole people took part in it as well. Prayers for them were offered both in churches and in homes. All the evening prayers, as printed in the complete prayer books, ended with the petition: “Cast down the blaspheming kingdom of the Hagarenes and subject it to Orthodox kings; confirm in right belief and raise up the horn of Orthodox Christians.” This was printed both in church service books and in prayer books for the people — anyone can verify it. The multitude of Russian people read this prayer daily in every corner of Russia right up to recent times. (History of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad)
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
“The Tsar was and is anointed by God. This mystery is performed by the Church during the coronation, and the Anointed of God enters the Royal Doors into the altar, goes to the altar table and receives the Holy Mysteries as does the priest, with the Body and Blood taken separately. Thus the Holy Church emphasises the great spiritual significance of the podvig (struggle) of ruling as a monarch, equalling this to the holy sacrament of the priesthood… He (the Tsar) is the sacramental image, the carrier of the special power of the Grace of the Holy Spirit.” – Bishop Nektary (Koch) of Seattle (+1983)
Archbishop Averky (Taushev) 1906-1976
Why is St. Vladimir eternally dear to us?
Because he brought us into communion with faith in Christ and gave us, Russians, the true Church of Christ.
What is this faith in Christ and the true Church and what is its significance for us?
This is clearly revealed to us in the touching prayer offered by St. Vladimir at the sacred moment when the Mystery of Baptism was performed for the Russian people, when, in words of the pious chronicler, truly heaven and earth rejoiced at such a great number being saved. “O great God, Creator of heaven and earth!” cried out our godfather and enlightener, “Look down upon this new people, and grant them, Lord, to know Thee, the true God, as the Christian countries have known Thee; and confirm them in the true and uncorrupted faith; and aid me, Lord, against the hostile enemy, so that, trusting in Thee and in Thy power, I may defeat his intrigues.”
Here everything is stated and there is an explanation of why faith in Christ and the true Church are given to us. Faith in Christ and the true Church as the repository and disseminator of that faith are given to us so that we might know the true God and, knowing Him hope in Him, and love Him. Faith in God must be “true” and “uncorrupted,” that is, not just any sort of faith thought up by people themselves according to their own taste, but correct, or orthodox, as that true Christian faith, pure and uncorrupted, undistorted by human sophistry, preached by the holy Apostles and preserved without change by the true Church, has always been called. The criterion for this faith is this” “That is true which has been believed everywhere, at all times, by all people” (St. Vincent of Lerins). And that faith must be “uncorrupted” in us, that is, we must preserve it so steadfastly, firmly, uncompromisingly that no one will be able to seduce us or draw us away from it.
And, finally, in St. Vladidmir’s prayer there is an indication of the personal aim of this faith for each of us and, consequently, of the great significance of belonging to the true Church which preserves this faith. (Stand Fast in the Truth pg. 2)
There are two great gifts which God, in His love for man, has granted from on high: the priesthood and the imperial dignity. The first serves divine things, while the latter directs and administers human affairs; both, however, proceed from the same origin and adorn the life of mankind… If the Priesthood is in every way free from blame, and possesses access to God, and if the Emperors equitably and judiciously the state entrusted to their care, general harmony will result, and whatever is beneficial will be bestowed upon the human race. (A History of Christian Theology: an Introduction by William Carl Placher pg. 91)
The following is a sample chapter from the book Ultimate Things: An Orthodox Christian Perspective on the End Times, by D.E. Englemen. Although Orthodoxy does not have an official and dogmatic position on the later times, this book provides very useful information from the Holy Fathers and Scripture.
The Beginning of the Last Days
“Who places earthly kings on their thrones? He who alone sits on the throne of fire from eternity, and alone, in the true sense, rules over all creation. Authority, power, courage, and wisdom is given the Czar from the Lord to govern his subjects.”
—Saint John of Kronstadt
The prospect of Satan’s thousand-year bondage eventually ending, even though for a short while, has worried people since before it began. It has been an ominous cloud on the horizon which has loomed larger and blacker with each passing century. Though the event was distant for them, the Bible’s Prophets and Apostles described it in the direst terms: “That day is a day of wrath . . . a day of darkness and gloominess” (Zephaniah 1:15); “a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time” (Daniel 12:1); “in the last days perilous times will come” (2 Timothy 3:1).
The battle against Tsar Nicholas II was clearly bound up with the battle against God and faith . . . 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. Archbishop John Maximovitch.
Very soon after Russia accepted the seed of the Gospel (in the year 988) her soil was sanctified by the blood of martyrs. The pure young sons of Grand Duke Vladimir, Boris and Gleb, accepted death at the hands of a political assassin in order to save their people from civil war and terrible upheaval. They became sufferers for righteousness (I Peter 3:14); being conformed to the innocent suffering of Christ, they became true “Passion-Bearers.
As in the beginning of Holy Russia, so at the end: it pleased God to reveal Himself to the Russian people through the innocent suffering of Saints Boris and Gleb; now, in these latter times, He has again unveiled Himself through the purifying suffering of a Tsar, the Anointed of God and supreme Protector of Christ’s Church in Russia, Nicholas II.
Western writers do not understand Orthodox monarchy. And because America rebelled against the King of England; Americans in particular have no sympathy for the idea of Monarchy. Indeed, it is almost a sacred tradition to applaud any nation that “comes to its senses” and overthrows its king! The Tsars of Russia are viewed in this same man- centered rather than God-centered light.
But; in Orthodox Russia there once existed a society composed not of “church and state” (such as existed in medieval Europe) but of “government and priesthood”-a holy commonwealth. The Tsar was never placed outside the Church or “above the law,” but always within the Church and subject to the law of Christ. He was very much the “servant of the Gospel”: he was required to live by it and rule by it in order to be worthy of the blessings of God upon himself, his family, and his nation. Such a righteous Father to his people was the last Tsar, Nicholas II. And now, in this year of grace, 1981, in spite of more than 60 years of Marxist deception, it pleases God to reveal Nicholas and those that suffered with him, to the Church and to the whole world (if only the world will hear it!).
Blessed Archbishop John Maximovitch has written: “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…”
In Orthodox teaching, Tsar Nicholas was the last representative of lawful Christian authority in the world, the last one to restrain the mystery of iniquity (2 Thess. 2:27). (And, indeed, from the time of his martyrdom can be dated the unprecedented lawlessness, godlessness, and apostasy of this final age: the complete unleashing of the forces of darkness, which now threaten to completely engulf the world as a preparation for the reign of Antichrist.).
An Orthodox monarch receives his authority from God, but by what means and in what manner does it come to him? Authority to govern in the Name of God and perform the highest earthly ministry descends upon a Tsar in the Sacrament of Anointing, at the time of his coronation. After the crowning he is told that “this visible and material adornment of thy head is to thee a manifest sign that the King of Glory, Christ, invisibly crowneth thee.” The Anointing takes place after the reading of the Gospel in Divine Liturgy. The chief hierarch anoints the Tsar with Holy Chrism on the brow, eyes, nostrils, lips, ears, breast, and hands, saying each time: “The Seal of the Gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Thus, Nicholas II received his authority through a Sacrament. The Holy Spirit was upon him! “By rejecting the Tsar, the people blasphemed the Sacrament and trampled upon the grace of God” (Illustratted History of the Russian Peop1e).
In 1917 Metropolitan Macarius of Moscow saw in a vision the Saviour speaking to Tsar Nicholas: “You see,” said the Lord, “two cups in my hands: one is bitter for your people, and the other is sweet for you.” In the vision the Tsar begged for the bitter cup. The Saviour then took a large glowing coal from the cup and put it in the Tsar’s hands. The Tsar’s whole body then began to grow light, until he was shining like a radiant spirit. Then the vision changed to a field of flowers, in the middle of which Nicholas was distributing manna to a multitude of people. A voice spoke: “The Tsar has taken the guilt of the Russian people upon himself and the Russian people are forgiven.” Nicholas himself once said: “Perhaps an expiatory sacrifice is needed for Russia’s salvation. I will be that sacrifice. May God’s will be done!
He had a very strong sense of his destiny as an Orthodox ruler. Although he had an opportunity to flee the country with his family and seek refuge outside Russia, he and his Empress deliberately chose to stay and accept whatever awaited them. He had been born on the feast of the Prophet Job and because of this he often remarked to his advisors: “I have a secret conviction that I am destined for a terrible trial, that I shall not receive my reward on this earth.” No wonder that our Russian Bishops Abroad wrote (in 1968): “Job the Much-Suffering, on the day of whose commemoration the Tsar was born, said in his grievous suffering, concerning the day of his conception: ‘As for that night, let darkness seize upon it; let it not be joined unto the days of the year” (Job 3:6). Terrible was the night of the murder of the Tsar”!
On that unspeakable night, “the prisoners were all in a deep sleep when they were awakened and ordered to dress in order to leave the city… The Imperial Family descended to the basement where the Sovereign sat down, with his ill son, on a chair in the middle of the room. The Duchesses, the doctor, and three dedicated servants were seated around him. Everyone was waiting for the signal to depart. At the executioner’s announcement (which stunned all the prisoners) of the impending execution, the Empress succeeded in crossing herself. She was killed instantly, together with the Sovereign. God spared them from hearing the groans of the Tsarevitch and the cries of the wounded Grand Duchess Anastasia. The first bullets did not bring death to the youngest ones and they were savagely killed with blows of bayonets and gun-butts and with shots at point-blank range. The most innocent and holy had suffered the greatest torture”? (Illustrated Russian History).
In the words of Fr. Dimitry Dudko, one of the first of that wave of modern confessors to speak out against the betrayal of the Church in Russia: “The Tsar is a saint and, moreover, one of the greatest saints. O great saint of Russia, Great-Martyr Nicholas, pray to God for us!”
“The two greatest gifts which God in His infinite goodness has granted men are the Priesthood and the Empire. The priesthood takes care of divine interests and the empire of human interests of which is has supervision. Both powers emanate from the same principle and bring human life to its perfection. It is for this reason that emperors have nothing closer to their hearts than the honor of priests because they pray continually to God for the emperors. When the clergy shows a proper spirit and devotes itself entirely to God, and the emperor governs the state which is entrusted to him, then a harmony results which is most profitable to the human race. So it is then that the true divine teachings and the honor of the clergy are the first among our preoccupations.” Saint Justinian, Novella Six
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%.
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.
God said to my Master, “Sit here at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.” Matthew 22:44
Do you see the crescent on the cross? Do you know why it is there? I’ll tell you, it is the crescent of Islam and it is put there in some Orthodox crosses to represent Islam as the footstool of Christ (some are under the footstool). These crosses are on the tops of churches to demonstrate Christ and His Church’s dominion. If you asked me, I would say that this is bolder than burning a Qur’an.