The Historical Reality of the Muslim Conquests

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Back in 2010 I read the book “The Enemy at the Gate: Habsburgs, Ottomans, and the Battle for Europe,” and was astounded that during 16+ years of formal education I’d never been taught about this 1683 siege. Less than a hundred years before the founding of the United States, the Ottoman Muslims had been on the verge of taking Vienna. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s important enough for American kids to learn about. The following excerpt is from a post with the above title at the Middle East Forum:

Because it is now almost axiomatic for American school textbooks to whitewash all things Islamic (see here for example), it may be instructive to examine one of those aspects that are regularly distorted: the Muslim conquests.

Few events of history are so well documented and attested to as are these conquests, which commenced soon after the death of the Muslim prophet Muhammad (632) and tapered off circa 750. Large swathes of the Old World—from the India in the east, to Spain in the west—were conquered and consolidated by the sword of Islam during this time, with more after (e.g., the Ottoman conquests).

By the standards of history, the reality of these conquests is unassailable, for history proper concerns itself with primary sources; and the Islamic conquests are thoroughly documented. More importantly, the overwhelming majority of primary source materials we rely on do not come from non-Muslims, who might be accused of bias. Rather, the foremost historians bequeathing to posterity thousands of pages of source materials documenting the Islamic conquests were not only Muslims themselves; they were—and still are—regarded by today’s Muslims as pious and trustworthy scholars (generically, the ulema).

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