Jihad as a misunderstanding

I’m finishing up writing a book on Islam and science. While working on it, I collected an awful lot of stuff that I can’t use. This quotation, for example, discussing the early conquests of the Islamic Empire:

Now they had, by the order of God, to make Islam known to the outside world, but there was no telecommunication system or press or any other mass medium of communication. There was only one course to take, namely, personal and direct contacts, which meant that they had to cross the borders. But they could not do that in small or unarmed groups. So they had to move in large protected groups which must have appeared like an army, but was not an army in the real sense. [Hammudah Abdalati, Islam in Focus (Riyadh: World Assembly of Muslim Youth, n.d.)]

All that business that looked like holy war and conquest in the early centuries — just a misunderstanding, see?

I guess that’s one way to maintain the myth that the conquered peoples uniformly “chose Islam.” On the other hand, at least Abdalati is embarrassed by the notion of jihad and conquest, which isn’t a bad thing…

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