The Shade of Swords: Jihad and the Conflict between Islam and Christianity

By M. J. Akbar | Go to book overview

8

JIHAD IN THE EAST: A CRESCENT OVER DELHI

‘You walk on the water!’ they said to the Sufi Abu Yazid al Bestami.

‘So does a piece of wood,’ Abu Yazid replied.

‘You fly in the air!’

‘So does a bird.’

‘You travel to the Kaaba in a single night!’

‘Any conjurer travels from India to Demavand in a single night.’

‘Then what is the proper task of true men?’ they asked.

‘The true man attaches his heart to none but God,’ he replied.

[From Muslim Saints and Mystics by Farid al Din Attar]

The last sigh of the Moor was not the last sigh of the Muslim. Spain settled her scores with the Arabs, and was content to protect what she had recovered, with brutality if necessary. The Inquisition removed all Muslims and Jews from the Catholic empire; those who stayed, converted. No option was offered. Spain’s Jews found shelter in the Ottoman empire, and lived in comparative peace under the Caliph. Muslims resettled across the Atlantic in north Africa, but nostalgia was their only consolation, for Muslim Africa did not have the energy for another conflict with Europe.

There was however another continent on which the next phase of wars between the nations of Islam and those of Christian Europe would take place, Asia, and in particular the Indian subcontinent and the Indian ocean. Muslim power swept into the heart of India at the beginning of the second millennium. Christian nations began to challenge it halfway through that millennium. The language remained that of a holy war.

On sea, the Portuguese, in caravels and naus, with the authority of the Pope, launched a crusade against Moors, even as they picked up (or looted)

-99-

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The Shade of Swords: Jihad and the Conflict between Islam and Christianity
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Preface xiii
  • Introduction xv
  • 1 - Chapter and Verse 1
  • 2 - The Joys of Death: a Bargain with Allah 12
  • 3 - Rebellions in the Dark of the Night 26
  • 4 - A Map of Islam 40
  • 5 - Circle of Hell 52
  • 6 - Allah! Muhammad! Saladin! 67
  • 7 - The Doors of Europe 83
  • 8 - Jihad in the East: a Crescent Over Delhi 99
  • 9 - The Holy Sea: Pepper and Power 113
  • 10 - The Bargain Goes Sour 131
  • 11 - The Wedge and the Gate 145
  • 12 - History as Anger, Jihad as Non-Violence 160
  • 13 - Islam in Danger Zone 177
  • 14 - Jinnah Redux and the Age of Osama 189
  • Glossary 214
  • A Suggested Reading List 218
  • Thumbnail Sketches 228
  • Index 251
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