From a previous column:
I do not want to hear any more about Islam being a “religion of peace.” It is not, nor has it ever been. In addition to engaging in aggressive wars that conquered reasonable chunks of the Middle East, Africa, India and Europe, Islam has a long history of internal violence dating back almost to its inception.
The second Caliph to succeed Muhammad, Umar ibn al-Khattab, was assassinated, as was the third Caliph, Uthman ibn Affan, as was the fourth Caliph, Ali ibn Abi Talib.
This history of violence was not inconsequential. The fifth Caliph and founder of the Ummayad dynasty, Muawiyyah, managed to survive long enough to pass the holy mantle of leadership to his son Yazid, who, when faced with a challenge to his rule by Muhammed’s grandson, Husain, did not hesitate to massacre Husain and all his followers, including Husain’s infant son.
The murders of Ali and Husain were the first great grievances of the Shiah i-Ali, better known to us in the West as the Shiite Muslims. And many centuries of similar “pacifism” followed, hence the Abbasid, Fatimid, Seljuk, Safavid, Moghul and Ottoman Empires.
I think it’s also worth pointing out that the first two Abbasid Caliphs, Abul-‘Abbaas ‘Abdullah bin Muhammad al-Saffaah (750 AD) and Abu Ja’far ‘Abdullah bin Muhammad al-Mansoor (754) bore surnames “the bloodshedder” and “the victorious”. Strange titles for the leaders of such a famously peaceful religion.