Jihad Against the Cross
Stand for Israel | June 10, 2019
Anti-Semitism is not the only hatred being spread across the globe by practitioners of radical Islam — persecution of Christians has risen, as well. Writing at the Middle East Forum, Raymond Ibrahim says that such Islamist hostility against Christians is an unwavering phenomenon that crosses continents and centuries:
For starters, not only is the cross the quintessential symbol of Christianity—for all denominations, including most forms of otherwise iconoclastic Protestantism—but it symbolizes the fundamental disagreement between Christians and Muslims. As Professor Sidney Griffith explains, “The cross and the icons publicly declared those very points of Christian faith which the Koran, in the Muslim view, explicitly denied: that Christ was the Son of God and that he died on the cross.” Accordingly, “the Christian practice of venerating the cross … often aroused the disdain of Muslims,” so that from the start of the Muslim conquests of Christian lands there was an ongoing “campaign to erase the public symbols of Christianity, especially the previously ubiquitous sign of the cross.”
This “campaign” traces back to the Muslim prophet Muhammad. He reportedly “had such a repugnance to the form of the cross that he broke everything brought into his house with its figure upon it,” wrote one historian (Sword and Scimitar, p. 10). Muhammad also claimed that at the end times Jesus (the Muslim ‘Isa) himself would make it a point to “break the cross.”
Modern day Muslim clerics confirm this. When asked about Islam’s ruling on whether any person—in this case, Christians—is permitted to wear or pray before the cross, Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Tarifi, a Saudi expert on Islamic law, said, “Under no circumstances is a human permitted to wear the cross” nor “is anyone permitted to pray to the cross.” Why? “Because the prophet—peace and blessings on him—commanded the breaking of it [the cross].”
Islamic history is a reflection of these sentiments. For instance, the aforementioned Sheikh al-Tarifi also explained that if it is too difficult to break the cross—for instance, a large concrete statue—Muslims should at least try to disfigure one of its four arms “so that it no longer resembles a cross.” Historic and numismatic evidence confirms that, after the Umayyad caliphate seized the Byzantine treasury in the late seventh century, it ordered that one or two arms of the cross on the coins be effaced so that the image no longer resembled a crucifix (Sword and Scimitar, p. 54).
Testimonies from the very earliest invasions into Christian Syria and Egypt of Muslims systematically breaking every crucifix they encountered abound. According to Anastasius of Sinai, who lived during the seventh century Arab conquests, “the demons name the Saracens [Arabs/Muslims] as their companions. And it is with reason. The latter are perhaps even worse than the demons,” for whereas “the demons are frequently much afraid of the mysteries of Christ,” among which he mentions the cross, “these demons of flesh trample all that under their feet, mock it, set fire to it, destroy it…”