Memorial Day is a holiday set aside for Americans to honor our servicemen past and present and to remember, if even for a moment, those who gave what Lincoln called that “last full measure of devotion.” But this weekend also reminds us of another war, one far older than the United States, and yet hasn’t ended.
Some people call our current struggle with jihadist Islam “The Long War,” meaning that this fight is expected to go on for years, if not generations.
But it’s a long war in another sense, too, because we of the West been fighting it, through periods active and quiet, since Muhammad first declared as Allah’s command:
Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. (Qur’an 9:29)
This weekend marks an anniversary in that nearly 1400-years long struggle, the Fall of Constantinople and the end of the last remnant of the Roman Empire:
“Siege of Constantinople,”Jean Chartier c.1475
From Constantinople, the Turks, who had taken the Arabs’ place as leaders of the jihad, would march on into Central Europe, conquering the Balkans and twice besieging magnificent Vienna. This last great surge was stopped at the gates of the city in 1683; after that, Islam went into a long period of quiet that gradually ended in the final decades of the 20th century, until the jihad resumed amidst fire and terror on September 11th, 2001. Where once stood Franks and Greeks and Austrians and Poles and Spaniards and Italians, now there stands… us.
Is there a grand lesson in all this? I don’t know. What I do know, however, is that people who think this “long war” will end quickly and easily are only fooling themselves. As long as there remains in Islam a compulsion to fight everyone else until they submit, this war will go on:
And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is all for Allah. But if they cease, then lo! Allah is Seer of what they do. (Qur’an 8:39)
Memorial Day commemorates Americans who died in the war for human liberty. Islam’s never-ending jihad against everyone else —a war against that very same liberty— reminds us that struggle is eternal.