Islam is a Religion of PeaceThe Myth:
Muhammad was a peaceful man who taught his followers to be the same. Muslims lived peacefully for centuries, only fighting in self-defense when it was necessary. True Muslims would never act aggressively.The Truth:
Muhammad organized 65 military campaigns in the last ten years of his life and personally led 27 of them. The more power that he attained, the smaller the excuse needed to go to battle, until finally he began attacking tribes merely because they were not part of his growing empire.
After Muhammad’s death, his most faithful followers and even his own family turned on each other almost immediately. There were four Caliphs (leaders) in the first twenty-five years. Three of the four were murdered. The third Caliph was murdered by the son of the first. The fourth Caliph was murdered by the fifth, who left a 100-year dynasty that was ended in a gruesome, widespread bloodbath by descendents of Muhammad’s uncle.
Muhammad’s own daughter, Fatima, and his son-in-law, Ali, who both survived the pagan hardship during the Meccan years safe and sound, did not survive Islam after the death of Muhammad. Fatima died of stress from persecution within three months, and Ali was later assassinated. Their son (Muhammad’s grandson) was killed in battle with the faction that became today’s Sunnis. His people became Shias. The relatives and personal friends of Muhammad were mixed into both warring groups, which then fractured further into hostile sub-divisions as Islam grew.
Muhammad left his men with instructions to take the battle against the Christians, Persians, Jews and polytheists (which came to include millions of unfortunate Hindus). For the next four centuries, Muslim armies steamrolled over unsuspecting neighbors, plundering them of loot and slaves, and forcing the survivors to either convert or pay tribute at the point of a sword.
Companions of Muhammad lived to see Islam declare war on every major religion in the world in just the first few decades following his death - pressing the Jihad against Hindus, Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, and Buddhists.
By the time of the Crusades (when the Europeans began fighting back), Muslims had conquered two-thirds of the Christian world by the sword, from Spain to Syria, and across North Africa. The Arab slave-trading routes would stay open for 1300 years, until pressure from Christian-based countries forced Islamic nations to declare the practice illegal (in theory).
Today, there is not another religion in the world that consistently produces terrorism in the name of religion as does Islam. The most dangerous Muslims are nearly always those who interpret the Qur’an most transparently. They are the fundamentalists or purists of the faith, and believe in Muhammad’s mandate to spread Islamic rule by the sword, putting to death those who will not submit.
The holy texts of Islam are saturated with verses of violence and hatred toward those outside the faith. In sharp contrast to the Bible, which generally moves from relatively violent passages to far more peaceful ones, the Qur’an travels the exact opposite path. The handful of earlier verses that speak of tolerance are overwhelmed by an avalanche of later ones that carry a much different message. While Old Testament verses of blood and guts are generally bound by historical context within the text itself, Qur'anic imperatives to violence usually appear open-ended.
By any objective measure, the "Religion of Peace" has been the harshest, bloodiest religion the world has ever known.