Fr. Michael Calabria, a Franciscan Friar of Holy Name Province, is director of the Center for Arab and Islamic Studies at St. Bonaventure University. His extensive travels throughout the Islamic world and the subject matter of his broad list of speaking engagements and presentations appear to indicate that he has drifted from his original path.
The Founder of Calabria’s Order of Franciscans, St. Francis, similarly traveled into Islamic Egypt during the Fifth Crusade, in 1219, to meet with Sultan Malik al-Kamil in a courageous, but naïve, attempt to evangelize. He had undoubtedly been shown the censored version of Islam and returned impressed with the frequency of Islamic prayers, their 99 names in praise of God, and their reverence of bowing to the ground, and he adopted the Order’s devotionals accordingly. Unfortunately, he had not been told that devout Muslim spirituality was largely practiced under threat of the sword. In 1220, five friars were martyred in Morocco, and more were slaughtered in later centuries. In 1291, Franciscans left the Holy Land when Acre, the last Crusader stronghold, fell. Fr. Calabria is also bewitched by a mythical Islam.
He is scheduled to speak as an apologist for Islam this summer at the Chautauqua Institute, in New York State. Founded as a Christian institution in 1874, there is a current Jewish presence, and the Institute’s Department of Religion began inviting a series of lecturers about Islam in the mid-1990s, with the aim of reaching its nearly 150,000 annual visitors. Calabria will be yet another of many speakers invited to woo the unwary audience into esteeming the misrepresented Islam.
In past lectures and on his website, Calabria managed to compose a non-violent version of Mohammed’s hijra (journey) to Mecca and Medina, never divulging the Islamic leader’s beheading of as many as 900 Jews, sexual enslavement of the women and children, and demands of jizya (protection money) from the surviving Christians The methods used by Islam to conquer the non-Islamic world continue unchanged to this day, with intolerance and invasion, rape, seizure and slaughter throughout Africa, into Europe and the Americas. Yet, Calabria presents a sanitized picture of the prophet, and encourages Christians to offer hospitality and friendship to the alleged oppressed Muslims, and to guarantee their freedom and safety, united against injustices.
Furthermore, he will repeat verbatim Islam’s own false claims of astounding achievements. As I noted in my 2015 reply to aspiring presidential candidate Carly Fiorina’s erroneous treatise about Islam on the Hewlett-Packard site, the self-styled “Islamic arches” were already Roman, Byzantine, Persian, Egyptian, Babylonian and Greek. The vaulted and hemispherical ceilings were invented by non-Muslim Romans. The first numerical system was developed by Babylonians, 800 years before Islam. The misnamed “Arabic numerals” were adopted from the Hindus, in India. Arab scientists were largely Jews who were forcibly converted. Arabic philosophers and scientists were Jewish and Berber survivors of massacres. Arab astronomers were inspired by the great physician, Isaac Israel of Kairouan; and the greatest of “Arab” scientists, Avicenna (980-1037), was probably of Jewish origin from Bokhara. Their astronomers used instruments, such as the astrolabe, to facilitate world-girdling sea voyages, but created by a “remarkable Jewish genius,” Mashala of Mosul; their astronomical tables were created by the Jewish Joseph ben Wallar at Toledo, and by Judaic specialists, including Immanuel ben Jacob in Aragon.
The sincere, but deluded, Calabria asserts that Muslims played a positive part of American society for more than a century when, in fact, the part they played was that of Barbary corsairs These were Ottoman pirates known as the Scourge of the Mediterranean, whose raids and invasions had strangled world trade, caused economic disaster, and stopped shipments of papyrus to create a decline in writing, literacy and books written – the crucial cause of the European Dark Ages. For centuries they had been capturing European merchant ships and holding for ransom or enslaving their crews. When they began attacking American ships after the end of the American Revolution, and diplomatic talks failed, US President Thomas Jefferson, in 1798, formed the United States Department of the Navy in order to end the attacks, tributes and ransoms paid and to protect our commerce. Such has been the real Islamic contribution to Western civilization.
Regarding slavery, it had been the Muslims themselves who forcibly kidnapped their co-religionists, as many as 11 million Black (Muslim) slaves, the men being trafficked for harsh labor, the women primarily for sexual slavery. Taken from their African homelands and sold into Europe and South and Central America for great profit (only 5 percent came to the United States), the traders were prepared to deal with the journeys’ high mortality rate (between 80 and 90 percent), and still be confident of sufficient financial gain.
Native-born American Muslims are mainly African Americans, many converted to Islam during the last 70 years Although an estimated 10 to 30 percent of the slaves did arrive as Muslims, their adherence was suppressed on plantations, but the non-enslaved Muslims in North America were merchants, travelers and sailors, from the 16th and 17th c. Ottoman and Mughal Empires. Their increased number today is a result of the recent influx of migrants, following the Koranic commands of conquest by invasion (al-hijra) and breeding (al-wilada). Nearly 96,000 became legal residents in 2005, with another 115,000 in 2009. While world population may increase by 32 percent, Muslims are predicted to increase by 70 percent. Their supposedly rich history remains undefined, their beneficial contributions to mankind undetermined, but Calabria remains convinced of an Islam that exists in the imagination only.
Contrary to his ardent claim of Islam’s wellspring of contributions, the “Muslim genius” appears to be their unique ability to invade and feign victimhood, to insinuate their laws into the host country and protest discrimination, to force civilizations to relinquish their treasured mandates of truth and freedom, to convince a world of a non-existent history, to receive unending entitlements and support, and to contribute nothing beneficial and to destroy their host culture while declaring provenance over every field of endeavor. Fr. Calabria has strayed from the original path and walks in Mohammed’s shoes.