Many men in history have built empires. We honor men like Nimrod, Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander, Caesar, Attila, Genghis, Ivan, Charlemagne and Napoleon for their military genius and worldly conquests. We know them by their given names. Scripture even tells us they can, like Cyrus, be God’s instruments. For some reason, Probably the reason why people brag if their great-grandfather was a pirate but lie if their father is a thief, we regard Hitler with contempt more than others who did comparable things.
Anyway, one thing almost all of them have in common is their empires fell. They nominally conquered huge portions of the Earth, yet they died, and in some way or another their territories were split or conquered.
Mohammed, the salesman-warlord, came up with a great formula. No one who’s tried it since (Joseph Smith, for example) has been quite so successful. He took the methods of the great conquerors: invade a town, make examples of a few noteworthy leaders and random citizenship then demand submission. Yet he added a religion. Who knows? Maybe he did start with an authentic private revelation and corrupt it. Maybe it was an apparition of Satan. Maybe the Koran is a mistranslation into Arabic of Aramaic Christian theology. Certainly, as the singer Bono argued of Christianity, there is something at least preternatural about Mahonet’s success.
In his lifetime, he conquered much of Arabia. His immediate successors kept his purpose, compared to Alexander’s generals who formed separate empires. They conquered, in a relatively short time, Arabia, Persia, most of what had been the Byzantine Empire, North Africa and even Iberia. By tying religion to military zeal, Mohammed has inspired zealots for 1400 years, and in true sociopathic fashion, offer only a tu quoque. It is a brilliant strategic plan which deserves more attention in history classes.