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In a question recently asked on the Christianity site, namely, Why don’t Christians accept Muhammad as the true prophet?, an answer quoted this article:

“Beware of false prophets who … inwardly are ravenous wolves.” “Ravenous” certainly seems an apt description of Muhammad. While it’s not know exactly how many people he killed in the course of spreading Islam, it is known that on one occasion he presided over the beheading of between 600 and 900 captured men. “Ravenous” also seems to fit most of his successors. Islam’s’ 1400 year history is largely a record of conquest and subjugation. By one estimate, approximately 170 million people have been killed in the name of Allah, making Islam the greatest killing force in history by far.

The article references the book A Self Study Course on Political Islam-Level 1-CD, levels 2 & 3 as its source, which is in paperback and, unfortunately, behind a paywall.

Have about 170 million people been killed in the name of Allah?

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    I’m wondering what “killed in the name of Allah” is supposed to mean, a Muslim killing someone, all deaths in a religious war, deaths in a war by a party/individuals that are Muslim, deaths caused by Muslims specifically saying it is in the name of Allah, there are practically infinite ways that someone could interpret that statement as.
    – Topcode
    Commented Jan 17, 2022 at 14:37
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    I think this question could be answered in two parts: firstly, is there any reasonable basis for the "170 million people killed" in the quote; and second, as Tim Harford likes to ask on BBC More or Less, "is this a big number?" That is, if we applied a similar methodology to other "causes" of death, would the statistic look meaningless - after all, the WHO attributes 8.9 million deaths in a single year to "ischaemic heart disease".
    – IMSoP
    Commented Jan 18, 2022 at 14:37
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    @F1Krazy Well, pedantically, you could argue that "in the name of" can't refer to a different name. I think it's pretty clear from context, though, that the actual claim is about Islam, rather than "the deity of the Abrahamic religions".
    – IMSoP
    Commented Jan 18, 2022 at 15:42
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    @F1Krazy It's pretty obvious the adherents to those religions share no unity at all, regardless of technical or historical factoids.
    – user11643
    Commented Jan 18, 2022 at 17:24
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    @IMSoP I personally see that as a category error. Heart disease doesn't kill in the same way as religious militants. If we're to make a comparison, to assess the number's gravity, the obvious analog is "Christian murders". Whatever that means, the definitions need to be equal, with just the subjects changing.
    – user11643
    Commented Jan 18, 2022 at 17:53

1 Answer 1

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The number cited is 270 million

I found the relevant passage in book you cited, which reads: "“We will be studying the deaths of 270 million Kafirs over 1400 years in jihad. That’s 60 million Christians, 80 million Hindus, 10 million Buddhists and 120 million Africans of varying religions.” I don't know how 270 million became 170 million.

This itself cites Mohammed and the Unbelievers, Bill Warner, CSPI Publishing, 2010, pg. 160. I also have found the relevant passage in this book.

References are provided, but are a mixture of fabrication and misuse of sources

Mohammed and the Unbelievers provides the following references:

  1. "Thomas Sowell estimates that 11 million slaves were shipped across the Atlantic and 14 million were sent to the Islamic nations of North Africa and the Middle East."
    • It's probably true that North Africans captured well over a million slaves over 1300 years, but Thomas Sowell is a right-wing cultural commentator, not a scholar of slavery. Sowell cites the actual source: Ralph A. Austen, "The trans-Saharan slave trade: a tentative census." The Uncommon Market: Essays in the Economic History of the Atlantic Slave Trade (1979). Another historian has objected to these figures: Joseph Inikori, "Africa in World History: The Export Slave Trade from Africa and the Emergence of the Atlantic Economic Order," in B. A. Ogot, ed., Africa from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Century (Berkeley, Calif., 1992). Inikori says that 15.4 million slaves were brought to the Americas in the Atlantic slave trade, and only 4 million to North Africa. In any case, these figures do not include deaths, and I only linger here because this is the closest we are going to get to reality.
  2. "The renowned missionary David Livingstone estimated that for every slave who reached the plantation five others died by being killed in the raid or died on the forced march from illness and privation. So, for 25 million slaves delivered to the market, we have the death of about 120 million people. Islam ran the wholesale slave trade in Africa."
    • Here you can see the first clear factual errors. Warner has added Sowell's two figures together, but the "11 million slaves shipped across the Atlantic" were brought by Christians, not Muslims. This already reduces his estimate by half.
    • I think to back up his thesis that the Atlantic slave trade -- which often involved selling Muslims to Christians -- was an act of jihad, a citation is provided for the claim that "Islam ran the wholesale slave trade in Africa": a book about slavery in the Middle East by Bernard Lewis, the Orientalist. No page number is given. This is a misuse of the source, because Lewis' book says nothing about the Atlantic slave trade.
    • Needless to say, David Livingstone ("Dr. Livingstone, I presume?") was a 19th century colonialist and not a scholar of slavery either. I don't even think he was speaking above his station here, he was just making a general observation that Warner has interpreted as a technical figure. Considering the mention of the "plantation," I also wonder what type of slave raid Livingstone was specifically discussing.
  3. "The number of Christians martyred by Islam is 9 million [citation to "World Christian Trends AD 30-AD 2200"]. A rough estimate by Raphael Moore in History of Asia Minor is that another 50 million died in wars by jihad."
    • Two citations which are both less and more creative than the previous claims. The first is a citation to a table in a book of Christian demographics, which also shows oddly precise stats like "31,689,000" Christians being killed by atheists, but does not provide any breakdowns for any of its figures. The second is a citation which @AlabamaScholiast pointed out is not a book and is not entitled History of Asia Minor, but is actually a religious essay entitled "In Memory Of The 50 Million Victims Of The Orthodox Christian Holocaust" by Father Raphael Moore. This article makes only minimal mention of Islam; the "50 million" estimate is a guess at the number of all Orthodox Christians killed in the 20th century, including 3.65 million people killed by Turkish ethnonationalists (hence the "Asia Minor" subhead), but mostly behind the Iron Curtain, including the Holodomor as a mass extermination. This article does provide a specific number of Orthodox Christians killed by Islamists in Egypt: "dozens." The effects of Islamic extremism on Egypt's Orthodox population should not be understated, but this is not the same as a general holy war by all Muslims on all Christians, and "dozens" is quite different from 50 million.
  4. "Koenard [sic] Elst in Negationism in India gives an estimate of 80 million Hindus killed in the total jihad against India."
    • I have already dealt with this claim in another Skeptics answer. There is no evidence given whatsoever for the figure of 80 million -- it's largely based on another nonexistent quotation.
  5. "Buddhists do not keep up with the history of war. ... Jihad killed the Buddhists in Turkey, Afghanistan, along the Silk Route, and in India. The total is roughly 10 million."
    • The first sentence is not only false but idiotic; historically, Buddhists engaged in wars of aggression in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Tibet, etc. and recorded it in their chronicles. The sole citation again goes to "World Christian Trends AD 30-AD 2200". Again, this book doesn't say where exactly it gets its figures.

Conclusion

We can see an interesting kind of legitimization occurring in the path this "170/270 million" figure took from the fabrications of a self-published lunatic fringe book, to Crisis magazine, to Stack Exchange itself.

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    and a citation to a book which, as far as I can tell, does not exist, by a "Raphael Moore" who I do not think exists either. History of Asia Minor ... -- I think I know a likely candidate for the source. I suspect this comes from Rev. Fr. Raphael Moore, "In Memory Of The 50 Million Victims Of The Orthodox Christian Holocaust". First section, which might be mistaken (by an incompetent reader) for title of article, is "History Of Asia Minor: 1894-1923." Commented Jan 20, 2022 at 16:33
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    If so, it's not a good source to start with, but this is also a very bad misrepresentation of the contents of the source by Bill Warner, either because he never read it, or because he read it very very badly. Lots of details in chat. Commented Jan 20, 2022 at 16:34
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    Thank you, this explains why I didn't find it on Google Books or Google Scholar. I will update my answer accordingly.
    – Avery
    Commented Jan 20, 2022 at 17:41
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    @EricDuminil no, the reason being because the types of murders which this number attempted to cover shows how ambiguous that idea is. Were African slave raids religious inspired? Who authorized them? To capture slaves for US plantations, did Christianity and Islam conspire? Trying to create such a calculation simply sorely misreads human history in favor of one's biases
    – Avery
    Commented Jan 26, 2022 at 10:45
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    @Gantendo I think you're taking the expression literally, while it's meant figuratively. Commented Jan 27, 2022 at 19:37

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