Marco Polo’s Comments on Islam – Fiction!

 

Summary of eRumor: 

Social media posts claim that Marco Polo summed up the difference between militant Muslims and moderate Muslims in one of his books.

 

The Truth:

This claim is false.

The eRumor started with a post on social media sites that claims Marco Polo wrote, “The militant Muslim is the person who beheads the infidel, while the moderate Muslim holds the feet of the victim.”

Polo was a Venetian merchant who gained fame for writing about his travels in China, Central Asia and Persia in the 13th and 14th centuries. The idea that Polo would use the modern concepts “militant” and “moderate” Muslims in the middle ages is unlikely.

The quote first appeared online in 2008 in a post headlined, “Great Thinkers on Islam.” It was attributed to a professor of philosophy named Dr. M. Sabieski. The quote has regularly appeared online since — but Dr. M. Sabieski hasn’t. There are no online records of a professor of philosophy by that name, so its authorship can’t be verified.

But it should be noted that Polo did comment on followers of Islam in his book, “The Travels of Marco Polo, the Venetian.” On page 45, Polo describes his experiences with the people of Tauris (modern day Crimea):

The Mahometan inhabitants are treacherous and unprincipled. According to their doctrine, whatever is stolen or plundered from others of a different faith, is properly taken, and the theft is no crime; whilst those who suffer death or injury by the hands of Christians, are considered martyrs. If, therefore, they were not prohibited and restrained by the powers who now govern them, they would commit many outrages. These principals are common to all the Saracens.

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

Marco Polo, a Venetian merchant whose travels are recorded in the Book of the Marvels of the World, was the first to leave a detailed chronicle of his travel experience through Central Asia and China. His insight into Islam from eight centuries ago remains relent today.