2083 A European Declaration of Independence

August 2, 2011

1.6 Naskh – Quranic abrogation

Filed under: Uncategorized — sitamnesty @ 12:30

Quranic abrogation (Naskh) is another central and under-analysed part of Islam.

Those Westerners who manage to pick up a translation of the Quran are often left bewildered as to its meaning thanks to ignorance of a critically important principle of Quranic interpretation known as "abrogation." The principle of abrogation — al-naskh wa al-mansukh (the abrogating and the abrogated) — directs that verses revealed later in Muhammad’s career "abrogate" — i.e., cancel and replace — earlier ones whose instructions they may contradict. Thus, passages revealed later in Muhammad’s career, in Medina, overrule passages revealed earlier, in Mecca. The Quran itself lays out the principle of abrogation:

2:106. Whatever a Verse (revelation) do We {Allah} abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring a better one or similar to it. Know you not that Allah is able to do all things?

It seems that 2:106 was revealed in response to scepticism directed at Muhammad that Allah’s revelations were not entirely consistent over time. Muhammad’s rebuttal was that "Allah is able to do all things" — even change his mind. To confuse matters further, though the Quran was revealed to Muhammad sequentially over some twenty years’ time, it was not compiled in chronological order. When the Quran was finally collated into book form under Caliph Uthman, the suras were ordered from longest to shortest with no connection whatever to the order in which they were revealed or to their thematic content. In order to find out what the Quran says on a given topic, it is necessary to examine the other Islamic sources that give clues as to when in Muhammad’s lifetime the revelations occurred. Upon such examination, one discovers that the Meccan suras, revealed at a time when the Muslims were vulnerable, are generally benign; the later Medinan suras, revealed after Muhammad had made himself the head of an army, are bellicose.


Let us take, for example, 50:45 and Sura 109, both revealed in Mecca:

50:45. We know of best what they say; and you (O Muhammad) are not a tyrant over them (to force them to Belief). But warn by the Qur’an, him who fears My Threat.

109:1. Say (O Muhammad to these Mushrikun and Kafirun): "O Al-Kafirun (disbelievers in Allah, in His Oneness, in His Angels, in His Books, in His Messengers, in the Day of Resurrection, and in Al-Qadar {divine foreordainment and sustaining of all things}, etc.)!

109:2. "I worship not that which you worship,
109:3. "Nor will you worship that which I worship.
109:4. "And I shall not worship that which you are worshipping.
109:5. "Nor will you worship that which I worship.
109:6. "To you be your religion, and to me my religion (Islamic Monotheism)."

Then there is this passage revealed just after the Muslims reached Medina and were still vulnerable:

2:256. There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path. Whoever disbelieves in Taghut {idolatry} and believes in Allah, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break. And Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower.

In contrast, take 9:5, commonly referred to as the "Verse of the Sword", revealed toward the end of Muhammad’s life:

9:5. Then when the Sacred Months (the 1st, 7th, 11th, and 12th months of the Islamic calendar) have passed, then kill the Mushrikun {unbelievers} wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and prepare for them each and every ambush. But if they repent and perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat {the Islamic ritual prayers}), and give Zakat {alms}, then leave their way free. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

Having been revealed later in Muhammad’s life than 50:45, 109, and 2:256, the Verse of the Sword abrogates their peaceful injunctions in accordance with 2:106. Sura 8, revealed shortly before Sura 9, reveals a similar theme:

8:39. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and polytheism: i.e. worshipping others besides Allah) and the religion (worship) will all be for Allah Alone [in the whole of the world]. But if they cease (worshipping others besides Allah), then certainly, Allah is All-Seer of what they do.

8:67. It is not for a Prophet that he should have prisoners of war (and free them with ransom) until he had made a great slaughter (among his enemies) in the land. You desire the good of this world (i.e. the money of ransom for freeing the captives), but Allah desires (for you) the Hereafter. And Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.

9:29. Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

9:33. It is He {Allah} Who has sent His Messenger (Muhammad) with guidance and the religion of truth (Islam), to make it superior over all religions even though the Mushrikun (polytheists, pagans, idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah) hate (it).

The Quran’s commandments to Muslims to wage war in the name of Allah against non-Muslims are unmistakable. They are, furthermore, absolutely authoritative as they were revealed late in the Prophet’s career and so cancel and replace earlier instructions to act peaceably. Without knowledge of the principle of abrogation (naskh), Westerners will continue to misread the Quran and misdiagnose Islam as a "religion of peace."

Naskh – Quranic abrogation – origin and implementaion

Naskh (Quranic abrogation) is a legal practice first put in place by 9th century Islamic scholars with the intention of understanding seemingly contradictory verses in the Quran and the hadith. Its practical consequence in relation to Jihad is that the aggressive Medina verses of the Quran cancels the peaceful Mecca verses. As far back as the sources will take us, Muslim jurisprudence discerned Quranic abrogation (‘Naskh’ or ‘Man-sookh’) in the Quran. One of the earliest extended discussions of Quranic abrogation was; al-Naskh wa-al-mansukh fi al-quran by Abu Ubayd (839 AD). Another source from the ninth century is; Kitab Fahm al-quran of al-Harith ibn Asad al-Muhasibi. Other sources from the same century are the writings of al-Shafii and Ibn Qutaybah. The conclusions of these “works” were among other things that Medina (war mongering) verses cancel Mecca (peaceful) verses whenever appropriate.

Even though the abrogated texts remain a part of the Qur’an and are even recited during prayers, the application thereof, or applicable information therefrom is inappropriate. This foundation for duality makes the Quran and the Hadith extremely effective when opposing different challenges. It allows every Muslim to use the appropriate texts based on the circumstances. The Mecca verses are given emphasis for tactical reasons in the ongoing peaceful conquering of nations through demographic warfare (as we see in Europe) or whenever appropriate, while the aggressive Medina verses are given emphasis through regular Jihad (warfare) as we see in Sudan.

Basis for abrogation
The concept of abrogation has been mainly extrapolated from two Quranic texts:

[Q 2:106] What We [Allah] cancel of ‘Ayaaat’ or made forgotten, We replace it with something better than it, or at least similar. Do you not know that truly, Allah is powerful over everything?


The word ‘Ayaaat’ used in the above text, means "signs". Throughout the Qur’an, this word is used for a variety of meanings, and is not limited to the Quranic verses [see 30:21, for example].

The second passage usually referred to as the basis for Quranic abrogation is the following:

[Q 87:6-7] We [Allah] will relate to you [knowledge], so do not forget, except what Allah wills. Surely, he knows what the apparent and the hidden.

We can understand the development of the concept of Naskh in the following manner; commentators were perplexed in understanding seemingly contradictory verses. They therefore evaluated the practices of the Prophet (especially the various hadiths) and the actions of the first generations of Muslims. By doing so much confusion could be avoided.

For example; [Q 8:61], which commands Muslims to remain in a peaceful setting with those who maintain a similar stance, has been replaced with 9:73, which reads as follows;

[Q 9:73] O Prophet, fight against the disbelievers and the hypocrites and be harsh upon them. And their refuge is Hell, and wretched is the destination.

By ignoring the peaceful verse 8:61 which was clearly of a limited scope, given to the Prophet at a time when Islam was weak and vulnerable and when he was under constant attack from his foes (thus the peaceful Medina verses), a foundation for constant Jihad until Islam has conquered the world was created.

Texts such as 9:73 are cited by Islamists everywhere.

Look at 2:62 as the perfect example. It, along with 5:69, actually names some Non-Muslim religious groups as being rewarded by God for their faith and deeds. These verses are however cancelled by Q 3:85 [and other texts, such as 5:3], or are said to refer to nations prior to Muhammad’s time.

At the end of the day, there is really no doubt whatsoever what Muhammads own agenda and conclusions were as the following authentic Hadith explains:

Hadith of the Prophet
"Lataftahanna al-Qustantiniyya wa lani`ma al-amiru amiruha wa lani`ma
al-jayshu dhalika al-jaysh."

"Verily you shall conquer Constantinople. What a wonderful leader will he be, and what a wonderful army will that army be!"

Needless to say; every single kuffar capital is considered modern day Constantinople’s. The only difference is that the strategic weapon used in the Jihad against Europe is Islamic demographic warfare instead of regular infantry units (which is the preferred method in the Sudan Jihad).

d. Jihad Through History

In 622 AD (year one in the Islamic calendar, AH 1), Muhammad abandoned Mecca for the city of Medina (Yathrib) some 200 farther north in the Arabian peninsula. In Medina, Muhammad established a paramilitary organisation that would spread his influence and that of his religion throughout Arabia. Because there has never been a separation of the political-military and the religious in Islam, this development was entirely natural by Islamic principles. By the time of his death in 632 AD, Muhammad had extended his control in a series of raids and battles over most of southern Arabia. The conquered populations of these areas either had to submit to Muslim rule and pay a protection tax or convert to Islam.

i. The First Major Wave of Jihad: the Arabs, 622-750 AD

Near the end of his life, Muhammad sent letters to the great empires of the Middle East demanding their submission to his authority. This dispels any notion that the Prophet intended Islam’s expansion to stop with Arabia. Indeed, it is only logical that the one true religion, revealed by the final and fullest prophet, should have universal sway. Thus, as Muhammad had fought and subdued the peoples of the Arabian peninsula, his successors Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and Ali (known as "the four rightly-guided Caliphs") and other Caliphs fought and subdued the people of the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe in the name of Allah.

Volume 4, Book 53, Number 386; Narrated Jubair bin Haiya: Umar {the second Caliph} sent the Muslims to the great countries to fight the pagans. When we reached the land of the enemy, the representative of Khosrau {Persia} came out with forty-thousand warriors, and an interpreter got up saying, "Let one of you talk to me!" Al-Mughira replied, "Our Prophet, the Messenger of our Lord, has ordered us to fight you till you worship Allah Alone or give Jizya (i.e. tribute); and our Prophet has informed us that our Lord says: "Whoever amongst us is killed (i.e. martyred), shall go to Paradise to lead such a luxurious life as he has never seen, and whoever amongst us remain alive, shall become your master."

Unleashing upon the world the blitzkrieg of its day, Islam rapidly spread into the territories of Byzantium, Persia, and Western Europe in the decades after Muhammad’s death. The creaking Byzantine and Persian powers, having battled each other into mutual decline, offered little resistance to this unanticipated onslaught. The Arab Muslim armies charged into the Holy Land, conquered what is now Iraq and Iran, then swept west across North Africa, into Spain, and finally into France. The Muslim offensive was finally halted in the West at the Battle of Poitiers/Tours, not far from Paris, in 732 AD. In the east, the jihad penetrated deep into Central Asia.

As Muhammad had plundered his foes, so his successors also stripped the conquered areas — incomparably richer both materially and culturally than the desolate sands of Arabia — of their wealth and manpower. Almost overnight, the more advanced civilisations of the Middle East, North Africa, Persia, and Iberia saw their agriculture, native religions, and populations destroyed or plundered. Save for a handful of walled cities that managed to negotiate conditional surrenders, the catastrophes those lands suffered were very nearly complete.

Ibn Hudayl, a 14th century Granadan author of an important treatise on Jihad, explained the original methods which facilitated the violent, chaotic Jihad conquest of the Iberian peninsula, and other parts of Europe:

It is permissible to set fire to the lands of the enemy, his stores of grain, his beasts of burden if it is not possible for the Muslims to take possession of them as well as to cut down his trees, to raze his cities, in a word, to do everything that might ruin and discourage him, provided that the imam deems these measures appropriate, suited to hastening the Islamisation of that enemy or to weakening him. Indeed, all this contributes to a military triumph over him or to forcing him to capitulate.

The historian al-Maqqari, who wrote in seventeenth-century Tlemcen in Algeria, explains that the panic created by the Arab horsemen and sailors, at the time of the Muslim expansion in the zones that saw those raids and landings, facilitated the later conquest, if that was decided on:

Allah, he says, thus instilled such fear among the infidels that they did not dare to go and fight the conquerors; they only approached them as suppliants, to beg for peace."

Bat Ye’or, the leading scholar of Islam’s expansion and its treatment of non-Muslims, has provided an inestimable service through the compilation and translation of numerous primary source documents describing centuries of Islamic conquest. She includes these documents in her works on Islamic history and the plight of non-Muslims under Islamic rule. In the history of jihad, the slaughter of civilians, the desecration of churches, and the plundering of the countryside are commonplace. Here is Michael the Syrian’s account of the Muslim invasion of Cappodocia (southern Turkey) in 650 AD under Caliph Umar:

when Muawiya {the Muslim commander} arrived {in Euchaita in Armenia} he ordered all the inhabitants to be put to the sword; he placed guards so that no one escaped. After gathering up all the wealth of the town, they set to torturing the leaders to make them show them things [treasures] that had been hidden. The Taiyaye {Muslim Arabs} led everyone into slavery — men and women, boys and girls — and they committed much debauchery in that unfortunate town: they wickedly committed immoralities inside churches. They returned to their country rejoicing. (Michael the Syrian, quoted in Bat Ye’or, The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam, 276-7.)

The following description by the Muslim historian, Ibn al-Athir (1160-1233 AD), of razzias (raiding expeditions) in Northern Spain and France in the eighth and ninth centuries AD, conveys nothing but satisfaction at the extent of the destruction wrought upon the infidels, including non-combatants.

In 177 <17 April 793>, Hisham, prince of Spain, sent a large army commanded by Abd al-Malik b. Abd al-Wahid b. Mugith into enemy territory, and which made forays as far as Narbonne and Jaranda . This general first attacked Jaranda where there was an elite Frank garrison; he killed the bravest, destroyed the walls and towers of the town and almost managed to seize it. He then marched on to Narbonne, where he repeated the same actions, then, pushing forward, he trampled underfoot the land of the Cerdagne {near Andorra in the Pyrenees}. For several months he traversed this land in every direction, raping women, killing warriors, destroying fortresses, burning and pillaging everything, driving back the enemy who fled in disorder. He returned safe and sound, dragging behind him God alone knows how much booty. This is one of the most famous expeditions of the Muslims in Spain. In 223 <2 December 837>, Abd ar-Rahman b. al Hakam, sovereign of Spain, sent an army against Alava; it encamped near Hisn al-Gharat, which it besieged; it seized the booty that was found there, killed the inhabitants and withdrew, carrying off women and children as captives. In 231 <6 September 845>, a Muslim army advanced into Galicia on the territory of the infidels, where it pillaged and massacred everyone. In 246 <27 March 860>, Muhammad b. Abd ar-Rahman advanced with many troops and a large military apparatus against the region of Pamplona. He reduced, ruined and ravaged this territory, where he pillaged and sowed death. (Ibn al-Athir, Annals, quoted in Bat Ye’or, The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam, 281-2.)

This first wave of jihad engulfed much of the Byzantine, Visigothic, Frankish, and Persian Empires and left the newborn Islamic Empire controlling territory from Southern France, south through Spain, east across North Africa to India, and north to Russia. Early in the second millennium AD, the Mongol invasion from the east greatly weakened the Islamic Empire and ended Arab predominance therein.

ii. The Second Major Wave of Jihad: the Turks, 1071-1683 AD

Some twenty-five years before the first Crusading army set out from central Europe for the Holy Land, the Turkish (Ottoman) armies began an assault on the Christian Byzantine Empire, which had ruled what is now Turkey since the Roman Empire’s capital was moved to Constantinople in 325 AD. At the battle of Manzikert, in 1071, the Christian forces suffered a disastrous defeat, which left much of Anatolia (Turkey) open to invasion. This second wave of jihad was temporarily held up by the invading Latin Armies during the Crusades (see Islam 101 FAQs), but, by the beginning of the 14th century, the Turks were threatening Constantinople and Europe itself.

In the West, Roman Catholic armies were bit by bit forcing Muslim forces down the Iberian peninsula, until, in 1492, they were definitively expelled (the Reconquista). In Eastern Europe, however, Islam continued in the ascendant. One of the most significant engagements between the invading Muslims and the indigenous peoples of the region was the Battle of Kosovo in 1389, where the Turks annihilated a multinational army under the Serbian King, St. Lazar, though their progress into Europe was significantly slowed. After numerous attempts dating back to the seventh century, Constantinople, the jewel of Eastern Christendom, finally fell in 1453 to the armies of Sultan Mahomet II. Lest one ascribe the atrocities of the first wave of jihad to the "Arabness" of its perpetrators, the Turks showed they were fully capable of living up to the principles of the Quran and the Sunnah. Paul Fregosi in his book Jihad describes the scene following the final assault on Constantinople:

Several thousand of the survivors had taken refuge in the cathedral: nobles, servants, ordinary citizens, their wives and children, priests and nuns. They locked the huge doors, prayed, and waited. {Caliph} Mahomet {II} had given the troops free quarter. They raped, of course, the nuns being the first victims, and slaughtered. At least four thousand were killed before Mahomet stopped the massacre at noon. He ordered a muezzin {one who issues the call to prayer} to climb into the pulpit of St. Sophia and dedicate the building to Allah. It has remained a mosque ever since. Fifty thousand of the inhabitants, more than half the population, were rounded up and taken away as slaves. For months afterward, slaves were the cheapest commodity in the markets of Turkey. Mahomet asked that the body of the dead emperor be brought to him. Some Turkish soldiers found it in a pile of corpses and recognised Constantine {XI} by the golden eagles embroidered on his boots. The sultan ordered his head to be cut off and placed between the horse’s legs under the equestrian bronze statue of the emperor Justinian. The head was later embalmed and sent around the chief cities of the Ottoman Empire for the delectation of the citizens. Next, Mahomet ordered the Grand Duke Notaras, who had survived, be brought before him, asked him for the names and addresses of all the leading nobles, officials, and citizens, which Notaras gave him. He had them all arrested and decapitated. He sadistically bought from their owners {i.e., Muslim commanders} high-ranking prisoners who had been enslaved, for the pleasure of having them beheaded in front of him. (Fregosi, Jihad, 256-7.)

This second, Turkish wave of jihad reached its farthest extent at the failed sieges of Vienna in 1529 and 1683, where in the latter instance the Muslim army under Kara Mustapha was thrown back by the Roman Catholics under the command of the Polish King, John Sobieski. In the decades that followed, the Ottomans were driven back down through the Balkans, though they were never ejected from the European continent entirely. Still, even while the imperial jihad faltered, Muslim land- and sea-borne razzias into Christian territory continued, and Christians were being abducted into slavery from as far away as Iceland into the 19th century.

e. Dhimmitude

Islam’s persecution of non-Muslims is in no way limited to jihad, even though that is the basic relationship between the Muslim and non-Muslim world. After the jihad concludes in a given area with the conquest of infidel territory, the dhimma, or treaty of protection, may be granted to the conquered "People of the Book" — historically, Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians. The dhimma provides that the life and property of the infidel are exempted from jihad for as long as the Muslim rulers permit, which has generally meant for as long as the subject non-Muslims — the dhimmi — prove economically useful to the Islamic state. The Quran spells out the payment of the jizya (poll- or head-tax; Sura 9:29), which is the most conspicuous means by which the Muslim overlords exploit the dhimmi. But the jizya is not merely economic in its function; it exists also to humiliate the dhimmi and impress on him the superiority of Islam. Al-Maghili, a fifteenth century Muslim theologian, explains:

On the day of payment {of the jizya} they {the dhimmi} shall be assembled in a public place like the suq {place of commerce}. They should be standing there waiting in the lowest and dirtiest place. The acting officials representing the Law shall be placed above them and shall adopt a threatening attitude so that it seems to them, as well as to others, that our object is to degrade them by pretending to take their possessions. They will realise that we are doing them a favour in accepting from them the jizya and letting them go free. (Al-Maghili, quoted in Bat Ye’or, The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam, 361.)

Islamic law codifies various other restrictions on the dhimmi, all of which derive from the Quran and the Sunnah. Several hundred years of Islamic thought on the right treatment of dhimmi peoples is summed up by Al-Damanhuri, a seventeenth century head of Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the most prestigious center for learning in the Muslim world:

just as the dhimmis are prohibited from building churches, other things also are prohibited to them. They must not assist an unbeliever against a Muslim … raise the cross in an Islamic assemblage … display banners on their own holidays; bear arms … or keep them in their homes. Should they do anything of the sort, they must be punished, and the arms seized. … The Companions [of the Prophet] agreed upon these points in order to demonstrate the abasement of the infidel and to protect the weak believer’s faith. For if he sees them humbled, he will not be inclined toward their belief, which is not true if he sees them in power, pride, or luxury garb, as all this urges him to esteem them and incline toward them, in view of his own distress and poverty. Yet esteem for the unbeliever is unbelief. (Al-Damanhuri, quoted in Bat Ye’or, The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam, 382.)

The Christian, Jewish, and Zoroastrian peoples of the Middle East, North Africa, and much of Europe suffered under the oppressive strictures of the dhimma for centuries. The status of these dhimmi peoples is comparable in many ways to that of former slaves in the post-bellum American South. Forbidden to construct houses of worship or repair extant ones, economically crippled by the jizya, socially humiliated, legally discriminated against, and generally kept in a permanent state of weakness and vulnerability by the Muslim overlords, it should not be surprising that their numbers dwindled, in many places to the point of extinction. The generally misunderstood decline of Islamic civilisation over the past several centuries is easily explained by the demographic decline of the dhimmi populations, which had provided the principle engines of technical and administrative competence.

Should the dhimmi violate the conditions of the dhimma — perhaps through practicing his own religion indiscreetly or failing to show adequate deference to a Muslim — then the jihad resumes. At various times in Islamic history, dhimmi peoples rose above their subjected status, and this was often the occasion for violent reprisals by Muslim populations who believed them to have violated the terms of the dhimma. Medieval Andalusia (Moorish Spain) is often pointed out by Muslim apologists as a kind of multicultural wonderland, in which Jews and Christians were permitted by the Islamic government to rise through the ranks of learning and government administration. What we are not told, however, is that this relaxation of the disabilities resulted in widespread rioting on the part of the Muslim populace that killed hundreds of dhimmis, mainly Jews. By refusing to convert to Islam and straying from the traditional constraints of the dhimma (even at the behest of the Islamic government, which was in need of capable manpower), the dhimmi had implicitly chosen the only other option permitted by the Quran: death.

Dhimmitude in Spain (Iberian peninsula)

The Iberian peninsula was conquered in 710-716 C.E. by Arab tribes originating from northern, central and southern Arabia. Massive Berber and Arab immigration, and the colonisation of the Iberian peninsula, followed the conquest. Most churches were converted into mosques. Although the conquest had been planned and conducted jointly with a faction of Iberian Christian dissidents, including a bishop, it proceeded as a classical jihad with massive pillages, enslavements, deportations and killings. Toledo, which had first submitted to the Arabs in 711 or 712, revolted in 713. The town was punished by pillage and all the notables had their throats cut. In 730, the Cerdagne (in Septimania, near Barcelona) was ravaged and a bishop burned alive. In the regions under stable Islamic control, subjugated non-Muslim dhimmis -Jews and Christians- like elsewhere in other Islamic lands were prohibited from building new churches or synagogues, or restoring the old ones. Segregated in special quarters, they had to wear discriminatory clothing. Subjected to heavy taxes, the Christian peasantry formed a servile class exploited by the dominant Arab ruling elites; many abandoned their land and fled to the towns. Harsh reprisals with mutilations and crucifixions would sanction the Mozarab (Christian dhimmis) calls for help from the Christian kings. Moreover, if one dhimmi harmed a Muslim, the whole community would lose its status of protection, leaving it open to pillage, enslavement and arbitrary killing.

By the end of the eighth century, the rulers of North Africa and of Andalusia had introduced rigorous and harsh Maliki jurisprudence as the predominant school of Muslim law. Three quarters of a century ago, at a time when political correctness was not dominating historical publication and discourse, Évariste Lévi-Provençal, the pre-eminent scholar of Andalusia wrote:

The Muslim Andalusian state thus appears from its earliest origins as the defender and champion of a jealous orthodoxy, more and more ossified in a blind respect for a rigid doctrine, suspecting and condemning in advance the least effort of rational speculation.

Dufourcq provides this illustration of the resulting religious and legal discriminations dhimmis suffered, and the accompanying incentives for them to convert to Islam: by converting [to Islam], one would no longer have to be confined to a given district, or be the victim of discriminatory measures or suffer humiliations. Furthermore, the entire Islamic law tended to favour conversions. When an "infidel" became a Muslim, he immediately benefited from a complete amnesty for all of his earlier crimes, even if he had been sentenced to the death penalty, even if it was for having insulted the Prophet or blasphemed against the Word of God: his conversion acquitted him of all his faults, of all his previous sins.

A legal opinion given by a mufti from al-Andalus in the ninth century is very instructive: a Christian dhimmi kidnapped and violated a Muslim woman; when he was arrested and condemned to death, he immediately converted to Islam; he was automatically pardoned, while being constrained to marry the woman and to provide for her a dowry in keeping with her status. The mufti who was consulted about the affair, perhaps by a brother of the woman, found that the court decision was perfectly legal, but specified that if that convert did not become a Muslim in good faith and secretly remained a Christian, he should be flogged, slaughtered and crucified.

Al-Andalus represented the land of jihad par excellence. Every year (sometimes twice a year) raiding expeditions were sent to ravage the Christian Spanish kingdoms to the north, the Basque regions, or France and the Rhone valley, bringing back booty and slaves. Andalusian corsairs attacked and invaded along the Sicilian and Italian coasts, even as far as the Aegean Islands, looting and burning as they went. Many thousands of non-Muslim captives were deported to slavery in Andalusia, where the caliph kept a militia of tens of thousand of Christian slaves, brought from all parts of Christian Europe (the Saqaliba), and a harem filled with captured Christian women. Society was sharply divided along ethnic and religious lines, with the Arab tribes at the top of the hierarchy, followed by the Berbers who were never recognised as equals, despite their Islamisation; lower in the scale came the mullawadun converts and, at the very bottom, the dhimmi Christians and Jews.

The Andalusian Maliki jurist Ibn Abdun (d. 1134) offered these telling legal opinions regarding Jews and Christians in Seville around 1100 A.D.:

No Jew or Christian may be allowed to wear the dress of an aristocrat, nor of a jurist, nor of a wealthy individual; on the contrary they must be detested and avoided. It is forbidden to [greet] them with the [expression], "Peace be upon you”. In effect, Satan has gained possession of them, and caused them to forget God’s warning. They are the confederates of Satan’s party; Satan’s confederates will surely be the losers!" (Quran 58:19 [modern Dawood translation]). A distinctive sign must be imposed upon them in order that they may be recognised and this will be for them a form of disgrace.

Ibn Abdun also forbade the selling of scientific books to dhimmis under the pretext that they translated them and attributed them to their co-religionists and bishops. In fact, plagiarism is difficult to prove since whole Jewish and Christian libraries were looted and destroyed. Another prominent Andalusian jurist, Ibn Hazm of Cordoba (d. 1064), wrote that Allah has established the infidels ownership of their property merely to provide booty for Muslims.

In Granada, the Jewish viziers Samuel Ibn Naghrela, and his son Joseph, who protected the Jewish community, were both assassinated between 1056 to 1066, followed by the annihilation of the Jewish population by the local Muslims. It is estimated that up to five thousand Jews perished in the pogrom by Muslims that accompanied the 1066 assassination. This figure equals or exceeds the number of Jews reportedly killed by the Crusaders during their pillage of the Rhineland, some thirty years later, at the outset of the First Crusade. The Granada pogrom was likely to have been incited, in part, by the bitter anti-Jewish ode of Abu Ishaq a well known Muslim jurist and poet of the times, who wrote:

Bring them down to their place and Return them to the most abject station. They used to roam around us in tatters Covered with contempt, humiliation, and scorn. They used to rummage amongst the dungheaps for a bit of a filthy rag to serve as a shroud for a man to be buried in…Do not consider that killing them is treachery. Nay, it would be treachery to leave them scoffing." [The translator then summarises: The Jews have broken their covenant (i.e., overstepped their station, with reference to the Covenant of Umar) and compunction would be out of place.]

The Muslim Berber Almohads in Spain and North Africa (1130-1232) wreaked enormous destruction on both the Jewish and Christian populations. This devastation- massacre, captivity, and forced conversion- was described by the Jewish chronicler Abraham Ibn Daud, and the poet Abraham Ibn Ezra. Suspicious of the sincerity of the Jewish converts to Islam, Muslim "inquisitors" (i.e., antedating their Christian Spanish counterparts by three centuries) removed the children from such families, placing them in the care of Muslim educators 13 . Maimonides, the renowned philosopher and physician, experienced the Almohad persecutions, and had to flee Cordoba with his entire family in 1148, temporarily residing in Fez – disguised as a Muslim – before finding asylum in Fatimid Egypt.

Indeed, although Maimonides is frequently referred to as a paragon of Jewish achievement facilitated by the enlightened rule of Andalusia, his own words debunk this utopian view of the Islamic treatment of Jews:

..the Arabs have persecuted us severely, and passed baneful and discriminatory legislation against us…Never did a nation molest, degrade, debase, and hate us as much as they..

Ottoman Dhimmitude

Even the Turcophilic 19th century travel writer Ubicini acknowledged the oppressive burden of Ottoman dhimmitude in this moving depiction: 

The history of enslaved peoples is the same everywhere, or rather, they have no history. The years, the centuries pass without bringing any change to their situation. Generations come and go in silence. One might think they are afraid to awaken their masters, asleep alongside them. However, if you examine them closely you discover that this immobility is only superficial. A silent and constant agitation grips them. Life has entirely withdrawn into the heart. They resemble those rivers which have disappeared underground; if you put your ear to the earth, you can hear the muffled sound of their waters; then they re-emerge intact a few leagues away. Such is the state of the Christian populations of Turkey under Ottoman rule.

Ottoman Devshirme-janissary system

Scholars who have conducted serious, detailed studies of the devshirme-janissary system have made the following conclusions; Vryonis, Jr. for example, makes these deliberately understated, but cogent observations; 

…in discussing the devshirme we are dealing with the large numbers of Christians who, in spite of the material advantages offered by conversion to Islam, chose to remain members of a religious society which was denied first class citizenship. Therefore the proposition advanced by some historians, that the Christians welcomed the devshirme as it opened up wonderful opportunities for their children, is inconsistent with the fact that these Christians had not chosen to become Muslims in the first instance but had remained Christians. There is abundant testimony to the very active dislike with which they viewed the taking of their children. One would expect such sentiments given the strong nature of the family bond and given also the strong attachment to Christianity of those who had not apostacised to Islam. First of all the Ottomans capitalised on the general Christian fear of losing their children and used offers of devshirme exemption in negotiations for surrender of Christian lands. Such exemptions were included in the surrender terms granted to Jannina, Galata, the Morea, Chios, etc. Christians who engaged in specialised activities which were important to the Ottoman state were likewise exempt from the tax on their children by way of recognition of the importance of their labours for the empire. Exemption from this tribute was considered a privilege and not a penalty.

…there are other documents wherein their [i.e., the Christians] dislike is much more explicitly apparent. These include a series of Ottoman documents dealing with the specific situations wherein the devshirmes themselves have escaped from the officials responsible for collecting them. A firman… in 1601 [regarding the devshirme] provided the [Ottoman] officials with stern measures of enforcement, a fact which would seem to suggest that parents were not always disposed to part with their sons.

..to enforce the command of the known and holy fetva [fatwa] of Seyhul [Shaikh]- Islam. In accordance with this whenever some one of the infidel parents or some other should oppose the giving up of his son for the Janissaries, he is immediately hanged from his door-sill, his blood being deemed unworthy.”

Vasiliki Papoulia highlights the continuous desperate, often violent struggle of the Christian populations against this brutally imposed Ottoman levy:

It is obvious that the population strongly resented this measure [and the levy] could be carried out only by force. Those who refused to surrender their sons- the healthiest, the handsomest and the most intelligent- were on the spot put to death by hanging. Nevertheless we have examples of armed resistance. In 1565 a revolt took place in Epirus and Albania. The inhabitants killed the recruiting officers and the revolt was put down only after the sultan sent five hundred janissaries in support of the local sanjak-bey. We are better informed, thanks to the historic archives of Yerroia, about the uprising in Naousa in 1705 where the inhabitants killed the Silahdar Ahmed Celebi and his assistants and fled to the mountains as rebels. Some of them were later arrested and put to death..

Since there was no possibility of escaping [the levy] the population resorted to several subterfuges. Some left their villages and fled to certain cities which enjoyed exemption from the child levy or migrated to Venetian-held territories. The result was a depopulation of the countryside. Others had their children marry at an early age …Nicephorus Angelus… states that at times the children ran away on their own initiative, but when they heard that the authorities had arrested their parents and were torturing them to death, returned and gave themselves up. La Giulletiere cites the case of a young Athenian who returned from hiding in order to save his father’s life and then chose to die himself rather than abjure his faith. According to the evidence in Turkish sources, some parents even succeeded in abducting their children after they had been recruited. The most successful way of escaping recruitment was through bribery. That the latter was very widespread is evident from the large amounts of money confiscated by the sultan from corrupt officials. Finally, in their desperation the parents even appealed to the Pope and the Western powers for help.

Papoulia concludes:

there is no doubt that this heavy burden was one of the hardest tribulations of the Christian population.

Dhimmitude in Greece under Ottoman rule

A.E. Vacalopoulos, History of Macedonia, 1354-1833, Thessaloniki, 1973, pp. 67-74, 353-358, 636-652; "Background and Causes of the Greek Revolution", Neo-Hellenika, Vol. 2, 1975, pp.53-68; The Greek Nation, 1453-1669, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1976, Chaps. 1-4.

Vacalopoulos describes how jihad imposed dhimmitude under Ottoman rule provided critical motivation for the Greek Revolution (Background and Causes of the Greek Revolution, Neo-Hellenika, pp.54-55):

The Revolution of 1821 is no more than the last great phase of the resistance of the Greeks to Ottoman domination; it was a relentless, undeclared war, which had begun already in the first years of servitude.  The brutality of an autocratic regime, which was characterised by economic spoliation, intellectual decay and cultural retrogression, was sure to provoke opposition.  Restrictions of all kinds, unlawful taxation, forced labour, persecutions, violence, imprisonment, death, abductions of girls and boys and their confinement to Turkish harems, and various deeds of wantonness and lust, along with numerous less offensive excesses — all these were a constant challenge to the instinct of survival and they defied every sense of human decency.  The Greeks bitterly resented all insults and humiliations, and their anguish and frustration pushed them into the arms of rebellion.  There was no exaggeration in the statement made by one of the beys if Arta, when he sought to explain the ferocity of the struggle.  He said:  ‘We have wronged the rayas [dhimmis] (i.e. our Christian subjects) and destroyed both their wealth and honour; they became desperate and took up arms.  This is just the beginning and will finally lead to the destruction of our empire.’ The sufferings of the Greeks under Ottoman rule were therefore the basic cause of the insurrection; a psychological incentive was provided by the very nature of the circumstances.

Dhimmitude in Palestine

In his comprehensive study of 19th century Palestinian Jewry under Ottoman rule (The Jews of Palestine, pp. 168, 172-73), Professor Tudor Parfitt made these summary observations:

"…Inside the towns, Jews and other dhimmis were frequently attacked, wounded, and even killed by local Muslims and Turkish soldiers. Such attacks were frequently for trivial reasons: Wilson [in British Foreign Office correspondence] recalled having met a Jew who had been badly wounded by a Turkish soldier for not having instantly dismounted when ordered to give up his donkey to a soldier of the Sultan. Many Jews were killed for less. On occasion the authorities attempted to get some form of redress but this was by no means always the case: the Turkish authorities themselves were sometimes responsible for beating Jews to death for some unproven charge. After one such occasion [British Consul] Young remarked: ‘I must say I am sorry and surprised that the Governor could have acted so savage a part- for certainly what I have seen of him I should have thought him superior to such wanton inhumanity- but it was a Jew- without friends or protection- it serves to show well that it is not without reason that the poor Jew, even in the nineteenth century, lives from day to day in terror of his life’."

Dhimmitude during and after the Tanzimat period – Ottoman Empire

The Tanzimat, meaning reorganisation of the Ottoman Empire, was a period of reformation that began in 1839 and ended with the First Constitutional Era in 1876. The Tanzimat reform era was characterised by various attempts to modernise the Ottoman Empire, to secure its territorial integrity against nationalist movements and aggressive powers. The reforms encouraged Ottomanism among the diverse ethnic groups of the Empire, attempting to stem the tide of nationalist movements within the Ottoman Empire. The reforms attempted to integrate non-Muslims and non-Turks more thoroughly into Ottoman society by enhancing their civil liberties and granting them equality throughout the Empire.

Edouard Engelhardt, La Turquie et La Tanzimat, 2 Vols. In 1882, Paris; Engelhardt made these observations from his detailed analysis of the Tanzimat period, noting that a quarter century after the Crimean War (1853-56), and the second iteration of Tanzimat reforms, the same problems persisted:

Muslim society has not yet broken with the prejudices which make the conquered peoples subordinate…the raya [dhimmis] remain inferior to the Osmanlis; in fact he is not rehabilitated; the fanaticism of the early days has not relented…[even liberal Muslims rejected]…civil and political equality, that is to say, the assimilation of the conquered with the conquerors.

A systematic examination of the condition of the Christian rayas was conducted in the 1860s by British consuls stationed throughout the Ottoman Empire, yielding extensive primary source documentary evidence. [54]. Britain was then Turkey’s most powerful ally, and it was in her strategic interest to see that oppression of the Christians was eliminated, to prevent direct, aggressive Russian or Austrian intervention. On July 22, 1860, Consul James Zohrab sent a lengthy report from Sarajevo to his ambassador in Constantinople, Sir Henry Bulwer, analysing the administration of the provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, again, following the 1856 Tanzimat reforms. Referring to the reform efforts, Zohrab states:

I can safely say, [they] practically remain a dead letterwhile [this] does not extend to permitting the Christians to be treated as they formerly were treated, is so far unbearable and unjust in that it permits the Mussulmans to despoil them with heavy exactions. False imprisonments (imprisonment under false accusation) are of daily occurence. A Christian has but a small chance of exculpating himself when his opponent is a Mussulman (…) Christian evidence, as a rule, is still refused (…) Christians are now permitted to possess real property, but the obstacles which they meet with when they attempt to acquire it are so many and vexatious that very few have as yet dared to brave them Such being, generally speaking, the course pursued by the Government towards the Christians in the capital (Sarajevo) of the province where the Consular Agents of the different Powers reside and can exercise some degree of control, it may easily be guessed to what extend the Christians, in the remoter districts, suffer who are governed by Mudirs (governors) generally fanatical and unacquainted with the (new reforms of the) law..

Even the modern Ottomanist Roderick Davison (in "Turkish Attitudes Concerning Christian-Muslim Equality in the Nineteenth Century" American Historical Review, Vol. 59, pp. 848, 855, 859, 864) concedes, that the reforms failed, and offers an explanation based on Islamic beliefs intrinsic to the system of dhimmitude:

No genuine equality was ever attained…there remained among the Turks an intense Muslim feeling which could sometimes burst into an open fanaticism…More important than the possibility of fanatic outbursts, however, was the innate attitude of superiority which the Muslim Turk possessed. Islam was for him the true religion. Christianity was only a partial revelation of the truth, which Muhammad finally revealed in full; therefore Christians were not equal to Muslims in possession of truth. Islam was not only a way of worship, it was a way of life as well. It prescribed man’s relations to man, as well as to God, and was the basis for society, for law, and for government. Christians were therefore inevitably considered second-class citizens in the light of religious revelation—as well as by reason of the plain fact that they had been conquered by the Ottomans. This whole Muslim outlook was often summed up in the common term gavur (or kafir), which means ‘unbeliever’ or ‘infidel’, with emotional and quite uncomplimentary overtones. To associate closely or on terms of equality with the gavur was dubious at best. “Familiar association with heathens and infidels is forbidden to the people of Islam,” said Asim, an early nineteenth-century historian, “and friendly and intimate intercourse between two parties that are one to another as darkness and light is far from desirable”…The mere idea of equality, especially the anti-defamation clause of 1856, offended the Turks’ inherent sense of the rightness of things. “Now we can’t call a gavur a gavur”, it was said, sometimes bitterly, sometimes in matter-of-fact explanation that under the new dispensation the plain truth could no longer be spoken openly. Could reforms be acceptable which forbade calling a spade a spade?…The Turkish mind, conditioned by centuries of Muslim and Ottoman dominance, was not yet ready to accept any absolute equality…Ottoman equality was not attained in the Tanzimat period [i.e., mid to late 19th century, 1839-1876], nor yet after the Young Turk revolution of 1908…

Dhimmitude – Zorastrians in Iran

Boyce, A Persian Stronghold of Zoroastrianism, pp. 7-8; Napier Malcolm lived among the Zoroastrians in the central Iranian town of Yezd at the end of the 19th century. He documented the following in his narrative, Five Years in a Persian Town, New York, 1905, pp. 45-50:

Up to 1895 no Parsi (Zoroastrian) was allowed to carry an umbrella. Even during the time that I was in Yezd they could not carry one in town. Up to 1895 there was a strong prohibition upon eye-glasses and spectacles; up to 1885 they were prevented from wearing rings; their girdles had to be made of rough canvas, but after 1885 any white material was permitted. Up to 1896 the Parsis were obliged to twist their turbans instead of folding them. Up to 1898 only brown, grey, and yellow were allowed for the qaba [outer coat] or arkhaluq [under coat] (body garments), but after that all colours were permitted except blue, black, bright red, or green. There was also a prohibition against white stockings, and up to about 1880 the Parsis had to wear a special kind of peculiarly hideous shoe with a broad, turned-up toe. Up to 1885 they had to wear a torn cap. Up to 1880 they had to wear tight knickers, self-coloured, instead of trousers. Up to 1891 all Zoroastrians had to walk in town, and even in the desert they had to dismount if they met a Mussulman of any rank whatsoever. During the time that I was in Yezd they were allowed to ride in the desert, and only had to dismount if they met a big Mussulman. There were other similar dress restrictions too numerous and trifling to mention.

Then the houses of both the Parsis and the Jews, with the surrounding walls, had to be built so low that the top could be reached by a Mussulman with his hand extended; they might, however, dig down below the level of the road. The walls had to be splashed with white around the door. Double doors, the common form of Persian door, were forbidden, also rooms containing three or more windows. Bad-girs [Air-shafts] were still forbidden to Parsis while we were in Yezd, but in 1900 one of the bigger Parsi merchants gave a large present to the Governor and to the chief mujtahid (Mohammedan priest) to be allowed to build one. Upper rooms were also forbidden.

Up to about 1860 Parsis could not engage in trade. They used to hide things in their cellar rooms, and sell them secretly. They can now trade in the caravanserais or hostelries, but not in the bazaars, nor may they trade in linen drapery. Up to 1870 they were not permitted to have a school for their children.

The amount of the Jizya, or tax upon infidels, differed according to the wealth of the individual Parsi, but it was never less than two tomans [a sum of money, 10,000 dinars]. A toman is now worth about three shillings and eight pence, but it used to be worth much more. Even now, when money has much depreciated, it represents a labourer’s wage for ten days. The money must be paid on the spot, when the farrash [literally, a carpet sweeper. Really a servant, chiefly, outdoor], who was acting as collector, met the man. The farrash was at liberty to do what he liked when collecting the jizya. The man was not even allowed to go home and fetch the money, but was beaten at once until it was given. About 1865 a farrash collecting this tax tied a man to a dog, and gave a blow to each in turn.

About 1891 a mujtahid caught a Zoroastrian merchant wearing white stockings in one of the public squares of the town. He ordered the man to be beaten and the stockings taken off. About 1860 a man of seventy went to the bazaars in white trousers of rough canvas. They hit him about a good deal, took off his trousers, and sent him home with them under his arm. Sometimes Parsis would be made to stand on one leg in a mujtahid’s house until they consented to pay a considerable sum of money.

In the reign of the late Shah Nasirud Din, Manukji Limji, a British Parsi from India, was for a long while in Tehran as Parsi representative. Almost all the Parsi disabilities were withdrawn, the Jizya, the clothes restrictions, and those with regard to houses, but the law of inheritance was not altered, according to which a Parsi who becomes a Mussulman takes precedence of his Zoroastrian brothers and sisters. The Jizya was actually remitted, and also some of the restrictions as to houses, but the rest of the firman was a dead letter.

In 1898 the present Shah, Muzaffarud Din, gave a firman to Dinyar, the present Qalantar [Head Man] of the Parsi Anjuman, or Committee, revoking all the remaining Parsi disabilities, and also declaring it unlawful to use fraud or deception in making conversions of Parsis to Islam. This firman does not appear to have had any effect at all.

About 1883, after the firman of Nasirud Din Shah had been promulgated, one of the Parsis, Rustami Ardishiri Dinyar, built in Kucha Biyuk, one of the villages near Yezd, a house with an upper room, slightly above the height to which the Parsis used to be limited. He heard that the Mussulmans were going to kill him, so he fled by night to Tehran. They killed another Parsi, Tirandaz, in mistake for him, but did not destroy the house.

So the great difficulty was not to get the law improved, but rather to get it enforced. When Manukji [British Parsi and consul in Tehran] was at Yezd, about 1870, two Parsis were attacked by two Mussulmans outside the town, and one was killed, the other terribly wounded as they had tried to cut off his head. The Governor brought the criminals to Yezd, but did nothing to them. Manukji got leave to take them to Tehran. The Prime Minister, however, told him that no Mussulman would be killed for a Zardushti, or Zoroastrian, and that they would only be bastinadoed. About this time Manukji enquired whether it was true that the blood-price of a Zardushti was to be seven tomans. He got back the reply that it was to be a little over.

The Yezd Parsis have been helped considerably by agents from Bombay, who are British subjects, and of late years things have improved slightly.

f. Jihad in the Modern Era

Following its defeat at the walls of Vienna in 1683, Islam entered a period of strategic decline in which it was increasingly dominated by the rising European colonial powers. Due to its material weakness vis-à-vis the West, dar al-Islam was unable to prosecute large-scale military campaigns into infidel territory. The Islamic Empire, then ruled by the Ottoman Turks, was reduced to fending of the increasingly predatory European powers.

In 1856, Western pressure compelled the Ottoman government to suspend the dhimma under which the Empire’s non-Muslim subjects laboured. This provided hitherto unknown opportunities for social and personal improvement by the former dhimmis, but it also fomented resentment by orthodox Muslims who saw this as a violation of the Sharia and their Allah-given superiority over unbelievers.

By the late 19th century, tensions among the European subjects of the Empire broke out into the open when the Ottoman government massacred 30,000 Bulgarians in 1876 for allegedly rebelling against Ottoman rule. Following Western intervention that resulted in Bulgarian independence, the Ottoman government and its Muslim subjects were increasingly nervous about other non-Muslim groups seeking independence.

It was in this atmosphere that the first stage of the Armenian genocide took place in 1896 with the slaughter of some 250,000 Armenians. Both civilians and military personnel took place in the massacres. Peter Balakian, in his book, The Burning Tigris, documents the whole horrific story. But the massacres of the 1890s were only the prelude to the much larger holocaust of 1915, which claimed some 1.5 million lives. While various factors contributed to the slaughter, there is no mistaking that the massacres were nothing other than a jihad waged against the Armenians, no longer protected as they were by the dhimma. In 1914, as the Ottoman Empire entered World War I on the side of the central powers, an official anti-Christian jihad was proclaimed.

To promote the idea of jihad, the sheikh-ul-Islam’s {the most senior religious leader in the Ottoman Empire} published proclamation summoned the Muslim world to arise and massacre its Christian oppressors. “Oh Moslems,” the document read, “Ye who are smitten with happiness and are on the verge of sacrificing your life and your good for the cause of right, and of braving perils, gather now around the Imperial throne.” In the Ikdam, the Turkish newspaper that had just passed into German ownership, the idea of jihad was underscored: “The deeds of our enemies have brought down the wrath of God. A gleam of hope has appeared. All Mohammedans, young and old, men, women, and children must fulfil their duty. … If we do it, the deliverance of the subjected Mohammedan kingdoms is assured.” … “He who kills even one unbeliever,” one pamphlet read, “of those who rule over us, whether he does it secretly or openly, shall be rewarded by God.” (quoted in Balakian, The Burning Tigris, 169-70.)

The anti-Christian jihad culminated in 1922 at Smyrna, on the Mediterranean coast, where 150,000 Greek Christians were massacred by the Turkish army under the indifferent eye of Allied warships. All in, from 1896-1923, some 2.5 million Christians were killed, the first modern genocide, which to this day is denied by the Turkish government.

Since the break-up of the Islamic Empire following World War I, various jihads have been fought around the globe by the independent Muslim nations and sub-state jihadist groups. The most sustained effort has been directed against Israel, which has committed the unpardonable sin of rebuilding dar al-harb on land formerly a part of dar al-Islam. Other prominent jihads include that fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan, the Muslim Bosnians against the Serbs in the former Yugoslavia, the Muslim Albanians against the Serbs in Kosovo, and the Chechens against the Russians in the Caucasus. Jihads have also been waged throughout northern Africa, the Philippines, Thailand, Kashmir, and a host of other places throughout the world. In addition, the overwhelming majority of terrorist attacks around the world have been committed by Muslims, including, of course, the spectacular attacks of 9/11/01 (USA), 3/11/04 (Spain), and 7/7/05 (UK). (For a more comprehensive list of Muslim attacks, visit http://www.thereligionofpeace.com.)

The fact is, the percentage of conflicts in the world today that do not include Islam is pretty small. Islam is making a comeback.

3. Conclusion

The chief barrier today to a better understanding of Islam — apart, perhaps, from outright fear — is sloppy language. Let us take, to start with, the much-vaunted "war on terror." Upon scrutiny, the phrase "war on terror" makes as much sense as a war on "blitzkrieg," "bullets," or "strategic bombing." The "war on terror" implies that it is perfectly fine if the enemy seeks to destroy us — and, indeed, succeeds in doing so — as long as he does not employ "terror" in the process.

"Terrorism," it should be obvious, is a tactic or stratagem used to advance a goal; it is the goal of Islamic terrorism that we must come to understand, and this logically requires an understanding of Islam.

As we have seen, contrary to the widespread insistence that true Islam is pacific even if a handful of its adherents are violent, the Islamic sources make clear that engaging in violence against non-Muslims is a central and indispensable principle to Islam. Islam is less a personal faith than a political ideology that exists in a fundamental and permanent state of war with non-Islamic civilisations, cultures, and individuals. The Islamic holy texts outline a social, governmental, and economic system for all mankind. Those cultures and individuals who do not submit to Islamic governance exist in an ipso facto state of rebellion with Allah and must be forcibly brought into submission. The misbegotten term "Islamo-fascism" is wholly redundant: Islam itself is a kind of fascism that achieves its full and proper form only when it assumes the powers of the state.

The spectacular acts of Islamic terrorism in the late 20th and early 21st centuries are but the most recent manifestation of a global war of conquest that Islam has been waging since the days of the Prophet Muhammad in the 7th Century AD and that continues apace today. This is the simple, glaring truth that is staring the world today in the face — and which has stared it in the face numerous times in the past — but which it seems few today are willing to contemplate.

It is important to realise that we have been talking about Islam — not Islamic "fundamentalism," "extremism," "fanaticism," "Islamo-fascism," or "Islamism," but Islam proper, Islam in its orthodox form as it has been understood and practiced by right-believing Muslims from the time of Muhammad to the present. The mounting episodes of Islamic terrorism in the late 20th and early 21st centuries are due largely to the geo-strategic changes following the end of the Cold War and the growing technical options available to terrorists.

With the collapse of Soviet hegemony over much of the Muslim world, coupled with the burgeoning wealth of the Muslim oil-producing countries, the Muslim world increasingly possesses the freedom and means to support jihad around the globe. In short, the reason that Muslims are once again waging war against the non-Muslim world is because they can.

It is paramount to note, however, that, even if no major terrorist attack ever occurs on Western soil again, Islam still poses a mortal danger to the West. A halt to terrorism would simply mean a change in Islam’s tactics — perhaps indicating a longer-term approach that would allow Muslim immigration and higher birth rates to bring Islam closer to victory before the next round of violence. It cannot be overemphasised that Muslim terrorism is a symptom of Islam that may increase or decrease in intensity while Islam proper remains permanently hostile.

Muhammad Taqi Partovi Samzevari, in his “Future of the Islamic Movement” (1986), sums up the Islamic worldview.

Our own Prophet … was a general, a statesman, an administrator, an economist, a jurist and a first-class manager all in one. … In the Qur’an’s historic vision Allah’s support and the revolutionary struggle of the people must come together, so that Satanic rulers are brought down and put to death. A people that is not prepared to kill and to die in order to create a just society cannot expect any support from Allah. The Almighty has promised us that the day will come when the whole of mankind will live united under the banner of Islam, when the sign of the Crescent, the symbol of Muhammad, will be supreme everywhere. … But that day must be hastened through our Jihad, through our readiness to offer our lives and to shed the unclean blood of those who do not see the light brought from the Heavens by Muhammad in his mi’raj {“nocturnal voyages to the ‘court’ of Allah”}. … It is Allah who puts the gun in our hand. But we cannot expect Him to pull the trigger as well simply because we are faint-hearted.

It must be emphasised that all of the analysis provided here derives from the Islamic sources themselves and is not the product of critical Western scholarship. (Indeed, most modern Western scholarship of Islam is hardly “critical” in any meaningful sense.) It is Islam’s self-interpretation that necessitates and glorifies violence, not any foreign interpretation of it.

4. Frequently Asked Questions

There are a handful of questions that invariably arise when the point is made that Islam is violent. These questions for the most part are misleading or irrelevant and do not contest the actual evidence or arguments that violence is inherent to Islam. Nonetheless, they have proven rhetorically effective in deflecting serious scrutiny from Islam, and so I deal with some of them here.

a. What about the Crusades?

The obvious response to this question is, "Well, what about them?" Violence committed in the name of other religions is logically unconnected to the question of whether Islam is violent. But, by mentioning the Crusades, the hope of the Islamic apologist is to draw attention away from Islamic violence and paint religions in general as morally equivalent.

In both the Western academia and media as well as in the Islamic world, the Crusades are viewed as wars of aggression fought by bloody-minded Christians against peaceful Muslims. While the Crusades were certainly bloody, they are more accurately understood as a belated Western response to centuries of jihad than as an unprovoked, unilateral attack. Muslim rule in the Holy Land began in the second half of the 7th century during the Arab wave of jihad with the conquests of Damascus and Jerusalem by the second "rightly-guided Caliph," Umar. After the initial bloody jihad, Christian and Jewish life there was tolerated within the strictures of the dhimma and the Muslim Arabs generally permitted Christians abroad to continue to make pilgrimage to their holy sites, a practice which proved lucrative for the Muslim state. In the 11th century, the relatively benign Arab administration of the Holy Land was replaced with that of Seljuk Turks, due to civil war in the Islamic Empire. Throughout the latter half of the 11th century, the Turks waged war against the Christian Byzantine Empire and pushed it back from its strongholds in Antioch and Anatolia (now Turkey). In 1071, Byzantine forces suffered a crushing defeat at the Battle of Manzikert in what is now Eastern Turkey. The Turks resumed the jihad in the Holy Land, abusing, robbing, enslaving, and killing Christians there and throughout Asia Minor. They threatened to cut off Christendom from its holiest site, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, rebuilt under Byzantine stewardship after it was destroyed by Caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah in 1009.

It was in this context of a renewed jihad in the Middle East that the Roman Pope, Urban II, issued a call in 1095 for Western Christians to come to the aid of their Eastern cousins (and seems to have harbored the hope of claiming Jerusalem for the Papacy after the Great Schism with Eastern Christianity in 1054). This "armed pilgrimage," in which numerous civilians as well as soldiers took part, would eventually become known years later as the First Crusade. The idea of a "crusade" as we now understand that term, i.e., a Christian "holy war," developed years later with the rise of such organisations as the Knights Templar that made "crusading" a way of life. It worth noting that the most ardent Crusaders, the Franks, were exactly those who had faced jihad and razzias for centuries along the Franco-Spanish border and knew better than most the horrors to which Muslims subjected Christians. At the time of the First Crusade, the populations of Asia Minor, Syria, and Palestine, though ruled by Muslims, were still overwhelmingly Christian. The "Crusading" campaigns of the Western Christian armies were justified at the time as a war liberating the Eastern Christians, whose population, lands, and culture had been devastated by centuries of jihad and dhimmitude. Conquering territory for God in the mode of jihad was an alien idea to Christianity and it should not be surprising that it eventually died out in the West and never gained ascendancy in the East.

Following the very bloody capture of Jerusalem in 1099 by the Latin armies and the establishment of the Crusader States in Edessa, Antioch, and Jerusalem, the Muslim and Christian forces fought a see-saw series of wars, in which both parties were guilty of the usual gamut of wartime immorality. Over time, even with reinforcing Crusades waged from Europe, the Crusader States, strung out on precarious lines of communication, slowly succumbed to superior Muslim power. In 1271, the last Christian citadel, Antioch, fell to the Muslims. No longer having to divert forces to subdue the Christian beachhead on the Eastern Mediterranean, the Muslims regrouped for a 400-year-long jihad against Southern and Eastern Europe, which twice reached as far as Vienna before it was halted. In geo-strategic terms, the Crusades can be viewed as an attempt by the West to forestall its own destruction at the hands of Islamic jihad by carrying the fight to the enemy. It worked for a while.

Significantly, while the West has for some time now lamented the Crusades as mistaken, there has never been any mention from any serious Islamic authority of regret for the centuries and centuries of jihad and dhimmitude perpetrated against other societies. But this is hardly surprising: while religious violence contradicts the fundamentals of Christianity, religious violence is written into Islam’s DNA.

b. If Islam is violent, why are so many Muslims peaceful?

This question is a bit like asking, "If Christianity teaches humility, tolerance, and forgiveness, why are so many Christians arrogant, intolerant, and vindictive?" The answer in both cases is obvious: in any religion or ideology there will be many who profess, but do not practice, its tenets. Just as it is often easier for a Christian to hit back, play holier-than-thou, or disdain others, so it is often easier for a Muslim to stay at home rather than embark on jihad. Hypocrites are everywhere.

Furthermore, there are also people who do not really understand their own faith and so act outside of its prescribed boundaries. In Islam, there are likely many Muslims who do not really understand their religion thanks to the importance of reciting the Quran in Arabic but not having to understand it. It is the words and sounds of the Quran that attract Allah’s merciful attention rather than Quranic knowledge on the part of the supplicant. Especially in the West, Muslims here are more likely to be attracted by Western ways (which explains why they are here) and less likely to act violently against the society to which they may have fled from an Islamic tyranny abroad.

However, in any given social context, as Islam takes greater root — increasing numbers of followers, the construction of more mosques and "cultural centers," etc. — the greater the likelihood that some number of its adherents will take its violent precepts seriously. This is the problem that the West faces today.

c. What about the violent passages in the Bible?

First, violent Biblical passages are irrelevant to the question of whether Islam is violent.

Second, the violent passages in the Bible certainly do no amount to a standing order to commit violence against the rest of the world. Unlike the Quran, the Bible is a huge collection of documents written by different people at different times in different contexts, which allows for much greater interpretative freedom. The Quran, on the other hand, comes exclusively from one source: Muhammad. It is through the life of Muhammad that the Quran must be understood, as the Quran itself says. His wars and killings both reflect and inform the meaning of the Quran. Furthermore, the strict literalism of the Quran means that there is no room for interpretation when it comes to its violent injunctions. As it is through the example of Christ, the "Prince of Peace," that Christianity interprets its scriptures, so it is through the example of the warlord and despot Muhammad that Muslims understand the Quran.

d. Could an Islamic "Reformation" pacify Islam?

As should be plain to anyone who has examined the Islamic sources, to take the violence out of Islam would require it to jettison two things: the Quran as the word of Allah and Muhammad as Allah’s prophet. In other words, to pacify Islam would require its transformation into something that it is not. The Western Christian Reformation, that is often used as an example, was an attempt (successful or not) to recover the essence of Christianity, namely, the example and teachings of Christ and the Apostles. Trying to get back to the example of Muhammad would have very different consequences. Indeed, one may say that Islam is today going through its "Reformation" with the increasing jihadist activity around the globe. Today, Muslims of the Salafi ("early generations") school are doing exactly that in focusing on the life of Muhammad and his early successors. These reformers are known to their detractors by the derogative term Wahhabi. Drawing their inspiration from Muhammad and the Quran, they are invariably disposed to violence. The unhappy fact is that Islam today is what it has been fourteen centuries: violent, intolerant, and expansionary. It is folly to think that we, in the course of a few years or decades, are going to be able to change the basic world outlook of a foreign civilisation. Islam’s violent nature must be accepted as given; only then will we be able to come up with appropriate policy responses that can improve our chances of survival.

e. What about the history of Western colonialism in the Islamic world?

Following the defeat of the Ottoman army outside Vienna on September 11, 1683 by Polish forces, Islam went into a period of strategic decline in which it was overwhelmingly dominated by the European powers. Much of dar al-Islam was colonised by the European powers who employed their superior technology and exploited the rivalries within the Muslim world to establish colonial rule.

While many of the practices of the Western imperial powers in the governance of their colonies were clearly unjust, it is utterly unwarranted to regard Western imperialism — as it often is — as an endemic criminal enterprise that is the basis of modern resentment against the West. It was only due to the assertive role of the Western powers that modern nation-states such as India, Pakistan, Israel, South Africa, Zimbabwe, etc. came to exist in the first place. Without Western organisation, these areas would have likely remained chaotic and tribal as they had existed for centuries.

When one looks at the post-colonial world, it is apparent that the most successful post-colonial nations have a common attribute: they are not Muslim. The United States, Australia, Hong Kong, Israel, India, and the South American nations clearly outshine their Muslim-majority post-colonial counterparts — Iraq, Algeria, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, etc. — by just about any standard.

f. How can a violent political ideology be the second-largest and fastest-growing religion on earth?

It should not be surprising that a violent political ideology is proving so attractive to much of the world. The attractive power of fascist ideas has been proven through history. Islam combines the interior comfort provided by religious faith with the outward power of a world-transforming political ideology. Like the revolutionary violence of Communism, jihad offers an altruistic justification for waging death and destruction. Such an ideology will naturally draw to it violent-minded people while encouraging the non-violent to take up arms themselves or support violence indirectly. Because something is popular hardly makes it benign.

Furthermore, the areas in which Islam is growing most rapidly, such as Western Europe, have been largely denuded of their religious and cultural heritage, which leaves Islam as the only vibrant ideology available to those in search of meaning.

g. Is it fair to paint all Islamic schools of thought as violent?

Islamic apologists often point out that Islam is not a monolith and that there are differences of opinion among the different Islamic schools of thought. That is true, but, while there are differences, there are also common elements. Just as Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant Christians differ on many aspects of Christianity, still they accept important common elements. So it is with Islam. One of the common elements to all Islamic schools of thought is jihad, understood as the obligation of the Ummah to conquer and subdue the world in the name of Allah and rule it under Sharia law. The four Sunni Madhhabs (schools of fiqh [Islamic religious jurisprudence]) — Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, and Hanbali — all agree that there is a collective obligation on Muslims to make war on the rest of the world. Furthermore, even the schools of thought outside Sunni orthodoxy, including Sufism and the Jafari (Shia) school, agree on the necessity of jihad. When it comes to matters of jihad, the different schools disagree on such questions as whether infidels must first be asked to convert to Islam before hostilities may begin (Osama bin Laden asked America to convert before Al-Qaeda’s attacks); how plunder should be distributed among victorious jihadists; whether a long-term Fabian strategy (Wearing your opponent down) against dar al-harb is preferable to an all-out frontal attack; etc.

h. What about the great achievements of Islamic civilisation through history?

Islamic achievements in the fields of art, literature, science, medicine, etc. in no way refute the fact that Islam is intrinsically violent. Roman and Greek civilisations produced many great achievements in these fields as well, but also cultivated powerful traditions of violence. While giving the world the brilliance of Virgil and Horace, Rome was also a home to gladiatorial combat, the slaughter of Christians, and, at times, rampant militarism.

Furthermore, the achievements of Islamic civilisation are pretty modest given its 1300 year history when compared to Western, Hindu, or Confucian civilisations. Many Islamic achievements were in fact the result of non-Muslims living within the Islamic Empire or of recent converts to Islam. One of the greatest Islamic thinkers, Averroes, ran afoul of Islamic orthodoxy through his study of non-Islamic (Greek) philosophy and his preference for Western modes of thought. Once the dhimmi populations of the Empire dwindled toward the middle of the second millennium AD, Islam began its social and cultural "decline."

Original source (original source have been further developed/expanded by author of 2083):

http://jihadwatch.org/islam101/ by Gregory M. Davis

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