Historical Amnesia: Naming Jihad and Dhimmitude by Bat Ye'or - The Myth of Islamic Tolerance: How Islamic Law Treats Non-Muslims by Robert Spencer

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Historical Amnesia: Naming Jihad and Dhimmitude by Bat Ye'or - The Myth of Islamic Tolerance: How Islamic Law Treats Non-Muslims by Robert Spencer

Publisher:Prometheus Books, January 31, 2005
ISBN:1591022495 Buy on Amazon
The Law

The Law says:
This essay by Bat Ye'or, included in the book edited by Robert Spencer, is an absolutely essential explanation of Dhimmitude.

Extract:By Bat Ye'or

In Genesis[1] , God has all the animals pass in front of Adam to be named. Naming is to define an object for it to be recognised by its characteristics when it next appears. A thing without a name escapes the understanding, which does not register it and consequently can not recognise it. This can be verified also in the realm of abstract knowledge. It applies as well to the concepts of jihad and dhimmitude yet they represent a political system which has functioned without interruption and virtually without change on three continents for fourteen centuries. Although today it is reappearing with renewed vigour, this system - because it has not been given a name - is not recognized. It is even totally ignored, even denied, whereas the proofs of its past and present existence are obvious and manifold.

Although they are intrinsically linked, jihad and dhimmitude form two separate domains. The first represents a collection of principles, strategies and tactics of wars and conquests, based on Muslim religious ideas relating to infidels. The second represents the body of laws which the Islamic state imposes on all non-Muslim populations (dhimmis) on lands conquered and Islamized by jihad. Dhimmitude encompasses the way of life mandated by the commands of the shari’a for these subjected indigenous peoples.

A considerable number of chronicles written by Muslims and non-Muslims exist containing information on the methods and development of jihad over the centuries. These texts make it possible to establish the synchronicity between these Islamic military practices and the prescriptions of jihad, formulated by the founders of the four schools of Islamic jurisprudence as early as the eighth century. These rules of jihad are still taught in Islamic schools and institutes in Muslim countries, Europe and the Americas. The wars currently waged by Muslim states or groups in Israel, the Sudan, Nigeria, Kashmir, the Philippines, Indonesia, Chechnia and the USA reproduce the classic strategy of jihad. With the technology of the twenty-first-century this modern jihad reproduces the ideological principles of the jihad against infidels drawn up in the eighth century. It reveals the easily identifiable features of a worldwide jihad integrated into the process of globalization. It is easy to show the way in which current practices of war conform to the rules of jihad according to the shari'a. For example, the military conscription of pubescent and pre-pubescent children was used in the Iraq-Iran war, in the jihad against Israel (intifada) and by the Islamist militias in the Sudan. The same is true of the refusal to return enemy corpses (Lebanese Hizbollah); the taking and ransoming of hostages (Lebanon, Chechnya, the Philippines); the raids on villages and the abduction and enslavement of women and children (Sudan, Indonesia); and the terrorist campaigns against civilians regarded as enemies of Islam (infidels and apostates) and consequently deprived of all rights (terrorism in Israel, India, the USA and Algeria).

Other manifestations of jihad include the jihad of the pen (propaganda) and jihad by way of buying hearts and minds (corrupting politicians, academics and intellectuals). Jihad can also consist of dividing the enemy camp. For example, anti-Zionism and anti-Americanism in Europe is largely the result of political pressures exerted by the Arab-Islamic world on European political parties captivated by the oil mantra. Anti-Americanism divides two allied continents and weakens still further a Europe eroded by massive immigration, terrorism and its economic dependence on oil. The wave of Judeophobia currently raging in Europe aims at isolating and terrorizing the Jewish communities to make them abandon their solidarity with Israel and to manipulate them against it. This policy, conceived in the Arab world, is implemented in Europe by the criminal acts of Muslim immigrants perpetrated against Jews. It is not combatted by governments that are impotent in the face of Muslim criminality and prefer to deny it, at the same time as they encourage it through a biased anti-Israel policy. Lastly, the Judeo-Christian rapprochement, so essential to the two Peoples of the Bible, is torpedoed by the Islamic exploitation of the traditional antisemitism/anti-Zionism of the Euro-Arab pro-Palestinian lobbies.

Thus, those pulling the strings of the jihad against the infidels hide behind a screen of anti-American and anti-Zionist Westerners. An Egyptian lawyer, Fouad Abdel-Moneim Riad, who was referred to in a recent interview as a former judge of an unspecified court on war crimes, talks of creating an international moral opinion. He calls for universal mobilization of the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and of the civil society of the Arab and international world in order to set up a 'moral tribunal', which would condemn Israel for war crimes. 'Such a tribunal', says magistrate Riad, 'would be most effective if it were formed of great thinkers from outside of the Arab world'[2]. Riad makes it clear that the condemnation for war crimes must not be limited to a few culpable politicians, as happened with Hitler, but must embrace all the people of Israel. This is an example of the essentialist and collective category of the demonization of the infidel which is a fundamental notion of jihad. Riad's idea soon found support from Archbishop Desmond Tutu in an article entitled, “Build moral pressure to end the occupation.” Consciously or not, the archbishop became the Christian spokesman for Riad by describing the stages of this orchestration of hatred against Israel, comparing apartheid with Israel's self-defence against terrorism, under the accusation of 'occupation’[3].

As for dhimmitude, it dissolves in the limbo of the unknowable, having never been analysed or given a name until recently. It is replaced by the terms 'golden age' and 'exemplary tolerance', propagated by pro-Muslim European lobbies. Yet dhimmitude can be observed today in most Muslim countries. A recently published book by Canon Patrick Sookhdeo throws light on some aspects of the existence of non-Muslims in Pakistan, a country governed by the shari'a[4]. This description reveals a pattern of suffering that the historical chronicles only suggest, since most often the victims disappeared without trace. And yet, however painful it may be, this condition is not an exact replica of the past because no Muslim country, not even Saudi Arabia and the ex-Taliban regime, imposes the requirements of the shari'a in full, as was the case in the past when it constituted the sole jurisdiction in the Muslim empires. Thus, the condition known as 'bonded labour' is of particular interest to the historian of dhimmitude because it was the condition of the Jewish and Christian peasantries, so often described in their chronicles from the eighth to the nineteenth centuries. Today, in Pakistan, this subservience is still maintained by fiscal exploitation and arbitrary indebtedness which lead to expropriation and the slavery system. Likewise, Sookhdeo demonstrates how the inferior status of the non-Muslim can validate an abuse, in theory forbidden by law, and make it irreversible, as with the abduction of Christian women. This crime, also practised in Egypt today, is a permanent component of dhimmitude.

The institution of jihad-dhimmitude constitutes a homogeneous modern pattern rooted in fourteen centuries of existence. As far as I know it has never been subject to the smallest criticism by Muslim theologians. The ideology of the jihad against the infidels and its stipulations, so often described in detail by Muslim and Christian chroniclers - namely massacres, deportations, slavery, territorial dispossession - has never given rise to any examination. On the contrary, far from being condemned, jihad is fervently glorified and piously emulated. Judeo-Christian societies, trained to constant and rigorous self-criticism, find this total absence of relativism and historical objectivity bewildering. There are multiple reasons for it, but the principal cause lies in the fact that the eighth century Muslim theologians rooted the institute ion of jihad-dhimmitude in the Koran and the Sunna of the Prophet, that is to say his life, his words and his actions. These two sources are the foundation of the Islamic religion, jurisdiction and civilisation. Muslim doctrine postulates as an absolute axiom the total conformity of the divine will with the revelation (Koran) made to the Prophet, and with his words and his actions (Sunna).

A small booklet entitled Islam. The Essentials, published in 1992 by the Islamic Foundation, England lists the essential points of the faith. Among them, point six declares that Muhammad is 'the Perfect Ideal for Mankind, the perfect servant of Allah and hence the complete and the ideally balanced manifestation of the attributes of Allah.' Point eight specifies that the believer must worship Allah according to the revelations made in the Koran, by the method prescribed by Muhammad, 'and hence in accordance with his sayings and practice, known as Hadith or Sunnah'. It is this doctrinal position which prevents any criticism or change.

Jihad and dhimmitude are compulsorily commanded by the shari'a, the sacred Islamic law, formulated by the jurists after the conquest of territories stretching from Portugal to the Indus. Their institutions are at the heart of the dynamic of Islamization specific to Muslim history and civilisation which developed among the conquered infidel majorities. To criticize these institutions would throw doubt on the moral legitimacy of the Islamization of the infidels' countries which they have achieved. Further, this Islamization is commanded by the dogma which proclaims the mission incumbent on the Islamic community. This mission consists of imposing the law of Allah on all mankind. To challenge the legitimacy of jihad rehabilitates infidelity, Unbelief (kufr), the incarnation of Evil opposed to the Good (i.e. Islam), and discredits the image of the Muslim jihadist fighter. Restoring the balance in this way is inconsistent with verse 4:140, 'Allah will not grant the unbelievers any way over the believers'. Moreover, it is this absolute demonization of the world of Infidelity which in the past had determined - and still determines today - the dogmatic rejection of its culture and influence or their adoption in an Islamized form. Thus, the Organization of the Islamic Conference has promulgated the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam (1990) which, being in accordance with the shari'a, supercedes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). This same cultural anti-Western trend has led to the creation in 1981 of an International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), an organization which aimed at the Islamization of Knowledge by relating it to the shari'a[5].

If one understands, from the Muslim point of view, the theological arguments behind this lack of criticism, how can this historical negationism in the Western democracies be explained? The taboo which masks this subject leads to the claim that jihad has not made victims. Censorship presents dhimmitude in Andalusia and elsewhere under the aegis of a caliph applying the shari'a - complete with harems and slaves, the majority of whom were Christians - as a perfect model of multi-cultural societies for the West in the twenty-first century. This general misinformation enjoys wide outside financial support; and at the political level it justifies the European Union's laxity on the immigration question. Widely spread and taught, this myth is in keeping with Europe's security concerns and its policies of appeasement and conciliation toward Muslim countries. Servile flattery is the ransom for economic and terrorist reprisals. Quite recently Turkey applied pressure on the United States, Switzerland, France and Israel to prevent recognition of the Armenian genocide (1915-17). Thus, the West has barricaded itself into a historical negationism which is the cornerstone of its economic, strategic and security relationships with Muslim countries.

In the context of jihad-dhimmitude it should also be noted that Islamic law imposes the same status on Jews and Christians. The difference in the ways in which these two communities have evolved is linked to external demographic and political factors. At the beginning of the conquests, the Christians constituted immense majorities equipped with powerful religious and juridical institutions, capable of constituting a threat to the immigrant Muslim minority. Despite their divisions, the Muslims always suspected them of allegiance to hostile Christendoms (dar-al-harb, region of war). Depending on circumstances, these two factors specific to the Christian dhimmi played an ambivalent role in the course of history, causing sometimes bloody reprisals which spared the Jews, and sometimes preferential treatment obtained by pressure or money from the Western powers. By contrast, the vulnerability of the Jews, lacking outside protection, led to the disintegration of Palestinian Jewry by Arab colonization, and to the decline and even in some cases the disappearance of the numerous Jewish diasporas of Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Persia and Andalusia in the twelfth century.

In the nineteenth century, the destinies of the two communities totally diverged in the Middle East. Some Lebanese and Syrian Christian movements militated on behalf of Arab nationalism. This policy, conceived by France and the Papacy, aimed at unifying Christians and Muslims in one ethnic and cultural identity in order to eliminate the religious context of dhimmitude. Arabism, propagated among the Christian dhimmis by missionaries, strengthened the influence in the Holy Land of the Holy See and France, sole protector of the Holy Places of Christendom. From its beginnings, the Holy See and France utilised this movement to cement an Islamo-Christian alliance and destroy Zionism, which was supported by Protestant England. Thus, the religious and political rivalries of Europe were played out by the inter-dhimmi conflicts. During the Second World War, Christian and Muslim Arab nationalists - notably from Palestine - supported the Fascist and Nazi regimes.

A number of Eastern Christians were opposed to Arab nationalism which denied their ethnic identity, their culture, their history and their rights in their country, since Christianity had grown up in the ancient civilizations of the Orient well before Arab Islam was imported with the invaders. These Christians also rejected the extreme Judeophobia which this movement spread. In addition they denounced the revival of dhimmitude in Arab nationalism and campaigned for autonomous Christian territories in Lebanon and Iraq. The failure of these movements, mercilessly combatted by the European colonial powers and broken by bloody Muslim reprisals, fed a large flow of Christian emigration from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The Jews rejected Arab nationalism, a racist, Judeophobe, anti-Christian, and negationist ideology which concealed the history, the civilizations and the rights of the non-Arab peoples of the Middle East. Faced with Arab pogroms and fearing the fate of the Armenians, the Jews of Arab countries, after the Second World War, emigrated en masse in tragic conditions, abandoning all their possessions in these lands of dhimmitude where for centuries they had been exploited, persecuted and degraded.

Today, Arab-Muslim behaviour towards non-Muslims has scarcely evolved since the seventh century. Israel, which symbolizes the liberation from dhimmitude of the Jewish people in their homeland, is attacked by jihad, while the remaining Christian communities live in Muslim countries under a system of dhimmitude in a precarious present and an uncertain future. The tragic consequences of Arab nationalism were revealed after the decolonization of the Muslim countries and in the process of their re-Islamization, which is bringing back the shari'a and consequently a modern dhimmitude for the Christians, and the jihad threat against the West. Thus, the jihad-dhimmitude institution remains stronger than ever.

This situation is the result of the negationist culture imposed by Arab nationalism which, in its war against Zionism, replaced the history of jihad-dhimmitude by the myth of perfect Islamo-Christian co-existence. Christian Arab nationalists destroyed their memory and their dhimmi identity, replacing them with an imaginary Arab origin. They fought - as had the janissaries in the past - against the liberation movements of their Christian brothers in order to keep them in the dhimmitude of Arabism. Ardent defenders of Islamic interests in the West, they made every effort to graft on to this amnesia a catalogue of Christian guilt toward Muslims and the latter's victimization in order to create an artificial symmetry between Islamo-Christian relations and Judeo-Christian relations.

As Arab nationalism had been conceived and imposed by Europe, this misinformation prospered there, aggravated by circumstances connected with the expansion of the oil industries and international terrorism. In this way Europe has evolved into Eurabia, a new land of dhimmitude following the traditional pattern. The European ministers of Eurabia, like the Christian dhimmi notables, obey the commands of internal and external Islamist terrorism. While the dangers of an international nuclear jihad grew stronger, Eurabia, to assert its existence, fulminated against Israel, accusing it of threatening world peace, by its refusal to surrender to Palestinian terror. The media's onslaught against Israel was encouraged by political circles. The general insecurity which is destroying democratic civil institutions, and the anti-Jewish criminal attacks, testify to the incompetence of the minister-notables of Eurabia. Like the dhimmi, whose exemplary condition they had vaunted, they are forced to deny the antisemitic rampages since they are powerless to stop clandestine immigration, or Muslim criminality without incurring economic and terrorist reprisals. Thus, historical amnesia has led to political impotence and the servitude of dhimmitude, which is constantly gaining ground.

This text was prepared in 2002 at an editor’s request, but was never previously published.

  1. Hebrew Bible Genesis 2:18-21
  2. Al-Ahram, 'The battle for a moral world', 16-22 May 2002, p. 8
  3. International Herald Tribune, 14 June 2002.
  4. Patrick Sookhdeo, A People Betrayed. The Impact of Islamization on the Christian Community in Pakistan, Christian Focus Publications and Isaac Publishing: U.K., 2002.
  5. Amber Haque (ed.), Muslims and Islamization in North America: Problems & Prospects, Amana publications and A. S. Nordeen: Maryland, 1999.