Many (if not most) of you have already seen this at LGF, but I had been planning to put it up already, and it is so significant that I didn't want to let it go by unremarked. La Civiltà Cattolica, a Jesuit magazine in Rome that enjoys semi-official status in the Catholic Church, has published an absolutely scathing criticism of dhimmitude: the inferior status that Christians suffer in Islamic societies.
This is extraordinarily important: it represents the first indication that any Catholic Church officials recognize the dimensions of the religious conflict that jihadists are waging against Christians and others around the world. (For some non-Christian perspectives on this jihad, check out the three Hindu websites that I linked to this morning.) Up to now the signals have all been in the other direction: the Pope has been a relentless proponent of uncritical "dialogue" with Islam; he even kissed the Qur'an during an audience with several Muslim officials from Iraq in 1999. But La Civiltà Cattolica is not just any magazine; as the article here from La Chiesa tells us, "Every one of its articles is reviewed by the Vatican secretary of state before publication. So the magazine reflects his thought faithfully."
A few important parts of the article, with comments:
"In conclusion, we may state in historical terms that in all the places where Islam imposed itself by military force, which has few historical parallels for its rapidity and breadth, Christianity, which had been extraordinarily vigorous and rooted for centuries, practically disappeared or was reduced to tiny islands in an endless Islamic sea. It is not easy to explain how that could have happened. [...]"
It's especially hard to explain for people who cling to "Religion of Peace" fantasies. But the article correctly goes on to say that it would be too simple to say simply that these Christians were all killed. As I explain in detail in Onward Muslim Soldiers, Christians and Jews are allowed to practice their religions under Islamic law, but with severe restrictions. Read on:
"According to Islamic law, the world is divided into three parts: dar al-harb (the house of war), dar al-islam (the house of Islam), and dar al-'ahd (the house of accord); that is, the countries with which a treaty was stipulated."
Last year on the Michael Coren Show in Toronto a learned and soft-spoken Muslim professor protested, "But you are talking about concepts devised in the Middle Ages!" when Dr. Anis Shorrosh, who was on the show with me, brought up this distinction. Yet he did not and could not truthfully say that these Medieval distinctions form no part of the way many Muslims think of the world even today.
"As for the countries belonging to the 'house of war,' Islamic canon law recognizes no relations with them other than 'holy war' (jihad), which signifies an 'effort' in the way of Allah and has two meanings, both of which are equally essential and must not be dissociated, as if one could exist without the other. In its primary meaning, jihad indicates the "effort" that the Muslim must undertake to be faithful to the precepts of the Koran and so improve his "submission" (islam) to Allah; in the second, it indicates the "effort" that the Muslim must undertake to "fight in the way of Allah," which means fighting against the infidels and spreading Islam throughout the world. Jihad is a precept of the highest importance, so much so that it is sometimes counted among the fundamental precepts of Islam, as its sixth 'pillar'."
The only meaning of jihad you will get from American Muslim spokesmen is the first. But radicals are acting on the second all over the world today.
"Obedience to the precept of the 'holy war' explains why the history of Islam is one of unending warfare for the conquest of infidel lands. [...] In particular, all of Islamic history is dominated by the idea of the conquest of the Christian lands of Western Europe and of the Eastern Roman Empire, whose capital was Constantinople. Thus, through many centuries, Islam and Christianity faced each other in terrible battles, which led on one side to the conquest of Constantinople (1453), Bulgaria, and Greece, and on the other, to the defeat of the Ottoman empire in the naval battle of Lepanto (1571)."
Note that that unending warfare was initiated by the Muslim armies that swept into Syria and other Christian areas of the Middle East within just a few years of the death of Muhammad in 632. The first Crusade wasn't called until 1095. Have you heard that Christian-Muslim enmity began with the Christian Crusades? I have, again and again. But it is a falsehood.
"But the conquering spirit of Islam did not die after Lepanto. The Islamic advance into Europe was definitively halted only in 1683, when Vienna was liberated from the Ottoman siege by the Christian armies under the command of John III Sobieski, the king of Poland."
September 11, 1683, to be exact, when the siege of Vienna was broken. You can be sure that this date burns in the heart of Osama bin Laden.
"In reality, for almost a thousand years Europe was under constant threat from Islam, which twice put its survival in serious danger."
And is doing so again, but up until now not too many people had noticed.
"Thus, in all of its history, Islam has shown a warlike face and a conquering spirit for the glory of Allah. [...] against the 'idolaters' who must be given a choice: convert to Islam, or be killed."
"Idolaters" such as Hindus have faced this choice throughout the history of Islam.
"As for the 'people of the Book' (Christians, Jews, and 'Sabeans'), Muslims must 'fight them until their members pay tribute, one by one, humiliated' (Koran, Sura 9:29)."
This is the foundation of dhimmitude. Islamic law ensures that Christians and Jews in Islamic society feel themselves "humiliated" in myriad ways.
"According to Muslim law, Christians, Jews, and the followers of other religions assimilated to Christianity and Judaism (the 'Sabeans') who live in a Muslim state belong to an inferior social order, in spite of their eventually belonging to the same race, language, and descent. Islamic law does not recognize the concepts of nation and citizenship, but only the umma, the one Islamic community, for which reason a Muslim, as he is part of the umma, may live in any Islamic country as he would in his homeland: he is subject to the same laws, finds the same customs, and enjoys the same consideration."
This is also why an American Muslim soldier might be susceptible to appeals from his fellow Muslims to stop fighting for the infidels against the Muslims.
"But those belonging to the 'people of the Book' are subject to the dhimma, which is a kind of bilateral treaty consisting in the fact that the Islamic state authorizes the 'people of the Book' to inhabit its lands, tolerates its religion, and guarantees the 'protection' of its persons and goods and its defense from external enemies. Thus the 'people of the Book' (Ahl al-Kitab) becomes the 'protected people' (Ahl al-dhimma). In exchange for this 'protection,' the 'people of the Book' must pay a tax (jizya) to the Islamic state, which is imposed only upon able-bodied free men, excluding women, children, and the old and infirm, and pay a tribute, called the haram, on the lands in its possession."
See below about the tax: at various points in Islamic history it was extraordinarily prohibitive -- so high, in fact, that occasionally conversions to Islam were prohibited: since Muslims paid no such tax, a flow of dhimmis into Islam would destroy the tax base!
"As for the freedom of worship, the dhimmi are prohibited only from external manifestations of worship, such as the ringing of bells, processions with the cross, solemn funerals, and the public sale of religious objects or other articles prohibited for Muslims. A Muslim man who marries a Christian or a Jew must leave her free to practice her religion and also to consume the foods permitted by her religion, even if they are forbidden for Muslims, such as pork or wine. The dhimmi may maintain or repair the churches or synagogues they already have, but, unless there is a treaty permitting them to own land, they may not build new places of worship, because to do this they would need to occupy Muslim land, which can never be ceded to anyone, having become, through Muslim conquest, land 'sacred' to Allah."
Every school of Islamic jurisprudence teaches this, and it has been the law of the land everywhere the Sharia has been enforced in its fullness. Now tell me that that is tolerance.
"In Sura 9:29 the Koran affirms that the 'people of the Book,' apart from being constrained to pay the two taxes mentioned above, must be placed under certain restrictions, such as dressing in a special way and not being allowed to bear arms or ride on horseback. Furthermore, the dhimmi may not serve in the army, be functionaries of the state, be witnesses in trials between Muslims, take the daughters of Muslims as their wives, be the guardians of underage Muslims, or keep Muslim slaves. They may not inherit from Muslims, nor Muslims from them, but legacies are permitted."
Many Muslim apologists point to the dhimmis' freedom from military service as an exculpation of dhimmitude: yes, the dhimmis paid a special tax, but they were exempt from military service. But they generally ignore the sting of the rest of these regulations.
"The release of the dhimma came about above all through conversion of the 'people of the Book' to Islam; but Muslims, especially in the early centuries, did not look favorably upon such conversions, because they represented a grave loss to the treasury, which flourished in direct proportion to the number of the dhimmi, who paid both the personal tax and the land tax. The dissolution of dhimma status could also take place through failure to observe the 'treaty'; that is, if the dhimmi took up arms against Muslims, refused to remain subject or to pay tribute, abducted a Muslim woman, blasphemed or offended the prophet Mohammed and the Islamic religion, or if they drew a Muslim away from Islam, converting him to their own religion. According to the gravity of each case, the penalty could be the confiscation of goods, reduction to slavery, or death - unless the person who had committed the crimes converted to Islam. In that case, all penalties were waived."
That is why the large and flourishing Middle Eastern and North African Christian communities described at the beginning of this article are no longer there.
"It is evident that the condition of the dhimmi, prolonged through centuries, has led slowly but inexorably to the near extinction of Christianity in Muslim lands: the condition of civil inferiority, which prevented Christians from attaining public offices, and the condition of religious inferiority, which closed them in an asphyxiated religious life and practice with no possibility of development, put the Christians to the necessity of emigrating, or, more frequently, to the temptation of converting to Islam. There was also the fact that a Christian could not marry a Muslim woman without converting to Islam, in part because her children had to be educated in that faith. Furthermore, a Christian who became Muslim could divorce very easily, whereas Christianity prohibited divorce."
These conditions still prevail in varying degrees today. Not too long ago I was speaking with a Syrian friend who told me that he left Syria for the sake of his children. As Christians, they were unable to get good jobs; he knew they would have a chance for a better life here.
"The regime of the dhimma lasted for over a millennium, even if not always and everywhere in the harsh form called 'the conditions of 'Umar,' according to which Christians not only did not have the right to construct new churches and restore existing ones, even if they fell into ruins (and, if they had the permission to construct through the good will of the Muslim governor, the churches could not be of large dimensions: the building must be more modest than all the religious buildings around it); but the largest and most beautiful churches had to be transformed into mosques. That transformation made it impossible for the church-mosques ever to be restored to the Christian community, because a place that has become a mosque cannot be put to another use."
The regime of the dhimma, as I have stated, is still part of the Sharia that radical Muslims are trying to impose everywhere.
"In recent centuries, the dhimma system has undergone some modifications, in part because the ideas of citizenship and the equality of all citizens before the state have gained a foothold even in Muslim countries."
But because these ideas are contrary to traditional Islamic norms, they are rejected by a large number of Muslims worldwide.
"Nevertheless, in practice, the traditional conception is still present. [...] The Christian, whether he wish it or not, is brought back in spite of himself to the concept of the dhimmi, even if the term no longer appears in the present-day laws of a good number of Muslim-majority countries."
This is because even in officially secular and semi-secular states, such as Egypt, Syria, and Pakistan, strong vestiges of the dhimmi system still exist.
". . . Thus was born 'radical Islam,' which set itself up as the interpreter of the frustrations of the Muslim masses. Hasan al Banna, Sayyid Qutb, Abd al-Qadir 'Uda in Egypt with the Muslim Brotherhood; Abu l-A'li al-Mawdudi in Pakistan, and the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran are its most significant witnesses, and their followers have spread from Dakar to Kuala Lumpur."
See profiles of Al-Banna, Qutb, and Mawdudi in Onward Muslim Soldiers.
"Radical Islam, which proposes that shari'a law be instituted in every Islamic state, is gaining ground in many Muslim countries, in which groups of Christians are also present. It is evident that the institution of shari'a would render the lives of Christians rather difficult, and their very existence would be constantly in danger. This is the cause of the mass emigration of Christians from Islamic countries to Western countries: Europe, the United States, Canada, and Australia."
Nor is this a new development with the rise of "radical Islam." My own grandparents made this journey in 1919, several years before the Muslim Brotherhood of Al-Banna and Qutb was founded.
"Furthermore, we must not underestimate grave recent actions against Christians in some Muslim-majority countries. In Algeria, the bishop of Orano, P. Claverie (1996), seven Trappist monks from Tibehirini (1999), four White Fathers (1994), and six sisters from various religious congregations have been brutally killed by Islamic fundamentalists, although the murders were condemned by numerous Muslim authorities. In Pakistan, which numbers 3,800,000 Christians among a population of 156,000,000 (96 percent Muslim), on October 28, 2001, some Muslims entered the Church of St. Dominic in Bahawalpur and gunned down 18 Christians. On May 6, 1998, Catholic bishop John Joseph killed himself for protesting against the blasphemy law, which punishes with death anyone who offends Mohammed, even only 'by speaking words, or by actions and through allusions, directly or indirectly.' For example, by saying that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, one offends Mohammed, who affirmed that Jesus is not the Son of God, but his 'servant.' With this kind of law, Christians are in constant danger of death.
"In Nigeria - where 13 states have introduced shari'a as state law - several thousand Christians have been the victims of incidents. Serious incidents are taking place in the south of the Philippines and in Indonesia, which, with its 212 million inhabitants, is the most populous Muslim country in the world, to the harm of the Christians of Java, East Timor, and the Moluccas. But the most tragic situation - and, unfortunately, forgotten by the Western world! - is that of Sudan, where the North is Arab and Muslim, and the South black and Christian, and in part, animist. Since the time of president G.M. Nimeiry, there has been a state of civil war between the North, which has proclaimed shari'a and intends to impose it with fierce violence on the rest of the country, and the South, which aims to preserve and defend its Christian identity. The North makes use of all of its military power - financed by oil exports to the West - to destroy Christian villages; prevent the arrival of humanitarian aid; kill the cattle, which are the means of sustenance for many South Sudanese; and carry out raids, for Christian girls in particular, who are brought to the North, raped, and sold as slaves or concubines to rich, older Sudanese men. According to the 2001 report of Amnesty International, 'at the end of 2000, the civil war, which started again in 1983, had cost the lives of almost two million persons and had caused the forced evacuation of 4,500,000 more. Tens of thousands of persons have been compelled by terror to leave their homes in the upper Nile region, which is rich in oil, after aerial bombardments, mass executions, and torture.'"
For a harrowing personal account of life as a Christian (and slave) in Sudan, see Escape from Slavery by Francis Bok.
"We must, finally, recall a fact that is often forgotten because Saudi Arabia is the largest provider of oil to the Western world, and the latter therefore has an interest in not disturbing relations with that country. In reality, in Saudi Arabia, where wahhabism is in force, not only is it impossible to build a church or even a tiny place of worship, but any act of Christian worship or any sign of Christian faith is severely prohibited with the harshest penalties. Thus about a million Christians working in Saudi Arabia are deprived by violence of any Christian practice or sign. They may participate in mass or in other Christian practices - and even then with the serious danger of losing their jobs - only on the property of the foreign oil companies."
This prohibition is founded on the Prophet Muhammad's famous deathbed statement that "no two religions are allowed in Arabia." Muhammad also said, "I will expel the Jews and Christians from the Arabian Peninsula and will not leave any but Muslims" (Sahih Muslim, book 19, no. 4366).
"And yet, Saudi Arabia spends billions of petrodollars, not for the benefit of its poor citizens or of poor Muslims in other Muslim countries, but to construct mosques and madrasas in Europe and to finance the imams of the mosques in all the Western countries. We recall that the Roman mosque of Monte Antenne, constructed on land donated by the Italian government, was principally financed by Saudi Arabia and was built to be the largest mosque in Europe, in the very heart of Christianity."
That is contemporary dhimmitude.