I don’t want to belabor the point about Dinesh D’Souza and his irresponsible new book, but as I expected, he is getting tons of publicity — O’Reilly, Zahn, Beck, Carlson, Cavuto — because he is telling people what they want to hear: a new variation of the “It’s All Our Fault” theme. At least here you will be able to find the truth about what he is saying. In this tothesource interview, whose views we have already discussed here and here, continues to deny the reality of the jihad ideology:
tts: Many Americans believe Islam is caught up in a Constantinian vision to conquer and convert by force.
D’Souza: There is no “inherent conquering spirit” in Islam, any more than there is one in Christianity. Yes, early Islam did conquer a great deal of territory and early Christianity didn’t. But that’s because Christianity began in defeat, with the early Christians harassed and persecuted, while Islam began with success, with the prophet Muhammad becoming the ruler of a large domain.
Highly ironic, this. For if you read Islamic apologetics about Muhammad’s battles, they will tell you that Muhammad took up arms precisely because the Muslims were being “harassed and persecuted,” and that fighting against oppression is justified. After all, the Qur’an says that “persecution is worse than slaughter” (2:191) — in other words, slaughtering persecutors is justified.
Anyway, the key point is that a strong theological justification was developed in Islam for Muhammad’s “becoming the ruler of a large domain.” And that theological justification perdured throughout the centuries, and has never been reformed away. Thus it remains today as a basis for Islamic expansionism. In that light, what Christians did or did not do doesn’t matter: the supremacist, expansionist, totalitarian ideology threatening the world today comes from Islam, not from Christianity.
So Islam began to spread through force and conquest, but this is no different than the Roman empire which, let us remember, also carried Christianity to the far corners of Europe.
Not true. The Christian Romans did not conquer territories and then offer the conquered people conversion to Christianity or dhimmi status. The Roman Empire was converted by missionaries, not by force, although there were many conversions of convenience in the post-Constantine period. The contrast with the conquered countries of the Middle East and North Africa, where the jizya was exacted from the dhimmi populations, and those populations steadily converted to Islam so as to obtain equality of rights in the society, is stark.
Since the founding period there have been several Islamic empires: the Umayyad, the Abassid, the Mughal, the Ottoman, and so on. All have behaved like conventional dynasties, sometimes imperialist, usually valuing stability over everything else.
All were, to the extent of their ability, imperialist on the basis of Muhammad’s command to convert or subjugate the infidels. This command remains in place today. Should we not direct attention to it? In doing so, we may awaken non-Muslims to the gravity of the threat, and help Muslims of good will with their reform efforts.
Despite the Koran’s call to “slay the infidels” this has never been read as a mandate to forcibly convert or kill non-Muslims.
Right. This is a common red herring. Forced conversion is forbidden in Islam, although this law was often honored in the breach. And the choice, as I explained above, was not “convert or kill non-Muslims,” it was to convert or subjugate non-Muslims, or go to war with them. That this mandate has never been operative in Islam is false. A Hanafi manual of Islamic law insists that people must be called to embrace Islam before being fought, “because the Prophet so instructed his commanders, directing them to call the infidels to the faith.” It emphasizes that jihad must not be waged for economic gain, but solely for religious reasons: from the call to Islam “the people will hence perceive that they are attacked for the sake of religion, and not for the sake of taking their property, or making slaves of their children, and on this consideration it is possible that they may be induced to agree to the call, in order to save themselves from the troubles of war.”
However, “if the infidels, upon receiving the call, neither consent to it nor agree to pay capitation tax [jizya], it is then incumbent on the Muslims to call upon God for assistance, and to make war upon them, because God is the assistant of those who serve Him, and the destroyer of His enemies, the infidels, and it is necessary to implore His aid upon every occasion; the Prophet, moreover, commands us so to do.”
Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), a pioneering historian and philosopher, was also a Maliki legal theorist. In his renowned Muqaddimah, the first work of historical theory, he notes that “in the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force.” In Islam, the person in charge of religious affairs is concerned with “power politics,” because Islam is “under obligation to gain power over other nations.”
The great medieval theorist of what is now known as radical or fundamentalist Islam, Ibn Taymiyya (Taqi al-Din Ahmad Ibn Taymiyya, 1263-1328), was a Hanbali jurist. He directed that “since lawful warfare is essentially jihad and since its aim is that the religion is God’s entirely and God’s word is uppermost, therefore according to all Muslims, those who stand in the way of this aim must be fought.”
Violent jihad is a constant of Islamic history. Calls for jihad went out in the seventh century against the Christians of Egypt and Syria and the other areas of what is now known as the Muslim world. Such calls sounded innumerable times against the Christians of Europe until 1683.
After that, although jihads became less common (particularly in Europe), at no point did Islamic theology evolve beyond the legal manuals and medieval theorists I have just quoted. Jihad remained part of Islamic thought and practice, but as the Islamic world went into economic and cultural decline so did jihad. Jihad is not a suicide pact; those who fight must have some reasonable chance of success; and such success became less assured as the West gained military predominance.
Still, Indian Muslims declared jihad against their colonial occupiers and the Ottomans against their enemies in Europe as late as 1914. Turkish Muslims proclaimed jihad against the secular state that was ultimately established by Kemal Ataturk. Yasir Arafat and Hamas have both called for jihad against Israel. Just as Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden declared jihad against the United States.
No Muslim empire ever did that. The Mughals ruled northern India for 200 years. They could have killed the Hindus. They could have forcibly converted them all. They did none of this. Similarly under the Ottomans there were Jews and Christians who went to synagogue and church. The Ottomans gave them relative autonomy over their own communities. If you go to Istanbul today you can see these Jewish and Christian churches. These were not built after the secular Ataturk regime. They were built during the Ottoman period.
Sure. But the reality of the subjugation of non-Muslims goes back to the beginning of Islam. The 7-century caliph Umar’s agreement with the Christians mandates a number of humiliating regulations to make sure that the dhimmis “feel themselves subdued.” The Christians concede:
We will not…prevent any of our fellows from embracing Islam, if they choose to do so. We will respect Muslims, move from the
places we sit in if they choose to sit in them. We will not imitate
their clothing, caps, turbans, sandals, hairstyles, speech, nicknames
and title names, or ride on saddles, hang swords on the shoulders,
collect weapons of any kind or carry these weapons.
The regulations about different clothing and hairstyle, of course, made it easier to spot a dhimmi in a crowd and to make sure that he had paid the jizya and submitted to other legal requirements. The prohibition against weapons made it less likely that such investigations would meet with resistance.
We will not encrypt our stamps in Arabic, or sell liquor. We will have the front of our hair cut, wear our customary clothes wherever we are, wear belts around our waist, refrain from erecting crosses on the outside of our churches and demonstrating them and our books in public in Muslim fairways and markets. We will not sound the bells in our churches, except discreetly, or raise our voices while reciting our holy books inside our churches in the presence of Muslims….
After these and other rules are fully laid out, the agreement concludes: “These are the conditions that we set against ourselves and followers of our religion in return for safety and protection. If we break any of these promises that we set for your benefit against ourselves, then our Dhimmah (promise of protection) is broken and you are allowed to do with us what you are allowed of people of defiance and rebellion.”
The Verse of the Sword, Qur’an 9:5, is still in effect, and various other passages of Sura 9 clarify its precise meaning and applicability. While the regulations of dhimmitude are not enforced in countries where the Sharia is not the law of the land, and is ignored in whole or part in many places that do hold to the Sharia, they are still a part of Islamic law “” as a Saudi preacher recently emphasized. In a Friday sermon at a mosque in Mecca, Sheikh Marzouq Salem Al-Ghamdi declared: “The Jews and Christians are infidels, enemies of Allah, his Messenger, and the believers. They deny and curse Allah and his Messenger….How can we draw near to these infidels?…They deny even the messengers sent to them. They do not believe in Moses, they do not believe in Jesus “” because if they really believed in them, they would join Islam, because every prophet heralded to his nation the coming of the Prophet Muhammad and the need to believe in him.”
Sheikh Marzouq Salem Al-Ghamdi also repeated the Sharia’s classic injunctions on dhimmitude:
If the infidels live among the Muslims, in accordance with the conditions set out by the Prophet “” there is nothing wrong with
it provided they pay Jizya to the Islamic treasury. Other conditions
are…that they do not renovate a church or a monastery, do not
rebuild ones that were destroyed, that they feed for three days any
Muslim who passes by their homes…that they rise when a Muslim
wishes to sit, that they do not imitate Muslims in dress and speech,
nor ride horses, nor own swords, nor arm themselves with any kind
of weapon; that they do not sell wine, do not show the cross, do not
ring church bells, do not raise their voices during prayer, that they
shave their hair in front so as to make them easily identifiable, do
not incite anyone against the Muslims, and do not strike a Muslim…
If they violate these conditions, they have no protection.
Even in Saddam Hussein’s relatively secular Iraq, Christians had a hard time. The Reverend Said Bello, a Chaldean Catholic who left Iraq for Canada in 1990 but has maintained close ties with the Christian community there, reported toward the end of Saddam’s regime that Christians in Iraq are “living like slaves….The Christians have no work, and no revenue. The powerful are taking advantage of the weak. In some cases, young mothers whose husbands were killed in war have been obliged to become Muslims to feed their children.”
There is a great deal of nonsense being said today about how Islam is the problem and how Islam leads to terrorism. But Islam has been around for 1300 years and the problem of Islamic terrorism dates back around 25 years, to the Khomeini revolution. The reasonable question to ask is what is it about Islam today that has made it an incubator of fanaticism? Why has traditional Islam become such a fertile recruiting pool for radical Islam?
I responded to this yesterday: “This suggests that he does not regard the relentless jihad against Israel as “Islamic terrorism”; that he doesn’t regard the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood, the direct forerunner of Hamas and Al-Qaeda, in Egypt in 1928 as having anything to do with ‘Islamic terrorism’; and that he either doesn’t know or care that the ideology held by Osama bin Laden and other jihad terrorists today is identical to that held by jihad armies of the past, which overwhelmed and islamized the Middle East, North Africa, Persia, and significant portions of Europe and Asia.”
tts: OK. Why has it?
D’Souza: The Islamic world is divided into traditional Muslims and radical Muslims. The traditional Muslims are the ones who have practiced Islam in the way it has been practiced since the days of Muhammad. The Islamic radicals are a new force that has gained power in the last few decades. My point is that we cannot win the war on terror without driving a wedge between these two groups. The reason is that the radical Muslims are recruiting from the pool of traditional Muslims. So no matter how many radicals America captures or kills, it’s no use if twice as many traditional Muslims join the radical camp. What unites the radical and the traditional Muslims is not merely opposition to American values or culture, but a deep conviction that their religion is threatened. This is their unifying slogan: “Islam is under attack.” What differentiates the two groups is that the radicals want to fight a jihad against America, using any means necessary, including terrorism, while the traditionalists would prefer to find a different approach.
tts: What should America do?
D’Souza: We should show them the other America, which is conservative and traditional America. When Muslims look at America, all they see is Hollywood and family breakdown. They don’t see the Americans who work hard, look after their families, and go to church. If traditional Muslims understood that there is a part of America that shares its traditional values, and that there are Americans who are working hard to combat the depravities of American society, then this would go a long way to diminish their attraction to radical and terrorist strategies. They will see, for the first time, that they have potential allies in Americans who share their respect for traditional values, and who have no problem with Muslims living by those values in their own countries.
Attacks on Islam, the religion, or on the founder of the religion are going to have the effect of alienating traditional Muslims and pushing them into the radical camp. The radicals are going to say, “See, we’ve always told you that Islam is the West’s real target. That’s what they want to get rid of.” So it’s very imprudent for us to blame Islam as a whole, even if Islam is to blame. But as a matter of fact Islam is not to blame. Remember that Islam has been around for 1300 years. It’s absurd to blame the prophet Muhammad or the Koran for something that’s quite recent.
Yet the jihadists routinely point to Muhammad and the Qur’an to justify their actions. We must ignore this because it will offend moderates? But why should moderates be offended if we point out the elements of Islam that they reject, or should reject, if their moderation is to have any substance and be able to withstand the challenge from jihadists?