They’re getting farther and farther apart.
Typically Muslim empires have distinguished between conquering a country and bringing it under Islamic rule and law–this is allowed–and forcing people to become Muslims–this is not allowed. The Islamic radicals, in trying to compel conversions on pain of death, are breaking with the Koran and the Islamic tradition. Only two schools of Koranic interpretation–the Bin Laden school and the Robert Spencer school–consider Taliban-style “convert or die” jurisprudence to be consistent with what the Prophet Muhammad taught and what the Koran says.
Here yet again, D’Souza is setting up a fantasy Robert Spencer to knock down. And this time his straw man game is particularly egregious, because this question has come up in our exchanges before, so there is no reason for him not to know where I stand on this. On January 17, I wrote in a post here about D’Souza’s book that “Muslims don’t want to ‘convert or kill everybody.’ That is a false oversimplification. Muhammad commanded Muslims to convert or subjugate or kill everybody.” I included a link there to Sahih Muslim 4294, in which Muhammad explains those three choices. The next day, in another post about his book, I wrote that “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.”
Of course, D’Souza doesn’t read Jihad Watch, so maybe he never saw those. But I know he saw my FrontPage review of his book, because he responded to it later. And in it is this:
D”Souza takes no notice of the fact that these conquests were inspired by the same theological ideology that fuels today”s global jihad. Yet even Islamic apologist John Esposito acknowledges the reality of this theological ideology: “As Islam penetrated new areas,” Esposito writes, “people were offered three options: (1) conversion, that is, full membership in the Muslim community, with its rights and duties; (2) acceptance of Muslim rule as “˜protected” people and payment of a poll tax; (3) battle or the sword if neither the first nor the second option was accepted.” This triple choice was based on Muhammad’s words: “Fight in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah. Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war”¦When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these you also accept it and withhold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them”¦If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah’s help and fight them” (Sahih Muslim 4294).
This is an important distinction, although I am not sure that D’Souza grasps its importance. The existence of the third alternative — subjugation — along with “convert or die” allowed for the existence of Jewish and Christian communities in the Islamic world for centuries, although they were indeed subjugated and never enjoyed equality of rights with Muslims. The fact that this triple choice is rooted in the words of Muhammad and the teachings of the various schools of Islamic jurisprudence allows jihadists today to reassert it — as we have seen gangs doing recently in Baghdad.
Anyway, I suppose if D’Souza numbers me among the “Islamophobes,” he has to count Esposito among that company as well, since he too writes about the triple choice. Watch for next week’s column, when D’Souza will say that only Osama, Esposito and I think that Islam contains any mandate to convert or subjugate unbelievers.
The fact is that the jihadists in Pakistan who have told the Christians “convert or die” are transgressing against the letter of Islamic law. Yet D’Souza asserts that I endorse their view, in plain defiance of what I have written numerous times — in my books which he claims to have read as well as in the citations above. It makes me wonder, since he has done this to me and to others before: Why does anyone still take this man seriously? Isn’t the Hoover Institution embarrassed to be associated with him? If it isn’t, it should be. Is any other high-profile writer so careless of the facts and happy to retail falsehoods about his opponents? I don’t know of one.