Yet another non-Muslim assures us that the Islamic State is not Islamic. And once again, his analysis is based on comforting falsehoods about Islam that will not convince even one young Muslim who is considering joining the Islamic State not to do so. In that case, what is the effect of articles like this one? To keep Americans from getting nervous about rising Muslim populations, and to keep them ignorant and complacent about the full nature and magnitude of the jihad threat.
“What our president should say about Islam,” by Mark Cunningham, New York Post, March 1, 2015 (thanks to Budd):
…Let us begin with the so-called “Islamic State.” I’ve heard a few complaints about my saying the IS is not Islamic; let me clarify.
What the Islamic State is, is a cheap and horrible fake — a con job.
Consider: The IS claims to be restoring the “pure Islam” of a past era, either of the time of the Prophet and the early caliphs, or of the later, medieval caliphates.
Yet, what — beyond its snuff videos — is the IS most known for? For slaughtering Christians, Yezidis and other non-Muslims, or expelling them from areas it controls.
Strange: These very same peoples survived and even thrived under Islamic rule for more than a thousand years, including under all the caliphs that IS cites as upholding “true Islam.”
What the IS tells other Muslims about its brand of Islam, in other words, is an outright lie.
Unfortunately not. The Islamic State actually slaughtered Christians, Yezidis and other non-Muslims, or expelled them from areas it controls, as part of its endeavor to reimpose Islamic laws over those years. This is true because these people “survived and even thrived under Islamic rule for more than a thousand years, including under all the caliphs that IS cites as upholding ‘true Islam,'” when they submitted to Islamic hegemony, paid the jizya, and lived as dhimmis, in accord with Qur’an 9:29 and the Sharia rules that were elaborated from that passage’s command that non-Muslims in the Islamic State must “pay the jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” But the Ottoman Empire, the last caliphate, abolished the dhimma under Western pressure in 1856. After that Christians in the areas the Islamic State controls were no longer second-class except insofar as the laws governing dhimmis remained as a cultural hangover in the area. Under the relatively secular states of the Assads in Syria and Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Christians and other non-Muslims had almost equal rights with Muslims.
Then came the Islamic State, and it wanted to reassert Islamic law. So it demanded that Christians submit and pay the jizya. When they refused, they were exiled or killed, in accord with 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)
I submit to you that, as a simple matter of fact, Islam itself has prospered most when it has embraced such tolerance — and that we can see this from the time of the Prophet and beyond, when Islam exploded in a matter of decades from a handful of men to half the civilized world.
For, in the centuries before Mohammad, the Christian rulers of the Eastern Roman Empire had ruthlessly and bloodily sought to stamp out Christian worship that did not conform to their Orthodox faith. These savage campaigns decimated whole populations.
And then the Prophet and his armies rode in, and said to these Christians, and also the Jews, “Accept our rule and you may worship as you will — you’ll just have to pay a tax.”
No, this wasn’t much like the religious tolerance now practiced in the West. But it was far greater tolerance than the Byzantine Christians offered.
Cunningham’s ignorance of Islamic history is embarrassing. Muhammad is supposed to have died in 632. The Arab conquest of Eastern Roman imperial holdings began after that. The closest Muhammad got, according to Islamic tradition, was his attempted attack on the Byzantine imperial garrison at Tabuk, but the Byzantines left before he got there.
Cunningham reflects another widely held falsehood when he suggests that the Christians and Jews had it better under the Muslims than under the Byzantines. Islamic tradition has the caliph Umar making a telling admission in a message to an underling: “Do you think,” he asked, “that these vast countries, Syria, Mesopotamia, Kufa, Basra, Misr [Egypt] do not have to be covered with troops who must be well paid?” Why did these areas have to be “covered” with troops, if the Muslim invaders were more tolerant than the Byzantines?
This principle of tolerance continued to bolster Islam and its culture for centuries. Maimonides, one of the greatest Jewish sages of all time, lived his entire life under Muslim rule — enriching not only Jewish understanding, but also laying the groundwork for thinkers of Islam’s Golden Age, such as Avicenna, Averroes and Al-Farabi.
Actually, Maimonides lived for a time in Muslim Spain and then fled that supposedly tolerant and pluralistic land, remarking, “You know, my brethren, that on account of our sins God has cast us into the midst of this people, the nation of Ishmael, who persecute us severely, and who devise ways to harm us and to debase us….No nation has ever done more harm to Israel. None has matched it in debasing and humiliating us. None has been able to reduce us as they have….We have borne their imposed degradation, their lies, and absurdities, which are beyond human power to bear.”
But Mark Cunningham is able to publish this nonsense in the New York Post not just because he is an editor there, but because his soothing falsehoods coincide with what the Western world so desperately wants to believe. But that doesn’t make it any truer.