Thursday, February 27, 2014

Will non-Muslims become the new "religious prisoners" of an Islamic caliphate?

For many months we have all watched the sometimes 'creep' and sometimes 'gallop' of the Islamic agenda to establish a caliphate. We have read reports of Al Qaeda affiliates infiltrating the rebel forces in Syria, the anti-government forces in Iraq, not to mention the Nigerian and Somalian and Sudan fronts in their radical and often violent ambition. While the bullets and the deaths and injuries are capturing the headlines, the on-the-ground "interface" between Muslims and "others" (Christians and Jews) known to Islam as the "people of the book" has received less coverage. And, of course, as the theme of the Islamic tsunami moves into a position in which Islam is the governing religion of the people in power, there have to be "rules" governing how the Islamic power structure will treat the people of the book.
A recent piece published on line in a respected and widely read blog, Syria Comment, hosted by Josh Landis (landis@ou.edu.) sheds some light on the potential faced by Christians and Jews who might have to live under an Islamic state. And the picture is not pretty, nor is it fundamentally acceptable to anyone who espouses anything that resembles personal freedom and a social compact that secures that freedom and preserves the separation of state matters from religious matters. Under the Islamic world view, these matters are one, and while there are only small signs of the future appearing in a few places, those signs are so compellingly abhorrent, and so out-of-sight and also out-of-mind, that one wonders if there is much hope of a co-ordinated response to protect the people of the book from Islamic "dominance" and the spectre of restrictive oppression based on what many consider is a respected interpretation of the Koran.
Those of us who have plodded through some of the writings of Karen Armstrong, a western apologist for Islam, might be more than a little troubled by the piece excerpted below that depicts a quite different picture from the hopeful and collaborative and openly receptive picture painted by Armstrong in her writings. As one who writes from the perspective that the major religions have much in common, Armstrong emboldens those who wish for a peaceful and collaborative world in which thought leaders and religious leaders concur in peaceful negotiations, collaborative pursuit of common goals, and a single deity, however abstract and however depicted in the 'holy books' and traditions. Her view supports all those "moderates" who seek accommodations between and among the major faith communities, based, one assumes, on a profound and authentic belief that any God worthy of the name would have the human community work out differences rather than take up arms, in their pursuit of their spiritual development. 
And anyone who thinks or believes that the Jews and Christians have figured out how they purport to address a potential caliphate that includes Rome and Canterbury and London, not to mention many other major urban centres, is likely out of touch with the naivety and the idealism and the good will that both Christians and Jews of good will bring to the potential encounter. After reading the excerpt below, pause briefly and ask yourself how the world can adjust to this new potential reality that is today so often portrayed as a bunch of young radicals whose fervour will peter out and leave the rest of the world 'beavering away' in endless negotiations in a culture that is and has been prevalent for centuries. If martyrs are considered the first wave of those bearing the flag of the future of Islam, and violence is the only arrow in their quiver, then we most likely have mis-read the long-term intent of this movement, this revolution and this cultural and religious tsunami.
In their attempt to carry out what they believe to be the Koran's directives, a sizeable segment of Islam is committed to the establishment of Islamic state(s) whenever and wherever they can succeed. And those of no specific faith, along with the people of the book, are about to wake up in jurisdictions controlled by Islamists, to a need for protection "from" Islam which, at least according to the observer writing in Syria Comment, carries both a price and a threat. And, while many of us live thousands of miles from the Middle East, we are not likely to go quietly into the dark night that is depicted for those known to Islam as ‘dhimmi’( a Jew or Christian living under the authority of an Islamic state) who will pay a ‘jizya’ (poll tax) and endure discrimination in return for protection from the state...
Read the excerpt and consider what living under such conditions would do to your current life...and what kind of co-ordinated and collaborative resistance might be feasible and justified.
From Syria Comment,  26 Feb 2014
By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi
Traditionally, a ‘dhimmi’ in Islam is a Jew or Christian who agrees to live under the authority of an Islamic state, agreeing to pay a ‘jizya’ (poll tax) and enduring a number of discriminatory conditions in return for ‘protection’ from the state. The Qur’anic basis for this arrangement is 9:29. In practice of course, the dhimmi pact, far from being a model of historical multiculturalism and tolerance as hailed by Western Islamic apologists such as Karen Armstrong, is actually equivalent to Mafia racketeering, as failure to pay ‘jizya’, whose financial burdens often proved heavy historically, leads to a loss of ‘protection’ by the state.
For the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS), which has the backing of broad elements of classical Islamic theology in this regard, such a development comes as no surprise, as the group’s predecessors- Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) and al-Qa’ida in Iraq- similarly imposed jizya on Christians both in the Baghdad area (al-Dura neighborhood) and the north of the country. In Syria, the group has already imposed dhimmi terms in practice on Christians in Raqqa province, such as in Tel Abyad, where supposed violation of the dhimmi pact was the pretext for ISIS’ desecration of the Armenian church in the fall of last year.
One should also note that this pact has been imposed by ISIS’ leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and bears his signature as the amir al-mu’mineen (“Commander of the Faithful”- the traditional title of a Caliph, illustrating how ISIS is aiming to build the Caliphate and is projecting its leader as the future Caliph). It would thus indicate that Baghdadi is likely to be in Raqqa province at the moment.

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