Dhimmitude: History: Debate on History
Debate on History
For over a millennium relations between the Muslim world and Christendom were shaped by wars, hostility and contempt. The Arab invasion of the Christian Middle East, North Africa, Spain, Portugal, Sicily and Armenia, followed by the Ottoman conquest and occupation of the Balkans and Hungary, were fought back by European armies.
In the 20th century, secular Kemalism in Turkey, western education and modernization in European Arab colonies, facilitated travelling, favoring contacts between different peoples and creeds. Muslim intellectuals were receptive to secularism and historical criticism. Many fought for the modernization of Islamic political and religious institutions.
This section will give different and contradictory opinions on jihad and dhimmitude between Muslims, but also with non-Muslims, since these latter were the target of jihad. Moreover the 19th and 20th centuries witnessed massacres of Christian dhimmis during their national liberation wars against the Ottoman, the expulsion of Jews from Arab countries, followed by a mass emigration of Christians from Muslim modern states.
From the 1970's, after the Arab oil embargo and in the frame of the Euro-Arab Dialogue, European governments and interfaith bodies, have censured the history of jihad and dhimmitude, for the sake of peace between peoples and religions. Now the dhimmi diaspora rejects this historical negation that destroys the only past left to them: their memory.
This debate then concerns the nature of jihad. Is jihad a war against infidels or a peaceful meritorious personal effort? Did jihad even existed? Many Muslims theologians and intellectuals teach that it has never been waged. Muslim armies had taken all those countries, because the people wanted it and asked to be conquered. Is jihad a just war or a cruel, aggressive war? Is dhimmitude a tolerant system build on just laws, an interfaith Golden Age contrasting with backward fanatical Europe? Muslims praise the tolerance of their domination, while Jews and Christians challenge the very idea of protection, considering that each human being enjoys inalienable rights and do not need to be tolerated to merely exist.
The inter-religious debate touches sensitive points. Were the Biblical figures including Jesus and the apostles, Muslim prophets who preached Islam?
These sections will echo some of these debates:
- Dhimmitude Past and Present : An Invented or Real History? Lecture by Bat Ye'or, Brown University, October 10, 2002
- Islam and the Dhimmis, by Bat Ye'or. From The Jerusalem Quarterly, Number Forty-two, Spring 1987 (PDF 1.1MB download), This article is a rejoinder to Mark Cohen, "Islam and the Jews: Myth, Counter-Myth, History." Bat Ye'or makes the case that the supposed harmony between Jews and Muslims is not supported by research and, in fact, the Jews suffered in their dhimmi status under Muslim rule.
- The Myth of Islamic Tolerance. Interview with Bat Ye'or. Christianity Today International, September/October 1998, Vol.4, No. 5, Page 38
- Jihad and Dhimmitude: Victimless Islamic Institutions?, By Bat Ye'or and Andrew G. Bostom, FrontPageMagazine.com, December 3, 2002
- IslamistWatch.org is a catalog of the writings, beliefs, motives, and methods of the Islamist movement. While Islamists have many goals, the ultimate one is establishing a worldwide Caliphate (Islamic state): to overthrow and destroy democratic governments accross the globe and replace them with a single Taliban-style Islamic fundamentalist theocracy.
- Islam: History and Taboo, by Bat Ye'or. From Midstream, February-March 1998 (PDF 108KB download)
- The Meaning of Jihad, by John Perazzo, FrontPageMagazine.com, November 26, 2002
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