Remarkably similar descriptions of jihad massacres of non-combatants in both the pre-modern and modern eras have been recorded from Greece and the Balkans, Asia Minor, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, and the Far East (Malaysia and Indonesia). Indeed the 20th century opened and closed with frank jihad genocides- the Armenian genocide committed by the Ottoman Turks during the initial two decades, and the genocide of southern Sudanese Christians and Animists committed by the Arab Muslim Khartoum government during the final two decades.
Akyol concludes, nobly, with a call for Muslim reforms, but even this message is compromised by further misrepresentations, and unrealistic expectations, which ignore the need to acknowledge what jihad and dhimmitude have wrought for non-Muslims:
“…some traditional doctrines can be abandoned completely. Take the much-disputed concepts of ‘House of War’ and ‘House of Islam’, developed by Muslim jurists in the 8th century. Those jurists regarded all foreign lands as enemy territories, because they could not expect tolerance and safety for Islam there. Today we live in much different world, in which religious freedom is widely established, especially in liberal democracies. Thus there is no justification to see those democracies as "House of War." That very definition is simply outdated; along with many other concepts in the Islamic tradition….I agree, then…that Muslims need to have reformation — to reread the Koran in today's terms, question all post-Koranic traditions, and create a new canon that will include, among other things, a doctrine of just war that leaves no excuse for terrorism and other aggressive actions. Whether we can accomplish such a reform — good for both Muslims and non-Muslims alike — will be a crucial question in the years and decades to come.”
The uniquely Islamic conception of “House of War” (Dar ul-Harb) and “House of Islam” (Dar ul-Islam) was a consensus formulation from the early classical period of Muslim jurisprudence.
Majid Khadduri, a Muslim scholar, whose 1955 treatise on jihad remains one of the most respected analyses of this institution, summarized these consensus views, as follows:
“Thus the jihad may be regarded as Islam’s instrument for carrying out its ultimate objective by turning all people into believers, if not in the prophethood of Muhammad (as in the case of the dhimmis), at least in the belief of God. The Prophet Muhammad is reported to have declared ‘some of my people will continue to fight victoriously for the sake of the truth until the last one of them will combat the anti-Christ.’ Until that moment is reached the jihad, in one form or another will remain as a permanent obligation upon the entire Muslim community. It follows that the existence of a dar al-harb is ultimately outlawed under the Islamic jural order; that the dar al-Islam is permanently under jihad obligation until the dar al-harb is reduced to non-existence; and that any community accepting certain disabilities- must submit to Islamic rule and reside in the dar al-Islam or be bound as clients to the Muslim community. The universality of Islam, in its all embracing creed, is imposed on the believers as a continuous process of warfare, psychological and political if not strictly military.” 32
It is ahistorical and disingenuous for Akyol to contend that the “…foreign lands..” were regarded as hostile territories because Muslims “…could not expect tolerance and safety for Islam there…”. Muslim conquerors, spurred on in their missionary zeal by the doctrine of jihad, sought to impose Islamic rule globally, either by conversion of infidels under threat of war, or at minimum, submission to the Shari’a, with acceptance by the vanquished non-Muslim populations of unequal and servile status. This classical conception of indefinitely warring blocs of humanity has been taught continuously, through the present, at the leading centers of Islamic learning for both Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims. Yusuf al-Qaradawi even used such unfettered Medieval terminology (i.e., Dar ul-Harb and Dar ul-Islam) during a 1998 interview about the meeting between the Chief Rabbi of Israel and the Rector of Al Azhar University. Perhaps even more disturbing, “secular” Turkey itself is a signatory to the 1990 Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, a document that incorporates jihad war ideology in its triumphal proclamation that the Shari’a has primacy over the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including the specific statement that God has made the umma (Islamic community) the best nation, whose role is to "guide" humanity. (“The Islamic Shari'ah is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification of any of the articles of this Declaration.”).
One must question whether well-intentioned platitudes that ignore or obfuscate Muslim theological-juridical institutions, and the violent history of Islamic jihad, can really offer a pathway to meaningful reform. I urge Mr. Akyol to ponder these two questions: Where is the forthright historical mea culpa that must precede such reform efforts? Why are alternative, “non-Koranic” avenues toward reform which embrace established modern constructs of human rights (i.e., most decidedly not The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Islam !), being ignored?
Mr. Akyol and other erstwhile Muslim reformers must consider these suggestions from two courageous modern scholars, themselves contemporary victims of ancient, institutionalized Muslim prejudices- the exiled Egyptian dhimmi Jewess and historian, Bat Ye’or, and the Koranic scholar, and Muslim apostate, Ibn Warraq.
“…this effort cannot succeed without a complete recasting of mentalities, the desacralization of the historic jihad and an unbiased examination of Islamic imperialism. Without such a process, the past will continue to poison the present and inhibit the establishment of harmonious relationships. When all is said and done, such self-criticism is hardly exceptional. Every scourge, such as religious fanaticism, the crusades, the inquisition, slavery, apartheid, colonialism, Nazism and, today, communism, are analyzed, examined, and exorcized in the West. Even Judaism- harmless in comparison with the power of the Church and the Christian empires- caught, in its turn, in the great modernization movement, has been forced to break away from some traditions. It is inconceivable that Islam, which began in Mecca and swept through three continents, should alone avoid a critical reflection on the mechanisms of its power and expansion. The task of assessing their history must be undertaken by the Muslims themselves…there is room to hope that the ending of the contentious dhimmi past will open the way to harmonization of the whole human family….” 33
“There are some (I believe, misguided) liberal Muslims who deny any such transformation is necessary, that Islam need not be marginalized for liberty to flourish. These liberals often argue that the real Islam is compatible with liberal democracy, that the real Islam is feminist, that the real Islam is egalitarian, that the real Islam tolerates other religions and beliefs, and so on. They then proceed to some truly creative re-interpretation of the embarrassing, intolerant and misogynist verses of the Koran. But intellectual honesty demands that we reject just such dishonest tinkering with the Koran’s text, which, while it may be open to some re-interpretation, is not infinitely elastic. The truth is there is no real difference between Islam and Islamic fundamentalism - at most there is a difference of degree, but not of kind. There are moderate Muslims, but Islam itself is not moderate. All the tenets of so-called Islamic fundamentalism are derived from the Koran, the Sunna, and the Hadith - the defining texts of Islam - and elaborated in intimate detail by the classical Muslim jurists from all four schools of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence, as well as by Shi’ite jurists. The only solution is to bring the questions of human rights out of the religious sphere and into the sphere of the civil state, in other words to separate religion from the state and promote a secular state where Islam is relegated to the personal. Here, Islam would continue to provide consolation, comfort, and meaning, as it has to millions of individuals for centuries, yet it would not decree the mundane affairs of state.”
1. Bell, Richard. The Qur’an. Vol. 1, Edinburgh, 1937, p.171.
2. Warraq, Ibn. What The Koran Really Says, Amherst, N.Y., 2002, pp. 67-69.
3. Jeffery, Arthur. “The Political Importance of Islam”, Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Vol. 1, 1942, p. 386.
4. Ibn Khaldun, The Muqudimmah. An Introduction to History, Translated by Franz Rosenthal. New York, N.Y., 1958, vol. 1, p. 473.
5. Gairdner, W.H.T. “Mohammed Without Camouflage”, Moslem World, 1919, Vol. 9, pp. 51-52.
6. Ibn Hudayl (French translation by Louis Mercier), L’ornement des âmes, Paris, 1939, p. 195.
7. Dufourcq, A.D. La Vie Quotidienne dans l’Europe Medievale sous Domination Arabe, Paris, 1978, p. 20.
8. Al-Mawardi, The Laws of Islamic Governance, trans. by Dr. Asadullah Yate, London, 1996, p. 192.
9. Abu Yusuf Ya’qub Le Livre de l’impot foncier, Translated from Arabic and annotated by Edmond Fagnan, Paris, Paul Geuthner, 1921, pp. 301-302.
10. Ibn Abi Zayd Al_Qayrawani, La Risala ou Epitre sur les elements du dogme et de la loi de l’Islam selon le rite malikite, Translated from Arabic by Leon Bercher. Algiers, 1980, p. 163.
11. Ibn Taymiyya, in Rudolph Peters, Jihad in Classical and Modern Islam, Princeton, NJ, 1996, p. 50.
12. Ibn Khaldun, History of the Berbers and the Moslem Dynasties of Northern Africa, translated from Arabic [into French] by Baron De Slane, Paris, 1925, p. 316.
13. Al Kufi, from The Chachnama, in Elliott and Dowson, A History of India As Told by Its Own Historians, Vol. 1, 1867-1877, (reissued 2001) p. 181.
14. from, the translation of Malfuzat-i-Timuri of Timur, A History of India As Told by Its Own Historians, Vol. 3, pp. 435-436.
15. from, The Baburnama -Memoirs of Babur, Prince and Emperor, translated and edited by Wheeler M. Thacktson, Oxford University Press,1996, p. 188.
16. Averroes, in Rudolph Peters, Jihad in Classical and Modern Islam, Princeton, NJ, 1996, p. 36.
17. Al-Ghazali (d. 1111). Kitab al-Wagiz fi fiqh madhab al-imam al-Safi’i, Beirut, 1979, pp. 186, 190-91, [English translation by Dr. Michael Schub.]
18. Ibn Taymiyya, in Jihad in Classical and Modern Islam, 1996, p.49.
19. Chronique de Jean, Eveque de Nikiou, translated from the Ethiopian with notes by Hermann Zotenberg, Paris, 1879, pp. 228-229; 243-244.
20. From O. Tafrali, O. Thessalonique – Des Origines au XVI Siecle, Chapter VI
“The Capture and Pillage of Thessalonika by the Saracens (in the year 904)”, pp. 151-154.
21. Segal, J.B. “Edessa- The Blessed City”, Oxford University Press, 1970, pp. 252-254
22. Chronique de Michel Le Syrien, Edited and translated from the Syriac by Jean-Baptiste Chabot, Paris, 1899-1905, Vol. 3, pp. 261-262; 270-271.
23. Hirschberg, H.Z., The Jews of North Africa, Leiden, Vol. 1, 1974, pp. 127-128.
24. Kanhadade Prabandha, translated, introduced and annotated by V.S. Bhatnagar, New Delhi, 1991, xii.
25. Kanhadade Prabandha, p. 49.
26. Ibn Battuta, in Foreign Notices of South India, Collected and Edited by K.A. Nilakanta Sastri (2001, University of Madras), pp. 278-279
27. Vryonis, S. Jr., A Critical Analysis of Stanford J. Shaw’s, “History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey. Volume 1. Empire of the Gazis: The Rise and Decline of the Ottoman Empire, 1280-1808” , off print from Balkan Studies, Vol. 24, 1983, pp. 57-58.
28. Vryonis, S. Jr., A Critical Analysis, pp. 58-59.
29. Vryonis, S. Jr., A Critical Analysis, p. 59.
30. Vryonis, S. Jr., A Critical Analysis, pp. 60, 62.
31. Vryonis, S. Jr., A Critical Analysis, p.68.
32. Khadduri, Majid. War and Peace in the Law of Islam, 1955, Richmond, VA and London, England, pp. 63-64.
33. Bat Ye’or, The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam, Cranbury, New Jersey, 1996, p. 220.