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The Murder of Iraqi Archbishop Rahho By: Andrew G. Bostom
American Thinker | Monday, June 30, 2008


The New York Times (June 26, 2008) has published a somber account of the recent murder of Iraqi Archbishop Rahho, and how the Iraqi Christian population has been subjected to the full recrudescence of dhimmitude, punctuated by the re-application of the jizya-the Koranic (Koran 9:29) poll tax on non-Muslims, whose etymology, as per the seminal Arabic lexicographer, E.W. Lane, belies its origins: "the tax paid in lieu of being slain."

Here is a classical formulation of the jizya -- the cornerstone of the repressive system of jihad-imposed dhimmitude -- from, coincidentally, a seminal Baghdadian jurist, al-Mawardi (d. 1058). In his monumental The Laws of Islamic Governance, al-Mawardi examined the regulations pertaining to the lands and infidel populations subjugated by jihad. This is the origin of the system of dhimmitude. The native infidel "dhimmi" (which derives from both the word for "pact", and also "guilt" -- guilty of religious errors) population had to recognize Islamic ownership of their land, submit to Islamic law, and accept payment of the Koranic poll tax (jizya)-the tax paid in lieu of being slain-based on Koran 9:29. Al- Mawardi notes that:

"The enemy makes a payment in return for peace and reconciliation... Reconciliation and security last as long as the pavment is made. If the payment ceases, then the jihad resumes."

The "contract of the jizya", or "dhimma" encompassed other obligatory and recommended obligations for the conquered non-Muslim "dhimmi" peoples. Collectively, these "obligations" formed the discriminatory system of dhimmitude imposed upon non-Muslims -- Jews, Christians, [as well as Zoroastrians, Hindus, and Buddhists]-subjugated by jihad.

Some of the more salient features of dhimmitude include: the prohibition of arms for the vanquished dhimmis, and of church bells; restrictions concerning the building and restoration of churches, synagogues, and temples; inequality between Muslims and non-Muslims with regard to taxes and penal law; the refusal of dhimmi testimony by Muslim courts; a requirement that Jews, Christians, and other non-Muslims, including Zoroastrians and Hindus, wear special clothes; and the overall humiliation and abasement of non-Muslims.

It is important to note that these regulations and attitudes were institutionalized as permanent features of the sacred Islamic law, or Shari' a. The writings of the much lionized Sufi theologian and jurist al-Ghazali (d. 1111) highlight how the institution of dhimmitude was simply a normative, and prominent feature of the Shari'a:

...the dhimmi is obliged not to mention Allah or His Apostle.. .Jews, Christians, and Majians must pay the jizya [poll tax on non-Muslims]...on offering up the jizya, the dhimmi must hang his head while the official takes hold of his beard and hits [the dhimmi] on the protruberant bone beneath his ear [i.e., the mandible]... They are not permitted to ostentatiously display their wine or church bells...their houses may not be higher than the Muslim's, no matter how low that is. The dhimmi may not ride an elegant horse or mule; he may ride a donkey only if the saddle-work is of wood. He may not walk on the good part of the road. They [the dhimmis] have to wear [an identifying] patch [on their clothing], even women, and even in the [public] baths...[dhimmis] must hold their tongue.

The practical consequences of such a discriminatory system were summarized in A.S. Tritton's 1930 The Caliphs and their Non-Muslim Subjects, a pioneering treatise on the status of the dhimmis:

...[C]aliphs destroyed churches to obtain materials for their buildings, and the mob was always ready to pillage churches and monasteries...dhimmis...always lived on sufferance, exposed to the caprices of the ruler and the passions of the mob...in later times..[t]hey were much more liable to suffer from the violence of the crowd, and the popular fanaticism was accompanied by an increasing strictness among the educated. The spiritual isolation of Islam was accomplished. The world was divided into two classes, Muslims and others, and only Islam counted...Indeed the general feeling was that the leavings of the Muslims were good enough for the dhimmis.

S.D. Goitein, in essays published three to four decades later (i.e., 1963, and 1970), highlighted the economic and other adverse social consequences of both the jizya itself, and the attendant regulations of the system of dhimmitude:

..consideration [of] the immense extent of poverty and privation experienced by the masses, and in particular, their persistent lack of cash, which turned the 'season of the tax' into one of horror, dread, and misery.

An Islamic state was part of or coincided with dar al-Islam, the House of Islam. Its treasury was mal al-muslumin, the money of the Muslims. Christians and Jews were not citizens of the state, not even second class citizens. They were outsiders under the protection of the Muslim state, a status characterized by the term dhimma, for which protection they had to pay a poll tax specific to them. They were also exposed to a great number of discriminatory and humiliating laws...As it lies in the very nature of such restrictions, soon additional humiliations were added, and before the second century of Islam was out, a complete body of legislation in this matter was in existence...In times and places in which they became too oppressive they lead to the dwindling or even complete extinction of the minorities.

Ignoring the expected New York Times bowdlerization of the actual doctrine and history of this brutally imposed blood ransom [note to New York Times: the Mafia analogy is completely consistent with doctrinal and historical reality, and not some sort of modern aberration], the non-editorial information provided illustrates clearly, in real time, the horrors of the system of jihad imposed-dhimmitude as applied across the length and breadth of Islamic societies, since the advent of Islam.

Also, this odd reference to "Jews" needs to be explained: "the jizya was collected and paid by Jewish and Christian leaders to the insurgents operating on the west bank of the Tigris River..."-what Jewish leader(s), and for which Jews? Regardless, these alarming details from The New York Times story demonstrate how the jizya, true to its sacralized Koranic origins, remains "the tax paid in lieu of being slain," under threat of "renewed" conditions of murderous jihad, and also why its collection was accompanied by "horror, dread, and misery":

As priests do everywhere, Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, the leader of the Chaldean Catholics in this ancient city, gathered alms at Sunday Mass. But for years the money, a crumpled pile of multicolored Iraqi dinars, went into an envelope and then into the hand of a man who had threatened to kill him and his entire congregation. "What else could he do?" asked Ghazi Rahho, a cousin of the archbishop. "He tried to protect the Christian people."But American military officials now say that as security began to improve around Iraq last year, Archbishop Rahho, 65, stopped paying the protection money, one sliver of the frightening larger shadow of violence and persecution that has forced hundreds of thousands of Christians from Iraq. That decision, the officials say, may be why he was kidnapped in February. Two weeks later, his body was found in a shallow grave outside Mosul, the biblical city of Nineveh. [emphasis added]

Officials say the demands could be hundreds of dollars a month per male member of a household. In many cases, Christian families drained their life savings and went into debt to make the payments. Insurgents also raised money by kidnapping priests. The ransoms, often paid by the congregations, typically ran as high as $150,000, several priests and lay Christians said.

It is within this overall historical context that one must view contemporary Muslim pronouncements regarding the status of non-Muslims -- including the beleaguered Christians of Iraq -- under past, present, and future Islamic rule. Finally any claim of long term "success" regarding the great expenditure of American blood and treasure during our venture in Iraq must be accompanied by tangible evidence that all vestiges of the heinous system of jihad-imposed dhimmitude have been eliminated. That claim simply cannot be made at present.

Andrew G. Bostom is a frequent contributor to Frontpage Magazine.com, and the author of The Legacy of Jihad, and the forthcoming The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism.



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