Islam and "People of the Book"

The Islamic Supreme Council of America says "the Koran specifically refers to Jews and Christians as "people of the book" who should be protected and respected."

This "protection" was formally defined in the so-called "Pact of Umar" (Umar was the second supreme leader of Islam after Muhammad) which set out the sharia rules under which "dhimmis" (this was the name given to these "people of the Book") conquered by Muslims had to live. The pact's regulations conforms reasonably well to the treatment of non-Muslims under the best of times though Muslim rulers could add any conditions they wished. They became fourth-class citizens and had to pay an extortion tax (jizyah) and obey many onerous and humiliating rules. They were not allowed either horses or weapons and complaint was strictly forbidden. It has to be acknowledged that overall Jews suffered less from Islam than from Christianity but that sets the bar very low. The Ottomans had the particularly despicable devshirme-janissary system which, for centuries, enslaved and forcibly converted non-Muslim (mainly Balkan Christian) boys and made them soldier-slaves. With protection like that who needs oppression?

Epistle To YemenMoses Maimonides was born to a distinguished family in Cordoba, Spain in 1138. Al Andalus has today become a mythical realm of Islamic tolerance, scholarship and architectural brilliance that was financed largely through the jizyah taxation of Christians and Jews and the booty and tribute obtained in military raids on Christian lands. Unfortunately for Maimonides the Almohads, North African fundamentalist Islamic jihadists of the times invaded Cordoba in 1148, replaced the current rulers who they considered insufficiently Islamic and offered non-Muslims the choice of conversion, exile or death. Maimonides' family went into exile in Egypt. In 1165 C.E., the Moslem ruler of Yemen, gave the Jews a narrower choice: conversion to Islam or death. They requested help from Maimonides and he provided inspiration with a book: "Epistle To Yemen" and wordly help by convincing the ruler of Egypt to pressure the Yemeni ruler to forgo his threat. Maybe Maimonides was just unlucky.

The Christian, Jewish, and Zoroastrian peoples of the Middle East, North Africa, and much of Europe suffered under the oppressive strictures of the dhimma for centuries. The status of these dhimmi peoples is comparable in many ways to that of former slaves in the post-bellum American South. Forbidden to construct houses of worship or repair extant ones, economically crippled by the jizya, socially humiliated, legally discriminated against, and generally kept in a permanent state of weakness and vulnerability by the Muslim overlords, it should not be surprising that their numbers dwindled, in many places to the point of extinction. The generally misunderstood decline of Islamic civilization over the past several centuries is easily explained by the demographic decline of the dhimmi populations, which had provided the principal engines of technical and administrative competence. - Islam 101

"The Travels of Marco Polo" is a 13th-century travelogue in which Polo records:

The Mahometan inhabitants are treacherous and unprincipled. According to their doctrine, whatever is stolen or plundered from others of a different faith, is properly taken, and the theft is no crime; whilst those who suffer death or injury by the hands of Christians, are considered martyrs. If, therefore, they were not prohibited and restrained by the powers who now govern them, they would commit many outrages. These principals are common to all the Saracens.

In the 19th century Britain, Russia and France pressured the rulers of the Ottoman (Islamic) Empire to give their Christian and Jewish citizens more freedom. This was called "gunboat diplomacy." Improvements in the status of non-Muslims and the end of dhimmitude were not accepted in a good spirit by the "Muslim street." Once the Western powers were involved in WWI the Turks reverted to past methods and began the genocide of the Armenians to keep the uppity Christians under the heel of the Caliphate.

Muslim apologists claim that the Jews and Christians were treated wonderfully well under Muslim rule but historical research and the eyewitness evidence of 18th & 19th century European travellers through Muslim lands shows quite the opposite.

They [the Jews of Iran] live under profound oppression because they are considered as outlaws or outcasts. [T]he capricousness of the governor and the pack of his subordinates weigh upon them [the Jews]; they use any pretext to plunder the Jews with impunity; … One of the principal causes of the misery of the Jews is stirred up by the priests and descendants of the [Muslim] prophet, the Mullah and the Sayyids [Muslim clerics]. - Persia: The Country and It's Inhabitants, Jacob Eduard Polak, 1865

Eduard Polak (1818-1891), Austrian physician and writer was instrumental in establishing modern medicine in Iran. He was an instructor at the first modern higher education institution in Iran. From 1855 to 1860, he served as personal physician to the Shah of Iran.

The Copts of Egypt ISIS will emulate Muhammad and the early Caliphs. Conquered peoples will be given the 3 choices: death, conversion or pay jizyah (in a humiliating manner). Copts in Egypt are already under violent threat to once again pay jizyah from their fellow Muslim citizens. ISIS has issued a Dhimma Contract for Christians to sign. Violations of any article results in death (assuming an ISIS member can enfroce the contract).

The following are the contract's 11 articles:

  1. Christians may not build churches, monasteries, or hermitages in the city or in the surrounding areas.
  2. They may not show the cross or any of their books in the Muslims' streets or markets, and may not use amplifiers when worshiping or during prayer.
  3. They may not make Muslims hear the reciting of their books or the sounds of church bells, which must be rung only inside their churches.
  4. They may not carry out any act of aggression against ISIS, such as giving refuge to spies and wanted men. If they come to know of any plot against Muslims, they must report it.
  5. They must not perform religious rituals in public.
  6. They must respect Muslims and not criticize their religion.
  7. Wealthy Christians must pay an annual jizya of four gold dinars; middle-class Christians must pay two gold dinars, and the poor must pay one. Christians must disclose their income, and may split the jizya into two payments.
  8. They may not own guns.
  9. They may not engage in commercial activity involving pigs or alcohol with Muslims or in Muslim markets, and may not drink alcohol in public.
  10. They may maintain their own cemeteries.
  11. They must abide by ISIS dress code and commerce guidelines.

  • Sharia Versus Freedom: The Legacy of Islamic Totalitarianism - Andrew G. Bostom
  • The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims - Andrew G. Bostom
  • The Third Choice: Islam, Dhimmitude and Freedom - Mark Durie
  • In Ishmael's House - Martin Gilbert
  • The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia - and How It Died - John Philip Jenkins
  • Islamic Imperialism - Efraim Karsh
  • The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians Under Islam - Bat Ye'or