Cella's Review
Politics, Culture, the Public Square

“. . . And beer was drunk with reverence, as it ought to be.” — G. K. Chesterton

Monday, October 31, 2005  

“What indeed would it mean for Notre-Dame to become Hagia Sophia on the Seine? The victory of Mohammed over Christ is what it would mean; the Incarnate Son of God displaced by the desert seer with the multiple wives.”

William Murchison, Touchtone.

posted by Paul Cella | 10:53 AM |

This little piece of absurdity reminds me of two facts often neglected.

  • Despite our perfectly antique progressives, who regard them as lumbering machines of reaction, businesses are rarely very reliable as bulwarks of tradition or conservatism. Instead we find them regularly jumping on the bandwagon of social innovation. The reason for this is sound enough: it is not particularly profitable to take a stand on some polarizing issue, thereby alienating countless current or potential customers. But a conservatism that trusts in business to shelter a nation's traditions from the energumens is bound for disappointment.

  • An aging pluralistic society has little defense against an active and passionate religious minority. The whole structure of pluralism is formed by its commitment to this proposition: “all religious questions are open questions.” The whole structure of an active, passionate religious minority is formed by its commitment to the proposition that some religious questions are quite closed. And if the minority in question is animated by injunctions which know knowing of and concede nothing to pluralism — injunctions thoroughly inimical to pluralism — then the pluralist society is in a real bind. It will either belie its professed ideals and close questions by its own prejudices, or it will be gradually dismantled.

This is not the place to begin an extended critique of pluralism. But I think we can make a sketch of the real problem by noting the contradiction inherent to it. When a society makes its guiding ideal “all questions are open questions,” makes itself, in theory at least, an Open Society, it has entangled itself in one of the great blunders of modernity. For to pronounce that all questions are open, is to close at least one question of supreme importance — the question, namely, of whether all questions are open. It is to cast religion from the public square, and adopt a kind of implicit theology of noncommitalism or indifference; and every sincere believer, who hears the clear sounding of trumpets calling him to a service which transcends the troubled settlements of the ephemeral City of Man, cannot easily abide this public theology. He knows that his final allegiance cannot be given here below, and this, off at the end, is what the pluralist cannot abide.

A satisfactory solution to this ancient problem is not on offer. We are talking here about one of the oldest and most intractable of all political problems, which has exercised the great minds of philosophers and theologians and historians since we became self-aware. The pluralist’s conceit is that he has solved it for good.

posted by Paul Cella | 10:41 AM |

The actor Omar Sharif played Saint Peter in an Italian film. Afterward he was quoted as saying: "Playing Peter was so important for me that even now I can only speak about it with difficulty. It will be difficult for me to play other roles from now on."

The response from some of his fellow Muslims:

Omar Sharif has stated that he has embraced the crusader idolatry. He is a crusader who is offending Islam and Muslims and receiving applause from the Italian people. I give you this advice, brothers: you must kill him.

Anyone content to regard this threat as empty should consider the fate of Theo van Gogh.

Anyone given to agonizing over "why they hate us" should consider the mentality that makes a man marked for death for speaking tenderly of another religion.

posted by Paul Cella | 10:33 AM |

Wednesday, October 19, 2005  

Dr. Andrew Bostom is a physician specializing in Epidemiology. Since 1997 he has been part of the full-time medical faculty at one of the two major teaching hospital affiliates of Brown University. His current research focuses on the relationship between kidney and cardiovascular disease. Bostom is also the editor of the newly-released book The Legacy of Jihad, a compendium of writings, both modern and ancient, on the uniquely Islamic institution of Jihad. I interviewed him for Redstate via email over this past week.


PC: Dr. Bostom, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Your new book, The Legacy of Jihad, is a rich and chilling catalogue of the horrors visited upon peoples across the centuries and continents by the Islamic doctrine of holy war and its attendant corollaries; it is scholarly in form and execution, including a number of texts never before available in English; yet you yourself are by profession a medical doctor. Can you tell us about how you became interested in Islam, and how that interest developed into so ambitious a book?

AB: September 11, 2001 shocked me out of the complete absorption in my career in medicine and an accompanying uninformed complacency about world affairs. I grew up in New York City, spending the first 34 years of my life there, and the wife of one of our nephrology fellowship trainees barely made it out of the second World Trade Center tower before it collapsed. The cataclysmic events of 9/11 had very little context for me, so I set out to learn about Islam, reading voraciously. Starting with the writings of Karen Armstrong and John Esposito (how naïve and ironic it seems in retrospect!), I became thoroughly dissatisfied, in short order, with the entire genre of thinly veiled, treacly apologetics, sadly characteristic of modern popular and “academic” works on Islam. So I began what has become a ceaseless endeavor to educate myself, making liberal use of the vast research resources of the Brown University system. Learned, patient mentors, in particular Bat Ye’or and Ibn Warraq, facilitated my efforts. They encouraged me to complete what became The Legacy of Jihad, sharing the view, expressed so appositely by the prominent Middle East Studies Professor, Dr. Raphael Israeli, that the book filled a “yawning gap” in the literature on jihad. That is why in one rather large volume I combined a comprehensive analysis of both jihad theory and practice, the latter being a detailed survey of the brutal way jihad campaigns have always been waged — using a physician’s favorite learning and teaching tool, the mnemonic, in this case “MPED” — massacre, pillage, enslavement, and deportation.

PC: The Legacy of Jihad begins with “A Note on Cover Art” that alone is probably enough to shock and disturb readers unfamiliar (as many will be) with the centrality and antiquity of jihad in Islamic doctrine. Why did you choose the painting you did? To what extent is the event depicted there a pattern for how the Islamic religion came to understand itself?

AB: Tedious research lead to a wonderful discovery. In pouring through each written entry from an enormous catalogue of Persian miniatures held by the British Library (via The British Museum), I came across an item entitled, “The Prophet, Ali, and the Companions at the massacre of the prisoners of the Jewish tribe of Beni Kuraizah [Banu Qurayzah].” Three months later when a CD-ROM arrived in the mail, I was ecstatic to learn that the British Library staff had responded to my special request — based only the title of the miniature — and reproduced what turned out to be this striking image.

September 622 C.E. marks a defining event in Islam — the hijra. Muhammad and a coterie of followers (the Muhajirun), persecuted by fellow Banu Quraysh tribesmen who rejected Muhammad’s authenticity as a divine messenger, fled from Mecca to Yathrib, later known as Medina. The Muslim sources described Yathrib as a Jewish city founded by a Palestinian diaspora population which had survived the revolt against the Romans. Distinct from the nomadic Arab tribes, the Jews of the north Arabian peninsula were highly productive oasis farmers. These Jews were eventually joined by itinerant Arab tribes from southern Arabia who settled adjacent to them and transitioned to a sedentary existence.

Following Muhammad’s arrival in Medina, he re-ordered Medinan society, eventually imposing his authority on each tribe. The Jewish tribes were isolated, some were then expelled, and the remainder attacked and exterminated. A consensus Muslim account of the massacre of the Qurayzah — one of the Jewish tribes of Medina — has emerged as conveyed by classical Muslim scholars of hadith (putative utterances and acts of Muhammad, recorded by pious Muslim transmitters), biographers of Muhammad’s life (especially Ibn Ishaq), jurists, and historians. This narrative is summarized as follows: Alleged to have aided the forces of Muhammad’s enemies in violation of a prior pact, the Qurayzah were subsequently isolated and besieged. Twice the Qurayzah made offers to surrender, and depart from their stronghold, leaving behind their land and property. Initially they requested to take one camel load of possessions per person, but when Muhammad refused this request, the Qurayzah asked to be allowed to depart without any property, taking with them only their families. However, Muhammad insisted that the Qurayzah surrender unconditionally and subject themselves to his judgment. Compelled to surrender, the Qurayzah were lead to Medina. The men with their hands pinioned behind their backs, were put in a court, while the women and children were said to have been put into a separate court. A third (and final) appeal for leniency for the Qurayzah was made to Muhammad by their tribal allies the Aus. Muhammad again declined, and instead he appointed as arbiter Sa’ad Mu’adh from the Aus, who soon rendered his concise verdict: the men were to be put to death, the women and children sold into slavery, the spoils to be divided among the Muslims.

W.H.T. Gairdner, the renowned early 20th century scholar of Islam, also relying exclusively upon Muslim sources, highlights the pivotal role that Muhammad himself played in orchestrating the overall events, concluding:

The umpire who gave the fatal decision (Sa’ad) was extravagantly praised by Muhammad. Yet his action was wholly and admittedly due to his lust for personal vengeance on a tribe which had occasioned him a painful wound . . . The arbitration of Sa’ad . . . had been forced on him by Muhammad; for Sa’ad first declined and tried to make Muhammad take the responsibility, but was told “Allah has commanded you to give sentence in their case.” From every point of view therefore the evidence is simply crushing that Muhammad was the ultimate author of this massacre.

In the immediate aftermath of the massacre, the Muslims benefited substantially from the Qurayzah’s assets which they seized as booty. The land and property acquired helped the Muslims gain their economic independence. The military strength of the Muslim community of Medina grew due to the weapons obtained. The captured women and children were sold for horses and more weapons. The Jewish tribe of the Qurayzah ceased to exist.

Abu Yusuf (d. 798), the prominent Hanafi jurist who advised Abbasid Caliph Harun al-Rashid (d. 809), made the following observations about the Qurayzah massacre in his writings on jihad, which highlight how the Qurayzah’s grisly fate became a normative model in Islamic Law:

Whenever the Muslims besiege an enemy stronghold, establish a treaty with the besieged who agree to surrender on certain conditions that will be decided by a delegate, and this man decides that their soldiers are to be executed and their women and children taken prisoner, this decision is lawful. This was the decision of Sa’ad b. Mu’adh in connection with the Banu Qurayzah . . . It is up to the imam to decide what treatment is to be meted out to them and he will choose that which is preferable for religion and for Islam. If he esteems that the execution of the fighting men and the enslavement of their women and children is better for Islam and its followers, then he will act thus, emulating the example of Sa’ad b. Mu’adh.

PC: In a recent speech President Bush insisted that the “ideology” of the terrorists, who “distort the idea of jihad,” is “very different from the religion of Islam” and indeed “exploits Islam to serve a violent, political vision.” In your view, is the President’s assessment sound?

AB: The President’s comments regarding jihad were a profound disappointment. Indeed, such words could have been written and uttered by the most uninformed, or deliberately disingenuous apologists for this devastating institution, which is uniquely Islamic, well over a millennium old, and still wreaking havoc today.

The origins of the Muslim institution of jihad are found in the Qur’an. Sura (chapter) 9 is devoted in its entirety to war proclamations. There we read that the Muslim faithful are to “slay the idolaters wherever you find them. . . . Fight against such as those who have been given the scripture as believe not in Allah. . . . Go forth, light-armed and heavy armed, and strive with your wealth and your lives in the way of Allah. That is best for you, if ye but knew.” From such verses in the Qur’an and in the hadith, Muslim jurists and theologians formulated the Islamic institution of permanent jihad war against non-Muslims to bring the world under Islamic rule (Shari’a law).

The consensus on the nature of jihad from major schools of Islamic jurisprudence is clear. Summarizing this consensus of centuries of Islamic thought, the seminal Muslim scholar Ibn Khaldun, who died in 1406, wrote:

In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty because of the universalism of the mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force. The other religious groups did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty for them, save only for purposes of defense.

Only Islam, Ibn Khaldun added, “is under obligation to gain power over other nations.”

Muhammad himself waged a series of proto-jihad campaigns to subdue the Jews, Christians and pagans of Arabia. For example, within a year after the massacre of the Banu Qurayzah, referred to earlier, Muhammad, according to a summary of sacralized Muslim sources,

. . . waited for some act of aggression on the part of the Jews of Khaybar, whose fertile lands and villages he had destined for his followers . . . to furnish an excuse for an attack. But, no such opportunity offering, he resolved in the autumn of this year [i.e., 628], on a sudden and unprovoked invasion of their territory.

Ali (later, the fourth “Rightly Guided Caliph”, and especially revered by Shi’ite Muslims) asked Muhammad why the Jews of Khaybar were being attacked, since they were peaceful farmers, tending their oasis, and was told by Muhammad he must compel them to submit to Islamic Law.

The renowned early 20th century scholar of Islam, David Margoliouth, observed aptly: “Now the fact that a community was idolatrous, or Jewish, or anything but Mohammedan, warranted a murderous attack upon it.”

Within two years of Muhammad’s death, Abu Bakr, the first Caliph, launched the Great Jihad. The ensuing three decades witnessed Islam’s most spectacular expansion, as Muslim armies subdued the entire Arabian peninsula, and conquered territories which had been in Greco-Roman possession since the reign of Alexander the Great.

The essential pattern of the jihad war is captured in the classical Muslim historian al-Tabari’s recording of the recommendation given by Umar b. al-Khattab (the second “Rightly Guided Caliph”) to the commander of the troops he sent to al-Basrah (636 C.E.), during the conquest of Iraq. Umar reportedly said:

Summon the people to God; those who respond to your call, accept it from them, (This is to say, accept their conversion as genuine and refrain from fighting them) but those who refuse must pay the poll tax out of humiliation and lowliness. (Qur’an 9:29) If they refuse this, it is the sword without leniency. Fear God with regard to what you have been entrusted.

By the time of al-Tabari’s death in 923, jihad wars had expanded the Muslim empire from Portugal to the Indian subcontinent. Subsequent Muslim conquests continued in Asia, as well as Eastern Europe. The Christian kingdoms of Armenia, Byzantium, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Croatia, and Albania, in addition to parts of Poland and Hungary, were also conquered and Islamized. Arab Muslim invaders engaged, additionally, in continuous jihad raids that ravaged and enslaved Sub-Saharan African animist populations, extending to the southern Sudan. When the Muslim armies were stopped at the gates of Vienna in 1683, over a millennium of jihad had occurred. These tremendous military successes spawned a triumphalist jihad literature. Muslim historians recorded in detail the number of infidels slaughtered, or enslaved and deported, the cities and villages which were pillaged, and the lands, treasure, and movable goods seized. Christian (Coptic, Armenian, Jacobite, Greek, Slav, etc.), as well as Hebrew sources, and even the scant Hindu and Buddhist writings which survived the ravages of the Muslim conquests, independently validate this narrative, and complement the Muslim perspective by providing testimonies of the suffering of the non-Muslim victims of jihad wars.

It is the consensus view of orthodox Islamic jurisprudence regarding jihad, since its formulation during the 8th and 9th centuries, through the current era, that non-Muslims peacefully going about their lives — from the Khaybar farmers whom Muhammad ordered attacked in 628, to those sitting in the World Trade Center on 9/11/01 — are muba’a in the Dar ul Harb. And these innocent non-combatants can be killed, and have always been killed, with impunity simply by virtue of being “harbis” during endless razzias or full scale jihad campaigns that have occurred continuously since the time of Muhammad, through the present. This is the crux of the institutionalized ideology that we are fighting, i.e., jihad, notwithstanding President Bush’s unfortunate public mischaracterization.

PC: The term dhimmitude has entered general parlance in many intellectual circles, due in large part to the work of Bat Ye'or. You rely on it in your book as well. Can you give us a description of its genesis and development?

AB: In The Laws of Islamic Governance al-Mawardi (d. 1058), a renowned jurist of Baghdad, examined the regulations pertaining to the lands and infidel (i.e., non-Muslim) populations subjugated by jihad. This is the origin of the system of dhimmitude. The native infidel population had to recognize Islamic ownership of their land, submit to Islamic law, and accept payment of the poll tax (jizya). al-Mawardi highlights the most significant aspect of this consensus view of the jizya in classical Islamic jurisprudence: the critical connection between jihad and payment of the jizya. He notes that “The enemy makes a payment in return for peace and reconciliation.” Al-Mawardi then distinguishes two cases: (I) Payment is made immediately and is treated like booty, however “it does, however, not prevent a jihad being carried out against them in the future.” (II). Payment is made yearly and will “constitute an ongoing tribute by which their security is established.” Reconciliation and security last as long as the payment is made. If the payment ceases, then the jihad resumes. A treaty of reconciliation may be renewable, but must not exceed 10 years. In the chapter “The Division of the Fay and the Ghaneemah” (booty), al- Mawardi examines the regulations pertaining to the land taken from the infidels. With regard to land taken through treaty, specifically, he indicates two possibilities: either the infidels convert or they pay the jizya and their life and belongings are protected. And the nature of such “protection” is clarified in this definition of jizya by the respected Arabic lexicographer, E.W. Lane, based on a careful analysis of the etymology of the term:

The tax that is taken from the free non-Muslim subjects of a Muslim government whereby they ratify the compact that assures them protection, as though it were compensation for not being slain

Another important aspect of the jizya is the widely upheld view of the classical schools of Islamic jurisprudence about the deliberately humiliating imposition and procurement of this tax. Here is a discussion of the ceremonial for collection of the jizya by the 13th century Shafi’i jurist an-Nawawi:

The infidel who wishes to pay his poll tax must be treated with disdain by the collector: the collector remains seated and the infidel remains standing in front of him, his head bowed and his back bent. The infidel personally must place the money on the scales, while the collector holds him by the beard, and strikes him on both cheeks.

Two remarkable accounts demonstrate the humiliating conditions under which the jizya was still being collected within the modern era. An Italian Jew traveling in Morocco in 1894, reported the following:

The kaid Uwida and the kadi Mawlay Mustafa had mounted their tent today near the Mellah [Jewish ghetto] gate and had summoned the Jews in order to collect from them the poll tax [jizya] which they are obliged to pay the sultan. They had me summoned also. I first inquired whether those who were European-protected subjects had to pay this tax. Having learned that a great many of them had already paid it, I wished to do likewise. After having remitted the amount of the tax to the two officials, I received from the kadi’s guard two blows in the back of the neck. Addressing the kadi and the kaid, I said “Know that I am an Italian protected subject.” Whereupon the kadi said to his guard: “Remove the kerchief covering his head and strike him strongly; he can then go and complain wherever he wants.” The guards hastily obeyed and struck me once again more violently. This public mistreatment of a European-protected subject demonstrates to all the Arabs that they can, with impunity, mistreat the Jews.

And in a letter from January 30, 1911 by Avram Elmaleh, Head of the Fez boys' school, to the President of the Alliance Israelite Universelle, Paris, we learn the degrading conditions imposed upon the rabbinical leaders of the Moroccan Jewish community, in connection with “community business” (i.e., such as payment of the jizya), even into the second decade of the 20th century:

I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your letter No. 1283 of 30 January, enclosing a letter from Rabbi Vidal Sarfaty. The rabbi asks you to intervene with Si Mohamed el Mokri, the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs, at present in Paris, for the abolition of the degrading custom imposed on Jews, not to enter Dar el Maghzen except barefoot. Unfortunately, the facts given in Rabbi Vidal's letter are correct. Jews must take off their shoes at the gate of Dar-Maghzen. Quite apart from the humiliation involved in this measure, it is an intolerable suffering for our co-religionists to be obliged to stand many hours barefoot on the earth of the Palace courtyard, which is either cold and damp or white-hot from the summer sun. Rabbi Vidal. a regular visitor to the Dar-Maghzen in connection with community business or on behalf of individuals, has often returned ill from a rather too long sojourn in front of the offices. It is my opinion that it would be impossible to obtain an order from the Sultan to allow Jews to enter the Palace with their shoes on. It is a concession which his pride would not permit, and one quite contrary to the Muslim conception of the relative positions of the Jews and themselves.

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, Zoroastrians, Hindus, and Buddhists-subjugated by jihad. Some of the more salient features of dhimmitude include: the prohibition of arms for the vanquished non-Muslims (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 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 dhimmt] 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 saddler-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.

Bat Ye’or is the most informed and insightful contemporary scholar of those unique Islamic institutions which regulate the relations between Muslims and non-Muslims: jihad, and its corollary institution, dhimmitude, the repressive and humiliating system of governance imposed upon those non-Muslims (i.e., dhimmis) subjugated by jihad. Although she coined the term dhimmitude, Bat Ye’or’s characterization of the salient features of this institution is entirely consistent with the views of important scholars from the early 20th century, for example, Sir Jadunath Sarkar, and Ivo Andric. Sarkar, the pre-eminent historian of Mughal India, wrote the following in 1920 regarding the impact of centuries of jihad and dhimmitude on the indigenous Hindus of the Indian subcontinent:

Islamic theology, therefore tells the true believer that his highest duty is to make “exertion (jihad) in the path of God,” by waging war against infidel lands (dar-ul-harb) till they become part of the realm of Islam (dar-ul-Islam) and their populations are converted into true believers. After conquest the entire infidel population becomes theoretically reduced to the status of slaves of the conquering army. The men taken with arms are to be slain or sold into slavery and their wives and children reduced to servitude. As for the non-combatants among the vanquished, if they are not massacred outright — as the canon lawyer Shaf’i declares to be the Qur’anic injunction — it is only to give them a respite till they are so wisely guided as to accept the true faith.

The conversion of the entire population to Islam and the extinction of every form of dissent is the ideal of the Muslim State. If any infidel is suffered to exist in the community, it is as a necessary evil, and for a transitional period only. Political and social disabilities must be imposed on him, and bribes offered to him from the public funds, to hasten the day of his spiritual enlightenment and the addition of his name to the roll of true believers [. . .]

A non-Muslim therefore cannot be a citizen of the State; he is a member of a depressed class; his status is a modified form of slavery. He lives under a contract (“zimma,” or “dhimma”) with the State: for the life and property grudgingly spared to him by the commander of the faithful he must undergo political and social disabilities, and pay a commutation money. In short, his continued existence in the State after the conquest of his country by the Muslims is conditional upon his person and property made subservient to the cause of Islam.

As the learned Qazi Mughis-ud-din declared, in accordance with the teachings of the books on Canon Law: “The Hindus are designated in the Law as ‘payers of tribute’ (kharaj-guzar); and when the revenue officer demands silver from them, they should, without question and with all humility and respect, tender gold. If the officer throws dirt into their mouths, they must without reluctance open their mouths wide to receive it. By these acts of degradation are shown the extreme obedience of the dhimmi, the glorification of the true faith of Islam, and the abasement of false faiths. God himself orders them to be humiliated, (as He says, ‘till they pay jaziya’) with the hand and are humbled…The Prophet has commanded us to slay them, plunder them, and make them captive . . . No other religious authority except the great Imam (Hanifa) whose faith we follow, has sanctioned the imposition of jaziya on Hindus. According to all other theologians, the rule for Hindus is ‘Either death or Islam’.”

The dhimmi is under certain legal disabilities with regard to testimony in law courts, protection under criminal law, and in marriage…he cannot erect new temples, and has to avoid any offensive publicity in the exercise of his worship . . . Every device short of massacre in cold blood was resorted to in order to convert heathen subjects. In addition to the poll-tax and public degradation in dress and demeanor imposed on them, the non-Muslims were subjected to various hopes and fears. Rewards in the form of money and public employment were offered to apostates from Hinduism. The leaders of Hindu religion and society were systematically repressed, to deprive the sect of spiritual instruction, and their religious gatherings and processions were forbidden in order to prevent the growth of solidarity and sense of communal strength among them. No new temple was allowed to be built nor any old one to be repaired, so that the total disappearance of Hindu worship was to be merely a question of time. But even this delay, this slow operation of Time, was intolerable to many of the more fiery spirits of Islam, who tried to hasten the abolition of “infidelity” by anticipating the destructive hand of Time and forcibly pulling down temples.

When a class are publicly depressed and harassed by law and executive caprice alike, they merely content themselves with dragging on an animal existence. With every generous instinct of the soul crushed out of them, the intellectual culture merely adding a keen edge to their sense of humiliation, the Hindus could not be expected to produce the utmost of which they were capable; their lot was to be hewers of wood and drawers of water to their masters, to bring grist to the fiscal mill, to develop a low cunning and flattery as the only means of saving what they could of their own labor. Amidst such social conditions, the human hand and the human spirit cannot achieve their best; the human soul cannot soar to its highest pitch. The barrenness of intellect and meanness of spirit of the Hindu upper classes are the greatest condemnation of Muhammadan rule in India. The Muhammadan political tree judged by its fruit was an utter failure.

Andric, a trained historian and Nobel Prize winning historical novelist, analyzed the “rayah” (meaning “herd”, and “to graze a herd”) or dhimmi condition imposed upon the indigenous Christian population of Bosnia, for over four centuries. Those native Christian inhabitants who refused to apostasize to Islam lived under the Ottoman Kanun-i-Rayah, which merely reiterated the essential regulations of dhimmitude originally formulated by Muslim jurists and theologians in the 7th and 8th centuries. Andric mustered

a wealth of irrefutable evidence that the main points of the Kanun, just those that cut the deepest into the moral and economic life of Christians, remained in full force right up to the end of Turkish rule and as long as the Turks had the power to apply them…[thus] it was inevitable that the rayah decline to a status that was economically inferior and dependent.

Andric cites a Bosnian Muslim proverb, and a song honoring Sultan Bayezid II, whose shared perspectives reflect Muslim attitudes toward the Christian rayahs:

The rayah is like the grass Mow it as much as you will, still it springs up anew
Once you’d broken Bosnia’s horns
You mowed down what would not be pruned
Leaving only the riffraff behind
So there’d be someone left to serve us and grieve before the cross

These prevailing discriminatory conditions were exacerbated by Bosnia’s serving as either a battlefield or staging ground during two centuries of Ottoman razzias and formal jihad campaigns against Hungary. Overcome by excessive taxation and conscript labor,

Christians therefore began to abandon their houses and plots of land situated in level country and along the roads and to retreat back into the mountains. And as they did so, moving ever higher into inaccessible regions, Muslims took over their former sites.

Moreover, those Christians living in towns suffered from the rayah system’s mandated impediments to commercial advancement by non-Muslims:

Islam from the very outset, excluded such activities as making wine, breeding pigs, and selling pork products from commercial production and trade. But additionally Bosnian Christians were forbidden to be saddlers, tanners, or candlemakers or to trade in honey, butter, and certain other items. Countrywide, the only legal market day was Sunday. Christians were thus deliberately faced with the choice between ignoring the precepts of their religion, keeping their shops open and working on Sundays, or alternatively, forgoing participation in the market and suffering material loss thereby. Even in 1850, in Jukic’s “Wishes and Entreaties” we find him beseeching “his Imperial grace” to put an end to the regulation that Sunday be market day.

Christians were also forced to pay disproportionately higher taxes than Muslims, including the intentionally degrading non-Muslim poll-tax.

This tax was paid by every non-Muslim male who had passed his fourteenth year, at the rate of a ducat per annum. But since Turkey had never known birth registers, the functionary whose job it was to exact the tax measured the head and neck of each boy with a piece of string and judged from that whether a person had arrived at a taxable age or not. Starting as an abuse that soon turned into an ingrained habit, then finally established custom, by the last century of Turkish rule every boy without distinction found himself summoned to pay the head tax. And it would seem this was not the only abuse…Of Ali-Pasa Stocevic, who during the first half of the nineteenth century was vizier and all but unlimited ruler of Herzegovina, his contemporary, the monk Prokopije Cokorilo, wrote that he “taxed the dead for six years after their demise” and that his tax collectors “ran their fingers over the bellies of pregnant women, saying ‘you will probably have a boy, so you have to pay the poll tax right away . . . The following folk saying from Bosnia reveals how taxes were exacted: “He’s as fat as if he’d been tax collecting in Bosnia.”

The specific Kanun-i-Rayah stipulations which prohibited the rayahs from riding a saddled horse, carrying a saber or any other weapon in or out of doors, selling wine, letting their hair grow, or wearing wide sashes, were strictly enforced until the mid-19th century. Hussamudin-Pasa, in 1794 issued an ordinance which prescribed the exact color and type of clothing the Bosnian rayah had to wear. Barbers were prohibited from shaving Muslims with the same razors used for Christians. Even in bathhouses, Christians were required to have specifically marked towels and aprons to avoid confusing their laundry with laundry designated for Muslims. Until at least 1850, and in some parts of Bosnia, well into the 1860s, a Christian upon encountering a Muslim, was required to jump down from his (unsaddled) horse, move to the side of the road, and wait for the latter to pass.

Christianity’s loud and most arresting symbol, church bells, Andric notes, always drew close, disapproving Turkish scrutiny, and, “Wherever there invasions would go, down came the bells, to be destroyed or melted into cannon.” Predictably,

Until the second half of the nineteenth century, “nobody in Bosnia could even think of bells or bell towers.” Only in 1860 did the Sarajevo priest Fra Grgo Martic manage to get permission from Topal Osman-Pasa to hang a bell at the church in Kresevo. Permission was granted, thought, only on condition that “at first the bell be rung softly to let the Turks get accustomed to it little by little”. And still the Muslim of Kresevo were complaining, even in 1875, to Sarajevo that “the Turkish ear and ringing bells cannot coexist in the same place at the same time”; and Muslim women would beat on their copper pots to drown out the noise…on 30 April 1872, the new Serbian Orthodox church also got a bell. But since the . . . Muslims had threatened to riot, the military had to be called in to ensure that the ceremony might proceed undisturbed.

The imposition of such disabilities, Andric observes, extended beyond church ceremonies, as reflected by a 1794 proclamation of the Serbian Orthodox church in Sarajevo warning Christians not to

sing during . . . outings, nor in their houses, nor in other places. The saying “Don’t sing too loud, this village is Turk” testifies eloquently to the fact that this item of the Kanun [-i-Rayah] was applied outside church life as well as within.

Andric concludes, “For their Christian subjects, their [Ottoman Turkish] hegemony brutalized custom and meant a step to the rear in every respect.”

The degrading and discriminatory system of dhimmitude has never been acknowledged let alone condemned by either the governments, or elites of the (more than 50) contemporary member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Thus, not surprisingly, dhimmitude has survived into the present era, wholly intact in the most repressive Muslim theocracies like (Sunni) Saudi Arabia and (Shi’ite) Iran, but also at least as a forme fruste, in every other Islamic nation. As a result, religious persecution against non-Muslim minorities remains endemic to Islamic societies, on an unparalleled scale.

PC: Given the nature of Islam as laid out by the Islamic authorities you have quoted, what is a Western policy toward Islam, including the sensitive issue of Muslim immigration to the West, consistent with these Islamic realities?

AB: I agree with the thrust of what Dr. Raphael Israeli described in his seminal analysis of modern jihad terrorism published in 2003. He proposes the creation of an Alliance of Western and Democratic States (AWADS), consisting of a nucleus of the United States, Canada, Australia, and Western Europe (and these core nations can sponsor other countries proven to conform to its rules and standards, for example, India), with the following six avowed “rules of engagement”:

  • Strict control of immigration from Muslim countries without reliance on the "efforts" of the countries of origin, who have shown neither the will nor the means to stop this massive flow, much of it already illegal. This policy should include interception and routine unceremonious repatriation of the illegal immigrants themselves, and expulsion from AWADS nations of those who assist them.

  • Reciprocal arrangements for controlled immigration, tourism and educational exchanges between Muslim countries and AWADS nations to guarantee equivalent, unimpeded bilateral flow — Muslim nationals to AWADS, AWADS nationals to Muslim countries — devoid of characteristic Muslim discriminatory regulations towards other races, faiths, or nationalities.

  • Rendering various forms of economic, technical/infrastructural, health, agricultural, and educational assistance by AWADS to Muslim countries contingent upon basic conditions met by the applicants, including: accountability; progress in human rights; meaningful efforts at population control; renunciation of force/violence in dealing with other nations/communities; and monitoring and controlling incitement to hatred and violence in mosques and media outlets.

  • Terminating all military assistance and weapons sales by AWADS to non-member states, supplemented by a policy that any weapons-manufacturing third party which sells or transfers weapons to those regimes will itself forfeit the right to deal with AWADS members.

  • Mosque construction, as well as the building of other Muslim institutions in AWADS nations, particularly projects funded by Saudi Arabia, will be contingent upon reciprocal arrangements to construct religious institutions for other faiths in Muslim nations, including each country situated on the Arabian peninsula, and the binding commitment by all parties — AWADS and non-members of AWADS — that no incitement or hatred will be propagated in any of these religious institutions.

  • The importation into AWADS nations from Muslim countries of cultural commodities and assets — books, movies, art shows and exhibits, performing arts groups, clerics and missionaries, print media or audio/video tapes — must also be reciprocal, contingent upon the unrestricted flow of similar AWADS assets into Muslim countries- and all such assets will be required by law to be devoid of messages that disseminate hate.

PC: Given the resistance among Americans to anything that smacks of discrimination, what steps might we take to emasculate the doctrine of jihad?

AB: Fifteen years ago (September, 1990), Bat Ye’or made these prescient observations regarding what needed to be done by the Muslim leadership and clerical and intellectual elites to initiate an Islamic version of Vatican II, a sort of “Mecca-Cairo-Qom-Najaf One (I)” self-examination, mea culpa, and reform process:

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.

Sadly, a decade and one half later, most Muslim (and many Western) intellectuals continue to justify the concept of jihad as an inoffensive spiritual engagement with one’s own evil instincts, or purely “defensive” combat for “justice,” and dhimmitude is still completely denied, ignored or obfuscated. Therefore non-Muslims of all kinds who have been victimized and continue to be victimized by these heinous Muslim institutions must abandon their silence and be encouraged to describe this history openly in the hope that this process will elicit a sincere movement of acknowledgement, reform, and reconciliation within the world Muslim community. Admittedly, we seem generations away from such an overall process now. Thus in the interim, those preaching the bigoted and murderous doctrines of jihad within the West should be deported. Moreover, we in the West must press our political and religious leaders to demand that such bellicose, hate-mongering “educational” practices be abolished in all Islamic nations, without exception, under threat of severe, broad ranging economic sanctions.

PC: Thank you for your time, Dr. Bostom.

posted by Paul Cella | 12:06 PM |

Friday, October 14, 2005  

A fellow Redstate Editor, who goes by the pen-name Streiff, has given some thought to the implications of the Zawahiri letter, and his analysis, while cautious, is encouraging.

Ayman al-Zawahiri isn’t calling the shots in Iraq and it doesn’t look like he’s calling them anywhere else.

In July or August, US forces intercepted a letter from Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, erstwhile second-in-command and philosopher-in-residence of al-Qaeda to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaeda’s emir of Iraq.

The message that virtually screams from the pages of the letter is that al-Qaeda, as the organization existed in 2001, is either finished or very close to being finished.

There is some question about the authenticity of the letter. But even if it is a fake, one is inclined to wonder whether it is a “good” fake. Few things are more important than disturbing the confidence and equanimity of the enemy, of making him doubt his allies and question his means. The psychological character of this war should not be dismissed.

posted by Paul Cella | 11:03 AM |

Thursday, October 13, 2005  

The fine publishing house Liberty Fund generously sent me another of its handsome volumes. Liberty, Order and Justice by James McClellan. In my own opinion, and quite aside from the formidable fact that virtually everything published by Liberty Fund is worth reckoning, the aesthetic quality of these books is quite unparalleled in modern publishing. They are simply a pleasure to read. Rarely, however, are they particular easy to read; for Liberty Fund is not afraid to bring out something that will work the reader hard — by which I emphatically do not mean the sort of fabricated hard work that our brassbound literature professors, in their pompous obscurity, have been foisting on unsuspecting students for the last twenty-five years, but rather the kind of serious and exhilarating hard work that serious books once demanded, and occasionally still demand, of readers.

But I mention all this in order to take note of the quotation that greets the reader upon opening this book:

“Miracles do not cluster. Hold on to the Constitution of the United States of America and the republic for which it stands. — What has happened once in six thousand years may never happen again. Hold on to your Constitution, for if the American Constitution shall fail there will be anarchy throughout the world.”
Daniel Webster

Now that, friends, is the way to open a book on American government.

This reminded me, by one of those strange indescribable flashes of memory, of the prefatory note that the historian Paul Johnson appended to his grand book A History of the American People:

This book is dedicated to the people of America — strong, outspoken, intense in their convictions, sometimes wrong-headed but always generous and brave, with a passion for justice no nation has ever matched.

It occurs to me that many books have striking and powerful prefatory notices; the sort of thing that really grabs hold of your attention by telling you something at once defiant and reassuring about the book before you. I open this to my readers: Do you have any other examples? Leave a comment or email me and I’ll post them.

posted by Paul Cella | 9:40 PM |

My reply to the next GOP fundraising letter I receive: link.

posted by Paul Cella | 11:15 AM |

Wednesday, October 12, 2005  

There is, I suppose, some hope in the analysis of this article. That there is evident dissension among the ranks of the jihadists is cause for, if not optimism, at least a certain satisfaction. We read, for example, of one Abu Baseer al-Tartusi, a Londoner and “major jihadi ideologue,” who has dissented from the dominant position that the massacre of civilians is justified by Islamic doctrine. Well and good. But then we get this:

Arguments can be built on Abu Baseer’s position that suicide attacks inevitably involve the killing of innocent civilians, including Muslims living in the West, and that these are difficult to justify in Islamic law. Rather than expelling him from his asylum in Britain, concerned authorities ought to allow Abu Baseer to remain in Britain and make his case, which amounts to one of the first principled arguments by a jihadi thinker against suicide bombings since 9/11.

In other words, we have one principled dissent from a scholar credible with our enemies in four years.

posted by Paul Cella | 9:16 AM |

Thursday, October 06, 2005  

A question that all of us on the Right are now wrestling with, and that many of us have been wrestling with for some time, is, Do we trust the leadership of President Bush and the governing coalition he leads? The proximate cause of the new intensity surrounding this question, of course, is the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. I will not rehearse the specifics of the dispute over this nomination (any reader of this website, and a hundred others, will be familiar enough with them), except to say again that it comes down to an issue of trust — trust in its very special application to the political leadership of a republic. The Right has seen its men carried in victory to the highest governing authority in America, has seen its leaders become the nation’s leaders, in politics and to some degree in the vast apparatus of opinion and public discussion surrounding politics, and yet the Right finds itself facing a lacerating question: Can we still trust them?

This question is one of no mean importance, nor is it one that admits of facile solution. It is, indeed, a reformulation in contemporary terms of one of the most basic and ancient of the political problems confronting mankind. It is the problem of patriotic allegiance. All great things — freedom, for instance, or justice — when they enter into human politics become problems. They become elusive and controversial and baffling; they cannot be perfected or perfectly preserved; yet neither can they ever be abandoned. They are problems: this one is among the greatest. And I think much of the passion and even ferocity of the debate over the President’s Supreme Court nomination can be better understood, and hopefully mitigated, when we recognize that the debate has managed to implicate the much larger problem of patriotic allegiance.

Now let us have no illusions about the terrible weight suggested by that phrase, “patriotic allegiance”: If we begin from the premise that no earthly leader can possibly fulfill the longings for true Leadership which lie within the hearts of all men, then we can quickly reason to a tremendous and likely insoluble dilemma. The problem of patriotism must always take into account the particular character of the leadership of the nation; and the answer it will give must always descend to the final prudence and judgment of the citizen. The citizen, having thought deeply about the quality and integrity of his nation, and in that context, the leadership of his nation, is called upon to decide for himself lineaments of his allegiance. It cannot be that his nation commands his allegiance absolutely; I think everyone will recognize that a patriotism which knows no moral limits is fanaticism. Patriotism is not the highest good. Thus the problem can be put this way: How does the citizen ultimately balance his loyalty to his city, his nation, his country, his homeland, with his loyalty to a transcendent order of justice?

At the very heart of the predicament of this nation — a predicament characteristic of all the Western world — is the firm resolution of many citizens, unspoken and unexamined though it may often be, that the balance is settled against their country; that, in short, their country has departed so far from obligations of justice that patriotic allegiance is no longer defensible. This resolution, I fear, very often rests on one of two dreadful blunders, the first about the nature of man, the second not so much a blunder as a derangement: (1) Many have implicitly imbibed that blunder which, imagining that man and society are perfectible, goes by the name utopianism. (2) Still more have fallen under a kind of displacement psychosis, where a single man (Bush) becomes the foil for all their burning resentments and bitter disappointment about their country. Led by these two blunders — and of course some are influenced by not one or the other but both — men have resolved that America is unworthy of allegiance, except in the most nebulous regions of abstraction. The resolution, moreover, is seldom uttered openly but rather whispered or hinted, or clung to in brooding silence; and being concealed and suppressed, it is all the more poisonous. But beyond any doubt a significant minority of Americans have given up on their country; they no longer love her, because for them she is no longer lovable. They are predominantly but not exclusively men of the Left, and while their sincerity is not to be suspected, their good faith is.

Whatever we may think of these poor souls — and most of us, let us say candidly, are horrified and disgusted by them — it cannot be said that the dilemma which broke them as patriots, the principled dilemma of allegiance, is easily dismissed. No indeed: we can see it ourselves, off in the distance, looming as it has over the human condition since the beginning; and now aggravated by a crushing disappointment on a matter of the profoundest gravity. We do not share our opponents’ confusion of the character of the nation with the character of its leadership, do not, in brief, allow President Bush to become a stand-in for all that we despise in our country; but we do emphatically share their dilemma. We do emphatically know, (1) that a good patriot might be forced to choose for his country even at the expense of the leader who seems to speak for her; and (2), off at the end, that the good man might be forced to choose between allegiance to his native land and loyalty to natural right. We do emphatically sense that oldest of conflicts between politics and philosophy.

To bring this discussion — which threatens by my own hand to race off into bewildering abstractions — back down to earth, I will set down four propositions. (1) The United States Supreme Court has established itself as the final constitutional authority on a great swath of the most perplexing and difficult issues before us. (2) Everybody realizes this and thus the nomination and confirmation of a new justice to the Court has become a principal drama in our political life. (3) This drama must, if we are to remain a republic, include not merely the influence, but the decisive influence of the sovereign people. (4) If it does not — if, that is, the people are removed from the position of sovereign, then a great many of the discerning among them will find themselves, almost against their will, forced to wrestle with that old and pulverizing question of allegiance: They will be forced to wonder whether a republic that is no longer a republic merits full loyalty; whether an illegitimate aristocracy of attorneys is a regime deserving of reverence; whether the usurpation of republican politics by the judiciary shall be allowed to continue with the acquiescence of both parties.

By no means do I say that President Bush precipitated this crisis alone by his nomination. Nothing could be further from the truth. The crisis has been growing on us like a cancer for forty years at least. It might even be that the possibility for this unique doom was unknowingly embedded in the very framework of our constitution as a people. Whatever be the truth, there can be little doubt that we will continue to have crises akin to this one so long as we suffer the Supreme Court to be our final authority on matters of great importance.

posted by Paul Cella | 2:11 PM |

Monday, October 03, 2005  

National Review reprints its obituary for Tolkien, now thirty years old.

posted by Paul Cella | 1:16 PM |

And essay of mine appears in the current issue of the fine magazine Touchstone. “Mammon’s Mastery,” they have entitled it. But it’s not online. You’ll have to subscribe to read it.

posted by Paul Cella | 8:18 AM |
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