Monday, September 12, 2011

Why 'Christian' Persecution?

by Raymond Ibrahim

Some are asking why my new monthly series, "Muslim Persecution of Christians," wherein I collate and assess some of the atrocities committed by Muslims against Christians, does not include the persecution of other religious minority groups; others are suggesting I broaden my scope to include all minorities, for instance, homosexuals.

Of course other minority groups—essentially any religion other than Islam (or even the wrong kind of Islam, e.g., Shi'ism, Sufism)—experience persecution in the Muslim world. Accordingly, others qualified in the particulars of the various religions and civilizations persecuted by Islam are encouraged to collate and comment on them, monthly or otherwise.

That said, a series documenting the persecution of Christians under Islam is necessary for several reasons:

First, most religious persecution in the Muslim world is by far directed against Christians. Several reasons account for this, for starters, sheer numbers: from Morocco in the west, to Pakistan in the east, and throughout most of Africa, wherever Muslims make a majority, there are more Christians than other religious minorities; this tends to be true even along Islam's periphery, like Indonesia, which also has a significant Buddhist and Hindu presence.

These large numbers are not simply a reflection of proselytization, but the fact that much of what is today called "the Muslim world" stands atop land that was seized by force and conquest from Christians, whose descendants still remain, sometimes in large numbers, such as Egypt, where the indigenous Copts make millions (unlike the Jews, who managed to make it back to their ancestral homeland, these Christians are already on their homeland and have nowhere to go).

Moreover, by collating and tracing the same patterns of abuse regarding all things intrinsically Christian—people, churches, crosses, Bibles—one can better highlight and articulate the issue as a distinct phenomenon, which it is.

It is true that Muslim aggression and violence knows no bound and is regularly directed against all non-Muslims in general. But it is equally true that the wider the scope, the more the net catches, the more generic the anecdotes become, the more they are liable to be dismissed by the mainstream as a product of non-ideological factors (from poverty to politics)—even though that is not the case.

On the other hand, by focusing on one group, one phenomenon, one can more clearly and unequivocally connect the dots, present a more focused case.

For example, while Muslim animus for Israel is interconnected to Muslim animus for Christians and others, it should be, and is, highlighted as a distinct phenomenon to be acknowledged and rectified. Were one to lump Israel with the rest of the "others" on Islam's hit list—Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Sufis, homosexuals, et al—without giving it any special attention, focus would be lost on the particulars of its fight, its history, and all the other aspects that make its conflict singular.

Accordingly, even though connecting the various manifestations of Muslim aggression is useful, particularly as it provides the big picture, when certain arenas reach a fever pitch, there is no wrong that they be highlighted separately, say, through one monthly report.

There are, of course, practical issues to consider as well: a document collating all Muslim aggression and persecution would not only be too cumbersome and long to read, but redundant; better simply to visit Jihad Watch for a comprehensive survey of Islam's daily doings.

Finally, one needs to be knowledgeable of the history and civilizations of the peoples being persecuted in order to do them justice, to demonstrate historical continuity, show past precedents, connect the dots, etc. And while I'm intimately acquainted with the particulars of Muslim-Christian interactions—historically, theologically, even personally—I'm less so with the particulars of, say, Muslim-Buddhist interactions.

I therefore leave it to others to highlight the various minority groups' plights—ideally not merely by listing the various anecdotes, but by demonstrating continuity for that particular group's history with Islam.

Raymond Ibrahim


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

1 comment:

Ben Tzur said...

I am sure that Raymond Ibrahim has read a good deal of the available literature on Muslim-dhimmi and Muslim-non-Muslim relations, but some of his readers may not be familiar with some key works that shed a lot of light on these topics. I would like to mention just a few essential titles, of high scholarly standard. First of all, the Center for the Study of Political Islam has recently put out a multi-volumed anthology of, and clear and succinct commentaries on "the Islamic Trilogy": the three chief classic Islamic sources: the Qur'an, the Hadith (legal traditions stemming from Muhammad's sayings), and the Sira (biographical accounts of Muhammad's life and practice, which also set ritual and legal precedents and religious/moral values). There are volumes in The Islamic Trilogy series entitled "Mohammed, Allah, and the Christians: The Foundational Doctrine" (Vol. 6), "Mohammed, Allah, and the Jews" (Vol. 5), Mohammed, Allah, and Hinduism (Vol. 7), and, quite relevantly, Mohammed, Allah, and the Mind of War (Vol. 9, dealing with Jihad teachings and practice). Each volume is about 250 pages long, and can be purchased for about $13 (list price $19).

The most thorough and scholarly study of the history of the treatment of non-Muslims in conflict situations is Andrew G. Bostom, ed., The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims (2005). It contains extensive extracts dealing with jihad not only from the Qur'an and Hadith, together with classical and modern Muslim commentaries on these, but also medieval and modern writings of Muslim jurists and theologians relating to the laws of war and conquest, and the status of non-Muslims, followed by 10 essays by modern academics on various aspects of the Muslim understanding and practice of jihad. Yet more scholarly essays, covering 200 pages, review the history of jihad and analyse specific examples, followed by 100 pages of Muslim and non-Muslim chronicles and eye-witness accounts.

These give the basic historical and theological/theoretical understanding that is needed to discuss these matters accurately.

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