2 Jan 2013
Elliott A Green
Whether or not we accept Islam as a religion, we may agree that it is also a social system. I would argue that traditional Muslim society is an occupation regime. It is a regime imposed on conquered peoples by conquerors, who were at first Arabs. It is designed to foreclose resistance or opposition by the subject peoples. It is meant to keep them down while they pay tribute [jizya, as per Quran 9:29] and support their conquerors. Indeed, Bernard Lewis writes that in the early years after the Arab-Muslim conquests, the Muslims did not accept converts. This changed, although I don't know when. Yet, as Bat Yeor writes, in the early period the subject peoples were the subjugated majorities --hence more dangerous than later when they had become minorities. Despite having become minorities, sometimes quite small minorities, the oppression of these dhimmis intensified, got worse, as they declined as a proportion of the whole society. Yet, although the dhimma was no longer needed to keep the non-Muslim subject peoples in check, it not only remained in effect but was often applied more strictly and harshly than before.
This proves that it is not wise to weaken oneself vis-a-vis hostile Muslims, in hopes that peace and more respectful treatment will ensue. Yet how do we explain the maintenance of an occupation regime in force long after a realistic need for it in order to maintain the conquest? That's a question that I cannot answer, although the reason may be that Islam is rigid and unyielding, sadistic and perhaps incapable of constructive and beneficial change. Of course there are changes in Muslim society, but Lewis and others indicate that change may be prompted by military defeat.
In addition to Lewis and Bat Yeor, among others, in re treatment of dhimmis, I think that Joseph Schumpeter has something to say about this in the section "Arab imperialism" in his book Imperialism.
14 Jan 2013
Of course by the standards of this day, the leaders of Islam can have no claim to following a divine path. I would rather see Islam in its historical context. Conditions were severe in the Arabian desert, and civilization did arise with the study of the Qu'ran. We would not deny the many gifts and benefits that the Torah brought, even though Joshua, rightly, gave the Canaanites the choice of following Jewish law, leaving, or fighting, which meant extermination. It would also be wrong to deny the blessings of Christ's teachings because of the tragic Inquisition or the Salem witch trials. A religion, to be authentic, should be potent enough to unite formerly conflicting people.Now where can that be found, today?