The Dhimmi, two Omars and a Sura

Here's an article on the refusal of the media (and other politically correct institutions) to report accurately on the attitude of Islam toward Jews and Christians.

Of course, the historiography is sloppy, and it only goes to reinforce the point that a great deal of unreasoned prejudice against Islam (as a religion) and Muslims generally (as opposed to a minority) is a very real phenomenon

The "Conditions of Omar" (or "Umar") supposedly date from the time of Caliph Omar I (634–644), but most scholarship suggests that they are apocryphal, and actually originated in the 9th Century. Some recent scholarship, however,  suggests that they may be much earlier, and in fact contemporaneous with the reign of Omar. Either way, there are so many versions of the "Conditions" or "Assurance" or "Covenant" of Omar that it is probably impossible to state their content with much accuracy. Some even claim that it was the Christians and Jews of Omar's domain who suggested them!

Omar, in any case, has an historical reputation for lenient treatment of the non-Muslim populations under his rule.  He seems an unlikely persecutor of the dhimmi (Jews and Christians under Muslim rule). Some plausibly suggest that the caliph responsible for their promulgation was in fact Omar II (717–720), whose reputation is... well, otherwise.

One thing is certain: The Koran (Sura 9:29), says quite clearly says,

Fight those who believe not in God nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by God and His Apostle, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth , (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.
The Jizya is a tax leveled on unbelievers. A Muslim defense of the requirement I've read essentially it boils down to saying that all that is actually required of non-Muslim subjects in Muslim-ruled lands is that they pay their lawful taxes. But there is some truth to the view that this "tax" could be more accurately be described as "protection money." And then, there's that problematic explanation in the sura of the purpose of the Jizya being to make the dhimmi "feel themselves subdued." It's hard to avoid the point that Sura 9:29 is a prescription for the humiliation of non-Muslims, and their relegation to the status of second-class citizens.

Now, there  is some plausibility to the claim  that the "Conditions of Omar" as related by the article linked to in the first paragraph do not accurately reflect the position of Mohammed, at least insofar as they take the principle of the sura a great deal further than it requires."Umar's Assurance," however, is an undisputedly  genuine document- although there are so many versions of its content that there is much debate about what it actually says! The relationship between the two seems to be similar to that between the mythical "annexation treaty" between the United States and the Republic of Texas- which most Texans (including Rick Perry) insist grants Texas the right to secede from the Union if it chooses to- and the actual Ordinance of Annexation, which Congress alone passed and is the only actual legal document adopted by either government. The Ordinance contains no such concession clause, and the "treaty" is an urban legend- though the two documents are often confused.

 Others (see this excellent and detailed discussion of the whole subject) are inclined to treat the "Conditions" or "Covenant" or "Assurances" of Omar as a generic topic for the entire Islamic legislation concerning the dhimmi during the Caliphate.In any case, four indisputable facts emerge.

First,  Islam indeed has a long history of discrimination and even persecution of the dhimmi, based soundly on the native and natural sense of the words of the Koran.

Secondly, persecution of the dhimmi continues today in many Islamic countries, and it can be plausibly defended on the basis of the Koran.

Third,  attempts to argue otherwise are disingenuous.

And finally, prejudice against Islam and Muslims are nevertheless very real phenomena, manifested by simplistic accounts of complex issues such as the article linked to in the first paragraph, and a perverse tendency of some to blame all versions of Islam (and, by extension, all Muslims) for ideas and practices which, however deeply rooted in Islam and even the Koran, of which for they themselves do not approve.

To sum up, the Eighth Commandment even applies to Muslims. That Commandment, together with Martin Luther's explanation of the same, reads thusly:
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

What does this mean?--Answer.

We should fear and love God that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander, or defame our neighbor, but defend him, [think and] speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.


Popular Posts