Skip to comments.Muhammad's Tribe (the true history of Islam's suppression of conquered nations and people)
Posted on 01/13/2008 8:08:44 AM PST by Mrs. Don-o
Today's religious map of the Middle East traces to the unification of the Arabian tribes under the banner of Islam in the 7th century, and their subsequent conquest of much of the known world. Muhammad's genius was in finding a way to unite the myriad of fissiparous, feuding Bedouin tribes of northern Arabia into a cohesive polity. Just as he had provided a constitution of rules under which the people of Medina could live together, so he provided a constitution for all Arabs, but this one had the imprimatur not just of Muhammad, but of God. Submission -- Islam -- to God and His rules, spelled out in the Koran, bound Arabian tribesmen into the community of believers, the umma.
Building on the tribal system of "balanced opposition" -- the subject of yesterday's essay -- Muhammad was able to frame an inclusive structure within which the tribes had a common, God-given identity as Muslims. But unification was only possible by creating a tribalized enemy against which Muslims could make common cause. This Muhammad did by opposing Muslims against infidels; and the dar al-Islam, the land of Islam and peace, against the dar al-harb, the land of infidels and conflict. Through the precepts of Islam, traditional Bedouin raiding was sanctified as an act of religious duty.
With every successful battle against local unbelievers, especially after the critical early battle against the Meccans, more Bedouin joined the umma. Once united, the Bedouin warriors of the umma turned outward, teaching the world the meaning of jihad, holy war. The rest, as they say, is history.
The Arabs, in lightning thrusts, challenged and beat the Byzantines to the north and the Persians to the east, both weakened by their continuous wars with one another, thus imposing their control over the Christian majority in the Levant and the Zoroastrian majority in Persia, and therefore over the entire Middle East. These stunning successes were rapidly followed by conquests of Christian and Jewish populations in Egypt, Libya and North Africa's Maghreb (Arabic for "the West"), and, in the east, central Asia and the Hindu population of northern India. Not content with these triumphs, Arab armies invaded and subdued much of Christian Spain and Portugal, and all of Sicily. Since the Roman Empire, the world had not seen such power and reach. All fell before the Saracen blades.
Most accounts of Islamic history, even that of the Lindholm's esteemed The Islamic Middle East, glide over these conquests, as if they were friendly takeovers. But the truth was very different.
The evidence is overwhelming that vast numbers of infidel male warriors and civilians were slain, and that most of those spared, particularly the women and children, were enslaved for domestic and sexual servitude. While men who willingly converted were spared, their wives and children were taken as slaves. In conquered regions, children were
regularly taken from parents, while on the borders -- especially in Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Africa south of the Sahara -- raiding for slaves was normal practice. Of the male slaves, a substantial number were made eunuchs by the removal of sex organs, in order to serve in harems. This account of the Arab campaign in northern India illustrates the usual procedures:
"During the Arab invasion of Sindh (712 CE), Muhammad bin Qasim first attacked Debal It was garrisoned by 4,000 Kshatriya soldiers and served by 3,000 Brahmans. All males of the age of 17 and upwards were put to the sword and their women and children were enslaved. "[Seven hundred]
beautiful females, who were under the protection of Budh (that is, had taken shelter in the temple), were all captured with their valuable ornaments, and clothes adorned with jewels." Muhammad dispatched one-fifth of the legal spoil to Hajjaj, which included 75 damsels, the other four-fifths were distributed among soldiers."
The multitude of reports from Muslim, indigenous and other sources of the Islamic conquests are equally detailed and equally daunting to a modern reader. It is true that throughout history intergroup relations in most of the world were exploitative and repressive, and not infrequently brutal and bloodthirsty. The world of Islam was not so much an exception to this, as exemplary of it.
The theological foundation of the Arab Empire was the supremacy of Islam and the obligation of each Muslim to advance its domination. The notion of Jihad, in particular, served to establish the Muslim community's permanent state of war against the dar al-harb until the infidels' conclusive submission and the absolute world supremacy of Islam.
Yet even as Islamic armies were coming to dominate the known world, fissures emerged within Islam, which would give rise to the bloody internecine battles that continue to this day in Iraq and elsewhere.
Most notably, the relentless oppositions within tribal life have been reflected on a large scale in the battles between Sunni vs. Shiite, a battle originating in a squabble between closely related kin groups over the leadership of the Islamic empire following Muhammad's death. Their divergent philosophical orientations are based on two tribal principles: Sunnism recognizes leaders based on consent; Shiism recognizes leaders based on descent. The continued anatagonism between the two groups constitutes one of the many ways in which the tribal spirit continues its dominance in the Middle East.
-Philip Carl Salzman is professor of anthropology at McGill University. This article is drawn from his forthcoming book, Culture and Conflict in the Middle East (Humanity Books).
My News Years resolution was to read some more of of Bat Ye'or's histories of how Islam suppressed Christian and Jewish conquered people over the centuries. Did it. And now we're seeing it unroll before our eyes.
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This is very true.
WHAT IS JIHAD?
Tabari IX:69 Arabs are the most noble people in lineage, the most prominent, and the best in deeds. We were the first to respond to the call of the Prophet. We are Allahs helpers and the viziers of His Messenger. We fight people until they believe in Allah. He who believes in Allah and His Messenger has protected his life and possessions from us. As for one who disbelieves, we will fight him forever in the Cause of Allah. Killing him is a small matter to us.
What is Jihad: The Arabic word Jihad is derived from the root word Jahada (struggle). Jihad has come to mean an offensive war to be waged by Muslims against all non-Muslims to convert them to Islam on the pain of death. Jihad is enjoined on all Muslims by the Quran.
This site brings you the history of the Islamic Jihad from a neutral and factual viewpoint.
The Jihad against Arabs (622 to 634)
The Jihad against Zoroastrian Persians of Iran, Baluchistan and Afghanistan (634 to 651)
The Jihad against the Byzantine Christians (634 to 1453)
The Jihad against Christian Coptic Egyptians (640 to 655)
The Jihad against Christian Coptic Nubians - modern Sudanese (650)
The Jihad against pagan Berbers - North Africans (650 to 700)
The Jihad against Spaniards (711 to 730)
The Reconquista against Jihad in Spain (730 to 1492)
The Jihad against Franks - modern French (720 to 732)
The Jihad against Sicilians in Italy (812 to 940)
The Jihad against Chinese (751)
The Jihad against Turks (651 to 751)
The Jihad against Armenians and Georgians (1071 to 1920)
The Crusade against Jihad (1096 1291 ongoing)
The Jihad against Mongols (1260 to 1300)
The Jihad against Hindus of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh (638 to 1857)
The Jihad against Indonesians and Malays (1450 to 1500)
The Jihad against Poland (1444 to 1699)
The Jihad against Rumania (1350 to 1699)
The Jihad against Russia (1500 to 1853)
The Jihad against Bulgaria (1350 to 1843)
The Jihad against Serbs, Croats and Albanians (1334 to 1920)
The Jihad against Greeks (1450 to 1853)
The Jihad against Albania (1332 - 1853)
The Jihad against Croatia (1389 to 1843)
The Jihad against Hungarians (1500 to 1683)
The Jihad against Austrians (1683)
Jihad in the Modern Age (20th and 21st Centuries)
The Jihad against Israelis (1948 2004 ongoing)
The Jihad against Americans (9/11/2001)
The Jihad against the British (1947 onwards)
The Jihad against the Germans (1945 onwards)
The Jihad against the Indians (1947 onwards)
The Jihad against the Filipinos in Mindanao(1970 onwards)
The Jihad against Indonesian Christians in Malaku and East Timor (1970 onwards)
The Jihad against Russians (1995 onwards)
The Jihad against Dutch and Belgians (2003 onwards)
The Jihad against Norwegians and Swedes (2003 onwards)
The Jihad against Thais (2003 onwards)
The Jihad against Nigerians (1965 onwards)
The Jihad against Canadians (2001 onwards)
The Jihad against Latin America (2003 onwards)
The Jihad against Australia (2002 onwards)
The Global Jihad today (2001 ongoing)
The War on Terror against Jihad today (2001
Actually there is no such thing islamic sociology. mohammedan sociology would be the correct term.
Are you sure this shouldn't read:
Why did the Middle East become so violent? It always was, anytime they got military or strategic advantage. Bedouin desert-raider politics are embedded in the Koran.
Compare the way the equally vicious Viking plunderer ethic was not "sanctified" and institutionally supported by, for instance, Christianity.
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The near east in ancient republican roman times already had the reputation of a land where the monarchs made slaves of their people, that was long before the Mongol invasion or the Rise of the worshippers of Mohameed.
The persian emperor was styled as king of kings and lord of lords. Before Mohameed, the arabs were known as raiders and brigands, Mohamed was able to institutionalize those elements and apply a religious gloss on what was already a cultural norm.
After Mhmd siezed power he quickly abrogated the quranic verses about tolerance and freedom, and reverted to the general model of near eastern governance.Posted by: stickman at January 13, 2008 1:06 AM
The Arabs were pagan predators raiders and thieves before Muhammad. Islam gave them an Allah and Muhammad that justified bloody thievery rape and conquest
Can’t this writer be prosecuted in Canada for this article?
Very true. Present-day Arab Christians (e.g. Maronites, Melkites, Chaldeans, Assyrians, Copts) had nothing to do with all those wars of Islamic-Arab conquest -— except as dhimmis and “collateral damage.”
Thank you for pointing out that important distinction.
A dear friend of mine (born in Lebanon) is a Maronite Christian, and an exemplar of all that is good.
She just happens to be an Arab.
I suppose if Christianity had murder, robbery and enslavement as its founding principles, it would have turned out differently though.