Bernard Lewis, The Pied Piper of Western Confusion on Islam


By Ruth King on August 9th, 2011

Bernard Lewis: Pied Piper of Islamic Confusion

This summer’s Claremont Review of Books contains a featured review
essay by Robert R. Reillyi which discusses Bernard Lewis’s essay
collection `Faith and Power,’ ii and the nonagenarian historian’s
reflections upon the so-called Arab Spring unrest in the Middle East,
particularly North Africa.iii As distilled by Reilly, Lewis’s views
reiterate what the historian described to the Wall Street Journal’s
Bari Weiss during an April 2nd interview. iv

The failure of a young journalist v such as Ms. Weiss to appreciate
important glaring and irreconcilable inconsistencies in Lewis’s
narrative is concerning, but understandable. It is remarkable, and
unacceptable, when a writer of some stature vi (reviewed, here [2]
vii) such as Reilly, Chairman of the Committee for Western
Civilization, and senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy
Council, blithely ignores Lewis’s extensive record of
self-contradiction. viii Reilly, in his essay, `Bernard Lewis and the
Arab Spring’, ix never discusses either Lewis’s contemporary
evangelical, even hectoring appeals to `bring them freedom’ (i.e.,
Muslims under the authoritarian rule their systems have always
engendered), lest `they’ destroy us, x or Lewis’s earlier sobering,
180-degree contradictory analyses of Islam as a totalitarian system
devoid of a conceptual basis for Western individual political freedom.
xi Without a mention of this intractably confused and confusing record
of pronouncements from the early 1950s, through the present, Reilly
invokes Lewis as the ultimate clarifying sage on such developments,
for whom all owe `thanks.’ xii

Lewis’s legacy of intellectual and moral confusion has greatly
hindered the ability of sincere American policymakers to think clearly
about Islam’s living imperial legacy, driven by unreformed and
unrepentant mainstream Islamic doctrine. Reilly’s highly selective and
celebratory presentation of Lewis’s understandings’the man Reilly dubs
the `foremost historian of the Middle East” is pathognomonic of the
dangerous influence Lewis continues to wield over his uncritical
acolytes and supporters. xiii

>From Dogmatic Islamophilia to Intellectual and Moral Confusion

During several notable speeches, starting in 2003, 1 including both
inaugural and State of the Union addresses, 2 President George W.
Bush repeatedly stressed the paramount importance of promoting freedom
in the Middle East. Speaking in an almost messianic idiom, he termed
such a quest 3

¦the calling of our time ¦the calling of our country.

He reiterated this theme while speaking to The American Legion on
February 24, 2006, and offered the following sanguine assessment of
progress: 4

Freedom is on the march in the broader Middle East. The hope of
liberty now reaches from Kabul to Baghdad, to Beirut, and beyond.
Slowly but surely, we’re helping to transform the broader Middle East
from an arc of instability into an arc of freedom. And as freedom
reaches more people in this vital region, we’ll have new allies in the
war on terror, and new partners in the cause of moderation in the
Muslim world and in the cause of peace.

Despite President Bush’s uplifting rhetoric and ebullient appraisal of
these events’which epitomized American hopes and values at their
quintessential best’there was a profound, deeply troubling flaw in
his’and his advisers’analysis which simply ignored the vast gulf
between Western and Islamic conceptions of freedom itself. 5 How did
that happen?

Journalist David Warren, writing in March, 2006, questioned the
advice given President Bush `on the nature of Islam’ at that crucial
time by not only ` the paid operatives of Washington’s Council on
American-Islamic Relations, and the happyface pseudo-scholar Karen
Armstrong,’ but most significantly, one eminence grise, in particular:
`the profoundly learned’ Bernard

Lewis. 6 All these advisers, despite their otherwise divergent
viewpoints, as Warren noted, 7 `assured him (President Bush) that
Islam and modernity were potentially compatible.’ None more
vehemently’or with such authority’than the so-called `Last
Orientalist,’ 8 nonagenarian Professor Bernard Lewis. Arguably the
most striking example of Lewis’ fervor was a lecture he delivered July
16, 2006 (on board the ship Crystal Serenity during a Hillsdale
College cruise in the British Isles) about the transferability of
Western democracy to despotic Muslim societies, such as Iraq. 9 He
concluded with the statement, `Either we bring them freedom, or they
destroy us.’ This stunning claim was published with that concluding
remark as the title, `Bring Them Freedom Or They Destroy Us,’ and
disseminated widely. 10

While Lewis put forth rather non-sequitur, apologetic examples in
support of his concluding formulation, 11 he never elucidated the
yawning gap between Western and Islamic conceptions of
freedom’`hurriyya’ in Arabic. 12 This latter omission was particularly
striking given Professor Lewis’ contribution to the official (Brill)
Encyclopedia of Islam entry on hurriyya. 13 The materials Lewis
omits’including his own earlier writings’on hurriyya and what he has
also termed the `authoritarian or even totalitarian’ essence of
Islamic societies 14’serve as an appropriate starting point for our

Hurriyya `freedom’ is ‘ as Ibn Arabi (d. 1240) the lionized `Greatest
Sufi Master,’ 15 expressed it ‘ `perfect slavery.’ 16 And this
conception is not merely confined to the Sufis’ perhaps metaphorical
understanding of the relationship between Allah the `master’ and his
human `slaves.’ Following Islamic law slavishly throughout one’s life
was paramount to hurriyya `freedom.’ This earlier more concrete
characterization of hurriyya’s metaphysical meaning, whose essence Ibn
Arabi reiterated, was pronounced by the Sufi scholar al-Qushayri (d.
1072/74). 17

Let it be known to you that the real meaning of freedom lies in the
perfection of slavery. If the slavery of a human being in relation to
God is a true one, his freedom is relieved from the yoke of changes.
Anyone who imagines that it may be granted to a human being to give up
his slavery for a moment and disregard the commands and prohibitions
of the religious law while possessing discretion and responsibility,
has divested himself of Islam. God said to his Prophet: `Worship until
certainty comes to you.’ (Koran 15:99). As agreed upon by the
[Koranic] commentators, `certainty’ here means the end (of life).

Bernard Lewis, in his Encyclopedia of Islam analysis of hurriyya,
discusses this concept in the latter phases of the Ottoman Empire,
through the contemporary era. 18After highlighting a few `cautious’ or
`conservative’ (Lewis’ characterization) reformers and their writings,
Lewis maintains, 19

¦there is still no idea that the subjects have any right to share in
the formation or conduct of government’to political freedom, or
citizenship, in the sense which underlies the development of political
thought in the West. While conservative reformers talked of freedom
under law, and some Muslim rulers even experimented with councils and
assemblies government was in fact becoming more and not less

Lewis also makes the important point that Western colonialism
ameliorated this chronic situation: 20

During the period of British and French domination, individual freedom
was never much of an issue. Though often limited and sometimes
suspended, it was on the whole more extensive and better protected
than either before or after. [emphasis added]

And Lewis concludes his entry by observing that Islamic societies
forsook even their inchoate democratic experiments, 21

In the final revulsion against the West, Western democracy too was
rejected as a fraud and a delusion, of no value to Muslims.

Elsewhere, writing contemporaneously on democratic institutions in the
Islamic Middle East, Lewis conceded that at least `equality and
fraternity’ between Muslims were accepted. 22 But even here Lewis
included a major caveat with regard to `liberty,’ whose Islamic
formulation might never resemble John Stuart Mill’s conception in
`Liberty,’ 23 featuring a reference to `Alice in Wonderland’ 24 making
plain Lewis’ assessment of the likely superficial (at best) outcome of
Muslim democratization efforts: 25

¦perhaps it may be possible to extend them beyond it [the Muslim
community] adding a redefined liberty [emphasis added], to make a new
kind of democracy. Only `the question is’ as Alice remarked, `whether
you can [emphasis in original] make words mean so many different

Western constitutional and governmental models, specifically, were
ignored, 26 and ultimately, Lewis viewed this immediate post-World War
II era of democratic experimentation by Muslim societies as an
objective failure, with the possible exception of developments, at
that time, in Turkey. 27

The machinery which works well in the West may not work in other
countries. Except perhaps in Turkey, our kind of democracy appears to
have failed in the Muslim Middle East.

This harsh, if apposite 1958 assessment is all the more remarkable, in
retrospect, over a half century later, because Lewis was critiquing
what turned out to have been the Muslim world’s high water mark
towards creating indigenous, democratic institutions, and societies.
28 Bernard Lewis then was both unapologetic and pellucid in
identifying the intractable obstacle to such efforts at
democratization’Islam itself. 29

I turn now from the accidental to the essential factors, to those
deriving from the very nature of Islamic society, tradition, and
thought. The first of these is the authoritarianism, perhaps we may
even say the totalitarianism, of the Islamic political tradition¦.
Many attempts have been made to show that Islam and democracy are
identical-attempts usually based on a misunderstanding of Islam or
democracy or both. This sort of argument expresses a need of the up-
rooted Muslim intellectual who is no longer satisfied with or capable
of understanding traditional Islamic values, and who tries to justify,
or rather, re-state, his inherited faith in terms of the fashionable
ideology of the day. It is an example of the romantic and apologetic
presentation of Islam that is a recognized phase in the reaction of
Muslim thought to the impact of the West¦. In point of fact, except
for the early caliphate, when the anarchic individualism of tribal
Arabia was still effective, the political history of Islam is one of
almost unrelieved autocracy¦[I]t was authoritarian, often arbitrary,
sometimes tyrannical. There are no parliaments or representative
assemblies of any kind, no councils or communes, no chambers of
nobility or estates, no municipalities in the history of Islam;
nothing but the sovereign power, to which the subject owed complete
and unwavering obedience as a religious duty imposed by the Holy Law.
In the great days of classical Islam this duty was only owed to the
lawfully appointed caliph, as God’s vicegerent on earth and head of
the theocratic community, and then only for as long as he upheld the
law; but with the decline of the caliphate and the growth of military
dictatorship, Muslim jurists and theologians accommodated their
teachings to the changed situation and extended the religious duty of
obedience to any effective authority, however impious, however
barbarous. For the last thousand years, the political thinking of
Islam has been dominated by such maxims as `tyranny is better than
anarchy’ and `whose power is established, obedience to him is

Lewis provides a classical formulation of `Islamic political
quietism,’ i.e., authoritarianism, by quoting a frequently cited
passage from the Syrian jurist Ibn Jama’a (d. 1333), who became Chief
Qadi [Islamic religious judge] of Cairo: 29a

Forced homage. This happens when a chief seizes power by force, in a
time of civil disorders, and it becomes necessary to recognize him in
order to avoid further troubles. That he may have none of the
qualifications of sovereignty, that he be illiterate, unjust or
vicious, that he be even a slave or a woman, is of no consequence. He
is a sovereign in fact, until such time as another, stronger than he,
drives him from the throne and seizes power. He will then be sovereign
by the same title, and should be recognized in order not to increase
strife. Who- ever has effective power has the right to obedience, for
a government, even the worst one, is better than anarchy, and of two
evils one should choose the lesser.

Ibn Jama’a, Lewis reminds us, was `a pious and devout believer,
putting bluntly and sadly an unpalatable truth as he sees it.’ 29b And
Lewis emphasizes 29c

¦that the writer is a doctor of the Holy Law and speaking in terms of
the Holy Law. When he prescribes recognition and obedience, he is
laying down the duty of the believer under the Holy Law’that is to
say, he is formulating a rule the violation of which is, in our
terminology, a sin as well as a crime, involving hell-fire as well as
such anticipatory chastisement as the sovereign might see fit to
impose in this world.

Lewis’s analogy between Islamic and Communist totalitarianism also
includes this candid observation: 29d

A community brought up on such doctrines will not be shocked by
(Communist) disregard of political liberty or human rights; it may
even be attracted by a regime which offers ruthless strength and
efficiency in the service of a cause’anyway in appearance’in place of
the ineptitude, corruption, and cynicism which in their mind, one may
even say in their experience, are inseparable from parliamentary

Even Lewis’s still hopeful assessments from this period, such as his
1952 analysis `Islamic Revival in Turkey,’ 30 or broader 1955 `The
Concept of an Islamic Republic,’ 31 inspired by the November 2, 1953
decision of the Constituent Assembly in Karachi, Pakistan, that the
country henceforth be known as The Islamic Republic of Pakistan, are
punctuated with caveats based upon his expressed understanding of
Islam. For example, Lewis’s most optimistic bromides regarding
Turkey’s fate (in 1952) included frank language about Islam, noting
how the Turkish populace would `hopefully’ achieve `a synthesis of the
best elements of the West and the East,’ or `may yet’ discover `a
workable compromise between Islam and modernism.’ 32 And his tenuous
conclusion, contingent, ultimately, on the successful penetration of
Western ideals, was reached only after acknowledging obvious Islamic
threats to this roseate scenario: 33

The peasantry are still as religious as they have always been. From
them there is no question of revival’the only difference is that they
can now express their religious sentiments more openly. Perhaps one of
the strongest elements supporting their revival is the class known in
Turkey as esnaf’the artisans and small shopkeepers in the towns. These
are generally very fanatical, and, like the peasants, many of them are
connected with one or another of the tarikas [Sufi dervish orders].

¦After a century of Westernization, Turkey has undergone immense
changes’greater than any outside observer had thought possible. But
the deepest Islamic roots of Turkish life and culture are still alive,
and the ultimate identity of Turk and Muslim in Turkey is still
unchallenged. The resurgence of Islam after a long interval responds
to a profound national need. The occasional outbursts of the tarikas,
far more than the limited restoration of official Islam, show how
powerful are the forces stirring beneath the surface. The path that
the revival will take is still not clear. If simple reaction has its
way, much of the work of the last century will be undone, and Turkey
will slip back into the darkness from which she so painfully emerged.

Lewis opens his subsequent 1955 essay about the Pakistani experiment
with a self-proclaimed `Islamic Republic’ by asking whether or not
such a title is indeed `a contradiction in terms,’ given 34

¦the political experience and political traditions of Islam are after
all almost exclusively monarchical and authoritarian’expressed in
regimes of the kind associated in the minds of most people with the
familiar terms Caliph and Sultan.

Once again, the body of Lewis’s essay does not shy away from
acknowledging the doctrinal and historical obstacles to the modernist
Islamic state envisioned by Pakistan’s Muslim reformers. 35

¦Pakistan cannot pretend to be wholly secular, since its very
statehood is based on Islam, the origin and reason of its separate
existence. But how far is an Islamic state, of the type which
Pakistanis clearly wish to create, compatible with an ideal of
government that is so palpably an importation from the Western world?

He notes, candidly, for example the basic `difficulty’ such an
authentic Islamic state would encounter 36

¦in securing acceptance for the unbeliever as a brother or even as an
equal fellow-citizen.

Lewis contrasts the Pakistani ideal’an avowedly Islamic republic’with
other contemporary (circa 1955) Muslim nations, who, to the extent
they adopted Western models, completely or significantly abandoned
traditional Sharia (Islamic law)-based systems. 37

¦[T]he Turkish Republic is secular, deliberately following European
patterns and rejecting traditional Islamic principles of state and
law. Syria and Lebanon were formed as constitutional republics on the
French model, but with Muslim citizens. As recently as 1950, when a
new draft constitution of Syria was in preparation, a clause declaring
Islam the religion of the state was abandoned after bitter disputes,
and replaced by another simply stating that the President must be a
Muslim and that the Holy Law of Islam would be the main basis of state

Along the way, Lewis dismisses hagiographic notions about the
principle of `elected’ Muslim sovereigns, ostensibly dating from
Islam’s initial four `Rightly Guided’ Caliphs, who ruled between
632-661, beginning in the immediate aftermath of Muhammad’s death. 38

If we look at the history of Islam, we find that the elective
principle remained purely theoretical. The first Caliph after the
death of Muhammad, Abu Bakr, was chosen by a process which we may call
acclamation or coup d’etat, according to our point of view. The
second, Omar, simply assumed power de facto, probably after having
been designated by his predecessor. The third, Othman, was nominated
by a committee of six, appointed by Omar on his deathbed to choose one
from among themselves as Caliph. The fourth, Ali, succeeded after a
process of revolt, murder, and civil war, which thereafter became the
all too frequent methods of determining the succession. Of the first
four Caliphs, all but one died by violence. Thereafter a dubious
solution to the problem of preserving continuity and stability was
found when the Caliphate became in effect hereditary in two successive
dynasties’though the fiction of an election was maintained on each

Moreover, with the possible exception of Turkey, Lewis concedes that,
following the era of the French Revolution, 150 years of prior
experimentation with Western secular sovereignty and laws in many
Islamic countries, notably Egypt, had not fared well. 39

¦[T]he imported political machinery failed to work, and in its
breakdown led to the violent death or sudden displacement by other
means of ministers and monarchs, all of whom had failed to replace
even the vanished Sultanate in the respect and loyalties of the
people. In Egypt a republic was proclaimed which in some respects
seems to be a return to one of the older political traditions of
Islam’paternal, authoritarian Government, resting on military force,
with the support of some of the religious leaders and teachers, and
apparently, general acceptance. Perhaps that is an Islamic Republic of
a sort.

Although Lewis concludes on an optimistic note, even his most wishful,
self-contradictory flights of fancy are tempered by a realistic
acknowledgment of the profound challenges ahead. 40

An elected head of state and rule of law are familiar. It is true that
the first is rely theoretical, and has never been applied in any
Islamic state of high material civilization’but if the medieval
jurists were able to reduce the electorate to one, there is no reason
why their modern heirs should not extend it to universal suffrage. The
Islamic rule of law is theocratic rather than democratic, deriving
from the immutable revelation of God and not from the changing will of
the people’but the principle is admitted, and the range of
interpretation is vast. Equality and fraternity within the faith group
are accepted’it may not be impossible to extend them beyond it, and to
add a redefined liberty. But much development and much adaptation of
both Islamic and democratic notions will be needed to produce a
working synthesis of the two, and if such a synthesis is in fact
produced it will not be a return to a mythical past but a new

Lewis’s final observation from 1955 is also appropriately staid: 41

All Islam is now seeking new paths in politics and government’they
will watch with sympathy and interest the outcome of the Pakistan

Six decades after Lewis made his then cautiously hopeful observations
about Turkey and Pakistan, there is an historical record to judge’a
clear, irrefragable legacy of failed secularization efforts,
accompanied by steady grassroots and institutional re-Islamization in
both countries. 42 The late P.J. Vatikiotis (d. 1997), Emeritus
Professor of Politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies
(SOAS), was a respected scholar of the Middle East, who,
contemporaneous with Lewis (a SOAS colleague), wrote extensively about
Islamic reformism throughout the 20th century, particularly in Egypt.
Focusing outside Turkey and Pakistan on the Arab Middle East (i.e.,
Egypt, The Sudan, Syria, and Iraq), Vatikiotis wrote candidly in 1981
of how authoritarian Islam doomed inchoate efforts at creating
political systems which upheld individual freedom in the region: 43

What is significant is that after a tolerably less
autocratic/authoritarian political experience during their
apprenticeship for independent statehood under foreign power tutelage,
during the inter-war period, most of these states once completely free
or independent of foreign control, very quickly moved towards highly
autocratic-authoritarian patterns of rule¦One could suggest a hiatus
of roughly three years between the departure or removal of European
influence and power and overthrow of the rickety plural political
systems they left behind in Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and the Sudan by
military coups d’etat.

Authoritarianism and autocracy in the Middle East may be unstable in
the sense that autocracies follow one another in frequent succession.
Yet the ethos of authoritarianism may be lasting, even permanent¦One
could venture into a more ambitious philosophical etiology by pointing
out the absence of a concept of `natural law’ or `law of reason’ in
the intellectual-cultural heritage of Middle Eastern societies. After
all, everything before Islam, before God revealed his message to
Muhammad, constitutes jahiliyya, or the dark age of ignorance.
Similarly, anything that deviates from the eternal truth or verities
of Islamic teaching is equally degenerative, and therefore
unacceptable. That is why, by definition, any Islamic movement which
seeks to make Islam the basic principle of the polity does not aim at
innovation but at the restoration of the ideal that has been abandoned
or lost. The missing of an experience similar, or parallel, to the
Renaissance, freeing the Muslim individual from external constraints
of, say, religious authority in order to engage in a creative course
measured and judged by rational and existential human standards, may
also be a relevant consideration. The individual in the Middle East
has yet to attain his independence from the wider collectivity, or to
accept the proposition that he can create a political order.

Unlike Vatikiotis, Bernard Lewis, has ignored these obvious
setbacks’and any self-critical re-appraisal of his earlier guarded
optimism. Remarkably, Lewis has become a far more dogmatic evangelist
for so-called `Islamic democratization,’ 44 despite such failures!

Lewis’s volte-face on the merits of experiments in `Islamic
democracy,’ has been accompanied by his equally troubling intellectual
legacy regarding three other critical subject areas: the institution
of jihad, the chronic impact of the Sharia (Islamic law) on
non-Muslims vanquished by jihad, and sacralized Islamic Jew-hatred.

When discussing key doctrinal aspects of jihad, for example, the
concepts of `harbi,’ from Dar al Harb, 45 or jihad martyrdom, 46
Lewis’s analyses are incomplete, or frankly apologetic.

Classical Islamic jurists such as Abu Hanifa (d. 767; founder of the
Hanafi school of Islamic jurisprudence) 47 formulated the concepts Dar
al Islam and Dar al Harb (Arabic for, `The House of Islam and the
House of War’). 48 The great Muslim polymath Al-Tabari’s 49 early 10th
century `Book of Jihad’ 50 includes extracts from Abu Hanifa (and his
acolytes) affirming the impunity with which non-combatant
`harbis”women, children, the elderly, the mentally or physically
disabled’may be killed. 51

Abu Hanifa and his companions said: `There is no harm in [having]
night raids and incursions.’ They said: `There is no harm if Muslims
enter the Territory of War (ard al-harb) to assemble the mangonel
[catapults] towards the polytheists’ fortresses and to shoot them
musing mangonels, even if there are among them a woman, child, elder,
idiot (matuh), blind, crippled, or someone with a permanent disability
(zamin). There is no harm in shooting polytheists in their fortresses
using mangonels even if there are among those whom we have named.

This discussion debunks Lewis’s (repeated) fatuous contention that
Islamic Law proscribed the slaying of such persons during jihad. 52

Armand Abel, the leading 20th expert on the Muslim conception of Dar
al Harb, highlights its salient features: 53

Together with the duty of the `war in the way of God’ (or jihad),this
universalistic aspiration would lead the Muslims to see the world as
being divided fundamentally into two parts. On the one hand there was
that part of the world where Islam prevailed, where salvation had been
announced, where the religion that ought to reign was practiced; this
was the Dar al Islam. On the other hand, there was the part which
still awaited the establishment of the saving religion and which
constituted, by definition, the object of the holy war. This was the
Dar al Harb. The latter, in the view of the Muslim jurists, was not
populated by people who had a natural right not to practice Islam, but
rather by people destined to become Muslims who, through impiousness
and rebellion, refused to accept this great benefit. Since they were
destined sooner or later to be converted at the approach of the
victorious armies of the Prophet’s successor, or else killed for their
rebelliousness, they were the rebel subjects of the Caliph. Their
kings were nothing but odious tyrants who, by opposing the progress of
the saving religion together with their armies, were following a
Satanic inspiration and rising up against the designs of Providence.
And so no respite should be granted them, no truce: perpetual war
should be their lot, waged in the course of the winter and summer
ghazu. [razzias] If the sovereign of the country thus attacked desired
peace, it was possible for him, just like for any other tributary or
community, to pay the tribute for himself and for his subjects. Thus
the [Byzantine] Empress Irene [d. 803] `purchased peace at the price
of her humiliation’, according to the formula stated in the dhimma
contract itself, by paying 70,000 pounds in gold annually to the
Caliph of Baghdad. Many other princes agreed in this way to become
tributaries ` often after long struggles ` and to see their dominions
pass from the status of dar al Harb to that of dar al Sulh. In this
way, those of their subjects who lived within the boundaries of the
territory ruled by the Caliphate were spared the uncertainty of being
exposed arbitrarily, without any guarantee, to the military operations
of the summer ghazu and the winter ghazu: indeed, anything within the
reach of the Muslim armies as they advanced, being property of impious
men and rebels, was legitimately considered their booty; their men,
seized by armed soldiers, were mercilessly consigned to the lot
specified in the Koranic verse about the sword,and their women and
children were treated like things. [emphasis added]

Abel’s lucid, detailed, and evocative description of Dar al Harb
contrasts starkly with Lewis’s truncated presentation. The latter,
which follows, is woefully inadequate to convey proper understanding
of the doctrinally sanctioned threat posed to infidel
non-belligerents: 54

The unsubjugated unbeliever is by definition an enemy. He is part of
the Dar al Harb, the House of War,’ and is designated as a `harbi,’ an
attributive form of the word for war.

Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, the widely revered contemporary Muslim cleric,
`spiritual’ leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, head of the `European
Council for Fatwa and Research’, and popular Al-Jazeera television
personality, reiterated Abel’s formulation of Dar al Harb almost
exactly in July, 2003, both in conceptual terms, and with regard to
Israel, specifically: 55

It has been determined by Islamic law that the blood and property of
people of Dar Al-Harb [the Domain of Disbelief where the battle for
the domination of Islam should be waged] is not protected¦in modern
war, all of society, with all its classes and ethnic groups, is
mobilized to participate in the war, to aid its continuation, and to
provide it with the material and human fuel required for it to assure
the victory of the state fighting its enemies. Every citizen in
society must take upon himself a role in the effort to provide for the
battle. The entire domestic front, including professionals, laborers,
and industrialists, stands behind the fighting army, even if it does
not bear arms.

In fact the consensus view of orthodox Islamic jurisprudence regarding
jihad, since its formulation during the 8th and 9th centuries, through
the current era, is that non-Muslims peacefully going about their
lives’from the Khaybar farmers whom Muhammad ordered attacked in 628,
56 to those sitting in the World Trade Center on 9/11/01’are `muba’a’,
licit, in the Dar al Harb. As described by the great 20th century
scholar of Islamic Law, Joseph Schacht, 57

A non-Muslim who is not protected by a treaty is called harbi, `in a
state of war’, `enemy alien’; his life and property are completely
unprotected by law¦

And these innocent non-combatants can be killed, and have always been
killed, with impunity simply by virtue of being `harbis’ during
endless razzias and or full scale jihad campaigns that have occurred
continuously since the time of Muhammad, through the present. This is
the crux of the specific institutionalized religio-political ideology,
i.e., jihad, which makes Islamdom’s borders (and the further reaches
of todays jihadists) bloody, to paraphrase Samuel Huntington, across
the globe. 58 To validate his contention that, `Wherever one looks
along the perimeter of Islam, Muslims have problems living peaceably
with their neighbors,’ 59 Huntington adduced these hard data: 60

The overwhelming majority of fault line conflicts ¦ have taken place
along the boundary looping across Eurasia and Africa that separates
Muslims from non-Muslims¦Intense antagonisms and violent conflicts are
pervasive between local Muslim and non-Muslim peoples¦Muslims make up
about one-fifth of the world’s population, but in the 1990s they have
been far more involved in inter-group violence than the people of any
other civilization. The evidence is overwhelming. There were, in
short, three times as many inter-civilizational conflicts involving
Muslims as there were between non-Muslim civilizations¦Muslim states
also have had a high propensity to resort to violence in international
crises, employing it to resolve 76 crises out of a total of 142 in
which they were involved between 1928 and 1979. ¦ When they did use
violence, Muslim states used high-intensity violence, resorting to
full-scale war in 41 percent of the cases where violence was used and
engaging in major clashes in another 39 percent of the cases. While
Muslim states resorted to violence in 53.5 percent, violence was used
the United Kingdom in only 1.5 percent, by the United States in 17.9
percent, and by the Soviet Union in 28.5 percent of the crises in
which they were involved¦Muslim bellicosity and violence are
late-twentieth-century facts which neither Muslims nor non-Muslims can

Ibn Hudayl a 14th century Granadan author of an important treatise on
jihad, elucidated the allowable tactics which facilitated the violent,
chaotic jihad conquest of the Iberian peninsula, and other parts of
Europe: 61

It is permissible to set fire to the lands of the enemy, his stores of
grain, his beasts of burden ` if it is not possible for the Muslims to
take possession of them ` as well as to cut down his trees, to raze
his cities, in a word, to do everything that might ruin and discourage
him¦[being] suited to hastening the Islamization of that enemy or to
weakening him. Indeed, all this contributes to a military triumph
over him or to forcing him to capitulate.

Bernard Lewis, however, fails to contextualize statements attributed
to the caliph Abu Bakr (in 632), ostensibly prohibiting such
destructive actions. 62 Again, as recorded in Tabari’s early 10th
century treatise on jihad, classical jurisprudence supports the views
of Ibn Hudayl: 63

Abu Hanifa and his companions said: `Abu Bakr’s saying, `Do not ruin
what has been built, do not burn palm trees, and do not cut down
fruit-bearing trees’ [is applied] when their [enemy people] territory
has been conquered and controlled [by Muslims] and it has fallen into
their hands. They [the Muslims] should not do any such actions because
it has become a spoil of war for the Muslims (emphasis added). But if
the [Muslim] army combatants do not have the power to reside in that
territory and they are not able to appoint a leader over it, and they
cannot acquire it so that it becomes theirs, then they should burn
their fortresses, cities, and churches, and destroy their palm trees
and [other] trees and burn them down. And whatever of their animals
and cattle they acquaire and cannot take out [to the Territory of
Islam], they should slaughter and burn them.’

These repeated attacks, indistinguishable in motivation from modern
acts of jihad terrorism, like the horrific 9/11/01 attacks in New York
and Washington, DC, and the Madrid bombings on 3/11/04, or those in
London on 7/7/05, were in fact designed to sow terror. 64 The 17th
century Muslim historian al-Maqqari explained that the panic created
by the Arab horsemen and sailors, at the time of the Muslim expansion
in the regions subjected to those raids and landings, facilitated
their later conquest, 65

Allah thus instilled such fear among the infidels that they did not
dare to go and fight the conquerors; they only approached them as
suppliants, to beg for peace.

Muhammad himself was the ultimate prototype sanctioning jihad terror,
as recorded in this canonical hadith: 66

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, `I have been sent with the
shortest expressions bearing the widest meanings, and I have been made
victorious with terror (cast in the hearts of the enemy)¬¶’

In a February, 2010 moderated presentation, Bernard Lewis improperly
conflated Islam’s prohibition against suicide for melancholia, with
interdiction against jihad martyrdom operations.67According to Islam’s
seminal early historian, Al-Tabari (d. 923), during Abu Bakr’s reign
as Caliph, his commander Khalid b. al-Walid’s wrote a letter in 634 to
a Persian leader in Iraq identified as `Hurmuz,’ warning of a
prototypical expansionist jihad campaign, spearheaded by Muslim
warriors enamored of death. 68

Now then. Embrace Islam so that you may be safe, or else make a treaty
of protection for yourself and your people, for I have brought you a
people who love death as you love life. (Emphasis added)

`Martyrdom operations’ have always been intimately associated with the
institution of jihad. Professor Franz Rosenthal, in a magisterial 1946
essay (entitled, `On Suicide in Islam’), observed that Islam’s
foundational texts sanctioned such acts of jihad martyrdom, and held
them in the highest esteem: 69

..death as the result of `suicidal’ missions and of the desire of
martyrdom occurs not infrequently, since[such] death is considered
highly commendable according to Muslim religious concepts.

Koran 9:111 provides an unequivocal, celebratory invocation of
martyrdom during jihad: 70

Lo! Allah hath bought from the believers their lives and their wealth
because the Garden will be theirs: they shall fight in the way of
Allah and shall slay and be slain.

Finally, the Muslim prophet Muhammad is idealized as the eternal model
for behaviors that all Muslims should emulate. 71 Nearly six decades
ago (in 1956), Arthur Jeffery, a great modern scholar of Islam,
reviewed Guillaume’s magisterial English translation of Ibn Ishaq’s
Sirat Rasul Allah, 72 the oldest and most important Muslim biography
of Muhammad. Jeffery’s review included this trenchant observation: 73

Years ago the late Canon Gairdner in Cairo said that the best answer
to the numerous apologetic Lives of Muhammad published in the
interests of Muslim propaganda in the West would be an unvarnished
translation of the earliest Arabic biography of the prophet.

W. H. T. (Canon) Gairdner, in 1915, highlighted the dilemma posed by
Islam’s sacralization of Muhammad’s timeless behavioral role model,
revealed in such pious Muslim biographical works: 74

As incidents in the life of an Arab conqueror, the tales of raiding,
private assassinations and public executions, perpetual enlargements
of the harem, and so forth, might be historically explicable and
therefore pardonable but it is another matter that they should be
taken as a setting forth of the moral ideal for all time.

For example, Muhammad celebrated jihad martyrdom as the supreme act of
Islamic devotion in the most important canonical hadith collection: 75

Narrated Anas bin Malik: The Prophet said, `Nobody who dies and finds
good from Allah (in the Hereafter) would wish to come back to this
world even if he were given the whole world and whatever is in it,
except the martyr who, on seeing the superiority of martyrdom, would
like to come back to the world and get killed again (in Allah’s

Narrated Abu Huraira: `The Prophet said, `By Him in Whose Hands my
life is! Were it not for some men amongst the believers who dislike to
be left behind me and whom I cannot provide with means of conveyance,
I would certainly never remain behind any Sariya’ (army-unit) setting
out in Allah’s Cause. By Him in Whose Hands my life is! I would love
to be martyred in Allah’s Cause and then get resurrected and then get
martyred, and then get resurrected again and then get martyred and
then get resurrected again and then get martyred.’

Not surprisingly then, unlike scholars who specialized in the history
of the jihad conquests across Asia, Africa, and Europe’such as Moshe
Gil, 76 Speros Vryonis, 77 Dimitar Angelov, 78 Charles Emmanuel
Dufourcq, 79 and K.S. Lal 80’Lewis’s rather superficial surveys 81
avoid any details of the devastation these brutal campaigns wrought.
As copiously documented by both triumphal Muslim historians, and the
laments of non-Muslim chroniclers representing the victims
perspective, jihad depredations resulted in: vast numbers of infidels
mercilessly slaughtered’including non-combatant women and children’or
enslaved, and deported; countless cities, villages, and infidel
religious and cultural sites that were sacked and pillaged, often
accompanied by the burning of harvest crops and massive uprooting of
agricultural production systems, causing famine; enormous quantities
of treasure and movable goods seized as `booty.’ 82

Having effectively ignored the destructive, sanguinary legacy of
jihad, Bernard Lewis has never recommended Muslim acknowledgement of
this history, combined with mea culpa-based rejection of its doctrinal
basis in Islam. Contra Lewis, historian Bat Ye’or explained in 1990
how such frank recognition by the Muslim intelligentsia is a requisite
for the emergence of truly modern Islamic societies, capable of
co-existing peacefully with non-Muslims: 83

¦[T]his 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¦

The late Orientalist Maxime Rodinson (d. 2004), a contemporary of
Bernard Lewis, warned forty years ago of misguided modern scholarship
effectively `sanctifying’ Islam: 84

Understanding has given away to apologetics pure and simple

Lewis’s bowdlerized 1974 summary portrayal of the system of governance
imposed upon those indigenous non-Muslims conquered by jihad is a
distressing, ahistorical example of this apologetic genre. 85

In his seminal The Laws of Islamic Governance al-Mawardi (d. 1058), a
renowned jurist of Baghdad, examined the regulations pertaining to the
lands and infidel populations subjugated by jihad. 86 This is the
origin of the system of dhimmitude. The native infidel `dhimmi’ (which
derives from both the word for `pact’, and also `guilt”guilty of
religious errors) population had to recognize Islamic ownership of
their land, submit to Islamic law, and accept payment of the Koranic
poll tax (jizya), based on Koran 9:29. Al- Mawardi notes that `The
enemy makes a payment in return for peace and reconciliation.’ He then
distinguishes two cases: (I) Payment is made immediately and is
treated like booty, `it does, not however, 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. 87 This
same basic formulation was reiterated during a January 8, 1998
interview by Yusuf al-Qaradawi confirming how jihad continues to
regulate the relations between Muslims and non-Muslims to this day. 88

The `contract of the jizya’, or `dhimma’ encompassed other obligatory
and recommended obligations for the conquered non-Muslim `dhimmi’
peoples. Ibn Kathir’s 89 important 14th century Koranic commentary
describes the essence of the Koran’s mandate in verse 9:29 for
submissive tribute, or `jizya,’ under the heading, `Paying Jizya is a
Sign of Kufr [unbelief] and Disgrace.’ He elaborates, as follows: 90

Allah said, `until they pay the Jizya’, if they do not choose to
embrace Islam, `with willing submission’, in defeat and subservience,
`and feel themselves subdued’, disgraced, humiliated and belittled.
Therefore, Muslims are not allowed to honor the people of Dhimma or
elevate them above Muslims, for they are miserable, disgraced, and
humiliated. Muslim recorded from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet said,
`Do not initiate the Salam to the Jews and the Christians, and if you
meet them in a road, force them to its narrowest alley’. This is why
the Leader of the faithful `Umar b. Al-Khattab [d. 644; the second
`Rightly Guided’ Caliph], may Allah be pleased with him, demanded his
well-known conditions be met by the Christians, these conditions that
ensured their continued humiliation, degradation, and disgrace.

Collectively, these `obligations’ formed the discriminatory system of
dhimmitude imposed upon non-Muslims’Jews, Christians, as well as
Zoroastrians, Hindus, and Buddhists’subjugated by jihad. Some of the
more salient features of dhimmitude include: the prohibition of arms
for the vanquished 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 Sharia. 91 The writings of the
much lionized Sufi theologian and jurist al-Ghazali (d. 1111)
highlight how the institution of dhimmitude was simply a normative,
and prominent feature of the Sharia: 92

¦the dhimmi is obliged not to mention Allah or His Apostle.. .Jews,
Christians, and Majians [Zoroastrians] 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 dhimmi] 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.

The practical consequences of such a discriminatory system were
summarized in A.S. Tritton’s 1930 The Caliphs and their Non-Muslim
Subjects, a pioneering treatise on the status of the dhimmis: 93

¦[C]aliphs destroyed churches to obtain materials for their buildings,
and the mob was always ready to pillage churches and
monasteries¦dhimmis¦always lived on sufferance, exposed to the
caprices of the ruler and the passions of the mob¦in later
times..[t]hey were much more liable to suffer from the violence of the
crowd, and the popular fanaticism was accompanied by an increasing
strictness among the educated. The spiritual isolation of Islam was
accomplished. The world was divided into two classes, Muslims and
others, and only Islam counted¦Indeed the general feeling was that the
leavings of the Muslims were good enough for the dhimmis.

Yet over four decades after Tritton published this apt
characterization, here is what Lewis opined on the subject (in 1974):

The dhimma on the whole worked well. [emphasis added] The non-Muslims
managed to thrive under Muslim rule, and even to make significant
contributions to Islamic civilization. The restrictions were not
onerous, and were usually less severe in practice than in theory. As
long as the non-Muslim communities accepted and conformed to the
status of tolerated subordination assigned to them, they were not

The assessments of two other highly esteemed Western
scholars’Professors Ann Lambton and S.D. Goitein’who were Lewis’s
contemporaries (and colleagues), make plain that his flimsy apologetic
on `the dhimma’ does not represent a consensus viewpoint.

>From 1972-78, the late Ann Lambton headed the Near and Middle East
department, while contributing articles and analyses for The Cambridge
History of Islam, which she co-edited with Bernard Lewis. Professor
Lambton and Bernard Lewis were also both protégés of the famous School
of Oriental and Asiatic Studies Islamologist, Sir Hamilton Gibb.
Lambton’s obituarist, Burzine K. Waghmar, noted (on August 1, 2008),

Lambton was unrivalled in the breadth of her scholarship, covering
Persian grammar and dialectology; medieval and early modern Islamic
political thought; Seljuq, Mongol, Safavid, Qajar and Pahlavi
administration; tribal and local history; and land tenure and
agriculture. Her association with SOAS (School of Oriental and Asiatic
Studies) in London, which lasted from her time as an undergraduate in
1930 until her death as Professor Emerita, aged 96, was one of the
longest and most illustrious, and Lambton became acknowledged as the
dean of Persian studies in the West. Without hyperbole, an era has
passed in Middle Eastern studies.

Ann Lambton, wrote the following on the dhimmis, published in 1981: 96

As individuals, the dhimmis possessed no rights. Citizenship was
limited to Muslims; and because of the superior status of the Muslim,
certain juristic restrictions were imposed on the dhimmi. The evidence
of a dhimmi was not accepted in a law court; a Muslim could not
inherit from a dhimmi nor a dhimmi from a Muslim; a Muslim could marry
a dhimmi woman, but a dhimmi could not marry a Muslim woman; at the
frontier a dhimmi merchant paid double the rate of duty on merchandise
paid by a Muslim, but only half the rate paid by a harbi; and the
blood-wit paid for a dhimmi was, except according to the Hanafis, only
half or two-thirds that paid for a Muslims. No dhimmi was permitted to
change his faith except for Islam¦

Various social restrictions were imposed upon the dhimmis such as
restrictions of dress¦Dhimmis were also forbidden to ride horses¦and,
according to Abu Hanifa valuable mules. The reason for this
prohibition was connected with the fact that dhimmis were forbidden to
bear arms: the horse was regarded as a `fighter for the faith,’ and
received two shares in the booty if it were of Arab stock whereas its
rider received one. Dhimmis were to yield the way to Muslims. They
were also forbidden to mark their houses by distinctive signs or to
build them higher than those of Muslims. They were not to build new
churches, synagogues, or hermitages and not to scandalize Muslims by
openly performing their worship or following their distinctive customs
such as drinking wine¦

The humiliating regulations to which [dhimmis] were subject as regards
their dress and conduct in public were not, however, nearly so serious
as their moral subjection, the imposition of the poll tax, and their
legal disabilities. They were, in general, made to feel that they were
beyond the pale. Partly as a result of this, the Christian communities
dwindled in number, vitality, and morality¦The degradation and
demoralization of the [dhimmis] had dire consequences for the Islamic
community and reacted unfavorably on Islamic political and social
life. [emphasis added]

Shlomo Dov [S.D.] Goitein (d. 1985), was a historian of Muslim-Jewish
relations, whose seminal research findings were widely published, most
notably in the monumental five-volume work, A Mediterranean Society:
The Jewish Communities of the Arab World as Portrayed in the Documents
of the Cairo Geniza (1967-1993). 97 Goitein was Professor Emeritus of
the Hebrew University, scholar at The Institute for Advanced Study in
Princeton, and a colleague of Lewis. The New York Times obituary for
Professor Goitein (published on February 10, 1985) noted, appositely,
that his renowned (and prolific) writings on Islamic culture, and
Muslim-Jewish relations, were `¦standard works for scholars in both
fields.’ 98 Here is what Goitein wrote on the subject of non-Muslim
dhimmis under Muslim rule, i.e., dhimmitude, circa 1970: 99

¦a great humanist and contemporary of the French Revolution, Wilhelm
von Humboldt, defined as the best state one which is least felt and
restricts itself to one task only: protection, protection against
attack from outside and oppression from within¦in general, taxation
[by the Muslim government] was merciless, and a very large section of
the population must have lived permanently at the starvation level.
>From many Geniza letters one gets the impression that the poor were
concerned more with getting money for the payment of their taxes than
for food and clothing, for failure of payment usually induced cruel
punishment¦ the Muslim state was quite the opposite of the ideals
propagated by Wilhelm von Humboldt or the principles embedded in the
constitution of the United States. An Islamic state was part of or
coincided with dar al-Islam, the House of Islam. Its treasury was mal
al-muslumin, the money of the Muslims. Christians and Jews were not
citizens of the state, not even second class citizens. They were
outsiders under the protection of the Muslim state, a status
characterized by the term dhimma, for which protection they had to pay
a poll tax specific to them. They were also exposed to a great number
of discriminatory and humiliating laws¦As it lies in the very nature
of such restrictions, soon additional humiliations were added, and
before the second century of Islam was out, a complete body of
legislation in this matter was in existence¦In times and places in
which they became too oppressive they lead to the dwindling or even
complete extinction of the minorities. [emphasis added]

Lewis’s conception of Islam’s doctrinal Antisemitism, and its
resultant historical treatment of Jews, is a sham castle which rests
on two false pillars. These glib affirmations, which amount to nothing
less than sheer denial, are illustrated below: 100

In Islamic society hostility to the Jew is non-theological. It is not
related to any specific Islamic doctrine, nor to any specific
circumstance in Islamic history. For Muslims it is not part of the
birth-pangs of their religion, as it is for Christians.

`dhimmi’-tude [derisively hyphenated] subservience and persecution and
ill treatment of Jews¦ [is a] myth.

There is voluminous evidence from Islam’s foundational texts of
theological Jew hatred: virulently Antisemitic Koranic verses whose
virulence is only amplified by the greatest classical and modern
Muslim Koranic commentaries (by Tabari [d. 923], Zamakshari [d. 1143],
Baydawi [d. ~1316], Ibn Kathir [d.1373], and Suyuti [d. 1505], to Qutb
[d. 1966] and Mawdudi [d.1979]), the six canonical hadith collections,
and the most respected sira (pious Muslim biographies of Muhammad, by
Ibn Ishaq [d. 761 ]/Ibn Hisham [d. 813], Ibn Sa`d [d. 835 ], Waqidi
[d. 822], and Tabari). The Antisemitic motifs in these texts have been
carefully elucidated by scholarship that dates back to Hartwig
Hirschfeld’s mid-1880s analysis of the sira and Georges Vajda’s 1937
study of the hadith, complemented in the past two decades by Haggai
Ben Shammai’s 1988 examination of the major Antisemitic verses and
themes in the Koran and Koran exegesis, and Saul S. Friedman’s broad,
straightforward enumeration of Koranic Antisemitism in 1989. 101 Moshe
Perlmann, a pre-eminent scholar of Islam’s ancient anti-Jewish
polemical literature, made this summary observation in 1964: 102

The Koran, of course became a mine of anti-Jewish passages. The hadith
did not lag behind. Popular preachers used and embellished such

Notwithstanding Bernard Lewis’s hollow claims, salient examples of
Jew-hatred illustrating Perlmann’s remarkably compendious assessment
of these foundational Islamic sources, and their tragic application
across space and time, through the present, are summarized in the
discussion that follows.

A front page New York Times story published Saturday January 10, 2009,
103 included extracts from the Friday sermon (of the day before) at Al
Azhar mosque pronounced by Egyptian-government appointed cleric Sheik
Eid Abdel Hamid Youssef. Referencing well-established Antisemitic
motifs from the Koran (citations provided, below), Sheikh Youssef
intoned, 104

Muslim brothers, God has inflicted the Muslim nation with a people
whom God has become angry at [Koran 1:7] and whom he cursed [Koran
5:78] so he made monkeys and pigs [Koran 5:60] out of them. They
killed prophets and messengers [Koran 2:61 / 3:112] and sowed
corruption on Earth. [Koran 5:33 / 5:64] They are the most evil on
Earth. [5:62 /63]

The crux of all these allegations is a central antisemitic motif in
the Koran which decrees an eternal curse upon the Jews (Koran 2:61/
reiterated at 3:112) for slaying the prophets and transgressing
against the will of Allah. 105 It should be noted that Koran 3:112 is
featured before the pre-amble to Hamas’ foundational Covenant. 106This
central motif is coupled to Koranic verses 5:60, and 5:78, which
describe the Jews transformation into apes and swine (5:60), or simply
apes, (i.e. verses 2:65 and 7:166), having been `¦cursed by the tongue
of David, and Jesus, Mary’s son’ (5:78). 107 Muhammad himself repeats
this Koranic curse in a canonical hadith, `He [Muhammad] then recited
the verse [5:78]: `¦curses were pronounced on those among the children
of Israel who rejected Faith, by the tongue of David and of Jesus the
son of Mary’ ‘. 108 The related verse, 5:64, accuses the Jews of
being `spreaders of war and corruption,”a sort of ancient Koranic
antecedent of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’invoked not only by
Hamas and Hezbollah leaders, but `moderate’ Palestinian Authority
President Mahmoud Abbas who cited Koran 5:64 during a January 2007
speech which urged Palestinian Muslims to end their internecine
strife, and `aim their rifles at Israel.’ 109

Indeed the Koran’s overall discussion of the Jews is marked by a
litany of their sins and punishments, as if part of a divine
indictment, conviction, and punishment process. The Jews’ ultimate sin
and punishment are made clear: they are the devil’s minions (4:60)
cursed by Allah, their faces will be obliterated (4:47), and if they
do not accept the true faith of Islam’the Jews who understand their
faith become Muslims (3:113)’they will be made into apes (2:65/
7:166), or apes and swine (5:60), and burn in the Hellfires (4:55,
5:29, 98:6, and 58:14-19). 110

The centrality of the Jews’ permanent `abasement and humiliation,’ and
being `laden with God’s anger’ in the corpus of Muslim exegetic
literature on Koran 2:61/3:112, is clear. By nature deceitful and
treacherous, the Jews rejected Allah’s signs and prophets, including
Isa, the Muslim Jesus. 111

Classical Koranic commentators such as Tabari (d. 923), Zamakshari (d.
1143), Baydawi (d. 1316), and Ibn Kathir (d. 1373), when discussing
Koran 5:82, which includes the statement (`Thou wilt surely find the
most hostile of men to the believers are the Jews..’ , concur on the
unique animus of the Jews towards the Muslims, which is repeatedly
linked to the curse of Koran 2:61/3:112. For example, in his
commentary on 5:82, Tabari writes, 112

In my opinion, [the Christians] are not like the Jews who always
scheme in order to murder the emissaries and the prophets, and who
oppose God in his positive and negative commandments, and who corrupt
His scripture which He revealed in His books.

Tabari’s classical interpretations of Koran 5:82 and 2:61, as well as
his discussion of the related verse 9:29 mandating the Jews payment of
the jizya (Koranic poll-tax), represent both Antisemitic and more
general anti-dhimmi views that became, and remain, intrinsic to Islam
to this day. Here is Tabari’s discussion of 2:61 and its relationship
to verse 9:29, which emphasizes the purposely debasing nature of the
Koranic poll tax: 113

¬¶`abasement and poverty were imposed and laid down upon them’, as when
someone says `the imam imposed the poll tax (jizya)on free non-Muslim
subjects’, or `The man imposed land tax on his slave’, meaning thereby
that he obliged him [to pay ] it, or, `The commander imposed a sortie
on his troops’, meaning he made it their duty.¬¶God commanded His
believing servants not to give them [i.e., the non-Muslim people of
the scripture] security’as long as they continued to disbelieve in Him
and his Messenger’unless they paid the poll tax to them; God said:
`Fight those who believe not in God and the Last Day and do not forbid
what God and His Messenger have forbidden’such men as practice not the
religion of truth [Islam], being of those who have been given the Book
[Bible]’until they pay the poll tax, being humble’ (Koran 9:29)..

The dhimmis [non-Muslim tributary’s] posture during the collection of
the jizya- `[should be lowering themselves] by walking on their hands,

¬¶ His words `and abasement and poverty were imposed upon them’, `These
are the Jews of the Children of Israel’. ..`Are they the Copts of
Egypt?’¬¶`What have the Copts of Egypt to do with this? No, by God,
they are not; but they are the Jews, the Children of Israel.¦By `and
slain the prophets unrightfully’ He means that they used to kill the
Messengers of God without God’s leave, denying their messages and
rejecting their prophethood.

The Koranic curse (verses 2:61/3:112) upon the Jews for (primarily)
rejecting, even slaying Allah’s prophets, including Isa/Jesus (or at
least his `body double’ 4:157-4:158), is updated with perfect
archetypal logic in the canonical hadith: following the Muslims’
initial conquest of the Jewish farming oasis of Khaybar, one of the
vanquished Jewesses reportedly served Muhammad poisoned mutton (or
goat), which resulted, ultimately, in his protracted, agonizing death.
And Ibn Saad’s sira account (i.e., one of the important early pious
Muslim biographies of Muhammad) maintains that Muhammad’s poisoning
resulted from a well-coordinated Jewish conspiracy. 114

The contemporary Iranian theocracy’s state-sanctioned Jew hatred
employs this motif as part of its malevolent indoctrination of young
adult candidates for national teacher training programs. Affirming as
objective, factual history the hadith account (for eg., Sahih Bukhari,
Volume 3, Book 47, Number 786) of Muhammad’s supposed poisoning by a
Jewish woman from ancient Khaybar, Professor Eliz Sanasarian notes,

¦ the subject became one of the questions in the ideological test for
the Teachers’ Training College where students were given a
multiple-choice question in order to identify the instigator of the
martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad, the `correct’ answer being `a
Jewess. ‘

It is worth recounting’as depicted in the Muslim sources’the events
that antedated Muhammad’s reputed poisoning at Khaybar.

Muhammad’s failures or incomplete successes were consistently
recompensed by murderous attacks on the Jews. The Muslim
prophet-warrior developed a penchant for assassinating individual
Jews, and destroying Jewish communities’by expropriation and expulsion
(Banu Quaynuqa and B. Nadir), or massacring their men, and enslaving
their women and children (Banu Qurayza). 116 Just before subduing the
Medinan Jewish tribe Banu Qurayza and orchestrating the mass execution
of their adult males, Muhammad invoked perhaps the most striking
Koranic motif for the Jews debasement’he addressed these Jews, with
hateful disparagement, as `You brothers of apes.’ 117 Subsequently, in
the case of the Khaybar Jews, Muhammad had the male leadership killed,
and plundered their riches. The terrorized Khaybar
survivors’industrious Jewish farmers’became prototype subjugated
dhimmis whose productivity was extracted by the Muslims as a form of
permanent booty. (And according to the Muslim sources, even this
tenuous vassalage was arbitrarily terminated within a decade of
Muhammad’s death when Caliph Umar expelled the Jews of Khaybar.) 118

Thus Maimonides (d. 1203), the renowned Talmudist, philosopher,
astronomer, and physician, as noted by historian Salo Baron,
emphasizes the bellicose `madness’ of Muhammad’Maimonides refers to
Muhammad as `Meshugga”and his quest for political control. Muhammad’s
mindset, and the actions it engendered, had immediate, and long term
tragic consequences for Jews’from his massacring up to 24,000 Jews, to
their chronic oppression’as described in the Islamic sources, by
Muslims themselves. 119

Muhammad’s brutal conquest and subjugation of the Medinan and Khaybar
Jews, and their subsequent expulsion by one of his companions, the
(second) `Rightly Guided’ Caliph Umar, epitomize permanent, archetypal
behavior patterns Islamic Law deemed appropriate to Muslim
interactions with Jews. 120 George Vajda’s seminal analysis of the
anti-Jewish motifs in the hadith remains the definitive work on this
subject. 121 Vajda concluded that according to the hadith stubborn
malevolence is the Jews defining worldly characteristic: rejecting
Muhammad and refusing to convert to Islam out of jealousy, envy and
even selfish personal interest, lead them to acts of treachery, in
keeping with their inveterate nature: `¦sorcery, poisoning,
assassination held no scruples for them.’ 122 These archetypes
sanction Muslim hatred towards the Jews, and the admonition to at
best, `subject [the Jews] to Muslim domination,’ as dhimmis, treated
`with contempt,’ under certain `humiliating arrangements.’ 123

Lastly, a profound anti-Jewish motif occurring after the events
recorded in the hadith and sira, put forth in early Muslim
historiography (for example, by Tabari), is most assuredly a part of
`the birth pangs’ of Islam: the story of Abd Allah b. Saba, an alleged
renegade Yemenite Jew, and founder of the heterodox Shi’ite sect. He
is held responsible’identified as a Jew’for promoting the Shi’ite
heresy and fomenting the rebellion and internal strife associated with
this primary breach in Islam’s `political innocence’, culminating in
the assassination of the third Rightly Guided Caliph Uthman, and the
bitter, lasting legacy of Sunni-Shi’ite sectarian strife. 124

Two particularly humiliating `vocations’ that were imposed upon Jews
by their Muslim overlords in Yemen, and Morocco’where Jews formed the
only substantive non-Muslim dhimmi populations’merit elaboration.

Moroccan Jews were confined to ghettos in the major cities, such as
Fez (since the 13th century) called mellah(s) (salty earth) which
derives from the fact it was here that they were forced to salt the
decapitated heads of executed rebels for public exposition. This
brutally imposed humiliating practice’which could be enforced even on
the Jewish Sabbath’persisted through the late 19th century, as
described by Eliezer Bashan: 125

In the 1870²s, Jews were forced to salt the decapitated heads of
rebels on the Sabbath. For example, Berber tribes frequently revolted
against Sultan Muhammad XVIII. In order to force them to accept his
authority, he would engage in punitive military campaigns. Among the
tribes were the Musa, located south of Marrakesh. In 1872, the Sultan
succeeded in quelling their revolt and forty-eight of their captives
were condemned to death. In October 1872, on the order of the Sultan,
they were dispatched to Rabat for beheading. Their decapitated heads
were to be exposed on the gates of the town for three days. Since the
heads were to be sent to Fez, Jewish ritual slaughterers [of
livestock] were forced to salt them and hang them for exposure on the
Sabbath. Despite threats by the governor of Rabat, the Jews refused to
do so. He then ordered soldiers to enter the homes of those who
refused and drag them outside. After they were flogged, the Jews
complied and performed the task and the heads of the rebels were
exposed in public.

Yemenite Jews had to remove human feces and other waste matter (urine
which failed to evaporate, etc.) from Muslim areas, initially in
Sanaa, and later in other communities such as Shibam, Yarim, and
Dhamar. Decrees requiring this obligation were issued in the late 18th
or early 19th century, and re-introduced in 1913. Yehuda Nini
reproduces an 1874 letter written by a Yemenite Jew to the Alliance
Israelite in Paris, lamenting the practice: 126

¦it is 86 years since our forefathers suffered the cruel decree and
great shame to the nation of Israel from the east to sundown¦for in
the days of our fathers, 86 years ago, there arose a judge known as
Qadi, and said unto the king and his ministers who lived in that time
that the Lord, Blessed be He, had only created the Jews out of love of
the other nations, to do their work and be enslaved by them at their
will, and to do the most contemptible and lowly of tasks. And of them
all¦the greatest contamination of all, to clear their privies and
streets and pathways of the filthy dung and the great filth in that
place and to collect all that is left of the dung, may your Honor
pardon the expression.

And when the Jews were perceived as having exceeded the rightful
bounds of this subjected relationship, as in mythically `tolerant’
Muslim Spain, the results were predictably tragic. The Granadan Jewish
viziers Samuel Ibn Naghrela, and his son Joseph, who protected the
Jewish community, were both assassinated between 1056 to 1066, and in
the aftermath, the Jewish population was annihilated by the local
Muslims. It is estimated that up to four thousand Jews perished in the
pogrom by Muslims that accompanied the 1066 assassination. This figure
equals or exceeds the number of Jews reportedly killed by the
Crusaders during their pillage of the Rhineland, some thirty years
later, at the outset of the First Crusade. 127 The inciting
`rationale’ for this Granadan pogrom is made clear in the bitter
anti-Jewish ode of Abu Ishaq, a well-known Muslim jurist and poet of
the times, who wrote: 128

Bring them down to their place and return them to the most abject
station. They used to roam around us in tatters covered with contempt,
humiliation, and scorn. They used to rummage amongst the dung heaps
for a bit of a filthy rag to serve as a shroud for a man to be buried
in¦Do not consider that killing them is treachery. Nay, it would be
treachery to leave them scoffing.

Abu Ishaq’s rhetorical incitement to violence also included the line, 129

Many a pious Muslim is in awe of the vilest infidel ape

Moshe Perlmann, in his analysis of the Muslim anti-Jewish polemic of
11th century Granada, notes, 130

[Abu Ishaq] Elb√Ą¬ęr√Ą¬ę used the epithet `ape’ (qird) profusely when
referring to Jews. Such indeed was the parlance.

The Moroccan cleric al-Maghili (d. 1505), referring to the Jews as
`brothers of apes’ (just as Muhammad, the sacralized prototype, had
addressed the Banu Qurayza), who repeatedly blasphemed the Muslim
prophet, and whose overall conduct reflected their hatred of Muslims,
fomented, and then personally lead, a Muslim pogrom (in ~ 1490)
against the Jews of the southern Moroccan oasis of Touat, plundering
and killing them en masse, and destroying their synagogue in
neighboring Tamantit. An important Muslim theologian whose writings
influenced Moroccan religious attitudes towards Jews into the 20th
century, al-Maghili also declared in verse, `Love of the Prophet,
requires hatred of the Jews.’ 131

Mordechai Hakohen (1856-1929) was a Libyan Talmudic scholar and
auto-didact anthropologist who composed an ethnographic study of North
African Jewry in the early 20th century. Hakohen describes the overall
impact on the Jews of the Muslim jihad conquest and rule of North
Africa, as follows: 132

They [also] pressed the Jews to enter the covenant of the Muslim
religion. Many Jews bravely chose death. Some of them accepted under
the threat of force, but only outwardly¦Others left the region,
abandoning their wealth and property and scattering to the ends of the
earth. Many stood by their faith, but bore an iron yoke on their
necks. They lowered themselves to the dust before the Muslims, lords
of the land, and accepted a life of woe’carrying no weapons, never
mounting an animal in the presence of a Muslim, not wearing a red
headdress, and following other laws that signaled their degradation.

Here is but a very incomplete sampling of pogroms and mass murderous
violence against Jews living under Islamic rule, across space and
time, all resulting from the combined effects of jihadism, general
anti-dhimmi, and/or specifically Antisemitic motifs in Islam: 6,000
Jews massacred in Fez in 1033; hundreds of Jews slaughtered in Muslim
Cordoba between 1010 and 1015; 4,000 Jews killed in Muslim riots in
Grenada in 1066, wiping out the entire community; the Berber Muslim
Almohad depredations of Jews (and Christians) in Spain and North
Africa between 1130 and 1232, which killed tens of thousands, while
forcibly converting thousands more, and subjecting the forced Jewish
converts to Islam to a Muslim Inquisition; the 1291 pogroms in Baghdad
and its environs, which killed (at least) hundreds of Jews; the 1465
pogrom against the Jews of Fez; the late 15th century pogrom against
the Jews of the Southern Moroccan oasis town of Touat; the 1679
pogroms against, and then expulsion of 10,000 Jews from Sanaa, Yemen
to the unlivable, hot and dry Plain of Tihama, from which only 1,000
returned alive, in 1680, 90% having died from exposure; recurring
Muslim anti-Jewish violence’including pogroms and forced
conversions’throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, which
rendered areas of Iran (for example, Tabriz) Judenrein; the 1834
pogrom in Safed where raging Muslim mobs killed and grievously wounded
hundreds of Jews; the 1888 massacres of Jews in Isfahan and Shiraz,
Iran; the 1910 pogrom in Shiraz; the pillage and destruction of the
Casablanca, Morocco ghetto in 1907; the pillage of the ghetto of Fez
Morocco in 1912; the government sanctioned anti-Jewish pogroms by
Muslims in Turkish Eastern Thrace during June-July, 1934 which
ethnically cleansed at least 3000 Jews; and the series of pogroms,
expropriations, and finally mass expulsions of some 900,000 Jews from
Arab Muslim nations, beginning in 1941 in Baghdad (the murderous
`Farhud,’ during which 600 Jews were murdered, and at least 12,000
pillaged)’eventually involving cities and towns in Egypt, Morocco,
Libya, Syria, Aden, Bahrain, and culminating in 1967 in Tunisia’that
accompanied the planning and creation of a Jewish state, Israel, on a
portion of the Jews’ ancestral homeland. 133

At present, the continual, monotonous invocation by Al Azhar clerics
of Antisemitic motifs from the Koran (and other foundational Muslim
texts) is entirely consistent with the published writings, and
statements of Sheikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi’Grand Imam of this
pre-eminent Islamic religious institution since 1996, until his death
in mid-March of 2010. 134Tantawi’s case illustrates the prevalence and
depth of sacralized, `normative’ Jew hatred in the contemporary Muslim
world. Arguably Islam’s leading mainstream cleric, Grand Imam Sheikh
Tantawi, embodies how the living legacy of Muslim anti-Jewish hatred,
and violence remains firmly rooted in mainstream, orthodox Islamic
teachings, not some aberrant vision of `radical Islam.’ 135

Tantawi’s Ph.D. thesis [Banu Israil fi al-Quran wa-al-Sunnah] Jews in
the Koran and the Traditionswas published in 1968-69, and re-published
in 1986. Two years after earning his Ph.D., Sheikh Tantawi began
teaching at Al-Azhar. In 1980 he became the head of the Tafsir
[Koranic Commentary] Department of the University of Medina, Saudi
Arabia’a position he held until 1984. Sheikh Tantawi became Grand
Mufti of Egypt in 1986, a position he was to hold for a decade, before
serving as the Grand Imam of Al Azhar beginning in 1996, for the last
14 years of his life. 136

The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism includes extensive first time
English translations of Tantawi’s academic magnum opus. Tantawi wrote
these words in his 700 page treatise, rationalizing Muslim Jew hatred:

[The] Koran describes the Jews with their own particular degenerate
characteristics, i.e. killing the prophets of Allah [Koran 2:61/
3:112],corrupting His words by putting them in the wrong places,
consuming the people’s wealth frivolously, refusal to distance
themselves from the evil they do, and other ugly characteristics
caused by their deep-rooted lasciviousness¦only a minority of the Jews
keep their word¦[A]ll Jews are not the same. The good ones become
Muslims [Koran 3:113], the bad ones do not.

Tantawi was apparently rewarded for this scholarly effort by
subsequently being named Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University. These were
the expressed, `carefully researched’ views on Jews held by the
nearest Muslim equivalent to a Pope’a man who for 14 years headed the
most prestigious center of Muslim learning in Sunni Islam, which
represents some 85 to 90% of the world’s Muslims. 138 And Sheikh
Tantawi never mollified such hatemongering beliefs after becoming the
Grand Imam of Al-Azhar as his statements on `dialogue’ (January 1998)
139 with Jews, the Jews as `enemies of Allah, descendants of apes and
pigs’ (April 2002), 140 and the legitimacy of homicide bombing of Jews
(April 2002), 141 made clear.

Tantawi’s statements on dialogue, 142 which were issued shortly after
he met with the Israel’s Chief Rabbi, Israel Meir Lau, in Cairo, on
December 15, 1997, provided him another opportunity to re-affirm his
ongoing commitment to the views expressed about Jews in his Ph.D.

¦anyone who avoids meeting with the enemies in order to counter their
dubious claims and stick fingers into their eyes, is a coward. My
stance stems from Allah’s book [the Koran], more than one-third of
which deals with the Jews¦[I] wrote a dissertation dealing with them
[the Jews], all their false claims and their punishment by Allah. I
still believe in everything written in that dissertation. [i.e., Jews
in the Koran and the Traditions, cited above]

Unfortunately, Tantawi’s antisemitic formulations are well-grounded in
classical, mainstream Islamic theology. 143 However, understanding and
acknowledging the Koranic origins of Islamic antisemitism is not a
justification for the unreformed, unrepentant modern endorsement of
these hateful motifs by Tantawi’with predictably murderous
consequences. Within days of the Netanya homicide bombing massacre on
a Passover seder night, March 27, 2002, for example, Sheikh Tantawi
issued an abhorrent sanction (April 4, 2002) 144 of so-called
`martyrdom operations,’ even when directed at Israeli civilians.

And during November, 2002 (`Tantawi: No Antisemitism’ Associated Press
11/19/2002), consistent with his triumphant denial, Sheikh Tantawi
made the following statement in response to criticism over the
virulently antisemitic Egyptian television series (`Horseman Without a
Horse’), based on the Czarist Russia forgery, `The Protocols of the
Elders of Zion’: 145

Suppose that the series has some criticism or shows some of the Jews’
traits, this doesn’t necessitate an uproar¬¶The accusation of
antisemitism was invented by the Jews as a means to pressure Arabs and
Muslims to implement their schemes in the Arab and Muslim countries,
so don’t pay attention to them

January 22, 2008, it was reported that Tantawi cancelled what would
have been an historic visit to the Rome synagogue by the imam of
Rome’s mosque (Ala Eldin Mohammed Ismail al-Ghobash). The putative
excuse for this cancellation was Israel’s self-defensive stance’a
blockade’in response to acts of jihad terrorism (rocket barrages;
attempted armed incursions) emanating from Gaza. The Italian newspaper
Corriere della Sera, commenting aptly about these events, observed
that the cancellation proved, `¦even so called Muslim moderates share
the ideology of hate, violence and death towards the Jewish state.’
146 Al Azhar, Corriere della Sera, further argued, which constituted
a `Vatican of Sunni Islam,’ had in effect issued `a kind of fatwah.’
The paper concluded by noting that `What the Cairo statement really
means is that Muslim dialogue with Jews in Italy is only possible once
Israel has been eliminated.’ 147

Annihilationist sentiments regarding Jews, as expressed by Hezbollah,
the Iranian regime, and incorporated permanently into the foundational
1988 Hamas Charter, are also rooted in Islamic eschatology, or end of
times theology. As characterized in the hadith, Muslim eschatology
highlights the Jews’ supreme hostility to Islam. Jews are described as
adherents of the Dajj√Ęl’the Muslim equivalent of the Anti-Christ’or
according to another tradition, the Dajj√Ęl is himself Jewish. At his
appearance, other traditions maintain that the Dajj√Ęl will be
accompanied by 70,000 Jews from Isfahan wrapped in their robes, and
armed with polished sabers, their heads covered with a sort of veil.
When the Dajj√Ęl is defeated, his Jewish companions will be
slaughtered’ everything will deliver them up except for the so-called
gharkad tree, as per the canonical hadith included in the 1988 Hamas
Charter (in article 7). Another hadith variant, which takes place in
Jerusalem, has Isa (the Muslim Jesus) leading the Arabs in a rout of
the Dajj√Ęl and his company of 70,000 armed Jews. And the notion of
jihad `ransom’ extends even into Islamic eschatology’on the day of
resurrection the vanquished Jews will be consigned to Hellfire, and
this will expiate Muslims who have sinned, sparing them from this
fate. 148 Moshe Sharon recently provided a very lucid summary of the
unique features of Shi’ite eschatology, its key point of consistency
with Sunni understandings of this doctrine, and Iranian President
Ahmadinejad’s deep personal attachment to `mahdism’: 149

Since the late ninth century, the Shi’ites have been expecting the
emergence of the hidden imam-mahdi, armed with divine power and
followed by thousands of martyrdom-seeking warriors. He is expected to
conquer the world and establish Shi’ism as its supreme religion and
system of rule. His appearance would involve terrible war and unusual

Ahmadinejad, as mayor of Teheran, built a spectacular boulevard
through which the mahdi would enter into the capital. There is no
question that Ahmadinejad believes he has been chosen to be the herald
of the mahdi.

Shi’ite Islam differs from Sunni Islam regarding the identity of the
mahdi. The Sunni mahdi is essentially an anonymous figure; the Shi’ite
mahdi is a divinely inspired person with a real identity.

However both Shi’ites and Sunnis share one particular detail about
`the coming of the hour’ and the dawning of messianic times: The Jews
must all suffer a violent death, to the last one. Both Shi’ites and
Sunnis quote the famous hadith [Sahih Muslim, Book 40, Number 6985]
attributed to Muhammad: The last hour will not come unless the Muslims
fight against the Jews, and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews
hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and the stone or the tree
would say: `Muslim! Servant of Allah! Here is a Jew behind me; come
and kill him!’ Not one Friday passes without this hadith being quoted
in sermons from one side of the Islamic world to the other.

The rise of Jewish nationalism’Zionism’has posed a predictable, if
completely unacceptable challenge to the Islamic order’jihad-imposed
chronic dhimmitude for Jews’of apocalyptic magnitude. As historian Bat
Ye’or has explained, 150

¦because divine will dooms Jews to wandering and misery, the Jewish
state appears to Muslims as an unbearable affront and a sin against
Allah. Therefore it must be destroyed by Jihad.

This is exactly the Islamic context in which the widespread,
`resurgent’ use of Jew annihilationist apocalyptic motifs’Sunni and
Shi’ite alike’would be an anticipated, even commonplace occurrence.

Such is the state of ferment we find in the Muslim world of today. It
was epitomized by the openly expressed annihilationist sentiments of
Muslim Brotherhood `Spiritual Guide’ Yusuf al-Qaradawi which marked
his triumphal return to Cairo Friday February 18, 2011. 151 After
years of exile, his public re-emergence in Egypt was sanctioned by the
nation’s provisional military rulers. Qaradawi, a vocal advocate of
Islam’s Jew-hating mainstream canon (like the late Al-Azhar Grand Imam
Tantawi), used the occasion to issue a clarion call for the jihad
re-conquest of Al-Aqsa mosque, i.e., Jerusalem. 152

A message to our brothers in Palestine: I have hope that Almighty
Allah, as I have been pleased with the victory in Egypt, that He will
also please me with the conquest of the al-Aqsa Mosque, to prepare the
way for me to preach in the al-Aqsa Mosque. May Allah prepare the way
for us to (preach) in the al-Aqsa Mosque in safety’not in fear, not in
haste. May Allah achieve this clear conquest for us. O sons of
Palestine, I am confident that you will be victorious.

This pronouncement was met with thunderous applause by the millions
assembled in Tahrir Square celebrating the so-called Arab Spring.

Sadly, if predictably, Bernard Lewis in an April 2, 2011 Wall Street
Journal interview, although wary of Qaradawi, ignored the immensely
popular cleric’s mainstream, canonical jihadism and Jew-hatred. 153
But Lewis did manage to reject his own repeated 1950s characterization
of Islam as authoritarian, even totalitarian, while burbling his now
oft repeated pieties about the putative tolerant, anti-authoritarian
`tradition’ of Islam, to cast a hopeful light on the Arab Spring: 154

The whole Islamic tradition is very clearly against autocratic and
irresponsible rule.. We have a much better chance of establishing¦some
sort of open, tolerant society, if it’s done within their systems,
according to their traditions.

Historian Robert Kaplan has dispassionately analyzed the views of
Bernard Lewis on Islamic Jew hatred. Kaplan’s discussion provides
broader insights which help elucidate how Lewis may have developed the
other self-contradictory, or apologetic positions he has taken on
Islamic authoritarianism, jihadism, and dhimmitude. As Kaplan
explains, central to Lewis’s method are the invalid generalizations he
proffers, absent any hard data, i.e., supportive facts. 155

Lewis puts Islam’s record regarding Jews in a favorable light mainly
with the generalizations he makes rather than the particular facts he
marshals. These generalizations, which crumble under the slightest
scrutiny, are of four general types. One holds that the least onerous
version of Muslim oppression is typical of Muslim practice¦.A second
type of generalization claims that the worst of the behavior of
Christians towards Jews was the norm¦ A third variety of
generalization employed by Lewis claims that Muslim abuses are far
less bad than the worst imaginable abuses by non-Muslims¦ A fourth
type of generalization ascribes to `human nature’ rather than Islam,
with no basis of evidence, the unattractive characteristics exhibited
by Muslims.

Kaplan describes perhaps the most egregious example of the first type
of generalization, as follows: 156

Lewis writes `dhimmitude was a minor inconvenience Jews learned to
live with ¦under Muslim rule the status of dhimmi was long accepted
with gratitude by Jews.’ In making this improbable claim he gives no
evidence or explanation. Could he mean that the Jews were grateful for
not being killed?

Kaplan also demonstrates how Lewis employs a cynical manipulation of
semantics to negate the concept of Antisemitism in Islam. 157

How does Lewis reach the conclusion that Antisemitism is unknown to
classical Islam? He defines Antisemitism as hatred of Jews according
to Christian doctrine, not simply hatred of Jews. In doing so he
distorts the ordinary meaning of `antisemitism’ which in contemporary
English means hatred of Jews.

Once again, it is illuminating to juxtapose Lewis’s attempt to deny
the existence of Antisemitism in Medieval Islam, with the conclusions
of S.D. Goitein, based upon the latter’s thorough philological and
historical analyses of the primary source Geniza documents. Thus, in
the specific context of the Arab Muslim world during the high Middle
Ages (circa 950-1250 C.E.), Goitein’ s seminal analyses revealed that
the Geniza documentary record employed the term antisemitism, 158

¦in order to differentiate animosity against Jews from the
discrimination practiced by Islam against non-Muslims in general. Our
scrutiny of the Geniza material has proved the existence of
`antisemitism’ in the time and the area considered here¬¶

Goitein cites as concrete proof of his assertion that a unique strain
of Islamic Jew hatred was extant at this time (i.e., up to a
millennium ago)’exploding Lewis’s spurious claim of its absence’the
fact that letters from the Cairo Geniza material, 159

¦have a special word for it and, most significantly, one not found in
the Bible or in Talmudic literature (nor registered in any Hebrew
dictionary), but one much used and obviously coined in the Geniza
period. It is sinuth, `hatred’, a Jew-baiter being called sone, `a

Incidents of such Muslim Jew hatred documented by Goitein in the
Geniza record come from northern Syria (Salamiyya and al-Mar`arra),
Morocco (Fez), and Egypt (Alexandria), with references to the latter
being particularly frequent. 160

Three additional examples illustrate how Lewis’s Islamic
apologetics’primarily via the same spurious methods of
`generalization’ Kaplan identifies’morph into frank moral confusion.

In 1937 Walter Fischel wrote a thoughtful analysis of the Mongol
period and its impact on Jews and Christians in the conquered Abbasid
Caliphate. The Mongol conquest of Baghdad (seat of the Abbasid
Caliphate) in 1258 ended the domination of Islam as a state religion,
and with it the system of dhimmitude’a point Fischel makes explicitly:

¦the principle of tolerance for all faiths, maintained by the Il Khans
[Mongol rulers], (depriving) the [Islamic] concept of the `Protected
People’, the ahl adh-Dhimma [dhimmi system]¬¶of its former importance;
with it fell the extremely varied professional restrictions into which
it had expanded, [emphasis added]¦primarily those regarding the
admission of Jews and Christians to government posts.

The 13th century Christian chronicler Bar Hebraeus and the Iraqi
Muslim Ghazi b. al-Wasiti (fl. 1292), author of a Muslim treatise on
the dhimmis, made these concordant observations from diametrically
opposed perspectives’Bar Hebraeus as a dhimmi celebrating the changes
wrought by Mongol conquest, and al-Wasiti as a Muslim lamenting them:

[Bar Hebraeus] With the Mongols there is neither slave nor free man,
neither believer nor pagan, neither Christian nor Jew; but they regard
all men as belonging to one and the same stock.

[al-Wasiti] A firman of the Il Khan [Hulagu] had appeared to the
effect that everyone should have the right to profane his faith openly
and his religious connection; and that the members of one religious
body should not oppose those of another

Fischel notes that because the Mongols abolished a system Lewis
contends never really existed (or a system Lewis ignores), the plight
of the dhimmi Jews and Christians improved substantially: 163

For Christians and Jews, the two groups chiefly affected by the ahl
adh-Dhimma policy, current until then, this change in constitutional
and religious principles implied a considerable amelioration of their
position; whereas for the Muslims it meant they had sunk to a depth
hitherto unknown in their history.

Moreover, when the Mongols subsequently converted to Islam, a
transition that took place under Mongol rulers Ghazan (1295-1304) and
Uljaytu (1305-1316), Fischel maintains, 164

The concept of the ahl adh-Dhimma once again became a basic fact in
the administration of the state, and it is characteristic that under
Ghazan and his successor Uljaytu (1305-1316) we hear of renewed
enactments against the ahl ad-Dhimma and of sumptuary laws [dress
regulations, especially], as well as of the destruction of synagogues
and churches, and of the persecution of Christians and Jews.

Bernard Lewis’s brief characterization of these events is selective to
the point of absurdity. He entirely ignores the imposition of
dhimmitude upon the non-Muslim minorities under the Abbasid Caliphate
before the pagan Mongol conquests, its amelioration under pagan Mongol
rule (when the system of dhimmitude was transiently abolished), or its
re-imposition when the Mongols eventually converted to Islam.
Neglecting all these facts, Lewis instead, perseverates on his charge
of `collaboration’ by the Christians and Jews with the Mongols, before
the latter converted to Islam: 165

The Mongol rulers found Christians and Jews’local people knowing the
languages, and the countries but not themselves Muslims’very useful
instruments, and appointed some of them to high office. Afterwards,
when the Mongols were converted to Islam, became part of the Islamic
world, and adopted Islamic attitudes, the Christians and Jews had to
pay for past collaboration with the pagan conquerors.

Lewis has also characterized, reductio ad absurdum, the quite brutal
Ottoman devshirme-janissary system, which, from the mid to late 14th,
through early 18th centuries, enslaved and forcibly converted to Islam
an estimated 500,000 to one million non-Muslim (primarily Balkan
Christian) adolescent males, as a benign form of social advancement,
jealously pined for by `ineligible’ Ottoman Muslim families. 166

The role played by the Balkan Christian boys recruited into the
Ottoman service through the devshirme is well known. Great numbers of
them entered the Ottoman military and bureaucratic apparatus, which
for a while came to be dominated by these new recruits to the Ottoman
state and the Muslim faith. This ascendancy of Balkan Europeans into
the Ottoman power structure did not pass unnoticed, and there are many
complaints from other elements, sometimes from the Caucasian slaves
who were their main competitors, and more vocally from the old and
free Muslims, who felt slighted by the preference given to the newly
converted slaves.

Scholars who have conducted serious, detailed studies of the
devshirme-janissary system, do not share such hagiographic views of
this Ottoman institution. Speros Vryonis, Jr. for example, makes
these deliberately understated, but cogent observations, 167

¦in discussing the devshirme we are dealing with the large numbers of
Christians who, in spite of the material advantages offered by
conversion to Islam, chose to remain members of a religious society
which was denied first class citizenship. Therefore the proposition
advanced by some historians, that the Christians welcomed the
devshirme as it opened up wonderful opportunities for their children,
is inconsistent with the fact that these Christians had not chosen to
become Muslims in the first instance but had remained Christians¦there
is abundant testimony to the very active dislike with which they
viewed the taking of their children. One would expect such sentiments
given the strong nature of the family bond and given also the strong
attachment to Christianity of those who had not apostacized to
Islam¦First of all the Ottomans capitalized on the general Christian
fear of losing their children and used offers of devshirme exemption
in negotiations for surrender of Christian lands. Such exemptions were
included in the surrender terms granted to Jannina, Galata, the Morea,
Chios, etc¦Christians who engaged in specialized activities which were
important to the Ottoman state were likewise exempt from the tax on
their children by way of recognition of the importance of their labors
for the empire¦Exemption from this tribute was considered a privilege
and not a penalty¦

¦there are other documents wherein their [i.e., the Christians]
dislike is much more explicitly apparent. These include a series of
Ottoman documents dealing with the specific situations wherein the
devshirmes themselves have escaped from the officials responsible for
collecting them¦A firman¦in 1601 [regarding the devshirme] provided
the [Ottoman] officials with stern measures of enforcement, a fact
which would seem to suggest that parents were not always disposed to
part with their sons.

` enforce the command of the known and holy fetva [fatwa] of
Seyhul [Shaikh]- Islam. In accordance with this whenever some one of
the infidel parents or some other should oppose the giving up of his
son for the Janissaries, he is immediately hanged from his door-sill,
his blood being deemed unworthy.’

Vasiliki Papoulia highlights the continuous desperate, often violent
struggle of the Christian populations against this forcefully imposed
Ottoman levy: 168

It is obvious that the population strongly resented¦this measure [and
the levy] could be carried out only by force. Those who refused to
surrender their sons- the healthiest, the handsomest and the most
intelligent- were on the spot put to death by hanging. Nevertheless we
have examples of armed resistance. In 1565 a revolt took place in
Epirus and Albania. The inhabitants killed the recruiting officers and
the revolt was put down only after the sultan sent five hundred
janissaries in support of the local sanjak-bey. We are better
informed, thanks to the historic archives of Yerroia, about the
uprising in Naousa in 1705 where the inhabitants killed the Silahdar
Ahmed Celebi and his assistants and fled to the mountains as rebels.
Some of them were later arrested and put to death..

Since there was no possibility of escaping [the levy] the population
resorted to several subterfuges. Some left their villages and fled to
certain cities which enjoyed exemption from the child levy or migrated
to Venetian-held territories. The result was a depopulation of the
countryside. Others had their children marry at an early
age¦Nicephorus Angelus¦states that at times the children ran away on
their own initiative, but when they heard that the authorities had
arrested their parents and were torturing them to death, returned and
gave themselves up. La Giulletiere cites the case of a young Athenian
who returned from hiding in order to save his father’s life and then
chose to die himself rather than abjure his faith. According to the
evidence in Turkish sources, some parents even succeeded in abducting
their children after they had been recruited. The most successful way
of escaping recruitment was through bribery. That the latter was very
widespread is evident from the large amounts of money confiscated by
the sultan from corrupt¦officials. Finally, in their desperation the
parents even appealed to the Pope and the Western powers for help.

Papoulia concludes: 169

¦there is no doubt that this heavy burden was one of the hardest
tribulations of the Christian population.

Perhaps the cause of greatest disquietude’and certainly most
infamous’have been Lewis’s inexplicably evolved views on the jihad
genocide of the Armenians. His renowned The Emergence of Modern
Turkey, originally published in 1962 (reissued in 1968, and 2002),
includes these characterizations of the mass killings of the Armenians
by the Turks in 1894-96, 1909, and 1915: 170

(1894-96, p. 202) The Armenian participants mindful of the massacres
of 1894-96, were anxious to seek the intervention of the European
powers as a guarantee of effective reforms in the Ottoman Empire [in
the 20th century].

(1909, p. 216) With suspicious simultaneity a wave of outbreaks spread
across Anatolia. Particularly bad were the events of the Adana
district, which culminated in the massacre of thousands of
Armenians¦While Europe was appalled by Turkish brutality, Muslim
opinion was shocked by what seemed to them the insolence of the
Armenians and the hypocrisy of Christian Europe. The Turks were,
however, well aware of the painful effects produced by these massacres
in Europe, which had not yet forgotten the horrors of the Hamidian
repression [i.e, the 1894-96 massacres]

(1915, p. 356) Now a desperate struggle between them [i.e., the Turks
and Armenians] began, a struggle between two nations for the
possession of a single homeland, that ended with the terrible
holocaust [emphasis added]of 1915, when a million and a half Armenians

Thus when Lewis first wrote his authoritative history of modern
Turkey, he understood, and made explicit, that the Armenians had been
massacred under successive Ottoman governments in 1894-96, and 1909.
Moreover, he maintains that the Armenians were subjected in 1915 to a
`holocaust,’ during which 1.5 million `perished.’

By 1985, however, Lewis was the most prominent signatory on a petition
to the US Congress protesting the effort to make April 24 ‘ the date
the Armenians commemorate the victims of the genocide ‘ a nationwide
Armenian-American memorial day, which would include the mention of
man’s inhumanity to man. Both this petition drive and a simultaneous
high profile media advertisement campaign were financed by the
Committee of the Turkish Association. 171 Speros Vryonis has raised,
unabashedly, the appropriate historical questions and accompanying
moral concerns regarding Lewis’s actions: 172

When was Professor Lewis expressing an objective opinion: when he
wrote the book [i.e., The Emergence of Modern Turkey, 1962/68
versions], or when he signed the political ad? To phrase it more
bluntly, what shall we believe? Certainly, the data available to him
in the writing of the book were sufficiently clear and convincing for
him to proceed to these three clear and unequivocal statements [i.e.,
describing the 1894-96, and 1909 events as massacres of the Armenians
by the Turks, and the 1915 slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians by the
Turks as a holocaust]. What had changed? The subject had entered the
sphere of politics, and Prof. Lewis, along with so many other signers
of the ad, had decided to take sides where their economic,
professional, personal, and emotional interests lay: with the Turkish
government, and not with history.

In Lewis’s revised text of The Emergence of Modern Turkey, circa 2002,
`slaughter’ replaces `holocaust,’ the estimate of the Armenians who
`perished’ is changed from 1.5 million to `according to estimates,
more than a million,’ and a concluding remark is added referring to
the `unknown number of Turks’ who also died in the putative struggle
for possession of a single homeland. 173 Peter Balakian makes these
germane observations: 174

¦without any substantiation, Lewis dispenses of the Armenian Genocide
in a couple of sentences, calling it a `a struggle between two nations
for the possession of a single homeland.’ Lewis never explains how an
unarmed, Christian ethnic minority in the Ottoman Empire could be
fairly called a `nation,’ that could engage in a `struggle’ with a
world power (the Ottoman Empire) for a single homeland. In a recent
interview, `There Was No Genocide: Interview with Prof. Bernard
Lewis,’ by Dalia Karpel, Ha’aretz (Jerusalem, January 23, 1998), Lewis
asserts that the massacres of the Armenians were not the result `of a
deliberate preconceived decision of the Turkish government.’ These
evasions are aimed at trivializing the Armenian Genocide.

Furthermore, during the past decade, as Yair Auron has observed, when
Lewis was requested, 175

¦to make available the academic research published in recent years,
which, in his professional opinion, constitute the basis for the
change from his original position to his new position that there was
no state-planned or administered genocide/mass murder of the
Armenians¦Lewis did not respond to this demand, even though he noted
that letters to him and his reply would be published.

Auron’s final assessment is apt: 176

Lewis’s stature [has] provided a lofty cover for the Turkish national
agenda of obfuscating academic research on the Armenian Genocide.

Lewis’s wildly fluctuating opinions aside, a consensus among bona fide
genocide scholars has emerged which is consistent with Professor
Richard Rubenstein’s conclusion from 1975, that the 1915 Turkish
massacre of the Armenians was, 177

¦the first full-fledged attempt by a modern state to practice
disciplined, methodically organized genocide

And also contra Lewis, who never placed the mass killings of the
Armenians in their Islamic religious context, Bat Ye’or reminds us why
the Armenian genocide was a jihad genocide 178 committed against a
non-Muslim people `violating’ the ancient dhimma, a `¬¶breach¬¶[which]
restored to the umma [the Muslim community] its initial right to kill
the subjugated minority [the dhimmis], [and] seize their property¬¶’.
Moreover, the ultimately genocidal massacres of the World War I era,
were, she notes 179

¦the natural outcome of a policy inherent in the politico-religious
structure of dhimmitude. This process of physically eliminating a
rebel nation had already been used against the rebel Slav and Greek
Christians, rescued [i.e., during the 19th century] from collective
extermination by European intervention, although sometimes
reluctantly. The genocide of the Armenians was a jihad. No rayas
[non-Muslim dhimmis] took part in it. Despite the disapproval of many
Muslim Turks and Arabs, and their refusal to collaborate in the crime,
these massacres were perpetrated solely by Muslims and they alone
profited from the booty: the victims’ property, houses, and lands
granted to the muhajirun, and the allocation to them of women, and
child slaves. The elimination of male children over the age of twelve
was in accordance with the commandments of the jihad and conformed to
the age fixed for the payment of the jizya. The four stages of the
liquidation ‘ deportation, enslavement, forced conversion, and
massacre ‘ reproduced the historic conditions of the jihad carried out
in the dar-al-harb from the seventh century on. Chronicles from a
variety of sources, by Muslim authors in particular, give detailed
descriptions of the organized massacres or deportation of captives,
whose sufferings in forced marches behind the armies paralleled the
Armenian experience in the twentieth century.

The German scholar Karl Binswanger concluded his brilliant 1977
analysis of 16th century Ottoman dhimmitude with a valid moral
critique of the `dogmatic Islamophilia’ epitomized by Bernard Lewis,
and Orientalists of Lewis’s persuasion. 180

It is absolutely scientifically justifiable to call cynicism and
`evil’ by their names.

¦We were able to confirm these rational errors because they were in a
domain which was susceptible to rational argument. This rational
access is not given for another domain. We would like to call this
domain `religious,’ but prefer `dogmatic,’ because it is not just a
question of expressing the irrational but of stubbornly clinging.
That this domain is Islamophilic follows from the fact that there is
an attempt to present the moral aspect of an Islamic fact as ethically
valuable (not value-neutral!), even if historic (and any other) sense
does not support such an interpretation.

It is understandable that the Orientalist has a predilection for those
peoples with whose history and culture he is concerned and wishes to
present them in a good light. All the same, such a process has
nothing to do with science.

¬¶[W]homever’consciously or not’downplays or misrepresents the morally
negative aspects of the Dhimma or even distorts it into its (moral)
opposite, because he would otherwise have to partially revise his
pre-conceived evaluation of Islamic culture, he is behaving like the
Marxist `researcher’ who simply demonizes every manifestation of
`evil’ feudalism, instead of, or without (even therefore)
investigating the functional accomplishments of feudalism. The
Marxist `researcher’ acts this way, because there is no place for
critical examination of his own position in his pre-conceived
conception of the world and science. For him `scientific socialism’
is a dogma. Orientalist studies must defend itself from degenerating
into an obstinate `scientific Islamophilia.’ Or it will deserve the
teasing name of `orchid specialty’ (obscure and unimportant specialty)
and not that of a science.

Ibn Warraq, underscoring the crucial need for a consistent application
of intellectual honesty in historical scholarship, sought to `remind
Bernard Lewis, his students, and his admirers’ of the following words
Lewis had written about the `moral and professional obligation’ of
Western historians, and other intellectuals: 181

There was a time when scholars and other writers in communist eastern
Europe relied on writers and publishers in the free West to speak the
truth about their history, their culture, and their predicament. Today
it is those who told the truth, not those who concealed or denied it,
who are respected and welcomed in these countries. Historians in free
countries have a moral and professional obligation not to shirk the
difficult issues and subjects that some people would place under a
sort of taboo; not to submit to voluntary censorship , but to deal
with these matters fairly, honestly , without apologetics, without
polemic, and, of course, competently. Those who enjoy freedom have a
moral obligation to use that freedom for those who do not possess it.
We live in a time when great efforts have been made, and continue to
be made, to falsify the record of the past and to make history a tool
of propaganda ; when governments , religious movements, political
parties, and sectional groups of every kind are busy rewriting history
as they would wish it to have been, as they would like their followers
to believe that it was. All this is very dangerous indeed, to
ourselves and to others, however we may define otherness’dangerous to
our common humanity. Because, make no mistake, those who are unwilling
to confront the past will be unable to understand the present and
unfit to face the future

The ironies abound’consider only Lewis’s former uncompromising
descriptions of both Communism and Islam as totalitarian ideologies,
182 or the World War I era Armenian massacres as a `terrible
holocaust,’ i.e., a genocide 183’now summarily redacted. It is
apparent Lewis has fallen quite short of the standard set by his own

This discussion began with Bernard Lewis’s July, 2006 admonition,
`Either we bring them freedom, or they destroy us.’ 184 Consistent
with his admonition, the US military, at an enormous cost of blood and
treasure, 185 liberated Afghanistan and Iraq from despotic regimes.
However, as facilitated by the Sharia-based Afghan and Iraqi
constitutions the US military occupation helped midwife’which have
negated freedom of conscience, and promoted the persecution of
non-Muslim religious minorities’`they,’ i.e., the Muslim denizens of
Afghanistan and Iraq have chosen to reject the opportunity for Western
freedom `we’ provided them, and transmogrified it into `hurriyya.’ 186
Far more important than mere hypocrisy’a ubiquitous human trait’is the
deleterious legacy of his own Islamic confusion Bernard Lewis has
bequeathed to Western policymaking elites, both academic and