Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Islam Upside-Down and Inside-Out: II

I opened “Islam Upside-Down and Inside-Out” with “There can’t be too many books like this one. The Impact of Islam, by Emmet Scott, is one of many books that deflate the whole history, provenance, and character of Islam.  At first glance, as an atheist, I thought that reviewing a book written by a Christian with an obvious Christian bias against Islam would be difficult, mainly in segregating the bias from the truth-telling and facts.”

But I left out some of the goriest parts of Scott’s opus, parts which explain in some respect the title of his book, parts which indict Islam as a psychopathic movement, an “illness” which spread to the rest of Europe.

Islam, for example, invented the “Inquisition,” not the Catholic Church, which adopted the institution as a way of identifying and persecuting heretics. Islam’s original purpose, however, was to test the sincerity of the conversion of Jews and Christians to Islam. Untold numbers of Jews and Christians were made an offer they could not refuse: convert or pay the exorbitant jizya or die. Jizya was a poll tax, or a head tax, on anyone not a “true” Muslim. Theoretically, the tax offered the infidel, or the dhimmi ,“protection” from theft, persecution, or death by Muslims and others, much as racketeers centuries later would extort “protection money” from individuals and businesses; the extortion was simply the criminals refraining from murder or dynamiting one’s business.

As Scott and others have described the workings of jizya, this did not, as a rule, work out as expected, resulting in massacres of Jews and Christians, or their deportation from Spain across the Mediterranean to Morocco. Which leads us back to the Inquisition.
Pope Innocent III, founder of the Christian Inquisition

The high point of the medieval church’s power came in the early thirteenth century and in the person of Innocent III (1198-1216)….His two most memorable actions…were the establishment of the Inquisition and the launching of the notorious Albigensian Crusade, which lead to the elimination of the Cathar movement….Innocent III, then the most powerful of medieval theocrats, was a proponent of Holy War, and an enforcer of absolute doctrinal conformity. Apostasy under Innocent III became a capital offense. During his time, too, the other Crusades, against Islam in Spain and in the Middle East, continued to rage. (p. 113)

Sound familiar? Hear echoes of Sharia law in Innocent III’s policies?

….Innocent’s attitude to apostasy and doctrinal conformity – as well as to “Holy War” – was completely in accord with Islamic notions, and we must consider to what extent these extreme positions of the European theocracy were influenced by the Islamic one….And doctrinal conformity was enforced in Islam from the beginning [with Muhammad] in a way that it never was in Europe: here apostasy and heresy were always seen as capital offenses. [“If anyone changes his religion, kill him.” – Bukhari, Vol.9, book 84, no. 57] The most notorious, though by no means the only, example of this is found in the fate of Mansur Al-Hallaj (858-922), the Persian mystic…who was at first blinded, tortured, and crucified….And the killing of political and religious opponents, or those who deviated in any form from orthodox Islam, continued throughout Muslim history. So it was with  infidels such as Christians and Jews who, though theoretically dhimmi or “protected,” were in fact always the subject of violent attack….There even existed, as we have seen, at least from the time of the Almohads (early twelfth century), a commission of inquiry , a veritable “inquisition” for rooting out apostates….. (Square brackets mine, p. 114)

The Almohads were not strictly Arab, but Berbers from North Africa. They were “fundamentalist” Muslims who invaded Spain, fought with the Muslims already there and defeated them, and declared victory. They soon were massacring Jews and Christians, or expelling them from Spain.  They followed the Almoravids, against whom the legendary El Cid fought. El Cid’s history is a very confusing one, and not as simple as its namesake film portrays it. The Almohads did not tolerate the “benign” rule of the Almoravids and embarked on a campaign to oust and replace Spain with a “pure” form of Islam. It was during the reign of the Almoravids that the apocryphal and wholly unfounded narrative of a “Golden Age” of Islam in Spain was born, in which Jews, Christians, and Muslims lived side by side in harmonious “peace,” when the opposite was true. If the Almoravids “tolerated” Jews and Christians, it was only because they were better off alive as jizya money trees that increased the wealth of the Muslims. Otherwise, Jews and Christians had to wear distinctive badges, could not build new churches or synagogues, and had to defer to Muslims in every legal and social way.

Scott considered it noteworthy that until the Muslim persecution of the Jews, anti-Semitism and pogroms did not exist in Europe. Jews and Christians tolerated each other’s existence, and often became allies against a variety of threats.

….The peculiarly violent anti-Semitism which characterized medieval Europe seems to have had its origin in Spain; and the rise of this new and virulent anti-Semitism in other areas of Europe is intimately connected with the clash between Islam and Christianity.

Christianity was of course always anti-Semitic, or, more accurately, anti-Judaistic. Christians blamed Jews for the murder of Christ, and right from the beginning the two religions were fraught. However, Christianity did not invent anti-Semitism, nor were Christians, for a long time, a threat to Jews…..From the very beginning, or course, the Jews, or rather, the Jewish authorities were deeply antagonistic towards Christianity; a faith they looked upon as little more than dangerous heresy….

….Anti-Semitism…in fact predated both the rise of Christianity and Islam. Relations between Gentiles and Jews were volatile as far back as Hellenistic times….(pp. 99-100)

European anti-Semitism can be dated roughly around the time of the First Crusade in 1095. Christians began to blame Jews for helping Muslims capture Jerusalem. “The Crusaders arrived at Jerusalem, launched an assault on the city, and captured it in July 1099, massacring many of the city's Muslim and Jewish inhabitants.”

Anti-Semitism has always been present in the Koran and the Hadith. Mohammad’s worst enemies were Jews. According to his legend, he went out of his way to massacre Jewish men, capture their women, and claim Jewish property as his own. The massacres of Banu Quraiza and Khaybar are regarded by Muslims as two of his most exalted victories (pp.  101-103)

Reading through Scott’s opus, one can’t help but be led to imagine Mohammad as a kind of “proto-Negan,” except as a brute killer on camel, not riding in a stolen mobile home. Mohammad also wanted all your “stuff,” as well as your wife and anything else that was “no longer yours,” but his, and he was prepared to lop off your head if you didn’t submit to his decrees. Mohammad would have been very handy with a barbed wire baseball bat.

The Impact of Islam, by Emmet Scott. Nashville/London (New English Review Press), 2014. 200 pp. 

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