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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Part II: Leagacy of Islamic Antisemitism

A continuation, part II, of a discussion about “The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism: From Sacred Texts to Solemn History,” by Andrew Bostom. Part I may be accessed on the blogsite.

Looking at Bostom’s book in context, it appears that it comes as an outgrowth of discussions about the nature of Islam. More precisely, critics have pointed to the oppression of non-Muslims, historically, in Islamic-ruled societies, as apparently mandated by Islam. (The contemporary problem, of course, is that SOME Muslim fundamentalists – even MANY, and maybe most, but NOT ALL Muslim fundamentalists – and certainly NOT ALL Muslims -- choose to act upon Islamic mandates in a violent, anti-democratic manner.)

Stated positively, certain non-Muslims were honored as “People of the Book [the Bible]” and were protected as minorities. Stated negatively, non-Muslims were required to display submission to Muslims by assuming specified restrictions – or to convert, or die. The term for protected/submissive minority was: dhimmi.

It is instructive, and fascinating, to follow a debate about the treatment of non-Muslims ruled by Islam, (follow the link back to previous links , for the full flavor of the debate ) such as the following, important rejoinder by the author who writes under the name of Bat Ye’or. She coined the term dhimmitude in 1983 and authored a text about the treatment of Christians and Jews under Islam (1985).

Bat Ye’or: The treatment of the Jews by the Prophet has become the standard by which the classical Muslim jurists formulated their policy toward non-Muslims, as embodied in the Shari'a and in the jihad’s rules.

Hence, when non-Muslims (primarily Hindus and Christians) were killed in Bali [2002], Amrozi, the Indonesian terrorist,[] invoked the fate of the Jews in the oasis of Khaybar…. Although many of the Jews of Khaybar were killed in an unprovoked jihad campaign by Muhammad, those vanquished Khaybar Jews who surrendered were not killed, but were dispossessed and became exploited dhimmi tributaries, until, within a decade later, they were expelled by the "Rightly Guided" Caliph Umar.

So how did Bostom get involved with all this? Bostom was involved in the debate about the Islamic imperative toward jihad, and in 2005 authored “The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims”

Bostom says, however, it was not until he came across an Islamic anti-Jewish aphorism embedded in, of all places, a 17th century anti-Hindu tract, that his curiosity was piqued as to the provenance of anti-Jewish hatred in Islam:

Bostom: Nearing completion of my first book compendium, The Legacy of Jihad, in early 2005, specifically the section about jihad on the Indian subcontinent, I came across a remarkable comment by the Indian Sufi theologian Sirhindi (d. 1624). …In the midst of an anti-Hindu tract… Sirhindi observes, “Whenever a Jew is killed, it is for the benefit of Islam.”

The biographical information I could glean about Sirhindi provided….no evidence he was ever in direct contact with Jews, so his very hateful remark suggested to me that the attitudes it reflected must have a theological basis in Islam...

Resource: An Extended interview with Andrew Bostom
Next: Popularly accepted contentions taken on by Bostom.