Translating Words, Interpreting Events

Western Ignorance of the ‘Conditions of Omar’

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Church in Raqqa, Syria, before and after: cross and church bell are now replaced with Islam’s black flags proclaiming “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger.”

PJ Media

A jihadi group occupying the Syrian town of Raqqa recently gave Christian minorities living there three choices: 1) convert to Islam, 2) remain Christian but pay tribute and accept third-class subject status, or 3) die by the sword.

According to the BBC, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria issued a directive

citing the Islamic concept of “dhimma”, [which] requires Christians in the city to pay tax of around half an ounce (14g) of pure gold in exchange for their safety. It says Christians must not make renovations to churches, display crosses or other religious symbols outside churches, ring church bells or pray in public.  Christians must not carry arms, and must follow other rules imposed by ISIS (also known as ISIL) on their daily lives.  The statement said the group had met Christian representatives and offered them three choices—they could convert to Islam, accept ISIS’ conditions, or reject their control and risk being killed.  “If they reject, they are subject to being legitimate targets, and nothing will remain between them and ISIS other than the sword,” the statement said.

Because several Western media outlets uncharacteristically reported on this latest atrocity against Syrian Christians, many Westerners are shocked—amazed to hear of such draconian conditions.

In reality, however, these three choices are fully grounded in Islamic teachings, as shall be demonstrated below.

So why is the West, here in the “information age,” utterly if not abhorrently ignorant of the teachings of Islam?   Because those responsible for making such knowledge available—specifically academia, media, and government—are more interested in whitewashing Islam and bemoaning Islamophobia (see pgs. 219-249 of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians for specifics).

Western Dissembling

Most symbolic of all this is that right around the same time news that jihadis were subjugating and extorting jizya-money from Syrian Christians appeared, the Saudi-funded Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Christian-Muslim Understanding at Georgetown University, Washington D.C.,  held a seminar discussing how Islam is misunderstood and being demonized by so-called “Islamophobes.”

I have direct experience of this.  Many years ago, as a graduate student at Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, my interest in medieval Islamic history, Sharia, and jihad received askance looks from professors—not least because most classes offered were about the evils of colonialism and Orientalism, or Islamic “feminism.”

It was the same when I worked at the African and Middle Eastern Division of the Library of Congress, a governmental institution; there, our conferences regularly focused on the purported achievements of Islamic civilization.

As for the endemic Muslim persecution of Christians—past or present—apparently only an “Islamophobe” would raise that topic up.

Speaking of government, also around the same time jihadis were giving Christians the three classic choices of Islam—conversion, subjugation, or death—a delegation of Syrian Christian clergy came to the Senate Arms Services Committee meeting room to offer testimony concerning the sufferings of Syria’s Christians.  Then,

Sen. John McCain marched into the committee room yelling, according to a high-level source that attended the meeting, and quickly stormed out. “He was incredibly rude,” the source told Judicial Watch “because he didn’t think the Syrian church leaders should even be allowed in the room.” Following the shameful tantrum McCain reentered the room and sat briefly but refused to make eye contact with the participants, instead ignoring them by looking down at what appeared to be random papers. The outburst was so embarrassing that Senator Graham, also an advocate of U.S. military intervention in Syria, apologized for McCain’s disturbing outburst. “Graham actually apologized to the group for McCain’s behavior,” according to the source, who sat through the entire meeting. “It was truly unbelievable.”

Less dramatically but equally revealing, CIA chief John Brennan recently declared that the ideology of those offering Christians three choices is “a perverse and very corrupt interpretation of the Koran,” one that has “hijacked” Islam and “really distorted the teachings of Muhammad.”

And if the attempts to suppress the reality of Christian suffering under Islam by academia, media, and government were not enough, months and years back, when the plight of Syria’s Christians was becoming known, even random (but supposedly nonbiased and independent) think tanks and writers also tried to suppress it.

Is it any wonder, then, that Christians in Syria being offered three choices—Islam, subjugation, or death—is mindboggling to the average person in the West, appearing as a wild aberration?

The Conditions of Omar

Yet knowledge of the particulars of Islam’s three-fold choice has been available for centuries; early Western peoples were much acquainted with it, including the now much maligned “Orientalists.”

Whereas Koran 9:29 provides divine sanction to fight the “People of the Book”  (namely, Christians and Jews) “until they pay the jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued,” the lesser known Conditions of Omar (also known as the Pact of Omar) lays out in detail how they are to feel themselves subdued.

Named after the second caliph, Omar bin al-Khattab (r. 634 to 644), the Conditions was purportedly agreed upon between the caliph and a community of Christians conquered by invading Muslims, ironically in the region of Syria.  It has since been referenced in most major works on the treatment of dhimmis—non-Muslims living under Islamic authority.

There are different versions of the text of the Conditions, varying only slightly.  Excerpts from one of the most authoritative versions follow (see Crucified Again for my complete translation). As in most versions, the conquered Christians appear to be speaking and agree:

Not to build a church in our city—nor a monastery, convent, or monk’s cell in the surrounding areas—and not to repair those that fall in ruins or are in Muslim quarters;

Not to clang our cymbals except lightly and from the innermost recesses of our churches;

Not to display a cross on them [churches], nor raise our voices during prayer or readings in our churches anywhere near Muslims;

Not to produce a cross or [Christian] book in the markets of the Muslims;

Not to congregate in the open for Easter or Palm Sunday, nor lift our voices [in lamentation] for our dead nor show our firelights with them near the market places of the Muslims;

Not to display any signs of polytheism, nor make our religion appealing, nor call or proselytize anyone to it;

Not to prevent any of our relatives who wish to enter into Islam;

Not to possess or bear any arms whatsoever, nor gird ourselves with swords;

To honor the Muslims, show them the way, and rise up from our seats if they wish to sit down;

We guarantee all this to you upon ourselves, our descendants, our spouses, and our neighbors, and if we change or contradict these conditions imposed upon ourselves in order to receive safety, we forfeit our dhimma [covenant], and we become liable to the same treatment you inflict upon the people who resist and cause sedition.

To “become liable to the same treatment you inflict upon the people who resist and cause sedition” simply meant that, if any stipulation of the Conditions was broken, the Christians would resume their natural status as non-submitting infidels who “resist and cause sedition” against Islam—becoming, once again, free game for killing or enslavement.

Far from being merely a historical or theoretical text, the Conditions are very much on the minds of some Muslims.  Aside from the new reports that jihadis are enforcing the Conditions—and to a tee—on the Christians of Raqqa, Syria, consider the following words of Saudi Sheikh Marzouk Salem al-Ghamdi, spoken once during a Friday mosque sermon:

If the infidels live among the Muslims, in accordance with the conditions set out by the Prophet—there is nothing wrong with it provided they pay Jizya to the Islamic treasury. Other conditions are . . . that they do not renovate a church or a monastery, do not rebuild ones that were destroyed, that they feed for three days any Muslim who passes by their homes . . . that they rise when a Muslim wishes to sit, that they do not imitate Muslims in dress and speech, nor ride horses, nor own swords, nor arm themselves with any kind of weapon; that they do not sell wine, do not show the cross, do not ring church bells, do not raise their voices during prayer, that they shave their hair in front so as to make them easily identifiable, do not incite anyone against the Muslims, and do not strike a Muslim. . . . If they violate these conditions, they have no protection.

—–

From here, one can understand why all around the Islamic world Christians are under attack—their churches bombed, burned, or simply denied permits to exist or renovate, and their Bibles, crosses, and other symbols of “polytheism” confiscated and/or destroyed; why Christians who openly speak of Christianity are accused of proselytizing or blaspheming—both which can lead to execution; and why Christians are being forced to pay tribute or else convert to Islam or die.

Just the other day in Pakistan, Christians “began the construction of a church on land donated by the Christian Akber Masih, a resident in the area. They built the walls of the building and placed a cross in front of the main gate of the small construction yard.”  But “when a large group of Islamic extremists saw the Christian symbol they arrived unexpectedly with bulldozers and started demolishing the building.”  Although the Christians notified police and authorities, “the perpetrators were not arrested.”  As for the aggrieved Christians, they “have received threats and have to abandon the idea of the project to build a church.”

Thanks to Western intervention in the colonial era, the Conditions largely disappeared—not least because Muslim leaders and elites were themselves westernizing.  But today, as Muslims turn back to their Islamic heritage and its teachings—not least because Western leaders and elites are urging them to, in the name of multiculturalism if not moral relativism, the Conditions are returning; and woe to the Christian minority who dares break them by exercising religious freedom—what I call the “How Dare You?!” phenomenon, which is responsible for the overwhelming majority of Islamic attacks on non-Muslims.

Even so, thanks to the “progressive” dissembling of academia, media, and government—the supposed guardians and disseminators of truth and knowledge—such simple facts about Islam remain a great mystery in the West, to our own detriment.

 

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  • Denise

    The western, or rather the pampered church, is too busy celebrating their pagan holidays and waiting for their rapturous escape to realize that christians and jews throughout the rest of the world are already going through the tribulation. They know that the Antichrist is soon going to appear on the scene and they think that they will be out of here before that happens.
    When this same persecution hits America and these same choices are offered to us it’s going to come as a real shock, one that most are not prepared for. Islam considers America to be the ‘great satan’ and Israel the ‘little satan,’ and to some degree they are right. We have the big satan occupying the Oval Office at this very moment. These are Obama’s own words: “If things should turn in an ugly direction in the Middle East, I will side with the Muslims!” Not the Christians, not America, the Muslims! These words were in Obama’s own books. Obama has been softening the ground in an effort to prepare the way for an Islamic takeover of America.

  • pogee

    Raymond, you are a light unto nations, and a blessing to all who would know the truth.

  • dia61

    Raymond, many thanks for another enlightening, educational. and HONEST article.

    Unfortunately, factual history and honest reporting of current events are often distorted by the economics of petrol dollars.

    Georgetown,
    and folks like John Esposito, have been on the receiving end of
    significant petrol dollars for years. So, like any other business ( and,
    yes, academia is all about the bucks), when the “boss” is attacked,
    the “employee” will come to “his” defense. Georgetown may have a Board,
    but bin Talal runs runs the show. He’s the boss and “The Hoyas” are his
    employees.

    As far as John McCain and his despicable behavior toward the
    Christian delegation? All anyone has to do is to connect the dots and
    the truth becomes apparent.

    A few months ago, there was
    an incident that took place at Lehigh University, which certainly
    brought to light the influence of petrol dollars on US foreign policy
    and academia. Here’s the nickel version of what happened:
    The DOS held a
    multi day “Syria” conference at Lehigh University, in Bethlehem, PA,
    but the discussions were one sided ( very typical). In other words,
    representatives of the indigenous Syrian Christian population (a group
    that would prefer Ba’athist rule over Islamist subjugation ) were not
    invited to participate. Ironically, one of largest immigrant Syrian
    Christian communities, in the United States of America, is located in
    Allentown, PA. ( Bethlehem and Allentown are located right next to each
    other). The last day of the conference was open to public questions and
    answers from the community. So, some representatives of the Syrian
    Christian community decided to attend. The end result wasn’t pretty. At
    the end of the evening, an arrest was made because one of the Syrian
    Christians had become so ENRAGED by the lies, insults, and
    misinformation of the conference participants, that emotion overcame
    him, and he threw one of his shoes at one of the “propaganda” panelists.

    (I would encourage anyone who’s interested in reading more
    about this event to Google the incident). The media often portrays the
    victims as the bad guys, but that wasn’t the case in this situation. The
    Syrian Christians were absolutely shocked and incensed by what they
    heard and witnessed.

    Also, “The Redirection”, by Seymour Hersh (2007), is a must read.

    Also,
    the Ottoman Empire ( which included Syria) abolished the “jizya” in
    1856 because of pressure from the Christian West and from Christian
    Russia.

    Ignorance, stupidity, and greed are very dangerous maladies, and petrol dollars are very enticing.

    It
    takes incredible strength to refuse the bucks, and unfortunately,
    little by little, this Constitutional Republic is being bought.

    Our Founding Fathers must be spinning in their graves.
    What a MESS for all of us.

  • Larry

    Matthew10:16-42

    New American Standard Bible

    “But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes.

    Jesus warned his disciples to prepare for persecution. They were to avoid all things which gave advantage to their enemies, all meddling with worldly or political concerns, all appearance of evil or selfishness, and all underhand measures. Jesus foretold troubles, not only that the troubles might not be a surprise, but that they might confirm their faith. He tells them what they should suffer, and from whom. Thus Jesus has dealt fairly and faithfully with us, in telling us the worst we can meet with in his service; and he would have us deal so with ourselves, in sitting down and counting the cost. Persecutors are worse than beasts, in that they prey upon those of their own kind.

    The strongest bonds of love and duty, have often been broken through from enmity against Jesus. Sufferings from friends and relations are very grievous; nothing cuts more deeper. It appears plainly, that all who will live godly in Jesus must suffer persecution; and we must expect to enter into the Kingdom of God through many tribulations. With these predictions of trouble, are counsels and comforts for a time of trial. The Disciples of Jesus of Nazareth are hated and persecuted as serpents, and
    their ruin is sought, and they need the serpent’s wisdom. Be ye harmless as doves.

    Followers of Jesus of Nazareth do nobody any hurt and they bear nobody any ill-will. Prudent care there must be, but not an anxious, perplexing thought; let this care be cast upon our Creator. The Disciples of Jesus of Nazareth must think more how to do well, than how to speak well. In case of great peril, the Disciples of Jesus may go out of the way of danger, though they must not go out of the way of duty. No sinful, unlawful means may be used to escape; for then it is not a door of our Creator’s opening.

    The fear of man brings a snare, a perplexing snare, that disturbs our peace; an entangling snare, by which we are drawn into sin; and, therefore, it must be striven and prayed against. Tribulation, distress, and persecution cannot take away our Creator’s love to them, or theirs to him. Fear Him, who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. They must deliver their message publicly, for all are deeply concerned in the doctrine of the gospel. The whole counsel of our Creator must be made known, Jesus shows us why we should be of good cheer. Their sufferings witnessed against those who oppose his gospel.
    When our Creator calls us to speak for him, we may depend on him to teach us
    what to say. A believing prospect of the end of our troubles will be of great
    use to support us under them. They may be borne to the end, because the
    sufferers shall be borne up under them. The strength shall be according to the
    day. And it is great encouragement to those who are doing the work of Jesus,
    that it is a work which shall certainly be done. See how the care of Providence extends to all creatures, even to the sparrows. This should silence all the fears of the
    Creator’s people;

    Ye are of more value than many sparrows. And the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

    This denotes the account the Creator takes and keeps of his people. It is our duty, not only to believe in the Word of Jesus, but to profess that faith, in suffering for him, when we are called to it, as well as in serving him.

    Those are best prepared for the life to come, that sit most loose to this present life. Though the kindness done to Jesus’s disciples be ever so small, yet if there be occasion for it, and ability to do no more, it shall be accepted. Jesus does not say that they deserve a reward; for we cannot merit any thing from the hand of our Creator; but they shall receive a reward from the free gift of our Creator. Let us boldly confess Jesus of Nazareth, and show love to him in all things.

    I THANK JESUS FOR MUHAMMAD!

    WITHOUT MUHAMMAD I WOULD NOT KNOW THE ESSENCE OF EVIL!

    WITHOUT MUHAMMAD I WOULD NOT KNOW THE ESSENCE OF HATE!

    WITHOUT MUHAMMAD I WOULD NOT KNOW THE ESSENCE OF DEPRAVITY!

    WITHOUT MUHAMMAD I WOULD NOT KNOW THE ESSENCE OF DARKNESS!

    WITHOUT MUHAMMAD I WOULD NOT KNOW THE ESSENCE OF SENSUALITY!

    WITHOUT MUHAMMAD I WOULD NOT KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A TRUE PROPHET & A FALSE ONE!

    WITHOUT MUHAMMAD I WOULD NOT KNOW THE ESSENCE OF IGNORANCE!

    WITHOUT MUHAMMAD I WOULD NOT HAVE SEEN THE FACE OF HEDONISM.

    WITHOUT MUHAMMAD I WOULD NOT HAVE SEE A DEMON IN HUMAN FORM.

    MUHAMMAD WAS THE MOON!

    JESUS IS THE SUN!

    THE MOON CAN ONLY REFLECT THE LIGHT OF THE SUN!

    THE SUN GIVES LIFE!

    JESUS IS THE TRUTH.

    HE IS THE TRUE PROPHET!

    HIS WORDS GIVE LIFE!

    MUHAMMAD WAS THE LIE!

    MUHAMMAD WAS A FALSE PROPHET!

    HIS WORDS BRING DEATH!

    JESUS IS THE WAY, THE TRUTH & THE LIFE!

    JESUS IS NOT GOD, HE IS FROM GOD!

    JESUS IS THE WAY TO THE LIFE FORCE – THE CREATOR!

    JESUS BRINGS LIFE, EVEN TO THE DEAD!

    MAY THE LIFE FORCE BE WITH YOU!

  • Larry

    I THANK JESUS FOR MUHAMMAD!

    WITHOUT MUHAMMAD I WOULD NOT KNOW THE ESSENCE OF EVIL!

    WITHOUT MUHAMMAD I WOULD NOT KNOW THE ESSENCE OF HATE!

    WITHOUT MUHAMMAD I WOULD NOT KNOW THE ESSENCE OF DEPRAVITY!

    WITHOUT MUHAMMAD I WOULD NOT KNOW THE ESSENCE OF DARKNESS!

    WITHOUT MUHAMMAD I WOULD NOT KNOW THE ESSENCE OF SENSUALITY!

    WITHOUT MUHAMMAD I WOULD NOT KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A TRUE PROPHET & A FALSE ONE!

    WITHOUT MUHAMMAD I WOULD NOT KNOW THE ESSENCE OF IGNORANCE!

    WITHOUT MUHAMMAD I WOULD NOT HAVE SEEN THE FACE OF HEDONISM.

    WITHOUT MUHAMMAD I WOULD NOT HAVE SEE A DEMON IN HUMAN FORM.

    MUHAMMAD WAS THE MOON!

    JESUS IS THE SUN!

    THE MOON CAN ONLY REFLECT THE LIGHT OF THE SUN!

    THE SUN GIVES LIFE!

    JESUS IS THE TRUTH.

    HE IS THE TRUE PROPHET!

    HIS WORDS GIVE LIFE!

    MUHAMMAD WAS THE LIE!

    MUHAMMAD WAS A FALSE PROPHET!

    HIS WORDS BRING DEATH!

    JESUS IS THE WAY, THE TRUTH & THE LIFE!

    JESUS IS NOT GOD, HE IS FROM GOD!

    JESUS IS THE WAY TO THE LIFE FORCE – THE CREATOR!

    JESUS BRINGS LIFE, EVEN TO THE DEAD!

    MAY THE LIFE FORCE BE WITH YOU!

  • 44fourty

    It is time to stop calling these Muslims “Extremists” as that is not quite true, a better word would be ” Traditional ‘, ‘Orthodox’, as extremists makes it sound like a loonie fringe rather than main stream Islam. Moderate Muslims are more like “reformist” Muslims.

    • andrew sapia

      totally agree, orthodox Muslims would be a better and more accurate choice of words. In fact, those same orthodox Muslims consider most westernized Muslims to be heretics or apostates, and they are. The only good Muslim is a bad Muslim. The good Muslims are the ones that will kill you the bad one do not take the Koran and the traditions seriously and so won’t kill you.

  • Lea

    It is rather odd that the West and even Christians are so undereducated to the true face of Islam. Blame lies with Christians for trying to pretend that by ignoring Islam it will go away. Furthermore, many Christians are deceived by the teaching that Islam is an Abrahamic religion which is definitely is not. Ishmael was born to Abram and he was not born as a result of a miracle as the seed of the promise of the redemption of humanity in Jesus Christ. Ishmael was not mandated to utter even one word in the name of the God of Israel. We can know the difference between a false prophet and a true prophet just by comparing the sinful psychopath of islam with the divine Son of God, Jesus Christ, anyone with a pea brain could discern that Islam is a pagan cult, a mimicry and mockery of the Jews and the Christians.

    • andrew sapia

      not only that Muhammad himself denies being a descendant of Ishmael and says that he can only trace back his lineage x amount of generations and anyone that says he descends from Ishmael is a liar.

      • Lea

        Interesting, so he is not even a descendant of a biblical figure at all then, so what is supposed to make islam an Abrahamic religion. I thought this was the whole premise for it.

        • andrew sapia

          it was later Islamic scholars that tried to link Muhammad to Ishmael despite Muhammad’s own denial. Everything about Islam is lies and more lies and propaganda. It is amazing that today in the west there is total ignorance or deliberate deception as to the true nature of Islam. This was not so in the past. Churchill compared Islam in a man to rabies in a dog. For most of Europe’s history it was common knowledge to be wary of Islam. I think part of it is that the first immigrants to Europe from Morocco and other parts of the Islamic world were nominal Muslims who appreciated their new lives in Europe but their children grew up in a limbo of sorts, not truly European and yet not Moroccan or Turkish either. Turning back to discover their roots they discover that what Islam teaches if you are orthodox is that all non-Muslims are inferior and it is the duty of Muslims to subjugate non-Muslims. The fact is that when Muslims reach a certain percentage they will always become belligerent and make unreasonable demands on their host populations. It is a demonstrable fact of history.

  • Pray Hard

    Willful ignorance of the clear and present danger of Islam is no longer acceptable. The information is out there so “ignorance” is a lie. These “ignorant” will be the same people screaming through their own blood to be saved from the Muslim scourge. With our own CIA director being a Muslim convert, America is in grave danger. Next election, vote the vermin out.

  • Diogenesusa

    Raymond has been a cry in the wilderness. Warning a sleeping Christian Church. Christian, Jew, or Muslim, or unbeliever, but any thinking person cannot sit on the fence when the obvious dangers promoted by Islam are so blatant. A recently published book on Amazon.com, or Barnes&Noble.com gives a simple, yet in-depth understanding of true biblical Christianity. and how it differs from Islam.
    Allah of the Qur’an and the God of the Bible “Are They the Same?”
    The “Pact of Omar” gives insight of what would be in store for the western societies if we are foolish enough not to take a stand against this subversion of free will.
    America’s next election will certainly be the litmus test of just how blind Americans are.