Dhimmitude – Zorastrians in Iran

 

Boyce, A Persian Stronghold of Zoroastrianism, pp. 7-8; Napier Malcolm lived among the Zoroastrians in the central Iranian town of Yezd at the end of the 19th century. He documented the following in his narrative, Five Years in a Persian Town, New York, 1905, pp. 45-50:

 

Up to 1895 no Parsi (Zoroastrian) was allowed to carry an umbrella. Even during the time that I was in Yezd they could not carry one in town. Up to 1895 there was a strong prohibition upon eye-glasses and spectacles; up to 1885 they were prevented from wearing rings; their girdles had to be made of rough canvas, but after 1885 any white material was permitted. Up to 1896 the Parsis were obliged to twist their turbans instead of folding them. Up to 1898 only brown, grey, and yellow were allowed for the qaba [outer coat] or arkhaluq [under coat] (body garments), but after that all colours were permitted except blue, black, bright red, or green. There was also a prohibition against white stockings, and up to about 1880 the Parsis had to wear a special kind of peculiarly hideous shoe with a broad, turned-up toe. Up to 1885 they had to wear a torn cap. Up to 1880 they had to wear tight knickers, self-coloured, instead of trousers. Up to 1891 all Zoroastrians had to walk in town, and even in the desert they had to dismount if they met a Mussulman of any rank whatsoever. During the time that I was in Yezd they were allowed to ride in the desert, and only had to dismount if they met a big Mussulman. There were other similar dress restrictions too numerous and trifling to mention.

 

Then the houses of both the Parsis and the Jews, with the surrounding walls, had to be built so low that the top could be reached by a Mussulman with his hand extended; they might, however, dig down below the level of the road. The walls had to be splashed with white around the door. Double doors, the common form of Persian door, were forbidden, also rooms containing three or more windows. Bad-girs [Air-shafts] were still forbidden to Parsis while we were in Yezd, but in 1900 one of the bigger Parsi merchants gave a large present to the Governor and to the chief mujtahid (Mohammedan priest) to be allowed to build one. Upper rooms were also forbidden.

 

Up to about 1860 Parsis could not engage in trade. They used to hide things in their cellar rooms, and sell them secretly. They can now trade in the caravanserais or hostelries, but not in the bazaars, nor may they trade in linen drapery. Up to 1870 they were not permitted to have a school for their children.

 

The amount of the Jizya, or tax upon infidels, differed according to the wealth of the individual Parsi, but it was never less than two tomans [a sum of money, 10,000 dinars]. A toman is now worth about three shillings and eight pence, but it used to be worth much more. Even now, when money has much depreciated, it represents a labourer’s wage for ten days. The money must be paid on the spot, when the farrash [literally, a carpet sweeper. Really a servant, chiefly, outdoor], who was acting as collector, met the man. The farrash was at liberty to do what he liked when collecting the jizya. The man was not even allowed to go home and fetch the money, but was beaten at once until it was given. About 1865 a farrash collecting this tax tied a man to a dog, and gave a blow to each in turn.

 

About 1891 a mujtahid caught a Zoroastrian merchant wearing white stockings in one of the public squares of the town. He ordered the man to be beaten and the stockings taken off. About 1860 a man of seventy went to the bazaars in white trousers of rough canvas. They hit him about a good deal, took off his trousers, and sent him home with them under his arm. Sometimes Parsis would be made to stand on one leg in a mujtahid’s house until they consented to pay a considerable sum of money.

 

In the reign of the late Shah Nasirud Din, Manukji Limji, a British Parsi from India, was for a long while in Tehran as Parsi representative. Almost all the Parsi disabilities were withdrawn, the Jizya, the clothes restrictions, and those with regard to houses, but the law of inheritance was not altered, according to which a Parsi who becomes a Mussulman takes precedence of his Zoroastrian brothers and sisters. The Jizya was actually remitted, and also some of the restrictions as to houses, but the rest of the firman was a dead letter.

 

In 1898 the present Shah, Muzaffarud Din, gave a firman to Dinyar, the present Qalantar [Head Man] of the Parsi Anjuman, or Committee, revoking all the remaining Parsi disabilities, and also declaring it unlawful to use fraud or deception in making conversions of Parsis to Islam. This firman does not appear to have had any effect at all.

 

About 1883, after the firman of Nasirud Din Shah had been promulgated, one of the Parsis, Rustami Ardishiri Dinyar, built in Kucha Biyuk, one of the villages near Yezd, a house with an upper room, slightly above the height to which the Parsis used to be limited. He heard that the Mussulmans were going to kill him, so he fled by night to Tehran. They killed another Parsi, Tirandaz, in mistake for him, but did not destroy the house.



 

So the great difficulty was not to get the law improved, but rather to get it enforced. When Manukji [British Parsi and consul in Tehran] was at Yezd, about 1870, two Parsis were attacked by two Mussulmans outside the town, and one was killed, the other terribly wounded as they had tried to cut off his head. The Governor brought the criminals to Yezd, but did nothing to them. Manukji got leave to take them to Tehran. The Prime Minister, however, told him that no Mussulman would be killed for a Zardushti, or Zoroastrian, and that they would only be bastinadoed. About this time Manukji enquired whether it was true that the blood-price of a Zardushti was to be seven tomans. He got back the reply that it was to be a little over.

 

The Yezd Parsis have been helped considerably by agents from Bombay, who are British subjects, and of late years things have improved slightly.

 

F. Jihad in the Modern Era

 

Following its defeat at the walls of Vienna in 1683, Islam entered a period of strategic decline in which it was increasingly dominated by the rising European colonial powers. Due to its material weakness vis-à-vis the West, dar al-Islam was unable to prosecute large-scale military campaigns into infidel territory. The Islamic Empire, then ruled by the Ottoman Turks, was reduced to fending of the increasingly predatory European powers.

 

In 1856, Western pressure compelled the Ottoman government to suspend the dhimma under which the Empire's non-Muslim subjects laboured. This provided hitherto unknown opportunities for social and personal improvement by the former dhimmis, but it also fomented resentment by orthodox Muslims who saw this as a violation of the Sharia and their Allah-given superiority over unbelievers.

 

By the late 19th century, tensions among the European subjects of the Empire broke out into the open when the Ottoman government massacred 30,000 Bulgarians in 1876 for allegedly rebelling against Ottoman rule. Following Western intervention that resulted in Bulgarian independence, the Ottoman government and its Muslim subjects were increasingly nervous about other non-Muslim groups seeking independence.

 

It was in this atmosphere that the first stage of the Armenian genocide took place in 1896 with the slaughter of some 250,000 Armenians. Both civilians and military personnel took place in the massacres. Peter Balakian, in his book, The Burning Tigris, documents the whole horrific story. But the massacres of the 1890s were only the prelude to the much larger holocaust of 1915, which claimed some 1.5 million lives. While various factors contributed to the slaughter, there is no mistaking that the massacres were nothing other than a jihad waged against the Armenians, no longer protected as they were by the dhimma. In 1914, as the Ottoman Empire entered World War I on the side of the central powers, an official anti-Christian jihad was proclaimed.

 

 

To promote the idea of jihad, the sheikh-ul-Islam’s {the most senior religious leader in the Ottoman Empire} published proclamation summoned the Muslim world to arise and massacre its Christian oppressors. “Oh Moslems,” the document read, “Ye who are smitten with happiness and are on the verge of sacrificing your life and your good for the cause of right, and of braving perils, gather now around the Imperial throne.” In the Ikdam, the Turkish newspaper that had just passed into German ownership, the idea of jihad was underscored: “The deeds of our enemies have brought down the wrath of God. A gleam of hope has appeared. All Mohammedans, young and old, men, women, and children must fulfil their duty. … If we do it, the deliverance of the subjected Mohammedan kingdoms is assured.” … “He who kills even one unbeliever,” one pamphlet read, “of those who rule over us, whether he does it secretly or openly, shall be rewarded by God.” (quoted in Balakian, The Burning Tigris, 169-70.)

 

 

The anti-Christian jihad culminated in 1922 at Smyrna, on the Mediterranean coast, where 150,000 Greek Christians were massacred by the Turkish army under the indifferent eye of Allied warships. All in, from 1896-1923, some 2.5 million Christians were killed, the first modern genocide, which to this day is denied by the Turkish government.

 

Since the break-up of the Islamic Empire following World War I, various jihads have been fought around the globe by the independent Muslim nations and sub-state jihadist groups. The most sustained effort has been directed against Israel, which has committed the unpardonable sin of rebuilding dar al-harb on land formerly a part of dar al-Islam. Other prominent jihads include that fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan, the Muslim Bosnians against the Serbs in the former Yugoslavia, the Muslim Albanians against the Serbs in Kosovo, and the Chechens against the Russians in the Caucasus. Jihads have also been waged throughout northern Africa, the Philippines, Thailand, Kashmir, and a host of other places throughout the world. In addition, the overwhelming majority of terrorist attacks around the world have been committed by Muslims, including, of course, the spectacular attacks of 9/11/01 (USA), 3/11/04 (Spain), and 7/7/05 (UK). (For a more comprehensive list of Muslim attacks, visit www.thereligionofpeace.com.)

 

The fact is, the percentage of conflicts in the world today that do not include Islam is pretty small. Islam is making a comeback.

 

Conclusion

 

The chief barrier today to a better understanding of Islam -- apart, perhaps, from outright fear -- is sloppy language. Let us take, to start with, the much-vaunted "war on terror." Upon scrutiny, the phrase "war on terror" makes as much sense as a war on "blitzkrieg," "bullets," or "strategic bombing." The "war on terror" implies that it is perfectly fine if the enemy seeks to destroy us -- and, indeed, succeeds in doing so -- as long as he does not employ "terror" in the process.

 

"Terrorism," it should be obvious, is a tactic or stratagem used to advance a goal; it is the goal of Islamic terrorism that we must come to understand, and this logically requires an understanding of Islam.

 

As we have seen, contrary to the widespread insistence that true Islam is pacific even if a handful of its adherents are violent, the Islamic sources make clear that engaging in violence against non-Muslims is a central and indispensable principle to Islam. Islam is less a personal faith than a political ideology that exists in a fundamental and permanent state of war with non-Islamic civilisations, cultures, and individuals. The Islamic holy texts outline a social, governmental, and economic system for all mankind. Those cultures and individuals who do not submit to Islamic governance exist in an ipso facto state of rebellion with Allah and must be forcibly brought into submission. The misbegotten term "Islamo-fascism" is wholly redundant: Islam itself is a kind of fascism that achieves its full and proper form only when it assumes the powers of the state.

 

The spectacular acts of Islamic terrorism in the late 20th and early 21st centuries are but the most recent manifestation of a global war of conquest that Islam has been waging since the days of the Prophet Muhammad in the 7th Century AD and that continues apace today. This is the simple, glaring truth that is staring the world today in the face -- and which has stared it in the face numerous times in the past -- but which it seems few today are willing to contemplate.

 

It is important to realise that we have been talking about Islam -- not Islamic "fundamentalism," "extremism," "fanaticism," "Islamo-fascism," or "Islamism," but Islam proper, Islam in its orthodox form as it has been understood and practiced by right-believing Muslims from the time of Muhammad to the present. The mounting episodes of Islamic terrorism in the late 20th and early 21st centuries are due largely to the geo-strategic changes following the end of the Cold War and the growing technical options available to terrorists.

 

With the collapse of Soviet hegemony over much of the Muslim world, coupled with the burgeoning wealth of the Muslim oil-producing countries, the Muslim world increasingly possesses the freedom and means to support jihad around the globe. In short, the reason that Muslims are once again waging war against the non-Muslim world is because they can.

 

It is paramount to note, however, that, even if no major terrorist attack ever occurs on Western soil again, Islam still poses a mortal danger to the West. A halt to terrorism would simply mean a change in Islam’s tactics -- perhaps indicating a longer-term approach that would allow Muslim immigration and higher birth rates to bring Islam closer to victory before the next round of violence. It cannot be overemphasised that Muslim terrorism is a symptom of Islam that may increase or decrease in intensity while Islam proper remains permanently hostile.

 

 

Muhammad Taqi Partovi Samzevari, in his “Future of the Islamic Movement” (1986), sums up the Islamic worldview.

 

 

Our own Prophet … was a general, a statesman, an administrator, an economist, a jurist and a first-class manager all in one. … In the Qur’an’s historic vision Allah’s support and the revolutionary struggle of the people must come together, so that Satanic rulers are brought down and put to death. A people that is not prepared to kill and to die in order to create a just society cannot expect any support from Allah. The Almighty has promised us that the day will come when the whole of mankind will live united under the banner of Islam, when the sign of the Crescent, the symbol of Muhammad, will be supreme everywhere. … But that day must be hastened through our Jihad, through our readiness to offer our lives and to shed the unclean blood of those who do not see the light brought from the Heavens by Muhammad in his mi’raj {“nocturnal voyages to the ‘court’ of Allah”}. … It is Allah who puts the gun in our hand. But we cannot expect Him to pull the trigger as well simply because we are faint-hearted.

 

 

It must be emphasised that all of the analysis provided here derives from the Islamic sources themselves and is not the product of critical Western scholarship. (Indeed, most modern Western scholarship of Islam is hardly “critical” in any meaningful sense.) It is Islam’s self-interpretation that necessitates and glorifies violence, not any foreign interpretation of it.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

There are a handful of questions that invariably arise when the point is made that Islam is violent. These questions for the most part are misleading or irrelevant and do not contest the actual evidence or arguments that violence is inherent to Islam. Nonetheless, they have proven rhetorically effective in deflecting serious scrutiny from Islam, and so I deal with some of them here.

 

A. What about the Crusades?

 

The obvious response to this question is, "Well, what about them?" Violence committed in the name of other religions is logically unconnected to the question of whether Islam is violent. But, by mentioning the Crusades, the hope of the Islamic apologist is to draw attention away from Islamic violence and paint religions in general as morally equivalent.

 

In both the Western academia and media as well as in the Islamic world, the Crusades are viewed as wars of aggression fought by bloody-minded Christians against peaceful Muslims. While the Crusades were certainly bloody, they are more accurately understood as a belated Western response to centuries of jihad than as an unprovoked, unilateral attack. Muslim rule in the Holy Land began in the second half of the 7th century during the Arab wave of jihad with the conquests of Damascus and Jerusalem by the second "rightly-guided Caliph," Umar. After the initial bloody jihad, Christian and Jewish life there was tolerated within the strictures of the dhimma and the Muslim Arabs generally permitted Christians abroad to continue to make pilgrimage to their holy sites, a practice which proved lucrative for the Muslim state. In the 11th century, the relatively benign Arab administration of the Holy Land was replaced with that of Seljuk Turks, due to civil war in the Islamic Empire. Throughout the latter half of the 11th century, the Turks waged war against the Christian Byzantine Empire and pushed it back from its strongholds in Antioch and Anatolia (now Turkey). In 1071, Byzantine forces suffered a crushing defeat at the Battle of Manzikert in what is now Eastern Turkey. The Turks resumed the jihad in the Holy Land, abusing, robbing, enslaving, and killing Christians there and throughout Asia Minor. They threatened to cut off Christendom from its holiest site, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, rebuilt under Byzantine stewardship after it was destroyed by Caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah in 1009.

 

It was in this context of a renewed jihad in the Middle East that the Roman Pope, Urban II, issued a call in 1095 for Western Christians to come to the aid of their Eastern cousins (and seems to have harbored the hope of claiming Jerusalem for the Papacy after the Great Schism with Eastern Christianity in 1054). This "armed pilgrimage," in which numerous civilians as well as soldiers took part, would eventually become known years later as the First Crusade. The idea of a "crusade" as we now understand that term, i.e., a Christian "holy war," developed years later with the rise of such organisations as the Knights Templar that made "crusading" a way of life. It worth noting that the most ardent Crusaders, the Franks, were exactly those who had faced jihad and razzias for centuries along the Franco-Spanish border and knew better than most the horrors to which Muslims subjected Christians. At the time of the First Crusade, the populations of Asia Minor, Syria, and Palestine, though ruled by Muslims, were still overwhelmingly Christian. The "Crusading" campaigns of the Western Christian armies were justified at the time as a war liberating the Eastern Christians, whose population, lands, and culture had been devastated by centuries of jihad and dhimmitude. Conquering territory for God in the mode of jihad was an alien idea to Christianity and it should not be surprising that it eventually died out in the West and never gained ascendancy in the East.

 

Following the very bloody capture of Jerusalem in 1099 by the Latin armies and the establishment of the Crusader States in Edessa, Antioch, and Jerusalem, the Muslim and Christian forces fought a see-saw series of wars, in which both parties were guilty of the usual gamut of wartime immorality. Over time, even with reinforcing Crusades waged from Europe, the Crusader States, strung out on precarious lines of communication, slowly succumbed to superior Muslim power. In 1271, the last Christian citadel, Antioch, fell to the Muslims. No longer having to divert forces to subdue the Christian beachhead on the Eastern Mediterranean, the Muslims regrouped for a 400-year-long jihad against Southern and Eastern Europe, which twice reached as far as Vienna before it was halted. In geo-strategic terms, the Crusades can be viewed as an attempt by the West to forestall its own destruction at the hands of Islamic jihad by carrying the fight to the enemy. It worked for a while.

 

Significantly, while the West has for some time now lamented the Crusades as mistaken, there has never been any mention from any serious Islamic authority of regret for the centuries and centuries of jihad and dhimmitude perpetrated against other societies. But this is hardly surprising: while religious violence contradicts the fundamentals of Christianity, religious violence is written into Islam's DNA.

 









Последнее изменение этой страницы: 2016-04-07; Нарушение авторского права страницы

infopedia.su не принадлежат авторские права, размещенных материалов. Все права принадлежать их авторам. Обратная связь