Thursday, November 03, 2005

Why Islam Didn't Conquer the World

Last Sunday, our local paper, the Fredericksburg Freelance-Star, ran an editorial by Paul Akers discussing the Battle of Tours in 732. This was a battle in which a Christian army under Charles "The Hammer" Martel defeated a numerically superior Muslim army invading Europe. Conventional wisdom has it that if the Muslims had won, we'd all be Muslims today.

Naturally, the article touched off a storm of letters expressing outrage over this "defamation" of Islam. Of course, I felt compelled to respond in this letter which I hope will be published:

I read with interest the flurry of letters in response to Paul Akers' piece, "Why Islam Didn't Conquer the World". Predictably, the majority of those letters expressed varying degrees of outrage at this latest "defamation" of Islam.

A few of the letters are quick to mention that in lands conquered by Islam, Christians and Jews were allowed to live under the protection of the Islamic state and the state even "tolerated their religious practices". While this is more than can be said of some of the civilizations taken by Christian conquerors, it only tells half the story.

The rest of the story is that these non-Muslims were considered "dhimmi", meaning that while they were under the protection of the Islamic state, they remained non-Muslims and considered less than equal to Muslims. Furthermore, they were only protected for as long as they paid the "jizyah", a tax levied on non-Muslims who agreed to subservience in exchange for a degree of tolerance.

In just the past week or two, we've seen three Christian schoolgirls beheaded by Islamic paramilitary death squads in Indonesia, Muslim mobs storming and burning a Christian church in Egypt, and the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran calling for Israel to be "wiped off the map". There have been Muslims rioting in Denmark and France, and Muslim attacks on non-Muslims in southern Thailand. There's been no Muslim outrage over these events, yet there's plenty of seething over Mr. Akers' article.

It will be up to moderate Muslims to rein in the militant practitioners of the religion, and prove to the rest of the world that Islam is the tolerant “Religion of Peace” the PC pundits say it is.

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