ISIL Has Caliphate Dreams: The Eternal Muslim Ideal

The jihad terror organization Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) formally declared a “re-creation” of Islam’s traditional solidary religio-political entity, the “Caliphate” in a pronouncement issued June 29, 2014.

Here the flag of the Islamic State, the flag of tawhīd (monotheism), rises and flutters. Its shade covers land from Aleppo to Diyala.

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“State of the Islamic Caliphate” inscribed at the top of the alleged new “Caliphate” passport. At the bottom, it states: “[If] holder of the passport [is] harmed, we will deploy armies for his service.”

ISIL’s rhetoric extolled its triumph over all infidels, with a particular emphasis on non-Muslims, and the attempted imposition of the totalitarian Sharia, in all its liberty-crushing, and dehumanizing barbarity. The jihad terror organization also claimed ISIL’s rule was restoring not only Sharia-mandated Islamic “justice” (for example, the destruction of Christian crosses, and extraction of the humiliating jizya, per Koran 9:29), but also local “stability,” and Islamic pride.

The Muslims are honored. The kuffār (infidels) are disgraced. Ahlus-Sunnah (the Sunnis) are masters and are esteemed. The people of bid’ah (heresy) are humiliated. The hudūd (Sharia penalties) are implemented – the hudūd of Allah – all of them. The frontlines are defended. Crosses and graves are demolished.

The people in the lands of the State move about for their livelihood and journeys, feeling safe regarding their lives and wealth. Wulāt (plural of wālī or “governors”) and judges have been appointed. Jizyah (a tax imposed on kuffār) has been enforced. Fay’ (money taken from the kuffār without battle) and zakat (obligatory alms) have been collected. Courts have been established to resolve disputes and complaints. Evil has been removed. Lessons and classes have been held in the masājid (plural of masjid) and, by the grace of Allah, the religion has become completely for Allah. There only remained one matter, a wājib kifā’ī (collective obligation) that the ummah sins by abandoning. It is a forgotten obligation. The ummah has not tasted honor since they lost it. It is a dream that lives in the depths of every Muslim believer. It is a hope that flutters in the heart of every mujāhid muwahhid (monotheist). It is the khilāfah (caliphate). It is the khilāfah – the abandoned obligation of the era.

Despite subsequent dissatisfaction with ISIL, and its newly minted “Caliphate”—already emerging just 3-weeks after the regular Iraqi army and police forces of the al-Maliki central government were crushed, or fled—in the immediate aftermath of the Sunni takeover, 81.5% of Mosul’s predominantly Sunni residents felt more secure after the Sunni insurgents seized control of the city.

Hollow proclamations have followed suit from Muslim leaders claiming ISIL’s Caliphate “vision” somehow distorted this idyllic historical Islamic institution. Sheikh Khaldoun Oraymet, secretary-general of Lebanon’s Supreme Islamic Council opined,

What ISIL is doing is in complete contradiction of the principles of the Islamic caliphate: a righteous caliphate which preserves the rights of all people, and respects all people and the opinions of others who are of different faiths, race, time and place.

Even the Jordanian jihad ideologist Issam Barqawi, known as Abu Mohammed al-Maqdessi, claimed on jihadist websites, that ISIL’s leaders evidenced, “no manners,” voicing his main concern,  “What would the fate be of other Islamist fighters in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere?”, before adding the obligatory disclaimer,  that ISIL was “distorting religion.” Previously, ahistorical drivel from the Western Muslim “advocacy” group the Muslim Association of Britain, lionized both the Caliphate, and the corollary implementation of Sharia, as promulgators of “a peaceful and just society.” Moreover, Egypt’s current President al-Sisi—recently elected in a landslide victory—extolled the Caliphate in his 2006 U.S. Army War College “mini-thesis” as “the ideal form of government,” broadly

…recognized as the goal for any new form of government very much in the manner that the U.S. pursued the ideals of “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.” From the Middle Eastern perspective, the defining words governing their form of democracy [emphasis added] would likely reflect “fairness, justice, equality, unity and charity.”

Such warped apologetics are reminiscent of the equivalent protestations made to advance destructive Communist totalitarianism, “Communists, what have you made of communism?”

The prototypical Caliphate under Umar Ibn al-Khattab (d. 644), the second “rightly guided” caliph of Islam, merits summary examination. During his reign, which lasted for a decade (634-644), Syria, Iraq and Egypt were conquered, and Umar was thus responsible for organizing the early Islamic Caliphate. Alfred von Kremer, the great 19th century German scholar of Islam, described the “central idea” of Umar’s regime, as being the furtherance of “…the religious-military development of Islam at the expense of the conquered nations.” The predictable and historically verifiable consequence of this guiding principle was a legacy of harsh inequality, intolerance, and injustice towards non-Muslims observed by von Kremer in 1868 (and still evident in Islamic societies to this day, nearly 150 years later):

It was the basis of its severe directives regarding Christians and those of other faiths, that they be reduced to the status of pariahs, forbidden from having anything in common with the ruling nation; it was even the basis for his decision to purify the Arabian Peninsula of the unbelievers, when he presented all the inhabitants of the peninsula who had not yet accepted Islam with the choice: to emigrate or deny the religion of their ancestors. The industrious and wealthy Christians of Najran, who maintained their Christian faith, emigrated as a result of this decision from the peninsula, to the land of the Euphrates, and ‘Umar also deported the Jews of Khaybar. In this way ‘Umar based that fanatical and intolerant approach that was an essential characteristic of Islam, now extant for over a thousand years, until this day [i.e., written in 1868]. It was this spirit, a severe and steely one, that incorporated scorn and contempt for the non-Muslims, that was characteristic of ‘Umar, and instilled by ‘Umar into Islam; this spirit continued for many centuries, to be Islam’s driving force and vital principle….With a strong hand, he held the reins of spiritual and worldly power, commanded with unlimited full authority over the political and religious activities of  Muslims, already many millions in number. Under him, the conquest of Syria was completed, Iraq and Persia were conquered as far as the Oxus and the borders of Hindustan, while in the west, Egypt obeyed him…

The jihad campaigns waged in the era of Umar’s Caliphate, consistent with nascent Islamic Law (Sharia), spared neither cities nor monasteries if they resisted. Accordingly, when the Greek garrison of Gaza refused to submit and convert to Islam, all were put to death. In the year 640, sixty Greek soldiers who refused to apostatize became martyrs, while in the same year (i.e., 638) that Caesarea, Tripolis and Tyre fell to the Muslims, hundreds of thousands of Christians converted to Islam, predominantly out of fear.

Muslim and non-Muslim sources record that Umar’s soldiers were allowed to break crosses on the heads of Christians during processions and religious litanies, and were permitted, if not encouraged, to tear down newly erected churches and to punish Christians for trivial reasons. Moreover, Umar forbade the employment of Christians in public offices.

The false claims of Islamic toleration during this prototype “rightly guided” Caliphate cannot be substantiated even by relying on the (apocryphal?) “pact” of Umar (Ibn al-Khattab) because this putative decree compelled the Christians (and other non-Muslims) to fulfill self-destructive obligations, including: the prohibition on erecting any new churches, monasteries, or hermitages; and not being allowed to repair any ecclesiastical institutions that fell into ruin, nor to rebuild those that were situated in the Muslim quarters of a town. Muslim traditionists and early historians (such as al-Baladhuri) further maintain that Umar expelled the Jews of the Khaybar oasis, and similarly deported Christians (from Najran) who refused to apostatize and embrace Islam, fulfilling the death bed admonition of Muhammad who purportedly stated: “there shall not remain two religions in the land of Arabia.”

Umar imposed limitations upon the non-Muslims aimed at their ultimate destruction by attrition, and he introduced fanatical elements into Islamic culture that became characteristic of the Caliphates which succeeded his. For example, according to the chronicle of the Muslim historian Ibn al-Atham (d. 926-27), under the brief Caliphate of Ali b. Abi Talib (656-61), when one group of apostates in Yemen (Sanaa) adopted Judaism after becoming Muslims, “He [Ali] killed them and burned them with fire after the killing.” Indeed, the complete absence of freedom of conscience in these early Islamic Caliphates—while entirely consistent with mid-7th century mores—has remained a constant, ignominious legacy throughout Islamic history, to this day.

The essential pattern of the jihad wars which created Islam’s “rightly guided Caliphates” is captured in the classical Muslim historian al-Tabari’s recording of the recommendation given by Umar b. al-Khattab to the commander of the troops he sent to al- Basrah (636 C.E.), during the conquest of Iraq. Umar reportedly said:

Summon the people to God; those who respond to your call, accept it from them, but those who refuse must pay the poll tax out of humiliation and lowliness. (Koran 9:29) If they refuse this, it is the sword without leniency. Fear God with regard to what you have been entrusted.

By the time of al-Tabari’s death in 923, jihad wars had expanded the Muslim empire from Portugal to the Indian subcontinent. Subsequent Muslim conquests continued in Asia, as well as Eastern Europe. Under the banner of jihad, the Christian kingdoms of Armenia, Georgia, Byzantium, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Croatia, and Albania, in addition to parts of Poland and Hungary, were also conquered and Islamized by waves of Seljuk, or later Ottoman Turks, as well as Tatars, and Safavid Shiite Iranians. Arab Muslim invaders engaged, additionally, in continuous jihad raids that ravaged and enslaved Sub-Saharan African animist populations, extending to the southern Sudan. When the Ottoman Muslim armies were stopped at the gates of Vienna in 1683, over a millennium of jihad had transpired. These tremendous military successes spawned a triumphant jihad literature. Muslim historians recorded in detail the number of infidels slaughtered, or enslaved and deported, the cities, villages, and infidel religious sites which were sacked and pillaged, and the lands, treasure, and movable goods seized.

This sanctioned, but wanton destruction resulted, specifically in: the merciless slaughter of non-combatants, including women and children; massive destruction of non-Muslim houses of worship and religious shrines—Christian churches, Jewish synagogues, and Zoroastrian, Hindu, and Buddhist temples and idols; and the burning of harvest crops and massive uprooting of agricultural production systems, leading to famine. Christian (Coptic, Armenian, Jacobite, Greek, Slav, etc.), as well as Hebrew sources, and even the scant Zoroastrian, Hindu and Buddhist writings which survived the ravages of the Muslim conquests, independently validate this narrative, and complement the Muslim perspective by providing testimonies of the suffering of the non-Muslim victims of jihad wars.

The forcible retreat of Islamic jihadism, beginning with the Ottoman repulsion at Vienna in 1683, was acutely evident in the aftermath of the Russo-Turkish War of 1876-1878.

Already by 1882, however, Ignaz Goldziher, widely acclaimed as one of the most profound and original European Islamic scholars from an era that produced seminal investigators, observed astutely, that the “Muhammadan world,” was responding to these historical setbacks, “excited by a powerful idea.” What was this mighty, revitalizing inspiration? The re-establishment of Islam’s Caliphate system, “The spiritual fusion of politically dis­arrayed Islam into a great unity.”  Goldziher continued,

The external form of this unity is the insti­tution of the indivisible Caliphate, which is the oldest political structure of Islam. . . . With regard to Islam, the unification of Muhammadan powers, and the awakening of the awareness of their unity and solidarity under a common authority is seen as the sole remedy against the dangers lurking in the womb of the future. And this unification is only conceived under the flag of the united Caliphate of Islam. . .

 

And Goldziher concluded—over 130 years ago:

[T]he idea of Panislamism is a militant idea in their [Muslim] eyes, as it was a militant idea at the time of the birth of young Islam. This idea now reigns over Muhammadan public opinion, in some places with such power that the representatives of European governments now complain of it.

Writing in 1916, C. Snouck Hurgronje, the great Dutch Orientalist, confirmed how the jihad doctrine of world conquest, and the re-creation of a supranational Islamic Caliphate remained a potent force among the Muslim masses:

..it would be a gross mistake to imagine that the idea of universal conquest may be considered as obliterated...the canonists and the vulgar still live in the illusion of the days of Islam's greatness. The legists continue to ground their appreciation of every actual political condition on the law of the holy war, which war ought never be allowed to cease entirely until all mankind is reduced to the authority of Islam-the heathen by conversion, the adherents of acknowledged Scripture [i.e., Jews and Christians] by submission.

Hurgronje further noted that although the Muslim rank and file might acknowledge the improbability of that goal “at present” (circa 1916), they were,

...comforted and encouraged by the recollection of the lengthy period of humiliation that the Prophet himself had to suffer before Allah bestowed victory upon his arms...

Thus even at the nadir of Islam’s political power, during the World War I era final disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, Hurgronje observed how

...the common people are willingly taught by the canonists and feed their hope of better days upon the innumerable legends of the olden time and the equally innumerable apocalyptic prophecies about the future. The political blows that fall upon Islam make less impression...than the senseless stories about the power of the Sultan of Stambul [Istanbul], that would instantly be revealed if he were not surrounded by treacherous servants, and the fantastic tidings of the miracles that Allah works in the Holy Cities of Arabia which are inaccessible to the unfaithful. The conception of the Khalifate [Caliphate] still exercises a fascinating influence, regarded in the light of a central point of union against the unfaithful (i.e., non-Muslims). [emphasis added]

 

Eight years later, in 1924, an article that appeared in the Calcutta Guardian linked the Pan-Islamic Indian Khilafat (Caliphate) Movement to trends that developed, and intensified immediately following the Russo-Turkish War, five decades prior to the eventual advent of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in 1928, and geographically far removed from the latter movement.

 

The Islamic World was aroused to the fact that the area of Islamic independence was steadily narrowing”, and the Qur’anic theory that Islam should dominate over every other religion was giving way to the contrary system. It was felt that the only Muslim power which could deal with those of Europe as an equal was Turkey; and pan-Islamism everywhere inculcated the doctrine that Turkey should be strengthened and supported. The Sultan was urged to advance through Persia into India and make common cause with the Sudanese Mehdi, and restore Egypt to an Islamic Sovereign.

 

Thus the prototype modern Sunni jihadist organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, emerged out of this popular, well-defined historical, and mainstream doctrinal milieu, a half-century later.

 

Charles Wendell introduced his elegant 1978 translation of five treatises by Hasan al-Banna, with perspicacious analyses of the Muslim Brotherhood founder’s Weltanschauung. Wendell stressed not only al-Banna’s seamless connection to the so-called “modernists,” Jamal al-Din Afghani, Muhammad Abduh, and Muhammad Rashid Rida, but to traditional Islam itself. Moreover, Wendell’s concluding observations remain critical to understanding the deep Islamic religious animus toward Israel—so much in evidence today—that al-Banna and his movement both inspired, and reflected.

 

One impressive factor that immediately strikes any student of the move­ment [the Muslim Brotherhood] is that it represents a continuation of the activist Pan-Islamic doctrine of Jamal al-Din al-Afghani and the early Muhammad Abduh. . . . [I]t seems beyond dispute that, like Al-Afghani, he [al-Banna] has as his final goal a return to the world-state of the Four Orthodox Caliphs (Al-Khalafa al-Rashidun) and, this once accomplished, an aggressive march forward to conquer the rest of the earth for God and his Sacred Law. . . Like most of the Muslim reformers from the early nine­teenth century on, Al-Banna believed that it was possible to pick and choose those aspects of Western civilization he could accept as compatible with Islamic doctrine and morality, and neatly excise the rest. . . . Hasan, like his heroes like Al-Afghani and [Muhammad] Abduh, castigated the clerics for their withdrawal from the real world around them. Their fixation on gloss-writing, and their abdication of their true responsibilities as spiritual guides and models. . . . Hasan’s answer to this was essentially that of both the fun­damentalist Hanbalites and the “Manar” [“Al Manar,” “The Lighthouse,” the title of a publication jointly produced by Abduh and Rida] modernists, especially Abduh’s dis­ciple Muhammad Rashid Rida, whom he admired more than Abduh himself: “Back to the Qur’an and the Sunna!” . . .

 

Hasan al-Banna’s fundamental con­viction that Islam does not accept, or even tolerate, a separation of “church” and state, or of either from society, is as thoroughly Islamic as it can be. Any attempt to translate his movement into terms reducible to social, political, or religious factors exclusively simply misses the boat. The “totality” created by the Prophet Muhammad in the Medinese state, the first Islamic state, was Hasan’s unwavering ideal, and the ideal of all Muslim thinkers before him, including the idle dreamers in the mosque. His ideology then, before it was Egyptian or Arab or whatever, was Islamic to the core. Since it embraced all aspects of human life and thought, it was at least as much religious as any­thing else. Practically all of his arguments are shored up by frequent quota­tions from the Qur’an and the Traditions, quite in the style of his medieval forbears. If one considers the public to whom his writings were addressed, it becomes instantly apparent that such arguments must still be the most com­pelling for the vast bulk of the Muslim populations of today.

 

The nagging feeling that Islam must, and very quickly at that, catch up with the West, had even by his time filtered down from above to the masses after having been the watchword of the modernizing intellectual for almost a century. There was also the notion that all these Western sciences and techniques were originally adopted from Islamic culture, and were therefore merely “coming home”—a piece of self-conscious back-patting that was already a cliché of most Muslim political writing. . . To this [Islamic] revivalist mentality, nothing could be more hateful than further diminution of the lands traditionally dominated by Islam. I believe that much of the fury and unconcealed hatred of the Zionist state which is expressed by the majority of Arabs will become more comprehensible in light of what the Islamic domain as a concept really means to the Muslims, seen through the lens of Hasan’s exposition. Fascists were unable to endow their acts or beliefs with a religious dimension, except for the embarrassing juvenility of the Teutonic shrines reputedly raised in Germany. In the case of the Muslim Brotherhood, however, they had, on the basis of indisputable historical facts and clear reli­gious traditions, a ready-made program for a world crusade that required only actors and a leader. Islam had from the beginning been a proselytizing faith. The error of the Islamic peoples, as Al-Afghani had pointed out forty years before, had been to cease their inexorable forward march, to abnegate their God-ordained destiny.

 

From Jihad to Dhimmitude

 

Pooled findings from surveys conducted almost a century after Hurgronje’s 1916 observations (i.e., performed between 2006 to 2012), indicate that the vast preponderance of contemporary Muslims still seek the conjoined goals of re-establishing a Caliphate, and implementing the Sharia, Islamic law.

 

For example, polling data released (April 24, 2007) in a rigorously conducted face-to-face University of Maryland/ WorldPublicOpinion.org interview survey of 4384 Muslims completed between December 9, 2006 and February 15, 2007-1000 Moroccans, 1000 Egyptians, 1243 Pakistanis, and 1141 Indonesians-revealed that 65.2% of those interviewed-almost 2/3, hardly a “fringe minority”—desired this outcome (i.e., “To unify all Islamic countries into a single Islamic state or Caliphate”), including 49% of “moderate” Indonesian Muslims. The internal validity of these data about the present longing for a Caliphate is strongly suggested by a concordant result: 65.5% of this Muslim sample approved the proposition “To require a strict [emphasis added] application of Shari’a law in every Islamic country.”

 

A Pew Research Forum report, “The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics and Society,” released April 30, 2013, confirmed  the broad appeal of the Sharia, Islam’s religio-political “law,” across Islamdom. The data were combined from surveys conducted between 2008 and 2012, representing, as touted by Pew, “a total of 39 countries and territories on three continents: Africa, Asia and Europe.” Collectively, the surveys included “more than 38,000 face-to-face interviews in 80-plus languages and dialects, covering every country that has more than 10 million Muslims.”

 

Responses to this question on the Sharia comprised the polls’ most salient finding. The question was, “Do you favor or oppose making sharia law, or Islamic law, the official law of the land in our country?” Summary data from the nations with the five largest Muslim populations (as per 2010) surveyed, Indonesia (204 million), Pakistan (178 million), Bengladesh (149 million), Egypt (80 million), and Nigeria (76 million), revealed:

 

  • 72% of Indonesian Muslims, 84% of Pakistani Muslims, 82% of Bengladeshi Muslims, 74% of Egyptian Muslims, and 71% of Nigerian Muslims supported making Sharia the official state law of their respective societies. The population-weighted average from these 5 countries was 77% supportive. (Composite regional data confirmed these individual country trends—84% of South Asian Muslims, 77% of Southeast Asian Muslims, 74% of Middle Eastern/North African Muslims, and 64% of Sub-Saharan African Muslims favored application of the Sharia as official state law.)

 

Furthermore, the Pew survey results confirm the abject failure of the U.S. midwived Iraqi and Afghan “democracies” to fulfill the utopian aspirations of the much ballyhooed “(Bernard) Lewis doctrine.” Instead, the negative prognostications, epitomized by Diana West’s evocative description “Making the world safe for Sharia,” have been realized. Specifically, the Pew data indicated:

 

  • 91% of Iraqi Muslims and 99% of Afghan Muslims supported making Sharia the official state law of their respective societies

 

Religious piety, as evidenced by frequency of prayer and “Following the Prophet’s Example,” increased support for Sharia, which was unaffected by age, gender, or educational level. The Pew report fails to elaborate on these strong associations, offering no explanation about why increased compliance with prayer and pious conformity with the behavior of Islam’s prophet Muhammad might result in broad Muslim approval for the application of Sharia “norms,” including mutilating thieves, stoning adulterers to death, or executing those who simply exercise freedom of conscience and forsake Islam.

Pew also issued a separate report on June 11, 2013 finding concordant results with regard to the overall popularity of the Sharia in Iran: 83% favored its application.

 

Ernest Gellner (1925-1995), a renowned Western social anthropologist, whose interests extended to Islamdom, notably his 1981 study Muslim Society, contextualized the global Islamic trends revealed by all these data, almost a quarter century ago. Gellner, described by an obituarist (in 1995) as a “defender of positivism, empiricism and rationalism,” who, “with cold clarity” and “sternness” critiqued “religious and leftist seekers after umma . . . linguistic philosophy, relativism, psychoanalysis, and post-modernism,” wrote in 1991,

 

I think it is fair to say that no secularization has taken place in the world of Islam: that the hold of Islam over its believers is as strong, and in some ways stronger, now than it was 100 years ago. Somehow or other Islam is secularization-resistant, and the striking thing is that this remains true under a whole range of political regimes. It is true under socially radical regimes which try to fuse Islam with socialist terminology and ideas; it is equally true under traditionalist regimes whose elites belong to the world of Ibn Khaldun [d. 1406, the great Muslim historian and polymath] and come from a ruling tribal network; and it is true of the regimes in between.

 

Koran 4:59 is the same Koranic injunction cited by Islamic legists from al-Mawardi (d. 1058) to Mawdudi (d. 1979)—as legitimizing the totalitarian Caliphate system. Al-Mawardi, from his seminal treatise Al-Akham as-Sultaniyyah [The Laws of Islamic Governance], maintained,

 

It is the Law . . . which has delegated affairs to those who wield authority over them in matters of the deen [religion]—Allah, may He be exalted, has said: “O you believe, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority amongst you” (Koran 4:59). Thus He has imposed on us obedi­ence to those in authority, that is those who have the command over us. Hisham ibn ‘Urwah has related from Abu Salih from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said: “After me the governors will rule over you and those who are corrupt will rule you by their corruptness: listen to them and obey them in everything which is compatible with the truth—if they are correct in their dealings then it will be to your benefit and theirs, and if they act incorrectly then that will still be to your benefit (in the next world) but will be held against them.”

 

Mawdudi, one of the most important twentieth-century Sunni thinkers, provided a modern vision of Mawardi’s classical formulation which demonstrates its remarkable consistency across a millennium of time:

 

This verse [Koran 4:59] is the cornerstone of the entire religious, social, and political structure of Islam, and the very first clause of the constitution of an Islamic state. It lays down the following principles as permanent guidelines: (1) In the Islamic order of life, God alone is the focus of loyalty and obedience. . . . (2) Another basic principle of the Islamic order of life is obedience to the Prophet. . . . (3) In the Islamic order of life Muslims are further required to obey fellow Muslims in authority. . . . (4) In an Islamic order the injunctions of God and the way of the Prophet constitute the basic law and paramount authority in all matters. Whenever there is any dispute among Muslims or between the rulers and the ruled the matter should be referred to the Qur’an and the Sunnah [traditions], and all concerned should accept with sincerity whatever judgment results. The basic difference between a Muslim and a non-Muslim is that whereas the latter feels free to do as he wishes, the basic characteristic of a Muslim is that he always looks to God and to His Prophet for guidance, and where such guidance is available, a Muslim is bound by it. . . . [T]he Qur’an is not merely a legal code, but also seeks to instruct, educate, admonish, and exhort. . . . Two things are laid down. First, that faithful adherence to the above four principles is a necessary requirement of faith. Anyone who claims to be a Muslim and yet disregards the principles of Islam involves himself in gross contradiction. Second, the well-being of Muslims lies in basing their lives on those principles. This alone can keep them on the straight path in this life, and will lead to their salvation in the Next. It is significant that this admonition [Koran 4:59] after the section which embodies comments about the moral and religious condition of the Jews. Thus the Muslims were subtly directed to draw a lesson from the depths to which the Jews had sunk, as a result of their deviation from the fundamental principles of true faith just mentioned. Any community that turns its back upon the Book of God [the Koran] and the guidance of His Prophets, that wittingly follows rulers and leaders who are heedless of God and His Prophets, and that obeys its reli­gious and political authorities blindly without seeking authority for their actions either in the Book of God or in the practice of the Prophets, will inevitably fall into the same evil and corruption as the Israelites.

 

Returning to the 11th century jurist al-Mawardi, what was the nature of the system of governance imposed upon those indigenous non-Muslims conquered by jihad?

 

In his The Laws of Islamic Governance al-Mawardi, examined the regulations pertaining to the lands and infidel populations subjugated by jihad. This is the origin of the system of dhimmitude. The native infidel “dhimmi” (which derives from both the word for “pact”, and also “guilt”—guilty of religious errors) population had to recognize Islamic ownership of their land, submit to Islamic law, and accept payment of the Koranic poll tax (jizya), based on Koran 9:29. Al- Mawardi notes that “The enemy makes a payment in return for peace and reconciliation.” He then distinguishes two cases: (I) Payment is made immediately and is treated like booty, “it does, not  however, prevent a jihad being carried out against them in the future.” (II). Payment is made yearly and will “constitute an ongoing tribute by which their security is established.” Reconciliation and security last as long as the payment is made. If the payment ceases, then the jihad resumes. A treaty of reconciliation may be renewable, but must not exceed 10

Years. This same basic formulation was reiterated during a January 8, 1998 interview by Yusuf al-Qaradawi confirming how jihad continues to regulate the relations between Muslims and non-Muslims to the present day.

 

The “contract of the jizya, or “dhimmaencompassed other obligatory and recommended obligations for the conquered non-Muslim “dhimmi” peoples. Collectively, these “obligations” formed the discriminatory system of dhimmitude imposed upon non-Muslims—Jews, Christians, [as well as Zoroastrians, Hindus, and Buddhists]-subjugated by jihad. Some of the more salient features of dhimmitude include: the prohibition of arms for the vanquished dhimmis, and of church bells; restrictions concerning the building and restoration of churches, synagogues, and temples; inequality between Muslims and non-Muslims with regard to taxes and penal law; the refusal of dhimmi testimony by Muslim courts; a requirement that Jews, Christians, and other non-Muslims, including Zoroastrians and Hindus, wear special clothes; and the overall humiliation and abasement of non-Muslims. It is important to note that these regulations and attitudes were institutionalized as permanent features of the sacred Islamic law, or Sharia. The writings of the much lionized Sufi theologian and jurist al-Ghazali (d. 1111) highlight how the institution of dhimmitude was simply a normative, and prominent feature of the Sharia:

 

...the dhimmi is obliged not to mention Allah or His Apostle.. .Jews, Christians, and Majians must pay the jizya [poll tax on non-Muslims]...on offering up the jizya, the dhimmi must hang his head while the official takes hold of his beard and hits [the dhimmi] on the protruberant bone beneath his ear [i.e., the mandible]... They are not permitted to ostentatiously display their wine or church bells...their houses may not be higher than the Muslim's, no matter how low that is. The dhimmi may not ride an elegant horse or mule; he may ride a donkey only if the saddler-work] is of wood. He may not walk on the good part of the road. They [the dhimmis] have to wear [an identifying] patch [on their clothing], even women, and even in the [public] baths...[dhimmis] must hold their tongue. 

 

Mawdudi extolled forthrightly the system of dhimmitude for non-Muslims in the modern era. Thus, Mawdudi’s exegesis of Koran 9:29 reaffirmed the classic formulation of dhimm­itude in an Islamic state—replete with payment of the debasing, often pauperizing jizya or Koranic poll-tax (etymologically, jizya is “the tax paid in lieu of being slain”) and maintained with full bellicose and discriminatory medieval resonance:

 

The purpose for which the Muslims are required to fight is not as one might think to compel the unbelievers into embracing Islam. Rather, their purpose is to put an end to the sovereignty and supremacy of the unbelievers so that the latter are unable to rule over men. The authority to rule should only be vested in those who follow the true faith; unbelievers who do not follow this true faith should live in a state of subordination. Unbelievers are required to pay jizyah (poll tax) in lieu of the security provided to them as the Dhimmis of an Islamic state. Jizyah symbolizes the submission of the unbelievers to the suzerainty of Islam. “To pay jizyah of their own hands humbled” refers to payment in a state of submission. “Humbled” also rein­forces the idea that the believers, rather than the unbelievers, should be the rulers in performance of their duty as Allah’s vicegerents. Initially the rule that jizyah should be realized from all non-Muslims meant its application to Christians and Jews living in the Islamic state. Later on the Prophet (peace be upon him) extended it to Zoroastrians as well, granting them the status of Dhimmis. Guided by the Prophet’s practice the Companions applied this rule to all non-Muslim religious communities living outside Arabia. Some nineteenth century Muslim writers and their followers in our own times never seem to tire of their apologies for jizyah. But Allah’s religion does not require that apologetic explanations be made on its behalf. The simple fact is that according to Islam, non-Muslims have been granted freedom to stay outside the Islamic fold and to cling to their false, man-made ways, if they so wish. They have, however, absolutely no right to seize the reins of power in any part of Allah’s earth, nor to direct the collective affairs of human beings according to their own misconceived doctrines. For if they are given such an opportunity, corruption and mischief will ensue. In such a situation the believers would be under an obligation to do their utmost to dislodge them from political power and to make them live in subservi­ence to the Islamic way of life. . . . One of the advantages of jizyah is that it reminds the Dhimmis every year that because they do not embrace Islam, they . . . have to pay a price—jizyah—for clinging to their errors. . . . The amount so received should be spent on the administration of that righteous [Islamic] state.

 

The practical consequences of such a discriminatory system were summarized in A.S. Tritton’s  1930 The Caliphs and their Non-Muslim Subjects, a pioneering treatise on the status of the dhimmis:

 

…[C]aliphs destroyed churches to obtain materials for their buildings, and the mob was always ready to pillage churches and monasteries…dhimmis…always lived on sufferance, exposed to the caprices of the ruler and the passions of the mob…in later times..[t]hey were much more liable to suffer from the violence of the crowd, and the popular fanaticism was accompanied by an increasing strictness among the educated. The spiritual isolation of Islam was accomplished. The world was divided into two classes, Muslims and others, and only Islam counted…Indeed the general feeling was that the leavings of the Muslims were good enough for the dhimmis.

 

Six other esteemed 20th century scholars of the Sharia’s impact on non-Muslims—Hindus and Zoroastrians, as well as Christians and Jews—concurred with Tritton’s assessment: Sir Jadunath Sarkar, Antoine Fattal, S.D. Goitein, Ann Lambton, Bat Ye’or, and Mary Boyce.

 

Sarkar, a pre-eminent historian of Mughal India, wrote the following in 1920 (a decade before Tritton’s observations were published) about how centuries of Sharia-imposed dhimmitude affected the indigenous Hindus of the Indian subcontinent:

 

The conversion of the entire population to Islam and the extinction of every form of dissent is the ideal of the Muslim State. If any infidel is suffered to exist in the community, it is as a necessary evil, and for a transitional period only. Political and social disabilities must be imposed on him, and bribes offered to him from the public funds, to hasten the day of his spiritual enlightenment and the addition of his name to the roll of true believers...

 

A non-Muslim therefore cannot be a citizen of the State; he is a member of a depressed class; his status is a modified form of slavery. He lives under a contract (zimma, or “dhimma”) with the State: for the life and property grudgingly spared to him by the commander of the faithful he must undergo political and social disabilities, and pay a commutation money. In short, his continued existence in the State after the conquest of his country by the Muslims is conditional upon his person and property made subservient to the cause of Islam.

 

He must pay a tax for his land (kharaj), from which the early Muslims were exempt; he must pay other exactions for the maintenance of the army, in which he cannot enlist even if he offers to render personal service instead of paying the poll-tax; and he must show by humility of dress and behavior that he belongs to s subject class. No non-Muslim can wear fine dresses, ride on horseback or carry arms; he must behave respectfully and submissively to every member of the dominant sect.

 

As the learned Qazi Mughis-ud-din declared, in accordance with the teachings of the books on Canon Law: “The Hindus are designated in the Law as ‘payers of tribute’ (kharaj-guzar); and when the revenue officer demands silver from them, they should, without question and with all humility and respect, tender gold. If the officer throws dirt into their mouths, they must without reluctance open their mouths wide to receive it. By these acts of degradation are shown the extreme obedience of the zimmi [dhimmi], the glorification of the true faith of Islam, and the abasement of false faiths. God himself orders them to be humiliated , (as He says, ‘till they pay jaziya) with the hand and are humbled…The Prophet has commanded us to slay them, plunder them, and make them captive…No other religious authority except the great Imam (Hanifa) whose faith we follow, has sanctioned the imposition of jaziya on Hindus. According to all other theologians, the rule for Hindus is ‘Either death or Islam’.

The zimmi is under certain legal disabilities with regard to testimony in law courts, protection under criminal law, and in marriage…he cannot erect new temples, and has to avoid any offensive publicity in the exercise of his worship…Every device short of massacre in cold blood was resorted to in order to convert heathen subjects. In addition to the poll-tax and public degradation in dress and demeanor imposed on them, the non-Muslims were subjected to various hopes and fears. Rewards in the form of money and public employment were offered to apostates from Hinduism. The leaders of Hindu religion and society were systematically repressed, to deprive the sect of spiritual instruction, and their religious gatherings and processions were forbidden in order to prevent the growth of solidarity and sense of communal strength among them. No new temple was allowed to be built nor any old one to be repaired, so that the total disappearance of Hindu worship was to be merely a question of time. But even this delay, this slow operation of Time, was intolerable to many of the more fiery spirits of Islam, who tried to hasten the abolition of ‘infidelity’ by anticipating the destructive hand of Time and forcibly pulling down temples.

 

When a class are publicly depressed and harassed by law and executive caprice alike, they merely content themselves with dragging on an animal existence. With every generous instinct of the soul crushed out of them, the intellectual culture merely adding a keen edge to their sense of humiliation, the Hindus could not be expected to produce the utmost of which they were capable; their lot was to be hewers of wood and drawers of water to their masters, to bring grist to the fiscal mill, to develop a low cunning and flattery as the only means of saving what they could of their own labor. Amidst such social conditions, the human hand and the human spirit cannot achieve their best; the human soul cannot soar to its highest pitch. The barrenness of intellect and meanness of spirit of the Hindu upper classes are the greatest condemnation of Muhammadan rule in India. The Muhammadan political tree judged by its fruit was an utter failure.

 

Nearly four decades later, Antoine Fattal, whose 1958 Le Statut Legal de Musulmans en Pays d'Islam remains the benchmark analysis of non-Muslims—especially Christians and Jews—living under the Sharia, observed:

 

The dhimmi, we might say, is a second-class citizen. If they [the ruling Muslims] tolerate him it is a calculated step, whether because they cherish the hope of converting him or for material reasons, because they force him to shoulder virtually the entire burden of taxation. They provide a place for him in the state, but not without reminding him continually of his inferior status. They prevent him from occupying high positions in society, and if by merit or intrigue he manages to climb to such places everything conspires to relegate him once again to obscurity. If the dhimmi acquires an independent legal status or privileges associated with his personal position, if he is permitted even his own courts, it is only because he cannot share with the Faithful [i.e., the Muslims] the advantages of their own justice, which is essentially religious. In no case is the dhimmi the equal of a Muslim. He is condemned to social inequality and forms part of a despised caste: inequality so far as his personal rights are concerned, inequality in taxation, and inequality before the law, since his testimony is neither accepted by the Muslim courts of justice nor even, for the same minor crime, is the punishment the same…No social relationship, no fellowship is possible between Muslims and dhimmis...

 

Shlomo Dov [S. D.] Goitein (d. 1985) was a historian of Muslim-Jewish relations whose seminal research findings were widely published, most notably in the monumental five-volume work A Mediterranean Society: The Jewish Communities of the Arab World as Portrayed in the Documents of the Cairo Geniza (1967–1993). Here is what Goitein wrote on the subject of non-Muslim dhimmis under Muslim rule, that is, dhimmitude, circa 1970:

 

[A] great humanist and contemporary of the French Revolution, Wilhelm von Humboldt, defined as the best state one which is least felt and restricts itself to one task only: protection, protection against attack from outside and oppression from within . . . [I]n general, taxation [by the Muslim gov­ernment] was merciless, and a very large section of the population must have lived permanently at the starvation level. From many Geniza letters *371  one gets the impression that the poor were concerned more with getting money for the payment of their taxes than for food and clothing, for failure of payment usually induced cruel punishment. . . . [T]he Muslim state was quite the opposite of the ideals propagated by Wilhelm von Humboldt or the principles embedded in the constitution of the United States. An Islamic state was part of or coincided with dar al-Islam, the House of Islam. Its trea­sury was mal al-muslumin, the money of the Muslims. Christians and Jews were not citizens of the state, not even second class citizens. They were outsiders under the protection of the Muslim state, a status characterized by the term dhimma, for which protection they had to pay a poll tax specific to them. They were also exposed to a great number of discriminatory and humiliating laws. . . . As it lies in the very nature of such restrictions, soon additional humiliations were added, and before the second century of Islam was out, a complete body of legislation in this matter was in existence. . . . In times and places in which they became too oppressive they lead to the dwindling or even complete extinction of the minorities [Emphasis added.]

From 1972 until 1978, the late Ann Lambton (d. 2008) headed the Near and Middle East Department while contributing articles and analyses for The Cambridge History of Islam, which she co-edited with Bernard Lewis. Professor Lambton and Bernard Lewis were also both protégés of the famous School of Oriental and Asiatic Studies Islamologist Sir Hamilton Gibb.

Ann Lambton wrote the following on the dhimmis, published in 1981:

 

As individuals, the dhimmis possessed no rights. Citizenship was limited to Muslims; and because of the superior status of the Muslim, certain juristic restrictions were imposed on the dhimmi. The evidence of a dhimmi was not accepted in a law court; a Muslim could not inherit from a dhimmi nor a dhimmi from a Muslim; a Muslim could marry a dhimmi woman, but a dhimmi could not marry a Muslim woman; at the frontier a dhimmi merchant paid double the rate of duty on merchandise paid by a Muslim, but only half the rate paid by a harbi; and the blood-wit paid for a dhimmi was, except according to the Hanafis, only half or two-thirds that paid for a Muslim’s No dhimmi was permitted to change his faith except for Islam. . . . Various social restrictions were imposed upon the dhimmis such as restric­tions of dress. . . . Dhimmis were also forbidden to ride horses . . . and, according to Abu Hanifa valuable mules. The reason for this prohibition was connected with the fact that dhimmis were forbidden to bear arms: the horse was regarded as a “fighter for the faith,” and received two shares in the booty if it were of Arab stock whereas its rider received one. Dhimmis were to yield the way to Muslims. They were also forbidden to mark their houses by distinctive signs or to build them higher than those of Muslims. They were not to build new churches, syna­gogues, or hermitages and not to scandalize Muslims by openly performing their worship or following their distinctive customs such as drinking wine. . . . The humiliating regulations to which [dhimmis] were subject as regards their dress and conduct in public were not, however, nearly so serious as their moral subjection, the imposition of the poll tax, and their legal disabilities. They were, in general, made to feel that they were beyond the pale. Partly as a result of this, the Christian communities dwindled in number, vitality, and morality. . . . The degradation and demoralization of the [dhimmis] had dire consequences for the Islamic community and reacted unfavorably on Islamic political and social life. [Emphasis added.]

 

Bat Ye’or is an accomplished contemporary scholar of jihad, and the repressive and humiliating system of governance imposed upon the non-Muslim dhimmis subjugated by jihad—dhimm­itude, in her parlance. Although she coined the term dhimmitude, Bat Ye’or’s characterization of the salient features of this institution is entirely consistent with the views of the seminal scholars from the early and mid 20th century, cited previously. Her extensive analyses of the dhimmi condition for both Jews and Christians published (in English) in1985 and 1996, concluded:

 

These examples are intended to indicate the general character of a system of oppression, sanctioned by contempt and justified by the principle of inequality between Muslims and dhimmis. . . . Singled out as objects of hatred and contempt by visible signs of discrimination, they were progressively decimated during periods of massacres, forced conversions, and banishments. Sometimes it was the prosperity they had achieved through their labor or ability that aroused jealousy; oppressed and stripped of all their goods, the dhimmi often emigrated. [I]n many places and at many periods [through] the nineteenth century, observers have described the wearing of discriminatory clothing, the rejection of dhimmi testimony, the prohibitions concerning places of worship and the riding of animals, as well as fiscal charges—particularly the protection charges levied by nomad chiefs—and the payment of the jizya. . . . Not only was the dhimma imposed almost continuously, for one finds it being applied in the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire . . . and in Persia, the Maghreb, and Yemen in the early twentieth century, but other additional abuses, not written into the laws, became absorbed into custom, such as the devshirme [i.e., the periodic levy of non-Muslim children forcibly converted to Islam, and raised to fight as part of the Ottoman Muslim slave-soldier janissary corps] the degrading corvées (as hangmen or gravediggers), the abduction of Jewish orphans (Yemen), the compulsory removal of footware (Morocco, Yemen), and other humiliations. . . . The recording in multiple sources of eye-witness accounts, concerning unvarying regulations affecting the Peoples of the Book, perpetuated over the centuries from one end of the dar al- Islam to the other . . . proves sufficiently their entrenchment in customs.

 

Bat Ye’or’s unique contribution to the study of jihad and dhimmitude has been her ability to accomplish two related tasks: (I) methodically pooling a vast, rich array of primary source data; (II) providing a brilliant synthetic analysis of these data to demonstrate convincingly the transformative power of jihad and dhimmitude, operating as designed, within formerly Christian societies of the Near East and Asia Minor.  Mary Boyce, late  (d. 2006) Professor of Iranian Studies at the University of London, confirmed the external validity of Bat Ye’or’s analytical approach in her description of how jihad and dhimmitude (without the latter being specifically identified as such) transformed Zoroastrian society in an analogous manner. Boyce has written comprehensive assessments of those Zoroastrian communities which survived the devastating jihad conquests of the mid 7th through early 8th centuries. The Zoroastrians experienced an ongoing, inexorable decline over the next millennium due to constant sociopolitical and economic pressures exerted by their Muslim rulers, and neighbors. This gradual, but continuous process was interspersed with periods of accelerated decline resulting from paroxysms of Muslim fanaticism—pogroms,  forced conversions, and expropriations—through the latter half of the 19th century. Boyce described these complementary phenomena based on an historical analysis, and her personal observations living in the (central Iranian) Yezd area during the 1960s:

 

…in the mid nineteenth century disaster overtook Turkabad, in the shape of what was perhaps the last massed forcible conversion in Iran.  It no longer seems possible to learn anything about the background of this event; but it happened, so it is said, one autumn day when dye-madder - then one of the chief local crops - was being lifted.  All the able-bodied men were at work in teams in the fields when a body of Moslems swooped on the village and seized them.  They were threatened, not only with death for themselves, but also with the horrors that would befall their women and children, who were being terrorized at the same time in their homes; and by the end of the day of violence most of the village had accepted Islam.  To recant after a verbal acknowledgement of Allah and his prophet meant death in those days, and so Turkabad was lost to the old religion.  Its fire-temple was razed to the ground, and only a rough, empty enclosure remained where once it had stood.

 

A similar fate must have overtaken many Iranian villages in the past, among those which did not willingly embrace Islam; and the question seems less why it happened to Turkabad than why it did not overwhelm all other Zoroastrian settlements.  The evidence, scanty though it is, shows, however, that the harassment of the Zoroastrians of Yazd tended to be erratic and capricious, being at times less harsh, or bridled by strong governors; and in general the advance of Islam across the plain, through relentless, seems to have been more by slow erosion than by furious force.  The process was till going on in the 1960s, and one could see, therefore, how it took effect.  Either a few Moslems settled on the outskirts of a Zoroastrian village, or one or two Zoroastrian families adopted Islam.  Once the dominant faith had made a breach, it pressed in remorselessly, like a rising tide.  More Moslems came, and soon a small mosque was built, which attracted yet others.  As long as Zoroastrians remained in the majority, their lives were tolerable; but once the Moslems became the more numerous, a petty but pervasive harassment was apt to develop.  This was partly verbal, with taunts about fire-worship, and comments on how few Zoroastrians there were in the world, and how many Moslems, who must therefore posses the truth; and also on how many material advantages lay with Islam.  The harassment was often also physical; boys fought, and gangs of youth waylaid and bullied individual Zoroastrians. They also diverted themselves by climbing into the local tower of silence and desecrating it, and they might even break into the fire-temple and seek to pollute or extinguish the sacred flame.  Those with criminal leanings found too that a religious minority provided tempting opportunities for theft, pilfering from the open fields, and sometimes rape and arson.  Those Zoroastrians who resisted all these pressures often preferred therefore in the end to sell out and move to some other place where their co-religionists were still relatively numerous, and they could live at peace; and so another village was lot to the old faith.  Several of the leading families in Sharifabad and forebears who were driven away by intense Moslem pressure from Abshahi, once a very devout and orthodox village on the southern outskirts of Yazd; and a shorter migration had been made by the family of the centenarian ‘Hajji’ Khodabakhsh, who had himself been born in the 1850s and was still alert and vigorous in 1964.  His family, who were very pious, had left their home in Ahmedabad (just to the north of Turkabad) when he was a small boy, and had come to settle in Sharifabad to escape persecution and the threats to their orthodox way of life.  Other Zoroastrians held out there for a few decades longer, but by the end of the century Ahmedabad was wholly Moslem, as Abshahi had become in 1961. [Boyce's footnote: The last Zoroastrian family left Abshahi in 1961, after the rape and subsequent suicide of one of their daughters.] It was noticeable that the villages which were left to the Zoroastrians were in the main those with poor supplies of water, where farming conditions were hard.

 

A half century later, Mary Boyce’s observations about the final Islamic decimation of Zoroastrianism in Iran are mirrored by the plight of Iraqi Christians. Although ISIL’s murderous anti-Christian depredations are only the most recent during more than a decade of continuous jihadist activity, they could result in the final extinction of Iraq’s ancient Christian community. Post-surge Iraq—the paragon of General David Petraeus’ counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine “triumph”—rapidly deteriorated, well before the emergence of ISIL, per se, into a hotbed of jihadism targeting Christians.

 

As reported December 5, 2011, in the Wall Street Journal, according to Archbishop Louis Sako of the Chaldean Catholic Church in the northern provinces of Kirkuk and Sulimaniya, at least fifty-four Iraqi churches had been bombed and at least 905 Christians killed in various acts of violence since the US invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003. Noting that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled, the archbishop stated: “It’s a hemorrhage. Iraq could be emptied of Christians.” Archbishop Louis Sako’s assessment was confirmed by a Minority Rights Group International report, released at the end of November 2011, which included these summary findings:

 

Since 2003, Iraq’s religious minority communities have been targeted for abduction, rape and murder and had their homes and businesses destroyed, specifically because of their faith. They have received threats and intimida­tions to pay a protection tax, convert to Islam, or leave their homes and country. The violations against religious minorities documented by MRG in its 2010 report continue. Major areas of ongoing concern are Baghdad, Nineveh Plains, Mosul and Kirkuk. . . . Christians are at particular risk for a number of reasons, including religious ties with the West, perceptions that Christians are better off than most Iraqis, and leadership positions in the pre-2003 government. The fact that Christians, along with Yezidis, con­tinue to trade in alcohol in Iraq (both groups have traditionally sold alcohol in Iraq), has also made them a target in an increasingly strict Islamic envi­ronment. Waves of targeted violence, sometimes in response to the com­munity’s lobbying for more inclusive policies (for example, reserved seats in elections) have forced the Christian community to disperse and seek refuge in neighboring countries and across the world. In 2003, they num­bered between 800,000 and 1.4 million; by July 2011, that number had fallen to 500,000, according to USCIRF [the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom].

 

Mosul’s Archbishop Emil Shimoun Nona, whose predecessor Paulos Farah Rahho was kidnapped and murdered outside his Mosul Church in 2008, has chronicled the impact of ISIL’s jihad on the indigenous Christians over the past month. He initially noted the attacks on churches, and a monastery, and Christian flight, observing,

 

We have never seen anything like this—a large city such as Mosul attacked and in chaos.

We received threats... [and] now all the faithful have fled the city. I wonder if they will ever return there.

 

Two weeks later Nona lamented, “the future for us is unknown and dark,” before conceding in a July 4, 2014 report, “My diocese does not exist.” Archbishop Nona hopes that at least a vestigial remnant Christian community might find shelter in an autonomous Kurdistan in lieu of being compelled to abandon the region altogether. The near extinction of Iraq’s indigenous, pre-Islamic Christians—steady erosions punctuated by mass flight during paroxysms of jihad violence—illustrates, tragically, how Islam’s Caliphate dreams are an eternal Muslim ideal, and non-Muslim nightmare