Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi, spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, explained in a December 1997 interview that Islamic law classifies the People of the Book—Jews and Christians—in three categories: non-Muslim protégés, dhimmis, living in Islamic countries (dar al-islam); non-Muslims in countries of temporary truce; and non-Muslims in the lands of war, harbis. Explaining that Islamic law establishes different rules for each of these categories, the sheikh summed up in a few words the theory of jihad that governs relations between Muslims and non-Muslims.
According to the theory of jihad, inhabitants of the lands of war (dar al-Harb) are infidels to be combated because they oppose the establishment of Islamic law in their countries. As enemies of Allah they have no rights: they themselves and their property become licit (mubah) for all Muslims. As the opportunity arises they can be taken as slaves, kidnapped for ransom, robbed or killed. War is waged against them to Islamize their territory which, according to the will of Allah, must belong to the Islamic community. If they resist, Islamic law provides for the deportation or massacre of the men and the enslavement of women and children. Infidels in the lands of truce are in respite between wars. In principle, the truce must not last more than ten years, after which jihad should resume. Two reasons can motivate the truce granted to infidels by the Islamic authority:
1) The Muslims are too weak to vanquish the infidels and the truce allows them to
2) Infidel states pay a tribute to the Muslims or contribute by numerous services to
the advancement of Islam.
In other words the truce is authorized only if it helps improve the Muslim’s situation
and weakens the infidels. Truce is not a natural condition; it is bought by tribute. If
the infidels cannot provide economic advantages in exchange for the truce, hostilities
are resumed. Furthermore, only treaties that conform to Islamic prescriptions are
valid; if these conditions are not fulfilled the treaty is worthless.
Protected infidels, dhimmis, in Muslim countries are former harbis who gave up their
territory without resistance in exchange for peace under Islamic “protection”
(dhimma). This should be understood as protection against the permanent laws of
jihad that would threaten them again if they revolted. This is what I call
“dhimmitude”: the submission-protection condition of infidels obtained by
surrendering their territory to the Islamic authority. Submission because infidels
submit in their own country to the Islamic law that expropriates them, and protection
because the same law protects them from jihad and guarantees their rights.
Dhimmitude is the direct consequence of jihad.
Westerners know little or nothing about jihad, the Islamic war of conquest. In some
progressive circles jihad is considered an exotic term, sometimes graced with a
pleasant connotation. Misled by apparent similarities, intellectuals confuse jihad with
the Crusades. In fact the first Crusade set out in 1096; jihad started in 624. The first
phase, 7th century proto-jihad, was followed by the theological, theoretical, and legal
conceptualization starting in the 8th century. The first phase encompasses
Muhammad’s military activities after he emigrated to Medina in 622 and the
inscription of these exploits in the form of commentaries and commandments in the
Qur’an. The second phase begins after Muhammad’s death in 632 when the Arab
armies set out to conquer Asia and the Christian Mediterranean Empire. It was
during this second phase (8th-9th centuries) that Muslim jurisconsults elaborated the
theological concept of jihad and its institutions based on the example of Muhammad,
his biographies (written between the 8th and 9th centuries), and his alleged words and
deeds (hadiths) recorded by supposed witnesses. The distinction between these two
periods shows that jihad as it developed cannot be attributed to Muhammad because
the institutions were established after his death.
There are many differences between the concepts of jihad and Crusade as they
emanate from two profoundly different religions and civilizations. We can only
mention a few here.
Starting from the 8th century, Muslim theologians professed that jihad originates in
and is inseparable from Islamic doctrine because it is expressed in the military
campaigns led by Muhammad. Jihad, which is a complex notion, manifests the
struggle of Muslims to live according to the precepts of Allah as revealed to
Muhammad. Muhammad embodies the supreme mediator between humanity and
the divinity whose binding and normative commandments are proclaimed in the
Qur’an by his words and deeds. The Arab prophet illustrates the normative model
of the Good that must be imposed nolens volens on all humanity (Qur’an II, 189), and
jihad elaborates the military, political, and economic tactics to achieve that goal.
From its origins and to this day jihad occupies an important place in the thought and
writings of Muslim theologians and jurists. The regulations defined in the 8th
century are still considered immutable today by the majority of Muslims. Whereas
jihad is inherent to the sacred immanence of the Qur’anic revelation, the Crusade is
an episodic historical event subject to criticism.
First we should note that the Crusade has no foundation in the constituent texts of
Christianity—the First and Second Testaments of the Bible. The conquest of Canaan
by the Israelites concerns a limited territory, not the whole earth in an eternal war to
submit all of humanity to one same law. Likewise, practices of warfare are inscribed
in periodicity, in the context of a particular time. Further, the Bible and the Qur’an
do not take the same position on paganism. The Bible condemns the bloody
inhumane practices of pagan cults; it never ordained eternal war against pagans.
Historically the Crusade was a circumstantial reaction to a configuration of events all
of which were integral to the concept of jihad. The Muslim armies encircled
Christendom in a pincer movement. In the east, after the Byzantine defeat at
Manzikert (1071), the Turkish Seljuq tribes put Armenia to fire and the sword and
ravaged the Byzantine territory. In the west the Almoravid Berber tribes penetrated
into Spain and advanced northward, massacring Christians as they went. In the
Holy Land pilgrimages were interrupted because of forced conversions, kidnappings
and murder of Christian pilgrims, and general insecurity for non-Muslims. The
Crusades cannot be separated from the recurrent anti-Christian jihad wars that
Ignorance of jihad doctrine is so profound in the West that the term Crusade is often
abusively used in a context of jihad, leading to absurd misconstructions implying that
Muslims fight for the cross when in fact the cross was forbidden in their empire (dar
al-islam) by Caliph Abd al-Malik from the late 7th century. Effacing the history of
jihad automatically effaces the history of dhimmitude which is its aim and its finality.
The historical sphere that I call dhimmitude is a portion of human history stretching
over more than a millennium and covering all the countries conquered by Muslim
armies on three continents—Africa, Asia, and Europe. And in fact the concept still
exists today in the customs and laws of all countries where shari’a is practiced.
Ignorance keeps people from perceiving dhimmitude just as illiteracy keeps a person
from grasping the meaning of a text, but neither ignorance nor illiteracy changes the
unperceived reality. Because jihad is eternal, being considered an expression of the
divine will, so is dhimmitude, its direct consequence, enhanced with the same eternal
and sacred qualities.
Read the whole paper here.