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The Bible’s Prescriptive, Open-Ended, and Universal Commandments to Wage Holy War and Enslave Infidels (III)

This is page III of IV.  To return to page I, go here.  To return to page II, go here.

No amount of ink has been spared by anti-Muslim ideologues fear-mongering about the traditional Islamic concept (now long abandoned and not implemented in a single Muslim country–not even in the ultraconservative Saudi Arabia or Iran) of jizya and dhimmi–the latter which is pejoratively (and incorrectly) referred to as “dhimmitude”. It is an incorrect usage (and certainly not academically accepted) since “dhimmitude” is an amalgamation of the words “dhimmi” and “servitude”; the dhimmi system was second-class citizenship but not servitude–a significant difference, as noted by Prof. Mark R. Cohen:

The dhimmi enjoyed a kind of citizenship, second class and unequal though it was…[in contrast to] Jews living in Latin Christian lands, where…[they were] legally possessed [as slaves] by this or that ruling authority.

On the other hand, the traditional Christian concept of Perpetual Servitude of heathens was, as the name itself indicates, servitude.  It was a form of slavery that heathens were subjected to (including Jews and Muslims).  The term “dhimmitude” was coined by a loony old lady named Bat Ye’or, a conspiratorial pseudo-scholar and extremist Zionist Jew.  The term was popularized by Catholic apologist Obama-may-be-a-Muslim Robert Spencer.  It is quite ironic that in attempting to coin a demeaning enough term to demonize Islam, the Zionist Jew and Catholic apologist accidentally used a term that is actually found in their own religious tradition!

The historical experiences of dhimma and of Perpetual Servitude have been compared here.

Perpetual Servitude in the Bible

In his book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), Robert Spencer cited a passage from Deuteronomy (20:10-17) to prove that the Bible’s commandments to wage holy war apply only to the Seven Nations and not to anyone else.  We have proven this claim to be completely false (see here).  In fact, this Biblical passage advocates genocide for those heathens living inside of Israel, and Perpetual Servitude for those outside of it.  This injunction implies “the nations”, by which is meant the entire world.

On pp.35-36 of his book, Spencer cites a hadith (saying attributed to Muhammad) that urges Muslims to offer their enemies Three Choices: (1) “Invite them to accept Islam”; (2) “If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya”; or (3) “If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah’s help and fight them”.  The text itself (and the academically dishonest use of ellipses by Spencer) will be discussed in a future article in the Series.  For now, however, we will–simply for argument’s sake–accept Spencer’s claims that Muhammad offered unbelievers these Three Choices only (conversion, tribute, or death).

Is it not odd that the Catholic apologist Robert Spencer, along with his extremist Jewish Zionist and Christian Crusader-wannabe comrades, are so indignant of Muhammad for offering these Three Choices and yet are completely silent when it comes to Moses who restricted infidels to these choices long before Muhammad ever did?  Moses is alleged to have said (almost two millennia before the idea ever came to a man named Muhammad):

Deuteronomy 20:10 When you approach a city to fight against it, you shall offer it terms of peace.

20:11 If it agrees to make peace with you and opens to you, then all the people who are found in it shall become your forced labor and shall serve you (as tributaries).

20:12 However, if it does not make peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it.

20:13 When the LORD your God gives it into your hand, you shall strike all the men in it with the edge of the sword.

20:14 Only the women and the children and the animals and all that is in the city, all its spoil, you shall take as booty for yourself; and you shall use the spoil of your enemies which the LORD your God has given you.

Moses and the Bible thus offered infidels only Two Choices: (1) become forced labor (Perpetual Servitude) or (2) war.  Both resulted in slavery.  And in both circumstances, conversion was necessary.  (The Gibeonites, for instance, were forced to give up their native religion and renounce idolatry for the God of Israel.)

Even if we accept Spencer’s argument about the Three Choices (again, simply for argument’s sake), this was still better than the Two Choices of Moses and the Bible.  There are at least a few reasons why:

1) If an unbeliever paid the jizya, he could retain his religious affiliation.  Meanwhile, an unbeliever under the Biblical model was forced to worship the God of Israel.

2) Dhimmis were considered free persons as opposed to slaves, and it was forbidden to enslave them.  On the other hand, perpetual serfs were “owned” by the state.  For example, the Gibeonites became the slaves of Joshua, the leader of Israel.  Similarly, Jews became perpetual serfs of the Church and/or Christian state.

3) Dhimmis were free to choose their form of livelihood, barred only from military and high governmental positions.  For example, Jews in the Islamic world were known to be physicians, lawyers, scientists, merchants, traders, bankers, and agriculturalists.  Under the Biblical model, an unbeliever became “forced labor” and could no longer choose his own profession.  This is the essence of servitude and why it’s so much worse than second-class citizenship.  The Gibeonites, for instance, were forced to become “wood cutters and water carriers for the [Jewish] community” (Joshua 9:27), “which was a very low and mean employment.” Similarly, Jews in Christian Europe were banned from virtually all fields and restricted to the “hated” profession of money-lending, considered at that time to be worse than prostitution.

4) Dhimmis retained the legal right to own property.  This contrasted sharply with the case of perpetual serfs.

5) If an unbeliever opted to convert to Islam, he was to be considered an equal. Meanwhile, perpetual serfs were forced to convert and still considered unequal serfs.

6) If the unbelievers chose to fight off the Muslims and if the Muslims won, the conquered population–including the men–weren’t massacred.  Instead, they still became a dhimmi population–with all the rights associated with that position.  If, on the other hand, the unbelievers didn’t submit to Perpetual Servitude, the Biblical model called for the slaughter of every single man.

To conclude, the concept of dhimmitude Perpetual Servitude is found in the Bible, and originated from Moses.  Most importantly, the Bible contains “prescriptive, open-ended, and universal commandments” to wage holy war against infidels, and to enslave them, to subjugate them to Perpetual Servitude–something far worse than the dhimmi system.

The obsession over the concept of dhimmis and jizya by the self-proclaimed defenders of the Judeo-Christian tradition certainly does seem to be a case of projection or simply of wholesale ignorance.  What the Islamophobes attribute to the Prophet Muhammad and the Quran is still better than what Moses or the Bible advocated.  This fact will of course be ignored, obfuscated, or downplayed by Robert Spencer et al.–which is consistent with the Islamophobic methodology of “whatever violence is found in Islam always ‘counts’ and whatever violence is found in Judaism or Christianity ‘doesn’t count’ and never counts.”

Always remember:  Jewish or Christian Violence Never Counts, and Muslim Violence Always Counts.

Editor’s Note: Due to the length of this article, it will be split into four pages, the next page to be published tomorrow.

Update I: Page 4 is now available here.

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  • rambo

    “The fact is that D20:15 means that the rules of war can be applied today”

    some honest orthodox jews believe that the rules of war should be applied today, especially if one read verse 18 below 10 times

    Deuteronomy 20:16 However, in the cities of the nations Yahweh your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes.

    17 Completely destroy them–the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites–as Yahweh your God has commanded you.

    18 Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against Yahweh your God.

    ywh does not tolerate pagan belief in any form. he sure wouldn’t appease himself by allowing pagans to help him appease himself. one can argue that the polythiesm today is far more dangerous today than in ancient times. the polythiem on t.v is in your house. so is israeli getting ready to remove christianity from jerusalem?

  • NassirH

    The simple fact is that there is no passage in Islam’s religious canon (i.e., Qur’an and the various collections of hadith) that calls for the wholesale massacre of the entire populations of cities. The God of the Bible orders his followers, in clear terms, to kill every heathen man, woman, and child. Even those who smash babies are “blessed.” In contrast, the Qur’an contains none of the aforementioned. There are numerous hadith I can cite that forbid the targeting of women and children; there is also the prohibition of destroying churches and other forms of property (including, as Cynic mentioned, fruit-bearing trees). Islamic scholar David Dakake highlights a few relevant hadith in his essay (well worth the read), The Myth of Militant Islam:

    “Nafi’ reported that the Prophet of God (may peace be upon him) found women killed in some battles, and he condemned such an act and prohibited the killing of women and children.” [1]

    “When Abu Bakr al-Siddiq [the trusted friend of the Prophet and first of the Rightly-guided Caliphs] sent an army to Syria, he went on foot with Yazid ibn Abu Sufyan who was the commander of a quarter of the forces…. [Abu Bakr said to him:] ‘I instruct you in ten matters : Do not kill women or children, nor the old and infirm; do not cut fruit-bearing trees; do not destroy any town; do not cut the gums of sheep or camels except for purposes of eating; do not burn date-trees nor submerge them; do not steal from booty and do not be cowardly.’” [2]

    “[The Umayyad Caliph] ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz wrote to one of his administrators: We have learned that whenever the Prophet of God (may peace be upon him) sent out a force, he used to command them. Fight, taking the name of the Lord. You are fighting in the cause of the Lord with people who have disbelieved and rejected your Lord. Do not commit theft; do not break vows; do not cut ears and noses; do not kill women and children. Communicate this to your armies.” [3]

    “Once when Rabah ibn Rabi’ah went forth with the Messenger of Allah, he and [the] companions of the Prophet passed a woman who had been slain. The Messenger halted and said : “She is not one who would’ve fought.” Thereupon he looked at the men and said to one of them: “Run after Khalid ibn al-Walid [and tell him] that he must not slay children, serfs, or women.” [4]

    1. Dakake, David. “Chapter 1: The Myth of a Militant Islam.” Islam, Fundamentalism, and the Betrayal of Tradition. New Delhi,: Pentagon, 2005. 3-38. 10. Print.

    2. Ibid., p. 10

    3. Ibid., p. 11

    4. Ibid., p. 11

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