120 of 123 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2002
This book is about the Islamisation of the Middle East (primarily), North Africa, Persia and the Balkans and how Muslim apologists and their Western apologist allies have concealed the countless attrocities, oppression and forced conversions of conquered non-Muslims by "killing history" (i.e supressing the truth and reinventing history).
Before the author is accused of tarnishing Islam and the Muslim community, it must be emphasised that this book draws heavily from quotes from the Quran (the Holy Book which Muslims claim was given by God to Prophet Muhammad); the Hadith (i.e. a compilation of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad); and articles written by renowned Muslim historians, theologians and jurists ....all of which advocates war against unbelievers until finally all of the latter are subjugated and the harsh and humiliating treatment which must be meted out on unbelievers until they embrace the "One True Religion".
The process of Islamisation can be broadly divided into 2 stages :
1) JIHAD - This concept is not only embodied in the Quran but is an obligation of every able bodied Muslim man as a means to bring Islam to the unbelievers. The Prophet Muhammad fought 66 to 67 wars (all or almost all of which were offensive) during his lifetime against Jews and pagan Arabs. A number of his wives and concubines (i.e. Reihana, Safiya etc)were actually taken from Jewish tribes which he defeated or massacred (i.e. Banu Nadir, Banu Quraiza etc). In the first stage of Islamisation (i.e. the Jihad) Muslim armies conquered the whole of the Arabian peninsula and then onwards to the Middle East, North Africa and Persia by the 7th and early 8th centuries. Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians were given the choice of conversion to Islam, death or becoming a Dhimmi (i.e. tributary). Polytheists or pagans were only given 2 choices: conversion or death. Nevertheless, the Muslim Arab tribesmen in their religious zeal and greed for loot would often pillage unfortified villages and enslaved its inhabitants who were Islamised and absorbed into their tribes. [A fair few of the non-Muslim child captives after being brought up as Muslims actually became prominent military commanders who in turn conquered other non-Muslim countries for Islam!] Thus, the Muslim community would gain a number of new converts after the conquest of lands belonging to the Dar Al-Harb (i.e. which are inhabited by Non-Muslims).
2) Dhimmi - In the second stage of Islamisation (and after the Muslim conquests), the non-Muslims who have refused to convert are subjected to numerous humiliations and heavy taxes. Poll tax (known as the jizya) and land tax (known as the kharaj) are imposed. In certain cases, Christain children (such as in the Balkans) and Jewish children (in Morrocco, Yemen and Persia) were taken to be brought up as Muslims. It has been said that after a century of Muslims conquest, Egypt was still 95% Non-Muslim. Gradually, however they converted : the poor converted because the tax was too oppressive, the upper class and the rich converted to retain their privileges (both of these are supported by a few letters written in the Middle Ages by Muslims themselves)and some from the middle class converted for career advancement since at various times, non-Muslims were not permitted to hold high positions.
Massacres were very common even for Dhimmis (i.e. non-Muslims who have submitted to Muslim rule) the last of which was the massacre of the millions of Christians, primarily Armenians (and some Assyrians and Surianis) in 1915. The Islamic nature of the massacre is evidenced by those Armenians embracing Islam were spared and the women and children below 12 were taken captive (i.e. the same fate as the women and chidlren of the Jewish tribe of Banu Quraiza after its defeat by Prophet Muhammad).
Lastly, the author spends quite a bit of time debunking the myth of Islamic tolerance and discusses the reasons for apologists (both Muslim, Westerners and Arab Christians) to reinvent the history of the Islamic conquests and the treatment of the Dhimmis (i.e. Christians and Jews under Islam).
239 of 252 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2001
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Despite the number of people posting here saying this book is biased, no one has come forward to refute its conclusions. Why? Because they can't. Bat Ye'or uses eye-witness accounts and Muslims' own historical writings to tell the sad story of Christians and Jews who were made accomplices in their own cultural and actual destruction by the cruel laws of Islamic sharia. This is a very important book that tells the story of a forgotten people. In the 19th century especially, their sufferings were ignored and abetted by Islam-intoxicated Westerners refusing to face up to the aims of a relentless political ideology (NOT a religion) bent on world subjugation and domination. Sadly, such Westerners still exist and still seek to ignore and disguise the sufferings of millions of people persecuted by Islamic law and tradition: the Coptic Christians; Iranian Ba'hais; Indonesian Buddhists and Christians and Southern Sudanese animists/Christians. John Esposito and Karen Armstrong should shrink with shame at the very name of the great Bat Ye'or, an Egyptian scholar who, unlike those two famous Islamic apologists, must publish under an assumed name to avoid the consequences of telling the truth about the dark side of Islam.
102 of 107 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2003
Bat Ye'or has done the world an immeasurable service with this very scholary and sobering book on Islam and its Jihad and Dhimmitude against non-Muslims. We in the West, after having endured centuries of wars of religion, have come at last to accept the idea of tolerance of other religions. Islam, however, has an opposite credo: all non-Muslims live in "dar al-harb", the world of war; and Muslims mean this literally. The reader of this work must gird his loins as he learns of the persistent genocide throughout history of non-Muslims, which evil deeds go on even to this day (eg, against the Lebanese Christians). Of course, the same goes for Jews as well as all other non-Muslim religions. We learn from history here unveiled for Western eyes for the first time that, excepting only the Arabian Peninsula itself, the rest of the Middle East was originally (ie pre-Muhammed) non-Arab and pre-dominantly Christian, with large minorities of Jews as well as Zoroastrians, et al. These non-Muslim populations were brutally murdered (often with the women and children sold as slaves) and then the lands re-populated with Arab Muslims! This includes Palestine itself. The idea, then, that Palestinians have a "right" to this land, as they claim, is ipso facto absurd. It was originally Christian and Jewish land, then systematically and violently "de-populated" through Jihads, and then re-populatedwith Arab Muslims; and this occurred in the entire Middle East! That we are only now finding out about this sordid and tragic and unforgiveable history of unrelenting racial and religiious genocide is highly disturbing. And lest we think that this has stopped, read about the Muslims exterminating the Christian Armenians, millions of them, before and during WWI. (Ye'or includes many illustrations from contemporary sources, including a mass grave of Armenians, taken in 1915. And it is this same extermination policy Muslims wish to effect today with Israel as well as now with the obdurate Christian Western nations like the US and Britain (with whatever weapons of mass destruction they can they can get their hands on). If the reader has a strong stomach for history that is backed up with scholarship of the most thorough kind, then I recommend this book unreservedly.
On a personal note, I now understand why Muslims in the West (and of course the East) have been at such pains NOT to have their history be known to us, and not to let us know above all that they, as Muslims, are and must be (as their religious duty, as cited in the Koran) at eternal war with all non-Muslims. We have been told that it is only the "fanatics" who believe such things. Alas, their histsory of 14 CONSECUTIVE centuries belies this--as does the daily rhetoric of hate that pours out of the mouths of Islamic leaders and clerics all around the world. No, the sad but demonstrably true facts are otherwise. Islam, since its inception 14 centuries ago, has proved itself to be the single greatest factor of unrest in the world through perpetual genocidal wars with all other peoples, thus giving the lie to their oft-stated claims that they are a religion of peace, compassion, etc. I defy anyone who has read this work (or her other books) to conclude otherwise than what I have written here. Neither the West in general, nor the US and GB in particular, are the sources of unrest in the world today; this "honor" belongs solely to Islam. It is a religion of hate and perpetual war against all non-Muslims--period. Such is the sad conclusion one must draw from Bat Ye'or's outstanding, and very disturbing scholary work(s). In my opinion, the world must assume a hostile stance towards Islam until and unless Islam, through religious reformation enacted into law, and begun by stopping persecution against all non-Muslims around the world, assumes a stance that not only tolerates non-Muslims, but embraces and learns from them as well. Until that (unlikely) day, this religion, the source of untold suffering throughout history, and of continuous religious and ethnic genocide, will only perpetuate its historical ways in the future (as has occurred recently in East Timor, Nigeria, et al).
73 of 76 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2005
For all who enjoy the writing of Bat Ye'or, I will say that "The Decline of Eastern Christianity" is only a prelude to his new book (I've read a galley copy), "Eurabia", an examination of the European-Arabic anti-American/Jewish alliance. If "The Decline" presents a horrifying picture of the past, "Eurabia" projects a similar future for any non-Muslims unlucky enought to live within a Muslim society.
If I hear another politician say, "Muslims are just like Methodists" (Bush) I am going berserk. Islam is NOT like any other modern religion in numerous respects. Nor, as the author points out, has it changed its fundamental beliefs and world view in the past 1300 years. It has, from its inception, spread through quite worldly methods - conquest, forced conversion and mass murder. Dhimmitude, that secondary status of all "infidels" within an Islamic society, has been and remains an integral part of the society. Byzantium was once a thriving culture, the original home of Christianity, the pathway between East and West. Yet, over hundreds of years those Christian areas - Turkey, Syria, Southern Europe, Southern Russia - became Muslim through sheer force. One should remember that this was state/church policy, not the decision of isolated kingpins. Muslims believe that subjugation, slavery and unequal treatment are not only allowable but moral if it furthers the faith. Thus, the question is viewed differently from the start.
The writing is detailed, documented, researched. For the most part, the evidence comes from Muslim sources. If Islam has not exactly been open about its society (and it is strangely authoritarian in so many ways) it has not exactly covered up its past. No, it has celebrated the lack of diversity found in almost every Muslim country.
Lastly, the idea of Islamic tolerance. History has shown that the idea of "moderate" Islam is a chimera. The only way a Muslim state achieves tolerance is by ignoring Islam's teachings. Iran under the shah was a prime example: Religious pluralism was practiced, veils were not worn, alcohol was served, night clubs were frequent, art was popular. When religious zealots took control, the country descended into the abyss of ninth century madness. This book serves as a brilliant counterpoint to the argument that all cultures are morally equivalent - they aren't and never will be. It also serves as warning to the West.
38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2001
This is a book more than interesting, very impressive, analysing a subject semi-forgotten in the present days western societies, for reasons mainly related with political correctness convinience mixed with antichristian bias - islamic intolerance.
Contrarily to the common places currently spread about Islam until exhaustion by the multiculturalist lobby - the greatness of the arab civilization and, especially, the tolerance shown to christians and jews -, Bat Ye'or's work presents a cruder reality far away from such myths, depicting Islam - fairly, in my point of view - as a plunderer religion that sacked not only materially but also spiritually and culturally the peoples that fell under his domination - sirian nestorians, egiptian copts, persian zoroastrians and greek orthodoxs, etc. -, such a cultural sack being the main cause of the pretense islamic civilizational creativity.
Another topic of great interest in this book, it is the demonstration done by the author that Islam, historically, showed an intense intolerance to the believers of others religions, commonly, christians and jews. It is true that Islam does not force to conversion, but christians and jews were usually reduced, under islamic rule, to a status of permanent humiliation, to a kind of second class citizenship. For example, they were forbidden to exercise publicly their religions, to identify externally or repair their temples, to build new one or practise any kind of proselitism, being forced to pay, by the simple reason that they were not muslims, a tribute known as "dhimmi", a kind of religious tax, from where the author derives the word "dhimmitude" to define the condition of the conquered peoples under Islam.
This is, as I said initially, a very impressive book that analyses some of the main points of the muslim behaviour towards the followers of others religions and essential concepts like "jihad", "dhimmi" or "devshirme", giving a decisive aid to the understanding of the real nature of Islam.
The fact that all the assertions done by the author are supported by historical sources from muslim and non muslim origins, it is an additional point of value to the book.
I intend to read also Bat Ye'ors other books and V.S. Naipaul's "Beyond Belief".
73 of 78 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2000
No Muslim of good will needs to fear this book. The author states explicitly that the book is about the suffering endured by Christians in the regions ruled by Muslims, from the birth of Islam to the early 20th century--and that is a perfectly legitimate subject. She carefully distinguishes the achievements of Islamic civilization from the sufferings of the Christian peoples and states in so many words that "this book is not about Islam." The book is based on twenty-five years of research and about 1/3 of it is taken up with primary sources in English translation: opinions of Muslim jurists, narratives of Christian chroniclers, diplomatic postings from European ambassadors to various Islamic countries. The book is one-sided, but necessarily so, given its brief. Her conclusions seemed to me to be restrained and sober; she lets the facts, which are amply documented, speak for themselves; and she quotes extensively from contemporary/eyewitness accounts of dhimmitude, allowing the voice of the "protected" peoples to be heard, often for the first time. Indeed, this is one of the few books on the subject available. It is understandable that many Muslims will resent the book as an attack on Islam. It is not. Christians in the West have had to reexamine their own history with regard to the sufferings of the Jews and anti-semitism, that is, to see their own history through Jewish eyes. Muslims in the West will have to see their history reexamined through Christian eyes. This scrutiny cannot be avoided and need not be resented or feared.
84 of 91 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2003
This very courageous book describes in considerable detail the condition of non-Muslims living under Islamic rule, referring mainly to the plight of Jews and Christians and the painful decline of these communities due to oppression and prejudice.
I find this book very appropriate for our time where the politicisation of racial prejudice, segregation, apartheid and indeed genocide have become quite common-place in the Middle East. I of course refer to their erroneous use by Islamic entities against Israel in relation to the Palestinian issue.
This book reveals how these claims lack any true substance and fall flat on their face when compared with the realities of `dhimmitude', (which the writer describes as the status of conquered Jews & Christians under Islam), that reveal the painful, disturbing policy of prejudice, racial hatred and segregation of countless people who were classed as inferior on the basis of their religion alone.
No actions here being taken as deterrents against the terrorism and violence of today's Mid-East. Just socially acceptable Islamic conduct against peoples who were classed as inferior.
The book, drawing heavily on quotes from the Quran, the Hadith and writings from many renowned Islamic historians, reveals many distinctions drawn and prejudices applied upon Jews and Christians who refused to accept and bow to Islam. The veracity behind any profession of Islam as a tolerant and peaceful religion will soon reveal itself to the reader.
One example revealed by the writer is that Islamic legislation does not even recognise any validity in the sworn oath of a `dhimmi' against that of a Muslim. The principle being based on the Islamic belief in the 'perverse and mendacious' character of the Jewish/Christian `infidel', which even extends into matters involving the frequent allegations of blasphemy directed against `dhimmis' which were punishable by death !
Other reviewers have commendably dealt with the wealth of detail and information here. Suffice to say that this book is highly recommended for anyone who wishes a further insight into the Islamic/Muslim mindset and much of the culture of the Middle East. It will send chills down the spines of readers when they consider that Islamic activists today still seek the `Islamisation' of the West.
47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on May 24, 2002
Was 9/11 the work of religious fanatics, or was it consistent with 13 centuries of Islamic treatment of outsiders? Despite the fact the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon were attacked, there has been an amazing resurgence of pro-Islamic rhetoric in the United States. Despite the fact that Islam has enslaved more people than any other religion in history, the far left insists that we tolerate Islamic ideas. Despite the fact that Islam dehumanizes both its own women and non-Muslims, the far left (the bastion for human rights and women) is fascinatingly pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli. How can these things be? Read this book!
Ye'or variously describes the heart-rending atrocities committed under 13 centuries of Islamic rule, the character of cultural and economic subservience required of non-Muslims, the theological requirement of holy war (jihad), and the religious foundations of Islamic hatred of the West. She also helps one understand how Islam helped to drive the wedge between Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox even deeper. But this is not just an historical study. With powerful acumen Ye'or notes the political and economic motivations behind the 18th through 20th century European ideologoues who co-opted the truth about Islam.
Ye'or's ability to synthesize the historical, political, cultural, and religious elements of Islamic dhimmitude marks her as a scholar of vast ability. One hopes that moderate Muslims will have the courage both to respond to her critiques and take up the debate as to the true nature of Islam.
57 of 61 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2002
This is a very special book because of the uniqueness of its message. Very few writers would even dare to contemplate writing a book which portrays Islam in a bad light. The author has done a great justice to humanity by acting as a voice for those without a voice (i.e. the Dhimmi both past and present) in today's politically correct world.
JIHAD is what the Quran has in store for the Unbelievers:
"When you meet the unbelievers, strike off their heads; then when you have made wide slaughter among them, carefully tie up the remaining captives."
"If you do not fight, Allah will punish you severely, and put others in your place."
"Those who die fighting for the only true religion, Islam, will be amply rewarded in the life to come"
"Fight the unbelievers in your surroundings, and let them find harshness in you."
"Kill the unbelievers wherever you find them, capture and besiege them and prepare for them every kind of ambush."
"Kill those who join other gods with God wherever you may find them"
"It is a grave sin for a Muslim to shirk the battle against the unbelievers, those who do will roast in hell"
"DHIMMITUDE" as used by the Author is the status of the conquered Jews and Christians in Muslim lands.
In this book, the Author has proved that ISLAM IS INDEED A TOLERANT RELIGION!!! Tolerance of course, does not mean equality or a dignified existence. On the contrary, you tolerate someone despite or notwithstanding the feeling of revulsion towards the person. Muhammad hated the Dhimmi because they rejected him as a Prophet.
Muslim 71 The Prophet said: ". . . The Jew or Christian who hears about me but does not affirm his belief... shall be one of the denizens of Hell-fire.
"The Jews and Christians and the Pagans will burn forever in the fire of hell. They are the vilest of all creatures." (98:6)
A Dhimmi was not allowed to defend his wife if she was assaulted. If he was murdered by a Muslim, the perpetrator would only have to pay a fine provided that Muslim witnesses step forward to testify. But the Dhimmi were tolerated in the true sense of the word because unlike the Kaffir they were not compelled to embrace Islam. Muslims from conservative Muslim lands naively boast of their tolerance because Notwithstanding early Jews and Christians distorted the Scriptures and Notwithstanding that the Dhimmi obstinately refuse to believe the truth after it had been revealed by Muhammad they were allowed to retain their beliefs.
African-Americans lived under oppressive conditions under the Jim Crow laws in the South. Using the same analogy, Americans should say they have a history of tolerance in respect of African-Americans because they were not killed or expelled.
The Muslims say the Dhimmi are protected peoples. Protection from who? I wonder.
I am also grateful to the Author for debunking the deceptions as espoused by Muslim apologists who have gone as far as to negate any historical fact which portray Islam in a negative light. The Armenian Genocide never happened. In fact, Armenian rebels (in league with the Russians) rose up against the peace-loving Ottoman regime.
We now even hear that Jews and Christians reached a golden age in Islamic Spain and the Ottoman Empire. This is notwithstanding that hundreds of Jews between 1010 and 1013 near Cordoba and the entire Jewish community of roughly 4000 in Granada during the Muslim riots of 1066 were massacred and that the religion which the great Spanish Jew, Maimonides was forced to convert to was Islam and not Christianity. Christian children were forcibly taken in the Ottoman Empire to become janissaries. Albanians were forced to accept Islam.
But if you were to believe John Esposito and Karen Armstrong, these never happened or there was some sort of justification. These views go very well with many politically correct Western readers who blame all the world's problems on Western Imperialism and Christian bigotry.
The objectives of this negation of historical facts by Muslim apologists are:
1) To CONVERT WESTERNERS to Islam. The Muslims in the West are often asked by their infidel friends and potential converts whether the atrocities and the harsh treatment of unbelievers associated with Islam are true. If they reply `yes', then the next question would be whether they are condoned by the Quran. By negating the truth (ie. saying `no' to the first question) prevents further questions on what the Quran really says. Furthermore, this goes hand in hand with "Islam means Peace" and "Islam is an Abrahamaic Faith like Judaism and Christianity". (Since the 1600s, Muslim proselyters have been successful in winning converts among Christians in the Balkans and Anatolia by using the approach "We believe in the same God" and "We revere Jesus too"). Only once these Liberal Americans like John Walker Lindh (who was described by his mother as kind and gentle) become part of the Ummah, would they be initiated into the sympathies and plight of their brethren.
2) PROPAGANDA AGAINST THE WEST. Since the Middle East has always been Arab and Anatolia always Turkish (or in the alternative, the indigenous peoples enthusiastically embraced Islam) by initiating military action such as the Crusades, the West has greatly wronged the Muslims. It provides justification against the West for 9/11.
I watched an Eqyptian movie about Saladin. Upon defeating the Crusaders at the Horns of Hattin, it was portrayed that he liberated the Christians of Jerusalem, when in fact he had most of the Christian soldiers decapitated and the Christians of Jerusalem sold as slaves. In my national news, only Israeli atrocities are aired not Palestinian bombings. It is no wonder that the Muslims always feel wronged. Meanwhile, Esposito and Armstrong are doing their part in cultivating a Muslim bias in the West.
The success of Islam's PR men are self-evident. The Christian victims have now become the perpetrators.
For the above reasons, I give the Author's work 10 stars.
49 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2002
Bravo! As a non-Muslim living among Muslims I'll say the author has done a fantastic job. I am indebted to people like her, Daniel Pipes, Paul Fregosi for daring to go against the current of political correctness....not to mention risking one's life for painting a negative picture of this certain religion which ironically means "Peace".
When was the last time you heard Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu or Bahai "martyrs" hijacking planes and blowing themselves up in embassies, buses, ships and discos? When was the last time you heard Protestant ministers, Catholic priests, Buddhist monks etc issuing a fatwa calling for death against unbelievers, apostates, adulteress and blasphemers? If terrorist attacks are committed by a an extremist minority within Islam, then what have the Christian, Jewish extremists been doing? If it is true that it was "Islam which was hijacked" on 9/11, then why aren't the Muslim clerics issuing fatwas calling for the death of Osama bin Laden and his allies who planned the hijack ....not to mention the tens of thousands who danced on the streets in Muslims countries after Islam was hijacked?
Muslim armies conquered and promote Islam throughout Arabia, then to the Middle East, North Africa, Persia, Anatolia and India ...and then to Spain.... and then to the Balkans. How else would have "tolerant" Islam spread if not by the sword?!! Thanks to the author, this book shed light into how Christian and Jews lived as dhimmis under Islamic rule. Although this is a "history" book, one must not forget that oppresion on a similar scale as that of dhimmis or Non-Muslims still occur today in Sudan and Iran. Even today, not even in the most moderate of Muslim countries such as Turkey and Malaysia are non-Muslism in practice treated equally.