Frederick P. Isaac

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Articles and book information on Assyrian issues including contemporary history, experiences under Islamic rule, leadership and Assyrian aspirations to nationhood.


Indigenous Peoples

Under the Rule of Islam

 

by Frederick P. Isaac

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PART II
 

THE RISE AND SPREAD OF

THE MESSAGE (AL-DA’AWA)

 

(Ghazu) Raid

 

 

In the pre Islamic period, there were two trading months that were known in the desert of the Arab Peninsula as the two ‘Forbidden Months’ (also known as the ‘Sacred Months’). Arab tribes and individuals were forbidden to launch (Ghazu) raids and attacks during these two trading months. The tradition was respected throughout the whole Peninsula, mainly for safety of the travellers and trade and survival of the Arab desert’s economy. During that period, there was a complete cessation of hostility in the Arab Peninsula. Safe passage was guaranteed to all people. They travelled and went about their business and returned to their dwelling place without fear of being attacked. (Ghazu) Raids stopped. Personal attacks stopped. Acts of vendetta stopped. Caravans, traders, all sorts of people travelled and went about their business in safety across the Sahara Desert without fear of being attacked. Before the Emergence of Islam, people travelled to the city of Mecca from all parts of the Arab Peninsula and neighbouring countries. Mecca was a commercial and religious centre. They traded merchandise and bartered their stock and goods. People sought soothsayers, paid homage to their gods and exchanged information. Mecca was a busy city, brisk, full of life and throbbing with activity. In SOUK OKADH market, the people celebrated the most famous annual fair. It was held in the city centre. There, people recited boastful poems of chivalry, generosity and amour. Others told stories of adventure, of gallantry and heroism in eloquent rhythmic prose. It was an annual festival. It became a traditional custom that they enjoyed and respected. It attracted business, energised the heartbeat of the city to maintain the landmark of its traditional centre and enhance the growth of its economy.

After the two 'forbidden months’ were over, hostilities resumed. Tribes launched (Ghazu) raids on each other. Tribesmen raided caravans, killed, looted, kidnapped, engaged in slave trade and continued in pursuit of their chaotic lifestyle and acts of vendetta and blood feuds (Pryce-Jones, 1989: pp 258-259).

With the emergence of Islam, instead of continuing in their old traditional way of tribal feuds in the desert of the Arab Peninsula, the prophet unified the Arab clans under the banner of Islam and re-directed their energy and attacks of the nomadic tribes against its non-Muslim surroundings. Islam changed the concept of the pre-Islamic (Ghazu) raids into battles of (Jihad) holy war. It sanctioned its traditional raids and practice of appropriation through Jihad. Islam legalized Jihad against pagan cults, as well as the Jewish and Christian religions. Killing of their enemies and confiscating their properties during Jihad became lawful. Jihad and pillage went hand in hand, together. Belief in the redemption of the soul and assertion of the true faith was reaffirmed in their concept through the successful jihad raids. The speed with which Judaism and Christianity crumbled before the ferocity of the Islamic forces, led the Muslim leaders to believe in the primacy of their Allah over Jehovah and the Muhammadan religion above all others. Islam was hence considered as the supreme religion, superseding all other religions and Muhammad as the Seal - the last of the prophets. Islam confronts both Judaism and Christianity, believing in itself as the conclusion and fulfilment of the Jewish Torah and the Christian New Testament. In addition to Judaism and Christianity, Islam is intolerant of all other religions. Its main objective is their elimination and replacement with the Muhammadan religion, considering all religions before Islam as obsolete. Such deep conviction led them to risky ventures that entitled them to booty and paradise through martyrdom. Islamic militants justify their actions of force by associating them with the concept of Jihad, the struggle for Allah.

Islam recognizes Jihad as a religious duty. Islamic religious organisations operating in Islamic countries indoctrinate jihad in their manifesto with the formal approval of their government. Jihad promotes and propagates Islam by open threats and violence. Mujahideen view Jihad, holy war, as an obligatory duty. To affirm that, militant groups give themselves religious names such as Hizb-Allah (The Party of God) in Lebanon, Junoud Muhammad (Muhammad's Soldiers) in Jordan, Ikhwan Al-Muslimeen (Muslim Brotherhood) in Egypt etc. Considering Jihad as an extension of the Islamic religion, the mujahideen expect protection and gratitude from their sponsors and the clergy. Since (Jihad) is part of the doctrine created by such a religious-state system, it eventually leads to a situation where mujahideen resort to extreme violence, with all its ugly forms. Responsibility for such actions ends up with the religious authority, namely, the Islamic government, backed by the clergy.

Vying with Saudi Arabia for a better inscription on its flag of the verse, which reads that there is ‘No god but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah’ underlined with a deadly unsheathed sword, Iran removed the monarch’s symbol of the crown from its flag and replaced it with ‘Allah’. Iraq, in competition with both Saudi Arabia and Iran, has added “Allaho Akbar” to its flag. Islamic animosity, violence and continued abuse of human rights are depicted in their aggressive warlike slogans and catchcry threats. Such banner-heads give the impression that militant organizations in such government systems are staunchly Islamic and that secularisation is inconceivable. Democratisation based on secular constitutional reforms is undesirable by these Islamic states and, therefore, pluralism is discouraged, and becomes hard to attain.

The mujahideen are operative instruments in the hands of their religious leaders. Islamic power and authority are made up of two elements: the Sword and the Book. Islam cannot have one without the other. They were twinborn, grew up together, and became a socio-political system under the banner of Islam. In Islam, the sword is as essential as knowledge of the Koran and Hadeeth (saying and deeds of the prophet) to promote and maintain Islamic communities. Social and political freedom exist and are exercised only within the Islamic Shari’ah Law. They are sanctioned by the clergy, headed by a Mufti (head of the Islamic clergy). Islamic societies are prisoners of the clergy in their interpretation of the Koran and the Hadeeth. Whether right or wrong, acceptable or not, the Islamic society will have to abide by them or face (fatwa) religious edict and retribution. In the process, the ethnic communities are dragged along and become victims of the Islamic (shari’ah) law.

 

 

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