Monday, March 19, 2012

Dhimmitude! What the Word Means and What It Should Mean for Us

     Two years ago, I was blissfully ignorant of the word dhimmitude. Then I opened my email and read a message breathlessly telling me that, if I didn’t act upon it by preventing the growth of the Muslim population, Western Civilization was doomed. Since I was never told specifically what I had to do to keep Muslims from procreating (throw cold water on them, perhaps?), I suppose Western Civilization is doomed. (Another word comes to mind: Dhammitall!)
     From time to time, I continue to receive messages from panic-stricken people in a Kevin McCarthy mode about Muslims out to get us all. (See video below.)  Recently I decided to look into the word. 
     Before I consulted Internet sources, I used my linguistic talents, along with the excited message I’d received, to figure out what I could.
     The suffix –tude at the end of the word indicates that it’s a noun of Western origin. Hmm, I had been told that it was a Muslim word. (I’ll bet you didn’t know that Muslim was even a language.) This indicated to me that dhimmitude, which is often spelled with an exclamation point, is not a word Muslims use but one that certain non-Muslims use about Muslims.

     I should say something about the diacritical mark. Many words that come into English from foreign words have odd little marks called diacritical marks. Some examples are the tilde in the word señor, the cedilla in the word façade, or the acute accent in the word élan. Some words, such as resume (or résumé), may be spelled with or without the diacritical mark. I suppose dhimmitude (or dhimmitude!) is another example; but I must say that the exclamation point is the strangest diacritical mark I’ve ever seen.
     The word dhimmitude was coined by two Lebanese politicians—neither of them Muslims—attempting to transform fear and hatred into votes in 1982. The suggestion was that Muslims wanted to subordinate the majority Christian population to Muslim control.  Since one of these two demagogues was murdered, it appears that they succeeded in stirring up hatred, though not with the result they had intended.
     A writer calling herself Bat Ye'or took the ball and ran with it. In a book review, Prof. James E. Biechler wrote of her, "Perhaps the single most significant contribution of the author is her definition and development of the concept of 'dhimmitude.'” (link)  That definition, simply put, is that dhimmitude is the system by which Muslims control non-Muslims. (Note the emotionally loaded word control.)
     Bat Ye’or isn’t her real name any more than Batman is Bruce Wayne’s real name; and, unlike Batman, she doesn't wear black underwear over her face. Her real name is Gisèle Littman (link)  Many converts to Islam display their change of religion by adopting Middle Eastern-sounding names. If that’s what Bat Ye’or was thinking, she was a bit unclear on the concept.
     Thus we have it that the person most responsible for our understanding of the word dhimmitude was someone who devoted her life to writing books bashing Muslims. Yet we’re told that dhimmitude is a—(ahem!)—Muslim word.
     The word dhimmi is an Arabic word that is used by Muslims. Its basic meaning is, “protected ones.” It refers to a system by which the religious and cultural freedoms of non-Muslims are protected in predominantly Muslim societies.
     A word of caution is necessary here. There are at least six branches of Islam: five are Sunni and one is Shiite.  They’re as different from one another as Catholics, Baptists, Quakers, Amish, Pentecostals, and Mormons. While we can make certain general statements, we can expect occasional variatons.
     According to Muslim concepts of dhimmi, non-Muslims (known as dhimmis) may, for example, consume pork or alcohol, but not in public. Dhimmis are also excused from other obligations to which Muslims are held, but they’re equal under the laws of property, contract, and other obligations. Dhimmis are exempt from paying taxes, but they do have to make payments in lieu of taxes. In some countries, these payments are called tribute; in others they’re called contributions, charity, or something else. The essential difference between payments from Muslims and payments from dhimmis lies in what the payments are called.
     While non-Muslims during the Middle Ages generally were subject to the same military duties as Muslims, they weren’t required to participate in religious wars.  Thus, when the crusaders invaded Palestine, Christians and other non-Muslims were not required to participate in the defense of the Holy Land.
     A few centuries earlier, after the Roman Empire fell, and Muslims assumed control over Palestine, Jews living there tended to see this change as a “change for the better.” Because Jews were given greater protection under Muslim rule than under Christian rule in Europe, many Jews moved to Palestine.
     Just as those of us in the West have a concept of a republic—that each person, however much in the minority he may be, has rights that must be protected within society—Muslims have this concept of dhimmi, which is based on a similar idea. For more information on this concept, click here
     Today, Jews are found living throughout the Middle East. For example, Iran has one of the world’s largest Jewish populations.  In the Middle East, Iran's Jewish population is second only to that of Israel, the latter of which is mostly of Central European rather than those of Abrahamic origin more commonly found in Iran. Zoroastrians, Christians, and Jews are reserved seats in the Iranian Majlis (Parliament). (link)  
     It’s worth noting that, Sharia banking is preferred to Western-style banking because the Koran, the Bible, and the Torah forbid usury. In Sharia banking, the banker invests rather than loans; thus, the banker doesn’t make money unless the client—known in the West as the “borrower” or the “Muppet” (video and video)—makes money. Derivatives are forbidden under Sharia banking. A similar arrangement is available for private borrowers. I haven’t heard of even one predominantly Muslim country to suffer the toxic, Goldman Sachs-style banking scandals that have rocked the entire Western world since 2007.  
     I’m certainly glad that the Internet trolls and Islamophobes got me interested enough to learn about Islam for myself. Without really intending to do so, they caused me to gain much more respect for the Muslims than I’d previously had.  I hope you have as well.
    While researching for this article, I ran across some video clips that should serve as a lessons for us all.  In the first, Christians in Egypt form a protective ring around Muslim worshipers.   
      In the next, Egyptian Muslims form a protective ring around Coptic Christian worshipers.  (I'm sorry.  Some technical difficulties are preventing me from uploading videos today.  Click the link below.)
(here) 
     In the United States, a Muslim is injured coming to the aid of a Jewish stranger who is attacked by ten alleged "Christians."  (Same as before.  Please click the link.)  (here)
     Now, I wish someone would coin a word to describe the system of “control” under which Americans currently live. We pay our taxes to Wall Street, fight wars for Israel, depend on the corporate-owned media for our news, and look to Monsanto for our daily bread.  There has to be a better way.

3 comments:

  1. This is an excellent read. I wish more people would learn and practice tolerance instead of living and perpetrating ignorance with their so called phobias. Islam in itself is not bad, however there are a few who follow their own rules and because they practice Islam they claim their rules as what is Islam. The Quran however does not promote their views.

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  2. You're lies show you to be a Mohammedan.

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