"Hvis frihed overhovedet betyder noget, så betyder det retten til at fortælle folk det, de ikke vil høre"

George Orwell

Bat Ye'or's Speech in Copenhagen

26. september 2009 - Artikel

Ladies and Gentlemen, dear friends,
Let me first congratulate the Free Press Society and the “Islam-critical Network”, for holding a very timely conference on a most important subject. I am very grateful for your kind invitation.

Few words today are as crucially important to understand current events as the word ‘dhimmitude’. Yet this term is not only unknown to the general public but also banned from universities and the general media.

Attempting to understand our times without understanding the meaning of dhimmitude is tantamount to analysing the twentieth century without knowing the ideologies which shaped it: communism, fascism, Nazism.

Yet, too few Westerners grasp that the concept of dhimmitude is crucial not only to understand the relationship between Islam and non-Islam, but also for their own future, because the struggle by Western and free societies will be fought against dhimmitude.

The safeguard of our rights and freedoms will be decided on the battleground against dhimmitude. It is therefore our most imperative duty – the duty of politicians, intellectuals and theologians – to educate and prepare the youth to understand the meaning of their fighting and sacrifice and not to be confused with the accusation of xenophobia and racism.

Dhimmitude represents the civilisation of non-Muslim people conquered by jihad and subjected to sharia law. For many it has lasted more than thirteen centuries and continues till today. The laws that institutionalise dhimmitude are determined by the Koran and the Sunnah, the two pillars on which Muslim governments have until now based their internal and external policies.

The term ‘dhimmitude’ does not refer just to isolated incidents. I gave the name ‘dhimmitude’ to a comprehensive theological, legal and social system encompassing thirteen centuries of interactions between Muslims and non-Muslims on three continents. Dhimmitude is a structure inherent to Islam, it is not fortuitous.

The basic foundations of Islam – the Koran, hadiths, sira and sharia – are connected with the political, economic and social system of dhimmitude, and constitute its basis and its immutability. Too few Westerners grasp that the concept of dhimmitude is crucial to understand the relationship between Islam and non-Islam.

Dhimmitude is linked to jihad. Jihad and dhimmitude are the two sides of the same coin: Islam. You do not know jihad if you do not know dhimmitude. One does not know dhimmitude if one does not know jihad. Jihad is waged against non-Muslims in order to force them into dhimmitude, if they refuse to convert. In the same way as jihad is a well structured war-ideology, with rules and praxis, so is dhimmitude: an unending and comprehensive set of religious laws that regulate the relationships between Muslims and subjected non-Muslims (dhimmis). Because jihad and dhimmitude are rooted in the Koran and the hadiths, these concepts cannot be changed nor abolished. The Koran is not like the Bible, the Koran is considered the uncreated word of Allah. And while the Bible is the compilation of several different books written at different periods and can be therefore reinterpreted, the Koran is considered as the eternal uncreated words of Allah, consubstantial with its eternal essence. Jihad and dhimmitude are two theological and legal Islamic institutions that shaped traditional Muslim behaviour toward non-Muslims.

Allow me to summarise a few of the most important characteristics of dhimmitude, but first we have to understand the aims of jihad, keeping in mind that today many Muslims ignore or reject its traditional meaning. However, we are speaking here of a legal and ideological institution structured by laws and not about individuals who might accept it, refuse it or struggle against it.

Jihad was waged against non-Muslims simply because they had no right to life. The natural and fundamental right to live that belongs to any person, sacralised in the Bible by the commandment: ‘You shall not kill’, is recognised only for Muslims, but not to non-Muslims in the jihadist context. The latter are granted the right to life only if they submit to Islam, that is if they accept to enter into the system of dhimmitude having refused conversion. This is the reason that triggers jihad and makes it an unending war. Jihad was waged in order to kill or impose dhimmitude to non-Muslim peoples. Muslims must fight the infidels until they have been subjected. In the jihadist context, we must understand that the right to life for non-Muslims is granted by Muslim tolerance only upon certain conditions, not by imprescriptibly natural laws. This is the meaning of Muslim tolerance and the acceptance of this basic principle is the beginning of dhimmitude.

On the Muslim Brotherhood website we find the following explanation by Hassan al Banna, the founder of the movement:

Jihad is the means of spreading the Islamic call and of preserving the sacred principles of Islam. This is another religious duty imposed by Allah on the Muslim, just as He imposed fasting, prayer, pilgrimage, alms, and the doing of good and abandoning of evil. He has imposed Jihad upon them, and entrusted them with it. He did not excuse anyone possessing the strength and ability from performing it, for it is a Qur’anic verse which is imperative a warning, and an exhortation which is binding: ‘March forth, light and heavy, and strive with your wealth and your persons in Allah’s way!’ (Surat-at-Tauba (9), ayah 41)

The Muslims have travelled to the furthest countries of the earth with the Qur’an on their chests, their homes on their saddles and their swords in their hands, and with the clear proof on the tips of their tongues, inviting mankind to accept Islam or the paying of jizya, or else face combat. Anyone who accepted Islam became their brother; what was theirs became his too. Anyone who paid the jizya was under their protection and liability, they stood by his rights, observing the pact made with him, and faithfully keeping to the conditions accepted by him. Anyone who remained unyielding was fought by them until God granted them victory..

Jihad is an extremely important element in Islam and its ethic is never questioned because it is based on the Koran and the words and acts of the Prophet. This is the reason why jihad is never seen as an unjust and genocidal war of conquest and is never criticized. Today the European leaders when they speak of Islamic tolerance adopt an Islamic vision of history.

As the noted scholar Bassam Tibi stressed, peace in Islam only exists among Muslims, but not between Muslims and non-Muslims.  “Peace” with a non-Muslim requires his conversion or his submission (dhimmitude). Tibi cites the Koranic obligation to Islamize the planet (Koran 34:28) and specifies that for Muslims, the ‘struggle’ (jihad) along the path of Allah to extend his law in the world is not a war but a pious and just activity, and a duty of religious obedience.  The real aggressors are the non-Muslims who oppose the Islamization of their country. They are the ones responsible for wars, since if they did not oppose Muslim conquests, the massacres resulting from these fights could have been avoided.  Peace would reign if they complied with the call of Islam (da’wa), either by conversion or submission.  Non-Muslims alone are guilty of provoking wars by their resistance to the wishes of Allah, forcing Muslims to combat them by jihad. We see, therefore, that in the Islamic conception the terms ‘aggressors’ and ‘aggressed’ are reversed.

If we turn to the present situation we see that our European leaders accept this Islamic view by pretending that the responsibilities of wars and injustices on the planet are the fault of the West and particularly Israel. They adopt the Islamic view that sees in unbelief and self-defense the source of all evils and aggressions. And this reinforces jihadist determination to eliminate non-Islamic religions or bring them under the control of Islam.

In the same way that jihad was perpetrated during thirteen centuries, in the same way dhimmitude exists since the beginning of jihad and will last as long as jihad lasts. Entire civilizations and their people disappeared in dhimmitude, and this could also be Europe’s fate. The rules of dhimmitude are numerous and comprehensive; they are applied today in all Muslim countries against religious minorities. They cannot be abolished because they are enshrined in the sharia. Some of these rules are being introduced today in Europe. We do not realize this because we ignore them – for instance the rule of blasphemy is now applied in Europe and at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

I don’t have the time to examine the multidimensional aspects of dhimmitude, a concept that pertains to a fourteen-centuries-old civilization, but I will summarize some aspects:

1) Jews and Christians have the same dhimmi status: they are expropriated and cannot own land in their own countries, which by jihad have been transferred to the ummah, the only legitimate heirs of Allah’s earth. They are forbidden to possess weapons, to defend themselves in case of aggression, to testify in a sharia court because their oath is worthless in relation to a Muslim. Severe restrictions apply to their religious buildings, cemeteries, and special quarters. They were forced to wear special clothes and to behave according to discriminatory rules. Dhimmis also should not exercise any authority over Muslims.

2)  The first step of dhimmitude is the purchase by the infidel of the right to life. This is done it by paying the jizya, a Koranic tax (9:29). The jizya’s symbolism expresses a fundamental dimension of the theological and political relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims.

3) The other important point is that the dhimmi must publicly acknowledge the greatness of Islam and its superiority. This, of course, has been stated repeatedly by many of our leaders and by Obama. But we never hear any Muslim leaders lauding the greatness and achievements of the Judeo-Christian civilization. In Muslim countries, before Europe had abolished the laws of dhimmitude, dhimmis by their appearance and behaviour, had to testify to the superiority of Muslims because this is a fundamental justification for jihad and domination. If dhimmis didn’t conform to these rules they could be killed. Now we see that our leaders obsequiously repeat the dhimmi genuflexion.

4) Another rule of dhimmitude is the prohibition for dhimmis to criticize Islam. This is tantamount to blasphemy and is punishable by death. Of course, we all know that this sharia rule is applied in Europe under the generic term of ‘Islamophobia’. Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan even stated that Islamophobia is a crime against humanity.  

The ‘Islamophobia’ concept forbids any criticism of Islam, hence we again found ourselves in a dhimmi position. Our leaders repeatedly praise the tolerance and justice of Islamic government. Praises and gratitude, constituted an integral part of the obligations required from the dhimmi. The myth of peaceful coexistence strengthens Islamic doctrine. It confirms the perfection of sharia. The slightest criticism of the dhimmi status is rejected, as it undermines the doctrine of the perfection of Islamic law and government.

5) Humiliation. Not only the dhimmi must constantly laud Islam, but he must be humiliated. And is it not humiliating to affirm constantly that Western civilization owes its sciences and arts from Islam, especially when you know it is not true?

6) The dhimmi suffers also from cultural amnesia and loss of identity because his culture has been Islamized. Muslims do not recognise the existence of Judeo-Christian civilization and values. For them, the Bible is a falsification of the Koran. The Biblical Patriarchs, the Prophets, the Hebrew kings and Jesus are all Muslim prophets who professed Islam. Jews and Christians have stolen them from the Koran and claim that they are theirs. Judaism nor Christianity have any roots nor history in the Holy Land.

Dhimmitude is imposed by force, by war and fear – today by terror or by corrupting leaders. In the system of dhimmitude it is the leaders who imposed the rules of dhimmitude on their own people. They have the duty to bring them to understand that, if they do not comply with its rules, they will suffer death or economic and terrorist reprisals. This is how the dhimmitude system functioned throughout history.

We live in a time of renewed jihad and therefore of enforced dhimmitude. We shouldn’t be astonished. The new Charter of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) stipulates that its mission is to unify and root the universal ummah in the Koran and the Sunnah. There is a whole dynamic of re-Islamization of the ummah on a universal scale. The Muslim states want to achieve the ummah’s political and religious unification in order to recreate the Caliphate.

We might ask ourselves how the concept of dhimmitude is relevant today. The point is that, propelled by billions of petrodollars and the complacency of European governments the jihadist ideology of world conquest is flourishing on every world stage, aided by the rival interests of the Western powers and by globalism. The driving force behind this process is the OIC, which has been dedicated since its creation in 1969 to the destruction of Israel and the conquest of the West.

It is the condition of dhimmitude that transformed populations – once free to govern their own countries and build the most refined and powerful civilisations of their times – into minority groups of amnesic survivors subjected to humiliation, insecurity and fear, yet grateful to their oppressors who had Islamized their countries, now covered with fragments of their ruined history. The dynamics and ideology behind these transformations are still active today, but are barely detected because their history and mechanisms are unknown. However, this is still happening in Sudan, Nigeria, Egypt, Iraq, the Philippines, and of course in the unrelenting war against Israel.

The history of dhimmitude, that is the analysis of the chain of political, economic and social events which inevitably drove the peoples targeted by jihad towards decadence and their disintegration, with the Islamization of their governments, their institutions and their laws, is a history forbidden and denied today in Europe. Studies conducted according to Western criteria that are based on objective examination of events relating to the progression of jihad, the conquest of territories and treatment of the defeated people, are unacceptable – and even judged by the Muslim religious dogma as blasphemous. This is because jihad: ideology, strategy and praxis, constitutes a sacred category of Islamic thought and civilisation that is beyond any criticism.

Not only is Europe betraying the foundations and criteria of critical thought, on which its culture is based, but it is blocking an understanding of current phenomena by suppressing the past. And yet the leaders of the EU are well acquainted with this past. Through their embassies and numerous intelligence services they are made fully aware of the ordeals of dhimmitude as experienced today by indigenous Christian and other religious minorities in the Muslim world. This silence and denial represent a deliberate, strategic and security choice on which, for the past forty years, Europe has based its Arab and Muslim policy when it decided to back ‘Palestine’ against Israel in order to protect itself from Arafat’s PLO terror. This evolution gives rise to unhealthy situations in a climate of latent terrorism, inner city violence, legitimisation of antisemitism and, particularly, hatred directed at Israel. It is this denial of Israel’s right of self-defence and freedom against Palestinian jihadist terror that characterises the transformation of Europe into Eurabia, a continent supporting jihad ideology – politically and financially.

Hassan Albanna, IkhwanWeb - Cairo, Egypt, To What Do We Invite Humanity (accessed May 31, 2009).


Bassam Tibi, «War and Peace in Islam » in Islamic Political Ethics. Civil Society, Pluralism, and Conflict, ed. by Sohail H. Hashmi, with a Foreword by Jack Miles, Princeton University Press, 2002, pp. 175-93.                           

Thomas Seibert, «Enmity with Islam ‘crime against humanity’», The National, 17 sept. 2008.

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