So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. (Mt. 10:32-33 / RSV)
With riots in Egypt, Bahrain, and probably soon Saudi Arabia, we see a growing unrest in the Muslim world, calls for the overthrow of Israel, and even hear calls for a global Islamic Caliphate by leading proponents (such as the Muslim Brotherhood) of that very unrest. With allied support for these efforts from within our own government and worldwide socialist organizations, these efforts seem to be making progress. Many commentators, even secular ones insist that this poses no concern for Christians. Yet, in an increasing number of countries such as Iraq, Pakistan, Egypt, Somalia, Kenya, India, and Indonesia, we are witnessing Islamic persecution of Christians growing sharply.
Even in our own country, we see increasing efforts by CAIR and others (like the groups in Dearborn, MI) to undermine our Constitutionally protected religious freedoms by pressing for Sharia (Islamic Law) to become the governing law of the land. After blithely ignoring guarantees of religious freedom in the U.S. Constitution, proponents and protectors of Radical Islam insist that this is really a good thing for everyone and presents no problem; asserting that fellow “People of the Book” (Christians and Jews), would be “protected” with Dhimmi status, in any case.
These events force consideration of two questions; (1) What has Dhimmitude under Sharia looked like so far in Muslim countries?, and (2) is this a status that Bible-believing Christians could accept, in good conscience?
First, a bit of background…
Jihad is the Islamic struggle to bring the world into union with the will of Allah. In Classical Islam, the theology/ideology of jihad has been formulated and clarified by Muslim theologians from the eighth century onward. The theology of jihad consistantly separates humanity into two competing blocks; Muslims, and the Infidels (non-believers). According to proponents of jihad, Allah commands that Muslims conquer the Infidel world and apply Allah’s Koranic laws. In this form of Islam, war against the Infidel or Kafir (Arabic: كافر ; plural كفار ; a term for non-Muslims meaning “concealer of the truth”) only ceases when they are dead, when they convert, or when they “submit.”
When non-Muslim peoples are conquered and colonized by jihad, they are forced to live under Sharia. Sharia (Arabic: شريعة “way” or “path”) is the sacred law of Islam. In Islamic nations, a dhimmi (Arabic: ذمي ), (collectively أهل الذمة ahl al-dhimmah, “the people of the dhimma or people of the contract”) is the non-Muslim subject of a state which is governed in accordance with sharia law.
In return for taxes, intended to demonstrate “submission” to Allah and to Islam, Dhimmi are excused from specifically Muslim duties, but have fewer legal and social rights than Muslims.
OK, now on to our two questions….
(1) What has Dhimmitude under Sharia looked like so far in Muslim countries?
Recognizing that there are regional variations, the dhimmi has traditionally been forbidden to possess weapons, forbidden to defend against aggression by a Muslim, forbidden to give testimony against a Muslim, and is generally put in a position of vulnerability and humility. These rules specifically address the Sharia mandate that the implementation of dhimma must enforce the Qur’an’s command that the Infidels “feel themselves subdued” (Sura 9:29). Submitting to the Dhimmi Tax functions as legal acknowlegment of being “subdued.”
Under Sharia, paying the tax required to become a Dhimmi fulfills the Qur’an’s Sura 9:29 mandate of “submission” by symbolically acknowledging that Allah is the only true God and that Mohammed is God’s true prophet. [Note: By placing variations of the word "submit" in quotes, I am indicating that I am using the term according to the Islamic understanding of the word.]
In countries ruled by Islamic Law, the news reports almost weekly that when a Christian or Jew insists upon their own religious “rights,” or dares to question, or respectfully disagree with an Islamic assertion, Sharia routinely deems them non-”submissive”, accuses them of blasphemy, and punishes them with death. Forced conversions are routine, and a death sentence awaits anyone who becomes Christian. In Iran, Christians have even been subjected to 80 lashes, for participating in Communion.
Followers of Sharia often deny that persecution exists. Sometimes they’re simply lying…. However, more often, they actually have an inverted view of reality; what we see as persecution, they simply re-label “justice.” This has recently been exemplified by the recent actions of Egypt’s President Morsi, in reference to the open persecution of our Coptic Christian brethren. From his own words and actions, it’s clear that he doesn’t consider the murders, rapes, false accusations, and church burnings to be persecution. When the Copts were being forced to leave Rafah, under threats of violence, President Morsi’s appointed Governor simply offered to help them find another town to live in.
(2) Does Biblical Christianity permit us to “submit” to Allah and Islam??
Remember; according to the teachings of Islam, when a Kafir “submits” by paying the tax to become a Dhimmi, he is symbolically acknowledging that Allah is the only true God and that Mohammed is God’s true prophet. This creates a direct conflict with Christianity…
In Paul’s letter to the Galations we are told “…even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!” (Galations 1:8) Over 500 years after Paul wrote this, under the inspiration of the God’s Holy Spirit, an angel (claiming to be the angel Gabriel) appeared to a man named Mohammed and “revealed” a new gospel to him, verse-by-verse. Coincidence?
Although Politically Incorrect, it is impossible to avoid recognizing that God’s warning in Galations clearly applies to the founding of Islam, as well as to the iman (Arabic: إيمان ;faith) of its mu’min (Arabic: مؤمن ; believer). Unless we claim that the Bible is false (which, by the way, is what the teachings of Islam claim), we are left with no option but to recognize that the god of the Koran is NOT the God of the Bible.
The 3rd Chapter of the Book of Daniel records that, even under threat of torture and death, three young Hebrew men refused to “fall down and worship” the golden idol that King Nebuchadnezzar set up. Nebuchadnezzar’s idol was a false god and they were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their God; the God who is above all gods. We are called to live up to this witness.
Even more bluntly, in Matthew 10:32-33, Jesus tells us that “Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” In verse 34, he continues; “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.“
“Submitting” to Islam not only ruins our witness to the world, according to Jesus our Saviour, it also imperils our Salvation. No… Biblical Christianity does not permit us to “submit” to Allah and Islam!
If we “submit” to Islam, we deny Christ by bowing down and worshipping (by way of a monetary sacrifice) a foreign god. This sort of false peace is not the Shalom of Jesus; our Christ and our God. Indeed this is precisely what He is at war with; those who are anti-Christ are His (and our) enemies… not our friends.
IF, we love Christ and bear His name, we MUST strive against the bald-faced call to for us to bow to evil, which both Sharia and Dhimmitude represent…. Understand, we do not serve a milk-toast God! Jesus could not have been killed on the cross unless He permitted it (Matthew 26:53), He will return one day in judgement (Revelation 2:12-29), and in the meantime He has authorised us (Luke 22:35-38) to defend ourselves!
Our relationship with the one and only Living God depends on whether we publicly serve Him and stand for Him (Matthew 10:32-33). We must call one another to courage and to uphold the Cross of Christ, even if we must stand in the fire (Matthew 24:9-13).
As with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, our God will not make us stand alone…. He will stand with us!