Wednesday, January 23, 2019
Resources for Living in a Spiritual World

Favorite Quotes from The Third Choice

Most frequently marked passages for Kindle readers:

One very good reason why Christians should study Islam for themselves is that Islam defines its spiritual identity, not merely in terms of Muslims’ standing before Allah, but in opposition and contrast to Jews and Christians. This self-definition includes a deep rejection of Christianity and Judaism. It is a sad fact that incitement against non-Muslims, and specifically against followers of Biblical faiths, is an integral part of Islam, being hard-wired into the Quran and the Sunna.

According to Islam, the human problem is ignorance (jahiliyyah).

The solution to [this] problem is guidance (huda), one of the central concepts of Islam.

For those who submit to Allah and accept his guidance, the intended result is success (falah) in this life and the next. The call of Islam is a call to success.

The Quran divides humanity into winners and the rest. Those who do not accept Allah’s guidance are repeatedly called ‘the losers’ (al-khasirin).

A rescued person is not the same as a successful person. A rescued person is humbled by their experience, but a successful person will tend to feel superior and proud of their success. From the perspective of Islam, the losers are the humiliated ones, but from the perspective of Christianity, the saved are the humbled ones.

... the phrase ‘fitna is worse than killing’ became a universal mandate to fight and kill all infidels who rejected Muhammad’s message, whether they were interfering with Muslims or not. Merely for unbelievers to ‘commit disbelief’ – to use Ibn Kathir’s phrase – was a greater evil than their being killed.

If all earthly authority not submitted to Islam is usurped authority, then all warfare which seeks to wrest control from un-godly authorities is defensive in nature, taking property which rightfully belongs to Islam. All Islamic warfare against unbelievers is thus defensive, and land and booty taken in jihad is liberated rather than conquered.This victim mentality continues to plague many Muslim communities to this day, and weakens their capacity to take responsibility for their own actions.

The Khaybar campaign started out with the two-choice scenario: convert or die. However when the Muslims defeated the Jews of Khaybar, a third choice was negotiated: conditional surrender. Thus did the Khaybar Jews become the first dhimmis.


Author's Preface

See to it that … no bitter root grows up
to cause trouble and defile many.
Letter to the Hebrews 12:15

Rejection is one of the most disturbing and destructive of human experiences. It forms the bitter root of many ills, defiling its victims with anger, hatred of others, self-hatred, a wounded spirit, and despair. Rejection is a tear in the fundamental fabric of human identity, a gouge in the divine image. Overcoming rejection is the core of spiritual healing, leading to restoration, freedom, new hope, and a reclaimed destiny.

Rejection can be manifested in individual lives. It can also be expressed in the collective historical consciousness of communities and societies, where one group has been demeaned by another.

One of the most profound and least-understood manifestations of rejection in human history is the Islamic institution of the dhimma, the theologically-driven political, social, and legal system, imposed by Islamic law upon non-Muslims as an alternative to Islam (i.e. conversion) or the sword (i.e. death or captivity). The dhimma is the ‘third choice’ offered to non-Muslims under jihad conditions, and those who have accepted it are known as dhimmis. Their condition, dhimmitude, forms the subject of this book, which describes the challenge posed by Islam’s treatment of non-Muslims, exposes the spiritual roots of this challenge, and offers a solution.

Whereas rejection is an expression of the power of evil to damage, overwhelm and ultimately destroy human beings, the triumph of grace is the defeat of rejection, ushering in love and reconciliation where once there had been bitter despair. An invitation is issued here for the reader – whatever his or her faith background – to walk along a road through understanding, and ultimately to freedom from dhimmitude and its demeaning spiritual effects.

The resources offered here include a truth encounter with the Islamic doctrines of jihad and dhimmitude, informed by the life and example of Muhammad. Together these have imposed rejection upon non-Muslims under the Sharia down through history to the present day.

Renouncing enmity

In the current atmosphere of fear and uncertainty concerning religious differences, there is a tendency to divide the world into two camps of ‘enemies’ vs. ‘friends’. Tolerance, we find, has its limits, and it comforts us to think that we are of the ‘right’ party.
We must steadfastly seek to resist such a divisive understanding of people. Although there are some who might call people of one faith or another their ‘enemies’, Jesus’ instructions are pertinent: ‘Love your enemies’. We can also be mindful of the wise counsel Abigail gave to David, when he was on his way to wreak vengeance on her husband Nabal, not to ‘have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself’.

In this context, recourse to the language of marginalization or retribution is a needless spiritual defeat. We must be prepared to call bad ideas evil if that is what they are. Yet, in doing this, it is not up to us to condemn people as evil, let alone to issue declarations of hatred and enmity against them.

When Jesus was advising his followers of the inevitability of their future suffering, he warned them against allowing bitter experiences of rejection to fuel enmity in their hearts. Instead, looking upon persecution as a blessing, they should aim to do good to their persecutors, blessing them and interceding on their behalf.

In this struggle, the dividing line between good and evil is not something that separates one person from another. As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn learned in the Soviet gulags, it runs through each and every human heart:

In the intoxication of youthful successes I had felt myself to be infallible, and I was therefore cruel. In the surfeit of power I was a murderer, and an oppressor. In my most evil moments I was convinced that I was doing good, and I was well supplied with systematic arguments. And it was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either – but right through every human heart – and through all human hearts.

Statement of purpose, and a dedication

The Third Choice has been written to meet three main purposes:
  1. To explain the nature of the dhimma pact;
  2. To enable non-Muslims to withstand the dhimma and find freedom from it;
  3. To help people understand the nature and impact of Islamic politics in the world, both today and in the past, and especially its impact upon the human rights of non-Muslims.
People of many faiths and none need to find freedom from the age-old legacy of the dhimma, and Muslims too, for dhimmitude degrades oppressors and oppressed alike. This book is therefore dedicated to the healing and freedom of all those who have fallen within the reach of dhimmitude, whatever their religious convictions, non-Muslim and Muslim alike.

For millions today, dhimmitude is not only an all-too-familiar lived daily reality; it is also a personal inheritance, extending back in the generational line beyond memory. Whether dhimmitude is a part of the reader’s personal history or not, my desire is that this book will help equip him or her to live as a free person, able to renounce and reject the dhimma’s false and demeaning claims.

Foreword by Bat Ye'or

Since 9/11 the concept of dhimmitude – first elaborated in the 1970’s and initially known only to a handful of specialists – has become widely recognized as its complexities and implications have been investigated and popularized. The first path breaking, iconoclastic presentations of dhimmitude as an aspect of history are being transformed into rich and diverse analyses of modern history and sociology. Mark Durie’s book belongs to this new trend, but has the added distinctive that it seeks the healing of those affected by dhimmitude.

Although conceived and written with a profound Christian sensitivity, Durie’s book can be read with the greatest profit by people from all persuasions, including atheists. In The Third Choice, the author examines the most crucial challenges of this new century. Today, whoever does not have a clear understanding of the complexities of the word dhimmitude can be considered an illiterate in matters of modern international policy, and blind to present and future realities.

Durie exposes in clear language the multidimensional aspects of dhimmitude, a concept that pertains to a fourteen-centuries-old civilization, birthed through jihad, and structured in accordance with the strict requirements of the Sharia. Dhimmitude has produced endless wars and suffering, and left its mark on countless historical and literary documents. Dhimmitude is the captive history of captive non-Muslim peoples, conquered by jihad and distributed across Africa, Asia and Europe. The author examines with rigorous precision the basic foundations of Islam – the Quran, hadiths, sira and Sharia – and exposes their inner connections with the political, economic and social system of dhimmitude for which they are the basis, and over which they exercise religious guardianship.

The strict scholarly rationalism of the author is particularly evident in the chapter on the theological significance of jizya, the head tax paid by non-Muslims under Islamic rule. Here Durie brings numerous and irrefutable sources illustrating the meaning, implications and religious justification of the jizya, which is the cost paid by non-Muslims for the right to live, albeit in humiliation. The jizya ritual, writes Durie, forces the dhimmi subject – through his participation in it – ‘to forfeit his very head if he violates any of the terms of the dhimma covenant, which has spared his life’. The author sheds new light on the jizya ritual, which he calls an ‘enactment of one’s own decapitation’. His discussion of this virtual beheading brings new depth to the Muslim-non-Muslim relationship. Still today – in the jihad wars throughout the world, or the jihadists’ threats against the West – the jizya’s symbolism expresses a fundamental dimension of the theological and political relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Too few Westerners grasp that the concept of dhimmitude is crucial to understanding the relationship between Islam and non-Islam. As Durie argues, through a conspiracy of silence, the heads of state, church and community leaders, universities, and media smother its reality under a blanket of ignorance. With numerous examples, the author denounces this intimidated concealment, which, he affirms, is undermining Western Judeo-Christian civilization and is contrary to human freedom and dignity.

While the author’s study encompasses a wide register of political and legal areas, he does not neglect the human impact of dhimmitude, with its painful manifestations of moral abjection, self-destruction, fear, denial and loss of dignity. Durie reminds us, with compassion and empathy, that scholarly studies on dhimmitude should not mask the physical and moral sufferings of populations living in perpetual denial of their most basic rights and personhood. The dimension of this human tragedy, perpetuated through generations, is a predominant concern of his mission, since he dedicates his book ‘to the healing and freedom of all those who have fallen within the reach of dhimmitude, whatever their religious convictions, non-Muslim and Muslim alike.’ His purpose is ‘to offer resources for understanding these subjects and the links between them. The ultimate purpose of the book, to which the chapters take the reader in stages, is to offer resources for securing freedom from the legacy of dhimmitude.’

If Durie goes so deeply and consistently to confront dhimmitude, it is because this specific type of evil is not something of the past, something that its promoters have renounced or agreed to relinquish; rather, this violation of human psychological and physical rights continues to develop freely in local and international politics, whether by violent jihadist threats and terrorism, or through entrenched and chronic religious discrimination.

For Durie, liberation from dhimmitude requires the rejection of the gratitude and admiration of victims toward their oppressors. Consequently, the author considers it imperative that non-Muslims know Islam. In clear language, free from political correctness, and backed by an impressive scholarly knowledge, he unfolds step-by-step the basic foundations of Islam and exposes their inner correlations with jihad and dhimmitude, two theological and legal Islamic institutions that shape traditional Muslim behavior toward non-Muslims. Moreover, the concealment of dhimmitude confronts us with the moral and political consequences of denying evil. There is a danger, Durie points out, that undiscerning acceptance of a narrative of Muslim victimhood, brought into focus by a doctrinal necessity of Islam, is used as the moral validation of jihad. The appeal to Muslim victimhood as incitement to jihad and dhimmitude against non-Muslims needs to be unmasked, as a step toward world peace.

In wondering how to dismantle dhimmitude, the author provides a discussion of its ideologues and its deniers, and a detailed classification of its diverse manifestations in Muslim countries today, by examining it at different levels. Being a pastor, he is concerned with healing the souls and bodies of numerous present-day victims of jihad; but the more complex wounds also worry him, those that internalize resignation and engender self-debasement.

This book by an Anglican minister brings many innovative views. Durie takes his place among the handful of Christians who have not hidden the common bondage of Jews and Christians in dhimmitude – he even underscores the central significance of Muhammad’s wars against the Jews of Arabia for the development of the jihad-dhimmitude strategy, which was later to be directed against Christians and others. Durie’s book is a milestone in overcoming a long overdue lack of awareness of Christian martyrdom under Islam, as linked to and mirrored in a twin Jewish ordeal still denied by many Christians.

Durie not only provides a strong denunciation of dhimmitude and, thereby a forceful confrontation with its reality, he also offers a path to escape from the tyranny of evil and recover one’s freedom. Throughout this reflection on dhimmitude, the reader is confronted with the question of how to recognize evil, how to live with it while preserving one’s own moral probity, and how to overcome it by developing inner spiritual forces. And while drawing nearer to the oppressed, one also draws nearer to the oppressor and may ask: can victims be healed if they do not go toward their oppressors and try to heal them also? Is this not the existential meaning of suffering, to bring about the healing of the world?