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Jana Sangh Today | A Monthly Magazine

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Mar 2015

The current issue of Jana Sangh Today is devoted to an analysis of how Hindus were treated as second class in their own land. Under Muslim rule (1206-1857) Hindus were treated as dhimmis.  They were required to pay jizya or poll tax for the security of their person.  The English treated them as subjects and in Independent India under the Congress rule, the Hindus were reduced to second class after the Muslims.  Since both Christians in Europe and Hindus in India were the victims of Muslim persecution, a brief reference to the march of Islam in Europe follows.

Professor Bernard Lewis, an eminent scholar in his book Islam and The West observes:  In 710 the first Muslim raiders crossed from Morocco into Spain and by 718  they had occupied most of the peninsula and crossed the Pyrenees into France…  For almost a thousand years, from the first Moorish landing in Spain to the second Turkish siege (1683AD) of Vienna, Europe was under constant threat from Islam.  In early centuries, it was a double threat, not only from invasion and conquest, but also of conversion and assimilation.  

The Covenant of Umar: Before the advent of Islam, Arabia was the home of  significant Jewish and Christian communities. During Prophet Muhammad's life, Christians were living in Medina, Mecca, Khyber, Yemen and Najran etc.  Initially, the pagans were given the choice of becoming Muslims or suffer serious consequences. People of the Book, (The Quran) the Christians and the Jews along with Magians, Samaritans, Sabians, and later Zoroastrians were given the protection of Islam.  They were treated as believers in God despite their refusal to accept the Prophethood of Muhammad.  Adult male Christians were not required to convert but they were required to pay Jizya (poll tax) as the price for this protection. The specific requirements for Christians were spelled out in what has come to be referred as the covenant of Umar. This is attributed to rather than designed by the second caliph, Umar Ibn al -Khattab (634-644AD).

The Oxford History of Islam States: The covenant stipulated prohibition of the building of new churches or repair of those in towns inhabited by Muslims. Beating. the wooden clapper that Christians used to call people to prayer was forbidden, as was loud chanting or carrying the cross or the Bible in processions. Dhimmis were allowed to keep their own communal laws. They were not, however, allowed to give testimony concerning a Muslim in a court of law.  The recruiting of new Christians was forbidden, as was any insult about Islam or its Prophet. As a means of identification, particular dress, such as a special girdle, was required for Christians. Over the first several centuries of Islam, stipulations grew increasingly stringent for Christian men and women.  A Christian woman was not allowed to marry a Christian man, although the Quran does allow marriage of a Muslim man to a Christian woman.  Neverthless, Islamic law from early on stipulated a great range of conditions under which such marriage might take place. The children of mixed marriage were always considered Muslim. A Muslim could own a dhimmi slave, but never the opposite.

Treatment of Muslims by Europeans: Europeans had met Chinese and Indians as complete strangers whereas the Europeans and the Muslims already knew a great deal about each other. The European image of the Muslim was very different from the image of the Indian or the Chinese. The Indian had never invaded Spain nor had the Chinese conquered Constantinople or besieged Vienna. Neither of them had made any attempt to convert Christians to their faith. Europe and Islam were old acquaintances and intimate enemies. Indeed, the whole complex process of European expansion and empire building in the last five centuries has its roots in the clash of Islam and Christendom. It began with the long and bitter struggle of the conquered peoples of Europe, in the east and west, restore their homelands to Christendom and expel the Muslim peoples who had invaded and subjugated them. The victorious European having re-conquered their own territories, pursued their former masters whence they had come. It was in 1492 AD that the Spanish monarchy destroyed the last Muslim sultanate in Spain. World War I almost removed the last remanants of the Turkish Empire in the Christian west.


November 2017


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