Christian C. Sahner, a professor on Oxford’s Faculty of Oriental Studies, wrote Monday that “the process of Islamisation” of the Middle East was not a matter of “conversion by the sword,” but was actually “slow, complex, and often non-violent. Forced conversion was fairly uncommon, and religious change was driven far more by factors such as intermarriage, economic self-interest, and political allegiance.”
Oh, all right, then. If it was “slow, complex, and often non-violent,” then how bad could it have been? And how bad could the Islamization of Britain, and of Europe, be today?
Unfortunately, behind Sahner’s coolly written assessment lies a far uglier reality. He is technically correct: the Islamization of the Middle East was indeed largely driven by “intermarriage, economic self-interest, and political allegiance.” But behind these bland words lies a far uglier reality. Islamic law forbids Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men, but allows Muslim men to marry non-Muslim women. Thus since women would join their husband’s household, the Muslim community always grew at the expense of the non-Muslim community.
And the “economic self-interest” was driven by the fact that, as Sahner acknowledges, non-Muslims had to pay “special taxes.” This was, of course, the jizya, specified in the Qur’an as the hallmark of the degradation and submission of the “People of the Book” (i.e., primarily Jews and Christians): “Fight those who do not believe in Allah or the Last Day, and do not forbidden what has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, and do not acknowledge the religion of Truth, even if they are of the People of the Book, until they pay the jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued” (Qur’an 9:29).