My Brief Discussion of Jihad, Sharia, & the Plight of Middle East Christians with Judge Jeanine Pirro

I am very grateful to Judge Jeanine Pirro that last night (Saturday, 12/27/14), the interview segments embedded above, were aired as part of her special on the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. The Judge was kind enough to display two of my books in the course of the exchanges, The Legacy of Jihad, and Sharia Versus Freedom—formally quoting from the latter.

My brief comments led off with a quote from Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406; elaborated below), a towering figure in Muslim intellectual history, on the Islamic religious obligation to wage jihad warfare. These remarks were in response to Judge Pirro’s citation of an observation by the late Sudanese Christian leader John Garang (via Sharia Versus Freedom) which complements Ibn Khaldun’s triumphal pronouncement, from the perspective of the hundreds of millions of non-Muslim victims of countless jihad campaigns, and their genocidal impact, since the advent of Islam, through ISIS’s current depredations (see here; here; here). In the midst of the jihad genocide against Sudan’s black southern Christians and animists by the Arab Muslim Khartoum government of northern Sudan, Garang (in 1999) queried, plaintively,

Is the call for jihad against a particular people a religious right of those calling for it, or is it a human rights violation against the people upon whom jihad is declared and waged?

I also alluded to how ISIS’s jihad ravages epitomize a modern continuum that dates from the era of the “Islamic revival/Caliphate movements” during the late 19th century, particularly in India, which sought to bolster or replace the tottering Ottoman Empire/Caliphate. The Ottoman Caliphate’s dissolution in the World War I era was accompanied by a convulsive jihad genocide it committed against many of the very same Middle Eastern Christian (and Yazidi) populations targeted by ISIS, at present. Moreover, the Ottoman jihad genocide a century ago, was an order of magnitude larger than ISIS’s current jihadist onslaughts, and just as brutal and depraved, punctuated by massacres (which also “featured” beheadings, disembowelments, and crucifixions), pillage, enslavement (for harems, etc.), and deportations. Occurring largely between 1915-16 (and continuing through at least 1918), some one million Armenian, and 250,000 Assyro-Chaldean and Syrian Orthodox Christians were brutally slaughtered, or starved to death during forced deportations orchestrated by their Ottoman Muslim rulers, through arid wastelands. Also, like the ISIS campaigns of today, the Ottoman jihadist rampages were aided and abetted by local Muslim populations, who were often the most aggressive perpetrators of atrocities and pillaging against their erstwhile non-Muslim “neighbors.”

The six centuries of Ottoman rule, and its final mass acts of jihad carnage while collapsing, marked the end of an historical process (best chronicled by Bat Ye’or; see below)—whose main instrument was jihad war—whereby indigenous, vast majority, pre-Islamic Christian societies were reduced to the small, vestigial remnant Christian minority populations being further decimated and displaced by ISIS, perhaps with finality. That is why I concluded by stating frankly Western societies must grant refuge to Christians from these beleaguered populations after more than a century of utterly futile Western efforts—diplomatic and military alike—to halt the decimation of Middle Eastern Christianity.

The brief extract I read a {see bracketed portion} of Ibn Khaldun’s discussion of jihad for this Christmas special, is reproduced below in full. Focus upon what this monumental Muslim intellectual also stated about Christianity because it reflects timeless, bigoted Islamic attitudes toward the Christian faith, and Christian peoples.

Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406 C.E.), was a north African Muslim jurist, philosopher, historian, and sociologist. One of his historical works, The Muqaddimmah (“Introduction to History”) fuses all the elements of his scholarship. As described by the highly venerated Brill’s First Encyclopaedia of Islam, The Muqaddimmah, which deals “with all branch of Arab sciences and culture,” to this day, “remains, as regards the depth of thought, clearness of exposition and correctness of judgment undoubtedly the most important work of the age, which seems to be surpassed by no other Muslim author.” Currently, at American University in Washington, D.C., for example, the Chair of its Islamic Studies Program, is called the Ibn Khaldun Chair. Ibn Khaldun’s The Muqaddimmah proclaims,

{In the Muslim community, the holy war (jihad) is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the (Muslim) mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force.} Therefore, caliphate and royal authority are united in (Islam), so that the person in charge can devote the available strength to both of them at the same time. The other religious groups did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty to them, save only for purposes of defense. It has thus come about that the person in charge of religious affairs in (other religious groups) is not concerned with power politics at all. (Among them,) royal authority comes to those who have it, by accident and in some way that has nothing to do with religion. It comes to them as the necessary result of group feeling, which by its very nature seeks to obtain royal authority, as we have mentioned before, and not because they are under obligation {to gain power over other nations, as is the case with Islam.} They are merely required to establish their religion among their own (people).

In a related discussion from this same section, [31] Remarks on the words “Pope” and “Patriarch” in the Christian religion and on the word “Kohen” used by the Jews.] Ibn Khaldun continues,

…among the Christians with regard to their religion and to Christology… [w]e do not think that we should blacken the pages of this book with discussion of their dogmas of unbelief. In general, they are well known. All of them are unbelief. This is clearly stated in the noble Quran. (To) discuss or argue those things with them is not up to us. It is (for them to choose between) conversion to Islam, payment of the poll tax, or death.

Ibn Khaldun’s summary formulation of jihad doctrine and the bigoted attitudes and brutal practices it engendered resonate across a continuum of over 13- centuries. From Muhammad’s proto-jihad ravages of the Christians (and Jews) of Arabia, through the lightning conquests of his four “Rightly Guided” Caliphate successors, and all the Arab and non-Arab Muslim Caliphates and dynasties thereafter, including the Ottoman Caliphate—and now in our immediate era, ISIS—the ugly consequences have been the same: massacre, pillage, enslavement, deportation, and/or chronic, oppressive imposition of the humiliating Sharia on surviving non-Muslims.

Almost a quarter century ago, my mentor, the brilliant, courageous, and indefatigable historian, Egyptian Jewess, Gisele Littman, nom de plume, Bat Ye’or (“Daughter of the Nile”), pleaded for the Muslim intelligentsia to acknowledge—and condemn—this living legacy. Bat Ye’or made these wistful observations (in, The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam, p. 220, and p. 469 note 4, dating the original statement in French to September, 1990), which apply even more urgently today, albeit those Muslims to whom she appealed directly, let alone the Muslims masses, show precious little evidence they are prepared for such mea culpa-based reflection and reform:

[T]his effort cannot succeed without a complete recasting of mentalities, the desacralization of the historic jihad and an unbiased examination of Islamic imperialism. Without such a process, the past will continue to poison the present and inhibit the establishment of harmonious relationships. When all is said and done, such self-criticism is hardly exceptional. Every scourge, such as religious fanaticism, the crusades, the inquisition, slavery, apartheid, colonialism, Nazism and, today, communism, are analyzed, examined, and exorcized in the West. Even Judaism – harmless in comparison with the power of the Church and the Christian empires- caught, in its turn, in the great modernization movement, has been forced to break away from some traditions. It is inconceivable that Islam, which began in Mecca and swept through three continents, should alone avoid a critical reflection on the mechanisms of its power and expansion. The task of assessing their history must be undertaken by the Muslims themselves.

Andrew G. Bostom is the author of The Legacy of Jihad (Prometheus, 2005) and The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism " (Prometheus, November, 2008) You can contact Dr. Bostom at

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