“Building on the tribal system, Muhammad framed an inclusive
structure within which the tribes had a common, God-given identity as
Muslims. This imbued the tribes with a common interest and common project.
But unification was only possible by extending the basic tribal principle
of balanced opposition. This Muhammad did by opposing the Muslim to
the infidel, and the dar al-Islam, the land of Islam and peace, to the
dar al-harb, the land of the infidels and conflict. He raised balanced
opposition to a higher structural level as the new Muslim tribes unified
in the face of the infidel enemy. Bedouin raiding became sanctified
as an act of religious duty. With every successful battle against unbelievers,
more Bedouin joined the umma.
Once united, the Bedouin warriors turned outward, teaching the world
the meaning of jihad, which some academics today say means only struggle
but which, in the context of early Islamic writing and theological debates,
was understood as holy war.”
“Bostom and other scholars provide historical accounts of such
jihad. One Greek Christian account describes the Arab invasion of Egypt
as "merciless and brutal." Not only did the Muslim invaders
slay the commander of the Byzantine troops and his companions, but they
also put to the sword all who surrendered including old men, babes,
or women. Similar slaughters occurred across Palestine and Cyprus. Muslim
troops were particularly brutal toward non-Muslim religious institutions.
During the caliphate of Harun al-Rashid, many Christian monks were put
to death. One Muslim historian estimated that Arab armies destroyed
30,000 churches throughout Egypt, Syria, and other central lands. An
Armenian historian reported that, following a rebellion in 703, General
Muhammad bin Marwan invaded the province, massacring and enslaving the
populace. He wrote a letter to the nobility, giving guarantees of safety
in return for surrender. They surrendered, at which point the Arab invaders
shut them in churches and burned them alive.
“While writers today depict the Muslim civilization in medieval
Spain as tolerant, a Grenadan Muslim general from the late thirteenth
century wrote that "it is permissible to set fire to the lands
of the enemy, his stores of grain, his beasts of burden, if it is not
possible for the Muslims to take possession of them." He further
advised razing cities and doing everything to ruin non-Muslims. Muslim
generals instituted similar practices in Afghanistan and India.
“Tribesmen can treat non-members with disdain. Tribal identity
coalesces in opposition to the "other." Common Muslim attitudes
toward non-Muslims reflect the influence of these tribal values. The
historical evidence for the degradation of Christian and Jewish dhimmi
[subjugated religious minority] in Muslim lands is overwhelming, both
in quantity and near unanimity in substance. Much is documented in Bat
Ye'or's Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide. In eleventh-century
Al-Andalus, for example, Abu Ishaq, a well-known Arab poet and jurist
of the day, expressed outrage at the presence of a Jewish minister in
the court of the ruler of Granada. He argued that the Muslim leaders
should "[p]ut [the Jews] back where they belong and reduce them
to the lowest of the low … Do not consider it a breach of faith
to kill them." Soon after his call, local residents slaughtered
approximately 5,000 Grenadan Jews. Such sentiments were not exceptions
limited in time and scope. Egyptian president Anwar Sadat spoke in closely
parallel terms to Abu Ishaq's when, on April 25, 1972, he declared,
"[The Jews] shall return and be as the Qur'an said of them: ‘condemned
to humiliation and misery.' … We shall send them back to their
former status." ”
“Muslim Middle Eastern countries, from Morocco to Iran, are dictatorships.
None are ranked free, and some, such as Egypt, Iran, Libya, Tunisia,
Saudi Arabia, and Syria, are ranked not free, the lowest category. The
propensity of Arab states and Iran to dictatorship also has roots in
tribal culture. There is an inherent conflict between peasants and nomads.
Peasants are sedentary, tied to their land, water, and crops while tribesmen
are nomadic, moving around remote regions. Peasants tend to be densely
concentrated in water-rich areas around rivers or irrigation systems
while pastoral tribesmen, in contrast, are spread thinly across plains,
deserts, and mountains.
“To state leaders, cultivators are vulnerable and rewarding targets
who cannot escape without sacrificing their means of making a living.
In comparison to peasant cultivators, pastoral nomads are much less
vulnerable than cultivators to state importunity. Both their main capital
resource, livestock, and their household shelter are mobile. While farming
follows a rigid schedule of planting and exploitation, nomadism requires
constant decisions and initiative, which instill willfulness and independence.
Mobility and guerilla prowess make tribesmen less vulnerable than peasants
to state control.
“States struggle to impose effective control over the nomads.
State authorities do not, however, always take a modest, compromising
attitude in dealing with tribes. The Ottomans tended to be a bit more
stringent in their own heartland. If tribes in Anatolia were deemed
to be too independent, the government responded rigorously. Ottoman
authorities forcibly settled unruly tribes and, in the 1920s and 1930s,
Reza Shah subjected and forcibly settled in villages Iran's nomadic
tribes—the Qashqai and Basseri of the southwest, the Lurs of the
west, the Kurds of the northwest, the Turkmen of the northeast, and
the Baluch of the southeast. When occupying British officials deposed
Reza Shah in 1941, many of the tribesmen reverted to nomadism.”