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Religious and Ethnic Tolerance in World History

Ahmed B. Bash-Ayan

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Religious and Ethnic Tolerance in World History

(Arab/Islamic vs. Western)

(By Ahmed B. Bash-Ayan)

21 September, 2009


In almost no country in the Arab/Islamic world, has religious tolerance ever been the problem that it so often gets propagated to be (2,10,15,28,32,43,125,140).

For example, over the past years, the western public would probably be very surprised to learn, from some objectively-sounding studies, and a number of reliable individuals, how free Arab/”oriental” Jews not only have been, but actually continue to be up to this day, to live their lives as a religious, ethnic, and/or a cultural community in some of the (supposedly) most "unlikely" countries in the Arab/Islamic world (e.g., today's Yemen (40,85,98), Syria (36,39,42,92), or Iran (4,23)), not to mention other more “likely” countries (like Morocco and Turkey (17,75)). One says "surprised" and "unlikely" not because of any inherent reason why this shouldn't be the case, but because of years of media-conditioning. Thus, even according to authentic testimonies by some of the most die-hard Zionists, through the 2 millennia of their supposed "Diaspora", of all the "host" nations amongst which they found themselves, the Jews have always enjoyed the best treatment at the hands of the Arabs, Muslim communities, and Islamic civilization (19,28,31,54,65,76).

This situation typifies how, in our times, wide-spread, and deep-seated all the effects of induced confusion, sown mistrust, created suspicion, and deliberate disinformation, have all become.

Religious Wars In History

If one is to take a careful survey of all of humanity's religious wars from time immemorial to-date, the only Islamic-Christian, Islamic-Jewish, and Christian-Jewish wars that have been known, have all been waged by non-Arabic nations. The early and later Islamic conquests have been falsely depicted as being wars of aggression and forceful conversion. While Muslims have always known this not to be the case, fair-minded, non-Muslim historians (including many who come from the nations that were supposed to have been at the “receiving end” of Islamic "aggression"), would readily attest to this fact (7,49,50).

Take the Crusades, for an example: they originated in North and West Europe, and the Crusaders killed as many Byzantine (i.e., supposedly “fellow-Christians”) and Jews as they did Arabs and Muslims (may be more). The Spanish Inquisition is another example. (48,82).

Religious Wars In The Middle East

Even such apparently "localized" religious and / or sectarian strifes as have (in recent times) been witnessed in such Arab countries as the Lebanon, Iraq, and Sudan, are characterized by: (a) - Contemporariness (i.e., lacking in historical roots), (b) - limitedness (lacking wide-scale communal support), and (c) - the clear, decisive presence of a major foreign catalyst (1,2,5,710,12,15,17,22,33,35,44,51,66,83,94).

As we will all no doubt remember, Lebanon's sectarian troubles can be easily traced back to the mid-19th century, when the Superpowers of the time (namely, the 4 major European powers of Britain, Russia, France, and Italy, along with the Vatican and the Ottoman Empire), took it upon themselves, each in turn, to extend their respective "protections" to one religious/sectarian group or the other, using the usual assortment of pretexts. (For example, the fact that the Maronite Church had theologically reached a narrowing of the gap with the Vatican, automatically triggered a surge in the long-standing colonial interest on the parts of France and Italy in Lebanon, both of these European countries using the Maronites' new affiliation with the Catholic faith as one of their pretexts). Thus, the notorious Lebanese "civil war" of 1860, which was predominantly a Maronite-Druze feudalist struggle for economic-political power, had the clear fingers of some of these foreign European powers printed all over it, as has since been widely recognized by numerous Lebanese history scholars, including some renowned, world class academicians, who are drawn from both Christian and Muslim backgrounds, (an example: the late Prof Kheleel al-Jurr, a Maronite himself; see also 25, 36,39,42, 92,107,and 123). The foreign factor in the second Lebanese “civil war” (1975-1992) was even more discernable. Here, the armies of the new regional superpower, “Israel”, those of France, and the USA were physically there in full public view. The less visible aspects of the influences of all these countries (political, monetary, and intelligence), were no less effective, only more so. When, towards the end of this ravaging war, the historical leader of the (predominantly Maronite) Phalange party-cum-militia, the late Pierre al-Gemayel (whose family had emigrated from their historical stronghold of Bekfeyyah, in the mountainous al-Metn region of Lebanon, to Egypt, where they prospered, before returning to the Lebanon after the First World War), realized how he and his fellow Phalangists (as well as his allies, the other powerful Maronite force, the National Liberals, lead by the other prominent political Maronite figure, Kemeel Shemoon) had been used by the “Israel”is and the CIA, and then abandoned, he is reported to have bitterly told the Israeli leadership, in one of his last meetings with them, that he and his fellow Maronites were, “after all”, Arabs, and will never forget those who had betrayed their trust and friendship. No wonder the armies of all these three foreign powers quickly became the viscous targets of attacks by Lebanese fighters, drawn from all the country’s various ethnic groups, including Maronites (18,24,68,70).

Egypt is another example of a millennia-old religious and socially harmonious nation, whose peaceful stability has only been challenged in the second half of the 20th century, with the consequence that the al-Azhar Chief, the Country's Mufti, and the Coptic Pope have all stated, in unison, time and again, that the tragic incidents that the country has been witnessing (few and scattered though they mercifully have been) were complete anathema to Egyptian society, Muslim and Christian alike, and have more than hinted at the role of foreign elements in the whole affair (63,100).

Religious Minorities In the Middle East

The myriad minority religious groups that have existed and flourished all over the Arab world for millennia are a glaring testimony to the spirit of religious tolerance that has characterized Arab communities throughout. Even more tellingly, many of these minority groups are to be found only in the Arab world. Examples: The Sabaeans, the Yazidis (117), and the Shabaks of Iraq (8,31,54,59,61,80,89), the faiths of none of whom are Muslim, Christian, or Jewish; the Nussairis, aka 'Alawis, of Syria; the Druzes of Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine (36,39,42,54,59,69,89,90); the Samarians, an ancient, Jewish-like religious group, that are basically Pentecostalist, who have been more or less shunned by the mainstream Jewish religious hierarchy, and, for millennia, found a safe and happy haven, instead, amongst the Arabs of the West Bank in Palestine (20,46,76,89); the Ismailis and Bahais in Iran and India and, to a limited extent, Iraq, Palestine, and Jordan (4,23,31,54,57,89); and the Maronites of mainly the Lebanon, with a small percentage in Palestine and in Cyprus.

In such Arab countries like Iraq (58,60,61,80,89,90), Palestine, Jordan, the Lebanon, and Syria (36,39,59,89, 90), many of the towns and villages that make up the country-side have been multi-religious for generations. As is to be expected, all the major cities across the Arab world have been highly cosmopolitan for centuries. All this has gone towards creating a rich and highly interesting social and cultural mosaic, that has uniquely characterized the Arab world at large. In Iraq, apart from the major cities of Baghdad, Basrah, and Mosul, a typical example of multi-ethnic coexistence in a smaller cities is the major town of Hilleh, near Babylon, where Jews, Sunnis, and Shiites have lived together for centuries; other examples in Iraq include the major Eastern Marshes' city of al-Imaara, the famously cosmopolitan towns of Tel Aafar and Kirkuk, in the north of the country, where Kurds, Turcmen, Arabs, Shiites, Sunnis, Christians, and others have coexisted harmoniously for millennia (99); in the Lebanon, similarly numerous examples abound, perhaps some typical ones include the vast provinces and their constituent towns and villages in al-Kourah, Merjaayoun, and al-Shouf regions; and the towns of Zahle, Baalbek, and 'Anjar; and so on (1,2,5,710,12,15,1722,33,35,44,51,66,83,94).

Another interesting social history phenomenon that has characterized the Arab world is that of cross-conversions. Again, in regions across Iraq, the Lebanon, and the northern and eastern parts of the Arabian Peninsula, it is not at all uncommon to come across whole families and tribes, including some powerful and prominent ones, that consist of branches professing different faiths. The case of the aal-Shehabs in the Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan is perhaps a typical one.

The aal-Shehabs originally came from the Hijaz region, in Western Arabia, and trace their ancestry to the most prestigious Arabian tribe of Qureish, a prestige that has since the 7th century AD, become reinforced by the fact that the Prophet Muhammed came from that tribe. When, in the 10th-11th century AD, the aal-Shehabs migrated to the Lebanon, it was by request of the Abbasid Caliph of the time, who settled them in a feudal estate that was allotted to them in the Wadi el-Taim valley of Lebanon, and appointed them as heads of one of the major garrisons that were commissioned to defend all the Muslim cities that lie on the eastern Mediterranean coast, against hostile naval activities, such as pirates’ raids, and, later on, the European Crusades. With time, branches of the aal-Shehab family converted to the Druze and the Maronite Christian faiths, the prominent Lebanese President, the late Gen. Fouad Shehab, being of course, a member of the Maronite branch. The famous mid-19th century ruler of Lebanon, Prince Besheer aal-Shehabi, is believed to have professed, alternatingly, (or even simultaneously, some believe), the Christian Maronite and the Druze faiths, having maintained a suspectedly deliberate ambiguity about his exact religious affiliation in front of his common subjects. Thus, today, you have Sunni, Druze, and Maronite aal-Shehabs, all of whom belonging to the very same family. For branches of this powerful, rich, princely and noble Arabian family to convert from their ruling and powerful (Orthodox) Sunni faith to faiths that were considered to be heretical by the majority of Muslims and Christians, respectively, and whose followers were geographically isolated, as the Druzes and Maronites at the time were, and to do so without any loss of prestige or privilege, is truly amazing. If the environment in which the aal-Shehabs had lived in had been so intolerant, then one would have expected the trend to be reversed, i.e., that people would be converting from the smaller, weaker, more vulnerable faiths, like those of the Druze and Maronites at that time, to the more powerful, long-established, and widely accepted one, as the Muslim Sunni was at that time (107,135).

Another example in the Lebanon of members of the same family holding different faiths are the ‘Ussairaans, the Herbs, the Junbulatts, and the Abi-Llemeea’s. (For a good reference on this subject, see the Arabic-language title of the 19th century Lebanese historian, Prince Haidar al-Shehabi (who comes from the Druze branch of the al-Shehab family mentioned above, 135).

In Iraq, the Shammar, al-Jiboor, al-Jenaabi, al-bu-Eeseh, and al-Zubaid tribes, (to mention but a few examples), are divided into Shiite and Sunni fukhdths (sub-tribal branches), in most cases, about equally. Numerous other tribes have Shiite and Sunni branches, and they have lived and accepted, and, in an increasing number of cases, intermarried with, each other. All across the Arab world, most Christians can trace their ancestries to one of the long established Arabian tribes or the other (e.g., benu Ghessaan, benu Teghlib, the benu Teyy, Qureish, and so on), not to mention that many of these Christian Arab families can narrow their ancestral origins to a somewhat precise geographical region (e.g., Northern Yemen; 102,118,124,133,140).

Protection against any kind of harm to all non-Muslim individuals, communities, and organizations have been guaranteed and strictly implemented by all Muslims, individuals as well as institutions, by Divine Instructions (through the Quraan, the Hedeeth, the Seereh), the Fetwaas of the ‘Ulemaa, and the practical applications thereof by all the heads of the successive Muslim states. Thus, all of these various non-Muslim, specifically Christian, sects and religious groups have continuously lived in the Arab world through a succession of numerous Islamic dynasties, not only Arab-Islamic dynasties, but also Mogul-, Persian-, Memluki-, and Turkish-Islamic dynasties (17). This succession of dynasties spans the eras from the times of Muhammed, through his Rightly-Guided Caliphs, then the Umayyads (112), the Abbasids (122,129,141), the Seljuqis, the Buweihis, the Jelaairis, the Memluks, the Ottoman Turks, and finally the modern, post-colonial Arab states (i.e., a total of 14 centuries; see 1,2,3,21,27,28,44,52,71,79).

It is against this background of religious (not to mention ethnic and racial) tolerance that the two largest non-Muslim religious groups in the Arab world, namely the Christians and the Jews, as well as all the other, smaller such groups, more than simply survived throughout millennia: they prospered and many of their members rose to positions of high prominence and great influence in all walks of life in the Arab world (134). In our modern times, the Mizrahis, Duweiks, and Manns of the Lebanon, the Shamashs, Zilchas, Sawdaaeeis, Ibrahim al-Kebeers, Sassoons, Dellaals, Fettaals, and Laawis of Iraq, provide some typical examples as far as Arab Jewish families go (108,120). The corresponding case for Christians would consist of a proportionately longer list of examples. Even today, the Jews of such Arab countries as Iraq, Yemen, Morocco, Tunisia, (and of non-Arab Muslim countries like Iran and Turkey) are free to travel backwards and forwards between their respective home countries and “Israel”, many of whom choosing, out of their own will, to remain in these home countries.

Likewise, the Iraqi Jews, by their accounts, found in their "captivity" in Babylon a golden opportunity to thrive and prosper, theologically (cf the Babylonian Talmud), economically, and culturally. The story of the Jews' golden history in Iraq from those biblical times all the way to the 1950s has been repeatedly related at great lengths by numerous Iraqi Jewish historians, authors, and other professionals (8). (For further reading on this subject, see the works of the late Meir Basri, a prominent Iraqi Jewish literary critic, historian, and biographer, who, during his long exile in the UK, became the Head of the Iraqi Jewish community in exile, during which period he published several books on the history of Iraq in general, and of the Iraqi Jews in particular, including an encyclopedic biography of prominent Iraqi Jews (109). Most, if not all, of the late Mr. Basri's books have been written in Arabic; see 8,30,45,60,81,87,108,120,128).

Thus, during the 5-centuries’ long period of the Abbasid Caliphate (725-1258 AD), the Jews in the Islamic world prospered financially (having a disproportionately large share of the banking and credit services sector, the commodity market, and the international trade), professionally (doctors and highly-skilled craftsmen), and intellectually (philosophy, literature, and the arts), and theologically (they produced some of their most prominent rabbis and spiritual thinkers). The Abbasid Caliphate’s Chief Rabbi had the distinguished honour of being received by the Caliph of the time on a periodical basis, where he would be seated next to the Caliph and afforded a private audience with him. The Chief Rabbi’s procession through the streets of Baghdad on his way to the Caliphate Court was a memorable spectacle. Passers-by would respectfully make way for the rabbinical drive, with a specially-appointed foot-guard at the head of the procession calling upon the gathered crowd of spectators:” Make way for our lord, the descendant of [the Jewish and Islamic king-prophet], Solomon” (122,129,140,141).

Similarly, during the 8 centuries of Arab/Islamic rule in Spain, the Jews thrived and prospered, producing some of their best theologians, philosophers, artists, writers, and men of medicine. Musa ibn Maymoon (aka Moses ben Mimonedes), the world-famous physician-rabbi-philosopher, wrote his world-classic treatise in natural philosophy, “A Guide for the Perplexed”, in Arabic, as well as many other distinguished works in Arabic and Hebrew, during that period in Andalusia and Arab-Muslim North Africa (32,51,53,97).

Since the very early beginnings of Christianity to-date (i.e., for two millennia), Christian missionaries, including increasingly predominantly foreign, mainly European, ones, have been free to roam virtually the entire Arab world, preaching and prosthelising the Christian faith at will. Since then, thousands of Christian churches, monasteries, hospitals, charities, including orphanages, in which all the children are raised, naturally enough, as Christians, of the particular sect which the order in question professes, religious as well as interdenominational and even secular schools, colleges, universities, bookshops and printing presses have been established by all these various Christian missionary organizations in various Arab countries, such as Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, the Sudan, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, the Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain, and the Yemen, where they have since settled and become naturalized citizens. Moreover, some of these missionary orders have owned vast estates, religious trusts, and thriving businesses in various Arab countries. Some of these religious groups that were in countries in the Arab world where dual citizenship was allowed were freely able to avail themselves of this convenience. All of them were accorded special taxation and other fiscal privileges, including, where applicable, favourable exemptions, and even, in many cases, state assistance and public funding (56).

In Palestine, Greek, Russian, Italian, British, French, Armenian, American, Portuguese, Spanish, and Dutch religious and, subsequently, lay, communities have existed over various periods of time, many of whom remain there to this day, having lived a long, uninterrupted, peaceful existence throughout the times from the early Arab/Islamic state (7th century AD), to this day. In addition to the holy cities of East (i.e., Muslim/Arab) Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Nazareth, these communities are to be found in other, predominantly Islamic cities in Palestine, such as Nablus, Hebron, Ramallah, and Jericho (86,136). Similarly, in Jordan (e.g., Maadeba, ‘Ajloun, Selt, Irbid, al-Zerqaa, Aqaba, and Petra). Just as it has been the birth place of Jesus and Mary and Christianity itself, the Arab world has, throughout history, witnessed the birth and flourishing of a myriad Christian (and other) sects and monastic orders, some of which have spread out of the Arab world (like the Greek Orthodox, the Carmelite, and Maronite) while others have remained within the geographical bounds of it (e.g., the Chaldean, Assyrian, Coptic, and Nestorian sects of Christianity).

The history of the Maronites provides a very interesting case-in-point, for being highly illustrative to the main thesis of this article. In brief, the sect began in Syria, way back in the 9th century AD, when an Arab Monk-(later canonized), Maroun, fell out with the Byzantine church in Antioch over some theological matter pertaining to the concept of the Holy Trinity. Eventually, the Byzantine church reached a point where it deemed Maroun a heretic, which prompted him to flee with a number of his followers across Syria's Mt. Houran to Mt. Lebanon, which lay within the Islamic Abbasid dominion. When the Holy Byzantine Emperor appealed to the Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad to hand Maroun and his followers back for their "heretical beliefs and practices", the Caliph sought the advice of some of his religious experts, Christian and Muslim alike, including one of Lebanon's most proficient religious scholars of his time, the Imam al-Awzaa’ie. It was al-Awzaa’ie who interceded with the Caliph on behalf of Maroun and his followers, assuring the Caliph that their movement was perfectly sound theologically, and that they had committed no offence as far as Christianity or Islam are concerned, upon which the Caliph rejected the Holy Byzantine Emperor's request, and assured Maroun and his followers a safe and secure haven in the Lebanon. (When the Imam al-Awzaa’ie died, thousands of Maronites are reported to have walked in his funeral's procession in Beirut, as a gesture of gratitude. See 107,135).

More recently, (since the end of the First World War), the demographic compositions of Iraq, the Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt have acquired a new element, namely, that of the Armenians, who are racially European, and (Orthodox) Christian by faith. They came by their hundreds of thousands, and were welcomed by their host Arab nations everywhere. Many of them continue to live, work, and flourish in all of these Arab countries as equal citizens to this day. Armenian churches and clergy, schools, hospitals, shops, workshops, and restaurants, are to be found all over the major cities and small towns alike in countries like Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, and Egypt, where they have existed, peacefully and happily, for over a century (105,108,113).

The fact that all of these religious groups have chosen to continue to live and die in the Arab world, and throughout all these centuries, and that their religious scriptures, temples, and rituals have remained safe and intact all this time, not to mention flourished, as their own communities have flourished, socially, politically, and economically, can only mean one thing: continuity, security, and freedom to live and worship as they have pleased. Otherwise, they would have (naturally enough) long since either perished (physically as well as culturally), or moved away from all of these Arab countries.

During the 20th century, the Christians constituted the single largest non-Muslim religious group in the Arab world. Their ratio in Iraq has been estimated at between 5 and 7%; in Syria, at around 10%; in the Lebanon, around 40%; and so on. The Jews were probably the second largest such group. At the peak of their presence in Iraq (late 1930s-mid-1940s), Jews constituted about 3% of the total population of the country (8).

Thus, in all of these Arab and / or Muslim countries, all religious groups have, from times immemorial to-date, all enjoyed the freedoms and rights of worship, association, movement, trade, and profession, on equal terms with each other. (c.f. the situation for Jews, for example, in eastern, central, and northern Europe, especially in countries like Russia, Poland, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Switzerland, and Germany, and, to a lesser extent, the UK, from the 9th century till the mid-19th century).

One can only imagine what would have happened to any of these minority religious groups had they actually moved away from the Arab world, especially to the West?

Islam And War

Of the three great, monotheistic religions of the world, (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), Islam is the only one that recognizes the original teachings and prophets of the other two religions (1,5,12,20,21,27,31,38,41,46,64,76,79114,115,116,119,132,137,139).

Islam has never been intended to be a religion of aggression or intolerance, in fact, the exact opposite is true. The source texts, the Quraan, the Prophet's Hedeeth and Seerah, that of his disciples and the 5 Rightly Guided Caliphs (i.e., the four al-Khulefaa’ al-Raashidoun plus the Umayyad Caliph, Omar ibn Abdul-Aziz), notably, (but not, by any means, exclusively) the second Rashedi Caliph, Omar ibn al-Khettaab, and the scholarly works of the Fuqehaa' and Ulemaa’, of all sects within Islam, all agree on one thing: war can only be justified in self-defense or in order to extend proper protection to the peacefully prothetelizing emissaries against undue interference with their ideological missions. No acts of violence against anyone, Muslim or non-Muslim, should ever be initiated except in retaliation, or in order to repel an aggression or to prevent a potentially serious harm. It has been in that spirit that Omar’s famous Covenant was made to Christians and Jews upon his entry to Palestine during the 8th century AD, guaranteeing them all the rights to a safe and gracious living, and the freedom of worship, and admonishing anyone, including Muslims, against harming their souls, their property, their synagogues and churches, and their livelihoods. This Covenant was upheld by all of Omar’s successors right up to-date. Thus, by all these accounts, Islam is absolutely clear, explicit, unequivocal, and uncompromising on this matter, and this is precisely how all of these Islamic figures acted throughout their respective lives. (cf. the latter-day Jewish versions of the "Old Testament", or Torah (41,46,65) not to mention the Talmud (111,126). Is it any wonder that Islam views this so-called "Torah" as being a blasphemous corruption of the true, unadulterated version that was originally revealed by God to Moses (114,139)?). Here, the concept of "harm" and "self-defense" are perhaps wider than has been the convention, in the sense that they include the intentional, forceful hampering of the activities of peacefully protheselizing individuals or groups (10,17,28,32,33,35,55,92,101,104,106,110,121,127,140).

Of course, like all ideologies, Islam has, at various stages in its long, rich, complex, and colourful history, had its fair share of being used and abused, by all sorts of parties, and for all sorts of purposes. This is something that has always happened, and is bound to continue to happen, not only to Islam, but to all other faiths and secular ideologies alike, by having their original teachings misinterpreted, misapplied, misrepresented, and even severely distorted, sometimes unwittingly, at other times quite consciously so (131,138).

This has meant that some of the wars that have been waged in the name of Islam in the past have in fact been wars of aggression and trespassing. But never has the concept of uncalled-for violence or unprovoked military activity against anyone, be they Muslim or otherwise, been institutionalized, let alone been incorporated in the Islamic faith itself. (Compare this with the atrociously savage, 200-year Crusades that were initiated and forcefully pushed for by the Kings of Europe, some of whom were supposedly "deeply pious", and always actively supported and fully blessed by Popes, priests, and monks; also, compare this with the teachings of the Jewish “Torah”, i.e., the Old Testament (114,139), and the Jewish Talmud (111,126)). The atrocious manner in which these Crusading European invaders of the Arab, predominantly Muslim, Middle East treated the civilian inhabitants (Christian, Muslim, and Jewish) of the Mediterranean islands of Crete, Sardinia, Sicily, Malta, Cyprus, and Rhodes, for example, defies description. By sharp contrast, the shining example of Saladdin’s gallant treatment of his and the Muslim nations’ mortal, most lethal, enemies, including the arch-enemy, the English King Richard The Lion-Heart, has been widely noted, and has become the subject of legendary admiration by, of all people, even the Crusaders themselves, and their modern-day political heirs and cultural descendants (48,52,62,82).

In Palestine, during the 1948 Arab war of resistance against the invading European Zionists to take the country, the British-born commander of the Arab legion, Gen. Glubb, took a tour of inspection of the old Jewish Quarter of Arab East Jerusalem. This was in late June of 1948, and Glubb’s purpose was to make sure that the Jewish civilian minority in east Jerusalem was safe and well, for fear that the fighting between the invading Zionist forces and the country’s native population, the Arabs, may flare up again at the end of the truce, which was set to expire three weeks later. Upon entering the Jewish Quarter, Gen. Glubb was surprised to find all the Jewish inhabitants speaking to each other in fluent colloquial Arabic, all of them being actually Arab Jews. They were extremely poor, but strict adherents to their religious practices. Glubb immediately contacted the local representatives of the International Red Cross, with view to coordinating the humanitarian evacuation, to a safer haven, of all non-combatant Jews, which included a very large number of women, children, and elderly people. European journalists and other eye-witnesses were deeply touched by the sight of Arab soldiers in the Arab Legion as they gallantly helped these poor and helpless looking Jews carry their belongings, and walk across to the safe havens of their choices, which were mainly located across the truce-line, on the other, Zionist-controlled side of it. As all these Arab soldiers carried the Jewish evacuees’ luggage on their own shoulders, and helped the old, the little children, the sick, and the weak amongst them in their march across the (currently quiet) fire-line, one of the European observes exclaimed: “If that is not chivalry, then I don’t know what is!” (77,86,95,96,136).

The current “Shiite-Sunni” war in Iraq is one of recent history's most atrocious hoaxes. As all Iraqis know full well, this was an artificial, if evil, situation that was maliciously and deliberately created only after March, 2003, and which bears the hallmarks of all sorts of foreign regional and world powers operating on the Iraqi field. (Messers Wolfowitz, Biden, and Brymer, in particular, have a lot to answer for). Fourteen centuries of uninterrupted Shiite-Sunni peaceful coexistence don't seem to count for anything in the eyes of the Zionist-driven, Anglo-Saxon media. They certainly do to all Iraqis, hence the miserable failure of this pathetic campaign by the Anglo-Saxons and Zionists to divide Iraq.

From the preceding discussion, it would be perfectly fair to assert that the Islamic precepts on the treatment of civilians in war and peace were the earliest (and most superior) known versions of the Geneva Convention and the UN charter on refugees and human rights that are frequently toted about, appealed to, and more often than not ignored by the “civilized” world in our times. All of these Islamic principles, that were exemplified by the four Rashidi caliphs, (notably, the iconic second Rashedi Caliph Omar ibn al-Khettaab (71,130), the Umayyad Caliph Omar ibn Abdul-Aziz, all the other Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphs (notably Haroun al-Resheed, al-Maamoun, and al-Muutessim (122,129,141)), the Memlukis, the Seljuqis, the Ayybids (notably, Saladdin (52), the Ottoman sultans (notably, sultans Selim, Muhammed the Conquerer, Sulaiman Khan II, the Lawmaker, Abdul-Aziz, and Abdul-Hemeed II (17,75), and the Palestinian leadership in the 1920s-1940s Arab war of resistance against the invading (European) Zionists of Palestine (136), to mention but a few examples, have undoubtedly inspired the modern day precepts of human rights. This conclusion is made the more likely in view of the horrendously savage records of non-Muslim, especially Mongolian and European nations (even centuries after they had, supposedly, embraced “Christianity”, or their own, peculiar version of it) on these issues (47,49,50,5161,81). (See below).

Religious Tolerance In The West

By stark contrast, the Romans' brutal treatments of the early Christians, which lasted for centuries, has been widely reported. Similarly, the way that the Scandinavians (who, by the way, only embraced Christianity very late in history, at around the 10th century AD, centuries after their more southern fellow Europeans (110)), "received" the first waves of Christian missionaries is another example of savage intolerance (5,6,12,29).

More recently, we all know how the European "Christians" treated each other (never mind how they treated followers of other, "non-Christian" faiths) throughout the millennia. Scores of millions of innocent civilians perished brutally for no reason other than that of professing the wrong sect (note, not even the wrong faith, but merely the wrong sect, Catholic, Protestant, or Orthodox), or for simply being born in the wrong household at the wrong time. We have all, no doubt, heard of such brutal wars that ravaged "civilized" Europe, as the "100-Year" war and the "Thirty-Year" war. The savage wars that raged, between the 15th and the 20th centuries between the English on the one hand, and the Scottish Highlanders and the Irish, on the other, had as much to do with religion as they did with nationalism. Even in our modern, "civilized" times, Croats (i.e., Catholic Christians) and Serbs (i.e., Greek Orthodox Christians), Northern (Protestant) Irish and Southern (Catholic) Irish have been at each others' throats, going straight for the jugular veins (5,12,14 73).

Throughout the Middle Ages (and in some cases, even beyond), the European (notably the British) class system stipulated that the land-owning family worships in a separate chapel to that of their land workers. In our own times, and until the native inhabitants of South Africa finally recovered their socio-political rights, the white South Africans (i.e., the Afrikaans, who are descended from English and Dutch colonizing settlers) prayed in separate churches from those allowed for their black fellow-Christians. As if this class- and racial-discrimination against their supposed “fellow-Christians” wasn’t enough to violate the essential principles that lie at very heart and soul of the message of Christianity, many of these establishments and communities, Europeans and their descendants, continued to practice some of the worst imaginable forms of racial and religious intolerance right up to date. The hunting, chaining, caging, shipping, and forcible conversions to (their version of) “Christianity” of West Africans (many of whom were actually Muslim) and other natives (Australian Tasmanians, New Zealand Maoris, as well as Amerindians) by the early white pioneers of America, Africa, and Australia are too widely-recognized to merit any further elaboration here. Suffice it to be said that, in the 19th century, while some of these Anglo-Saxons were still hunting blacks like they would beasts in the jungles of Africa, some of their Australian counter-parts were carrying out anthropological and bio-genetic experiments on the natives there. These experiments included the killing and dissecting of some of their Tasmanian subjects by some scientists amongst these Anglo-Saxon white pioneers of Australia, before carrying out their research on them in their laboratories. The famous rows of shelves in the skull-library of one of these English scientists have all been widely publicized since (47,73,74).

As is well-known, a large number of Christian minority groups found in the discovery of America a God-sent opportunity to flee the persecutions that they had long had to suffer at the hands of their own fellow "Christians" (examples: the Dutch Amish; the German Mennonites; the English Plymouth Brethrens). Conversely, the treatment that was meted out by the Anglo-Saxon conquerors/settlers of North America and the Spanish conquerors of South America to those regions' native Amerindian tribes, completely wiping many of them out, while making sure to erase the cultures of those that managed to physically survive, and suppressing their native, centuries' old religions into oblivion, are too well-known to be retold here (74).

According to Palmer, the British historian, who specializes in the history of the Ottomans, during the 18th century, a Serbian Prince-Priest had the severed heads of a number of Turkish soldiers who had been killed in one of the battles between the two sides, laid out on his dining table, while he and his guests enjoyed their Christmas meal. The civilian massacres by the Greek Orthodox Serbs against Bosnian Muslims and Catholic Croatians in the 1990s are too fresh and widely-witnessed to merit further description here. In Germany, up until the 1960s, Catholic and Protestant children went to different schools, and where two schools, a Catholic and a Protestant one, happened to share a common perimeter, the authorities made sure that the children played in separate playgrounds and used different toilets. Sectarian prejudices and suspicions between these two "Christian" communities in Germany as in France and other European countries linger to this very day.

In our modern times (right up to the 1960s), the racial segregation laws by the white establishment against their fellow-citizens and fellow “Christian” blacks, in the southern states of the USA (notably Texas, Alabama, and Louisiana), all furnish a myriad further set of examples of the Western “Christian” racial and religious “tolerance” (84).

Likewise, the notoriously brutal way in which the English wiped out the Tasmanian natives of Australia in the late 19th century. All of these "activities" were conducted under the banner of the cross, in the name of God, for the sake of Jesus Christ, and in the quest to spread the word of Jesus, and to enforce "Christianity" (the Version of "Christianity" that all these Western, colonial, racist powers have come to adopt and use).

The situation for Jews, for example, in eastern, central, and northern Europe, especially in countries like Russia, Poland, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Switzerland, and Germany, and, to a lesser extent, the UK, from the 9th century till the mid-19th century illustrates these intolerant attitudes even more. In all of these countries, at some point or the other, special laws were devised to specifically define, and explicitly restrict the range of permissible activities for members of the Jewish community. These restrictions included the nature, times and spaces defined for their movements, residence, their association with the respective host community at large, their trades, and the professions that they were allowed to engage in (38,45,64,76,78,95).

Thus, Europe’s chronic, centuries-long "anti-Semitism" (as has been repeatedly, compulsively asserted by the Jews and as finally "confessed" to by many modern European historians and politicians) is another example. Nazism and its counter-part extremist nationalist/religious movement, Zionism, are exclusively, and specifically European phenomena. The forceful, deceitful, occupation en masse of Palestine by the European Zionist Jews with the help of the British and the Americans, which began in late 19th century, was entirely based on religious bigotry and ideological fanaticism. The very precept that all the world Jewry have the right to take Palestine for their own, no matter what, and with total disregard to the interests of the country's native Arab populace, is nothing less than religious intolerance of the first kind, being steeped as it is in the literal, irrational, blind interpretation of these Zionists' version of the so-called "Old Testament".

In our times, the social attitudes towards their Muslim citizens of some Western countries (notably France and Denmark, and, to a lesser extent Germany) have been well-exposed. More significantly, for someone like Mr. Sarkosy, the President of the French Republic (no less !), an establishment that was founded on the famous slogans of the French revolution of 2 ½ centuries ago, namely, Liberty, Fraternity, and Equality, who himself is a Jew of Hungarian background, to stand up and state, in public, that he disapproves of the Niqaab, on the grounds that it is a symbol of subjugation for women, even for those of them who not only wear it willingly and happily, but who insist on wearing it out of their own accord, because of their religious beliefs, does not amount to religious intolerance?

What have the Arabs got to do with any of these practices of intolerance, past or present? Are we being singled out for special treatment by the Zionist-controlled Western (especially Anglo-Saxon) media, just because Palestine happens to be an Arab country, and the Zionist Jews’ long term plans dictate that the Arabs/Muslims (not the real culprits) all get feared, hated and despised by the rest of the world?


Intolerance (religious, racial, class-oriented, and political) has been infinitely more the mark of most non-Arab (notably Western, especially Anglo-Saxon, and Jewish, especially European Zionist) nations than of any Arab people.

The current (Zionist-driven Anglo-Saxon) media campaign to falsely accuse Arabs and Muslims of being bigoted, intolerant savages, has three main purposes behind it:

1- To deflect attention from the Zionists' and Anglo-Saxons' own intolerance and their avaricious hegemonistic designs (past, present, and future-planned) on the world at large, and on the Arab and Muslim world in particular

2- To perpetuate the old false pretexts for their next wave of savagery against some Arab or Muslim community or country, or the other

3- To further sow yet more seeds of sedition between one Arab or Muslim country and / or community or the other.

Sadly, some of the more gullible (less-informed and / or weak-spirited) amongst us Arabs / Muslims have, from time to time, risen to these poisoned baits, swallowing these malicious fallacies wholesale, only to regurgitate them parrot-fashion, in the process allowing ourselves to become, wittingly or unwittingly, mouth-pieces for our own mortal enemies. The fact that such nauseating, if dangerous, self-flagellation is

not unknown amongst all the nations of the earth, does not make it any less starkly pathological, nevertheless.


Religious and Ethnic Tolerance in World History

(Arab/Islamic vs. Western)

(By Ahmed B. Bash-Ayan)

21 September, 2009


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