‘Academics lied about nature of jihad’: Extraordinary claim increases government pressure to rescue Iraq’s terrified minorities

by - 12th August 2014

RELIGIOUS MINORITIES in Iraq who are facing the severest Islamic penalties for not converting are the victims of ‘a lie foisted upon the world’ by Western scholars.

Academics who ignored the facts of what happens to minorities in ‘jihad zones’ allowed ‘cultural blindness and intellectual amnesia’ to distort policy making in Iraq leaving minorities exposed to terror, claims a jihad expert.

The furious claim is made today by eminent Australian writer Dr Mark Durie, an Anglican priest and theologian, as news of medieval treatment of Christians, Yazidis and other  Muslim minorities by the so-called Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) escalates calls for Western intervention.

Says Durie in a paper published today by Lapido Media (read it here):  ‘The lie foisted upon the world was that there was nothing non-Muslims needed to be protected from.  

‘But the world is in but the early stages of a (now resumed) centuries-long war with militant Islam.’

He said that those who managed the Western occupation of Iraq were deeply ignorant of the dangers to non-Muslim minorities posed by the Islamic revival, duped by ‘experts’.

‘They did not grasp that jihad war zones always prove especially deadly to non-Muslims, even when the main conflict is between Muslims.’

Durie singles out for particular criticism the UK’s Colin Chapman, author of the widely-read Cross and Crescent, together with renowned Professor John L Esposito of Georgetown University in Washington, who had ‘denied and obscured’ the hard cold reality of militant Islamic imperialism.

But he reserves his strongest condemnation for those who ‘deny or downplay the military meaning of jihad.’

He describes as ‘preposterous’ and ‘extreme’ the work of Yale theologian Miroslav Volf who claims that the use of military force to expand Islam is ‘rejected by all leading Muslim scholars today’. 

Durie claims that Western scholars' promotion of the idea of the 'greater jihad' as a personal spiritual struggle ‘served to distract Western leaders, such as CIA director John Brennan, who stated that “jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one's community”.’

Says Durie:  ‘If the true meaning of jihad was a spiritual struggle with the self, IS would not be attracting so many willing volunteers from around the globe to the killing fields of Syria and Iraq.’

Durie refutes Chapman’s claim that Jews and Christians were ‘protected’, implying that the jizya - a special tax levied on non-Muslims - was paid in compensation for them not doing military service or paying the Muslims’ alms tax (zakat). 

‘In reality the main protection afforded to dhimmis is that they can keep their heads away from the sword of jihad, and it was in return for this privilege that the jizya is exacted.’

Quoting both the Qur’an and other Muslim sources in a long and devastating analysis based on his acclaimed book The Third Choice, Durie says that in reality jizya - a special payment - was a non-Muslim tax to militant Muslims on their lives.

‘The word dhimma is derived from an Arabic word meaning “to blame”.  It implies a liability or debt arising from fault or blame. The idea is that the non-Muslims, known as dhimmis, owe a debt to their conquerors for their lives, and non-observance of the treaty of surrender would attract blame and thus incur punishment.’

Revd Chapman, the former Archbishop of Canterbury’s envoy to Al-Azhar University in Cairo, responded by calling Durie a ‘textualist’.

He said:  ‘The problem is that Mark is absolutely right to draw attention to texts because IS bases what it is doing on a very particular understanding of those texts. But to understand IS, or Hamas or Boko Haram you need a lot more than proof-texts.’

Dr John Azuma, professor at Columbia Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia accused Durie of ‘essentializing’. 

‘It is too simplistic to draw a straight line between text and action and claim the one is the effect of the other. There is no doubt that ISIS’ demand of non-Muslims to convert, pay jizya or die goes back to Islamic sourcebooks. But the working details of these are so complicated in the books which Mark, like ISIS, is ignoring.

‘For instance, ISIS has no legal leg whatsoever to stand on to declare a jihad. This is the preserve of a legitimate ruler, not a band of terrorists.’

Unilateral declarations of jihad would lead to anarchy and all Islamic legal books were clear about this.

He asked:  ‘How about the Kurdish Muslims who are dying to protect these minorities? Are they not Muslims reading the same Quran and saying the same prayers as ISIS?’

It was not true that where Muslims lived with non-Muslims always meant the enforcement of the jizya tax.

‘This was applied haphazardly throughout history. And there are countless examples of Muslims living with non-Muslims who paid no jizya,’ he added.


In fast-moving developments, the British government is being urged to recall Parliament from its summer recess in view of the seriousness of the IS threat, presumably mindful not just of the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding, but of the fact that a third of Iraq’s oil is potentially within their reach.

The US began targeted bombing of IS weaponry over the weekend, as the Assyrian Aid Society of Iraq reported that parents are throwing their children to their deaths off the mountain of Sinjar to which they have fled, rather than see them die of thirst or be taken into slavery by IS.  

Says Durie: ‘When the men are killed, captured women and children are enslaved to be used for sex, deployed as human shields in battle zones, or sold to be used and abused as their new owners see fit.’

“Vibrant diversity”

The sense of Western incapacity to grasp the categories involved is highlighted by the UN Ambassador to Iraq’s recent statement at the UN on 5 August.

Samantha Power called for ‘greater cooperation’, urging ‘all parties to the conflict’ to allow access to UN relief agencies. She called on Iraqis to ‘come together’ so that Iraq will ‘get back on the path to a peaceful future’ and ‘prevent ISIL from obliterating Iraq’s vibrant diversity’.

Says Durie in what will inevitably be greeted as a controversial view:  ‘Of course it is not “vibrant diversity” which is being wiped out in Iraq, but men, women and children by their tens of thousands. 

‘This is not about the failure of coexistence, and the problem is not “conflict”. This is not about people who have trouble getting on and who need to somehow make up and “come together”.

‘It is about a well-articulated and well-documented theological worldview hell-bent on dominating “infidels”, if necessary wiping them off the face of the earth, in order to establish the power and grandeur of a radical vision of Islam.’


Read Mark Durie's full piece here>>

The Third Choice: Islam, Dhimmitude and Freedom by Mark Durie.  Order your copy here.