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Emet m'Tsiyon

Thursday, June 23, 2005

KARL MARX on the Ottoman/Muslim Governmental System & Oppression of Non-Muslims

Karl Marx's description of the Muslim attitudes and Muslim law concerning non-Muslims is remarkably similar to descriptions of the same by contemporary writers. Ironically, this portrayal of Muslim law and attitudes is more often held by those today designated "right-wingers," than by Communists, who are likely to be uncritical (calling themselves "critical") supporters of jihad. Marx's account is found in his column in the New York Tribune of 15 April 1854. The Tribune was edited by Horace Greeley, the famous editor, who advocated American settlement of the Western territories of the US, including the Louisiana Purchase (obtained from France) and other lands obtained from Mexico by war or purchase.
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"The Koran and the Mussulman legislation emanating from it reduce the geography and ethnography of the various peoples to the simple and convenient distinction of two nations and of two countries; those of the Faithful and of the Infidels. The Infidel is "harby," i.e., the enemy [NOTE: harb is an Arabic word for war]. Islamism proscribes the nation of the Infidels, constituting a state of permanent hostility between the Mussulman and the unbeliever. In that sense the corsair [= pirate] ships of the Berber States [= Barbary Coast, North African pirate ports] were the holy fleet of the Islam. How, then, is the existence of Christian subjects of the Porte [= Ottoman central govt] to be reconciled with the Koran?

[here Marx gives a long quote from Cesar Famin]
'If a town,' says the Mussulman legislation, 'surrenders by capitulation, and its inhabitants consent to become rayahs, that is, subjects of a Mussulman prince without abandoning their creed, they have to pay the kharatch (capitation tax) [= kharaj], when they obtain a truce with the faithful, and it is not permitted any more to confiscate their estates than to take away their houses . . . In this case their old churches form part of their property, with permission to worship therein. But they are not allowed to erect new ones. They have only authority for repairing them, and to reconstruct their decayed portions. At certain epochs commissaries delegated by the provincial governors are to visit the churches and sanctuaries of the Christians, in order to ascertain that no new buildings have been added under pretext of repairs. If a town is conquered by force, the inhabitants retain their churches, but only as places of abode or refuge, without permission to worship.
"Constantinople having surrendered by capitulation, as in like manner the greater portion of European Turkey, the Christians there enjoy the privileges of living as rayahs [non-Muslim subjects], under the Turkish Government. This privilege they have, exclusively by virtue of their agreeing to accept the Mussulman protection. It is, therefore, owing to this circumstance alone that the Christians submit to be governed by the Mussulmans, according to Mussulman law, that the Patriarch of Constantinople, their spiritual chief, is at the same time their political representative, and their Chief Justice. Wherever, in the Ottoman Empire, we find an agglomeration of Greek rayahs, the [subordinate prelates] . . . rule over the repartition of the taxes [= distribution of the tax burden] imposed upon the Greeks. The Patriarch is responsible to the Porte as to the conduct of his co-religionists. Invested with the right of judging the rayahs of his Church, he delegates this right to [subordinate prelates]. . . their sentences being obligatory for the executive officers, kadis, etc., of the Porte to carry out. The punishments which they have the right to pronounce are fines, imprisonment, bastonade, and exile . . . The Patriarch pays to the Divan [= Muslim govt] a heavy tribute in order to obtain his investiture, but he sells, in his turn, the [subordinate church offices] . . . to the clergy . . . The latter indemnify themselves by the sale of subaltern dignities, and the tribute exacted from the popes [= local priests]. These again sell [priestly services]. . .

"It is evident from this expose that this fabric of theocracy over the Greek Christians of Turkey, and the whole structure of their society, has its keystone in the subjection of the rayah under the Koran, which in its turn, by treating them as infidels . . . [facilitates their subjection by their own clergy]. Then, if you abolish their subjection under the Koran, by a civil emancipation, you cancel at the same time their subjection to the clergy, and provoke a [social] revolution. . . If you supplant the Koran by a code civil, you must occidentalize the entire structure of Byzantine society."

Further on in this same article, Marx states (as quoted in the earlier blog item on the oppression of Jews in Jerusalem):
The Mussulmans, forming about a fourth part of the whole, and consisting of Turks, Arabs, and Moors, are, of course, the masters in every respect


NOTE: This system of oppression is decreed in the Qur`an (IX:29), where the Muslims are commanded to fight the unbelievers until they are humbled and agree to pay tribute.
It is obvious from Marx's account, which is in accord with descriptions by contemporary writers on Islamic society, Bat Yeor, Daniel Pipes, David Bukay, etc., that traditional Muslim society --based on Muslim law-- is oppressive, humiliates the non-Muslim (here called rayah instead of dhimmi), and has some features in common with racism and apartheid, although it is theoretically not based on skin color or biological race. The dhimmis pay special taxes, that is, have a much heavier tax burden than the Muslim subjects of the state, plus undergoing all sorts of restrictions, humiliations, inferior status, etc. Marx's account seems mostly based on Cesar Famin's book from which he quotes at length above. It is of interest that not only Western governments that Communists and other Leftists might describe as "capitalist, imperialist" overlook this whole historical social situation, but the Communists and Left on the whole also overlook it, or even deny it. It would be especially inconvenient for the Left, fanatically Judeophobic as most of them are today (deriving their Judeophobia, it seems, especially from the German philosophic tradition going back to Kant and Hegel, Marx's mentors, and from the subsidies of wealthy Judeophobes), to admit that historically the Jews in Arab-Muslim lands were oppressed (exploited and humiliated) by the Muslims, as Marx describes in the same article in the New York Tribune (15 April 1854) , as quoted in an earlier blog entry.
As said, Marx's main source seems to have been Cesar Famin, Histoire de la rivalite et du protectorat des eglises chretiennes en Orient (Paris, 1853).

CNN this morning featured a homily on the need to legitimate Hamas since it has the democratic support of most residents of the Palestinian Authority zones. This may indicate a US govt intention to allow the Hamas to replace the PLO/Fatah which seems incapable of ruling and unifying itself. This reminds us that certain American leaders like Ramsey Clark (of the American Civil Liberties Union) and ex-prez Jiminy Carter come from families active as leaders in the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan enjoyed much popular support --even majority support-- in certain parts of the USA. Hence, the Klan in its day was as democratic as the Hamas. In both cases, these terrorist bodies represented ethnic or religious groups that had lost political power to other groups because of political changes and wanted to retain or regain their power. As Blacks in the US South were treated as inferiors so were Jews treated as inferiors in traditional Muslim society. And the Hamas, like the Klan, wants to restore the traditional system of oppression, albeit, bloody as the Klan was, it can't compete with the Hamas. All the same, Jiminy and Ramsey (or is it Ramzi?) still have a soft spot for Hamas. An analogy could also be made with Sunni terrorists in Iraq today who always lorded it over Shi'ites, fellow Muslims, whom they sometimes accuse of being "Jews" or influenced by Jews. Shi`ite desires for a more equal status seem to justify mass slaughter of Shi`ites (What would either group do to the Jews?). Most of the Left and Communists today support Muslim Jihad. Leave a comment if you think I'm wrong.

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Announcing: an important book on Jewish/Israeli/Land of Israel history has just been published in English by the Yad Ben Zvi. This is Israel: People, Land, State, edited by Avigdor Shinan. The book has chapters on all the historical periods of the Land of Israel since the time of Joshua till today, including excellent chapters on the little known Byzantine, Early Muslim, Crusader, Mamluk, and Ottoman periods. It is written by scholars and contains beautiful illustrations of rare ancient objects, archeological findings, paintings, etc. Now available at a special discount price at the Hebrew Book Fair in Jerusalem and other cities, at the Yad Ben Zvi stand.

3 Comments:

  • Now that SHavua HaSefer is over, does anyone know where to find a copy of: Israel: People, Land, State, edited by Avigdor Shinan - in English, and how much it costs?

    Thanks.

    By Blogger Ze'ev, at 5:04 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Avi Green, at 1:28 PM  

  • Dear Ze'ev,
    I don't know whether I missed answering your query before. In case I did miss answering it, I'm sorry.
    The book, Israel: People, Land, State,
    was published by Yad Ben Zvi or Makhon Ben Zvi in Jerusalem. You can probably order it directly from the publishers. I believe that the cost now in the off season, in January, might be somewhere in the area of 100 sheqels. This is a large format book with a lot of illustrations, many of them very interesting and/or beautiful. The book does have a very elegant appearance. Maybe since you're involved in Jewish education you could get them to sell the book to you at a discount. Maybe you could even ask for the Book Week price. I can't be sure.
    Of course, if it's inconvenient for you to contact the publisher, then I'm sure that Steimatzky or any other regular bookstore could order for you, although the price might be better directly from the publisher [especially if you explain that you're in Jewish education].
    I hope this helps.
    Eliyahu

    By Blogger Eliyahu m'Tsiyon, at 1:46 PM  

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