The Archbishop of Canterbury said today that ‘Christians face daily the threat of violence, murder, intimidation, prejudice and poverty.’
‘Across the region Christian communities that were the foundation of the universal Church now face the threat of imminent extinction.’
While some will try to frame this as Muslims oppressing Christians, or blame the rise of Islamic sentiments in the region, nothing could be further from the truth.
Muslims even more than Christians face the ‘daily the threat of violence, murder, intimidation, prejudice and poverty’ in the Middle East due to tyrannical rulers who do not implement Islam. This is also the case outside the Middle East in places such as Burma, Afghanistan and China.
The only reason Christians and Churches still exist in the Middle East is due to Islamic rule – the Caliphate – which protected Christians for over a millennia. However, since the Caliphate’s abolition in 1924 and the rise of nationalistic, secular, non-Islamic states all peoples both Muslim and non-Muslim are suffering.
Thomas Arnold, the famous orientalist comments on this point: ‘But of any organised attempt to force the acceptance of Islam on the non-Muslim population, or of any systematic persecution intended to stamp out the Christian religion, we hear nothing. Had the Caliphs chosen to adopt either course of action, they might have swept away Christianity as easily as Ferdinand and Isabella drove Islam out of Spain, or Louis XIV made Protestantism penal in France, or the Jews were kept out of England for 350 years.’ [Thomas W.Arnold, ‘The Preaching of Islam,’ Second Edition, Kitab Bhavan Publishers, p. 72]
Hani Shukrallah, a Coptic Christian and a former editor of the newspaper Al-Ahram writes: ‘It is not easy to empty Egypt of its Christians; they’ve been here for as long as there has been Christianity in the world. Close to a millennium and half of Muslim rule did not eradicate the nation’s Christian community, rather it maintained it sufficiently strong and sufficiently vigorous so as to play a crucial role in shaping the national, political and cultural identity of modern Egypt.
Yet now, two centuries after the birth of the modern Egyptian nation state, and as we embark on the second decade of the 21st century, the previously unheard of seems no longer beyond imagining: a Christian-free Egypt, one where the cross will have slipped out of the crescent’s embrace, and off the flag symbolizing our modern national identity…’
Non-Muslim citizens of the Islamic State are called Dhimmi (people of covenant) and they are dealt with according to the guidance of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ who said: ‘He who harms a person under covenant, or charged him more than he can, I will argue against him on the Day of Judgement.’ (Narrated by Yahya b. Adam in the book of Al-Kharaaj)
Only with the re-establishment of the Caliphate can the plight of all peoples and religions in the Middle East and beyond be improved.