While the ethnic-cleansing of Iraqi Christians in Mosul and burning their 1800 years old church received by Islamists terror group known as Islamic State was widely covered in Arabic media it received very little attention in Britain and the west. Christians, who lived in Iraq for hundreds of years before Islam took over the region by invading Muslim army from Arabia in the seventh century A.D. were forced to leave Mosul ( the first major town to fall into the hands of ISIL ( Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) two months ago when the Iraqi army fled leaving millions of pounds worth of American military gear to them.
The self-proclaimed leader of Muslims in IS , Caliph Ibrahim ( terror leader with nom de guerre was Abu Bakr el-Baghdadi ) Thursday 17 July , gave Christians a 48 hour ultimatum, [Saturday 19th July] which was more of of a Mafia style “ an offer they can’t refuse” a choice of one of three options: To convert to Islam; to pay a poll tax ( protection money ) known as Jezyiah (Islamic definition scholarly definition ) or leave the land controlled by IS.
Remaining in their homes as they have been for millennia wasn’t an option. “ If you refuse any of options,” Caliph Ibrahm said “ then you will, be put to the sword.”
Jezyah is protection money imposed on non-Muslims indigenous population in land conquered by Muslims invaders starting from the seventh and eighth century A.D.
This poll tax became main revenue of the Islamic-Arab colonial administration in the conquered territories that made the Islamic empire. Colonial administration, in turn, sent a percentage to the capital of the empire (Mecca, then Damascus then Baghdad) .
Conversion to Islam option, had its historic precedents. It was an excuse to conquer than genuine missionary evangelism. ( see Islam and war ) A strong Muslim warrior leader would write to the ruler or king of the targeted land inviting him to embrace Islam. Since conversion would to subject them to rule from the capital of the invaders, ruler turns down the invitation providing a pretext for invasion. Zealous Muslim scholars deny that Islam was spread by the sword , but they seldom provide convincing evidence of the conquering warriors sending missionaries with literature or oral messages to teach inhabitants of targeted land about the new faith . IS leader, who emulates Caliphs of eighth century in attire and language followed their example in conversion option.
As for Jezyah, it wasn’t a one off windfall tax, but for life or until they convert to Islam. The origin of protection money to the conqueror predates Islam, which from 6011 A.D it grew, by conversion and by prophet Muhammed led wars in Arabia into both the faith and the political ideology of conquest and to rule colonised territories.
Pre Islam raids between tribes of Arabia was recgonised events in times of famine or when a tribe runs out of food supplies or live stock ( mainly goats). A stronger tribe would raid the camps – known as a madharib – of a weaker or weakened- tribe near oasis or natural resource. The invaders take their goods, live-stock, women and some of their children to be enslaved, killed or ransomed back by a sympathetic wealthy chieftain. Unwritten rules and code of honour developed over the years like not to kill surrendering or unarmed escaping opponent not to burn the defeated tents, or poison their wells and to leave them some live-stock enough to survive in the harsh conditions of the desert.
Prophet Mohammed ( 570-632 AD) message with Quran – he said it was delivered to him by god’s angel ( 609 AD), ended some pre-Islam practice ( like burying alive of female babies, prostitution and honour killing) and reorganised others like war booty from raids to become Jezyah but imposed on non-muslims.
Muslim colonial rulers often didn’t encourage conversion to Islam to keep revenue coming from Jezyah like in Iberia (Andalusia in Arabic) or Egypt ( a three year backdate collection in 11thcentury caused mass conversion to Islam by majority except areas where rich crop provided farmers enough wealth to pay the tax, those are the areas where large number of Christians living today in southern Egypt).
In short, I.S. latest message to Christians is nothing but start of an ethnic cleansing to make the area an exclusively sunni-Muslims land; they also burnet three major Shia shrines there .