No man can know where he is going unless he knows exactly where he has been and exactly how he arrived at his present place (Maya Angelou).
List of contents
II. The peaceful spread of early Christianity contrasted with the oppression of islamization
III. Methods of islamization: Islamic persecution of Christians
A. The dhimma
IV. Methods of islamization: Immigration
V. Methods of islamization: Fertility rates
VI. Methods of islamization: Political instability
VII. Egyptian revolts against Islamic Arab imperialism
VIII. Islamization and the rise of Islam in today’s Egypt
Inspirationals from the Holy Bible:
"And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8: 32); "The LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, 'Blessed is Egypt My people'" (Isaiah 19: 25a); "Show me Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day" (Psalm 25 :4-5); "Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, For I lift up my soul to You. Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God" (Psalm 143: 8b, 10a).
Why were you born in Islam? A brief analysis is provided herein to answer this pivotal question based on historical facts. The historical facts herein are derived from the history of the rise of Islam in Egypt, which provides a paradigm of the history of the spread of Islam in conquered Christian nations under Islamic persecution.
The immediate answer is that you were born in Islam because your parents were Muslims at your birth. Although faith is not inherited, the immediate family religious background provides a powerful influence orienting and shaping the person’s religious beliefs, and developing defensive and offensive mechanisms against other religious systems. This is most pronounced in Islam because, in Islamic countries, the power of the Islamic government enforces the rule of the Islamic law that a person born to Muslim parents is recorded as Muslim in the state’s birth records. But that is only the beginning of the process. The Islamic state undertakes an intensive program of Islamic indoctrination of the young through a number of powerful avenues, including the mosques, the public school system, and the media (Radio, Television, the Press, and various publications). All are financed by the Islamic government. The main objectives and ultimate goals of Islamic indoctrination are the islamization of the local population and the destruction of the indigenous Christian culture. The program of Islamic indoctrination includes historical negation that presents one thousand years of violent bloody Islamic Jihad, which resulted in wide-spread destruction, pillage, killing, and abusive enslavement of women, as a series of peaceful conquests welcomed by the vanquished populations.
Islamic indoctrination suppresses the histories of all pre-Islamic civilizations: Pharaonic, Coptic (Egyptian Christian), Syriac, Assyrian, Phoenician, and so on. For instance, Coptic history from the first to the seventh centuries was removed from the textbooks of public schools for decades till the year 2002. In 1868, the Egyptian sheikh Rifa al-Tahtawi published a history of Egypt giving full attention to her glorious Pharaonic civilization. Up to then, the history of Egypt, as distorted by Islamists, had begun with the Arab conquests. This challenged the official Islamic dogma that pre-Islamic times were times of barbarism and ignorance unworthy of consideration. This concept is cultural imperialism. Hostility toward pre-Islamic civilizations reached the point that in the reign of al-Hakem B’amr Allah (996-1021), the face of the sphinx was mutilated and its nose was broken. Islamic Arabic rulers used the lime stone that covered the pyramids in their building projects. History is reinvented and an imaginary version of it is promulgated in order to foster the glorification of the Islamic Arab military conquests, and to claim Islamic supremacy and the superiority of Islamic civilization despite historical evidence to the contrary.
The program of Islamic indoctrination also includes the Islamization of the schools’ curriculum which is imbued with anti-Christian and anti-Jewish materials. It also launches a campaign of defamation in the media, the mosques and the schools against Christianity and its teachings and clergy. Non-Muslims are designated as Kuffar (unbelievers), scorned, vilified, and denigrated as infidels. This promotes an atmosphere of hatred, contempt and intolerance of non-Muslims.
For the same reasons, your parents, your grandparents, etc. were born Muslims. This is traced back to your great grandparents who were not born Muslims. They were Christians. They had been born to Christian1 parents. In fact, the entire Egyptian population was Christian on the eve of the Islamic Arab invasion of 640 AD. This means your ancient heritage is Christian, not Islamic. These great grand parents, who were weak in their Christian faith, converted to Islam under pressure. Conversion under pressure is not a legitimate conversion, because it is not based on deep conviction and true commitment to a different religion or ideology. It is done to avoid either economic persecution or physical persecution, or they were lured into it by materialistic and intermarriage incentives.
After the Fatimid era, conversions to Islam were not reversible. The rule of Islamic Sharia that requires the punishment of execution for the Muslim who leaves Islam2 was enforced. History tells us that during the Fatimid era many converts to Islam returned back to Christianity when they were given the chance to do so without punishment. Had your great grand parents been given the chance to return back to Christianity without being persecuted for it, they most likely would have chosen to do so. Perhaps, you might consider that yourself sometime down the road.
So, if time could be rolled back, and the elements of pressure and compulsion are removed from the sad history of Egypt under Islamic rule, you would most likely be born to Christian parents. And you would most likely choose to remain faithful to your beloved Christ as you grow up for reasons we are discussing in this website.
Because the conversion of your great grand parents from Christianity to Islam took place under pressure and duress, and therefore was not legitimate, and because that conversion was the reason you are a Muslim today, you owe it to yourself as a free responsible person to question your status as a Muslim, and take a fresh look at Christ with an unbiased neutral open mind free from the bonds of any preconceived notions, and decide whether you want to stay a Muslim, or come back to your forsaken Christ, thereby regaining your eternal salvation, reclaiming your lost personal heritage and national identity of timeless Egypt. “But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29 NKJV). “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20 NKJV).
II. THE PEACEFUL SPREAD OF EARLY CHRISTIANITY CONTRASTED WITH THE OPPRESSION OF ISLAMIZATION
It is important to emphasize the great difference between the spread of Christianity in Egypt in the early Christian era (the first three centuries A.D.), and the process of Islamization under pressure during the past fourteen centuries. Unlike Islam, early Christianity was not dependent on an earthly state to propagate it by armed expansion and military conquest. Christ refused an earthly kingdom (Injil, John 6:15; 18:36 NKJV). He did not incarnate to establish an earthly empire in this dispensation, but to inaugurate the spiritual kingdom of God, the beginning of the new creation. Your great ancestors who converted to Christianity from paganism did not do so under pressure. They had converted out of deep conviction, commitment, and love to Christ. Christ and his apostles did not send out an invading army into Egypt to conquer, rule, and convert the country to Christianity. Instead, they sent unarmed peaceful evangelists to preach the Gospel of Christ. The most known of those evangelists is St. Mark the evangelist who was martyred in Alexandria by pagans in 68 AD.
In fact, the Egyptian Christians in the early centuries of Christianity in Egypt were so strong in there Christian faith and commitment to Christ that they stood fast for Christ against multitudes of severe and bloody Roman persecutions, the most brutal of which was the Diocletian persecution of the fourth century (303-311). It failed to stop the tide of Christianity. The number of Egyptian Christians who were martyred for their faith in this persecution exceeded 800,000 martyres.3 A conversion based on the responsible exercise of the person’s free will, and grounded in his strong conviction and commitment to Christ is certainly a valid conversion.
It is indeed tragic that many Christians in those cruel centuries of the Islamic Arab rule converted to Islam because of persistent unrelenting Islamic persecution by the invading Muslim Arabs of Egyptians who initially refused to convert to Islam. While at times these persecutions were violent and bloody, most of the time it was economical persecution in the form of al-jizya (Sura al-tawbah 9:29), al-kharaj (land tax), and periodic heavy ransoms imposed by the Muslim ruler whenever he needed more money to finance his wars. Poor families who were unable to pay al-jizya were forced to surrender their innocent children to the Muslim rulers as payment. The Muslim rulers would then sell them as slaves to Muslim households where they were forced into Islam, or force these helpless children into Islam and then use them to fight their wars for them. The economic persecution took also the form of dismissing Egyptian Christians from their government jobs if they did not convert to Islam. That is how all the Muslims of Egypt came to be Muslims. They did not adopt Islam out of conviction and free-will choice.
The Egyptian Muslims of today are borne in Muslim families because their great grandparents were either forced into Islam by persecution and coercion, or adopted Islam to obtain material gain (to get a government job, etc), or to retain family wealth (only a Muslim convert from the family could inherit the wealth of another family member who converted), or were taken into captivity as slaves when they were children and were brought up in Muslim households, or their great grandmothers were raped by invading Muslim Arab soldiers or tribesmen and forced to become their concubines. After all, Muhammad allowed Muslim men to take concubines (Sura al-Ahzab 33:50; al-Nisa 4:3, 24), and he himself had an unknown number of concubines in addition to his wives. This is very dehumanizing, humiliating, and demeaning to women.
These are the very methods used today by the fundamentalist Islamic government of the Sudan against the Christians of the Sudan. Similar methods are used to a lesser extent in Egypt today in order to force Christians to convert to Islam (discrimination in job hiring and promotions, kidnapping of minor Christian girls and raping them, etc.). History is merely repeating itself. As you know, the end result is that the face of Egypt was changed and mutilated from a Christian majority nation to a Muslim majority and a persecuted Christian minority nation.
The Islamic Arab imperialistic rule is ended a long time ago. However, it left behind it the deposit of Islam and the Arabic language. The Islamic Arab invasion of Egypt literally raped the very soul of the country. Of course these historical truths are not taught in the schools of Egypt. A rosy picture is painted for the Islamic Arab rule. The truth is suppressed for political and religious reasons. This is part of the process of Islamic indoctrination—attempting to program the minds of deceived well-intentioned Muslim people the way the computer of a robot is programmed. This manipulation is a crime of violating the human person whom God created in His image (Torah, Genesis 1:26-27).
III. METHODS OF ISLAMIZATION: ISLAMIC PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS
The following is a brief discussion of the methods of coercion and pressure utilized by the Islamic rulers of Egypt over the past centuries to Islamize the Egyptian population.
Violent islamization peaked in two periods in the history of Egypt: during the early Abbasid era in the ninth century following the defeat of the Egyptian revolts against the Islamic Arab rule, and during the Bahri Mamluk era (1250-1390). In both periods, wide-spread Islamic violent outbreaks against the indigenous Egyptian Christian population took place.
With the exception of the Umayyad rule, some Abbasid rulers, and the Fatimid caliph Al-Hakem B’Amr Allah, the early Islamic era was characterized by religious tolerance, and a sense of justice.4 Severe physical persecution (imprisonment, physical torture, maiming, killing, and destroying churches) occurred sporadically. However, economic persecution persisted throughout the Islamic rule till it ceased in modern times (19th century).
The Islamic Arab invaders looked at Egypt as a fat cow that they wanted to milk and exploit. Being non-Muslims, all able-bodied adult male Christians, with the exception of clergymen and monks, were required to pay the poll tax of al-jizya (at-Tawbah 9: 29).5 “Families who were unable to pay the Islamic taxes were forced to surrender their children in part payment of their jizya."6 The Umayyad ruler of Egypt, Abd-el-Aziz Ibn Marawan (685-705), imposed the poll tax on the clergy and monks as well.7 In order to avoid the financial burden of this tax, Christians of weak faith, converted to Islam, which resulted in declining revenue. In order to compensate for that, the Muslim ruler would increase the tax even more on Christians that refused to abandon their faith and commitment to Christ.8 It reached the point where the Umayyad ruler of Egypt, Abd Allah Ibn Abd-al-Malik (705-709), commanded that a dead Christian Egyptian person was not permitted to be buried until his family paid his tax even if he had died of starvation.9
In addition to the poll tax, a peasant was required to pay the Kharaj (land tax) for the right to cultivate his land whose ownership was claimed by the Muslim ruler (al-Hashr 59: 6-7; Muslim 19.4363).10 Whenever the Muslim ruler needed additional funds to finance his wars, or for any other purpose, he resorted to extortion from the Dhimmi community. Church leaders were often imprisoned and tortured till ransom was paid by their community.11 It goes without saying that heavy taxation, periodic heavy fines, occasional confiscation of Church property impoverished the indigenous Christian communities under Islamic Arab rule, made its daily life harder, and led to corruption and weakness in the Church.12
The tax collectors resorted to punishments and torture to carry out their task. In the darkest periods of persecution, collection of the poll tax of al-jizya encompassed a ritual intended to humiliate the Christian person. The Muslim tax-collector slapped the Christian man on the back of his neck or on his head telling him: ‘O unbeliever, pay al-jizya.’ This was followed by the Christian man handing him the tax money with his head bowed down and his back bent while the tax-collector held him by the beard.
Measures to ensure humiliation and degradation were applied to Christians and Jews most of the time. These included dress code (wearing course clothes with specific colors and special belts), transportation codes (riding donkeys not horses, standing aside to allow a Muslim to pass, and wearing small bells in public baths). The conquered people of Egypt were required to disarm completely on pain of death or enslavement. Legitimate self-defense against a Muslim attacker was regarded as aggression. The Muslim Arab soldier had the right to choose to dwell in any Egyptian house in the spring of every year. The head of the household was required to accept him in his house as a guest. The Muslim Arab soldier did not bring his wives with him. He would sexually abuse the Egyptian women of the house. The Egyptian Christians were prohibited from testifying in Muslim courts. Therefore, the Egyptian Christian was forced to purchase his innocence by buying Muslim witnesses and by bribing the Muslim judge.
With a few exceptions, particularly in the Fatimid era, throughout the Islamic rule, Christians were not permitted to build new churches. In fact, the last Umayyad caliph, Marwan II (744-750) pillaged and destroyed many churches and monasteries in Egypt. The caliphs Mahdi (775-785) and Harun al-Rashid (786-809) ordered the destruction of all the churches in the Abbasid Empire built after the Islamic conquest.
With the exception of a few years in the reign of al-Hakem B’amr Allah, the period of least persecution was the Fatimid era (972-1171) which was characterized by exceeding justice. It is considered the golden age of indigenous Christianity under Islam in Egypt. Christians were permitted to celebrate their religious feasts publicly (Muslims used to participate in the public processions in Egypt--after all, this was their national heritage), and rebuild their churches. Those that denied their Christian faith under pressure were permitted to return back to the Christian faith without punishment.13 Muslims were allowed to convert to Christianity without punishment.14
Al-Hakem B’amr Allah (996-1021) persecuted the Christians of Egypt and the Levant for nine years in his reign. Christians were not allowed to hold services in their churches. More than 30,000 churches were demolished. He ordered the burning of the Church of the holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. He killed a great number of priests, and confiscated Church and private Christian property. He threw the Coptic Patriarch Zacharia to hungry lions, but they did not attack him as the Lord protected him. He then let him go. In addition, he imposed humiliating rules for Christians: wearing only black clothes, wearing five pound wooden crosses (for Christian men only), riding donkeys for their transportation instead of horses, etc.15 This was the severest persecution Christianity in Egypt and the Levant suffered under Islamic Arab rule. However, a few years before his death, he reversed his position toward Christians, returned the confiscated property and allowed them to rebuild their churches and monasteries. The reason for this change of heart was his new friendship with a Coptic monk called Biemen. Under persecution, the monk converted to Islam. Feeling guilty for betraying his Christ, he approached the caliph and declared to him that he is going back to Christ on the pain of death. Instead of killing him, he admired his courage and commitment, befriended him, and permitted him to build a monastery, where he used to visit him and spend time with the monks to talk, eat and drink in their company.
Persecution of Christians increased in intensity and frequency in the age of the crusades and Mamluks. The crusades (1096-1292) started with the noble goal of gaining control of the holy land in Palestine in order to protect Christian pilgrims and shrines.
However, "the enterprise, which had its inception in the urge to defend Christendom, came near to destroying Christendom's eastern wing." If in the 11th century this separated Christian wing was often a majority in some territories, in the aftermath of the crusade it was to decline to a negligible and peripheral minority.16
Thus, the crusades turned out to be one of the greatest calamities that befell the communities of eastern Christians. Muslims looked suspiciously at native Christians whom they feared may assist the crusaders, as Muslims did not understand the differences between Chalcedonians and non-Chalcedonians, and between eastern and western Christianity. To them, Christians were all alike, as they bore the same cross. Therefore, persecution of indigenous Christianity intensified. Taxes and Muslim mob violence against Christians increased. On the other hand, the crusaders discriminated against native Christians. In fact, they prevented the Christian Egyptians from visiting the holy land which they controlled.17 The Ayyubids, who had destroyed the largest Coptic cathedral in Alexandria, St. Mark cathedral, gave the Coptic Church the monastery of the Sultan in Jerusalem after retaking Jerusalem in 1187. When the crusaders invaded Egypt, they killed indiscriminately Muslims and Christians alike.18 The Latins invaded to conquer, not to liberate the oppressed.
Organized fanatic Muslim religious brotherhoods, which flourished in Egypt since the thirteenth century, manipulated the Muslim populace in the Mamluk era, which was characterized by arbitrariness, turbulence, intrigue and instability. The Muslim brotherhoods incited and led the Muslim populace to commit unprecedented wide-spread violence against the Egyptian Christians throughout the country. Several major outbreaks occurred in 1283, 1293, 1301, 1321 and 1354. Destruction of churches, killing Christians and looting their properties took place frequently. Repeated confiscation of Church property and shutting up churches, except monastery churches, occurred in the Mamluk era.19 Dismissing Christians from their government jobs took place frequently to placate Muslim mobs, and pressure Christians into Islam. Imprisoning and torturing the Coptic Patriarch occurred from time to time. Some of the severest persecutions that occurred in the Mamluk era took place in the reign of sultan Muhammad ibn Qalawon (1310-1341). Muslim mobs stirred by Muslim brotherhoods and supported by Mamluk princes committed violence and atrocities against the Egyptian Christians by killing a number of them, and destroying and looting their churches. Unable to keep order, the sultan decreed that whoever kills a Christian could get his possessions. Dress codes were enforced to distinguish Christians and Jews from Muslims.
This persecution pattern of lawless Muslim mob violence incited by Muslim brotherhoods and supported by Mamluk princes characterized most of the Mamluk era of over 250 years (1250-1517). It peaked in the Bahri Mamluk period (1250-1390). This vicious lawless violence of the Muslim mobs reached the point of attacking Coptic graveyards and taking whatever human remains they could find to use it as fuel for fire.20 The lower Muslim classes hated Christians out of envy because many Christians rose to high positions in the government through hard work; some were affluent; and some were employed as tax collectors. Native Christianity in both Egypt and the Levant suffered severely in the Mamluk era. Widespread conversions occurred under the pressure of persistent persecution. The Christian community lost its economic prosperity, and by the end of the 15th century was reduced in number to a minority in its homeland.21
The intermittent persecution during the Ottoman era which lasted about four centuries was characterized by more of the same, with heavy emphasis on economic persecution through high taxes and fines.22 Each Patriarch had to pay a stiff fee to the Sultan before he could be enthroned. Unable to raise the funds himself, the Patriarch was forced to exact a fee from each new bishop before installing him in his diocese, and this burden was eventually placed on the flocks. Taking advantage of this financially lucrative situation, the Turks forced reelections of the Patriarch with undue rapidity. Dress codes and transportation codes (riding donkeys, not horses) were sometimes enforced. Annexation and conversion of churches to mosques continued. Innocent helpless Christian children were seized, converted forcibly to Islam, and enrolled in the janissary regiments (devshirma). The Turks massacred hundreds of thousands of Armenian Christians from 1895 to 1920.23
The Islamic law (Sharia) has promoted discrimination against non-Muslims (infidels). It has encouraged Muslims to mistreat non-Muslims by protecting Muslims from punishment.
A. THE DHIMMA
The concept of the dhimma was first introduced by the prophet of Islam. After conquering the Jews of the oasis of Khaybar in 628, he agreed to let them continue to cultivate their oasis only if they gave him half their produce. He reserved the right to cancel out this treaty and expel the Jews whenever he liked (Bukhari 4.53.380). This type of treaty is called a “dhimma.”
Peoples that came under Islamic rule and agreed to pay tribute (jizya) in return for Muslim protection are referred to as “dhimmis.” They were ultimately reduced to the status of a tiny culturally derivative marginalized minority in their homelands. The only peoples that escaped Islamic dhimmitude were those who were successful in resisting and eventually, after centuries of armed struggle, defeating Islamic imperialistic jihad: the Christians of Europe and the Hindus of India.
The dhimmis (Jews, Christians, etc. under Islamic rule) were not equal to Muslims in dignity and rights. They lived in subjugation to Islamic rule. The terms of the dhimma were first articulated by the second guided caliph, Umar ibn al-Khattab (634-644). The dhimma was an agreement imposed on conquered populations. It required them not to build churches, monasteries, and synagogues, nor restore them. It also required them to wear clothes different from those worn by Muslims, not to acquire weapons, not to ride horses, to refrain from using church bells and from erecting crosses on top of the churches, not to proselytize Muslims, to pay the poll tax (jizya), etc. The jizya indicated the dhimmis submission and inferiority to Islamic rule (at-Tawbah 9: 29). It led to the overall humiliation and abasement of non-Muslims. Payment of the jizya often took place in a demeaning ceremony to ensure the belittlement and humiliation of the dhimmi. The Muslim tax-collector slapped the Christian man on the back of his neck or on his head telling him: ‘O unbeliever, pay al-jizya.’ This was followed by the Christian man handing him the tax money with his head bowed down and his back bent while the tax-collector held him by the beard. This procedure was practiced in Islamic territories for over a thousand years. The dhimmi was not allowed to marry a Muslim woman. The penalty for such marriage was death. The dhimmi was barred from public office. The history of Muslim dealings with the dhimmis is one of oppression, random massacres, avaricious greed and plunder, extortion under the threat of persecution, rape, systematic degradation and slavery.
According the Shafi’i school of Islamic Sharia, the dhimma pact is broken if the dhimmi fights the Muslims, refuses to pay the jizya, or disobeys Muslim laws. It is also broken if the dhimmi violates the dhimma’s additional stipulations, if any, by having relation with a Muslim woman, leading a Muslim away from Islam, killing a Muslim, or slandering Muhammad and his god. When the dhimma is broken, the rules of the prisoners of war will apply on the dhimmi subjecting him to either death, slavery, ransoming, or release. By denying basic human rights to non-Muslims in Islamic controlled lands, Islam has sanctioned slavery on an unprecedented scale. Jihad slavery in its various forms (slave soldiers, harem slavery, child slavery, etc.) became a powerful tool to both expansive islamization and the support of Muslim society.
The dhimma terms and requirements are codified in Islamic Sharia (Reliance of the Traveler, #o11). Under Western pressure on the weakened Ottoman Empire, the dhimmis were emancipated in the mid-nineteenth century (1856). Although Islamic Sharia is enforced at this time only in a few countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Sudan, many of its elements are practiced in Islamic countries. It is surprising indeed that the dhimmi communities have survived at all despite the Islamic pressures on them throughout centuries of Islamic rule.
IV. METHODS OF ISLAMIZATION: IMMIGRATION
The orthodox Muslim caliphs started a policy of Islamic Arab colonization of the occupied territories. Whole Muslim Arab tribes from the Arabian Peninsula immigrated continually to conquered territories in search of fertile lands. The Muslim Arab colonizers confiscated the best of the fertile lands from the local peasants, who were reduced to servitude to the newly arrived Muslim Arab immigrants.24 Whole villages were plundered and taken over by the Arab immigrants.25 Islamic Arab colonization was accompanied by the deportation of segments of Dhimmi populations26 to plundered depopulated areas where workforce was needed. This uprooted and alienated the Dhimmi deportees.27 These major brutal dislocations resulted in the virtual destruction of the peasantry's social fabric.28 The Muslim Arab immigrants were a tiny privileged minority in Egypt, that was eventually assimilated in the native Egyptian population. This means that all Egyptians today, Muslims and Christians alike, descended from the Pharaohs, not from the Arabs or the Turks. They all came from the good black soil of the fertile Nile valley, not from the yellow barren sands of al-Hijaz. In their blood flow the fresh waters of the Nile, not the bitter waters of the well of Zamzam in the Arabian Desert.
This process of immigration of Muslim Arabic-speaking nomads and the resulting Islamization and Arabization was one of the most important factors in changing the local ancient indigenous languages of the conquered territories into Arabic. The change was gradual. The change from substantially Coptic to substantially Arabic speaking population occurred in Egypt around the 13th century.29 However, pockets of Coptic speaking Christians in villages in Upper Egypt existed as late as the 17th century. Linguistic ambiguity of a community in a state of linguistic transition undoubtedly caused liturgical difficulties, as liturgical books were translated to Arabic later on after the need arose to do so. There was a time when an important segment of the Christian community did not understand the divine Liturgy. This weakened the Church. The Umayyad ruler Abd-Allah bin Abd-al-Malik decreed in 706 that the Arabic language is the official language of the government in Egypt in the place of the native Coptic language. This forced the Copts that sought employment in the government to learn Arabic. The Fatimid caliph al-Hakem B’Amr Allah (996-1021) decreed that anyone using the Coptic language in the home or street including women and children, would be punished by cutting his tongue. The Coptic Patriarch Gabriel II (1131-1145) finally decreed that all liturgical readings take place in Arabic.30 Islam was a vehicle for the imperialistic Arab supremacism.
In addition to forced deportations, emigration of indigenous Christians fleeing Islamic persecution occurred. The townflock of North African towns, and Melkite Orthodox Greeks of Egypt emigrated to Byzantium and Europe.31 Some Copts emigrated to Ethiopia.32 Many Armenians fled into the Diaspora.33 Most of western Anatolia’s population fled to the islands and to Constantinople.34 The Greek inhabitants of the Asian coast of the Bosporus crossed it to safer territory in Europe.
V. METHODS OF ISLAMIZATION: FERTILITY RATES
The Muslim fertility rate was much higher than that of the Christian. This was because of Muslim polygamy (the Qur'an allows four wives for a man, and divorce for any cause); and concubinage (the Muslim man was allowed unlimited number of concubines from the prisoners, slaves and captives of plunder, pillage and wars). The Muslim man was allowed to marry Christian and Jewish women. These women were allowed to retain their original religions. However, the children of these mixed marriages became automatically Muslims.35 By contrast, the Christian man was monogamous, was not allowed concubines, and was not permitted to marry Muslim women. A Christian man had to convert to Islam in order to marry a Muslim woman. By Islamic law, the children of a convert had to be Muslims. This huge disparity in fertility rates contributed to an eventual demographic reversal in favor of the Muslim population in conquered territories.36
Another cause for the higher Muslin fertility rates, especially among the uneducated class which was the majority, was that a wife of a Muslim man would want to burden him with more children in order to make it difficult for him to have another wife, whom he could not afford to support. No wife would condone and willingly accept another wife for her husband in a polygamous situation, even if his other wife were her own sister, as we learn from the biblical account of Jacob with his two wives, Rachel and Leah (Gen. 29:16-30:24). A large family would also ensure the economic security of the Muslim wife because it provides her with protection from divorce. Her husband needed her badly to take care of all these children. The security of the marriage, economic security of the Muslim woman, and her social status (divorcees occupy a lower social status in Islamic societies) all required that she demand more children and larger family.
In the Europe of today, the fertility rate of Muslims (3.5 child/woman) is much higher than that of Europeans (1.4 child/woman).
VI. METHODS OF ISLAMIZATION: POLITICAL INSTABILITY
The rule of the orthodox caliphs, the Umayyad and Abbasids was characterized by political instability in the occupied territories. During 225 years (642-868), the caliphs appointed 111 rulers over Egypt.37 With some rare exceptions, the average duration of a ruler’s reign was about two years. The caliphs were concerned that a Muslim ruler allowed to rule for long in Egypt may establish his power base and secede from the empire declaring the independence of Egypt. This resulted in economic decline. The main concern of those short-term Muslim rulers was how to exploit the country and accumulate personal wealth as fast as possible. They did not have the time or interest to implement long-term economic development plans.
Political instability also occurred in the 12th century when the Fatimid empire was in decline due to power struggle between the weak caliphs and strong prime ministers.38 Political instability characterized the Mamluk era (1250-1517) due to power struggle between Mamluk princes. Political instability also characterized the Ottoman rule in Egypt (1517-1870) particularly in the 18th century due to power struggle between the Turkish ruler and the local Mamluk princes,39 until the annihilation of the Mamluks in the massacre of the Cairo citadel (1811) which was contrived and executed by Muhammad Ali.40 Christians suffered more than Muslims because of these instabilities. They were the ones the ruler would pressure for more funds. Political instability led to anarchy which permitted Muslim mob violence against Christians and their properties. Anarchy abounded in both the Arab and Ottoman empires.
VII. EGYPTIAN REVOLTS AGAINST ISLAMIC ARAB IMPERIALISM
Egyptians revolted against the Islamic Arab rule of Egypt several times chiefly due to exorbitant taxation and religious persecution. These armed revolts against Islamic Arab oppression took place during a period of more than a century (725-831). Although some of these revolts achieved initial military successes, they all ended up in failure. The failures of these revolts were followed by wide-spread destruction, atrocities, pillage, and forced Islamization. Two of these revolts are cited briefly herein as examples.
1. In 751, the Christian Egyptian Bashmurians refused to pay the increased taxes levied by the Muslim ruler. They killed the tax collectors, and started an armed rebellion in the marshlands of the lower Nile delta. Upon the request of the last Umayyad caliph, Marawan bin Muhammad , the Coptic Patriarch Khayiel urged the rebels to surrender to the Muslim ruler.41 The rebels rejected the Patriarch's request. The Egyptian rebels defeated the forces of the Muslim Arab ruler in the first two battles under the leadership of Mina bin Buqira. Although they lost the third battle, Muslim Arab forces could not follow them in the marshland of their home territory. The Egyptian rebels resumed their armed revolt using guerilla warfare tactics.
2. In 829-31, the Egyptian Christians of the entire Nile delta rebelled against the Muslim authorities because of excessive taxation and religious persecution. The revolt spread to upper Egypt. This was the greatest, the most widespread and the most broad-based Egyptian rebellion in the history of Egypt under Islam. Again the Abbasid caliph al-Maamoon asked the Coptic Patriarch Yousab to pacify the rebels. The Patriarch asked the people for calm and obedience to the oppressor. All heeded him except the Bashmurians in the northern most part of the Nile delta, who refused his advice.42 Al-Maamoon finally put down the revolt with the aid of his Turkish generals. The result of that was the revolt ended up in defeat, a blood bath, and widespread destruction in the marshland of the lower delta. All the surviving population of that area was removed by force to Syria.43
VIII ISLAMIZATION AND THE RISE OF ISLAM IN TODAY’S EGYPT
By focusing international attention on Israel and the Palestinian problem, Muslim countries attempt to impose a fatal silence on the oppression of Christians in the Islamic world, which is a lot more cruel than the suffering of the Palestinians. Examples of this oppression and violent persecution in the modern era are the genocide of the Christians in Southern Sudan, East Timor, and Turkey (the Armenian massacres of 1895-1920), and the Islamic violence against Christians, including killing and destruction of property, that flares up sporadically in Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Egypt.
The Copts (the indigenous Christians of Egypt) are marginalized in today’s Egypt, their ancestral homeland. Islamic violence against their churches, businesses, properties and homes still flares up with monotonous regularity resulting in destruction of property and loss of innocent Christian lives. In addition, court decisions in favor of Christians and against Muslims are seldom enforced. When an Egyptian Christian calls for an end to sectarianism, he is accused of promoting sectarianism in order to silence him. The educational system of Egypt, especially in Islamic schools, is set on infusing hatred against the followers of other religions calling for their expulsion and eradication.
The present Egyptian constitution was approved by unprecedented majority of 98.1% in the referendum of January 14 and 15, 2014. It is a step forward in the direction of justice, equality and human rights. However, it contains conflicting requirements:
1. In the preamble of the constitution, it is stipulated that the constitution is consistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It requires equality between men and women (Art. 11); rules out discrimination based on religion and gender (Art. 53); and guarantees the freedom of religion (Arts. 64 & 235).
2. However, the constitution affirms in its preamble and Art. 2, that the principles of Islamic Sharia are the principal source of legislation as interpreted by the collected rulings of the Supreme Constitutional Court.
Islamic Sharia oppresses and discriminates against women and non-Muslims. It also rules out the freedom of religion for Muslims, as it punishes severely the Muslim person who leaves Islam (the Muslim apostate). It remains to be seen how the courts will interpret the conflicting constitutional requirements. Will it subordinate the Human Rights Articles to Article 2, or the opposite?
Through cunning, deceit and enticement, or through force, Coptic girls are abducted, forced into involuntary detention in Islamist homes where they are raped and forced into conversion to Islam and marriage to Islamists, joining their harems. These operations are funded by oil-rich Arab countries. What is more dangerous is that, within four decades, the government did not bring to justice a single suspect for kidnapping Coptic girls despite the multiplicity of these incidents and the gravity of the crime.
Pertaining to the present situation in Egypt where Islamic fundamentalism is on the rise, the following are the findings of Freedom House stipulated in its 1999 report:44