Tolerance In Islamic Societies

Dear ladies & fellas

In today`s opinion piece, I want to talk about tolerance in Islamic Societies, like the title already says. I want to take a closer look on the history of tolerance in Islamic Societies & also compare said societies to Christian societies. I think this subject is an important one because Islam-apologists, especally people, who have little knowledge about Islam like to say, that Islam used to be more tolerant than it is today & that Islamic fundamentalism & fanaticism is a new problem. However, it is, as most times, not always as it seems. So, in this piece I will take a closer look at the most common misconceptions about Islam & Islamic societies & also drop some gems of great wisdom.

  1. Islam & power: One of the most common misconceptions, that, even decently intelligent people have these days, that Islam spread peacefully across the MENA-Region. No, unlike Christianty, that started to use force & violence in certain places, when it rose to power, Islam used violence from the very begininning to gain power & to conquer & invade countries, like Iran (used to have a Zoroastrian majority) & Egypt (used to have a Christian majority). To say, that Islam was spread peacefully today, is denying history.
  2. Islam & religious tolerance, especally towards the Jews: Many people in Europe know these days about the Reconquista & the fact, that the Catholic rulers of Spain then expelled Jews from Spain & that many of those Jews fled to the Ottoman Empire & to other countries in the MENA-Region. So it is true, that, at some point some countries with an Islamic majority, where more tolerant than countries with a Christian majority. However, these tolerance is, compared to today`s enlightened countries a joke, because even though Jews (& some other religious minorities) were allowed to live among the Muslim majority, Jews & other people did not have the same rights as Muslims & also were bound to pay higher taxes than Muslims & not allowed to build houses higher than the houses of Muslims. For example: Geneva of the 15th/16th century, where Jean Calvin/John Calvin declared the first Protestant theocracy on European soil, where neither Jews, nor Catholics were allowed to live & were gambling, chess playing, singing, dancing & owning cats was prohibited by law & where heretics & „witches“ were burned at stake, was an awful place, without doubt. However, do you know how Muslim rulers, like Tamerlan, were also no saints either?!? When Tamerlan conquered Isfahan, he ordered to behead thousands of people & to build pyramides out of the heads of said people, on public places. Sounds familar, doesn`t it?!? The 15/16th centuries in the MENA-Region was basically a constant cock fight between the Ottoman, Sunni Turks & the Safavid, Shiite empire, where these two oponnents doused the soil with the blood of many people, till the Ottoman empire went west, while the Safavid empire began to invade & conquer the Caucasian mountains & to drench Georgian soil with the blood of anybody who fought against the conquest & to sell the families into slavery, of those who resisted the invasion, like in the aftermath of the Bakhtrioni uprising. This means, that certain countries with a Muslim majority were for sure more tolerant, than certain Christian places. Overall Ummah did not gave in to Christianity, when it came to bloodshed, killing sprees & submission of minorities.
  3. Islam & women: This is an important subject here in Switzerland, because only from 1971 Swiss women received the same civil rights as men & therefore could vote in elections & for certain Swiss conservatives this is still a mistake. So I had arguments with many Swiss feminists, who said that Islam was more tolerant towards women & use the fact, that Turkey & the kingdom of Iran, gave women the right to vote before Switzerland. However, these feminists make a common mistake: The kingdom of Iran & Turkey gave women the right to vote before Switzerland not because they had a Muslim majority, but despite the Muslim majority. Both, the Pahlavis & the Kemalists in Turkey were pretty secular, so they didn`t care much, what clerics said & tried to modernize their countries. The Islamic backlash, that we face today is the answer of those clerics, who are still angry about the attempts to modernize & secularize said countries.