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John L. Esposito, Natana J. DeLong-Bas, Shariah: What Everyone Needs to Know

Filed under: Radical Islam
Publication: Jewish Political Studies Review

Jewish Political Studies Review
Volume 31, Numbers 1-2

John L. Esposito, Natana J. DeLong-Bas, Shariah: What Everyone Needs to Know, Oxford University Press, 2018, 334 + xiv pp.

Whitewashing Shariah

This book purports to contain “what everyone needs to know” about shariah, but a more accurate subtitle would be “what John Esposito wants you to believe” about it. The goal of Esposito and his former student DeLong-Bas in this misleading book is not to inform or educate, but rather to ensure that their non-Muslim readers come away with a favorable impression of Islam and Islamic law, even if it entails distorting the truth by means of half-truths, omissions, or outright falsehoods. This book is, in short, more a work of propaganda than of scholarship or responsible pedagogy.

Esposito is the founding director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, an institute funded by a member of the Saudi royal family and housed in the same building as the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, the premier training ground for U.S. diplomats.1 DeLong-Bas, an instructor in theology at Boston College, is a former student of Esposito who made a name for herself as an apologist for Wahhabi Islam, hardly surprising given the source of her mentor’s funding.2 The significance of this book is that it represents a sanitized, “politically correct” version of Islam that, despite its inaccuracy, has acquired the status of conventional wisdom across wide swaths of U.S. society, including academia, government, journalism, political parties, churches, and synagogues.3

The book is divided into eleven chapters devoted to such topics as shariah courts, war and peace, women and the family, freedom and human rights, criminal law, Islamic finance, and so on. Each chapter is subdivided into questions, e.g., “Where Does Fear of Shariah Come From?,” “How and When Do Muslims Pray?,” “What Does Jihad Mean?,” and so on. The book is set up as a reference tool for non-Muslims, so there is a good deal of repetition, allowing one to read any section without having read all the preceding ones. The book is aimed at a general audience and does not contain any footnotes (though it does have a bibliography).

Two basic claims run throughout the book.

First of all, the authors repeatedly assert that there is a fundamental difference between “shariah” and “Islamic law.” The former allegedly refers to “God’s law,” i.e., the “sacred and unchangeable principles and values revealed in the Quran and the example (Sunna) of Muhammad” (12-13). In contrast, “Islamic law” (or fiqh) is ostensibly the interpretation of these shariah principles by Muslim jurists who are, of course, fallible human beings: “While Shariah principles do not change, Islamic law is the product of human interpretations of Shariah in historical and social contexts and therefore can change in response to new challenges and circumstances” (13).  While it is true that it took about two centuries for Islamic law (fiqh) to develop into its mature form,4 nonetheless there are problems with the way Esposito and DeLong-Bas draw this distinction. As they themselves admit, many or perhaps most Muslims “do not make a clear distinction between Shariah as God’s revelation and Islamic law, which is a human construct” (17-18). This should not surprise us. A central aspect of Islamic self-understanding, after all, is that Islamic revelation is so obviously true that all human beings not perverted by a non-Islamic upbringing can see it plainly for themselves.5 Esposito and DeLong-Bas make “shariah” or divine revelation appear to be some sort of unknowable, inaccessible Platonic idea which somehow for centuries eluded the grasp of the top Islamic scholars who devoted lifetimes to poring over the Koran, the biographies of Muhammad, and the collections of Muhammad’s sayings, and produced the discipline of usul al-fiqh or Islamic jurisprudence. This is not how mainstream Muslims understand their own religious tradition, but readers of this book are never told so. In fact, fiqh is so tightly bound up with the Koran and Sunna that to describe the one as a mere “human construct” runs the risk of placing the others in the same category. That, however, runs afoul of two central Islamic doctrines, the eternal, uncreated nature of the Koran6 and the infallibility and perfection of Muhammad, who is held to have possessed isma or divinely granted immunity from sin and error.7 This might explain why so many Muslims fail to make the very distinction between shariah and fiqh that Esposito and DeLong-Bas claim is central to Islam.

A second concept that Esposito and DeLong-Bas invoke is that of maslaha or the common good, which they link to the maqasid al-Shariah or the objectives of shariah: “[T]he common good measured in terms of preserving people’s right to practice religion as well as faith, property, and dignity, is known as maqasid al-Shariah (principles or objectives of Shariah)” (2). Shariah, they write, is “ideally guided by the quest to uphold the common good (maslaha), human dignity, social justice, and the centrality of the community” (2). There are problems with this way of phrasing things. Terms like “social justice” and “human dignity” have a set of connotations for a contemporary Western audience that do not correspond to traditional Islamic values. In fact, there is a standard set of terms in the Islamic legal tradition to designate the five goods that shariah is seen as protecting, a list that cannot be found anywhere in Esposito and DeLong-Bas’ book. According to traditional Islamic jurisprudence, the purpose of the divine law is to preserve religion (din), life (nafs), reason (‘aql), lineage (nasl), and property (mal).8 Islamic law indeed contains many provisions that seem intended to protect just these values. Thus, the prohibition of wine is intended to protect the integrity of reason; the punishments for murder and theft protect life and property, respectively; the conquest of non-Muslims and the punishments for blasphemy, apostasy, and proselytizing by non-Muslims protect religion (i.e., Islam); and modest dress, mandatory supervision of women by male chaperones, and the prohibition of adultery protect lineage by ensuring that the husband knows that his wife’s children are biologically his own. However, Esposito and DeLong-Bas actually tell their readers very little about how Islamic law seeks to protect many of these values – saying nothing at all, for example, about the prescription of male supervision of women — and much of what they do say is misleading or inaccurate.

Consider some of the most misleading sections of their book, those discussing the Islamic law of war and the traditional shariah provisions regarding the treatment of non-Muslims. These two topics are far more closely connected than the authors let on. As Joseph Schacht notes in his classic Introduction to Islamic Law, “The basis of the Islamic attitude towards unbelievers is the law of war; they must be either converted or subjugated or killed (excepting women, children, and slaves).”9 Warfare in shariah is straightforwardly imperialistic and religiously motivated. It is not defensive but offensive and its goal is ultimately (though not necessarily immediately) to convert the world to Islam. The great Muslim historian Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406) makes this clear:

In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and (the obligation to) convert everyone to Islam either by persuasion or by force…. The other religious groups did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty to them, save only for purposes of defense…. [T]hey are [not] under obligation to gain power over other nations, as is the case with Islam. They are merely required to establish their religion among their own people.10

After mentioning doctrinal differences among various Christian denominations, Ibn Khaldun writes: “We do not think we should blacken the pages of this book with discussion of their dogmas of unbelief…. To discuss or argue those things with them is not for us. It is (for them to choose between) conversion to Islam, [surrender and] payment of the poll tax, or death.”11

One of the leading historians of Islam, the British academic Patricia Crone, puts it this way:

In classical [Islamic] law jihad is missionary warfare. It is directed against infidels, who need not be guilty of any act of hostility against Muslims (their very existence is a cause of war), and its aim is to incorporate the infidels in the abode of Islam, preferably as converts, but alternately as dhimmis [i.e., conquered tributaries], until the whole world has been subdued.12

Another distinguished British scholar of Islam, Ann K. S. Lambton, writes:

When considering the relations of Muslims to non-Muslims it must be borne in mind that the universality of the Islamic theory of state precludes any theory of international relations between states as equals, except possibly as a temporary expedient, or of an international society of states…. Under its [the Islamic state’s] laws no other state is recognized: universal supremacy belongs to the sharia and its representative, the imam.… The first duty of the Islamic world is to exalt the word of God until it is supreme. Hence the only proper relationship to the non-Islamic world is one of perpetual warfare. Strife is to go on until all non-Muslims are either converted or pay tribute in humiliation.[note omitted] Unbelievers must be either converted, subjugated, or killed.13

The University of Michigan historian Michael Bonner makes the same point:

Since the only legitimate sovereign is God, and the only legitimate form of rule is Islam, the various rulers and states within the Abode of War [i.e., the non-Islamic world] have no legitimacy, and their rule is mere oppression or tyranny. The Muslim state – in the classical theory, the imam – may conclude a truce with those rulers or states, but for no longer than ten years.14

The Islamic law of war thus bears no similarity at all to the Western doctrine of the just war, which sees peace as the default relation between states and permits war only as a just response to aggression.15 And yet, Esposito and DeLong-Bas falsely tell their readers that the Islamic law of war is no different from the modern doctrine of the just war (171-73).

Esposito and DeLong-Bas grudgingly admit that “during the period of expansion and conquest, many of the ulama (religious scholars and jurists)” interpreted the Koran and sayings of Muhammad so as to legitimize offensive warfare, and that “the military aspect of jihad became strongly privileged” (176-77). They suggest that the most important “war verses,” Koran 9:516 and 9:29,17 are really only enjoining defensive war to bring an end to conflict and restore a state of peace (176-77). However, according to the earliest extant biography of Muhammad, that of Ibn Ishaq, verse 9:5 was revealed only after Muhammad had conquered all of his foes in central Arabia, in March 631.18 This verse commands Muhammad and the Muslims to fight pagan Arabs “until they repent and perform the prayer (salah) and give alms (zakat).” But repentance is a religious act, and salah and zakat refer to the religious duties of Muslims, so this verse is in fact commanding the forced conversion of pagans to Islam. And the second-most important biography of Muhammad, that of al-Waqidi, also portrays Muhammad as waging offensive war and as telling his followers, “Indeed I was commanded to fight people until they say there is but one God, and when they say it, their blood and their property is protected and they are answerable to God.”19 A careful reading of al-Waqidi’s account of Muhammad’s military campaigns shows that Muhammad’s goal in waging war was not mere self-defense; it was to destroy a non-Islamic sociopolitical order in order to replace it with an Islamic one, as contemporary jihadists continue to do.20

As for the so-called jizya-verse, 9:29, the context of this verse in both the Koran and the life of Muhammad proves that it is commanding offensive, not defensive, warfare. The six verses immediately following it (9:30-35) all highlight the alleged religious perversity of Jews and Christians as the reason for attacking and conquering them. Verse 9:29 calls for Jews and Christians (“people of the book”) not only to be attacked and subjugated, but to be humiliated as they are forced to pay the jizya or tribute tax imposed specially on them. Koran 9:29 dictates that the jizya tax be paid submissively (‘an yadin), while the payers remain lowly and content with their humiliated status (saghirun).21 Raymond Ibrahim (a fluent Arabic speaker) points out that the Arabic used in verse 9:29 (saghirun) connotes “to belittle, deride, ridicule, debase, demean.”22 Yet Esposito and DeLong-Bas have the audacity to write that the jizya was merely imposed on Jews and Christians “in place of serving in the military” (156; cf. 163), as if Muslims were doing conquered Jews and Christians a favor by merely imposing a tax instead of the more onerous and potentially fatal duty of military service. This is an egregious distortion both of the historical record and of Islamic law. Historically, jizya collection was accompanied by ritual humiliation. Mahmud ibn Umar al-Zamakshari (1070-1144), author of a standard commentary on the Koran, explains that “the jizya shall be taken from them with belittlement and humiliation…. The collector shall seize him by the scruff of the neck, shake him, and say: ‘Pay the jizya!,’ and when he pays it he shall be slapped on the nape of the neck.”23 The greatest theologian in the history of Sunni Islam, Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (1058-1111), prescribes that “on offering up the jizya, the dhimmi must hang his head while the official takes hold of his beard and hits [the dhimmi] on the protuberant bone beneath his ear [i.e., the mandible].”24 The blow to the head or neck was in fact a ritualized decapitation, symbolizing the punishment the payer was avoiding by making the payment; in short, the jizya tax was protection money, payment so as to avoid being slain.25

In another standard commentary, Ibn Kathir (1301-1373), a highly influential Sunni Shafi scholar, says of verse 9:29 that it was sent to punish Jews and Christians for their dishonest rejection of Muhammad: “Had they been true believers in their religions, that faith would have directed them to believe in Muhammad, because all Prophets gave the good news of Muhammad’s advent and commanded them to obey and follow him.” Like al-Zamakshari and al-Ghazali, Ibn Kathir sees verse 9:29 as commanding that Jews and Christians be “disgraced, humiliated, and belittled.”26

The American sailor James Riley, shipwrecked and enslaved on the coast of Morocco in 1815, provides an eyewitness account of the jizya collection in that country:

The Jews soon appeared…; as they approached, they put off their slippers, took their money in both their hands, and holding them alongside each other, as high as the breast, came slowly forward to the talb or Mohammedan scrivener, appointed to receive it; he took it from them, hitting each one a smart blow with his fist on his bare forehead, by way of a receipt for his money, at which the Jews said, Nahma Sidi (thank you, my lord)…. He that said, no [he could not pay], or was not ready, was seized instantly by the Moors, who throwing him flat on his face to the ground, gave him about fifty blows with a thick stick upon his back and posteriors, and conducted him away, I was told, to a dungeon…. [M]any of them changed their religion, were received by the Moors as brothers, and were taken to the mosque, and highly feasted.27

This anecdote reveals an important truth, articulated by Yohanan Friedmann, namely, that “the basic purpose of the jizya is to force the People of the Book to embrace Islam; the intention (taqdir) of Qur’an 9:29 is ‘until they embrace Islam or pay the jizya (fa-yakunu al-taqdir hatta yuslima aw yu’tu al-jizya…).”28 That is, from the Koranic point of view, payment of the jizya is a distant second-best to conversion, and it is made appropriately unpleasant so that it will be an incentive to convert.29 Indeed, S. D. Goitein, the author of the most extensive empirical study of how the jizya actually affected ordinary people, writes that the season of jizya collection was “one of horror, dread, and misery.”30  According to Goitein, “A very considerable section of the non-Muslim population must have been unable to pay it and often suffered humiliation and privation on its account.… [T]he mass conversions of the lower classes might well have been caused in part by the intolerable burden of the poll tax.”31

As bad as it is for Jews and Christians, shariah is far worse for other classes of non-Muslims. A central doctrine of Islam is that Muhammad is the last prophet: there will be no prophet after him. As Yohanan Friedmann explains, “This means that Islam supersedes the laws which preceded it, but no one will supersede the Muslim shari’a which is destined to be valid for all people and for all times. Islam’s immunity from abrogation is an essential component of its superiority in comparison with all other religions.”32 This means that Islamic law has no tolerance whatever for any religion founded after Muhammmad – for example,  Mormonism, Sikhism, Ahmadi (or Qadiani) Islam, Alawites, Druze, or Bahaism, just as it has no tolerance for pre-Islamic “idol worshippers.”33 Indeed, today across the Islamic world, Bahais and Ahmadis are among the most harshly persecuted minorities.34 Nor does Islamic law grant any tolerance to atheists.35 Esposito and DeLong-Bas mention none of these groups or their complete lack of legal protection under shariah. On page 2, they write that a central objective of shariah is “preserving people’s right to practice religion,” but this is false. What shariah protects is the right to practice (orthodox) Islam and a (limited) right to practice Judaism, Christianity, Samaritanism, and Zoroastrianism, while denying any rights at all to Mormons, Sikhs, Bahais, Ahmadis, Alawites, Druze, atheists, or pre-Islamic polytheists and animists (e.g., Yazidis). This fact also demonstrates how false and misleading it is for Esposito and DeLong-Bas to suggest that shariah applies “only to Muslims” (73).

An important aspect of the just war doctrine is protection of noncombatants in wartime. Esposito and DeLong-Bas write: “From the earliest times, Islamic law forbade killing noncombatants” (172). And yet they show no awareness of the most erudite and authoritative study yet written on the place of noncombatants in the Islamic law of war, by Hebrew University’s Ella Landau-Tasseron, who demonstrates that the Islamic law of war imposes only very weak and easily overridden restrictions on the use of violence against infidel noncombatants.36 Esposito and DeLong-Bas write that “Women and children could be held captive, but jurists universally agreed that they should not be harmed” (173). Yet Islamic law permits the rape and sexual enslavement of non-Muslim female war captives, based on the Koran and the example and teaching of Muhammad.37 Esposito and DeLong-Bas criticize suicide bombings of civilians as a “grave departure” from “classical and medieval Islamic law” (184), both because Islamic law prohibits suicide and because shariah allegedly protects non-Muslim civilians in wartime. As noted above, Ella Landau-Tasseron has discredited the claim that shariah protects non-Muslim civilians in wartime, and as for the prohibition of suicide, in general, any moral limit on the waging of war may be set aside in cases of necessity, according to the juristic principle of “Necessity permits what is prohibited,” and this rather massive loophole exists in both Sunni and Shiite interpretations of Islamic law.38  Moreover, while Islamic law condemns suicide, it does not condemn “suicidal” attacks by Muslim fighters; indeed, Muhammad himself expressed his approval of such attacks and promised paradise to those who carried them out.39  Franz Rosenthal, who had a long and distinguished career as a professor of Arabic at Yale University, writes:

While the Qur’anic attitude toward suicide…remains uncertain, the great authorities of the ahadith leave no doubt [that] suicide is an unlawful act.… On the other hand, death as the result of “suicidal” missions and of the desire for martyrdom occurs not infrequently, since such death is considered highly commendable according to Muslim religious concepts.  However, such cases are not suicides in the proper sense of the term.40

Suicide bombings of non-Muslim civilians are thus not so hard to justify using traditional shariah criteria after all. Given their assertion to the contrary, Esposito and DeLong-Bas must come up with some explanation of why so many Muslims use this technique, especially against Israeli Jewish civilians. Here is their answer: “the majority of cases are associated with Muslims engaged in resistance and retaliation against Israeli occupation and oppression” (183). It is oppression at the hands of wicked Israelis that has driven otherwise good Muslims to violate Islamic norms, in other words. Since Islam must not be blamed for anything bad that Muslims do, Israeli Jews serve here as convenient scapegoats, a paradigm example of “blaming the victim.”

Esposito and DeLong-Bas write that “there is no one single definition of jihad” (173), noting that it literally means “struggle, striving, or exertion” (174), and that “there is no word or phrase in the Quran meaning ‘holy war.’” (174). They mention a saying allegedly traceable to Muhammad that “the greater jihad” means “self-improvement” while “the lesser jihad” means war “in defense of the community” (174). However, they never inform their readers that this alleged saying of Muhammad cannot be found in any of the six canonical Sunni hadith collections, or that traditional scholars considered it as having a weak chain of transmission, rendering it unreliable by traditional Islamic criteria.41 Specifically commenting on Esposito’s claim that “jihad has a number of meanings,” including “the effort to lead a good life,” Rice University historian David Cook remarks: “This definition has virtually no validity in Islam and is derived almost entirely from the apologetic works of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Muslim modernists.”42

In the opening section of their book, Esposito and DeLong-Bas ask the question, “Where Does Fear of Shariah Come From?” (8-12) Their answer is that this fear comes from groups of (bad) Muslims who allegedly misuse and misapply shariah, such as al-Qaeda, ISIS, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and so on. Mostly, however, they blame fear of shariah on a well-funded “US-based Islamophobia Network” and right-wing politicians allegedly working in league with this network. They seem unwilling to grant that there is anything in shariah that reasonable, informed people could fear. Shariah understood as the timeless, immutable revealed truths of Islam can only be good and beneficial in their eyes, while it is seemingly the human (mis)interpretations of fiqh alone that can bring harm to people: the good that Muslims do is to be credited to Islam, while the bad things Muslims do must never be blamed on Islam. In other words, Esposito and DeLong-Bas have defined shariah (and Islam) in such a way that nothing bad can be contained in it. Their defense of shariah is thus question-begging. This is not the position of empirically minded scholars but of committed, ideologically driven apologists who have closed their minds to any possible counterevidence and who stigmatize as “Islamophobes” all who dare to correct their propagandistic whitewashing of shariah.

* * *


1 Karen W. Arenson, “Saudi Prince Gives Millions to Harvard and Georgetown,” New York Times, December 13, 2005,; on Esposito as founding director, see:

2 Stephen Schwartz, review of Natana DeLong-Bas, Wahhabi Islam: From Revival to Global Jihad (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), Middle East Quarterly 12:1 (Winter 2005),; and Stephen Schwartz, “Natana DeLong Bas: American Professor, Wahhabi Apologist,” RealClearPolitics, January 19, 2007,

3 See Martin Kramer, Ivory Towers on Sand: The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America (Washington, DC: Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2001), On the ways in which “political correctness” of the sort peddled by Esposito and DeLong-Bas has blinded the liberal establishment in Boston to the growth of radical Islamism in the Boston area, see Ilya Feoktistov, Terror in the Cradle of Liberty: How Boston Became a Center for Islamic Extremism (New York: Encounter Books, 2019).

4 While Muhammad died in 632, Muhammad al-Shafi, traditionally regarded as the founder of usul al-fiqh or the science of Islamic jurisprudence, lived from 767 to 820. See Majid Khadduri, trans., Al-Shafi’s Risala: Treatise on the Foundations of Islamic Jurisprudence, 2nd ed. (Cambridge, UK: Islamic Texts Society, 1987), 40.

5 According to the Koran, Islam is the original religion (al-fitra) which God created for humanity to follow (30:30). Muhammad himself taught that all human beings are born Muslims and only become non-Muslims because of the perverting influence of a non-Islamic upbringing: see Rizwi Faizer, ed., The Life of Muhammad: Al-Waqidi’s Kitab al-Maghazi, trans. Rizwi Faizer, Amal Ismail, and AbdulKader Tayob (London: Routledge/Taylor & Francis, 2011; pb. 2013), 444.

6 John Esposito, Islam: The Straight Path, 3rd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 17.

7 The majority Asharite position asserts the immunity of prophets from major and minor sins during the period of their mission; Shiites hold that prophets and imams are free of all sin both before and during their missions. See Marianna Klar, “’ISM/’ISMA,” in Oliver Leamington, ed., The Qur’an: An Encyclopedia (London: Routledge/Taylor & Francis, 2006), 318-21. See also W. Madelung, “Isma,” in H. A. R. Gibb, ed., The Encyclopedia of Islam, vol. 4 (Leiden: Brill, 1954), 182-84. On the interconnected themes of the infallibility of Muhammad and the Koran in the Islamic tradition, see Tilman Nagel, Mohammed: Zwanzig Kapitel über den Propheten der Muslime (Munich: R. Oldenbourg Verlag, 2010), chaps. 15-20.

8 Anver Emon, Islamic Natural Law Theories (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 130-35. See also Tilman Nagel, Was ist der Islam? Gründzüge einer Weltreligion (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 2018), 195-96.

9 Joseph Schacht, An Introduction to Islamic Law (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982), 130.

10 Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah, trans. Franz Rosenthal, abridged and ed. N. J. Dawood (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1967; pb. 2015), 183.

11 Ibid., 188.

12 Patricia Crone, God’s Rule: Government and Islam (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004), 364-65.

13 Ann K. S. Lambton, State and Government in Medieval Islam (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981), 201. See also Majid Khadduri, War and Peace in the Law of Islam (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1955), 45, 51, 144, 154.

14 Michael Bonner, Jihad in Islamic History: Doctrines and Practice (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006), 92.

15 Joseph S. Spoerl, “Jihad and Just War,” Levantine Review 2:2 (Winter 2013): 159-87,

16 “And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” “The Noble Qur’an,”

17 “Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture –  [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.” “The Noble Qur’an,”

18 Uri Rubin, “Bara’a: A Study of Some Quranic Passages,” Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam 5 (1984): 13-32 at 20, available at the author’s website:; and Joseph S. Spoerl, “Islam and War: Tradition versus Modernity,” Comparative Islamic Studies 4 (2008): 181-212 at 197-201, available at:

19 Faizer, Life of Muhammad, 544.

20 See Joseph S. Spoerl, “The Aim of Warfare in al-Waqidi’s Kitab al Maghazi,” unpublished manuscript, available at: For an abridged version, see Joseph S. Spoerl, “Al-Waqidi and the Birth of Islamic Imperialism,” New English Review, December 2018,

21 See Uri Rubin, “Qur’an and Poetry: More Data Concerning the Qur’anic jizya Verse (‘an yadin),” Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam 31 (2006): 144. Available on the author’s website:

22 Raymond Ibrahim, Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (Washington, DC: Regnery, 2013), 22.

23 Quoted in Bernard Lewis, The Jews of Islam (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), 14-15.

24 Al-Ghazali, Kitab al-Wagiz Fi Fiqh Madhab al-Imam al-Safi’I, in Andrew Bostom ed., The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2005), 199.

25 Mark Durie, The Third Choice: Islam, Dhimmitude, and Freedom (N.P.: Deror Books, 2010), 117-53.

26 Tafsir Ibn Kathir (abridged), ed. and trans. Shaykh Safiur-Rahman al-Mubarakpuri et al., 2nd ed. (Riyadh: Darussalam, 2003), vol. 4, 404-6.

27 James Riley, An Authentic Narrative of the Loss of the American Brig Commerce (Hartford: S. Andrus & Son, 1847), 199-200.

28 Yohanan Friedmann, Tolerance and Coercion in Islam: Interfaith Relations in the Muslim Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 99-100.

29 The important theologian Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (1149-1209) explicitly asserts that the whole point of the jizya is to induce conversion: Jane Dammen McAuliffe, “Fakhr al-Din al-Razi on ayat al-jizyah and ayat al-sayf,” in Michael Gervers and Ramzi Jibran Bikhazi, eds., Conversion and Continuity: Indigenous Christian Communities in Islamic Lands, Eighth to Eighteenth Centuries, Papers in Medieval Studies 9 (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1990), 103-19 at 111.

30 S. D. Goitein, “Evidence on the Muslim Poll Tax from Non-Muslim Sources: A Geniza Study,” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 6 (1963), 278-95 at 279.

31 Ibid., 295. See also S. D. Goitein, A Mediterranean Society: The Jewish Communities of the Arab World as Portrayed in the Documents of the Cairo Geniza, vol. 2, The Community (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971), 380-81; S. D. Goitein, “The Jews under Islam, Part I: 6th-16th Centuries,” in Elie Kedourie, ed., The Jewish World (London: Thames & Hudson, 1979), 180-81.

32 Friedmann, Tolerance and Coercion, 26.

33 Ibid., 8-9; Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, The Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law, trans. and ed. Nuh Ha Mim Keller, 2nd ed. (Beltsville, MD: Amana, 1994), 607 (sect. o11.2). For example, in Egypt, “The constitution limits the freedom to practice religious rituals and establish places of worship to adherents of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.” U.S. State Department, 2018 Report on International Religious Freedom: Egypt,

34 Paul Marshall and Nina Shea, Silenced: How Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes Are Choking Freedom Worldwide (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 83-92, 149-53, 159-62, 169, 310 (on Ahmadis), and 9, 41-46, 63-65, 310 (on Bahais). For many more details and examples, see the U.S. State Department Annual Report on International Religious Freedom for Muslim countries:

35 Not one Islamic country in the world today gives atheists legal protection or recognition: “No God, not even Allah,” The Economist, November 24, 2012,; in Morocco, for example, the constitution gives no legal protection to atheists:

36 Ella Landau Tasseron, “’Non-Combatants’ in Muslim Legal Thought,” Hudson Institute, Center on Islam, Democracy, and the Future of the Muslim World: Research Monographs on the Muslim World, Series No. 1, Paper No. 3, December 2006, available at

37 Joseph S. Spoerl, “Sex-Slavery and Sharia in the Islamic State,” New English Review, November 2014,

38 Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, Reliance of the Traveller,  37 (sect. c6.2), 765 (sect. r32.1, end);  Antony Black, The History of Islamic Political Thought (New York: Routledge, 2001), 158, 284; Amir Taheri, The Spirit of Allah: Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution (Bethesda, MD: Adler & Adler, 1985), 116, 195; Bassam Tibi, “War and Peace in Islam,” in Terry Nardin, ed., The Ethics of War and Peace: Religious and Secular Perspectives (Princeton: Princeton University Press), 128-145 at 33; Schacht, Introduction to Islamic Law, 84, 199ff.

39 For two examples, see Alfred Guillaume, The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1955), 300. 

40 Franz Rosenthal, “On Suicide in Islam,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 66 (1946): 243, 256.

41 David Cook, Understanding Jihad (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), 35-48.

42 Ibid., 42.