Monday, December 12, 2005

Merry Christmas, Kaffir.

I don't usually post on the weekend, so for some folks this may be stale, but apparently there is an organization in Indonesia, Nahdlatul Ulama, which has pledged to protect Christian Churches during Christmas.

Muslim-Christian-relations is not my specialty, but insofar as I am aware, this is literally unprecedented. In Al-Andalus, the Muslims fought bitterly, oppressing Christian and Jew alike, and incidents of cooperation were generally by and for the nobles, or because a conquering power had a better reason to leave a city generally intact.

In the middle east, any actual defense of the dhimmi was always a direct act of the Caliph/Sultan/ruling power.

In the Turkic world, religious tolerance was the norm, primarily because, well, that's just the way the steppe is. But that tolerance, with the notable exception of Tamerlane, was partially a matter of general lifestyle, and partially due to said tolerance being viciously enforced by the bosses on top, who wanted no disruptions or potential threats to them.

For a muslim ruler to decide to protect a population is no big deal. It's happened before (though definitions of "protect" differ widely, as any Copt can tell you). For such a decision to come from a muslim organization... a.k.a., from the bottom up, indicates profound -- and beneficial -- currents moving through at least part of the Umma. Because classical Islam is simply not a "bottom up" kind of religion, but a typical "priest-king" affair, where the Caliph takes on theological airs by definition not available to Joe Faithful (look at Ahmedinejad's latest posturing for an example).

History is a complicated matter that defies simple storylines... be that as it may, Big Things(tm) are afoot.

No comments: