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An Old Debate: Islamic & Western Imperialism

My friend Bilal Zubair had a debate with his friend on Facebook. I am reproducing verbatim the debate here. His answers/arguments are still in vogue and require detailed additions, editings and expansions from various perspectives, if applicable. The arguments, which are basically that of orientalists, he is up against are not new; and i believe muslim scholars would have replied in detail of voluminous books. Please do give references to books and scholarly articles on these historical, political and theological questions from Islamic point of view.

Focus on bold and italic sentences. Plus, words in brackets '[ ]' are mine.

Friend's comment: The wars they fought in order to take some river in possession, or take same agrarian lands. And this was done most in his time, The 1st khalifa was not that violent. Hazrat umar ki to personality ke baray main documented hai ke wo violent thay. Ab ye na kehna i am making this up. Ye har superpower karti hai theek hai na? imperialism musalmano ne bhe kiya tha. Aaj america imperial hai. UK buhat ziada imperial raha wa hai. USSR has remained imperial. Power is exploitative. And if you really need a justification for imperialism. Musalmano ki directions on war. 1) accept islam. No? 2) Pay jizya No? 3) war. If you talk about USA breaking UN resolutions when attacking in gaza, you policy of jizya and accept islam, if applied today breaks more than half of UN resolutions i guess. And one fundamental law, the freedom of religion, which interestingly is a part of islam as well. [Bold & italics mine]

Bilal ZubairViolent? To me violence lies in transgressing Divine Laws and Hadud. If you agree with this definition, by God there wasn't more god-conscious, just, believer of equality of men and women before Law and God, upright, soft than Umar I. If you mean to say that revealed Islamic Law is violence, I'm done with you. For you've lost any Sacred perspective on the nature of things, and you alone are required to re-consider your world-view. It is clear your source of these otherwise discredited pesudo-intellectual arguments come from centuries old Isalmophobes, who to this day spare no arrow, no missile to kill innocent Muslims; whereas, a birds-eye-view of medival and current history is enough to prove who benevolent and just Muslims have been on battlefield. For instance, Jersulam was captured with spilling how many drops of blood? None.

And as for other wars on Persia and Rome, I recently started to read up on these, and what serious historical documentation shows is only 180 degrees opposite to the Islamophobic propaganda you're spouting without any sense of decency and sanity, with at most hatred, haughtiness and sheer ignorance. In 20th century, it was for Amir Abdl Qadir who saved thousands of French, including those with whom he was fighting for decades in Algeria. and he saved them from irrational Muslims, who in the garb of Islam, were acting in treason to Prophet, s.a.w. Oh, and ever heard about the conduct of Hazrat Umar bin Abdal Aziz, who's known as Second Umar? Probably not.

I've read the kind of fictiotious pseudo-historical interpretations you're reproducing without any serious reflection, out of mere sentimental reactionism, many times refuted in scholarly books. Time for me to read up again, and probably you should hear the other of the story. Maybe you don't have time to find books from Islamic point of view. And nothing is more heinous, laughable, mistaken, horrible and ad hoc than comparing medival history with present day extreme war of terror being unleashed on little children. It shows where your allegiance lies. A child is attacked by alleged taliban and it is enough to arouse whole nation, but dead bodies of innocent infants, doesn't even stimulate a goose-pump. Why? Your heart lies our Colonial Masters.

Superpower? Please take an online course in comparing and contrast simple ideas. How dare you compare a mere force of 50,000 simplest, sincerest, and extraordinary human beings with agents of an Empire that believes in no Divine Power, cares not an iota about sanctity of human life. Perhaps, reading up on modern Imperial powers would do some good to you.

Produce one incident where Sahaba engaged in collateral damage, and attacked civilian buildings killing infants. Produce one incident where took jizya and didn't protect the populace from tyrants. In fact, in one case, they gave jizya back to people when they left the area, and people lamented. The jizya sahaba charged was way too less the taxes their tyrants charged.

 And as your over-simplifications about Islam threatening then Superpowers (Rome, persians, byzantines), try reading an impartial account before assaulting Sacred personalities and Sacred history of a civilization with your childish, orientalist fiction. But if you feel you're a mr know-all and Islam is deen of indiscriminate violence, don't bother.

Friend's reply:  I do get that you are an amazing intellectual. Lets lay some of ironies in all that you just stated with alot of emotional element and ofcourse acrimony and fury. Because you are ''done with me''. here goes. There are some terrible generalizations in all these accounts you put up. And some ironies too. Now that you question my knowledge i question yours. Look how you call it a mere force of 50,000 and then go on to say they CANNOT be compared with those who do not believe in divine power. [He failed to understand B's point here, which was bit confusing though.] Here the implication is ke jo divine power main believe karta hai wo koi buhat aalim faazil aur superior cheez hai. [He didn't imply that. He meant they don't care about hadood Allah, which in case of Islam do not have any room for collateral damage, and killing of non-combatants.] Talk about muslims of cordoba, was that a mere force of 50k they send into Europe? And captured alot of it we know that. Wasnt that imperialism? You say muslims were people who were not imperial, you say jizya was justified. Here you make another generalization. ''Their tyrants'' you say. As if each of these tribes were under tyrants. The tribes from whom you took jizya and went to war, you call them the mischief makers which is one of the stupidest terms ever created.

Now lets think about it. You live in an area, open. And someone comes and says 1) accept islam. You impose on someone, you IMPOSE on them by denying them the freedom to follow their own religion, i am sorry this is not preaching, you asked them to follow islam. But no? 2) Pay jizya. [Please share any articles that explain Islamic point of view.] haha. Yes they protected them right. Tell me something, if they turned Muslims, they wont pay jizya, but would be given protection, both of the protections are at a cost. One is giving up your religion and two is paying money. And if you dont pay the price. You die. You go on war and die. They might not kill women and children(which has not always been the case in muslim dynasties) but they do kill men. Men who refuse to pay them money in exchange of protection and refuse to give up their religion. If i come to you and say pay me and i will give you protection. will you accept? what if the other party does not want protection? Ajeeb log ho. We used to use their lands, have them pay jizya and use the surplus of their lands to our own use, that how the pre industrial societies have worked all along before the industrial revolution. Now the biggest piece of induction you did ''Why?your heart lies and is in love with zio-nazi terrorists of the diesease known as western civilization.'' These are your sugar coated words. See how my criticism of some behavior of past muslims turns out to be a supporter of westernization. You induced that information, created a narrative and then put it all in front of me trying to portray it as a fact. What is this ''disease'' you say is ''westernization''. I am sorry. facebook is a western product. Stop using it. You read your books in light, a light which a western scientist made, you travel in cars, use androids. Put a display picture which is made on a western software. You call westernization a disease? then to hell with half the things you do everyday. Stop doing them. You induce things and call me a supporter of something just because i criticize some behavior. Your wonderfully sensitive heart bleeds for muslims does it? it bleeds for infants of gaza. Well look at this place you sit it, the one you call islamic republic of pak. Thousands of muslims die here, everyday. Their infants get devoid of their own parents. If your heart is that much in solidarity with infants have some for these too. You all sit there with displays when america does something, shout against drones and never do you raise your voice on what goes in pakistan. Mukhtara Mai case, aap sab so rahay thay. Murder of the Governor, people called it islamic. Jeez man look at your stupidity i mean uff. 1 lac Shia's killed in pak in the last 2 years. Some fear a slow genocide. Yesterday we had blasts killing people just because they were Shia and you sit here and tell me if i ask people like you to raise a voice for your own country i am a westerner. Well good. Look at your pre programmed mind. Inter sectarian wars started in khalifa periods. Not all the khalifa's were angels. They were human beings and they did make some mistakes. If you hate the west that much, then stop all this crap, say no to half the technology you use. Its a disease known as westernization. You think you can bring US under the control? seriously? The country gave alone 580 million dollars of aid in the reign of Ghulam muhammad. they are not conspiring against muslims, they have helped alot of them too. But stop criticizing US, thats easy to do, pinpoint others. FOR F***'s SAKE. POINT THE NEEDLE ON YOUR OWN COUNTRY AND ONCE IT Is FIXED. ONLY THEN DO YOU GET ANY RIGHT TO CRITICIZE SOMEONE ELSE.

Bilal Zubair:  1. Leaving childish, you’re-so-stupid-and-I’m-the-only-logical-luminary, slutty, toilet-humor kind of mumbo-jumbo aside: I had restrained myself to the period of Khulafa-e-Rashideen. And you attacked the person of Hazrat per se. I've nothing more to say here. Suffice to quote my own words: "Time for me to read up again and probably you should hear the other of the story." So the debate isn’t over here. And for other sultans coming after 4 caliphs till Hazrat Umer bin Abdal Aziz, there is certainly division of opinion amongst Traditional Muslim historians, who fully subscribe to Islamic point of view, their conquests have been questioned. One such scholar is Khalid Blankinship, who in his book “The End of Global Jihad,” mentions how Hazrat Umar bin Abdal Aziz himself stopped wars on all fronts and recalled people back, and encouraged people to engage in commerce. To assert that there’s no difference of opinion amongst Muslim scholars is being childish, over the conquests and details of which are purely a historical matter NOT A THEOLOGICAL ONE. And please spare me from the vulgar conclusion that all my opinions are crystallized. I’ve just embarked on re-reading Islamic history, but from Sacred point of view. So I’m gonna read in detail the causes, factors and consequences of these conquests, Allah willing.

2. Yes, I dare make statements about your state of mind, which is purely evident from your attacks on our right to go out Muslims all over the world, to which you objected. And a big hahahahaha! for the Euro-centric and now American-centric propaganda lines you are spouting: leave this and that. Thanks for taking the pain, it was very entertaining. One day our native-Brown-sahib-orientalists’ll conclude that we poor, worthless, ignorant Muslims – who aren’t zio-nazi bootlickers/admirers of Dajjalic armies* – should stop breathing air cause it’s being cleaned and provided by the West. In fact much of the environmental crises third world is facing are directly a consequence of indefinite economic progress in America and the West. And mind you, without the massive import of the intellect, US would not have achieved all of this, including too-massive imports of enslaved Africans (on whom the enlightened scientists performed experiments by injecting viruses of worst sorts). Perhaps reading this article would help you realize really how “Eurocentric/Americo-centric” an Amerikanos’ and Europeans’ days are:

3. How did you assume that I am not troubled by the madness being done in Pakistan against my shiah brothers, or in other parts? Why is that not mentioning one thing at a time leads you to conclude that I’m totally against it? And besides, there’s no difference in principle here. Nobody suggested we should send Pak Army to Gaza. Nobody objects to Pak soldiers serving in UN. Why shouldn’t they serve in Muslim lands as contingents?

 4. And your equating westernization with TECHNOLOGY which is neither western nor eastern is way too hilarious and saddening at the same time. This is purely a philosophical, sociological, political and intellectual issue, an idea and a process. I’ll try finding articles and books and paste links here. Perhaps reading an Iranian thinker’s book may help one understand the disease: “Occidentiosis,” by Jamal Al e Ahmed. PDF book here:

* Dajjalic: evidence is corner-stone of any field of knowledge. Please leave your pre-conceived notions about the ‘way things are’ and re-read the Prophecies of Prophet about the End of Times and Dajjal. However, if you are going to label these FACTs as religious, hence unscientific: you’re plain wrong. Rather the hard evidence provided by ahadith of Prophet is termed by legal experts as Prophecies and nothing else.


  1. Phew! Read through this long post and frankly, Umer, I feel you just cannot convince people through arguments. No matter what argument you bring in response, they would simply refuse to believe. It depends from person to person. You see when I was reading up on postcolonialism a couple of years back, I asked my teacher a similar question: what is the point of departure between the two kinds of "imperialism". I was satisfied when I was told that (early) Muslims did not conquer lands because it was something THEY wanted to do, but it was just that they wanted people to break the shackles of subservience to man, and submit to the Almighty. This was the sole inspiration that guided them (a point Ali Miyan also makes in his 'Islami duniya pe Musalmaano ke urooj o zawaal ka asar'). Now, for a person like me this explanation was enough. But for the person in question here, I don't think such an explanation based on the abstract idea of eemaan (for me there is nothing more concrete than that!) won't suffice. I am not very well-versed in history so as to be able to 'respond' to this post, but I just felt like writing this comment. I would personally prefer praying for this person's hidaaya and correction of belief. But I would love to read more from this friend of yours because he indeed seems like an "ilmi" person in the true sense of the word. I really appreciate his intention to revisit the Muslim history from a scared point of view and not simply for the sake of accumulating info in one's head so that one is able to argue well! May Allah put barakah in his knowledge.

  2. That was a very profound comment. Esp the argument that convinced you. Certainly it was the central idea that need to have been presented. And all explanations should be expounding that God-view and world-views, as Seyyed Hossein Nasr stresses so often on.


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