Which it later rejected in favor of tribalism and Islam 101.
European Colonialism is the Only Thing That Modernized Islam
Like math and the Midwest, ISIS confuses progressives. It’s not hard to confuse a group of people who never figured out that if you borrow 18 trillion dollars, you’re going to have to pay it back. But ISIS is especially confusing to a demographic whose entire ideology is being on the right side of history.
Raised to believe that history inevitably trended toward diversity in catalog models, fusion restaurants and gay marriage, the Arab Spring led them on by promising that the Middle East would be just like Europe and then ISIS tore up their Lonely Planet guidebook to Syria and chopped off their heads.
But ISIS also believes that it’s on the right side of history. Its history is the Koran. The right side of its history is what Iraq and Syria look like today. It’s also how parts of Europe are starting to look.
Progressive politicians and pundits trying to cope with ISIS lapse into a shrill incoherence that has nothing to do with their outrage at its atrocities and a lot to do with their sheer incomprehension. Terms like “apocalyptic nihilism” get thrown around as if heavy metal were beginning to make a comeback.
Those few analysts who admit that the Islamic State might be a just a little Islamic emphasize that it’s a medieval throwback, as if there were some modern version of Islam to compare it to.
Journalists trying to make sense of ISIS demanding Jizya payments and taking slaves ought to remember that these aren’t medieval behaviors in the Middle East. Not unless medieval means the 19th century. And that’s spotting them a whole century. Saudi Arabia only abolished slavery in 1962 under pressure from the United States. Its labor market and that of fellow Petrojihadi kingdoms like Kuwait and Qatar are based on arrangements that look a lot like temporary slavery… for those foreigners who survive.
Non-Muslims paid Jizya to Muslim rulers until very recently. Here is what it looked like in nineteenth century Morocco from the account of James Riley, an American shipwrecked sea captain.
“The Mohammedan scrivener appointed to receive it took it from them, hitting each one a smart blow with his fist on his bare forehead, by way of receipt for his money, at which the Jews said, ‘Thank you, my lord.’”
Those Jews who could not pay were flogged and imprisoned until they converted to Islam. An account from 1894 is similar, except that the blows were delivered to the back of the neck. Only French colonialism finally put a stop to this practice as well as many other brutal Islamic Supremacist laws.