Al-Qaryatayn..The Scandal of Pact of Omar

Al-Qaryatayn..The Scandal of Pact of Omar
Stories | 16 Nov 2015


Leaders from ISIS have met a big number of Christians in the cultural center in Al-Qaryatayn-the town in central Syria- and the two parties have signed "promise of protection”.

First of all I want to pay tribute to the courage of Al-Qaryatayn people, this town that is located in the middle of the Syrian Desert and populated by 35 thousand Muslims and Christians, and they lives for long years in harmony and love, they had decided altogether to name the village with its current name “Al-Qaryatayn” because it had two names in the past “Nizala” and “Hesraynan”, and this village has been mentioned in the Old Testament, there are 7 mosques and the ancient Christian monastery of Mar Elian in the village, this monastery contains Mar Elian Shrine, but when ISIS broke into the village they destroyed the monastery completely.

The village indigenous population of men and women showed great courage by staying in the middle of the desert until these days, after being left alone because the Syrian regime forces left the area, and they became face to face in front of ISIS violent fighters. Al-Qaryatayn people tried to explain their history in the area and the co-existence between Muslims and Christians, and they showed capability to make any agreement could give them the chance to stay in their land.

ISIS leaders mentioned that they are signing “promise of protection” with the Christians in the village, as they say; it is the same contract that the caliph Omar Ibn Al-Khattab has signed with the Christian people of Jerusalem.

Despite this position is not impressive, where it is a return to the sectarian savagery, yet the world has recognized citizenship and equality but I felt it is a good beginning, because Omar has introduced the pact to the Christians, and that is something advanced in that era, when people had no rights, but it is interesting that Christians put the Pact of Omar on churches walls to express co-existence through history.

Omar witnessed handing of Jerusalem keys from the patriarch Sophronius, and he showed respect to the Christian religion because when the time of pray has come he acted with prudence and refused to pray inside the church. He feared that future Muslim generations might decide to follow his footsteps and demand that the church be converted into a mosque. The Caliph therefore preferred to pray outside the church.

Pact of Omar as Altubari says in his book (History of Prophets and Kings) “this is what the servant of Allah, Amir Al-Muminin Omar has given to Jerusalem people, it is security, he gave security for them and their money, churches, crosses and everything. He promised that their churches are untouchable, and their symbolic crosses are untouchable, and they would never be coerced to relinquish their beliefs, and none of them is being harmed, and Jews prohibited of living in Jerusalem. Who wants to go with Romans, so they are safe to do that, and who wants to stay in the city, so they have to pay the jizya like others. And who wants to return, nothing would be taken from them until they reap their harvest.”

But the text of the pact that ISIS is reading is extremely different, these are some of its words that they claim Christians say “we will neither build a monastery, church, or a sanctuary for a monk in our areas, nor restore any place of worship that needs restoration, we will not prevent any Muslim from resting in our churches whether they come by day or night, those Muslims who come as guests, we will enjoy boarding them for three days, we will respect Muslims, we will move from the places we sit in if they choose to sit in them. We will not imitate their clothing, caps, turbans, sandals, hairstyles, speech, nicknames and title names, or ride on saddles, hang swords on the shoulders, collect weapons of any kind or carry these weapons. We will not engrave our stamps in Arabic, or sell wine, we will have the front of our hair cut, and we will wear our customary clothes wherever we are, we will wear belts around our waists, and we will refrain from putting crosses outside of our churches nor raise our voices in our funerals.”

Despite this text is not relevant to the age of writing the original text, but it is agreed by many historians especially followers of Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, and this form has been published by Albayhaki and Attributed to Abulrahman Ibn Ghanam, and from him Ibn Kathir has transferred in Altafseer and Ibn Asakir in Tarikh Dimashk and Ibn Zobr Alrubay transferred it from them, then Albahoty in Kashf Al kenaa, then Ibn Taymiyya in his book Iqtidaa Alsirat Almustaqim.

So the tolerant version is of Altubari, and the radical version is of Albayhaki.

Even though Altubari died in 310 AHbefore Albayhaki who died in 458 AH, as well as Ibn Kathir died in 774 AH, and Ibn Asakir died in 571 AH, so it is logical for the new generations to take from who preceded, but despotism chooses the most sinister thing and it chooses based on savagery, not based on rationality and human values.

Ibn Taymiyya adopted the radical version that assumes humiliating surrender, and this became the approach of Jihadist-Salafism in this day and age.

Omar Ibn Al-khattab history didn’t witness any conquests for Christian cities except Jerusalem, and he didn’t write any pacts for Christians except in Jerusalem.

There is no doubt that Jizya is not acceptable in the age of citizenship, but I consider this text is advanced and human in that age, where people were following their leaders and countries were permissible for everything like conquest and slavery, everyone participated in this misery in that stage of history, but the pact of Omar was good in that miserable reality.

I am not praising the jizya that I think it has faded long time ago, through the fanatical approbation of Abou Hanifa and decided to leave the superficial ideas of the text to deepen in its meanings, and what the text means is justice and co-existence and rejection of religious coercion, and it has been applied actually, the jizya is not being applied in any of the 57 Islamic member states in the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation nowadays.

Last April, president of Al-Azhar University Mr.Abdulhai Azb announced that the curriculum shouldn’t contain any concepts supporting slavery and jizya, and this is a courageous position that imposes reconsideration to curriculum in the Islamic states.

This is a new page in the Syrian tragedy, and a new slap in the face of the tyrannical regime that turned its people into martyrs and emigrants all over the world, or into helpless people controlled by violent forces that look like they are living in the medieval times, so the regime couldn’t protect the people and declared that the army forces are retreating to the most important grounds leaving the people struggling alone.

Clerics are responsible for that, because they tell the people holy stories, and they don’t play their role in rejecting evil and injustice, and they don’t say the whole truth, that human being is the God’s purpose of creation, and the prophets have come to achieve justice, so ensuring justice and equality and rejecting evil is the message of the prophets and religions, without doing this, prophets and religions are meaningless.

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