MOSCOW (Realist English). Today I’ll tell you about the topic that over the past century and a half has been covered with a veil of lies and myths. It will be about the relations of the Armenian people with the world of Islam, which originate in the Holy Jerusalem. Do you know that Armenians are one of the few peoples who saw Prophet Muhammad alive and received his blessing?
According to the testimony of the Arab historian Zeki ad-Din, in 626, Abraham, the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, went to Mecca with a delegation of 40 prominent representatives of the Armenians to meet with the Prophet and ask for his personal patronage.
The Prophet received the Armenians with warmth and care, giving them a letter of commendation at the end of the meeting, which stated the following:
“I Muhammad, son of Abdullah, Prophet and servant of the Lord give honour to Patriarch Abraham, the archbishops, bishops and priests in Jerusalem, Damascus and elsewhere in the boundaries of Arabia, and those people subject to them in Jerusalem that is to say the Ethiopians, the Copts and the Assyrians and recognise their monasteries, churches, schools, properties and their lands.
I Muhammad, Prophet with the witness of the Lord and those men and women around me in their mercy grant to the Armenians the churches found in Jerusalem, the Holy Sepulchre, the great church of S. Hagop (called Mar Jacub), the monastery of the prison of Jesus, the church of Bethlehem and the chapels of S. John and those in Samaria (Nablus) and the rear places of prayer in the Holy Sepulchre and all Golgotha with its upper story and the tomb of Christ where they maintain light. Further I grant them all the places of pilgrimage, and the hills, valleys, and land and revenues thereof, as witnessed by God and his Prophet and all Moslem faithful.”
The heirs of the Prophet, who were called righteous caliphs, each time confirmed the rights of Armenians to religious shrines and property. In 638, the Prophet’s precepts were followed by Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab, who issued his charter immediately after the conquest of Jerusalem. And after Umar, the rights of Armenians to shrines and property were confirmed by the Prophet’s son–in-law, Ali ibn Abu Talib.
The fathers of Islam called Armenians and other ancient religious denominations “zimmi”, which in Arabic means “people of Scripture” or “people of contract”. Muslims also referred to “people of Scripture” Jews, Greeks, Assyrians, Ethiopians and even Zoroastrians.
The Arabs were experts in the history of Great Armenia. Therefore, during their rule in the Caucasus, Armenia, Kartli and Albania were called “Armenia”. That is, the Armenian civilization was perceived by the Arabs as maternal in relation to neighboring peoples.
Armenia, with its capital in Dvin, enjoyed broad autonomy within the caliphate and was ruled by Armenian princes. Armenians minted their own coin. The country enjoyed such a degree of independence that it had not known since the time of the Arshakid dynasty. Moreover, there were no Arab garrisons stationed in Armenia. The Caliph even guaranteed military assistance in the event of an attack from Byzantium. In return, the Armenian princes paid relatively small taxes and in the first half of the VIII century participated in The Arab–Khazar wars.
In fairness, let me remind you that even during the years of fierce wars with the Crusaders, the caliphs did not deny the Armenians their rights to the Jerusalem shrines. For example, when in 1187 Caliph Salahaddin expelled 100,000 Christians from Jerusalem and banned church services, he made an exception only to local Armenians, confirming in his letter the precepts of the Prophet Muhammad, as well as the caliphs Umar and Ali. It is unlikely that in his policy Salahaddin was guided by the fact that his Kurdish family came from the Armenian city of Dvin. By the way, Salahaddin even reduced taxes on Armenian merchants and pilgrims.
Centuries later, the then Ottoman Sultans, who declared themselves Caliphs and leaders of Islam, followed the prescriptions of Prophet Muhammad. Thus, in 1517, Sultan Selim, who seized Palestine, confirmed the property rights of Armenians in Jerusalem. His successor Sultan Suleiman also followed the instructions of the Righteous Caliphs. Later, the rights of the Armenians were confirmed in 1659 by Sultan Mehmed IV, in 1735 — by Sultan Mahmud I and in 1853 — by Sultan Abdulmejid I.
Today, Turkish-Baku propaganda is trying to turn the entire Muslim world against Armenians, exposing the territorial dispute with the Armenian people as a conflict between Islam and Armenians. However, there is no religious conflict and there cannot be. Otherwise, neither Prophet Muhammad, nor the Arab Caliphs, nor even the Turkish Sultans, would from century to century have confirmed the property rights of Armenians in Jerusalem, where the struggle for every centimeter of the Holy Land has been going on for more than two thousand years.
Facts are a stubborn thing. The fact that Armenians have such a large Diaspora in the Arab countries suggests that faithful Muslims know how to be friends with “people of the Scripture.” But the pagan pan-Turkists, who are trying to speak for the entire Muslim world, are not able to get along with the Armenians.
Why do Armenians have a large diaspora in Egypt, Syria and the Persian Gulf countries, while the Turks and the Transcaucasian Tatars, with their significant demographic superiority over Armenians, do not have such a diaspora in the Arab countries? Why can the Arabs be friends with the Armenians, but the modern-day pan-Turkist Turks, professing the same Islam, choose war with the Armenians? Everything is simple. Religion has nothing to do with it. The reason lies in the territorial conflict, which is constantly fueled by Armenophobia. Pan-Turkists do not just want to live on Armenian lands, they want to be masters on the Armenian lands. And without the Armenians.
This was precisely the main reason for the Armenian Genocide – the pan-Turkists tried to drive the Armenians from their historical lands in order to create a continuous belt from the Black Seas to the Caspian Sea. They partially achieved their goals, but the pan-Turkists did not succeed in dragging the world of Islam into their territorial showdowns with the Armenians.
Back in May 1909, the imam of the main Egyptian mosque Al-Azhar, Salim al-Bishri, issued a decree condemning the Turkish authorities for calling for a massacre and for the extermination of 30 thousand Armenians in Adana. Al-Bishri issued his prescription in a counterbalance to the decree of the Turkish mufti, who in April 1909 called on the Turks to kill the Armenians in order to “open their way to paradise.”
That’s what al-Bishri said then:
“We have come across, through the local newspapers, saddening news and despicable reports about Muslims in some of the Anatolian provinces of the Ottoman realms. These include reports that they have transgressed against the Christians by attacking and brutally murdering them. We were shocked by such reports and hoped that they would prove to be false because Islam, as a general principle, absolutely forbids acts of unjustified aggression and forbids oppression, bloodshed and harming others, irrespective of whether they be Muslim, Christian or Jewish.
O Muslims living in those lands and elsewhere, be aware of transgressing the bounds established by God Almighty in his Shariah (Divine Law), and spare the blood that God has deemed impermissible to spill and do not transgress against anyone for verily God despises those who transgress. [As the Qur’an says]: “God does not forbid you from befriending those who do not fight you because of religion, and do not evict you from your homes. You may befriend/act kindly towards them and be equitable just towards them. God loves the equitable” [Q. 60:8].
O Muslims, be faithful to your religion and beware of perpetrating acts forbidden by God in His Book and the Sunnah of His Prophet, and beware of disobeying God, which incites His anger and indignation. Verily, God has imposed on you responsibilities and ordained that you are obligated to grant certain rights to those to whom you are contractually bound and those who have entrusted their safety to you and those who live amongst you from among the Jews and the Christians (ahl al-dhimma). These include that you act righteously towards them as they have acted righteously towards you, protect them from what you protect yourselves and your kin from, to strengthen them with your strength and power, and to protect their homes, monasteries, and churches in the same manner that you protect your mosques and places of worship. And, by God, whoever transgresses against their womenfolk, murders them and oppresses them has truly violated the covenant established by God Almighty and violated their divinely-ordained obligations.
O Muslims, do not allow racism to overcome you nor permit racial loyalties to become the sole influence upon your souls, for these are emotions and concepts from the Age of Ignorance that Islam has sought to eradicate. Indeed, you have the best exemplar in the conduct of the Prophet of God and his noble Companions.”
The decree of the Egyptian imam was subsequently supported by the descendant of Prophet Muhammad, the guardian of Mecca Hussein ibn Ali, who in 1917, being already the king of the Hejaz (that is, the ruler of the future Saudi Arabia), called on all Muslims to protect the Armenians.
“You are required to protect all representatives of the Armenian community who remain or live in your neighborhoods or in the neighborhood of your tribes… Provide them with everything they may need… because they are a people protected by Muslims, about whom Prophet Muhammad said: “Whoever steals even a rope from them, I will be his opponent on the Day of Judgment.”
The hypocrisy of Talaat, Enver and Jemal was seen not only in the world of Islam. Even the English intelligence officer Lawrence of Arabia, who was hardly to be accused of pro-Armenian sentiments, accused them of using religion as a cover.
He said that the Armenians were well armed and organized, but the authorities betrayed them. They were disarmed and gradually exterminated: the men were massacred, the women and children, who were robbed by every passerby, were dying on the winter roads when evicted to the desert, deprived of clothes and food. The Young Turks exterminated the Armenians not because they were Christians, but because they were Armenians. For the same reason, they drove the Muslim Arabs and the Christian Arabs into the same prisons and hung them together on the same gallows. Djemal Pasha subjected all classes, estates and confessions in Syria indiscriminately to the same oppression and dangers, thereby creating the prerequisites for a general uprising.
The murderers of the Armenian people violated all the laws of Sharia and even of secular morality. Just think about it: in 1908, Armenians hid the leaders of the Young Turk movement in their homes and took an active part in the overthrow of Sultan Abdul Hamid II. A year later, those same Young Turks massacred tens of thousands of Armenians in Adana. It was their “gratitude” to the Armenians for their assistance in overthrowing the sultan, who shed rivers of innocent blood. As soon as they sat down in the armchair and got the desired power, the Young Turks immediately dealt with the Armenians who had helped them.
It is not by chance that I have reminded about this historical episode. Every Armenian who stands for “friendship” and “peace” with the Turk today should know that at the right moment he will be treated exactly as the Armenians have been treated in the Ottoman Empire. And it does not matter with whom he is dealing — with a pan-Turkist from Ankara or from Baku. Don’t repeat the mistakes of the past! And remember: the struggle of the Armenians against pan-Turkism, that is, with the Turkish version of fascism, is not our exclusive. Pan-Turkism was and remains a vital threat to the Christian and Muslim peoples of the former Ottoman Empire. Pan-Turkism is also a vital threat to the Christian and Muslim peoples of the former Russian Empire. And the sooner a united front of resistance is created, the more lives we will save!
Sarkis Tsaturyan — Editor-in-Chief of Realist Information Agency, Author of the Analytical Program “Power”