Saturday, April 09, 2005

Are the Mamluks Back?

The Arab News reports that a German news agency believes that the Philippine government is investigating reports of forcible conversions to Islam of Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia.

The allegations were met with an immediate denial by Badr A-Olayan, director of the Islamic Education Foundation. Several Filipino workers were brought forth to deny the story.
    "After seeing this report I had contacted many people working in the field to find out whether any Filipino had been converted to Islam by force. They told me that they had not come across any such incident in the Kingdom," Olayan said.
Filipinos who embraced Islam recently expressed their indignation saying the allegations were aimed at tarnishing the image of Islam and Filipino Muslims.
"It's a ridiculous report, which has no basis at all. At least I can tell you that I embraced this great religion out of my own conviction and without any outside pressure," one Filipino Muslim told Arab News.
It remains to be seen whether or not the report is true. If it turns out that Filipino workers start showing up as jihad terrorists, the old Islamic mamluk tradition of slave soldiers may be operative again.

Is history repeating itself? Let's wait and see what shows up.


Dymphna said...

This isn't clear. Do you mean the original mamluks were stupid? They were merely slaves captured by Islam and forced into war by their overlords. Their other choice was immediate death by a sword through the throat. Being a mamluk gave one a chance to survive. That's all our genetic drive requires: a chance.

The jannissaries, on the other hand, were soldiers who were taken as children from infidel families and trained under monastic conditions to be fighters. The children were considered a kind of dhimmi "tax" which Muslims could impose at will. As a result, many parents deliberately maimed their boy children so they would not be taken. Of course these parents were harshly treated...

The need for stealing children to make them into janissaries arose because Arab warriors considered the role of infantryman too lowly to assume. That's one reason the American military is as strong and flexible as it is: the infantry is a proud tradition, not a shameful condition. Initiative and flexible thinking are rewarded.

The problem with the muslim culture is that it confuses shame and pride. To them, the experience of shame induces the need to react in order to restore some mythic "honor." The opposite of shame is not honor, it is pride, pride in one's accomplishments. Honor is an empty phrase, centered on what others think of us rather than what we make of ourselves.

BTW, the Janissaries eventually became so powerful that they turned on their masters and took over.