Time and again, Muslims, especially those in Egypt, project Islamic thinking onto Christians: thus the Coptic church has been accused of smuggling and storing weapons in its churches to take over the nation (when in fact mosques are regularly exposed housing illegal weapons for the jihad); of kidnapping and torturing Coptic girls who convert to Islam (when in fact Muslim converts to Christianity—apostates—are regularly beat, imprisoned, and sometimes killed); and even of supporting suicide-attacks when the church speaks of Copts being martyred (because in Islam being “martyred” so often means actively sacrificing one’s life in “holy war”).
Now a well-known cleric in Egypt—the same who insists that Muslim husbands must hate their non-Muslim wives—has just proclaimed that Jesus was against the idea of separation of church and state and that he supported the idea of jizya, the Koran-mandated tribute conquered non-Muslims, or dhimmis, are required to pay their overlords, “with willing submission,” per Koran 9:29.
Sheikh Yusuf Burhami, the most visible leader of Egypt’s Salafi movement—which, since the ousting of the Brotherhood, has become the primary Islamist party imposing Sharia in the new constitution—recently issued an Arabic-language fatwa arguing that the biblical statement attributed to Jesus—“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.’” (Matt 22:21)—could not, as widely held by Christians, have meant that Jesus supported the separation of church and state, “because,” in Burhami’s words, “a separation between state and religion contradicts the texts of the Koran.”
By way of example, Burhami quotes the Koran in his fatwa, including verses like “Indeed, the matter belongs entirely to Allah” (Koran 3:154), which mainstream Islamic exegesis holds as meaning all earthly matters—all laws—must be decided by Allah, hence the totalitarian nature of Sharia law.
Asserts Burhami: “It’s impossible for the Masih [Messiah, Jesus]—peace be upon him—to call for the separation of state and religion, as meaning that politics are to be governed without the Sharia of Allah.”
Instead, according to the Salafi leader, the “true” Jesus—the Muslim one, Isa, who is a supporter of Sharia—made that assertion to confirm that conquered populations must pay tribute—jizya; or, in the context of Jesus’ discussion concerning the image of Caesar on a coin, that 1st century Jews were obligated to pay tribute to the Romans.
Thus, by rendering tribute to Caesar, Jews were also—as there is no separation between religion and state according to Burhami—rendering unto God what is God’s, since it is God (or “Allah”) who calls on them to pay tribute, or jizya. That, according to the Salafi party of Egypt is what Jesus meant.
In the backdrop of Burhami’s fatwa are growing calls to make Egypt’s Christian Copts pay jizya to the state, as they historically did, as the Koran demands, and as vigilante Muslims are currently forcing them to do through violence.
Koran 9:29 calls on Muslims to fight and subjugate the “people of the book” (Jews and Christians) “until they pay jizya [tribute] with willing submission and feel themselves utterly subdued.” If followed to the letter—and of all Muslims, Salafis most seek to follow the letter of the Koran—along with paying tribute, Copts would also be required to “feel themselves utterly subdued,” that is, far from being equal citizens of Egypt, they would be relegated to third-class status.
Meanwhile, if Muslims like Burhami are projecting Islam’s worst traits onto Christians (and onto Christ), Westerners are projecting Western civilization’s best traits (ironically born of Christian teachings)—including tolerance and pluralism—onto Muslims and thus incapable of believing the ugly reality of Christian suffering under Islam.
Raymond Ibrahim is author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians.