ISLAM. Unlike Christianity, which had to borrow its theology of Church and state (q.v.) from pagan Rome, Islam is a comprehensive system, an all-embracing union of civil and religious authority laid down in the religious book, the Koran, revealed to the Prophet Mohammed. Little or no ambiguity appears to adhere to the classic Muslim state, provided its leaders publicly follow the Law of the Prophet. In light of this the phrase “Muslim fundamentalists” and the theology of jihad (holy war), is in fact a tautology: historically, Islam does not rest until its jihad is victorious. Both then and now, this means that non-Islamic minorities in an Islamic state, while guaranteed certain rights by the Koran itself, tread a narrowly circumscribed path. Tension is removed only with the full submission of the subject peoples (the dhimi) to the faith. Barring this, difficulties and revolts have continued to trouble those territories where Islam rules over-or is ruled by-peoples who have not embraced it.
From its beginnings in the mid-7th c., Islam has been the great religious and civil rival-with allowances made for Russian Bolshevism and Western European advances-of the Orthodox East. The vast populations of the southeastern Mediterranean conquered in the 7th c. were, over a period of centuries and with some noticeably sizable minorities (e.g., the Coptic Church), incorporated en masse into the dar al Islam. The fault lines dividing the Orthodox from the Muslim nations, lines that run from the Adriatic and the Balkans (q.v.) through former Soviet Central Asia, have again become troubled areas in the aftermath of the Soviet Union’s dissolution, and are likely to remain so throughout the foreseeable future.