Most people think that Islam was spread by the sword, but as it turns out there were much more practical considerations such as freedom from taxation and better business opportunities that actually persuaded many non-Muslims living under Muslim rule to convert.
My son, Giancarlo Casale, who teaches Ottoman history at the University of Minnesota, enlightened me with a memorable discourse on this very subject which he delivered last summer while the two of us were lounging on a beach in Crete. I’m hoping to persuade him to be a guest on our next show. We’re also hoping to bring the topic up to date when Jim Delehanty, Associate Director of the UW’s African Studies Program, comes back from his trip to Senegal in January. Senegal is 95% Muslim, and he’s intending to do research on what life is like for non-Muslims living there.
Have you ever lived as a minority in a Muslim country or do you know anybody who has? What was it like? Can you give us any leads?