Down the many centuries, Muslims have seen themselves inhabiting the Dar al-Islam, and in this exclusive House of Islam they are to have their way in all matters great and small. Conquest delivered into their hands the unbelievers of many lands, and these were offered terms: death for the recalcitrant, and for the rest either conversion to Islam, or the status of dhimmi, that is to say, they were deprived of the rights of Muslims and subjected to special taxation, inferiority in law courts, restrictions on worship, residence and dress, and other social disadvantages.
Persians, Berbers, and Kurds were among those choosing to convert, so that today they are almost entirely Muslim while still retaining their national and cultural identity. Jews and Christian communities, such as the Chaldeans in Iraq or the Copts in Egypt, became dhimmis. Meanwhile, unbelievers in unconquered countries were said to be living in the Dar al-Harb, the House of War, a phrase indicating that one day they too would be obliged by force of arms to choose between death, conversion, and dhimmitude.
Pryce-Jones’s essay perfectly complements Daniel Pipes’s column (linked below) on the cartoon intifada. Please read the whole thing.