Durie, an Anglican pastor and an accomplished scholar of issues involving Christianity and Islam, has produced a reasoned, comprehensive, and well-written book that is particularly apt for readers lacking an extensive background in Islam.
His title comes from the three choices that the classic religious texts of Islam offer "peoples of the book": Convert to Islam, perish by the sword, or accept a second-class status, which modern analysts call dhimmitude. This last choice renders Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians subject to heavy social, legal, and economic discrimination enforced by the ruling Muslims and implying a status of perpetual humiliation.
The book's first half clarifies the theological underpinnings of dhimmitude. Durie debunks some myths about Islam, such as the idea that jihad does not mean war but rather spirituality. He discusses the concept of abrogation in the Qur'an, used by Muslim exegetes to explain away seeming contradictions within the text. Durie shows how the more conciliatory verses of the Qur'an, quoted by contemporary Islamic apologists to underscore the peaceful nature of Islam, were written earlier in Muhammad's career when his position was tenuous. However, the more militant, less-forgiving phrases that tradition claims were revealed to Muhammad in the winter of his life abrogate many of these earlier peace-oriented verses.
Durie gives many examples of dhimmitude, both historical and contemporary, which clarify the misery, fear, poverty, and degradation that framed the world of the pre-modern dhimmi. And what of dhimmitude today? Durie gives examples of Islamic-driven discriminatory practices in Muslim states. He also explores the self-inflicted behaviors in Western states, which mirror dhimmitude, that are driven by political correctness and fears of being labeled a bigot.
The Third Choice is a good first choice for those concerned about dhimmitude today.