The Dhimma

Friday

The following is a chapter of Islam 101:

ISLAM'S persecution of non-Muslims is in no way limited to jihad, even though that is the basic relationship between the Muslim and non-Muslim world. After the jihad concludes in a given area with the conquest of infidel territory, the dhimma, or treaty of protection, may be granted to the conquered "People of the Book" — historically, Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians.

The dhimma provides that the life and property of the infidel are exempted from jihad for as long as the Muslim rulers permit, which has generally meant for as long as the subject non-Muslims — the dhimmi — prove economically useful to the Islamic state.

The Quran spells out the payment of the jizya (poll- or head-tax; Sura 9:29), which is the most conspicuous means by which the Muslim overlords exploit the dhimmi. But the jizya is not merely economic in its function; it exists also to humiliate the dhimmi and impress on him the superiority of Islam. Al-Maghili, a fifteenth century Muslim theologian, explains:

On the day of payment {of the jizya} they {the dhimmi} shall be assembled in a public place like the suq {place of commerce}. They should be standing there waiting in the lowest and dirtiest place. The acting officials representing the Law shall be placed above them and shall adopt a threatening attitude so that it seems to them, as well as to others, that our object is to degrade them by pretending to take their possessions. They will realize that we are doing them a favor in accepting from them the jizya and letting them go free. (Al-Maghili, quoted in Bat Ye'or, The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam, 361.)

Islamic law codifies various other restrictions on the dhimmi, all of which derive from the Quran and the Sunnah. Several hundred years of Islamic thought on the right treatment of dhimmi peoples is summed up by Al-Damanhuri, a seventeenth century head of Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the most prestigious center for learning in the Muslim world:

… just as the dhimmis are prohibited from building churches, other things also are prohibited to them. They must not assist an unbeliever against a Muslim … raise the cross in an Islamic assemblage … display banners on their own holidays; bear arms … or keep them in their homes. Should they do anything of the sort, they must be punished, and the arms seized …

The Companions [of the Prophet] agreed upon these points in order to demonstrate the abasement of the infidel and to protect the weak believer's faith. For if he sees them humbled, he will not be inclined toward their belief, which is not true if he sees them in power, pride, or luxury garb, as all this urges him to esteem them and incline toward them, in view of his own distress and poverty. Yet esteem for the unbeliever is unbelief. (Al-Damanhuri, quoted in Bat Ye'or, The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam, 382.)

The Christian, Jewish, and Zoroastrian peoples of the Middle East, North Africa, and much of Europe suffered under the oppressive strictures of the dhimma for centuries. The status of these dhimmi peoples is comparable in many ways to that of former slaves in the post-bellum American South. Forbidden to construct houses of worship or repair extant ones, economically crippled by the jizya, socially humiliated, legally discriminated against, and generally kept in a permanent state of weakness and vulnerability by the Muslim overlords, it should not be surprising that their numbers dwindled, in many places to the point of extinction.

The generally misunderstood decline of Islamic civilization over the past several centuries is easily explained by the demographic decline of the dhimmi populations, which had provided the principle engines of technical and administrative competence.

Should the dhimmi violate the conditions of the dhimma — perhaps through practicing his own religion indiscreetly or failing to show adequate deference to a Muslim — then the jihad resumes.

At various times in Islamic history, dhimmi peoples rose above their subjected status, and this was often the occasion for violent reprisals by Muslim populations who believed them to have violated the terms of the dhimma.

Medieval Andalusia (Moorish Spain) is often pointed out by Muslim apologists as a kind of multicultural wonderland, in which Jews and Christians were permitted by the Islamic government to rise through the ranks of learning and government administration. What we are not told, however, is that this relaxation of the disabilities resulted in widespread rioting on the part of the Muslim populace that killed hundreds of dhimmis, mainly Jews. By refusing to convert to Islam and straying from the traditional constraints of the dhimma (even at the behest of the Islamic government, which was in need of capable manpower), the dhimmi had implicitly chosen the only other option permitted by the Quran: death.


Islam 101 was written by Gregory M. Davis, author of Religion of Peace?: Islam's War Against the World, and the producer/director of Islam: What the West Needs to Know.

1 comments:

Anonymous 5:37 AM  

The jizya was enacted against the sikhs in Afghanistan by the Taliban in recent months (Jun'09) . The amount ? USD650,000 per person.

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