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Islamic Politics and the Dhimmis

QUESTION: Islamic Politics – The Dhimmis


Those who submitted to Muslim authority only (not in Muhammad himself) were called dhimmis. Dhimmis were expected to express their submission to their Muslim rulers by paying a tax called jizya. The Qur’an explains their situation. “Fight those who believe not in God nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by God and His Apostle, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued” (9:29). Those who paid the tax illustrated that they “did not accept Islam, but were willing to live under the protection of Islam,” explains Abu Yusuf Ali, “and were thus tacitly willing to submit to its ideals being enforced in the Muslim State, saving only their personal liberty of conscience as regarded themselves.” As a tax levied against all men of military age, “it was in a sense a commutation for military service.”1

Islamic Politics – The Poll Tax
Some Muslims have viewed such a tax as of relatively little consequence when compared to the advantages of living under Muslim rule and protection. Afif A. Tabbarah explains, “The poll tax is a small sum of money indeed when compared to the services the Moslem State offers to protect the Dhimmis and support the army in charge to keep them safe from others’ assaults.”2 One of the inherent problems with this practice, however, is that there “was no amount fixed for it,”3 according to Abu Yusef Ali. Thus it often became extremely burdensome, relegating non-Muslims to virtual slavery.

“All taxes on trade and transport paid by Muslims were generally doubled for dhimmis,” observes Bat Ye’or. “In addition, the population—but particularly the dhimmi communities—were subject to ruinous extortions designed to cover the financing of incessant wars.”4 Because Muslims have often been at war, to finance such activities the non-Muslims who dare to remain in Muslim lands are fleeced to finance Muslim aggression (or, more rarely, defense). Most troubling is how these non-Muslims are treated when they cannot pay the jizyah. Churches have been destroyed, houses dispossessed, and children taken and sold into slavery, not to mention dismemberment, torture, and death.5


Rendered with permission from the book,Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews(Rev. 2nd ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry at Summit Ministries. All rights reserved in the original.

1 A. Yusuf Ali, The Holy Qur’an: Text, Translation and Commentary (Washington, DC: American International Printing Company, 1946), 447, n. 1281.
2 Tabbarah, The Spirit of Islam, 396.
3 The Holy Qur’an, 447, n. 1281.
4 Bat Ye’or, Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide, trans. Miriam Kochan and David Littman (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2002), 71.
5 See the discussion in Stuart Robinson, Mosques and Miracles: Revealing Islam and God’s Grace, 2nd ed. (Upper Mt. Gravatt, AUS: City Harvest Publications, 2004), 202. Robinson records that even as recent as 1997, almost fifty Christians were killed, several in a Sunday School class, apparently because they failed to pay jizyah.

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