The Basic Rules of Dhimma
The dhimma was the code of rules governing life for the non-Muslim subjects in the Muslim state. It also told Muslims how to treat the dhimmis. The dhimma could be described as a system of oppression, humiliation, and pecuniary exploitation of non-Muslims by the Muslim state.
Like any body of law, the dhimma was subject to changing interpretations at different times and places. For instance, in early Islam only peoples of the Book [ahl al-Kitab] were to be tolerated, as inferior subjects in the Muslim empire. Zoroastrians were added to those to be tolerated at an early stage. But polytheists were forbidden and were to be annihilated. However, when Muslims conquered parts of India, the exploitative, oppressive toleration of the dhimma was extended to the Hindus, probably since there were so many of them, too many to be annihilated.
Here are the basic rules of dhimma:
1- taxes: dhimmis had to pay a tax per head on each adult man, usually called jizyah. There was also a tax for dhimmis to pay on real estate, including agricultural land, called kharaj. Since the dhimmi farmer or peasant had therefore to pay two taxes, both the jizyah and the kharaj, his situation became very difficult and this led to dhimmi abandonment of farm lands, and sometimes to conversion to Islam. Conversion was not allowed in the very early period of the Muslim conquests, since the policy was to keep Muslims and conquered peoples separate, with the Muslims living off the tribute and loot. However, later in the Umayyad period conversion seems to have been first allowed.
2- dhimmi peoples could retain a certain communal autonomy under their own religious leadership which was of course subject to Muslim overlordship. This was called the millet system in the Ottoman empire
3- a Muslim woman could not marry a non-Muslim man; that is, a dhimmi man could not marry a Muslim woman, but the reverse was allowed
4- a non-Muslim could not possess a Muslim slave, but the reverse was very much allowed
5- the child of a mixed marriage must be a Muslim
6- the blood price for a Muslim --who had been murdered-- was higher than that for a non-Muslim who had been murdered
7- Non-Muslims could not build new places of worship, hold religious processions, ring bells
8- Non-Muslims could not make converts among Muslims
9- Dhimmis could not bear arms
10- Dhimmi garments must differ from Muslim garments
11- Dhimmis had to always show respect and deference for Muslims, such as dismounting from their donkeys when encountering a Muslim on the road
12- the testimony in court of a dhimmi was worth half of the testimony of a Muslim
Of course, not all of these rules were applied at every time and place in the Islamic domain. After all, it was difficult for Muslim troops to penetrate the Maronite mountain villages in Lebanon if they were situated high enough up in the mountains and had a good defensive position. On the other hand, the regular taxes on dhimmis, jizyah and kharaj, were supplemented at various times and places by irregular taxes, extorted fees, exactions, forced bribes, etc. These rules and other rules enforced on dhimmis at various times and places in the Islamic domain as elaborations of the dhimma, should be compared with the apartheid system formerly in effect in South Africa. There is great similarity between dhimma and apartheid, although dhimma was not formally based on skin color or biological race, although there was a racial-ethnic element and there were color prejudices in Islamic society. As skin color and racial prejudices, consider the depiction of Blacks in the Arabian Nights [1001 Nights] Tales, an Arab book easily available in translation in Western countries. Bernard Lewis has written books on race and slavery in Islam, which are helpful. As to ethnic prejudices, the Arabs have traditionally considered themselves superior to other Muslims, and have used the term shu`ubiyyah, meaning non-Arab nationalism among peoples converted to Islam, in a derogatory, pejorative sense [one of the first issues of the Middle East Journal, back in 1946 or 1947, had an article on this]. This topic is especially important now that the Arabs and other Judeophobes, Leftist neo-Nazis, Rightist neo-Nazis, academic mad professors and liars, are charging Israel with apartheid. Other charges have failed, so they have made up the apartheid charge. This is a gross lie, which anyone living in Israel is aware of. Apartheid was a social system in South Africa based on skin color and biological race. Blacks were forced to ride on separate buses and trolleys, were not allowed to eat with whites in restaurants, paid lower wages for the same work, etc. None of this true in Israel. Since Arabs are not so visibly distinct from Jews in physical appearance, as Blacks and whites were in South Africa, how could they be kept off the buses? We may ask how Arab suicide bombers got on the buses. Arabs eat in the same restaurants as Jews. Many Arab students are studying at the Israeli universities, etc. The apartheid charge is a sign that Communist and Nazi Judeophobia and Judeophobic techniques have merged. The dhimma system can be considered in fact a model for apartheid, although it is not exactly the same of course.
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Coming: more on Jews in Jerusalem, Poems of Zion, etc.
UPDATING 32-2014 The Dhimma is still very much alive and kicking and oppressing non-Muslims. The ISIS [Islamic State in Iraq and ash-Sham (= Levant)] has imposed dhimma rules on Christians in the al-Raqqa region of eastern Syria as part of their jihad. Anyone who believed that the Middle Ages were over and done with has another think coming [here]. This is not to imply any moral superiority on the part of the Bashar Assad regime in Syria. The article at link contains a list of dhimma rules which the ISIS just imposed in al-Raqqa.