The Baptist Pillar ©      Brandon Bible Baptist Church     1992-Present

"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15

Islam’s Law of Dhimmi

David Cloud, January 2016

Under Muslim rule, non-Muslims are called dhimmis and are treated differently than Muslims. Dhimmi means "protected person," but the protection is dubious, to say the least.

According to the Quran, dhimmi especially applies to "People of the Book," referring to Jews and Christians, who were treated somewhat differently than idolaters.

A dhimmi is allowed to live in Muslim territory in exchange for submission and payment of a heavy jizya tax. The Quran says: "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, 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" (Quran 9:29).

Exercise of the dhimmi law has varied from place to place and time to time, both in history and at the present. For example, in the late ninth century, Tariqu al-Hakim, the sixth Fatimid caliph in Egypt, required all Christians to wear a four-pound cross around their necks and Jews to wear a four-pound carving of a calf (for having worshiped the golden calf) (Rodney Stark, God's Battalions, p. 90).

Sometimes Christian dhimmis have been allowed to keep their churches (but not build new ones or repair old ones), but they have always been forbidden to evangelize. For a Muslim to declare faith in Christ is apostasy, which is an unforgivable sin and punishable by death under sharia law.

After the Muslims conquered Syria in the seventh century, the dhimmis had to wear special identifying clothing and clip the fronts of their hair. They were not allowed to own weapons, ride on saddles, display crosses or Bibles, or hold public religious ceremonies. They had to take in any Muslim traveler and give him three days' food and lodging (Trifkovic, The Sword of the Prophet, p. 105).

Even the most minor infraction of the dhimmi rules "left the door open for the resumption of jihad." In practice, dhimmis have been treated in whatever way the ruling Muslims see fit, and they have had no judicial recourse. They are at the "mercy" of their masters, but history tells us that more often than not, the Muslim masters were like the Babylonians, of whom Jeremiah said, "they are cruel, and have no mercy" (Jer. 6:23).

The dhimmi law is enforced with great rigor today by the Islamic State. The following is a description of what is happening under Islamic State rule in Syria, as told by Christian refugees who fled to Jordan. "Their village was occupied by rebel forces, who proceeded to announce that they were now under an Islamic emirate and were subject to sharia law. The Christian residents were offered four choices:

(1) renounce the 'idolatry' of Christianity and convert to Islam;

(2) pay a heavy tribute (jizya) to the Muslims for the privilege of keeping their heads and their Christian faith;

(3) be killed; or

(4) flee for their lives, leaving all their belongings behind.

Some Christians were killed, some fled, some tried to pay the jizya and found it too heavy a burden to bear after the rebels kept increasing the amount they had to pay, and some were unable to flee or pay, so they converted to Islam to save themselves. The scenario reported by Syrian refugees is a re-enactment of the historic fate of Christians across the Middle East" ("A Conversation with Christian Syrian Refugees," Religious Freedom Coalition, June 1, 2013).