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Offline Reader Questions

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Jizya and Dhimmi Status
« on: March 21, 2012, 12:54:05 AM »
Salam Joseph,

If religion had no compulsion then why were all the followers of a different relgion such as the Jews and Christians made 'dhimmis' and asked to pay tax?

Offline Joseph Islam

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Re: Jizya and Dhimmi Status
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2012, 01:04:21 AM »
Wa alaikum assalam,

To enable a proper understanding of this matter from the Quran, one needs to divorce themselves from the plethora of Islamic secondary sources which gravely influence the understanding of Muslim thinking.

Verse 9:29 clearly confers the 'jizyah' and the 'dhimmi status' on a particular section from the People of the Book who not only transgressed against the believers (in the context of Surah 9), but also did not acknowledge the religion of truth (din-al-haq) and transgressed in matters of unlawfulness (haram)

This clearly does not include all the People of the Book, but a particular section.

According to the Quran, there were Jews and Christians that acknowledged the religion of truth.

"Not all of them are alike: Of the People of the Book are a portion that stand: They rehearse the verses of God all night long, and they prostrate themselves in adoration. They believe in God and the Last Day; they enjoin what is right, and forbid what is wrong; and they hasten in good deeds: They are in the ranks of the righteous"
"Strongest among men in enmity to the believers you will find the Jews and Pagans; and nearest among them in love to the believers you will find those who say, "We are Christians": because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant. And when they listen to the revelation received by the Messenger, you will see their eyes overflowing with tears, for they recognise the truth: they pray: "Our Lord! we believe; write us down among the witnesses."

"Of the people of Moses there is a section who guide and do justice in the light of truth."
"If only they had stood firmly by the Torah, the Gospel, and all the revelations that were sent to them from their Lord, they would have enjoyed happiness from every side. There is from among them a party on the right course: but many of them follow a course that is evil."
"Among the People of the Book are some who, if entrusted with a hoard of gold, will (readily) pay it back; others, who, if entrusted with a single silver coin, will not repay it unless you constantly stand demanding, because, they say, "there is no call on us (to keep faith) with these ignorant (Pagans)." but they tell a lie against God, and (well) they know it."

Therefore, the 'jizya' tax conferring a 'dhimmi status' was only applicable on those that denied the true religion from the People of the Book and continued with their transgressions in the context of Surah Tauba (9).

Given the verses cited above, not all Jews and Christians fell into this category which is made clear by the verses of Surah Tauba (9) and can be seen illustrated in the following diagram.

Islam was not a new religion that initiated with Prophet Muhammad but was one that was inspired in all the Prophets that preceded him.

"The same religion (Arabic: Deen) has He established for you as that which He enjoined on Noah and that which We have sent by inspiration to thee and that which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses, and Jesus: Namely, that you should remain steadfast in religion, and make no divisions in it: to those who worship other things than God, hard is the (way) to which you call them. God chooses to Himself those whom He pleases, and guides to Himself those who turn (to Him)"
Therefore, followers of previous scriptures were not all following a 'false religion'. Only if they transgressed in their religion (9:30-31; 5:77) despite the Prophet manifesting the truth to them [1] and continued in their aggression towards the believers (Surah 9) respecting not their ties, treaties or oaths, only then was this status conferred on them.


I hope that helps, God willing,
'During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act' 
George Orwell