Also known as People of the Book, dhimmis were people who shared the Bible with Muslims. Jews, who shared the Old Testament, were included, as well as Christians. When the Umayyads conquered Persia, they added Zoroastrians to the dhimmis. When they conquered India, they included Hindus and Buddhists, even though Hinduism, Buddhism, and Zoroastrianism did not shared the Bible. Dhimmis did have to pay the head tax on non-Muslims, but their communities were left intact and they were allowed to worship as they pleased.

In an ideal Islamic state, people are provided with a basic set of human rights. The non-Muslims citizens living under the laws of an Islamic state are referred to, under Islamic Law, as dhimmi. The term "dhimmi" means "protectee." It is derived from the word "dhimma," which means "obligation to fulfill a covenant." All the non-Muslims in that state are considered "Ahl ad-dhimma," the people of the covenant.

When Muhammad(pbuh) was chosen to be head of state in the city of Medina, he wrote the world's first constitution (available in full text at He created a government which unified the various tribes and groups in the city and granted full freedom of religion for every person living there. All social, legal, and economic equality to the citizens was promised. Muhammad's constitution is a social contract, which gave a list of inalienable rights to every human being living there, Muslim or non-Muslim. No one following him can take those rights away. The "covenant" in question is the social contract for the citizens.

Islam considers all people living under the Islamic State as citizens of the State and treats them with equal status. Discrimination between Muslims and non-Muslim citizens is not allowed. The state must secure and protect their beliefs, honor, mind, property and life. An Islamic state would be an Islamically Limited Republic (ie. Based on the Quran and Sunnah and Fiqh), which prevents the majority from making rules that screw over any minority. Contrary to what BadmanX asserts, dhimmis most definitely were allowed land and any choice of animal they wanted.

An important rule of law set down is that nobody can be forced to convert to Islam. The Qur'an commands "Let there be no compulsion in religion (2:256)" as was revealed by Muhammad while he was in Medina. Non-Muslims were given equality with Muslims under the laws, and are left to their own beliefs. Muslims can marry "people of the scripture" (Jews, Christians, some say Zoroastrians) and can do business with non-Muslims. Muhammad himself used to conduct business deals with the nearby Jewish tribes and always fulfilled them. He also would hire non-Muslims.

The Quran, which Muslims consider the Word of God, guides the Muslims thus: "God forbids you not, with regards to those who fight you not for [your] faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them; for God loveth those who are just." (Quran, 60:8) The meaning of this is that God has not forbidden anybody to be kind to or fair to non-Muslims who are good people. There is no command to shun all non-Muslims.

Muhammad elevated the status given to non-Muslim citizens in hadith: “Anyone who kills a person from among the people with whom there is a treaty will not smell the fragrance of the Garden, although its fragrance reaches to a walking distance of forty years.” (Reported by al-Bukhari and others.) He also said: “Anyone who kills a dhimmi will not smell the fragrance of the Garden.” (Reported by al-Nisa’i). In case that's not clear enough, he means that a murderer will burn in hell. Imam Abu Hanifah's madhab(school of thought) says: "If a Muslim kills anyone from the People of the Dhimma, then the killer deserves the same punishment, regardless of being male or female."

The only condition was that the Dhimmi males are required to pay a small tax, known in arabic as the Jizyah. Women, children, and the insane are exempt. Muslims by law are required to give at least 2.5% of their income to charity, so this tax is the equivalent for non-Muslims. The money collected is given to the Churches and Synagogues (as well as other places of worship) and is used in their construction and upkeep. An Ideal Islamic state is pro-religion for everybody. The Qur'an includes churches, monasteries, synagogues, and temples as places where God's name is used and recognizes them as places to be protected. The tax is also a compensation for all non-Muslims being excluded from the draft. Caliph Ali (ra) said, "Surely, by giving the Jizya, their wealth becomes as valuable as ours and their blood like ours." The Caliph of the State sets the amount of the tax, but is prohibited from raising it high enough to impoverish the people. Quran commentator Yusuf Ali interprets the Jizyah as a token gesture; that the non-Muslim people recognize the authority of the Islamic state and thus pay the tax. There's a hadith where Muhammad (pbuh) appointed Abdullah bin Arqam as tax collector of the people of Zimmah and when he was leaving, Muhammad(saw) called him back and said: "Surely, whoever oppresses a person under covenant or imposes upon him more than he can afford and humiliates him or takes anything from him without his consent I will challenge him (i.e. the oppressor) on the day of judgement." Abu Dawud

Dhimmis are also free from many laws that are binding to Muslims, such as the compulsory charity for example. Imam Abu Hanifah, a major scholar of Islam said: "It is agreed upon in Islam that the People of Dhimma could drink liquor, eat pork and do what their religion allows for them within the scope of the Sharia." Islamic law cannot intrude into the privacy of the individual, sharia does not apply to personal matters in general. Marital affairs and divorce among Non-Muslims are settled according to their religions. Islamic law also permits non-Muslim minorities to set up their own courts which implement family laws drawn up by the minorities themselves.

According to the four schools of thought in Islam, Muslims are prohibited to prevent non-Muslims from drinking or dealing in alcoholic beverages or pork in Islamic countries. The move comes as a sign of religious respect Islam always encourages within its societies, as well as a guarantee for the rights of non-Muslims. Critics focus on Saudi Arabia, but Malaysia is a "Muslim" country and not only do they have pork vendors, but there are restaurants that serve alcohol out in broad daylight. Eateries that cater for non-Muslims (namely, they serve pork and wine) are in the middle of the city, not hidden from view nor harassed by the people or government.

All of the remaining Shari'ah matters and rules, such as punishments, the judiciary system, the ruling system, economics and foreign policy are implemented by the State upon everyone, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Muslims and non-Muslims are punished for crimes they have committed according to the Shari'ah. Again, there is no bias in the implementation of the punishments. The three hadith clearly indicate this.

Muhammad (saw) said: "By Allah, if Fatimah the daughter of Muhammad stole, I would cut her hand." Umar bin al-Khattab (ra), when he was Caliph, punished his own son, and gave him the full sentence. Hazrat Umar (RA), one of the first caliphs, was stabbed to death by a non-Muslim assassin while he was leading the prayer. When his advisor offered to have the city purged of the non-Muslims, Umar, on his deathbed, refused to give such an order, saying it would be unjust. He then said "I also recommend [my successor] concerning Allah's and His Apostle's protectees (i.e. Dhimmis) to fulfill their contracts and to fight for them and not to overburden them with what is beyond their ability." (Sahih Bukhari Volume 5, Book 57, Number 50) In other words, he always felt the non-Muslim citizens should be protected and actually fought to defend, and made it clear on his deathbed that the policy had to be continued by those who came after him. I can't think of any society that actually fought so hard militarily to defend a minority that was implicated in subverting the state.

The State has a responsibility to its people, both Muslim and non-Muslim. Imam Qarafi also summed up the responsibility of the State to the dhimmi when he said: "It is the responsibility of the Muslims to the People of the Dhimma to care for their weak, fulfill the needs of the poor, feed the hungry, provide clothes, address them politely, and even tolerate their harm even if it was from a neighbor, even though the Muslim would have an upper hand. The Muslims must also advise them sincerely on their affairs and protect them against anyone who tries to hurt them or their family, steal their wealth, or violates their rights." Money is taken from the state treasury for their welfare.

In comparison to other cultures of its time, it was quite tolerant. Within a Muslim society, Christians, Jews, and polytheists were allowed to live in peace and coexistence. An excellent example is the Muslim state of Cordoba in Southern Spain where Christians and Jews prospered. Maimonides, by some considered the greatest Jewish philosopher and Talmudic sage, lived in that period. The period under Moorish Muslim rule is known as the Golden Age of Judaism since Jewish people were treated better there than anywhere else in Europe or the world.

T. W. Arnold, in his book "The Preaching of Islam," wrote about the treatment of non-Muslims who lived under the Uthmani Caliphate. He states,

"...though the Greeks were numerically superior to the Turks in all the European provinces of the empire, the religious toleration thus granted them, and the protection of life and property they enjoyed, soon reconciled them to prefer the domination of the Sultan to that of any Christian power.... The treatment of their Christian subjects by the Ottoman emperors-at least for two centuries after their conquest of Greece-exhibits a toleration such as was at that time quite unknown in the rest of Europe. The Calvinists of Hungary and Transylvania, and the Unitarians of the latter country, long preferred to submit to the Turks rather than fall into the hands of the fanatical house of Hapsburg; and the Protestants of Silesia looked with longing eyes towards Turkey, and would gladly have purchased freedom at the price of submission to the Muslim rule...the Cossacks who belonged to the sect of the Old Believers and were persecuted by the Russian State Church, found in the dominions of the Sultan the toleration which their Christian brethren denied them."

"O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah as witnesses to fair dealing and let not the hatred of others to you, make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to Piety: and fear Allah for Allah is well acquainted with all that you do" (Surah Al-Maida: 8).

In the eyes of the judiciary there can be no bias against the non-Muslims in favor of Muslims. The judge (Qadi) is concerned with evidence permitted by Sharia and nothing else. There are many examples of cases where the non-Muslim was ruled in favor over a Muslim.

During the rule of Umar bin al-Khattab (ra), certain Muslims had stolen a piece of land belonging to a Jewish person and then constructed a mosque upon it. This clearly violated the rights of the man who was a dhimmi. Umar (ra) ordered the demolition of the mosque and the restoration of the land to the person.

In another case, during the rule of Ali ibn Abu Talib (ra) as Caliph, a Jewish person stole a shield from the Caliph. Ali (ra) took the matter to court and brought his son as a witness. The judge ruled against Caliph and stated that a son cannot be a witness for a father in court. When the Jewish man witnessed such fairness, he voluntarily confessed that he stole the shield and immediately embraced Islam.

Cecil Roth, in his book "The House of Nasi: Dona Gracia," mentions that the treatment of the Jews at the hands of the Ottoman state attracted Jews from all over western Europe. The land of Islam became the land of opportunity. Jewish physicians from the school of Salanca were employed in the service of the Sultan and the Viziers (ministers). In many places glass making and metalworking were Jewish monopolies, and with their knowledge of foreign languages, they were the greatest competitors of the Venetian traders.

Anyone who agrees to be a citizen of the Islamic State has the same rights and privileges of all other citizens. The Sultan, Bajazet II, is reported to have said with reference to the expulsion of the Jews by Ferdinand, the Catholic King of Spain, "How can you call this Ferdinand 'wise' - he who has impoverished his dominions in order to enrich mine?" The Sultan welcomed the Jewish refugees with open arms. Likewise, the Jews had been welcomed in Turkey as soon as Muhammad The Opener opened Constantinople to Islam.

Non-Muslims, however, can't have positions of authority over Muslims except in civil service. As citizens, they can sit on the council, in order to file complaints or challenge how the law or Islam is implemented. In the time of Medina, Muhammad would listen to complaints by the dhimmis against the Muslims. Non-Muslims can't vote in the election of the caliph. This is for a simple reason; the caliph is the Islamic equivalent of the Pope and the President, serving as both both the religious and political leader of the Islamic state. Non-Muslims, while not drafted, are allowed to join the army and be paid wages.

T. W. Arnold, in his book "The Preaching of Islam," states: "When Constantinople was finally opened to the justice of Islam in 1453 Sultan Muhammad II proclaimed himself the protector of the Greek church. Persecution of the Christians was forbidden and a decree issued securing for the newly elected patriarch, Gennadios, and his bishops and successors after him, all the privileges previously enjoyed under the former rule. Gennadios was given the pastoral staff by the Sultan himself. The patriarch was also empowered to bring to the attention of the government and Sultan acts of unjust governors."

A fatwa(Islamic ruling) detailing the rights of citizens in an Islamic state is available to read at:

Sources: (A fatwa on the topic)

Every time people try to defame Islam, preach against it, condemn it, or just "warn" people about it, they always bring up the concept of a Dhimmi. Every religion has their derogatory term for non-believer, Judaism has gentile or goy, Christianity has infidel. In my life, I've never heard a Muslim speak the word dhimmi up until I had to write this w/u and bring the subject up to them for help. I've heard a ton of anti-Islam alarmists screaming "They're trying to overthrow our Western society and make Dhimmis out of us all!" If badmanX's above writeup isn't trying to convey that message, his single source most definitely is.

People point to places that allegedly practice Shariah like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan and Nigeria and say how despicable the treatment of their dhimmis is. I'm a Muslim and I think it's horrific that they treat non-Muslims like second class citizens. They cannot take away the rights that Muhammad gave them. That is NOT sanctioned by Islam. What those places practice is not sharia; for starters, you can only practice it when you have an Islamic state. Those countries are not Islamic states. If they try to tell you otherwise, ask them: Where is their Caliph?

We must understand that certain Western groups have an agenda to distort the image of Islam, so that it cannot be viewed as an alternative to the secular/Capitalist/Christian way of life. Therefore, to get a true idea as to what will happen to non-Muslims in the Islamic State; instead of looking to the pundits' opinion, we need to look to the laws of Islam. When the Sharia(Islamic Law) was implemented correctly, it created a state so powerful that it still remains unparalleled throughout history.

BadmanX's source is full of factual errors and misinformation. I call it libel. I hardly think a bunch of Jewish and atheist websites that he uses would qualify as unbiased sources. I will try to refute it, Point by point:

No forced conversions are permissible. Ever. BadmanX says it happened. In 1400 years, it has probably happened at least once, but its still illegal, sinful, haram, and just plain wrong. You will not find a credible Muslim who will say otherwise. Islam does not resort to compulsion in calling people to it; rather it resorts to convincing them. If you don't want to be convinced, hey, our responsibility is done. You can't force someone to be Muslim, if they don't want to, then they'll just lie about it, which is definitely not needed amongst the Ummah and makes it difficult to trust anyone.

The Taliban of Afghanistan are said to have at one point required that all Hindus had to wear a piece of yellow cloth to identify their status. Islamically there is no reason or justification for that, as that never happened in the Prophet's time and this sort of innovation goes against his teachings. Forcing non-Muslims to stand out like that countermands Muhammad's (pbuh) orders. I did ask around, and I heard from a source that the yellow badge meant that they were exempt from the sharia law. A woman, for example, would not have to cover her hair, and a man would not have to have a beard if they weren't Muslim. Saudi Arabia marks a person's religious designation on Drivers' Licenses, exempting non-Muslims from things like alcohol prohibition laws. I have not been to Afghanistan so I cannot comment on how well that worked, if it took place at all.

Dhimmis are definitely allowed to own land. I think BadmanX's source is making reference to a specific case under a dictatorship somewhere. I can find nothing supporting such a restriction, nor can I find any case of it happening in any "Islamic" countries today or the past.

Some Dhimmi may have been discriminated against by Muslims as outcasts, though that attitude is not sanctioned by Islam. In general, and especially today, Muslims hire non-Muslims and work as partners. It's not like how Hindus treated Untouchables.

At one point, BadmanX claims, dhimmis couldn't own weapons. I see no evidence of that, as the non-Muslims living in Medina most certainly had weapons and armor and horses. The Jewish tribes in Medina had more armor and horses than the Muslim army! At one point, the Jewish tribes battled within Medina at Khaibar, but there were no new laws disarming non-Muslims following it.

I already explained how churches and synagogues could be built in an Islamic state. In fact, Muhammad even allowed the Christians and Jews to use his mosque as a place to conduct their prayer services.

Dhimmis, as I understand it, are free from certain laws that are binding to Muslims, such as the compulsory charity and are permitted their own laws in substitute, such as Judaic law for example.

Since Islam gave dhimmis equal rights, they could bring cases against Muslims who wronged them. They could also testify. However, in the 1400 years since Islam began, there have been periods under dictators, some of whom treated dhimmis like dirt. Unfortunately, one can't deny that, but that wasn't Islamic like the above writeup tries to assert.

There was never a genocide of dhimmis. Muslims ruled India for over 600 years, and during that time, there was never a mass forced conversion, and over 85% of the population is STILL hindu today. Doesn't that say something? And ignore BadmanX's comment, they weren't bloodthirsty savages, they were commanded by Muhammad himself to safeguard human life.

In reply to BadmanX, under the dictatorships in history, of course people of all kinds lost rights! That doesn't mean Islam sanctioned that! The laws I have said above ARE set in stone, no Muslim can change the laws of Islam. Ergo, nobody can lose their rights granted them, especially the ones I have stated above. Medina's constitution granted inalienable rights to every person, including ones for non-Muslims.

To show I''m not whitewashing the topic, I admit that non-Muslims can't vote to pick a caliph/emir(Executive). It would be like asking atheists to have a say in electing the Pope, but the difference is that the caliph is the religious as well as secular leader. From a Western view, that appears to be a bad thing and I can't lie about that or hide it. However, since the caliph can't alter the religion (and therefore its laws on dhimmis), the government cannot remove the rights of the dhimmi or alter the constitution to do such. Think of it as a quirk such as Israel not allowing Arabs to serve as any senior ministers.

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