I appreciate Paul Bilal Williams letting me comment again on his [old] blog recently.
Paul Bilal Williams had this video up at his blog; but his blog is no longer there; So I found Hamza Yusuf’s video on YouTube: a video up of Hamza Yusuf explaining the concept of Dhimmi and Dhimmitude in Islam. ( Paul B. Williams keeps taking his blogs down, leaving Islam and coming back to Islam. He seems to struggle with his faith.)
Dhimmi in Islam basically means the minority, subjugated, protected peoples who have to pay a submission tax (Jiziye – Qur’an Surah 9:29) under the Islamic state, originally it was the Christians and the Jews, the people of the book. Later is was expanded to include the Zorastrians in Persia, when the Arabs conquered the Persian Empire, and then later even extended to Hindus and Buddhists in India, when they expanded their jihads into India.
Hamza Yusuf makes some good points, but . . . the parallel he makes with USA and Kuwait is not a complete parallel. Keep reading.
Expansion of Islam (622 AD – 750 AD)
Age of the Caliphs and Dhimmi System
Expansion under Muhammad, 622–632/A.H. 1-11
Expansion during the Rashidun Caliphate, 632–661/A.H. 11-40
Expansion during the Umayyad Caliphate, 661–750/A.H. 40-129
In order to understand Dhimmi ذمّی and Dhimmitude in Islam, one has to get the larger context than just Hamza Yusuf’s short statement. One should read all of the links to the articles below to understand Dhimmi and Dhimmitude. It developed from Surah 9:28-29 and from the Pact of Umar I (Umar/Omar Ibn Al Kattab, the Second Caliph, 634-644 AD) and was further developed under another Umar/Omar – Umar Ibn Abdul Azziz, who was Caliph from 717-720 AD.)
Overall, if one reads all the information here, and the links to other articles, it shows the problem with modern Muslims claiming that that the attacks on the Byzantine and Persian Empires from 634 AD onward to 732 (battle of Tours and Charles Martel stopping the Muslims in Europe) and beyond all the way to 1453 and the conquering of Constantinople, are false claims for saying they were seeking to free the Copts and other Monophysites and Nestorians from the tryanny of the Byzantine and Persian Empires. It is true that at the beginning, from some exant sources, the Monophysite Copts and Syrians said that they welcomed the Arab Muslims as liberators from their Byzantine oppressors. (policies from Justinian (Emperor from 527-565 AD) and Heraclius (Emperor from 610-641 AD – at time of Muhammad) who both tried to unify the Monophysite groups to unity with the Chalcedonian Creed of 451 AD.) However, according to the Qur’an and Hadiths, that was not Muhammad nor the Caliphs motivations. They wanted to spread Islam, as David Wood points out, Surah 9:29 does not say, “fight the people of the book because they oppress each other” (Byzantines/Chalcedonian Creed vs. Monophysite Copts, Jacobite Syrians and Armenians; and Nestorians vs. Zoroastrian Persia). It says “fight them because of their beliefs and practices” and verse 28 and 29 indicates that Allah will make them rich by the jiziye tax that they will get from the Christians and Jews. So the attacks of Umar Ibn Al Kattab and the Jihads of the Muslims after that were all unjust. Later, the Copts and Syrians and other minorities could not complain because of fear of persecution and violence, and it was too late. As one Coptic Christian Evangelical said to me, “The Muslims decieved my people at the beginning; for later it became worse.” The minority Christians slowly converted to Islam over the centuries because of the economic and social pressures of being “Dhimmi” – really, it amounted to being a second class citizen.
What is really interesting is verse 28 – “if you fear poverty, soon Allah will enrich you”. the reason for that was because Muhammad had conquered the Hijaz (the Arabian peninsula, especially around Mecca and Medina, and no pagans or idol worshippers were allowed. That means the Muslims could not get tax or penalty money from the pagans. Surah 9:5 – “fight the unbelievers where ever you find them”, proves this, and several Hadith that says “no two religions will be allowed on the Arabian peninsula” see Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 288, and other Hadiths, quoted at the bottom of this article *) They were all killed or driven out or converted to Islam. So now, there is no revenue from the pilgrimmages, so, according to verses 28-29, they will allow the Christians and Jews to be in the Islamic state, provided they surrender and don’t fight/resist, and pay the Jiziye with humiliation, and they cannot evangelize or build new churches or even criticize Islam.
Qur’an 9:28—O ye who believe! Truly the Pagans are unclean; so let them not, after this year of theirs, approach the Sacred Mosque. And if ye fear poverty, soon will Allah enrich you, if He wills, out of His bounty, for Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.
Qur’an 9:29—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, from among the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.
Qur’an 9:30—The Jews call Uzair a son of God, and the Christians call Christ the son of God. That is a saying from their mouth; (In this) they but imitate what the Unbelievers of old used to say. Allah’s curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!
Ibn Kathir, The Battles of the Prophet, pp. 183-4— “Allah, Most High, ordered the believers to prohibit the disbelievers from entering or coming near the sacred Mosque. On that, Quraish thought that this would reduce their profits from trade. Therefore, Allah, Most High, compensated them and ordered them to fight the people of the Book until they embrace Islam or pay the Jizyah. Allah says, “O ye who believe! Truly the pagans are unclean; so let them not, after this year of theirs, approach the sacred Mosque. And if ye fear poverty, soon will Allah enrich you, if He wills, out of His bounty, for Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise. 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, from among the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” Therefore, the Messenger of Allah decided to fight the Romans in order to call them to Islam.”
Tafsir Ibn Kathir (on Qur’an 9:30)—”Fighting the Jews and Christians is legislated because they are idolaters and disbelievers. Allah the Exalted encourages the believers to fight the polytheists, disbelieving Jews and Christians, who uttered this terrible statement and utter lies against Allah, the Exalted. As for the Jews, they claimed that Uzayr was the son of God, Allah is free of what they attribute to Him. As for the misguidance of Christians over Isa, it is obvious.”
About the Pact of Umar Ibn Al Khattab, the Second Khaliph of Sunni Islam. (some of the quotes below are taken from this article) Shows that Christians and Jews were indeed humiliated, forced to pay the Jiziye, contrary to what Hamza Yusuf said, and were not allowed to evangelize or build new churches, or even to repair existing churches. (this one seems to have been sometimes allowed in Muslim history, but they were never allowed to build new churches or evangelize Muslims.)
A Muslim scholar admits that the most quoted Hadith about the greater Jihad being the struggle against one’s inner sinful desires is a weak Hadith. (most quoted in the west trying to tell westerners that “Jihad” is not primarily about fighting in war.)
Back to the video by Hamza Yusuf that Paul Williams put up at his site.
Hamza Yusuf makes some good points. The Muslims were kind to the Jews and other heretics when they were fleeing the persecutions of the Roman Catholics during the middle ages, especially when they were fleeing the Spanish Inquisition.
The point that the Kuwaitis paid for protection against Saddam Hussein and the USA rebuilt Kuwait and got S.H. out of Kuwait for a price is a pretty good point . . .
except the USA never stayed there as the rulers (Omar and Islam / subsequent Khaliphs did after they conquered most of the Byzantine Empire and the Persian Empire), and they never required anyone to convert to any kind of religion, and they never forbid evangelism/da’awa. The USA promoted freedom of thought and freedom of speech, and freedom of religion (this includes freedom to evangelize, which Islam never permits.)
In order to understand Dhimmi / Dhimmitude, Hamza Yusuf left out a lot of details of the requirements of the Dhimmi peoples – the Christians (and Jews) were not allowed to evangelize or share the gospel with Muslims. And Muslims were never allowed freedom of speech and / or thought – to question Islam or leave Islam. The USA in Kuwait was a temporary thing, we helped them rebuilt their country, allowed freedom of thought, and left. To this day, the Kuwaiti people love George H. W. Bush for getting Saddam out of Kuwait.
Dhimmi does not mean “responsibility” but it means “protected under contract”, or “contract” or “agreement of the “protected ones”. One could say that the Dhimmis had responsibility to respond rightly, but the choice was pay the Jiziye tax or be punished, tortured, imprisoned or die by the sword. Also, later, the Muslims added the Kharaj tax, and together it slowly wore down the populations to where the Christians converted to Islam. Their responsibility was to obey the covenants in the Pact of Umar/ Omar 1 (Islamic history attributes it to Omar ibn Al Khattab- around 637-638 AD, when he conquered Jerusalem and Syria/Levant, but many agree that it was probably developed and added to by a later Umayyad Khaliph, who also had the name of Umar/Omar – in the Covenant of Omar 2 ( Omar Ibn Abdul Azziz) ( 717-720 AD) There is no doubt there is humiliation there and by the comments of Ibn Kathir and Ibn Hazm, if you read them with honesty, there is no way that what Hamza Yusuf says about “Saghir” (humiliation, small, lower than, less than) can stand up to scrutiny. Hamza Yusuf doesn’t tell the whole story, and distorts things on this issue.
Despite being attributed to Umar Ibn al Khattab, the second Khaliph, by early Muslim jurists, most modern scholars are of the opinion that the document was either the work of 9th century Mujtahids, or was forged during the reign of the Umayyad Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz (717-720 AD), with other clauses added later. Other scholars concluded that the document may have originated in immediate post-conquest milieu and was stylized by later historians.
Originally, Muhammad’s Islam was that only Christians and Jews were allowed to live if they paid the Jizieye, (Surah 9:28-29) and only later, when the Muslims were conquering Persia, did they expand it to the Magi / Majoosian (the Arabic word for Zoroastrians). But most Persians were killed, eventually converted or fled Persian/Iran – there are more Zoroastrians (Parsees) in Mumbai, India today, than in Iran. They are the descendants of those that fled the harsh wars against them in Persia, started by Khalif Umar Ibn Al Khattab. Much later, when Islam expanded through Jihads and Wars into India, they expanded the Dhimmi principle to Buddhists and Hindus, but originally, it was only for Monotheistic religions, Jews and Christians.
“[The] capitation-tax [Jizya] is a sort of punishment inflicted upon infidels for their obstinacy in infidelity, (as was before stated;) whence it is that it cannot be accepted of the infidel if he send it by the hands of a messenger, but must be exacted in a mortifying and humiliating manner, by the collector sitting and receiving it from him in a standing posture : (according to one tradition, the collector is to seize him by the throat, and shake him, saying, “Pay your tax, Zimmee!) It is therefore evident that capitation-tax is a punishment; … Secondly, capitation-tax is a substitute for destruction in respect to the infidels, and a substitute for personal aid in respect to the Muslims, (as was before observed;) – but it is a substitute for destruction with regard to the future,” From the Hanafi Sharia Law manual.
Thus in the Hanifi school – which was the most liberal of the four with regard to Jizya – the Jizya is clearly identified as a “humiliation” and a “substitute for destruction”. Thus we can see who it primarily was the such “protected persons” as Dhimmis were actually protected from. In other words: Jizya is a protection racket and if you don’t pay you will be killed.
One renowned modern Muslim commentator, S. Abul A’la Mawdudi writes:
“They [Jews and Christians] should be forced to pay Jizyah in order to put an end to their independence and supremacy so that they should not remain rulers and sovereigns in the land.”(Mawdudi, S. Abul A’la, The Meaning of the Qur’an, 1993 edition, vol 2, page 183.)
* No two religions are allowed in Arabia
Narrated Said bin Jubair: Ibn ‘Abbas said, “Thursday! What (great thing) took place on Thursday!” Then he started weeping till his tears wetted the gravels of the ground . Then he said, “On Thursday the illness of Allah’s Apostle was aggravated and he said, “Fetch me writing materials so that I may have something written to you after which you will never go astray.” The people (present there) differed in this matter and people should not differ before a prophet. They said, “Allah’s Apostle is seriously sick.’ The Prophet said, “Let me alone, as the state in which I am now, is better than what you are calling me for.” The Prophet on his death-bed, gave three orders saying, “Expel the pagans from the Arabian Peninsula, respect and give gifts to the foreign delegates as you have seen me dealing with them.” I forgot the third (order)” (Ya’qub bin Muhammad said, “I asked Al-Mughira bin ‘Abdur-Rahman about the Arabian Peninsula and he said, ‘It comprises Mecca, Medina, Al-Yama-ma and Yemen.” Ya’qub added, “And Al-Arj, the beginning of Tihama.”) – Sahih Al Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 288
“Yahya related to me from Malik from Ismail ibn Abi Hakim that he heard Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz say, “One of the last things that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said was, ‘May Allah fight the jews and the christians. They took the graves of their Prophets as places of prostration . Two deens (religions) shall not co-exist in the land of the Arabs.’ ” – Malik’s Muwatta, Book 45, Number 45.5.17
Yahya related to me from Malik from Ibn Shihab that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Two deens (religions) shall not co-exist in the Arabian Peninsula.”
Malik said that Ibn Shihab said, ”Umar ibn al-Khattab searched for information about that until he was absolutely convinced that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, had said, ‘Two deens (religions) shall not co-exist in the Arabian Peninsula,’ and he therefore expelled the jews from Khaybar.” – Malik’s Muwatta, Book 45, Number 45.5.18
Narrated Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-‘As: The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: people of two different religions would not inherit from one another. – Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 18, Number 2905
It has been narrated by ‘Umar b. al-Khattib that he heard the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) say: I will expel the Jews and Christians from the Arabian Peninsula and will not leave any but Muslim. – Sahih Muslim, Book 019, Number 4366