Party Like It’s 629

That’s when the Muslim precedent for taxing non-Muslims as an alternative to killing them, enslaving them, or forcibly converting to Islam was set (depending on the scholars you follow).  The Treaty of Khaybar resulted in a treaty between Mohammed’s victorious forces and defeated Jews.  In return for giving half of their annual production to Mohammed, the Jews would be allowed to live under Muslim protection.

This practice became known as the dhimma contract.  While at first only an option for people of the Book like Christians and Jews, it was later extended to Sabians, Zoroastrians, and eventually came to encompass any non-Muslim.  It was a practice that remained in practice up until the early and mid 19th century, when the Ottoman Empire rescinded the dhimma contract to secure European military assistance.

But with a resurgence of violent Islam sweeping through Iraq, the dhimma has once again been raised as a requirement for Christians.  Particularly, Christians in Mosul have been warned that they either need to leave, convert to Islam, pay the dhimma, or die.  Understandably nervous about whether their potential rulers will honor this offer, Christians are pouring out of the ancient city.

It’s difficult to quantify how much the dhimma tax (or jizya) amounts to, and it likely varied based on the inclinations of local authorities.  Some sources assert that it was generally less than the zakat – the mandatory annual tithe required of Muslims.  But again, quantifiable sources are scarce.  This article claims that other recent jizya demands have equaled roughly $750

Christians are understandable for not trusting the Islamic Caliphate to honor even the dhimma contract.  Previously Christians had been told that they would not suffer any ill-effects from the new government’s control.  These same Christians are now being robbed as they flee the city, making them destitute as they seek refuge in neighboring towns.  It’s hard to travel when you have no money for bus fare.  

In case you might think that this isn’t a big deal, Mosul is one of the most ancient Christian cities and acknowledged as the birthplace of Assyrian Christianity.  There is a long history of peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims here.  But those times are evidently gone.




One Response to “Party Like It’s 629”

  1. How Do I Help? | Living Apologetics Says:

    […] are being dislocated.  They are being forced to convert to Islam, or pay an arbitrary tax (the dhimma) to remain Christians in a hostile, Islamic society (without any real guarantee of safety), leave, […]

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