3b. Rights of non-Muslims in Islam


A dhimmi or Zimmi is a name given to non-Muslim citizens living in an Islamic state. Dhimmi is an Arabic word meaning “protected”. Dhimmi status was originally applied to Christians and Jews also called the “People of the Scripture”. This status later came to be applied to Zoroastrians, Mandaeans, Hindus and Buddhists. However, they are disagreements among Jurispudence schools on whether any contract should be signed with groups outside the People of the Scripture. According to orthodox Islamic law, those who are qualified for the second-class Dhimmi status within the Muslim society are the free (i.e non-slave) Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians, who agree to pay the jizyah. Adherents of other religions, as well as those without religion, are asked to convert to Islam; if they refuse, they are to be forced to convert.


Dhimmis are required by the Qur’an (9:29) to pay “Jizyah or Jizya” which is a form of protection tax to the Islamic state in exchange for protection and safety of their lives and property. Jizyah is derived from ‘Jaza’ which means ‘recompense’ or ‘compensation’.

Islamic Scholar Mawdudi states that “the acceptance of the Jizyah establishes the sanctity of their lives and property, and thereafter neither the Islamic state, nor the Muslim public have any right to violate their property, honour or liberty.” Scholar Imam Malik reports that the jizya was collected from non-Muslim men only. Deliberate failure to pay the jizya could result in the pledge of protection of a dhimmi’s life and property becoming void, with the dhimmi facing the alternatives of conversion, enslavement, death or imprisonment. There are conditions which may exempt non-Muslims from paying the Jizyah tax, which could be summarized as follows: Women and children, handicapped, chronically and mentally ill, blind and old men, poor and beggars, day labourers, slaves, a non-Muslim man participating in military service and if the Islamic state is unable to protect the non-Muslims.

Q9:29 “Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah (Protection tax) with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”

According to Qur’an (9:29), Jizyah is a symbol of humiliation for the non-muslims and a punishment to them.

Sahih Bukhari – Book 53, Hadith 386
Narrated Jubair bin Haiya: `Umar sent the Muslims to the great countries to fight the pagans. ..Our Prophet, the Messenger of our Lord, has ordered us to fight you till you worship Allah Alone or give Jizya (i.e. tribute); and our Prophet has informed us that our Lord says: – “Whoever amongst us is killed (i.e. martyred), shall go to Paradise to lead such a luxurious life as he has never seen, and whoever amongst us remain alive, shall become your master…”

Sahih Bukhari – Volume 4, Book 53, Hadith 388
Narrated Juwairiya bin Qudama At-Tamimi: We said to ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab, Jo Chief of the believers! Advise us.” He said, “I advise you to fulfill Allah’s Convention (made with the Dhimmis) as it is the convention of your Prophet and the source of the livelihood of your dependents (i.e. the taxes from the Dhimmis.)”

Bulugh al-Maram – Book 11, Hadith 1348
Mu’adh bin Jabal (RAA) narrated, ‘The Messenger of Allah sent me to Yemen and he commanded me to take the Jizyah from everyone who has reached the age of puberty-one Dinar- or its equivalent in Ma’afiri (garments of Yemeni origin).’ Related by the three Imams. Ibn Hibban and Al-Hakim graded it as Sahih.

Muwatta Malik – Book 17, Hadith 46
Yahya related to me from Malik that he had heard that Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz wrote to his governors telling them to relieve any people who payed the jizya from paying the jizya if they became Muslims.
Malik said, “The sunna is that there is no jizya due from women or children of people of the Book, and that jizya is only taken from men who have reached puberty. The people of dhimma and the magians do not have to pay any zakat on their palms or their vines or their crops or their livestock. This is because zakat is imposed on the Muslims to purify them and to be given back to their poor, whereas jizya is imposed on the people of the Book to humble them. As long as they are in the country they have agreed to live in, they do not have to pay anything on their property except the jizya. If, however, they trade in Muslim countries, coming and going in them, a tenth is taken from what they invest in such trade.

Ibn Ishaq 956 & 962
“He who withholds the Jizya is an enemy of Allah and His apostle.” The words of Muhammad.

Rights of Dhimmis

According to this verse below, a non-Muslim can not have any superiority over any Muslim in any walks of life.
Quran 4:141 “…God will not let the infidels (kafir) have an upper hand over the believers.”

According to Muslim jurists, the following legal ordinances must be enforced on Dhimmis (Christians and Jews alike) who reside among Muslims:

1) Dhimmis are not allowed to build new churches, temples, or synagogues. They are allowed to renovate old churches or houses of worship provided they do not allow to add any new construction. “Old churches” are those which existed prior to Islamic conquests and are included in a peace accord by Muslims. Construction of any church, temple, or synagogue in the Arab Peninsula (Saudi Arabia) is prohibited. It is the land of the Prophet and only Islam should prevail there. Yet, Muslims are permitted to demolish all non-Muslim houses of worship in any land they conquer.
2) Dhimmis are not allowed to pray or read their sacred books out loud at home or in churches, lest Muslims hear their prayers.
3) Dhimmis are not allowed to print their religious books or sell them in public places and markets. They are allowed to publish and sell them among their own people, in their churches and temples.
4) Dhimmis are not allowed to install the cross on their houses or churches since it is a symbol of infidelity.
5) Dhimmis are not permitted to broadcast or display their ceremonial religious rituals on radio or television or to use the media or to publish any picture of their religious ceremonies in newspaper and magazines.
6) Dhimmis are not allowed to congregate in the streets during their religious festivals; rather, each must quietly make his way to his church or temple.
7) Dhimmis are not allowed to join the army unless there is indispensable need for them in which case they are not allowed to assume leadership positions but are considered mercenaries.

8) Dhimmis and Muslims are subject to the same civic laws. They are to be treated alike in matters of honour, theft, adultery, murder, and damaging property. Dhimmis and Muslims alike are subject to Islamic laws in matters of civic business, financial transactions such as sales, leases, firms, farms, securities, mortgages, and contracts.
9) A Muslim male can marry a Dhimmi girl, but a Dhimmi man is not allowed to marry a Muslim girl. If a woman embraces Islam and wants to get married, her non-Muslim father does not have the authority to give her away to her bridegroom. She must be given away by a Muslim guardian. If one parent is a Muslim, children must be raised as Muslims. If the father is a Dhimmi and his wife converts to Islam, she must get a divorce; then she will have the right of custody of her child.
10) The Hanifites believe that both Dhimmis and Muslims must suffer the same Penalty for similar crimes. If a Muslim kills a Dhimmi intentionally, he must be killed in return. The same applies to a Christian who kills a Muslim. The Shafi`ites declare that a Muslim who assassinates a Dhimmi must not be killed, but a blood money must be paid.
11) Dhimmis cannot testify against Muslims. They can only testify against other Dhimmis or Musta’min. Their oaths are not considered valid in an Islamic court. According to the Shari`a, a Dhimmi is not even qualified to be under oath. Muraghi states bluntly, “The testimony of a Dhimmi is not accepted because Allah – may He be exalted – said: Q4:141 `God will not let the infidels (kafir) have an upper hand over the believers’.” if one Muslim has committed a serious offense against another, witnessed by Dhimmis only, the court will have difficulty deciding the case since the testimonies of Dhimmis are not acceptable.
12) On personal matters of marriages, divorces, and inheritance, Dhimmis are allowed to appeal to their own religious courts. Dhimmis are free to practice their own social and religious rites at home and in church without interference from the state, even in such matters as drinking wine, rearing pigs, and eating pork, as long as they do not sell them to Muslims. Dhimmis are generally denied the right to appeal to an Islamic court in family matters, marriage, divorce, and inheritance.
13) Anyone who does not embrace Islamic ideology cannot be the head of state or a member of the council. Under these circumstances, the sphere of influence of non-Muslim minorities would be limited to matters relating to general problems of the country or to the interest of the minorities. Non-Muslims are not allowed to assume any position which might bestow on them any authority over any Muslim. (See Quran 4:141)
14) The political arena and the official public sectors are not the only area in which non-Muslims are not allowed to assume a position of authority. It is not permissible for an infidel to be in charge over Muslims whether in the private or public sector. It is not permissible for a Christian/Jew to be in charge of Muslims by the virtue of the general evidences which denote the superiority of the Muslim over others.

Why do Muslims in the West enjoy all freedoms allotted to all citizens of these lands, while Muslim countries do not allow native Christians the same freedom? Muslims in the West build mosques, schools, and educational centers and have access to the media without any restriction. They publicly advertise their activities and are allowed to distribute their Islamic materials freely, while native Christians of any Islamic country are not allowed to do so. Why are Christians in the West allowed to embrace any religion they wish without persecution while a person who chooses to convert to another religion in any Islamic country, is considered an apostate and must be killed if he persists in his apostasy? IN ISLAM THERE IS NO EQUALITY FOR NON-MUSLIMS. THEY ARE TREATED AS SECOND OR THIRD CLASS CITIZENS.

Sahih Bukhari – Volume 4, Book 53, Hadith 388
Narrated Juwairiya bin Qudama At-Tamimi: We said to ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab, Jo Chief of the believers! Advise us.” He said, “I advise you to fulfill Allah’s Convention (made with the Dhimmis) as it is the convention of your Prophet and the source of the livelihood of your dependents (i.e. the taxes from the Dhimmis.)”

Sahih Bukhari – Volume 4, Book 53, Hadith 391
Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr: The Prophet said, “Whoever killed a person having a treaty with the Muslims, shall not smell the smell of Paradise though its smell is perceived from a distance of forty years.”

Sunan Abu Dawud – Book 18, Hadith 2903
Narrated Usamah b. Zaid: The Prophet as saying: A Muslim may not inherit from an infidel nor an infidel from a Muslim.


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