This surprisingly honest account from the New York Times shows the jizya — the tax on the People of the Book (primarily Jews and Christians) by Qur’an 9:29 — for what it is: protection money. Pay up, or get killed. In a hadith, Muhammad says:
Fight in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah. Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. […] When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them. […] If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah’s help and fight them…. (Sahih Muslim 4294)
In other words, bid them to convert to Islam, pay the tax and submit, or die.
This mandate comes from Qur’an 9:29. Ibn Juzayy says that this verse is “a command to fight the People of the Book” and, in a reference to v. 30, “denying their belief in Allah because of the words of the Jews, “˜Uzayr [Ezra] is the son of Allah” and the words of the Christians, “˜The Messiah is the son of Allah.– Muslims must also fight them because “they do not enter Islam.” He says that “scholars agree about accepting jizya [a religious-based poll tax] from the Jews and Christians,” and that it signifies “submission and obedience.”
According to the pioneering historian of dhimmitude, Bat Ye”or:
The poll tax was extorted by torture. The tax inspectors demanded gifts for themselves; widows and orphans were pillaged and despoiled. In theory, women, paupers, the sick, and the infirm were exempt from the poll tax; nevertheless, Armenian, Syriac, and Jewish sources provide abundant proof that the jizya was exacted from children, widows, orphans, and even the dead. A considerable number of extant documents, preserved over the centuries, testify to the persistence and endurance of these measures. In Aleppo in 1683, French Consul Chevalier Laurent d”Arvieux noted that ten-year-old Christian children paid the jizya. Here again, one finds the disparity and contradiction between the ideal in the theory and the reality of the facts. (The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam, pp. 78-9).
As-Sawi specifies that the payment of the jizya signifies that the non-Muslims are “humble and obedient to the judgements of Islam.” As-Suyuti notes that the jizya is “not taken from someone in a state of hardship,” although that was a stipulation at times honored in the breach. For example, a contemporary account of the Muslims” conquest of Nikiou, an Egyptian town, in the 640″s, says that “it is impossible to describe the lamentable position of the inhabitants of this town, who came to the point of offering their children in exchange for the enormous sums that they had to pay each month”¦”
This was a manifestation of the “state of abasement” specified by this verse and spelled out by the Bedouin commander al-Mughira bin Sa”d when he met the Persian Rustam. Said al-Mughira: “I call you to Islam or else you must pay the jizya while you are in a state of abasement.”
Rustam replied, “I know what jizya means, but what does “˜a state of abasement” mean?”
Al-Mughira explained: “You pay it while you are standing and I am sitting and the whip hanging is over your head.”
Similarly, Ibn Kathir says that the dhimmis must be “disgraced, humiliated and belittled. Therefore, Muslims are not allowed to honor the people of Dhimmah or elevate them above Muslims, for they are miserable, disgraced and humiliated.” The seventh-century jurist Sa”id ibn al-Musayyab stated: “I prefer that the people of the dhimma become tired by paying the jizya since He says, “˜until they pay the jizya with their own hands in a state of complete abasement.– As-Suyuti elaborates that this verse “is used as a proof by those who say that it is taken in a humiliating way, and so the taker sits and the dhimmi stands with his head bowed and his back bent. The jizya is placed in the balance and the taker seizes his beard and hits his chin.” He adds, however, that “this is rejected according to an-Nawawi who said, “˜This manner is invalid.– Zamakhshari, however, agreed that the jizya should be collected “with belittlement and humiliation.”
Asad, Daryabadi and other Western-oriented commentators maintain that the jizya was merely a tax for exemption for military service. Asad explains: “every able-bodied Muslim is obliged to take up arms in jihad (i.e., in a just war in God’s cause) whenever the freedom of his faith or the political safety of his community is imperiled”¦Since this is, primarily, a religious obligation, non-Muslim citizens, who do not subscribe to the ideology of Islam, cannot in fairness be expected to assume a similar burden.” But they pass in silence over the latter part of v. 29, which mandates the humiliation of non-Muslims.
In explaining how the Jews and Christians must “feel themselves subdued,” Ibn Kathir quotes a saying of Muhammad: “Do not initiate the Salam [greeting of peace] to the Jews and Christians, and if you meet any of them in a road, force them to its narrowest alley.” He then goes on to outline the notorious Pact of Umar, an agreement made, according to Islamic tradition, between the caliph Umar, who ruled the Muslims from 634 to 644, and a Christian community.
This Pact is worth close examination, because it became the foundation for Islamic law regarding the treatment of the dhimmis. With remarkably little variation, throughout Islamic history whenever Islamic law was strictly enforced, this is generally how non-Muslims were treated. Working from the full text as Ibn Kathir has it, these are the conditions the Christians accept in return for “safety for ourselves, children, property and followers of our religion” — conditions that, according to Ibn Kathir, “ensured their continued humiliation, degradation and disgrace.” The Christians will not:
1. Build “a monastery, church, or a sanctuary for a monk”;
2. “Restore any place of worship that needs restoration”;
3. Use such places “for the purpose of enmity against Muslims”;
4. “Allow a spy against Muslims into our churches and homes or hide deceit [or betrayal] against Muslims”;
5. Imitate the Muslims” “clothing, caps, turbans, sandals, hairstyles, speech, nicknames and title names”;
6. “Ride on saddles, hang swords on the shoulders, collect weapons of any kind or carry these weapons”;
7. “Encrypt our stamps in Arabic”
8. “Sell liquor” — Christians in Iraq in the last few years ran afoul of Muslims reasserting this rule;
9. “Teach our children the Qur’an”;
10. “Publicize practices of Shirk” — that is, associating partners with Allah, such as regarding Jesus as Son of God. In other words, Christian and other non-Muslim religious practice will be private, if not downright furtive;
11. Build “crosses on the outside of our churches and demonstrating them and our books in public in Muslim fairways and markets” — again, Christian worship must not be public, where Muslims can see it and become annoyed;
12. “Sound the bells in our churches, except discreetly, or raise our voices while reciting our holy books inside our churches in the presence of Muslims, nor raise our voices [with prayer] at our funerals, or light torches in funeral processions in the fairways of Muslims, or their markets”;
13. “Bury our dead next to Muslim dead”;
14. “Buy servants who were captured by Muslims”;
15. “Invite anyone to Shirk” — that is, proselytize, although the Christians also agree not to:
16. “Prevent any of our fellows from embracing Islam, if they choose to do so.” Thus the Christians can be the objects of proselytizing, but must not engage in it themselves;
17. “Beat any Muslim.”
Meanwhile, the Christians will:
1. Allow Muslims to rest “in our churches whether they come by day or night”;
2. “Open the doors [of our houses of worship] for the wayfarer and passerby”;
3. Provide board and food for “those Muslims who come as guests” for three days;
4. “Respect Muslims, move from the places we sit in if they choose to sit in them” — shades of Jim Crow;
5. “Have the front of our hair cut, wear our customary clothes wherever we are, wear belts around our waist” — these are so that a Muslim recognizes a non-Muslim as such and doesn’t make the mistake of greeting him with As-salaamu aleikum, “Peace be upon you,” which is the Muslim greeting for a fellow Muslim;
6. “Be guides for Muslims and refrain from breaching their privacy in their homes.”
The Christians swore: “If we break any of these promises that we set for your benefit against ourselves, then our Dhimmah (promise of protection) is broken and you are allowed to do with us what you are allowed of people of defiance and rebellion.”
Of course, the Pact of Umar, if authentic at all, was a seventh-century document. But the imperative to subjugate non-Muslims as mandated by Qur’an 9:29 and elaborated by this Pact became and remained part of Islamic law. In the nineteenth century the Western powers began to pressure the last Islamic empire, the Ottoman Empire, to abolish the dhimma. In Baghdad in the early nineteenth century, Sheikh Syed Mahmud Allusi (1802-1853), author of the noted commentary on the Qur’an Ruhul Ma”ani, complains that the Muslims have grown so weak that the dhimmis pay the jizya through agents, rather than delivering it themselves on foot. In his Tafsir Anwar al-Bayan, the twentieth-century Indian Mufti Muhammad Aashiq Ilahi Bulandshahri laments that “in today”s times, the system of Atonement (Jizya) is not practised at all by the Muslims. It is indeed unfortunate that not only are the Muslim States afraid to impose Atonement (Jizya) on the disbelievers (kuffar) living in their countries, but they grant them more rights than they grant the Muslims and respect them more. They fail to understand that Allah desires that the Muslims show no respect to any disbeliever (kafir) and that they should not accord any special rights to them.”
The influential twentieth century jihadist theorist Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966) emphasizes that these rules should be revived, for “these verses are given as a general statement, and the order to fight the people of the earlier revelations until they pay the submission tax with a willing hand and are subdued is also of general import” (In the Shade of the Qur’an, Vol. VIII, p. 126).
Likewise the Pakistani jihadist writer and activist Syed Abul A”la Maududi (1903-1979) states that “the simple fact is that according to Islam, non-Muslims have been granted the freedom to stay outside the Islamic fold and to cling to their false, man-made, ways if they so wish.” That heads off any potential contradiction between his understanding of v. 29 and 2:256, “There is no compulsion in religion.” Maududi continues by declaring that the unbelievers “have, however, absolutely no right to seize the reins of power in any part of God’s earth nor to direct the collective affairs of human beings according to their own misconceived doctrines. For if they are given such an opportunity, corruption and mischief will ensue. In such a situation the believers would be under an obligation to do their utmost to dislodge them from political power and to make them live in subservience to the Islamic way of life” (Towards Understanding the Qur’an, vol. III, p. 202).
“For Iraqi Christians, Money Bought Survival,” by Andrew E. Kramer in the New York Times, June 26 (thanks to all who sent this in):
MOSUL, Iraq “” As priests do everywhere, Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, the leader of the Chaldean Catholics in this ancient city, gathered alms at Sunday Mass. But for years the money, a crumpled pile of multicolored Iraqi dinars, went into an envelope and then into the hand of a man who had threatened to kill him and his entire congregation.
“What else could he do?” asked Ghazi Rahho, a cousin of the archbishop. “He tried to protect the Christian people.”
But American military officials now say that as security began to improve around Iraq last year, Archbishop Rahho, 65, stopped paying the protection money, one sliver of the frightening larger shadow of violence and persecution that has forced hundreds of thousands of Christians from Iraq. That decision, the officials say, may be why he was kidnapped in February.
Two weeks later, his body was found in a shallow grave outside Mosul, the biblical city of Nineveh.
Archbishop Rahho was among the highest-profile Iraqi Christians to die in the war. He was mourned by President Bush and Pope Benedict XVI before his role as a conduit for protection money paid by the Chaldean Christians to insurgents became known outside Iraq.
These payments, American military officials and Iraqi Christians say, peaked from 2005 to 2007 and grew into a source of financing for the insurgency. They thus became a secret, shameful and extraordinary complication in the lives of Iraq’s Christians and their leaders “” one that Christians are only now talking about more openly, with violence much lower than in the first years of the war.
“People deny it, people say it’s too complex, and nobody in the international community does anything about it,” said Canon Andrew White, the Anglican vicar of Baghdad. Complicating the issue further, he said, some of the protection money came from funds donated by Christians abroad to help their fellow Christians in Iraq.
Yonadam Kanna, a Christian lawmaker in Iraq’s Parliament, said, “All Iraqi Christians paid.” […]
Since the time of the Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam, Muslims in the Middle East permitted that diversity in part through a special tax on Jews and Christians. The tax was called a jizya “” and that is the name with which the insurgents chose to cloak extortion, Mafia-style, from Christians.
Officials say the demands could be hundreds of dollars a month per male member of a household. In many cases, Christian families drained their life savings and went into debt to make the payments. Insurgents also raised money by kidnapping priests. The ransoms, often paid by the congregations, typically ran as high as $150,000, several priests and lay Christians said. […]
What was called the jizya was collected and paid by Jewish and Christian leaders to the insurgents operating on the west bank of the Tigris River. Archbishop Rahho, according to Mr. Kanna, the Christian lawmaker, made the payments on behalf of the Christians living in eastern neighborhoods of Mosul. He would have been an obvious choice: he had spent nearly his entire life in Mosul and was well known.
“He was the link,” Mr. Kanna said.
The archbishop’s cousin, Mr. Rahho, characterized the role as less central and emphasized the life-and-death nature of the choice to pay to save the lives of the parishioners. And the archbishop was certainly not the only person paying.
“We all paid,” said one Assyrian Orthodox Christian priest here who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution from insurgents. “We were afraid.”
By several accounts by Christians who paid, the money changed hands quietly, according to a simple mechanism.
A man who introduced himself as Abu Huraitha, and who sometimes said he represented Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, made the menacing phone calls, the Assyrian priest said.
“He said: “˜I need money, I need money. If you do not give us money, I will kill you,” ” the priest said. The bagman, however, was a fellow Christian, an elderly blue-eyed man who made the rounds of churches for the insurgents, the priest said. “If you do not give to him, they kill you.”
He said he paid 10 million Iraqi dinars, or about $8,000, over three years, until last winter, when the United States Army reinforced its garrison in Mosul with the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment. Military operations increased in the city. The American units built neighborhood forts and traffic control points that disrupted the insurgents” movements. The racket started to fall apart.
During the fighting last winter, the Assyrian priest said, word trickled out that the Americans had killed Abu Huraitha. Many church leaders used the death of this contact to halt payments. Among them, perhaps most prominently, was Archbishop Rahho. He gave a speech on television in January denouncing the payments and saying that they should no longer be made.
A month later, on Feb. 29, he was kidnapped by gunmen after praying at the Holy Spirit Cathedral. They shot and killed his driver and two guards and bundled him into the trunk of a car. In the darkness, he managed to reach his cellphone and call his church. He implored them not to pay a ransom that would finance violence, church officials said. […]