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by Dr. Daniel Scot

Sura ‘Al-Fatihiah’ (The Opening) 1:1-7

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, The Beneficent, the Merciful. Master of the Day of Judgment, You (alone) we worship; You (alone) we ask for help.  Show us the straight path, The path of those whom You have favoured; Not the (path) of those who earn Your anger nor of those who go astray.

Jesus said: “...and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)


NOTE: Authoritative Islamic texts are the Qur’an and Hadith.   Muslims believe that the Qur’an is the revealed word of Allah (verse  numbers differ slightly in different versions). Sura always stands for a chapter in the Qur’an.  Islamic belief is that Muhammad is the perfect example to be followed by all Muslims. Whatever he said, practiced or approved is called Hadith. There are six different sets of authentic ahadith (Hadiths): Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, Tirmizi, Sunnan Ibn Majah and Sunnan Nasa’i.  This pamphlet is intended to show the teachings and examples of Muhammad, and is not intended to be offensive to Muslims; many Muslims may have little real knowledge of what their god, Allah, and their prophet has said on this topic.  

      You may have wondered what Dhimmitude it is all about!  There are many people both in the West and in Islamic countries who are unaware of the Islamic teaching about the dhimmi. Dhimmi is an Arabic word and it means “protected one”.  The dhimma provides and details the legal, social and economic status of free non-Muslims in the Islamic state. 

In Islam the world is divided into two “houses”.  Dar al-Islam (the house of submission) encompasses all countries that are under Islamic rule.  Dar al-Harb (the house of war) includes all other countries who are not yet in submission to Allah’s law (Shari’ah). In Reliance of the Traveller (w43.2 and 43.5, p. 944, 946-7) dar al-Harb is defined as ‘enemy lands.’  Despite modern trends to interpret these two houses as being situational (i.e., if a Muslim is able to freely practice his religion, then he is in dar al-Islam, even though the government is not Islamic), the traditional interpretation is that it depends on whether the government implements Shari’ah or not.

Dar al-Hudna (house of calm) refers to countries or areas under truce, bought by the non-Muslims (primarily Jews and Christians) at a price.  If the harbis (inhabitants of dar al-Harb) refuse to pay tribute, hostilities resume until they become dhimmi, dead or Muslim!  Traditionally, Islam has viewed the willingness to agree to Hudna as a weakness to be exploited.

When a country moves from dar al-Harb to dar al-Islam, the non-Muslims who surrender (and refuse to convert) become dhimmi under a ‘pact of protection,’ (dhimma). Being “protected” may give the impression that Islam has treated Christians and Jews well  by virtue of their being ‘People of the Book’.  However, the “pact of protection” imposes severe restrictions on what a dhimmi can do, wear, say, go  or work, etc.  In fact, the word dhimma implies that there is a debt by the dhimmi to the Muslim conquerors.

Al-Mawardi, an 11th century Islamic jurist and theologian, said that the head-tax [Jizyah] on dhimmis was either a sign of contempt, because of their unbelief, or a sign of the mildness of Muslims, who granted the dhimmis peace (instead of killing or enslaving them), so that humble gratitude was the expected response.

Sura 9:29 provides the basis of the dhimma - Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allâh, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allâh and His Messenger (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islâm) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

Some Muslims will argue, from the context of the previous verses, that it was only for a specific group of people.  However, traditional interpretation has shown that Muslim scholars and authorities have applied it consistently to other groups such as magicians - not just Christians: Bukhari, Vol. 4, Hadith No. 384; Malik, Book 17, Number 17.24.42 and others; Muslim, Book 42, Hadith No. 7065; Abu Dawud, Book 13. Hadith No 2955).  Muhammad was commanded by Allah to fight until they converted or died, or submitted to being a dhimmi (Sura 9:29 etc; Muslim, Book 19, Hadith No. 4294; Bukhari, Vol. 4, Hadith No. 386 etc).

The conditions are simple: they must pay the Jizyah willingly, and feel themselves subdued (i.e., know that they have fewer rights than Muslims) and feel humbled; Ibn Kathir adds disgraced, humiliated and belittled.   Jizyah is a tribute or tax that is paid to maintain their freedom to practice their religion and have trade (Abu Dawud, Book 19, Hadith No. 3000).  Muslims will often tell you that it was just a nominal small fee; Muhammad, however, charged 50% of their income (Bukhari, Vol. 3, Hadith No. 881 etc; Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad, p. 515; in Spain, the minimum was 20%, but mostly went as high as 80% (Dozy, Spanish Islam, p. 234).

The Pact of Umar

The Pact of Umar (the second Caliph) was created so that Muslims could retain control of the newly captured lands, whilst the majority of the population were yet non-Muslims.  Below is just a sample of the dhimma from Ibn Kathir’s account of  the Pact of Umar.


   · Cannot build or restore monasteries, churches, or sanctuaries;

   · Are not allowed to teach their children the Qur'an, publicize practices of Shirk (disbelief in Allah), invite anyone to Shirk (invite to become a Christian by sharing the Gospel) or prevent any of their fellows from embracing Islam, if they chose to do so [Emphasis added];

   · They must respect Muslims by moving from the places they were sitting in if they chose to sit in them;

   · Must not imitate their clothing, caps, turbans, sandals, hairstyles, speech, nicknames and title names, or ride on saddles, hang swords on the shoulders, collect weapons of any kind or carry these weapons;

   · Cannot erect crosses on the outside of churches and books, in public, in Muslim fairways and markets;

   · They must cut the front of their hair, wear their customary clothes wherever they are, wear belts around their waists.

If any of these were broken, Muslims are/were allowed to do with them what they do to people of defiance and rebellion, i.e. fight, kill and enslave them.


Allah revealed to Muhammad, (Sura 47:4) ‘So, when you meet (in Jihâd in Allâh's Cause), those who disbelieve smite at their necks till you have killed and wounded many of them, then bind a bond firmly (on them, i.e. take them as captives). Thereafter (is the time) either for generosity (i.e. free them without ransom), or ransom (according to what benefits Islâm), until the war lays down its burden. Thus [you are ordered by Allâh to continue in carrying out Jihâd against the disbelievers till they embrace Islâm (i.e. are saved from the punishment in the Hell-fire) or at least come under your protection], but if it had been Allâh's Will, He Himself could certainly have punished them (without you). But (He lets you fight), in order to test you, some with others. But those who are killed in the Way of Allâh, He will never let their deeds be lost.’ (Brackets and explanations in the original).

In the face of the ongoing threat of tyranny, many people simply converted to Islam to avoid the jizyah and the harsh conditions imposed.  This practice of dhimmitude was not only practiced in Muhammad’s time but continued right up to the 19th century.  The jizyah tax was finally removed from Christians in Egypt in 1855 .

Babur (1483-1530), the founder of the Mughal Empire, who is trumpeted as an example of Muslim tolerance, recorded the following in his autobiographical “Baburnama,” about infidel prisoners of a jihad campaign:  "Those who were brought in alive [having surrendered] were ordered beheaded, after which a tower of skulls was erected in the camp." [The Baburnama -Memoirs of Babur, Prince and Emperor, translated and edited by Wheeler M. Thacktson, Oxford University Press,1996, p. 188. Emphasis added.]

Is Dhimmitude Found in the Bible?

In fact, we find there is no counterpart in the Christian or Jewish Scriptures to this teaching in Islam.  To the contrary, Jews were commanded to  love the foreigner; for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt (Deuteronomy 10:19). Christians are supposed to consider others better than themselves (Philippians 2:3).  And they feel no compulsion to fight as Muslims do because Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36).  Christians aim to follow the teaching of Jesus, who told them to love (their) enemies and do good to those who persecute (them )(Matthew 5:44).  Christians and Jews may not always have lived up to this ideal but, unlike the teaching of Islam, they have no justification for discriminatory behaviour.  Interestingly, it is reported by Ibn Jubayr that the crusading Franks treated their Muslim subjects akin to dhimmis—but these Muslim peasants were treated far better by the Franks than they had been by their own Muslim superiors!

You may have been told that the Injil (Gospels) has been corrupted, and therefore we recommend that you refer to our tract Authenticity of the  Bible.  We also recommend that you look at what the Qur’an teaches about Jesus in our tract Contrasting Jesus and Muhammad.

Muhammad offered the possibility of salvation by means of good works; Jesus died to offer sure salvation for you, by means of a gift of God;  it is not something you can earn.

Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and also said: “I am the Way, the Truth,

and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by Me.” (John 14:6).

Let us now give you an opportunity to find out more for yourself, as God has given you the means and the ability to search for the truth.  I am offering you a copy of the Holy Bible and “The Life of the Messiah” DVD absolutely FREE, just by contacting us at the address at the bottom of the page.

Now you have an opportunity to find out more for yourself,

as God has given you the means and the ability to search for the truth.  

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Mizan ul Haqq


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