The status of dhimmi carries with it a number of opposing fantasies: some see it as proof of the great tolerance of Muslims towards non-Muslims, going as far as an idealization transposed to the equally fantasized period of Al Andalus; others see it as proof of a willingness of Muslims to gradually assimilate non-Muslims, pushing them to convert and out of this minority status. Obviously, it is much more complex.
The origins, from the Koran to Sunna
The dhimma is "an indefinitely renewed contract by which the Muslim community grants hospitality and protection to members of other revealed religions, if they respect the rule of Islam" (cf. Encyclopedia of Islam).
The Quran is the basis (with
The actions of the prophet are also decisive. After the Hegira, Muhammad tried to convert the Jews in Medina; the three tribes are defeated, two have the choice between conversion and exile, a third (the Banu Quraysa) between conversion and death. Then there is, and above all, the conquest in the year 7 of the Hegira (629) of the oasis of Khaybar, with the first case of submission of a Jewish tribe to Islam: the Jews will be "protected. "(dhimmis) by Muslims, but must pay them half of their harvest. This is undoubtedly the first case of "tribute" (reference to IX, 29) and therefore also one of the sources of dhimma. For Christians, relations are fewer and less conflictual, they are thus seen better than the Jews, as shown in Sura V, 82: “You will find that the men most hostile to believers are the Jews and the polytheists. You will find that the men closest to believers by friendship are those who say: "Yes, we are Christians" [...] ". Mahomet, for example, made agreements with the Christians of Nadjran. However, it should be noted that subsequently, the distinction between the two will no longer apply with regard to the dhimma, and that even the view that Muslims will have of Jews and Christians will tend to be reversed, because of the clashes between Islam and the Christian West.
As we can see, the point of view of the Koran and
The legal development of dhimma
There are other sources that have helped shape the status of dhimmi ; we must cite the "Umar Pact" to begin with. Tradition makes it the origin of the dhimma, based on an event that allegedly affected the second caliph, Umar (634-644), and Christians in Syria. They would have sent him a letter in which they gave the conditions of their submission! This document is undoubtedly apocryphal, because it is difficult to see the vanquished imposing their conditions ... Moreover, the trace of this pact did not appear until the 11th century. No doubt more truthful are the provisions with regard to dhimmis taken by the Umayyad Umar II (717-720): this one would have introduced the differences at the level of dress, or the prohibition to mount a horse, to carry weapons,… Measures which subsequently took on the value of law. We can also cite the mysterious Edit of the Prophet to Christians, which undoubtedly refers to the agreements with the Christians of Nadjran.
However, the different versions and applications allow us to define the terms of the dhimma. We must first insist on the symbolism: as we have seen above, one of the suras that inspired the contract (IX, 29) insists on the humiliating character of the dhimma and the payment of tribute. According to the exegete Mahmud ibn ‘Umar al-Zamakhshari (1075-1144)," the recovery of djizya must be accompanied by contempt and humiliation. [The dhimmi] will come in person, on foot and not on horseback. To pay, he will stand, while the collector will remain seated. The tax collector will grab him by the collar and shake him, saying: " djizya ! "; and when he pays, he'll pat him on the back of the neck. "Other sources demand that the dhimmi presents himself with his back bent, whether the collector treats him with disdain and contempt, or whether the dhimmi is below that of the collector at the time of the exchange.
However, this interpretation is not unanimous, especially among legal scholars. They are above all interested in the payment of the djizya ; thus, Abu ‘Ubayd (770-838) in his Treatise on Taxes (Kitab al-Amwal) states that we should "not impose dhimmis beyond their capabilities, nor inflict suffering on them. Likewise Abu Yusuf (731-808), qadi of Harûn al-Rashîd (786-809) in his Kitab al-Kharaj : "No national of dhimma will not be beaten in order to demand payment of the djizya ; he will not be made to wait in the hot sun, he will not be inflicted with heinous corporal punishment or other similar abuse. On the contrary, it should be treated with leniency. "On the other hand, a dhimmi who will not have paid the djizya will of course be severely punished, and will have to pay it. This same Abu Yusuf insists on the prohibition of treating dhimmi like booty, but for more pragmatic than humanistic reasons: “From then on [when they paid the tribute], you no longer have any title or rights over them. Think about it! If we take them and distribute them, what will be left of the Muslims who come after us? "The head tax is, as we can see, essential. Of Koranic origin (IX, 29), the djizya is a poll tax that is added to kharadj (property tax).
According to the Jewish source of
What are the other main legal provisions? A Muslim can marry a dhimmie, but one dhimmi cannot marry a Muslim; a dhimmi cannot own a Muslim slave, but a Muslim can own a slave dhimmi. Regarding justice, the dhimmi can be judged by his own (internal law) unless a Muslim is concerned; he can also request arbitration from a Muslim judge, but that will of course be
Finally, as we have already mentioned, certain differences in dress and behavior were imposed. Being more related to the context than to a legal basis, we will see this in the next section.
The dhimma, which therefore takes its origin in the Koran,
Read more: The Dhimmis in medieval Islam