Dhimmis or non-Muslims (especially Christians and Jews) living in Islamic controlled lands were forced to submit to Islam or pay the jizya – a protection tax. It was considered by Muslims as a punishment to degrade non-Muslims. Eleventh century documents show the authorities used harsh methods in collecting the tax and often the tax was extended to those who were supposed to be exempt such as children and the elderly. Those who could not pay the tax were sometimes forced to give their wives and children to the Islamists as slaves.
Eventually the jizya was eliminated although the Ottoman Empire did not abolish the tax until 1855. It was reported, however, that members of the Sikh community in Pakistan were forced to pay the jizya to the Taliban in 2009. Today Christian refugees from Syria have reported Islamist rebel forces once again are forcing non-Muslims to pay the jizya.
On June 25, 2013, Nina Shea, the director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa. As part of her testimony, she shared Syrian refugee, Jamil’s experience:
One Friday trucks appeared in the village with heavily armed and bearded strangers who did not know anyone in the village. They began to drive through the village with a loud speaker broadcasting the message that their village was now part of an Islamic emirate and Muslim women were henceforth to dress in accordance with the provisions of the Islamic Shariah. Christians were given four choices. They could convert to Islam and renounce their ‘idolatry.’ If they refused they were allowed to remain on condition that they pay the jizya. This is a special tax that non-Muslims under Islamic law must pay for ‘protection.’ For Christians who refused there remained two choices: they could leave behind all their property or they would be slain. The word that was used for the latter in Arabic (dhabaha) refers to the ritual slaughter of sacrificial animals.
Shea further related that Jamil and other families began to pay the jizya, but decided to flee after the amount they demanded kept increasing each month. Some who were unable to pay or escape were forced to convert to Islam. His account was independently corroborated by an Orthodox cleric who said if the Christians did not pay the jizya, they were killed.
Paying the jizya in the West is much more subtle. In March of 2013, during a roundtable discussion on the U.S. broadcast on Al Hafiz TV in Egypt, an Islamic cleric encouraged Muslim leaders to treat the United States as a dhimmi by making the U.S. conform to Egyptian demands and then accept foreign aid. He proclaimed a fatwa (an Islamic religious decree) that Egypt must “impose on America to pay aid as jizya, before we allow it to realize its own interests, the ones which we agree to.”
Other Muslims consider “welfare” from western nations as jizya. Anjem Choudary, a radical Islamic cleric from the Britain was secretly taped encouraging his followers to get a “Jihadseeker’s allowance” from the British government. He takes home more than £25,000 (around $38,000) each year in benefits. On the video, he explains to a group of his followers, “People will say, ‘Ah, but you are not working.’ But the normal situation is for you to take money from the kaffar (non-Muslim). So we take Jihadseeker’s Allowance. You need to get support.”
Without the outspokenness of a handful of Islamists few westerners would see how the policies of our governments are indeed twisted to appear that western governments are actually dhimmi states, financing the supremacy of Islam.
Far too often westerners mistakenly believe Islamic practices such as dhimmitude and jizya were part of Islam’s past. They fail to recognize that Islamic teachings and practices have not changed since the days of Muhammad. Pray that westerners will begin to have an understanding that Islam’s 7th century political and militaristic tendencies are a threat to democracies around the world.
Pray for the Christian and other non-Muslims populations in nations such as Syria where fundamental Islam is forcing them from their homes. Pray for the refugees and for those who were unable to escape the persecution – especially those who were forced to convert to Islam. Pray that they will realize that God does loves them and desires them to be a part of His Kingdom.
Pray for Muslims around the world to see the abuse, inequality, and destruction that Islam in its purest form brings to non-Muslims, especially Christians. Pray that they will question why Islam must insist by force – rather than by reason that Islam should be followed.