dimmi

Article

August 19, 2022

Dimmi (Arabic: ذِمِّي ḏimmī[*]; collective noun: أهْل الذِمَّة ahl al-ḏimmah[*] Dimmi) is a term used to refer to non-Muslim peoples in countries governed by Islamic law. The term dimmi relates to the duty of the state to guarantee the life, property, and religious freedom of individual citizens, and is based on loyalty to the state. Therefore, in society as a whole, dimmi were superior to serfs and slaves in terms of status, but they exercised a lower level of rights than Muslims. A tax called jizya was imposed on the dimmi, and in return, the dimmi were guaranteed religious freedom, personal safety, and autonomy. Originally, only Jews and Christians, referred to in the Qur'an as 'people of the book', could enjoy the status of dimmi, but later Sikhs, Zoroastrians and Hindus were also included. Buddhists are one such people. People who fall under the dimmi have a relatively lower legal and social status than Muslims, but enjoy more rights than other pagans. It is estimated that from the 7th century to modern times, millions of people who traveled across the Atlantic coast to India belonged to the dimmi. It was very easy for a Dhimi to convert to Islam, and if there were no special problems, they could be freed from bondage. In the Islamic world, unilateral conversion or killing was rare, but from the 12th century when the Crusades began, the al-Andalus and Muwahid dynasties imposed 'Islam or slavery'.

Meaning

The word dhimmi originally means "to protect, care, protect." It is a concept that comprehensively includes economic obligations, property rights, the right to enjoy a safe life, and inviolability. The word ahl-dhimmi is a "free pagan nation", which refers to people who enjoy relative protection and security in return from paying taxes, including head taxes.

Treatment

To a certain extent, "preserving individual religious practices" was permitted, and separate autonomous districts could be established to enjoy property rights and safety rights. People of the dimmi status under the rule of an Islamic dynasty were subject to "continuous taxation" under Islamic law. From the point of view of the Muslim rulers, it was stipulated that a tax must be paid because Dimmi's allegiance was proved materially. However, due to several restrictions, Dimmi could not stand as a witness in a trial involving Muslims and was prohibited from possessing weapons. These restrictions were more likely to be applied to real life than symbolic, and most of them were ultimately to erase traces of paganism. Although violent or extreme countermeasures were not common, some restrictions on status for the Dhimi were like a bridle that made them irresistible to the power of an Islamic ruler. He wrote that it was, in many ways, much less than what non-Christians suffered. Violence, such as deportation or conversion, for example, was rare, and there were no restrictions on where to live or work. However, what was important was that the Muslim forces monopolized trade and economic power by taking control of the military and agriculture. In general, Muslims' attitude toward dimmi was not expressed in ethnic or racist language and was close to sympathy or compassion.