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From its beginnings in the seventh century, Islam was spread by means of its practitioners' violent conquest of non-Muslim lands. For more than a millennium (from 638 to 1683), these conquests expanded Islam's empire over vast territories in Africa, Europe, and Asia. During that period, the conquered "infidels" (non-Muslims) -- who each possessed their own unique religion, culture, and language -- constituted a significant majority of the population of the newly Islamized lands. 
As early as the eighth century, a formal set of rules was created to govern the relationships between the conquering Muslims and the defeated infidels. The framework of these regulations is known as "dhimmitude," a term connoting the lowly legal and social status of Jews and Christians who are subjected to Islamic rule. Dhimmi was the name applied by the Arab-Muslim conquerors to the indigenous non-Muslim populations that surrendered by a treaty (dhimma) to Muslim domination. 
A non-Muslim community that is forced to accept dhimmitude is condemned to live in a system that will protect it from violent jihad on only one condition: if it is completely subservient to a Muslim master. In return for that subservience, the community is granted limited rights, although dhimmis could be capriciously subjected to such depredations as mass slavery, abductions, and deportations.

According to Dr. Mitchell G. Bard, director of the Jewish Virtual Library:

“Dhimmis were excluded from public office and armed service, and were forbidden to bear arms. They were not allowed to ride horses or camels, to build synagogues or churches taller than mosques, to construct houses higher than those of Muslims, or to drink wine in public. They were not allowed to pray or mourn in loud voices as that might offend the Muslims. The dhimmi had to show public deference toward Muslims, always yielding them the center of the road. The dhimmi was not allowed to give evidence in court against a Muslim, and his oath was unacceptable in an Islamic court. To defend himself the dhimmi would have to purchase Muslim witnesses at great expense. This left the dhimmi with little legal recourse when harmed by a Muslim. Dhimmis were also forced to wear distinctive clothing. In the ninth century, for example, Baghdad's Caliph al-Mutawakkil designated a yellow badge for Jews, setting a precedent that would be followed centuries later.”

Dhimmitude was abolished from the Islamic world during the 19th and 20th centuries under European military pressure, or by direct European colonization. But it has recently made a resurgence -- along with jihad itself -- as a consequence of the Islamic wars in Sudan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Algeria, and Israel. Moreover, non-Muslim minorities suffer severe discrimination in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, and countries that apply or recognize the shari’a law. Ultimately, dhimmitude is an outgrowth of the fact that Muslims consider themselves to be in a perpetual state of war with their non-Muslim neighbors.

Adapted from "Dhimmitude for Dummies" (Victor Sharpe, September 26, 2006), and "Jihad and Dhimmitude: Victimless Islamist Institutions?" (Bat Ye'or and Andrew Bostom, December 3, 2002).



Dhimmitude Past and Present: An Invented or Real History?
By Bat Ye'or
October 10, 2002

Dhimmitude for Dummies
By Victor Sharpe
September 26, 2006

Understanding the Islam in Islamic Antisemitism
By Andrew G. Bostom
November 17, 2008
Jihad and Islamic Antisemitism
By Andrew G. Bostom
May 22, 2008
Antisemitism in Islam's Foundational Texts
By Andrew G. Bostom
November 18, 2008

Jihad and Dhimmitude: Victimless Islamist Institutions?
By Bat Ye'or and Andrew Bostom
December 3, 2002

Muhammad Morsi’s Islamic Jew-Hatred, Bernard Lewis’ Islamic Negationism
By Andrew Bostom
February 3, 2013

Dhimmitude in History
By Dhimmitude.org

Jihad in Europe: Past as Prologue?
By Andrew G. Bostom 
February 20, 2006

Dhimmitude and Disarmament
By David Kopel
December 2007

Islam 101
By Gregory M. Davis
Eastern Christians Torn Asunder Challenges — New and Old
By Bat Yeor
September 18, 2003


Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide
By Bat Ye’or, et al




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