Sunday, June 29, 2008

'Tax Paid in Lieu of Being Slain'

The official Newspaper of Record has taken notice of an integral Islamic principle in its treatment of non-Muslim minorities and conquered peoples--the charging of the jizya, the poll-tax on non-Muslims, a tax “paid in lieu of being slain.”

The Times was reporting on the fate of the murdered Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho in Mosul, slain after he stopped paying “protection money” to "a man who had threatened to kill him and his entire congregation." (“For Iraqi Christians, Money Bought Survival”):

As priests do everywhere, Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, the leader of the Chaldean Catholics in this ancient city, gathered alms at Sunday Mass. But for years the money, a crumpled pile of multicolored Iraqi dinars, went into an envelope and then into the hand of a man who had threatened to kill him and his entire congregation.

“What else could he do?” asked Ghazi Rahho, a cousin of the archbishop. “He tried to protect the Christian people.”

But American military officials now say that as security began to improve around Iraq last year, Archbishop Rahho, 65, stopped paying the protection money, one sliver of the frightening larger shadow of violence and persecution that has forced hundreds of thousands of Christians from Iraq. That decision, the officials say, may be why he was kidnapped in February.

Two weeks later, his body was found in a shallow grave outside Mosul, the biblical city of Nineveh.

The Times’s explanation of the jizya is misleading, suggesting jizya was being misused “Mafia-style” by insurgents to fund their activities. But there is this unusual moment of clarity in the article's account of jizya's history:

For more than 1,000 years, northern Iraq has been shared by people who for the most part believe and worship differently: Turkmen, Kurds, Yazidis, Sunni and Shiite Arabs, and Assyrian Christians — of whom the Chaldeans are the largest denomination. (The Chaldean Church, an Eastern Rite church, is part of the Roman Catholic Church, but maintains its own customs and liturgy.)

Since the time of the Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam, Muslims in the Middle East permitted that diversity in part through a special tax on Jews and Christians. The tax was called a jizya — and that is the name with which the insurgents chose to cloak extortion, Mafia-style, from Christians.

Officials say the demands could be hundreds of dollars a month per male member of a household. In many cases, Christian families drained their life savings and went into debt to make the payments. Insurgents also raised money by kidnapping priests. The ransoms, often paid by the congregations, typically ran as high as $150,000, several priests and lay Christians said.

Andrew G. Bostom at American Thinker picks up the thread the New York Times is too bashful to follow. Rather than being merely an ancient "tax payable to permit diversity," Bostom explains that jizya, in its very etymolology, was always meant to be extortionate and punitive, indeed, a Koran-imposed "tax paid in lieu of being slain." Far from the recent case being a Mafia-style misuse of jizya as a "cloak" for extortion, from Mohammed's time the jizya was always intended to lay low its subjects:

Here is a classical formulation of the jizya -- the cornerstone of the repressive system of jihad-imposed dhimmitude -- from, coincidentally, a seminal Baghdadian jurist, al-Mawardi (d. 1058). In his monumental The Laws of Islamic Governance, al-Mawardi examined the regulations pertaining to the lands and infidel populations subjugated by jihad. This is the origin of the system of dhimmitude. The native infidel "dhimmi" (which derives from both the word for "pact", and also "guilt" -- guilty of religious errors) population had to recognize Islamic ownership of their land, submit to Islamic law, and accept payment of the Koranic poll tax (jizya)-the tax paid in lieu of being slain-based on Koran 9:29. Al- Mawardi notes that:

"The enemy makes a payment in return for peace and reconciliation... Reconciliation and security last as long as the pavment is made. If the payment ceases, then the jihad resumes."

The "contract of the jizya", or "dhimma" encompassed other obligatory and recommended obligations for the conquered non-Muslim "dhimmi" peoples. Collectively, these "obligations" formed the discriminatory system of dhimmitude imposed upon non-Muslims -- Jews, Christians, [as well as Zoroastrians, Hindus, and Buddhists]-subjugated by jihad.

Some of the more salient features of dhimmitude include: the prohibition of arms for the vanquished dhimmis, and of church bells; restrictions concerning the building and restoration of churches, synagogues, and temples; inequality between Muslims and non-Muslims with regard to taxes and penal law; the refusal of dhimmi testimony by Muslim courts; a requirement that Jews, Christians, and other non-Muslims, including Zoroastrians and Hindus, wear special clothes; and the overall humiliation and abasement of non-Muslims

It is important to note that these regulations and attitudes were institutionalized as permanent features of the sacred Islamic law, or Shari' a. The writings of the much lionized Sufi theologian and jurist al-Ghazali (d. 1111) highlight how the institution of dhimmitude was simply a normative, and prominent feature of the Shari'a:

...the dhimmi is obliged not to mention Allah or His Apostle.. .Jews, Christians, and Majians must pay the jizya [poll tax on non-Muslims]...on offering up the jizya, the dhimmi must hang his head while the official takes hold of his beard and hits [the dhimmi] on the protruberant bone beneath his ear [i.e., the mandible]... They are not permitted to ostentatiously display their wine or church bells...their houses may not be higher than the Muslim's, no matter how low that is. The dhimmi may not ride an elegant horse or mule; he may ride a donkey only if the saddle-work is of wood. He may not walk on the good part of the road. They [the dhimmis] have to wear [an identifying] patch [on their clothing], even women, and even in the [public] baths...[dhimmis] must hold their tongue.

The practical consequences of such a discriminatory system were summarized in A.S. Tritton's 1930 The Caliphs and their Non-Muslim Subjects, a pioneering treatise on the status of the dhimmis:

...[C]aliphs destroyed churches to obtain materials for their buildings, and the mob was always ready to pillage churches and monasteries...dhimmis...always lived on sufferance, exposed to the caprices of the ruler and the passions of the later times..[t]hey were much more liable to suffer from the violence of the crowd, and the popular fanaticism was accompanied by an increasing strictness among the educated. The spiritual isolation of Islam was accomplished. The world was divided into two classes, Muslims and others, and only Islam counted...Indeed the general feeling was that the leavings of the Muslims were good enough for the dhimmis.

S.D. Goitein, in essays published three to four decades later (i.e., 1963, and 1970), highlighted the economic and other adverse social consequences of both the jizya itself, and the attendant regulations of the system of dhimmitude:

..consideration [of] the immense extent of poverty and privation experienced by the masses, and in particular, their persistent lack of cash, which turned the 'season of the tax' into one of horror, dread, and misery. An Islamic state was part of or coincided with dar al-Islam, the House of Islam. Its treasury was mal al-muslumin, the money of the Muslims. Christians and Jews were not citizens of the state, not even second class citizens. They were outsiders under the protection of the Muslim state, a status characterized by the term dhimma, for which protection they had to pay a poll tax specific to them. They were also exposed to a great number of discriminatory and humiliating laws...As it lies in the very nature of such restrictions, soon additional humiliations were added, and before the second century of Islam was out, a complete body of legislation in this matter was in existence...In times and places in which they became too oppressive they lead to the dwindling or even complete extinction of the minorities.

Ignoring the expected New York Times bowdlerization of the actual doctrine and history of this brutally imposed blood ransom [note to New York Times: the Mafia analogy is completely consistent with doctrinal and historical reality, and not some sort of modern aberration], the non-editorial information provided illustrates clearly, in real time, the horrors of the system of jihad imposed-dhimmitude as applied across the length and breadth of Islamic societies, since the advent of Islam.

(“Jizya, Jihad, and the Murder of Archbishop Rahho”)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice to know you are brushing up on your history. Sadly, you fail to recognize that jews and Christians enjoyed a great deal of autonomy as dhimmini, for jews this was especially true in contrast to their European contemporaries. As moderns we may think of this sort of tax as a quite conservative, but the tax was quite progressive for its time. The muslims were quite smart in that once they conquered an area, they used this tax as a way to peacefully increase their revenues without having to waste their resources. As conquerors what sounds better? killing all non-believers, and thus destroying the economy, or taxing them, granting them their own autonomy, and keep the economy of your growing empire running smoothly?