Non-Believers Under Muslim Law

By Kelly O’Connell/CFP

Discussed in this essay are the laws and status of those persons in Islamic lands who are not Muslims. This group is mainly composed of Jews and Christians, called dhimmis. What is important about this topic is it communicates better than any other method the true historic beliefs of Muslims towards Westerners. Therefore, it indicates how a good Muslim should view a non-believer, especially if they ever achieve control of a formerly non-Islamic state, like America.

A dhimmi being presented by a letter of demand by his Muslim rulers…

The problem in Muslim lands for dhimmis (protected non-Muslims) is summed up by Patrick Sookhdeo, in Freedom To Believe, where he explains that most Muslim countries have dual justice systems with Western civil courts, and also Muslim Shari’ah (Islamic Law) courts. Most of these countries have signed various world human rights agreements. So how do these Islamic states get away with categorizing Muslim and non-Muslim with different status in the Muslim courts? By subverting these agreements under the Shari’ah, according to Sookhdeo.

Every Islamic country has different application of Shari’ah law. Further, modernity has made great inroads against regimes attempting to use primitive Muslim law. But enough Shari’ah remains in various countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, to cause concern. Also, bear in mind America’s worst Muslim enemies call for pure Shari’ah. But the main lesson to take from this study is how Muslims see unbelievers and how they choose to treat them when no one is looking. This alone should help us better understand people like the Ground Zero Mosque Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, and his secret aspirations.

I. World View of Islam

Islam is a survivor of the crucible of war. Muhammad’s society was quite warlike, and this ethos is fixed within the Islamic religion and societal norms. Thus we have the doctrine of jihad, which has been historically tied to battling the unbelieving world (jihad is best translated as “battle,” revealing the word can both mean “holy war” and “to struggle against” without any contradiction).

Also, strong is the Bedouin tribal ethos in the Arab mind to this day, according to Raphael Patai, in The Arab Mind. And the Islamic worldview is steeped in religion in a way Westerners cannot fathom, but the religion itself is bent on subjugation of each individual in the society, not mere conversion. This is why the very term Islam means submission.

A. House of War v. House of God
Muslims believe that the world is composed of two entities—Non-believers in the House of War; and Muslims in the House of Allah. One website writes:

Islamic theology divides the world into two spheres locked in perpetual conflict: The House of Islam and the House of War. The House of Islam (dar al-Islam) embraces territory where Islamic law (Sharia) is the law of the land, while the House of War (dar al- Harb) comprises the rest of the world. The House of Islam is enjoined by Allah to make war upon the House of War until the latter is permanently assimilated into the former.

B. Jihad: War as Mission
Jihad means to struggle or battle. While many Muslims and Western liberals insist the term is used primarily in a non-violent sense, this is misleading. The world view of Islam is based upon an us-versus-them model. Islam is doctrinally in a state of perpetual war against non-Muslims, even when a truce has been signed. This constant state of war-readiness of Islam is a key to understand their view of the world. Daniel Pipes explains:

Jihad is “holy war.” Or, more precisely: It means the legal, compulsory, communal effort to expand the territories ruled by Muslims at the expense of territories ruled by non-Muslims.

The purpose of jihad, in other words, is not directly to spread the Islamic faith but to extend sovereign Muslim power (faith, of course, often follows the flag). Jihad is thus unabashedly offensive in nature, with the eventual goal of achieving Muslim dominion over the entire globe.

Jihad in the sense of territorial expansion has always been a central aspect of Muslim life. That’s how Muslims came to rule much of the Arabian Peninsula by the time of the Prophet Muhammad’s death in 632. It’s how, a century later, Muslims had conquered a region from Afghanistan to Spain. Subsequently, jihad spurred and justified Muslim conquests of such territories as India, Sudan, Anatolia, and the Balkans.

C: Muslims in Foreign Climes
One of the great questions in the history of Islam is whether a Muslim living in non-Islamic lands must still follow all the dictates of the Shari’ah. Writes Michael Mumisa, in Islamic Law, Theory & Application,

While a non-Muslim under the protection of an Islamic government [dhimmi] is expected to obey all the laws of the Islamic state, is a Muslim under the protection of a non-Muslim state expected to obey all the laws of the host country most of which conflict with the Shari’ah law? These are questions whose answers are absent from classical or medieval Islamic literature or from a historical critical reading of the Qur’an and Sunnah.

Yet, another eminent Islamic legal scholar, Abdur Rahman I. Doi, says in Non-Muslims under Shariah (Islamic law), that since the Shari’ah is God’s perfect law for mankind representing his infallible will, it is imperative that all believers obey this at all times, regardless where they reside.

This then sums up a conundrum: Whether a Muslim believes he should follow the complete Shari’ah, there exists a problem for conscientious Muslims in foreign lands as to which law is preeminent. This problem was addressed for Christians by Jesus in Luke 20:25 when He taught, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and Render unto God what is God’s.” So, an upstanding Christian can be both a good citizen of an earthly state and also of God’s Kingdom.

D. Muslim States
Muslims have a different idea of what constitutes a “state,” as opposed to Western practice. Samuel Shahid, in The Myth of Islamic Tolerance cites how prominent Pakistani scholar Maududi explains this difference:

An Islamic state is ideological. People who reside in it are divided into Muslims, who believe in its ideology and non-Muslims who do not believe.
Responsibility for policy and administration of such a state “should rest primarily with those who believe in the Islamic ideology.” Non-Muslims, therefore, cannot be asked to undertake or be entrusted with the responsibility of policymaking.
An Islamic state is bound to distinguish (i.e. discriminates) between Muslims and non-Muslims. However the Islamic law “Shari`a” guarantees to non-Muslims “certain specifically stated rights beyond which they are not permitted to meddle in the affairs of the state because they do not subscribe to its ideology.” Once they embrace the Islamic faith, they “become equal participants in all matters concerning the state and the government.”
Categories of Acceptable Unbelievers

A. Dhimmi: Jew & Christian
A dhimmi is a member of the class of persons in an Islamic country not Muslim but who follow the Bible, being Jews and Christians (other can include Sabians and Zoroastrians). Dhimmis are given a kind of protection in an Islamic state which is neither complete in scope, nor equal in application, as the following will show.

Warrant for Dhimmi comes from the chapter the Cow in the Qur’an 2:62:

Surely, those who believe, those who are Jewish, the Christians, and the converts; anyone who (1) believes in GOD, and (2) believes in the Last Day, and (3) leads a righteous life, will receive their recompense from their Lord. They have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.

In accepting dhimmitude, the non-believers have to enter a pact called the Covenant of Umar, according to Bat Yeor in Dhimmi Peoples, Oppressed Nations. The Covenant dates from the 7th century, not long after Muhammad died, and outlines what dhimmis had to do then to stay in an Islamic state.

Jizyah: To have any status, whatsoever, a non-believer in a Muslim country must immediately enter into a treaty of war. This is essentially an agreement of a truce between the non-believer and the Islamic state. This only makes sense when considering that in Islam, there is a metaphorical House of War in which abide only enemy combatants, where non-Muslims reside. Then there is the House of Peace, or Allah, which is where all Muslims abide. Therefore, if a non-Muslim wants to reside in an Islamic state, he or she must officially renounce war through the Jizyah.

This is according to the Submission chapter in the Qur’an 9:29:

You shall fight back against those who do not believe in GOD, nor in the Last Day, nor do they prohibit what GOD and His messenger have prohibited, nor do they abide by the religion of truth – among those who received the scripture – until they pay the due tax, willingly or unwillingly.

Jizyah literally means “penalty,” according to Shahida. It is described as a “fixed poll tax” by Joseph Schacht in Introduction to Islamic Law. It is described as a 10% tax and meant to cover the costs of defending the dhimmi, etc. Yet the jizyah is also meant to humble the dhimmi. According to Ye’or, the Jizyah “…symbolizes the subjugation and humiliations of the vanquished.” Ye’or details another tax put, being the kharadj, a land tax placed on lands where indigenous dhimmis reside, meaning these are at a decided economic disadvantage to Muslims.

Legal Status: A position of Muslim Shari’ah law is that under it, all are equal. This proposition is highly misleading. Not everyone has access to these rules. For example, a Dhimmi is not the legal equal of a Muslim, but a “second-class citizen,” according to Patai. So a Dhimmi can only give testimony against another Dhimmi, but not against a Muslim. This embargo is much more damaging than it sounds because the only form of acceptable evidence allowed in Shari’ah courts is verbal testimony. It also acts to keep dhimmis from suing or taking Muslims to court.

Further, all laws are said to apply to dhimmis, but if a dhimmi were attacked and killed by a Muslim, the latter cannot be put to death, but only forced to pay a fine based on status, or “blood price.” Since Islamic law generally does not impose imprisonment, this leaves dhimmis in a highly precarious position as regards enemies and safety. Many more examples like this abound.

Religion: According to Islam, both Jews and Christians are characterized by disobedience and by refusing to accept the Last Prophet—Muhammad. This lack of religious integrity is damning and so these dhimmis cannot express their religious beliefs without poisoning the Muslim state.

A realistic view of Islam, in terms of civil and human rights, is within the Muslim state no person has these types of American constitutional rights. They are unimagined in the Qur’an. But if anyone had such rights, it certainly would not be dhimmis. Shahid explains the basic modern restrictions against dhimmis in an Islamic state, which takes much from the Covenant of Umar.

According to Muslim jurists, the following legal ordinances must be enforced on dhimmis (Christians and Jews alike) who reside among Muslims:

Dhimmis are not allowed to build new churches, temples, or synagogues. They are allowed to renovate old churches or houses of worship provided they do not allow to add any new construction. “Old churches” are those which existed prior to Islamic conquests and are included in a peace accord by Muslims. Construction of any church, temple, or synagogue in the Arab Peninsula (Saudi Arabia) is prohibited. It is the land of the Prophet and only Islam should prevail there. Yet, Muslims, if they wish, are permitted to demolish all non-Muslim houses of worship in any land they conquer.
Dhimmis are not allowed to pray or read their sacred books out loud at home or in churches, lest Muslims hear their prayers.
Dhimmis are not allowed to print their religious books or sell them in public places and markets. They are allowed to publish and sell them among their own people, in their churches and temples.
Dhimmis are not allowed to install the cross on their houses or churches since it is a symbol of infidelity.
Dhimmis are not permitted to broadcast or display their ceremonial religious rituals on radio or television or to use the media or to publish any picture of their religious ceremonies in newspaper and magazines.
Dhimmis are not allowed to congregate in the streets during their religious festivals; rather, each must quietly make his way to his church or temple.
Dhimmis are not allowed to join the army unless there is indispensable need for them in which case they are not allowed to assume leadership positions but are considered mercenaries.
Other Dhimmi Restrictions: According to Ye’or, dhimmis were historically forbidden from raising a hand against a Muslim in self-defense, even if the aggressor is trying to kill them; to criticize Islam, the Prophet, or angels; to convert to any religion other than Islam; to marry a Muslim woman or concubine; to hold authority over a Muslim; to enter certain restricted towns; or have articles of clothing that were similar to Muslim styles.

Dhimmis also had to live in a separate part of town where their gates closed in the evening; have shorter houses than Muslims; to practice their religion only in secret; to bury their dead quickly and in silence in a non-Muslim style tomb; to wear special clothes not only indicating their dhimmihood, but also which sub-group they belonged to.

Dhimmis must walk humbly with lowered eyes and accept insults without answering back; to keep a humble and respectful attitude when encountering a Muslim; to leave Muslims the best seats; and to make haste when walking through Muslim town. When encountering a Muslim, these must pass on the (impure) left, while the anointed were encouraged to press them against the wall to rub in their loathsome status.

Dhimmis were not allowed to ride horses or camels, since this would create unjustified social status. Unbelievers could use donkeys, but only outside of town. These were often left the most socially debased professions such as grave-digger or garbage collector. Muslims were encouraged to not have social intercourse with dhimmis, but if this was necessary, to do so with utmost brevity while expressing unbridled contempt in the same breath.

Jews, in particular, are not to raise their voices in front of Muslims, practice the same trade as a Muslim; claim that Shari’ah Muslim law could be defective; rise an animal astraddle; mention religion to Muslims; squint to try and imagine Muslims in the nude; sound their ram-horn bugle the shofar; or lend money with interest—by which, it is warned, they could end up destroying the world, writes Ye’or.


The enormous difference between ideas of equality and fairness that separate the Islamic world and the West are so colossal it defies easy explanation. In fact, we must study Islam in pieces to really understand the whole. This matters, because—before long—each big US city will undoubtedly have Muslims similar to Rauf seeking to influence policies and get involved in political life, and put the imprint of Muhammad upon all they touch.

Unless we understand the grave differences between the two world views, representing not just rules, but also principles and values, we will be at severe disadvantage in defending our ancestral freedoms against incursion of foreign belief. This matters because Islam has always been a missionary religion, propagated by force and invasion. If we don’t understand its virulence and fatalistic determination, and that there is no alternative peaceful view in traditional Islam, great and quick may be our fall.

7 thoughts on “Non-Believers Under Muslim Law”

  1. I recently read a comment on an article about the Islamic Ten-Year Hudna, which was news to me, & unsettling. A comment was made, by a reader, that Americans should make it a goal to learn about Muslim history & practices, etc. I thought, yes, I need to start reading up on this…

    Thank you for all this information, I’ve found a starting point.

  2. Good article on the Times Square Bomber…

    It’s About The Jihad, Stupid

    Monday, 11 October 2010 12:53
    Written by Daniel Greenfield

    [Worried about airplane hijackings? Elect us, and we’ll make the Muslim world love us with hearty doses of appeasement and long deep bows. Afraid of shootings at army bases, vote the right way and we’ll pull out all the troops so no more kindly Muslim psychiatrists come down with secondhand PTSD. Worried about car bombs, with more socialism no one will want to car bomb Times Square anymore.

    But then Faisal Shahzad ruined everything by opening his mouth. “This is but one life,” he said. “If I am given a thousand lives, I will sacrifice them all for the sake of Allah, fighting this cause, defending our lands, making the word of Allah supreme over any religion or system.”]

  3. Thanks Sheik – great article.

    non-moslems need to read the correct information about islam because I live in an area where there is a lot of disinformation being spread by moslems. And then their useful idiots think that is the correct information because ‘it was from a moslem’. It is hard to undo that disinformation because the message lulls the non-moslems back to sleep – back to their comfort zones.

  4. Accurate information and I couldn’t agree more…This article can be made as a useful,informative pamphlet!

  5. Well done Sheik, I have read all this before, but in scraps and tit bits. To read it all in one place makes so much more sense. With your permission I will be printing this and dishing it out to people who need to know. Especially my own friends in the EDL. Who often get confused and protest about things that are irrelevant. The whole of islam that incorporates sharia law must be banned from western civilisation. To me this is not about muslims, it is about islam and the security of our country that we wish to leave for our children, and not as dhimmis!!

  6. Hello,

    Read through this information regarding Muslim’s view of non believers and their right to make war against them.


  7. – What is Jihad?

    Jihad means struggling in the name of Allah Almighty. Jihad doesn’t always mean a war or battle. Any mean for spreading Islam and the Truth, or to fight for what is right and condemn what is wrong (such as fighting the bad and helping the oppressed even if they were not Muslims) are considered Jihad.

    I am doing Jihad right now by maintaining my web site, because it is a tool that can be used for spreading Islam and the Truth. And because it is also a Media tool, it could be used for fighting for what is right and condemning what is wrong.

    Islam is not a religion of arms and swords! When Allah Almighty revealed the Noble Quran to Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, and Muhammad became the Messenger of GOD Almighty, Muhammad had to spread Islam to 365 Pagan Arab Tribes. These tribes showed so much hostility toward the Muslims and Islam, and have imposed so many battles against the Muslims.

    Later, when Islam was the religion of what we call today Saudi Arabia, and the 365 Pagan Arab tribes mostly converted to Islam, the Muslims had to yet face another type of challenge.

    The Nuclear Soviet Union and the United States of America of our days were the Great Empires of the Christian Romans and the Pagan Persians. If you know geography and history well enough, then you would see that the Muslims were trapped between those two big Super Powers.

    Hostility and Battles from those two Empires were imposed upon the Muslims. For instance, when our Prophet peace be upon him sent his messenger to “Kisrah”, the Emperor of Persia, introducing Islam to him, Kisrah ordered for the Muslims’ Messenger to be executed!

    Back then, like today, this was considered a coward act. It was the Persians who showed the hostility toward the Muslims and declared the many battles against Islam.

    The Christian Romans weren’t any better. For instance, in one of their many battles against the Muslims is when they saw the threat to their religion in the Middle East, the King “Herucl”, sent out an army of 100,000 men and ordered them to go to “Madina” in what we call today Saudi Arabia to destroy Islam once and for all.

    The Muslims were not stable yet at that time, and they only sent out an army of 3,000 men at that time to drive the Christian Romans away from Madina. The battle was named “The battle of Mo’ta” and it took place in Mo’ta, Jordan today.

    The Muslims’ plan was to meet the Christian Romans far away from Madina, and to have them stray away from Madina. The army of 3,000 men was successful enough to fight the Christian Romans for few days and then to pull away from the battle and headed South of Jordan. The Romans strayed away from Madina and the small army of the Muslims was able to run away through the mountains. More than half of the 3,000 Muslims however were killed in this operation.

    The point is that Islam didn’t spread by sword with much choice. The wars were imposed upon the Muslims. The Muslims didn’t ask for those wars.

    Islam is a Religion of Love and Peace and Forgiveness [1] [2] [3] [4] [5].

    Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him never took any personal revenge from anyone.

    What does the Qu’ran say about violence? Why does the Noble Quran contain Verses that command the Muslims to fight? See the justified and good reasons behind it.

    In regards to Jihad and fighting the hostile enemy, Allah Almighty Made it crystal clear in the Noble Quran about being peaceful to ordinary and peaceful non-Muslims, and being very hostile to the hostile enemy:

    “Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for God loveth not transgressors. (The Noble Quran, 2:190)”

    “On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our apostles with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land. (The Noble Quran, 5:32)”

    “Those who invoke not, with God, any other god, nor slay such life as God has made sacred except for just cause, nor commit fornication; – and any that does this (not only) meets punishment. (But) the Penalty on the Day Of Judgement will be doubled To him, and he will dwell Therein in ignominy. (The Noble Quran, 25:68-69)”

    “But if the enemy incline towards peace, do thou (also) incline towards peace, and trust in God: for He is One that heareth and knoweth (all things). (The Noble Quran, 8:61)”

    “If thou dost stretch thy hand against me, to slay me, it is not for me to stretch my hand against thee to slay thee: for I do fear God, the cherisher of the worlds. (The Noble Quran, 5:28)”

    “But if the enemy incline towards peace, do thou (also) incline towards peace, and trust in God: for He is One that heareth and knoweth (all things). (The Noble Quran, 8:61)”

    “If thou dost stretch thy hand against me, to slay me, it is not for me to stretch my hand against thee to slay thee: for I do fear God, the cherisher of the worlds. (The Noble Quran, 5:28)”

    “God does not forbid you from showing kindness and dealing justly with those who have not fought you about religion and have not driven you out of your homes. God loves just dealers. (The Noble Quran, 60:8)”

    “And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for God. But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against wrongdoers. (The Noble Quran 2:193)”

    “Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy handhold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things. (The Noble Quran, 2:256)”

    “Again and again will those who disbelieve, wish that they had bowed (to God’s will) in Islam. Leave them alone, to enjoy (the good things of this life) and to please themselves: let (false) hope amuse them: soon will knowledge (undeceive them). (The Noble Quran, 15:2-3)”

    “Say, ‘The truth is from your Lord’: Let him who will believe, and let him who will, reject (it):……(The Noble Quran, 18:29)”

    “If it had been thy Lord’s will, they would all have believed,- all who are on earth! wilt thou then COMPEL mankind, against their will, to believe! (The Noble Quran, 10:99)”

    “Say: ‘Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger: but if ye turn away, he is only responsible for the duty placed on him and ye for that placed on you. If ye obey him, ye shall be on right guidance. The Messenger’s duty is only to preach the clear (Message). (The Noble Quran, 24:54)”

    “Say : O ye that reject Faith! I worship not that which ye worship, Nor will ye worship that which I worship. And I will not worship that which ye have been wont to worship, Nor will ye worship that which I worship. To you be your Way, and to me mine. (The Noble Quran, 109:1-6)”

    The reason for “Jihad” Noble Verses:

    The so-called “Jihad” Noble Verses came for specific times and places. They don’t apply for all times and everybody! I can’t slay you, a non-Muslim, just because you’re not a Muslim. The pagan Arabs were very hostile people and only knew the sword as an answer. Many wars were imposed upon the Muslims, and thus, it is only normal and natural to find Noble Verses that deal with these specific hostile situations. But the Message of the Noble Quran is PEACE, as clearly proven in Noble Verses 2:190, 8:61 and 5:28 above.

    2- The laws of war in Islam:

    Muslims are forbidden from attacking others who do not attack them:

    “Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for God loveth not transgressors. (The Noble Quran, 2:190)”

    Fighting in the cause of GOD Almighty those who fight us is what “Jihad” is all about. I can’t go and kill a non-Muslim just because he is a non-Muslim. That is absolutely forbidden in Islam:

    “On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our apostles with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land. (Noble Quran 5:32)”

    “Those who invoke not, with God, any other god, nor slay such life as God has made sacred except for just cause, nor commit fornication; – and any that does this (not only) meets punishment. (But) the Penalty on the Day Of Judgement will be doubled To him, and he will dwell Therein in ignominy. (The Noble Quran, 25:68-69)”

    Jihad can only be declared when the Muslims are attacked. Muslims are not allowed to attach those who do not attack them. And even when war breaks out, if the enemy offers an honest peace, then we should accept it and end the blood shed:

    “But if the enemy incline towards peace, do thou (also) incline towards peace, and trust in God: for He is One that heareth and knoweth (all things). (The Noble Quran, 8:61)”

    And if a treaty of peace was made, then we must honor that treaty to the end:

    “Except those who join a group between whom and you there is a treaty (of peace), or those who approach you with hearts restraining them from fighting you as well as fighting their own people. If God had pleased, He could have given them power over you, and they would have fought you: Therefore if they withdraw from you but fight you not, and (instead) send you (Guarantees of) peace, then God Hath opened no way for you (to war against them). (The Noble Quran, 4:90)”

    “How can there be a league, before God and His Apostle, with the Pagans, except those with whom ye made a treaty near the sacred Mosque? As long as these stand true to you, stand ye true to them: for God doth love the righteous. (The Noble Quran, 9:7)”

    3- The treatment of prisoners of war in Islam:

    Please visit Can Muslims torture prisoners of war?

    4- Did Islam spread by the sword? If so, was that Jihad?

    Please visit Why did Muhammad take up arms and Christ didn’t? Why did Islam spread by the sword if it were indeed a Religion of Truth, and Christianity didn’t? Jesus killed his enemies.

    The Muslims did not start any battle with anyone. It was the infidels from the 365 Arab Pagan tribes, and later the Persian and Roman Empires who waged wars against the Muslims. So, yes, since the Muslims were not the aggressors, then this was Jihad; “Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for God loveth not transgressors. (The Noble Quran, 2:190)”

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