In the name of Allah , Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Guest Name Dr. Jamal Badawi,
Famous Da’iyah and Member of the European Council for Fatwa and Research
Subject Citizenship & Dhimmah: Understanding the Concepts
Shadi - Egypt
Question : In fact, I, as a Muslim, see that the term “dhimmi” enjoys more privileges in the Muslim state than the term “citzen” in the secular states.
Then, why we Muslim feel ashamed to explain the privileges of "dhimmis " which far exceeds the privileges of “citizen”. Why Christian feel sensitive to such term that is based on considering their rights and protecting their interests.
In more than one hadith, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) asked Muslims to be kind, just, and fair to dhimmis, to the extent that he pointed out that a Muslim** who harms a dhimmi is harming the Prophet himself**, and Allah Almighty and the Prophet will be angry at any Muslim who infringes upon the rights of a dhimmi.
In short, I think we, Muslims, have to be proud of our Islamic literature and terms that are very accurate and significant, and not to hurry to please the Westerners by saying that “dhimmis” is no more there after the creation of the term “citizenship”.
Thanks, wa as-salam
I fully agree with you. The confusion arises because of the lack of understanding of both the meaning and concept of dhimmah. First, dhimmi comes from dhimmah which literally means covenant.
As such the term dhimi means a covenanted person. The word covenant here means that he or she has the covenant of Allah, His messenger and the Muslim community that their legitimate right shall be safeguarded. It is a more profound and protective concept than citizenship.
Minority citizen rights could be marginalized even in free democratic society based on one vote whereas dhimmah means that their rights as stipulated in the primary sources of Islam, the Qur’an and authentic Sunnah, cannot be revoked or diminished even by the majority of society.
Dhimmah does not mean or imply, as some may allege, that the dhimis are second-class citizens; it is actually greater respect for their identity and religious sentiments. For example, Muslims are required to pay Zakah, which helps finance needs such as services, defence and social security.
All citizens, Muslims and dhimis, have equal access to such services without discrimination. If the Shari`ah required dhimmis to pay Zakah exactly like their fellow Muslim citizens, it may be insensitive to their religious identity. The reason is that Zakah is not merely a tax, even though it serves the purposes of taxes. Zakah is an Islamic concept and is one of the five pillars of Islam. To ask a dhimmi to pay Zakah implies requiring him to tacitly believe in one of the pillars of Islam that he does not believe in.
On the other hand, if he shares the cost of above services under a different and more neutral title, it is even more respectful and the term jizya that is used for dhimmis’ share literally comes from jaza’ which means something in return for something, i.e. services, defense and social security in return for financial contribution.