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n. (context historical English) A protected and specially taxed non-Muslim subject of a state governed in accordance with sharia, under dhimma, a form of social contract.


A ( , , collectively / "the people of the dhimma") is a historical term referring to non- Muslim citizens of an Islamic state. The word literally means "protected person." According to scholars, dhimmis had their rights fully protected in their communities, but as citizens in the Islamic state, had certain restrictions, and it was obligatory for them to pay the jizya tax, which complemented the zakat, or alms, paid by the Muslim subjects. Dhimmis were excluded from specific duties assigned to Muslims, and did not enjoy certain political rights reserved for Muslims, but were otherwise equal under the laws of property, contract, and obligation.

Under sharia, the dhimmi communities were usually subjected to their own special laws, rather than some of the laws which were applicable only to the Muslim community. For example, the Jewish community in Medina was allowed to have its own Halakhic courts, and the Ottoman millet system allowed its various dhimmi communities to rule themselves under separate legal courts. These courts did not cover cases that involved religious groups outside of their own community, or capital offences. Dhimmi communities were also allowed to engage in certain practices that were usually forbidden for the Muslim community, such as the consumption of alcohol and pork.

Historically, dhimmi status was originally applied to Jews, Christians, and Sabians. This status later also came to be applied to Zoroastrians, Mandaeans, Hindus, and Buddhists. Eventually, the Hanafi school, the largest school of Islamic jurisprudence, and the Maliki school, the second largest school of Islamic jurisprudence, applied this term to all non-Muslims living in Islamic lands outside the sacred area surrounding Mecca, in present-day Saudi Arabia. Some modern Hanafi scholars, however, do not make any legal distinction between a non-Muslim dhimmi and a Muslim citizen.

Moderate Muslims generally reject the dhimma system as inappropriate for the age of nation-states and democracies. There is a range of opinions among 20th century and contemporary theologians about whether the notion of dhimma is appropriate for modern times, and, if so, what form it should take in an Islamic state.

Usage examples of "dhimmi".

With these devious American dhimmi, every transaction had to be greased with baksheesh.

The dhimmi music was simple and foursquare, without the intricate vocal arabesques of a decent maqam song.

He was not a dhimmi himself, but somewhere in his ancestryand not too far back, at thatthere were mawali forebears.

Triton could easily handle the thirty million or so dhimmi we envision.

The dhimmi population in the Triple Suns is relatively smallnot many made the jump between star systemsand they tended to settle on the less desirable low-gravity moons, so there'll be less of an energy investment in boosting them into space.

He wanted to put his arm around her, but even after living for five years among the dhimmi, he had not yet unbent enough to be demonstrative in public.

Until this caravan of worlds picked up a larger and more congenial terrestrial-style planet, Triton would remain the jewel in the crown of the dhimmi confederation.

Hamid-Jones's father-in-law was grayer after the years of shepherding the dhimmi communities of four star systems to their new promised land, arranging transport and acting as Aziz's gadfly in getting a fleet of their own built in the Sultan's shipyards, but he was still a powerfully built, vigorous man who looked as if he would go on forever.

He was not as low on the social scale as the ubiquitous dhimmi, or unbelieverswho nevertheless enjoyed perfect tolerance as long as they paid the jizza, or head tax, of the unconvertedbut he would never achieve the status of a true Arab of tribal descent, an 'arab al' ariba.

I myself was nothing more than a penniless dhimmi when I emigrated from Israel and went to settle in Saudi Arabia.