The Decline of Eastern Christian Communities in the Modern Middle East - November 11, 1996 by Bat Ye'or

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According to the Shafi'i jurist al-Mawardi (d. 1058): 

"The refusal of tributaries to pay the poll tax constitutes a violation of the treaty that was conceded to them. "

According to the 8th century jurist Abu Yusuf:

"(...) their lives and possessions are spared only on account of the poll tax. "

At a time of great changes when foreign laws and customs imported from the West were contradicting the shari'a, questions were raised about the source of the law's legitimacy. Today, this question is still a burning issue for islamists: the choice between the Law of Allah - the shari'a - and the principle of secular, man-made, laws. Of course, for Muslim judges the shari'a law always prevails over any other law and therefore the system of dhimmitude was perfect and had to be maintained. Here, we should take a closer look at the principle of "rights" in general. From whom does a person's "rights" emanate? The rules of jihad state that the infidel who does not submit has no rights at all. The rights of Jews and Christians are only granted, and protected, if they have submitted to Islamic law.

According to an-Nawawi, a 13th century jurist: "One is not responsible for having mortally wounded an infidel who is not subjected to a Muslim authority, or of an apostate, even when either one of them recants of his errors before dying. "

In other words, it is the Islamic ruler who guarantees, and is the source of legitimacy regarding the rights of Jews and Christians. This is clearly in contradiction with Western conceptions of Human Rights, which declare that everyone is born free and equal in dignity and in rights. In this respect, too, article 31 of the Hamas Charter stresses the Islamic source of "rights" for Jews and Christians. President Sadat also confirmed this Muslim point in Washington in 1980. Shocked by the wide publicity given by American Copts to the persecutions of Copts in Egypt, he declared: "Islam is the best guaranty of security for the Copts in Egypt". Thus, it is Islam which is the source of rights - not the person's inherent rights.

Equality of rights for all would challenge the Islamic order that stressed the superiority of Muslims over infidels. Should a non-Muslim give orders to a Muslim? A 1993 fatwa, published in Saudi Arabia, dealt precisely with this problem. In a recent booklet, The Road to Victory, published by members of the London-based Hizb ut-Tahrir, one reads: "In its doctrine, Islam forbids the submission to unbelievers and to their rule." The question remains open: Should "ideas" be borrowed from Infidels? Should Muslims become friends with the People of the Book?