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1. Orientations
a. Figures
2. Koran
3. Theology
4. Concept of divine
5. Sharia
6. Muhammad
7. Cult and Festivals
8. Mecca
9. Cultic personalities
10. Caliph
11. Structures
12. Popular religion
13. Others
14. Calendar

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Islam /
Arabic: dhimmi

Muslim juridical term for Christians and Jews, sometimes Zoroastrians, Mandeans or even Hindus, living in a society governed by Muslims rulers and law.
Dhimmis have limited autonomy, but full rights to practice their religion and are assured full protection by the rulers. Earlier there was a specific tax, jizya, that Dhimmis had to pay to receive these benefits. Dhimmis who did not pay this tax, either had to convert to Islam or face the death penalty. This tax, higher than the tax Muslims had to pay, was on several occasions one of the most important sources of income for the rulers, and, therefore, they were often little inclined to encourage conversion to Islam, as this would represent a decrease in their income.
It was an early endeavour of the Sharia to add details to the regulations of the jizya. These involved that the Christians could keep all of their churches and convents, but were neither allowed to erect new structures nor restore ruined buildings. The Dhimmis had to give lodging to Muslims for up to 3 days and they had to show Muslims their respect. They could not perform religious rituals in public and no crosses could be used in Muslim quarters. They could not ride on horseback with saddles, nor could they carry weapons or sell alcoholic beverages to Muslims.
Non-Muslims were not allowed to build houses taller than their neighbours' houses. In public they had to carry visible tokens of the religion to which they belonged. If there was a case at the court, Muslim statements were considered of more value than the ones from non-Muslims. But there were no limitations to the professions in which non-Muslims could engage.
Later there were more regulations imposed, as in 853, when Caliph al-Mutawakkil forbade Dhimmis to ride on horses; they had to limit themselves to donkeys and mules. In 14th century Egypt, Jews had to wear a a yellow turban, Christians a blue one.
But in practice, there were fewer distinctions between the people of the different religions: people lived side by side. Non-Muslims could hold the highest positions in society and this during times when Jews in Europe had few or no social rights.
Another word for Dhimmis, is ahl al-kitab, "people of the book", but this is more a theological term, than a juridical one.

By Tore Kjeilen