in category Fiqh (Jurisprudence)

How did classical Muslim jurists understand those paying the jizya to be in a "state of submission"?

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Mahmoud M. Ayoub's chapter "The Islamic Context of Muslim-Christian Relations," in Conversion and Continuity: Indigenous Christian Communities in Islamic Lands, Eight to Eighteenth Centuries, refers to characterizing the payment of jizya as a mechanism of subordination. The theme of subordination exists throughout the Islamic legal tradition.  Other jurists wrote that the reference to submission refers to how payment of the jizya was a symbolic act of acknowledging the legitimacy and imperium of the Shari'a under which the non-Muslim lived.   The Qur'anic phrase was read, therefore, to ensure law, order and authority, but not humiliation. The Hanbali jurist Ibn Qudama argued the permanent contract of protection for dhimmis must meet two conditions: first, the payment of the jizya must be made on a regular basis; second and most significantly, the contract must provide for the application of the laws of Islam (iltizam ahkam al-islam), namely the dhimmis acceptance of any rulings against them in terms of the enforcement of various claims and their commitment to abstain from prohibited conduct.   An incident involving the Christian Arab tribe of the Banu Najran offers a historical example that supports the law-and-order reading of the jizya verse. These Christians came to visit Muhammed in order to establish a political relationship with him and his newfound polity. Although the Muslims and the Christians differed in their understanding of the nature of Christ, they agreed to disagree. On political matters, though, the Christians agreed to recognize the legitimacy of Muhammed's political authority and to pay taxes to him.   This historical example offered jurists a reconciliation of the claims of universal truth, sovereign authority and effective governance amidst diversity using the legal model of treaty/tax.  A third position, held by jurists such as Fakhr al-Din al-Razi was that the jizya requirement and other rules imposed on dhimmis were intended to provide an incentive for the non-Muslims to convert. The purpose behind such provisions was not to humiliate or subjugate, but to incentivize conversion to Islam. Humiliation or subordination may be unavoidable, but they were not the principal aim or purpose of the rules; rather, they were instrumental to the central objective of conversion to Islam.

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