Dhimmi, Goyim, and alike
December 2, 2002 12:14 PM   Subscribe

Bat Yeor is a researcher of the life of dhimmi (non-Muslims) under Islam. How do other religions treat the 'infidels'? Judaism has the goy, but what's his rights? What about Christianity? Hinduism? Shinto? How has the legal view of the minorities developed in socio-political systems informed by different religions?...
posted by bokononito (6 comments total)
As far as I can tell, Jews make the Goyim to pay retail. Other than that, I don't know much more.
posted by swerdloff at 12:25 PM on December 2, 2002

I, for one, welcome our new Muslim overlor.... oops, scratch that.

This is a fascinating area of study. This may be slightly OT, but see here for a brief discussion of how China treated Western "barbarians" and "foreign devils" in the 19th Century - an interesting religious/nationalistic phenomenon, reflecting the Confucian cosmology which (as I understand it) viewed the world in concentric circles - the farther you get from the emperor, the more barbaric and objectionable folks were deemed.
posted by stonerose at 2:41 PM on December 2, 2002

this is really interesting, but i wish dhimmitude had more current examples...for instance, the kurds, and whatever other groups are now living in islamic countries.....anyone have any? (as for me, i'd be killed right away prob.--i don't think any modern islamic country would let today's jews live--and then there's the gay thing too!)
posted by amberglow at 2:53 PM on December 2, 2002

There are (v. small) Jewish communities in Iran, Morocco, Turkey, and other Muslim-majority countries, and Christian populations in Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt, Indonesia, and others. Kurds are almost 100% Muslim.
posted by cell divide at 3:53 PM on December 2, 2002

There's an essay (though it falls short of academic standards) called Indigenous Peoples Under the Rule of Islam that covers this from the perspective of Christian Assyrians; it seems to also be available in book form. Also relevant is differing views of peace between Westerners and Muslims (posted in a thread yesterday by someone). Another somewhat biased point of view is found in The Minority Plight, which looks at historical Middle-Eastern peoples.

bokononito, one reason that this is a particular problem for Islam and much less so for other cultures and religions is the overt relationship between religion and the state under Islam, often expressed in the fights over shari'a law, but also present in the millennium or so of Islamic history in terms of battles over state legitimacy. After the Reformation, and with the development of a Western tradition of philosophy that was independent of religion, political theory grew away from religious dicta. This process has, arguably, never yet occurred in Islam.

cell is right; the Kurds are not dhimmi, as they are mostly Sunni Muslims. They have faced minority status under Arabs in Iraq and Syria, Turks, and Persians, and their being full-fledged Muslims hasn't helped a great deal. The Shi'a Arabs in Iraq have their own history of subjugation, both by Sunni Arabs and Shi'a Persians.

Jews used to be numerous in many Arab cities; indeed at one time Baghdad was considered the effective capital of Jewry. But many 'Arab Jews' were expelled in retaliation for the Israeli war of independence and took up residence there. It is just possible for Jews to live in most Islamic countries, with the right public profile. As 'people of the book', i.e. Abrahamic co-religionists, Christians and Jews have more respect than other non-Muslims. Saudi Arabia, with the religious police, is probably one of the few places where it's intolerable for Jews to live at all, though I'm sure a handful manage. (Most Westerners, of any religion, live in separate compounds where the religious police do not go.)

Islamic minority sects have also suffered, apart from the ancient rift between Sunni and Shi'a over the succession of the Caliphate. Alawites, Ahmaddiyas and Sufis have found difficulties co-existing with majority populations.
posted by dhartung at 4:36 PM on December 2, 2002

thanks folks...i've only known people (also jews) whose grandparents emigrated from "Persia" early in the 20th century...I can't imagine what it must be like...
posted by amberglow at 4:40 PM on December 2, 2002

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