Al Mutarjim on The Precarious Position of Jews and Christians in Muslim Countries

by al-Mutarjim on January 30, 2011

in Al Mutarjim (team member), anti-Semitism, Egypt, Indonesia, jizya, Shari'a

Originally published at Translating Jihad

By Al Mutarjim

In my article on today, I discuss the status of Jewish and Christian minorities under Islamic law, in the context of the recent events in Alexandria and a recent al-Jazeera article targeting Indonesian Jews.

Al-Jazeera’s Arabic-language online newspaper,, recently published what can only be described as a targeted hit piece against Indonesia’s tiny Jewish community. The article (English here) describes them as, “…provid[ing] unlimited support to the Israeli occupation in Palestine,” and also as being “among the Jewish religious extremists who previously went out in marches supporting the Israeli aggression on Gaza.” Then comes the real kicker: “These Jews have constructed a tower for a menorah in Manadu, which is considered the largest in the world.”

Indonesian Jews construct a massive menora – how will Muhammad’s followers respond? What does this al-Jazeera piece mean? To understand, we must first examine how Islamic law treats non-Muslims. Generally-speaking, non-Muslims living under Muslim rule have two options: die, or convert to Islam (see Qur’an 9.5). However, for Jews and Christians, who are given special status in Islam as the ‘People of the Book [i.e. the Bible]‘, a third option is available: become a dhimmi, or protected person. The basis for this comes from Qur’an 9.29: “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued” (emphasis added). […]

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