By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi
27-2-2014 – Traditionally, a ‘dhimmi’ in Islam is a Jew or Christian who agrees to live under the authority of an Islamic state, agreeing to pay a ‘jizya’ (poll tax) and enduring a number of discriminatory conditions in return for ‘protection’ from the state. The Qur’anic basis for this arrangement is 9:29. In practice of course, the dhimmi pact, far from being a model of historical multiculturalism and tolerance as hailed by Western Islamic apologists such as Karen Armstrong, is actually equivalent to Mafia racketeering, as failure to pay ‘jizya’, whose financial burdens often proved heavy historically, leads to a loss of ‘protection’ by the state.
For the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS), which has the backing of broad elements of classical Islamic theology in this regard, such a development comes as no surprise, as the group’s predecessors- Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) and al-Qa’ida in Iraq- similarly imposed jizya on Christians both in the Baghdad area (al-Dura neighborhood) and the north of the country. In Syria, the group has already imposed dhimmi terms in practice on Christians in Raqqa province, such as in Tel Abyad, where supposed violation of the dhimmi pact was the pretext for ISIS’ desecration of the Armenian church in the fall of last year.
One should also note that this pact has been imposed by ISIS’ leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and bears his signature as the amir al-mu’mineen (“Commander of the Faithful”- the traditional title of a Caliph, illustrating how ISIS is aiming to build the Caliphate and is projecting its leader as the future Caliph). It would thus indicate that Baghdadi is likely to be in Raqqa province at the moment.
Indeed, such a conclusion on Baghdadi’s location is quite logical, for I would also note how my ISIS contacts within Raqqa province have been referring to Raqqa city in particular as ISIS’ ‘capital’ since ISIS took over the city and most of the rest of the province, with the exception of a Kurdish enclave just west of Tel Abyad and two regime airbases (Brigade 17 and Tabqa military airport). Meanwhile, Liwa Thuwar al-Raqqa, FSA-banner groupings, and some Jabhat al-Nusra continue to wage an underground insurgency with sabotage attacks (which are also happening in other ISIS strongholds such as Manbij in Aleppo province), and an underground regime presence, which has existed since Raqqa province largely fell into rebel hands, is beginning to flaunt its presence in the city of Raqqa, for a Raqqa branch of the National Defence Force (NDF) has recently been proclaimed, giving news of raisings of regime flags and displays of pro-Assad graffiti in Raqqa.
Figure 1: Regime flag recently put up in Raqqa city.
Here is my preliminary translation of the relevant excerpts of the first formal dhimmi pact:
“In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful:
Text of the pact of security the Islamic State has given to the Christians of Raqqa with their embracing the rulings of dhimma.
Fight those who believe not in God, nor the Last Day, nor in what God and His messenger have forbidden, nor adopt the true religion [Islam], [even if they be] from the People of the Book [Jews and Christians], until they pay jizya with the hand, and feel themselves subdued- Qur’an 9:29.
We bear witness that there is no deity but God alone. He has fulfilled his promise. He has given victory to His servant. He has made mighty His soldiers. He has defeated the parties on His own: there is no deity but God whom we worship, having purified religion for Him even if the kuffar hate it.
And we bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger- may God’s peace and blessings be upon him…and we bear witness that Jesus the son of Mary is God’s servant and His messenger…the Almighty has said: ‘Never would the Messiah disdain to be God’s servant, and nor would the Angels who are near, and whosoever disdains to worship Him and is haughty- He will gather them to Himself together’- Qur’an 4:172.