The “Temple” of Ignorance: A Response to Ken Temple on Dhimmis, Jizyah, and Islam – Part II

The “Temple” of Ignorance: A Response to Ken Temple on Dhimmis, Jizyah, and Islam, Part II

Originally posted on the Quran and Bible Blog

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْم

Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.

– The Quran, Surah At-Tawba, 9:29

            This is Part II of the response to Ken Temple’s poorly researched diatribe about dhimmis and jizyah. In Part I,[1] Temple’s shabby research and deceit regarding the so-called “Pact of Umar” were exposed.  For Part II, we will refute Temple’s misinformation about the Islamic concept of jizyah and the Islamic conquests of the corrupt Byzantine and Sasanian Empires.

Unveiling the “Temple of Ignorance – Jizyah and the Islamic Conquests

            Temple begins his diatribe with the following:

“[o]verall, if one reads all the information here, and the links to other articles, it shows the problem with modern Muslims claiming that that the attacks on the Byzantine and Persian Empires from 634 AD onward to 732 (battle of Tours and Charles Martel stopping the Muslims in Europe) and beyond all the way to 1453 and the conquering of Constantinople, are false claims for saying they were seeking to free the Copts and other Monophysites and Nestorians from the tryanny [sic] of the Byzantine and Persian Empires.”

            I am not sure which Muslims he is trying to quote, but this certainly is not what the scholars say. The main impetus for the wars against the Byzantines and Persians was certainly not to “free the Copts and other[s]…” The impetus was to punish these empires for their aggression against the Islamic nation. As a result of the conquest though, persecuted groups like the Copts would certainly have benefited indirectly, as they would have received much greater freedoms than they had before. In this regard, they would have indeed welcomed the Muslims, something Temple admitted to as well.[2]

            Next, Temple stated that:

“…according to the Qur’an and Hadiths, that was not Muhammad nor the Caliphs motivations.  They wanted to spread Islam, as David Wood points out, Surah 9:29 does not say, “fight the people of the book because they oppress each other” (Byzantines/Chalcedonian Creed vs. Monophysite Copts, Jacobite Syrians and Armenians; and Nestorians vs. Zoroastrian Persia).  It says “fight them because of their beliefs and practices…””

            Temple should think before he writes, given the glaring contradiction in the above statement. If the motivation was to “spread Islam” (which was certainly one of the most important goals of Muhammad and his followers), then why would Surah 9:29 say to collect the jizyah from these people? Why not just say to offer unbelievers only two choices: convert or die? Paying the jizyah meant that one was free to practice his religion, so it would not have been a good way to “spread Islam”, unless Muhammad (peace be upon him) had correctly foreseen that it would lead to mass conversions (in which case it proves that he was a true prophet). Rather, the jizyah was a practical and completely reasonable expectation from non-Muslims living under Islamic rule. Just as paying one’s income tax is required to enjoy the right of being a citizen in any modern country, paying jizyah (and for Muslims, the zakat) would guarantee the dhimmis the right to live peacefully under Islamic rule. As the Professor Abu-Munshar put it, paraphrasing the late scholar Al-Buti:

“…dhimmis paid jizyah, a lesser amount [compared to Muslims paying zakat], in fulfilment of their social duty to the Muslim state in which they were living, and it was spent in their protection.”[3]

            As for the context of Surah Tawba, 9:29, the Quranic commentators were virtually unanimously agreed that the verse was revealed in response to Byzantine aggression. The specific context was the expedition to Tabuk, and this is the view of Ibn Kathir,[4] and Al-Tabari.[5] So what was the context of the expedition to Tabuk? According to Ibn Al-Qayyim, it was in response to Byzantine aggression, beginning with the murder of a Muslim messenger and the subsequent battle of Mu’ta. Ibn Al-Qayyim described the events as follows:

“Mu’ta is located in Syria, and this battle took place in the month of Jumaada Al Uwla during the eighth year. As for the cause of this battle, the messenger of Allaah (may Allaah send salutations upon him) sent Al Haarith Bin ‘Umayr Al Azadee of Banoo Lahab to Syria with a letter for the king of Rome or Basra. However, he was accosted by Shurahbeel Bin ‘Amr Al Ghassaanee who tied him up. Thereafter, he killed him. He was the only messenger of the prophet (may Allaah send salutations upon him) who had ever been killed. As a result, he was devastated, so he sent forth an army placing Zayd Bin Haaritha in command…

Thereafter, they proceeded until reaching Ma’aan where they learned that Heracules had reached Al Balqaa with 100,000 soldiers, so they remained for two nights discussing their next move.”[6]

So we can see that Surah 9:29 was revealed in response to the crimes and aggression of the Byzantines and their allies against the Muslims. It was a perfectly legitimate response to the violence perpetrated by the Byzantines and their allies.

            The extent of Byzantine aggression and interference in Arabia can be further demonstrated in the fact that they had Arab vassals in the northern part of the Arabian Peninsula. As Dr. Ali As-Sallaabee stated in his book The Biography of Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq:

“…it [the Roman Empire] controlled large areas of land in the northern part of the Peninsula. The rulers of those areas acted as viceroys for the Roman emperor: They were appointed by the Empire and were completely under the Empire’s control.”[7]

Furthermore, the Byzantines made incursions into the lands towards the south, which was a clear threat to the rising Muslim state. As Dr. As-Sallaabee states:

“Arabs were getting organized under the banner of the same religion. Wanting to teach a lesson to what they considered to be an upstart nation, the Romans made certain incursions towards the south.”[8]

In fact, this military and political interference had been going on for decades, even before the rise of the Islam, and the Sasanian Empire was just as guilty as the Byzantine Empire. As Hugh Kennedy explains:

“[d]uring the course of the sixth century, both great powers tried to find alternative ways of managing the desert frontier, and they turned to client kingdoms.  In effect they used Arabs to manage Arabs.”[9]

The Byzantines even tried to install a puppet ruler in Mecca itself around the year 590 CE. According to W. Montgomery Watt:

“Byzantine policy had a setback when the Abyssinians were drive out by the Persians about 570.  A little later-perhaps about 590-we find the Byzantines trying to gain control of Mecca by bringing a pro-Byzantine faction to power there; but the Meccans, though more friendly to the Byzantines than to the Persians, had no desire for this kind of subordination to one of the great powers, and the would-be princeling was forced to flee.”[10]

Finally, as with the conquests of places like Egypt, where the local populations were more than happy to welcome the new Muslim conquerors, similar sentiments were seen among the Arab subjects of the Byzantine and Persian Empires. As Karen Armstrong observes:

“[w]hen the Muslim armies invaded these regions after Muhammad’s death some thirty years later, they found the Arabs there highly resentful of the great powers and ready to throw in their lot with Islam.”[11]

So we can see that both the Byzantines and the Sasanians were imperialistic nations which had exerted their wills on the Arab population in the Middle East. So when the chickens came home to roost, biased apologists like Temple should not cry foul.

            Temple then stated:

“…and verse 28 and 29 indicates that Allah will make them rich by the jiziye [sic] tax that they will get from the Christians and Jews.”

            This is true, although as we have seen, the context of verse 29 was the aggression of the Byzantines themselves. Since God is All-Knowing, He would have known that a war with the Byzantines was coming, and thus, He was reassuring the Muslims that even though they had lost one form of revenue, they would soon get a different form in the form of the jizyah and the spoils of war that they were sure to capture upon defeating their enemies. This actually proves that the Quran is from God, because it effectively made a prophecy that came true within 30 years of Prophet Muhammad’s death! Allahu Akbar!

            However, as far the jizyah is concerned, it would hardly have enriched the Muslims. Rather, it was taxation in general (such as land taxes) and the enormous amount of wealth that would be seized from the Byzantines and Persians that would provide the revenue for the expanding Muslim state. In this regard, the Muslim empire was no different from any other nation throughout history. They all collected taxes from their subjects! This will be discussed in more detail later.

            Temple then gave a sob story about how the poor Christians had to deal with the “fear of persecution” and that conversions to Islam occurred “over the centuries” (in effect, he admits there were virtually no so-called “forced conversions”) due to the “economic and social pressures of being ‘Dhimmi’”. This claim is common among Christian apologists, but it is nothing more than an over-exaggerated revisionism of actual history.

            While there were certainly periods of time when Christians and other groups were unfairly treated by some Muslim rulers (especially under the rule of the Umayyad dynasty, who ironically, also heavily taxed converts as well), this was largely the exception and not the rule. Let’s look at the example of the Egyptian Copts.

            During the initial period after the conquest of Egypt and up to the time of the Umayyads, Coptic Christians actually had another option other than paying the jizyah or converting. Since the tax could not be taken from monasteries and monks, joining a monastery would allow a person to avoid paying the jizyah. But by the time of the Umayyads, monks also began to be taxed. The Christian scholar Jurji Zaydan described it this way:

“[w]hen the Copts found that conversion to Islam would not exempt them from poll-tax nor from its extortion by violence, some of them bethought of taking the monk’s robe, since monks were exempted from the poll-tax.  The Umayyad viceroys, perceiving their object, proceeded to impose poll-tax on the monks, and became so vindictive that some wanted to enforce it on the dead as well as the living, by making the survivors pay poll-tax for their dead relatives.  Many such incidents are reported for the Umayyad period…”[12]

Later on, Umar II, one of the few just rulers of the Umayyad dynasty, reversed these policies. According to Zaydan:

“[t]his process was carried on by the Umayyads, who overlooked the charted of Omar, until the Caliphate came to his grandson and admirer Omar II, who, amongst other instances of imitation of Omar I, wrote to his viceroys bidding them restore the provisions of the charter.”[13]

            The Umayyads were so corrupt that they even placed heavy taxes on converts to Islam! They even took the jizyah from converts and persecuted Islamic scholars such as Abu Haneefa (the founder of the Hanafi school in Sunni Islam) when they spoke out against such blatant violations of Islamic law. As Muslim author Dr. Nazeer Ahmed states:

“[t]he Omayyads forgot the fraternal message of Islam and treated the new converts with disdain. Often, the converts were forced to pay the Jizya even after they had accepted Islam. It was against such discrimination that Imam Abu Haneefa (who lived through the Abbasid revolution) fought. In one of his dictums Abu Haneefa said: “The belief of a newly converted Turk is the same as that of an Arab from Hejaz”. But the Omayyads resented such reforms and Imam Abu Haneefa was jailed for his activism.”[14]

And it was Umar II yet again who tried to reverse these unjust policies.[15]

            Moreover, it is frankly silly to claim that Copts converted to Islam to escape the jizyah, when the reality was that the jizyah was just ONE of the taxes they had to pay during the Umayyad reign and even during the early years of the Islamic conquests. According to Daniel C. Dennett, in his book Conversion and the Poll Tax in Early Islam, every Coptic man (not women and children) had to pay:

  1. The poll tax (i.e., jizyah);
  2. A land tax;
  3. A tax known as the embole (which was paid in the form of crops);
  4. A tax to cover the upkeep of Muslims;
  5. A tax for the support of local officials.[16]

He also noted that converting to Islam during the Umayyad reign did not exempt the converts from paying the jizyah, as already noted, a practice of the Umayyads that violated Islamic law.[17]

            But things were a little different during the initial conquest. Dennett explained that there were different agreements in Egypt, based on the different situations in different cities. According to him, the Copts agreed to pay the jizyah at a rate of 2 dinars for every “adult able-bodied male” and 1 dinar for land, as well as a tax on produce and a payment for the needs of the Muslims (i.e., clothing, entertainment, etc.). But Alexandria, which had been taken by force, was simply annexed. Meanwhile, the Pentapolis “paid a fixed, annual sum, to be neither increased nor decreased”. Thus, there were different tax policies depending on different circumstances.

            Dennett also made an astute and interesting observation regarding the so-called “economic motive for conversion”. He stated that:

“[i]f in Egypt conversion had freed a man from all tribute since the beginning of the Arab empire until after the death of Abd-al-Aziz in 703, and if after the census of ibn a-Habhab in 725 conversion freed a man of his poll tax but not his land tax, then it follows that the economic motive for conversion was stronger from 640 to 703 than after 725.  We should therefore expect more conversions before 703 than after 725.  The facts, however, indicate exactly the opposite.  The only mention of conversion in Severus before 703 is the statement that al-Asbagh compelled by force many persons to become Muslims…

In three passages, therefore, mentioning conversion in this Christian authority [Severus], the two passages which ascribe conversion to an economic motive fall at a time when…conversion freed a man only of a poll tax, not of tribute.”[18]

So there really was not much “economic motive for conversion” after all. Temple, like most Christian apologists, made a silly argument based on hyperbolic emotional arguments rather than facts.     

            Continuing with his diatribe, Temple provided a bunch of links for his readers. Besides one or two links to Islamic sources, every single link is to other Christian apologists or pseudo-scholars like Bat Ye’or and Richard Bailey. There is not ONE objective scholarly source. They are ALL apologetic sources. One link is even to the website “Faith Freedom International”, which is run by the atheist Ali Sina!

            Temple then talked about the greatness of America for “liberating” Kuwait from the Iraqi occupation during the first Gulf War. Here too, Temple was liberal with the facts. For a refutation of his shameless propaganda, see Part III.

            Coming back to the issue of the jizyah, Temple made yet another inaccurate claim:

“[o]riginally, Muhammad’s Islam was that only Christians and Jews were allowed to live if they paid the Jizieye, (Surah 9:28-29) and only later, when the Muslims were conquering Persia, did they expand it to the Magi / Majoosian (the Arabic word for Zoroastrians).”

            Once again, we can see Temple’s ignorance and poor research on display. He claimed that the jizyah originally applied only to Christians and Jews in the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and that it was only “later” (he does not specify how much “later”) that it was applied to Zoroastrians as well. But this is false. According to Ibn Al-Qayyim:

“[o]once the verse of the jizya was revealed, he [Prophet Muhammad] took it from the Magians [Zoroastrians] and the people of the book.”[19]

We know this from a hadith that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) did in fact take jizyah from Zoroastrians as well. There were Zoroastrians living in the Arabian Peninsula at the time. Not all of them lived in the territory of the Sassanid (Persian) Empire. Here is the hadith:

“Narrated Bajalah: That ‘Umar would not take the Jizyah from the Zoroastrians until ‘Abdur-Rahman bin ‘Awf informed him that the Prophet (ﷺ) took Jizyah from the Zoroastrians of Hajar.””[20]

So Temple was just flat-out wrong.

            Next, he also gave a sob story about the persecution of the Persians:

“[b]ut most Persians were killed, eventually converted or fled Persian/Iran – there are more Zoroastrians (Parsees) in Mumbai, India today, than in Iran. They are the descendants of those that fled the harsh wars against them in Persia, started by Khalif Umar Ibn Al Khattab.  Much later, when Islam expanded through Jihads and Wars into India, they expanded the Dhimmi principle to Buddhists and Hindus, but originally, it was only for Monotheistic religions, Jews and Christians.”

            So he repeated the debunked claim that the jizyah was only for “monotheistic religions, Jews and Christians”, which we have already debunked.

            As for his claim that “most Persians were killed, eventually converted or fled Persian [sic]/Iran”, Temple was resorting to his characteristic penchant for half-truths and hyperbole. The truth is that the conquest of Persia was similar to the conquests of Syria or Egypt. As Professor Kennedy recounts, in most cases, peace arrangements were made between the Arabs and the Persians. For example, the city of Jayy surrendered and an agreement was reached. As Kennedy states:

“…the inhabitants were allowed to remain in their homes and keep their property in exchange for the payment of tribute. […] Tribute would be paid by all adults but it would be set at an affordable rate. The only other important provisions were that Muslims passing through should be given hospitality for a night and given a mount for the next stage of their journey.”[21]

Kennedy also adds that:

“[t]he occupation seems to have been conducted with a light touch. There was no violence or pillaging. Disruption to the existing community was limited; there was no large-scale Muslim settlement and no major mosque was constructed for the next century and a half.”[22]

            Moreover, Kennedy explains that, in some cases, the Arab armies “were welcomed by the local inhabitants”, as in the case of the town of Qumm. In this case, it was an actual “liberation” of sorts, as the inhabitants had been “suffering from raids by the Daylamite people of the mountains of the north…” According to Kennedy, this arrangement lasted for several years (i.e., “in the first generation”), and it was only later that “tensions” rose over increasing Arab settlement.[23]

            This raises an important point. There were acts of persecution of the local population, and there were “tensions” due to increasing Arab immigration, and many Persians (especially Zoroastrians) did migrate to India. But Temple neglected to mention that this only happened in later years. In the time of the initial conquest and for many years afterwards, there was relative peace and stability. It was only with the rise of the Umayyad dynasty that the first acts of persecution really started.

            However, even during the conquest, there were also periods of looting, as for example, when the city of Rayy was conquered. According to Kennedy, the amount of “booty” taken from Rayy rivaled that of the capital city of Ctesiphon. However, Kennedy makes no mention of any acts of violence against the local inhabitants.[24] But after the army advanced from Rayy, a peaceful arrangement was made with the inhabitants of Qumis. So as with the conquests of Syria or Egypt, there were different outcomes at each battle, depending on whether the inhabitants resisted or surrendered. But even when there was stiff resistance, the vanquished people were not victimized by violence.      

            Next came the conquest of Gurgan, “a semi-detached part of the Sasanian Empire”. As with many of the previous cases, the ruler of Gurgan agreed to a peace settlement. Part of the agreement included exempting “[a] group of Turks” from taxation “in exchange for defending the frontier”. Thus, military service absolved the conquered peoples from paying the tax, as previously mentioned. Indeed, the agreement between the Muslims and the people of Gurgan considered military service as payment of the “tribute”. Moreover, according to Kennedy:

“[t]he traditional ruler remained in charge, paying tax now to the Muslims rather than the Sasanian king, but there is no indication of Muslim settlement or military occupation.”[25]

            In another instance, the Muslims agreed to accept tribute (500,000 dirhams every year) and military assistance from the ruler of Tabaristan. In addition, Muslims could visit the ruler’s territory only with his permission.[26] In fact, Kennedy maintains that the taxes and tributes were actually less than what these rulers had been paying to the Sasanian Empire! He also explains that many of the conquered “areas remained outside Muslim control until the eighth century.”[27]

            In his final assessment of the early conquest of the Sasanian Empire, Kennedy states:

“[t]he Arabs had defeated the Sasanian armies. They had secured tribute from most of the major cities and had control of most, but by no means all, of the great routes, but that was about it. The only major Muslim garrison seems to have been at Merv, on the north-eastern frontier, and even here the troops were sent on rotation from Iraq for some years, rather than being prematurely settled. For the first half-century of Muslim rule, there was no extensive Muslim presence, no Muslim new towns were founded, no great mosques built. ‘Conquest’ was often a form of cooperation with local Iranian elites, as was the case at Qumm and Rayy.”[28]

Also, Kennedy emphasized the fact that Iranian culture had never been replaced by Arabic culture, which is strange given Temple’s claim of mass migrations and persecution. The reason for this:

“…was in part the result of the nature of the initial Arab conquest, the very slow pace of Arab settlement and the way in which the conquerors were happy to leave existing power structures intact.”[29]

Sasanian Empire Map

Figure 1 – A map showing the expansion of the Arab-Muslim Empire. In the Sasanian (Persian) Empire, the major towns, like Rayy, and semi-autonomous regions, like Tabaristan, mostly surrendered and made peace agreements with the Arabs.[30]

            So, in contrast to the inaccurate ramblings of Temple, there were no mass killings or any mass migration of Zoroastrians to India, at least during the first few decades of Muslim rule. There were certainly acts of violence in later times, especially during the reign of the Umayyad dynasty. For example, Kennedy states that the Umayyad governor, Yazid bin al-Muhallab (d. 720 CE)[31] attacked the town of Dihistan in present-day Turkmenistan and took many captives and even had “14,000 defenceless Turks…put to the sword”.[32] This mindless act of violence was not in the spirit of Islam. Yazid did not emulate the actions of Muhammad (peace be upon him) or the Rashidun Caliphs. 

            Continuing with his ignorant diatribe, Temple quoted something called “the Hanafi Sharia Law manual”. This laughable title illustrates, once again, his penchant for shoddy copy/paste research. What he was actually referring to was Al-Hidaya (The Guidance), a famous work on Hanafi fiqh. As for the quote, Temple reproduced it as follows:

“[The] capitation-tax [Jizya] is a sort of punishment inflicted upon infidels for their obstinacy in infidelity, (as was before stated;) whence it is that it cannot be accepted of the infidel if he send it by the hands of a messenger, but must be exacted in a mortifying and humiliating manner, by the collector sitting and receiving it from him in a standing posture : (according to one tradition, the collector is to seize him by the throat, and shake him, saying, “Pay your tax, Zimmee!) It is therefore evident that capitation-tax is a punishment; … Secondly, capitation-tax is a substitute for destruction in respect to the infidels, and a substitute for personal aid in respect to the Muslims, (as was before observed;) – but it is a substitute for destruction with regard to the future…”

            Now, while many classical scholars of Sunni Islam did interpret the Quranic verse “…until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled” (9:29) to mean that the jizyah should be taken while humiliating the dhimmi, this was by no means a matter of consensus. Temple claimed that the Hanafi school was “the most liberal”, but this is yet another simplistic statement from a poorly-informed apologist. For example, as Abu-Munshar notes, the Shafi’i scholar Al-Nawawi refuted “the aspect of humiliation” and pointed out (emphasis ours) “that there is no evidence for this sort of behaviour in the Qur’an or the prophetic tradition, or in the practice of the Prophet’s companions.”[33] So it doesn’t matter what the “Hanafi Sharia Law manual” or any other “manual” says. Muslims follow the example of Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them).

            Similarly, Abu-Munshar quotes the Hanafi scholar Abu Yusuf as stating that:

“[n]o one from the dhimmis would be beaten in extracting jizyah from them; nor would they be made to stand in the sun nor would any persecution be inflicted upon their bodies. Instead kindness will be shown to them. They would be restrained till they paid what was incumbent upon them and they would not be released from this detention till jizyah is taken from them in full.”[34]

Thus, we can see that the view discussed in Al-Hidayah is by no means written in stone, even in the Hanafi School. Temple was wrong in his simplistic and shabby assessment yet again, as usual.

            Next, Temple discussed the command of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to keep Arabia free of other religions. He quoted several ahadith to that effect. But as usual, his copy/paste research provided only half the story. For example, he quoted the following narration from the Muwatta of Imam Malik:

“Yahya related to me from Malik from Ibn Shihab that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Two deens (religions) shall not co-exist in the Arabian Peninsula.”

Malik said that Ibn Shihab said, ”Umar ibn al-Khattab searched for information about that until he was absolutely convinced that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, had said, ‘Two deens (religions) shall not co-exist in the Arabian Peninsula,’ and he therefore expelled the Jews from Khaybar.””

The only problem is that this narration is only partially quoted. The REST of the narration states the following (emphasis ours):

“Malik said, ”Umar ibn al-Khattab expelled the jews from Najran (a Jewish settlement in the Yemen) and Fadak (a Jewish settlement thirty miles from Madina). When the Jews of Khaybar left, they did not take any fruit or land. The Jews of Fadak took half the fruit and half the land, because the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, had made a settlement with them for that. So Umar entrusted to them the value in gold, silver, camels, ropes and saddle bags of half the fruit and half the land, and handed the value over to them and expelled them.“”[35]

So as we can see, the expulsion of the Jews of Fadak was accompanied by financial compensation. As for the Jews of Khaybar, it should be remembered that they had acted treacherously against the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and thus did not get the same benefits as the Jews of Fadak. This is explained in a different hadith:

“Ibn Umar reported that ‘Umar b. al-Khattab (Allah be pleased with him) expelled the Jews and Christians from the land of Hijaz, and that when Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) conquered Khaibar he made up his mind to expel the Jews from it (the territory of Khaibar) because, when that land was conquered, it came under the sway of Allah, that of His Messenger (may peace be upon him) and that of the Muslims. The Jews asked Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) to let them continue there on the condition that they would work on it, and would get in turn half of the fruit (of the trees), whereupon Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: We would let you continue there so long as we will desire. So they continued (to cultivate the lands) till ‘Umar expelled them to Taima’ and Ariha (two villages in Arabia, but out of Hijaz).”[36]

But this hadith is significant for another reason. Notice that Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) had expelled the Jews of Khaybar to the villages of Taima (or Tayma) and Ariha. These villages were still within Arabia!

Tayma Arabia

Figure 2 – The Jews of Khaybar were relocated to Tayma, which is still part of the Arabian Peninsula.[37]

So Jews and Christians were actually allowed to live in Arabia, but outside the Hijaz region, while idolaters were to be completely expelled from the “Arabian Peninsula”, as stated in the hadith from Sahih Bukhari that Temple quoted. Ironically, that same hadith also shows that there was debate among early Muslims regarding what the “Arabian Peninsula” referred to (emphasis ours):

“Ya’qub bin Muhammad said, “I asked Al-Mughira bin `Abdur-Rahman about the Arabian Peninsula and he said, ‘It comprises Mecca, Medina, Al-Yamama and Yemen.” Ya’qub added, “And Al-Arj, the beginning of Tihama.“”[38]

But according to the famous scholar Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani, even pagans could live in Yemen, but not in the areas around Mecca, Medina and Yamama. Ibn Hajar explained that:

“[t]he pagans are not allowed to settle specifically in the Hijaz region, meaning Makkah, Madinah, al-Yamamah, and their environs. It does not apply to other regions that are considered part of the Arabian Peninsula. This is because everyone is agreed that they may live in Yemen, though it is part of the Arabian Peninsula. This is the opinion of the majority of scholars.”[39]

Arabia map.jpg

Figure 3 – A map of the Arabian Peninsula showing the prohibited regions. Even if Yemen was included in the list of prohibited lands, other areas to the north and some areas in the south (the yellow areas) were still open to non-Muslim settlement.[40]

So we can see that the command to expel the pagans, Jews and Christians definitely applied to the Hijaz region, which included the areas around Mecca, Medina, and Yamama, but there was debate whether Yemen was also included in this list of prohibited areas. However, towns like Tayma were definitely not off-limits.

            Even if the entire Arabian Peninsula was supposed to be off-limits to non-Muslims, so what? According to Temple’s Bible, all non-Jews were to be removed from Israel,[41] or enslaved (as in the case of the Gibeonites),[42] or completely annihilated (as in the case of the Amalekites).[43]      


            This concludes Part II of our response to Temple’s article on dhimmis and jizyah. Part III will conclude the entire series with a brief refutation of Temple’s promotion of America’s involvement in the first Gulf War, inshaAllah.


[2] As part of his diatribe, Temple quotes what a random and unnamed “Coptic Christian Evangelical” once told him:

“[t]he Muslims deceived my people at the beginning; for later it became worse.”

This laughable assertion by an anonymous (and obviously biased) Christian apologist carries no intellectual weight. What does this Christian mean by “later” and “worse”? How much “later” and how much “worse”?

[3] Maher Y. Abu-Munshar, Islamic Jerusalem and Its Christians: A History of Tolerance and Tensions (London: Tauris Academic Studies, 2007), p. 27.



[6] Ibn Al-Qayyim Al-Jawziyya, Zad Al-Ma’ad: Provisions of the Afterlife Which Lie Within Prophetic Guidance, trans. Ismail Abdus Salaam (Lebanon: DKI, 2010), pp. 399-400.

[7] This book is available online as a PDF:

See p. 313 for the quote.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Hugh Kennedy, The Great Arab Conquests: How the Spread of Islam Changed the World We Live In (USA: De Capo Press, 2007), p. 36.

[10] W. Montgomery Watt, Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1961), p. 5.

[11] Karen Armstrong, Muhammad: Biography of a Prophet (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1992), p. 57.

[12] Jurji Zaydan, Umayyads and Abbasids: Being the Fourth Part of Jurji Zaydan’s History of Islamic Civilization, trans. D.S. Margoliouth (London: Luzac & Co., 1907), p. 136.

[13] Ibid. Of course, as we have seen, the “charter” cannot be applied to Umar I with any reliability.


[15] Daniel C. Dennett, Jr., Conversion and the Poll Tax in Early Islam (Delhi: Idarah-I Adabyat-I Delli, 2000), p. 39.

[16] Ibid., p. 103.

[17] Also, just in case missionaries like Temple complain about the “injustice” of applying so many types of taxes on the Copts, they should be reminded that they probably also pay many different types of taxes as citizens of their respective countries. For example, in the United States, there are 7 types of taxes: income tax, sales tax, excise tax (a tax on specific types of goods such as gas or cigarettes), payroll tax, property tax, estate tax, and gift tax ( If Temple has a problem with the Copts paying different taxes, perhaps he should complain to the IRS and the federal government for being forced to pay so many taxes in the modern age.

[18] Ibid., p. 79.

[19] Ibn Al-Qayyim, op. cit., p. 304.

[20] Jami at-Tirmidhi, 21:49,

[21] Kennedy, op. cit., p. 175.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid., p. 177.

[25] Ibid., p. 178.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Ibid., p. 179.

[28] Ibid., pp. 191-192.

[29] Ibid., p. 199.



[32] Ibid., p. 193.

[33] Abu-Munshar, op. cit., p. 29.

[34] Ibid.


[36] Sahih Muslim, 22:6,

Another reason for the harsh treatment of the Jews of Khaybar is that they had actually attacked Umar’s son and broken his hands and feet (Sahih Bukhari, 54:18,! Even then, Umar allowed them to resettle elsewhere. If he had wanted, he could have had them all killed for nearly killing his son. This shows how fair and just Umar was.





[41] See Joshua 1.

[42] See Joshua 9.

[43] 1 Samuel 15:3.


Categories: Bible, Christianity, Hadith, History, Islam, jihad, Muhammad, Qur'an

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8 replies

  1. Anyone who considers Wood an authority on Islam is an insufferable idiot.

  2. ““Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.”

    But the text commanding you and all other muslims to be violent and fight against non-muslims because of their unbelief still stands and Allah commands you to obey it.

    So when did you have your last fight with a non-believer?

  3. As for the context of Surah Tawba, 9:29, the Quranic commentators were virtually unanimously agreed that the verse was revealed in response to Byzantine aggression. The specific context was the expedition to Tabuk, and this is the view of Ibn Kathir,[4] and Al-Tabari.[5] So what was the context of the expedition to Tabuk? According to Ibn Al-Qayyim, it was in response to Byzantine aggression, beginning with the murder of a Muslim messenger and the subsequent battle of Mu’ta. Ibn Al-Qayyim described the events as follows: ,

    It is funny how you pick and choose – the link to Ibn Kathir’s comment about Tabuk – if you look at Ibn Kathir’s commentary right before, on verse 28, it confirms the other understanding from his other book that David Wood quoted on the Battles of the Prophet, and the comment that you linked to – the one right after that – IS THE VERY ONE that he believes the whole Dhimmi system is based on the Pact / Covenant of Omar, etc.

    Hilarious picking and choosing!

    Furthermore, the Qur’an verses do not give that historical context of the Byzantines, Tabuk, or the earlier battles of M’uta, etc. – it just says “fight them until they submit and pay the Jiziye, being humbled”, etc. – what an ugly and shameful verse in your holy book!

    It is obvious with verse 28 that they needed money, – because there were no more revenues in the Hijaz, etc. and so Islam just kept necessarily expanding and using any excuse by other borders trying to protect themselves from the unjust aggression of Muslims, as an excuse that your religion’s aggressive warfare is
    “perfectly legitimate response”.

    It was a perfectly legitimate response to the violence perpetrated by the Byzantines and their allies.

    No way. It was wrong from the start.

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