The Specter of Jizya Returns to Egypt
December 15, 2011 - 1:28 pm
In Egypt, calls for jizya—the tribute doctrinally demanded and historically collected from conquered infidels—are increasing day by day, by those who wish to be true to the words of Koran 9:29:
Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor forbid that which Allah and his Messenger have forbidden, nor follow the religion of truth [Islam], from the People of the Book [Christians and Jews], until they pay the jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves utterly subdued.
|“Fight … the People of the Book until they pay jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves utterly subdued,” Koran 9:29|
Accordingly, days ago, Ahmed Imran—a candidate of Egypt’s Salafi party, the “Party of Light,” which won some 20% of votes in recent elections—called for the return of jizya (which was abolished under colonial pressure in the mid 19th century). Sounding like a Western apologist of Islamic supremacism, he distorted history and spoke of jizya in glowing terms:
I say to those who fear that we might govern, that it was the Muslims who liberated the Copts from Roman slaughter and that Copts are obligated to pay the jizya, and it will only be half a dinar, taken from the rich and given to their poor.
Earlier, Abu Shadi, another Salafi leader—though not one running for office, and so extra candid—announced that Egypt’s Christians must either convert to Islam, pay jizya and assume inferior status, or die.
Nor is the return of jizya limited to Salafi discourse. Running for Egypt’s presidency, Hazem Abu Ismael, a former Muslim Brotherhood member still affiliated with the group, said he would impose jizya on the Copts.
And Dr. Mohamed Saad Katatni—the secretary general of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party which won 40% of the votes—reportedly said that Copts would not pay jizya now, implying that the idea of collecting tribute from subdued “dhimmi” Copts is very much alive among the Brotherhood, only dormant till a more opportune moment (naturally, the Brotherhood later denied he said such a thing).
Moreover, increasing numbers of attacks on Christians in Egypt revolve around extorting jizya. For instance, last summer a priest was almost
killed at the hands of the Salafis because of his refusal to pay them jizya money…. [T]he church’s priest had declared that the Copts would not pay jizya, in any way, shape, or form. This is what caused the Salafis to want to banish him from the region, so they could collect jizya from the Copts.
Here, then, is another rule of thumb: Wherever and whenever there are calls to return to “true Islam”—whether by 9th century Ibn Hanbal, 14th century Ibn Taymiyya, 18th century Abdul Wahhab, or 21st century Salafis, and the countless no-names in between—the non-Muslims among them will always be first to suffer; first, in the words of Koran 9:29, to “pay the jizya [tribute] with willing submission, and feel themselves utterly subdued.”