to Islamic authority they were obliged to pay tribute and special taxes, in particular jizya and the kharaj. The doctors of Islamic law tended to draw quite distinct boundaries between Muslims and non-Muslims, and to interpret the subjection of dhimmis6 to Islamic authority as a justification for discriminatory and humiliating measures imposed upon them.7 The Islamic polemical impulse, which tended to focus on the disloyal and devious character of nonMuslims, gained momentum in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. It differed from previous polemic, which tended to centre on doctrinal issues and aimed at conversion. In the new polemic Christians were condemned en masse as enemies who could not be redeemed by their conversion, which was invariably presented as opportunistic and fraudulent.8 Paradoxically, large-scale conversions of Christians to Islam provided the context for this type of polemic; its characterisation of Christians still has a strong hold on modern Islamic discourse regarding the Coptic community in Egypt.
From 1798 to 1801 the French Expedition lifted the discriminatory measures imposed in the name of the 'Covenant of 'Umar'9 and ended the payment of the jizya.10 But these measures had little impact on traditional patterns of recherche, ed. YusufRagib [Textes arabes et etudes islamiques 29] (Cairo: Institut francais d'archeologie orientale, 1991), 11-18. On conversion in the Mamluk period, see D. Little, 'Coptic converts to Islam during the Bahri Mamluk period', in Conversion and continuity: indigenous Christian communities in Islamic lands: eighth to eighteenth centuries, ed. M. Gervers and R. J. Bikhazi (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1990), 263-88; I. A. Lapidus, 'The conversion of Egypt to Islam', Israel Oriental Studies 2 (1972), 248-62; Y. Lev, 'Persecutions and conversion to Islam in eleventh-century Egypt', Asian and African Studies 22 (1988), 73-93.
6 Dhimma can indicate protection, obligation or responsibility. In this context it signifies the 'pact of protection' extended to non-Muslims who willingly submitted to Islamic authority and paid certain taxes, notably the jizya (or poll-tax) and the kharadj, a land tax. See above, pp. 380-2.
7 A. Noth, 'Moglichkeiten und Grenzen islamischer Toleranz', Saeculum 29 (1978), 190204; 'Abgrenzungsprobleme zwischen Muslimen und Nicht-Muslimen: die Bedingungen 'Umars (as-surut al-'umariyya) unter anderem Aspekt gelesen', Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam 9 (1987), 290-315.
8 See B. Catlos, 'To catch a spy: the case of Zayn al-Din and Ibn Dukhan', Medieval Encounters 2 (1996), 99-113, which deals with the dismissal and execution of Ibn Dukhan, an Egyptian Christian, who held high rank in the financial administration in the late twelfth century.
9 The 'historical' precedent most referred to by Muslim writers is the so-called Pact or Covenant of'Umar, a spurious treaty ascribed to the Caliph 'Umar I (634-644), which is more probably a refinement of Abbasid jurists some two centuries later. Its terms are quite harsh and it contains proscriptions of dress and behaviour, which no doubt reflect the ideals of the jurists who formulated it rather than the actual conditions in which non-Muslims typically lived. See above, p. 381.
10 H. Motzki, Dimma und Egalite:die nichtmuslimischen Minderheiten Agyptens in der zwischen Halfte des 18 .Jahrhunderts und die Expedition Bonapartes (1798-1801) [Studien zum Minderheitenproblem im Islam, 5; Bonner orientalistische Studien, n.s. 27] (Bonn: Selbstverlag des orientalistischen Seminars der Universitat Bonn, 1979).
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