Ahl al-Kitab

Quick Reference

Quranic term referring to Jews, Christians, and Sabaeans as possessors of books previously revealed by God. Sometimes applied to Zoroastrians, Magians, and Samaritans. The books associated with Jews and Christians are the Torah, Psalms, and Gospels, all of which are recognized by the Quran as God's revelation, although the Quran declares that they were abrogated and superseded by Muhammad's book since they were corrupted. The Quran recognizes the special relationship of Jews with God and grants both Jews and Christians a special legal status in Muslim communities as dhimmis (protected scriptural minorities), permitting them to practice their faith, defend themselves from external aggressions, and govern their own communities in return for paying a special tax (jizyah). Many twentieth-century scholars are concerned that dhimmis enjoy only second-class citizenship in Muslim states. Some modern thinkers call for recognition of the ties binding the People of the Book together as a means of promoting interfaith dialogue and cooperation.

See also Dhimmi

Subjects: Islam.

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