Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Dhimmi Definition:

Muslim law: non-Muslims.

Related Terms: Muslim, Muslim Law, Sharia Law, Kitabia

Also presented in English as zimmi.

Rahim defines a dhimmi as:

“A non-Muslim subject of a Muslim state.”

An important distinction in Muslim law is the exclusion of those who are not considered Muslim; aka dhimmis.

Pearl writes that the dhimmi-Muslim relationship is the result of hundreds of years of development:

Dhimmi (are) certain non-Muslim citizens of the Muslim state who were permitted to reside on Muslim soil in return for the payment of (taxes)....

“Muslim practise ... allows them to be governed by their own laws.”

In many cases, dhimmis were the original inhabitants of lands conquered by marauding Muslim armies.

To some Muslim law jurists, dhimmis are limited to Christians and Jewish peoples almost as synonymous to katabi and katabia.


  • Pearl, D., A Textbook on Muslim Law (London: Croom Helm Ltd., 1979), page 7
  • Rahim, Abdur, The Principles of Muhammadan Jurisprudence (Westport, Connecticut: Hyperion Press, 1981), pages 401.

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