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Origins of Islamic Policy

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 10:05 AM
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Setting up political and economic policies is the most important task for newly developed civilizations. The creation of an entire religion, and ultimately a whole new society, as in the case of Islam, requires thorough planning and management of new guidelines to shape that society.   Muslim policy was shaped not by democratic decision-making or dictatorship, but by interpretations of Holy Scripture, such as the Quran and the Hadiths. In the “Fiscal Rescript of Umar II”, it is clear that most economic and political policy imposed on newly conquered lands was shaped on the interpretations of word of Allah himself.


Upon Muhammad’s death in 632 AD, until the Battle of Talas in 751 AD, the Islamic faith was spread by its followers to most of Central Asia, northern Africa, and Spain. Within 50 years of Muhammad’s death, the Muslim world had complete control of the Fertile Crescent region.  


Once an area was conquered by the Muslims, conversion of native peoples was one of the first and foremost issues.   By 681, the caliphate was moved to Damascus, pushing the Byzantines north. With new Byzantine influence, a more imperialistic approach was taken by Muslim conquerors.   Governors were chosen and sent to oversee the newly subjugated regions and to administer the conversion of natives.  


With newly conquered lands and newly converted peoples, laws and policies had to be formed. Umar II, an Umayyad caliph living in the 8th century, sent a draft to the governors outlining fiscal policies to be instated.   This set of laws regarded taxation, emigration, Almsgiving, trade, land rights and conversion to Islam.


Natives of the conquered lands were given the choice of whether or not to submit to Allah, and many chose not to. Those who chose to remain their own faith (Christian, Jewish, etc.)   became known as the dhimmi, or “protected ones”. The dhimmi were forced to pay a jizya, or poll tax.   If one chose to convert to Islam, the tax was waived....

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