Peoples of the Book

A phrase used in Islam to refer to Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians under Islamic rulership and which provides the foundation for Islamic religious toleration. The Arabic term for such individuals is dhimmi, which means, roughly, one under a protected status. Within Islamic states the Peoples of the Book are free to practice their own faiths and professions and to own property, although they might not be granted full citizenship status. The common restriction has been the placement of a special tax, the jizya, on the dhimmi, although this has not been universal. The principle upon which the notion is based is that Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians are monotheists who, in the case of the first two religions, revere many of the same prophets and holy texts as Muslims do.

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