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The term Dhimmitude is derived from Dhimmi, which means a non-Muslim living in an Islamic country. The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary has defined it as "a person living in a region overrun by Muslim conquest who was accorded a protected status and allowed to retain his original faith". According to orthodox Islamic law (Shari'ah), those who are qualified for Dhimmi status within the Muslim society are the free (i.e non-slave) Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians. Adherents of other religions, as well as those without religion, are asked to convert to Islam; if they refuse, they are to be forced to convert.  However, historically, adherents of Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and other religions, have lived as Dhimmis within Muslim states.
Dhimmitude in History
Dhimmitude can only be understood in the context of jihad, because it originates from this ideology. Infidels who submit without fighting to the Islamic armies, are granted a pledge of security. They are protected from the jihad laws against infidels which command killing, slavery, ransom or deportation for the enemies. Peace and security for non-Muslims are recognised only after their submission. Protection status is provided through the Islamization of conquered lands.
Rules of dhimmitude
The vanquished non-Muslims peoples are granted security for their life and possessions, as well as a relative self-autonomous administration and limited religious rights according to the modalities of the conquest. These rights are subject to two conditions: the payment of a poll tax (the jizya) and submission to the provisions of Islamic law.
The concept of toleration is linked to a number of discriminatory obligations in the economic, religious and social fields, imposed by the shari'a on the dhimmis. The transgression by the dhimmis of some of these obligations, abolished their protection, and threaten them with death or slavery. Dhimmis suffered many legal disabilities intended to reduce them to a condition of humiliation, segregation and discrimination. These rules, established from the eight to nine centuries by the founders of the four schools of Islamic law, set the pattern of the Muslim's community's social behavior toward dhimmis.