Dhimmitude: Definition and Meaning

Dhimmitude is a term that was not commonly known until the recent debates over the health care law. It refers to a state of submission to Islamic law and its rules, usually imposed on non-Muslim minorities living in Muslim-dominated countries. Being a dhimmi means that one submits to a status of inferiority, paying a special tax called jizya, and obeying strict codes of conduct.

Origins of the Controversy

The controversy over dhimmitude in the health care law started with a claim made by a conservative blogger, who argued that the law discriminates against non-Muslims by exempting them from the individual mandate. According to the blogger, this exemption was a kind of dhimmitude, imposed on non-Muslims as a way of accommodating Muslim sensibilities. The claim quickly spread among other conservative bloggers and talk-show hosts, who found in it a powerful argument against the health care law.

The Facts behind the Claim

The claim that the health care law imposes dhimmitude on non-Muslims is completely unfounded. First of all, because the law does not exempt anyone from the individual mandate. Both Muslims and non-Muslims are required to have health insurance or pay a penalty. Second, because such an exemption would be unconstitutional, as it would violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Third, because the argument is based on a misinterpretation of the term “dhimmi,” which has no relevance to the health care law or to the US legal system in general.

The Real Issues with the Health Care Law

While the claim of dhimmitude in the health care law is baseless, there are real issues with the law that deserve attention. For example, the law has been criticized for its complexity, its cost, and its impact on the labor market. Some argue that the law imposes an undue burden on small businesses, which may struggle to comply with the new regulations and may be forced to cut jobs or reduce hours. Others argue that the law will lead to a shortage of doctors and nurses, as more people seek medical care but fewer professionals are available to provide it.

The Role of Religion in the Health Care Debate

The controversy over dhimmitude in the health care law is not just a matter of factual accuracy, but also a reflection of deeper ideological and religious divisions in American society. Some conservatives see the law as a symbol of government overreach and liberal bias, while others see it as a moral imperative to provide health care for all. Similarly, some Christians see the law as a threat to their religious freedom, while others see it as an expression of their faith’s social justice values. Muslims, on the other hand, are often caught in the middle of these debates, as their religion is used as a political tool both by proponents and opponents of the law.


In conclusion, the claim that the health care law imposes dhimmitude on non-Muslims is a myth. While the law is not perfect and has its issues, it is based on the principles of equal access and social responsibility, rather than on the dictates of any religion or ideology. By focusing on the real issues of cost, complexity, and access to care, we can have a constructive debate about how best to reform our health care system, without resorting to fear-mongering or misinformation.


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