After the rapid expansion of the Muslim dominion in the 7th century, Muslims leaders were required to work out a way of dealing with non-Muslims, who remained in the majority in many areas for centuries. The solution was to develop the notion of the “dhimma,” or “protected person” which applied to the “People of the Book” – Christians and Jews. Though not forced to convert or treated as harshly as other non-believers, the dhimmi were, in the best of times, second-class citizens and, at certain times and places severely persecuted and murdered.
The Pact of Umar is supposed to have been the peace accord offered by the Caliph Umar to the Christians of Syria in which the Christians make a number of promises to avoid behavior offensive to Muslims. The pact contains a list of rights and restrictions on dhimmis. By abiding by them, non-Muslims are granted the security of their persons, their families, and their possessions.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. This is a document to the servant of Allah `Umar, the Leader of the faithful, from the Christians of such and such city. When you (Muslims) came to us we requested safety for ourselves, children, property and followers of our religion. We made a condition on ourselves that:
We will neither erect in our areas a monastery, church, or a sanctuary for a monk, nor restore any place of worship that needs restoration nor use any of them for the purpose of enmity against Muslims.
We will not prevent any Muslim from resting in our churches whether they come by day or night, and we will open the doors [of our houses of worship] for the wayfarer and passerby. Those Muslims who come as guests, will enjoy boarding and food for three days.
We will not allow a spy against Muslims into our churches and homes or hide deceit [or betrayal] against Muslims.
We will not teach our children the Qur'an, publicize practices of Shirk, invite anyone to Shirk or prevent any of our fellows from embracing Islam, if they choose to do so.
We will respect Muslims, move from the places we sit in if they choose to sit in them.
We will not imitate their clothing, caps, turbans, sandals, hairstyles, speech, nicknames and title names, or ride on saddles, hang swords on the shoulders, collect weapons of any kind or carry these weapons.
We will not encrypt our stamps in Arabic, or sell liquor.
We will have the front of our hair cut, wear our customary clothes wherever we are, wear belts around our waist, refrain from erecting crosses on the outside of our churches and demonstrating them and our books in public in Muslim fairways and markets.
We will not sound the bells in our churches, except discretely, or raise our voices while reciting our holy books inside our churches in the presence of Muslims, nor raise our voices [with prayer] at our funerals, or light torches in funeral processions in the fairways of Muslims, or their markets.
We will not bury our dead next to Muslim dead, or buy servants who were captured by Muslims.
We will be guides for Muslims and refrain from breaching their privacy in their homes.
We will not beat any Muslim.
These are the conditions that we set against ourselves and followers of our religion in return for safety and protection. If we break any of these promises that we set for your benefit against ourselves, then our Dhimmah (promise of protection) is broken and you are allowed to do with us what you are allowed of people of defiance and rebellion.