I have often wondered what I would do if my faith was put to the test. If I was order to recant or die, would I recant or would I be willing to die the death of a martyr? This dilemma is more than a question to the Christians living in the city of Al-Qaryaten: It’s reality.
To live, they must agree to pay a tax and sign a contract that states they will live in accord with each of the 11 points of the document below.
- Christians may not build churches, monasteries, or hermitages in the city or in the surrounding areas.
- They may not show the cross or any of their books in the Muslims’ streets or markets, and may not use amplifiers when worshiping or during prayer.
- They may not make Muslims hear the reciting of their books or the sounds of church bells, which must be rung only inside their churches.
- They may not carry out any act of aggression against ISIS, such as giving refuge to spies and wanted men. If they come to know of any plot against Muslims, they must report it.
- They must not perform religious rituals in public.
- They must respect Muslims and not criticize their religion.
- Wealthy Christians must pay an annual jizya of four gold dinars; middle-class Christians must pay two gold dinars, and the poor must pay one. Christians must disclose their income, and may split the jizya into two payments.
- They may not own guns.
- They may not engage in commercial activity involving pigs or alcohol with Muslims or in Muslim markets, and may not drink alcohol in public.
- They may maintain their own cemeteries.
- They must abide by ISIS dress code and commerce guidelines.
When I think of the predicament these Christians are facing, I think of what Peter said about persecution:
“Although you may have to suffer for a short time in various trials. Such trials show the proven character of your faith, which is much more valuable than gold—gold that is tested by fire, even though it is passing away—and will bring praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you . . . those who suffer according to God’s will should, while doing what is good, entrust themselves to a faithful Creator (I Peter).”
- This 2 minute video will help to answer the question: Who is ISIS?
- MEMRI’s Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM) is the source for the contract above and photo I used.