Note (2016-10-14): Since I first wrote this eight years ago, I have learned much more about the historic practice of jizya than I knew at the time, and this post no longer reflects my thinking.
From the New York Times this morning comes word that murdered Iraqi Chaldean Catholic archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, whose body was found in a shallow grave outside Mosul earlier this year, had been paying protection money to insurgents:
For more than 1,000 years, northern Iraq has been shared by people who for the most part believe and worship differently…Since the time of the Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam, Muslims in the Middle East permitted that diversity in part through a special tax on Jews and Christians. The tax was called a jizya--and that is the name with which the insurgents chose to cloak extortion, Mafia-style, from Christians…
Um, excuse me… How is what the insurgents did any different from the historic practice of jizya , except for the official sanction of the latter? Answer: it isn't any different. The New York Times doesn't go so far as to say so, but jizya is, and has always been, nothing more than legalized, sanctified extortion. It's a stain on Islam. Extortion is extortion. I'm just sayin'.