The treatment of minority groups is an important indicator that determines the success of a State and the ideology it embodies. The Islamic State (622-1924) realised the immense importance of inter-communal harmony, and they achieved this by recognising the respective rights and values of the different communities.To begin with, Islam uses the term ‘dhimma’ for non-Muslim citizens residing within the State’s borders, as opposed to the crude term ‘minority’. Dhimma literally means ‘protected person’. The term itself reflects the respectful status attributed to non-Muslim communities under the Islamic System.The Shariah rules related to dhimmis are summed up in the Quranic verses “There is no compulsion in a way of life” and “To you your way of life, to me mine.” Hence Islam refutes the idea of a monotonous system that expects different ideological communities to follow the same directives with respect to their public, economic, social and political lives. Instead the Islamic organisation of society requires the formation of autonomous parallel faith communities so that each can fully practice their faith and way of life according to their beliefs. This ensures a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere. ‘Thus the Islamic State works to create inter-communal harmony not by tolerating different communities to integrate in the same way of life but by recognising their needs and values and by allowing them to live by the culture they want.’However this does not exhibit ‘discrimination.’ The State merely ‘differentiates’ between the various communities. Discrimination implies injustice whereas differentiating signifies dissimilarity. Hence Islam recognises the rights of communities to live by their own values and they are allowed to settle disputes according to their own moral or religious code. ‘So the Christians will be allowed to follow biblical teachings, the Jews will be permitted to follow the Talmudic law, and Muslims will implement Shariah law within their communities.’ There is however an overarching system necessary to deal with issues of defence, foreign affairs and potential conflict between the communities. This structure is implemented by the Muslims but the cost is shared by everyone. Zakat for Muslims and Jizyah for non-Muslims.This structure was implemented throughout the period of the Islamic State. When the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) established the first Islamic State in Medina, a parallel Jewish community was set up which even had its own judicial system in the form of ‘Halakhic Courts.’ The ‘millet system’ implemented in the Ottoman Era was a recent example of how different communities chose their own heads and ran their affairs autonomously.The Islamic State is also required to protect the dhimmis from harm both by anarchical elements within the State as well as external threats. The famous hadith ‘Whoever harms a dhimmi, harms me’ supports this directive. Al-Qurafi and Ibn Hazim (prominent Islamic scholars) reported: “That it would be our duty to protect the people of dhimma if aggressors attacked our land, and we should die protecting them if necessary. Any neglect of such a duty would be a breach of the rights of dhimma.”The Muslims were so fair and just in respect of Jizyah that when they found themselves unable to protect and safeguard their non-Muslim subjects, they refunded the amount of Jizyah which they had realized. It is reported on the authority of Imam Abu Yusaf that before the battle of Yurmuk when the Muslims withdrew from Hims, Damascus and other advanced posts, Abu Ubaidah, the commander of Muslim army, refunded the whole amount of Jizyah collected from the people of those areas. Not accustomed to such a benevolent treatment by the conquerors, the non-Muslims prayed for the victory and return of the Muslims and said: “O Muslims! We prefer you to the Byzantines, though they are of our own faith because you keep better faith with us and are more merciful to us and refrain from doing us injustice and your rule over us is better than theirs, for they have robbed us of our goods and our homes”.This success was not restricted to the period of Hazrat Muhammad (SAW) and his companions; rather it extended over to every region ruled by the Muslims. History has witnessed a number of incidents in the subcontinent that depict the same image. From the Hindus who revered Muhammad bin Qasim to the communal groups who rose together in 1857 for the restoration of the Muslim Mughal Empire, there was inter-communal harmony everywhere.