Rayah - Encyclopedia

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RAYAH (Arabic ra ` iyah, peasants, subjects, flock, herd, ra'a, to pasture, cf. "ryot," an Indo-Persian variant of the same word), the name given to the non-Moslem subjects of a Mahommedan ruler; all who pay the haraj or poll-tax levied on unbelievers. Five classes of rayahs existed under Turkish rule, - (i) the Greek, or Roum milleti; (2) the Armenian, or Emeni milleti; (3) the Catholic Armenians - eremeni gatoliki milleti; (4) the Latin Christians, or Roum gatoliki milleti; and (5) the Jews, or ichondi milleti. The name rayah is most commonly used of the peasants, but it does not apply only to the agricultural populations. It depended on status, fixed by religious faith.

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