Religious Exemptions Under Obamacare: Muslims Exempted?


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Are Muslims exempt from the PPACA insurance obligations? Image by mconnors

Dhimmitude and Religious Exemption for Muslims?

Shortly after Obamacare was passed into law in 2010, articles began appearing, saying that Muslims are exempt from the mandate because of their religious beliefs.

The theory goes that Muslims object to insurance because it is “haraam” or forbidden. Purchasing insurance is a form of gambling that involves risk taking and usury, all of which is forbidden by the Koran. Therefore, according to these articles, any Muslim is entitled to apply for and receive an exemption from the Obamacare mandate on religious grounds.

After the PPACA was signed into law, an email was circulated that went even further, saying an exemption for Muslims was ‘Dhimmitude.’ Dhimmitude is a tax that Muslims imposes on non-Muslims in lands they have conquered. In exchange for payment of this tax, non-Muslims are allowed to live in peace in the new Muslim land without the necessity of converting. The author of the email explained that when the exemption is granted, non-Muslims end up paying for the healthcare of Muslims much like a tax.

It is a nice theory but is it true? According to Ibrahim Hooper, the Communications Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), this is not the case. Hooper stated he has health insurance and CAIR provides insurance to its employees. According to the group’s spokesman, although gambling, risk taking and usury are against the Koran’s teachings, Muslims obtain insurance when they arerequired by law to do so.

Required to Pay Social Security, Muslims Stuck with Obamacare Too

It is difficult to envisage a situation where someone would be entitled to refuse to pay for health insurance on religious grounds but would be willing or required to make social security payments or obtain any other type of insurance. Exemptions granted under the Internal Revenue Code are a matter of public record and there are no indications that Muslims have been exempted from the requirement to pay for Social Security.

Those currently exempted from Social Security payments such as the Anabaptists are relatively few in number. But according to the 2010 Census, there were approximately 2.6 million Muslims living in the United States. Unlike the Amish, Hutterites and Mennonites, Muslims do not live in isolated areas but tend to reside in heavily populated centers. If Muslims in large numbers refused to obtain insurance because it is forbidden by the Koran, the media, at least the alternative media would be full of stories about Muslim drivers getting into accidents while uninsured, and Muslim doctors practising medicine without malpractice insurance. There is no evidence of these situations occurring in large numbers because of religious reasons.

Muslims Not Exempt: It’s Just a PPACA Urban Legend

There is simply no evidence of Muslims opting out of either social security or any other mandatory insurance requirement. There are, of course,Muslims who will not buy life insurance because they feel it is akin to gambling, but they will pay a fine or a tax just like other Americans.

The idea that Muslims, as a group, can be exempted from the individual mandate under Obamacare is simply an urban legend, spread shortly after the passage of the PPACA.


U.S. Government. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, H.R. 3590 . (2010). Accessed August 19, 2013.

Legal Information Institute. Internal Revenue Code, Section 1402(2013). Accessed August 19, 2013. Dhimmitude” and the Muslim Exemption. (2010). Accessed August 19, 2013.

Snopes. Health Insurance Exemption. (2010). Accessed August 19, 2013.

Mennonite World Review. Insurance mandate exempts many plain Anabaptists. (2012). Accessed August 19, 2013.

Association of Religions Data Archives. Religious Traditions, 2010. (2010). Accessed August 19, 2013.

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