See al-raya for the term for "banner".

A rayah or reaya (from Arabic رعايا ra`aya, a plural of رعيّة ra`iya "flock, subject", also spelled raya, raja, raiah, re'aya; Ottoman Turkish رعايا [ɾeˈʔaːjeː]; Modern Turkish râya [ɾaːˈja] or reaya) was a member of the tax-paying lower class of Ottoman society, in contrast to the askeri and kul. In Muslim world, Rayyah literally subject of a government or sovereign.

The rayah (literally 'members of the flock') included Christians, Muslims, and Jews who were 'shorn' (i.e. taxed) to support the state and the associated 'professional Ottoman' class.[1]

But both in contemporaneous and in modern usage, it refers to non-Muslim subjects in particular, also called zimmi.[2] [3][4] The word is sometimes mistranslated as 'cattle' rather than 'flock' or 'subjects' to emphasize the inferior status of the rayah.

In the early Ottoman Empire, rayah were not eligible for military service, but starting in the late 16th century, Muslim rayah became eligible, to the distress of some of the ruling class.[5]

See also


  • Molly Greene, A Shared World: Christians and Muslims in the Early Modern Mediterranean, Princeton, 2000. ISBN 0-691-00898-1
  • Peter F. Sugar, Southeastern Europe under Ottoman Rule, 1354-1804, series title A History of East Central Europe, volume V, University of Washington Press, 1983. ISBN 0-295-96033-7.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.