JIZYAH – TAX IMPOSED UPON NON-MUSLIMS IN AN ISLAMIC STATE

←Back to Section on True Jihad

AN EXAMPLE DISPLAYING THE NOBLE SPIRIT OF JUSTICE OF THE EARLY MUSLIM JIHADIS

The following excerpt from a non-Muslim historian contains an eye-opening account which encapsulates the spirit of justice and integrity displayed by the very earliest generations of Muslims, the Sahahah (radhiyallahu anhum) (the companions of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam). It throws into stark contrast the often dishonest, treacherous and murderous behaviour exhibited by modernist and salafi-influenced ‘jihadi’ groups which, in fact, is the natural consequence of a malleable and flexible methodology of deriving Islamic rulings (Ijtihad) which is unfettered from rigid Taqleed (being tightly bound) to the 4 madh-habs, and which ultimately enables conferring religious legitimization to each and every transgression under the sun:

It is true that adherence to their ancient faith rendered them obnoxious to the payment of Jizyah – a word which originally denoted tribute of any kind paid by the non-Muslim subjects of the Arab empire, but came later on to be used for the capitation-tax as the fiscal system of the new rulers became fixed; but this Jizyah was too moderate to constitute a burden, seeing that it released them from the compulsory military service that was incumbent on their Muslim fellow-subjects…[In a true Islamic State income tax, rates, and the host of other taxes are counted as oppression upon the people and are completely abolished. Furthermore, the Jizyah is only a fraction of the bludgeoning amount of income tax and other taxes and levies which even the poor masses are compelled to pay in most countries today – noted added by admin]

The following facts taken from the Kitab al-Kharaj, drawn up by Abu Yusuf at the request of Harun al-Rashid (A.D. 786-809) may be taken as generally representative of Muhammadan procedure under the Abbasid Caliphate. The rich were to pay forty-eight dirhams (footnote: A dirham is about fivepence) a year, the middle classes twenty-four, while from the poor, i.e. the field-labourers and artisans, only twelve dirhams were taken.

This tax could be paid in kind if desired; cattle, merchandise, household effects, even needles were to be accepted in lieu of specie, but not pigs, wine, or dead animals. The tax was to be levied only on able-bodied males, and not on women or children. The poor who were dependent for their livelihood on alms [distributed by the state] and the aged poor who were incapable of work were also specially exempted as also the blind, the lame, the incurables and the insane, unless they happened to be men of wealth; this same condition applied to priests and monks, who were exempt if dependent on the alms of the rich, but had to pay if they were well-to-do and lived in comfort. The collectors of the Jizyah were particularly instructed to show leniency, and refrain from all harsh treatment or the infliction of corporal punishment, in case of non-payment.

This was not imposed on the Christians, as some would have us think, as a penalty for their refusal to accept the Muslim faith, but was paid by them in common with the other dhimmis or non-Muslim subjects of the state whose religion precluded them from serving in the army, in return for the protection secured for them by the arms of the Musalmans [muslims].

When the people of Hirah contributed the sum agreed upon, they expressly mentioned that they paid this Jizyah on condition that “the Muslims and their leader protect us from those who would oppress us, whether they be Muslims or others.” Again, in the treaty made by Khalid with some towns in the neighbourhood of Hirah, he writes: “If we protect you, then Jizyah is due to us; but if we do not, then it is not due.”

How clearly this condition was recognised by the Muhammadans may be judged from the following incident in the reign of the Caliph Umar. The Emperor Heraclius had raised an enormous army with which to drive back invading forces of the Muslims, who had in consequence to concentrate all their energies on the impending encounter. The Arab general, Abu Ubaydah, accordingly wrote to the governors of the conquered cities of Syria, ordering them to pay back all the Jizyah that had been collected from the cities, and wrote to the people, saying:

We give you back the money that we took from you, as we have received news that a strong force is advancing against us. The agreement between us was that we should protect you, and as this is not now in our power, we return you all that we took. But if we are victorious we shall consider ourselves bound to you by the old terms of our agreement.”

In accordance with this order, enormous sums were paid back out of the state treasury, and the Christians called down blessings on the heads of the Muslims, saying, “May God give you rule over us again and make you victorious over the Romans; had it been they, they would not have given us back anything, but would have taken all that remained with us.” 

As stated above, the Jizyah was levied on the able-bodied males, in lieu of the military service they would have been called upon to perform had they been Musalmans; and it is very noticeable that when any Christian people served in the Muslim army, they were exempted from the payment of this tax. Such was the case with the tribe of al-Jurajimah, a Christian tribe in the neighbourhood of Antioch, who made peace with the Muslims, promising to be their allies and fight on their side in battle, on condition that they should not be called upon to pay Jizyah and should receive their proper share of the booty…

Living under this security of life and property and such toleration of religious thought, the Christian community – especially in the towns – enjoyed a flourishing prosperity in the early days of the Caliphate…In trade and commerce, the Christians also attained considerable affluence; indeed it was frequently their wealth that excited against them the jealous cupidity of the mob – a feeling that fanatics took advantage of, to persecute and oppress them.

Further, the non-Muslim communities enjoyed an almost complete autonomy, for the government placed in their hands the independent management of their internal affairs, and their religious leaders exercised judicial functions in cases that concerned their co-religionists only [footnote: Von Kremer]. Their churches and monasteries were, for the most part, not interfered with, except in the large cities, where some of them were turned into mosques – a measure that could hardly be objected to in view of the enormous increase in the Muslim and corresponding decrease in the Christian population…

Of forced conversion or anything like persecution in the early days of the Arab conquest, we hear nothing. Indeed, it was probably in a great measure their tolerant attitude towards the Christian religion that facilitated their rapid acquisition of the country.”

[Thomas Arnold, The Spread of Islam in the World]

←Back to Section on True Jihad

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *