In the name of Allāh,
the Beneficent, the Merciful.
Peace and Blessings of Allāh on Mohammad.
Allāh–the Glorious and the High,
Lord of the worlds
Mohammad–who brought the world
to our feet and eternity to our arms.
Jizyah; as Muhammad Ali explains:
“was a tax levied on non-Muslim subjects under the rule of Islam, so called because it was a tax for the protection of life and property which that rule guaranteed them. Muslim subjects were exempt from this tax in consideration of military service, which for them was compulsory. As a matter of fact, they too were made to pay for that protection, but in different form. They bore the hardships of a military life, they fought the country’s battles, they laid down their lives in defence of the country. Non-Muslims were exempt from all this, and in lieu of this they contributed their share in the shape of money. It is obvious which of the two alternatives is the easier. In countries where conscription is the law to-day, there would certainly be many who would be glad to buy their exemption from military service so cheaply, paying a small amount as tax. It must be remembered, furthermore, that the tax was not indiscriminately charged to every non-Muslim subject. Males under twenty and above fifty, all females, those suffering from some chronic disease, the blind and the poor were all exempt. As a matter of fact, the Muslims had also to pay a tax in addition under the name of zakaat, and this was much heavier than jizyah as it was levied at the rate of 2 1/2 percent, on all savings annually.”1
It is a rather strange reasoning that one would convert to Islam to escape “heavy taxation” when Muslims are required to shoulder a heavier load than non-Muslims. The Kharaj and Jizyah are not “Discriminatory Taxes.” Jizyah, as already noted, was paid by non-Muslims for military protection. Payment of “half a guinea or a dinar a year” is a cheap price than suffering the hardship of military life and for putting one’s life on the line for the welfare of the country. Muhammad Ali notes:
“…jizyah, which was originally a tribute paid by a subject state, took the form of a poll-tax later on in the time of ‘Umar; and the word was also applied to the land -tax which was levied on Muslim owners of agricultural land. The jurists, however, made a distinction between the poll-tax and the land tax by giving the name of kharaj to the latter. Both together formed one of the two chief sources of the revenue of the Muslim state, the zakat paid by the Muslims being the other source.”2
Thus, Muslims also had to pay not only kharaj but zakat as well, (and do military service). This disparity clearly shows that there is no basis for the claim that the kharaj and jizyah are “Discriminatory Taxes.”
All governments levy taxes to raise revenues. Muhammad Ali has noted in his The Early Caliphate that when a Muslim government could no longer provide the protection for which jizyah was taken, this amount was returned to the people. He gave the example of Abu ‘Ubaidah when he
“gave up his position at Hims and returned towards Damascus. On leaving Hims, however, he ordered that the whole amount of jizyah realised from the people of Hims should be returned to them. Jizyah, he said, was a tax in return for protection. When they could no longer give that protection, they had no right to keep the money. The whole amount was consequently withdrawn from the treasury and made over to the people ……who were all either Christians or Jews. In vain will the critic ransack the dusty pages of history for another such brilliant spot, such scrupulous regard for the rights of citizenship in time of war. The treatment by Muslims of the inhabitants was such that, at their departure, Christians as well as Jews actually shed tears and prayed God to bring them back. Muir, after admiring the leniency of the Arab conquerors towards the conquered and their justice and integrity, quotes a Nestorian Bishop of the time:“These Arabs to whom God has accorded in our days the dominion are become our masters; but they do not combat the Christian religion; much rather they protect our faith; they respect our priests and our holy men, and make gifts to our churches and our convents” (p. 128 [The Caliphate])”” (p. 86)
On the belief that the Kharaj and Jizyah are “Discriminatory Taxes,” Muhammad Ali notes that during the reign of ‘Umar when the whole of Persia “came completely under the rule of Islam” that while “jizyah was imposed in some parts, there were other adjacent parts where the people neither embraced Islam nor paid jizya. They only agreed to render military assistance in time of need.” “In affairs of state, non-Muslims were duly consulted.” ‘Umar also ordered “that old-age pensions must be granted to all the old people among non-Muslim subjects, who must also be exempt from jizyah. Poor-houses for the weak and the disabled were open to Christians just as to Muslims.” (Ibid. pp. 101, 118, resp.)
To say that jizya is a “discriminatory” tax is to “betray ignorance.”
(Those who are jaundiced against jizyah and “dhimmi-tude” must turn their sights to the Biblical Fathers and the Defenders of the Faith –David, Saul, Samuel and Joshua and the Christian conquerors of Jerusalem and Spain– whose victims were shrouded in blood, expelled or forced to convert. Not to mention the 800-year In-quisitions –Medieval, Roman and Spanish– from 1000-1834.
Praise be to Islam’s mercy and tolerance –to jizyah and “dhimmitude”! (See BAT YE’OR-MUSLIMS & EURABIA).
1. Muhammad Ali, The Early Caliphate, p. 41.
2. Muhammad Ali, The Religion of Islam, p. 559.