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Jizyah or jizya (جزية) is the extra, lunar-yearly tax imposed on Dhimmis, that is non-Muslims who live under Muslim rule according to the Qur'an and hadith (quotes can be found at Qur'an, Hadith and Scholars:Jizyah). It is the the linchpin of the system of religious apartheid and Islamic supremacism which is the dhimma. Its payment is both a payment for the cessation of the state of Jihad upon the dhimmi, as well as a sign of the humiliation and degradation of the dhimmi before the authority of Islamic religion. The jizya itself was only one of many special taxes paid by non-Muslims to their Muslim governments, but amongst them it is the only one which was specifically delineated in the Qur'an. Other taxes on non-Muslims such as the kharaaj were often equated with and sometimes used interchangeably with the word jizya in Arabic and other languages of Islamic empires. Unlike with the other taxes, various other traditions of humiliation and abuse accompanied the jizya; the dhimma was required to pay it عن يد "'an yadin" that is "by hand" and صاغرون "saaghiruun" that is "humiliated/lowered/in subjugation." As such the traditional mufassirun have decreed that while paying the tax the dhimmi must receive blows about the head and/or neck from the Muslim collecting it to symbolize his humiliated state, and Islamic fuqahaa' (legal scholars) throughout the ages have reiterated the legislation of this humiliating practice throughout the ages. Upon payment of the tax the dhimmi would receive a receipt of payment, either in the form of a piece of paper or parchment or as a seal humiliatingly placed upon their neck, and was thereafter compelled to carry this receipt wherever he went within the realms of Islam. Failure to produce an up-to-date jizya receipt on the request of a Muslim could result in death or forced conversion to Islam of the dhimmi in question .
Jews and Christians were required to pay the jizyah while pagans were required to either accept Islam or die.
The jizya's origin is found in the Qur'an:
The text is clear that the tax is a sign of their submission to the Muslims. Its role is thus not only fiduciary but also social; it is a sign of vilification and humiliation which the person of the book under Muslim rule (id est, the dhimmi) must suffer as the price for the right to live under Muslim rule. The Arabic text is specific that the dhimmi must pay the jizya عن يد "'an yadin" that is "by hand" and صاغرون "saaghiruun" that is humiliated and lowered.
The institution of the dhimma and its linchpin the jizya is in Islamic fiqh part and parcel to the larger theory of Jihad in Islamic Law. Paying the tax is one of the three choices that Muslims imams (leaders) are to offer infidels before declaring jihad upon them:
Once a land is conquered by Islamic armies the ruler must impose a taxation on those non-Muslims who will not convert to Islam.
Jizyah is paid as a sign of submission and humiliation and gives Dhimmis some legal protection in return. Under dhimmitude (the status that Islamic law, the Sharia, mandates for non-Muslims) Dhimmis usually are not allowed to carry arms to protect themselves, serve in the army or government, display symbols of their faith, build or repair places of worship etc. Further stipulations can include the requirement for dhimmis to dress differently, live in inferior houses, use inferior transport, and oblige themselves to the feeding and housing of Muslims as needed. If the conquered do not wish to pay or convert, their fate may very well be slavery (under which, rape is permitted) or (as evidenced in the quotes above) death.
The amount of the Jizyah tax was based on income  and the way it was collected varied from time to time and from place to place, but when imposed, the forced payment of Jizyah greatly stimulated the conversion of non-Muslims into Islam. In some cases the taxation of the non-Muslims was so profitable that some Islamic rulers discouraged their subjects from converting to Islam, lest they should lose their income.
Historical Precedents and Influences
Jizyah was not entirely an Islamic initiative or the innovation of its prophet Muhammad. A certain form of Jizyah had existed among the tribes of Northern Arabia in pre-Islamic times. This fact is attested by the famous historian Philip. K. Hitti in his History of Arabs. Ghazw (غزو) or raiding others for feeding mouths was an accepted norm among the Bedouin tribes of that time. As Hitti noted, "Ghazw was a manly occupation of Bedouins where fighting mood was a chronic mental condition". For people among the tribes, everything that belonged to the other tribes guaranteeing material gain made a legitimate target. The context made it necessary for a weaker tribe or a sedentary settlement on the borderland to buy protection from the stronger tribe by paying what it then called Khuwwah which later became Jizyah in Muhammad’s Islam. Along with the booty acquired through raids and wars, Jizyah turned out to be a good source of income for believers.
The Jizya Verse and Commentary
The jizya is meant both as a means of exploiting the dhimmi community, and as method of humiliating them, as ibn Kathir makes clear in his tafsir on the jizya verse from surat-at-Taubah:
The jizyah is a sign of how miserable the dhimmis are, and as such good Muslims should avoid contact with them. Its function is thus not only to fill the coffers of the Islamic state, but also to seperate the Muslims from the dhimmis by way of the humiliation and villification of the later. In order that the seperation be maintained, the system of the dhimma includes many discriminatory laws meant to visual mark the dhimmis as different from the Muslims. In addition, the dhimmi is required to keep the receipt of his payment of the jizya at all times and to provide it upon request to Muslim officials. Failure to produce the receipt of payment for the jizya could result in fines, imprisonment, or even death depending on the time period and place of the infraction.
Approval from Islamic Scholars
The theory of the jizyah (and related taxes such as the kharaaj land tax) are well developed in Islamic fiq literature. Generations of scholars have spilled their ink on the subject. Although many differing opinions do exist within the topic, never the less the fuquhaa' (legal scholars) generally agree throughout the ages on the main points: the jizyah is to be a burden financially on the dhimmi, its collection is mandatory, failure to pay it can and should result in imprisonment, loss of property or death, the payer of the tax must do it in person before a Muslim official, and they must be phyisically humiliated during the act. Furthermore, the dhimmi must be able to produce at request proof of the payment of the tax to the Muslims; failure to produce proof of payment takes him from the status of a dhimmi to a harbi, whose blood can be legally spilled.
Saudi Sheikh Muhammad bin Abd Al-Rahman Al-'Arifi, Imam of the mosque of King Fahd Defense Academy, imagines the coming Muslim conquest of the Vatican:
[The Islamic State] cannot allow that they should remain supreme rulers in any place and establish wrong ways and impose them on others. As this state of things inevitably produces chaos and disorder, it is the duty of the true Muslims to exert their utmost to bring to an end their wicked rule and bring them under a righteous order.As regards the question, "What do the non-Muslims get in return for Jizyah?" it may suffice to say that it is the price of the freedom which the Islamic State allows them in following their erroneous ways, while living in the jurisdiction of Islam and enjoying its protection. The money thus collected is spent in maintaining the righteous administration that gives them the freedom and protects their rights. This also serves as a yearly reminder to them that they have been deprived of the honor of paying Zakat in the Way of Allah, and forced to pay jizyah instead as a price of following the ways of error.
Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi, Tafhim al-Qur'an
Jizyah in History
Although many aspects of the dhimma were not enforced in many places and times throughout Islamic history, the jizyah and associated taxes such as the kharaj were not one of these aspects. Consistently throughout Islamic history, in accordance with the Islamic doctrine that the dhimmis and all of their economic output constitute the fay of the Islamic state and ummah in perpetuity, the jizyah and related taxes were extracted from the dhimmi peoples with stark consistency. Unlike many other aspects of the dhimma which did fall out use in time (although many were brought back later), Islamic states also came up with new taxes on the dhimmis, such as the "blood tax" of the devshirme in the Ottoman Empire, whereby the first born sons of the rayah (dhimmis, literally flock of animals) would be collected, forcibly converted to Islam and pressed into the service of the Sultan's elite military corps, the janissaries.
Muslim empires from Spain to Bangladesh and everywhere in between implemented the jizyah. Although theoretically only applicable to Jews and Christians, a "sahih" hadith exists in which the Prophet commanded that Zoroastrians be subject to the jizyah. Although Islamic scholars initially laid down the death penalty, practical considerations forced the Hanafi school of jurisprudence in India to countenance the collection of the jizyah from Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and other non-people of the book "mushrikuun" or "polytheists" in the Islamic empires of India, since killing or forcibly converting the hundreds of millions of polytheists in the subcontinent was impractical for pre-modern pre-industrial age states. As the Hanafi school was the main school followed by Indian Muslims, this ruling is peculiar to them; the other 3 mainstream schools of Sunni fiqh and the salafis maintain that the polytheists should only be offered the choice of the sword or conversion to Islam by the imam of the Islamic state.
Mohammed Yousuf, Journal of Turkish Weekly, May 19, 2005
The Ottoman empire imposed jizya on its Jewish and Christian subjects. Jizya collected from these communities was one of the main sources of income of the Ottoman treasury. The empire abolished it in 1856, but this action was dubbed as "cosmetic" because they replaced it with bedel-i askeri, a tax on non-Muslims in return for their exemption from military services.
Jizyah in the Modern World
The practice of collecting any special tax from non-Muslims came to a complete end with the annhilation of the Ottoman Caliphate after the end of the 1st world war. No Islamic country including the Islamic Republic of Iran currently engages in the practice. Never the less, Islamic scholars today continue to call for the re-institution of the jizyah, and extremist groups in places like Iraq and Syria, including the Islamic State (AKA Daesh AKA ISIL AKA ISIS) have reinstituted the collection of the jizyah from the "people of the book", overwhelmingly local Christians, in the areas where they have taken military control from established governments.
Sandro Magister, Chiesa News, December 29, 2005
The Associated Press, Fox News, May 07, 2007
Threats against Sikhs and Hindus are but the latest in a series of warnings against religious minorities in the NWFP, including Christians who have had to pay jizya and submit to Sharia.“We were living under fear: fear of the Taliban, fear of Lashkar-e-Islam and fear of other armed groups,” a Sikh man told the Daily Times
Fareed Khan, Asia News, July 28, 2009
Mobeena, [the Christians sister], told ICC, “Suqlain is still free and hanging around. The government has done nothing to help us, even though my brother is a prominent businessman. We feel insecure, our children are too scared to go out anymore - please help us, we need justice.”
Jeremy Reynalds, ASSIST News Service, July 22, 2009
“Before 2003, there were around 2.1 million Christians in Iraq, but now there are not more than 500,000 of them,” Masho said.He criticized the Iraqi government for being unable to protect Christians, and said that it did not even fulfill its promises to compensate them.
Aswat al-Iraq, December 26, 2009
He was given a deadline of less than a week to pay them 10,000 kroner (1,800 USD) if he wanted to live in the area. Police told him that they could no longer guarantee his safety in Mjølnerparken [Muslim ghetto in Copenhagen, Denmark]. When Lejerbo (the company renting out apartments in the area) found him, he was crying and had slept on the street.
Nicolai Sennels (Translator), Weekendavisen (Danish daily, not online), March 1, 2012
. . .
"It is over; we can't get back what we lost," said one discouraged Christian refugee here in Jordan. "It will never be the same anymore for me or my family. We've lost hope." He said he had to flee with his family at night, because anti-Christian persecution in Syria is becoming a steadily growing reality.
"I had my own business. I ran a supermarket, and we were financially stable. Unfortunately, that's not the case anymore. Our dreams vanished when a group of terrorists threatened to kill my family, burn our house, and set fire to the supermarket if I didn't pay them $7,000.
"I paid the amount, hoping that they would leave us alone, but they did not. Instead, they kidnapped me for a whole week. They only let me go on one condition: that each month I would pay them the same amount."What do you think I could do? I fled. I packed our stuff, taking only the basics. I took my family and came to Jordan. My son, Omar, has one year left to finish his bachelor's degree, but now his dreams have vanished as well. I used to be a business owner...but now I am a laborer who can hardly provide the day-to-day basics for my family."
MNN, April 19, 2012
Agenzia Fides, August 31, 2012
Kalyan himself was picked up by militants and offered three options: To embrace Islam, to become part of their jihad or to pay a sum of Rs500 million.
“I could not even consider the first two options. I was released when residents intervened and the Sikh community paid Rs6.5 million as Jizya (protection money for non-Muslims),” Kalyan said.Residents left the area within half an hour of the warning, leaving most of their valuables behind.
Umer Farooq, The Express Tribune, October 5, 2012
Other Islamic Taxes
Muslims also had to pay a tax called Zakat. However, this zakat is a 2.5% tax, while the jizyah (which can vary) is about a 10% income tax (although it has been known to be as high as 50%). Muslims are obligated to pay this so-called "charity tax" even today, as its one of the five pillars of Islam. But, instead of paying it to the state, they now pay zakat to charities of their choice. It must however be noted that the majority of Islamic scholars are of the view that non-Muslims should not benefit from this alms giving, which is why mainstream Islamic charities, like Islamic Relief, almost exclusively focusing their humanitarian work in Muslim majority nations or areas in non-Muslim countries which are heavily populated by Muslim minorities. In the aftermath of the 2010 Pakistan floods, many Christian survivors were denied aid supplied by Muslim charities as a result.
The Encyclopædia Britannica
The Umayyad caliph Umar II made non-Arab converts to Islam pay kharaj as a compensation for the diminished jizya tax base.
- The Hedaya, a 12th-century legal manual considered one of the most influential books of Hanafi Islamic law, states that a tithe on wine and pork should be collected from dhimmis and polytheists whenever they pass by any collector's office in an Islamic state.
- Rav akçesi, also called "rabbi tax," was imposed on Jewish communities in the Ottoman Empire.
- Mughal emperor Aurangzeb (1618-1707), known for persecuting non-Muslims under his rule, used to collect a customs duty called sair-jihat. It was applicable on the sale of sundry objects, including cloth, oil, grains, food, horses, camels, and animal skins. The rate was fixed according to the religion of the payer. Hindu merchants paid 5 per cent, Christians 4 per cent and Muslims 2.5 per cent. Later, he exempted Muslims completely from this tax.
- A version of this page is also available in the following languages: Bulgarian. For additional languages, see the sidebar on the left.
- The Jizyah Tax: Equality And Dignity Under Islamic Law?
- Payments to Hamas as Jizyah (Archived)
- Jizyah - Wikipedia (Additional information and contains some more Hadith references)
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