Jizya across the Islamic History

The jizya is a substitute for the military protection that the Islamic state carries out for the people of its dhimma=Non-Muslims Citizens of an Islamic country, in the first place.

The Jizya= tribute tax that the dhimma=Non-Muslims Citizens paid was only in return for their protection first and replacement for the military service in the Muslim army and to prevent them from feeling torn apart between the allegiance and loyalty to the Muslim Government or towards the enemies of Islam who might be from their own religion.

This is what the Muslim leader Abu Obeida did when his deputies informed him about the cities of the Levant (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan area) when the gathering of the Roman legions begun, so he wrote to them to return the jizya=tribute to the non-Muslim citizens who paid it to Muslims [1].

When Abu Obeida bin Al-Jarrah conquered the Levant (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan area) and took the jizya=tribute from the non-Muslims who were still on their religion at that time.

Those non-Muslims who paid the jizya=tribute to the Muslim leader Abu Obeida bin Al-Jarrah or one of his deputies stipulated that he and Muslims protect them from the Romans who were inflicting a dreadful torment and persecution on them.

When the Muslim leader Aba Obeida heard about those requests, he decided to return the jizya=tribute to his non-Muslim people, and said to them:

You have heard of Heraclius preparing for us, and you have stipulated that we protect you, and we are not able to do that, and we are to you on the condition that God grant us victory over Romans headed by Heraclius [2].

Has anyone ever heard of something like that in history?!

The Muslim commander of a victorious conquering Muslim army takes a jizya=tribute from the non-Muslim people of the conquered countries, then returns it to them in any way?!

Pages of Islamic history are wide open for those who want to explore, it is a unique event in history.

Abu Obeida did not return monetary jizya=tribute to the non-Muslims while looking for a later distant “interest or benefit” that he covertly appreciated and sacrificed for its sake such monetary jizya=tribute he and Muslims already received.

Abu Obeida had no certainty that he and Muslims would defeat the huge army of Heraclius, and his expression is clear:

 “And we cannot do that.” Rather, it proceeds from the principle on which Islam brought them up at the hands of the Messenger of God – Allah blessings and peace be upon him – fulfilling the covenants, regardless Muslims will gain personal benefits of not.

“And do not be like she who untwisted her spun thread after it was strong [by] taking your oaths as [means of] deceit between you because one community is more plentiful [in number or wealth] than another community. Allah only tries you thereby. And He will surely make clear to you on the Day of Resurrection that over which you used to differ.” Surah An-Nah=Chapter the Bee (16:92)

This great high level of morality in Islam, which Abu Ubaidah adhered to, had the effect that God decreed for him. God helped him over the army of Heraclius, so the people began to return the jizya= tribute with the satisfaction of their hearts, then – after – they started to accept Islam the true religion of God in groups.

Out of admiration for Islam, which brings out those who are of this great character [3].

The well-known historian Sir Thomas Arnold clarifying and explaining this fact in his book “The Call to Islam” about the purpose of the jizya=tribute obligation, and on whom it was imposed, he said:

“The purpose of imposing this the jizya=tribute=Islamic tax on Christians was not – as some biased researchers want us to think it as –

A form of punishment for their refusal to accept Islam, but they used to perform it with the rest of the dhimmis=all non-Muslim subjects of the wider Islamic state whose religion was transferred between them and service in the army.

Paying jizya=tribute=Islamic tax by dhimmis=all non-Muslim subjects was in return for the protection guaranteed to Islam via the swords of Muslims, and when the people of Al-Hira offered the agreed money, they mentioned Frankly, they only paid this jizya=tribute on the condition that they will stop paying it, if the Muslims and their rulers start to oppress them. [4]

It also happened that the great companion of Prophet Muhammed peace be upon him, Khalid ibn Al-Waleed, recorded in the treaty he concluded with some of the residents of the neighboring towns of Hira, saying: “If we prevent you ‘from being attacked by the enemies”, then we will have the jizya=tribute=Islamic tax, otherwise not” [5]

The jizya=tribute=Islamic tax is also waived by the participation of the dhimmis=Non-Muslims Citizen of Islamic country with the Muslims in fighting and defending the homeland of Islam which is their homeland too against the enemies of Islam.

This was expressly stated in some of the covenants and agreements that were concluded between Muslims and the people of dhimmis=Non-Muslims Citizen of Islamic country during the era of Omar Ibn Al-Khattab – may God be pleased with him [6].

As for the method and time of collecting the jizya=tribute=Islamic tax, the author of the book “Islam and the People of Dhimmah=Non-Muslims Citizen of Islamic country [7] says, taking from the most reliable sources: “The jizya=tribute was collected once every year in the lunar months [8]

And it was allowed to pay the jizya=tribute in cash or an item equals the monetary value, but it was not allowed to offer the dead. Or pork or wine instead of the tax, and Omar Ibn Al-Khattab ordered to reduce the burden on the people of the dhimmis=Non-Muslims Citizen of Islamic country.

And he said: whoever could not bear the jizya=the tribute, reduce it, and whoever is unable, help him, we do not want them for a year or two [9] and the Islamic state often delays the date of paying the tribute until the agricultural crops are ripe.

So that the people of dhimma=Non-Muslims Citizen of Islamic country can perform it without making it burdensome to them, Abu Ubaid said: The delay was only directed at the yield to be kind to them” [10].

And the Islamic state followed kindness and mercy in collecting the jizya=the tribute=tax. One of Omar Ibn Al-Khattab’s workers came to him with the jizya=the tribute money, and Omar found it in abundance, so he said to his worker:

I think you have destroyed people? He said: No, by God, we only collect it with grace and without causing any hardships.

Omar said: Without a whip, and no medal? He said: Yes, Omar said: “Praise be to God who did not place this on my hands, nor on my authority” [11].

Islam, when it imposed the jizya on the heads of those who came under the control of the Muslims, was neither harsh nor unjust, but rather was completely just. Because he did not legislate it and hit it on their necks except to be in return for what was much less imposed on Muslims of almsgiving=zakat, which is an act of worship that is not valid for an infidel=non-Muslim.

Thus, equality is achieved between the two parties in giving part of their money to be spent in its legitimate places, including the sustenance of the soldiers and state utilities.

They only spent their money so that they might have what we have, and they have what we owe.” [12]

And it was said: We impose the jizya on their necks; The penalty for protecting their blood, not enslaving them, as well as the penalty for protecting and defending them.

And it was obligatory in replacement of supporting the fight beside the Muslims who defend the abode of Islam in which they are, and they were supposed to participate in that themselves, were it not that they do not believe in Islam.

Their inclination towards the enemies of Islam by insisting on their disbelief, and if they do not participate in the fight by themselves, then there is nothing less than sharing some of their money for the cause of defending the homeland of Islam which is their homeland as well.

Whatever the reason for imposing the jizya on the necks of the people of dhimmis=non-Muslims, Islam makes it imperative for Muslims to:

  1. Must undertake to non-Muslim citizens “if they pay the jizya=the tribute money”

with two rights:

  1. Muslims must abstain from obstructing non-Muslims citizen from exercising their citizenship rights.
  2. Protect them, so that they may be safe, and with protection they are guarded [13].

Unacceptable view about the jizya=the tribute= Islamic tax on non-Muslim citizens in Islam

This, and we must not fail to point out about what came in the Hanafi books that the jizya contains the meaning of punishment, and that the one who is obligated to pay it by himself, and it is not accepted by his agent or messenger, and that non-Muslim pays it while standing and the Muslim who is collecting it should be sitting and that it is taken with strength, and the non-Muslim should be shaken violently, and it is said to him:

Pay the tribute, dhimmi=Non-Muslim Citizen of Islamic country, or you enemy of God; to humiliate him.

All these abovementioned behaviors go against the mercy and tolerance of Islam and what was known of the good treatment of the Messenger – may Allah peace and blessing be upon him- and his companions to the people of dhimmis=non-Muslims do not agree.

And we should NOT understand from the words of God Almighty in this verse: “Until they pay the tax, willingly submitting, fully humbled” Surah At-Tawbah=Chapter the repentance. Qurna (9:29)

The meaning of submission here is not humiliation or insulting them or gloating about them

Rather, what it meant is their acknowledgment of the Islamic sovereignty, and their submission to its rulings, and that everything else is below it, which is the meaning referred to in the noble verse:

“And to Allah belongs [all] honor, and to His Messenger, and to the believers, but the hypocrites do not know.

[Al-Munafiq: 8]; That is, they recognize the glory of Islam and the state of Muslims.

The correct understanding about of Islam:

The Jizya= tribute tax that the dhimma=Non-Muslims Citizens paid was only in return for their protection first and replacement for the military service in the Muslim army and to prevent them from feeling torn apart between the allegiance and loyalty to the Muslim Government or towards the enemies of Islam who might be from their own religion.

Nothing in Islam called convert to Islam or die, the jizya=the tribute= Islamic tax on non-Muslim citizens in Islam is the compensation for protection. If the Muslims are unable to do so, then there is no tax, as Abu Ubaidah did with the people of Levant (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan area)

To confirm that Muslims did NOT view the jizya=the tribute= Islamic tax on non-Muslim citizens in Islam is the compensation for protection as a punishment for the dhimmis=non-Muslims.

For if the punishment would have never been forfeited, and if the people of the dhimma =Non-Muslim Citizen of Islamic country participated in protection and defense, then there is NO jizya=the tribute= Islamic tax either

And they have the right of good treatment and good care as a duty upon the Muslims, so they are not wronged, nor harmed, and they are not charged with more than what they can bear.

After all that how can Islamophobes nowadays claim falsely of insult and humiliation had been done to non-Muslims under Islam reign in the past centuries?!

The existence of tens of millions of native Christians and their thousands of churches in Arabic and Islamic countries is concrete crystal-clear evidence of the mercy and tolerance of Islam.

In fact, some Arabic and Islamic governments took it step further by funding the construction of new churches, temples, and other places of worship for non-Muslims, Dubai as an instant example.

And if the first Muslims had done what those Islamophobes falsely claim, who did not understand the spirit of Islam as explained, the non-Muslim people around Muslims would have dispersed and avoided Islam and Muslims.

The large crowd of non-Muslims that did accept and convert to Islam would not have entered it except out of pure conviction and because of Islam great heartedness, forgiveness, and tolerance of Islam true authentic teachings.

Plus, Islam justice and fairness with its followers and non-followers, and its view of all with a look of righteousness justice, and benevolence.

After all of this, it should not be said that Islam, imposed the jizya=the tribute=Islamic tax on the People of the Book, to compel them to convert them out of their religion to Islam.

Because religiosity and being a good Muslim are not through compulsion which generates hypocrisy, hypocrisy is highly condemned in Islam, there is a whole chapter in the Glorious holy Qur’an that condemn hypocrites and their heinous behaviors. Islam commends the true faith in Islam, which is the belief of the heart before it is the action of the limbs.” [14]

Whoever carefully reads everything that Ibn al-Qayyim wrote [15] in his book titled rules about non-Muslims living under Islamic rule “Ahkam Ahl al-Dhimmah” he explained about the jizya=the tribute.

 After such careful read of this book, your deep understanding of the tolerance of Islam in the treatment of the dhimmis non-Muslims living under Islamic rule will grow.

Allah Exalted He says:

“Until they pay the tax, willingly submitting, fully humbled” [Al-Tawbah: 29]

The clarification of the verse is to deny any insult and humiliation to the dhimmis non-Muslims living under Islamic rule, and he declares that all of this is not evidenced by, nor is it required by the verse, nor was it transmitted from the Messenger of God Prophet Muhammed peace and blessing of Allah be upon him – nor any ill-treatment of the dhimmis=non-Muslims living under Islamic rule  were recorded from the Companions of the Prophet [16]. 17].

Imam Ibn al-Qayyim moves from this to the prohibition of assigning dhimmis=non-Muslims living under Islamic rule to what they are unable to do or torturing them to pay the jizya=the tribute tax, or imprisoning them or beating them for their inability to pay it [18],

Imam Ibn al-Qayyim depicts the Islamic point of view in the most accurate representation, as he sees that all the rules of Islamic law=Sharia law requires that the jizya=the tribute tax is not obligatory on the helpless.

Allah Almighty says:

“Allah does not require of any soul beyond what He has given it. After hardship, Allah will bring about ease.” Quran chapter Al-Talaq (65:7).

One of the Golden rules in Islam:

There is no duty with disability, nor prohibition with absolute necessity [19].

Rather, Imam Ibn al-Qayyim declares explicitly in clarification of the verse: that there is no jizya=the tribute tax on an old man, nor blind person, nor a sick person whose recovery is not expected, even if they are affluent [20]

And that the non-Muslim religious clergy, priests, etc. and monks in silos, monasteries and towns are not among the people who fight.

So, jizya=the tribute tax is not obligatory on them [21] Moreover the peasants and farmers who do not engage in any form of fight, and the tillers=farmers have no jizya=tribute to pay to Muslims, because they resemble elders and monks [22].

And that a slave (can mean employee in our modern-day language) does not owe a jizya=tribute to a Muslim or a dhimmi=Non-Muslim Citizen of Islamic country [23].

And that if the Muslims besieged a fortress in which there are only women, and those women offered to pay the tribute to jizya=tribute Muslims to establish the dhimma contract= contractual agreement between them and Muslims to not harm them or enslave them but to prove protection for them.

Then Muslims will protect those women WITHOUT taking any jizya=tribute from them and it is forbidden to enslave them or force them to do things against their will as long as it is peaceful and not harming anyone.

It was forbidden to stress the people of the dhimmis=Non-Muslims Citizen of Islamic country

In jizya=the tribute or tax, and to urge them to be gentle and kind to them in all cases, and not to be burden them with what they cannot bear.

The Great second Caliph=Successor of Prophet Muhammed peace be upon him in the hierarchal political leadership in Islam: Umar Ibn Al-Khattab commanded that the dhimmis=non-Muslims living under Islamic rule should not be charged beyond their ability, and that they should not be obligated out of their money that they genuinely are unable to pay or could not stand his commands [25].

The dhimmis=non-Muslims living under Islamic rule properties MUST NOT auctioned for sale or lease instead of jizya=tribute or to recover it.

The Great fourth Caliph=Successor of Prophet Muhammed peace be upon him in the hierarchal political leadership in Islam: Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him:

Wrote to some of his workers instructing them to: “Do not sell the dhimmis=non-Muslims a donkey or cow, or clothing, winter or summer, for them with their jizya=the tribute tax collection (to avoid embarrassing them to do something against their free will.”

He wrote to some of his workers on their jizya=the tribute tax collection on another occasion:

“If you go to the dhimmis=non-Muslims, then do not sell them clothing, winter or summer, or sustenance to eat, or an animal that they work on, and do not strike any of them with a single whip for a dirham (old Islamic currency), and do not stand still upon dhimmis=non-Muslims to demand a dirham (old currency), and do not allow any violations of their rights or ownerships of anything for anything under the excuse of collecting  jizya=the tribute tax.

We have only been commanded to overlook and forgive honest mistakes, treat people courteously and accept valid excuses from them.

And if you (as Muslim worker) go against what I commanded you, Allah will take you for it (Allah will punish you) even if I did not know that you’re going against my instructions, and if I hear about you otherwise, I will terminate your employment/work for me.” [26]

The Great fourth Caliph: Ali ibn Abi Talib: prohibited every kind of strictness in collecting the jizya from them

And among the rulings that were included in the era of Umar Ibn Al-Khattab – may Allah be pleased with him – to Abu Ubaidah bin Al-Jarrah:

Prevent Muslims from oppressing and harming dhimmis=non-Muslims or violate any of their financial, economic, social, or religious rights in any way shape or form. [27].

One day during his travels to Syria, Umar Ibn Al-Khattab passed by some of his workers while he was abusing some the dhimmis=non-Muslims in paying the tribute, and he said: “Do not torture people, for those who torture people in this world will be tormented by Allah Exalted he on the Day of Resurrection” [28].

Regarding those dhimmis=non-Muslims who deliberately choose not to pay the jizya=the tribute tax out of a rebellious deviant attitude against the Islamic sovereignty. The jurists of Islam allowed those type of dhimmis=non-Muslims be imprisoned for discipline.

That is: they are imprisoned without hard labor, and Imam Abu Yusuf writes: “But they will be accompanied and imprisoned until they pay what they owe [29].

As for those who become poor and needy among the dhimmis=Non-Muslim Citizens of Islamic country, they are not only exempted from the jizya, but also, they receive a charity from the Islamic treasury [31].

Khalid ibn al-Walid – may Allah be pleased with him – wrote to the people of al-Hirah in Iraq during the time of his dhimma=reign that: any non-Muslim person is unable to work and earn due to old age or illness, or poverty or his religious community is giving them charity. He and his dependents would be entitled to regular charity from the Islamic treasury” [32].

As Umar ibn Al-Khattab – may Allah be pleased with him – saw an old man from the people of book, the dhimmis=Non-Muslim Citizens asking him for charity, Umar ibn Al-Khattab asked him:

What is the matter with you? He said: I have no money and the jizya=tribute is taken from me.

And in a narration: Umar ibn Al-Khattab asked: From which of the People of the Book are you? The old man said: A Jew.

Umar ibn Al-Khattab asked the Jew: Why do resort to what I see?

The Jew replied: the Jizya=tribute, the need and old age, so Umar ibn Al-Khattab took him by the hand to his house and gave him what he found, then he sent him to the Muslim treasurer of the Islamic treasury house and said to him: Look at this old Jewish man and his peers.

By Allah we did not do justice if we use his service while he is a young man and betray him once he is old man by taking Jizya=the tribute from him in his old age.

Allah Exalted he says:

“Alms-tax “Zakat” is only for the poor and the needy, for those employed to administer it, for those whose hearts are attracted ˹to the faith˺, for ˹freeing˺ slaves, for those in debt, for Allah’s cause, and for ˹needy˺ travellers. ˹This is˺ an obligation from Allah. And Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.”

Surah At-Tawbah=Chapter the repentance (9:60)

From this above-mentioned glorious verse: It states the categories and types of people who deserve charity to eb given to them such as the poor among Muslims and the needy among the People of the Book. The jizya= tribute was lifted, and Muslims stopped collecting it from that needy old Jewish man and alike. [33].

Also, on his trip to Damascus, Umar ibn Al-Khattab – may Allah be pleased with him – ordered the families of the crippled from the dhimmis=non-Muslims to be given charity from the Islamic treasury [34].

The rights of the dhimmi=Non-Muslim Citizens under Islamic rule

The status of being dhimmi=non-Muslims under Islamic reign did not make the non-Muslim feel alienated or isolated. Rather the dhimmi=non-Muslims preserved his life, freedom of staying on his religion.

The Jizya= tribute tax that the dhimma=Non-Muslims Citizens paid was only in return for their protection first and replacement for the military service in the Muslim army and to prevent them from feeling torn apart between the allegiance and loyalty to the Muslim Government or towards the enemies of Islam who might be from their own religion.

The dhimmi=non-Muslims under Islamic reign enjoys the rights that the Muslims enjoy in the system regulated under the Islamic reign. If Muslims could not protect him, then the dhimmi=non-Muslims do not have to pay Jizya=tribute or tax.

The Islamic treasury was not dearer to the Muslim Caliph Umar bin Abdulaziz more than a dhimmi=non-Muslim who decide to convert to Islam, and some rulers complained to him about the impoverishment of their local Islamic Treasuries because many of the people of dhimmis=non-Muslims are turning to Islam.

So, the Muslim Caliph Umar bin Abdulaziz wrote to them blaming them for complaining and said to them: Allah Exalted he sent Muhammad – Allah peace and blessings be upon him – as guide and he did not send him as a revenue collector.

The dhimmi people’s turn to Islam because it restored to them their selves that they had lost in polytheism and idolatry, and if Islam was a negation of the selves, they would have remained hostile to it, and would not accept Islam.

But the distance between dhimmis=non-Muslims and Islam in many cases was nothing but the distance of experience and mixing and they discovered the difference between their wrong beliefs in Christianity, Judaism or paganism and Islam this is all about monotheism. Islam is the restoration of the original message of Prophet Moses and Prophet Jesus peace be upon all of them [35]

Jizya in Judaism and Christianity

References:

[1] Non-Muslims in the Islamic Society p.: 31-35 Adapted from.

[2] abscess; By Abi Youssef, p.: 139, Adapted, and Fotouh Al-Buldan; By Imam Abu al-Hasan al-Baladhari, pg.: 137, 143 adapted, and the call to Islam, Thomas Arnold, p.: 53, 54.

[3] Our Contemporary Reality p.: 83, 84 Adapted.

[4] The Call to Islam, Sir Thomas Arnold, pp. 57-59, adapted.

[5] abscess; For Abi Youssef p.: 143.

[6] See: the provisions of the dhimmis and those who are trusted in the house of Islam; By Dr. Abdul Karim Zidan, p.: 155 and beyond, and see, for example: Fotouh Al-Buldan; Al-Baladhuri p. 217,

where the representative of Abu Ubaidah corrected the group of “Al-Jarajima” Christians to be helpers of the Muslims and eyes against their enemy, and not to be subject to the tribute…etc.

[7] Islam and the Dhimmis, by Dr.: Ali Hassan al-Kharbutli, p.: 70, 71, Adapted, p. Eastern Advertising Company Press.

[8] Al-Ahkam Al-Sultaniya by Al-Mawardi, p. 145, Adapted.

[9] The history of the city of Damascus; By Ibn Asaker (1: 178) with a disposition.

[10] money; For Abu Obeid p. 61.

[11] Money pg: 63.

[12] Narrated by Abu Yusuf in Al-Kharaj pg: 122, and Badaa’ Al-Sana’i (7: 40), and it is the saying of Ali bin Abi Talib.

[13] Al-Ahkam Al-Sultaniya by Al-Mawardi, p.: 143 Adapted.

[14] Islam and the monotheistic religions; By: Dr. Muhammad Husayn Al-Dhahabi pp. 35, 41 Adapted from Dar Al-Insan for printing, the first year 1399 AH – 1979 AD.

[15] Ibn al-Qayyim is the great Salafi imam Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr ibn Ayyub ibn Saad ibn Hariz al-Zar’i al-Dimashqi, Abu Abd Allah, shams al-Din, best known as Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya; Because his father was in Damascus the custodian of the Al-Jawziyah school, whoever gave his title to the addition called him “Ibn Al-Qayyim.” He was born in a house of knowledge and virtue on the seventh of Safar Al-Khair in the year six hundred and ninety-one,

And he died at the time of the last dinner on the night of Thursday, the thirteenth of Rajab in the year seven hundred and fifty. So, he completed sixty years of his blessed life,

His father had a hand in the religious duties, so he took them from him, and it was allowed for him to receive various sciences from the most prominent sheikhs of memorizers and jurists – and that his elder Sheikh, the revamped Imam Taqi al-Din Ahmed bin Taymiyyah,

who followed him for nearly forty years since he returned from Egypt in 711 AH until he died, enriched the Islamic library with his various books May God have mercy on Ibn al-Qayyim and be pleased with him. See: beginning and end; by Ibn Kathir (14:234), and the pearls hidden in the notables of the eighth hundred; Ibn Hajar, pg: 400.

[16] The provisions of the people of dhimma; Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah (1: 23) adapted, investigated, and commented by Dr. Sobhi Al-Saleh, House of Science for the Third Million, 1983 AD.

[17] The previous source, p.: 24.

[18] The previous source, p.: 34.

[19] Previous source p: 48.

[20] The same source as the previous pg: 49.

[21] Same source as above 55.

[22] Same as the previous source 51.

[23] Same source as above 55.

[24] Same source as the previous 45.

[25] abscess; For Abi Youssef p.: 8, 83.

[26] Al-Kharaj p.: 9.

[27] Al-Kharaj p.: 82.

[28] Ibid. p.: 71.

[29] Ibid., p. 70.

[30] Same pg: 70 adapted.

[31] The Rights of the Dhimmis in the Islamic State, p. 21-25, Adapted.

[32] The Book of Al-Kharaj p. 85.

[33] Kitab al-Kharaj p. 73 Adapted from.

[34] Conquests of countries; For Al-Baladhari, p.: 129, and see: His Eminence of Islam, p. 106-136, Adapted by Omar Ibn Al-Khattab, Muhammad Sobeih, p. 120, 121 Adapted, p. House of General Culture, fifth book.

[35] From the Civilization of Islam p. 34, 35 Adapted.