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Is the Jizya Tax Oppressive?

Bassam Zawadi

Christians have been constantly criticizing Islam's stance regarding Jizya. They say that it is meant to oppress them. Besides the fact that this concept is also found in their Bible I will show that Jizya is not meant to oppress the Christians or Jews.

For those who don't know, the Jizya is a tax imposed on the Christians and Jews living under the protection of the Islamic state. However, it is not imposed on all Christians and Jews. It is only imposed on the men who have attained puberty. So therefore it is not imposed on the women and children. The tax is also imposed fairly and is not meant to be overburdening.

The Jizya tax guarantees the Christians and Jews complete protection under the Islamic state. If an enemy country attacks the Islamic country, the Islamic country has a duty to defend the Christians and Jews and the Christians and Jews are not even obliged to fight!

Muslims also have to pay a yearly tax called Zakat. Zakat is even binding on property, and jewellery. Zakat should also be paid in the form of food as well. The Jizya is not binding on the property of the Christians and Jews.

Christians might use Surah 9:29 to show that Muslims must fight them until they pay the Jizya, so this shows discrimination. However, this also applies to the Muslims who do not pay their Zakat! Abu Bakr fought against the Muslims who didn't pay Zakat. So how does this discriminate against the Christians and Jews?

This is completely justified. If they go against the Islamic rule and government they deserve to be punished. What else was Abu Bakr supposed to do? In America if someone does not pay their taxes they can go to jail. Does that make America unjust? In China they kill tax evaders (A New York Times article describes the context and details of one businessman who was executed in China for tax evasion (11 Mar. 2001). at You have to understand that these are God's laws. It is probably difficult for a non-Muslim to understand this but from the Muslim perspective it is completely justifiable. For God sake people get executed or punished for crimes against man made laws, what do you expect to happen to people that break God's laws?

Zakah is one of the 5 pillars of Islam and it is compulsory on everyone. It is compulsory even on the non-Muslim, this is called Jizya. Jizya does not degrade the non-Muslim people, it actually brings equality. Since the Muslims are obliged to pay Zakah, then why cant non-Muslims pay Jizya? That brings equality between the two.

The Jizya is a tax levied on non-Muslims in lieu of military service which is compulsory for Muslims but not for non-Muslims. The amount of Jizya is much less than the Zakat, which is levied on Muslims only. The non-Muslims paying Jizya were exempt from compulsory military service in a Muslim State but were entitled to full protection. (

Sources Used

Saheeh Bukhari

Volume 2, Book 23, Number 475:

Narrated 'Amr bin Maimun Al-Audi:

I saw 'Umar bin Al-Khattab (when he was stabbed) saying, "O 'Abdullah bin 'Umar! Go to the mother of the believers Aisha and say, 'Umar bin Al-Khattab sends his greetings to you,' and request her to allow me to be buried with my companions." (So, Ibn 'Umar conveyed the message to 'Aisha.) She said, "I had the idea of having this place for myself but today I prefer him ('Umar) to myself (and allow him to be buried there)." When 'Abdullah bin 'Umar returned, 'Umar asked him, "What (news) do you have?" He replied, "O chief of the believers! She has allowed you (to be buried there)." On that 'Umar said, "Nothing was more important to me than to be buried in that (sacred) place. So, when I expire, carry me there and pay my greetings to her ('Aisha ) and say, 'Umar bin Al-Khattab asks permission; and if she gives permission, then bury me (there) and if she does not, then take me to the grave-yard of the Muslims. I do not think any person has more right for the caliphate than those with whom Allah's Apostle (p.b.u.h) was always pleased till his death. And whoever is chosen by the people after me will be the caliph, and you people must listen to him and obey him," and then he mentioned the name of 'Uthman, 'Ali, Talha, Az-Zubair, 'Abdur-Rahman bin 'Auf and Sad bin Abi Waqqas.

By this time a young man from Ansar came and said, "O chief of the believers! Be happy with Allah's glad tidings. The grade which you have in Islam is known to you, then you became the caliph and you ruled with justice and then you have been awarded martyrdom after all this." 'Umar replied, "O son of my brother! Would that all that privileges will counterbalance (my short comings), so that I neither lose nor gain anything. I recommend my successor to be good to the early emigrants and realize their rights and to protect their honor and sacred things. And I also recommend him to be good to the Ansar who before them, had homes (in Medina) and had adopted the Faith. He should accept the good of the righteous among them and should excuse their wrongdoers. I recommend him to abide by the rules and regulations concerning the Dhimmis (protectees) of Allah and His Apostle, to fulfill their contracts completely and fight for them and not to tax (overburden) them beyond their capabilities."

Also see (Volume 5, Book 57, Number 50)

Volumn 009, Book 088, Hadith Number 208.
Narated By Hudhaifa : Allah's Apostle related to us, two prophetic narrations one of which I have seen fulfilled and I am waiting for the fulfillment of the other. The Prophet told us that the virtue of honesty descended in the roots of men's hearts (from Allah) and then they learned it from the Qur'an and then they learned it from the Sunna (the Prophet's traditions). The Prophet further told us how that honesty will be taken away: He said: "Man will go to sleep during which honesty will be taken away from his heart and only its trace will remain in his heart like the trace of a dark spot; then man will go to sleep, during which honesty will decrease further still, so that its trace will resemble the trace of blister as when an ember is dropped on one's foot which would make it swell, and one would see it swollen but there would be nothing inside. People would be carrying out their trade but hardly will there be a trustworthy person. It will be said, 'in such-and-such tribe there is an honest man,' and later it will be said about some man, 'What a wise, polite and strong man he is!' Though he will not have faith equal even to a mustard seed in his heart." No doubt, there came upon me a time when I did not mind dealing (bargaining) with anyone of you, for if he was a Muslim his Islam would compel him to pay me what is due to me, and if he was a Christian, the Muslim official would compel him to pay me what is due to me, but today I do not deal except with such-and-such person.

Saheeh Muslim

Book 001, Hadith Number 0029.
Chapter : Command for fighting against the people so long as they do not profess that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger.

It is narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira that when the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) breathed his last and Abu Bakr was appointed as his successor (Caliph), those amongst the Arabs who wanted to become apostates became apostates. 'Umar b. Khattab said to Abu Bakr: Why would you fight against the people, when the Messenger of Allah declared: I have been directed to fight against people so long as they do not say: There is no god but Allah, and he who professed it was granted full protection of his property and life on my behalf except for a right? His (other) affairs rest with Allah. Upon this Abu Bakr said: By Allah, I would definitely fight against him who severed prayer from Zakat, for it is the obligation upon the rich. By Allah, I would fight against them even to secure the cord (used for hobbling the feet of a camel) which they used to give to the Messenger of Allah (as Zakat) but now they have withheld it. Umar b. Khattab remarked: By Allah, I found nothing but the fact that Allah had opened the heart of Abu Bakr for (perceiving the justification of) fighting (against those who refused to pay Zakat) and I fully recognized that the (stand of Abu Bakr) was right.

Malik Muwatta

Book 17, Number 17.24.46:

Yahya related to me from Malik that he had heard that Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz wrote to his governors telling them to relieve any people who payed the jizya from paying the jizya if they became muslims.

Malik said, "The sunna is that there is no jizya due from women or children of people of the Book, and that jizya is only taken from men who have reached puberty. The people of dhimma and the magians do not have to pay any zakat on their palms or their vines or their crops or their livestock. This is because zakat is imposed on the muslims to purify them and to be given back to their poor, whereas jizya is imposed on the people of the Book to humble them. As long as they are in the country they have agreed to live in, they do not have to pay anything on their property except the jizya. If, however, they trade in muslim countries, coming and going in them, a tenth is taken from what they invest in such trade. This is because jizya is only imposed on them on conditions, which they have agreed on, namely that they will remain in their own countries, and that war will be waged for them on any enemy of theirs, and that if they then leave that land to go anywhere else to do business they will haveto pay a tenth. Whoever among them does business with the people of Egypt, and then goes to Syria, and then does business with the people of Syria and then goes to Iraq and does business with them and then goes on to Madina, or Yemen, or other similar places, has to pay a tenth.

People of the Book and magians do not have to pay any zakat on any of their property, livestock, produce or crops. The sunna still continues like that. They remain in the deen they were in, and they continue to do what they used to do. If in any one year they frequently come and go in muslim countries then they have to pay a tenth every time they do so, since that is outside what they have agreed upon, and not one of the conditions stipulated for them. This is what I have seen the people of knowledge of our city doing." (Zakat on property) (Zakat on jewellery) (Zakat in the form of food)