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Template:Message boxTemplate:Message box In Islamic law, jizya or jizyah (Arabic: جزْية) is a per capita tax imposed on adult males of other faiths under Muslim rule.



The imposition of jizya upon non-Muslims is mandated by Sura 9.29 of the Qur'an.

Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold forbidden that which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.1

Shakir and Khalifa's English translations of the Qur'an render jizya as "tax", while Pickthal translates it as "tribute". Yusuf Ali prefers to transliterate the term as jizyah.


Commentators disagree on the definition and derivation of the word jizya:

  • Yusuf Ali states "The derived meaning, which became the technical meaning, was a poll-tax levied from those who did not accept Islam, but were willing to live under the protection of Islam, and were thus tacitly willing to submit to its ideals being enforced in the Muslim State."
  • Monqiz As-Saqqar attributes the word jizya to the root word jaza meaning "compensate", and defines it as "a sum of money given in return for protection".[1] (http://bismikaallahuma.org/History/jizya-islam.htm)
  • Shaikh Sayed Sabiq, in the Fiqh Alsunna (a commonly used source of fiqh), also states that the underlying root of the word jizya is jaza, and defines it as "A sum of money to be put on anyone who enters the themah (protection and the treaty of the muslims) from the people of the book".[2] (http://www.jannah.org/articles/jizyah.html)
  • Ibn Al-Mutaraz derives the word from from 'idjz, meaning "substitute" or "sufficiency" because "it suffices as a substitute for the dhimmi's embracement of Islam."[3] (http://bismikaallahuma.org/History/jizya-islam.htm)
  • Al-Marghinani, in his classical 12th century legal commentary The Hedaya (or al Hidayah), states that jizya means "retribution", and defines it as "a species of punishment, inflicted upon infidels on account of their infidelity, whence it is termed Jizyat"[4] (http://voi.org/books/jihad/app2.htm)
  • Yusuf al-Qaradawi says the word jizya is derived from the jazaa', meaning "reward", "return", or "compensation", and defines it as "a payment by the non-Muslim according to an agreement signed with the Muslim state".[5] (http://www.islamonline.net/askaboutislam/display.asp?hquestionID=4429)
  • E.W. Lane, in An Arabic-English Lexicon defines jizya as a "tax that is taken from the free non-Muslim subjects of a Muslim government whereby they ratify the compact that assures them protection, as though it were compensation for not being slain".[6] (http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=16235)

In practice the word is applied to a special type of tax levied on those who did not accept Islam.


Jizya was applied to every free adult male member of the People of the Book, and/or non-Muslim living in lands under Muslim rule. There was no amount permanently fixed for it, though the payment usually depended on wealth: the Kitab al-Kharaj of Abu Yusuf sets the amounts at 48 dirhams for the richest (e.g. moneychangers), 24 for those of moderate wealth, and 12 for craftsmen and manual laborers.2 Females, children, the poor, and hermits were exempt from it. The disabled and elderly were exempt unless they were independently wealthy, as were mendicant monks—those living in productive monasteries had to pay. Historically Muslim rulers also attempted to collect jizya from Hindus, Sikhs and Zoroastrians under their rule. The collection of the tax was often the duty of the elders of those communities.

In return, those who paid the jizya were not required to serve in the military and were considered under the protection of the Muslim state, with certain rights and responsibilities. Non-Muslims were also exempt from zakat, or mandatory charity imposed on Muslims. In addition, if a non-Muslim chose to serve in the army, he would be exempt from the jizya. If he refused to pay the jizya, he might be imprisoned, as Abu Yusuf recommended. 3

Islamic Legal commentary

Al-Mawardi (the famous Shafi’i jurist of Baghdad), stated in al-Ahkam as-Sultaniyyah (The Laws of Islamic Governance) that jizya is paid by the enemy in return for peace, and if the payment of jizya ceases, then jihad is resumed.[7] (http://www.secularislam.org/articles/bostom.htm)

Syed Abu-Ala' Maududi's Chapter Introductions to the Quran states that Muslims were enjoined to tolerate the "misguidance" of non-Muslims "only to the extent that they might have the freedom to remain misguided if they chose to be so provided that they paid Jizyah as a sign of their subjugation to the Islamic State."[8] (http://www.islam101.com/quran/maududi/i009.htm)

Malik, in Al-Muwatta (Book 17, Number 17.24.45), protests the practice of appropriating livestock from dhimmis, and states livestock should only be taken as jizya. In Book 17, Number 17.24.46 he states that the sunnah is that jizya is only taken from male dhimmis and Zoroastrians who have reached puberty. They do not have to pay zakat, as its purpose is to purify Muslims, whereas jizya is imposed on People of the Book to humble them. If they remain in one country, then they pay no other property taxes; however, if they do business in multiple Muslim countries, then they have to pay ten percent of the value of the traded goods each time they move to another country. The reason given is that jizya is imposed on the conditions (which they have agreed to) that they will stay in one country, and have war waged on their behalf by Muslim armies, but if they do business in multiple countries, then this is outside the stipulated agreements and conditions for jizya, and therefore they must pay ten percent each time. Malik also states that this was the practice in his city. Finally, in Book 21, Number 21.19.49a Malik states that when one collects jizya from a people who surrendered peacefully, then they are allowed to keep their land and property. However, if they are overcome in battle and forced to give jizya, then their land and property become booty for Muslims.

Al-Zamakhshari, a commentator on the Qur'an, said that "the Jizyah shall be taken from them with belittlement and humiliation. The dhimmi shall come in person, walking not riding. When he pays, he shall stand, while the tax collector sits. The collector shall seize him by the scruff of the neck, shake him, and say "Pay the Jizyah!" and when he pays it he shall be slapped on the nape of the neck."

Abu Yusuf, in his Kitab al-Kharaj, wrote that "[n]o one of the ahl al-dhimma should be beaten in order to exact payment of the jizya, nor made to stand in the hot sun, nor should hateful things be inflicted upon their bodies, or anything of that sort. Rather, they should be treated with leniency. [. . .] It is proper, O Commander of the Faithful--may Allah be your support--that you treat leniently those people who have a contract of protection from your Prophet and cousin, Muhammad--may Allah bless him and grant him peace. You should look after them, so that they are not oppressed, mistreated, or taxed beyond their means." 4


Jizya is mentioned a number of times in the hadith. Common themes across multiple hadith (and often multiple collections of hadith) include Muhammad ordering his military commanders to fight non-Muslims until they accepted Islam or paid the jizya, Muhammad and Umar imposing jizya on various peoples, and the eventual abolition of jizya by Jesus.

Sunan Abu-Dawud

  • Sunan Abu-Dawud Book 13, Number 2955 mentions that Umar ibn al-Khattab levied jizya on non-Muslims in return for providing protection to them.
  • Book 19, Number 2955 has Umar ibn al-Khattab stating that he provided protection for non-Muslims by levying jizya on them, and neither took one-fifth from it, nor took it as booty.
  • Book 19, Number 3031 states that Muhammad captured Ukaydir, the Christian prince of Dumah, and spared his life and made peace with him on the condition that he paid jizya.
  • Book 37, Number 4310 states that Jesus will come again, and at that time will (among other things) abolish jizya, as Allah will "perish all religions except Islam".[9] (http://www2.iiu.edu.my/deed/hadith/abudawood/032_sat.html)

Sahih Bukhari

  • Sahih Bukhari Volume 2, Book 24, Number 559 states that the King of Aila wrote to Muhammad that his people agreed to pay the jizya tax in return for being allowed to stay in their place.
  • Volume 3, Book 34, Number 425 states that Jesus will abolish the jizya, as does Volume 4, Book 55, Number 657.
  • Volume 4, Book 53, Number 384 states that Umar did not take the jizya from the "Magian infidels" (Zoroastrians) until he heard testimony that Muhammad taken the jizya from the Magians of Hajar.
  • Volume 4, Book 53, Number 385 states that Muhammad collected jizya from the people of Bahrain, as do Volume 5, Book 59, Number 351 and Volume 8, Book 76, Number 43.
  • Volume 4, Book 53, Number 386 states that Muhammad commanded Al-Mughira and his army to fight non-Muslims until they worshiped Allah alone or gave jizya.
  • Volume 4, Book 53, Number 404 has Muhammad stating that one day Allah will make the dhimmis "so daring that they will refuse to pay the Jizya they will be supposed to pay".

Sahih Muslim

  • Sahih Muslim Book 1, Numbers 287 and 289 state that the "son of Mary" will "descend as a just judge" and, among other things, abolish the jizya.
  • Book 19, Number 4294 states that Muhammad commanded his military leaders to demand jizya from non-Muslims if they refused to accept Islam, and to fight them if they refused to pay.
  • Book 32, Number 6328 states that Hisham b. Hakim b. Hizam passed by Syrian farmers who had been detained for jizya and made to stand in the sun, and Number 6330 states that he came by some Nabateans who had been detained "in connection with the dues of jizya". In both cases his response was to quote Muhammad as saying "Allah would torment those persons who torment people in the world."
  • Book 42, Number 7065 states that that Muhammad collected jizya from the people of Bahrain.


  • Al-Muwatta of Malik Book 17, Number 17.24.42 states that Muhammad collected jizya from the "Magians" (Zoroastrians) of Bahrain, Umar ibn al-Khattab from Magians of Persia, and Uthman ibn Affan from the Berbers.
  • Book 17, Number 17.24.44 states that Umar ibn al-Khattab imposed a jizya tax of four dinars on those living where gold was the currency, and forty dirhams on those living where silver was the currency. As well, they had to "provide for the Muslims and receive them as guests for three days".
  • Book 17, Number 17.24.45 states that Umar ibn al-Khattab took a camel and slaughtered and ate it because it was owned by those who pay jizya, not those who pay zakat.
  • Book 17, Number 17.24.46 states that Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz relieved those who converted to Islam from paying jizya. It also gives the sunnah on those who must pay jizya, principally non-Muslim males who have reached puberty, rather than zakat, as zakat is for the purpose of purifying Muslims, whereas jizya is for the purpose of humbling non-Muslims. It also outlines the additional jizya travelling traders must pay, and the rationale for that.


Jizya was levied in the time of Muhammad on vassal tribes under Muslim protection, including Jews in Khaybar, Christians in Najran, and Zoroastrians in Bahrain. W. Montgomery Watt traces its origin to a pre-Islamic practice among the Arabian nomads wherein a powerful tribe would agree to protect its weaker neighbors in exchange for a tribute, which would be refunded if the protection proved ineffectual.5

Prof. Moshe Gil, a historian at Tel Aviv University, wrote about jizya in his A History of Palestine, 634-1099, published by Cambridge University Press. He records a letter from Muhammad to the Christians and Jews of Elath requiring the imposition of jizyah:

Thou hast to accept Islam, or pay the tax, and obey God and His Messenger and the messengers of His Messenger, and do them honor and dress them in fine clothing, not in the raiment of raiders…for if you satisfy my envoys you will satisfy me. Surely the tax is known to you. Therefore if you wish to be secure on land and on sea, obey God and His Messenger…But be careful lest thou do not satisfy…for then I shall not accept anything from you, but I shall fight you and take the young as captives and slay the elderly…Come then, before a calamity befalls you…[10] (http://www.secularislam.org/articles/bostom.htm)

Under Caliph Umar the Zoroastrian Persians were given People of the Book status, and jizya was levied on them. Christian Arab tribes in the north of the Arabian Peninsula refused to pay jizya, but agreed to pay double the amount, and calling it sadaqa, a word meaning "alms" or "charity". According to Yusuf al-Qaradawi the name change was done for the benefit of the Christian tribesmen, "out of consideration for their feelings".[11] (http://www.islamonline.net/fatwa/english/FatwaDisplay.asp?hFatwaID=64354) Fred Donner, however, in The Early Islamic Conquests, states that the difference between sadaqa and jizya is that the former was levied on nomads, whereas the latter was levied on settled non-Muslims. Donner sees sadaqa as being a indicative of the lower status of nomadic tribes, so much so that that Christian tribesmen preferred to pay the jizya. Jabala b. al-Ayham of the B. Ghassan is reported asked Umar "Will you levy sadaqa from me as you would from the [ordinary] bedouin (al-'arab)?" Umar aceded to collecting jizya from him instead, as he did from other Christians.[12] (http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/med/donner.html)

Sir Thomas Arnold, an early 20th century orientalist, gives an example of a Christian Arab tribe which avoided paying the jizya altogether by fighting alongside Muslim armies "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 jizya and should receive their proper share of the booty".[13] (http://www.islamonline.net/fatwa/english/FatwaDisplay.asp?hFatwaID=64354)

In his message to the people of Al-Hirah, Khalid bin Walid is recorded as saying (in reference to the jizya), "When a person is too old to work or suffers a handicap, or when he falls into poverty, he is free from the dues of the poll tax; his sustenance is provided by the Muslim Exchequer."[14] (http://www.ummah.org.uk/what-is-islam/war/war6.htm) A letter attributed to Khalid bin Walid said that "This is a letter of Khalid ibn al-Waleed to Saluba ibn Nastuna and his people; I agreed with you on al-jezyah and protection. As long as we protect you we have the right in al-jezyah, otherwise we have none.[15] (http://www.islamonline.net/askaboutislam/display.asp?hquestionID=4429)

According to Muslim accounts of Umar, in his time some payers of the jizya were compensated if they had not been cared for properly. The accounts vary, but describe his meeting an old Jew begging, and assisting him; according to one version:

Umar said to him, "Old man! We have not done justice to you. In your youth we realized Jizyah from you and have left you to fend for yourself in your old age". Holding him by the hand, he led him to his own house, and preparing food with his own hands fed him and issued orders to the treasurer of the Bait-al-mal that that old man and all others like him, should be regularly doled out a daily allowance which should suffice for them and their dependents.[16] (http://english.islamway.com/bindex.php?section=article&id=176)

In India, Islamic rulers imposed jizya starting in the 11th century. Aurangzeb, the last prominent Mughal Emperor, levied jizya on his mostly Hindu subjects in 1679.[17] (http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/southasia/History/Mughals/Aurang3.html) The imposition of jizya, after it had not been collected by previous emperors for 117 years, created enormous opposition and sectarian strife which started the decline of the Mughal Empire.

As late as 1894 jizya was still being collected in Morocco; an Italian Jew described his experience there:

The kaid Uwida and the kadi Mawlay Mustafa had mounted their tent today near the Mellah [Jewish ghetto] gate and had summoned the Jews in order to collect from them the poll tax [jizya] which they are obliged to pay the sultan. They had me summoned also. I first inquired whether those who were European-protected subjects had to pay this tax. Having learned that a great many of them had already paid it, I wished to do likewise. After having remitted the amount of the tax to the two officials, I received from the kadi’s guard two blows in the back of the neck. Addressing the kadi and the kaid, I said” ‘Know that I am an Italian protected subject.’ Whereupon the kadi said to his guard: ‘Remove the kerchief covering his head and strike him strongly; he can then go and complain wherever he wants.’ The guards hastily obeyed and struck me once again more violently. This public mistreatment of a European-protected subject demonstrates to all the Arabs that they can, with impunity, mistreat the Jews.[18] (http://www.secularislam.org/articles/bostom.htm)


Criticism of jizya has typically focussed not only on its specific application to non-Muslims, but its alleged humiliating nature. It has been described as a demonstration of "constitutional inferiority and humiliation"[19] (http://debate.org.uk/topics/history/xstnc-5.html) and criticized for the alleged "consistent, intentionally humiliating character of its application".[20] (http://www.secularislam.org/articles/bostom.htm) According to orientalist S.D. Goitein in Evidence on the Muslim Poll Tax from Non-Muslim Sources:

It was of course, evident that the tax represented a discrimination and was intended, according to the Koran's own words, to emphasize the inferior status of the non-believers. It seemed, however, that from the economic point of view, it did not constitute a heavy imposition, since it was on a sliding scale, approximately one, two, and four dinars, and thus adjusted to the financial capacity of the taxpayer. This impression proved to be entirely fallacious, for it did not take into consideration the immense extent of poverty and privation experienced by the masses, and in particular, their persistent lack of cash, which turned the 'season of the tax' into one of horror, dread, and misery.

Defenders of the tax insist that it was equivalent to the zakat that Muslims had to pay. For example, Mohammad Asad has argued "One of the problems raised by the missionaries and orientalists is the imposition of tribute or jizyah on all non-Muslims. This institution has been so misinterpreted and misexplained that the non-Muslims feel that it is some kind of religious-based discrimination against them. This is not the case. All the jizyah amounts are to be a financial obligation placed upon those who do not have to pay the Zakah". [21] (http://www.islamonline.net/fatwa/english/FatwaDisplay.asp?hFatwaID=64354)

Others have stated that jizya compensated for non-Muslims not having to do military service. They also say that dhimmis were provided protection in return for jizya, and claim examples of cases where jizya was returned when protection was not provided. For example, Sir Thomas Arnold, an orientalist of the early 20th century, has argued:

This tax was not imposed on the Christians, as some would have us think, as a penalty for their refusal to accept the Muslim faith. Rather, it 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 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.[22] (http://www.islamonline.net/fatwa/english/FatwaDisplay.asp?hFatwaID=64354)


Many contemporary Muslim scholars can be cited, including Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Al-Qaradawi's book Non Muslims in Muslim Societies, which discusses many issues, including jizya, is available online in Arabic on his web site.

Bat Ye'or has written about the history and practice of jizya in her book "Dhimmitude." Ibn Warraq has described jizya as discriminatory and oppressive in his book Why I am not a Muslim.

See also


  1. Note 1: Sura 9:29, translation of Yusuf Ali (Universalunity.net Parallel Translation of the Qur'an (http://www.universalunity.net/quran4/009.qmt.html))
  2. Note 2: Abu Yusuf, Kitab al-Kharaj, quoted in Stillman, Norman: The Jews of Arab Lands: A History and Source Book (Philadelphia, Jewish Publication Society of America, 1979), pp. 159–160
  3. Note 3: Ibid., p. 160
  4. Note 4: Ibid., pp. 160–161
  5. Note 5: W. Montgomery Watt, Islamic Political Thought: The Basic Concepts (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1980), pp. 49–50

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