Jizyah is the Arabic language translation of Poll tax or "head tax", a tax imposed on male individuals of other faiths living under Muslim rule.
Jizyah was applied to every free male member of the People of the Book, non-Muslim communities living in lands under Muslim rule. The collection of the tax was often the duty of the elders of those community, mainly Bishops or Priests.
In return, those who pay such a tax are not required to serve in the military, and are considered under the protection of the Muslim state, with certain rights and responsibilities. Non-Muslims are not required to pay zakat, or mandatory charity.
The jizyah was levied in the time of Prophet Muhammad on vassal tribes under Muslim protection, including Jews in Khaybar , Christians in Najran and Zoroastrians in Bahrain.
Under Caliph Omar the Zoroastrian Persians were given People of the Book status, and jizyah was levied on them. Moreover, Christian Arab tribes in the north of the Arabian Peninsula refused to pay jizyah, but agreed to pay double the amount, and calling it Sadaqah (Charity).
The concept of Jizyah has been often maligned by some anti-Muslim writers, who characterize it as a form of humiliation and oppression of non-Muslim minorities. Others counter that these criticisms ignore the historical context and that the poll tax was a common practice at the time in most societies.
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 jizyah, is available online in Arabic on his web site.
Last updated: 02-10-2005 05:17:47
Last updated: 04-25-2005 03:06:01