There is no separation between religion and state in Islam. The US government, on the other hand, is a secular government. We can argue as to which system of governance is better, but that would get us no where. An Islamic state does acknowledge that its non-Muslim minority is not bound by divine laws as the Muslims are. Therefore, it would be unethical for a Muslim government to ask for charity dues from the non-Muslims in whose religion it is not compulsory to give charity. Furthermore, it is immoral to ask a Buddhist, for example, who believes in non-violence to be drafted into the army. You must agree that if only Muslim citizens pay charity dues and serve in the army and non-Muslims don’t have to do anything, it would be very highly unfair. Hence, non-Muslims were asked to pay a poll tax instead, which by most historical accounts was one gold dinar per year, as compared to the 2.5% of their entire worth that Muslims must pay each year. Even so, Caliph Omar on his death bed left the following instruction: “I instruct you to be good to the Dhimmis [non-Muslims] for they are your responsibility. Do not tax them beyond their capacity. Ensure that they pay the Jizya without undue inconvenience…With regard to the people, I enjoin upon you to administer justice with an even hand. See that all the legitimate requirements of the people are met. Be concerned for their welfare. Ensure the safety of their person and property…Treat all the people as equal. Be a pillar of strength for those who are weak and oppressed. Those who are strong but do wrong, make them pay for their wrong-doings. ” You can find the complete test of his message at this web site: 


Now let’s address the issue of whether the early Muslim armies received handsome salaries or whether they pillaged and looted. During the time of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w), most of the Muslim army consisted of volunteers. Later on as the Islamic world organized itself as a state, the Muslim army consisted of both the regulars as well as volunteers. There is no historic evidence to suggest that the regular soldiers received exorbitant salaries or that they joined the army to become rich. The volunteers were paid out of the “Zakkah” (charity) money, and it was forbidden, on the other hand, to pay zakah to regular soldiers (see al-Mawardi’s al-Ahkam as-Sultaniyyah for reference.) 

In the old days, before the advent of Islam, it was a traditions that the spoils of war were taken over by the victorious soldiers. And what the Muslims did was no different than what their enemies would have done had they won the battles. These spoils consisted of horses, cattle, weapons, armor, and personal belongings of the defeated soldiers. Sometimes there were disputes among the soldiers about who would get what share, and Quran in several verses criticizes those who were all too eager to collect these spoils. The early Muslims changed the rules and it was decided that all these assets would be collected and one-fifth of these would be spent on charity and for the propagation of Islam. The rest of these spoils were equally divided among the soldiers. When Iraq and Egypt were conquered, Caliph Umar (r.a.), refused to distribute the territories among the soldiers on the grounds that this practice would spoil the soldiers. He was also driven by a verse in the Quran which stated, “[59.10] And those who come after them say: Our Lord! forgive us and those of our brethren who had precedence of us in faith, and do not allow any spite to remain in our hearts towards those who believe, our Lord! surely Thou art Kind, Merciful.” Although, Umar (r.a.) was supported by leading Sahaaba (companions of the Prophet) and opposed by many, he stood strong and his decision became a rule for every Islamic government that followed. 

Why Forced Charity? 

A country needs revenues for social works; therefore, non-Muslims paid taxes just like everybody else. Muslims do not look at it as compulsory as much as their “duty” towards the poor and the needy. The poor and the wayfarer have a right in the share of those whom God has blessed with wealth. If the non-Muslims wanted to join the Muslims in paying charity, they were most welcome to.


One thought on “Jizya

  1. Herman July 14, 2014 at 3:34 pm Reply

    sincereadvisor, I am trying hard to help you liberate your mind from the grip that Muhammad has over it, believing that it is better for you to be guided by reason than by irrationality. So when I give you a narrative that refutes what you have written, don’t take the cowardly, chicken way out by just deleting the narrative; instead, confront it head on!
    Again, you claimed that the Jizya was merely a “poll-tax”. Let us again return the a passage dealing with the attempted collection of this Jizya: From Sahih Bukhari:
    “…So, ‘Umar sent us (to Khosrau) appointing An-Numan bin Muqrin AS OUR COMMANDER. When we reached THE LAND OF THE ENEMY [NOTE: not the Muslim’s land], the representative of Khosrau came out with forty-thousand warriors, and an interpreter got up saying, “Let one of you talk to me!” Al-Mughira replied, “Ask whatever you wish.” The other asked, “Who are you?” [[THEY DO *NOT* KNOW THE MUSLIMS; THE MUSLIMS ARE NOT FELLOW COUNTRYMEN] Al-Mughira replied, “We are some people from the Arabs; we led a hard, miserable, disastrous life: we used to suck the hides and the date stones from hunger; we used to wear clothes made up of fur of camels and hair of goats, and to worship trees and stones. While we were in this state, the Lord of the Heavens and the Earths, Elevated is His Remembrance and Majestic is His Highness, sent to us from among ourselves a Prophet whose father and mother are known to us. Our Prophet, the Messenger of our Lord, has ordered us to fight you till you worship Allah Alone or give Jizya [THE MUSLIMS DO NOT SAY WE WISH TO BECOME FRIENDS WITH YOU, BUT INSTEAD THREATEN VIOLENCE UNLESS THEY GET PAID MONEY OR THE OTHERS CONVERT]
    Now sincereadvisor do you truly believe that what Sahih Bukhari describes here is mere tax collection rather than immoral, wicked extortion involving the threat of violence? YES OR NO? Do not run away from the question — that gets you nowhere.

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