Non-Muslims Paying Jizyah In a State of Humiliation

 

by

 

Bassam Zawadi

 

 

Surah 9:29 states that the people of the book are to pay the Jizyah in a state where they are saaghiruun. This word according to the Arabic experts means humiliation or disgrace. (See Tafsir Al-Tabari, Volume 12, page 96; Al-Qaradihi, Kitab Al-'Ayn Lil-Khaleel, Volume 4, page 372; Al-Jawhari, Al-Sihaah Taaj Al-Lugha wa Sihaah Al-'Arabiyah, Volume 2, page 713; Ibn Faaris, Mu'jam Maqayees Al-Lugha, Volume 3, page 290; Abi Mansur Al-Azhari, Tahdheeb Al-Lugha, Volume 3, page 50; Ibn Sayda, Al-Muhkam wal Muheet Al-'Adham, Volume 5, page 422; Al-Matrazi, Al-Mugharab fi Tarteeb Al-Mu'arab, Volume 3, page 260; Ibn Manzur, Lisaan Al-'Arab, Volume 4, page 458; Al-Qayyumi, Al-Misbaah Al-Muneer fi Ghareeb Al-Sharh Al-Kabeer, Volume 5, page 221)

 

First let us understand what Jizyah is. Jizyah is the duty that a non-Muslim has to pay in order to live in the Muslim land. (Ibn Qudamah, Al Mughni, Volume 12, p. 756). Not all non-Muslims are required to pay the Jizyah tax. There are conditions which may exempt non-Muslims from paying the Jizyah tax, which could be summarized as follows:

 

-          Women and children are excused absolutely

-          Handicapped, blind and old men, even if they are rich

-          Needy and mad-men

-          Day laborers, servants or wageworkers

-          A chronically ill-man even if he is rich

-          Religious people who keep themselves free for praying and worshipping, i.e. men of churches, cloisters and oratories

-          If a non-Muslim voluntarily participates in military service for protecting the country.

-          If the Islamic state becomes unable to protect non-Muslims, then they are legally exonerated from paying the tax. (See Ibnul Qayyim, Ahkam Ahlul Dhimma, Volume1, pp.8, 15 and al-Shafi', al-Umm pp. 172-1)

 

Hence, we see that only those able bodied, financially able male adult non-Muslims who don't volunteer to fight for the country are made to pay Jizyah tax if they live in the Muslim land.

 

Now the specific verse in question (i.e. 9:29) states that whomever is paying the Jizyah is doing it in a state of humiliation. But is this verse talking about a particular group of non-Muslims or all non-Muslims eligible for paying Jizyah in general?

 

Imam At-Tabari in his commentary has a narration:

 

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Muhammad ibn Arwa - Abu 'Aasim - Eesa - Ibn Abi Najeeh - Mujahid said regarding Surah 9:29 "This is when Muhammad and his companions were ordered to march towards Tabuk" (Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Jami' al-bayan fi ta'wil al-Qur'an, Commentary on Surah 9:29, Source)

 

Imam Al-Qurtubi states:

 

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Our scholars (may Allah have mercy on them) have said: And what the Qur'an indicates is that the Jizyah is taken from those men who are fighting. Because He All Mighty said: "Fight those" until he said "Until they give the Jizyah" so this implies its obligation on those who are fighting. And it also implies that it is not to be applied on the slave even if he is a fighter, because he has no money and because Allah said "Until they give" and it is not said regarding those who have no money "Until they give". There is a consensus amongst the scholars that the Jizyah is only to be taken from free adult men who have attained puberty and they are the ones who fight in exclusion to women, children, worshippers and lunatics who are mentally ill.(Abu 'Abdullah Al-Qurtubi, Tasfir al Jami' li-ahkam al-Qur'an, Commentary on Surah 9:29, Source)

 

It appears that according to the historical context of this verse the ones paying in a state of disgrace are those non-Muslims fighting the Muslims or non-Muslims whom the Muslims are intending to fight in battle (since no fighting eventually occurred in the March to Tabuk).

 

Shafi'i jurist Al-Mawardi states that non-Muslims paying while they are saaghiruun means:

 

 

To have the rules of Islam applied on them. (Al-Maawardi, Al Haawi Al Kabeer, Volume 10, page 985)

 

 

Imam Al-Shafi'i said:

 

 

And sighaar is to have the rulings of Islam applied on them. (Al-Shafi'i, Al-Umm, Volume 4, page 219)

 

 

The fact that non-Muslims fighting Muslims have to pay Jizyah in recognition of the Muslims being victorious over them is understandably a sign of humiliation. Does this however mean that a normal non-Muslim wanting to live in an Islamic state who wants to pay Jizyah in order to avoid joining the military have to pay the Jizyah while feeling humiliated? There are some Muslim scholars who said that the non-Muslims paying the Jizyah must do so in a humiliating manner. These scholars are mistaken for the Quran said no such thing.

 

Imam Al-Nawawi, commenting on those who would impose a humiliation along with the paying of the Jizyah, said:

 

 

 

 

As for this aforementioned practice (hay'ah), I know of no sound support for it in this respect, and it is only mentioned by the scholars of Khurasan. The majority (jumhur) of scholars say that the Jizyah is to be taken with gentleness, as one would receive a debt (dayn). The reliably correct opinion is that this practice is invalid and those who devised it should be refuted. It is not related that the Prophet or any of the rightly-guided caliphs did any such thing when collecting the Jizyah. Al-Raafi'i may Allah have mercy on him said in the first part of his book on Jizyah that the more correct opinions amongst our companions is that sighaar means to abide by the rulings of Islam and to have them imposed on you. They said that the most severe form of sighaar that could occur is having something that they don't agree with imposed on them.  (Rawdat al-Talibin, Volume 10, p.315-16)

 

The great scholar, Ibnul Qayyim says:

 

This is groundless and the verse doesn't imply that. It is not related that the Prophet or the companions acted like that. The correct opinion regarding this verse is that the word "saghr" means "acceptance" by non-Muslims of the structure of the Muslim right and their payment of Jizya. (Ahkam Ahlul Dhimma, Volume 1, p. 23-24).

 

Ibn Qudama also said the same thing (Al-Mughni, Volume 4, p.250).

 

Notice that these scholars are saying that there is no evidence in imposing humiliation on those who pay Jizyah either from the acts of the Prophet (peace be upon him) or his companions.

 

Let's provide some evidence showing that Jizyah is not to be paid in such a negative way.

 

The following narration states:

 

Once, during the reign of 'Umar ibn al-Khattab, a Jizyah collector offered the taxes collected from the people to 'Umar, who was upset by the large amount and asked him if he had burdened the people. He replied, "No, not at all! We took only the surplus and lawful taxes." 'Umar asked, "Without any pressure or persecution?" The man replied, "Yes." 'Umar then said to him, "Praise be to Almighty Allah that the non-Muslim citizens have not been oppressed during my rule. (Ibn Salam, Imam Abu 'Ubayd al-Qasim, Al-Amwal, p. 43. Also see Ibn Qudamah, Al Mughni, Volume 9, p. 290 & Ibnul Qayyim, Ahkam Ahlul Dhimma, Volume 1, p.139)

 

Notice that Umar ibn Al-Khattab while he was Caliph tried his best to ensure that those who were paying Jizyah were not doing so under any harsh conditions.

 

The scholars of Islam have formed a consensus in that it is permissible to take the Jizyah from Non-Muslims in the name of charity. For one time there were non-Muslims who insisted that Umar ibn Al Khattab agree to take the Jizyah from them after they called it charity and he accepted. (Ibn 'Abideen, al-Hashiya, Volume 3, p. 432. Ibn Rushd, Bidaayat al Mujtahid, Volume 6, p. 101. Ibnul Qayyim, Zad Al Ma'aad, Volume 3, page 643. Ibn Qudama, Al Mughni, Volume 10, p. 590-91). What does this tell us? This tells us that Muslims are supposed to take the feelings of the non-Muslims into consideration. If the non-Muslims feel more satisfied to pay the Jizyah in the name of charity for the sake of feeling better about the whole ordeal, then Muslims are to do that. How on earth does this show that Islam teaches that all non-Muslims are to pay Jizyah in humiliation?

 

In conclusion, non-Muslims paying Jizyah in a state of saaghiruun is nothing that non-Muslims should take offensively if they are not paying it in recognition of defeat in a battle. If non-Muslims who don't fight Muslims want to live in an Islamic state peacefully and want to pay the Jizyah in order to avoid joining the military, may do so in an uplifting manner.  

 

 

 

Recommended Reading

 

http://call-to-monotheism.com/the_status_of_non_muslims_in_the_islamic_state

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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