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A document from 1615 about the jizya in Bulgaria, which was then under Ottoman rule

Jizya ( Arabic جزية, DMG ǧizya  , poll tax , tribute ', Ottoman جزيه cizye ) is the name of the tax imposed on the non-Muslim subjects ( dhimmi ) under Islamic rule .

The Jizya in the Koran and its ancient Arabic background

The levying of this tax on the subject non-Muslim population, insofar as they are so-called script owners ( ahl al-kitab ), i.e. Jews and Christians , is based on the Qur'anic sura 9, verse 29, which Rudi Paret translates as follows:

"Fight against those who do not believe in God and Judgment Day and do not forbid (or: declare it forbidden) what God and his Messenger have forbidden and do not belong to the true religion - from those who received the scriptures - ( fights against them) until they meekly pay tribute out of hand (?)! ( ḥattā yuʾtū l-ǧizyata ʿan yadin wa-hum ṣāġirūn ) "

According to consistent statements of the Koran exegesis ( tafsīr ) - to be mentioned here are u. a. at-Tabari , Ibn Kathir and az-Zamachschari - this verse was written against the historical background of Mohammed's campaigns against Byzantium and its Arab allies in the north of the Arabian Peninsula in 629 .

Regarding Paret's translation, it should be noted that it reproduces the Arabic expression ḥattā yuʾtū l-ǧizyata ʿan yadin wa-hum ṣāġirūn only very imprecisely. Meïr Bravmann has shown on the basis of a comparison with similar passages from ancient Arabic literature that the expression al-ǧizyatu ʿan yadin here means the consideration ( dieizya ) for an experienced benefit ( yad ), namely the protection of the life of the script owner ( ahl al- kitāb ) at the time when they were defeated by the Muslims and were in a state of powerlessness ( wa-hum ṣāġirūn ). Accordingly, the passage would have to be translated: "until they pay the consideration for the benefit they experienced when they were powerless."

Jizya practice in early Islamic times

The type of taxation was different in the early Islamic period: a) poll tax in the areas subject to a peace treaty ( sulh ) - according to the treaty of Muhammad with the Christians of Najran on the desert route between Mecca and Yemen, b) poll tax in the through Areas subject to violence ( ʿanwa ) whose population did not surrender to the Muslims voluntarily. In the case of the last-mentioned type of taxation, the scope and amount of taxes were solely at the discretion of the Muslim authorities; they were not community taxes, but individual (head) taxes.

In Yemen, those who did not convert to Islam had to pay a flat amount of one dinar for each adult person to jizya, regardless of whether they were men or women, free or slaves.

The Jizya in Islamic Jurisprudence

Sura 9:29 formed the basis of legal discussion in the legal literature of the late 7th and early 8th centuries. The amount of the tax was dependent on the extent of the personal property of the taxpayer and therefore no collective tax.

The Islamic jurisprudence treats the jizya in the chapters of Jihad and the writings on the Islamic law of war , in which the rights and obligations are governed by the non-Muslims closer exclusively from an Islamic perspective. By paying this poll tax, they became “wards”, who enjoyed the protection of their lives and property under Muslim authorities - the scope of which was in turn determined by Islamic law - as well as the right to freely practice their religious customs, which were also subject to the restrictions of the applicable ones were subject to Islamic laws.

The oldest legal provisions on the taxation of non-Muslims, the origin of which dates back to the Umayyad period and is associated with names such as al-Auzāʿī , Abū Hanīfa , Mālik ibn Anas and asch-Schāfiʿī , are in at-Tabari's work “The Controversial (Doctrines ) of the legal scholars ”. The immense importance of this type of taxation in the Islamic state and in Fiqh is confirmed by the extensive explanations of the jurist Ibn Qayyim al-Jschauziya (1292-1350) in his fundamental book under the title Ahkam ahl al-dhimma  /أحكام أهل الذمة / Aḥkām ahl al-ḏimma  / ' Legal provisions for the wards ', in which he summarizes the jizya question on over 160 pages.

The question of debt

Adult, mentally and physically healthy and solvent men were required to pay. Women, children and beggars, as well as monks poor monasteries were jizya -free. The poll tax should be paid in cash or in kind that are permitted under Islamic law. The amount of the tax to be paid varied depending on the region and epoch of the Islamic Empire. Taxpayers could only be exempted from the jizya by converting to Islam. Since the taxes of the non-Muslim population under Islamic rule made up the largest part of the tax revenues of the Muslims, there was little interest on the Muslim side in an Islamization of the respective areas. This went so far that at the beginning of the eighth century the conversion of non-Muslims to Islam was temporarily prohibited.

In the Hanafi school of law, the question was discussed whether, in the event that the dhimmī has not paid the jizya for a number of years, he has to pay it for the previous years or not. While Abū Hanīfa denied this and said that the jizya - since there was no debt - had to be paid only for the current year, his two disciples Abū Yūsuf and al-Shaibānī taught that the jizya also had to be paid for previous years, it unless the impossibility of paying the jizya was due to a circumstance for which the dhimmī was not to blame.

The legitimacy of taxation

The legitimacy of this tax collection was also discussed in detail and controversially in Islamic legal doctrine. There is unanimous agreement among legal scholars that the legitimacy of the poll tax is based both in the Koran - in the above-mentioned sura 9, verse 29 - as well as in the Sunnah of Mohammed and his instructions. Legal scholars - such as al-Shafid - were of the opinion that paying the poll tax was a sign of the submissiveness of those who refuse to accept the teachings of Islam: "... until they meekly pay tribute out of hand."

Later Islamic jurists saw the polling of the poll tax as an incentive to “guide” those who were given the choice of either entering Islam or persisting in their “unbelief” ( kufr ). After all, the poll tax - under whatever conditions it was imposed - was seen as a secure source of income for the Islamic state: "It is seen as a kind of humiliation for them (non-Muslims) and (financial) support for us". In the contemporary understanding of this tax policy in Islamic history, it is said: “The income in itself is not decisive for the legitimation of the jizya. Rather, the decisive factor is the submission of the wards (ahl al-dhimma) to the rule of the Muslims to live in their circle in order to get to know the advantages of Islam and the justice of Muslims. So that these virtues are convincing evidence for them to turn away from unbelief ( kufr ) and to embrace Islam. "

Jizya practice in later times

Ottoman Empire

In the Ottoman Empire , from Sultan Suleyman I, a large part of the income from the jizya was used to support the scholars in Mecca and Medina. The Jizya system existed until the time of the Crimean War and became known as the Hatt-ı Hümâyûn  /خط همايون / 'Grand glory handwriting' of February 18, 1856 through a military exemption tax ( bedel-i askerî  /بدل عسکری) replaced. After Ataturk's revolution , the jizya was finally abolished; since then, Christians have also been doing military service in Turkey.


More detailed information about jizya practice is available from the Jewish communities of Yemen . It is known that the Jewish community of Aden had to pay 10,000 buqsheh to Jizya annually before the Ottoman conquest in the 16th century. In the city of Rada'a , the Qādī was responsible for collecting taxes in the 18th century . He passed this right on to a distinguished Jew. This person in charge collected the jizya once a month and twice from traders. If the agreed total did not come together, he had to raise the remaining amount himself. The total amount of jizya to be paid was determined in advance and adjusted every few years. There were three tax brackets within the Jewish community - high, medium, and low. In the early 19th century, all those who owned a horse and a gold ring were assigned the highest tax bracket, those who owned 16 riyals were assigned to the middle tax bracket, and all others to the lower tax bracket.

During the period of uncertainty towards the end of the 19th century, when Ottoman troops tried to reoccupy the country, the Jews often had to pay the jizya to several sides at the same time. The jizya tax was continued under Imam Yahya Muhammad Hamid ad-Din . A Jewish official ( maʾmūr ) was responsible for the confiscation of the jizya at this time , with several assistants ( ʿuqqāl ) at his side. Every year they drew up records of the jizya payers in Hebrew, which were then translated into Arabic and given to the treasury ( bait al-māl ). After confirmation by the responsible minister, the jizya was then collected on the basis of this list.


  • Abu Yusuf Yaqub ben Ibrahim Ançari, E. Fagnan (ed., Translator): Le livre de l'impot foncier (Kitab el-Kharâdj). Paris 1921
  • Meir Bravmann: The ancient Arab background of the Qur'anic concept "al-ǧizyatu ʿan yadin". in Arabica 13: 307-314 (1966); 14 (1967) 90-91, 326-327. Reprinted in M. Bravmann: The spiritual background of early Islam. Studies in Ancient Arab Concepts. Leiden 1972, pp. 199-212.
  • Claude Cahen: Art. Dj izya. I. In: The Encyclopaedia of Islam. New Edition , Volume II, pp. 559a-562b.
  • Daniel C. Dennett: Conversion and the Poll Tax in Early Islam. Harvard University Press, 1950.
  • Aviva Klein-Franke: Collecting the Djizya (Poll-Tax) in the Yemen. In_ Tudor Parfitt (Ed.): Israel and Ishmael. Studies in Muslim-Jewish Relation St. Martin's Press, New York 2000, pp. 175–206.
  • Adel Theodor Khoury : Tolerance in Islam. Munich / Mainz 1980, p. 171ff.

Individual evidence

  1. See also: Theodor Nöldeke: History of the Qorāns . Volume 1. Leipzig 1909, pp. 223-224.
  2. See Bravmann 1972, 199f.
  3. al-mausūʿa al-fiqhiyya , Volume 15, p. 161
  4. ^ Alfred Guillaume : The Life of Muhammad. A translation of Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah. Oxford 1955, Text Archive - Internet Archive .
  5. al-mausū'a al-fiqhiyya . Volume 15, pp. 149-207.
  6. Uri Rubin: Quran and Tafsīr. The case of "ʿan yadin" . In: Der Islam , Volume 70 (1993), pp. 133-144
  7. Mark R. Cohen: Under the Cross and Crescent: The Jews in the Middle Ages. CH Beck, 2005, p. 71
  8. Joseph Schacht (ed.): The Constantinople fragment of the Kitāb Iḫtilāf al-Fuqahāʾ of the Abū Ǧaʿfar Muḥammad ibn Ǧarīr aṭ-Ṭabarī. Brill, Leiden 1933. pp. 199-241
  9. Albrecht Noth: Early Islam . In: Ulrich Haarmann (Hrsg.): History of the Arab world. CH Beck, 1987. pp. 92 f.
  10. ^ W. Montgomery Watt: Islamic Conceptions of the Holy War . In: Th. P. Murphy: The Holy War . Ohio State University Press, 1974. p. 149
  11. ^ Majid Khadduri: The Islamic Law of Nations: Shaybānī's Siyar. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press 1966. p. 145.
  12. al-mausuʿa al-fiqhiyya , Volume 15, p. 158 according to the Koran exegesis from al-Shāfiʿī and other classical sources For the interpretation of the Koran verse see: Meir J. Kister: “'An yadin” (Qur'ān, IX / 29) . In: Arabica , 11, 1964, pp. 272-278. Also in: Rudi Paret (Ed.): The Koran . Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1975, pp. 295-303
  13. al-mausuʿa al-fiqhiyya , Volume 15, pp. 159-160
  14. ^ F. Wüstenfeld: History of the city of Mecca. Edited from Arabic chronicles . Leipzig 1861. p. 306.
  15. Halil İnalcık: Cizye. Osmanlılar'da Cizye. In: Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı İslâm Ansiklopedisi. Volume 8, TDV Yayını, Istanbul 1993, p. 48.
  16. See Klein-Franke 176.
  17. See Klein-Franke 177.
  18. See Klein-Franke 178.
  19. See Klein-Franke 177f.
  20. See Klein-Franke 182.
  21. See Klein-Franke 184f.