JIZYA VS. ZAKAT (UPDATED): Bismillah ar-Rahman ir-Raheem. I’ve been researching the jizya, or the non-Muslim tax, that was used during the time of the Caliphate. And from what I’ve found, certain people are exempt from the jizya. Only adult males from People of the Book (including Jews, Christians, Sabians, and Magians) who are not disabled, who do not perform military service, and who have not contributed something great to the Caliphate (like cleaning an entire canal used regularly by the Caliphate) are the ones who have to pay jizya. And, despite what I originally thought, it’s not a fixed amount. It is decided at the discretion of the Caliph.

During the time of the Prophet, the jizya he collected was about 1 gold dinar (for every person who paid the jizya) once a year according to the Islamic lunar calendar. That’s 4.25 grams of gold which today would be the equivalent of between $150 and $200. And during the time of Caliph Umar, it was measured in silver dirhams, which was 3.2 or so grams of pure silver. One dirham would be the equivalent today of about $1.75 if I’m not mistaken. And in Umar’s time, the jizya was about 12 silver dirhams for craftsman, manual labors, and others who made less than the middle class and wealthy people (approximately $21 in U.S. currency), 24 dirhams for middle class people (approximately $42 in U.S. currency), and 48 dirhams for the wealthy people (approximately $84 in U.S. currency).

If a middle class man today making probably $60,000 a year paid the jizya at the rate of the middle class in the Caliphate under Umar, he’d pay less than $50 a year. And if a poor man making only like $15,000 a year paid jizya at the rate Umar charged for poor non-Muslims, he’d only pay less than $25 a year. $25 paid to the state out of $15,000 total and the rest is yours to keep for other expenses. That’s a very good deal especially when it’s only charged annually. Compare that to the 2.5% that Muslims had to pay in zakat from whatever they owned. If a Muslim man was living on minimum wage and made only like $20,000 a year, which is not easy at all these days to live on, then he would have to pay $500 in mandatory charitable giving. So People of the Book paid a lot less in their mandatory tax than Muslims paid in zakat. While poor Muslims paid the equivalent of probably hundreds of dollars annually, poor non-Muslims usually paid less than 5% of what Muslims paid.

And yet, despite the much lower payments, countless numbers of non-Muslims adopted the deen of Islam in mass numbers. They chose the faith that would have required them to pay way more to the state than they would have had they stayed non-Muslims. And you know why? It’s because, as the Qur’an says, “Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clear from falsehood.” -Surah al-Baqarah 2:256. For anything I’ve said correctly, all credit is due to Allah, subhana wa ta’ala, and any mistakes are from me and the Shaitan.

About Abdullah

Analytical & Creative. --- I'm not a Sheikh or a scholar, I'm just a regular guy in love with this Deen. Don't praise me for practicing my Deen. But pray for me, for the errors, that you haven't seen.

Posted on January 30, 2015, in Articles. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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