What is the Jizyah? – Ask A Muslim

What is the Jizyah?

Many enemies of Islam try to claim that the jizyah is a non-Muslims tax, and this is far from correct. Every government needs funds to provide services to its citizens. This happens in many countries in the form of tax, where citizens will get taxed for their property, whatever they buy, and their income. However, in an Islamic government, there are no taxes. Therefore, how will a country be able to run and provide for its citizens without some form of income? For Muslims living in an Islamic country, they have to pay zakat, where 2.5% of their money is given to the state, which is then used for people who are poor or needy. Zakat is actually one of the pillars in Islam, and if a Muslim doesn’t pay their zakat, it is a major sin. Muslims and non-Muslims both benefit from zakat, so a disbeliever who is poor still has this benefit and would not be left without help. As for non-Muslims living in an Islamic country, they are not obligated to pay zakat. This is because Islam allows the people to have the right to practice their own religion, and one cannot be forced to follow Islam. Therefore, a religious obligation like zakat would not be forced on non-Muslims. Similarly, in times of war, Islam doesn’t force people who follow other religions to fight and defend the land, but Muslims would have to, as this is a religious obligation. But since these non-Muslims are using the services of the Muslim government and are being protected, provided, and taken care of, then they have to pay for it. It’s really a simple concept! Therefore, the jizyah is a service fee, not a tax. If it was a non-Muslim tax, then non-Muslims would have to pay even if they don’t use the services of the country. But in an Islamic government, this is not how the jizyah works. It was only when the government is providing for the non-Muslims is when the jizyah would be applied. That is why in the authentic narration, when Khalid Ibn Walid RA, a companion of the Prophet PBUH, couldn’t protect the non-Muslims from the Byzantines, he returned their jizyah. If this was a non-Muslim tax, he would have never done this. Therefore, at the end of the day, both Muslims and non-Muslims have to fund the government. To add on even more to this, the jizyah for the non-Muslims is sometimes even less than the zakat for the Muslims! Even if one just looks at the history of the numerous countries that were under Islamic rule, many people chose to live with the Muslims because they knew that they wouldn’t be treated unjustly. Some might question the verse in the Quran where Allah says, “[fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled” (Quran 9:29). If someone is rebellious to give their funds to the government that literally provides for them and protects them and their religion, then they should be prepared to give the government money, and either they can give it willingly, or they can leave; there is no third option. Moreover, this verse is referring to the enemies of Islam who were at war with the Muslims, and Allah, in His infinite mercy, allowed them to stay and live under the Islamic state, despite them being in rebellion.

In conclusion, one can see that this is a very simple concept, and every single government today uses some form of funding, but the double standard for Muslims is what brings up these types of questions.

And Allah knows best.