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Islamic Economics and Jizyah

QUESTION: Islamic Economics – Jizyah


Unbelievers in Muslim communities are called dhimmis. While they may be monotheists (e.g., Jews or Christians), they are not Muslims. As such, they do not enjoy the same privileges as Muslims, and they are taxed at much higher rates, rates unspecified in the Qur’an (9:29). Usually this extra tax is supposed to be in return for protection and provision as non-Muslim citizens within these communities. But how this has worked throughout history has brought much difficulty to non-Muslims.

Islamic Economics – Taxation with Representation?
“All taxes on trade and transport paid by Muslims were generally doubled for dhimmis,” observes Bat Ye’or. “In addition, the population—but particularly the Dhimmi communities—was subject to ruinous extortions designed to cover the financing of incessant wars.”1 Because Muslims have often been at war, the non-Muslims who dare to remain in Muslim lands are fleeced to finance Muslim aggression (or, more rarely, defense). Most troubling is how these non-Muslims are treated when they cannot pay the jizyah. Churches have been destroyed, people have been disposed of their houses, and children have been taken and sold into slavery, as well as personal atrocities such as dismemberment, torture, and death.2

Islamic Economics – Inheritance
While Islam respects the individual’s right to own property, that right terminates on the owner’s death and the property is distributed over the next two generations.3 Upon death, a Muslim’s estate is to be divided up among relatives (2:180). Upon the death of a wife, the husband is to receive one-half of her estate, while upon the death of a husband, the wife is to receive one-quarter of his estate (4:7–12). Such practices, unequal though they are, are understood as a divine command and a way to redistribute wealth in the Ummah.


Rendered with permission from the book,Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews(Rev. 2nd ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry at Summit Ministries. All rights reserved in the original.

1 Bat Ye’or, Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide, trans. Miriam Kochan and David Littman (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2002), 71.
2 See the discussion in Stuart Robinson, Mosques and Miracles: Revealing Islam and God’s Grace, 2nd ed. (Up¬per Mt. Gravatt, AUS: City Harvest Publications, 2004), 202. Robinson records that even as recent as 1997 almost fifty Christians were killed, several in a Sunday School class, apparently because they failed to pay jizyah.
3 This wasn’t the case when Abraham purchased a piece of property to bury his wife Sarah (Genesis 23:12–20). Abraham certainly expected “deeded property” would last more than two generations!

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