Is it necessary to force non-Muslims to pay money?

The Details of the Question

- I heard that when Muslims conquer a non-Muslim country, non-Muslims have to pay money; is it true? Why?
- Is it because it goes against our principle of being peaceful?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The money taken from non-Muslims is a tax; it is called jizya in Islamic law.

Muslims took jizya in return for the protection of non-Muslims, and guaranteed to return the taxes they collected in cases where they could not protect them.

As a matter of fact, when Abu Ubayda b. Jarrah, Umar’s governor of Syria, realized that he would not be able to defend the people of Homs against Byzantium and had to leave the city, he returned the jizya he had collected. It is known that the same thing was done in other cities of Syria. The people of Homs spied on behalf of the Muslims due to that behavior of the Muslims and gave them the information they had gathered about the Byzantine army. (Abu Yusuf, Kharaj, 2/191-197)

The Prophet (pbuh) said that he would personally become an enemy on the Day of Judgment of anyone who persecuted and wronged the dhimmi, and burdened him with responsibilities beyond his power and took something from him against his will, apart from the instructions in the dhimmah treaties. He stated that such a person would be deprived of the smell of Paradise. (see Bayhaqi, as-Sunanul-Kubra, 9/205)

The Quran strictly forbids oppression of people regarding religion (see al-Baqara 2/256; Yunus 10/99; al-Kahf 18/29) and demands Muslims to have good relations with and treat fairly those who do not fight Muslims and do not expel them from their homes (al-Mumtahina, 60/8).

As for the details after this short information:

Islamic law has explained that people’s safety of life and property and the right to life should be respected, and it has clearly revealed the importance of human life and the sin of murder.

As a matter of fact, it is stated in the Quran that a person who kills another unjustly is regarded as if he had killed all people (see al-Maida, 5/32)

Similarly, it has been determined in fiqh how to act when the Islamic state seizes new lands.

Accordingly, when a non-Muslim place was conquered, an agreement would be made between the people of that area and the new owners of the area, called a dhimmah contract; thus, the non-Muslims who agreed to be subjected to the Islamic state and the rules imposed by it were called dhimmis.

The dhimmi law is based on the two main sources of Islam, the Quran and the practice of the Prophet (pbuh).

Dhimmi, means the person who is assured, taken under protection.

The Madinah Document, which the Prophet (pbuh) made with non-Muslims after he migrated to Madinah with the principle that there should be no compulsion in religion as stated in the Quran, includes important criteria that determine the principles of this law.

As a matter of fact, the Prophet (pbuh) gave the Jewish groups the guarantee of religion, conscience, property and life as per the agreement he made with them. Every person living in Madinah became a subject of the Islamic state, and these groups, which were responsible for defending the state against external attacks, were bound by their own legal systems within the state.

The agreement that the Prophet (pbuh) made with the Jews in Madinah was followed by the agreements he made with the People of the Book in other regions. In this context, the terms muahid, Jiwarullahi ve rasulihi, Biamanillahi wa amani Muhammad and ahl adh-dhimmah were used in the hadiths for the minority non-Muslims who made a deal with the Muslims.

The word dhimmi, which is mentioned in the chapter of at-Tawba and in some hadiths, became widespread beginning from the time of Tabi’un. The terms dhimmah and dhimmi were used in the Umayyad, Abbasid and Seljuk periods.

Certain rights and guarantees were provided to non-Muslims within the scope of dhimmah and millah practices. The Islamic state recognized the right of dhimmis to elect and raise their own clergy in principle and deemed the representative they determined legitimate and his decrees valid. It also reserved the right of dhimmis to apply to a Muslim qadi. Muslim qadis dealt with land dispute cases in particular. Muslim judges were authorized in disputes between non-Muslims and the state, or between non-Muslims and Muslims. In such cases, the judges would not discriminate between Muslims and non-Muslims and considered the parties equal.

Non-Muslims had absolute freedom of residence, apart from cyclical and religious exceptions; they had the right to settle in the regions they wanted, buy and sell goods.

Therefore, neighborhoods belonging to non-Muslims were established in Islamic cities. Non-Muslims lived in their own neighborhoods with their co-religionists and formed their neighborhoods according to their religious traditions. They had their own temples in the center of the neighborhood, and dwellings were built around those temples. Non-Muslims could produce and sell food and beverages in the neighborhood that were considered halal according to their religion though they were haram in Islam. Although no serious educational support was provided to the dhimmis who were excluded from formal education, there was no negative interference with their ancient system. Non-Muslims benefited from the social services provided by the state on an equal basis with Muslims.

Zakah collected from Muslims was distributed to the poor dhimmis along with Muslims. Non-Muslims were given nonrecourse loans from the state treasury for one or two years to be used in agriculture. Dhimmis had the right to work in whatever field they wanted. Since they were exempt from military service, they were engaged in trade and craft, and formed a wealthy and prestigious class. Occupations such as medicine, pharmacy, jewelry and money changing were generally performed by dhimmis.

Apart from the rights given to them, non-Muslims also had responsibilities. They paid jizya, tribute and tithe taxes.

Jizya was the tax levied on non-Muslim subjects because they were exempt from military service and for protection.

The tribute tax was levied on lands captured by war. Rates and form of collection of tax might differ by region and state.

Tithe was a trade tax collected once a year.


- Lisanül-Arab, “jzy” item.
- Firuzabadi, al-Qamusul-Muhit, “jizya” item.
- Muslim, “Jihad”, 2.
- Abu Dawud, “Jihad”, 82.
- Tirmidhi, “Zakah”, 11.
- Ibn Majah, “Jihad”, 38.
- Abu Yusuf, al-Kharaj, pp. 41, 44-45, 55, 78-80, 131-132, 137-142, 149-150, 154-158.
- Abu Ubayd, al-Amwal, pp. 23-28, 30-31, 35, 39-44, 47-52, 54, 88, 183, 336 (hadith no. 44-60, 65-68, 77-79, 93-107, 117-129, 134, 231-234, 504, 959).
- Balazuri, Futuh (Ridwan), pp. 48, 71-96, 130-131, 143, 164, 210-218, 226-273.
- Yahya b. Adam, al-Kharaj, pp. 23-24, 66 (hadith no. 29, 31, 33, 224).
- Jassas, Ahkam al-Quran, III, 98-99.
- Mawardi, al-Ahkamus-Sultaniyya, Cairo 1393/1973, pp. 142-146, 149-150.
- Ibn Rushd, Bidayatul-Mujtahid, I, 346 ff.- Ibn al-Athir, al-Kamil, Cairo 1348, II, 201, 267-268; IV, 79.
- Ibn Rajab, al-Istiraj li-Ahkamil-Kharaj (publisher. Sayyid Abdullah es-Siddiq), Cairo 1352/1934, pp. 63-64.
- Abdulhay al-Kattani, at-Taratibul-Idariyya, I, 228-230.
- Muhammad Hamidullah, al-Wasaiqus-Siyasiyya, Cairo 1941, pp. 106, 161, 382, 387.
- Bilmen, Kamus, IV, 98-102.
- Salih Tuğ, İslâm Vergi Hukukunun Ortaya Çıkışı, Ankara 1963, pp. 96-99.
- Mustafa Fayda, Hz. Ömer Zamanında Gayr-ı Müslimler, Istanbul 1989, pp. 80-85, 109-164.

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