In understanding Jizya, it is worth to focus, if not engross, on distinctness of how Muslim scholars understood this verse 9:29 for 1400 years from the time of birth of Islam and how it was implemented too by Muslim rulers.
Though this verse in Koran (9:029) refers to only Jews and Christians, this was extended to others (Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs) also by Hanafi School. The ruling of this verse gives three choices to Jews and Christians: Conversion to Islam, Payment of Jizya or Death. What if in the absence of extension of this verse to other Non Muslims, well a stupid question?, that means Non Muslims like Farsis, Hindus and Buddhists, have only two choices: Conversion to Islam or Death.
According to the Tafsir al-Jalalayn (One of the authors is the great scholar As-Suyuti), the meaning of ‘nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth,’ is those who do not follow Islam, which is firm and abrogates other deens (religions, it could equally mean a way of life).
Ibn Kathir, in his tafsir (the most popular tafsir among the Muslims), says that the sentence ‘until they pay Jizya’ means if they do not choose to embrace Islam. He further states that ‘saghiroon’ means after the defeat of Non Muslims, they should be disgraced, humiliated and belittled. The seventh-century jurist Sa’id ibn al-Musayyab states “I prefer that the people of the dhimma become tired by paying the jizya since He (Allah) says, ‘until they pay the jizya with their own hands in a state of complete abasement.’”
As-Suyuti, the famous scholar, elaborates that this verse “is used as a proof by those who say that it is taken in a humiliating way, and so the taker sits and the dhimmi stands with his head bowed and his back bent. The jizya is placed in the balance and the taker seizes his beard and hits his chin.” He adds, however, that “this is rejected according to an-Nawawi who said, ‘This manner is invalid.’”
The great Islamic commentator al-Zamakhshari (d. 1144 AD) says “The jizyah shall be taken from them with belittlement and humiliation. (The dhimmi) shall come in person, walking not riding. When he pays,he shall stand, while the tax-collector sits. The collector shall seize him by the scruff of the neck, shake him and say: ‘Pay the jizyah!’ and when he pays it, he shall be slapped on the nape of his neck.’”
Aurangzeb in his order re-imposing the Jizya on Hindus in the year 1670AD declares “The jizyah lapses on the death and acceptance of Islam… The non-Muslim should bring himself the Jizyah; if he sends it through his deputy it should not be accepted. At the time of payment, non-Muslim must keep standing, while the chief should keep sitting. The hand of the non-Muslim should be below and that of the chief above it and he should say ‘Make payment of Jizyah, O! non-Muslim……”
Persian scholar Mulla Ahmad writes ‘‘the main object of levying the jizyah on them (Hindus) is their humiliation… God (Allah) established jizyah for their dishonor. The object is their humiliation and (the establishment of) the prestige and dignity of the Muslims.’’
In India, Muslim scholars insist Islam spread in India because of Sufism and it is peaceful. Well, in reality they were violent and brutal as others. With respect to Jizya, the famous Indian Sufi master Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi writes “The honor of Islam lies in insulting the kufr (unbelief ) and kafir (unbelievers). One who respects the kafirs dishonors the Muslims… The real purpose of levying the jizyah on them is to humiliate them to such an extent that they may not be able to dress well and to live in grandeur. They remain terrified and trembling.”
Coming back to Ibn Kathir, he writes “Therefore, Muslims are not allowed to honor the people of Dhimmah or elevate them above Muslims, for they are miserable, disgraced and humiliated. Muslim recorded from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet said “Do not initiate the Salam to the Jews and Christians, and if you meet any of them in a road, force them to its narrowest alley.””
Then he goes on to cite the notorious treaty forced on the Christians living in Syria by the second Caliph Umar after the conquest of Syria. This treaty is famously called pact of Umar and is important because stipulations laid on Christians here became, later, part of Sharia law. His understanding of the word ‘saghiroon’ is really important because he was the second closest companion of Prophet Muhammad and his views reflected the views of Prophet himself. After the conquest of Syria, he sent a letter to Christian patriarch stating that:
‘I, and all Muslims, promise you and your fellow Christians security as long as you keep the conditions upon you, which are:
1. You shall be under Muslim laws and no other, and shall not refuse to do anything we demand of you.
2. If any of you say anything about the Prophet, his religion and the Quran what is unfi tting, he is debarred from the protection of Allah, the commander of the Faithful and all Muslims. The condition on which security was given will be annulled and your life will be outside the pale of law.
3. If one of you commits fornication with or marries a Muslim woman, or robs a Muslim on the high way, or turns a Muslim from his religion, or helps their enemies or shelters a spy, he has broken the agreement, and his life and property is without the law.
4. He who commits lesser harm than this to the goods and honor of a Muslim shall be punished.
5. dealing with the Muslims, and if you have done anything unlawful for a Muslim, we shall undo it and punish you.
6. If you or other unbelievers ask for judgment, we shall give it according to the Muslim law.
7. You shall not display in any Muslim town the crosses, nor parade your idolatry, nor build a church or place of assembly for your prayer, nor beat the Nakus (church bell), nor use your idolatrous language about Jesus, the son of Mary (i.e., Jesus is the son of God), to any Muslim.
8. You shall wear the zunnar (cloth belt) above all your clothes (as a distinguishing mark), which must not be hidden.
9. You shall use peculiar saddles and manners of riding and make your kalansuwas (cap) different from those of the Muslims by a mark you put on them.
10. You neither take the crest of the road nor the chief seat in the assemblies when Muslims are present.
11. Every free adult male of sound mind shall pay polltax (jizyah), one dinar of full weight, at new year. He shall not leave his town till he has paid.
12. A poor man is liable for his own jizyah till it is paid; poverty does not cancel your obligation to pay the jizyah, nor abrogate the protection given to you. If you have anything, we shall take it. Jizyah is the only burden as long as you live and travel in the Muslim land, except as merchants.
13. You may not enter Mecca under any conditions. If you travel with merchandise, you must pay one-tenth to the Muslims. You may go wherever you like except Mecca. You can stay in Muslim land except the Hedjaz (Hejaz), where you may stay only three days till you depart.’
And finally after some negotiations, the pact Christians signed contains the following stipulations, according to which: (Copied from Ibn Kathir’s tafsir)
The Christians will not:
1. Build “a monastery, church, or a sanctuary for a monk”;
2. “Restore any place of worship that needs restoration”;
3. Use such places “for the purpose of enmity against Muslims”;
4. “Allow a spy against Muslims into our churches and homes or hide deceit [or betrayal] against Muslims”;
5. Imitate the Muslims’ “clothing, caps, turbans, sandals, hairstyles, speech, nicknames and title names”;
6. “Ride on saddles, hang swords on the shoulders, collect weapons of any kind or carry these weapons”;
7. “Encrypt our stamps in Arabic”
8. “Sell liquor”
9. “Teach our children the Qur’an”;
10. “Publicize practices of Shirk” – that is, associating partners with Allah, such as regarding Jesus as Son of God. In other words, Christian and other non-Muslim religious practice will be private, if not downright furtive;
11. Build “crosses on the outside of our churches and demonstrating them and our books in public in Muslim fairways and markets” – again, Christian worship must not be public, where Muslims can see it and become annoyed;
12. “Sound the bells in our churches, except discreetly, or raise our voices while reciting our holy books inside our churches in the presence of Muslims, nor raise our voices [with prayer] at our funerals, or light torches in funeral processions in the fairways of Muslims, or their markets”;
13. “Bury our dead next to Muslim dead”;
14. “Buy servants who were captured by Muslims”;
15. “Invite anyone to Shirk”
16. “Prevent any of our fellows from embracing Islam, if they choose to do so.” Thus the Christians can be the objects of proselytizing, but must not engage in it themselves;
17. “Beat any Muslim.”
Meanwhile, the Christians will:
1. Allow Muslims to rest “in our churches whether they come by day or night”;
2. “Open the doors [of our houses of worship] for the wayfarer and passerby”;
3. Provide board and food for “those Muslims who come as guests” for three days;
4. “Respect Muslims, move from the places we sit in if they choose to sit in them”;
5. “Have the front of our hair cut, wear our customary clothes wherever we are, wear belts around our waist” – these are so that a Muslim recognizes a non-Muslim as such and doesn’t make the mistake of greeting him with As-salaamu aleikum, “Peace be upon you,” which is the Muslim greeting for a fellow Muslim;
6. “Be guides for Muslims and refrain from breaching their privacy in their homes.”
And finally the Christians swore “These are the conditions that we set against ourselves and followers of our religion in return for safety and protection. If we break any of these promises that we set for your benefit against ourselves, then our Dhimmah (promise of protection) is broken and you are allowed to do with us what you are allowed of people of defiance and rebellion.”
The Muslims and their dhimmi (Non Muslims) supporters, calling themselves as intellectuals, give another reason for this Jizya which again has no basis in Koran or Sunna. Considering that Jizya is imposed on Men according to the law, they say that it is a kind of tax for exemption for military service. But when reminded of this particular sentence, and what its meaning, ‘willing submission, and feel themselves subdued’ (saghiroon), they just skip.
As its mentioned earlier, one can never understand where this kind of ruling starts from and ends. What is unambiguous from this verse is that Non Muslims should be in a permanent state of abasement.
The 20th century famous scholar of India, Mufti Muhammad Bulandshahri observes the following in his tafsir, “in today’s times, the system of Atonement (Jizya) is not practiced at all by the Muslims. It is indeed unfortunate that not only are the Muslim States afraid to impose Atonement (Jizya) on the disbelievers (kuffar) living in their countries, but they grant them more rights than they grant the Muslims and respect them more. They fail to understand that Allah desires that the Muslims show no respect to any disbeliever (kafir) and that they should not accord any special rights to them.”. One can only say that he is also a misunderstander of Islam and its compassion towards every one.
(To be cont.)