Non-Muslims foot the bill of the Islamic army

March 10, 2010

The Bayt al-Mal, the treasury of the caliphate (both in real Islamic history and as a theoretical ideal today), is funded mostly by taxes on non-Muslims living under Muslim control.  That means cash flow comes from the jizya, the tax against non-Muslim people, and the kharaj, the tax against non-Muslim land.

Zakat, on the other hand, is essentially managed by the Islamic government, but not necessarily retained by the Bayt al-Mal.

This was confirmed by Abu Yusuf in the Kitab Al-Kharaj, the major tax treatise of Islam.  And Islamic finance bloggers are still making that point.  On Islamic Economy on March 5, blogger Romi Adetio Setiawan quoted from the eleventh century Hanafi jurist Al-Sarakhsi who said:

“If the head of an Islamic state needs money to give salaries to his army, but he finds no money in the Kharaj department of the Baitul-mal (wherefrom the salaries are generally given) he can give salaries from the sadaqah (Zakah) department, but the amount so taken from the sadaqah department shall be deemed to be a debt on Kharaj department.”

Did you catch that?  It’s a very short, jargony explanation.  But basically, wages for Islamic holy warriors shall be paid for out of the “Kharaj department” (the department taxing lands conquered by Islam). Wages can be paid for from zakat or sadaqa only under emergency scenarios and must be repaid.


  1. […] and supplies.  Under classical Islamic tax law, money collected from jizya and kharaj taxation is used to provision the army of the […]

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