Jizya fan fictionApril 25, 2010
In yet another example of “moderate” Muslims defending the jizya (this time in detail), an Apr. 8 blog post over at Wisdom to ISLAM poses the question, “Does Jizya verse 9:29 of Quran invite Muslims to violence?: commentary on Islamic Jizya state tax.”
Their post is a lengthy defense of the jizya, and the author asks readers and critics of the jizya to “be patient enough and read this article to the end.”
Unfortunately, reading the blog post to the end does not make the jizya any easier to swallow. The blogger is a little less glib than most jizya supporters, and thankfully he doesn’t trot out the old lie about jizya being less than the zakat. Instead, WisdomtoISLAM provides eight primary explanations to defend jizya. But each explanation is either utterly fictitious or problematic… here’s why. (Direct quotes from WisdomtoISLAM’s post appear below in red italics.)
“1. Jizya (Jizah) is not unique in Islam, its equivalent exists even in Bible.”
Wrong. Their “evidence” for jizya in the Bible is Deuteronomy 20:10-15, which says that if going into battle, the Hebrews should first offer their enemies peace, if the enemies agree they shall forced into labor for the Hebrews, and if they resist the Hebrews should besiege them.
However, Deuteronomy 20:17 limits the enemies in this chapter of the Bible to the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites—specific groups of enemies at specific moments in time. Although apologists for the Koran say that the jizya was meant to apply to certain clans in Arabia, nothing in the actual text of the Koran limits the jizya to a specific group. The jizya applies against all the “unbelieving” People of the Book—Jews and Christians.
It should also be noted that Deuteronomy does not say anything about conversions to Judaism or perpetual poll taxes against non-Jews. Moreover, the jizya is currently imposed around the world by Muslims against Catholics in the Philippines, against Sikhs in Pakistan, against Christians in Iraq, and against Jews in Yemen. Nowhere in the world is there any Deuteronomy-based tax being imposed by Jews or Christians against Muslims.
“2. Not paying Jizya (Jizyah) is the condition for using force.”
Agreed! That’s the problem. If non-Muslims living within Muslim territory don’t pay the jizya, Muslims are enjoined to fight them. The Koran and Hadith offer no exemptions, no waivers, no forbearance from the jizya for non-Muslims trapped in the Islamic world.
“3. Verse 9:29 of Quran does not ask Muslims to do forceful conversions.”
Right—that comes from other parts of Islamic law! The Sahih Muslim, one of the most venerated texts of all Islam contains this passage:
When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withhold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them… If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah’s help and fight them. (Book 19, Number 4294.)
That passage is where Muslims got the idea to convert non-Muslims to Islam, force them to pay the jizya, or fight and ultimately kill them. Opponents of jizya and dhimmitude do not base their criticism solely on Koran 9:29.
“4. Quran never commands killing disbelievers just because they disbeliever.”
Actually, that’s exactly what the Koran commands in 9:5 (just a few lines over from the one we’re looking at) which says, “slay the Pagans wherever ye find them.”
“5. Jizyah is not a ransom or a terrible proposition.”
Okay. In that case, if we Christians and Jews actually imposed a tax against Muslims on the flimsy basis of your distorted reading of Deuteronomy, that wouldn’t be such a “terrible proposition” and you would have “no problem in paying”?
“6. Jizyah gives non-Muslims benefits that Muslims do not get.”
Then WisdomtoISLAM explains that non-Muslims get the “benefit” of the protection of the Muslim state—a common defense among the pro-jizya crowd. Muslims do receive the benefit of the protection of the Muslim state, so saying non-Muslims get some “special benefit” is absurd.
Also, is it really a special benefit to be forced to hide your crosses, to worship in secret, to have limitations on where churches and synagogues can be built, to be unable to bear arms for personal defense, and to be unable to testify as a witness at trial? Those are the limitations against Christians and Jews in Muslim lands. Are those the special “benefits” to which you refer?
“7. Every authentic translation of Quran has the word “until” or “till” for verse 9:29.” WisdomtoIslam’s point here is that once the jizya is paid, then the non-Muslim can go about his business freely.
But you see, the jizya is not a one-time payment. It is an annual, recurring requirement (and in that sense it is somewhat comparable to zakat which is due yearly). Non-Muslims are never really free to go about their business under a caliphate.
“7. Quranic impression of Fighting is not always physical.”
You’re probably thinking to yourself, isn’t this the second #7? Why yes, it is! Maybe it doesn’t really count since that statement doesn’t make any sense anyway. If violence in the Koran isn’t meant to be physical, does that mean that we can pay the jizya through words and through our hearts rather than physically?
“8. The Quran is against Oppression, war and promotes peace.”
Unfortunately, the more peaceful, inclusive verses of the Koran were “revealed” to Muhammad early on. Those verses were abrogated by subsequent, more violent revelations. Serious Islamic clerics agree on this point.
The jizya is a repugnant, discriminatory tax. Defending the jizya is an exercise in blind submission to an ideology of hate. The following question is the simplest way to test the jizya sympathizers: if we made you pay it, would you still think it’s fair?