Why 20 percent? The Koran 8:42 says that “when ye have taken any booty, a fifth part belongeth to God and to the Apostle…” This one-fifth tax, or khums, on booty or the spoils of war has been a common revenue-raising measure employed by caliphs, sultans, and Muslim military commanders since the eighth century.
BBC’s “File on 4” aired a report on Feb. 17 examining the extent to which ISIS controls the market in smuggling antiquities out of eastern Syria, especially around the ISIS stronghold in Raqqa, for follow-on sales through middlemen in Turkey and elsewhere to wealthy European and Gulf buyers. The BBC’s Simon Cox spoke from Lebanon with “Ahmed,” one Syrian dealer working in Turkey who described ISIS’s 20 percent cut on the archaeological black market. Listen to this three minute clip of their conversation (please allow several seconds after clicking the arrow for the audio to play):
Hat tip to Alan for sending this over.
Prior Money Jihad coverage of ISIS’s reliance on khums is here, here, here, and here.