Sunday, February 22, 2009

Jaziya tax as implemented in India

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Jiziya Tax was imposed upon Hindus during Islamic rule of Delhi Sultanate, Mughal empire up to Akbar and then regime of Aurangjeb. Please understand whar Jizya actually is before considering it as just another tax.

Under Islamic law, jizya or jizyah is a per capita tax levied on the state's non-Muslim citizens. The tax was levied on able bodied men of military age,(with some exemptions, though these were discarded at various points in history). From the point of view of the Muslim rulers, jizya was a material proof of the non-Muslims' subjection, "just as for the inhabitants it was a concrete continuation of the taxes paid to earlier regimes." In return, non-Muslim citizens were permitted to practice their faith, to enjoy a measure of communal autonomy, to be entitled to Muslim protection from outside aggression, to be exempted from military service and taxes levied upon Muslim citizens. 

"Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold forbidden that which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued." - Quran 9.29.

Though jizya was mandated specifically for other monotheistic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism), under the Maliki school of Fiqh jizya was extended to all non-Muslims. Thus some Muslim rulers (Delhi Sultanate, Mughal rulers upto Akbar and then Aurangjeb) also collected jizya from Hindus and Sikhs under their rule. In return for the tax, those who paid the jizya were permitted to keep their non-Muslim religion subject to their meeting certain conditions.

Here is the biggest catch. Conditions. Before I start the conditions, let me again make it clear that the word 'Hindu' was used in medieval times to denote any non-muslim person in India who belongs to Non-Abrahmic faith of Indian origin. That means Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, Vedics, atheists like Charvaka, all fall under category of 'Hindu'.

The conditions which were applied for India during Islamic rule are as follows.

There were clauses in Jiziya Tax. These clauses were specifically tailormade for Indian scenarion as the Quranic Jiziya does not talk about most of the clauses which are mentioned below and were implemented in India. 
  • According to this tax Hindus are not allowed to build new temples. 
  • Nor are they allowed to repair the damaged ones. 
  • Muslims have complete right to stay in any of Hindu places of worship at their discretion. 
  • If it so happens that muslim has to stay at Hindu's place as a guest, Hindus should treat Muslim as a royal guest. 
  • Hindus are barred from naming their children with any muslim names. 
  • Hindus cannot bear arms. 
  • Nor can they bear any jewel studded rings. 
  • Hindus cannot stay very close to Muslim household. 
  • If someone dies in Hindu household, they are not allowed to carry out their funeral rights with all its elaboration, nor can they cry out loud. 
  • Hindus cannot celebrate their festivals with all their pomp and colour. 
  • They should pay stipulated amount of their income to Islamic state for permitting them to follow their infidel religion. 
  • Hindus should show utmost reverence and respect towards Muslims. 
  • Conversion of Hindus to Islam is a holy deed and is to be sponsered and supported by state. 
  • Reconversion from Islam to Hinduism is strictly prohibited and punishable by death penalty."

In short, Hindus were to be reduced to the status of secondary citizens in their own land.

According to pilgrimage tax, all hindus should pay specific amount to state to in order to visit the holy places in their religion. They cannot carry arms along with them. 

India has predominantly been a religious and emotional country. During those times, just economics was not as important as religion is. Jiziya and Pilgrimage tax are designed to change the demographics of they region conquered by Islam in the favor of Muslims. It was a part of psychological warfare to inculcate inferiority complex in minds of Hindus and making them think that it is not profitable, nor worthwhile to remain as Hindus. 

Please understand the relationship between hinduism and India. Without Hinduism, India would be like persia/Iran with all its Zoroastrian heritage wiped out. Like Egypt with all the heritage of pharohs and ptolemy wiped out. To such an extent that Egyptians started considering themselves as Arabs. All of the religious and cultural heritage of North Africa, Carthage, lost due to such extreme proselytization. So is the case of Central Asia and Afghanistan and our very own neighbour Pakistan. Pakistan teaches to its small children that it was never really a part of India and that Mohd bin Qasim brought message of Peace (Islam) to India and liberated Pakistanis from influence of idolators

Jiziya was not just another tax levied upon non muslims. It was an important part of system which was designed to make the very existence of Non-muslims unaffordable, non-profitable. Jiziya should be considered as a means of forcible conversion. Compelling someone to change his faith in such a way is nothing short of forcible conversions.

Akbar abolished this tax from India. That is why his popularity boosted so much in India despite of the fact that he was not very much different than other tyrants and have had his share of Hindu Massacres to elevate him to the status of Ghazi. Many contemporary Hindus spoke highly of him just because he abolished Jiziya and pilgrim tax.

This is because, Jiziya was not just another tax...


*Musalmani Riyasat, volume two, Popular Prakashan, Mumbai and Marathi Riyasat by G S Sardesai

* New history of the Marathas by Govind Sakharam Sardesai; Phoenix Publications, 1946-1986. OCLC:36593825


dguide said...

The Machivellian design to convert Hindu populace has been adopted by Moghuls and Portuguese to a large extent. Moghul followed Jaziya and the Portuguese followed Inquistion. It is miracle that Hinduism surivived this onslaught.

dguide said...

The biggest fault of Hinduism is that we do not have one common day for prayer. Christians have Sunday Mass and Muslims have Jumma on Friday. Don t you think this has contributed the decline of Hinduism.

Chiron said...

In my opinion, what we today call as Hinduism is a truncated version of its originality. If you go through few of my other posts, I have tried to expound that idea in detail. However, I would respond to your comment in brief.

Hindu literally means Indian, this was the real meaning of the term before it was abused in british times. You are indeed right in observing that jaziya is one of the strategies developed to facilitate conversion and it is indeed a miracle that Indic religions survived this onslaught, when they had their own evils like caste system which was ever ready to excommunicate people for certain sins.

Islam and Christianity, at their zenith tried their best to convert Indic population to either of the faiths. However, in the retrospect, I feel that somehow, decentralized setup of Indic religions saved the day for Indic Sanskriti.

By the nature of Indian Sanskriti, ideologies which are highly standardized and which disallow personal interpretations of concepts somehow are not very popular. Hence, Indic ideologies lack the crystalline structure of Abrahamic religions.

This makes them difficult to unite, but also makes them difficult to be overcome in hard times. This is unfortunately the trade-off which was accepted by our ancestors.

I guess, it on the current and coming generations to rediscover Indic sense of on Indian terms to negate the effects of the compromises done by our ancestors in medieval times to ensure the survival.

Shubham Bhavatu !!!