The Problem of Jizyah:
One of the problems raised by missionaries and orientalists is the imposition of the Jizyah on all non-Muslims. This institution has been so misinterpreted and misexplained that even the non-Muslims feel that it is some kind of religion-based discrimination against them. This is not the case. All the Jizyah amounts are to be a financial obligation placed upon those who do not have to pay the Zakat. As the ratio of these two taxes is the same, it is obvious that the Jizyah is simply a technique used by Islamic governments to make sure that everyone pays his fair share. If the term 'Jizyah' is too offensive to non-Muslims, it can always be changed: ‘Umar bin Al-Khattaab, may Allah be pleased with him, levied the Jizyah upon the Christians of the Bani Taghlib and called it Sadaqah (alms) out of consideration for their feelings.
The noted historian Sir Thomas W. Arnold in his Call to Islam, states:
"This tax was not imposed on the Christians, as some would have us think, as a penalty for their refusal to accept the Muslim faith, but was paid by them in common with the other Thimmies or non-Muslim subjects of the state whose religion precluded them from serving in the army, in return for the protection secured for them by the arms of the Mussalmans, (i.e. the Muslims). When the people of Hirah contributed the sum agreed upon, they expressly mentioned that they paid this Jizyah on condition that: 'The Muslims and their leader protect us from those who would oppress us, whether they be Muslims or others.’"
In his covenant with the people of certain cities near Al-Hayrah, Khaalid bin Al-Waleed, may Allah be pleased with him, recorded: “If we are able to protect you, we deserve the collection of Jizyah; otherwise, we shall not offer you protection."
The seriousness with which the Muslims took their covenants with the non-Muslims is well illustrated by the following incident. During the reign of the second caliph, ‘Umar bin al-Khattaab, may Allah be pleased with him, the Roman emperor, Heraclius, raised a huge army to repel the Muslim forces. It was, thus, incumbent upon the Muslims to concentrate their efforts on the battle. When the commander of the Muslims, Abu ‘Ubaydah, may Allah be pleased with him, heard this news, he wrote to his officials in all conquered cities in
The Jizyah was also imposed on Muslim men who could afford to buy their way out of military service. If a Christian group elected to serve in the state’s military forces, it was exempted from the Jizyah. Historical examples of this abound: the Jarajima, a Christian tribe living near
Other examples are to be found during the history of the Ottoman Empire: the Migaris, a group of Albanian Christians, were exempted from the Jizyah for undertaking to watch and guard the mountain ranges of Cithaeron and Geraned (which stretch to the
[From: 'Islam at the Crossroads', by Muhammad Asad]