Is Jizya a Religious Tax?
Are Temples Permitted in Muslim Countries?
You claim that in the Islamic state the non-Muslim religious minorities will enjoy religious freedom equal to that of secular nations or even more. But do the Hindus in any Muslim country have permission to build temple? Isn't it true that in countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh even the existing temples are being demolished?
In all Muslim countries, where there are Hindu citizens including Pakistan and Bangladesh there is permission to build temple and worship therein. Neither the government nor the people interfere with it in any manner. They are also given necessary help. A few years ago the Malayalam daily newspaper 'Mathrubhumi' reported that ''the Government of Bangladesh sanctioned approximately six lakh rupees for the renovation of Hindu temples and charitable institutions. The minister for law and justice and spiritual affairs who took a decision in this regard said that the Government was interested in the well being of all religions'' (Mathrubhumi - 4.10.1985)
Kesari, a weekly magazine published by R.S.S. writes about Indonesia, which is another Muslim country that the constitution of Indonesia reveals the secular nature of the country, which gives complete freedom of worship to all people. The government gives equal recognition and encouragement to the four religions; Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism. For this there is a special department under the government. Followers of different religions live here in harmony and love'' (Kesari 7.6.1987).
In Pakistan the government specially sanctions rice and sugar for Hindus during the festivals like Deepawali and Jenmashtami. Moreover the government sanctions scholarships to students of the minority communities studying in the recognized colleges and schools in Lahore district. The government also sanctioned a grant of Rs. Six lakhs to the Christians in Lahore for a burial ground.
In 1992, when the Babri Masjid was demolished some thoughtless people of Bangladesh and Pakistan attacked the temples there. It is worth mentioning that such thoughtless crowds were prevented and the temples were protected by the Islamists of those areas. In those days, when temples were attacked in Pakistan and Bangladesh, the noted Malayalam poet Sugathakumari wrote in India Today: "What actually did the Hindus achieve by the demolition of Babri Masjid? In the neighbouring countries many temples were attacked, and our culture does not allow us not to reconstruct the demolished mosque. But can the attacked temples be ever renovated?
What actually happened was just the opposite. Within nine months the governments of Pakistan and Bangladesh renovated the temples. This incident was reported by the Indian newspapers. This writer sent those news and the articles published in India Today to Ms Sugathakumari for her response, but the poet did not bother to send a reply because reality was different from what she imagined and what was spread in the country.
Islam doesn't permit anyone to scorn the objects of worship held sacred by other religions or to attack their places of worship. So places of worship will not be attacked or demolished in any Muslim country. If some thoughtless people are involved in such acts of violence the Islamic society and government are responsible to reconstruct the demolished structures.
Ban on Temples in Gulf countries
It is heard that Hindus are not allowed to build temples in Gulf countries. Why is it so?
There are no Hindu citizens in Gulf countries. The Hindus in these countries are migrants from foreign countries who went there for some jobs. Foreigners including Muslims have no right in these countries to own land or to build places of worship. In other words the law in these countries doesn't permit even Muslims who are foreigners to build mosques; just as in India or in other secular countries the foreign citizens have no right to build their own houses of worship.
Yet some gulf countries gave special permission to Sindhi Hindus who have been living there for quite a long time to build their own temples. Kesari, the Malayalam journal of RSS writes that, ''the Indian and Sindhi Hindus had settled in places like Muscat, Bahrain and Dubai right from the colonial period and the Hindus had played an active role in the development of these places. Realizing this fact the rulers of these places used to give them special consideration'' (Kesari 6.4.1986)
''The Sheikh of Dubai was very keen in giving them all facilities. As per request from the Sindhi Hindus, he permitted them to build a temple, to worship the goddesses of their choice and also to celebrate their festivals. He even sanctioned a burial ground for the Hindus'' (Kesari 5.1.1986)
Doesn't the Islamic state recover Jizya, a religious tax, from the non-Muslim citizens? Isn't it discrimination and unjust?
Jizya is not a religious tax, and such an impression is wrong. Being a much misunderstood topic, it will be useful to discuss it in some detail. Muslims are obliged to pay ten percent of their agricultural income and two and a half percent of other incomes to the public treasury. This `Zakat', being a part of worship, cannot be implemented on the followers of other religions; because such a step will amount to a negation of their religious freedom. So in order to maintain the economic equilibrium of the society, another tax, which is not connected with the Islamic belief and practices, was imposed on the non-Muslim citizens. This tax is known as Jizya, and it stands in the place of `Zakat' which is compulsorily recovered from Muslims.
All wealthy Muslims are bound to pay `Zakat'. No one including women, children, the aged and the sick is exempted from it. However, compared to Zakat, there are many exemptions and rebates in Jizya. Jizya is not recovered from women, children, the blind, the aged, from the insane, from the chronic patients, priests of monasteries and temples etc. So Jizya is not a discrimination against the non - Muslim citizens. It is not only not unjust, but a means of bringing them relief and rebate.
If any non-Muslim citizen comes forward like the Muslim citizens to pay Zakat, the Islamic state will exempt him from Jizya. For this there are several examples in history. An incident is quoted by Sir Thomas Arnold in his book 'The Preaching of Islam'. "They (The Taghlib) were called upon to pay the Jizya or a tax imposed on the non-Muslim subjects, but they felt it to be humiliating to their pride to pay tax that was levied in return for protection of life and property, and petitioned the caliph (Umar) to be allowed to make the same kind of contribution as the Muslims did. So in lieu of the Jizya they paid a double sadaqa or alms, which was a poor tax levied on the fields and cattle etc. of the Muslims (Preaching of Islam PP 49-50).
It is the duty of the government of an Islamic state to protect the citizens. The Muslims of the state are bound to do compulsory military service to protect the life, property and honour of all citizens, including those of the non-Muslims. Jizya was imposed on non-Muslims for ensuring their protection and also in lieu of exempting them from military service. It should be mentioned that in those days the soldiers were not paid. The state also used to give Jizya back to the payers, if it failed in protecting them. Similarly the non-Muslim citizens who volunteered for military service were also exempted from paying this tax. Sir Thomas Arnold writes: ''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 Dhimmis 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 Musalmans......."
We find similar instances of remission of Jizya in the case of Christians who served in the army or navy under the Turkish rule. For example, the inhabitants of Megaris, a community of Albanian Christians, were exempted from the payment of this tax on condition that they furnished a body of armed men to guard the passes over mounts Citheron and Geranea, which lead to the Isthmus of Corinth; the Christians who served as pioneers of the advance-guard of the Turkish army, repairing the roads and bridges, were likewise exempt from tribute and received grants of land quit of all taxation and Christian inhabitants of Hydra paid no direct taxes to the Sultan, but furnished instead a contingent of 250 able-bodied seamen to the Turkish fleet who were supported out of the local treasury......
"The southern Rumanians, the so called Armatoli who constituted so important an element of strength in the Turkish army during the 16th and 17th centuries, and Mirdites, a tribe of Athanian Catholics who occupied the mountains to the worth of Scutari were exempt from taxation on condition of supplying an armed contingent in time of war. In the same spirit, in consideration of services they rendered to the state, the capitation tax was not imposed upon the Greek Christians who looked after the aquaducts that supplied Constantinople with drinking water, nor on those who had charge of the powder-magazine in that city. On the other hand, when the Egyptian peasants, although Muslims in faith, were made exempt from military service, a tax was imposed upon them as on the Christians, in lieu there of (The Preaching of Islam. Page 61-63).
During the prophets' time as the non-Muslim communities had participated in the security and defence of the state Jizya was not collected from them.
In short, as the westerners spread and the people who became their megaphones took up later, Jizya is not a religious tax. Actually it is a tax for exemption from war. It was paid by people, who, though they had possessed good physical strength and other means, was unwilling and kept away from the war front. In other words Jizya was the reward given by people who kept away from war at a time when military service was compulsory. By keeping away from war - they had enjoyed the economic and physical security. At the same time, along with the compulsory military service, the Muslim citizens of an Islamic state are obliged to pay Zakat. It should not be forgotten that at all times the amount of Zakat was much larger than that of Jizya. The non - Muslim citizens were exempted from Jizya whenever they were ready to do military service or to pay Zakat. Today military service is being paid, but the Islamic state will not impose Jizya on its non-Muslim citizens. Hence the religious minorities will not have to suffer any discrimination in the Islamic state. Moreover, as they are exempted from Zakat they are economically in a better position in view of the relief and rebates they enjoy.