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In states ruled by Islamic law, jizya or jizyah (Arabic: جزْية; Ottoman Turkish: cizye) was a per capita tax imposed on able bodied Dhimmi (protected non - Muslim) men of military age. The tax was not supposed to be levied on slaves, women, children, monks, the old, the sick, hermits and the poor, though these provisions were abandoned in later periods of Muslim history. Non-Muslim Dhimmi citizens who paid the tax were permitted to practice their faith and to enjoy a measure of communal autonomy as well as being entitled to Muslim protection from outside aggression and being exempted from military service amongst numerous other exemptions to levies upon Muslim citizens, but Dhimmi constituted a second class status.  

Taxation from the perspective of people who came under the Muslim rule, was a concrete continuation of the taxes paid to earlier regimes. Sometimes the tax was lower under Muslim rule. From the point of view of the Muslim conqueror, the tax was a material proof of the subjection of the Dhimmi, as well as payment in lieu of military service

The Jizya was mandated by the Quran, Surah 9, verse 29:

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.

Synonyms and alternate spellings: Jizyah, tribute, poll tax

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Encyclopedia of the Middle East

Note - This encyclopedia is a work in progress. It is far from complete and is being constructed and improved all the time. If you would like to contribute articles or expansions of existing articles, please contact news (at) mideastweb.org.  Suggestions and corrections are welcome. The concise version of this dictionary is at our Middle East Glossary.

Spelling - Spelling of words in Middle-Eastern languages is often arbitrary. There may be many variants of the same name or word such as Hezbollah, Hizbolla, Hisbolla or Husayn and Hussein. There are some conventions for converting words from Semitic languages such as Arabic and Hebrew There are numerous variant renderings of the same Arabic or Hebrew words, such as "Hizbollah," "Hisbulla" etc. It is not possible to find exact equivalents for several letters. 

Pronunciation - Arabic and Hebrew vowels are pronounced differently than in English. "o" is very short. The "a" is usually pronounced like the "a" in market, sometimes as the "a" in "Arafat."  The " 'A " is guttural.  " 'H "- the 'het ('Hirbeh, 'Hebron, 'Hisbollah') designates a sound somewhat similar to the ch in "loch" in Scots pronunciation, but made by touching the back of your tongue to the roof of your mouth. The CH should be pronounced like Loch, a more assertive consonant than 'het.

The "Gh" combination, and sometimes the "G," designate a deep guttural sound that Westerners may hear approximately as "r." The "r" sound is always formed with the back of the tongue, and is not like the English "r."

More information: Hebrew, Arabic

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