Kharaj


Kharaj

In Islamic law, kharaj is a tax on agricultural land. "Kharaj" has no basis in the Qur'an or hadith, being rather the product of "ijma", consensus of Islamic scholars, and "urf", Islamic tradition.

Initially, after the first Muslim conquests in the 7th century, "kharaj" usually denoted a lump-sum duty levied upon the conquered provinces and collected by the officials of the former Byzantine and Sassanid empires or, more broadly, any kind of tax levied by Muslim conquerors on their non-Muslim subjects, dhimmis. At that time, "kharaj" was synonymous with "jizyah", which later emerged as a poll tax paid by dhimmis. Muslims landowners, on the other hand, paid only "ushr", a religious tithe, which carried a much lower rate of taxation.Lewis (2002), p. 72]

However, the mass conversion of Christians and Zoroastrians to Islam eroded the tax base of the Arab empire. On top of that, a large, but unsuccessful, expedition against the Byzantine Empire undertaken by the Umayyad caliph Sulayman in 717 brought the finances of the Umayyads to the brink of collapse. Even before Sulayman's ascent to power, Al-Hajjaj, a governor of Iraq, attempted to raise revenues by demanding from Muslims a full rate of taxation, but that measure met with opposition and resentment. To address these problems, Sulayman's successor Umar II worked out a compromise that beginning from 719, land from which "kharaj" was paid could not be transferred to Muslims, who could lease such land, but in that case, they would be required to pay "kharaj" from it. With the passage of time, the practical result of that reform was that "kharaj" was levied on most land without regard for the cultivator's religion. The reforms of Umar II were finalized under the Abbasids and would thereafter form the model of tax systems in the Islamic state.Lewis (2002), p. 79–80] From that time on, "kharaj" was also used as a general term describing all kinds of taxes: for example, the classic treatise on taxation by the 9th century jurist Abu Yusuf was called "Kitab al-Kharaj", i.e. "The Book On Taxation".Lewis (2002), p. 72]

20th century Russian orientalist, A. Yu. Yakubovski, compares the land tax system of Persian Sassanids with that of the post-Islamic Caliphate era:

A comparison between pre-Islamic documents and those of the Islamic period reveals that conquering Arabs increased the land taxation without exception. Thusly, raising taxes of each acre of wheat field to 4 dirhams and each acre of barley field to 2 dirhams, whereas during reign of Khosro Anushiravan it used to be a single dirham for each acre of a wheat or barley field. During the later stage of Umayyad Caliphate, conquered and subjugated Persians were paying from one fourth to one third of their land produce to the Arab Empire as kharaj. [ N. V. Pigulevskaya, A. Yu. Yakubovski, I. P. Petrushevski, L. V. Stroeva, A. M. Belenitski. The History of Iran from Ancient Times to the End of Eighteenth Century (in Persian), Tehran, 1967, p. 161.]

Notes

References

*Cooper, Richard S. "The Assessment and Collection of Kharaj Tax in Medieval Egypt" ("Journal of the American Oriental Society", Vol. 96, No. 3. (Jul. – Sep., 1976), pp. 365–382.
*Cummings, John Thomas; Askari, Hossein; Mustafa, Ahmad. "Islam and Modern Economic Change" in Esposito, 1980, pp. 25–47
*Esposito, John L. (ed.). "Islam and Development: Religion and Sociopolitical Change" (Syracuse, NY, Syracuse University Press, 1980)
*Gaudefroy-Demombynes, Maurice (tr. John P. MacGregor). "Muslim Institutions" (London, Allen & Unwin, 1950)
*Hourani, Albert, "A History of the Arab Peoples" (Cambridge, MA : Belknap-Harvard University Press, 1991)
*Hawting, G. R. "The First Dynasty of Islam: The Umayyad Caliphate AD 661-750" (London, Routledge, 2000)
*Lambton, Ann K. S. "Landlord and Peasant in Persia: A Study of Land Tenure and Land Revenue Administration" (London, Oxford University Press, 1953)
*
*Poliak, A. N. "Classification of Lands in the Islamic Law and Its Technical Terms". "The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures", Vol. 57, No. 1. (Jan., 1940), pp. 50–62.
*
*Watt, W. Montgomery. "Islamic Political Thought: The Basic Concepts" (Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 1980)

External links

* [http://www.iis.ac.uk/glossary/glossary_hk.htm The Institute of Ismaili Studies, Glossary H-K (kharaj)]


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