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Emet m'Tsiyon

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Collecting the Poll Tax [Jizyah] in Baghdad, circa 1100

The terms of payment of the poll tax [jizyah] reported here are different from those reported for Jerusalem around 1700 by Gedaliah of Semyatich. Gedaliah reported that the same, identical amount was demanded from both rich and poor among the Jews. The account below by Obadiah the Norman Proselyte for Baghdad around 1100 shows differential jizyah rates for rich and poor.
The law of the poll-tax, collected yearly by the Caliph's official from the Jews, was as follows: Every Jew belonging to the wealthy class had to pay four and a half dinars in gold; a Jew of the middle class two and a half, and a Jew of the poorest a dinar and a half. When a Jew died, who had not paid up the poll-tax to the full and was in debt for a small or large amount, the Gentiles did not permit burial until the debt of the poll-tax was paid. If the deceased left nothing of value, the Gentiles demanded that other Jews should with their own money meet the debt owed by the deceased in poll-tax; otherwise (they threatened), they would burn the body.
[ This is a continuation of the quotation in the previous post from Norman Stillman, The Jews of Arab Lands; also quoted in Bat Ye'or, The Dhimmi Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1985), p 206]
Funny isn't it, that most of the Left, which claims to be against exploitation and against the rule of money, is so sympathetic to aggressive Islam, even understanding jihad.Yet, the Arabs/Muslims were eager to collect tribute from the dhimmis, even demanding payment of the jizyah for a Jew who had died without paying it, from the surviving Jews. The Quran orders that Muslims fight the unbelievers [jihad] until they are brought low and pay tribute [Quran 9:29 in most editions]. There does seem to be a curious greed for filthy lucre lurking in the good Muslim's soul.
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Coming: Rules of the dhimma; More on Jews in Jerusalem, Poems of Zion, etc.

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