Much has been made of Aurangzeb’s reimposition of the poll tax (jizya, or jizyah) on Hindus. However, as the text of the fatwa, which is seldom read, indicates, an exemption was provided for various classes of people, such as those who were indigent, without employment, unable to work on account of poor health, and so on. Moreover, the fatwa clearly shows that the amount was, far from being uniform, fixed according to a person’s ability to pay. The statement that the jizyah was imposed as well on “the people of the Book” — here doubtless a reference to Christians and Jews — is particularly significant, since it suggests that there was no animus directed particularly against the Hindus. The translation below is by Anver Emon of the Department of History, UCLA.


Al-Fatawa al-Alamgiriyyah = Al-Fatawa al-Hindiyyah fi Madhhab al-Imam al-A‘zam Abi Hanifah al-Nu‘man (Beirut: Dar al-Ma‘rifah, 1973), 2:244-245.

Chapter on Jizyah

[Jizyah] refers to what is taken from the Dhimmis, according to [what is stated in] al-Nihayah. It is obligatory upon [1] the free, [2] adult members of [those] who are generally fought, [3] who are fully in possession of their mental faculties, and [4] gainfully employed, even if [their] profession is not noble, as is [stated in] al-Sarajiyyah. There are two types of [jizyah]. [The first is] the jizyah that is imposed by treaty or consent, such that it is established in accordance with mutual agreement, according to [what is stated in] al-Kafi. [The amount] does not go above or below [the stipulated] amount, as is stated in al-Nahr al-Fa’iq. [The second type] is the jizyah that the leader imposes when he conquers the unbelievers (kuffar), and [whose amount] he imposes upon the populace in accordance with the amount of property [they own], as in al-Kafi. This is an amount that is pre-established, regardless of whether they agree or disagree, consent to it or not.

The wealthy [are obligated to pay] each year forty-eight dirhams [of a specified weight], payable per month at the rate of 4 dirhams. The next, middle group (wast al-hal) [must pay] twenty-four dirhams, payable per month at the rate of 2 dirhams. The employed poor are obligated to pay twelve dirhams, in each month paying only one dirham, as stipulated in Fath al-Qadir, al-Hidayah, and al-Kafi. [The scholars] address the meaning of “gainfully employed”, and the correct meaning is that it refers to one who has the capacity to work, even if his profession is not noble. The scholars also address the meaning of wealthy, poor, and the middle group. Al-Shaykh al-Imam Abu Ja‘far, may Allah the most high have mercy on him, considered the custom of each region decisive as to whom the people considered in their land to be poor, of the middle group, or rich. This is as such, and it is the most correct view, as stated in al-Muhit. Al-Karakhi says that the poor person is one who owns two hundred dirhams or less, while the middle group owns more than two hundred and up to ten thousand dirhams, and the wealthy [are those] who own more than ten thousand dirhams…The support for this, according to al-Karakhi is provided by the fatawa of Qadi Khan (d. 592/1196). It is necessary that in the case of the employed person, he must have good health for most of the year, as is stated in al-Hidayah. It is mentioned in al-Idah that if a dhimmi is ill for the entire year such that he cannot work and he is well off, he is not obligated to pay the jizyah, and likewise if he is sick for half of the year or more. If he quits his work while having the capacity [to work] he [is still liable] as one gainfully employed, as is [stated in] al-Nihayah. The jizyah accrues, in our opinion, at the beginning of the year, and it is imposed on the People of the Book (whether they are Arab, non-Arab, or Majians) and idol worshippers (‘abdat al-awthan) from among the non-Arabs, as in al-Kafi…The [jizyah] is not imposed on the idol worshippers from among the Arabs or from among the apostates, where they exist. Their women and children [are considered] as part of a single liability group (fi’). [In other words], whoever from among their men do not submit to Islam shall be killed, and no jizyah is imposed upon their women, children, ill persons or the blind, or likewise on the paraplegic, the very old, or on the unemployed poor, as is stated in al-Hidayah.