Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Jews and Islam: People of the book

Letter sent to The Economist...
Dear Editor,

I was reading the article entitled 'Jews and Islam: People of the book' in the August 14th issue (Books and Arts section) and couldn't quite understand (at the end of the first paragraph) the use of double quotes around the word "protected" as well as the use of the adjective "heavy" to describe the tax paid by non-Muslims. I would be curious to know how much this tax was exactly. Perhaps the author(s) could provide some sort of figure? Also, excuse my ignorance but I thought this tax was as a replacement for the 'zakah' that Muslims pay and which non-Muslims needn't pay and also as an exemption for non-Muslims' not participating in the army. Please correct me if I am mistaken. This is a genuine question by the way and I hope I don't come across sarcastic.

Adil Hussain (07954 402 672)
... The slyness of their comments really ticks me off sometimes!

1 comment:

adil said...

Response received from the author of the article...

Dear Mr Hussain,

Thank you for your letter to the editor, which was passed on to me as the author of the article in question.

The use of quotes around "protected" was meant to indicate that this is what "dhimmiyeen" meant.

The jizya tax was usually a per capita tax rather than a percentage, unlike the zakat, which is one fortieth of one's wealth. Because of this the jizya was often quite heavy; although there was a system of tiers, in some cases it was said to reach half of a person's annual income, though obviously some richer dhimmiyeen would have found it much lighter.

Yours sincerely,

Gideon Lichfield

... always impressed that they respond and answer what is being asked!