Jizyah on Hindus during Islamic Mughal Rule | Mughal History
Jizyah and Humiliation on Hindus during Islamic Mughal Rule
The practice of imposing jizyah on dhimmi subjects will give one a clear idea of the social degradation they faced in Muslim states. The payment of jizyah was not like writing away a check or sending money to the collector’s office. Instead, the dhimmi, demands Allah, must ‘pay the jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued (humiliated)’ in the process.
Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.- Quran 9/29
Paying jizyah in “willing submission” and “humiliation” meant that it had to be paid according to a demeaning protocol that would engender such an impact on the dhimmi. The great Islamic commentator al-Zamakhshari (d. 1144) interprets the Quranic verse 9:29 on jizyah payment as thus:
‘The jizyah shall be taken from them with belittlement and humiliation. (The dhimmi) shall come in person, walking not riding. When he pays, he shall stand, while the tax-collector sits. The collector shall seize him by the scruff of the neck, shake him and say: ‘Pay the jizyah!’ and when he pays it, he shall be slapped on the nape of his neck.’
Let us have a look at how these standard theories were applied in India. Emperor Aurangzeb, having reimposed jizyah on the Hindus in 1679, promulgated the following protocol for the payment of jizyah:
‘The jizyah lapses on the death and acceptance of Islam… The non-Muslim should bring himself the jizyah; if he sends it through his deputy it should not be accepted. At the time of payment, non-Muslim must keep standing, while the chief should keep sitting. The hand of the non Muslim should be below and that of the chief above it and he should say ‘Make payment of jizyah, O! non-Muslim…’’
When Sultan Alauddin Khilji sought advice from learned scholar Qazi Mughisuddin regarding the collection of kharaj (land-tax), the Qazi prescribed a similar protocol, adding that ‘‘should the collector choose to spit into his mouth, he opens it. The purpose of this extreme humility on his part and the collector’s spitting into his mouth, is to show the extreme subservience incumbent on this class, the glory of Islam and the orthodox faith, and the degradation of the false religion (Hinduism).’’
Similarly, Persian scholar Mulla Ahmad wrote to remind liberal and tolerant Sultan Zainul Abedin of Kashmir (1417–67) that ‘‘the main object of levying the jizyah on them is their humiliation… God established jizyah for their dishonor. The object is their humiliation and (the establishment of) the prestige and dignity of the Muslims.’’
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Popular Sufi master Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi, frustrated by Emperor Akbar’s tolerant policies toward non-Muslims against jizyah, which violated Islamic laws, wrote to the emperor’s court: ‘‘The honor of Islam lies in insulting the kufr (unbelief) and kafir (unbelievers). One who respects the kafirs dishonors the Muslims… The real purpose of levying the jizyah on them is to humiliate them to such an extent that they may not be able to dress well and to live in grandeur. They remain terrified and trembling.’’ Similar were the views of Sufi saint Shah Walliullah and of many other leading Islamic scholars and Sufi masters throughout the period of Muslim rule in India.
These measures, meant for the extreme humiliation of dhimmis, were to remind them of their utterly degraded socio-political status in Muslim states. It should not be difficult to conceive the kind of psychological pressure such subjection of the Hindus to utmost humiliation and degradation had created on them to convert to Islam…………
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