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KHARAJ. A tax system designed for agrarian land owned by non-Muslims, kharaj is distinct from the tax system for agrarian land owned by Muslims. The Islamic state is allowed to charge kharaj (which is actually a rental) even for uncultivated land. In Islamic fiscal administration, the meaning of the word kharaj, if used without qualification, is land tax; it is imposed on landed properties owned by the conquered people, who were left on them in return fox an annual tax. The kharaj was first introduced after the Battle of Khaibar when the Prophet allowed the Jews of Khaibar to return to their lands on condition that they paid half of their produce as kharaj. Although the only taxes recognized by the Qur’an are zakdt (alms) and jizyah (the first of which is imposed on Muslims and the second on nonMuslims), the legislation of kharaj is based on the legal principle of discretionary interests (al masalih al mursalah), which falls within the framework of the usul alfiqh (four foundations of Islamic jurisprudence), and it is generally agreed that Muslims have an unconditional right to kharaj. In this regard, the Hanbali jurists Ibn `Aqil and Ibn Taymiyah state that the khardj should be understood as a specific act (sui generic) and akin to a contract, based on the consideration of the general interests of the people and their faith.

Since kharaj is imposed on land that had remained in the possession of its original owners, who were initially non-Muslims, khardj was sometimes called “jizyah on land” and likewise jizyah (poll tax) was sometimes called “kharaj on heads.” Legally, the kharaj is a cost paid to the government for protection and safety of the land. The kharaj parallels the `ushr (tithe), which is a similar tax taken from a Muslim and constitutes the zakat on crops. The khardj land is defined either as land conquered by Muslims, or land that was abandoned by inhabitants who fled, or land whose inhabitants undertook to pay a tribute to Muslims and retain ownership of the land. The lands of the regions that fall under the category of khardj land are arable lands, pasture and hunting grounds, and plantations. Houses and places of business were regarded by most jurists as being exempt from kharaj. Payment for kharaj is assessed in several ways, including on the basis of acreage, percentage of the actual harvest, amount of the crop, and a fixed amount irrespective of any factors. It is commonly agreed that one full year should pass after the time of collection before the khardj can be taken again. Khardj belongs to the community as a whole and not to a particular group and should be expended according to the prevailing view on the common interests of the Muslim community.

[See also Jizyah; Land Tenure; Property; Taxation; Zakat. ]


Abu Yusuf. Kitab al-kharaj. Cairo, 1352/1933

Tabataba’i, Husayn Mudarrisi. Kharaj in Islamic Law. London, 1983. Yahya ibn Adam. Kitab al-khardj. Translated by Aharon Ben Shemesh. Leiden, 1967.


Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/kharaj/

  • writerPosted On: July 24, 2014
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