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Osama's Tax Incentives to Americans --- Not Telling the Whole Truth

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Muhammad Hussain
Message Muhammad A Hussain

In his latest video message, Osama bin Laden coaxed Americans to accept Islam, in which, he also offered them heavy tax incentive. He said, "There are no taxes in Islam, but rather there is a limited Zakaat [alms] totaling 2.5 percent" [ABC New Blog]. This huge tax-cut might be very tempting for the well-off and big corporations in America . However, he is not telling us whole truth about the taxation system of ideal Islamic states, such as was in the now-defunct Islamic caliphate, which Osama wants to reinstate on the global scale.


A true Islamic state will have two kinds of citizens: the believers (Muslims) and the dhimmis. Dhimmis, according to Islam, constitute of four kinds of monotheists that existed in Arabia at time of Muhammad ― namely the Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians (Magians) and the Sabians. The idolaters (also heathens, atheists etc.) must accept Islam or be killed as commanded in the Quran: "kill the idolaters, wherever ye find them" [Quran 9:5]. But the Umayyad caliphs (661–750 CE) allowed the idolaters to live under the category of dhimmis in violation of the Quran. Umayyads were rightly condemned as "Godless" by the pious orthodox and the wider Muslim community for their numerous actions that violated the Quran or defied Allah.


Bin Laden tells us that Zakat is the only tax in Islam. But he does not tell us that it applies only to Muslim citizens. He does not tell us about other taxes being imposed on dhimmi citizens, who must pay at least two other kinds of taxes in ideal Islamic states, namely the jiziyah (poll-tax) and kharaj (land-tax). There is a third kind of divinely sanctioned income of the Islamic states, called khams.


Khams is the spoils of war, also extracted from the non-Muslims. It was the major component of income of the only ideal Islamic state of Medina , which was founded and ruled by Prophet Muhammad during his 10-year tenure (622–632). Muslims, under Muhammad's leadership, only engaged in conquest, raids and plunder for making a living, which was thought to be the ideal means of earning livelihood by devout early Muslims. They never engaged in agriculture or trades. This mode of living was sanctioned by the Prophet himself according to a tradition: Narrated Abu Umama al-Bahili: I saw some agricultural equipments (sic) and I heard the Prophet saying: "There is no house in which these equipment enters except that Allah will cause humiliation to enter it" [Sahih Bukhari 3.39.514]. Dr Muhammad Muhsin Khan, the translator of al-Zubaidi's collection of Sahih Bukhari hadiths, comments on this hadith that the profession of cultivation is often of oppressive humiliation especially under the feudal system. By indulging in this work, one may neglect the obligatory Jihad in Allah's cause [al-Zubaidi, p505].

The best example of acquiring khams revenue was Muhammad's capture of the assets, weapons and abodes of the Jews, after attacking and banishing them from Medina by deportation (Qainuqa and Nadir tribes) and mass-slaughter (Quraiza tribe). In the latter case, 600-800 adult males were executed, while the women and children were enslaved and included in the khams. This also received sanction from Allah: "(of the defeated Jews) Some ye slew, and ye made captive some. And He caused you to inherit their land and their houses and their wealth, and land ye have not trodden. Allah is ever Able to do all things" [Quran 33:26-27].

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Muhammad Hussain is a researcher and freelance writer.
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