Thursday, September 16, 2010
The Crescent, now a symbol of Islam, originally signified the waning Moon, and was associated with the goddess Diana.
As described in blog 14, Muslims belong to the religious, cultural, and political force of Islam. Sharia is the Law of Islam.
Islam is unlike most religious groups which request donations, or more strenuously, "tithes". Islam through Sharia law imposes taxes on Non-Muslims as well as Muslims. Sharia law can become "official" or quasi-official in "host" countries in which Islam has made "inroads", through the activism of Muslim activists.
Muslims apply the concept of the "head tax", apportioned and fixed for each individual. It is a "poll tax", used from ancient times until the 19th Century, as a type of Census. The "poll tax" was used to count the number of citizens who arrive at the polls to vote.
American Blacks have protested poll taxes as voter registration fees. In Virginia voters were charged $1.50 to cover clerk fees for those who did not register and provide resident information 6 months prior to voting, until banned in a federal voting rights lawsuit.
In Sharia Law when a "corvee" is commuted for cash payment, it becomes a poll tax. These can sometimes be paid off by labor, depending on the local interpretation of Sharia.
All Muslims who live above the subsistence level must pay an annual poor tax, a "zakat". This obligation owed by Muslims to the poor community is calculated on wealth, not income. There is a 2.5% base rate of taxation. This varies depending on the type of wealth being assessed, savings, jewelry, or land.
"Jizya" is the head tax on Non-Muslims, classically on able-bodied men of military age, required to be paid to Islamic authorities. In exchange, Non-Muslims receive "dhimma": are permitted to practice their faiths, be exempted from military service, and other local issues. This of course depends on the interpretation by the local "qadis", the Islamic judge.
"Jizya" often is interpreted by Non-Muslims as a form of discrimination or of "protection money" (like in Chicago, IL, 1930s). "Jizya" was abolished by the Ottoman Empire in 1855 as part of reforms to equalize the status of Muslims and Non-Muslims. "Jizya" was replaced by a military-exemption tax on Non-Muslims, the "Bedel-i Askeri".
Be mindful that in Arabic "Sharia" means "path to the water", the meaning of which is obvious to thirsty camel and rider in the Arabian deserts. An interesting question is whether "zakat" and "jizya" frequently were collected on the "sharia" path.
Graphic: Crescent & Star in The Illustrated Book of Sign & Symbol, M. Bruce-Mitford.
Other References: Encyclopedia Britannica, The World Book Encyclopedia, 2003, wikipedia.
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