List of Arabic fiscal terminology in early Islamic Egypt

J. Bruning
version 26.4.2012

All the bibliographies and lists are works in progress. Feel free to send suggestions and/or remarks to

Abbreviations follow the Checklist of published Arabic documents and abbreviated references to books or articles refer to the publications listed here.


Aǧal: ‘term’.
- pap.: P.Qurra 4; Becker (1911), no. 3

Aǧǧala: ‘to set a term for payment’.
- pap.: P.Qurra 4 

Ahl al-qabāla: term found in fiscal overviews designating tenants of agricultural land. See also s.v. ‘qabāla’.
- pap.: P.Mil.Vogl. Arab 7.

Aḫraǧa: see s.v. ‘istaḫraǧa’.

ʽAlā: ‘on (the land of)’.
- bibl.: Diem (2006), 56

‛Amāra: ‘assessment’. In some documents the term is replaced by the term ḫarāǧ (q.v.). 

‛Āmil: fiscal administrator. The Arabic ‛āmil is the origin of the Greek ἀμαλίτης. In P.Lond. IV 1359, the Arabic ‛ummāl corresponds to the Greek ὑπουργοὶ.
- pap.: Abū Ṣafiyya 11; CPR XVI 7; P.Cair.Arab. III 175; P.World, 171-2; Sijpesteijn (2011).
- bibl.: commentary to P.Cair.Arab. III 175; Gonis (2004), 190

Aṣāba (IV): ‘to fall upon’, ‘to be liable to’.
- pap.: P.Cair.Arab. III 180

‛Āšir: someone who collects the tithe (Ar. ‛ušr).
- pap.: P.Heid.Arab. II 6


Bāb (pl. abwāb): a term meaning ‘category’. The term often occurs together with al-ḫarāǧ, “the fisc and (its) categories”, or in the form abwāb al-māl, “different kinds of tax money” (Abū Ṣafiyya 13.4). Among the latter were aḫmās al-madā’in (a fifth levied on the revenues of mines) and aḫmās al-ġanā’im (a fifth levied on booty).
- pap.: P.Cair.Arab. III 146; Abū Ṣafiyya 13, 27; Sijpesteijn (2011).

Bāqī : the ‘remainder’ of tax money that still needs to be paid.
- pap.: cf. P.Heid.Arab. I 2; Grohmann (1938): bāqiyat al-ḥisāba

Baqṭ (C. and Gr. πάκτον): a term meaning “holding” or “rent”. It formed a land tax lower that the ḫarāǧ to be paid, mostly at the value of a tithe, for working a monastery’s land. See also s.v. , ‛ušr’.
- pap.: CPR XXI 7; Grohmann (1938), l. 2: baqṭ al-Qibṭ; P.Philad.Arab. 7
- bibl.: Frantz-Murphy (2001), 186; Morimoto (1981), 184-6; Clackson (2000), 18-20

Barā’a: a document, often translated as ‘quittance’, that proved payment of (part of) the taxes. The document was not limited to use within a fiscal context but can also be found within, e.g., commercial spheres.
- bibl.: Hussein, 141.

Bayt al-māl: the ‘treasury’ (Gr. σάκελλα). An employee of the treasury was called a ḫāzin (pl. ḫuzzān). P.Vindob. G 31 mentions a αὐλὴ τοῦ δημοσίου, which may have been a building other than the bayt al-māl related to the fiscal administration.
- pap.: Abū Ṣafiyya 16, 41; Diem (1984) 3, 4; P.Cair.Arab. II 95, III 149
- bibl.: Bell (1910), 80-1; Cahen (1960); Morelli (1998), 183-6.

Buq‛a: ‘a plot of land’.

D (D, Ḍ)

Daf‛a: a term designating ‘amount’ or ‘payment’ that often introduces documents related to taxation and sums up the amount of money to be paid. A different but seemingly erroneous interpretation of the word is ruq‛a, ‘page’.
- bibl.: Diem (2006), 56; Frantz-Murphy (2001), 126-8.

Ḍarībat (aṭ-ṭaʽām): ‘tax on crops’, part of the public taxes and paid in kind (with ṭa‛ām in the meaning of wheat or food in general; Gr. ἐμβολή σίτου or αἰσια ἐμβολή). Sometimes the term ḫarāǧ is used in a similar sense. In fiscal receipts or leases the term ḍarība does not occur after 182/798. In Greek papyri, the term ἐμβολάρχης stands for an administrative official related to the levying of the tax on crops. The expences for the transport of grain fell on the tax payers and were called ναῦλον ἐμβολῆς.
- pap.: Becker (1907), no. 16; CPR XXI 1, 3, 4, 5; Diem (1984a), nos 3 and 5; P.Cair.Arab. III 160, IV 286; P.Philad.Arab. 7; P.Heid.Arab. I 5, 9, appendix a, c, e, g, k, l
- bibl.: Abū Ṣafiyya, 90-1; Bell (1910), xxv-vi; Foss, 259-60; Frantz-Murphey (2001), 145-6; Hussein, 98-9.


Fuḍūl: ‘extraordinary taxes’ (Gr. ἐκστραόρδινα, also διανομαί is found), meant to cover State expences. Abū Ṣafiyya interprets fuḍūl (‘remainders’; Ar. sg. faḍ l or faḍ la) as the Arabic term for the extraordinary taxes. The word fuḍūl is used in juxtaposition with ‘māl’ (s.v.).
- pap.: Chrest.Khoury I 66: fuḍūl arḍika; Grohmann (1938); Sijpesteijn (2011).
- bibl.: Bell (1910), xxvi, xxix; Abū Ṣafiyya, 94

G (Ǧ, Ġ)

Ǧabā: ‘to collect’.
- pap.: P.Heid.Arab. I 1

Ǧāliya (pl. ǧawālī; Gr. pl. φυγάδες): a ‘fugitive’ who fled from his home village to another in order to escape taxation after the communal responsibility of the fiscal system was changed into a personal responsibility in the second half of the 2nd/8th century. In order to restrain people from fleeing, the administration oblidged the possession of work permits when people wished to leave their village. Greek texts mention a ἐπικείμενος τῶν φυγάδων, ‘commisioner of the fugitives’, who stood in direct contact with the governor. From the late 220s/840s the term ǧāliya seems to have replaced ǧizya in the meaning of poll tax; cf. Grohmann, “Probleme” II 7.
- pap.: Diem (1984a) 7; Grohmann, “Probleme”, II/3, no. 7; P.Berl.Arab. I 1; P.Cair.Arab. III 151; P.Heid.Arab. I 12; Rāġib (1981), no. 2
- bibl.: Abū Ṣafiyya, 88-9; Becker (1911), 367ff.; Cahen (1965a); Cahen (1965b), 561; Christides (1993), 73; Frantz-Murphy (1999), 245ff.; ibid. (2001), 143, 146.

Ġarāma (pl. ġarāmāt): a seldom-occurring financial term meaning ‘a fine’ often mentioned together with the abwāb (see s.v. ‘bāb’) and fuḍūl (q.v.).
- bibl.: Abū Ṣafiyya, 96-7.

Ǧibāya: ‘land survey’.
- pap.: Abbott (1965); P.Ryl.Arab. I § II 8, 9; P.World, 130-2

Ǧizya 1: used for the entire category of ‘money tax’ until 156/773 (after this date ḫarāǧ was used).
- pap.: P.Cair.Arab. III 149, 169: ǧizyat kūratika, 153, 160, 161-3, 174, 175, 180; P.World, 133: ǧazāyat Miṣr; Diem (1984a), no. 8; P.Heid.Arab. I 1, 5, 6, appendix a-l; Becker (1911), no. 3: ǧizyat kūratikā; Sijpesteijn (2011).
- bibl.: Bell (1910), xxv, xxvii; Frantz-Murphy (1999), 247; ibid. (2001), 141; Clackson (2000), 24-6; Cahen (1965b).

Ǧizya 2: ‘poll tax’ (Gr. ἀνδρισμός or διάγραφον). Also the terms ǧizyat ar-ra’s occurs (and from the late 220s/840s ǧāliya).
- pap.: Diem (1984a) 7; Grohmann, “Probleme”, II/3, nos 5, 6, 7, 18; P.Cair.Arab. III 180; P.Gen.Arab. 1; Rāġib, “Sauf-conduits”, nos. 1, 5-8; see also s.v. ‘ǧizya 1’
- bibl.: Bell (1910), xxv, xxvii; Frantz-Murphy (1999), 247; ibid. (2001), 141; Clackson (2000), 24-6; Gonis (2003), 150.

Ǧizyat al-arḍ: ‘land tax’, cf. s.v. ‘ḫarāǧ 1 and 2’.

H (Ḥ, Ḫ)

Ḫāliṣ: a heading in fiscal overviews denoting the remainder.
- pap.: Grohmann (1938)

Ḥaqq: ‘right’ in the sense of a legal claim or asset. Already in the Qurra papyri the expression ḥaqq amīr al-mu’minīn, ‘that to which the caliph is entitled’, is found. In later documents ḥaqq is used as part of ḫarāǧ (q.v.).
- pap.: Sijpesteijn (2011).
- bibl.: Cohen (1960), 1142a-b; Frantz-Murphy (2001), 153-4.

Ḫarāǧ 1: ‘taxes’ in general; ‘money tax’ or ‘public tax’ (Gr. (τὰ χρυσικὰ) δημόσια) after 156/773 (see also s.v. ‘ǧizya’), which was divided into a land tax, poll tax (s.v. ‘ǧizya’) and the extraordinary taxes (s.v. ‘fuḍūl’); ‘land tax’ (s.v. ‘ḫarāǧ 2’).
-pap.: CPR XXI 1, 2.b, 3, 5, 6, 7; David-Weill (1971), no. 16; Diem (1984), nos 3, 5, 7, 10; Grohmann, “Probleme”, II, nos 7, 17, 18; Muġāwirī, Alqāb, III, nos 19, 22; P.Cair.Arab. 77; P.Heid.Arab. II 42
- bibl.: Abū Ṣafiyya, 83-8; Bosworth, 130; Frantz-Murphy (2001), 141-3

Ḫarāǧ 2: ‘land tax’ (Gr. δημόσια γῆς or simply δημόσια). Also ḫarāǧ al-arḍ is attested. This tax was countered by a trade tax (Ar. maks, s.v.), which was to be paid by non-land holding merchants.
- pap.: P.Gen.Arab. 1; P.Khalili I 10
- bibl.: Abū Ṣafiyya, 91-3; Bell (1910), xxv, 222; P.Heid.Arab. I pp. 51-6.

Ḫarāǧ al-arḍ: see s.v. ‘ḫarāǧ 2’. 

Ḫarāǧ al-ǧamāǧim: probably similar to ǧizyat ar-raʼs, ‘poll tax’.
- pap.: Diem (1984a) 7 

Ḥāṣil: either the receipts in the treasury or the amount of tax money expected from the tax collector.

Ḫusr: either a ‘loss’ or a ‘deduction’ in the final state of the tax quota.
- bibl.: Frantz-Murphey (2001), 151.


Intaqala (VIII): verb occuring in tax lists indicating that someone listed lives in another village. Perhaps identical to ittaǧaha (s.v.).
- pap.: PER inv. Ar. Pap. 3136

Istaḫraǧa (X): verb meaning ‘to levy’. Also aḫraǧa occurs. A mustaḫriǧ occurs in P.Heid.Arab. II 6.
- pap.: Abū Ṣafiyya 11; P.Heid.Arab. I 10, 11; Sijpesteijn (2011).
- bibl.: Diem (1983), 108-9.

Ittaǧaha (VIII): verb occuring in tax lists indicating that someone listed lives in another village. Perhaps identical to intaqala (s.v.).
- pap.: P.Cair.Arab. III 203


Kirā’: a type of tenancy based on a fixed rent. The term (or its root) is found in agricultural leases up to 272/885.
- bibl.: Frantz-Murphy (2001), 152; Løkkegaard, 175.


Maks: a kind of money tax levied on merchants as a counterpart of the land tax (s.v. ‘ḫarāǧ 2’).
- pap.: Becker (1911) 4; P.Cair.Arab. I 6
- bibl.: Abū Ṣafiyya, 91-3; Bell (1910), xxv, 222; P.Heid.Arab I pp. 51-6;

Māl: taxes in general, in contrast to the ‘fuḍūl’ (s.v.), extraordinary taxes.
- pap.: Abū Ṣafiyya 13; Sijpesteijn (2011).
- bibl.: Sijpesteijn (2011), p. 266.

Māzūt (pl. mawāzīt; Gr. μειζότερος): term of Greek origin meaning ‘village chief’. Abū Ṣafiyya (146-51) argues that the word should be read as mārūt and that it has a semitic origin.
- pap.: David-Weill (1971) 16; P.Cair.Arab. III 149, 158; P.Heid.Arab. I 8;
- bibl.: Abū Ṣafiyya, 146-151; Frantz-Murphy (2001);

Misāḥa: ‘cadastre’.
- pap.: P.Khalili I 2

Mu’na (also ma’ūna is found, pl. mu’an; Gr. δαπάνη): a term indicating provisions for officials. It may have been similar to, related to, or part of, the δαπάνη (s.v. ‘nafaqa’) and rizq (q.v.).
- bibl.: Frantz-Murphey (2001), 154-5; Løkkegaard, 186-7.

Muta‛aṭṭala: term found in fiscal overviews designating uncultivated land.
- pap.: CPR XXI 2.a


Nafaqa: ‘expenditure’, used to designate the money needed to pay for the sustenance of travelling soldiers or officials.
- pap.: Grohmann, “Aperçu”, 41, 44, 45; P.Heid.Arab. I 7
- bibl.: Bosworth, 136; Hussein, 76-81. 

Naffaḏa (II): ‘to enforce’, ‘to put into effect’.
- pap.: Abū Ṣafiyya 11 

Naǧm (pl. nuǧūm): ‘installment’. See also s.v. ‘ṭabl’.
- pap.: Chrest.Khoury I 65, 66; CPR XVI 5.b; CPR XXI 4;
- bibl.: Frantz-Murphy (2001)

Naḫl: tax on date palms.
- pap.: Grohmann, “Probleme” II 7 

Naqṣ: translated by Grohmann as ‘Abgängen’.
- pap.: Grohmann, “Probleme” 5 

Nawā’ib: a term that is only found in the plural. Its singular may have been nā’iba, literally meaning ‘misfortune’ and hence used for the expences for repairing canals, bridges, and dams that fell on the landholders and was to be paid in addition to the ḫarāǧ (q.v.) and ḍarība (q.v.). Gladys Frantz-Murphy translates it with ‘canal and dam assessments’. The term may be an arabised form of the Greek ναύβιον, which was derived from a ancient-Egyptian term nb. The term appears in dated Arabic documents from 169/785 to 275/887. Løkkegaard interprets the nawā’ib as expenditure for the conveyance and guidance of military and administrative officials.
- pap.: CPR XXI 1, 6; P.Ryl.Arab I § II 7; Loth (1880) (cf. Diem, “‛Ammār”, p. 257, n. 16)
- bibl.: Frantz-Murphy (2001), 155-6; Løkkegaard, 186-7.


Qabāla: ‘tenancy’. Diem ((2006), 56) translates qabālat N.N. as ‘in der Steuerpachtung von N.N.’. 

Qabbāl (pl. qabbālūn): a ‘collector’ who collects the tax on crops in the villages and brings it to the granaries in al-Fusṭāṭ. In one papyrus from the Qurra corpus (Diem (1984), 263 (line 2); cf. Abū Ṣafiyya 17.2), the term qabbāl aḏ-ḏahab occurs. If this reading is correct, the term may have been used as an equivalent to qusṭāl (q.v.).
- pap.: P.Cair.Arab. III 169; P.Heid.Arab. I 3
- bibl.: Hussein, 122; Frantz-Murphey (2001), 50. 

Qassama (II): ‘to assign’ an amount of tax money.
- pap.: Abū Ṣafiyya 11 

Qayyada (II): translated by Grohmann as ‘to amount to’ (?).
- pap.: Grohmann, “Probleme” II 5

Qudūma: it is not known whether qudūma is the beginning of phrase (rendered in Greek by τ(ῆς) καθ(ό)δ(ου)) or has a technical meaning (rendered in Greek as περὶ τ(ῆς) καθ(ό)δ(ου) αὐτ(οῦ) μ(ετὰ) χρυσικ(ῶν) δημ(οσίων)).
- pap.: Cadell (1967) 1.1 

Qusṭāl: also written as ǧusṭāl, the collector of money taxes. The oldest attestation of this collector is in one of the Qurra papyri. In later times the term ǧahbad (pl. ǧahābida) became used instead of qusṭāl. In contrast to the qabbāl (q.v.), who was chosen at a village level, the qusṭāl collected the money taxes due from an entire kūra. See also s.v. ‘qabbāl’.
- pap.: Abū Ṣafiyya 37; P.Cair.Arab. III 149, IV 285
- bibl.: Hussein, 120-1.


Rasm (pl. rusūm): a term used for a register or administrative overview of the kūras within one administrative unit. In this sense it may be interchangeable with the term ǧadwal, ‘table’. In another sense, it may indicate a schedule of rates.
- bibl.: Frantz-Murphey (2001), 113-4; Løkkegaard, 90.

Rizq (Gr. ῥουζικόν, ῥογά): a charge on non-Muslims for the maintenance of Muslim soldiers and administrative officials. The maintenance of soldiers was paid out of the tax on crops (q.v.). In Egypt, the terms ḍiyāfa, nuzl, and qirā seem to have had the same meaning as rizq.
- pap.: Abbott (1965); Abū Ṣafiyya 2, 11, 38; P.Heid.Arab. I 3, 13;
- bibl.: Bell (1910), xxv; Hussein, 52; Løkkegaard, 186; Mayerson (1994) and (1995);

S (S, Š, Ṣ)

Ṣadaqa (also ‛ušr, and zakā): all three Arabic terms in general, and especially as concerns the fisc, were used in similarly meaning a tax that levied to be distributed among the poor (Ar. fuqarā’) and the needy (Ar. miskīn). The fixing of the poor tax per province is called ‛ibra in legal literature. The existence of an overseer of the distribution of the poor tax, called ṣāḥib aṣ-ṣadaqa, is attested in papyri from the early 2nd/8th c. onwards.
- pap.: Grohmann, “Probleme” II 7
- bibl.: Becker (1913); Frantz-Murphy (2001), 143; P.Khalili I, p. 52ff.; Hussein, 126, 141;

Ṣāḥib al-ḫarāǧ: the highest administrative post under the governor related to taxation. In literary sources also the term wālī al-ḫarāǧ is used. 

Ṣāḥib al-maks: an official supervising the taxes levied on merchants (s.v. ‘maks’)
- pap.: P.Heid.Arab. I 2

Sammāk (pl. samāmika; Gr. σύμμαχος): an administrative official involved in collecting taxes.
- pap.: Sijpesteijn (forthcoming), nos. 14, 15.
- bibl.: Sijpesteijn (forthcoming), 206.

Ṣarf: a heading found in some fiscal overviews under which was indicated whether or not the tax payer was given a discount.
- bibl.: Becker (1913); Frantz-Murphey (2001), 146-50. 

Siǧill: ‘register’; see also s.v. ‘tasaǧǧala’.
pap.: CPR XXI 7

T (T, Ṯ, Ṭ)

Ṭabl (pl. ṭubūl): a term on which there is no agreement as to its exact meaning but used in two contexts. Frantz-Murphey interprets ṭabl on the basis of Arabic papyri dating from before 190/805 as ‘register’. Its equivalent in Greek papyri would be κατάγραφον. According to Dennett, such a document was used to establish the tax quota. From 212/827 ṭabl was replaced by siǧill in the same meaning.
- pap.: Chrest.Khoury I 66; CPR XXI 3, 4, 6; Diem (1984) 3; Grohmann, “Probleme”, II/3, no. 5; Grohmann (1938); P.Berl.Arab. II 24; P.Cair.Arab. III 169
- bibl.: Dennett, 97; Frantz-Murphey (2001), 111-4; cf. Løkkegaard, 108

Ṯaman: also ṯaman aṣ-ṣuḥuf or ṯaman al-barā’a; a small amount of money (often 1/48 dinar) to be paid by the tax payer for drafting a receipt. This money may be counted among the ǧizya (as in P.Cair.Arab. III 180). - pap.: P.Cair.Arab. III 180; P.Philad.Arab. 23
- bibl.: commentary to P.Cair.Arab. III 181.8-9; Grohmann, “Probleme”, II, 147

Ta’rīǧ (easily misread as ta’rīḫ): the name used for a document stating the difference between the estimated assessment made in spring and the actual assessment in autumn. It was also used for the difference itself.
- bibl.: Frantz-Murphy (2001), 156-7. 

Tasaǧǧala (V): ‘to register’ in a register (Ar. siǧill).
- pap.: P.Ryl.Arab. I § I 5; P.World, 171-2 

Ṭasq: the tax quota levied on various sorts crops.
- bibl.: Løkkegaard, 125-6. 

Tawzī‛: the ‘apportionment’ of fiscal levies.
- pap.: CPR XXI 3, 5


‛Ušr: there are two different taxes called ‛ušr, ‘tithe’. The first is a tax levied on the lands of Muslim converts. Until the time of the Abbasid caliph al-Mahdī (r. 158/775-169/785) Muslims paid ‛ušr, after that time they were levied ḫarā ǧ (q.v.).  The second kind of tithe is the ἀπαρχή, a rent tax (also called pactum (see s.v. ‘baqṭ’) or dēmosion) levied by monasteries on individuals who worked land in possession of the monastery. Monasteries collected this rent for the payment of their own taxes.
- pap.: Grohmann, “Probleme” II 7
- bibl.: Becker (1905); Clackson (2000), 18-22, 24


Wafr: surplus.
- pap.: Sijpesteijn (2011).

Z (Z, Ẓ)

Zimām: an office possibly for controlling the fisc.
- pap.: K. Younes, ‘New governors identified in Arabic papyri,’ In M. Legendre and A. Delattre (eds.), Authority and control in the countryside: Late Antiquity and Early Islam: Continuity and Change in the Mediterranean 6th-10th century I, (forthcoming) [= P.Ryl.Arab I § I 5]
- bib.: "Zimām" in EI, 2nd ed., XI, p. 509a

Last Modified: 06-02-2015