Study: The use of terms ğizya and ḫarāğ in the first 200 years of hiğra in Egypt

By M.A.L. Legendre & K. Younes.

For references to fiscal terms used in this text, see here. For a bibliography on the early Islamic taxation system, see here.

Introduction

In the early Umayyad period non-Muslims in Egypt were paying land- and poll-tax levied together under the term ğizya (that could be employed with a technical meaning when specified as ğizya al-arḍ or ğizya al-ra's) and Muslim were paying ṣadaqa. Those were the permanent public taxes but there were also temporary imposts (so-called extraordinary taxes among which were fuḍūl, rizq, …). The poll-tax was paid in money and the land tax could be paid in money or in kind, the later being called ḍariba. In that sense, only the term ğizya appears in the fiscal and administrative documents from the first part of the Umayyad period to designate the permanent public taxes paid in money being poll- or land-tax.[1]

Increasing numbers of conversions and implementation of Muslims and converts in the countryside acquiring and farming lands as well as redefinition of the status of conquered land, led progressively to the separation of poll-tax (under the term ğizya) from land-tax (under the term ḫarāğ).[2] This solution is attributed in the narratives to the caliphs ‘Umar II (r. 99-101/717-20) and Hishām (r.105-25/724-43) and his finance director and governor in Egypt ‘Ubayd Allāh b. al-Ḥabḥab.[3] This separation was theorized in the law schools in what became the later dominant legal opinion of interpretation of ḫarāğ as rent on the conquered land whose income should benefit all Muslims.[4]

However this change of terminology is not visible at this date in the papyri from Egypt. The term ḫarāğ is of Persian origin and might have been used in other parts of the Empire earlier than attested in Egypt.[5] Only in the mid-2nd century A.H., we find the first attestation of ḫarāğ in a papyrus (P.David-WeillLouvre 16 a quittance dated 156AH/773AD) and in this project we have looked at the documents dated to the first 200 years of Islam in Egypt in order to define the exact contexts in which terms ğizya and ḫarāğ were used in this period.

1. Attestations of the term ğizya

a. Type of documents:

There are seventeen collective tax demand notes issued in the name of the governor Qurra b. Ṧarīk to the people of several villages in the district of Aphroditô. All these documents are dated of the year 91/710, the tax involved (tax in money and land tax in kind) were, however, due for the impost of year 88/707. The table below details the amounts and localities to which those demand notes were addressed:

Nr Village Money tax (ğizya) Land tax in kind (ḍariba) Edition
1 Ṧubrā Baqawnisa 490 128+1/2+1/12 P.Heid.Arab. I a
2 Šubrā ’Anfidawduna 131+1/3 - P.Heid.Arab. I b
3 Šubrā Bunāna 47+1/6 5 P.Heid.Arab. I c
4 Šubrā Qaramiyyaẗa 25+1/3 - P.Heid.Arab. I d
5 Unknown 30+1/6 18+1/2+1/4 P.Heid.Arab. I e
6 Munyat Ṭawrīna 98 18+1/2+1/4 P.Heid.Arab. I f
7 Munyat Kanīsat Māriyya 5 88 P.Heid.Arab. I g
8 Munyaẗi Faruwaha 10 - P.Heid.Arab. I h
9 Munya Barbariyya 47+1/2 - P.Heid.Arab. I VI
10 Kanīsat Māriyya 461+1/2 - P.Heid.Arab. I i
11 Badiyadusa 400+1/2+1/3 273+1/3+1/12 P.Heid.Arab. I v
12 Badiyadusa 253+1/6 250 P.Heid.Arab. I k
13 Badiyadusa 104+1/3 235 P.Heid.Arab. I l
14 Šubrā Bisīrū  30+1/6 11+1/3 P.Cair.Arab. 160
15 ʾUrūs Mariyya 37 - P.Cair.Arab. 162
16 Šubrā ʾAǧiyuh 28+1/6 - P.Cair.Arab. 161
17 Hurūs ʾAbīrmayūṭus - P.Cair.Arab. 163

There are two tax demand notes to individual tax-payers.

  • The first document is issued in the name of the financial director ‘Ubayd allāh b. al-Ḥabḥāb (in office 102-116/720-734) to a certain Ǧirǧa b. Lonǧīn(os) residing in Fusṭāṭ to pay for his poll-tax (ǧizyat ra’sika) of the year 131/713 two dīnārs and one eighth and one sixth and a half carat.[6]

  • The second document is issued in the name of a certain Fuḍayl b. Ḥakīm probably a local administrative official to a certain Indūna Hārūn. The text mentions three different kind of taxes: poll-tax (ǧizyat ra’sihi), land-tax (ǧizyat arḍihi) and extraordinary tax intended for the commander of faithful (khāṣṣat amīr al-Mu’minīn). The amount is missing.[7]

 There are two tax receipts issued in name of the governor.

  • The first is issued in the name of governor Mūsā b. Muṣ‘ab (in office 167-168/785). The receipt states that were received from the tax payer (name lost) ten dinars for the payment of his poll-tax (ǧizyat ra’sika) for the ḫarāğ of year 168/785.[8]

  • The second is issued in the name of ‘Abbād b. Muḥammad (in office 196-198/812-813). The receipt states that were received from the tax payer Abqīra the baker the ḫarāğ of the year 196/812. The amount of his poll-tax (ǧizyat ra’sika) is a half a dinar. At the end of the receipt, it is said that the tax payer paid himself 12 carats.[9]

 There is one list of individual tax payers[10] where three tax payers paid the first installment of their poll-tax (ǧizyat ru’ūsihim). The amount is given in fractions of dīnārs as follows:
    Johannes Armāhe 2/3 1/24 ● 1/24 1/8
    Simʿūn Johannes 2/3 1/24 ● 1/24 1/8
    Ǧirǧa Mūsīs 2/3 1/24 ● 1/24 1/8.

There are ten work permits. In these work permits, state officials allow tax payers to travel either to Fusṭāṭ, Lower Egypt (asfal al-arḍ), Upper Egypt (al-ṣa‘īd) or Aswan in order to earn money to pay their taxes (fī ǧizyatihi or li-wafā’ ǧizyatahu) and to earn their living (wa-ma‘īšatihi). The period of the permit varies from one to five months.[11]

b. Meaning attested:

Therefore we find term ğizya used with the following meanings in the first 200 years of the Islamic calendar in Egypt:

  • Money tax as the general public impost, this meaning is found in collective tax demand notes issued by the central administration, all of them date of the time of Qurra b. Ṧarīk, this meaning will be later taken over by term ḫarāğ.

  • Poll-tax: the meaning is found in the tax demand notes to individual tax-payers (in which both term gizya and ḥarāğ are employed the first one meaning poll-tax and the second one tax in money that includes the poll-tax), the list and the work permits, in all those documents except the work permit the term found is precisely ğizya al-ra's.

  • Land tax: under ğizya al-arḍ.

2. Attestations of term ḫarāğ

a. Type of documents: (NB. Many of those documents are incomplete and consequently we have not been able to identify the type of taxes involved in all the following documents)

There is one estimation of imposition on a village for the land tax in money and in kind ( arāğ and ḍarība):

Document P.DiemFrüheUrkunden 3 (= PERF 612 = P.Vind.inv. A.P. 6202)
Date ḏu al-ḥiğğā 162/25.8779-18.9.779
Type Estimation of tax rate for the following year attributed to one village (Taxes to be paid for year 163, document written in ḏu al-ḥiğğā 162)
Provenance Fayyūm
Type of tax Land tax in money and in kind ( arāğ and ḍarība)
Amount of taxes 7 dinars for one year
Rate of imposition Unknown
Tax payer Village of the Fayoum
Observation Explains that the ḫar āğ is imposed according to what is in the registers and the ḍar ība is to be taken from the crops (tadfa ‘u al-ḫarāğ muwazza‘an  fī  al-ṭubūl wa al-ḍarībata ‘and al-ġala)


There are four tax demand notes for the land tax in money and/or in kind, those documents take the form of a lease of state land. Those fiscal documents are often precisely dated when complete because they mention the year of imposition and the date of issue of the document as well as the name of the local finance official and of the governor under the authority of which the official is issuing the document.

Document P.DiemFrüheUrkunden 05

(= PERF 610 = P.Vind.inv. A.P. 1176 recto and verso)
Date 159-161 A.H./778-779 A.D
Type

Lease of state land issued by Sa’īd b. ‘Ubayd ‘āmil al-amīr Muḥammad b. Sulayman ‘alā kūra Ihnās (unknown governor or finance director?)

Provenance Ihnās
Type of tax Land tax in money and in kind ( arāğ and ḍarība)
Amount of taxes Unknown
Rate of imposition Unknown
Tax payer Unknown
Observation writing exercise? (same document is written twice on each side of the papyrus), fragmentary

 

Document CPR XXI 02 b

(= P.GrohmannAperçu p. 50, P.World p. 116)
Date 176 AH/ 791-2 AD
Type

Lease issued by Ğunāda b. al-Muṣ‘ab ‘āmil al-amīr ‘Umar b. Mihrān ‘alā ḫarāğ kūra al-Fayyūm

Provenance Fayyūm
Type of tax Unknown
Amount of taxes Unknown
Rate of imposition Unknown
Tax payer Ṯubayt mawlā ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Alī

 

Document P.DiemFrüheUrkunden 04

(= PERF 625 Inv. No.: P.Vind.inv. A.P. 981 verso)
Date 177-178/794-794
Type

Lease of state land issued by Muḥammad b. ‘Alī ‘āmil al-’amīr Isḥāq b. Sulaymān

Provenance Fayyūm
Type of tax Land tax in money (mentions arḍ   naqiyya and payment in dinars)
Amount of taxes 50 dīnar for 50 faddān
Rate of imposition 1 dīnar per faddān
Tax payer Wāḍiḥ mawla ‘amīr al-mu’minin (i.e. most probably al-Rašīd)
Observation From the village of پرپپروره?

 

Document P.Cair.Arab. 77 
Date

6th of ramaḍān 178 A.H. (5th November 794 A.D.)

Type

Lease of land

Provenance Unknown
Type of tax Land tax in money and in kind (ḫarāğ and ḍarība)
Amount of taxes 12 1/2 faddān for 12 1/2 dīnars
Rate of imposition 1 dīnar per faddān
Tax payer The taxes mentioned here are the ones of year 178 (l.5-6), and the document is written in rama ḍān of the same year


There are six quittances issued by the ‘amīl ‘alā ḫarāğ kūra kaḏā (the finance administrator of the region of X). Those documents either concern the payment of the poll-tax (ğizya) said to be for the ḫarāğ (i.e. taxes in money) of a certain year or for the land tax (ḫarāğ arḍihi):

Document P.David-WeillLouvre 16
Date Šawwāl 156/25.08-23.09-773
Type

Quittance for a ḍaman payment issued to a certain Maymūn b. Rāšid. He is paying for the taxes (ḫarāğ) of three individuals through a ḍaman agreement, he pays to the village official (māzūt) Ṧanūda

Provenance Village of Ṭūḫ in the district of al-Bahnasā
Type of tax Impost (ḫarāğ) of year 156
Amount of taxes 4 dinars
Rate of imposition Unknown
Tax payer Victor and his two sons Humaysa and Zikrī, the payment is made by

 

Document P.DiemFrüheUrkunden 07

(= P.Vind.inv. A.P. 2704)
Date rabī‘a II 168/21.10.784-20.11.784
Type

Quittance or tax demand note ? issued by Mūsā b. Muṣ’ab ‘āmil ’amīr al-m’uminīn ‘alā ḫarāğ Miṣr wa ğamī‘ ’amālihā

Provenance Unknown
Type of tax Poll-tax (ğizia ra’sika)
Amount of taxes

Payment of the poll tax of year 168 10 dinars

Rate of imposition Unknown
Tax payer All individuals liable to the poll tax in one kura ? l.8-10 : ‘alā  ḫarāği ğamāğimi ’anbāṭ kūra [    ] wa ğawālīhā wa ’anbāṭihā wa ğamī‘ man yaskunuhā min ’ahl al-ḏ imma 

 

Document P.DiemFrüheUrkunden 06

(= PERF 631 P.Vind.inv. A.P.2166)
Date rabi’I 180/ 14.05-13.06.796
Type

Quittance issued by al-Ṣabāḥ mawlā al-amīr Mūsā b. ‘Īsā (governor 179/796-180/797) wa amīlihi ‘alā kūra al-Fayyūm wa wa ğamī‘ ’amālihā

Provenance Fayyūm
Type of tax Unknown
Amount of taxes Unknown
Rate of imposition Unknown
Tax payer Inhabitant of a village of the Fayyūm
Observation Taxes to be paid for year 179, document written in rabi’I 180

 

Document

P.GrohmannProbleme 17

(= PERF 631 : P.Vind.inv. A.P. 2166)

Date rabi’I 180/ 14.05-13.06.796
Type

Quittance issued by [al-Ṣabāḥ] mawlā al-amīr Mūsā b. ‘Īsā (governor 179/796-180/797) wa amīlihi ‘alā kūra al-Fayyūm wa wa ğamī‘ ’amālihā

Provenance Fayyūm
Type of tax Unknown
Amount of taxes Unknown
Rate of imposition Unknown
Tax payer Inhabitant of a village of the Fayyūm
Observation Taxes to be paid for year 179, document written in rabi’I 180

 

Document

P.Khalili 10

Date 194 A.H./809-810
Type

Quittance for land tax

Provenance Unknown
Type of tax Land tax (ḫarāğ arḍihi) of year 19[4]
Amount of taxes 21 dinar and a half and an eighth and half a sixth (ie a twelfth)
Rate of imposition Unknown
Tax payer Riḍa b. Yazīd
Observation Very large amount, this document also might be a passport

 

Document

P.GrohmannProbleme 18

(= PERF 670 = P.Vind.inv.A.P. 644)

Date ramaḍān 196 A.H./ 23.09/20.10.811AD
Type Quittance for the poll-tax with personal description of the taxpayer (passport ?) issued by Yūnis b. ‘Abd al-Raḥman ‘āmil al-amīr ‘Abbād b. Muḥammad (governor 196/812-198/813,) ‘ala ḫarāğ kūra al-Fayūm wa ma‘ūnatiha  wa ğamī‘ ’amālihā
Provenance Fayyūm
Type of tax Poll-tax (gizia ra’sika)
Amount of taxes half a dinar (=12 qīrāṭ) for the ḫarāğ of year 195 
Rate of imposition 1/2 for 1 year for one person
Tax payer Aba Qire
Observation Taxes to be paid for year 195, document written in rabi’I 196


There is one note on a fiscal document:

Document

CPR XXI 02a

(= PERF 621, P.GrohmannProbleme III p.143, P.GrohmannAperçu p.85, P.Cair.Arab.II p.70)

Date 176 AH/ 791-2 AD
Type Summery or archival note of a lease or quittance?
Provenance Fayyūm
Type of tax Land tax in money (ḫarāğ)
Amount of taxes 30 dīnars for 40 faddāns
Rate of imposition 3/4 of dinar per faddan
Tax payer Ṯubayt mawlā ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Alī ?
Observation arḍ mu’aṭala (uncultivated land) is not to be included in the ḫarāğ


There are two letters in which the mention of ḫarāğ is contextual:

Document

P.Heid.Arab.II 42

Date 2nd century
Type Letter concerning a craftsman, mention of ḥarāğ in uncertain and contextual
Provenance Unknown
Type of tax Unknown
Amount of taxes Unknown
Rate of imposition Unknown
Tax payer Craftsman

 

Document

P.GrohmannProbleme 19

(= PERF 871  P.Vind.inv. A.P. 14908 recto)
Date 2nd-3rd century
Type Letter for the expedition of money from the Fayyūm (not al-Ašmūnayn see verso) to the diwān al-ḫarāğ
Provenance Fayyūm
Type of tax Tax in money (mention of dinar)
Amount of taxes Unknown
Rate of imposition Unknown
Tax payer Inhabitants of the Fayyūm

 

b. Meaning attested:

We find ḫarāğ having 3 different meanings in the papyri from the first 200 years of the Islamic calendar:

  • Finances: as in the title of officials issuing all fiscal documents ‘amīl ‘alā ḫarāğ kūra kaḏā (the finance administrator of the region of X). Literary sources also attest this general sense for ḫarāğ, as in Fusṭāṭ the diwān al- ḫarāğ was in charge of collecting of the taxes for distribution of the ‘a ṭā to the Muslim community implemented in Egypt.[12] In this case the term ḫarāğ  means ‘’finances’’ as in local administrations: ‘āmil ‘alā al-ḫarāğ meaning finance administrator. The amount collected for the taxes paid in money was taken to the diwān al- ḫarāğ (see P.GrohmannProbleme 19) and kept in the provincial treasury (bayt al-māl).

  • Tax in money: by association, from the mid-2nd century A.H., ḥarāğ replaced the term ğizya for all tax in money in tax demand notes and quittances for payment of the poll-tax (still precisely ğizya al-ra’s said to be for the ḫarāğ (i.e. taxes in money) of a certain year), or the land tax.
  • Land tax in money (earlier example CPR XXI 02 176 AH/ 791-2 AD) under term ḫarāğ alone when mentioned along with ḍariba (the land tax in kind), otherwise under ḫarāğ al-arḍ.

We also learn from this corpus the means of imposition of the land-tax: arāğ (money tax) was imposed according to what is in the registers and the arība (tax in kind) to be taken from the crops (tadfa‘u al- arāğ muwazza‘an fī  al- ubūl wa al- arībata ‘and al-ġala: P.DiemFrüheUrkunden 3 ḏu al-ḥiğğā 162/779). We also learn that uncultivated land (ar mu’a ala) was not liable to arāğ (CPR XXI 2 176 AH/ 792AD). Only 3 documents from this corpus inform us of the rate for the land-tax in money: it is of 1 dīnar per faddān in two documents and of 3/4 of dinar per faddān in the third one.

Notes

  1. Simonsen J.B., Studies in the genesis and early development of the caliphal taxation system: with special references to circumstances in the Arab Peninsula, Egypt and Palestine, Copenhagen, 1988, 85-6; P.Lond. IV: xxv-xxxii.
  2. Grohmman A., ‘‘Aperçu de papyrologie arabe”, Études de papyrology 1 (1932), 70-1; Modarressi, H., Kharāj in Islamic Law, London, 1983 ; for reflection of this change in the papyri see CPR XXI pp.30-31.
  3. History of the Patriarchs, PO V, 74f; Maqrīzī, Ḫiṭāṭ, I, 99, Abbott N., “A new papyrus and a review of the administration of ‘Ubayd Allah b. al-Ḥabḥab", in Maqdisī Ǧ. Ed., Arabic and Islamic studies in honor of Hamilton A.R. Gibb, Leiden, 1965, 21-35.
  4. Modarressi op.cit.: 88-9.
  5. Out of 32 documents published by G. Khan from early Islamic Khurasan, 20 mention ḫarāğ and they date between 138/775 and 160/777: Khan G., Arabic Documents from early Islamic Khurasan, London, 2007.
  6. P.Cair.Arab. III.180.
  7. Document to be published by Khaled Younes.
  8. P.DiemFrüheUrkunden 07.
  9. P.GrohmannProbleme 18.
  10. P.GrohmannProbleme 05.
  11. Raġib Y., “Sauf-conduits d’Égypte Omeyyade et Abbasside”, AnIsl 31 (1997), 143-158; Diem W., “Einige frühe amtliche Urkunden aus der Sammlung Papyrus Erzherzog Rainer (Wien)”, Le Muséon 97 (1984) 109-158 (document 8 and 9); P.Cair.Arab.III 174, 175.
  12. Bouderbala S., Ğund Miṣr: Etude de l’administration militaire dans l’Égypte des débuts de l’Islam 21/642 – 218/833, PhD dissertation, Paris, 2008, 180-183.

Last Modified: 06-02-2015