Errors in English Translations of the Quran


Should Muslims Levy an Extra Tax on Non-Muslims?

Verse 9:29 is mistranslated by almost every translator. Shakir translates the Arabic word jizya as “tax,” Pickthall as “tribute.” Yusuf Ali, somehow does not translate the word at all. He leaves the meaning of the word at the mercy of distortions:

! Disputed passage: The meaning of the Arabic word jizya (reparation/compensation) has been distorted to mean extra tax for non-Muslims.

Yusuf Ali Pickthall Shakir Reformist
“Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. (9:29) Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low. (9:29) Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latte day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection. (9:29) Fight those who do not acknowledge God nor the Last day from among the people who received the book; they do not forbid what God and His messenger have forbidden, and they do not uphold the system of truth; until they pay the reparation, in humility. (9:29)


We should be reminded that the context of the verse is about the War of Hunain, and fighting is allowed only for self-defense. See: 2:190-193, 256; 4:91; and 60:8-9.

Furthermore, note that we suggest REPARATION instead of Arabic word jizya. The meaning of jizya has been distorted as a tax on non-Muslims, which was invented long after Muhammad to further the imperialistic agenda of Kings. The origin of the word that we translated as Compensation is JaZaYa, which simply means compensation or, in the context of war, means war reparations, not tax. Since the enemies of Muslims attacked and aggressed, after the war they are required to compensate for the damage they inflicted on the peaceful community. Various derivatives of this word are used in the Quran frequently, and they are translated as compensation for a particular deed.

Unfortunately, the distortion in the meaning of the verse above and the practice of collecting a special tax from Christians and Jews, contradict the basic principle of the Quran that there should not be compulsion in religion and there should be freedom of belief and expression (2:256; 4:90; 4:137; 10:99; 18:29; 88:21, 22). Since taxation based on religion creates financial duress on people to convert to the privileged religion, it violates this important Quranic principle. Dividing a population that united under a social contract (constitution) into privileged groups based on their religion contradicts many principles of the Quran, including justice, peace, and brotherhood/sisterhood of all humanity.

Some uninformed critics or bigoted enemies of the Quran list verses of the Quran dealing with wars and declare Islam to be a religion of violence. Their favorite verses are: 2:191; 3:28; 3:85; 5:10,34; 9:5; 9:28-29; 9:123; 14:17; 22:9; 25: 52; 47:4 and 66:9. In this article, I refuted their argument against 9:29, and I will discuss each of the verses later.

Some followers of Sunni or Shiite religions abuse 9:5 or 9:29 by taking them out of their immediate and Quranic context. Sunnis and Shiites follow many stories and instructions falsely attributed to Muhammad that justify terror and aggression, which is currently used as a pretext and propaganda tool by imperialist or neocolonialist powers to justify their ongoing terror and aggression against countries with predominantly Muslim population, surely with much sophisticated weapons and destructive effect. For instance, in a so-called authentic (or authentically fabricated) hadith, after arresting the murderers of his shepherd, the prophet and his companions cut their arms and legs off, gouged their eyes with hot nails and left them dying from thirst in the desert, a contradiction to the portrayal of Muhammad’s mission in the Quran (21:107; 3:159). In another authentically fabricated hadith, the prophet is claimed to send a gang during night to secretly kill a female poet who criticized him in her poetry, a violation of the teaching of the Quran! (2:256; 4:140; 10:99; 18:29; 88:21-22). Despite these un-Quranic teachings, the aggressive elements among Sunni and Shiite populations have almost always been a minority.

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