What was the Jizya policy of Aurangzeb?


However, the worst of all was the imposition of the Jizya on the Hindus in April 1679. This was done on the representation of Anayat Khan, Diwani Khalsa. The Jizya was to be paid by all the non-Muslims in India. Even the Brahmins were not exempted. The same was realised from the Indian states also.

No distinction was made in favour of officials, clerks or soldiers. Every Hindu was required to pay the Jizya personally. He was to come before the collector personally and then make the payment. The payment could not be made through a deputy. There was a lot of humiliation at the time of the payment of the Jizya.

On the imposition of Jizya, Shivaji is stated to have addressed a letter of protest to Aurangzeb in which he observed: “It has come to my ears that on the ground of the war with me having exhausted your wealth and emptied the imperial treasury, Your Majesty has ordered that money under the name of Jaziya should be collected from the Hindus and the imperial needs supplied with it. May it please Your Majesty?


The architect of the fabric of the Empire, Akbar Padshah reigned with full power for fifty-two lunar years. He adopted the admirable policy of perfect harmony in relation to all the various sects…. The aim of his liberal hearts was to cherish all the people. So he became famous under the title of world’s spiritual guide.

Next the Emperor Nuruddin Jehangir for twenty-two years spread his gracious shade cn the head of the world and its dwellers gave his heart to his friends and his hand to his work and gained his desires. The Emperor Shah Jahan for thirty-two years cast his blessed shade.

“Though the auspicious effect of this sublime disposition, wherever he (Akbar) bent the glance of his august wish, victory and success advanced to welcome him on his way…. The State and power of these emperors can be easily understood from the fact the Aiamgir Pad shah has failed and become bewildered in the attempt merely to follow their political system. They too had the power of levying Jaziya; but they did not give place to bigotry in their hearts as they considered all men high and low created by God.

“How can the royal spirit permit you to add the hardship of the Jaziya to this grievous state of things? The infamy will quickly spread from west to east and become recorded in the books of history that the Emperor of Hindustan coveting the beggar’s bowls takes Jaziya from Brahmins and Jain monks, Yogis, Sanyasis, Bairagis etc., that he dashes down (to the ground) the name and honour of the Timurids.”


He concluded with the following observation: “If you imagine piety to consist in opperssing the people and terrorising the Hindus, you ought first to levy Jaziya from Rana Raj Singh, who is the head of the Hindus. Then it will not be very difficult to collect it from me, as I am at your service. But to oppress ants and flies is far from displaying valour and spirit.

“I wonder at the strange fidelity of your officers that they neglect to tell you the true state of things but cover a blazing fire with straw.”

Elaborate arrangements were made for the assessment and collection of Jizya. There were three following grades of assessment:

(1) A Hindu whose property was worth 200 Dirhams paid 12 Dirhams as Jizya. It was about 6 per cent of the property.


(2) Persons whose property varied from 200 Dirahams or Rs. 52 to Rs. 2,500 paid 24 Dirhams.

(3) Persons whose property was worth more than 10,000 Dirhams, paid a lump sum of 48 Dirhams. It is evident that the incidence of the Jizya was less in the case of the rich. However, the rich paid the whole amount in a lump sum and the others could pay in installments. There were certain exemptions from the Jizya. Minors, women, beggars, slaves, the blind, the crippled, the mentally deficient and the unemployed were not required to pay. In very exceptional cases, Jizya was also remitted by the state.

The Jizya was a part of the anti-Hindu policy of Aurangzeb. Its object was to have converts to Islam by harassing the Hindu. Any Hindu could escape from the Jiyza by becoming a Muslim. No wonder, a large number of Hindus were converted to Islam in this way.

Khafi Khan refers to the following instructions of Aurangzeb to the Collectors of Jizya: “You are free to grant remission of revenue of all other Hindus, but if you remit any man’s Jizya which I have succeeded with great difficulty in laying on the infidels, it will be an impious change (bidate) and will cause the whole system of collecting the poll-tax to fall into disorder.” Khafi Khan tells us that thousands of Hindus gathered together to protest against the imposition of Jizya.


As Aurangzeb could not tolerate the agitation by the Hindus, he gave them an hour’s notice to disperse. As they did not obey, he ordered the elephants to run over them and consequently a large number of Hindus were killed. The zeal with which Jizya was collected by the fanatical officers is shown by the conduct of one Mir Abdul Karim who was the perfect of the city of Burhanpur. It is stated that “He increased the yield of the tax from 26,000 a year for the whole city to more than four times the amount in the three months for half the city only (1682),”

Aurangzeb employed many other ways to have converts to Islam. Converts to Islam were given recognition by the Emperor. They were given high posts in the state. Thousands of Hindus were removed from the various departments of the Government and Muslims were recruited in their places. They were given the option of retaining their jobs if they became converts to Islam. Rebels were pardoned if they became Muslims.

If there was a quarrel between two persons and one of them became a Muslim, he who became a Muslim got the property. “If a Mohammadan had no desire to discharge his debt to the Bania and if the Bania demanded the payment of the same, the Mohammadan would lodge a complaint to the Kazi that he had called the prophet names or spoken contumaciously of their religion, produce a false witness or two, and the poor man was forced to circumcision and made to embrace Islam. Several persons had been thus served to the great terror of all. The king not at all minding anything of his kingdom gives himself wholly upon the converting or rather perverting the Banias.”

According to Sir Wolseley Haig. “The religious policy of Aurangzeb was disastrous. His great-grandfather had striven to remove the religious and social barriers which divided the various classes of his subjects, and, though exception can be taken to his methods, none can be taken to the end which he had in view. His grandfather, the son of a Hindu mother, held liberal, even lax views on religion.


His father was a better Muslim than either Akbar or Jahangir, but, except in the case of political offenders, bridled his zeal. But Aurangzeb was a bigot to whom the religion of the great majority of his subjects was anathema, mischief, idolatry, which it was his duty before heaven to persecute, and if possible to stamp out. His method was iconoclasm, sacrilege, economic repression, bribery, forced conversion and restriction of worship.'”

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