The traditional mtepe the ship of the East African coast in Zanzibar 1888

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Abu Jabir Muhammad b. Ja'far (from Izki in Oman)
Jami' Ibn Ja'far (book of law) (900)


Taken from:  J.C. Wilkinson: African Historical Studies 1981
                      Mark Horton/ John Middleton :  The Swahili, The social landscape....

                      Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies. 2005 M C A Macdonald

                      J. C. Wilkinson, Sohar in the Early Islamic Period: The Written Evidence,

                      South Asian Archaeology 1977

According to the judgments of various Ibadi authorities quoted in this book temporary truces could be made with polytheists (mushrikun)

within the dar al-harb (the region of war) but not for more then a year (or two at the most) because in the meantime the Muslims might

become strong enough to enforce a full submission. Some authorities maintained that the onus was on the polytheists to renew such

temporary agreements, failing which ghanima (slaves and booty) could be taken. During such truces the good faith termed aman prevailed,

so that individuals from both sides could enter the territory of the other in safety. To ensure that such arrangements were not upset, it was

laid down that individuals should not act on their own initiative, but could only make war through joining a proper expedition authorized by

the imam. Indeed, individuals should not even carry arms into dar al-harb areas, except where there is active warfare, as in the China

domain. An exception however was made for individual ships which could capture a bawarij (pirate) ship and treat it as ghanima.     


TAXATION LAW The fundamental principles are as follows:

1. Muslim merchants pay a tax of 2,5% on their on their liquid resources and a monetary assessment of their stock, so long as this wealth

has been held for a complete taxation year (hawl). Loans and advances are deductible. Certain goods are not held to be merchandise

until they are actually traded: these are basically natural products of the sea like pearls and amber, and of wild plants such as frankincense

and dyes Jewellery is a debatable issue. A distinction is drawn between the personal effects and the trading capital of a merchant who

comes to reside in Oman. No distinction is drawn between goods that come by land or by sea; the latter are treated as though they came

by land so tax is only due after possession for  a year.

2. Christian Arabs pay double the rate of Muslims.

3. Dhimmis pay the jizya (details omitted). If a dhimmi comes from overseas and resides less than three months he is not liable to tax, but

if he stays longer his liability is backdated to the time of his arrival. If a dhimmi goes overseas to another Muslim country he pays his dues

there: if he goes to a polytheist land then he is liable for taxation if he leaves family or property in Oman; otherwise he is exempt for the time

he is absent.

4. There is a special regime for Jews and goods of Jewish origin.

5. Merchants from polytheist countries (dar al harb) where trade can only occur as the result of reciprocal temporary agreements under

the aman terms already mentioned

The main rules are as follows:

(a) the basic view is that polytheist merchants should pay the same tax as their rulers apply to the Muslim merchants in their lands. Suhar

seems to be the only place in Oman where these merchants are allowed to trade.

(b) Polytheist goods destined for Muslim merchants in Oman. Tax is paid the moment the goods are sold or converted into any other form

(eg manufactured). If the goods are not sold then they become liable for taxation after the completion of the hawl (year).

(c) Transit goods destined for other Muslim countries (specifically Fars and Iraq, i.e. Siraf and Ubullah-Basra are not taxable: transit is

determined as being lass then one year.

(d) Transit goods between two polytheist countries (eg presumably, Hind and Zanj) passing through Suhar pay tax; no period of grace


6. Omani traders operating overseas. They should not permanently live in polytheist countries. When he returns he is liable for zakat tax

on all the time he was away. An Omani may discharge his zakat liability to the poor in a place like Shihr.

7. Non Omani (but Muslim) merchants: same rules.


Note: polytheist goods includes both goods from polytheist sources, and other goods, such as wine, lions, and tigers, leopards, horses etc,

which were exported to polytheist countries and for polytheist use only. These wild animals were traded to China, and thence brought

towards the northern areas of the Chinese empire and used against the nomads. Then we have a document that gives instructions to the

merchants to stop sending lions and tigers, because they were to expensive and – en route- ate to much.