The Wikipedia entry about the Muslim conquest of Persia says:

First invasion of Mesopotamia (633)

After the Ridda Wars, a tribal chief of north eastern Arabia, Al-Muthanna ibn Haritha, raided the Persian towns in Mesopotamia (what is now Iraq). Abu Bakr was strong enough to attack the Persian Empire in the north-east and the Byzantine Empire in the north-west. There were three purposes for this conquest: 1. Along the borders between Arabia and these two great empires were numerous Arab tribes leading a nomadic life and forming a buffer-like state between the Persians and Romans. Abu Bakr hoped that these tribes might accept Islam and help their brethren in spreading it. 2. The Persian and Roman populations suffered with very high taxation laws; Abu Bakr believed that they might be persuaded to help the Muslims, who agreed to release them from the excessive tributes.

When did this agreement take place? Did it happen before the battle or after the battle?

  • 8
    The problem with this question is that there are no contemporary sources for any of these events. We have only the testimony of the Muslim traditionalists and historians, beginning about 200 years later. The reconstruction of early Islamic history is a highly contested and controversial field.
    – fdb
    Nov 5, 2016 at 13:23
  • Rather than there being an agreement to lower taxes, can't this just mean that Abu Bakr demanded less tribute than the empires? Aug 8, 2019 at 22:00
  • 2
    Reading the quotation, I don't think the Arabs were the ones whose taxes were lowered: Persian and Roman populations were the ones which had high taxes and who were released from these by the Arab conquerors. As most taxes were land-based in the Sassanid and Roman Empires, nomadic Arabs would not have been great contributors.
    – gktscrk
    Jun 4, 2020 at 14:48

1 Answer 1


This question has been here for a while, and the Wikipedia entry has slightly changed in its wording though not the context. In both cases I would suggest that the emphasis on taxation lies on the Persians and Romans and not on any nomadic tribesmen. This is further emphasised by the primary source of taxation being the land tax (and, therefore, the settled populations):

Changes in religion and the ruling classes did not modify the nature of these Middle Eastern Empires, which were typified by centralised governments ruled by elites who lived on the surplus extracted from the land. Taxation on the land was the main source of revenue for the State centralised.

—Campopiano, 'State, Land Tax and Agriculture in Iraq'

However, the question on whether Muslims agreements on taxation happened before or after the conquest does have a concrete answer:

According to juridical sources, Kharādj, a tax imposed on the land of conquered populations who had not accepted Islam before the conquest and had not signed a special agreement (ṣulḥ), was levied on most of the conquered areas.

—Campopiano, 'State, Land Tax and Agriculture in Iraq'

The above has a footnote directing to further sources:

For a general survey of these topics, see: D. C. Dennet, Conversion and the Poll Tax in Early Islam (Cambridge, Mass., 1950); F. Løkkegaard, Islamic taxation in the classic period with special reference to circumstances in Iraq, second edition (Philadelphia, 1978); H. M. Tabūtabā’ī, Kharāj in Islamic law (London, 1983), A. Oran, S. Rashid, “Fiscal Policy in Early Islam“, Public Finance 44, 1989, 75-101. See also : V. Lagardère, “Structures étatiques et communautés rurales: les impositions légales et illégales en al-Andalus et au Maghreb (XIe-XVe)”, Studia Islamica 80, 1994, 57-95.

I recommend the full text of the article as it is based on both Sassanian and Arab tax ledgers in an area of modern Iraq, and tries to assess why tax revenues declined from the conquest to the 10th century.

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