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Home Bayt ul-Mal What is a 'Bayt ul-Mal'?

What is a 'Bayt ul-Mal'?

What is a 'Bayt ul-Mal'?

Bayt al-mal is an Arabic term that is translated as "House of money" or "House of Wealth." Historically, it was a financial institution responsible for the administration of taxes in Islamic states, particularly in the early Islamic Caliphate. It served as a royal treasury for the caliphs and sultans, managing personal finances and government expenditures. Further, it administered distributions of zakah revenues for public works.

In the time of Muhammad, pbuh, there was no permanent Bait-ul-Mal or public treasury. Any revenue that was received was distributed immediately. In the time of Abu Bakr a house was designated to keep the money, but as all money was distributed immediately the treasury generally remained locked - at the time of the death of Abu Bakr there was only one dirham in the public treasury.

Things changed during the time of Umar. After consulting the Companions, Umar decided to establish the Central Treasury at Madinah. A separate Accounts Department was also set up and it was required to maintain a record of all that was spent. Later, treasuries were set up in the provinces. After meeting the local expenditure the provincial treasuries were required to remit the surplus amount to the central treasury at Madinah.

The concepts of welfare and pension were introduced in early Islamic law as forms of Zakat (charity), one of the Five Pillars of Islam, under the Rashidun Caliphate in the 7th century. This practice continued well into the Abbasid era of the Caliphate. The money collected in the treasury of an Islamic government was used to provide income for the needy, including the poor, elderly, orphans, widows, and the disabled. According to the Islamic jurist Al-Ghazali, the government was also expected to stockpile food supplies in every region in case a disaster or famine occurred. The Caliphate can thus be considered the world's first major welfare state.


 The Bayt ul-Mal in the Ummayad Mosque, Damascus.


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