The culture of decima or tithe (old English teogothian) was common among the Babylon. The discovery of old clay tablets in 1966 however reveals that it was prevalent long before the civilization of the Babylon. Tithe or tenth part was a customary tax in ancient Egypt, Syria and Greece. Cyrus caused his soldiers to devote tenth of their booty to Zeus. Zoroaster imposed tithe on traders and market dealers for the welfare of the priests.
The practice of tithe is known from Mesopotamia, Syria, Greece and as far as to the west as the Phoenician city of Carhage. Early texts associated the tithe with support of the king and of temple of the royal house, vide Amos (4:4, 7:1, 7:13). The early Biblical reference of the tithe is in Genesis (14:20 and 28:22), and also in the time of Abraham and Moses, vide Number (18:21). The Bible states that the Israelites paid tithes to the Levites; the Levites in turn paid a tithe to the high priest and his family, while the entire tribe of Levi including the family of Aaron, are here represented by the apostle as paying tithe through Abraham to Melekizedek. In writing of the exalted priesthood of Christ, the apostle refers to that distinguished personage Melekizedek, saying, “Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.”
Clement, Justian Martyr, Cyprian Jerome, Herodotus, Zenophon and many other writers of the early centuries of the Christian era, testify that the tithing was known and practiced by ancient people through the apostolic age centuries following. Until the later times of the empire, it was the custom of Italy to devote tithe to their deity. The Saxons also religiously offered tenth of all their captives to the god Neptune. Zenophon on returning from his Asian expedition consecrated the tithe of his spoils to Apollo.
Tithe was a common practice of both Jews and Christians. “Pay tithe and be rich” was an old proverb quite current among the Jews. The Carthaginians acquired the custom of tithe from Tyre. The Arabian merchants were by law required to give one-tenth of their frankincense to the priest for sacrifice before their god. The primary purpose of the tithing was not to raise funds, but to build character; to put the Supreme Being, and not self, first in all transactions.
Its explicit reference is not found in the New Testament. It however became common among the early Christians during 6th century. The Council of Tours in 567 A.D. and the Council of Macon in 585 A.D. began to advocate it. We must pass the long list of testimony of the early Christian Fathers, except to mention that Clement of Alexandria wrote, “The tithes of the fruits and of the flocks taught piety towards the deity. For it was from these and the first fruits that the priests were maintained. We now, therefore, understand that we are instructed in piety, and in liberality, and in justice, and in humanity by the law.” In sum, H.Grotius writes in Ancient World (London, 1968, p. 171) that, “From the most ancient days, one-tenth was a portion due to God.”
The tradition of the tithe is found in the world religions. The Hinduism calls it dasas, Buddhism, dashans, Judaism, ma’asher, Christianity, tithe, Shikhism, dasam and ushr in Islam. The payment of ushr (tithe) is one of the most fundamental prescriptions of Islam, referred in the Koran on 31 different occasions.
Sources of revenue in Islam :
The principal sources of revenue in Islam are ushr, jaziya, zakat and khums.
Ushr : Ushr means tenth part, a tax levied only on the Muslims as a land revenue chiefly on agriculture.
Jazya : It is a poll-tax charged on non-Muslims in place of ushr.
Zakat : It is a poor-tax @ 2