Islam and Pluralism
Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam
Like any other living Faith, controversies abound in Islam. One of the most controversial issues is the relationship of a Muslim with people belonging to other religions. Since in India Muslims have always lived next to a very large non-Muslim community, this issue has created even deeper controversies. While there are Muslims who would insist on treating Hindus as Kafir, there are others who would insist that they should actually be treated as Ahl-e-Kitab, people bearing revealed books, a people who have a special place in Islamic theology and practice.
Disregarding the advice of some ulema of his time, the first Arab to conquer parts of India, Sind and Multan, had made a good beginning, giving the Hindus the same status as Ahl-e-Kitab, people with whom Muslims are supposed to have good social relations including marital relations. Since then, the Hindu-Muslim interaction has taken place constantly in a variety of ways. This is not the place to go into history, but we are all aware of the differences of approach between say an Akbar or Dara Shikoh and an Aurangzeb