By Asghar Ali Engineer
(Secular Perspective March 1-15, 2009)
The ulama in medieval ages had broadly divided the world into two categories: Darul Islam and Darul Harb i.e. abode of Islam and abode of war. In those days there was no democracy and there were monarchs and autocrats everywhere. There was no concept of citizenship but the ruled were treated as subjects. Where monarchs or sultans were ruling those regions were called Darul Islam and where non-Muslim monarchs ruled and persecuted Muslims, those regions were called Darul Harb i.e. abode of war.
Let us remember this division in Darul Islam and Darul harb was done by the ulama, not by the Qur’an or by the Prophet. The Qur’an divided people into three categories i.e. Muslims, ahl-al-kitab (those who had revealed scripture with them) and kafirs and mushriks (polytheists) who possessed no scripture for their guidance nor they believed in any formal religion. Qur’an or the Prophet (did not divide the world as such into Darul Islam or Darul Harb.
Mr. Singhal, the International President of VHP has demanded from Indian Muslims that they declare India as Darul Aman i.e. abode of peace which is neither Darul Islam nor Darul Harb. One can only regret at the lack of knowledge on the part of Shri Singhal or he has been misinformed by some of his informants. The Ulama in India has never considered India as Darul Harb except for a short period during the British rule. Even then the ulama and Muslim leaders were divided.
Shah Abdul Aziz, son of illustrious Alim Shah Waliyullah and himself a great Alim, had declared India Darul Aman during British period and issued a fatwa that Muslims could serve in the British army. Also, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and his followers never considered India as Darul Harb. As there is no church in Islam different ulama can have different opinions on any issue.
In fact India was never declared Darul Harb and Deoband ulama declared it Darul Harb only during Khilafat agitation when many of them migrated to Afghanistan and set up there a provisional government under the leadership of Raja Mahindra Pratap. Mahindra Pratap was president and Maulana Ubaidullah Singhi was prime minister of this transitional government. It was then that India was declared as Darul Harb and it was made obligatory for Muslims to migrate to Darul Islam i.e. Afghanistan as a Muslim king was ruling there and wage jihad against the British Government.
However, it was politically immature decision and it proved to be great disaster as the King of Afghanistan drove away these Indian Muslims under pressure from the British Government and thousands perished while trying to flee to Central Asian region. Except for this brief period India was never declared as Darul Harb.
Also, it is necessary to understand that these categories were evolved by the ulama during medieval period and does not apply in modern democracies. Even USA under the Bush government was not declared by ulama as Darul Harb through it had invaded two Muslim countries and was aiding and abetting Israel vis-à-vis Israel as United States also treats Muslims as citizens and fully guarantees their political and religious rights.
These medieval categories evolved by the ulama of that time no more apply to the modern democratic world. Let alone India, no other country today qualify for Darul Harb. Even Israel may not qualify as Darul Harb for many as the Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel have also been given rights as citizens of Israel. Mr. Singhal should check his facts before writing such letters.
He has also demanded that Hindus be declared as not being kafirs. If Mr. Singhal carefully studies Muslim literature in India he would get to know that many sufi saints like Dara Shikoh, Mazhar Jani Janan and others considered Hindus as ahl-al-kitab i.e. people of the book like Jews and Christians. Mazhar Jani Janan has made many interesting observations in this respect in one of his letters to his disciple who had asked Jani Janan whether Hindus could be declared as kafirs.
Mazhar Jani Janan said in his letter that Hindus cannot be treated as kafirs as kafirs are those who hide the truth and Hindus possess scriptures like Vedas with revealed Truth from Allah. Also, he observed Hindus believe in tawhid i.e. one God as Ishwar in Hindu tradition is Nirgun and Nirankar i.e. without attributes and without any shape which is the highest concept of tawhid.
Not only this he also said that in Qur’an Allah has said that he has sent His prophets to all the nations and so how can he forget India. He must have sent prophets to India also and may be Ram and Krishna, highly revered religious personalities might have been prophets of Allah. Other sufi saints also have opined that Allah must have sent his prophets to Hindustan as Muslims believe Allah has sent in all one lakh and twenty four thousand prophets and Qur’an has not given all the names any way.
Buddha was also accepted prophet of God by many Muslim scholars and a book on him Buzasaf (translated into Arabic and Persian) was quite a popular reading in Muslim houses until my childhood. Iqbal also describes Ram as Imam-e-Hind i.e. Imam of India, highest tribute any Muslim could pay to Ram. And any way even if some people consider Hindu as kafirs Qur’an permits Muslims to peacefully coexist with kafirs (see chapter 109).
It permits war against only those kafirs who fight and persecute Muslims, not all kafirs. It is great misunderstanding created by either some extremists among Muslims or among non-Muslims that Muslims cannot coexist peacefully with kafirs. In fact ulama have divided kafirs into two categories harbi and ghayr -harbi kafirs i.e. war monger and non war monger kafirs. As for non-war mongering kafirs it is duty of Muslims to coexist with them.
It was heartening that Jami’at al-Ulama-i-Hind immediately replied to Shri Singhal’s letter and declared that India has always been Darul Aman except for a short period of British rule. They also issued clarification about kafirs. It is also must be noted that The Deobandi Ulama never supported Jinnah’s two nation theory and strongly refuted it and supported the concept of united nationalism. Not only this Maulana Husain Ahmad Madani, the then President of Jami’at wrote a book Muttahida Qaumiyyat Aur Islam.i.e. United nationalism and Islam. All Muslims in India since partition have stood by the concept of united and secular nationalism. Even partition was supported by a small minority of Muslims, not more than 5 per cent.
It is unfortunately the Sangh Parivar which still talks of Hindu Rashtra and wants Indian Constitution to be amended and its secular character removed in favour of Hindu Rashtra. In fact all secular citizens of India – Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Parsis and Sikhs should write to Mr. Singhal demanding that he refute the concept of Hindu Rashtra and come clean on this.
They can also demand from Mr. Singhal that he guarantee all Muslims and Christians safe and secure life as it is members of his parivar who kill members of minority communities. Two thousand Muslims in Gujarat and more than 40 Christians in Orissa were brutally done to death. And this is just two riots. Hundreds of such riots have taken place in post-independence India and Muslims hardly feel secure and now Christians have also joined their ranks.
Also, in secular democracy like India everyone has right to live unconditionally. Perhaps Shri Singhal has never believed in secular democratic culture and hence he wants to lay down conditions for minorities to live in India. Entire Sangh Parivar has been doing this and is becoming of late shriller in this respect. No one can stipulate conditions for anyone to live in secular democratic India except that everyone will abide by the law of the land and if they violate the law they will be punished in keeping with the law of the land. Even a lawbreaker cannot be deprived of his citizenship, only can be punished.
India has always been plural and diverse and pluralism and diversity has been great strength of India. Indian people have been most tolerant except handful of extremists in modern times. It is the British rulers who divided us and created, for the first time, a political category called communalism. We had never known this phenomenon before. Now a section of Indian politicians is exploiting this category for their own political survival.
Let me once again reiterate for Shri Singhal that Muslims and other minorities have always considered India as Darul Aman and all of them have strong sense of loyalty to this great country which is their only homeland. They would never dither from this position. And this author strongly believes that all human beings, whatever their religious beliefs or cultural values, should coexist in peace and harmony. Our politics should never be based on religion, caste or language. It should be based only on our common problems. Unfortunately our politicians are using all these categories (religion, caste and language) for their petty political interests and destroying our unity. People of India should categorically reject such politics.
Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, Mumbai, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org