By Dr. Mohammad Ghitreef, New Age Islam
15 August 2022
Al-Marwerdy, Abu Yala, Ibn Taqtaqi, Farabi, Nasiri, Zia Barni, And Other Thinkers Are Cited By Our Academics And Political Theorists, Their Theories And Opinions Were Pertinent At The Time They Were Made, But They Are No Longer Relevant
1. The concept of Darul Harb and Darul Islam has become outdated now, so Muslim scholars must also forsake this outlook.
2. There should be differentiation between principles and actual historical events.
3. And therefore, Islamic history must not be treated as a Shariah source at par with other textual basic Shariah ideals.
4. A new political language of Islam is the need of the hour.
Jafer bin Abitalib stood up and recited a few verses from the holy Quran's chapter Merry (19) in a persuasive and illuminating manner. The entire court became silent and was fascinated by the majestic Divine words. King Najashi eventually broke the serene and profound silence and addressed Jafar and his colleagues, the asylum seekers, saying, " vow! What magnificent and amazing words you spoke! Naturally, the source of both these verses and the holy Bible is the same. I'm happy to have you and your friends in my realm. Nobody can touch you here. Then he turned to Makkan emissary Amr and his delegation members and told them to return to Makka and not think of harming the Muslim migrants.
The persecuted Muslim migrants to Abyssinia (Habsha) lived peacefully and freely in this welcoming land for an extended period of time under the blissful shadow of a Christian kingdom. The then king himself is reported to have become a Muslim, yet the kingdom by and large remained a Christian country. During the Muslim stay, it also once happened that a neighbourly country invaded Abyssinia. At this point of time the Muslim refugee minority not only made prayers and supplications for the Abyssinian army to be victorious but also physically joined the Abyssinian army, defended the country, and defeated the enemy.
It is also to be noted that this Muslim minority stayed in Abyssinia for years and returned to Madinah after the conquest of Khyber. In the meantime, the Prophet (PBUH) did not tell them to start Jihad there and try to take over the country or to gain political influence in the Abyssinian court. This is setting a model for Muslim minorities around the world today. These Muslim minorities should try their best to prove beneficial to the respective countries and not become a political rivals posing a threat to majority community like the refugees of Abyssinia did. They stayed there for a long time, yet they were not ordered to engage in any fight with their hosts for capturing political power or some other mileage.
So this was the first Muslim encounter with a major world religion, Christianity. It was an exceptionally positive cohabitation between the two big Abrahamic religions and unparalleled interfaith understanding between the two great cultures and two world civilizations.
The prophet was encouraged by Divine massage to do that when it says: قل يااهل الكتاب تعالواإلى كلمة سواء بيننا وبينكم
“O people of the book, come with us on a common platform between you and us.” (Quran,3:64)
In Makkah, the prophet and his companions had been victims of severe religious persecution for 13 years. When they eventually migrated to Madina, the prophet did not leave any stone unturned to make positive contacts with the major faction of the people of the book; the Jewish community there. As a result, he engaged them into a negotiated fraternal agreement known as Meesaq e Madinah in Sirah literature. It was the earliest written charter of any state in human history, according to a prominent Islamic scholar like Dr. Hameedullah. It was the charter of a common city-state. With this charter, the citizens of Madinan city state invested final political authority in the hands of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) as the sole representative of the newly fast emerging Muslim majority community. However, safeguarding all the religious freedoms of Jews and giving them the status of the equal citizenry of that city-state. Ibn Hisham reported that the pact clearly declared that:
وإن يهود بني عوف أمة مع المؤمنين،للمسلمين دينهم
“And the Jews of Bani Auf are a componential part of this Muslim nation. Muslims are free in their religion, likewise Jews are also free in their religion. As for responsibilities, it will be shared by both”.
This generous handling of events and the friendly atmosphere did not persist for long, because on the one hand Makkan pagans attacked the fledgling Madinan state, and on the other, unanticipated Jewish defection, betrayal and hostilities at home. Soon, the blessed prophet was compelled to take action and take sword in his hand to defend his faith, community, and state. In the last phase of his life, the prophet faced a sustained foreign armed intervention in Arabia by the two big neighbouring empires; the Sasanids of Persia and the Byzantine of Rome. This resulted in hectic warfare with both empires immediately after his death.
In the beginning, it was limited to defensive operations, but the best defence is considered a proactive attack on the advancing enemy. According to this principle, the Arab Muslims soon moved from defence to action. Small but enthusiastic and religiously fervent Bedouin Arab armies suddenly went out on a conquest spree. They were setting new rules, new parameters of morality, and a new cultural and civilizational bearing on the world. This is a concise summary of the political history of Islam, its effects and implications, as well as a history of political domination of it. In this regard, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad states: "Islam came for love and peace, but was met with hostilities and imposed battles; therefore, when it was assaulted, it retaliated back and did not retreat from the battlefield."
The point that whether Islam's political norms and principles are drawn from its moral teachings and spiritual essence or from its political history is now the one that is asked most frequently. Scholars and Ulama have varying opinions on that. The consensus among all jurists and traditional Ulama is that Islamic Dawah history should be regarded as an unchanging source of Shariah in questions of politics. However, a select handful of modernist reformers, including Maulana Waheeduddin Khan and Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, seem to believe that we should make a distinction between Islam as a whole and its checkered history too. Anyway, the question arises here, had Islamic history been different from what it turned out to be, what would be the net result?
Whenever Muslim jurists, Ulama, and scholars in contemporary times discuss Muslim non-Muslim relations or write on Islamic political thoughts, they in this regard always start by dividing the world into two categories. Darul Harb (adobe of Kufr or fighting) and Darul Islam (adobe of peace). Along with some other sub-categories as Darul Ahd, Darul Aman, Darul Kufr, etc. Their treatment of the discussion and using these old terms have no relevance in contemporary times. Now the world has changed drastically. There is no caliphate, no Darul Harb no Darul Islam etc. All these things went to the dustbin of history with no possibility of return. Now only nation-states remain. Furthermore, this is also departing from parochial nationalism to a broader internationalism. This is why I think a new Islamic political theory should be evolved now. And as an essential part of the discourse a new political language is also needed to be invented and evolved. As the concepts of Darul Harb and Darul Islam etc., are not based on Quranic texts or derived from Hadees directly, they were the result of the fertile imagination of our jurists during the Abbasid period and a product of political circumstances in those times. One can’t deny that all the Islamic sciences were influenced naturally by the hegemonic Muslim mindset developed During Abbasid Caliphate.
Similarly, the altered political landscape of today necessitates a fresh look at this issue. The point is that Muslim minorities around the world comprise nearly 40% of total world Muslim population. So in postulating any political principle this huge number cannot be ignored outrightly.
Al-Marwerdy, Abu Yala, Ibn Taqtaqi, Farabi, Nasiri, Zia Barni, and other thinkers are cited by our academics and political theorists. Their theories and opinions were pertinent at the time they were made, but they are no longer relevant. So why do we persist in using those outdated theorems?
A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Dr. Mohammad Ghitreef is a Research Associate with the Centre for Promotion of Educational and Cultural Advancement of Muslims of India, AMU Aligarh.
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