Noted Islamic scholar and Law Commission member Tahir Mahmood has joined issue with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad for demanding an edict (fatwa) from Darul Uloom Deoband declaring India a Muslim-friendly country (Dar-ul-Amn), saying the whole idea was based on wrong premises.
“The proposition that Muslim seminaries issue a religious edict declaring India to be Dar-ul-Amn is, to say the least, based on wrong premises. It indicates both imaginary fears and lack of adequate knowledge about Islamic law,” Mahmood, a former National Commission for Minorities chairman, told HT. “The Muslims of India have in the past defended and will always defend the nation against any external aggression irrespective of the aggressor’s religion. For this , they don’t need any fatwa,” he said.
Mahmood also disagreed with Darul Uloom Deoband Vice-Chancellor Abdul Khaleque Madrasi’s view that the term kafir (non-believer) meant a person who did not follow Islam. “The expression kafir means one who denies the existence of God. Who has the cheek to use it for the Hindus who undoubtedly are firm believers?” he asked.
The VHP’s Dharm Raksha Manch had written to the Deoband clergy last week demanding a fatwa, declaring India a “friend of Islam to end religion-inspired violence”. It had also asked the seminary to declare that Hindus were not kafirs and therefore, jihad did not apply to them. Responding to the demand, the seminary said it was ready to issue a fatwa, provided the VHP followed the procedure for obtaining the edict.
“Some Muslim scholars in the past took pains to establish that like Christians and Jews Hindus, too, are covered by Quranic expression ahl-e-kitab (people believing in a scripture),” Mahmood said.
Terming the anxiety about old Arabic expression like kafir as misplaced, he said, “Nobody now uses it anymore for any people.” Mahmood sought to emphasise that the classification of territories as Dar-ul-harb (hostile nation), Dar-ul-amn (friendly nation) and Dar-ul-Islam (Muslim state) was “absolutely irrelevant to the modern world’s political order based on the concepts of political sovereignty and equality of all nation-states”.
“Dar-ul-harb and Dar-ul-amn are relative expressions and were part of an obsolete branch of early Islamic jurisprudence called siyar (international relations),” Mahmood, also a former Dean of Delhi University’s Faculty of Law, said.