It’s Christ who comes to mind when the VHP asks Muslim organisations to issue a fatwa that Hindus are not kafirs and that India is ‘Darul Amn’ (land of peace) and not ‘Darul Harb’ (land of war). Says the Gospel of Luke (6:42), of how Christ rebuked the religious extremists of his time: “You hypocrite, cast out first the log out of your own eye, and then shall you see clearly to pull out the speck that is in your brother's eye.”
The VHP has no locus standi to ask for an edict of friendship from Muslims when its very raison d’etre (based on a skewed definition of Hinduism) is the demonisation of the minorities and the conversion of India into a Hindu Rashtra, a country exclusively for Hindus.
It is ironic that an organisation which wants India to be declared Darul Amn is itself busy making it a Darul Harb through its hostile activities (such as its alleged involvement in the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the brutal killing of Christians in Orissa and Karnataka last year) to say nothing about the divisive pursuits of its wings, the Bajrang Dal and the Durga Vahini.
Given this scenario, it becomes imperative to clarify to the moderate majority of this country the issues raised by the Hindutva outfit.
The terms Darul Amn and Darul Harb are neither found in the Quran nor are they authentic sayings of the Prophet. This artificial division was introduced by Muslim jurists decades after the death of the Prophet to identify nations that were hostile to Islam. Darul Harb thus refers to a “nation at war” with an Islamic state, and Darul Amn is that nation which, even while not being an Islamic state, allows Muslims the freedom to profess and practice their religion as a matter of right. This makes India Darul Amn without any doubt.
Interestingly, even Mecca was once temporarily a Darul Harb for the Muslims when the Prophet was forced to migrate to Medina. The revered scholar-historian, Imam Bukhari, relates two reports under the heading: “When a people embrace Islam in Dar-al Harb.” The first talks of property being returned to some persons of the Quraish after they had accepted Islam in Mecca, and the second mentions Rabdhah, a place near Medina in the same context. It is because of the fact that both these places were at one time at war with the Muslims that Imam Bukhari speaks of them as Darul Harb. Do note that the heading of these traditions with the term Darul Harb was Bukhari’s choice not that of the Prophet himself, which proves such a concept was alien to Islam during his prophethood.
Unfortunately, some extremist theologians have exploited the concept of Darul Harb to refer to all states and countries that are not under Islamic rule though they may enjoy peaceful relations with the Muslims. This position, which has been one of the major causes of disunity between Muslims and non-Muslims, is not in consonance with the egalitarian ideology of the Quran and must rejected as a supremacist interpretation of Islam.
But in the case of the VHP it is its own guilt that makes it suspect the loyalty of the Muslims as a reaction to the communal hatred perpetrated by some Hindu extremist outfits. The truth is that Muslims have always considered themselves as equal citizens of India and therefore the question of designating their own country as hostile to them does not arise. On the contrary, it is the Hindutva groups who must prove their loyalty to our constitution by issuing a ‘fatwa’ that India is not for the Hindus alone.
The idea of Hindu Rashtra must be given up and Hindu institutions should condemn the anti-social activities of organisations such as the MNS, the Sri Ram Sene, the Abhinav Bharati and a host of others.
It is not that the Hindu leaders are averse to issuing ‘fatwas’. In September 2007, Ram Vilas Vedanti of the VHP pronounced a ‘fatwa’ against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi in which he sought his extermination for his alleged derogatory remarks on Lord Rama.
Who’s a kafir?
Another word the VHP wants clarified is kafir. It has to be conceded that the Quran does not refer to non-Muslims as kafirs. The word kafir is derived from its Arabic root kufr which in general terms means; to conceal, to reject, to be thankless or ungrateful, to disown or to deny. Sometimes a farmer is referred to as a kafir because he conceals the seed below the soil.
In Quranic terminology a kafir is a person (including a Muslim) who a) intentionally hides the truth b) refuses to see reason even in the face of evidence c) is ungrateful or thankless. Let us analyse a few verses to understand this.
n “O People of the Book! Why do you reject (takfuroona) the Proofs of God, of which you are witnesses? O People of the Book! Why do you clothe Truth with falsehood, and conceal the Truth, while you have knowledge? (3:70-71)
n “Do not those who deny (allazeena kafaru) see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (as one unit of creation), before we clove them asunder? We made from water every living thing. Will they not then be convinced? (21:30)
n “It is God Who has created the heavens and the earth and sends down rain from the skies, and with it brings out fruits to feed you; it is He Who has made the ships subject to you….And He gives you of all that you ask for. If you count the favours of God, never will you be able to number them. Yet, man is unjust and ungrateful (kaffaar).” (14:32-34)
In each of these verses the terminology used for “concealing of the truth”, “refusal to see reason” and “ingratitude” (takfuroona, kafaru and kaffaar respectively) only describes the attitude of some people towards truth. There is nothing to show that non-Muslims are referred to here. The Quran, through many such verses only reasons with humanity to recognise the existence of the Creator.
But does that mean that such kafirs must be forced to believe by those “Muslims” who have already recognised God? Certainly not. The Quran says, “If God had willed, all those who are on earth would have believed together. Will you then compel people till they become believers?” (10:99).
The Quran further instructs the Messenger, and through him all Muslims, saying, “If they (the kafirs) turn away (from the truth, We have not sent you as a guard over them. Your duty is only to proclaim the Message.” (42:48)
It may therefore be asked; who are the kafirs against whom war was permitted by the Quran? Assuredly they were not non-Muslims in general but those Makkan rebels who had unilaterally broken off their treaties with the Muslims and attacked them first.
It can thus be seen that there is no basis in the Quran to categorise non-Muslims as kafir. On the contrary, in the Quran the only requirements for salvation are the recognition of the Creator and service to humanity. “Those who believe (in Islam), and the Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians, (in short) any who recognise God and the Judgment Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (2:62).