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India?s special status

The Muslim world, which calls Abrahamic followers Ahl-e-Kitab or People of the Book, has a separate name for Indians: Ahl-e-Hunood-the People of Hind.

india Updated: Mar 04, 2006 15:15 IST

Nukes are the biggest issue of our epoch and the world's most powerful reach has accorded India special status in the matter, creating a separate category for this country in the nuclear club. It calls to mind the last time a special category had to be created just for India, when Islam was the world's most impressive force.

In the 18th century, well after the death of Aurangzeb the last of the six Great Mughals, a fatwa was demanded from Hadrat Shah Waliullah Mohaddis Dehlavi, a spiritual authority respected all over the Islamic world. Not only was he Sheikh-ulIslam, the highest-ranked Muslim cleric in Islam those days, I'm told he was also the first to translate the Holy Quran into Persian from Arabic. He was also the person who later invited the Afghan soldier, Ahmad Shah Abdali, to India, which resulted in the Third Battle of Panipat.

Anyhow, the issue placed before Shah Waliullah for pronouncement was: what should Islam think of India? By Muslim reckoning, it was neither Dar-us-Salam (an Islamic state) nor Dar-ul-Harab (where Islam is not free). Since Islam was not the uniform rule of law here, India should technically be Dar-ul-Harab. But in all else that characterised an Islamic country, it was very much Dar-us-Salam. The azaan was called aloud, there were no restrictions on madrassas, namaaz or the Friday prayer, the veil, beard and cap were freely worn.

A conclusive view of India emerged in the Islamic world, which is worth knowing. Shah Waliullah's fatwa proclaimed that India could not be categorised, for she was a unique entity: "Hind is Hind. She needs her own category," went the message to every Islamic country.

And so it is in the Islamic world despite jehadis, for India remains her own place yet with perfect freedom for Islam. Nor is it commonly known now that the Muslim world, which calls the three Abrahamic followers (Jews, Christians and Muslims) Ahl-e-Kitab or People of the Book, has always had a separate name for Indians: Ahl-e-Hunood-the People of the land of Hind.

First Published: Mar 04, 2006 15:15 IST