Valid Islamic Response
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auspices of the University of Florida two professors have worked on a book
titled Christian Muslim Encounters (1995). In this regard a questionnaire was
sent to Maulana Wahiduddin Khan. We reproduce here these questions and answers
published in this book:
we have considered main features of the needed for an understanding
of the views of a select number of Muslim personalities living in the Republic
of India. We now turn to an examination of those views. The overall question
put to the respondents interviewed for this study was: "In which ways do
select Indian Muslim thinkers conceive of an Islamically valid Muslim
participation in the (political) life of the Republic of India (Bharat)?"
To this were added five more specific questions:
1. Do you agree that the situation of the
Muslim community in India (Bharat) where they participate as a numerical minority
in a "sovereign, socialist secular democratic republic," is new in
the annals of history? New, in that in this constellation the Muslims as such
are neither rulers (Hakim) nor ruled (mahkum)?
2. If this is so, the need seems to arise
for Muslims to develop an Islamic response, or, if you prefer, an Islamically
valid rationale and justification for the Muslim community to live in Bharat as
co-citizens. Short of such a valid rationale, there would seem to be possible
for them only a mere de facto acceptance of the new situation, going together
with inner discontent arising from an ideological contradiction perceived as
3. In which way will the teaching of Islam
be presented and the elaboration and application of the shari"ah be conducted
so as to give legitimacy and meaning to the new situation of Muslims in
post-partition of India?
4. Which particular elements in the
foundational sources (Qur’an and Hadith) and the foundational model (sira of
the Prophet) and which, possibly new, ways of understanding them would come
into play in such an Islamic response (on the ideological level)?
5. Which modifications in the traditional
understanding(s) of the shari"ah and usul al-fiqh would seem to be justified
and advisable in the elaboration of an adequate Islamic response to the new
Indian Muslim situation?
Wahiduddin Khan is the leader of the Al-Risala movement, the editor of a
monthly of the same name, and author of numerous books. His response (August
1987) to question 1 immediately marks his position as distinctly different from
that of Nadwi: "Islam is not the name of a culture or of a political
structure. Islam is the name of a personal action. And the opportunity to
practice Islam is the name of a personal action. And the opportunity to
practice Islam personally remains the same in all situations, irrespective of
whether Islam is politically in power or not."
leads him to state that India is neither dar al-Islam nor dar al-Harb but
rather dar al-d"awah. "This means that Muslims, while establishing faith
on a personal level, should, in equal measure, participate in the worldly
matters of the country, just like their fellow-countrymen of other creeds.
Furthermore, the presentation of their faith should be carried out peacefully.
Permission to do so has been granted to us by the UN Charter of Human Rights as
well as by the Indian constitution."
regard to question 3 he comments: "The fact that the rights of different
communities are accepted by the constitution of India is perfectly in
consonance with Islam. As far as community matters are concerned, judgements
should be based on the law of the country. So far as personal life is
concerned, judgements should be based on Muslim personal law."
to question 4 he takes up a sentiment expressed earlier by ulama belonging to
or being close to the Jamµiyyat al-Ulama’: "In the present context, I feel
that Muslims must look for basic guidance in those teachings of the Qur’an
which were revealed to the Prophet during the thirteen-year period he spent in
Mecca—more than half his prophethood. The Prophet immigrated to Medina where he
lived for ten years until his death, but it is the Meccan period which has the
greater relevance to the prevailing situation in India. That is the period,
therefore, which should serve as a model to Indian Muslims."
tasks of legal construction, Wahiduddin remarks that in his view the Salafi
school of jurisprudence is, in principle, most relevant to the present-day
situation in India since it "enshrines Islamic commands directly taken
from the Qur’an and Hadith where Hanafi fiqh was compiled basically to meet the
needs of the ruling period of Islam."