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Valid Islamic Response

Valid Islamic Response Normal 0 21 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Normal Tablo"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; :10.0pt; "Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} Under the 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:




Thus far 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 irredeemable.

   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?





Maulana 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."


Question 2 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."


With 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."


Replying 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."


Regarding 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."

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

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