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Dialogue

NAWABS, ISLAM & JIZYA

It is nice to see that Indian Muslims have a decent news journal like yours - here in England the best we have is Q-News, and that is only monthly and is pretty unreliable (in terms of getting the editions out) due to financial problems. However, I must correct something your contributor wrote regarding the decline of the city of Lakhnau. It is not a virtue for amirs, "nawabs" etc to be "secular par excellence"; this is exactly the start of injustice as the Divine Shari'a is not being applied. If the Hindus want their temples let them build them themselves, with their own money. We don't rely on non-Muslims to build us mosques, either in the UK or India.
Furthermore, while I agree that the Taliban did the right thing in not handing Bin Laden over to the Americans for a show trial, I think they should have been tougher on the Bin Laden mob from the very beginning. 
Their aqida is radically different from the (mainly) traditional Sunni aqida of the Taliban, and if one reads Wahhabi material available on the Internet, one discovers that they hate the Deobandis and regard them the same as other Sufis. There are very clear hadeeths on the status of those who shelter innovators. I recommend an article by Abdul-Wahid Miranda, entitled "Why Extremism Always Fails" (http://www.masud.co.uk/ISLAM/misc/extremism.htm). 
The UK is infested with these types of extremists, and many of them are ignorant in deen and quite unreasonable.
Muhammad Yusuf (M.J.) Smith, 
indigojo@hotmail.com


Editor: The point Obaid Nasir is making does not suggest that non-Muslims should be building mosques for us; rather he is speaking of a certain era of Nawabs who treated their subjects on equal footing and the environment of tolerance and co-existence was so good that people of other faiths volunteered to build places of worship for others as a gesture of goodwill..
You are right that extremism of whatever kind always fails. And you are right too about the Islamic extremism which has come to some western countries like Britain and France at the hands of semi-literate fugitives from the Middle East who cannot sell their bogus merchandise at home and find a good market among the religiously illiterate people of the diaspora. Western countries are partly to blame for supporting dictatorial regimes in the Middle East which do not tolerate free speech. If these types were allowed free speech their fitnah would be nipped in the bud as there are so many learned scholars out there to face them and expose their fallacies.
PS. By the way, Nahdi, Q-News editor, was my junior colleague when I was editor of the Muslimedia in London in early 1980s.


Point taken, and none (at least, no Muslim!) is suggesting that the era of the Nawabs was not a better one than our own, either here (UK) or in India. 
However, it should be made clear that the level of tolerance shown by these nawabs was beyond the limits of Islam, which necessitates the payment of jizya and restricts the building of new non-Muslim places of worship. In places like Shaam and Egypt, where these conditions were adhered to, Islam accounts for more than 90% of the population; in India today it's about 10% except in Pakistan, which has been Muslim almost since the beginning anyway. This is worth bearing in mind. 


Editor: Not just tolerance, those Nawabs were living a patently un-Islamic life and what they did was out of political expediency in order to gratify their subjects. 
But I do not believe that they should have levied jizya since non-Muslims were serving in the army and the jizya tax is paid in lieu of army service. In fact it is the introduction of jizya by Aurangzeb in India which is responsible for a lot of ill-will in this country. In the contemporary world where Muslim countries are bound by many international treaties and covenants, they cannot enforce such outdated measures which are not part of our religion. The restriction on religious buildings has no sanction in the Qur'an and Hadith and was enforced by later Khulafa as a measure to show Islam's political power. In the current world this is not practical or advisable since there are Muslim minorities everywhere (unlike the early centuries of Islam) and any such restriction on non-Muslims in Muslim countries will reflect on Muslims elsewhere. The small numbers of Muslims in India is due to the policies of the Muslim rulers who did not take any interest in the propagation of Islam. The majority converted as a result of preaching by private preachers or were influenced by the character of ordinary Muslims.


Are you sure it was the jizya itself which was the cause of Hindu ill-will in India, or other measures such as the zunnar, the requirement to walk at the side of the street and let Muslims walk in the middle. Remember that zakaat is only a fourtieth of a Muslim's disposable income, and jizya is less than this for most people (especially the rich - it's a flat rate, unlike zakaat). Jizya is very much part of the religion - is there not a passage in the Qur'an which reads, "Fight them until they pay the jizya out of hand, utterly humiliated" or something like that?
Perhaps the Hanafi madhhab has a different perspective on relations with non-Muslims in the Islamic state than the Maliki and Shafi'i, I don't know. 
(Some of the Shafi'is and Malikis would not have tolerated the continuation of Hinduism at all, since it involves open idol worship, unlike the book-based religions further west.) Remember that a ruler has to take care of his own akhira, and there is nothing to be gained in compromising with the deen. Furthermore, the Prophet (sall' Allahu 'alaihi wa sallam) warned us about a time when we would be powerless despite great numbers, and the reason would be "love of the dunya and hatred of death". We cannot blame the collapse of the Mughal empire (or any other Muslim empire) on the rulers who *did* uphold the Shari'a - if any rulers are to be blamed, it's those who got rid of it (Akbar etc.) and pursued the dunya and encouraged others to do the same.


Editor: These things go with jizya as part of an arrogant mentality which seeks to put down the 'Other' in your society. But I am not sure if zunnar was introduced by Muslims. If it was so, Hindus should have abandoned it long ago. Moreover, it is practiced by the Parsis and the founder of their religion, Zarathushtra, himself wore a thread.
Now coming to jizya, it is mentioned only once in the Qur'an (9:29) and, read with the context, it is clear that people outside the Muslim state, who are manifestly inimical to it, are to be subdued so that they do not threaten the faith. The verse itself does not say that people living within your society should be subjected to this treatment. However, this was the practice in later centuries and it should not be binding on us today in a different world. Our world today is totally different from theirs. Today we have laws and international treaties and international law which bind all countries and a certain minimum amount of human rights is required of all.
The question of toleration of Hinduism arose during the Omayad caliphate itself when parts of north India were conquered by Muhammad ibn al-Qasim. He wrote to the caliph asking him for instructions about how to treat these people he had just conquered and who were different from the non-Muslim sects hitherto known to Muslims. The caliph referred the query to top scholars in Damascus who decreed that these people should be treated like the People of the Book. So this issue has been settled long ago and later Muslim rulers in India followed it. 
q

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