Books

A new book on the Muslim life during the Medieval period

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Book: Ahd-i-Islami ke Hindustan mein Muasharat,Maishat aur Hukumat ke Maasail -                Ulama ki Fiqhi Tashrihat aur Hukmeranon ke Iqdamat ka Mutalah
Author: Prof. Zafarul Islam Islahi
Publisher: Islamic Book Foundation, 1781 Hauz Suiwalan, Delhi 110 002/Darul Musannifin Shibli Academy, Azamgarh, U.P.
Pages: 200; Price: 120

This is the latest Urdu book by AMU Prof. Zafarul Islam Islahi. It is a detailed analytical study of juridical views of the ulama during the long Muslim rule in India with regard to socio-economic and political problems which emerged in those days. The work is divided into six chapters and attempts to show with reference to contemporary sources that the ulama of the period examined  problems of varied nature and expressed their juristic views about them in their academic assemblies as well as in their fiqhi works (particularly fatawa compilations) which were arranged by them thematically. The work focusses on the response of the contemporary ulama to the new problems that emerged after the establishment of Muslim rule in India and also required juridical solutions. These problems were related to different aspects of religious, socio-economic and political life.

A very significant issue of those days which had special interest for the jurists was the socio-economic relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims (e.g., Hindus).  It was juridically examined by them and discussed in detail in their works.The author has critically evaluated their standpoints on this burning issue and came to the conclusion that the ulama of the period offered both catholic and liberal view about this problem keeping in view the pluralistic nature of their society. During the Arab rule in Sind, the vedict of the ulama about the legal position of Hindus and Muhammad Ibn Qasim's kind and just treatment of the non-Muslim population became a guideline  for the succeeding Indian Muslim rulers of the later periods (Delhi Sultans and Mughal emperors). In the present work, these matters are discussed in detail.

The work also takes into account the functioning of certain institutions of Islamic economy under the imperial governments of those days. In this connection, the author has studied paricularly the functioning of Baitul Mal in Medieval India and has attempted to show that the Baitul Mal in those days performed almost all those functions which are earmarked for this institution in an Islamic system including financial assistance to the needy, advancement of money for economic development and utilization of resources for public welfare.The work also examines the views of the contemporary ulama about fixation of prices of essential commodities by the State, imposition of additional taxes by the government, partnership in trade under the mudarabah system and the nature of proprietory rights of peasants/State in the kharaji land.

Another notable aspect of the work is the critical evaluation of many of the royal edicts or state-laws (Zawabit) and administrative steps of the rulers in the light of Shariah and pinpointing their conformity to or deviation from its rules.
   The work will be of interest to students and researchers of medieval India, particularly to those who are working on the fiqh works of the period and are curious to find out the relationship between the State law and Shariah.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 March 2010 on page no. 27

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