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Fatwas quoted by Hunter in The Indian Musalmans
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Fatwas quoted by Hunter in
The Indian Musalmans

In 1872 a British scholar and civil servant in India, W. W. Hunter, published a now historic book entitled The Indian Musalmans, in which he gave the views of various sects of Islam on the question of whether Muslims were duty-bound by their religion to wage a war-like jihad against the British government of India. We quote below from the second edition, published by Trubner and Co., London, 1872.

  • Regarding the Shiah sect, Hunter writes:

    "Their present declaration of the non-obligation to rebel is spontaneous, and it is well that such a declaration has been put on record. It comes to us stamped with the highest authority which the Shias can give to any document, and will be permanently binding on the whole sect."
    (p. 121)
  • Regarding the Sunni Hanafis, the majority sect, he then adds:

    "I now pass to the Formal Decisions of the greater sect. The Sunnis, as they are the most numerous class of Indian Musalmans, so they have of late been the most conspicious in proclaiming that they are under no religious obligation to wage war against the Queen. To that end they have procured two distinct sets of Legal Decisions, and the Muhammadan Literary Society of Calcutta has summed up the whole Sunni view of the question in a forcibly written pamphlet…

    "The Law Doctors of Northern Hindustan set out by tacitly assuming that India is a Country of the Enemy (Dar-ul-Harb), and deduce therefrom that religious rebellion is uncalled for. The Calcutta Doctors declare India to be a Country of Islam (Dar-ul-Islam), and conclude that religious rebellion is therefore unlawful."
    (p. 122)

The two rulings (fatwas) referred to here are given in English translation in Appendix II and III of The Indian Musalmans.
  • In the first fatwa, the following question was asked:

    "What is your Decision, O men of learning and expounders of the law of Islam, in the following: Whether a Jihad is lawful in India, a country formerly held by a Muslim ruler, and now held under the sway of a Christian government, where the said Christian Ruler does in no way interfere with his Muslim subjects in the Rites prescribed by their Religion, such as Praying, Fasting, Pilgrimage, Zakat, Friday Prayer, and Jama`at, and gives them fullest protection and liberty in the above respects in the same way as a Muslim Ruler would do, and where the Muslim subjects have no strength and means to fight with their rulers; on the contrary, there is every chance of the war, if waged, ending with a defeat, and thereby causing an indignity to Islam."

    The fatwa given on this question, dated 17 July 1870, is as follows:

    "The Musalmans here are protected by Christians, and there is no Jihad in a country where protection is afforded, as the absence of protection and liberty between Musalmans and Infidels is essential in a religious war, and that condition does not exist here. Besides, it is necessary that there should be a probability of victory to Musalmans and glory to the Indians. If there be no such probability, the Jihad is unlawful."

    This fatwa bears the seals of the following: Maulavi Ali Muhammad, Maulavi Abdul Hai, Maulavi Fazlullah, Muhammad Naim, and Maulavi Rahmatullah, all of Lucknow, Maulavi Qutb-ud-Din of Delhi, Maulavi Lutfullah of Rampur, and others. See pages 218-219 of The Indian Musalmans.

  • In the second fatwa, given by Maulavi Karamat Ali of the Calcutta Muhammadan Society, it is first determined that India is Dar-ul-Islam, and then it is added:

    "The second question is, `Whether it is lawful in this Country to make Jihad or not.' This has been solved together with the first. For jihad can by no means be lawfully made in Dar-ul-Islam. This is so evident that it requires no argument or authority to support it. Now, if any misguided wretch, owing to his perverse fortune, were to wage war against the Ruling Powers of this Country, British India, such war would be rightly pronounced rebellion; and rebellion is strictly forbidden by the Islamic Law. Therefore such war will likewise be unlawful; and in case any one would wage such war, the Muslim subjects would be bound to assist their Rulers, and, in conjunction with their Rulers, to fight with such rebels."
    (ibid., p. 219)
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