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.
The two rulings (fatwas) referred to here are given in English
translation in Appendix II and III of The Indian Musalmans.
- 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."
- 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."
- 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
"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
(ibid., p. 219)