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Shah Wali-Ullah and Jihad

Vinod Kumar

A contemporary of Abdul Wahhab of Saudi Arabia, Shah Wali-Allah's influence on Muslim thought in India cannot be overemphasized.

Muslim historian I H Qureshi, (had been member of the Indian as well as Pakistan Historical Records Commission, of the Council of the Indian and Pakistan Institutes of International Affairs, of the executive committees of the Indian History Conference and Pakistan historical Society). wrote:

"Shah Wali-ullah was a man of encyclopedic learning. He was not one of those scholars who keep different branches of knowledge in different chambers of their mind.....The world has not produced many scholars like him....During his lifetime his greatness was recognized by his contemporaries and his claim to that he was MUJADDID of his century was not challenged by any one." (Ulema in Politics -- I H Qureshi, pp 126)

Shah Wali-Ullah is regarded as one of the greatest Muslim thinkers of all times. This is just to emphasize what position Shah Wali-Ullah holds in Islam and what his views about Hindus and jihad were?

The following is what Sayyid Athar Abbas Rizvi of Australia wrote about Shah Wali-Ullah and his works in his Shah Wali-Ullah and His Times, Australia, 1980:

Talking of Wali-Allah (it can be either Allah or Ullah) and his ideas about Jihad and Proselytization, he wrote (pp. 285-6) :

"The modern interpretation of jihad or Islamic holy war overemphasized its defensive character. To the 'ulama, jihad was the fard kifaya (collective duty) and it remained a duty as long as Islam was not the universally dominant religion in any area."

"If it was done forcefully it was quite acceptable but if someone mixed it with kindness it was even better. However, there were people, said the Shah who indulged in their lower nature by following their ancestral religion, ignoring the advice and commands of the Prophet Muhammad. If one chose to explain Islam to such people like this it was to do them a disservice. Force, said he was the much better course -- Islam should be forced down their throat like bitter medicine to a child.. This, however, was only possible if the leaders of the non-Muslim communities who failed to accept Islam were killed; the strength of the community reduced, their property confiscated and a situation was created which led to their followers and descendants willingly accepting Islam. The Shah pleaded that the universal domination of Islam was not possible without jihad....."

He went on to write:

"They (Imams) should preach that other religions were worthless since their founders were not perfect, and their practice was opposed to divine law, interpolations having made them unbelievable......"

"Another means of ensuring conversions was to prevent other religious communities from worshipping their own gods. Moreover, unfavorable discriminating laws should be imposed on non-Muslims in matters of rules of retaliation, compensation for manslaughter and marriage, and in political matters."

Most of Muslim rulers in fact did exactly the same, and many Muslim countries do it even today. Saudi Arabia is the prime example. In Saudi Arabia practice of any religion other than Islam is illegal. It is reminiscent of the laws decreed by many Muslims rulers of India. Aurangzeb had issued orders to ban public practice of Hindu religion, construction of new temples and repair of old ones.

"However, the proselytization programme of Shah Wali-Allah only included the leaders of the Hindu community. The low class of the infidels, according to him, were to be left alone to work in the fields and for paying jizya. They, like beasts of burden and agricultural livestock, were to be kept in abject misery and despair."

(And the same people are led to believe Muslims have no caste distinction. Even when Hindus were converted to Islam Hindus of higher caste got relatively better treatment than Hindus of the lower castes. But still Local converted Hindus were never treated as equal to foreign Muslims. All Muslim administrations were full of first generation Muslims from all over the Muslim world or their descendants -- not of local converted Muslims.

Genealogy of Muslims have always played a great role in Muslim society. Every Muslim trying to trace his genealogy to Arabia. And at times making up one to gain prestige in Muslim society.)

These are the opinions of a great Islamic scholar.