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The sixth Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb reading Quran, in early 18th century. He commissioned the Fatawa-e-Alamgiri that expanded Islamic law within Hanafi fiqh boundaries. Composed by 500 Medina, Iraqi and Mughal Muslim scholars, the fatwa created social stratification of Muslims, where one's status determined the person's legal rights and unequal treatment under Islamic law.[1]

Fatawa-e-Alamgiri (also known as Fatawa-i-Hindiya and Fatawa-i Hindiyya) is a compilation of law created at instance of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb (who was also known as Alamgir). This compilation is based on Sunni Hanafi Islam's Sharia law, and was the work of many scholars, principally from the Hanafi school.[2]

In order to compile Fatawa-e-Alamgiri, Aurangzeb gathered 500 experts in Islamic jurisprudence (Faqīh), 300 from the South Asia, 100 from Iraq and 100 from the Hejaz. Their work over years, resulted in an Islamic code of law for South Asia, in late Mughal Era. It consists of legal code on personal, family, slaves, war, property, inter-religious relations, transaction, taxation, economic and other law for a range of possible situations and their juristic rulings by the Hanafi jurists of the time.

The Fatawa-e-Alamgiri is notable for several reasons:

  • It spanned 30 volumes
  • It served as the basis of law and doctrine imposed by Aurangzeb throughout his empire by early 18th century
  • It created a legal system that treated people differently based on their social class, economic status and religion[1][3]

Views[edit]

The Fatawa-i Alamgiri (also spelled Fatawa al-Alamgiriyya) was compiled in late 17th century, by 500 Muslim scholars from Medina, Baghdad and South Asia, in Delhi (India) and Lahore (Pakistan), led by Sheikh Nizam Burhanpuri.[4] It was a creative application of Islamic law within the Hanafi fiqh.[1] It restricted the powers of Muslim judiciary and the Islamic jurists ability to issue discretionary fatwas.

The document created a social stratification among Muslims. For the same crime, it declared that Muslim nobles such as Sayyids were exempt from prison, humiliation as well as physical punishments, the governors and landholders could be humiliated but not arrested nor physically punished, the middle class could be humiliated and put into prison but not physically punished, while the lowest class commoners could be arrested, humiliated and physically punished.[1] The emperor was granted powers to issue farmans (legal doctrine) that overruled fatwas of Islamic jurists.

In substance similar to other Hanafi texts, Fatawa-i Alamgiri describes, among other things,

  • personal law for South Asian Muslims in 18th century, their inheritance rights,
  • the right of Muslims to purchase and own slaves,[5]
  • a Muslim man's right to have sex with a captive slave girl he owns or a slave girl owned by another Muslim (with master's consent) without marrying her,[6]
  • a Muslim master's right to acknowledge or decline recognition children born to slave girls - a recognition that affected whether the slave's children would have any inheritance, the inability of infidels (non-Muslims) to inherit,[7]
  • distinction in property rights between Muslims and non-Muslims,[8]
  • no inheritance rights for slaves,[9]
  • slaves require permission of the master before they can marry,[10]
  • a unmarried Muslim may marry a slave girl he owns but a Muslim married to a Muslim woman may not marry a slave girl,[11]
  • the guardian of a Muslim girl may arrange and force her to marry against her will,[12]
  • apostates neither have nor leave inheritance rights after they are executed,[13]
  • a Muslim man with four wives must treat all of them justly, equally and each must come to his bed when he so demands.[14]

The Fatawa-e-Alamgiri also formalized the legal principle of Muhtasib, or office of censor that was already in use by previous rulers of the Mughal Empire. Any publication or information could be declared as heresy, and its transmission made a crime.[1] Officials (kotwal) were created to implement the Sharia doctrine of hisbah. The offices and administrative structure created by Fatawa-e-Alamgiri aimed at Islamisation of South Asia.[1]

Contemporary comments[edit]

Burton Stein states that Fatawa-i-Alamgiri represented a re-establishment of Muslim ulama prominence in political and administrative structure that was lost by Muslim elites and people during Mughal Emperor Akbar's time. It reformulated legal principles to defend Islam and Muslim society by creating a new, expanded code of Islamic law.[3]

Mona Siddiqui notes that while the text is called a fatawa, it is actually not a fatwa nor a collection of fatwas from Aurangzeb's time.[15] It is a mabsūts style, furu al-fiqh genre Islamic text, one that compiles many statements and refers back to earlier Hanafi sharia texts as justification. The text considers contract not as a written document between two parties, but an oral agreement, in some cases such as marriage one in the presence of witnesses.[15]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Jamal Malik (2008), Islam in South Asia: A Short History, Brill Academic, ISBN 978-9004168596, pp. 194-197
  2. ^ The Administration of Justice in Medieval India, MB Ahmad, The Aligarh University (1941)
  3. ^ a b Burton Stein (2010), A History of India, John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 978-1405195096, pp. 177-178
  4. ^ M. Reza Pirbhai (2009), Reconsidering Islam in a South Asian Context, Brill Academic, ISBN 978-9004177581, pp. 131-154
  5. ^ Fatawa i-Alamgiri, Vol 5, page 273
  6. ^ Fatawa i-Alamgiri, Vol 1, page 395-397; Fatawa-i Alamgiri, Vol 1, page 86-88
  7. ^ Fatawa i-Alamgiri, Vol 6, page 630, The Muhammadan Law page 289 annotations
  8. ^ Fatawa i-Alamgiri, Vol 6, page 631, The Muhammadan Law page 282 annotations
  9. ^ Fatawa i-Alamgiri, Vol 6, page 631, The Muhammadan Law page 275 annotations
  10. ^ Fatawa i-Alamgiri, Vol 1, page 377, The Muhammadan Law page 298 annotations
  11. ^ Fatawa i-Alamgiri, Vol 1, page 394-398
  12. ^ Fatawa i-Alamgiri, Vol 1, page 402-403
  13. ^ Fatawa i-Alamgiri, Vol 6, page 632-637
  14. ^ Fatawa i-Alamgiri, Vol 1, page 381
  15. ^ a b M Siddiqui (2012), The Good Muslim: Reflections on Classical Islamic Law and Theology, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0521518642, pp 12-16

Further reading[edit]

  • The Muhammadan Law at Google Books, English translation of numerous sections of Fatawa i Alamgiri (Translator: SC Sircar, Tagore Professor of Law, Calcutta, 1873)
  • Sheikh Nizam, al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, 6 vols, Beirut: Dar Ihya' al-Turath al-'Arabi, 3rd Edition, (1980)

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fatawa-e-Alamgiri — Please support Wikipedia.
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