Sunday, July 3, 2022

W. C. Smith’s View of Islam in India

Wilfred Cantwell Smith’s 1957 book Islam in Modern History is perhaps the most important work on Islam by a Western scholar. A major focus of the book is on Islam in the Indian subcontinent. 

On page 289 of his book, Smith writes: "The Muslims of India face what is a radically new and profound problem; namely how to live with others as equals. This is unprecedented; it has never arisen before in the whole history of Islam.” On page 287, he observes: "The question of political power and social organization, so central to Islam, has in the past always been considered in yes-or-no terms. Muslims have either had political power or they have not. Never before have they shared it with others.” On page 28, he observes: “[Islam's] purpose includes the structuring of a social community, the organization of the Muslim groups into a closed body obedient to the [Islamic] Law.” 

The condition of Islam being politically supreme is not being fulfilled in India, since India is a Hindu-majority democratic and secular country where power is shared by all communities. According to Smith, sharing of power is extremely problematic in Islam.

No comments: