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Fatawa 'Alamgiri Vol 9


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Alamgir II 1754–1759

Subject Year (Time):



Mohib ur Rehman





Publisher & Place:

Maktaba Rehmania

Publisher Date:

17th Century



ISBN 10|13:


Royal Mughal Ref:



Fatawa 'Alamgiri also known as Al-Fatawa al-'Alamgiriyya (Arabic: الفتاوى العالمكيرية‎) or Al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya (Arabic: الفتاوى الهندية‎) is a sharia based compilation on statecraft, general ethics, military strategy, economic policy, justice and punishment, that served as the law and principal regulating body of the Mughal Empire (which comprised almost all of the Indian subcontinent), during the reign of the Mughal emperor Muhammad Muhiuddin Aurangzeb Alamgir. The compilation has been widely regarded to be one of the most well organised works in the field of Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqh).

The collection comprises verses from the Quran, supplemented by Hadiths narratives, including those of Sahih al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Sunan Abu Dawood and Jami` at-Tirmidhi.

Fatawa-e-Alamgiri was the work of many prominent scholars from different parts of the world, including Saudi Arabia, principally from the Hanafi school. In order to compile Fatawa-e-Alamgiri, emperor Aurangzeb gathered 500 experts in Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqh), 300 from South Asia, 100 from Iraq and 100 from the Hejaz (Saudi Arabia). 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 Faqīh of the time.

The Fatawa is notable for several reasons:

It spanned 30 volumes originally in various languages, but is now printed in modern editions as 6 volumes
It provided significant direct contribution to the economy of South Asia, particularly Bengal Subah, waving the proto-industrialization.
It served as the basis of judicial law throughout the Mughal Empire
It created a legal system that treated people differently based on their religion
As the power shifted from Muslim rulers in India to British Raj, the colonial authorities decided to retain local institutions and laws, to operate under traditional pre-colonial laws instead of introducing secular European common law system.[6] Fatawa-i Alamgiri as the documented Islamic law book, became the foundation of legal system of India. Further, the English-speaking judges relied on Muslim law specialist elites to establish the law of the land, because the original Fatawa-i Alamgiri (Al-Hindiya) was written in Arabic. This created a social class of Islamic gentry that jealously guarded their expertise, legal authority and autonomy. It also led to inconsistent interpretation-driven, variegated judgments in similar legal cases, an issue that troubled British colonial officials.

The colonial assumption was that the presumed local traditional sharia-based law, as interpreted from Fatawa-i Alamgiri, could be implemented through British-style law institution with integrity. However, this assumption unravelled in the 2nd half of the 19th century, because of inconsistencies and internal contradictions within Fatawa-i Alamgiri, as well as because the Aurangzeb-sponsored document was based on Hanafi Sunni sharia. Shia Muslims were in conflict with Sunni Muslims of South Asia, as were other minority sects of Islam, and they questioned the applicability of Fatawa-i Alamgiri. Further, Hindus did not accept the Hanafi sharia-based code of law in Fatawa-i Alamgiri. Thirdly, the British belief in "legal precedent" was at conflict with disregard for "legal precedent" in Anglo-Muhammadan legal system that emerged, leading colonial officials to distrust the Maulavis (Muslim religious scholars). The British colonial officials responded by creating a bureaucracy that created separate laws for Muslim sects, and non-Muslims such as Hindus in South Asia. This bureaucracy relied on Fatawa-i Alamgiri to formulate and enact a series of separate religious laws for Muslims and common laws for non-Muslims (Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs), most of which were adopted in independent India after 1947.

The British tried to sponsor translations of Fatawa-i Alamgiri. In the late 18th century, at the insistence of the British, the al-Hidaya was translated from Arabic to Persian. Charles Hamilton and William Jones translated parts of the document along with other sharia-related documents in English. These translations triggered a decline in the power and role of the Qadis in colonial India.Neil Baillie published another translation, relying on Fatawa-i Alamgiri among other documents, in 1865, as A Digest of Mohummudan Law. In 1873, Sircar published another English compilation of Muhammadan Law that included English translation of numerous sections of Fatawa-i Alamgiri. These texts became the references that shaped law and jurisprudence in colonial India in late 19th and the first half of the 20th century, many of which continued in post-colonial India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

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