An Open Letter to the Taliban on the Treatment of Hindus
By Enver Masud, The Wisdom Fund
WASHINGTON, DC--We understand that Mohammed Wali, religious police minister, told Associated Press on Tuesday, that Hindus living in Afghanistan would be required to wear an identity label on their clothing to distinguish them from Muslims, and that Hindu women would be required to to veil themselves. Such an edict, coming from those who profess to be scholars of Islam, is incomprehensible.

Following the conquest of India by Muhammad bin Qasim, wrote the Islamic scholar Shaheed Isma'il Raji al Faruqi, the Muslims faced new religions that they had never known before--Buddhism and Hinduism. Muhammad bin Qasim sought instruction from the caliph in Damascus on how to treat Hindus and Buddhists. They appeared to worship idols, and their doctrines were at the farthest remove from Islam. Their founders were unheard of by Muslims.

The caliph called a council of Muslim scholars, and asked them to render judgment. The judgment was that as long as Hindus and Buddhists did not fight the Islamic state, as long as they paid the jizyah or tax due, they must be free to worship their gods as they please, to maintain their temples, and to determine their lives by the precepts of their faith.

"Thus, the same status as that of the Jews and Christians was accorded to the Hindus," wrote Shaheed Isma'il Raji al Faruqi.

Minister Mohammed Wali may want to give this matter further consideration. Shaheed Isma'il Raji al Faruqi's article on Islam and other religions is available at our web site.

["The jizyah has been much misrepresented:it was not, as is usually stated, a tax on non-Muslims as a penalty for refusal to accept the faith of Islam; it was paid in return for the protection given to them by the Muslim army, to which they were not compuslorily conscripted like Muslims."-- "Sir Abdullah Suhrawardy, "The Sayings of Muhammad."]

["NEW DELHI: The ministry of external affairs goofed when it condemned the Taliban regime in Afghanistan for allegedly forcing Hindus living in that country to wear yellow clothes, stop wearing turbans and start following the Shariat. ... the source of the original report appears to be Masood Khalili, the anti-Taliban Afghan ambassador in New Delhi who made similar allegations in February as well."--Siddharth Varadarajan, "MEA goofs on Taliban 'decree' against Hindus," The Times of India News Service, May 22, 2001]

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