Dar ul Harb in Islam
The term dar al-harb, which literally means “the house or abode of war,” came to signify in classical jurisprudence a geopolitical reality; hence, it may also be rendered the “territory” of war.
In the most basic sense the term indicates territory not governed by Islam, in contrast to territory under Islamic rule, dar al-islam. More precisely, these territories are geopolitical units within which Islam is not the established religion, where the ruler is not a Muslim, and where there exists no mechanism by which political or military leaders may seek the counsel of Islamic religious specialists. Use of the phrase dar al-harb further indicates the threat of war from the Muslim community. Muslim jurists differed on the mechanisms by which this threat of war could become a reality. For the majority, the leader of the Muslims must fulfill the obligation of “calling” the people of a non-Islamic territory to Islam.
Once a people, through its rulers, refused the opportunity (1) to establish Islam as the state religion, or (2) to enter into a tributary arrangement with the leader of the Muslims, it was understood that war could follow. In accord with normative traditions, this war should be understood as an aspect of jihad, or the struggle to “make God’s cause succeed,” specifically by spreading Islamic government throughout the earth. It is important to note that the purpose of the war to expand the territory of Islam was not to make converts, but rather to establish Islamic government.
In modern times, the notion of dar al-harb has been employed by some Muslims to speak about territories lost to the forces of colonialism or, more generally, secularism. In this connection, the ruling of the Shah _Abd al-_Aziz (d. 1824) regarding the status of British India is of great interest. As he had it, given British dominance in the subcontinent, India should no longer be considered Islamic territory. It was rather part of dar al-harb. Mirroring subsequent discussions in Islamic political and juridical thought, _Abd al _Aziz’s followers drew differing conclusions from his ruling, some believing that cooperation with the British, particularly in the field of education, was a necessary prelude to a renewal of Islam and its cultural influence. Others were more inclined toward direct action with the goal of British withdrawal.