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August 17, 2017

Dar ul Islam – Meanings & Definition in Islam

Dar ul Islam

The term dar al-islam, which literally means “the house or abode of Islam,” came to signify Islamic territory in juridical discussions. For the majority, it is thus suggestive of a geopolitical unit, in which Islam is established as the religion of the state, in contrast to dar al-harb, territory not governed by Islam. The signs of legitimacy by which one could speak of a geopolitical unit as dar al-islam would include a ruler or ruling class whose self-identity is Islamic, some institutional mechanisms by which consultation between the political and religious elite is possible, and a commitment to engage in political and military struggle to extend the borders of the dar al-islam.
For others, the relationship between dar al-islam and existing political arrangements was not so easily negotiated. Thus, in one tradition the proto-Shi_a leader Ja_far al-Sadiq (d. 765) is presented as suggesting that the territory of Islam exists wherever people are free to practice Islam and to engage in calling others to faith—even if the leadership in such a place does not acknowledge or establish Islam as the state religion. Correlatively, a territory in which the ruler or ruling class identifies with Islam, but where the (true) interpretation of Islamic sources is suppressed, is not dar al-islam, but something else.
In the modern period, one of the most vexing questions for jurists, and indeed for Muslims generally, has to do with the ongoing power of the symbol of dar al-islam. The experience of colonialism, the demise of the historic caliphate, and the formation of modern states present serious challenges to those who would follow classical precedent and utilize this symbol. One line of thought, expressed most succinctly by Shah _Abd al-_Aziz (d. 1824), held that the influx of British power meant that India was no longer dar al-islam. As such, the Muslim community was under an obligation to struggle and bring about the restoration of Islamic influence. Others, by contrast, understood the classical use of the term as connected with an outmoded and even non-Islamic emphasis
on empire. For these, in ways analogous to the thinking of Ja_far al-Sadiq, Islam “abides” wherever Muslims practice their religion and call others to faith.

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