Wa `alaykum as-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
1- Though it is not permissible for Muslims to participate in any idol acts or worship or promote it, they should not interfere in the ways or places of non-Muslims’ worship.
2- Moreover, the best way in such cases is the mutual tolerance between Muslims and non- Muslims.
Islam teaches Muslims to be tolerant of other religions and reciprocate kindness with kindness. Muslims and Hindus have lived together for centuries in fairly respectful of each other. Hindus have provided lands for mosques, and thus it is only fair on the part of Muslims to provide lands for temples.
Temples are not merely places of idol worship. They are also places where people celebrate God’s name. Mind you, not all Hindus sanction idolatry. Muslims certainly cannot participate in idol worship or propagate it. However, it is not allowable for them to interfere in the freedom of worship of Hindus.
There is no doubt the issue is controversial when looked at from a purely legalistic perspective. However, viewed from the perspective of maslahah (benefit) or otherwise known as siyasah shara`iyyah (Islamic system of political governance), this is in perfect agreement with the spirit of tolerance that prevailed in Muslim states prior to the abolition of the caliphate.
Scholars advised Muslims, who encountered the Hindus for the first time, to treat them like the People of the Book. It is worth remembering that eminent Sufi Sheikhs and scholars such as Mirza Jaan Janaan (who was deeply familiar with the Hindu scriptures) supported this view.
Allah Almighty knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.