By Alfred Stepan, Charles Taylor
Edited by means of Alfred Stepan and Charles Taylor
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Additional resources for Boundaries of toleration
RUSHDIE: No, I’m saying that often they use it to justify their oppression. AUDIENCE MEMBER 1: Yes, because my impression was that every religion justifies it, in which case it can hardly be the religion. RUSHDIE: The example I was giving in that article was of a case in North India a couple of years ago, when a woman was raped by her father-in-law. This was a Muslim woman, all parties, wife, husband, father-in-law, all Muslim, and the local Islamic seminary decreed that because this had happened she was now to be considered unclean to her husband and he should therefore divorce her.
VISWANATHAN: But that’s what’s so interesting in this little conceit that you have. RUSHDIE: Well, what interests me is that. If you read the story, the history of Akbar and this place, the Ibadat Khana, the chamber where all these philosophies met every day in debate, it’s clear that it was a very important place in the court. And yet in what remains of Fatehpur Sikri, the capital city, nobody knows where it was. The building is lost, and nobody has any idea of where in the site it might have been.
The thing that is colossally important about him is that he tried so hard to break down the barriers between the peoples of India, the barriers created by their different belief systems. I think that it is a heroic action, and it was followed by his son and his grandson. Jahangir, Shah Jahan, the next two emperors, essentially followed that project. Then after that came Aurangzeb, who did a great deal to unmake the project. But, yes, I think it’s admirable. But there are limits to it. There is a story that preexists, which I didn’t make up.