Just finished reading Dr. Arun Shourie’s updated edition of The World of Fatawas. I had read the first editions as well. The new book as few additions one being the epilogue and the kind of argument Shouriji faces often with respect to this book.
I think this book is a masterpiece and probably the only study undertaken on the fatawas in the whole world. Arun Shourie cites numerous fatawas to underline the point that even though Islam claims that it has not church, the ulemas who issue these fataws have gained enormous power. Through these fatwas they control the muslim society across the world. The liberals might argue that no one read these dictates but the truth is that these fatawas are followed my many, in fact the number and the type of queries the ulema receive is a good indicator of that. Also, now and often this clergy would target some prominent people to send right signals to the ordinary people. For example when the mighty people like Dr. Zakir Hussein or Maulana Azad and made to bend before them, when the whoel government is forced to invert a supreme court judgement you know that these people have power and influence.
More than the hindus I am sure the liberal and progressive muslims will find this book eye opening.