Barq girti hai to bechare Mussalmanon par
(If lightning strikes, it’s on the beleaguered Muslims)
Barq girti hai to bechare Mussalmanon par
(If lightning strikes, it’s on the beleaguered Muslims)
It is the Muslim, the vanquisher of generations of past Hindus, who will be the great adversary of the new Hindu. This is the concluding note and message of Bankim Chandra (1838-94) in Anandmath. He looked upon medieval India as a period of bondage, saw in Islam a quest for power and glory, and found its followers devoid of spiritual and ethical qualities, and characterised by irrationality, bigotry, deviousness, sensuality, and immorality. In his last novel, the female warrior gains the trappings of a violent mother goddess in the climactic scene, where she urges the killings of Muslims. This kind of rhetoric is often accompanied by very harsh, even coarse, language that popularised the use of mlecchas, a term of abuse. While we know that this particular language inflected the rhetoric and the aspirations of violent Hindu communalism of the next century, we can only guess its psychological impact on those for whom the term was frequently used.
The NDA’s electoral victory has lent coherence to the Sangh parivar’s ideology, but it has made the Muslim communities spend sleepless nights. This had not happened before. Notwithstanding their litany of complaints against the Congress, they have been wedded to the Indian way of life. They have done nothing whatsoever to undermine the Constitution or repudiate the Nehruvian consensus on secular democracy. However, today’s political and intellectual climate has weakened their confidence in the state system and, what is more, heightened their insecurities. Among other things, the clamour for a uniform civil code has caused consternation. Given its track record, one wonders what is next on the Sangh parivar’s divisive agenda!
Historiography must not follow the great impulses of public life; yet, the HRD ministry’s project is to view the far distant age through contemporary conceptions. The electronic media, on the other hand, debates the imperative of jehad for contemporary Indian Muslims and the theoretical roots of ‘Islamist political terror’. Based on false principles, this exercise is undertaken without realising that India is neither a centre of jehadi terrorism nor the battlefield for Islam’s future. Islam exists in harmony with other religious traditions and Muslims live in peace with followers of other religions. Why is there so much resistance to this reality? Why is plurality of living not accepted as a fact of life?
Every attempt at historical interpretation, wrote Alfred Cobban, the historian of the French Revolution, must stand or fall by its consistency with evidence. Let us see how this might hold true for Nirad Chaudhuri, who wrote in the mid-1960s and converted a good many English and Bengali readers to his credo. His pages pulsed with fire, emotion and hatred for the Muslims. Like the saffron brigade, he projected his interpretation, a mixture of fear and enmity, backwards and onwards. His literature of denunciation began with the Mughals and extended to a generalised hostility towards the Muslims. This was the man who claimed to have eagerly drunk in the message of 1789, the year of the French Revolution.
History can be made to supply the plot and the setting for the mind already made up. One of Chaudhuri’s central arguments is that the Muslim intellectual tradition ran wholly independent of, and without being influenced by, the Hindus. It is glaringly obvious that this proposition does not rest securely on any historical foundations. Yet, it suits the Ashok Singhals and the Pravin Togadias of today to disregard, first of all, the energy behind any form of cultural synthesis, and the fact that such energy is derived not from any external, unintelligible force, but from the sheer experience of living together. They resent such a synthesis with unruffled serenity. Like Nirad Chaudhuri, their hatred is not confined to India’s Muslims, but to the Islamic community the world over.
What is to be done with people who will not give any reason for their assertions and, on the other, with people who cannot understand the implications of their views? Looking more closely, it will be seen that Chaudhuri’s ‘liberalism’ was not only hollow but heavily laden with Bengali revivalist consciousness. But I have not yet mentioned the most astonishing—I ought to say, really, the worst example of his wilful blindness. Writing in Thy Hand Great Anarch!, he celebrated Italy’s attack on Tripoli in 1911, and exulted at the victories of Serbia, Bulgaria and the other Balkan states. After Turkey joined Germany at the end of 1914, he felt that the Muslims would be taught a lesson. Maybe, that is what some ‘intellectuals’ would want to happen to the Palestinians.
For Chaudhuri, history meant celebrating British rule as an age of liberation from Muslim despotism; its key objective being to prevent this ‘despotism’ from returning to Bengal when the British withdrew and to deny that Muslims could be Bengalis, and by extension Indians. “Repelled” by the prospect of living in a Muslim-dominated Bengal, he gave the impression of the Muslims growing in menace from minute to minute. The moral is simple enough: confront the devil now; for tomorrow it may be too late. It is an interesting coincidence that the proponents of Hindutva echo similar sentiments. Chaudhuri’s insidious thesis on the “gigantic catastrophe of Hindu-Muslim discord” casts a spell over the RSS as also the recent converts to the Narendra Modi creed among ‘liberal’ intellectuals.
Mohammed Iqbal had written: Ai Ab-e rud Ganga wo din hai yaad tujhko; utra tere kinare jab caravan humra. Perhaps an objective study of the distant time may contribute to strengthening the secular edifice. If the place of Islam in the 21st century is permanent and that living with it as a political phenomenon is a certainty for the foreseeable future, we need to build a history that does not make ‘Islam’ and its followers the Other.
Contrary to what Najma Heptullah thinks in her new incarnation, Muslims regard themselves as a religious minority. An executive fiat or judicial judgement cannot take away the recognition they have received from the Constitution. This being the case, the state and its agencies must integrate them into the nation-building project rather than contest their status as a ‘minority’. Entitlements include access to education even if it means departing from such norms of equity as merit and indifference to ascriptive religious characteristics.
Finally, in a society where religion plays a dominant role in virtually every walk of life, it is the historian’s task to bring secularism into our discussions and to affirm its validity as a principle guiding the nation’s life. To renounce this claim is to surrender the Nehruvian project to the protagonists of right-wing ideologies—recipe for a national disaster.
(Mushirul Hasan is the former V-C of Jamia Millia Islamia. He is currently a Jawaharlal Nehru Fellow.)
Prof Mushirul Hasan was going fine with his piece Project History till the last paragraph, when he says: “...it is the historian’s task to bring secularism into our discussions and to affirm its validity.” This negates every argument he made in previous paragraphs. To me that line does not ring of a historian but of a partisan hack, a stenographer of some pet ideology, a pseudo-intellectual with a hidden agenda. In the quoted phrase, replace ‘secularism’ with ‘communism’ or ‘fascism’ or ‘Islam’ or ‘Hinduism’ and you have the entire spectrum of apologists from the far left to the extreme right. How is ‘secularism’ any different as an agenda? It may not be a petty prejudice; but as a prejudice, it’s a danger to the accumulation of genuine knowledge.
Mushirul Hasan has quoted a line in his article (Project History, Aug 25) from a very well-known couplet of Mohammed Iqbal. Torn out of context, it has lost its true complexion. The complete couplet reads, “Rahmatein teri hain aghiyar ke kashanon par/Barq girti hai to bechare Mussalmanon par (Your [God’s] blessings are showered only on the houses of the non-Muslims but every time the lightning strikes the helpless Muslims)”. Hasan has wrongly used the word ‘beleaguered’ for ‘bechare’. A poet of pan-Islamism, Iqbal was the first to float the idea of Pakistan. When Pt Nehru visited him during his last illness, the poet is said to have told him, “The difference between you and Jinnah is that you are a patriot and he is a politician.”
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
>>>> "Here is the modus operandi of Muslims"
>> Rehash of old RSS rubbish, being posted here for the 100th time! You should know that you are about the 50th RSS hate pracharak to disgrace this forum
This is not rubbish, it is fact and news acrss major newspapers today. When will likes of you wake up believing it is a "miniscule" minority of Muslims doing that.
And it has got nothing to do with HDI or economic progress (where is Mr Ram from Halifx?), it is just plain radicalization and bigotry fueled by hateful scriptures which you never seem to admit.
Here is what is going on in UK, this NYTIMES not some RSS propaganda:
Those imams often preach a brand of Islamic supremacy, the experts say, that demonizes non-Muslims and gays and justifies militant acts with extreme interpretations of the Quran. They are careful not to suggest taking up arms, but will talk about the situation in Syria, Iraq or Gaza, and then talk about a Muslim’s duties. Their views are extreme, but rarely illegal. Radicalization is heightened by views found on the Internet and social media, and in small lectures and workshops outside the mosque.
[[Rehash of old RSS rubbish, being posted here for the 100th time!]]
Well, it is flattering to note that Jihadis think the RSS is spread throughout the world, because this is the same feeling people have wherever Muslims exist in a sizeable number.
[[You should know that you are about the 50th RSS hate pracharak to disgrace this forum.]]
I'm sure you wake several times in the night and look under your bed to see if there is an RSS pracharak hiding.
>> "Here is the modus operandi of Muslims"
Rehash of old RSS rubbish, being posted here for the 100th time! You should know that you are about the 50th RSS hate pracharak to disgrace this forum.
Varun and D.L.Narayan,
>> "If Savarkar and Golwalkar were atheists, how can they be "violently opposed to the very words "secular" and "atheist"?"
I was responding to the comment, "They were violently opposed to the very words "secular" and "atheist" in their own political programme." Neither Jinnah, nor Savarkar nor Golwalkar expressed opposition to atheism as such, although all three of them were considered to be atheists for one reason or another.
Saroja mami quoting that riot-victim chaser (much in the manner of the ambulance chasers in the US) isn't surprising. After all, this very same lady put out a photograph showing an ISIS terrorist's head superimposed on Goddess Kali's body, and then another terrorist holding the Sudarsana Chakra on his index finger.
And thanks for the title of Sanghi 2; will take it any day over Jihadi or Commie or worse "Hindu liberal", one of which aptly describes the likes of you and the lady you were ashamed to quote.
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