23. Professor K.S. Lal
Dr. S. Godbole’s comments at a Seminar in Pune and his letter to Shri K.S. Sudarshan, published by the Voice of India in the form of a brochure titled Time for Stock Taking, raise issues of vital importance to the Majority population of Hindus in the country. There are many minority groups in India. But except the Muslims, they pose no serious problem. The Muslim position has been intractable both before and after Partition. I would like to react to points raised by Dr. Godbole in the sequence published in the brochure.
1. Many Hindus may extend their pantheon of gods and goddesses with the peace-propagating seers of Indian origin like Buddha, Mahavir and Nanak. But Christians and Muslims will never be prepared to join Jesus and Muhammad with other gods. Islam forbids inclusion of Allah in the galaxy of gods of any other religion. Muslims would not agree to such inclusion. It is Hindus who think in terms of such integration; Muslims don’t.
2. It is true that it is against the spirit of Hinduism to criticize other religions. There are many reasons for this phenomenon. Followers of proselytizing religions denounce the religions of others to attract converts by creating in them a sense of hatred for their own deities. Hindus do not denounce other faiths because they do not believe in making converts. Besides, Muslims and Christians were rulers of the country for many centuries. It was not possible to criticize their religions during their brutal sway. Furthermore, Hindus did not read the Quran, the Hadis and the Sunnah because they were written in Arabic and were not available in translations. Now that they are available in other languages also, critical appraisals of Christianity and Islam are being made. Arya Samaj and Voice of India have done yeoman service in this regard.
All religions lead to God. But there is a difference between God and God, between the God of Hindus and the Allah of Muslims. Allah has his faithfuls and enemies. “And surely Allah will help him who helps Him.” The people of the faith are exhorted to fight Allah’s enemies. In return they are promised a place in Paradise if they die; or all the material possessions of the victim if they survive in Jihad. Hindu God has no enemies in poor humans. He is a friend of all. He is kind to those who are His devotees and also to those who do not worship Him.
3. Dr. Godbole rightly contradicts the notion that “Islam is good but Muslims are bad”. He pertinently points out that Muslims minus their Islam are as good as any other people. It is Islam that brutalized them not only in its early years but for all time to come. Take the example of Afghanistan. When it was not Islamized, Gandhara was a great centre of art and culture. When it became Islamic, it took to violence. Today Afghanistan is being ruled according to the Islamic Sharia. And the whole world knows how it is being ruled. If the Gandharis or Afghans renounce Islam, they will become tolerant and may one day regain their old cultural grandeur.
4. Muslims know of their ancestry. They cannot unite with Hindus because their religion teaches them not to have any links with non-Muslims. Some are even shy of acknowledging their ancestry and seek extra-territorial origins by flaunting names like Qureshi, Bukhari, Sherwani and Tirmizi. It is well said that when a Hindu is converted, it is not a case of a Hindu lost but that of an adversary added. Pakistanis and Bangladeshis know about their common ancestry, but in place of uniting with the Hindus, they keep busy in ethnic cleansing.
5. The BJP is following the Congress policy of wooing Muslims for their votes. Else, if the BJP treats Muslims as equals, and not as vote bank, where is the need of having a Minorities (read Muslim) cell as is the case with Congress or Congress Government. If the BJP continues with the policy of the Congress with regard to Muslims, it will meet the fate of the Congress. Tactical voting by the Muslims (who also exploit their position as vote bank) should serve as a pointer to the electoral arithmetic of the BJP. As Godbole points out, “It is not important how BJP views Muslims, but how Muslims view BJP.”
6. Sufis believe in Shariat, besides Tariqat and Marifat. Adherence to Shariat makes them as good or as bad Muslims as the others. There are no secular Sufis. An Alim and Sufi like Amir Khusrau denounced Hindus in these words: “The whole country, by means of the sword of holy warriors, has become like a forest denuded of its thorns by fire. Had not the Law granted exemption from death by the payment of poll-tax the very name of Hind[us], root and branch, would have been extinguished”, or “the Turks, whenever they please, can seize, buy, or sell any Hindus.” Amir Khusrau was a friend of Ziayauddin Barani, perhaps the most fanatical chronicler of medieval India. And both Khusrau and Barani were disciples of Shaikh Nizamuddin Auliya who is known as a great Sufi of the Chishti order. Chishtias are the most accommodative of the Sufi orders. Suhrawardis and Naqshbandis are Sufis of a different kind. Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi and Shah Walliullah were Sufis of this second sort. The latter considered Mahmud of Ghazni the greatest Muslim after the pious Caliphs. He invited Ahmad Shah Abdali to invade India to destroy the power of the Hindus. And he is considered by Muslims as a leading light of Islamic philosophy.
Many Sufis participated in Jihad against non-Muslims. Maxwell Eaton’s book has been banned by the Indian “secular” government because it gives a glimpse into the activities of the “sufi warriors”. “Even Shaikh Muinuddin Chishti’s picture of tolerance is replaced by a portrait of him as a warrior of Islam.” (P. M. Currie).
7. I entirely agree with Dr. Godbole on this point.
8. As Godbole says, it is plain nonsense to say that Namaz offered at a disputed site (like Ayodhya) is not acceptable to Allah. All Hadises repeatedly mention that Masjids for Namaz should be built at places where idols (and idol temples) are. The idols at Taif in Arabia were destroyed to build a place of Namaz there. Hadises and Sunnah are witnesses to this phenomenon.
In his letter to Shri K.S. Sudarshan, Godbole has rightly stressed that Muslims should be viewed not only as oppressors (of non-Muslims) but also as the greatest victims of Islam. Muslims became oppressors as their creed directed them to fight Jihad with non-Muslims even without any provocation from the latter. They were encouraged to demolish temples and convert people by force. This they did in all the centuries of their contact with India (as well as other countries) from the time of Mahmud of Ghazni to that of Aurangzeb. The contemporary scenario in Pakistan and Bangladesh is no different.
But Muslims suffer equally badly from Islam’s stringent laws. The Hadises advocate inculcation of the habit of saying Namaz for a boy of seven; when he attains the age of ten, he should be beaten up if he ignores the prayers. Namaz and Roza are compulsory. Muslims keep a sort of watch on neighbours about these obligations, else it would not be necessary to put forward the plea of illness by those who do not observe Roza. About the punishments in Islam, the less said the better. Cutting of hands and feet, stoning to death of men and women, whipping women for sundry offences are still considered correct, if not actually practised in all Islamic countries. Many Muslims do not approve of such and several other practices in Islam. But they dare not speak out. If one in a million dares, issuance of a fatwa sends him into exile or hiding. Dr. Godbole is not right in advocating that Muslims “should be weaned away from Islamic ideology”. This is just not possible as the punishment for abjuring Islam is death. No Muslim would be prepared to risk his life for the sake of tasting the feel of freedom. His fear psychosis makes him aggressive towards the people of other faiths. He vehemently criticises Western Christian culture on the one hand and feels superior to the Hindus on the other.
so, as Godbole says, “it is no use repeating parrot-like that all religions
are alike”, and “we should beware of ideologies masquerading as religions.”
It is indeed time for stock taking. The only correct course for BJP and
allied parties is to stick to its original programme rather than to borrow
from others the policy of appeasement and cajolery.
writer is a distinguished and well known historian of medieval India under
Muslim rule. He has written several books, some of which have earned him
international fame. Readers of Voice of India publications are familiar
with some of his latest writings.