Name of the Book: AyodhyaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?Sanjhi Sanskriti, Sanjhi Virasat [Hindi]
(ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Ayodhya: Shared Culture and TraditionsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢)
Author: Vidya Bhushan Rawat
Publisher: Books for Change, New Delhi
Reviewed by: Yoginder Sikand
Ayodhya, which literally means ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“a place free of warÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, is today a veritable battle-field. Hindu supremacist forces have used the Ayodhya issue to unleash a trail of terror and bloodshed, resulting in the tragic loss of life of thousands of people, mainly Muslims, and causing a sharp deterioration of inter-communal relations in India. According to Hindutva ideologues, Ayodhya is a Hindu town and must be ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“cleansedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ of all Muslim presence. Yet, as Vidya Bhushan Rawat shows in this remarkable book, Ayodhya is not a holy place only of the Hindus. Rather, for centuries it has been home to a variety of non-Hindu traditions, some of which predate the presence of Brahminical Hinduism in the region.
According to available evidence, Rawat says, Ayodhya was for long a Buddhist centre. The seventh century Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang noted the presence of several Buddhist temples in the town, but by this time Buddhism, the religion mainly of the oppressed castes, was rapidly declining in the face of Brahminical revivalism. Rawat tells us of how numerous Buddhist temples in Ayodhya were forcibly taken over by the Brahmins and turned into Hindu shrines, some of which, such as the Dant Dhawan Mandir, still stand today. In addition to its Buddhist link, Ayodhya also has a Sikh and Jain connection. A gurudwara in the town commemorates the visit to the town of Guru Nanak, and five Jain tirthankaras are also said to have been born in the town. Likewise, the region of Awadh, of which Ayodhya was a part, was also a great centre of the Kabirpanthis, followers of Muslim weaver-saint Kabir, who was bitterly critical of the Brahminical religion as well as of the legalist approach of the Muslim ulama. In short, Rawat argues, the notion that Ayodhya has always been a principal center of Brahminical Hinduism, so central to contemporary Hindutva discourse, is grossly erroneous. Buddhism, Jaininsm, Sikhism and the Kabirpanth have all been fiercely opposed to Brahminical hegemony and their association with Ayodhya points to the significant presence of anti-Brahminical movements in the region.
Ayodhya has also been a leading centre of Muslim Sufis, Rawat writes. He tells us of the popular belief of Ayodhya being the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Khurd MeccaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ or ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“little MeccaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, owing to the number of Sufis who are buried in the town, many of whom arrived there much before the Mughal Emperor Babur, who Hindutva ideologues claim was responsible for constructing a mosque in the town, allegedly on the ruins of a temple. Local lore has it that the prophets Noah and Sheth are buried in the town. In addition are the literally dozens of Sufi saints whose names Rawat provides. Many of their shrines or dargahs were destroyed in 1992 by Hindutva terrorists along with the Babri Masjid and numerous other ancient mosques in Ayodhya. Yet, Rawat says, even today large numbers of Hindus visit these shrines, revering the buried Sufi saints as men of God and as powerful beings capable of providing succour and help. Rawat mentions one such shrine as being looked after by a Hindu, and he quotes a Hindu woman who regularly visits a dargah as saying that the Sufi buried there ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“is no less than any RamÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢.
For numerous Dalits, the dargahs provide a sharp contrast to the Brahminical temples, where they face routine discrimination. A Dalit respondent tells Rawat that the current Hindutva wave is the latest phase of Brahminism, a conspiracy to strengthen the caste system and further strengthen Brahminical hegemony. Understandably, then, Rawat says, the free access that the dargahs provide to people of all castes, Dalits included, and the egalitarian message of the Sufis, exercise, as they have historically, a special appeal for the oppressed castes, many of whom continue to visit AyodhyaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s dargahs in large numbers.
Rawat provides other such instances of cross-community interaction to press his point that the Hindutva claim of Ayodhya being a purely Hindu town is erroneous and to counter the Hindutva agenda of pitting Hindus against Muslims. Thus, he says, in Ayodhya Muslim artisans sell flowers to people visiting temples and manufacture wooden sandals that are used by some pilgrims and sadhus. In 1992, when the Babri Masjid was torn down by Hindutva terrorists, and more than 250 houses and shops belonging to local Muslims were burnt down and 13 local Muslims were done to death, some Hindus and Dalits saved Muslim lives. In AyodhyaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s twin town of Faizabad, the Lal Begis, a sweeper community, continue to maintain a liminal identity, not quite Muslim but not quite Hindu either, but somewhat in between. And, as in Ayodhya, large numbers of Hindus flock to the Sufi shrines in Faizabad despite the relentless anti-Muslim rhetoric of the Hindutva brigade.
Rawat links this to AyodhyaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s rich cultural past, which witnessed a remarkable cultural synthesis under the Muslim Nawabs of Awadh. Several temples in the town, he writes, are built on land granted by the Nawabs, under whose reign there is no record of any major Hindu-Muslim conflict. Rawat refers to Tulsidas, author of the Hindi Ramcharitramanas, who wrote his work while living in a mosque in Ayodhya, probably because he was not allowed by the Brahmins to live in a temple because he dared to defy the strict rule of not sharing their religious scriptures with the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“lowÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ castes. Closer to our times, Rawat says, other charismatic figures in and around Ayodhya played a key role in the struggle against British imperialism and ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“upperÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ caste hegemony, bringing together people of diverse faiths. These included Baba Ramdas, Acharya Narendradev, Ram Manohar Lohia and Ashfaqullah Khan.
In the struggle for social justice and against Hindutva fascism, the little-known aspects of history and the invisibilised voices such as those that Rawat has recorded urgently need to be highlighted. HindutvaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s mythical history must be countered with the histories of these dissenting voices and traditions that defy power and authority and articulate a humanitarian tradition that goes beyond narrowly inscribed boundaries of caste and religion.
Book Name: Hazrat Ameer-e-Shariat
Author: Maulana Ataur Rahman Qasmi (Ed.)
Year : 2004
Publisher: Farid Book Depot, New Delhi
Reviewer : Mohammed Ayub Khan
Maulana Minnatullah Rehmani was arguably the tallest leader of the Muslim Personal Law movement in India. He was instrumental in forging a coalition of diverse Muslim groups and sects in combating the planned imposition of Uniform Civil Code and other encroachments on personal laws. Hazrat Ameer-e-ShariatÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?Naqoosh wa Tasrat is a compilation of seventy four articles on the Maulana Rehmani written by those who knew him well and edited by the prolific author and historian Maulana Ataur Rahman Qasmi of Delhi Ki Tareekhi Masajid fame.
Maulana Minatullah inherited his scholarship, piety, patriotism and sincerity from his illustrious father Maulana Muhammad Ali Mungeri. He completed his education at Hyderabad (the book doesnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t mention the name of the institution), Nadwatul Ulema and Darul Uloom Deoband. While still a student he took part in protests against the British and for a time was jailed in Saharanpur. Matching his activism with literary and historical research he penned two books on the ill effects of British colonialism on Indian economy and the educational sector. He took part in active politics and was elected to the Bihar Assembly on the ticket of Maulana Abul Mohasin SajjadÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Muslim Independent Party. As a member of the legislature he spearheaded the movement for the implementation of Urdu in government offices and campaigned for the abolishment of the agricultural tax on Islamic endowments.
He became the Sajjada of Khankha-e-Rehmani in Munger in 1942 and set about reconstructing its facilities which have been damaged in an earthquake. Under his leadership the Khankha-Rehmani became an institution providing all round services to the community including health care, education and vocational training apart from its primary objective of offering spiritual cleansing of the seekers of the path of tassawwuf.
A true nationalist he opposed the two nation theory and dubbed those Indian Muslims who migrated to Pakistan as ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œmafroreen (runaways). This did not deter him from criticizing the excesses of the Congress party and he took them to task whenever he saw an injustice being committed. In the post-partition era he sought consolidation of the Indian Muslims in protecting their faith and identity through institutions and organizations like Imarat-e-Shariat, Mushawarat and the All India Muslim Personal Law Board. In the changed circumstances he counseled self-reliance and advised them to shun the fear of death . Expounding on the mission of the Imarat-e-Shariat he wrote that it is an ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œ institution of Muslims belonging to all schools of thought and tendencies whose aim is to unite Muslims on the basis of Kalima.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â? Despite his strong views the Maulana always accommodated diverse sects within Islam and was widely respected among all groups. It is no wonder that the first edition of this book was released at the hands of renowned Shiah Alim Maulana Kalbe-Jawwad. The Imarat-e-ShariahÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s alternative dispute resolution on Shariah laws has been widely praised for its exemplary services in the timely settling of disputes within the Muslim community.
He fought tooth and nail the forced sterilization policy of Sanjay Gandhi and other intrusions on Shariah laws like the Shah Bano case and the imposition of tax on awqaf.
Maulana Rehmani is most remembered for his fearless articulation on issues of Muslim interest like the Bangladesh war, minority character of Aligarh Muslim University and the Babri Masjid. Shahid Ram Nagri, editor of Naqib, writes that in 1990 Maulana Rehmani met the then Prime Minister Chandrashekhar to present a memorandum on the Babri Masjid dispute. When told about the attempts of extremist forces to fan the flames of communalism, the Prime Minister replied, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIt seems that everyone has drunk water from a well contaminated with Bhang. Everyone seems to have turned insane.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â? At this outburst the Maulana replied that the government is not drunk and that it should carry out its responsibilities . Receiving this curt reply Chandrasekhar calmed down and assured the delegation that Babri Masjid structure will be preserved at all costs.
Another interesting incident relating to the Babri Masjid is narrated by Maulana Abdul Karim Parikh. He writes that Maulana Rehmani had several Jinns in his circle of bayt. Maulana Parikh once wrote him a letter asking him to settle the Babri Masjid dispute once and for all by ordering one of his disciple Jinns to climb over the masjid and give the azan so that the illegal occupiers flee and vacate the place. Instead of giving a direct reply Maulana Rehmani narrated an incident from the life of Maulana Madani who also reportedly had a large following among the Jinns. Maulana Madani served as a teacher in Sylhet for a period of time. There one Bengali alim was also a teacher who had two Jinns as his disciples. When the Alim died the two taught his sons from behind a curtain. When Maulana Madani learned of this he sought a meeting in which he urged them to join the freedom struggle to overthrow the British. The Jinns expressed surprised at this quaint proposition from the Maulana and replied, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œ There will be total chaos if we Jinns begin actively participating in the affairs of the humans. Human beings should themselves continue the struggle without relying on any help from the Jinn.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â?
A man of action Maulana Rehmani was known for his superior organizational skills which were evident in the extensive relief he undertook whenever there were natural and man made disasters. Conscious of the importance of modern education he built regular schools, hospitals and vocational training centers as part of the vast network of the Imarat-e-Shariah. (Recently the United Nations had praised the Imarat for its active participation in the mission to eradicate polio. ) A primary school also operates in the buildings of Imarat-e-Shariat. Once when the school was closed for holidays the Maulana received a notification for a small scholarship for meritorious students who pass an exam. He immediately sent for a bright student who had gone for vacations to his native village which was at a considerable distance. The amount to fetch the student was much more than the total scholarship. When questioned about this the Maulana replied that the amount of the scholarship is meager but it is priceless when it comes to boosting the morale of the young student who may well go on to be an engineer, doctor, professional as a result if it.
The article on the MaulanaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s stand against family planning by Prof.Altaf Ahmed Azmi discusses his views in considerable detail. He considered family planning to be a sign of thanklessness and lack of trust in GodÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s will. Noted critic Shamsur Rahman FaruquiÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s article, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œHazrat Ameer-e-Shariat Ka Safar NamaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â? discussess the literary merits of his 1964 travelogue of Egypt where he was invited by the government. Other noteworthy articles in this collection include those of Dr.A.R.Kidwai, Prof.Nisar Ahmed Farooqui, Prof.Khalique Ahmed Nizami, Khwaja Hasan Sani Nizami, Maulana Akhlaque Hussain Qasmi, and Shahid Siddiqui.
Hazrat Ameer-e-ShariatÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?Naqoosh wa Tasrat offers an insight, through the prism of his contemporaries, into the life of a selfless mass leader who was also an intellectual, a scholar, a jurist and a freedom fighter. It is regrettable that one does not find a leader of the stature of Maulana Rehmani among Indian Muslims today.
Name of the Book: Temple Destruction and Muslim States in Medieval India
Author: Richard M. Eaton,
Publisher: Hope India, Gurgaon (email@example.com)
Reviewed by: Yoginder Sikand
Central to the diverse memories of Hindus and Muslims in India about the history of Hindu-Muslim relations are incidents or claims of the destruction of Hindu temples by Muslim rulers. These memories are a defining element in the construction of contemporary communal identities. Some Muslims see medieval Muslims Sultans who are said to have destroyed temples as valiant heroes who struggled against Brahminism, idolatry and polytheism. For many Hindus, these very kings are the epitome of evil and godlessness.
The theme of the iconoclast Muslim Sultan is routinely put to use for political mobilization by communal forces, as so tragically illustrated in the case of the Babri Masjid controversy, resulting in the deaths of thousands of people. Not content with that, Hindutva forces are on record as declaring that they aim at destroying or capturing some 30,000 mosques and Muslim shrines, which, they claim, were built on the sites of Hindu temples allegedly destroyed by Muslim rulers. Hindutva literature is replete with exhortations to Hindus to avenge the misdeeds, both real and imaginary, of medieval Muslim kings, including destruction of temples. This propaganda and the communal mobilization that it has provoked have resulted in a sharp deterioration of inter-communal relations in recent years.
That some Muslim kings did indeed destroy certain Hindu temples is an undeniable fact, which even most Muslims familiar with medieval history would readily concede. However, as this remarkable book by the noted historian Richard Eaton points out, extreme caution needs to be exercised in accepting the claims of medieval historians as well as in interpreting past events in terms of todayÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s categories. Failure to do this, he says, has resulted in the construction of the image of all Muslims as allegedly fired by an irrepressible hatred of Hindus, a gross distortion of actual history.
The notion of the Muslim Sultan as temple-breaker, Eaton says, derives essentially from history texts written by British colonial administrators, who, in turn, drew upon Persian chronicles by Muslim historians attached to the courts of various Indian Muslim rulers. Eaton argues that British colonial historians were at pains to project the image of Muslim rulers as wholly oppressive and anti-Hindu, in order to present British rule as enlightened and civilized and thereby enlist Hindu support. For this they carefully selected from the earlier Persian chronicles those reports that glorified various Muslim Sultans as destroyers of temples and presented these as proof that Hindus and Muslims could not possibly live peacefully with each other without the presence of the British to rule over them to prevent them from massacring each other. Although some of these reports quoted in British texts were true, many others were simply the figment of the imagination of court chroniclers anxious to present their royal patrons as great champions of Islamic orthodoxy even if in actual fact these rulers were lax Muslims.
Dealing with actual instances of temple-breaking by Muslim rulers, Eaton appeals for a more nuanced approach, arguing that in most cases these occurred not simply or mainly because of religious zeal. Thus, the raids on temples by the eleventh century Mahmud Ghaznavi must be seen as motivated, at least in part, by the desire for loot, since the temples he destroyed were richly endowed with gold and jewels, which he used to finance his plundering activities against other Muslim rulers in Afghanistan, Iran and elsewhere. Beginning in the early thirteenth century, the Delhi SultansÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ policy of selective temple desecration aimed, not as in the earlier Ghaznavid period, to finance distant military operations on the Iranian plateau but to de-legitimise and extirpate defeated Indian ruling houses. The process of Indo-Muslim state building, Eaton says, entailed the sweeping away of all prior political authority in newly conquered territories. When such authority was vested in a ruler whose own legitimacy was associated with a royal temple, typically one that housed idol of ruling dynastyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s state-deity, that temple was normally looted or destroyed or converted into a mosque, which succeeded in ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“detaching the defeated raja from the most prominent manifestation of his former legitimacyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. Temples that were not so identified were normally left untouched. Hence, Eaton writes, it is wrong to explain this phenomenon by appealing to what he calls as an ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“essentialized theology of iconoclasm felt to be intrinsic to IslamÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢.
Royal temple complexes were pre-eminently political institutions, Eaton says. The central icon, housed in a royal templeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s garba griha or ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“womb-chamberÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ and inhabited by the state-deity of the templeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s royal patron, expressed the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“shared sovereignty of king and deityÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. Therefore, Eaton stresses, temple-breaking, especially of temples associated with ruling houses, was essentially a political, rather than simply religious, act. As proof of this thesis he cites instances of the sacking of royal temples of Hindu rulers by rival Hindu kings as early as the sixth century C.E.. In AD 642 CE the Pallava king Narashimhavarman I looted the image of Ganesha from the Chalukyan capital of Vatapi.. In the eighth century, Bengali troops sought revenge on king Lalitaditya by destroying what they thought was the image of Vishnu Vaikuntha, the state deity of Lalitaditya's kingdom in Kashmir. In the early ninth century the Pandyan king Srimara Srivallabha also invaded Sri Lanka and took back to his capital a golden Buddha image that had been installed in the kingdom's Jewel Palace. In the early eleventh century the Chola king Rajendra I furnished his capital with images he had seized from several neighbouring Chalukya, Kalinga and Pala rulers. In the mid-eleventh century the Chola king Rajadhiraja defeated the Chalukyas and plundered Kalyani, taking a large black stone door guardian to his capital in Thanjavur, where it was displayed to his subjects as a trophy of war.
In addition to looting royal temples and carrying off images of state deities, some Hindu kings, like some of their later Muslim counterparts, engaged in the destruction of the royal temples of their political adversaries. In the early tenth century, the Rashtrakuta monarch Indra III not only destroyed the temple of Kalapriya (at Kalpa near the Jamuna River), patronized by the Pratiharas, but, Eaton writes, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“took special delight in recording the factÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢.
This and other such evidence clearly suggests, Eaton argues, that ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“temples had been the natural sites for the contestation of kingly authority well before the coming of Muslim Turks to IndiaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. Hence, the Turkish invaders, in seeking to establish themselves as rulers, followed a pattern that had already been established before their arrival in India. Yet, the iconoclastic zeal of the Muslim rulers of India must not be exaggerated, Eaton says. He claims that based on evidence from epigraphic and literary evidence spanning a period of more than five centuries (1192-1729), ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“one may identify eighty instances of temple desecration whose historicity appears reasonably certainÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, a figure much less than what Hindutva ideologues today claim.
In judging these incidents, extreme caution is necessary, Eaton suggests. These temples were destroyed not by ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“ordinaryÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ Muslims, but, rather, by officials of the state. Further, the timing and location of these incidents is also significant. Most of them occurred, Eaton says, on ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“the cutting edge of a moving military frontierÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, in the course of military raids or invasions of neighbouring territories ruled by Hindu kings. Once Muslim rulers had conquered a particular territory and incorporated it into their kingdom typically such incidents were few, if at all. When Muslim rulers grew mainly at the expense of other Muslim ruling houses, temple desecration was rare, which explains, for instance, why there is no firm evidence of the early Mughal rulers Babar and Humayun, whose principal adversaries were Afghans, in engaging in temple desecration, including, strikingly, in Ayodhya. Certain later Mughal and other rulers are said to have engaged in the destruction of royal temples and building mosques on their sites in territories ruled by rebel chieftains. These acts were intended to be punishments for rebellion, and once rebellions were quelled few such incidents took place.
Whatever form they took, Eaton says, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“acts of temple desecration were never directed at the people, but at the enemy king and the image that incarnated and displayed his state-deityÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. Eaton cites in this regard a contemporary description of a 1661 Mughal campaign in Kuch Bihar, northern Bengal, which resulted in the annexation of the region, makes it clear that Mughal authorities were guided by two principal concerns: to destroy the image of the state-deity of the defeated Raja, Bhim Narayana and to prevent Mughal troops from looting or in any way harming the general population of Kuch Bihar. Accordingly, the chief judge of Mughal Bengal, Saiyid Muhammad Sadiq, was directed to issue prohibitory orders that nobody was to touch the property of the people. Sayyid Sadiq, Eaton tells us, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“issued strict prohibitory orders so that nobody had the courage to break the laws or to plunder the property of the inhabitants. The punishment for disobeying the order was that the hands, ears or noses of the plunderers were cutÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. In newly annexed areas formerly ruled by non-Muslims, as in the case of Kuch Bihar, Eaton goes on, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Mughal officers took appropriate measures to secure the support of the common people, who after all created the material wealth upon which the entire imperial edifice restedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢.
The theory that politics, rather than simple religious zeal, lay behind most instances of temple-breaking by Muslim rulers is strengthened by the fact that, as Eaton points out, once Hindu Rajas were defeated by Muslim kings and their territories annexed, pragmatism dictated that temples within the EmperorÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s realm remained unharmed. This was the case even with the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, generally projected as the epitome of Muslim iconoclasm. Eaton quotes an order issued by Aurangzeb to local officials in Benares in 1659 to provide protection to the Brahman temple functionaries there, together with the temples at which they officiated. The order reads:
In these days information has reached our court that several people have, out of spite and rancour, harassed the Hindu residents of Benares and nearby places, including a group of Brahmans who are in charge of ancient temples there. These people want to remove those Brahmans from their charge of temple-keeping, which has caused them considerable distress. Therefore, upon receiving this order, you must see that nobody unlawfully disturbs the Brahmans or other Hindus of that region, so that they might remain in their traditional place and pray for the
continuance of the Empire.
Justifying this order, Auragnzeb asserted, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“According to the Holy Law (shari'at) and the exalted creed, it has been established that ancient temples should not be torn downÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. At the same time, he added that no new temples should be built, a marked departure from the policy of Akbar. However, Eaton says that this order appears to have applied only to Benares because many new temples were built elesewhere in India during Aurangzeb's reign.
Eaton thus seeks to dismiss the notion that various Muslim rulers in India wantonly engaged in destroying Hindu temples, allegedly driven by a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“theology of iconoclasmÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. Such a picture, he insists, cannot, sustained by evidence from original sources from the early thirteenth century onwards. Had instances of temple desecration been driven by a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“theology of iconoclasmÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, he argues, this would have ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“committed Muslims in India to destroying all temples everywhere, including ordinary village temples, as opposed to the highly selective operation that seems actually to have taken placeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. In contrast, EatonÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s meticulous research leads him to believe that ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“the original data associate instances of temple desecration with the annexation of newly conquered territories held by enemy kings whose domains lay on the path of moving military frontiers. Temple desecration also occurred when Hindu patrons of prominent temples committed acts of treason or disloyalty to the Indo-Muslim states they servedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. Otherwise, he notes, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“temples lying within Indo-Muslim sovereign domains, viewed normally as protected state property, were left unmolestedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢.
This slim volume is a path-breaking book, a passionate protest against the horrendous uses to which the notion of the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“theology of iconoclasmÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ has been put by contemporary Hindutva ideologues to justify murder in the name of avenging ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“historical wrongsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. It urgently deserves to be translated into various Indian languages and made readily available at a more affordable price.
Book: The Aligarh Movement and the Making of the Indian Muslim Mind 1857-2002
Author: Tariq Hasan
Publisher: Rupa & Co, 7/16, Ansari Road, Dariyaganj, New Delhi
Price: Rs 500
Introduction: the genesis 1800-1857.
1. Sayyid Ahmad Khan -- The Early Years.
2. The debacle of 1857: quest for a Muslim identity.
3. The Aligarh movement and the birth of the M.A.O. College 1864-1875.
4. The religious views of Sayyid Ahmad Khan.
5. Aligarh, the British Raj and the Forces of Separatism 1877-1887.
6. The parting of ways 1887-1898.
7. The last days of Sir Sayyid and the aftermath 1898-1907.
8. The demand for a Muslim University.
9. Aligarh and Jamia - the Golden Years 1920-1937.
10. The rise of the Muslim league: Sir Ziauddin and his role at the A.M.U.
11. Aligarh and the road to freedom, and partition of the country 1937-1947.
12. Aligarh after independence.
13. Crisis at the campus 1955-2002.
THIS IS a long-awaited book on one of the most enigmatic personalities who helped to shape the idea of India. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, the founder of the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College now known as the Aligarh Muslim University, was what one may call a complete individual ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â? educationist, philanthropist, administrator, leader, and most importantly a self-made man who was, even by today's standards, staunchly secular. It is perhaps ironical that the challenges Sir Syed faced in his lifetime were also in subsequent years, and indeed to this day, faced by the institution he founded.
The university has gone through several twists and turns. There were events that threatened its very existence, sometimes for the lack of funds and at other times because there were people who wanted to see the venerable institution go. Sir Sayyid too faced several challenges. He had to take several tough decisions in life. Some were personal, like his decision to leave his mother behind when he was evacuating the family during the mutiny. At other times, he was simultaneously fighting the British and opponents to his cause. If there was one part of his personality that Sir Sayyid passed on to AMU it was his resilience. The university might have over the years become the happy hunting ground for politicians and vested interests, but it survives and holds its own despite the odds.
The book provides a historically relevant perspective to the story of Sir Sayyid and the AMU, and brings it up to date. The author uses rare archival matter, and but for this book, those documents would have been lost forever. The author's insights into the life and times of Sir Sayyid are perhaps helped by the fact that he is a descendant of Maulvi Samiullah Khan, one of the co-founders of the institution. This is, in every sense, a frank, lucid book about a genius.
Tariq Hasan, is an Aligarh based journalist. He joined the Aligarh Muslim University in 1965. After a brief stint in industry, he entered the field of journalism in 1975. He has worked with The Pioneer (Lucknow), The Patriot (New Delhi), The Times of India (New Delhi) and the Press Trust of India (PT1).
His main sphere of interest lies in Muslim affairs and environment and wildlife issues. He has covered the affairs of AMU for more than two decades. He was president of India's nominee at the AMU court for three years. His family was closely associated with the establishment of the Aligarh Muslim University and the freedom movement. The late Maulvi Samiullah Khan, a co-founder of the AMU and the founder of the Muslim Boarding House of the Allahabad University was the author's mother's great grandfather.
Abdul Majeed Khwaja, the author's grandfather was among the founding fathers of the Jamia Millia Islamia.
Professor David Lelyveld, author of AligarhÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s first generation writes ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œMr. Tariq Hasan is an experienced journalist, who writes well and thoughtfully on matters of urgent importance. His book offers an insiderÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s perspective on how Indian Muslim responded to the pressure of colonialism, nationalism and modernity. I think this book will be an important contribution to enhancing understanding in the general indian community, and beyond, of the debates that have centered around Aligarh and the Aligarh movement, and how Muslims have come to terms with colonialism, nationalism and modernity.
Noted Political scientist Professor Shan Muhammad, former chairman, department of political science, Aligarh Muslim University noted that Mr. Tariq HasanÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s analytical work on the Aligarh Movement has, to a large extent, revealed the trend of Muslim political mind from 19th century to the present time. His research has unearthed some unusual material. He has been quite objective in dealing with some of the most crucial and controversial periods of IndiaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s political history. Such studies will assist the Indian nation to shun narrow doubts about a movement which has contributed equally to the freedom movement of the country.
THE BABRI MASJID QUESTION, 1528-2003 ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â? A Matter of National Honour (2 Volumes)
Editor: A.G. Noorani
Publisher: Tulika Books, 35A/1(Third Floor), Shahpur Jat, New Delhi-110049.
Price: Rs. 750 (Vol. 1), Rs. 550 (Vol.2).
Reviwed by Parvathi Menon
"WHAT IS the significance of December, 6, 1992?" was one of a set of questions that a leading national daily recently posed to a constellation of film stars and ex-beauty queens who joined politics this election season. Amongst the younger set, there was not one who knew the answer, despite the fact that a majority of them had joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Their ignorance of a date and event that marked the ascent to political power of the very party they had joined is not just a measure of their ignorance of politics. It also signifies the slow erasure from public memory in general of the demolition of the Babri Masjid almost 12 years ago by the Sangh Parivar leaders and activists, and the political import of that event.
It would appear that the public outrage that followed this illegal and reprehensible act has dissipated over the years ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â? and not just within the population subset of film stars. Amongst most sections of people whose views constitute public opinion, the rights and wrongs of the Ayodhya issue no longer appear to be as clear as they were. After all, the principal accused in the Babri Masjid demolition cases are in power, with the criminal cases against them stuck in the courts and seemingly going nowhere.
In a situation of systematic obfuscation by the Sangh Parivar of the historical background and goals of the Ayodhya movement, the task of placing the Babri Masjid question on record was one that urgently needed to be done. To A.G. Noorani, the well-known lawyer, historian and political commentator must go the credit for doing this. Noorani has marshalled the most important primary source material on the Babri Masjid question in this edited two-volume publication.
The book comprises an impressive archive of the relevant historical, archaeological, political and legal documents from the 19th Century to the present day on the Ayodhya controversy, an invaluable guide and reference book to the facts of what is arguably one of the foremost political issues of the day. The compilation will in time become an important contribution to Indian historiography as it lays a solid foundation of historical truth and objectivity for future historians to work with.
In his Introduction, Noorani draws the main contours of the two-decade long Ram temple movement. Building from the historical lie on which the Ram temple movement was built, namely that the Mughal Emperor Babar destroyed a temple at the exact birthplace of Lord Rama to build a mosque, he describes the process by which the Masjid was first forcibly converted into a Mandir and subsequently demolished.
He argues that "official support and judicial apathy" through this period allowed the tide of the Ram temple movement to swell, and the BJP to prosper politically. "There has not been a vestige of truth or morality in the entire movement from the very inception to this day" he writes. A charge sheet framed in September 1997 by the Additional Sessions Judge (Ayodhya case) against those accused of conspiracy to demolish the mosque included the names of Mr. L.K. Advani, Mr. Bal Thackeray, Mr. M.M. Joshi and Ms. Uma Bharati. However, the accused have successfully avoided facing the court for the last seven years.
The documents have been arranged chronologically and thematically. The first volume starts, most fittingly, with an excerpt from the will of Babar which he left for his son Humayun. Here lies the thoughtful articulation by a medieval ruler of the kernal of the modern concept of secularism. Bestowing upon his son a country "full of different religions", Babar urges Humayun to "wipe all religious prejudices off the tablet of your heart", "let the subjects of different beliefs harmonise... ", and "not ruin the temples and shrines of any community which is obeying the laws of government."
A major part of the first volume comprises documents that deal with the historicity of the Ramjanmabhoomi legend. Reprinted here are scholarly tracts on the history and archaeology of the Ayodhya region, excerpts from the writings of Hindutva historians on the issue and the rejoinders to them, and the report of the Archaeological Survey of India on the excavations conducted at the disputed site in 2003. It also contains documents ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â? a large number of them drawn from sources that reflect the Sangh Parivar point of view ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â? that provide a compelling picture of the run-up to the mosque's demolition.
The second volume presents documentation ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â? primarily from journalistic writing and other eye-witness accounts ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â? on the destruction itself, its pre-planned course, the foreknowledge that the police had of the event, and the implication of top leaders of the BJP and the RSS in its destruction.
There are many damning quotes by senior BJP leaders which they would perhaps not like to be reminded of today. Mr. Murli Manohar Joshi told a newspaper after the demolition that he was not repentant over what happened.
Mr. L.K. Advani reportedly said he was surprised at the criticism from the then Prime Minister, P. V. Narasimha Rao and the then President, Shankar Dayal Sharma on the demolition. After all it was an old structure built by Babar. Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee gave a press interview soon after the demolition in which he called the Babri Masjid a "symbol of shame" that "has been erased".
While the documents speak for themselves, Noorani's studied conclusion is that the Ayodhya movement's aim is the establishment of a Hindu Rashtra in which the constitutional structure will remain a formality, denuded of the principles of secularism, democracy and the rule of law. It is a compelling argument, fully supported by his meticulously compiled documentary evidence.
Reviewed by Yoginder Sikand
The Tuhfat al-Mujahidin or ‘The Tribute to the Strugglers’ is one of the earliest extant historical treatises about the southern Indian state of Kerala. Its author, the sixteenth century's Shaikh Zainuddin Makhdum, hailed from the renowned Makhdum family from the town of Ponnani in Malabar, in northern Kerala. This family traced its descent to migrants from Yemen, who played a leading role in the spread of Islam in southern India.
Following in the footsteps of many of his forefathers, Shaikh Zainduddin rose to become a leading Islamic scholar. He spent ten years studying in Mecca, where he also joined the Qadri order of Sufism. On his return to his native Malabar, he spent almost four decades teaching at the central mosque in Ponnani, then a major centre for Islamic studies in southern India. He also served as the envoy of the Zamorins, the Hindu rulers of Calicut, to Egypt and Turkey.
Name of the Book: Tuhfat al-Mujahidin (translated from Arabic by S. Muhammad Husayn Nainar)
Author: Shaykh Zainuddin Makhdum
Publisher: Islamic book Trust, Kuala Lumpur (www.ibtbooks.com) & Other Books, Calicut (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I Floor, New Way Building,
Railway Link Road,
Ph: +91 495 2306808
Price not mentioned
The Tuhfat is one of Shaikh Zainuddin’s several works, and is the best known among them. A chronicle of the stiff resistance put up by the Muslims of Malabar against the Portuguese colonialists from 1498, when Vasco Da Gama arrived in Calicut, to 1583, it describes in considerable detail events, many of which that the author had himself witnessed and lived through. It was intended, as Shaikh Zainduddin says, as a means to exhort the Malabar Muslims to launch a struggle or jihad against the Portuguese invaders. The book thus extols the virtues of jihad against oppressors, and, at the same time, also provides fascinating details about the history of Islam in Malabar, the relations between Muslims and Hindus in the region and the customs and practices of both.
Islam’s first contact with India is said to have taken place in Malabar, and Shaikh Zainuddin offers a popularly-held account of this. He writes of how the Hindu ruler of Malabar, impressed with a group of Muslim pilgrims on their way to Ceylon, converted to Islam and accompanied them back to Arabia. There, shortly before he died, he instructed them to return to Malabar. They did as they were told, and the king’s governors welcomed them, allowing them to settle along the coast and establish mosques. Gradually, he writes, the Muslim community began expanding through the missionary efforts of Sufis and traders.
Relations between Muslims and the Hindus of Malabar, Shaikh Zainudin observes, were traditionally cordial. The rulers of Malabar, all Hindus, treated the Muslims with respect, one reason being that the Muslims played a vital role in the region’s economy because of their control of the trading routes linking Malabar to other lands by sea. Hindu rulers even paid salaries of the muezzins and qazis and allowed the Muslims to be governed in personal matters by their own laws. Hindus who converted to Islam were not harassed, and, even if they were of ‘low’ caste origin, were warmly welcomed into the Muslim community. This was probably one reason for the rapid spread of Islam in the region.
Shaikh Zainuddin’s observations about the Hindus of Malabar are remarkable for their sense of balance and sympathy. Of the Hindu rulers, he says, ‘There are some who are powerful and some comparatively weak. But the strong, as a matter of fact, will not attack or occupy the territory of the weak’. (This, Shaikh Zainuddin suggests, might be a result of the conversion of one of their kings, referred to earlier, to Islam ‘and of his supplications to this effect to God’). He also adds, ‘[The] people of Malabar are never treacherous in their wars’. At the same time, he notes with disapproval the deeply-rooted caste prejudices among the Malabari Hindus. So strict is the law of caste, he writes, that any violation of it results in excommunication, forcing the violator to convert to Islam or Christianity or become a yogi or mendicant or to be enslaved by the king. Even such a minor matter as a ‘high’ caste Hindu woman being hit by a stone thrown by a ‘low’ caste man causes her to lose caste. ‘How many such detestable customs!”, Shaikh Zainuddin remarks after recounting some of them. ‘Due to their ignorance and stupidity, they strictly follow these customs, believing that it is their moral responsibility to uphold them’, he adds. ‘It was while they were living in these social conditions that the religion of Islam reached them by the grace of Allah’, he goes on, ‘[a]nd this was the main reason for their being easily attracted to Islam’.
Of all the Hindu rulers of Malabar, the most powerful, and also the most friendly towards the Muslims, were the Zamorins of Calicut, who claimed descent from the king who is said to have converted to Islam and died in Arabia. The Tuhfat describes how the Zamorins turned down bribes offered by the Portuguese to expel the Muslims, and of how they, along with Nair Hindu and Muslim forces, engaged in numerous battles with the Portuguese, who are said to have singled out the Muslims for attack and persecution. Shaikh Zainuddin is at pains to note the contrast between the response of the Hindu Zamorins to the plight of the Malabar Muslims with that of several Muslim Sultans in other parts of India, who were approached for help in expelling the Portuguese. ‘The Muslim-friendly Zamorin’, he writes, ‘has been spending his wealth from the beginning’ for the protection of the Malabari Muslims from the depredations of the Portuguese. On the other hand, he rues, ‘The Muslim Sultans and Amirs—may Allah heighten the glory of the helpful among them—did not take any interest in the Muslims of Malabar’.
The Portuguese conquests, resulting in their wresting the monopoly over the Malabar spice trade from the Muslims, caused a rapid decline in Muslim fortunes, reducing the community to abject poverty. Shaikh Zainduddin describes the reign of terror unleashed on the Malabari Muslims, by the Portuguese, who were fired with a hatred of Islam and Muslims—indiscriminate killings of Muslims, rapes of Muslim women, forcible conversions of Muslims to Christianity, enslaving of hundreds of Muslims, destroying mosques and building churches in their place and setting alight Muslim shops and homes.
In appealing to the Malabari Muslims to launch jihad against the Portuguese, Shaikh Zainuddin makes clear that this struggle is purely a defensive one, directed at only the Portuguese interlopers and not the local Hindus or the Hindu Zamorins, for whom he expresses considerable respect. Nor is it, he suggests, a call to establish Muslim political supremacy and control. Jihad, then, for Shaikh Zaiuddin, was a morally just struggle to restore peace in Malabar and expel foreign occupiers, to return to a period when Muslims and Hindus in the region lived together in harmony.
This treatise is an indispensable source of Malabari history and would be invaluable to those interested in the history of Islam in South Asia. Much that Shaikh Zainuddin says with regard to the legitimacy of struggle against foreign occupation and oppression finds powerful echoes today.