The Identity Crisis of Pakistan

By D. Asghar
Ever since the great country of Pakistan was formed, it has been going through its ideological and identity crisis. Agreed that the vision of the forefathers was to create a separate land for the Muslims of the Sub Continent. The Quaid was unequivocally clear about his vision. He saw a land which was for the Muslims, yet a land which followed the great tradition of Muslims living in harmony with their Non Muslim brethren. A common thread binding them, called the nation of Pakistan.

Regretfully, it is just a dream now. The people of Pakistan are still unclear about who they are and what their destiny should be. Are they the secular and democratic country that Mr M. A. Jinnah envisioned or a Pan Islamic citadel. Many critics argue, that the creation of Pakistan was a conspiracy in itself. To further their argument, they implicate the British and according to their interpretation the British stooge, M. A. Jinnah.

No matter which side of the debate, you are on, you cannot deny that what M. A. Jinnah accomplished, was nothing short of a miracle. Sadly, his philosophy is merely repeated as talking points on certain occasions, such as Pakistan Day, Independence Day or his birth or death anniversaries. We are in complete denial, of his vision. No wonder why we are in such a disastrous situation.

We have divided and subdivided ourselves into so many class and categories ranging from religious, economic, geographic and linguistic lines that it will require a complete overhaul to bring us remotely close to the ideals of Quaid. A lot has been said about the reasons behind our failure. No nation on the face of this earth can survive without a unity of purpose. The diversity in any nation is actually considered its strength. Unfortunately, in our case it has been to our detriment.

All political parties based on religion, ethnic, regional and geographic agendas should be abolished. We need political parties, representing the entire nation. Having their representation, from Karachi to Khyber Pukhtunkhaw, appealing to the masses uniformly on one basis. This should be the way forward. If you look deeper, you can see that any political government that we have had, lacks proper representation in all four provinces. Due to this, the inconvenient alliances are formed with regional and ethnic parties. What transpires because of those unholy alliances is common knowledge. The weak governments tend to make a mockery of their existence and we repeat the same old cycle. Our dreams and hopes die with every single attempt of this nature. In the end, we are "rescued" by our Military as it becomes a "doctrine of necessity", according to their "necessity."

The time to chart our course as a nation is now or never. United we stand or divided we get buried, as we have fallen already. The question is how low are we going to go.

198 Comments

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198 responses to “The Identity Crisis of Pakistan

  1. PMA

    That’s it? Did someone cut off the other half of this article? I was just getting warmed up and bump; the train stopped. Come on. Lets get back on the track, you know the ‘Identity Crisis’ stuff.

  2. Ahmed

    I am constantly amazed by the claim that Jinnah was secular. Yes, he was more liberal than his successors and allowed in theory for freedom of minorities within a decidedly *Islamic* state. But he was *not* secular.

    “Secular” means a separation of “church” and state — the way US, India, etc were conceived. An Islam-inspired state cannot be that. A minority in an Islamic state will always be a second-class citizen, no matter what other freedoms exist.

    In fact, far from deserving admiration, Jinnah pointed Pakistan in a religious direction by forming a “country for Indian muslims”. That original mis-step in the wrong direction has proceeded to its logical conclusion in the intervening 63 years to end up in the radicalized intolerant society of Pakistan today.

    Harsh as this sounds, I think people need to realize that there are no half-measures when it comes to being secular. Either you are or you aren’t. And, those who claim to be partially secular in any manner of form will slowly get radicalized over time.

    Ahmed

  3. @ Ahmed

    i agree with you, but at the same time holding Jinnah up to the standards you advocate is also a bit strange. namely because in 1947, the world was awash with new nations, and political possibilities were a lot wider. 60 years later it seems like having a religion based secular country was a laughable idea, but it wasn’t so obvious then. moreover, israel ran with the exact same idea and made it work (if you can ignore the horror of the occupation when you make that claim, which most of the world seems to)

  4. DAsghar

    @PMA Bhai, BTW PMA stands for Pakistan Medical Association or Pakistan Management Association?🙂

    First and foremost, thank you so much for reading this “amateur” writers rambling. The idea behind the article is to evoke the thought process which brings us back to a singular national identity. Sadly, we are so fragmented based on our divisions. We are either Sunni, Shia, Ahmadi, Agha Khani, Barelvi, Deobandi, Muhajir, Punjabi, Sindhi, Burger (Rich/Affluent), Rural… you get the picture. But to me all of these identities are individual. Our collective progress ceases, because we are not able to see beyond the individual levels. It takes a natural disaster or a cricket match to band us together. To me, that is truly sad. It should be Pakistani first in all cases. The reason why I brought the political parties in the discussion is, they help unite people at grass root levels. Regretfully our political parties have umpteen number of factions within their entities. Their vision is limited, short sighted and gravitates around regional, geographic or ethnic nucleus , when it should be a national one. We often wonder who are we? 63 years and we still call people who were born in Pakistan, “Muhajir?, Urdu Speaking?.” Something somewhere is disconnected.

  5. DAsghar

    @ Ahmed Bhai, Thank you so much for your valuable contribution. I think the idea of bringing Quaid in the article was that he stressed on unity of people, whether they were Parsi, Muslims, Hindus whatever. His vision of Pakistan was quite different from the present day Pakistan. His Pakistan was tolerant, liberal and yet maintained its Islamic identity. Of course, I am no academic like Professor Akbar Ahmed, who has written the article on Quaid, “The Villain of Partition”, which was printed here a few days back. That article really provides the insight on his vision and his character.

    My point is that if we want to see ourselves through a narrow lens, we are going to be buried soon in the deep dungeons of history. It is high time that we stress on a National Identity and go beyond our individual differences based on color, caste, creed, region, language and beliefs.

  6. DAsghar

    @ Karachi Khatmal

    Thank you so much for coming to my rescue on this one. BTW, I am from Karachi as well and endured many Khatmals while enjoying Pakistani flicks in the cinemas. Ah the good old days….If you are around then you must be a tenacious Khatmal who never made it to let’s say Capri, Prince, Nishat etc. (Just kidding Bhai…I hope you have good sense of humor or else I am in trouble)

    KK Bhaiyya you are absolutely correct, at least we can agree that he was a visionary. In order to get to his end, he may have used the “religious card.” But looking at him, anyone can tell that he was no “deeply religious” kind of person. His vision was based on the experiences of the Muslims of Sub Continent. You and I can only speculate on what was brewing back then and why it became imminent to demand for Pakistan. That being said, we are way beyond that and 63 years later we still ask each other, “Aap Kahan sey hain?”

  7. Ahmed

    I understand the world of 1947 was different. I guess what I am suggesting is to jettison the whole idea that Pakistan is an Islamic nation, and start afresh with a clean slate with secular ideals. And, build a national identity on something not based on religion at all.

    BTW, I am also aware that secular nations are always not that in practice. Witness the issues that the US is having with the “ground-zero” mosque. Or, the struggles of India to remain secular with all its minorities. But, either country is better off than us, because the law and ideals that people have in their mind in these countries is largely secular. Even if they know violations to it, and there are many, they know it is a violation and not the law of the land.

    In the US for example, no one can literally stop the building of the Islamic center because that would clearly be in violation of what people understand to be freedom of religion, i.e., people can protest and apply pressure but if it is taken into the courts it will always be turned down.

    My point simply is that condoning a little (religous framework and national identity) will always lead to condemning a lot (religous fanaticism, terror, etc).

    Just my 2 cents to Asghar bhai’s great article.

    best

    Ahmed

  8. ahmed:

    i agree, once more, with your ideas as they stand. yet while i admire them, i think they are impossible. i don’t think we can ever get a ‘fresh’ slate to start from with our identity – we have to work with what we have.

    in many cases, it is difficult to tell whether we pakistanis are living in the past, or in the future.

    the rise of political islam as an actual force in the past few decades means that the idea of secular states will face challenges. moreover, nation states themselves are buckling under the duress of having to accommodate religion or divergent ideologies. witness the expulsion of the Roma in France, or in fact French and European attitudes towards religious minorities. and of course the americans with their ground zero mosque. places like austria, holland, switzerland are all lashing out against religions in a way which compromises their own ideals about tolerance and acceptance. as the onion said, the freedom of speech is being used to deny the freedom of worship.

    not to say that these secular nation states will unravel because of these events, but they have clearly presented powerful existential challenges.

    coming back to pakistan, i think the train for a secular state has long left the station. after all ZAB, riding on a tide of popularity and support, couldn’t get the idea through. i just don’t think its possible any more, and not because of opposition from the establishment alone, but also from a majority of the populace.

    i know that such a situation is responsible for events like the Ahmedi massacre, but its the reality we have to work with.

  9. D Asghar

    Ahmed Bhai and KK Bhai..Many many heartfelt thanks. Your comments are like icing on the cake.🙂 (BTW, I love ice cream cakes).

    So what is our identity…The Arabs..The Mughals..The Nawabs…The Tipu Sultans…The Iqbal and Jinnahs….

    My half cent worth would be echoing what Ahmed Bhai eluded to, start a new leaf. If we keep on dwelling in the past (which we have in all these years) and do not chart for the future, we will be just a relic of the past.

    KK Bhai, I am the train may have left the station and yes the issue us that the drivers of the train are same old hags. When the drivers will be new, the train will reach its intended destination. BTW, by new drivers I certainly did not mean BBZ (the gaddi nasheen). Those people will be the modern Pakistan’s leaders. A truly democratic and secular Pakistan will be a reality. Where we will be simply Pakistanis and nothing else.

  10. Amit Kumar

    I think the concept of nation state is a modern concept. .. Where you have a constitution and everyone has to follow the constitution.

    Religion is and old concept to bring law and order in society. So, i guess if some one try to mix religion and try to create a modern nation state.. there will be issues..

    secular does not mean anti religion, as i have seen from indian context. what happens is that religion becomes a personal matter and state does not have to get into this slippery issue.

    I do not know Israel. Iran is a very homogeneous country. I think in south asia everyone is a minority, so constitution based democracy becomes very necessary. Religion is just one of many identities.

  11. Amit Kumar

    Asghar Bhai. I appreciate your views..i think state should not interfere in people identity perception. If you try to takeaway identity people become very angry. State is a political boundary and should simply say to the people. we respect your all other identities, can you please take one more identity as “Pakistani”.. and this identity is defined by our political boundary and under our constitution (which of course should be non discriminatory).

  12. Nusrat Pasha

    Dear D Asghar:

    May I respectfully draw your attention to the fact that you have stated in your article:

    “…..the vision of the forefathers was to create a separate land for the Muslims of the Sub Continent. The Quaid was unequivocally clear about his vision. He saw a land which was for the Muslims…..”

    I wish to point out that as late as November 1946, which means nine months before independence, Quaid-e Azam clearly spelled out that Pakistan was, quite contrary to your claim, “not” going to be a “land for the Muslims” as you have stated. Permit me to quote the historical words of Quaid-e Azam:

    “….I am “not” fighting for Muslims, believe me, when I demand Pakistan.” [M. A. Jinnah, 14 November 1946]

    Please appreciate the word “not”. It says everything. Evidently, he could perceive that people already had developed misconceptions about his constitutional struggle. He thus introduces a strong interjection “believe me”. In my humble opinion, and respectfully differing with yours, the confusion and delusion that came to exist and exists till this day, was primarily because Jinnah was fighting two battles simultaneously, one for the political rights of the Muslim minority living in the Hindu-majority states of British India and the other for greater political autonomy for the Muslim-majority states of British India. The latter of these two, eventually culminated in Pakistan. It is with respect to this struggle that he says, “..I am ‘not’ fighting for Muslims, believe me, when I demand Pakistan.”

    The two nations in the “Two-nation theory” were not the religious denominations of Hindus and Muslims, as perhaps many today would like to believe, but rather the Hindu-majority states and the Muslim-majority states of undivided India.

    One should proceed to evaluate that if, in the words of the Quaid, he was “not” fighting for the Muslims, when he demanded Pakistan, then who or what was he fighting for when he demanded Pakistan? The fight, in reality, was for a secure political and social future for the Muslim-majority states, and “not” as the Quaid said, exclusively for the Muslim inhabitants of these states – but for “all” the inhabitants of these states. Quaid-e Azam clearly said: “…We have many non-Muslims – Hindus, Christians and Parsis – but they are “ALL” Pakistanis. They will enjoy the “SAME” rights and privileges as any other citizens and will play their rightful part in the affairs of Pakistan…” [M.A. Jinnah, February 1948]. Now, as is evident, these words were uttered after independence. So, he was very clear about the identity of Pakistan, both before and after its creation. If many Pakistanis today find themselves unclear, the confusion is theirs, not Jinnah’s.

    As to the question of the “secular state”, what is, in fact, the much debated “secular state”? The secular state is simply one that separates “state” and “religion”. Going by this straightforward definition, Quaid-e Azam did indeed want Pakistan to be a secular state. He said:

    “…You may belong to any religion or caste or creed. That has nothing to do with the business of the State….” [Jinnah, Presidential address to the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, Karachi, 11 August 1947]. The “state” has clearly been segregated by him, from “religion” and “creed”.

    The “identity crisis” is a latter development. Yes, I would agree that this crisis needs to be confronted, and resolved, and may I add that Pakistan needs to re-identify itself the way Quaid-e Azam wanted it.

    Regards
    Nusrat Pasha

  13. YLH

    Ahmed,

    Here is a complete response to your questions and confusion:

    https://pakteahouse.wordpress.com/2010/03/28/jinnah-was-the-most-secular-statesman-produced-by-the-muslim-world/

    However, just to answer a few of your other points: First of all Pakistan is not the only confessional state to come into existence… and second, secularism without exception is necessitated and emerges out of confessional states. John Locke the father of secularism for example was the product of protestant confessionalism in England. Only in a century earlier Catholics and Jews were being burnt alive in England. (Interestingly Jinnah referred to catholic and protestant conflict in his 11th August speech).

    France’s secularism is a direct consequence of the reaction to Napoleon’s concordat. I suggest you also read about the exchange of populations between Turkey and Greece which was entirely on religious lines… multi-cultural states seldom arrive at complete secularism. India is an example of a compact of religious communities christened by a secular constitution.

    How partition happened etc is a long debate. Needless to say conventional wisdom about partition has been firmly rejected in light of new evidence. That Jinnah tried to keep India united till 1946 is also now accepted as a very plausible argument. Read Ayesha Jalal or H M Seervai…and if you are interested in sensationalization of the same valid argument – Jaswant Singh’s Jinnah. However Pakistan’s creation is a non-negotiable fact of history. Live with it. It is not the question of “admiration”.

    Now … the question arises- can Pakistan go the route confessional states of Europe went? Yes. Starting afresh with a secular ideals is a good idea… but no one is going to listen to Ahmed mian you see or even YLH. The only basis for secularism in Pakistan is Jinnah… because he is the only counter-argument to the baseless and historically inaccurate claim that Pakistan was founded in the name of Islam.

    Reasons why the Muslim community needed Pakistan – within or without India- were political and economic… never religious. It created an indigenous bourgeoisie that did not exist prior to the creation of Pakistan – this it did despite repeated failure of its leaders. How Jinnah managed to unite Shias, Sunnis, Ahmadis, Ismailis and other heterodox elements of Indian Islam was also instructive. Had Jinnah been any less secular, he would have never managed this feat. Disowning Jinnah would mean cutting secularists’ only toe-hold inthe state of Pakistan. Without enlisting Jinnah’s help you’ll never even come close to achieving any kind of secularity in Pakistan, though I admit Jinnah alone might not be enough.

    Frankly I don’t know how Pakistan was conceived as decidedly “Islamic” when Jinnah vetoed the idea of a state religion on more than one occasion. In Jinnah’s life time atleast, Pakistan was as secular as India was constitutionally…. by the way neither the US nor India were “conceived” as anything. US became secular not because it said so… but because it enacted the first amendment. If first amendment can make a wholly protestant Christian country a secular state, Jinnah’s 11th August speech does much more. It talks clearly – without exception – of a separation of church and state. (Infact if you read Stephen Cohen’s “Idea of Pakistan”, that author draws the parallel between US, Israel and Pakistan… for rightly or wrongly…. US too was the result of a largely confessional migration. And the idea of the separation of Church and State arises from Rhode Island… which was created as a result of confessional conflict).

    And yet another irony… every theocrat who has contributed to the Islamization of Pakistan was almost without exception to the last man opposed to the creation of Pakistan… and many of them were in the opposing camp of the Indian National Congress.

    Does that tell you something? It tells me that occam’s razor is a bad idea.

  14. AA khalid

    I am getting really tired of this ubiqitous use of the word ”secular”. If you are going to use, use it with some sort of meaning, and use with some elaboration. Are you talking about secularization theory as proposed by social scientists, or simply the separation of church/mosque/temple and state as political scientists do?

    And all this nonsense that the Islamic tradition cannot support any form of mosque and state separation is bewildering. Do some people not read?

    In one of the seminal works of modern Islam, a scholar from Al Azhar no less, in the early 20th century (when modernist, reformists and liberals were going strong), Ali Abdel Raziq wrote in his work “Islam and the Foundations of Governance” (Al-Islam Wa Usul Al-Hukm), that the State had to be separted from religious institutions, and historically speaking the religious clergy worked independently from the political centres of power.

    In other places prominent philosophers Abdullahi An Naim (Islam and the Secular State – Negotiating the Future of Sharia) and Abdelwahab El-Affendi (Who Needs An Islamic State?), have both written detailed cases with support from the Islamic tradition that all this talk of an ”Islamic State” is historically incoherent, theologically nonsense and practically dangerous.

    Also when people speak of an ”Islamic State” more often they are speaking of a ”Shariah State”, and by God anyone is even read a shred of literature concerning Islamic law will know that the political institutions never took it upon themselves to impose one interpretation of Islamic law, or to codify it, or to centralise it. Indeed many pre-modern Muslim empires simultaneously kept a series of laws and a body of jurisprudence in contrast to Sharia known as Qanun. (the same as canon in fact derived from the Greek).

    And something which can be read just now, if you cannot access these works, is the article in the Michigan Law Review:

    ”KEEPING THE STATE OUT: THE SEPARATION OF LAW AND STATE IN CLASSICAL ISLAMIC LAW” (Just Google, and download it in PDF format).

    I will quote in my opinion the most important paragraph in the article:

    ”By codification and state promulgation, the movements that aim to reintroduce Islamic law through the political power of the state end up changing radically the nature of Islamic law, which was traditionally epistemically grounded and contained a variety of equally valid and orthodox viewpoints.”

  15. Ammar

    There can be no revolutionary change as change will gradual and incremental. We need to take serious measures to promote tolerance and harmony in the society. We need to put an end to rampant hate-speech which is creating a dangerous rift between the sects. There are no good or bad Taliban, they are inherently evil and evil must be called evil let’s not divide them on ethnic lines such as Punjabi, Phustoon or else the identity crisis will further deepen.

  16. @ AA Khalid

    this is some enlightening, and reassuring stuff. but islamic theorists and jurists are largely insignificant in the political sphere. political islam, with all its hodge-podge attempts at projecting masculine insecurities through the prism of religion, is a very much stark reality. the question becomes one of opinion, namely can this reality be skipped around. i think you offer a very heartening response in the fact that one doesn’t need to become ‘godless’ (the secular translation being deliberately made as la-deeniat) in order to be secular.

  17. YLH

    “Are you talking about secularization theory as proposed by social scientists, or simply the separation of church/mosque/temple and state as political scientists do?”

    If this is a question addressed to me, I have answered this already.

  18. PMA

    AA khalid (August 25, 2010 at 1:32 pm):

    Dear Khalid Sahab:

    I agree with you that terms like “Liberal” and “Secular” are often used here at PTH ubiquitously and without meanings and elaboration, particularly by the journalists and the commentators. What passes as “Liberal” and “Secular” in Pakistan may not meet the meanings of these two words someplace else, particularly in the Western World, the bastion of the concepts to begin with. Even then, as you have pointed out, “secularization of a society” has different meanings to social scientists than “secular system” to political scientists than “secular laws” to a jurist.

    In my opinion in a democratic society you can not have a top down ‘secular system’ or ‘secular laws’ if the society does not wish to be a secular one. Those who wish to see a Secular Pakistan must first define what do they mean by “Secular” and then work on secularization of Pakistani society within the parameters of their definition. And that is a work of Social Engineers no where to be found in Pakistan. At the moment the initiative is with the Islamists who have defined our society as an Islamic Society and hence The Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The “Secularists” have a long road ahead.

  19. YLH

    Deliberate obfuscation …PMA’s hallmark.

  20. Bin Ismail

    In my humble opinion, a “Secular State” can best be described along the following lines:

    1: The “Secular State” does not at all mean an anti-God, anti-religion state or a Godless or religionless nation.

    2: “Secularism” with respect to statecraft, simply means that the State will not hold the religious affiliation of the Citizen to the advantage or disadvantage of the Citizen.

    3: There will be no “State Religion” in place.

    4: No particular religion or adherents of a particular religion will enjoy state-granted privileges, exclusive to that religion.

    5: Adherents of all religions, without exception will enjoy equal civil rights and have equal civil responsibilities.

    Any country, whatever the religion of its majority, if governed along the above principles, should be categorized as a truly “Secular State”. This is the kind of state Jinnah wanted Pakistan to be.

  21. PMA

    Bin Ismail (August 25, 2010 at 5:56 pm):

    I support all five points as stated by you. Now we need to take these ideas to the everyday man. Any suggestion how to do that.

  22. Tilsim

    @ Bin Ismail
    How did it come about that the state religion was declared as Islam? It was not explicity stated in the objectives resolution.

    The OR has Islam related references in it, starting with the first objective. Would this require convincing Pakistanis to discard the OR, which Zia made into a substantive part of the constitution in 1985?

  23. Tilsim

    @ Amit

    “State is a political boundary and should simply say to the people. we respect your all other identities, can you please take one more identity as “Pakistani”.. and this identity is defined by our political boundary and under our constitution (which of course should be non discriminatory).”

    I agree with you. The idea that we are one nation cannot be forced and as such is impractical. It’s something that needs to be nurtured and developed over time such that this identity supercedes other ones that one may have. It will come about by love, not fear.

  24. Tilsim

    @ D Asghar

    “All political parties based on religion, ethnic, regional and geographic agendas should be abolished. ”

    Whilst I am not a fan of such politics, this sort of approach (abolition/banning) will lead to the feeling of alienation.

    You have to think of ways of innovative ways of building a collective identity that is not focussed on religion, and one which provides social justice to, celebrates the diversity and prevents discrimination against minorities. People need to feel that that this collective national identity is worth their while otherwise separatists will easily exploit a banning of political expression and people will then go their separate ways.

  25. Amit Kumar

    @Tilsim. thanks for appreciating my views.. i do not consider myself an intellectual or subject matter expert. I would like to give an example of India. Tamil Nadu did not accepted Indian constitution till 1962. Even after 1962 they did not accepted Hindi as a national language. It was non other than Indira Gandhi personally went to Tamil Nadu and said that Delhi will never impose any language.

    Two years back i was in Chenaai at a private hospital. All the hospital staff were speaking in Hindi. They understood that i am from North so even if i was trying to speak in English they spoke to me in Hindi. I know it was for customer satisfaction.

    Last year new when a new state assembly of Tamil Naidu was inaugurated, it was build primarily by North Indian laborers. and Chief minister praise the workers and hindi songs were played. He openly said that i do hate hindi. but was against imposing. This was the same man who was the forefront of anti Hindi agitation.

    It was not a victory of Hindi..but its a victory for tolerance and goodwill of human nature. I wanted to share this story from our part of the world, if that can add any value to this debate.

  26. Pingback: The Identity Crisis of Pakistan - BlogOn.pk

  27. Tilsim

    @ Amit Kumar

    Excellent examples.

    In Sindh, during Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s time, he attempted urdu speakers to accept Sindhi as the language of instruction in schools. It led to riots. Today, the PPP and MQM are coalition partners and Sindhis and mohajirs are marrying each other because they are beginning to see their wide interests and hence the identity is morphing.

    East Pakistan was successful in resisting the imposition of Urdu on them.

  28. DAsghar

    Dear Amit Bhai, Nusrat Sahiba (please do not mind me calling you a Sahiba, it is my way of showing respect), YLH Bhai, AA Khalid Bhai, Ammar Bhai, Bin Ismail Bhai, Tilsim Bhai…

    My heartfelt gratitude to all of you for such valuable contribution to this discussion. Even though I am new to PTH, but your warm welcome with so much to think about has made me feel at home. I think we all agree on something, that no matter what our way forward is a state which at least is not discriminatory on the basis of faith and beliefs. Where all are treated equally regardless of their social status, language or color of skin. Where all of us will have one single identity. How we get there is of course a work in progress. But will we get there…I have hopes…The change begins on a smaller scale and I see it..It will happen…Thanks again.🙂

  29. Amit Kumar

    @Nusrat Pasha,
    I loved your passion and admiration for The Quaid. What Quaid wanted was welfare for the people of Pakistan, and how to achieve that should be of prime importance. I think the opposite side of the debate also have some strong arguments.

    We in india also have our Father of nation. Gandhiji.. the economic policy he suggested would have been more disastrous than Nehruvian socialism.

    My point is that people should evolve a consensus based on common good and human values, which may change from time to time. There are different layers of history in this subcontinent that have resulted different identities. So, you should not strip them with any of their identity just because you created a political boundary some 63 years ago. What you can do is add one more layer of history and give them one more identity.

  30. Bin Ismail

    @ PMA (August 25, 2010 at 6:52 pm)

    “…..I support all five points as stated by you. Now we need to take these ideas to the everyday man. Any suggestion how to do that…..”

    Thank you for the support. I believe PTH is already doing a commendable job in this respect. Healthy and meaningful discussions here, ignite serious thinking as well as dissipation of ideas. The media too, can play a very positive role in conveying ideas, but only if they can muster enough courage to face the mullah and enough integrity to sell what is right, instead of selling whatever sells.

    @ Tilsim (August 25, 2010 at 7:06 pm)

    “…..Would this require convincing Pakistanis to discard the OR, which Zia made into a substantive part of the constitution in 1985?…..”

    The Objectives Resolution opened the back-door for influences of the clergy to creep in. Liaquat Ali Khan, perhaps grossly underestimated the potentials, ambitions and resilience of the clergy. By the time, the 1956 Constitution was ready for adoption, the clergy had already made headway. The ’56 Constitution adopted the prefix of “Islamic Republic” before the name of the country and the OR as the Constitution’s Preamble.

    I have always felt that in the presence of the 11th August ’47 address of Quaid-e Azam, no other preamble was needed. The text of this address makes the perfect preamble for Pakistan’s Constitution. It is rich in wisdom, laconic, lucid, powerfully worded, eloquent, statesmanly and precise.

  31. Nusrat Pasha

    @ D. Asghar (August 25, 2010 at 11:27 pm)

    “…..Nusrat Sahiba (please do not mind me calling you a Sahiba, it is my way of showing respect)…..”

    Thank you indeed for the courtesy. May I with even greater respect, inform you that your addressee here happens to be a “Sahib”. I am fully cognizant of the fact that Nusrat is not a very gender-specific name, so no fault of yours. Nomenclature aside, I agree that we as a nation have to begin with ridding ourselves of the curse of religious, ethnic and racial discrimination.

    @ Amit Kumar (August 25, 2010 at 11:53 pm)

    Thank you. I agree that “people should evolve a consensus based on common good and human values”. This is precisely why I so strongly advocate the principles of Quaid-e Azam – because they are based on common good and human values – values that are evergreen.

  32. Tilsim

    @ Bin Ismail

    Thanks for the explanation. Do you feel that the Objectives Resolution needs to be changed or abandoned altogether? Which parts are problematic?

  33. Bin Ismail

    @ Tilsim

    I feel that the Objectives Resolution needs to be abandoned altogether.

  34. DAsghar

    Nusrat Bhai…I am very sorry, hear ye hear ye..so far no Sahiba on the thread…🙂.

    Nusrat Bhai,

    I second your comments and look forward to our journey ahead. I am hopeful that we wil get there. Slowly but surely we will.

  35. Tilsim

    @ Bin Ismail

    “I feel that the Objectives Resolution needs to be abandoned altogether.”

    How would one go about this?

    Will that not raise a massive cry that Islam is threatened or the idea of Pakistan is threatened making it impossible to achieve for a democratically elected party, even if they wished it.

    A much more modest proposal during the Musharraf government to take rape law away from the shariat court’s jurisdiction and put it in the criminal court’s jurisdiction did not make it through parliament.

    I am not clear how your worthy goals are actually achieved democratically.

  36. no-communal

    I actually, surprisingly, agree with Raju Brother. Cry for secularism among a tiny minority of English speaking Pakistanis is too little, too late. The odds are overwhelmingly against it. Islam itself is too strong a force in the other direction. A look at the recent Pew poll clarifies any doubt. While secularism is certainly a worthy goal in itself, it cannot take root in thin air. Average muslim Pakistanis have to understand it, and they do not.

    A more realistic goal is Akbar replacing Mahmud and Ghauri, Dara Shikoh replacing Aurangzeb, islam of the sub continent relacing Sunni Wahabism. And, for this, the primary requirement is peace with India. In fact, it is this one confrontation which has ruined all of Pakistani fabric. Too much stress on Arabia islam, pandering to religious extremist groups, Taliban in the name of strategic depth, all have flowed from this one problem. A look at Pakistani text books, even in government scools, immediately clarifies where the real problem is. So that is what needs to be taken care of. secularism is too insurmountable a task at present.

    An islamic state at peace with itself and its neighbor is achievable. That’s where most of the energies should go. After all, North Korea doesn’t have problem with religion. But it is still poor, confrontational, and isolated. Bolivia, on the other hand, is thriving, despite all its grievances.

  37. PMA

    Thank you Raju Babu. We are doing just what you have suggested. We a hybrid nation born as a result of the Muslim rule. A bit of this, a bit of that. Most of our culture developed during the Turkic-Persian period. Our Shalwar-Kameez, Nan-Kabab, Music, Language, Onion Domes all go back to that period. But we are not stationary. Along the way we been also influenced by the one century of British rule and most recently by the West. We have traded our British Indian Muslim identity with a brand new Pakistani identity. We are taking elements from our collective heritage and are developing a culture of our own. A Pakistani culture that is neither exclusively Turkic, nor English, nor Persian, nor Arabic, nor Hindustani. We are a new nation only sixty three years old. Bear with us. In due time we will be as good as you are.

  38. Gorki

    ‘We are a new nation only sixty three years old. Bear with us. In due time we will be as good as you are…’

    Dear PMA Sahib:

    Good post; especially the above lines.
    I think you should write more and elaborate on this concept.
    I find it much more realistic than the Indus man….

    Regards.

  39. Amit Kumar

    Raju Brother and no-communal,
    Thanks very much for your insight about our very important neighboring country. I am a M.J. Akbar fan and and now found few more intelligent guys like you on this forum.

  40. Raju Brother

    There is here a sleight of hand in genealogy claiming descent from Turks and Persians.

    Anybody who has some Arab blood can claim descent from the Prophet. That is no big deal. In some way or the other one’s parents could have some distant relative related to him, applied reflexively.

    When one puts a few drops of nimboo to water (plus sugar but unimportant), one can call it nimboo-pani. And whenever one takes a sip, one would taste nimboo in it as well. But that doesn’t change the fact, that the biggest portion of the drink is still water – H2O.

    The penchant in Pakistan to call oneself nimboo but no pani has led to this warped thinking that the whole glass is just nimboo.

    Nimboo may provide some taste, but water gives life, and should not be ignored.

    The gene pool is deliberately being measured qualitatively and not quantitatively, which is skewing the world-view of the people.

  41. Gorki

    Dear Raju Brother:

    ‘Most of our culture developed during the Turkic-Persian period’

    PMA made a statement and backed it up with examples. The statement is factually correct.
    Even in East Punjab the dominant artifacts of culture visible today; be it language or art, folklore or poetry, even the dominant non Islamic religion; is a legacy of the last half millenia and heavily influenced by the Mughal and the Afghan periods.
    Of course there are layers of culture from before and after, but not in equal proportions. The Buddhist era is all but extinct; for example.

    PMA never mentioned any genetics or geneology.

    Culture and genetics are two different things and are not interchangeable.

    You mentioned European experience in another context. Good; since you are familar with the European history of the last century, then you must also be aware that even a cultural identity is a touchy topic and not synonymous with nationhood. Neither can it be imposed upon by out siders.

    Leave it to the Pakistanis to decide how they define themselves culturally.

    Besides, I thought of all the people you were the one who said you didn’t care what happened inside Pakistan!

    I think the last two posts were uncalled for; and took away a little sheen from the post before….

    Regards.

  42. Gorki

    “I don’t know how Pakistanis feel about this, but the first Battle of Muslim Ideology between Islamic Extremism and Muslim Liberalism was fought between Aurangzeb and Dara Shikoh, the sons of Shah Jahan, the Mughal Emperor!”

    Interesting spin.

    And till now everyone, including the contestants themselves believed it what was strictly a dynastic war of succession!!
    When did ideology sneak in?

    Careful now Raju Bhai; Vajra’s BP is already running high and it it liberties with history such as the above that makes him want to burst a blood vessel or two.😉
    Be gentle; and subtle😉

    Its your (and perhaps mine too) credibility on the line…

    Regards.

  43. PMA

    Raju Babu: You are confusing culture and genetics. Genetics is all about Y & X chromosomes. Your “nimboo-pani” theory does not hold. Chromosomes travel from parents to the offsprings according to genders. If you don’t know, then ask the good Dr. Gorki.

    Culture on the other hand is a very different thing. It changes with time and is heavily influenced by internal as well as external factors. The Indus culture of six thousand years ago, or even one thousand years ago, or even three hundred years ago, with time has metamorphosed into a new culture. And in one thousand years from now what it would be; that is any body’s guess. Pakistani as someone has called is the modern day Indus Man. He knows who he is. There is no identity crisis here except in the minds of few.

  44. Tilsim

    @ RB

    There is now a service supported by the wife of google’s founder called 23andme based in California which claim to be able to tell you which geography your genes came from through DNA testing. You never know, you may have some Turk and Arab in you too!

  45. Tilsim

    @RB

    “Mughlai Identity”

    Very novel. Sounds fattening and full of excess cholesterol and other bad stuff but still very delicious.

  46. Gorki

    Modern genetics is a fascinating subject and itersects neatly with human history and migration patterns.

    PMA Sahib is right.
    And unlike other chromosomes, the Y exchanges little DNA with its partner, the X chromosome, when the sperm’s DNA joins with the eggs. As a result, the Y chromosome retains a largely undisturbed record of mutations.

    About 1 in 12 men in Asia–and therefore 1 in 200 men worldwide–carry a form of the Y chromosome that originated in Mongolia nearly 1,000 years ago. This is attributed to the result of a certain Mongol named Temujin and his military success. Researchers suggest that he himself had this particular version of the Y chromosome!

    Go figure your own odds.😉

    Regards.

  47. PMA

    Gorki (August 26, 2010 at 10:48 pm):

    Let me add something to Dara Shikoh & Aurangzeb discussion. The official policy change did not take place with Aurangzeb as commonly believed in India. The policy to include Hindu nobles particularly Rajputs was initiated by Akbar not for religious but for political reasons. He married himself and then his son Salim into Hindu families as a political decision. A smart move at the time. The result was a large Hindu presence in the palace as well as in the court. In the second half of Jahangir’s rein, the Muslim Turkic-Persian camp led by Noor Jahan felt threatened and sought an other policy change. A large Persian contingent was imported to increase their own numbers and influence. Most Pakistani Muslim families of Persian background are from that period. The palace made sure that Khurram and other princes do not take a Hindu girl as their first wife. A Hindu purge from palace took place. Hindu group on its part tried to come back by backing Dara Shikoh. The effort was crushed by the Muslim camp led by Aurangzeb.

  48. @Gorki [August 26, 2010 at 10:48 pm]

    I wish you wouldn’t lead me into an ambush, park the car and pull up the hand-brake, and then get down and stroll away, leaving me strapped up inside.

    Regrettably, Aurangzeb projected his struggle with his much more appealing but arguably less militarily competent brother as a struggle against apostasy. Dara Shikoh was finally condemned, after his betrayal and capture, by an assembly of nobility and clergymen (the Mullahs crept in everywhere, even then), on charges of apostasy, and assassinated in secrecy.

    So your friend the j***r isn’t wrong; he’s just made a hysterical newspaper headline out of a political stand. I was about to write cynical political stand, but from all accounts, it was not entirely cynical on Aurangzeb’s part. He genuinely believed that Dara Shikoh had gone out of bounds; one reason was his encouragement of the Sikhs, another was his patronage of Sufis, such as Mian Mir, third was his commissioning of many of the Upanishads from Sanskrit to Persian. If you look at it from a fundamentalist point of view, these were deviations from orthodoxy.

    Don’t do this again, Gorki.

  49. no-communal

    @ Gorki,

    “I don’t know how Pakistanis feel about this, but the first Battle of Muslim Ideology between Islamic Extremism and Muslim Liberalism was fought between Aurangzeb and Dara Shikoh, the sons of Shah Jahan, the Mughal Emperor!”

    Interesting spin.

    And till now everyone, including the contestants themselves believed it what was strictly a dynastic war of succession!!
    When did ideology sneak in?

    Careful now Raju Bhai; Vajra’s BP is already running high and it it liberties with history such as the above that makes him want to burst a blood vessel or two. “”

    What Raju Brother is implying about Dara is actually true. Dara was widely popular among the common men, was a patron of music, a painter of professional calibre, translated the Upanishadas into Persian, and was a Sufi himself. All of this sharply contrasted with Aurangzeb. Though the battle between the two was a dynastic one (in which Shah Jahan and the common men of Delhi actually favored Dara), Aurangzeb had the clergy declare him an apostate and had him assassinated.

  50. @Gorki

    And PMA is spot on. Irfan Habib and in a different flavour Jadunath Sarkar had much to say about the incidents he describes. The coup had taken place long before. Dara Shikoh made the terrible political mistake of going with his inclinations rather than with his interests.

  51. Bin Ismail

    @ Tilsim (August 26, 2010 at 2:35 pm)

    “…..I am not clear how your worthy goals are actually achieved democratically…..”

    Neither am I. What I am clear about is the fact that Pakistan today stands at a critical juncture, with little luxury of procrastination. Lukewarm commitments to secularization of statecraft may not be sufficient to ward off the real existential threat – militant religious fanaticism. People have to be told over and over again that the real threat to Islam is from its politicization, just as the real threat to Pakistan is from its theocratization. God save Pakistan.

  52. no-communal

    @Vajra

    “So your friend the j***r isn’t wrong; he’s just made a hysterical newspaper headline out of a political stand. I was about to write cynical political stand, but from all accounts, it was not entirely cynical on Aurangzeb’s part. ”

    With due respect, what is up with this rationalization when it is muslim orthodoxy and fundamentalism, but outright detest when it is of the other kind? Are we talking about the same guy who reintroduced Jizya, a strict Sharia, arrested musicians, and destroyed many many temples (sounds familiar)? Many muslims themselves believe the history of the subcontinent could have been different if Dara won that battle, thus keeping the hindu muslim unity largely intact, as was the norm of the Mughal period before Aurangzeb. This could have prevented the eventual capitulation to the Europeans.

  53. Gorki

    I wish you wouldn’t lead me into an ambush, park the car and pull up the hand-brake, and then get down and stroll away, leaving me strapped up inside……
    Don’t do this again, Gorki….

    Dear Vajra,

    I did nothing of this sort; I merely got out of the car to catch a breath of fresh air and survey the competitition; there isn’t much.

    You just loosen your tie a bit, adjust the passenger seat to your likeing, put on some soft music.
    My next few hours are busy; I will get back later on this topic; and just watch the show then..😉

    Regards

  54. PMA

    Vajra (August 26, 2010 at 11:38 pm):

    We need to study two very important royal imperial moves and the reasons behind them. First, Akbar’s move of royal court from Agra in 1572 and then to Lahore in 1584. And second, Shah Jahan’s move in 1638 from Lahore to Delhi.

    Akbar was moving away from Afghans of North India and wanted to maintain a greater check on the Afghan threat from the west with the help of Hindu Rajputs of the Greater Indus Valley. Shah Jahan was moving away from the same Rajputs of the Greater Indus Valley who had become too powerful for his royal comfort. Aurangzeb on his part was not going to let them in on the coat-tail of Dara Shikoh.

    Aurangzeb’s court was full of Turkic-Persian camp that itself split into Turkic (Sunni) camp and Persian (Shia) camp upon his death. While most of the Rajputs particularly those who by that time had become Muslims remained loyal to the Mughal court, the Afghans, Sikhs and then Marhattas did the Mughals in. Today even though the political landscape of the area has changed from the Mughal period, the political dynamics of Afghanistan, Pakistan and North India remain the same. Today Kabul, Islamabad, New Delhi are still fighting the old battles.

  55. Amit Kumar

    PMA brother..
    what ever identity pakistan takes fine by me.. as long as its not anti – india..
    Let leave and Let others live in peace..

  56. no-communal

    “Aurangzeb’s court was full of Turkic-Persian camp that itself split into Turkic (Sunni) camp and Persian (Shia) camp upon his death. While most of the Rajputs particularly those who by that time had become Muslims remained loyal to the Mughal court, the Afghans, Sikhs and then Marhattas did the Mughals in.”

    Precisely. And this was because of Aurangzeb’s introduction of ultra-strict Sunni islam in government, which was quite unfamiliar in the Mughal court. The alliances that Akbar made, even Shia-Sunni unity, which by and large persisted after him, were irreparably damaged during Aurangzeb’s rule.

    “Today even though the political landscape of the area has changed from the Mughal period, the political dynamics of Afghanistan, Pakistan and North India remain the same. Today Kabul, Islamabad, New Delhi are still fighting the old battles.”

    You are making a slight mistake here. The dynamics in Pakistan has remained the same. Only it’s now fights between different islamic groups themselves, who each interprets islam differently. Yes, there is a spillover effect on India, if you consider the Sunni Jamaat insurgency in Kashmir, but it’s because of unfortunate continuance with Aurangzeb and not Akbar or Dara Shikoh.

    By the way, Akbar moved his court to Agra because of Salim Chishti. Opinions vary as to why he moved it to Lahore. But he later moved it back to Agra and ruled from there the last six years of his reign.

  57. no-communal

    It’s kind of ironic that Aurangzeb, who was near and dear in spirit to Jamaat-e-Islami, a body which actually opposed partition of India, was taken up over Dara Shikoh by Jinnah’s Pakistan.

  58. Bade Miya

    PMA,
    If I may say so without being too disrespectful, I am not sure about your credentials as a poet, but your history is a smorgasbord of unadulterated nonsense. Your history is imagined as compared to what it is stated in chronicles and in facts and figures. No wonder, Pakistan is in such a mire, if the so-called “intellectual” elite peddle such garbage. I am totally disgusted.

  59. Gorki

    “but your history is a smorgasbord of unadulterated nonsense….is imagined as compared to what it is stated in chronicles and in facts and figures……”

    Oh Boy, BM, no need to hold back, let us know how you really feel…..;-)

    Just kidding.

    Actually I completely share your views that PMA Sahib is trying to point out patterns where none exist.

    First of all. Akbar’s moves are not a mystery. The gentle bollywood Mughal-e-Azam persona notwithstanding he lived in rough and wild times and in those times he remained a monarch only by constantly exercising raw authority.
    His rule was marked by almost non stop cycle of conquests and rebellions (144 incidents in all by one account).

    The emperor moved when and where he was needed. In 1580 there were revolts in Bengal and Bihar and rebels declared loyalty to Akbar’s younger brother Hakim then in the West. Akbar sent Todar Mal and Aziz Khoka to suppress the rebels and marched West to face Hakim in 1581 and pushed him deep into Afghanistan.
    When Hakim repented he went back to Fatehpur Sikri.
    In 1583 he suppressed a revolt in Gujarat and in 1584-85 moved into Punjab again to put out fires on the western frontier (which he did easily and then to annex the unconquered areas of Kashmir, Baluchistan and Sind.
    By the time he was done with them he was an older man, he returned back home to Agra.

    Interestingly his toughest campaign on the Afghan frontier was against Bayazid, a self proclaimed prophet of a pantheistic faith synthesized out of Hinduism and Islam; the Raushanais who spread much mayhem before they were suppressed.

    The point is that Akbar’s Western campaign, like all his other campaigns were not Rajputs versus the Afghans or his new faith versus that of the faithful; it was good old fashioned sport of an energetic, full blooded emperor showing everyone; within and without his realm, who the real boss was.

    Regards.

  60. Bade Miya

    NSA,
    I must say, looks like this guy was Dastagir’s ancestor or something. Good heavens! Mercifully, we are not fighting such battles now.

    Gorki,
    Excellent post with perfect details. I was so irritated by PMA’s posts, which were wrong on so many fronts that I didn’t know where to start. I don’t know how people have got this idea in their head that the battle of succession was somehow an ideological battle. It’s just so far from truth. All those rajas in petticoats cared about was the winning horse.
    But there is another subtle point I want to make about PMA’s ingenious contortion of History. If you notice, he always comes up with the usual bania, lala nonsense, never about Rajputs, etc. In this post, however, he has suggested that the Rajputs who were loyal to Auranzeb where Muslim Rajputs, another gross distortion. If we are to break down the caste structure of the Hindu nobles, Birbal belonged to the much reviled lala caste and was not mean fighter. Hemu, who lost to Akbar, belonged to Vaishnav caste, if I remember correctly. Even late in Aurangzeb’s reign, his most trusted and accomplished general and diplomat was a Hindu, Raja Man Singh, who was picked to lead a campaign against Shivaji. The only blot on Akbar’s campaign is his massacre of the garrison of Chittor after it was subdued. And who were chief generals in Akbar’s camp? They were also Hindus. So, it would be nice if PMA stops evaluating History like we do mathematics sometimes, work backwards from the solution.

  61. Gorki

    ‘The result was a large Hindu presence in the palace as well as in the court. In the second half of Jahangir’s rein, the Muslim Turkic-Persian camp led by Noor Jahan felt threatened and sought an other policy change. A large Persian contingent was imported to increase their own numbers and influence…’

    We have covered this ground once before. There was not much of a Hindu lobby in Jahangir’s court. Persian beauty Mehrunissa’s rise and transformation into Nur Jehan, a co reagent in the court led to revolt of the old guard. A prominent among them was a general Mahabat Khan. Nur Jehan being a woman needed men she could trust around her. She imported her family; her father Itimad ud Daula, her brother Asaf Khan, and together with Prince Khurram (future Shah Jehan) who by that time was Asaf Khan’s son in law formed a tight coterie.
    The rebellions that occurred were
    1. from Khusrav another son of Jehangir
    2. Prince Khurram and
    3. later on, by Mahabat Khan.
    After another Prince Sharyar married Nur Jehan’s daughter by her first marriage it eant that the battle lines were later drawn between the brother (Asaf Khan) and sister (Nur Jehan) on the behalf of their respective sons in law (Khurram\Shah Jehan) and Shahryer, which came out in the open after the death of Itimad ud Daula.
    Once Jehangir died, Shah Jehan’s father in law moved with lightening speed on his behalf. Because Shah Jehan was then away in the deep South, he immediately announced the hapless (and friendless) son of Khusrav, Dawar Bakh, as an Emperor (to deny it to Nur Jehan’s champion Shahryer) Shahryer was arrested, blinded and thrown into prison. Shah Jehan, who was by now hurrying to Agra post haste, sent a firman to Asaf Khan (in his own hand according to his chronicler Muhammed Salih Kambu) to once and for all do away with all competition; Dawar Baksh,Shaheryar, his other brother Gahrasp and Daniyal’s two sons ‘in order to ensure peace and the common good’. Notice that there were no Hindus in sight; just a good old fashioned rights of succession common to those times in India and Turkey.

    That Shah Jehan had ascended the throne with a complete and thorough round of fratricide was not lost on his sons. The moment they were born, Dara, Shuja, Aurangjeb, and Murad knew that three of them were marked for death; Takht or Takhta.
    Aurangjeb being the wiliest one was determined not to lose this terrible Russian roulette. Vajra’s first choice of word for his actions was the right one; he would win ‘cynically’ if needed.
    He branded Dara as an apostate but Dara was only fighting as his father’s son suppressing another rebellious Mughal prince and was not fighting him at Samugarh in the name of any Sufi principles etc. (there was no such political constituency)
    Sufism was Dara’s personal preference as was alchohol Shuj’a.
    That is another discussion, I will return to it later when I have time….
    Regards.

  62. Bade Miya

    Gorki,
    Alcohol was Murad’s preference. Shuja’s preference were women. 🙂

  63. @no communal

    I’m answering your earlier mail first: I notice that there’s a subsequent mail, and haven’t seen its contents yet.

    //With due respect, what is up with this rationalization when it is muslim orthodoxy and fundamentalism, but outright detest when it is of the other kind? //

    It is not clear to me what you’re looking at when you write that. Where did you get the rationalisation? I merely pointed out that Aurangzeb actually believed that what he was doing was right. That doesn’t either make it right, or make it an endorsement by me.

    As far as outright detestation goes, it is the privilege initially of the Muslims writing in here to condemn Muslim bigotry, and they do such a good job of it that I’ve never had to add my little tuppence. What more do you need than the scathing condemnation that you can read for yourself, in post after post after post, in thread after thread?

    A Great White Shark also thinks that what he’s doing is right. Pointing it out does not amount to moral approval or to endorsement.

    //Are we talking about the same guy who reintroduced Jizya, a strict Sharia, arrested musicians, and destroyed many many temples (sounds familiar)? //

    Yes, we are talking about the same guy. Against this brand of frothy-mouthed chauvinism, I never speak, as then there is that charlie standing on the sidelines immediately ready to make me out the traitor, or to ascribe some mean motive. But if you are not entirely blind to shades, even in a narrow-minded bigot like Aurangzeb, you should look up his imperial firmans for prominent temples and religious foundations of the Hindus. I do not mention them to avoid controversy, but would be interested to know the results of your investigations.

    This is not to condone his idiotic proceedings which were both morally wrong and politically inept.

    //Many muslims themselves believe the history of the subcontinent could have been different if Dara won that battle, thus keeping the hindu muslim unity largely intact, as was the norm of the Mughal period before Aurangzeb. //

    Volumes can be written on this subject, for and against. It is emphatically not a topic for discussion on PTH, and if you are willing to set up a mailing list under Googlegroups, for instance, and inform us, we can subscribe to it, or ask you to make us members and deal with this subject.

    In brief, there is much evidence both for and against hindu muslim unity, and the evidence seems to indicate that at common citizen level, there was a strong trend towards assimilation, but at political level, these were gambits by the rich and powerful – as always – played to further their own purposes. The Hindus accepted it when it suited them, they rejected it when it didn’t suit them; the Muslims likewise, becoming broadminded and tolerant when tempers were high, and conditions turbulent, becoming narrow and intolerant under more settled conditions.

    So unlike you, and unlike a thousand others waiting with slavering mouths, I am not prepared to conclude one way or the other about hindu muslim unity.

    The second thing you need to notice was that the Mughal Empire was a military empire, not a national empire. It was not a popular empire, where the people of the country would rise in revolt at the imposition of a candidate with doubtful credentials. Compare this with what was happening in Europe around the same time, even among the amazingly rational Dutch, and you will understand what I am saying. The support for Dara Shikoh was among an Imperial Court faction which was waning, and it was among the citizens of Delhi, never a dependable body of people.

    It would made a difference if this support had been backed by military skill. Unfortunately, of the four brothers, none had any skills in campaigning or battle other than Aurangzeb. Dara Shikoh was positively incompetent in the battlefield, and never stirred out of the court for any protracted period of time. Aurangzeb, by contrast, was Shah Jehan’s designated trouble-shooter, and except in the North-West, managed to bail the Empire out of any problems created by his self-indulgent and yet self-important brothers.

    So, given resurgent local insurrections in the area of the former Bahmani Kingdom, later the five Sultanates of the Deccan, given the inevitable rise to power of the distant provinces in the east and south, given the surge by the Persian Empire, cashing in on promises made during the dark days of Humayun’s exile, and given the lack of military skill of Dara Shikoh, what exactly are people referring to, when they say that Dara would have made a better Emperor? Less hated by Hindus and Sikhs, certainly, but better other than that?

    //This could have prevented the eventual capitulation to the Europeans.//

    One word – poppycock.

    Speculations in alternative world histories are a total waste of time.

    The Romans said, Festina lente. I recommend this to you; beans cause excessive gas. For someone with a weakness for alternative scenarios, beans are contraindicated.

  64. no-communal

    “He branded Dara as an apostate but Dara was only fighting as his father’s son suppressing another rebellious Mughal prince and was not fighting him at Samugarh in the name of any Sufi principles etc. (there was no such political constituency”

    That’s right. Fighting “in the name of sufi principles” is itself an oxymoron. The point is, Aurangzeb used religion and clergy to declare Dara an apostate and had him assassinated. Note that Dara did not die in battlefield. He lived to see Delhi, imprisoned. But he was too great a threat because he was popular among the masses. So he was assassinated in the name of religion.

  65. @Bade Miya [August 27, 2010 at 8:26 am]

    That is a simplistic view. There was both the character of a succession struggle and the character of a larger struggle with issues beyond the merely familial about this particular rivalry.

    Certainly these were succession struggles, and these were in the context of the original struggle that the founder, Babar, himself had faced. It was his failure to establish himself in Samarqand, either against fellow Chagtai claimants or against the irresistible Uzbegs and Shaibani Khan that drove him towards Kabul and easier pickings in the South. Humayun faced the same struggles; so did Jahangir, and Shah Jahan himself, as detailed in another post.

    At the same time, the outlook of even Jahangir and Shah Jahan was decreasingly inclusive. To what are we to assign this factor? Racial? It is instructive to look up the parentage of these two princes. Random? When a trend is repeated and accelerated over three reigns, one is reminded of Felix Leiter: the first time, it’s happenstance; the second time, it’s coincidence; the third time, it’s enemy action.

    As I have said, and as everybody has contemptuously cast aside, ideology is not appropriate in discussing religion; let us not use that word in here. But there was a basis other than family, call it what we will.

    On that basis, it was perfectly appropriate for Dara and for Aurangzeb to take their different stands as they did. Dara was the prince in situ, with his father’s favour and control, to some extent, over the capital; he would obviously couch the matter in terms of legitimacy and the recognition of the emperor.

    Aurangzeb had no such advantage; he was clearly the challenger, it was clearly not the emperor’s will to have him succeed. It is logical that he should have chosen to wrap himself in the flag of the faith.

    If he had not been a staunch and even fundamentalist believer, this attitude would have been cynical. As he was a fundamentalist, his private values and his public stand coincided, and it is not fair to say that he was cynical.

  66. no-communal

    @Vajra
    “I merely pointed out that Aurangzeb actually believed that what he was doing was right.”

    Doesn’t everybody?

    “But if you are not entirely blind to shades, even in a narrow-minded bigot like Aurangzeb, you should look up his imperial firmans for prominent temples and religious foundations of the Hindus. I do not mention them to avoid controversy, but would be interested to know the results of your investigations.”

    That’s a chimera.

    The answer to the rest of your long comment is in this quote from the Oxford Islamic Studies Online (http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/opr/t125/e239?_hi=1&_pos=1):

    “His policies of military expansion and Islamic orthodoxy undermined the effects of his father Shah Jahan ‘s diplomacy and his brother Dara Shukoh ‘s attempted reconciliation of the monotheistic religions. His strict construction of Islamic government alienated non-Muslim nobles, stultified Mughal culture, and inspired temple destruction and discriminatory taxation. Constant warfare, failure against the southern Marathas, and his distance from his northern officials weakened Mughal unity. Aurangzeb’s legacy to India was factionalism, sectarianism, decentralization, and vulnerability to European encroachment.”

  67. no-communal

    @Vajra
    “I merely pointed out that Aurangzeb actually believed that what he was doing was right.”

    Doesn’t everybody?

    “But if you are not entirely blind to shades, even in a narrow-minded bigot like Aurangzeb, you should look up his imperial firmans for prominent temples and religious foundations of the Hindus. I do not mention them to avoid controversy, but would be interested to know the results of your investigations.”

    That’s a chimera.

    For the rest of your comment let me just quote from Oxford Islamic Studies Online:

    “His policies of military expansion and Islamic orthodoxy undermined the effects of his father Shah Jahan ‘s diplomacy and his brother Dara Shukoh ‘s attempted reconciliation of the monotheistic religions. His strict construction of Islamic government alienated non-Muslim nobles, stultified Mughal culture, and inspired temple destruction and discriminatory taxation. Constant warfare, failure against the southern Marathas, and his distance from his northern officials weakened Mughal unity. Aurangzeb’s legacy to India was factionalism, sectarianism, decentralization, and vulnerability to European encroachment.”

    We can discuss the details later as you suggested.

  68. Hayyer

    no-communal:

    Dara’s virtues as a scholar, a mystic, a patron of the arts, or as a latitudinarian recommend him to Hindus. Aurangzeb’s stern Islam repels them, but as Vajra said, Dara did not have the stuff emperors are made of. His military adventures were all disasters. He lost Kandahar to the Persians and he mismanaged his own survival strategies in the war of succession. Dara is an appealing character to us but in the iffy scenarios of history there is no knowing the outcomes for India had he become emperor.
    Auranzeb is not an attractive figure to us but he was a commanding emperor. His eventual failure is a comment on his system not on his own abilities.

  69. no-communal

    @Hayyer
    That’s a nice summary, with which I agree.

  70. @no communal

    No.

    Everybody doesn’t. Especially not rulers.

    Some use religion to say one thing, while doing another. Charles II of England; Henry IV of France. I could multiply, not add, further examples, if you wish, going back to ‘stupor mundi’, the last (effective) Hohenstaufen Emperor, who successfully negotiated the return of Jerusalem to Christian hands without a sword being unsheathed, and was excommunicated promptly, because he had not actually fought the infidel.

    What’s a chimaera (or chimera, if you prefer)? Is it that there were no such things, no such acts as I have suggested? Look up “Communal politics – Facts vs. Myths” by Ram Puniyani, a famous Muslim propagandist, as will be evident by his name, for a quick guide. You will be able to trace the historical references and sources from the directions given there.

    In a 50-year reign, in a far-flung imperial dominion, to imply uniformity of policy and practice is breath-taking. Compare it with the recent British lack of success in making their writ run, even with the ‘blessings’ of modern civilisation at their beck and call; if you are feeling passionate and worked up about this whole silly thing, you might like to amuse yourself watching how ineffective a democratic state, with popular will backing it and a standing army, airforce and navy of over one million people, has been in imposing its will.

    In such circumstances, ascribing any value to any ruler’s individual quirks and peccadilloes, even the nastier ones, is unrealistic. As well conclude, from Rangila’s ‘exploits’, that Delhi was a city-wide bordello in his days.

    You mentioned that ‘we can discuss the details later as you suggested.’ I look forward to this, and request you to hurry it up; I agreed to a factual statement that Bade Miya made, and caused a serious misunderstanding, and if you do as suggested, it may help me to explain at length how he was wrong, without distracting readers on this site with no interest in contemporary India.

    @Bade Miya [August 27, 2010 at 8:26 am]

    I had not read PMA’s post [August 27, 2010 at 1:36 am] properly, but had skimmed over it, and returned to it only when puzzled at your rather uncharitable comments. It was on that second reading that a lot of things became clear, and these are being shared with you.

    First, on doing history. One does not impose one’s own vocabulary, grammar and syntax on the original author; that is the surest way to misunderstanding everything that is possible. One seeks to reconstruct the author’s world-view (weltanschauung, to our delegate from Germany), and understand that person’s words in their context, and only thus come to an understanding of what is meant.

    PMA uses code words and a manner of expression which is intimately linked to the ideology (not the theology, but the ideology) of the organic nature of Pakistan. Whether we agree or not – I vehemently disagree – it is incorrect not to parse his statements in that context. That is the only legitimate framework of reference, because that is what he uses.

    That is why any references of his are to be read in the context of the overarching Indus Man framework. No point in saying it doesn’t exist; to him, and many prominent and formidably learned Pakistanis, it does, and nothing those from outside that frame of reference say will affect the situation in their perception.

    Now let us read his note again.

    I am continuing this in a separate post for convenience.

  71. Raju Brother

    FYI,

    Darul Musannefin Shibli Academy, a 95 year old center for Islamic Learning, at Azamgarh (Uttar Pradesh) and Iran Culture House of Iranian Embassy in India have reestablished the “Indo-Iran Society” after some time.

    The Indo-Iran Society confers the “Dara Shikoh Prize” for contribution to peace, harmony and brotherhood every year.

    So “Dara Shikoh” lives on, and the Persians are happy to promote him over Aurangzeb.

    Dara Shikoh was a man of literature, Aurangzeb a man of sword. Dara Shikoh believed in bringing Hindus and Muslims together, in peace. Aurangzeb did untold damage to their relations. What they represent is two schools of thought, two mindsets that is even more relevant today, than it was at the time.

    It is short-sighted to consider their clash merely a dynastic tussle for power. That may have been so from their PoV, but from the PoV of Mughal subjects, it was a clash of philosophies, of mindsets, for it is not as if the subjects were not affected by what happened in the palace.

    Even today, people in the Indian Subcontinent are affected by the policies of their rulers. Did Zia-ul Haq’s outlook not affect the trajectory of Pakistan?

    In the words of Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur in the Daily Times dated 1st August, 2010.

    http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010/08/01/story_1-8-2010_pg3_5

    Of course, there are super-dhimmis who want to prove that they are more loyal than the king, and would give their support to the Aurangzeb brand, the more fundamentalist the better, simply because they jealously want to preserve the exclusive right as a link between the Hindus and the Muslims. The more liberal the Muslims become, the easier it becomes for Hindus to approach them, and the Dhimmi loses his monopoly.

    So the fight between liberalism and bigotry is the same as at the time of Dara Shikoh and Aurangzeb. The identity crisis in Pakistan is still whether to follow Aurangzeb or to follow Dara. With Aurangzeb, Pakistan will find no peace, neither internally nor externally.

  72. Gorki

    “As he was a fundamentalist, his private values and his public stand coincided, and it is not fair to say that he was cynical…”

    The war of succession among sons of Shah Jehan is a stuff of not only the historian’s but also the psychologist’s dreams.

    First the historian view. Aurangzeb was a medieval general prince and was well versed in the art of skullduggery and deceit which was commonplace in those times, both on and off the battlefield. The war allowed him to demonstrate all his skills like an Olympic gymnast. The fact that while he was watching warily, he wasn’t the one to declare war (It was Shuja) meant that he was not suddenly afflicted by a religious illness, neither was he motivated by any desire to ‘rescue the empire\emperor’ as he later claimed.
    He waited, coldly calucaling the odds, honing his strategy while others spent themselves. He never declared himself emperor or a Gazi till he was firmly in control.

    Once he decided to make a move he changed masks as needed. First he came in the role of a dutiful son to rescue the father from evil Dara; then a dutiful brother to Murad who was declared the Emperor on the battlefield after Samugarh. (Aurangzeb insisted on calling Murad Padisha ji, asking Murad to call him Hazrat Ji in return) later when Dara fled Agra he took over Agra fort as a defender of the faith.

    Later yet when he had Murad arrested the later reminded him of the oath Aurangzeb had taken an oath of loyalty to Murad on the Koran and Aurangzeb is said to have replied he was acting for Murad’s own good and for the good of the state! (Murad was later tried and murdered in a judicial murder that would have made General Zia look like an amateur)

    So within a few weeks he had first been a faithful son, but also a loyal and humble brother, then a defender of the faith and then a protector of the faith all the while pursuing his real objective; to stay alive and become the Emperor in the process.

    Once Dara was betrayed, he was publically paraded in chains in Delhi branded an apostate and murdered.

    Here I would like to borrow your words “The second thing you need to notice was that the Mughal Empire was a military empire, not a national empire. It was not a popular empire, where the people of the country would rise in revolt at the imposition of a candidate with doubtful credentials. Compare this with what was happening in Europe…”

    Yes, very unlike Europe, where for example the struggle between Catholic Mary and Protestant Elizabeth was not so much a contest between two royal siblings but between two powerful and balanced constituencies; both inside and outside England.

    Dara had no strong constituency either for or against him. Powerful Hindus; natural constituency for Dara if it was an ideological struggle like Raja Jai Singh (the same who brought Shivaji to the Mughal court) not only sided with Aurangzeb but also prevailed on other kinsmen like Jaswant Singh to change sides.

    The trial was a sham. The Mughal emperor was all powerful; a God. He was the legislature, the judiciary and the clergy all rolled into one as a matter of principal. If Aurangzeb had accused Dara of having a bad breath and thus a health hazard the verdict would still have been the same. Everything went back to business as usual in the Empire after Dara’s murder; it was not as if he had legions of supporters to be purged in thousands as is common after a decisive verdict if it was an ideological struggle….

    Contd.

  73. Gorki

    For a psychologist too the history of the struggle is a treasure trove; epic sibling rivalry on a grand scale. Shah Jehan loved Dara above all his children; and Aurangzeb despised Dara from the day he was born. The more Shah Jehan showered honors and affection on Dara the more resentful and alienated Dara got.
    Dara was the typical older child parents love to point out to the younger siblings as smart, sensitive role models. He patronized fine arts, music and dancing. His paintings compared well to professional artists of his time. He commissioned several exquisite examples of Mughal architecture, notable among them the tomb of his wife Nadira Bano and the tomb of Hazrat Mian Mir, a famous Qadri sufi saint whose follower he was, also in Lahore. His most famous work, Majma-ul-Bahrain (‘The mingling of the two seas’), was devoted to the mystical and pluralistic affinities between sufic and Vedantic speculation. Dara Shikoh championed cultural interaction among people of all faiths. In other words he was a quintessential renaissance man; and a liberal.
    Unfortunately he was a wrong man at the wrong place. Mughal India was very much a medieval military dictatorship held together by force of arms in which practical men; even those with a puritanical zeal like Aurangzeb were admired; and needed.
    To his credit, Aurangzeb among all the great Mughals took his task seriously. If the Empire needed military men; then he was the best. Like his ancestor Babur he was relentless; even as he was in his eighties he was directing battles often from a make shift stretcher.
    Yet he was more; a sensitive man, almost a tragic figure like a Shakespearean character. In a rare unguarded semi confession moment as an old man he wrote that ‘if only the Padishah (his father) had not shown so much partiality to Dara and had reserved a little affection for him (Aurangzeb) things would not have turned out so badly’
    His poignant death bed letter calling himself ‘a rare sinner who did not know where he came from and where he was headed with what retribution was in store for him in the afterlife’ is less a stuff of a Ghazi warrior eager to meet his maker and more of a guilty child who knew how naughty he had been…..

    Regards

  74. no-communal

    @Vajra

    I see your point about Aurangzeb not being cynical.

    I looked up the book “Communal Politics: Facts Versus Myth” by Ram Puniyani. He was a prof. of Biomedical Engg, who took early retirment to work communal harmony. I only saw the book in google books, so not the whole thing. In any case, I haven’t yet found the statement you made. Incidentally, that statement is also in wiki, where it is qualified as “citation needed”. Anytime I see that qualifier, I automatically consider it as someone’s construct, in other words, chimera. But I will look more in Puniyani’s book.

    I did find one other statement in Puniyani’s book:

    “The Church is one of the major organisations spreading modern education in India, and the Sangh Paribar does not like it. That is why they see a Christian conspiracy in awarding the Nobel prize to Amartya Sen who emphasizes the need to spread education”.

    This is listed under Facts, which I found convincing.

  75. Raju Brother

    FYI,

    Darul Musannefin Shibli Academy, a 95 year old center of Islamic Learning, in Azamgarh (Uttar Pradesh) and Iran Culture House of the Iranian Embassy in India have revived the Indo-Iran Society which confers the “Dara-Shikoh Prize” for contribution to peace, harmony and brotherhood.

    So it seems “Dara Shikoh” is alive and kicking, and the Persians are keen to embrace “Dara Shikoh” over Aurangzeb.

    In the words of Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur in Daily Times –
    http : // www . dailytimes . com . pk / default.asp ?page = 2010 / 08 / 01 / story_1-8-2010_pg3_5

    Just remove the spaces!

    For those who are intent on describing the rivalry between Dara Shikoh and Aurangzeb as simply a siblings rivalry and a dynastic tussle for power and interesting only for history lovers, one should remember that that is from a PoV of the palace, but for the subjects, whoever ascends the throne, his outlook, his philosophy, his mindset have a very real effect.

    Let’s not forget that the liberals oft blame Zia-ul Haq for Pakistan’s shift to the right.

    So the struggle between Dara Shikoh and Aurangzeb is perhaps even more valid today than it was then.

  76. @Bade Miya [August 27, 2010 at 8:26 am]

    To continue.

    I am no longer confident of how tags will behave after being bolded out of a thread. So I am providing different, er, differentiators, and placing the original author’s initials somewhere at the start of a citation.

    /PMA/Akbar was moving away from Afghans of North India and wanted to maintain a greater check on the Afghan threat from the west with the help of Hindu Rajputs of the Greater Indus Valley. //

    I don’t see anything wrong in this. You do recall that his father was driven out by the Afghans of North India, and his survival depended entirely on keeping apart the cis-Indus Afghans from the trans-Indus Afghans.

    Unlike Afghanistan, or the eastern slopes of the mountains in KP, there were no Mughal or Turkic principalities to support him. The vast majority were the Afghans, the Muslim Rajputs of Punjab and the Hindu Rajputs of what later became known as Rajasthan, although there were Hindu Rajputs as far east as Bihar and Orissa.

    He picked those who were closest to him, the Hindu Rajputs, and PMA’s code word for their location is ‘the Greater Indus Valley’.

    /PMA/Shah Jahan was moving away from the same Rajputs of the Greater Indus Valley who had become too powerful for his royal comfort. //

    If you count the number of Rajput generals that Akbar consciously and deliberately brought into the higher reaches of his military organisation, and if you recall the status-quoist but increasingly intolerant policies of Jahangir, you will understand why Akbar’s grandson might have got a feeling that they were getting too big for their boots.

    You have in fact done precisely that in response to PMA, counted Rajput and other Hindu officers of Akbar’s court.

    /PMA/Aurangzeb on his part was not going to let them in on the coat-tail of Dara Shikoh.//

    I am not sure what this means, but my interpretation is that Dara Shikoh having assumed leadership of the ‘Hindu’, or rather, the communal harmony faction, Aurangzeb needed to put together his own faction, and this naturally became the Islamic-purist faction.

    Was it so closely and intimately linked to the racial divisions at court?

    It is true that these divisions became very significant under later emperors; Radhey Shyam Chaurasia referred to the dominating role these factions played after Aurangzeb, in his history of India from 1707 (the death of Aurangzeb) to 2000.

    /PMA/Aurangzeb’s court was full of Turkic-Persian camp that itself split into Turkic (Sunni) camp and Persian (Shia) camp upon his death. While most of the Rajputs particularly those who by that time had become Muslims remained loyal to the Mughal court, the Afghans, Sikhs and then Marhattas did the Mughals in. //

    The reference to the Rajputs who had become Muslims appears to be rankling, and there seems to be an impression that there were (a) no Muslim Rajputs; (b) if there were, there were none in power.

    I am not prepared to comment on the relative importance of Rajput Muslims, but they did exist, and they did contribute good generals, even one counted as among the best of his emperor’s generals.

    If you look at the ethnography of West Punjab, particularly the Potohar plateau, you will find the answer. I personally am inclined to think that he is referring to the Janjua and the Kamboh.

    You will notice that this is ethnic; PMA is discussing all Rajputs for the Mughals, and all Afghans, Sikhs and Marathas (rather than Mahrattas) against them. I really don’t see any objection to that, except the Rathore episode.

    |BM|In this post, however, he has suggested that the Rajputs who were loyal to Auranzeb where Muslim Rajputs, another gross distortion.||

    Why so?

    If he means that there was a faction of Muslim Rajputs at the Mughal Court, no.

    If he means that there were Muslim Rajputs, and that they were loyal to Aurangzeb, that is literally true, vide the Janjuas and Kamboh (and many others). So where is the gross distortion? That comes into the picture only from a Hindu-centric point of view, which does not see the existence of any Muslim Rajputs as a reality.

    Which is of course itself a grossly distorted position.

    Exaggeration is more than sufficient; gross distortion is itself a gross distortion.

    |BM|If we are to break down the caste structure of the Hindu nobles, ||

    Why, if you pardon my curiousity, does this come up? The original comment was about Muslim and Hindu Rajputs alike supporting Aurangzeb.

    |BM|Birbal belonged to the much reviled lala caste and was not mean fighter.||

    Surprising only to those who believe that only martial races fight. To such people, the composition of the Bengal Army that won the two Sikh Wars will also come as a surprise.

    |BM|Hemu, who lost to Akbar, belonged to Vaishnav caste, if I remember correctly.||

    The Vaishnav caste? How fascinating! He claimed to be a Kshatriya and a Vaishnav, neither of which excludes the other.

    Apart from Vishisht-Advaita- vadis, which other Vaishnava caste are you referring to?

    |BM|Even late in Aurangzeb’s reign, his most trusted and accomplished general and diplomat was a Hindu, Raja Man Singh, who was picked to lead a campaign against Shivaji. ||

    I can only faintly agree with this overwhelming mass of evidence. My only question is: what is the question to which these are answers?

    |BM|The only blot on Akbar’s campaign is his massacre of the garrison of Chittor after it was subdued. And who were chief generals in Akbar’s camp? They were also Hindus. So, it would be nice if PMA stops evaluating History like we do mathematics sometimes, work backwards from the solution.||

    The point eludes me. PMA was not making a religious point, he was making an ethnic point. He was also making a valuable geographical point based on that.

    /PMA/Today even though the political landscape of the area has changed from the Mughal period, the political dynamics of Afghanistan, Pakistan and North India remain the same. Today Kabul, Islamabad, New Delhi are still fighting the old battles.//

    BM, I am sure that you can see for yourself the fallacies and holes in your arguments against what PMA has written. His statement may be couched in language different from that in normal usage, but it is not clear why it should therefore receive such rough treatment.

    Let me paraphrase his point , once again:

    While Babur depended on his faithful Turkish and Mughal supporters from Kabul to smash through the opposition in India, it became different as the Mughals settled in for the long haul. Akbar realised, at whatever level of ideation, that he could either be a foreign adventurer like Mahmud of Ghazni or Muhammad of Ghor, or he could base himself in the country. As he had no roots of ethnic support in the country, and as he had just seen his dynasty go through trial by fire at the hands of the Afghans, he was forced to fall back on the only other source of military potential, the Rajputs of Rajputana; we must conclude that the Muslim Rajputs were too far under the military domination of the Afghans to be relied upon.

    This resolution to be an Indian ruler also determined his cyclic rotation between Agra, Fatehpur Sikri (his own Lutyens Delhi), Lahore and Agra again. Agra became important whenever the Rajputs, whom he had to dominate in military terms, or Gujarat, the only place that he could get large sums of cash, were prominent in his thinking. Lahore was important when the frontier seemed to be threatening. Agra was also well-poised for his domination of his long-term revenue, the fertile and high-yielding fields of the east.

    As PMA goes on to point out, Shah Jahan (actually, Jahangir before him) drew away from his kinsmen, although 75% Rajput by blood himself. It didn’t work very well; Akbar had already surveyed the geography and realised that either he depended on the Rajputs or on the Afghans, and he knew rather too clearly what would result if he depended on the Afghans. Jehangir and Shah Jahan worsened the situation, and Aurangzeb put the cap on it, but PMA notes that the realignment of power was not wholly religious, but a combination of religion and ethnicity. Ultimately his non-inclusive policies created two more enemies, the Marathas and the Sikhs, and his fighting qualities could not keep back the Afghans and Persians from penetrating deep into the former Mughal boundaries.

    @no communal

    In your post of 3:12 am, you have correctly aligned yourself to the view that Aurangzeb’s unwanted harshness led to his downfall, with the decay of the Pax Mughalica that Akbar had established. However, your later confusion over what PMA was stating was due to the fact that he is relating it to conditions across countries, not within countries.

    @Gorki

    Too much weightage given to testosterone in your account, too little for the instinct for survival, or for the compromises that lie at the foundation of any lasting imperium. Although he might irritate you, do read PMA carefully in future. He is prone to slipping in fascinating insights under the camouflage of his agitprop.

  77. Bade Miya

    Vajra,
    “Aurangzeb had no such advantage; he was clearly the challenger, it was clearly not the emperor’s will to have him succeed. It is logical that he should have chosen to wrap himself in the flag of the faith.”

    I think Gorki has written a rebuttal(based on facts) better than I would have. I whole heartedly agree with the rest of his post.

    I have no problem with interpretations, but at least, let us be correct on facts.

    As for PMA’s musings about Indus man and other such stuff, I can only say that he lets the poet in him take over the history. Such grand narratives are all right, but, then some people here have earlier mentioned as to how we risk ignoring local factors while indulging in such overarching conclusions.

    Need I say, a few weeks ago, you too were guilty of maligning Lakshman Sena’s image, which was probably a casualty of your grand narrative or sympathetic narrative as you called it.

    The problem with such theories is that they reduce complex historical personalities to barbie dolls.

  78. Bade Miya

    Vajra,
    Your post is too long for me to comment on all of it. All I can say is one should just get his/her hands on a good book on medieval India. Bulk of your post deals with conjectures; there is nothing I can do about it. For a start, Jahangir was not an intolerant fellow. I had mentioned the caste affiliations because PMA always brings up this lala bania thing. It’s such a tired old nonsense along with the whole troll about 1857 as to how Hindus invited British to Delhi blah blah blah.

  79. @Bade Miya

    As you have not been gracious enough to let us into your confidence, it is difficult to make out which of Gorki’s psychological musings take the shape of ‘facts’ in your assessment, and what part of my explanation they refute.

    It seems that only //no communal//’s mailing list will permit a full and detailed analysis of these issues. In the absence of any tangible statement of your own, besides your having currently surrendered yourself to Gorki the historian, there is not much left to be done.

  80. Bin Ismail

    In my opinion, two fundamental principles that must be acknowledged wholeheartedly, before we engage in any sensible discussion on the history of the Subcontinent are:

    1. Rulers, kings and dynasties do not represent any religion in particular. Kings represent only their kingdoms. Any ruler would either subscribe to a certain faith or be an atheist. Either way he does not represent an ideology. Aurangzeb was a political leader who was incidentally Muslim and Shivaji was a political leader who was incidentally Hindu.

    2. With reference to the debate on “Identity”, we must appreciate that the Subcontinent has served as origine, adopted home and transit lounge to a very large number of categories of people. Each category has left its mark, which in most cases is indelible. All these marks have collectively become the common birth mark of all the nations existing in this Subcontinent.

  81. @Bade Miya

    Your recent discovery of history must be faulted, not I.

    Please read the standard texts. I have not only read them at a degree level and got a good degree, but also have kept up with these studies, sometimes through speculative texts and notes, but largely through canonical works. If I occasionally pull people’s legs, do not make the mistake of assuming that it reflects any lack of knowledge of the facts on the ground.

    Jehangir’s clear descent from the standards of his father is very evident. Do you expect pages of text to be reproduced simply because you have not yourself been exposed to them and will not believe them without a citation? In that case, this should be ‘Mughal History 101’, not ‘The Identity Crisis of Pakistan’, and you should be paying for the repair work to be done to your own historical knowledge.

  82. Raju Brother

    Bin Ismail wrote:

    1. Rulers, kings and dynasties do not represent any religion in particular. Kings represent only their kingdoms. Any ruler would either subscribe to a certain faith or be an atheist. Either way he does not represent an ideology.

    I guess then, the liberals in Pakistan should stop criticizing and blaming Zia-ul Haq for the Talibanization of Pakistani society.

  83. @Raju Brother

    Wrong doctor, wrong prescription.

    You and Gorki should stop admiring each other so hard and allow the discussion on The Identity Crisis of Pakistan to continue. In case you have not noticed, all the Pakistanis have stopped commenting, and there is only a set of Indians picking at the same old scabs that interest them, but are of no earthly interest to any Pakistani.

    If you are so interested in Indian history, or in seeing yourself in print, why don’t you set up your own site?

  84. Raju Brother

    Vajra, either you are a moderator or you are not!

    If not, don’t tell me what not to discuss or print!

  85. @Raju Brother

    Oh, why so? I thought we are all free to express our opinions? What makes it OK for you to hijack a thread, and not OK for me to point that out?

  86. Bin Ismail

    @ Raju Brother (August 27, 2010 at 1:32 pm)

    “…..I guess then, the liberals in Pakistan should stop criticizing and blaming Zia-ul Haq for the Talibanization of Pakistani society…..”

    It appears, you’ve unintentionally strengthened my point. Zia does not represent Islam. Yes, he was incidentally a Muslim. Zia too, represented nothing but his own political ambitions. His talibanization scheme was also serving his political ambitions. This is precisely the point.

  87. Raju Brother

    @Vajra

    Because whether I’ve hijacked the thread or not is not a determination for you to make. It is for the moderators.

    Did I ‘hijack’ the thread on my own? Were the others not interested in their putting forth their views, which they found relevant?

    You’re just a poster here like everybody else, albeit more Dhimmi than everybody else put together. Of course it has not escaped anybody that you’ve shown yourself to be a sympathizer and a votary of the Aurangzeb school of thought.

    Super-Dhimmis like you do not want a rapprochement between Indians and Pakistanis or Muslims and Hindus. The more hardline the Pakistanis remain, the more difficult it would be for the general Hindus/Indians to approach them, which allows the likes of you to monopolize any contact between the two. Your influence depends on tension between different communities.

    That’s why one sees certain Marxists sharing the podium with some of the most Islamist elements in society in India. There is a parallel.

    That is why you’re doing guard-dog duty here, and barking at all Indians who come around to PTH. That is why you want PTH to put up high walls around it, and not let ‘too many’ Indians on to the discussions.

    Any discussions on Dara Shikoh and his insights you find troubling because in your mind you think of PTH as LAL Qila that needs protection and you’re the right guard-dog for the job, as if you’re the First Prime (SG1 mythology here) of the Goa’uld Aurangzeb.

    A bit hyperbole here, to drill down the point!

    You’re not doing the Quest for the Pakistan’s Identity any service, only stopping others from making some form of contribution they find relevant.

  88. @Raju Brother

    Don’t be an idiot. Anybody can see from the record what happened; it doesn’t need a higher authority to see that. And since you are commonly used to reading what suits you to read, and ignoring the rest, it was not you alone, but Gorki as well, in his avatar of Christ, who were together responsible.

    As for the rest of your rant, it deserves about the same respect as you do – very little.

    dhimmi
    votary of the Aurangzeb school of thought (whatever that is)
    super-dhimmi
    guard-dog
    First Prime

    Dearie dearie me. How the little man runs on.

    Take your McCarthy tactics to your favourite Chowk, where it will be appreciated.

  89. Raju Brother

    Bin Ismail wrote:

    It appears, you’ve unintentionally strengthened my point. Zia does not represent Islam. Yes, he was incidentally a Muslim. Zia too, represented nothing but his own political ambitions. His talibanization scheme was also serving his political ambitions. This is precisely the point.

    You too strengthen my point.^

    The outcome of the struggle between extremism and liberalism is not determined at a round-table discussion or an internet forum discussion or even by a TV and Print media discussion. Extremism vs Liberalism is also not just an academic issue.

    The outcome of Extremism vs Liberalism fight would be determined on the ground, in society and in power circles.

    All factors which contribute to the spread of extremism in society, be it foreign involvement, madrassa funding, text books, hate speeches, communal politics, wars, etc. are relevant to this struggle.

    Of course some Maududi can write on ideology, but his ideology would only carry weight if there are actual people, agents, foot-soldiers who spread it.

    Zia was the agent of a particular ideological mindset and he implemented the various tenets of that ideology. The reasons why he did it, are only relevant for academicians and historians. The people however only see the fruits of his policies. Same is the case with Aurangzeb before him.

    The struggle between Extremism and Liberalism is decided to a large extent by the rulers.

    You’re saying that the motives of a person decide how his contribution to the struggle is to be evaluated, and not his actions, whereas I’m pleading just the opposite. His motives have zero effect on the people, but his actions do, and so his contribution to the struggle should be evaluated on the basis of his actions undertaken to strengthen or weaken the forces of extremism or liberalism in the society.

  90. Bade Miya

    Vajra,
    “Jehangir’s clear descent from the standards of his father is very evident.”

    I think the text has subtly changed to “standards of this father”. Who can disagree with that statement? I was referring to your earlier posts, sometime ago, where you described him as intolerant, even religiously, and a tormentor of Sikh faith. You also skipped the point about Lakshman Sen.

    There were just too many conjectures and half-guesses in your post to talk about. For example:
    “we must conclude that the Muslim Rajputs were too far under the military domination of the Afghans to be relied upon.”

    I have no idea how you came to that conclusion. There is hardly any proof for that. Before Akbar, Hemu too had forged a very potent Hindu-Afghan(if I can call it that) alliance. The Rajputs of Rajputana switched sides after Akbar’s signal victory and his magnanimity. There was always a big tussle between Sunni and Shia faction of the court; I haven’t heard of a Hindu faction. In fact, contrary to the oft repeated nonsense about the wily bania, it was the Hindu lala, Rajputs on which all the faction placed their utmost faith, much more than their coreligionists.

    “Aurangzeb needed to put together his own faction, and this naturally became the Islamic-purist faction. ”

    As I have repeated time and again, and as Gorki has done that too, there is no evidence for such an alliance at the Battle of Samugarh. Aurangzeb was known to be religious but the full force of his religiosity didn’t become evident much later.

    “Do you expect pages of text to be reproduced simply because you have not yourself been exposed to them and will not believe them without a citation? ”

    Well, that is the standard operating procedure when you are arguing something related to facts–historical and otherwise. I had earlier too asked for a citation. This is not to score points; I just need to fill the gaps in my knowledge.

    Bin Ismail,
    I totally agree with you, though some rules did place an emphasis on their faith.

  91. Gorki

    Dear Vajra,

    No need to flash your academic credentials. I am aware of the fact that I am battling two very accomplished historians and am already intimidated plenty. The problem is that you guys mix bits of dog poop with a gourmet dinner and ask one to consume it; but I refuse to do so.😉

    Here are some nuggets.

    1. You imply that we don’t understand the difference between ethnic factions and religion. We do. PMA Sahib keeps insisting that Nur Jehan imported her Persian relatives to counter the Hindu influence in the court. What ethnic group are the Hindus? Which Hindu faction was there in Jehangiri court? Can you name their leader?

    If he is referring to Mahabat Khan’s reliance on the Rajputs then is there any evidence that the make up of the rank and file of the Mughal forces changed much depending on who was in power in the court? The fact is that from Akbar’s time till 1707 the sinews of the empire were the Rajputs and other ‘Indians’ and that remained mostly unchanged even under Aurangzeb.

    2. The whole Kabul Islamabad Hindustan tussle thing. As I mentioned before Abar had to keep an eye on Afghanistan due to hakim’s presence because of the unfortunate habit among the Mughal royals to keep revolting when ever they could. Once Hakim was dead, Afghanistan became just another provinces of the empire; occasionally rebellious but never threatening the power. From Akbar’s time till after 1707 it was an outlying province with the Afghan city of Kandahar a chess piece between the Mughals and the Persians (who don’t even figure in PMA Sahib’s neat equation). It wasn’t even a core issue the rivalry was more of a friendly match, relations between the two courts remained friendly no matter whose flag flew on it.

    3. What represented the ‘Islamabad’ power center under Akbar-Jehangir-Shah Jehan-Aurangzeb?

    Even Afghanistan became a player after the Persians dealt a knockout blow to the Mughals much later and then even later Punjab became first a battle ground, and then a power center after the Afghans did it to the shadow of the Mughals left.
    The time lines however are off by light years. They simlpy don’t match up!!

    Last thing. In pointing out the pathologic rivalry between the two son’s of Shah Jehan I am not minimizing the instinct for survival that was the dominant reason for the struggle. It is pointed out in one whole post earlier.

    Regards.

  92. no-communal

    Oh, you guys are still discussing Aurangzeb. I thought it was agreed upon by all (except, probably PMA) that he was a religious extremist and largely responsible for the later downfall of the Mughal empire. And there is no need to add a qualifier (“of course what he did was not cynical because he believed in it…” and so forth) because we wouldn’t do that while discussing, say, a Bal Thackaray, who might also think what he is doing is right (for the Hindus).

    So what else is under discussion other than PMA’s thoughts?

  93. Bade Miya

    Gorki,
    “The problem is that you guys mix bits of dog poop with a gourmet dinner”

    You forgot to add that it is also served in an elaborate silverware, which acts as a further red-herring. I am not at all convinced by PMA’s scholarship. I am not going to say anything about Vajra, but the silverware thing may be a pointer…😉

  94. Bade Miya

    We miss Girish’s input that always came with incisive references rather than vague general statements. I wonder why he was hounded out.

  95. @Bade Miya

    As you wish. Not because anyone is bound to follow what you prescribe, but it is possible that a sufficiency of evidence will in time convince even your habit of doubting everything as a general principle.

    You have expressed particular scepticism about four points:

    1. “Jehangir’s clear descent from the standards of his father is very evident.”
    2. …“we must conclude that the Muslim Rajputs were too far under the military domination of the Afghans to be relied upon.”
    3. “Aurangzeb needed to put together his own faction, and this naturally became the Islamic-purist faction. ”
    4. “Do you expect pages of text to be reproduced simply because you have not yourself been exposed to them and will not believe them without a citation? ”

    Let us deal with them summarily.

    1. “Jehangir’s clear descent from the standards of his father is very evident.”

    The direct attack on the Sikhs, with imprisonment, torture and execution of Guru Arjan Dev, about whom Jehangir said,”….captured many of the simple-hearted of the Hindus, and even of the ignorant and foolish followers of Islam, by his ways and manners … for three or four generations (of spiritual successors) they had kept this shop warm.”

    2. …“we must conclude that the Muslim Rajputs were too far under the military domination of the Afghans to be relied upon.”

    Your scepticism on this is caused by four points: (i) Hemu’s coalition of ‘Hindu’-Afghan elements; (ii) the contrasting behaviour of the Rajputs of Rajputana; (iii) the existence of a Sunni-Shia rivalry in the court; (iv) the question of a ‘Hindu’ faction existing at all in the imperial court.

    Let us look at these four.

    (i) Hemu’s creating a coalition of Hindu and Afghan is not relevant at all. This coalition has nothing to do with the domination of the Janjuas and the Kambohs by their neighbouring Afghans. A look at the map will indicate the high degree of improbability of these converted tribes holding out against the Afghans. So when Akbar wanted to move away from depending on Afghans, he could count only on the Rajputs of Rajputana, not the converted Muslim Rajputs.

    In this situation, Hemu’s successful coalition has nothing to do with Akbar’s situation, unless you are suggesting that the same Afghans who had hounded his father out and established an alternative reign under the Suris were now suddenly fit material for a coalition. You do remember that Hemu was a minister at court and put together a coalition of those already associated with each other in the service of the Suri Sultans.

    I have mentioned all these in my original post. These are mentioned again because the counter-points are baffling in their irrelevance. That is not intended as sarcasm. As we go through the other four points, you will understand my reaction.

    (ii) the contrasting behaviour of the Rajputs of Rajputana: for this one, please look at the map, and also at the contrasting history of the Rajputs of Potohar and the Rajputs of Rajputana;

    (iii) the existence of a Sunni-Shia rivalry in the court; yes, there was, and what has that to do with the argument? Seriously, what did this have to do with Akbar’s dependence on the Rajputs of Rajputana?

    (iv) the question of a ‘Hindu’ faction existing at all in the imperial court – does not come up. I mentioned in passing that Dara Shikoh had put himself at the head of the ‘Hindu’ faction, and to avoid misunderstanding, to avoid giving a wholly faulty impression, amplified it to mean the communal harmony faction, consisting of both Hindus and Muslims sympathetic to Dara Shikoh’s decidedly syncretistic ideas.

    3. “Aurangzeb needed to put together his own faction, and this naturally became the Islamic-purist faction. ”

    You mention that there was no sign of this at the battle of Samugarh. Since we were discussing the succession struggle as an organic whole, and not in terms of the intricate manoeuvres by Aurangzeb, this is fallacious: Yes, certainly, the spacecraft returned, but at times, especially during re-entry, it was in flames. So? If I had analysed the succession struggle in such detail, rather than with the limited purpose of understanding what PMA was seeking to convey, I might have sliced the entire situation into the fine time-slices that you seem to wish to see.

    4. “Do you expect pages of text to be reproduced simply because you have not yourself been exposed to them and will not believe them without a citation? ”

    Very well; if you insist, you are entitled to these, in fairness.

    Regarding your earlier assertions, which in my evaluation are wholly mistaken, but which have no place here, either prevail on “no communal” to set up a suitable forum or do so yourself, and I will explain in as much detail as you seek the mistakes in your positions.

    In conclusion, as I have said earlier, this discussion is pure and undiluted self-indulgence, triggered off in an irresponsible manner, and has nothing to do with the topic. Therefore, please consider unburdening this blog site with your quest for further knowledge.

    I think that is only fair.

    @Gorki

    I shall ignore your opening remarks and get to the point. It is more than I would do for others.

    Some few posts ago, this is what I wrote:

    “First, on doing history. One does not impose one’s own vocabulary, grammar and syntax on the original author; that is the surest way to misunderstanding everything that is possible. One seeks to reconstruct the author’s world-view (weltanschauung, to our delegate from Germany), and understand that person’s words in their context, and only thus come to an understanding of what is meant.

    PMA uses code words and a manner of expression which is intimately linked to the ideology (not the theology, but the ideology) of the organic nature of Pakistan. Whether we agree or not – I vehemently disagree – it is incorrect not to parse his statements in that context. That is the only legitimate framework of reference, because that is what he uses. ”

    While I can interpret up to a point, I cannot insert falsities in an attempt to achieve realistic interpretation. The only reasonable way to explain PMA’s point of view is by taking them as referring to ethnic groups, not religious. In the absence of conclusive evidence otherwise, it is not possible to conclude that Hindus formed a group and Muslims formed another. I am unable to say what PMA meant by specifically referring to Hindu factions; the evidence is strained by this conclusion.

    That was your first point.

    Your second point was on Afghanistan being important only due to Hakim’s continued rebellions. Since you choose to trivialise the subsequent war of will with Abbasid Persia, this automatically makes your point valid. Unfortunately, that was not what happened: the contest with the Abbasids was no light matter, and Persia was never friendly to the Mughals, beyond the attempt to win Humayun over to be a vassal of the Abbasids. Since everybody is questioning everybody else, I might ask you how you came to that extraordinary conclusion. It is only in the context of Afghanistan having a weight and effect on Indian decisions that PMA’s analysis makes sense – make of it what we will.

    Finally, for someone who has the intelligence and sophistication to bring psycho-profiles into play in deciding who was doing what to whom in Mughal India, it is surprising that you take PMA’s offhand suggestions as blueprints rather than artist’s sketches.

    However, since ingenuous is the name of the game, let me plod doggedly through this last bit, with our mutual complete knowledge of what is going on.

    The Kabul/Islamabad/Delhi “thing”, to tighten PMA’s references, broadly approximates, I think, to the Afghan/Kandahar/Kabul – Lahore – Ajmer/Agra loci.

    Again, this is not my thesis, merely one that I am interpreting, on behalf of an absent author laughing his head off at the most amusing prank he has played on his Indian tormentors for years.

    If we assume that Kandahar/Kabul represented a different power focus, the original source of power for the Mughals, that Lahore and the Indus Valley formed an intermediate stage, with mingled Afghan and Punjabi Mussulman strength defining it, later with the Sikhs joining in, and that Agra and Ajmer represented the rich, powerful sub-continental hinterland, which the Mughals played off against the other two power centres, we get an inkling of what PMA is trying to say. I wish, however, that he would stop being beastly, and just come forward and explain his riddles and mysteries.

    Having concluded the logical portion of my response, I note with admiration your ability to pick up debating techniques from your new-found friends. That business of answering a question never asked is very good indeed. Very good. Consider yourself awarded the silverware – all of it; the other chap hardly counts except as a straight man – and please depart with your portion of the dog poop and the gourmet dinner in whatever proportion you should choose.

  96. no-communal

    @Vajra
    “Yes, certainly, the spacecraft returned, but at times, especially during re-entry, it was in flames. So?”

    Vajra, this is hilarious! I can’t stop laughing and my colleagues are looking at me suspiciously. You are just too good with your language and debate skills.

    BTW, do you actually write? Although my profession is science, I am quite well-informed about writers from Kolkata. Do we know you from your other writings? How about Facebook?

  97. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    You’ve got it all wrong.

    When you can’t answer the other guy, and don’t feel good about it, the way the other person puts it is silverware; what he actually has to say is a mixture of dogpoop and gourmet food.

    See? All points disproved, and we can now all go home. Just in time for PMA to turn up and march around, saying, “Maidan me koi hai?”

  98. no-communal

    @Vajra
    You do not have to respond to my last post if you don’t want to. I just couldn’t help asking those questions. Your last post was so hilarious that it marked the beginning of my weekend!

  99. Bade Miyan

    Vajra,
    Doubt is a good thing. I have my own maxim,”when in doubt, doubt more..”😉

    “….captured many of the simple-hearted of the Hindus, and even of the ignorant and foolish followers of Islam, by his ways and manners … for three or four generations (of spiritual successors) they had kept this shop warm.”

    Actually, that statement without the ritual execution could easily be applied to modern day charlatans like Asharam Ji Bapu maharaj, Bungali Baba Faridabadwale, etc. Now, I do not mean that the Guru was one, but where is the intolerance? I don’t see it. There is derision, for sure. Don’t forget that a big reason why Guru Arjun Dev was executed was because he blessed Khusrau, the rebel prince.

    The rest of your post, I shall address with time. Once again, if you had posted citations, you would have saved yourself a lot of typing.

  100. Bade Miyan

    “f we assume that Kandahar/Kabul represented a different power focus, the original source of power for the Mughals, that Lahore and the Indus Valley formed an intermediate stage, with mingled Afghan and Punjabi Mussulman strength defining it, later with the Sikhs joining in, and that Agra and Ajmer represented the rich, powerful sub-continental hinterland, which the Mughals ….”

    Phew! That made my head spin..

    “The only reasonable way to explain PMA’s point of view is by taking them as referring to ethnic groups, not religious.”

    Could it be that his point of view is wrong in the first place and all this intellectual gymnastics is wholly wasted? Remember Occam razor?

  101. Not on PTH. This has nothing to do with The Identity Crisis of Pakistan.

    I’ve told you enough times. You want to indulge yourself, do so offline, set up a mailing list for the purpose.

    And it’s time PMA came out from behind those potted palms.

  102. DAsghar

    Biradraan……

    I appreciate your feedback. Just a tad bit off track, are’nt we….I think Mughal e Azam was a “dhansoo” movie, Dara Shikok and Aurengzeb should be left whether they are…in their graves…

    Let’s move on… Lets bring it back to where we started. I am no moderator, thought just step in for a moment, if any one cares.🙂

  103. Gorki

    Dear Vajra,

    First of all I meant the dog poop comment as a back hand way to pay a compliment but it came out wrong. However your generosity in treating a friend gently in spite of it is appreciated. I was trying to say that you were adding gourmet food to some other stuff….
    What the heck, never mind I should shut up and stop digging when I am in a ditch already.😉

    Any way you did answer my questions and I have no problem. Like you, I am not unsympathetic to PMA Sahib’s endeavors to try to patch together a coherent narrative but take exception when I feel that narrative can do serious damage.
    No communal (thanks for paying Vajra a compliment the way he deserves; I should learn from you) may think that I am idly arguing only about one man’s thoughts but that is not true. Narrative restricted to Pakistan alone can be overlooked but one that affects India too cannot be for obvious reasons.

    In the next few days we will have a court verdict on the Babri Masjid issue; India is already bracing for it; we must do everything possible to keep things in proper perspective. History should not only be interpreted keeping in mind the writer’s but also in light of the framework of actual events. Thus whatever we may think of ideas like TNT today, one can’t apply them to medieval times when even the ideas of nationhood were absent.

    The Mughals, for all their ruthlessness with rebels and such, were actually fairly tolerant people and their reliance from Emperor Akbar’s time onwards on the local population meant that the process of cultural synthesis was far advanced by the time the Empire weakened politically. Trying to find cleavage planes in that era to fit our modern prejudices is very inaccurate and perhaps even dishonest.

    A last word about Jahangir and Guru Arjan Dev. Jahangir wrote what he wrote but his problem with the Guru was less doctrinal and more a retribution at the Guru having given the rebel prince Khusrav a modest monetary help. (The Guru was not taking sides; when the destitute prince first begged for help the Guru sent a message that his help was only for the poor; but that is another issue) Jahangir was interested in many things including the Vedas; he listened to Jesuits debate the Maulivis and once in a while jested at the discomfiture of the Maulivis.
    Aurangzeb Alamgir knew this and once refused to visit his grandfather’s grave saying that he didn’t want to visit an apostate.

    The final proof of the synergetic culture of the Mughals lay in the fact that even the religious zeal of Aurangzeb was half hearted at the best; and haphazardly applied for try as he might, there was no way he could find any neat cleavage planes in the society at large, the kind PMA Sahib would have us believe existed…
    Regards

    PS. Agree with you, no communal is not the only one laughing to himself; I bet someone in Chicago is staring into the computer and laughing silently..

  104. Raju Brother

    @D. Asghar,

    All political parties based on religion, ethnic, regional and geographic agendas should be abolished.

    And who will do this?

  105. @DAsghar

    Where were you all this time?

    A word of advice – this is a rough crowd, all brawn, no brain, and silverware nappies. Stay out if you know what’s good for you – look what happened to me, just because I decided to step in for a moment.

  106. Bade Miya

    Vajra,
    “this is a rough crowd, all brawn, no brain, and silverware nappies. ”

    That’s a bit unfair. You still have to buttress your initial conjectures. Or is it a signal that you have thrown in the towel.
    Yield and thy life shalt be spared!
    😀

  107. Hayyer

    On Arjan Dev there is more than meets the eye.
    Very briefly if I may then; When Arjan Dev was compiling the Sikh Granth a complaint was carried to the Mughal Governor in Lahore that it contained anti Islamic writings. Arjan Dev sent his second son Hargobind to Lahore to prove that the allegation was false. He stayed with the Dewan Chandu Shah. Chandu liked the boy and proposed marriage with his daughter which Arjan Dev declined. Miffed, Chandu complained to Jahangir on his visit to Lahore on a visit that Arjan Dev had succoured Khusrau in his rebellion.
    This was the origin of the historic Sikh Muslim enmity.
    Jehangir eventually learned the truth and released Hargobind from Gwalior jail and granted him the right to horse cavalry and cannon for self defence. Orthodox Sikhs do not like to admit that the sixth guru was a Mughal mansabdar, but the Miri Piri episodes starts with Hargobind and it is inconceivable that any leader located so closely to the centre of power in Lahore would have been allowed a private army without official permission. The Sikh Muslim enmity later revived under Aurangzeb. But Sikhs like to claim that Auranzeb’s repentance is a result of Gobind Singh’s letter called the Zaffarnama in which he excoriated him among other things for being a bad Muslim.

  108. Bade Miya

    Hayyer,
    That is one of the versions connected with Guru Arjan Dev’s story. I am glad you brought it out and it reinforces my original claim that Jahangir was not a bigot. I urge people to read his auto-biographical book. It is extremely enjoyable, much more than Baburnama. It used to be available in cheaper Penguin editions, if I remember correctly. By the way, the foreword to Baburnama is written by Rushdie, and no matter what you think about him, it’s an excellent summary of the ideological conflict within the Islamic world which we sometime find so hard to understand and ignore. Contrary to oft repeated claims about this seminal fight culminating in the battle of Samugarh, it has been all along, every 100-200 years or so. It’s fascinating yet irritating at the same time.

  109. Bin Ismail

    @ Raju Brother (August 27, 2010 at 2:53 pm)

    “…..You’re saying that the motives of a person decide how his contribution to the struggle is to be evaluated, and not his actions, whereas I’m pleading just the opposite. His motives have zero effect on the people, but his actions do…..”

    I wouldn’t actually disagree with what you’re contending. My emphasis is confined to the point that in studying history, we should be objective in analyzing the doings of rulers with a more pronounced extrinsic religiosity, by not attributing their doings to the actual faith itself.

  110. no-communal

    @Hayyer, Bade Miya,
    Here is what Jahangir says about the Arjan Dev incident in his autobiography:

    “In Goindwal, on the river Beas, lived a Hindu named Arjan who wore robes of worldly dignity and high spiritual order. Many simple minded Hindus and ignorant Muslims* too, had been fascinated by his ways. He was noised about as a spiritual master and they beat a drum of his prophetship and called him the enlightener. From all directions shoals of people would come to him and express great devotion. This busy traffic had been carried on for three or four generations** For years it was coming to my mind that either I should put an end to this false traffic and imposturous shop or I must bring him into the fold of Islam. At last during the days when Khusrau passed along the road to Goindwal, this insignificant fellow made up his mind to see him. He discussed some preconceived things with him and made on the forehead of the prince a saffron mark which is called ‘Tilak’ by the Hindus and is considered an auspicious omen. This incident was reported to me. I was already aware of the Guru’s false cult. I therefore ordered him to be arrested and made over his household and family to Murtza Khan. Having confiscated his property I issued orders that he should be imprisoned, and tortured to death under some political pretext.
    Two other persons named Raju and Amba had under the instigation of Khawaja Sera Daulat Khan committed oppression and tyrannies over the people during Khusrau’s march towards Lahore. I ordered that Raju be hanged and Amba, who was a very rich man, be fined a Lakh and fifteen thousand rupees. About this money I ordered that it should be spent on gunpowder and for charitable purposes.”
    Tuzak-e-Jahangiri

    It seems that Jahangir was looking for an excuse to punish Arjan Dev even before the Khusrau incident. And his reasons were less to do with politics.

    According to the Sikhs, the Chandu Lal stroy is a concoction to shift the blame elsewhere.

    The following lines are from the Sikh Society (UK):

    “As regards the part played by Chandu Lal, it is alleged that the Guru had refused to betroth his son Har Gobind to Chandu’s daughter and Chandu therefore poisoned the Emperor’s mind against the Guru. This story seems to have been circulated intentionally by those who played an important part in bringing about the Guru’s ruin and wanted to shift the blame of the heinous crime to a Hindu and thus set the Guru’s Sikhs against the Hindus who were accepting Sikhism in large numbers. According to the Emperor’s own testimony the Guru was handed over to Murtza Khan to be ”tortured to death.” In all likelihood the part that Chandu could have played in this tragic episode was that as an official of the Government, he may have made a report to the central Government in his official capacity and being the local officer of Lahore may have made arrangements for the Guru’s internment.”

    At least from Jahangir’s own writings it seems the reasons lay elsewhere.

  111. @Bade Miya

    //”Vajra,
    “this is a rough crowd, all brawn, no brain, and silverware nappies. ”

    That’s a bit unfair. You still have to buttress your initial conjectures. Or is it a signal that you have thrown in the towel.
    Yield and thy life shalt be spared!//

    If I may invite your attention to the response of Brig. McAuliffe, defender of Bastogne, whose one-word response to a similarly silly suggestion really says it all.

  112. Bade Miya

    Dear Vajra,
    “Brig. McAuliffe, defender of Bastogne”

    Thanks for the knowledge. Didn’t know anything about this guy.

  113. Bade Miya

    No communal,
    The whole point about Guru Arjan Dev became a big thing after Sikhism was firmly established. This was a point I made sometime ago. Now, when I said that Jahangir was not a bigot, I didn’t mean that he was a pinko style, vegan munching liberal. Actually, he was capable of exceptional barbarity that was hardly ever superseded by anyone. So, while he hung the golden chain of justice, he also ordered a man to be skinned alive on some trivial charge. That kind of punishment was harsh even for the violent age.

    What I wished to say was that one should try to get a whole picture of a person. If you read Baburnama in parts, depending on which section you are reading, his character can vary from a dreamy adventurer to a complete rascal.

  114. no-communal

    @BM
    No dispute there.

  115. Raju Brother

    Bin Ismail wrote:

    I wouldn’t actually disagree with what you’re contending. My emphasis is confined to the point that in studying history, we should be objective in analyzing the doings of rulers with a more pronounced extrinsic religiosity, by not attributing their doings to the actual faith itself.

    Studying history is one thing, Looking for Visionaries and Role Models for inspiration is another.

    Any man’s motivations derive from some combination of personal interests, tribal interests, upbringing, philosophical outlook, environment, etc. This is true for an emperor, for a man of religion, or for a common man. No man is unidimensional.

    Jinnah too was not unidimensional and both his fans and detractors highlight different aspects for him, and yet one looks up to Jinnah for inspiration and direction. Today he too is a man in the history books. That does not disqualify him from people making him the cornerstone of their efforts to (re)introduce liberalism into Pakistani society.

    So if Jinnah, a historical man, can be called to duty, why not another great man, Dara Shikoh, be likewise be used as the torch-bearer for liberalism. Why confine him only to the history books, especially when Pakistan today ‘could’ need his special outlook to solve its identity crisis – to reconcile its Islamic past with its pre-Islamic past, to reconcile the two people of Pakistan and India, this being one of the biggest factors for Pakistan’s identity being skewed?

  116. Bade Miya

    No communal,
    Thank you.

    Raju Brother,
    Excellent points. In fact, I recommend that we have Dara as a role model in India. He was an exceptional man, maybe not a great general, but his intellectual abilities were formidable and his liberalism was an article of faith rather than some convenient cloak to be worn as and when required. He was also, contrary to what people may believe, one of the very few people belonging to the Muslim ruling class who sincerely tried to understand native faith and practices. I know I am going to cause a commotion here but the representation of Hinduism in the elite intelligentsia in the middle ages had degenerated into some sort of mixture of shaman practices. That is the reason why when you hear the chronicles of foreign travelers, they refer to Hinduism in frankly quite repugnant terms, which they had gathered from their contact with the ruling elite. Dara bucked this trend. His scholarship and innate inclusiveness should be seen in this backdrop, and, as such, appear to be even more admirable.

  117. Bade Miya

    *read the chronicles* The error is regretted.

  118. @Bade Miya

    I know I am going to cause a commotion here but the representation of Hinduism in the elite intelligentsia in the middle ages had degenerated into some sort of mixture of shaman practices.

    This is part of the story. It is worth observing the trajectory of Hindu philosophy and practice in two distinct directions (others exist).

    One was this entanglement with Tantrism (whether Hindu Tantrism or Buddhist Tantrism came first is irrelevant for this observation), the other its desiccation as five of the original philosophical schools, Samkhya, Yoga, Mimamsa, Nyaya and Vaiseshika, were rooted out.

    Outside observers of earlier times and ages, the al Birunis (turn of the 10th century) and so on, are probably unlikely to have noticed this second phenomenon, but both date from approximately the same very broad historical time-window, around 600 AD (loosely speaking) for Tantrism, from 800 AD onwards for the destruction of non-Vedanta schools.

    The date of the desiccative trend is not insignificant, nor is its place of origin, if we consider that the new orthodoxy came to be centred around a monotheistic God, and if we consider some of the ramifications. Hayyer, of course, has been totally unconvinced about this line of analysis earlier.

    What may be observed today is the result of this churning.

    Not a good fit with the topic, The Identity Crisis of Pakistan, but since you mentioned it….

  119. Bade Miya

    Vajra,
    I hope I am not being an ass, but I believe you haven’t read Al Beruni’s account. He was very well versed with the different streams of Hindu philosophy and was much respected in India for his Sanskrit scholarship. Edward Sacchau’s translation is one of the best sources and it is actually not a huge tome.

    I am not sure if I agree with your idea that this is not connected to the identity of Pakistan.

    Btw, I don’t share your disparagement of Tantric and other such beliefs. They go hand in hand with the more abstruse studies.

  120. Bade Miya

    Vajra,
    Shilbhadra, the outstanding philosopher of his time saw the destruction of Nalanda. So your dates are off.

  121. @Bade Miya

    Oh dear, here you go again.

    1. Did al Beruni notice that one school out of six was beginning to dominate the other five, and would root them out? That was my reference to him, not whether he knew or did not know about the different schools. Please read carefully before jumping into print.

    2. Was the disparagement of Tantrism that you detect in the wording entanglement the important part, what I sought to convey, or that there was a two-fold movement? Tantric trends on the one hand, the hollowing out and final extinction of the other schools on the other. Why don’t you try concentrating on the essentials, instead of being deliberately dense?

    3. Which Shilabhadra are you referring to? If it was my 7th century countryman from Vikrampur, I am unable to understand what you are referring to, as Nalanda went on till the 12th century. And what Shilabhadra has to do in any case with my dates being wrong? Was Tantrism not full-blown by 600 AD? Was Vedanta not vigorously re-introduced after 800 AD?

    For every statement I make, you come back with several errors. It is beginning to seem that it is not lack of information that misleads you, it is simply lack of ability to understand a simple English sentence. And then you have the cheek to wonder why there is no effort at refuting you. It would be a full-time job, that is the reason why.

  122. Raju Brother

    Bade Miya wrote:

    In fact, I recommend that we have Dara as a role model in India.

    I am convinced, that India will rediscover this great man. Hindus and Muslims in India, though already bound by one citizenship, one genetic background, a fused culture and one destiny of prosperity and progress, can perhaps also find a way to reconcile their histories through the figure of Dara Shikoh.

    As I pointed out previously the Indo-Iran Society already has a Dara Shikoh Prize, but it will take some time for his belated crowning.

    He was an exceptional man, maybe not a great general, but his intellectual abilities were formidable and his liberalism was an article of faith rather than some convenient cloak to be worn as and when required. He was also, contrary to what people may believe, one of the very few people belonging to the Muslim ruling class who sincerely tried to understand native faith and practices.

    May be he was not a great general, which did lead to his failure in that era, and may be he was the wrong man for that time, but for today’s times I am convinced he is the right man and thinker. He still remains the crown prince awaiting his throne.

    As far as Dara Shikoh’s relevance for Pakistan’s identity is concerned, I would say that whatever fused identity Pakistan is trying to construct till now, has invariably lacked a very important ingredient, and only Dara can provide Pakistan with that ingredient. There is not a single man, who could carry that burden, not even Jinnah!

  123. Bade Miya

    Ok I think I got Shilbhadra wrong. I meant the last provost/principal of Nalanda. I apologize. He was some other -bhadra.

    “Did al Beruni notice that one school out of six was beginning to dominate the other five, and would root them out?”

    I didn’t notice that in his book. If you did, please do give me the reference.

    “Tantric trends on the one hand, the hollowing out and final extinction of the other schools on the other. ”

    As you mentioned, there were other schools of thought. That doesn’t mean that each one of them were equally popular. The one connected with atheism was always a select group. So, I am not sure where does this domination of one group over the other comes from. Some philosophical schools are more popular by the virtue of their innate appeal. The more esoteric ones depended often on a royal patronage. I can only explain that with an analogy. For example, if by some quirk of fate, the fat cats of Middle East embrace Avincinea and Sufi stream of thought, we would see an automatic decline of the wahabbi nonsense.
    Jaina philosophy, mercifully, survived because the Kings of Gujarat were its patrons, even some Muslim ones. Now, this is my own thought. As always, I may be totally far from reality.

    “Was Tantrism not full-blown by 600 AD? Was Vedanta not vigorously re-introduced after 800 AD?”

    Hmm..I am not too sure. You talked about Al Beruni. He doesn’t talk about it. I guess it depends on the place you are talking about. I think Vikramshila was the seat of tantric learning, which by no means was devoid of depth of thought. The present Tibetan Buddhism is tantric Buddhism introduced by scholars who fled from Nalanda. That’s what the folklore says. I am not too sure how genuine this claim is. A few years ago, I watched a monk making his mandala and there was an elephant motif. I asked him about it since elephants are not native to Tibet and he said it was because the Tibetan Buddhism was an import from Gaya, Bihar.

  124. Bade Miya

    “For every statement I make, you come back with several errors. It is beginning to seem that it is not lack of information that misleads you, it is simply lack of ability to understand a simple English sentence.”

    Nuts!

  125. shiv

    @ Bade Miya
    Not only are you wrong, your eyes are bad, your brain is bad, your comprehension of language is poor, your understanding is poor and you are generally so pathetic that I declare that I have won. So there!😀

  126. @Bade Miya

    This is absolutely my last tutorial delivered within PTH. If you have the time to indulge in these horrible expeditions replete with error, you have the time to create a separate venue to discuss these.

    Tags work. How nice the whole world seems. Let me take advantage of it before someone else hammers home a “strong” tag.

    Ok I think I got Shilbhadra wrong. I meant the last provost/principal of Nalanda. I apologize. He was some other -bhadra.

    I wish you’d say what you mean in the first place. That one was Shaktisribhadra, or Shakyasribhadra, a very eminent monk in his own right, who set up his own ‘lineage’ in Tibet after the massacres.

    “Did al Beruni notice that one school out of six was beginning to dominate the other five, and would root them out?”

    I didn’t notice that in his book. If you did, please do give me the reference.

    This is why, instead of doing a squirrel on me, you might as well, or to better purpose actually, go back to Wren and Martin.

    Please pay attention.

    Vajra said: Outside observers of earlier times and ages, the al Birunis (turn of the 10th century) and so on, are probably unlikely to have noticed this second phenomenon,

    Bade Miya replied, losing the point completely: I believe you haven’t read Al Beruni’s account. He was very well versed with the different streams of Hindu philosophy and was much respected in India for his Sanskrit scholarship… Ass!

    Vajra choked down his building rage, composed himself and said, through a spray of fine-ground tooth enamel: Did al Beruni notice that one school out of six was beginning to dominate the other five, and would root them out? That was my reference to him, not whether he knew or did not know about the different schools.

    As a death-wish took complete possession of him, Bade Miya warbled, with native woodnote wild: No, Aunty, I thought this was homework for tomorrow only.

    Sorry. Wrong scene.

    Bade Miya said: I didn’t notice that in his book. If you did, please do give me the reference.

    So here’s what happened.

    1. al Beruni would not have spotted one school of the six Hindu schools rising and the other five fading away.
    2.😀 al Beruni knew all about Hindu philosophy!
    3. I’m not disputing that. Did he know that one was rising and the others were falling? (I don’t think he did).
    4.😀 Oh, did he know that one was rising and the others were falling? Where’d he say that? Where? Where?

    Vajra bursts into tears.

    Why this dimwit? Why me? Why can’t he pick on Gorki? I’ve lived a good life, done no one any harm. Why me?

    “Tantric trends on the one hand, the hollowing out and final extinction of the other schools on the other. ”

    As you mentioned, there were other schools of thought. That doesn’t mean that each one of them were equally popular. The one connected with atheism was always a select group. So, I am not sure where does this domination of one group over the other comes from. Some philosophical schools are more popular by the virtue of their innate appeal. The more esoteric ones depended often on a royal patronage. I can only explain that with an analogy. For example, if by some quirk of fate, the fat cats of Middle East embrace Avincinea and Sufi stream of thought, we would see an automatic decline of the wahabbi nonsense.

    Jaina philosophy, mercifully, survived because the Kings of Gujarat were its patrons, even some Muslim ones. Now, this is my own thought. As always, I may be totally far from reality.

    It is apparent from your disjointed answers that you have read widely but not under tutoring in the past, and that the word ‘wide’ applies, rather than ‘deep’. This particular point is actually a con, it hinges on fact, not interpretation.

    All the five schools other than Vedanta are dead today, although Yoga survives as a component of other ‘systems’, both Tantra and Vedanta, and there are other survivals as well. But the true schools as they were at their height have been attacked by Vedanta practitioners and rendered extinct.

    Your explanation is not wrong, that is how it might have been when all six vied for the attention of people, but in this context it is faffing; the short, correct answer is, “Yes, the other five are now dead.”

    Two last points: the so-called atheistic ones were either from the ‘astika’ or the ‘nastika’ group. The ‘astika’ group accepts the Vedas as central, as revealed scripture; they include Sankhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Mimamsa and Vaiseshika, and of course, Vedanta. The ‘nastika’ group include Chaarvaka, Jainism and Buddhism. They don’t accept the Vedas. Sankhya, Yoga (in a sense; I am associating it with Sankhya, but there are other interpretations), Chaarvaka, Jainism and Buddhism are atheistic.

    This is a better review of the situation than “the one connected with atheism was always a select group”.

    The second point: I am staying away from Jainism because the only time I studied it even half-heartedly was during a serious look into Buddhism, especially the mind-bending Nagarjuna school.

    “Was Tantrism not full-blown by 600 AD? Was Vedanta not vigorously re-introduced after 800 AD?”

    Hmm..I am not too sure. You talked about Al Beruni. He doesn’t talk about it. I guess it depends on the place you are talking about. I think Vikramshila was the seat of tantric learning, which by no means was devoid of depth of thought.

    WTF? Tantric thinking was almost full developed by Gupta times. It influenced almost all extant schools then, Buddhism and Hinduism taken alike. And what does Vikramashila have to do with it, or its dates? It flourished then, in the 12th century, but it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t fully explicated earlier, during the 6th or 7th centuries.

    And you don’t need al Beruni to talk about it. You had Nalanda (OK, Vikramashila, if you like, or one of the other three, if you prefer) to date Tantrism towards the end, and the Gupta empire, around the 6th century, to date its high noon. For Vedanta flourishing after 800 AD, I’ll give you a hint and put you out of your misery. Think Shankara.

    The present Tibetan Buddhism is tantric Buddhism introduced by scholars who fled from Nalanda. That’s what the folklore says. I am not too sure how genuine this claim is. A few years ago, I watched a monk making his mandala and there was an elephant motif. I asked him about it since elephants are not native to Tibet and he said it was because the Tibetan Buddhism was an import from Gaya, Bihar.

    Nothing to do with my arguments, or your strange distortions of them.

    Your monk friend was exactly right. The second re-establishment of Buddhism occurred under Atish Dipankar, whose village home Vajrayogini gives me a name. Atish was an abbot of Nalanda and perhaps of Vikramashila, and at the age of 75, packed up and left for Tibet to preach the Dhamma. This was just before the destruction of Buddhism in his own home, that is, Nalanda and Vikramasila. So there you are.

    Any further discussion outside PTH.

  127. Raju Brother

    @shiv,

    you forgot bad breath!

  128. asterisk

    Pakistan is skin-colour racist society. The elite is (mostly) white-skinned and claims arab, turk or persian descent.

    The pashtuns also claim racial superiority over panjabis and sindhis.

    The pictures from Pakistan reveal that the poorer and suffering in Pakistan are more indian-looking. They are darker and have indian features and are told that if they declare themselves to be arabs or turks then they will be better of. And most of them are so dimwitted (due to their arab religion) as to believe it.

  129. no-communal

    @Vajra
    “Atish was an abbot of Nalanda and perhaps of Vikramashila, and at the age of 75, packed up and left for Tibet to preach the Dhamma. This was just before the destruction of Buddhism in his own home, that is, Nalanda and Vikramasila. So there you are.”

    Vajra, I just saw this. I just wanted to mention that Atish Dipankar was once a student of Nalanda, but never a teacher. He was the abbot of Vikramshila established by the Pal Kings. The reason this slight error (not that it matters) stuck out to me is that I made the same mistake talking to a friend the other day.

  130. @no-communal

    You may well be right. The five foundations were linked together in Pala times, and similarly later in Sena times, and the senior scholars moved from one to the other quite easily.

  131. Hayyer

    Matters are now way beyond even fifth hand connections to Pakistani identity. Vajra’s suggestion of a separate group on this is the only sensible way to continue discussing these aspects instead of cluttering PTH’s host computer.

  132. Rashid Khan Orakzai

    Wishful thinking

  133. Gorki

    Dear Raju Bhai:

    ‘For those who are intent on describing the rivalry between Dara Shikoh and Aurangzeb as simply a siblings rivalry and a dynastic tussle for power and interesting only for history lovers, one should remember that that is from a PoV of the palace, but for the subjects, whoever ascends the throne, his outlook, his philosophy, his mindset have a very real effect….’

    In the heat of the battle, I forgot to respond to the above. I think you misunderstand my disagreement with your first statement.
    While I strongly believe that the contest between Shah Jehan’s sons was a struggle for the throne and survival, the impact of its outcome was momentous. In that sense, I agree with you that the battle of Samugarh was a pivotal event, whose importance is not given its due in history.

    I also did not in any way, mean to minimize the humanity, the liberalism or the genius of Dara.
    He was the finest scholar that the Mughals ever produced.
    A painter, writer, thinker and philosopher in public life, in private, he was an ideal family man, a devoted husband and a doting father.
    He wrote children’s books, complete with pictures that he said he had produced solely for his own children.
    A shining product of the syncretic culture developing in India; Dara was the closest Mughal India ever came to producing our own version of a renaissance man.

    Neither was Dara a poor administrator as some make him out to be. Even without his bigotry; Aurangzeb did worse. For example, when Dara was the crown prince and running the Empire, Bengal produced close to a crore and a half Rupees of revenue under his supervision; this dropped down to less than a third during the later days of Aurangzeb’s rule due to mismanagement.

    I pointed out the lack of any political ideology or religious dogma behind the war of succession for the sake of objectivity and to point out that up till Aurangzeb took over and tried to set the clock back (and breaking it in the process, in Nehru’s words) the faith of the subjects (or a lack of it) was not a major concern of the Mughals; moreover their tolerance was taken for granted.

    It was partly because of this tolerant attitude of the rulers that the Indian thinkers started experimenting freely with novel ideas of the faith. It was in part due to such a permissive environment that the Bhakti movement sprung up in North India.
    Hindu saints like Farid and Nanak absorbed the message of a universal brotherhood from Islam and fused it with Hindu philosophy from before and freely preached their message to both the Hindus and Muslims alike without any fear of religious persecution.

    This not only led to the revitalization and enrichment of the original two faiths, such liberal and liberated way of thinking also created the new faith of Sikhism. Sikhism lived and thrived peacefully with Islam of the day; with Hinduism; and with everything in between, e.g. Sufism (Dara’s mentor, Mian Meer laid the foundation of the Golden Temple). Interestingly the first Sikh Guru, Nanak was a contemporary of Babur, the first Mughal as was the last Guru, Gobind Singh, with the last great Mughal Aurangzeb so that the time line of the Sikh Gurus (1469-1708) was aligned almost exactly with the period of Mughal greatness (1526-1707) in India during which the Sikh Mughal paths crossed several times. The religious persecution of the Sikhs on grounds of dogma only stated during Aurangzeb’s day.

    Contrary to popular belief, once Aurangzeb started subordinating of the state affairs to clergy, it was not welcomed by all Muslims; many, including senior officials resented it.
    Once during a tough campaign in the Deccan Aurangzeb sent for a senior general, Mahabat Khan, who sarcastically retorted: ‘Why does he need an army, ask him to have his chief Kazi issue a Fatwa and declare victory!

    Thus Dara was not a revolutionary but a gentle product of the old, still evolving order.
    It was Aurangzeb, the family rebel, who tried to impose his version on a country that was at odds with him and hence the disastrous course that followed.

    All of the above is very important for this particular discussion about the Pakistani identity because while it is not up to me to comment how they want to define their identity, as far as I am concerned the faith and the identity of the Hindustani Muslim (precursor of both the India and Pakistani Muslims) it is an indigenous faith and a local identity; synthesized peacefully, over centuries in Mughal India; an Indian dynasty.

    It is not; I repeat NOT, an alien transplant as you and some like rationalist etc. keep on implying.

    Because this is the ‘land that multiple people shared and left there mark’ as Bin Ismail suggests,
    I agree with you that “Dara Shikoh” is alive and kicking.”
    Dara embodied the spirit of our land, which was there even before he was born; it is there now in the overall tolerance of our people even after the gentle prince is long gone…

    Regards

  134. Gorki

    correction:

    Please note Baba Farid was not a Mughal contemporary but there were others such as Surdas and Mira Bai. The argument does not change though..

  135. Raju Brother

    Gorki wrote:

    It is not; I repeat NOT, an alien transplant as you and some like rationalist etc. keep on implying.

    I consider, that there are many things in Indian Islam which have become fused with the soil of India – Urdu, poetry, qawwali, sufism, and much more. And India is proud of all that.

    But there is no room for political Islam, Sharia on criminal matters, discrimination against women (as per modern PoV), Wahhabism, intolerance against other faiths, ghettoisation in India, Jihad, etc.

    As far as these aspects of Islam are concerned, which are still taken for granted in Muslim communities in other Islamic countries, in India there is no place for these aspects of Islam.

    Islam as a personal religion is whole-heartedly welcome in India, and all the customs which overlap with those of other countries of West Asia are also welcome, but for the crap mentioned above, no Hindu in his right mind would accept that. All that is alien and would not be allowed to survive in India.

    India accepts that the Mughal dynasty starting from Akbar was an Indian ruling destiny and not an alien thing. Hindus don’t reject it. It is part of our history, upon which we can look with some favor, even though from today’s standards, much happened which is not to be condoned. But there is no rejection of the Mughals. The Mughals are a Hindustani dynasty. It however does not mean that Indians, at least the Hindus, will not despise Aurangzeb.

    Summarizing, Islam is an alien which has made Hindustan its home, and over-time it has become part of the Hindustani melting pot. Those aspects of Islam which developed in Hindustan, are of Hindustan. Those aspects which are alien but pose no threat to Hindustan, are welcome. Those aspects which challenge Hindustan’s core beliefs, need to be weeded out. Those Indian Muslims who accept that, are as much Indian as Indian can be. Those Indian Muslims who cannot live with that, can go take a hike.

    India will not be accepting 100% of Islam, but that what India can accept, India would accept it whole-heartedly and warmly.

    JMTs

    I don’t know how much of the above is relevant for Pakistan’s identity, but perhaps it could give Pakistan also an idea, that India or even Hindu India does not reject Pakistan just on the basis of religion.

  136. no-communal

    @Gorki
    ..and Gaudiya Vaishnavism of Chaitanya.

  137. no-communal

    @Raju Brother,
    If you don’t mind, why does “JMTs” crop up from time to time in your messages? What does it mean, if at all? Or is it some kind of a typing error ?

  138. Bin Ismail

    Evolving a stable and viable national identity requires harmony at all levels – between state and society, within the society itself and with neighbouring states. Friction along even one of these dimensions, will lead to the germination of a reactionary identity, an identity destined to be transient.

    The first step towards establishing harmony between state and society is a complete segregation of state and religion. The first step towards establishing harmony within the society is establishing equality among all citizens, irrespective of their religious, ethnic or political affiliations. The first step towards establishing harmony with neighbouring states is building a relationship upon and around commonalities.

    The mystic attitude, in contrast with the dogmatic attitude, helps in creating an atmosphere conducive to harmony. On the plane of mysticism, the focus begins to shift from the issues of mutual contention to issues of mutual contentment. One begins to rise above the platform of mere tolerance and learns to cheerfully accommodate difference and diversity with respect – yet without being hypocritical or condescending. Examples of such mystics can be found, in our history, among both commoners as well as royalty.

    What is important today, is the fact that peace within the society, peace between societies, and peace between nations is made achievable and possible. Today, the entire neighbourhood of this Subcontinent needs to work collectively towards translating this possibility into reality.

  139. Raju Brother

    no-communal wrote:

    If you don’t mind, why does “JMTs” crop up from time to time in your messages? What does it mean, if at all? Or is it some kind of a typing error ?

    JMTs == Just My Thoughts

    It is disclaimer to prevent others from assuming that one is arrogant enough to speak for the whole society, thus avoiding many brickbats.🙂

  140. Raju Brother

    @Bin Ismail

    Well said!

  141. Amit Kumar

    @Gorki
    @Raju Bhai:
    Dara Shikoh and all that fine.. but Pakistan is on two nation theory proposed by Jinah.. how do you reconcile these two.

    @Bin Ismail .. Excellent..

  142. Raju Brother

    Amit Kumar wrote:

    Dara Shikoh and all that fine.. but Pakistan is on two nation theory proposed by Jinah.. how do you reconcile these two.

    The two nation theory was a good instrument to get ‘autonomy’ for the Muslim majority areas in the Indian Subcontinent. It worked. Pakistan is reality. Its usefulness has been exhausted.

    Jinnah’s 11the August Speech and Dara Shikoh’s world view can very well show Pakistan the direction to move forward.

  143. Bade Miya

    Vajra,
    Let me first clarify that this thread was prompted by your hasty comment. As such, it’s tad disingenuous for you to suddenly back away and make noises that this or that has no relevance to the current topic. In the larger context, this is a tea house, figuratively speaking, and different point of views should be encouraged and discussed. I am sure moderators would have no problems in allowing a slightly longer thread on a seemingly tangential topic. Apart from my own desire to get the point across, a secondary aim was to point out to my countrymen, who every now and then advertise our secular structure, that of all the schools of antiquity, only Taxila, in modern day Pakistan, can claim to have a secular basis of education. I am not sure how this fits with the Indus man theory.
    Once again, my sincere thanks to the moderators.
    In subsequent posts, I shall address your points.

  144. Gorki

    Raju Bhai:

    ‘I consider, that there are many things in Indian Islam which have become fused with the soil of India – Urdu, poetry, qawwali, sufism, and much more. And India is proud of all that. But there is no room for political Islam, Sharia on criminal matters, discrimination against women (as per modern PoV),

    The sentiments behind your above statements are welcome but without the qualifiers. It is akin to saying Hinduism is welcome in India but without its caste system, the khap panchayats the dowry system etc.
    Like all other religion specific cultural practices there are things about Islam in South Asia that need to be reformed like the women’s bill etc. but that is the fight that we all citizens of a modern republic will have to fight; similar to say our battle against untouchability etc.

    The fact is that now, Islam itself is fused with the soil of India; period.

    As we discussed before, the Islam practiced in our land for the most part has been a simple, tolerant version. Once we accept that, the problems facing Islamic reformers today are our problems. We can not hope to solve those problems unless we understand the background and the current Hindustani Muslim mindset.

    Let us discuss the things that you find objectionable Wahhabism, intolerance against other faiths, ghettoisation in India, and Jihad; one by one. None of these are intrinsic to Islam, especially the Hindustani version; rather, they are the symptom of the malaise that has overtaken this great faith.

    Nehru mentioned that one of the benefits of the coming of Islam to India was that it opened up the Indian mind because the Islam mind had a transnational world view. It still has. Thus the Hindustani Muslim has been conditioned over the last two centuries by events local as well as international.
    In the Indian context, 1857 was a watershed; a symbolic defeat and death of the old order. Like to the old American South after the civil war; the future appeared harsh and uncertain. Like the Dixie Southerners, the Muslims met it first with a sullen rejection and only later made attempts to rejoin the national political process. Then came the WWI; and the shock of the Ottoman defeat; far away events but the trauma was felt by the large transnational minded Indian Muslim community. Thus under these two traumatic events several generations of Muslims grew up looking inward and isolated. In the 20s and the 30s Attempts were made by western educated liberal Muslims, notably by Jinnah himself to bring the community into the national mainstream by forge a common cause with the congress. Unfortunately the congress and Gandhi (perhaps in trying to balance the competing Maha Sabha pressures) complete misunderstood the anxieties of the community and instead of accommodating the progressive leadership, found it easier to ally itself with the conservative segments and in doing so turned away the very progressives that the community needed to come out of its sense of isolation. The partition further left the Hindustani Muslims (at least the Indian part) vulnerable and uncertain. The cumulative result of all these events on the Indian Muslim psyche has been the unfortunate sense of isolation that perhaps you label ‘ghettoism’. Indian Muslims due to their long history of cultural assimilation are not ‘intolerant of other faiths’.
    The ‘Jihadism’ especially of the violent variety, is a relatively new phenomenon and is more Pakistan centric. The internal dynamic of this has been discussed and continues to be discussed in excruciating detail by the Pakistanis themselves and you can read it elsewhere on the PTH. I will however add that Jihadism is not a doctrinal shift; rather it is a tactical response of the ‘angry Muslim youth’ worldwide to a series of international events such as repeated failure of the Western powers to act as an honest broker in Palestine.
    While the failure of the Islamic political leadership to evolve in line with the trends in the 20th century has a big role to play in the frustration of the youth; the failures of the Bush administration and its missteps in Iraq and elsewhere coupled with the xenophobic hysteria of a segment of Americans have left Muslims around the world feeling that they are under siege. Hopefully such trends will be short lived and will not do any permanent damage.
    In India itself, there are secret attempts being made even as we speak to try to sort out the Babri Masjid mess through mediation involving the community leaders. If indeed the Indian politicians can pull something like this off to everyone’s satisfaction, it will go a long way to forge a sense belonging among the Muslims. It is partly up to the Muslims leadership to help them become more involved in the national life but it is also up to all non Muslims to signal to them that Islam is an Indian faith and the challenges faced by it are Indian challenges; no qualifiers are necessary beyond that.

    BTW, thanks for the reply to Amit on the TNT. I agree with you.

    Regards.

  145. Gorki

    sorry for the horrible typos; the sense is clear though.

  146. @Bade Miya

    You are wrong, as usual. Two posts, one since deleted, the other on exhibit, diverted the topic away, senselessly. The excerpt below is the beginning of the second post; it contains an extract from the first.

    Gorki
    August 26, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    “I don’t know how Pakistanis feel about this, but the first Battle of Muslim Ideology between Islamic Extremism and Muslim Liberalism was fought between Aurangzeb and Dara Shikoh, the sons of Shah Jahan, the Mughal Emperor!”

  147. Bade Miya

    Vajra,
    I shall also address your personal remarks, but first the main points:

    Before I start let me outline the main issue(from my point of view) of debate:
    You mentioned that Vedanta or Tantrism had rooted out other schools of philosophy. I had objection to the expression, “rooted out.”

    “but both date from approximately the same very broad historical time-window, around 600 AD (loosely speaking) for Tantrism, from 800 AD onwards for the destruction of non-Vedanta schools. ”

    I had reservation with the term destruction. It implied that somehow there was a concerted effort to take out the other schools of thought. That is highly speculative. I had issues with the dates you wrote, not to mention that very tenuous theory you have constructed.

    The central point I was trying to convey was that the other schools of thought were the preserve of a very select intellectual domain and were never very popular in the first place. There was no rooting out or destruction. Vedanta had existed side by side with other schools of thought since time immemorial. It was under Sankara, however, that it gained intellectual ascendancy over other schools. In the intellectual domain, however, the other schools still existed. That is the reason why I gave references to Nalanda and Vikramshila that were, by no means, Vedantic schools. In fact, till the destruction of Nalanda, it was the classical Buddhist thought that held sway. Some commentators even call Sankara as a crypto-Buddhist. In my view, therefore, your dates were all jumbled up. The demise of Buddhism later on was due to a mixture of other factors. Sankara’s Vedantic revival was only a distant reason.

    I admit I was hasty in interpreting your context of Al Beruni the first time. The second time, however, I had taken your objection into account. Al Beruni mentions other schools of thought. If they were in decline or rooted out, he would have written about it; he mentions some other schools of thought(especially Buddhists) that had become extinct. Al Beruni was no mean scholar. It is highly unlikely that he would have omitted such a detail, especially when bulk of his contacts were with learned men. Huein Tsang did mention the decline of Buddhism on his travels.

    “That one was Shaktisribhadra, or Shakyasribhadra, a very eminent monk in his own right,”

    That, presumably, was ferreted from “canonical” works(your euphemism for wikipedia.) I am beginning to notice that a lot of your arguments are built on the text at wikipedia.

    “WTF? Tantric thinking was almost full developed by Gupta times. It influenced almost all extant schools then, Buddhism and Hinduism taken alike.”

    Refer pg.337, “The Wonder That Was India”:
    “The remarkable “black mass” of the tantric sects, whether in Buddhism or Hinduism, became very popular in Eastern India in the late medieval period. It is still sometimes practiced, but quite without publicity…”

    That is what I meant by “place” in my statement, “I guess it depends on the place you are talking about. ”
    I’ll leave you to sort out what the late medieval period means.

    ” And what does Vikramashila have to do with it, or its dates? It flourished then, in the 12th century, but it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t fully explicated earlier, during the 6th or 7th centuries.”

    That I admit was lazy on my part. I mentioned Vikramshila because you always refer to Tantric Buddhism/Hinduism as something that the classical Buddhism/Hinduism “degenerate” into. I wanted to emphasize that they were not necessarily devoid of depth of thought.

    “For Vedanta flourishing after 800 AD, I’ll give you a hint and put you out of your misery. Think Shankara.”

    That was gratuitous. Every kid knows about Sankaracharya and his famed debate with Mandan Mishra.

    “This is a better review of the situation than “the one connected with atheism was always a select group”.”

    I frankly didn’t remember the other schools of thought and avoided reproducing them verbatim from a reference to reduce clutter and distraction from the focus of the argument.

    “but not under tutoring in the past, and that the word ‘wide’ applies, rather than ‘deep’.
    All the five schools other than Vedanta are dead today, although Yoga ”

    I guess that renowned tutoring failed to drill into your head that there were six schools of thought, not five. I beg your pardon, though; I guess ‘deep’ learning has a different connotation when one converses with management graduates. (ref. pg 323, “The Wonder …”)

    “Nothing to do with my arguments, or your strange distortions of them. ”

    That was just to buttress my initial point about the Tantric school not lacking in depth.

    Rest of your post is puffed up with the usual garbage generously described by Gorki as dog poop. This time, however, you have also dispensed with the silverware. One hopes you desist from indulging in such amateur sarcasm.

    Thank you,
    Sincerely,
    Chote Miyan

  148. @Bade Miya

    Your arguments are still full of mistakes. Every single point that you have made in your last post is erroneous. With no exceptions except one where the matter is ambiguous.

    I have already made it clear that I will refuse to discuss this further on PTH. You are free to create your own forum – “no communal” seems to have vanished – or to sit and twiddle your thumbs.

    It is seldom that I have come across someone so earnest and well-meaning and so dense at the same time. A pity.

  149. Raju Brother

    @Gorki

    One cannot have one’s cake and east it too.

    One the one hand, you claim that Islam is transnational, while on the other hand you claim that the ‘malaise’ of Islam is not to intrinsic to India.

    Hindu society has been a carrier of many ills, most important untouchability. That problem is being dealt with. I’ve not aware of any major movements in the past century or so, which have been in favor of prolonging or promoting these social ills. But Hinduism is native to the land of Bharat, and as such Bharat can deal with that, in fact it is primarily Bharat’s responsibility to deal with that – at every level – legal, social, cultural, religious and ideological. So the ills of Hindu society are indeed being amputated away from Hinduism and society. With the years, the ills are being beaten back.

    Islam’s ills are both in the scriptures of the religion or derive from the Arab society, which itself is given high respect, Arab society being the birthplace of the scriptures. Most of what is wrong – Jihadism, intolerance of other faiths, status of women – is INTERPRETABLE as being part and parcel of Islam.

    Secondly you claim that Islam is ‘transnational’. So the solutions of the ills cannot be local. The ‘Variable Interpretability of Islam’ would allow the vices in again.

    This does not mean that Indian Muslims have no choice. It is not a choice between Jihad or Conversion. They have to find a compromise on this issue of the ability of transnational vices to creep in into the Indian Muslim society. They have to make their Islam impervious to ‘transnational’ INTERPRETATIONS, which are not in conformance with Hindustani Islamic tradition. The Iranians have been able to establish such a firewall through Shi’ism. Indian Muslims still have a long way to go in this direction.

    Transnationalism poses another challenge. Indian Muslims simply cannot go ahead and forge an Indian Foreign Policy on their own, separate from the Indian Establishment. Humanism interests and National interests have to come first. However with Humanism interests, Indian Muslims too cannot exercise discrimination. Either they have to consistently be vocal about and stand up for human rights and sovereign rights of all people, which includes Muslims the world over, and sometimes against other Muslims, as the case may be, or they have to let go of their transnational sympathies for other Muslims.

    it is also up to all non Muslims to signal to them that Islam is an Indian faith and the challenges faced by it are Indian challenges; no qualifiers are necessary beyond that.

    Qualifiers cannot be avoided. The Variable Interpretability of Islam, some INTERPRETATIONS highly inimical to Indian social harmony makes those qualifiers unavoidable.

    It is up to the Indian Muslims to rethink the transnationalism aspects of their faith, bring forth an hardened interpretation of Islam, calling it Indian Islam, and only then can the rest of India too call it Indian, without qualifiers.

    There is very little the non-Muslims can do in this regard.

  150. Bin Ismail

    @ Raju Brother (August 29, 2010 at 8:58 pm)

    “…..Islam’s ills are both in the scriptures of the religion or derive from the Arab society…..”

    The ills perceived as Islam’s, are in reality the ills of a dominance seeking and politically oriented clergy. The days of the Spanish Inquisition, that still haunt the conscience of the Church, were the days when the Church sought to retain its ascendancy over the state. Most of the Muslim clergy today, has political aspirations, and is thus inclined to interpret Islam in a way that lends to it greater leverage and authority over the masses.

  151. no-communal

    @Raju Brother
    “Islam’s ills are both in the scriptures of the religion or derive from the Arab society, which itself is given high respect, Arab society being the birthplace of the scriptures.”

    Many ills of Hinduism can also be sourced to the scriptures, e.g., Manusmriti. Same with other major religions. It’s unfair to single Islam out for non-conformity of its scriptures with changing times. What Islam has lacked, however, are fearless reformers also clever enough not to branded apostate.

  152. Gorki

    Thank you Bin Ismail, no communal. I have been trying to make the same points.
    I would like to add that reformers are facing a hard time today because the community collectively has a siege mentality due to the international environment and the xenophobic impression given by the many in the usually liberal western world.

    Raju Bhai:

    ‘It is up to the Indian Muslims to rethink the transnationalism aspects of their faith, bring forth an hardened interpretation of Islam, calling it Indian Islam, and only then can the rest of India too call it Indian, without qualifiers……’

    The Indian Muslim has been doing just that, since the days Dara Shikoh and Mian Meer. Please check out the following quote from a respected Indian Islamic scholar:

    “India is great in many ways but its greatest uniqueness lies in the fact that it is a confluence of almost all the world’s religions and, for that reason, a potential model for universal brotherhood,”
    -Maulana Abdul Karim Parekh 2007.

    Regards.

  153. Raju Brother

    no-communal wrote:

    Many ills of Hinduism can also be sourced to the scriptures, e.g., Manusmriti. Same with other major religions. It’s unfair to single Islam out for non-conformity of its scriptures with changing times. What Islam has lacked, however, are fearless reformers also clever enough not to branded apostate.

    Yeah, but Hindus can choose and pick, what they want to believe in. Hindus can throw out any part of the scripture they don’t like out of the window. A scripture can lose its potency and completely go out of the faith system. In fact one speaks of Dharmic quest, a quest for Truth, and not an absolute obedience to some truth prepared in advance.

    That is not quite so in Islam. There is little one can change in the original, and there is limited room for improvisation in interpretability.

    I am not being judgemental about which is the better religion, except that there is a lot more flexibility in the Hindu belief system, and hence adaptability to changing times.

    It is what I think. Others may think otherwise.

  154. Raju Brother

    Bin Ismail wrote:

    The ills perceived as Islam’s, are in reality the ills of a dominance seeking and politically oriented clergy. The days of the Spanish Inquisition, that still haunt the conscience of the Church, were the days when the Church sought to retain its ascendancy over the state. Most of the Muslim clergy today, has political aspirations, and is thus inclined to interpret Islam in a way that lends to it greater leverage and authority over the masses.

    A few points, I’d like to point out –
    1) The clergy, for good or for bad, IS part of Islam.

    2) In India, the Muslims are a minority, and there are hardly any prospects of that changing any time soon. So the question of political power does not arise. Of course, they can act as the wielders of vote banks, but in a democracy that is not their sole preserve.

    In India, there is a suitable environment for the clergy to push through an Indian interpretation of Islam, giving them far more control over the Indian Muslim masses, just as the Iranian Shias look towards Shi’ite clergy for religious advice and support. But as it is, the Indian Muslim clergy are themselves dimwits and happy to listen to Arab clergy and get directions from them.

  155. Raju Brother

    Gorki wrote:

    The Indian Muslim has been doing just that, since the days Dara Shikoh and Mian Meer.

    All power to them, but they still have a long way to go.

    Islam is okay with me, but I find it strange that many converted Muslims in other countries have to forsake their own pre-Islamic cultures and take up the customs and traditions of Arabs.

  156. androidguy

    @Raju Bhaiyya,

    “..In India, the Muslims are a minority, and there are hardly any prospects of that changing any time soon. So the question of political power does not arise…”

    Question: Does being a minority & having political power have to be mutually exclusive?

  157. no-communal

    @Raju Brother
    “Yeah, but Hindus can choose and pick, what they want to believe in. Hindus can throw out any part of the scripture they don’t like out of the window. A scripture can lose its potency and completely go out of the faith system.”

    I agree with you in broad terms. However, this flexibility you speak of did not come in a day. Ram Mohan Roy faced stiff resistance to abolishment of Sati. Vidyasagar received many death threats (and had personal body guards) proving widow remarriage or female education were allowed in Hindism. There were others from the other parts who also went ahead with reforms fearlessly. Even the Hindu code bill faced extremely stiff resistance after independence, so much so that Ambedkar had to resign. However, despite the opposition, Hindus have had the time, space, and freedom of mind to continue with the reforms according to the evolution of the world. Muslims, on the other hand, have not had this freedom of mind. At least in the Indian and Pakistani context, they have been suffering from the seige mentality Gorki speaks of from long time ago, not just now.

    But I also see your point about having a single pre-eminent source superseding everything else, which does create road blocks to any meaningful reform.

  158. Hola

    @android guy

    What you are talking about is social intertia which is present in every society. Reformers of all religions have to face threats.

    However Holy Quran is the word of God Himself as communicated to his LAST Prophet and thus immutable. There is no way around it.

    It can be interpreted in different manners after an individual reads it. However most of the Muslims on the subcontinent are illiterate. Also those who are educated are too busy doing thier jobs or are just plain lazy to read it. This increases the importance of Mullah class who are required to “guide” these poor fellows in being “good” Muslims. Obviously knowingly or unknowingly they interpret HK in conservative and orthodox manner.

  159. Amit Kumar

    @no-communal
    @Gorki
    @Raju Brother
    @Bin Ismail

    All you guys are excellent. I read some old blogs published on PTH after Mumbai attack. What ever i read it was about conditions of Muslims in India. How bad they are and regular slogans. so some how justifying that india deserve this.. These things no longer surprises me..but even by so called ‘liberal’ PTH was in the same category.

    How can you describe such discourse with the identity of Pakistan or Pakistanis? Having first abandoned the musilms of the rest part of India and then what happened to the Bengali muslims.

  160. no-communal

    @Hola
    “It can be interpreted in different manners after an individual reads it. However most of the Muslims on the subcontinent are illiterate. Also those who are educated are too busy doing thier jobs or are just plain lazy to read it. This increases the importance of Mullah class who are required to “guide” these poor fellows in being “good” Muslims.”

    You will have to excuse me if my reference point is Bengal again, because that’s the social struggle I know best. At least in the 19th century, when most of the Hindu social reforms took place in Bengal (abolishment of Sati, child marriage, polygamy, and introduction of widow remarriage, female education etc.), educated Bengali Hindus looked at British rule not too unfavorably. To them this was just another foreign occupation, only the new (British) one with more established rule of law. This allowed them to reform the Hindu personal laws more or less in the image of the European ones. Muslims, on the other hand, looked at British rule in much more unfavorable terms. To them, this was loss of governing power, and they suffered from the seige mentality. They lost about a 100 years in the process. Again, I am saying all this in the context of the subcontinent.

    You say that the Koran can be interpreted differently. However, no eminent muslim seems to have done it successfully. I think aversion to European power is at least one reason.

  161. Amit Kumar

    @Raju Brother
    August 29, 2010 at 9:55 am
    Thanks for your reply.

    You are suggesting that the usefulness ‘two nation theory’ has been exhausted and now Pakistan should move towards “Jinnah’s 11the August Speech and Dara Shikoh’s world view”.

    I think for that kind of thinking you need a considerable minority. Hindus and Sikhs are almost eliminated and few Chirstans are there. So how can you re-start such a liberal movement?

    Much water has flown from the Indus river after Jinnah’s 11the August Speech. Recently i watched Zaid Hamid’s video and top fashion designers, rock stars and top university students were applauding him for his Gazwa-e-Hind speech and his open abuse to other religions. Shocking indeed.

    I think we have moved towards different directions. I was a “aman ki assha” fan now i doubt it will succeed. India better protect herself. and get out of this view that “some pakistani” is in all of us and “some indian” is in all pakistani.. wishful thinking does not help.

    Best wishes to my Pakistani Brothers..
    Happy Ramadan and enjoy Ifthar parties

  162. no-communal

    Another reason was that Islam was a foreign implant and transnational. Indian muslims did not feel empowered to reform it. Hinduism, on the other hand, was indigenous, so the native population could pick and choose with authority. Both factors played a role.

  163. no-communal

    @Vajra

    “You are wrong, as usual. Two posts, one since deleted, the other on exhibit, diverted the topic away, senselessly. The excerpt below is the beginning of the second post; it contains an extract from the first.

    Gorki
    August 26, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    “I don’t know how Pakistanis feel about this, but the first Battle of Muslim Ideology between Islamic Extremism and Muslim Liberalism was fought between Aurangzeb and Dara Shikoh, the sons of Shah Jahan, the Mughal Emperor!”

    Vajra, I don’t see why you call the above statement irrelevant to the topic. Assuming an average muslim Pakistani won’t suddenly become secular in the sense a Norwegian is, a sensible thing to do would be to introduce a tolerant, syncretistic version of islam. Dara can be an ideal role model for that purpose. Of course, a Hindu Indian can contribute nothing to this in real terms, but a Muslim Indian can. Besides, what’s wrong in pointing out the existence of such a model?

  164. Bade Miya

    Vajra,
    A pity indeed. Anyways, you can think whatever you want.

  165. Raju Brother

    no-communal wrote:

    Muslims, on the other hand, have not had this freedom of mind. At least in the Indian and Pakistani context, they have been suffering from the seige mentality Gorki speaks of from long time ago, not just now.

    Gorki wrote:

    the failures of the Bush administration and its missteps in Iraq and elsewhere coupled with the xenophobic hysteria of a segment of Americans have left Muslims around the world feeling that they are under siege.

    Gorki gave several examples of Muslims being under siege. However in all these examples what strikes me, are three things:

    a) If anything was threatened in India, it was not the sanctity of life, property, and right to faith of the Muslim, only their political supremacy over others.

    b) If the political supremacy of the Muslims in India, was challenged by Hindus in India during the British times or at the time of Partition, it was done through political and peaceful means, and not through aggressive postures and military means.

    c) If the collapse of the Ottoman Empire or Bush’s wars in Iraq and elsewhere have caused a trauma to the Indian Muslims, it is not because of the British or Bush or other external agents, but rather because the Indian Muslims accede to transnationalism. They need a firewall around their mind, a helmet around their heads.

  166. @Bade Miya
    @no communal

    Please note: there is sufficient material to discuss and to delve into. I made it clear I thought it tangential to the theme. There is a lot to be said on that as well, but saying it here is self-contradictory. Again, I renew my offer to Bade Miya: on any mailing list created for the purpose, and ideally with you and no communal both on it, I am more than willing to explain at great length, much more than is possible or is desirable here, my views in general and my conclusions in this discussion in particular.

    We could start on Wednesday; the book draft delivery will most probably take place today, if any clean-ups are needed, it may take a day more, and I am through with dated commitments then.

    Getting me involved again through the back door, by putting up a fresh look at the basic premise, is not on. It may be unintentional, even well-intentioned, on the part of ‘no communal’, but it would be illogical on mine to respond here.

  167. AA khalid

    I really am getting tired of this ill informed and irrational mantra of the notion that there are no Muslim reformers.

    That is pure nonsense, Professor John Esposito of Georgetown University, USA just released his new book ”The Future of Islam”, where he gives the names of many Muslim intellectuals who speak out and call for reform within the tradition.

    There are just so many books detailing this phenomenon:

    Charles Kuzman’s two brilliant anthologies and other outstanding work:

    ”Liberal Islam” and ”Modernist Islam”.
    ”An Islamic Reformation? ”

    Esposito’s:

    ”Future of Islam”

    ”Who Speaks For Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think ”

    AbdolKarim Soroush:

    ”Reason, Freedom and Democracy in Islam”

    Tariq Ramadan:

    ”Radical Reform”

    Hourani:

    ”Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age ”

    Nasr Abu Hamid Zayd:

    ” Reformation of Islamic Thought: A Critical Historical Analysis ”

    Abdullahi An Naim:

    ”Islam and the Secular State”
    ”Towards An Islamic Reformation”

    Reza Aslan:

    ”No God but God – The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam”

    Roberson:

    ”Shaping the Current Islamic Reformation ”

    Abu Rabi:

    ”The Blackwell Companion to Contemporary Islamic Thought ”

    ”Contemporary Arab Thought: Studies in Post-1967 Arab Intellectual History”

    Mohammad Arkoun:

    ”Rethinking Islam: Common Questions, Uncommon Answers ”

    ”Islam: To Reform or to Subvert?”

    Khaled Abou El Fadl:

    ”The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists”

    ”And God Knows the Soldiers: The Authoritative and Authoritarian in Islamic Discourses”

    ”Speaking in God’s Name: Islamic Law, Authority and Women”

    Omid Safi:

    ”Progressive Muslims: On Justice, Gender, and Pluralism”

    Mernissi:

    ”The Veil And The Male Elite: A Feminist Interpretation Of Women’s Rights In Islam ”

    Shireen Hunter:

    ”Reformist Voices of Islam: Mediating Islam and Modernity ”

    Mehran Kamrava’s new brilliant anthology of Muslim writings:

    ”The New Voices of Islam: Rethinking Politics and Modernity–A Reader”

    Farouki:

    ”Modern Muslim Intellectuals and the Qur’an ”

    Cooper, Nettler, Mahmoud’s anthology:

    ”Islam and Modernity: Muslim Intellectuals Respond ”

    Muhammad Khalid Masud:

    ”Islam and Modernity: Key Issues and Debates ”

    If anyone wants more material let me know, because quiet frankly its a shame that many Indian posters comment on such issues without so much as picking an ”Islam for Dummies” textbook, judging by the quality of the discussion I have seen so far…

    These are just a few examples, there are countless more examples. There is a whole literature of Muslim reformist thought. I would love for someone to point to a similar discourse in Hinduism….(I haven’t found a comparable discourse at all)

    Frankly, speaking there is great intellectual ferment happening across the Muslim World, and if you can’t see it then that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. There is a great amount being written and produced by Muslim intellectuals, just open your eyes and broaden your horizons.

  168. Raju Brother

    Many do write but what effect does it have on the street, in the GHQ, amongst the Ulema? – Nothing.

    Those writers are writing for the Muslim intellectuals, interested middle class middle-aged and retired men, Western audiences.

    Muslim Liberalism is good at producing lots of print, which again generates print, enough print to make print come out of the windows of the Muslim Liberalism High Tower.

    The dynamics of power – street power, vested interests, power over the masses, military power, geopolitical power tussles, all based on Muslim identity, Islamism, etc. have absolutely no bridge to the writings of the Muslim Liberals. They have no following amongst the masses. The society is not buying.

    So keep on producing Print and Westerners would keep on inviting ‘Muslim Experts’ to make sense of Anger and Barbarity, trying to make sense of the Irrational, but never succeeding!

    All that print is an industry, having little to do with the dynamics of evolution of Muslim society in all those ‘excited’ countries.

    Those who live in books may miss out on the reality.

  169. AA khalid

    @RB

    No not at all. According to the findings of the Gallup Poll, the most comprehensive survey of Muslim opinion ever taken headed by Professor Esposito, who later summarised and commented on the findings in his book ”Who Speaks For Islam”, there is strong empirical evidence that Muslim societies wish for greater freedom, liberty, democratization, human rights, pluralism and wish for greater reinterpretation of the religion.

    You can find more at the Gallup Centre for Muslim Studies and its many publications based on empirical and sociological field research.

    According to the Gallup Poll, most Muslim societies recognize the need for reform. Also according to a report by the USIP, ”At least 750 million Muslims live in democratic societies of one kind or another”.

    Hence to say that the ideas of Muslim liberals have no audience is again symptomatic of your ignorance on the matter. There is strong empirical evidence to suggest otherwise. There is an audience in the Muslim World which is willing to listen and take on board some of the ideas Muslim reformists propose.

    Also the problem seems to hinge on education aswell rather than faith as such. For example a recent paper, ‘Do Education and Income Affect Support for Democracy in Muslim Countries? Evidence from the Pew Global Attitudes Project’, concluded that, “Holding all else constant and compared to not finishing primary education, this study finds that secondary education and higher education encourage support for democracy” in Muslim countries.

    There is no replacement and no subsitute for good hard scholarship…..

  170. Hola

    @ AA khalid

    Have any of these Muslim reformers talked about reforming/amending Holy Quran ?

  171. Raju Brother

    @AA Khalid,

    There is no replacement and no subsitute for good hard scholarship…..

    I wonder how many of those hard scholars become the PM or President of one of those countries needing help, or reach any position of influence.

    We will talk when Muslim majority countries actually implement those liberal provisions!

    Perhaps you would like to list some ‘liberal’ minded legislations which have been introduced in Muslim countries, and which are being implemented. A comparison with ‘Islam-faithful’ legislation passed and implemented would be useful.

    Perhaps the ‘fatwas’ should also be taken into consideration!

    The fact is that there is a lot of yearning amongst the Muslims the world over for reforms and freedom in their societies, but they are not driving the train, so the silent majority doesn’t really matter.

  172. AA Khalid

    @RB

    I think you’re grasp of the democratization process is quiet poor. Historical studies indicate that the democratization process in Europe took centuries, and multiple social dynamics and economic factors played a part.

    However, what stands out are the intellectual foundations for democratization laid down by the Enlightenment thinkers and the general discourse that inspired. Jonathan Israel’s two studies of history on the Enlightenment is simply breath taking. Robert Dahl the American political theorist and John Rawls also detail this.

  173. Raju Brother

    @AA Khalid,

    I’m afraid you overlook Islamic exceptionalism in the democratization debate.

    Just before the Iranian revolution, there were many well meaning moderates who just wanted to get rid of the monarchical dictatorship, but in the end, they all ended up in a far more suffocating environment.

    The secularism, Ba’athism, democracy, military dictatorship, West-friendly monarchies, that one sees today in Muslim countries, are all a consequence of colonial suppression of Islamist tendencies, and Western dominance in the World Order.

    As the colonial memory rapidly recedes into history and generations change in the Muslim World, the lid on Islamic urges is coming off, e.g. Pakistani people’s confidence in their British-influenced political system is wearing thin.

    Modern communications – TV and Internet are also demystifying the power of the White Man, and bringing Muslims closer together and closer to their faith also – in the process strengthening both Islamist tendencies and Liberalist tendencies.

    All this means is that both evolutionary processes as well as revolutionary tendencies are definitely in favor of Islamist power, and against Western constructs such as democracy, secularism, equal rights for minorities, emancipation of women, liberalism. Hezbollah, Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood, are all examples of society turning to Islamism.

    Islamists are far more organized, motivated and financed than Liberals will ever be. They control the street.

    So Liberalism is a pipe dream for Muslim majority countries. Exception to the rule could be Bangladesh and Indonesia. In India the pull of the mainstream would suck in the Indian Muslims into a more liberal outlook.

    The prospects for Liberalism in Pakistan are between dim and nil.

  174. no-communal

    @khalid
    “If anyone wants more material let me know, because quiet frankly its a shame that many Indian posters comment on such issues without so much as picking an ”Islam for Dummies” textbook”

    How many of these books are from just scholars, and how many from the religious leaders? It is the second set of authors, if any, that make any difference. Moreover, how many of the books are in English and how many in Arabic, Urdu etc.? Again, it’s books in the native language that are important, the others are for scholarly consumption in universities that nobody cares about. I would even say that books themselves are unimportant; the religious leaders, courts, legislators, etc. speaking up is what really counts.

    There was one prominent Pakistani religious leader who gave a detailed fatwa against suicide bombing. Where are fatwas against polygamy, child marriage, discrimination, the everyday issues? That is reform, and I for one will be very interested to know about them.

  175. AA khalid

    ”Just before the Iranian revolution, there were many well meaning moderates who just wanted to get rid of the monarchical dictatorship, but in the end, they all ended up in a far more suffocating environment.

    The secularism, Ba’athism, democracy, military dictatorship, West-friendly monarchies, that one sees today in Muslim countries, are all a consequence of colonial suppression of Islamist tendencies, and Western dominance in the World Order.”

    So far I agree with you.

    ”As the colonial memory rapidly recedes into history and generations change in the Muslim World, the lid on Islamic urges is coming off, e.g. Pakistani people’s confidence in their British-influenced political system is wearing thin”’

    Here I disagree, I think we overstate and exaggerate the colonial influence. Today’s generation of Muslim citizens do not have the memory of colonization. Interestingly, your comment on Pakistan does not match the rigorous empirical data from the Gallup Poll.

    ”Modern communications – TV and Internet are also demystifying the power of the White Man, and bringing Muslims closer together and closer to their faith also – in the process strengthening both Islamist tendencies and Liberalist tendencies.”

    I agree, but what we can agree on is that because of mass communication and indeed mass education the scope and influence of the clergy will wane and will start to recede. The average Muslim/Christian/Hindu or whoever now can simply go online and have unprecedented access to a wealth of religious texts and scholarship which before used to be the exclusive property of the clergy. This will have and has had great epistemological effects.

    ”All this means is that both evolutionary processes as well as revolutionary tendencies are definitely in favor of Islamist power, and against Western constructs such as democracy, secularism, equal rights for minorities, emancipation of women, liberalism. Hezbollah, Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood, are all examples of society turning to Islamism.”

    Those are isolated incidents only in the Middle East little to do with the processes you mentioned and more to do with the Arab-Israeli conflict. Two of the organizations you mentioned were established only in the last two decades or so. The Muslim Brotherhood is now moderating its message, as seen by the deep fissures and faultines in its leadership. There is now a liberal wing, which is open towards minorities, women’s rights and democratization, in the new Wasat Party formed in Egypt. It is now clear that there is a reformist current within the Brotherhood which has emerged and there is also a conservative wing.

    Charles Kurzman in the article (Do Muslims Vote Islamic? – freely available for download) in the Journal of Democracy makes it clear:

    ”when Muslims are given the opportunity to vote freely for Islamic parties, they have tended not to
    do so.” (the article makes use of several statistical and empirical studies)

    Furthermore, the ideas of democracy and rights can be universal. Abdulaziz Sachedina a prominent Muslim intellectual shows this clearly in his workm ”Islamic Roots of Democratic Pluralism” and ”Islam and the Challenge of Human Rights”.

    These political movements are not monolithic at all. They are diverse. The Centre for Islam and Democracy, has many reports and publications freely available to download that show this. Also recently a new book came out ”Islamism – Contested Perspectives” which tries to shed greater analytical light on this phenomenon.

    Furthermore, we should understand there is a difference betweeen radicals and extremists, and those who are simply conservative. I do not use the word Islamist because it doesn’t mean anything. What are you talking about? Are you talking about the AKP in Turkey or the Taliban? I think we should use more conventional political categories, and the fact is that with time Islamists will moderate themselves because that’s the nature of electoral politics. There is an inevitable pragmatism that is needed to succeed and gain political power.

    All in all your comments still do not match up with the empirical and sociological research which has been carried out.

    A great study on political Islam by Graham Fuller – ”The Future of Political Islam ”, concludes that there will be and there is quiet clearly a conservative-liberal split in Islamism, (for instance liberals such as Rashid Al Ghannouchi and Abdurrahman Wahid) (note that both forms will reject violence outright), we may also see a shift towards the left aswell from some actors.

  176. AA khalid

    ”How many of these books are from just scholars, and how many from the religious leaders?”

    What religious leaders? Most studies on Muslim societies such as ”New Media in the Muslim World” show that there is a new generation of religious intellectuals which are taking over the mantle of interpretation from clerical authorities in most Muslim societies.

    Furthermore, if you are asking for reform from clerical authorities you are sadly mistaken. Hindu priests, Catholic popes, Jewish rabbis still to this hold to the most regressive opinions when it comes to social affairs. Traditional religious authorities can only be pragmatic they never willingly liberalise or modernise. The best we can hope for is pragmatism from clerical authorities.

    However, religious authority isn’t that great a problem for two great world religions, Islam and Protestant Christianity. These traditions have historically had decentralised and weaker structures of religious authority.

    Your point about language is important, but if you cared to go through the list you will find English studies on ARABIC works by Arab intellectuals, i.e. commentaries detailing the Arab discourse. Or for instance the Indonesian religious discourse or Iranian discourse.

    AbdolKarim Soroush writes all his work in Persian. Khaled Abou El Fadl’s work gets translated into Arabic. Iran is famous for its philosophical discourse which has been consistently a dissenting voice, frequently works in English are translated into Persian.

    All this makes sense because look at the Gallup Poll. The Gallup Poll indicates the widespread influence of ideas of liberty, democracy and rights spread by the literature of religious intellectuals and some liberalising clerics (for instance in Iran the late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri).

    The Gallup Poll is your most conclusive proof of the widespread acceptance of the ideals of democracy liberty and rights in Muslim societies.

  177. AA khalid

    Since I cannot include url links, let me quote you Eickleman’s article ”The Coming Transformation of the Muslim World”.

    PS @ no communal – Many publications I included were anthologies of Muslim intellectuals or were commentaries on their work. Hence their relevence is particularly important and pressing. The work I quoted ”New Voices of Islam” is particularly important as it includes works from Muslim intellectuals in Iran, Egypt, Indonesia etc.

    ”Debating the Fundamentals of Muslim Belief and Practice

    Like the printing press in sixteenth-century Europe, the combination of mass education and mass communications is transforming the Muslim majority world, a broad geographical crescent stretching from North Africa through Central Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and the Indonesian archipelago. In unprecedentedly large numbers, the faithful — whether in the vast cosmopolitan city of Istanbul, the suburbs of Paris, or in the remote oases of Oman’s mountainous interior — are examining and debating the fundamentals of Muslim belief and practice in ways that their less self-conscious predecessors in the faith would never have imagined.

    Buzzwords such as “fundamentalism,” and catchy phrases such as Samuel Huntington’s “West versus Rest” or Daniel Lerner’s “Mecca or mechanization,” are of little use in understanding this transformation. They obscure or even distort the immense spiritual and intellectual ferment that is taking place today among the world’s nearly one billion Muslims, reducing it in most cases to a fanatical rejection of everything modern, liberal, or progressive. To be sure, such fanaticism — not exclusive to Muslim majority societies — plays a part in what is happening, but it is far from the whole story.

    A far more important element is the unprecedented access that ordinary people now have to sources of information and knowledge about religion and other aspects of their society. Quite simply, in country after country, government officials, traditional religious scholars, and officially sanctioned preachers are finding it very hard to monopolize the tools of literate culture. The days have gone when governments and religious authorities can control what their people know, and what they think.

    Mass Higher Education and Communication

    What distinguishes the present era from prior ones is the large numbers of believers engaged in the “reconstruction” of religion, community, and society. In an earlier era, political or religious leaders would prescribe, and others were supposed to follow. Today, the major impetus for change in religious and political values comes from below. In France, this has meant an identity shift from being Muslim in France to being French Muslim. In Turkey, it means that an increasing number of Turks, especially those of the younger generation, see themselves as European and Muslim at the same time. And some Iranians argue that the major transformations of the Iranian revolution occurred not in 1978-79 but with the coming of age of a new generation of Iranians who were not even born at the time of the revolution. These transformations include a greater sense of autonomy for both women and men and the emergence of a public sphere in which politics and religion are subtly intertwined, and not always in ways anticipated by Iran’s formal religious leaders.

    If “modernity” is defined as the emergence of new kinds of public space, including new possible spaces not imagined by preceding generations, then developments in France, Turkey, Iran, Indonesia, and elsewhere suggest that we are living through an era of profound social transformation for the Muslim majority world

    Distinctive to the modern era is that discourse and debate about Muslim tradition involves people on a mass scale. It also necessarily involves an awareness of other Muslim and non-Muslim traditions. Mass education and mass communication in the modern world facilitate an awareness of the new and unconventional. In changing the style and scale of possible discourse, they reconfigure the nature of religious thought and action, create new forms of public space, and encourage debate over meaning.

    Mass education and mass communications are important in all contemporary world religions. However, the full effects of mass education, especially higher education, only began to be felt in much of the Muslim world since mid-century and in many countries considerably later. In country after country — including Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, and Indonesia — educational opportunities have dramatically expanded at all levels. Even where adult illiteracy rates in the general populace remain high, as in rural Egypt and Morocco, there is now a critical mass of educated people able to read, think for themselves, and react to religious and political authorities rather than just listen to them. Women’s access to education still lags behind that of men, although the gap is rapidly closing in many countries.

    Both mass education and mass communications, particularly the proliferation of media and the means by which people communicate, have had a profound effect on how people think about religion and politics throughout the Muslim world. Multiple means of communication make the unilateral control of information and opinion much more difficult than it was in prior eras and foster, albeit inadvertently, a civil society of dissent. We are still in the early stages of understanding how different media — including print, television, radio, cassettes, and music — influence groups and individuals, encouraging unity in some contexts and fragmentation in others, but a few salient features may be sketched.

    At the “high” end of this transformation is the rise to significance of books such as al-Kitab wa-l-Qur’an [The Book and the Qur’an] (1992), written by the Syrian civil engineer Muhammad Shahrur. This book has sold tens of thousands of copies throughout the Arab world in spite of the fact that its circulation has been banned or discouraged in many places. Its success could not have been imagined before there were large numbers of people able to read it and understand its advocacy of the need to reinterpret ideas of religious authority and tradition and apply Islamic precepts to contemporary society. On issues ranging from the role of women in society to rekindling a “creative interaction” with non-Muslim philosophies, Shahrur argues that Muslims should reinterpret sacred texts and apply them to contemporary social and moral issues.

    Shahrur is not alone in attacking both conventional religious wisdom and the intolerant certainties of religious radicals and in arguing instead for a constant and open re-interpretation of how sacred texts apply to social and political life. Another Syrian thinker, the secularist Sadiq Jalal al-‘Azm, debated Shaykh Yusifal-Qaradawi, a conservative religious intellectual, on Qatar’s al-Jazira Satellite TV in May 1997. For the first time in the memory of many viewers, the religious conservative came across as the weaker, more defensive voice. Al-Jazira is a new phenomenon in Arab language broadcasting because its talk shows, such as “The Opposite Direction,” feature live discussions on such sensitive issues as women’s role in society, Palestinian refugees, sanctions on Iraq, and democracy and human rights in the Arab world.

    Such discussions are unlikely to be rebroadcast on state-controlled television in most Arab nations, where programming on religious and political themes is generally cautious. Nevertheless, satellite technology and videotape render traditional censorship ineffective. Tapes of the al-Jazira broadcasts circulate from hand to hand in Morocco, Oman, Syria, Egypt, and elsewhere. Al-Jazira shows that people across the Arab world, just like their counterparts elsewhere in the Muslim majority world, want open discussion of the issues that affect their lives, and that new communications technologies make it impossible for governments and established religious authorities to stop them.

    Other voices also advocate reform. Fethullah Golen, Turkey’s answer to media-savvy American evangelist Billy Graham, appeals to a mass audience. In televised chat shows, interviews, and occasional sermons, Golen speaks about Islam and science, democracy, modernity, religious and ideological tolerance, the importance of education, and current events. Religious movements such as Turkey’s Risale-i Nur appeal increasingly to religious moderates, and in stressing the link between Islam, reason, science, and modernity, and the lack of inherent clash between “East” and “West,” promote education at all levels, and appeal to a growing numbers of educated Turks. Iranian, Indonesian, and Malaysian moderates make similar arguments advocating religious and political toleration and pluralism.

    As a result of direct and broad access to the printed, broadcast, and taped word, more and more Muslims take it upon themselves to interpret the textual sources — classical or modern — of Islam. Much has been made of the opening up of the economies of many Muslim countries, allowing “market forces” to reshape economies, no matter how painful the consequences in the short run. In a similar way, intellectual market forces support some forms of religious innovation and activity over others. In Bangladesh, women’s romance novels, once a popular secular specialty, now have their Islamic counterparts, making it difficult to distinguish between “Muslim” romance novels and “secular” ones.

    The result is a collapse of earlier, hierarchical notions of religious authority based on claims to the mastery of fixed bodies of religious texts. Even when there are state-appointed religious authorities — as in Oman, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Egypt — there no longer is any guarantee that their word will be heeded, or even that they themselves will follow the lead of the regime. No one group or type of leader in contemporary Muslim societies possesses a monopoly on the management of the sacred.

    The Emerging Public Sphere

    Without fanfare, the notion that Islam should be the subject of dialogue and civil debate is gaining ground. This new sense of public space is shaped by increasingly open contests over the use of the symbolic language of Islam. Increasingly, discussions in newspapers, on the Internet, on smuggled cassettes, and on television cross-cut and overlap, contributing to a common public space.

    New and accessible modes of communication have made these contests increasingly global, so that even local issues take on transnational dimensions. The combination of new media and new contributors to religious and political debates fosters an awareness on the part of all actors of the diverse ways in which Islam and Islamic values can be created. It feeds into new senses of a public space that is discursive, performative, and participative, and not confined to formal institutions recognized by state authorities.

    Two cautions are in order. The first is that an expanding public sphere need not necessarily indicate more favorable prospects for democracy, any more than civil society necessarily entails democracy. Authoritarian regimes are compatible with an expanding public sphere, although an expanded public sphere offers wider avenues for awareness of competing and alternate forms of religious and political authority. Nor does civil society necessarily entail democracy, although it is a precondition for democracy.

    Publicly shared ideas of community, identity, and leadership take new shapes in such engagements, even as many communities and authorities claim an unchanged continuity with the past. Mass education, so important in the development of nationalism in an earlier era, and a proliferation of media and means of communication have multiplied the possibilities for creating communities and networks among them, dissolving prior barriers of space and distance and opening new grounds for interaction and mutual recognition.”

  178. Gorki

    Dear Khalid Sahib:

    “Also the problem seems to hinge on education aswell rather than faith as such…..”

    Thank you for pointing this out. I had suspected this all along. Also your point is well made that there is a ferment going on, the imapct of which will be obvious in the coming century or two.

    Also, thankyou for providing the exhaustive list of Muslim reformative writings, I wrote of only one from India (Parekh) as an example.

    No communal, Parekh was not an academic in the usual sense; he was self taught, translated the Koran in Urdu and spoke the language of the religious leaders rather than of the academicians.
    Check it out, it is quite an uplifting story.

    Regards.

  179. Raju Brother

    AA Khalid

    Those are isolated incidents only in the Middle East little to do with the processes you mentioned and more to do with the Arab-Israeli conflict.

    Exactly! The Islamists always want to retain the initiative with respect to conflict with rest of the world or even within the Muslim society. If they turn up the heat, provide a few conspiracy theories, it is easy to manipulate the blood pressure of the ‘Muslim Street’. They can manipulate any democratic exercise, should they really want to, using Muslim Transnationalism, Chauvinism, Siege Mentality and Paranoia. This presupposes that they would want to come to power using democratic means. Once Fascists come to power, they do away with free and fair elections, closing the door behind them.

    They could just as well try to come to power through force of arms, through revolution. There are several ways for Islamists to attain power, and they will use all means.

    The reform of Muslim Brotherhood can be real, or it can be taqqiya, simply trying to fool people into accepting them, before passing on the torch to a more hardline faction after attaining power. One can only know after they come to power.

    Note for self: Perhaps one needs to study Hamas better in Gaza.

    Here I disagree, I think we overstate and exaggerate the colonial influence. Today’s generation of Muslim citizens do not have the memory of colonization.

    The colonial influence is overall to be seen. The Parliamentary form of Government, Supreme Court, Executive, Army are all modeled after British state structures. That is the memory I speak of, the institutional memory, and people’s awareness and acceptance of these institutions. The faith in these institutions is waning.

    Anybody preaching “Softer Islam” can just as well be paving the road for a more “Extremist Islam” either willingly or unwillingly.

    It is not that I doubt the desire of many Muslims to have more justice and freedom in their societies. I only doubt their capacity to withstand a very determined Islamist minority, which are building themselves up slowly but steadily.

    Moreover Muslim Chauvinism is a well established mindset amongst the Muslims, and it can be readily harnessed by Islamists.

  180. Raju Brother

    Well I think we all have a relatively good idea about education in Pakistan, and where it is going.

  181. AA Khalid

    @RB

    Whatever you have been saying simply does not match with all the empirical and sociological studies, you are inventing realities rather than actually engaging with what’s happening on the ground.

    For instance Kurzman and Naqvi in their article, ”The Islamists Are Not Coming –
    Religious parties in the Muslim world are hardly the juggernauts they’ve been made out to be.” (just google free to read) make it clear that this threat of violent social groups seizing power in elections is misguided and empirically wrong.

    If you are going to simply use (and wrongly aswell, in a hideously erroneous fashion) taqiyya everytime a Muslim supports democracy, rights and pluralism then you are guilty of prejudice.

    I think Espositio in his article, ”Claiming the Center: Political Islam in Transition”:

    ”Opening up the political system enables the growth of competing opposition parties and
    can challenge Islamic parties’ monopoly of opposition voters.

    They would be forced to
    compete for votes and, if in power, to rule amidst diverse interests as well as to move
    beyond the promises of slogans to the solution of problems.

    Islamic groups or parties, like
    secular political parties, would be challenged to adapt or broaden their ideology and
    programs in response to domestic realities, diverse constituencies and interests.”

    Oh yeah no-communal read this ANTHOLOGY of writings from Muslim intellectual translated into English which demonstrate a noticable reformist current in Muslim thoughtL

    ”Islam in Transition: Muslim Perspectives ”

    There is great intellectual ferment happening across the Muslim World.

  182. Raju Brother

    @AA Khalid,

    I did not claim, that in Pakistan, the Islamists would be coming through democratic means to power. That was a general comment for the Muslim World, wherever the conditions may be ripe for that means.

    I also said, there are several ways for Islamists to come to power.

    In Pakistan, the most probable would be that a military dictator ceases power, a la Zia, and totally restructures the current political system as per Sharia and Islamist inspirations.

    The Army in Pakistan has changed after Zia, where a lot more officers started coming into the military not from the elitist circles, but rather from the common folk, who were more Islamist than just the thin sheen of Islam (albeit highly Muslim Chauvinistic) as was worn by the previous officers, with their whiskey glasses. At some level of the Army, there are far more genuinely Islamist officers and soldiers. With time those are coming up in the ranks.

    It is highly probable, that one day the Military Dictator would just proclaim Sharia, do away with the National Assembly and proclaim himself Emir or Khalifa, and set up a National Security Council of military commanders and ulema to rule over Pakistan.

    Upon the mildest provocation they can put an end to whole Internet connection between Pakistan and the rest of the world, just as Indian channels have been forced offline by the cable providers.

    How many liberals will go there and face bullets? All this intellectual stuff wouldn’t do baal bhi baanka!

  183. Amit Kumar

    @Raju Brother.
    @AA Khalid.
    How you define liberals? Who are liberal and whats their influence on “aam Janta”.

    Poll of Pakistanis released last month by the respected Pew Centre, More than 80% supported segregating men and women in the workplace, stoning adulterers and whipping or amputation for thieves. Three in four endorse the death penalty for apostasy.

  184. Gorki

    Amit, welfareforall and everyone else:

    Please check out another face of Islam; this time under a free democratic society; it is quite different than the stereotype we hear about in the less advanced and undemocratic ones.

    Here below is a link to a story covered by CNN called the Ramadan road trip. Or else write

    www dot cnn dot com/2010/LIVING/08/30/ramadan.roadtrip/index.html?

    Regards

  185. Amit Kumar

    @Gorki thanks.. read the news. will watch video at home.

    How will you define identity of a person like me. who believes in Mirza Galib.. “Let me drink in the mosque, otherwise tell me a place where Khuda is not present”

    If religious belief is bound by dogmas like… Jesus is the only son of God or Prophet Mohammad is the last prophet something.. like that. How can you redefine or change without being branded as atheist or non believers?

  186. Gorki

    ‘How will you define identity of a person like me….’

    Dear Amit:
    Thank you for asking the appropriate question on a forum that was supposed to discuss the question of identity in the first place. Some 190 questions earlier PMA Sahib had expressed his disappointment at D. Asghar Sahib for writing an ‘incomplete article’. Since he had also dismissed my own ideas in this matter as overly emotional I had been meaning to write a response to him anyway so your question gave me an opportunity to write my own ‘second half of the ‘Identity stuff’ as PMA Sahib termed it.

    The significance of the nation, of national identity, can more properly be considered in evolutionary terms or in the light of recent history. Nationhood is grouping, and grouping is a mammalian trait common to pack animals. It is thus a central aspect of human evolutionary psychology.
    Humans form groups around any observed or imagined differences in bodily or mental characteristics; community, language, age, sexual inclination, skin colour, eye and hair colour, shared historical or individual experience, metaphysical beliefs, shared descent – even apparently trivial interests such as soccer, cricket teams, shared music etc.

    Multiple groups also mean that group interests are bound to diverge and can result in Crusades, concentration camps, civil disobedience city riots etc. Nations, societies, or states are groups on the largest scale. Earliest groupings were based on ethnicity and thus earliest nationalism was a natural extension of tribalism. What the modern state has done, however, is to carry through a far-reaching integration of ethnic groups, so that those living in the same state share a range of features, attitudes, values when it comes to politics. Thus today most states have more than one ethnicity and only ten per cent of states in the United Nations consist mainly of one ethnic group.

    One definition of nationhood has been described as “Imagined Communities” because the members of even the smallest nation do not know most of their fellow-members, they will never meet them, they will never even hear of them, and yet, in the mind of each member of a nation lives the idea or ideal of national togetherness. Thus this group, the nation and the state have their existence only in the minds of the individuals forming the group, the nation or the state. The existence of the group, the state or nation is a kind of shared virtual reality or one might compare the individual’s awareness of them with the individual’s awareness of his own body, the body-image, and think of the body-image of the state, the nation, the society, the group generally. The individual’s body-image and the largest grouping to which an individual belongs, are in fact a mapping of the experienced environment of the individual, existing only in the individual mind. One can indeed in the light of this repeat that to understand the functioning of the group, the state and the nation, one should start from evolved individual psychology.

    Nations disappeared and emerged throughout the 19th and the 20th century. The disappearance of communism alone added 20 new states the existing 165 members of the United Nations. Does that mean the people lose a national identity when nation states change? Someone who, 2500 years ago, was an Athenian first and a Greek second, was no less a nationalist than someone today who is a Greek first, a European second, and an Athenian third.

    The nation as a state is a relatively modern European idea but most European nations are not organized around any one idea of identity. Consider first the example of a nation that disappeared; Austria under the Habsburgs. The then Austrians had no problem of identity. They were Germans or Magyars or Czechs, or Slovenes, etc. who were also Austrians. After the end of the empire, successor states emerged, that were language-based: Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Slovenia etc. Now in Austria of today the German language remains one of the main determinants of national consciousness.

    Let us take another example; France which is considered by some as the first nation created by a strong state. It is a nation-state based on unity of language and historic territory but not on shared descent. The national origins of the French population are very various but through language a prestigious culture and historical tradition is transmitted to French-speaking citizens. Given the importance of language as the main cohesive force it is natural that France is engaged more actively than in any other country in preserving the purity of the language and promoting its use both in former colonies and more widely.

    A very different example from these above is Switzerland. Switzerland is linguistically divided with French, Italian and German and some other languages; thus the Swiss cannot define their national culture by language though Swiss-German, which is incomprehensible outside Switzerland, is something by which the German-Swiss are satisfied to distinguish themselves from ‘other’ Germans. Territorially, it is divided into cantons with historical, cultural, economic and religious differences. Yet it is one the stablest nation-states in Europe preserving its neutrality and its independence of the powerful nations surrounding it. So what it the source of its national identity and how has it managed to survive?

    The solution adopted in Switzerland effectively creates a superordinate Swiss identity for certain purposes, while fully recognizing the right of the different language groups to develop on a separate basis. Swiss identity is the result of a voluntary but fragile construction which is seen to be vulnerable to movements towards closer European Union.

    One last and strange example is Belgium: The sharp separation between Dutch and French speakers means that, as someone said, Belgium is no closer to being a nation than it was when it was created in 1830; the Flemings and Walloons are still almost exactly where Julius Caesar left them after De Bello Gallico!

    In the mid 20th century it was this Europe made up of above examples (that was in the process of committing a civilizational Hara-Kiri in the name of nationalism) that influenced both the Indian and the Pakistani founding fathers to demand independence for their ‘nations.’

    Contd.

  187. Gorki

    contd.

    The India nationalists were faced with a massive problem in creating a sense of national identity, creating a nation, in the face of the myriad languages, ethnic groups, religions, cultural patterns within its borders. All those were markers of identity, and were used somewhere or the other to define nationhood. The Congress leadership; (specifically Nehru) wanted to define the Indian nationhood in civilizational terms; something all Indians could intuitively identify with. The Muslim League initially was not averse to such a narrative but feared such a broad narrative would mean a submergence of their special identity which was shared by only a quarter of the population. The problem was that the Congress failed to understand the Muslim anxieties about the future which had been building for a few generations (as I outlined before) and led to a hasty and messy partition that it seemed no one had wanted or planned for.

    After 1947 however the Indian founding fathers were able to square the circle to some extent by allowing the linguistic and regional identities to feel safe within the national narrative even as they built the nationhood in civilizational terms. To it they added a heavy dose of mythmaking both real and imagined, around the freedom struggle. Once a liberal constitution was put in place and accepted, it became the third pillar of unity Indian national unity. Finally the popularity of the commercial Hindi cinema played an unexpected role for it meant that for a few rupees only an Indian living within its boundary from ‘Kashmir to Kanya Kumari’ could lose himself and collectively with millions of others could escape the reality into a shared world of dreams; in a a truly national popular pastime. Crass as it was, the Indian cinema forced fed a steady diet of umpteen tear jerkers of an idealized secular India with its Hindu\Muslim\Christian citizens all in service of mother India. Over time that subliminal message from the Cinema became a sort of a reality to the mostly illiterate Indian masses. All these together helped forge a sense of a shared destiny and a common nationhood.

    India still has some ways to go but if it can resist the religious chauvinism of the majority on one hand and deliver a measure of social and economic justice to all, it can some day become a real nation, perhaps a South Asian version of Switzerland.

    The Pakistani founding fathers were handicapped for many reasons from the word go. First, many argue that while MAJ’s ML demanded political safeguards for a specific group or ‘nation’ using faith as a marker of identity, what they got instead was a state but no nation; and with millions of refugees to settle, a weak one at that. Pakistanis inherited all the problems faced by Indian nationalists but without the advantages. That they had rejected the civilizational argument while demanding political space meant that it could not be used as a national building block. When East Bengal rejected Urdu, the language too was lost as a tool to fashion a nation around. The quick demise of its tallest founding father meant that another unifying symbol was lost. By default, the faith itself became a rallying force to be used and abused.

    Unfortunately, even if in the long run while the faith may yet help unify a semblance of a nation, it will hinder the emergence of a modern nation state. Fortunately though, things are not static. New global trends are emerging that started after the demise of the Soviet block and accelerated after substantial reduction of global trade barriers. They have been collectively labeled Globalization.

    Globalization in practice means that the boundaries between countries, nationalities or cultures are being eroded, that culture is becoming separated from distinct geographical areas, and that the contours of a global culture are emerging where most of the world population will share important cultural aspects and attitudes. Easier cross border trade, communication, entertainment and travel means that distinctive social group or national patterns of behavior and culture are being challenged by new transnational or world models.

    Globalization means the growing integration of international markets for goods, services and finance but it goes beyond purely economic, industrial or financial trends. As globalisation accelerates, the effective sovereignty of the nation state will be significantly constrained, and pressures for harmonization or at least convergence in the social programs will narrow the room for maneuver enjoyed by governments. Population migration trends will continue to increase and while nation states will probably not entirely go away in South Asia, they will come to resemble the nations of the EU today, with a freer travel, trade some common institutions and some day perhaps with a common currency, security arrangements and adherence to universal ideas of human rights.

    That was I believe what MAJ had once mentioned, as his idea of the future….

    Regards.

  188. Bade Miya

    Vajra,
    I think I have written what I had to write. It captures essentially what I had to say, along with necessary references. I am not going to waste hours debating your “theories.” Most of them seem to be dubious and highly imaginative.
    Much time would be saved by just quoting your sources but you never do it. I wonder why.

  189. @Bade Miya

    Go away. If you’ve written what you want to write, what’s left? Now buzz off. I’m not going to write textbooks for you, not on PTH, nor am I going to waste hours explaining everything in painful detail.

    Good intentions are not sufficient, a little effort to follow is also needed. Go through the records of what you have written and see for yourself the elementary mistakes you have made, in every possible way, in every post. First, clean up your act. Stop making people start at the very beginning to make sense to you. Start demanding responses only after that.

    You no longer have the luxury of sitting on your hands and pretending that there are no other fora for your fundamental errors to be re-arranged. You can ask permission from the administrators concerned and ask a number of liberal Indian sites – there are at least three available right away; whoever agrees, its fine with me. The URLs are readily available by clicking on the names of the people concerned; I traced them over the last 24 hours without trouble. You’ll get your answers there, all of them, starting from your inaccurate analysis of who was exploiting whom.

    Stop coming back again and again, and pestering me on PTH.

  190. Bade Miya

    I wasn’t pestering you. You are the one who charges into everything like the charge of the Light Brigade, and when ambushed comes up with all sorts of invented theories. None of your theories I have heard so far have held up to any sort of critical analysis. I have no desire to go to “liberal” sites and hear their half baked lunacy. If you want to get your ideas from an echo chamber, good luck, but don’t pass them as some sort of scholarly work. If you have citations and references then do pass me those, but don’t tell me that so and so theory is right because Arun or Raju on this and that liberal site says so. That’s just not kosher.

    If the moderators had problems with my writing, I would go away if they tell me so. I am not going to stop writing just because you find my cross examinations uncomfortable.

    I made an effort to find holes in your theory and write them down. It would be polite and fitting if you did so rather than pass general remarks that obfuscate rather than illuminate.

    Yours faithfully,
    Chote Miyan

  191. Bin Ismail

    @ Gorki (August 31, 2010 at 10:12 am)

    A very realistic and comprehensive recap of relevant points. With special reference to your eloquent words “..India still has some ways to go but if it can resist the religious chauvinism of the majority on one hand and deliver a measure of social and economic justice to all..”, may I respectfully add that it is this element of chauvinism that erodes a nation’s identity most. Chauvinism, whether religious, political or ethnic, disunites even the most monolithic of nations. Not just the Republic of India – but all nations of this Subcontinent of ours have to consciously counter and neutralize all trends of chauvinism that afflict us today – trends within our societies as well as those between our states. Only then will lasting harmony come to the Subcontinent.

    Regards.

  192. @Bade/Chhote Miya, whatever

    OK, so stop not pestering me by clinging on to my shoe-soles like a piece of chewing gum.

    Positively for the last time:

    As I have said far too many times for you not to have got it, I believe that

    1. your questions are too elementary for general interest.
    2. These are in addition tangential to discussions on PTH. 3. You can get full answers to them from me outside PTH.

    You can set up a list or a blog or any kind of communication channel that allows your queries full scope, and also permits full scope for answering them. You are not being asked to do so because PTH will bar you. PTH moderators may not bar you as your queries are harmless and not bigoted or fascistic, and, in addition, they are hugely tolerant people. I am refusing to respond to essentially private and personal efforts at clarification here on PTH, which is not a tutorial blog set up for you. That, and nothing else, is why you have been advised to seek the cooperation of moderators on other sites, with a closer fit than PTH to the questions and the issues that you raise. It is not their views, but their facilities that are being sought, as you would gathered but for your unfortunate handicap.

    Your impression of what you are doing, ambushing my Light Brigade charges and the like nonsense, is one you are welcome to; I have no intention of pricking your illusions. Every single post of yours has been replete with mistakes; these have been pointed out, and you even repeat them sometimes.

    You really have a problem at the comprehension level. It has been clear for some time that it is not more harmful than that, that you are not a bigot, just slow, in every respect. That is not a crime, merely a handicap, and will entitle you to additional consideration.

    But if you want an answer, and your intentions are not to seek constant exposure on a popular blog, which is a lasting suspicion, you can get them outside. The more you insist on their being dealt with here, the more it seems that your motives are not clarifications, but merely self-publicity.

    Outside or nothing.

    And I couldn’t care less either way. It is by now clear to everybody who is going around whining, throwing himself on the ground and drumming his heels, and threatening to hold his breath unless he is molly-coddled. So come off it, and grow up.

  193. Gorki

    ‘Islam is the religion with the maximum number of compulsions, some very fierce ones. Muslims live in fear and follow islam out of this fear…’

    As I mentioned above, because of a lack of another alternative faith has became a default marker of identity for millions of people living under a weak nation state of Pakistan. In such a political role it is but natural that faith itself will be used and abused.

    Faith though is a very personal matter and was never really designed to fulfill that role. Once the state develops other markers of identity and unity, faith will reced from politics and such.

    Unfortunately such trends are slow compared to the life span of humans and are obvious only after several generations.

    If you consider the example of Spain circa 1492, the faith was used exactly in the same coercive way then as it is being used in some of the repressive Islamic countries today.

    Things change all the time; but due to the short lifespan of an individual human, time seems to be standing still, or at least too slow for most of us .

    Regards.

  194. Bin Ismail

    @ welfareforall (September 1, 2010 at 7:01 pm)

    “…..Islam is the religion with the maximum number of compulsions, some very fierce ones. Muslims live in fear and follow islam out of this fear. Islam-based societies are the least free and the most regulated and controlled (by street gangs, authorities, mullahs, judges etc.)…..”

    Divine Mercy and Grace will not leave man unguided. It is for this reason that God shows the path to man. Guiding man towards man’s own betterment and guarding him from possible detriment, is “compassion”, not compulsion.

    There is no “compulsion” in Islam. God says in the Quran: “There is no compulsion in Religion” [Quran 2:256]. The compulsion that we witness today emanating from Mullaism has nothing to do with Islam. “Islam” and “Mullaism” are two distinct entities – as opposing to each other as light and darkness.

    Please do not attribute the curse of the clergy to the creed its claims to represent.

  195. Bin Ismail

    @ welfareforall (September 3, 2010 at 6:35 pm)

    The follies, my friend, are not God’s but man’s. God gave man intelligence. God gave man guidance. God expects man to intelligently reflect on His revealed guidance and proceed along the path of life. Regarding tests and trials, yes, they do come along the way, in the form of suffering. After all, life is a gift as well as a test.

    You were quick to attribute the deaths of Hindus to the “the quislings of alien arabic imperialism”, but somehow omitted their mention in relation to the deaths of the Jews (’41-’43). Were they too, by any chance killed by the same quislings of the same imperialism? Would you also care to be sweet enough to enlighten us on which quislings of who’s imperialism killed Muslims during the riots of Gujrat?

  196. Amit Kumar

    @Bin Ismail
    If Allah is there and he created everything. when who created Allah? Why he is showing mercy on Zardari with is wealth and not on the sufferings of millions of innocent flood victims..

    This whole business of religion is farce. it is to hold power without accountability. You know all are gods will… Zardari and others can do not much..

  197. Bin Ismail

    @ Amit Kumar (September 4, 2010 at 12:43 am)

    “…..If Allah is there and he created everything. when who created Allah?…..”

    The concept of eternity, whether in the past or future, is a concept the human brain can accept but not comprehend. Essentially, it the concept of “infinity”. You have the right to your worthy opinion. However, at the moment, I’m expressing mine. God created matter and time both. He preceded both time and space and nothing preceded Him. He is the Prime Cause and Prime Mover. According to Islam’s concept of God, He is “Awwal” and “Aakhir”, meaning the First and the Last. Just as He precedes time and space, He will continue to exist even when time and space have ceased to.

    “…..Why he is showing mercy on Zardari with is wealth and not on the sufferings of millions of innocent flood victims…..”

    In my opinion, He is trying both, some with wealth and some with lack of it.

    “…..This whole business of religion is farce. it is to hold power without accountability…..”

    May I respectfully point out that you seem to be confusing “Religion” with “Politicized Religion”. Religion is God-sent and Politicized Religion is man-made.

  198. Dear All !
    With due apology I must comment that to me Identity Crisis is fav talk of privileged class of my country ,where majority is even deprived of their basic right of “know how about their rights”. Where bijli & gas are the prime vote collection weapons of elite,over there 2.5 % are much concerned about secularism & deeply analysing how Jinnah went wrong while delivering sayings about Islam? Considering “him “like they(elite) themselves are ,its doubtlessly indigestible by this class to see Mr. J for Islam. Please do not confuse Islam with present day Mullah stuff as it has nothing to do with ppl like Fal ur Rehman etc. We need to grab issues of this society in totality while establishing this fact that we are not only part of it but also treat it where it went wrong.I have few questions,please:-
    1.How good we know the need & issues of common ppl?
    2. What we have learned so far from Turkey,Iran & Afghanistan ‘s experiments?
    3. Identity Crisis : Why we need a very quick & permanent solution ?
    4. What about 63 years of this country,did we live without Identity,if yes then who mixed the chapters?
    5. Reforms ,type and implementation strategy ?
    Regards