Islamic Manifesto for India
It is old. It is new. It is an enduring theme on which the Ulama and the Sufis of Islam thrive.
It is a rueful review of an opportunity lost in the past. It is a fond dream about a future fulfilment. It is a fanatic faith to fight for in the present.
Borrowing a metaphor from the Communist Manifesto of Karl Marx, the theme can be summarised as well as sloganized as follows: ‘We, the Ulama and the Sufis of Islam, disdain to hide our aim. We stand for a full and final conquest of India by Islam. Muslims of India unite! You have nothing to lose but your minority complex. You have a whole subcontinent to gain!’
The Ulama and the Sufis grieve that Islam was a failure in India in the final round, though it monopolised military as well as political power for five centuries and more. They envy the history of Islamic imperialism in Syria, Palestine, Persia, Central Asia, North Africa, Malaysia, and Indonesia where it succeeded in a total subversion of older societies and cultures in a far shorter span of time.
The Ulama and the Sufis hope and pray that Allah will be more merciful towards his favourite faith in the future, and enable them to establish a hukumat-i-ilahiya in India. They feel confident that this time they will not fail, and that they will use the opportunity fully for eradicating the last vestiges of jahiliyya from this land.
The Ulama and the Sufis leave no stone unturned to keep their flock free from every ‘taint’ of empiricism, rationalism, universalism, and humanism. They also go in search of fresh pastures among the weaker sections of Hindu society. The name of the game is mass conversions to Islam.
In medieval times, when Islam ruled the roost, the most ‘upright’ Ulama and the ‘saintliest’ Sufis carried on a long-drawn-out debate regarding the treatment to be meted out to the Hindus conquered by the sword of Islam. They quoted chapter and verse from the Quran, the Hadis and the ‘learned’ commentaries to prove a proposition. The syllogism had more than the three standard steps. But the argument, they thought, was unassailable. The inexorable logic unfolded as follows:
The five categories of ‘unbelievers’ whom the Prophet came to know in his own lifetime were the Polytheists of Arabia, the Jews, the Christians, the Zoroastrians, and the Sabaeans;
The Prophet had no qualms about the Polytheists; they were to be slaughtered unless they surrendered and became Muslims;
The Jews, the Christians and, later on, the Zoroastrians and the Sabaeans were recognized by the Prophet as Ahl-i-Kitab (People of the Book);
The Prophet honoured them with the designation of Zimmis who could be allowed to live in an Islamic state, provided they renounced resistance, and agreed to pay jizyah;
Umar, the second pious Khalifah of Islam, spelled out in so many words the numerous disabilities to be imposed on the Zimmis, reducing them to a status of non-citizens inside an Islamic state;
The Prophet had not known any Hindus in his own life-time and could not, therefore, receive a Revelation regarding their status in an Islamic state;
The Hindus were not Ahl-i-Kitab; on the contrary, they were unashamed and outright Polytheists;
The Hindus, therefore, could not be designated as Zimmis entitled to pay jizyah and live under disabilities imposed by an Islamic state;
The Islamic state in India was under an inescapable obligation to use all its power and resources to force the Hindus to embrace Islam, failing which they were to be sent to hell where they rightly belonged.
Quod erat demonstrandum. It was difficult to find a flaw in this logic without putting Islamic jurisprudence in jeopardy.
One could have, of course, faulted the syllogism by asking a simple question: ‘What happened to the Zoroastrians whom your Prophet had ‘honoured’ as Zimmis? Did Islam allow them to live as Zimmis in the beloved land of their birth? Where are they now?’ But the Ulema and the Sufis of Islam have never acquired the ‘bad habit’ of asking or answering questions. They have always found it far more convenient to call for a cutting off of kafir heads.
This, then, was the imperative of Islamic theology vis-a-vis the Hindus. But there were other realities such as the balance of power between the Islamic state and the Hindu society. In large parts of India, Hindus were far from being conquered completely. If pressed too hard, Hindus revolted, and imperilled the Islamic ‘empire’ itself. Hindus were also needed by the Islamic state as hewers of wood and drawers of water so that Muslim swordsmen, Ulama and Sufis, who had become the aristocracy, could enjoy the lands and the loot which Allah and his Prophet had bestowed upon them.
Some Sultans strived hard to carry out the commands of the Ulama and the Sufis. But they discovered very soon and to their great discomfiture that Hindus despised Islam as a species of barbarism, and fought back fiercely when driven to the wall. The Sultans had to admit defeat and die unfulfilled. Many Sultans of the imperial and provincial dynasties suffered this supreme frustration while attempting to forge
ahead in the way of Allah.
The Hanafi school of Islamic ‘law’ came to the rescue of the Sultans who had found themselves between the devil of the Ulama and the Sufis, and the deep sea of Hindu resistance. This school searched the scriptures of Islam to find support for their contention that Hindus also could be designated as Zimmis, and thus allowed to live in an Islamic state. So the Sultans indulged occasionally in the luxury of forced conversions, and killing of Hindus en masse. But, for the rest, they were content to collect jizyah and other back-breaking taxes from Hindus and enjoy in peace their imperial power and privilege, including harems crowded with Hindu women captured in war and otherwise.
A notable exception to these two types of Sultans was Akbar. He saw through the exclusive claims of Islam and kept the Ulama and the Sufis at an arm’s length. He was favourably impressed by Hindu saints, sages, scholars and statesmen and became increasingly attached to them. He evolved a policy of sulah-i-kul between the Islamic state and the Hindu society. He abolished jizyah, banned cow-slaughter, permitted questions regarding the character of Islam and its Prophet, allowed Hindu converts to go back to their ancestral religion, and prohibited killing of Hindus for marrying Muslim women without getting converted to Islam. In short, he restored self-respect to the Hindus who came forward to help him in building a splendid and stable empire which came to be envied by the rest of the world.
But there is a strong element of atavism in Islam which prevents it from learning any lesson from history. Akbar’s policy of peace came in for an adverse review in the reign of Shah Jahan and underwent a total reversal under Aurangzeb. This great ghazi of Islam declared a new jihad against the Hindus. The result was the ruin of the Mughal empire which crumbled within two decades after his death. Power now passed into the hands of Hindus-the Rajputs, the Marathas, the Jats and the Sikhs.
Islam is also famous for breeding a brand of fanatics who refuse to recognize objective reality and who love to live in a world of fantasy. The Ulama and the Sufis refused to believe that the imperial power of Islam in India was gone for good. Soon after the break-up of the Mughal empire, there arose Shah Waliullah (1702-1762) followed by his son, Abdul Aziz, followed by the latter’s disciple, Syed Ahmad Barelvi (1786-1831), all of whom were possessed by the passionate idea - which they preached with great fervour - that the imperial power of Islam could and should be restored in India.
These early Don Quixotes of Islam were followed by others like Shariatullah (1790-1831), Dudhu Mian (1819-60), Titu Mian (1782-1831) and the Wahabis who titled their swords at the British power in Bengal and the Sikh sovereignty in the Punjab. They declared that India had once again become a Dar-ul-harb (enemy territory), and invited their brethren in faith to practise jihad or hijrat. They met the fate which such lunatics deserve, and disappeared into the dustbin of history. Only the Ulama and the Sufis hail them as shahids (martyrs).
A new type of wisdom, though within the four walls of Islamic fanaticism and day-dreaming, dawned upon Khwaja Hasan Nizami in the early years of the 20th century. He was no ordinary pen-pusher or paid mullah in some suburban mosque. On the contrary, he was a highly placed ‘divine’ in the hierarchy of Nizamuddin Auliya’s prestigious silsila, and widely honoured in the Muslim world. He published in 1920 a big book, Fatami Dawat-i-Islam, in which he advocated all means, fair and foul, by which Hindus were to be converted to Islam. He advised the mullahs to concentrate on Hindu ‘untouchables’, and convert them en masse so that Muslims could achieve parity of population with the Hindus. He disclosed in the introduction to his book that he had consulted many Muslim leaders including the Agha Khan regarding the soundness of his scheme, and that all of them had agreed with the caution that the scheme should be kept a closely guarded secret. Unfortunately for the Khwaja, the scheme came to the notice of Swami Shraddhananda who exposed it, fought it tooth and nail, and frustrated it completely by means of his Shuddhi Movement.
And now we have the same scheme resurrected before us by the Islamic Centre in London, in a still more ambitious form. The aim of achieving parity with the Hindus has been abandoned in favour of full Islamisation of India. The Islamic fraternity in India has welcomed the scheme with open arms. Jama’t-i-Islami is the most fanatic constituent of this fraternity. There are many more individuals and organizations operating under different disguises. In any case, the scheme is being pushed ahead vigorously with the aid of petro-dollars. Many Islamic countries, particularly Kuwait, Libya, and Saudi Arabia, are its ‘pious’ patrons.
The full contours of this conspiracy were reveled by Javed Ansari in the December 1981 number of Arabia: The Islamic Review published by the Islamic Press Agency, London. The Agency is an expensive outfit maintained and financed by Saudi Arabia. Javed violated no oath of secrecy because the conspiracy became widely known in India as soon as it was hatched by a conference of Islamic embassies in the West. He only presented it in a finished form and with full self-confidence, so that no one was left in any doubt about its ramifications.
The article by Javed is titled India: The World’s ‘Largest Democracy’. We need not quarrel with his oblique reference to democracy in India. The ‘gentleman’ has in mind the Islamic ‘democracies’ of Pakistan, Iran, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Syria and the United Arab Emirates. What he writes in his article is much more interesting. The main point made by him comes at the end of the article. He says: ‘Such a programme would require first of all an abandonment of the strategy which gives priority to protecting the ‘special status’ and ‘minority rights’ of the Muslim community. No minority community can have such ‘rights’ within the existing Indian system. The only realistic political option is to develop an alternative vision of India’s future - a vision capable of mobilising all sections of the Indian people into making sacrifice for its realisation.’
What is the alternative vision? Javed does not mince words. His clarion call is loud and clear. He announces: ‘Islam must be presented as an ideological framework capable of redefining the social perspective of the ordinary Indian citizen. Islam must emerge as a cohesive social force challenging the hegemony of both nationalism and socialism in India. This is a difficult and challenging task, calling for the building of a new political and social base.’
Who is going to provide that political and social base? Javed concludes: ‘The movement of the Harijans towards Islam provides a rare opportunity of initiating this struggle. If this opportunity is missed, India’s Muslims will have lost a chance to play a decisive role in the making of history.’
We have suspected for a long time that Islam is not a religion as the protagonists of sarva-dharma-samabhava would have us believe. We are, therefore, grateful to Javed for conceding that Islam is an ideology. A discussion about the nature of that ideology need not deter us here. At the moment we are concerned with the way that ideology is being presented by the spokesmen of Islam.
It is not an accident that over the past several years the emphasis has suddenly shifted from the ‘scriptures’ to the ‘social message’ of Islam. Islam is still being presented as the ‘only true religion’. But a louder noise is being made about Islamic society being an ideal society. There is an implied admission that the ‘scriptures’ of Islam have failed it in India over the long stretch of some 1300 years. So the ‘social philosophy of Islam’ is being given a turn to try its luck in the same old game of subversion.
Again, we do not want to be detained by discussion about the nature of Islamic ‘social philosophy’. That discussion will be taken up in due course. Here we are concerned with how that ‘philosophy’ is being presented to us at this time.
Islam, we are told, stands for the Brotherhood of Man and an equalitarian social order free from caste hierarchy, class oppression, economic exploitation, and so on. It all sounds as if Islam is another version of Communism. Haven’t we been told by some noted spokesman that Communism is Islam minus Allah, or that Allah plus Communism constitutes Islam? But we shall not press home the parallel.
What is the social milieu in which this ‘ideal’ social order has to operate? Well, it is the goddammed Hindu society ‘encumbered with gross inequality, economic exploitation, caste cruelties, oppression of women’, and so on. The ‘ideal’ social order has to overcome and destroy this wicked social order and ‘redeem’ these 700 million human beings from fate ‘worse than that of the beasts and worms’. The logic is irrefutable, however irritating it may be to ‘our brethren of the Hindu fold’.
There was a time when the spokesmen of Islam stood alone in performing the painful task of telling the truth about the Hindu social order. Recently they have been relieved of that burden by a large tribe of Hindu scribes and scholars serving in the daily and the periodical press owned by Hindu moneybags. They have dragged out no end of skeletons hidden in the Hindu cupboard. They have left us in no doubt about the enormous inequalities handed down by the hoary Hindu heritage. Damn Hinduism and get publicity as a secularist and a progressive! That is the bait held out by some notable editors. Many scribes rise to the bait because the payment they receive is much better. Many politicians swallow the bait - hook, line and sinker - simply because a periodical enjoys a large circulation. No politician worth his salt can ignore publicity in the prestigious press.
It is not an accident that in recent years we have been flooded with news about ‘atrocities on Harijans’. A selective news-reporting in the press leaves the unmistakable impression that Harijans are the only people who are being beaten up, burnt, and killed otherwise in our countryside; that Harijan women are the only women being molested by ‘caste’ Hindus; and that Harijan labourers are the only labourers getting buried under the debris of defective constructions. The reporters who collect these stories and the editors who display them on the front page have a glow of self-righteous satisfaction on their faces. It is never news for them that Brahmins, Thakurs and other ‘caste’ Hindus also get killed in similar fracas; that ‘caste’ Hindu girls also get molested and forced into prostitution; and that non-Harijan Hindu labourers also get buried in like manner. The same Hindu scribes and scholars have started singing the glories of the Islamic Brotherhood of Man.
It is this spectacle of breast-beating on the part of the Hindu elite which has emboldened the spokesmen of Islam to rewrite India’s history vis-a-vis the swordsmen of Islamic imperialism. According to Javed, ‘Islam came to India at the invitation of the peasants of Sindh who were the victims of colonial central Indian rule in the 7th century. Muhammad bin Qasim, the liberator of Sind, was immensely popular among the mases.’
Several Muslim historians of Sindh tell us in so many words that Sindh had been an independent kingdom for more than 150 years at the time it was invaded by the Arab armies. Al-Biladhuri writes in Futuh-ul-Buldan that between 659 and 712 A.D, five Arab expeditions were defeated and dispersed, and their commanders killed at the borders of Sindh by the Jats and the Meds before Muhammad bin Qasim succeeded in his mission of murder, rapine and loot. Does it all look like a guest party of Muslims who the peasants of Sindh were waiting for in order to extend a warm welcome? The Chuchnamah based on a contemporary Muslim account describes in detail how the Jat peasantry fought fiercely for every inch of the motherland, and how it died but did not surrender. Brazen faced liars like Javed will have to make a bonfire of many histories of Islam written by pious Muslims in medieval times before their concoctions can have a chance.
But while lying about Hindus and their history, Javed has told the truth about the Sufis. He writes: ‘It was the sufi saints who initiated the struggle for the establishment of an Islamic state in India. Khwaja Muinuddin Chisti, Khwaja Nizamuddin Aulia and Bakhtiyar Kaki opposed the secularist policies of the kings of the slave dynasty of medieval India. Mujadid al-Thani Ahmed Sirhindi organized a resistance movement against the Mughal Emperor Akbar and his attempts to establish a secular Indian polity. The Mujidid’s disciples and devotees included Akbar’s great-grandson, the dervish Prince Aurangzeb Alamgeer.’
It is an interesting disclosure about the Sufis. Many Hindus who have no illusions about prophetic Islam have a very soft corner for the Sufis whom Islam has been presenting as its saints for the past so many years. But the painful truth is that the ‘Mystic Dimension of Islam’ has always been the ideological arsenal of Islamic imperialism.
Javed has also informed us about the newly acquired self-confidence of Islam in India. He proclaims: ‘The Muslims of India are more committed to Islamic ideology, better politically organized and exhibit greater unity to-day than at any time since independence. It is this newfound sense of destiny which has enabled them to welcome the Harijans into Islam throughout India and to assert their right to formulate a national, social and political strategy which is distinct and uniquely Islamic This community is rapidly adopting the view that their destiny in inextricably linked to that of India. India must undergo a social and a political transformation before the bulk of its population can escape from social deprivation and exploitation.’“
This self-confidence is symbolised by the waxing fortunes of Jama’t-i-Islami, the vanguard of the Islamic crusade in this country. Javed reports: ‘This view has been consistently expounded by the Jamaat Islami since 1947 when it was an insignificant political grouping with little or no influence. It numbered its supporters in hundreds and its message of preaching Islam ‘daawa’ and downgrading the importance of ‘minority interests’ evoked almost no response. However, the Jamaat-i-Islami Annual Convention held in Hyderabad last July attracted more than 10,000 participants. Its literature has now been translated into 17 Indian languages. Thousands of Hindus count themselves amongst its supporters.’
That brings us to the beginning. We have to give a vote of thanks to Javed. He starts his article by the following statement: ‘Since 1947, India, a leading champion of secularism and the home of the most ancient philosophies known to man has witnessed more than 20,000 incidents of serious communal rioting. Every year the number of Muslims who fall victim grows larger.’ We leave the statistics in this statement to the Government of India. They have been cited by a spokesman of the Arabs whose causes our Government defends, day in and day out. But we cannot help being grateful to Javed for presenting India as the ‘home of the most ancient philosophies known to man’. We do not mind it at all that the compliment carries as a taunt. Truth needs telling, whatever the twist. The worst liar in the world has a right to tell the truth once in a while.
We wish and hope that the Ulama and the Sufis of Islam in Indian will also admit this great truth, and stop denouncing this country as an area of darkness which ‘Islam has to illumine’. We appeal to the worthies of the Jama’t-i-Islami in particular and Muslims in general to study some of these ‘most ancient philosophies’ to which Javed has referred. We assure them that they will find it a refreshing change from the cock-and-bull stories on which they have been fed so far by the Quran and the Hadis.