Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Thank God, they were not Muslims....!

Take this fact. A fact which is so disgusting, annoying and revolting. It is a fact which is slapped at your face when you open those newspapers every morning. The fact is the Indian Media is biased. Blatantly one sided. It looks one side of the picture, willingly, happily and alarmingly. It is biased against Muslims.
Mr. Yoginder Sikand, a renowned research scholar, specialist on terrorism, columnist and sociologist exposes this open secret in his own way.
Read on. It appeared in

The arrest of some activists associated with the
Sanatan Sanstha, a radical Hindu group, for planting
bombs in theatres in two towns in Maharashtra
recently, has barely been given any attention in the
Indian media. Had the men behind these planned attacks
been Muslims, obviously the Indian media would have
reacted very differently-furiously, fervently. This
clearly shows the sharply skewed manner in which the
debate on 'terrorism' is being conducted. That the
routine killings of Muslims, such as in pogroms
orchestrated by Hindu groups, are never attributed by
the media to Hindu 'terrorists' but simply to faceless
and nameless 'emotionally charged mobs' is yet another
illustration of this greatly skewed perspective.

Bomb attacks that have occurred in numerous Indian
cities in recent years are, without proper or full
investigation, somehow automatically assumed to be the
handiwork of Muslims. But, as the attacks that the
Sanatan Sanstha volunteers had planned, as also the
earlier attack planned by members of the Bajrang Dal,
also in Maharashtra, clearly show, the range of those
who might be behind the wave of bomb attacks in the
country has to be expanded some Muslim ultras to
include their Hindu counterparts as well, who have
obviously have a vested interested in promoting
communal clashes and thereby consolidating Hindu
votes. And, in addition, as numerous Urdu papers have
been repeatedly suggesting, the possible role of other
forces, such as the Israeli and American secret
services, behind some of these attacks must also be
investigated, for, clearly, these attacks aim at
further dividing Hindus and Muslims and thereby
promoting inflaming anti-Muslim passions in the
country, something that Israel and the
neo-conservatives in America would probably warmly
welcome as it would force India to enter more tightly
into their deadly embrace.

Yet another clear instance of the completely warped
way in which the Indian media and policy-making
circles discuss terrorism is evident from their
reaction to Shiv Sena supreme Bal Thackeray's recent
pronouncement calling for Hindus to set up killer
suicide squads. The 'mainstream' media is not branding
him a 'terrorist' for this, although he openly
advocates terrorism, and nor will the state take any
action against him under the draconian anti-terrorist
laws that it has framed. Imagine if a Muslim leader
had issued a similar call. That would have hit the
headlines for well over a week and would have led to
numerous arrests, but Thackeray's outpourings merit
just a corner in the middle pages of our 'national'

My point is simple: we need an even-handed approach in
discussing (and dealing with) 'terrorism'. Turning a
blind eye to one form of it, just because it claims to
speak for the majority of Indians, can only make the
situation even more precarious for all of us. And,
although of late most religious leaders have begun to
depress me no end, here I take inspiration from an
essay I recently read by an Indian Muslim cleric whose
passion for the welfare of his country, irrespective
of religion, is something that every Hindu, Muslim or
other sort of Indian could certainly emulate, and
whose approach, if seriously adopted, could go a long
way in countering all forms of terrorism, be it by
radical Hindus or Muslims or others or by the state

A recently reprinted Urdu booklet, titled 'Hamara
Hindustan Aur Uske Fazail' ('Our India and Its
Glories'), contains a brilliant essay o by the late
Maulana Syed Muhammad Miyan, who served for many
years, before and after 1947, as the general secretary
of the Jamiat ul-Ulema-e Hind, a leading body of
Indian maulvis primarily associated with the Deobandi
school of thought (It is the same organization that
vehemently opposed the Partition of India and that, in
recent months, has organized literally dozens of
public rallies against terrorism). The essay was first
published sometime in the early 1940s in order to
oppose the Muslim League's demand for a separate
Muslim state and to counter the claim of many Hindus
leaders that Indian nationalism was necessarily
synonymous with Brahminical Hinduism.

Miyan's essay, titled 'Sarzamin-i Hindustan Ke Fazail'
('The Blessings of India'), argues that Muslims are
bound to 'love' and 'serve' India primarily because
Islam commands them to do so. Miyan claims that India
has been accorded a special status by God Himself.
Hence, he argues, Muslims are required by their faith
to work for India's unity and welfare.

Miyan's's thesis is based on an Arabic text written by
the eighteenth century north Indian Muslim scholar,
Ghulam Azad Bilgrami, which puts together Hadith
reports attributed to the Prophet Muhammad and Quranic
verses that are said to refer to the 'glories'
(fazail) of India. Quoting Bilgrami, Miyan writes that
while undoubtedly Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem are the
'most holy' places in the world, Islamic tradition has
it that India, too, is a 'blessed land' (mutabarruk
sarzamin). According to such revered Muslim figures as
Imam Ali (cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet),
Hazrat Ayesha (one of the Prophet's wives), and
leading companions of the Prophet such as Hazrat Ibn
Abbas, Hazrat Anas and Hazrat Abdullah ibn Umar, Adam
was sent down to earth to India, to the island of
Serendip or modern-day Sri Lanka, while Eve was sent
to Jeddah.

Adam then travelled to Arabia, where he met Eve at a
place near Mecca. After building the Kaaba at Mecca,
Adam took Eve with him and returned to India, where
they settled down and had children. The famous
incident involving the sons of Adam, Cain (Qabil) and
Abel (Habil), occurred, or so Miyan says, in India.
After Abel was killed by Cain, Adam had another son,
Sheesh, who, according to some accounts, is buried in
the town of Ayodhya, which is sacred to many Hindus
today. Adam is said to have undertaken forty
pilgrimages (haj) from India to Mecca on foot. He is
also said, some ulema claim, so Miyan tells us, to
have died in India and to have been buried here.

This close connection between Adam and India points to
what Miyan claims to be the obvious fact that Islamic
tradition accords to India the status of a 'blessed
land'. This suggests, Miyan writes, that India had a
special place in God's scheme of things for the world,
which Muslims living in the country need to recognise.
The fact that Adam first appeared in the world in
India means that the world's first dar ul-khilafa
('abode of the Caliphate') was India, because this was
where God's first khalifa or deputy was sent down. The
island of Serendip or modern-day Sri Lanka, which can
be said to be, in some sense, part of 'greater India',
was the first place in the world where God sent his
revelation. Adam, the first man and the first prophet,
was made out of 'Indian soil'. Since Adam is the
father of all human beings, including all the other
prophets and the saints, the rest of humanity was also
fashioned out of the 'mud of India', or so Miyan

To reinforce his argument of India being accorded the
status of a 'blessed land' in the Islamic tradition
itself, Miyan notes that some Muslim scholars believe
that the oath (ahd) of 'alast', which the Quran refers
to, also took place in India. On that occasion, God
gathered all the souls of men who would appear in the
world till the Day of Judgment and addressed them,
asking them if He was not their Lord (alasto bi
rabbikum). All the souls answered that He indeed was.
This shows, Miyan writes, that India was the country
where the 'slaves' (bande) of God first acknowledged
Him as Sustainer, from which started the long chain of
spiritual advancement of humanity. Through this
incident the land of India was 'brightened (munawwar)
by the 'light of all the prophets', Miyan contends.

According to the Quran, Miyan adds, at the time of
taking the above-mentioned oath, another oath was
taken from all the prophets, in which each prophet
testified to the prophet who would succeed him. Since
the chain of prophets ended with Muhammad, every other
prophet testified on that occasion to Muhammad being a
prophet, reposing faith in him and promising to help
him. This second oath, too, was taken in India, Miyan
claims. Hence, Miyan writes, 'India is that holy
(muqaddas) land where the chain of religious
instruction (rashd-o hidayat), and knowledge of the
closeness of God (marif-i qurb-i ilahi) and salvation
in the hereafter (nijat-i akhiravi)' had their

The claim of God having chosen India to send Adam to
has other crucial implications, Miyan suggests, which
reinforce the special place that India is said to
occupy in the Islamic tradition. Miyan writes, echoing
a view held by many Sufis, that the first thing that
God created was the nur-i muhammadi or the 'light of
Muhammad'. This light was first put into Adam and was
then transferred through all the prophets till it
reached the Prophet Muhammad when he appeared in
Mecca. Because Adam lived in India, the first time
that the nur-i muhammadi appeared on earth was in
India, and the last time that it appeared was in
Arabia, this establishing a firm spiritual link
between the two lands.

In support of this argument, and to underline his
assertion of India being a particularly 'blessed
land', Miyan quotes a verse by Kaab bin Zaheer, a
famous poet and a companion of the Prophet:
'Undoubtedly, the Prophet is a light (nur) from which
light is obtained. [He] is God's sword which was made
in India'. In this regard, and to further stress his
point, Miyan refers to another story, one related by
Abu Huraira, a companion of the Prophet, according to
which the Prophet is said to have declared that when
God sent Gabriel to comfort Adam, Gabriel mentioned to
Adam the name of Muhammad, telling him that Muhammad
would be the last prophet from among Adam's children.
This shows, Miyan writes, that it was in India that
for the first time the Holy Spirit (ruh-i muqaddas)
appeared on earth, that the glory (azmat) and unity
(tauhid) of God was mentioned, and that Muhammad's
prophethood was announced.

This further stresses the need, Miyan says, for the
Indian Muslims to recognise that 'it is our good
fortune that this India is our beloved country
(watan-i aziz)'. Because India is said to have held a
special place in God's plan for the world, Miyan
argues, God has blessed it with numerous assets. The
source of all good things (nimat) is heaven, and
whatever good things are found on earth are a limited
reflection of their heavenly counterparts. All good
things that are found in the world were first brought
by Adam to India, from where they spread to the rest
of the world, so Miyan claims.

This explains, Miyan argues, why India has the
'largest store of heavenly blessings in the world',
including 'sweet-smelling plants, spices and fruits'.
Adam, Miyan tells us, was also taught various crafts,
which is the reason why India has always excelled in
these fields and hence can rightfully claim to be the
'first teacher' (ustad-e awwal) of the world in many
crafts and industries.

Besides the alleged Adam connection, Miyan marshals
other 'evidence' to put forward his claim of India's
special status in Islamic terms. Thus, he writes that
some Muslim scholars believe that Noah built his ark
in India, and that India was unaffected by the Great
Flood in Noah's time. In addition, several companions
of the prophet, thousands of Muslim saints (awliya,
abdal), martyrs (shuhada) and pious ulema made India
their home and died and were buried here. All these
facts clearly suggest, Miyan contends, that from the
Islamic point of view the 'greatness' of India is
'undeniable'. Hence, he stresses, it is the religious
duty of the Muslims of India to work for the sake of
the unity and prosperity of the country as a whole.
Hence, too, he suggests, the claim of Hindu
chauvinists that only Hindus can be genuine Indian
patriots must be challenged and countered.

I personally do not necessarily agree with all that
Miyan writes in praise of India and nor do I agree
with all his interpretations of Muslim traditions
about India, some of which I find quite outlandish. In
some senses, privileging just a small slice of the
earth as particularly 'blessed' by God, which Miyan
seems to do with regard to India, strikes me as deeply
troubling-either every bit of the world is equally
blessed or not at all, I would believe. But, that
said, I find Miyan's concern for his country and its
people to be genuine, passionate and deeply moving. It
is something that terrorists, Hindu and Muslim and
other, certainly lack, their radical rhetoric

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Israelis and Americans blasting bombs in H'bad,Jaipur,Mumbai trains to create divide between Hindus and Muslims?No mention of Pakistan and it's role in Killing Hindus with the help of muslim Indians.Have you no shame at all?


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