Continued from “Paradise of Parasites”
“If the Mughal monarchs had assumed their responsibilities as Muslim rulers and organized intensive tabliq or missionary work, the majority of Indians would have embraced Islam and hence the necessity for partition and all the disasters that followed in its wake, never would have arisen.”
This fascinating proposition of Maryam Jameelah in Islam and Orientalism, Adam Publishers, New Delhi, would deserve the indulgence of any historian.
It might be so that even as man’s strengths would have the effect of weaknesses, his debilities might turn out to be blessings in disguise for him, something akin to the Shakespearean assertion that “virtue itself turns vice being misapplied and vice sometime by action dignified”. And by extension, this paradoxical mirror effect of a people’s strengths and weaknesses that tend to shape the history of their nation, seemed to have saved Aryavarta from becoming a Sunniland.
Whatever, the political plight of the Aryans that paved the way for the Islamic onslaught on their sacred soil probably served the cause of their religion in the long run!
It was the political fragmentation of Hindustan into minor kingdoms and tiny principalities that enabled the Turko-Afghan juggernaut to overrun its Western and the Northern parts to begin with. However, it was one thing for the invaders to turn parts of Aryavarta into their pocket burrows and another to make the whole of it as an Islamic State, to achieve which they would have to run over many a Hindu kingdom spread far and wide. That would have entailed unremitting jihad in umpteen battles, but probably, as the unlimited riches of the limited land they conquered would have satiated the urge of Allah’s soldiers to reach paradise, the Sultans too staid put in their grand palaces annexed with vast harems.
Besides, they would have been alive to the problems logistics pose in fighting wars far off from their Afghan backyards, and so desisted from venturing farther into the grand landmass that is Hindustan. Hence the invaders would have been averse to the risk of defeat in expansionist wars and thus, for long, their political domain was confined to the Northern parts of Aryavarta till in later years Akbar the Great ushered in the Mughal Empire in Hindustan. But then, he tried to reconcile the subjects of his communally divisive empire through his Din-e-llahi, shaped by the best of Islam and Hinduism, which set the religious tune for his successors. Though Aurangzeb, the Muslim zealot of his lineage, might have dreamt of an intensive tabliq to Maryam Jameelah’s approval, but owing to the impediment of a Shivaji and his Marathas, he could do no more to Islam in India than to sack its sacred temples at Kashi and Mathura. Thus, for centuries, the pleasure seeking Sultans, militarily constrained to boot, failed to bring about the Islamic tabliq in Hindustan unlike the Arab conquests in other parts of the planet. Besides, the concept of swadharma that insidiously weakened the Hindu polity seems to have served as an obstacle for the Islamic tabliq in ways unexpected.
While the religious dogmas per se are a set of beliefs, mistrust is an accomplice of human nature that enables one to sow the seeds of doubts in the minds of the believers about their own beliefs. That done, it would only be a matter of time before their minds become conducive for infusing a set of new religious beliefs into their mental arena. That’s what enabled the Christ, with a new ‘Code de Conduct’ that was ingeniously sourced to the Ten Commandments, to induce some of the Jews to turn their backs on the Laws of Moses. And later, borrowing the Christ’s idea, Muhammad in his “O ye who believe” refrain came up with a newer set of dogmas handed out to him by none other than Jehovah, spelled as Allah, to alter the belief system of the entire Arabia to start with. Wiser to this human proclivity that enabled him to cement his new faith in the minds of the Musalmans, and to ensure that the mind of man would never be able to play the spoilsport for Islam, Muhammad had positioned himself as the Seal of Prophets and declared that the Quran is the God’s final guidance to man for all times to come. Why, didn’t Guru Gobind Singh likewise proclaim Guru Grandh Sahib as the final Guru of the panth?
It’s no wonder then that when the statues of Zeus were pulled down all over the Roman Empire; its Pagan subjects had earnestly hoped that the Father of their Gods would destroy the Christians for the sacrilege. But as none of that happened, they lost faith in the religion of their forefathers and, thereafter, they needed no great persuasion from the evangelists to change their faith, more so as their Emperor Constantine had become a Christian Himself. Nevertheless, the Pagan fate didn’t visit Hinduism as Mahmud Ghazni hoped his destruction of the temple and the desecration of the Deity of Somnath would, but why?
Perhaps, the answer lies in the social ethos of Aryavarta. Unlike the Semitic religions that are steeped in the realms of belief, the Hindu swadharma is a ‘way of life’, that at once is habit forming as well as pride inducing. As an illustration, if not as an analogy, we now have this American Way of Life, regardless of its ethno-cultural diversity, which the politicians of all hues in the U.S. vow to safeguard regardless. And since habits, unlike beliefs, die hard, the habituation of various caste groups to their own swadharma would have thwarted any Islamic attempt to uproot Hinduism from the social soil of Aryavarta. It is a measure of the sway swadharma had on the Indian populace that the Imams of Islam were constrained to let the Musalman converts from the outcastes to retain their Hindu dress code and social mores in their new religious habitats. Yet one may wonder, if not for this Sufi softening of the Islamic rigidity, how many outcastes, in spite of their ill-treatment by the caste Hindus, would have embraced Islam in the first place? Long live sanatana dharma sans swadharma.
Why won’t it be interesting to speculate as to what would have happened had there been an expansive Hindu kingdom in place in Aryavarta when the Ghaznis and Ghuris eyed it for plunder? Maybe, the might of such an empire, might have stopped the marauding Musalmans in their tracks at the foothills of the Hindu Kush itself. And probably Islam would have never been able to set its bigoted foot on the Indian soil to communalize part of its populace enabling its eventual bifurcation, which Maryam Jameelah lamented though for a lack of ‘intensive tabliq by the Mughal monarchs’.
But what if, had the jihadi zeal of the Musalmans to plunder ‘here’ or die for the joys of ‘the hereafter’ overwhelmed the imperial might of an immense Aryan army in a Mahabharata-like war? Why the command of the Indian landmass then would have passed into the merciless hands of the Musalmans leaving the Hindus with the Hobson’s choice. So to say, with the cessation of the kshatriya power to protect their dharma, the Hindus would have been forced to decide whether to embrace Islam or death on offer, and probably India would have gone the Mohammedan way of Egypt, Persia and Mesopotamia to its eternal hurt. Maybe, the accursed Hindu disunity, exemplified by myriad kingdoms, would have frustrated Maryam Jameelah’s Islamic cause even during Aurangzeb’s formidable Mughal rule.
What if the Musalman imposters, prompted by their religious obligation, crossed the Hindu Rubicon and tried to Islamize India by force? Maybe in all probability, it would have proved counterproductive in the land of the sanaatana dharma. For such a Muslim tabliq would have forged the Hindu unity to the detriment of Islamic continuance in Aryavarta. As history bears witness, the policy of restraint, more so the expediency, of the Sultans, ensured tranquility in India that enabled the Sufis to continually spread the faith of Islam on the peripheries of Hinduism. All the same, it is worth probing the causative factors that helped Islam to have a firm foothold in Aryavarta that eventually enabled it to carve out Pakistan, for its Musalmans, from what is emotionally a Hindu land.
It would seem that the ‘mleccha apathy’ of the Brahmans and the Aryan indifference for the ‘outcasts’ were, indeed, the contributing factors for the Islamic outreach in Hindustan. The aborigines, the original titleholders of the land, made outcastes by the Aryan settlers in later years, became ready pickings for the Islamic tabliq, and being the victims of the Brahman social suppression the Aryan cultural oppression for so long, those native souls might have felt avenged by the Islamic intrusion into Hindustan. More so, they could have embraced the alien religion of Islam as a means to assert their birth right in their own land. Could human history get ironically better? Not even, when an African-American becomes the President of the United States! Maybe it is this very psychic glee of the Indian Musalmans that could be behind their eagerness to see the Italian born Sonia Gandhi ascend the Delhi gaddi.
Moreover, fortuitously for Islam, by the time the Sufi saints spread themselves out into the Indian countryside to sow the seeds of the Islamic faith in the hamlets of the untouchables; Buddhism became a spent force in Hindustan. Thus, these erstwhile Buddhists devoid of the guidance of the monks for their Nirvana could have been too eager to seek the paradise Muhammad had promised for the Musalmans. The proposition of the Quran that the purpose of life ‘here’ is not for happiness and enjoyment as its true significance lies in its being a means to reach the ‘hereafter’ through the Islamic straight path, could have been irresistible for the deprived outcastes of Aryavarta. Moreover, the Aryan society was averse to attach any value for their lives ‘here’ and the precepts of Hindu punarjanma held no hope for them in the births to follow. Oh how well the psyche of Islam did sync with the deprived souls of the Indian social fringes, and how the Hindus, in the loss of their land, are condemned to carry the cross of their sins against their fellow humans into eternity!
Sadly thus, the Brahmans, living in the sanctified arenas of their agrahaaraas, were impervious to the happenings in their backyards so long as their privileged position in the polity was ensured. Whether the chandaals, living on the Hindu fringes, became Buddhists or embraced Islam, was not something to disturb the Brahman sleep, and it was owing to their intellectual apathy that failed to foresee the demographic catastrophe in the making that the political cross of Pakistan was eventually crafted in the karmabhoomi of the Aryans.
Added to this was the Aryan complacency that the Muslim invaders too would eventually settle down in one of the caste corners of the pan Hindu fold for, after all, weren’t the alien intruders of yore neatly tucked into the native caste network at some stage? All this combined to make the Hindus in general and the Brahmans in particular to pay a deaf ear to the adhans of the muezzins from the masjids around, wanting the faithful to come over for the congregational prayers.
But the conventional Indian wisdom tends to attribute the initial sustenance and the later day spread of Islam in India to the convenient myth of Hindu religious tolerance. While the false proposition might help massage the long nursed Hindu hurt by rationalizing their defeatist past, the minorities grab it as a tactical stick to beat Hindutva with that is regardless of its endorsement by the highest judiciary of the land. And in spite of the bigotry-egging exhortations as opposed to the human-development expositions of the naïve media-wallahs, the silent majority on either side of the communal divide seems to be becoming one in its aversion to their pseudo-secular averments given the headway of the nationalists, maliciously dubbed as the saffron brigade, in the Indian political landscape.
However, the Musalman rulers’ inability to attract the elite of the land into the Islamic fold could be two fold; for one, the Brahmans didn’t condescend to descend to suffer their Musalmanic society though some of the Rajputs, as a political expediency, kept them in good humor. And for another, either owing to their inability to rope in the Brahman ministerial talent or being intellectually apathetic towards them, and/or both, the Turkish Sultans and their Afghan minions brought in nobles from their or the Persian, lands to administer their Indian fiefdoms. So, by and large, this parochial policy of the alien rulers precluded the possibility of the native eminence to embrace Islam even for their self-promotion, and thus, the nepotism of the Musalmans and the prejudices of the caste Hindus led to a lopsided Islamic growth on the caste fringes, save some sections of the vaisyas, of the Indian social setting. Well, the vaisyas, who always felt aggrieved at being deprived of their rightful exaltation, commensurate with their wealth, in the Aryan polity were ever prone to look for the greener social pastures; first in the Buddhism and thereafter under the Islamic banner. Moreover, their business interests would have been better served if aligned with the religion of the rulers.
Whatever, by and large, while the foreign nobles manned the Indian Islam, the native converts remained just that, which divide still manifests itself in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Thus, even after eight centuries of rule of the Musalman in Hindustan, and in spite of the lack of an Aryan backlash against its spread in its midst, Islam couldn’t become the majority religion in the Indian subcontinent. But still even as the Turkish rule ruined the body economy of the land, owing to the Wahabism, Islam became cancerous in the end causing the contentious partition of Hindustan.
Continued to “Winds of Change”