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The Number Game
|by BS Murthy|
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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