Nothing in Pakistan is sacred anymore


by Shariq
3rd March, 2009 at 3:59 pm    

In 1996, Gaddafi Stadium Lahore was the scene of Sri Lankan cricket’s greatest triumph. Beating Australia in the final of the World Cup meant that they had finally gotten rid of their status as cricketing minnows. Not only did they win, but they did so playing exhilarating cricket which won the support of neutrals everywhere.

What added extra spice to the final (not that it needed it), was the fact that earlier in the tournament, Australia had refused to play against Sri Lanka in Colombo because of security concerns.

Ironically, it was Sri Lanka’s history of having to deal with reluctant tourists that influenced their decision to play in Pakistan, when India pulled out of their tour after the Mumbai atrocities.

It was a decision much appreciated by Pakistani cricket fans, which had been starved of cricket for the last couple of years, as foreign countries became increasingly reluctant to visit Pakistan. The biggest humiliation had been the postponement and then cancellation of the Champions Trophy. This would have been the first multi-nation tournament to be held in Pakistan since the 1996 world cup and the first such event to be staged exclusively by Pakistan.

So inevitably the Sri Lankans were on their way to Gaddafi Stadium when their team bus was attacked by terrorists.

——-

Pervez Hoodhboy’s article on the use of Urdu and Islam (not in a good way) to bind Pakistan has been passed around on e-mail and much discussed on the Pakistani blogosphere. However as Ahsan rightly pointed out, it wasn’t just Zia or Zulfiqar Bhutto who started Islamisation. Decisions to use Islam as a means of keeping the country together were taken at independence.

One thing missing from that analysis is the impact of cricket. Although not a deliberate government strategy, this has been an essential part of national identity for at least the last twenty-five years.

Just as Sri Lanka winning the World Cup in 1996 was huge for that war-torn nation, Pakistan winning the previous World Cup in 1992 was equally monumental.

Also, just as India has had a proud tradition of having Muslims and Sikhs in their cricket team, the Pakistani cricket team has shown glimpses of a functioning multi-cultural society somewhere in the future. The leading spinner is a Hindu from Karachi and before he converted to Islam, the best batsman was from a Punjabi Christian family. Younis Khan whose recent appointment as captain was universally applauded, is a Pathan from Karachi.

The cricket team did reflect some of the problems with Pakistani society. People using connections to get their kids through trials; 22 year olds passing themselves of as 18 so that they could play in the national U-19 team; administrative incompetence in developing players and facilities etc. The biggest scourge was match-fixing and the constant speculation that several players were in the pay of bookmakers. However even this had been largely fixed and while the current team isn’t the best, they are thought to be clean.

All of these problems where among those of what you would expect in a developing country. On balance the cricket team was a meritocratic institution and reflected the country in a good light.

This isn’t the end of cricket in Pakistan. The national team will continue overseas tours and will play their ‘home’ matches in the Middle East, England and possibly Malaysia. For all you know they may even win the World 20/20 in England this summer.

Amazing as it sounds given the number of attacks in the last two years, this will cause a loss of innocence though. I have to admit I was shocked when I heard the news. Like Kamran Abbasi, all of us who argued that international teams should continue to play in Pakistan, as violence was no more random than in say London have been proven wrong.

Even before this there had been a sense of dissatisfaction with cricket especially in the urban centres. However this was thought to be temporary – given the underlying strength of the game and more cynically, that cricket was still be a lucrative profession in a poor country; I imagine cricket will survive, but its not guaranteed anymore.

Finally, after every one of these attacks I hold out the hope that it will prompt the Pakistani media and ‘intelligentsia’ in general to acknowledge the problem of terrorism in Pakistan. Unfortunately it seems that just as before, there will be denial, blame will be placed upon nefarious outside forces for no other reason then India blamed Pakistan for the Mumbai attacks and life will go on. So it goes.


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  1. pickles

    New blog post: Terrorists Attack Cricketers – Nothing in Pakistan is Sacred Anymore http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/3469


  2. Senseless Attack on Sri Lankan Cricket Team | worldismycountry.org

    [...] such a brazen attack in the centre of Lahore has still caused a substantial degree of shock and sadness. Lahore is a relatively safe and secular city, seemingly a world away from the troubles in [...]


  3. Spieler | The Best of the Web

    [...] Not cricket: Pervez Hoodhboy’s article on the use of Urdu and Islam (not in a good way) to bind Pakistan has been passed around on e-mail and much discussed on the Pakistani blogosphere. However as Ahsan rightly pointed out, it wasn’t just Zia or Zulfiqar Bhutto who started Islamisation. Decisions to use Islam as a means of keeping the country together were taken at independence. Posted at 10:28 am by Paul Sorene TrackBack | Permalink | [...]




  1. kardinal birkutski — on 3rd March, 2009 at 4:06 pm  

    This is all nonesense: there was no attack; you are in no more danger blah,blah,blah; it could happen anywhere; it is all a plot by the Daily Mail to paint Islam in a bad light; George Bush is the biggets terrorist blah, blah,blah…OH LOOK TERRORISTS im Pakistan…now whodathunkit??

  2. platinum786 — on 3rd March, 2009 at 4:09 pm  

    Very well written. Pakistani society needs to take charge and realise the threat it faces. We can’t continue to blame the Indians, the jews and the Americans. There is no doubt that India has been involved in facilitating some of these events in Pakistan, nobody can prove it. Similarly, there is no doubt the favours have been returned.

    BUT like is said on another forum;

    Assume for a minute that it was an Indian sponsored attack.

    Who pulled the trigger? Most likely a Pakistani.
    who provided them with the weapons, again Pakistani.
    Who helped them escape, probably a Pakistani.
    Who was the intelligence officer who failed to pick up on this terrorist attack, a Pakistani.

    To commit a crime, you need means motive and oppertunity.

    Who fails to prevent these people having the means? Pakistani government.

    Who is involved in the failure to rob them of a motive, Pakistani politics.

    Who is failing to rob these people of the opertunity, Pakistani internal security.

    It’s all good and proper banging on about the military and the iSI, but MI6 and the British army don’t prevent terrorism in this country, that’s done by the police and MI5.

    In Pakistan you can buy judges for a few thousand pounds, police officers are much cheaper. Who’s fault is that? the fault of the Pakistani police officers and judges.

    Essentially the problem is Pakistani, if someone else can exploit it doesn’t mean the problem is not Pakistani.

  3. Sunny — on 3rd March, 2009 at 4:12 pm  

    Brilliant article Shariq.

  4. Sofia — on 3rd March, 2009 at 4:19 pm  

    it’s tragic for those who lost their lives, it’s tragic for the country as a whole…you can’t keep blaming other ppl for your own reactions…
    what has zardari said? has he pushed forward his lackeys to do all the talking..he’s so inept…i’m still puzzled and amazed that he is president…as for the ‘upper’ classes..aren’t they just interested in whre the next nanny or maid is to look after their spoiled children while they go to the local gymkhana…

  5. Nyrone — on 3rd March, 2009 at 4:39 pm  

    “this will cause a loss of innocence”

    agreed.

  6. munir — on 3rd March, 2009 at 4:57 pm  

    ” However as Ahsan rightly pointed out, it wasn’t just Zia or Zulfiqar Bhutto who started Islamisation. Decisions to use Islam as a means of keeping the country together were taken at independence. ”

    No kidding Sherlock. Since the whole raison d’etre for the creation of Pakistan was as a state for MUSLIMS and the only thing that binds the disparate people of its land together is that they follow the religion of Islam what exactly did you expect ? No other identity would unite them (say linguistic/cultural)

    Without the Muslim /Islamic identity Pakistan has no reason to exist. Perhaps it should merge back with India?

  7. Foxyullah — on 3rd March, 2009 at 6:13 pm  

    @munir, many Pakistani’s would disagree, I’m sure, I don’t believe it is a serious possibility anymore, with all the water that has passed under the bridge since partition.

    What would be an intersting thought experiment and maybe worthy of discussion, is if separation had not occurred, would muslims have faired better In a secular India?

    Obviously it goes without saying this attack is to be condemned in the harshest possible tones, It absolutely shows that the terrorists have no sympathy with the ordinary people of Pakistan.

  8. marvin — on 3rd March, 2009 at 6:37 pm  

    I really wish I was in to cricket.I feel like I am really missing out.

    Thanks for the insight Shariq. I think it’s the things that politicians seriously underestimate, the power of things such as sport, and even television contests to unite a country.

    Conceding part of the country to Sharia and thus religious lunatics was a very big mistake indeed. They will see it as a victory, and a sign inspired by god to continue their battle… And mujhadeen will no doubt be sheltered and protected by the powers that be in such areas.

  9. Nesrine — on 3rd March, 2009 at 6:47 pm  

    Excellent piece Shariq, well done.

  10. Roger — on 3rd March, 2009 at 7:01 pm  

    “Nothing in Pakistan is Sacred Anymore”
    Not a wise choice of headline: it was almost certainly because some Pakistanis thought of cricket as something close to being sacred that other Pakistanis with a more exact sense of what sacred means attacked the cricket team.

  11. Jai — on 3rd March, 2009 at 7:08 pm  

    Conceding part of the country to Sharia and thus religious lunatics was a very big mistake indeed. They will see it as a victory, and a sign inspired by god to continue their battle…

    Exactly. It’s just going to embolden them further. Appeasement doesn’t work with people with that kind of bullying mentality — it just encourages them to greedily try to grasp for more, more, more, and to continue to push the envelope and try to get away with as much as they can.

    The following applies to people from any background and in all walks of life, but it’s a nasty fact that individuals with a certain aggressive, belligerent, domineering mindset (and with a willingness to exploit what they perceive as weakness, especially if the other party wants a relatively quiet life and isn’t willing to go to the extremes that they themselves are happy to go to) are only ‘kept in check’ by the threat of forceful retaliation and/or punishment. They won’t try to pull any stunts with people who they perceive as stronger than they are.

    Some people only respect strength. Some of them will of course complain about this and start making various heinous allegations about the other party, but remember that in reality they’re just pissed off that they’re not the stronger party in the equation.

  12. Jai — on 3rd March, 2009 at 7:14 pm  

    Perhaps one positive thing to come out of this would be the possibility of all this motivating the ‘powers that be’ in Pakistan to take much stronger, more organised and more united action against the extremists, both in Pakistan proper and against those in the northwestern border regions who may have been behind this attack.

    And it may backfire completely, by alienating the extremists from ordinary everyday folk in Pakistan with a more moderate mindset, thereby hopefully stalling the increasing Talibanisation of the country and uniting everyone else against the extremists.

    Hopefully.

  13. qidniz — on 3rd March, 2009 at 7:32 pm  

    Conceding part of the country to Sharia and thus religious lunatics was a very big mistake indeed.

    Islam is the reason for Pakistan’s creation and existence. A fifth of the country was not “lost” to Sharia. It was won by Islam.

    Or, if you like, by a Version of Islam. If some other version of Islam is to prevail in Pakistan, then it had better get its act together. Because nothing but Islam matters for Pakistan.

    The point is: Islam commands the moral high ground in Pakistan. Right now the Taliban are out-Islam-ing everyone else.

    Deal with it.

  14. Jai — on 3rd March, 2009 at 7:57 pm  

    If some other version of Islam is to prevail in Pakistan, then it had better get its act together.

    That’s pretty much the crux of the matter. Otherwise the land of Bulleh Shah, Mian Mir, Baba Farid, and Lal Shahbaz Qalandar really will turn into the land of Aurangzeb; after which, God help Pakistan and God help us all.

  15. Roger — on 3rd March, 2009 at 8:14 pm  

    “Because nothing but Islam matters for Pakistan.”
    Not quite. Pakistan was not created for islam but for muslims- a ratheer different thing and inspired by different motives. The emphasis on islam and islamic purity may have been inevitable once Pakistan was created, but it wasn’t very important in the creation. The other paradox or irony is that the separation of Pakistan and Bangladesh has meant that both countries have been much more heavily influenced by Arabic- and especially Saudi- islam than when they defined themselves against one another and India in between.

  16. Roger — on 3rd March, 2009 at 8:15 pm  

    “Because nothing but Islam matters for Pakistan.”
    Not quite. Pakistan was not created for islam but for muslims- a rather different thing and inspired by different motives. The emphasis on islam and islamic purity may have been inevitable once Pakistan was created, but it wasn’t very important in the creation. The other paradox or irony is that the separation of Pakistan and Bangladesh has meant that both countries have been much more heavily influenced by Arabic- and especially Saudi- islam than when they defined themselves against one another and India in between.

  17. shariq — on 3rd March, 2009 at 8:41 pm  

    Platinum – excellent point about the Pakistani police. People often speak of the lack of investment in health care and education but law and order and justice are just as important. Unfortunately, the army has kept everyone scared about India, justifying their huge budget while the police has been constantly ignored.

    Roger, spot on about the difference b/w Pak being created for Muslims rather than Islam. The use of the word sacred was deliberate. Mosques, Politicians and Generals have already been bombed. Cricket was the last thing standing.

    Btw, giving Sharia in certain areas sounds stupid but really they are stuck either way. Reiterating what Jai said, all you can do is hope that these guys alienate themselves from the majority and the majority realise it.

    Finally, Imran Khan was a great captain but he’s lousy as a populist politician. This was clearly a very sophisticated attack and I’m not sure how much more security could have done. I mean Musharraf was almost assasinated a couple of times for gods sake.

  18. Leon — on 3rd March, 2009 at 8:42 pm  

    Interesting piece. Title is a bit over the top though.

  19. shariq — on 3rd March, 2009 at 9:01 pm  

    Leon see my last comment. It wasn’t intended to mean that Cricket is the only sacred thing in pakistan, but the last one left since they’ve already bombed mosques etc.

  20. Sofia — on 3rd March, 2009 at 9:04 pm  

    well you need to also figure in what year it became an ‘islamic republic’ as it wasn’t 1947

  21. qidniz — on 3rd March, 2009 at 9:44 pm  

    well you need to also figure in what year it became an ‘islamic republic’ as it wasn’t 1947

    1956, with the adoption of the first constitution. For the first nine years, Pakistan was a Commonwealth Dominion, with a government subject to the Government of India Act 1935. The second constitution in 1962 during Ayub Khan’s rule dropped “Islamic” from “Islamic Republic of Pakistan”. The third constitution in 1973 brought it back. Lots of history here.

    The point, however, is that the Constituent Assembly formed after independence left no real doubt, in its Guidelines for Propagation (“Wherein the Muslims shall be enabled to order their lives in the individual and collective spheres in accordance with the teachings and requirements of Islam as set out in the Holy Quran and the Sunnah” — note “collective”, i.e. political), on how Islamic the coming republic was going to be.

    So the factoid that Pakistan wasn’t an Islamic Republic at the crack of dawn in 1947 counts for squat.

  22. qidniz — on 4th March, 2009 at 1:28 am  

    This was clearly a very sophisticated attack

    More and more it looks like nothing of the sort.

    1. Only one rocket was fired. It missed the tour bus, and the entire operation was blown. Apparently the rocket wasn’t fired — and that too from behind — until the bus was already accelerating out of the roundabout into the road to the stadium. If so, why did the rocketman wait so long, and for that matter, why didn’t he position himself in front so that the bus would have come into his sights like a sitting duck?
    Thoroughly unprofessional.

    2. The two gunmen caught on tape were clearly weekenders. One was in a half-crouch, firing from the hip like a cowboy, the other one couldn’t make up his mind whether to run or to shoot or do both. Trained men would have taken positions, set, fired, and moved deliberately if they had to, always concentrating on their mission. These were rank amateurs.

    3. A dozen men couldn’t take out a single tour bus? They were not armed to the teeth — only one rocket! — with backup plans, etc. A shoestring operation, by an outfit not deep in either resources or training.

    Sorry, “very sophisticated” this was very far from.

    and I’m not sure how much more security could have done

    Found the mole beforehand. If the route was being changed every day, the ambushers were tipped off.

    That points to local involvement. The really grim thought is that the informer may be among the police dead.

  23. qidniz — on 4th March, 2009 at 1:41 am  

    Sorry, “very sophisticated” this was very far from.

    Of course, it will in the Pak goverment’s interest to pretend that the attack was “sophisticated”, by supreme professionals, etc, blah blah. That will make it easier to rationalize why they don’t catch anyone.

  24. platinum786 — on 4th March, 2009 at 9:38 am  

    It’s a common saying in Pakistan that whenever a crime occurs, (particularly robbery) the police will be aware of it before it occurs.

    It refers to the deepseated corruption throughout the police force. They’ll facilitated robberies and share the spoils. If a proper police investigation is ever carried out, don’t be suprised to find a police hand in there somewhere.

    As for out the Taliban “out Islaming people” yeah sure. There is only one god in Pakistan, the rupee. You can replace the legal frameworks, you can add Islamic or Super Islamic to the name of the country, but you’ll always be able to buy the police and the judges. Justice will come with a price tag.

    It’s amazing how narrow minded these Islamist types are. They thing by labelling things “Made by God” it’s going to fix things. What they don’t realise is that only works in a god fearing society.

    In a country where votes are cast based on caste and resources are torn along ethnic lines, where there is a market for skin whitenning cream, what do you think made by god is going to do?

  25. Fe'reeha — on 4th March, 2009 at 12:03 pm  

    Very well written!

    But being in Pakistan, I can give you ground reality. There is numbness everywhere. Noone knows what to believe in anymore. For years, my British friends used to joke with me that the only good news which comes from Pakistan on international scene is Cricket. Now we do not even have that anymore.

  26. Jai — on 4th March, 2009 at 1:03 pm  

    Pervez Hoodhboy’s article on the use of Urdu and Islam (not in a good way) to bind Pakistan has been passed around on e-mail and much discussed on the Pakistani blogosphere.

    Okay, I’ve just read the article in its entirety and agree that it’s excellent. Given the range of extremely relevant issues it covers and the clear, readable way it explains matters, the article needs a much higher profile here in the West than it currently has, and I think it should be recommended reading for anyone (including journalists along with the general public) who is interested in understanding what’s going on in that part of the world and its impact on global events as a whole.

    What would be an intersting thought experiment and maybe worthy of discussion, is if separation had not occurred, would muslims have faired better In a secular India?

    Difficult to say, but one answer is “Maybe”. Muslims are certainly highly represented in India’s entertainment industry, for example, and their profile and influence in Indian society & culture as a whole would be even higher if Partition had not occurred, due to sheer numbers and the historical links with Muslims and (subcontinental) Muslim culture in the northern half of India in particular.

    It’s also good to consider the time and resources — financial, military, political etc — that would have been better spent on the defence and wellbeing of the subcontinent as a whole rather than “in-fighting” between India and Pakistan during the past 62 years, along with the events involving Bangladesh in 1971. The entire region would have been stronger for it.

  27. qidniz — on 4th March, 2009 at 1:42 pm  

    That’s pretty much the crux of the matter. Otherwise the land of Bulleh Shah, Mian Mir, Baba Farid, and Lal Shahbaz Qalandar really will turn into the land of Aurangzeb; after which, God help Pakistan and God help us all.

    Well, someone commented on the Dawn blog: Why is that Pakistanis will riot and protest on the street regarding some cartoon in a Dutch newspaper that most haven’t even seen, or a book they haven’t read, but we won’t see a similar response regarding this…

    It is indeed a matter of choices. This includes choosing to make the choices known.

  28. platinum786 — on 4th March, 2009 at 1:48 pm  

    Excellent point, all these leaders who claim the ability to get millions on the streets, where are they now?

  29. AsifB — on 4th March, 2009 at 3:55 pm  

    If this outrage doesn’t cause Taliban types to bomb their way into unpopularity, then a failed/ doomed to split state becomes more likely.

    The more in sorrow than anger thoughts of William dalrymple that “A volatile mix of US-led military action in the tribal areas and the government’s misguided fostering of jihadi groups threatens the stability of the entire region” is worth a read. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/mar/04/pakistan-terrorism-international-conflict

    On a less appropriate note, is Dominic Cork planning to come back as a ghost?
    “Former England cricketer Dominic Cork, who was in Lahore commentating on Sri Lanka’s now abandoned second Test against Pakistan, said no more international cricket should be played in the country and vowed never to return. ‘I won’t be coming back here while I’m living, there is no chance. I don’t think international cricket should return to this country,’ Cork, a fast-medium bowler who played 37 Tests for England, told Sky News television in London.”
    http://www.newagebd.com/2009/mar/04/spt.html

  30. fug — on 4th March, 2009 at 4:02 pm  

    for sure if Sri lankans were aryan white theyd have got a heavier guard.

    how humiliating for guests to be attacked.

  31. Jai — on 4th March, 2009 at 4:07 pm  

    For (presumably mostly non-Asian) readers who may be unfamiliar with some of the names I listed in post #14, I thought it might be helpful to supply URL links to further information:

    Bulleh Shah: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulleh_Shah
    Mian Mir: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mian_Mir
    Baba Farid: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baba_Farid
    Lal Shahbaz Qalandar: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lal_Shahbaz_Qalandar

    You may also find it interesting to read about the following individuals too:

    Nizamuddin Auliya: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nizamuddin_Auliya
    Amir Khusro: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amir_Khusro
    The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aurangzeb

    And some further information on the Chishti order of Sufism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chishti_Order

    …..along with the Sufi musical style known as ‘qawwali’: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qawwali

    **************************

    You’ll notice some pertinent information in all of the summaries above in relation to Pervez Hoodhboy’s comments about the nature and development of ‘subcontinental Islam’ (especially in the north, including several regions of present-day Pakistan) during the past 1000 years and the differences with the “Talibanised”/Wahhabi version which has gained ground in recent years and which is now obviously causing considerable problems, both in relation to Pakistan & Afghanistan and also Al Qaeda, along with the various “radicals” we’ve had to deal with here in the UK and the ongoing problems with Anjem Choudary & the Islam4UK/Pizza HuT crowd.

    Regarding the latter, readers with an interest in history will also notice numerous similarities with Aurangzeb’s own interpretation of Islam along with his attitude towards non-Muslims and practices he deemed “unIslamic”; this ain’t the first time all this has happened, folks…..

    People who may have built up a certain view of “religious Islam” and Muslims in general based on the media, the activities of the “Islamists”, and various events post-9/11 should hopefully find this to be interesting and enlightening reading. Don’t believe everything Osama bin Laden, the Taliban and Anjem Choudary tell you…..

  32. Jai — on 4th March, 2009 at 4:39 pm  

    For (presumably mostly non-Asian) readers who may be unfamiliar with some of the names I listed in post #14, I thought it might be helpful to supply URL links to further information:

    Bulleh Shah: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulleh_Shah
    Mian Mir: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mian_Mir
    Baba Farid: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baba_Farid
    Lal Shahbaz Qalandar: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lal_Shahbaz_Qalandar

    You may also find it interesting to read about the following individuals too:

    Nizamuddin Auliya: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nizamuddin_Auliya
    Amir Khusro: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amir_Khusro
    The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aurangzeb

    And some further information on the Chishti order of Sufism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chishti_Order

    …..along with the Sufi musical style known as ‘qawwali’: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qawwali

    **************************

    You’ll notice some pertinent information in all of the summaries above in relation to Pervez Hoodhboy’s comments about the nature and development of ‘subcontinental Islam’ (especially in the north, including several regions of present-day Pakistan) during the past 1000 years and the differences with the “Talibanised”/Wahhabi version which has gained ground in recent years and which is now obviously causing considerable problems, both in relation to Pakistan & Afghanistan and also Al Qaeda, along with the various “radicals” we’ve had to deal with here in the UK and the ongoing problems with Anjem Choudary & the Islam4UK/Pizza HuT crowd.

    Regarding the latter, readers with an interest in history will also notice numerous similarities with Aurangzeb’s own interpretation of Islam along with his attitude towards non-Muslims and practices he deemed “unIslamic”; this ain’t the first time all this has happened, folks…..

    People who may have built up a certain view of “religious Islam” and Muslims in general based on the media, the activities of the “Islamists”, and various events post-9/11 should hopefully find this to be interesting and enlightening reading. Don’t believe everything Osama bin Laden, the Taliban and Anjem Choudary tell you…..

  33. Don — on 4th March, 2009 at 5:24 pm  

    for sure if Sri lankans were aryan white theyd have got a heavier guard.

    Why? And WTF is ‘Aryan’?

  34. munir — on 4th March, 2009 at 6:57 pm  

    Jai

    “For (presumably mostly non-Asian) readers who may be unfamiliar with some of the names I listed in post #14, I thought it might be helpful to supply URL links to further information:”

    And for those who need more background Jai is a Sikh. His bringing up Aurangzeb is no accident. Aurangzeb offed one of the Sikh Gurus so he is essential using his own religious fundamentalism to criticise others’. LOL.

  35. Don — on 4th March, 2009 at 7:44 pm  

    munir,

    I take you won’t be engaging Jai in substantive debate.

    I’ve never understood this LOL stuff. Does it mean you are laughing out loud at your own humour, or that you think we are? I mean, I can see it as recognising another’s shaft of wit, but to append it to one’s own post has always struck me as the oaf who laughs long and hard at his own jokes while nobody else does.

  36. The Dude — on 4th March, 2009 at 7:47 pm  

    I can’t imagine a cricketing world devoid of Pakistan. Now because of the actions of a couple a well trained raghead terrorists, that’s exactly what’s going to happen. When are the cricket-loving people of this great Muslim nation going to wake up and smell the curry. Your house is burning down and it’s time to put out the fire BEFORE IT”S TOO LATE. BTW: I support the West Indies but not the assholes who run the game in the Caribbean. Those motherfuckers deserve to be shot! The terrorist chose the right game BUT the wrong targets, in the wrong country. Playing a international test match on a beach ,for goodness sake!

  37. coffee — on 4th March, 2009 at 8:28 pm  

    this attack on Sri Lanka’s unsuspecting Cricket team is tragic because of the deaths and because of the long term effect this will haver internationally

  38. fug — on 4th March, 2009 at 9:11 pm  

    aryan white as opposed to dravidian brown…

    the security for the guests was less than that of a minister. in a way its understandable, who could have known they would have been targeted. now we know.

    terrible things getting closer and closer to the comfortable folks in pakistan. now would be a great time for intellectual leadership and the kind of socially led guiding that can undo so many years of cynically patronised mentalism.

    reflecting on other nonrelated shameful unfoldings in dhaka, is it because these matters are so close to the centre of the society that the hurt comfy locals so bad?

    In a horrible sense thats necessary, because people dont take things seriously when they happen on the periphery, they became aloof a long time ago.

  39. Jai — on 4th March, 2009 at 10:47 pm  

    Thanks Don.

    All I’m going to say is that if, by mentioning a series of devout Muslim historical figures from the subcontinent who were truly saintly individuals, who were respected and revered by people from a whole range of different religious backgrounds (they still are) and who were diametrically opposed to exactly the kind of narrow-minded, bigotted, blind fanaticism and arrogance represented by Aurangzeb and his modern-day counterparts, this inexplicably makes me some kind of “Sikh religious fundamentalist”, then I am clearly in extremely good company.

  40. Ravi Naik — on 4th March, 2009 at 11:01 pm  

    aryan white as opposed to dravidian brown…

    These days, only nazis and assorted idiots use the term “aryan” to denote race, and even more to talk about whites. Back in the 19th century and 20th century, the term was used to justify colonisation and racial supremacy.

  41. fug — on 4th March, 2009 at 11:22 pm  

    so you do understand irony

  42. Ravi Naik — on 5th March, 2009 at 10:21 am  

    so you do understand irony

    I do. I just don’t understand why you would use the term “aryan”.

  43. Shamit — on 5th March, 2009 at 11:11 am  

    Munir

    “His bringing up Aurangzeb is no accident.”

    I would have thought bringing up Aurangzeb and his reign is very relevant today. Contrasting his reign with that of his ancestor Akbar’s reign – its a classic case of moderation vs fanaticism.

    Akbar was an enlightened ruler who was compassionate and he thought himself to be King of all his people not only those who were Muslim.

    During Akbar’s reign, the Mughal dynasty reached its zenith and it was accomplished primarily through better governance and the moderate views of the Emperor. This open approach enabled him to govern and improve the quality of life of his people.

    Contrast that with the religious fanatic Aurangzeb — his legacy is starting the decay of the Mughal Empire. He ruled over the largest empire in the dynasty but had to fight continuous rebellion especially the last 25 years of his reign. Most of the people were against him except for a small Sunni orthodox population. And his reign saw ruining of indian architecture kind a like the Taliban. And people and society was not better of his reign.

    Aurangzeb is a classic case of what happens when you let fanatics are in power — and the world should be told about it repeatedly highlighting the negative connotations — just like we should continuously highlight Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Milosoevic, Mugabe, Saddam and so forth.

    Anyway, bringing up Aurangzeb in a discussion around fanatic religious extremists is not a sign of less tolerance but an important part of history from which the world should learn today.

  44. Jai — on 5th March, 2009 at 12:04 pm  

    Excellent post, Shamit. I couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s interesting that my passing references to Aurangzeb were what was pounced upon, considering that the other 95% of my post actually involved expressing admiration for a number of famous Muslim saints from the subcontinent’s pre-colonial medieval period.

    Again for the benefit of readers who may not necessarily be familiar with Aurangzeb — Imagine Osama bin Laden sitting on the throne of one of the largest, wealthiest, and most powerful empires on the planet, with all the associated resources at his disposal, and you’ll get the general idea. As Shamit and I have both said, there are certain parallels with (and precedents for) current global events.

    Even more relevent to the point: Unlike most of his Mughal ancestors and descendents, for various reasons (most of which are summarised in Aurangzeb’s Wikipedia profile which I linked to in #34, along with Shamit’s own post above), for the last 300 years Aurangzeb has essentially occupied the same position in the Indian social & cultural consciousness that Hitler does in the West.

    I’ll leave it to you to figure out exactly what that makes people who think Aurangzeb is someone to be admired.

  45. shariq — on 5th March, 2009 at 12:21 pm  

    Jai – of course the Pakistani educational system lionises Aurangzeb and demonises Akbar. And this is the official syllabus rather than madrassahs.

    Part of this is because Akbar forming his own religion was sacrilegious and a lot of people just can’t get over that.

    One thing though – a lot of historians now think that the Mughal empire collapsed because of structural reasons and that Aurangzeb’s rule didn’t contribute either way.

  46. Vikrant — on 5th March, 2009 at 12:24 pm  

    That’s pretty much the crux of the matter. Otherwise the land of Bulleh Shah, Mian Mir, Baba Farid, and Lal Shahbaz Qalandar really will turn into the land of Aurangzeb;

    Don’t Pakistanis have ballistic missiles named after Ghazni and Ghuri? I don’t think its a coincidence that they choose to name their ICBM’s after mass murderers!

    I’ll leave it to you to figure out exactly what that makes people who think Aurangzeb is someone to be admired.

    Exactly, Aurangzeb mass murdered Sikhs and Kashmiri Hindus in the north, Assamese in the east, Marathas and Rajput in the western India! If there was one thing uniting Indians in 17th century, i’d daresay it would hatred of Aurangzeb!

  47. Vikrant — on 5th March, 2009 at 12:30 pm  

    One thing though – a lot of historians now think that the Mughal empire collapsed because of structural reasons and that Aurangzeb’s rule didn’t contribute either way.

    Well wasnt the multitude of revolts formented by Aurangzeb’s intolerance the main reason for Mughal empire’s demise? Entire nations like that of Marathas and Sikhs emerged after Aurangzeb’s death innit?

  48. munir — on 5th March, 2009 at 1:20 pm  

    shamit

    “I would have thought bringing up Aurangzeb and his reign is very relevant today. Contrasting his reign with that of his ancestor Akbar’s reign – its a classic case of moderation vs fanaticism.”

    Give us a break. Akbar essentially created a new religion and was not too tolerant of Muslim religious practices or those who diverged from his religion

    Jai
    ” for the last 300 years Aurangzeb has essentially occupied the same position in the Indian social & cultural consciousness that Hitler does in the West.”

    The stupidest statement yet. Replace “extreme Hindu and Sikh” with indian and you might be somonewhere (i guess in your mind they are synonmous). Amongst Muslims he is admired. Aurangzeb was the last major ruler of the Mughals the dynasty replaced by the British. It is the way of new empires to portray those they replaced as evil as possible so they can be seen as saviours. Hence the black propganda against the Mughals and Aurangzeb in particualr which is still promoted in indian textbooks.

    Id recommend this article which quotes historical facts and non-extreme Hindu historians. Remeber Aurangzeb made a Hindu the head of almost entirely Muslim Afghanistan!

    http://www.albalagh.net/general/0093.shtml

    For example, historian Babu Nagendranath Banerjee rejected the accusation of forced conversion of Hindus by Muslim rulers by stating that if that was their intention then in India today there would not be nearly four times as many Hindus compared to Muslims, despite the fact that Muslims had ruled for nearly a thousand years. Banerjee challenged the Hindu hypothesis that Aurangzeb was anti-Hindu by reasoning that if the latter were truly guilty of such bigotry, how could he appoint a Hindu as his military commander-in-chief? Surely, he could have afforded to appoint a competent Muslim general in that position. Banerjee further stated: “No one should accuse Aurangzeb of being communal minded. In his administration, the state policy was formulated by Hindus. Two Hindus held the highest position in the State Treasury. Some prejudiced Muslims even questioned the merit of his decision to appoint non-Muslims to such high offices. The Emperor refuted that by stating that he had been following the dictates of the Shariah (Islamic Law) which demands appointing right persons in right positions.” During Aurangzeb’s long reign of fifty years, many Hindus, notably Jaswant Singh, Raja Rajrup, Kabir Singh, Arghanath Singh, Prem Dev Singh, Dilip Roy, and Rasik Lal Crory, held very high administrative positions. Two of the highest ranked generals in Aurangzeb’s administration, Jaswant Singh and Jaya Singh, were Hindus. Other notable Hindu generals who commanded a garrison of two to five thousand soldiers were Raja Vim Singh of Udaypur, Indra Singh, Achalaji and Arjuji. One wonders if Aurangzeb was hostile to Hindus, why would he position all these Hindus to high positions of authority, especially in the military, who could have mutinied against him and removed him from his throne?

    Most Hindus like Akbar over Aurangzeb for his multi-ethnic court where Hindus were favored. Historian Shri Sharma states that while Emperor Akbar had fourteen Hindu Mansabdars (high officials) in his court, Aurangzeb actually had 148 Hindu high officials in his court. (Ref: Mughal Government) But this fact is somewhat less known.

    A stone inscription in the historic Balaji or Vishnu Temple, located north of Chitrakut Balaghat, still shows that it was commissioned by the Emperor himself. The proof of Aurangzeb’s land grant for famous Hindu religious sites in Kasi, Varanasi can easily be verified from the deed records extant at those sites. The same textbook reads: “During the fifty year reign of Aurangzeb, not a single Hindu was forced to embrace Islam. He did not interfere with any Hindu religious activities.” (p. 138) Alexander Hamilton, a British historian, toured India towards the end of Aurangzeb’s fifty year reign and observed that every one was free to serve and worship God in his own way.

  49. Sid — on 5th March, 2009 at 1:24 pm  

    I wonder how differently Indian history would have turned out had Shah Jahan’s eldest and favourite son, Dara Shukoh had rightfully claimed the throne instead of the younger upstart, Aurangzeb.

  50. munir — on 5th March, 2009 at 2:02 pm  

    Sid
    “I wonder how differently Indian history would have turned out had Shah Jahan’s eldest and favourite son, Dara Shukoh had rightfully claimed the throne instead of the younger upstart, Aurangzeb.”

    (Clasps hands in joy) Ohhh it would have been sooooo wonderful. Many more Muslims who now be worshipping Shiva/Rats/Monkeys/Cows rather than being evil monotheists. The Upanishads and Guru Granth Sahib would be being taught in maddrassas instead of the Quran.

  51. munir — on 5th March, 2009 at 2:06 pm  

    Vikrant
    “Don’t Pakistanis have ballistic missiles named after Ghazni and Ghuri? I don’t think its a coincidence that they choose to name their ICBM’s after mass murderers! ”

    Your calling people considered hereos to Muslims, men who were great warriors “mass murderers” is redolent of a bigoted sectarian mind.

  52. Shamit — on 5th March, 2009 at 2:24 pm  

    Munir

    You are contradicting yourself. Post 50 claims there were no mass conversions to Islam during Aurangzeb’s reign and in 52 it claims that if Dara Sukho became Emperor far more people would have been practicing Sikhs and Hindus.

    I guess you are trying to make up an argument as you go along. You have no point to prove but somehow there is an element of anti-Islam bigotry in the commentary above.

    Could one argue the moderate nature of Akbar’s philosophy actually embedded Islam as an integral part of the Sub continent culture? Prior to Akbar’s reign, it was viewed very much as an alien religion to India. But during Akbar’s reign it started manifesting itself as a part of the sub-continent.

    An underlying part of your argument is Aurangzeb was good for Muslims and your views of history suggests that as long as Kings?emperors were for Muslims its okay with you even if that means not being ruler and thus protector of all the people.

    Should any leader think that a life of someone who shares his religion should be more important than one who doesn’t? Isn’t s/he supposed to protect them all and work towards better life for all their citizens?

    If not they don’t deserve to be leaders in the first place — and thankfully the world agrees. Otherwise, the KKK and the BNP would be running respective governments of the US and the UK.

    So do you even get what people have been trying to write here? I suspect you don’t

  53. Jai — on 5th March, 2009 at 2:26 pm  

    Vikrant,

    re: #48 & 49

    Spot on ;) Very well said.

    *********************

    Shariq,

    Jai – of course the Pakistani educational system lionises Aurangzeb and demonises Akbar. And this is the official syllabus rather than madrassahs.

    I can understand the antipathy towards Akbar — not that I agree with it, of course, but it makes sense — but the glorification of Aurangzeb is part of the problem, and one which Pakistan is now starting to pay a terrible price for.

    If the Pakistani authorities were looking for a historical Islamic ruler to place on a pedestal, a better example would have been…..well, practically every other Mughal emperor. And on a non-political level, of course the aforementioned examples of various historical Sufi saints from what is now Pakistan and other areas of northern India would have been relevant too.

    Incidentally, with the obvious exception of Aurangzeb, most of the Mughals are actually greatly liked — even admired — by the majority of modern-day Indians, both Muslim and non-Muslim alike. And to give an example of widespread Indian attitudes towards the Mughals long after the ‘Great Mughals’ era but still in the past, I’m sure you know about the massive rush to support Bahadur Shah Zafar during the events of 1857 and attempt to resurrect Mughal imperial rule over the subcontinent.

    I’ve read through the Dalrymple article from the Guardian that you linked to as well, by the way; quite lengthy but, again, extremely informative and recommended reading. I thought that the last couple of paragraphs involving Sindh and the local version of Islam were especially poignant and thought-provoking.

  54. Jai — on 5th March, 2009 at 2:35 pm  

    Shariq,

    One thing though – a lot of historians now think that the Mughal empire collapsed because of structural reasons and that Aurangzeb’s rule didn’t contribute either way.

    I would have to politely disagree, and most historians still would. There’s no doubt that excessive expansion and overstretched resources played a huge part in the empire’s subsequent collapse, but given the fact that Aurangzeb’s policies (particularly those of a religious nature) simultaneously resulted in escalating warfare with the Marathas and the now-militarised Sikhs, along with his systematic stripping of his subjects’ rights to religious freedom, his imposition of the most hardline interpretations of Shariah Law and Islam in general on a huge and increasingly dissaffected (and mostly non-Muslim) populace, and his direct authorisation of atrocities or refusal to punish officials who were guilty of them…..Well, the disintegration of his empire was basically a foregone conclusion. Even more so when you consider the fact that he took the monumentally stupid and suicidal step of taking his bigotry and religious fanaticism so far that he ended up alienating many of the (mostly Hindu) Rajputs, who had played a huge role in the Mughal Empire’s military and administrative machinery for 200 years.

    I’d actually classify this as a textbook case of imperial mismanagement, especially when it involves a multi-religious, (to use a modern term) multicultural populace whose support and cooperation it is critical to have (especially the latter’s military and aristocratic elite) when the bulk of them are from a different background to you and when even huge numbers of your co-religionists in the region have a different interpretation of your religion to you. At least (for various reasons, some of which involved the efforts of other historical figures at the time) Aurangzeb saw the error of his ways at the very end of his life, when he was practically — and eventually literally — on his death-bed.

    Following on from this, and also tying this in to Sid’s pertinent comment below…..

    wonder how differently Indian history would have turned out had Shah Jahan’s eldest and favourite son, Dara Shukoh had rightfully claimed the throne instead of the younger upstart, Aurangzeb.

    …..I think that Aurangzeb’s victory in the war of succession, his subsequent reversal of his 3 immediate predecessors’ generally tolerant and (to some extent, especially by medieval standards) consensus-based attitude to rule in an extremely diverse empire, and the escalating implosion of the empire afer his death, all had catastrophic consequences for the entire subcontinent. Imagine if none of this had occurred; bearing in mind the subsequent power vacuum, and what happened during the next 250 years, the course of history — not only in that region but in the whole world — would probably have been very different indeed.

    We’ve all paid the price for this, and — considering recent & current events in Pakistan and Afghanistan — the ramifications and consequences are now global.

  55. Shamit — on 5th March, 2009 at 2:36 pm  

    It’s interesting that my passing references to Aurangzeb were what was pounced upon, considering that the other 95% of my post actually involved expressing admiration for a number of famous Muslim saints from the subcontinent’s pre-colonial medieval period.

    Jai — I think Munir’s agenda is quite obvious by now. He is not interested in engaging in any thoughtful debate — he wants to point out how anti-Islam we all are. While trying to paint us as bigots — I wonder when one reads the thread who among the commentator would fit the description best?

    By the way good comments on this thread mate.

  56. Shamit — on 5th March, 2009 at 2:36 pm  

    It’s interesting that my passing references to Aurangzeb were what was pounced upon, considering that the other 95% of my post actually involved expressing admiration for a number of famous Muslim saints from the subcontinent’s pre-colonial medieval period.

    Jai — I think Munir’s agenda is quite obvious by now. He is not interested in engaging in any thoughtful debate — he wants to point out how anti-Islam we all are. While trying to paint us as bigots — I wonder when one reads the thread who among the commentator would fit the description best?

    By the way good comments as usual on this thread mate.

  57. Sid — on 5th March, 2009 at 2:55 pm  

    (Clasps hands in joy) Ohhh it would have been sooooo wonderful. Many more Muslims who now be worshipping Shiva/Rats/Monkeys/Cows rather than being evil monotheists. The Upanishads and Guru Granth Sahib would be being taught in maddrassas instead of the Quran.

    eh? Dara Shukoh was an adept of the Naqshbandi order. Why should that have resulted in the worship of “Shiva/Rats/Monkeys/Cows”? I think you’re referring to Akbar. the Mughal who formulated the syncretic faith din-i-Ilahi.

    Whatever you think of Akbar and however much you support his detractors, remember that Akbar is still celebrated today for his far-sighted tolerance. And those who remember Ahmed Sirhindi, if at all, as the the cleric who attacked Akbar for being “un-Islamic” regard him as a joyless religious bigot. Much like our friend Munir/blah-job.

    And what indeed is the problem if the Upanishads and the Guru Granth be taught in madrassahs?

  58. munir — on 5th March, 2009 at 3:23 pm  

    Sid

    “eh? Dara Shukoh was an adept of the Naqshbandi order. ”

    ” And those who remember Ahmed Sirhindi, if at all, as the the cleric who attacked Akbar for being “un-Islamic” regard him as a joyless religious bigot”

    Pure idiocy. Ahmed Sirhindi was the greatest Naqshabandi scholar in India history a giant in its tariqa. He is well known by Muslims all over the world as far as Turkey. Given Akbar was the ruler of an Empire he would necessarily be better known.

    Are you seriously claiming Akbar wasnt unislamic?
    So inventing a new religion you claim supersedes Islam and calling yourself divine isnt unislamic according to PP’s resident Islam expert Sid.

    “And what indeed is the problem if the Upanishads and the Guru Granth be taught in madrassahs?”

    Youve seriously lost it. Because they arent Muslim religious texts and arent considered the truth/the word of God. The Quran and books of tafsir, fiqh aqeeda are. The Upanishads may well contain something of divine revelation – but may also be mixed with idolatry. The Guru Granth teaches monotheism but isnt considered the word of God.

  59. munir — on 5th March, 2009 at 3:34 pm  

    Shamit- you arent the brightest spark are you?

    “You are contradicting yourself. Post 50 claims there were no mass conversions to Islam during Aurangzeb’s reign and in 52 it claims that if Dara Sukho became Emperor far more people would have been practicing Sikhs and Hindus.”

    Two totally different things Shamit. The article says that there werent mass FORCED conversions to Islam. How does that tally with more Muslims not become idolaters? Islam in India has always be a minority and the dominant culure has alaways been Hindu. Indeed most of the vile attitudes/acts in opposition to Islam some Muslims in the subcontinent have come from this fact.

    Without great scholars and leaders who stood for orthodoxy Islam would have died

    “Could one argue the moderate nature of Akbar’s philosophy actually embedded Islam as an integral part of the Sub continent culture? ”

    Only and idiot or chauvanist who ignored the centuries of Islam in India before Akbar or who believs as you seemed to do that you cant be a Muslim who believes in Islam and be an India – you have to change Islam to another religion.

    “Prior to Akbar’s reign, it was viewed very much as an alien religion to India.”

    Wow I never new you were so old. You are to be commended at being able to use the internet despite being hundreds of years old. Again a big suprise to the millions of Muslims living in India.

    “An underlying part of your argument is Aurangzeb was good for Muslims and your views of history suggests that as long as Kings emperors were for Muslims its okay with you even if that means not being ruler and thus protector of all the people.?”

    No it isnt retard. Reread the post. Its that Aurangzeb wasnt as bad for Hindus as has been claimed by Hinduvata propganda. Since the rest of your commenst follow this false premise they are redundant.

  60. Sid — on 5th March, 2009 at 3:51 pm  

    Pure idiocy. Ahmed Sirhindi was the greatest Naqshabandi scholar in India history a giant in its tariqa. He is well known by Muslims all over the world as far as Turkey. Given Akbar was the ruler of an Empire he would necessarily be better known.

    That’s debatable. His teachings were not strictly esoteric and he was more of a jurist/scholar who got his turban in a twist about Akbar’s far-sighted tolerance.

    Are you seriously claiming Akbar wasnt unislamic?
    So inventing a new religion you claim supersedes Islam and calling yourself divine isnt unislamic according to PP’s resident Islam expert Sid.

    I don’t think Akbar was unIslamic at all. He was bringing together the religions in an unprecedented attempt to unify the myriad religions and sects in India as an attempt at *political* unification. His intentions were rooted in politics as opposed to religious purism. Quite an honourable intention if you’re not a religious supremacist. But of course, it can easily be regarded as heterodox by ignorant people. I think he was ahead of his time and the genius of India could have easily adopted his ideas, and very nearly did, if it were not for orthodox jurists like Sirhindi. But Sirhindi’s legacy is Aurangzeb and look where his reign left the Mughal dynsasty.

  61. Sid — on 5th March, 2009 at 4:11 pm  

    Youve seriously lost it. Because they arent Muslim religious texts and arent considered the truth/the word of God. The Quran and books of tafsir, fiqh aqeeda are. The Upanishads may well contain something of divine revelation – but may also be mixed with idolatry. The Guru Granth teaches monotheism but isnt considered the word of God.

    No shit sherlock, it is quite obvious the Upanishads and the Guru Granth are not Islamic texs. But just as religious schools in the UK are bound by law to teach the basics of other religions, then perhaps that should be the case with madrassas.

    On the other hand, I knew a few people who are the products of Southasian madrassah education and they are extremely chilled, well-rounded, tolerant people who can be objective and self-critical of their religious beliefs.

    What turned you into a narrow, spittle-flecked, hyper-sensitive religious bigot in spite of being a product of the British education system is, however, anybody’s guess.

  62. munir — on 5th March, 2009 at 4:34 pm  

    Sid
    “That’s debatable. His teachings were not strictly esoteric and he was more of a jurist/scholar who got his turban in a twist about Akbar’s far-sighted tolerance. ”

    Totally cluelessness. So he wasnt “strictly esoteric” ? so what? doesnt mean he wasnt a Sufi.
    He was the leader of the Naqshabandi sufi order in India!!!

    “Most of the Naqshbandi suborders today, such as the Mujaddidi, the Khalidi, Tahiri and the Haqqani sub-orders, trace their spiritual lineage through Shaykh Sirhindi, referring to themselves as “Naqshbandi-Mujaddidi”.

    The fact that his teachings “were not strictly esoteric” doensnt mean that they werent . You seem to be saying that as soon as a spiritual person also involves themselves in the law (and Islam as you know they co exist together) they cease being spiritual !!!!

    “he was more of a jurist/scholar ”

    More Sidignorance. The main book he has left behind is al Maktubat a book of SUFI teachings. Not a work of fiqh!

    “I don’t think Akbar was unIslamic at all.”

    He invented a new religion he said superceded Islam Sid!! Stop digging

    Here are some elements of Akbars religion which you say arent unislamic

    “DÄ«n-i IlāhÄ« as propounded by Akbar combined mysticism, philosophy and nature worship. It also recognized no gods or prophets.”

    Sid believes nature worship, and not believeng in God or His Prophets arent unislamic.

    BTW you should read the wikipedia entry on Akbar- makes he seem like a jihadi. Seems some of our Hinduvata friends dont even like your mate Akbar.

    ” He was bringing together the religions in an unprecedented attempt to unify the myriad religions and sects in India as an attempt at *political* unification.”

    Or to extend his control by having people worship him.
    It is in any case an impossible task with regards variant religious beleifs. In fact Akbar was far less sincere and admirable that Aurangzeb since Akbar promoted his religion to extend his power while Aurangzeb promoted his even though it actually hurt him in holding onto power.

    ” His intentions were rooted in politics as opposed to religious purism. Quite an honourable intention if you’re not a religious supremacist.”

    Muslims believe truth exists in other religions but that only Islam is the whole truth.While Islam allows people to practice them we dont believe that other religions are valid or true. Christians are the same.
    Using idiotic terms like “religious supremacist” doesnt change that.

    Its not an exact analogy but is someone who believes only British law should be followed in the UK a “British supreemacist”? If you believe only Bengali should be the national language of Bangladesh are you a “Bengali supremacist”?

    ” But of course, it can easily be regarded as heterodox by ignorant people. I think he was ahead of his time and the genius of India could have easily adopted his ideas, and very nearly did, if it were not for orthodox jurists like Sirhindi. But Sirhindi’s legacy is Aurangzeb and look where his reign left the Mughal dynsasty.”

    So if not for Sirhindi we would all be syncretists following a mish mash or religions, worshipping Akbar ?. Alhamdullilah for Sirhindi then!!!
    Your calling SIRHINDI ignorant is laughable – like a pygmy calling a giant “shorty”

    So there we have it. Sid is upset that Muslims in India actually follow Islam rather than being followers of other religions!!

  63. Jai — on 5th March, 2009 at 4:36 pm  

    Sid,

    Bloody good points in #59, #62 and #63, mate.

    ****************

    Shamit,

    By the way good comments as usual on this thread mate.

    Cheers, you too.

    I think Munir’s agenda is quite obvious by now. He is not interested in engaging in any thoughtful debate — he wants to point out how anti-Islam we all are.

    It’s basically about promoting and protecting a certain version of Islam, which he is claiming to be the “real” one. Attacking anyone whom he perceives to undermine this version along with its modern-day and historical proponents, by any means necessary, is a manifestation of this. The same applies to the denials about historical brutality & atrocities and the simultaneous (and paradoxical) glorification of unprovoked aggression against non-Muslims by certain Muslims claimed to be “great warriors”. Someone with an unshakeable faith in the ideology of Nazism and a belief that Hitler was its most pious adherent would react in exactly the same way, for example.

    Of course, the rest of us aren’t against Islam per se, just his interpretation of it. Most religions have their respective “followers” (I used the term very loosly indeed) with a very twisted idea of spirituality; Christianity has the KKK, Hinduism has the RSS, the Sri Ram Sena and other Hindutva groups, and so on and so forth. Unfortuately, Islam is no different.

    There are — and have been for centuries — other interpretations of Islam and other heroic Muslim figures in the subcontinent who had a very different mindset. I think it’s extremely important for everyone to be aware of this and to bear this in mind.

  64. Sid — on 5th March, 2009 at 4:38 pm  

    The irony is, Sirhindi was more leftfield than you will ever be.

  65. Jai — on 5th March, 2009 at 4:39 pm  

    Shamit,

    So do you even get what people have been trying to write here? I suspect you don’t

    *Wry smile* I think that, at the moment, it would be difficult for things to sink in, because he has the same problem that Osama bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahri have, the same problem that the Wahhabis have, the same problem that the Taliban (both in Afghanistan and now, disturbingly, also in Pakistan) have, and the same problem that (except for the short period at the very end of his life) Aurangzeb and several other well-known Muslim figures in the subcontinent’s history had.

    None of this is new, as I keep saying.

    And remember that there were revered Muslim saints such as Nizamuddin Auliya, Baba Farid, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, Amir Khusro, Mian Mir and Bulleh Shah who taught and practised a very different version of Islam and spirituality in general, and — depending on who their contemporaries were at the time — were forcefully opposed to the interpretation of Islam practised by Aurangzeb, Jahangir (to some extent), and several other Muslim rulers previously based in Delhi, along with the actions these rulers had committed whilst claiming to act in the name of Islam.

    I guess it ultimately comes down to whom a person believes to more saintly and a more authentic representation of Islam: The aforementioned historical Muslim saints who are still extremely well-known and loved by people in the subcontinent (especially the north) and by members of a number of different faiths, or the aggressive warlords and rulers whose actions these saints condemned and whose interpretation of Islam they contradicted.

    Something for everyone to ponder, perhaps.

  66. Jai — on 5th March, 2009 at 4:51 pm  

    I’ve read through the Dalrymple article from the Guardian that you linked to as well, by the way; quite lengthy but, again, extremely informative and recommended reading. I thought that the last couple of paragraphs involving Sindh and the local version of Islam were especially poignant and thought-provoking.

    Apologies Shariq, I see that it was actually AsifB who linked to this article in #31 (Sorry for the mix-up, Asif).

    Anyway, here’s the quote concerned, for anyone who’s interested. It makes some extremely relevant points regarding the current problems in Pakistan and, indeed, also in relation to some of the other associated topics being discussed on this thread:

    A third factor is somehow finding a way to stop the madrasa-inspired and Saudi-financed advance of Wahhabi Islam, which is directly linked to the spread of anti-western radicalisation.

    On my last visit to Pakistan, it was very clear that while the Wahhabi-dominated north-west was on the verge of falling under the sway of the Taliban, the same was not true of the Sufi-dominated province of Sindh, which currently is quieter and safer than it has been for some time. Here in southern Pakistan, on the Indian border, Sufi Islam continues to act as a powerful defence against the puritanical fundamentalist Islam of the Wahhabi mullahs, which supports intolerance of all other faiths.

    Visiting the popular Sufi shrine of Sehwan in Sindh last month, I was astonished by the strength of feeling expressed against the mullahs by the Sindhis who look to their great saints such a Lal Shabaz Qalander for guidance, and hate the Wahhabis who criticise the popular Islam of the Sufi saints as a form of shirk, or heresy: “All these mullahs should be damned,” said one old Sufi I talked to in the shrine.

    “They read their books but they never understand the true message of love that the prophet preached. Men so blind as them cannot even see the shining sun.”

    A Delhi friend who visited shortly before me, the former Guardian Africa correspondent James Astill, met a young man from Swat, in the NWFP, who said he had considered joining the militants, but their anti-Sufi attitude had put him off: “No one can deny us our respected saints of God,” he said.

    The Saudis have invested intensively in Wahhabi madrasas in the NWFP and Punjab, with dramatic effect, radically changing the religious landscape of an entire region. The tolerant Sufi culture of Sindh has been able to defy this imported Wahhabi radicalism. The politically moderating effect of Sufism was recently described in a Rand Corporation report recommending support for Sufism as an “open, intellectual interpretation of Islam”. Here is an entirely indigenous and homegrown Islamic resistance movement to fundamentalism, with deep roots in South Asian culture. Its importance cannot be overestimated. Could it have a political effect in a country still dominated by military forces that continue to fund and train jihadi groups? It is one of the few sources of hope left in the increasingly bleak political landscape of this strategically crucial country.

  67. Rumbold — on 5th March, 2009 at 5:31 pm  

    As much as I dislike Aurangzeb, I tend to agree with Shariq. The Mughal Empire was already declining by the time he came to power, as this was a result of structural problems, not personal problems (I think that most other historians would agree with that). Quite simply, the system was unstable, and had always been so.

    The Mughal system relied on Mughal commanders raising troops in return for grants of land (jagirs). Commanders/nobles would be assigned a certain number (say 2000/100), which would indicate not only their rank but the amount of infantry and cavalry which they were expected to raise. What had happened for most of the 17th century was that the difference between the paper strength and the actual strength of Mughal forces had widened massively as nobles raised less troops then ordered and pocketed the difference. No Mughal emperor had been able to remedy this. In addition, more commanders were being added to the empire and were given ever inflated titles, but without the proper jagirs to assign to them.

    Frequent civil wars between potential imperial successors further devastated the land (Jahangir revolted against his father, Shah Jahan against his, and most of Shah Jahan’s sons against him). In addition, the rise of the Marathas presented the Mughal empire with a heavily-armed foe able to strike deep from fortified bases and raid villages, while practicing guerrilla warfare. Against this, Mughal heavy cavalry was fairly useless, as they weren’t able to fight pitched battles. Not for the first time, an empire built on conquest learnt it was a lot either to plunder than to defend its gains against other plunderers.

    Intolerant religious polices did weaken the support base of the Mughals (especially amongst the Rajputs), but their impact, at the time, was only peripheral. Much as people admire Dara Sukokh’s philosophy, he was simply not competent enough to take charge (compared to Aurangzeb/Alamgir, who was an experienced military commander by that point).

  68. Jai — on 5th March, 2009 at 6:47 pm  

    Rumbold,

    compared to Aurangzeb/Alamgir, who was an experienced military commander by that point

    Hmm. Tricky point to make, because according to that logic, Hitler was “the right person at the right time” for Germany in the 1930s, due to the boost that his policies gave to German employment and industry, the considerable increase in the efficiency of the country’s infrastructure and transport system, the vast swathes of territory he conquered for the German people, the “renewed sense of pride and purpose” he gave them, and so on. But would anyone in their right mind (either now or at the time) believe that Hitler was really the best person for the job, compared to the less fanatical and, well, less psychopathic alternatives at the time ?

    I’m not implying by any means that you agree with either Hitler or Aurangzeb’s policies – in fact, it’s clear from your last post that you don’t (and, being the decent guy that you are, I never would have assumed this to be the case anyway), but hopefully you understand my point.

    Much as people admire Dara Sukokh’s philosophy, he was simply not competent enough to take charge

    Not necessarily. For example, quite a few people originally made similar assumptions about Abraham Lincoln, and we all know how he actually turned out to be, including his exemplary leadership during the American Civil War (despite not having any kind of military background or formal training himself).

    *****************************

    By the way, William Dalrymple is in the process of writing another 4 books about the Mughals, which is quite exciting. You should read Dalrymple’s “The Last Mughal” too, if you haven’t done so already.

  69. qidniz — on 5th March, 2009 at 8:33 pm  

    Ahmed Sirhindi was the greatest Naqshabandi scholar in India history a giant in its tariqa. He is well known by Muslims all over the world as far as Turkey.

    Indeed. This paragon of Islamic scholarship never came within even a hundred miles of a Jew in his entire life, and yet he wrote, “Whenever a Jew is killed it is for the benefit of Islam.”

    Truly a giant.

  70. SHAKIL — on 5th March, 2009 at 8:40 pm  

    The christaian criketer who converted to Islam was
    Yousuf Youhana then now Muhammad Yousuf.

  71. Rumbold — on 5th March, 2009 at 9:25 pm  

    Jai:

    I don’t like Aurangzeb. He was a narrow-minded bigot who persecuted Sikhs (amongst others), and damaged relations between faiths. But as a historian you have to divorce a personal like or dislike from analysing the impact that a ruler made. And having studied the Mughal empire pretty extensively I would argue that structural problems had the biggest impact.

    As for Dara Sukokh, I agree that we don’t know how he would have turned out. But Mughal rulers at that time had to be able to show that they could lead armies in the field competently. Again, he was one of the nicer Mughals, but nice doesn’t always mean effective.

    I have read the Last Mughal, on your recommendation. I really enjoyed it. For you, I would (re-)recommend J. F. Richard’s The Mughal Empire. It is the best one-volume account of the period, and I doubt that you will find many who disagree with that sentiment.

  72. fug — on 6th March, 2009 at 1:14 am  

    oh dear, its bad history day.

    the elite candle lit vigil thing, as demonstrated by lahoris post-this-atrocity says a number of things.

    “We are so far away from acquaintance, fluency and creativity in religious life that we are unable to reform, guide and take corrective steps to address our mentalist issues. Instead we shall just build out atomised castles and consume failed solutions from our thoughtmasters abroad.”

  73. Sunny — on 6th March, 2009 at 3:29 am  

    At least they don’t make excuses for terrorists fug.

  74. Jai — on 6th March, 2009 at 9:36 am  

    Rumbold,

    but nice doesn’t always mean effective.

    I guess it depends on what one’s definition of ‘effective’ is…..

    I’m still going to politely disagree with your downplaying of the impact of Aurangzeb’s bigotry and conservatism on the Indian population; ‘structural issues’, as you described it, were the primary reasons for the empire’s subsequent disintegration, but I certainly wouldn’t diminish the effect of Aurangzeb’s religious policies and the actions he undertook as a result of his worldview, especially when already-overstretched imperial resources had to be deployed to deal with increasingly aggressive military insurrections involving the Marathas and the Sikhs respectively, along with outbreaks involving several other groups. The latter may not have been the main cause for the collapse in Mughal power but it was certainly the secondary reason, and with all due respect, I think that simply describing this as ‘peripheral’ does not do justice to the significance of what occurred, the impact it had on the subcontinent’s society, or its repercussions for centuries afterwards, right up to the present day. Remember my previous remarks about the parallels with the ongoing emotional & cultural resonance of Hitler and Nazism here in the West, irrespective of how ‘effective’ Hitler may have been as a leader for his own people and as an imperialist conqueror during the time he was in power.

    Incidentally, it’s also worth mentioning that one of the famous Sufi saints I referred to a couple of times earlier, Bulleh Shah, was a contemporary witness of the escalating conflicts between what can be called ‘the Aurangzeb Administration’ and the Sikhs, and many of his writings reflect this. In fact, eventually he was so outraged at Aurangzeb’s bigotry and fanaticism that he ended up personally taking up arms and joined Guru Gobind Singh’s army. Bulleh Shah is not a ‘peripheral’ figure where the subcontinent’s culture is concerned, especially in the north and most of all in the Punjab region in both India and Pakistan. His qawwalis (and modern interpretations of them) are still very popular and have been sung by aficionados on both sides of the border, including the late great Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

  75. Jai — on 6th March, 2009 at 9:39 am  

    Anyway, the issue of the collapse of the Mughal Empire is a tangential argument, and I think we shouldn’t get too sidetracked. The key issue in relation to this thread’s main discussion is the interpretation of Islam that Aurangzeb practised and promoted for most of his life, and the fact that there are now modern-day Islamist groups which are involved in doing exactly the same thing, obviously with extremely destructive consequences. In fact, there is a direct causal relationship between Aurangzeb’s mentality and the Wahhabi movement; the latter obviously originated in the Middle East, but there are also records from the 19th century where senior figures involved in the movement and connected with the subcontinent stated outright that they viewed Aurangzeb’s miserable, excessively austere, hypocritical, narrow-minded, and in many aspects downright psychopathic interpretation of Islam – and the ways he put this into practice – as something to admire, emulate, and indeed forcibly impose on others.

    But as I said before, there have been other interpretations of Islam in the subcontinent for a very long time – including the area now called Pakistan – and the question now is whether Asian Muslims both in Pakistan and amongst the diaspora overseas choose to continue those traditions – and, indeed, to fight for them – or submit to current efforts to overturn, reverse and re-write about a thousand years of history.

    When you have some spare time, I’d also recommend that you check out the Wikipedia links for the profiles of those Muslim saints which I supplied in #34. They belonged to a different Sufi background than the Naqshbandi order which has been mentioned by Munir and Sid. Despite the impression some readers may get based on various remarks by Munir on this thread, these saints are actually amongst the historical Sufi figures who are the most famous and venerated in the subcontinent and whose examples and teachings (along with the resulting music) have played a considerable role in the interpretation of Islam and spirituality which has had a positive impact on Asian culture and which has been practised by huge numbers of Muslims in that part of the world for centuries (and still is, although tragically this is obviously less common these days amongst some quarters of the Pakistani population).

    It’s all a very far cry indeed from Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Wahhabism, Islam4UK, HuT, Anjem Choudary, Omar Bakri, and the beliefs and actions of some our homegrown British jihadi terrorists.

  76. Jai — on 6th March, 2009 at 9:44 am  

    For you, I would (re-)recommend J. F. Richard’s The Mughal Empire.

    Thanks Rumbold. I’d also like to re-recommend the following:

    The Mughal Throne by Abraham Eraly – another superb, lengthy (and exhaustively researched) one-volume overview of all the ‘Great Mughals’;

    A Teardrop on the Cheek of Time by Diana Preston and Michael Preston;

    Empires of the Indus by Alice Albinia;

    and (fictionalised):

    Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors.

    I’m really looking forward to Dalrymple’s impending four-volume epic; I’m sure it’ll be extremely thorough and well-researched as always, and written in his usual engaging style.

  77. Edsa — on 6th March, 2009 at 11:01 am  

    Talking of the Mughals and other Muslims in India, did you notice that Hindus had no role since the 12th century? It was the Muslims who shaped India and introduced gardens, architecture, etc. First it was the Delhi and Deccan sultanates, then the Mughals and lastly came the British.
    Have you read the first book on colonial history? It’s called History of British India by James Mill and written in 1817. He wrote:
    “These people [natives] are perfectly destitute of historical records (and have taken) only a few of the earliest steps in the progress to civilisation.”
    He also accused them of fabricating findings, such as Aryabhata’s work, c499 CE, on the diurnal motion of the earth. To him that Indian “pundits had become acquainted with the ideas of European philosophers, respecting the universe and then claimed those ideas as their own.” To Mill, the Indian decimal notations were ‘really hieroglyphics”
    He added; “Hinduism is built upon huge and tormenting superstitions, with minds enchained more intolerably than bodies… paying court to the divine (with) a great variety of grotesque and frivolous ceremonies.”
    Just his opinion of course.

  78. douglas clark — on 6th March, 2009 at 11:05 am  

    Rumbold,

    Interesting thread – I’ve ordered a copy of The Mughal Empire from Amazon – see the power of the internet!

  79. Sid — on 6th March, 2009 at 11:08 am  

    “We are so far away from acquaintance, fluency and creativity in religious life that we are unable to reform, guide and take corrective steps to address our mentalist issues. Instead we shall just build out atomised castles and consume failed solutions from our thoughtmasters abroad.”

    So true. Sayyid Qutb, Hasan al Banna, Ayman Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden, Abu Qatada, Abdullah Yusuf Azzam, Abdullah Azzam, Anwar al-Awlaki, Ibrahim Moussawi, Yusuf Qaradawi, Azzam Tamimi et al all upper middle class Arab elites who fit the “thoughmasters abroad” descriptor perfectly as they are slavishly aped by Southasian Islamists, starting with Maududi, Ghulam Azam, Sayeedi, Qazi Hussain Ahmed and their fanboys in the Hizbut Tahrir and the Jamaat and now the Islamic Forum Europe.

  80. shariq — on 6th March, 2009 at 12:00 pm  

    Great thread. On the Sufi/Wahabi divide. The reason for the decline in Sufi beliefs especially in the cities is pretty clear. I don’t remember who I got this from but it goes as follows –

    It was essentially trapped in a pincer movement with western educated people on one side and religiously educated people on the other.

    Ultimately, Sufism is mystical and presents an easy target in the modern world. Sensible conservative people have an easy time decrying mass hysteria at Sufi shrines as being sacrilegious.

    Everyone can usually agree on education but too little of it isn’t a good thing. Conversatisation and Radicalisation have happened as people have moved from villages to cities. They have then been exposed to translations from the Quran (often Saudi published propaganda ones) and made to see the error of their forefathers.

    This isn’t that dissimilar to second generation brits writing of the experiences and attitudes of their parents and grandparents.

  81. Rumbold — on 7th March, 2009 at 11:08 am  

    Jai:

    “I’m still going to politely disagree with your downplaying of the impact of Aurangzeb’s bigotry and conservatism on the Indian population; ‘structural issues’, as you described it, were the primary reasons for the empire’s subsequent disintegration, but I certainly wouldn’t diminish the effect of Aurangzeb’s religious policies.”

    Perhaps ‘peripheral’ was the wrong choice on words. Aurangzeb’s religious policies were not the root cause of the problems, but they did exacerbate them. If you look at the main conflicts during his rule, none of them, with the exceptions of the Sikhs, came about because of religion. The fight with the Ahoms was purely over territory, with the Rajputs over succession (although Aurangzeb’s insistence on raising the heir as a Muslim didn’t help matters), and with Shivaji it was over territory and power. Even the Sikh example is confused, as Aurangzeb was originally content merely to meddle in the succession by backing Ram Rai for the Guruship (who was supported by a number of Sikhs). Obviously he didn’t like them, as demonstrated by the fact that he would later execute Guru Tegh Bahadur.

    “Remember my previous remarks about the parallels with the ongoing emotional & cultural resonance of Hitler and Nazism here in the West, irrespective of how ‘effective’ Hitler may have been as a leader for his own people and as an imperialist conqueror during the time he was in power.”

    That is why I was careful to limit my description to the situation at the time, as I didn’t want to downplay the negative impact that Aurangzeb had on inter-faith relations even today.

    Thanks for the book recommendations. I am not that big a fan of Abraham Eraly. His book wasn’t that badly written, but it was sloppy in some places. I am also looking forward to Dalrymple’s forthcoming work. He does an amazing amount of work in the archives for his books.

    Douglas:

    The power of the internet indeed. You won’t regret it.

  82. Jai — on 7th March, 2009 at 1:18 pm  

    Rumbold,

    Thanks for the book recommendations.

    No problem mate. Another good book to check out is God’s Terrorists: The Wahhabi Cult and the Hidden Roots of Modern Jihad, by Charles Allen (a historian who’s also written a number of reputable books on India).

    Although the Wahhabis have gained global prominence in recent years due to certain obvious events and the ongoing international situation, these admirers of Aurangzeb have actually been proponents of their ideology and fascist agenda for a very long time.

    as Aurangzeb was originally content merely to meddle in the succession by backing Ram Rai for the Guruship (who was supported by a number of Sikhs).

    Ram Rai was backed by Aurangzeb basically because he did not oppose the Emperor’s policies and was regarded as being “in the Emperor’s pocket”; also, upon being questioned about the matter, Ram Rai deliberately distorted the meaning of a critical aspect of one of Guru Nanak’s scriptural verses in order to make them more palatable to Aurangzeb. As a result, he was not regarded as deserving of the Guruship by Guru Har Rai, which therefore passed to Harkrishan instead.

    Given his worldview and the nature of power politics, it’s common sense that Aurangzeb would support someone he regarded as not being a threat to his policies and actions, because it would allow him to continue with his agenda unopposed and give him one less adversary to have to deal with. Not to mention Ram Rai’s troublemaking attempts to foment division within the Sikh population and disloyalty towards the Guru. I’m sure that the notion of “divide & rule” was not lost on Aurangzeb.

    Obviously he didn’t like them, as demonstrated by the fact that he would later execute Guru Tegh Bahadur.

    Absolutely (which involved the Guru being publicly beheaded after torture, for refusing to convert to Islam), along with his continued harassment of Sikhs during Guru Gobind Singh’s time, his politically-expedient breaking of a promise of safe passage despite the fact that he’d sworn this on the Quran, and his refusal to punish the Governor of Sirhind for executing Guru Gobind Singh’s two younger pre-adolescent sons who had been captured and refused to convert to Islam.

    Aurangzeb was very much a self-rationalising ends-justifying-the-means Machiavellian character, and you can see the continuing parallels with the behaviour & mentality of some of the modern-day Islamist extremists Sid and I have mentioned and which are currently causing so many problems in the UK and around the rest of the world.

    Incidentally, speaking of Sirhind…..

  83. Jai — on 7th March, 2009 at 1:20 pm  

    Qidniz, Sid,

    Indeed. This paragon of Islamic scholarship never came within even a hundred miles of a Jew in his entire life, and yet he wrote, “Whenever a Jew is killed it is for the benefit of Islam.” Truly a giant.

    But Sirhindi’s legacy is Aurangzeb and look where his reign left the Mughal dynsasty.

    You guys should read Ahmad Sirhindi’s Wikipedia profile; someone’s really gone to town on it with the propaganda in his favour. Amongst other things, the first paragraph says (quote) “He is said to…..have given to Indian Islam the rigid and conservative stamp it bears today.”

    The latter part of this statement, in relation to the nature of “Indian Islam”, is so wrong on multiple levels; it’s wildly inaccurate at best and a complete fabrication at worst. It’s as though this was written by someone who’s never actually been to India and knows very little about its culture or the last thousand years of its history.

  84. Rumbold — on 7th March, 2009 at 1:46 pm  

    Jai:

    I agree- Ram Ria was supported by Aurangzeb because the emperor felt that he could be controlled easily. I do think that this was to do with power, as opposed to religion, particularly as the North-West frontier of the empire was restive at the time (thanks to the Afghans/Pathans). Aurangzeb’s dislike of Sikhism was a seperate matter. It was a shame that he could niot have taken a leaf out of his predecessors’ more enlightended approach to the Sikhs.

  85. munir — on 7th March, 2009 at 1:56 pm  

    Qidniz

    “Indeed. This paragon of Islamic scholarship (Sirhindi) never came within even a hundred miles of a Jew in his entire life, and yet he wrote, “Whenever a Jew is killed it is for the benefit of Islam.”

    Truly a giant.”

    Your sources for this being an orientalist and a lunatic war mongering Muslim hating zionist Andrew Bostom.

    Would you say Maimondes was a giant of Jewish scholarship ?. He is considered second only to Moses. Yet this paragon of Jewish scholarship said that black people were incapable of attaining to the worship of God and were like mute animals and not at the level of human beings.

    What about Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai? He is a greatly revered Jewish sage whose tomb in Israel is a holy place for pilgrimmige. He said “kill even the best of the goyim, just as you would smash the brains of the best of snakes.”
    LOL

  86. fug — on 7th March, 2009 at 2:38 pm  

    i think if aurangzeb had made better decisions, sikhism may have developed as a branch of sufi islam with some potent ghazi type militarism extra free.

    sikhs used to rule lahore, hard to imagine.

    85.
    one time radical ideas get bogged down in roadies who like to join clubs, then they become part of suffocating conservatism.

  87. Jai — on 7th March, 2009 at 4:41 pm  

    Rumbold,

    It was a shame that he could niot have taken a leaf out of his predecessors’ more enlightended approach to the Sikhs.

    Agreed. Like I said at the very end of post #56, it’s quite possible that not only the subcontinent’s history but global history as a whole would subsequently have taken a very different course.

    Aurangzeb’s dislike of Sikhism was a seperate matter.

    Well, as you know he disliked pretty much everyone who deviated from his narrow interpretation of religion & spirituality.

    A really tangible example which hammers the point home when you see it is the fact that he demolished large sections of a temple on the site of Krishna’s supposed birthplace in Mathura, northern India (which is obviously going to be very sacred indeed to Hindus) and built a large mosque right on top of it. I’ve actually visited the place and seen it for myself — the symbolism (and the mentality behind it) is quite a shocking sight.

    It’s the equivalent of someone demolishing the Grand Mosque in Mecca and deliberately building (for example) a huge church, synagogue, or Hindu temple on top of the ruins.

  88. Jai — on 7th March, 2009 at 5:10 pm  

    Fug,

    i think if aurangzeb had made better decisions, sikhism may have developed as a branch of sufi islam with some potent ghazi type militarism extra free.

    Interesting theory, but unlikely ;)

    Amongst other reasons — and unlike Sufism in general — Sikhism never viewed Islam as the primary (if not necessarily exclusive) source of spiritual and theological truth.

    But in some ways, yes it does basically have a lot in common with some Sufi principles (albeit not the Naqshbandi version a la Ahmad Sirhindi), with a supplementary militaristic angle. And as I said earlier, a lot of Sufi saints are venerated in Sikhism too, with their writings included in the Sikh holy book the Guru Granth Sahib, and a number of these saints were on very good terms indeed with the Sikhs and their Gurus during their lifetimes.

    In a nutshell, some aspects of Sikhism are like Sufism, some are like ‘bhakti’ Hinduism, a whole chunk is basically unique, finished off with a strong streak of ‘warrior chivalry’, honour etc.

  89. fug — on 7th March, 2009 at 5:53 pm  

    if course its unlikely, the stories didnt unfold that way. i do wonder by what means sikhism diffused, adjusted with politics and got itself socially adopted.

  90. Jai — on 7th March, 2009 at 6:04 pm  

    i do wonder by what means sikhism diffused, adjusted with politics and got itself socially adopted.

    http://www.sikhnet.com and http://www.sikhs.org are generally good sources of reference for people wishing to learn more about Sikh history.

  91. Ravi Naik — on 7th March, 2009 at 6:45 pm  

    One of the common characteristics of debating History is that we tend to romanticise it. I guess we all need heroes to inspire us, and villains to despise. I think one of the challenges of analysing History is to distinguish between the legend and the historical figure. And once you reach to the latter, you will find that all the heroes are deeply flawed compared to our current values. Therefore, it is not fair to say that because you admire X, that you must adhere to all his or her flaws, specially if the narrative or folklore does not cover the bad parts.

    Consider Gandhi and all that he represents: overcoming injustices using non-violent means. Most Indians and several non-Indians think he is someone to be admired. And he has been the inspiration of great figures like Mandela and Martin Luther King. However, when he went to South Africa, he was shocked that Indians were treated the same way as Blacks, which he thought were beneath Indians. He fought to get Indians more rights on that account, but he didn’t do anything to end Apartheid and the tyranny of the white minority against Blacks. But that’s not part of the Gandhi narrative, and if we say that we admire Gandhi, we are not condoning that particular chapter of his life. And don’t get me started on Churchill, a would-be BNP supporter (like most people in that time) and a rabid indophobe by today standards.

    There is no doubt that Akbar was far ahead than most rulers in Europe, but by today standards he would be considered a tyrant and ruthless. And aurangzeb was not more of a bastard than the Christian Kings and Queens, who had a fundamentalist view of their religion, and killed in the most horrid way those who betrayed that view. Still these figures are not demonised in Europe, and some are remembered with statues and monuments.

    So the fact that aurangzeb is veneered in some parts of Pakistan, does not mean they accept everything this man has done, but rather it is a reflection of the narrative they are provided. This happens everywhere.

  92. edsa — on 7th March, 2009 at 8:12 pm  

    Why knock the Pakistanis all the time, MR Naik? They are victims of their military regimes spanning back decades. Instead why not concentrate on the HINDUTVA hooligans whose only ideology is hatred of non-Hindus? Last month, the well known activist Ram Puniyani wrote a revealing article “Holy Garb: Profane Agenda” in Countercurrents.org. Here are extracts:

    “Recently many holy men met in Mumbai and showed that the saffron garb is the mere color of renunciation and piety, used to hide their sectarian ideas and narrow politics in the name of religion.
    “These Holy seers came together on the bidding of Vishwa Hindu Parishad – itself the creation of RSS in the mid sixties. RSS stood fully discredited in people’s eyes when Nathuram Godse killed Mahatma Gandhi.
    “The focus now is also on terrorism apart from its earlier concerns on the Ram Temple. They want to abrogate the Indian Constitution and restore the Laws of Manu. The RSS also backed Manu smriti under Golwalkar, who also lavishly praised the methods of Hitler.
    “The assembled saints are also for the subjugation of Muslims and Christians, and oppose equality for dalit, Adivasis and women”
    So, Mr Naik, let’s focus on these godmen and gurus in India first. Leave the Pakistanis for while.

  93. Sid — on 7th March, 2009 at 8:23 pm  

    So the fact that aurangzeb is veneered in some parts of Pakistan, does not mean they accept everything this man has done, but rather it is a reflection of the narrative they are provided. This happens everywhere.

    Aurangzeb isn’t “veneered” (sic) in Pakistan at all. There is a strong tradition of anti-establishmentism in Muslim polities and the Mughals were never considered as great Muslim leaders in the religious sense anymore than Henry VIII is regarded highly as a Christian king by Catholics.

  94. Rumbold — on 7th March, 2009 at 8:26 pm  

    Jai:

    “Well, as you know he disliked pretty much everyone who deviated from his narrow interpretation of religion & spirituality.”

    There is an interesting moment when even many members of the ulema turn against him when he sets out to destroy the Muslim rulers of two of the Deccani Sultanates, Bijapur and Golconda (later Hyderabad, or Dar-al-Jihad), and they challenge his right to make war on other Muslims. He dismisses them by saying that they had helped the Marathas (which they had).

    Good point about the temples by the way. He does that with a number of sites (for one, I can’t remember which, he buries the idols of the temple under the newly constructed mosque). He also ordered all non-Muslim houses of worship that were recently repaired or built to be torn down (as under some interpretations of Islamic law this was the right thing to do).

    Fug:

    I think Jai is right. Thanks to the absorption of the Jats, Sikhism was probably becoming more militarised anyway. And the increased anarchy in the empire would probably have led to the Sikhs needing to arm themselves for self-defence. Not that anything is ever clear in counter-factual history, as there are so many variables.

  95. qidniz — on 7th March, 2009 at 10:08 pm  

    Your sources for this being an orientalist and a lunatic war mongering Muslim hating zionist Andrew Bostom.

    Bostom’s source is impeccable (p.73-74). Sirhindi’s choice comments on Hindus and Hinduism are also to be found in SAA Rizvi’s work.

    As for your (typical for mouth-foaming spittle-flecking Islamists) ad hominem “dismissals” and whataboutery: pffft.

  96. qidniz — on 7th March, 2009 at 10:31 pm  

    You guys should read Ahmad Sirhindi’s Wikipedia profile; someone’s really gone to town on it with the propaganda in his favour. Amongst other things, the first paragraph says (quote) “He is said to…..have given to Indian Islam the rigid and conservative stamp it bears today.”

    The latter part of this statement, in relation to the nature of “Indian Islam”, is so wrong on multiple levels; it’s wildly inaccurate at best and a complete fabrication at worst. It’s as though this was written by someone who’s never actually been to India and knows very little about its culture or the last thousand years of its history.

    The “rigid and conservative stamp” bit is actually a direct quote of Aziz Ahmad (from his Studies in Islamic Culture in the Indian Environment). The book is browsable on Amazon, and p.189 comes up when searched for “Ahmad Sirhindi”. In context, Aziz Ahmad is clearly talking about clerics and scholars, or the “establishment”, not Joe Muslim on the street. He credits Sirhindi with the eclipse of wahdat-al-wujud (ontological monism) by wahdat-al-shuhud (phenomenological monism) in subcontinental Sufism and theology, and the reaffirmation of al-Ghazzali’s anti-rationalist position:

    After secession from the firmly established tradition of ontological monism it was a much easier task to ward off the incursions of the ratonalists. To make the orthodoxy of Indian Islam secure on this front, all that Shaykh Ahmad had to do was to re-affirm the position taken by al-Ghazzali vis-a-vis al-Farabi and Ibn Sina, regarding them as outside the pale of Islam, and to repeat the Ash’arite denunciation of the Mutazilites.

    The ijma’ endorsed his title of the ‘innovator of the second millenium’ (mujaddid-i Alf-i thani), and there is no doubt his writings and his influence checked the process of Indian Islam’s disintegration into syncretic heresies. He re-integrated the formalistic dynamics of religion and the inner vitality of deep mysticism. His is perhaps the most distinctive contribution of Indian Islam to the religio-mystical thought of Islam in general. But, on the other hand his easy victory, especially against the rationalists, gave to Indian Islam the rigid and conservative stamp it bears today. In a way he was the pioneer of what modern Islam is today in the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent — isolationist, self-confident, conservative, deeply conscious of the need of a reformation but distrustful of innovations, accepting speculation in theory but dreading it in practice, and insular in its contact with other civilizations. This is not surprising because at one time or another the intellectual leaders of modern Muslim India, Sayyid Ahmad Khan, Iqbal and Abu’l Kalam Azad, widely different though their religious and political solutions have been, had come under the influence of Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi.

    As for the Wikipedia article, given that articles like this exist only in a state of flux, the less said about them the better. They are inherently unfixable, besides having around a resident interest group (read: pressure group) dedicated to greenwashing of all Islam-related articles.

  97. fug — on 7th March, 2009 at 11:23 pm  

    come on guys, why are you judging past figures with contemporary secular spastication?

    if pakistan today had figures of the character and dynamism of Shayk Ahmad Sirhindi, of Shah Waliullah, Sayid Ahmad Khan, of Allama Iqbal of Fazlur Rahman, the people there would have guidance from error and much better ability to reign in, reform and resolve mentalism.

    the elite educational sector and the islamic educational sector instead produce people who are aloof from eachother, and its not just about class.

  98. Jai — on 8th March, 2009 at 2:57 pm  

    Rumbold,

    I think Jai is right. Thanks to the absorption of the Jats, Sikhism was probably becoming more militarised anyway.

    It’s a bit more complicated than that. Due to deteriorating relations with the Mughals and some other groups at the time, the militarisation of the Sikhs had already begun two generations before Guru Gobind Singh (re: his near-namesake Guru Hargobind). At that point, the Sikhs already had a standing army, with a sizeable influx of Rajputs and other professional soldiers (due to their existing martial skills), although most Sikhs were still “civilians”. Full-scale militarisation occurred with the formation of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh, and yes this was obviously facilitated to some measure by the large number of Jats who joined the cause, since they were already warlike and, as anyone who has ever spent a lot of time with Sikhs will know, eventually ended up numerically being the majority amongst the Sikh population.

    And the increased anarchy in the empire would probably have led to the Sikhs needing to arm themselves for self-defence.

    Well, that’s partially a factor, but the concept of “arming oneself” and the reasons for doing so are linked to a number of different ideological, philosophical and indeed practical motivations in Sikhism (some of which involve altruism, not just self-preservation), but these are off-topic matters which will detract excessively from this thread’s main focus and (like I’ve said a few times previously) there are better qualified people than myself when it comes to discussing all that. If you do want to find out more about this topic along with Sikh history (in relation to my previous paragraph), the two websites I mentioned in #92 would be an excellent starting point.

    (Incidentally, Sikhnet has been revamped and now contains links to a centralised online Sikh encyclopaedia, which you can go to directly here for information specifically about Sikh history : http://sikhiwiki.org/index.php/Category:History )

    However, after Aurangzeb’s death, during the 18th century Sikhs did become very heavily armed indeed due to the need for self-defence in the face of increasing chaos in the region and, especially, due to continuing invasions from the northwest and the fact that some of the local governing powers during this period offered bounties as rewards for any Sikhs killed.

  99. Jai — on 8th March, 2009 at 2:58 pm  

    Rumbold,

    and they challenge his right to make war on other Muslims. He dismisses them by saying that they had helped the Marathas (which they had).

    Not unlike Al-Qaeda and its affiliates eventually turning on fellow Muslims they perceive to be siding with their enemies or a threat to their agenda. The recent attacks in Pakistan and the ongoing clashes in the northwest of the country are examples of this, although of course there have also been others in recent years.

    He does that with a number of sites

    Along with Mathura, his most high-profile targets for such actions were Varanasi (aka Banares/Kashi) and Ayodhya. The last one was of course the supposed birthplace of Rama, and the mosque which was eventually destroyed by Hindu rioters in the 1990s was the one which had deliberately been built there by Aurangzeb.

    (for one, I can’t remember which, he buries the idols of the temple under the newly constructed mosque).

    Mahmud Ghazni did that too. As you probably know, he (and later Mohammad Ghori) was instrumental in the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate prior to its successor, the Mughal Empire, and repeatedly targeted major Hindu centres in northern India during his annual pillage & murder expeditions from Afghanistan, in particular involving the looting and destruction of Hindu temples. The attack on Somnath is the most well-known incident, involving the massacre of huge number of defenders and the break-up of the temple’s idol, the remains of which were then deliberately placed under the steps of a new mosque in Ghazni back in Afghanistan so that visiting Muslims would quite literally “walk all over it”.

    Taking this back to the main discussion, it’s imperative to point out the hypocrisy of people who, on the one hand, condemn the West (particularly the US) for supposedly engaging in unjustified wars of aggression against (and invasions of) Muslim countries such as Afghanistan and, especially, Iraq, and on the other hand simultaneously glorify Mr Ghazni and Mr Ghori as “great warriors for Islam” who engaged in unprovoked wars of aggression, pillage and conquest against India. These double standards destroy any moral authority they may claim for their feelings of outrage.

  100. Jai — on 8th March, 2009 at 3:03 pm  

    Qidniz,

    Thanks for the extensive information in #98, very interesting reading.

    They are inherently unfixable, besides having around a resident interest group (read: pressure group) dedicated to greenwashing of all Islam-related articles.

    Agreed completely. You may have noticed something else too, both on this website and in real life: There’s often a strong element of schizophrenia or disingenuous two-faced doublespeak about some of the historical events that are being “greenwashed”. Depending on political expediency and the immediate audience, on the one hand (particularly amongst fellow Muslims with a similar mindset) you get people claiming tremendous pride in historical wars of aggression and subjugation involving non-Muslim targets, and on the other hand (when faced with a less sympathetic audience, especially non-Muslims) the same people will start making plausible-sounding-but-false excuses for these events or even engage in outright denial that these belligerent acts occurred, or that any atrocities were involved, or even that some of the perpetrators claimed a religious justification for their actions.

    Having said that, there have of course been numerous Muslim figures who have spoken out against our modern-day terrorists, including fatwas that have been issued condemning Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. Compared to various historical precedents involving the various subcontinental Muslim saints I’ve mentioned, I think that one problem is the lack of a really popular and respected “moderate” contemporary Muslim voice who has large-scale support amongst “the masses” and whose persona and message would be a forceful counterbalance against the radicals and fanatics.

    I’ve wondered if, amongst South Asian Muslims at least (especially Pakistanis everywhere), that role would have been filled by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, himself a well-known admirer of Bulleh Shah and his work. Unfortunately the great man passed away far too soon; or, perhaps, “fortunately” for him, as he didn’t live to see the events of the past decade and the effective hijacking of Islam. I’m sure it would have pained him deeply to see the growing Talibanisation of Pakistan and the corrosive Wahhabi influence on sections of the younger British Pakistani population. Not to mention 7/7.

  101. Jai — on 8th March, 2009 at 3:05 pm  

    To end on a more upbeat note, and since it’s the weekend, here is a two-part clip of one of Nusrat saab’s live performances. This wonderful song was written by Bulleh Shah. For those who aren’t familiar with it and/or don’t understand the lyrics (especially non-Asian readers), it’s ostensibly about Heer & Ranjha, the subcontinent’s most famous medieval equivalent of Romeo & Juliet, and a celebration of romantic “true love”, but on a deeper level, like most songs of this genre it also has spiritual connotations and is an allegory of Man’s relationship with the divine.

    The joyous, uplifting nature of the music should convey the message very clearly; incidentally, you’ll also notice that men and women are sitting together freely in the audience, with not a burkha or a hijab in sight. All a million miles away from the Islamist ideology embodied and promoted by Aurangzeb and his modern-day counterparts Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and the Wahhabis.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xt-j7cojBg4&feature=channel
    continued at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DtX_2ZxN8I&feature=channel

    Enjoy.

  102. qidniz — on 8th March, 2009 at 5:05 pm  

    Along with Mathura, his most high-profile targets for such actions were Varanasi (aka Banares/Kashi) and Ayodhya. The last one was of course the supposed birthplace of Rama, and the mosque which was eventually destroyed by Hindu rioters in the 1990s was the one which had deliberately been built there by Aurangzeb.

    The Babri Masjid is attributed to Mir Baki, a general in the army of Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur, Aurangzeb’s great-great-great-grandfather.

    Aurangzeb was by no means the only Muslim conqueror to build mosques on top of demolished temples. Firuz Shah Tughluq was another enthusiastic warrior of Islam.

    And they all had the spectacular precedent of Qutbuddin Aybak, the general of Muhammad Ghori who took Delhi from Prithviraj Chauhan following the 2nd Battle of Tarain in 1192 CE.

    In Qila Rai Pithora, the old fort of the Tomars (who had lost Delhi to the Chauhans barely a generation earlier), there is an inscription beside the steps of the now ruined mosque that Aybak built, right next to the Qutb Minar tower. The inscription claims that the materials from 27 temples Aybak had ordered destroyed at the site were used to build the mosque. (Pillars with Jain sculptural motifs in the colonnades can still be seen today.)

    With typical Islamic insolence and arrogance, Aybak named the mosque Quwwat-al-Islam, “Might of Islam”.

    Moinuddin Chishti passed through Delhi on his way to Ajmer in 1194. He is not known to have said anything about it. Why should he have? He was Muslim, after all.

  103. Rumbold — on 8th March, 2009 at 5:46 pm  

    Jai:

    I agree- many cultures/nations often venerate their ‘own’ conquerors but decry others. Everyone is guilty of it I suppose.

  104. Jai — on 8th March, 2009 at 7:39 pm  

    Qidniz,

    The Babri Masjid is attributed to Mir Baki, a general in the army of Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur, Aurangzeb’s great-great-great-grandfather.

    Thanks for clarifying that — I knew that one of the Mughals was involved but got them mixed up. The name of the mosque is the obvious giveaway.

    Why should he have? He was Muslim, after all.

    There are plenty of historical precedents for Muslims in the subcontinent speaking out against injustice towards non-Muslims. Every single one of those saints I’ve mentioned on this thread had a very different attitude towards other religious traditions and members of those faiths compared to the bigotted and destructive individuals you and I have both mentioned.

    For example, Bulleh Shah actually joined Guru Gobind Singh’s army as mentioned before; and the army included Muslim soldiers, including generals who had actually switched sides in the middle of battles authorised by the Mughal authorities;

    A Muslim noble present at the incarceration of two of Guru Gobind Singh’s sons in Sirhind spoke out extremely forcefully and attempted to intervene when the decision was made to execute them by the local Governer;

    Guru Gobind Singh was helped by a number of Muslims during some of the worst periods of his life, when he was being hunted by the Mughal authorities and was in desperate need of assistance;

    Mian Mir, who laid the foundation stone at Harmandir Sahib (also now known a the Golden Temple) in Amritsar, a spiritual instructor of Shahjahan’s son Dara Shikoh, and not exactly Jahangir’s biggest fan thanks to the latter’s continuing wars of territorial expansion, visited Guru Arjan after he had been imprisoned and tortured upon Jahangir’s orders and offered to intervene on his behalf.

    You get the general idea. It’s not just being a Muslim which may or may not negate their empathy towards members of other faiths, but the person’s interpretation of their religion and the extent to which this influences their attitude, or, conversely (if the influence isn’t necessarily going to be positive), the extent to which they choose to disregard this and think for themselves.

    With regards to the current problems amongst some quarters of the South Asian Muslim population (back in the subcontinent and out here in the West), the fundamental point is the following; it’s something I already said in #67, but I think it’s important enough to require re-iteration:

    I guess it ultimately comes down to whom a person (ie. the South Asian Muslim concerned) believes to more saintly and a more authentic representation of Islam: The aforementioned historical Muslim saints who are still extremely well-known and loved by people in the subcontinent (especially the north) and by members of a number of different faiths, or the aggressive warlords and rulers whose actions these saints condemned and whose interpretation of Islam they contradicted.

  105. qidniz — on 9th March, 2009 at 6:55 pm  

    You get the general idea.

    Yes, but you seem to have missed the point. The issue wasn’t one of protesting injustice towards individuals or specific groups, or one of denying goodwill to fellow men. Destroying temples, and building mosques on them, are acts of a different order.

    I guess it ultimately comes down to whom a person (ie. the South Asian Muslim concerned) believes to more saintly and a more authentic representation of Islam: The aforementioned historical Muslim saints who are still extremely well-known and loved by people in the subcontinent (especially the north) and by members of a number of different faiths, or the aggressive warlords and rulers whose actions these saints condemned and whose interpretation of Islam they contradicted.

    What might be called “popular” Islam versus orthodox Islam in the subcontinent is a vast, complicated and politically very incorrect subject. The cult of saints and shrines has not fared well in Pakistan, but that isn’t to say that the decline started after independence: much more likely it started in the British period with the various revivalist movements that all of sudden politicized casual Muslims into a more self-conscious view of their own Muslim-ness. Sirhindi and his ilk have prevailed: Islam of the shrine has been defeated by Islam of the book, as we all knew was bound to happen.

  106. Jai — on 9th March, 2009 at 8:26 pm  

    Qidniz,

    Destroying temples, and building mosques on them, are acts of a different order.

    Very true.

    Regarding the question of Moinuddin Chishti specifically and whether he did or didn’t protest the destruction of temples (and, if it was the latter, why this was the case), I wouldn’t wish to speculate. Maybe he did protest and nobody listened, or (for whatever reason) it wasn’t recorded. Or maybe he was one of numerous Sufi saints who didn’t have much love for the ulema, politics or the rulers in general, and decided to just preach his message and stay the hell away from all that. I don’t know.

    What I do know is that the Chishti Order as a group preached respect for other devotional traditions, were venerated by non-Muslims as well as Muslims, and their philosophy didn’t encourage, support or condone the demolision of other faiths’ places of worship and their replacement with mosques.

    Other Sufi figures took a more vocal, assertive and proactive stance in the fact of Islamist tyranny, of course, Bulleh Shah being one of the most well-known examples.

    Sirhindi and his ilk have prevailed:

    That’s certainly what currently seems to be happening, although…..

    Islam of the shrine has been defeated by Islam of the book

    …..God, I hope not.

    One way to really cut to the chase and unmask the people concerned would be if South Asian Islamists, especially Islam4UK, admirers of Wahhabism, and the associated well-known figures with a high profile in the British media, came out of the metaphorical closet and had the guts to just state outright that they think that, for example, Bulleh Shah and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (the latter obviously one of Pakistan’s most beloved sons) were “heretical” and “unIslamic” in their interpretation of Islam and spirituality. This is obviously being indirectly implied by default, but rather than silence (both on this website and in the real world), why don’t they just come right out and say it ?

    It would be interesting to see what would happen afterwards.

  107. Rampal — on 11th March, 2009 at 8:49 pm  

    The state institutions — the civilian government as well as the military — seem unwilling to acknowledge the obvious — that the threat of extremism that is haunting the very survival of Pakistan today is the outcome of the country’s long-running use of jihadist terror as an instrument of foreign policy. Use of Islamist extremist mobilisation and terrorism for domestic political purposes as well as for projecting Pakistan’s ambitions in its neighborhood has ended up costing the nation dearly. Today as Pakistan continues its steady slide towards the abyss, the international community perhaps has one last chance. What the country needs is a thorough investment in building its socio-political institutions from bottom-up. Without such a restructuring of the Pakistani state, the inherent instability of the state will continue to haunt the world.

    Pakistan is no longer failing, it is already a failed state. The sooner this is recognised, the better, for it will enable the international community to recalibrate its existing approach toward a nation that is, once again, ‘standing in the middle of the road between survival and disintegration’. Global security in more ways than one is linked to security and stability in Pakistan and it is therefore imperative for major powers to intervene and save the world’s nightmare.

    Meanwhile, it goes without saying that the challenges emanating from Pakistan will have far-reaching consequences for India. It’s the biggest strategic failure of Indian diplomacy that even after 60 years, India has not found a way to neutralise the malevolence of a neighbour one-eighth its size. Business as usual has never been an option for India and yet our Pakistan policy could never move beyond cultural exchanges and cross-border trade. Pakistan has continued to train its guns at India and drain India’s diplomatic capital and military strength and India has continued to debate whether Pakistani musicians should be allowed to enter India. Futile.

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