Let me state my case very, very candidly – the demand for the partition of India and the creation of Muslim states was originally masterminded by Lord Linlithgow who had his views conveyed to the Muslim League in great secrecy through Sir Muhammad Zafrulla, who was a member of the Viceroy Council and one of the most trusted friends of Great Britain. From 23 March 1940 onwards, the Muslim League never wavered even for a moment from its demand for separate states for the Muslims of India (which soon afterwards crystallized around one state, Pakistan) and anyone who seriously reads the speeches of Mr Jinnah would have no problem in identifying that he consistently and constantly laid stress on the Hindu-Muslim dichotomy. He was always ready for a peaceful settlement, but for him that was to partition India on a religious basis. Continue reading
Which is why you also don’t like the use of the word ‘conversions’ for this period? You say conversions suggest a pancake-like flip, which is not how Islam spread. What do you mean by that?
I hate the use of the word ‘conversions’. When I was studying the growth of Islam in Punjab, I came across a fascinating text on the Sial community. It traces their history from the 14th to the 19th century. If you look at the names of these people, you will find that the percentage of Arabic names increased gradually between the 14th and 19th centuries. In the early 14th century, they had no Arabic names. By the late 14th century, 5 percent had Arabic names. It’s not until the late 19th century that 100 percent had Arabic names. So, the identification with Islam is a gradual process because the name you give your child reflects your ethos and the cultural context in which you live. The same holds true when you look at the name assigned to god. In the 16th century, the words Muslims in Bengal used for god were Prabhu or Niranjan etc — Sanskrit or Bengali words. It’s not until the 19th century that the word Allah is used. In both Punjab and Bengal, the process of Islamisation is a gradual one. That’s why the word ‘conversion’ is misleading — it connotes a sudden and complete change. All your previous identities are thrown out. That’s not how it happens. When you talk about an entire society, you are talking about a very gradual, glacial experience. http://www.tehelka.com/its-a-myth-that-muslim-rulers-destroyed-thousands-of-temples/ Continue reading
Even the history of Aurangzeb, you say, is badly in need of rewriting.
Absolutely. Let’s start with his reputation for temple destruction. The temples that he destroyed were not those associated with enemy kings, but with Rajput individuals who were formerly loyal and then become rebellious. Aurangzeb also built more temples in Bengal than any other Mughal ruler.
Time for the RSS & their IH allies to weep.
Richard Eaton is the Wikipedia, the Google and, many would argue, the last word on medieval and Islamic history in India. His bibliography is too vast to list, but the vast repertoire includesIslamic History As Global History, The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier, 1204-1760 andSocial History of the Deccan, 1300-1761: Eight Indian Lives. After the destruction of the Babri Masjid and a myriad speculative conversations around how many temples Muslim rulers had destroyed in India, Eaton decided to count. That became a book titled Temple Desecration and Muslim States in Medieval India. In other words, he is the best myth-buster there is and that’s precisely what he did to the audiences at THiNK. Eaton explains why it’s crucial today for us to get our history right. Especially on the period he writes about. Continue reading
It seems there is a growing chorus on how South Asia should have been reconfigured as a confederation. In fact some generous interpretations of TNT would have it as so (Dominion Plan) until it was squashed by diffident Nehru & communalist minded Patel.
GP as always has excellent words on contemporary Indian identity (I have bolded the killer line on civil code, which ties into the modern Indian nationalist intellectual disdain for discussing real issues afflicting the country like hunger, sanitation & sexual violence in favour of blaming it on the Muslims, Pakistan & caste reservations):
Secularism vs. Secular-skepticism should not be code for Congress vs. BJP. Many of us are skeptics of the way secularism has been practiced by the ruling clique, if not outright opponents, yet still wary of lending any support to the NDA, as led by Modi. Why? For one, it is not a high priority issue. Grandstanding on the issue of a uniform civil code, yet having little or nothing to say about agriculture or right to food seems typical for a certain type.
Another thing to consider in the nature of electoral politics is that one supports not just an ideological platform, but also a coalition of social groups. Politics is about people and serving the interests of the clans that back them. I know some nationalists on this forum imagine that modern Indian identity has transcended such a view of a divided society, but to others our regional identities are meaningful and vast enough to preclude any need to strive for the generic and hollow characterization of Indian. As for the narrow ethnic profile of business leaders, urban white collar anglophones and Hindi chauvinists many prefer not to get behind their political movement for the reason that they are a bigger threat in the long run than that which they proclaim to save us from.
There was a comment (which was deleted) about BP being a haven for the Indian right, otherwise I agree with ND that the integration of the Princely States was a disaster. The British Raj & India should have graduated towards a more complex, hybrid & piecemeal process instead of the tragedy that unfolded.
Seems in this aspect the TNTers were in the right arguing for a decentralised confederated Union (though then Pakistan went about the wrong path of centralisation for which it got promptly punished in 1971) and it seems the venerable Fareed Zakaraia (and son of a noted Indian nationalist) seems now to agree.
Where Nehru and Churchill were both wrong was in their political conception of the nation-state itself. India could not follow the example of the European single-ethnic, single-religion nations that sprouted up in the 19th century. The British unified India using technology—the railroad—and arms. That nationalizing trend produced, in turn, a unified national opposition to British rule in the Indian National Congress, bringing together all India’s communities against foreign rule. But all this was a historical aberration. India had existed as a loose confederation for much of its history. Even when there had been a ruler in the national capital, he had exercised power by co-opting vassals, allowing regions autonomy, letting local traditions flourish. It was a laissez-faire nation in every sense. Despite the rise and fall of dynasties, the entry and exit of empires, village life in India was remarkably continuous—and unaffected by national politics. “India has historically been a strong society with a weak state,” says Gurcharan Das, the CEO turned author and philosopher.
It’s impressive that Upworthy has included a lot of Ms. Mallika speaking in Hindi. She seems very well-spoken and articulate. Why are Indians so sensitive when it comes to criticism of India?
It could be maybe that in a way India transcends the national ideal and almost seems to have a religious dimension. I have no idea, it’s just idle speculation on my part but recalled two separate instances. The first was by Sultan Qassemi:
At a recent event I attended, an accomplished Emirati told me of an incident where his father scolded him for naming the emirate he came from during a visit to the US rather than the country. His elderly father said, “You are from the UAE, you just happen to be living in that emirate.” My late father, who grew up in what was then Bombay at the time of India’s independence, often told me how Indians identify themselves by their individual states when in India, but when they travel abroad they always identify themselves as Indian. Continue reading
It’s interesting though that even though Iran was completely submerged into the Islamic world (eventually to form a hybrid civilisation, delinking Iran from Islam & vice versa would be a painful task); Shi’ism remains such a powerful theological proxy for Persian influence.
I have been reading of the “Aryan-Semitic” divide in the ME (where Israel & Saudi team up to counter Iran) especially as a proxy for the Shi’ite-Sunni split. Personally I think the Shi’ites are the right side on theology (I would sort of have to since my Faith’s origins are in esoteric Twelver ideology) and I can’t understand why anyone would praise the killer of the Holy Prophet’s grandson (as they seem to be doing on radio in Pakistan). What’s even more grating that Abu Sufyan (who was the grandfather of Yazid), along with his wife Hind (who was Yazid’s grandmother) were perhaps the biggest detractors of early Islam yet serendipitously it is their lineage that contributes to the first Islamic Empire.
Anyway I have no interest in wading such controversial waters thankfully incidents of a 150years ago (in Baghdad of all places) freed me from all of this savage sectarianism.
Iran is such a hot-button issue these days that it can be hard to look at the country outside of the geopolitical context. But no one interested in food can afford to ignore what is one of the world’s most important and influential cuisines. Iranian cooking is heir to no less than two and a half thousand years of saffron- and rosewater-scented history. The foods of the courts of ancient Persia (as Iran was called until the 1930s) included perfumed stews flavored with cinnamon, mint, and pomegranates; elaborate stuffed fruits and vegetables; and tender roasted meats — dishes that have influenced the cooking of countries as far-flung as India and Morocco. In many ways, Persian food is the original mother cuisine.
Legacy of Empire
The history of Iranian cooking goes back to the sixth century B.C., when Cyrus the Great, the leader of a tribe called the Pars (Persians), created an empire that eventually stretched from India to Egypt and parts of Greece. This vast, unified territory became a conduit of culture and cuisine, and native Persian ingredients such as saffron and rose water were spread throughout the empire. The Persians also traded with the kingdoms of the Far East: Caravans traveling along the Silk Road from China to present-day Syria brought citrus fruits, eggplants, and rice from Asia to the Middle East and the Mediterranean.
The Persian empire eventually fell to Alexander the Great and later to the Arabs (who converted the Persians to Islam), but each successive wave of rulers proved fond of the Persians’ flavorful cooking. The Arabs even brought Persia’s distinctive sweet-and-sour flavors to North Africa, and in the Middle Ages, exotic Persian techniques such as gilding (painting foods with elaborate gold or silver leaf) traveled to Europe via the Crusades, becoming all the rage at regal banquets.
From the 11th to 15th centuries A.D., Persian culture flourished despite Turkish and Mongol rule. This era saw a flowering of native poetry and art, and its rarified cooking, with rich sauces and pilafs strewn with nuts and dried fruit, became the foundation of the Moghul cuisine of northern India.