The Hindu Liberal test

Zach, please back this up with facts – “This tirade has gotten old – India has rejected her Muslim heritage and culture (not socially but politically).” <br /><br />Indian history books discuss Muslim rule at length – the Delhi Sultanate, the Mughal dynasty, and myriad Muslim dynasties from the Deccan. Monuments built by Muslim kings are well preserved and regarded as a heritage of all Indians. Mosques are preserved and new ones are being built all the time. Hindi/Urdu – a heritage of Islamic rule – is becoming more widely spoken every year since independence. <br /><br />How is this similar to what has happened in Pakistan?

As you all know I call out Pakistan and Islam on a fairly regular basis especially liberalstanis who baulk at the no-go zone of Pakistani culture.

The test I would devise to test whether a Hinditva values liberalism or Hinduism is the Babri test.

Do you believe Babri Masjid should be rebuilt brick for brick as it stood pre-92?

If you don’t then that means you are a Hindu before you are a liberal. It isn’t a bad thing but don’t pretend that your liberality is so magnanimous so as to extend to your cowering minorities.

By way of comparison it’s pretty obvious that Al-Aqsa Mosque stands on top of the Old Temple (a bit like Babri Masjid). If a mob were to destroy Al-Aqsa tomorrow would the Israeli government be right in apportioning the site?

64 thoughts on “The Hindu Liberal test”

  1. Just want to point out that most (non-Hindu) academics agree that there isn’t any good evidence that Babri was built on a demolished Hindu temple.

    Also the the Al-Aqsa/Old Temple issue is not really analogous (both in terms of the history of the site and how Muslims/Jews view it today).

    1. Have you actually done a scientific poll of non-Hindu academics’ opinion on the topic, or are you just saying what you would like to think?

      Based on what I have read, archaeological evidence unearthed by the Archaeological Survey of India has revealed a temple-like structure (don’t recall if it was underneath the mosque or in the its vicinity.) Have you any contradicting information?

        1. The guys you posted were involved in the court case on behalf of the Waqf Board…that doesn’t mean they’re wrong, but it also doesn’t give them a claim to be neutral, disinterested arbiters. There are archaeologists with positions on either side of the matter. I am not an archaeologist, but my reading is that the case is fairly solid, and most of the objections of the other side are post hoc claims trying to make much ado about minor stuff.

  2. Zach, I have never questioned your bona fides when it comes to asking hard questions about Islam and Pakistan, because I do not have deep knowledge of either. I leave that to Kabir 😉

    I requested you to back up your assertion by facts when you said that India has rejected its Muslim heritage. Instead you are diverting the discussion entirely.

    I reject litmus tests such as – “Do you believe Babri Masjid should be rebuilt brick for brick as it stood pre-92?”. Are you looking for a Yes/No/Maybe answer? Is this part of a survey??

    This site serves as a forum for folks to discuss the nuances of an issue. I hope it stays that way. Thank you!

  3. Zack,

    Why don’t you conduct a poll of your readers on this question? It won’t reflect the average Hindu’s view though, if that’s what you want to find out.

    FWIW, I would answer yes to your question. Acceptance of the demolition of Babri Masjid and prevention of its rebuilding sets a bad precedent. Why shouldn’t mobs go around breaking other mosques then, knowing that their dirty work can’t be undone? Plausible evidence for other temple demolitions and replacement by mosques can always be found.

  4. Source on this?

    Dont think it should be rebuilt. Would cause chaos in India.

    Just excavate the site fully, maybe use the funds to better preserve other indo-Islamic architecture.

    I guess I am a hindutva supporter not a liberal.

    Babri Masjid is a neologism, pre partition it was called Masjid-I-janmasthan.

    This is why it has been targeted. Not a fan of historical revisionism.

    We need to acknowledge the history, without using it as an excuse for committing heinous acts in the present.

    Al-aqsa is extremely important to Muslims and Jews alike. The site of the babri masjid has no religious significance for Muslims, but tremendous significance for Hindus, so not a fair comparison.

  5. I think BM should be built brick by brick as Zach suggests few miles away from where it stood. I don’t care about labels like liberals or progressive , etc , I only care about what will cause least friction and social tension, keeping all the parties happy . BM is an unimportant site for Muslims , for the world Muslim community or even subcontinental community. Why that should be given far more importance than hundreds of truly historic Muslim religious sites that have been destroyed by Muslims themselves.Whether BM is rebuilt or not, Liberalism won’t be affected.

  6. His hatred for anything remotely Hindu (read “Praya whatever” instead of Prayag) has brought it out further.

    he’s married to a hindu. and his children will be raised in both traditions.

    these accusations seem to be in bad faith. or, you just have really high standards. someone who calls muhammad the ‘pedophile prophet’ is doing tauqiyya. lol

  7. However, can you really not see that his recent polemical, fact-free posts

    zach & i have different styles. i’ve come to accept that. i’ve also come to accept that it’s hard to predict where he’ll go.

    re: indo-islamicate culture. it’s a complicated topic. and tbh most ppl have pretty nuanced views. as a bengali, i have pretty much zero investment in that culture and kind of make fun of zach now and then for his clear bias in that direction. but it’s not a big deal for me.

    history moves on.

    1. Tbh wrt Indo-Islamic culture, I see Zach as someone with no skin in the game who is basically discussing his aesthetic preferences, which he has a right to hold and press. It’s fine, I think Orthodox churches are cool, and they also have a sordid and controversial history in Eastern Europe.

      There was an Indo-Islamic culture in the Gangetic Plain, practiced mostly by Islamic elites. They’re not here anymore, and their successors moved out during Partition. What remains is cowbelt folk like me, who the Islamic elites would have had nothing but contempt for. So for very obvious reasons, I’m not going to identify with that aesthetic.

      1. What remains is cowbelt folk like me, who the Islamic elites would have had nothing but contempt for. So for very obvious reasons, I’m not going to identify with that aesthetic.

        and yet some of your aesthetic is probably from the islamicate culture, right?

        i mean contempt doesn’t dictate necessarily. the japanese aped europeans in the late 19th century despite contempt and racism. they kind of moved back later, tho not all the way.

        curious about aspects of north indian culture influenced by the islamic period. i read once that the skin color terms in north india date to the muslims, and were initially used to distinguish foreign from native muslims.

        1. “and yet some of your aesthetic is probably from the islamicate culture, right?”

          Probably. There’s no sense in trying to go back to a time before the 12th century and expunge every remotely Islamic thing from your culture. It is what it is. But that does not mean we have to celebrate those things.

        1. Closer to 20%, >40m people, and in aggregate , larger than any other individual caste. The persianate/islamicate element of UP culture is far thicker than a veneer.

  8. Isn’t Xerxes a Bhahai ?

    Islamicate culture is quite beautiful.

    I think the Islamic core values (charity, non-tribalism, temperance, moderation etc) are also quite good.

    I say this as a Hindutvadi 🙂

    To prove my Hindutvadi credentials…

    Epistemiologically I think Dharmic relgions just completely outclass not only the Abrahamic ones, but also most of secular Western philosophy which even post-enlightenment continues to be hampered by incorrect Abrahamic presumptions of personal agency, 3rd person concept of the divine etc.

    (a site like is a good intro to madyamaka buddhist epistemiology for the western reader without using the word ‘buddhism’)

    1. I think the one religion that will transform the Baha’i Faith will be Hinduism..

      But just as I think there is much richness and depth to the Hindu tradition; I do think the Islamicate cultures of Persian, Arabic & Urdu are something special.

      I can accept 2/3 of BJP’s mantra; Hindu(stan) but not the first one.

      It is ironic that Bollywood is the only industry in the world to sing in the official language of the enemy state.

    2. \ Islamic core values (charity, non-tribalism, temperance, moderation etc) \

      Islam divides world into 2 tribes , believers and kuffar. ‘core’ values are reserved for believers – in theory. In practice all the bets are off when it is power struggle with believer or kuffar.

      The inventor of Islam , Arabia , is quintessentially tribal society till today. So are other Arab countries.

      However it is good that Hindus and Hindutvas appreciate what is good in non-Hindus.

      1. in general, the worse brutality seems to be toward those who are ‘not of the book’ or muslim heretics. this is pretty obv. today and in the past. the book part turned out to be flexible, as zoroastrians and hindus were de facto rolled in (the sabians are a usual recourse).

        1. \ book part turned out to be flexible,\
          that is why Islam is also called ‘rationalizing religion’ i.e. once you decide and act on something , then go and find ‘reasons and justifications’ from Quran. In other words Islam is not the motivating factor and is merely post-facto justificatory factor . Justifications for any course of action can be found in plenty in Quran , whether slave holding or non-slaveholding or running economies based on interest and usury. Apart from monotheism , anything goes.

          1. that is why Islam is also called ‘rationalizing religion’

            cognitive anthropology says this is all ‘high religions’. post facto ad hoc ‘reasoning.’

            also. on a pedantic note, it’s not usually the koran, but more the sunnah. the koran isn’t as long or coherent as the bible.

          2. @VijayVan
            that is why Islam is also called ‘rationalizing religion’

            True. But this is really a natural human trait. Human minds are expert in finding rationalization for their actions. Nazis even rationalized holocaust. (They were cleaning the gene pool).

  9. Well Zach failed the non-Muslim but Muslimophile liberal test by deleting my comment and even more reasonable comments form Indphilius.

    This one most likely won’t be published either 🙂

    1. what you chalk up to ideology is just his excitability 😉 he’s getting trolled on twitter apparently. and you seem to be trolling him here and so… it’s probably best to be on your most charitable behavior on HIS theads. just how the world rolls. deal with it 🙂

  10. Xerxes, which users are trolling you on Twitter (if you don’t mean by DMs)? I see only some comments by Ajesh Philip. Do they count as trolling?

  11. I don’t want either of them, so where do i sit in this liberal test ?

  12. My definition of a Hindu liberal is a slightly stronger version of Zach’s definition:

    Anyone who builds the Babri Masjid and my childhood home in Kashmir (burnt down in the same year) brick by brick is a Hindu liberal for me.

    PS: my definition of a Muslim liberal is isomorphic with this definition too. How Occamian of me 🙂

    1. People will flame me for this, but the only way Kashmir will come back to the fold is when 1) Pakistan is no longer a geopolitically revisionist power, 2) The demographics of the Vale of Kashmir are then *peacefully* re-engineered. I don’t mean just sending the Pandits back, I mean bringing people from Rajasthan to West Bengal to the place.

      Parizeau, the Quebecois sovereignist, blamed “money and the ethnic vote” for losing the Quebec referendum. Now, a quarter century later, sovereignism is basically dead, to the celebration of the Canadian Left.

      We know what we have to do. Will be a centuries-long and contingent process (I don’t expect Pakistan to turn over a new leaf before 2200 at least), but we’ve got nothing but time.

        1. Who wants to do that? I’m serious, why would that be the first thing you think of? Many American cities had demographic shifts much more rapid and radical than what I’m proposing, and nobody was “expelled.”

          1. What you are proposing is morally and ethically wrong.
            It is the equivalent of me stating that Pandits must never be allowed to return to the Valley.

            Your “ rightist” instincts are at complete odds with secular, liberal democracy; striking considering you avail yourself of these advantages in the West.

          2. I’m not sure how it’s any more wrong than a scenario where cowbelters enter Tamil Nadu en masse and end up changing the place demographically, linguistically, and politically, which pretty much everyone would be fine with.

          3. HMB:

            That kind of shift has already happened to a large extent in Bangalore, with its large population influx of tech industry workers from all over the country.

            At the turn of the century, it was a challenge finding someone who spoke any Hindi. Today it is hard to find someone who doesn’t speak at least some Hindi.

            Unfortunately, I haven’t been here long enough to learn Kannada yet, so I don’t know what the locals feel about this. My general perception is that they are pretty cool with it though.

          4. @Numinous:

            There have been some protests from Kannadiga groups about Hindi signs on the metro, and IIRC the Karnataka authorities have made laws mandating the use of Kannada signage in response to the growth of Hindi.


            @Xerxes: Not sure how you decided demographic re-engineering was antithetical to liberal democracy. Liberal democracies do it all the time. Tony Blair’s team was quite candid about increasing non-EU immigration to neutralize the voting power of natives who wanted lower immigration levels.

          5. Right, that makes sense. Incidentally, my (cowbelt) family’s plan had been for us to settle down in Bangalore rather than stay in America. But we couldn’t leave once we were in the Promised Land.

            Anyways, it seems to me that once we accept internal migration as permissible (which pretty much every mainstream political position does), there’s no reason Kashimiris should be exempt from it anymore than Tamils or Kannadigas should be.

            The one objection I can see is on libertarian-antistatist grounds, that state-incentivized movements are somehow less valid than those not incentivized. I reject this argument because 1) I’m not a libertarian, 2) the Indian state has a legitimate security interest in Kashmir that overrides libertarian dogmatism.

          6. I’m a libertarian globalist; I believe in open borders but also in strong communities with distinct identities that individuals can flow in and out of.

            The greatness of the US was that SF could be a liberal bastion and Alabama a conservative firmament. That seems to be declining now

          7. But doesn’t what Blair did give an advantage to you and people like you? If you’re willing to benefit from something you concede is wrong, how do you fault rightists for allegedly benefiting from American liberalism?

            *I am assuming, based on your Twitter feed, that you are a non-EU immigrant to Britain. If that assumption is wrong, my apologies.

          8. I am pre-Blair; maestro 🙂

            Also that’s why I believe coloureds should veer right.

            I support the Constitutional Monarchy, the Hereditary House of Lords, established Church and the aristocracy in general.

            I believe the best Revolutions are the Quietest ones; if we must effect change it must be social not political.

          9. Yes, it is ironic that someone living as a minority in a developed Western democracy is so OK with “demographic reengineering” back home.
            Settling non-Kashmiris on disputed territory is a complete non-starter. If Kashmiri muslims want independence now, the threat of demographic change in the Valley is only going to make that sentiment even stronger.

          10. I take it you folks are against admitting Muslim refugees into Europe and support Trump when he “wants to make America great again” by blocking immigration from “shithole countries”. ?

            Strong communities with distinct identities – but only if that identity is ‘Islamicate’. LOL.

          11. Immigration is best left to individual countries to decide
            Refugees should be house in the close safe stable neighbour

            Why should refugees from Somalia be settled in the US rather than Kenya.

            For instance the US should pay Kenya to house the Somali refugees

          12. Kashmir is a disputed territory. We are not talking about immigration from one country to another.

            Trying to change the demography of the Valley is not a moral solution to the conflict.

    2. Not only ur home should be built but the Kashmiri government owes you and ur family compensation for the psychological and emotional distress in leaving your home.

      By the same token Pakistan owes the Hindu & Sikh refugees not only the right to return to their homeland but disproportionate economic compensation. It is incontrovertible that Hindus and Sikhs lost out *economically* from Partition.

      As an aside I was reading that Israel used Pakistan law on “appropriating enemy territory” (read evacuee property for its own approach towards Palestinian property. Full circle!

      1. If Hindu and Sikh refugees have the right to return to Pakistan then presumably Muhajirs have the right to return to UP? Don’t open up this can of worms.

          1. Demographically the Muhajirs in Pakistan are a drop in the ocean. I don’t think either side will reverse migrate but it’s good to adhere to principles

  13. Question – Do you believe Babri Masjid should be rebuilt brick for brick as it stood pre-92?
    Answer – It is complicated.

    You see, things must be done in the order of precedence. And the precedence is decided in the chronological order. First come first serve. Here are the monuments I would like to be rebuilt first.

    1. Martand sun temple in Anantnag. Poor Sikandar Butshikan took one year to bring it down, and still could not finish the job. The temple ruins still inspire awe with its grandeur. This is hands down number 1 task in my list.
    2. 27 Hindu and Jain temples who were demolished to build quwwat-ul-mosque in Qutub Minar complex (you can still find the reliefs of deities like Ganesha and hindu mythological scenes like samudra manthan on the mosque walls). Poor ignorant momeens are being thrown into the sin of shirk when the kneel down in this mosque. Can’t overemphasize the importance of this item.
    3. Ruins of Hampi
    4..Hundreds of other Hindu temples..
    1000. Babri Masjid to be rebuilt brick-by-brick.

    1. This is a disingenuous response.

      For instance Slapstick’s home and BM are in historical memory; it’s very low hanging fruit to recreate either.

      I actually (from an architectural perspective) am very wary of recreations. Hindu temples being rebuilt is fine in principle but it is better to have a Dresden cathedral, that is recreated in perfect and gleaming details, rather than a shoddy half-job.

      Quality not quantity should be the priority. While I do not agree with disrupting the architectural integrity of Qutb Minar; I don’t see why Hindu & Jain practises cannot return to the site.

      Copulating deities is not shirk; Islam must let go of iconoclasm.

      The pedophile must have been high when he smashed those idols in the Kaabah.

      Al-Lat, Al-Uzzah and Al-Lat are the three holy consorts of Allah; though it’s a bit sexist as to why God gets to have three (Baha’u’llah also had three so what is good for goose is good for the gander).

  14. Reflecting on my own post above, I am aware I sound strongly Hindu Right wing. May be subconsciously I am. I am left leaning only when it comes to the issues like equitable distribution of wealth, fairer treatment of weaker segments of society, and in general such economical issues. When it comes to pampering of Muslims, I am usually unsparing towards them.

    In their entire 1000 year presence in India, they have remained aloof and awkwardly fitting in the local milieu. Advocates of Islamicate cultures can’t stop crowing about the glories of Islamic empires. Little do they realize what was demolished to build an odd Taj Mahal.

    I think I will stop before I lapse into ranting.

    1. I think Muslims should reflect on why there is a strong *perception* that they are “pampered.” Yes I know, Lefties will point out the Sachar Committee, how they are underrepresented in XYZ…all true, and still this perception exists.

      I don’t think Muslims are at fault here. INC sold them a false bill of goods, and now we’re in this mess. But Muslims are powerful kingmaker blocs in many voting districts, their defection to regional satraps or whoever would torpedo the INC, and then we don’t have a *national* party that caters to them. Perhaps we could start moving beyond this perception.

      Would also take away a tool from the BJP’s political arsenal, and really improve India’s political discourse.

      This will never happen, and even if it did it may not have the results I’m positing. But just some thoughts. ?

  15. Now that the nation has given the BJP a clear mandate I would not be surprised if Modi were to initiate an outreach to the Muslim communities in India. Modi claims that he wants (economic) uplift for all. What better way to try and demonstrate this? If successful, this would peel off support from the INC. If it does not succeed, at least he can claim that the BJP is making an attempt to carry everybody along.

    What will be interesting to watch in the next year is what the BJP does wrt J&K. Modi wants to change the “scope” of the festering J&K problem. One way to do this is to divide up J&K into constituent entities – Ladakh, Jammu and the Kashmir Valley. I also expect Modi to give Pakistan no room to maneuver. The pressure on the boundary will remain and so will the refusal to engage in any meaningful dialog.

    The big challenge for Modi is to stage an economic recovery in India. The economy is showing signs of slowing down considerably.

  16. I don’t know what this whole post or thread about but only want to protest these two statements:

    1. South Indian cities are not multilingual. Traversing Madras and Bangalore in early 90s needed local help. Otherwise you made do with hand waving. Pondy bazaar didn’t make up the entire Madras FYI.
    Also, you needed Urdu and not Telugu to navigate Hyderabad in early 80s. Maybe commentators here moved in elite circles but for visitors from district towns it was like visiting a foreign country.

    2. Chennai is not a Telugu name. Chenna Pattnam would have been the name if Telugus owned and named Madras. No need to rub salt on the the wounds of Telugus who suffered losing state capital twice within a 100 years. In fact, Nellore is sourced from Tamil.

    1. In the case of Bangalore, i’ve heard that Telugu and Tamil proficiency were quite high before the 80’s, apart from Kannada. Now the latter two are being supplanted by Hindi. In north Karnataka, similarly, Marathi is getting supplanted by Hindi as the second language. One of the sad outcomes of this is that people are trading their understanding of their neighbouring state cultures to participate in the national Hindi mediated culture. This possibly hardens local divisions between linguistic groups. That at least has been my observation on the Kannada-Marathi boundary.

    2. Violet, I remember Bangalore being quite easy to operate in with English in the 1980s. English being more commonly known and spoken than Hindi.

      I would agree with you with respect to many parts of Madras . . . and about navigating Hyderabad in Urdu.

      “In the case of Bangalore, i’ve heard that Telugu and Tamil proficiency were quite high before the 80’s, apart from Kannada.”


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