South Asian Muslim ancestors were idolaters!

An argument that emerges now and then on this website has to do with the nature of the ancestors of Indian (South Asian) Muslims. Where they Hindus? Much hinges on semantics. The term “Hindu” after all simply meant Indian in the days of yore, so by definition, they were.

On the other hand, Hindu today denotes a set of beliefs, practices, and identities, which exists at counterpoint with the confessions of Islam, sects like Jainism and Sikhism, and the dharmic world religion of Buddhism. To say that the ancestors of Muslims were Hindus may not give the correct impression due to the fact that that implies a level of fidelity to practices and beliefs which we today recognize as Hindu. Even setting aside the fact that substantial numbers may have been adherents of counter-cultural sects such as Buddhism, many of the threads of contemporary Hinduism developed in situ in the Indian subcontinent at the same time as many regions became predominantly Muslim.

And yet I think I have come to an elegant and accurate solution to this problem: those of us of Muslim origin or belief should simply admit that we were the descendants of idolators. Whether Buddhist, caste Hindu, or animistic peasant, from a Muslim perspective all these groups are idolators.

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The white liberal’s idea of an Asian American

In Vox, Asian American racism is the unfunny joke the comedy world needs to reckon with. The piece is ho-hum. It could have been written by some sort of software program, as it leverages every quasi-academic intellectual construct about Asian Americans.

What I would like to see more in the media is the voice of the Korean American Christian pastor and the Indian American tech-bro. They exist. And there are a lot more of them than there are post-colonial theorists.

(I was in a very liberal [pierced people] cafe in Austin once when they were talking about Indians…and I realized the conversation stopped as people looked sideways at me, so I get what the author is saying)

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Browncast Episode 79: Mohammed Zeeshan

Another BP Podcast is up. You can listen on LibsyniTunesSpotify,  and Stitcher. Probably the easiest way to keep up the podcast since we don’t have a regular schedule is to subscribe at one of the links above.

You can also support the podcast as a patron. The primary benefit now is that you get the podcasts considerably earlier than everyone else.

Would appreciate more positive reviews! Alton Brown’s “Browncast” has 30 reviews on Stitcher alone! Help make us the biggest browncast there is!

In this episode we talk to Mohammed Zeeshan, who is a foreign affairs analyst and columnist. He has written for The Diplomat, The National Interest, Swarajya and DailyO, among others and is a founder of the Freedom gazette. We talk about the current anti-CAA protests, the current and future prospects of Indian Muslims and how they perceive the BJP.

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Browncast Episode 78: Omar Al Nidawi

Another BP Podcast is up. You can listen on LibsyniTunesSpotify,  and Stitcher. Probably the easiest way to keep up the podcast since we don’t have a regular schedule is to subscribe at one of the links above.

You can also support the podcast as a patron. The primary benefit now is that you get the podcasts considerably earlier than everyone else.

Would appreciate more positive reviews! Alton Brown’s “Browncast” has 30 reviews on Stitcher alone! Help make us the biggest browncast there is!

In this episode we talk to Omar Al Nidawi, who is an Iraqi-American who works to promote development and democracy in Iraq and talks to us about his impressions of the current crisis in Iraq and what may lie in the future.  He also tells us a little about homebrewing beer and how he got to be the President of the Washington DC homebrewers club.

Image result for omar al nidawi

 

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Years of Rice and Lentils

Going back twenty years I have been fascinated by “alternative history” science fiction. This is often termed “Uchronia.” If you want to explore this genre, I suggest the Uchronia website.

Probably the biggest breakout into “mainstream” science fiction of this sort of work is Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Years of Rice and Salt. Here the “Point of Departure,” where history forks from our timeline, is the Black Death. White Christian Europeans go extinct, with small groups getting absorbed by expanding West Asian and North African Muslims. Eventually, Europe becomes one of the outposts of the Near Eastern Islamic civilization.  The world becomes defined by a “Cold War” between a Chinese-led bloc, and an Islamic-led bloc, with the Indian subcontinent, split between the two (though leaning toward the Chinese-led bloc).

The reason I’m bringing this up is that it presents a thought experiment: what if the Hindu Rajputs had managed to prevent the expansion of Turco-Muslim polities into the Indian subcontinent beyond the Sindh and parts of Punjab? If this had happened, the shock of the Mongol sweep south would probably be even more devastating for the Turco-Muslim polities of Persia and Central Asia (India being less of a fallback). One can imagine a scenario playing out where Islam and Muslims in the Indian subcontinent remain a small distinct minority, with higher concentrations in coastal areas impacted by trade. Islam would perhaps play the same role in India as it does in mainland Southeast Asia: a minority religion that serves mostly as an interface with the Indian Ocean trading network, rather than a religion of a dominant ruling class.

A more interesting question is what are the cultural ramifications of this historical fork? A comment was made on this weblog stated that to a great extent it is hard to imagine North Indian culture without Muslim (so Turkic and Persian) influence. One may disagree with this comment, but it is not a crazy assertion.

But the question of the nature of the alternative history is interesting. Because it is a way one can get at an answer as to what a reconstructed Hindu identity which genuinely strips away Islamicate accretions would look like. Something some people do aspire to…

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India Impressions

I spent a month in India recently and wanted to share some impressions.

Prima facie, India is a distressing and depressing place. The overwhelming feeling is one of criminal neglect and carelessness. This feeling needs to be tempered with the real difference in wealth between India and rich countries, but the differences are present even when in comparison to similar income countries like Vietnam.

The classic example is of driving. There are a 130 fatalities per 100,000 vehicles in India, the same number for is 55 for Vietnam and 37 for Indonesia. Drivers are reckless, contemptuous of rules, near maniacs on the road. Traffic police is nowhere to be seen.

The other apparent feature of India is trash. India actually generates very little trash per capita. But virtually none of this seems to be disposed properly. The constant sight of trash on the roads, every nook and corner eventually starts to appall one. More importantly, the health and safety implications are grave.

A newer menace is pollution. In the winter, it is a permanent fixture in the sky, casting a depressing spell. Health implications will become clearer in the coming years. Street lighting is also very poor.

Cumulatively, this series of neglects produces an urban environment that leaves one paranoid, morbid and irritated.

Our Constitution makers committed a grave oversight by allowing states to decide the structure of urban governance. Legally, cities in India exist at the whim of state legislatures. Mumbai city has no independent legal existence. Tomorrow, the state of Maharashtra can merge it into Pune if it wants. Imagine the state of Texas abolishing Austin. The central government doesnt seem to care that it hasnt appointed 37% of high court chief justices. The list of governance befuddlements goes on and on.

We actually have good urban schools (PPP or government aided), which are funded by the state and managed by independent religious, cultural or educational societies. These schools have produced a generation of excellent human capital. But it is the West and Gulf states that benefit from this excellent system, due to our own short-sightedness. Those who care about India’s future need to think seriously about why the best of India’s talent leaves at the first available opportunity.

My own hope lies with Delhi. Through sheer providence, we managed to have an urban area with a sensible model of governance. The city actually has a real mayor, who by most accounts has done a great job in the last five years. If policing responsibility was also shared with the Delhi government, rather than being in the hands of a Union minister, we will see what Indian democracy can truly achieve in an urban area.

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Welcome back Mahathir Mohamad, Hero of Asia! (a)

This is a follow up to:

Welcome back Mahathir Mohamad, Hero of Asia!

Rishabh Gulat–who I respect greatly has a different take on Datuk Mahathir Mohamad, Hero of Asia, than I do. Some argue that Datuk Mahathir has recently shifted his policy and allied with conservative Wahhabi (subset of Salafi, subset of Sunni) muslims, MBS, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan against India. Mr. Gulat implies that Datuk Mahathir is backing Brown Pundit favorite Dr. Zakir Naik against India:

Please watch Mr. Gulat and come to your own conclusions.

The Indian Malays (7% of the population, 15% of the professional workforce, 40% of all Malaysian doctors, economic engine that moves Malaysia) are rallying the opposition to Datuk Mahatir. Mr. Gulat thinks the global Indian diaspora and global Eastern philosophy diaspora (presumably inclusive of Confucians, Toaists and Chinese) should back the Indian Malays in this.

I need to do a lot more research before proposing an alternative course of action. But here is a question. Can the Indian Malays, global Indian diaspora, global Eastern Philosophy, global Muraqabah tilted Sunnis and Shia and global liberal muslims unite and offer Datuk Mahathir Mohammed an offer he can’t refuse?:

There are many great and powerful Indian and Indonesian muslims–friends of PM Modi–who can make the offer.

As an aside, many Brown Pundits readers know Dr. Zakir Naik fanboy and heart throb Veedu Vidz. Please ask him to come on the Brown Pundits Podcast!

Mr. Rishabh Gulat is a great thought leader and expert on Indonesia, Malaysia and South East Asia more generally. He says that India and Indonesia should make a civilizational, cultural, economic and geopolitical alliance. Is there an interest in the Brown Pundits Podcast interviewing Mr. Rishabh Gulat?

Please let us know in the comments.

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Bong-outlier!


Using my own data to test some stuff, and I notice

1) My parents are both “outliers” from the Bangladeshis collected in Dhaka. Not too surprising, as my family is from low country Comilla, and more “East Asian” than usual.

2) My father is more “steppe shifted.” This always shows up in various analyses. And, it is not surprising. His maternal grandfather was from a Bengali Brahmin family (they all converted the previous generation).

3) Weirdly, I am quite near my father on this plot. Mendelian segregation I assume. I have a 23andMe and a SNP file generated from 30x WGS, and they land on the same spot. So it’s not some artifact.

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Race and religion trump class

Another month, another “Asian” grooming gang scandal. “Asian” usually, but not exclusively, seems to mean Pakistani British men.

A lot of the discussion around this issue centers on the perpetrators of the crimes. Their ethnoreligious distinctiveness. The cultural preconditions which allow for the development of these practices of abuse and exploitation as normative in certain circumstances and toward certain people (though the details differ, from what I know of South Asian communities, in general, there’s a fair amount of sexual abuse going on within the subculture that isn’t discovered because of norms of shame and concealment).

But, I want to focus on the victims. Whenever these stories surface the victims are invariably described as “troubled” and from “broken” homes. These were vulnerable children. Additionally, the powers that be did not see these girls as their girls. If gangs of Pakistani British men were abusing and raping the daughters of middle-class burghers, I am 100% sure that the police would pay immediate attention and follow-up on these cases no matter the sensitivities.

I think it is fine and important to highlight the subculture that fosters this sort of behavior through their assumptions about the sexual nature of non-South Asian women (e.g., I have had it explained to me by several men of Indian subcontinental origin whose tastes were toward the prurient that “our women are pure”). But these cases also illustrate stark class divides and the total lack of concern and interest by the bureaucratic and public service class toward individuals from the lower class.

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