Some History Lessons for Jawed Naqvi

In the 14 October edition of the Pakistani newspaper Dawn, Jawed Naqvi writes on how advocates of Hindutva can be shown to be hollow in their stands if we all just look at the ‘syncretic’ aspect of Indian history.

Hindutva-run schools would never risk teaching Ghalib or Mir or so many other Urdu poets who challenge their stereotype of Hindu-hating Indian Muslims. Not surprisingly, these cultural mascots from our past are shunned equally in Muslim seminaries of Pakistan for just as valid or invalid a reason. How else would either of them whip up the required mistrust of the ‘other’ if their cadre were to be exposed to, say, Mir Taqi Mir’s couplet from the 19th-century cultural ambience?

Chhor ker sab deeno-imaa’n Mir jiske waastey/ Hum huey kaafir to wo kaafir Musalma’n ho gaya (I forsook my faith to become a kafir like the beloved/ The beloved betrayed me and turned a Muslim instead)

For Muslim extremists, Mir would be deserving of the ultimate punishment for deserting his religion. For Hindutva, the far-sighted poet posed a more contemporary threat — an artificially induced enemy, a ‘love-jihadi’ who they imagined or claimed was preying on their daughters.

There has been a traditional affinity, even bonding, between Hindu and Muslim extremists of the subcontinent. They have both mistrusted the liberals within their respective folds. It was natural, therefore, for Hindutva in India to emulate its narrow-minded Muslim counterparts in Pakistan to jointly target the genial Emperor Akbar, otherwise considered a symbol of enlightenment and religious tolerance.

It would have better if Mr. Naqvi would have also spoken of the Urdu poet Allama Iqbal whose melodious ‘Sare Jahan Se Accha’ is sung even by those shallow radicals of Hindutva.

But I believe Mr. Naqvi wanted to avoid controversy since Iqbal was also a proponent of pan-Islamism, as seen in the poem Shikwa in which he writes:

No matter if my idiom is Indian, my spirit is that of Hijaz.

Or take a look at this famous couplet of poet Altaf Hussain Hali which went something like:

Farewell, O Hindustan, a garden in which autumn never comes. We, your foreign guests, have lived here long enough.

Both Iqbal and Hali wrote eloquently and splendidly about the pain of the Muslims who once ruled the world from Europe to Asia but had become powerless down the years. And both hoped for a Pan-Islamic renaissance.


Modern scholars of English literature are not hesitant to point out Shakespeare’s obvious anti-Semitism as is evident in his Merchant of Venice. Similarly I would actually welcome the inclusion of poems penned by Iqbal, Hali, Mir and Ghalib, provided they are not shown in a selective manner which will do nothing more than confuse young minds.

I can guarantee that if Mr. Naqvi asked the children studying in ‘secular’ schools (that are not run by Hindutva radicals) how much of Ghalib and Mir they have read, the answer would be disappointing.

It is common knowledge nowadays that the education system in this country since 1947 has mostly been under the control and supervision of the leftist ideologues who have successfully managed to produce a contradictory and agenda-driven version of Indian history and philosophy. So it is this band of secular-leftist eminences that should be credited for not disseminating the poems of Ghalib and Mir to the nation’s youth. Then again Mr. Naqvi, like many of our liberals sees only one side of the story.

As for his note on Akbar “the great,” I will just cite the relevant extracts from this detailed piece:

One may accept, that for a Muslim ruler, the fact of his dialogues on religious issues with people from other faiths (how many times?) and his abolition of the Jizyah were novel, but nothing more need be seen in that. There is no need to blow it out of proportion. Then the question is: how many followers actually joined his Din-i-Ilahi? And who were they? How many momins and how many kafirs were there in that congregation? What was its impact?….. In the classical introductions to this period of history, one can find demythologizing facts such as these:

1. Akbar showed limited zeal in actually enforcing his more liberal decrees, which his lieutenants tended not to implement. Thus having ordered the abolition of Jizyah in 1564, another had to be issued after 10 years to enforce it. Hussein Khan, the Governor of Lahore, ordered Hindus ‘to stick patches on their shoulders so no Muslim could be put to the indignity of showing them honor by mistake, nor did he allow Hindus to saddle their horses’,- exemplifying Zimma regime (permanent humiliation and disenfranchisement of non-Muslim subjects) of which the Jizyah was a part. Badaoni tells us that it was customary ‘to search out and kill heretics’ (mainly Shias) not to mention non-Muslims, as late as 1574. Other contemporary sources such as the Akbarnama and the Ain-i-Akbari confirm that at least prior to 1593, there had been conversion of Hindus to Islam by force.

2. Akbar was unsecular as well as unchivalrous in his treatment of non-Muslim captives. Upon being captured, the father of Himu (Akbar’s main Hindu military adversary) was offered a choice between death and conversion to Islam. In 1581, the Portuguese captives at Surat were also given this choice between conversion and death.

3. While attacking Chittor, Akbar called himself a ghazi, i.e. one who kills unbelievers in jihad. The mayhem that he caused was typical Jihadi style. Thirty thousand poor peasants were killed in the fort of Chittorgarh. A number of Rajput women committed suicide by setting themselves on fire (jauhar) , preferring death to abduction and rape by Akbar’s men. These directly affected contemporaries hadn’t heard of Akbar’s liberal reputation.

4.  Even iconoclastic zeal did not disappear under Akbar. During an attack on the Hindu state of Kangra, a Hindu temple was wantonly desecrated. Akbar’s official Bayazid converted a Hindu temple into a Muslim school. Jain idols in Gujarat were vandalized. In a letter to Abdullah Khan Uzbek in !856, Akbar declared himself a Muslim and boasted that on account of his conquests, Islam had spread to other territories where it had not been heard of before, and temples of the unbelievers had been converted into mosques.

5.  Akbar declared that the institutes of Prophet and the revelation of God ‘have always been my guides.’ His allegiance to Islam rather than to secularism or to some new Unitarian religion is confirmed by the fact that his children by Hindu wives were all given Arabic names and brought up as Muslims.

Of course, in face of this sort of historical truth, Mr.Naqvi can very well label all these facts as bitter propaganda, but then again isn’t truth bitter?

Next, Mr. Naqi says:

At a popular level, Dara Shikoh was one of the last notable Mughal princes to be credited with translating Hindu scriptures from Sanskrit into Persian. The fact is, as Prof Qasemi illustrates, that Dara was only following a tradition that emulates Akbar and often goes beyond the emperor by a few centuries.

Now Mr. Naqvi is correct about Dara Shikoh but why didn’t he mention the terrible fate that ended the life of this great advocate of of Hindu-Muslim synthesis, as narrated in Sir Jadunath Sarkar’s translated version of Aurangzeb Volume 2:

On the 23rd June 1659, Dara Shikoh with his second son, Sipihr Shikoh, and two daughters, was delivered to Bahadur Khan, and two months later the party arrived outside Delh, on the 23rd August. A week after his arrival the royal captive was paraded in the bazaars of Delhi. ‘On 29th August the degrading parade was held. To complete his humiliation, Dara was seated in an uncovered hawda on the back of a small female elephant covered with dirt…[T]he captive heir to the richest throne in the world, the favourite..son of the most magnificent of the Great Mughals, was now clad in a travel-tainted dress of the coarsest cloth, with a dark dingy-coloured turban, such as only the poorest wear, on his head, and no necklace or jewel adorning his person.

His feet were chained, though the hands were free. Exposed to the full blaze of an August sun, he was taken through the scenes of his former glory and splendor. In the bitterness of disgrace he did not raise his head, nor cast his glance on any side, but sat “like a crushed twig”…A decree was obtained from the Doctors of Muslim law that Dara Shikoh deserved death on the ground of infidelity and deviation from Islamic orthodoxy. On the night of the 30th August, the executioners tore. away Sipihr Shikoh from his father’s arms, and after a violent struggle beheaded Dara Shikoh. The severed head was sent to Aurangzeb to satisfy him that his rival was really dead; and the corpse, by the Emperor’s order, was placed on an elephant and paraded through the streets a second time and then buried in a vault under the dome of the tomb of Humayun.

The case of Dara Shikoh simultaneously shows the hope  of Hindu-Muslim synthesis as well as its impossibility. Can Mr. Naqvi point out just one ruler during the uninterrupted, prolonged Mughal rule who attempted to do what Dara Shikoh did?


In this context, I’d also like Mr. Naqvi to please take a look at what the noted Gujarati author and Hindutva supporter Gunvant Shah had to say:

In Delhi, there are roads named after Mughal emperors. There’s Aurgangzeb road where Sardar Patel was living, but Prince Dara Shikoh’s name is not given to any road. Dara who translated our Upanishads in Persian and spread the knowledge beyond borders. I visited Kurukshetra and in university library I found Dara Shikoh’s Persian translation of our book Yoga vashista. Sadly, there’s no road in Delhi named after him, and what secularism we are talking about?

Contrast that claim with this one made on a report by the secular Tehelka regarding Amar Chitra Katha portraying Dara Shikoh:

“Muslim freedom fighters and Aurangzeb were sidelined and ‘grey-zone’ mystics such as Dara Shikoh and Kabir were chosen as representatives of the Muslim…

In his article, Mr. Naqvi does not forget to make the standard claim of Indian secular eminences: there has been a traditional affinity, even bonding, between Hindu and Muslim extremists of the subcontinent.

This fake comparison of radical Islam with Hindu nationalism has been dealt with previously in these two articles.

But for Mr. Naqvi, I present the following citation from what can be called the manifesto of Hindutva written by Veer Savarkar in 1924:

The majority of Indian Mohammedans may, if free from the prejudices born of ignorance, come to love our land as their fatherland, as the patriotic and noble-minded amongst them have always been doing.

This claim of Savarkar was answered by the famous legal personality Mohammed Ali Currim Chagla when he was eulogizing the former:

Anyone living in this country who loved and drew inspiration from the great heritage of India and was loyal to India was a Hindu.

As both the statements prove, there is indeed a traditional affinity, but it is between Hindu and Muslim patriots in the truest sense of the word.

Also, Mr. Naqvi, while the Hindu Nationalist BJP has Muslim members can you show me even a single Hindu member in any radical Islamic organization including MIM which won three seats in the recently concluded Maharashtra Assembly elections?

Also since Mr. Naqvi spoke of schools and since Dawn is based in Pakistan, I urge him to have a look at these two detailed studies done on Pakistani textbooks. Some excerpts:

1. Since the 1970s Pakistani school textbooks have systematically inculcated hatred towards India and Hindus through historical revisionism. There is no mention of Islamic invasion and conversion of Hindus. Many texts give an impression that ancient Indian heritage was not destroyed by Afghans and Turks but Muslim heritage was destroyed by Indians, which is a contradiction of the theory of mainstream historians.

2. A Text Book of Pakistan Studies claims that Pakistan “came to be established for the first time when the Arabs under Mohammad bin Qasim occupied Sindh and Multan’; by the thirteenth century ‘Pakistan had spread to include the whole of Northern India and Bengal’ and then under the Khiljis, Pakistan moved further south-ward to include a greater part of Central India and the Deccan’.; under Aurangzeb the ‘Pakistan spirit gathered in strength’; his death ‘weakened the Pakistan spirit.’

Now Mr. Naqvi should have known that it was under a Hindutva government that the accomplished scientist Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam became the president of India, a fact that mightily upset Indian secular eminences for these reasons:

1. He believes more in Hindu scriptures than the Koran.

2. He takes pride in knowing Sanskrit but no Urdu.

3. He plays the rudra veena.

For the detailed outpouring of this secular rage, see, this and this.


In the mind of the secular eminences, the Muslim is always stereotypically orthodox and opposed to assimilation with national culture, and that this fact is a given, not to be questioned.Interestingly this secular mind-set is also shared by the multiculturalists of Europe and to quote Pascal Bruckner: Multiculturalism is racism of the anti-racists: it chains people to their roots. From that quote if you replace multiculturalism with secularism and racism with communalism, what you get is the Indian leftist secular mindset.

By the way Mr. Naqvi, can you tell me why does Vande Mataram scare the secularists? Why do they scream ‘wolf’ whenever the ‘Hindu’ word is uttered?  Why does any statement espousing national integration and cultural unity rooted in Indian civilization makes them cry murder?

In Conclusion, Mr. Naqvi, please do not worry about Akbar or Ghalib or Hindutva. Hindutva can handle the truth, however bitter it may be.On an important side-note, I request you to read about Kazi Nazrul Islam, a true yet ignored icon of pluralism.