Sunday, August 8, 2010

Analysis of Muslim politics by Ram Swarup

Excerpted from the book:

Muslim League Attack on Sikhs and Hindus in the Punjab, 1947.  Compiled for the SGPC by S. GURBACHAN SINGH TALIB. Published byVoice of India, New Delhi

...Muslim politics in turn is grounded in Muslim theology.  Islam believes in one God (their God) but two humanities: the believers and the infidels.  Islam teaches, at least according to its most pious and learned men, Jihad or holy war against the infidels.  It is not that the infidels have done any harm to Islam or Muslims but it is simply because holy war against the infidels “is established as a divine ordinance, by the word of God, who has said in the Koran, ‘Slay the Infidel’,” according to Hidayah, an old and important work widely esteemed in the Muslim world.
Similarly, it is not a question of self-defence against any aggression or any unprovoked war but it is simply because the infidels by being infidels incur “the destruction of the sword,” although “they be not the first aggressors,” to put it again in the language of the Hidayah, which derives it “from various passages in the sacred writings which are generally received to this effect.” It reveals not only what the Islamic sacred writings say but, what is still more important, what the Muslim pious men and scholars believe these writings do.  There has been a wide consensus among them about the message of these writings.
To this theology of holy war belong two related concepts: dar al-harb and dar al-islam.  According to this theology, dar al-harb is a country of the infidels, a country not ruled by Muslims; Muslims have to wage a war against it and convert it into dar al-islam, a country governed by Muslims.  Again, it is not a question of majorities and minorities but of believers and unbelievers.  A country of a majority of infidels but ruled by a small minority of Muslims, as India once was, is dar al-islam and is perfectly legitimate and conforms more truly to the divine injunction and is superior in Allah’s eyes to a country ruled by its own people but who are infidels.  Similarly, it is not a question of “equal rights” for all citizens irrespective of their religions.  Such concepts are un-Islamic.  Under Islam, non-Muslims, if they are allowed to exist at all, are non-citizens or zimmis; only Muslims are full citizens.
It also means that, theoretically, the believers are at war with the infidels all the time, though, in practice, a war may not be possible at a particular time.  The actual shape of the war will depend on many external factors, not the least of them being the stage of preparedness of the believers for the venture.  But they must continue exerting and planning and looking for opportunities.  This is the essence of Jihad.  It has been widely discussed in Islamic books on religious laws.
But it does raise some problems on the practical level.  For example, when Europe ruled and the whole Muslim world was on its knees and Muslims were not in a position to wage an effective war, what would they do?  Then the concept of Jihad had to be diluted and in India another concept was added, the concept of dar al-aman.  According to this concept, it was sufficient if Muslims had the liberty to give their azan-call (which was banned by Maharaja Ranjit Singh), to offer their namaz and keep their fast, and it was enough for them to be most loyal to a Christian power.  There are also other complicating problems in a world where nationalism has become a new recognised value and a citizen is governed by his country’s laws and owes his first allegiance to his country.  But Islam is essentially pan-Islamic and pan-Islamism must override the demands both of territorial nationalism and of universal humanism.  In this sense extra-territorialism (and also religious exclusivism) is fundamental to Islam.  If the contending parties are Muslim, nationalism could still have a meaning; but when of the two contending parties, one is Muslim and the other infidel there is no dilemma for the Muslims of both countries and their duty is clear.  The Muslims living in dar al-harb must support a Jihad against their Government.
This is the ideational framework from which the events of 1940s derived.  For those who know this framework, the chapter of Muslim history which this book discusses is not new; to them, it is an old chapter and also the one which has not yet closed, not even its carnage and exodus.  Hindus have been subjected to these forces for centuries, and these forces continue to operate unabated even now.  Take for example, the exodus from West Pakistan, the subject of the present book.  Hindus have known many such exodus in the past.  Repeated Muslim invasions created repeated Hindu exodus.  Speaking of the “wonderful exploits” of Mahmud Ghaznavi (A.D. 997-1030), Alberuni tells us how “Hindus became like atoms of dust scattered in all directions.” All along the coast of the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf, and also along old trade-routes passing through North-West and Central Asia, there were prosperous Hindu settlements.  All these inhabitants became refugees.  Exodus continues (besides extensive infiltration) from Bangla Desh and the Kashmir Valley even today.  The only thing unique about the 1947-exodus was that thanks to its Sikh component it was not a one-way traffic.
In this larger perspective, Pakistan itself is not a new phenomenon, nor does the story end with its creation.  On the other hand, old politics continues under more unfavourable conditions for India.  Pakistan is emerging as an important focal point of Islamic fundamentalism and it is seeking new alignments in the Middle East in conformity to its new role.  Muslim fundamentalism is a danger in the long run both to the West as well as the East, but it is not yet fully realized.  Meanwhile, Pakistan is using its new position of leadership against India.  While holding out the threat of nuclear blackmail, it is more than a willing ally of any country or group which has any quarrel with or grouse against India.  In India itself, Pakistan enjoys a large support, not only amongst Muslims who have always had a soft corner for it and who, in fact, had an important role in its creation, but also amongst Hindu intelligensia, the country’s left and secular elite who control its media and politics.  The motives are complicated into which we cannot go here.  But meanwhile India is being subjected to a war of subversion and aggression, a war hot and cold, active and passive.  Pakistan has become an instigator and supplier, a trainer, an arsenal and a safe rear of many guerilla and militant forces.
But Hindu India remains confused and even unconcerned.  It has been a poor student of history; it has therefore also neglected its lessons; it has failed to read properly the forces, particularly ideological forces, that have been and are still at work to keep it down.  In fact, it does not even acknowledge them.  It still stubbornly clings to its old assumption that the League politics came out of the scheming head of one Jinnah who was aided and abetted by the British, and that Muslims and Islam had nothing to do with it; that, in fact, they were reluctant victims of this politics and were pushed into it by an intransigent Hindudom.
All this we believe partly because it involves doing nothing, anticipating nothing, planning nothing, and we can continue to live from day to day.  A more realistic and faithful appraisal will impose on us duties of a different kind and scope, duties which we therefore shirk.  We have learnt to live without thinking and we have got used to the idea of a shrunken and shrinking India.  We can now think of India without Afghanistan, without the North-West Frontier Province, without Punjab and Sind, without East Bengal, and we can do the same without Kashmir and other parts in the future.  Why assume avoidable responsibilities?
Or perhaps the sickness is deeper.  Long back, Sri Aurobindo saw the “root cause of India’s weakness,” not in foreign yoke or poverty or dearth of spiritual experience, but in the “decline of thinking power.” Everywhere he saw “inability or unwillingness to think, which is a sign of tragic decadence.”
Ram Swarup  (1991).

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