Thursday, November 25, 2010
By Milan Rai
With the death of King Fahd, Saudi Arabia is the main topic of discussion in today's newspapers. Below we fill in some of the gaps in the British coverage.
THE WAHHABI-SAUDI CONNECTION
The central fact of Saudi Arabia is the merger between the ruling al-Sa'ud family and the harsh Wahhabi version of Islam. This is referred in the Guardian's editorial thus: 'Unhappily, the kingdom is also the birthplace of Osama bin Laden, wayward scion of a wealthy and privileged family whose violent fundamentalism is still close to Wahhabi doctrine.'
This says that bin Laden's family is close to Wahhabism.
Nowhere in the editorial is there acknowledgement that the al-Sa'ud family is not merely close to Wahhabism, but its guarantor and promoter, not only in Saudi Arabia, but around the world.
The Guardian obituary is even worse: 'The ruling house had its Wahhabite zealots, but, on the whole, it was always relatively forward-looking, far more so, certainly, than the hidebound religious establishment, the other pillar of this unique theocracy - and usually more so than the people at large.'
No acknowledgement here that the 'other pillar of this unique theocracy is only there because the House of Sa'ud determined in the past that it should be the state religion, and continues to enforce its dominance by force and largesse.
Robert Fisk offers some corrective in the Independent, with a front page story on the House of Sa'ud, acknowledging the importance of Wahhabism to the royal family in his second sentence, going on to write:
'Journalists like to claim that Wahhabism is "obscurantist" but it is not true. Abdul-Wahab was not a great thinker or philosopher but, for his followers, he was a near-saint. Waging war on felllow Muslims who had erred was an obligatory part of his philosophy, whether they be the "deviant" Shia Muslims of Basra - whom he vainly tried to convert to Sunni Islam (they chucked him out) - or Arabians who did not follow his own exclusive interpretation of Muslim unity.'
'But he also prescribed rebellion against rulers. His orthodoxy threatened the modern-day House of Saud because of its corruption, yet secured its future by forbidding revolution. The Saudi royal family thus embraced the one faith which could protect and destroy it.'
'Which is why all the talk in modern Saudi Arabia of "cracking down on terror", protecting women's rights, lessening the power of the religious police, is so much hokum.' (page 2)
Roula Khalaf, another outstanding Middle East correspondent, writes in the FT that after 9/11, 'A royal family that has always relied for its legitimacy on the support of clerics from the puritan and often intolerant Wahabi sect was compelled to face the dangerous consequences of their religious teaching, whether in mosques or schools.'
In the Telegraph, Tim Butcher and Rasheed Abou-Alsamh (the latter writing from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia) quote 'Adel Al-Toraifi, a writer and political analyst in the capital, Riyadh, [who] said he did not believe that women would be allowed to drive or vote in the next five years. Such a change of policy would risk antagonising the ultra-conservatives, whose support of the royal family has been crucial to the longevity of their rule. Mr Al-Toraifi said: "If they allow women to drive and vote, it will spell the end of their control over the population and it would be too dangerous for them.' '
THE SA'UDI-WAHHABI MERGER
For a percept account of the Sa'udi-Wahhabi merger, we may turn to Madawi al-Rasheed's A History of Saudi Arabia (Cambridge University Press, 2002).
It is well-known that Ibn Sa'ud, the founder of the modern state that bears his name, conquered the peninsula in the 1920s with the aid of a tribal military formations known as ikhwan. Mudawi al-Rasheed points out that equally important in securing the establishment of Sa'udi rule over the diverse tribes of the Arabian peninsula was the system of part-time clerical authorities peculiar to central Arabia:
'A mutawwa' 'was a member of the hadar [sedentary population] who had acquired a religious education after a period of study with a distinguished member of 'ulama [religious scholars] based in the main towns of southern Najd (mainly Riyadh) and Qasim ('Unayzah) after which he became a specialist in jurisprudence and matters relations to 'ibada (Islamic rituals)... a volunteer who enforced obedience to Islam and performance of its rituals... [This was] a Najdi phenomenon... differed from religious scholars in other parts of the Islamic world, commonly referred to as 'ulama. Historically Najdi men of religion often studied, taught and applied Hanbali fiqh [school of law] only, and considered other branches of the religious and linguistic sciences as intellectual luxuries that were not needed in their own society...' The mutawwa'a were '
"religious ritual specialists", or simply "ritual specialists"... [with] limited expertise in theology. They practised their expertise in conjunction with agriculture and trade.' (page 49)
''''Although they taught submission to God, 'in practice they implied that without submission to the political authority of Ibn Sa'ud, the faith and deeds of Muslims would be threatened.' 'they often had to use violence against those who refused to submit to their authority', including 'publicly lashing those who violated their code of behaviour... These ritual specialists became the nucleus of the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and Prohibition of Vice.' (page 52)
'The problem for Ibn Sa'ud as he set out to build a kingdom, was that his base was a small, isolated settled community in the central Najd region of Arabia. It lacked the strong kinship ties to powerful non-settled bedouin tribes needed to create the kind of powerful alliance needed to conquer the peninsula. Solution? Religious authority.
'The enforcement of ritualistic Islam by the Najdi mutawwa'a was significant in the process of state formation. Between 1902 and 1932 the regime of "discipline and punishment" enforced by the mutawwa'a who were constantly preoccupied with ritualistic Islam was essential for domesticating the Arabian population into accepting the political authority of Ibn Sa'ud after he captured Riyadh in 1902.' They declared him imam. 'The symbolic title of imam granted him a most needed legitimacy. In return, the mutawwa'a were assured of sympathetic political and military leadership.' (page 50)
'It seems that before Ibn Saud captured Riyadh, the mutawwa'a were lacking in prestige and authority', sometimes expelled from tribal confederations, just as their founder Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab had been expelled from 'Uyahnah in the eighteenth century. (page 54) 'Having lost their material wealth, prestige and status in the nineteenth century, the mutawwa'a were predisposed to accept a political figure who promised not only their salvation but also a reversal of their misfortune.' (page 56) 'Ibn Sa'ud enlisted them in the service of his domain as he employed them and paid their salaries in cash and kind. He thus transformed them into full-time religious ritual specialists, loyal to him and dependent on his resources.
In return, Ibn Sa'ud was guaranteed the political submission of the Arabian population under the guise of submission to God.' The mutawwa'a also collected zakat (tribute or taxes) for the central government. (page
/'Often the mutawwa'a arrived among the tribal confederations before Ibn Sa'ud's raiding troops... They were probably 'confined to teaching the Qur'an and 'ibada [Islamic rituals]... In addition, they preached the importance of obedience to wali al-amr, leader of the Muslim community.
Obedience should be manifested in readiness to pay him zakat and respond to his call for jihad. Both zakat and jihad were at the heart of the Wahhabi idea of the state, and were considered crucial mechanisms for its consolidation.' (pages 51, 52)
'The mutawwa'a also played a crucial role in the creation of the ikhwan fighting force' with which Ibn Sa'ud conquered his kingdom. (page 58) Tribal confederations were persuaded to settle in villages known as hujjar, a word that 'evokes the early migration of the Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Madina where he established the first Muslim community in the seventh century... Those who agreed to settle and endorse the mutawwa'a's teaching became known as ikhwan.' (page 60) They became the fierce fighting core of Sa'udi power.
'With the ikhwan, the tension between central power and the tribal periphery, which had plagued previous Sa'udi emirates and had often led to their demise, was partially overcome. Ibn Sa'ud incorporated the tribal confederations in a semi-permanent force, which was not meant to disperse after raids against settlements or confederations.' (page 60)
'While the mutawwa'a exerted mental coercion among those whom they were meant to educate in Islamic rituals, the ikhwan practised physical coercion among people in Arabia... The ikhwan carried out public prosecutions and looted and plundered the towns and their inhabitants.
They became known in Arabia as jund al-tawhid, the soldiers who enforced the doctrine of the oneness of God.' (page 61) 'Their uncompromising attitude and ability to inflict severe punishment created an atmosphere of fear and apprehension among people. Their reputation travelled fast in Arabia even before they arrived at the gates of oases and towns.' (page 62)
THE IKHWAN REVOLT
The loyalty of the ikhwan depended on the continuation of military campaigns. When Ibn Sa'ud ran into the boundaries of the British empire in the 1920s, he quickly recognised power realities and ruled British-controlled terroritories off-limits to the ikhwan. This was a major factor in precipitating the ikhwan revolt in 1927, which was forcefully put down with the assistance of the British (a fore-runner to today's joint "counter-terrorist" operations of the US-UK and the House of Sa'ud).
Madawi al-Rasheed comments that, 'the ikhwan rebellion demonstrated that the emerging state was from the very beginning a non-tribal entity whose expansion and consolidation could only progress at the expense of the tribal element.' (page 70) The new state was 'definitely a non-tribal entity that gradually undermined and broke the cohesion of the various tribal groups.' (page 71)
The al-Sa'ud family had no tribal strength. It could only conquer and rule through invoking a loyalty across tribal lines. By using a particularly harsh and authoritarian form of Islam: Wahhabism. That remains the case today. This strength is also its weakness.
The ikhwan challenge in 1927 was seen off by a combination of clerical loyalty and imperialist intervention. Without the loyalty of the clerics, the neo-ikhwans (such as those who besieged the Mecca mosque in 1979) cannot be resisted.
Without Wahhabism, there is no logic to Sa'udi rule. It is difficult to attack the Wahhabi zealots (such as Osama bin Laden) or to alter the fundamentalist structure of the state without immediately endangering the non-tribal foundations of the state. If Wahhabism is not holding the structure together, Sa'udi society will return to its traditional tribal patterns of authority, in which the House of Sa'ud has no pre-eminent place.
Robert Fisk: 'Saudi Arabia is not - and cannot be - a "modern" society in our sense of the word as long as Wahhabism holds its power. But it must be allowed to do so - to protect the king. And since it increasingly becomes a poor country, the Wahhabi authorities and the religious police grow stronger.'
SAUDI ARABIA DOWN THE MEMORY HOLE: BACKING SADDAM
What else is missing from the enormous coverage of Saudi Arabia? One element that is hardly mentioned is the long strategic compact between the House of Sa'ud and Saddam Hussein (united by their fear of their Shia populations, and of Shia Iran).
The Telegraph obituary is honest enough to record that, 'During the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88, terrified of the threat from Islamic fundamentalists in Iran, Fahd provided generous financial backing to Saddam Hussein, and in 1989 signed a pact of non-aggression with him.'
Not honest enough to note, however, that Fahd himself was running an Islamic fundamentalist regime, and that it was therefore impossible for his backing of Saddam's semi-genocidal regime to be based on a 'fear of fundamentalism'.
David Hirst in the Guardian's obituary makes the same 'error', with a re-writing of history as to Saudi motives: 'Fahd lavished petro-dollars on keeping, first, communism, then Islamic fundamentalism at bay. He cultivated his "brother Saddam Hussein" with the object of curbing the Iraqi dictator's designs on neighbouring Kuwait, and subversive activities in general. He called Saddam "the sword of Islam" when he went to war against Khomeini's Iran, and backed that accolade with huge subventions.'
SAUDI ARABIA DOWN THE MEMORY HOLE: SAUDI NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION - LONG AGO
One aspect of the Fahd-Saddam alliance that has not been mentioned at all is the evidence that emerged in 1994 of Sa'udi funding of Iraq's nuclear weapons programme. A former Saudi diplomat, Mohammed Khilewi, who sought asylum in the United States, alleged that Saudi Arabia provided $5 billion in funding for Iraq's nuclear programme during the 1980s in exchange for a nuclear weapon (and that Saudi Arabia had two undeclared nuclear research reactors).
The Monterey Institute of International Studies Center for Nonproliferation Studies plays down the claims: 'After obtaining asylum in the US, with the consent of Saudi Arabia, Khilewi's allegations never came to fruition. The allegation have not to date been confirmed by any other source, and US officials said they had no evidence of Saudi assistance to Iraqi nuclear development.'
On the other hand (setting aside the official US denials as of no significance), confirmation from another source is claimed by the respected GlobalSecurity.org:
'Khilewi produced documents for the London Sunday Times that supported his charge that the Saudi government had paid up to five billion dollars from the Saudi treasury for Saddam Hussein to build a nuclear weapon. Between 1985 and 1990, up to the time Saddam invaded Kuwait, the payments were made on condition that some of the bombs, should the project succeed, be transferred to the Saudi arsenal.'
The Khilewi cache 'included transcripts of a secret desert meeting between Saudi and Iraqi military teams a year before the invasion of Kuwait. The transcrips depicts the Saudis funding the nuclear program and handing over specialised equipment that Iraq could not have obtained elsewhere.'
'What Khilewi did not know was that the Fahd-Saddam nuclear project was also a closely held secret in Washington. According to a former high-ranking American diplomat, the CIA was fully apprised. The funding stopped only at the outbreak of the Gulf War in 1991.'
'The defector's documents also showed that Riyadh had paid for Pakistan's bomb project and signed a pact that if Saudi Arabia were attacked with nuclear weapons, Pakistan would respond against the aggressor with its own nuclear arsenal.'
The source for the highlighted paragraph is the New Yorker. Andrew and Leslie Cockburn found two sources:
'... the Fahd-Saddam nuclear project was also a closely held secret in Washington. According to a former high-ranking American diplomat, the C.I.A. was fully apprised. "I knew about it," the diplomat says matter-of-factly, "and so did they." A senior White House official, asked about the Saudi government's involvement and American complicity, told us, "They did spend billions on the Iraqis. It was a different world. We were ready to overlook a lot of things the Saudis were doing for the Iraqis.
It's consistent with all the other terrible things we did at the time "to shore up Saddam."
The original Khilewi story appeared in Marie Colvin, 'How an Insider Lifted the Veil on Saudi Plot for an "Islamic Bomb",' Sunday Times, 24 July 1994. It was also reported in Steve Coll and John Mintz, 'Saudi Aid to Iraqi A-Bomb Effort Alleged,' Washington Post, 25 July 1994.
SAUDI ARABIA DOWN THE MEMORY HOLE: SAUDI NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION - CONTEMPLATED NOW
The Guardian reported in September 2003 that Saudi Arabia, in response to the current upheaval in the Middle East, had embarked on a 'strategic review' that included the option of acquiring nuclear weapons:
A strategy paper being considered at the highest levels in Riyadh sets out three options:
- To acquire a nuclear capability as a deterrent;
- To maintain or enter into an alliance with an existing nuclear power that would offer protection;
- To try to reach a regional agreement on having a nuclear-free Middle East.
Until now, the assumption in Washington was that Saudi Arabia was content to remain under the US nuclear umbrella. But the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the US has steadily worsened since the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington: 15 of the 19 attackers were Saudi.
It is not known whether Saudi Arabia has taken a decision on any of the three options. But the fact that it is prepared to contemplate the nuclear option is a worrying development.
United Nations officials and nuclear arms analysts said the Saudi review reflected profound insecurities generated by the volatility in the Middle East, Riyadh's estrangement with Washington and the weakening of its reliance on the US nuclear umbrella.
They pointed to the Saudi worries about an Iranian programme and to the absence of any international pressure on Israel, which has an estimated 200 nuclear devices.
Saudi Arabia does not regard Iran, a past adversary with which Riyadh has restored relations, as a direct threat. But it is unnerved by the possibility of Iran and Israel having nuclear weapons.
Riyadh is also worried about a string of apparent leaks in American papers
from the US administration critical of Saudi Arabia.
David Albright, director of the Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington thinktank, said he doubted whether the Saudis would try to build a nuclear bomb, preferring instead to try to buy a nuclear warhead. They would be the first of the world's eight or nine nuclear powers to have bought rather than built the bomb.
"There has always been worries that the Saudis would go down this path if provoked," said Mr Albright. "There is growing US hostility which could lead to the removal of the US umbrella and will the Saudis be intimidated by Iran? They've got to be nervous."
UN officials said there have been rumours going back 20 years that the Saudis wanted to pay Pakistan to do the research and development on nuclear weapons.
In 1988, Saudi bought from China intermediate-range missiles capable of reaching any part of the Middle East with a nuclear warhead.
The China link is particularly interesting today, as Patrick Bishop reports in the Telegraph:
'Western governments should not get too relaxed about the smooth transition.'
'The signs are that the conviction is growing [in Saudi Arabia] that close ties with the West may be more trouble than they are worth.'
'The kingdom has watched over a US military intervention that has spawned an army of international jihadists, followers of the anti-Saud bin Laden.'
'The situation when finally resolved will probably result in an Iraq dominated by Shias, creating a solid Shia front with Iran and shifting the religious balance of power in the Persian Gulf. All this fills Saudis with alarm.'
'It has started hedging its diplomatic bets, looking east to China as a market for Saudi oil, and as a source of finished goods, military hardware and ultimately, it has been speculated, nuclear technology. American troops, by mutual agreement, are no longer in the kingdom (or at least not
overtly) and have set up in Qatar instead.'
There is a logic to the alliance, as both Saudi Arabia and China are highly authoritarian capitalist economies whose ageing leaders cynically exploit anti-capitalist ideologies to maintain their power. They are both somewhat hostile to Russia (Saudi Arabia because of Russia's capacity to challenge Riyadh for dominance of the world energy market, China for geopolitical reasons).
As world oil begins to shrink, Saudi Arabia's enormous reserves will become more and more of a prize, just as China's economic (and political) strength is set to become more and more of a global force.
JUNE 20, 2010
Britain's decision to bar an influential Muslim cleric from entering the country underscores the failure of Indian secularism.
By SADANAND DHUME
If you're looking for a snapshot of India's hapless response to radical Islam, then look no further than Bombay-based cleric Dr. Zakir Naik. In India, the 44-year-old Dr. Naik—a medical doctor by training and a televangelist by vocation—is a widely respected figure, feted by newspapers and gushed over by television anchors. The British, however, want no part of him. On Friday, the newly elected Conservative-led government announced that it would not allow Dr. Naik to enter Britain to deliver a series of lectures. According to Home Secretary Theresa May, the televangelist has made "numerous comments" that are evidence of his "unacceptable behavior."
The good doctor's views run the gamut from nutty to vile, so it's hard to pinpoint which of them has landed him in trouble. For instance, though Dr. Naik has condemned terrorism, at times he also appears to condone it. "If he [Osama bin Laden] is fighting the enemies of Islam, I am for him," he said in a widely watched 2007 YouTube diatribe. "If he is terrorizing the terrorists, if he is terrorizing America the terrorist, the biggest terrorist, I am with him. Every Muslim should be a terrorist."
Dr. Naik recommends the death penalty for homosexuals and for apostasy from the faith, which he likens to wartime treason. He calls for India to be ruled by the medieval tenets of Shariah law. He supports a ban on the construction of non-Muslim places of worship in Muslim lands and the Taliban's bombing of the Bamiyan Buddhas. He says revealing clothes make Western women "more susceptible to rape." Not surprisingly, Dr. Naik believes that Jews "control America" and are the "strongest in enmity to Muslims."
Of course, every faith has its share of cranks; and, arguably, India has more than its share. But it's impossible to relegate Dr. Naik to Indian Islam's fringe. Earlier this year, the Indian Express listed him as the country's 89th most powerful person, ahead of Nobel Laureate economist Amartya Sen, eminent lawyer and former attorney general Soli Sorabjee, and former Indian Premier League cricket commissioner Lalit Modi. Dr. Naik's satellite TV channel, Peace TV, claims a global viewership of up to 50 million people in 125 countries. On YouTube, a search for Dr. Naik turns up more than 36,000 hits.
Nobody accuses Dr. Naik of direct involvement in terrorism, but those reportedly drawn to his message include Najibullah Zazi, the Afghan-American arrested last year for planning suicide attacks on the New York subway; Rahil Sheikh, accused of involvement in a series of train bombings in Bombay in 2006; and Kafeel Ahmed, the Bangalore man fatally injured in a failed suicide attack on Glasgow airport in 2007.
Nonetheless, when the doctor appears on a mainstream Indian news channel, his interviewers tend to be deferential. Senior journalist and presenter Shekhar Gupta breathlessly introduced his guest last year as a "rock star of televangelism" who teaches "modern Islam" and "his own interpretation of all the faiths around the world." A handful of journalists—among them Praveen Swami of the Hindu, and the grand old man of Indian letters, Khushwant Singh—have questioned Dr. Naik's views, but most take his carefully crafted image of moderation at face value.
At first glance, it's easy to understand why. Unlike the foaming mullah of caricature, Dr. Naik eschews traditional clothing for a suit and tie. His background as a doctor and his often gentle demeanor set him apart, as does his preaching in English. Unlike traditional clerics, Dr. Naik quotes freely from non-Muslim scripture, including the Bible and the Vedas. (You have to pay attention to realize that invariably this is either to disparage other faiths, or to interpret them in line with his version of Islam.) The depth of Dr. Naik's learning is easily apparent.
But this doesn't fully explain Dr. Naik's escape from criticism. It helps that Indians appear to have trouble distinguishing between free speech and hate speech. In a Western democracy, demanding the murder of homosexuals and the second-class treatment of non-Muslims would likely attract public censure or a law suit. In India, it goes unchallenged as long as it has a religious imprimatur. However, create a book or a painting that ruffles religious sentiment, as the writer Taslima Nasreen and the painter M. F. Husain both discovered, and either the government or a mob of pious vigilantes will strive to muzzle you.
In general, India accords extra deference to allegedly holy men of all stripes unlike, say, France, which strives to keep religion out of the public square. Taxpayers subsidize the Haj pilgrimage for pious Muslims and a similar, albeit much less expensive, journey for Hindus to a sacred lake in Tibet. This reflexive deference effectively grants the likes of Dr. Naik—along with all manner of Hindu and Christian charlatans—protection against the kind of robust scrutiny he would face in most other democracies.
Finally, unlike Hindu bigots, such as the World Hindu Council's Praveen Togadia, whose fiercest critics tend to be fellow Hindus, radical Muslims go largely unchallenged. The vast majority of Indian Muslims remain moderate, but their leaders are often fundamentalists and the community has done a poor job of policing its own ranks. Moreover, most of India's purportedly secular intelligentsia remains loath to criticize Islam, even in its most radical form, lest this be interpreted as sympathy for Hindu nationalism.
Unless this changes, unless Indians find the ability to criticize a radical Islamic preacher such as Dr. Naik as robustly as they would his Hindu equivalent, the idea of Indian secularism will remain deeply flawed.
Mr. Dhume, a columnist for WSJ.com, is writing a book on the new Indian middle class.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Pakistani Lashkar militants kill policeman's 60 year old mother mother in revenge act in Kashmir
In an act of revenge, mother of an encounter cop who led a successful operation against Lashkar-e-Taiba militants two days go in Kishtwar district of Jammu was shot dead by the ultras late on Sunday evening.
Police said the militants barged into the house of head constable Mohammad Qasim Khan in Keshwan area of Kishtwar and fired indiscriminately at his family, killing his 60-year-old mother on the spot.
Superintendent of police Haseeb Mughal said Khan was not at home when the attack occurred. “He was at his post,” he said.
Khan was part of an operation in Nandigad two days ago in which a suspected Lashkar militant was killed. “Yes, he was part of the operation against militants day before yesterday,” Mughal confirmed.
Police sources said the attack on Khan’s residence was to avenge an offensive launched against Lashkar militants in the area.
Meanwhile, four persons suffered injuries when unknown militants hurled a grenade at a Santro car in main town Bijbehara on Sunday afternoon.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Muslim scholars berate Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s attempts to add fuel to the Kashmir fire on Independence Day
By Mohammed Wajihuddin
Last week, Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani called to stone-pelting comrades in Kashmir to celebrate August 14 (Pakistan’s Independence Day) and observe August 15 as Black Day. But the septuagenarian separatist leader’s provocative utterances have few takers among Muslim scholars who have studied Islam’s journey from its birth in the deserts of Arabia to its contemporary status as a religion of 1 billion-plus adherents. The likes of Geelani, these scholars say, are not just the enemies of Kashmir, but bad followers of the faith too.
To the stone-pelting boys in the streets of Srinagar and Sopore, the hawks have sold a rosy dream: Pakacceded Kashmir will be a haven of peace where they can freely practise Islam and preserve their culture. But the scholars rebut this, calling it nothing but a chimera which will lead to the already bleeding Valley’s destruction.
Noted Islamic scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan who has written prolifically on the Kashmir issue for over four decades records an interesting and instructive incident in his seminal work Amane-Alam (Peace for The World), first published in 2004. Khan writes that in the early 1990s two educated Kashmiri youth who were not militants, but condoned acts of militancy against India, met him at his New Delhi home. Khan tried to convince them that their struggle was neither Islamic nor would it bring any freedom. The boys, recalls Khan, insisted they were on the verge of achieving a spectacular success soon. A shocked Khan offered the boys his diary to write it. The boys wrote: “The Kashmir which will be created after separation from India will be an Islamic Kashmir, Insha Allah.’’ Khan told them it was an illusion and while they were still there, he penned in the same diary his own thoughts: “If a separate Kashmir is ever created, it will neither be an independent Kashmir nor a Pakistani Kashmir. It will be a barbad (destroyed) Kashmir. The Kashmiris have only two choices, an Indian Kashmir or a destroyed Kashmir.’’
Sultan Shahin, editor of NewAgeIslam.com, a popular portal which strives to reclaim Islam from the clutches of jihadists, provides a perspective on why an independent or Pakistani Kashmir can never be established and why it won’t survive if it does. Shahin, a virtual warrior against petrodollar Islam, says he recently had a heated argument with a Pakistani friend at an international conference. “When a muezzin calls for prayers, my mother tells me to go to a mosque. But I am sure your mother pleads with you not to visit the mosque because she is not sure if you will return alive from there,’’ Shahin told his Pakistani friend. “This is the reality,’’ he elaborates. “Kashmir too will be sucked into the cycle of sectarian and linguistic violence that is bleeding Pakistan almost every day. India can and should give greater autonomy to Kashmir, but for well-known reasons, it cannot afford to lose the state.’’
The demand for a separate or Pakistani Kashmir is based on a skewed, selective reading of Islam. It was Geelani’s ideologue, Jamaate-Islami’s founder Maulana Abul Ala Maududi and Egyptian scholars Syed Qutub and Hasan Al Banna before him who propagated the theory that Islam wanted Muslims to strive and establish an Islamic state. Fed on a heavy dose of such exclusivism, Geelani and his ilk find life in a non-Islamic state oppressive.In an interview, the separatist leader had once declared: “For a Muslim to live in a non-Muslim-dominated society is as difficult as it is for a fish out of water.’’
Scholar Asghar Ali Engineer calls such Islamic supremacist ideology a complete antithesis of Islam. “The Quran never asked Muslims to live only in an Islamic state. It simply asks followers to establish a peaceful, compassionate society,’’ says Engineer. He maintains that Kashmiris’ disenchantment with India should be justly addressed but adds that most Kashmiris don’t love Pakistan either.
The argument that the Muslim-majority Kashmir must either go to Islamic Pakistan or become a separate, sovereign Islamic state defies the Valley’s own history. While many Muslims in North India might have backed Jinnah’s two-nation theory, the Kashmiris by and large had rejected it. “Sheikh Abdullah’s Muslim Conference was rechristened National Conference to eschew exclusivism and broaden its acceptability. The Kashmiriat (Kashmir’s distinctive culture) that the separatists want to preserve can be preserved only in a secular, democratic, multicultural India,’’ explains Akhtrul Wasey, who teaches Islamic Studies at Jamia Millia Islamia. “Geelani should re-read Islam.’’
And when he does it, perhaps the hawk will realise that patriotism is part of the Muslim faith, not something to be tossed out of the window in the hope of a chimeric Islamic state.
An Open Letter to Syed Ali Shah Geelani
From Kamal Hak
Mr. Syed Ali Shah Geelani,
Now that Yasin Mallik has openly accused you of exploiting Islam, I feel vindicated. I along with lakhs of my fellow Kashmiri Pandits have always held that view. All the displaced Kashmiri Pandits hold the exploiters of Islam responsible for the loss of their moorings. I believe no religion including Islam will permit the barbaric persecution of a minority. I also believe in the inherent philosophy of love and brotherhood that was propagated by all messengers of God, whom Hindus call Avtars and Muslims call Prophet. I am not a great student of religion and, therefore, I cannot have an in-depth knowledge of the philosophies behind the great faiths, but I am sure no religion teaches hatred for fellow human beings. It is the hypocrites like you who have not only brought misery to their fellow beings but have also tarnished the name of their religion.
I don’t know you personally and except on one occasion, we have never crossed paths with each other. Whatever impression I have about you has been gathered through your writings, speeches and media interviews. And, of course, my very brief silent confrontation with you nearly a quarter century back has been responsible for my firming an opinion and image about you being a fundamentalist involved in exploiting the delicate religious feelings of the people for the furtherance of your political ideology. Though, you will not be able to recall that incident but I still nurture the vivid memories of that afternoon as it gave me the first hand impressions of dichotomy between your preaching and practice. One day, it would have been either 1980 or 1981, when as a fresh man out of the college and on the threshold of starting my career as a Medical Representative, I found myself stranded in the village of Doabgah on the Baramulla- Sopore road. My companion, that day, was another young man from Sopore who was also in the process of establishing his pharmaceutical business. While in the village, we found you addressing a small congregation in a nearby open space. It was a fiery speech full of political rhetoric and religious fire. As a young Pandit boy, I found your speech mortally scaring and intimidating. I desperately wanted to leave the village, though my companion, a great fan of yours, kept constantly reassuring me about your virtues of not differentiating between the people of different faiths. Nevertheless, a lone non-muslim amongst the sentimentally charged populace was proving to be beyond my comfort levels. Unfortunately, due to some blockade enroute, no buses were coming from the Baramulla side, which could have taken me away to Sopore on way to the security of my home in Srinagar. Meanwhile, we kept waiting for the busses that never came. Some time latter you finished your address and we were given to understand that you would be going back to Sopore in your vehicle. My friend, out of concern for my eagerness to reach home, volunteered to request you for giving me a lift up to Sopore. I was hesitant but on his assurance I allowed him to approach you with the request. Soon I saw him returning with his head down, cheeks red and the expression that told the whole story. As usual, the Almighty was both merciful as well as beneficent that day. Some time later a taxi screeched to stop besides me. It was my neighbour driving home after dropping somebody in another village. Many years latter I learnt at the very beginning of the Holy Quran, the first invocation reads, “In the name of GOD, the most Merciful and Beneficent.” And throughout the holy Quran, GOD’s name is thus invoked no less than 113 times. I also believe the Prophet is quoted as saying “O Ali, the best of qualities in this life and there after are the words of courtesy, generosity, and to forgive those who inflict injustice on you.” I know for sure, that taxi driver is an illiterate person and would not able to interpret the subtle niceties of religious scriptures, but that day he proved to be a true follower and practitioner of his faith. I wish I could speak the same about you the one who claims to lead his life according to divine commands and prophetic sayings.
At times, I also feel you are a confused person who isn’t clear about his objectives. On one hand you claim Iqaamat-e-Deen as your objective as Maulvi Abbas Ansari and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, according to you, are now drawing inspiration from “un-islamic ideologies like secularism, socialism, nationalism and even communism.” Yet, on the other hand you want Kashmir to become a part of Pakistan even though you also believe Pakistan rulers have not been able to live up to the moral standards which Islam demands.
You have been highly critical of some leaders whom you believe have not been acting in the true spirit of Islam and claim you invite people towards Islam and present its philosophy as a complete way of life. I have no objections towards anybody living by the tenants of his faith. But, one can’t only practice what is politically convenient for him. How can you explain the exodus of an entire populace of Kashmiri Pandits from Kashmir? You are against secularism and pluralism, which in itself points towards your practice of exploiting the religion to suit your own agenda. I gather, when Prophet Mohammad took over the administration of Yathrib (Madina), its population consisted mostly of two large Arab (Aws) and three Jewish ( Khazraj) tribes. The Madinan Arabs wanted the Prophet to administer the strife torn city as an outsider with no vested interests in the local disputes. They also wanted this potential messiah to be part of their group and not the rival Jewish tribe. Upon arrival in Madina, the Prophet set about getting all parties together to sign a covenant, which would set standards for pluralism, tolerance and cooperation between various religious and ethnic communities. The covenant gave equality to all its citizens and accepted the coexistence of different religions in the community. The messiah’s inspiration was the Holy Quran, which makes it incumbent upon Muslims to accept and respect all the previous messengers without distinction.
“The Apostle believeth in what had been revealed to him from his Lord, as do men of faith. Each one of them believeth in God. His angels, His books and his Apostles. We make no distinction between any of his Apostles.” (Quran 2:285)
The Holy Quran states on more than one occasion that if people, Jews, Christians and Sabeans lived by their tenets they would have their just reward. “ Verily they who believe and they whom are Jews, Christains, Sabeans whoever believes in God and the Last Day, and does that which is right shall have their reward with their Lord. Fear shall not come upon then neither shall they grieve.” (Quran 2: 62)
Your assertion of only Nizam-e-Mustafa being the ultimate goal for your Tehreek-e- Hurriyat goes against not only the traditions laid down by Bul Bul Shah, Shahmir, Badshah, Nund Reshi etc, whom your co-religionists in Kashmir hold in very high esteem, but it is also against the teachings of the Quran. Nizam-e-Mustafa in a hundred percent Muslim society is understandable but in a society as diverse as Kashmir, it would amount to coercion. My small study has been able to find at least three references in the Holy Quran, which say, “There is no compulsion in matters of faith.” (Quran 2.256, 10.99 and 18.99)
Many Muslim scholars and writers have described the propagation of Nizam-e- Mustafa as an exploitative tool employed by certain people to serve their purpose. These writers even claim, slogans like Nizam-e-Mustafa have been deliberately kept vague by its propagators to create confusion among the masses. These writers further claim since the concepts of “Aqamat-e-Deen”, (Establishment of Deen), “Hakoomat-e-Illahia”,(Government of Allah) or “Islamic Nizam” failed to cut much ice with the society earlier, a new term “Nizam-e-Mustafa” was invented. Further, concept attached to it varies form sect to sect. Different Islamic sects have even disagreement on the personality of Mustafa, let alone “Nizam-e- Mustafa”. It is pertinent to point out here that in 1951 twenty one Muslim religious scholars from different sects passed a unanimous resolution demanding all Government Laws in Pakistan be based on “The Book(Holy Quran) and Sunna”. Twenty years later, Maulana Madoodi, one of the main supporters of the resolution had to declare, “ It is impossible to make a set of public laws as per The Book and the Sunna which all Muslim sects will unanimously accept as Islamic”. In an article published by Idara Tolu-e-Islam, Lahore in 1977, the writer has made a significant observation, which says, “ The flag bearers of Nizam-e-Mustafa belonging to various Islamic sects have their own Fiqah (Jurisprudence). It is evident as all these sects considere their own Fiqah as unchallengeable Islamic law, no set of laws could be made which will be acceptable to all, their differences are so deep that each one of them have declared the other as Kafir , at one time or other.
You have also strange logic for justifying the militant activities of fidayeen by terms their violence as sacrifice. Nothing can amount to more blatant exploitation of religion then that. “….. and GOD calls to the home of peace.” (10:25). Kashmir press is now openly accusing you of playing your politics as a Pakistani stooge and interpreting the religion to suit your convenience.
You may have your reasons for playing the politics the way you do. The justification of that politics is a subject matter of a different debate, however, one needs to understand enough blood has been spilled over the beautiful vale of Kashmir. The madness needs to stop now. Otherwise, the history will not pardon the people who have prostituted Kashmir according to their own peculiar religious and political beliefs.
'Sexual predators': Gang of Pakistani men weep as they are jailed for total of 32 years for abusing white English girls as young as 12
6th November 2010
A gang of Asian ‘sexual predators’ were jailed yesterday for abusing white girls as young as 12.
The five men preyed on their victims over several months and threatened them with violence if they refused their advances.
One of the men branded his victim a ‘white bitch’ when she resisted, while a second smirked: ‘I’ve used you and abused you.'
Mohsin Khan, 21, left (jailed for four years)
Razwan Razaq, 30 (jailed for 11 years)
Mohsin Khan, 21, left (jailed for four years) and Razwan Razaq, 30 (jailed for 11 years) were convicted of a string of sexually related offences against girls as young as 12
Umar Razaq, 24, left (jailed for four and a half years)
Zafran Ramzan, 21 (jailed for nine years)
Umar Razaq, 24, left (jailed for four and a half years) and Zafran Ramzan, 21 (jailed for nine years), prowled the streets looking for girls, attacking them in parks and in the back of their cars
Adil Hussain, 20, was jailed for four and a half years
Adil Hussain, 20, was jailed for four and a half years
The men, all British-born Pakistanis, attacked the four girls in play areas, parks and in the back of their cars, Sheffield Crown Court heard.
They gave them gifts and introduced them to their friends. The girls were abused so frequently that after many months it ‘became a way of life’.
The girls, who were being monitored by social services, were eventually rescued by police and removed from their homes amid growing concerns for their safety.
Two of the men wept in the dock yesterday as they were jailed.
Judge Peter Kelson QC told them: ‘I’ve listened to the backdrop of some of you sobbing – I have to say your weeping cuts no ice with me at all.
‘You had what you regarded as your fun, now you will take your punishment.’
The five, Umar Razaq, 24, Razwan Razaq, 30, Zafran Ramzan, 21, Adil Hussain, 20, and Mohsin Khan, 21, were found guilty of a string of sexually related offences against the girls, one aged 12, two aged 13 and one aged 16.
Ramzan was found guilty of raping the 16-year-old girl in her own home, and the other four were found guilty of sexual activity with a child.
Umar Razaq was jailed for four and a half years, while the judge gave Razwan Razaq 11 years.
Ramzan was jailed for nine years, and Hussain and Khan both received four years. All five were placed on the sex offenders register. Three further men were cleared.
The attacks took place in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, during 2008, the court was told. Khan, a mortgage adviser who owned a BMW, described his victim as a ‘little stick’ who looked as if she had not reached puberty.
Despite this he told her he loved her and would spoil her like a ‘princess’.
During the seven-week trial the jury were told how the men drove around the streets looking for girls. The teenagers believed they were in relationships with the much older men.
On one occasion Umar Razaq tried to pull the clothes off one of the 13-year-olds.
When she resisted he pulled her hair and called her a ‘white bitch’.
On another occasion Umar introduced the girl to his brother Razwan who had sex with her in his car.
Afterwards he told her: ‘I’ve used you and abused you.’ When Ramzan was asked by police what age he was attracted to he later replied: ‘As long as they are not too young and they’re legal, that’s it.’
The authorities were alerted after some changes were noted in the behaviour of the victims and they were removed from their homes.
Joyce Thacker, director of Rotherham’s children and young people’s services, said the girls were under child protection plans following family breakdowns or other issues with their behaviour.
‘When we pieced together a map of what was happening we stepped in very quickly to move these girls to a place of safety outside Rotherham,’ she said.
‘It started off as a grooming exercise by the men who became friendly with the girls, gave them gifts and introduced them to their friends.
‘When they got used to being abused it just became a normal way of life for the girls. It is akin to self-harm.
‘It was very dangerous. The girls could have faced death if the men weren’t getting what they wanted.’
She said the girls’ parents bore some of the responsibility but they were in a difficult position and at a loss to do something about their children’s ‘alternative’ lifestyle.
Detective Sergeant Dave Walker, who led the inquiry, said: ‘One was only 12 when she met one of the men and started smoking cannabis and drinking and coming in late at night.
‘As it escalated the defendants were becoming more aggressive to the girls.
‘We basically have a group of young men who think it is all right to abuse young girls and they just groomed them and isolated them from their families.’
All four girls are now back in mainstream education. The three youngest are taking GCSEs and the eldest is at college.
Mr Walker added: ‘We don’t know what the future holds for them but it will be a lot better than it was.’
Friday, November 5, 2010
Thursday, November 4, 2010
November 04, 2010
Perhaps it is not Pakistan, the Muslims there think they should have had the whole of India!
Having already trained or supported these Taliban types ~ you would think they would have learned their lesson ~ once trained, the problem is controlling them.
In Islam, it would no doubt be acceptable to use jihad for political purposes.
Islamabad, 4 Nov.(AKI) - Hundreds of university students are being trained in militant camps in Pakistan-administered Kashmir to wage jihad, or holy war, against India, according a report by the BBC's Urdu-language service.
A 25-year old engineering student from Lahore told the BBC that training is taking place in the Kashmir capitol of Muzaffarabad.
"A large number of young Pakistani and foreign university students are receiving training Pakistan occupied Kashmir, under supervision of a group that conducts jihad against India," the student said, underlining that most of the students in the camps come from Punjab while 20 percent come from Kashmir, with the remaining ten percent foreigners.
The student's statements contradict recent statements by Pakistan's interior minister Rehman Malik who denied reports about the existence of such camps.
Pakistan-administered Kashmir is claimed by India. The countries in 1947 fought a war over the area, which is referred to as Pakistan Occupied Kashmir by India.
Mr Ashis Nandi was invited here to deliver the prestigious Nelson Mandela lecture some weeks ago. I received an invitation and sat in the hall listening to what he presented. The auditorium was fully booked out and jam-packed with many luminaries of the town.
He lectured to the audience that the greatest geonocide in the history of mankind, as I understood his lecture, happened at the time of Indian indepenence during the partition of British India into the present Indian Republic and erstwhile Pakistan when the Hindus went on a killing spree of Muslims. He justified that division of original India by his inuendo that the Hindus hated their Muslim neighbours that led to the partition. That was all his lecture about as I recollect. There was no word on Jinnah's direct action day in Calcutta that triggered bloodbath of Hindu Bengalis in the hands of Muslims.
In normal course of events, there is always a question and answer session at the end of a presentation. But that did not happen in this instance. Mr Nandi simply walked out of the hall with his entourage who organised the event.
Had there been a Q&A time-slot, and were I given the opportunity to raise my voice, I would have asked him there and then, what did he think about the West Pakistani killing of East Pakistanis in 1968-70 - whether or not that was a geonocide of Muslims by Muslims. And, furthermore, what his view is on the plights of Kashmiri Pandits who are refugees in their land of birth being driven out by the Muslims of Kashmir ?
Oh Mr Ashish Nandi, if you are reading my post, could you please spell out your position on these issues here in this forum? I look forward to your views.
Pinaki S Ray
Mr Ashish Nandy,
A very thought provoking article indeed, in a way that it leaves people like me flabbergasted as to how pseudointellectuals like you present contorted logic to justify seditious statements of people like arundathi roy.
Agreed that gross atrocities have been comitted by Indian security forces and India needs to deliver a healing touch to our Kashmiri bretheren,but that can happen only within the realms of the indian union.Kindly spare a thought for the kashmiris for you ll be pushing them into becoming another theocratic Islamic state or merge into a Failed state like Pakistan with hotheads like Geelani at the forefront.Besides since when did the Indian middle class,which you have so vehemently derided in your article"wanted to give a meaning to their hollow life through a violent,nineteenth centuryversion of european style nationalism"?.
You will do well to reflect upon the Multitude of diversity with the undercurrent of commonality which defines the "concept of India", not some besotted version of uniculturalism that europe of yore and today stand to represent.
Its quite sensational how India is safer with Bomb wielding Terrorists for they may kill a few of my fellow Indians rather than Pen wielding terrorists like Roy and her ilk who threaten to kill the very Idea of India. Shame!
Dr Shyam sarvodey
The apologists of islamofascism in this forum are behaving as if the islamist agenda was in the past and has no relevance today. These apologist either do not know the extent of islamofascism in muslim countries or pretend to ignore it.
Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq are all strong examples of countries that are fascists where minorities have not been given equal rights. Catamaran who is talking about Ram, Kalinga etc etc does not comment on the terror that has gripped this world through islamofascism.
The discussion is completely wrong. The danger of islamofascism was not in history that can be studied but something that is present and growing. Islamofascism has to be stopped now and immediately. Islamists have killed, raped and miamed hindus in pakistan and bangladesh and continue to do so in kashmir.
So whatever these liberal nuts are discussing has no value. There is no Kalinga war going on in India. There is no internecine hindu fights in India. There is no desecration of hindu temples by another hindu, but the desecration of temples by muslims continue, the killing of hindus by muslims continue, the persecution of hindus continue and the basic rights of hindus have been taken away by muslims in muslim majority region.
So these nutty liberals have nothing to stand on. They are just pontificating
I think arundhati should leave delhi and start living among kashmiris or tribals in naxal dominated bastar or narmada oustees to bring crediblity to her words. She should immediately avoid upper caste india because middle class india is giving left liberals and jehadis the taste of real india.
>> The democratic process has created a new middle class, a large section of which is not adequately socialised to democratic norms in sectors not vital to the survival of democratic politics but vital to creativity and innovativeness in an open society. The thoughtless, non-self-critical ultra-nationalism, intolerant of anyone opposed to the mainstream public opinion, is shared neither by the poor nor the more settled middle class. Ordinary Indians, accustomed as they are to living with mind-boggling diversity, social and cultural, have no problem with political diversity. Neither does the settled middle class.
It is not about the publicity-stunt Roy or Kashmir. This article is about the arrogance of people such as Mr. Nandy. This man who is criticizing people for criticizing/disagreeing ARoy or calling her name comes up obnoxious and despicable logic that shows the arrogance "I-am-better-than-every one" syndrome that is prevalent in these left-wing loonies.
The man thinks that people don't deserve it to make money or don't deserve to move higher up in the chain or don't deserve to speak up. They are some sort of uncivilized humans or cave men and have no right to speak their minds because they differ with these people who support terrorist of any sort whether it is Islamic or Maoist or anti-national or foreign Paki funded or Chinese funded or any foreign funded. He questions their intelligence, social status, labels them as some lower class because they grew into middle unlike this scoundrel or the loose canon ARoy who are born into it. In essence, the man questions the legitimacy of people working hard, making money and better their lives and hope for some order in the nation. Classic Marxist, Stalinist butcher philosophy from scums. What is the difference between this man and 17th century feudal crook? Nada. Nothing. Zilch.
He calls them unsettled middle class because they are not born into privilege but they love their country and have a right to express as any else. But NO, according this so called settled middle class man who is born into and has some extra-ordinary intelligence and socializing skills. The fact that these coming up Indians don't want naxalites blowing up trains or murder policemen or want Paki-funded/sponsored/trained Islamic terrorists from Pukestan come and kill innocent Indians in the streets/railway stations/hotels supported by these loonies is considered as a big crime by this man. We have all seen Ms.Roy going on like a raging nut on TV/radio/magazine supporting Puke terrorists on 11/26 or IM terrorists in Batla House. The Indians (whatever this man may think their class is) have a right to condemn that kind of heinous lady using freedom provided by the democracy to support every terrorist force (domestic or foreign) to undermine and destroy the same freedom and create a anarchy/terrorist state where mayhem and violence rule the roost.
The most dangerous thing is how these so-called fake artists like this have become mainstream writers calling people names because they don't agree with this guy or Roy and we have all the jokers on this forum beating their drum.
Specifically on the issue of nature of warfare, historians (like David Stannard and Ward Churchill, to name just two) are certain that war among the native North American Indians was altogether different than the incoming Europeans. One contemporary settler even contemptuously remarked about Indian internecine 'wars', that it is considered a big tragedy if 7 men die in 7 years! Such miniscule loss of life probably did not in most cases characterise our ancient Indian battles. But the nature of that warfare was still quite different than the invading Moslems and Europeans. Permanent conquest, permanent settlement, conversion, imposition of religion and language, and sheer, utter ruthlessness and cruelty in wars was rarely, if ever, a feature of Indic warfare. The Greeks, Chinese and Arabs all noted this in their observations of ancient India. Of serious modern historians, A.L Basham( "The wonder that was India") among many others, has come to this conclusion as well, about ancient India.
Sorry and all, but please stop band wagoning. This leftist sob group is getting a little tiresome now.
You have been charged by the police? Aaaah! The injustice!!!
But what is exactly is this 'truth' as far as Kashmir goes? That India is an alien interloper, that has nothing to do with Kashmir, either now or through history; that all the Kashmiris- Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Christians, atheists and agnostics, are passionately against India and for Azadi?; that the movement is progressive, secular, democratic, inclusive and non-violent?; that Kashmir under India is exactly like India under Britain, or Algeria under France, or Angola under Portugal? A super-exploited, impoverished colony governed by a racist ideology akin to the white Euro-supremacy inherent in colonialism? Or perhaps a systematically colonised settler state a la the Han Chinese ruled Tibet, whites in South Africa, illegal settlers on the West Bank/Gaza strip, or the early British settlers in Australia?
If this is indeed the 'truth', count me in as a supporter of Kashmiri aspirations.
Thats sounds familiar - Arnab Goswami?
Arundhati joining hands with Jihadi elements like Geelani is pointer for the coming together of Evangelists and Jihadis to balkanise and finish India as a country.Arundhati,the Catholic will never write on the sufferings of Hindus in Christian majority states of north-east,nor will she write on the dirty means adopted by the missionaries to convert poor and gullible Hindus.
>>This new middle class wants to give meaning to their hollow life through a violent, nineteenth-century version of European-style ‘nationalism’.
Sure boss!! Ashis Nandy is the Tolstoy of literature, the Einstein of science, the Voltaire of liberals, Neruda of poets, Picasso of painters!! He leads a divine meaningful life hiding in some caves when Salman Rudshdie, Naipaul are vilified, when Taslima Nasreen is hounded out of this cointry, when barbaric slaves of Arabian camel chops of somebody's hands....
Nandy with his infinite wisdom knows very well the fact, that writing a single line about the real victims of Kashmir, the Kashmiri Hindu pandits who are driven out of the valley, whose women were raped by the barbaric supporters of Geelani, would cost him dearly. He is well aware of the fact a college lecturer from Kerala had to lose his hands for something slightly and remotely disrespectful to the Al Qaida faith. So, Wisdom Nandy cleverly remain silent when Taslima Nasreen is hounded out of India, when she is attacked in Hyderabad while making a simple speech. So, Ashis Nandy is full of Wisdom, he leads a meaningful life. And the hollow middle class doesn't dance to the tunes of Wisdom Nandy, the hollow middle class do care about what happens to Nasreen, Rushdie and they refuse to forget the mass murders of Kashmiri Pandits and the rape of thousands of their women.
Stupid middle class, bow down to Wisdom Nandy, the prophet of our time and touch his feet.
I am from the same much hated "middle class". Not sure though if I am in "virtue of having money" or "value" category. My great grandfather was considered rich man in that area, but grandfather became poor fighting court case against British. My father and mother somehow pulled us back to the middle class.
I wonder, isn't middle class an economical term? I suppose if anyone is in middle class, he/she must be by "virtue of having money". "Value", etc follows.
I don't care a bit of what Ms Roy says, or if she is in jail or outside. She is provocative and she provokes many people.
I am all in favor of everyone's right to say anything.
But I do care what Mr Nandy says. I am appalled.
How bad is this writing:
"We know ....should be alert to these issues in the intelligentsia, media, artistic community had done their job", read "we (Mr Nandy, etc) failed"
"Here I think the changing nature of the Indian middle class has not been a help", read "you (Santosh, etc) were not helpful".
Still, "We, the intelligentsia" (Mr Nandy, etc) are good and shouldn't be questioned. But "You, the middle class" (Santosh, etc), are the bad boys.
It says, "We are proud of our democracy".
I wonder if Mr Nandy is merciful enough to grand this savage middle class like me to be included in that exclusive club of his "we"?
It refers to psychotherapist Shobhna Sonpar’s work. Rather than questioning platform like Outlook for not promoting that genuine discussion on this, but backing the hocks; it vents all anger on defenseless middle-class and it defends the out-shouters.
This argument is gaining ground in our intelligentsia that if you do not like someone’s book; write another book to answer that. It is like saying; sing like Lata to prove your point against her. Where can I get that skill? I just have a vote, and I will vote to counter that. But ah, then I am a bad-bad middle-class.
What they say democracy survives on middle-class. India is still a democracy anyways. The bad-guy middle class is not that bad after-all.
It is so nationalistic view to see this problem of freedom, etc. in such a way. This global phenomenon should not be analyzed in such a narrow way.
"Sensationalism is the first resort for pseudo-intellectuals" I wish there was some one speaking about hurting sentiments of millions of Indians. If someone was to state a disturbing historic fact about Islamic invasion of India, for example the simple fact that thousands of Hindu women burned themselves before being violated by Muslim conquerers, he would be universally condemned for hurting minority feelings but when the people being hurt are just "Indians" there is no condemnation coming from any quarters. It is a shame that government is ratifying such anti-national statements made from a government sponsored platform.
A failed actress who wrote a piece of "shock value" literature to become famous does not have the credential to be even on any platform discussing something so close to the heart of millions. She is an opportunist who saw an opportunity to get back into limelight and her attitude towards general Indian sentiments closely resembles the attitude of Rhytt Butler at the end of "Gone with the wind".
Anupam K. Sinha
27 Oct 2010
Syed Ali Shah Geelani of the Jamaat-e Islami of Jammu and Kashmir is a veteran Kashmiri politician. Presently, he heads the Tehrik-e Hurriyat-e Jammu Kashmir. He talks about the Kashmir conflict and its possible solution in this exclusive interview with Yoginder Sikand, NewAgeIslam.com:
Q: In your writings, and in those of other similar Islamist ideologues, the Kashmir conflict is often described as a war between Islam and ‘disbelief’. Do you really think it is so? Is it not a political struggle or a nationalist struggle, actually?
A: The Kashmir dispute is a fall-out of the Partition of India. The Muslim-majority parts of British India became Pakistan, and the Hindu-majority regions became the Dominion of India. There were, at that time, some 575 princely states in India under indirect British rule. Lord Mountbatten gave them the choice of joining either India or Pakistan, and instructed that their choice must be guided by the religious composition of their populace as well as by the borders they might share with either India or Pakistan, as the case might be.
On this basis, almost all the princely states opted for either India or Pakistan. There were, however, three exceptions to this. Hyderabad, a Hindu-majority state with a Muslim ruler, opted for independence, but India argued against this on the grounds that the state had a Hindu majority, and so ordered the Police Action to incorporate the state into the Indian Dominion. Junagadh, another Hindu-majority state with a Muslim ruler, opted for Pakistan, but India over-ruled this decision, again on account of the state’s Hindu majority, and annexed it. If India had adopted the same principle in the case of Jammu and Kashmir, a Muslim-majority state with a Hindu ruler, there would have been no conflict over Kashmir. After all, more than 85% of the population of the state at that time were Muslims; the major rivers in the state flowed into Pakistan; the state shared a border of over 750 kilometres with Pakistan; the only motorable
road connecting Kashmir with the outside world throughout the year passed from Srinagar to Rawalpindi; and the majority of the people of the state had cultural and historical ties with the people of Pakistan.
However, over-ruling these factors, which would have made Jammu and Kashmir a natural part of Pakistan, in October 1947 the Indian Army entered the state in the guise of flushing out the Pathan tribesmen, who had crossed into Kashmir in the wake of large-scale killings of Muslims in Rajouri and Poonch. Using this incursion an excuse, Hari Singh, the ruler of Kashmir, engineered the intrusion of Indian forces. The British scholar Alistair Lamb says that the so-called Instrument of Accession that Haris Singh is said to have signed to join India temporarily was itself fraudulent. He claims that Hari Singh did not even sign it.
Thereafter, India itself took the issue of Kashmir to the United Nations. The UN passed some eighteen resolutions related to Kashmir, recognizing the status of the state as disputed and calling for a resolution of the conflict based on the will of the people of the state, which the first Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, himself also publicly promised. Now, all that the people of Jammu and Kashmir are saying is that India should live up to this promise that it made of holding a plebiscite in accordance with the UN resolutions. So, this is the basic issue.
Q: So, aren’t you here saying that the conflict is essentially political, and not specifically religious?
A: For a Muslim, no action is permissible which is against Islam. How can we say that the sacrifices that the Muslims of Kashmir make, the tortures that they suffer, and the martyrdom that they meet have nothing to do with Islam, and that they won’t be rewarded by God for this? In this sense, it is a religious issue also. Islam teaches that Muslims must follow the guidance of Islam in every action of theirs—not just in prayers but also in matters such as war and peace, trade, international relations and so on, because Islam is a complete way of life. If a true Muslim participates in any struggle, it is for the sake of Islam. So, how can you say that the Kashmir conflict has nothing to do with religion?
Q: This might be true in theory, but surely many Kashmiris who are involved in the movement for separation from India might be motivated by other factors, including for economic and political reasons, or also due to a commitment to Kashmiri nationalism, as distinct from Islam?
A: I agree that there may be various reasons why different people may participate in the movement. Yes, there can be many who do not adopt the guidance of Islam in this regard. They might champion secular democracy and irreligiousness. Their sacrifices might be motivated by nationalism or ethnicity, rather than Islam. They might have no problem with the system of governance in India, their opposition to Indian rule being simply because of the brutalities of Indian occupation. Of course, one cannot say that all Kashmiri Muslims think alike. But I am speaking from the point of view of a practicing Muslim, who accepts Islam as a complete way of life. For such self-conscious Kashmiri Muslims, it is undoubtedly a religious issue and their sacrifices are for the sake of the faith.
Q: Maulana Maududi, the founder of the Jamaat-e Islami, who is a major source of inspiration for you, opposed the creation of Pakistan. So, then, why is that that you have consistently been advocating Kashmir’s union with Pakistan?
A: You are wrong here. Maulana Maududi was not opposed to the creation of Pakistan and to the ‘two nation’ theory. What he was opposed to was the practice of the Muslim League leaders, who were leading the movement
for Pakistan. He told them that while they talked of the ‘two-nation’ theory and Islam, they were not serious about establishing an Islamic state in Pakistan. They were not preparing the activists of the League for an Islamic state. Maulana Maududi wanted Pakistan to be an Islamic state, and this was the grounds for his opposition to the Muslim League. But he, like the League, supported the ‘two-nation’ theory. In fact, the League did not have any theoretical justification for its ‘two nation’ theory until this was provided by Maulana Maududi through his copious writings.
Q: But do you really see Indian Hindus and Muslims as two separate ‘nations’? After all, they share so much in common.
A: They are totally separate nations. There is no doubt at all about this. Muslims believe in just one God, but Hindus believe in crores of gods.
Q: But the Prophet Muhammad, in his treaty with the Jews and other non-Muslims of Medina, described the denizens of Medina as members of one nation. The leader of the Jamiat ul-Ulema-i Hind and a leading Deobandi scholar, Maulana Husain Ahmad Madani, even wrote a book to argue against the League’s ‘two nation’ theory, stressing a composite Indian
nationalism that embraced all the people of India. So, how can the Muslims and Hindus of one country be considered separate ‘nations’, even by Islamic standards?
A: Islam lays down that in an Islamic system (nizam) all non-Muslims, including even atheists, will get equality, justice, security of life and property and freedom of faith. Maulana Madani’s arguments were
critiqued by Maulana Maududi.
Q: In your prison memoirs, Rudad-e Qafas, you write that ‘It is as difficult for a Muslim to live in a non-Muslim society as it is for a fish to live in a desert’. But how can this be so? After all, the pioneers of Islam in India and in Kashmir itself, mainly Sufi saints, lived and preached in a society in which Muslims were a very small minority.
A: I meant to say this in a particular sense. Islam, as I said, is a complete way of life. No other path is acceptable to God. So, in the absence of an Islamic polity, it is difficult for Muslims to lead their lives entirely in accordance with the rules of Islam, which apply to social affairs as much as they do to personal affairs. For instance, Muslims in Kashmir under Indian rule live in a system where alcohol, interest and immorality are rife, so how can we lead our lives completely in accordance with Islam? Of course, Muslim minorities are Muslims, too, but their duty must be to work to establish an Islamic dispensation in the lands where they live so that they can lead their lives fully in accordance with Islam and its laws. Missionary work to spread Islam is as much of a duty as is praying and giving alms to the poor.
Now, as for your question about those Sufis who lived and worked in societies where Muslims were in a minority—they may have been pious people, but we take as our only model the Prophet Muhammad.
Q: But, surely, no one is forced to drink alcohol, deal in interest or act immorally in Kashmir?
A: True, but these things automatically spread since they are allowed by the present un-Islamic system. So that is why you see the degeneration of our culture and values happening on such a large scale.
Q: You mentioned about preaching Islam being a principal duty of all Muslims. But, surely, for this you need a climate of peace, not of active hostility, as in Kashmir today?
A: Absolutely. I agree with you entirely. No one can deny this. We need to have good relations with people of other communities. Only then can we communicate the message of Islam to them. But if one side continues to oppress the other and heap injustices and says that this should be considered as ‘peace’, how can it be accepted? If, for instance, Narendra Modi says that what happened with the Muslims in Gujarat represents peace, how can anyone accept it? If India stations lakhs of troops in Kashmir and says this is for establishing peace, how can it be, because these troops themselves are disturbing the peace?
Q: You, following other Islamist ideologues, have consistently been advocating what you call an ‘Islamic state’, seeing this as an indispensable Islamic duty. To your mind, which is the best functioning ‘Islamic state’ in the world today?
A: The world-wide Muslim community ummah is today in such a sorry state that there is no Islamic state anywhere in the real sense. Saudi Arabia is described as an Islamic state, but it is run by a monarchy, and monarchy has no sanction in Islam. If Muslim countries, including those that claim to be ‘Islamic’, were truly Islamic states they would never have been enslaved to America, as is the case today. They all support America’s policies and adopt its dictates. They are completely, on all accounts, dependent on America. They cannot even defend themselves. They have to rely on America and Europe to do this. They keep their money in American banks. We say that they should use their wealth to empower themselves and get out of America’s clutches and convert themselves into genuine Islamic states.
Q: In the wake of the attacks of 11 September, 2001, how do you see the impact of American pressure on Arab states, such as Saudi Arabia, to change their position on Islamist movements?
A: The events of September 2001 have caused most Muslim states to change their policies and to toe America’s line even more closely. You can see this happening in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The only Muslim country that refuses to cave under American pressure is Iran.
Q: And now America is seeking an excuse to attack Iran, is it not?
A: Yes. America is trying to stoke Shia-Sunni rivalries in order to undermine Iran. It is trying all other such weapons, dividing the Muslims on the basis of sect, nationality, race and ethnicity against each other so as to weaken them. And the leaders of most Muslim countries are now playing the role of agents of the USA, be it in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Palestine or as is the case with the Saudi monarchs. See what’s happening in Waziristan, the Frontier Province and Baluchistan, in Pakistan. A climate is being deliberately created in those parts of Pakistan to justify American attacks and bombings in the name of flushing out militants.
Q: If Pakistan is now so pro-American, acting against its own people, and if it is not an authentic ‘Islamic state’, then why have you been advocating Kashmir’s union with it?
A: As I said earlier, the Muslim League claimed that Pakistan was won in the name of Islam, but it did not give its cadre the necessary training to establish an Islamic state there. Because of this, the influence of the Army and the country’s Westernised leadership, Pakistan failed to become an Islamic state. But it was meant to become such a state, which is something that we want. So, if the people of Jammu and Kashmir were given the
right to decide between India and Pakistan, the majority, I think, would prefer the former.
I admit that there are weaknesses in Pakistan, but these can be addressed. India has a secular system, which we can under no condition accept. Because of the oppression that we have been suffering under Indian rule for the last sixty years, how can we opt for India? In just a few weeks, in late 1947, some five lakh Muslims were killed by Dogra forces and Hindu chauvinists in Jammu. In the last seventeen years, over one lakh Kashmiri Muslims, mainly innocent civilians, have been killed. So many localities have been burned down, women raped and men rendered missing. After such brutal experiences, only a blind person would opt in favour of India.
Q: Many Kashmiri Muslims would rather be independent than join India or Pakistan. Do you agree?
A: The UN resolutions provide for only two options: joining India or Pakistan, and if this rule is followed then the majority would, I think, opt for
Pakistan. However, if the three parties to the dispute—Pakistan, India and the people of Jammu and Kashmir—come to a consensus on an independent Jammu and Kashmir, then, as I have repeatedly said, we will
accept that formula also.
Q: In some of your writings you have argued against Kashmir being an independent state, even claiming that this is an Indian ‘ploy’. Can you elaborate?
A: This is true. It is an Indian ploy, because India does not want to see Pakistan strengthened, which it would be if Jammu and Kashmir joins Pakistan. The slogan of Azadi is aimed at weakening Pakistan. Independence would result in a territory that would have been a natural part of Pakistan being taken away from it. But, then, compared to staying with India, independence is a lesser evil.
Q: Many Kashmiris, seeing the current political and economic troubles in Pakistan, might say that they would prefer to be independent.
A: If we get independence, we will accept it.
Q: What if most people of Jammu and Kashmir wish to live in a secular or democratic set-up, and not a Taliban-style ‘Islamic’ state?
A: We don’t want to bring Taliban-type Islam, but the real Islam of the Quran and the Practice (Sunnah) of the Prophet.
Q: But the Taliban argued that their state was in accordance with the Quran and the Sunnah.
A: To claim something is different from acting on that claim. For instance, while Islam makes it a duty for every Muslim male and female to acquire education, as soon as the Taliban came to power they banned girls’ education. What they should have done, instead, was to set up separate schools for girls. So, like this, there are many issues on which we can differ. The Islamic state that we would like to establish in Jammu and Kashmir would be one based on the understanding that all of humanity are children of the same primal parents, Adam and Eve. They will all be treated equally and justly. There shall be no discrimination based on religion. After all, the Prophet once remarked that all creatures are of the family of God and that the best is he who treats members of God’s family—which obviously includes non-Muslims, too—in the best way.
Q: You advocate Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan, but today minority nationalities in Pakistan, such as the Baluchis and the Sindhis, suffering under Punjabi domination, are struggling for independence. Might not
the same thing happen to the Kashmiris if the state were to join Pakistan?
A: We want to join Pakistan, not be absorbed into it. We would have internal autonomy.
Q: But, surely, despite Pakistan’s claims, the part of Jammu and Kashmir under its control—‘Azad Kashmir’—lacks real autonomy?
A: Yes, Azad Kashmir cannot be said to be really autonomous since there, too, everything happens according to the wishes and directions of the Federal Government. But we would make sure that our autonomy
be written into the Constitution.
Q: Do you see any significant changes in Pakistan’s policies vis-à-vis Kashmir in recent years, perhaps under American pressure?
A: Yes, considerable changes can be noticed. Earlier, Pakistan used to insist on the right to self-determination for the people of Jammu and
Kashmir. Musharraf was the first to change this, arguing for a solution outside that of the UN resolutions, an out-of-the-box solution. This constituted the first deviation in Pakistan’s Kashmir policy. Then, Musharraf began talking of seven zones in Jammu and Kashmir, soft borders and his four-point formula, which is nothing but a means to preserve the status quo.
Q: How do you respond to media allegations that the Kashmiri movement for self-determination is ‘anti-Hindu’?
A: How can our struggle be called ‘anti-Hindu’? It is a struggle for certain principles. In Hindu mythology, when the Kauravas and the Pandavas, cousins of each other, were arrayed against each other on the battlefield, Arjun turned to Krishanji Maharaj, and told him that he could not bear to fight his own brothers. Why, he asked him, was he asking him to fight them? He wanted to refuse to fight. But, then, Krishanji Maharaj said, ‘Arjun, this is a battle for certain principles. In this, do not consider the fact that those who are opposed to you are your relatives’.
We Kashmiris, too, are engaging in such a battle for certain principles with the Indian Government, for occupying us against our will and for not acting on its promise to let us decide our own political future. It is not a war
against Hindus or the people of India. It is not a communal conflict. In fact, there are many Indians who support our stand on the right to self-determination.
Q: Then why is it that the Indian media, and large sections of the Western media, too, present the movement as ‘Islamic extremism’ or ‘terrorism’?
A: The Indian media is bound to support India’s military occupation. How can you expect it to support our cause? I’ve seen so many massacres by the Indian Army here, but often the media describes them as ‘encounters’ with ‘militants’. You know how the agents of the Indian Army engineered the massacre of so many innocent Sikhs in Chhatisinghpora and falsely
attributed this to ‘militants’, in order to convey the misleading message to the then American President, Bill Clinton, at that time on a visit to India, that our struggle is a ‘communal’ one, and not a freedom movement. I can cite so many more such cases to prove this point.
Q: But, if that is so, why is it that you and people like you have not condemned killings by militants in the same way as you condemn similar crimes by the Indian Army?
A: Wherever such incidents have happened, we have condemned them, irrespective of the religion of the victims. The Quran clearly states that enmity with a people should not make one stray from the path of justice, because justice is closer to piety.
Q: If Jammu and Kashmir becomes independent, how do you envisage its relations with India and Pakistan?
A: It should have brotherly relations with both countries.
Q: Some radical groups active in Kashmir argue that all Hindus are ‘enemies’ of Islam. What do you feel?
A: No, this is erroneous. There should be no enmity or discrimination with anyone simply because of his religion, caste, race, colour or country. We are
permitted to fight only those individuals who fight us or place hurdles in the path of our faith. With others we should have good relations, and that applies to our relations with ordinary Hindus as well. So, when some
people argue that as a community the Hindus are ‘enemies of Islam’, it is wrong. It is not an Islamic way of thinking.
Q: Certain militant groups active in Kashmir say that they will not stop their war with India until India itself is ‘absorbed’ into Pakistan and the Pakistani
flag flies atop Delhi’s Red Fort. What is your opinion?
A: This is emotional talk and should not be paid attention to. We don’t agree with this argument. Our fight with India is only to the extent that India has taken away our right to self-determination. Once we win that right we will have no problem with India. In fact, if by exercising this right the majority of the people of Jammu and Kashmir say that they want to be
with India, we will also accept that.
Q: But don’t you feel certain radical groups active in Kashmir who preach hatred against Hindus and call for India’s ‘absorption’ into Pakistan are actually defaming the religion whose cause they claim to champion?
A: Islam has been given a bad name more by Muslims themselves and less by Hindus. Islam has been damaged less by open ‘disbelief’ (kufr) than by hidden hypocrisy (munafiqat), by people who claim to be Muslims but are really not so in practice.
Q: So, would you agree that these groups who condemn all Hindus as ‘enemies’ are actually misinterpreting Islam?
A: We cannot take responsibility for what others say. You can ask these people yourself.
Q: What message do you have for the people of India?
A: I will only say that India should honour its promise to the people of Jammu and Kashmir to let them decide their own political future. Honouring one’s promise is a major principle of the Hindu religion.
Raja Dasharath, honouring the promise he made to his wife Kaikeyi, gave his throne to his son Bharat and ordered Ram Chandraji to go into the forest in exile. Simply in order to keep his promise he sent his elder
son to fourteen years in the forest and gave the throne to Bharat instead. Bharat was a man of character, and so he placed Ram Chandraji’s sandals on the throne, believing that his elder brother deserved to rule. So, the Hindu religion teaches that one should live up to one’s promises, and if India were to act on the advice of the Hindu scriptures in this regard on the issue of Kashmir the conflict will easily be solved.
Copyright 2010 @: New Age Islam Foundation
Creating history on many fronts Nimrata Nikki Randhawa Haley, 38, was elected as governor of South Carolina, one of the smaller and most conservative states in the United States. She will be the first female governor in South Carolina.
Riding on a wave against the liberal policies of President Barrack Obama, and inspired and helped by the right wing Tea Party movement, led by leaders like Sarah Palin, former candidate for vice president, Haley, whose parents came from Amritsar in the 60s, trounced her Democratic opponent state Senator Vincent Sheheen.
She secured a total of 525,962 votes while her opponent managed 472,889 votes
It was a night of celebration for the Indian community in the US, which has a history of less than half a century as well as a number of less than one percent of the US population.
Yet, with the election of Haley, two of the members from the community became governors, two years ago Bobby Jindal in Louisiana and now Haley, both Republicans.
Though a smear campaign to tarnish her image on many fronts continued for long, people came forward to vote for Haley, who travelled through the state propagating her ideas.
The fresh look and voice as also the new ideas of somebody who was not a political insider in Columbia, the capital of the state, appealed the people.
She stood for the conservative values of less government, more liberty, family values, education and job creation, to a state where poverty still exists and opportunities are rare.
It was also a night for the South Carolina women, as a woman won as governor for the first time. The state has rarely elected a woman to state-wide offices and never elected a woman as governor.
Dec 1st, 2009 |
By Joshua F. Leach
Had William Hazlitt written his essay “On Persons with One Idea” today, he would surely have found room for the field of postcolonial studies. It is a field with only one idea: namely, that imperialism and racism are such dominant features of modern life, and had such a foundational role in the construction of our present society, that they inform every aspect of our ideas, culture, and history. Postcolonialism is, in theory, anti-hierarchical and anti-oppressive. But because it has only one idea, it can easily become oppressive in practice, and to quite a large extent. To show that this is true within the context of one postcolonial scholar’s book, The Intimate Enemy by Ashis Nandy, is the purpose of this essay.
Ashis Nandy might seem an unlikely candidate for such an accusation. He is a political activist and a major commentator on contemporary affairs, known for his championing of nonviolence and tolerance. One of Foreign Policy’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals, he has written about communal violence, particularly Hindu-Muslim riots and the emotionally charged landscape of nationalism. He is no friend to the Hindu right, which he has accused of being itself a product of British colonialism. All varieties of chauvinism are subjected to fierce criticism at Nandy’s hands, and he is a member of numerous human rights and civil liberties groups.
These views are decent and humane, and Nandy is no friend to injustice. Yet he is very much a member of the postcolonial movement, and it often leads him to support a blinkered traditionalism for no other reason than that it seems to be anti-Western and anti-modern.
His book, The Intimate Enemy, appeared in 1983, at a time when postcolonialism was flourishing and when its arguments must have appeared fresh and controversial, although they have now gone quite stale. In essence, Nandy is making a case against modernity, and against the entire project of secular liberal rationalism, which he sees as more or less inseparable from colonialism, capitalism, and all the aspects of modernization and development he finds objectionable.
Many of Nandy’s concerns about the modern world are quite understandable: it is what he would put in their place that is less clear. Nandy is mostly concerned with bureaucratization and the diminishing of individuality it entails. He is horrified by modern hierarchies of wealth and privilege, by the inequities of modern societies and the gruesome contrast between wealth and poverty which prevails in contemporary India. Most important of all, he recognizes that modern science, modern weaponry, and modern efficiency have made mass murder all the more easy and warfare all the more deadly. All of these criticisms are certainly valid and ought to be taken into consideration. What is less valid is the accusation that liberalism, secularism, or rationalism are responsible for these problems, and the corollary position that the Enlightenment experiment is bankrupt.
Nandy implicates the entire liberal worldview in aiding and abetting imperialism, and therefore sees fit to reject it. Its talk of equality and justice is a despicable lie intended to cover up its secretly hierarchical, patriarchal dimensions. It is an essentially inegalitarian doctrine masquerading as the very opposite, or so Nandy would have us believe. The liberal worldview privileges reason over tradition and superstition. In this sense, therefore, it puts power in the hands of an educated elite or a scientific, Westernized bureaucracy. It also can be used to justify imperialism as a humanitarian attempt to bring justice, knowledge, and scientific modernity to the backward regions of the world. That liberalism does these things is the crux of the postcolonial argument, and Nandy wholeheartedly embraces it.
In responding to this, we will leave aside the bizarre fact that Nandy is himself an active supporter of global liberalism, at least in some limited sense. Liberalism is the founding ideology behind the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), after all, which Nandy must theoretically support. He is, indeed, a member of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, which is the most well-respected civil rights group in India and has been working for decades to protect democracy, secularism, and human rights, all of which Nandy criticizes stridently in his writings! This contradiction is something Nandy will have to work out for himself. What concerns us here are his arguments.
Nandy has erected a certain number of barriers to any successful refutation of his points: mostly in the form of bizarre evasions. One might like to accuse Nandy of being unfair in his attacks on liberals, of spreading misinformation, but this he admits to at the very beginning! His framework, he claims, explain his “partial, almost cavalier, use of biographical data and the deliberate misuse of some concepts borrowed from psychology…. The aim is to make sense of some of the relevant categories of contemporary knowledge in Indian terms.” (xiii, emphasis added).
Nandy’s own training is as a psychologist, yet here he announces his intention to misuse this training so that Indians might understand his points. It seems difficult to me to imagine anyone not finding this rude and objectionable. Surely the individuals whose biographies are about to be misrepresented have a right to feel angry, but so do all the Indians in the world who would insist that they can tolerate truth and fact, and don’t need to have important concepts in psychology misused for the sake of their understanding. What would Amartya Sen or Romila Thapar say to such a claim?
The above quote may be an instance of surprising honesty on Nandy’s part, but it makes it difficult to engage with his later arguments. One cannot be sure which of them are even accurate or properly documented. It also makes the entire task of criticizing Nandy seem absurd. I live on the other side of the world, after all, and come from a different cultural background than that of Nandy. Does this give me the right to misrepresent his life or his views? Should I rewrite the above to suggest that Nandy does not have reasonable criticisms of modernity but is rather a mindless reactionary? This latter would not be true, but it would make more sense to a Western audience, I have no doubt. On what ground would Nandy object to my doing so?
Another evasion on Nandy’s part appears later on in the preface, when he declares that “a purely professional critique of this book will not do. If you do not like it [I am, I’m afraid, very much in that camp] you will have to fight it the way one fights myths: by building or resurrecting more convincing myths. However, even myths have their biases.” (xiv).
Perhaps I am being dense, but I have a great deal of trouble understanding what Nandy could possibly mean when he says that even myths have biases. If I plan to construct a series of falsifications in order to attack Nandy’s book, which he seems to be suggesting I do, how could such an account be anything but biased? Had Nandy said that even facts can be biased, that would be a remarkable assertion, but to say that it is possible for lies to be biased is almost a tautology.
At any rate, I prefer to attempt a non-mythological critique of Nandy that engages seriously with his arguments, even if he does not regard such a critique as possible. This is because Nandy’s criticism of liberalism is now so widespread in academia and has formed the backbone of postcolonial scholarship. Those of us who would like to see a more liberal, tolerant world, in which people are not subjected to irrational cruelties and injustices, therefore need to be able to respond to it.
First of all, it must be said that some liberals, namely James Mill, but also John Stuart Mill and the other utilitarians, were supportive of imperialism, and that liberal theories of progress lent a certain credence to imperial designs. However, Western imperialism preceded liberalism by a long while, and such liberalism actually provided the first voice of opposition to it. In fact, imperialism is incompatible with liberal, universalist principles, if one truly takes them seriously. Montaigne, a proto-liberal if there ever was one, was driven to a profound hatred of cruelty and injustice by the deeds of the Spanish in America. The Conquistadors were not motivated by the principles of liberal humanitarian intervention, meanwhile, but by God and king. If any ideologies justified imperialism, they were belligerent, proselytizing religion and the chauvinism of monarchs. It was both religious intolerance and absolute monarchy, meanwhile, that the Enlightenment went about debunking, and that liberalism has always opposed.
Liberalism presupposes that all human beings are endowed with reason and conscience: this is on the first page of the UDHR, which Nandy supposedly defends. People may come from different backgrounds and may embrace different identities, yet they all may be approached on a basic level as reasonable creatures capable of treating one another decently and humanely. From this extends all of liberalism, right down to democracy. If one takes this seriously, as I said, imperialism is unthinkable. After all, imperialism is inherently undemocratic and authoritarian, and is based upon the assumption of unalterable differences between cultures which can only be overcome through force: Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations is the perfect example of how illiberal anti-universalism plays into the hands of militarists and chauvinists.
Universalism may make power-motivated imperialism illegitimate because it insists on the equal dignity and rights of all people. Yet, what are we to do when other societies commit grave injustices? Montesquieu’s The Persian Letters is a classic of liberalism. It is revolutionary in its criticisms of European societies and traditions, but also in its implicit assertion that both East and West can be criticized from the standpoint of reason and conscience. France may be heavily assaulted in the book, but the narrative’s true personal drama revolves around the Persian Usbek, and his relations with his numerous wives. The brutalities of the Persian system of government and of Islamic gender roles are criticized just as harshly as European societies in the book.
Even this early work of liberalism expresses the essence of the universalist outlook. We have a moral stake in all of the injustices of the world; we are just as implicated in those of other societies as we are in our own, and we must intervene to protect the victims from cruelty and injustice. This intervention must not come from Western ethnocentrism, but from a pan-civilizational awareness of shared humanity.
Certainly authoritarian imperialism and various realpolitick schemes which masquerade as humanitarianism are impositions, and involve regarding members of other societies as less than human. This, in turn, often results in grave human rights abuses (we may regard the massive civilian causalities of the Iraq war as a recent example), which are the very things liberals are attempting to avoid. If one were to truly approach global intervention with humanitarian goals in mind, however, such things could be avoided. The imperialistic tendencies of the Mills and of other 19th century liberals were a distortion of liberal values that could have been avoided: all these writers had to do was look to their liberal anti-imperialist master, Jeremy Bentham!
What is important to realize, however, is that imperialism is not the only evil in the world, even though it is a serious one. The failure to see this rather elementary fact characterizes a great deal of postcolonial scholarship. One must avoid imperialism, but one must not be so desperately fearful of intervening in other countries that one seals off the victims of cruelty within their respective nations and refuses to promise aid.
Nandy criticizes “Western universalism” and suggests replacing it with an “alternative universalism” based on traditional Indic concepts. What he fails to understand is that “Western universalism” is a contradiction in terms, as is “alternative universalism.” Universalism is simply universalism: it cannot be associated with a particular culture. Liberals use whatever traditions and sources are available to defend universalism, whether Western, Indian, or something else entirely. Certainly Amartya Sen, in his defenses of liberalism, refers not only to Western Enlightenment figures, but to the Buddha, various South Asian traditions, deliberative politics in Africa, and so forth. If Nandy were truly committed to universalism, he would make an argument similar to that of Sen. But instead, he attacks all those who have espoused universalist values and openly defends traditional, pre-modern societies. His alternative universalism is really, therefore, only a glorified particularism. It may legitimately attack the evils of modernity, yet it has nothing to say about the horrors of the pre-modern world, the caste system, traditional gender roles, or the superstition and narrow-mindedness of small communities.
But if one embraces this particularism, then why should one attack imperialism? Nandy criticizes egalitarian ideologies, the ideals of democracy and human rights, etc. as mere hierarchies and oppressions in disguise. In this he follows the lead of Foucault and similar postmodern thinkers, who find in liberal institutions little more than disguised bureaucratic power relations. But how does one know that such hierarchies are reprehensible if equality is not a goal? If egalitarian ideologies, democracy, and self-government are not legitimate ideals, why should it be the case, as Nandy maintains, that imperialism is so wrong? Along with the postcolonial theorists, he begins with the unexplained premise that imperialism is the greatest evil in human history, then proceeds to insist that the ideologies which might provide a grounds for attacking it—namely, the equal rights and dignity of all people and the value of self-determination—are themselves imperialistic! If equality, human rights, and democracy are not actually valuable goals, then Nandy should proceed to applaud imperialism, authoritarianism, and the triumph of might over right. Foucault at least was honest enough to pursue these ideas to their horrible conclusion, eventually backing the Ayatollah Khomeini and his reactionary movement. This is the end result of the assumption that equality and democracy can somehow be implicated in inegalitarian, undemocratic abuses.
Within The Intimate Enemy, there are many bizarre interpretations and discredited assertions, just as Nandy promised there would be. To take only one blatant example, here is his brief discussion of the 19th century social reformer Rammohan Roy: “Rammohan had introduced into the culture of India’s expanding middle class… the ideas of organized religion, a sacred text, monotheism, and, above all, a patriarchal godhead. Simultaneously, he had… [suggested] a new definition of masculinity, based on a demystification of womanhood and on the shifting of the locus of magicality from everyday femininity to a transcendent male principle.” (22) It may take one more time than it is worth to decipher that sentence, yet once one does so, one realizes the full extent of Nandy’s misrepresentation.
I know less about Roy than many, I am sure, and I would not doubt that there are legitimate criticisms to level against him. However, he was a decent person who was seeking to abolish the practice of sati, which involved the ritual self-immolation of a woman after her husband died, and to guarantee women some basic inheritance rights. While I’m sure he did not go far enough in his proto-feminism, he did attempt to guarantee a few basic human rights for Indian women. Yet according to Nandy, Roy was imposing a “masculine” worldview on a society which respected the “mystical” side of femininity. What this mystical side is is unclear, but Nandy seems to assume that rationality and critical thinking are distinctly male—I know many a feminist who would beg to differ!—while irrationality, tradition, and “magicality” are all female. Therefore a society in which women are subjected to irrational injustice and cruelty is deemed “feminine” while a post-Roy society in which women have a small degree of power and agency is a male imposition, by Nandy’s account. Would he declare Afghanistan under the Taliban to be a “feminine” society? Certainly femininity was properly “mystified” there, since women were so successfully sealed off from the rest of society!
Nandy is tempted, thanks to the entire spirit of postcolonialism, to attribute all of the world’s evils to imperialism. And because of this, he ends up tacitly condoning all of the world’s injustices which predate imperialism, such as patriarchy, religious intolerance, and the violence of tradition. Given Nandy’s personal views in his public life, he would no doubt be shocked to be accused of defending such things. But he has in fact fallen victim to the postcolonial trap: he has focused so exclusively on one injustice—imperialism—that he has rendered himself inured to all the other injustices in the world which are also crying out for redress.