The story of Eminent Distorian Irfan Habib really begins with his father, (late) Mohammed Habib, the original progenitor of whitewashing Islam’s prolonged, blood-soaked record on the sacred soil of Bharatavarsh. Every single Marxist pamphleteer who wrote the alleged history of India after him—especially of the medieval Muslim period—licked and sipped the sullied water drops of distortion that dribbled from the corners of Mohammed Habib’s mouth.
A Protégé of the Khilafat Architect
As a student at Oxford, Mohammed Habib came under the influence of the unvarnished Islamic bigot, Maulana Mohammad Ali who extended generous patronage to this protégé. The selfsame Mohammad Ali, responsible for the deadly Khilafat ‘movement’, which directly culminated in the jihadi genocide of Malabar Hindus. In a short time, Mohammed Habib heeded the clarion call given by his Khilafat-crazed Ustad, left England and returned to India teach at the Jamia Milia. It was a short stint after which he joined the newly-founded Aligarh Muslim University, first as a reader and then was promoted to Professor of History in 1922-23.
However, Mohammed Habib’s story really begins in 1926 when he was elected as the Member of U.P. Legislative Council on the Swaraj Party ticket. The original name of the Swaraj Party, the Congress-Khilafat Swaraj Party, is quite revealing. Although Chittaranjan Das was its president at the time, the reins of power rested in the hands of its all-powerful Secretary General, a lawyer named Motilal Nehru, who by 1926, was cunningly two-timing the Indian National Congress. It didn’t take long for Mohammed Habib to strike a deep friendship with Motilal’s son, Jawaharlal Nehru. In Jawahar, the wily Mohammed not only detected an ideological compatriot but instinctively sensed a pawn, who he could use in the long term. And so, as a first gesture of goodwill, Mohammed Habib donated substantial sums to the Congress Party. By 1932, Nehru was already eating out of his hands as we shall soon see.
Simultaneously, at the Aligarh Muslim University, Mohammed Habib made a series of deft academic moves, which had an ostensible ‘scientific’ goal for advancing the discipline of historiography: to write the history of the medieval Muslim period using primary sources—coins, Farmans, court chronicles, administrative records, oral narratives by Sufis and Muslim mystics and so on. However, this was merely the outer shell and a firm foundation of sorts. The core was a long-term vision to not only transform the approach to writing the history of the medieval Muslim period but to thoroughly sanitise its extensive and gory record. Mohammed Habib realised that in these vastly changed circumstances, it was wholly untenable to reveal firsthand accounts of medieval Muslim chroniclers who proudly gloated, gloated eloquently, gloated in ornate prose, and waxed in elaborate detail about the genocides, savagery, forced conversions of Hindus, large-scale slave-taking, extensive temple destructions, wanton rapes of Hindu women, Jizyah, etc that their patron-Sultans committed in a genuine spirit of pious service to Islam. ..But exposing these recorded, verifiable and non-falsifiable, horrible historical truths would further impair the image and prestige of Islam itself, which was already in doldrums.
Then there was another, bigger and a much more formidable problem, which was increasingly growing out of proportion. It had to be addressed urgently.
The name of the problem was Jadunath Sarkar.
By the mid and late 1920s, Jadunath Sarkar’s impeccably-researched, brilliantly-written, highly-outspoken and utterly majestic volumes exposing the stark and bloody truths about the Mughal rule—especially about the extended regime of the pious Islamic zealot Aurangzeb—were raining sledgehammers at unbearably regular intervals. By then, Sarkar was already some kind of a nationwide celebrity who had slapped awake educated Indians to the plight of their own ancestors. ..Something had to be done. That “something” was the creation of a new, spurious school. In the words of Dipesh Chakrabarty, Mohammed Habib seeded a “secular” and “left-leaning tradition of historical research in the 1920s.” This school of historical fakery eventually came to be known as the “Aligarh School” (sic). Some notable early disciples of Mohammed Habib include Satish Chandra and Nurul Hasan who later became the Education Minister under Mrs. Indira Gandhi and went on to found the nation-wrecking Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Creative Reinterpretation of Historical Truths
After much thought, Mohammed Habib & co discovered an effective method—tactic is the apt word—to sanitize the savage record of the Muslim rule in India. This method was to “interpret” the medieval Muslim chronicles in such a way that Islam’s image could be rescued from the pit it had fallen into. Mohammed Habib was immensely helped by the deceptive theoretical framework of Marxism in this vile project. Some fumes emitted by this noxious hot-air balloon include the following:
- Islamic invasion of India was a myth
- Muslim invaders were not motivated by Islam in their conquests of India
- Forcible conversions of Hindus were a bigger myth because
- Millions of “low caste” Hindus voluntarily, joyfully accepted the universal brotherhood of Islam to escape “Brahminical oppression”
- Islam was a liberating force which for the first time introduced true social equality in India as a result of which
- Lakhs of Hindus voluntarily helped build magnificent mosques and palaces for Muslim sultans
- Aurangzeb’s vast empire of Islamic bigotry imploded due to a “revenue crisis” and not because of his industrial-scale oppression of Hindus.
It would take years for these blatantly fraudulent theories to spread but a firm foundation had been laid by Habib Senior. In a parallel development, Jadunath Sarkar began to be marginalised bit by bit and then entirely strangled.
The Education of Jawaharlal
Mohammed Habib had to wait for his moment of glory until Jawaharlal Nehru became the unchallenged, softcore Stalinist despot both in the Government and the Congress Party. But by the 1940s, Mohammed Habib, apart from being a dyed-in-the-wool Islamist, had also become an incurable addict of the genocidal Communist monster, Mao Zedong. According to the peerless intellectual Kshatriya-Rishi Sita Ram Goel:
Mohammed Habib…[reportedly] wept with joy when as a member of a goodwill mission to Red China, he saw a film depicting inhuman tortures being inflicted on “landlords” in Mao’s slaughterhouse.
It’s now time to return to Mohammed Habib’s early and farsighted cultivation of Nehru, which paid off spectacularly. This emperor of all-encompassing nothingness was so spellbound by Mohammed Habib’s erudition in Indian history that as early as June 1932, he was feverishly writing reams of ill-informed letters to the impressionable, 15 year-old Indira Gandhi giving her second-hand lessons in third-rated history. Here’s a sample; in a letter dated June 1, 1932, Jawaharlal Nehru writes to Indira that:
Mahmud of Ghazni…was hardly a religious man… He was a Mohammedan, of course, but that was by the way. Above everything he was soldier, and a brilliant soldier. He came to India to conquer and loot, as soldiers unfortunately do, and he would have done so to whatever religion he might have belonged.
... On his part, Habib Senior made it a point to publicly, repeatedly, and pompously brag about the debt Nehru owed to him.
Mahmud of Ghazni as a Template
Mohammed Habib rather fittingly selected Mahmud of Ghazni as a launch pad and model to whitewash the barbaric record of Islamic rule in the Punyabhoomi called Bharatavarsh. Mahmud was the first Muslim raider who breached the traditional geographic and military defences and left repeated trails of brutal destruction, large-scale conversions, and comprehensive vandalism of Hindu temples and idols in mainland India. All of which, he repeatedly emphasised, he did to earn the proud title of a true Ghazi. Who better than Mahmud to launch the aforementioned campaign of whitewashing these historical truths? The following are a few miniatures of how Mohammed Habib describes the early medieval Muslim terrorist, Mahmud of Ghazni and how he twists the truth of Muslim invasions into India:
- It was impossible that the Indian temples should not sooner or later tempt someone strong and unscrupulous enough for the impious deed. Nor was it expected that a man of Mahmud’s character would allow the tolerance which Islam inculcates to restrain him from taking possession of the gold…when the Indians themselves had simplified his work by concentrating the wealth of the country at a few places.
- Face to face with the social and economic provisions of the Shariat and the Hindu Smritis, as political alternatives, the Indian city-worker preferred the Shariat.
- [The Ghorian conquest]…was not a conquest properly so-called. This was a turn-over of public opinion—a sudden turn-over, no doubt, but still one that was long overdue.
- The so-called Ghorian conquest of India was really a revolution of city labour led by Ghorian Turks.
- Indian city labour, both Hindus and Muslims helped to establish the new [Muslim] regime and it also maintained it, through all revolutions and revolts for over 500 years.
Mohammed Habib’s model became a template set in stone for succeeding generations of his lickspittles to not merely whitewash but distort and pervert such historical truths on a global scale. The noteworthy element in Mohammed Habib’s distortion in point #1 above is his desperate and brazen attempt to rescue Islam.
At any rate, Mohammed Habib’s charlatanism of historical scholarship doesn’t end merely here. His preface to the second volume of the 1952 edition of Eliot and Dowson’s majestic History of India as Told by its Own Historians is a masterclass in deception. That is still not all. In 1954, Mohammed Habib jointly authored The Delhi Sultanate with K.A. Nizami. This is the work that floats the aforementioned fictions about “city labour revolution,” “turn-over of public opinion” etc. Guess who wrote a laudatory foreword to it? Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
With this, we come to the end of The Progenitor, being the first part of Tarikh-i-Habibi Being the Partial Chronicle of Irfan Habib. We hope that the Almighty Allah and his Only Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) are pleased with our account and endow our pen with more strength and grace to embark on authoring the second of which we give an introduction below.
In Irfan, Mohammed Habib found a truly worthy son and successor.
I was Sure he Would Stab me at the First Opportunity:
The element that jumps out at you akin to an ugly visual daub when you study Irfan Habib bin Mohammed Habib’s sorry excuse for a career as a historian eerily resembles the model of almost all sultans and nawabs. Aurangzeb furnishes the prime example of this model in the manner in which he captured, sustained and retained political power: nothing was low enough. Aurangzeb actively hunted down every single ethic, scruple, virtue, and propriety and annihilated it in strict adherence to the pious guidance laid down in a desert about one thousand years before he became the sultan. Of course, Irfan Habib lives in a vastly changed time but some impulses are incurable. The quiet and highly understated scholar of history, J.K. encapsulates Irfan Habib’s rancid career in his inimitable fashion by citing the example of the renowned archaeologist K.K. Muhammed’s damning revelations about Habib in his autobiography, I, am Indian.
After working both at Aligarh Muslim University and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in various designations, K.K. Muhammed…learned how a historian becomes secular. In the foreword of the book, Prof MGS Narayanan, too writes about Prof. Habib. According to Prof. MGS, Prof. Habib has poisoned, not just history, but culture and social life by his narrow groupism, nepotism and treachery. At the same time, he writes that Prof. Habib is a hard working person, but crafty. His group would threaten, cheat and would be part of various intrigues. Anyone who criticised this group would be branded a Hindutvavaadi and communalist… Prof. MGS attributes this group for making Babri Masjid a national issue. According to Muhammed, it was during the Babri Masjid time that his mask of secularism came off. As the head of a government body (ICHR), he should not have taken sides in the dispute. People saw this as an effort to increase his influence by taking sides with the Muslim side in the dispute. Another encounter he mentions, occurred in front of an interview panel consisting of among others, the Vice Chancellor and Habib. During the interview, the Vice Chancellor said he could not consider anyone for AMU, who did not respect Prof. Habib. Muhammed replied that respect has to be earned not demanded…Another case was when someone with less marks and no Post-Graduate diploma was given the post of Asst. Archaeologist instead of him. Muhammed also had evidence against a false accusation that Irfan Habib had made. While Muhammed said all of this, Irfan Habib sat with his eyes down. Muhammed, writes, “I was sure he would stab me at the first opportunity.”
Our research into the long and highly toxic career of Irfan Habib, the alleged scholar of history, affords us to divide it into four broad and distinct phases.
The first comprises his early years and rise to power in the history establishment as the worthy son of “whitewasher” Mohammed Habib at the Aligarh Muslim University.
The second involves his numerous stints as the Chairman of the Indian Council for Historical Research (ICHR), a role he performed with the acumen of a medieval Muslim tyrant.
The third is the society-wrecking part he played during the Ayodhya years.
The fourth is his unclothed emergence as slightly better than a street thug when he tried to physically prevent Kerala Governor, Arif Mohammad Khan from speaking at a public function. On the dais, no less.
The Oxford Training of a Historian
Irfan Habib earned his spurs as a scholar of Mughal history with the publication of his The Agrarian System of Mughal India 1556–1707 in 1963. In itself, while the book is well-researched, it follows the selfsame model of the Shell and the Core laid down by his father, Mohammed Habib. It was also a tangential attack against and ploy to completely erase the original and irreplaceable contribution of Jadunath Sarkar. Prof Dipesh Chakrabarty describes the vile tactic in his typical academic tone as follows.
But more than his rejection of specific sources used by [Jadunath] Sarkar, it was the themes that Habib worked on that signaled the remarkable shift in historiography…Habib was avowedly Marxist—his very last footnote in the book is a reference to the Selected Works of Mao Zedong. He was “secular” (in the Indian sense of the word)…he sought the causes of Mughal decline in a revenue crisis of the empire.
…perhaps the most magisterial dismissal of Sarkar came in the form of Irfan Habib’s 1958 doctoral thesis from Oxford…” The Agrarian System of Mughal India…”, which played a key role in displacing Sarkar from the canon. Habib wrote about the “agrarian crisis” that plagued the Mughal Empire and contributed to its “destruction” but he did so without any reference to Sarkar’s propositions…as if the volumes did not exist for Habib. Sarkar features rarely in Habib’s book. No mention of him is to be found in the original preface, dated Aligarh, August 1962.
Not mentioning Jadunath Sarkar’s name in the context of Mughal history is akin to omitting the name of Bhagavan Veda Vyasa, while writing about the Mahabharata or that of Maharshi Valmiki in the context of the Ramayana. Yet, not only did Irfan Habib get away with it, he was actually rewarded and promoted for it. Small wonder that we live in an India where Sri Ramachandra is a misogynist and Sri Krishna is a warmonger.
But there is also an oblique back story to Irfan Habib’s years as a student at Oxford. This story is narrated by the other well-known Indian historian Tapan Raychaudhuri who earned a second doctoral degree at the same university. In his own words:
The university made no other formal provision for the instruction of graduate students working on Indian history beyond appointing a supervisor…Dr. C.C. Davis, once a Major in the Indian army, [who] supervised all students working for research degrees on Indian history irrespective of subject or period. Irfan Habib who worked on the agrarian history of the Mughal period…were all his supervisees.
To repeat the obvious, Irfan Habib was awarded his doctoral degree by a colonial supervisor who, putting it mildly, was unqualified to even judge the work of his minion much less guide him in his chosen field of research. There you have. A former army Major supervising a specialised academic research, an eerie coming alive of Thucydides’ prophecy that A nation that makes a great distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its laws made by cowards and its wars fought by fools.
Truthful History Ensures Civilisational Continuity
But speaking objectively, after India attained ‘independence’ these colonial scholars (in this case, a former army man of the British Raj) became the mentors of Indian students wanting to study the history of their own country. Indeed, the Raj’s grip on the psyche of its former colonial subjects remained firm as ever, and as we survey the field of Indian history research even today, this master-subject status has not only endured but has swallowed and spat out generations of culturally-impaired Hindus who celebrate their inferiority complex by spitting on fellow Hindus who are still rooted. One is reminded of a line that Stalin’s slave, Otto Katz told Arthur Koestler: “We all have inferiority complexes of various sizes, but yours isn’t a complex—it’s a cathedral.”
This applies one hundred per cent to a range of deracinated Hindu nonentities that includes the likes of Romila Thapar, Meera Nanda, and Ramachandra Guha whose proudest transgenerational creations are Kanhaiya Kumar and Swara Bhaskar among other culturally-stunted kids.
But back to Irfan Habib, his new “model” of historiography was among other contributors to the nasty national project of rehabilitating and anointing the Islamic zealot Aurangzeb as St. Aurangzeb. A video is a small sample of the real-life consequences of said anointment: a Mullah-type gentleman declaring openly on television that “Aurangzeb hamara hero hai.” This would have been unimaginable even twenty-five years ago. Indeed, the trajectory of whitewashing > distortion>rehabilitation>justification>celebration of the worst mass-murderers and religious bigots in history has been rather swift in the last seventy years.
See why history-writing is so vital to national health, societal well-being, and civilisational continuity?
(These are excerpts from the ongoing series
Tarikh-i-Habibi carried on Dharma Dispatch)