Sufism as an offshoot of Islamic imperialism
By Ravi Varma
If it is true that Islam preaches peace, social amity and tolerance, why is it that there is no peace and tolerance in any of the Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan or Lebanon? Even in India, it is the Muslim dominated towns that are known to be riot-prone areas. Clearly, it is the hatred and religious intolerance preached and practiced by the Muslim leaders, imams and politicians that lead to communal violence in India and other countries.
IT is a fact that the learned historians from the Jamia Milia Islamia University, Aligarh Muslim University, Jawaharlal Nehru University as also Marxist intellectuals and sponsored journalists always blame British imperialism for the continuing Hindu-Muslim conflicts in India. According to them, Hindu-Muslim riots are the result of the British Policy of Divide & Rule employed by the British during their regime. It is also often stated that Muslim Sufis are like Hindu religious leaders and mendicants who preached religious tolerance and social peace in the country. Let us analyse whether the above assertions of the learned Muslims and Marxist historians have any element of truth.
Even a beginner student of Indian history knows that from the days of Muhammad Ghori (AD 1192) till the death of the fanatic Aurangzeb (AD 1707), Muslim kings ruled Delhi, till the Maratha chieftains deposed the last Muslim Sultan in the middle of the 18th century. These facts are part of the recorded history of the country. In fact, the British period of western imperialism started only after the collapse of the Muslim Empire in India, sometime in the 18th century. It is also a historical fact that Islam spread to Egypt, Iran and India purely through military aggression and forceful conversion of the local people.
Wherever the Muslim invaders established their imperialist regimes, in countries where once great civilisations flourished, such as Egypt, Iran or India, the first thing they did was to burn down and desecrate the local holy places of worship and their religious books, thus destroying the culture, customs and religions of the local people through sheer force and brutality. In this way ended the glorious civilisations of Egypt and Iran, where followers of Muhammad Nabi of Arabia thrust upon the helpless population, a crude religion, customs and language of the desert land of different tribes. Somehow, Iran was able to retain its language unlike Egypt which lost their language too along with their glorious civilisations of the past. In each country, the invading Muslim rulers followed a policy of divide and rule first converting a helpless group of the local population to Islam, and then goading these Muslim converts to fight the non-converts till they also fell in line. As a consequence, the helpless non-Muslims or non-converts were always at the receiving end of Islamic brutalities, as supposed enemies of Islam. The same was true in India where the Hindus were victims of Muslim atrocities from the days of Mahmud of Ghazni to Muhammad Ghori.
As every student of history knows, whenever the Muslim rulers of old established their capitals in India, such as Delhi and other important places, all ancient temples and sacred pilgrimage centres were first desecrated and destroyed, and at these very sites, Muslim mosques, dargahs or cemeteries were established. Mahmud of Ghazni destroyed the famous Somnath Temple at Prabhas Pattan in present day Gujarat, Babar destroyed Sri Ram Temple in Ayodhya, and Aurangzeb destroyed Sree Krishna Temple in Mathura as well as the Viswanath Temple in Kashi, all in Uttar Pradesh. And at these very sites, mosques were erected, such as the Ghazni Mosque at Prabhas Pattan, Babri Masjid at Ayodhya, Aurangi Mosque at Kashi and Mathura.
The plight of Delhi where all the invading Muslim rulers from Ghori to Aurangzeb had their capital, is probably the most tragic. There used to be a number of big and small Hindu, Buddhist and Jain temples built in Delhi by Hindu rulers, long before the advent of the foreign invaders and Muslim rule. Shockingly, every single temple there, whether Hindu, Buddhist or Jain, was systematically destroyed by successive Muslim rulers, and at these very sites tombs and dargahs were erected in memory of dead or killed Muslim soldiers and mullahs. Even the present day Jama Masjid in Delhi was constructed by Muslim rulers at a holy place where a massive beautiful and ancient Siva temple existed as the presiding deity of the ruling Hindu emperors for hundreds of years. The fanatic Muslim rulers also did not permit any Hindu temple to be constructed in any of the sacred pilgrimage centres of Hindus, Thus, no Hindu temple of any importance was constructed in Delhi during the time of the Muslim rulers, not even the so-called liberal minded Akbar. (Incidentally, the first thing the British did when they shifted their capital from Calcutta to Delhi was to build a big Christian church at Government cost, near the Viceregal lodge, the present Rashtrapati Bhavan.)
Even after the British left and Pakistan was formed for Muslims, the Congress Government of Independent India did not take any initiative or offer active support for constructing a major Hindu temple in Delhi. At the same time, all memorials for political leaders, from Mahatma Gandhi to Sanjay Gandhi, were built on Government land and at Government cost in the same Delhi to satisfy emotional sentiments of the Congress workers. This only shows that the Central Government even after Independence did not show any respect for the religious sentiments of Hindus. Or rather, the overhelming majority of Hindus were not strong or united to be assertive enough to force the Congress government to construct a Hindu temple in Delhi at Government cost and on Government land. However, thanks to the late Hindu industrialist and philanthropist Shri GD Birla, we have today a beautiful Laxminarayan Temple in Delhi, built with no help from the Congress governments.
The Somnath Temple in Gujarat was rebuilt under the initiative and guidance of the late Sardar Patel and KM Munshi at Prabhas Pattan itself, after demolishing the existing Ghazni mosque. But no new Hindu temple could be built or was allowed to be constructed at Ayodhya, Kashi or Mathura, due to the objections of Pandit Nehru and successive Governments in Uttar Pradesh, controlled by the Nehru-led Congress. Other important places where no major Hindu temples exist even today are Calcutta, Allahabad, Lucknow and Hyderabad. On the other hand, those Governments are seen to be more interested to preserve and protect mosques built by imperialist Muslim emperors.
Throughout the Muslim period of Indian history and prior to the advent of British rule, the Muslim emperors and sultans, and their fanatic army commanders were constantly waging Islamic war of expansion through conversion against Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs in India, destroying their holy temples and pilgrim centres. Indian history is replete with instances of Islamic brutalities against Hindus - helpless men, women and children - by the Muslim fanatics. This continuing Hindu Muslim riots today must necessarily by traced back to Islamic brutalities that occurred in the past even before the advent of the British in India. To blame the British for the continuing Hindu-Muslim outrages and the imperialist policy of divide and rule is pure distortion of facts and falsification of recorded historical data.
In India, Muslim imperial rulers divided the Indian population into two distinct religious groups as Muslim converts and non-converts, offering special benefits and incentives to Muslim converts, while at the same time imposing penalties and various taxes on Hindus. In this way, Muslim imperialism succeeded to a great extent in dividing the Indian population into pro - and anti-Muslim. The same divide and rule policy was later followed by the British with some changes. The British offered special benefits and incentives like jobs to another section of the population - Christian converts. Hence it can be emphatically reiterated that while the initiators of the divide and rule policy were actually the invading Muslim rulers in India, however it was the Colonial imperialists who mastered these diabolic tactics. Unfortunately for modern-day India, both the westward-looking Congress party and the Eastward-looking Marxist party continue to follow the same imperialist policy of divide and rule, but at the micro-level. Consequently, the Hindus will never be able to get over the cast-system; while the Muslim and Christian communities in India also are fragmented into different divisions and castes, such as Shia, Sunni, Ahammadiyyas, Aga Khanis, etc., among Muslims, and Catholics, Protestants, Presbyterians, Latin Christians, Syrian Christians, etc., among the Christians.
As for Muslim Sufis in India, though they, too are wandering mendicants, in no way can they be compared to Hindu sanyasins or religious teachers who were committed to the high ideals of Hinduism, spreading religious tolerance and social peace in the country. Nowhere in recorded history is it mentioned that these Sufis, the so-called Islamic peace lovers of India, ever exhorted their Muslim brethren to resist or condemn the continuing Islamic cruelties against Hindus during the periods of Muslim rulers, anywhere in the country. Hence it needs to be concluded that either the so-called Sufi saints had no influence whatsoever over the Muslim community, or else that they actually condoned the Muslim atrocities. Therefore it goes without saying that the Muslim Sufis in India did absolutely nothing to gain any respect or honour from the Hindu community.
If it is true that Islam preaches peace, social amity and tolerance, why is it that there is no peace and tolerance in any of the Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan or Lebanon? Even in India, it is the Muslim dominated towns that are known to be riot-prone areas. Clearly, it is the hatred and religious intolerance preached and practiced by the Muslim leaders, imams and politicians that lead to communal violence in India and other countries. It seems to be a part of the Muslim psyche which spreads and perpetuates hatred and violence against new sects, even within the Muslim community itself. Once this crucial and fundamental fact is recognised and accepted as such by the Muslim religious leaders, Imams and politicians, then only would it be possible to build up friendly and congenial relationship between the different religious communities, and also tribes and sects within. Nothing can be achieved by wishing away or distorting and falsifying or even suppressing the dark pages of history to glorify Islamic rule, especially lasting peace and social amity in India. If the leaders of the Muslim community want their co-religionists to preserve and perpetuate Muslim identity through separatist personal laws, separate language and special minority rights, as against the common laws and constitutional rights enjoyed by the Hindu majority of the country, mutual trust and respect and conciliation between communities is impossible, leading to a troublesome period of communal conflicts and intolerance. Even today the democratic secular republican government resorts to the same divide and rule policy of the British and Muslim period - majority Hindus versus minority Muslims and Christians, mainly to stop the growing strength and unity of Hindus. This also will be a self defeating political exercise in the long run.
Let us hope and pray that our learned historians, Muslim leaders and Marxist intellectuals will learn from their past history and guide the Muslim community to have a better and prosperous tomorrow for all communities and their motherland India. If they do some serious introspection and properly educate the ignorant masses of Muslim communities they will be doing a great service not only to their communities but also the whole country. Pragmatism should be preferred to dogmatism.