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From Mopilahs to Talibs: Delegitimising the Islamic State

Prafulla Ketkar

Prafulla KetkarSep 03, 2021, 04:07 PM IST

From Mopilahs to Talibs: Delegitimising the Islamic State

You can live amicably with a religion whose principle is toleration. But how is it  possible to live peacefully with a religion whose principle is “I will not tolerate you”? How are you going to have unity with these people? Certainly,  Hindu-Muslim unity cannot be arrived at on the basis that the Muslims will go on converting Hindus while the Hindus shall not convert any Madan (Mohammedan)”. – Sri Aurobindo, Evening Talks With Sri Aurobindo,  Part II, Chapter 3, July 2, 1923 (Recorded by A B Purani)

 

In a landmark move, a Government-Appointed panel has recommended the deletion of the names of Mopilah (the Muslims of Malabar region in Kerala) rioters from the dictionary of freedom fighters. This recommendation has opened up a chapter hitherto pushed under the carpet either in the name of freedom struggle or a peasant’s rebellion.  Not surprisingly, the communist regime in Kerala - that is, into mega centenary celebrations of what they called ‘Mopilah Rebellion’ - along with the historians nurtured with the same ideology, are disturbed with the recommendation. 

The incidents of the Malabar Massacre of Hindus occurred in 1921 as a part of the Khilafat movement. Since then, multiple reports and books have talked about the gruesome atrocities incurred on Hindus in the name of the ‘freedom struggle’. The authentic accounts penned by eminent personalities ranging from Congress leaders like K Madhavan Nair and C Keshavan Nair to Home-Rule league leader Annie Besant and Dr B R Ambedkar has drawn the common conclusions: 1. the Mopilah Riot was part of the Khilafat Movement, and not the freedom struggle; 2. It was a fundamentalist movement focused on religious conversion. Thousands of people were murdered, hundreds of women raped, lakhs of people were displaced, and hundreds of temples were desecrated.  All this was followed by Ali Musaliar, an Islamic preacher, and his Islamic militia announcing an Islamic state In Malabar on August 22, 2021. The barbaric atrocities are celebrated by Communists, who have no aversion to violent means, as a freedom struggle.

If it was a freedom struggle, why the widespread attacks on Hindus and temples? Why was no British authority attacked, barring the looting of few properties? Suppose the Communist justification of ‘peasant’s revolt’ is accurate; how can they whitewash the fact that the Mopilah were wealthy merchants of Malabar having deep connections with the West Asian nations for the trade of timber and spices? Remember, none of the slogans raised by the rioters was in favour of the national freedom struggle or anti-British in content.

What happened in Malabar was not an exception. All over Bharat, we experienced the systematic nurturing of ideas around what Sri Aurobindo called the making of ‘separate political entity an organised separate political power’. In the 1920s, a series of riots took place attacking non-Muslims. The intention of Gandhiji may be of taking the Muslims along in the freedom struggle. But what started under the Congress umbrella quickly deviated from it and took the shape of a cold-blooded pogrom. Fanatics like the Ali brothers and Abdul Bari gave inflammatory speeches and put restoration of the Caliphate in Turkey above the goal of Swaraj. The support for the freedom movement became conditional. Among the ordinary Bharatiya Muslims, who had no clue about the position of Caliph, the ideas of Pan-Islamism got traction. In a way, Khilafat germinated the  idea of Pakistan. 

Interestingly, the Amir of Afghanistan was the only external power the Bharatiya Muslims could look up to. Hence, the Khilafat leadership systematically spread the rumour in the Malabar region of Afghan attack from the North-West side, which never happened. But an Islamic State was formed in Malabar in August 1921.

Now cut to August 2021. In the same Malabar, we are witnessing joyous celebrations after the Taliban taking over Kabul. How can we forget that the same Taliban decimated the entire Hindu-Buddhist civilisation in its earlier rule from 1996-2001 and was designated as a terror outfit by the United Nations. The idea of the Caliphate, the Global Islamic Rule, is still a guiding force to the fundamentalist Muslims, represented by forces like the Taliban. The Khilafatis and Mopilah rioters had the same inspiration. Commemorating Mopilas is like celebrating the Taliban. Hence, getting rid of that ‘freedom struggle’ and peasants rebellion tags ascribed to Mopilas is essential.

 

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