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Arun Shourie on Islam



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A case in which the English version of a major book by a renowned Muslim scholar, the fourth Rector of one of the greatest centers of Islamic learning in India, listing some of the mosques, including the Babri Masjid, which were built on the sites and foundations of temples, using their stones and structures, is found to have the tell-tale passages censored out... more



 

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"But why do you refer to it as a mosque at all? Where is the mosque, my friends, when the namaz is not performed? When for forty years idol worship is going on there, what kind of a mosque is it? That is just the temple of our dear Ram."... more


 

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At first, the demand-cum-assurance was, "If you can bring any proof showing a temple had been demolished to construct the mosque, we will ourselves demolish the mosque". A host of documents -- reports of the Archaeological Survey of India going back to 1891, Gazetteers going back to 1854. Survey reports going back to 1838 were produced which stated unambiguously that a Ram temple had been demolished to construct the mosque"... more

 

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Of course, he said, Hindus who became Muslims must be taken back into the Hindu fold. Otherwise our numbers will keep dwindling- we used to be around 600 million by the reckoning of Ferishta, the oldest Muslim historian, now we are just 200 million. "And then", he continued, "every man going out of the Hindu pale is not only a man less, but an enemy the more."... more

 

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The depths to which society had pushed sections of its own induced the latter to convert to Islam, for them the conversion was a liberation, and the people who even today do not see this are "lunatics", says Swami Vivekananda... more


 

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May I begin with a few passages from my book 'A Secular Agenda'? It was sent to the press in late September and comes out later this week. A chapter, "No time to relent", which concludes the section on Kashmir notes... more

 

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On January 2, 1937 a Professor of Philosophy from Poland, Krzenski came to see Gandhiji. Krzanski told Gandhiji that Catholicism was the only true religion... more

 

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The traditions of India were rich as can be. They had attained insights of the first order. A person who has reflected on what the Buddha has to say on the workings of the mind for instance, one who has even a little acquaintance with Buddhist works on psychology will find the writings of, say, Freud to be high-school level reductionism... more

 

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Dainik Jagran is today among the largest newspapers in our country. Amar Ujala is also a substantial paper. Addressing a public meeting on October 12, UP chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav denounced the two papers, "Halla Bol", he exhorted his followers, "Commence the storming". Why read them, he told them, you don't have to even see them. No one present had any doubt what they meant: Don't let them be seen, that is what it meant... more

 

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'Muslims all over the world including those of India were hopefully looking up to Pakistan for help and guidance... The Pakistani debacle of 1971 had caused immense grief to Indian Muslims.' The speaker? Maulana Abul Hassan ALi Nadvi, otherwise known as Ali Mian, whom the press always refers to as the widely respected scholar and moderate Muslim leader... more

 

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But in looking at the ritual, at the idol, at the concept, why not start with the opposite assumption? Why start by assuming that they are empty, that they are the remnants of superstition? They had occurred to, they had been devised by seers, by persons of great insight... more

 

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'It is a miracle... can be likened to the building of the Gothic cathedrals of Europe... There is no doubt that London has acquired a significant new building of traditional Indian beauty and interest... We can be grateful that this has happened in a part of London that needed transforming'... more

 

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The super-speciality hospital which Satya Sai Baba has set up in Putaparti, the water schemes which have been inaugurated in Anantpur district to mark his 70th birthday will, of course, make the difference between life and death to vast numbers. The other point about projects undertaken at the direction of these teachers is their managerial excellence. The projects are invariably completed on schedule: it took just three years from the permission being granted for the temple in London to its being opened for worship..... more

 

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In holding that not all references to religion in election speeches necessarily amount to corrupt electoral practices; that it is the soliciting of votes on the ground of the religion of the candidate or that of his opponent which is a corrupt electoral practice; that statements made by others do not have the same effect as those made by a candidate himself -- in all this, as we saw, the Supreme Court has merely reiterated what the the law itself says and what the Supreme Court has itself held on previous occasions. What then accounted for the fury of the secularists ?... more

 

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No one in the twentieth century has done as much to rid us of untouchability than Gandhiji. He attached more importance to ridding Hinduism of this accretion than to attaining Swaraj. He brought upon himself the hostility of orthodox opinion in western India, in the South by his uncompromising stand on the matter. But the other day, speaking during the commemorative session of Parliament, Kanshi Ram asserted that abolishing untouchability was never on Gandhiji's agenda. Not one person stood up to contradict him... more

 

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These days when those guardians of secularism, our newspapers, refer to the Secular Front, they put the label -- "Secular" -- as well as the excuse -- "to combat communal forces" -- within inverted commas ! Those who used to preface their remarks about Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee with, "The right man in the wrong party", suddenly emphasize only "The right man" part ! "Things are all going right," says a person who has feasted off secular governments for ten years, as I run into him -- I don't immediately get what he thinks is going right, so out of touch have I been with him. "I mean, we are not going to get just a stable government, we are going to get a BJP government," he says enthusiastically... more

 

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"Rational vs. National," screams the headline of the new pall-bearer of secularism, the magazine Outlook. "Tampering with history," proclaims the old pall- bearer, The Hindu. Having been educated by The Hindu that the "nodal ministry" for the matter is the Ministry of Human Resource Development, I ring up the Secretary of that Ministry. Has the Memorandum of Association of the ICHR been changed?, I ask. No, he says. It has not been changed, he says... more

 

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Worse, even after a decade of killing by Pakistan armed terrorists, voices are still raised that hide Pakistan deeds under dust: An ex-editor is forever narrating the sweet words he exchanged on his most recent trip to Pakistan, how person like him had built a small lobby in Pakistan for peace with India; another editor proclaims that Nawaz Sharif should be given the Nobel Prize for Peace, so hard is he trying for peace in the face of such enormous difficulties... And they have an audience! for we just do not face the fact that Pakistan is working to a clear, indeed, to a singular aim - and that is to break India... more

 

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"Death is just an insignificant word for them," begins the report in The News of 28 November, 1997 on the annual gathering of the Mujahidin-e-Taiba. "Killing those who do not share their set of Islamic values is the only reality. The congregation was flooded with thousands of people with these beliefs..." ... more

 

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As we have seen, the explicit part of the Circular issued by the West Bengal Government in 1989 in effect was that there must be no negative reference to Islamic rule in India. Although these were the very things which contemporary Islamic writers celebrated, there must be absolutely no reference to the destruction of the temples by Muslim rulers, to the forcible conversion of Hindus, to the numerous other restrictions which were placed on the Hindu population... more

 

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The pattern of these textbooks thus is set in stone : concoct a picture of pre-Islamic society of Indian history as a period riddled by discord, tensions, inequity and oppression -- evidence or no evidence; on the other side, concoct a picture of the Islamic period as one in which a "composite culture" flowered, one in which, in spite of the errors of few who acted out of normal, non-religious motives, there was peace and harmony -- evidence or no evidence... more

 

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"India has massacred 60,000 Kashmiris, but the people of Kashmir will never rest till they have won freedom;" "India has deployed 700,000 soldiers in the Valley, and yet the Kashmiri mujahidin are inflicting heavy losses on them every day;" -- such "facts" are repeated ad nauseum in Pakistani papers. We tend to dismiss such assertions as the usual lies. Public Opinion Trends, are so inured to these concoctions that they excise them from their reports! In fact, the concoctions deserve attention... more

 

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India's size has become "an unmanageable liability," writes an analyst in Pakistan's Frontier Post of June 9. "As a result, nearly one-third of its 25 states are at war, where military troops are routinely called out to keep peace." The cause for this is largely "India's exclusionary political, religious and social order that is heavily biased against non-Hindu minorities," he says. This from an analyst whose own country is being torn apart by killings of Shias by Sunnis, of Sindhis and Mohajirs by Punjabis, by tensions between Baluchis, Pakhtuns and Punjabis... more

 

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The war in Kargil has ignited an intense reaction across the country. War does. War that results from aggression by the other does even more. This time round two factors have caused the reaction to be even more intense. There is the element of betrayal: India had extended the hand of trust and friendship; Pakistan, it now turns out, merely pretended to reciprocate. And then there is the effect of television. This is the first war which has been brought into our living rooms: we see the extreme conditions in which our soldiers are defending our country, we see the majesty and beauty of our sacred mountains which the enemy has violated, we see the bodies arrive, we see and hear the valour of the bereaved parents and wives... more

 

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Aap log jis jazbe aur walwalese Jihad karten hain, vo Bharati kutton, muaf kijiye, faujiyon ko apni bandookein uthane ka mauka bhi nahin milta''- the passion and fervour with which you wage Jihad does not leave the opportunity for these Bharati dogs, pardon us, these Bharati militarymen to even pick up their rifles. ''Agar aap isi tareh Bharati faujiyon ko makhi macchar ki tareh jahanum ki vaadiyon mein dhakelte rahe, to ankareeb Bharat ka koi bhi kutta muazarat fauji Kashmir ka rukh nahin karega''- if you continue to push them into hell in this way, like flies and mosquitoes, no Indian dog, begging you pardon, no Indian militaryman will dare look towards Kashmir... Serious analysis in Khabarein, a leading paper of Lahore, of 10 July, 1999...  more


 

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As Mr I K Gujral proceeded with his "Gujral Doctrine," a friend in RAW said, "He will rue it by September." As we returned from Lahore, he said, "When Pakistan goes so far out to seem friendly, it is planning something big." As Nawaz Sharif kept bringing one institution after another under his heel -- he enacted a version of our anti-defection law which made legislators his bonded men: they stand disqualified the moment they defy the party whip on any matter; he had the President resign; he removed the Chief Justice; he did away with the Council for Defence and National Security thereby curtailing the Army's role; he put a pious cipher into the presidency -- my friend said, "He will go on rushing forward till he bangs his head into a brick wall. It is his nature... more

 

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From our experience over the last 20 years the following emerge as self-evident axioms. The technology of inflicting large-scale violence is becoming easier to obtain, and - per quotient of lethality - less and less expensive. This in turn yields three lemmas. The target country has to be equipped to counter the entire spectrum of violence: to take the current examples from the United States-from aircraft being used as missiles to anthrax; It is almost impossible in an open society to block a determined lot from acquiring the technology they want by blocking the technology itself-the only practical way is to be a leap ahead of the technology the terrorist acquires... more

 

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'A State that's patronising terrorists should wake up to the consequences; in any case its immediate neighbours must'. Corresponding to the four ''don'ts'' are six ''do's'': Believe what the ideologues and organisations of the terrorists say. The one thing for which ideologues and organisations can be credited is that they are absolutely explicit about their aims and objectives. The fault - the fatal fault - is that of liberal societies: to this day they continue to shut their eyes to what these organisations proclaim to be their aim: domination, conquest, conversion of the ''land of war'' into the ''land of peace,'' that is the land which is at peace because it is under their heel - exactly as they had shut their eyes to Hitler in the 1930s and to Stalin later. Read their press, reflect over their books and pamphlets, and act in time - that is, before they have wreaked the havoc they proclaim they will... more

 

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What is the VHP? Whom does it represent? What is its locus standi?, the Supreme Court asked the other day - and it seemed to have done so in a tone that triggered much delight among secularists. The Bench did not ask, as the Constitution Bench had not asked, ''Who is Mohammed Aslam, alias 'Bhure'? Whom does he represent? What is his locus standi?'' It did not ask, ''What is the Babri Masjid Action Committee? Whom does it represent? What is its locus standi?'' It did not ask, ''What is the 'All India Muslim Law Board'? Whom does it represent? What is its locus standi?'' How is it that doubt assailed it only in regard to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad? ... more

 

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In the sense American intellectual activity has been built on foundations. Agar aap koi bhi ek American scholar ko dekhen, he is one of the great psychologists today. They work the most on the physiology of the mind on consciousness. If you read any book of his, in its first five pages aap yeh dekhiye ki woh kin-kin ko acknowledge karte hain. The unknown foundations and it has been one of the great omissions of the Indian tax system that we have not allowed, not made it profitable for business houses and other people to set up foundations for intellectual activity. I also feel in the sense that we underestimate, what Ramswarup Ji used to call, the seed value of ideas... more

 

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You couldn't have asked me to deliver this lecture because of my experience in Disinvestment! And I have no access to classified information on security affairs. Therefore, for myself alone, and based solely on my own study-much of it of the writings of experts like you! And I do hope that what I say will not now trigger some more ''Diary Items''-that it is because the Defence Minister is speaking on Disinvestment that the Disinvestment Minister has chosen to speak on Defence... more

 

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Every country works solely for its own interests. There's little use in invoking justice, morality or law: indeed, doing so can be counter-productive-by sticking to ideals, so to say, we cleared the way for China in Myanmar. If I could I would burn into the consciousness of every policy-maker in India the conversations between Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon, Chou En-lai, Huang Hua. Every country works solely for its own interests as perceived by it at that time: this may not accord with our interests, or with our perception of what is in the interest of even that country itself. for eg: US aid to Pakistan in the wake of 9/11... more

 

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For a year and a half you keep issuing statements to the press, and writing ostensibly scholarly articles, and holding forth in interviews that the Babri Mosque was not, most definitely not, built by demolishing or even on a site of a temple. Documents of the other side are sent to you. You are nominated by the All India Babri Mosque Action Committee as an expert who will give his assessment of them. A meeting is scheduled. Before that you meet the then Director General of Archeology who had supervised the excavations at the site. The day the meeting is to begin the newspapers carry yet another categorical statement from "intellectuals", again asserting the line convenient to the AIBMAC. You, of course, are among them... more

 

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"This is an old charge which keeps surfacing now and then," wrote one of those "eminent historians", K. N. Panikkar, in an vituperative response to an article of mine - - the charge that close to two crores had been spent on the "Towards Freedom" project of the Indian Council of Historical Project, and little had been achieved. "About a year back the historians had then clarified through a public statement, that they have not drawn any money from the ICHR and that they worked for five years purely in an honorary capacity. When he gets the information, I would normally expect Shourie to tender a public apology. But given the intellectual honesty and cultural level reflected in his article, I do not think it would be forthcoming. The alternative of suing for defamation the likes of Shourie is below one's dignity. But I do expect at least the ministry to make a public statement. Strong stuff, and definitive, one would think. It turns out that on 17 July, 1998, in answer to a question tabled in the Rajya Sabha, the Ministry stated that only one part of the project has been completed and published since the original volume of Dr. P. N. Chopra. This is the volume -- in three parts -- by Dr. Partha Sarthi Gupta covering 1943-44. In answer to another question, the Ministry has reported that "After publication of the Volume he was paid an honorarium of Rs. 25,000/- in September, 1997." ... more

 

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The US campaign of bombing erstwhile Taliban positions in Afghanistan had not been on for 10 days, and our experts began pronouncing it a failure: "Osama bin Laden is still at large, the Taliban have just dispersed into the hills, the Northern Alliance is stuck where it was, Bush's Grand Alliance is coming apart... The winter is about to set in," they said. "The Afghan is a hardy fighter, they said. He will just tie an onion and a roti (bread), fling his blanket over his shoulder, and disappear into the nearest mountain; and these American GIs - they cannot fight without their Coca Colas, their hot meals... Just look at them on TV - they are loaded with so much equipment, they have difficulty just walking. These jokers are going to fight the Taliban? Secure on the mountaintop, the Taliban Jehadi will pick them one by one as they try to clamber up the mountain. Remember Kargil? These slopes in the Afghan mountains are even steeper than the ones our soldiers had to scale."... more

 

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"There can be no doubt that the fall of Buddhism in India was due to the invasions of the Musalmans," writes the author. "Islam came out as the enemy of the 'But'. The word 'But,' as everybody knows, is an Arabic word and means an idol. Not many people, however, know that the derivation of the word 'But' is the Arabic corruption of Buddha. Thus the origin of the word indicates that in the Moslem mind idol worship had come to be identified with the Religion of the Buddha. To the Muslims, they were one and the same thing. The mission to break the idols thus became the mission to destroy Buddhism. Islam destroyed Buddhism not only in India but wherever it went." The writer? B. R. Ambedkar. But today the fashion is to ascribe the extinction of Buddhism to the persecution of Buddhists by Hindus, to the destruction of their temples by the Hindus. One point is that the Marxist historians who have been perpetrating this falsehood have not been able to produce even an iota of evidence to substantiate the concoction... more

 

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In painting Goddess Saraswati naked M.F. Hussein, his secularist advocates argue, is merely exercising his Fundamental Right to freedom of expression, he is merely giving form to his artistic, creative urge. The first question is : How come the freedom and creative urge of the thousands and thousands of artists our country has have never led even one of them to ever paint or draw a picture of Prophet Muhammad in which his face is manifest ? I am not on the point of dress or undress, the features could have been made as celestial and handsome as our artists could have imagined -- why is it that they never got the urge to draw or sculpt even the handsomest representation of the Prophet?... more

 

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"Dear Arun", writes Mr. Som Benegal, the sharpest of pins to many a baloon, "Why do you always equate the Urdu press with Muslims? I write a 600 word editorial every single day in TEJ which is in Urdu - and which is neither Muslim, nor communal in any way. (I hope I am not pseudo-secular!) There are other Urdu papers which are not Muslim; indeed some are very, very anti-Muslim. May be sometimes you should also read some voices of 'sanity' (or pseudo- sanity!)"... more

 

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The problem that illicit small arms and light weapons constitute is well known. During the past decade. these weapons have been the weapons of choice in 46 out of 49 major conflicts. They have claimed on an average, 300,000 lives. 90 percent of those killed have been civilians, and 80 percent of the killed have been women and children... more

 

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The first thing that strikes one upon reading the books of these eminent historians, of course, is the double standard. Recall how, without an iota of evidence, our eminent historians advanced the most far-reaching assertions about ancient India -- about its having been a period riddled with tensions, inequity and oppression. And how, in cases such as Aurangzeb and the Sultanate, these very historians shut their eyes to what stares them in the face. In a word, their approach is set to a formula : pre-Islamic India must be presented as a land of discord, a land in the grip of a social and political system marked by injustice, extreme inequities and oppression; and the Islamic period must be presented as a period in which "the composite culture" flowered, a period in which the norm was a policy of "broad toleration"... more


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