Sunday, October 2nd, 2022 22:39:58

Holy Books, Politics and Wars

By RSN Singh
Updated: July 6, 2022 2:29 pm

Ponder over these news items: ‘Portrait of Beant Singh’s Assassin Put Up at Golden Temple Museum’, ‘Kerala SHO Who Issued Notice to Mosque Panel Against Hate Speech Removed’, and ‘Ranchi SSP Asked to Explain Why Posters of Suspects Were Put Up’. These three news items appeared on the same day, i.e. June 10, 2022 edition of Indian Express.

The first news item is from Punjab in the North, the second pertains to Kerala in South, and the third is linked to Jharkhand in the East. In Punjab, the Khalistanis are on a roll ever since the new government has been ushered. In Kerala in the extreme south, the communist government and the jihadis have been complementing each other for very long. It is from Kerala that the Popular Front of India (PFI) jihadi network has spread to every nook and corner of India. Its jihadi muscle was brazenly on display in Shaheen Bagh and during the Delhi Riots. Very recently, it successfully orchestrated violent demonstrations all over the country after Friday prayers, a phenomenon which so far was confined to Kashmir.

The jihadis in the southern part of India have managed to breach the Vindhya’s, even as the South Indian culture has been struggling to achieve the same. Ironically, the jihadi mobilization by the PFI in the South and its sway in the North, West and East have been predicated on the Urdu language, which is no different from Hindi sans the Arabic script. Urdu is never a political issue in the South, but Hindi is.The jihadi campaign against India is no longer only from the North but from the South as well. It has engulfed the entire nation, including Ranchi in the East, which was also on fire.

Ranchi has always been a jihadi bastion. On June 10, 2022 after Friday Namaz, the jihadis indulged in unprovoked murderous stone-pelting on the security personnel. Temples and the idols therein were especially targeted. The police had unmistakably  identified the culprits. Their posters were put up, but probably, under the diktat from global jihadi masters, the SSP was asked to remove the posters. Explanation was sought from him and he was eventually removed on the weak legal grounds based on a judgement by the Allahabad High Court with regard to posters. This is how stone-pelting or ‘sangbazi’ in Islamic practices is legitimized in India by the political dispensation. The State seems to convey that an Indian from the day he or she dons uniform, acquires the right to be stoned and those entrusted with the task of saving democracy have forfeited  their  safety and dignity. What is wrong in exposing those by means of posters, who subscribe to the jihadi concept of sangbazi to target the defenders of their motherland? If the ruling dispensation becomes an accomplice of the jihadis, then who will defend the motherland? This  exactly was the bane of Kashmir before the abrogation of Article 370.

This kind of jihadism, based on blasphemy, is not new for Ranchi. The Salman Rushdie affair had its local reverberations in Ranchi as well. 34 years ago in 1988, an article appeared in a newspaper, Ranchi Express, in which there was profuse praise for Prophet Mohammad. The theme was that everyday as the Prophet passed by the double storeyed house of an Arab youth, he was dealt with stones, of course not of the same murderous variety. One particular day, the treatment was missing. The Prophet inquired and learnt that the Arab youth was sick and bedridden. The Prophet then went to the bedside of the youth and offered prayers for his recovery. The youth literally melted in shame. Along with this laudatory and reverential article, there was a sketch of Prophet praying by the bedside of the sick youth. The next day, Ranchi was on fire.

From Siachen, I had just arrived in Ranchi. I was very innocent on Islamic theocratic matters, though the Khalistan movement was then at its peak. My innocence could not comprehend the reasons for the communal violence in Ranchi. Several questions tormented me. I could not bring myself to understand that how an article suffused with praise of a human, become blasphemous because of a salutary sketch. It befuddles me even now.

Had the same questions then been posed by the people at large, the jihadi cycle would not have persisted so incorrigibly. The murderous menace of blasphemy that sub-continental Islam has acquired, would have attenuated considerably. Ranchi was the place which served as the nerve center for assassination attempt on Mr Modi in October 2013 in Gandhi Maidan, Patna during a public rally.

Jihadism and the associated terror has been a phenomenon for last 1400 years. The Indian Constitution seems to have surrendered before this phenomenon. Who says that all Indian citizens are equal before the Law! If that was the case, how can the Constitution permit Nikah-Halala, a Quaranic rule stipulated for remarriage of a divorced woman to the same husband? If Allah is all Almighty and creator of this universe, how can he declare non-believers (kafirs) as second-grade human beings, objects of loot and taxation? One fails to reconcile  with the intents of the creator and the messenger?

In the Kannur district of Kerala, a police officer issued an advisory to a local mosque that given the communal situation restraint should be exercised in speeches after Friday Namaz. Kerala’s ruling communist dispensation instead of lauding the police officer transferred him on the plea that the advisory ran contrary to the policy of the government.  Euphemistically speaking, the Chief Minister thus issued certificate that Masjids are never used for communal propaganda. Had the Chief Minister known about the history of the Friday Namaz sermons, known as ‘Khutbah’ in Islamic practices, he would have probably been guarded in his response. It may be mentioned that once Islam made inroads into the subcontinent, the Khutbahs were read in the name of ‘Abbasid Caliphate’. In 16th century, Akbar ordered that it should be read in his name and thus it came to be known as ‘Badshahi Khutbahs’. The practice discontinued after the British established control. It was again resumed in 1897 after the Ottoman Empire had defeated the Greeks, and Muslims in the subcontinent were riding a new pan-Islamic high. Subsequently, the practice of Khutbahs in the name of Ottoman Caliphate was established. With the splintering of the Ottoman Empire after the World War-I, the Caliphate came to an end. The abolition of caliphate spurred the Khilafat Movement, which was supported by Mr Gandhi, which amounted to promoting pan-Islamism. The Khilafat movement in-turn led to Moplah rebellion leading to Hindu genocide by the Muslims. Annie-Besant and B.R. Ambedkar have vividly described this genocide in their writings. The mindset displayed by the present Kerala dispensation only perpetuates pan-Islamism.

Today, nationalism in Kerala   is pitted against pan-Islamism. The phenomenon of PFI, an affiliate of Al-Qaeda, therefore is least surprising. It is hardly surprising that the PFI has been recruiting for the Islamic State and sending women as sex slaves to Syria from Kerala.

Had Indians been taught and told about Caliphate and Khilafat Movement; had the facts of Moplah Hindu genocide not been suppressed;had the growth of jihadism not been ignored, the Islamic State, the Al-Qaeda and the PFI would not have found it convenient to spread their jihadi network with impunity. This author is of the view that Indian citizens should read the scriptures of all faiths. One must read the Quran to understand Islam. If one cannot read the Quran, then it is advised that they listen to Zakir Naik, who in his sermons is extremely loyal to the text. What Nupur Sharma said was validated by Zakir Naik long ago. Quoting Islamic scriptures, he justified the practice of sex-slaves by the Islamic State. The majority of Muslims in the subcontinent have never regarded any utterance from Zakir Naik as blasphemous.

And finally the decision to display the portrait of killer of former Chief Minister of Punjab Beant Singh in the museum of Golden Temple amounts to desecration of the Holy Shrine. Beant Singh was not only a Chief Minister, but also a Sikh. If some Sikhs decide to declare own fellow Sikhs as an enemy, and vilify him as such, then certainly they are guilty of assaulting the ‘purity’ of the Temple. Bhindranwale too had turned the Golden Temple into a military fortress. A DIG of the Punjab Police was targeted and killed from its precincts. He challenged India. The Indian Army took on the challenge and restored the sanctity of the Golden Temple. It was liberated from forcible occupation of Bhindranwale and his Khalistani associates.

Nevertheless, increasingly it appears that the Golden Temple was only physically liberated and not spiritually. Post liberation, there were only physical repairs, spiritual repairs were not even attempted. Consequently, there is a sizeable constituency, which has brought the Khalistani discourse back to the worrisome days of 80s and 90s.

In the first week of June, there were posters commemorating the birth anniversary of Bhindranwale in Ludhiana. Someone defaced it. The police invoked 295A on the plea that religious sentiments have been trifled with. The question that the State must answer is that who is a martyr, Bhindranwale, who declared war against the Nation, taking advantage of the Golden Temple, or those who sacrificed their lives in restoring its sanctity?The present  Punjab dispensation has betrayed its preference for the former, i.e. the Khalistanis.

Why Punjab is hurtling down to the 80s way? It’s because Guru Ganth Sahib is neither taught in schools and colleges nor read and explained at homes. Most Sikh homes have been starved of the wisdom of Great Gurus. It is therefore natural that half-educated ones became the arbiters of Sikh narrative. These half-educated have been rather easy leverages of external inimical powers. Sociologically, this is the segment whose contribution to Sikh theocracy and spiritualism has been zilch. They played only a secondary role in the military exploits of Guru Gobind Singh ji Maharaj and Maharaja Ranjit Singh. They acquired spearhead role by indulgence of the British. They are indeed a British creation. Those who were the cutting edge of the Sikh military power were relegated from the status of Kshatriyas to Khatri. This British creation captured the Gurudwaras and killed Sikh spirituality. Some of them are more beholden to Pakistan, Canada and England rather than the revered Sikh Gurus and Bharat Mata. Had the people been taught at large about various streams of Sikhism, i.e. Udhasi, Naamdhari, or Rai Sikhs; Sikhism would not have been hijacked and the Khalistan movement would have never found traction.

Religious or majhabi scriptures are passed on from one generation to another for knowledge, analysis, character building and nation-building. Shunning the study of religious scriptures have very dangerous consequences, because while text books change, religious scriptures especially the main Holy books are a constant, unchangeable thread that runs through generations. A generation may have great scientific achievements, but may be very poor in wisdom compared to the forebears. Given the relative eternity of the Holy books, like Quran, Bible, and the Guru Granth Sahib, they need to be permanent feature of our formal and informal education as well as nationalist discourse.

Each of the above three incidents are inspired by majhabi (religious) perceptions. These perceptions are driven by internal politics and geopolitics. They then crystalize into Political Islam and Political Sikhism. Consequently, there is hardly any space for spiritualism. Political Islam and Political Sikhism have external benefactors as well as internal political patrons. Political Islam and Political Sikhism have appropriated the ownership of their respective Holy books. Each has challenged writ of the central dispensation. They don’t share the dominant course of nation building.

When these Holy books are open, they promote wisdom; when they are shut they become political weapons and cause internecine and external wars. Pakistan’s proxy war is based on this ‘closed book’ culture. The maulvis in the madrasas and masjids have weaponized it. The proxies in India are in consonance because they too are products of ‘closed book’ culture.

Holy Books that remain closed and are not open for study, examination, interpretation and assimilation, perpetually keep a society and nation in a state of flux and instability. ‘Closed books’ are the oldest weapons, most dangerous and even deadlier than nuclear weapons.


By RSN Singh

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