Monkeys Kill 72-Year-Old With Shower Of Stolen Bricks
News 1 Day Ago
Newser — Josh Gardner
An elderly man is dead after a group of rogue monkeys stoned him to death by raining stolen bricks down from a tree. Per the Times of India, 72-year-old Dharampal Singh was collecting wood in Tikri, Uttar Pradesh, when his assailants began to throw their weapons, which they'd apparently stockpiled in a tree from a nearby dilapidated building.
Struck in the head and chest, Singh was reportedly taken to a hospital, where he later died.
The victim's family, including a brother who told reporters the monkeys threw some 20 bricks at Dharampal, has lodged a complaint about the nuisance turned deadly.
However, as Sky News reports, villagers have complained before to no avail. Defending themselves against suggestions they've failed to act, local police lamented that it's not within their power to charge animals with a crime, nor can authorities do anything that might harm the protected animals.
This article originally appeared on Newser: Monkeys Kill 72-Year-Old With Shower of Stolen Bricks.
Although an article of interest, it does not have anything to do with Islam and Hinduism. Perhaps it would have been posted under Current Issues --> Amazing Stories.
While posting this article, I had in mind weather it is an appropriate thread or not? In my mind came HANUMAN JI, a Hindu deity and brigade of monkeys. I thought it is interesting, thanks for pointing.
Yogi Adityanath, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, has instigated a programme of Mughal-era name changes.
An Indian city in a state led by a hard line Hindu nationalist preacher accused of instigating violence against Muslims has had its Muslim name changed to one with Hindu associations.
The state cabinet in Uttar Pradesh (U P) announced on Tuesday that it had approved the renaming of Allahabad as Prayagraj, which harks back to the city’s ancient appellation, Prayag, before it was changed by Mughal-era rulers in the late 16th century.
Prayag in Sanskrit means place for sacrifice, in reference to the Hindu belief that the creator of the universe, Brahma, made his first offering at the area in the city where the Ganges and Yamuna rivers meet.
The Uttar Pradesh health minister, Siddharth Nath Singh, told local media: “The city used to be known as Prayagraj since the beginning. To those who are opposing the decision, how would you feel if the name your parents gave you was to be changed?”
The city, about 400 miles (650km) south-east of the Indian capital, Delhi, is the ancestral home of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, which has produced three Indian prime ministers, including the country’s first, Jawarharlal Nehru.
It is also the site of one of India’s Kumbh melas – mass Hindu pilgrimages that are considered to be among the world’s largest religious festivals. The most recent was held in the city in 2013 and attended by an estimated 100 million worshippers.
Changing Allahabad’s name has been a longstanding demand of Hindu nationalist groups in India which regard the three centuries in which huge areas of the subcontinent were ruled by Mughal dynasties as a period of foreign occupation.
The traditional view of Indian leaders has been that the Mughals integrated with the largely Hindu society around them, forging a unique blended culture over time.
In the decades since independence in 1947, the country has gradually thrown off British imperial-era names such as Bombay (now Mumbai), Pondicherry (now Puducherry) and Madras (now Chennai).
Under Uttar Pradesh’s chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, the state has also started replacing Mughal-era names.
Last year, Mughalsarai Junction railway station in the state was renamed Deen Dayal Upadhyay Junction railway station, after a Hindu nationalist thinker and politician.
The Uttar Pradesh energy minister, Shrikant Sharma, said more names were likely to be changed. “It is the right of the government to rename any city,” he said. “If needed, we will rename more cities and roads. The mistakes done earlier will be rectified.”
There is an anecdote:
Two friends unable to adjust in city life left for parental village. On way back one asked other; What shall we do in village?
The reply was: We shall do agricultural work and plow the field.
Other friend replied: If we shall plow the field then what will bull do? There should be some work for bull.
BJP turns up Hindu nationalist heat with renamings, statue plan
Krishna N. Das Updated November 09, 2018
NEW DELHI: From getting rid of some Muslim names of places to promising a “grand” statue of the Hindu god Ram, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party is making passionate appeals to its hard-core Hindu nationalist base in the most politically important state ahead of a national election next year.
A near clean-sweep in Uttar Pradesh, the northern state of 220 million people that sends the highest number of lawmakers to the lower house of parliament, helped Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) win its biggest mandate in three decades in 2014.
Political strategists say keeping its mainly Hindu base intact in Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere would be crucial to repeat such a performance, but there are also concerns that the BJP has been turning up the heat on divisive religious issues.
Yogi Adityanath, a robe-wearing Hindu priest who is the BJP chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, on Tuesday changed the name of Faizabad district to Ayodhya, the place where Hindus believe Lord Ram was born thousands of years ago. Before the change, Ayodhya was the name of a town in Faizabad.
Last month, he changed the name of Allahabad, where three rivers considered holy by Hindus meet, to the Hindu name Prayagraj.
Both Faizabad and Allahabad were Islamic names given to places hundreds of years ago by India’s then Muslim rulers.
“Ayodhya is our honour, prestige and pride,” Adityanath said at an event in the town, declaring the name change amid loud cheers from the audience.
“Ayodhya is identified with Lord Ram.”
He said the state would decide on a location for a statue of Ram that could become an Ayodhya landmark. He also promised to open an airport in the district that would be named after Ram.
Many leaders of the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the Hindu-first group from which the BJP was born, are demanding the government issue an executive order that would bypass the Supreme Court so that they can build a Ram temple at a highly controversial religious site in Ayodhya. The destruction of a mosque on that site by a frenzied Hindu mob in 1992 sparked deadly riots across the country.
At the moment the site is under court control. There are fears that communal tensions between the majority Hindu population and Muslims, the biggest minority group in India with more than 170 million people, could flare again if the status quo is disturbed.
The moves aren’t limited to Uttar Pradesh. In the western state of Gujarat, the BJP government there is also considering changing the name of the state’s commercial centre, Ahmedabad, a name given to it by a former Muslim ruler.
And only last week, Gujarat unveiled the world’s tallest statue, a $400 million effigy of independence hero Vallabhbhai Patel that is nearly twice the height of New York’s Statue of Liberty as part of a BJP campaign to re-brand what it terms “forgotten” leaders.—Reuters
How shrines helped indigenise Islam and Christianity in South Asia
Combined, these folk religious traditions serve as an important symbol. One of the oft-repeated accusations of right-wing Hindu nationalists against Islam has been its foreignness in the Indian peninsula.
Even 1,300 years after the arrival of this religion into the region it is asserted by some that it does not belong here. Such a criticism lacks an understanding of the cultural development of the religion in India.
As it reached the peripheral towns and villages of India, it was adopted, owned and indigenised. It is these folk religious shrines mentioned above that emerged out of this process, all of them deeply linked with their geographical surroundings.
In fact, it is not just Islam, but Christianity that also underwent a similar process. About a 100-odd kilometres from Lahore is the small town of Maryamabad developed around the shrine of Mary.
A little before Partition, a couple of local Christian men said they saw the figure of Mary appear here. A small shrine was constructed at the spot. In the 1980s, it was reported that a few children said they saw an image of Mary once again.
As the story of these sightings spread to other parts of the country, the number of pilgrims to the shrine increased. Since then many saints have been reportedly sighted here.
Much like folk Islam that used the geography of the region to evoke spirituality, folk Christianity too, represented by this shrine, found an actual geographical legitimisation, as a counter to Christianity or Islam being foreign to this land. A statue of Mary was raised on a small mound here and a shrine was constructed around it.
There are many Muslim shrines in Sindh which are venerated by the Hindu community. Some of the most popular Sufi shrines which are frequented by them include the shrines of Sufi saints Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, Shah Inayat and Sachal Sarmast. Apart from these popular Sufi shrines, there are many lesser known shrines of Muslim saints which are also revered by the Hindus. These lesser known shrines are located in every district of Sindh. In fact, the tombs over the graves of a majority of lesser known saints in three districts of Sindh – Umarkot, Tharparkar and Jamshoro – have been built by Hindus. In Thana Bula Khan tehsil of Jamshoro district, barring one or two shrines, impressive structures have been built over all other graves of Muslim saints. They include the shrines of Sumbak Sawai, Pir Gebi, Mai Umeedi, and Jam Lohar. Of these, the shrine of Jam Lohar is the most popular, venerated by both Hindus and Muslims. Jam Lohar lived in the 16th century and was famous for his generosity and piety. He preferred to lead a virtuous life after the death of his father Jam Aari, who was the chief of the Numeria Burfats. Being the eldest son of Jam Aari, he was designated as the new chief of the Burfats by the tribesmen but he refused to become the chief. He preferred to lead an ascetic life. Instead his brother Jam Hamal was made the new chief of the tribe. Jam Aari had four sons Jam Lohar, Jam Hamal, Jam Bapro and Jam Baadin – from whom sprang the lineages of Loharanis, Hamalanis, Barpranis and Mardois respectively.
Mithi: Where a Hindu fasts and a Muslim does not slaughter cows
Hassan Raza Updated March 04, 2015
Pakistan has become synonymous with terrorism. On most local and international news channels, we hear about minorities getting slaughtered at the hands of extremists; attacks on temples, churches, imambargahs; or the forced conversions of Hindus and Christians in the country.
I reckon you might be pleasantly surprised to know that there is a small town in Tharparkar, a district of the Sindh province where none of this is happening.
Mithi is one of the few towns in Pakistan where Muslims do not form the majority. In this quiet portion of a sprawling desert, both Hindus and Muslims have lived together like brothers since the creation of Pakistan.
In November 2014, when I was selected for a three-week fellowship programme in the United States, I met a gentleman from Sindh who was also among my batch. He introduced himself like this:
"I am a Hindu from Sindh, but throughout my life I have lived with Muslims and this is why during Ramazan, we fast along with them; and when it is Muharram, us Hindu boys lead the procession because this is the culture which Sufism has given us".
I was dumbstruck at the idea of a Hindu fasting in Ramazan or leading a Muharram procession. Was this actually true?
Then, in February this year, I happened to travel to Tharparkar with friends to view the drought-affected areas and launch some projects to overcome the disaster that hits every year. After a 20-hour arduous road and rail journey, I finally reached the quaint little town of Mithi, and here I experienced what I had never expected to see in a Pakistani town.
Mithi is as sweet as the name it has been given. Approximately 80 per cent of the population here is Hindu. It is a town where Muslims, out of respect for Hindus, do not slaughter cows; and where Hindus, out of respect for Muslim rites, have never organised any marriage ceremonies or celebrations during the month of Muharram.
Not only that, the Hindus of Mithi also happily participate in providing food and drinks for Muslims during Ramazan, and both groups exchange sweets on Eid and Diwali. The crime rate in Mithi is at two per cent and never has anyone witnessed any incident of religious intolerance.
Speaking with the locals of Mithi, I discovered that here, one could find Hindu speakers organizing majaalis in Muharram – something I haven't seen anywhere else in Pakistan – and as my friend in the United States had stated, I heard Hindus sharing their account of Muharram, where they led Ashura processions and provided assistance to procession members in a city where Muslims hardly made up 20 per cent of the population.
A Muslim resident of Thar shared his account by saying:
"In our village, Hindus and Muslims have been living together for decades and there has not been a single day, when I have seen a religious conflict. No loud speaker is used for Azaan at the time when Hindus are worshiping in their temple, and no bells are rung when it is time for namaz. Nobody eats in public when it is Ramazan and Holi is played by every member of the village."
I had always heard stories about interfaith harmony from Sindh but it was so much more amazing to see it firsthand. The love and brotherhood that exists between the Hindus and Muslims of Mithi is a perfect example of pluralism and the tolerant Sufi culture of Sindh.
If you think Pakistan is all about bombing churches, destroying temples, Talibanisation, slaughtering religious minorities, and forced conversion, I would request you to visit Mithi at least once.
Mithi gives interfaith harmony a new meaning. Religious intolerance elsewhere has barely made a dent in Hindu-Muslim brotherhood over here. They live, eat, and work together, because according to them, it is in their culture.
People can and do coexist. It is only the bigots who cannot, and they can be found in every religious group. We must not let them take over the beautiful communities of Pakistan.
Respecting each others' beliefs is the solution of a lot of Pakistan's current predicaments. Religions differ, humans don't.
Hassan Raza is a journalism student.
He works passionately to bridge the gaps between people of all religious communities within Pakistan.
Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro on the many strands of spirituality which are brought together in the veneration for Jhulelal or Shaikh Tahir
Siting at the main door of Jhulelal/ShaikhTahir’s tomb, his Muslim devotee gestures to the Muslim women to put a scarf on their heads before entering the temple of Jhulelal as a mark of respect to the saint and on other side is a Hindu caretaker of the temple, asking Hindu women to prostrate before the shrine. When I ask him which religion he belongs to, it turns out he carries dual identities. He smiles at my question and remarks that he belongs to both religions.
Both kinds of the devotees, Muslim as well as Hindu, are carrying forward the centuries old shared heritage of Sindh – a hallmark of Sindhi society. The development and emergence of shared spiritual spaces should be seen in the context of events that took place in Sindh from the eleventh to the eighteenth centuries.
Jhulelal/ShaikhTahir is perhaps the best example in the Indian Subcontinent to see both Muslims and Hindus worshipping in a shared space where the mosque and temple stand side by side. And yet there are many such shared spaces or syncretic shrines in Lower Sindh especially in the districts of Thatta and Badin – where both Muslim and Hindus venerate the saints but never fight over the dual identities of those very saints.
' Whenever sins increase beyond a limit and religion itself is endangered,
then I shall come in the form of an Avatar (incarnate)
to mitigate the sufferings of my worshippers.' - Bhagvad Gita
Written by: Motilal L. Butani (Former Sessions Judge & Principal Law College in Bombay)
ASHT DEV OF SINDHIS
Faith has established Jhulelal as the Asht Dev (Community God) of Sindhis. His birthday 'Cheti Chand' - second tithi of Chaitra is auspicious for Sindhi and is celebrated the world over with traditional pomp and gaiety.
But, how, when and where in history was the Lord of Sindh born? The Hindu legend of Jhulelal or the River Deity has its historical or semi-historical beginnings in Sindh, an erstwhile province of united India and now a state of Pakistan. During the days of Sapt-Sindhu (land of seven rivers), the mainstream Sindhu and its tributaries were considered life-givers to the people who lived on its banks and drew sustenance from its waters. It was precisely the lure of plentiful water that brought invading hordes of Muslim rulers from the neighboring Arabian Kingdoms to Sindh and India.
MUSLIM INVADER MIRKSHAH CONQUERS SIND
Having conquered Sindh and its adjoining territories, they spread Islam at the point of the sword. In the 10th century AD Miskshah, a tyrant and a fanatic, ruled Thatta. He and as was surrounded by sycophants who advised him to. "Spread Islam and be granted 'Janat' or eternal bliss after death. " Swayed by the promise, Mirkshah summoned the 'panchs' (representatives) of the Hindus and ordered them "Embrace Islam or prepare to die. "
HINDUS UNDER THREAT
The terrified Hindus begged Mirkshah for time to consider the 'shahi firman' or royal edict. The pompous Mirkshah relented and agreed to give the desperate Hindus forty days to plead with their God. Faced with imminent death, the Hindus turned to God Varuna, the God of the River, to come to their aid. For forty days, they underwent penance. They neither shaved nor wore new clothes, praying, fasting and singing songs in the praise of God Varuna. They beseeched him to deliver them from the hands of their persecutor.
BIRTH OF A CHILD
On the fortieth day, a voice was heard from Heaven: "Fear not. I shall save you from the wicked Mirkshah. I shall come down as a mortal and take birth in the womb of Mata Devki in the house of Ratanchand Lohano of Nasarpur." After forty days of chaliho, the followers of Jhulelal even today celebrate the occasion with festivity as 'Thanksgiving Day.' The oppressed Hindus now anxiously awaited the birth of their delivers. After three months, the second tithi of Asu month, they got the confirmation of the news that Mata Devki had indeed conceived. The River God had incarnated himself in her womb.
OLD MAN ON A PALA FISH
The Hindus rejoiced and praised the Lord. On Cheti Chand, two tithis from the new moon of Chaitra, Mata Devki gave birth to a bonny boy. A miracle hailed the child's birth. The babe opened his mouth and behold there flowed the Sindhu with an old man sitting cross-legged on a pala fish. The pala fish as everyone knows is a tasty fish, which always swims against the current.
UDEROLAL / AMARLAL / JHULELAL
To welcome the newborn avatar, unseasonal clouds gathered and brought down torential rains. The child was named 'Udaichand' (Uday in Sanskrit means moonbeams).
Udaichand was to be the light in the darkness. An astrologer who saw the child predicted he would grow up to be a great warrior his fame would outlive the child. Udaichand was also called 'Uderolal" (Udero in Sanskrit means 'one who has sprung from water'). Inhabitants of Nasarpur lovingly called the child 'Amarlal' (immortal child). The cradle where little Udero rested began to sway to and fro on his own. It is because of this that 'Uderolal' became popularly known as 'Jhulelal' or the swinging child. Soon after the child's birth Mata Devki passed away. A little later Ratanchand remarried.
News of the birth of the mysterious child reached Mirkshah who once again summoned the Panchs and repeated his royal threat. Hindus, now quite confident that their saviors had arrived, implored him for some more time. The maulvis pressed Mirkshah not to let the Hindus off the hook. But the very thought of the child proving more than a match for him amused the conceited ruler. He, therefore, told the maulvis to wait and watch.
As a token of precaution, he asked one of his ministers, Ahirio, to go to Nasarpur to see things first hand. Ahirio did not want to take any chances. So he took along a rose dipped in deadly poison. At the very first glimpse of the child, Ahiro was astonished. He had never seen a child so dazzling or more charming. He hesitated; then mustering courage offered the rose to the child. The child gave meaningful smile while accepting the rose. He then blew away the flower with a single breath. The flower fell at Ahiro's feet. Ahiro watched stupefied as the babe changed into an old man with a long beard. All of a sudden the old man turned into a lad of sixteen. And then as Uderolal on horseback with a blazing sword in his hand. There were row upon row of warriors behind him. A cold shiver ran down Ahiro's spine and he head in reverence. "Have mercy on me Sindhu Lord," he prayed "I am convinced."
On his return Ahirio narrated the miraculous happening to Mirkshah. But Mirkshah was not convinced. He hardened his heart even more.
"How can a little baby turn into an old man?" he mocked,
"It looks like you have been fooled by simple magic."
MIRSHAH IS SCARED
But in his heart, Mirkshah was afraid. That night he dreamt that a child was sitting on his neck. The vision changed to an old man with a flowing beard. And again to a warrior with a drawn sword confronting Mirkshah on the battlefield. Next morning Mirkshah called for Ahirio and gave him orders to counter the threat posed by the child. Ahirio, however, advised Mirkshah not to rush.
MIRACULOUS CHILD UDEROLAL
Meanwhile, the child Uderolal grew in stature and spirit, performing miracles and comforting the sick. Residents of Nasarpur were fully convinced that God had visited them to fulfill the Gita. Uderolal also received the 'Gur Mantar' of 'Alakh Niranjan' from Gorakhnath.
To earn money for the family, Udero's step-mother would send him to the market to sell baked beans. Instead of going to the market, Uderolal would go to the banks of the Sindhu River. There, he would distribute half of the beans among beggars, the poor and the sadhus. The other half, he would offer to the Sindhu. He would then spend the rest of the day speaking to little children and the elderly about spiritual wealth. In the evening when it was time to go home, Udero would fish out from the river a container full of fine quality of rice. He would take this home and give it to his stepmother. Growing suspicious about her stepson's behaviour, one day the stepmother dispatched Ratanchand to follow him. When Ratanchand witnessed the miracle, he bowed to Uderolal from a distance and accepted him as the Savior.
Mirkshah on the other hand was being pressurized by the maulvis to bring Hindu infidels into the fold of Islam. They gave him the ultimatum. "Order the Hindus to convert orbe branded as an associate of Kafirs." Fearing the wrath of the clerics, Mirkshah decided to meet Uderolal face to face. He asked Ahirio to arrange for a private meeting with Udero.
Ahirio, who had in the meantime become a devotee of Daryashah, went to the banks of the Indus and pleaded with the Water God to come to his rescue. To Ahirio's amazement, he saw the same man with white beard floating on a pala fish. Ahirio's head bowed in adoration and he understood that Uderolal, the Water God, was in fact the other form of Khwaja Khirz. Ahirio then saw Udero leap onto a horse and gallop away with a sword in one hand and a flag in the other. Udero appeared before Mirkshah and explained to the stubborn ruler: "Whatever you see around you is the creation of only one God, whom you call 'Allah' and the Hindus call 'Ishwar.' The maulvis urged Mirkshah not to pay any heed to the infidel's talks and to arrest him.
MIRAKSHAH ORDERS UDERO'S ARREST
Mirkshah ordered his soldiers to arrest Udero. As the officials of the court moved towards Udero, great waves of water leaped forth inundating the courtyard and drowning Mirkshah and his courtiers. Fire too broke out and the flames consumed the palace. All escape routes were sealed. Udero spoke aga' "Mirkshah, think it over. Your God and mine are the same. Then why did you prosecute my people?" Mirkshah was terrified and begged Lord Udero, "I realize my fool hardiness. Please save my courtiers." All at once the water receded and the fire died away. Mirkshah bowed respectfully and agreed to treat Hindus alike. Before they dispersed, Uderolal I told the Hindus to think of him as the embodiment of light and water. He also told them to build a temple in memory of transformation of Mirkshah. "Day in and day out," he said "light a candle in the temple and always keep available water for daat (holy sip)."
SEVEN SYMBOLIC ELEMENTS
Uderola named his cousin Pagad as the first Thakur (priest of the religious sect that believes in Water God). Pagad followed Uderolal wherever he went. Uderolal gave seven symbolic things to Pagad. These seven form the elements of the Daryahi sect. He asked Pagad to continue the sacred work of temples and spreading his message. Selecting a place near village Thijahar, Uderolal gave up his earthly form. Both Muslims were present in a large numbers to witness this mysterious happening. were also there.
SHRINE ACCEPTABLE TO ALL
No sooner Udherolal's soul left his body, they took and wanted to build a 'Turbat' or ‘Qaba’ at the site according to the dictates of The Hindus wanted to erect a ‘Samadhi’ according to Hindu custom. While the debate raged, heavy rains came down and a voice said:
"Behold! You shall make my shrine acceptable both to Hindus and Muslims.
Let its one face be a temple and the other a Dargah (shrine). I belong to all of you." Jhulelal continues to be the unifying force and the center of all cultural activities of the Sindhi community.
Sindhis all over the world greet each other with "Jhulelal - Bera Hee Paar".
During a trip to India in early 1984 (my first and last), I was a second-year student at a college in Karachi. My fellow travelers on that trip were three friends, all of them Sindhi-speaking. We had traveled to Mumbai (then called Bombay) for a vacation.
We stayed in low-rent hotels in Mumbai, Poona and Goa, even though one of my Sindhi friends had some distant relatives in Mumbai.
But it turned out that the relatives were not relatives at all. To begin with, they were Hindu. They had been neighbors of the friend’s family in Sukkur before the creation of Pakistan in 1947 and had migrated to India in March 1948.
We visited their home (an apartment) during the tail-end of our trip. In their drawing room was a huge painting of a bearded man sitting on a lotus flower in the middle of a river surrounded by a school of fish that seemed to be swimming in a circle around him.
I asked the family about the image. They told me that the man was Jhulay Lal who was the patron saint of Sindhi Hindus. I was told every Sindhi home in India had a picture of him.
Two years later, I was travelling across the interior Sindh with another group of friends. We were all members of a progressive student outfit at our college.
Our plan was to drive up to the town of Dadu and try meeting Sindhi scholar, GM Syed, who was reported to be under house arrest there. Though I was opposed to Syed’s political aspect of Sindhi nationalism, I was, nevertheless, a great admirer of his more scholarly work, especially of his book Religion and Reality in which he had painstakingly charted the centuries-old evolution of Sufism in the Sindh region.
I believe he did mention Jhulay Lal in passing in his book, but I wasn’t sure because I had read it in 1983 during my first year in college. No, it wasn’t part of the curriculum.
Our group of student activists was unable to meet Syed. He was not in Dadu. On our way back to Karachi, we stopped at a rickety eatery in a village in the Sanghar District. As we entered the place for a cup of tea and some cigarettes, the first thing I noticed on a mud wall was a poster. It was of Jhulay Lal!
Paracha unearths some astounding facts about the revered saint’s life
I had forgotten about him. But it was the same image I had first come across in a Mumbai home. A man with a flowing white beard, sitting on a lotus flower in the middle of a river and surrounded by a couple of silver fish.
But there was one difference. In the image of his that I had seen in Mumbai, he was holding a rosary whose beads had tiny inscriptions carved in the Sanskrit language. But in the poster at the eatery, he was holding and reading the Muslim Holy Book.
Intrigued, I asked a Sindhi friend of mine in the group, who the man was. ‘Arey Paracha Sain, tum ko nahi pata? Yeh Baba Shaikh Tahir hai …’ (You don’t know? He is Baba Shaikh Tahir).
I told him that I had seen an image of him in the home of a Sindhi Hindu family in India and that they had called him Jhulay Lal. The friend began to laugh at my confusion. He excused the others in the group and drove me some 50km away from the village to a small, dusty town called Udero Lal.
In this town, he took me to a beautiful and spacious white shrine with prominent domes. Here is where Shaikh Tahir was buried, I was told. He then made me meet one of the keepers of the shrine. The keeper was a Sindhi and could not speak any Urdu. But somehow he could speak Punjabi fluently!
He told me that the shrine was constructed in the 17th century, 1684 CE to be precise, according to Din Mohammad Vai’s Tazkirah-i-Mashahir-i-Sindh.
The keeper claimed that Shaikh Tahir was born a Hindu but converted to Islam as a teen. His Hindu name was Udero Lal. The shrine is frequented by Muslims as well as Hindus of Sindh and the group of keepers that look after the shrine, also includes Hindus.
Another fascinating aspect of the shrine was a slight room that held a steadily burning flame. The flame has been kept burning by generations of keepers for over 400 years now. The keeper I was talking to, didn’t know exactly why.
The keeper informed me: ‘Udero Lal was an upright man with a strong strain of inner spirituality. It was because of him that the Hindus of Sindh were different because they did not practice the caste system …’
This seems to be correct. Famous 19th century British traveller, Richard Francis Burton, in his writings that he authored during his long stay in Sindh in the mid-1800s, wrote: ‘Hinduism in Sindh is mixed and has adopted many aspects of Islam and Sikhism. The Hindus (of Sindh) often become followers of Muslim saints here …’
Impressed by Lal’s spiritual disposition and work against the caste system, a Muslim Sufi saint from Multan is said to have converted him to Islam. ‘This is when Udero Lal became Sheikh Tahir,’ the keeper had told me.
He said despite this, Hindus of the area continued to revere him, and so did thousands of Lal’s Muslim devotees.
On our way back to Sanghar, I asked my friend, why Sheikh Tahir continues to sit on a lotus flower in the middle of a river in all of his images. The friend had responded by saying that Hindus of Sindh believed that he had emerged from the River Indus. He added that the Muslims began to believe the same when they saw palla fish (indigenous to Indus), circling a small shrine of Lal that is located on an island in the middle of the river near the city of Bhakkar (in South Punjab).
Interestingly, in Bhakkar, Jhulay Lal is called Khwaja Khizar. In 1991 while editing an article written (on the Bhakkar shrine) by a French anthropologist for the English weekly magazine I used to work for, I learned that indeed, schools of palla did go in circles around the tiny island. But he added that this was due to the mating and feeding cycles of the fish. So, in a way, ancient Muslims and Hindus of the region were explaining a purely natural and scientific phenomenon through mystical imagery.
Jhulay Lal is not as major a Sufi saint in Sindh as are the great Shah Latif and the mighty Lal Shahbaz. Yet, it was Jhulay Lal who ended up on the walls of Sindhi-speakers in India. I’ve always wondered why.
This inquiry of mine finally came to a full circle when I got the answer only two years ago in the Michel Boivin and Matthew Cook edited book, Interpreting the Sindh World.
In an essay (for the book) on the saint, L. Parwani suggests that when hundreds of Sindhi Hindus migrated to India during Partition in 1947, they felt spiritually alienated in India because they could not relate to the forms of Hinduism practiced there.
Parwani informs that after noticing this, one Professor Ram Panjwani, a Sindhi educationist, began a hectic movement among the Sindhi Hindus in India to revitalise Jhulay Lal as their main deity. He succeeded, and to this day most Sindhi Hindus in India revere a saint that their elders had brought from Sindh.
How Caste Underpins the Blasphemy Crisis in Pakistan
Caste discrimination against Christians, whose ancestors were lower-caste Hindus, persists in the country.
When Pakistan was created after the partition of colonial India, upper-caste Hindus and Sikhs fled or were forced to leave for India, leaving their poorer and less mobile lower-caste coreligionists behind.
In the southern province of Sindh, some upper-caste landowners stayed, while low-caste Hindus took the religion, its temples and practices into their hands in a startling departure from Hindu tradition that has no Indian counterpart. In Punjab Province, former “untouchables” accelerated their conversion to Christianity, taking given names common among their Muslim neighbors while replacing the caste surnames with appellations like “Masih,” the Urdu word for Jesus in his role as Messiah.
Discrimination and ethnic cleansing reduced the population of non-Muslims in Pakistan from about 30 percent at its creation in 1947 to less than 5 percent now. Yet the nearly absolute majority of Muslims in the country has not reduced religious conflict, but rather displaced, increased and internalized it among Muslims.
It is now Muslims, especially in Punjab, who maintain a caste hierarchy. And since Islamic beliefs don’t include a caste system, the discrimination cannot be defined in terms of caste and is labeled religious. This shift was illustrated by turning Bibi’s quarrel over sharing water into blasphemy.
Perhaps Asia Bibi mentioned to her three accusers how the Muslim prophet and religion did not permit such discrimination. But in Pakistan, neither the Christians, who are understood to have been low-caste Hindus, nor the Muslims, who have adopted the role of their high-caste coreligionists, can refer to the vanished past that mediates their relations.
Hindus worldwide will soon observe Krishna Janmashtami, a celebration of Lord Krishna’s birth. While many recognize the differences between Islam and Hinduism, few may appreciate that according to Islamic principles and Prophet Muhammad, Lord Krishna was a true Prophet of God.
The obvious question that emerges is that if the same God sent Lord Krishna and Prophet Muhammad, why do Islam and Hinduism have notable theological differences? Simply put, Islam only argues that the original core teachings of Hinduism and Islam are the same — the unity of God and the obligation to serve mankind. Furthermore, nothing in the Quran, Sunnah or Hadith declares that Lord Krishna was not a prophet. Thus, this short article offers nine points to consider — together — that Lord Krishna is a true prophet of God, a prophet whom Muslims also revere along with their fellow Hindu neighbors.
1. First, the Quran is the only ancient scripture that specifically mentions and praises other faiths. While the Quran mentions Jews and Christians specifically, in numerous places, likewise, it mentions Hindus in a group known as the Sabians. Sabians refer to non-Abrahamic traditions — Hindus, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, Taoists, etc. Thus, recognition of Hinduism exists in the Quran.
2. Islam teaches six Articles of Faith. The Fourth Article of Faith is the belief in all of God’s prophets. This simple Article of Faith provides further credence to recognizing Lord Krishna as a prophet sent to the Indian subcontinent.
3. The Quran is clear that God’s Divine guidance is not exclusive to any one people. Rather the Quran says that God sent “messengers to every people“ and “We raised among every people a messenger“ (16:37). Prophet Muhammad further declared that God has sent no less than 124,000 prophets to mankind throughout history (Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, 5, 169) of which only 28 are mentioned in the Quran. None of those 28 prophets are mentioned as being sent to the Indian subcontinent. Thus, it is perfectly reasonable that Lord Krishna is one of the many prophets God sent with His Divine message.
4. Segueing from the previous point, the Quran clearly declares, “And We sent some Messengers whom We have already mentioned to thee and some Messengers whom We have not mentioned to thee...“ (4:165). Thus, to declare that Lord Krishna is not a prophet simply because the Quran does not mention him is a meritless argument.
5. Remarkably, Prophet Muhammad declared, “There was a prophet of God in India who is dark in color and his name was Kahan [Krishna]” (History of Hamadan Dailmi Chapter Al-Kaaf). Some critics allege this is not a Sahih (authentic) hadith, and while their assessment could be valid, their conclusion that the hadith should be discarded is invalid. Basic Islamic jurisprudence holds that if a hadith does not contradict the Quran, then it may be accepted as valid. As mentioned earlier, nothing in the Quran, Sunnah or Hadith declare that Lord Krishna was not a prophet of God. Thus, Prophet Muhammad’s testimony provides clear guidance of Lord Krishna’s status in Islam — that of a prophet. In fact, a renowned early 19th century Muslim scholar, Muhammad Qasim Nanotwi also was of the opinion that considering the evidence and this hadith, Lord Krishna was a true Prophet of God (Dharam Parchar Pg 8 & Debate Shah Jahan Pur Pg 31).
6. Islam’s Third Article of Faith is the Belief in God’s Books. This is why Muslims revere the Injeel (Gospels) and Torah (Old Testament). Thus, it is only logical that Muslims also revere the Gita and Vedas, Hinduism’s holy scriptures from which Lord Krishna taught.
7. Earlier it is mentioned that both Islam and Hinduism teach the unity of God and service of mankind — a message both Prophet Muhammad and Lord Krishna taught. In fact, the Vedas state, “There is only one God, worship Him“ (Rig Veda, 6.45.16) and “Do not worship any one beside Him“ (Rig Veda 8.1.1) and also, “God is only one, not a second“ (Chandogya Upanishad Ch. 6.2.1). Furthermore, countless verses in the Vedas teach the service of mankind. For example, “Oh Noble men! We do not commit violence. We do not hurt others. We do not quarrel either. We of course chant Vedas and act according to its dictates“ (Rig Veda 10.134.7) and “Every man should protect the other in all respects“ (Atharva 6.64.1). Again, while admitted theological differences exist between Islam and Hinduism today, no doubt exists that Prophet Muhammad and Lord Krishna both taught God’s unity and service to mankind.
8. Furthermore, Lord Krishna’s scriptures clearly prophesize Prophet Muhammad’s advent in multiple places. We provide just two. Bhavisyath Purana 3:5-8 states, “A spiritual reformer will come from a foreign land (outside Bharat) with his disciples. His name will be Mahamad. He will dwell in a desert.” Likewise, “His [Mahamad’s] followers will perform circumcision. They will not keep their hair in the form of Choti as the Brahmans do. They will keep beard. They will bring about a revolution. They will call with a loud voice [i.e. Adhaan]. They will eat meat of animals other than that of swine. They will attain purity through Jihad (of nafs). Their civilization will be called Muslay [Muslim].” For the sake of brevity we will avoid further commentary on these verses as they speak volumes on their own. Suffice it to say, however, that these verses further support the argument that the same God who sent Prophet Muhammad, sent Lord Krishna. Earlier we provided Prophet Muhammad’s hadith validating Lord Krishna, and now we provide Lord Krishna’s holy scripture validating Prophet Muhammad. What further proof do we need that Prophet Muhammad and Lord Krishna are brothers cut from the same mold?
9. Finally, in the Quran, God gives Prophet Muhammad the auspicious title of Khataman Nabiyeen or Seal of the Prophets (33:41). While some limit this title’s meaning to “last,” from Hadith and authentic Arabic lexicon it is clear that the true import of “Seal” is Greatness and Validation. That is, Prophet Muhammad is called not only the greatest prophet, but also the Validation of all prophets. Thus, it makes perfect sense why Prophet Muhammad specifically called Lord Krishna a Prophet — part of his purpose in coming was to declare to the world that God did not abandon any people. Rather, God sent His guidance and prophets to all people. In doing so, Prophet Muhammad validated Lord Krishna’s truthfulness — something no prophet of any faith outside of Islam has done. Thus, as human beings we must honor and revere all those prophets because the same God sent each of them — Lord Krishna being no exception.
A BRIEF HISTORY
Hindu nationalist history that calls Muslims “invaders” and Aryans “our own” is bogus
By Meghnad DesaiMarch 21, 2016
The following propositions are at the core of the Hindu nationalist doctrine:
India has always been a single nation since prehistoric times as Bharatavarsha or Aryabhoomi.
India got enslaved when Muslim invaders came from the North-west from the eighth century onwards—Mohammad Bin Qasim and then Mahmud Ghaznavi followed by the Delhi Sultanate and then the Mughal Empire. Muslims are foreigners. The corollary of this xenophobia is to deny that the Aryans came to India from elsewhere. There is a tension about reconciling the Indus Valley culture with the story of Aryan incursions. The Hindu nationalists deny point-blank that Aryans were foreigners.
The British did not create a single Indian entity. It was always there. The education which Macaulay introduced created the elite—Macaulay-putras—who behave and think like foreigners.
In 1947, 1,200 years of slavery came to an end. (Narendra Modi said as much during his first speech in the Central Hall of Parliament after his election.) India was at last free to assert its true identity as a Hindu nation.
Congress secularists, however, went on privileging Muslims whose loyalty is always to be doubted as their nation is Pakistan.
These propositions raise several conceptual and historical issues. Let’s examine them.
First, there is the issue of the native versus the foreigner. The British were clearly foreigners. They came when they had a job to do and never settled in India or “colonized” it as they did Rhodesia or Australia.
Muslims emperors, on the other hand, did not go back and made India their home.This creates a problem for the Hindu nationalist. For him, the fact that they have been here for 1,200 years does not make them natives of India. They shall forever remain alien. This is a strange doctrine because India was the receptacle for many “foreign” tribes throughout its history—the Shakas, the Huns, the Scythians and many other “races”, all of whom converted to Hinduism. But, then, 1,200 years are not enough. What about the Aryans? Did the Aryans also not come from central Europe or the Arctic, as Tilak argued?
To say that the Aryans are foreigners would make Hinduism a foreign religion. The aborigines—tribals—would then be the only true natives, as some Dalit scholars have argued. That is why Hindu nationalists deny foreign origin of the Aryans. The Aryans have to be primordially native to suit the Hindu nationalist narrative which imagines a time when somehow instantaneously Hinduism was established across all of India thanks to the Vedas and the Brahmins performing sacrifices, etc. Sanskrit has to have the prime place as lingua franca of Hindu India for that reason.
This is the stuff of bogus history. The religion which Hindus practice has only a marginal relationship to the Vedas. The Vedic gods are no longer worshipped. Vishnu, Shiva and Kali appear in the Hindu pantheon at least 1,000 years after the Vedas. The slow spread of Brahmanism (as the religion should be properly called) from its Punjab heartland to Delhi region and then on to UP and Bihar has been well charted.
The importance of Pali and Ardhamagadhi in the propagation of Ajivikas, Jainism and Buddhism from the sixth century BCE onwards is also known. It took a thousand-year struggle between Buddhism and Brahmanism before the latter could declare a complete victory. India became a Hindu nation about the time the Adi Shankaracharya debated and defeated the Buddhists. If the chronology of Hindu nationalists is taken seriously, however, it should be soon after India became “slave” to Muslims.
The Hindu nationalist strategy is to deny any conflict between Buddhism and Brahmanism and claim that Buddha was an avatar of Vishnu. This assertion is not found till the seventh century CE in the Puranas, by which time Buddhism was on its way out. Hinduism is not enough to define India as a Hindu nation throughout its history.
Savarkar tried to square this circle in his essay on Hindutva. He was a modernist and not a devotee of religion. His idea of nation is derived from the then fashionable ideas of nationhood espoused by the newly born nations of Europe, many of them parts of the Habsburg Empire which broke up in 1918—Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia. Nationhood depended on territory and those born in the territory were members of the nation.
His Hindutva is not tied to Hinduism. It says that anyone born in the land of the Indus—Sindhu—is a Hindu and part of Hindutva. There is a subtext that Hindus are more so than Muslims. But Muslims can belong to Hindutva if they are loyal to the land of their birth. Subsequent Hindu nationalists have adopted the notion of Hindutva but not Savarkar’s secular doctrine.
As a history of India, the Hindu nationalist story is as partial as the story that the Nehruvian vision has created. Of course, they are both north India-biased stories. They take Delhi and its rulers to be all of India. Muslim raiders may have come in the eighth century to Sind and Saurashtra and in the twelfth century established the Delhi Sultanate. But they never penetrated south of the Vindhyas.
South India has a very different history about Muslim immigrants from that of north India. Nor did it “suffer” from Muslim rule till very late when Aurangzeb went to the south in the late seventeenth century. Hindu kingdoms were coexistent with Muslim ones in the south but that happened only in the middle of the second millennium. The whole idea of “1,200 years of slavery” is spurious. Assam was never conquered by any Muslim power.
But ultimately there will never be “true objective” history. There never is in any nation. Debates and reinterpretations go on forever. Patronage to academia can be used to commission histories to buttress the official line. The sanctity of dispassionate research can never be guaranteed if the funding is public. India, however, does not have the tradition of private philanthropy for research. The government guards all the doors to higher education, thanks to the statist bias of the Congress which ruled for the first thirty years uninterruptedly. This bias has permeated the Bharatiya Janata Party as well.
It is not the idea of Hindu nationalism that is worrying. It is that the government will be the propagator of this particular view.
Excerpted with permission from “India as a Hindu Nation – and Other Ideas of India”, Meghnad Desai, from Making Sense of Modi’s India, HarperCollins India.
Millions of Indians Trek to the Ganges, and Modi Chases Their Votes
But at the Kumbh, most everybody is Hindu and most seem perfectly happy benefiting from the state sponsorship of their religion, even as other communities are suffering out of sight.
For example, months ago, to ensure the Ganges was as clean as possible for the busloads, trainloads and masses of Hindus coming for their spiritual immersion, Mr. Adityanath went after the tanneries that line the Ganges upstream from Prayagraj.
The tannery business is dominated by India’s Muslim minority and lower-caste Hindus who do not subscribe to the same strict rules about cows that some conservative Hindus follow. But conservative Hindus are the B.J.P.’s base, and Mr. Adityanath ordered the tanneries closed for three months, the longest anyone can remember.
Some tannery owners even went to court, but they were effectively shut down. Now, as tens of millions of Hindus celebrate the Kumbh, countless Muslims and lower-caste tannery employees are out of work.
“This is done purposely just to hurt one segment of society, the Muslim community,’’ said Taj Alam, vice president of the Uttar Pradesh Leather Industry Association.
Who speaks for Muslims in Lok Sabha? The answer is quite tricky
Representation is just a necessary and not a sufficient condition to ensure that relevant Muslim issues find a voice in Parliament.
ANALYSIS Updated: Mar 26, 2019
According to an analysis, there were 1,875 unique instances of questions raised in Lok Sabha about Muslims between 1999 and 2017.
Muslims are witnessing two contradictory trends in Indian democracy. Between 2001 and 2011, the share of Muslim population in India increased from 13.4% to 14.2%. This rise in share, however, has not led to a rise in share of Muslim members of Parliament (MPs) in Lok Sabha. In fact, the 2014 Lok Sabha had the lowest share of Muslim MPs in India. One of the biggest reasons for this was that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which got a majority in the 2014 elections, gave less than 2% of its tickets to Muslim candidates, and none of them were elected.
Should this be a matter of concern? The answer to this question depends on whether political representation for a community is necessary for voicing its concerns in the legislature. One useful way to measure this is to look at the questions MPs ask about Muslims in India.
Using natural language processing algorithms, we were able to extract and analyse more than 1,800 questions about Muslims raised in the Question Hour in the last 20 years.
Muslim MPs have had a greater relative share in questions asked about Muslims in Lok Sabha. This means that the share of questions asked by them is much larger than their share of seats in the House. They also seem to ask different kinds of questions compared to non-Muslim MPs. And there are certain issues, such as concerns regarding Muslim women, which are ignored by both Muslim and non-Muslim MPs.
Our analysis picked up 1,875 unique instances of questions raised about Muslims between 1999 and 2017. Muslim and non-Muslim MPs had a share of 22% and 78% in these questions. When seen with the fact that Muslim MPs did not make up more than 6% of Lok Sabha at any period, it shows that Muslim MPs have a larger relative share in questions concerning Muslims in the House.
Among issues concerning Muslims, questions about Haj had the biggest share, while violence against Muslims and welfare of Muslim prisoners had the smallest share in these questions. The most skewed Muslim versus non-Muslim division can be seen in questions on Islamic terrorism, where non-Muslim MPs asked 97% of such questions. Non-Muslim MPs also had a larger share in questions about Haj.
Does the fact that Muslim MPs have a bigger share in questions about Muslim issues mean that they only raise issues of their own community in the Lok Sabha? Data suggests otherwise. Only 2% of all questions raised by Muslim MPs in the Lok Sabha are about Muslim issues. This figure was 0.3% for non-Muslim MPs
Lok Sabha election 2019: A new challenge for federalism
To be sure, there is a difference between asking questions on an issue concerning Muslims and doing justice to the concerns of the community on that issue. The best example of this is education. Our analysis shows that 44% of the questions asked by MPs in the Lok Sabha regarding Muslim education were focused on madrasas. This, when seen with the fact that barely 4% of Muslim students are enrolled in Madrasas (National Council for Applied Economic Research, 2005), suggests that interventions by MPs might not be highlighting the relevant issues for the community.
On the other hand, there are issues that, despite having a widespread currency among Muslims, are not given adequate attention by MPs. For example, a 2017 Gallup survey found that more than 85% of Indian Muslims support equal access for both genders in education, and think that women should be able to hold a job outside of the house. However, questions related to the condition of Muslim women, in terms of education, employment and overall development, make up only 1.5% of all questions asked about Indian Muslims. Similarly, a survey conducted by the Bureau of Research on Industry and Economic Fundamentals (BRIEF) found about 13% respondents cite issues of security for Indian Muslims. However, this topic barely makes up 3% of all questions pertaining to Muslims in India.
So who speaks for Muslims in the Lok Sabha? The answer is tricky. Data tells us that both Muslim and non-Muslim MPs express a range of issues for India’s largest religious minority group. However, the decreasing representation of Muslim MPs in the Lok Sabha remains a challenge as it leads to a lower expression of the concerns about Muslims. While both Muslim and non-Muslim MPs raise these concerns, the questions differ in both the frequency and quality of questions being brought up. However, Muslim or not, MPs do not necessarily address all the issues faced by Indian Muslims, notably among women.
Analysis of Lok Sabha questions is just one part of assessing whether MPs are taking care of concerns of the Muslim population in the country. Even this exercise tells us that representation is just a necessary and not a sufficient condition to ensure that relevant Muslim issues find a voice in Parliament. A fall in share of Muslim MPs can lead to a reduction in raising issues concerning the community in Lok Sabha, while the need is to diversify their ambit towards issues which are being given adequate attention currently.
Saloni Bhogale is a research fellow with the Trivedi Centre for Political Data, Ashoka University
From Mughals to Sufi poets, Holi has been part of Muslim culture, literature
The references to Holi are innumerable in Urdu poetry. Almost no important Urdu poet, from Khusrau to Sahir Ludhyanvi, left this topic untouched.
While most associate Holi with a Hindu ethos, even a cursory glance through the pages of history reveals otherwise. Holi always falls in the month of March, which in the Mughal era fell close on the heels of another significant festival, Navroz. Over time, both the festivals became twins.
The Mughals were known to be liberal and openly enjoyed celebrating Indian festivals. Historian Zakaullah writes that Babur was so wonderstruck when he saw Holi celebrations where people were splashing around in a pool of coloured water that he followed suit and filled a pool with his favourite coloured liquid — wine. Abul Fazal writes in Ain-e Akbarithat Akbar used to start collecting beautiful squirts and syringes of different sizes throughout the year in anticipation. This was one of the rare occasions when Akbar would come out from his fort and play Holi with even the commoners. Tuzk-e-Jahangirimentions that Jahangir played Holi actively and organised musical gatherings.
Shajahan would watch the Holi celebrations from the jharokaof Red Fort. He also gave it the name Eid-e-Gulabi(the festival of colour), Jashn-e-Aab-Pashi (the festival of spraying water). During Shahjahan’s rule, a Holi fair was organised near what is today Rajghat which included pantomimes in which jesters would imitate the king and princes and nobody took offence. Bahadur Shah Zafar went as far as making Holi the official festival of the Red Fort and patronised a new genre of Urdu poetry called Hori, which was sung on the day of Holi.
Before the Mughals, even Muslim Sufi poets had used this festive opportunity to propagate the message of brotherhood. Holi was celebrated at most Sufi monasteries. Nizammuddin Aulia, who is considered to be among the first secular theorists, advocated love for people of all faiths. He also directed his protégée to compose poetry in the language of the commoners and started celebrating Holi at his monastery. Khusrau was not only an enthusiastic Holi player but also composed verse for the occasion: Aaj rang hai, maa ri aaj rang hai/Morey khwaja ke ghar aaj rang hai/Mohey peer payo Nijamuddin aulia/Des bides mien phiri ri, tera rang bhayo nijamuddin aulia/Aaj sajan mila morey aangan mien (Its colour today, my mother its colour today, My beloved is found in my own yard).
BJP's rise has meant a shrinking number of Muslim lawmakers in India
The traditional under representation of Muslims in the police, army and bureaucracy now extends to elected assemblies.
Christophe Jaffrelot Updated about 15 hours ago
This is an excerpt from Majoritarian State: How Hindu Nationalism Is Changing India by Christophe Jaffrelot, published by HarperCollins.
Between 1980 and 2014, the number of Muslim MPs in the lower house of the Indian parliament — and hence their percentage — diminished by more than half. This evolution is all the more significant as the share of Muslims in the Indian population rose during the same period. Consequently, the gap between their proportion of the population (which rose from 11.1 to 14.2%) and that of their elected representatives in the Lok Sabha (which dropped from 9 to 3.7%) increased five fold, jumping from two to ten percentage points. Responsibility for this trend lies primarily with the BJP, which has only ever endorsed very few Muslim candidates, and this in constituencies where the party had a slim chance of winning, even as its group in parliament continued to increase in numbers.
In 2009, the BJP fielded 4 Muslim candidates, or 0.48% of the total, and only got one elected. In 2014, it fielded 7 Muslim candidates out of 428 (or less than 2%) and none were elected. For the first time in India’s history, the winning party in the general elections had no Muslims in its parliamentary group in the Lok Sabha and therefore, in states such as Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest state, where Muslims make up over 18% of the population and where the BJP won 71 out of 80 seats, did not have a single Muslim MP (compared to 6 in 2009 and 10 in 2004).
The BJP decision not to field any Muslim candidates aimed to liberate the party entirely from the “Muslim vote” that other parties were accused of wooing for electoral gain at the expense of the Hindu majority. During the 2017 state election campaign in Uttar Pradesh, one BJP leader admitted:
“Everyone was wooing the Muslims. We told the Hindus — they will unite, will we always remain divided? Trump in the US showed that it is not blacks and Hispanics and Muslims who will decide who becomes US president. It is whites. Here too, it is not Muslims who will decide who rules UP. It is all other Hindus. They want to defeat us. We want to defeat them and their parties. It is a battle.”
The formation of a Hindu vote bank by the BJP, which in particular aimed to sideline minorities in the political arena, prompted other parties as well no longer to nominate Muslim candidates, except in areas with a high Muslim majority. This tactic was especially clear in the Congress’ case, which the BJP accused of cultivating a Muslim vote bank by showing concern for their social and economic condition — a false claim if one goes by the impoverishment of Muslims under the UPA regime.
In 2009, the Congress, unwilling to embrace its traditional secularism, only endorsed 31 Muslim candidates (or 3.7% of the total), among which only 11 won seats. That year, the parties that fielded the most Muslim candidates and got them elected were regional parties, starting with the Bahujan Samaj Party. Five years later, the Congress fielded 27 Muslim candidates out of 462 (less than 6% of the total). Among non-Muslim parties, only the Rashtriya Janata Dal (a lower-caste grouping based in Bihar), the Samajwadi Party, the Trinamool Congress and the CPI(M) fielded a percentage of Muslim candidates higher than the share of Muslims in the population. But in many cases, the candidates in question were in constituencies far from the areas where these parties were strongest.
Not only did parties of all political stripes field fewer than 10% of Muslim candidates for the Lok Sabha in 2014, but above all, few of them were elected. Muslim MPs finally made up about 4% of elected representatives in the lower house. This underrepresentation, linked to the boom in Hindu majoritarianism, was reflected at the government level by an unprecedented situation. Only two members in the first Modi government – or less than 3% – were Muslims in 2014. Both had come from the Rajya Sabha (the upper house), given that there was none among the BJP MPs in the Lok Sabha and that only MPs can be appointed as government ministers in India. In July 2016, the minister of Minority Affairs, Najma Heptulla, resigned but was replaced by another Muslim minister in this position, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi (minister of state prior to that). A second Muslim minister was then appointed in the government, M. J. Akbar, who became minister of state for External Affairs. Inventorying the loci of power in the Indian republic, veteran journalist and media personality Shekhar Gupta concluded, “India’s minorities have never been so out of the power structure. They are justified in having a sense of unease about it”.
However, an examination at the level of the states of the Indian Union is necessary to make a full appraisal of the situation. Aside from the fact that there is no longer a single Muslim chief minister, the presence of Muslim representatives in state assemblies (as Members of Legislative Assemblies – MLAs) and governments (as Ministers or Ministers of State) is on the wane. In January 2018, out of 1,418 BJP elected representatives in these assemblies, only four were Muslim and only two members of the BJP state governments (coalition governments are not taken into account here) were Muslim. This situation holds true as much in states where the BJP has been governing for a long time (such as Gujarat, where the party did not endorse a single Muslim candidate in 2007, in 2012, or in 2017) as for those it recently conquered, such as Assam (30.9% Muslims), where out of 61 MLAs (enabling it to win the elections in 2017), it has only one Muslim elected representative.
Under Modi, a Hindu Nationalist Surge Has Further Divided India
The emboldening effect became apparent within months of the 2014 election. Hindu lynch mobs began to pop up across the landscape, killing Muslims and lower-caste people suspected of slaughtering cows, a sacred animal under Hinduism. Most often, they have gotten away with it.
Hate speech began to proliferate. So did the use of internet trolls to shut down critics.
Government bodies began rewriting history books, lopping out sections on Muslim rulers, changing official place names to Hindu from Muslim, and more aggressively contesting holy sites. They also began pushing extremist Hindu priorities, including an effort to locate a mystical river that features prominently in Hindu scriptures. Critics called it pseudoscience and said the search was akin to using public dollars to study mermaids.
The consensus among Indian activists and liberal political analysts is that their society, under Mr. Modi, has become more toxically divided between Hindus and Muslims, between upper and lower castes, between men and women.
“In plain language, they are what we now call communal fascists,” said Aditya Mukherjee, a retired historian, referring to Mr. Modi and his political allies.
“This is something that Jawaharlal Nehru had predicted,” Mr. Mukherjee said, referring to India’s first prime minister. “He said if fascism ever came to India it would come in the form of majoritarian Hindu communalism. That is exactly what is happening.”
Lok?Sabha Elections 2019: BJP will get neither Ali’s vote nor Bajrang Bali’s, says Mayawati
Recently Yogi stirred a controversy with his statement “Agar Congress, SP, BSP ko Ali par vishwas hai toh hume Bajrang Bali par vishwas hai (If Congress, SP, BSP have faith in Ali, we have faith in Bajrang Bali).
LOK SABHA ELECTIONS Updated: Apr 14, 2019 09:07 IST
Hindustan Times, Badaun
lok sabha elections,Ali bajrang bali,mayawati on banjrang bali vote
Launching a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati on Saturday said it was time for him to pack his bags.
“The people have very well understood in the past five years that whatever he promised was a bunch of lie. He only showed lovely dreams to the people and this time NaMo is going and Jai Bhim is coming,” Maya, who was addressing a joint rally of SP-BSP-RLP alliance in Badaun, said.
Mayawati also thanked chief minister Adityanath Yogi for ‘discovering’ the cast of Lord Hanuman.
“It is an honour for us that Yogiji gave us this important information (that Hanumanji is a Dalit). Ab Ali bhi humare hain aur Bajrang Bali bhi (now we have both Ali and Bajrang Bali on our side.) People of Bajrang Bali’s caste (Dalit) had already shunned BJP and Congress and their (Muslims and Dalits) coming together will bring good results for the alliance,” she said.
Recently Yogi stirred a controversy with his statement “Agar Congress, SP, BSP ko Ali par vishwas hai toh hume Bajrang Bali par vishwas hai (If Congress, SP, BSP have faith in Ali, we have faith in Bajrang Bali).
Maya also appealed to Muslims not to fall in the traps of BJP and Congress. “Ever since Independence, nothing much has changed for Muslims in the country. Successive governments (at the centre) did nothing for their welfare and upliftment and even did not implement the recommendations of the Sachar Committee. So, it is my appeal to you not to fall in their traps and vote for the alliance,” she said.
Mayawati accused the BJP for doing caste-based politics. “Modi made ‘Achhe Din’ promises to the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, Muslims, farmers and others but not even one fourth of his promises were fulfilled. Now he has come up with a new `jumla’ of ‘chawkidar’,” she said.
India’s prime minister is seeking re-election by stoking fear among the Hindu majority of the potential dangers posed by the country’s Muslims and Pakistan.
Since he first consolidated power and built his political capital on the back of religious violence against Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 under his watch as chief minister, Mr. Modi has mastered the art of linking the threat of terrorism, Muslims and Pakistan. His strategy has worked in every election he has deployed it in.
His current campaign is taking place in the wake of the Feb. 14 suicide attack in Pulwama district of Indian-administered Kashmir, which killed 40 Indian paramilitary soldiers. The attack was followed by a few weeks of intense escalation and cross-border airstrikes by India and Pakistan.
Mr. Modi has made the Pulwama attack the basis of his most recent recasting of the theme of a terrorism-Pakistan-Muslim threat. On April 9, at a campaign rally, Mr. Modi directed his attention toward young Indians voting for the first time: “Can your first vote be dedicated to the valiant soldiers who carried out the airstrike in Pakistan? Can your first vote be dedicated to the brave martyrs of Pulwama?”
‘It is now Pakistan’s turn to weep’: Modi boasts about India’s ‘mother of nuclear bombs’ at rally
Published time: 18 Apr, 2019 11:08
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented with a sword during a campaign rally, April 17, 2019.
Amid rising tensions, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi says he has called Pakistan’s nuclear bluff by launching airstrikes while also claiming that New Delhi has the “mother of nuclear bombs.”
“Earlier, terrorists from Pakistan would come here and go back after conducting an attack. Pakistan would threaten us, saying it has the nuclear bomb and will press the button,” Prime Minister Modi said at a campaign rally at Surendranagar in Gujarat on Wednesday.
“In the past, our people would weep, go around the world saying Pakistan did this, did that… It is now Pakistan’s turn to weep.
We have the mother of nuclear bombs. I decided to tell them, do whatever you want to do.
The bombastic rhetoric comes amid ongoing tensions and tit-for-tat airstrikes in recent weeks, which have been marred by sporadic cross-border firefights and violence in the aftermath of a suicide bomb attack in Pulwama in February which killed 40 Indian paramilitary officers.
“Pakistan has been threatening us for a long time with its nuclear capability but the IAF called its bluff with its strikes,” Modi said. His comments came following governmental denials that an Indian military attack in Pakistan was imminent, and may be carried out in mid-April.
Islam had played a great role in India contributing its Equality and brother hood to do away the caste ridden social structure, and enriching the Indian culture with Arabian and Persian ones. Often the contribution of Islam in India is seldom brought to discussion by Historians and facts are undermined to bring communal discords and differences. When we analyse the facts it is crystal clear that Islam propagated by Sufis had contributed to enrich the Indian culture. In the sphere of Arts, literature, music, customs and ceremonies and life styles Islam had completely changed the Indian culture.
Congress leader Shatrughan Sinha on Saturday took a U-turn on his Muhammad Ali Jinnah statement, saying that the remark was a “slip of tongue”.
Speaking to ANI, Sinha said he wanted to take Maulana Azad’s name but instead, uttered the name of Pakistan founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
The actor-turned-politician’s clarification came after he courted controversy for saying that “from Mahatma Gandhi to Muhammad Ali Jinnah, all are part of Congress Parivar.”
“Whatever I said yesterday was slip of tongue. I wanted to say Maulana Azad but uttered Muhammad Ali Jinnah,” he claimed.
Sinha, who recently left BJP and joined Congress, lauded Muhammad Ali Jinnah along with Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, and Jawaharlal Nehru, saying they all had a role to play for India’s independence.
“Ye Congress parivar Mahatma Gandhi se leke, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel se leke, Muhammad Ali Jinnah se leke, Jawaharlal Nehru se leke, swargiya Indira Gandhi se leke, Rajiv Gandhi se leke aur Rahul Gandhi se leke... inki party hai jinka desh ke vikas me, desh ki tarakki me, desh ki azadi me sabse mehatvapurna aur sabse bada yogdaan hua, isliye hum yaha aye (Congress family from Mahatma Gandhi to Sardar Patel to Muhammad Ali Jinnah to Jawaharlal Nehru... It is their party. They had the most important role in development and freedom of the country. This is the reason why I have come here (in Congress),” Sinha said while addressing a rally here.
Sinha was in Madhya Pradesh to campaign for the state Chief Minister Kamal Nath’s son Nakul Nath, who is contesting from the Chhindwara Lok Sabha parliamentary constituency against BJP’s Nathan Shah.
Both Kamal Nath and his son were present at the event.
Meanwhile, Sinha will be contesting the ongoing polls from Bihar’s Patna Sahib constituency against BJP’s Ravi Shankar Prasad.
First Published: Apr 27, 2019 15:13 IST
Muslims and pandits work together to restore a temple in Kashmir
Aamir Ali Bhat
Updated about 13 hours ago
Acchan, Pulwama: Setting an inspiring example of communal harmony, neighbours from Muslim and Hindu communities started restoring a temple in Acchan, a village in the militancy-stronghold district of Pulwama in South Kashmir.
Known as Swami Jaggarnath Asthapan, the Hindu temple will probably be opened for prayers and worship in the coming week.
The 80-year-old temple’s structure would remain the same – dome-like rooftop, a bell hanging from the ceiling and colourful walls surrounding the sacred Shiva Ling.
The restoration came to a halt after the Pulwama terror attack and subsequent harassment of Kashmiri students, traders and businessmen outside the state. The work resumed a week ago.
Besides serving tea to labourers who are working at the temple, Muslim neighbours everyday pay visits to the site to supervise the work at the temple.
Before the 1990s, Acchan was home to around 60 Pandit families. Like other villages and towns of Kashmir then, the local Pandits of this village migrated after the armed insurgency began. Only Bhushan Lal’s family preferred to stay back.
Bhushan’s house is located just a few yards away from the temple. He is living with his three brothers Sanjay Kumar, Deep Kumar and Ashok Kumar.
“I decided to stay back. Why would I leave my native village?” Bhushan told The Wire. “Even during the 1990s, I used to go to the temple for prayers every day. But its condition was deteriorating with each day.”
Last year, Bhushan approached the Mosque Auqaf committee to inform them about the dilapidated condition of the temple. “Like always, this time also, I received a positive response from my Muslim brothers,” said Bhushan. “We together raised the issue of the temple with a concerned government official. Muslim neighbours helped me at every step.”
Despite only one Pandit family living in Acchan, the villagers pressed hard for the restoration of the temple.
When the government released the funds last month, Bhushan with the help from his Muslim neighbours started the reconstruction.
Shabir Ahmad Mir, a painter by profession, is currently working at the temple. “When Bhushan Lal told me about the restoration of the temple I cancelled all my deals. I wanted to work at the temple first,” said Shabir. “I didn’t want Bhushan Lal to feel alone. Like we respect our mosque, it is our responsibility to also respect the temple. While working here, we take care of everything.”
Among the other labourers who are working at the temple are Ghulam Nabi Sheikh, Mushtaq Ahmad Malik, Tanveer Ahmad Malik and Bhushan’s youngest brother Ashok Kumar.
Shiva Ling placed inside the temple. Shabir Ahmad Mir is in the background
The temple was one of the most revered temples in South Kashmir, said Bhushan, with thousands of Pandits from other villages visiting tit before the 1990s.
“Every year, we celebrated Razi Kath (a festival of sacrificing a sheep) at the temple before the 1990s,” said Bhushan. “After sacrificing a sheep, we used to cook it and distribute it among those present at the temple.”
Adjacent to the temple lies a mosque, making the village’s religious landscape unique. Both mosque and temple share the same path.
“Before the 1990s Muslims and Hindus used to walk through the same path, gossiping with each other, before entering their respective holy places,” said Ghulam Nabi, a villager. “We want those days to return.”
Like his father Kashi Nath, Bhushan is a Hindu priest. When Kashi died five years ago, hundreds of Muslims mourned him. They performed his last rites.
“I never felt alone in this village. I even don’t know how the cremation of my father was arranged. Who took his body to the crematorium?” said Bhushan.
Most of the Pandits in Acchan were highly educated. One among them was Chaman Lal. Chaman, who was once a deputy commissioner, migrated from the village in the 1990s. Villagers still remember him for his good deeds.
Abandoned Pandit homes in Acchan village
Shabir, the painter, said, “Chamanji was an honest man. He made sure roads were constructed and brought government schools and other essential facilities to our village.”
Sitting next to Shabir, another villager Javaid Ahmad chipped in and talked about his own Pandit teacher. “I will never forget my teacher and mentor Ashok sir. He was the best teacher in our village. He was caring and kind.”
Villagers are waiting for the restoration to be completed. They hope that once the temple is restored, thousands of Pandits will again throng this holy place.
“Religion doesn’t teach us hatred. It comes from our dirty mindset,” said Shabir. “Our village is incomplete without our Pandit brothers. We would be delighted if they return and live with us.
This article was originally published in The Wire.
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