Thursday, October 02, 2008

Are we Muslims Our Own Worst Enemies?

India population is predominantly Hindu but has a big number of Muslims but still a minority for a billion people nation. India was historically under by Muslim rulers.

Wikipedia - The Muslim conquest in the Indian subcontinent mainly took place from the 11th to the 17th centuries, though earlier Muslim conquests made limited inroads into the region, beginning during the period of the ascendancy of the Rajput Kingdoms in North India, from the 7th century onwards.

Since Dubai has a lot of India nationals and most of them are Muslims, it is interesting to see Islam through their perspectives. I know a prominent Indian Muslim who is not only a succesful businessman (mostly education with over 20 schools in India and UAE) but a well-known philanthropist and a Tabligh man. And I know hundreds of other Indian Muslims and Hindus who seem enjoying living and working in the UAE for good life.

I read this piece in Khaleej Times, the title is similar to an article by Raja Petra who is now detained under ISA for allegedly defaming Muslims and Islam.

Muslims are Their Own Worst Enemies
Aijaz Zaka Syed 2 October 2008

Every time I manage to write something, I wait for the readers’ feedback with bated breath. This is always the case, week after week.
One awaits the readers’ verdict as a nervous student waits for results after a critical exam. The feedback is invariably instructive; even if you do not always agree with the views.

Look at this take, for instance, on my recent piece on Islam and how some of its followers distort and misrepresent its humane teachings. I had argued that if the world has a negative view of the great religion, we Muslims are largely to blame.

Frankly, I was really shocked by Dr Vijaya Rajiva’s response and her views on Islam and Muslims. Because Vijaya is not only a fellow Indian but like me she has also been a passionate supporter of the Palestinian cause, frequently writing on the Palestinian dispossession and struggle. In her take on my piece, Medium is the Message, (KT, Sept 26) Vijaya wrote: “I have nothing against Muslims, especially Indian Muslims who are basically converts from one of the indigenous religions. My quarrel is with Islam itself. Its history has been one of war and violence. The conquest of southern Europe, the other countries of the Middle East, Iran, Iraq and later Afghanistan, the Muslim conquest of Sind in the 8th century AD (have all been the result of Islam’s war). Well, I’m sure you know your history!

To give an example, Mohamed of Ghazni did come and plunder and loot India but that was only one of his aims.
“The other (aim) was conversion of the infidels, at the point of the sword. Those who did not convert were summarily killed. Nadir Shah standing on the ramparts (of Delhi) watching the inhabitants of the city being put to death because they were infidels is a well-known fact. The entire history of Muslim conquests is well known. Hundreds of temples were destroyed, sacred books burned and thousands were killed or converted.

"I would be interested in knowing when exactly Islam morphed into a ‘peaceful’ religion!”
Then Vijaya goes on to say: “Intellectually, I find it insulting that there is only one God, and one Prophet (or with the Christians, one son of God). I much prefer the truth that the divine principle is a Mystery and each of us has access to it, without mediation. (There is) not just the One Way!”

Well, I wish I could reproduce the fascinating letter in its entirety but cannot do it for obvious space constraints.

One could write a whole book in response to these familiar rants steeped in ignorance and mostly based on hearsay and utter lies shamelessly peddled by European crusaders dressed as historians and scholars for a thousand years now.

I respect Vijaya for her activism on behalf of the Palestinians. But I have to say this. Her ignorance and mixing of historical facts with fiction is most shocking.

Mahmoud of Ghazni, who she calls Mohamed of Ghazni, and numerous Muslim rulers who invaded or ruled India at one time or another, were not driven by a missionary zeal to convert the subcontinent to Islam. They were merely greedy kings and conquerors like hundreds of others who came to India for its fabled riches.

Be it Mahmoud of Ghazni or Mohammed Ghouri, who invaded India 17 times, they were not ideal Muslims nor did they represent Islam. Like other kings and conquerors in history, they were merely men driven by a craving for power, not by a mission to spread Islam. They just happened to be Muslim, just like the European kings happened to be Christian or ‘indigenous’ Indian rulers happened to be Hindu.

Just as Ashoka the Great was not driven by any religious zeal when he painted the whole of Kalinga blood red, Muslim conquerors were not inspired by any noble religious agenda. This is why they were equally ruthless in dealing with their fellow Muslim rulers. What Babar did to Ibrahim Khilji and what Sher Shah Suri did to Humayun is what emperors and kings routinely did to each other -- and not just in India.

Nadir Shah of Iran, who Rajiva says watched from the ramparts of Delhi while the ‘infidels’ were killed, did not kill Hindus. If this is any consolation, almost all of those killed in Delhi at the time were Muslim subjects of the reigning Muslim king Mohammed Shah.

If Muslim rulers fought and killed Hindu kings and their subjects, they killed their fellow Muslim rulers and their subjects too with equal impunity. Mughal emperor Aurangzeb incarcerated and killed his own father and brothers.

This was all for power and the religion of these rulers had nothing to do with the whole unsavoury business. Even the most benign of Muslim emperors like Akbar did not represent Islam or Muslims, just as most of the current lot of Muslim rulers do not.

If these men had indeed been real models of Islam and its teachings, their subjects would have pleaded with them to stay and rule them, as the persecuted Jews did when Omar, the second caliph of Islam, entered the holy city of Jerusalem or as the oppressed Christians did when Tareq bin Zyad led the Muslim army into Spain.

As for the charge of forcing the Hindus and Christians to convert to Islam, there’s a very simple answer to the accusation.

If the Muslims had indeed converted the Hindus at sword’s point, India would have been a Muslim country today — which is not the case. The Muslims are still a minority in the country of a billion.

The same would have been true of Spain. Remember, both India and Spain were ruled by the Muslims for nearly a thousand years.

That said, I understand if well-read and informed friends like Vijaya Rajiva demonstrate such incredible ignorance about Islam and Muslims. Frankly speaking, despite the wealth of resources at their disposal and their growing numbers (recently the Vatican admitted Islam has replaced Christianity as the world’s biggest religious bloc), the Muslims have done little to address this issue.

They remain the real and worst enemies of their faith doing little to present its true, pristine face before the world. They’re busy pursuing trillions of dollars of worthless dreams in concrete while the world builds on its prejudices against Islam and Muslims. Is it any wonder then the world can barely conceal its contempt for us?

Aijaz Zaka Syed is Opinion Editor of Khaleej Times.
The views expressed here are his own. Write to him at

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