Sunday, October 19, 2008

Behind Pakistan's Islamic Ideology - 6

Syed Hassan Tanwir Wasti wrote:

There are lots of confusion in this endless debate. Pakistan is a created as muslim welfare state. One of the Forgotten Pakistatni Heroes. Lets start to appriciate them. Prof Asghar Sodai’s verse “Pakistan Ka Matlab Kia - La Ilaha Illallah” became the central slogan of the Pakistan Movement which was read by every Muslim of the Subcontinent and became the basis of the country. Pakistan's ideology is based on the Two-Nation Theory, and as the Quaid-e-Azam summed it, "..we have our distinctive outlook on life and of life. By all canons of International Law we are a nation."

Representation of the Turkish Conquests in the Indian History

-- Mubarak Ali --

There are different interpretations on the Turkish conquests and its subsequent rule in north India. The original sources of Sanskrit and Persian present two antithetical pictures of the Turkish invaders. The Persian chronicles written at the court by official historians eulogise the conquerors as heroes who fought wars for the cause of religion and crushed the power of the infidels. The whole process of history is narrated in the rhythm of wars and conquests. In these narrations, the warrior kings were supported by the spiritual power of the Sufi saints who helped them in getting divine support against the enemies. The infidels were defeated in spite of their overwhelming military power. Those who were killed were pronounced shaheed (martyrs) and those who emerged as victors were named as Ghazis (Holy warriors). All these wars were declared as jihad, which were fought for the glory of Islam.

The Sanskrit sources, on the other hand, refer these conquests as disaster to their country and society. Interestingly, however, the invaders are not referred to as Muslims but by their ethnic origin such as Tajika, Turushka, and Gauri. The term Musalamana for them was first used in the 13th century. The image of the Turkish invaders, which emerges through these sources, is the image of warriors who massacred people, plundered the conquered territories and brutally treated the vanquished. Thus, Turushka represents a cruel, tyrant, bloodthirsty, and merciless ethnic group. This representation of the Turkish invaders shows a gap between the new comers and the local inhabitants of India who, as it appears, did not reconcile with the new political changes as a result of their defeat.

In the 1920s when history was also communalised as a result of politics, communalist historians from both Muslim and Hindu communities propounded their points of view based on the original sources of the medieval period. In the Muslim perception, the Muslims rule introduced advanced culture and civilization that changed the Indian society. However, instead of concentrating their researches on the social and cultural aspects, they focus on the conquests and victories of the Muslim rulers and their achievements. On these bases they glorified the role of the conquerors such as Muhammad b. Qasim, Mahmud Ghaznavi, and Shihabuddin Ghauri and refused to acknowledge the resistance of their Indian counterparts.

The Hindu historians on the other hand regarded the arrival of the Turkish aggressors as catastrophe to India. It is argued that the Turkish rule ended the continuity of the Indian civilization and the introduction of new elements polluted the whole environment that throttled the creativity of Indian mind. K.M. Munshi in his forward to ‘The Age of Imperial Kannauj’ writes:

The age begins with the repulse of the Arab invasions on the mainland of India in the beginning of the eight-century and ends with the fateful year AD 997 when Afghanistan passed into the hands of the Turks.

With this age, ancient India came to an end. At the turn of its last century, Sabuktigin and mahmud came to power in Ghazni.Their lust, which found expression in the following decades, was to shake the very foundations of life in India, releasing new forces, They gave birth to medieval India. Till the rise of Hindu power in eighteenth century. India was to pass through a period of collective resistance.

According to their arguments, the conquest of India was not easy as it is described in the Persian historiography. The Arabs in Sindh and the Turks in North India faced stiff resistance. It took the Arabs nearly 73 years from AD636 to AD 711 to conquer Sindh and the Turks became successful after 150 years to establish their rule. Their expansion and survival became possible once they controlled the resources of the Gangetic-Yamuna valley. However, after political defeat, the Indians adopted the method to boycott the outsiders socially. That was the policy that was used against the foreign invaders in the past. Mlecchas were those who were outsiders of the Varna structure of the Hindu society and as such they were not integrated and remained isolated.

Historians also point out that these Turkish invaders plundered the accumulated wealth of India from the conquered territories and temples. Shihabuddin Ghori alone took 900,000 kilo gold from India besides other loot. K.M.Panikar, a well known historian, regards these conquest as a deep wound in the body of India.

Besides these two interpretations, there is a third one which makes attempt to rationalize the Turkish conquests of India. First of all it is pointed out that the Turks were not the representatives of Islam. They were converted from heathenism to Islam just before the invasion to India and thus were not well versed in the teachings of Islam. Therefore, they invaded India only for political and not religious reasons. That is why they never preached Islam nor made any attempt to impose the shariat. On the other hand their model was the ancient Iranian king whose traditions were imitated by them with pride and gusto. As far as conversions are concerned, they happened due to the Sufi saints and as a result of commercial activities of the merchants and traders. The lower castes and artisans became Muslims to gain economic benefits and to raise their social status.

Historians of this school point out that the Turkish rule ended the feudalism and established a centralised government and a society that was based on multi-culture. The other characteristics of the period are the foundation of cities, which promoted trade and commerce and created an urban culture. It also opened military services for all castes and ended the monopoly of kshatriyas.

Irfan Habib’s research focuses on the technological and economic changes of the period. Including the paper manufacturing which revolutionized the intellectual and bureaucratic spheres of the society and promoted education and helped to document political, social and economic activities. The coming of Persian wheel had great impact on irrigation and agriculture. The spinning wheel and bowstring devices promoted textile industry.

Thus the third interpretation argues that India did not suffer because of the Turkish rule but benefited from the new changes that made the society mobile and active. It is wrong to say that both communities remained poles apart and had no relations with each other. There was integration and assimilation on political and cultural sides. India no longer remained isolated from the world but became a part of it and that broadened its worldview.

This interpretation does not glorify the conquerors and victors, neither does it focus merely on wars and political conflicts, but deals with the impact that the Indian society as a whole experienced i.e. socially, culturally and economically. It also separates religion from politics and analyses those factors, which were connected to the common people. If history is read with this perspective it gives broad and wider outlook to the readers to understand the process of history.

-- Mubarak Ali --

[M.A. History from Sindh University, Hyderabad in 1963. In 1972, he went first to London and then Germany for higher studies and attained PhD (on Mughal Period, India) from Ruhr University, Bochum, Germany in 1976. Later he became head of history department of Sindh University. He was the director of the Goethe Institute in Lahore, until 1996. He is also the editor of the quarterly journal Taarikh (History). He has been widely interviewed by electronic and print media in India, Pakistan and Mid East.

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