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Monday, February 13, 2017

Aurangzeb: A Hero or a Villain?

The indologist Francois Gautier mildly criticised William Dalrymple for praising Aurangzeb in one of his recent articles in an English paper. Gautier is right that Aurangzeb antagonised Hindus and Sikhs because of his rabid prejudices against non-Muslims. He didn't mention that Aurangzeb was also against other sects of Islam. 

He became a Sunni, whereas all Mughals were Shias as they came from Central Asia. And after becoming a Sunni Muslim, he began to persecute Muslims belonging to other sects. In his magnum opus in Arabic, " Fatwa-e-Alamgir" (edicts of Alamgir) at Al-Azhar, Cairo, Aurangzeb ordered in 34 decrees to behead the Hindus not conforming to the ways of Islam or embracing it. One can refer to fatwa no 124 in this book, which categorically states that, " An apostate must be publicly flogged and then beheaded. Recantation has no place in Islam." Or read his edict no. 199 in which the monomaniac emperor states that there should only be the rule of Islam in the world as it's the only chosen faith, approved by Allah.

To him 'Rabbul-musalmeen' (god of muslims) was more judicious and appropriate than 'Rabbul Alameen' (god of whole universe). " Why should anyone else have the grace and blessings of Allah, who just belongs to the Muslims?," he once asked his History teacher. Heaven is forever for those Muslims who convert others to their 'true' religion. As a student of Arabic and Islamic jurisprudence at Al-Azhar, I was so disgusted to read such rabidly fanatic views of Aurangzeb and even requested the Head of the department of Arabic, luckily an Englishman, to write to the Al-Azhar authority to dispense with this book, written by a bigot, who could never see beyond Islam, Allah and Muhammad. And a close look at the farmans of Aurangzeb in Bikaner archives in western Rajasthan, which also has the original copy of Colonel James Todd's " Annals and antiquities of Rajasthan," reveals that his temporarily mellowed and slightly gentle attitude towards the Hindus had a different reason.

Those 'soft' farmans were written at the time of Rajputs and Jats of northern belt revolting against the Mughals. In fact, all the 'liberal' policies of the Mughals had a blatant element of pacification to them. Even Akbar's so-called leniency towards Hindus and Rajput chieftains had at root the intention to pacify them. Didn't Akbar himself indulge very subtly in the 'number game' and conversion of Hindus to Islam? Doesn't a letter to Mansingh clearly suggest Akbar's wish to convert his most trusted Hindu General to Islam? Didn't he convert Tansen and bribe Raja Todarmal, one of his nine gems, to accept Islam? One can see Akbar's letter to Mansingh at the India House, London. Anyway, back to Aurangzeb and his uncouth ways. 90 percent of today's Indian Muslims should know that their forefathers were converted by force under Aurangzeb. 
There's never been a single intellectual conversion in the entire religious history of mankind. Even his own brother Dara Shikoh was executed for taking a profound interest in Hindu religion. Historian Sir Jadunath Sarkar writes in his essay, " An enigma, thy name's Aurangzeb,"  " When Aurangzeb realised that Dara was all set to embrace Hinduism, he had him executed and burnt his Persian translations of Upanishad and Puranas. Out of 18 puranas of Hindus, Dara could translate six. He (Dara) knew that something violent would befall him, so he already kept many of his religious translations at the Burdwan palace (Bengal).." When the sub-continental Muslims react so fanatically, I remember the Urdu adage, " Naya Musalman zyada pyaaz khata hai " (A converted Muslim gorges on onions).
All these 'followers' of Islam were brutally converted by Aurangzeb or some other Muslim kings. It's because of Aurangzeb's sick brand of 'Sunni Islam', we get to see and hear everything influenced by Arab culture. The innocuous and so beautiful 'Khuda Hafiz' has been replaced with harsh and artificial 'Allah Hafiz', which grates on ears. You know why? Khuda's not an Arabic word (it's Persian) and there's only Allah in Qura'an. I don't talk to that Muslim again who says, " Allah Hafiz", in response to my "Khuda Hafiz", despite having absolutely no faith in either Allah or Khuda. What Aurangzeb sowed when he was the emperor, we've still been reaping.

 He was the man, who helped mushroom madarsas in the central and North India, where only religious education would be imparted. The late Samuel Huttington, who wrote a long and seminal essay, " The clash of civilization" said in his Harvard lecture in 1984, " The sub-continent's religious atmosphere got vitiated by the Muslims, who wanted to perpetuate the legacy of Aurangzeb.." Now you decide, whether you call Aurangzeb a hero or a villain?                   
                                     ----Sumit Paul

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