31 October, 2020

Letting Go Of The Past

What is it about our historical icons that it becomes incumbent to deify or vilify them? Why not accept them for what they are, reclaim a common heritage?

Letting Go Of The Past
For the majority of Muslims in South Asia, three heroes stand out in popular mythology over the last thousand years of history: Mahmud of Ghazni, the last great Mughal emperor Aurangzeb and M.A. Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. For most Muslims, these three figures symbolise a triumphant and assertive Islam. For the great poet Allama Iqbal, Mahmud, Aurangzeb and Jinnah are Muslim leaders par excellence. At Jinnah's death, one of Karachi's most prominent clerics called him "the greatest Muslim after Aurangzeb".

In popular Hindu mythology, the same three figures stand out as outstanding villains: Mahmud is remembered for his raids into India from Afghanistan and breaking of idols, especially at Somnath; Aurangzeb for his harsh treatment of the Hindus; and Jinnah for splitting and dividing 'Mother India'. In the 1940s, Hindu writers sarcastically called Jinnah "another Aurangzeb". Today, Hindu rioters sometimes justify their acts by saying they are avenging the plundering of Somnath by Mahmud. Political parties like the BJP and leaders like Bal Thackeray...


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