Calling all secular Muslims – Ravi Shankar

Ravi Shankar EttethThe reason of Indian Muslim leadership’s credibility gap is intellectual poverty, excessive scriptural dependence, poor education and Hinduphobia. – Ravi Shankar

Politics is the art of meeting great expectations by creating and protecting institutions. The Constitution was drawn up to meet the expectations of newborn India. Politics also betrays institutions; the Preamble, which defined the country as a ‘sovereign democratic republic’, was amended during the Emergency to “sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic”.

‘Sovereign’ and ‘democratic’ are running on all cylinders. ‘Socialist’ is out of oxygen. The contentious part is ‘Secular’, first disapproved by Nehru and added by his daughter later. Nationalists insist that India belongs to Hindus and secularism is execrable Leftist twaddle, meant to entrench ideological supremacy. India is 80 percent Hindu and 13.4 per cent Muslim. Since Hindus are the big brothers, liberals plead it’s woke to be secular. Why don’t they expect Muslims to be secular, too?

The liberal argument that the majority ghettoised Muslims is taradiddle because Hindutva, with its senas and trolls, is a recent phenomenon. The 19th century Islamic reformer Sir Syed Ahmed Khan had accused the British of maligning Muslims as the real force behind the 1857 Mutiny. For decades, the Congress party had positioned itself as the Muhammad Ali of Indian Muslims. It had distinguished leaders like Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Badruddin Tyabji, Dr Zakir Husain, Jinnah et al. Suraiyya Tyabji, who designed the Indian national flag, was Muslim.

With such eminent figures in their pantheon, why do Indian Muslims lack a universally acceptable contemporary face to intellect-shame wrestlers and filmy barnacles riding the saffron gravy train? Indian secularists are predominantly Hindu. The current Indian Muslim leadership is identified with the Owaisis, Deobandis and Tablighis instead of Azad or Tyabji. The Jamaat’s contagious conduct has painted Islam an unkind shade of green. Paradoxically, the Muslim voices against Hindutva come from the pro-Modi Arab world, which provides jobs to millions of Hindus.

The reason of Indian Muslim leadership’s credibility gap is intellectual poverty, excessive scriptural dependence, poor education and Hinduphobia. Theologists dictate personal laws. Deeply paranoid about science, the mullahs drive away doctors and inoculation staff with stones and curses. Muslims rue that the vicious chorus of Hindutva drowns their voices; yet there is no Muslim Ramachandra Guha, Arundhati Roy or Rajmohan Gandhi to make their case. It’s not enough to take refuge in the “We are all Indians” argument and expect the minority politics genie to get back into the bottle—the conversation was Constitutionally polarised decades ago.

Perhaps, the Mohammedan needs a 21st century Sir Syed, whose reformist emphasis was on Mu’tazila—a rationalist and liberal interpretation of the Quran, making it relatable to science and modernism. The Indian Muslim can take the place he deserves only by being a secular Indian willing to engage the nationalist conversation by taking a cosmopolitan position. This means looking outwards when someone else is looking in. – The New Indian Express, 26 April 2020

Ravi Shankar is an author and cartoonist and writes a weekly column for The New Indian Express.

Irrfan Khan

Irrfan Khan’s Islam: The internationally acclaimed actor believed that faith is about introspection – OpIndia Staff

Actor Irrfan Khan died on Wednesday, April 29th in Mumbai’s Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, where he was being treated for a colon infection. The versatile actor, one of Indian cinema’s most respected thespians, battled a tumour for several months and had returned to Mumbai some months ago after being treated in London. 

Netizens not only remembered his magnificent acting career but also the progressive ideas of Irrfan Khan, who had time-and-again expressed his idea of practising religion, despite being well aware of the fact that he would be admonished by the hardliners.

On July 25, 2016, Irrfan Khan had appeared on Times Now’s ‘The Newshour’ show with then Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami, where he took part in a discussion expressing his ideas on Islam and his own way of practising his faith.

In the debate, Irrfan had shared his experience of being a Muslim and topics such as Ramzan and Roza were also discussed along with the issues of terrorism and the global perspectives. The other panellists on the debate were Mohandas Pai, Zafar Sareshwala, Mufti Mohd Manzur Ziyaee of the Haji Ali Dargah Trust and Tasleem Ahmed Rehmani, President, Muslim Political Council of India.

The debate was on the backdrop of a controversy which had erupted after actor Irrfan Khan had made certain comments on the need of observing Roza during the Ramzan and also sacrificing animals during the Islamic festival of Bakrid.

In 2016, during an event in Jaipur, Irrfan Khan had stated that in today’s practises, the actual meaning of Qurbani (sacrifice) has been lost. He had added that purchasing a goat from the market and killing it after two days is not Qurbani. He had added that the essence of the Islamic festival is about giving up, sacrificing something that is important to oneself. Khan had faced widespread criticism from Islamic clerics and even the AIMPLB for his remarks.

Muslims are fighting against terrorism

At around 1.40 minutes of the show, Irrfan Khan speaking to Arnab Goswami said, “We don’t see the whole picture. There is a huge chunk of the Muslim population that is fighting against terrorism. We only see Muslims in India. When you go abroad, you see there are people who are fighting terror… and trying to put Islam, the way they have understood, in the right perspective”.

“The way I have understood Islam is through some incidents. And there are various delicate experiences that teach you these philosophies, which have multiple layers. It’s not a single dimension and that’s why it continues for years and years,” he said, revealing some incidents that he heard in his childhood.

Irrfan Khan added that the ideas have become transactional and the seeking part has been eliminated in the religion. “Mercy and compassion are the basis of Islam”, said Irrfan Khan as he spoke about the misconceptions people have about Islam and terrorism.

One should introspect before performing rituals

In every religion, there is an aspect of practice and there is an aspect of discovery, said actor Khan. When you stop seeking, the practices take over, added Irrfan Khan. In the show, Irrfan’s challenged the clerics about some of the rituals observed by Muslims during Ramzan and Muharram.

Irrfan had openly said that instead of observing fast during the month of Ramzan, people should rather introspect. He has also spoken against sacrifice during Muharram and how one is supposed to mourn in that period and not celebrate it like a festival.

“Rather than fasting during Ramzan, people should self-introspect. Animals are being slaughtered on the name of Qurbani,” Irrfan had said in the show.

Faith is a house with many rooms: Irrfan Khan

At around 45th minute of the show, Irrfan Khan while talking about the subject of faith, presented his views on Islam and faith by citing a reference from his Oscar-winning film Life of Pi. Khan said, “A dialogue from the film says, ‘Faith is a house with many rooms.’ The other person asks him, “Is there no room for doubt?’’ He says, “Plenty, on every floor. Doubt is a useful thing, it keeps your faith alive. Until and unless you test, your faith is not alive. That is what I do. I test. I test my teachings and I experience myself, that’s how you work on your soul.”

We do not need mediators to seek God

Later, Khan said that he did not need mediators to seek God, to which the maulana replied saying that intermediation was necessary. Questioning the maulana present in the debate, Irrfan Khan had said why does he need anyone in the middle to understand his faith. My faith is between me and my God, he said.

When the Maulana said, you need Quran and a knowledgeable cleric to help someone understand the religion, Khan said he will himself try and introspect about his religion and he did not need a middleman to connect him with the god.

“One man comes and he imparts his understanding of the Quran, a second man comes and he can give a different understanding, and the third man can give a third understanding. Take translation, for example, the same thing is interpreted in various ways, and that sometimes sends people down the wrong path,” Irrfan Khan had noted in the interview. – OpIndia, 29 April 2020

Zaira Wasim quits Bollywood – Taslima Nasreen

Zaira Wasim

Taslima NasrinThrough Zaira, Islamic fundamentalists have yet again revealed their harsh, unforgiving, misogynous doctrines in front of the world. … How much longer must women’s talents be hacked to death at the altar of such religion, how many more talented individuals must we lose? – or Taslima Nasreen

Zaira Wasim’s spell in the movies has thus far been a fortuitous one. Her debut film Dangal was fantastic, as was her second outing Secret Superstar. Both won numerous awards. With her ‘I came, I saw, I conquered’ attitude, Zaira burst upon the scene, acted in films and won immense love from the audience in no time.

But, much to everyone’s shock, she has just declared that she is leaving the acting profession because the world of films is apparently damaging her imaan, her faith. Citing numerous verses of the Quran, she wrote in a recent Facebook post that she has chosen to find her way back to her religion.

Why does one need to give up a profession for the sake of one’s religion? That’s where the quandary lies. Millions of working professionals across the world are managing their religious duties with ease—not one of them faces a problem in that regard!

Of whatever I have seen and heard of Zaira, her dresses, the way she conducts herself, how she speaks, she has always come across a smart young girl.

So why is she hell-bent on destroying a promising career?

Why has she chosen to give up acting?

Is she doing this of her own free will?

Has she indeed learnt the Quran so well that while writing her Facebook post, she has repeatedly quoted verses from the text? I strongly feel Zaira’s words are not her own. Someone else has likely written it for her, someone who is possibly a staunch Islamic fundamentalist, someone who can at any moment transform even possibly into an Islamic terrorist and commit murders unhesitatingly in the name of religion. Perhaps Zaira is being coerced into leaving the world of films—just like how some years ago, the all-female Kashmiri rock band Pragaash was forced to give up music. The Grand Mufti of Kashmir had issued a fatwa against girls performing music and the girls received so many death threats that they were ultimately forced to disband.

There are male bands in Kashmir, of course, but fatwas are not issued against them. Kashmiri men act in movies as well but they never face any threats because of it—neither are they ever forced to quit.

Zaira could very well have turned down the movies being offered to her and silently left the industry. But instead of doing that, she publicly stated that acting apparently harms one’s imaan, one’s character, besides displeasing Allah and insulting the faith.

Her announcement is a dangerous one as it is political.

This is not Islam—this is “political Islam”. It is the variant of Islam that is, to my mind, responsible for global terrorism. Her proclamation is effectively a means of communicating to all devout Muslim girls of the country that they must take heed! They must quit acting or not even consider it as a profession, just as they must not consider the worlds of music, art or literature, anything in fact that requires them to step out of the confines of the house. That independence is haram for women! Women are meant to stay indoors and study the Quran and the Hadith, pray and keep fasts and always wear the burqa if they need to step outside, so that strange men never catch a glimpse of their body. Women must stay at home and look after the husband’s belongings, serve him and give birth to his children, whom they must train to be devout—Islam permits no other vocation for women except these.

Through Zaira, Islamic fundamentalists have yet again revealed their harsh, unforgiving, misogynous doctrines in front of the world. The terrorists of ISIS believe that other than being actual and sexual slaves of Muslim men, Muslim women have no other role to perform, that the latter are little more than private property for their menfolk. Properties are not supposed to have a world or a life of their own — freedom and rights are prohibited for them.

The ones who have likely composed Zaira’s post have meant to foreground this very fact — by ostensibly forcing her to leave acting, they have proved that they are still considerably powerful. In fact, even death threats against Muslim women artists have been issued.

At such a juncture not just Bollywood but every progressive individual of the country must come together in protest against this nefarious conspiracy of destroying the career of a talented actress, by relegating her within the dark confines of the burqa in the name of religion.

But the problem is that no one, except a few stupid Islamophobes, ever opposes these misogynous Islamic fundamentalists.

Where are the feminists, secularists, the human rights defenders, the true intellectuals, the writers and artists?

How much longer must women’s talents be hacked to death at the altar of such religion, how many more talented individuals must we lose?

If we cannot protect Zaira today, then we must prepare ourselves for many more gifted Muslim women in the future who will be forced to give up their talents and be confined to the home.

It is not possible to follow Islam a hundred percent, not even by Muslims. So they have chosen what they wish to follow and how much, which is usually whatever suits their purpose at any given point of time. In Islam, it has been decreed that a thief shall lose his hands—does that mean Muslims don’t steal? The Muslim countries especially are immersed in corruption—thieves get to keep their hands intact fairly often.

Islam has decreed the slaughter of non-Muslims. Most Islamic nations maintain super-cordial relations with non-Muslim nations, simply for the sake of trade and commerce. For instance, Saudi Arabia’s relations with the non-Muslim countries of Europe and America are far more congenial than with its neighbouring Muslim nations.

Men don’t really follow all the true tenets of Islam—but repeatedly they have tried to force women to do so, simply because it’s an easy thing to do to coerce women.

Since the structural patriarchy of our society has long held women in its clutches, since Islam itself is patriarchal, they have used the faith to further oppress already persecuted women.

To know the truly terrifying face of Islam one must then turn one’s gaze towards Muslim women. We have numerous instances of women who have cast aside the restrictions of Islam to go out into the world, to study, to work, to become self-reliant. What we always miss are the numerous women who remain languishing in the darkness, who remain in the shadows despite their gifts, simply in order to save themselves from the cruelties of the faith.

Despite it being forbidden in Islam, many Muslim countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Iran, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, etc., continue to make films. There, the filmmakers as well as the performers are all Muslims. When has acting ever been at odds with someone’s religious beliefs?! If it has not been a problem for thousands of actors and actresses, why is it such a problem for Zaira?

I believe it’s not Zaira who has the problem but the people who are forcing her into quitting. Or if Zaira has been completely brainwashed perhaps, then it is the people who have done the brainwashing who are the ones with the real problems.

In such an influential industry such as Bollywood, a successful and popular actress will be made to vanish in the name of religion and everyone will silently stand and stare—can that be condoned? But protesting this will mean upsetting the Islamic fundamentalists, which in turn will mean losing one’s “secular” label. That is primarily what the intellectuals of this country are afraid of. It is fine as long as the protest is about any other fundamentalist from any other faith but the moment it’s the Muslim fanatics who do something, one has to keep one’s mouth shut. These are the tenets that the secular liberals of this country abide by. Minorities, no matter how intolerant, misogynous or barbaric, no matter what crimes they commit, must always be regarded with mercy.

When the intellectuals are so afflicted with hypocrisy it is truly a sorry state of affairs for society.

Zaira’s decision to quit is not her own—this is something anyone with an iota of intelligence should be able to comprehend. She has no choice but to leave acting—just like how I had no choice but to leave my homeland.

I was later driven out of my second home in West Bengal as well. One can scarcely imagine how many more girls must have been similarly forced to give up music, dance, painting, education, jobs or businesses. Women are not supposed to nurture dreams, neither can they aspire for independence. So Zaira too possibly has no independent say of her own—all her wishes and desires are being controlled by the guardians of the faith.

What other kind of goodbye can be more terrifying than this in a democratic country in the twenty-first century!

Either Islam must be reformed or women must give it up—I see no other solution otherwise.

I have no faith in the government about this. The government has never taken any sort of steps against these fatwaphilic mullahs, so why would they start now? – Daily-O, 4 July 2019

» Taslima Nasreen is a Bangladeshi author, physician, feminist, secular humanist and human rights activist. She is known for her writing on women’s oppression and her criticism of religion despite her forced exile from Bangladesh and multiple fatwas calling for her death. Nasreen’s works have been translated into 30 different languages. Still, she has been blacklisted and banished from the Bengal region, Bangladesh and India’s West Bengal state. India’s left liberal secularists, for all their noise about equality and freedom of speech, have never given her any support in her fight for women rights and against misogynistic Islamic fundamentalism.

Zaira Wasim in Dangal


Video: Must Muslims eat beef? – Imam Tawhidi

Islam and beef-eating

Is there any rule that states a Muslim MUST eat beef? I raised the beef-eating controversy in India with Imam Tawhidi, and his response is clear and assertive: No! This video clip will help in my on-going debate with the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, which has taken the stand that beef-eating is required in Islam. I am glad to have this on record as a useful testimony. – Rajiv Malhotra


And thus fell Nalanda – Makarand Paranjape

Xuanzang (Hsüan-tsang) (c. 602 – 664)

Makarand R. ParanjapeThough the conquest of Delhi by Muhammad Ghori in 1192 is considered a historical watershed, Indic civilisation had already been under continuous attack for over 600 years, from the time of the Umayyad Caliphate. One wonders what the scholars, teachers, intellectuals, not just the kings, courtiers and soldiers were doing during [this] half-millennium. They had no effective answer to such repeated and devastating assaults. This was as much an intellectual and academic as it was a military or political failure. – Prof Makarand Paranjape

As we saw in the previous column, the foundation of the Nalanda International University may be attributed to the “bhadra vichara” (noble idea) of former president of India, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. He proposed it on 28 March 2006 in the Bihar assembly. This university is now, thankfully, a reality. It came into existence on 25 November 2010 through a special act of Parliament. Today, a dynamic vice-chancellor, Professor Sunaina Singh, is at the helm of affairs. Even though a young sapling, quite like the seedlings we planted in the commemorative vatika (garden) on 12 January 2018, Nalanda International University, I hope, will become a mighty tree of knowledge under her stewardship, as do some the actual trees we were privileged to root.

The new Nalanda, however, has a huge reputation to live up to. Its very name reminds us of the outstanding, world-renowned educational institution which flourished for nearly a thousand years. Nalanda Mahavihara was patronised by several kings and dynasties from the Guptas in the fifth to the Palas in the thirteenth century CE.

The most detailed account of its functioning is from the Chinese traveller, pilgrim, monk and scholar, Xuanzang (602–664). A grand pavilion built in his memory near the excavated and reconstructed site attests to his extraordinary feats. He travelled overland, covering some 25,000 kilometres, leaving a fascinating and invaluable account of what he experienced and encountered nearly 1,500 years ago in India.

Xuanzang’s Nalanda

Xuanzang was following in the footsteps of his illustrious predecessor, Faxian (337-c. 422), who, nearly a hundred years before, had travelled on foot from China. Over 15 years, he visited the great Buddhist centres of pilgrimage and learning in what is now Xinjiang, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, all the way down to Sri Lanka. Xuanzang himself travelled over 17 years, trying to get accurate texts from India for doctrines he thought had got corrupted in China. His explorations inspired what many regard as China’s greatest pre-modern novel, the 100-chapter Journey to the West, written during the Ming period, several centuries later.

From Xuanzang’s account, we know that all the major schools of Buddhism were taught at Nalanda, in addition to the Vedas, Sanskrit, grammar, logic, medicine, and the other customary disciplines of the time. Xuanzang stayed in Nalanda for two years, studying Sanskrit, grammar, logic, and attending the Yogachara school of Buddhism.

According to historian René Grousset, Xuanzang became the disciple of the monastery’s rector, the venerable Silabhadra: “The Chinese pilgrim had finally found the omniscient master, the incomparable metaphysician who was to make known to him the ultimate secrets….” Xuanzang, recognised as an adept in his own right, was conferred the name “Mokshadeva.” He thus became the inheritor of the most illustrious wisdom-lineage of Mahayana Buddhism, going back to Asanga, Vasubandhu, Dignaga, Dharmapala, and to Nagarjuna himself. In that sense, Nalanda lived up to its name, one of whose interpretations is “unending gift.”

Nalanda, Bihar

The End of Nalanda

But the old Nalanda was finished by Islamic invaders. Around 1200 CE, it was reportedly looted and burned by a local Turkic-Afghan chieftain-adventurer, Bakhtiyar Khilji. Legend has it that Khilji and his 18 horsemen went on to capture Bengal. So popular is this view that Al Mahmud, the Bangladeshi writer, not only reprises it in Bakhtiyarer Ghora (Bakhtiyar’s Horses), but, some would argue, glorifies Khilji. Yet, 18 horsemen is an attenuation. When it comes to Nalanda, the more accurate figure going by historical accounts seems to be 200 horsemen. Even so, to imagine that such a small force could subdue such a large area is astounding.

The text that probably records Nalanda’s sacking is Tabaqat-i-Nasiri by the Persian historian Minhaj-i-Siraj, written just a couple of decades after Khilji’s death. A colonial period translation by Major H. G. Raverty published in Calcutta in 1881 is easily available. Khilji, who possessed only two villages to begin with, began plundering Bihar, earning both respect and rewards from his superiors. Eventually, he went on to capture much of Bihar and Gaur (Bengal). But his ambitions knew no bounds. He mounted an assault on Tibet, but his forces were defeated in Kamrup (Assam). As he lay ill in Devkot in Gaur, he was murdered by his deputy, Ali Mardan Khilji, in 1206.

The first volume of the translation of Tabaqat-i-Nasiri chronicles what might have happened in Nalanda: “Muhammad-i-Bakht-yar, by the force of his intrepidity, threw himself into the postern of the gateway of the place, and they captured the fortress and acquired great booty.”

The next lines indicate that the “fort” was actually a fortified university, which some historians have identified as Nalanda, others as Odantapura:

“The greater number of the inhabitants of that place were Brahmans, and the whole of those Brahmans had their heads shaven; and they were all slain. There were a great number of books there; and, when all these books came under the observation of the Musalmans, they summoned a number of Hindus that they might give them information respecting the import of those books; but the whole of the Hindus had been killed. On becoming acquainted (with the contents of those books), it was found that the whole of that fortress and city was a college, and in the Hindui tongue, they call a college Bihar.”

The Persian word used, “madrese”, from the Arabic “madrasa”, current to this day, means school or college, suggesting that the place referred to was likely to have been Nalanda Mahavihara. Some years ago, Arun Shourie had argued that the lack of definite reference to Nalanda in Tabaqat-i Nasiri had led “eminent” Leftist histories to fudge history, alleging that Brahmins, not Muslims, had destroyed Nalanda. D. N. Jha, named as one of the guilty by Shourie, tried to defend himself through the columns of a leading newspaper with all kinds of whataboutery, but even common sense tells us that the shaven-headed inhabitants whom Khilji slaughtered are more likely to have been Buddhist monks than Brahmin priests, since the latter would have retained their tufts or top-knots (shikha). Whatever the truth or however contested its interpretations, the destruction of Nalanda was in keeping with the practices of Muslim conquerors throughout the history of the subcontinent, indeed true to their tried-and-tested template of invasion, conquest, vandalism, loot, and enslavement of subjugated people elsewhere as well. Why would Nalanda be an exception? While reading the Tabaqat-i Nasiri, I was struck by the number of times the word “intrepid” was repeated. Khilji was anything if not audacious, bold, doughty and fearless. That cannot be taken away from him or the tradition of conquistadors that he belonged to.

Minhaj-i-Siraj’s account also shows how the whole state got its name, Bihar, from the viharas, the monasteries, colleges, and libraries that dotted it. Apart from Odantapuri and Nalanda, the other Hindu-Buddhist seminaries nearby, namely Vikramshila and Jagaddala, were also similarly pillaged and destroyed. It is to be noted that all the monks and Brahmins were slaughtered, to the extent that none was left to explain the import of the books. Buddhist accounts also corroborate that the viharas were demolished and the libraries, with lakhs of manuscripts, burned for months. Especially of interest is the biography of Dharmasvamin or Chag Lotsa-ba Chosrjedpal (1197-1264), who went there shortly after the destruction of Nalanda (1234-1236). When he visited, Nalanda was only a shadow of its former glory, barely functional.

Making meaning of the loss

At its peak, Nalanda had over 2,000 teachers and 10,000 students, both drawn from many parts of India and abroad. Viharas like it dotted the landscape of what is today called Bihar, which means that it was a great hub of educational, cultural, and intellectual activity for centuries. It is impossible to fully make sense of its loss. It is not just that a great institution of learning and an even greater tradition of philosophical and academic inquiry shattered, but that an entire civilisation was smashed and pulverised.

Thousands of teachers and students were killed, millions of manuscripts and books charred to ashes. Sanskrit, which was the main language of instruction and research, also suffered a body blow. Some of the knowledge of the Nalanda tradition of Buddhism was preserved because several monks and precious manuscripts made their way to Tibet. With the exile in India of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, some of this precious knowledge has returned to the country of its birth and from this very soil, spread all across the world, especially welcoming in North America and Europe.

The damage to India, to put it mildly, was incalculable. We have, in fact, no way even to know what we knew then and therefore what we lost in that cataclysm. Though the conquest of Delhi by Muhammad Ghori in 1192 is considered a historical watershed, Indic civilisation had already been under continuous attack for over 600 years, from the time of the Umayyad Caliphate. Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf, the powerful governor of Iraq, sent Muhammad bin Qasim on the first Muslim expedition against India. Qasim conquered Debal (probably derived from “Devabal” or the strength of the gods), an important seaport, in 710. He destroyed the main temple, looted the city, extracted tribute, took slaves, and converted many of the conquered.

One, therefore, wonders what the scholars, teachers, intellectuals, not just the kings, courtiers and soldiers were doing during his half-millennium. They had no effective answer to such repeated and devastating assaults. To me, this was as much an intellectual and academic as it was a military or political failure. No real renaissance is possible without understanding, coming to terms with, and learning from the breakdown of the ancient Indian civilisation or the desolation of what A. L. Basham called The Wonder that Was India. – Swarajya, 9 March 2018

» Prof Makarand Paranjape is a poet and author who teaches English Literature at JNU, New Delhi.

Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji

How the NCERT covers up Islam’s role in temple destruction – Koenraad Elst

Gyanvapi Mosque Varanasi

Koenraad ElstNo matter how many cases of Hindu idol abduction [the secularists] manage to find, it will never amount to proof for the hypothesis … that Muslim conquerors and rulers did what they did because Hindus had inspired them to do it. – Dr Koenraad Elst

During the Rama Janmabhumi commotion ca. 1990, it was the “done” thing for secularists to deny that Muslims had ever committed destruction of Hindu sacred buildings and statues. This even became the official position worldwide, for practically all Indologists and India-watchers internalized it and zealously condemned any acknowledgment of Islamic iconoclasm as stemming from “Hindu fanaticism”. However, this position is hard to sustain, because it is so obviously untrue. Therefore, they have recently refined their propaganda strategy in two ways.

First, they now minimize Islamic iconoclasm but admit some of it. Not that they would concede the Islamic motivation for this mandir-and-murti destruction, but alright, some Muslims had done it. That, after all, is what human beings do, Hindus included, see? As long as Islam remains out of the picture, they are willing to admit a little bit of destruction for the sake of salvaging their own credibility.

Second, they now try to make Hinduism guilty of the crimes of Islam, viz. by providing the inspiration through its own example. Muslims destroyed Hindu temples because Hindus had destroyed Hindu temples. Provincials like our secularists and their foreign imitators try to lead you by the nose towards whatever happened within India’s borders, and never ask, nor want you to ask, what the record of Islam outside India is, including in the period before it entered India. They don’t want you to realize that Islam’s behaviour in India was only a continuation of its behaviour in West Asia and around the Mediterranean, starting with Mohammed’s own model behaviour in Arabia.

The secularist narrative is now being propagated everywhere and inserted into the textbooks of history, including in the projected new textbooks mulled over by the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT). As per the official procedure, there is a provision for feedback from the public. A friend of mine sent in an objection to the NCERT’s scenario. What follows is the NCERT’s response, interspersed with my comments.


The objection to the cited passage—that temples demonstrated the power and resources of the kings who built them and that is the reason why medieval rulers targeted the temples of rival rulers—can be substantiated by innumerable references.

This is a sheer bluff. The two examples given do of course not amount to the “innumerable” cases which they mendaciously claim to have. Nor have such numbers of cases been mentioned elsewhere. Yet, given the strong motive the NCERT secularists have to overrule the straightforward narrative of Islamic iconoclasm, they would by now certainly have published a book full of such evidence and made sure it was quoted in every relevant paper and editorial—if it existed.

Sheer bluff, we said, but in the real world, there is nothing “sheer” about bluff. On the contrary, a bluff is a mighty weapon that can produce impressive results. Take the Rama Janmabhumi controversy. The secularists suddenly claimed that all the Muslims and Hindus and Europeans who had unitedly assumed that a Rama temple had stood at the disputed site on which the Babri Masjid had been imposed, had all been wrong. They offered no evidence whatsoever for their proposed scenario (say, a sales contract in which a landlord sold Babar a piece of empty real estate to build a mosque on), and denied the evidence on the opposite side which had existed all along and which accumulated further once the challenge to bring more evidence had been raised.

Though their behaviour was that of conspiracy-mongers, their shrill bluff carried authoritative public opinion with it. They managed to make the Government abandon its plans for a negotiated settlement, they managed to have national and state governments toppled, they managed to trigger a number of bloodbaths, all through “sheer bluff”. Even when they collapsed one after another when questioned in court, even when their bluff had been exposed (though the media did all they could to hide this development from you), they have never apologized, never publicly admitted how wrong they had been. Bluff can get you very far in life, so the NCERT tries more of it.

Even the evidential value of their “evidence” is a bluff. No matter how many cases of Hindu idol abduction they manage to find, it will never amount to proof for the hypothesis they really want to push: that Muslim conquerors and rulers did what they did because Hindus had inspired them to do it. These conquerors mostly didn’t even know the record of Hindu kings, and at any rate they didn’t care. They would never have wanted to be seen imitating the idolaters and instead invoked the solid justification for iconoclasm within their own tradition. Mohammed himself had set the example, and in his wake came the conquerors of West Asia and the Mediterranean, unaffected by Hindu examples.

Power of discrimination

Consider the gold statue of Vishnu which was once in the Lakshmana temple of Khajuraho. The statue actually belonged to the rulers of Kangra, it was taken by the Pratiharas and finally by the Candell ruler Yasovarman just before 950 CE (and a near contemporary of Mahmud Ghazni). The inscription in the foundation stone of the Khajuraho Laksmana temple commemorated these events and stated—“With his troops of elephants and horses, Herambapala (Pratihara, ruler of Kanauj) seized it from [the king of Kangra]. Obtaining it from his son, the (Pratihara) prince Devapala, the illustrious (Candella) king Yasovarman—an ornament among kings and a crusher of enemies—performed the ritual establishment of [Vishnu] Vaikuntha [in the Laksmana temple at Khajuraho].

See F. Kielhorn, “Inscriptions from Khajuraho” in Epigraphica Indica, vol. 1 (1892), p. 192.

This example is a beautiful illustration precisely of how Hindu idol-kidnapping differs radically from Islamic idol-breaking. According to the NCERT itself, the Vishnu statue from Khajuraho was abducted not once but twice, and ended up (not walled into a lavatory or underfoot, nor smashed to pieces, but) consecrated as a prominent murti in a Vaishnava temple, exactly where it belonged. What was abducted, was merely an object of art, duly consecrated. There was no destruction of the religion behind the murti. It was used for Vaishnava worship in its original site, after it was abducted, and again after Yasovarman abducted it. Further, the worship at the temples robbed of their murtis, was perfectly allowed to continue, though they would have to install a new murti.

By contrast, in Islamic iconoclasm, the goal was to destroy the “idolatrous” religion of which the murtis were an expression. The destruction of murtis and the demolition of mandirs had the purpose of destroying Hinduism or whichever the Pagan religion behind some given murtis was. When Mahmud Ghaznavi was done destroying the Somnath temple, he did not mean to let Shiva worship resume at the site, not as long as he was militarily in a position to prevent it. While Yasovarman installed the abducted Vishnu murti for worship, Mahmud Ghaznavi would have the captured murtis destroyed or worked them into lavatory walls or into floors in order the humiliate them—not so much the murtis themselves but the religion they represented. In destroying the Somnath Shivalingam, he meant to destroy Shiva worship.

One day, a man needed some paper to light a campfire, but he had none. His friend suggested: I have some paper, wait. And he took his wallet to produce a wad of dollar bills. The friend turned out not to see any significance in the dollar bills, only their material dimension. Whether a little rectangle of paper was a currency note worth an exchange value, or a newspaper clipping containing specific information, or merely a blank slip of paper, they were all the same to him: enough paper to light a campfire with. Now that is Nehruvian secularism for you: a deliberate suspension of the power of discrimination. This wilful superficiality claims not to see any difference between abducting an object without any further consequence and destroying this object as part of the attempted destruction of the religion it stands for.


From a different cultural zone note also the example of the conflict between the soldiers of the Gauda (Bengal) ruler and the ruler of Kashmir, Lalitaditya. The episode concerns the moment when the Bengali rulers chose to attack the idol of Vishnu Parihasakesava who was providentially saved because the soldiers mistook this image of the royal God for another. The Rajatarangini notes—“Though the king was abroad, the priests observed that the soldiers wanted to enter, and they closed the gates of the Parihasakesava shrine. Aroused with boldness, the soldiers got hold of the silver Ramasvamin image, which they mistook for Parihasakesava. They carried it out and ground it into dust. And even as Lalitaditya’s troops who had come out from the city were killing them at each step, the Gaudas continued to break it into particles and scatter them in every direction.

See Ranjit Sitaram Pandit, trans., Rajatarangini: The Saga of the Kings of Kashmir, The Indian Press, Allahabad, 1935, pp. 326-28.

Note firstly that this Lalitaditya episode is also related, complete with the spin dear to the NCERT, in Robert M. Hayden, Aykan Erdemir, Tuğba Tanyeri-Erdemir, Timothy D. Walker, Devika Rangachari, Manuel Aguilar-Moreno, Enrique López-Hurtado, and Milica Bakić-Hayden, Antagonistic Tolerance: Competitive Sharing of Religious Sites and Spaces, 2013, p. 136-137. As you can see, the Nehruvian secularist bluff is being spread far and wide and is acquiring the status of academic orthodoxy.

We are here dealing with a typical case of Western imitators, if not careerists who want to serve the current orthodoxy of battling “Islamophobia”. Concerning India, they have completely swallowed the Nehruvian bias. Thus, about Islamic iconoclasm deniers Romila Thapar and Richard Eaton, they say: “As scholars of India in the late 20th century, their aim in doing so is to counter the accusations by Hindu nationalists that the Muslims uniquely violated the sensibilities and rights of Hindus by destroying temples, by showing that Hindu rulers had done much the same thing before Muslims reached India.” (R. M. Hayden et al., Antagonistic Tolerance, p. 136)

It is in itself commendable that they point out the political intentions of these academics. These have a purpose other than dispassionately seeking the truth, which to Marxists would only be “bourgeois objectivity”. While not in itself disqualifying their research, it should at least set some alarm bells ringing. But this political bias only enjoys the unquestioning approval of the new generation of dupes.

So much have they already internalized the belief in Hindu iconoclasm that they take it one step further: “From the perspective of the AT [= Antagonistic Tolerance] project, of course, it would be surprising if Hindu rulers had not done so.” (R. M. Hayden et al., Antagonistic Tolerance, p. 136)

Naturally, they should think so, for it fits in with the reigning paradigm that “all religions are essentially the same”.

At the end, when practical conclusions are drawn, fashionable academics tend to differentiate again and favour Islam over Hinduism, e.g. by clamouring about “Islamophobia” but ignoring “Hinduphobia” (including their own); but at some point within their narrative, it is useful to put forward the equality and sameness of all religions, viz. in order to preclude or drown out all specific Hindu complaints about distinctly Islamic behaviour.

Since those authors are only second-hand spokesmen of the Nehruvian view, they sometimes let on facts that, when properly analyzed, don’t really fit their narrative, e.g.: “Tantalizingly, Eaton (2000a:293) mentions that temples not identified with royal patrons were generally left unharmed.” (R. M. Hayden et al., Antagonistic Tolerance, p. 136)

Tantalizing? Only if you pursue the Nehruvian paradigm. In fact, it follows logically from the difference between Hinduism and Islam. If at all there were Hindu kings who “harmed” temples because through them they wanted to harm hostile kings, they clearly opted for a policy that constituted another distinction with Muslim iconoclasm: they left politically irrelevant temples untouched. By contrast, when Muslim armies went on an iconoclastic spree, they did not care about these petty considerations, precisely because their motive had nothing to do with “royal patrons” but only with non-Islamic religion.

Thus, when the Ghurid army ca. 1193 destroyed a “thousand” temples in Varanasi (as admitted by Eaton), obviously, not all of them had enjoyed royal patronage. But all of them contained Pagan idols, and what was enough to get the Muslim conquerors in a destructive mood. This off-hand refutes the whole point of this new-fangled soft-Marxist hypothesis: that iconoclasm had nothing to do with religion.

Now, as to Lalitaditya, he defeated the Gauda king, invited him with the  Parihasakeshava (Vaishnava) idol as a guarantee for the Gauda king’s safety, yet had him murdered. To take revenge, the Gauda servants contrived to visit the relevant shrine in order to destroy this idol. Though they mistook another idol for Parihasakeshava (and apparently the story is gleefully told in order to convey this idol’s supposed cleverness in arranging for its own safety at the expense of another), they did indeed destroy the idol that they could lay their hands on. The fragmentation of the idol is duly described.

So, this indeed is one rare case where Hindus destroyed a Hindu idol. To be sure, they did nothing to Vaishnavism in Kashmir, nor in Bengal, nor anywhere else. They only wanted to get at that particular idol, a radical difference with the numerous campaigns of idol-breaking by Muslims, who were not so fussy. While Hindus did it, Hinduism was not involved. On the contrary, the text itself stipulates that their motive was quite mundane, viz. vengeance for their murdered king. The perpetrators did not quote any Hindu scripture prescribing: “Thou shalt destroy a Parihasakeshava idol whenever thou seest one!” They did not invoke any idol-breaking model behaviour of a Vedic rishi.

Islamic iconoclasm

We have spent some time writing out several pages in analyzing the NCERT response to an objection. To be sure, a fool can famously ask more questions in a few lines than a normal man can answer in a number of pages. Nevertheless, the fact deserves mention that, through misdirection, the NCERT has succeeded in keeping us busy all while the true answer was so simple. We have been forced to deal with two of the handful of cases of idol-abduction and iconoclasm by Hindus as the supposed reason for Islamic iconoclasm, when in reality, Islamic iconoclasm had nothing to do anything good or bad done by a Hindu. And no secret is made of this in Muslim chronicles, clear enough about the real motive.

Neither the folks at NCERT, nor the Nehruvian historians, nor their foreign followers, have ever succeeded in finding a Muslim chronicle saying that “the Sultan was inspired by Hindu example to destroy idols and demolish temples”. The point, after all, was not finding fault with what Hindus may have done (though finding fault with Hindus is certainly also on the secularists’ agenda), but to explain through Hindu behaviour the known Islamic conduct of iconoclasm. This relation between Islamic iconoclasm and Hindu example has never ever been established. On the contrary, whenever Muslim iconoclasts feel the need to motivate their destructive behaviour, they cite Islamic examples, first of all, the destruction of the idols in the Kaaba by Mohammed himself.

And let alone the words in chronicles or elsewhere, it is actual deeds that prove the radical difference between Islamic iconoclasm and any possible Hindu attitude. The NCERT itself quotes a case where a Vishnu statue was abducted, and then installed for worship by the abductor himself. If such were the example followed by Muslim iconoclasts, we would expect to find mosques where Hindu statues from, say, the Somnath temple or the Rama Janmabhumi temple had been installed. Unlike the Nehruvians, we are not provincials and will not confine ourselves to India, so images of Apollo, Osiris, or any other deity will also do. Pray, NCERT, where is that mosque where an abducted idol has been installed for worship? We are not asking for two examples, just one. – Pragyata, 31 March 2017

Surya Temple at Marttand, Kashmir from Hardy Cole's Archaeological Survey of India Report 1869

Leftist intellectuals pave the way for jihad – Ravi Shanker Kapoor

Sadiq Khan Ravi Shanker KapoorThe system doesn’t want to offend religious minorities, and a realistic analysis of Islam’s precepts and practices is ruled out. – Ravi Shanker Kapoor

Can London fight terror? One has to be extremely optimistic to answer in the affirmative. A city that elects an Islamist Mayor, Sadiq Khan, despite his sympathies with the jihadists being well known, can scarcely hope to live peacefully.

So, there was a third major attack in Britain in the past three months, with three jihadists mowing down and knifing indiscriminately in busy areas, killing seven and wounding 48. BBC reported that one of the attackers, Khuram Shazad Butt, was a 27-year-old British citizen. Born in Pakistan, he “became known to the police and MI5 in the summer of 2015 and an investigation was opened into his behavior after concerns reached counter-terrorism officers.” Yet, little was done to neutralize him.

“One man called the anti-terrorism hotline, while a woman went to the local police station because she was scared Butt was trying to radicalize her children,” BBC report says. “However, the Met said there was no intelligence to suggest that this attack was being planned, meaning the investigation had been prioritized accordingly.’”

Further, a man, “who did not want to be named, said one of the attackers had become more extreme over the past two years. He said he had contacted authorities but no action was taken.”

Now, the police in the UK and other Western countries are not like their Indian counterparts; when some wrong-doing is reported, they act, and act fast, unbothered about phone calls from their higher-ups and politicians. So, what happened to the efficiency of the British cops? The answer was provided by US President Donald Trump’s tweet: political correctness (PC). Encyclopaedia Britannica describes PC as a “term used to refer to language that seems intended to give the least amount of offense, especially when describing groups identified by external markers such as race, gender, culture, or sexual orientation.”

What began as a nasty war against language—eliminating what Left-liberals thought was offensive to non-whites, women, Orientals and Africans, religious minorities, the LGBT community—acquired a life of its own and transmogrified into a full-fledged ideology. A fascistic, intolerant ideology that brooks no dissent; anybody challenging it is a ‘racist’ and, when the subject is Islam, ‘Islamophobic.’

Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad; and the civilization that they want to destroy they first corrupt its thought leaders. By gods or otherwise, it is indubitable that those who lord over public discourse, set various agendas, and mould public opinion in the West, as also elsewhere, have been badly corrupted by the PC plague. So, we find academics, media pundits, authors, and other opinion makers peddling PC 24×7.

This has translated into security paralysis; since the system doesn’t want to offend religious minorities, and a realistic analysis of Islam’s precepts and practices is ruled out, law-enforcement agencies have been handicapped. Any preventive measure is slammed as racist, Islamophobic, etc. And among those leading the brigade of the politically correct is Sadiq Khan.

In the wake of July 7, 2005, bombings in London, he blamed Britain’s foreign policy rather than Muslim terrorists. Further, as a lawyer, he defended Zacarias Moussaoui, a 9/11 terrorist who admitted to being a member of Al Qaeda. Another Islamist he defended was Azzam Tamimi who threatened violence if the Prophet Muhammed was defamed. The London Mayor has shared a platform with Suliman Gani, a South London imam who favors an Islamic state. Daily Mail reported on April 17, 2016, at a funeral, “he stopped to shake [hands with] convicted terrorist Babar Ahmad, a man who has been blamed for inspiring a generation of extremists, including the gang behind the London bombings of July 7, 2005. The pair exchanged brief pleasantries before Khan moved on.”

In his book, Sadiq Khan advised that the police should be charged with “racism” if a certain community was targeted. Evidently, such ideas are not just being spread by sundry intellectuals but also followed in the UK capital, indeed in the entire country.

Frequent attacks in London are the denouement. In a revealing article in, Daniel Greenfield, a writer focusing on the radical Left and radical Islam, has listed the march of Islamist forces that led to the ghastly attack in Manchester (

“While Salman Abedi [the Manchester attacker] … stalked the streets wailing, ‘There is no god but Allah and Mohammed is the messenger of Allah,’ Manchester police were busy with more important things … Mayor [Andy] Burnham and Chief Constable [Ian] Hopkins pandered to Islamists, prioritised Islamophobia and dutifully opposed the government’s fight against Islamic terror.”

The Greater Manchester Police, writes Greenfield, are one of only two police forces to list Islamophobia as a hate crime category. Earlier this year, Hopkins honoured Tell MAMA for fighting Islamophobia. “Shahid Malik, the chair of Tell MAMA, had been photographed with the leader of Hamas. Appearing at the Global Peace and Unity conference, where plenty of terrorism supporters have promenaded, he boasted, ‘In 2005 we had four Muslim MPs. In 2009 or 2010 we’ll have eight or ten Muslim MPs. In 2014 we’ll have 16 Muslim MPs. At this rate, the whole parliament will be Muslim.’”

This is the quintessential Islamist vision: creeping acquisition of power, not much different from the creeping acquisition in the corporate sector.

Intellectuals seem to have a penchant for evil. During the Cold War, they had a soft corner for communism, the violent ideology that killed over 100 million people in the 20th century. Now, they are sympathetic to radical Islam, thus acting as the sappers and miners for the jihadist takeover. Not just in London but in entire Europe. – PGurus, 6 June 2017

» Ravi Shanker Kapoor is a journalist and author. He upholds freedom of expression, individual liberty, free market, and open society. He has published three books till date. His website is


Triple Talaq: Muslim Law Board’s stand rebuffs Quran, Constitution – Tufail Ahmad

Maulana Abdul Raheem Qureshi

Tufail AhmadThe Quran does not approve of the instant triple talaq, which is arbitrary and is exercised at the whims of a Muslim husband and many times uttered in a fit of anger. – Tufail Ahmad

Arguing before the Supreme Court on [March 27th], the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) took two positions on the issue of triple talaq, the practice whereby a Muslim husband utters talaq (divorce) three times to end a marriage. One, it told the court that if triple talaq is declared illegal, it would amount to disregarding Allah’s directions and rewriting of the Quran and would force Muslims into committing a sin. Two, the Muslim personal law provisions such as triple talaq enjoyed the protection of the Constitution’s Article 25 which guarantees citizens a fundamental right to profess and propagate a religion.

Let’s take the second point first. Article 25 gives the “freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion” to the Indian citizen. But this right is subject to two sub-clauses—clause 25 (1) notes that the freedom of religion is “subject to public order, morality and health” and clause 25 (2) clarifies that the right to religion does not “prevent the state from making any law” regarding the welfare of people. So, the Constitution is clear that the right to religion, though a right, is an inferior right among all the fundamental rights. The AIMPLB cannot take refuge under Article 25 because triple talaq is against the public morality of our times.

Religious practices are also not protected by Article 25 for the simple reason that they harm the welfare of citizens. Notably, Shayara Bano, a Muslim woman from Uttarakhand, has approached the apex court because her welfare is harmed by the arbitrary practice of triple talaq. It is also clear that under the Constitution, the religious freedom is subject to all other fundamental rights. This means that the Article 14, which guarantees the right to equality, overrides Article 25 because triple talaq denies a Muslim woman’s equality before the law. There are further implications of Article 25. One, the right to religion is available to the Indian citizen, not to religious communities, and certainly, does not apply to organisations like the AIMPLB or Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind and others. Two, Article 25 allows a citizen to practice and propagate his/her beliefs, but the differing institutionalised practices of religious sects are not protected under this right because they are not essential to the belief in a religion. So, if the court declares triple talaq illegal, it will not harm religious beliefs of Muslims and no sin will be committed. About two dozen Muslim countries including Pakistan have already abolished triple talaq.

Similarly, Article 25 is subject to Article 15 (1) which says that the State “shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex….” Since triple talaq is anti-women, it violates Article 15 (1) of the Constitution.

To return to the first point. The AIMPLB is not a representative body of Indian Muslims and its members are not elected. The AIMPLB is also an anti-Quranic group. On 3 September 2015, its spokesman Maulana Abdul Raheem Qureshi said: “Though as per Quran and Hadith, ‘triple talaq‘ is a crime, but once said the process would be considered complete and cannot be changed.” Hadiths (plural of Hadith), are sayings and deeds of Prophet Muhammad. Since the AIMPLB admits that the triple talaq is a crime as per the Quran, it must not oppose any move that seeks to declare triple talaq illegal. However, the AIMPLB and other Islamic groups are defending the arbitrary practice of triple talaq despite knowing that it is a crime under the Quran.

The AIMPLB misled the Supreme Court on Monday by submitting: “If such casual denunciation of the verses of the holy book is permitted, then soon Islam would cease to exist. Though triple talaq in one sitting is an unusual mode of divorce in Islam, it cannot be declared to be invalid in the light of the direct verses of Holy Quran and categorical command of the Messenger of Allah.” As per the current law, the only way for Muslims to divorce is the practice of triple talaq.

The Quran has a chapter devoted to this subject in the surah called Al-Talaq, which comprises of 12 verses. In these verses, the Quran establishes a procedure for divorce, providing for three talaqs, each delivered at an interval of a month. The Quran does not approve of the instant triple talaq, which is arbitrary and is exercised at the whims of a Muslim husband and many times uttered in a fit of anger. Under the Quranic practice, a talaq must be uttered in the presence of two witnesses. So, the Quran removes the arbitrariness of triple talaq.

If the Supreme Court declares the practice of instant triple talaq, which is given in one sitting, as illegal, the apex court’s decision will still be as per the Quran. It can be said with certainty that the position adopted by the AIMPLB before the Supreme Court is, therefore, anti-Quranic and anti-Constitutional. Under the existing law, a Muslim woman can approach the courts to seek, not to give, divorce; alternatively, she can resort to the informal practice of seeking divorce through an Islamic cleric. However, a Muslim husband cannot go to the court to give divorce; the only option open before him is to deliver triple talaq either through Islamic clerics or through informal means such as a letter, phone call, or WhatsApp messages.

The current practice of instant triple talaq cannot be acceptable as per the modern standards of morality. It has emerged as a menace to the society in India. It is also violative of the Constitution’s Article 21 which guarantees to Indian citizens the protection of life and personal liberty, which includes human dignity. Currently, it is the dignity of Muslim women that is being challenged by Islamic groups like the AIMPLB. The Muslim women who are divorced via triple talaq, are increasingly approaching the Supreme Court to uphold their right to dignity and liberty, which must be supported by everyone.

However, ending the practice of triple talaq will not end the miseries of Muslim women, who need to send their daughters to study and permit them to work. Even the number of talaqs, whether triple or not, should be meaningless if the same is uttered in the presence of a judge at three monthly intervals to complete the Quranic procedure. To remove its arbitrariness and at the minimum, the Supreme Court of India must rule that all Muslim divorces must be given in a court, not in parallel Shariah courts run by numerous Islamist groups such as the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, AIMPLB, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind and Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind. – FirstPost, 28 March 2017

» Tufail Ahmad, an author and former BBC journalist, is a contributing editor at Firstpost and executive director of the Open Source Institute, New Delhi. He tweets @tufailelif.

Triple Talaq