From: Mohammad Farooq <FAROOQM@trxinc.com>
To: firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>
Date: Friday, April 30, 1999 6:00 PM
Subject: On Bastardization of the Muslims of Bengal
Recently, I posted an article to Alochona group in response to an offensive article about the Muslims of Bangladesh. My posting is rather long, but hopefully it is relevant and beneficial for NABIC-L as well.
Mohammad Omar Farooq
ON BASTARDIZATION OF THE MUSLIMS OF BENGAL
Salaam and greetings!
This is a somewhat long posting, but hopefully a relevant and beneficial one.
Mr. Sandeep Chowdhury wrote:
>A section of Bangladeshi opinion justifies Pakistan's action even
>justifies Pakistan's action as most of the tormentors thought that
>they were Hindus. After all the Pakistan army's action in Bangladesh
>is a test prototype of how Islam swept the subcontinent, creating a
>class of bastards who would eventually let down their Mother
A. The Bastardization
I feel deeply offended, but not surprised, by the statement of Mr. Chowdhury. We all can make mistakes, especially with words. Therefore, his apology is commendable.
That still leaves the substance of his statement to be dealt with. There are so many interwoven dimensions of his statement, I am somewhat at a loss as to where to start.
Let me first say that wrong done by ANYONE is wrong, whether it is done by a muslim to a Hindu, by a Hindu to a muslim, by a muslim to a muslim, or by a Hindu to a Hindu. Can this be a point of agreement for starter? Also, we have seen enough of those efforts where differences are sought, pursued, and magnified, rather than seeking common grounds.
I am not much concerned about the use of the specific word "Bast...". After all, it's people's choice whether they communicate using expressions that are dignified or vulgar. Somehow, in my whole life, I have not used this word even in reference to what dictionaries might describe as "an illegitimate child" or "of inferior or dubious origin".
The fact of the matter is that the choice of the word by Mr. Chowdhury is not accidental. It is a broad reflection of what can be described as "Indian view". In ancient Indian documents it has been stated (please excuse my poor translation): "Boli, the king of Purbodesh (Bingo), was undefeated, warrior, pious and wise. He gave shelter to a old and blind saint Dirghotoma, a descendant of Jajati. Then, at the request of the King Boli, the saint impregnated the queen Shudeshna to produce five sons. They were named Ango, Bingo, Kalingo, Pundra and Shukko. Their descendants and lands, thus, were named after these five sons."
By the way, the records and reputation of the saint Dirghotoma, as detailed in the ancient Indian documents, would put modern protégés, such as Bill Clinton, to shame.
Quoting the above statement the author of "Bangalir Itikotha" [p. 9, Zulqarnain Publications, Dhaka] comments, "Thus, Bangali refers to the descendants of one of the 'bast...' sons of the Aryan saint, Dirghotoma. Bingo desh is the land of that Bingo people. The blood of Bangali is simply mixed up with Aryan and non-Aryan sources. Thus, they are of mixed blood. Since they are related to the Aryans by illicit blood relationship, the Aryans have share in all the glory and contribution of Bangali. Another words, Bangali's historical achievements can be partly attributed to the mix of the holy lineage of the Aryans. ... It is astonishing that even a erudite person such as Bankim Babu also conceded: 'Their (Aryan's) blood flows through the Bangali. All the noble nations that have risen to prominence due to the same (Aryan) blood, the same blood also flows in the Bangali.'"
It is interesting to note that the Aryans have been described in ancient Indian documents as Shur (deity, god), while those who stood up against, rejected, and fought against the Aryans, including the Bangali, have been called Ashur (demon, giant, monster, wicked). If the Aryans could not defeat these Ashurs, they would take the revenge in another way: depicting the history in such a way so that these people who could not be defeated and subjugated would be bastardized.
Long before Muslims came to Bengal, and especially its eastern part (which is now Bangladesh), the people of Bengal followed Buddhism, which originated without Aryan contribution. These people stood up against the Aryans and what they brought as religion. Whether today we are Muslims, Hindus, or Buddhists from the Bingo origin, to beat the drum of Bastardization not only defies the history, but it is also a sort of self-denial, unless those who Bastardize think that they are either pure in carrying the Aryan blood and heritage, or they find greater glory in carrying the Aryan blood as articulated by Bankimchandra.
B. Servility of Bengali Muslims
Mr. Sandeep Chowdhury wrote:
>I think the sentiments of belongingness to Islamic Ummah added to the
>generally servile attitude of Bengali Muslims has been the source of this attitude.
>After all Bengali Muslims who were the majority both in United Bengal
>and Pakistan failed to get their due share from either.>
First of all, as hinted in the brief discussion above as well as anyone can read the history of the Bengal, this part of the land has never been servile. Even Bankimchandra, who took pride in Bangali's Aryan connection, had to admit, "This Bengal was not Aryan land some nine hundred years ago. It was non-Aryan land and the Bengal had the same relationship with the Aryans as now India has with the English." [quoted in Bangalir Itikotha, p. 82].
But that was matter of the ancient past. Even in the struggle for independence from the British, the Bengal has taken a premier role. As part of the same struggle, the Muslims of Bengal, especially of the eastern part, have taken leading role for Pakistan Movement. Pakistan was sought by and for the Muslims of Bengal as well as many others, not necessarily for Islam. It was clearly manifested in the events, such as the Language Movement, following the independence of Pakistan. No, the Bangali did not show servility. They rose to the occasion. It might also be worthwhile to point out that the Language Movement, initially was not lead by the secularists or the leftists, but by conscious Muslims of Bengal, who felt that one of their basic human and Islamic rights was being threatened, and they won't have any of that.
The struggle of the Bangali Muslims would not have turned into a pursuit of liberation, if the Pakistani ruling clique did not create the necessary conditions for it. Thus, the primary and main responsibility of the break up of Pakistan lies with the ruling clique of Pakistan. What Pakistan's ruling clique did defies any human or Islamic norm. But it is also a fact that India did its part and did so effectively both to support and strengthen those, especially the secular and softer-to-India groups, who ultimately would lead the independence struggle and facilitate the role of India as a midwife.
But the fact that the Bangali of what is Bangladesh today would lay their life, rather than be unjustly subjugated, speaks clearly about their alleged "servility." This was a struggle against the injustice and discrimination that have been perpetrated against the Bangali; it was not against Islam. I was 11 during 1971. My uncles and cousins participated in the liberation war, neither as member of any party or organization, nor against Islam. My oldest uncle, whose son was a participant in the liberation war, was brutally killed by a so-called Muktijodhdha. This Muktijodhdha refused to give up his weapons and used his weapons for all sorts of vile personal reasons.
When late Sheikh Mujibur Rahman called upon everyone to surrender the weapons, he was among many who did not. Later when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman called upon the nation to turn in the names of those who have not surrendered their weapons, my uncle signed first on a petition identifying such non-compliant Muktijodhdhas. As I said, one day he was picked up by this Muktijodhdha while my uncle was fishing in a remote area and later he told everyone with great deal of jubilation that four people held my uncle while he struck my uncle's head with an axe. My uncle was an ordinary person and an ordinary Muslim. He encouraged his son to go and fight against the injustice of Pakistani rulers. While his son was active in the war, our house in the city was burnt by the Pakistan Army and my family as well as my uncle's family were constantly threatened and harassed by the Pakistani Army and their cohorts. But his life was brutally ended by someone who was also supposedly a freedom fighter.
My uncle's sending his son to be a participant in the liberation struggle was not a servile act; nor was he servile when he decided to risk his life by signing the petition for a noble cause. Most of us have similar experience to share.
Late Major Jalil, an indisputable freedom fighter, later on turned against India as the ruling class in Bangladesh was cozying up with India, sacrificing, in Major Jalil's view, vital interests of the country. Whether he was right or wrong, he was not servile against the Pakistani Army, nor was he servile against India, when he was convinced about it. Now, we can say anything we want, we have that liberty, especially on the internet, but see if we are being objective in attributing a general label of servility against the Bengali Muslims.
The fact that many Bangladeshi Muslims might feel closer to the "people" of Pakistan compared to India does not have anything to do with servility. There are other relevant factors that help explain this better.
C. Spread of Islam in South Asia and the Bengal
Mr. Sandeep Chowdhury wrote:
>After all the Pakistan army's action in Bangladesh
>is a test prototype of how Islam swept the subcontinent, ...
I started with the statement that wrong done by ANYONE to ANYONE is wrong. Has there been wrongs committed by Muslims in history? The answer is: plenty. The victims of many such wrongs have been both Muslims and non-Muslims. However, no such wrong is sanctioned by Islam. Rather such wrongs have been committed in violation of Islam.
Comparing the role of Pakistan Army's action in Bangladesh with how Islam spread in that part of the world defies history. It is a established fact that long before the Mughal rule in India, Islam was spreading especially through the Arakan by Muslim traders as well as Muslims of Sufi (spiritual) backgrounds. Why the people of this part of the Bengal turned so easily to Islam is a different subject.
As far as others from South Asia who turned to Islam, a great many of them simply found themselves liberated from the clutch of the caste system. The Dalit (untouchables), among the natives of the Indian soil, who have been pushed down to the lowest of the social ladder by the Aryans, embraced Islam in large number, which does not require much explanation.
Islam is greatly misunderstood in the context of the experience in our regional history. Some of it is distortion of history about Muslims and Muslim rule, and some of it are wrongs on the part of the Muslim rulers.
But equating wrongs of some Muslim, as in the case of Pakistan Army, generally with Islam and how it spread is also wrong. Instead of adding my own viewpoints about this issue, let me bring some from those who have greater credibility, especially among the Indians.
"Sense of justice is one of the most wonderful ideals of Islam, because as I read in the Qur'an I find those dynamic principles of life, not mystic but practical ethics for the daily conduct of life suited to the whole world." -- SPEECHES AND WRITINGS OF SAROJINI NAIDU, Madras, 1918, p. 167.
One should read Manobendra Nath Roy's (a prominent Indian historian) The Historical Role of Islam, where he has elaborately explained the reason of Islam's success not only in Rome, Persia and China, but also in India. In his view, those who want to distort the history emphasize the role of sword in spreading Islam. He points out that it was the concept of universal social justice, devoid of any class, race or caste that won the hearts of those who embraced Islam.
One can find the same echo in various parts of the literature of Kothashilpi Sharatchandra Chattopadhdhay. I have attempted to translate the following excerpt as a sample from his novel Palli Shamaj in Shulov Sharat Shamogro, Vol. 1, p. 164. Please excuse my poor translation.
*** ... With a touch of bewilderment Ramesh said, Why then such things happen, auntie? There are so many muslims in the other village, but they do not have such conflicts! No one corners a person in difficulty like this. You already know that the other day no one was willing to even touch the dead body of Darik Thakoor, because due to lack of means his ritual atonement (prioshchitto) was not done.
Bishsheshshori said, I know my son, I know. But, the caste system is not to be blamed. The fact is: Muslims still have a true religion, but we don't. Whatever is true religion has completely disappeared from our villages. What we really have are some superstitious rituals and conduct (achar-bichar), and the resulting divisive partisanship.
With a heavy sigh, Ramesh asked, Is there then no remedy, auntie? Bishsheshshori said, Of course, there is. The remedy lies in knowledge and education. It lies only the direction toward which you have taken initiative. That is why I urge you, please don't abandon this land of birth.
Ramesh was going to say something, but Bishsheshshori interrupted, You might say that ignorance and illiteracy is no less among Muslims. But it is the truth of their religion that has kept them safe from these maladies. Let me tell you Ramesh, you can find out about it in Pirpur that they have isolated a wealthy man by the name Jafar there. Because he does not feed his stepmother. But the other day our Govinda Ganguli beat the widow of his elder brother half-dead, and instead of any social reprisal, he continues to be a social elite. Such crimes to us is merely personal virtue or vice. If God wishes He will punish or not punish, but the rural society does not give a damn about it. ***
Sharatchandra through the characters in his novel was lamenting the decadence of Hindu society in terms of its ethical, social, and humanitarian aspects. As a Muslim, I can join him now in lamenting the fact that the Muslim societies have also followed the same path of decadence. Just like Hindus did not need Muslims to be wronged because the problem was deeply rooted within the Hindu society, today Muslims don't need non-Muslims to be wronged either. There are plenty of so-called Muslims to take care of that.
As far as religion as a matter of divine truth and source of salvation is concerned, we can and should try with mutual respect to communicate to as well as encourage others to be knowledgeable about what we believe. There shouldn't or can't be any compulsion in matters of faith. However, when we talk about our social realm, instead of trying to dig for negative things among others and hurling insults, it would be lot more worthwhile and dignified if we can find common grounds to do good that benefit all of us.
When I read Veda, Upanishad, or Mahabharata, I might not recognize their divine origin or I might not accept these as a source of truth, yet there are so many good things in these scriptures. I can be a better human being just following those few good things. Similarly, a Hindu may not recognize Islam as a source of truth, but consider just the two quotations I have appended to this article, you will probably agree that even just these two statements, if anyone would follow, would be pretty good.
Instead of promoting nationalism that create distance, hatred toward others and blind pride in one's own nation, why don't we try to find common grounds for pursuing common good?
I have not written this rather lengthy response to offend anyone's feeling. If I inadvertently do so, I apologize in advance. My desire is to motivate ourselves to pursue and identify common grounds and seek ways to improve ourselves both at the personal and social level. Feedback from Alochona readers is most welcome.
"O ye who believe! stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and LET NOT THE HATRED OF OTHERS TO YOU make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do. [The Qur'an/5/al-Maidah/8]
The Prophet Muhammad (p) said: "God will definitely enforce the settlement of all the dues to those entitled to receive them on the Day of Judgment, even the wrong done to a hornless goat by a horned goat will be addressed." [Riyadus Saleheen, #204]
Even though I do not recognize these as from the Divine source, I can also see the benefit and wisdom of the following:
"He who hates no creature and is friendly and compassionate to all, who is free from attachment and egotism, equal-minded in pleasure and pain, and forgiving ... is dear to Me. [Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Chapter XII, #13-14]
"Lust, anger and greed, these three are the soul-destroying gates of hell. Therefore, one should forsake these three." [Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Chapter XVI, #21]
Mohammad Omar Farooq
Associate Professor of Economics and Finance
Upper Iowa University
Index of my writings
Have you visited my site on Kazi Nazrul Islam?
Genocide 1971 Page?
Hadith Humor Page?