Muslims looking to turn Gyanvapi, Kashi and the Shahi Masjid, Mathura into exactly the scale issues the other side wants should stop by to take a look at the cover of the May 20 issue of The Economist. It shows Narendra Modi in flight in an electric three-wheeler.
“India’s Moment” in bold print dominates the cover. Beneath the title, in smaller type, are words of doubt: “Will Modi blow it up?”
Your moans about the two mosques may tear the sky, but they are unlikely to distract the world from its main concern. A new world order is being shaped. While this process is underway, India is in a very favorable position. No country in the world is courted with such assiduity. Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar has found his touch. It corrected the tilt that raised India’s value in the emerging post-Ukraine world order.
The omens are bad for the Muslims who have pitched their tents just at this time around the mosques. The world is fascinated by how the world cookie will collapse. The Economist, which is the mouthpiece of Western capitalism, is wide-eyed: “India is likely to be the world’s fastest growing economy this year. Where do the two minority places of worship figure in this hype?
The lavish barrage of expectations that is showered is not just for India’s sake. The world “will have recognized, if it has not already, that the rise of China was a unique event; Indian growth will change the world.
As a precaution, the magazine gave enough weight to the political and social decay that Modi must stop before India goes full throttle into the straight. The main message of Hindutva, says The Economist, is “that Hindus must unite to face danger”. which may “sound absurd in a country with an unassailable preponderance of Hindus”.
“But the urgency and cry against the narrative of a Hindu Reconquista after centuries of Muslim and European domination over mother India is overwhelming to many.”
Gyanvapi and Shahi Masjid devotees should note two points in the paragraph. Hindu “reconquered” is invoked, recalling the Christian reconquest in Spain, against a Muslim religious category. Until then, the picture fits India like a glove.
But alongside the Muslims are listed the inhabitants of a territory, Europe. Of course, Europeans also have a religion. French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing opposed Turkey’s entry into Europe because “Turkey is Muslim and European civilization is Christian”.
Don’t blame The Economist. This is an established western sleight of hand. During the Bosnian war, the “Serbs and Croats” were in conflict with the “Bosnian Muslims” – two ethnic entities in conflict with a religious category. To elaborate on Serbian Orthodox and Croatian Catholics would open fault lines within the Christian universe, as the conflict in Northern Ireland does.
For those protecting the parapets of the Kashi and Mathura mosques, it may be helpful to know the opposing side. And it is the multitudes of the “opposite side” who sway in a mystical trance with their “beens” (snake charmer’s flute), trying to hypnotize Mother India. When India wakes up, it will be “their” bulwark against China.
The word “reconquista” used by the magazine is loaded. It resonates with the return of Christian power in Andalusia. The end of Muslim rule in Spain, which lasted 800 years, bears little resemblance to the plight of Muslims in the Indian subcontinent, but Hindutva writers can draw inspiration from how Jews and Muslims were harassed, harassed and tortured during the Inquisition that followed. the return of Christian domination in Spain.
The Inquisition was harsher on the Jews who found hospitality in the Muslim Kingdom of Morocco and later also in the Ottoman Empire. The gratitude of the Jew to the King of Morocco lasted for generations. I have seen photographs of King Hassan II dominate the living rooms of Sephardic Jews in Jerusalem.
What should interest Gyanvapi and Shahi Masjid enthusiasts is the story of one of the most magnificent mosques in the world I have ever seen. Poet Iqbal’s visit to the monument resulted in a masterpiece whose opening line encapsulates the metaphysical and civilizational perspective. He sees the great monument of Cordoba (Masjid e-Qarduba in Urdu) as:
“Silsilaye roz o shubAsl e mamat o hayat »(A continuity with the interchangeability of day and night, a metaphor for life and death.)
Back to the two mosques: now is not the time to be reasonable and yet it is tempting to coax something out of Rudyard Kipling:
“If you can keep a cool head when everything around you
Lose theirs and blame you…..”
The Sachar Committee report in 2005 showed the abysmal fall of Muslims on all social indicators, but even that report was not as hurtful as today’s reality. He did not show the beaten and bruised Muslims. When a people crumbles, how do you tell them that mosques are medieval relics of conquest and that Kashi and Mathura are like Mecca and Medina to the Hindus. Mathura “nagari”, not the mosque, is where Maulana Hasrat Mohani longed to die in “Krishna’s embrace”.
Wali Dakhini wrote:
“Koocha e yaar aen Kaashi haiJogia dil wahan ka vaasi hai”
(The way my beloved lives is just like Kashi
The yogi of my heart has taken up residence there.)
This is not the time to remind Wali of a wounded people. Although the irony is that Wali’s mazar outside Ahmedabad’s main police station was razed to the ground by rioters in February 2002 who probably didn’t even know who was buried there. No, now is not the time to tell them anything, not even the fact that the issue was raised now precisely in view of the 2024 elections and the centenary of the RSS in 2025. This is an invitation to Muslims to sink. BJP will then polarize.
Also, be warned on another count. The Economist has already told you: too bad but your tragedies are not known to the world.
Cover photograph – The Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba