By: Shahzada Ahsan Ashraf sheikh
Reality from history:
Muslims ruled over Spain from 712 AD to 1492 AD for 780 years, yet today there are no Muslims in Spain though every aspect of Spanish life has a touch of Islam. Spanish language has many Arabic words, its music has an Arabic tone, its culture has more Arabic influence than the European, and proper nouns in Spanish often have the Arabic prefixal.
From 1492, when the last bastion of Muslim political strength Grenada fell, the Muslims of Spain were on the decline and its culmination took place after 120 years when the last batch of Muslim die-hard left Spain in 1612. From that year, Islam vanished from the Spanish horizons.
A particular noteworthy point is that during this period of Islamic decline from Spain, the entire civilised world was ruled by Muslims. The Ottoman Turks had conquered Constantinople in 1553, and were ruling the entire Balkan Peninsula, Egypt was ruled by the powerful Mamiukes, Persia was at its political pinnacle under the Abbasi rulers, and India was ruled by the Moghals.
Still Islam vanished from Spain and none of these great Muslim armies did anything to protect the Muslims of Spain. How Islam was ejected from Spain had been a subject of keen study by lndia’s Hindu Nazis in the 30s and 40s of this century. They studied this aspect to be copied in India and to counter this possibility, the Muslim leaders also studied this to prevent a repetition of the Spanish methods because Muslims (forming 11.35% of the population as per 1981 census) as lndia’s single largest minorities have become the biggest headache to the upper caste Hindus. But the present-day Muslims are totally ignorant of the history of Islamic decline in Spain and hence of the designs surrounding it.
Through this we intend to shed a little light on this subject so that the thinking section of the Muslims and their sympathisers may do some more research on this subject. As in India, Spanish Muslims had three categories: (i) the descendants of the original Arabs, (ii) descendants of Arab fathers and Spanish mothers and (iii) Christian converts to Islam. Immediately after the fall of Grenada many of the original Arabs to save their lives (not property, as they were not permitted to carry their wealth) left Spain to Tunisia and Morocco; many died on their journey by the attacking Christian hordes.
Rest of the original Arabs who opted to live in Spain itself were subsequently branded ‘foreigners” (as in India) and destroyers of Spain. The other category of Muslims viz. the descendants of Muslim fathers and Christianmothers and converts from Christianity opted to live in Spain believing in the declaration of King Ferdinand that complete religious freedom would be guaranteed. (in India also, we are told that Muslims enjoy full religious freedom and minority rights). The attacks by Christian on their lives and property during the earlier years was pardoned as a temporary phenomenon.
Compare it with the development that took place in India after the partition (1947). But these attacks on Muslim life and property in Spain did not abate but continued for about 50 years with lesser intensity in a sporadic manner, just as it is happening in India today. In the earlier years, the Indian Muslims resisted and fought back. There were mini-battles in the streets, but gradually there were one-sided attacks and every time Muslims were the losers. Of late, the Hindu police itself is let lose to kill the Muslims in India.
While the organized Christian groups were committing such massacres, Ferdinand’s Govt, in Spain adopted the policy of eliminating Muslims from the services and adopting the following measures:-
Arabic was removed from administration,
schools attached to mosques were debarred from teaching academic and secular subjects like science, history, mathematics and philosophy. Only religious teaching could be imparted,
Lessons in history were faked by which the Muslim rule was dubbed as barbaric. Contribution of Muslims to the development of Spain was avoided,
Muslim houses were made objects of constant searching by police on allegations of arms hoarding and secret meetings, Original Arab Muslims were projected as enemies of Christians and destroyers of Spain. Christian converts were persuaded to reconvert to Christianity on the ground that their ancestors were forced to become Muslims and as there is no more coercion, they should revert to Christianity.
Muslims who were from Muslim-Christian parentage were branded as bastards and ridiculed and persuaded to revert to Christianity. Marriages performed in the Islamic manner were directed to be registered with the judicial officers. Islamic law was declared illegal. Every method followed in Spain is being experimented in India with better precision and timing.
Thus Muslims in Spain were made objects of ridicule, condemnation and continuous attack. Burning of Muslim houses and shops was encouraged to destroy their economy. Mock ceremonies of reconversion of Muslims to Christianity were held and publicized. In India, Hindu Nazis of all hues-Arya Samaj, Ramakrishna Mission, Vishwa Hindu Parishad etc,. are doing the same. The first two generation of Spanish Muslims adopted passive methods to save their religion by teaching Arabic to their children at home and mosques, and telling them orally about the realities but gradually they lost the zeal.
When marriages were ordered to be celebrated only through Govt. agencies, Muslims in early stages performed dual marriages – one with the Govt. authorities and again privately in their homes in the Islamic manner. Gradually the second ceremony was given up as even such a private ceremony was banned.
During this period, Muslim masses gradually fell out of the grips of the Muslim leadership and Muslim elites started flocking to Turkey, Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt where they were received with sympathy. Poor Muslim masses were left uncared for. This is exactly what is happening in India. The richer, English-educated Muslims are getting Brahminised. They have become imitators of upper caste Hindus as they live not in Muslim localities but in Hindu areas.
The poor Muslims (they form 95% of the Muslim population) live in ghettos and being better followers of Islam, they are left high and dry. Hence they are getting killed in all anti-Muslim riots. The seeds sown in the first half of the century in Spain started yielding results in the second half. There was no political leadership, no organization to protect Muslims and enlightened personalities to save the situation. Religious leaders knowing nothing but Islamic’ theology tried their best to save the situation, but against heavy propaganda by the Govt. agencies, lures and offers to reconverts, ignorance of Islamic values by the masses and sense of inferiority nurtured in the minds of Muslim masses were too big a force to be undone by the theologians.
This needed a political leadership and an organization with arms to counter, but there was none. Those who spoke of invoking the help of Muslim powers of Turkey and Egypt were feared and exposed before the authorities (by the Muslims themselves) to be condemned. Without willing fighters, other Muslim powers could not help. Those who had settled in Turkey and Egypt advised the authorities there to desist’from such a thought as otherwise atrocities on Muslims of Spain would increase.
An Ahmed Shah Abdali was needed but there was none. And the Muslim masses joined the “mainstream” of Spanish life and the mullahs finding no job for their preaching gradually left Spain. And the last batch to leave Spain consisted of the diehard mullahs in 1612.
In India also the political leadership of the Muslims became a tail of the Hindu parties led by the upper castes. Only the theological leadership like that of Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi (Ali Miyan) has tried to maintain the cultural identity of the Indian Muslims. This “Spanish experiment” is being tried with greater energy and efficiency in India. Urdu, which is as Islamic in India as Arabic was in Spain, is being eased out. Muslims are voluntarily holding on to madrasas.
English-educated richer Muslims are away from the Muslim masses. We saw this at the Tablighi Jamat International conference held in Bangalore (DV, March 15, 1985). They are not going to Muslim countries, but are taking refuge in their psychological and physical seclusion. Any move to organise them to protect the Muslim life and property is branded as communal. Any Muslim flirting, if not supporting the upper castes, is called a “nationalist Muslim”. The gulf between the Muslim masses and educated rich Muslims is widening every day.
Mass killing of Muslims is considered something natural by the Muslim leadership itself. Whenever it is raised at international Islamic platforms such actions are called interference in the internal affairs of India. Muslims history is deleted from the syllabus. Names of Muslims who died for India are avoided. A great martyr who died for India like Tipu Sultan is unknown to youngsters, whereas the name of Tantia Tope, who fought not for India but for his pension, and Jhansi Laxmi Bai, who fought for her adopted son’s heirship to the throne, is brought on the lips of every Indian.
No Muslim gets awards for his contribution to science, medicine, music, art or gallantry. Even those who fought from the ranks of the ruling Congress Party like Moulana Azad, Kidwai, Syed Mahmood, Humayun Kabir etc. do not have a road or extension named after them. But there are half-a-dozen in the names of each upper caste leaders in our towns and cities. History is being re-written. (“Falsifying Indian History”, DV editorial, April 16, 1985). Muslims are killed daily and their houses and shops burnt. The doors of the Army, police and administration are closed to them.
And yet Muslim organizations to protect Islam are coming up like mushrooms. Everybody wants to protect Islam and nobody wants to protect Muslims. We are really worried. A study of the Ruling Class policies reveals that it has great similarity with the one followed by Ferdinand and Isabelle in Spain. The only difference is that the Hindu upper castes are more sharp and sophisticated because of the limitations imposed in the 20th century by the checks exercisable by the United Nations Human Rights Charter and international public opinion.
The systematic and daily anti-Muslim riots resulting in loss of life and property, and above all the sense of fear in the hearts of every Muslim, elimination of the martial Muslims from the Defence, paramilitary and police forces and brahminising of these forces, closing the doors of appointments in Govt. services and public undertakings, Brahminisation of education and mass.media like radio, TV and advertisement, elimination of Urdu as official language from those areas which form the presentlay States of Punjab, Haryana, UP, Bihar, parts of Madhya Pradesh, Maharastra, Andhra Pradhesh and Karnataka overnight in 1947-48, gradual closing of Urdu schools are all examples of positive anti-Muslim policies.
On the brahminical psychological warfare side comes the cries of Personal Law amendment, now diluted as common civil code, greatness of the Indian (Hindu) culture, projection of notorious anti-Muslim personalities like “Mahatma” Gandhi, B. G. Tilak, Madan Mohan Malaviya, Veer Savarkar, Lala Laipat Rai as heroes of India to belittle the contribution of Muslims for the development and progress of the country, re-writing of Indian history, describing Muslim professions like beef-selling as a sin and glorifying cow protection policies, introduction of mechanical slaughter of animals to throw out of job butchers, declaration of import and export business carried on by Muslims as smuggling are policies through which vulnerable Indian masses are misguided, resulting in a psychological anti-Muslim bias.
Muslim electoral constituencies are divided horizontally and vertically so that they don’t have an effective voting power anywhere and thrusting upon them ultra-secular Muslim leaders who have started worshipping Hindu idols and such scenes being systematically televised. Unfortunately Muslim leaders, who are dejected with the Govt., repose much confidence in Hindu masses and hope to secure their help ignoring the fact that the poor Hindu (Dalit) masses are as much victims of such a propaganda. And as on this day only seeds are being sown. The harvest is yet to come. When the harvest reason comes, what will be harvested in India is repetition of Spain, unless the Muslims resort to counter measures soon.
It is high time the Muslim/ intelligentsia rises to the occasion to undo the repetition of the history of Spain in India. Islam has always been protected by the Muslim masses and not by the classes. Rich Muslims, who are not even 5% of the Muslim population (with minor exceptions) are joining the upper caste exploiters. They may talk of Islam but they have forgotten the fellow Muslims. Please note: religion does not protect its followers, but followers protect the religion. Remember if Islam has to be saved in India, Muslims have to be saved.
The writer is former federal minister and Chairman PIA