In the lapidary phrase of the writer V. S. Naipaul, India is a “wounded civilization” because of the centuries of violence and mass killings that India’s indigenous Hindus endured at the hands of Muslim conquerors, beginning with the invasions by the Ghaznis. Now some Muslims in the United States are using a mosque’s destruction 30 years ago to claim that Muslims in India are living under a growing threat of violence. “American Islamists Continue Attacks on India’s ‘Hindutva’ Ideology,” by Abha Shankar, IPT News, December 28, 2022:
American Islamists are using a mosque’s destruction 30 years ago to cast Indian Muslims as living under a fascist threat. They are hoping public ignorance – about the site’s history as a Hindu temple and a court’s ruling setting aside land for a new mosque – will create a false, dangerously misleading perception of a looming Muslim genocide in India.
“In 1992, the world watched with horror as Hindutva extremist political leaders incited street mobs to demolish the Babri Masjid, a 16th century mosque of incalculable historic and cultural value,” Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Executive Director Nihad Awad said in a press release earlier this month, marking the 30th anniversary of the demolition of a 16th century mosque built in the Hindu holy city of Ayodhya under the rule of Babur, founder of the Mughal dynasty in northern India.
“The destruction of India’s Islamic heritage is part of a campaign of cultural ethnic cleansing by Hindutva extremists and the far-right Modi government that enables them,” Awad added. “The international community must take action to end the Indian government’s war on Islam and Muslims.”
The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) called Dec. 6 — the anniversary of the mosque’s demolition — “the darkest day in the history of independent India.”
Non-Muslims will disagree. Perhaps to the IAMC, the “darkest day” (which is not meant as literally “lasting a single day”) — was when the Babri Mosque was destroyed. But not to the rest of us. For non-Muslims the “darkest day in the history of independent India” was November 26, 2008, when close to 170 Hindu and Jewish civilians (at a Chabad House) were massacred by ten Muslim terrorists.
Another period in recent Indian history – considerably longer than a day – that could be considered a “dark period” was “The Emergency,” a 21-month period between 1975 to 1977 marked by a crackdown on civil liberties and stifling of dissent under the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi; it is widely regarded as the “darkest hour” of India’s post-independence history.
Interestingly, the same groups lamenting the loss of a mosque were silent in 2020 when Turkey’s Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan decided to revert the ancient Christian cathedral of Hagia Sophia into a mosque. A Turkish court ruled that the 1934 decision to turn it into a museum had been illegal.
The Islamic groups bewail their loss of the Babri Mosque, which Muslims had long ago built over the remains of a major Hindu temple at Ayodha that the Muslims had destroyed. This mosque was built on the site where Hindus believe the god Shri Ram (Lord Vishnu) was born. On December 6, 1992, Hindus assembled to pull down the mosque, revealing evidence of the Hindu temple underneath. Was this wrong? Should the Hindus not be allowed to recover one of the holiest of their sites, by rebuilding their temple at the site of Rama’s birth? Muslims did much the same with the Hagia Sophia, not in pulling it down but in repurposing it as a mosque. For centuries the Hagia Sophia had been the largest church in Christendom. Then, after the Fall of Constantinople on May 29, 1453, the Muslim Turks turned that grandest of churches into a mosque, and it remained a mosque until 1934, when Ataturk turned it into a museum. That’s how things stood until Erdogan, a fervent Muslim intent on rolling back Ataturk’s secularist reforms, turned Hagia Sophia back into a mosque in July 2020.
Apparently when Muslims take over a structure belonging to another religion, and either declare that structure a mosque, as happened with the Hagia Sophia, or obliterate the non-Muslim structure and build a mosque upon it, as Muslims did when they destroyed the Hindu Ayodhya Temple, and built the Babri Mosque on its ruins, that is fine. It is only when non-Muslims attempt to reclaim their religious sites – the temple to Shri Ram at Ayodhya, the Hagia Sophia church – that we should, according to Muslims, be outraged.
In contrast to CAIR’s simplistic and bigoted description of the Babri mosque issue, the truth mired in India’s centuries-old troubled history is far more complex.
The mosque was built atop a “grand temple” believed by millions of Hindus to be the birthplace of one of Hinduism’s chief deities, Shri Ram. Hindus and Muslims filed competing claims over the Babri mosque, which lingered in courts for decades.
Archaeologically there is enough evidence to say that below the controversial Babri mosque, there were temple remains,” K. K. Muhammad, a former regional director of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) told the Times of India in 2019. Several artifacts and sculptures found after the mosque’s demolition “clearly [say] the temple has been dedicated to that incarnation of Lord Vishnu (‘Shri Ram’).”
Muhammad was part of an ASI team that carried out an excavation of the site in 1976-77. His conclusions were confirmed in a 2003 ASI report. But the ASI’s findings, according to Muhammad, were contested by India’s “Left historians,” whom he accused of stalling a swift resolution to the dispute….
Muhammad’s assertions have been confirmed by historian Meenakshi Jain, author of two books on the dispute, “Rama and Ayodhya” and “The Battle for Rama: Case of the Temple at Ayodhya.”
Hindu frustration with the slow judicial process and a political establishment unwilling to take sides on the issue galvanized a movement to build a temple on the disputed site. The movement reached an “inflexion point” with the mosque’s 1992 destruction by a group of kar sewaks (Hindu religious volunteers), who attacked the mosque’s domes with crowbars and hammers.
A September 2020 special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court ruling concluded the “Babri demolition was spontaneous, not pre-planned,” and acquitted all 32 individuals accused in the case.
The mosque’s destruction led to violent riots in Mumbai and the 1993 retribution bomb blasts in the city by Islamist terrorists.
In a unanimous November 2019 ruling, a five-judge Supreme Court panel paved the way for building a temple on the disputed site. While calling the 1992 mosque destruction “a serious violation of the rule of law,” the court allotted a five-acre plot to construct a much larger mosque in a “suitable, prominent place in Ayodhya.”
“Justice would not prevail if the court were to overlook the entitlement of Muslims who’ve been deprived of the structure of the mosque through means which should not have been employed,” the court acknowledged.
The Sunni Waqf Board accepted the Supreme Court ruling and plans to build a mosque, an Indo-Islamic research center, a hospital, and a library on the plot allotted to it.
The Supreme Court’s ruling was more than generous to the Muslims, who were handed five acres on which to build not just a new mosque to replace the Babri Mosque, but also an Islamic research enter, a hospital, and a library.
The Babri mosque is not the only mosque alleged to have been built over a Hindu temple. Historians have cited evidence that early Islamist invaders, and later Muslims who established rule in India from the early 12th to mid-18th centuries, destroyed close to 36,000 Hindu temples. Another 200 Hindu temples reportedly were destroyed in Jammu and Kashmir during the 1990s.
Just as the Muslim Arabs who conquered the Middle East and North Africa destroyed thousands of churches, synagogues, and Zoroastrian fire temples, the Muslims who swooped down on India from the north and conquered most of the country between the twelfth and eighteenth centuries for Islam destroyed, it is estimated, 36,000 Hindu temples.
“We too denounce the violence that arose in the tearing down of Babri [mosque] and its aftermath,” Suhag Shukla, executive director of the Hindu American Foundation, told the Investigative Project on Terrorism. “Yet it is telling that CAIR provides zero acknowledgment about the archaeological, documentary and testimonial evidence confirming the deeply sacred significance of that site to Hindus for millennia as well as the decades of legal deadlock over its status.”
While Hindus are willing to acknowledge the intercommunal violence that followed the destruction of the Babri Mosque, during which 2,000 Hindus and Muslims were killed, the Muslims continue to deny that underneath the Babri Mosque was all the evidence needed to show convincingly that it had been deliberately built on top of one of the holiest sites in Hinduism. Why are Muslims, including the members of the Indian-American Muslim Council, silent on the subject of the Islamic jihad terror that continues to plague India? Why do American Muslim groups such as the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) falsely paint Muslims as victims of one-sided aggression by “Hindutva extremists”?
The “aggression” that the IAMC complains about at Ayodhya has in truth been that of the Muslims who refused to admit that the Babri Mosque was built over the ruins of the Hindu temple built to Shri Ram (one incarnation of Lord Vishnu) and that holy site – where Shri Ram was believed to have been born — should again be restored as a Hindu religious site.
CAIR’s Dec. 6 release is part of that campaign.
American Islamists describe Hindutva as “a shameless ideology, a hateful ideology,” and allude to its supporters as “fascists” and “Nazis.”
Hindutva is simply the ideology of promoting Hindu interests and resisting the relentless aggressiveness of the Muslims who remain in India. It includes supporting the return of Hindus to parts of India where they have been chased out by Muslims — today, most notably, that means Indian-ruled parts of Kashmir.
“This ideology [HIndutva] is very clear,” Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) Advocacy Director Ajit Sahisaid during a May Islamist convention. “It says that India is the land of the Hindus because their forefathers started out in this country and they created the religion of Hinduism thousands of years ago.”
Ever since the Muslim invaders arrived in India, beginning with the Arabs who invaded in 711 A.D. and seized Sindh, they made savage war on Hindus and on Hinduism. They destroyed 36,000 Hindu temples and temple complexes. They killed tens of millions of Hindus during the 250 years of Mughal rule. Indian historians, such as K.S. Lal, estimate that Muslims were responsible over the centuries for the deaths of 70-80 million Hindus. Other tens of millions of Hindus converted to Islam in order to stay alive, and their descendants are the Muslims that we find today not just in India, but in Pakistan and Bangladesh. India is the “land of the Hindus” just as Arabia is the “land of the Arabs” and Eretz Israel “the land of the Jews.” It’s a statement of fact, just like the Hindu claim – that IAMC Advocacy Director Ajit Sahi said finds so outrageous – that the Hindus “created the religion of Hinduism thousands of years ago.” Are Muslims suggesting that these statements are false?
India’s political leadership is “sworn to the Hindutva theology of Hindu nationalism,” Sahi added. “Their one goal, single goal is to convert India into a Hindu country.”
Nonsense. It takes some nerve for a Muslim to accuse Hindus of wanting to “convert” their own country to Hinduism. It is Islam that has ravaged the Hindu civilization of India. Hindutva is an ideology of resistance to aggressive Muslims, to ensure that India remains the country where Hindus cannot be pushed around, discriminated against, even dispossessed and killed, as was the case when Muslims ruled until they were replaced by the British.
Sahi attributed the ideology’s origin to Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.
But historian Vikram Sampath, author of a two-part biography on Savarkar, who popularized the term[Hindutva], argues that Hindutva was “a political pushback to political Islam” and a “cultural, national identity marker particularly during the time of the Khilafat movement where people were being led on a very dangerous path of identity politics based on religion.”
Savarkar, the first proponent of Hindutva, was no Hindu fanatic. He was an atheist and a rationalist who opposed the caste system, supported intra-caste marriages and dining, and deplored cow worship as “superstition.” He was also originally a supporter of Hindu-Muslim unity, but his early, and naïvely hopeful view was transformed when he realized that Muslims had no desire for such unity, but intended to suppress the Hindus and make India part of Dar al-Islam. It was then that he arrived at the ideology of Hindutva, which is nothing more than the political expression of the desire to maintain the dominance of Hindus and Hinduism in India.
Sampath cites the example of Mahatma Gandhi’s support for the Khilafat (“Caliphate”) Movement that sought “to re-establish the despotic Caliphate in Turkey that the British had deposed in World War I.” Gandhi supported the movement in an attempt to forge Hindu-Muslim unity in the freedom struggle against British rule, disregarding the “open calls to violent jihad against kafirs or non-believers” at Khilafat conferences, writes Sampath. A tragic outcome of the movement, according to him, was the 1921 genocide of Hindu Nairs by Moplah Muslims in India’s south-west Malabar coast.
Gandhi never understood just how the Muslim conquest of India had made it, in Naipaul’s words, a “wounded civilization.” He was soft on Islam, which is why he was assassinated. His political naivete was also deeply offensive; one of his most infamous remarks was his “advice” to Jews. In 1947, interviewed by Louis Fischer, author of The Life of Mahatma Gandhi, Gandhi said: “Hitler killed five [sic] million Jews. It is the greatest crime of our time. But the Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher’s knife. They should have thrown themselves in the sea from cliffs…. It would have aroused the world and the people of Germany…. As it is they succumbed anyway in their millions.” Satyagraha – non-violence? Yes, we can all imagine the effect that such a demonstration of nonviolent resistance would have changed the minds of Heinrich Himmler, Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Eichmann, and Adolf Hitler himself. Gandhi is not a reliable guide to anything, least of all to how Hindus can best protect themselves and their country from Muslim aggression. He never grasped the enormity of the Muslim threat to his own country.
By drawing comparisons with “Nazism” and “fascism” and calling Hindutva “a hateful extremist ideology,” American Islamists only seek to deflect attention from radical Islam and Islamist terrorism, in order to portray India’s religious strife as one-sided Hindu violence.
It is not Hindutva that is a “hateful extremist ideology,” but rather Islam itself that inculcates in Believers the notion that they are the “best of peoples” (Qur’an 3:110) and non-Muslims the “most vile of created beings” (Qur’an 98:6). It is Islam that throughout the Qur’an prescribes violence against the Infidels (see, for example, 2:191-193, 3:151, 4:89, 8:12, 8:60, 9:5, 9:29, 47:4). It is Muhammad himself, the Perfect Man (al-insan al-kamil) and Model of Conduct (uswa hasana), who in the Hadith says “I have been made victorious through terror” and “War is deceit.”
Hindutva does not promote Hindu supremacism; it merely resists Islamic supremacism, which is a different thing. Its adherents defend the right of Hindus to continue to exist, as practicing Hindus, in their own country, and not to be subdued by the violent votaries of Islam. It is Islam, not Hindutva, that reminds us of Fascism and Nazism, in its clear intent to conquer the world, so that Islam everywhere dominates, and Muslims rule, everywhere. Hindutva is nothing more than the conviction that Hindus can and should fight back to protect themselves and their country, India, from the Muslims who so obviously wish them ill. Hindutva does not imply that all Muslims must be expelled from India. It does mean that Muslims cannot be allowed to wantonly attack Hindus as they have been doing wherever and whenever they can in the subcontinent, most recently in Indian-ruled parts of Kashmir, where as many as 200,000 Hindu pandits were killed or driven out by Muslims in the early 1990s. That is what Hindutva is all about: taking pride in India’s Hindu civilization, a desire to preserve that civilization, and to live freely, without fear of Muslim aggression, as Hindus in their own country.