Islamic Sectarianism

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nataraja
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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby nataraja » 20 Jun 2011 04:59

Carl,

Tell me something. Throughout the history of Hindu-Islamic interaction, has the problem ever been of Hindus not being forthcoming to muslims ? Has the problem ever been that Hindus have been intolerant and considered the Muslims, "kafirs" or "subhumans", or fit to be raped and killed after being offered one chance to accept Allah ? Show me one serious Hindu text or one serious Hindu Sage or one serious Hindu political leader who has characterized muslims that way. Even in the most extreme Hindu theology, show me where it talks about killing non-believers if they dont submit.

You are right in the micro sense, that there may be similarities between sufi-ism and some Hindu practices. And it is very noble of you to try and build a bridge between the two theologies. But at a macro level the problem is that in order to build a bridge, you need two sides wanting to build that bridge. Show me one Islamist theologist or scholar who talks about perhaps modernizing Islam to where there is some minimal level of recognition of non semetic religions, some minimal recognition which at least permits the adherents of these religions to live.

I am sure there were a lot of things in common between the Nazis and the Jews too, but it is not commonality that determines whether a bridge can be built or not. What is the key in building a bridge is not commonality, but a mutual willingness to build a bridge.

Islam has never been willing.

ramana
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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby ramana » 20 Jun 2011 06:33

Again lets not bring in non-Islamic religions.

Cain Marko
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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby Cain Marko » 20 Jun 2011 07:23

Rajesh, you have a point, but I daresay so does Carl. The comparison to other religions might be tangential, but certainly not irrelevant imho. Hardly justifies the hyper sensitive reaction to such a comparison.

To be fair, as Carl has pointed out the Sufi perspective deserves a bit of attention esp. since it has had a tremendous influence on various issues including statecraft. The general reaction to his comparisons has been extremely hostile - rather unbelievable really. afterall, he is hardly suggesting anything different from many stalwarts before him. IIRC, it was none other than Sw. Vivekananda who said that "his India was an India with a Hindu heart and Muslim head", not to mention that he found that ideologically Islam provided the best method to bring Advaita Vedanta into practice.

In any case, I think such a virulent reaction to a comparison (often a rather easy/convenient way to study any religious point of view) is hardly objective, and even quite distasteful given that BR is a forum inviting patriots across the board.

Further, the comparison could also be justified because at a very basic level strategy depends upon building bridges. Building bridges is easier when common ground between philosophies/peoples can be found. Carl's post has done a decent job in highlighting this imho.

Still, I suppose Carl can enlighten us without analogies and parables so we'll see what else he can come up with.
CM.

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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby Cain Marko » 20 Jun 2011 07:27

Sushupti wrote:
It is hardly any wonder that the prophets who came before are referred to as "muslims" in the Quran - an allusion to the main idea of "submission" or sharanagati.


This whole "prophet" business would be considered "Aasuric" from Dharmic vantage point.


No kidding - and to think that some of the best spiritual minds of the past centuries equated thise "Aasuric" phenomena to our very own avatars.

CM.

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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby Sushupti » 20 Jun 2011 07:45

No kidding - and to think that some of the best spiritual minds of the past centuries equated thise "Aasuric" phenomena to our very own avatars.

CM.


Name please?.

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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby Cain Marko » 20 Jun 2011 10:23

The list is rather long. but it doesn't take long to figure out that the avataric mission has often been equated with the prophetic mission. A good read is Great Saviors of the World by Sw. Abhedananda (amongst the foremost disciples of Sri Ramakrishna) - published by the Vedanta Society. Should be available at ridiculously low prices at most Khadi Bhavans.

The problem here is one theology vs. mysticism or esoterism vs. exoterism. The exoteric viewpoint, irrespective of the path requires that only that form of worship be granted validity - others are invalid.

CM.
Last edited by Cain Marko on 20 Jun 2011 10:32, edited 1 time in total.

Sushupti
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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby Sushupti » 20 Jun 2011 10:28

I was expecting that it will start with RKM. Any way, why don't you type first 10.

I see the book here but it mentions only three which doesn't include any prophet.

http://www.archive.org/details/greatsav ... 00abhegoog
Last edited by Sushupti on 20 Jun 2011 10:38, edited 1 time in total.

Sushupti
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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby Sushupti » 20 Jun 2011 10:37

The exoteric viewpoint, irrespective of the path requires that only that form of worship be granted validity - others are invalid.


and which Indic religion says that?

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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby Cain Marko » 20 Jun 2011 11:08

Sushupti wrote:I was expecting that it will start with RKM. Any way, why don't you type first 10.

I see the book here but it mentions only three which doesn't include any prophet.

http://www.archive.org/details/greatsav ... 00abhegoog


I suggest you read the introduction a bit carefully, it mentions everybody from Sri Krushna to Lao Tze, and Moses to Mahomet.

Btw, Paramhamsa Ramakrishna was just one. To help you out a bit, you can always read Sw. Yogananda, Sai Baba (the original or latest), and in times past, Kabir or Nanak. Should be enough to realize that many of the aforementioned used the term Avatar as === to Prophet, Messenger, Savior etc.

CM
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Cain Marko
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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby Cain Marko » 20 Jun 2011 11:27

Sushupti wrote:and which Indic religion says that?


Did I say that an Indic religion says so? But still if you have to get it from an Indic viewpoint, a bit of Aurobindo should suffice. The wisdom taught to pandits by esoteric and often purposely "blasphemic" sages is hardly a monopoly of one given religion. Most religions are replete with such examples. Such a demarcation is indeed available for all to see upon a little exploration/investigation irrespective of the religion concerned, albeit, it is more blurry with Hinduism/Sanatan Dharma considering its roots in antiquity. The latter is indeed unique in that it puts forth "secrets" quite openly. However, with the deepening of the last cycle, this path too has had a degree of dilineation set in - cannot be helped actually - the collective detoriaration of human intuitive ability necessitates such division. And dare I say, such division has its place - the errors of heresy could be worse than those of bigotry. In fact, the dawn of the "age of enlightenment" in all its glory has resulted in greater destruction upon the human society than any crusade or mongol invasion could have hoped for.

In any case, I will end this with a quote from the Revolutionary-Saint Sri Aurobindo, it would augur well as a "strategy" for resolving religious issues:

One thing seems to me clear that the future will deny that principle of individual selfishness and collective self-interest on which European society has hitherto been based and our renovated systems will be based on the renunciation of individual selfishness and the organisation of brotherhood, – principles common to Christianity, Mahomedanism and Hinduism.

The exploration of "common themes" as was attempted by Carl was a good start in this direction. Of course success in such an endeavor probably is beyond the scope of any one person or forum - you'd need a prophetic or avataric intervention.

CM.
Last edited by Cain Marko on 20 Jun 2011 13:58, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby Arjun » 20 Jun 2011 12:43

Carl, are you making the claim that Hinduism and Sufism are equally non-exclusivist with regard to means of salvation? If that is the case, how is it that Sufis have no objection to be known as a denomination under a religion that is the polar opposite in its views? Why not be a standalone religion with arms-length relationship with Islam? Isn't there an inherent contradiction in the Sufi position?

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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby Agnimitra » 20 Jun 2011 13:02

ramana wrote:Carl, I think you can make your points without comparing to other religions, faiths or dogmas. if you want to on those lines then do so or else desist.


Rest assured I don't intend to hold forth on comparative theology here. The comparison was so that I could convey the Sufi sect's POV double-quick, in terms that folks here are familiar with + to highlight our natural advantages in this thought space. Didn't realize it would lead to this farce by the resident illuminatti and chamcha bots. I won't ask you why your warnings are selective, but I am embarrassed to invite any friends or compatriots here if these communal tirades are de rigeur on this forum - to the point of derailing all other priorities and discussions for the common weal. On the off chance that someone may find the idea useful, I am summarizing and developing the opportunity I wanted to highlight:

Summary of the significance of Sufism as an Islamic sect
1. It is considered a sect in itself by many today.
2. It was/is a prominent force that was instrumental in the formation of other historical schisms, such as Shi'ism.
3. It has certainly been used by some Islamist forces to further their aims, but has equally been used by anti-Islamist forces to dilute intolerant Islamist agendas, both within India and within Islamic societies (like Iran). Therefore, it is the baton that is to be wielded.
4. It has significant Indic memes, which is an obvious advantage for the purposes of this thread.

Brief note on the theological basis of Islamic Sufism's open-ended paradigm
Since some have raised the question, its worth touching upon. In fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence), there is the well-known concept of bida'a (innovation). This bida'a is a dirty word to Deobandis, Salafis, etc. They love taqlid (imitation) of what they think was their prophet's behavior and attitudes. The Sufi sects are frequently accused of bid'aa. However, permissible bida'a exists and is clearly defined upon various arkaan (pillars, operating principles).

1. Haraam: This includes types of innovations that are prohibited under any circumstances.
2. Makrooh: This would be innovations that are not prohibited, but which are highly discouraged or to be avoided as far as possible.
3. Mubah: This comprises those innovations over which Islam is morally neutral.
4. Mustahab: This comprises those innovations that are actually to be encouraged! For instances, innovations in ways of life to adapt to time, place and circumstance in a way which safeguards the core human rights - to safeguard one's family, etc, including -- signfificantly -- one's ability to exercise reason.
5. Wajib: This includes innovations that are necessary and must be performed in order that the actual principles of Islam are not compromised by circumstances, internal or external.

Bid'aa is possible to various extents in any of the 3 main aspects of Islam:
1. aqidah (right belief), the fruit of which is imaan (knowledge, faith).
2. fiqh (ratiocination), the result of which is shari'ah (modality of living).
3. tasawwuf (inner psycho-spiritual life), the fruit of which is ma'arifat (cognition).

On these 3 dimensions, bida'a is recommended, for example, when Islam goes into different other cultures, to graft itself onto those cultures, to adopt and adapt, absorb and expand. Similarly, these evolve in the vertical evolution of man also. This is the basis of Sufism and the basis of engagement with other civilizations.

Historical precedent of Indophile scholarly trends
Almost all Islamic scholars who are known for their interest or contribution to "irfan", or "tasawwuf", or "falsafa" have an open, discerning and approving interest in non-Semitic Indic traditions. These are keywords. A majority of these tend to be Persian. In Islamic philosophy, these subjects are openly recognized as being deeply rooted in Indo-Iranian tradition, with some strands in ancient Greece, too. The opposition to Sufism comes from a more Spartan, rationalist and anti-mystical perspective in Islamic philosophy. Nevertheless, there are scholars even in the latter category who were very appreciative of Indic traditions.

Medieval Persian translations exist of the Upanishads, the Epics, some Upapuranas, scientific works, mystical works (rasayana), wisdom collections, and sociological and anthropological analyses of India. These are well known. I am surprised that some people think there is a complete absence of Islamic scholarship favorable or open-minded about India. Apart from translations, several other scholars studied Indic traditions, commented on them, justified some of them, and encouraged students to investigate them. India is known as "keshvar e haftaad o do mazaaheb" in Farsi - the country of 72 religions.

Following is a list of some prominent names I've come across, most of them Sufis, who had a very open-ended approach to Indic and other non-Islamic traditions -- Fariduddin Attar, Jalaleddin Rumi, Abu Torab Nakhshabi, Abu Reyhan Biruni, Mansour Hallaj, Habib Ibn Salim Ra'ee, Abu Mohammad Ja'far Hazza, Abu Ishaq Kazerouni, Abu Ali Hossein Ibn Mohammad Akkar, Abu Amr Abdul Rahim Estakhri, Mohammad Khafif Shirazi (known as Sheikh e Kabir, the Great Sheikh), Abu Ali Shaqiq Balkhi, Dara Shukoh, Farishtah, etc. And I'm not even mentioning others like Amir Khusrau, Abul Fazl, etc, because they treated India as a subaltern culture and had a condescending attitude.

There are many others which I can't remember now. Suffice to say that in any theological or philosophical debate, not to mention a cultural milieu, these names can be wielded with deadly effect. This holds true in spite of the Salafist propaganda that attempts to summarily discredit all of them.

Some potential lessons and opportunities
In fact, the opposite does not exist - we have no evidence of energetic Indian investigation of this whole new civilization that had been spawned in our near abroad. Of course, for most of that time we were a passive entity on the defence, and so it is understandable. But even before Ghaznavi's incursions, Biruni does mention the closed-mindedness of Indians to engage in philosophical dialogue, that we had a chip on our shoulder w.r.t. others, etc.

During medieval times, for whatever reasons, we fell under foreign political and cultural dominaton. At that time, they produced scholars who studied our traditions, however condescendingly, and many were able to appreciate and genuinely praise them. They also produced saints and preachers who went among the common Hindu masses and established a connection at the popular level. Many of those Hindus converted, and many did not. Even today, we find at least half the patrons of Moslem Sufi shrines are Hindus who remain Hindu. The response of Indic civilization was mostly passive or defensive, or irredentist at best, fortunately able to stop the tide of conversion due to the Vaishnav and Sikh spiritual movements, ensuring its survival. Theologically though, the evidence overwhelmingly suggests a very narrow resentful attitude towards "mleccha" Moslems, with no significant work done to understand Islamic civilization. Psychologically, this is totally understandable given the pressure of circumstances at that time.

Today, however, the Islamic world is on the defensive - culturally and politically. Now they're the ones being overrun by resentful idealogues and the narrowest of theological pronouncements. OTOH, India is rising, more Indians are travelling and learning about foreign cultures, mostly the West. They're also rediscovering their own culture (hopefully from a living medium rather than irredentist ideologues stuck in the past). This is a time to also expand into the middle-east, to reach out -- but this time as the active party with initiative and purpose. There is a cultural opening, but we will lose it if we are seen as mere lackeys of the West rather than as an active pillar of "Eastern" pride and civilization that engages with the Ummah positively at a popular level. Right now the only image India has at the popular level is Bollywood. This has to be elevated to philosophy, art and God.

Politically, the entrenched exclusivism of the aggressive, Christian West and Middle Eastern Islamism will preoccupy one another and tire one another out in battle. It is into this space that India can exercise an influence that will actually be benign and be perceived to be so by many in the mid-East and our neighborhood, at the popular level. It will be an intervention that will be seen as hostile by some ideologues of other sects, but at the popular level there is a good chance of getting some traction.

This sort of influence is a lot more practicable at this time than any hot-air dreams of Indian militarism or economic domination in the near future. The passive imbibing of foreign culture these past centuries can be capitalized on rather than be seen as a mere humiliation. For example, we were forced to learn English under Brit colonialism, but that is giving us an economic edge today. Similarly, we need to capitalize on other influences that we ingested over the last millennium, w.r.t the ME/CA. The Pakis have allowed Deobandism to run amuck. Musharraf tried to bring Sufism to the fore when Unkil barked "about-turn", but guys like Ghamidi were chased out of that hole by threats from radicals. India can take the lead.

This influence is possible mainly through the Sufi sect(s) versus other theological sects. Sufism is protean and can "dovetail" into any of the established theological sects, such as Sunni, Shi'a, etc.

Present day favorable trends and opportunities
Today Sufism has a significant following in the Islamic world, especially with Turkey's increasing profile in the Sunni space, and with Iran's deep roots in it. Sufism is also a niche in the "spirituality" market in the West (Europe and the US).

Two kinds of "Sufi" demographics exist:
1. Those committed to philosophically rigorous schools of philosophy and disciplined practice. Significant numbers of these are Westerners today and expatriate Moslems. They tend to sometimes get involved in seminars, symposia, etc.
2. The Moslem "hippie", either a young rebel looking for God, or a midlife crisis specimen. Lots of these in the Moslem world, esp. places like Iran. These are the more popular level contacts.

Correspondingly, India can raise her profile along two lines:
1. Provide organized links for exchange, study, travel, and other contacts in areas such as art, music, philosophy, pilgrimage.
2. Provide a haven for those artists, thinkers and religionists who are expelled or persecuted in those countries.

Turkey is exploiting this aspect to the hilt, in a very organized, state-sponsored and grassroots awareness level, domestically and abroad. We should take a cue.

To give an idea of the extent of the influence of Sufism today, here are some examples:

1. Inayat Khan: Brought Sufism to the West. He was Indian. A lot of his writings discuss, justify and defend Vedanta. He is still an icon to many. He was also a doyen of Hindustani Classical music.

2. Molana Shahmaghsoud: Helped take one significant branch of Iranian Sufism to the West. His school is one of the most active Iranian Sufi organizations in the West. Followers number about 600K to 700K people, mostly expat Persians, and underground in Iran. He also freely quotes, both, Western and Hindu philosophers in his works.

3. Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh: Established over 100 centers across all continents, even in Africa. Came out of Iran. Unlike Shahmaghsoud, most of the North America and European centers are filled with Westerners, not Persians. Mostly whites and a very high proportion of Jews. Nurbakhsh was pretty explicit about acknowledging the essential unity of all religions.

Excursions to India are very common for these people, and not just to Kashmir or Ajmer, etc, but to Hindu and Buddhist places too.

They often practice hatha-yoga along with their basic discipline, etc. Incidentally, yoga is as popular and fashionable in Iran as it is in the US.

Islamic schools of Sufism sometimes come under attack in the countries of their origin. They are finding havens in the West. India should be more active in providing a cultural haven, too.

The regular curricula in all serious Sufi schools is very heavy on Qur'an study and supererogatory prayer. The places I observed had regular Arabic grammar study, along with Persian language instruction. Like Sanskrit/Kannada are the languages of Madhva Vaishnavism, or Sanskrit/Bengali of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, Arabic/Persian are the languages of Islamic Sufism. On an average, a Sufi is more immersed in Islam than the avg abdul. He commands the respect of the avg abdul no matter what sect he belongs, even though Deobandi/Salafi anti-Sufi propaganda is permeating the mosque space.

Art and Music scene in Moslem countries
Sufism is closely connected with art and music. The same fields frequently face criticism under non-Sufi sects of Islam.

Due to the past few centuries, north Indian art and classical music is closely connected with Iran, Turkey and Arabic music. Ethnomusicologists study all these traditions in order to find the “missing notes” or missing shrutis in one or the other tradition, since there is some consensus that these musics had some common origin in the ancient past (sort of like Indo-European linguistic theory). In the 1960’s and 1970’s, it was fashionable for Iranian music savants to take an interest in Indian music, because Pt. Ravi Shankar, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, etc were making waves internationally. Today, however, they tend to study Turkish and Greek music more. Why? Its because we failed to reinforce those connections by political gestures towards facilitating greater contacts and advertisement.

Nevertheless, the connections are still very strong, and we still derive a lot of mileage. E.g., Ostad Zolfonoon (Persian setar) liberally speaks of Indian culture, spirituality and music in his books. His daughter lived in India for several years, studying Hinduism. In 2009 and 2010 I helped a Turkish friend of mine organize the “Mystic Music Festival” in Konya, Turkey (where Rumi’s tomb is located). Pakistani musicians were invited. In their introduction, they traced their art back to the Samaveda and Hindu tradition. No mention of TSP. They were like our own cultural ambassadors. And it wasn’t like the “Indian restaurant” brand exploitation by Paki and Bangla restaurateurs in the West; this was different. These were Moslems who were very comfortable being grafted onto Indic heritage.

In conclusion: Sufism provides a medium in which India can
1. Harness popular level goodwill in Moslem countries
2. Dilute the Islamist agendas of Sunni or Shi'a regimes or forces
3. Turn historical setbacks and foreign influences into cultural advantages today
4. Become an active participant in the new identity politics in the Moslem world

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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby Agnimitra » 20 Jun 2011 13:24

Arjun wrote:Why not be a standalone religion with arms-length relationship with Islam? Isn't there an inherent contradiction in the Sufi position?


Arjun, these are good questions. The arms-length relationship was very much there for most Sufis. But they were never beyond the civilizational pale of Islam -- which is a civilization, not just a religious sect. The Sufis went by the Qur'an, Hadith, laws of fiqh, etc. The tension between one pole and the other, between the exoteric (zaahiriyya) and esoteric (baatiniyyah), between the bhajan-anandi and the goshti-anandi, between the neophyte (kanishth-adhikaari) and the hierophant (madhyam-adhikari), between the brahmanic and the shramanic, between the "personalist" Vaishnava and the "impersonalist" Shaiva, etc....these sorts of dichotomies exist within any religious paradigm and cannot be avoided, inasmuch as it is rooted in cognitive psychology, IMHO. Each one claims to be the real thing.

Sushupti wrote:This whole "prophet" business would be considered "Aasuric" from Dharmic vantage point.


Sushupti, I'm not sure which "vantage point" you are referring to. Is it on top of the dome of Tejo Mahalaya? :mrgreen:

Even if it's "asuric", Madhvacharya gave us two derivations of "asura":
1. asusu ratih iti asurah = One who is addicted to the movement of life forces = results in conflict = the bad guys
2. asusu ramati iti asurah = One who plays with the movements of life forces = results in a virtuous spiral = good guys!

BTW, Madhvacharya openly declared himself to be an incarnation of Vayu, which he proclaimed to be the highest demigod. Their slogan is Vishnu sarvottamah, vayu jivottamah. Does that sound "aasuric" enough to you? Cain has already pointed out that in various literatures, "avatara" or "praadurbhaava" has been treated just like a prophetic authority.

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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby Cain Marko » 20 Jun 2011 13:51

^^^ Hear hear! Magnificent analysis Carl, and exceptional insights into current Islamic affairs as well as provisions for "strategic" dialogue with the Muslim world. Amazing, BR is an excellent resource thanks to such posts.

Being a mango-jingo myself, I feel that the part about, "this sort of influence is a lot more practicable at this time than any hot-air dreams of Indian militarism or economic domination in the near future." is a gem that every jingo ought to remember.

Sufism is as much our heritage as anything else - we might as well export it to our benefit. Btw, you aren't the famed Carl Ernst are you?

CM

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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby brihaspati » 20 Jun 2011 16:17

Hear, hear, what a magnificient propaganda in favour of the Sufi protean! Yes, when the non-Muslim world has really started to come out of the blindness that prevented it from studying Islam, looking into its texts, past records, and practices - there is a great danger in people finding out the essentially imperialist and non-Muslim culture erasing core of the Islamic meme. This is the point when the Sufi mask comes in handy. Because it can pretend to be open-ended. It can be used to put a spin on the real face of Islam - and allow it to survive to preserve its strength for a future push again.

Tejo-Mahalaya seems to be a particular obsession! Obviously we can understand the underlying affiliations to official Congress-Centre-Left political "historiography". But since comparisons and dragging in Indic into all this will not cease, let us face it then! Let us actually compare the "Indic" and what both the non-Sufi and the Sufi have made out of the Indic. Many names have been shot at us - with a long list from Biruni, Rumi to Amir Khusrau - and only non-acquaintance with what they actually wrote down - would pretend that they were looking at "Indic" "favourably".

There are some strange claims being made without concrete data:
(1) Sufism is "growing" - [quantitative estimates, where, how, who - the devil lies in the details.]
(2) Sufism is "open-ended" - [about what exactly? Islam? what has been its record in going against the Prophet's Sunna which is sourced from the Hadiths, as well as the Quran which always of course needs the Sira and the Hadiths to make sense of it. I raised a pointed question - for example about the injunctions on the practice of slavery. Did the Sufis, then and now, move against Islamics enslaving non-Muslims?]
(3) Sufism can be "used" [to do what, on whom, and for whose benefit?] India will use Sufism to do what - dilute the non-Sufi component where? within India? outside India? does bringing in more of the Sufi outside India change the basic imperialist and proselytizing attitudes of the Islamic establishment?

Questions that cannot be answered by apologists of the Sufi [no clear committed quotes exist clearly on this,there is a lot of harangue and hemming and hawing and even those mumblings which are passed off as indicating "liberal" attitudes do not actually spell out a yes/no answer]:

(1) Do Sufis want to Islamize the non-Muslim or not?
(2) Do they find any revelation of the Quran and the Sunnah of the prophet in the Hadiths "unacceptable" or "to be rejected"?
(3) If the answer to (2) is "yes", are they prepared to declare such items as "anti-Islamic"?

I am aware of the "Bidaa" obfuscation, and know how it has been used politically to create divisions and confusions or even hold out hope from the Islamist side [just as it is being done here now] to the non-Muslim side of some kind of accommodation while preserving their cultural and social independence. It is great tactics, I have to admit.

The standard Thaparite arguments about Sufism in India has been repeated here. The reason put forward by these august "prophets" of history is as speculative as what they dismiss in their turn as "speculative", since we have no contemporary records from the "Hindu" side about how "Sufis" acted in the early days. This has to be inferred indirectly from the Islamic narrations themselves - the reason Thaparites cover themselves by declaring those Islamist narratives as "boasting" and exaggerations. In the absence of concrete records from "Hindu" side, there is no harm in adding an alternative speculation about how "Hindus" started going to Sufi Mazars/Dargahs.

What if the Hindu communities took to showing overt devotion to the Sufi-"saints" in the hopes of obtaining the "saint's" mediation with the Islamic military regimes in the neighbourhood? All the early cases of "oh-so-peaceful-Sufis" coincide with close collaboration and relations with the Muslim commanders. The Sufis could thus be using their close relations with Islamic military forces shrewdly to reduce opposition or militancy in a largely numerically superior but unorganized [in a militancy sense because of possible earlier religious practice] non-Muslim population.

In some other post - will take up the Sufi "record" in India. That will be highly illuminating. But for the moment, just a sample of the "great appreciation" shown by "Sufis" like Amir Khusrau - even if "condescending" :

Nuh Sipehr: “They have four books in that language, which they are constantly in the habit of repeating. Their name is Bed. They contain stories of their gods, but little advantage can be derived from their perusal.” (Eliott and Dowson, vol III, p 563) [Forgot to add : this particular "Sufi" showed an even greater appreciation of the beauty of "Indian women" in his writings, and describes explicitly with great glee what he had done and intends to do with captured Hindu women].

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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby brihaspati » 20 Jun 2011 16:36

Another nugget from Sufi Amir Khusrau - about the sack of Chidambaram (ironic isn't it?) : “The stone idol called Ling Mahadeo, which had been a long time established at that place and on which the women of the infidels rubbed their vaginas for satisfaction, these upto this time the kick of the horse of Islam had not attempted to break… The Musalmans destroyed all the lings and Deo Narain fell down, and the other gods who had fixed their seats there raised their feet, and jumped so high, that at one leap they reached the fort of Lanka, and in that affright the lings themselves would have fled had they any legs to stand on.”

If in any doubts about his appreciation of the Indic in the passage describing the destruction of Somnath after explicitly quoting a Quranic verse : “It seemed, as if the tongue of the Imperial sword explained the meaning of the text: ‘So he [Abraham] broke them [idols] into pieces except the chief of them, that haply they may return to it.’ Such a pagan country, the Mecca of the infidels, now became the Medina of Islam.”

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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby brihaspati » 20 Jun 2011 16:55

It has been challenged here before that the first few years of Muhammad's ministry were not "secret". Ibn Ishaq's [original lost, Hisham re-edited and openly declared that he had omitted material that he thought were too gruesome, and offensive - even for the 9th century] biography [accessible to non-Arabic's in Gillaume's translation] Sira says :

“People began to accept Islam, both men and women, in large numbers until the fame of it spread throughout Mecca, and it began to be talked about. Then God commanded His apostle to declare the truth of what he had received and make known His commandments to men and call them to Him. Three years elapsed from the time the apostle concealed his state until God commanded him to publish his religion, according to information which has reached me. Then God said, ‘Proclaim what you have been ordered and turn aside from the polytheists.”’

It is another matter about "fame" bit, but the earliest extant biographer clearly mentions this secrecy bit. People interested can look up also both Muir and D.S.Margoliouth's works on the early history of Islam. Margoliouth had impeccable academic credentials - especially language wise - and his works are usually no longer mentioned in Islamophile media.

About "torture" - this is what we get, again from Ibn Ishaq,
“When the apostle’s companions prayed, they went to the glens so that people could not see them praying, and while Sad b. Abu Waqqas was with a number of the prophet’s companions in one of the glens of Mecca, a band of polytheists came upon them while they were praying and rudely interrupted them. They blamed them for what they were doing until they came to blows, and it was on that occasion that Sad smote a polytheist with the jawbone of a camel and wounded him. That was the first blood to be shed in Islam.” [Gillaume's translation]

Ishaq does not report any retribution from the non-Muslim side.

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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby brihaspati » 20 Jun 2011 17:12

One of the earliest "Sufi" tactics can be seen as early as the earlier ministry of Muhammad in Mecca. Tabari writes:

“When the apostle saw that his people turned their backs on him and he was pained by their estrangement from what he brought them from God he longed that there should come to him from God a message that would reconcile his people to him… Then God sent down, ‘Have ye thought of Al-Lat and al-Uzza and Manat the third, the other, these are the exalted Gharaniq whose intercession is approved.’”

Lat, Uzza, and Manat were the three most important goddesses in Meccan belief. In fact these have been referred from within Islamic scholarship as the so-called "Satanic Verses". This was a direct overt tactical compromise with a population that was reluctant to give up their own culture and faith. But the real motivations are immediately revealed. Muhammad consoles his own followers by having the verses withdrawn and replaced by another revelation. “So God annulled what Satan had suggested and God established His verses.” [Ibn Ishaq,(Gillaume) p. 165-66. The replacement of the “Satanic Verses” are in read in Quran. 53.19-17.]

[It raises more questions, if Satan could have "sent verses", what prevents more within the Quran lying undetected? Could the Sufis shed some light on this?]

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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby jambudvipa » 20 Jun 2011 17:26

Brihaspatiji,about Amir Khusrau's "secular sufism" and his fascination with Hindusim, a lot of nonsense is current in India.
Someone told me that he could see Lord Krishna in his teachers face (cant recall his name).I countered with the very examples you have provided above ,the person could not provide any answer to these two mutually opposite things.


For those who need free a resource with translations of all major Islamic narratives in India,here is the link : http://persian.packhum.org/persian/

Surely the above site cannot be labelled "communal" :roll:

i think a trend is becoming clear on BRF.The Marxists types are proliferating in all major threads,clogging them up with their propaganda.All opposition is labeled "communal" and the usual sly hit and run tactics abound.

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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby RajeshA » 20 Jun 2011 17:37

Carl ji, Cain Marko ji,

thank you for your contributions to our knowledge about Sufism. I see that this thread is in fact profiting from your contributions.

I would however request you not to be abusive of others, with snide remarks and hit and runs attacks of "communal", "Tejo Mahalaya", etc. etc. Hopefully we can stick to the subject matter and need not use these churlish p-sec personal attacks.

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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby brihaspati » 20 Jun 2011 17:43

Thanks Jambudvipa ji! But I thank the "pseudo-Marxists" for bringing up such red herrings. It provides a n opportunity to expose what really lies underneath.

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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby RajeshA » 20 Jun 2011 17:51

jambudvipa wrote:about Amir Khusrau's "secular sufism" and his fascination with Hindusim


His name is spelled Amīr Ḫusraw Dihlavī in the Packard Humanities Translations!

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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby jambudvipa » 20 Jun 2011 17:55

Rajesh saab, the name comes with diacritical marks,maybe something to do with the way its pronounced? :?:

RajeshA wrote:
jambudvipa wrote:about Amir Khusrau's "secular sufism" and his fascination with Hindusim


His name is spelled Amīr Ḫusraw Dihlavī in the Packard Humanities Translations!

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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby RajeshA » 20 Jun 2011 18:03

I just mentioned it to enable people to find Khusrau's books more easily.

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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby brihaspati » 20 Jun 2011 18:10

Allah Diya Chishti wrote Siyar al-Aqtab, (c 1467) and the subject matter consists primarily of "Sufis" and their "miracles", and focuses more on the Chishtiyya silsila. This is what he writes, as a "Sufi" himself, of the much-touted one of the two most "liberal/progressive" among the four[or fourteen by the "Sufi" Abul Fazl] "non-sectarian" divisions among "non-sectarian" "Sufis" :


Shykh Muin al-Din Chishti of Ajmer (-C.E. 1236), Ajmer, Rajasthan.

“Although at that time there were very many temples of idols around the lake, when the Khwaja saw them, he said: ‘If God and His Prophet so will, it will not be long before I raze to the ground these idol temples.’

“It is said that among those temples there was one temple to reverence which the Raja and all the infidels used to come, and lands had been assigned to provide for its expenditure. When the Khwaja settled there, every day his servants bought a cow, brought it there and slaughtered it and ate it…

“So when the infidels grew weak and saw that they had no power to resist such a perfect companion of God, they… went into their idol temples which were their places of worship. In them there was a dev, in front of whom they cried out and asked for help…

“…The dev who was their leader, when he saw the perfect beauty of the Khwaja, trembled from head to foot like a willow tree. However much he tried to say ‘Ram, Ram’, it was ‘Rahim, Rahim’ that came from his tongue… The Khwaja… with his own hand gave a cup of water to a servant to take to the dev… He had no sooner drunk it than his heart was purified of darkness of unbelief, he ran forward and fell at the Heaven-treading feet of the Khwaja, and professed his belief…

“The Khwaja said: ‘I also bestow on you the name of Shadi Dev [glad Dev]’…

“…Then Shadi Dev… suggested to the Khwaja, that he should now set up a place in the city, where the populace might benefit from his holy arrival. The Khwaja accepted this suggestion, and ordered one of his special servants called Muhammad Yadgir to go into the city and set in good order a place for faqirs. Muhammad Yadgir carried out his orders, and when he had gone into the city, he liked well the place where the radiant tomb of the Khwaja now is, and which originally belonged to Shadi Dev, and he suggested that the Khwaja should favour it with his residence…

“…Muin al-din had a second wife for the following reason: one night he saw the Holy Prophet in the flesh. The prophet said: ‘You are not truly of my religion if you depart in any way from my sunnat.’ It happened that the ruler of the Patli fort, Malik Khitab, attacked the unbelievers that night and captured the daughter of the Raja of that land. He presented her to Muin al-din who accepted her and named her Bibi Umaiya.”
[P.M. Currie, The Shrine and Cult of Muin al-Din Chishti of Ajmer, OUP, 1989]

Several things should be immediately obvious from this narrative:

(1) Even if the first sufis like Muin-al-din did nothing of what is reported, and all this is a later propaganda and "exaggeration", even after 240 years of "adaptation" with the Indic, a "Sufi" author finds nothing wrong in such "exaggerations", especially where it concerns destruction and humiliation of Indic practices/icons/life-style. He also find such a story perfectly alright in keeping with his concept of what "iconic" Sufi "preachers" should behave as.

(2) The Sufis had no hesitation in carrying out exactly those acts they knew would be the most distressing for their "potential" followers they were trying to "adapt to" - such as taking over a temple of the natives and slaughtering a cow within the temple premises and eating the beef.

(3) The "people" find they cannot "resist" such "Sufis" from carrying out such "acts"? Why? It becomes obvious in the next passages - for the very day that Muin-aldin recollects his dream, the "dream" gets communicated to the local Muslim military commander - who raids a Hindu chiefs home and lifts the latter's daughter and presents it to the oh-so-peaceful "Sufi". This implies, practically, a very close network of communication between local Muslim military units and the "Sufi" "shaikh" - and physical proximity of their respective power centres.

(4) Why the people are scared and why they come to the "Sufi" is laid out in details. This supports my contention that, a vulnerable population - which could not see any reasonable military power that could protect their rights - saw the "Sufis" take up a position of "possible mediation" with the raiders, and made a show of "devotion". This practice became crystallized as tradition [ the question of fantastic miracles invented much later - is a common socio-psychological device in traumatized populations trying to make their trauma acceptable] as for a long long time Ajmer remained firmly within Islamic striking distance.

(5) the same story of forced marriages, after abducting the local Hindu or buddhist chief's daughter/sister/wife - after a "war" which is always "provoked" by the non-Muslim side, appears to be part of the career of several eminent "Sufis" in India - the other example coming to mind is that of Shaikh Jalal of Yemen who sat down in Sylhet with his 360 "Aulyias" (many of the latter emulating their leaders career too). They always work in close collaboration with early Islamic armies.

Even though a lot is made of some "Sufis" not "visiting" "Sultans", even those non-materialist "Sufis" seem to have thrived on regime based charities in carrying out their proselytizing works, and their families appear to have benefited from such munificence. Moreover such non-materialist Sufis also appear to have been involved in court politics - some rather deeply.

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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby brihaspati » 20 Jun 2011 18:21

As for what "Sufi" teachings creates out of "adaptation" of the "Indic", the first examples coming to mind are of course Amir Khusrau and Zia-uddin Barani - both devoted and proud disciples of Muin-al-Din's tradition. Both eagerly supporting destruction of Hindu temples, and murderous extraction of wealth, resources, and of course the much necessary enslavement business - with a stress on getting "Hindu" women. Barani had an instrumental role in shaping up the religious repression ideology of the Sultanate - specifically targeting "Brahmans" and all forms and symbols of "Hindu" culture.

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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby brihaspati » 20 Jun 2011 18:51

At least one source of the "Sufi" record in India can be obtained from S.A.A. Rizvi's "A History of Sufism in India", 1978, New Delhi.

Shykh Jalalud-Din Tabrizi (AH 533-623)

He was a prominent disciple of Shykh Shihabud-Din Suhrawardi (C.E. 1145-1235), founder of the Suhrawardiyya silsila of Sufism. He lived in Multan, Delhi and Badaun, finally coming to Lakhnauti(Gaur) in Bengal.

Devatala (Bengal)
“Shaikh Jalalud-Din had many disciples in Bengal. He first lived at Lakhnauti, constructed a khanqah and attached a langar to it. He also bought some gardens and land to be attached to the monastery. He moved to Devatalla near Pandua in northern Bengal. There a kafir had erected a large temple and a well. The Shaikh demolished the temple and constructed a takiya (khanqah) and converted a large number of kafirs… Devatalla came to be known as Tabrizabad and attracted a large number of pilgrims.”

Mir Shamsud-din Iraqi was a sufi of the Kubrawiyya silsila who came to Kashmir first in 1481, then again in 1501, and finally in 1505 during the reign of Sultan Fath Shah. He joined the Nur Bakhsh Sufi sect. The Tarikh-i-Kashmir by Haidar Malik Chadurah, a Kashmiri official of Sultan Yusuf Shah (1579-1586) [ed and trans into English by Razia Bano, Delhi, 1991] states:

“…Baba Uchah Ganai went for circumambulation of the two harms (Mecca and Medina)… in search of the perfect guide (Pir-i-Kamil). He prayed to God (to help) him when he heard a voice from the unknown that the ‘perfect guide’ was in Kashmir himself… Hazrat Shaikh, Baba Uchah Ganai… returned to Kashmir… All of a sudden his eyes fell upon a place of worship, the temples of the Hindus. He smiled. When the devotees asked the cause of (his smile) he replied that the destruction and demolition of these places of worship and the destruction of the idols will take place at the hand of the high born Shaikh Shams-ud-Din Iraqi. He will soon be coming from Iraq and shall turn the temples completely desolate, and most of the misled people will accept the path of guidance and Islam… So as was ordained Shaikh Shams-ud-Din reached Kashmir. He began destroying the places of worship and the temples of the Hindus and made an effort to achieve the objectives.”

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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby brihaspati » 20 Jun 2011 19:04

We should be asking the question, whom or what has "Sufism" benefited in India? Did it only help to play the "good cop/bad cop" routine to manage a large non-Muslim population who had to be kept in as dhimmi a state as possible as a captive source of biological and material resources in favour of Islamic proselytizers and their institutions? Or as a political tool to divide and rule? A clever psychological holding out of hope of "escape" with some remnants of cuture?

Sufis acted just as the "Christian missionaries" often worked - as the "humane" face of imperialism and colonial exploitation. Justifying the atrocities to a certain extent - [they indulged in such activites themselves as proved by the stories quoted above], they still never actually deviate from the ultimate goal of Islamizing those yet out of "Islam".

Suppose "Hindus" create a spiritual framework where they leave spaces for some of the "spiritual" claims that does not contradict the basic "dharmic" practices of the Indic, but reject the Quran as divine revelation, and also reject the Sunnah as a binding rule but only an individual's quotes, and reject the four (or is it five?) pillars - and ask the Sufis to convert to such a "reformed sect" within "Hinduism", are they game?

As long as the Quran and the Sunnah is not rejected as binding, we have ample means of deception and the Sufi-obfuscations being used as political tool - ultimately for Islamization. Exactly as their records prove in India.

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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby RajeshA » 20 Jun 2011 19:20

brihaspati garu,

I am very keen to learn from Carl ji and Cain Marko ji, how they feel about your pointers!

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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby brihaspati » 20 Jun 2011 19:39

The real positions will come out when forced to choose. Are you prepared to abandon your textual basis and claims and join us? Do you expect us to abandon ours and join you? Do you want both of us to abandon our respective positions and concoct something new - by plagiarizing older "civilizations" and ideas in a literally inconsistent "Khichri" - but then you can no longer claim the "Kalima" still as basis!

Crucially, what are the explicit aspects that the Sufis are prepared to "abandon" or reformulate, and are they prepared to specifically make the abandoned aspects "not adoptable" ever again? [No conditional and temporary agreements a la "early" treaties : for if the texts and Sunnah are not rejected, there are several sayings that can be used concretely to justify deception in treaties and breaking them without warning].

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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby brihaspati » 20 Jun 2011 20:19

It has been claimed that "Al Biruni"'s comments about closed-mindedness should be accepted by us with bowed heads, as proof of our having a "chip on our shoulders". Lack of literature about the "Islamic" is peddled as proof of "narrow mindedness". This is funny, since the same lack of literature - is used by Thaparites to declare absence of any sense of "trauma" by Hindus at the hands of "Muslims" - and presence of "positive feelings" towards Muslims! I have to give it to the early Muslims in India, they ahd such immense foresight - knowing that destruction of written material or records of the "Indians" would come in handy for their futuer dhimmi apologists - in ever imaginative ways!

By the way, even if Al Biruni;s comments are relevant we need to ask - what exactly is he complaining about? The relevant passage should make it clear, that he complains of the Hindu intellectuals finding nothing "attractive" or "worthwhile" for them to learn from "Islam".

Before raising Al Biruni to a pedestal, we should look at what was the state of "Islamic" "knowledge" or "philosophy" that Muslims could offer to the "Hindu" intellectuals around 1000 A.D., that the latter did not already have, or that they should have felt immensely rewarding in the so-called "Islamic civilization"?

What was this civilization? Already the period of "enlightenment" was over - when libraries captured in the learning centres of conquered non-Muslim lands were used/translated by Islamic "scholars". A large part of this knowledge would be in common with Indian scholars in the sciences or even in the philosophies. As recent studies show, that the Quran most likely was a late innovation, and a motley as well as inconsistent collection of verses and pieces of various apocryphal sects scattered around the Arabian peninsula. Was there any science or philosophy to be extracted from this literature? We can go into the murk and then it should become obvious as to why the then "Hindus" did not find anything to explore or be interested - if at all what Al Biruni says is true and not some personal angst at some imagined rejection.

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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby Virupaksha » 20 Jun 2011 20:50

I was trying to write a point-by point rebuttal to Carl, but all I see is Thaparite nonsense. I stopped midway writing it and decided that post falsifies so much logically, historical truths that I see that I may actually be honouring the post if I write it.

It ofcourse starts with the tried and tested standard Thaparite psuedo-secular technique of first haranguing the other as communal, painting the mods as vindictive and themselves as the victim and then presenting themselves as the "secular" and the reasonable guys and then for good measure adding that "after them the deluge" all in a condescending tone wallowing in self pity.

Where have seen this technique before? We all know the answers.

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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby brihaspati » 20 Jun 2011 23:08

Fariduddin Attar (d. 1220), Jalauddin Rumi (d. 1273), and Ibn Arabi (d. 1240) are often mentioned in discussion on Sufi sects in India - simply because a lot of the Sufi silsila migrating into India and settling into lands freshly conquered militarily by the Islamic armies, used their literary material as partof their proselytization.

Arabi's main works that were popularized by the sects - were Futuhat al-makkiya and Fussu al-hikam (Bezels of wisdom) - and propounded a concept of wahdat al-wujud. This was interpreted by the various Sufi preachers as "Unity of Being" where "God" and the "creation" were two aspects of one "reality". The "mystical" language used did not need to specify exactly the thorny issues of "separation" of these two aspects in practice - on which depended a lot of the historical-claims based philosophy of Islam.

Many have deliberately or without malicious intent, tried to portray this concept in Arabi as meaning "pantheism" or "monistic". But Arabi's language might not be accessible to everyone now, and if one could really read him, one would see that language is used in a very careful way - amenable to multiple interpretations - but never, ever he rejects the "founding pillars". Arabi's "one-ness" could thus be used to pretend to "Hindus" as some version of advaita or "dvaita" depending on the audience while not mentioning that the real "kalima" has not been abandoned.

The simplified for-the-masses-consumption version reduced it to "hama ost" - "Everything is He". But even the staunchest proponents of wahdat al-wujud firmly declared that the person of the Prophet Muhammad was the locus of manifestation of the "Divine name", the "Perfect man" - and the highest model of humanity, imitating whom was the first and foremost duty of the believer [Arabi and Rumi]. Further, for all three mentioned above, Islam is acknowledged to be the last and most comprehensive "divine revelation" which conflates and hence abolishes all previous laws.

Thus the so-called "tolerance" towards other philosophical system consists of first representing one aspect of Islam as crystallizing in the late 12th-13th century - the so-called "monotheistic" "God" and his[the gender again becomes problematic but that can come later!] "creation" being represented as a tighter "whole" by over-emphasizing the "one" claims. Then using this "unity" representation to say to other non-Muslim philosophies with similar appearing concepts - that these "other" non-Muslim philosophies are already latent or accounted for within Islam and hence the others should have no ideological problems in becoming Muslims.

The emphasis is on subsumption of the non-Muslim, showing that their "philosophies" have already been anticipated in this "extended/clarified/aspect-selectively-highlighted" Islam - which however does not compromise a single bit where imperialist interests are concerned, that of submission to the final authority of Muhammad and Islam.

Interestingly the challenge to this "unity" theory was carried out by another "Sufi" sect - the Naqsbandi-s, and which produced the star of "Indian Islam" - Ahmad Sirhindi. Sirhindi replaced the "wujud" with wahdat-ash-shuhud - the "unity of vision". Sirhindi clarifies that the mystic Sufi can observe "absolute unity" but the "Lord remains the lord, and the servant the servant". He replaces the "hama ost" with "hama az ost" - everything is from Him. Sirhindi actually wins in terms of support.

I understand why Sirhindi is not mentioned in the long list given of "India-favourable" Sufis. He provides a characteristic example that can expose the Sufi politics. When the military side is uncertain/fresh/power is not yet entrenched -as in 12th-14th century- the Arabi/Rumi linguistic hint-framework can be flexibly used to allay suspicions. Once the military power is more or less entrenched [as in the early 16-17th century] the Naqsbandi-style can be brought out using the same vagueness of language to overturn the earlier politic representation.

Whenever anyone tries to sell this Sufi-peaceful-tolerant BS, please do remember that sequence - Arabi-Rumi -Chisti/Suhrawardyia in the 13th century, and Sirhindi-Naqsbandi in the 17th - both "Sufis".

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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby brihaspati » 20 Jun 2011 23:29

I am told that the "Sufis" spawned the "Shia". Does anyone know of Mazhar Janjanan - a contemporary of Sha Waliullah? Mazhar should be well-known to lovers of Urdu. But interesting would be to read the critique of Mazhar by Sauda - a Shia. The Naqshbandis hated the "Shia" - and still called themselves the Sufis.

What do we call them - just different interpreters of the same non-sectarian "sect"?

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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby Prem » 21 Jun 2011 01:02

IMHO, We should keep in mind that Islam is not a pure spiritual movement but have clear political, social, cultural agenda and hierarchy to be imposed upon the converts. Beside physical, It calls for all four spirtual, social, cultural and politcial genocide of the opponents and all the sects of islam agree on this agenda unanimously.No one can deny the ground reality and its existence but lets not adopt and consider it as one of our own and cause our own demise or stand guily of the same crimes.The last few centuries have given enough insight into the movement and lets not ignore the price paid in blood.
BTW, Mian Mir was Qadri competing with Nakhsbandi. Qadris happened to side with Dara and became the target of Aurnagchap/ Naqshabandis to be eliminates along side Sikh Panth. Mian Mir issues were pure poltical with Moghul.He did not fight to estabish Dharma.

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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby Agnimitra » 21 Jun 2011 01:57

Cain ji, how dare you suggest I'm non-Indic! :shock: :mrgreen: Thanks for the word of encouragement.

RajeshA wrote:
jambudvipa wrote:about Amir Khusrau's "secular sufism" and his fascination with Hindusim


His name is spelled Amīr Ḫusraw Dihlavī in the Packard Humanities Translations!


Rajesh ji - :wink:

1. That's precisely why I specifically said, "And I'm not even mentioning others like Amir Khusrau, Abul Fazl, etc, because they treated India as a subaltern culture and had a condescending attitude." But these guys have to latch on to that one name. Gotta give it to them -- to bloodhounds...bait is bait. :lol: Also, the point was to show folks like Nataraj that there are many Islamic scholars who do not consider Indic traditions absolutely "wajib-ul-qatl". There is an opening -- very wide in many cases.

2. That's why I pointed out, "It has certainly been used by some Islamist forces to further their aims, but has equally been used by anti-Islamist forces to dilute intolerant Islamist agendas, both within India and within Islamic societies (like Iran). Therefore, it is the baton that is to be wielded." Tell me, why do historical instances of using Sufism to disguise imperialist agendas negate the possibility of using Sufism to dilute those antagonistic forces? Especially when its even been done in the past? BRFites are well aware of the "guns + missionaries" imperialist tactics. But guess what -- the tides have turned and not all those concomitant conditions are present for that imperialist agenda to prevail today, especially with our racial experience of the "other side", viz. Pakistaniyat, and given relentless Western military pressure on the core lands of Islamism.

3. For the nth time, the point is not about whether we agree with Sufism or not. Its about gaining a strategic foothold in Islamic social discourse - using Sufism is an entry point. We can use Sufism if others can use it. This is a fact.

4. I specifically held up the case of Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi ("Imam Rabbani") and Naqshbandiyya, Qadiriyya, etc. to point out that we have to be discriminating even in engaging with Sufism. I cited this twice or thrice in previous posts on another thread too -- well before Brihaspati ji's "gyaan" hit the fan. I guess my points are getting lost in the sh!tstorm.

To add to what I had said, here's another point: Islamist forces have recognized te influence of Sufism in the West and are ploughing money into it, wherever the Sheikh is amenable to seducing seekers into the Islamist interpretation. Therefore, this is a battleground as much as anything else. He who controls the pass shall win. If you really want to subvert Islamism's imperialist agenda, you need a trojan, and Sufism is the trojan. Oye!

5. I gave the example of the Sikh phenomenon. Sufis gave their blood to protect Guru Gobind Singh and oppose Aurangzeb. This was to show that there are several instances of a direct and undeniable pro-Indic role played by Sufis.

6. Historically, as many, if not more Sufis have been killed, persecuted and driven into exile by the Islamist types, as have Indics.

7. About risks of engagement, take an analogy -- Teaching English in Indian schools will certainly continue to disseminate some of the Macaulay-ite memes which the British sought to implant in the Indian psyche. But the fact is that knowledge of English is an advantage to us today, given our present condition. Knowledge of another's culture gives us power over them when we engage with them, as long as we are aware of our bearings. Scaredy dogs see a threat in everything. They are blind to opportunities to make allies and friends. (Huh? What was that Kautilya said?) Just like there's no need to stop teaching and using English just yet, similarly, we need not give up India's links with the Sufi schools. Ultaa, leverage those historical links in present time.

8. If there's anything the last millennium has shown, it is that:
a. Indic civilization is not dependent on linguistic preservation or colonization; unlike, say, Chinese or even Persian civilization.
b. Indic civilization is not limited by political continuity or discontinuity, unlike so many others.
c. Indic civilization is not limited or distorted by the ebb and flow of even idealogical forces.

This looks like proof of a very deep and robust civilization - a strength that should give us confidence to engage rather than retreat into defence or resentment when its completely unnecessary. I pointed out that the tide of history appears to have turned, and we are no longer in a passive position w.r.t. the Moslem world. We have to either ride the tide, or miss opportunities.

9. When Islamists first tried to attack India, we gave them a kick in the cods that resonated from Baghdad to Andalusia. They didn't make another attempt for a couple of centuries. But when they tried again, they started by sending in scholars and intellectuals to study Indic culture, and missionaries to engage with Indians at a people-to-people level, to challenge prevalent ideas and influence social discourse. This is sound strategy, and it should be ours too. America is doing it in the Islamic world today, why not us?

10. Lastly, a complimentary Parthian shot onlee. :mrgreen: I confess I haven't been monitoring Brihaspati ji's round the clock drone attacks. The reason I am not interested in his arguments here is that they have nothing to do with the main thread - India's socio-political footprint and opportunities in the Islamic world. If he has other alternative suggestions for intervention, he ought to put them forward, rather than spending so much of his time and energy attacking this one.

I am not being ad hominem, bhai. "Communal" is not a scurrilous term in this instance here, it is exactly what it is, for God's sake. From the time Brihaspati ji's "gyaan" hit the fan, he is the one labelling people p-sec, Congress, left-wing, Thaparite, etc. :eek: I have total contempt for these forces, the Congress and the left. But that doesn't mean I'm queuing outside Tejo Mahalaya HQ in order to receive diksha from Brihaspati ji. :mrgreen: The Vedas have some pretty interesting angles on psychohistory. If these nay-sayers see a keyword vaguely similar to their hated enemy, then the speaker must be one of them! This is identificationism and binary logic, pure and simple. Then they proceed to draw him into giving "explanations" which they reject because the devious sources can never be believed. Then they label you and conclude their "argument" that you have an anti-Indian agenda all along. I've seen it with p-secs, and I've seen it with these guys. Definitely "==" in that sense.

They can't come to terms with the past, they can't use it to make way for a better future. Phew, I'm tired now.

Cain Marko
BRF Oldie
Posts: 3582
Joined: 26 Jun 2005 10:26

Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby Cain Marko » 21 Jun 2011 02:05

RajeshA wrote:brihaspati garu,
I am very keen to learn from Carl ji and Cain Marko ji, how they feel about your pointers!
[/quote]

Rajeshji, since I lost a rather long written post in an attempt to put forth my take about Brihaspati's "pointers", I'll try to make this brief:

While Brihaspati's arguments seem rather tempting, I'd just like to point out that they fly in the face of what many a luminary has said about Islam. The attempt to put forth Islam as an altogether "evil" ideology, and Sufism as an offshoot cunningly derived to waylay the poor native, is at best one sided and worst, dangerous. Not to mention rather unreasonable - the effects of flawed action on part of followers/claimants cannot be squarely put upon the founder of any religion lest the evils of Indian society, past or present, be blamed upon Sri Krushna or Manu. The idea that nothing positive ever came out of Islamic civilization is a rather naive,"orc" vs. "elf" type argument. This is not to gloss over the evils that came about with conquest, there is no denying that terrible incidents did occur, and it is indeed hard to reconcile such actions with the positive in Islam, however, this is definitely not a oneway street. Further, as Carl points out - such an approach would be opportunity lost, and with the opportunity so is the battle/war lost. IOWs, there are simply no takers anywhere in the world for such one-sided, skewed reasoning other than screwball redneck teahatters and their ilk.

The Brihaspati outlook and approach of selective copy/pasting is not really different from that of the Salafis et al - "Hindus eat their children y'know" - seems no different here. Stalwarts like Ch. Shivaji, Aurobindo, Nanak, etc took great pains to avoid such characterization and they knew what they were doing. Their praise/respect for Islam was not some token gesture - if Islam was in fact nothing but a spurious political ideology, it would be their duty to expose it and save their citizens from such an evil. Or should we now blame them for pandering to Islam as well, damned secularists? The fact is that Islam as a religion serves its purpose perfectly by "re-connecting - re-legios" the follower to the Divine, as such it is vouched for by some rather tall figures.

Brihaspati cleverly points out that the Thaparites merely speculate in the absence of Hindu texts. What then does he do when he suggests that the many Hindus who visited Sufis did so only out of fear? Baqwas - if such a compulsion was the only reason for this "loyalty", there is no reason for Hindus/non muslims to throng Sufi Shrines at present. Or are they all a brainwashed, superstitious lot? In light of the pompous monikers used by such pretenders to Dharma (Brihaspati is a good example), perhaps a moments reflection might reveal that such a following could very well be motivated by non material/temporal desires - Divine graces cannot be discounted. There are not only Hindus/Sikhs etc who adore Sufis of the past, but there are many who visit present day Sufis for guidance and succor.

Bottomline, I'll take the words of Ramakrishna, Sai Baba et al over those of Brihaspati and his ilk any time. It is rather obvious that their agenda is driven by prejudice.

CM.

Cain Marko
BRF Oldie
Posts: 3582
Joined: 26 Jun 2005 10:26

Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby Cain Marko » 21 Jun 2011 02:22

Carl wrote:Cain ji, how dare you suggest I'm non-Indic! :shock: :mrgreen: Thanks for the word of encouragement.


Well you did sound rather "secularist", perhaps even like a regular "thaparite" - ducks for cover :mrgreen: No, I was rather impressed with your knowledge and understanding of the two streams; being a student of such matters, I really enjoyed your piece.

CM.

brihaspati
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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby brihaspati » 21 Jun 2011 02:31

So now, discussing Sufis been reduced to "dissing" Islam? Good. The "pompous moniker" actually asked some questions about what the "Sufis" had to say about the four pillars - which automatically includes the Sunnah - which in turn includes whatever he supposedly practised in political/military/social terms. To which I now have the answer that we must take Aurobindo, Sai Baba, or RKP's "words" eulogizing "Islam" - and if they "eulogized" then all the questions I put about "sufism" automatically gets answered! Quoting these "gurus" is fine - and not selective "copy and paste"? They say a lot of other things too - do we have to accept all of those too as unadulterated truth?

Both Chisti/Suhrawardyia and Naqshbandis claim themselves as "Sufis". So we have to handpick our "Sufis" now? "Sufism" in itself has threads that could generate a Rabbani/Sirhindi again and not one school but further divided into contradictory "sects" that says such contradictory things with wide fallouts on the non-Muslim?

I have neither criticized the Thaparites for their logic about "lack of narratives from the Hindu" side nor dismissed their speculation. I simply compared that logic with use of the "lack of narratives" angle which was claimed to be a "proof" of "narrowness/chip on shoulder" hatred of Islam. Neither uses were "mine".

As for "speculation", if the Thaparite speculation can neither be disproved nor proved, what is wrong in making another speculation - and in fact a speculation not based on "absence of narratives". My "speculation" was based on a narrative given by a "Sufi" about the "Sufi Muin-aldin" of Ajmer - which I have quoted in full.

It is a standard response to avoid the pointed questions about the reality of Sufism and its doctrine and its complicated history in India - and bring in "authority" (in this case "Shivaji/Nanak/RKP/Aurobindo"). A lot of epithets and angry labels still does not wish away the problems with Islamist doctrine, Sufi representation and its twists and turns over time, and the reality of the Islamist experience in India.

Rudradev
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Re: Islamic Sectarianism

Postby Rudradev » 21 Jun 2011 02:43

Carl wrote:Today, however, the Islamic world is on the defensive - culturally and politically. Now they're the ones being overrun by resentful idealogues and the narrowest of theological pronouncements. OTOH, India is rising, more Indians are travelling and learning about foreign cultures, mostly the West. They're also rediscovering their own culture (hopefully from a living medium rather than irredentist ideologues stuck in the past). This is a time to also expand into the middle-east, to reach out -- but this time as the active party with initiative and purpose. There is a cultural opening, but we will lose it if we are seen as mere lackeys of the West rather than as an active pillar of "Eastern" pride and civilization that engages with the Ummah positively at a popular level. Right now the only image India has at the popular level is Bollywood. This has to be elevated to philosophy, art and God.

Politically, the entrenched exclusivism of the aggressive, Christian West and Middle Eastern Islamism will preoccupy one another and tire one another out in battle. It is into this space that India can exercise an influence that will actually be benign and be perceived to be so by many in the mid-East and our neighborhood, at the popular level. It will be an intervention that will be seen as hostile by some ideologues of other sects, but at the popular level there is a good chance of getting some traction.


A very interesting thesis, Carl-ji. What I'm most interested in is how this can be put into practice.

To me, it appears that trying to angle for psycho-spiritual mind-share abroad among the current Muslim Ummah, via the vector of Sufism, is a long shot today.

To embark on any such venture, Indics need committed, sophisiticated and motivated organization; and the foundation of such organization must be identity, realized simultaneously at many levels. Normative, cultural and institutional.

Today, however: any attempts to establish or reinforce even that core nucleus of Indic psycho-spiritual identity, are besieged from their very inception by rabid "secularist" hatemongers who occupy a frighteningly large degree of mind-share among our very own population. Such entities as the RSS and VHP... the *only* institutions which have taken it upon themselves to inculcate that sort of nucleus as of today... are relentlessly slandered as communal, fascist, revanchist, antediluvian etc. until the very terms "Hindutva" and "saffron" have become the currency of invective.

On the other hand, the historical current of the Rumis and Berunis you describe... and which you propose reversing in the present... was merely the soft aspect of a very hard, uncompromising, extraordinarily expansionist and imperialist state. Behind all of these scholars and open-minded investigators stood the hard-as-steel might of the Khilafat.

Where is a similar foundation for the Indics to rest their feet firmly upon, before launching themselves on adventures of psycho-spiritual engagement and soft proselytization outside our borders? Where will it come from, if any form of self-assertion by any party representing conscious Indic identity, is immediately aborted by the prevailing power structure within our own borders?

I agree with you that the Islamic world is in crisis today, and may even be ripening for influence by the agents of non-Islamic psycho-spiritual traditions. However, we Indics are nowhere near ready to exercise the necessary quantum of influence abroad.

I would say that first, this very process must be successfully executed within our own borders. Let the Indic consolidate within his own country. Let him then influence, and successfully co-opt the avowedly non-Indic populations of our own country in the manner you describe.
Meanwhile, let the prosperity of India be channeled into the creation of hard state power... which in no way contradicts or countermands the expansion of soft power, as long as there is an essential concordance of identity and purpose between the two (as there certainly was between the Khilafat and the Sufis of Rumi's day.)

Once it has succeeded in India, then let it be accomplished in the lands that were India as recently as 64 years ago. When all that is consolidated, we can seek to replicate those results in Persia, Arabia and beyond. Why worry about missed opportunities... there is no hurry, the decline and fall of the Ummah has a few centuries to go yet. The first priority must be to set things straight at home.


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