Category Archives: Islam

THE GOOD SIDE OF #ISLAM (VERSUS HINDUISM)

I have spoken so much against ‪#‎Islam‬ boys and girls, that I should say something good about it. I have also defended Hindus so much, that I may be allowed to criticize them too. So, here it is:
1) Contrary to Hindus, Muslims are proud to be Muslims and do no shy from flashing their identities and beliefs.
2) There is a universal brotherhood in Islam. When I came to India, I drove from Paris to Delhi in a a caravan of five cars, my best friend then (he died unfortunately) was Ahmed Mzali,a French Moroccan. In all the Muslim countries we crossed – Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan – he would say ‘Salaam Alikum’ and people would smile, open their doors, give us drinks, food, share their hookas.
‪#‎Hindus‬ however, must be some of the most selfish and individualistic people in the world. Rich Hindus never help their poorer brothers and sisters – thats why the Mother Teresa’s and Sonia Gandhis are able to flourish in India. A Hindu abroad never acknowledges another Hindu, but pretends he or she does not exist.
3) There are some boundaries in Islam – such as no alcohol, or smoking, which attracts new converts or even draws back Muslims who have strayed away from the path. Whereas in Hinduism, there are no such rules and drinking’s a huge problem for India – mostly by Hindus, rich and poor alike.
4) Muslims will die for their beliefs – in fact they will kill if they feel their God has been insulted, even in a mild way. You can insult Hindus and their Gods and Goddesses as much as you want and nothing will happen to you.
5) Muslims are very religious and pray five times a day towards the Mecca. Most Hindus don’t give a damn about their religion and will attend temple or pujas, once a year when their dear ones die.
6) Muslims feel for their brothers which they think are persecuted, in Palestine, Chechnya or Kashmir. A billion Hindus dont have not raised a finger about the 360.000 Kashmiri Pandits who became refugees in their own country after they were chased out by terror from the Valley of Kashmir in the 90’s.
7) Muslims make sure their kids learn bout the Koran, whether it is at home or in Madrasas. They also see to it that as soon as they can, they start praying. Hindus today don’t give a damn whether their children know about the Ramayana, the Mahabharata or the Bhagavad Gita, where every truth that needs to be known about life, after life, karma, dharma and soul is taught. Modern Hindu children do not go to temples, pray or know what is a puja.
8) Muslims have also learnt to compete with Christian College education by starting their own Colleges, with high academic standards, such as the Delhi Jamia Millia Islamia university, while making sure they are Islamic in their outlook, and structure.
Hindus do not care to have colleges where Hindu values are imparted. and the only one ever, the Benares Hindu University, should not be called ‘Hindu’ anymore, as nothing Hindu is taught there anymore.
8) Muslims love and cultivate a different language -Urdu for that matter. Sanskrit, the world’s oldest language, the most sophisticated and subtle, that could have a myriad uses such as programming, has totally fallen in disuse, as no Hindus cares to teach it to their children.
9) Muslims respect their historical heroes. Aurangzeb, for instance,whom many historians still consider as a stern but just emperor, though he was cruel even to his own family, is revered by most Muslims. In Pakistan, fathers still name their sons ‘Aurangzeb’. Compare this with the Hindus: Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, who alone with a few hundred men, stood his ground against the most powerful emperor of his times, has practically no place in Indian History books and is often described as a petty chieftain or even a plunderer. So is Maharana Pratap, the ONLY rajput who fought against the Moguls and actually defeated Akbar in Hadilgathi. Does Maharana Pratap have his rightful place in Indian History books. You tell me.
10) Muslims strive to preserve their identities and communities. they tend to live together in villages and towns, so that some bonding and common practices are kept. This is not true of Hindus who tend to merge and melt wherever they live – and in the process, lose some their identities and togetherness.
11) Mahatma Gandhi called Muslims ‘bullies ‘ and Hindus ‘cowards’. Was he far from the truth? It is true that Muslims will fight for their beliefs – albeit violently – and that Hindus at the least sign of trouble, go underground. (To be followed)
DO YOU AGREE WITH ME, GIRLS AND BOYS.? WE SHOULD ALSO RESPECT OUR ENEMIES, AS THE BHAGAWAD GITA TEACHES US. AFTER ALL, WE HAVE BEEN BORN TENS THOUSANDS OF TIMES AND WE MUST HAVE BEEN MUSLIMS TOO. AT LEAST I FEEL I WAS.

#ISLAM & THE WORLD OF FOOTBALL

Many of you are football fans. Today there are a great number of Muslims who shine in football, whether in France, Belgium or England. But it comes with a price:

In Europe, in countries such as France, Belgium and Germany, Islam has penetrated deep in two areas, the world of rap music and that of football. In rap we find many artists who have been able to blend in the culture of their adopted countries with their deep religious beliefs in Islam. For instance, French Abd Al Malik, a fervent Muslim, who made the hip-hop film ‘May Allah Bless France’ ! Or Hisham Aidi, head of the hip-hop group Mafia K’1 Fry, a celebrity in France.
But it is in football, that Islam has made the most inroads. There are today many football players of Muslim origin, in both French football clubs and the French national team. In fact they are sometimes in majority: in Marseilles, for instance, where lives an important Muslim population, as geographically it is close to the North Africa countries, which France had colonized – Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia – many of the players are French Muslims. In the French national team too, footballers of great talent, such Karim Benzama, Real Madrid’s star, or Samir Nasri, Manchester City’s brilliant midfielder, give a strong foundation to the team. Let us not forget Zinedine Zidane, probably the best ever French player, whose two unforgettable headers gave France the World Cup title in 1998. In England too, Muslim footballers have started playing a dominating role, By the 2012-13 season Newcastle, for example, one of the Premier League’s most famed teams, had seven Muslim players, for whom a special prayer room was built in their club so that they could do their namaz.
In Belgium as well, Muslim footballers abound, as it is a way for them to come out of poverty. Noticeable is Adnan Januzaj, from Manchester United. Born in Brussels, Januzaj is the son of Kosovar-Albanian parents who fled the Balkan crisis to escape the poverty. His uncle was a member of the Kosovan Liberation army that fought the Serbs for an independent Islamic Kosovo. Marouane Fellaini, also from Manu, is a player of Moroccan origin, who is a liked by all. So are Moussa Dembele & Nacer Chadli, both playing in Tottenham. It is also rumoured that Belgium Eden Hazard, Chelsea’s incomparable winger, is a Muslim as well.
These players not only shine by their dribbling or shooting skills, but also by their influence over the years on non-Muslim players. For instance the hairstyles trends started by a few footballers, are today universal amongst players. So are the beards, important for religious Muslims. Even a player like Tim Howard, the goalkeeper of Everton, a devout American Christian, sported a Muslim-like beard. Tattoos also, an ancient Muslim tradition, are today prevalent in football.
But the influence of Islam in the world of football does not stop here. The habit of razing one’s hands and eyes to the sky – to Allah, the Almighty – when entering the ground or scoring a goal, has been adopted by many players, Christians and others. Muslim players are also liked by their teammates, because they are friendly, they are trendy and have a team spirit. “It is maybe because of the universal brotherhood which exists in Islam, that Muslim players bond well with their teammates”, writes Jean Druze, a sports journalist. As a result, Muslim countries have invested heavily in European football, France’s best team, Paris Saint Germain, is owned by a Qatar Sheikh, who has poured in billions of dollars, so as to buy the best players, whether Zlatan Ibrahimovic, or Angel Di Maria. The club of Manchester City, at the moment on top of the English Premier League, is the property of Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates. Arsenal’s Stadium of Light, was built with money of the Emirates airline company, which is owned by the Government of Dubai. Thus the impact of Islam in football is both talent wise as well as financial: “Football—the world’s most popular sport—has been transformed by the involvement of Muslim players » writes James B. Lagrand, a British columnist.
But there is also a darker side to this presence. After the Charlie Hebdo attacks of January 2015, for instance, when two French Jihadists, Said & Cherif Kouachi killed eight journalists and cartoonists “for having published drawings offensive to the Prophet”, the French Football Federation responded well by observing a moment of silence and instructing the players to wear black armbands. However, some footballers like Frank Ribery, Bayern Munich’s star, or Samir Nasri, kept an ominous silence. Others even openly wore a T-shirts saying “I am not Charlie”.
The influx of Arab money into European football, also comes with a price: after Qatar Sports Investments, owned by the present emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, purchased the French club Paris St. Germain (PSG)—- and thanks to petrodollars, made it one of the best teams in Europe, there has been accusations that Qatar plays a double game. Says Haras Rafiq, the outreach officer for the Quilliam Foundation, a counter-extremism think tank based in London: “On the one hand, its rulers are promoting a positive image of the country by, for example, hosting the 2022 World Cup and sponsoring Barcelona. On the other hand, they’re supporting and harboring extremism and terrorism in the Middle East and around the world.”
In 2012 Real Madrid, the richest football team in the world, to appease one of its main sponsors, the National Bank of Abu Dhabi, as well as the United Arab Emirates, who is building a $1 billion sports tourist resort, removed a cross from their club crest ‘which was offensive to Islam’ (photo).
German teams such as Bayern Munich, the best and richest of the country, have also bowed down to pressure – but this time from their own Muslim players: they agreed to a request to build a mosque in the Allianz Arena stadium to serve its Muslim players and fans. The request was made by the club’s Muslim midfielder Bilal Franck Ribery. A press release stated that “the new mosque would serve Muslim players and fans with a full time imam, an Islamic library and Islamic sessions”. This has raised quite a few eyebrows in Germany, for it sets a precedent that could be followed by many clubs with Muslim players.
It is whispered too that some Muslim football players do proselytizing and encourage younger footballers to convert to Islam. One example is Nicolas Anelka, the brilliant but unruly French player, who till recently was coaching the Mumbai City competing in the Indian Super League. Frank Ribery, a non-Muslim, converted to Islam very young, under the influence of one of his seniors. There are others famous converted players: Emmanuel Adebayor, Eric Abidal, of French African origin, Thierry Henri, of Arsenal fame, or Robin Van Persie , a celebrated Dutch footballer now playing in Turkey….
Muslim players also tend to not recognise any authority except of Allah’s. In the 2010 Football World Cup for instance, a revolt against the French coach was led by Nicolas Anelka and Samir Nasri, both French Muslims. The team lost miserably and players were sent home. Samir Nasri never played again for the French national team. Samir’s girlfriend attributed this to racism, “but the truth, points out Jean Druze, is that from this moment on, the French Football federation authorities knew they had a problem with their Muslim players”. One of the issues is that it had been noticed that French Muslim players refuse to sing La Marseillaise, the French national anthem. After the 2010 World Cup scandal, The French Football Federation tried to enforce that all their footballers sing it. But till date, many players such as Karim Benzema, still don’t.
When it comes to the Paris attacks, which killed more than 130 people and wounded 300, the answer from the world of football has been very subdued, to say the least – and this has shocked many in France and Belgium. Freddy Gray of the Spectator, writes that: “It is not so surprising if the jihadists in Paris were targeting an international football match (France vs Germany at Stade France where three suicide bombers could not enter the stadium where French President Hollande was present – and blew themselves outside). There has for years been a strange relationship between football, Islam and violence in France”. Gray takes the example of Zinedine Zidane, who was sent off for head-butting Italian Marco Materazzi in the final of the 2006 World Cup. Though this gesture probably cost France the title, French Muslims inferred (wrongly) “that he had acted nobly because Materazzi had offended the Prophet”. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, whose father is a Bosnian Muslim, only said after the Paris terror: “I have tried to focus entirely on this game, but it was very difficult…. It’s tragic what happened there. This kind of thing should never happen…”, that left many observers baffled. Ivorian Yaya Touré, who plays in England, said he felt sorry for the families of the slain, but warned that “Muslims now feared reprisals”. As for Zinedine Zidane, he has not uttered even a word to commiserate the lives of so many of his French citizens taken & even pulled out of a charity match he was supposed to play; it was left to David Beckham to defend him.
Only one Muslim footballer has spoken publicly of his opposition to the killings in Paris: Vincent Kompany, the captain of Manchester City and a Belgium national. Vincent, who is a Christian, revealed: “ that he did not sleep for three days, specially when he learnt that the attacks of November 13 were planned from his city Brussels. But the backlash was so strong, specially amongst his Muslim teammates of Manchester City and the Belgium national team, who told Kompany “to focus his criticism on the actions of Israel and western nations involved in Syria”, that he had to backtrack and place the blame “on the ghettoes of Brussels and the neglect of the Government of its minorities“. Some fellow Muslims even questioned his African identity, suggesting he’s a stooge: “You should be ashamed of being a slave of white people”, said one of them.
And this raises an important question: in the aftermath of the 13th November Paris attacks, as well as the earlier Charlie Hebdo killings. The police and the governments of both France & Belgium, have – and still are – clamping down on known Islamic extremists, on mosques, and have discovered hundreds of weapons and explosive materials. “But writes Druze, should there not be some kind of scrutiny on what is happening silently, but surely in the world of football”. Druze goes on to quote the example of former Arsenal star Abu Issa Al-Andalusi, who joined the ISI and was seen in a propaganda video, holding an AK47 and proclaiming holy war to the West? The UK daily Mail also reported that German under-17 international Burak Karan, who played alongside such celebrities as Sami Khedira, or Kevin-Prince Boateng, was killed while fighting for al-Qaeda in northern Syria. Even more recently still writes the Mail “Five radicalised footballers from East London who left the UK to join ISIS, were in touch with British executioner Jihadi John”.
François Gautier

WHY I AM A HINDU

I was a born and brought-up as a catholic and knew absolutely nothing about India, Hinduism and Hindus. When I was a young Frenchman of 19, I had the privilege to hear about the Mother and Sri Aurobindo, through a friend, whose father was the last Governor of Pondichery. My friend told me that a caravan of 5 cars was about to drive from Paris to Pondichery. On a hunch, I joined this caravan.
Upon arriving in Delhi after driving trough nine countries, I felt I had come home and that this country was a very special place.

I lived in the Pondichery Sri Aurobindo ashram for seven years. These were wonderful times: the Mother was still alive and everything looked new, everything seemed possible. One read Sri Aurobindo, of course, as he was the Master and the inspiration of the place, but one either did not understand or felt disconnected to his political writings.

Then, having done some journalism and photography in France, I started freelancing in South India and I discovered the Hindus. What I chanced upon was that their religion was not in their heads, as it is for us Christians – “I must pray, I must be good, I must not sin” – but that it was rather something they lived: they seemed, for instance, to accept me, a Westerner, a non Hindu, as they seemed to accept all other religions. This discovery would never leave me, even when I became a political journalist in Delhi for major French newspapers.

Thus slowly, I became acquainted with the eternal principles of Hinduism:
• A Hindu is one who searches for the Ultimate Truth.
• Unlike other religions, Hinduism refuses to sanction the monopoly of one God, or one Scripture as the only way to salvation.
• Hinduism is the eternal faith, Sanataana Dharma, or the universal law by which all humans are governed.
• Hindus believe that the soul takes birth in a physical body, dies, gets reborn, until it has attained Perfect Divinity.
• Hindus believe that one can cleanse oneself from karmas through yoga practices, such as pranayama, meditation or asanas.
• One can be a Christian, a Muslim, a Jew, or from any other religion and still practice Hinduism. His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has shown the way: breath has no religion and pranayama can be practiced by anybody, whatever their creed.

In that sense, I consider myself a Hindu

Indian Muslims: Babar or Ram?

Columns by Francois Gautier


Indian Muslims: Babar or Ram?

INDIAN Muslims are today at the crossroads. The destruction of the Buddhist statues in Afghanistan has shown that Islam still considers Buddhist and Hindu statues, temples and worshippers as infidels, to be razed and eliminated. For the Taliban and those who support them, covertly or overtly, nothing has changed since Mohammed broke the first `idols’ in the 7th century and the task has been left unfinished. The suicide attacks on the Indian army by Islamic groups, supported and financed by Pakistan, in spite of India’s unilateral ceasefire, should also prove that the Islamic injunction of jehad is still very much alive and in practice in much of the Islamic world, from Sudan to Libya, from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan.

The question that Indian Muslims should ask themselves now is simple: who are we? Among the 120 millions of Muslims in India, only a tiny percentage descends from the Turks, Afghans, or Iranians who invaded India. The majority of them are converted Muslims. And converted how? By terror, coercion, force, bloodshed. The ancestors of today’s Indian Muslims are probably those who suffered the most from the Arab and Muslim invasions. Those Hindus and Sikhs who chose not to convert, took refuge in their faith, fought together and kept their pride and honor. The first two generations of those who converted must have endured hell for they certainly did not convert out of conviction, but because they had no choice: their daughters and wives were raped, sons taken into slavery, parents killed.

It is true that many Indian Muslims were Hindu `untouchables’. Marxists wouldlike us to believe that they converted because they thought that theywould access the more egalitarian society of Islam. What rubbish! Does onethink in that way in times of war, terror and tears? Do today’s Hindu lower castes convert to Islam when there is no violent coercion? Morelikely, the `untouchables’ were the most vulnerable, the least apt to defend themselves; they had neither the faith of the brahmins, nor the riches of the vaishyas, nor the military skill of the kshatriyas.

Do Indian Muslims understand that they were part of the richest, most advanced, most tolerant and generous civilization of ancient times? That their culture was so advanced that it had spread all over the world? Do they realise that more and more archaeological and historical discoveries are pointing out that the genocide of Hindus by Muslim invaders is without parallel. The conquest of Afghanistan in the year 1000 was followed by the annihilation of the entire Hindu population there; indeed, the region is still called Hindu Kush _ `Hindu slaughter’. The Bahmani sultans in central India made it a rule to kill 100,000 Hindus a year. In 1399, Taimur killed 100,000 Hindus in a single day. Professor K.S. Lal has estimated that the Hindu population decreased by 😯 million between the year 1000 and 1525, probably the biggest holocaust in history. Surely, many of present-day Indian Muslims’ ancestors must have been among those slaughterers.Islam cannot be wished away. As Sri Aurobindo said, “Mohammed’s mission was necessary, else we might have ended by thinking, in the exaggeration of our efforts at self-purification, that earth was meant only for the monk and the city created as a vestibule for the desert”. Thus Indian Muslims have to keep their faith and any attempt by Hindus to convert them back is not only futile but counterproductive. But the question to be asked to them is: What kind of Islam do you want to practice? An Islam which looks westwards, towards a foreign city, the Mecca, swears by a scripture, which is not only not relevant to India but which was meant for people living 1,500 years ago, in a language which is not Indian? Or do they want to practise an Islam which is `Indianised’, which accepts the reality of other gods, as Hinduism and Buddhism accept that there have been other avatars than Ram or Buddha?

Do Indian Muslims want to worship Babar, a man who destroyed everything which was good, beautiful and holy and lived by the power of violence, or do they want to imbibe the qualities of Ram, who believed in the equality of all, who gave up all riches and honours of the world because he thought his brother deserved the throne more than him? Whatever the West says, which is obsessed with China, India, a vibrant, English-speaking, pro-Western democracy, is going to become the superpower of the 21st century. Do Indian Muslims want to participate in that great adventure? Do they want to feel that they are part of India, that they are Indians?

Nowadays it is politically not correct to say anything against Islam. Youare immediately labelled anti-Muslim and dismissed as a `rightist’. No matter if you are only reporting the fact that there is a real problem with Islam in South Asia; that India is surrounded by fundamentalist states _ Afghanistan and Pakistan _ while more moderates like Bangladesh tend to close an eye to anti-Indian activities; that Indian Muslims sometimes tend to put their religion before their country. Thus the question has to be asked again: Do Indian Muslims want to be like Babar or like Ram? Their choice will shape their future for generations to come.

The truth about Aurangzeb

The truth about Aurangzeb

Author: Francois Gautier
Publication: Rediff.com
Date: February 16, 2007
URL: http://www.rediff.com/news/2007/feb/16francois.htm

Fact, the Trust which I head, is holding an exhibition on ‘Aurangzeb as he was according to Mughal documents’, from February 16 to 20 at New Delhi’s Habitat Center, the Palm Court Gallery, from 10 am to 9 pm.

Why an exhibition on Aurangzeb, some may ask. Firstly, I have been a close student of Indian history, and one of its most controversial figures has been Aurangzeb (1658-1707). It is true that under him the Mughal empire reached its zenith, but Aurangzeb was also a very cruel ruler some might even say monstrous.

What are the facts? Aurangzeb did not just build an isolated mosque on a destroyed temple, he ordered all temples destroyed, among them the Kashi Vishwanath temple, one of the most sacred places of Hinduism, and had mosques built on a number of cleared temple sites. Other Hindu sacred places within his reach equally suffered destruction, with mosques built on them. A few examples: Krishna’s birth temple in Mathura; the rebuilt Somnath temple on the coast of Gujarat; the Vishnu temple replaced with the Alamgir mosque now overlooking Benares; and the Treta-ka-Thakur temple in Ayodhya. The number of temples destroyed by Aurangzeb is counted in four, if not five figures. Aurangzeb did not stop at destroying temples, their users were also wiped out; even his own brother Dara Shikoh was executed for taking an interest in Hindu religion; Sikh Guru Tegh Bahadur was beheaded because he objected to Aurangzeb’s forced conversions.

Yet, Percival Spear, co-author with Romila Thapar of the prestigious A History of India (Penguin), writes: ‘Aurangzeb’s supposed intolerance is little more than a hostile legend based on isolated acts such as the erection of a mosque on a temple site in Benares.’ L’histoire de l’Inde moderne (Fayard), the French equivalent of Percival Spear’s history of India, praises Aurangzeb and says, ‘He has been maligned by Hindu fundamentalists’. Even Indian politicians are ignorant of Aurangzeb’s evil deeds. Nehru might have known about them, but for his own reasons he chose to keep quiet and instructed his historians to downplay Aurangzeb’s destructive drive and instead praise him as a benefactor of arts.

Since then six generations of Marxist historians have done the same and betrayed their allegiance to truth. Very few people know for instance that Aurangzeb banned any kind of music and that painters had to flee his wrath and take refuge with some of Rajasthan’s friendly maharajahs.

Thus, we thought we should get at the root of the matter. History (like journalism) is about documentation and first-hand experience. We decided to show Aurangzeb according to his own documents. There are an incredible number of farhans, original edicts of Aurangzeb hand-written in Persian, in India’s museums, particularly in Rajasthan, such as the Bikaner archives. It was not always easy to scan them, we encountered resistance, sometimes downright hostility and we had to go once to the chief minister to get permission. Indeed, the director of Bikaner archives told us that in 50 years we were the first ones asking for the farhans dealing with Aurangzeb’s destructive deeds. Then we asked painters from Rajasthan to reproduce in the ancient Mughal style some of the edicts: the destruction of Somnath temple; the trampling of Hindus protesting jaziya tax by Aurangzeb’s elephants; or the order from Aurangzeb prohibiting Hindus to ride horses and palanquins; or the beheading of Teg Bahadur and Dara Shikoh.

People might say: ‘OK, this is all true, Aurangzeb was indeed a monster, but why rake up the past, when we have tensions between Muslims and Hindus today?’ There are two reasons for this exhibition. The first is that no nation can move forward unless its children are taught to look squarely at their own history, the good and the bad, the evil and the pure. The French, for instance, have many dark periods in their history, more recently some of the deeds they did during colonisation in North Africa or how they collaborated with the Nazis during the Second World War and handed over French Jews who died in concentration camps (the French are only now coming to terms with it).

The argument that looking at one’s history will pit a community against the other does not hold either: French Catholics and Protestants, who share a very similar religion, fought each other bitterly. Catholics brutally murdered thousands of Protestants in the 18th century; yet today they live peacefully next to each other. France fought three wars with Germany in the last 150 years, yet they are great friends today.

Let Hindus and Muslims then come to terms with what happened under Aurangzeb, because Muslims suffered as much as Hindus. It was not only Shah Jahan or Dara Shikoh who were murdered, but also the forefathers of today’s Indian Muslims who have been converted at 90 per cent. Aurangzeb was the Hitler, the asura of medieval India. No street is named after Hitler in the West, yet in New Delhi we have Aurangzeb Road, a constant reminder of the horrors Aurangzeb perpetrated against Indians, including his own people.

Finally, Aurangzeb is very relevant today because he thought that Sunni Islam was the purest form of his religion and he sought to impose it with ruthless efficiency — even against those of his own faith, such as his brother. Aurangzeb clamped down on the more syncretic, more tolerant Islam, of the Sufi kind, which then existed in India. But he did not fully succeed. Four centuries later, is he going to have the last word? I remember, when I started covering Kashmir in the late ’70s, that Islam had a much more open face. The Kashmir Muslim, who is also a descendant of converted Hindus, might have thought that Allah was the only true God, but he accepted his Kashmiri Pandit neighbour, went to his or her marriage, ate in his or her house and the Hindu in turn went to the mosque. Women used to walk with open faces, watch TV, films.

Then the shadow of Aurangzeb fell on Kashmir and the hardline Sunnis came from Pakistan and Afghanistan: cinemas were banned, the burqa imposed, 400,000 Kashmiri Pandits were chased out of Kashmir through violence and became refugees in their own land and the last Sufi shrine of Sharar-e-Sharif was burnt to the ground (I was there). Today the Shariat has been voted in Kashmir, a state of democratic, secular India, UP’s Muslims have applauded, and the entire Indian media which went up in flames when the government wanted Vande Mataram to be sung, kept quiet. The spirit of Aurangzeb seems to triumph.

But what we need today in India — and indeed in the world — is a Dara Shikoh, who reintroduces an Islam which, while believing in the supremacy of its Prophet, not only accepts other faiths, but is also able to see the good in each religion, study them, maybe create a synthesis. Islam needs to adapt its scriptures which were created nearly 15 centuries ago for the people and customs of these times, but which are not necessarily relevant in some of their injunctions today. Kabir, Dara Shikoh and some of the Sufi saints attempted this task, but failed. Aurangzeb knew what he was doing when he had his own brother beheaded. And we know what we are saying when we say that this exhibition is very relevant to today’s India.

May the Spirit of Dara Shikoh come back to India and bring back Islam to a more tolerant human face.