If you are a confused Hindu (why are there so many of them?), Sanjay Dixit’s inelegantly named Nullifying Article 370 And Enacting CAA is a must-read.
If you are a “liberal” Muslim (why are there so few of them visible in public spaces?), this is even more of a must-read.
The rest of you (liberals, secularists, Leftists, anarchists) should anyway read it, for you can then reject the truths it contains and shout “Islamophobia.”
This book is one of Bloomsbury’s more inspired publishing decisions before it recently courted ignominy by de-platforming a book on the Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story, obviously under intense bullying by rogue “liberals”.
But that’s a side-bar. The real value of Dixit’s excellent book is that it explains why Article 370 had to be eviscerated by the Modi government last year, and why the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 (CAA) had to be legislated.
Even more importantly, by reading into the Islamic history of the Indian subcontinent and Jammu & Kashmir, both before and after Partition, the author is able to explain why, even in “secular” India, the Partition mindset has not reduced much among Muslim theologians.
This tarring of the majority of Muslims with one brush may seem unfair, for most individual Muslims do not have dreams and aspirations that are any different from the average Hindu or Sikh or Buddhist or Jain.
But it does not need a majority of Muslims to think separatism for it to become a reality.
We saw that in 1947.
You only need a determined and vocal minority, and willing to indulge in violence to achieve its aims, to browbeat the ordinary Muslim into silence, and intimidate the rest into acquiescence.
Add lies and half-truths and propaganda, often with the backing of ill-informed Hindus and the anarchic Left-liberal Jamaat, and you know why the majority community is always the loser.
Dixit’s book is broadly split into two parts. The first part explains why and how separatist thinking is in-built into the Indian Muslim’s psyche, while the second part outlines the historical antecedents of Jammu & Kashmir, the post-Partition appeasement of its Muslim majority and the steady targeting of its Hindu minorities leading, ultimately, to the final ethnic cleansings of 1989-90.
These two parts, which provide the backdrop, then feed into the next two, shorter parts.
One links the history of Partition and progressive Islamisation of the neighbourhood (including the Muslim-majority areas of India) to justify the nullification of Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir and the enactment of CAA.
While the former allowed the Union government to split Jammu & Kashmir into two Union Territories, the latter provided for faster citizenship to Hindus and other minorities persecuted in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
The last part of the book is the Postscript, which explains the aggressive Muslim agitation against the CAA. It is an I-told-You-So by the author, who felt vindicated in his analysis of Islamic history playing out in reality even in secular India 70 years after adopting a non-sectarian Constitution.
The question for ordinary Indians to ask is this: why is a law intended to help persecuted people (CAA) settle in India suddenly interpreted as an attack on Indian Muslims who are already citizens and unaffected by it?
Why is the obvious explanation for the CAA not accepted as correct?
Dixit says the Islamic principle of taqlid is one reason why Muslims avoid the use of reason in matters involving religious identity.
As he writes in his preface to the book, “The community is forbidden to use aql, or reason, under the principle of taqlid. Reason is supposed to be exercised in 5/6 sects of Sunni Islam and in all 5/5 sects of Shi’a Islam by only the authorised clerics, called mushtahid or mujaddid or muhaddis.”
When reason is outsourced to a hidebound religious orthodoxy, one cannot expect better results.
In fact, the history of Islam abandoning reason goes back all the way to the 10th and 11th centuries CE, when the gates to Ijtihad (independent reasoning) were closed by Muslim theologians.
Particularly influential in this regard was the 11th century theologian of the Asherite school, al-Ghazali (full name: Abu Ḥamid Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad al-Tusi al-Ghazali).
Islam’s brief flirtation with reason and independent thinking, which flowered under the Persian polymath Ibn Sina (Avicenna to western Orientalists), and the Andalusian polymath Ibn Rushid (known as Averroes to the west) ended with al-Ghazali and the rise of Asherite theological dominance.
Al-Ghazali, who loved Sufism, interpreted Allah as pure will, whose commandments could not be questioned or interpreted using human reason.
The word of Allah cannot be artificially separated into good or bad deeds based on human understanding.
One merely had to follow them without questioning. According to scholar Robert R Reilly, who authored The Closing of the Muslim Mind, al-Ghazali played a key role in enabling Islam’s “intellectual suicide” which directly led to the modern Islamist crisis (Pakistan, ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, etc).
Dixit’s book on Article 370 and CAA explains why this has been true even of Muslims in the Indian subcontinent by underlining the reality of taqlid.
Here is a short summary of the key points he makes in this book.
First, the idea that Muslims can never consent to living as minorities under non-Muslim rulers goes far back into history. In the modern British colonial context, it was articulated by Syed Ahmad Khan, creator of the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College, precursor to today’s Aligarh Muslim University.
AMU was one of the incubators of the Pakistan project in British India. The two-nation theory can be attributed to Khan and not to VD Savarkar, which is what today’s liberals would want us to believe.
The separatist and partition mindsets are in-built into the Indian Muslim.
Second, the differentiation between Sufi Islam and mainstream Islam is largely rubbish. Both are Islamist supremacist ideologies, the difference being only in the former’s belief in the Prophet as a divine being, while Sunni Islam only thinks of him as a human messenger of Allah.
Sufi history in India leaves no reason to think of it as a particularly peaceful strain of Islam.
Third, Dixit also says that the only difference between Islamists (mostly Barelvis) who wanted a separate Muslim nation carved out of India (ie, Pakistan) and “nationalist” Muslims (Maulana Azad, Hakim Ajmal Khan, clerics of the Deoband seminary and the Jamaat-e-Ulema-e-Hind) was about strategy.
They differed on how they wanted to attain Islamic supremacy in the whole territory of India. The former wanted the Medina plan, where a separate Islamic state is carved out of India (corresponding to the Prophet’s decision to set up his own state in Medina before returning to Mecca in triumph), while the latter felt that Islamic India should be achieved through steady conversions and other actions in a united India.
In terms of various schools of Muslim thought, the Barelvis were more pro-partition that the Deobandis, but that’s about it.
Fourth, the only pre-Independence politician who understood the Muslim mind correctly was BR Ambedkar, who saw Muslim behaviour as “gangster” politics.
Dixit says that the general Muslim strategy, as understood by Ambedkar, was to make aggressive and absurd demands when they were in a minority under the pretense of being frightened.
But when in majority, the same lot will impose Sharia on the whole populace.
Fifth, Dixit believes that only Ambedkar’s plan for a full exchange of Hindu and Muslim populations after Partition would have prevented massive violence, since the minority Muslims in India would then have had second thoughts on backing the idea of Partition.
But this did not happen, and Partition left many of its votaries in India, who are now nurturing a separatist mindset once again.
These are the people fomenting trouble against the CAA.
Sixth, the CAA itself is a partial implementation of the Nehru-Liaquat pact of 1950, under which the two Prime Ministers agreed to protect their domestic minorities.
But Pakistan did not deliver its end of the bargain, and the CAA is intended to at least allow the persecuted minorities of Pakistan and Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) to become citizens of India.
Seventh, Dixit clears any lingering misconception that Muslims who remained in India were those who chose to do so.
The reality is that the Muslim minority provinces of India voted overwhelmingly for Pakistan but did not migrate in the end. But it is now a “liberal” argument that the Muslims left behind voluntarily chose secular India, when the premise of Pakistan was what they voted for in 1946.
Eighth, in the part about Jammu & Kashmir, Dixit tells us how the Islamisation of this beautiful paradise on earth started as far back as the 14th century, and the first Kashmiri exodus started under Sultan Sikandar Butshikan (“destroyer of idols”).
The 1989-90 Pandit exodus is actually the seventh one, the others being dated to the Chak dynasty’s Islamist rule in the 16th century, the 17th century (where Aurangzeb’s Governor Iftekhar Khan unleashed a reign of terror), and the 18th century (under the Durranis).
The last three exoduses happened during British rule (1931, which marked the beginning of the re-Islamisation project in J&K in the 20th century), during and after Partition (a slow exodus spanning three decades, 1950-80) and in 1989-90 (the final one).
Ninth, the chapters on Jammu & Kashmir explain the legal background which made it important for the government to nullify rather than repeal Article 370, using the recommendation of the government of J&K (then under Governor’s rule), rather than the Assembly.
The path to normality in partially Islamised J&K, where the last government of Mehbooba Mufti even tried to change the demography in Hindu-majority Jammu by devious means (including by settling the Myanmar Rohingyas there), has been cleared by the nullification of Article 370.
It is now up to the government to not drop the ball by sheer pusillanimity.
Dixit’s book also contains detailed appendices on the CAA, the Nehru-Liaquat Pact, the Constituent Assembly debates on Article 306A (later to become Article 370), et cetera.
If this veritable fact-filled tome does not alert both confused Hindus and liberal Muslims to the realities of Islamist mindsets and the threat to Indic religious identities from an unreformed Indian Islam, we have only ourselves to blame.
Postscript: The author of the book Sanjay Dixit has withdrawn the publication rights of the book from Bloomsbury after the latter declined to publish a book on Delhi Riots 2020. Dixit’s book will now be published by Garuda Prakashan shortly. The book review above was published on the basis of an advance copy of the manuscript.