Archive for January, 2013

Assadfall and Morsification : waiting forever for sure events and primitivization through modernization.

Posted on January 30, 2013. Filed under: Egypt, Islam, Islamic propaganda, Muslims, Obama, Syria, USA |

Frederic C. Hof is a senior fellow of the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council and the former Special Advisor for Transition in Syria at the US Department of State. He writes in http://www.acus.org/viewpoint/syria-transitional-government-and-us-choices

The Syrian revolution is not America’s to win or lose. The American Revolution was not France’s to win or lose. Yet without the support of France, American independence could have been deferred indefinitely and disastrously. Without American support, the uprising of Syrians against a regime willing to assault their dignity and take their lives in addition to picking their pockets, might have died an early death. Yet now a point of decision has arrived. For the Syrian opposition to form a government offering all Syrians a credible and convincing alternative to the Assad-Makhluf family clique, the United States will have to step up its game. Reluctance to do so is understandable. Failure to do so could be disastrous.

A serious level American authority on things Syrian – urges US administration to dither its coyness and go for it atta boy! If the American expert is really at the desperate spot where he has to urge the US admin to pitch in to give legitimacy to the “opposition”, then it is a very desperate spot indeed.

Stop and think. Why is “political legitimacy” and acceptance by the Syrian “folk”, dependent on US admin? Shouldn’t “democratic” movements be already politically legitimate to the people? If they have not already obtained their democratic legitimacy – how can an external agency, force, suddenly convince “people”?

More importantly, what is much more dangerously significant for Americans, do Americans think that democracy can never stand on its own feet without outside, “well intentioned” intervention? Was the American war of independence dependent on French intervention? Are all people’s search for liberation – dependent on external help? Is not outside help and intervention a forever delegitimizing factor for any movement of liberation? Forever, such a movement will be and can be accused of being the result of foreign aggression, collaboration with outsiders and hostiles. As has happened throughout the world in the 20th century.

In the other direction, Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood is now the head of a regime in Egypt, that has started unraveling the country in his attempts to drag Egypt back to the medieval period under the pretension of modernizing it – or even pretend that the leopard of Islamism can change its spots after all.  People have risen against the government’s orders of curfew, and even the military has stopped short of enforcing the curfew. Youth of Egypt who had risen up against the “ancien regime” of Mubarak (who had made his selective compromise with Islamist theologians and publicly went for selective Muslim Brotherhood bashing – all the while allowing the clergy to carry on the classic Islamist propaganda) now find themselves against something even more primitive than Mubarak.

Thus Morsi has shown how to bring a society back to its more primitive form through formal top dressing of apparent modernization.

Two words came to mind :
“Assadfall” : an event declared to be surely happening, but happening forever
“Morsification” – the modernist Islamist technique of “primitivizing” a society through apparent modernization.

Advertisements
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Indians ashamed to be Indians over the rape : confusing Indian identity with foreign misogyny

Posted on January 6, 2013. Filed under: Arab, Buddhists, Delhi, Hindu, Historians with political agenda, History, India, Islam, Islamic propaganda, Jihad, Pakistan, rape, religion, terrorism |

Prequel : from a friend’s note saw that the UK Daily Mirror http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/india-gang-rape-victims-father-1521289 claims the name of the target of the gangrape to be Jyothi Singh Pandey. The first name means “light/illumination/brightness”. The middle name is a common patronymic/family/clan name of Northern India, meaning “Lion”, and the last name derives from Hindu “Pundit”, almost surely assigned only to “Brahmin” lineages. In India, we can now hear the bandying of “rape of Dalit girls” as a special issue – as if in Indian identity politics, even “rape” can be classified based on politically correct positive discrimination lines. Somehow, it appears that by the frequent throwing of a special phrase of “Dalit rape”, the rape of a Dalit girl is of a different order compared to the rape of a “Brahmin” girl. If according to tweeter allegations, the alleged minor who is alleged to have inserted the u-bar and ripped intestines by hand through the vagina, turns out to be a Muslim – then this rape flies against all the propaganda dished out by regime influence over Indian media – that it is only “repressive” “upper caste” Hindus who repress and rape minorities and “Dalits”. But again India is a strange society nowadays where people feel ashamed to be Indians over a rape, unlike most other countries whose leadership only make profound promises to “correct the situation”, but who never apologize or feel ashamed.

Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan and Tech Wizard Narayana Murthy – two iconic Indians of modernity, from two opposite ends of public entertainment and economic value creation, have been reported on Indian media as supposedly having felt “ashamed to be an Indian” over the issue of the Delhi gang rape.

Women activists on TV chat shows and discussion rounds have directly or indirectly blamed “Indian traditional attitudes” for the mistreatment of Indian women. The list of complaints is long : patriarchy, religious orthodoxy, fundamentalism. The overall impression in going through the media representations is however – a definite sense of discomfort in blaming “religion” for it. The reasons are obvious, because both Islam and Christianity in India have shown their orthodox, and religiously motivated, attitudes towards the female body and the female role in society so often and so intensively – that the main target of so-called secular politics, that is “Hindutva”, cannot be singled out, and the prime favourites of secularists will also get tarred and feathered.

The real reasons as to why Indians are in a spot is because they have been forced by regime dependent and encouraged professional historiography to cover up the reality of Indian cultural development, being forced to swallow fanciful reconstructions of Indian past where foreign imperialist ideologies like Islam and colonial period European Christianity had to be shown as having immensely positively shaped and “reformed” a supposedly “backward, primitive, pagan, Brahminical, repressive” Indian society.

The brevity of this post forces me to touch upon some of the myths of Indian history – especially where it concerns women, but very briefly.

Vedic and Puranic literature show ample examples of women choosing their own husbands, having the right to approach and be “satisfied” by a man they took fancy to,  to go out on dates with other men even while having fixed longer term partners and children [the very institution of Vedic marriage rites as a contract of mutual loyalty by the sage Swetaketu – son of Uddalaka – because he did not like his own mother going out with a strange man when he was a child and his father explained that women were free to “roam” and were not be held as private property]. If a woman chose to have a child outside of marriage, she and her child were both acceptable – for example, a founder of a Brahmin lineage, Bharadwaja, was a son of his mother Mamata by her brother-in-law Brihaspati (brother of her husband), and delivered twins she carried at the same time – one from her husband, and the other from the brother-in-law. Puranic literature shows many cases of women proposing to men they fell in love with, or have clandestine marriages [the story of Shakuntala], and being recognized as founders of prestigious lineages. Brahma’s unmarried daughter Saraswati declares that she would like to go and “live” with the Gandharvas because they know how to “please” women and she is not prevented from doing so.

The two famous epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata are much lambasted by western and Indian scholars as epitomizing patriarchal attitudes and repression. The central story of Ramayana revolves around the destruction of a whole city and a king because he abducted the wife of another. But the same story also told how an “adultress” could still “come back to life” and be taken back into society (Ahalya), and how it was okay for a wife to sit through the murder of her husband to marry the brother of her husband, whom she loved and served loyally (Tara). A key feature of the Mahabharata is however that a woman could practice polyandry – with the lead characters of the five-brothers sharing one significant wife. What is not mentioned is that Mahabharata shows the prevalence of swayamvara – the open and public choice of husbands by eligible girls, and of warrior women who go and fight alongside their husbands or even without husbands.  At least two women, Satyabhama, the wife of Krishna, and Chitrangada, the wife of Arjuna – are described as having actually taken to the battlefield – with their partners/lovers/husbands.

A primary cause of the core story of the Mahabhrata war is given to be the molestation of the wife of the five-brothers in public space. Thus molestation of women was seen to be worthy of terrible retribution. In fact in a little highlighted passage, Krishna explains the reason as to why the brothers who were reluctant to shed the blood of their kin, should actually take up arms – because if their elite-status wife could be so molested, what about the protection of women in general society? They should fight the war to re-establish “dharma” which among many other things, was also supposed to ensure freedom and dignity for women. With one exception, all abduction of women, in Mahabharata is punished – one way or the other – even in a society that recognized certain types of “abduction” if ended with “honourable” marriages. Bhisma, abducts Kasi princesses to give in marriage to his nephews (by the custom of his times he had a right to be angry because his nephews had not been invited to the sayambhara of the girls), but is punished for not marrying them – even if he  did not rape or molest them – by having to die at the hands of a transgender enemy. The Kurus are destroyed horribly because their leader molested a wife.

Interestingly, women were abadhya/aghnaya – or could not be killed, even in war-situations. A commander of one side, Bhisma, drops his weapons when faced with a transgender  opponent- whom he considers a woman, and allows himself to be fatally wounded to maintain this principle of conduct of war.

Sounds oh so Brahminical and patriarchal and repressive towards women, sexuality and the female body?

Indian regimes and historians often portray the advent of Buddhism as a “liberating” and “reforming” movement that “cleansed” Indian post-Vedic society from the “evils of Brahminism”, and try to shift all blame to the Vedic as being repressive towards “caste” and “women”. I have great respects for the Buddhists, but I am intrigued by very curious features of early and later Buddhism, that go against the propaganda.

First, early Buddhist literature show two things not shared in general by the Vedic – the gradation of human work as “uttama” (good/higher) and “adhama”(evil/lower) based, presumably on whether the work involved violence or not, and the emphasis given in Buddhism to the connection between “uttama/adhama” karma to reincarnation in a better future life or lesser punishment in such future existence. This would give an early pointer as to how  and why categories of work connected to animal husbandry or butchery, or tanning would become later “untouchable”. Buddha and his disciples seem to be over-aware of “superiority” of caste. If one tries to read up the extant early Buddhist literature, one can see “Brahmana” and “Sramana”(the term reserved for Buddhist aspirants and initiates) used equivalently. Moreover the Buddha is reluctant to be born in any other caste that “Kshatryia”or “Brahmin” in his next incarnation as Maitreya – because those are the “empowered” categories of society. So even the early Buddhists did not think their movement would abolish castes and hierarchies.

The more important feature relevant for our current discussion is the attitude towards women, women’s bodies and their dress and public behaviour. Many Vinayas and early texts portray women who freely move around in public in a disparaging tone, hinting at “low moral character”. Significantly the Buddha is claimed to have been reluctant in the early days to allow women to become members of his cloister or become nuns. After a lot of appeal from the women, he is supposed to have allowed them to join on condition that they follow certain restrictions on conduct in addition to those applicable for monks. Most interestingly these conditions pay a great deal of attention as to how the female body of the nun is to be “covered up” and require the nuns to be always under the authority of a male monk.

Bhikṣunīvibhaṅga, says that a bhikṣunī “should not show her nakedness when bathing. She is advised to either bathe in a screened-off area or to wear a bathing cloth”. Also another must-wear is kaṇṭhapraticchādana, “a robe that covers the rounding (of the breasts)”.  All the Vinaya texts devote a lot of space to discussing the exact forms of coverage of different parts of the nun’s body – all adding at least two more items of covering-dress over and above the three reserved for monks.

The important thing to note here is that the nuns are segregated cloistered members of the movement, and their covering up in public is insisted upon as “setting an example” to “society” on exemplary “moral conduct”. This in turn implies that their covering up was not needed within a segregated cloister, and the  general public was less concerned about covering up – so much so that the nuns had to be sent out to set an example.

But let us see what the non-Buddhists – before the advent of the Buddhists, were doing about women. Vandhul Malla, and his wife, a couple of martial arts experts and warriors, trained Visakha, the daughter of prosperous merchants, in warfare, chariot driving, weapons and “wrestling”. This daughter of merchants, married another merchant, set up her own household away from the extended family of her husbands, and ran her own business over and above that of her husband’s. This was the lady who was very much in public life, and with many other similar independent, business or otherwise productively engaged women – who were instrumental in promoting the early Buddhist “church”. They were not Buddhists, or the society that produced them were not Buddhists.

Chinese pilgrims visiting India from the middle of the 4th to the 8th century, similarly speak of the general freedom of movement of women, and the general law-abiding nature of citizens, with not much mention of crimes against women. This is the period when Buddhism was supposed to be in retreat, under huge repression from revivalist “Brahminism”.

Many of the women activists on Indian TV have referred to how “suttee” was stamped out by colonial regimes, as a model of how to deal with “patriarchal repressive traditions”. Interestingly, even as late as the first successful Muslim raid on Sindh portion of India in 712, as per the version of Islamic chroniclers whose claims on Indian society are claimed by professional historians to be “accurate” if they show non-Muslim society in any negative light (but “exaggeration” and “boasting”  or “fanciful” if it shows Islam in negative light) – the mother of the reigning king, wife of Chach, had actually helped in the assassination of the previous king and her previous husband – because she had fallen in love with a visiting handsome young Brahmin to her husband’s court – Chach.

Note that a wife could remove her husband from power, marry her lover, without facing social hue and cry and opposition, and without being forced to commit “suttee”. She was a “Rajput” to boot too.

But with the advent of Muslims, Indian society goes quickly downhill. Rape, abduction, public humiliation and sale of captive women become the norm. Girls and women are no longer safe in the public domain, and educational or professional space is closed off for women. The extremely misogynist, and sexually commodifying memes in Islam and Sharia take over the definition of Indian womanhood. The incidence of jauhar or “suttee”, self-immolation by widows on the funeral pyre of their husbands or on separate pyres, begin to be frequently mentioned only from the advent of Islamic armies. The label of “suttee” and widow-burning however stuck to the Hindu forever.

In my “how Islam came to India” series, I have shown how Qasim’s successful raid (three previous ones had failed) had as one of its primary objectives (apart from making good the war chest) the capture and enslavement of Indian women. Thousands of Sindhi women were captured, inspected in the public like cattle, enslaved and given as rewards to jihadis or reserved for the Baghdad markets and for the private pleasure of the pious leaders of Islam around their Gulf dens. The Islamic attitude that entered India at this stage can be estimated from the Islamist side story that – Qasim was executed with typical Islamic barbarity (by being stitched within raw animal hide, and then nails driven into the bundle – the rawhide would dry up and strangulate him also at the same time). His crime : the two Sindhi princesses he had sent for the pious head of Islam – the Caliph’s personal pleasures – were found no longer to be “virgins” in the bed by the pious Caliph. Whether the girls themselves tore their hymen and accused Qasim of “rape” – as told in some versions of the story, or their hymen tore because of some other causes – the fact comes out that these enslaved girls were vulnerable to rape during transport and sale.

All those crying hoarse about “Indian” traditions, should take note of the explanatory note given as the speech by the princesses – to the effect that they warn the Caliph about not “trusting mere women” on accusations of “rape”, and that the Caliph should not have taken their word for it. This single story gives out the entire mindset of Islam that imposed itself on India.  A girl crying rape was not to be believed easily against a man’s claim of innocence. Women are manipulative and they cry rape by tearing their own hymen. The status of a woman is that of “merely a woman/slave” and hence her words did not matter. And most significantly, where the “virginity” of the woman did not matter to the repressive culture “brahmin” Chach who married a widow and happily produced children with her – in the same period – the supreme leader of Islam has his goats shaken by discovering that his captive and enslaved bed-fellow was not a “virgin”.

How did women began to become a “problem” for Hindu households? In my post on “peaceful Sufis”, I have given the details on how the famous Sufi founder of Ajmer Sahrif obtained his wife. He “dreamed” that his prophet visited him and chastised him for not “keeping sunna” (not having a wife) and promptly the local Islamic commander arranged for a regional chief’s daughter to be captured and given to him that very “night”. The Sylheti “mouthpiece of peace” from Yemen, Shah Jalal – took up swords against the local non-Muslim ruler, whose daughter Anandi “promptly fell in love with this paragon of peace with a sword in hand on the battle field itself” (what was the girl doing there?), and was “immediately” “converted” and was married on the “battlefield”.

Shams Siraj Afif (fourteenth century) write “Firoz Shah was born in the year 709 H. (1309 C.E.). His father was named Sipahsalar Rajjab, who was a brother of Sultan Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq Ghazi. The three brothers, Tughlaq, Rajjab, and Abu Bakr, came from Khurasan to Delhi in the reign of Alauddin (Khalji), and that monarch took all the three in the service of the Court. The Sultan conferred upon Tughlaq the country of Dipalpur. Tughlaq was desirous that his brother Sipahsalar Rajjab should obtain in marriage the daughter of one of the Rais of Dipalpur. He was informed that the daughters of Ranamall Bhatti were very beautiful and accomplished. Tughlaq sent to Ranamall a proposal of marriage. Ranamall refused. Upon this Tughlaq proceeded to the villages (talwandi) belonging to Ranamall and demanded payment of the whole year’s revenue in a lump sum. The Muqaddams and Chaudharis were subjected to coercion. Ranamall’s people were helpless and could do nothing, for those were the days of Alauddin, and no one dared to make an outcry. One damsel was brought to Dipalpur. Before her marriage she was called Bibi Naila. On entering the house of Sipahsalar Rajjab she was styled Sultan Bibi Kadbanu. After the lapse of a few years she gave birth to Firoz shah“. If this could be accomplished by force by a regional officer, there was nothing to stop the king. In the seventeenth century, Jahangir writes in his Memoirs that after the third year of his accession, “I demanded in marriage the daughter of Jagat Singh, eldest son of Raja Man Singh (of Amer). Raja Ram Chandra Bundela was defeated, imprisoned, and subsequently released by Jahangir. Later on, says Jahangir, “I took the daughter of Ram Chandra Bandilah into my service (i.e. married her)”.

Ibn Battuta who visited India during Muhammad bin Tughlaq’s reign and stayed at the Court for a long time writes:  “At (one) time there arrived in Delhi some female infidel captives, ten of whom the Vazir sent to me. I gave one of them to the man who had brought them to me. My companion took three girls, and – I do not know what happened to the rest.” On the large scale distribution of girl slaves on the occasion of Muslim festivals like Id, he writes: “First of all, daughters of Kafir (Hindu) Rajas captured during the course of the year, come and sing and dance. Thereafter they are bestowed upon Amirs and important foreigners. After this daughters of other Kafirs dance and sing. The Sultan gives them to his brothers, relatives, sons of Maliks etc. On the second day the durbar is held in a similar fashion after Asr. Female singers are brought out. the Sultan distributes them among the Mameluke Amirs”. Thousands of non-Muslim women were distributed in the above manner in later years.

The few incidents I quoted above, are just a few among thousands of such narratives – described with pride and glee by Islamic chroniclers.  Wherever Muslims arrive for the first time in India, their chronicles show extreme surprise at the openness of Indian/Hindu womens’ public presence, their lack of “proper covering” (proper in the Islamic head-to-toe sense), and their relative freedom in society. The father of the doyen of Indian secularism – Hyder Ali, father of Tipu – is described in Nishan-i-Hyduri to have enslaved Coorgi women when he attacked Coorg – for their heinous crime of walking about bare-breasted or short dresses.

Thus it became a norm for Indian society – to be anxious and unhappy at the birth of the girl child, because the girl child brought rape, raid, and destruction of families, livelihoods, and entire communities. The girl child had to be married off early, hidden from the eager glances of every local muslim who felt it was his divine right to appropriate the beautiful of the kaffir for rape or other pleasures , and therefore not to be educated, not to be given skills to run businesses or professions, and closeted out of sunlight. Hidden away from the public place – so that even her existence did not come under the notice of Islamic hunters for female flesh.

Society takes a long time to come out of what had become a rationalization of impotence – especially if it had to be tolerated for more than a thousand years.

Indian culture is not about the violently misogynist memes of the Middle East, and Indians should not feel ashamed of their true culture – which was far different from the Islamic hybrid it is now pushed as for. It is a case of mistaken identities.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 7 so far )

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...