Famous writer and historian, Sita Ram Goel, in his famous collection of articles titled ‘Freedom of Expression’ wrote, “While Hindus were harangued, even forced, to swear by and practise sarva-dharma-samabhava vis-a-vis Islam, Christianity, neo-Sikhism, neo-Buddhism, and neo-Jainism, followers of the latter creeds were left free not only to propagate their pet dogmas but also to attack Hinduism and proselytize Hindus.” Almost two and half decades after its publication, with Islamic violence in the name of blasphemy reaching a devastating scale around the world, the practice of Sarva-Dharma-Samabhavana remains a one-sided affair in India and the Hindus continue to be at the receiving end.
In an article titled ‘Islam Imposes an Emergency on India’, which was written for a periodical published from Washington by a group of Indian residents in the U.S.A. but was not sent because the periodical closed down, he observes how Islam has imposed an emergency on India. “Islam has imposed an Emergency on India, so that everyone has the perfect “liberty” to praise its Allah, its prophet, its scriptures, its history, and its heroes but gets into trouble if he so much as says that Islam should answer some questions,” he analysed.
The article written several decades ago, offers a great insight into the double standards of Indian intelligentsia and many valuable lessons which apply even today. Here are key takeaways from his article which are compiled against the backdrop of the new Emergency declared by Islamists on India:
1. The Indian intelligentsia, by and large, is very well aware of what Emergency means. It had a firsthand experience during 1975-77 when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi extended to everyone the fullest “freedom” to extol her, but put in jail all those who asked inconvenient questions about her doings. If any member of this intelligentsia is asked what he thinks of that Emergency, the answer is always a loud disapproval. But the same intelligentsia is not even aware that Islam has imposed an Emergency on India, so that everyone has the perfect “liberty” to praise its Allah, its prophet, its scriptures, its history, and its heroes but gets into trouble if he so much as says that Islam should answer some questions.
2. Muslims have a popular saying: ba khuda diwana bash o ba Muhammad hoshiyar (have fun about Allah but be careful when it comes to Muhammad). This seems to be a very apt warning because in the belief system that is Islam, Allah has been replaced by his prophet. One cannot be a Muslim merely by believing in Allah as the only God; one has to believe in Muhammad also as the Last Prophet. In fact Allah is not and cannot be known or even approached except through Muhammad. Allah has spoken through Muhammad in the Quran and acted through him in the Hadis.
3. The trouble arises when persons other than pious Muslims examine the life stories (of Muhammad). There is a lot in them which offends man’s normal moral sense and natural reason. But Islam does not permit anyone to probe that part of the Prophet’s life. The Prophet himself had pronounced and carried out death penalty for all those who asked inconvenient questions about his person and mission. That became a permanent prescription for all Muslims.
4. There were many incidents in medieval Indian history when Hindus were put to death for making critical remarks about the Prophet. One of these Hindus was a schoolboy who got provoked by remarks which one of his Muslim classmates had made about Hinduism, and said something derogatory about the Prophet. He was put to death. Many such stories in medieval times must have remained unrecorded.
5. The movement led by the Indian National Congress made its own characteristic contribution to Muslim self righteousness. In the hope of winning the Muslims over to the nationalist platform, Congress leaders frowned upon all criticism of Islam and the Muslim rule in medieval India. Till the turn of the nineteenth century, Hindus by and large had never accepted Islam as a religion or Muslim rule as a native dispensation. The Congress leadership whitewashed both and, by means of sustained propaganda, made them acceptable to the Hindu intelligentsia.
6. The Communists who appeared on the scene in the twenties went much further. They glorified Islam as a message of social equality and human brotherhood, while they denigrated Hinduism as a system based on class exploitation and caste oppression. M.N. Roy wrote a book, Role of Islam in History, in 1939 in which he hailed the advent of Islam in India as a liberating force. Islam, he said, had come to complete the social revolution which Buddhism had left unfinished but, like Buddhism, was frustrated by ‘reactionary’ Brahminism.
7. What is relevant here is that Islam continued to gain the lustre which Hinduism was losing fast. In due course, it became a crime called ‘communalism’ to say anything except laudatory about Islam. The Quran and the Prophet were winning fulsome praise on every public platform. The slogan of sarva-dharma-samabhava was becoming the national consensus. It never meant that Hinduism could not be criticized, even maligned and ridiculed. What it meant was that everyone was free to praise Islam as much as he pleased.
8. The Emergency which Islam had imposed after its advent in India and which had caused resentment among Hindus for a long time, now stood fully sanctioned by the Hindu elite. All religions were equal. But Islam was more equal. Small wonder that Muslims acquired an unpre-cedented sense of self – righteousness; they had scored a triumph which their sword had failed to win for them in more than a thousand years.
9. Ram Swarup’s Understanding Islam Through Hadis was published in the U.S.A. in 1982 and reprinted by Voice of India, New Delhi, in 1983 from plates of the original edition. It is a summary, chapter by chapter, of Sahih Muslim, the second most sacred collection of Hadis. It was examined by the Delhi Administration and found unobjectionable. (However) A Muslim neighbour had read the translation and collected a mob which threatened to bum down the binder’s establishment. The police intervened, took away all the two thousand copies of the book, and arrested the binder. The publisher, Sita Ram Goel, was arrested the same day along with the printer. Meanwhile, Rediance, a Weekly published by the Jamaat-e-Islami from Delhi, had raised hell in its issue of 17-23 June, 1990. “Most portions of the book are concoctions and distortions as well as defamatory and derogatory to the Holy Prophet”, it wrote.
10. The average Muslim does not know what is written in his scriptures. He has the normal moral notions of his Hindu neighbours. The Muslim theologians and politicians exploit his ignorance and mobilize him on the streets by ascribing to “enemies of Islam” what is in fact contained in their own sacred books! Even if some one points out the source, he can be accused of quoting out of context!