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By Sufiya Pathan

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Moreover, it is profoundly illogical. First, by attributing present-day values to peoples of the past, it reads history backward. Before their contact with Muslims, India’s lower castes are thought to have possessed, almost as though familiar with the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau or Thomas Jefferson, some innate notion of the fundamental equality of all humankind denied them by an oppressive Brahmanic tyranny. In fact, however, in thinking about Islam in relation to Indian religions, premodern Muslim intellectuals did not stress their religion’s ideal of social equality as opposed to Hindu inequality, but rather Islamic monotheism as opposed to Hindu polytheism” (Eaton 2000a: 117 emphasis added).

31 See for instance Communal Road to a Secular Kerala by George Mathew (1989). 32 For instance, Khushwant Singh and Bipan Chandra call for a mass educational programme against communalism, that will make people realise they are essentially “secular and healthy” and that communal attitudes do not go with their “personality and ideology” (Singh and Chandra 1985: 62). 33 Amartya Sen in ‘The Threats to a Secular India’ (1993). 28 time. It is a phenomenon peculiar to India34 or one that is particularly visible in a variety of forms and goes by a variety of names from ethnic violence to ‘tribalism’ in South Asia35.

Such perversions of our history are designed to create a contempt for our past, a feeling of abject impotence, and an atmosphere of unshakeable inferiority. Here we are concerned with the Hindu-Muslim problem, and we feel constrained to say that nowhere the design to demoralize and denationalize us through historical perversions is more pointedly and more extensively used than in the treatment of the Muslim period. The example in this respect has been set by great but interested and prejudiced English historians, and it is being followed by others unconsciously or consciously from a variety of motives.

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A Historical and Theoretical Investigation into 'Communalism' by Sufiya Pathan

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