Tufail Ahmad, who has gained prominence in the last couple of years due to his criticism of Jihad and Islamic terrorism, has been talking about ‘Abrahamic Hindutva’ lately. Although the definition of this term and its description wasn’t clear as he had restricted this term to conversations on Twitter, he has written an article in Firstpost elucidating what he means by the term, and why is it a threat to Indian civilization.
In this article, I’ll be critiquing his thesis of Abrahmic Hindutva in order to show that he has essentially created an imaginary issue and controversy.
The argument is not what the Vedas taught when they were created, but what set of ideas prevail currently in the minds of the people who describe themselves wrongly as Hindus. To understand this phenomenon, I described Abrahamic Hindutva as “Hinduism influenced by Islam” and as a concept underpinned by “Hindu theology.” I also noted that Abrahamic Hindutva denotes “a growing inability of Hindu youths to comprehend their Hindu identity as sufficient in itself – without a reference to Islam and Christianity.
Although Tufail mentions that Abrahamic Hindutva is Hinduism influenced by Islam, he fails to give evidence of which prominent Hindu sage or seer in the current time has given this doctrine of Hinduism influenced by Islam. When one ideology is influenced by other, one must give the evidence of its influence.
If he means that Hindus are adopting intolerant means of Muslims and that they are seeking parity with Christianity and Islam, he should mention it in such words. And in that case, the issue is more socio-political than theological. As in the case of Sanatan Dharma, there is clear demarcation between dharma and politics, and any bunch of political group advocating any doctrine will have no bearing on Hinduism. Yet, he uses the term “Hindu theology”.
Also, Tufail fails to give evidence of how these Hindu youths can’t comprehend without a reference to Islam and Christianity. Do these Hindu youths invoke Jesus and Muhammad while tracing their Hindu roots? I seriously doubt so.
He further writes:
Some people frown at the mention of “Hindu theology”, but the ideas currently prevailing in the minds of the cow vigilantes are of theological nature – even if not deriving from Hindu scriptures – and are identical to Islam’s blasphemy law. Muslims believe they must kill you if you insult Prophet Muhammad. Hindus similarly believe that they should kill you if you harm the cow. The theological views associated with Prophet Muhammad and the cow are identical and murderous.
When anyone uses the term “theology”, he needs to give the scriptural reference in order to be considered it under the domain of theology. Tufail can’t just insist on using the term despite knowing that it’s wrong. Which is why he tries to preempt the criticism by saying “some people frown”. They have every reason to!
The issue of cow vigilantes is economic in nature and seldom religious. Cow vigilantes only exist as cattle smugglers exist, and the collusion between authorities responsible for maintaining law and order and smugglers leave people with no other option than defending their private property, which carries immense value for them. On the other hand, the blasphemy laws of Islam are sanctioned by Islam.
Tufail doesn’t give any reference of any scripture of Hinduism advocating for murder of a beef eater. I hope he hasn’t fallen for wrong claims of ‘liberals’ who have earlier been caught inventing fake shlokas of Manusmriti to justify their own assumptions and agenda.
If we look at the evidence of his assertion, we find that Hindus don’t believe as he says because had that been the case, there would have been numerous murders happening across India everyday. So many people organised beef parties and have put up pictures on Facebook of them eating beef just to spite Hindus, how many have been killed? While Basirhat in Bengal was up in flames for one Facebook post, and there are so many such examples showcasing real Abrahamic traits, which Tufail wants to associate with Hindutva.
Furthermore, how many gau-rakshaks have claimed that they are attacking cow smugglers or beef eaters because shloka X from shastra Y says ‘kill all beef eaters’? While every Jihadi murdering a blasphemer or a kaafir can cite you which verse of Islam inspired him. Even Allama Iqbal praised one such murderer who killed a blasphemer. Here, gau-rakshaks are being condemned by one and all for indulging in violence.
Essentially, if Tufail must use “theology”, he must cite, using credible sources, a widely followed Hindu scripture that calls for murder of beef eaters. In absence of that, he is giving an imaginary theological basis of this conflict, which is largely economical and outcome of weak law and order.
Tufail further continues:
Much like jihadis’ argument that each Muslim must take up arms because there is no Caliphate to authorise jihad, Hindu youths too think that India is no Hindu rashtra and therefore a Hindu should take law in their own hands.
Read carefully. While Tufail presents a Jihadi’s argument (and that is a matter of record) he gets into the minds of Hindu youths and assumes what they must be thinking.
While his mind-reading abilities are admirable, he is being very unfair and dishonest. The motive and inspiration for waging Jihad is independent of whether a Caliphate exists or not. There are enough verses of Quran to motivate people. Furthermore, Tufail virtually equates the concept of a Caliphate with that of a Hindu rashtra, which is like comparing apples and oranges.
Sanatan Dharma being the predominant worldview and culture of India makes India a Hindu Rashtra but not a Hindu state. They don’t need to take arms for an entity which already exists. Tufail needs to differentiate between rashtra (nation) and rajya (state).
Even if we are to assume that Tufail loosely used the term and he meant a state where non-Hindus are relegated to second class citizens as one witnesses in Islamic nations, he needs to give examples of those Hindu youths who have apparently taken up arms to achieve it. I can’t find them anywhere except in imaginary reports of New York Times and Washington Post. If they exist, I want sedition charges applied against them, as armed rebellion against the state can’t be tolerated.
In next paragraphs, he goes on to define two types of Hindutva which aren’t relevant for my critique. However, I’m perplexed when he quotes Supreme Court’s comment on definition of Hindutva, for this term can be best understood by quoting Savarkar who had coined this term.
Tufail also writes that the definition of Hindutva by Supreme court fails to give the theological basis for cow vigilantes. It’s the backward reading of history in retrospective manner. This sentence evidently points out that he is seeking theological basis of something which isn’t connected with theology at all.
Quoting him again:
In this sense, Abrahamic Hindutva is a religious fundamentalism and a type of jihadism typical to Islam. In recent years, it has been seen that groups of Hindu youths have entered parks and shopping malls to prevent youths from celebrating the Valentine’s Day.
These lines perfectly reveal the fragile empirical foundation of his thesis and the false analogy which he has created.
Jihad, which has killed crores of people since the beginning of Islam is being equated with the acts of handful of idiots opposing Valentine’s Day.
This false equivalence would have been laughable, but it is tragic in the sense that Jihadists murdering kaafirs, confiscating their property, destroying their places of worship, and raping their women ceaselessly for last 1400 years are being compared with few youths protesting against a non-religious festival. Too much for logic!
In next few paragraphs, Tufail invokes the myth of Hindu terror created by Congress to malign Hindus, for substantiating his hypothesis of Abrahamic Hindutva. As the myth of Hindu terror has been debunked time and again, I’ll avoid myself from repetitions.
He accuses Abrahamic Hindus of carrying out the agenda of homogenization and to prove his hypothesis, he cites another manufactured issue which is Hindi imposition. The attempt of promotion of Hindi by central government which is in accordance of Official Languages Act of 1963 is characterized as an agenda of Abrahamic Hindutva! If promoting Hindi is Abrahamic Hindutva agenda then the Constituent Assembly of India can be called Abrahamic Hindus who had designated Hindi as official language of India.
The campaign of Ghar-Wapsi is portrayed as another aspects of Abrahamic Hindutva by Tufail, as Hinduism doesn’t give any room to conversion, and this is a departure from established practices. Although Tufail is correct in his assessment that Hinduism is not proselytizing in nature, it doesn’t forbid anyone from returning to its fold.
People who were converted by sword have all the rights to return to their native faith without any coercion. Founders of Vijayanagara empire, Harihar and Bukka Raya were converted into Islam forcibly when they were children but they returned to their old faith for building world’s most illustrious empire in that time period. They were guided by Madhavacharya. Will Tufail assert that Madhavacharya was also practicing Abrahamic Hindutva?
Further, Tufail tries to deconstruct the idea of Hindu identity by resorting to lies and distortions. For example, he says that the idea of Hindu identity is very recent and no king in the history had called himself Hindu before British rule, and that Hindavi Swaraj of Shivaji was based on the Hindavi movement created by Amir Khusro, essentially a linguistic movement.
Tufail is factually wrong here as Bukka Raya I of Vijayanagara empire called himself Hinduraya Suratrana in 14th century. Also, the idea of Hindavi Swaraj was based on the self-rule of Hindus, having no connection whatsoever with the term used by Amir Khusro.
Tufail then quotes Ram Jethmalani as following:
The word Hinduism did not exist before 1830″ and “There is no mention of the terms ‘Hindu’ or ‘Sanatana Dharma’ in the Vedas, Puranas or any other religious text prior to 1830 AD. Nor are they found in any inscription or in any record of foreign travellers to India before English rule. The term ‘Hindusthan’ was first used in the 12th century by Muhammad Ghori, who dubbed his new subjects ‘Hindus’.
While one can easily infer that Hinduism being a word ending with -ism suffix is English creation, nobody claims it otherwise. But when Jethmalani asserts that Sanatan Dharma doesn’t have any reference in any religious text, he is terribly wrong. Manusmriti does mention Dharma Sanatan and so does Bhagvatpuarana. Sanatan Dharma means the Dharma which is eternal.
The importance of term Dharma can be gauged from the fact that Yudhishthir says in Mahabharata that it’s the most difficult thing to define Dharma. Dharmashastras deliberate in significant details about Dharma, its attributes, its authority, its importance and other such things.
The term Hindu was originally used by Persians instead of using Sindhu. Bharatvarsh is known as Sapta Sindhu is Vedas. In the Indo-European languages, there is lot of references of words containing ‘s’ being pronounced as ‘h’ in Persian. So, Jethmalani is looking at the wrong place when he seeks to uncover the antiquity of the term Hindu by restricting his search to India only. When we look at use of term Hindu in Persia, the first such inscription is of King Darius I dating back to 6th century BC. Maybe, Tufail needs to brush up his history and also needs to quote authentic historians while dealing with history instead of quoting a lawyer.
When we examine the hypothesis of Abrahamic Hindutva propounded by Tufail holistically, we find that it’s the classical case of narrative fallacy and confirmation bias together.
Tufail has already assumed that something like Abrahmic Hindutva exists and forcibly fits some evidence from here and there in random manner to prove his hypothesis. This is what narrative fallacy does to anyone’s analysis. When Tufail has imbibed this narrative, he goes on to quote distorted facts, some unknown organizations, and sporadic incidents to confirm his hypothesis. That amounts to confirmation bias.
As Communists have created the narrative of distinction between Hinduism and Hindutva, Tufail has done the same to create the distinction between Hindutva and Abrahamic Hindutva.
As of now, Abrahamic Hindutva exists in Tufail’s imagination, and it has to be quarantined there if Hindus have to survive this narrative war, which was inflicted upon them by the British and furthered by the cheerleaders of the Raj.