I encountered a hilarious article on my facebook feed, which was so pointless, I could hardly believe it found space in print. But then again, it was Daily Mail.
Nevertheless, it is blurted out of a columnist attempting to propagate one of the greatest fallacies in the popular secular-liberal, but not-so-secular-liberal viewpoint. The fallacy being that Persianization of an already Persianized Urdu culture is something secular and that Arabianization of it could threaten its secularism. When it can be safely said that there is hardly any difference linguistically as long as you are looking at the secular aspects, unless it is a choice of aesthetics.
This brings you to the contentious Ramadan Kareem greeting, Ramadan being the more widely recognized transliteration of the fasting month, known in the Indian sub-continent as Ramzan. As the Arabic “dwaad” is pronounded as “zwaad” in Persian and Urdu, which sadly makes Ramadan technically correct if you are speaking Arabic.
It is indeed a borrowed novelty for the natives of the sub-continent which is widely used in English and Arabic media outside Pakistan, qualifying it to be immediately considered a threat to the “Persian” roots of our Urdu speaking population in the sub-continent. As for the myriad of other happily adopted novelties, well let us choose to ignore at the moment.
This is kind of hilarious because it is the educated English speaking urban population which uses it anyway instead of the more religious and conservative circles. Therefore, those adopting the rather alien greeting immediately become a target for ridicule. Ridiculed for adopting something foreign to their usual culture, mind you.
However, the joke is also on the people making fun of it in the first place because their complain is one about Arabian and especially Saudi imperialism and its adverse effects on the sub-continent culture. This is so as apparently, they are perfectly fine with the Persian and Western imperialist influences. So apparently, it is a political matter rather than merely linguistic and semantic. And of course it is also about which cultural invasions you open your arms to and accept.
Are we not supposed to be Indians when we are threatened by the ills of the foreign culture and become defensive of our own? So when Muhammad Bin Qasim’s invasion of Sindh is condemned, it would only make sense to hold the Delhi Sultanate invaders, the Afghan and Persian raiders and the Central Asian Turkic Moguls in contempt as well. Likewise, it would also make sense to have little respect for the oppressive Muslim nobles and their culture and language. Why embrace their culture when rejecting that of another?
I understand most of our liberals’ racism against anything and everything Arabic. Its closest analogy is the hatred of Muslim population of Jews for political reasons concerning Israel, as Saudi Arabia is the primary source of this emotion. And there are number of reasons to hate Saudi Arabia, such as their brand of the destructively extremist Wahabi Islam and its malicious infiltration in India, as well as the alleged funding of the Taliban and the alarmingly growing anti-Shia terrorism. All valid reasons.
Perhaps, it is a Sunni-Shia thing after all. And I do share their frustrations about the growing religiosity, which only means violent trouble in Pakistan’s case, but the sort of proposals that are put forth in the article, and are widely endorsed among our enlightened crowd, are simply stupid to an audience which has already not committed to condemn or root for any one side for whatever reasons. To me as an Indian, both Saudi and Persian cultures, are foreign. However, I do not find a reason to hate either of them, except for their equally oppressive political regimes.
What is so good about Persian, Turkish, or Urdu even, I would go on to say, while acknowledging the rejection of Arabic? Urdu being the language developed in the times of the Persian speaking Mogul emperors, heavily borrowing from Persian and Turkish. Is racism of the more enlightened members of our society only reserved for Arabs?
But while I could consider their objections on Arabs (how cruelly and unjustly synonymized with Saudi Arabian) pretty valid, I’d have equal contempt for our Persian and Turkish invaders, and therefore, their culture. Personally I don’t have problem with any one of them though. But it is not about individuals, right?
And what in the world is so secular about “Khuda Hafiz”? Even when the greeting does not involve the Muslim Allah, as your fanatic conservative Muslim would insist on including anyway, it still involves some sort of God. That is not secular last time I checked what secular things are supposed to be. While using the word reason here is an insult to its very spirit, but all of this really shows some twisted reasoning.
But here is the real problem which many native Indian Muslims, who are proud of their motherland culture, forget. Why are they following an imperialistic, oppressive Arabian religion, if they were not to take its cultural dictation? I say this because Islam precisely requires you to do so, at least if you are practicing and religious. It is not just a religion, it requires you to change your lifestyle with a variety of soft and hard threats. It requires you to become a pseudo-Arab.
But of course there are things we still could have amended over the centuries, especially the more “secular” of rulers in Indian history. Why do we offer the namaz, oh wait, salah in Arabic? Even the most devout of Christians in the American South say their prayers in English. Surely. we could have at least done this much. Ideally speaking, had we not accepted Hinduism as our religious heritage, we should have at least come up with our own version of Islam. Oh wait, we have. That branch of Islam is a condemned cult now. Good effort though.
Let’s admit. Indian Muslims, yes especially the secular Pakistani ones, are culturally and even intellectually bankrupt. And it is nothing more than their cultural bankruptcy and badly confused identity, which makes them propagate these absurdities and to end up looking ridiculous. No matter how politically enlightened and self-sufficient they appear to be, they have hardly anything to call their own.
Let it be their faith, their language, whatever ideology they claim to follow, their high claims of ancestry or hilariously even their names. Many of the folks would actually go to great lengths to find a genetic connection outside the sub-continent, especially when it coincides with the Prophet’s lineage. They have a history of worshiping foreign cultures. What a painful identity crisis.
I have much greater respect for the Hindus who at least pray to their own deities in their own language, despite their tendency of worshiping anyone from outside India too, and who name their children after the adjectives in Ramayana, Vedas and Gita instead of some Arabian book, or after some Persian or Turkic warlord.
The complains of cultural insecurity by our enlightened are not only conceding they have an inferior culture, but also makes them look like the very people they criticize. They remind me of the insecure Pakistani conservatives who would complain of cultural invasions from India and other foreign cultures corrupting their society. Honestly, I hardly see any difference between the two. Both idiots of the highest order.
You know, I would like to propose to the religious-conservatives, the secular-conservatives, the religious-liberals and the secular-liberals among the Muslims of India a better option. Drop all the Arabian and Persian and Sunni and Shia crap, and adopt English as their language of choice. At least, it is completely secular in the context of regional history and has no sectarian politics associated with it.
Considering that the British and the Americans have been and still are our most recent and current masters, let us free ourselves of these hassles by adopting a language which is recognized the world over. And while there is no harm in making fun of each other’s accents, coming up with new dialects is a great way of celebrating diversity. Down with Arabianization and Persianization, let us Anglicize our culture.
Ramzan Mubarak or Ramadan Kareem, the sub continent is not under the threat of Arabic cultural invasion. It is merely under the threat of the cultural and intellectual bankruptcy of Indian Muslims. As it has always been.
And by Indians, I mean the natives of the sub-continent, especially Pakistanis, the self-hating Indians.
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