MasterwebNews 3/10/16: Retribution by Jihad in the Indian Subcontinent-- Utilitarianism, Christianity, Empire

 [ Masterweb Reports: Dr Kusum Gopal reports ] - Although it is almost seventy years since the last Partition of the Subcontinent disquieting chasms remain on account of the partial knowledge not just of the Partition, but in the recognition of the activities of important participants, of communities, of belief systems in the struggles for Independence. In this informative composition, Tariq Hasan, a journalist seeks to correct palpable lapses in historiography, of present academic scholarship highlighting several critical omissions seeking as he does to redress the transmission of fabricated interpretations: his, is an indispensable endeavour and necessitates discussion. Whether it is the mediocrity of the prolific Whig/Utilitarian publications, inheritors of the colonial mantle, or, scholarship by the nationalists or, at the other end of the spectrum, contributions by liberal or left-wing historians, Mr. Hasan argues that the critical role of the Ulema in the anti- British movements spanning over three centuries has simply not been appreciated. Thus, reflecting the appalling abyss in documentation of scholarship of our past which has only served to reinforce and consolidate the transmission of incomplete truths built on pernicious understandings. Indeed, acknowledging authoritative participation by influential Muslim scholars and thinkers in the struggles for Independence will provide much deeper appreciation of the all-inclusive opposition to British rule for over three centuries. Further, in Mr. Hasan account is the implicit recognition of the detrimental colonial legacy -- stranglehold of bureaucratic authoritarianism that remains present in the civil services as colonial infrastructure draw upon pervasive patron-client relations; such personalistic, opportunistic networks remain fundamental to state-society linkages penetrating institutions of civil society and liberal democracy, undermining programmes of socio-economic and political reform.

 

Utilitarianism and Empire

 

Mr Hasan perceptively re-affirms that it was John Stuart Mill and his merry band of English liberals which included Macaulay, Curzon and British administrators who laid the foundations of the two nation theory by dividing the history of the Subcontinent into the Hindu and Muslim periods – thus, instituting an official separation of the two communities as a natural outcome of history regardless of the centuries of entwined affability’s, of collective narratives resulting from the ebullient syncreticism – making obligatory such standardisation accompanied as they were by racial/ethnic markers: Hindus and Muslims were to be marked (and maintained) as two separate communities firmly opposed to each other from time immemorial.


 

Utilitarianism refers to "the Greatest Happiness Principle" -- it seeks to promote the capability of achieving happiness (higher pleasures) for the most amount of people (this is its "extent"), benign paternalism or Pax Brittanica. Interestingly, in The Twilight of the Idols, Nietzsche attacks Utilitarianism, "on account of its harmful consequences for the exemplary human being." He noted,”These historians of morality (mostly Englishman) do not amount to much.... they claimed the consensus of the nations, at least of the tame nations...and then they infer from this that these principles must be unconditionally binding also for you and me....Ultimately they all want English morality to prevail: inasmuch as mankind, or "the general utility," or "the happiness of the greatest number".... No! How the happiness of England would best be served; they would like with all their might to prove to themselves that to strive after English happiness, I mean after comfort and fashion.... indeed that all virtue there has ever been on earth has consisted in just such a striving...”


 

What Mr. Hasan’s narrative makes explicit is how Utilitarian philosophy seeks to separate, inventing distinctions to produce a dichotomous’ ideal type’, a facet which remains unacknowledged by historians/ social scientist theorists of the Indian Subcontinent. Indeed, these persistent dichotomies generated conceptualized the basic social differences separating East and West in terms of social "stationariness," from which was conceived the concept of "oriental despotism,". That Asian and non European societies were primitive, a stagnant social entity, without history or imagination had been pivotal in European political thought for centuries and such thinking was to used to justify British Imperialism. For instance, over the next two centuries, colonial administrators’ settlement reports, gazetteers, royal commissions affirm what James and John Stuart Mill as examiners in the East India Company had fostered: an integral connection between Utilitarian social policies and the empire. Specifically in the Indian Subcontinent, it was highly formative in establishing not just the colonial commercial aspects of administration, closing down of cottage industries, introducing zamindari systems, alienation of land from people, encouraging cash crops such as opium and sugarcane at the expense of food crops-- but also of education, fixing of caste, hierarchical classifications of people, indeed, of polity. The colonies provided a social laboratory in which rational principles of Utility, homo economicus could be applied and tested through as Scott has pointed out the ‘colonisation of the conscience’. ...”. Certainly, the imposition of the Black Letter Law dismembered heimat, separating people by creating differences, making obligatory such standardisations through two centuries of oppressive institutional regulations.


 

The Call for Jihad against Christian Evangelicalism


 

Hasan enlightens us of the eminent, influential theologians whose phenomenal contributions pioneered pathways in anti-colonial agitations laying the foundations for the 1857 Mutiny, of fatwas, several decades before the formation of the Indian National Congress. He focuses on seven influential figures (albeit there were many more), weaving their histories: the mystic Sufi revolutionary, Sayyid Ahmad Barelwi, Maulvi Ahmadullah Shah, Maulana Mahoodul Hasan, Maulana Obaidullah Sindhi, Maulvi Barkatullah Khan, Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madani as indeed, Raja Mahendra Pratap of Musan.


 

To begin with, in the Indian Subcontinent upon the foundations of Hanafi Islam for millennia, there remain powerful Sufi mystical traditions adhering to the Sunna and the Hadith. Mainly, they were Naqshbandi, Qadiriyah, Chistiyah,Suharwadiya tariqats marked by acceptance of religious eclecticism and bidat. They were strongly opposed to the Wahabbi philosophy in intent and in content. It was the Walliulahi movement inspired by Shah Walliullah grounded in mystical thinking advocating ijtihad and innovation in the spirit of the hadith which

 
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