Thursday, 5 December 2013

Faisal Devji's foolish 'Muslim Zion'

Prof. Devji is at it again. In his latest book, about Pakistan, he says
Why is this silly?
Well, European Jews had been persecuted for hundreds of years. But even Jews living in other parts of the world, who had never been persecuted, nourished the hope of returning to their holy land. Why? It was part of their religion.
By contrast, though some Muslim immigrants to the sub-continent retained a scruple regarding accepting land-grants as opposed to money payment because it was sinful to settle in a country that might be considered dar-ul-harb in that it was not fully Islamicized;, this scruple fell into abeyance in the second or third generation. Indeed, the Indian Muslim came to identify strongly with the region in which he had settled. Pious people might wish to retire to Mecca or Najaf and be buried in that holy soil but there was never any notion, prior to the ill fated 1920 Hijrat to Afghanistan, of a mass exodus. How could there be? Muslims were never ejected from their Holy Land. They had an obligation to return there but only as pilgrims- not as settlers.
What about Devji's assertion that 'the emergence of national minorities' in Nineteenth Century India turned Muslims there into a minority? How can the emergence of a thing result in bringing that very same thing about?
Fuck if I know. But then I don't teach History at Oxford.


  1. The word 'precedent' means- 'an earlier event or action that is regarded as an example or guide to be considered in subsequent similar circumstances'.
    The partition of Ireland was a precedent for the separation of Burma from the Indian Empire and also for the partition of both India and Pakistan. Palestine however was never part of the British Empire. It was a Mandated territory under the League of Nations. Thus there is no question of some precedent operating in this context.
    Furthermore, few Muslims who supported the Pakistan Resolution believed that this would mean 'migration to a new country'. They imagined that Pakistan would consist of a string of Muslim majority or if not majority then Muslim ruled States- including Bhopal and Hyderabad and so on.
    There is no Pakistani 'Zionism' involving reclaiming desert land and founding new settlements- instead there was ethnic cleansing of non-Muslims- a process which continues to this day.

    1. I suppose the precedent for the division of the Palestine Mandate was the French division of Lebanon so as to create a Christian majority, or if not majority, then Christian dominated area.
      By contrast, the British didn't do much for the Assyrian Christians in Iraq despite the latter's loyalty to them.