Does Hindutva promote hate-or Islam?

Assessing Divya Reddy’s essay on Shashi Tharoor in the book ‘Ten Heads of Ravana.’

Rajiv Malhotra, who has long been sailing steadfastly against the comfortable leftist groupthink of our putative intellectual class, has now mentored a team who has aimed at the works of 10 most prominent Left-oriented contemporary historians and scholars of ancient India with a collection of essays critiquing them in ‘Ten Heads of Ravana’edited by him along with Divya Reddy.  

One among the ten is Shashi Tharoor, whose work is meticulously examined and found wanting by Divya Reddy, who faults his brand of ‘anything goes Hinduism’ and exposes his hatred for Hindutva. I would like to add further to Divya Reddy’s rebuttal in the ‘Ten Heads of Ravana.’

Among Tharoor’s numerous books assessed in the essay is his ‘Why I am a Hindu’ in which he accuses the followers of Hindutva as ‘purveyors of hatred.’  Implied in this accusation is that Islam (or Islamism) is innocent of this charge.

As this is a grave and standard charge of the ‘secular parties’ in India against Hindutva, at the outset, I unequivocally condemn all hatred and criminal acts against Muslims when committed by Hindus and call for them to be held accountable to the full extent of the law. Naturally, I also believe that the same standard needs to be applied when the roles are reversed.

But nevertheless the charge raises the question: is it true that Hindutva purveys hate?

Since Indian history is contested, which Dr. Tharoor calls ‘ground zero,’ the only valid methodological response is to quit India and examine if we can learn anything from how Islam has acted outside India. After all, there is only one Islam with one doctrine.  According to Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, ‘The word Islam is uninflected, it is only Islam.’ when he disagreed with the concept of a ‘moderate Islam’ as it implied its logical opposite: ‘immoderate Islam.’  Consequently, by observing Islam’s actions outside India, we are better positioned to reach objective conclusions about it at home.  

The United Nations (UN) states that criticism of the ideas of Islam is not Islamophobia.

As discussions about Islam are a fraught subject, it is pertinent that Ahmed Shaheed, (a Muslim), a former foreign minister of the Maldives and the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, stated before the UN Human Rights Council that ‘criticism of the ideas, leaders, symbols or practices of Islam’ is not in itself Islamophobia, and that “international human rights law protects individuals, not religions.”3

Keeping this in mind, let’s examine what light Muslim sources and UN documents throw on the subject.  

An Islamic scholar from the world’s largest Muslim country has warned us about the enmity that Islamic tradition requires from Muslims towards non-Muslims.  

In a 2017 interview to TIME magazine by Yahya Cholil Staquf, the general secretary of the Nahdlatul Ulama, which is Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization in the country which has the largest Muslim population in the world, he said:

“Within the classical [Islamic] tradition, the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims is assumed to be one of segregation and enmity” and “the extent that Muslims adhere to this view of Islam, it renders them incapable of living harmoniously and peacefully within the multi-cultural, multi-religious societies of the 21st century.” [emphasis added]  

Evidence from United Nations documents shows relentless attacks by Islamic terrorists.

The United Nations said that more than 30 people had been killed in new killings attributed to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a rebel group affiliated with the Islamic State group, in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo on April 2 and 3 [2023].

The UN condemned in the strongest terms "these new massacres and "deplores these despicable attacks against the civilian population" "The ADF are originally predominantly Muslim Ugandan rebels who have been operating since the mid-1990s in eastern DRC, where they are accused of massacring thousands of civilians.  

Evidence from United Nations documents shows how Islam is forced upon non-Muslims.

The UN investigation on the systematic crimes of genocide against the Yazidi minority in Iraq entitled ‘They came to destroy’ overseen by a British lawyer, Karim Khan, QC, (a Muslim) records how ISIS fighters gave a string of Yazidi villages the clear ultimatum to “convert or die” followed by brutal killings. These, wrote Karim Khan, had “shocked the conscience of humanity and chilled the soul.”  

In 2018, a group of experts wrote as follows in their report to the Security Council the massacre of 26 civilians in the Democratic Republic of the Congo:  

“They [the attackers] also recorded information about each person, including their name and religion. They asked them why they had not converted to Islam and showed the Qur’an to one of them…Photos of the dead show that they had been bound and some had been tied together. After the killings, they shot in the air twice, saying that they had killed all the “kafir” (“infidels” in Arabic).”

At this point, Dr. Tharoor may pause and ponder on the link between the threat to convert or die that surfaced in countries thousands of miles away from each other and in Kashmir, where the same offer of ‘Raliv, Tsaliv ya Galiv’ was made to the hapless Kashmiri Hindus.  

A journalistic exposé of al-Azhar University showed it was teaching Muslims to cannibalize non-Muslims.

Al-Azhar University is the world’s most prestigious university for Islamic learning. The Middle East Forum drew its readers’ attention to a 2015 report in an Egyptian newspaper called  El-Youm el-Sabi, that had published an investigative report about the curriculum at al-Azhar University. According to the report, one of the books, called al-Iqn'a fi Hal Alfaz ibn Abi Shoga'a (Convincing arguments according to Abi Shoga'a), taught to al-Azhar's high school students states,

“Any Muslim can kill an apostate and eat him, as well kill infidel warriors even if they are young or female and they can also be eaten, because they are not granted any protection.”

Ex-Muslims tell us in no uncertain terms that Islam requires Muslims to hate non-Muslims.  

To circle back to our initial question: Is Dr. Tharoor right when he accuses Hindutva of being a purveyor of hatred? All the evidence above from around the world, the clear command of Islamic doctrine shows he’s wrong by 180 degrees. The origin of religious hate and supremacism in India was and remains Islamic doctrine.  Hindutva is nothing but a reaction to centuries of unrepentant provocation and aggression.  

Dr. Tharoor’s motives for writing this book are clear: to curry electoral favour with Islamic community by handing them a carte blanche for all their historical misdeeds and to transfer the blame and hatred on to a section of Hindus, who just happen to be more aware of their painful past, the perils of the future and less inclined to go quietly into the night. For such Hindus, who Tharoor arrogantly banishes outside the pale of his ‘definition’ of Hinduism, they have no right to examine their history and its wounds, and even dare to think of exercising that first and irrevocable law of nature: the right of self-defence.

I would like to applaud the Infinity Foundation team for their brilliant expose of Shashi Tharoor and the likes. ‘Ten Heads of Ravana’ was an eye-opener that propelled me to dig deeper where I found insurmountable and illogical theories in the works of the very famous contemporary scholar and leader Shashi Tharoor.  

Let the final verdict, however, come from Dr. Tharoor who writes that when Islam came to India: “It had contempt for its pluralist doctrines and coveted its treasures.” This is as true of Islam in India today as it was then.

Author’s Bio

Mr. Rahul Sur is a former IPS officer and a former United Nations (UN) official with a 40-year track record of effective service at the national and international level. In the UN, Mr. Sur served in the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) in its Headquarters and field locations. He served as the Chief of Conduct and Discipline in the Office of the Special-Representative of the Secretary-General (OSRSG) in the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti.

He also established the first field investigation presence of OIOS in Timor-Leste after the country’s independence referendum in 1999. He is an expert at various facets of the UN’s functioning and is widely traveled in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Europe. He retired from the UN in 2021.