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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

An Evening With Aurangzeb!

Team Being Cynical


Prologue - Few days back one of my office friends did send out a mail on the very attitude of we Indians in glorifying entities of history more than what they deserve. Not only that, we also ornament them with a larger than life image. In the same way we malign few others to the core making them look no lesser than Amrish Puri of Mugambo fame.

What is that driving us to be so judgmental and conclusive without knowing the facts? Is it the bad and wrong history that been taught to us via the millions of government supplied history books, where truth is far fetched as history is fabricated to support someone's/group's ego and want? In whole of this we tend to miss a very vital point - the fact is, good history is rarely about good guys and bad guys. Unfortunately we follow this simplistic logic while going over our history, reducing it to nothing more than a fictional novel. This simplistic approach also results in us putting on a pair of glasses, purely based on our perception, while engrossing it. I believe that history should be presented as it is, no biasing, no fabrication or no forced conclusion. At best a good history book should leave its readers to decide the good or the bad for themselves. I was sure and I have ample examples to support my belief that our text books are being pathetically modified, God knows for what and whom. As a result I always had that fascination for all those controversial & bad characters, or so being projected in books.

One of the many was this dubious character. Do you remember the folk who was a religious Muslim, anti Hindu? Yes, the one who tried to forcefully convert Hindus and taxed them for visiting their religious places? You got it: The poor snobbish chap, the Aurangzeb

I had a long fascination of meeting this brat, just to see how a person can be so cruel and bad. Thanks to Albert Einstein and his Time-machine which I could accidentally lay my hands one fine day. Punched all the red, green, yellow buttons as shown in some old Hindi movie. Boom!! there I go. Out of nowhere I found myself in front of the Red Fort in Agra in a jiffy. Goodness gracious, there is the emperor himself sitting at the top left block of the fort and stitching caps the Muslims put on. I can easily see the outline of his face through the illumination of the lamp in front him. I must have made some noise on my time defying arrival, I thought as the emperor looked at me and visibly astonished with my look, artier and the funny looking stuff I was riding. Being aware of his attitude towards we Hindus, as per the books, I was dearly fearing for my life. No sooner my thoughts could start to take few more wings, the main door opened with a Khali looking guy jumped out asking me to accompany him as the Sultan himself wants to see me in close ranges. Oh God, save me. Save me from getting converted or worst, even losing my life, is all I was thinking while moving to the front door of the fort.

As I entered inside, I could see a small temple at the corner with a lady lightning a Dia. The lady must be from this bad guy's harem I thought, which later on being cleared to me that the temple is there as the belief of the Sultan is to respect all religions equally. Once the introduction was over I was comfortably being placed in front of the emperor. First he inquired about my locality and place. I don't know if the Sultan did understand much about the time-machine but could easily negotiate that I am from a future time. When asked about the purpose of my visit, I begged for my life before explaining all the history that we are taught and my subsequent fascination of meeting a real bad guy in my life. A huge laughter followed which we can only associate with a Sultan. Let me correct your history a bit, if you are ready to believe me; said the emperor as a matter of fact. I couldn't decline this generous offer. Could I? With fear still intact I shook my head in both appreciation and acceptance of the offer.

Shoot your queries ordered the Sultan after a momentary silence.

Still shivering from inside I put my first query - it is primarily suggested that you were an anti Hindu leader who strongly believed in forced conversion. 

What is the ratio of Hindu and Muslim at present in your time, asked the king. 4:1 I replied. That's the same now too. He looked happy. He must have noticed that I am struggling to correlate the numbers so he started to explain. See if I am so fond of conversion then let me assure you, there wouldn't have a single Hindu roaming around in this part of the world, let alone being four times of the Muslim population. I am ruling for last 50 years and Mughals for last 1000 years. If I/we had wished all would have been converted to Islam a long time back. I hope I answered this query of yours, ended the Sultan politely. 

Though I didn't want to but for the fear of my life I pretended to agree with his arguments. With a very low key voice I asked - but then, you were never a pro Hindu either; like your forefathers: Akbar or Jahangir. In fact you hate Hindus, I tried to be candid. 

Is it? he asked. If I am guilty of such bigotry then how come I have a Hindu as my military commander-in-chief ? I could easily have kept an efficient Muslim for the same post and none would have dared to question that. In fact today all my state policies are formulated by Hindus, he added, trying to sound more convincing. For your info two Hindus hold the highest post in the state treasury. He looked somewhat upset by now. After a brief silence he started again. Even some prejudiced Muslims are questioning my decision of keeping non-Muslims in such high posts. But I believe in my judgment skills, which demands right persons in right positions. This is the reason why Jaswant Sing, Raja Rajrup, Kabir Sing, Arghanath Sing, Prem Dev Sing are all holding high administrative posts. He ended this long sentence with a tiny bit of frustration in his voice. Though I am not surprised entirely, I still don't understand why my forefathers are shown in a brighter light for their multi-ethnic culture of their courts where Hindus were perceived to be favored and selected purely on merit. While the fact is, when they had only 14 Hindu Mansabdars (High officials), I have 148 of them. He finished with still breathing heavily as if he was desperate to push his points through.

Since I was little comfortable with the manner the Sultan was responding till then, I wanted to pose the most volatile question of the lot. I cleared my voice and asked - but our history says that you have demolished many temples which your more decorated forefathers never did. 

With a smile on his lips he said, same goes here too. If I had such an intention then there would have been no temple standing by now, let alone the small one that you see at the corner of this fort. He then suddenly asked one of his orderly in Urdu to bring some documents. On the contrary I have donated huge state estates for building temples and other federal supports thereof in Benaras, Kashmir and elsewhere. He said this while showing me the documented proofs that he had just asked for. Go to Balaji temple and there you would find a stone inscription showing it is me who has commissioned the construction of it, he added. In fact I have granted land for Kasi, Varanasi temples, he said this with double frustration while showing me another set of documents.

But didn't you re-install the Jizya tax on Hindus for travelling to religious places which were abolished by your forefathers? I interrupted him in his long speech. 

Which tax on what? He seemed bewildered. I was about to interrupt him again when he interjected me like Arnav Goswami with a heavy tone - let me complete. He gathered his thoughts for a moment before said almost in a shouting voice - Oh God. Jizya was never a tax for holy visit but it has something to do with state's development or best you can say a war tax. It is only collected from able-bodied non-Muslims of this state who did not want to volunteer in the defense of the state. He explained. We even don't collect it from women, immature male, old male or guys who are already in the army and fighting for the safeguard of the state. The tax is to make sure that the lives of the tax payers is safeguarded during war. If by any manner the state fails to protect a tax payer then the total taxed amount till date is returned back with interest, though 'interest' something that is considered Haaram in Islam. Let me add to this he said before I could interrupt again. The Zakat (2.5% of the savings) and Ushr (10% of the agricultural product) were collected from Muslims who have some wealth, of course after a certain threshold called Nisab. The Muslims also pay Sadaqah, Fitrah and Khums, which are never charged from Hindus. As a matter of fact the per-capita tax collection from Muslims is many folds than what we collect from Hindus. He explained while showing me another set of documents as proof of his explanation. In fact I have abolished 65 different type of taxes on Hindus there by incurring a 50 million loss to the state treasury. Now he was visibly upset on us for fabricating the history intentionally to show him in a bad light. As I was still with a huge fear within in being sitting alongside, perhaps the cruelest, bigoted, intolerant and short sighted emperor India has ever had, I though it is best for my health and well being to stop this questionnaire then and there.

Not before I was treated with all the Mughlai delicacies , I wasn't allowed to leave. But before I could leave the cruel emperor back in history I didn't forget to ask him the reason on why he himself is stitching the caps when he could employ almost anyone to do the job. To which he replied - his household expenses runs on the money he earns from this stitching and the Korans that he sells which he himself writes. You see, it is against my policy to spend even a single penny of state treasury for personal purpose. Do I wish to believe him on this? Hell NO. I bet, this badass chap is bluffing on this one at least.

But if it has any truth to what he blabbered on that fateful evening, then hats off to this great emperor and I strongly feel, it is high time we change or rather correct our history for good.
Before anyone concludes; I am a hardcore, orthodox and unapologetic Hindu.

4 comments:

  1. Forgive me, but I believe you may have been misled by your host.

    The jizya has been applied at different rates over time, sometimes less than zakat, but oftentimes more. The Jews of Khaybar had to pay jizya at a rate of 50 percent. Abu Yusuf, one of the principal jurists of Islamic taxation, declared set rates for the jizya at 48 dirhams of silver for the rich, 24 for the middle class, and 12 dirhams for peasants and laborers. I have calculated that 24 dirhams would represent a 14 percent tax on the average non-Muslim in the Middle East today.

    Moreover, poor Muslims are exempt from zakat, but poor non-Muslims are not exempt from the jizya. Also, non-Muslims must pay the kharaj on land, not just the jizya. Kharaj can be considerable and is levied on the full tax bearing capacity of the land, not just on agricultural outputs like the ushr.

    Non-Muslims also pay higher customs duties in Muslim countries than Muslim merchants do. Muslims pay 2.5 percent, non-Muslim locals pay 5 percent, and harbis pay 10 percent.

    Islamic tax law inherently discriminates against non-Muslims. Please consider these facts. Also, several legal schools of Islam view Hindus as ineligible to pay the jizya because Hindus are not "People of the Book" (Christians and Jews). The only choice for Hindus in their eyes is conversion or death.

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  2. Thanks to American Delight for sharing facts. There are poor in every religion. Aurangzeb might have been generous with the poor of his religion, but not with the poor of the "other" religion. That makes him a religious bigot. There should not be any doubts about it. There are serious issues with Islam's following. I am not sure whether the issue is with the religion in itself. I have not read the Koran so am not qualified to state anything on that. But if you just analyze facts there is no denying there is something wrong out there. All the intellectual morons who try to defend Islam should, as a humanitarian cause, take up the fact of reforming the fundamentals that spring out of that religion so that there can be peace in the world. That would be a great service that they'd be rendering to a religion that is so dear to them. I am referring to Muslims who defend Islam. I am sure a good number of Muslims are too busy with their life to think about the religion. These poor folks are the ones that are being caught between the action and the reaction.

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  3. "Life is," I appreciate your response as well. I would encourage you to read the Koran at some point, especially Sura 9 which came toward the end of Muhammad's works.

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  4. A bit late responce but that American Delight is himself very discriminating. He writes: Islamic tax law inherently discriminates against non-Muslims. No islamic tax law discriminates everyone even muslims. after all only the muslims pay zakat, ushr,sadaqah, fitrah, and khum. In fact islam diskriminates muslims heavily.
    jizya means that non-muslims can pay not to risk their lives to fight to protect the country. mulisms can to that this is pure diskrimination.
    Mon-muslims are allowed in private to consume pork and alcohol. diskrimination again.

    But non of these things seems to bother American Delight. Clearly this person does not care about the oppresion of muslims in islam.

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