Mujahid Talks with Imam Malik Mujahid in conversation with historian Prof. Faisal Devji at
Interviewed: 11 AM Central Time Wednesday Nov 18. only on Muslim Network TV
#Islamophobia #Globalization #Hindutva #India #Islam #ethics #violence
Guest: Faisal Devji - Professor of Indian History, Director of the Asian Studies Center at University of Oxford A historian who specializes in studies of Islam, globalization, violence and ethics.
Host: Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid -- President of Sound Vision and Justice for All.
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Abdul Malik Mujahid 00:02
Salaam in peace. This is Imam Malik Mujahid and you're watching Muslim network TV. Muslim network TV is there 24 seven, airing through satellite galaxy 19. And you can also see us on Ott platform like Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, and you can download our app Muslim network TV on your iPhone or Android and watch it anywhere in the world. We are the only Muslim network on USA and Canada broadcasting to Mexico also. And our website is Muslim network.tv. And Prime Minister Modi, who leads the largest second largest country in the world was banned from entering the United States of America for 10 years. And I heard also he was banned in UK and Canada because of not only rhetoric, but actually his implication in killig a large number of Muslim in Gujarat is where Gandhi was born. Gujarat is known for Gandhi, but it is now known for Modi, even President Trump when he went recently to India. Since he's a hotelier and 70% of hotels in. In America, small signs are owned by Indians who went to Gujrat, they are owned by Gujraties. When he finally visited United States after he won the election in the United States, you know, US Ambassador went and, you know, try to make up for his ban, and he came to the United States, President Barack Obama presented him a gift. And that gift was the proceedings in a book of the 1892 Parliament of the world's religions. Well, a long time later, 120 years later, I became the chair of that same Parliament of the world's religions. And that's how I was keeping an eye that he gave him that gift. Now, why that is significant, it is significant in a very clever way of diplomatic language. Because Gandhi is not as much of a hero of Modi, although publicly, of course, diplomatically, publicly public relation wise, but is Swami Vivekananda. And Swami Vivekananda came to America 1892, introducing Hinduism here. And he was sort of hindu nationalist to the level he has a lot of nice things to say about in theism, of course, but a lot of bad things to say in America in those days against Muslims. He is the hero who's loved that there and that gift, in a way was a very subtle way of making up with Modi. So, Swami Vivekananda is big and because of him, I ended up in India multiple time. And, and there I saw strange things, I was giving a speech in a temple in the north of India, where all the military academies and all that there was in the, in the opening of Ganga, where Ganga river enters India, a lot of temples, Hindu temples. So I stayed in one of the temple I was a guest there and a speaker, and it keynote speakers, very humble, meek person approached me. And he was so nice, he presented me a gift of a magazine, which was started with Gandhiji himself in 1935 or so. And by the Harichand establish an organization called Harishchandra swayam It was part. And he he chaired that at that particular moment, that person, and they say, Oh, you should be the one giving a speech, not mean. And he said, Well, who cares for Gandhi nowadays, it hurt me so deeply, although I was there just for a few days. And I have full schedule. When I was in Delhi. He, you know, he insisted that I come I cannot refuse. So 7am in the morning, he took me to the place which is called Gandhi Ashram.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 04:46
This is where Gandhi is stayed for more than a year and his wife will be next in another next door house, although he was living a life of celibacy. So that's why and he gave me a guided tour. And children Harichan region children there's a school for Harichan children Harichan is the word which Gandhi borrowed from a poet but he started using for the Dalit who call the sub Dalit but untouchable historically sociologically, they are called untouchable classes, which are not part of the Indian caste system. So out caste people and those little children early in the morning 7am cleaning their eyes What is standing throwing rose petal leaves. So, for me, it was I was sad that children were forced to wake up that early, but I realized the love the organizers were extending and they they took me all around, I saw Ghandhiji fascination there for for developing models of toilet. India has been a major thing, that's probably the only thing of conviene which Modi has done building a whole lot of toilet throughout India millions of those, but Gandhiji wanted people to have so on this side of his home, he has developed that then his little temple there in which there are verses of different from Bible and the Quran and all that is on sort of interfaith, the type of temple which is built. But one thing which hurt me deeply over there was how bad the whole situation was, it was shrubs the garden was not taken care of properly. It was all does not dust and the dirt which you can see in there, he in poor places, but it sort of unkept, please. And it hurt me so much. When I came back, I wrote a letter to President Obama, that next time if you go there, ask them even if you don't visit, tell them that you want to visit Gandhi ashram so at least they can lift it up. Who cares for Gandhi today, but there is a person who seems to care. And he has written in detail a scholar, an author. Please welcome Faisal Devji. Welcome to Muslim network TV.
Faisal Devji 07:19
Thank you very much. Such a pleasure to be here.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 07:23
Faisal Devji is a professor of Indian history, and director of Asian Studies Center at the University of Oxford. So, before we start, whenever I talk about India, I see my audience get lost in the terminologies. So being a good professor, maybe you'd need to give us some terminology. Who's Gandhi? What is Hindutva, what is RSS and who is Modi?
Faisal Devji 07:52
Well, that's a tall order. Gandhi, I assume everyone has heard of, because, of course, he is one of the most famous people globally. And indeed, he is one of the first global celebrities even in his own lifetime. It's interesting to reflect upon the fact that the two Indians who have assumed global status are the Buddha. Firstly, if you can call him an Indian before the Indian nation state, and Mahatma Gandhi and they are both known for exactly the same thing. Ahimsa, non violence. So I hope that tells us something about the, the meaning that India has
Faisal Devji 08:40
or should have in the world. Now, Gandhi, as I'm sure most in your audience know, is seen these days as one of the most important leaders of the independence movement from Britain, a movement which was characterized and defined by nonviolent resistance. But to see him only as the leader of a national movement is really unfair to Gandhi. He was a much more universal thinker. And he thought that non violence was a way the chief way in which human beings would and should manage their affairs both internally within their various communities, and countries and externally, internationally or beyond their own sense of who they were beyond their own identities. So there's a lot that can be said about Gandhi, of course, he was assassinated in 1948. By by a man who today you would call a Hindu nationalist, not around God. Say his assassination resulted Curiously, in the stilling of violence. This is violence that had emerged out of the partition of British India into India and Pakistan. And Gandhi had long fought against it when he was assassinated. The violence stopped on both sides of the border, it stopped in India and it stopped in Pakistan. And this is a kind of really quite fascinating instance of the influence Gandhi exercised even upon those people who some professed to be his enemies, that is to say, Muslims in general or Pakistani Muslims in particular. So,
Faisal Devji 08:40
thank you so much. So what is hindutva? Which, you know, you mentioned one of the person who person who murdered actually Gandhi was part and parcel of Hindu nationalism. So Hindu nationalism is the Hindutva, proper term for Hindu nationalism.
Faisal Devji 11:10
Well, Hindutva a means simply Hinduness. And it's a term that was perhaps not invented by but certainly popularized by a man called Vinayak Damodar savarkar. Who, in Gandhi's own lifetime, he had met Gandhi very early in the early years of the 20th century, in London, and they met occasionally, after that period. But at the time of Gandhi's death, he was leading a organization called Hindu Maha Sabha, you know, the great Indian Hindu organization. And he wrote a book called Hindutva the 1920s, or essentials of Hindutva. To give it its proper name, in which he defined he sought to define what it was that Hindus constituted as a collectivity. Now, the important thing to note about this book, from its name Hindu ness is that it is not a book about theology. It is not a book about the Hindu religion. It is, if you will, a book precisely about Hindu ness as a secular or a non religious or a non theological category. He was not interested in religious belief, or really in religious practices, he was interested in bringing together those people who belong to a vet have an enormous variety of different practices and philosophies that all fall under the name of Hinduism and to conceive of them as a politically unified group. So I think the important thing to note about hindutva and its founding figures savarkar is that there were is that savarkar was not, in fact, interested in any kind of theological or strictly religious enterprise. He was interested in bringing together people who fell under the category Hinduism, in order that that might constitute a political majority in this new in the forthcoming new nation state of India, he was worried that Hindus were dis united, that they followed far too many different philosophers, philosophical systems of ritual practices, sectarian identities, and that they needed to be brought together, both in terms of their sense of identity, but also in order to, in order to bring castes together. So the somewhat paradoxical thing about savarkar is that unlike very many orthodox Hindus, he was staunchly set against the caste system, which you mentioned in your opening comments. And he was in part set against it because he thought it served to divide Hindus and weaken them and leave them open to external forces and external invasions of which the British and the French before them were examples but also various waves, which is the term that is often used in disconnection of Muslim so called invaders. So, he was, he was all about uniting Hindus, and dissipating the divisions of caste but not uniting them in religious or theological terms, uniting them in if you will, secular terms and in terms by which Hindu religious beliefs and practices were secularized international forms of identification
Abdul Malik Mujahid 15:05
that's very interesting to note but oh is RSS does RSS Rashtriya swayamsevak Sangh carries the same type of thing or it is now a more religious nationalist type of a group and what is RSS?
Faisal Devji 15:23
Well, the Rashtriya swayamsevak Sangh the the sort of national self help or National Volunteer society, you know, emerges around this time as well in the in the, in the run up to India's independence. And it is today the largest organization that represents if you will Hindu nationalism and for them to they're quite, it's very interesting, in a way less like savarkar, savarkar was intolerant of some Hindu practices, he had no patience with vegetarianism. For instance, he had no patients of caste, as I said, and there are no other Hindu practices in which he did not believe and didn't much like the RSS in the sense is much more tolerant, it accepts any number of Hindu practices. And so, it is pluralistic in this particular sense, but it too is dedicated in my view to if you will, secularize or nationalizing which often comes down to the same thing into identity. And in this sense, it pronounces itself as being open to non Hindus also, or Christians, Muslims and others are
Faisal Devji 16:52
on occasion and sometimes indeed, quite frequently invited to join in if not join as members of the RSS, at least to come to an agreement with them. And you know, occasionally they are and you know, their their attempts to reach out to non- hindu communities and this is possible, not through kind of ecumenical or theological, you know, faith discussion, but precisely because the RSS pronounces that Hinduism is not a religious identity, it is in the culture of India, and it is a culture shared by all Indians, whatever their religion, so, RSS is technically not against the existence of other religions or other theologies or theological systems in India, it claims to be interested only in the patriotic and nationalist character of all Indians. So, basically Muslims, Christians and others are invited to acknowledge their Hindu past seen as culture not as religion and in doing so, to participate in the larger stream of Indian nationalism.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 18:13
So, the way you describe probably now, RSS will more or less would like that definition, unlike the popular understanding of RSS, that this is a, a shamanist anti-minority group, which many American media will write Militia, with their word and attacks on minorities will be normally attributed to them. So, so do you think, in their self definition, they are much more milder in their approach than what people come to know about them?
Faisal Devji 18:55
No, all I was saying is, you know, describing their attitude towards religion on the one hand and non Hindu religiosity on the other. Of course, as you point out, the RSS also runs so called self defense groups and sort of military training groups, and indeed, militias. So, they often have marches in towns and sometimes in rather community sensitive areas. You know, there is a kind of ceremony in which weapons are displayed and worshiped. And there is a great deal of emphasis put upon the kind of highly masculine and warlike character of the Hindu nation. But all this is seen as being, rightly or wrongly, a response to
Faisal Devji 20:02
a legend outsiders who have invaded India in the past both the distant past and the recent past. So it, it. It's an organization that portrays itself as a defensive organization. But of course, in the eyes of those outside it, whether Hindu or Muslim, or Christian or any other, it appears to be a quite fearsome and violent organization and indeed, in India, itself, to say nothing of those who know about the RSS in countries like the United States, it is routinely understood as being associated with violence of very of various kinds. But the thing to know about the RSS is that it is meant to be, it is an enormously popular outfit, it probably has around five or 6 million members. Let's call it one of the largest NGOs in India, if not the world, but it is it has a reputation of being a highly disciplined force and one that values if you will, intellectual debate and discussion. There are other forces also within the ambit of what is called Hindu nationalism, that are not so disciplined and not interested in Debate or discussion or in thinking about the future of Hinduism or India or anything. And these are really the forces that are often deployed in riots or on the street. So they belong to allied but different groups.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 21:46
You're watching Muslim network TV, this is Imam Malik Mujahid, and I'm talking with Professor Faisal devji. We'll be right back after these messages.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 22:18
Welcome back to Muslim network TV. This is Imam Malik Mujahid I'm talking with Professor Faisal devji from Oxford, United Kingdom. The violence in India, which Gandhi is known to campaign against the colonial violence and communal one, it is increasing. And Washington DC has an organization called genocide watch. They have issued Professor stenton lists that they have issued two genocide alerts on India, one about Assam and about Kashmir, that it has passed multiple stages of genocide. And Hindutva is the one which is ruling the country with the good part of the cabinet being a member of RSS, including Prime Minister Modi. So, so what has led a country of Gandhi in that particular direction?
Faisal Devji 23:29
Faisal Devji 23:30
it's a big question. The first thing to note, of course, is that a lot of the violence cannot be attributed simply to an ideology, or a community or an identity. You know, we always and quite correctly, state whenever there are instances of, you know, jihadist or, you know, Muslim defined violence in the world, that such violence has context. It is reprehensible, but it cannot be said to characterize an entire an entire community. Similarly, in this case, what is interesting is that there's been a sharp uptick from the early 1990s. And this is this coin sites with the liberalisation of India's economy. So Hindutva become successful for the first time in its history. Only from the 1990s. Before that, of course it exists. But it doesn't have any role in political life of a significant kind. It certainly has no political power. It first starts stepping down the road to political power from the early 1990s. And it achieves political power only later in that decade. So there is the coincidence of the liberalization of India's economy and the rise of hindutva is a very noticeable one. And it really needs to be considered. But I might also add that the context is much broader than this, because what you see happening is the uptick of violence in all the countries in South Asia, and often religiously defined violence from Sri Lanka, where there really was a genocidal campaign, you know, against Tamil speakers of various religions, mostly Hindu, and Christian. And now, of course, there's anti muslim violence in Sri Lanka. to Burma, we know what's happening there today against minorities of different kinds, including, including Muslims, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. So the whole region, you know, has seen in the last few decades, a remarkable rise of violence under different kinds of governments. Now, in the case of India, with the Hindu nationalist government in office, of course, it's in some ways, easier to stop the violence in other ways more difficult because the BJP government, whatever its leaders may think, or one is dependent, in some ways, in localities, on violence, and on certain movements and groups of people who need to be as it were given in the in the views probably of the party to be given some leeway in order to keep the Lord. So the interesting thing about India, unlike some of the countries in the West, for instance, is that no matter how powerful the state and the government, and it is a powerful state and a powerful government has always depended whichever the government in power has always depended on outsourcing violence. So agencies of the state like the army, and the police, will participate in violence and have done so routinely. But it is the so called non state actor who has been uppermost as an agent of violence, often tolerated by or encouraged by the state and, and state forces like the police or the army, less or the army. So you have
Faisal Devji 27:41
a situation in which it's a situation that that dates from colonial times when the Indian National Congress was a political party out of power and had to operate through society or within society, not through the state, it could not operate through the state. So since those days, there's been a kind of perversion of that form of national mobilization, with violence emerging out of social networks and societies. And the question before the state is whether to encourage it or to restrict it or to recontextualize it somehow. So this is a long standing problem in South Asian states, not only India. The arrival of the BJP to power has encouraged it in some respects, and discouraged it in others because in places where violence is not wanted, it is possible to actually stop
Abdul Malik Mujahid 28:45
Hmm. Well, moving forward, Dr. King from USA when he visited Bombay, he requested to sleep in the bedroom where Gandhi used to sleep he wanted to get some spiritual vibration. But it's so such an icon of America connecting in that way. But his Gandhi's attitude about race is under big focus in the United States. Me to movement cannot consider him to be a, an ideal for themselves and they coat Gandhi in South Africa about blacks are quote, unquote, our trouble some very dirty and live like animals. And as a result, they, along with Dalits in America, Dalit has been a town for far more troubles have taken down 20-30 statues in America. So, so share with us this this transforming of his image. In the eyes of people who consider him an ideal type in the past,
Faisal Devji 30:08
well, they shouldn't have considered him an ideal type. Because no one is. And Gandhi would have been the first man to say that he was the most sinful of men. He didn't like the fact that people build statues of him even in his own lifetime. And he didn't like the worshipful behavior that many showed to him. So in some ways, I think Gandhi would have been quite pleased that he is being subjected to this kind of criticism. On the other hand, things are perhaps more complex than many of his critics imagine. After all, it is true that Gandhi said and repeatedly that he thought that African Americans were a stood at the forefront in a grand experiment of non violence, that they would be the group of people who would display the truth and virtues of non violence to the world, much more so than Indians ever could. Because for Gandhi's it was, for Gandhi, it was always a minority group that could most effectively display non violence, he thought the German Jews and European Jews could do it during the Second World War. He thought African Americans could do it, he thought, indeed, Muslims could do so as a minority, and Indians in Africa could do so as a minority. So he was very identified with minority groups in all kinds of ways. Secondly, of course, Gandhi, you know, is accused of being a racist, mostly during his time as a lawyer for the sort of Indian capitalist class. Fellow Gujaratis like myself, in South Africa. And now, when Gandhi goes to South Africa, he goes as a lawyer, and he goes so as to defend Indian privileges, because South Africa was an increasingly racialized society in which your legal status depended upon your ethnicity or your race. So in that system, Africans, of course, were the lowest. And then you add colors, and you add Indians, and you add Jews and you add whites. And maybe there are one or two groups, smaller groups in between. So Indians were afraid of losing whatever status they had, and Gandhi was there to defend these privileges. This was not a country in which people were equal before the law, or they were equal before the law in only a very tendentious, and superficial sense. So as long as he was a lawyer for the Indian capitalist class in South Africa, most of whom were Muslims, by the way, Gandhi he, he was a lawyer to a Muslim firm, right Dada Abdullah & company, who brought it from Gujarat. Gandhi, in the guise of it his role as a lawyer made racist arguments. That is the only way he could act as the lawyer in South African courts, which are being defined through racial arguments. The moment Ghandi stops being a lawyer, he stops using racial arguments, as far as I can tell. Now, his critics tend to think that Gandhi stopped using racial arguments, because he realizes that they're problematic and he shouldn't do it and he wants to somehow conceal his true racism. I don't know maybe Gandhi was a racist, readable evidence. All I can say is that, as a lawyer uses, both in court and in public arguments that seek to separate Indians from Africans and maintain such privileges at the head as they had previously enjoyed.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 34:16
You're watching Muslim network TV This is Imam Malik Mujahid and talking with Faisal Devji We'll be right back after these messages.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 34:51
Welcome back to Muslim network TV. This is Imam Malik Mujahid I'm talking with Faisal Devji a professor in Oxford on South Asian Studies. Now one of the things which I like to ask you about is I've mentioned in my remarks about the Gandhi ashram and and Professor Sankar Kumara Sanyal, who is president of Harrichand Sawak Sangh he leads that and he, I have invited him to bring the exhibit on Gandhi to the Parliament of the world religion and about, you know, just few years ago. And when he took me there, it was I had extraordinary mixed feelings. And I called a meeting of interfaith Well, can call there was already a scheduled meeting for interfaith partners. And when I brought it up from those interfaith group, there was a strong resentment, which came out towards Ghandi. And I was taken aback. I didn't expect that. I mean, it was if it was a group of Dalits, I would have related what they are saying. And but the whole state of that particular place, in a historic place, but in a pretty bad shape. So I don't know whether you have visited that one, which I'm talking about, but tell me who cares for Gandhi in India today? I mean, of course, he has this ceremonial positioning, I was taken also to this mahdy and everybody comes from the, you know, dignitaries of different countries are red carpet treatment. Besides that, who cares for Gandhi today, who stands for his, what he stood for?
Faisal Devji 36:52
I agree, you know, he has been, it looks like he has been entirely gobbled up by the state and its agencies and he is displayed for nationalist reasons. And as a kind of branding for India. And because of this, I am not myself against his statues being pulled down. Not necessarily because I think he was racist, that is a kind of counterproductive thing to do, because Gandhi is one of the earliest non white figures who has statues, you know, erected in European and, you know, other sort of white majority countries. So to remove a statue of Gandhi is peculiar, because you're actually removing the often the very first non white person who has a public space in these countries. But to return to your question, yes, I think Gandhi has been far too long owned by the Indian state, whether Congress state or a BJP state. And it's time for him to do so.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 38:07
To explain to her and his Congress being the historic political party and BJP being the current ruling party, please continue.
Faisal Devji 38:16
Yes. So you know, I am not unhappy, that he should be toppled from that particular pedestal though, of course, he will remain as he should remain the father of the country, because he was crucial in Independence of India. But Gandhi really deserves, if you will, a more moral status in Indian society, which, as you suggest, seems to be either indifferent to him at the moment or rejecting him explicitly. And one reason why this might be the case is because he has been so caught colonized by the state, you know, his faces on the Indian currency bills. Can you imagine a more audacious piece of irony that the man who was against money who didn't even have any money should be on the currency bills of India? Now, he's disliked for many reasons. One reason of course, being that is disliked by so called Hindu nationalists, because he's seen as being too pro Muslim and to Pro, you know, Christian and other minority groups, and he's seen as being weak and as an advocate of non violence. He is disliked by a number of Dalit or Harrichan, as you call it, groups, because he's seen as being a man who's supported, who supported the caste system. Handy he is disliked by some feminist groups because he's seen as being anti patriarchal. You The way he treated his wife, for instance, and spoke of women. So there are many groups of people, not all of which can come together, you know, the feminists and the Hindu nationalists tend not to come together, for instance, who dislike him for different reasons. But, nevertheless, you can't get away from the fact that no Indian today is able to throw off the,
Faisal Devji 40:32
what Gandhi means for the country, you know, like it or not, he has been crucial in the founding of the new nation. And perhaps it is this recognition that prompts many of his, as it were children to reject Him, because this is exactly what children do to their fathers in a kind of psychoanalytic way, as much as in a political way to move on you must displace the finger of the Father. So, in some ways, you can even see the criticism of Gandhi in India from very, very, very, comes as being a kind of way in which a sign of the desire to move on to move elsewhere. Whether that is possible, or whether that is desirable, even is a different thing. But despite everything, Gandhi remains a kind of touchstone, you know, people embedded they like him or they dislike him, are always interested in him books on Gandhi, I read, you know, critical books or the literary books I read, you can't give a lecture on Gandhi without people turning up, even if to argue against him. So he remains a kind of important touchstone you can't be indifferent to the man you can't forget him. You like him or you dislike him? Only the very young seem to have gotten out of even thinking about Gandhi.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 42:06
Yeah, I'm in that I was reading in some Israeli paper that they're talking about why Hitler is so popular among the younger people, well, that will be another topic, but there seems to be some connection with Hindutva and RSS ideology in which a Hitler restaurant, Hitler, this Hitler, that and Hitler books being part of the MBA course, that that connects in a very strange way with the historical inspiration of the Rashtriya or RSS ideology, you know, Gandhi's non violence, movement, against the you know, when against the colonial powers, or a weapon of the week, and the same in American civil rights movement, non violence, we can be any address it, you know, it was responded by the colonial power as well as in America by police and the other people with violence. So nonviolent action was not tolerated as much. So I see right now, when, against the Indian government policies of redefining citizenship in a way that Muslim felt threatened and they had this non violent action in Delhi. With Shaheen Baag and all that and the control of the Delhi police being in the head of the BJP Chairman, Amit Shah is also the guy who controls interior ministry and all that they responded pretty violently. So So do you think the Muslims in India and other minorities will continue to value the nonviolent means of resistance towards what is happening through the Indian government?
Faisal Devji 44:16
Well, you know, as you suggested, they did in fact do precisely that at shaheen baag and across the country. This was not just in Delhi, it was an remarkable outpouring, in which people of many different religions and communities were brought together, you know, and we haven't seen anything like this happening in India for a long, long time. It was truly extraordinary. And what was interesting about it, was the fact that both Gandhi and Ambedkar the one of the great leaders of the Dalits, and Gandhi and Ambedkar had no love lost for each other in their during their own lifetime. But their portraits were both present in these protests and in these demonstrations, which again goes to show that you can't so easily get rid of them. But it also goes to show though, that even though it is historically incorrect to put these two men together, nevertheless, they're the role they might play in the future is not trapped by the reality of the past. Now, we don't know what's going to what the ultimate consequences of the protests in Delhi and elsewhere in the country against the citizenship act will be. Because I don't think you could have had such a massive protest which simply died down and they died down with the imposition of the lockdown during the Coronavirus in February in March. There will be something that comes out of it just as in the civil rights movement, civil rights movement in the United States. You had a kind of violent dimension, of course, with the Black Panthers and others to some degree and you have a non violent dimension. And who is to say which the more influential or effective has been? I was reading recently, there's a new book by Garrett Felber, I think, on the Nation of Islam in American prisons during the spirit, indeed, before even Martin Luther King becomes the figurehead that he became came during the civil rights movement and the voice of non violence, which, as you mentioned, he was greatly indebted to an attract to Ghandi. But the Nation of Islam was apparently responsible for extraordinary amount of prison reform, by making legal cases on the basis of religious freedom. And by fostering a classic Gandhian strategy, fast, you know, the hunger strike, yeah. And, of course, it's not only Gandhi, who did it, you had Irish nationalists doing it in British prisons as well. So we don't tend to think of the Nation of Islam engaging in non violent action. But in fact, they did in in American prisons, and that transformed prison culture as a result, so this book makes the case that we all a great deal of the civil rights movement to prison activism by led by the Nation of Islam, but including Muslim prisoners, from many different denominations. So you don't have to see Gandhi as being important for those people. And perhaps he wasn't. All I'm suggesting is that non violence as a not a strategy, because for Gandhi was not simply an instrument to get somewhere else. It had moral meaning in its own right. It was a sign of fortitude, and it displayed your faith. You know, one of India's most important poets, in the early days of the Gandhian non cooperation movement was called Akbar Allahabadi and he wrote a poem called the Gandhi nama, the epic of Gandhi, in 1919, I think, where he says that, if there is anyone who represents the Muslim virtue of sabra, of fortitude, of endurance, it is Gandhi
Abdul Malik Mujahid 48:51
is very interesting i mean we just couple of minutes left on this particular topic, but it is very interesting to see you know, Gandhi writes about Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him also, in a way that he achieved his his success was not attributed to the sword but his peaceful means. And about a week ago, I was talking to and encouraging elderly person in Canada who a Muslim who is an engineer who in his childhood met Ghandiand when he met Gandhi in Patna, Bihar India, he started telling him about Cali former and how, you know, His justice and peace prevailed his time and all his memories were about that conversation. So it seems that he he'd not only read minority mindset and readings, but also somewhat incorporated in his conversations. So so let's let's make it last comment on this one before we conclude.
Faisal Devji 49:59
Faisal Devji 49:59
You know, it's rare that people have studied the influence of Islam on Gandhi, but it is certainly there. And his closest one of his closest friends, CF Andrews actually wrote about it in Gandhi's own lifetime. Gandhi studied the Quran very deeply. He came from a background in Gujarat, where his family knew many Muslim, many Muslims and worked with them. His mother belong to a community which was very influenced the pournami community by Islam and Gandhi describes going to the temple with her and seeing at the temple, the temple was a place with no idols, no images, and the only thing they had was the Bhagavad Gita, and the Quran. And those two books were the books to be as it were being .... So Gandhi from his own childhood had an intense familiarity with Islam, which we should never forget. He wrote a great introduction to a biography of the Prophet. He lauded him, especially his his mission in Makkah. And he also wrote, praisingly about all the great heroes of sacrifice. Hussain and Ali in particular. And he had many good things. In fact, one of the things he said in a discussion with an African American leader would come to see him IS WHY DO NOT the African Americans convert to Islam, because if they converted to Islam in the United States, they would achieve equality and freedom he thought that that should be something that African Americans should consider. So you can see just from this statement, the credible openness of the man to Islam Of course, and to other religions and Christianity in particular. He,
Faisal Devji 52:03
I suppose, I should end by saying that Muslims in India , understood and reciprocated. So when the khalifat movement began in 1919, you know, when the Ottoman Empire was defeated in the First World War and the Muslims of India mobilized so that the sacred places of Islam would not be given into the hands of European colonial powers. The Ulamaof India came to Gandhi and said, Can you please be the leader of this movement? It was a Gandhi who was the official leader of the biggest kind Islamism movement in history. And he was made its leader by none other than the Muslim leaders of India. It's an irony you might think that a Hindu, a devout practicing, believing pious into should be the head of a Muslim movement. But this, in fact, was what happened. And one of the important things we need to attend to when looking back at this not so this is history that's fairly recent, comparatively speaking. I think we should draw hope from this, that such things are possible. They might be unbelievable today, but they happened in fact, not so long ago. And that movement was one that brought Hindus and Muslims together, as no other movement had in the past.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 53:25
Well, thank you so much Faisal Devji for your time truly appreciate you spending an hour with us. Fasial Devji is a professor of Indian history director of Asian Studies Center at the University of Oxford joining us from London, and you're watching Muslim network TV and along with Fasial Devji would like to thank Sherdil Khan and Dr. Waheed orurproducers and Muslim network TV is, always there 24/7 and you hear interesting conversation and continue to watch so we are not only on galaxy 19 satellite covering North America, but also on amazon fire tv, Apple TV, Roku, and you can download our app on iPhone, Muslim network TV or Android and our website is Muslim network.tv peace Salaam