Friday Review

The syncretic link

Sharif Husain Qasmi’s works look at the organised cooperation of Hindus and Muslims in the medieval period.   | Photo Credit: 15dfr Shafif Husain Qasmi

The current narrative of intolerance and mutual distrust can only be wiped out if the interactive cultural and literary history of medieval India is put together. The source material for this sort of history is only available in Persian that was the medium of literary discourse and administration during the Mughal reign. To acquaint the readers with what has been not told, the National Mission for Manuscripts has published a descriptive catalogue of Persian translation of Indian works. Eminent scholar Professor Shareef Hussain Qasmi has compiled an exhaustive catalogue, which contains a list of 2517 works.

Prof. Qasmi has taken pains to wipe out the miasma of misgiving and historical fallacies.

Seldom does any other religious text vie with the “Quran” as far as its verbal memorisation is concerned and it looks incredible if one finds that a Muslim memorised a sacred text of some other religion by heart. Professor Qasmi, quoting the work of Bhagwan Das Khusgo, points out that a Muslim, Mir Mohammad Hashim Mohtaram, memorised the whole of the Mahabharat. Besides the Mahabharat, the Gita, the Ramayan and the Vedas were translated many times into Persian. Abul Faizi and Allama Abul Fazal had rendered the Bhagwad Gita in Persian and Prof. Qasmi has traced 216 manuscripts. According to him, from Akbar’s reign to the middle of the 19th Century, “Ramayan” was rendered into Persian more than 50 times. The compiler has produced a list of 105 manuscript copies of Persian translations. “Yoga-Vasisth” was translated into Persian more than 15 times, and 80 manuscript copies are referred to by the compiler.

Almost all the fundamental works of India on history, archaeology, religion, mysticism culture fiction art, science etc. were rendered into or adopted in Persian. The output of such work during the Muslim rule was simply immense.

“Translations related to various aspects of Hindu religion and mysticism are preserved in Persian manuscripts. One hundred fifty-two manuscripts of such works have been recorded in the volume,” mentions Professor Qasmi. He also refers to Mirza Mazhar Jan-i-Janam, a famous poet and Sufi, who regarded the Vedas as divinely inspired and Hindus, who had their revealed scripts and prophet life other people of the Book as monotheists.

Mirza Abdul Qadir Bidel, the greatest exponent of Indo-Persian studied “Mahabharat” and “Yoga Vasistha” through, and Professor Qasmi also points out that Bidel’s well-known narrative composition “Irfan” drew its sustenance from “Yoga Vasistha”. “During the medieval period Hindu and Muslims scholars in India made their best efforts to help each other to highlight the basic features of wisdom and intellect of their homeland. It naturally led to create a congenial atmosphere to develop together peacefully,” concludes Prof. Qasmi.

Referring to Mohammad Bin Qasim, he quotes a work “Fath-Nama-I-Sindh” which mentions that Mohammad Bin Qasim had made it a point to fulfil cultural and religious aspirations of common people belonging to different religious and social classes. It made him extremely popular, and when Mohammad Bin Qasim died in prison in Iraq, the highly indebted people of Sindh built his statue in Karaj.

The professor’s works make it clear that whatever happened in the medieval India was not just peaceful co-existence, it was heartfelt and organised cooperation of Hindu and Muslims.

This monumental research has fetched Prof. Qasmi the prestigious “International Award” or “Majlis-e-Farogh-e-Urdu Award. The Award carrying a cash prize of Rs.1.50 lakh and a citation was announced by the chairman of the committee Mohammad Ateeq (Doha). The jury headed by eminent critic Gopi Chand Narang has chosen Prof. Qasmi for his unmatched erudition and scholarship and his relentless efforts to highlight the values that India stood for Qasmi’s books that number over two dozen, and scores of thoroughly researched articles, are braced to spell out the dynamics of assimilation and synthesis of Hinduism and Islam.

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Printable version | Oct 19, 2020 11:43:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/the-syncretic-link/article6317499.ece

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