Koenraad Elst: Negatisionism in India — Hiding the Real History of Islam

Here’s the transcript (starting around the 0:33 time stamp.)

The negationists of India are not just tolerated, they are effectively celebrated. For they are rewarded by the establishment and often placed in the top echelons of power. Once placed, they go about the task of rewriting history and conjuring up centuries of Hindu-Muslim unity… out of thin air!

Indeed, the Muslim conquests down to the 16th century were for the Hindus a pure struggle of life and death. Entire cities were burned down, the
populations massacred, hundreds of thousands killed in every campaign and similar numbers deported as slaves. Every new invader made often literally his hills of Hindu skulls. The Bahmani sultans made it a rule to kill 100,000 Hindus in a year. In 1399, Timur killed 100,000 captives in a single day and many more on other occasions.

The conquest of Vijayanagara in 1565 left large areas of Karnataka depopulated and so on. The American historian Will Durant summed it up as follows:

The Islamic conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. It’s a discouraging tale for its evident moral is that civilization is a precious good whose delicate complex of order and freedom, culture and peace can at any moment be overthrown by barbarians invading from without or multiplying within.

Yet these traumatic events of the past that pushed Hindu civilization to the
brink of extinction don’t find a place in the collective memory of the
inheritors of this civilization. The credit for this goes to the negationism
institutionalized by:

      1. Indian National Congress,
      2. Aligarh Muslim University and
      3. the Marxist historians.

The rewriting of history textbooks began even before India attained independence. The Congress supported the Khilafat movement with the aim of encouraging the Muslims to join the struggle for freedom but their strategy backfired by further intensifying the separatist tendencies among the Muslim community.

At that time, Congress leaders were not yet actively involved in the rewriting of history. They were satisfied to quietly ignore the true history of Hindu Muslim relations. After the communal riots of Kanpur in 1931, a congress report advised the elimination of the enemy image by changing the contents of the history books. Subsequent generations of Congress leaders would profess negationism very explicitly.

The second major source of negationism is Aligarh Muslim University, often described as the cradle of Pakistan. Unlike their more orthodox allies in the Deoband school, intellectuals of Aligarh found it difficult to reconcile their agenda of modernizing the Muslim community with the blood-stained history of Muslim rulers.

Around 1920, Aligarh historian Muhammad Habib launched a grand project to rewrite the history of the Indian religious conflict. The main points of this version of history are as follows:

      1. Trivializing the original accounts of Islamic chroniclers describing the slaughter of Hindus, the abduction of their women and children and the destruction of their places of worship by calling these accounts as exaggerations.
      2. Downplaying the religious zeal of the conquerors by attributing the loot and plunder to economic motives.
      3. Bringing in the racial factor and portraying the barbarism of the conquerors as unrelated to the doctrines of Islam.
      4. The violence of Islamic warriors was portrayed not to have played an important role in the establishment of Islam in India.

These arguments cannot stand the test of historical criticism. We can demonstrate this with the example of Mahmud Ghaznavi, who ravaged the lands of Gujarat, Sindh and Punjab.

Ghaznavi was a Turk yes but certainly not a barbarian. He patronized the arts and literature and was a fine calligraphist himself. The barbarity of his campaigns cannot be attributed to his ethnic stock nor did he care for material gains. He left the rich mosques on his path untouched and even turned down a Hindu offer to give back a famous Idol in exchange of a huge ransom. “I prefer to appear on Judgment Day as an idol breaker rather than an idol seller.”

The final boost to negationism was delivered by the Marxist historians who took over the reigns of India’s educational and research institutes and built a reputation for unscrupled history writing, in accordance with the party line. They took negationism to a whole new level. For Marxists like Bipin Chandra, communalism is not a dinosaur, meaning that it is a strictly modern phenomenon. They explicitly denied that before the modern period, there existed such a thing as Hindu identity or Muslim identity.

Even now, negationism in India is practiced with the utmost prowess by historians and writers under the spell of Marxism. It would be wrong to expect that it will die a natural death because it has become a deeply entrenched bias and a thought habit for many people. Children usually survive their parents and negationism will survive Marxism for some time unless a serious effort is made to expose it on a grand scale.

Read more, think critically, gather the courage to face the truth. Even the
Upanishads say Satyameva Jayate, the truth shall prevail.

I am Koenraad Elst for Upword.

Categories: Islam

15 replies

  1. How does this square up with the economic prowess of India throughout the period of Islamic conquest?


    • I am not sure that I quite follow what you mean by India’s economic prowess. Please elaborate. Thanks.


      • We were leading the world economically till the British period, even though our per capita income was low, as you have argued.
        If there was slaughter on such maasive scale as Dr Elst states, then how come it didn’t adequately reflect in our economic performance?
        Is it that our economic leadership of the world was really a saga of failure of others?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Nazi Germany was an economic powerhouse when they were slaughtering Jews. Modern China is torturing Uiyghyrs while being economic powerhouse. South Africa discriminated against Majority Blacks while being economic powerhouse.

          Message – You can be economic powerhouse while being involved in genocide.


        • Keshav, so is it your contention that the massive slaughter of Hindus by Muslim invaders did not happen (as claimed by Dr Elst) based on India’s economic condition during that period?


          • The slaughter of the scale that Dr. Elst mentioned would certainly have disrupted and even destroyed the economy. The population figures then were not even in crores I suspect.


            • I suppose you have detailed historical records of the economic variables of India from that period. I don’t trust economic data that is based entirely on conjecture and assumptions, and no on records. What India’s GDP was centuries ago is liable to be educated guesses, not on records. The Islam slaughter, however, is based on records. Many of these records are from the invaders themselves, and also corroborated by other contemporary observers. I don’t know the details but judging from how contemporary Islamic countries treat non-Muslims, I would easily believe that in centuries past, they were much more ruthless.

              Dr Elst’s main point in the video was about “negationism” that is characteristic of contemporary Indians. It’s the attitude that the horrors of Islamic invasion either did not happen, or it was a minor matter that we should not bother about. Your attitude is typical of negationism even though you are probably not a Muslim (although I may be wrong about this.) Many non-Muslims consider it a sign of virtue to claim that Islam is peaceful and the Muslims have not committed the atrocities and genocides that historians have documented. It’s puzzling.

              Since you appear to know more than is known by the average person about the scale of Islamic terror centuries ago in India, I suggest you make suitable edits to the wiki page on “Persecution of Hindus“. Here’s an excerpt that needs to be corrected:

              Mahmud of Ghazni
              Somnath temple in ruins, 1869
              Somnath temple in ruins, 1869
              Front view of the present Somnath Temple
              Front view of the present Somnath Temple
              The Somnath temple was first attacked by Muslim Turkic invader Mahmud of Ghazni and repeatedly demolished by successive Muslim invaders, each time being rebuilt by Hindu rulers.
              Mahmud of Ghazni, Sultan of the Ghaznavid empire, invaded the Indian subcontinent during the early 11th century. His campaigns across the Gangetic plains are often cited for their iconoclast plundering and destruction of temples. Mahmud’s court historian Al-Utbi viewed Mahmud’s expeditions as a jihad to propagate Islam and extirpate idolatry.[23][24][25] Mahmud may not have personally hated Hindus, but he was after the loot and welcomed the honours and accolades in the Islamic world obtained by desecrating Hindu temples and idols.[26] Of his campaign on Mathura, it is written:

              Orders were given that all the temples should be burnt with naphthala and fire and levelled with the ground. The city was given up to plunder for twenty days. Among the spoil are said to have been five great idols of pure gold with eyes of rubies and adornments of other precious stones, together with a vast number of smaller silver images, which, when broken up, formed a load for more than a hundred camels.[27]

              The loot from Mathura is estimated at 3 million rupees and over 5,000 slaves.[27]

              According to British historical writer Victoria Schofield, Sabuktagin, the Turkish ruler of Ghazni and father of Mahmud, “set as his goal the expulsion of the Hindus from the Kabul valley and Gandhara, as the vale of Peshawar was still called. His son and successor, the Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni, continued his work, carrying the so called ‘holy war’ against the Hindus into India”.[28] According to some sources (like Ibn Batuta[29]) the name of the Hindu Kush mountains of the region means “Hindu killer”,[30][31] because raiders would capture Hindu slaves – all Indians were termed Hindu in Islamic literature – from the plains and take them away to West Asia, with large numbers of boys and girls dying from icy cold weather in these mountains.[32][33][34]

              Mahmud of Ghazni sacked the Somnath Temple in 1026, looted it, and destroyed the famous Shiva linga of the temple.[35] Following the defeat of the Rajput Confederacy, Mahmud set out on regular expeditions against them, leaving the conquered kingdoms in the hands of Hindu vassals annexing only the Punjab region.[36] Alberuni, a historian who accompanied Mahmud of Ghazni, described the conquests in North Western India:

              Mahmud utterly ruined the prosperity of the country, and performed there wonderful exploits, by which the Hindus became like atoms of dust scattered in all directions, and like a tale of old in the mouth of the people.[37]

              He wrote that Mahmud impoverished the region and that the civilisation of the scattered Hindus declined and retreated from the North West.[38]

              This is the reason, too, why Hindu sciences have retired far away from those parts of the country conquered by us, and have fled to places which our hand cannot yet reach, to Kashmir, Benares, and other places.[37]

              Delhi Sultanate
              Delhi Sultanate, which extended over 320 years (1206-1526 AD), began with raids and invasion by Muhammad of Ghor. Recurrent clashes between Hindus and Muslims appear in the historical record during the Delhi Sultanate.[39]

              Mohammed Ghori (1173-1206 AD)
              Mohammed Ghori raided north India and the Hindu pilgrimage site Varanasi at the end of the 12th century and he continued the destruction of Hindu temples and idols that had begun during the first attack in 1194.[40]

              Qutb-ud-din Aibak (1206-1287 AD)
              Historical records compiled by Muslim historian Maulana Hakim Saiyid Abdul Hai attest to the religious violence during Mamluk dynasty ruler Qutb-ud-din Aybak. The first mosque built in Delhi, the “Quwwat al-Islam” was built with demolished parts of 20 Hindu and Jain temples.[41][42][43] This pattern of iconoclasm was common during his reign.[44]

              Khalji dynasty (1290-1320 AD)
              Religious violence in India continued during the reign of Jalaluddin Firoz Shah Khalji and Allauddin Khalji of Khalji dynasty.[45] Their army commanders such as Ulugh Khan, Nusrat Khan, Khusro Khan and Malik Kafur attacked, killed, looted and enslaved non-Muslim people from West, Central and South India.[14][46] The Khalji dynasty’s court historian wrote (abridged),

              The (Muslim) army left Delhi in November 1310. After crossing rivers, hills and many depths, the elephants were sent, in order that the inhabitants of Ma’bar might be made aware of the day of resurrection had arrived amongst them; and that all the burnt Hindus would be despatched by the sword to their brothers in hell, so that fire, the improper object of their worship, might mete out proper punishment to them.

              — Amir Khusrow, Táríkh-i ‘Aláí[47]
              The campaign of violence, abasement, and humiliation was not merely the works of Muslim army, the kazis, muftis and court officials of Allauddin recommended it on religious grounds.[48] Kazi Mughisuddin of Bayánah advised Allauddin to “keep Hindus in subjection, in abasement, as a religious duty, because they are the most inveterate enemies of the Prophet, and because the Prophet has commanded us to slay them, plunder them, and make them captive; saying – convert them to Islam or kill them, enslave them and spoil their wealth and property”.[48]

              The Muslim army led by Malik Kafur pursued two violent campaigns into south India, between 1309 and 1311, against three Hindu kingdoms of Deogiri (Maharashtra), Warangal (Telangana) and Madurai (Tamil Nadu). Thousands were slaughtered. Halebid temple was destroyed. The temples, cities, and villages were plundered. The loot from south India was so large, that historians of that era state a thousand camels had to be deployed to carry it to Delhi.[49] In the booty from Warangal was the Koh-i-Noor diamond.[50]

              In 1311, Malik Kafur entered the Srirangam temple, massacred the Brahmin priests of the temple who resisted the invasion for three days, plundered the temple treasury and the storehouse and desecrated and destroyed numerous religious icons.[51][52]

              Madurai Sultanate (1335–1378)
              Moroccan traveler Ibn Batuta described the cruel behaviour of the Madurai sultan Ghiyas-ud-Din Muhammad Damghani, in his memoirs. His army routinely rounded local Hindu villagers and impaling and decapitated them, indiscriminately with women and children being included.[53][54] Ibn Battuta expressed shock and revulsion with the comment, “this was an abomination which I have not known of any other king. That is why God hastened his death.”[55] The Vijayanagar princess Gangadevi also described the atrocities of the Madurai Sultanate towards women and children.[56]

              Tughlaq Dynasty (1321-1394)
              After Khalji dynasty, Tughlaq dynasty assumed power and religious violence continued in its reign. In 1323 Ulugh Khan began new invasions of the Hindu kingdoms of South India. At Srirangam, the invading army desecrated the shrine and killed 12,000 unarmed ascetics. The Vaishnava philosopher Sri Vedanta Desika, hid himself amongst the corpses together with the sole manuscript of the Srutaprakasika, the magnum opus of Sri Sudarsana Suri whose eyes were put out, and also the latter’s two sons.[51][57][58][59]

              Firuz Shah Tughluq was the third ruler of the Tughlaq dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate. The “Tarikh-i-Firuz Shah” is a historical record written during his reign that attests to the systematic persecution of Hindus under his rule.[60][page needed] Capture and enslavement was widespread; when Sultan Firuz Shah died, slaves in his service were killed en masse and piled up in a heap.[61] Victims of religious violence included Hindu Brahmin priests who refused to convert to Islam:

              An order was accordingly given to the Brahman and was brought before Sultan. The true faith was declared to the Brahman and the right course pointed out. but he refused to accept it. A pile was risen on which the Kaffir with his hands and legs tied was thrown into and the wooden tablet on the top. The pile was lit at two places his head and his feet. The fire first reached him in the feet and drew from him a cry, and then fire completely enveloped him. Behold Sultan for his strict adherence to law and rectitude.

              — Tarikh-i Firoz Shahi[60][62]
              Under his rule, Hindus who were forced to pay the mandatory Jizya tax were recorded as infidels and their communities monitored. Hindus who erected a deity or built a temple and those who praticised their religion in public such as near a kund (water tank) were arrested, brought to the palace and executed.[60][63] Firuz Shah Tughlaq wrote in his autobiography,

              Some Hindus had erected a new idol-temple in the village of Kohana, and the idolaters used to assemble there and perform their idolatrous rites. These people were seized and brought before me. I ordered that the perverse conduct of this wickedness be publicly proclaimed and they should be put to death before the gate of the palace. I also ordered that the infidel books, the idols, and the vessels used in their worship should all be publicly burnt. The others were restrained by threats and punishments, as a warning to all men, that no zimmi could follow such wicked practices in a Musulman country.

              — Firuz Shah Tughluq, Futuhat-i Firoz Shahi[64]
              Timur invasion of India (1398-1399)
              Main article: Timur

              Liked by 1 person

            • Thanks for the reference.
              My attitude is not of a negationist, but of a skeptic. I was not claiming that slaughter didn’t happen. I was doubtful whether it happened. I believe its healthy to routinely a hang a question mark to the statements that we hear or read.


            • I think what you are doing is “motivated reasoning.” I recommend the good Dr Haidt on that point.


            • That’s an unfounded conjecture.
              You have said similar things before without any foundation. Whatever makes you suppose that I am sympathetic to Islam or that I want people to believe that Islam is a kind of religion of peace is beyond me. Perhaps you’re superimposing hypocrisy of others on me through your inductive experience.

              Speaking of historical records, there is historical evidence to show that although the initial Islamic invaders were violent who destroyed temples and indulged in slaughtering Hindus, many later ones were not. Tipu Sultan, for instance, had a very cordial relationship with Shankaracharya of Kanchi, and the present Shankracharya of Kanchi retains 30 letters of exchange with Tipu. In one of these letters Tipu Sultan says that it is because of the blessings of the great saint Shankaracharya that his kingdom has prospered, there are good rains, people are happy, etc. Just next to the palace of Tipu Sultan still exists a huge, old Shiva temple. You may also see in reference to Tipu a speech made by Professor B. N. Pandey in Parliament titled ‘History in the Service of Imperialism.’

              Islamic rulers used to give annual grants to temples. Cow slaughter was banned throughout the Mughal rule, including during the rule of Babur and Aurangzeb. The Nawab of Avadh, Wajid Ali Shah, who was a Shia respected Hindu sentiments. Once Holi and Muharram fell coincidentally on the same day on the same day. After taking out the tazia and burying it in the karbala in Lucknow, he enquired why Holi was not being celebrated. He was told that since Holi was a festival of joy, while Muharram was an occasion of sorrow, Hindus had decided not to celebrate Holi that year out of respect for the sentiments of their Muslim brethren. On hearing this the Nawab declared that since Hindus had respected the sentiments of their Muslim brethren, it was the duty of Muslims also to respect the sentiments of their Hindu brethren. He then announced that Holi would be celebrated the same day throughout Avadh, and he himself was the first to play Holi, although it was also Muharram day.

              There are several such cases.
              It was in the interest of Islamic rulers to respect Hindus in order to rule over them for long. They had Hindus in their court with important positions. This is also evidence.

              I am no expert on history and, in fact, I usually stay away from it precisely because of the huge literature that exists with almost inverse narratives and opposing conclusions. I occasionally indulge into it like I did with a question on your blog. But evidently, you think that whoever opposes certain narratives which you hold dear is a dhimmi or person indulging in motivated reasoning and what not.


            • Thanks Keshav for admitting to this in the very least notwithstanding those very interesting qualifiers such as “initial Islamc invaders” & “many later ones”. Now, they say that “samajhdaar ko ishaara kaafi hota hain”. Maybe perhaps you now want to can stay on topic (i.e. negationism) & introspect on your own attitude towards this blog post.

              “Speaking of historical records, there is historical evidence to show that although the initial Islamic invaders were violent who destroyed temples and indulged in slaughtering Hindus, many later ones were not”


  2. The negationists of India are basically virtue signaling …. Dr Haidt of course has been shining a light on it for some time.
    Virtue Signaling in Indian context can be summed up like this
    … “Look at all these barbarians who hate on Muslims (or even mention Muslim atrocities as a historical fact) .. as opposed to me the enlightened, liberal more evolved human being”


  3. The issue may become clear if one asks some counterfactual questions. Here are a few:
    -Did the Turkic invaders come to India from around 1000 AD and visited temples because they wanted to learn more about the local religion called Sanatana Dharma?
    -Was the said invaders’ primary motivation to make Indian population prosperous with increase in GDP?
    -What new manufacturing was established by the foreign visitors since the industrial revolution has not yet happened in Europe?
    -Were the invading armies instructed not to cause harm to civilians, especially women and children?
    -After settling down in India, did the occupation forces granted equal rights to the natives and mixed freely with them celebrating festivals?

    PS. Some of this may apply to European explorers who came later.


  4. @Koenraad Elst: “The credit for this goes to the negationism institutionalized by: Indian National Congress, Aligarh Muslim University andthe Marxist historians.”

    Did Nehru gloss over or ignore the Muslim invasions and the associated atrocities in his Discovery of India? If so, It was deliberate misrepresentation of history.


  5. I could not get much from the academic lecture by Dr. Jonathan Haidt video above. I stopped after a few minutes and went to Google. This is what I gathered.

    Motivated reasoning is an emotion-biased decision-making phenomenon studied in cognitive science and social psychology. The processes of motivated reasoning are a type of inferred justification strategy which is used to mitigate cognitive dissonance. When people form and cling to false beliefs despite overwhelming evidence, the phenomenon is labeled “motivated reasoning”.

    Examples of motivated reasoning:
    the Apollo moon landing was a hoax;
    climate change is a hoax;
    evolution is a hoax;
    9/11 was an inside job by the Bush administration;
    Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11;
    the Holocaust didn’t happen;
    AIDS is not caused by HIV;
    vaccines cause autism;
    Barack Obama was not born in the United States


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