Saturday, 28 January 2012

Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai-East India Company(2)

This is in continuation of our article Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai. Before discussion the poetry of Shah and East India Company,it is necessary to write some about the colonization of this continent and other Islamic world to understand the factual position and situation.A Malaysian scholar, Mr. Abdullah al-Ahsan writes:-
 European colonization of the Muslim world began following the expulsion of the Muslims from Spain and with the Portuguese capture of Goa (1510) on the Indian coast and Malacca (1511) in the Malay Peninsula along with aggressive Portuguese activities in the North and East African coasts. The Portuguese believed that in order to gain commercial supremacy over the Indian Ocean, it was necessary to occupy and control certain strategic point in the region. They were reported to have been making at least 500% profit with the imported goods bought from Asian markets. This attracted other European countries to the region. By the beginning of the seventeenth century the European trading companies became more organized: the Dutch, the French and the British formed East India companies as joint stock enterprises along with many other similar companies. These companies were all supported by their government who competed against each other for gaining commercial privileges from local rulers in Asia and Africa. 
 Muslim rulers do not seem to have been concerned about the interference of European countries in the affairs of Muslim countries However, in the 1680s when the British East India company attempted to capture Bombay (now called Mumbai), a major trading centre on the coast of India, the powerful Mughal emperor Aurangzeb (r. 1657-1707)? cancelled all the concessions granted to the British. Therefore, as a historian of the British India Company put it:
 . . . “The Company was forced to go on bended knee to Aurangzeb and ask his indulgence with respect to continuing Company trade with India. Fortunately, as far as the Company’s future was concerned, Aurangzeb took the view that the English were nothing more than an irritant in the greater imperial scheme of things . . . the Company had to issue abject apologies . . . unfortunate incidents were forgotten and trade relations returned to normal”. 
There were many reasons for the East India Company to apologize to the Indian emperor: the Indian trade had already become the backbone of the British economy. In fact, all European countries were making huge profits by selling eastern goods in European markets. In the seventeenth century the British East India Company was making at least two hundred percent profit and made substantial amounts of loans to the British government.  As a result of colonization of the Muslim countries all of these had been put under the influence of un-Islamic Laws/ rules. All the fields of Islamic society had been affected adversely. Abdullah al-Ahsan writes:-
The French in Algeria replaced the Muslim land owning people by settlers from French itself. The change of elite under the French colonial system occurred through the introduction of a new education system. The process of a new education system also, however, began under the British rule in India.
The western rulers had launched a campaign to Christianize the population of colonization especially the Muslims.(Source-Islamic Studies,37:1-Spring 1998-pp29-55-IRI Islamabad)
The cultural activities had been affected as under:-
The Orient- list attack on Islam was subsequently supported by activities in the field of culture. The gatemen and waiters in colonial offices, messes, and clubs were made to wear the dress of the Muslim aristocracy. High ranking titles of Muslim armies such as subadar or jamadar were given to junior and non-commissioned officers or even to sweepers or cleaners in colonial armies. Books history and literature highlighted Muslim weaknesses. Muslim contributions and achievements to human progress tended to be ignored and Muslim heroes were often portrayed as villains. Missionary and government schools were established to indoctrinate the students according to colonial needs. Graduates of traditional Muslim institutions, on the other hand, were totally neglected. This dealt a death blow to the traditional Muslim educational system. For the Muslim educational system, as mentioned earlier, was patronized either by the ruler or by private individuals. The economic ruin of the community now brought ruin in the fields of education and culture.
Economic Impact of Colonization. The said impact was found in colonize regions as under:-
Economic Impact of Colonization.                                                                                                                                          The early impact of colonialism on Afro-Asian economy was devastating in the true sense of the word. We have indicated earlier about the way wealth was transferred to Europe from Asia and Africa. The colonialists not only resorted to what might quiet legitimately be called the looting of the available wealth, but by the end of their rule the Asian and African countries were made completely dependent on European economies. It must be pointed out here that no Afro-Asian country was under foreign debt before the colonial era. Romesh Dutt, a civil servant of the British Indian government, says:
. . . The sources of national wealth in India have been narrowed under British rule. India in the eighteen century was a great manufacturing as well as a great agricultural country, and the products of the Indian loom supplied the markets of Asia and Europe . . . The East India Company and the British Parliament . . . discouraged Indian manufacturers in the early years of British rule in order to encourage the rising manufacturers of England.
The Islamic Education(from 20th century)
Shari’ah and its teaching as law were marginalized in the universities during the colonial period. The Western scholars of Islamic law predicted a gradual disappearance of the subject from the university curricula. This did not happen. On the contrary, during the last century, Islamic law has become one of the most significant and often popular subjects on the campuses in Muslim countries. The number of faculties, colleges and institutions that teach Islamic law has increased. Organizations dealing with Fatwa, training of Shari’ah judges and research on Islamic legal subjects have multiplied. The volume of publication on Islamic law is overwhelming; journals, dissertations and conferences about the Shari’ah are abounding. Islamic law is no more confined to the four walls of the courts, or to the class room of madrasahs and universities. Its application to the economy-banking, business transaction, insurance, mortgage and other financial and commercial institutions-has brought Islamic law to the open streets of the market. (Islamic Studies 44:2 Summer 2005,pp 165 onward( Islamic Research Institute, I.I.U,Islamabad-By Muhammad Khalid Masood).
Next we will discuss the activities of the East India Company with reference. to Poetry of the Shah.
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Friday, 27 January 2012

SHAH ABDUL LATIF BHITTAI(1689-1752)Politics and economics views in his poetry. economy

The most celebrated and loved of SINDHI poets,Shah Abdul Latif Latif(born in 1101 A.H-1989/1690 A.D in a village of Hyderabad District-Pakistan)ranks among the select band of the world's great poets who are honoured and cherished as the national poets par excellence of the language in which they wrote or composed--S.Q Fatimi writes"Sorely seems tsuggest that like Kant and Hegel the Shah lived in his contemplative ivory tower.But that is palpably wrong. for the shah was constantly on the move and he moved among the masses,and sang of the masses, and for the masses.And for that,matter,let us not forget, even Kant and Hegel were the precursors of the revolutionary thought of Karl Marx. When Asif Ali Zardari was released in the Mashraf Government, he has  mentioned with great concern that he has been deprived from (due to imprisonment)to teach his children the poetry and thoughts/teachings of Shah Latif..This historically important statement to pay homage to this revered poet,is worth mentioning to note here.It is derived from these words delivered from Mr.Zardari now the President of the Pakistan,that the poetry, work, construction and teachings therein are very important and valuable for us.The children are now named perhaps following the tile of his"Sur Bilawal". BUT DURING THE LIFE OF THIS GREAT SAINT,IN THE PAST....

Political Situation:

It was time of anarchy ,the Sufi poet lauded his voice,when the Pyrrhic victories of the Aurangzeb(r-1658-1707) has gone into"nothing". The vast , well-established social and fiscal web has been broken into pieces. After the assassination of Nadir Shah Afshar the new unlike set up was being made. Fatimi and historians write"The Sind had become a chattel,. changing hands among the alien parvenus.The local elite consisted of the pirs and the mirs who had entered into an unholy alliance against the peasants,herdsmen,fishermen,traders,and labourers of the land. The local elite found, in the popular appeal of Shah's poetry, a challenge to their own authority. The ruling Kalhoro,who claimed both the temporal and spiritual overlordship,made a number of sneaking attempts at the assassination of the innocent Sayyid Sufi Poet. Other holy houses of Sind including his own Mut'allawis were not far behind in conspiring against him.

All his life he himself fought and urged his followers to fight against hatred with love;against self-aggrandizement and lust with benevolence and grace; against violence with peace;against religious fanaticism with the Qur'anic dictum (no compulsion in religion--2:256)and(for you your religion and for me mine-109:6);against parochialism with the Sufi message of pluralism of (unity in diversity).On the positive and comprehensive side,for that throbbing and pulsating nationalism that is over arched by universal ism(Islamic Studies IRI). It is  necessity of the time that we have to follow these teachings for our survival. 

Shah the Economist of His Time

It is an accepted truth that the poet has the sufficient geographical knowledge. Interestingly ,Schimmel(d2003) called his Sur Sarirag(III,11)"the first geographical poem in Sindh".About his knowledge and interest ,Advani,writes"In Sur Sri Rag and Sur Samoondi,Shah refers to the commercial enterprise of Sindhi merchants, the commodities in which they dealt,the places with which they had commercial ties, the sea routs they followed in their ventures,the seasons during which they traveled and the various type of boats and vessels then utilized for commercial purposes. In several "Surs" he makes a mention of some of the important ports and also of the stations where taxes were charged. We also get from some Sure" an idea of some of the land routes and the wares exchanged between Sind and other countries" The sufi poet also tells us the hazards in these trades. It is derived from his poetry that "The perils of the Arabian Sea were no less serious than the hazards involved in commercial enterprises undertaken to far-flung harbors.he says.----The boat of the frail ones is entrusted to Thy care,,O Lord mayest Thou lead it safely to Porebandar...The Muslim scholars were aware from the risk involved in such a trade. Ibn Abidin(d1836)and his successors had witten on Sookara-Security(Insurance) .

Not only the ocean was tempestuous in itself--the'tempests blowing over it added to its wrath and fury.It was lure of pearls that inspired Sind merchants to sail for far-off places like Aden and breast all manner of dangers with courage of the heart and faith in God.The luster of gold attracted then to Ceylon and further far-flung realms.This great poet had given his prophetic warning and foresight about the effects and dangers from the East India company(it will be discussed).

In several"Sures" ,Shah has thrown light on the wealth of Sindh, luxurious life of its aristocratic families and munificence of its rulers. The way in which royal ladies adorned their persons and the way in which rulers lavishly lived and patronized humble men is amply illustrated in these"Sure"He says e.g---As roses,so their garments--Their ringlets were dipped in oil of Jasmine--..The ears of the Lovely One were decked with silver and gold.--The golden damsels played freely with silver.

In Sur Kamod-,Parbhati and Sur Bilawal", we have evidence(may be in an exaggerated from)of the enormity of the munificence and patronage of Sing monarchs.The Sufi poet had used the word farangi/firangi(Frank) which epitomizes all the bitterness that the easterners felt towards their western colonizers.

(Ref.Shah Latif by K.B.ADvani-Islamic Studies IR& others).Part-2 of it is regarding, Shah and East India Company.

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