Review of the Play (The Sons of Babur) by Salman Khurshid

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Review of the Play (The Sons of Babur) by Salman Khurshid

By Imam Al Sadig Al Mahdi


I commend the effort of this Sudanese University in honoring the writer of this play and organizing this encounter to review it. I found the play a highly readable entertaining, erudite and nourishing for thought.

It is also extremely relevant for the role image of India, for developing countries and indeed considering the importance of India, it acquires Global importance.

In spite of all the problems of the Indian Dilemma, India has come a long way to a World Brics Status. For us in the Sudan, the problem of unity and diversity, the problems of Religion and politics, the problems of a rereading of History to launder it from manipulation by the imperialists, are highly revealing.

There are 10 points on which I concur with the thoughts of the author, and four points on which I had reservations. However, nothing would detract from its useful message, and its artistic status as a type of educational entertainment. I think Zaim el-Azhhri University should get the author’s permission to translate it into the Arabic language.

Points of Concur

  1. The play throws a new light upon Babur, the founder of the Mughal Empire who saw India not as another conquest, but as a new civilization, from which he himself is excepted, but to which his son and heir Humayun he gifted. For that purpose he sacrificed his own life to save the life of the gift.
  2. A special and cardinal role was that of Akbar. A visionary who realized that they could subdue the Indians by the sword in battle, but I know we must find another way of capturing the Rajput heart. The several ideas from which this concept emerged: the Din-e-elahi, the Sulh-i-kul and the Majma-el- Bahrayn; have a similar aim. There was not enough theological backup to the enterprise. The strategy is commendable, but in some aspects the measures went too far.
  3. The reading of the role of Aurangzed as a founder of Decentralization is relevant to relations between the center and regions in a huge country like India.
  4. The most important rereading of Indian History is the image of the Indian Mutiny of 1857, as a rebellion which was not restricted to Muslims as the Imperialists maintained, but that it involved both Muslims and Hindus. In the words of the last Emperor, his hostility to the invaders, and his concept of the Mutiny, are part of a war of independence which started then and was completed later.
  5. A most important aspect of the play is that it never referred to Secularism. Peter Berger, one of the founders of the concept of secularism said that we made a category mistake; the link was not between secularism and democracy, but between democracy and plurality. Secularism’s main defect is the fact that it could lead to dictatorship as with communism, Nazism and fascism. It also rules out the occult. This simply devalues Human The play relies heavily upon the role of Sufism. From and Islamic point of view revelation plays its role but also inspiration. The fact that there is a spiritual universe implies that it has an important role in the Human enterprise. Even outside religious belief, extrasensory perception is part of Human experiences.  The great role for spirituality designed  by the play is in order.
  6. The comparison between the disappearance of the self in the non-self as a conduit to peace, and the fact that when people rule themselves as in a democracy so that there is no gap, is an interesting perception.
  7. It is interesting that the whole text made no reference to secularism. I believe that the concept is full of unacceptable connotations, the important and acceptable concepts are reason, freedom, and justice.
  8. The play rightly refers to the fact that the history of India has been manipulated by the imperialist and requires revision.
  9. Many of us when partition took place, hailed the creation of Pakistan and viewed the Muslims, who remained in India as if they betrayed Islam. For some time I have reconsidered that position advocating that Muslims everywhere should seek to coexist with others.
  10. Islam is a universal calling, and its ability to compete successfully is contingent upon certain principles and values. That is why it expanded into Asia and Africa peacefully without any state sponsorship. It is now the most powerful cultural force in the World. Islam flourishes with coexistence and religious freedom not by seeking to establish ghettos. The role cast by the play for the Mughal legacy in India makes that point stronger.

Points of Reservations

There are four points on which I have reservations. They are:

  1. Emphasis on Sufism as the conduit to toleration and Religious coexistence. It is true that Sufism is the most tolerant expression of However Islamic theology is well placed to accept the Human Rights Agenda, and the pluralistic Agenda. Imam Abu Hanifa said he who takes Sufism without theological knowledge goes astray, and he who pursues theology without Sufism loses direction, the truth is found when you combine them both.

The play gives no room for the development of theology in Islam.

  1. Although the play gives an important role to democracy, there is no mention of the fact that we owe that to modern Western Civilization. We need to balance what we reject in that civilization, and what we accept without any It is true western civilization is full of ethnocentrism. They regard Greek civilization as autonomous to Europe. However, it owes much to India, to Phoenicia (فنيقيا)   and Egypt. Also to Islamic civilization. But our modern enterprise in terms of Democracy, Economics, and Technology owes much to modern western civilization. Modern India has a combined heritage of Ancient India, Mughol India, and western India.
  2. The reference to Marxism requires review. In terms of dialectical materialism, of historical materialism, of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the ideology is discredited. However, it played an important universal role in emphasizing the importance of material factors, that political democracy without social justice is empty, that Nationalism must be tempered by Internationalism.
  3. The reference to Religion and culture as separate, or that sometimes they meet is inaccurate. Culture, civilization, do include in their definition a Religious content.

Finally, I say that such reservations do not detract from the great value of this play and the status of the writer. I suggest that Zaim-el- Azhari University should take his permission to translate it into Arabic to extend its unquestionable benefits.