Sunday, March 12, 2023

What's Achieved By Changing the Names of the Cities?

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 11 March 2023 “Kisi Shahar Ya Jagah Ka Naam Badalne Se Uss Ka Khameer Nahin Badalta." Shamsur Rahman Farruqi, in an Urdu daily when Allahabad was renamed as Prayagraj (By changing the name of a city or place, its spirit doesn't change). Now Aurangabad and Osmanabad in Maharashtra will be officially known as Chhatrapati Sambhaji Nagar and Dharashiv respectively. The reason behind changing the names is: Both were ' Islamic names ' as New India is out to remove even the remnants of Islamic history and heritage. But as the great Urdu critic Farruqi stated, can we also change the spirit of a place by changing its name? Here it doesn't matter that Aurangzeb was an out and out bigot who executed his elder brother Dara Shikoh, put his father Shah Jahan in the slammer, massacred Hindus and converted them to Islam. The ancestors of most of today's converts had to embrace Islam during the long regime of Aurangzeb. But that's all history. How long can we harbour rancour with the same intensity? If we apply the logic of bad Muslims, therefore, must be banished, then why don't we change the name of Bakhtiyarpur (a town close to Patna) which's named after one of the most infamous Muslim invaders Bakhtiyar Khilji? He vandalised the famous Nalanda and Vikramshila Universities at the end of 12th century, incinerated them and killed innocent monks. On the scale of cruelty and savagery, he was a much greater fiend than Aurangzeb. By the way, Bihar's Nitish Kumar hails from Bakhtiyarpur constituency. Changing Aurangabad's name at this juncture when it's an international destination for tourists across the globe because of Ajanta and Ellora, is a quixotic decision. If the current political dispensation is so full of hatred for all that's Islamic, can it completely wipe out many an Islamic vestige from all walks of life? For example, Aurangabad has been renamed as Sambhaji Nagar, son of Shivaji, albeit a poor and indecisive ruler. His illustrious father Shivaji, who's projected as the saviour of Hindus, never discriminated against Muslims and had four Muslim generals in his army. Ibrahim Gardi was in charge of ammunition and weapons. Shivaji himself could speak fluent Persian, a language of the invaders! Marathi has innumerable direct Persian words or words having Persian, Pahalvi and Turkish roots. So are many languages in India. Even Bangla has 150-odd words of Persian and Arabic origins. The Persio-Arabic words like ' Sangeen ' (serious, grave, not 'bayonet') is used in the same sense and context in Bangla. 'Tafaat' (originally 'Tafawat' for distance and distinction in Urdu/Arabic) is yet another Bangla word with Islamic roots. To paraphrase Surah-e-Rahman in the Quran, “How can we deny the impact of Islamic rule in the subcontinent?” It seeped so deeply into the collective consciousness that we cannot pluck it out. Coming back to the renaming of Aurangabad, barring hard-core Hindus, the rest of India will continue to call it Aurangabad. The city's ethos are in its erstwhile name and shall remain so. Instead of wasting time on such puerile pursuits, it's time to attend to other pressing needs like dwindling employment, rising inflation, abject hunger and Qaumi Ittihaad. Is there anyone listening? ------- A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to the world's premier publications in several languages including Persian. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

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