Last updated on 14th Nov. 2015
I would like to first say that I believe in Shirdi Sai Baba's teaching of "Sabka Maalik Ek" (The master of all is ONE). In other words, I believe in ONE GOD with various religions including Islam being various paths/ways to worship and merge in that ONE GOD. Specifically, I am not against Islam, and am actually supportive of it, so long as it does not interfere in the right of others (like me, a Hindu) to practise their faiths which are different from Islam (e.g. Hinduism, Christianity, Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism, Judaism). Shirdi Sai Baba used to say "Allah Maalik" (Allah/God is the master) very often; I revere the same Shirdi Sai Baba,Here's an article from The Hindu today, 27th Sept. 2015, "Tipu Sultan: a secular internationalist, not a bigot", http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/tipu-sultan-a-secular-internationalist-not-a-bigot/article7692879.ece, by the chairman, department of political science at the University of Mysore, Prof. Muzaffar Assadi.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sai_Baba_of_Shirdi, and try to follow His teachings.
Tipu Sultan was an eighteenth century ruler in South India, based in Mysore, Karnataka.
In the article Prof. Assadi writes:
History is unkind to Tipu Sultan. The fact is that Tipu cannot be reduced to a singular narrative or tradition of intolerance or bigotry as he represented multiple traditions. He combined tolerant inter-religious traditions, liberal and secular traditions, anti-colonialism and internationalism. He could do this as he had strong roots in Sufism, which is not explored much by historians. He belonged to the Chisti/Bande Nawaz tradition of Sufism.
--- end small extract from article ---
Ravi: Well, I agree that it is not appropriate to reduce Tipu Sultan to a singular narrative of intolerance or bigotry. But to say that he was supportive of inter-religious traditions seems to go against what is stated in Wikipedia. I mean, we can accept that he persecuted and killed/converted to Islam, many Hindus and Christians, but had some other noteworthy and praiseworthy facets about him like valour in battle and some level of military genius.
I wonder whether Prof. Muzaffar Assadi can refute, in his capacity as an academic historian (I will be mailing this blog post contents to him), the following extracts from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tipu_Sultan:
In a letter to Runmust Khan, Tipu himself stated:
"We proceeded with the utmost speed, and, at once, made prisoners of 40,000 occasion-seeking and sedition-exciting Coorgis, who alarmed at the approach of our victorious army, had slunk into woods, and concealed themselves in lofty mountains, inaccessible even to birds. Then carrying them away from their native country (the native place of sedition) we raised them to the honour of Islam, and incorporated them into our Ahmedy corps."
Tipu sent a letter on 19 January 1790 to the Governor of Bekal (near Kasaragod), Budruz Zuman Khan. It says:
"Don't you know I have achieved a great victory recently in Malabar and over four lakh Hindus were converted to Islam? I am determined to march against that cursed Raman Nair (Rajah of Travancore) very soon. Since I am overjoyed at the prospect of converting him and his subjects to Islam, I have happily abandoned the idea of going back to Srirangapatanam now."
On the handle of the sword presented by Tipu to Marquess Wellesley was the following inscription:
"My victorious sabre is lightning for the destruction of the unbelievers. Ali, the Emir of the Faithful, is victorious for my advantage, and moreover, he destroyed the wicked race who were unbelievers. Praise be to him (God), who is the Lord of the Worlds! Thou art our Lord, support us against the people who are unbelievers. He to whom the Lord giveth victory prevails over all (mankind). Oh Lord, make him victorious, who promoteth the faith of Muhammad. Confound him, who refuseth the faith of Muhammad; and withhold us from those who are so inclined from the true faith. The Lord is predominant over his own works. Victory and conquest are from the Almighty. Bring happy tidings, Oh Muhammad, to the faithful; for God is the kind protector and is the most merciful of the merciful. If God assists thee, thou will prosper. May the Lord God assist thee, Oh Muhammad, with a mighty great victory."
[Ravi: Please note that it states, "Confound him, who refuseth the faith of Muhammad"]
Tipu is regarded to be anti-Christian by some historians. The captivity of Mangalorean Catholics at Seringapatam, which began on 24 February 1784 and ended on 4 May 1799, remains the most disconsolate memory in their history.
The Barcoor Manuscript reports him as having said: "All Musalmans should unite together, and considering the annihilation of infidels as a sacred duty, labour to the utmost of their power, to accomplish that subject." Soon after the Treaty of Mangalore in 1784, Tipu gained control of Canara. He issued orders to seize the Christians in Canara, confiscate their estates, and deport them to Seringapatam, the capital of his empire, through the Jamalabad fort route. However, there were no priests among the captives. Together with Fr. Miranda, all the 21 arrested priests were issued orders of expulsion to Goa, fined Rupees 200,000, and threatened death by hanging if they ever returned.
Tipu ordered the destruction of 27 Catholic churches, all beautifully carved with statues depicting various saints. Among them included the Church of Nossa Senhora de Rosario Milagres at Mangalore, Fr Miranda's Seminary at Monte Mariano, Church of Jesu Marie Jose at Omzoor, Chapel at Bolar, Church of Merces at Ullal, Imaculata Conceicão at Mulki, San Jose at Perar, Nossa Senhora dos Remedios at Kirem, Sao Lawrence at Karkal, Rosario at Barkur, Immaculata Conceição at Baidnur. All were razed to the ground, with the exception of The Church of Holy Cross at Hospet, owing to the friendly offices of the Chauta Raja of Moodbidri.
According to Thomas Munro, a Scottish soldier and the first collector of Canara, around 60,000 people, nearly 92 percent of the entire Mangalorean Catholic community, were captured; only 7,000 escaped. Francis Buchanan gives the numbers as 70,000 captured, from a population of 80,000, with 10,000 escaping. They were forced to climb nearly 4,000 feet (1,200 m) through the jungles of the Western Ghat mountain ranges. It was 210 miles (340 km) from Mangalore to Seringapatam, and the journey took six weeks. According to British Government records, 20,000 of them died on the march to Seringapatam. According to James Scurry, a British officer, who was held captive along with Mangalorean Catholics, 30,000 of them were forcibly converted to Islam. The young women and girls were forcibly made wives of the Muslims living there. The young men who offered resistance were disfigured by cutting their noses, upper lips, and ears. According to Mr. Silva of Gangolim, a survivor of the captivity, if a person who had escaped from Seringapatam was found, the punishment under the orders of Tipu was the cutting off of the ears, nose, the feet and one hand. Gazetteer of South India describes Tipu Sultan forcibly circumcising 30,000 West Coast Christians and deporting them to Mysore
Tipu's persecution of Christians even extended to captured British soldiers. For instance, there were a significant number of forced conversions of British captives between 1780 and 1784. Following their disastrous defeat at the 1780 Battle of Pollilur, 7,000 British men along with an unknown number of women were held captive by Tipu in the fortress of Seringapatnam. Of these, over 300 were circumcised and given Muslim names and clothes and several British regimental drummer boys were made to wear ghagra cholis and entertain the court as nautch girls or dancing girls. After the 10-year-long captivity ended, James Scurry, one of those prisoners, recounted that he had forgotten how to sit in a chair and use a knife and fork. His English was broken and stilted, having lost all his vernacular idiom. His skin had darkened to the swarthy complexion of negroes, and moreover, he had developed an aversion to wearing European clothes.
Tipu Sultan's invasion of the Malabar had an adverse impact on the Syrian Malabar Nasrani community of the Malabar coast. Many churches in the Malabar and Cochin were damaged. The old Syrian Nasrani seminary at Angamaly which had been the center of Catholic religious education for several centuries was razed to the ground by Tipu's soldiers. A lot of centuries old religious manuscripts were lost forever. The church was later relocated to Kottayam where it still exists to this date. The Mor Sabor church at Akaparambu and the Martha Mariam Church attached to the seminary were destroyed as well. Tipu's army set fire to the church at Palayoor and attacked the Ollur Church in 1790. Furthernmore, the Arthat church and the Ambazhakkad seminary was also destroyed. Over the course of this invasion, many Syrian Malabar Nasrani were killed or forcibly converted to Islam.
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Ravi: Sure, wikipedia does note his help to some Hindu temples too. However, the above extracts show that, by no stretch of imagination, can Tipu Sultan be referred to as supportive of inter-religious traditions. He seems to have helped some Hindu temples on occasion (as, I guess, he may have needed support of the majority Hindu subjects to provide agricultural and small scale industrial produce and give other support to his kingdom).
Update on 14th Nov. 2015: This Hindu article, One dead in clash over Tipu Sultan anniversary in Kodagu, http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/one-dead-in-stone-pelting-in-kodagu/article7864756.ece, dated Nov. 10th 2015, is very saddening.
After knowing about this sad incident, I felt it appropriate to delete the last two paragraphs of this blog post as I do not want to contribute, in any way whatsoever, to violence between Hindus and Muslims. If any brother Muslim reads this modified post of mine and has objections to contents of it, I request him to POLITELY express his views as a comment on this post. I assure such brother Muslims that I will treat it with all seriousness and try to respond to it. We should know the truth and not spread falsehood but we need not unnecessarily emphasize any truths about past Hindu rulers or past Muslim rulers which leads to increased tension between Hindus & Muslims.
I repeat my belief in Shirdi Sai Baba's teaching "Sabka Maalik Ek". There is only one God for both Hindus and Muslims which Hindus may refer to as Eashwar and Muslims refer to as Allah.
[I thank Wikipedia and The Hindu and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extracts from their website (very small extract from The Hindu article) on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]