The first time, I have heard positive things about Aurangzeb were from Professor Shakil Samdani of Aligarh Muslim University. He and I spoke at Asim Siddqui Memorial college in Badaun, and during our drive from Aligarh to Badaun, we had good conversation and was taken back to hear positive things about Aurangzeb, that he did not harass Hindus as was given to understand.
In June this year, I wrote a piece on pulling down the confederate flag as it represented a sad part of our (American) history, and a few days later it was pulled down. Now, the name of the street in New Delhi meets a similar fate, Aurangzeb Road is changed to Abdul Kalam Road. Wrongfully or rightfully Aurangzeb represented a symbol of cruelty to fellow Indians who are Hindus.
We the Indians have collectively bonded with hate for the tyrants from the past, we had many rulers who were tyrants, but somehow, a few kings are remembered with intense dislike, two of them were Aurangzeb and Ghazni. They have been symbols of friction between Hindus and Muslims and have been invoked in communal riots. Of course, you will find at least two Kings in every religion who were tyrants towards their subjects whether they were Hindus or Buddhists.
A few Muslims and Hindus may disagree with me, and that I welcome it as a part of learning to respect the otherness of others in a democratic set up. I believe Muslims are sick and tired of being blamed for the acts of Aurangzeb; they are blamed as if they committed the crimes! Even if I were a grandson of Aurangzeb, should I be harassed for his acts? Should your parents be persecuted for your acts? Aurangzeb was for himself, like all other Kings be it Hindu, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist or other kings and he does not represent a Muslim in a democracy.
I hope this is a catalytic event to rename the road from Aurangzeb to Abdul Kalam does well for the Hindu and Muslim psyche. I pray that those few Hindus who carried the burden find Mukti from it, and Muslims have nothing to lose from it.
However, not the moderate majority of Hindus, but the extreme right wing among them needs to question if what has been told to them makes sense. Is there a joy in destroying things that bear Muslim names for them? Does Hinduism teach this? What is next? Is the RSS hell bent on messing up with our history, do they represent the values of Hinduism? Is Hinduism Hijacked? I know the feeling, the moderate Muslims are still fighting the tiny puny group of extremists among us, now the Hindus have that fight on their hands. Do they believe in live and let live or live with hatred for Muslims. Hinduism does not teach anything they are practicing.
It would be bad for India, if the extremists among Hindus want a pound of flesh, and want to turn our history upside down. My friend Dr. Zafar Iqbal pointed out in a conversation that Aurangzeb would not give in to the British, so the British resorted to divide and rule and figured out a way to place a wedge between Hindus and Muslims by writing falsities about Aurangzeb.
However, together as Indian Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Buddhist and others, we need to preserve our heritage and faithfully guard our history. We must remove the hate for each other and live like equals - that is the right dharma.
Let this change of name bring relief to our Hindu friends and remove apprehension for Muslims, that they can live freely without being blamed for Aurangzeb and no more griping and no more flipping the world upside down. Let’s get it over and move forward.
Articles worth reading:
1. Aurangzeb vs Kalam, full article at http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2015/09/aurangzeb-vs-kalam-indian-express.html
3. Why we should oppose Aurangzebing of Aurangzebhttp://thewire.in/2015/08/30/why-we-should-oppose-the-aurangzebing-of-aurangzeb-9549/
7. Moguls were never against Hinduism