Tarikh-i-Habibi: I was Sure he Would Stab me at the First Opportunity: K.K. Muhammed
An exposition on the career of Marxist historian Irfan Habib from the early days
With the grace of the Almighty Allah and the boundless compassion of His Most Merciful Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him), we are greatly pleased to report that our pen has been endowed with renewed strength to present the second part of the partial chronicle of His Excellency, the most exalted Marxist record-keeper and the brilliant whitewasher of all the pious deeds that Islam undertook in this land of infidels, Hindustan: Irfan Habib bin Mohammed Habib.
The element that jumps out at you akin to an ugly visual daub when you study Irfan Habib bin Mohammed Habib’s sorry excuse for a career as a historian eerily resembles the model of almost all sultans and nawabs. Aurangzeb furnishes the prime example of this model in the manner in which he captured, sustained and retained political power: nothing was low enough. Aurangzeb actively hunted down every single ethic, scruple, virtue, and propriety and annihilated it in strict adherence to the pious guidance laid down in a desert about one thousand years before he became the sultan. Of course, Irfan Habib lives in a vastly changed time but some impulses are incurable. The quiet and highly understated scholar of history, J.K. encapsulates Irfan Habib’s rancid career in his inimitable fashion by citing the example of the renowned archeologist K.K. Muhammed’s damning revelations about Habib in his autobiography, I, an Indian.
In the historical scheme of things—pun unintended—K.K. Muhammed’s book is at least forty years too late. As I don’t tire of repeating, alleged historians like Irfan Habib have had a glorious free run and continue to remain unpunished for their encyclopaedic list of sins against three generations of Indian children. Exposes like that of K.K. Muhammed would’ve perhaps had greater impact had they been published when the likes of Irfan Habib were at the peak of their nation-wrecking power. The fact that they weren’t published back then in and by itself reveals the frightening extent of the lethal power they wielded over institutions. Even a comprehensive dénouement like Arun Shourie’s classic Eminent Historians, even today, is largely praised for its scandal value than as a much-needed manual cum guidebook for an all-out cleanup of the HRD ministry itself. At the very least, the HRD ministry should be split up into four distinct units and subject to a rigorous fat-burning regimen to reincarnate as a lean, mean, shredded, and highly optimal system of functioning.
Our research into the long and highly toxic career of Irfan Habib, the alleged scholar of history, affords us to divide it into four broad and distinct phases.
The first comprises his early years and rise to power in the history establishment as the worthy son of “whitewasher” Mohammed Habib at the Aligarh Muslim University.
The second involves his numerous stints as the Chairman of the Indian Council for Historical Research (ICHR), a role he performed with the acumen of a medieval Muslim tyrant.
The third is the society-wrecking part he played during the Ayodhya years.
The fourth is his unclothed emergence as slightly better than a street thug when he tried to physically prevent Kerala Governor, Arif Mohammad Khan from speaking at a public function. On the dais, no less.
Irfan Habib earned his spurs as a scholar of Mughal history with the publication of his The Agrarian System of Mughal India 1556–1707 in 1963. In itself, while the book is well-researched, it follows the selfsame model of the Shell and the Core laid down by his father, Mohammed Habib. It was also a tangential attack against and ploy to completely erase the original and irreplaceable contribution of Jadunath Sarkar. Prof Dipesh Chakrabarty describes the vile tactic in his typical academic tone as follows.
Not mentioning Jadunath Sarkar’s name in the context of Mughal history is akin to omitting the name of Bhagavan Veda Vyasa while writing about the Mahabharata or that of Maharshi Valmiki in the context of the Ramayana. Yet, not only did Irfan Habib get away with it, he was actually rewarded and promoted for it. Small wonder that we live in an India where Sri Ramachandra is a misogynist and Sri Krishna is a warmonger.
But there is also an oblique backstory to Irfan Habib’s years as a student at Oxford. This story is narrated by the other well-known Indian historian Tapan Raychaudhuri who earned a second doctoral degree at the same university. In his own words:
To repeat the obvious, Irfan Habib was awarded his doctoral degree by a colonial supervisor who, putting it mildly, was unqualified to even judge the work of his minion much less guide him in his chosen field of research. There you have. A former army Major supervising a specialized academic research, an eerie coming alive of Thucydides’ prophecy that
But speaking objectively, after India attained “independence,” these colonial scholars (in this case, a former army man of the British Raj) became the mentors of Indian students wanting to study the history of their own country. Indeed, the Raj’s grip on the psyche of its former colonial subjects remained firm as ever, and as we survey the field of Indian history research even today, this master-subject status has not only endured but has swallowed and spat out generations of culturally-impaired Hindus who celebrate their inferiority complex by spitting on fellow Hindus who are still rooted. One is reminded of a line that Stalin’s slave, Otto Katz told Arthur Koestler:
This applies one hundred percent to a range of deracinated Hindu nonentities that includes the likes of Romila Thapar, Meera Nanda, and Ramachandra Guha whose proudest transgenerational creations are Kanhaiya Kumar and Swara Bhaskar among other culturally-stunted kids.
But back to Irfan Habib, his new “model” of historiography was among other contributors to the nasty national project of rehabilitating and anointing the Islamic zealot Aurangzeb as St. Aurangzeb. This video is a small sample of the real-life consequences of said anointment: a Mullah-type gentleman declaring openly on television that “Aurangzeb hamara hero hai.” This would have been unimaginable even twenty-five years ago. Indeed, the trajectory of whitewashing > distortion>rehabilitation>justification>celebration of the worst mass-murderers and religious bigots in history has been rather swift in the last seventy years.
See why history-writing is so vital to national health, societal well-being, and civilisational continuity?
To be continued
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