May 2024

Mandate for peace

Dear Sirs

As a regular reader of your magazine, I appreciated the piece in your April edition, ‘Inclusion, not division’, about the launch of a book explaining the reality of Ghazwa-e-Hind and debunking certain interpretations of Islam that seem to poorly understand that faith.

Two points that were not referred to in the article, however, are important, I believe.

For the many people I have heard claim that Ghazwa-e-Hind has already happened in India, when Muslim rulers from Central Asia invaded through Sindh from the thirteenth to the eighteenth century, please can it be noted that, while the invaders were Muslims, they did not aim to conquer in the name of Islam, but rather to get their hands on India’s great riches. So it was a material more than religious act, and so cannot be defined by the terms Ghazwa-e-Hind.

The second point is that there is no unique call or reason for the conquest of India in particular, as Islam prescribes conquest of all places to bring them under Islamic rule, and commands to fight war are not specific to any named nation or land.

Still, I enjoyed reading the overall messages of the book and the wise comments made by the attending panel of scholars and writers. Especially pertinent in these terrible times was MJ Akbar’s assertion that ‘the only mandate we have been given is to live in peace. We have not been given the mandate to kill’.

G.B. Dar

Bradford, West Yorkshire

Must democracy change to survive?

Excellent editorial in your April issue on the prospect of a second Trump presidency, what it might mean for Asia and the Indo-Pacific region specifically and the wider world in general, and what action can be taken.

The counsel that failing democracies mean the Indo-Pacific should foster greater independence and take more responsibility for its security could not be more timely, and I only wish we in the UK could do the same, in light of the direction of travel in which one of our chief allies may be heading, and our woefully declining defence budget.

Moreover, the writer’s critique that the ‘traditional [democratic] establishment… has done nothing to reform those institutions’ that have allowed ‘divisive, populist figures’ such as Trump to win elections is on the nail – not only the US electoral college system mentioned, but also the ludicrous first-past-the-post system that politicians of Britain’s two main parties cling to, despite its blatant unfairness and undemocratic nature.

‘Unless it takes a lead and adapts, the Indo-Pacific risks losing control of its own destiny.’ I would go one step further and add that this statement could equally apply to modern democracy itself.

 Theodore Sutherland

Oxford

 

Open options in the Indian Ocean

Thank you to Mr Amit Agnihotri for his astute piece on China’s expansion into the Indian Ocean region, and the importance of that region for energy and other types of security. Ultimately, while countries such as Sri Lanka have had bad experiences with China over ‘debt-trap diplomacy’, and India understandably wants to keep an eye on the ‘Chinese checkers’ in the Indian Ocean, all nations will inevitably incline towards those that will help them most economically, or at least keep all options open.

 

SR Perera

Sheffield

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