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The last mogul

It is easy to forget that Muslims ruled the democracies of Greece and India until the 1800th century.


[history] Islam stagnated in the 1300s. The claim is repeated so often that it soon becomes true. It comes not only from history-less immigrant skeptics, but also from bin Laden followers who long for an idealized golden age. The 1300th century is set as a time difference because of the magical year 1492. Then Columbus found the shortcut to America, paving the way for Western colonialism. At the same time, the Spanish queen excluded Jews and Muslims from the Iberian Peninsula and put an end to the 500-year-old Moorish kingdom.

1492 was a year in which power began to shift from east to west, but Muslims were not pushed off the "plunge" by a falling curve. Well, on the contrary. Forty years earlier, Ottoman Turks conquered the city that used to be called Constantinople, today Istanbul. It was the start of a kingdom that included Anatolia, Southeastern Europe, the Caucasus, the Middle East and parts of North Africa in the 40th century. From the 1600th century to 1500 Greece was ruled from Constantinople. The Ottomans almost succeeded in conquering Vienna in 1831.

More examples: Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country, found its religious preferences in the 1300s. The Mongol empire lasted for a few hundred years until 1405, covering almost the entire area between East Asia and Central Europe. It includes some of today's most populous countries, such as China, India and Russia. Although the realm only existed for a few hundred years, its influence lasted a long time. The clearest example is the influence of the moguls on India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan (the word "mogul" derives from "Mongol").

The traveling painter and historian William Dalrymple has made it a life mission to portray this period. In the White Mughals of 2002, he tells the story of the British James Achilles Kirkpatrick, who converted to Islam so that he could marry an Indian princess. His latest book is The Last Mughal. The Fall of a Dynasty, Dehli, 1857, based on a review of the over 20.000 documents in Persian and Urdu that mention the Indian rebellion against the British in 1857. A rebellion that signaled the beginning of the end of the cultural kingdom. The documents are in the National Archives in Dehli and have so far been left untouched.

"These have, for the first time, made it possible to look at the year 1857 and the city of Dehli from an Indian perspective, and not just from a British perspective, as has been the norm until now," writes Dalrymple. The year is 2007, and we in the West can for the first time read a balanced rendering of a world historical event. If you have read about this dynasty before, you have probably learned that this last mogul was a barbaric man desperate for British formation.

The truth is that Bahadur Shah Zafar II was a learned Sufi thinker, a gifted calligrapher and poet. He was one of the most "talented, tolerant and respected" in the Mughal dynasty, according to Dalrymple. Even today, he is considered one of the greatest Urdu poets of all time. We can call it primitive, but name one modern Western leader who is known for his philosophical and poetic abilities?

For periods of history, most of the world has been ruled by Muslims. The exception is, to simplify, the United States and Western Europe. It is no coincidence that this is where ignorance of Islam is most prevalent. Bin Laden appears to be equally poor in information, but he knows what he is doing: Spreading feelings of inferiority and vengeance.

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