Home > India, Indian Economy, Oil, Religion, Social Trends > Oil was not well in Hyderabad

Oil was not well in Hyderabad

Middle East oil riches moved Indians Muslims also towards ‘purer’ Islam.

The fig leaf of oil riches covered the intellectual bankruptcy of the Middle East. (Cartoon by Bob Gorrell; 2009; source and courtesy - time.com). Click for larger image.

The fig leaf of oil riches covered the intellectual bankruptcy of the Middle East. (Cartoon by Bob Gorrell; 2009; source and courtesy - time.com). Click for larger image.

Growing up in Hyderabad

A burkha (hijab) in Hyderabad (earlier capital of the Nizam State; India’s largest non-British city; with 40% Muslim population) was a rare sight till the early 70’s. From mid-70s, burkha (hijab) usage started gathering steam. Used to modern Western discourse based on Islamic demonization, it may appear far-fetched, but the Hyderabadi Muslim of 1960’s was more ‘modern’ and ‘liberal’ than today’s ‘Hindu’ – a development with many nuances and qualifications.

If one dusts a few Urdu periodicals from more than a century ago, several episodes of women’s rights movement can be found having roots right here in Hyderabad.

A debate on women’s liberation was raging in Hyderabad in the 1880s, reveals noted scholar on Islamic affairs Anwar Moazzam. The first Urdu journal on women, ‘Mu‘allimi-Niswan,’ published from Hyderabad, had initiated a heated discussion on the subject which was followed by an agitation on the issues of pardah (veil) and rights for Muslim women. There were several voices raised against the practise of pardah. The other magazines that carried forward the debate in the early decades of the 20th century were ‘Tahzib-i-Niswan’ and ‘Ismat.’

“But no systematic study has been taken up on this subject due to lack of access to the periodical data. There are several other insights available in this source (Urdu periodicals) in the Indian cultural tradition,” he remarked.

Moazzam, former head of the department of Islamic Studies at Osmania University, said that while he was working on the preparation of catalogues on Urdu books he found that journals in Urdu have never been researched for political, social and cultural issues.

Giving background of the Urdu Documentation Centre (UDC) project, he said it began in 2002 with sponsorship from a consortium of US universities led by the University of Chicago under the leadership of its bibliographer James Nye. The cataloguing work was taken up first at the Sundaryya Vignana Kendram and then at the State Central (Asafia) Library. (Women’s lib was hot topic in city in 1880s).

Oil wealth

After the 1973 Oil Embargo, the oil riches, the glitzy infrastructure boom of the Middle East, had a profound effect in Indian Muslims. The new found power by the Islamic Middle East made the Indian Muslim proud about his religious identity.

For the general Indian, the Middle East was the answer to the slow Indian economy. In an economy of shortages, an over-valued Indian currency, the Dubai allure was irresistible. It was the passport to wealth and abundance.

It took another 10-15 years for Indians to discover the underbelly of Dubai. To an average Indian, the prospect of slow career growth in Dubai, limited growth opportunities, the discrimination between the Western expatriates and Indians (and others) had a telling – and chilling effect. The Indian-Muslim, expecting a warm welcome in sandy climes, found a sneer instead.

Low RPM engine

As the Indian economy slowly started revving up in the 1980′s – starting with consumer electronics and auto-sector de-licensing, Indians found a new modus vivendi with Dubai and himself. The nineties saw this trend only become more pronounced. The Arab ‘sheikh’ marrying poor girls from Hyderabad peaked during this period.

In the last 10 years, as Saudi debt ballooned, Dubai’s problems also became apparent. Just as it was apparent, and Quicktake pointed nearly 3 years ago, that wheels are coming off Dubai. Most oil producing countries, are now living at the edge.


The Indian Muslim in the meantime, has also come a full circle.

The colonial-era myth of ‘Muslims were the erstwhile rulers of India’, has weakened. The few ideological acolytes of Jinnah in India, have wilted in the face of a imploding Pakistan. To this combination, add an anti-Islamic West and declining Middle East. This has forced Deoband to admit that

for Muslims, there is no better country than India, no country in which Muslims are doing as well as they are doing in India. Our complaints, our objections, our problems exist, and we will continue to fight our fight for justice, but in other countries the situation is much worse.

For most Indian Muslims, the Middle East sheen, by this time, has worn off. Increasing incomes in India and stagnant incomes in the Middle East- and the circle is complete.

  1. October 27, 2011 at 4:44 am

    no country other than india is better for muslims.. yet for the muslims, they could live without the sense of victimisation.. i am skeptical of deobandi admission..

  2. October 27, 2011 at 5:25 am

  3. October 27, 2011 at 5:31 am
    Indian migrants to UK/USA are in search of better economy. They were Indians first – and retain cultural links.

    Most Indian Muslims were also Indians first – and started following Islam in different regions at various times, for different reasons.

    Indian Muslims are not foreigners – except a small minority. There is no logic for any pride by Indian Muslims, in the ‘achievements,’ of the Middle East, such as they are.

    This extra-territorial pride in religious identity, is precisely the reason why religion is a creation of the Desert Bloc – and has been used by the Desert Bloc to further their hold on their political and economic power.

    This extra-territorial pride in religious identity is also the reason, why religion is viewed suspiciously.

  4. x
    October 27, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    when it comes to muslims, Anuraag Sanghi, for some reason, becomes all dreamy.

  5. masculineffort
    February 24, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    Hmmm! I think Islam is ready for a renaissance. According to several sources, it seems that, at the times of the crusades, the Muslims were urbane, suave, sophisticated and liberal, while the Christians were the frothing at the mouth fanatics, ready to go to war at the drop of a hat. After the Mongol invasions, Hulagu Khan’s sack of Baghdad, the destruction of their library at Alexandria, something changed. They lost their liberalism and retreated into a shell.

    My father served in the Indian army and his feeling towards Muslims used to be less than romantic. He used to be wary of Islam. All that changed after he spent some time in Dubai. Now, he has warm feelings towards Arabs and the Islamic religion as well. Friendly, liberal people he says. Jihad, he now believes is really an internal war between one’s evil nature and one’s good nature. Satan he believes is nothing more than the impulses towards evil. Angels nothing more than the desire to do good. He is optimistic that one day, the Muslims will be as liberal and open as Western Christians are today.

    Anuraag, I know you still think of Westerners are Barbarians who have not changed in the last 200 years, but I think this is because you have not interacted personally with them. I can vouch at least for common Americans. They are very decent, wonderful and warm people. Their government, is of course a different matter altogether.

    Let’s hope our Muslim Brothers get their renaissance and really understand what Islam actually is. Let us hope that Jihad is not really different from the Buddhas battle against Mara (The eternal battle between ignorance and wisdom).

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