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Of Saffron Flags and Skullcaps

Of Saffron Flags and Skullcaps
Hindutva, Muslim Identity and the Idea of India

First Edition

May 2018 | 328 pages | SAGE Select

We live in an age when most Muslims take pride in singing Saare Jahan Se Achcha, penned by Muhammad Iqbal. Many though have forgotten that the same poet-philosopher called Ram as Imam-e-Hind. The Hindutva forces, meanwhile, have forgotten the unifying Saare Jahan Se Achcha in their pursuit of divisive nationalism. Their exclusionary politics stems from a mindset of self-limiting segregation: a world of ‘we’ and ‘they’, a world where a Muslim man is lynched for refusing to say ‘Vande Mataram’.

Of Saffron Flags and Skullcaps attempts to trace the growth of the Hindutva ideology from the time of V.D. Savarkar and M.S. Golwalkar to the contemporary age, and how it precedes any talk of Muslim appeasement. Faced with these existential challenges, the Muslim community is involved in simultaneous churning within where the words of Islamic scholar and teacher Farhat Hashmi are bringing about a silent change at the grassroots level. Amidst all the challenges, the idea of India, often challenged, continues to show the way to a nation looking for direction.

Foreword by Dr Nirmala Lakshman
The Idea of a Hindu Nation
Hindutva and Hindu Nationalism

Hindutva Precedes Appeasement

URA: Hindutva and Hind Swaraj

Hindutva and Women

Hindutva and Dalits

Rediscovering National Icons
Integrating Sardar Patel

Appropriating Bhagat Singh

Co-opting Dr Ambedkar

Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay: Not Quite an Icon

Madan Mohan Malaviya: Early Hindu Nationalist

Understanding RSS and Fringe Elements
RSS and Nationalism

RSS and the Tricolour

The Myth of the Holy Cow

Cow Protection Movement

Gaurakshini Samitis Turn Senas

Raksha Dals, Then and Now

Majoritarianism and Nationalism

Nation from the Historical Lens
M S Golwalkar and Irfan Habib

Conflict and Conciliation: Bipan Chandra’s World

Babur Nama

Gopal Gandhi’s Dara Shukoh

Akbar as the New Age Aurangzeb

Revisiting Aurangzeb

Being Muslim
I Am the ‘Other’

The Other as the New Normal

The First Muslim

Extraordinary Tales of Muslim Women

Not Easy Being a Muslim

Muslims in Indian Cities

Muslims of Delhi and Jammu

Jamaat and Religion
Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind

A Muslim Leader Against Partition

Jamaat-e-Islami Hind

Tablighi Jamaat

Sufism: Is It Islam?

Aslam Parvaiz: One-man Movement

Jihad and Ijtihad

Fatwa on Terrorism

Islam and Practices
Triple Talaq and Khula

Women’s Right to Divorce

A Woman Leads Friday Prayers

Muslim Women and Masjid

Night of the New Moon

Madrasas and Farhat Hashmi

Conversion and Reconversion

Not Being the Other
Noor Zaheer’s Heresy on Hearsay

Of Peace and War

A Mockery of Satire

Everybody an Immigrant
Innocent Acquitted, but How?

Once Framed for Terrorism, Now a Symbol of Nationalism

A Humanist Despite Being Called a Terrorist

Hashimpura: Chak De! India

Sir Mohammed Iqbal

Rearming Hinduism

Reality of Conversions

Uniform Civil Code

Age-old Glue: Commonalities in Faith

India for Indians



This book is a must-read for every Indian. It brings out the frightening growth of religious communalism in India, which threatens to tear apart the delicate fabric woven by the Indian people over the centuries. Yet the author is optimistic that what will endure is this very practice of the Indian people living together for centuries evolving a syncretic, plural, multi-cultural society which our nation builders tried to promote as the ‘idea of India’.

Aditya Mukherjee,
Professor of Contemporary History, Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

This is a searing exposé of the violence, hatred and narrow communal prejudices that are integral to the Hindutva DNA. In tracing the trajectory from Savarkar to Modi, Ziya Us Salam shows that nothing has changed and how, therefore, our secular nationhood is currently threatened. He sums up by explaining how the Muslim community might best meet this challenge through internal social reforms. A balanced account with a wise ending, I would highly commend the book to general and specialist readers. 

Mani Shankar Aiyar,
Author of Confessions of a Secular Fundamentalist

This book by Ziya Us Salam tells us about the twists and turns in the history of our country during the recent years, especially during the period of Modi regime. He has a lot to say about the Hindutva phenomenon, the issue of cow, mob lynching of Muslims, engineered communal riots, the Muslim identity, the politics of triple talaq and so on. The author has written about these and several other related issues with his characteristic elegance, felicity and persuasiveness.... The book is a must-read for understanding India’s current predicament.

D N Jha,

Ziya Us Salam’s Of Saffron Flags and Skullcaps: Hindutva, Muslim Identity and the Idea of India is a timely work which tries to grapple with a burning issue which is seminal to the survival of the concept of a secular nation as envisioned and guaranteed by the Constitution of India. Salam not only deals with the growth of Hindutva ‘Nationalism’ which in the present day is trying to appropriate some of the foundational philosophies of people like Sardar Patel, Bhagat Singh and Dr Ambedkar, but also exposes those who are trying to propagate a divisive agenda where the ‘other’ is tried to be demonized. Through this work Salam makes an attempt to put the ‘idea of India’ back on its secular rails and show how Muslims are an important component of this nation, historically and otherwise.

Professor Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi,
Chairman & Coordinator, Centre of Advanced Study, Department of History, AMU, Aligarh

A thorough, multi-faceted and clear-eyed historical account of relations between Hindus and Muslims of the Indian subcontinent: Ziya Us Salam has produced a much needed up-to-date analytical narrative which, rightly, warns against the rise of majoritarian Hindutva under the garb of nationalism. A timely book to inspire all those who uphold India’s traditional unity in diversity.

Dilip Hiro,
author of Indians in a Globalizing World: Their Skewed Rise

This book is a bold and frank account of the transformation of the relationship between Muslims and the Indian nation. It questions the civilized denial about the antagonistic othering of Muslims and their marginalization. It tells us that the disenfranchisement of Muslims and destruction of the secular project of the Indian freedom struggle did not happen overnight. Set in a period when the RSS started capturing all institutional, cultural and political spaces, the book observes and registers different episodes of the gradual decline and fall of the idea of India shaped by Gandhi, Nehru and Ambedkar.

Apoorvanand Jha,
Professor, Department of Hindi, University of Delhi

This is a searing exposé of the violence, hatred and narrow communal prejudices that are integral to the Hindutva DNA…. A balanced account with a wise ending, I would highly commend the book to general and specialist readers.

Mani Shankar Aiyar,
Author of Confessions of a Secular Fundamentalist

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