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India: Class XI history textbook ’Themes in World History’ in divine trouble

Thursday 20 September 2012, by siawi3

From: Mail Today, 19 September 2012

Painting trouble now for NCERT

By Ritika Chopra in New Delhi

BARELY a week after putting an end to the cartoon controversy, the National Council of Educational Research and Training ( NCERT) seems to be staring at another in the making.

This time, the spotlight is on two paintings reproduced in a Class XI history textbook titled Themes in World History.

The Shahi Imam of Fatehpuri Mosque, Mohd Mukarram Ahmed, has written to human resource development minister Kapil Sibal asking for the removal of a medieval painting of Archangel Gabriel ( on Page 79) and another of pilgrims at the Kaba ( Page 80) from the chapter ‘ The Central Islamic Lands’ on the ground that they are against the Sharia law.

According to sources, the ministry had sought a response from the NCERT on the complaint and the textbook development committee ( TDC) for history has already replied.

The letter, dated September 10, has also been sent to Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit, education minister Kiran Walia and NCERT chief Parvin Sinclair.

“ Jibril ( Gabriel) is the chief angel who brought messages to the Prophet. The painting in the book is comical in its presentation of the Archangel. Secondly, the caption for the illustration on pilgrims at the Kaba states that they are ‘ touching’ the stone even though it’s customary to kiss it. But the Jibril painting is the most objectionable and will not be tolerated,†Ahmed, who is also planning to write to the PM and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, said.

Sinclair told MAIL TODAY : “ The paintings have been procured from a reputed sourced and have been made by people of the Islamic world. Having said that, we take all opinions seriously and the complaint will be taken up during the textbook’s review.†According to Najaf Haider — associate professor at the Centre for Historical Studies at JNU who was a member of the TDC — the Gabriel painting was sourced from a 13th century text called Ajaib- ul- Makhluqat , written by a renowned scholar, Kazrini. The second illustration was taken from a 15th century collection of fragmented pieces.

Haider said the NCERT’s book is the only history textbook in the country that has a chapter on Islam. He said: “ The letter only states the paintings are against Sharia and doesn’t exactly point out what’s objectionable about them. Moreover, these texts ( from where the paintings are sourced) were written in Muslim courts by people who were far more scholarly and pious than anyone can claim to be today.â€