on hearing and saying “Khuda Hafiz,” “Allah Hafiz” grates on my ears. I don’t
understand, why sub-continental Muslims have suddenly begun to use this Arabic
expression. This utter ‘Arabification’ (a term coined by the legendary
orientalist, the late Edward W Said) of Islam, in almost all its facets, hasn’t
even spared a language like Urdu, which belongs to Hindus as well as Muslims.
Islam was born in Arabia, but it spread to all parts of the globe embracing the
ethnic and linguistic ethos of the countries and continents it reached.
is an Arabic word and nowhere in the Quran does one find Khuda for the
almighty. Khuda is a Persian word, but even the rabidly ethnocentric Arabs
didn’t mind saying Khuda Hafiz. Even today, one gets to hear Khuda Hafiz in
Saudi Arabia, the Middle East and North Africa, where Arabic is the predominant
language. So why this insistence on Allah Hafiz rather than the innocuous Khuda
Hafiz among the Muslims of the sub-continent?
Arabs don’t say Allah Hafiz. They say “Ma’ Assalamh, Fi Salamatillah, Fi
Hafiz has been coined on the metre of Khuda Hafiz by non-Arabic speaking
sub-continental Muslims. My point is: does language have anything to do with
religion? The Uyghur Muslims of China, Chechen Muslims of Russia and
Bangladeshi Muslims speak Chinese, Russian and Bengali respectively, not knowing
Arabic at all.
the spirit of a religion that binds people together transcending all other
a Muslim addresses Allah by one of his 99 names or by a name not mentioned or
prescribed in the holy books shouldn’t make any deference.
same insignificant issue of whether or not to use Khuda Hafiz arose at
Al-Azhar, Cairo, long ago. The great blind scholar of Quran, Taha Hussain
dismissed the whole issue in his inimitable style by saying, “A child calls his
mother by so many names and also ‘coins’ new words for his/her mother and she
invariably responds. Does she ever say why haven’t you called me mother?”
Muslims of the sub-continent (especially Indian Muslims) are actually a
finding it increasingly difficult to relate to the country they’ve laid down
their lives for haven’t been very favourable from the perspective of a Muslim.
9/11 drastically changed the whole world’s perceptions about Islam and its
followers. They began to be looked down upon.
ghettoised community oen coins newfangled terms, ideas, identities and idioms
as ideo-lingual measures of defence to thwart a humongous challenge, observed
French social-theorist, Michel Foucault. Circa 2003, the Muslims of Bangladesh
coined this exasperating Allah Hafiz and the jarring practice caught on. Now,
at this juncture, there’re some Muslim ‘scholars’ who only talk of the Wahabi
Islam of Saudi Arabia as the most pristine and correct form of Islam. Anything
outside Arabia is a kind of interpolation that amounts to blasphemy. “We, the
Muslims, must adhere to our Arab roots and we cannot aord to sever ties with
our origin” — this mentality has got itself entrenched into the collective
psyche of Indian Muslims and they’ve started to look towards Arabia for all
Dean Rusk’s observation — “this rather ill-conceived dependency has le them
‘religiously rootless’ and in such an uncertain state, a follower always tries
to revert to his ‘roots’” — helps us partially understand the sudden transition
from Khuda Hafiz to Allah Hafiz by the subcontinental Muslims At the same time,
recent linguistic tussle within the ambit of Islam has worked insidiously.
Though Khuda Hafiz is not exactly frowned upon by the Arabs, an undercurrent of
the supremacy of Persian and Arabic languages has always existed right from the
inception of Islam, which came into being a little over 1,400 years ago.
Persianisation and Arabification of Islam have occurred simultaneously in the
history of Islam.
trends are always influenced by linguistic hegemony. Indian and sub-continental
Muslims, not knowing Persian and Arabic like native speakers, have always been
a linguistically confounded lot. They themselves couldn’t decide the finesse of
both the languages living on the sub-continent. So, the simultaneous emergence
of the petro-dollar economy and the upsurge of Arab culture impacted the
Muslims of the sub-continent.
(Quran) language being Arabic and Saudi Arabia being the custodian of Islam’s
two holiest mosques in Mecca and Medina, anything related to Arabs, their
culture and language appealed to the Muslims in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
According to a few contemporary scholars of Islamic Theology, Allah is the
holiest word in Islam and Khuda comes second on the scale of ‘Divine
Profundity’. So, sub-continental Muslims thought that it would be in the
fitness of things that Khuda be dropped and Allah be embraced more and more in
daily conversation to be called a Momin (a true Muslim).
Article: Changing Muslim
Psyche: Allah Hafiz vs. Khuda Hafiz
Paul is a scholar of Sanskrit and Semitic languages, civilizations and
Headline: From Khuda Hafiz to Allah Hafiz
The Deccan Herald
It has been a very successful marketing ploy by the keepers of the two shrines in converting the simple straightforward Code of human life as propagated in their own languages by all the Reformers; into an Arabic language based, Arabian religious church, and Arabia originated monopoly business, just because the reformer Muhammad was born an Arab.
Mankind failed to be one nation as Allah/ Khuda/God … etc, wanted mankind to be, simply because it ignored the Message and embraced the nationality of the Messengers.
In the hands of master marketeers the mystique and mystery of religions are potent pills that lulls the intellect.