Arun Shourie’s thoughts on M.F. Hussein

One of my favorite writers is Arun Shourie and in one of his books he praised M.F. Hussein (the über painter who had to flee India and settle in the UAE for painting some major Hindu goddesses naked) instead of criticizing him (Arun Shourie is the so-called right-wing, anti-Muslim intellectual — I don’t believe that). He said that by merely becoming a painter he has taken on the repressive tenets of Islam that forbid its followers from pursuing any form of art. Therefore, since he is already a pariah in his own community, there is no need for Hindus to chastise him.

16 thoughts on “Arun Shourie’s thoughts on M.F. Hussein

  1. Suvro Chatterjee

    Let’s leave alone all the silly and politically motivated controversies, Amrit: do you really think Hussein is such a great painter, really, and is your opinion based on a wide and deep study of art? I won’t express any personal opinions here, but he started out by painting cinema hoardings, you know, and I happen to know very quiet and sensible art critics who strongly believe he should have stuck to that petty but not dishonourable trade. In the hope of getting recognition as a serious artist, he has deliberately done crude and stupid things to attract wide public attention, and sometimes that attention has become more than he can happily handle, maybe! He keeps reminding me of Salman Rushdie, many of whose books would never have been bought and read if it were not for the controversies he generated by saying quite nasty and unnecessarily vulgar things about Islam, its proponents and their ways of life…

  2. Alok

    I agree to Suvro. Hussain is nothing but one who does things for cheap popularity. Two wrongs don’t make a right. His being critical of Islam does not give him right to paint nude hindu godess.
    Even if you are a atheist, there ways to express yourself. Not like Hussain.

  3. Amrit Hallan

    Suvro, Alok, although I agree Hussein is a mediocre painter promoted by people who don’t exactly understand art, I have a different point of view when it comes to Salman Rushdie, especially the Satanic Verses. I’ve got a PDF version of the book with me and although the controversy was, in a twisted sense, beneficial to him, he had no need to resort to such gimmicks. Before writing this “controversial” book he had already made a name. Comparing Salman Rushdie with M.F. Hussein, at least in this case, seems a bit odd.

    Salman Rushdie at least had the guts to go against one of the most fundamentalists religions by allegedly speaking again Allah. M.F. Hussein is always going the easy way. It’d be interesting to see what his imagination can conjure one when it comes to depicting Muslim religious subjects.

  4. Rohit

    May be M.F. Husain has read Bhuwan Thapaliya’s poetry ” Patriotism”, where he wrote that he is not the citizen of any nation, but the global citizen of his own imagination.

  5. Sarfaraz Ali khan

    Talking of Hussein as far as Islam is concern we condemn the portrait of any nude paintings as far as Arun Shourie is concern definitely he will say in for Hussein because he is doing something which is forbidden in Islam which is natural for him but still we say that may Allah give him Hidayat (knowledge) and do research on the only scientific religion on the face of earth. I want to ask all those people who say in for Hussien as his paintings are “Freedom of expression” I want to ask those people even I want to draw a nude paintings of their mother, daughter or their wife will they allow me to do so.if know i would consider them to be the biggest double standard people on the Earth.
    As far as Salman Rushdie’s “Satanic Verses” is concern many Hindus think that people of Islam only objested to the teaching of Islam but my Hindu friend’s dont know what name Salman has used for their Sita Maiya and their “Bhagwan Ram” they have absolutely no idea. Salman call’s Sita as a lady dog (B****) and your “Bhagwan Ram” the SOB (SON OF B****) thats why Islam says before you say anything first do research on what you hear then put it forward.

  6. mahesh

    are u calling ur islam (suicide bombing factory) scientific!. stop looking at every mundane thing in life through the prism of religion. while it may not be true that islam is as fanatical as it appears so overwhelmingly to be, considering the sheer number of muslim killers masquerading as jehadis. however the narrow myopic view
    of mr khan here does provide a lot of support to to people who claim that islam is an irrational religion of bigots

  7. Sarfaraz Ali khan

    I greet u all through my Islamic greeting Assalaamwalekum ( May peace and mercy of Allah be on all of you)
    Thanks alot Mahesh for bringing up that question.My question to you is how do u judge a religion? Is it on the basis of the followers or on the basis of the Scriptures? If you judge on the basis of followers then surely based on few black sheeps which is there in every religion you can say Islam is a (suicide bombing factory) but let me tell you what Islam has to say about the suicide bombers. It says ” who so ever kills an inocent person muslim or non-mslim has as if killed the entire humanity” and it further says “whosoever saves a life whether muslim or non muslim he has as if saved the entire humanity”, there are black sheeps among every community, u dont judge a religion on the basis of the person who dont even know what the scripture says, they are just brainwhashed in the name of ‘Jihad’ saying that if they are killed in fight in the name of Islam then they go to “Jannat” but they fail to realise what the scripture speaks in context and what exactly the word Jihad means.The word Jihad means To strieve against your own nerve that means that if something is attracting you which is against the law of Allah and you restrict yourself from doing that means JIHAD and the MEDIA says that it is a holy war but again that is lack of knowledge just like what Arun Shourie had quoted in his book; That ALLAH says, do jihad and where ever you find “Kafirs” (non-believer) kill them, he never explained why was the word “Jihad’ was used during the war when the muslims were fighting against the Mushriks (non-believers) of mecca. The Quran says that when the Kafirs wage for war dont be afraid do jihad means defend yourself by fighting against them and if you are killed dont worry u will surely go to JANNAT and the Quran further says listen to this beauty of Quran, if the KAFIRs want refuge NOT ONLY FORGIVE THEM BUT TAKE THEM TO PLACE WHERE THEY ARE FULLY SECURED. I bet any scriptures says this. If I had judged a religion on the basis of followers then definiteley the originator of suicide bombing are the Hindus because the first suicide bombing was used by the Tamil Tigers I hope u have heard of them do we say that it is being taught in their religion. ULFA according to research by Indian Govt they recorded 749 confirmed bomb attacks. Secondly, Hitler I hope u have herad this name who was a Christian, killed 6 millon jews, which is a shame itself to the entire humanity, do we say that this is being taught in Christainity no its is absolutley a wrong concept to judge a person on the basis of its followers, mate you are just a small fish who has come in the nets of media. People are full of misconceptions regarding Islam and I would say this is because of us that we never spoke about Islam and this was the first order by ALLAH to guide people to the right path and we didnt we kept it to ourselves and this is what it happens when you dont follow the Orders of ALLAH. So follow the rules of the creator and be on the right path may ALLAH show you and the entire humanity to the right path.AMEEN.

  8. mahesh

    my dear mr khan’
    at the outset, i apologise for the wrong usage of words. i actually donot mean any disrespect to islam, in fact, i place it on equal footing as hinduism.
    there lies the problem. both are imperfect. is the bible, ved or the torah any less or more then the quran? all are maybe creation of men. maybe not. but one cannot believe tobe chosen over the other.
    if a man leads a good life than why should mere rejection of faith put him in eternal fire (sura III. 116).
    my suggestion to u, my friend, is to keep your mind open for contradiction as its only natural.

  9. Sarfaraz Ali khan

    I greet u all through my Islamic greeting Assalaamwalekum ( May peace and mercy of Allah be on all of you)
    Mahesh my friend dont apologise to me I am just a follower see you had a concern I just tried to clear your doubts and I dont feel bad when people critisize Islam or its followers because it gives me a chance to earn a righteous deed by explaining to them and clear their concept of thinking.
    Now coming to your view point I fully agree with you with your concept about choosing your faith,again, then I ask you a question you this must be really irratating that I ask Mr Khan a question and instead of answering me he comes up with another question LOL well jokes apart, my question is since you choose a faith which according to is correct but according to me is wrong and the faith which I choose in accordance to me is correct but according to you is wrong so, who will decide whose faith is correct? Now you see a muslim is not a muslim untill he believes in other revelations the four revelations. Apart from Quran the final revelation we have to believe in the TORAH which was given to prophet Moses(PBUH). The Psalm which was reveled to prophet David (PBUH) and the INJEEL reveled to Jesus Christ (PBUH) and then ALLAH says that their is not a single tribe or a nation where I have not sent my revelation and if you read other scriptures then u will find that all the scriptures says the same basic rule SAY:HE IS ALLAH THE ONE AND ONLY;ALLAH, THE ETERNAL ABSOLUTE;HE BEGETTETH NOT, NOR HE IS BEGOTTEN:AND THERE IS NONE (sura IKHLAS) HOLY QURAN 112:1-4 and if i m not mistaken u r a Hindu by faith now this is what the UPNISHAD says “Ekam evadvitiyam”
    “He is One only without a second.”
    [Chandogya Upanishad 6:2:1]1
    “Na casya kascij janita na cadhipah.”
    “Of Him there are neither parents nor lord.”
    [Svetasvatara Upanishad 6:9]2
    “Na tasya pratima asti”
    “There is no likeness of Him.”
    [Svetasvatara Upanishad 4:19]3
    The following verses from the Upanishad allude to the inability of man to imagine God in a particular form:
    “Na samdrse tisthati rupam asya, na caksusa pasyati kas canainam.”
    “His form is not to be seen; no one sees Him with the eye.”
    [Svetasvatara Upanishad 4:20]4
    So both the qotation which I have given teaches the same basic principle,that there is no god but God this is the first sentence of the Bible.In Arabic is LA ILAHA IL LALLAH
    So whichever faith you choose do a thorough research so all I say believe in only the basic of your scripture which in ARABIC is LA ILAHA ILALLAH MUHAMMADUR RASOOLLULLAH.
    The first half I have proved you that there is no god but God and the second half once you think that is correct then I tell you about second half that is MUHAMMADUR RASOOLLULAH.
    My friends dont think that I will get offended to your questions fire your questions if I dont know the answer I will tell you that I dont know but I wont say any crappy stuff to make you belive that whatever I say is correct.

  10. M.Shanker

    I came across this Hmmm!!! Food for thought
    This is a Letter to the Editor of The Hindu, from a practising Christian lady who was Professor in Stella Maris College, Chennai till recently; now settled at Baroda, regarding an Edit in The Hindu in favour of bringing back MF Hussain to India.
    ============ ==
    Dear Ram,
    I have taken time to write this to you Ram-for the simple reason that we have known you for so many years- you and The Hindu bring back happy memories Please take what I am putting down as those that come from an agonized soul. You know that I do not mince words and what I have to say I will-I call a spade a spade-now it is too late for me to learn the tricks of being called a ‘secularist’ if that means a bias for, one, and a bias against, another.
    Hussain is now a citizen of Qatar-this has generated enough of heat and less of light. Qatar you know better than me is not a country which respects democracy or freedom of expression. Hussain says he has complete freedom-I challenge him to paint a picture of Mohammed fully clad.
    There is no second opinion that artists have the Right of Freedom of expression. Is such a right restricted only to Hussain? Will that right not flow to Dan Brown-why was his film-Da Vinci Code not screened? Why was Satanic Verses banned-does Salman Rushdie not have that freedom of expression? Similarly why is Taslima hunted and hounded and why fatwas have been issued on both these writers? Why has Qatar not offered citizenship to Taslima? In the present rioting in Shimoga in Karnataka against the article Taslima wrote against the tradition of burqua which appeared in the Out Look in Jan 2007.No body protested then either in Delhi or in any other part of the country; now when it reappears in a Karnataka paper there is rioting. Is there a political agenda to create a problem in Karnataka by the intolerant goons? Why has the media not condemned this insensitivity and intolerance of the Muslims against Taslima’s views? When it comes to the Sangh Parivar
    it is quick to call them goons and intolerant etc. Now who are the goons and where is this tolerance and sensitivity?
    Regarding Hussain’s artistic freedom it seems to run unfettered in an expression of sexual perversion only when he envisages the Hindu Gods and Goddesses. There is no quarrel had he painted a nude woman sitting on the tail of a monkey. The point is he captioned it as Sita. Nobody would have protested against the sexual perversion and his orientatation to sexual signs and symbols. But would he dare to caption it as ‘Fatima enjoying in Jannat with animals’?
    Next example-is the painting of Saraswati copulating with a lion. Here again his perversion is evident and so is his intent. Even that lets concede cannot be faulted-each one’s sexual orientation is each one’s business I suppose. But he captioned it as Saraswati. This is the problem. It is Hussain’s business to enjoy in painting his sexual perversion. But why use Saraswati and Sita for his perverted expressions? Use Fatima and watch the consequence. Let the media people come to his rescue then. Now that he is in a country that gives him complete freedom let him go ahead and paint Fatima copulating with a lion or any other animal of his choice. And then turn around and prove to India-the Freedom of expression he enjoys in Qatar.
    Talking about Freedom of Expression-this is the Hussain who supported Emergency-painted Indira Gandhi as Durga slaying Jayaprakas Narayan. He supported the jailing of artists and writers. Where did this Freedom of Expression go? And you call him secularist? Would you support the jailing of artists and writers Ram –would you support the abeyance of the Constitution and all that we held sacred in democracy and the excessiveness of Indira Gandhi to gag the media-writers- political opponents? Tell me honesty why does Hussain expect this Freedom when he himself did not support others with the same freedom he wants? And the media has rushed to his rescue. Had it been a Ram who painted such obnoxious, .degrading painting-the reactions of the media and the elite ‘secularists’ would have been different; because there is a different perception/and index of secularism when it comes to Ram-and a different perception/and index of secularism when it comes to
    It brings back to my mind an episode that happened to The Hindu some years ago.[1991]. You had a separate weekly page for children with cartoons, quizzes, and with poems and articles of school children. In one such weekly page The Hindu printed a venerable bearded man-fully robed with head dress, mouthing some passages of the Koran-trying to teach children .It was done not only in good faith but as a part of inculcating values to children from the Koran. All hell broke loose. Your office witnessed goons who rushed in-demanded an apology-held out threats. In Ambur,Vaniambadi and Vellore the papers stands were burned-the copies of The Hindu were consigned to the fire. A threat to raise the issue in Parliament through a Private Members Bill was held out-Hectic activities went on-I am not sure of the nature and the machinations behind the scene. But The Hindu next day brought out a public apology in its front page. Where were you Ram? How secular and
    tolerant were the Muslims?
    Well this is of the past-today it is worse because the communal temperature in this country is at a all high-even a small friction can ignite and demolition the country’s peace and harmony. It is against this background that one should view Hussain who is bent on abusing and insulting the Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Respect for religious sentiments, need to maintain peace and harmony should also be part of the agenda of an artist-if he is great. If it is absent then he cannot say that he respects India and express his longing for India.
    Let’s face it-he is a fugitive of law. Age and religion are immaterial. What does the media want-that he be absolved by the courts? Even for that he has to appear in the courts-he cannot run away-After all this is the country where he lived and gave expression to his pervert sadist, erotic artistic mind under Freedom of Expression. I simply cannot jump into the bandwagon of the elite ‘secularist’ and uphold what he had done. With his brush he had committed jihad-bloodletting.
    The issue is just not nudity-Yes the temples-the frescos in Konarak and Kajhuraho have nude figures-But does it say that they are Sita, Sarswati or any goddesses? We have the Yoni and the Phallus as sacred signs of Life-of Siva and Shakthi-take these icons to the streets, paint them -give it a caption it become vulgar. Times have changed. Even granted that our ancients sculptured and painted naked forms and figures, with a pervert mind to demean religion is no license to repeat that in today’s changed political and social scenario and is not a sign of secularism and tolerance. I repeat there is no quarrel with nudity-painters have time and again found in it the perfection of God’s hand craft.
    Let me wish Hussain peace in Qatar-the totalitarian regime with zero tolerance May be he will convince the regime there to permit freedom of expression in word, writing and painting. For this he could start experimenting painting forms and figure of Mohamed the Prophet-and his family And may I fervently wish that the media-especially The Hindu does not discriminate goons-let it not substitute tolerance for intolerance when it comes to Rahim and Antony and another index for Ram.
    I hope you will read this in the same spirit that I have written. All the best to you Ram.
    Dr Mrs Hilda Raja, Vadodara

  11. ClubPenguinCheats

    In the hope of getting recognition as a serious artist, he has deliberately done crude and stupid things to attract wide public attention, and sometimes that attention has become more than he can happily handle, maybe!

  12. mozammil

    u r right Mr Shouri,
    M F Hussain went against Islaam by taking art as his profession. painting is HARAAM in Islaam. But if you go through ur religious books, u will find that Idol worship is also haraam in hinduis. so why dont you preach ur hindu brothers to avoid idol worshiping my dear?

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