The Muslim Vanishes by Saeed Naqvi

“…a narrative that is controversial, explosive and unputdownable.”


“…a stark, compelling portrait of our times.” 

About the Book 

The great poet Ghalib, part of a long tradition of eclectic liberalism, found Benaras so compelling that he wrote his longest poem on the holy city, ‘Chiragh-e-Dair’ (Mandir Ka Diya or Lamp in the Temple): 
‘Ibadat khaana-e-naaqoosian ast, 
Hama na Kaaba-e-Hindostan ast. 
(Devotees make searing music with conch shells, 
This truly is the Kaaba of Hindustan.) 

Take Ghalib and his myriad followers out of the equation. Will Hindustan be left with a gaping hole or become something quite new? The Muslim Vanishes, a play by Saeed Naqvi, attempts to answer that question. Caste, the Hindu-Muslim divide, Pakistan-Kashmir-decibel levels on these subjects are too high, with each side fiercely defending their own narratives for a conversation to take place. What is the way out of this trap? Razor-sharp, gentle and funny, Saeed Naqvi falls back on a combination of grandma’s bedside stories, Aesop’s fables and Mullah Nasruddin’s feigned foibles to spring an inspired surprise on us. Can it douse the flames? 

About the Author 

Saeed Naqvi is a well-known Indian journalist. He covered the 1971 war against Pakistan, which resulted in the creation of Bangladesh, the Sri Lankan Civil War, 1971, Sino-Vietnam war, 1979, US bombing of Libya, 1986, the first coup in Fiji, 1987, Nicaragua war, 1989, Operation Desert Storm, 1991, US occupation of Afghanistan, 2002 and Iraq, 2003, and the Syrian civil war, 2011. He has also conducted long-format TV interviews with world statesmen like Fidel Castro, Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev, Saddam Hussain, Muammar Qaddafi, Benazir Bhutto, Henry Kissinger, Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Benjamin Netanyahu, Hashemi Rafsanjani, Hosni Mubarak and Mahathir Mohammad. 

Among the path-breaking works in the field of India’s plural culture and the history of Hindustani classical music is his three-part DVD series on the history of Hindustani classical music. He has produced thirty-five short films on India’s composite culture, which were considered a landmark. He has authored three books: Reflections of an Indian Muslim (1992), The Last Brahmin Prime Minister (1996) and Being The Other: The Muslim in India (2016). 

Advance Praise for the book 

‘A stark, compelling portrait of our times’

— Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Malayalam film director, scriptwriter and producer — Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Malayalam film director, scriptwriter and producer 

‘The Muslim Vanishes is staggering, inventive and even metaphoric. Loved it’

— Saeed Mirza, film-maker and screenwriter 

‘This sardonic, intellectually challenging play, with sections written in verse, is a marvellous invocation of the Indic civilization, with its unimaginably plural, multicultural and multiethnic legacy, now suddenly threatened by a new form of politics of hate, suspicion and fear’ 

—Ashis Nandy, public intellectual and political psychologist 

‘The Muslim Vanishes is so full of Saeed Naqvi’s vast knowledge of the Ganga–Jamuni culture that it will surprise and annoy many readers. Why will it annoy? You have to read it to find that out.’ 

—Meghnad Desai, member of the House of Lords of the United Kingdom 

In The Muslim Vanishes, Saeed Naqvi does what only he can do—create what is deceptively a fable but in fact deliver a narrative that is controversial, explosive and unputdownable’

—Kabir Khan, film-maker and screenwriter 

‘Masterpiece. Incredible, realistically unreal: fiction in its purest, most powerful form’

—A.S. Dulat, former secretary, Research and Analysis Wing 

‘The Muslim Vanishes is a must for statesmen, diplomats and anyone interested in a peaceful and progressive Indian subcontinent. Its author, Saeed Naqvi, one of India’s most prominent journalists and television commentators, incisively enlightens the reader with the competing ideas that battle over national identity in the Indian mind. Though he is officially a Muslim, Naqvi’s true faith is “India”, whose rich culture and history he views as the joint creation of Hindus and Muslims throughout twelve centuries of living together’

—Clinton Bailey, Israeli intellectual, historian and authority on Bedouin culture 

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