How an accidentally distorted drawing of the Prophet led to a riot in 19th-century Mumbai

On a Friday towards the end of 1851, an unidentified person pasted a copy of a Gujarati article on the wall of the Jama Masjid in southern Mumbai. People leaving the mosque after namaz, saw it and were enraged.

That day, Mumbai’s second major riot began. (The first, by Parsis, was a protest in 1832 against dogs being killed by city officials.)

The article in question came from the September 23 edition of a Gujarati magazine called Chitra Dynana Darpan. The magazine, edited by Byramji Cursetji, a Parsi, ran a profile of Prophet Mohammed as one of its regular accounts of eminent personalities of the world, who included people such as Plato, Confucius, George Washington and Jamshetji Jeejeebhoy.

The profile itself was an unobjectionable retelling of the events of his life, apart from one sniping line at the beginning which reads: “No other person has so much altered the affairs of the world, or destroyed the lives and property, and led them to believe as Mahomed has done.”

  • ismiselemeas

    I have a Parsi client here in Toronto. A lovely woman. She carries a portrait of Zoroaster where ever she goes. Zoroastrianism is very much alive in Toronto. The historical reason why they went to India is because of, well, islam.

    • Islam is spread by murder.

    • andycanuck

      I knew a Zoroastrian girl in my high school. She was a good person and cute. Dated a friend of mine a bit.

  • BillyHW

    They are a forgiving bunch those muzzled, always willing to let the little slights slide for the sake of peaceful relations.