Contribution of Muslims in India, 711-


Dr. Z. HAQ
(Copyright 1990, 1997, All Rights Reserved)

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (India's Prime Minsiter 1947-64) in ?The Discovery of India,? 1946, p. 218, 225.

?The impact of the invaders from the north-west and of Islam on India had been considerable. It had pointed out and shone up the abuses that had crept into Hindu society - the petrification of caste, untouchability, exclusiveness carried to fantastic lengths. The idea of the brotherhood of Islam and the theoretical equality of its adherents made a powerful appeal especially to those in the Hindu fold who were denied any semblance of equal treatment.?

?...his (Babar?s) account tells us of the cultural poverty that had descended on North India. Partly this was due to Timur's destruction, partly due to the exodus of many learned men and artists and noted craftsmen to the South. But this was due also to the drying up of the creative genius of the Indian people.?

?The coming of Islam and of a considerable number of people from outside with different ways of living and thought affected these beliefs and structure. A foreign conquest, with all its evils, has one advantage: it widens the mental horizon of the people and compels them to look out of their shells. They realize that the world is a much bigger and a more variegated place than they had imagined. So the Afghan conquest had affected India and many changes had taken place. Even more so the Moghals, who were far more cultured and advanced in the ways of living than the Afghans, brought changes to India. In particular, they introduced the refinements for which Iran was famous.?

Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramayya, Presidential Address to the Fifty-fifth Session of the Indian Congress, Jaipur, 1948.

?(The Muslims had) enriched our culture, strengthened our administration, and brought near distant parts of the country... It (the Muslim Period) touched deeply the social life and the literature of the land.?

Humayun Kabir in 'The Indian Heritage,' 1955, p. 153.

?Islam's democratic challenge has perhaps never been equaled by any other religious or social system. Its advent on the Indian scene was marked by a profound stirring of consciousness. It modified the basis of Hindu social structure throughout northern India.?

N.S. Mehta, in 'Islam and the Indian Civilization,' reproduced in 'Hindustan ke Ahd-i-Wusta ki ek Jhalak,' by S.A. Rahman.

?Islam had brought to India a luminous torch which rescued humanity from darkness at a time when old civilizations were on the decline and lofty moral ideals had got reduced to empty intellectual concepts. As in other lands, so in India too, the conquests of Islam were more widespread in the world of thought than in the world of politics. Today, also, the Islamic World is a spiritual brotherhood which is held together by community of faith in the Oneness of God and human equality. Unfortunately, the history of Islam in this country remained tied up for centuries with that of government with the result that a veil was cast over its true spirit, and its fruits and blessings were hidden from the popular eye.?

Prof. K.M. Panikkar in 'A Survey of Indian History,' 1947, p. 163.

?One thing is clear. Islam had a profound effect on Hinduism during this period. Medieval theism is in some ways a reply to the attack of Islam; and the doctrine of medieval teachers by whatever names their gods are known are essentially theistic. It is the one supreme God that is the object of the devotee's adoration and it is to His grace that we are asked to look for redemption.?

Zaheeruddin Babar in his Autobiography 'Tuzuk-i-Babari,' (Founder of Mughal Dynasty, Ruled India 1526-1530).

?There are neither good horses in India, nor good meat, nor grapes, nor melons, nor ice, nor cold water, nor baths, nor candle, nor candlestick, nor torch. In the place of the candle, they use the divat. It rests on three legs: a small iron piece resembling the snout of a lamp... Even in case of Rajas and Maharajas, the attendants stand holding the clumsy divat in their hands when they are in need of a light in the night.

?There is no arrangement for running water in gardens and buildings. The buildings lack beauty, symmetry, ventilation and neatness. Commonly, the people walk barefooted with a narrow slip tied round the loins. Women wear a dress ...?

Dr. Gustav le Bon in 'Les Civilisations de L'Inde' (translated by S.A. Bilgrami).

"There does not exist a history of ancient India. Their books contain no historical data whatever, except for a few religious books in which historical information is buried under a heap of parables and folk-lore, and their buildings and other monuments also do nothing to fill the void for the oldest among them do not go beyond the third century B.C. To discover facts about India of the ancient times is as difficult a task as the discovery of the island of Atlantis, which, according to Plato, was destroyed due to the changes of the earth... The historical phase of India began with the Muslim invasion. Muslims were India's first historians."

Sir William Digby in 'Prosperous India: A Revelation,' p. 30.

"England's industrial supremacy owes its origin to the vast hoards of Bengal and the Karnatik being made available for her use....Before Plassey was fought and won, and before the stream of treasure began to flow to England, the industries of our country were at a very low ebb."

Brooks Adams in 'The Law of Civilization and Decay,' London, 1898, pp. 313-17.

"Very soon after Plassey the Bengal plunder began to arrive in London, and the effect appears to have been instantaneous, for all authorities agree that the Industrial Revolution, the event that has divided the l9th century from all antecedent time, began with the year 1760....Plassey was fought in 1757, and probably nothing has ever equaled the rapidity of the change which followed....In themselves inventions are passive, many of the most important having laid dormant for centuries, waiting for a sufficient store of force to have accumulated to have set them working. That store must always take the shape of money, and money not hoarded, but in motion.

"...Before the influx of the Indian treasure, and the expansion of credit which followed, no force sufficient for this purpose existed....The factory system was the child of 'Industrial Revolution,' and until capital had accumulated in masses, capable of giving solidity to large bodies of labour, manufactures were carried on by scattered individuals....Possibly since the world began, no investment has ever yielded the profit reaped from the Indian plunder, because for nearly fifty years Great Britain stood without a competitor."

Muslims in India - An Overview

The Muslims entered Sind, India, in 711 C.E., the same year they entered Spain. Their entry in India was prompted by an attempt to free the civilian Muslim hostages whose ship was taken by sea pirates in the territory of Raja Dahir, King of Sind. After diplomatic attempts failed, Hajjaj bin Yusuf, the Umayyad governor in Baghdad, dispatched a 17-year-old commander by the name Muhammad bin Qasim with a small army. Muhammad bin Qasim defeated Raja Dahir at what is now Hyderabad in Pakistan. In pursuing the remnant of Dahir's army and his son?s supporters (Indian kings), Muhammad bin Qasim fought at Nirun, Rawar, Bahrore, Brahmanabad, Aror, Dipalpur and Multan. By 713 C.E., he established his control in Sind and parts of Punjab up to the borders of Kashmir. A major part of what is now Pakistan came under Muslim control in 713 C.E. and remained so throughout the centuries until some years after the fall of the Mughal Empire in 1857.

Muhammad bin Qasim?s treatment of the Indian population was so just that when he was called back to Baghdad the civilians were greatly disheartened and gave him farewell in tears. There was a Muslim community in Malabar, southwest India as early as 618 C.E. as a result of King Chakrawati Farmas accepting Islam at the hands of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The Muslim presence as rulers in India dates from 711 C.E. Since then, different Muslim rulers (Turks of Central Asia, Afghans, and the descendants of the Mongol - the Mughals) entered India, primarily fought their fellow Muslim rulers, and established their rule under various dynastic names. By the eleventh century, the Muslims had established their capital at Delhi, which remained the principal seat of power until the last ruler of Mughal Dynasty, Bahadur Shah Zafar, was deposed in 1857 by the British. A few British visitors were given permission by Akbar to stay in Eastern India more than two centuries before. The British abused that privilege, and within a few decades the British began to collaborate with Rajas and Nawabs in military expeditions against the Mughals and Muslim rulers of the east, southeast and south India. After two centuries of fighting, the British succeeded in abolishing the Mughal rule in 1857.

Muslims were a minority when they ruled major parts of India for nearly a thousand years. They were well liked generally as rulers for their justice, social and cultural values, respect for freedom to practice religion as prescribed by the religion of various communities, freedom of speech, legal system in accordance with the dictates and established norms of each religious community, public works and for establishing educational institutions. In their days as rulers, the Muslims constituted about twenty percent of India's population. Today, Indian Muslims constitute about fifteen percent of India's population, about 150 million, and they are the second largest Muslim community in the world.

The region now part of Pakistan and many other parts of India were predominantly Muslim. After the British takeover in 1857, many of these areas remained under loose control of Muslims. When the British decided to withdraw from India without a clear direction for the future of Muslims (former rulers), a political solution was reached for some of the Muslim majority areas. This resulted in the division of India and the creation of Pakistan in 1947.

Among the famous Muslims scientists, historians and travelers who visited and lived, though briefly, in India were Al-Biruni, Al-Masu'di, and Ibn Battuta. Their writings illuminate us with the Indian society and culture. Al-Biruni stayed in India for twenty years. Ibn Battuta, an Andalusian who was born in Morocco, served as a Magistrate of Delhi (1334-1341) during the reign of Sultan Muhammad Tughluk. It is conceivable that Ibn Battuta?s description of Muslim India inspired Ferdinand and Isabella who had taken over the last Muslim kingdom of Granada, Spain in 1492. That same year Columbus received the permission in the Alhambra palace (of Granada) and made his famous voyage bound for India in search of gold and spice but he landed in the Americas.

Copyright 1990, 1997 Dr. Z. Haq
All Rights Reserved


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