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We are going to talk about the history of the arrival of Islam in the Subcontinent If you enjoy the video, do not forget to like share and subscribe! Today more than half a billion Muslims live in the Subcontinent gathered mainly between Bangladesh and Pakistan in which they are the majority and India where they are the largest minority The other countries in the region also host Muslim communities: about two million in Sri Lanka, where the local Muslim community takes the name of “Srilankan Moors” two million in Nepal about 50,000 in Bhutan and about 400,000 in the Maldives all of the Maldivian population as Islam is the only religion recognized by the state Muslims in India represents the largest religious minority in the country roughly 15% of the total population equivalent to more than 200 million people The vast majority of them are Sunnis (85%) while 13% are Shiites and the rest divided among other minority sects. 

In India and in the Subcontinent one can find the various ramifications of Islam from the more orthodox to the more heterodox Some variants of Indian Islam contains aspects that are difficult to trace back to orthodox Islam The boundaries between Islam and Hinduism are less distinct compared to the formal doctrine since the conversion to Islam resulted in the addition of Islamic elements to pre-existing religious beliefs without changing their identity The historical contact between the Arab-Persian world and the Subcontinent has played a primary role over the centuries in shaping the modern notion of “India” For example, the European idea of India originates directly from the Arab-Persian conception Different political events in India over the last decades have placed the local Muslim minority in the spotlight for various reasons not entirely positive I will, therefore, try to shed light on this complex matter tracing the historical origins of this community, and its most important characteristics. (Islam In India)


The contact between the Subcontinent and the Arab-Persian world is much older than the birth of Islam For Arabs, the Subcontinent was simply known as ‘Hind’ This term was borrowed from the Persian that had been using it for centuries, However, for Arabs, the name ‘Hind’ didn’t indicate the modern idea of India but had a wider geographical and political significance than today, In fact, this term used to denote the whole region between Sind and Makran in Pakistan and the Indonesian archipelago and Southeast Asia The Islamic expansion led to an increase in maritime trade in the Indian Ocean with India as the center and the Middle East and China as dynamic poles This economic relation between the Arab and Indian world at the beginning of the Islamic era gradually evolved into political relations After the conquests of the 7th and 8th centuries the caliphal territory stretched from the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa to Central Asia and Sind. 

Although Muslim communities already existed in the coastal regions of Gujarat, Konkan Kerala, and Tamil Nadu the stable annexation to the caliphal domains started with the conquest of Sind, This was conquered and annexed through a military an expedition organized by the Ummayad Caliph al-Walid I and led by Muhammad Ibn Qasim in 710 AD, However, the enormous distances existing between the center of the caliphate and this frontier territory rapidly increased the autonomy of Sind from the caliphal control By the 8th century, the Muslims rulers were in a central position between the two most important economic trade nodes of that time the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean Indo-Muslim civilization emerged in the 11th century from the East Persian variant of Islam.  (Islam In India)

It was the result of the expansion of personalized Turkic Afghan and Central Asian populations penetrating in the Subcontinent from its northwestern frontier It was certainly an expansion driven by raids before it could take the aspect of a stable and territorial one Traditionally, the Muslim society of the Subcontinent is not homogeneous In fact, it comprises of three major social communities: Ashraf, Ajlaf and Arzal The Ashraf are the descendants of Muslim populations who came from abroad and is further divided between Sayyids, Shaikhs, Mughals and Pathans The Ajlaf descended from the Indian converts It is to be noted that because of the conversion aspect, they are considered inferior to the Ashraf Contrary to the egalitarian aspects advocated by the official Islamic doctrine. 


Indo-Muslim society has maintained the Hindu heritage of the social notion of untouchables and outcasts The untouchable Hindu converts occupy the third and the final category of Indo-Muslim society and they are called Arzal This hierarchy is directly related to the previous division that already existed in the caste system of the Hindu society as it will be explained later in the video This great variety and diversity among the groups that make up the Indo-Muslim community is due to the penetration of Islam in the Subcontinent from different origins The oldest variant is the “Arab” one and is present in the coastal regions of Western India of Gujarat and Maharashtra, and South India This continues to influence the language, culture and religious practices of local communities in southern India today Among these. 

The most famous is the Mappila community in Kerala and Labbai community in Tamil Nadu which have a rick folkloristic and literary history The reason why the first Islamic influence occurred in South India, was because these regions had some important seaports as a part of the trade routes that connected the Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula to Southeast Asia and China Arab merchants and travelers passed through these regions since pre-Islamic times This ancient Arab presence is also shown by the fact that in the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu there are the oldest mosques in India and in the world, For example, the Cheraman Juma Masjid mosque in Kodungallur in Kerala, built-in 629 AD and the Palaiya Jumma Palli in Kilakarai, in Tamil Nadu, built-in 630 AD. (Islam In India)

However, the most prominent a variant which mainly represents the mainstream version of Indian Islam was the one of Persian origin This originated from the repeated invasions of Persianized populations of Mongolian Afghan and Central Asian origin from the 10th century onwards The Persian / Central Asian variant had the merit of penetrating deeply into the Indian society and culture over the centuries Or, rather, managed to “Indianize” Islam This Persian variant was very different from the Arab one Its impact over Indian history was much wider For example, it had the merit of creating all the empires and state entities for the centuries to come, This allowed the entire Subcontinent region to become an extremely dynamic commercial and cultural center. 


The Sultanate of Delhi in the 13th century was the first example of an Indo-Muslim state that attempted a subcontinental union bringing to its institutions and political culture of others “Indianized” with the help of Indian converts This process peaked with the Mughals Mughal politics, although Islamic in nature succeeded in combining Islam with the Indian substratum In this way, Islam acquired peculiar characteristics of a regional variant A true Indo-Muslim society was created with traits connected to the Islamic model and which resisted even after the Mughals Muslim rulers were mostly neutral about the conversion issue although some of them were really pushing it forward Among the rulers who were enthusiastic about the missionary work there was were Firuz Tughluq and Sikandar Lodi sultans of Delhi and the last of the great Mughals, Aurangzeb who offered to the converts rewards and career prospects Emperor Akbar instead, guaranteed Hindus the right to convert and reconvert while his son Jahangir was in favor of a peaceful encouragement of conversions As said.

In India, the spread of Islam predominantly did not happen by political constraint as a certain historical reinterpretation today would like to advertise Rather, it was the result of the work of preachers Among these, the Sufis whose formation was more ascetic was closer to the population they had to convert compared to the theologians and their rigid doctrine Most Sufi brotherhoods regarded the conversion of non-Muslims as one of their main spiritual purposes Sufi missionaries, in general, adhered to the line of “suhl-i-kul”, which means “peace with all” and preached their doctrine without making distinctions between Muslims and Hindus relying on the effectiveness of the recitation of the names and attributes of God For a minority part of the population especially in the urban areas the conversion to Islam was motivated by the attractive opportunities for social mobility that arose from belonging to the same religion as the rulers. 


However, most of the conversions took place in the rural environment especially in the North West of the Subcontinent in Gujarat, in the Gangetic plains and in Bengal The majority of these neo-Muslims of low social backgrounds were attracted primarily by Islamic social egalitarianism diametrically opposed to the rigid caste divisions of traditional Hindu society Conversion to Islam did not necessarily result in an immediate improvement of the economic conditions, In particular, we can see how the Hindus who adhered to the new faith continued to perpetuate their ancestral occupations This resulted in the introduction of the notion of caste distinction even within the Islamic society This was particularly true in the countryside The apostasy from Islam was treated with extreme severity by the Muslims with the exception of Akbar and the sultan of Kashmir, Zainul Abidin the only ones to recognize the right of Hindus to proselytize and to reconvert to their original faith For Islamic conquerors. (Islam In India)

The cult of images in India was considered as idolatry and they felt morally and religiously entitled to destroy Hindu temples in times of war This state of  beings survived until the mid-17th century The most rigid of all was Aurangzeb who also destroyed several temples in peacetime Similar discrimination was also carried out by the Hindus The most the striking case was the devastation of Punjab by Mahipal, the Raja of Delhi, in his attempt to drive the Ghaznavids away from the Subcontinent Killing of Muslims, destruction of mosques and construction of temples on their ruins occurred At the beginning of the 17th century Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi complained of the desecration of mosques including the pillaging of Akbar’s tomb which was still common practice in the 18th century., In reality, discrimination against those who did not belong to the faith of the rulers was a general practice throughout the medieval world and not peculiar to the Muslim states. 

In fact, Muslim rulers of India were quite tolerant of socio-religious matters For example, Mahmoud of Ghazna allowed his Hindu subjects to worship idols the Kashmiri sultan Zainul Abidin adopted a conciliatory policy with the Hindus abolishing the tax for non-Muslims (Jizya) prohibiting the slaughter of cows and even allowing “sati”, the immolation of the widow on the funeral pyre of the husband From the cultural-religious point of view Islam is the antithesis of Hinduism Hinduism is an aggregate of beliefs developed over the centuries starting from the Vedas up to the philosophical speculation of the Upanishad the discipline of Yoga the metaphysics of Vedanta and the passionate the devotion of Bhakti Hinduism reveals itself through the iconography, On the contrary, Islam is rather a geometric abstract and iconoclastic Islam in India despite the environmental and ethnic influences has maintained some of its original foreign characteristics over the centuries. 

The Indian Muslim is, therefore, the victim of a sort of an intellectual alienation with the feeling of not being part of the world in which he lives As if he is in India, but not of India He keeps as much as he can of the original intellectual and psychological heritage of his religious culture The interaction between Hindus and Muslims did not manage to ensure that some of them deeply acquired the essence of the others for which they remained divided The Hindus combining the openness of religious views with the bigotry of social ethics Muslims combining the openness of social behavior with their bigotry regarding religious ideas Regarding mutual tolerance and intolerance, it should not be forgotten that it was, and still is a two-way street The Brahmanic Hinduism discriminated Muslims as foreigners and impure, considering them to be the same as outcasts On the Muslim side discriminations took place on the political level.










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