Monday, 25 September 2017

Muslim Rule in India: No Evidence of Forced Mass Coversions of Hindus

The Ummayad Islamic Caliphate, whose capital was Damascus, had expanded to establish a kingdom in the lower Indus River valley as early as 711 CE. These were Arabic-speaking Muslims, many of whom also traded along India’s Malabar Coast. However, /islam’s major push into the subcontinent began with the Turkish ruler Mahmud of Ghazni, who had his Afgha armies move into Northwest India. By the time of his assassination in 1206, he had established a Turko-Afghan state bordering on Delhi. His successor, Qutb u’d-din Aibak, conquered Delhi, making it his capital, and became the first in a series of Delhi Sultans, Turko-Afghan rulers whose empire eventually stretched from the Punjab to Bengal.

It may be misleading to characterize the region of this empire as under “Muslim” or “Islamic” rule, because the ruling styles of the Hindu and Muslim kingdoms of these states were fairly similar. Furthermore, it conveys the sense that obligatory mass conversions to Islam had occurred, which current historical analyses reject. From studies in regions where Islamic populations grew, such as Western Punjab and Bengal, conversion was often driven by desires for upward mobility through intermarriage, and by teachings of charismatic religious leaders. Historians also reject a prevailing popular view of systematic wholesale destruction of non-Muslim holy places, such as Buddhist monasteries and Hindu temples. While some such were definitely sacked for their wealth, and many religious centers were destroyed by zealous Muslim rulers, such as Firuz Tughluq (14th century CE), Islam and non-Islamic spiritual and philosophical life generally coexisted and interacted peacefully. [Introducing Hinduism, Hilary P. Rodrigues, Routledge, 2nd Edition p28]

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