How did Islam and Hinduism thrive together in Medieval India?

How did Islam and Hinduism thrive together in Medieval India?

In countries in the Middle East, Indonesia and many North African countries, the onset of Islamic rulers spread Islam in a rapid manner, eventually wiping off the local religion. However in spite of widespread Muslim rule for several centuries, Islam seemed to have co-existed with Hinduism in India.

How was this possible? Was India lucky that it had tolerant rulers?

I completely disagree with Lennart. Islam has traditionally been expansionist and were big on forced conversions. This is evident if you see the history of India starting with Timur. These forced conversions had been rampart in all of India including the South. An account by Ibn Battuta : South India and Her Muhammadan Invaders

Hinduism is not a religion but a culture. There is no compulsion to attend a particular temple to worship. You can worship at home or even place a stone and imagine it as a god and start worshiping it.

The first wave of Islamic invaders cut 10s and 100s of thousands of 'non-believers' and history suggest many took vows not to eat/drink until they have seen 10,000 hindu heads piled every day (source : Cambridge History of India - Part III). They tried to demolish temples and built Mosques on top of them. This didn't prevent Hindu's worship or follow their culture which they continued practicing privately.

The killing of hundreds of thousands of priest class of hindu did reduced Sanskrit speakers and spread of Sanskrit scholars but gave rise to local vernacular languages (Ram Charit Manas by Tulasidas is simple Hindi translation of complex Ramayana which was in sanskrit)

On some perception that Islam was not traditionally big on forced conversions. I recommend reading Cambridge History of India part 3 covering history of modern day Afghanistan to Bangal between 800 AD to 1500AD. It covers the actual reasons for invading India being spreading Islam buy force. Many Rulers from Delhi sultanate failed to do so and that give reasons for further wave of islamic invaders to try it themselves.

Updated- More on topic : There were resistance from some of the Hindu Kings (Rana's of Mewar) and in down south from Vijaynagar Empire. At the same time there were more invasions by Moughals or Afgans on one of other pretext about conversion of "non-believers" however this gave rise to internal conflicts among Muslim rulers and some time they had to take support of Hindu kings. (e.g. Rana of Mewar supporting cause of Malwa ismalic king against Gujrat Muslim king or in Deccan Bijapur taking help of Vijayanagar to attack Adil Shahi of Ahmadnagar) Or in later part in 1700AD Marattha uprising against Mughals

sources: siyar-ul-mutaakhirin, Cambridge history of India, History Of Marattha (James Grant Duff)

The first few Islamic rulers in India were more focused on land expansion than religious ideals. When the 3rd generation emperor, Akbar, arrived in power, he was famed for promoting religious peace and even creating his own religion Din-i Ilahi, a mix between many different religions. He even married a Hindu princess. After that, most of the Islamic rule in India continued the ideals of their greatest emperor.

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Islam has traditionally not been big on forced conversion. Generally Muslim rulers have been OK with allowing other religions. Especially since non-Muslims often was made to pay extra taxes.

The claim that Islam spread rapidly everywhere else there was Islamic rulers is not a really correct statement from that point of view. It took many hundreds of years there as well. I can't find any support for the position that conversion somehow was slower in India than in most other Islamic empires.

The question of why people convert to Islam has always generated intense feeling. Earlier generations of European scholars believed that conversions to Islam were made at the point of the sword, and that conquered peoples were given the choice of conversion or death. It is now apparent that conversion by force, while not unknown in Muslim countries, was, in fact, rare. Muslim conquerors ordinarily wished to dominate rather than convert, and most conversions to Islam were voluntary. (… ) In most cases worldly and spiritual motives for conversion blended together. Moreover, conversion to Islam did not necessarily imply a complete turning from an old to a totally new life. While it entailed the acceptance of new religious beliefs and membership in a new religious community, most converts retained a deep attachment to the cultures and communities from which they came.

-- Hourani, Albert, 2002, A History of the Arab Peoples, Faber & Faber, pg 198

Since your question asks us to concern ourselves specifically with the Middle Ages (5th to the 15th century), I will not venture to comment on the Mughal Dynasty and the shaping of identities in the modern world. However, to ground all of this in present-day observable context, I'd like you to give this a read.

Islam's contact with India can be traced back to the 7th century. For the time-period being observed, and throughout all of history, Islam has come to India through the following two pathways:

  • Sea route i.e Arabian Sea
  • The North-West Corridor of India

Before the Islamic conquests began in earnest with the Raja of Sindh's battle against Muhammad bin Quasim, the Eastern Hemisphere looked something like this:

India appears pretty fragmented at this point. This is because much of her political history has been that of chiefdoms gaining excessive power and breaking away from their kingdoms. There was also great hostility between them.

India, in its modern form, would emerge only in the 13th century, under the Delhi Sultanate. Before that would happen, Muslims were indeed looked at with leeriness by the Hindu population. The Central Asian traveller Al-Biruni attributed it to the fact that the Arabs had, in their conquests, taken several Indians as hostages and there was a general climate of mistrust prevalent among the people.

This wasn't all unsound though, considering that Mahmud of Ghazni and his commanders had plundered and laid waste several Hindu temples that had once boasted great riches.

In 1206, with the coming onto the throne of the Mamluk Dynasty, former kingdoms that were now annexed and under Muslim control, for the first time came under a centralised force. Up until the end of the Medieval Era, Hindus in India easily outnumbered the Muslims. Very early on, it was realised by the Muslim rulers that force wouldn't get them very far.

This is what the Delhi Sultanate looked like at its apex:

Being a highly feudal state, the rulers had no other option but to incorporate Hindus into the administrative system, in light of the fact that most of the land was owned by them. Hindus also had exclusive control over several markets. Also being a theocracy governed by Quranic injunctions, the rulers took it upon themselves to try and bring Islam to as many people as possible and allow people freedom of religion. The kings felt that doing so was executing the will of God. This is why many Islamic holy places (to this day, I believe), guarantee free passage and protection to people of all faiths. Seeing how good a system of checks-and-balances they had established, they had no reason to worry about any province gaining too much power.

Around this time, movements like Sufism also gained ground and Islam as a religion became much more appealing to Hindus, especially those of the lower-castes who were stuck in an establishment that did not permit social mobility.

Another reason why I think there were so few spars between the two religions is because religion isn't the dominant cultural identifier for Hindus. They view themselves of a particular ethnic group and/or region first and foremost.

While it is true that conversion to Islam in India wasn't usually forced, it was almost always implied, as evidenced by this page on Islamic taxes. The rest of the picture isn't as clearly formed either. Many rulers destroyed Hindu temples to provide for materials needed to build mosques and other Islamic sites. Moreover, the frequent change of central power meant that the attitude towards Hindus always remained in a flux, and varied from one emperor to the other.

However, all in all, Islam and Hinduism shared a quite unparalleled cultural bonding in the Middle Ages, the effects of which can be felt to this day.

A couple of ridiculous answers here - such as Islam not being heavy on forced conversions, which is nonsense. The conversion of Persia into Islam is one of the most brutal events in history. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a delusional apologist. The idea that Muslim rulers grew more tolerant is also nonsense. The policies of Aurangzeb in the seventeenth century, of Tipu Sultan in the late eighteenth century and the general popularity of Nizams like the Nizam of Junagadh and Hyderabad in 1947 should be more than enough proof to trash that theory. I can count all the 'secular' Muslim rulers throughout Indian history on one hand with several fingers to spare.

I'm not sure of how organised Indonesian Buddhism was.

But in the case of Sassanid Persia, there was a rigid and highly organised Zoroastrian system present. It was rather easy for Arab invaders to destroy this for a couple of reasons. Fundamentally, the Persians did not see them as the greatest threat, and were more focussed on their civil war. This allowed the Arabs to easily infiltrate most of Persia. From there, they destroyed the holiest cities of the faith like Eshtakhr and killed the priests en masse. Then the Zoroastrians were given a choice, convert or die. A few Zoroastrians did manage to escape, either to Central Asia or to India (Central Asian ones were cleansed in repeated waves by Turkic migrations and later by the Safavids). The Zoroastrians who could not escape were either converted forcibly, enslaved and shipped off elsewhere or were killed.

A genocide of a smaller scale happened in Armenia about three centuries before under the reign of Tiridates III, where Zoroastrians were butchered by the Christians.

In its present state, Hinduism is not a single religion - to assume so is wrong. The word Hindu was first used by Arab invaders to refer to the inhabitants of the plains beyond the Sindhu river (Indus). They called the land 'Hind' and its people Hindus. Therefore, Hinduism is a blanket term for multitude of beliefs held by the people beyond the Sindhu river. There is no central authority to speak for all the Hindus, and neither is there any specific holy book for Hindus like the Avesta for Zoroastrians - there are many, and there is no consensus on which among the many is more important than the rest. This is case in the twenty first century. Back in the eighth century, when the Ummayads first attacked Sindh, it was even less organised.

I believe that the reason why Hinduism as a whole survived repeated invasions by Muslim invaders was because of the lack of organisation, not because of the rulers growing more tolerant with time or any nonsense. Harder to break something if you don't know what to destroy - not that anyone can ever accuse them of not trying hard enough.

There are plenty of records which show that Islamic rulers did not, in fact, grow "more tolerant" as time passed. Aurangzeb, the last of the Mughals to rule over a substantial part of the Indian subcontinent reintroduced the Jaziya tax, and plundered several temples throughout his reign. Tipu Sultan, a hundred years later, started massive pogroms which resulted in some areas on the south western coast becoming dominated by Muslims - a demographic that persists to this day.

Hinduism under Islam (11th–19th century)

The advent of Islam in the Ganges basin at the end of the 12th century resulted in the withdrawal of royal patronage from Hinduism in much of the area. The attitude of the Muslim rulers toward Hinduism varied. Some, like Fīrūz Tughluq (ruled 1351–88) and Aurangzeb (ruled 1658–1707), were strongly anti-Hindu and enforced payment of jizya, a poll tax on unbelievers. Others, like the Bengali sultan Ḥusayn Shah ʿAlāʾ al-Dīn (reigned 1493–1519) and the great Akbar (reigned 1556–1605), were well disposed toward their Hindu subjects. Many temples were destroyed by the more fanatical rulers, however. Conversion to Islam was more common in areas where Buddhism had once been strongest—Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Kashmir.

On the eve of the Muslim occupation, Hinduism was by no means sterile in northern India, but its vitality was centred in the southern areas. Throughout the centuries, the system of class and caste had become more rigid in each region there was a complex hierarchy of castes strictly forbidden to intermarry or dine together, controlled and regulated by secular powers who acted on the advice of the court Brahmans. The large-scale Vedic sacrifices had practically vanished, but simple domestic Vedic sacrifices continued, and new forms of animal, and sometimes vegetable, sacrifice had appeared, especially connected with the worship of the mother goddess.

By that time, most of the main divinities of later Hinduism were worshipped. Rama, the hero of the epic poem, had become the eighth avatar of Vishnu, and his popularity was growing, though it was not yet as prominent as it later became. Similarly, Rama’s monkey helper, Hanuman, now one of the most popular divinities of India and the most ready helper in time of need, was rising in importance. Krishna was worshipped, though his consort, Radha, did not become popular until after the 12th century. Harihara, a combination of Vishnu and Shiva, and Ardhanarishvara, a synthesis of Shiva and his consort Shakti, also became popular deities.

Sufi and Bhakti Movement in India

India is known to the world as a birth as well as meeting place of various religions, creeds and faiths.

Apart from the oldest ancient Hinduism, India had given birth to Jainism and Buddhism, the two glorious religions which by their rich principles, ideas and philosophy not only saved Indians from superstitious beliefs and spiritual dogmas but also enriched the ancient Hinduism which had been misinterpreted by Brahmanism.

The two religions with their principles of non-violence and noble Philosophy proved to be the sister religions of Hinduism.

image source:

After them, came Islam in the beginning of the medieval age in India, which in-spite of its principle of universal brotherhood could not associate herself with Hinduism. It was due to the fact that the Islamic people were annoyed with the outer form of Hinduism like elaborate rites and rituals, polytheism and idolatry etc.

Of course they did not try to go deep into Hindu Philosophy, Islamic religious men and the Muslim rulers wanted to propagate the Islamic religion by adopting forceful methods. It was characterised as a militant religion. Muslims consider Hindus infidels and Muslim rulers very often declared jihad on the eve of wars against Hindus. Muslim rulers of the Sultanate period did not treat Hindus properly. The Hindu religious sentiments had received a rude set back, when the Muslim rulers plundered and destroyed the Hindu temples.

Antagonism between the two different sects of people continued to grow day by day. Religious supremacy made the Muslim rulers and people to exhibit mutual hatred and hostility, towards their fellow Hindu Citizens. At this critical hour of human ignorance and mutual hatred and hostility, there appeared a group of serious religious thinkers who by their Sufi and Bhakti movement awakened the People about God and religion. They did everything to establish brotherhood, love and friendship between the Hindus and Muslims.

The Sufi Movement:

The Sufi movement was a socio-religious movement of fourteenth to sixteenth century. The exponents of this movement were unorthodox Muslim saints who had a deep study of vedantic philosophy and Buddhism of India. They had gone through various religious text of India and had come in contact with great sages and seers of India. They could see the Indian religion from very near and realized its inner values. Accordingly they developed Islamic Philosophy which at last gave birth to the Sufi Movement.

The Sufi movement therefore was the result of the Hindu influence on Islam. This movement influenced both the Muslims and Hindus and thus, provided a common platform for the two.Though the Sufis were devout Muslims, yet they differed from the orthodox Muslims. While the former believed in inner purity, the latter believed in external conduct. The union of the human soul with God through love and devotion was the essence of the teachings of the Sufi Saints. The method of their realizing God was the renunciation of the World and Worldly pleasures. They lived a secluded life.

They were called Sufis as they wore garments of Wool (suf) as their budge of poverty. Thus the name ‘Sufi’ is derived from the word Suf. They consider love to be the only means of reaching God. Historian Tara Chand says, “Sufism indeed was a religion of intense devotion, love was its passion poetry, song and dance, its worship and passing away in God its ideal”.

The Sufis did not attach importance to namaz, hajj and celibacy. That is why they were misunderstood by orthodox muslims. They regarded Singing and dancing as methods of inducing a state of ecstasy which brought one nearer to realisation of God. There were some leading Sufi saints like Khwaja Muinuddin Chisti, Fariuddin Ganj-i-Shakar, Nizam-ud-din Auliya etc.

Khwaja Muinuddin Chisti (1143-1234):

Khwaja Muinuddin Chisti was a great Sufi Saint of India. The Chisti order was established in India by him. He was born in 1143 A.D. in Seistan in Persia. He came to India around 1192 A.D. shortly before the defeat and death of Prithvi Raj Chauhan and settled on at Ajmer. It is said that some of the Hindu families influenced Prithviraj to drive out Muinuddin Chisti from his state.

Accordingly Prithvi Raj sent the chief priest of Ajmer, Rama Deo, with an order to Muinuddin to leave his state. But Rama Deo was so much impressed and fascinated with the personality of Chisti that he became his disciple and remained with him. In this way he attracted everyone who came in contact with him. He had a large number of followers.

By leading a very simple ascetic way of life and spreading the message of love and equality, he had tried to wipe out ill- feelings from the minds of the people of two communities i.e. Hindus and Muslims. Of course no authentic record of his activities is available. He did not write any book but his fame rose with the fame of his successors. However living for a long period of more than ninety years and spreading the message of love and universal brotherhood he breathed his last in 1234 A.D.

Farid-ud-din Ganj-i-Shakar (1176-1268):

Farid-ud-din Ganj-i-Shakar was another great Sufi Saint of India. He was popularly known as Baba Farid. He was a great disciple of Shaikh Muinuddin Chisti. He spent most of his time in Hansi and Ajodhan (in modern Haryana and the Punjab, respectively). He was deeply respected in Delhi. He was surrounded by a large number of people whenever he visited Delhi.

His outlook was so broad and humane that some of his verses are later found quoted in the Adi-Granth of the Sikhs. He avoided the company of the Sultan and the Amirs. He used to say, “Every darvesh who makes friends with the nobles will end badly”. Baba Farid raised the chisti order of the Sufis to the status of an all India organisation by his high mysticism and the religions activities. He breathed his last in 1268 A.D.

Nizam-ud-din Auliya (1235-1325):

Nizam-ud-din Auliya was the most famous of the Chisti Saints. He was the disciple of Baba Farid. He came to Delhi in 1258 and settled in the Village Chiaspur near Delhi. In his life time seven Sultans ruled over Delhi, but he did not go to any of them. When the Sultan Ala-ud-din Khilizi once expressed his desire to meet him, he said, “I have two doors in my home. If the Sultan would enter through one door I would go out through the other.”

Nizam-ud-din’s strong personality and mystic ideology made him most popular. He laid much emphasis on love which leads one to the realization of God. He also said that love of God means love of humanity. Thus he spread the message of universal love and brotherhood. He said that those who love god for the sake of human beings and those who love human beings for the sake of God are favorite to God. This is the best way to love and adore God. However, preaching his teachings for a long period he breathed his last in 1325 A.D. After him, the Chistis did not stay around Delhi they dispersed and extended their message to the eastern and southern parts of India.

The Bhakti Movement:

The Bhakti movement was another glorious religious movement in the history of India. It was purely based on devotion to God and nothing else. Devotion means Bhakti through which one can realize God. The chief exponents of this cult were Ramanuja, Nimbarka, Ramananda, Vallabhacharya, Kabir, Nanak and Sri Chaityana. They preached the doctrine of love and devotion to realize God. Therefore the movement came to be known as Bhakti Movement.

The concept of Bhakti or devotion to God was not new to Indians. It is very much present in the Vedas, but it was not emphasized during the early period. Much later during the Gupta period, when the worship of Lord Vishnu developed, many holy books including the Ramayan and the Mahabharata were composed depicting the love and mystical union of the individual with God. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata, though written earlier were re-written during the Gupta times. Therefore Bhakti was accepted, along with Jnana and Karma, as one of the recognized roads to salvation. But this way (Marga) was not popularized till the end of fourteenth century in India.

However, the development of Bhakti started in South India between the seventh and the twelfth century. During this period the Shaiva Nayanars and the Vaishnavite disregarded the austerities preached by the Jains and the Buddhists and preached personal devotion to God as a means of Salvation. They also disregarded the rigidities of the caste system and unnecessary rites and rituals of Hindu religion.

They carried their message of love and personal devotion to God to various parts of South India by using the local languages. Although there were many points of contact between south and north India, the transmission of the ideas of Bhakti Saints from South to north India was a slow and long drawn-out process.

It was mainly due to the fact that Shaiva Nayanars and the Vaishnavite alvars preached in the Local Languages. And use of Sanskrit language was still less. However the ideas of Bhakti were carried to the north by scholars as well as by saints. Among these mention may be made of Namadeva, Ramananda, Ramanuja, Nimbarka, Vallabhacharya etc.

Namadeva was a Maharashtrian Saint who flourished in the first part of the fourteenth century. He was a tailor who had taken to banditry before he became a saint. His poetry which was written in Marathi breathes a spirit of intense love and devotion to God. Namadeva is said to have travelled far and wide and engaged in discussions with the Sufi Saints in Delhi.

Ramananda was also a Maharashtra Saint who belonged to the period between the second half of the fourteenth and the first quarter of the fifteenth century. He was a follower of Ramanuja. He was born at prayag (Allahabad) and lived there at Banaras. He was a great devotee of Lord Ram and therefore he substituted the worship of Ram in place of Vishnu. He was dead against caste system in India.

He picked up disciples from different castes of Indian Society. He taught his doctrine of Bhakti to all the four Varna’s, and disregarded the ban on people of different castes cooking or eating their meals together. Among his disciples there were a cobbler, a weaver, a barber and a butcher. His favorite disciple was Kabir who was a weaver.

His disciples also included women like Padmavati and Surasari. He was broad in enrolling his disciples. Ramananda founded a new school of vaishnavism based on the gospel of love and devotion. He laid stress on the Worship of Ram and Sita. He preached in Hindi instead of Sanskrit. Thus his teachings became popular among the common men.

Ramanuja was a great preacher of Bhakti cult. He flourished in the early part of the twelfth century. He belonged to South India. He was a follower of Vaishnavism. His great disciple was Ramananda. He preached that devotion to God was the only way to attain Salvation. He disregarded caste system and lined to be entertained by the low caste people.

Nimbarka was another great preacher of Bhakti Cult. He belonged to the South, but spent most of his life in Mathura. He was a great devotee of Lord Krishna and Radha. He preached the doctrine of Self Surrender. Vallabhacharya was another distinguished preacher of the Bhakti Cult. He was born in a telugu Brahman family in Banaras in 1479.

He was a great devotee of Lord Krishna. He spent most of his time at Vrindavana, Mathura and Banaras and preached Krishna Bhakti or devotion to Lord Krishna. He was the founder of the pushti marga, the path of divine grace. He preached that the follower of Pushti Marga or the path of divine grace will definitely get the highest bliss.

Besides these great preachers of Bhakti Cult, there were other three prominent exponents of the cult who by their sincere efforts not only popularised the Bhakti Cult but also immortalised themselves in the history of India. They were Kabir, Nanak and Sri Chaitanya.


Among those who was most critical of the existing social order and made a strong plea for Hindu-Muslim Unity, the name of Kabir stands out. Kabir was a Champion of the Bhakti Cult. Of course there is a good deal of uncertainty about the dates and early life of Kabir. According to a legend, Kabir was the son of a brahmana widow who due to certain reasons left him after his birth in a helpless condition on the bank of a tank at Banaras in 1440 A.D.

Fortunately a Muslim weaver Niru by name saw the baby and took him home. He was brought up in the house of a Muslim Weaver. But he was not given proper education. He learnt weaving from his foster father and made it his profession. Kabir from his very childhood developed a love for religion. While living at Kashi he came in contact with a great saint named Ramananda who accepted him as his disciple.

He also met a number of Hindu and Muslim Saints. Though he was married and later become the father of two children his love for God could not be wiped out amidst worldly cares. He did not leave home. He spent his life as a family man. He at the same time started preaching his faith in Hindi Language. He attracted thousands of people by his simple spell bounding speech. His followers were both the Hindus and the Muslims.

He breathed his last in 1510. It is said there happened a miracle after his death. His dead body was claimed by both the Hindu and the Muslim followers. Even a quarrel took place over this issue. After some time a follower out of curiosity lifted the cloth which had covered Kabir’s dead body. To the utter surprise of everybody present there, it was found a heap of flowers at the place of the body. Where did the body go? Realizing its implication both Hindu and Muslim followers distributed flowers among themselves.


The teachings of Kabir were very simple. He first of all emphasized on the unity of God. He said, we may call the God by any name such as Rama, Hari, Govinda, Allah, Sahib etc. it makes no difference. They are one and the same. Kabir said God is formless. He strongly denounced idol-worship. He also did not believe in incarnations (Avatara) of God. He disregarded formal worships and practices like idol-worship, Pilgrimages, bathing in holy rivers.

He advised people not to give up the life of a normal house holder for the sake of a saintly life. He said that neither asceticism nor book knowledge could give us true knowledge. Dr. Tara Chand says ‘The mission of Kabir was to preach a religion of love which would unite all castes and creeds. He disregarded the outer form and formalities of both Hindu and Islamic religion. Kabir strongly denounced the caste system. He gave emphasis on the unity of men and opposed all kinds of discrimination between human beings.

His sympathizers were with the poor man, with whom he identified himself. The teachings of Kabir appealed both Hindus and Muslims. His followers were called as Kabir panthis or the followers of Kabir. His poems were called as dohas. After his death, his followers collected his poems and named it Bijak.


Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism was one of the great exponents of Bhakti Cult. He was born in 1469 in the village of Talwandi (now called Nankana) on the bank of the River Ravi in the state of Punjab. Nanak from his very childhood showed a religious bent of mind and later preferred the company of Saints and Sadhus.

Although he married early and inherited his father’s profession of accountancy, he did not take interest either. He had a mystic vision and forsook the worldly life. He composed hymns and sang them with stringed instrument which was played by his faithful follower named Mardana.

He is said to have made wide tours all over India, even beyond it, to Srilanka in the South and Mecca and Medina in the west. He attracted a large number of croweds where-ever he went. His name and fame spread far and wide and before his death in 1538 he was already known to the world as a great saint.


First of all like Kabir, Nanak laid emphasis on the oneness of Godheads. He preached that through love and devotion one can get the grace of God and the ultimate Salvation. He said, “Caste, creed or sect have nothing to do with the Love and Worship of God.” Like Kabir, he said, “God does not live in any temple or mosque. One cannot realize Him by taking bath in holy rivers or going on pilgrimages or performing rites and rituals. One can attain him by complete surrender.

Therefore like Kabir, he strongly denounced idol-worship, Pilgrimages and other formal observances of the various faiths. However Nanak laid great emphasis on the purity of character and conduct as the first condition of approaching God. He also laid emphasis on the need of a Guru for guidance. He spoke about the universal brotherhood of man.

Nanak had no intention of founding a new religion. He only wanted to bridge the differences and distinctions between the Hindus and the Muslims in order to create an atmosphere of peace, goodwill, mutual trust and mutual give and take. The scholars have given different opinions about the impact of his teachings on Hindus and Muslims.

It has been argued that the old forms of religion continued almost unchanged. It also did not affect any major change in the caste system. Of course his ideas in course of time gave birth to a new creed called Sikhism.

However in a broader sense it can be viewed that both Kabir and Nanak could create a climate of opinion which continued to work through the succeeding centuries. Their teachings had been reflected greatly in the religious ideas and policies of Akbar.

Sri Chaitanya:

The worship of Lord Vishnu was much popularized in the form Rama and Krishna, his incarnations, in the later phase of Bhakti Movement. It became a sectarian movement and the champion of this movement was Sri Chaitanya. But the Bhakti movement led by Kabir and Nanak were non- sectarian. The Bhakti Movement of Sri Chaitanya based on the concept of love between Lord Srikrishna and the milk-maids of Gokul, especially Radha.

He used the love between Radha and Krishna in an allegoric manner to depict the relationship of Love, in its various aspects of the individual soul with the Supreme Soul. In addition to love and devotion as a method of worship, he added the musical gathering or Kirtan which can give a special form of mystic experience while praying Him (God).

Through this method of worship one gets himself detached from the outside world. According to Chaitanya, worship consisted of love and devotion and song and dance which produced a state of ecstasy in which the presence of God, whom we called Hari, could be realised. He said that such a worship could be carried out by all h-respective of caste, colour and creed.

The teachings of Sri Chaitanya had profound impact in Bengal and Orissa. His love and form of worship crossed all the man made boundaries of the Indian Society and he welcomed the people into his fold irrespective of caste, creed and sex.

Sri Chaitanya, who took the Bhakti Movement to the extraordinary heights of lyrical fervour and love, was born at Nawadip or Nabadwip (Nadia) a place in West-Bengal. His parents Jagananth Mishra and Sachi Devi was a pious Brahmin couple migrated from Orissa. They gave Chaitanya early education in Bengali and Sanskrit. His early name was Bishwambhar but he was popularly known as Nimai.

He was also called Goura as he was white in complexion. Chaitanya’s birth place Nadia was the centre of vedantic rationalism. So from an early life he had developed an interest in reading scriptures. He had acquired proficiency in Sanskrit literature, logic and grammar. He was a great lover and admirer of Krishna. His biographer Krishna Das Kabiraj says “Sri Chaitanya used to say, O Krishna! I don’t want education, power or followers.” Give me a little faith which will enhance my devotion to you. He was very unfortunate from family point of view, as he had lost his parents and his wife at an early age.

However at the age of 22 he visited Gaya where he was initiated into the Krishna cult by a recluse. He became a god-intoxicated devotee who incessantly uttered the name of Krishna. Chaitanya is said to have travelled all over India in spreading the Krishna Cult. He spent most of his time in Puri, Orissa on the feet of Lord Jagannath.

His influence on the people of Orissa was tremendous. He is said to have initiated Prataprudra Dev, the Gujapati king of Orissa into his cult. He is still worshipped as Gauraong Mahaprabhu as the very incarnation of Krishna and Vishnu. He is said to have disappeared in the temple of Lord Jagannath in 1533 A.D.

Causes of the Popularity of Bhakti Movement:

The causes of the popularity of the Bhakti movement are not far to seek. There are mainly two causes which are clearly seen behind its success. The first and the foremost cause was the simplicity of the Bhakti cult as well as the simplicity of its teachings. The second great cause was that it was preached in the local languages.

The Results of Bhakti movement:

The results of the Bhakti movement were far-reaching.

The first and the foremost result was that it minimized the differences and distinctions between the Hindus and the Muslims. The people of one religion tried to understand the people of other religion.

Secondly, the caste system gradually lost its previous importance as the Bhakti preachers disregarded it.

Thirdly, the spiritual life of the people became very simple and more developed than before.

Lastly, the movement had tremendous impact on the literature and language of the country. It helped the regional languages to get enriched in spreading the cult of Radha and Krishna. Bhakti Literature were produced in plenty in different regional languages. In Orissa Bhakti literature in Oriya language were produced by Panchasakha and others.

And this Bhakti movement has ever lasting influence on the people of India and outside. Even Akbar the great, was greatly influenced by the Bhakti and Sufi Philosophers, which made him to follow a secular stand in the field of religion.

Islam and Indian Culture

Islam as an independent religion made its emergence in the first half of the 7th century A.D. Prophet Mohammad was the founder of this religion. He gave a cultural and spiritual unity to the people of Arab who accepted this new religion. The followers of Islam are called the Muslims.


The Arab invasion of Sindh in 712 A.D. was a notable event in the annals of Indian history because for the first time the Muslims attacked India under the leadership of Muhammad Bin Kasim.

Consequently the Muslims acquired political supremacy over the land and continued to rule over India for about five centuries.

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Of course, this was not the first foreign rule in India. Long before the arrival of the Muslims, foreign rulers like Indo-Greeks, Sakas, Indo-Parthians and Kushanas had ruled over significant parts of the Indian sub-continent. Though these outsiders ruled India politically, soon they were influenced by the socio-cultural traits of Hinduism. Hinduism with its all- assimilative force Indianised these alien invaders and brought them into its fold.

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As these early foreigners lacked a clearly defined religious system, on their arrival in India they readily embraced the spiritual ideals of the country. They were never proselytized to accept Hinduism but became indivisible members of this great religion without any hesitation. The situation, however, was different with Islam. It was a full-fledged religious faith with proper language, script, laws, customs and even a theory of state. Naturally with the growth of Islam, the other pre-Islamic states of central Asia came under the powerful spell of Islam and they were all Islamized.

In India, therefore, Islam remained as a unique exception to the strong assimilative force of Hinduism. The idea of absorption into Hinduism became quite ineffective when it came in contact with Islam. These Muslim invaders remained as a distinct unit being conscious of their own identity.

The Muslim rulers maintained their courts, officials, bureaucracy, legal system, language, practices, customs and beliefs in their own style. The Sultanate period, ranging from the 13th century till the advent of the Mughals in 1526 A.D. was very eventful. During this period due to the influence of Islam two religious movements, namely Sufi and Bhakti, brought about a tremendous change in the socio-cultural scenario of India.

It is a fact of history that whenever two communities with separate backgrounds, civilizations and cultures stay together for centuries, it is quite natural that they influence each other mutually. History is replete with such phenomena. However opposing or different their outlooks may be, a cultural interaction does take place. Exactly the same process took place in the medieval period of Indian history.

The Sufi saints from the Muslim community and the Bhakti preachers of Hinduism tried to bridge the gap by asserting the oneness of two religions with emphasis on devotion and true piety. They asserted the effectiveness of two religions, which were but different paths leading to the realization of the same invisible power-God or Allah. Sarkar and Dutta rightly remark, “The Hindus and the Mohmmedans of India had come to be considerably influenced by each other’s thoughts and customs and mutual toleration was taking the place of medieval fanaticism.”

Both the communities now began to imbibe each other’s thoughts, traditions and customs. This Hindu-Muslim unity left tremendous impact on the cultural domain of India.

Language and Literature:

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One of the most significant results of Hindu-Muslim co-existence was felt in the realm of language and literature. During the time of Muslim rule in India, the rulers introduced their own languages like Arabic and Persian into Indian administration. The existing Indian languages such as Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, Guajarati etc. were considerably influenced by Persian, Arabic and Turkish languages of the Muslim community. In this process of linguistic intermingling, the literary tradition of the country underwent a sea-change. Many books in different Indian languages were translated into Persian and Arabic and the vice versa.

The court language of the Muslim rulers in India was Persian. So much importance was given to the writing of history of India in Persian. Further, the rulers patronized the growth of Persian learning and arts. As a result, monumental historical accounts were compiled during this period that serve as invaluable historical sources even today.

Prominent among them are:

1. Taj-ul-Maasir by Hasan Niazami

2. Tabaqat-i-Nasiri by Minaj Siraj,

4. Fatwah-i-Jahangiri by Ziauddin Barani

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5. Tarikh-i-Firujsahi by Afif

6. Futuh-us-Salatin by Isami

7. Tarikh-i-Mubaraksahi by Yahya Sirhindi

9. Thugug Nama by Amir Khashru

Besides such historical accounts, noteworthy Sanskrit works too were translated into Arabic and Persian.

1. Tutt Nama (Book of the Parrot)

2. A collection of Fifty-two short stories by Zia Nakhshabi

3. Translation of Bliagavat Pur ana by Raja Todarmal

4. Translation of Atharva Veda and Ramayana by Mullah Abdul Qadir Badani

5. Translation of Panchatantra by Ibn-ul-Muquaffa

6. Translation of classical works on mathematics of Lilibati into Arabic by Faizi

7. Translation of certain parts of Mahabharat into Arabic by Abu Salih Ibn and later by Abul Hassan Ali

Firoz Tughlaq had ordered the translation of certain books on medicine in Sanskrit into Persian. Abul Fazal and his brother Faizi translated the Sanskrit works into Persian usually with the help of Sanskrit pundits and scholars. Translation of Arabic, Turkish and Kashmiri works were also undertaken.

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During the reign of Sultan Zainul Abidin of Kashmir, Mahabharata and Rajtarangini were translated into Kashmiri language. The famous adventures of Sindbad the sailor were translated and included in the Arabian Nights which was partly of Indian origin.

The translation of Sanskrit works into Persian continued with similar momentum throughout the entire Muslim period. The Mughal rulers even patronized the famous Hindi poets like Sunderdas, Chintamani, Kavindra Acharya, Jagannath Tripathy, Indrajit Tripathy and Samant. Amir Khushru, Amir Hasan, Dihalvi and Malik Muhammad Jaisi were Persian poets of repute who penned their immortal works during this period.

The tradition of writing history got impetus during the Mughal period. The famous chroniclers of the period were Abul Fazl, Nizamuddin Ahmad, Badauni, Abdul Hamid Lahori, Khafi Khan and Saqi Mustaid Khan. Moreover, rulers like Jahangir and ladies from the royal family like Gulbadan Begum too recorded socio-political accounts of their age for posterity.

Birth of Urdu:

The most remarkable impact of foreign languages on the indigenous literary tradition was the birth of Urdu language. It was popularly called the camp language during the Mughal period. It was born out of military necessity to understand each other when the Rajput’s and Muslim soldiers camped at one place to fight a war or suppress a rebellion on behalf of the emperor.

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The common language of the Indians was Hindi and under the Sultans Persian was the court language. By continuous interaction between, the two languages a mixed variety of language called Urdu was born having Persian script and many resemblances with Hindi language and style. Thus Urdu became the most volatile and lyrical language which was basically a product of linguistic synthesis. Urdu rose to prominence during the early phase of British rule in India. In subsequent years, the British authorities elevated Urdu to the status of court language. Since then it has retained its status as a powerful and flourishing language of India.

Vernacular Language:

Indian vernacular language had been benefitted by Islamic influence to a great extent. The Muslim rulers of Bengal and Lucknow were great patrons of Bengali and Hindi literatures. In the South the Sultans of Bijapur and Golconda also encouraged this trend. Muslim influence on Hindi language, grammar, rhetoric and style are now accepted facts. Similarly in Guajarati, Marathi and Punjabi languages, the imprints of Persian and Arabic languages are quite obvious. It has been rightly noted by Prof Sarkar and Dutta,

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“Muslim writers wrote in vernaculars on subjects of Hindu life and tradition as Jaisi did on Padmini and Hindu writers too produced works after Muslim literary tradition in Persian languages as Rai Bhanamal did in the line of chronicles.”

Art and Architecture:

With the establishment of Muslim rule in India there was a marked growth in cultural excellence in the realm of art and architecture. The Muslim rulers of India were great patrons of art. They brought with them significant impressions of Islamic style of art. New designs, new modes of construction like spherical domes, arches, tall minarets, open courtyards, pillared caves, huge walls etc. were introduced in architectural creations following the Islamic style. But these changes in designs were carried out by Hindu craftsmen. As a result a fusion of Hindu and Muslim styles of art took place. From this interaction a new style of art called Indo-Islamic art tradition gradually evolved. To quote Sir John Marshall,

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“Indo-Islamic art was neither merely a local variety of Islamic art nor a modified form of Hindu architecture. It derives its character from both sources though not always in an equal degree.” Thus with a new majestic spirit Indo-Islamic art manifested itself through different channels that included two types of structure, namely,

Religious structures mainly consisted of mosques and tombs. Secular structures included those meant for public and civic purposes like palaces, forts, town gates etc. The first phase of Muslim rule in India, i.e., from 1206 A.D. to 1526 A.D., otherwise called the Sultanate period, is marked by three styles of architecture:

(i) Imperial or Delhi style of architecture

(ii) Provincial style, of architecture

(iii) Hindu style of architecture

Imperial or Delhi Style of Architecture:

Imperial or Delhi style of architecture is to be found in Delhi and its neighbouring areas.

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The following important structures come under this style:

7. Tombs of Mubarak Sayyid and Sikandar Lodhi

The Qutab Minar was the most impressive among them all. In the words of Percy Brown,

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“Qutab Minar as a whole is the most impressive conception, the vivid colour of its red sandstone, the changing texture of its fluted storeyes with their overlay of plain masonry and rich carvings, the shimmer of the shadows under the balconies, all combine to produce an effect of marked vitality.”

Provincial Style of Architecture:

After the decline of the Sultanate of Delhi the rulers of provincial dynasties asserted independence and began to build tombs, mosques and palaces on their own. Hence these structures had their respective regional trends and manifestations that were quite different from the Delhi style of architecture. They formed a separate category called Provincial style of architecture. This style was enriched with local artistic traditions and technical differences.

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Within this district category the following structures deserve specific mention:

1. Tomb of Sah-Rukn-i-Alam in Punjab,

2. Adiana Masjid, Dakliil Darwaja, Chhota Sona Masjid and Bada Sona Masjid of Bengal,

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3. Jami Masjid, Teen Darwaja, Tomb of Ahmad Shah in Gujarat,

4. Jahaj Mahal, Ashrafi Mahal, Hindola Mahal, Tomb of Hushang Shah in Malwa,

5. Biwi-ki-Masjid in Khandesh,

6. Chand Minar of Daulatabad, Gol Gumbaz, Mithar Mahal, Zenana Mahal and Deval Mosque in the Deccan.

Hindu Style of Architecture:

When the Sultanate of Delhi lavishly patronized the architectural growth of the country, the Hindu rulers also did not lag behind. Different Hindu ruling dynasties extended their helping hands for the growth of structures of art. These Hindu structures had their own peculiarities marked by narrow pillars, cornice or chhaja, corbel brackets, tapering arches, decorative designs and figures with liberal doses of religious sanctity. This style of architecture flourished mainly in Rajasthan and at Vijaynagar in the South.

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Some examples of this style are:

1. Tower of Victory at Chittor

2. Fort of Kumbhalgarh

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3. Jai Stambha in Rajasthan

From 1526 A.D. to 1707 A.D. the Mughal rulers ruled over India. It was during this period that Indo-Islamic architecture reached the pinnacle of glory and magnificence. The artistic temperament of the rulers and economic prosperity along with liberal royal support brought in its wake an outburst of architectural activities.

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Prominent structures of the Mughal period include the following:

2. Tomb of Sher Shah at Sasaram

3. Tomb of Humayun at Delhi

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4. Buland Darwaja, Diwan-i-khas at Fatehpur Sikri

5. Tomb of Akbar at Sikandara.

7. Red Fort at Delhi and Agra

9. Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daula at Agra

The architectures of the Mughal period are marked by splendor and form, graceful domes, magnificent palace halls, decorated gateways of slender pillars. These pieces of architecture reveal a splendid synthesis of Persian and Indian style – Muslim structure with Hindu decoration. To quote Tara Chand,

“The craftsmanship, ornamental richness and general design remained largely Hindu while the arches, plain domes, smooth’ faced walls and spacious interiors were Muslim superimposition.” The other side of the picture is equally interesting. From the second half of the 16th century Hindu buildings showed traces of Mughal architecture. The romantic city of Amber, the palaces of Bikaner, the fortresses of Jodhpur and Orchna are the most notable instances of this style.


The art of Indian painting got a new lease of life during this period. Of course long back during the ancient period of Indian history painting had formed a part and parcel of Indian tradition. It had always been a specialty of the Indians to maintain the tradition of pictorial art. Hindus, Buddhists and Jains had carried on their paintings with carved statues and murals. The Ajanta paintings of the Gupta period are the most glorious examples.

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The Hindu art of mural painting underwent a remarkable change with the arrival of the Mughals who brought with them the tradition of Chinese-cum-Persian painting. It began with the Mughal ruler Humayun who was quite familiar with this tradition. Famous painters of Mughal India were Mir Sayyid Ali, Dost Mohammad, Basawan, Mansur, Abul Hasan et al.

The themes of the paintings were quite varied. They consisted of Razmnama (Persian translation of the Mahabharata), Hamzanama (story of Prophet Muhammad’s uncle Amir Hamza), Turik-i-Alfi (story of the first thousand years of Islam) and Padshanama (description of court ceremonies and other important events).

Towards the later part of the Mughal rule, the Rajput School and Pahari School of painting began to develop under local patronage. Though Rajput school was indigenous by nature, after coming in contact with Muslim painting, it was completely transformed and gave birth to Kanga School of painting in the 18th century. Among Pahari School of painting Basoli, Chamba and Jammu groups were noteworthy.

All these schools centred around representation of mythological themes. Thus in the field of art, architecture and painting Muslim influence maintained its uniqueness and excellence and constituted a significant phase in the annals of Indian art.


The Islamic impact was also felt keenly in the realm of music. The Muslim rulers were great lovers of music. So they openly patronized the growth of music and musicians in the country. During this period Islamic music came in close contact with Indian classical music. From this synthesis a number of new musical regulations and instruments came into existence. Even the Indian musical treatise Raag Darpan was translated into Persian during the reign of Firuz Tughlaq.

The Indian musical instrument veena combined with Iranian tambura led to the birth of a new string instrument called sitar. Besides, various other new instruments were born out of this cultural synthesis like rabab and tabla. Among the regional patrons of music mention may be made of Sultan Hussain Sharqi of Jaunpur and Raja Mansingh of Gwallior. With such a mixed patronage from Hindu and Muslim rulers a lot of changes were introduced in the Indian traditional ‘ragas’ and ‘raginis’ (melodies) to suit the demand of the audiences. The introduction of Thumri, Khayal, Qawafi and Raga Dhrupad made Indian classical compositions more melodious.

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Ain-i-Akbari provides a list of thirty six musicians in the court of Akbar who were very talented and were known all over the country. Several preachers of Bhakti cult and Sufism also adopted music as a way of their teachings. Saint Sarangadeva wrote the Encyclopaedia of Indian music known as Sangeeta Ratnakar.


The impact of Islamic culture found another outlet in the setting up of public and royal gardens. The art of gardening reached perfection during the time of Mughals who had great taste for the same.

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Prior to the arrival of the Mughals the concept of gardening as a form of line arts had not emerged. The Mughals were not only lovers of nature but also possessed the aesthetic sense to find relief from the toils of daily life through gardening. With due patronage from the rulers a systematic science of gardening with certain forms and designs began to develop.

Geometrically the Mughal Gardens was in the form a square, divided into four fold plots called char-bagh. It had an artificial irrigation system in the form of channels, tanks or dwarf waterfalls. The main pavilion was built either on the topmost terrace or on the lowest one to allow the visitor to have a complete look of the garden. Kabul Bagh and Shalimar Bagh were some of the most famous specimens of such gardens.

Other Arts:

Under the Islamic influence various other branches of arts also developed in India. Many new arts and crafts with Islamic origin began to emerge in the Indian cultural scene. The art of making jewelry with setting of pearl and other precious stones on gold and silver ornaments reached its perfection. The Peacock Throne of diamonds, emeralds, rubies and pearls is a legendary masterpiece of the Mughal period.

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For embroidery works on dresses and curtains, karkhanas (factories) with labourers, craftsmen and master artists sprang up in different parts of the country. Works on stones, marbles, metals, ivory, enamel paintings, making of paper, floral and other colourful designs on walls and glasspanes were the result of Islamic influences. Art of calligraphy, weaving and dyeing also developed during the Mughal rule. With such innovative techniques, silk brocades, magnificent carpets, muslin clothes and shawls began to be very popular.


Thus, Islamic impact left a lasting influence on various aspects of Indian culture. The indigenous cultural tradition underwent a great transformation after coming in contact with Islamic heritage over several centuries in the realms of literature, art, social customs etc. The effects of this cultural synthesis are no longer alien and have become an integral part of Indian culture.

Mughal India

The modern World today is facing a global threat from organizations and groups of terrorists such as the ISIS, Taliban a.

[Editor's note: Sikhism believes in defence of all people including themselves. This article is not meant to single out any religion but rather tyranny itself.]

The genocide suffered by the Hindus of India at the hands of Arab, Turkish, Mughal and Afghan occupying forces for a period of 800 years is as yet formally unrecognised by the World.

With the invasion of India by Mahmud Ghazni about 1000 A.D., began the Muslim invasions into the Indian subcontinent and they lasted for several centuries. Nadir Shah made a mountain of the skulls of the Hindus he killed in Delhi alone. Babur raised towers of Hindu skulls at Khanua when he defeated Rana Sanga in 1527 and later he repeated the same horrors after capturing the fort of Chanderi. Akbar ordered a general massacre of 30,000 Rajputs after he captured Chithorgarh in 1568. The Bahamani Sultans had an annual agenda of killing a minimum of 100,000 Hindus every year.

The history of medieval India is full of such instances. The holocaust of the Hindus in India continued for 800 years, till the brutal regimes were effectively overpowered in a life and death struggle by the Sikhs in the Panjab and the Hindu Maratha armies in other parts of India in the late 1700’s.

We have elaborate literary evidence of the World’s biggest holocaust from existing historical contemporary eyewitness accounts. The historians and biographers of the invading armies and subsequent rulers of India have left quite detailed records of the atrocities they committed in their day-to-day encounters with India’s Hindus.

These contemporary records boasted about and glorified the crimes that were committed – and the genocide of tens of millions of Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhist and Jainist, mass rapes of women and the destruction of thousands of ancient Hindu / Buddhist temples and libraries have been well documented and provide solid proof of the World’s biggest holocaust.

Quotes from modern historians

Dr. Koenraad Elst in his article “Was There an Islamic Genocide of Hindus?” states:

“There is no official estimate of the total death toll of Hindus at the hands of Islam. A first glance at important testimonies by Muslim chroniclers suggests that, over 13 centuries and a territory as vast as the Subcontinent, Muslim Holy Warriors easily killed more Hindus than the 6 million of the Holocaust. Ferishtha lists several occasions when the Bahmani sultans in central India (1347-1528) killed a hundred thousand Hindus, which they set as a minimum goal whenever they felt like punishing the Hindus and they were only a third-rank provincial dynasty.

The biggest slaughters took place during the raids of Mahmud Ghaznavi (ca. 1000 CE) during the actual conquest of North India by Mohammed Ghori and his lieutenants (1192 ff.) and under the Delhi Sultanate (1206-1526).“

He also writes in his book “Negation in India”:

“The Muslim conquests, down to the 16th century, were for the Hindus a pure struggle of life and death. Entire cities were burnt down and the populations massacred, with hundreds of thousands killed in every campaign, and similar numbers deported as slaves. Every new invader made (often literally) his hills of Hindus skulls. Thus, the conquest of Afghanistan in the year 1000 was followed by the annihilation of the Hindu population the region is still called the Hindu Kush, i.e. Hindu slaughter.”

Will Durant argued in his 1935 book “The Story of Civilisation: Our Oriental Heritage” (page 459):

“The Mohammedan conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. The Islamic historians and scholars have recorded with great glee and pride the slaughters of Hindus, forced conversions, abduction of Hindu women and children to slave markets and the destruction of temples carried out by the warriors of Islam during 800 AD to 1700 AD. Millions of Hindus were converted to Islam by sword during this period.”

Francois Gautier in his book ‘Rewriting Indian History’ (1996) wrote:

“The massacres perpetuated by Muslims in India are unparalleled in history, bigger than the Holocaust of the Jews by the Nazis or the massacre of the Armenians by the Turks more extensive even than the slaughter of the South American native populations by the invading Spanish and Portuguese.”

Alain Danielou in his book, Histoire de l’ Inde writes:

“From the time Muslims started arriving, around 632 AD, the history of India becomes a long, monotonous series of murders, massacres, spoliations, and destructions. It is, as usual, in the name of ‘a holy war’ of their faith, of their sole God, that the barbarians have destroyed civilizations, wiped out entire races.”

Irfan Husain in his article “Demons from the Past” observes:

“While historical events should be judged in the context of their times, it cannot be denied that even in that bloody period of history, no mercy was shown to the Hindus unfortunate enough to be in the path of either the Arab conquerors of Sindh and south Punjab, or the Central Asians who swept in from Afghanistan…The Muslim heroes who figure larger than life in our history books committed some dreadful crimes. Mahmud of Ghazni, Qutb-ud-Din Aibak, Balban, Mohammed bin Qasim, and Sultan Mohammad Tughlak, all have blood-stained hands that the passage of years has not cleansed..Seen through Hindu eyes, the Muslim invasion of their homeland was an unmitigated disaster.

“Their temples were razed, their idols smashed, their women raped, their men killed or taken slaves. When Mahmud of Ghazni entered Somnath on one of his annual raids, he slaughtered all 50,000 inhabitants. Aibak killed and enslaved hundreds of thousands. The list of horrors is long and painful. These conquerors justified their deeds by claiming it was their religious duty to smite non-believers. Cloaking themselves in the banner of Islam, they claimed they were fighting for their faith when, in reality, they were indulging in straightforward slaughter and pillage…”

A sample of contemporary eyewitness accounts of the invaders and rulers, during the Indian conquests

The Afghan ruler Mahmud al-Ghazni invaded India no less than seventeen times between 1001 – 1026 AD. The book ‘Tarikh-i-Yamini’ – written by his secretary documents several episodes of his bloody military campaigns : “The blood of the infidels flowed so copiously [at the Indian city of Thanesar] that the stream was discoloured, notwithstanding its purity, and people were unable to drink it…the infidels deserted the fort and tried to cross the foaming river…but many of them were slain, taken or drowned… Nearly fifty thousand men were killed.”

In the contemporary record – ‘ Taj-ul-Ma’asir’ by Hassn Nizam-i-Naishapuri, it is stated that when Qutb-ul- Din Aibak (of Turko – Afghan origin and the First Sultan of Delhi 1194-1210 AD) conquered Meerat, he demolished all the Hindu temples of the city and erected mosques on their sites. In the city of Aligarh, he converted Hindu inhabitants to Islam by the sword and beheaded all those who adhered to their own religion.

The Persian historian Wassaf writes in his book ‘Tazjiyat-ul-Amsar wa Tajriyat ul Asar’ that when the Alaul-Din Khilji (An Afghan of Turkish origin and second ruler of the Khilji Dynasty in India 1295-1316 AD) captured the city of Kambayat at the head of the gulf of Cambay, he killed the adult male Hindu inhabitants for the glory of Islam, set flowing rivers of blood, sent the women of the country with all their gold, silver, and jewels, to his own home, and made about twentv thousand Hindu maidens his private slaves.

This ruler once asked his spiritual advisor (or ‘Qazi’) as to what was the Islamic law prescribed for the Hindus. The Qazi replied:

“Hindus are like the mud if silver is demanded from them, they must with the greatest humility offer gold. If a Mohammadan desires to spit into a Hindu’s mouth, the Hindu should open it wide for the purpose. God created the Hindus to be slaves of the Mohammadans. The Prophet hath ordained that, if the Hindus do not accept Islam, they should be imprisoned, tortured, finally put to death, and their property confiscated.”

Timur was a Turkic conqueror and founder of the Timurid Dynasty. Timur’s Indian campaign (1398 – 1399 AD) was recorded in his memoirs, collectively known as ‘Tuzk-i-Timuri.’ In them, he vividly described probably the greatest gruesome act in the entire history of the world – where 100,000 Hindu prisoners of war in his camp were executed in a very short space of time. Timur after taking advice from his entourage says in his memoirs :

“they said that on the great day of battle these 100,000 prisoners could not be left with the baggage, and that it would be entirely opposed to the rules of war to set these idolaters and foes of Islam at liberty.

“In fact, no other course remained but that of making them all food for the sword’

Timur thereupon resolved to put them to death. He proclaimed :

“throughout the camp that every man who has infidel prisoners was to put them to death, and whoever neglected to do so should himself be executed and his property given to the informer. When this order became known to the ghazis of Islam, they drew their swords and put their prisoners to death. 100,000 infidels, impious idolaters, were on that day slain. Maulana Nasir-ud-din Umar, a counselor and a man of learning, who, in all his life had never killed a sparrow, now, in execution of my order, slew with his sword fifteen idolatrous Hindus, who were his captives“.

During his campaign in India – Timur describes the scene when his army conquered the Indian city of Delhi :

“In a short space of time all the people in the [Delhi] fort were put to the sword, and in the course of one hour the heads of 10,000 infidels were cut off. The sword of Islam was washed in the blood of the infidels, and all the goods and effects, the treasure and the grain which for many a long year had been stored in the fort became the spoil of my soldiers.

“They set fire to the houses and reduced them to ashes, and they razed the buildings and the fort to the ground….All these infidel Hindus were slain, their women and children, and their property and goods became the spoil of the victors. I proclaimed throughout the camp that every man who had infidel prisoners should put them to death, and whoever neglected to do so should himself be executed and his property given to the informer. When this order became known to the ghazis of Islam, they drew their swords and put their prisoners to death.”

The Mughal emperor Babur (who ruled India from 1526 -1530 AD) writing in his memoirs called the ‘Baburnama’ – wrote : ” In AH 934 (2538 C.E.) I attacked Chanderi and by the grace of Allah captured it in a few hours. We got the infidels slaughtered and the place which had been Daru’l-Harb (nation of non-muslims) for years was made into a Daru’l-Islam (a muslim nation).”

In Babur’s own words in a poem about killing Hindus (From the ‘Baburnama’ ) he wrote :

“For the sake of Islam I became a
I battled infidels and Hindus,
I determined to become a martyr
Thank God I became a Killer of

The atrocities of the Mughal ruler Shah Jahan (who ruled India between 1628 – 1658 AD) are mentioned in the contemporary record called : ‘Badshah Nama, Qazinivi & Badshah Nama , Lahori’ and goes on to state : “When Shuja was appointed as governor of Kabul he carried on a ruthless war in the Hindu territory beyond Indus…The sword of Islam yielded a rich crop of converts….Most of the women (to save their honour) burnt themselves to death. Those captured were distributed among Muslim Mansabdars (Noblemen)”

The Afghan ruler Ahmad Shah Abdali attacked India in 1757 AD and made his way to the holy Hindu city of Mathura, the Bethlehem of the Hindus and birthplace of Krishna.

The atrocities that followed are recorded in the contemporary chronicle called : ‘Tarikh-I-Alamgiri’ :

“Abdali’s soldiers would be paid 5 Rupees (a sizeable amount at the time) for every enemy head brought in. Every horseman had loaded up all his horses with the plundered property, and atop of it rode the girl-captives and the slaves. The severed heads were tied up in rugs like bundles of grain and placed on the heads of the captives…Then the heads were stuck upon lances and taken to the gate of the chief minister for payment.

“It was an extraordinary display! Daily did this manner of slaughter and plundering proceed. And at night the shrieks of the women captives who were being raped, deafened the ears of the people…All those heads that had been cut off were built into pillars, and the captive men upon whose heads those bloody bundles had been brought in, were made to grind corn, and then their heads too were cut off. These things went on all the way to the city of Agra, nor was any part of the country spared.”

Banda Singh Bahadur was tortured to death after being imprisoned for 3 months. The heart of Banda Singh’s son was put in his mouth in an attempt to humiliate him

The biggest holocaust in World History has been whitewashed from history.

When we hear the word HOLOCAUST most of us think immediately of the Jewish holocaust. Today, with increased awareness and countless cinema films and television documentaries – many of us are also aware of the Holocaust of the Native American peoples, the genocide of the Armenian peoples in the Ottoman Empire, and the millions of African lives lost during the Atlantic slave trade.

Europe and America produced at least a few thousand films highlighting the human misery caused by Hitler and his army. The films expose the horrors of Nazi regime and reinforce the beliefs and attitude of the present day generation towards the evils of the Nazi dictatorship.

In contrast look at India. There is hardly any awareness among the Indians of today of what happened to their ancestors in the past, because a great majority of historians are reluctant to touch this sensitive subject.

The World seems to either ignore or just does not seem to care about the many millions of lives lost during the 800 – year long holocaust of Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhist in India.

The Indian historian Professor K.S. Lal estimates that the Hindu population in India decreased by 80 million between 1000 AD and 1525 AD, an extermination unparalleled in World history. This slaughter of millions of people occurred over regular periods during many centuries of Arab, Afghan, Turkish and Mughal rule in India.

Many Indian heroes emerged during these dark times – including the 10th Sikh Guru – Guru Gobind Singh and also the Hindu Maratha king – Shivaji Maratha – who led the resistance against this tyranny and eventually led to its defeat by the late 1700s – after centuries of death and destruction.

The modern World today is facing a global threat from organizations and groups of terrorists such as the ISIS, Taliban and Al-Qaeeda – whose ideology is chillingly similar to that of the perpetrators of the World’s biggest holocaust in India.

Let us hope that the bloody lessons of the past are learnt so that history does not even have the remotest chance of repeating itself.

Mauryan Empire- History of India

Mauryan empire : The Mauryan Empire was founded by Chandragupta Maurya between 322BCE to 187 BCE. The capital was Pataliputra and the empire spread across Magadha in the India Gangetic plain. The two great rulers Chandragupta Maurya embraced Jainism and Ashoka embraced Buddhism. All the economic activities and the administration of the empire were very good and disciplined during Chandragupta period. Ashok rule was different to that of Chandragupta Maurya. Ashoka embraced peace after the Kalinga war. To learn more on Mauryan empire click here.

Abu Akbar

Abu Akbar

Itimad-ud-Daulah's tomb in Agra is considered a landmark in Mughal architecture ©

The third Emperor, Abu Akbar, is regarded as one of the great rulers of all time, regardless of country.

Akbar succeeded to the throne at 13, and started to recapture the remaining territory lost from Babur's empire. By the time of his death in 1605 he ruled over most of north, central, and western India.

Akbar worked hard to win over the hearts and minds of the Hindu leaders. While this may well have been for political reasons - he married a Hindu princess (and is said to have married several thousand wives for political and diplomatic purposes) - it was also a part of his philosophy.

Akbar believed that all religions should be tolerated, and that a ruler's duty was to treat all believers equally, whatever their belief.

He established a form of delegated government in which the provincial governors were personally responsible to him for the quality of government in their territory.

Akbar's government machine included many Hindus in positions of responsibility - the governed were allowed to take a major part in the governing.

Akbar also ended a tax (jizya) that had been imposed on non-Muslims. This discriminatory tax had been much resented, and ending it was a popular move.

An innovation was the amount of autonomy he allowed to the provinces. For example, non-Muslims were not forced to obey Islamic law (as was the case in many Islamic lands), and Hindus were allowed to regulate themselves through their own law and institutions.

Akbar and Godism

Akbar took the policy of religious toleration even further by breaking with conventional Islam.

The Emperor proclaimed an entirely new state religion of 'God-ism' (Din-i-ilahi) - a jumble of Islamic, Hindu, Christian and Buddhist teaching with himself as deity. It never spread beyond his court and died when he did.

Fatehpur Sikri was the new capital built by Akbar, as a part of his attempt to absorb other religions into Islam. Fatehpur Sikri is a synthesis of Hindu and Islamic architecture.

How Did Islam Become Popular in India? – Impacts and Influence

Islam has become one of the most popular religion in India. There are many Islamic believer in the country. How did Islam become popular in India? Islam has indeed a long history in India, from the first it spread until it become highly popular.

Here we are going to talk about the impact and influence of Islam, particularly in the country of India. Islam has change the holistic way of living for Indian people, as well as the culture and customs in there.

Here are how di Islam become popular in India looking from the impacts and influence.

1. The Purda System and Marriage Culture

The Purda system who is largely practiced by Indian society was inspired by Islamic practices. After Islam, women in India no longer reserved themselves. They start to move out of the house using the palanquins and covered under the curtains. More than that, Islam changed the child marriage in Hindi.

It only after the spread of Islam Hindi society set a puberty age as a non-requirement to get married. It was influenced by Islam practice. Hindu women are also become more dependent to men as according to Islamic culture, men sit on the higher hierarchy than women. Also read Positive Impacts of Islam in West Africa

2. Erasing Slavery

Another impact of Islam in India is how they practiced slavery after it entered. Even when Islam no longer practice slavery, it still exist in India until today. It was one bad influence of Islam, but it’s still changed the Indian society.

3. Food and Dressing

Another result of the spread of Islam in India was the way they dressed that following Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). They follow the dressing, fashion, etiquette, and food. The Hindus in India eventually adopted Muslims etiquette up to the sitting arrangements for various classes as practiced at the Delhi court. Also read Importance of Islam in Western Civilization

4. Music and Dance

India is a country that is rich of music and dance. They have their own style to celebrate special occasion. However the music and dance that we know today was influenced by Islam. Their music style changed once the Hindus artist were in contact with Muslim singers. Thus, made Islam highly contributed in Indian classical music.

5. Rising Oneness in Religion

Before Islam, Hindus worship more than one God. Islam use the oneness system from the beginning, and it later impacted in the belief system in India. But this was not come as easy, since the entrance of Islam was more like challenge for the Hinduism upholders.

Islam introduced messages that categorized as new at the time, such as universal brotherhood, rejection of caste system, and introduction equality in the society. The oneness or monotheism has now rooted in every society in Indian people. Also read Impacts of Islam on Indian Society

6. Emergence of Liberal Religion

In the past, Indian society used the caste system where people were divided by class ever since they were born, according to their family status. But as Islam got more popular, it promotes the emergence of liberal religion that no longer use caste system to people.

7. Teaching Respect Between People

How did Islam become popular in India is because it taught mutual respect between people. Not only among Muslims but also between Hindus and Muslims. It’s a healthy spirit and mutual toleration that happen between two beliefs and it growth even more today. Also read Quran Verses of Respecting Parents

8. Developing New Linguistic System

More than mutual respect and cooperation between belief and religion, Islam also brought linguistic synthesis. Urdu that is widely used as language nowadays is the outcome of assimilation of Hindu and Muslim. In the medieval period, the Urdu was even the most common language used. As the result, many literature was published in the Urdu language.

Amir Khusru, Kutaban, Malik Muhammad Jayasi, and many other wrote about life of Hindi as well as their religion. More than that, Islamic rules practiced by Muslims are also facilitated the growth of the vernacular literature.

9. Changing Architecture

All over the India today, there are mixture between Muslim and Hindu in the architecture. Islamic influence can be seen in the massive structure such as domes, mosques, courtyards, tall minarets, huge walls, etc. Other Islamic influence were in buildings, palaces, and Hindu temples. Islam also adopted the design of Hindi such as the design of Kalash, lotus, creepers, mango leaves, etc. Also read Basic Greetings in Islam

10. Art and Painting

After the coming of Islam, there were massive changes in the style of painting. Islamic styled paintings such as ladies blowing the trumpets was followed by the Hindus. Islamic art such as the calligraphy was imitated by the Hindus.

11. Enriching the Literature

Many of the literature and history about India were influenced by the Turko-Afghans. The books were written in Parsi and it made great impacts on the Hindus. Those books were Utbi’s ‘Kitab-ul-Yamini’, Hassan Nizami’s ‘Taj-ul-Maa’ Sir, Qazi Minhaz- us-Siraj’s ‘Tabakat-i-Nasiri’ and many more.

12. Contact with Outside World

Indian people were reserved and isolated from the outside world after the fall of Gupta Empire. After Islam, the contacts were restored once again. Indian people enabled to exchange cultural and doing trade with countries in Southeast Asia, Greece, China, Egypt, and Rome.

13. Creation of Crafts

The creation of new crafts were strongly influenced by Islamic style. From that, India was able to established sustainable economy.

So that is a little explanation how did Islam become popular in India. By the day, Islam has become more popular, not only in India but throughout the world. It because more people have interest in Islam that provide the holistic way of living, so Islam is more than a religion but also a way of live.


Sufism was a liberal reform movement within Islam. It had its origin in Persia and spread into India in the eleventh century. The first Sufi saint Shaikh Ismail of Lahore started preaching his ideas. The most famous of the Sufi saints of India was Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti, who settled in Ajmer which became the centre of his activities. He had a number of disciples who are called Sufis of the Chishti order. Another well known Sufi saint was Bahauddin Zakariya who came under the influence of another famous mystic Shihabuddin Suhrawardi. His branch of Sufi saints was known as the Sufis of the Suhrawardi Order. Yet another famous Sufi saint was Nizamuddin Auliya who belonged to the Chishti order and who was a mighty spiritual force. These Sufi saints are revered even today by not only Muslims but by a large number of Hindus. Their tombs have become popular places of pilgrimage for both communities.

Sufism stressed the elements of love and devotion as effective means of the realisation of God. Love of God meant love of humanity and so the Sufis believed service to humanity was tantamount to service to God. In Sufism, self discipline was considered an essential condition to gain knowledge of God by sense of perception. While orthodox Muslims emphasise external conduct, the Sufis lay stress on inner purity. While the orthodox believe in blind observance of rituals, the Sufis consider love and devotion as the only means of attaining salvation. According to them one must have the guidance of a pir or guru, without which spiritual development is impossible. Sufism also inculcated a spirit of tolerance among its followers. Other ideas emphasised by Sufism are meditation, good actions, repentance for sins, performance of prayers and pilgrimages, fasting, charity and suppression of passions by ascetic practices.

These liberal and unorthodox features of Sufism had a profound influence on medieval Bhakti saints. In the later period, Akbar, the Mughal emperor, appreciated Sufi doctrines which shaped his religious outlook and religious policies. When the Sufi movement was becoming popular in India, about the same time the Bhakti cult was gaining strength among the Hindus. The two parallel movements based on the doctrines of love and selfless devotion contributed a great deal to bringing the two communities closer together. However, this trend did not last long.

Did you know?: The Spread of Islam in Southeast Asia through the Trade Routes

The Silk Roads are amongst some of the most important routes in our collective history. It was through these roads that relations between east and west were established, exposing diverse regions to different ideas and ways of life. Notably, these exchanges also included the diffusion of many of the world’s major religions including Islam.

After the advent of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula in the 7 th century, Islam started its expansion towards eastern regions through trade encouraged by the development of the maritime Silk Roads. Muslims were known to have a commercial talent notably encouraged by Islam, as well as excellent sailing skills. Thus, they could monopolize the East-West trade of the maritime Silk Roads, connecting various major ports of eastern Asian regions together. Indeed, their commercial ships had to halt at various ports to be supplied with water and food, be repaired, or to wait for changes in wind direction.

These interactions resulted in further expansion of Islam to the people living in important coastal cities in the Indian Subcontinent, China, or in the more distant South-eastern islands of modern Indonesia or Philippines. It is believed that Islam first arrived in these South-eastern regions by the 7 th century. Muslim merchants from the Arabian Peninsula had to pass through these islands of the south via the maritime Silk Roads to reach China's ports.

In addition, according to historical accounts, Muslim traders came to the Indonesian islands because of the rare spices present there. It is believed that some of these merchants settled in Indonesia and blended with local people. Moreover, after the arrival of Muslim merchants in Sumatra Island, the kings of the island started to follow Islam, which further facilitated their integration into the trade roads around the 12 th century AD. Archaeological evidence of the adoption of Islam amongst the royalty can be seen on tombstones engraved with the date of the Islamic year of Sumatran Kings of the 13 th century.

Regarding the islands of the Philippines, archaeological records such as porcelain wares unearthed in the archipelago that belonged to the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) and were imported to the Philippines by Muslim traders attest to the presence of Muslims before the 10 th century. Moreover, in the 13 th century, contacts between Muslim merchants and the local population, as well as commerce through the Silk Roads between the South of the Philippines and other neighbouring regions such as Brunei, Malaysia or Indonesia encouraged the spread of Islam amongst their local population.

Therefore, one would say that Islam arrived in South-East Asia in a peaceful way through trade and interactions between Muslim merchants and the locals. Similarly to Buddhism, Islam blended with existing cultural and religious influences of the Southeast Asian regions.