Saturday, December 31, 2005

Tabligh Jamaat

The emergence of the Tabligh Jamaat as a movement for the reawakening of faith can be seen as a continuation of the broader trend of Islamic revival in North India in the wake of the collapsed Muslim political power and consolidation of the British rule in India in the mid-nineteenth century. The emergence of Tabligh Jamaat was also a direct response to the rise of such aggressive Hindu proselytizing movements as the Shuddhi and Sangathan, which launched massive efforts in the early twentieth century to reconvert those Hindus who had converted to Islam in the past. Maulana Ilyas, the founder of the Tablighi Jamaat, believed that only a grassroots Islamic religious movement could counter it.

The Tablighi Jamaat originated in Mewat, in North India, inhabited by Rajput tribes known as Meos. There is evidence that there were several Meo conversion to Islam, followed by re-conversion to Hinduism whenever Muslim political power declined in the region. When Ilyas started his religious movement in Mewat, most Meos were Muslim in name only. They worshipped Hindu deities in their homes and celebrated Hindu religious festivals. They could not recite Shahadah or say their daily ritual prayers. Their birth, marriage, and death rituals were all based on Hindu customs.

Maulana Ilyas, a religious scholar of the orthodox Deoband, and a follower of the Naqshabandiyah, learned the situation. His initial effort was to establish a network of mosque-based religious schools to educate Mewati Muslim about correct Islamic beliefs and practices. But he became disillusioned with the reality that these institutions were producing religious functionaries but not preachers. Following this, he quit his teaching position at Madrasah Mazharul Ulum in Saharanpur and moved to Basti Nizamuddin in the old quarters of Delhi to begin his missionary work. Tablighi movement was formally launched in 1926 from this place.

Maulana Ilyas devoted to what he described as “the mission of the prophets”. His message was simple: “Ai Musalmano Musalman bano”. The method adopted by him was equally simple. It was to organize units of at least ten persons and send them to various villages. These units (jamaat), would visit a village, invite the local Muslim to assemble in the mosque and present their message in the form of six demands;

1. Every Muslim must be able to recite Shahadah correctly in Arabic.

2. A muslim must learn how to say the Shalat correctly.

3. To learn the basic teaching of Islam and to do dhikr.

4. To respect the fellow Muslims

5. To inculcate honesty and sincerity of purpose in such endeavors.

6. To spend some times and travel from place to place spreading the words of God.

Maulana Ilyas later added another rule asking members to abstain from wasting time in idle talk and from sinful deeds.

The movement met with spectacular success in a relatively short period. Thousands of Muslims joined Maulana Ilyas to propagate the message of Islam throughout Mewat. There were signs of Islamic religious revival everywhere in the area. Jamaat workers are rigid in following the orthodox and observing the shariah. They stayed away from politics and political controversies. Instead of publishing books, they go door to door and invite people to join their work.

Maulana Ilyas was succeeded by his son, Maulana Yusuf. During this time, this informal association with no written constitution, no standardized organizational rules and procedures, was spread beyond India to countries of Southeast Asia, the middle east, Africa, Europe and north America. The Jamaat has become a truly global Islamic movement. Its influence has grown significantly over the past two decades. Today it has followers all over the Muslim world and the West. Its 1993 annual international conference in Raiwind near Lahore, attended by more than one Million Muslims from 94 countries has become the second largest religious congregation of the Muslim world after the Hajj.
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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Jam’iyatul Ulama-I Hind

Jam’iyatul Ulama-I Hind is an organization of Muslim religious scholars of India, established in November 1919, when numerous ulama from all parts of India participated in the Khilafat Movement conference in New Delhi. Many of the members were associated with the Darul Ulum of Deoband. The organization came into being when Indians of all religious affiliations were united in the anti-British struggle. When most Muslim leaders participated in the non-cooperation movement with the Indian National Congress, Jam’iyatul Ulama-I Hind, in contrary, maintained its pro-congress attitude through out the struggle for independence and supported the idea of a united India and opposed the Pakistan movement.

The main contribution of the Jam’iyatul Ulama-I Hind to Indo-Muslim thought is the theory of “composite nationalism” to counter the “two nations theory” of the Muslim League, which formed the ideological basis of the Pakistan movement. According to the theory of “composite nationalism”, nations can be created by various factors, such as religion, race, homeland, language or color. In modern times, the most important nation-building factor has been the homeland, therefore, the Muslims of India belong to the same nation as other Indians, and India constitutes a nation despite its religious diversity.

The Jam’iyatul Ulama-I Hind thus accepted the idea of territorial nationalism. To provide with Islamic legitimacy the Ulama used classical Islamic precedent, the covenant of Madinah, in which the prophet agreed to the conclusion of non-Muslims in the same nation with Muslims. The history of Mughal India is also seen as vindicating the composite nationalism theory. The Mughal period knew no communalism; all Indians were treated equally by the rulers. Communalism emerged in India only as a result of British policy.

In order to expel the British from India and to achieve independence, there was the demand that Muslims cooperate with the Indian National Congress. The Ulama envisaged that in an independent and united India achieved with Muslim cooperation, the Muslim would have significant influence, their family, law and religious institutions would be maintained, and governments with a Muslim majority would be established in several provinces. On the basis, they appealed to Muslim not to join the Muslim League.

The Ulama were convinced that the western-educated element in the League’s leadership would never be able or willing to establish an Islamic state compatible with the traditional religious ideal of the Ulama. They held that the creation of Pakistan only worsened the communal problem. Many Muslim would remain in India and live in an atmosphere of hate due to partition. On the other hand, the establishment of a unified India, in which the Muslim would be influential and significant, would benefit not only Muslim in the subcontinent but also Muslims of the world.

In independent India, the Jam’iyatul Ulama-I Hind acquired increased importance in the new political structure. Shortly after independence, the Ulama called upon Indian Muslims to declare their loyalty to India. Several of the ideas adopted by the Ulama after partition were quite bold from traditional Islam. They accepted the idea of a secular state. They gave qualified support to the idea of a composite India culture. They supported Indian policies even on issues that were sensitive from the Muslim point of view, such as Kashmir and Hyderabad.
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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Shah Wali Ullah

In the eighteenth century, Islam in the sub-continent was faced with menacing problems. Sectarian conflict, low moral of society, poor understanding of the Holy Quran, general ignorance of Islam as well as political conflicts were the prevailing situation. These were valid grounds for fearing that political disintegration would be followed by religious collapse. Due more than anything else to the activities of Shah Wali Ullah and his family, the worse condition can be prevented, moreover, an era of religious regeneration was inaugurated.

Shah Wali Ullah Ibn Shaikh Abdur Rahim Ibn As-Shahid Wajihuddin Ibn Mu’azzam Ibn Mansur Ibn Ahmad Ibn Mahmud Dahlavi was born on Feb 21, 1703 A.D., at Delhi. His father was a Sufi and theologian of great repute. Shah Wali Ullah received his early education under his father, and later he taught at his father’s Madrasah Rahimiyah for twelve years. He left for Arabia in 1730 A.D., for higher studies, where he obtained his sanad. At the time, Muslims in India were divided into many sects and groups. When he was in Hijaz he decided to reinterpret Islam, to popularize Islamic values among the Muslims, and to present Islam in rational manner.

In order to reform the creed and call to the Quran, he translated the Holy Quran into Persian language to be understood by the people in the subcontinent. His writings of all school of thought, to understand their viewpoint, then wrote comprehensive volumes about what is fair and just and worked out a system of thought, belief and values, providing a spiritual basis for national cohesion.

His other reformative efforts were to propagate hadith and Sunnah and integration of fiqh with hadith, to reinterpret the Islamic shariah and exposition of the wisdom underlying hadith and Sunnah. Thus he recommended the application of ijtihad against blind taqlid, and interpreted Quran and hadith in the context of times. He elucidated the theory of caliphate and its basic characteristic. In this regard he refused the view of the Shi’ite.

During the era of confusion before the decline of Mughal Empire, Shah Wali Ullah played a leading role. He kept himself engaged in literary pursuits and religious reform unmindful of his surroundings as if everything normal, though Delhi was almost continuously being ravaged by the Marathas, Jats, Sikhs and invaders. He encouraged the Mughals and their nobles to get rid its disruptive elements and even preserved its independence against the British.

Shah Wali Ullah directed his teachings towards reorienting the Muslim society on the basis of social justice and removing inequalities and iniquitous distribution of wealth. He established several branches of his school at Delhi for effective dissemination of his ideas. In his book “Hujjat Allah al-Balighah”, he pinpointed the cause of chaos and disintegration of the Muslim society. They were pressure on public treasury, the emolument given to various people without doing any service to the state, heavy taxation on peasants, merchants and workers. According to him, a state can prosper only if there were light and reasonable taxes.

He wrote open letters to:

· Mughal rulers, to give up their corrupt and inefficient practices.

· Soldiers, for forgetting to inculcate within themselves the spirit of Jihad.

· Artisans, workers and peasants, reminded them that on their labors the economic prosperity of the state depends.

· The Emperor, to teach a lesson to the Jats threatening the Mughal Empire and also wrote to him not to give jagirs to mansabdars, who were not loyal to the state.

· Masses, to be conscious of their duties and not to indulge in the accumulation of wealth.



He wrote to Ahmad Shah Abdali to give up the life of ease, draw the sword and not to sheath it till the distinction is established between true faith and infidelity. His efforts resulted in Maratha debacle at the hands of Ahmad Shah Abdali and Najibud Daula in the third battle of Panipat in 1761 A.D.

Shah Wali Ullah’s teachings created a new awareness of the present dangers and what the future had in store for the Muslims of the subcontinent. This was a psychological preparation for the revolution of 1857-58 A.D., after which turned Muslims mind to new remedies.

One of the distinctions enjoyed by Shah Wali Ullah was that he had been blessed by God with sons and successors who kept burning the torch lit by him. His sons and successors propagated his mission that innumerable treatises written on the correct teachings of Quran and Sunnah. These writings created an enthusiasm among the people for the study of religious branches. His three gifted sons named Shah Abdul Aziz, Shah Abdul Qadir, Shah Rafi’uddin, carried ahead the reformatory endeavors of Shah Wali Ullah.

Shah Abdul Aziz translated Quran into Urdu, after 50 years of the Persian translation by Shah Wali Ullah, when the Urdu language had started to replace the Persian. He completed the exegesis of his father from Surat al-Maida to the thirteenth verse of al-Hujurat.

According to Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi, the renovatory endeavors of Shah Abdul Aziz can be divided into five categories:

1. Popularization of the message of the Quran through its exegesis in order to reform the popular creed of the masses by creating a direct link between them and the scriptures.

2. Promoting the study of hadith by making arrangements for its teaching and preparing teachers for its further diffusion.

3. Controverting the heterodoxical Shi’ite creed by exposing the conspiracies designed by them.

4. Revival of Jihad in order to prepare Muslims to safeguard their freedom.

5. Grooming a group of such persons who could carry on his reformatory works in the future.
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Muslim Educational System in Medieval India


Before the advent of the Muslims in India, they had already developed a system of education suited to their genius. By the eleventh century AD. , The institutions of higher learning in the Muslim countries, called Madrasahs, had developed into centers of learning with a distinct religious bias. In India, these Madrasahs were founded by Sultans, nobles, and their influential ladies. The main objective of this education was to train such ulama or scholar who would become eligible for the civil service as well as performing duties as judge or qadhi.
Iltutmish was the first to establish a madrasah at Delhi, naming it “Madrasah-e-Muizzi”, after the name of Muizzuddin Muhammad Ghori. Balban, the Chief Minister of Sultan Nasiruddin Mahmud, founded “Madrasah Nasiriyya” after the name of his master. Minhajus Siraj, the author of “Tabaqat Nasiri”, was appointed its principal. Gradually many madrasahs came into being. In Muhammad Tughlag’s period there were 1000 madrasahs only in Delhi. Sultan Firoz Shah founded “Madrasah Firoz Shahi” on the southern side of the Hauz Khaz in Delhi. There were many Madrasahs in small and big, rural and urban areas. However, the important scholars were only in the madrasah of important centers.

The grants, which were given to ulama in the form of Madad-e-Ma’ash (financial support) lead to the foundation of many madrasahs. The education was given in Sufi centers also. This trend of education continued during the Khilji Dynasty. Though Alauddin himself was uneducated and it was proved as a threat to the future of his dynasty. However, Delhi continued to project as an important center of knowledge, scholars and writers. Due to the influence of Hz. Nizamuddin, there was demand for religious and mystic teachers as well.
The minister of Alauddin Khilji, Shamsul Malik patronized the knowledge. During this period there was a tremendous progress in fiqh, theology, lexicography and exegetic writing during this period. The study of Greco-Arab medicine was also given special attention. The most important physician of this period was Badruddin Dimashqi and Juwaini.
From the time of Iltutmish to the reign of Sikandar Lodhi the curriculum of the madrasahs followed a set pattern. According to Barani, the main subjects taught at the Madrasah Firoz Shahi were tafsir, hadith and fiqh. In ma’qulat, Sharhi Shamsiah and Sharhi Shafia were included. Besides these subjects, grammar, literature, logic, mysticism and scholasticism were also taught.

Sultan Sikandar Lodhi brought some changes in the system of education. Apart from religious educations, rational educations were also included. Under him the progress of philosophy took place. The students used to copy themselves since the books were rare. Learned men from Arabia, Persia and Central Asia were invited to take charge of education in India. The tendency that started in the time of Sikandar Lodhi found its culmination in the reign of Akbar. He introduced reforms in the curriculum of primary schools and included the logic, arithmetic, moral, mensuration, geometry, astronomy, agriculture, physiognomy, and public administration, in the course of study. In studying Sanskrit, students ought to learn the Bayakaran, Niyai, Vedanta and Patanjal.

The system of education was then under the control of ulama who were in favor of Akbar’s curriculum. However, Hakim Fathullah Sirazi and his followers claimed a significant role in this system. Fathullah Sirazi was a philosopher, mathematician and scientist. His system was in later period developed by Mullah Nizamuddin. The curriculum of Mullah was known as “Dars Nizami”. The salient feature of the curriculum is to relate religious education with the Greek philosophy. For the practitioners of medicine, syllabus was different. They began their education with Arabic literature, grammar and philosophy, and then they start study “Canon fi al-Tibb” and “Kitab al-Shifa” of Ibn Sina. For the accountants and secretaries a separate curriculum was prepared at the end of Akbar’s reign.
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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Architecture in Medieval India

A. Delhi Sultanate

Architecture is the art and design of building as an expression of particular culture. And the main goal of Islamic art is to express the beauty as an aspect of God through structures, patterns, designs, decoration and various techniques. The spirit of Islamic architecture is determined and conditioned by the concept of God in Islam, which is monotheistic, as Dr. Tara Chand said, “It must be a symbol of transcendent majesty of vast spaciousness, sublimity and purity”.

These feelings are realized in the mosque, whose pointed arch, aspiring dome, tall minaret, lofty portals, pillared naves and aisles, clear-cut outlines, adorned with surface decoration of conventional arabesque, interlaced geometrical patterns, and beautiful calligraphic inscriptions, symmetrical exterior and spacious interior, fulfill all the aspirations and longings of a devout Muslim’s soul.

In India, the clash of the two divergent mentalities –Hindu and Muslim- and their culture resulted in the creation of a new culture. Hindu and Muslim elements coalesced to form a new type of architecture. The building erected by Musalmans were not purely Muslim-Syro-Egyptian, Persian or Central Asian, nor were the Hindu buildings purely Hindu. Rejecting the general tendency to relate Indian Muslim architecture with the architecture of the Muslim world on the one hand and with Buddhist and Hindu architecture on the other hand to prove that it is a synthesis, Muhammad Mujeeb stated, “Architecture is the field in which the Indian Muslim mind has operated with complete freedom, and revealed itself most fully”. In fact, this architecture is above all things positively Indian Muslim, with its own ‘personality’, its own expression.

In Indian Muslim architecture our interest centers around the mosques and the mausoleum. Though palaces, towers, gateways, and civic structure also have great aesthetic and architectural value, but only the mosques and mausoleums were preserved. This is due to, as in Rizvi’s words, “Mainly out of religious sentiment”.

In Delhi, the Quwwatul Islam mosque was the first of it’s kind to be built, begun immediately after Delhi’s conquest in 1192 on the order of Qutbuddin Aybak. It was built out of the materials of temples. This involved erecting the edifice on pillars with the help of supporting brackets and spanning the roof with horizontal beams. The plinth of one of the original Hindu temples was converted into courtyard, and a new plinth was constructed. This was enclosed by pillared cloisters, three bays deep on the east and two bays on the north and south. The original short temple pillars were placed one above the other to achieve the desired height. All the arches in the screen were corbelled out like the ogees in the Buddhist rock-cut caves. The calligraphy of Quranic verses dominates the sinuous tendrils. Curling leaves and geometric traceries of the arabesque were also present.

In the south-east corner of the mosque, Aybak built the world famous minaret of red sandstone known as Qutb Minar. It was designed on the pattern of Iranian minarets, with round and triangular spurs connected by balconies. The bottom storey, consisting of alternately rounded and angular flutes. Some three meters from the plinth, the looped bell and garland and the lotus borders of the ancient Hindu tradition have been carved. The first storey leads up to a bracketed gallery, supported by a stalactite of the honeycomb work commonly used in Islamic pendentives. The second, third and fourth storeys were built by Iltutmish. The fourth storey was struck by lightning in 1370, then it was replaced with two more storeys by Sultan Firuz Tughlug. The first three are constructed of grey quartzite faced with red sandstone, while the fourth and fifth are built of red sandstone faced largely with marble. This last stage raised the mosque’s height to 72.59 meters.

Qutbuddin also built a mosque in Ajmer called Arha’i Din ka Jhopra. And his successor Iltutmish added a maqsurah to that mosque. Iltutmish also built a mosque at Badayun along with an Idgah and a tank, and a lofty gateway at Nagori. But his mausoleum is most important, for its inner surface is completely covered with inscriptions, in the Hindu tradition of avoiding empty spaces. He built the tomb of his son, Nasiruddin which has a touch of the fortress in its external while inside it is all gracefulness and peace.

By the time of Alauddin Khilji, Indian Muslim architecture had come under the influence of Saljuk techniques and styles. Of this, the Ala’I Darwazah of the Qutub mosque is the most beautiful. The gateway is a cubical structure of 15.25 meters each side, covered by a flate dome. The three large pointed horseshoe arches supporting the dome are of dressed stone. The adaptation of different styles in the Ala”I Darwaza has in no way undermined the proportion and harmony of the structure.

During the reign of the Tughlugs, ornamentation was replaced by lineaments and masses. The angled walls of Ghiyasuddin Tughlugs tomb inspired by the Perso-Arabian traditions of Multan tombs. There are monuments of the Tughlug period, which presented variations, departures and experiments. Mosques like the Khirki and Kalan Masjid are distinguished by their lofty plinths and fortress-like appearance, the Madrasa of Firuz Tughlug is the combination of Hindu columns, arch and lintel arcades and kiosks is most striking, the palace-fort of Firuz, known as the Kotla Firuz Shah, set the pattern for the palaces of later days, the tomb of Khan-I-Jahan Tilingani has interesting structural features, its outer enclosure contains the usual Tughlug strong walls and towers but it iss on an octagonal plan instead of usual square. The precursor of Khan-I-Jahan’s tomb was Shaikh Ruknuddin’s tomb in Multan.

B. Mughal Architecture


The buildings of the Mughal period reflected not only techniques of architecture and the wealth of the state but ideas of personality, the love of poetry, gardens, flowers and flowing waters. The great Mughal builders, Akbar and Shah Jahan, translated into stone the refinement, elegance and strength of their empire.

The first Mughal monument of significance is the tomb of the emperor Humayun, built by his widow, Haji Begum. The tomb is the central feature of a large enclosed formal garden, with channels for running water. The large, the bulbous dome, the arrangement of rooms and corridors were definitely Persian. But the use of marble for ornamentation was absolutely Indian Muslim.

Akbar’s buildings are almost entirely in red sandstone, relieved occasionally through marble inlay, such as the interior of the Jami’ Masjid Fatehpur Sikri and the gateway to his mausoleum at Sinkandra. Akbar’s architectural activity began with the palace fort at Agra. The Jahangiri Mahal represents the adaptation of a Hindu style of architecture to the Muslim style of living. The Delhi gate, gives an impression of refined strength and solidity from outside, and of openness and cultured dignity from within. Fatehpur Sikri was another work of Akbar, consists the Diwan-I-Am, the Diwan-I-Khas, the apartments of queens, pavilions for relaxation, courtyards, quarters for offices and officials and also a mosque, where a hundred thousand men could prayed there at the same time.



Akbar’s mausoleum was built in Jahangir’s time, but Jahangir’s interests were painting and garden architecture. “Verinag” and “Chashma-Shahi” are gardens built by Jahangir beautifully around spring. Apart from Akbar’s tomb, the only monument of significance from this period is I’timaduddaulah’s mausoleum on the left bank of the Jumna. Jahangir’s own tomb, like I’timaduddulah’s and Akbar’s tombs, have no dome, only minarates and ornamentation are apparent.

With the reign of Shah Jahan began a phase of architectural activity distinguished by an intelligent and discerning regard for tradition and an innovation. The use of marble, which could be obtained adequately in Rajasthan was common. Shah Jahan did not think the red sandstone structures good enough for the imperial palace when marble and money were available. He replaced structures and added new ones in the palace fort of Agra. The Diwan-I-Am was rebuilt with inlay of black marble. His most praiseworthy contribution to the buildings of the Agra fort was the Moti Masjid, which presents the ideal of balance, gracefulness and purity.

The Taj Mahal, built by Shah Jahan to a degree that the whole world would gaze at it in awe and wonder, was the tomb of his beloved queen, Mumtaz Mahal. It stands on the bank of the Jumna in an enclosure the size of which harmonies fully, we could say musically, with the proportions of mausoleum. As we pass the monumental gateway, we face a square garden with a long pool in its center in which the Taj is constantly reflected. The mausoleum is in a high terrace balanced by a mosque in the west and a “Mihman Khana” in the east.



Shah Jahan constructed a new city, mosque and palace fort at Delhi to be called after him Shahjahanabad. The Red Fort at Delhi is an oblong, 3100 feet length and 1650 feet broad, enclosed by lofty wall of red sandstone. Its public entrance called Lahori Gate. The Jami’ Masjid of Delhi represents the consummation of mosque architecture. It is the largest mosque in India, and has been built on such a lofty plinth that its domes and minarates dominate the city. Architecturally it is above criticism and in its own way an expression of perfection. Jami’ Masjid at Agra, built by Shah Jahan in honor of his daughter Jahan Ara is only half size of Jami’ Masjid of Delhi.

With the end of Shah Jahan’s rule, the creative impulse of Indian Muslim architecture was exhausted. Wazir Khan’s mosque at Lahore was an experiment in the use of brick and tiles. The Badshahi mosque in the Red Fort at Delhi, built by Aurangzeb has an atmosphere of intimacy but no outstanding architectural merit. Safdarjung’s tomb, built in the middle of the eighteenth century, though following the traditional pattern, lacks the harmony.
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The Origin and Growth of Urdu Language

The origin of the Urdu language is obscure. Various theories have been given to explain it. Muhammad Husain Azad maintains that Brij Bhasha, a dialect of Western Hindi, is the basic language. After the conquest of Delhi by the Muslims, the Persian element was grafted which resulted to the existence of Urdu language.

Mahmud Sherani, on the contrary, holds that the Urdu language originated in the first contact of the Muslims and Hindus after the conquest and incorporation of the Punjab and Sind In the Empire of Mahmud of Ghazni. In his book Punjab men Urdu, he has discussed the structure and morphology of the Urdu language and has shown grammatical affinity which it has with the Punjabi language. After the occupation of Delhi by the Ghoris, the Punjabi Muslims and Hindus, who had already become familiar with the Persian language migrated to Delhi in order to run the administration of the new government. This exodus of people on a large scale from Lahore to Delhi influenced the Khari Bholi or the Hindi spoken in Delhi and its neighbourhood. In course of time the Punjabi words and idioms became interwoven in the Hindi of Delhi and thus a new language came into being.

The third theory has been recently propounded by Dr. Masud Husain of the Aligarh Muslim University. He said that the basic language spoken in Delhi at the time of Muslim conquest was Hariani. When Persian was grafted on Hariani, it resulted in the creation of the Urdu language. He has discussed the grammatical structures of Hariani and Urdu and has based his conclusion on a comparative study of the two languages.

It seems fairly clear that after the Ghori conquest of Delhi, Persian and Punjabi words got interwoven with the language which was spoken there, which was a mixture of Khari Bholi, Brij, Rajasthani, and Hariani. Languages do not originate overnight. It must have taken at least a century to give shape to the new common language of Delhi which has been called “Hindawi” or “Dahlavi” by Amir Khusrau. Later Abul Fazl also called it the Dahlavi language. Amir Khusrau used “Dahlavi” or “Hindavi” medium in his compositions which he has mentioned in the introduction of his “Ghurratu Kamal”.

From the very beginning when Delhi became a great center of the Sufis, they employed the Hindavi language for preaching their message. They found Hindavi to be the most suitable medium for conveying their messages to the masses. Baba Farid feely used Hindavi words in his conversation with his disciples. Some Hindavi utterances have been preserved by Mir Khurd in the Siyarul Auliya. In Fawaidul Fuad, Shaikh Nizamuddin also used Hindavi language in his conversation with his disciple.

In the development of early Urdu or Hindavi, the Bhagat poets have also played an important role. The language used by Namdeo, Kabir, Pipa and Ravidas is hardly different from the one used by the Sufis. As both the Bhagats and the sufis aimed atreaching the people, they employed the all-India medium available, the Hindavi, which have been familiar all over the country.

After the advent of the Mughals on the stage of Indian history, the Hindavi language acquired greater flexibility and range. Persian words and phrases came into vogue freely. The Hindavi of this period was known as the Rekhta, or the Hindustani and later as urdu. Perfect amity and tolerance between Hindus and Muslims tended to foster the Rekhta or Urdu, which represented the principle of unity in diversity, so marked a feature of Indian life at its best.

During Akbar’s reign, translations were made from Sanskrit into Persian and Hindus and Muslims came very close to each other. Akbar’s intimate relation with the Rajputs indirectly helped the development of Urdu. Raja Todar Mal ordered all government officials to acquire profiency in Persian as a condition for promotion. This indirectly led to the propagation of Urdu all over the country and finally to its standardization in the time of Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb, when the synthetic character of Urdu (Rekhta) acquired a complete form and greater content and power.

The famous poets of this period who wrote in Urdu were Chandar Bhan Brahman, Mu’izzuddin, Ja’far, Mirza Kashmir and Mirza Bedil. Shamsuddin Wali is regarded as the founder of modern Urdu poetry. He freely used the Persian izafat and tarkib. Wali was followed by Abru, Arzu, Hatim and others at Delhi who standardized Urdu prosody.

The Urdu language was enriched from generation to generation, mainly through accumulated wisdom, techniques and cultural traditions. Through its medium the different sections of Indian society found the way to perfect comprehension of one another.
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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Bhakti Movement

The word “Bhakti” is derived from Sanskrit language, Bhaj, means devotion, intense personal attachment to God; in Hindu philosophy and thought, Bhakti is one of the ways to reach God; also the name of an important religious and social movement in medieval India that propagated Bhakti. Some time in medieval India, a religious movement broke out that emphasized on the devotion to God, as sole means of salvation, collectively known as the Bhakti Movement.

At the time of the arrival of the Musalmans in India, Hindu society, comprising the followers of Saivism, Vaishnavism and the cult of Sakti was divided between those who worshipped images, performed prescribed rites and offered sacrifices, and intellectuals, who had no faith in path of action (Karma-marga). To them, attainment of salvation was possible only through the path of knowledge (Jnana-marga). It was in these circumstances that the movement of Bhakti, devotion blended with love of God, found a favorable atmosphere.

According to Barth and Senart, Bhakti is not at all specifically Semitic. It is a sentiment everywhere diffused. It came naturally in India when devotion turned to a single personal God. The traditions by which it is inspired belong to Aryan as much as to Semitic thought. After all, during the time of the arrival of Islam in India, as Yusuf Husain stated, “The religious point of view of the Hindus, though always based on old foundations, became considerably modified”. Although stress on Bhakti can be found in much earlier texts, such as the Shvetashvatara Upanishad and the Bhagavat Gita, it seems that the Bhakti propounded in these texts is radically different from the later developments. In both these texts, Bhakti is presented as a form of yoga, in which one contemplates God as part of a controlled and disciplined practice.

Yusuf Husain divided the movement of Bhakti into two periods. The first was from the time of the Bhagavat Gita to the thirteenth century, the time when Islam penetrated into the interior of India. The second period extends from the thirteenth century to the sixteenth century, an epoch of profound intellectual fermentation, the result of the contact between Islam and Hinduism.

Bhakti movement left very profound impact on the life and culture of Indians in the subsequent centuries. Numerous religions like Sikhism, and cults like Vaishnvism born then are alive today. The following are some of the important saints and teachers of the Bhakti movement.

Ramanuja. He gave a philosophic basis to the teachings of Vaisnavism. He wrote commentaries on Brahmasutras, Bhagavat Gita, and the Upanishad, expounded Visishtadvaita or qualified monism and established the Unity of God, possessing attributes. Being an orthodox Hindu, he performs all the rites enjoined and never preached any heterodox doctrine, implying disavowal of the authority of the Vedas and of Brahmanic traditions. The important thing to him is meditation on God.

His followers very scrupulously observed the rites of the past and the rule of the caste. His teachings confined to the higher section of Hindu society. The Sudras had no access to their order. Only the Brahmin could be initiated.

Basava. He is the saint of Karnataka, preached equality to all and taught the way to reach God through one’s vocation. His followers constitute the Lingayat or the Veerashaiva cult. His poems were known as the Vachanas, which preached devotion to lord Shiva as the means of salvation.

Madhva(1238-1319). He broke completely with the Upanishadic doctrine of unity of God and the human soul. He taught “Dvaita” dualism.

Ramananda(1400-1470 AD). He was a disciple of Ramanuja. He worshipped lord Rama and taught perfect love for God and human brotherhood. He founded his school and renounced the rigidity of Hindu rituals. His disciples adopted the name of Avadhutas, the detached, for they regarded themselves as free from all sorts of religious and social customs.

But Ramananda did not go far enough. Though he taught human brotherhood whatever their religion and caste might be, but he was not prepared to make a complete departure from the past traditions, for he did not recognize the right of a Sudra to read the Vedas. He did not go for social equality. He enjoined strict segregation and perfect privacy in the matter of food. Among his dozen disciples there were a Muslim weaver, Kabir, a currier and a barber.

Kabir (1440-1518 AD). A disciple of Ramananda, believed in formless God. He was the first to reconcile Hinduism and Islam. He preached a religious system strictly monotheistic, taught the absolute abolition of the caste, and cast doubt upon the authority of the Vedas and other sacred books. The followers of this school were heretics. Not believing in religious authority. It sought to understand Islam and even to establish a syncretic system appropriate to the life of the people of India.

Although brought up in a Muslim family, Kabir found the means to initiate himself into the sacred texts of the Hindus. He appears to have been influenced by Gosain Ashtananda, a Hindu saint of Benaras. Later he became the disciple of Ramananda. He continued the practice of Bhakti towards Rama, whom he did not consider to be different from Allah of the Muslims. He adored Him as the Supreme Being, the savior of the world and the personification of all goodness. He had no desire to attach himself to any organized religion, nor did he try to make any new religion or philosophical system. All he did was to popularize the ideas of Bhakti, as summarized in the “Bijak”, the book, which holds authority on all that concerns Kabir.

Guru Nanak Dev (1469-1538 AD). He was the founder of Sikhism. He worshiped one God, preached against idol worship and caste system and denied the Hindu rites. The teaching of Guru Nanak was inspired by Kabirpanthis and Muslim saints. The “Janam Sakhi”, Nanak’s book, contains the account of many interviews he had had with the Sufis of his time; among them were Shah Bu Ali Qalandar of Panipat, Sheikh Ibrahim and Mian Mitha.

Nanak believed in God as the omnipotent reality, but maintained that the human could attain union with God through love and devotion and not by knowledge of ceremonial observance. He taught the oneness of God and brotherhood of man, and considered ritual as useless.

The sacred book of the Sikhs, the followers of Guru Nanak is the “Adi Granth”, in which “Janam Sakhi” forms the part of it. Adi Granth was compiled at the time of Guru Arjun, fifty years after the death of Guru Nanak. Afterwards, Guru Tegh Bahadur incorporated the writings of the Gurus before himself to Adi Granth and formed the “Guru Granth Sahib”. The later Sikhs behave with the Guru Granth as a lived Guru.

Dadu Dayal (1544-1603 AD). He was a disciple of Kabir, who supports Hindu-Muslim unity. His followers were known as Dadu Panthis.

Chaitanya was a devotee of lord Krishna, the founder of Vaishnavism in Bengal and popularized Kirtan.

Mirabai was a devotee of lord Krishna, composed a number of songs and poems in honor of Krishna.

Tulsidas depicted Rama as the incarnation. He wrote “Ramcharitmanas”.

Tukaram was a devotee of Vithal, founded the Varhan sect. His teachings are contained in Abhangas. He was a contemporary of Maratha king Shivaji.

Ram Das is the author of “Dasabodh”. His teachings inspired Shivaji to establish an independent kingdom in Maharashtra.
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Monday, October 31, 2005

Muslim Intellectual Perception of Hinduism

The establishment of Turkic rule in India opened up many opportunities for contact between Hinduism and Islam. A number of Muslim scholars had made some significant attempts to understand Hinduism. Al-Biruni, Amir Khusrau, Nakhshabi, Mir Gesudaraz, Abul Fazl and Dara Shukoh were among the Muslim intellectuals, who had given considerable contribution to Muslim understanding of Hinduism. Not only Muslim scholars, some Muslim rulers too took part in this attempt by encouraging the Muslim scholars of their time to translate Hindu books.

Al-Biruni (d. after 1050) translated Sanskrit classics into Arabic. He then wrote his “Kitab fi Tahqiq ma li al-Hind” in order to acquaint his Ghaznawid rulers with Hinduism. He admitted that there were many barriers separating Hindus from Muslims but claimed that they were based either on political reasons or on language barriers. He found the contemporary Hindus were full of religious prejudices, insularity, exclusiveness, national pride, and conceit. Al-Biruni admits that previous generations of Hindus were more liberal but stresses that prejudices against foreigners were universal. He also acknowledges the fact that, although the Hindus he met refused to enter into religious arguments, many Muslims forbade any discussion at all on religious matters.

Al-Biruni’s main thesis in the “Kitab fi Tahqiq ma li al-Hind” is that the beliefs of educated and uneducated people are different. The educated tries to conceive abstract ideas and to define general principles while the uneducated submit to derived rules and regulations. In the concept of God al-Biruni says that Hindu believe that the God is eternal, without beginning and end, acting by free will, almighty, all wise, living, giving life, ruling, preserving, unique, beyond all likeness and unlikeness. To substantiate this assertion, he quotes from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, the Bhagavad Gita and the Sankhya-Karika.

Being a mathematician and scientist, al-Biruni was hostile to mystical ideas. He refused sufi irrationalism and compared Muslim alchemy and Hindu rasayana (chemistry) with witchcraft. In his “Kitab fi Tahqiq” he explains Hindu caste, class and family organization, their cultural attitudes, folk customs, mores and prejudices in a historical context. He defines the Hindu color divisions as tabaqat (classes) and the caste (jati) as birth divisions (nasab). The Brahmans were created from the head of Brahma, the Kshatriya from his shoulder and hands, the Vaishiya from his thigh, while the Sudra from his feet. Below the Sudra were the Antyaja or casteless. Hadi, Doma and Chandala were outcast.

Amir Khusrau was deeply impressed by India, but his studies of Hinduism were not based on Sanskrit sources. He was impressed by by the depth of learning among Indians and their ability to speak any language. He greatly admired Brahmans, who could teach all subjects without having studied to overseas and who had devised the numerical system, invented zero, invented chess and written “Kalila wa Dimna”, on the art of government. He found Indian music has peculiar charm not only for human but to animals also. He admitted that the Hindus believed in the unity and eternity of God and were superior to materialists, star worshippers, and Christian. Although the Hindus worshipped stones, animals, plants and the sun, they believed that these things were god’s creations and they only imitated their ancestors. In his masnavis called “Nuh Siphr” (Nine Skies), he admired the devotion and enthusiasm of the Hindus for their religion and urged the Muslims to be as devoted to their faith as they were.

Nakhshabi, who has better better understanding of Sanskrit had translated two Sanskrit works, one of them Chintamani Batha’s “Suka-saptati”. Mir Gesudaraz also studied Sanskrit to defeat the Brahman’s arguments and convert them to Islam. On the basis of the translation of works on physics and astronomy, Izzuddin Khalid Khani compiled the “Dala’il Firoz Shahi”. Varahamihira, a celebrated Indian astronomer, translated “Brhatsamhita” from Sanskrit to Persian.

Abul Fazl gave a detailed description of Hinduism in the third volume oh his “’Ain –e-Akbari”. He urged his Muslim readers to study his account of Hindu learning with open minds. He was convinced that the Hindus followed their faith uncritically and were prey to superstition.

Dara Shukoh translated the Upanishads in order to discover any wahdatul wujud doctrines hidden in them. He accused the Hindu pandits oh hiding the upanishadic truth from both Muslims and Hindus in order to keep their teachings on the wahdatul wujud secret. Dara Shukoh believed that his translation would help mystics of both faiths, although he stressed the primacy of the Quran, the translation proved to be of universal interest.

Several Muslim rulers also ordered the translation of various Sanskrit works into Persian in order to satisfy their own intellectual curiosity and to increase Muslim understanding of Hinduism. Firoz Shah Tughlug commissioned Sanskrit scholars to translate some 1,300 books from “Jwalamukhi” temple into Persian. Sultan Zaynul ‘Abidin of Kashmir and Sultan Sikandar Lodi also ordered the translation of Sanskrit books into Persian. In order to heal the religious differences amongst his subject, King Akbar opened translation bureau (the maktab khana), which considerably change the Muslim perception of Hinduism. The most remarkable productions were the translations of the “Mahabharata”, “Ramayana” and “Yoga Vashishta”.

Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi, a sufi of Naqshabandi order, considered that prophets had come to India, although the Indians generally ignored their teachings. He did not believe that Rama and Krishna were prophets nor they were divine names. Mirza Mazhar Jan-I-Janan, in contrary, accepted both Rama and Krishna as prophets.
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Saturday, October 22, 2005

Sufi Movement in Medieval India

The philosopher’s objective was to rationalize the nature of Necessary Being, while the ‘Kalam’ scholars were principally concerned to defend divine transcendence. On the other hand, Sufism strove to achieve the inner realization of divine unity by arousing intuitive and spiritual faculties. The Sufis reject rational argument and plunge into contemplation and meditation. Some of them were overpowered by ecstasy and frenzy, but sobriety was generally considered essential to Sufism.

Shah Wali Ullah divides Sufism into four epochs, though the four historical epochs were not mutually exclusive. There was considerable overlap. The first epoch began with the prophet and his companions and extended until the time of Junaid of Baghdad. According to Yusuf Husain, the Sufis of the first two centuries of Hijrah were ascetics, who laid great stress on the principles of Tauba and Tawakkul. Their contemplation remained confined within the limits of the Quran and the practice of the prophet.

The second epoch started during Junaid’s time. The Sufis of this period lived in a state of continued meditation and contemplation. This resulted in intuitive insights and intense spiritual experiences that could be expressed only symbolically or in unusual phrases. They were so emotionally affected by “sama’” that they swooned or tore their clothes in ecstasy. In this period the Sufis were better organized and were divided into sects. Sufi masters now began to send their disciples to distant lands. Many eminent Sufis also moved to India.

The third epoch started from the advent of Shaikh Abu Said Ibn Abdul Khair and Shaikh Abul Hasan Kharaqani. The Sufis of the period live in a state of ecstasy, which led to “Tawajjuh” (spiritual telepathy). In contemplating the union of temporal and eternal their individuality dissolved, and they even ignored their regular religious practices.

The fourth began with the birth of Shaikh Akbar Muhiyuddin Ibn al-‘Arabi (1165-1240 AD), when the Sufis discovered the theory of the five stages of the descent from “Wajibul Wujud” (Necessary Being), i.e. Ahadiyya (Essence of Primal One), Wahdaniyya (Unity of God), sphere of Arwah (sphere of Infinite Forms), sphere of Misal (Similitude or Angelic Forms), sphere of Ajsam (Bodies of Physical World).

Before reaching India, the movement of Tasawwuf had reached the highest point of its development in the twelfth century. After the conquest of northern India by the Muslims, various Sufi orders were established, in particular, the Chisti and Suhrawardiyya orders. The orders of Qadiri, Naqshabandi, Shuttari, Madari ect, also represented and functioned on more or less the same lines. The Sufi who left an indelible mark both on India and on the history of Sufism was Abul Hasan Ali Ibn Usman al-Hujwiri, known as Data Ganj Bakhsh, who reached Lahore in 1035 AD. He wrote Kashful Mahjub in Persian, contains biographies, thought and practices of Sufis from the prophet Muhammad’s day to his own time.

The order of the Chistis, founded by Khawaja Abdal Chisti (d. 966 AD), was introduced into India by Khawaja Muinuddin Chisti. He was born in Sistan in 1143 AD. He traveled widely in Islamic countries and came to Harun, a town in Nishapur, and became the disciple of Khawaja Usman Haruni, a famous saint of the Chisti order, who directed him to settle in India. Khawaja Muinuddin arrived in India in 1190 AD. , And first proceeded to Lahore, where he spent some times in meditation at the tomb of Ali Hujwiri. The surviving sayings of the Khawaja show that his life’s mission was to inculcate piety, humility, and devotion to God.

The Chisti mystics believed in the spiritual value of music and patronized professional singers, whatever their caste or religion might be. Khawaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, the successor of Muinuddin died in a state of ecstasy while listening to music.

Another Khawaja Muinuddin’s disciple, Shaikh Hamiduddin made Nagaur (Rajasthan) the chief Chistiyya order. He was then succeeded by his grandson Fariduddin Mahmud. One of Shaikh Farid’s disciples, Khawaja Ziyauddin Nakhshabi was a famous scholar who translated Chintamani Bhatta’s Suka-Saptati into Persian from Sanskrit and gave the title Tuti Nama.

Of the Khawaja Muinuddin’s disciples, Shaikh Fariduddin Ganjshakar or Baba Farid was very celebrated. He settled in Ajodhan and built his Jamaat Khana. Baba’s successor was Shaikh Nizamuddin Auliya (1238-1325 AD), who came from Badaun but had settled in Delhi. Under Khawaja Nizamuddin, Chistiyya order became the dominant Sufi silsila in India. The collection of his conversation known as “Fawaid al-Fuad” compiled by his disciple, Amir Hasan. From him began the Chistiyya Nizamiyya, while Alauddin Sabir of Kalyar, another disciple of Baba Farid, led Chistiyya Sabiriyya.

Nizamuddin, known also as Mehboob Ilahi, stressed on the motive of love, which leads to the realization of God. He extended his love of God to the love of humanity without which the former would be incomplete. After Nizamuddin, some Chisti saints became the successors one after the other. They are Nasiruddin Chiragh Dahlavi, his malfuzat known as “Khairul Majalis”, Sayyid Muhammad Gesudaraz, who wrote “Khatairu al-Quds”, “Asma al-Asrar”, “Sharh Risala-e-Qushairi”, ect. Gesudaraz earlier works are based on Wahdatu al-Wujud, but was later converted to Wahdat al-Shuhud doctrines.

Beside Chistiyya, Suhrawardiyya sisila also have played significant role in the spread of sufi doctrines in India. The founder, Shaikh Shahabuddin Suhrawardi, the author of “Awarif al-Ma’arif”, directed his disciple Shaikh Bahauddin Zakariya of Multan (1182-1262 AD) to make Multan the center of his activity. Iltutmish appointed him as Shaikhul Islam after the invasion of Multan and topple its ruler, Qabacha. During the Mongol invasion he became the peace negotiotor between invaders and muslim army.

Bahauddin’s successor was his son Shaikh Sadruddin ‘Arif. His disciple, Amir Husayn, the author of “Zad- al-Musafirin”, wrote several works on the doctrine Wahdat al-Wujud. Shaikh Arif’s son and caliph, Shaikh Ruknuddin was highly respected by the Delhi Sultans from ‘Alauddin Khalji to Muhammad Ibn Tughlug.

After the death of Shaikh Ruknuddin the Suhrawardiyya silsila declined in Multan but became popular in other provinces like Uch, Gujarat, Punjab, Kashmir and even Delhi. It was revitalized by Sayyid Jalaluddin Bukhari known as Makhdum Jahaniyan, the world traveler. He was puritan and strongly objected the Hindu influences to Muslim social and religious practices.

Another contemporary mystic who is worthy of mention was Shaikh Sharfuddin Yahya Manairi (d. 1380 AD). He belonged to the Firdausia order, a branch of Suhrawardiyya. He compiled several books, i.e. “Fawaid al-Muridin”, “Irshadat al-Talibin”,”Rahat al-Qulub”, ect.

Qadiri order was founded by Shaikh Abdul Qadir Gilani of Baghdad (d. 1166 AD). The first who introduced it to India was Sayyid Muhammad Gilani Qodiri of Aleppo, who later settled in Uch where he died in 1517 AD. Other famous mystics of Qadiri order were and Shaikh Abdul Ma’ali of Lahore. Shaikh Abdul Haq Muahddis Dahlawi wrote many important books one of them was “Akhbar al-Akhyar”. Dara Shukoh, the son of Shah Jahan was a devotee of Qadiri order. He wrote “Safinat al-Awliya” and “Sakinat al-Awliya” on the mystics biographies.

Naqshabandi order seems to be destined to accept the challenge flung against orthodox Islam in India by the upholders of the doctrine of the “Unity of Being”, and the electicism of Akbar. Naqshabandi order is the offshoot of Khwajagan order. Khwajagan order was founded in Turkistan by Khwaja Ahmad Ata’ Yaswi. The order was popularized by Khwaja Bahauddin Naqshabandi (d. 1388 AD). After him the order was known as Naqshabandi. He emphasized to follow the sunnah. The order was introduced to India by Khwaja Baqi’ Billah (1563-1603 AD) and popularized in India by Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi (d. 1624 AD), known as Mujaddid Alf Thani. After him the order named Naqshabandiyya Mujaddidiyya.

Rejecting the “Wahdat al-Wujud” (Unity of Being) he expounded the doctrine of “Wahdat al-Shuhud” (Apparantism). Shah Wali Ullah, another mystic of Naqshabandi order tried to compromise both the two doctrines. In his treatise “Faislatul Wahdatul Wujud wa al-Shuhud” he stood as an arbiter on the dispute of both doctrines. But in other occasion he observed in his book “Tafhimat Ilahia”, that “Apparantism” is higher than that oh the “Unity of Being”.
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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Arab Conquest of Sind and Multan

Sind and Multan are the two cities of northern India region, which was under the sway of Harsha Vardana of Qannauj, the last great king of Hindu India before the advent of Muslims. When the empire of Harsha fell, the North broke up into small principalities. Rajput clans starting from their original homes establishing the chieftaincies in the Himalayan regions. The Rajputs thus were the masters of India from the Punjab to the Deccan and from the Arabian Sea to Bengal before the Muslims appeared upon the scene.

Not all Rajputs were of the same race. Many of them traced their descent to the ancient Kshatriyas of the Vedic period. But a large number of the Rajput tribes were of non-Aryan. The descendents of the Greeks, the Kushanas, the Huns ECT, who came to India because of their war-like qualities, were absorbed in the Hindu society and given the status of Rajputs.
The Rajput age was one of division and conflict and lack of political unity. Unless literature, art and sciences the condition of society was in eclipse. Doctor Tara Chand wrote, “Society was enfeebled by feudal anarchy and clannish pretensions on the one side and by religious dissensions and priestly selfishness on the other. But although political power suffered an eclipse, literature, art and science still continued to flourish”.
The advent of Muslims in India was marked by the Arab conquest of Sind, though long before that the Arabs already had settlements on the western coast of India. Some historian believed that there were Arabs in Sind before the Arab invasion of Sind, though they were small in number but their presence was significant. According to P. K. Hitti, Muhammad Ibn Qasim, under the order of Hajjaj, advanced in 710 A.D., at the head of a considerable army, of which 6000 were Syrians. He subdued Mukran, pushed on through Baluchistan and in 711-12 reduced Sind, the lower valley and delta of the Indus.
Among the cities captured were the Sea Port Daybul, which had the statue of Buddha, “rising”, said al-Yaqubi, “to a height of forty cubits”, al-Nirun (modern Hyderabad), Siwistan, Brahmanabad and Alor. The conquest was extended (713) as far north as Multan in southern Punjab, but the rest of India was unaffected until the close of the tenth century, when a fresh invasion began under Mahmud of Ghaznah.
The people of the conquered towns welcome Muhammad Ibn Qasim as a liberator and helped him against their petty tyrants. By his conciliatory policy and his attitude of understanding and sympathy, Muhammad Ibn Qasim made himself immensely popular among all classes of people. At the time of his departure, records al-Baladhuri, the Hindus wept and they made an image of him and worshiped it.
The policy of Hajjaj and Muhammad Ibn Qasim was liberal beyond all the expectations of the Sindhis. The Hindus were given the status as enjoyed by the Christian and Jews in the Muslim state, which meant that on payment of Jizyah, their life, honor and property were safe, and they were assured freedom to practice their faith. S. A. A. Rizvi wrote, “An order was received from Hajjaj that, since the people of Sind had accepted the status of protected subjects (zimmi), no interference should be made in their lives and property. They should be permitted to worship freely in their own temples and should also be allowed to build new ones”.
The Jizyah was to be paid only by able-bodied men, who were sufficiently well-to-do, not to find it oppressive. Priests and hermits were exempted, so were women, children, cripples and the poor. If an able-bodied man entered government service, he was exempted from the tax. So long as a man paid Jizyah he could not be forced to join the Muslim army.
The “Chach-nama” details the administrative regulations introduced into Brahmanabad. According to the author, those civilians who had not become Muslims were then divided into three categories for the imposition of Jizyah. The men in the highest income brackets paid 48 dirhams of silver per head, the middle-income groups 24 dirhams and the lowest class 12 dirhams. Tribute was fixed according to their resources.
The treatment to the Brahmins displayed the utmost regard towards them. Titles, favors, costly gifts and robes of honor conferred on them. They were given the post they held under the fallen Brahmin dynasty. They were permitted to collect their customary fees from the merchants, thakuras and common Hindus; the 3% share of government revenue that they had previously received was also reinstated. Some of them were chosen as ministers and advisers. Even certain defense duties were assigned to them.
After the departure of Muhammad Ibn Qasim, the Arabs could not make any material addition to their acquisitions. The strong native powers in Rajputana blocked any extension towards northern India. Muslim power in Sind suffered from two weakness; lack of support from the home government and increasing disunity among the local authorities.
The Muslim rule in the North led to far-reaching effects in the field of culture and learning. Some Sindhi Muslim scholars went and taught at Mecca. The Arab Muslims also came into touch with Indian sciences. They learned from the Hindus some principles of mathematics, astronomy and philosophy. The Arabs introduced some new industries in Sind. They also introduced some new plants. They brought to an end the isolation of the sub-continent.
Muslims lived with the Hindus together. Mutual intercourse led to mutual understanding. Their buildings were erected by the Hindus. Many Hindus had changed their faith and converted to Islam. And many Muslims had changed their faith as well, differed little from those whom they had left. The Hindus and Muslims prepared to find a via media whereby to live as neighbors. The effort to seek a new life led to the development of a new culture, which were neither exclusively Hindu nor purely Muslim. It was indeed a Muslim-Hindu culture.
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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Early Indo-Arab Relations

Although positive evidence of any relation between India and West Asia or Egypt during the period of antiquity is lacking but India’s commercial and cultural link with the Arab world are known to have existed since the third millennium B.C. According to ancient Egyptian inscriptions, Queen Hatshepsut of the New Kingdom sent an expedition probably in 1495 B.C., is more likely to be India than Somali land. But stories like invasion of India by the Assyrian Queen Semiramis (c. 810 B.C.) are hardly creditable.

A group of Indian military men known as Hittites and Mitannis established their rule in northern Mesopotamia in the second Millennium B.C. Their princes bear Aryan names, they worshipped Indian gods, Mitra, Varuna, Indra, and tught the people of the region horse breeding and breaking.

The rise of Achaeminids in Persia (549 B.C.) brought India into extensive contact with the outside world. The construction of the Nile canal, exploration of the Indian Ocean from the Persian Gulf to the delta of the Indus and then to the apex of the Red sea, all contributed to this.
Dionysus was sent by Ptolemy Philadelpus to the Mauryan court, and left an account of India. The Mauryan kings also sent ambassadors to the Egyptian court. It is said also that the rulers of Syria has a good relation with the rulers of India. Antiochus of Syria (206 B.C.) maintained a direct contact with India.

India’s commercial relations with the Arab world was established between the merchants of the Kulli culture in southern Baluchistan and those of early dynastic Sumer, probably soon after 2800 B.C. The Harppa civilization may have established contact with the West about 2000 B.C. By the later historic times in Mesopotamia Indian cotton was known under the name of Sindhu, and it passed into Greek in the form of Sindon.

From very early times up to about the third century A.D., the Greeks and Romans dominated the commercial activities in the Arabian Sea, and the Arab merchants played an important role in this trade. These Arabs were the main agents of trade between India and Egypt. They supplied to Egypt precious stones, spices and the incense, burnt at the altars of the ancient Egyptian Gods.

During the reign of King Solomon, voyages were made to Ophir once every three years and the merchandise brought from there consisted of gold, silver, jewels, wood, ivory, apes and peacocks. There were Indian merchant settlements on the island of Socotra. King Ptolemy II of Egypt is said to have displayed in his procession, Indian women, oxen and marble.

During the period between the decline of the Greco-Roman trade with India in the third century A.D., and the rise of Islam in the seventh century A.D., a number of important political changes took place. The decline of the Himyarite Kingdom on the one hand and the growing interest of the Sasanians in the navigation of the Arabian Sea on the other, affected Arab trade relation with India, and caused the transfer of the traffic between India and Egypt into the hands of Persia.

Thus in the century before the rise of Islam, the Persians were supreme in the Arabian Sea trade. Their boats frequented the harbours of India. Sea-going ships from India sailed as far as al-Madain up to the Tigris, and al-‘Ubulla has been termed as Farj al_hind, the marches of India. Among the most important ports of India at this time were Sindhu, Orrhota, Calliana, Sibor, ect.
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