The view that Islam propagated itself in India through the sword cannot be maintained

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The view that Islam propagated itself in India through the sword cannot be maintained

Post by Rashmun on Mon Jun 19, 2017 9:51 pm

The most obvious result of the religious impact of Islam on Hinduism is, of course, the existence of a large Muslim population in India. The view that Islam propagated itself in India through the sword cannot be maintained; aside from other evidence, the very distribution of the Muslim population does not support it. If the spread of Islam had been due to the might of the Muslim kings, one would expect the largest proportion of Muslims in those areas which were the centers of Muslim political power. This, however, is not the case. The percentage of Muslims is low around Delhi, Lucknow, Ahmadabad, Ahmadnagar, and Bijapur, the principal seats of Muslim political power.

Even in the case of Mysore, where Sultan Tipu is said to have forced conversion to Islam, the ineffectiveness of royal [[124]] proselytism may be measured by the fact that Muslims are scarcely 5 percent of the total population of the state. On the other hand, Islam was never a political power in Malabar, yet today Muslims form nearly 30 percent of its total population. In the two areas in which the concentration of Muslims is heaviest—modern East and West Pakistan—there is fairly clear evidence that conversion was the work of Sufis, mystics who migrated to India throughout the period of the sultanate.

In the western area the process was facilitated in the thirteenth century by the thousands of Muslim theologians, saints, and missionaries who fled to India to escape the Mongol terror. The names and careers of some of these are well known. Thus Pir Shams Tabriz came to Multan; Khwaja Qutb-ud-din Bakhtiyar went to Delhi; and Syed Jalal settled in Uch, the great fortress south of Multan. The influence of such men, and of many others, can be traced through the families of their spiritual descendants.

      In Bengal, the Muslim missionaries found the greatest response to their message among the outcastes and the depressed classes, of which there were large numbers in Bengal. To them, the creed of Islam, with its emphasis on equality, must have come as a liberating force. Then too, the acceptance of the religion of the conquerors would have been a powerful attraction, since it would undoubtedly carry with it possibilities of advancement they had never known before. Another factor in the large number of conversions is the somewhat peculiar religious history of Bengal. From the eighth to the twelfth century the Pala dynasty had supported Buddhism. Then in the twelfth century the Sena dynasty, which had its roots in South India, began to encourage Hindu orthodoxy.

The result was probably a good deal of religious unrest and uncertainty, which made it possible for Islam to find an opening for its work of proselytization. When the Islamic missionaries arrived they found in several instances that the conquering armies had destroyed both the temples of revived Hinduism and the monasteries of the older Buddhism; in their place—often on the same sites—they built new shrines. Moreover, they very frequently transferred ancient Hindu and Buddhist stories of miracles to Muslim saints, fusing the old religion into the new on a level that could be accepted by the masses.

      [[125]] By the end of the fourteenth century Islam had permeated all parts of India, and the process was fully under way which led to the conversion of a large section of the Indian population to Islam, and resulted in far-reaching cultural and spiritual changes outside the Muslim society.


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