Islamic invasion of India: Wikis


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Islam in India

Jama Masjid Delhi.JPG



Mughal · Indo-Islamic · Indo-Saracenic

Major figures

Moinuddin Chishti  · Shah Waliullah
Ahmad Raza Khan
Sayyed Ahmad Saeed Kazmi
Shah Ahmad Noorani Siddiqi
Syed Faiz-ul Hassan Shah


Northern · Mappilas · Tamil
Konkani · Marathi · Vora Patel
Memons · North-Eastern · Kashmiris
Hyderabadi · Dawoodi Bohras · Khoja
Oriya · Nawayath · Bearys · The Saits
Meo · Sunni Bohras
Kayamkhani · Bengali

Schools of law

Hanafi · Shafi`i · Maliki · Hanbali

Schools of thought

Barelvi · Deobandi · Ahle Hadith

Mosques in India

List of mosques in India


Muslim culture of Hyderabad

Islamic Universities

Jamia Millia Islamia
Aligarh Muslim University
Jamia Nizamia
Aliah University

Other topics

Ahle Sunnat Movement in South Asia
Indian Muslim nationalism
Muslim chronicles for Indian history
Jamaat-e-Islami Hind B.S. Abdur Rahman University Maulana Abul Kalam Azad

The Muslim conquest in the Indian subcontinent mainly took place from the 12th century onwards, though earlier Muslim conquests made limited inroads into the region, beginning during the period of the ascendancy of the Rajput Kingdoms in North India, although Sindh and Multan were captured in 8th century..

Throughout its history the Indian subcontinent has been frequently subject to invasion, from the North-West by Central Asian nomadic tribes and the Persian Empire.[1] With the fall of the Sassanids and the arrival of the Caliphates, these regions were integrated into Muslim dynasties of Central Asian heritage; initially Turkic people and later Mongol and Turco-Mongol people.[1] Unlike earlier conquerors who assimilated into prevalent social systems, Muslim conquerors retained their Islamic identity and created legal and administrative systems that challenged and destroyed existing systems of social conduct, culture, religious practices, lifestyle and ethics.[1]

The first foray by the new Muslim successor states of the Sassanid Empire occurred around 664 CE during the Umayyad Caliphate, led by Al Muhallab ibn Abi Suffrah towards Multan in Southern Punjab, in modern day Pakistan. Muhallab's expeditions were not aimed at conquest, though they penetrated only as far as the capital of the Maili, he returned with wealth and prisoners of war. This was an Arab incursion and part of the early Umayyad push onwards from the Islamic conquest of Persia into Central Asia, and within the limits of the eastern borders of previous Persian empires. The last Arab push in the region would be towards the end of Umayyad reign under Muhammad bin Qasim, after whom the Arabs would be defeated by the Rajputs at the Battle of Rajasthan in 738, and Muslim incursions would only be resumed under later Turkic and Afghan dynasties with more local capitals, who supplanted the Caliphate and expanded their domains both northwards and eastwards.

It took several centuries for Islam to spread across India and how it did so is a topic of intense debate. Some quarters hold that Hindus were forcibly converted to Islam by the establishment of Jizya and Dhimmitude favoring Muslim citizens, and the threat of naked force. Others hold that it occurred through inter-marriage, conversions, economic integration, and through the influence of Sufi preachers.[2]



Conversion controversy

Considerable controversy exists both in scholarly and public opinion about the conversions to Islam typically represented by the following schools of thought:[3]

  1. That the bulk of Muslims are descendants of migrants from the Iranian plateau or Arabs.[4]
  2. A related view is that conversions occurred for non-religious reasons of pragmatism and patronage such as social mobility among the Muslim ruling elite or for relief from taxes for being a non-muslim ( Dhimmi )[3][4]
  3. Conversion was a result of the actions of Sufi saints and involved a genuine change of heart[3]
  4. Conversion came from Buddhists and the en masse conversions of lower castes for social liberation and as a rejection of the oppressive existent caste structures.[4]
  5. Was a combination, initially made under duress followed by a genuine change of heart[3]
  6. As a socio-cultural process of diffusion and integration over an extended period of time into the sphere of the dominant Muslim civilization and global polity at large.[4]

Embedded within this lies the Hindu nationalism concept of Islam as a foreign imposition and Hinduism being a natural condition of the natives who resisted, resulting the failure of the project to Islamicize the Indian subcontinent and is highly embroiled with the politics of the partition and communalism in India.[3]

An estimate of the number of people killed, based on the Muslim chronicles and demographic calculations, was done by the author K.S. Lal in his book Growth of Muslim Population in Medieval India, who claimed that between 1000 CE and 1500 CE, the population of Hindus decreased by 80 million. His work has come under criticism by historians such as Simon Digby (School of Oriental and African Studies) and Irfan Habib for its agenda and lack of accurate data in pre-census times. Historians such as Will Durant contend that Islam spread through violence.[5][6] Sir Jadunath Sarkar contends that that several Muslim invaders were waging a systematic jihad against Hindus in India to the effect that "Every device short of massacre in cold blood was resorted to in order to convert heathen subjects."[7] In particular the records kept by al-Utbi, Mahmud al-Ghazni's secretary, in the Tarikh-i-Yamini document several episodes of bloody military campaigns.[citation needed] Hindus who converted to Islam however were not completely immune to discrimination due to the Caste system among South Asian Muslims in India established by Ziauddin al-Barani in the Fatawa-i Jahandari.[8], where they were regarded as an "Ajlaf" caste and subjected to discrimination by the "Ashraf" castes[9].

Critics of the "Religion of the sword theory" point to the presence of the strong Muslim communities found in Southern India, modern day Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and western Burma, Indonesia and the Philippines coupled with the distinctive lack of equivalent Muslim communities around the heartland of historical Muslim empires in the Indian subcontinent as refutation to the "conversion by the sword theory".[4] The legacy of Muslim conquest of South Asia is a hotly debated issue even today. Different population estimates by economic historian Angus Maddison[10] show that India's total population, including adherents of all religions, did not decrease between 1000 and 1500, but increased by about 35 million, from 75 million to 110 million, during that time.

Not all Muslim invaders were simply raiders. Later rulers fought on to win kingdoms and stayed to create new ruling dynasties. The practices of these new rulers and their subsequent heirs (some of whom were borne of Hindu wives) varied considerably. While some were uniformly hated, others developed a popular following. According to the memoirs of Ibn Batuta who travelled through Delhi in the 14th century, one of the previous sultans had been especially brutal and was deeply hated by Delhi's population. His memoirs also indicate that Muslims from the Arab world, from Persia and Turkey were often favored with important posts at the royal courts suggesting that locals may have played a somewhat subordinate role in the Delhi administration. The term "Turk" was commonly used to refer to their higher social status. S.A.A. Rizvi (The Wonder That Was India - II), however points to Muhammad bin Tughlaq as not only encouraging locals but promoting artisan groups such as cooks, barbers and gardeners to high administrative posts. In his reign, it is likely that conversions to Islam took place as a means of seeking greater social mobility and improved social standing.[11]

Impact of Islam and Muslims in India

Expansion of trade

Islam's impact was the most notable in the expansion of trade. The first contact of Muslims with India, was the Arab attack on a nest of pirates near modern-day Bombay, to safeguard their trade in the Arabian Sea. Around the same time many Arabs settled at Indian ports, giving rise to small Muslim communities. the growth of these communities was not only due to conversion, but also the fact that many Hindu kings of south India (such as those from Cholas) hired Muslims as mercenaries.[12]

A significant aspect of the Muslim period in world history was the emergence of Islamic Sharia courts capable of imposing a common commercial and legal system that extended from Morocco in the West to Mongolia in the North East and Indonesia in the South East. While southern India was already in trade with Arabs/Muslims, northern India found new opportunities. As the Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms of Asia were subjugated by Islam, and as Islam spread through Africa - it became a highly centralizing force that facilitated in the creation of a common legal system that allowed letters of credit issued in say Egypt or Tunisia to be honoured in India or Indonesia (The Sharia has laws on the transaction of Business with both Muslims and Kaffirs[citation needed]). In order to cement their rule, Muslim rulers initially promoted a system in which there was a revolving door between the clergy, the administrative nobility and the mercantile classes. The travels of explorer Muhammad Ibn-Abdullah Ibn-Batuta were eased because of this system. He served as an Imam in Delhi, as a judicial official in the Maldives, and as an envoy and trader in the Malabar. There was never a contradiction in any of his positions because each of these roles complemented the other. Islam created a compact under which political power, law and religion became fused in a manner so as to safeguard the interests of the mercantile class. This led world trade to expand to the maximum extent possible in the medieval world. Sher Shah Suri took initiatives in improvement of trade by abolishing all taxes which hindered progress of free trade. He built large networks of roads and constructed Grand Trunk Road (1540–1544), which connected Calcutta to Kabul, of which parts of it are still in use today.

Spread of technology

With the growth of international trade also came the spread of manufacturing technology and an urban culture. Local inventions and regional technologies became easily globalized[citation needed]. This was of profound importance to those parts of the world that had lagged in terms of technological development. On the other hand, for a nation like India which had had a rich intellectual tradition of its own, and was already a relatively advanced civilization, this may have been of lesser import. Although there is considerable debate amongst historians as to how much technology was actually brought into India by Muslims, there is one (albeit controversial) school of thought that argues that inventions like the water-wheel for irrigation were imported during the Muslim period[citation needed]. In some other cases, the evidence is much clearer. The use of ceramic tiles in construction was inspired by architectural traditions prevalent in Iraq, Iran, and in Central Asia[citation needed]. Rajasthan's blue pottery was an adaptation of Chinese pottery which was imported in large quantities by the Mughal rulers[citation needed]. There is also the example of Sultan Abidin (1420–70) sending Kashmiri artisans to Samarqand to learn book-binding and paper making[citation needed].

Cultural influence

The divide and rule policies, two-nation theory, and subsequent partition of India in the wake of Independence from the British Empire has polarized the sub-continental psyche, making objective assessment hard in comparison to the other settled agricultural societies of India from the North West. Muslim rule differed from these others in the level of assimilation and syncretism that occurred. They retained their identity and introduced legal and administrative systems that superseded existing systems of social conduct and ethics. While this was a source of friction it resulted in a unique experience the legacy of which is a Muslim community strongly Islamic in character while at the same time distinctive and unique among its peers.

The impact of Islam on Indian culture has been inestimable. It permanently influenced the development of all areas of human endeavour - language, dress, cuisine, all the art forms, architecture and urban design, and social customs and values. Conversely, the languages of the Muslim invaders were modified by contact with local languages, to Urdu, which uses the Arabic script. This language was also known as Hindustani, an umbrella term used for the vernacular terminology of Urdu as well as Hindi, both major languages in the Indian subcontinent today.

Muslim rule saw a greater urbanization of India and the rise of many cities and their urban cultures. The biggest impact was upon trade resulting from a common commercial and legal system extending from Morocco to Indonesia. This change of emphasis on mercantilism and trade from the more strongly centralized governance systems further clashed with the agricultural based traditional economy and also provided fuel for social and political tensions.

A related development to the shifting economic conditions was the establishment of Karkhanas, or small factories and the import and dissemination of technology through India and the rest of the world. The use of ceramic tiles was adopted from architectural traditions of Iraq, Iran, and Central Asia. Rajasthan's blue pottery was a local variation of imported Chinese pottery. There is also the example of Sultan Abidin (1420–70) sending Kashmiri artisans to Samarqand to learn book-binding and paper making. Khurja and Siwan became renowned for pottery, Moradabad for brass ware, Mirzapur for carpets, Firozabad for glass wares, Farrukhabad for printing, Sahranpur and Nagina for wood-carving, Bidar and Lucknow for bidriware, Srinagar for papier-mache, Benaras for jewelry and textiles, and so on. On the flip-side encouraging such growth also resulted in higher taxes on the peasantry.

Numerous Indian scientific and mathematical advances and the Hindu numerals were spread to the rest of the world[1] and much of the scholarly work and advances in the sciences of the age under Muslim nations across the globe were imported by the liberal patronage of Arts and Sciences by the rulers. The languages brought by Islam were modified by contact with local languages leading to the creation of several new languages, such as Urdu, which uses the modified Arabic script, but with more Persian words. The influences of these languages exist in several dialects in India today.

Islamic and Mughal architecture and art is widely noticeable in India, examples being the Taj Mahal and Jama Masjid.

The cultural practices of jauhar and sati, practiced by some Hindu communities, arose in response to periods of threat during the Muslim conquest to prevent kidnapping or capturing of Hindu women to be married to Muslim rulers, nobles or high officials, which was then considered a holy act of jihad and occurred in significant numbers[13].

Early Muslim communities

Several reasons existed for the desire of the rising Islamic Empire to gain a foothold in Makran and Sind; ranging from the participation of armies from Sindh fighting alongside the Persians in battles such as Nehawand, Salasal, Qadisia and Makran, pirate raids on Arab shipping to the granting of refuge to rebel chiefs.

The Punjab and Sind region had also been historically under considerable flux as Central Asian Kingdoms, the Persian Empire, Buddhist Kingdoms and Rajput Kingdoms vied for control prior to the arrival of the Muslim influence.

Islam in South Asia existed in communities along the Arab trade routes in Sindh, Sri Lanka and Southern India.

Conquest during Rashidun Caliphate

During Rashidun Caliphate significant conquest were made in north western and south western subcontinent (now Pakistan). These were not the whole scale invasion of subcontinent but merely extension of Islamic conquest of Persia.

Invasion of Sindh

The province of Sistan was the largest province of Persian Empire its frontiers extended from Sindh in east, to Balkh (Afghanistan) in north east.[14] During Rashidun Caliphate, the Islamic conquest of some parts of Sindh was extension of the campaigns to conquer the Persian empire in 643 A.D by sending seven armies from seven different routs to different parts of empire. Islamic forces first entered Sindh during the reign of Caliph Umar, in 644 A.D. It was not a whole scale invasion of Sindh but was merely as extension of the conquests of the largest province of Persia Sistan and Makran region. In 644 A.D, the columns of Hakam ibn Amr, Shahab ibn Makharaq and Abdullah ibn Utban concentrated near the west bank of river Indus and defeated the Hindu king of Rasil (Sind) Chach of Alor, his armies retreated and crossed the river Indus. This was first confrontation between Rashidun Caliphate and Rai dynasty. In response of Caliph Umar’s question about the Makran region, the Messenger from Makran who bring the news of the victory told him:

'O Commander of the faithful!

It's a land where the plains are stony; Where water is scanty; Where the fruits are unsavory Where men are known for treachery; Where plenty is unknown; Where virtue is held of little account; And where evil is dominant; A large army is less for there; And a less army is useless there; The land beyond it, is even worse (referring to Sind).

Umar looked at the messenger and said: "Are you a messenger or a poet? He replied "Messenger". Thereupon Caliph Umar, after listening that Sindh was a barren and poor land and the unfavorable situations for sending an army, instructed Hakim bin Amr al Taghlabi that for the time being Makran should be the easternmost frontier of the Rashidun Caliphate, and that no further attempt should be made to extend the conquests. This was mainly because of Umar's policy of consolidating the rule before conquering more land. The same year in 644 Umar had already rejected the proposal by Ahnaf ibn Qais, conqueror of Khurasan, of crossing Oxus river in north to invade central Asia and in west similarly he had called back Amr ibn al-Aas who marched to north Africa and had captured Tripoli. Thereupon on of the commander of Islamic army in Makran is reported to have said the following verses:

Upon the death of the Caliph Umar the areas like other regions of Persian Empire broke into revolt and Caliph Uthman sent forces to re-conquer them. Uthman also sent his agent Haheem ibn Jabla Abdi to investigate the matters of Hind, on his return he told Uthman about the cities, listening to the miserable conditions of the region he avoided campaigning in interior Sind and like Caliph Umar he ordered his armies not to cross Indus river. No campaign was undertake during the reign of Caliph Ali.[15]

Conquest of Baluchistan

What is now Baluchistan province of Pakistan, in 7th century A.D was divided into two main regions, its south western parts were part of Karman province of Persian Empire and north eastern region was part of the Persian province Sistan. The southern region was included in Makran. In early 644 A.D, Caliph Umar sent Suhail ibn Adi from Busra to conquer the Karman region of Iran; he was made governor of Karman. From Karman he entered the western Baluchistan and conquered the region near to Persian frontiers.[16] South Western Baluchistan was conquered during the campaign in sistan the same year. During Caliph Uthman’s reign in 652 A.D, Baluchistan was re-conquered during the campaign against the revolt in Karman, under the command of Majasha ibn Masood, it was first time when western Baluchistan came directly under the Laws of Caliphate and gave tribute on agriculture.[17] In those days western Baluchistan was included in the dominion of Karman. In 654 A.D Abdulrehman ibn Samrah was made governor of Sistan, an Islamic army was sent under him to crush the revolt in Zarang, which is now in southern Afghanistan. Conquering Zarang a column moved north ward to conquer areas up to Kabul and Ghazni in Hindu Kush Mountains, while another column moved towards North western Baluchistan and conquered area up to the ancient city of Dawar and Qandabil (Bolan),[18] by 654 A.D the whole of what is now Baluchistan province of Pakistan was under the rule of Rashidun Caliphate except for the well defended mountain town of QaiQan (now Kalat), which was conquered during Caliph Ali’s reign.[19] Abdulrehman ibn Samrah made Zaranj his provincial capital and remained governor of these conquered areas from 654 to 656 A.D, until Uthman was murdered. During the Caliphate of Ali, the areas of Baluchistan, baluga whale, Makran again broke into revolt. Due to civil war in the Islamic empire Ali was unable to take notice of these areas, at last in the year 660 A.D he sent a large force under the command of Haris ibn Marah Abdi towards Makran, Baluchistan and Sind. Haris ibn Marah Abdi arrived in Makran and conquered it by force then moved north ward to north eastern Baluchistan and re-conquered Qandabil (bolan), then again moving south finally conquered Qaiqan (Kalat) after a fierce battle[20]. In 663 A.D during the reign of Umayyad Caliph Muawiyah I, Muslim lost control of North eastern Baluchistan and Kalat when Haris ibn Marah and large part of army died in the battle field against a revolt in Kalat.[21] Muslim forces latter re-gained the control of the area during Umayyads reign. It also remained part of Abbasid Caliphate's empire.

Conquest during Umayyad Caliphate

In 711, the Umayyad Caliph in Damascus sent two failed expeditions to Balochistan (an arid region on the Iranian Plateau in Southwest Asia, presently split between Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan) and Sindh.

According to Muslim historical accounts such as the Chach Nama, the nature of the expeditions was punitive, and in response to raids carried out by pirates on Arab shipping, operating around Debal. The allegation was made that the King of Sindh, Raja Dahir was the patron of these pirates. The third expedition was led by a 17-year-old Arab chieftain named Muhammad bin Qasim. The expedition went as far North as Multan, then called the "City of Gold", that contained the extremely large Hindu temple Sun Mandir.

Bin Qasim invaded the sub-continent at the orders of Al-Hajjaj bin Yousef, the governor of Iraq. Qasim's armies defeated Raja Dahir at what is now Hyderabad in Sindh in 712. He then proceeded to subdue the lands from Karachi to Multan with an initial force of only six thousand Syrian tribesmen; thereby establishing the dominion of the Umayyad Caliphate from Lisbon in Portugal to the Indus Valley. Qasim's stay was brief as he was soon recalled to Baghdad, and the Caliphates rule in South Asia shrank to Sindh and Southern Punjab in the form of Arab states, the principal of whom were Al Mansura and Multan.

Battle of Rajasthan

The Battle of Rajasthan is a battle where the Hindu Rajput clans defeated the Muslim Arab invaders under Junaid (the successor of Qasim) in 738. It should be noted that while all sources (Hindu and Muslim) agree on the broad outline of the conflict and the result, there is no detailed information on the actual battle. There is also no indication of the exact places where these battles were fought——what is clear is that the final battle took place somewhere on the borders of modern Sindh-Rajasthan. Following their defeat the remnants of the Arab army fled to the other bank of the River Indus.

Communities in the north-west

Subsequent to Qasim's recall the Caliphates control in Sindh was extremely weak under governors who only nominally acknowledged Arab control and shared power with coexisting local Hindu, Jain and Buddhist rulers. Ismaili missionaries found a receptive audience among both the Sunni and non-Muslim populations here. In 985, a group around Multan declared themselves an independent Ismaili Fatimid State.

Coastal trade and the presence of a colony in Sindh permitted significant cultural exchange and the introduction of Muslim teachers into the subcontinent. Considerable conversions took place, especially amongst the Buddhist majority. Multan became a center of the Ismaili sect of Islam, which still has many adherents in Sindh today. This region under generous patronage of the arts provided a conduit for Arab scholars to absorb and expand on Indian sciences and pass them onwards to the West.

North of Multan, non-Muslim groups remained numerous. From this period, the conquered area was divided into two parts: the Northern region comprising the Punjab remained under the control of Hindu Rajas, while the Southern coastal areas comprising of Balochistan, Sindh, and Multan came under Muslim control.

Ghaznavid period

In the 10th century, under the ruler Sabuktigin, the Muslim Ghaznavid state found itself in conflict with the Shahi Raja Jayapala. When Sabuktigin died and his son Mahmud ascended the throne in 998, Ghazni was engaged in the North with the Qarakhanids when the Shahi Raja renewed hostilities.

In the early 11th century, Mahmud of Ghazni launched seventeen expeditions into the Indian sub-continent. In 1001, he defeated Raja Jayapala of the Hindu Shahi Dynasty of Gandhara and marched further into Peshawar and, in 1005, made it the center for his forces.

The Ghaznavid conquests were initially directed against the Ismaili Fatimids in on-going struggle of the Abbassid Caliphate elsewhere. However, once this aim was accomplished, he moved onto richness of the loot of wealthy temples and monasteries. By 1027, Mahmud had captured most of Northern India and obtained formal recognition of Ghazni's sovereignty from the Abbassid Khalifah, al-Qadir Billah.

Ghaznavid rule in North India lasted over 175 years, from 1010 to 1187. It was during this period that Lahore assumed considerable importance apart from being the second capital, and later the only capital, of the Ghaznavid Empire.

At the end of his reign, Mahmud's empire extended from Kurdistan in the west to Samarkand in the Northeast, and from the Caspian Sea to the Yamuna. Although his raids carried his forces across Northern and Western India, only Punjab came under his permanent rule; Kashmir, the Doab, Rajasthan, and Gujarat remained under the control of the local Rajput dynasties.

In 1030, Mahmud fell gravely ill and died at age 59. He had been a gifted military commander, and during his rule, universities were founded to study various subjects such as mathematics, religion, the humanities, and medicine.[citation needed] Sunni Islam was the main religion of his kingdom and the Perso-Afghan dialect Dari was made the official language.

As with the Turkic invaders of three centuries ago, Mahmud's armies looted temples in Varanasi, Mathura, Ujjain, Maheshwar, Jwalamukhi, Somnath and Dwarka. Mahmud was quite pragmatic and he even utilized unconverted Hindu generals and troops in his expeditions. His main target remained the Shiites and Buyid Iran. There is considerable evidence from writings of Al-Biruni, Sogidan, Uyghur and Manichean texts that the Buddhists were considered People of the Book and references to Buddha as Burxan or a prophet can be found.[22] After the initial destruction and pillage Buddhists, Jains and Hindus were granted "protected subject status" or second class citizen status as dhimmis.

Muhammed Ghuri

Muhammad Ghori was a Turkic-Afghan conqueror from the region of Ghor in Afghanistan. Before 1160, the Ghaznavid Empire covered an area running from central Afghanistan east to the Punjab, with capitals at Ghazni on the banks of Ghazni river in present-day Afghanistan, and at Lahore in present-day Pakistan. In 1160, the Ghorids conquered Ghazni from the Ghaznevids, and in 1173 Muhammad was made governor of Ghazni. He raided eastwards into the remaining Ghaznevid territory, and invaded Gujarat in the 1180s but was rebuffed by Gujarat's Solanki rulers. In 1186 and 1187 he conquered Lahore in alliance with a local Hindu ruler, ending the Ghaznevid empire and bringing the last of Ghaznevid territory under his control, and seemed to be the first Muslim ruler seriously interested in expanding his domain in the sub-continent and like his predecessor Mahmud initially started off against the Ismaili Shiite kingdom that had regained independence during the Nizari conflicts, and then onto booty and power.

In 1191, he invaded the territory of Prithviraj III of Ajmer, who ruled much of present-day Rajasthan and Haryana, but was defeated at Tarain by Govinda-Raja of Delhi, Prithviraj's vassal. Finally Muhammad assembled 120,000 horsemen and once again invaded the Kingdom of Ajmer. Muhammad's army met Prithviraj's army again at Tarain, and this time Muhammad attacked at night when Prithviraj's army thought he had retreated so taking advantage of surprise he won the battle; Govinda-Raja was slain, Prithviraj captured and Muhammad advanced onto Delhi. Within a year, Muhammad controlled Northern Rajasthan and Northern Ganges-Yamuna Doab. After these victories in India, and Muhammad's establishment of a capital in Delhi, Multan was also incorporated into his empire. Muhammad then returned east to Ghazni to deal with the threat on his eastern frontiers from the Turks and Mongols, whiles his armies continued to advance through Northern India, raiding as far east as Bengal.

Muhammad returned to Lahore after 1200. Upon his death his most capable general, Qutb-ud-din Aybak took control of Muhammad's Indian conquests and declared himself the first Sultan of Delhi.

The Delhi Sultanate

Muhammad's successors established the first dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate, while the Mamluk Dynasty in 1211 (however, the Delhi Sultanate is traditionally held to have been founded in 1206) seized the reins of the empire. Mamluk means "slave" and referred to the Turkic slave soldiers who became rulers. The territory under control of the Muslim rulers in Delhi expanded rapidly. By mid-century, Bengal and much of central India was under the Delhi Sultanate. Several Turko-Afghan dynasties ruled from Delhi: the Mamluk (1211–1290), the Khalji (1290–1320), the Tughlaq (1320–1413), the Sayyid (1414–51), and the Lodhi (1451–1526). Muslim Kings extended their domains into Southern India, the kingdom of Vijayanagar resisted until falling to the Deccan Sultanate in 1565. Certain kingdoms remained independent of Delhi such as the larger kingdoms of Rajasthan,the Kalinga empire starting with the Eastern Ganga dynasty till the Suryavansi dynasties protected and maintained the boundaries of Kalinga till their decline in the late 16th century, parts of the Deccan, Gujarat, Malwa (central India), nevertheless all of the area in present-day Pakistan came under the rule of Delhi.

The Sultans of Delhi enjoyed cordial, if superficial, relations with Muslim rulers in the Near East but owed them no allegiance. They based their laws on the Quran and the Islamic sharia and permitted non-Muslim subjects to practice their religion only if they paid the jizya (poll tax). They ruled from urban centers, while military camps and trading posts provided the nuclei for towns that sprang up in the countryside.

Perhaps the most significant contribution of the Sultanate was its temporary success in insulating the subcontinent from the potential devastation of the Mongol invasion from Central Asia in the 13th century, which nonetheless led to the capture of Afghanistan and western Pakistan by the Mongols (see the Ilkhanate Dynasty). The Sultanate ushered in a period of Indian cultural renaissance, The resulting "Indo-Muslim" fusion left lasting monuments in architecture, music, literature, and religion. In addition it is surmised that the language of Urdu (literally meaning "horde" or "camp" in various Turkic dialects) was born during the Delhi Sultanate period as a result of the mingling of Sanskritic Hindi and the Persian, Turkish, Arabic favored by the Muslim rulers of India[citation needed].

The Sultanate suffered significantly from the sacking of Delhi in 1398 by Timur, but revived briefly under the Lodi Dynasty, the final dynasty of the Sultanate before it was conquered by Zahiruddin Babur in 1526, who subsequently founded the Mughal Dynasty that ruled from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries.


Statue of Timur in Tashkent

Tīmūr bin Taraghay Barlas, known in the West as Tamerlane, was a 14th century warlord of Turco-Mongol descent,[23][24][25][26] conqueror of much of western and central Asia, and founder of the Timurid Empire and Timurid dynasty (1370–1405) in Central Asia, which survived until 1857 as the Mughal dynasty of India.

Informed about civil war in the Indian subcontinent, Timur began a trek starting in 1398 to invade the reigning Sultan Nasir-u Din Mehmud of the Tughlaq Dynasty in the north Indian city of Delhi.[27] His campaign was politically pretexted that the Muslim Delhi Sultanate was too tolerant toward its Hindu subjects, but that could not mask the real reason being to amass the wealth of the Delhi Sultanate.[28]

Timur crossed the Indus River at Attock (now Pakistan) on September 24. The capture of towns and villages was often followed by the looting, massacre of their inhabitants and raping of their women, as well as pillaging to support his massive army. Timur wrote many times in his memoirs of his specific disdain for the 'idolatrous' Hindus, although he also waged war against Muslim Indians during his campaign.

Timur's invasion did not go unopposed and he did meet some resistance during his march to Delhi, most notably with the Sarv Khap coalition in northern India, and the Governor of Meerut. Although impressed and momentarily stalled by the valour of Ilyaas Awan, Timur was able to continue his relentless approach to Delhi, arriving in 1398 to combat the armies of Sultan Mehmud, already weakened by an internal battle for ascension within the royal family.

The Sultan's army was easily defeated on December 17, 1398. Timur entered Delhi and the city was sacked, destroyed, and left in ruins. Before the battle for Delhi, Timur executed more than 100,000 captives. ref name="EI"/>[27]

Timur himself recorded the invasions in his memoirs, collectively known as Tuzk-i-Timuri[23][23][27][29][30]. In them, he vividly described the massacre at Delhi:

In a short space of time all the people in the [New 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 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 people 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.

One hundred thousand infidels, impious idolaters, were on that day slain. Maulana Nasiruddin Umar, a counselor and 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....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 enemies of Islam at other course remained but that of making them all food for the sword.[31]

As per Malfuzat-i-Timuri [27][29], Timur targeted Hindus. In his own words, "Excepting the quarter of the saiyids, the 'ulama and the other Musalmans [sic], the whole city was sacked". In his descriptions of the Loni massacre he wrote, "..Next day I gave orders that the Musalman prisoners should be separated and saved."

During the ransacking of Delhi, almost all inhabitants not killed were captured and enslaved.

Timur left Delhi in approximately January 1399. In April he had returned to his own capital beyond the Oxus (Amu Darya). Immense quantities of spoils were taken from India. According to Ruy Gonzáles de Clavijo, 90 captured elephants were employed merely to carry precious stones looted from his conquest, so as to erect a mosque at Samarkand — what historians today believe is the enormous Bibi-Khanym Mosque. Ironically, the mosque was constructed too quickly and suffered greatly from disrepair within a few decades of its construction.

The Mughal Empire

Tomb of Babur in Kabul.

The Mughals dominated Indian politics from the thirteenth through the nineteenth centuries, lasting until the British took colonial control in 1857.[32] India in the 16th century presented a fragmented picture of rulers, both Muslim and Hindu, who lacked concern for their subjects and failed to create a common body of laws or institutions. Outside developments also played a role in shaping events. The circumnavigation of Africa by the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama in 1498 allowed Europeans to challenge Arab control of the trading routes between Europe and Asia. In Central Asia and Afghanistan, shifts in power pushed Babur of Ferghana (in present-day Uzbekistan) southward, first to Kabul and then to India. The dynasty he founded endured for more than three centuries.


Claiming descent from both Genghis Khan and Timur, Babur combined strength and courage with a love of beauty, and military ability with cultivation. He concentrated on gaining control of Northwestern India, doing so in 1526 by defeating the last Lodhi Sultan at the First battle of Panipat, a town north of Delhi. Babur then turned to the tasks of persuading his Central Asian followers to stay on in India and of overcoming other contenders for power, mainly the Rajputs and the Afghans. He succeeded in both tasks but died shortly thereafter in 1530. The Mughal Empire was one of the largest centralized states in premodern history and was the precursor to the British Indian Empire.


Babur's son Humayun lost control of Delhi soon after taking power, but his son Akbar (r. 1556–1605) re-established Mughal dynastic rule in North India after the Second battle of Panipat. Akbar's reign was followed by Jahangir and Shah Jahan (r. 1628–58), the latter being the builder of the Taj Mahal. Towards the end of his life, Shah Jahan was deposed by his son Aurangzeb (r. 1658–1707) who expanded the empire greatly. While earlier Mughal rulers such as Akbar were known for their religious tolerance and administrative genius, Aurangzeb advocated orthodox Islam and aggressively persecuted Hindus and Sikhs.


While some rulers were zealous in their spread of Islam, others were relatively liberal. Moghul emperor Akbar was relatively liberal and established a new religion, Din E Elahi, which included beliefs from different religions. He abolished the jizya for some time. In contrast, his great-grandson Aurangzeb was more zealous ruler who followed an orthodox version of Islam.

In the century-and-a-half that followed the death of Aurangzeb, effective Muslim control weakened. Succession to imperial and even provincial power, which had often become hereditary, was subject to intrigue and force. The mansabdari system gave way to the zamindari system, in which high-ranking officials took on the appearance of hereditary landed aristocracy with powers of collecting rents. As Delhi's control waned, other contenders for power emerged and clashed, thus preparing the way for the eventual British takeover.

Image of the 17th century Afghan ruler Ahmad Shah Abdali who controlled large portions of eastern India.

Durrani Empire

The decay of the Mughal power saw a series of invasions by the Persian adventurer, Nadir Shah, but no occupation per se. Following his death, his Royal Guardsman Ahmed Shah Abdali - an Afghan - embarked on an invasion of conquest. In the short space of just over a quarter of a century, he forged one of the largest Muslim Empires of the 18th century. The high point of his conquests was his victory over the powerful Marathas when he declared a jihad (or Islamic holy war) against the Marathas. Warriors from various Pashtun tribes, as well as other tribes such as the Baloch, Tajiks, and Muslims in India, answered Ahmad Shah's call. Early battles were followed by large victory for the Afghans, and by 1759 Ahmad and his army had reached Lahore and were poised to confront the Marathas. By 1760, the Maratha groups had coalesced into a great army that outnumbered Ahmad Shah's forces. Once again, Panipat was the scene of a confrontation between two warring contenders for control of northern India. The Third Battle of Panipat (January 1761), fought between largely Muslim and largely Hindu armies who numbered as many as 100,000 troops each was waged along a twelve-kilometer front and ended in a decisive defeating for the Marathas.

Ahmad Shah's empire stretched from the Indus at Attock all the way to the outskirts of Delhi. Uninterested in long term of conquest or in replacing the Mughal Empire, he became increasingly pre occupied with revolts in Persia and by the Sikhs. The Sikhs eventually defeated Ahmed Shah's forces in numerous battles and took over large swathes of his Durrani empire.

Destruction of Temples


In 1193, the Nalanda University complex was destroyed by Turkish Muslim invaders under Bakhtiyar Khalji; this event is seen as the final milestone in the decline of Buddhism in India. He also burned Nalanda's major Buddhist library and Vikramshila University, as well as numerous Buddhist monasteries in India. When the Tibetan translator, Chag Lotsawa Dharmasvamin (Chag Lo-tsa-ba, 1197–1264), visited northern India in 1235, Nalanda was damaged, looted, and largely deserted, but still standing and functioning with seventy students. Mahabodhi, Sompura, Vajrasan and other important monasteries were found to be untouched. The Ghuri ravages only afflicted those monasteries that lay in the direct of their advance and were fortified in the manner of defensive forts.[citation needed]

By the end of the 12th century, following the Muslim conquest of the Buddhist stronghold in Bihar, Buddhism having already declined in the south declined in the North as well as survivors retreated to Nepal, Sikkim and Tibet or escaped to the South of the sub-continent. Hinduism and Jainism survived because they did not have large centers of worship and devotion based around heavily fortified monasteries.

Sri Krishna Temple in Hampi


The city flourished between the 14th century and 16th century, during the height of the Vijayanagar Empire. During this time, it was often in conflict with the kingdoms which rose in the Northern Deccan, and which are often collectively termed the Deccan Sultanates. In 1565, the empire's armies suffered a massive and catastrophic defeat at by an alliance of the Sultanates, and the capital was taken. The victorious armies then razed, depopulated and destroyed the city over several months. The empire continued in slow decline, but the original capital was not reoccupied or rebuilt.


The first temple of Somnath existed before the beginning of the Christian era.[citation needed]

The second temple, built by the Maitraka kings of Vallabhi in Gujarat, replaced the first one on the same site around 649. In 725 Junayad, the Arab governor of Sind, sent his armies to destroy the second temple.

Somanath from the beach

The Pratihara king Nagabhata II constructed the third temple in 815, a large structure of red sandstone. Mahmud of Ghazni attacked this temple in 1026, looted its gems and precious stones, massacred the worshippers and burned it. It was then that the famous Shivalinga of the temple was entirely destroyed.

The fourth temple was built by the Paramara King Bhoj of Malwa and the Solanki king Bhima of Gujarat (Anhilwara) between 1026 and 1042. The temple was razed in 1297 when the Sultanate of Delhi conquered Gujarat, and again in 1394. Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb destroyed the temple again in 1706.

See also

Further reading


  1. ^ a b c M. S. Asimov and C. E. Bosworth, History of Civilizations of Central Asia, Vol IV:The Rise of Islam and Nomadic and Military Empires in Central Asia, Paris: UNESCO Publishing, 1998, ISBN 92-3-103467-7
  2. ^ Ram Puniyani. Question of Faith.
  3. ^ a b c d e der Veer, pg 27-29
  4. ^ a b c d e Eaton, Richard M. The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier, 1204-1760. Berkeley: University of California Press, c1993 1993.Online version last accessed on 1 May 2007
  5. ^ Durant, Will. "The Story of Civilization: Our Oriental Heritage" (page 459). 
  6. ^ Elst, Koenraad (2006-08-25). "Was there an Islamic "Genocide" of Hindus?". Kashmir Herald. Retrieved 2006-08-25. 
  7. ^ Sarkar, Jadunath. How the Muslims forcibly converted the Hindus of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh to Islam. 
  8. ^ Caste in Indian Muslim Society
  9. ^ Aggarwal, Patrap (1978). Caste and Social Stratification Among Muslims in India. Manohar. 
  10. ^ Maddison, Angus (2004). The World Economy: Historical Statistics, 1–2001 AD. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.  ISBN 92-64-10412-7.
  11. ^ Islam and the sub-continent - appraising its impact
  12. ^ McLeod (2002), pg. 33
  13. ^ Shri Ram Bakshi (1995). Advanced History of Medieval India. Anmol Publications PVT . LTD.. p. 6. 
  14. ^ Tabri vol: 4 page no: 180-181
  15. ^ Tarikh al Khulfa vol: 1 pg:197
  16. ^ Ibn Aseer vol: 3 page no: 17
  17. ^ Futuh al-Buldan page no:384 Needs edition statement in order to identify page
  18. ^ Tabqat ibn Saad vol: 8 pg: 471
  19. ^ Futuh al-Buldan pg:386 Needs edition statement in order to identify page
  20. ^ Rashidun Caliphate and Hind, by Qazi Azher mubarek Puri, published by Takhliqat, Lahore Pakistan
  21. ^ Tarikh al Khulfa vol:1 pg :214-215,229
  22. ^ Berzin, Alexander "The Historical Interaction between the Buddhist and Islamic Cultures before the Mongol Empire", e-book Revised 2003, Last Accessed 27 August 2006.
  23. ^ a b c B.F. Manz, "Tīmūr Lang", in Encyclopaedia of Islam, Online Edition, 2006
  24. ^ The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, "Timur", 6th ed., Columbia University Press: "... Timur (timoor') or Tamerlane (tăm'urlān), c.1336–1405, Mongol conqueror, b. Kesh, near Samarkand. ...", (LINK)
  25. ^ "Timur", in Encyclopaedia Britannica: "... [Timur] was a member of the Turkic Barlas clan of Mongols..."
  26. ^ "Baber", in Encyclopaedia Britannica: "... Baber first tried to recover Samarkand, the former capital of the empire founded by his Mongol ancestor Timur Lenk ..."
  27. ^ a b c d Volume III: To the Year A.D. 1398, Chapter: XVIII. Malfúzát-i Tímúrí, or Túzak-i Tímúrí: The Autobiography or Memoirs of Emperor Tímúr (Taimur the lame). Page 389. 1. Online copy, 2. Online copy) from: Elliot, Sir H. M., Edited by Dowson, John. The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians. The Muhammadan Period; published by London Trubner Company 1867–1877.
  28. ^ The Islamic World to 1600: The Mongol Invasions (The Timurid Empire)
  29. ^ a b Volume III: To the Year A.D. 1398, Chapter: XVIII. Malfúzát-i Tímúrí, or Túzak-i Tímúrí: The Autobiography or Memoirs of Emperor Tímúr (Taimur the lame). Page: 389 (1. Online copy, 2. Online copy) from: Elliot, Sir H. M., Edited by Dowson, John. The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians. The Muhammadan Period; London Trubner Company 1867–1877.)
  30. ^ Lane-Poole, Stanley (1907). "Chapter IX: Tinur's Account of His Invasion". History of India. The Grolier Society.  Full text at Google Books
  31. ^ Taimur Lane. Turk-i-Taimuri. 
  32. ^ Article on Islam in South Asia in Oxford Islamic Studies Online
  1. ^  "ECIT Indian History Resources". Retrieved December 5, 2005. 
  2. ^  "History of India syllabus". Retrieved December 5, 2005. 
  3. ^  "About DeLacy O'Leary". Retrieved April 10, 2006. 


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