Hindus disclaim Muslims contributions in India

minorities indiaAsif Haroon Raja

Hindu Brahmans suffer from perpetual inferiority complex owing to historical reality that the Hindus had been ruled by Muslim rulers for nearly 1000 years. Historically, India in its entire history was never a single nation, nor a united country. Hindus forget that whosoever invaded India captured it and ruled it for centuries. No invading force was ever defeated. Hindus ignore the fact that the Muslim rulers had made India strong and prosperous and had brought remarkable improvements. Hindus were treated affably and their religious customs and traditions respected.

Muslims were the last to arrive starting with capture of Sindh by Muhammad bin Qasim in 712 AD. His conquest laid the first brick of Hindu-Muslim antagonism which thickened over a period of time. With the decline of Arab power in Sindh, the sword of Islam passed into the hands of Turks from Central Asia. Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi after consolidating his hold in Afghanistan led his troops into northern India in 1000 AD. During his 30-year reign, he stormed India 17 times, toppling kingdoms after kingdoms. He detached Punjab up to River Ravi from India and made it integral to his Ghaznawid Empire.

Sultan Shehab-al Din Ghauri reinvigorated the downhill course of Ghaznawid Empire from 1173 onwards. He annexed Delhi, Ajmer and Kanauj in 1192 and practically captured all of northern India from Ravi to Assam with his capital at Delhi. Qutbuddin Aybek ascended the throne in 1206 and heralded the era of Sultanate of Delhi. Iltutmish (1211-36) contributed significantly to the advancement of Islamic architecture initiated by Qutbuddin.  He pushed back the invasion of Mongols led by Changez Khan in 1221. Ghiasuddin Balban (1267-1287) brought significant improvements in the field of administration and political machinery. He introduced intelligence network to keep himself informed, established Qazi courts to dispense cheap and speedy justice, and also kept the Mongols at bay.

Among the Khilji dynasty, Allaudin Khilji (1296-1315) proved to be most successful and historians rate him as the best Sultan of India. His rule was the first period in point of time when Muslims hold encompassed nearly the whole of India. Khiljis influenced the lifestyle of Indian people. Tughluqs, Sayyids and Lodhis didn’t make any significant improvements. Rather Tughluqs caused damage to the fabric of Indian unity and tempted Taimur to invade India in 1393 and devastate it. Zaheer-uddin Babur (1526-1530) raised the flag of Mughals in India in 1526 after defeating Ibrahim Lodhi at Panipat. He consolidated his rule in India in just two years and his kingdom stretched from Kabul to Bengal and from Himalaya to Gwalior. Humayun (1530-1540 and 1555-56) died just after six months of his return from exile in 1555.

Sher Shah Suri during his five-year eventful rule spread network of roads throughout India including the famed Grand Trunk Road. He introduced revenue system, abolished Jagirdari system and did a lot for welfare of peasantry. He extended benefits to Hindu elites. Very few people could do so much in so little time.

Emperor Akbar during his fifty years rule (1556-1605) gave preferential treatment to the Hindus in order to create unity out of diversity. He befriended Rajputs who helped him in consolidating his power. He elevated Rajputs and Brahmans to high posts, married Rajput princesses and adopted Hindu customs. To appease Hindus, he abolished Jizya, cow and buffalo slaughter and doled out lavish grants for temples.  These measures helped in fostering common patriotic fervor and promoted stability. His effort to blend Islam with Hinduism through his experiment of Deen-e-Illahi so as to achieve national unity and to please high caste Hindus was ill-conceived. His brainwave dampened his tremendous gains, but the Hindus adore him to this date.

Jahangir (1605-1627) was a scholar of repute and known for his just dealings. He however, failed to nip the controversy of his father’s Deen-e-Illahi in the bud. He also followed the policy of his father to keep high caste Hindus pleased. Hindu power continued to grow in power. Shah Jehan (1628-1657) expanded the frontiers of Mughal Empire from Central Asia and Afghanistan in the West to Bengal in East and Deccan in South. He is acclaimed for his rich contributions in art and architecture and ushering in abundance of prosperity because of his sound agriculture policy.

Aurangzeb Alamgir (1658-1707) has been censured the most by Hindu and British writers and dubbed as anti-Hindus. He had to undo the wrongs of his predecessors. It must not be forgotten that the Mughal Empire reached its highest glory under his rule and became the largest state ever known in Indian history. Unlike his predecessors, he led a very simple and pure life. His total earnings at the time of his death were from copying Quran and knitting prayer caps. He forbade his kinfolk not to build any tomb over his grave.  His death marked the beginning of end of Mughal Empire.

Besides the contributions of the Muslim Sultans and the Mughal kings, the Sufi saints carried the message of equality and tolerance and in the process spread Islam. Their contributions in spreading the message of Islam between 8th and 11th centuries were stupendous. The Buddhists, Jains and low caste Hindus suffering under the coercive yoke of Hindu Brahmans flocked towards the peace loving Sufis and converted to Islam in big numbers.

High caste Hindus served the Muslim rulers loyally as long as the Mughal Army was strong and the rulers were strong-willed. Fun-loving Mughal kings who came after Aurangzeb took up a backseat and allowed disruptive forces to gain strength. Mughal power was given a crushing blow by Nadir Shah’s invasion of India in 1739 followed by his successor Ahmad Shah Abdali who ravaged India nine times between 1748 and 1767.  These invasions catapulted the Marhattas who had been defeated by Aurangzeb. They became so strong that they started dreaming of establishing a Hindu Empire and to completely eliminate Muslims as had been done by the Christians against the Muslims of Spain.

Sensing their evil intentions, Shah Wali Ullah sent a distress signal to Abdali. He responded and shattered Marhattas dream in the 3rd battle of Panipat in 1761. The deadly conflict between the Muslims and the Marhattas weakened both and created space for the British to gain supremacy in India. Disunity together with chaos and confusion gave ideas to the British East India Company to wrest control. The British systematically broke the Muslim power by co-opting Hindus and courtier Muslims.

Battle of Plassey marked the beginning of British rule over Bengal in 1757. Defeat of Haider Ali and later elimination of Tipu Sultan in battle of Sirangapatam in 1799 and breaking the backbone of Marhatta power stamped the supremacy of the British rule in India and paved the way for full control of whole of India. War of independence was the last ditch effort by the Muslims to chuck out the British in 1857, but was failed by the Hindus, Sikhs, Punjabis and Pathans. The British eventually succeeded in dethroning Bahadar Shah Zafar in 1858 and establishing direct rule.

It took the British 100 years to end the Mughal rule and establish British Raj. The Hindus rather than joining hands with their erstwhile benevolent masters to fight the common enemy started serving the new masters and both jointly schemed to sink the fortunes of the Muslims. The Marhattas, the Sikhs and the British conjointly pulverized the foundations of Mughal Empire. Although the status of Muslims in India was reduced from lords to serfs and Hindus became lords, it didn’t lessen the hatred of Hindus against Muslims. The Hindus now disclaim Muslim contributions and claim that mythical ancient India was more prosperous and united.

The writer is a retired Brig, a defence analyst and a historian. Email:asifharonraja@gmail.com

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