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the Indian Peninsula and Pakistan
 
The commercial relations between the various regions of the Indian subcontinent and the countries of west Asia have an ancient history. This trade was carried out through the great waterway of the Persian Gulf, which connected the coastal towns and the inhabited islands of south and east Asia – from China, Java and Sumatra to Sarandib (Sri Lanka) and the eastern and western islands of India – to the towns and settlements on the shores of the Tigris and Euphrates and the western Mediterranean, throughout the four seasons of the year.
The port of Abullah, near the modern-day city of Basra, was among the major centers of trade with India and the western world, which owing to its prominent role had come to be known as the Gate of India. The goods brought from India to such regions as Iran, Hijaz, Yemen, Iraq and Syria, e.g. incense, sandal (thyme, wild mint), perfume, camphor, ginger, pepper, betel nut, cinnamon, cardamom, marking nut, sugar, coconut, denim cloth, silk, textiles, teakwood, diamonds, and spears and swords, were famous the world over, some of which continue to go by their original Indian names, in Iran, Saudi Arabia and other countries. The Roman historian, Ammianus Marcellinus, who, in 363 AD, followed the Roman army to the east, notes, “In early autumn, a great market was set up in the city of Batnah, near the shores of the Euphrates, in which were sold goods from India and China.” The same type of commercial activity continued into the Islamic period. There exist reports of Muslim Arabs who, soon after the advent of Islam, immigrated to such regions as Sarandib and the southern ports of India with the aim of engaging in trading activities.
Muslim conquests in the western parts of India, in the form of systematic political and military campaigns, started in the late 1st century AH (7th cen. AD), during the reign of Hajjaj b. Yusuf Thaqafi. Prior to this, from the time of the second caliph to the reign of `Abd al-Malik b. Marwan, Muslim armies had launched attacks against the surrounding areas of Makran and Sind and had succeeded in establishing Muslim control over a number of regions. However, these efforts had failed to yield any concrete results. It appears that at the early stages of the conquests the eyes of the Muslim commanders were more trained on Khurasan and central Asia than on Indian territory. During the days of the third caliph, Hakim b. Jublah was dispatched to Sind, in order to gather information about the geography and the people of the area and to assess the conditions for possible future military action. He remained in the region for some time before making his way back to Hijaz. His depiction of India presented to the caliph is said to have included the following lines: “Its water is brackish, and its fruit is sour, and its ground is barren, and its mud is briny. A small army would meet with a swift defeat, and if accompanied by a large entourage, would starve and perish.”
According to certain reports, during the reigns of Walid b. `Abd al-Malik and Hajjaj b. Yusuf in Iraq, a group of Muslims – consisted mostly of the wives of the merchants who had settled in Sarandib – who were sailing to Hijaz, bearing the gifts of the king of Sarandib for Hajjaj b. Yusuf, were diverted by opposite winds to the shores of Andalib, a coastal city in Sind, where their goods were plundered and their women were taken into captivity; the event which is said to have prompted the first Muslim attack against Sind, paving the way to the eventual conquest of India.
In 92 AH (711 AD), Hajjaj placed his son-in-law, Muhammad b. Qasim, at the head of a great army, which, receiving supplies and weapons by ships, made its way to Sind via Fars and Kirman. In the span of a little less than a year the Muslims succeeded in capturing all the major cities in Sind, in addition to the southern regions of Punjab up to the city of Multan, one of the major religious and political centers of Hinduism. Beginning in the early 2nd century AH (8th cen. AD), the region became a de facto part of the Islamic territory. With the construction of mosques and schools in various cities, together with the immigration, to other locales, of Muslims eager to spread the message of Islam, it did not take long before Islam came to assume dominance over the social life of the people of the region, spreading among the native population.
With the appearance of the `Abbasids, with the incessant infighting characteristic of their caliphal administration, the Muslim political and military advance in the Indian peninsula came to a halt and remained confined, up until the early 5th century AH (11th cen. AD), to the vicinities of Kabul and Kandahar, which had been wrested from Hindu sultans by the emirs of the Saffarid dynasty. Even after the fall of the Saffarids, the remoteness of the region from the caliphal center resulted in struggles among Muslim and Hindu rulers of the region. The subsequent instability and weakness of local governments provided an opportunity for the Fatimids of Egypt to dispatch their Isma`ili da`is to the region, who succeeded in establishing their control over Multan, in the mid 4th century AH (10th cen. AD), from which they expanded their missionary network throughout the regions of Sind, Punjab and Gujarat. Throughout their rule over Multan and its surrounding areas, the Isma`ilis preached their sermons in the name of the Fatimid caliph, in whose name there also were minted some coins.
The ground for the activities of Isma`ilis in Multan had been laid in the mid 2nd century AH (8th cen. AD) with the arrival in the region of a group of `Alawites. According to some traditions, the mother of the fourth Shi`ite imam, Zayn al-`Abidin (PBUH), had hailed from Sind. During the caliphate of Mansur (136 – 158 AH / 753 – 775 AD), `Abd Allah, the son of Muhammad, known as Nafs Zakiyyah, immigrated to Sind, along with a group of his followers, where he engaged in the spread of `Alawite views. In the 3rd century AH (9th cen. AD), Abu `Abd Allah Ja`far b. Muhammad `Alawi immigrated, from Hijaz, to Multan, where he and his kin established family ties with the Habbari rulers of the city, who had originally descended from the Quraysh tribe. In fact, the same Habbari rulers provided support to Isma`ilis during their initial phase of activity in Sind and Multan, a move which proved crucial to the success of the Isma`ili cause in the region. Although the Isma`ilis were dealt a major blow by the Ghaznavid Mahmud, in the course of his attack on Multan, they appear to have retained their presence in the region up until the late 6th century AH, and the conquest of Sind by Mu’izz al-Din Muhammad Ghuri (572 AH / 1176 AD). The expansion of Batini propagation in western India and, especially, in Gujarat also dates from around this time. The two major branches of the Isma`ilis, i.e. the one known as Buhrah and the Khujah (Aqa Khani), who were originally from among the tribes of Rajput, trace their history back to the same period. Up until the early 7th century AH (13th cen. AD), the engagement of Muslim rulers in various preoccupations and conflicts provided the Isma`ilis with a free hand in their missionary efforts, so much so that, in 634 AH (1237 AD), when Radiyyah, the daughter of Iltutmush, ascended the throne of Delhi, they staged an abortive rebellion in the city, a short while after which they were crushed by `Ala’ al-Din Khalji and expelled from the region. Henceforward, the sect’s existence continued in the form of small groups scattered throughout Gujarat, Sind and the surrounding areas of Delhi, who, masking their true beliefs, engaged in commerce, up until the coming of the British, when they once again conducted their business free from any pretense.
Beginning with the first phase of Muslim conquests in the western regions of India, and prior to the establishment of Muslim dynasties in Lahore, Delhi, Bengal and Deccan, there settled groups of Muslim and non-Muslim merchants in the coastal towns of southern India, as well as in its islands. According to the reports, they enjoyed the respect of the native population as well as their governments. Based on Idrisi’s Nuzhat al-Mushtaq, the king of Sarandib had four Muslim viziers who dealt with issues relating to Muslim travelers and immigrants. According to Buzurg b. Shahryar, the Iranian mariner, upon the arrival of the news of the advent of Islam, the people of Sarandib sent an emissary to Hijaz to gather information about the new religion and as well as on the character and deeds of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). Once in Medina, he was received personally by the second caliph who provided replies to all his questions. The emissary passed away on his way back to Sarandib, but the information on the rules and tenets of Islam, as well as on the pious conduct of Muslim leaders was brought back to Sarandib by his companion, from which time Islam and its adherents have been looked upon by the people of Sri Lanka in a special light.
The same Buzurg b. Shahryar reports from certain traditionists that, in 270 AH (883 AD), one of the kings of the region of Kashmir by the name of Mahruk b. Rayaq sent an embassy to `Abd Allah b. `Umar b. `Abd al-`Aziz, the ruler of Mansurah, and requested an account of Islamic shari`ah in Hindi language. `Abd Allah discussed the matter with a man from Iraq who had been raised up in Sind and who had such command of the language that he composed poems in Hindi. The Iraqi man wrote an ode in which he provided an account of the Islamic shari`ah. In a letter to `Abd Allah, the Kashmiri king asked to meet the author of the ode. The Iraqi poet set out for Kashmir and remained there for three years, during which he instructed the king in the principles of the Islamic religion, in addition to making a translation of the Holy Qur’an. The king embraced Islam, though he masked his conversion from the people of his realm.
Based on another report, in the early 3rd century AH (9th cen. AD), Cheraman Perumal, the ruler of Malabar, on the western coast of India, saw in a dream that the moon was broken into several pieces. Around the same time, a group of Muslims of Sarandib, on their way to Arabia, arrived in Malabar. The leader of the company informed the king about the meaning of his dream. The king converted to Islam, adopted the Muslim name, `Abd al-Rahman Samari, and accompanied the Muslim group to Arabia, where he took up residence and died some four years later. Before his death, he sent a number of eminent Muslims, such as Malik b. Dinar and Malik b. Habib, and his wife and children, to Malabar, along with a letter instructing his courtiers to look after the Muslim immigrants. The memory of Cheraman’s departure to Arabia remained alive for many centuries. The kings of Malabar, who carried the title of Samari (Zamorin), considered themselves as Cheraman’s successors. In fact, the line uttered by them, while holding the sword, at the time of their coronation was, “I shall hold on to this sword until such time as my uncle returns from Mecca.” It is reported that starting from the time of Cheraman Arabs poured into Malabar and its surrounding islands, where they erected mosques and engaged in commercial activities. These new immigrants mingled with the native people, established family relations, and came to control the foreign trade in the region. The offspring from the unions of Muslims with the native people were referred to as biasarah (sing. bisarah, i.e. two-headed, two-sided). Today, the Muslim population in the western coasts of India, known as the Mupla, or Mappila (i.e., son-in-law), are the descendents of those early Muslim immigrants.
There exist a large number of similar stories about the conversion of kings and rajas of south India, which have enjoyed widespread popularity among the Muslim population of the region. Whatever the historical veracity of these accounts, they surely indicate the social status accorded to Muslims in this region of the world from the early centuries of the Islamic era. Mas`udi, who traveled to India in the early part of the 4th century AH (10th cen. AD), speaks of the ten thousand-strong Muslim population in the city of Saymur, near modern-day Bombay, who originally hailed from Basra, Baghdad, Oman, and other such cities, and who engaged in commerce and various other activities. He also refers to the special status of Islam in the realm of Balahra, whose kingdom was a safe haven for Muslims, who had flourishing mosques and who enjoyed complete freedom in their social and commercial dealings. They also followed a Muslim judge, or ruler, by the name of Hunarman (Hunarmand). The people of India considered the prosperity and long lives of their kings to flow from their just ways as well as the respect they accorded to the Muslims. The circumstances in the other cities of the region were similar, where Muslims enjoyed complete freedom of action, in worldly as well as in religious affairs. The Muslim populations of these cities were also on the rise, where they played an active role in the social and economic life of these coastal towns.
Muslims’ contribution to the improvement of the economic and social conditions of cities was mostly through their contact with the outside world and expansion of commercial activities. In fact, they were in virtual possession of the foreign trade in these regions and controlled the sea routes from the coasts of China and Sarandib to the shores of the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. The florescence of trade clearly contributed to the expansion of opportunities for creation of new goods, which, in turn, resulted in the development of towns and commercial centers. The rajas also benefited immensely from this expansion of trade because of the revenue poured into their coffers from taxes on imports. Up until the close of the 9th century AH (15th cen. AD), the commercial centers of the west Indian coast were in control of the Muslims. However, in 906 AH (1500 AD), the Portuguese established themselves in the port of Calicut. A short while later, Alfonso Albuquerque, the head of the Portuguese fleet, equipped with heavy guns, defeated the Muslims who, henceforth, lost control of the trading posts along the Indian coast.
The rise in Muslim population of the southern regions of India continued at a rapid pace up until the 8th century AH (14th cen. AD), at the time of the southward expansion of the Islamic governments of the north. Ibn Battutah, traveling in the region in the early part of the 8th century AH, provides accounts of a multiplicity of flourishing mosques, schools and khanaqahs, as well as encounters with a multitude of scholars, faqihs, traditionists and mystics from Iran and Arabic countries, who had taken up residence in India. He speaks of a Hindu king of an island in southern India, by the name of Shanurazah, who had converted to Islam as a result of the miracles (karamat) he had witnessed carried out by Shaykh Abu ’l-Barakat Maghribi, and who had adopted the Muslim title of Sultan Ahmad. He reports to have seen the following inscription on the entrance to a mosque built by the newly converted raja: “Sultan Ahmad Shanurazah was converted to Islam at the hands of Shaykh Abu ’l-Barakat Maghribi.” Ibn Battutah also reports of a great khanaqah in Calicut, which was run by one of the descendents of Shaykh Abu Ishaq Kazaruni, by the name of Shaykh Shihab al-Din Kazaruni. There also was a major khanaqah in the city of Kulam, where Shaykh Fakhr al-Din, the son of Shihab al-Din Kazaruni, was engaged in teaching and guidance. At the time of Ibn Battutah’s visit to Maldives and its surrounding islands, the inhabitants, Arab and non-Arab, were all Muslims, ruled by a woman by the name of Sultanah Khadijah Bint Sultan Jalal al-Din `Umar b. Sultan Salah al-Din Salih Bangali.
The cities on the eastern coast of India, and in the vast region of Ma`bar (Coromandel), were also inhabited by Muslim immigrants and merchants from the distant past. Coins brought to light in the eastern coasts of India, dating from the 1st century AH (from 71 AH / 690 AD onward), are indications of the long history of Muslim settlement in the region. Owing to the fact that the main trade routes to the vast, prosperous and populous land of China crossed through these regions, the ports along the coast, from southern India to the shores of China, were transformed into major centers of commercial activity. According to the reports of Muslim travelers, dating from the first centuries AH, large populations of Muslim immigrants, both Iranian and Arab, had settled in the major, prosperous cities of the region, with their own mosques, schools and khanaqahs. The ultimate destination of this trade route was China, which, from early on, had attracted the attention of Muslims. Based on a number of reports, Sa`d b. Abi Waqqas was appointed by the Holy Prophet (PBUH) to head an embassy to China, where, toady, his alleged tomb in Canton is a pilgrimage site for the Muslims of the region. Trade and political ties between Baghdad and the major commercial and political centers in China had consolidated in the `Abbasid period, when, on occasion, embassies were exchanged as a means of strengthening mutual relations. The names of `Abbasid caliphs are asserted in ancient Chinese documents of the period. For instance, “Amir al-Mu’minin”, “Abu ’l-`Abbas”, the first `Abbasid caliph, and “Harun”, occur as “Han Mimumuni”, “Abu Luya”, and “Alun”, respectively. Groups of Muslim immigrants had settled in various Chinese cities, from early on, engaging in trade and other commercial activities. The native people referred to the newcomers as “Tashi”, a possible rendition of the term “Tazi”, i.e. “Arab”, which, in later times, was changed into “Hui Hui”, a possible distortion of “Muhammadi”.
Ibn Battutah, who visted China in the first half of the 8th century AH (14th cen. AD), reports of the existence of independent Muslim neighborhoods in all major cities of the country. Important merchants were mostly of Iranian stock. There also existed entertainers who sang in Persian.
Muslim activities in these regions were not confined to commerce, but also extended to politics and administration, in which they took an active part. According to Ibn Battutah, the city of Hunawar was ruled over by Jamal al-Din Muhammad, who was a subject of the Hindu king of Malabar, and Java and Sumatra were the domain of the Shafi`i ruler, Malik Zahir. Based on the report by Rashid al-Din Fadl Allah, the king of Ma`bar, Raja Sundrapandi, in the 7th century AH (13th cen. AD), had a Muslim vizier by the name of Malik Taqi al-Din, whose brother, Shaykh Jamal al-Din, traded in horses and, annually, imported into Ma`bar several thousands of them by ships originating in the ports of the Persian Gulf. When `Ala’ al-Din Khalji launched an attack on Ma`bar, in 710 AH (13130 AD), the Muslims put up a defense of the city of Birdahul, the capital of the Hindu Raja. According to Ibn Battutah, in 740 AH, in the battle which broke out between Sulatn Ghiyath al-Din Damghani and Balal Div (Virablalay III), the raja of Ma`bar, some twenty thousand Muslim soldiers served in the army of the Hindu raja.
The expansion of Muslim population in the southern regions of India resulted from several factors. The first element was the existence of opportunities for trade and commerce in the eastern and western coastal cities of the subcontinent, which attracted the Arab and Iranian people, from the shores of the Mediterranean and the Red Sea to the northern regions of Khurasan and Transoxiana, whose mingling with the native population, through commercial activities, marriage, etc., enabled them to break into the impenetrable communities of Hindus and Buddhists and, thus, to avail themselves of the opportunity to engage in the propagation of the Islamic faith among their new neighbors. The incessant religious strife between the Hindus, Buddhists and Jains, who had devoted themselves to the refutation of their religious rivals, on the one hand, and the extreme simplicity of Islamic practices and the clarity and rationality of the principles of Islamic faith, which were free of arcane superstitions and intricate myths, as opposed to the prevalent religions of India, on the other hand, resulted in a situation were peaceful efforts on the part of the Muslims in promoting their beliefs among various classes of the society met with the enthusiastic reception of free-thinking people, from various denominations, jaded with the polemics and factional strife which marked the religious atmosphere of the time. The two main groups most receptive to the Islamic message were, first, the Buddhists, who were the subject of relentless persecution by the ruling Brahman, and, second, the Shudras, the fourth and lowest of the traditional social classes of Hindu India, who were condemned to engage in the harshest and most degrading tasks.
Though, in the reign of Ashoka (3rd cen. AH / 9th cen. AD), Buddhism was the dominant creed throughout the subcontinent and the de facto official religion, it suffered decline in the succeeding periods, which saw the rise of Hindu rulers and dynasties. With the domination of the western parts of India by the Seleucids and, later, the Parthians and Kushans, the Buddhists of the central regions were attracted to these parts of the country, where they established their own centers and temples (vihara) throughout the region, from Sind and Punjab to Balkh, Bamiyan, Bukhara and Samarqand, and engaged in missionary activities. Beginning in the 2nd century AH (8th cen. AD), the region transformed into a major center of Buddhist activity. A number of Seleucid kings were Buddhists, such as Menandros (early 2nd cent. AH / 8th cen. AD), whose conversions with a Buddhist sage is collected in the famous book of Milinda Panha (The Questions of Milinda), among the most important works in the Buddhist canon. Many of the Kushan kings, such as Kanishka and Huvishka, were Buddhists. During the same period, Buddhism was promoted in China by Parthian Iranians. Reports by the Chinese traveler, Fa Hin, who visited the various parts of India in the 5th century AD, also indicate the expulsion of Buddhists from the eastern and central parts of the subcontinent, as well as the existence of a large number of their adherents and their temples in the cities of the west and northwestern regions. In the succeeding centuries, after the fall of the Kushans, Buddhism lost its official backing, so much so that, based on the stone inscription by Kartir, the propagation of Buddhist beliefs were outlawed during the reign of the Sasanids. In addition, according Hiun Tsang, the Chinese traveler of the 1st century AH (7th cen. AD), Shivaism, as a rival religion, had also gained in strength in the west and northwestern parts of the subcontinent. None the less, Buddhism continued its preeminence in these regions, especially in Balkh, Bamiyan and Bukhara; a fact borne out by Hiun Tsang’s report about the existence of one hundred Buddhist temples in Balkh and its environs.
With the advent of the Islamic conquests, Islam soon came to be the preeminent religion. It appears that the majority of the new converts consisted of the native Buddhists from various classes of the society who embraced the new religion over the first few centuries AH. The Iranian family of the Barmakids, who, for some half a century, held ministerial posts and vizierates in the caliphal administrations of, both, the Umayyads and the `Abbasids, and who played a crucial role in the consolidation of the foundations of the Islamic civilization, originally, belonged to these new Buddhist converts and enjoyed widespread respect in the city of Balkh, as the administrators of its Buddhist temple. The same applied to Sind, where, according to Baladhuri’s notes in Futuh al-buldan and those of the author of Chich Namah, upon the first introduction of Islam in the region, the Buddhists, referred to in the works of Muslim historians and writers as Saminah or Budhiyyah (as opposed to Barahimah), were among the first group, in this part of the subcontinent, to convert to Islam. They also cooperated with Muslims, both covertly and otherwise, in their efforts to break the power of Brahman and Hindu rulers. The absorption of the Buddhist population in the religious and cultural body of Islam was so thorough that, in the 5th century AH (11th cen. AD), when the Ghaznavid Mahmud marched against the western regions of India, he failed to encounter any Buddhist communities in Sind, Punjab or Gujarat. The same was true in the case of Aburayhan Biruni, who for years was a traveler in India, gathering material for his Tahqiq Mal al-Hind, on the religions and sciences of the people of India.
As was mentioned above, another factor contributing to the expansion of Muslim population in the southern regions of India was the spread of Islam among the lower classes of the Hindu society. The Shudra class, which made up a large majority of the Indian population of the country, originally comprised the native inhabitants of the region who had been subjugated by the invading Aryans and, thus, had failed to achieve a respectable position in the hierarchy of the Brahman society. In the eyes of the higher classes, they were considered as impure, and not only were they prohibited from entering temples and other places reserved for the upper classes, their encounter was frowned upon as inauspicious; a situation which undoubtedly deprived them of all human and societal rights and placed them in a position beneath that of a slave. It goes without saying that under such circumstances the idea of equality and brotherhood put forth by Islam held great attraction and left a deep impress on the souls of its interlocutors. To many of the deprived in the society, conversion to Islam was tantamount to finding a new life and regaining their human identity and social dignity. While Islam was being actively promoted in khanaqahs, mosques and schools, in various towns and villages, it was also spread through other channels, one of which was the comportment exhibited by Muslims and the high social status it had brought about for them. However, the most powerful factor, by far, was the expansion of the Islamic territory with its concomitant rise in Muslims’ political, military and economic power, which occasioned a higher degree of casual and commercial contacts between Muslims and peoples of other orientations, resulting in the spread of Islam among native populations. Clearly, such a state of affairs did leave its marks on the intellectual and social dimensions of the Hindu society as a whole, which, in turn, led to some reactions. The appearance of spiritual masters and religious leaders from among the non-Brahmans and the increasing opposition to the monopolization of religion and religious affairs within the Brahman class; the rise of sects and movements of Shiva and Vishnu worship, which opposed class prerogatives and advocated the employment of vernacular tongues, in place of Sanskrit, in the performance of religious rituals and recitation of prayers and songs; the increasing emotional tone assumed by religious songs and rituals; the triumph of the way of bhakti (pure devotion of heart) over the way of karma (performance of outward practices) in temples; the rising popularity of emotional songs, in native tongues, composed by Shiva and Vishnu worshipers (the Adyar and Alvar); the spread of monotheistic tendencies and the worship of Shiva and Vishnu as the sole God; and, finally, the rejection of the notion of reincarnation, the caste system, the cremation of the dead, and the worship of idols, all of which were among the common beliefs of the Hindus, were all developments resulting from the influence of Islamic beliefs on the Hindu community. A number of eminent Indologists have considered these new developments and movements in the intellectual and religious lives of Indians to have resulted from their interaction with Muslims. They have gone as far as underling the various degrees of influence exerted by the monotheistic ideas of Islam on such great Indian thinkers as Shankar-acharya (3rd cen. AH / 9th cen. AD), Ramanuja (6th cen. AH / 12th cen. AD), and Madhva (7th cen. AH / 13th cen. AD), all of whom hailed from the southern regions of the country. The development of the philosophical school of Vedanta, from the “absolute unity” (Advaite-Vedanta) of Shankar-acharya and the “attributed unity” (Visishtha-Advaita) of Ramanuja to the “dualism” (Dvaita-Advaita) of Madhva, has, in general, been in a direction approaching the monotheistic views of Islam.
The thrust of these intellectual and religious developments and movements, referred to as neo-bhatki, as we shall presently see, in the 6th – 9th centuries AH (12th – 15th cen. AD), when Islam began its northward expansion in the Indian subcontinent, spread from the south to the north and was transformed into a widespread and enduring movement.
Muslims living in the southern regions of India were mostly merchants engaged in commercial activities under Hindu rulers and, though, they had their own mosques and schools and there existed among them a large number of scholars and faqihs, they failed to produce any scientific, literary, or historical works of any significance. This is owing to the fact that the cities in these regions were controlled by rulers of Hindu affiliation, who provided no encouragement or support for cultural activities. As can be gathered from the contents of Rijal al-Sind wa ’l-Hind ila ’l-qarn al-sabi`, by Qadi Athar Mubarkpuri, during this period, those Muslim inhabitants of southern India who managed to excel in Islamic sciences and attained to a considerable level of scholarship soon migrated to the centers of learning outside India, such as those in Khurasan, Iraq, Hijaz, Yemen and Syria. None the less, the existence of Indian scholars in Baghdad and their transmission of Indian sciences, especially those on medicine, astronomy and mathematics, to the schools and other Muslim centers of learning, throughout the early centuries of the Islamic period, is an indication of the mutual nature of this cultural relationship.
As was mentioned above, the bulk of Muslim immigrants to the southern regions of India hailed from Arab territories and spoke the Arabic language, though, they also included many from Iran. In fact, it appears that the Persian language enjoyed widespread popularity, from early on. Ibn Battutah reports having encountered Persian names and expressions throughout his itinerary, from Deccan, Ma`bar and Malabar to Sarandib and, even, the islands of Java and Sumatra. In the village of Fatan, in Malabar, there was a tree, referred to by the local Muslims as the “Tree of Shahadah”, upon one of whose leaves appeared the word “shahadah”, every year. In this region, the term “budkhanah” implied a Hindu temple and “khanchih” and “buqshah” (buqchah) were used to indicate a tablecloth and a sack of clothes, respectively. The minister of an island in Maldives gave a slave girl to Ibn Battutah, by way of gift, whose name was Qul Istan (Qulistan) and who spoke Persian. In Ceylon, the king of the island conversed with Ibn Battutah in Persian (Ibid., p. 594), and the majority of the stations throughout the road to the location where Adam was said to have left a footprint (Qadamgah) had Persian names, e.g. Khurbuznah, Khurkhizan, Maqarah Baba Tahir, Maqarah Isfahani, Ghutah-gah `Arifan, and Darwazah al-Jabal. On the slopes of the mountain atop which was located the Qadamgah, there was a tree called “Darakht-i Rawan”. It appears that the memory of the visit to the island by Shaykh Abu `Abd Allah Khafif and his miracles were still alive in the minds of the people.
Beginning in the early 8th century AH (14th cen. AD), with the conquests of Khalji and Tughluq sultans, the southern parts of India fell gradually under the control of Islamic governments, a situation which afforded the Muslims of southern regions wider opportunities to establish contact with their coreligionists in the north as well as to play a more active role in the shaping of the Islamic civilization of the subcontinent. Therefore, henceforward, their social and cultural circumstances should be viewed against a different backdrop, one reflecting the political developments of Muslim governments throughout the Indian subcontinent. This is owing to the fact that from the 8th century AH onward, in spite of the variety of kingdoms and dynasties ruling over the region as well as the varied climatic and geographical conditions, the Islamic culture and civilization of all these lands, from Kashmir, Punjab and Bengal to the southern regions of Deccan and Maharashtra, was characterized by an overarching uniformity. The first widespread introduction of Islam in India began with the conquests of the Ghaznavid Sultan Mahmud in Punjab, Sind and Gujarat, and expanded with the transfer of the Ghaznavid seat of power from Ghaznah to Lahore. From the late 5th century AH (11th cen. AD) to the final days of the last Ghaznavid ruler, the city of Lahore remained one of the major centers of Persian literary activity and Islamic culture. The eminent mystic, `Ali b. `Uthman Hujwiri, the author of Kash al-Mahjub, the first important Persian work on Sufism, was a resident of the city in the early part of the period and was engaged in teaching at the mosque he had built there. Today, his tomb, known as the shrine of “Data Ganj Bakhsh”, is a place of pilgrimage. It is said that any Sufi entering India must first pay a visit to the shrine of the shaykh. Before Hujwiri, Shaykh Husayn Zanjani was the prominent Sufi master in the city, while Shaykh Islam`il Lahuri (d. 448 AH / 1056 AD) held lessons on fiqh, hadith and exegesis. In the same period, the Ghaznavid court was home to a large group of distinguished poets and men of letters, such as Nukati Lahuri, Abu ’l-`Ala’ `Ata’ b. Ya`qub Katib, known as Nakut, Mas`ud Sa`d Salman and Abu ’l-Faraj Runi, all of whom are considered among the pioneers of Persian poetry in the Indian subcontinent.
Henceforth, Islam, as a cultural and civilizing force, continued to expand from Lahore to the rest of the vast and variegated land of India, where, over the centuries, it mingled with the ancient cultural elements of the region. It continued its expansion during the reigns of the Ghuris (582 – 612 AH / 1186 – 1215 AD), the Mamluks (602 – 689 AH / 1206 – 1290 AD), the Khaljis (689 – 720 AH / 1290 – 1320 AD), the Tughluq (720 – 817 AH / 1320 – 1414 AD), the Sadat (817 – 855 AH / 1414 – 1451 AD), the Ludis (855 – 932 AH / 1415 – 1526 AD), and the Berbers (932 – 1274 AH / 1526 – 1858 AD), in Delhi, and the Muslim sultans of Gujarat (793 – 991 AH / 1391 – 1583 AD), Deccan (748 – 1098 AH / 1374 – 1687 AD), Kashmir (747 – 997 AH / 1346 – 1589 AD), and Bengal (739 – 984 AH / 1338 – 1576 AD).
Ever since the first introduction of Islam in India, there existed robust economic and cultural relations between the Muslims of the region and the peoples and governments of the western and central Asia. The synthesis, over the centuries, of what was brought into the country by immigrant Muslims and that which was created as a result of the effort of the native Muslim population was manifested in the form of the great civilization which reached its zenith in the 11th and 12th centuries AH (17th and 18th centuries AD), one which swept across a vast territory, from the slopes of the Himalayas to the shores of the Indian Ocean, in the east and the south.
Throughout the eight centuries of Islamic rule in India, the rules of statecraft and administration as well as the court etiquette mainly constituted of the same Samanid legacy inherited by the Ghaznavids and their succeeding dynasties. Thus, the ancient court traditions observed by various kings acted as the crucial factor in the preservation of a great number of elements of the Islamic culture. Court poetry and literature, decorative arts, historiography, and compilation of works on administrative affairs, military tactics and judicial process were all matters relating to the court. Architecture, masonry and other such industries and crafts were also dependent for their flourishing on the patronage of the people of wealth and position. At the same time, what most resonated with the populace and penetrated the innermost layers of the society were Sufi poetry and literature, knowledge gained at khanaqahs, and religious and ethical teachings communicated by Sufi masters at mosques, khanaqahs and assemblies of preaching and religious singing (qawwali), both in Persian and in various local dialects, which addressed the community at large and facilitated the conversion of vast numbers of rural and urban Hindus to Islam.
One of the most important and effective fields of Muslim intellectual and cultural activity was the Sufi literature, both poetry and prose, which came into being in the various cities and khanaqahs throughout India. Kashf al-mahjub, by `Ali b. `Uthman Hujwiri, composed in Lahore in the second half of the 5th century AH (11th cen. AD), is the first seminal work on Sufism in Persian language and one of the most important of the genre. The Islamic tasawwuf came to India from Khurasan and Iraq, in the 5th and 6th centuries AH, and served as a medium for communication of Indian Muslims with their coreligionists in other parts of the Islamic world. This led to the emulation of the styles of Sufi poets of Khurasan and Iraq in the mystical poetry and prose woks of Indian Muslims. Such works as Fawa’id al-fu’ad, by Amir Husayn Sijzi (8th cen. AH / 14th cen. AD), containing the words and sermons of Nizam al-Din Awliya; the Maktubat (letters) of Sayyid `Ali Hamadani, Sharaf al-Din Muniri, Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi, and other Sufi masters; Siyar al-awliya’ of Mir Khurd; Akhbar al-akhyar of Muhaddith Dihlawi; and the writings of Amir Khusru Dihlawi, Sayyid `Ali Hamadani, Muhammad Gisu Daraz, Prince Muhammad Dara Shukoh and Shah Wali Allah Dihlawi, in addition to making references to the lives and thoughts of eminent Sufis of various periods as well as to the conditions of khanaqahs and the mode of life in them, contain valuable social and historical information about India.
As was mentioned above, the focal point of Persian poetry and literature was the royal court, the bulk of whose poets, authors and men of letters, from the beginning up to the rise of the Babers, consisted of Persian-speaking immigrants, mainly, from Khurasan. Fadl Bukhara’i, Diya’ al-Din Sijzi, Siraji Khurasani, Muhammad Katib Balkhi, Khatir al-Din Jurjani, Muhammad `Awfi, Diya’ al-Din Nakhshabi, Badr al-Din Chachi, Muhammad Gawan Gilani, Adhari Tusi and a large number of other poets and authors, belonging to the courts of various sultans in Delhi, Sind, Kashmir and Deccan, were all immigrants from Iran. The only eminent personality of this group who was a native of India and who stayed there throughout the course of his life was the Persian-speaking poet, Amir Khusru Dihlawi; undoubtedly, one of the greatest literary stars in the history of Persian literature. The Persian poetry and literature of the period must be viewed as a de facto branch of the Persian literature prevalent in the various cities of Iran, one whose styles, techniques and themes were similar to the Persian literature produced in other parts of the Islamic world. Though, Amir Khusru never set foot outside of the Indian territory, in ghazal, he was a follower of Sa`di, Hafiz, `Iraqi and Attar, and his versified tales took after those of Nizami Ganjawi. There was little innovation in the works of these poets, an observation which may be extended to the poetry of Amir Khusru as well, whose metaphors and analogies are rather stereotypical. What is, none the less, original in the works of Amir Khusru and his colleagues from India is their local accent and the depiction of the lifestyles and customs of the native Indians.
In the period following the rise of the Babers (10th cen. AH / 16th cen. AD), especially after the accession of Humayun, the son and successor of Baber, who had escaped Shir Shah Suri and sought refuge with the Safavid Shah Tahmasp, who assisted him in regaining his throne with the aid of Iranian soldiers (962 AH / 1555 AD), there appeared a major change in the intellectual and cultural milieu of Islam in India, partly owing to the large group of Iranian poets, litterateurs, scientists, craftsmen and, even, government officials and soldiers who accompanied Humayun to India; a movement which continued right up to the end of Baber rule, in the mid 13th century AH (19th cen. AD).
Humayun died one year after his return to India and was succeeded by his son, Akbar Shah (963 – 1014 AH / 1556 – 1605 AD). Soon, Kabul, Kandahar, Kashmir, up to Gujarat, Rajasthan, Bengal, Behar and parts of Deccan were made parts of the Baber dominion. The fifty-year reign of Akbar Shah was a time of complete consolidation of the Islamic rule in the Indian subcontinent. The institutions established during his rule endured for some two and a half centuries. During the reigns of Akbar Shah, Jahangir and Shah Jahan, the court of Delhi was one of the greatest centers of cultural activity of the time, where particular emphasis was placed on various sciences, crafts, and Indian lore, and where native Indian scholars and artisans flourished under the patronage of the Indian kings. According to Abu ’l-Fadl `Alami, the vizier of Akbar Shah, based on the thirtieth rule contained in the book of The Akbari Code (A’in Akbari), a group of some 250 scientists, poets, sages, mystics and musicians were in permanent residence at the court. `Abd al-Qadir Bada’uni, the third volume of whose Muntakhab al-tawarikh is devoted to the accounts of the eminent poets, litterateurs, mystics and scientists of Akbar’s court, reports their number as having been closer to 290. It is noteworthy that the majority of these were native Hindus.
The Persian poetry of the period had undergone a major change, with the so-called “Indian Style” as the predominant method. Though, many of the characteristics of this particular style of poetry first appeared in Iran, in the 10th century AH (16th cen. AD), in the works of the likes of Baba Faghani (d. 925 AH / 1519 AD), Umidi Tihrani (d. 925 AH / 1519 AD), and Hilali Jughata’i (d. 936 AH / 1529 AD), it came into prominence in India, in the 11th and 12th centuries AH (17th and 18th centuries AD), where it was brought to culmination by such poets as `Urfi (d. 999 AH / 1590 AD), Talib (d. 1039 AH / 1626 AD), Zuhuri (d. 1025 AH / 1616 AD), Kalim (d. 1061 AH / 1650 AD), Sa’ib (d. 1081 AH / 1670 AD), Ghani Kashmiri (d. 1077 AH / 1666 AD), and Bidil (d. 1133 AH / 1720 AD). Though, the “Indian Style” had come to predominate the works of Persian-speaking poets of the subcontinent and had become the favorite genre for the community of poetry lovers, there were Indian poets, such as Fayz, Ghalib and Iqbal who did not confine themselves to the imaginative aspects of the Indian Style and paid particular attention to the methods of earlier masters. The last Persian-speaking poet of the subcontinent was Muhammad Iqbal Lahuri (d. 1357 AH / 1938 AD), who succeeded in conveying the most precise thoughts through the medium of Persian poetry. In addition to the elaboration of fresh ideas, Iqbal managed to give new forms to the traditional structures of Persian poetry.
In the 6th century AH (12th cen. AD), Persian prose began to expand from Ghazna to Lahore, Multan and Delhi and on to other centers of Islamic culture. Owing to its being the language of the court and administration, it continued to infiltrate the various strata of the society, spreading among the new native converts to Islam as well as the non-Muslims. The first Persian writers of these regions were made up of Persian-speaking immigrants who had entered the courts of Ghuri, Khalji and Tughluq sultans. This movement was especially pronounced in the period following the Mongol invasion of central Asia and Khurasan, when groups of scientists, men of letters, mystics and artists migrated from these regions to the secure and flourishing regions in the north and northwest of the subcontinent, where Muslim rulers had created a stable atmosphere of economic prosperity. Thus, in addition to court poetry and prose, a great deal of the cultural heritage of the Islamic world was transmitted to these territories, where it found a fertile ground to enter a new phase of growth and development.
In the early decades of the 7th century AH (13th cen. AD), a number of scientists and men of letters from Multan and Sind joined the court of Nasir al-Din Qubachah (d. 624 AH / 1227 AD). His vizier, `Ayn al-Malik Ash`ari, was a patron of arts and sciences who expended great effort in providing support to artists and men of knowledge. Sadid al-Din Muhammad `Awfi, who, at the time, was a resident of Multan, dedicated his Lubab al-albab, the first important work on the biographies of Iranian poets and men of letters, to `Ayn al-Malik Ash`ari. Qadi Minhaj al-Din embarked on the composition of his Tarikh-i Tabaqat-i Nasiri while a resident at the court of Nasir al-Din Qubachah. In 624 AH, Iltutmush defeated Nasir al-Din Qubachah and annexed Sind and Multan to the kingdom of Delhi. Iltutmush, on his part, was a patron of literature. Fakhr Mudabbir composed his Adab al-harb wa ’l-shaja`ah, on statecraft and tactics and rules of war and one of the most important Persian works of its kinds, during the reign of this sultan. Ghazzali’s Ihya’ al-`Ulum was translated into Persian by Mu’ayyad al-Din Muhammad Khwarzami at the behest of Iltutmush’s vizier, Abu Sa`d Muhammad Junaydi. Muhammad `Awfi dedicated his Jawami` al-hikayat to the Indian sultan. Nizam al-Din Hasan Nizami – the son of Nizami `Arudi, the author of Chahar Maqalah – is among the great historians of the period, whose Taj al-ma’athir is among the major histories of the region in the 6th and 7th centuries AH.
Prose writing in the scientific and literary centers of the subcontinent made considerable progress, in terms of its historical as well as cultural dimensions. The historical accounts of the region in the period of the 2nd to the 13th centuries AH (8th – 19th centuries AD), a span of over a thousand years, is mainly provided by travelers from the outside or by Muslim historians and geographers. India, with its long history of religious and artistic achievement, is bereft of a serious tradition of historiography. Such works as the Mahabharata, Ramayana and the Puranas are all religious epics and myths, with no basis in history and no utility for the reconstruction of the history of the country. And assuming there existed a court tradition of compiling chronicles containing records of major events and military conquests, there remains nothing of it but a number of scattered stone inscriptions on the walls of temples and other locations, records of dedications and endowments by local rulers of a temple or some other sacred place, and references to a particular king in the introduction to a book or a play. Such accounts are mainly marred by the poet’s or the author’s admixture of reality and myth, where the exalted king is made into a mythical god or hero, with no reference to the historical time or place. There exist a few quasi-historical works in verse, such as Harsa Carita, containing the record of the conquests of Harsa, the king of Qunuj (7th cen. AH), and Vikrama-Vijaya, which depicts the exploits of Vikrama Aditya, the legendary king of the Calukya dynasty, whose first chapter contains the accounts of the other rulers of the dynasty. All these collections are similar in their eulogistic orientation. Their authors appear to have cared very little with regard to providing information about the chronology or the geographical details of the events, a fact that renders their works useless for anyone keen on gaining knowledge about the historical, social, and cultural conditions of the period. On the other hand, Muslims, from the early days of their arrival in the western and southern parts of the subcontinent, engaged in gathering information about the natural and geographical conditions of the region, as well as about the social and economic circumstances of its inhabitants. In the 2nd and 3rd centuries AH (8th and 9th centuries AD), Muslim travelers, merchants and geographers began recording their observations in books, composed in Arabic, dealing with the climatic characteristics of various regions as well as with the lifestyles and religious and social customs of their rural and urban populations. There were also those who concentrated on works which recorded the reports and eyewitness accounts of other people.
Among the pioneers of the latter genre, mention may be made of the following authors, whose works contain a wealth of information about matters relating to Sind and India: Ibn Ishaq (d. 151 AH / 768 AD), the author of al-Khulafa’, al-Sirah, al-Mubtada’ and al-Maghazi; Hisham Kalbi (d. 206 AH / 821 AD), the author of several works, including al-Buldan al-kabir, Kitab al-Buldan al-saghir, al-Aqalim, and al-Tarikh wa akhbar al-khulafa’, Abu ’l-Hasan Mada’ini (d. 225 AH / 840 AD), the author of Thaghr al-Hind and `Ummal al-Hind; and Abu `Abd Allah Jayhani (d. 306 AH / 918 AD), the vizier of Amir Nasr Samani, and the author of Kitab al-Masalik wa ’l-mamalik. Not a single one of these works is extant. However, a great deal of their contents is preserved in the works of the historians of the 3rd and 4th centuries AH (9th and 10th centuries AD), such as the first history of Sind, whose Persian translation has survived under the name of Chach Namah, Futuh al-buldan of Baladhuri, al-Buldan of Ibn Faqih Hamadani, al-A`laq al-nafisah of Ibn Rustah, al-Masalik wa ’l-mamalik of Ibn Khurdadbih, and several other historical and geographical works which have come down to us.
What has been written in Arabic about the period by Muslim travelers and historians is mainly based on firsthand observations and, in some cases, on the reports of travelers and fellow historians about what they had seen or heard. These works are of key significance in terns of providing information about the history of the subcontinent during the medieval period, especially the 1st to the 5th centuries AH (7th to 11th centuries AD), when historiography in Persian by court scholars and those in major cities was yet to be initiated. The importance of these works lies in their depictions of the social, political, economic and cultural aspects of a major part of the civilized world of the day.
The most important of these works include the following. Futuh al-buldan, by Baladhuri (d. 279 AH / 892 AD), is the most authentic work on the history of the Islamic conquests in Sind and Multan, and is based on the reports of Hisham Kalbi and Mada’ini. Silsilat al-tawarikh, by Sulayman Tajir, was composed in 237 AH (851 AD), and also includes the accounts of Abu Zayd Sirafi. It contains the eyewitness reports of these two Muslim merchants about the ports and cities in India’s coastal and interior regions, as well as the social customs and rituals of their inhabitants, their food and clothing, and their livelihood. Akhbar al-Sin wa ’l-Hind, by an unknown author, was composed in 237 AH. It contains information on the customs and rituals as well as the lifestyles of the people of China and India. Al-Masalik wa ’l-mamalik, by Ibn Khurdadbih (early 3rd cen. AH / 9th cen. AD), includes detailed geographic information and descriptions of cities and their distances from one another. It is mainly based on the book of Masalik wa ’l-mamalik by Jayhani. The History of Ya`qubi (d. 284 AH), is a collection of geographical reports and useful information on the science and culture of the Indians, as well as reports on such matters as the invention of backgammon and chess and their secret meanings. It also contains lists of Indian works on astronomy, mathematics and medicine, similar to the writings of later periods, such as those of Ibn Nadim and Qifti. Al-Buldan of Ibn Faqih Hamadani (late 3rd cen. AH) is devoted to the descriptions of Indian cities and their distances from one another, and the prevalent rites and customs of the people and their comparison to those of the inhabitants of China and Iran. According to Ibn Nadim, the work is, on the whole, adopted from Masalik wa ’l-mamalik of Jayhani. Al-A`laq al-nafisah, by Ibn Rustah, contains information about the rites and customs of the Indians, and descriptions of a number of temples as well as commercial goods, and is based on the works of earlier authors. `Aja’ib al-Hind is a record of the marvels seen and heard by Buzurg b. Shahryar, the Iranian navigator, who visited the islands, ports and coastal cities of India and other locales up to China and its surrounding areas, in the early 4th century AH (10th cen. AD). Muruj al-dhahab is the fruit of the travels of its author, Mas`udi, in the southern and western regions of India, in the early decades of the 4th century AH, and contains valuable data on the climatic and geographical conditions of these areas, the mode of livelihood of the urban populations, descriptions of temples, and sundry observations on the social and historical aspects of the country. Masalik al-mamalik, by Istakhri, and Ahsan al-taqasim, by Muqaddasi, were both composed in the second half of the 4th century AH, and deal with the geography, industry, trade and agriculture of India. The renowned book of al-Fihrist, by Ibn Nadim, composed in 377 AH (987 AD), deals, in its various chapters, with such topics as the country’s religions, beliefs, temples, gods, writings and scripts, names of scientists, astronomers and physicians, and books translated into Arabic. Tabaqat al-umam, by Qadi Sa`id Andalusi (d. 462 AH / 1070 AD), discusses Indian medicine and astronomy, as well as a number of related works.
Here, mention should also be made of the book of Nuzhat al-mushtaq fi ikhtiraq al-afaq, by Sharif Idrisi (d. 560 Ah / 1165 AD), the Muslim historian and man of letters from Sicily, whose work is a general history and geography of the world. Parts eight, nine and ten of the first clime, and seven and eight of the second clime are devoted to the geography of India. The account of each region contains descriptions of its rites and customs, as well as industry and products. Though, the book is heavily indebted to the works earlier authors, it contains information from sources no longer in existence, as well as the reports presented to the author by travelers and others.
The above works are the most important historical and geographical writings about the Indian subcontinent in Arabic, which constitute the foundation for the historiography of the region in the 1st to the 5th centuries AH (7th to 11th centuries AD), the period before the advent of Islamic governments. However, the most comprehensive and fundamental work on the history of the culture, sciences and religions of India, and one of the greatest scientific and historical works of all time, is Tahqiq mal al-Hind, by Abu Rayhan Biruni, written in Arabic in around 421 AH (1031 AD). It is the result of the research and observations carried out by the author in the western cities of the subcontinent, as well as his study of the Indian scientific and religious works in Sanskrit. In fact, it continues to serve as an indispensable source for any modern researcher working on the history of Indian science and culture.
Indian historiography in Persian began in the subcontinent in the early part of the 7th century AH (13th cen. AD), during the reigns of the Ghuris and the Mamluks in Delhi. The first work of this genre was the Persian translation of an Arabic book about the history of Sind and the Muslim conquests in the region, written in the early 3rd century AH. The Arabic original is no longer extant, but there exists a Persian translation of it, under the title of The Fath Namah of Sind or Chach Namah, written in 613 AH, by `Ali b. Hamid Kufi, a secretary at the court of Nasir al-Din Qubachah, in Uchchih, in Sind. The book is the most authentic and extensive work on the history of the Muslim conquests in the region and a source for all the later writings about the history of Sind and the advent of the Muslims. The second Persian work on the history of India is Taj al-ma’athir, by Nizam al-Din Hasan Nizami Niyshaburi, the son of Nizami `Arudi, which records the events of the reigns of Qutb al-Din Ibak (602 – 607 AH / 1206 – 1210 AD) and Shams al-Din Iltutmush (607 – 633 AH / 1210 – 1236 AD). In addition to these works, mention should be made of the general history of Tabaqat-i Nasiri, by Minhaj Siraj Jawzjani, written in 658 AH (1260 AD) and dedicated to Iltutmush’s son, Nasir al-Din Mahmud. The importance of the last two works lies in the eyewitness accounts of their authors regarding the events of the early days of the Delhi kingdom.
Amir Khusru Dihlawi (651 – 725 AH / 1253 – 1325 AD), though the greatest Persian-speaking poet of the subcontinent, has also composed works with important historical content. This is owing to the fact that he was on intimate terms with several sultans of Delhi and enjoyed a high status in their courts, including the Khalji Jalal al-Din, `Ala’ al-Din and Qutb al-Din, and the Tughluq Ghiyath al-Din. His Miftah al-futuh is an account of the conquests of Jalal al-Din Khalji, and his Khaza’in al-Futuh, or Tarikh-i `Ala’i (in prose), is devoted to the events of the reign of `Ala’ al-Din Khalji, including his invasion of the southern regions of India and the conquests of his commander, Malik Kafur, in Deccan. In his versified collection of Nuh Sipihr, Amir Khusru depicts the victories of Qutb al-Din Mubarak Shah Khalji (718 AH / 1318 AD), in his Qaran al-sa`dayn, he describes the meeting between Bughra Khan, the ruler of Bengal, and Mu`izz al-Din Kayqubad (688 AH / 1289 AD), and in his Tughluq Namah, he recounts the events of his time up to the accession of Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq (720 AH / 1320 AD).
A number of important historical and geographical works, in Persian and Arabic, were composed during the reign of the Tughluqs, which shed light on the social and economic conditions of India during this period. Tarikh-i Firuzshahi, by Diya’ al-Din Barani (759 AH / 1358 AD), is a continuation of Tabaqat-i Nasiri, which discusses the reign of Ghiyath al-Din Balban (664 – 686 AH / 1266 – 1287 AD) up to the end of the rule of Muhammad Tughluq (reigned 752 AH), and the first six years of the government of Firuz Shah (reigned 752 – 790 AH). Soon, the rest of the years of Firuz Shah’s reign were covered in a book of the same title (Tarikh-i Firuzshahi) by Shams Siraj `Afif.
During the reigns of the Sadat (817 – 855 AH / 1414 – 1451 AD) and the Ludi (855 – 933 AH / 1451 – 1526 AD) dynasties, there also appeared works dealing with the events of the time. However, the detailed accounts of the last rulers of Delhi were recorded in general and local histories composed in the reign of the Babers. To this period belong two important works in Arabic, which are among the primary sources for research into the history and social conditions of India in the 7th and 8th centuries AH (13th and 14th centuries AD). The first, Masalik al-absar fi mamalik al-amsar, by Ibn Fadl Allah `Umari Dimashqi (d. 749 AH / 1349 AD), is a work on the geography of the world and includes a great deal of information on the northern parts of the Indian subcontinent, gleaned from a wide variety of sources. The useful data on the natural and geographical conditions of India, as well as the rites and customs of its people, presented in the fifth volume of Subh al-a`sha of Qalqashandi (d. 821 AH / 1418 AD) is, on the whole, adopted from Dimshaqi’s book. The second work is the Rihlah of Ibn Battutah, the Moroccan world traveler, who spent several years visiting various Indian cities during the reign of Muhammad Tughluq. The result of his observations was gathered in a book titled Tuhfat al-nazar fi ghra’ib al-amsar wa `aja’ib al-asfar, one of the seminal works on the history of the period.
The foundations of historiography in India were laid during this period. Beginning in the 8th century AH (14th cen. AD), with the expansion of Islam in the north, east, and south and the establishment of Muslim governments in Bengal, Kashmir, Gujarat and Deccan, the courts of their sultans became great magnates for the attraction of large groups of artists and artisans as well as scientists, poets and men of letters. During the reign of the Babers – from Baber, Humayun and Akbar to the last sultans of the dynasty – Delhi and Agra continued to remain the most important foci of Islamic culture, where a vast body of scholarship was produced, such as historical works including Humayun Namah, Habib al-siyar, Tarikh-i Alfi, Akbar Namah, Tabaqat-i Akbari, A’in-i Akbari, Muntakhab al-tawarikh, Iqbal Namah, Ma’athir-i Jahangiri, Padishah Namah, Shah Jahan Namah, `Alamgir Namah, and Ma’athir-i `Alamgiri and several other works in the form of world histories or the chronicles of the reigns of Babers and other rulers of the region. The writing of history had also come into prominence in other regions. This included such works as Futuh al-salatin of `Asami (composed 751 AH / 1350 AD), Bahman Namah of Adhari Tusi (d. 866 AH / 1462 AD), both in verse and styled after the Shah Namah of Firdawsi, the general history of Gulshan-i Ibrahimi, known as Tarikh-i Firishtah, by Qasim Firishtah (composed 1015 AH / 1606 AD), and Burhan-i Ma’athir of Sayyid `Ali Tabataba’ (composed 1000 AH / 1004 AD), in Deccan; Tarikh-i Ma`sumi of Mir Ma`sum, with the penname of Nami (composed circa 1001 AH), Tarikh-i Tahiri of Mir Tahir Muhammad Nisyani (composed 1030 AH), and Tuhfat al-kiram of Mir `Alishir Qani` (composed 1181 AH / 1767 AD), in Sind; Mir’at-i Ahmadi of `Ali Muhammad Khan (1175 AH), Tarikh-i Gujarat of Mir Abu Turab Wali (composed 1151 AH), and Zafar al-walih bi Muzaffar wa alih, in Arabic, by Muhammad b. `Umar Makki, known as Hajji Dabir (circa 1020 AH), in Gujarat; the history of Riyad al-salatin of Ghulam Husayn Salim (composed 1202 AH), in Bengal; and the Persian translation of Raj Turnigini, Tarikh-i Rashidi of Mirza Wahid Dughlat (composed 985 AH), and Tarikh-i Kashmir of Haydar Malik (composed 1030 AH), in Kashmir.
As can be gathered, the tradition of historiography was initiated in the subcontinent with the coming of the Muslims, and for the next one thousand years, i.e. from the early 2nd century AH (8th cen. AD) to the end of the Muslim rule in India in the mid 13th century AH (19th cen. AD), the history of this vast territory was mainly compiled by Muslim authors, writing in Persian and Arabic. Undoubtedly, the Muslim courts of this period were the most active centers of historiography in the entire Islamic world, and the native or non-Muslim authors who embarked on compilation of historical works mainly followed in the footsteps of the Muslim historians of the earlier days.
Apart from serving as a vehicle for the creation of literary works, in verse and prose, and historical accounts, the Persian language also contributed to the intellectual and cultural life of the subcontinent through acting as a medium in the writing of biographies, dictionaries, epistles and other forms of literary creation. Among the most important biographies devoted to Persian-speaking poets and men of letters are Lubb al-lubab of `Awfi (composed circa 625 AH / 128 AD), Haft Iqlim of Amin Ahmad Razi (composed circa 1002 AH / 1594 AD), Khulasat al-ash`ar of Taqi al-Din Kashi (composed circa 1016 AH), `Arafat al-`ashiqin of Taqi al-Din Awhadi (composed circa 1025 AH), Mir’at al-khiyal of Shir Khan Ludi (composed 1102 AH), Safinah-yi Khushgu of Bandar b. Das Khushgu (composed circa 1150 AH), Khazanah-yi `Amirah of Azad Balgarami (composed 1176 AH), and Majma` al-nafa’is of Siraj al-Din `Ali Khan Arizu (composed 1164 AH). These and several other similar works composed in the region contain accounts of the lives and specimens of poetry of Persian-speaking poets from the time of the advent of Dari poetry and literature. Among the important examples of this genre is the well known Majalis al-mu’minin of Qadi Nur Allah Shushtari (d. 1019 AH / 1610 AD), composed between the years 998 and 1010 AH, which contains the biographies and samples of poetry of a number of Muslim scientists, poets and authors. In addition to these general works, there exist biographies devoted to the Persian poetry and literature of a particular period or region which has been composed in the past few centuries and which indicate the popularity and significance of Persian language and the Islamic culture of Iran throughout the subcontinent, and their influence over the thought and spirit of the inhabitants of the region. From the point of view of the history of Persian poetry and literature, these biographical works are of special significance to the Persian-speaking regions throughout the world and constitute an indispensable source for the researchers of the subject.
A large body of dictionaries and linguistic works were created by the Persian-speaking or Persian-literate scholars of the subcontinent. Iranians also excelled in the composition of Arabic dictionaries and works on Arabic grammar and poetic techniques, with the most seminal works of the genre belonging to them. Until recently, the most comprehensive Persian dictionaries were compiled by the scholars of India.
The first Persian dictionary compiled in the region was that of Qawwas, dating from the reign of `Ala’ al-Din Muhammad Shah Khalji (695 – 715 AH). Its author, Fakhr al-Din Mubarak Shah Ghaznawi, known as Qawwas, has followed the method of Asadi Tusi in the arrangement of the entries, be it in a more comprehensive manner. By the 10th century AH (16th cen. AD), there had appeared a number of Persian dictionaries, such Adat al-fudala’ of Qadi Badr al-Din Dihlawi (composed 822 AH), Sharaf Namah of Shaykh Ibrahim Qawam Faruqi (composed 877 AH), and Mu’ayyid al-fudala’ of Muhammad b. Lad Lahuri (composed 925 AH), which constituted the foundation for the compilation of similar works of grander scale in the coming centuries. These include Kashf al-lughat of `Abd al-Karim Bihari (10th cen. AH), Madar al-fadil of Allah Dad Faydi (composed 1001 AH), Farhang-i Jahangiri of Jamal al-Din Husayn Inju (composed 1017 AH), Burhan-i Qati` of Muhammad Husayn b. Khalaf Tabrizi (composed 1062 AH), Farhang-i Rashidi of `Abd al-Rashid Tatawi (composed 1064 AH), Siraj al-lughat and Chiraq-i Hidayat of Siraj al-Din `Ali Khan Arizu (composed 1147 AH), Mir’at al-istilah of Ananda Ram Mukhlis (composed 1158 AH), Bahar-i `Ajam (composed 1162 AH) and Nawadir al-masadir (composed 1166 AH) of Tikchand Bahar, Mustalah al-shu`ara’ of Warastih Siyalkuti (composed 1180 AH), Haft Qulzum of Ghazi al-Din Haydar, the king of Ud (composed 1229 AH), Ghiyath al-lughat of Muhammad Ghiyath al-Din (composed 1242 AH), Farhang-i Anandraj of Muhammad Padishah (composed 1306 AH), Asif al-lughat of Nawwab `Aziz Jang Bahadur (composed 1325 – 1358 AH), and Farhang-i Nizam of Muhammad `Ali Da`i al-Islam (composed 1346 – 1358 AH).
In addition to Persian dictionaries, much serious effort was expended in the area of compilation of Persian-Arabic dictionaries. Some of the most important works of the genre, such as the translation and commentary of the Qamus of Firuzabadi, Muntakhab al-Lughat-i Shah Jahani, and the well known Muntahi ila Rabb were compiled by the scholars residing in the various cities of the subcontinent.
The composition of letters, documents and state papers was another area in which the Persian language held a prominent place, one common to the court of sultans and local rulers as well as to the circles of Sufis and men of science. There exist several works devoted to the art of composition (insha’), dating from the 8th and 9th centuries AH and up to the recent times, as well as collections of court letters and other official documents, and the writings of Sufis and mystics, a large of part of which has appeared in publication. The principles and methods of the art of composition and letter-writing in the subcontinent were in fact a continuation of the techniques which first made their appearance in Iran, and those involved in such pursuits emulated the style of Persian-speaking Iranian masters. However, during the reign of the Babers, in the north, and the sultans of Deccan, there appeared a particular epistolary style which diverged from the previous practice; one whose ornate style and employment of exotic metaphors rendered it less accessible and more difficult to comprehend. In later periods, the advent of composition and letter-writing in Urdu, together with the popularization of western styles of writing, resulted in a movement toward simplicity and clarity of expression.
Composition in Arabic verse and prose made its first appearance on the Indian scene at the time of the arrival of Islam in Sind and the southern regions of India through the agency of Arabs who made up the first wave of conquerors and immigrants who later took up residence in the country. The use of Arabic language continued in the works of such poets as Abu `Ala’ Sindi, Abu Dal` Sindi and Abu Kashajam Sindi and endured until recently in the cities of the northern and southern India. There also appeared many important works on Arabic lexicography compiled by Indian scholars. Several important works survive by Radi al-Din Saghani (d. 650 AH / 1252 AD), the renowned linguist and man of letters from Lahore. These include al-Taklimah wa ’l-dhiyl al-silah, a companion to the Sihah of Jawhari, Majma` al-bahrayn and al-`Ubab, all three of which are works of extreme value. The extensive and well known dictionary of Taj al-`arus, which is a voluminous companion to the Qmus of Firuzabadi, was complied by Murtada Zubaydi Biligrami (d. 1205 – 1791). He was born in Biligram were he received his preliminary education. Later he went to Delhi, where he was educated in religious sciences by Shah Wali Allah Dihlawi. In 1163, he embarked on a journey to Arabic countries. In addition to writings on lexicography produced in India, there appeared Arabic works on other subjects, some of which are among the most authentic sources of reference. These include the well known Kashshaf istilahat al-funun of Muhammad Tahanawi (d. circa 1158 AH), and the extensive biographical dictionary of Nuzhat al-khawatir of `Abd al-Hayy b. Fakhr al-Din Hasani (d. 1341 AH), which contains the accounts of lives and works of India’s scientists and men of letters.
In the field of religious sciences, such as fiqh, exegesis and principles of faith, the Muslim scholars of India, from the 8th century AH onward, looked to the authentic works on these subjects written by their colleagues in other parts of the Islamic world. Abu Bakr Multani (died after 736 AH / 1336 AD) produced summaries of Ghazzali’s Jawahir al-Qur’an and his Ihya’ al-`ulum under the titles of Khulasah jawahir al-Qur’an and Khulasah al-ahkam bi shart al-iman wa ’l-Islam. His Kitab al-Hajj wa ’l-manasik is written based on the principles of the Hanafite fiqh. Tabsir al-rahman wa taysir al-manan fi tafsir al-Qur’an of `Ali b. Ahmad Maha’imi (d. 835 AH / 1432 AD) is compiled after the style of Tafsir Jalalayn. He also wrote his Fiqh Makhdumi in accordance with the tenets of the Shafi`ite fiqh. `Ali Muttaqi Burhanpuri (d. 973 AH / 1565 AD) wrote his Shu’un al-munzalat on the occasions of revelation of the Qur’anic verses. His Kanz al-`ammal is devoted to hadith. Other important works of the genre include al-Tafsir al-Muhammadi of Shaykh Muhammad b. Ahmad Gujarati (d. 982 AH / 1574 AD), and Tarjumat al-Qur’an of Shaykh Muhibb Allah Allahabadi (d. 1058 AH / 1648 AD), which is a mystical commentary on the Qur’an based on ontological tawhid as depicted in the works of Ibn al-`Arabi. The Qur’anic commentary of Faydi Dakani, titled Sawati` al-alham, is composed of Arabic letters with no dots (muhmalah). Al-Tafsirat al-Ahmadiyyah, by Shaykh Ahmad Siddiqi, known as Maljiyun (d. 1130 AH / 1718 AD), is a collection of Qur’anic verses which constitute the basis for shar`i rules. Fath al-khaybar bi-ma la budd min hifzahu fi `ilm al-tafsir, by Shah Wali Allah Dihlawi, which comprises of a part of his al-Fawz al-kabir fi usul al-tafsir, is a collection of hadiths referred to in commenting on the Qur’an. Tafsir-i Mazhari was composed by Qadi Thana’ Allah Panipati (d. 1225 AH / 1810 AD) and is dedicated to his shaykh, Mirza Mazhar Jan-i Janan. Sayyid Ahmad Khan also wrote a commentary on the Holy Qur’an, titled al-Tahrir fi usul al-tafsir, based on his particular intellectual and theological outlook. Tarjuman al-Qur’an, by Abu ’l-Kalam Azad, is a commentary that attempts to harmonize the intellectual outlook of the Muslims of the modern world with the fundamental principles of Islamic faith.
The Muslims of the subcontinent were also active in the production of works on such subjects as medicine, mathematics and astronomy. Similar to the early centuries AH, when Indian scholars served as a medium for the transmission of the sciences of their land to the other parts of the world, during the period of Islamic rule, Muslim immigrants reciprocated by acting as intermediaries linking the schools in various Islamic countries to the Indian centers of learning. The occurrence of Arabic astronomical terminology in the works of Indian astronomers, in their Sanskrit forms, is an indication of the fact that the sciences of the Muslims had infiltrated Indian scientific circles. In architecture, painting, calligraphy, illumination and other branches, Muslims artists and artisans established a link between India and Islamic countries. From its early days, the Islamic architecture of the subcontinent exhibited an admixture of Islamic art with local elements, as can be seen in Quwwat al-Islam Mosque and Qutb Minar, near Delhi. This synthesis continued to evolve, especially in the period following the return of Humayun from Iran and the advent of the government of the Babers and the consequent migration of groups of Iranian craftsmen to Delhi and other major Indian cities. The movement reached its culmination in such architectural masterpieces as the mausoleum of Humayun, in Delhi, and Taj Mahal, in Agra, the Jami` Mosque and the mausoleum of Shah Thani in Bijapur, and the Chahar Minar, and the Mecca and Jami` mosques, in Haydarabad, Deccan. The manifestations of this harmonious synthesis is also detectable in many Hindu temples.
In music, the mingling of Indian elements with the songs and melodies of the Muslim immigrants contributed to the enrichment and expansion of scope of this art form. Sama` ceremonies held at Sufi khanaqahs, assemblies of qawwali, and other forms of religious gathering, with music as their concomitant, made further contributions to the growth and development of Indian music. The names of several musical instruments, such as rubab (viol, rebec), surud, tawus (viol), dilruba, sitar, tambur (long-necked lute), tablah (drum) and shahnay (horn), betray their Iranian origin as well as the musical influence from other Islamic countries. Amir Khusru Dihlawi, the renowned poet and man of letters of the 7th and 8th centuries AH, was a musical expert who greatly contributed to the development of Indian music through the synthesis of Indian and Iranian melodies. In fact, he added a number of new melodies and modes (sing. maqam) to the repertoire of native Indian music, such as `ushshaq, muwafiq, qawl, taranah and khiyal. It is said that he invented sitar by perfecting the Indian vina and the Iranian tambur. He was also instrumental in the popularization of qawwali. The Baber kings, from Baber and Humayun to Awrangzib and his successors, were all patrons of the arts, many of whom dabbled in painting and poetry. Thus, in the 10th – 13th centuries AH (16th – 19th centuries AD), various types of arts, from calligraphy and illumination to painting and architecture flourished in Delhi and Punjab and, in consequence, in Deccan, Kashmir, Gujarat and Bengal. Owing to the fact that during these centuries, especially in the Safavid period, Iran and India enjoyed close and comprehensive relations, groups of Iranian artists and artisans migrated to major cities in India and took up residence at the courts of Delhi and Deccan. As a result, the combination of the forms and elements of Iranian and Indian artistic traditions led to the creation of works in all branches of the arts, which while eclectic, none the less, were imparted with their own sense of individuality; the examples of which are visible in museums and private art collections in the west and the subcontinent. According to the report by Abu ’l-Fadl `Alami, the vizier of Akbar Shah, there existed over one hundred workshops of various industries in the surrounding areas of the royal palace and its auxiliary buildings.
One of the most important consequences of Islam’s introduction in the Indian subcontinent was that it laid the groundwork for the growth and development of local languages and the rise of written literature in such tongues as Kashmiri, Punjabi and Bengali; a movement that, by and large, was encouraged by Muslim rulers. In addition, as a result of the interaction of indigenous people with state institutions and their staff and officials, a large body of Persian and Arabic terms and expressions were assimilated into local languages and contributed to the expansion of their vocabulary and overall efficacy. This, in turn, led to the appearance, in areas under Muslim rule, throughout the subcontinent, of a new language which, in time, spread among the immigrant as well as the indigenous populations; one which came to serve as a vehicle for mutual understanding and more amicable relations between the Muslim and non-Muslim inhabitants of these areas. This language, which was originally referred to as Hindawi or Rikhtah, but later came to be known as Urdu or Hindustani, became the common language of the Muslims of the subcontinent. Beginning in the 11th century AH, this new language served as a medium for the creation of a rich body of literary works, both in verse and prose, which, in the first two hundred years, moved along the lines of development of Persian literature, but, later, continued its evolution in an independent direction, in line with the thoughts and proclivities of the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent. In the past three hundred years a large corpus of works has been produced in this language, spanning the field of science and literature as well as exegesis, fiqh, hadith, and other Islamic sciences. Throughout the years of struggle for Indian independence, the Urdu language continued to gain in strength and effectiveness and played a decisive role in the consolidation of the religious and national identity of the Muslims of the region.
As was mentioned above, ever since its first appearance on Indian soil, Islam made its strongest appeal to the deprived classes of the society and, thus, made far-reaching changes in their religious and social modes of life; these included transformations in their rites and customs as well as the foundations of their belief system. The rise of monotheistic ideas, opposition to idolatry, struggle against the domination of the Brahman class over the religious life of the people and the latter’s monopoly on religious scientific activity and performance of rites, dissatisfaction with arid and soulless religious rituals, the throwing open of the temples to the Shudra class (whose members were considered as impure by those of higher classes and whose encounter was deemed as inauspicious), opposition to the traditional practice of suttee (sati) (the act or custom of a Hindu widow being cremated on the funeral pyre of her husband), the acceptability of the remarriage of a widowed woman, and respect for the adherents of other religions as equal citizens were all developments in the religious outlook and beliefs of the Hindu people which came about in the medieval period of the Indian history, during the reign of Muslim governments. Though, some aspects of this development could already be detected among the Hindu communities of the previous periods, the convergence of all, or the majority, of them during the period under discussion and their fundamental distinction from the Brahman intellectual and religious system, on the one hand, and their similarity to the Islamic principles and ideas, on the other hand, is an indication of the deeply-rooted influence of the new religion on its environment, in terms of transforming the form and substance of religious and social norms. As was discussed previously, the first signs of this transformation came to the surface during the first decades after the arrival of Muslims in southern Indian towns and ports among the leaders and poets of the bhatki movement (emotional worship and devotion in thought and deed). Later, following the establishment of Muslim governments in these regions and the subsequent domination of Islam over the social and political life of the land, the bhakti movement spread from the south to the north and continued its growth and development in parallel with the expansion of Islam in towns and villages and the proliferation of Sufi khanaqahs and other social and religious centers for the propagation of the Islamic faith. One of the most eminent individuals who played a crucial role in the spread of this movement in the north was a man of Hindu origin by the name of Kabir or Kabir Das (9th cen. AH / 15th cen. AD), who was raised in a Muslim family in the city of Banaras and who later joined Ramananda, who was an adherent of the school of Ramanuja and an advocate of monotheistic beliefs. Kabir was familiar with Islamic beliefs as well as with the mystical terminology of the Sufis and was intent on harmonizing the two religions of Islam and Hinduism and proving their points of divergence as limited to matters of superficial nature. In his poems, he equated “Rama” with “rahman” and “rahim” and Ka`bah with Kailas (the home of the Hindu god Shiva), and rejected the prejudices of the leaders of various creeds as illogical. Opposition to affected and lifeless forms of religious practice, the rejection of idol worship in temples and confinement of God to a particular position, objection to the domination of the Brahman class over the religious life of the people, worship of a single God under a variety of appellations, and free and emotional worship and devotion of the heart versus blind following in the performance of religious rituals constituted the intellectual foundations of the school of Kabir and his followers. The school of Kabir (Kabir Pantha) spread throughout the northern regions of the subcontinent, among whose followers numbered the likes of Dadu, Ran Das, Nanak (the founder of Sikhism), Chaytanya (the renowned Bengali mystic), and, even, Rabindranath Tagore (1861 – 1941), the renowned Indian poet and mystic, who rendered one hundred of Kabir’s odes into English. All these men were profoundly influenced, in their monotheistic and mystical outlooks, by the ideas of Kabir and those of the bhatki movement. Nanak (1469 – 1538 AD) spent several years of his youth in administrative duties in the government of the khan of the Ludis, in Punjab, and, naturally, came under the influence of Islamic ideas and beliefs. In his middle years, he turned into a recluse and spent many years traveling in India, Iran and Hijaz. Upon his return to his birthplace, he established a new religion, which, in terms of its monotheistic outlook and principles, on the one hand, bore close resemblance to the bhatki school and the ideas of Kabir and, on the other hand, to the Islamic tenets and Sufi views.
A major factor in the spreading of the Islamic message of equality and justice among various levels of the Indian society was the activity of Sufi masters. According to a number of reports, prior to the establishment in the subcontinent of the Sufi orders of Suhrawardiyyah, Chishtiyyah and Qadiriyyah and their khanaqahs, certain groups of Sufis had taken up residence in the western and southern parts of India, where they mingled with the native population and engaged in the propagation of Sufi ideas and practices. Today, the rites of the `ars ceremony, held at the tombs of Sufi masters in various parts of the subcontinent, are carried out by the native populations made up of both Hindus and Muslims. During the reign of the sultans of Delhi, especially following the Mongol invasion of Khurasan and Iraq, the well-established Sufi orders of those regions rushed into the northern and central cities of the subcontinent, under Muslim rule, where their offshoots scattered throughout the land, including villages and far-flung areas.
The shaykhs of these Sufi orders were deeply respected and held a special place in the hearts of the people, which prompted the sultans and centers of power to vie for their attention, though, with little success, since many of these spiritual masters shunned the courts of the sultans. In khanaqahs, assemblies of preaching and sama` were held in Persian and, more often, in local languages and qawwali was usually accompanied by rags and Indian songs. Hindu natives in towns and villages were attracted to these assemblies, whose mystical and spiritual ambiance and sense of Islamic Sufi brotherhood acted as catalyst to convince them of the truth of the teachings imparted by the masters.
The vast and ubiquitous Muslim population of the subcontinent, which makes up nearly half of the inhabitants of this extensive territory, is mainly made up of the descendents of the native people, with the progeny of the non-native immigrants comprising only a small proportion of this Muslim population. The spread of Islam was crucially aided by the efforts of Sufi masters of various orders, who were whole-heartedly engaged in the propagation of the new religion in khanaqahs, mosques and other religious venues in such a way that was in accordance to the taste and sensibilities of the native Indian population. These included such eminent Sufi personalities as Khwajah Mu`in al-Din Chishti (d. 634 AH / 1236 AD), the founder of the Chishti Sufi order in India, his lieutenant (khalifah), Bakhtiyar Kaki (d. 635 AH), as well as other masters of the order, such as Farid al-Din Shikar Ganj, known as Baba Farid (d. 665 AH / 1266 AD), Qadi Hamid al-Din Naguri (d. 678 AH / 1279 AD), Nizam al-Din Awliya’ (d. 725 AH / 1325 AD), and Nasir al-Din Charaq Dihli (d. 757 AH / 1356 AD); Baha’ al-Din Zakariya Multani (d. 666 AH), the founder of the Suhrawardiyyah Sufi order in the subcontinent, and his son and lieutenant, Sadr al-Din, and the latter’s disciples Sayyid Jalal Bukhari, known as Surkhpush (d. 695 AH / 1296 AD), Shaykh Ahmad Ma`shuq, and La`l Shahbaz, and other masters of the order, such as Sayyid Jalal al-Din, known as Makhdum-i Jahaniyan-i Jahan Gasht Bukhari (d. 786 AH / 1384 AD), Miran Muhammad Shah, known as Mawj-i Darya (d. 1013 AH / 1604 AD), and the masters of the sub-branches of the Suhrawardiyyah; Sayyid Muhammad Ghawth (d. 923 AH / 1517 AD), the founder of the Qadiriyyah Sufi order in India, his son and successor, `Abd al-Qadir Thani (d. 940 AH / 1533 AD), Buhlul Shah Darya’i, Shah La`l Husayn (d. 1008 – 1599 AD), Miyan Mir (d. 1046 AH / 1636 AD), Mulla Shah and his disciple, prince Dara Shukoh, the son of Shah Jahan, and a group of other masters related to the Qadiriyyah order; the followers of the Shattariyyah Sufi order, such as Shaykh `Abd Allah Shattar (d. 832 AH / 1428 AD), Shah Muhammad Ghawth Guwaliyari (d. 971 AH / 1563 AD), Shah Wajih al-Din (d. 1018 AH / 1609 AD), in Multan, Lahore, Delhi and Ajmir; and the likes of Ashraf al-Din, known as Bulbul Shah, who converted the Buddhist king of Kashmir, Sayyid `Ali Hamadani (d. 787 AH / 1385 AD), the founder of the Kubrawiyyah Sufi order in Kashmir, Shaykh Nur al-Din Rishi (d. 842 AH / 1438 AD), Baba Dawud Khaki (d. 994 AH / 1585 AD), and the Shi`ite followers of Sayyid Muhammad Nurbakhsh in that region; Shaykh Burhan al-Din Gharib, Muhammad Gisu Daraz (d. 825 AH / 1422 AH), and Shaykh Burhan al-Din Shattari, in Deccan; Jalal al-Din Tabrizi (d. 642 AH / 1244 AD), Akhi Siraj al-Din (d. 785 AH / 1357 AD), Nur al-Din Qutb-i `Alam (d. 851 AH / 1447 AD), and Sayyid Allah Bakhsh Gilani (d. 995 AH / 1586 AD), in Bengal; and a large group of masters of various orders from throughout the subcontinent.
Among the Muslim sultans and emirs there were those who adopted a more amicable and reconciliatory stance toward the native Hindu population and secured the loyalty of the majority of their subjects through showing respect and care toward their customs and rituals and religious needs as well as through the equality they observed with regard to all under their dominion. Sultan Zayn al-`Abidin Kashmiri (823 – 877 AH / 1420 – 1427 AD), while keen on Persian poetry and literature and the Islamic lore of khanaqahs, was active in the development and propagation of the Kashmiri language, into which a number of Hindu religious works were translated at his behest. The tale of Yusuf and Zulaykha by `Abd al-Rahman Jami was translated from Persian into Sanskrit, and the famous work on the history of Kashmir, known as Raj Turangini, which was composed in Sanskrit in the 6th century AH (12th cen. AD), was amended to cover the events up to the 9th century AH (15th cen. AD) and was translated into Persian. From the time of this Brahman king of Kashmir, the Sapero tribe, especially engaged in the learning of the Persian language and the Islamic culture and monopolized the administrative duties in the governments of the Babers. The family of Jawaharlal Nehru belonged to this class, just as that of Iqbal Lahuri, the contemporary Pakistani poet and thinker.
Prior to Zayn al-`Abidin, Muhammad b. Tughluq had also treated his Hindu subjects equitably and respected their social rights, a practice that continued by those who succeeded Zayn al-`Abidin, including `Ala’ al-Din Husayn Shah Bangali, Bulul Shah Ludi and Shir Shah Suri. However, the conditions of the Hindu community under the Islamic rule underwent a drastic transformation with the coming to power of Akbar Shah Baberi (964 – 1014 AH / 1556 – 1605 AD). The payment of jizyah was abolished – just as had been done in the reign of Sultan Zayn al-`Abidin Kashmiri, the reconstruction of Hindu temples and the founding of new ones was made legal, and Hindus were given equal opportunity with Muslims in assuming official positions. In addition, the translation of Hindu scientific, religious and mystical works into Persian, as well as their study, abridgement, interpretation and adaptation gained popularity among both Hindus and Muslims. The movement of reconciliation and coexistence initiated in the reign of Akbar Shah continued by his successors Jahangir and Jahan Shah. The latter’s son, Muhammad Dara Shukoh, was especially enthusiastic about the project. In addition to seeking the company of Muslim and Hindu mystics, Dara Shukoh wrote several comparative works on Islamic and Hindu mysticism and translated into Persian a number of important works of Hinduism, in collaboration with the Hindu scholars. However, the death of this enlightened prince at the hands of his brother, Awrangzib (`Alamgir), brought to a close the centuries-old movement toward Hindu-Muslim reconciliation, one that had exposed the kind and humanitarian face of Islam to the Hindu community and acquainted them with its culture and spirituality.
From the early days of Islamic rule, there existed groups of faqihs and orthodox Muslims who made clear their opposition to any policy of compromise and tolerance toward the polytheists and idolaters and who severely censured similar methods adopted by sultans and emirs. This issue was brought to a head during the reign of Akbar Shah, with his religious policy toward the adherents of other religions and, especially, his notions of “comprehensive peace” and “divine religion”. These and other innovations by Akbar Shah and his followers were in direct contravention to the religious foundations of the Islamic community and aroused the ire of the likes of `Abd al-Qadir Gilani Bida’uni, the renowned historian and scholar, and Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi, a religious leader and member of the Naqshbandiyyah Sufi order. The conflict between these two opposing tendencies had been in full swing during the reigns of Jahangir and Shah Jahan. This was a situation where, on the one hand, the royal court and the central administration saw its survival in peaceful coexistence and compromise with the Hindu majority and considered hostile and coercive measures as dangerous and ineffective and, on the other hand, orthodox and traditionalist religious leaders condemned any reconciliation and tolerance with regard to matters of religion as deviation from the rules and principles of Islam, whose upholding they deemed as the duty of the Islamic government. The confrontation between Dara Shukoh and Awrangzib was, in fact, the symbol of the clash between these mutually exclusive viewpoints, a phenomenon that has characterized the institution of Islamic government throughout the history of the subcontinent and whose various manifestations may still be observed in the life of this vast territory.
Awrangzib threw in his lot with the traditionalist orthodox party, as opposed to the reconciliatory Dara Shukoh and his advocates, embarking on a policy of Hindu persecution, imposition of heavy jizyah and tax levies, and destruction of temples, as the cornerstones of his government. In the succeeding period, the measures put in place by Awrangzib caused a deep rift in the society, one that led to a weakening of the Islamic government, paving the way to the invasion of foreign forces. The clashes between the forces of the government and those of local tribes and rulers so sapped the stamina of the central administration that soon after the invasion of the Iranian Nadir Shah Afshar (1151 – 1152 AH / 1738 – 1739 AD) and that of the Afghan Ahmad Shah Darani (1161 AH / 1748 AD) the British soldiers took control of various parts of the country with the outmost ease (1161 AH / 1748 AD) and subjugated the government in Delhi. The efforts of the likes of Nawwab Haydar `Ali Khan Bahadur (1135 – 1197 AH / 1722 – 1782 AD) and his son, Tipu Sultan (1198 – 1214 AH / 1783 – 1799 AD), the Shi`ite rulers of Maysur who attempted to block the colonial forces of Britain with the help of French troops, received no support from the central government and ended in defeat. The last concerted resistance against the British domination was the revolution of 1857 – 1858, known as the “Soldiers’ Riot”, which though staged by both Muslim and Hindu soldiers, came to naught as a result of internal dissention and local disputes. This was the swan song of the Islamic rule in India, which, henceforth, became an official British colony.
In the period following Awrangzib, the Muslim society of India embarked on an attempt to regain its erstwhile unity and cohesion and to overcome the wide range of difficulties that had emerged. Ever since their arrival in the region in the 10th century AH (16th century AD), the leaders of the Naqshbandiyyah Sufi order made explicit their opposition to the religious policies of Akbar Shah, Jahangir and Shah Jahan. These leaders, who saw themselves as the defenders of shar`i rules and principles, were actively engaged in the process of policymaking in the administration of Awrangzib. The last Naqshbandi leader of note was Shah Wali Allah Dihlawi (d. 1176 AH / 1762 AD), whose father participated in the formulation of many of the fatwas issued during the reign of Awrangzib and who had come into contact with the ideas of Ibn Taymiyyah and Muhammad b. Wahhab during the period of his study in Medina and Hijaz. He considered himself as the “Qai’m al-Zaman” and was intent on removing the differences among various Islamic schools and sects based on the principles of Maliki fiqh. He entertained particular views on ijtihad, which he believed should be in concord with the conditions and circumstances of the day. Shah Wali Allah’s proposed method for resolving the difficulties facing the declining Islamic government of India was cumbersome and impracticable. His call upon the local Muslim governors and emirs to unite in a jihad against indigenous Hindu powers neglected the fact of the internal problems of these local Muslim governments, not to mention their disagreements with one another and with the central power. None the less, his diagnosis of the problems plaguing the Muslims and his pragmatic and rational approach to the issue proved influential with regard to the outlooks of future Muslim thinkers of India and Pakistan, such as Sayyid Ahmad Khan, Shibli Nu`mani and Muhammad Iqbal.
After the death of Shah Wali Allah, his ideas were kept alive by his children. In the first half of the 19th century AH, the leadership of the movement fell to Sayyid Ahmad Barilu’i (d. 1247 AH / 1831 AD), the pupil of Shah Wali Allah’s son, `Abd al-`Aziz. Sayyid Ahmad was under the influence of the Wahhabis of Hijaz and intended to reform and purify Islam in India according to Wahhabi principles which, however, were too aggressive and arid for the tastes of the majority of the Muslim population of the subcontinent. None the less, his activities and those of his followers, who came to be known as the “Mujahidin”, proved of major consequence in removing the influences impressed on the lifestyles of rural Muslims by the religious practices of their Hindu neighbors. These Mujahidin considered India as the “Madinat al-Naqisah” (the Imperfect City) and as “dar al-harb”; first, because it was ruled over by a foreign power, i.e. the British, and, second, because the infidels and polytheists shared the land with Muslims. To restore this Imperfect City to its perfection, i.e. Madinat al-Tammah, and to “dar al-Islam”, it was necessary to engage in jihad, in which direction efforts were undertaken by the Mujahidin.
Jihad against the government of the Sikhs who had gained control of Punjab and the border areas in the west and who had engaged in the persecution of the Muslims of these regions, and efforts to encourage the rulers in Bukhara and Afghanistan to take an active role in the restoration of Muslim rule to India were among the practical measures taken by the Mujahidin. Another move was their participation in the revolution of 1857 which resulted in their dissolution, with scattered groups surviving in the western border regions joining the movement of “caliphate” in World War I. In the early 20th century, owing to the difficulties created by Britain for the Ottoman government in Europe and the losses inflicted on the latter by the British and their allies, the Muslims of the subcontinent rose in support of the Ottoman caliphate, which they saw as the center of the Islamic world. They were joined in their action by the Indian National Congress and the Hindu community who had had enough of Britain’s colonial policies in India.
The movement of the Fara’idis of Bengal came into being at the same time as that of the Mujahidin and was directly influenced by the Wahhabism in Hijaz. It was founded by Hajji Shari`at Allah (d. 1246 AH / 1830 AD), who was succeeded by his son Wadud Miyan (d. 1277 AD). One of the followers of Sayyid Ahmad Barilu’i by the name of Titu Miyan was also active in Bengal and was a sympathetic supporter of the Fara’idi cause. In addition to attempting to isolate the rural Muslim population from the indigenous Hindu influences, both groups were involved in improving the living conditions of the Muslim agrarian community in Bengal, whom the British regulations of the late 18th century AD had turned into de facto laborers for the Hindu landowners.
The Fara’idis considered the land as belonging to God. Thus, they held the fruits of its cultivation to be the rightful property of the farmers, who should not be levied any taxes. The revolution of 1875 AD and the subsequent crushing of the movement resulted in a dramatic change in the condition of the Muslims. The colonial government viewed any manifestation of Islam as its enemy. The Muslims, on the other hand, considered themselves as the rightful heirs to the Indian state and deemed the colonial power as a usurper, for whose overthrow they took advantage of any opportunity that presented itself. As a countermeasure, the colonial government, which had taken full control of the country, attempted to bolster the Hindu population, in terms of both culture and economic power, and to place the Muslim minority in a subservient position. Therefore, through the establishment of new schools for the Hindus and their employment in administrative positions, the change of the official language from Persian to English (1835 AD), support for Hindu landowners, as opposed to Muslim farmers, and the promotion of the ancient Hindu culture the British aimed to bolster the spirits of the Hindus and to elevate their social status as well as to revive their sense of nationality. For a long time, there was no concerted effort on the part of the Muslims to stand up to the status quo. Their primary focus was on safeguarding their religious values in the face of this onslaught. Therefore, as was mentioned above, the focal point of their resistance was their religious leadership, with no regard to the ongoing developments in the country. The religious leadership of the Muslim community fell to the followers of Shah Wali Allah and the religious leaders of Diwband, who remained focused on the issue of unity and the centrality of the Muslim world and the Ottoman caliphate; therefore, in mosques, sermons were read in the name of the Ottoman sultan. It appears that the British had something to do with the exaggeration of the issue of the Ottoman caliphate in the eyes of the Muslims as a subterfuge to deflect their attention from the internal events of India.
Sayyid Ahmad Khan (d. 1316 AH), a Muslim intellectual, was openly opposed to the notion of caliphate and, at the same time, promoted the idea of obedience to the British regime. His position was underpinned by two considerations. One the one hand, he was cognizant of the weakness and chaos that afflicted the Ottoman caliphate, with its myriad internal and foreign difficulties, and its inability to play a constructive role in the delicate situation facing the Muslim population of India. On the other hand, he had in view the ever-increasing power of the Hindu community throughout India and was well aware of the possible dangers threatening an enfeebled Muslim population in the face of an aggressive and empowered Hindu majority left to its devices following the withdrawal of the British. In a series of articles published in his self-established monthly Tahdhib al-Akhlaq (first series: 1870 – 1876 AD; second series: 1896 – 1898 AD), he elaborated his views on these subjects. He also set into motion, in collaboration with a group of his like-minded colleagues, a movement which came to be known as that of Aligarh.
Sayyid Ahmad Khan believed it vital for the Muslim youth to equip themselves with the latest scientific and technological knowledge, the modern ways of living and working, and the new modes of rational thinking, since he could see that otherwise the Muslim society of India would be unable to weather the challenges which lay ahead and would end in possible destruction.
As a first step in this direction, he founded a modern school for Muslims, in 1875, called the Mohammadan Anglo-Oriental College. Though, the school’s curriculum was dominated by subjects on modern sciences and technology, Islamic sciences were also included. Later, the college underwent expansion and was renamed the Islamic University of Aligarh, in 1921. At the time, the views of Sayyid Ahmad Khan were in conflict with the dominant outlook of the majority of the Muslim community, especially with those of the traditionalist religious leaders. He presented an overly rational interpretation of the principles contained in the Qur’an and sunnah, one that was in many ways similar to that of the Mu`tazilites. The likes of Shibli Na`mani, the renowned poet and researcher, Mawlana Nadhir Ahmad, the translator and interpreter of the Qur’an in a modern style and in an accessible Urdu rendition, and Altaf Husayn, the revolutionary poet, were among his early like-minded associates who promoted the ideas of the Aligarh movement through the publication of their articles and poems as well as through speeches and other media. Of course, the Sunni religious authorities and the orthodox did not remain silent in the face of Sayyid Ahmad Khan’s views and activities. As part of their opposition to his ideas, they came to label him as a “niychiri”, i.e. naturalist (a worshiper of nature).
The establishment of the Dar al-`Ilm in Diwband and other religious schools in major cities of India, whose curricula consisted of traditional sciences taught according to traditional methods, together with a policy of advocacy of the idea of caliphate were the countermeasures adopted by the orthodox party, an approach which enjoyed widespread popularity among the Muslim masses. Toward the close of Sayyid Ahmad Khan’s life, the ideas of Sayyid Jamal al-Din Asadabadi (Afghani) came to prominence among the Muslim population of India and managed to win over a number of Sayyid Ahmad Khan’s associates. Jamal al-Din’s articles in `Urwat al-Wuthqa were translated into Urdu and were published in Calcutta and Lakahnu newspapers, thus reaching the various parts of Muslim India. In the early years of the 20th century, Shibli Nu`mani established a cultural institute in Lakahnu, called Naduh al-`Ulama’, whose activities were in complete divergence with the ideas and methods advocated by Sayyid Ahmad Khan and much more in tune with those of Sayyid Jamal al-Din and the Dar al-Ilm in Diwband.
Mawlana Muhammad `Ali (d. 1349 AH / 1930 AD) was another one of Sayyid Ahmad Khan’s associates who parted ways with him and became a staunch advocate of the notion of caliphate and went on to establish the Islamic National Society right across from the College of Aligarh. With the death of Sayyid Ahmad Khan the Aligarh movement lost its momentum. The rise of Mustafa Kemal in Turkey in 1924 also put to rest the ideal of caliphate. However, the issue of the fate of India’s Muslim minority in the face of an overwhelming Hindu majority remained unresolved.
On the other hand, feelings of nationalism had stirred among the Hindu population, coupled with a desire for freedom and modernism. The founding of the society of Brahmo Samaj by Ram Mohun Roy, in the early part of the 19th century AD, in Calcutta, and that of Arya Samaj by Dayananda Sarasvati (1824 – 1883 AD), in 1875 AD, in Bombay, together with the rise of such personalities as Ramakrishna, Vivekananda, Kishab Chandra San and other thinkers and intellectuals, all of whom were acquainted with modern European ideas as well as with the scientific principles of the sociology of the day, had imparted a heightened sense of awareness to the Hindu community. Ideas of freedom, independence and democracy had swept across the subcontinent, pressurizing the British rulers and paving the way to the formation of the National Congress, in 1885 AD. The congressional election of 1887 resulted in the selection of Badr al-Din Tayyib Jay, a Muslim democrat, as the head of the congress, an outcome which prompted Sayyid Ahmad Khan to oppose the participation of Muslims in the process, for he openly declared that India was made up of two separate nations, Muslim and Hindu, and that the establishment of a democratic system would be to the detriment of the Muslim minority, as a result of which the rights of the weak would be trampled upon.
Amir Ali, who had previously founded the Central National Mohammadan Association, in Calcutta, sided with Sayyid Ahmad Khan. The issue of the segregation of Muslims and Indians on Indian soil was tantamount to a de facto partition of the country, one that incited the ultra-nationalist Hindus, caused widespread riots throughout the country, and created a cleavage among the members of the congress. Muslims were bent on creating a body similar to that of the National Congress. Their efforts resulted in the establishment of the Muslim League in 1324 AH (1906 AD), which came to assume the leadership of the Muslim community. Though, such issues as the caliphate and the unity of the Islamic world continued to linger in the minds of Muslims, the Muslim League focused its efforts on determining the fate of the Muslim community within Indian borders. In the period 1911 – 1919 AD, the league and the congress remained in talks regarding the issue, one of whose fruits was the Congress-League Pact of 1916 which provided the basis for the establishment of independent Muslim and Hindu electoral districts.
In 1919 AD, Muhammad Ali and his brother, Shaukat Ali, were released from prison and entered the ongoing process of cooperation between the congress and the league. The presence in the congress of such personalities as Jawaharlal Nehru and Mawlana Abul Kalam Azad further bolstered its efforts toward the establishment of a free and independent India. In the interwar period, the issue of the fate of the Muslim community of India was the main preoccupation of the Indian people and the idea of the partition of the country into Indian and Muslim halves was broached in its various forms. The idea was seriously opposed by the likes of Abul Kalam Azad and Dhakir Husayn as well as by the Muslim members of the congress, who suggested ways for the peaceful coexistence of the two groups, which was, none the less, unacceptable to the separatists and, thus, failed to yield concrete results. The members of the Muslim League insisted on the idea of partition previously put forth by Sayyid Ahmad Khan and Muhammad Ali. The notion was also supported by Mohammed Ali Jinnah and Muhammad Iqbal Lahuri.
In his opening remarks at the 1930 meeting of the Muslim League, Iqbal openly discussed the idea of the establishment of an independent Muslim state. He also underlined the notion of inseparability in Islam of the religious and social and political systems, with the corollary that, from a religious point of view, Muslims are forbidden to offer obedience to a non-Islamic government. Muslim Indians, especially those in regions with a Muslim majority, considered partition as the only means of guaranteeing peace and stability in this vast region of the world. In spite of staunch opposition on the part of the congress and its Muslim members as well as the likes of Abdul Kalam Azad and Dhakir Husayn, the separatist movement continued to gather steam, until, in March 940, the Muslim League made an official declaration regarding the idea of the establishment of an independent Muslim state in two eastern and western halves. In March 1942, the British government, while underscoring India’s cooperation in World War II, conceded to the plan in the framework of separate autonomous parts. In 1946, the British granted autonomy to all the provinces of the subcontinent, within the framework of three regions: A (northwestern provinces, with a Muslim majority), B (the main part of the subcontinent, with a Hindu majority), and C (eastern Bengal, with a Muslim majority). Finally, in 1947, based on the Mountbatten Plan, the two independent states of India and Pakistan (eastern and western) were created. For sometime after the partition, the Hindu community of India continued to look at the Aligarh University in an aggressive light. However, the chancellorship of Dhakir Husayn, appointed by Abul Kalam while in the post of the minister of culture, and Badr al-Din Jay served to restore the university’s erstwhile prestige, enabling it to continue its activities as one of the subcontinent’s major centers of Islamic sciences and culture.
There are other cultural and academic centers engaged in the teaching of Islamic sciences through modern methods. They include the Othmaniyyah University, in Haydarabad, Deccan, the Islamic National Society, in Delhi, Naduh al-`Ulama’, in Lakahnu, Qasil al-`Ulum, in Diwband, the Muhammadiyyah Society, in Banaras, Madrasat al-Wa`izin, in Lakahnu, and the Nusrat al-`Ulum, in Sringar, and a number of other schools and societies in Delhi, Patnah, Calcutta and southern provinces. In addition to these centers, which are mainly devoted to the training of Muslim students and seminarians, all major Indian universities, such as the Delhi and Jawaharlal Nehru universities and colleges in Bombay, Calcutta, Allahabad and Kashmir, include departments for the study of Islamic history and culture as well as for Persian, Arabic and Urdu languages, where postgraduate students are engaged in research on these subjects. A number of these centers publish books and journals in Persian, Arabic, Urdu and English and most have extensive libraries for use by students and researchers. The Indian Institute of Islamic Culture was established a few decades ago in Tughliq Abad, in Delhi, by the Hamdard charitable organization and is among the foremost centers of teaching of Islamic sciences, where Muslim and non-Muslim students from throughout the world are engaged in study and research. The institute is especially famous in the field of traditional medicine. Other research centers in India, with extensive activities in the field of publication of books and, in some cases, journals include the Ghalib Academy, Azad Bahawan, Taraqqi Urdi Board and Naduh al-Masannifin, in Delhi, Dar al-Musannifin, in Azamgarh, and the Da’irat al-Ma`arif `Uthmaniyyah, in Haydarabad, Deccan.
Collections of Persian and Arabic manuscripts held at the national and public libraries in the subcontinent comprise the most valuable cultural and historical heritage of the Islamic world, some of which are of extreme significance, either in terms of their scientific, literary or historical importance, or as regards their artistic value, such as paintings, illuminations, or works of calligraphy. Among the major collections of manuscripts in the subcontinent are those housed in Salar-i Jang Museum, and Asifiyyah Library, in Haydarabad, Deccan, Riza and Sawlat libraries, in Rampur, Nasiriyyha and Naduh al-`Ulama’ libraries, in Lakahnu, the Royal Society of Bengal, in Calcutta, the Oriental Library, in Madras, the Khudabakhsh Library, in Patnah, the Hamidiyyah Library, in Bahupal, the Public University and the library at the University of Punjab, in Lahore, the Karachi Museum and the Center for Persian Manuscripts, in Islamabad.
 
* source:

Mojtabaiee, Fath Allah "Islam Entry" The Great Islamic Encyclopedia. Ed. Kazem Musavi Bojnourdi.Tehran: The Center of Great Islamic Encyclopaedia , 1989-, V.8 , pp.562 - 581

 
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