The Legacy of Muslim Rule in India
|K. S. Lal
|8.50 X 5.50 inch
The Legacy of Muslim Rule in India has to be assessed because in spite of a thousand years of Muslim conquest and rule, India has survived with a Hindu ethos. Had India been completely conquered and converted to Muhammadanism, its people would have taken pride in the victories and achievements of Islam. Conversely, had India succeeded like Spain and France to repulse the Muslims for good, its people would have forgotten about Islam and its rule.
The Muslims who settled down in India were as cruel and contemptuous towards the native population as the Muslim conquerors. Muslim rule in this country remained foreign in character throughout its career, seeking recognition from the Caliph, maintaining itself on the strength of soldiers imported from Muslim countries abroad, and preferring foreign Muslim adventurers for employment in prestigious posts. The Muslim state was theocratic and militaristic. So far as the Hindus were concerned, the period of Muslim rule was a period of unmitigated suffering and misery.
The Ulama and the Sufi Masaikh never ceased to regret that the Hindus had been recognised as zimmis and not given the choice between Islam and death. Their zimmi status, however, did not save the Hindus from repeated massacres and constant molestation. Millions of Hindu men, women and children were captured and sold as slave all over the Muslim world. Countless Hindus were converted at the point of the sword, and their women abducted or forced into marriage with Muslims or made concubines in Muslim homes. Plunder of Hindu properties was a permanent Muslim occupation. The Brahmanas were slaughtered, and temples demolished all over the land so that mosques and other Muslim monuments could be raised on their sites and with their debris. Hindu peasantry was hunted like wild beasts, and impoverished in a planned manner by keeping the prices low and leaving it with only the bare minimum for sustenance.
The Hindus survived the nightmare not because Muslim rulers spared pains in spreading death and devastation, but because the Hindus offered stiff and ceaseless resistance, particularly in the countryside where Muslim arms found it hard to penetrate. Even so they have been left with a Muslim "minority" which has never learnt not to discriminate between believers and infidels. The Muslim child learns in the maktab that killing kafirs is kar-e-sawab, a pious act. This cleavage in the social fabric of India is a legacy of the Muslim rule in India. Another important legacy is the large number of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Castes. These are Hindus whose social status declined steeply due to Muslim policy of plunder and planned impoverishment. The Tribals or Animists of the British Census are largely Hindus driven into forests and fastnesses by sustained Muslim terror.
The Stalinist and Secular historians make mischief when they manipulate medieval Indian history and paint the Muslim rule in bright colours. They prevent the Muslims from facing the history of Islam, and promote Muslim fundamentalism. No solution of the communal problem is possible unless the Muslims come out of the Medieval Age, and learn to live in modern times.
Had India been completely converted to Muhammadanism during the thousand years of Muslim conquest and rule, its people would have taken pride in the victories and achievements of Islam and even organised pan Islamic movements and Islamic revolutions. Conversely, had India possessed the determination of countries like France and Spain to repulse the Muslims for good, its people would have forgotten about Islam and its rule. But while India could not be completely conquered or Islamized, the Hindus did not lose their ancient religious and cultural moorings. In short, while Muslims with all their armed might proved to be great conquerors, rulers and proselytizers, Indians or Hindus, with all their weak nesses, proved to be great survivors. India never became an Islamic country. Its ethos remained Hindu while Muslims also continued to live here retaining their distinctive religious and social system. It is against this background that an assessment of the legacy of Muslim rule in India has been attempted.
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