Hindu–Islamic relations

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Hinduism and Islam share some ritual practices such as fasting and pilgrimage, but differ in their views on apostasy, blasphemy, circumcision, consanguineous marriages, idol making, henotheism, social stratification, vegetarianism, and Ahimsa as a virtue. Their historical interaction since the 7th century has witnessed periods of cooperation and syncretism, as well as periods of religious violence.


  • To talk about Hindu-Muslim unity from a thousand platforms or to give it blazoning headlines is to perpetrate an illusion whose cloudily structure dissolves itself at the exchange of brickbats and desecration of tombs and temples…. Nothing I could say can so well show the futility of Hindu-Muslim unity. Hindu-Muslim unity up to now was at least in sight although it was like a mirage. Today it is out of sight and also out of mind"
    • Dr. B.R Ambedkar: Pakistan or The Partition of India (1946), p. 186-7
  • You can live amicably with a religion whose principle is toleration. But how is it possible to live peacefully with a religion whose principle is 'I will not tolerate you? How are you going to have unity with these people? Certainly, Hindu-Muslim unity cannot be arrived at on the basis that the Muslims will go on converting Hindus while the Hindus shall not convert any Mahomedan. You can't build unity on such a basis. Perhaps the only way of making the Mahomedans harmless is to make them lose their fanatic faith in their religion....
    • Sri Aurobindo, Ghose, A., Nahar, S., & Institut de recherches évolutives. (2000). India's rebirth: A selection from Sri Aurobindo's writing, talks and speeches. Paris: Institut de recherches évolutives.
  • I am sorry they are making a fetish of this Hindu-Muslim unity. It is no use ignoring facts; some day the Hindus may have to fight the Muslims and they must prepare for it. Hindu-Muslim unity should not mean the subjection of the Hindus. Every time the mildness of the Hindu has given way. The best solution would be to allow the Hindus to organize themselves and the Hindu-Muslim unity would take care of itself, it would automatically solve the problem. Otherwise, we are lulled into a false sense of satisfaction that we have solved a difficult problem, when in fact we have only shelved it.
    • Sri Aurobindo, Ghose, A., Nahar, S., & Institut de recherches évolutives. (2000). India's rebirth: A selection from Sri Aurobindo's writing, talks and speeches. Paris: Institut de recherches évolutives.
  • Shri Sarat Chandra Chatterji, the noted Bengali novelist and a Congressman of long standing, had commented on the overt behaviour of Muslims ever since Islam arrived in India. Pained by the humiliations which Muslim hooligans had heaped on Hindus in the countryside of East Bengal, he had written as follows in October, 1926: “If we go by the lessons of history we have to accept that the goal of Hindu-Muslim unity is a mirage. When Muslims first entered India, they looted the country, destroyed the temples, broke the idols, raped the women and heaped innumberable indignities on the people of this country. Today it appears that such noxious behaviour has entered the bone-marrow of Muslims. Unity can be achieved among equals. In view of the big gap between the cultural level of Hindus and Muslims which can hardly be bridged, I am of the view that Hindu-Muslim unity which could not be achieved during the last thousand years will not materialise during the ensuing thousand years. If we are to drive away the English people depending upon this elusive capital of Hindu-Muslim unity, I would rather advise its postponement.”
    • Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, ‘Bortoman Hindu-Musalman Somosya', in Krishnanagar Session of Bengal Congress in 1926, 'Bartaman Hindu-Muslim Samasya’ edited by Dipankar Chattopadhyaya, published by Panchajanya Prakashani, Calcutta. [1] and quoted from Goel, S.R. Muslim Separatism - Causes and Consequences
  • I say that the Muslims do not have the slightest right to complain about the desecration of one mosque. From 1000 A.D., every Hindu temple from Kathiawar to Bihar from the Himalayas to the Vindhyas, has been sacked and ruined. Not one temple was left standing all over northern India… Temples escaped destruction only where Muslim power did not gain access to them for reasons such as dense forests. Otherwise it was a continuous spell of vandalism. No nation, with any self-respect, will forgive this. They took over our women. And they imposed the Jaziya, the tax. Why should we forget and forgive all that? What happened in Ayodhya would not have happened, had the Muslims acknowledged this historical argument even once. Then we could have said : All right, let the past remain in the past and let us see how best we can solve this problem…
    • Nirad Chandra Chaudhuri , Sunday Times of India, August 8, 1993; in an interview to its Editor Dileep Padgaonkar [2]
  • There is no doubt in my mind that in the majority of quarrels the Hindus come out second best. But my own experience confirms the opinion that the Mussalman as a rule is a bully and the Hindu as a rule is a coward. I have noticed this in railway trains, on public roads, and in the quarrels which I had the privilege of settling. Need the Hindu blame the Mussalman for his cowardice? Where there are cowards, there will always be bullies…But I, as a Hindu, am more ashamed of Hindu cowardice than I am angry at the Mussalman bullying…
    • Mahatma Gandhi, The source quoted is "Hindu-Muslim Tension: Its Cause and Cure", Young India, 29/5/1924; reproduced in M.K. Gandhi: The Hindu-Muslim Unity, p.35-36.
  • If the Hindus sang Vande Mãtaram in a public meeting, it was a ‘conspiracy’ to convert Muslims into kãfirs. If the Hindus blew a conch, or broke a coconut, or garlanded the portrait of a revered patriot, it was an attempt to ‘force’ Muslims into ‘idolatry’. If the Hindus spoke in any of their native languages, it was an ‘affront’ to the culture of Islam. If the Hindus took pride in their pre-Islamic heroes, it was a ‘devaluation’ of Islamic history. And so on, there were many more objections, major and minor, to every national self-expression. In short, it was a demand that Hindus should cease to be Hindus and become instead a faceless conglomeration of rootless individuals. On the other hand, the ‘minority community’ was not prepared to make the slightest concession in what they regarded as their religious and cultural rights. If the Hindus requested that cow-killing should stop, it was a demand for renouncing an ‘established Islamic practice’. If the Hindus objected to an open sale of beef in the bazars, it was an ‘encroachment’ on the ‘civil rights’ of the Muslims. If the Hindus demanded that cows meant for ritual slaughter should not be decorated and marched through Hindu localities, it was ‘trampling upon time-honoured Islamic traditions’. If the Hindus appealed that Hindu religious processions passing through a public thoroughfare should not be obstructed, it was an attempt to ‘disturb the peace of Muslim prayers’. If the Hindus wanted their native languages to attain an equal status with Urdu in the courts and the administration, it was an ‘assault on Muslim culture’. If the Hindus taught to their children the true history of Muslim tyrants, it was a ‘hate campaign against Islamic heroes’. And the ‘minority community’ was always ready to ‘defend’ its ‘religion and culture’ by taking recourse to street riots.
    • Sita Ram Goel, Muslim Separatism – Causes and Consequences (1987)
  • Poets like Jayasi, Rahim, and Raskhan are rare phenomena. So are saints like Kabir, Nanak and Gharib Das. They attempted a synthesis of the two cultural streams in the field of literature in their own way. But their endeavours were severly limited and short-lived. They failed to be popular amongst and influence the Muslims.
    • Harsh Narain, Myths of Composite Culture and Equality of Religions, 1990, p.27
  • In one respect alone Jahangir deviated from the policy of his father: he did not permit people to embrace Hinduism even of their own free will. He severely punished Kaukab, Sharif and Abdul Latif who, under the influence of a Sanyasi, showed inclination for Hinduism. This policy would have stopped any erosion of Muslim numbers. Besides, while on a visit to Kashmir, when he learnt that the Hindus and Muslims intermarried freely, “and both give and take girls (he ordered that) taking them is good but giving them, God Forbid”. And any violation of this order was to be visited with capital punishment. This indeed was in accordance with the Islamic law. As per the Shariat law a Muslim may marry a Jewess, or a Christian, or a Sabean, but “a marriage between a Musalman and... a Hindu is invalid”. Similarly, it “a female Muslim cannot under any circumstances marry a non-Muslim”. May be it was because of this that Akbar discouraged all kinds of intercommunal marriages. ...
    • Lal, K. S. (2012). Indian Muslims: Who are they.
  • To sum up this subject of synthesis, assimilation, and composite culture, I would better quote Dr. R.C. Majumdar, one of the best and certainly the most versatile historian which modern India has known. He writes: “There was no reapprochement in respect of popular or national traditions, and those social and religious ideas and beliefs and practices and institutions which touch the deeper chord of life, and give it a distinctive form, tone and vigour. In short, the reciprocal influences were too superficial in character to affect materially the fundamental differences between the two communities in respect of almost everything that is deep-seated in human nature and makes life worth living. So the two great communities, although they lived side by side, moved each in its own orbit and there was yet no sign that the twain shall ever meet.” Again: “Nor did the Muslims ever moderate their zeal to destroy ruthlessly the Hindu temples and images of gods, and their attitude in this respect remained unchanged from the day when Muhammad bin Qasim set foot on the soil of India till the 18th century A.D. when they lost all political power.”
    By all that I have written on the subject of composite culture, I do not intend to say that I am opposed to an understanding and reconciliation between the two communities. All I want to say is that no significant synthesis or assimilation took place in the past, and history should not be distorted and falsified to serve the political purposes of a Hindu-baiting herd. If there is any lesson which we can profitably learn from medieval Indian history, it is that no understanding between Hindus and Muslims is possible unless the very first premises of Islam are radically revised in keeping with reason, universality, and humanism.
    • R. C. Majumdar, quoted in Goel, S. R. (2001). The story of Islamic imperialism in India.
  • The Indian Muslims are first Muslims, then Indians. According to the Muslim leaders like Syeed Amir Ali, if the foreign Islamic countries invade India, the duties of the Indian Muslims will be to help those Muslim invaders against India, because ‘Muslim identity’ is more important to them.
    • Bipin Chandra Pal, ‘Rashtraniti’, by Bipin Chandra Pal in ‘Bijaya’, 1319 Bangabda [3]
  • I have devoted most of my time during the last six months to the study of Muslim History and Muslim Law and I am inclined to think that Hindu-Muslim unity is neither possible not practicable… I do honestly and sincerely believe in the necessity and desirability of Hindi-Muslim unity. I am also fully prepared to trust the Muslim leaders, but what about the injunctions of the Koran and Hadis. The leaders cannot override them".
    • Lala Lajpat Rai: Quoted in B.R. Ambedkar, Pakistan, Vol. 8 Writings and Speeches, also in K. Elst Decolonizing the Hindu Mind, Rupa 2001, and also quoted by A. Ghosh in "Making of the Muslim psyche" in Devendra Swarup, Politics of conversion, New Delhi, 1988, p148. [4] [5]
  • The Mussulmans of Calcutta though adopting various Hindu practices, have never amalgamated with the Hindus. They seem to retain towards them the views of Timur who said, - 'The Hindu has nothing of humanity but the figure.' Ambitions characterized the Moslem here last century as much as avarice did the Gentoo, but the days are gone for ever when a Mussulamn like the Foujdar of Hooghly had Rs. 6000 monthly salary and when the kora or the whip was hung up in every Mofussil Court for the Mussulman officials to flagellate the Hindus.
    • The Muslims of Calcutta, Rev. James Long. cited in Nair, P. Thankappan ed., British Social Life in Ancient Calcutta 1750 to 1850, Sanskrit Pustak Bhandar, 1983. p. 105. Also cited in The India They Saw, ed. Jain Meenakshi, p. 404.
  • Now, suppose that the English community and the army were to leave India, taking with them all their cannons and their splendid weapons and all else, who then would be the rulers of India?.... Is it possible that under these circumstances two nations—the Mohammedans and the Hindus—could sit on the same throne and remain equal in power? Most certainly not. It is necessary that one of them should conquer the other. To hope that both could remain equal is to desire the impossible and the inconceivable. But until one nation has conquered the other and made it obedient, peace cannot reign in the land.
    • Sir Syed Ahmed Khan (1817–1898), Speech in March 1888, Quoted by Dilip Hiro, "The Longest August: The Unflinching Rivalry Between India and Pakistan" [6]
  • A very important factor which is making it almost impossible for Hindu-Muslim unity to become an accomplished fact is that the Muslims can not confine their patriotism to any one country. I had frankly asked (the Muslims) whether in the event of any Mohammedan power invading India, they (Muslims) would stand side by side with their Hindu neighbours to defend their common land. I was not satisfied with the reply I got from them… Even such a man as Mr. Mohammad Ali (one of the famous Ali brothers, the leaders of the Khilafat Movement-the compiler) has declared that under no circumstances is it permissible for any Mohammedan, whatever be his country, to stand against any Mohammedan."
    • Rabindranath Tagore, Interview of Rabindranath Tagore in `Times of India', 18-4-1924 in the column, `Through Indian Eyes on the Post Khilafat Hindu Muslim Riots [7] Also in A. Ghosh: "Making of the Muslim Psyche" in Devendra Swamp (ed.), Politics of Conversion, New Delhi, 1986, p. 148. And in S.R. Goel, Muslim Separatism – Causes and Consequences (1987).
  • It has been said, gentlemen, by some that we Hindus have yielded too much to our Mohammedan brethern. I am sure I represent the sense of the Hindu community all over India when I say that we could not have yielded too much. I would not care if the rights of selfgovernment are granted to the Mohammedan community only.... When we have to fight against a third party — it is a very important thing that we stand on this platform united, united in race, united in religion, united as regards all different shades of political creed.
    • Tilak, quoted in Law in the Scientific Era by M. Hidayatullah
  • The Sultan then asked, "How are Hindus designated in the law, as payers of tributes or givers of tribute? The Kazi replied, "They are called payers of tribute, and when the revenue officer demands silver from them, they should tender gold. If the officer throws dirt into their mouths, they must without reluctance open their mouths to receive it. The due subordination of the zimmi is exhibited in this humble payment and by this throwing of dirt in their mouths. The glorification of Islam is a duty. God holds them in contempt, for he says, "keep them under in subjection". To keep the Hindus in abasement is especially a religious duty, because they are the most inveterate enemies of the Prophet, and because the Prophet has commanded us to slay them, plunder them, enslave them and spoil their wealth and property. No doctor but the great doctor (Hanafi), to whose school we belong, has assented to the imposition of the jizya (poll tax) on Hindus. Doctors of other schools allow no other alternative but Death or Islam.
    • Elliot and Dowson, Vol. III : Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own Historians, 8 Volumes, Allahabad Reprint, 1964. pp. 184, chapter 15. Táríkh-i Fíroz Sháhí, of Ziauddin Barani [8]

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