M. A. Khan
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M. A. Khan is an Ex-Muslim writer, activist, editor and author.
Islamic Jihad: A legacy of forced conversion, imperialism and slavery (2011)
- Based on the records of Muslim historians, Sultan Mahmud’s repeated invasions of Northern India had reduced the Hindu population by about two million as estimated by Prof. KS Lal. Many of them were slaughtered in the course of the assaults; the rest—a larger number—were carried away as slaves at the point of the sword and instantly became Muslim.
- The present demography of the Muslim population of Northern India was shaped largely during the reign of brutal Aurangzeb because of the large-scale conversion by force and other coercive compulsions. The Gazette of North West Provinces (NWP), which included modern-day state of Uttar Pradesh and Delhi territories, states: ‘‘Most Muslim cultivators assign the date of their conversion to the reign of Aurangzeb and represent it as the result of sometimes persecution and sometimes as made to enable them to retain their rights when unable to pay revenue.’’
- On 15 December 1666, Aurangzeb decreed an order for expelling the Hindus from duties in the Royal court and provinces, and to replace them by Muslims. 213 This further pressurized the Hindus to convert to Islam in order to save their livelihood. He pressurized Hindu zamindars (landlords) to become Muslim or lose their job or even face death. Devi Chand, the zamindar of Manoharpur, was dispossessed from his position and thrown into prison. Aurangzeb sent his Kotwal (executioner) instructing him that if Devi Chand becomes Musalman, spare him; if he refused, kill him. Devi Chand agreed to embrace Islam, if he would be restored to zamindari. He became a Muslim, his life was spared and the zamindari restored. 214 Ratan Singh, who was dispossessed from gaining his father’s zamindari state of Rampura in Malwa, received the state back by becoming Muslim.
- Aurangzeb also promulgated an order in 1685 to his officers of the provinces to encourage the Hindus to convert to Islam by offering that ‘each Hindu male, who becomes a Musalman, is to be given Rupees four and each Hindu woman Rupees two’ from the treasury. Four Rupees was equivalent to a month’s earning of a male. Given that conversions also brought relief from jizyah, kharaj and host of other crushing taxes along with relief from the humiliation and degradation, this incentive had a much larger inducement for conversion than its monetary value. One Mughal document records the conversion of 150 Hindus by Shaikh Abdul Momin, the Faujdar of Bithur, by offering them saropas (robes of honour) and cash.
- It is important to note that, throughout the entire period of Muslim rule, the lower caste Hindus and Sikhs joined the resistance and rebellion against Muslim rulers in large numbers; in many cases, it was the lower caste Hindus, who led the revolts. A few examples will be given here. Khusrau Khan, an enslaved and castrated Hindu convert to Islam, got his patron Sultan Kutbuddin Mubarak Khilji killed in 1320 and wiped out the sultan’s leading Muslim officers. Khusrau Khan had allied with 20,000 Bewari Hindus (also called Parwari by some authors) from Gujarat. 223 Their aim was to wipe out Islam from the Delhi seat of power... Medieval chroniclers Ziauddin Barani, Amir Khusrau and Ibn Battutah recognize the Bewaris as low caste Hindus having ‘bravery and readiness to lay down their lives for their masters.’
- Another lofty claim of mythic proportion being perpetuated about conversion to Islam is that a heterodox variety of Muslims, namely the Sufis, had propagated Islam through peaceful missionary activity. British historian Thomas Arnold (1864–1930)—desperate to alter the centuries-old European discourse of Islam as a violent faith—initiated this propaganda in the 1890s, which has been embraced by numerous Muslim and non-Muslim historians and scholars... The major reference, on which Arnold based his conclusion that peaceful conversion by Sufis played major role in conversion to Islam, was a generic reference in the 1884 Bombay Gazetteer that Sufi saint Ma’bari Khandayat (Pir Ma’bari) came to the Deccan in about 1305 as a missionary and converted a large number of Jains to Islam... However, older documentation on Pir Ma’bari by Muslim chroniclers, as studied by historian Richard Eaton, reveals the measures Pir Ma’bari had applied in converting the infidels.. Another tradition says that Pir Ma’bari had expelled a group of Brahmins from their village in Bijapur. Muslim literatures portray Pir Ma’bari as a fierce wager of Jihad against the infidels wielding an iron bar. This gave him his last name, Khandayat—literally meaning blunted bar...
- One intriguing thing about Eaton is that his own research of the medieval literatures on Indian Sufis for his Ph.D. thesis, published in Sufis of Bijapur 1300–1700, failed to find any trace of peace in the views and actions of Sufis and in their method of conversion. He found that all the revered Sufis, particularly the earlier ones to arrive at Bijapur, were fierce Jihadis and persecutor of Hindus..
- Apart from these highly revered Sufi saints, there were other great Sufi personalities, namely Shaykh Bahauddin Zakaria, Shaykh Nuruddin Mubarak Ghaznavi, Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi and Shaykh Shah Walliullah et al., who have often been condemned by some modern historians for their relatively orthodox views.
- In Kashmir, great Sufi saint Sayyid Ali Hamdani also destroyed a temple to set up his Khanqah.
- In the course of the fifteenth century, the Sultanate of Malacca waged Jihad against neighboring states and destroyed the powerful Majapahit Kingdom and also weakened Siam. When Muslim warriors overran Java in 1526, the Majapahit Kingdom ceased to exist. The Sultanate continued its rivalry with the surviving Thai Kingdom, capturing territory from the south. In the course of late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, Muslim invaders were poised to storm into the Thai capital of Ayuthaya. For some time, it seemed that the Muslim holy warriors would overrun Siam... This distraction and eventual dismantling of the Malacca Sultanate by the Portuguese saved Siam from collapsing to Muslim rule. In the seventeenth century, Siamese rulers made alliance with the seafaring Portuguese and Dutch powers, which succeeded in countering the threat of Muslim attack. In the eighteenth century, Siam counterattacked in order to recover the lost territory. It overran and annexed the declining Muslim Sultanate of Pattani.
- In the 1450s, Shari’ful Hashem Syed Abu Bakr, a Malaysia’s Johore-born Arab warrior, sailed with a force northward from Borneo to the Sulu Islands and founded the Sultanate of Sulu in 1457. With the force of Islamic political power, the conversion of the Animist population to Islam began in real earnest. By the end of the fifteenth century, forward Jihad from Sulu, patronized by the Borneo Sultanate, had brought most of Visayas (Central Philippines), half of Luzon (Northern Philippines) and the islands of Mindanao in the south under Muslim control. Continued incursions by Muslim Jihadis intensified the spread of Islam among the terrified Animist populace. Following the trail of Muslim holy warriors, Islam spread from Sulu to Mindanao and reached the Manila area by 1565. The local Filipinos organized into small Barangays—groups based on village or tribal community— offered sporadic and feeble resistance against well-organized Muslim incursions.
- The Jihad incursions by Muslim rulers in Southeast Asia were no less brutal and terrifying. Prof. Anthony Reid, who thinks that ‘Islam was more egalitarian’ in Southeast Asia, notes: ‘Malaya lost much of its population as a result of the campaigns (by Muslim ruler) of Aceh in the period of 1618–24.’ 313 Similarly, when Sultan Agung of Mataram, hailed as a great Muslim monarch of Southeast Asia, besieged Surabaya and its nearby towns with 80,000 troops for five years (1620–25), his troops devastated all the rice crops and even poisoned water and stopped its flow to the city by damming up the river. Consequent to these campaigns, all but 500 of the 50,000–60,000 inhabitants remained there; the rest had died or left the city from the resulting misery and famine.
- Raiding non-Muslim territories became a constant phenomenon after Muslim powers were established in Southeast Asia. It was ‘a period of Javanese history characterized by almost incessant warfare,’ says Ricklefs. A substantial part of the population, the so-called savages, lived in the hills. Over five centuries after Muslims came to power in the early fifteenth century, those animist hill peoples completely disappeared as a result of their incorporation, through enslavement, into the Muslim populace of Malaya, Sumatra and Borneo ‘by a mixture of raiding, tribute and purchase, especially of children.’ 325 ‘Certain small sultanates, notably Sulu, Buton and Tidore, began to make profitable business of raiding for slaves in eastern Indonesia or the Philippines and marketing the human victims to the wealthy cities—or to the expanding seventeenth-century pepper estates of southern Borneo,’ adds Reid. 326 In Muslim wars in Southeast Asia, the enslavement was often complete: the entire population were enslaved and carried away. For example, Thomas Ivye reported in 1634 that an English Party went about looking in vain for two days for the once-flourishing Sumatran town of Inderagiri to buy pepper. No trace of the town was found. They later learned that its whole population were carried away in an Acehnese Muslim invasion six years earlier to a location three days’ journey up the river. 327 These enslaved people—belonging to the polytheistic Hindu, Buddhist and Animist creeds—were unlikely allowed to keep their faiths by their Muslim captors of Shafi’i persuasion.