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)[edit]

  • What can be gleaned from this analysis is that the Hindus obviously failed to grasp the beauty of Islam well into the dying days of Muslim rule in India; instead, they were hostile toward it. We will see that, within a century of founding the Muslim sultanate in Delhi in 1206, the Hindus—pauperized by extreme exploitation, namely the imposition of jizyah, kharaj and other kinds of onerous taxes—started begging at the doors of Muslims. They could escape from this desperate situation simply by accepting Islam, but they were not doing so. We will see the testimonies of Muslim chroniclers and European travelers that, as late as in the seventeenth century, the Hindus were taking their wives and children to slave-markets for selling them to pay up the grinding taxes. Muslim officers were also forcibly carrying away the children of destitute Hindus for selling them for exacting taxes. Still, they were not converting to Islam.
  • These testimonies give us a good deal of idea about the continuous, determined resistance of Hindus against resented Muslim invaders and rulers of India. This will also help one comprehend how so many Hindus might have managed to survive the Muslim assaults in India spanning so many centuries. Indeed, Islamic chronicles on India is littered withexamples of Indian rulers and their soldiers, rebels and commoners, under attack by Muslim invaders and rulers, frequently taking refuge in the inaccessible jungles and mountains to save their lives.
  • Evidently, there was, amongst Hindus, strong resistance against and repugnance toward Islam; they took refuge in inaccessible jungle and mountain hideouts to save lives and to avoid capture and enslavement for their conversion to Islam. Large numbers of peasants, refusing to pay exorbitant taxes to Muslim rulers, were leaving their farms to take refuge in jungles. Still, others were bearing the burden of crushing dhimmi taxes, rather than embracing Islam to get rid of the burden.
  • This clearly proves that even one millennium after the Muslim invaders came to India, the Hindus—still unable to find anything appealing or worthwhile in Islam—were ignoring so much privilege and inducements to convert to Islam. Instead, they were undertaking such dangerous protests and still, ending up paying the humiliating jizyah, onerous kharaj and other kinds of crushing taxes by doggedly adhering to their ancestral faith. Moreover, many of those—who had converted to Islam under various circumstances, including at the point of the sword—were willing to revert to their ancestral religion at the earliest opportunity.
  • 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.
  • 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. 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. 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. 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.
  • For example, Shaykh Mubarak Ghaznavi—a great Islamic scholar and Sufi saint of the Suhrawardi order—had utter disrespect and violent hatred of non-Muslims (kafirs) and their religion, as he reminded the sultans that ‘‘Kings will not be able to discharge their duty of protecting the Faith unless they overthrow and uproot kufr and kafiri (infidelity), shirk (associating partners to God, polytheism) and the worship of idols, all for the sake of Allah and inspired by a sense of honor for protecting the din of the Prophet of God.’’ However, in case of an impossible situation, he advised, ‘‘…if total extirpation of idolatry is not possible owing to the firm roots of kufr and the large number of kafirs and mushriks, the kings should at least strive to disgrace, dishonor and defame the mushriks and idol-worshipping Hindus, who are the worst enemies of God and His Prophet.’’
  • 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. 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. 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.
  • When Prince Muhammad Azam and Khan Jahan Bahadur proceeded to Udaipur ‘to effect the destruction of temples of the idolaters,’ some twenty Rajput princes revolted to protect the temples and ‘those fanatics’ were sent to hell and ‘the temple was now clear, and the pioneers destroyed the images.’ Aurangzeb ordered the destruction of three temples constructed by the Rana of Udisagar. Returning from the campaign, Hasan Ali Khan stated ‘the temples situated near the palace and one hundred and twenty-two more in the neighboring districts, had been destroyed.’
  • In the ancient cities of Varanasi and Mathura, Ujjain and Maheshwar, Jwalamukhi and Dwarka, not one temple survives whole and intact from the ancient times.
  • According to Ibn Battutah (described in 1333), Hindu Kush ‘means ‘Slayer of Indians (Hindus)’ because the slave boys and girls who were brought from India die there in large numbers as a result of the extreme cold and the quantity of the snow.’ The number of those frozen to death in Hindu Kush is uncertain. According to Moreland, ‘their number was so large that the price of the survivors remained low in foreign markets.’
  • In his administration, notes Jadunath Sarkar, he ‘brought peace and order to his country, assured the protection of women’s honor and the religion of all sects without distinction, extended the royal patronage to the truly pious men of all creeds (Muslims included), and presented equal opportunities to all his subjects by opening the public service to talent, irrespective of caste or creed.’
  • According to Lahiri, ‘Having thus failed in Calcutta, the Muslim League selected another venue in the district of Noakhali, where the Hindus were only 18 percent of the total population, for the nefarious deed of arson, loot, abduction and rape of the Hindu women, mass-conversion of faith and killings.’ (Lahiri PC (1964) India Partitioned and Minorities in Pakistan, Writers’ Forum, Calcutta)
  • Shaheedul Haq of the Muslim Students Federation announced the basic creed of Jihad in the most provocative terms, saying, ‘‘for a Muslim the way to haven lay both in killing and being killed by a Hindu.’’... Another leaflet, addressed to Jinnah, read: ‘‘So far we have given sufficient time to Indian infidels. It is time to remove the darkness of infidelity (i.e., Hinduism) and illuminate the whole of universe by resplendent Islam. To accomplish this sublime cause we must slaughter the infidels, as was done in the early days (of Islam in Arabia).’’ Still another leaflet, originated from Calcutta, purportedly contained Jinnah’s instruction ‘for the destruction of Hindu religion and culture, conversion and murder of Hindus, murder of nationalist Muslims (they opposed Partition), Congress leaders and bestial attacks on Hindu women.’
  • Young Hindu and Sikh girls were enslaved and carried away.
  • Whether in Calcutta, Noakhali or the Muslim-dominated Districts of present-day Pakistan, the police—dominated by or exclusively made up of Muslims—maintained indifference and even participated in the vandalism, plunder, arson and killing.
  • Describing the terrible massacre in Lahore in early August 1947, the special correspondent of The Hindustan Times reported: ‘‘Seventy per cent of the casualties of the last three weeks in West Punjab were inflicted by the communally maddened troops and policemen. The victims of their bullets numbered thousands. The massacre at Sheikhupura, which was their handiwork, puts into shade the slaughter at Jalianwala Bagh.’’
  • In fact, from the very beginning, police abetted and even participated in the violence and vandalism against Hindus and Sikhs on the Pakistan side. ... Such was the response of the authority and law enforcement agencies in the pre-Partition violence in Muslim-dominated areas.
  • The issue of the conversion of low-caste Hindus has already been discussed. However, the conversion did not elevate their social standing in the Muslim community. Fazl-i Rabbi, following European leads, was the first Muslim to try to make a case for the willing conversion of the low-caste Hindus to Islam. He, however, founded that conversion did not change their social position and the family status; they still could associate with Muslims of similar status only.
  • Similarly, Ashraf—who sees Islam as a religion of ‘equality and fraternity’ and that it opened doors to low-caste Hindus for rising higher in society—found, based on mostly Islamic sources, that ‘With his conversion to Islam, the average Muslim did not change his old environment, which was deeply influenced by caste distinction and general social exclusiveness.’
  • Wise witnessed in Bengal that some Bediya outcastes of the Hindu society had converted some thirty years ago (c. 1850) and become practising Muslims, ‘but they cannot enter the public mosque or find a place in the public graveyard. From a social point of view they are still aliens with whom no gentleman will associate or eat. The treatment of the Chandal by the Sudra is in no respect more rigorous or harsh than that of the Bediyas by the upper ranks of Muhammadans.’
  • But the coming of Islam to India, argues Nehru, ‘made its caste system, which till then had an element of flexibility in it, more rigid and fixed.’
  • In the attack of Ranthambhor in 1253, Balban captured many slaves, while in the attack of Haryana in 1259, many women and children were enslaved. Balban led expeditions twice against Kampil, Patiali and Bhojpur enslaving large numbers of women and children each time. In Katehar, he captured women and children after a general massacre of the men above eight years of age, notes Ferishtah. In 1260, Balban attacked Ranthambhor, Mewat and Siwalik—proclaiming that those who brought a live captive would receive two silver tankahs and one tankah for the head of a slain infidel. Soon three to four hundred living persons and heads of the slain were brought to his presence, records Ferishtah. While serving under Sultan Nasiruddin (d. 1266), Balban made many attacks against the infidels, but the number of the captives taken by him are not mentioned. However, a guess can be made from the fact that, slaves were so abundant that Sultan Nasiruddin had presented author Minhaj Siraj with forty of them for sending to his sister in Khurasan. Balban became the sultan in 1265 assuming the title of Ghiyasuddin Balban. As the commander of the previous sultan, Balban showed great military prowess, leading numerous expeditions against the infidels. After assuming power, his first job was, as noted already, to exterminate hundreds of thousands of recalcitrant Hindu rebels, the Muwattis etc. He ordered to ‘destroy the villages of the marauders, to slay the men, to make prisoners of the women and children.’
  • Next, Sultan Alauddin Khilji (r. 1296–1316) beat all earlier sultans in the capture of slaves. He sent a large expedition to Gujarat in 1299 sacking all major cities and towns: Naharwala, Asaval, Vanmanthali, Surat, Cambay and Somnath. According to the records of Muslim chroniclers Isami and Barani, he acquired great plunders and a large number of captives of both sexes. In the sack and plunder of Somnath alone, testifies Wassaf, the Muslim army ‘took captive a great number of handsome and elegant maidens, amounting to 20,000’ as well as ‘the children of both sexes.’ Ranthambhor was attacked in 1301 and Chittor in 1303. In the Chittor invasion, 30,000 people were massacred; and as a standard practice, their women and children were enslaved although some of the Rajput women had committed Jauhar. Large numbers of slaves were captured in the expeditions to Malwa, Sevana and Jalor between 1305 and 1311. Sultan Alauddin also captured slaves in his expedition to Rajasthan. During his reign, capturing slaves became like a child’s play as Amir Khasrau puts it, ‘the Turks whenever they please, can seize, buy or sell any Hindu.’ So stupendous was his slave-taking that he had ‘50,000 slave boys in his personal service’ and ‘70,000 slaves worked on his buildings,’ record Afif and Barani, respectively. Barani testifies that ‘fresh batches of captives were constantly arriving’ in the slave-markets of Delhi during Alauddin’s reign.’
  • In 1320, the Tughlaqs captured power. Muhammad Shah Tughlaq (r. 1325–51), the most learned amongst Muslim rulers of India, was the most powerful rulers of the Sultanate period (1206–1526). His notorious zeal for capturing slaves had even outstripped the feats of Alauddin Khilji. Shihabuddin Ahmad Abbas wrote of his capture of slaves that ‘The Sultan never ceases to show the greatest zeal in making war upon the infidels… Everyday thousand of slaves are sold at a very low price, so great is the number of prisoners.’ During his notorious reign, he undertook numerous expeditions to put down revolts and to bring far-off regions of India under his sway, reaching deep into South India and Bengal. He also brutally put down sixteen major rebellions. Many of these expeditions brought great booty, which invariably included slaves in large numbers. Slaves were so abundant that the sultan had sent ten female slaves to traveler Ibn Battutah on his arrival in Delhi. The sultan sent a diplomatic mission to the Chinese emperor, led by Battutah, with a caravan of gifts, which included ‘a hundred white slaves, a hundred Hindu dancing- and singing-girls…’ Sending slaves as gifts to the caliphs and rulers overseas was also a common practice during Sultan Iltutmish and Feroz Tughlaq (d. 1388). Ibn Battutah testifies that the sultan used to accumulate slaves round the year and marry them off during the celebration of two major Islamic festivals, the Eid.dccxviii This was obviously aimed at swelling the Muslim population in India.
  • Following the Sayyids, the Lodi dynasty (1451–1526) re-established the authority of the sultanate and continued the practice of enslavement as usual. Sultan Bahlul, founder of the dynasty, ‘turned a free-booter and with his gains from plunder built up a strong force.’ In his assault against Nimsar (in Hardoi district), he ‘depopulated it by killing and enslaving its people.’ His successor Sikandar Lodi produced the same spectacle in Rewa and Gwalior regions.
  • Said Khan Chaghtai, a noble of Jahangir, had ‘possessed 1,200 eunuch slaves alone,’ according to multiple testimonies. Jahangir had sent some 200,000 Indian captives to Iran for sale in 1619–20 alone.
  • Under next Emperor Shah Jahan, the condition of the Hindu peasants had become unbearable. European traveler Manrique witnessed in Mughal India that the tax-collectors were carrying away destitute peasants along with their children and wives ‘to various markets and fairs’ for selling them to realize the tax. French physician and traveler Francois Bernier, who spend twelve years in India and was Emperor Aurangzeb’s personal doctor, affirms the same. He wrote of unfortunate peasants, who were incapable of paying taxes, that their children ‘were carried away as slave.’dccxxxv During Aurangzeb’s reign (1658–1707), considered devastating to the Hindus, some 22,000 young boys were emasculated in 1659 alone in the city of Golkunda (Hyderabad).dccxxxvi They were to be given to Muslim rulers and governors, or sold in slave-markets.
  • The suffering of captives has been vividly recounted in an eyewitness account of Ulugh Khan Balban’s attack of King Kanhardeva of Jalor (Rajasthan), documented by Prabandha, a fifteenth-century Indian author. Referring to the large number of women and children taken slaves, tied and huddled together, the author wrote: ‘‘During the day, they bore the heat of the scorching sun, without shade or shelter as they were (in sandy Rajasthan deserts) and shivering cold during the night under the open sky. Children, torn away from their mother’s breasts and homes, were crying. Each one of the captives seems as miserable as the other. Already writhing in agony due to thirst, the pangs of hunger… added to their distress. Some of the captives were sick, some unable to sit up. Some had no shoes to put on and no clothes to wear…’’ He added: ‘‘Some had iron shackles on their feet. Separated from each other, they were huddled together and tied with straps of hide. Children were separated from their parents, wives from their husbands, thrown apart by this cruel raid. Young and old were seen writhing in agony, as loud wailings arose from that part of the camp where they were all huddled up… Weeping and wailing, they were hoping that some miracle might save them even now.’’
  • When deviant Akbar allowed a free choice in religion, many of the Hindus, earlier converted to Islam by force, reverted to their ancestral faith. Muslim women started marrying Hindu men and embrace Hinduism. In one instance, when Emperor Shahjahan was returning from an expedition to Kashmir, he discovered that Hindu men in Bhadauri and Bhimbar were marrying Muslim women as a part of social custom. And some of the women had adopted the faith of their Hindu husbands. Shahjahan declared such promiscuous marriages illegal and ordered his officers to separate the Muslim women from their Hindu husbands.
    • Sharma SS (2004) Caliphs and Sultans: Religious Ideology and Political Praxis, Rupa & Co, New Delhi
  • Following the extermination of the Godless Umayyad dynasty in 750, the more orthodox rulers often converted Hindus at the pain of death. Saffaride ruler Yakub Lais captured Kabul in 870 and took the prince of Kabul prisoner. He put the king of Ar-Rukhaj to death, destroyed and plundered the temples and the inhabitants were forced to embrace Islam. He returned to his capital loaded with booty, which included heads of three kings and many statues of Indian divinities.
    • Elliot & Dawson, Vol. II, 419

Quotes about M. A. Khan[edit]

  • I am only half-way through your book, Islamic Jihad, but it is of such magnitude that I must congratulate on an extraordinary work. Your work is in depth and has a great scope. Much of the historical material is largely unknown and greatly needed. I believe that you have done a remarkable job on slavery. Your work is a blessing to humanity.
  • This book, I believe, will be a very important contribution for making a thorough understanding of the rising challenges both Muslim and non-Muslim world faces from Islamic extremists."
  • "This is a must read book, very important and eloquently written, that sheds light on the violent imperialist nature of jihad: a main doctrine in Islam that can only be accomplished at the expense of violating human rights of non-Muslims as well as Muslims."

External links[edit]