Muslim chronicles for Indian history

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Muslim chronicles for Indian history are chronicles regarding history of the Indian subcontinent written from Muslim perspective. The chronicles written in Arabic or Persian are valuable sources for Indian history.


  • The chronicles unfortunately do not portray the culture of the ghazis; they give detailed descriptions of battles, but cultural information is confined to the rulers and their courts.
    • Linda T. Darling (2000). Contested Territory: Ottoman Holy War in Comparative Context. Studia Islamica, (91), 133–163. doi:10.2307/1596272
  • The rulers of India, whether Turks, Pathans, or Mughals, used Islamic vocabulary to legitimise their rule in the eyes of their Muslim chiefs and the ‘ulamā. Amīr Taimūr (1336–1405), the Turco-Mongol conqueror who attacked India in 1397–99 with legendary cruelty and devastation, uses purely religious language in defense of his action in his memoir Malfūẓāt-e-Taimūrī.294Ẓahīruddīn Bābar (1483–1530), the first ruler of the Mughal dynasty of India, in his memoir Bābar-Nāmah, also uses the vocabulary of jihad when he confronts the Hindu ruler Rānā Sangrām Singh (1484–1528), the ruler of Mewar, in the battle of Tarain but not when he defeats the Muslim ruler Ibrāhīm Lodhī (r. 1517–1526)... In short, the recourse to the vocabulary of jihad was part of seeking legitimacy through religion if the occasion demanded. The frequency of its use might increase or decrease according to the ruler’s known preferences but it remained a handy resource for most part of Muslim political ascendancy in India.
    • Tariq Rahman - Interpretations of Jihad in South Asia_ An Intellectual History-de Gruyter (2018)
  • The weaknesses of medieval chronicles are well-known. Their style is by and large turgid and ornamental; their narrative is often exaggerated. And this applies as much (if not more) to figures as to facts. A few no doubt are trustworthy but many of them are extremely faulty with regard to figures and statistics ; and almost all of them let their imagination and their pen run riot. Consequently, even when they are not quite reticent on demograghic matters, they are neither very informative nor always reliable.
    • K.S. Lal, Growth of Muslim Population in Medieval India (1973)
  • Ziyauddin Barani is an eye-witness historian, but his figures and data are not always precise. When sometimes he means to convey‘a very large number’, he gives the figure of 100,000.... Let us take another fourteenth century historian, Shams Siraj Afif. If Barani has a weakness for 100,000, Afif is very fond of 180,000, so that the slaves of Firoz Tughlaq numbered 180,000, the revenue from his 1200 gardens was 180,000 tankahs, and in his war with Shamsuddin Ilyas Shah (A.D. 1353), he killed 180,000 men in Bengal. The immensity and coincidence of the numbers create misgivings... It must be emphasised, however, that large figures by themselves, though sometimes frightening, may not always be incorrect.
    • About exagerrated numbers in Muslim chronicles. K.S. Lal, Growth of Muslim Population in Medieval India (1973), 13-14
  • The accounts of the Muslim writers surely suffer from certain weaknesses, The greatest drawback of the early Muslim chroniclers is that they never cared to know about the non- Muslim people of the country. They never even refer to Hindu social order, its caste system, its philosophy or religion. Unlike the later historians like Abul Fazl and Badaoni, who tried to understand the social and cultural milieu of the country, chronicles like Hasan Nizami and Ziyauddin Barani do not refer to the vast majority of the Hindus at all. Only rarely do they speak about them but then only in derogatory terms, which also shows their ignorance.
    • Lal, K. S. (1984). Early Muslims in India. 139
  • Lastly, historiography of the Sultanate period suffered from an extreme narrowness of scope. Early Indo-Muslim historians made history revolve round the great men of religion and government—prophets, sultans, nobles and saints. It never came down to the life and conditions of the common man, the poor, the lowly and the lost. The religious orientation of the works had the effect of further narrowing their scope to the campaigns and adventures of Muslim political and military chiefs in an infidel country. The large majority of the population – the Hindus – figured only on the fringe of such works as infidel enemies, to understand whom the great Al-Biruni had stayed back in India and written a marvel of a book.
    • E. Sreedharan - A Textbook of Historiography, 500 B.C. to A.D. 2000
  • Major Nasseau Lees pleads that the works of such court historians who were hired to extol the virtues of their patrons, should not however be condemned as of little historical worth. He writes: ...a main peculiarity of Muhammadan writers—and which is of the essence of all sound regard for truth the Emperor in modern times who would so truthfully and so frankly record his own follies and vices as the Emperor Jehangir had done in his Memoirs or autobiography...? Where is nowadays the empire in which an author could dare to write of his despot rulers in the unmeasured terms in which Abdal Kadir of Badaon had written of the Emperor Akbar? Where in the whole range of the literature of that period of the world history can we find a more valuable and complete compendium of the political, religious, social, commercial, and agricultural institutions of a nation than is contained in the Akbar compiled by Abul Fazal?
    • Major Nasseau Lees quoted in E. Sreedharan - A Textbook of Historiography, 500 B.C. to A.D. 2000

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