Muslim conquest of the Indian subcontinent

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Muslim conquests in the Indian subcontinent mainly took place from the 12th to the 16th centuries, though earlier Muslim conquests made limited inroads into modern Afghanistan and Pakistan as early as the time of the Rajput kingdoms in the 7th century. With the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate, Islam spread across large parts of the subcontinent.

Quotes[edit]

  • [the Muslims] could not rule the country, except by systematic terror. Cruelty was the norm -- burnings, summary executions, crucifixions or impalements, inventive tortures. Hindu temples were destroyed to make way for mosques. On occasion there were forced conversions. If ever there were an uprising, it was instantly and savagely repressed: houses were burned, the countryside was laid waste, men were slaughtered and women were taken as slaves.
    • Fernand Braudel, "A History of Civilizations", 1995.
  • There does not exist a history of ancient India. Their books contain no historical data whatever, except for a few religious books in which historical information is buried under a heap of parables and folk-lore, and their buildings and other monuments also do nothing to fill the void for the oldest among them do not go beyond the third century B.C. To discover facts about India of the ancient times is as difficult a task as the discovery of the island of Atlantis, which, according to Plato, was destroyed due to the changes of the earth... The historical phase of India began with the Muslim invasion. Muslims were India's first historians.
  • From the time Muslims started arriving, around 632 AD, the history of India becomes a long, monotonous series of murders, massacres, spoliations, and destructions. It is, as usual, in the name of 'a holy war' of their faith, of their sole God, that the barbarians have destroyed civilizations, wiped out entire races. Mahmoud Ghazni was an early example of Muslim ruthlessness, burning in 1018 of the temples of Mathura, razing Kanauj to the ground and destroying the famous temple of Somnath, sacred to all Hindus. His successors were as ruthless as Ghazni: 103 temples in the holy city of Benaras were razed to the ground, its marvelous temples destroyed, its magnificent palaces wrecked.
    • Alain Danielou: Histoire de l' Inde
  • The Islamic conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. It is a discouraging tale, for its evident moral is that civilization is a precious good, whose delicate complex of order and freedom, culture and peace, can at any moment be overthrown by barbarians invading from without or multiplying within.
    • Will Durant, The Story of Civilization: Our Oriental Heritage page 459.
  • ...I became more than ever convinced that it was not the sword that won a place for Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the prophet, the scrupulous regard for his pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and his own mission. These, and not the sword carried everything before them and surmounted every trouble.
    • M. K. Gandhi said about the spread of Islam in the 7th century Arabia: Young India, (1924)
  • The magnitude of crimes credited to Muslim monarchs by the medieval Muslim historians, was beyond measure. With a few exceptions, Muslim kings and commanders were monsters who stopped at no crime when it came to their Hindu subjects. But what strikes as more significant is the broad pattern of those crimes. The pattern is that of a jihãd in which the ghãzîs of Islam 1) invade infidel lands; 2) massacre as many infidel men, women, and children, particularly Brahmins, as they like after winning a victory; 3) capture the survivors to be sold as slaves; 4) plunder every place and person; 5) demolish idolatrous places of worship and build mosques in their places; and 6) defile idols which are flung into public squares or made into steps leading to mosques. Still more significant is the fact that this is exactly the pattern 1) revealed by Allah in the Quran; 2) practised, perfected and prescribed by the Prophet in his own life-time; 3) followed by the pious Khalifas of Islam in the first 35 years of Islamic imperialism; 4) elaborated in the Hadis and hundreds of commentaries with meticulous attention to detail; 5) certified by the Ulama and the Sufis of Islam in all ages including our own; and 6) followed by all Muslim monarchs and chieftains who aspired for name and fame in this life, and houris and beardless boys hereafter.
    • Goel, S. R. (2001). The story of Islamic imperialism in India. New Delhi: Voice of India.
  • One may very well ask the purveyors of this puerile propaganda that if the record of Islam in medieval India was so bright and blameless, where is the need for this daily ritual of whitewashing it. Hindu heroes like Chandragupta Maurya, Samudragupta, Harihar, Bukka, Maharana Pratap, and Shivaji, to name only a few of the notables, have never needed any face-lift. Why does the monstrous men of an Alauddin Khalji, a Firuz Shah Tughlaq, a Sikandar Lodi, and an Aurangzeb, to name only the most notorious, pop out so soon from the thickest coat of cosmetics?
    The answer is provided by the Muslim historians of medieval India. They painted their heroes in the indelible dyes of Islamic ideology. They did not anticipate the day when Islamic imperialism in India will become only a painful memory of the past. They did not visualise that the record of Islam in India will one day be weighed on the scales of human values. Now it is too late for trying to salvage Islam in medieval India from its blood-soaked history. The orthodox Muslim historians are honest when they state that the medieval Muslim monarchs were only carrying out the commandments of Islam when they massacred, captured, enslaved, and violated Hindu men, women and children; desecrated, demolished, and destroyed Hindu places of worship; and dispossessed the Hindus of all their wealth. The Aligarh “historians” and their secularist patrons are only trying to prop up imposters in place of real and living characters who played life-size roles in history.
    • Sita Ram Goel: The Story of Islamic Imperialism in India
  • The scale and effectiveness of conversions by force are clearly detailed in al-Kufi's Chachnama (for Muhammad Qasim in Sindh), Utbi's Tarikh-i-Yamini (for Mahmud of Ghazni) Hasan Nizami's Taj-ul-Maasir (for Muhammad Ghauri, Qutbuddin Aibak etc.) and Minhaj Siraj's. Tabqat-i-Nasiri (for the early years of the Sultanate period). All Muslim chronicles from the thirteenth to the eighteenth century write with pride about forcible conversions by rulers and nobles.
    • K.S. Lal, Theory and Practice of Muslim State in India
  • It is important for Pollock that Muslims not be blamed for the decline of Sanskrit. He writes that any theory 'can be dismissed at once' if it 'traces the decline of Sanskrit culture to the coming of Muslim power'. ... In discussing Kashmir as an example... his focus is on the two centuries before the Turks established their power in the Kashmir Valley. Trying to prove the timing of Sanskrit's decline prior to the Turkish invasions enables him to absolve these invasions of any blame... I get the impression that Pollock does not want to dwell on whether Muslim invasions had debilitated the Hindu political and intellectual institutions in the first place.... Throughout Pollock's analysis, hardly any Muslim ruler gets blamed for the destruction of Indian culture. He simply avoids discussing the issue of Muslim invasions and their destructive influence on Hindu institutions... In his discussion of Kashmir, one of the foremost sites for his theory of the death of Sanskrit, he also neglects to mention the two incursions Kashmir faced at the time, one led by the Mongol Dulca from the west and the other by Rinchana from the north. The impact of various invasions in Kashmir was so enormous that it cannot be ignored in any historical analysis. ... The contradiction between his two accounts, published separately, is serious: Muslim invasions created a traumatic enough shockwave to cause Hindu kings to mobilize the 'cult of Rama' and therefore the Hindus funded the production of extensive Ramayana texts for this agenda. And yet, the death of Sanskrit taking place at the same time had little relation to the arrival of Muslims. When Hindus are to be blamed for their alleged hatred towards Muslims, the Muslims are shown to have an important presence; but when Muslims are to be protected from being assigned any responsibility for destruction, they are mysteriously made to disappear from the scene.
    • Rajiv Malhotra, The Battle for Sanskrit (2016)
  • Islam had brought to India a luminous torch which rescued humanity from darkness at a time when old civilizations were on the decline and lofty moral ideals had got reduced to empty intellectual concepts. As in other lands, so in India too, the conquests of Islam were more widespread in the world of thought than in the world of politics. Today, also, the Muslim World is a spiritual brotherhood which is held together by community of faith in the Oneness of God and human equality. Unfortunately, the history of Islam in this country remained tied up for centuries with that of government with the result that a veil was cast over its true spirit, and its fruits and blessings were hidden from the popular eye.
    • N.S. Mehta, Islam and the Indian Civilization
  • The impact of the invaders from the north-west and of Islam on India had been considerable. It had pointed out and shone up the abuses that had crept into Hindu society - the petrification of caste, untouchability, exclusiveness carried to fantastic lengths.
  • The conquering army burnt villages, devastated the land, plundered people’s wealth, took Brahmins and children and women of all classes captive, flogged with thongs of raw hide, carried a moving prison with it, and converted the prisoners into obsequious slaves.
    • Hindu sage Padmanabha described in his KanhaDade Prabandha in 1456 AD the story of the Muslim invasion of Gujarat of 1298 AD
  • (The Muslims had) enriched our culture, strengthened our administration, and brought near distant parts of the country... It (the Muslim Period) touched deeply the social life and the literature of the land.
  • Writing about the Sultanate period, Ishwari Prasad says: 'There was persecution, partly religious and partly political, and a stubborn resistance was offered by the Hindus' The state imposed great disabilities upon the non-Muslims' Instances are not rare in which the non-Muslims were treated with great severity' The practice of their religious rites even with the slightest publicity was not allowed, and cases are on record of men who lost their lives for doing so.'
    • Ishwari Prasad, History of Medieval India (Allahabad, 1940 Edition), pp.509-513. Quoted in K.S. Lal, Legacy of Muslim rule in India
  • According to A.L. Srivastava the Sultanate of Delhi 'was an Islamic State, pure and simple, and gave no religious toleration to the Hindus' and indulged in stifling persecution.' About the Mughal times his conclusion is that 'barring the one short generation under Akbar when the moral and material condition of the people was on the whole good, the vast majority of our population during 1526-1803 led a miserable life.'
    • A.L. Srivastava, The Mughal Empire (Agra, 1964), p.568-571. Quoted in K.S. Lal, Legacy of Muslim rule in India.
  • And, above all, don't let us forget India, the cradle of the human race, or at least of that part of it to which we belong, where first Mohammedans, and then Christians, were most cruelly infuriated against the adherents of the original faith of mankind. The destruction or disfigurement of the ancient temples and idols, a lamentable, mischievous and barbarous act, still bears witness to the monotheistic fury of the Mohammedans, carried on from Mahmud the Ghaznevid of cursed memory down to Aureng Zeb, the fratricide, whom the Portuguese Christians have zealously imitated by destruction of temples and the auto da fe of the inquisition at Goa.
  • The blood of the infidels flowed so copiously at Thanesar that the stream was discoloured, notwithstanding its purity, and people were unable to drink it. The Sultan returned with plunder which is impossible to count.
    • Tarikh-i-Yamini of Utbi the sultan's secretary written in the 11th century
  • From the seventh century onwards and with a peak during Muhammad al-Qasim's campaigns in 712-713 a considerable number of Jats [Hindus] was captured as prisoners of war and deported to Iraq and elsewhere as slaves.
    • Andre Wink, Al Hind, Vol. I, p. 161

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