Slavery in India

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There is evidence of the existence of slavery in India or personal circumstances resembling slavery and bonded-servitude since ancient times. Historical examinations have largely emphasized the intensification or growth of this institution during the period of Muslim control of northern India.


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Quotes[edit]

A[edit]

  • Everybody infers that Islam must be free from slavery and caste. Regarding slavery nothing needs to be said. It stands abolished now by law. But while it existed much of its support was derived from Islam and Islamic countries. (228-230)
  • This also is remarkable in India, that all Indians are free, and no Indian at all is a slave. In this the Indians agree with the Lacedaemonians. Yet the Lacedaemonians have Helots for slaves, who perform the duties of slaves; but the Indians have no slaves at all, much less is any Indian a slave.
    • Arrian, Anabasis Alexandri, Book VII : Indica, as translated by Edgar Iliff Robson (1929), p. 335
  • The slaves added to the growing Muslim population of India.
    • Ashraf, Kunwar Muhammad, Life and Conditions of the People of Hindustan, Calcutta, 1935. quoted from Lal, K. S. (1994). Muslim slave system in medieval India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 6

B[edit]

  • There are two trade marts on the land route between Hindustan and Khurasan; one is Kabul, the other, Qandhar... from Hindustan, come every year caravans... bringing slaves (barda) and other commodities, and sell them at great profit...
    • Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur , Baburnama, quoted from Lal, K. S. (1999). Theory and practice of Muslim state in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 4
  • In short, female slaves were captured or obtained in droves throughout the year. Such was their influx that Ibn Battuta appears having got bored of them when he wrote: “At (one) time there arrived in Delhi some female infidel captives, ten of whom the Wazir sent to me. I gave one of them to the man who had brought them to me, but he was not satisfied. My companion took three young girls, and I do not know what happened to the rest.” “Thousands of non-Muslim women were captured during the yearly campaigns of Firoz Tughlaq” and under him the Id celebrations were held on lines similar to those of his predecessor. Their sale outside, especially during the Hajj season, brought profits to the state and Muslim merchants. Their possession within, inflated the harems of Muslim kings and nobles beyond belief.
    • Ibn Battuta quoted from Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 7
  • Ibn Battutah while in Bengal says that a pretty kaniz (slave girl) could be had there for one gold dinar (or 10 silver tankahs). "I purchased at this price a very beautiful slave girl whose name was Ashura. A friend of mine also bought a young slave named Lulu for two gold coins."
    • Ibn Battuta Quoted from Lal, K. S. (1999). Theory and practice of Muslim state in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 4
  • [Ibn Battuta’s eyewitness account of the Sultan’s arranging the enslaved girls’ marriages with Muslims on a large scale on the occasion of the two Ids, confirms the statement of Abbas:] “First of all, daughters of Kafir (Hindu) Rajas captured during the course of the year, come and sing and dance. Thereafter they are bestowed upon Amirs and important foreigners. After this daughters of other Kafirs dance and sing… the Sultan gives them to his brothers, relatives, sons of Maliks etc. On the second day the durbar is held in a similar fashion after Asr. Female singers are brought out… the Sultan distributes them among the Mameluke Amirs. On the third day relatives of the Sultan are married and they are given rewards. On the sixth day male and female slaves are married. On the seventh day he (the Sultan) gives charities with great liberality.”
    • Ibn Battuta Quoted from Lal, K. S. (1990). Indian muslims: Who are they.
  • After this I proceeded to the city of Barwan, in the road to which is a high mountain, covered with snow and exceedingly cold; they call it the Hindu Kush, that is Hindu-slayer, because most of the slaves brought thither from India die on account of the intenseness of the cold.
    • Ibn Battuta, Chapter XIII, Rihla – Khorasan: Ibn Battuta; Samuel Lee (Translator) (2010). The Travels of Ibn Battuta: In the Near East, Asia and Africa. Cosimo (Reprint). pp. 97–98. ISBN 978-1-61640-262-4.; Columbia University
  • Writing about the days of Sultan Muhammad bin Tughlaq (1325-51), Shihabuddin Al-Umari writes:
    “The Sultan never ceases to show the greatest zeal in making war upon the infidels… Every day thousands of slaves are sold at a very low price, so great is the number of prisoners… (that) the value at Delhi of a young slave girl, for domestic service, does not exceed eight tankahs. Those who are deemed fit to fill the parts of domestic and concubine sell for about fifteen tankahs. In other cities prices are still lower…” Probably it was so because Ibn Battuta while in Bengal says that a pretty Kaniz (slave girl) could be had there for one gold dinar (or 10 silver tankahs). “I purchased at this price a very beautiful slave girl whose name was Ashura. A friend of mine also bought a young slave named Lulu for two gold coins.”32...Umari continues, “but still, in spite of low price of slaves, 20000 tankahs, and even more, are paid for young Indian girls. I inquired the reason… and was told that these young girls are remarkable for their beauty, and the grace of their manners.”
    • Battuta, Mahdi Husain, 235; Quaunah Turks, 155 n. ; Masalik-ul-Absar, E.D., III, 580-81. (Shihabuddin al-Umri, Masalik-ul-Absar fi Mumalik-ul-Amar) quoted from Lal, K. S. (1994). Muslim slave system in medieval India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 10
  • Muhammad bin Tughlaq became notorious for enslaving captives, and his reputation in this regard spread far and wide... Ibn Battuta’s eye-witness account of the Sultan’s arranging marriages of enslaved girls with Muslims on a large scale on the two Ids confirms the statement of Al Umri. “First of all,” writes he, “daughters of Kafir (Hindu) Rajas captured during the course of the year, come, sing and dance. Thereafter they are bestowed upon Amirs and important foreigners. After this the daughters of other Kafirs dance and sing… the Sultan gives them to his brothers, relatives sons of Maliks etc. On the sixth day male and female slaves are married.” It was a general practice for Hindu girls of good families to learn the art of dancing. It was a sort of religious rite. They used to dance during weddings, festivals and Pujas at home and in temples. This art was turned ravenous under their Muslim captors or buyers.
    • Masalik-ul-Absar, E and D, III, p. 580. Ibn Battuta, p. 63, Hindi version by S.A.A. Rizvi in Tughlaq Kalin Bharat, Part I, Aligarh, p. 189. quoted from Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 7
  • Muhammad bin Tughlaq became notorious for enslaving women and his reputation in this regard spread far and wide. Ibn Battuta who visited India during his reign and stayed at the Court for a long time writes:
    “At (one) time there arrived in Delhi some female infidel captives, ten of whom the Vazir sent to me. I gave one of them to the man who had brought them to me… My companion took three girls, and - I do not know what happened to the rest.” On the large scale distribution of girl slaves on the occasion of Muslim festivals like Id, he writes: “First of all, daughters of Kafir (Hindu) Rajas captured during the course of the year, come and sing and dance. Thereafter they are bestowed upon Amirs and important foreigners. After this daughters of other Kafirs dance and sing… The Sultan gives them to his brothers, relatives, sons of Maliks etc. On the second day the durbar is held in a similar fashion after Asr. Female singers are brought out… the Sultan distributes them among the Mameluke Amirs…” Thousands of non-Muslim women were distributed in the above manner in later years.
    • Ibn Battuta, 123. quoted from Lal, K. S. (1994). Muslim slave system in medieval India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 12
  • [The Mughals maintained] “a large army for the purpose of keeping people in subjection… No adequate idea can be conveyed of the sufferings of the people. The cudgel and the whip compel them to incessant labour… their revolt or their flight is only prevented by the presence of a military force.”
    • François Bernier. Travels in the Mogul Empire. Quoted from Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 4
  • The unfortunate peasants who were incapable of discharging the demand of their rapacious lords, were bereft of their children who were carried away as slaves.
    • François Bernier, quoted from Lal, K. S. (1999). Theory and practice of Muslim state in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 4
  • “At most periods of her history India, though a cultural unit, has been torn by internecine war. In statecraft, her rulers were cunning and unscrupulous. Famine, flood and plague visited her from time to time, and killed millions of her people. Inequality of birth was given religious sanction, and the lot of the humble was generally hard. Yet our overall impression is that in no other part of the ancient world were the relations of man and man, and of man and the state, so fair and humane. In no other early civilisation were slaves so few in number, and in no other ancient lawbook are their rights so well protected as in the Arthasastra. No other ancient lawgiver proclaimed such noble ideals of fair play in battle as did Manu. In all her history of warfare Hindu India has few tales to tell of cities put to the sword or of the massacre of non-combatants…There was sporadic cruelty and oppression no doubt, but, in comparison with conditions in other early cultures, it was mild. To us the most striking feature of ancient Indian civilisation is its humanity.” (pp.8-9)].
    • A.L.Basham in his “The Wonder That Was India” quoted in [1] [This article is a major extract from the article "Sita Ram Goel, memories and ideas" by S. Talageri, written for the Sita Ram Goel Commemoration Volume, entitled "India's Only Communalist", edited by Koenraad Elst, published in 2005.

C[edit]

  • When Muhammad bin Qasim invaded Sind, he took captives wherever he went and sent many prisoners, especially women prisoners, to his homeland. Parimal Devi and Suraj Devi, the two daughters of Raja Dahir, who were sent to Hajjaj to adorn the harem of the Caliph, were part of a large bunch of maidens remitted as one-fifth share of the state (Khums) from the booty of war (Ghanaim). The Chachnama gives the details. After the capture of the fort of Rawar, Muhammad bin Qasim “halted there for three day, during which time he masscered 6,000 …men. Their followers and dependents, as well as their women and children were taken prisoner.” When the (total) number of prisoners was calculated, it was found to amount to thirty thousand persons (Kalichbeg has sixty thousand), amongst whom thirty were the daughters of the chiefs. They were sent to Hajjaj. The head of Dahir and the fifth part of prisoners were forwarded in charge of the Black Slave Kaab, son of Mubarak Rasti.96 In Sind itself female slaves captured after every campaign of the marching army, were married to Arab soldiers who settled down in colonies established in places like Mansura, Kuzdar, Mahfuza and Multan. The standing instructions of Hajjaj to Muhammad bin Qasim were to “give no quarter to infidels, but to cut their throats”, and take the women and children as captives. In the final stages of the conquest of Sind, “when the plunder and the prisoners of war were brought before Qasim… one-fifth of all the prisoners were chosen and set aside; they were counted as amounting to twenty thousand in number… (they belonged to high families) and veils were put on their faces, and the rest were given to the soldiers”.97 Obviously, a few lakhs of women were enslaved and distributed among the elite and the soldiers.
    • Chachnama, in Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 7
  • At the time of Muhammad bin Qasim’s invasion of Sindh the head of the State was the Caliph and prisoners taken in Sindh were regularly forwarded to him. Kufi, the author of the Chachnama, rightly sums up the position. Out of the total catch, four-fifths was the share of the soldiers, “what remained of the cash and slaves was… sent to Hajjaj (the Governor of Iraq )” for onward transportation to the Khalifa. In such a situation any special acquisition had to be paid for in cash. Muhammad bin Qasim who wished to possess Raja Dahir’s wife Ladi, avers the Chachnama, “purchased her out of the spoils, before making her his wife.” But the price he paid is not mentioned. Similarly, when Hajjaj sent 60,000 slaves captured in India to the Caliph Walid I (705-715 C.E.), the latter “sold some of those female slaves of royal birth”,5 but again their price has not been specified.
    • Chachnama, trs. Mirza Kalichbeg Fredunbeg, in Lal, K. S. (1994). Muslim slave system in medieval India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 10
  • During the Arab invasion of Sindh (712 C.E.), Muhammad bin Qasim first attacked Debal, a word derived from Deval meaning temple. It was situated on the sea-coast not far from modern Karachi. It was garrisoned by 4000 Kshatriya soldiers and served by 3000 Brahmans. All males of the age of seventeen and upwards were put to the sword and their women and children were enslaved. “700 beautiful females, who were under the protection of Budh (that is, had taken shelter in the temple), were all captured with their valuable ornaments, and clothes adorned with jewels.” Muhammad despatched one-fifth of the legal spoil to Hajjaj which included seventy-five damsels, the rest four-fifths were distributed among the soldiers. Thereafter whichever places he attacked like Rawar, Sehwan, Dhalila, Brahmanabad and Multan, Hindu soldiers and men with arms were slain, the common people fled, or, if flight was not possible, accepted Islam, or paid the poll tax, or died with their religion. Many women of the higher class immolated themselves in Jauhar, most others became prize of the victors. These women and children were enslaved and converted, and batches of them were dispatched to the Caliph in regular installments.
    • Chachnama, in Lal, K. S. (1994). Muslim slave system in medieval India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 3

F[edit]

  • William Finch writing at Agra in about 1610 says that “in hunting the men of the jungle were on the same footing as the beasts” and whatever was taken in the game was the king’s shikar (or game), whether men or beasts. “Men remain the King’s slaves which he sends yearly to Kabul to barter for horses and dogs.”
    • William Finch in Foster, Early Travels in India; quoted from Lal, K. S. (1994). Muslim slave system in medieval India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 10
  • In 1195 when Raja Bhim of Gujarat was attacked, 20,000 prisoners were captured, and in 1202 at Kalinjar 50,000, “and we may be sure that (as in the case of Arab conquest of Sind) all those who were made slaves were compelled to embrace the religion of the masters to whom they were allotted.” Ferishtah specifically mentions that on the capture of Kalinjar “fifty thousand Kaniz va ghulam, having suffered slavery, were rewarded with the honour of Islam”. According to Ferishtah three to four hundred thousand Khokhars and Tirahias were also converted to Islam by Muhammad Ghori.
    • Firishta, quoted in Lal, K. S. (1990). Indian muslims: Who are they.
  • In the expedition to Thaneshwar (1015), according to Farishtah, “the Muhammadan army brought to Ghaznin 200,000 captives, so that the capital (Ghaznin) looked like an Indian city, for every soldier of the army had several slaves and slave girls”.
    • Mahmud of Gahzni. Firishta, quoted in Lal, K. S. (1994). Muslim slave system in medieval India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 10

G[edit]

  • Having subjugated Khuraasaan, Babar terrified Hindustaan
    So that blame does not come on Him, the Creator has sent the Mughal as the messenger of death
    So great was the slaughter, such the agony of the people, even then You felt no compassion, Lord?
    If some powerful man strikes another, one feels no grief But when a powerful tiger slaughters a flock of helpless sheep, its master must answer
    This jewel of a country has been laid waste and defiled by dogs, so much so that no one pays heed even to the dead…
    Guru Nanak proceeds to describe how the oppressors shaved off the maidens, their ‘heads with braided hair, with vermillion marks in the parting’; how ‘their throats were choked with dust’; how they were cast out of their palatial homes, unable now to sit even in the neighbourhood of their homes; how those who had come to the homes of their husbands in palanquins, decorated with ivory, who lived in the lap of luxury, had been tied with ropes around their necks; how their pearl strings had been shattered; how the very beauty that was their jewel had now become their enemy – ordered to dishonour them, the soldiers had carried them off. ‘Since Babar’s rule has been proclaimed,’ Guru Nanak wrote, ‘even the princes have no food to eat.’
    • Guru Granth Sahib, quoted from Shourie, Arun (2014). Eminent historians: Their technology, their line, their fraud. Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India : HarperCollins Publishers.
  • Firuz Shah Tughlaq organised an industry out of catching slaves. Shams-i-Siraj Afif writes in his Tarikh-i-Firuz Shahi: “The Sultan commanded his great fief-holders and officers to capture slaves whenever they were at war (that is, suppressing Hindu rebellions), and to pick out and send the best for the service of the court. The chiefs and officers naturally exerted themselves in procuring more and more slaves and a great number of them were thus collected. When they were found to be in excess, the Sultan sent them to important cities… It has been estimated that in the city and in the various fiefs, there were 1,80,000 slaves… The Sultan created a separate department with a number of officers for administering the affairs of these slaves.”. Firuz Shah beat all previous records in his treatment of the Hindus... He records another instance in which Hindus who had built new temples were butchered before the gate of his palace, and their books, images, and vessels of Worship were publicly burnt. According to him “this was a warning to all men that no zimmi could follow such wicked practices in a Musulman country”. Afif reports yet another case in which a Brahmin of Delhi was accused of “publicly performing idol-worship in his house and perverting Mohammedan women leading them to become infidels”. The Brahmin “was tied hand and foot and cast into a burning pile of faggots”. The historian who witnessed this scene himself expresses his satisfaction by saying, “Behold the Sultan’s strict adherence to law and rectitude, how he would not deviate in the least from its decrees.”
    • Quoted from Goel, Sita Ram (2001). The story of Islamic imperialism in India. ISBN 9788185990231

H[edit]

  • The pressure of new circumstances led initially to large-scale slave-trading and the emergence of slave labour during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The numbers of slaves in the Sultans' establishments were very high (50,000 under Alauddin Khilji, and 180,000 under Firuz Tughluq). Barani judges the level of prices by referring to slave prices, and the presence of slaves was almost all-pervasive.
    • Irfan Habib: Essays in Indian History, quoted in Koenraad Elst, Decolonizing the Hindu Mind, Rupa 2001, p. 417
  • "The evidence for such enslavement is there for all to see. So economically important was it that the success of military campaigns was often judged by the number of captives (burdas) obtained for enslavement. Qutbuddin Aibak's campaign in Gujarat in 1195 netted him 20,000 slaves, seven years later a campaign against Kalinjar yielded 50,000. In 1253 Balban obtained countless 'horses and slaves' from an expedition in Kalinjar. In the instructions that Alauddin Khalji is said to have issued to Malik Kafur before his campaigns in the Deccan it is assumed that 'horses and slaves' would form a large part of the booty. As the Sultanate began to be consolidated, the suppression of mawas or rebellious villages within its limits yielded a continuously rich harvest of slaves. Balban's successful expedition in the Doab made slaves cheap in the capital. How people of the village could be made slaves for nonpayment of revenue is described in the 14th century sources; and women so enslaved are mentioned in different contexts in two others".
    • Irfan Habib quoted in Lal, K. S. (1999). Theory and practice of Muslim state in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 7
  • For example, after Rawar was taken Muhammad Qasim “halted there for three days during which he massacred 6000 (men). Their followers and dependents, as well as their women and children were taken prisoner.” Later on “the slaves were counted, and their number came to 60, 000 (of both sexes?). Out of these, 30 were young ladies of the royal blood… Muhammad Qasim sent all these to Hajjaj” who forwarded them to Walid the Khalifa. “He sold some of these female slaves of royal birth, and some he presented to others.” Selling of slaves was a common practice... In Brahmanabad, “it is said that about six thousand fighting men were slain, but according to others sixteen thousand were killed”, and their families enslaved. The garrison in the fort-city of Multan was put to the sword, and families of the chiefs and warriors of Multan, numbering about six thousand, were enslaved.... In the final stages of the conquest of Sindh, “when the plunder and the prisoners of war were brought before Qasim… one-fifth of all the prisoners were chosen and set aside; they were counted as amounting to twenty thousand in number… (they belonged to high families) and veils were put on their faces, and the rest were given to the soldiers”. Obviously a few lakh women were enslaved in the course of Arab invasion of Sindh.
    • Mohammad Habib, “The Arab conquest of Sind.” quoted from Lal, K. S. (1994). Muslim slave system in medieval India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 3
  • In Hindustan British rule has abolished slavery, but it nevertheless exists in noble families, where the slaves seem willingly to assent to their condition of bondage.
    • Hughes, T.P., Dictionary of Islam, W.H. Allen & Co., London, 1885

K[edit]

  • The Turks, whenever they please, can seize them, buy them and sell them at will... The Hindu happens to be a (wretched) slave in all respects.
    • Amir Khusrau, in his Nub Sipehr quoted in Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Amir Khusrau, Nub Sipehr, Wahid Mirza ed., Calcutta, 1998, Sipehr II, pp. 89, 130-131.
  • Likewise, gleefully describing the Hindu predicament under the Sultanate, Amir Khusrau puts this statement into the mouth of a subdued Raja; ‘Thanks to the perennial, well established convention of the world, the Hindu has all along been a game of the Turks. The relationship between the Turk and the Hindu cannot be described better than that the Turk is like a tiger and the Hindu, a deer. It has been a long established rule of the whirling sky that the Hindus exist for the sake of the Turk. Being triumphant over them, whenever the Turk chooses to make an inroad upon them, he catches them, buys them, and sells them at will. Since the Hindu happens to be a (wretched) slave in all respects, none need exercise force on his slave. It does not become one to scowl at a goat which is being reared for one’s meals. Why should one wield a sharp sword for one who will die by (just) a fierce look?’
    • Amir Khusrow, quoted from Harsh Narain, Myths of Composite Culture and Equality of Religions (1990) p. 17 [2]
  • [It was composed in mid-fifteenth century and records the exploits of King Kanhardeva of Jalor against Alauddin’s General Ulugh Khan who had attacked Gujarat in 1299 and taken a number of prisoners. In the Sorath (Saurashtra) region] “they made people captive - Brahmanas and children, and women, in fact, people of all (description)… huddled them and tied them by straps of raw hide. The number of prisoners made by them was beyond counting. The prisoners’ quarters (bandikhana) were entrusted to the care of the Turks.” ... “During the day they bore the heat of the scorching sun, without shade or shelter as they were [in the sandy desert region of Rajasthan], and the shivering cold during the night under the open sky. Children, tom away from their mother’s breasts and homes, were crying. Each one of the captives seemed 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. …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, the 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.”
    • Kanhadade Prabandha Quoted from Lal, K. S. (1994). Muslim slave system in medieval India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 5

L[edit]

  • When Muhammad bin Qasim mounted his attack on Debal in 712, all males of the age of seventeen and upwards were put to the sword and their women and children were enslaved.
    • Lal, K. S. (1994). Muslim slave system in medieval India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.
  • Akbar had prohibited enslavement and sale of women and children of peasants who had defaulted in payment of revenue. He knew, as Abul Fazl says, that many evil hearted and vicious men either because of ill-founded suspicion or sheer greed, used to proceed to villages and mahals and sack them.
    • Lal, K. S. (2012). Indian muslims: Who are they.
  • The process of enslavement during war went on under the Khaljis and the Tughlaqs. Alauddin had 50,000 slaves some of whom were mere boys, and surely many captured during war. Firoz Tughlaq had issued an order that whichever places were sacked, in them the captives should be sorted out and the best ones (fit for service with the Sultan) should be forwarded to the court. Soon he was enabled to collect 180,000 slaves. Ziyauddin Barani’s description of the Slave Market in Delhi (such markets were there in other places also) during the reign of Alauddin Khalji, shows that fresh batches of slaves were constantly replenishing them.
    • Lal, K. S. (2012). Indian muslims: Who are they.
  • In the preceding pages it has been seen how women and children were special targets for enslavement throughout the medieval period, that is, during Muslim invasions and Muslim rule. Captive children of both sexes grew up as Muslims and served the sultans, nobles and men of means in various captives. Enslavement of young women was also due to many reasons; their being sex objects was the primary consideration and hence concentration on their captivity..... Forcible marriages, euphemistically called matrimonial alliances, were common throughout the medieval period. Only some of them find mention in Muslim chronicles with their bitter details...It is therefore no wonder that from the day the Muslim invaders marched into India to the time when their political power declined, women were systematically captured and enslaved throughout the length and breadth of the country.
    • K.S. Lal, Lal, K. S. (1994). Muslim slave system in medieval India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. ch. 12.
  • In India from the days of Muhammad bin Qasim in the eighth century to those of Ahmad Shah Abdali in the eighteenth, enslavement, distribution and sale of Hindu women and children was systematically practised by Muslim invaders and rulers of India. A few lakh women were enslaved in the course of Arab invasion of Sindh. .... In Muhammad Ghauri's invasion of Gujarat 20,000 prisoners were captured and in 1202 at Kalinjar 50,000 kaniz wa ghulam. Under the Khaljis and Tughlaqs thousands of non-Muslim women were captured in never-ceasing campaigns....Throughout the medieval period in the North, South, East and West women-capturing or purchasing was a major pleasure activity of the ruling class. No wonder that mainly through this activity 2,000 women were inducted into the harem of a nobleman (e.g. Khan Jahan Maqbul, Wazir of Firoz Shah Tughlaq), another 2,000 into the harem of a prince (e.g. Alam Shah, son of Aurangzeb), and 5,000 into that of a king (e.g. Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar).
    • Lal, K. S. (1999). Theory and practice of Muslim state in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 4
  • The Arab invader of Sindh Muhammad bin Qasim sent to the Khalifa Walid I, his (one-fifth) share of captives of both sexes. The latter sold many of them and distributed the others among his officers. Mahmud Ghaznavi took captive men and Women in all his campaigns in India. He took 50,000 slaves in one campaign, 53,000 in another and 200,000 in a third one. He sold them for two to three dirhams (silver coin) each in the slave markets of Ghazni, Khurasan and other places. All the proceeds from such sales were deposited in the Amir's treasury. Under Aibak, Iltutmish, and Balban the captives were sold after every campaign. For example, when Muhammad Ghauri and Qutbuddin Aibak mounted a combined attack on the Salt Range, a large number of captives were taken "so that five Hindu (Khokhar) slaves could be bought for a dinar." Many more were also sold in "Khurasan, not long after".
    • Lal, K. S. (1999). Theory and practice of Muslim state in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 4, quoting Hasan Nizami, Taj-ul-Maasir
  • All sultans were keen on making slaves, but Muhammad Tughlaq became notorious for enslaving people. He appears to have outstripped even Alauddin Khalji and his reputation in this regard spread far and wide. Shihabuddin Ahmad Abbas writes about him thus:
    “The Sultan never ceases to show the greatest zeal in making war upon infidels… Everyday thousands of slaves are sold at a very low price, so great is the number of prisoners”. Muhammad Tughlaq did not only enslave people during campaigns, he was also very fond of purchasing and collecting foreign and Indian slaves. According to Ibn Battuta one of the reasons of estrangement between Muhammad Tughlaq and his father Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq, when Muhammad was still a prince, was his extravagance in purchasing slaves. Even as Sultan, he made extensive conquests. He subjugated the country as far as Dwarsamudra, Malabar, Kampil, Warangal, Lakhnauti, Satgaon, Sonargaon, Nagarkot and Sambhal to give only few prominent place-names. There were sixteen major rebellions in his reign which were ruthlessly suppressed. In all these conquests and rebellions, slaves were taken with great gusto. For example, in the year 1342 Halajun rose in rebellion in Lahore. He was aided by the Khokhar chief Kulchand. They were defeated. “About three hundred women of the rebels were taken captive, and sent to the fort of Gwalior where they were seen by Ibn Battutah.” Such was their influx that Ibn Battutah writes: “At (one) time there arrived in Delhi some female infidel captives, ten of whom the Vazir sent to me. I gave one of them to the man who had brought them to me, but he was not satisfied. My companion took three young girls, and I do not know what happened to the rest.” Iltutmish, Muhammad Tughlaq and Firoz Tughlaq sent gifts of slaves to Khalifas outside India. .... Ibn Battutah’s eye-witness account of the Sultan’s gifting captured slave girls to nobles or arranging their marriages with Muslims on a large scale on the occasion of the two Ids, corroborates the statement of Abbas. Ibn Battutah writes that during the celebrations in connection with the two Ids in the court of Muhammad bin Tughlaq, daughters of Hindu Rajas and those of commoners, captured during the course of the year were distributed among nobles, officers and important foreign slaves. “On the fourth day men slaves are married and on the fifth slave-girls. On the sixth day men and women slaves are married off.” This was all in accordance with the Islamic law. According to it, slaves cannot many on their own without the consent of their proprietors. The marriage of an infidel couple is not dissolved by their jointly embracing the faith. In the present case the slaves were probably already converted and their marriages performed with the initiative and permission the Sultan himself were valid. Thousands of non-Muslim women were captured by the Muslims in the yearly campaigns of Firoz Tughlaq, and under him the id celebrations were held on lines similar to those of his predecessor. In short, under the Tughlaqs the inflow of women captives never ceased.
    • Lal, K. S. (1994). Muslim slave system in medieval India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 5 (quoting Masalik-ul-Absar, E.D., III, 580., Battutah)
  • The Portuguese in this matter as in others followed the custom of the country: Linschoten recorded that they (Portuguese in Goa) never worked, but employed slaves, who were sold daily in the market like beasts, and della Valle notes that the ‘greatest part’ of people in Goa were slaves.
    • Linschoten , Pietro della Valle, quoted in Moreland, India at the Death of Akbar. Quoted in Lal, K. S. (1994). Muslim slave system in medieval India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 10
  • From the day India became a target of Muslim invaders its people began to be enslaved in droves to be sold in foreign lands or employed in various capacities on menial and not-so-menial jobs within the country. To understand this phenomenon it is necessary to go into the origins and development of the Islamic system of slavery. For, wherever the Muslims went, mostly as conquerors but also as traders, there developed a system of slavery peculiar to the clime, terrain and populace of the place.
    • K.S.Lai, The Muslim Slave System in Medieval India, Aditya Prakasha, New Delhi, 1994. Quoted in Easy Meat, Inside Britain’s Grooming Gang Scandal by Peter McLoughlin.

M[edit]

  • A Sudra, whether bought or unbought he may do servile work; for he was created by the Self-Existent (Svayambhu) to be the slave of a Brahmana.
    • Manusmriti Chapter VIII. Also see Religions and Religious Freedom in India; Heritage of World Civilization p. 34; Patna University Journal, Volume 10 p.52; The God Juggernaut and Hinduism in India: From a Study of Their Sacred Books and More Than 5,000 Miles of Travel in India
  • Writing about the days of Sultan Muhammad bin Tughlaq (1325-51), Shihabuddin al-Umari writes: "The sultan never ceases to show the greatest zeal in making war upon the infidels... Every day thousands of slaves are sold at a very low price, so great is the number of prisoners .... (that) the value at Delhi of a young slave girl, for domestic service, does not exceed eight tankahs. Those who are deemed fit to fill the parts of domestic and concubine sell for about fifteen tankahs. In other cities prices are still lower..." Umari continues, "but still, in spite of low prices of slaves, 20000 tankahs, and even more, are paid for young Indian girls. I inquired the reason... and was told that these young girls are remarkable for their beauty, and the grace of their manners."
    • Masalik-ul-Absar, E.D. vol. III, pp. 580-81. (Shihabuddin al-Umri, Masalik-ul-Absar fi Mumalik-ul-Amar) Quoted from Lal, K. S. (1994). Muslim slave system in medieval India.
  • It became a fashion to raid a village or group of villages without any obvious justification, and carry off the inhabitants as slaves.
    • W.H. Moreland, India at the Death of Akbar, quoted in Lal, K. S. (1994). Muslim slave system in medieval India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 6
  • Conditions became intolerable by the time of Shahjahan when, according to Manucci, peasants were compelled to sell their women and children to meet the revenue demand. Manrique writes that the peasants were “carried off… to various markets and fairs, (to be sold) with their poor unhappy wives behind them carrying their small children all crying and lamenting to meet the revenue demand… ” Bernier too affirms that the unfortunate peasants who were incapable of discharging the demands of their rapacious lords, were bereft of their children, who were carried away as slaves. Here was also confirmation, if not actually the beginning, of the practice of bonded labour in India.
    • Manucci, II, p. 451.,Manrique II, p. 272., Bernier, p.205., quoted from Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 7, and in Lal, K. S. (1999). Theory and practice of Muslim state in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 4
  • Minhaj Siraj writes that "Ulugh Khan Balban's taking of captives, and his capture of the dependents of the great Ranas cannot be recounted". Such was the scale of slave-taking by Muslims in Hindustan that information about it travelled abroad, so that Wassaf writes that in the sack of Somnath in 1299 the Muslim army "took captive a great number of handsome and elegant maidens, amounting to 20,000 and children of both sexes".
    • Minhaj Siraj, Wassaf, quoted in Lal, K. S. (1999). Theory and practice of Muslim state in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 4

N[edit]

  • History as selective as this leads quickly to unreality. Before Mohammed there is blackness: slavery, exploitation. After Mohammed there is light: slavery and exploitation vanish. But did it? How can that be said or taught? What about all those slaves sent back from Sind to the caliph? What about the descendants of the African slaves who walk about Karachi? There is no adequate answer: so the faith begins to nullify or overlay the real world.
    • Naipaul, V. S. (1981). Among the believers: An Islamic journey. New York: Knopf.

P[edit]

  • In fact, in the plantation areas conditions amounting to slavery were re‑established by the planters with the acquiescence of the Government.Some idea of the misery to which the population of these areas was reduced by this system of merciless exploitation in the interests of British capital may be gained from the Bengal Indigo Commission's Report and from some of the literature of the period. Nil Darpan or the Mirror of Indigo, a Bengali drama, created a sensation by throwing a little light on this dark corner of Britain's action in India, and the reaction in official circles was so great that a European missionary, Mr Long, who translated and published it in English, was fined and imprisoned. During the whole of this period, in fact till the rise of nationalism after the Great War, conditions in plantations were of a kind which showed the worst features of European relations with Asia.
    • K. M. Panikkar. Asia and Western Dominance: a survey of the Vasco Da Gama epoch of Asian history, 1498–1945.

Q[edit]

  • According to Qazvini, Shahjahan’s orders in this regard were that captives were not to be sold to Hindus as slaves, and under Muslim customers they could only become Musalman.
    • Amin Qazvini, Badshah Nama, Ms. Raza Library, Rampur. p.405. cited by Lal, K. S. (1990). Indian muslims: Who are they.

R[edit]

  • And after the Third Battle of Panipat (1761), “the unhappy prisoners were paraded in long lines, given a little parched grain and a drink of water, and beheaded… and the women and children who survived were driven off as slaves - twenty-two thousand, many of them of the highest rank in the land, says the Siyar-ut-Mutakhirin.”
    • H. G. Rawlinson in Cambridge History of India., quoted from Lal, K. S. (1994). Muslim slave system in medieval India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 12

S[edit]

  • The booty captured within the entrenchment was beyond calculation and the regiments of Khans [i.e. 8000 troopers of AbdAli clansmen] did not, as far as possible, allow other troops like the IrAnis and the TurAnis to share in the plunder; they took possession of everything themselves, but sold to the Indian soldiers handsome Brahman women for one tuman and good horses for two tumans each.' The Deccani prisoners, male and female reduced to slavery by the victorious army numbered 22,000, many of them being the sons and other relatives of the sardArs or middle class men. Among them 'rose-limbed slave girls' are mentioned.' Besides these 22,000 unhappy captives, some four hundred officers and 6000 men fled for refuge to ShujA-ud-daulah's camp, and were sent back to the Deccan with monetary help by that nawab, at the request of his Hindu officers. The total loss of the MarAthas after the battle is put at 50,000 horses, captured either by the AfghAn army or the villagers along the route of flight, two hundred thousand draught cattle, some thousands of camels, five hundred elephants, besides cash and jewellery. 'Every trooper of the Shah brought away ten, and sometimes twenty camels laden with money. The captured horses were beyond count but none of them was of value; they came like droves of sheep in their thousands.
    • Jadunath Sarkar, Fall of the Mughal Empire, Volume II, Fourth Edition, New Delhi, 1991, p.210-11
  • (The fetters of slavery that you exhibit on your legs;
    You seem to have fallen in love with this wretched state of hell?
    No doubt, you neither feel bad nor shameful about this state of yours.
    But remember, if you are free, your future generations will lead a life of self-respect;
    But if you embrace your slavery thus, your successors would wallow similarly!)
    • V.D. Savarkar, From his ballad on Tanaji , quoted in Vikram Sampath - Savarkar, Echoes from a Forgotten Past, 1883–1924 (2019)

T[edit]

  • In the month of November (1947), Hindu and Sikh girls brought by Pathan raiders from Kashmir were sold in the bazars of ghulam,” for rupees 10 or so each in the wake of the partition of the country, 1947-48.
    • S.Gurbachan Singh Talib, Muslim League Attack on Sikhs and Hindus in the Punjab 1947, New Delhi, Reprint 1991 (first published 1950), quoted from Lal, K. S. (1994). Muslim slave system in medieval India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 10

U[edit]

  • Mahmud Ghaznavi attacked Waihind in 1001-02, he took 500,000 persons of both sexes as captive. This figure of Abu Nasr Muhammad Utbi, the secretary and chronicler of Mahmud, is so mind-boggling that Elliot reduces it to 5000. The point to note is that taking of slaves was a matter of routine in every expedition. Only when the numbers were exceptionally large did they receive the notice of the chroniclers. So that in Mahmud’s attack on Ninduna in the Punjab (1014), Utbi says that “slaves were so plentiful that they became very cheap; and men of respectability in their native land (India) were degraded by becoming slaves of common shop-keepers (in Ghazni)”. His statement finds confirmation in later chronicles including Nizamuddin Ahmad’s Tabqat-i-Akbari which states that Mahmud “obtained great spoils and a large number of slaves”. ... Thereafter slaves were taken in Baran, Mahaban, Mathura, Kanauj, Asni etc. When Mahmud returned to Ghazni in 1019, the booty was found to consist of (besides huge wealth) 53,000 captives. Utbi says that “the number of prisoners may be conceived from the fact that, each was sold for from two to ten dirhams. These were afterwards taken to Ghazna, and the merchants came from different cities to purchase them, so that the countries of Mawarau-un-Nahr, Iraq and Khurasan were filled with them”. The Tarikh-i-Alfi adds that the fifth share due to the Saiyyads was 150,000 slaves, therefore the total number of captives comes to 750,000. ... In every campaign of Mahmud large-scale massacres preceded enslavement.
    • Utbi, Nizamuddin Ahmad, quoted from Lal, K. S. (1994). Muslim slave system in medieval India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 3
  • Noon had not arrived when the Musulmans had wreaked their vengeance on the infidel enemies of God, killing 15,000 of them, spreading them like a carpet over the ground, and making them food for beasts and birds of prey. Fifteen elephants fell on the field of battle, as their legs, being pierced with arrows, became as motionless as if they had been in a quagmire, and their trunks were cut with the swords of the valiant heroes... The necklace was taken off the neck of Jaipal, - composed of large pearls and shining gems and rubies set in gold, of which the value was two hundred thousand dinars; and twice that value was obtained from necks of those of his relatives who were taken prisoners, or slain, and had become the food of the mouths of hyenas and vultures. Allah also bestowed upon his friends such an amount of booty as was beyond all bounds and all calculation, including five hundred thousand slaves, beautiful men and women. The Sultan returned with his followers to his camp, having plundered immensely, by Allah's aid, having obtained the victory, and thankful to Allah. This splendid and celebrated action took place on Thursday, the 8th of Muharram, 392 H., 27th November, 1001 AD.
    • Defeat of Jaipal by Mahmud of Gahzni. Utbi, Tarikh Yamini in Elliot and Dowson, Vol. II : Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own Historians, 8 Volumes, Allahabad Reprint, 1964. p. 26
  • In one instance specifically Al Utbi gives an idea of the gain from the sale of captives. According to his narrative, Mahmud, after his campaign in Mathura, Mahaban and Kanauj (1018-19), returned to Ghazni with, besides other booty, 53,000 captives and each one of these was sold for two to ten dirhams. From this statement it would be safe to infer that the lowest price at which an Indian captive was sold was two, and the highest ten dirhams. It would also be safe to conclude that slaves were captured by invaders to be sold to make money; for Utbi adds that “Merchants came from different cities to purchase them so that the countries of Mawarau-n-nahr, Iraq and Khurasan were filled with them”. ... Similarly, in the Kashmir Valley (1014 C.E.), according to Utbi, the captives taken “were so plentiful that they became very cheap…” But he does not say how cheaply they were sold. ... Yet, the sale of thousands of slaves after every campaign, as the figures of captives carried away by Mahmud shows, brought good profit to the invader. No wonder that besides treasure, captives also used to be regularly carried away from India during the Ghaznavid occupation of Punjab for making extra money through their sale. This lucrative business continued, and a scion of the house, Sultan Ibrahim (1054-1099), once carried away one lakh captives to Ghazni.
    • Utbi, quoted in Lal, K. S. (1994). Muslim slave system in medieval India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 10
  • The Sultan summoned the most religiously disposed of his followers, and ordered them to attack the enemy immediately. Many infidels were consequently slain or taken prisoners in this sudden attack, and the Musulmans paid no regard to the booty till they had satiated themselves with the slaughter of the infidels and worshippers of the sun and fire. The friends of Allah searched the bodies of the slain for three whole days, in order to obtain booty... The booty amounted in gold and silver, rubies and pearls, nearly to three thousand thousand dirhams, and the number of prisoners may be conceived from the fact, that each was sold for from two to ten dirhams. These were afterwards taken to Ghazna, and merchants came from distant cities to purchase them, so that the countries of Mawarau-n nahr, Irak and Khurasan were filled with them, and the fair and the dark, the rich and the poor, were commingled in one common slavery.
    • Tarikh Yamini (Kitabu-l Yamini) by Al Utbi. Siraswa, town near Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh. Elliot and Dowson, Vol. II : Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own Historians, 8 Volumes, Allahabad Reprint, 1964. p. 49-50

W[edit]

  • 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.
    • André Wink, Al Hind, Vol. I, p. 161
  • Enslavement, however, could be a substitute for death, and invariably the numerous dependent followers and women and children of killed opponents were enslaved. The sources insist that now, in dutiful conformity to religious law, 'the one-fifth of the slaves and spoils' were set apart for the caliph's treasury and despatched to Iraq and Syria. The remainder was scattered among the army of Islam....
    •  Al Hind, André Wink, Vol. I, p. 172

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