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Ghiyas-ud-Din Zain-ul-Abidin (reigned: 1418–1419 and 1420–1470) was the eighth sultan of Kashmir. He was known by his subjects as Bod Shah (lit. Great King).


  • The Hindus' sense of gratitude knows no bounds to Muslim rulers like Zayn al-‘Abidin of Kashmir, ‘Alau d-Din Husayn Shah of Bengal, and Akbar the Great Mughal, who behaved towards Indians as Indians and at whose hands they could heave a sigh of relief from religious persecution. The three rulers tried their utmost to Indianize their rule and restore the dignity of Hindu community and culture, the latter essaying the uphill task of integrating Islam therewith, followed in this behalf by Prince Dara Shukoh. Who that has even the faintest sense of history can dispute the point that they were all intensely Indian, putting many a Hindu to shame in their patriotic fervour.
    • Harsh Narain, Myths of Composite Culture and Equality of Religions (1990)
  • When Sikandar’s successor Sultan Zainul Abedin (aka Shahi Khan, r. 1417–67), another deviant Muslim ruler, permitted the converted Hindus to revert, records Sydney Owen, ‘many Hindus (i.e., Hindus converted to Islam by force) were re-admitted into the Hindu fold.’
    • quoted in M.A. Khan , Islamic Jihad: A legacy of forced conversion, imperialism and slavery (2011), quoting Owen S (1987) From Mahmud Ghazni to the Disintegration of Mughal Empire, Kanishka Publishing House, New Delhi,


  • Whereas the Sultan showed considerable favour and regard to the Muslim nobles and their learned men, he also undertook the re-construction of the monuments of the infidels and the communities of the polytheists. He popularized the practices of the infidels and the heretics and the customs of idol- worshippers and the people ignorant of faith. All those temples and idol-houses af the infidels, which had been destroyed totally in the reign of Sultan Sikandar, may God bless his soul, were re-built and re- habilitated by him.[20] Most of the unbelievers and polytheists, who had fled to the lands of Jammu and Kishtwar because of the overwhelming strength of Islam, were induced by him to return to Kashmir.[21] The sacred books of the infidels and the writings of the polytheists which had been taken out of this country were brought back, and thus the learning of the unbelievers and the customs of the polytheists were revived by him.[22] He helped the community of the misled idolators to prosper. In every village and town, blasphemous customs connected with spring or temples were revived. He ordered that in every town and locality, celebration of special feasts and festivals by the infidels be revived in accordance with the customs prevalent in the past. He himself attended many of these festivities[23] and distributed gifts among dancers, stage actors, musicians and women singers so that all people, high and low, found themselves happy and satisfied with him.
    • Pandit, K. N. (2013). Baharistan-i-shahi: A chronicle of mediaeval Kashmir. 66
  • The only conspicuous defect and an over-all drawback of Zainu'l-'Abidin was that idolatory and heresy, which had been stamped out in the reign of Sultan Sikandar the Iconoclast - God bless his soul- and of which there had remained no traces in the lands of Kashmir, were revived by him. The customs and practices of the polytheists and the heretics received fresh impetus and were given renewed currency. He ordered that particular days of festivity be celebrated in every town and village, in which innumerable vices and corrupt practices were let loose. In more than one way, these had a deletarious influence on the sharia' and Islam brought by the Prophet. The community of infidels and heretics called him the Great King[ 45] because they flourished under his rule and he was known by the name throughout his kingdom. With the passage of time, the customs of the Hindus [46] and the infidels and their corrupt and immoral practices attained such popularity that even the 'ulenza, the learned, the Sayyids and Qadis of this land began to observe them without exhibiting even the slightest repugnance for them. There was none to forbid them to do so. It resulted in a gradual weakning of Islam and a decay in its cannons and postulates; idol-worship and corrupt and immoral practices thrived. It was only after the arrival of Amir Shamsu'd- Din Muhammad Iraqi and through the instrumentality of his generous acts and excellent efforts that those unholy practices were eradicated. Islamic religion and injunctions of the sharia' of the Holy Prophet were revitalized under the dispensations of that spiritual guide. Some of these events will be recorded at their proper place.
    • Pandit, K. N. (2013). Baharistan-i-shahi: A chronicle of mediaeval Kashmir. 73-74


Muḥammad, A. K., & Pandit, K. N. (2009). A Muslim missionary in mediaeval Kashmir: Being the English translation of Tohfatu'l-ahbab. New Delhi: Voice of India.
  • When the virtuous Sultan Sikandar, the Iconoclast, left this house of toil for the house of comfort, his son Sultan Zainuíl- ëAbidin succeeded him. This Sultan reversed the policy of his father and adopted the path of prevarication (fisq) and heresy (zandaqa). He brought some of the infidels close to himself and on some others he conferred ministries. He revived all customs and rituals of infidels and polytheists. He rebuilt all the idol-houses and temples that had been razed and destroyed. By rebuilding the temples of the infidels and the people of darkness and prevarication, this ruler ó who was not God-fearing ó popularised their religion. In this way, the fallacious beliefs and oppressive vices of the heretics and dualists gained strength to such an extent that in every household, most of its members returned to infidelity, heresy and despicable innovation.1 Only a small number of people expressed adherence to Islam. Islamic tenets and the customs of idolaters had got mixed up in a way that the nobles, officials, and the Sultan, all considered the heretics, the infidels, the wretched and the innovators as their close associates to drink and dine with. In his mathanavi, of which we bring a few verses here, Qadi Muhammad Qudsi, has properly depicted the condition of those days:
  • Infidelity, rampant during olden days, was revived. The sun of shariat (Islamic law) illuminated it. In line with old tradition, the fireplace and the temple flourished side by side. Islam got mixed up with infidelity and its elements disintegrated. The ambivalent groups joined and compromised with heresy. The stupid became the minister and he was party to infidelity. The idol house and the hospice stood side by side, the mosque and the church (perhaps meaning Buddhist temple) were seen in close proximity. If a man offered Muslim prayer (namaz), his wife would interact with (pray to) the devil. If the father went to the mosque, his son attempted to fraternise with the infidels (kafirs)
  • The people of Samarqand asked him, ìDid not the ulema, the learned men and the intellectuals of those lands forbid the infidels and the lost people from diluting (the principles of) Islam?î Araki answered, ìThe ulema, and the learned men of those lands showed no interest in the propagation of the Islamic religion, shariaí and the tenets (of faith). The Qadis and theologians of that land had become indifferent towards the traditions and the ways of Islam. They had mixed up with the infidels, the heretics and the misguided people. The acts and ways of the ulema and the theologians could not be differentiated from those of the ignorant and the wretched. Their customs and habits had got mixed up. (verses)
  • Despite the fact that learned and distinguished men of the times are always amidst them each one experienced in his own right and each one having examined the books a thousand times, none of them is really aware of the basics of faith. Nobody is able to show the path of true religion. Nobody cares for the religion (Islam). Everybody is on the path of falsehood and ignorant about religion and the ways of faith. They care for riches that are expendable but unmindful of that which lasts long, he said.
  • The people of Samarqand were shocked and surprised on knowing that the learned men of Islam in those lands had adopted the ways and customs of the infidels. I told them that I had seen the ulema and the Qadis of those lands with my own eyes and witnessed their (mis)deeds.
    • page 172
  • After some time during the reign of Sultan Zainuíl-íAbidin, clans and groups of people rejoined the infidels and idol worshippers and thus revived traditions and practices of infidels and polytheists. At the time of the death of Sultan Sikandar, Sultan Zainuíl-íAbidin was still a minor. As such, he could not benefit from the upbringing of Sultan Sikandar. He mixed up with the children of the infidels. The company of despicable progeny of heretics led him astray from the path of guidance, devotion and belief (in Islam).3 Indeed, he had gone astray even when Sultan Sikandar was still reigning.4 Abducted by satanic people and fraternizing with atheists had made him a zindiq 1 and a mulhid 2 (apostate and proselyte).3 He permitted the community of polytheists and groups of infidels to practice idolatry and infidelity: he allowed reconstruction of old idol houses and temples that had been demolished; he allowed that smashed idols be replaced: he ordered that these (worshipping places) be rehabilitated. All heretics, proselytes and deviators, who had feigned allegiance to the Islamic community and the people of faith but secretly nursed false beliefs and heretical customs, were given the freedom to return to their original faith.4 With the permission of this blasphemous ruler, many groups of people withdrew from the circle of Islam and the community and religion of the Holy Prophet. They adopted the path of darkness, apostasy and acrimony. High and low of this land, all turned apostates and returned to infidelity and idol worshipping. Practices of heresy and infidelity were revived. Reconstruction of temples was carried out with full force. In Kashmir there was hardly a village or a locality that did not have two or three temples. There was hardly a day when a festival of the infidels would not be observed in a locality or village or when an idol would not be installed in a temple. Lowly as well as distinguished people, senior and the learned, everybody was not only opting for idol worshipping but was also pursuing it with all seriousness. Housekeepers in urban and rural localities, traders, shopkeepers, artisans and commoners, all decorated their houses with five or six idols of various shapes and size. They worshipped these idols at dawn and dusk as is the practice of idolaters and infidels. People took to the practices of heretics, and those wearing the thread (zunnar). No respectable person (khwajah), trader, or artisan was circumcised. Every one among the nobles and the commoners, low or high followed the ways of idolatry, did not go for circumcision. Apart from indulging in these prohibited practices, many people considered it a matter of pride to take to drinking and merry making. Everybody considered that whatever was not permitted (in Islam) was permitted (for them) and thus proper for adoption. Outwardly the festival of Eid and Fridays were observed in towns and villages and although some of the Qadis maintained the laws and tenets of religion, yet the Islamic laws and the essence of Islamic religion did not enjoy full flowering and effect. No theologian, Sayyid or Qadi prohibited flouting of religious law and adoption of what was not permitted in Islam. How could the ulema and Qadis prohibit these vices when all these customs and traditions sprang from within their own houses. Their womenfolk practised infidelity, and engaged themselves in corrupt deeds. It was not possible for them to stop others from indulging in awful practices. The learned men of this land had become so demoralized and imbecile to such an extent that they did not object to the indulgence of their womenfolk in irreligious, heretical and polytheistic practices. On the contrary, it made them happy. We have said about this in detail in the context of Shaykh Shihab Hindiís account.
    • page 234
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