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Islam appeared in India since the first century of its emergence, and its presence was established with the establishment of Islamic rule in the region, and it continued at the hands of many Muslim peoples, including Arabs, Turks, Afghans, and Mongols, over a period of 8 centuries, and extended at the height of its authority over the entire Indian subcontinent.

Muslims established a brilliant civilization in which sciences, arts, and literature flourished, and with them Islam, its beliefs, and its culture spread. Despite the fall of Islamic rule in India since the 19th century, Muslims left behind a human and cultural heritage that left a tangible impact on religion, language, architecture, arts, sciences and literature.

First contact with Islam

The first contact of the Indian peoples with Islam was thanks to Muslim merchants, who went to the southern coasts of India and built mosques there to perform their rituals. From there, the local population began to learn about the doctrines and teachings of Islam, and some of them embraced it. Those coasts were the first cradle of Islam in the country, especially the coasts of Sindh, Malabar, and the island of Ceylon. Which later became known as "Sri Lanka", since the first half of the seventh century AD.

During the Umayyad era, the first Islamic conquests towards India began, following the attacks on Muslim ships from pirates supported by the King of Sindh. Al-Hajjaj al-Thaqafi, the governor of Iraq, sent two military campaigns, one by sea and the other by land. Both failed, then the third campaign, headed by his nephew, succeeded. The young man Muhammad bin Al-Qasim.

Ibn al-Qasim began his conquests from Al-Dibal (the city of Karachi in southern Pakistan) in the year 711 AD, and as a result, the cities of Sindh began to collapse one after another, whether by peace or force. The ruler of Sindh was killed and the Muslims took control of the capital, Arur, the city of Al-Kirj (Mumbai), and Multan in the Punjab province.

Indian Muslims in the 19th century from “The Book of the World in Our Hands” published in 1878 by the Spanish travelers Montaner and Simón (Getty)

Caliph Suleiman bin Abdul Malik dismissed the leader Ibn Al-Qasim, due to the hostility he had toward his uncle Al-Hajjaj. This affected the course of the conquests in India, and they stopped completely during the Umayyad era, and did not expand in the Abbasid era, and Sindh (which is a Pakistani province) remained the furthest region ruled by the Islamic State. In the Umayyad and Abbasid eras.

As weakness penetrated the entity of the Abbasid state, the Sindh region separated from the center of the caliphate, leaving it with only nominal dependency, and two emirates were formed for Muslims at that time:

  • The Arab state that ruled in the north between 712 and 1010 AD, with its capital, Multan.

  • The Habbari state, which existed in the south between 854 and 1025 AD, and its capital was Al-Mansoura (Hyderabad).

Despite the cessation of the conquests, the spread of Islam continued, thanks to preachers, trade relations, and calls made by some caliphs. A number of Indian princes and governors responded to them and converted to Islam, and many of their subjects followed them.

The Ghaznavid state

The Ghaznavid state, of Turkish origins, began to emerge from its seat of rule in Afghanistan and attack the northern outskirts of India since the time of its founder, Sabuktekin. When his son Mahmoud of Ghaznawi assumed power, he intensified his attacks on India, and was able to annex Punjab in 1001 AD.

In 1010 AD, he eliminated the Shiite state that controlled the government in Multan (southern Punjab) and took control of it. Then he dominated Kannauj in 1016 AD, and made peace with the king of Kwaliyar (south of Delhi). In 1025 AD, he overthrew the Habbari state and took control of the region. He also headed to Gujarat and from there. To Somnat and subjugated them, he was keen to spread Islam in the open areas and eliminate manifestations of paganism.

After the death of Mahmoud Al-Ghaznawi, his successors continued to expand in India, but their competition among themselves ultimately led to the weakness of the state, and then its fall in 1171 AD.

The Jami Mosque in Delhi in the late 19th century, built on the commission of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, and completed in 1656 (Getty)

The Ghurid state

The Ghurid state (one of the Muslim Afghan kingdoms) was established on the ruins of the Ghaznavid state. It extended its influence to Multan in 1174 AD, then subjugated all of Punjab and Sindh, and made Lahore a base for its rule in India.

In the year 1192 AD, the Ghurids won a decisive battle over the Hindus (Hindus, also called Brahmins). As a result, they took control of large areas, were able to seize Delhi, and made it the capital of their rule in India in 1193 AD. They annexed Benares (eastern India), after a crushing defeat. Balhinada in the Battle of Shandwar.

The Ghurid conquests also expanded towards Bengal to the east. They entered it and captured its capital, Nadia, in 1197 AD. In 1202 AD, they took control of all of northern India, and they also took control of the Bihar region in the east of the country.

Shihab al-Din al-Ghuri worked to establish Islamic rule in India and consolidate its foundations. He established the rules of justice and worked to spread Islam and promote knowledge. After his assassination in 1206 AD, internal divisions grew due to competition for the throne, which led to the weakness of the state, and then its fall in 1215 AD.

Delhi Sultanate

The country of India no longer belonged to the Ghurid state after the death of Shihab al-Din al-Ghuri, as Qutb al-Din Aybak, one of Shihab al-Din’s Mamluks, assumed independence and established the “Sultanate of Delhi,” which lasted for more than 3 centuries.

Five dynasties of Turkish and Afghan origins ruled over it, starting with the Mamluk state, followed by the Khalji state, then the Tughluqid state, followed by the Sadat dynasty.

The Sultanate ended with the fall of the Lodi dynasty. The Sultanate extended from Delhi in the south to Lahore in the north, and from Gujarat in the west to Bengal in the east.

Mamluk state

During his rule, Qutb al-Din carried out many reforms in the country, did good to the people, built schools, and built the Great Mosque of Delhi with its famous minaret, “Qutb Minaret.” But he soon died in 1210 AD.

His son, Aram Shah, assumed power after him, but he was not competent, so Shams al-Din Iltamish was removed from him. He ascended the throne of the Sultanate in 1211 AD, and succeeded in managing the country, eliminating revolts, and confronting the Mongols. He was the true founder of the Mamluk state in India, where he was able to rule the country. He spent nearly a quarter of a century developing the country, until he died in 1235 AD.

After him came a group of sultans, none of whom were able to carry out the burdens of the state, and in the year 1266 the king passed to the family of Ghiyath al-Din Balban (one of the Mamluk families), and Ghiyath al-Din assumed power, and he was a capable ruler who was able to take the reins of power for more than 20 years, and after His death in 1287 AD, the state did not recover, and the rule of the Mamluk state ended within 3 years.

The Gulf state

In the midst of the sharp disputes that broke out over governance between the Mamluks at the end of their state, Jalal al-Din Firuz Shah al-Khalji was able to extract the kingdom for himself in 1290 AD, and thus began the rule of the Afghan Khalji state. Jalal al-Din at that time suppressed the revolts and confronted the Mongol raids.

In 1296 AD, his nephew Alaa al-Din al-Khalji killed him, took over power after him, and was able to defeat the Mongols and track down their remnants. The state expanded greatly during his reign. He was able to subjugate Central India. He seized the Kingdom of Gujarat and Jaitor (southern India), the Kingdom of Telenkana, the city of Halibid and the Maharat, and annexed the Deccan, which had not fallen to any of the sultans before him. He fought about 84 battles in all of which he was victorious, until he was named "Alexander II".

He set prices in the markets, prevented rising prices, provided prosperity to his people, banned alcohol and drugs, and at the same time limited the growth of wealth in the hands of the people, and took half of the land’s yields for the Treasury, but he was extremely cruel to his opponents.

Jalal al-Din died in 1317 AD, and the general conditions in the country worsened, and strife spread, and the notables of Delhi were forced to seek help from the ruler of Lahore, Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq, who quickly marched on Delhi and undermined the rule of Qutb al-Din Mubarak, the last of the Khilji rulers, in 1321 AD.

The closing state

Ghiyath al-Din founded the Tughlaqid state, but he did not live long. His son Muhammad killed him in 1325 AD. He ascended to power for more than 25 years. He was a capable leader, but he was extremely cruel and shed much blood. The state began to disintegrate, until only a quarter of it remained, and many of its members became independent. The most famous states are the Deccan state in the southern part of the Indian peninsula, in which the Islamic Bohemian state was founded in 1347 AD.

When his cousin, Fayrouz Shah, took power after his death in 1351 AD, he worked to redress grievances, was keen to spread Islam, and revolted culturally and urbanly. He built schools, hospitals, and palaces, built baths, bridges, and arches, created gardens, dug canals and wells, and built the city of Fayrouzabad.

After the death of Firuz Shah in 1374 AD, strife, revolutions and separatist movements ravaged the structure of the state, and Khawaja Jahan was able to gain independence in the eastern region of India, and founded a state known as the state of the “Kings of the East” with its capital in Jaunpur. Following the Mongol attacks and destruction of the country with its capital in Delhi, the state lost its prestige, which led to To the independence of the state of Gujarat and then the Emirate of Malwa in northwestern India.

With the fall of the last Mughal ruler, Bahadur Shah II, in 1857 AD, the state of Islam in India fell (British Library)

The fall of the Delhi Sultanate

The rulers of Lahore eliminated the Tughlaqi state and took control of Delhi in 1414 AD. The Sadat dynasty ruled there for about 37 years, all of which were filled with revolutions and strife. At that time, many of the emirates had separated and established independent states in the Deccan, Janpur, Gujarat, Malwa, Sindh, and Bengal.

In 1451 AD, the Lodi family seized power, and the Sultanate of Dehli regained its position in their time. The state expanded, and the state of Jaunpur was annexed to it again, and its territory expanded until it exceeded its borders in Naras, but in the last decade of their rule, which amounted to about 75 years, the state began to suffer from revolutions. Many states became independent, and the state weakened until it fell in 1526 AD at the hands of the Mongols.

Mongol state

The Mongols founded their state in Dehli at the hands of Zahir al-Din Muhammad Babur in 1526 AD. It was one of the largest Islamic empires, the strongest Islamic state established in India, and the greatest in impact. Its rule lasted for more than 3 centuries, and at the height of its power it extended over vast lands, including India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Afghanistan and parts of Myanmar (Burma).

Jalal al-Din was the greatest of the most powerful Mughal sultans. He ruled for 50 years, during which he worked to expand his kingdom, which included Afghanistan and northern and central India, including Gujarat, Bengal, Malwa, Sindh, Lahore, Delhi, Kashmir, Multan, Bihar and others, and only the southern part of India remained outside the borders of his state. , which included the Islamic kingdoms of Bijapur (in the state of Karnataka) and Kolkunda, and the Hindu kingdoms of Qija Yankar.

To strengthen his rule and win over people of other religions, Jalaluddin Akbar created a new religion that he called the “Divine Religion,” which was a mixture of several religions. During his reign, European ambitions began to appear in India, and the British East India Company was founded, to which he granted some privileges.

When his son Jahangir assumed power in 1605 AD, he abolished the religious ideas that his father had tried to spread, and the country’s conditions stabilized during his reign. He remained in power for about 20 years, and the reign of his son Shah Jahan constituted an era of financial prosperity for the state, and prosperity in art and architecture, and he reached the pinnacle with the unique edifice “Taj Mahal.” “Which he built in memory of his wife.

Aurangzeb was the seal of the great sultans. He ruled for more than 50 years, during which he continued his conquests until he seized the state of Arakan on the border of Myanmar, annexed the state of Jankam, subjugated the Tibet region, and took control of southern India, represented by the kingdoms of Bijapur and Kolkenda, and eliminated the revolts, as a revolution would grow. The Rajputs and Marathas, he established the foundations of faith and religion, and built mosques, hospitals, and nursing homes.

After his death in 1707 AD, the Mongol state began to collapse, due to internal wars, conflicts over the throne, multiple revolutions, and secession movements. The attack by the King of Iran, Nader Shah, was a fatal blow to the state, and then the attacks of Ahmad Shah Durrani Al-Afghani overthrew what was left of it.

At the same time, European influence had eaten away at the bones of the state, and European companies took control of the country, by exploiting the commercial privileges granted to them, then forming armies with which they colonized the country, and the British controlled the sultans, who became puppets in their hands, and with the fall of the last Mongol rulers "Bahadur Shah II" In 1857 AD, the Islamic state fell in India, and it did not exist after that.

Civilizational influence

Islam in India had a unique experience in coexistence with a wide spectrum of religions, multiple languages, and different peoples, including Indians, Arabs, Turks, and Afghans. It formed a civilization that enjoyed a fabric in which disparate characteristics were mixed, produced by interaction and cultural exchange between the various elements in society. The long Islamic presence in India left , which spanned 8 centuries, had a prominent impact on the cultural aspect, especially administrative systems, religion, language, architecture, arts, sciences and literature.

This is clearly evident in the spread of Islam among a large number of Indians at a rate of up to 14.2%, as Muslims there reached 172 million people (according to official statistics for the year 2011). The Islamic faith also influenced the growth of monotheistic thought among the Indians and the emergence of local monotheistic beliefs. This influence is largely due to the efforts of scholars and religious and Sufi movements that worked to spread Islam. Although some conquerors removed manifestations of paganism in the country, they did not force the people. To convert to Islam.

In the field of language, Islamic rule led to the creation of a new language, “Urdu,” which was greatly influenced by the Arabic language. It is considered an official language in India, and one of the most common languages ​​there, and is spoken by Muslims and others.

Muslims also left behind an amazing artistic and architectural heritage, represented by buildings, palaces, baths, forts, mosques and tombs with their distinctive architectural styles, exquisite decorations and engravings, which relied on geometric shapes and Arabic calligraphy, and many evidences of Islamic architectural excellence in India stand out, and the “Taj Mahal” shrine represents For example, one of the most prominent architectural monuments in the world.

Muslims were interested in urbanization, so they built roads, dug canals and wells, and built bridges. The Mongols excelled in the art of landscaping gardens, some of which Kashmir preserved. Muslims in India advanced the art of drawing, photography, and music. They invented musical instruments and invented new notes.

Among their most notable achievements is that they spread science, knowledge, and literature and promoted them. They built schools and scientific institutes, cared for libraries, and established observatories. They encouraged writing, and the translation movement in various fields of knowledge was active in their time. This was evident in the cognitive and literary heritage they left behind.

Muslims developed governance systems and administrative laws, and governance during the Mongol era was based on national unity, regardless of religion and race. One of the finest laws they enacted is the State Insurance Law for the Infirm and the Sick. Muslims reformed financial systems, tax laws, and the judicial system, and trade and industry flourished.

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