Month: July 2017

Muslim’s Gift to India: The Concept of Divine Unity

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When Muslims came to India they brought with them many priceless gifts and virtues to India. The most valuable of these gifts was the sovereign and unalloyed Islamic concept of Divinity, which in one stroke, dispensed with all intermediaries between man and the Creator in respect of prayer and supplication. There is emphatically no place in the Islamic creed for beliefs like Polytheism, Incarnation of God and ‘the merging of man in the Almighty and becoming one with Him’. Islam declares, plainly and once for all, the Sovereignty and Absolute Oneness of the Divine Being— One and Everlasting—Who beget not nor is He begotten, and nor does He take partners in the discharge of the functions of Divinity; the creation, the sustenance, the management and the ownership of the universe lie in His hands alone. It was but natural for a belief like this to make a powerful impact on the Indian mind out of touch as it had been with pure monotheistic doctrine for hundreds of years. Says: Prof. K. M. Panikkar,

“One thing is clear. Islam had a profound effect on Hinduism during this period. Medieval theism is in some ways a reply to the attack of Islam and the doctrines of medieval teachers by whatever names their gods arc known are essentially theistic. It is the one supreme God that is the object of the devotee’s adoration and it is to His grace that we are asked to look for redemption.”1

  1. Panikkar, K. M. : A Survey of Indian History (1947), p. 163

P.S. The article has been created from the works of great Islamic scholar Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi (Ali Miyan)

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Arrival of Muslims in a Culturally Isolated India

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When the Muslims had set their feet on the Indian soil, there were here the ancient sciences and philosophy and an abundance of food and raw materials, but, culturally, India had lapsed into isolation from the civilized world for a long time. The mighty mountains on the north and the sea on the other three sides had prevented it from having a regular intercourse with the world that lay beyond its frontiers. The last foreign invader to visit India before the Muslims was Alexander the Great. During the period intervening between the two events India had remained severely cut off from the outside world. There had been no exchange of knowledge with the foreign countries. No new idea, no fresh cultural impetus had reached it from abroad, nor had it been able to send out anything from its own ancient fund of wisdom.

Starting of Age of India’s Contact with the Outside World

It was at a time like this that the Muslims made their debut on the Indian stage. They were, in those days, the most advanced community in the East. They brought with them to India a new, practical and highly rationalistic religion, mature knowledge, a progressive culture and an evolved civilization which included within it all that was best in the cultural stock of many nations—it represented a synthesis of the natural wholesomeness of the Arab disposition, the dainty refinement of the Iranians and the rugged simplicity of the Turks.

Why Non-Muslims should learn about Islam?

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For the different nations and communities of the world to live together in peace and co-operation and with affection and goodwill or in other words, in a state of peaceful co-existence; it is imperative not only that they obtained an adequate understanding of each other’s temperamental characteristics, ideology and traditions, cultural heritage and the great things they have done in the past, and, so forth, but also learnt to appreciate them and to hold them as precious and worthy of encouragement and preservation.

For this reason it is considered necessary everywhere to acquire a proper knowledge of the language and literature, culture and civilization, history and even fine arts of other peoples. Many countries send their missions comprising men of culture and learning to other countries to study their psychological, literary and cultural patterns. Bodies and institutions are set up universally with the object of promoting cultural lies and understanding with the rest of the world and funds are made available to them with commendable generosity. In pursuance of the same objective, the Government of India has established a big organization called the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, and there are also in operation here in our country several other private and semi-official bodies, like the Indo-Arab and the Indo-Iranian Societies, which strive through various means to foster and strengthen cultural ties with the peoples of other lands.

Strange Condition of Non-Muslims in India

Thus when there is found a general desire all over the world, to forge intimate contacts with far-flung lands at personal, intellectual and cultural levels, even our national self-interest calls for it and so also the issue of world peace, does it not seem necessary that within a country itself one section of the population did not remain ignorant of the past intellectual and cultural attainments, natural propensities and urges and aspirations of another section that had been living side by side with in millions of numbers for several centuries and had played a decisive role in the shaping of the country’s destiny? It is, indeed, one of the curious contradictions of Indian national existence that one important part of the population here is almost totally in the dark about the ancient heritage and background of the other important part, it has no appreciation of the basic facts with respect to it. It does not know what part it has played in the progress and development of the motherland and in the recent struggle for its freedom—what contribution has it made in the country’s many-sided evolution up to the present day—what are its desires and ambitions, and what are its needs and difficulties in the existing national set-up. This strangeness and ignorance in spite of the fact that the two communities have been living with each other for hundreds of years and participating unitedly in the various tasks of life is a drawback which should be felt strongly and removed without further delay. Unity, trust and harmony are among the diverse elements which are a prerequisite for national integration and progress, but these elements cannot be produced till we remained unaware of each other’s spiritual and emotional make-up, history and social background and the possibilities we hold for the future.

Concerted Efforts to Malign and Discredit Muslim History

The tragedy however, is not confined only to ignorance. What is worse and more disconcerting is that there has got created in our country a powerful tendency to black-out and reject the history and the cultural stock of a whole community, its past achievements and the glorious contribution it has made to the national fight for independence. There is afoot a campaign to present the history of our land in a manner as if the Muslim era in India was an era of foreign, imperialistic domination; it was devoid of all virtue and greatness and failed miserably to produce a single noteworthy personality, a single remarkable achievement in the domains of thought and culture, a jungle act of unpolluted, selfless service to the country’s welfare and development of which the nation could be proud; and that in the long-drawn battle for freedom against the British the role of the Muslims was nothing more than that of a disinterested spectator, and if they did, accidentally, take a part, it was not worthy of attention.

By acting in this manner we are thoughtlessly depriving the lofty, evergreen tree of India of a rich, fruit-bearing branch and proving to the world that for about a thousand years this mighty tree remained barren and utterly unproductive, with the season of autumn reigning supreme all over the country, though it is entirely in opposition to what history tells, apart from casting a sad reflection on the innate human richness and fertility of our land. We, in this way, not only perpetrate a cruel injustice on a community which dwells in our midst in millions, but also cease to be fair and honest to the motherland—to its past and to its future generations that are going to need badly that lives of the illustrious figures belonging to that period of their history were presented before them as models for their conduct.

Further, we can introduce India advantageously and in a more effective manner to the Islamic countries, whose friendship we wish to cultivate, by spotlighting the memorable achievements of the Muslim Period, and win recognition for it of its glory from their educated and enlightened circles. The people of those lands being already familiar, more or less, with the main personalities and land-marks of that span of Indian history, such an endeavor is, again, not likely to present any great difficulty.

The realization of this very truth and need is responsible for the writings on this blog. Due to one reason or another, it is not possible these days both for Muslim and non-Muslim friends to read voluminous works in Persian and even in Urdu of the old style to inquire into the manifold cultural, literary, material and political achievements of that period of our history; what is needed therefore, is brief and easy-to-read articles which may present in glimpses the story of those days and the picture of that way of life, and, thus, serve, so to speak, as mediums of introduction.

It is hoped that writings on this blog will be read with interest among the educated circles of the various communities that go to make our people and prove of some value in reducing the ignorance and the attitude of indifference which exist in the sister-communities towards the Muslims. It may, further, be helpful in promoting the growth of a broad, realistic, national perspective the country so badly needs today.

Perhaps it is not too much to expect that; apart from non-Muslim friends, many educated Muslims too will find in these writings something which will be new to them and add to their knowledge and in some way, however little it may be, go towards ridding them of the inferiority complex they have developed lately, but for which there is no justification. The Muslims are not only citizens of an equal status with anybody in India; they are also among its chief builders and architects, and hold position second to none among the peoples of the world for selfless service to the motherland. They gave to India and the Indian civilization a new life and a new dimension and awakened its people to a new set of moral and spiritual values. Every patch of this land and every particle of this soil bears the imprint of their greatness and is a monument to their industry, earnestness and creative genius. In every aspect of Indian life and civilization can be seen evidences of their noble aestheticism and cultural richness.

P.S. The article has been created from the works of great Islamic scholar Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi (Ali Miyan)

Coming of Earliest Muslims in India

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Muslim Saints and Preachers

Muslims came to India, supremely unconcerned with worldly aims and ambitions and guided solely by the lofty sentiment of religious-service. They brought with them the Islamic message of equity and social justice in order to show to men thirsting for light and freedom in a dark and narrow world the way to break their shackles and avail themselves of the priceless bounties of nature that were lying scattered over God’s wide earth. The best instances of these dedicated, high- sou led preachers are offered by the lives of the devoted servants of Islam under whose benign shadow thousands of oppressed members of the Indian society not only found shelter but also began to live as their own, beloved kinsmen. The names of Hazrat Ali Hujweri, Khwaja Moinuddin Ajmeri and Syed Ali bin Shahab Hamadani Kashmiri are richly representative of this holy order of men.

Rulers and Conquerors

Sometimes, they came as warriors and conquerors and deep-hearted rulers, such as, Mahmud Ghaznavi, Mohammad Ghori and Zahiruddin Babar. These men of courage and ambition laid the foundations of a magnificent empire that continued to prosper for hundreds of years and carried the country to glorious heights of progress and prosperity.

Permanent Settlement and Spirit of Service

But, whatever the capacity they came in the Muslims always treated India as their home. Their belief was that the earth belonged to God and He gave it in the supervision and keeping of whom He pleased. They considered themselves to be the Divinely appointed trustees of His land and servants of His people. “Every country is our country for it is the country of our Lord” was their motto.

The Muslims unfailingly regarded India as their own country of permanent abode from which they could never turn their eyes away. They ungrudgingly gave of their best mental, physical and spiritual resources, their choicest natural abilities and talents, in its service, thinking that the contribution they would make to its development and prosperity would ultimately be to their own advantage, for was not their future linked inseparably with it? The attitude of Muslim settlers towards India, thus, was radically different from that of the British and other foreign imperialistic Powers that came to hold sway over the land, or parts of it, at a later stage of its history. The object of the Western imperialists in India was simply to make hay while the sun shone. They treated India like a cow which had come into their hands for a few days, and were eager to milk it as thoroughly as they could. The devotion with which the Muslims strove for the advancement and prosperity of India can be understood only in this context.

P.S. The above article has been created from the works of Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi (Ali Miyan)