Month: August 2017

Sher Shah, Akbar & Aurangzeb: The Indian Administrators par Excellence

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When one considers the gigantic undertakings of Sher Shall Suri for public welfare, the mighty development plans he put through successfully, his splendid administrative achievements and revolutionary judicial reforms, and weighs them against the fact that his rule extended over a bare five years, one becomes convinced automatically of the unique versatility and brilliance of this genius among kings. Some of his attainments during that brief span of time were so marvelous that many a well-established government would find it hard to accomplish them during much longer periods of time. Sher Shah, indeed, is one of the greatest rulers the world has ever seen.

Marshman Clarke writes,

Without doubt Sher Shah was a most wise, kind-hearted and sagacious person. He was as accomplished an administrator as he is famous as a soldier. Though he got little respite from wars he reformed every branch of administration and made it perfect. The laws and regulations enacted by him continued to be in force even after his death till Akbar adopted them as models for his administrative reforms which later became known as Ain-i-Akbari1


Gold and silver coins during Akbar’s reign

Then there is Akbar. Whatever the difference between the teachings of Islam and his religious views and the Din-i-Ilahi he founded, and however much may a Muslim historian grieve at the intemperate developments that took place during the later part of his reign, it goes without saying that judged by his high-mindedness, legislative and administrative ability, conquests and annexations, and natural knack for leadership and the splendid patronage he extended to arts and learning, he was a magnificent ruler and empire-builder.


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Silver Coins of Aurangzeb’s reign

Aurangzeb’s equal also will not easily be found in history. His excellent virtues of mind and character, his eventful life loaded with destiny, half-a-century of continuous warfare and incessant struggle, his enormous conquests and far-reaching reforms, his simple, ascetic life, his matchless courage, fortitude and determination, the strict regularity of his hours, the management of a vast, sprawling empire, the direct personal command of armies in the battlefield even in old age, the zealous observance of the obligatory as well as supererogatory prayers, and unceasing love for learning and study in spite of extreme occupation mark him out as a man and an emperor of a class by himself. He was a man of steel who knew not what fear, indecision and despair were. He is sure to walk in his own right, into any list that may be prepared impartially and with a due sense of responsibility of great men of all times.

  1. Marshman Clarke:  History of India (1842)—Re-translated from Urdu


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


Destruction of Baghdad & Coming of Exceptionally Capable Muslims to India


As soon as the foundations of a strong and enlightened Muslim Kingdom were laid in India in the 12th century; learned men, artists and skilled craftsmen had started to assemble under its benevolent shadow from all parts of the Islamic World. A tremendous impetus was given to this exodus by the Tartar invasion of the Muslim East. The Tartars had laid desolate the entire Islamic Empire, but their wrath had fallen most ferociously on its capital, Baghdad, and on its other important centres of learning and culture. The result was that the process of migration was greatly speeded up from the cities that had fallen a victim to the barbarism of the Tartar and Mongol hordes. Educated and aristocratic families fled from one country to another in search or peace and security against the uncivilized invaders.

At that time India was under the rule of monarchs belonging to what is known in history as the Slave Dynasiy-a dynasty of Turkish slaves—and it stood out to be the only country that could finally hold at bay the savage attackers by repelling successfully their repeated inroads. Consequently, a large number of enlightened, high-class families of Iran and Afghanistan abandoned their homes and took refuge India during the fearful stretch of time. Innumerable noblemen who for generations had been distinguished for high respect learning and cultural refinement and were holding positions of honour and trust in their countries came here to settle permanently, particularly during the reigns of Shamsuddin Il-tut-mush, Ghayasuddin Balban and Alauddin Khilji. Discussing the huge exodus and its causes, the noted historian Ziauddin Barni writes:

“All these families of respected noblemen, accomplished scholars and exalted spiritual leaders left their homes and wended their way towards India as a result of the invasions by the Mongols and by Chengiz Khan. Princes of the blood, experienced generals, celebrated teachers, learned jurists and illustrious religious and spiritual masters were included among  the migrants”1

From these families and the families of Indian origin which came into the fold of Islam through their efforts there sprang up a steady stream of spiritual and intellectual luminaries, administrators, statesmen, army generals and conquerors. Among them some were blessed with such uncommon greatness that they could legitimately be a source of pride and honour to the entire Muslim World.

  1. Tarikhi-i-Firoz Shahi

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

Indian Muslims: The Outstanding Community


The appearance, from time to time, among a people of personalities, that are endowed with exceptional capabilities in the different branches of human endeavour is a proof of its intrinsic strength and creative vitality. It shows that the sources of its thought and action have not yet run dry, its spirit is alive and it has not forfeited its right to existence with honour and dignity in the world. The Indian Muslims have reason to be proud of themselves in this respect. They have remained well-supplied with their share of outstanding men who have risen gloriously above the common level in their respective spheres of living and doing.

Dual Responsibility Borne by Muslims

The Muslims in India always gave an irrefutable proof of their deep devotion and loyalty to the motherland—they strove to their utmost for India’s material, cultural, intellectual and spiritual advancement and spared themselves nothing in its service, and yet they also remained steadfast in their attachment to their faith and the Islamic Civilization: their contact with the Muslim World did never sulfur a break—on the other hand, they were called upon, time and again, to act as its leaders and torch-bearers.

It was not easy at all to work out an integration between two widely different civilizations and owe allegiance at once to two different homes—one spiritual and the other physical and political. No other branch of Muslims has, in the entire Islamic brotherhood, acquainted itself so well of this dual responsibility as the Indian Muslims.

The account of exemplary Muslims of India and their contributions for the welfare of the mankind will be updated regularly on this blog in future posts.


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

Muslims Established Equality and Brotherhood as Principles of Governance in India


In India a most remarkable social change was brought about by the Islamic notion of human equality and brotherhood. Some of salient features of Muslim rule were:

  1. No division of society into permanent classes
  2. No such community as the untouchables among the Muslims.
  3. Their belief was that no one was born unclean into the world
  4. The belief that no one was predetermined to be ignorant
  5. No one was debarred from acquisition of knowledge by the very fact of his birth in a certain class
  6. No trade or occupation was reserved for a particular section of humanity.
  7. Muslims fraternized freely with each other at all levels, the rich strove with the poor in the pursuit of learning and there was freedom of profession for all.

The idea of brotherhood was for the Indian mind and the Indian society a novel experience and a call to renewed thinking which did a lot of good to the country. The bonds of the then existing class-ridden society were relaxed to a considerable extent and there was witnessed a widespread recoil from the excessive rigidity of the caste-system. The advent of Islam acted as a challenge to social reformers in other fields also. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru has offered the following comments on the uplifting influence exerted by Islam and Muslims on the Indian social structure.

“The impact of the invaders from the north-west and of Islam on India had been considerable. It had pointed out and shone up the abuses that had crept into Hindu society—the petrification of caste, untouchability, exclusiveness carried to fantastic lengths. The idea of the brotherhood of Islam and the theoretical equality of its adherents made a powerful appeal especially to those in the Hindu fold who were denied any semblance of equal treatment”1

To quote another writer of repute;

“Islam’s democratic challenge has perhaps never been equaled by any other religious or social system. Its advent on the Indian scene was marked by a profound stirring of consciousness. It modified the basis of Hindu social structure throughout northern India.”2

  1. Jawaharlnl Nehru: The Discovery of India (1946) p. 225
  2. Humayun Kabir: The Indian Heritage (1955). p. 133

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

Extraordinary and Unmatched Sacrifices of Muslim Ulema for Independence of India


In 1601, an East India company trade delegation under the leadership of Vasco da Gama anchored at Bombay Harbour. They requested the government of that time for assistance. They promised to improve trade links with India by exporting Indian goods back to the British market and to then reinvest the profits back to India. The Mogul king of that time, Ahmad Shah Abdali was very short-sighted and failed to understand the policies of the English. He provided this trade delegation with a number of concessions. By 1701, a hundred years later, a number of territories were already under British rule.

Shah Waliyullah: The First cry against British

The British came to India in 1601 and Shah Waliyullah, was born in 1702. By 1740, Shah Waliyullah, realized that the British had already seized control of four main territories. When Shah Waliyullah witnessed the British seizing authority from all four sides, he, for the very first time, translated the Quran into Persian. He realized that if Islamic knowledge was not propagated, the British government will continue consolidating its rule over India. In 1762, after the demise of Shah Waliyullah, Shah Abdul Aziz succeeded his father and for the first time in history planted the seeds of antagonism against the British. He was the first person to pass a fatwa on the validity of jihad against the British and their supporters in India. Due to the fatwa, Fatah Ali Sultan Tippu accompanied by his army eventually fought four battles in Mysore. Sultan Tippu himself engaged in physical combat against the enemy. He was martyred in 1792 while fighting alone right up to the very end. This warrior of India was martyred at the fort of Mysore whilst his chief general, Mir Sadiq betrayed him for 22000 acres of land by the British.

Ulema and First Battle of Independence in 1857

After 1831, when the  ulema (Muslim religious scholars) realized that the British government was getting more and more fortified in the country, they called up a number of meetings first. Many warriors gathered from all parts of the country and many decisive battles were fought against the British. This continued for some time.  In 1856, a meeting of all the senior ulema of India was called up in Delhi. This meeting was attended, amongst others, by Maulana Jafar Thaneseri, Maulana Wilayat  Ali, Haji Imdadullah, Maulana Qasim Nanotwi, Maulana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi and Hafidh Dhamin Shahid.

In this meeting, Maulana Qasim Nanotwi is reported to have said,

Aren’t you aware that the British are sitting right on our heads? They have laid a snare of their rule throughout the country. Be prepared for some rather decisive battles against them. We will either be cut up into pieces or fight against them right up to the end. We will not allow the British to live in this country“.

As a result of this meeting of the ulemas, the battle of Independence in 1857 was fought on two fronts, one in Ambala under the leadership of Maulana Jafar Thaneseri and the other in Shamli under Haji Imdadullah Makki. However due to their limited resources and betrayal of a few people, the ulema failed to win this battle. The spirit of freedom however still remained alive.

Unmatched Sacrifices of Ulema in Battle against British

At the termination of this battle of 1857, the British viceroy to India requested his own ministers and counselors of India to submit a report on how they can firmly secure the British government’s hold over India in the post-war period. One of the leading politicians of India, Doctor William Yur submitted a report to the viceroy. He wrote:

Of the entire population of India, the Muslims are the most spirited and vigilant. The battle of independence was fought mainly by the Muslims. As long as the Muslims cherish the spirit of jihad, we will not be able to impose our rule upon them. Hence, first and foremost, the snuffing out of this spirit is imperative. The only way this can be achieved is by weeding out the ulema and by eradicating the Qur’an.

Acting on this advice, in 1861 the government launched a campaign against the Qur’an. 300 000 copies of the Noble Quran were set alight by the government. Thereafter, they made a resolution to eradicate the ulema. An English historian, Mr. Thompson writes in his memoirs:

From 1864 to 1867, the British government firmly resolved to eradicate all the ulema of India. These three years are one of the most heart-wrenching periods of Indian history. The British hanged 14000 ulema to death. From Chandi Chowk of Delhi up to Khaibar, not a single tree was spared the neck of the ulema. The ulema were wrapped in pig-skin and hurled alive into blazing furnaces. Their bodies were branded with hot copper rods. They used to be made to stand on the backs of elephants and tied to high trees. The elephants would then be driven away and they would be left hanging by their necks. A makeshift gallow was set up in the courtyard of the Shahi Mosque of Lahore and each day up to eighty ulema were hanged. The ulema were at times wrapped up in sacks and dumped into the Rawi river of Lahore after which a hail of bullets would be pumped into each sack.

Thompson writes further;

“As I got into my camp at Delhi, I perceived a stench of putrefied flesh. As I stepped out and went behind my camp, I saw a blazing fire of live coals. I saw a group of forty naked ulema being led into the fire. As I was witnessing this scene, another group of forty ulema were brought onto the field. Right before my eyes, their clothes were taken off their bodies. The English commander addressed them thus: O Molvies! Just as these ulema are being roasted over this fire, you will also be roasted. To save yourselves, just one of you must proclaim that you were not part of the 1857 uprising of freedom. I will release all of you the moment I hear just one of you affirming this.

Thompson writes;

By the Lord who has created me! Not one of the ulema said any such thing. All of them were roasted over the fire and another group was also brought and roasted over the blazing fire. Not a single alim surrendered to the demands of the British.

By 1867 not a single Islamic institute remained. One would be quite astonished to realize that in 1601 when the British arrived in India for trade, there were a thousand Islamic institutes in Delhi alone.

Ten Gifts by Muslims to India


The noted historian, Sir Jadunath Sircar, has, in a paper entitled ‘Islam in India’, enumerated ten gifts, which, according to him, the Muslims conferred on India. Some of these we have already discussed in this blog; the gifts are as follows:

  1. The establishment of contact with the outside world
  2. Concept of divine unity (belief in only one God)
  3. Concept of equality and brotherhood (no caste system & untouchability)
  4. Rights of women and other social reforms
  5. Introdcution of new branches of learning in India
  6. Political unity and uniformity of culture and dress specially in the upper classes
  7. A common official language and an easy, simple style of prose in the evolution of which both the Hindus and Muslims have taken part
  8. The promotion of regional languages under the aegis of the Central Government so that there may ensue general peace and contentment and equal opportunities for literary and cultural advancement may be made available to all
  9. The revival of maritime trade which was originally in the hands of the people of South but had been lying suspended for a long time
  10. The formation of the Indian navy

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

Unani Medicine- Muslims Rulers gave the most Advanced Contemporary Disease Treatment System to India


The Muslims brought to India a new system of medicine, the Unani system—which, before the dawn of modern medicine, was universally recognized as the most advanced and scientific system for the treatment of diseases. During their hey-days, the countries of Iraq, Iran and Turkestan were the most important centers of the Unani system of medicine in the world, and it was there that its greatest exponents and practitioners were born during the medieval age. After the establishment of Muslim power in India, and encouraged by the generous patronage the Muslim rulers extended to men of learning and ability, a steady stream of outstanding masters of the system poured into the country for a period stretching over five hundred years. Due to the priceless services rendered by these worthy men and their pupils—their spirit of dedication and high proficiency—the Unani system touched its peak in India. The indigenous systems (Ayurveda) faded into insignificance before the Unani system. No city or town was left without a practitioner of the Unani school. This system was cheap, simple, and in harmony with the Indian climatic and temperamental conditions. So it spread in India very quickly and did a wonderful service to the people, composed as they were mainly of the poorer classes. The Indian physicians, by their contribution, lent further glory to it. During the declining phase of Muslim rule, Delhi and Lucknow were its two major strongholds and now India remains the only country where this system is still in vogue.