Modernization of Agriculture, Industry and Trade by Muslim Rulers in India

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When Mughals came to India they saw that even though the soil was fertile but, few fruits were found in India and those too were of a poor quality. Most of them were grown wild. People did not take enough interest in the development of horticulture. The Mughals, on the other hand, were possessed of a refined taste and there was a great abundance of fruit in their native land. Fruit-cultivation, accordingly made rapid progress in India with coming of Mughals. Details of it can be found in the famous memoirs of Emperors Babar and Jahan­gir—Tuzuk-i-Babari and Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri respectively. The Mughals developed several new and delicious varieties of fruits by making extensive experiments in grafting. The mango is a well-known Indian fruit but, before the arrival of the Mughals, only one variety of mangoes, the seed-variety (Tukhmi) was in existence. It was the Mughals who developed the beautiful, luscious grafted mangoes. This step, in course of time, led to the introduction of numerous varieties of the fruit.

Development of Agriculture, Trade and Industry

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The same was the case with textile. Before coming of Muslims dresses in India were generally made from rough, coarse, cloth. A number of textile factories were set up in Gujarat by Sultan Mahmud Shah, better known as Mahmud Baigrah (d. 1511), where cloth weaving, dyeing, printing and design-laying were undertaken. He also established industrial centers for stone and ivory carving and paper-making. Gifted as he was with an advanced, constructive mind, the Sultan had succeeded in arousing a rare enthusiasm for progress in trade, industry and agriculture among his subjects.

Maulana Syed Abdul Hai says:

‘‘Among the outstanding works of the Sultan for the development of the country were included the construction of mosques and schools and the planting of fruit-bearing trees and orchards. He aroused the people magnificently for these tasks. He also built wells and canals for irrigation. Skilled artisans and craftsmen came to him from Iran and Turkestan and set up their crafts and industries in his kingdom. As a result, Gujarat had become a rich, fertile stretch of greenery with flourishing gardens, dense groves and delicious fruit as well as an important trading center which exported cloth to foreign lands. This was due entirely to the ceaseless efforts of Sultan Mahmud and the keen interest he took in the welfare of his people.”1

Reforms by Akbar and Sher Shah

Cloth-weaving factories were, also, established during the reign of Akbar. The great Mughal emperor, further, introduced many valuable agrarian reforms appertaining to the measurement of land, and the assessment and collection of land revenue. The improvements made by Sher Shah and Akbar in the field of finance, especially in coinage and currency, had not been heard of in India before. Sher Shah had a unique gift for legislation and administrative organisation. In fact, it was his example which Akbar followed later.

  1. Nuzhatul Khawatir, VoL IV, p. 345

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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