Category: Muslims in India

Who Saved Islamic Beliefs from Corruption During 17th Century in India

Mujaddid Alf i Saani

Owing to various natural and historical factors, India had come to be the nerve-centre of religious and spiritual correction and reform during the declining phase of Islamic supremacy. Proselytizing and reformationist activities made such an advance in India that many other countries were also influenced by them. Religious preachers and renovators were born here who on the strength of their earnestness, learning and popularity, the effectiveness of their appeal and the great number of people who profited by their efforts and by their natural harmony with the real spirit of Islam and its call constituted the choicest examples of Islamic missionaries and reformers.

The most elevated among these religious guides and redeemers was Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi (d. 1624) upon whom men of vision and understanding have conferred the title of Mujaddid Alf-i-Sani (the Renovator of the Second Millennium). It was he who;

  1. Renewed and strengthened the bond of Indian Muslims with Islam
  2. Saved the Shariat from being corrupted by innovations and the apostasy of the extremist Sufis, as they were openly inclined towards the pantheistic doctrine of Wahdat-ul-Wajood (God is everything and everything is God).
  3. It was he again, who rescued the Mughal Empire from the whirlpool of irreligiousness it had got caught into.
  4. Put a check on the highly dangerous movement for the unity and amalgamation of faiths (Deen-i-Ilaahi)
  5. Put a check on the revival of Brahmanism.
  6. The great devotee of Allah and indefatigable crusader in His cause, Aurangzeb, too, was a product of his mighty struggle.

The Sufistic Order founded by him still endures, besides India, in countries like Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Kurdistan and Syria.The popularity this Order acquired through the efforts of his disciple, Allama Khalid Shahrazori Kurdi (d. 1826) in Arabia, Kurdistan, Syria and Turkey has not come by the way of any other Sufi System1

1. Usman-us-Sanad: Asfat Mawared fi Tarjuma Hazrat Saiyyadna Khalid, and Mohammad Amin Ibn Omar Abideen: Sallul Husam-il-Hindi Le Nusrat-i Maulana Khalid Naqshbandi

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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What Muslim World Lost and India Gained During Tartar Invasion

Tartar invasion

A sort of intellectual stagnation had come over the Muslim World after the Mongol invasion. Minds had become sterile and blindly imitative. Intellectual activity was brought almost to a standstill. The picture of degeneration became complete with the approach of the 14th century when lethargy and inertia crept also into the other branches of life. With a few exceptions, like Ibn-i-Khaldun, the Islamic World could not produce anyone during the period under review who was above the general level of mediocrity.

But India, on account of its physical remoteness from the scene, managed comparatively to escape from the ravages of the decay. The Tartars who had descended upon the World of Islam like a terrible scourge, spelling ruin and destruction wherever they went, could not spread their tentacles fully over India because of its geographical isolation. Consequently, a major proportion of the finest brains of the Muslim World had sought safety by migrating to India and settling down here as permanent citizens. Because of them intellectual activity here was kept going for a considerable length of time, brisk endeavors continued to be in evidence in the literary field, and men of learning and wisdom did not cease to come forward who can rightfully be ranked among the foremost thinkers and scholars of Islam.

One discovers, for example, in the writings of Sheikh Sharafuddin Yahya Maneri (d. 1370), Sheikh-ul-Islam Shah Waliullah Dehlavi (d. 1762), Shah Rafiuddin Dehlavi (d. 1817) and Shah Ismail Shaheed Dehlavi (d. 1830) new literary values and original modes of thinking that are generally absent from the works of their contemporaries in the other parts of the Muslim World.

The Indian Muslims have during all the stages of their career produced such exalted personalities as have been the envy of the world. Even under the British regime, where a deliberate policy was pursued to liquidate them intellectually and economically,1 they did not stop sending forth eminent legislators, administrators, mathematicians and educationists and such brilliant masters of the English language whose proficiency and skill was acknowledged by Englishmen themselves.

 

1. Hunter, W.W. : Indian Musalmans

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

What is Akbar Nama and Ain-i-Akbari ?

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Abul Fazl and Fyzee were the choicest glories of the court of Akbar. Irrespective of their religious and spiritual views and conduct and the harm they did thereby to the cause of Islam in India, they were without a doubt among the most outstanding men of their time not only in India but the whole literary world. Both of them were gifted with exceptional mental faculties, a rare love for learning and an extraordinary poetic and literary taste and aptitude. Fyzee deserves a place among the all-lime masters of Iran for his Persian poetry, while Abul Fazl’s Ain-i-Akbari and Akbar Nama are marvels or knowledge and wisdom and observation and analysis. Says Carra de Vaux of Akbar Nama :

“Akbar Nama is an extraordinary literary work; it is overflowing with life, ideas and facts. A study of it reveals that all the fields of human existence have been thoroughly examined and the conclusions thus reached have been critically arranged and analysed. The eyes arc dazzled by the continuous evolution of ideas it contains. It is a literary document of which the entire oriental civilization can be proud. The persons whose mighty intellects have introduced themselves through this voluminous book seem to be far ahead of their age in administration and state craft, and not only in administration and slate craft but religious philosophy as well. These poets and thinkers saw the material world with a highly penetrating eye. They were given to observe everything very deeply and to preserve in their minds what they saw. They used to experience every thing personally and examine their own views and notions against the background of facts. On the one hand, their mode of expression was rich and eloquent, and, on the other, they supported and fortified their statements with facts and figures.”1

 1. Carra de Vaux: ‘Penseur de I’slam’ (Paris, 1921)

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

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

 

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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

mongols-baghdad

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

muslims-praying-at-kabah

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

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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).