The Spread of Islam in India
There are different religions practiced by different people. This means that every country has religious beliefs that can be as diverse as social and cultural factors. However, there are some religions that have the longer history than others. This is due to methods of their introduction as well as of their spread in a particular religion. This is the case that is found in India. Hinduism is one of the most practiced religions. Islam is another most practiced religion after Hinduism. However, Islam does not have its origins in India. It is a foreign religion that has been introduced into their country. This introduction of the religion was carried out in a lot of different ways. Therefore, it is a phenomenon that is worth discussing.
The introduction and spread of Islam is an intriguing topic. The spread of this religion is not similar to the one of other religions. The Islamic religion is associated with the Islam rule. Therefore, it brings two contradicting factors into the equation. These two factors comprise religion and the rule. While creating rules the use of authority is essential. It means putting measures that have to be followed. However, religion is about convincing (Ray 3). The preachers are the most important people who are involved in the spread of religion. Therefore, religion and rule are two different phenomena. However, it is not the case when it comes to the spread of Islam. These two factors moved hand in hand when the Islam was spread. Therefore, the spread of Islam in India did not only signify the acceptance of the religion. It also represented the introduction of a new rule into the system. It would include setting up rules that people did not feel comfortable about. However, the use of force worked like a charm. That is how Islam was so widely spread in India.
There are a lot of factors that have favored the introduction and spread of Islam in India. There are also a lot of changes caused by the existence of this religion in the country. For example, a prevailing part of the Indian economy was boosted by the Muslims (Cowerd 302). However, there were no cases of religious clashes in India. It is something that is normal for some countries with two opposing religion. The bond between the Hindus and the Muslims of India is as impressing as it sounds. They have been able to live together without any problems. Therefore, their relationship has always been productive for both parties.
The introduction of Islam into India occurred in the 7th century. The Arab merchants were the first who introduced this religion into India. It happened in the time of their trading at the Malabar Coast. However, the complete spread and conquest of Islam occurred between the 13th and 16th centuries. By that time, it had already spread to the North. These merchants came to India either to trade or to spend their holidays in the majority of cases. However, the spread of Islam in India was slow in the 7th century because the traders were mainly focused on one particular area. This slow growth and spread of Islam did not happen for a long time. More Indians were attracted to the religion. Consequently, the spread and conversion became cumulative in terms of numbers. It happened during the spread of Islam to the Northern part of the country. It occurred in the 13th century. It has continued up to our days (Gopal 211). However, this spread was not as fast as it may seem to be. It was a longer process that should not be omitted while analyzing the spread of Islam in India.
Since the 1st to the 6th centuries, there had been numerous attacks on South Asia. They also happened in the 10th century. The major attackers of this time were the Muslims. However, these Muslim invaders differed from the rest of proceeding invaders. When other invaders attacked India, they got assimilated into the Indian social system. They were not able to preserve their religion, social and cultural traditions. It must have been caused by the lack of rich cultural values. It could also be caused by the invaders’ vulnerability to the existent social systems. However, it was not the case with the Muslim invaders. They did not fit into the existent social system. Instead, they remained loyal to their cultural and social traditions (Khadili 226). Moreover, they even influenced the natives. A lot of people were converted to Islam when the Muslims invaded India. Therefore, when the Muslims conquered some parts of India, it resulted in Islam becoming the most wide-spread religion of the population. It played a prominent role in the introduction and spread of Islam. It also meant that the Muslims introduced and implemented their own administrative systems.
Each society of any invaded country preserves a sense of rebellion. That is caused by forcing people to do certain things. Therefore, there existed the rebellion in India. The Muslim conquerors used to force their culture and religion onto the native population. It was unacceptable for the Indians. However, the Muslim invasions lasted for a long time. There was enough time for the Indians to join their religion and adopt their cultural practices. Therefore, the penetration of Islam into India was vast. It also meant the infiltration of culture into the smaller tribes that existed in India, which was another factor that influenced the fast spread of Islam (Hinnells 449). In the times of conquer, some Muslim leaders accommodated to the culture and practices of the local people. Akbar was one of the leaders who followed this tradition. Besides, it diminished the conflict between different cultures because local people felt comfortable with the imposed laws, rules and regulations. Some Muslim leaders were willing to accept and uphold local practices. Therefore, the policy of secular leaders also affected the spread of Islam in India.
The introduction of Islam into India is as essential as the spread and development of the religion over the years. The spread and development of Islam occurred, first of all, through intermarriages. It is essentially true that the Muslims were invading India. They urged the process of conquering most parts of India to their advantage. However, the contacts between the Muslims and the locals should not be overlooked. The Muslim invaders and merchants were in constant contact with the Indians. They intermingled during trade and wars. For example, Al Muhallab conquered some parts of India through invasions. However, his main goal was not the acquisition of land. He aimed at acquiring soldiers to fight for him in the battles. Therefore, captured Indians were incorporated into the armies of the Muslims. It was a significant source of intermingling. The Muslims and the Indians got to know each other. Islam seemed to be extremely attractive for the Indians.
During trade constant exchange of products and commodities happened. However, it could not happen without communication. People were engaged into constant trade on the territory from Malabar to the North of India. Both parties had practices that the other party found appealing. The Muslims were attracted to the local religion and vice versa. However, the Muslims seemed to be more influential (Lapidus 198). The obvious consequences of this constant intermingling were intermarriages of these two ethnic groups. Although there might have been rivalries and conflicts between them, it could not act as a hindrance for intermingling. Furthermore, these two groups have been intermingling for a long time. India with its rich resources has always been a target for enemies, for instance for the Muslims. Trade seemed to be a promising field in India. Therefore, the Muslims always returned to conduct more and more trade. Therefore, there was constant contact that encouraged intermarriages.
The Muslims are extremely religious people. Most of them could even sacrifice their lives for the sake of their religion. Their loyalty and faithfulness were also displayed during the conquest of India. Other conquering nations always turned the natives into slaves. However, the Muslims did not pursue such agenda. They conquered the nation and co-existed with native people in peace if they did not rebel. Therefore, these people used to stay together. Each group took and welcomed the traditions and beliefs of the other one. It caused the growth of a strong bond between these two groups. Numerous marriages occurred and made the infiltration of Islam more successful. The wide spread took a long time. However, intermarriages by themselves could not enable the spread of the religion. There were as well other factors that caused the wide and fast spread of Islam in India.
Beside the marriages between these two groups, there was also the issue of conversion. Some people opted to change their religion out of free will. As the Muslims were spending more time with the Indians, there appeared a mutual sense of attraction between the cultures. This attraction seemed to affect the Indians more than the Muslims. The Indians were more attracted to the Muslims and their religious practices (Yegar 13). Therefore, most of them succumbed to the pressure they were enduring as a result of the conquest. Some Indian young men were also taken by the Muslims to act as soldiers. Before, during and after the war, most of these young men were converted into Islam. This fact also contributed to the fast spread of the religion in every corner of India. However, there were some Indians that stuck to Hindu. It does not mean that they were not affected by the Muslims. The leaders of the Muslims who had conquered some parts of India were not harsh towards the native inhabitants. They gave them the freedom of worshipping their gods. Therefore, it was extremely difficult for Islam to become superior to Hindu in India.
Economic integration is another factor that can explain the spread of Islam in India. It is applicable even to the modern society. The connection and relationships between any countries are enormously affected by economic factors because each nation wants to be the economic benefactor in the relationships. It is especially true of the developing nations that might require extensive aid from the outside. Similar situation happened between the Muslims and the Indians. Both nations were involved in trade. They seemed to have different needs and requirements in aspects concerning the trade. Nonetheless, they were able to conduct efficient and mutually beneficial trade. Moreover, their knowledge of economic issues was complementary. They depended on each other in the process of improvement of the economic situation of India. Therefore, it was a sort of grand collaboration between these two parties. Each party needed something from the other. Therefore, their cooperation resembled a combination of these two economies. The result of this combination is that India has experienced positive results in the economic world.
Any religion needs its agents to have the ability to spread the gospel. The Muslims had Sufi preachers all over India. These preachers were extremely convincing in communication. They sort of advertised their worldview in all corners of India (Hitchens 136). They were assigned with the authority by the leaders who had already conquered most of Asia. People in India could not resist the preaching of these spiritual leaders. At first, the majority of the natives were resistant to the preaching. However, it did not last long. The continuous and consistent preaching finally reached their hearts. Therefore, they agreed to join the religion. The rate of conversion from Hinduism was higher than that of conversion from Islam into Hinduism. The number of Hindus was decreasing while the number of Muslims was increasing. It posed a serious threat to the people who intended to keep India pure and free from external cultures and contaminations.
Peaceful integration into the religion was not the only way how the Muslims attracted and converted more and more Indians. Scholars believe that the Muslims involved force in their quest for converting more Indians. Some sources say that the Muslims had already waged the Jihad war on the Indians. However, it is a controversial issue that causes different opinions. However, there are some factors that cannot be refuted. For example, statistics proves that the number of Indians has increased in the times of attacks and invasions. It seems to be arguable as it was the post census period. Therefore, the data cannot be accurate. However, there must be a grain of truth in this theory. The Muslim invasions of India were numerous. A lot of Indians died during these attacks because the invasions occurred across the whole subcontinent (Lockard 378). Therefore, the increase in the percentage of the Indians that were actually the Muslims was automatic. It was caused not solely by conversion, but rather by the death of many Indians while the rest was converted into Islam.
Besides the introduction and spread of Islam, there arises the issue of its evolution as well. The variant of Islam introduced into India is quite different from the Islam that exists on the subcontinent today. Islam was not introduced to people who had not had a religion before. The Indian people had an established religion before the invasion of the Muslims. Therefore, people who had been converted into another religion could not follow all its rules and regulations. Therefore, this religion acquired numerous alterations in the process of its introduction. Another fact is that people who accepted the conversion were mainly attracted by some practices of the Islamic religion. Therefore, they left their religion in order to conform to their personal interests. However, it could not become the finite process because the world is dynamic. There is a daily increase in terms of modernization and technological change. Economic changes are experienced by nations all over the world. Consequently, religious beliefs and practices have to change and evolve with time. Therefore, evolution becomes a crucial factor for Islam in its reference to India.
The evolution of Islam in India is best explained in terms of the increase in technology and other modern practices. Indian Muslims have been actively engaged in technology for the past few decades. Various inventions have occurred in India. Most of these technologies are associated with the Islamic religion because they come from countries like Iraq and Iran. Other factors also contribute to the increase in technology. However, the fact that Islam has played an enormous role is undisputable. Extensive developments start with the smaller ones. In the ancient times, the Indians were considered to be exceptionally conservative and true to their traditions because they did not incorporate new technologies into their work. However, the situation changed after the introduction of Islam on the subcontinent (Bulliet et al. 346). There happened the introduction of numerous technologies that had not existed before. For example, the architecture in India is mainly built in accordance with the Islamic traditions because the designs of the houses were introduced by the Muslims. It is just one representation of numerous phenomena that have been introduced into India.
Nowadays, people in India have become more creative and vibrant in the world of economy. The source of this motivation is the Islamic religion that has been introduced there. The Indians are now the proud owners of large corporations, factories and businesses. Their activities are not limited by religious beliefs that sometimes have the capacity to hinder success. All the unfavorable beliefs and practices have been eliminated by Islam. Therefore, the Indians have been left with a set of realistic rules and regulations. They are people who are developing at a remarkably fast rate. It is clear that it could not have happened without the introduction of Islam. Prior to the Muslim invasion, the rate of the Indians’ development had been extremely minimal and insufficient. This fact proves that success and development in India have been boosted by the introduction of Islam.
Islam spread by the Sufi preachers was entirely different from the form it later evolved into. Islam was altered and maneuvered to suit the needs of the people. This evolution in religion may be explained by the economy. First of all, Islam is a religion that possesses the power to create rules. Therefore, there is a chance that these rules can be altered for the people’s benefit as it happened in India. The economy of India depended greatly on agricultural countries. Therefore, it was a main source of their revenue. However, trade was the main activity of this region. Therefore, Indians had to alter rules of Islam to suit their own interests as it happened with tax rates. Tax rates for the agricultural products were the highest. However, the taxation concerning trade was reduced. Thus, the Indians could benefit more than the rest of willing investors.
The majority of the Muslims who introduced Islam into India were business oriented. It is proved by the fact that they were mainly involved in trading. Therefore, the religion did not just concern beliefs and cultural values. It concerned the predisposition to invest and earn more money. It is evident even in present India because the attitude of the Indians has totally changed. In the past, Indians just opted for being peasant farmers. This way they earned for a living. They did not have a lot of business ideas. However, nowadays there exists an utterly different India. The Indians are often involved in business. It is not only applicable to India, but also to every country that hosts the Indians. In some countries the Indians come and set up businesses that pose a real threat to the existing ones in the host country. Business has become a sort of culture in the Indian community. It is like a trade mark that defines them and differentiates them from other communities.
Construction in India is another factor that originates from the introduction and spread of Islam on the subcontinent. The Muslims have a unique way and manner of building. The use of ceramic tiles is their unique way of building that is not often upheld. There are traditions in architecture that are inspired by Islam. They originate from countries like Iraq and Iran. Therefore, Islam has transformed India into a completely new nation. Older buildings with old designs were forgotten because the introduction of their alternative seemed to be more attractive. This scenario may seem hilarious to people because religion is expected to prioritize the faith of people. However, it is not the case with India as it came with other attachments that were not actually preached.
At first, the Indians began to view Islam simply as another forced religion. Some of them even hated the Muslims. If they had the ability to fight, they would. However, they did not have this ability. Therefore, they just adjusted. With time, people in India started to accept the religion. Later, they noticed that this religion could be regarded a blessing in disguise. Hinduism was associated with many drawbacks and evils. For example, people were cast away from the society because of the factors that they could not control, yet people still followed this religion. However, they understood that some of these practices contradicted some societal expectations. That is why, most of the Indians were easily converted into Islam. They view Islam as an opportunity to have an alternative religion that was fair and just in terms of rules and regulations. Therefore, Islam has functioned to transform India.
Taking into account all explanations and arguments concerning the spread of Islam in India, it should have comprised the larger part of population on the subcontinent. However, it is not the case because Islam rule suffered a short period of decline. It is an ordinary phenomenon for a foreign religion as it is not easy for people to embrace it fully. Therefore, Islam rule suffered much rebellion. The Chhatrapati Shivaji’s rebellion is a vivid example of the rebellions that complicated the spread of Islam. The Indians rejected any foreign rule during this rebellion including the Islamic and European rule. Due to this reason Hinduism is more wide spread than Islam in India. It is a proof that it is impossible to rob people of their own religion completely. It also proves that the Indians were not as vulnerable as it was considered.
These two religions can be considered as two opposing phenomena. However, there are a lot of advantages arousing from the collision of these two religions. For example, the art of making money was introduced by the Muslims in India. Therefore, the Indians have to thank the Muslims for their development and current economic status. No group is flawless. This saying is also applicable to religions (Wink 54). There are no flawless religions. It can be explained either by unfavorable rules or conceptual misunderstanding concerning the religion. So, Islam as well as Hinduism had flaws. The merging of these two religions enabled to eliminate these flaws. When another religion is present, it is easy to identify the flaws of one’s own religion because the direct substitute is available. Therefore, Islam has constantly changed over the years. It is true that this change is caused by many factors. However, the contamination by Hinduism has caused the alterations of the Islamic religion. It has enabled to come up with a new religion that favored the needs of people as well as respected human rights. For example, Hind had beliefs that allowed to cast people out. Followers of a religion should respect this religion as well as its rules. However, it is necessary to be realistic about the facts and rules. It has been achieved through merging these two religions.
Islam has played a tremendous role in the development and existence of the present India. However, some of its influences may be perceived as negative because they had not an extremely beneficial impact on people. Nevertheless, it is obvious that positive effects of this religion outweigh the negative ones. Therefore, Islam is a religion that should be appreciated by the Indians as well as by other Kenyans. The interrelation of these two religions should also serve as an example of how two contrasting religions can coexist without conflicts.