The Arab traders brought Islam to India

Irish dramatist Denis Johnston once said that myths are not created, they create themselves and then find expression in that which serves their purpose. Perhaps it's time we helped dispel some popular misconceptions.

When did Islam come to India?Islam was brought to India by Muslim invaders

Most historians now agree that India's introduction to Islam was through Arab traders and not Muslim invaders, as is generally believed. The Arabs had been coming to the Malabar coast in southern India as traders for a long time, well before Islam had been introduced in Arabia.

The Muslims are about 12% of India's population. But their influence on the Indian society was much stronger. The main reason was that there were many Muslims rulers in different parts of India. Most of the Muslim rulers of India were invaders from the west .(source-Times Of India)

Contrary to what is generally believed, Islam came to the shores of South Asia much before the Muslims invasions that took on the soil of India. The Islamic influence could be felt as early as 7th century AD when the Arab traders arrived. Trade ties between the sub-continent and Arabia are quite ancient. Arab traders visited the Malabar region, which happened to be a link between them and ports of South East Asia. Trade was on between them and the region even before Islam had been established in Arabia.

Islam was established in Saudi Arabia. But most of Islam's spreaders in India arrived from non-Arab countries (It must be noted that Arab traders and travellers had arrived into India even before Islam was established in Arabia. These Arabs probably had their own places of worship, later on transformed into mosques.). The first spreaders of Islam in India were individuals who saw in spreading Islam a holy precept. They began coming to India from the 11th century . They arrived in India from Bukhara, Turkey, Iran, Yemen and Afghanistan. The most famous preacher of Islam in India was Khwaja Chishti, who arrived from Iran and his sect is called Sufism. But the accepted assumption in India is that most of India's Muslims were converted to Islam through the sword. Meaning the Indians were given an option between death or adopting Islam. The third option was getting examined in Islam religion along with heavy taxes- Jeziya (poll tax) and Kharaj (property tax).

The process of converting Indians to Islam began in the 8th century, when the Arabs began invading north India and present day Pakistan. After the Arabs other Muslims invaded India. These invasions by Muslims in India were not continuous and not all Muslim invaders were Islamic fanatics. One of the Moghul emperors, Akbar, was very liberal and he even established a new religion, Din E Elahi, which included in it, beliefs from different religions. In some of the monuments built by Akbar symbols of different religions are visible. In contrast with Akbar his great grand son, Aurangazeb, was a fanatic Muslim and during his term the non-Muslims suffered a lot. Many worshipping sites of different religions were destroyed and transformed into mosques.

About the Path of Righteousness or Dharma

Dharma is the path of righteousness and living one's life according to the codes of conduct as described by the Hindu Scriptures.

Hinduism describes dharma as the natural universal laws whose observance enables humans to be contented and happy, and to save himself from degradation and suffering. Dharma is the moral law combined with spiritual discipline that guides one's life. Hindus consider dharma the very foundation of life. It means "that which holds" the people of this world and the whole creation. Dharma is the "law of being" without which things cannot exist.

Dharma is one of the most important themes within Hinduism. One often sees dharma translated as religion, duty, or even righteousness, but in fact, there is no single direct translation for dharma. Religion, duty and righteousness are not wrong; they are simply included within the idea of dharma. The word "dharma" comes from the Sanskrit root dhri, meaning to "uphold" or to "sustain." From this perspective, the best way to think of dharma is to say, "that which upholds or sustains the positive order of things: the nation, the community, the family and ultimately even the universe."

According to S. N. Goenka, teacher of Vipassana Meditation, the original meaning of dhamma is "dhareti iti dharmma", or "that which is contained". Dharma in the Buddhist scriptures has a variety of meanings, including "phenomenon" and "nature" or "characteristic".

Dharma also means "mental contents," and is paired with citta, which means heart-mind.

The pairing is paralleled with the combining of kaya (body) and vedana (feelings or sensations which arise within the body but are experienced through the mind), in major sutras such as the Mahasatipatthana sutra.

Dharma is also used to refer to the teachings of the Buddha, especially the discourses on the fundamental principles (such as the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path), as opposed to the parables and to the poems.

Qualities of Buddha Dharma

The Teaching of the Buddha also has six supreme qualities:

1.Svakkhato (Pali) The Dharma is not a speculative philosophy, but is the Universal Law found through enlightenment and is preached precisely. Therefore it is Excellent in the beginning (Sīla — Moral principles), Excellent in the middle (Samadhi — Concentration) and Excellent in the end, the only end that could result through fate. (Pańña — Wisdom).

2.Saditthiko (Pali) The Dharma can be tested by practice and therefore he who follows it will see the result by himself through his own experience.

3.Akāliko (Pali) The Dharma is able to bestow timeless and immediate results here and now, though no matter which means of travel, for which there is no need to wait until the future or next existence.

4.Ehipassiko (Pali) The Dharma welcomes all beings to put it to the test and to experience it for themselves.

5.Opāneyiko (Pali) The Dharma is capable of being entered upon and therefore it is worthy to be followed as a part of one's life.

6.Paccattam veditabbo viññūhi (Pali) The Dharma may be perfectly realized only by the noble disciples (Pali: Ariyas) who have matured and who have become enlightened in supreme wisdom.

Knowing these attributes, Buddhists hold that they will attain the greatest peace and happiness through the practice of Dharma. Each person is therefore fully responsible to engage in their own practice and commitment.(Source:Wikipedia)

“Dharma” means “protection”. By practising Buddha’s teachings we protect ourself from suffering and problems. All the problems we experience during daily life originate in ignorance, and the method for eliminating ignorance is to practise Dharma.(from web)
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