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.

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