Advent Of Islam In India History Essay
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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016
Islam first arrived in India via the sea trade routes, along with Islamic invaders and Sufi mystics, and subsequently became a major religion in the Indian sub-continent. Since the early part of the 8th century AD, Arab traders had arrived and traded in the coastal regions of western and southern India, including Surat in western Gujarat and the Malabar Coast in Kerala and settled there. India thus became part of the “Islamic trade routes.” During this period many of the locals came in contact with Islam and its teachings, and a few subsequently converted.
The muslim subjugation of the Indian subcontinent from the North West mainly took place from the 12th century onwards. Though the earlier muslim invasions made limited inroads into the region due to the presence of powerful hindu rulers, Sindh and Multan were captured in 8th century. Unlike earlier conquerors that assimilated into prevalent social systems, muslim conquerors retained their Islamic identity and created legal and administrative systems that challenged the existing systems of social conduct, culture, religious practices, lifestyle and ethics.
It took several centuries for Islam to stretch across India and how it did so is a subject of passionate debate. Some quarters hold that hindus were forcibly converted to Islam by the establishment of Jizya and Dhimmi favoring muslim citizens, and the threat of naked force. Others hold that it occurred through inter-marriage, conversions, economic integration, and through the influence of Sufi preachers [i] .
Sufi Mystics. Sufism started in India during the 14th century and played an important role in Islam gaining acceptability in the sub continent. Sufis were mystics emphasizing devotion, instead of strict adherence to Islam. Sufis acted as “missionaries” who spread the message of Islam in terms that the diasporas could understand. They were also influenced by hindu culture and incorporated shrine worship which popularised the Sufi movement even more. [ii] The shrines of Khwaja Syed Muhammad Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmer and Shaikh Salim Chishti of Fatehpur Sikri are still venerated all over the sub continent by hindus and muslims alike.
5. Muslim Dynasties of India. [iii] Since the twelfth century AD, several muslim dynasties ruled India. Of these perhaps the Mughals were the most significant. The dynasties are listed below:-
Slave dynasty (1199-1290).
Khilji dynasty (1290-1320).
Tughlaq dynasty (1320-1414).
Saiyyid dynasty (1414-1450).
Lodhi dynasty (1450-1526).
Mughal dynasty (1526-1857).
6. Mughal Empire. By the end of the 16th century, the Delhi Sultanate was replaced by the Mughals. The Mughals too did not see religious conversion as their main aim; for them establishing domination over India and controlling its riches was more important. Under the rule of the third Mughal emperor, Akbar the Great, the character of the administration became secular and a hindu-muslim ruling class was created. Akbar also abolished the jizya that the hindus and other non-muslims had to pay. Religious bigotry reared its head under Emperor Aurangzeb, a strict Sunni, who persecuted hindus and sikhs. Following his death, the Mughal dynasty entered a period of decline and was finally overthrown by the British in 1858. [iv]
PRE INDEPENDENCE SCENARIO, IMPACT OF MUSLIM LEAGUE AND JINNAH
7. By the end of the 19th century quite a few nationalistic movements had started in India. Indian nationalism had grown largely since British policies of education and the move forward made by the British in India in the fields of transportation and communication. However, their complete inconsiderateness to and distance from the people of India and their society created such disillusionment with them in their subjects that the end of British rule became essential and inevitable.
8. Although it started with a call for ‘self rule’ or Swaraj, the movement soon gained momentum of a freedom struggle. There was however ideological divide between the muslims and the hindus of India at that time. While there were strong feelings of nationalism in India, there were also communal conflicts and movements in the country that were based on religious communities rather than class or regional ones. Some people felt that the very nature of Islam called for a communal muslim society. Added to this were the memories of power over the Indian subcontinent that the muslims held on to, especially those in the old centers of Mughal rule. There was however a severe drawback for the muslims as they found that the hindus were now in better positions in government than they were. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was the first to conceive of a separate muslim homeland.
9. Hindu revivalists also deepened the gap between the two nations. They resented the muslims for their former rule over India. hindu revivalists rallied for a ban on the slaughter of cows, a cheap source of meat for the muslims. They also wanted to change the official script form the Persian to the hindu devanagri script, effectively making hindi rather than Urdu the main candidate for the national language. [v]
10. The fear in some muslim quarters, especially those living in hindu dominated areas (United Provinces – now UP), that the muslims would not be guaranteed safety and freedom in a primarily hindu India after independence led to the formation of The
muslim League in 1906. The Muslim League gained influence and support in due course and was later led by the charismatic Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Differences with the Indian National Congress which was seen as a hindu party led to the demand for an independent Pakistan. Thus the two nation theory was born and executed with disastrous results.
PARTITION AND ITS IMPACT ON PAKISTANI PSYCHE
“Leave India to God. If that is too much, then leave her to anarchy.” –Gandhi, April
11. The partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947 was one of the greatest and most vicious upheavals of the 20th century. It was an event whose consequences were utterly unexpected and whose significance was never fully spelled out or understood either by the politicians who took the decision or the millions of muslims, hindus and sikhs who were to become its victims.
12. The partition of India left both India and Pakistan devastated. The process of partition had claimed many lives in the riots. 15 million refugees poured across the
borders to regions completely foreign to them, for though they were hindu or muslim, their identity had been embedded in the regions where their ancestors were from. Not
only was the country divided, but so were the provinces of Punjab and Bengal, divisions which caused catastrophic riots and claimed the lives of hindus, muslims and sikhs alike.
13. Many years after the partition, the two nations are still trying to heal the wounds left behind by this incision to once-whole body of India. Many are still in search of an identity and a history left behind beyond an impenetrable boundary. The two countries started off with ruined economies and lands and without an established, experienced system of government. The partitioned sowed the seeds of hate and mistrust between the two communities which is being used till date to flare up extreme emotions in both countries.
POST PARTITION PAKISTAN
“A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.”
14. The death of Muhammad Ali Jinnah in 1948, the conflict with India over the Princely State of Kashmir, as well as ethnic and religious differences within Pakistan itself, all combined to stump early attempts to agree on a constitution and an effectively functioning civil government in Pakistan. This breakdown paved the way for a military takeover of the government in 1958 and later on, a civil war in 1971. It also saw the splitting up of the country and the creation of the separate state of Bangladesh. Ever since then, military rule has been more often than not, the order of the day in Pakistan.
15. Radicalisation of the Pakistani society started in earnest during the rule of General Zia Ul Haq (1977-88). Financial assistance was provided by the USA and Middle East countries in the name of the ‘jihad’ in Afghanistan. The predominant sufi culture of Pakistan was steadily replaced by the more stern and purist Wahabbism which preached war against the infidels. This was later used by Pakistan to encourage unrest and terrorism in J&K. To add to this, years of misgovernance and military rule plunged the Pakistani economy in dire straits which in turn gave rise to poverty and joblessness. This became a fertile breeding soil for terrorists of today. The role of the Pakistani military, especially the ISI in abating terror networks is for the world to see.
THE INDO PAK WARS
16. First Indo-Pak War (1947-49). The first war between the two neighbours broke out soon after their independence in 1947. Armed raiders from the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan entered the territory of Maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir, who was yet undecided on the issue of accession to either India or Pakistan. Indian military help was sought by the Maharaja and Indian forces arrived on 27 October, after the Maharaja decided on accession of Kashmir to Indian Union. In August, the UN called for an end to hostilities to be followed by a referendum for self-determination among Kashmiris. In all, 1,500 soldiers died on each side during the war, which left about 30 per cent of Kashmir-including areas of Gilgat, Hunza, Nagar, and Baltistan-under Pakistani control.
17. Second Indo-Pak War (August 5 – Sept 23, 1965). Pakistan attacked India in an operation code named Gibraltar on August 5, 1965. In a powerful retaliation Indian troops captured the strategic Haji Pir Pass. Pakistan then launched Operation Grand Slam to take the Akhnoor Bridge and cut off the lifeline of supplies to southwest Kashmir which was repulsed by India.
18. The UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution on September 20 that called for a ceasefire. New Delhi and Islamabad accepted the ceasefire, and the war ended on 23 September. USSR brokered Tashkent Declaration was signed on 10 January 1966.
19. Third Indo-Pak War (1971). The 1971 Indo-Pak war initially started as a civil war in East Pakistan (Bangladesh) as a result of political oppression by the ruling elite of West Pakistan. Over 80 lakh refugees entered India. Indian government repeatedly appealed to the international community, but failing to elicit any response, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi decided to help Bengali freedom fighters liberate East Pakistan in April 1971. In one of the swiftest military campaigns in recent history, India liberated Bangladesh in two weeks, taking 93,000 Prisoner of Wars.
20. This crushing defeat left a deep scar on the psyche of the Pakistanis who felt humiliated and held India responsible for the dismembering Pakistan. This distrust lasts to this day. The Pakistani establishment realized that they were far inferior to India in conventional might and hence started their nuclear program. The Pakistani strategy of ‘bleeding India through a thousand cuts’ also emanates from this defeat.
21. Kargil War (1999). Infiltrators in the Batalik sector were first discovered by Indian Army patrols on May 8, 1999. The intruders, comprising mostly Pak Army
regulars, along with a sprinkling of militants, were specially trained and equipped by Pakistan.
22. On 6 June, the Indian Army launched Operation Vijay with the objective to evict the intruders and keep the crucial Srinagar-Leh highway free from any Pakistani threat. By July 11, Pakistani infiltrators started retreating from Kargil as India recaptured key peaks. Operation Vijay was declared a success on July 14.
KASHMIR – THE BONE OF CONTENTION
23. In 1947, when the British granted India its independence, roughly five hundred princely states in India were given the choice of joining the Paksitani or the Indian union. While the Maharaja of Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh was wavering between joining India or becoming an independent country, the Pakistani army attacked Kashmir. The King asked India for help. India agreed to help on the condition that Kashmir would be part of the Indian Republic. The king hastily signed a document agreeing to join the union of India. The Pakistanis felt that he had no right to do that since the majority of his subjects were muslim and would have sided with Pakistan and appealed to the international community to restore Kashmir to Pakistan or call for a referendum. Though they tried hard to get the UN involved, Pakistan never mustered any international
backing to their cause. For the Indians, Kashmir symbolised the secular constitutional nature of the Indian Union.
24. This left the Pakistanis feeling bitter and frustrated and they felt the international community had unfairly sided with India. Pakistan’s founding politicians swore a ‘thousand year struggle’ to get Kashmir ‘back’. This obsession with Kashmir and India has had serious and crippling consequences to Pakistan’s democracy. Military coups became a common place in Pakistan, the military became the dominant institution in the country and smashed democratic institutions and encouraged religious fanaticism. In
the ensuing years, Pakistanis have invested Billions in a nuclear bomb, untold amounts in a vast military machine and also abetted various ‘Jihadi’ outfits which have come back to haunt Pakistan in the form of uncontrolled domestic terrorism.
25. Following are some of the highs and lows in relations India and Pakistan:-
(a) 1947. Britain divides its Indian empire into secular but mainly hindu India and muslim Pakistan, triggering one of the greatest and bloodiest migrations of modern history.
(b) 1947/48. India and Pakistan go to war over Kashmir. The war ends with a U.N.-ordered ceasefire and resolution seeking a plebiscite for the people of Jammu and Kashmir to decide whether to become part of India or Pakistan.
(c) 1965. India and Pakistan fight their second war over Kashmir. Fighting ends after United Nations calls for ceasefire.
(d) 1971. Pakistan and India go to war a third time, this time over East Pakistan, which becomes independent Bangladesh.
(e) 1974. India detonates its first nuclear device.
(f) 1989. Separatist revolt starts in Kashmir. India accuses Pakistan of arming and sending Islamist militants into Indian Kashmir, which Pakistan denies.
(g) 1998. India carries out nuclear tests. Pakistan carries out its own tests in response.
(h) 1999. India and Pakistan fight a brief but intense conflict in Kargil.
(j) December 2001. Militants attack Indian parliament. India blames Pakistan based Kashmiri terrorist groups. The military is mobilized on either side of the border.
(k) July 2008. India blames Pakistan’s ISI intelligence agency for a bomb attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul.
(l) November 2008. Ten gunmen launch multiple attacks in Mumbai, killing 166 people. India blames Pakistan based militants and breaks off talks with Pakistan.
TERRORISM AS A TOOL OF NATIONAL POLICY OF PAKISTAN
26. Pakistan has been accused by India, Afghanistan, the United States, the United Kingdom and many other countries of involvement in terrorism in Kashmir and Afghanistan. In July 2009, current President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari admitted that the Pakistani government had “created and nurtured” terrorist groups to achieve its short-term foreign policy goals. According to an analysis, Pakistan was the worlds ‘most active’ state sponsor of terrorism including aiding groups which were considered a direct threat to the world. [vii]
27. All apprehended or surrendered terrorists in J&K have admitted that Pakistan was training terrorists from various nationalities in camps in POK. Pakistan has denied any involvement in terrorist activities in Kashmir, arguing that it only provides political and moral support to the ‘freedom fighters’. The UN has publicly increased pressure on Pakistan on its inability to control its Afghanistan border and not restricting the activities of Taliban leaders who have been designated by the UN as terrorists.
28. Pakistan has also been playing both sides in the US “War on Terror”. Ahmed Rashid, a noted Pakistani journalist, has accused Pakistan’s ISI of providing help to the Taliban. Author Gordon Thomas stated that whilst aiding in the capture of al-Qaeda members, Pakistan “still sponsored terrorist groups in the disputed state of Kashmir, funding, training and arming them in their war on attrition against India”. Journalist Stephen Schwartz notes that several militant and criminal groups are “backed by senior officers in the Pakistani army, ISI and o8her armed bodies of the state”. According to author, Daniel Byman, “Pakistan is probably today’s most active sponsor of terrorism”.
29. The Inter-Services Intelligence is guilty of playing a role in major terrorist attacks across the world including the in the United States and many other attacks in India and Europe. Based on communication intercepts US intelligence agencies concluded Pakistan’s ISI was behind the 2008 attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul and the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
30. Learning from their past history of clashes, present internal disorder and looking into the future of the sub continent in general and the Indo Pak relations in particular one can attempt a fair prediction of things to come. One can forecast one or more of the scenarios for India and Pakistan relations as given out in succeeding paragraphs.
31 Conflicts. There have been four major wars and one limited war (1999) between India and Pakistan. Except for the 1971 war all the others were fought over Kashmir. Though both countries have not fought a major war directly for the last three decades, and now perhaps the prospects of it have further dwindled with both countries acquiring nuclear deterrents, but the chances of a Kargil type conflict remains high so long as the Kashmir dispute persists.
32. Border Tensions. India and Pakistan have always behaved like two unfriendly neighbours especially along the borders where one hears of border skirmishes, periodical hostility in the form of exchange of fire and intrusions leading to heightened tension also the border areas. The line of control dividing both India and Pakistan in
Jammu and Kashmir and the actual ground position line (AGPL) on the Saltoro ridge are the two main theatres of violence and tension.
33. Fuelling of Internal Conflicts. We have seen cross border interventions or supporting of terrorism in a clandestine manner by Pakistan, and it has also provided support for many of India’s internal conflicts. Its role in supporting militants has been prominent in Punjab, Northeast and Kashmir. It is expected that Pakistan would employ all possible means to weaken India.
34 Subversion. Pakistan is known to carry out its covert operations through its powerful intelligence agency the ISI, whereas it levies similar allegations on the India’s external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). This is likely to continue.
35. Hostile Propaganda. Both India and Pakistan have conducted hostile propaganda campaigns with a view to mobilizing the international opinion and support for their respective causes. The issue of human rights and the question of self
determination of the people of Kashmir are the tools of the Pakistani propaganda against India. Not only this, it has left no stone unturned to raised the Kashmir issue in the international forays which will be the norm in the near future.
36. Belligerent Behaviour. Both India and Pakistan have adopted this behaviour marking acute tension in their bilateral relations. A noticeable feature of this behaviour is the frequent retaliatory expulsion of diplomats on the ground of diplomatic misconduct.
37. Military Crisis. This feature is just one step away from war because troops deployment and combat preparedness are the hallmarks of such a crisis situation. If military crisis is an occasional phenomenon, military tension is a regular feature in the sub continental context. Op Parakaram and heightened border tensions post 26/11 are stark examples of this. This is likely to be the stance India is likely to take in response of a Pakistan backed terror attack. Given the soft power image and India’s attitude of handling such incidences with diplomatic coercion rather than military action, military buildups short of actual war are likely by India.
38. Terror Attacks by Non State Actors on Soft targets. This is a phenomenon which has come into prominence after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. With a
weak civilian government in Pakistan and a military controlled quasi independent ISI pursuing its own agendas, it is quite possible that terror attacks on soft targets in India will be the order of the day. This is quiet convenient for Pakistan as it can then seemingly absolve itself from any responsibility once questioned by the international community.
39. There has been an atmosphere of such mistrust and malaise in the Indian sub continent in the past six decades that the region has been one of the most dangerous and unstable areas of the world. This has not only hampered growth and peace in the region but matters have now come to a stage that the lives of ordinary citizens are endangered. Nuclearisation of India and Pakistan and growing institutionalization of terror networks have made the situation more volatile. India has largely been at the receiving end of the bargain. A number of reasons can be sited for these circumstances. These are enumerated in succeeding paragraphs.
40. Asymmetric Power Arrangement. India is the biggest economic and military state in South Asia and hence a regional power center. But Pakistan has always contested this, especially after the 1971 war that led to its dismemberment into an independent Bangladesh. Pakistan has since then augmented, military strength to
threaten India’s position as well as deter its threat; direct mutual enmity has thus assumed predominance in the competitive India-Pakistan relationship.
41 Persistent Internal Political Insecurity in Pakistan. It is observed that when faced with an internal crisis of legitimacy or instability the military in Pakistan tries to create conflict out of the historical suspicions to divert the people’s attention from thereal national issue. This diversionary tactics becomes so very prominent that sometimes leaders cannot genuinely seek to concentrate on peace process. For example in Pakistan all the generals who wrested power from the democratically elected leaders made India into a scapegoat for their misdeeds and unconstitutional activities. Kashmir has been a useful rallying cry and a strong issue of diversion from the shunting task of nation building and sustaining democracy.
42. Different Ideological Arrangements. Both India and Pakistan have chosen a different ideological base for their statehood. India has adopted secularism as its base, whereas Pakistan asserts itself to be an Islamic State; regarding itself as the sentinel of the muslims in the whole subcontinent and considers India claim of being a secular polity as a sham. For Pakistan therefore Indian nationalism is basically hindu nationalism. Gangly and Singh point out that India considers possession of Jammu And Kashmir as an ideological fulfillment of its secular statehood and in similar way,
Pakistan likes to occupy the territory to achieve its ideological fulfillment of being an Islamic State. Such antithetical ideological viewpoints have made the Kashmir dispute intractable.
43. Democracy vs. Dictatorship. India and Pakistan have contrary regimes, India believes in democracy and Pakistan has had non-democratically elected governments or rather military rule. Hence divergent nature of regime will definitely have a different perception of the conflict and the approach to peace and conflict will also be different. This has also been reflected in their peace making strategies.
44. Pakistan’s Struggle for Parity. Pakistan’s unending quest for parity with India is a well-defined objective of its foreign and security policy. This occupies a high priority on its political schema and national consciousness. Pakistan’s entire focus has been to attain military parity since territory and population are factors which are beyond its control; thus mobilizing large scale outside military backing and alliances form the core of its parity strategy. Realizing its inherent difficulty in matching India, Pakistan has sought to offset the growing conventional military imbalance by developing a nuclear weapons capability and using terrorism as a tool of its national policy.
45. From the above mentioned facts it becomes amply clear that there are historical and contemporary reasons for the conflict of interests and ideology between India and Pakistan. There is a deep rooted sense of mistrust and paranoia in Pakistan about the perceived designs of India against its interests. Pakistan has realised that while it is impossible for it to match the conventional might of India, it however has the advantage of its geopolitical importance and is relevant to USA for its war against terror. Leveraging this, its nuclear bluff and the fact that it has a number of home grown ‘jihadis’ at its disposal, Pakistan has decided to ‘bleed India through a thousand cuts’ i.e. unleash its terrorists against soft targets in India with the aim to destabilize it internally and undermine its influence in the region.
46. India, despite being far superior to Pakistan in conventional strength and economy has so far not been able to reign in Pakistan sponsored terror elements targeting its soft underbelly. There is a case for India to earnestly undertake steps and measures to neutralize Pakistan’s nefarious designs by leveraging its strength. For this it will have to embark upon an aggressive diplomatic offensive as well as prepare to undertake a suitable limited militarily offensive to cause such effect that the option of using terror becomes unviable for Pakistan.
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