Indo Islamic Cultrue in India

Indo-Islamic Architecture is the Indic architecture and engineering of the Indian Subcontinent often embedding some elements of architecture carried over from various parts of West and Central Asia, produced for and by Islamic Regimes.

Such foreign elements come from regions themselves influenced earlier by the spread of Indian architectural vocabulary with the spread of Buddhism as Persian architecture worldwide started from the adoption, use and re-use of early pre-Islamic architecture. It came as a totalitarian change in social, cultural, religious, eating patterns, music; monumental, architectural, social changes came with the influence of Islamic Culture in India. With the influence of Islamic Culture in India many new forms of paintings and music originated. With the influence of the Islamic Culture, there were changes in the social and cultural patterns and many new forms of food, dress, art, dance, etc evolved in India. As early as 637 AD, Arabs started sending expeditions to the Western Coast of India. In the early years of the 8th Century AD, the king of Ceylon had sent some ships to the Khalifa (Caliph) Walid. These ships were plundered by pirates near Debal, a port in Sindh. Al-Hajjaj, the Governor of Basra, demanded compensation, but Dahir refused to pay it. Hajjaj sent an expedition against Dahir. After two expeditions failed, in 712 AD, he sent another expedition, this time under his nephew and son-in-law Mohammed-Bin-Qasim.


Author – Al Biruni

Book- Tarikh-i-Hind, Qanun-e-Masudi, Jawahar-i-Jawahir

Author- Minhaj-us-Siraj

Book- Tabaqat-i-Nasiri

Author- Amir Khusrow

Book- Laila-Majnu, Qiran-us-Saadin, Khazain-ul-Futuh, Tughlaqnama, Nuh-Siphir, Miftah-ul-Futuh, Ayina-i-Sikandari, Hasht Bisht, Shirin Khusrow, Tarikh-i-Alai

Author- Zia-ud-din Barani

Book- Tarikh-i-Firoz Shahi, Fatwa-i-Jahadari

Author- Firoz Shahi

Book- Fatwa-i-Firoz Shahi

Author- Firozabadi

Book- Qamus

Author- Hassan Nizami

Book- Taj-ul-Masiri

Author- Fakh-ud-din

Book- Tarikh-i-Firoz-Shahi

Author- Shams-e-Shiraj Afif

Book- Tarikh-i-Firoz Shahi

Author- Ibn Batuta

Book- Kitab-ul-Rihala

Author- Isami

Book- Futuh-us-Salatin


Book- Shahnama

The Islamisation of the Indian Subcontinent brought many changes in the lifestyle of the early medieval people. Many new kingdoms came and the powerful rulers overpowered the weaker ones. The Slave Dynasty, The Khilji Dynasty etc had full control over the whole subcontinent and due to their strength of their empire around the whole empire they captured the bigger and stronger empires of the country such as Rajputana, Mewar, Deccan, Kashmir, Bengal, Magadha, Dravidian Empire, Kannauj, Delhi etc. The zenith of their power was such that the great rulers of these bigger empires used to falter over them. These kingdoms had the biggest army of all time, all types of resources which were used to conquer these bigger empires. Their armies had the best of the weapons, elephants, horses, skill and art of artillery and most importantly the courage to win over all situations Alauddin Khilji with the help of his mighty army defeated the Mongols and captured many important parts of the country such as Mewar, Marwar, Chittor, Gujarat, Malwa, Kannauj, Delhi etc. The expeditions were also led by empires like Mamluk Dynasty, Tughlaq Dynasty, etc who established their rule over whole of the subcontinent. Achkan, Salwar-Kameez, Islamic-Styles of Paintings and decoration stuffs, architectural patterns etc. all took a major form in the culture of the Indian Subcontinent and intermingled with traditional Hindu Culture which created new type of societal patterns. Urdu was the result of the inter-mixing of the Hindu-Muslim Culture and it was developed by the mixing up Hindi and Persian Language. Sitar, Veena, Ghazal etc were the new forms of music that the musical patterns in the country. The Turks brought a number of new musical instruments such as the Rubab and the Sarangi. Musicians such as Amir Khusrow and Gopal Nayak were patronized by Ala-ud-din Khilji and were conferred the title of Nayak.

Though music was banned by Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq, his successors Mohammed-Bin-Tughlaq and Feroze Shah Tughlaq were very fond of the music. Ragdarpan, a classical Indian work was translated into Persian. Use of sloping walls, combined principles of arch and dome with the slab, usage of cheaper and more readily available grey sandstone, minimum decorations on buildings, octagonal tombs were the features of Tughlaq Architecture. The Lodhis and Khilji’s architectural features are as follows- Construction of Jamaat Khana Masjid at the Dargah of Nizamuddin Auliya by Alauddin Khilji, Alai Darwaja and Alai Minar at Qutb , Siri which was earlier the capital of Ala-ud-din Khilji, Hauz-i-Alai or Hauz Khas Tank, Usage of red sandstone and Lodhis followed the new features of architectures of Rajasthani-Gujarati styles of Balconies and Kiosks with the Turkish Mixture. Lodhis placed their buildings in the midst of a garden. Many of their architectural features were later adopted by Mughals. Sikander Lodhi’s tomb has a double dome which was the new architectural feature. Mohammed Ghori was the first ruler to introduce the Iqta System but, Iltutmish gave an institutional form. Soon it became the mainstay of administrative organization. He divided his empire into several large and tracts of officers and nobles. The holders of the office were called Iqtadar, Muqti or Wali.

The collection of land revenue was integrated with the military system, as also with the system of provincial government through Iqta. In the context of the revenue system, the term Iqta meant the land or land revenue assigned by the ruler to an individual on certain conditions. The holders of the Iqta served the Sultans. They curbed the influence of the Rais (Local Chiefs) and regulated the collection of land revenue. They were bound to present themselves with horses and arms, whenever called upon by the Central Government for service or inspection. In the beginning, the Iqta, which was a revenue yielding piece or area of land, was assigned in lieu of salary.

Balban found a lot of corruption and mismanagement among the assignees or the Iqta Holders. Most of the Iqta Holders or Muqti, who had received the villages in the Doab by of salary now no longer, rendered military service being incapable of service, due to old age or disease. Khwaja  was a civil official and he had to deal with accounts and records. Ala-ud-din brought most of the small Iqtas back into the Khalisa by a stroke of the pen. But under Firoz, it became hereditary. Apart from Barids, another set of reporters existed, who were known as Munhiyas.


During the Sultanate period, the Muslim Society remained divided into ethnic and racial groups. These were little change in the structure of the Hindu Society during this period. Following were important features of the society-


Nobles and other rich people had a very prosperous life and had little contacts with the commons. Nobles held various titles like Amir, Khan, Malik, etc. which indicated various things about them. The Hindu society was divided into four castes. The coming of Muslims and their constant condemnation of the caste system made the system more rigid. The Hindu Society, in order to strengthen itself, recasted the smritis and tried to bring back from the Islamic fold those Muslims who were converted from Hinduism.


The Hindu Women were given an inferior position in the society and their educational development was prevented since the Gupta Age. Their condition deteriorated and they became victims of many social evils such as sati, jauhar etc.


The introduction of the Dowry system in the name of Stridhana, further depreciated the position of women in the household. The position of Muslim Women though, not very much different, was yet better. She had the privilege to education and could remarry.


It was a common practice among the Sultans and the nobles to maintain a large contingency of slaves, both males and females. The prisoners of wars were generally the main constituents of this system. They were supposed to perform every task free of cost but they were not subject to torture.


Achkan and salwar were introduced in Northern India under the Muslim influence. The high class women’s dress was copied by almost in all the society. The food and social manners and the ceremonies were copied. The vices of gambling and drinking, which were the prevalent among the Muslims, took to Indian spices and eventually some deeply ingrained Hindu Customs.


Sufism has an illustrious history in India which has evolved over 1000 years. Islam bought many new cultural and social patterns in the country which resulted in the development of music patterns, religious patterns etc. Sufism became more visible in the country. With the coming of the Delhi Sultanate, Sufism became more visible in the country in 10th and 11th centuries.

The word ‘Sufi’ is derived from the word Suf meaning wools as Sufis wore Garments of rough wool as a sign of poverty. The Arabic meaning of which is ‘purity’. Sufis were of two shades: Basara(who believed in Islamic Laws). The Eastern variety of Sufism is influenced by Vedantic Philosophy.

Sufism spread to many parts of the country such as Rajasthan, Gujarat, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar, Bengal etc which gathered strong presence in the society and were accepted by each and every sections of the society with pure heart. The Doctrine of the Wahadat-ul-Wujood, which was based on the Unity of Being and Universe, was followed by many sects of the society and helped bringing the Muslims and Hindus closer to each other. They used common language ie Urdu to spread their message of purification of one’s inner self and humanistic teachings among all the sections of the society.

They also used languages such as Bengali, Punjabi, Kashmiri, Sindhi, Gujarati etc to spread their message of love and harmony among all the sections of the society. They were against the social evils happening around the society particularly in Islamic Culture and helped in bringing about Hindustani Culture. They preached Islamic Culture to common people in India and in Sufi Khanqahs (hospices) link between the Pir(Teacher) and the Murid(disciples) was emphasized, which led to educational advancement of the society and Hindustani music in forms such as Qawwalis, Taranas, Khayals evolved out of the Sufi Style of the same.

There were Sufi Orders as well such as Chishti Order which talked about the Doctrine of Wahadat-ul-Wujood or Unity of being, which is identified with the unity of the Haq and the Khalaq. Important saints who spread this order were Qutub-ud-ddin Bakhtiyar Kaki in whose memory Qutub Minar was built and Baba Fariduddin Ganj-i-Shankar, Nizamuddin Auliya of Delhi and Nasiruddin-Chiragh-e-Delhi. Musical recitations called Sama were made popular by Chistis.

Other orders were Suhrawardiya Order, Qadiri Order, Naqshbandi Order, Firdausi Order, Roshaniya Order etc. The founders of these orders were Abdul-Wahir, Abu Najib as Suhrawadi, Abdul-Qadir Gilani, Sheikh Niamutullah, Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi, Sharfuddin Yahya etc. who popularized the Sufism in India and spread the message of love, peace and harmony among all the sections of the society and particularly helped in improving the relations among the Hindus and the Muslims.


Moinuddin Chisti – He is the most famous saint of the Chisti Order. He was born in 1141 AD and died in 1236 AD. He became a disciple of the Chisti Saint Usman Harooni. He reached Ajmer along with Muiz-ud-ddin Mohammed and settled down. It was during the reign of Akbar that Ajmer emerged as one of the most important centre of the pilgrimage. Moinuddin Chishti wrote several books including Anis al- Arwah and Dalil al-Arifin both of which deal with Islamic Laws of Living.

Qutubuddin Bakhtiar Kaki- He was a renowned Muslim Sufi Mystic, saint and scholar of the Chishti Order. He was a disciple of Moinuddin Chishti. He played a major role in establishing the order the order securely in Delhi, which was earlier confined to Ajmer and Nagaur. He was followed by the first Delhi Sultan, Qutubuddin Aibak who started the construction of Qutub Minar.

Khwaja Fariduddin Maood Ganjshekhar- He was a Sufi Saint belonging of Chisti Order. He was born in 1238 AD in Badaun Uttar Pradesh. His biography finds mention in Ain-i-Akbari, a 16th Century document written by Mughal Emperor’s Wazir, Abu Fazl.

One of the kings of the Delhi Sultanate during Nizamuddin Auliya lifetime was Qutb-ud-din Mubarak Shah, the last ruler of Khilji Dynasty.

Baha-ud-din Zakariya- He was a Sufi of Suhrawadiya Order (Tariqa . He was born at Kot Keror, a town of the Layyah District near Multan, Punjab (Pakistan) around 1170 AD. He was contemporary of Sultan Iltutmish.

Abdul-Qadir Al Jilani- He was born in Baghdad in 1077AD. He was a Persian Hanbali Jurist and Sufi based in Baghdad. Qadirriya was his patronym. Books written by Abdul-Qadir Jailani include Futuh-Al Ghaib, Al-Fath-al-Rabbani, Jala-al Khwatir, Malfuzat, Al-Ghunyali-Talibi and Tariq-Al-Haqq.

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