‘Impact of Islam on Hindu Society during the medieval times’

INTRODUCTION

Over the medieval time, the Islamic and Hindu traditions have synthesised, evolved, interacted and remained insulated. Even though India was gruesomely conquered by the sword, Muslims realized reconciliation was better than persecution. The initial stages were marked with conflict, adaptation , tension and cultural syncretism between the two traditions. Over time, compromise, tolerance and a spirit of harmony emerged which gradually led to the fusion of the two cultures.

The emergence of Muslim power has never been treated in a holistic manner, both spatial and temporal terms. The emergence of power was never the result of abrupt developments, but was a proctored and complex process that was stretched over centuries altogether. 

The first attempt was made in the middle of the seventh century which proved to be a failure in the 711-713 AD when the Arabs under Muhammad-bin-Qasim, nephew of the Governor of Basra, attacked India and conquered Sindh and Multan, but the foundation of  the rule of the Muslims was laid by Shabab-ud-Din Ghori towards the end of the 12th  century A.D.

The missionary zeal of Islam gave rise to conservatism while the Hindu leaders desperately clung to their religion by adopting an extreme orthodox outlook. 

The impact of the Islam on the Hindu society has a clear cut division of positive and negative impacts. 

The positive impact can be clearly seen through the dissemination of brotherhood, the rich development of art, architecture and music. It helped in building India’s foreign relations and restored contact which helped in assimilation of new ideas and traditions. The arcaded form architecture, the diversity showcased in literature and change in activities provided a positive spin.

The negative impact was showcased through the undesirable tendencies accelerated and spread in the Hindu society. The beginning of the Purda system, spreading of child marriage, sati and slavery led to the downfall and gave rise to more rigid caste system.

 MAIN-CONCEPT 

India has always been known for its rich and diverse history which is an amalgamation of divergent cultures which were transformed over time through assimilation and mutual adjustment. Islam contributed to the multi-religious and cultural ethos by bringing a dramatic change in the culture and political predominance. There are several positive and negative impacts given below:

1)ARCHITECTURE, ART AND CRAFT:

According to Dr Tarachand, “The craftsmanship, ornamental richness and general design remained largely Hindu, the arcaded form , plain domes , smooth faced walls and spacious interiors were Muslim impositions”   Due to the assimilation of the two cultures, new styles of architecture were introduced. The Muslims focused on large buildings, Mosques, minarets and courtyards and implemented these designs in Taj Mahal, Jama Masjid , Red Fort etc. The also mixed their designs by taking inspiration from Indian designs including lotus Kalash , creepers etc. Paper making enamelling , inlay work done on jewels , stones and metals emerged in India when Islamic styles were followed. A large number of Kharkanas making shoes, doing Zari work, manufacturing paper and dying and tanning were established. Many workshops doing fine gold and silver work embroidery. 

2) LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE: 

The contact between the two religion led to linguistic synthesis. A lot of importance was given to Literature and grammar, a lot of shelter was provided to Scholars who produced religious and Historical literature in various fields. Urdu is an amalgamation of Turkish, Persian and Arabic words and the concept and ideas from the languages of Sanskrit origin, which became the language of the people. It was originally called as ’Zaban-e-Hindvi’. Hindi as a language was also influenced by Muslim contact. Literature in India was greatly influenced by the Turko-Afghans to a very large extent, and made Persian their court language.

Books like ‘ Taj-ul Moa, by Hassan Nizami’s’ , ‘Tabakt-i-Nasiri by Qazi  Minhaz-us-Siraj’ influenced the Hindus greatly. KhwajaAbu Nasr, poetically called Naisiri, Abu Bakar bin Muhammad Ruhani, Taj-ud-din and Nur-ud-din Muhammad Awfi were famous scholars in the court of Sultan Iltumish. Amir Khusrau has been regarded as the greatest Persian poet of his age. He wrote a number of prose books, most famous of them being the Khazain-ul-Fatuh, Tughlaq -nama, and the Tarikh-i- Alai. 

3) MUSIC AND PAINTING:

A variety of musical instruments were influenced by Islam. The Tabla and the Sitar were the instruments that were inspired. The Hindu instrument named ‘Mirdanga’ underwent alterations and transformation by the Muslims and resulted into Tabla. The Sitar was a result of the merger of the Irani Tambura and the Hindu Veena. A variety of Ragas and the classical vocal music found themselves subtly changing when they came into contact with Muslim singers. Thumri, Tarana and Ghazzals were a huge contribution to the Indian classical music. The blending of Hindu and Iranian music led to an evolution of light songs called Quwwalis. 

Indian Painting went through a significant change when it came on contact with the Islamic styles, designs and concepts. The Islamic tradition of painting women figures blowing trumpets on the wall was followed by the Hindus. Calligraphy as a writing form developed and was used by the Hindus. Pictorial art practiced in Islamic schools inspired Hindus to imitate the style. Hindu streets, bathing gliats and households were inspired by the Muslim painting style. The art form of blending the Rajput and Persian techniques of painting led to creation of new schools of Mughal art.

4) FOOD, CLOTHING AND LIFESTYLE:

The Muhammadan lifestyle, dress code, food and etiquette was adopted by the Hindus in different ways. Achkans, Lungis, pyjamas and salwasrs were widely adopted by the Hindu’s. Activities like wine drinking, dinner parties and gambling were taken up by the Hindu’s due to the influence of Islam. Delicacies like Biryani, Kebab, Palau and Kachhember were relished by the Hindus after being introduced to even though Hindu’s believed ‘non-violence against all creatures’. The seating arrangement which was followed in the Delhi court based on different classes was followed by the Hindu’s. A lot of these styles and basic etiquettes have been passed on through generations which shows us the strong impact of Islam and the prevalence of age old traditions even today.

5) PURDAH SYSTEM AND MARRIAGE:

The Islam rule has a great impact on the position of women in the country. Women started living in the seclusion of their homes and made their household their own small world. Women were supposed to maintain distance from men and were supposed to move out of their homes in palanquins which were covered with curtains. When the queen of Prataprudradev went to visit Sri Chaitanya in the Palanuqin, shows us that this custom was followed by every women.  The Purdah system was strictly enforced in the royal harem of the Hindu rulers.

The birth of a female child was greatly looked down upon and female infanticide was extremely widespread due to this. Child marriage was introduced into society and was gradually enforced. Hindu girls were forced to get married at an early age as their knapping by the Muslims was greatly feared and them losing their chastity to them. Hence the criteria of the girl child reaching puberty was scrapped and the condition of women continued to deteriorate over time due to the effect of Islam as women were taught to be more dependent on men. Unfortunately these age old traditions of child marriage and female infanticide even though have deemed to be illegal in the present time, the rural section of society have still held on to these narrow minded traditions.

6)BHAKTI MOVEMENT:                                                                                                                     

The effect of Islam was more of a mixed impact in the domain of religion. The impact came as a rude shock to the Hindus and shattered the age old Brahminical influence which had been prevalent for centuries. The strong aversion to ideal worship and oneness to God was a string pill to swallow for the Hindus.  Even though old age followings were shattered , the concepts of humanity, having the utmost pride in one’s religion and universal brotherhood was spread and adopted by the Hindu’s.

The upgradation of the legal system let to greater advancement of the codes that were known for times and beyond that preached to lose to work as the upholder of the religion. due to the Muslim influence caste system and untouchability who is drastically reduced in the society. Due to these changes, the philosophical Hindu mind voice consciously and unconsciously affected which helped in fostering growth of liberal movements under religious reforms.  These changes pave the way to the growth of the bhakti movement. Famous saints like Kabira preached equality in all religions. 

 CRITICAL ANALYSIS 

If we critically asses the relationship between Hinduism and Islam, we will find an amalgamation of exchanges, encounters, conflict and overt confrontations. Famous instances  in history often Juxtapose Hinduism’s tolerance towards the sudden diversity and the innate spirituality with Islam’s foreignness and doctoral rigidity. 1.2 billion is the estimated number of Muslims in this world, from which a colossal amount reside in South Asia , which is in fact the same number of Muslims residing in the middle east and North America combined. Surely with the large number of Muslims residing in India over the years, the influence of Islam has wriggled its way through the invariable structure the Brahmins have created over generations. 

The impact can be seen divided in four spheres, religion, social, cultural and economic. The religious field is a topic of great controversy. Even though theories like unity of God, brotherhood were promoted and concepts such as untouchability and the caste system was squashed, the impact had a lot of negative connotations which diluted the positive spin.

A lot of scholars blame the impact of Islam for dividing the Indian society in a vertical basis. Due to the concept of conversion, Hindus became more orthodox in nature and increased the rigidity on several caste restrictions and social taboos followed. Even though the rigidity instilled safeguarded their culture, the progress of the lower caste hindered and their miseries increased as they were stuck in between the tyranny of the higher class and the Muslims. 

In the social field,  the influence of Islam was considered to be the black blotch that ruins the white cloth .To ensure the safeguarding of the chastity of women, the practices of Sati and Jauhar were seen grouped with child marriage, female infanticide and drastic deterioration in the status of women followed as the kidnapping of beautiful Hindu girls by Muslim officials and rulers had become very common. The unhealthy practice of Slavery crept into society due to the impact of Islam. The Nobles and The Amirs maintained a large amount of male and female slaves. This was adopted by the feudal lords and the Hindu leaders which led to extensions of inhuman practices. 

Even though the influence can be criticized, the change in dress pattern, food habits and etiquette can be applauded. New gardens were built for beautification and old destroyed temples were re-modeled. New schools and colleges were created which helps in providing better education in some fields. Poet Chand Bardai gave a whole new segment of history writing by producing the Prithviraj Raso.

 Over time co-operation and mutual toleration took place and now Hindu’s weren’t reluctant in offering sweets to the Tombs of Muslim Pirs, they appreciated the recitations of Quran. The Hindu Philosophers found common ground with the Murshids and the Muslim saints and started believing strongly in the infallibility of the Pir and kept a copy of it in their households in order to do away with evils. 

The impact of Islam really helped in the restoration of contact with the outside world. Even though the country was dominated politically by the Muslims, the economy continued to be dominated by the Hindus. The baniya’s advanced money and were an essential feature of the economic structure as they testified economic affluence of the Hindu’s The trade and commerce increased due to the externals contact with the middle east even though the commercial classes were crushed. The ports of Goa, Surat, Ttha became more active commercially. Many traders travelled from Balkh, Iran and Samarkhand to do business in India. This shows us how Islam positively impacted the economy of the country by bringing in foreign contacts and opening up trade to all across the world. 

CONCLUSION

India underwent and experienced a whole new change cultural wise, socially, economically and in terms of religion. All of the impacts could be effortlessly divided in the positive and negative impacts as every new dynasty has something new to bring to society, some changes might be welcomed by the society as a whole and some new changes might culturally crash with the existing believes prevalent in society that time hence causing dispute. 

In the research paper above we see how Islam impacted the Hindu society in terms of architecture, art, architecture, literature, language, music, painting, food, clothing, lifestyle, purdah system, marriage and the Bhakti movement. 

The beautiful Minarets, well rounded domes, large exuberant gardens and new type of needle work gold and silver was a refreshing change to the old art and architecture even though society took time to assimilate. The creation of Urdu and the discovery of the wave of passionate writers and poets strengthened the society in terms of linguistics. The creation of the classical musical instruments and the amalgamation of the music between the Hindus and the Muslims created a whole new genre of music called the Quwwalis.

Indian society even noticed a change in their forms of painting and new schools were opened to promote art as a whole. A whole new range of fashion was adopted and a new food palette was introduced. The qualities of Brotherhood and fraternity and destroying the caste system and untouchability were a positive impact in the religion field. The economic stability and supremacy felt by the Hindu’s adds on to the list of positive impactcs.

On the flip side of the coin, Habits such as gambling and drinking were introduced by the Muslims which was not appreciated by the Hindu society. A lot of scholars blame the impact of Islam for dividing the Indian society in a vertical basis. Due to the introduction of conversion, the Hindu society became more orthodox and rigid in nature and this led to adding to the miseries of the lower class. T

he status of women was deteriorated as child marriage was introduced as the Hindus were extremely scared of the higher authorities kidnapping the young beautiful Hindu girls and were further scared for them losing their chastity to the Muslims hence started getting their daughter married at a very young age , this gave rise to female infanticide. The introduction to the Purdah system led to women being isolated from men and were promoted to stay in their isolation of their homes and far away from men. When they stepped on they should be behind curtains hence introducing the Purdah system. The increase of Sati and Jauhar were seen during this time. The concept slavery also crept through which led to male and female slaves being bought by the nobles.

Hence we can confidently say that the impact of Islam was extremely mixed in nature as certain aspects led to the development of the country but at the same time certain changes led to the degradation of certain groups in society. 

Aishwarya Says:

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