Despite the strained relations and basic differences between Muslims and Hindus in India, the healthy spirit of mutual tolerance and co-existence found its presence in the country. This culminated in the rise of different sects of society that aimed at bringing together the members of both the religions and form peace amongst them. This attempts at bringing together the two religions caused a diffusion of culture from Islam to Hinduism which affected various aspects of Hindu society. One of the biggest such effects was the evolution of the Purdah system of the Muslims among the Hindus. Mughal rulers have been attributed as the founders of the Purdah system in India. Purdah system as propagated by the Mughals basically referred to the veil and attire worn by the Muslim woman which symbolized their complete social and physical segregation from the rest of society by covering their entire bodies.
It was a way of representing the lower position of women in society and their subservience to men. This same system was modified by the Hindus and adopted into their society. When it was brought into Hindu society, the Purdah was replaced by what the Hindus referred to as the Ghoongat. This concept was initiated mainly for women after their marriages. It was a way of protecting their modesty and shielding them from being viewed by men other than her husband and just like in the Purdah system it marked the subservience of the women to their husbands and was a method by which husbands demanded respect from their wives. Also, there was changes in terms of marriage. The Hindu society imitated the Muslims and implemented the concept of Child Marriage into their society. The age of puberty was no longer the criteria for marriage of a Hindu girl.
The influence spread to the dressing and food consumed by the Hindus. They soon adopted Muhammadan dresses, food and etiquette and fashion. Foods such as Palau, Biryani, Kababs etc. were adopted by the Hindus. Vices such as drinking and gambling that were prominent among the Muslims were adopted by the Hindus into their own society. They began wearing achkans, salwars, pyjamas etc. Even sitting arrangements for different classes especially in courts formulated by the Muslims were adopted by Hindu rulers. However, the priestly class among the Hindus remained immune from the impact by Muslims with regards to their dresses The propagators of Islam were the reason that Hindus resorted to more conservative methods to protect their religion.
The missionaries of Islam were highly passionate about their goal of converting the maximum number of Hindus into Muslims and this scared the orthodox Hindus. The Smritis were used to lay greater emphasis on a strict religious life for the Hindus, in order to emphasize the importance of their religion. It is also important to understand that there were movements such as the Bhakti movement which were large scale religious movements that were influenced by principles of Islam. Hindu reformers influenced by the advent of Sufism preached fundamental equality of all religions and the Unity of God. The introduction of Islam also had a major effect on the social structure of Hindu society. With the aim of strengthening Hindu society in mind, the Smritis were recast such that it paved the way for taking back those people who had earlier been expelled from the Hindu society. They also made the caste system more rigid with a view to meet the inroads of Islam.
An evil that existed in the Hindu society before the advent of Muslims was slavery. This evil however was not prominent until it was specially patronized by the Muslim rulers. Slavery was a common feature of the Muslim society and slaves represented position and power held by a person in the Muslim society. Sultans especially used to keep slaves in large numbers and maintained them at the cost of the State. This practice was adopted by Hindu rulers and they began keeping a higher number of slaves and started maintaining them at the cost of the State. This practice was highly depreciative on society and damaged relations between the people and the rulers. Islam also had affected Hindu art forms. Hindu dance forms were being influenced and modified in accordance with Islam. The Indian Veena was merged with an Irani Tambura to give rise to the Sitar, which is a very widely used instrument. Other instruments underwent changes as well such as the Mridanga of the Hindus which was modified by the Muslims into the Tabla.
There was also the evolution of a linguistic synthesis between the two cultures. Urdu was evolved from the synthesis of Persian, Arabic and Turkish words that was mixed with concepts and languages of Sanskrit origin. Urdu was soon a common language in the medieval period and a vast number of literatures were written in this language. Even many books written in Parsi had a great influence on the Hindus. The works of various Muslim writers and poets gave an immense boost to the art of History Writing among the Hindu society. Even in their crafts they began adopting the Islamic style. They imbibed works like papermaking enameling, inlay works on stones, metals and jewels etc. into their own crafts. This actually helped them with development of a more stable and sustainable economy.
Even the painting styles underwent major changes with the introduction of Islamic paintings. One of the biggest changes was the replacement of the Ajanta style by the pyramidal structure of the Sultanate and Mughal periods. Other than art there was also a very evident influence of Islam on the architectural advancement of the Hindu society. Islamic architecture was known for the common massive structure in forms of mosques and domes. Their architecture always had prominent features such as tall minarets, large courtyards, huge walls etc. These features were soon adopted by the Hindu society while building their temples, palaces and buildings. It must also be noted that Islamic society played an important role in restoring contact with the outside world in India. Around the medieval period, all the commercial contacts India had formed with other countries were slowly dying but Islam helped revive these contacts. The presence of Islam in the country brought people from Islamic countries to the country for trading. Islamic rulers also engaged in the building of ports to allow traders from Islamic countries to migrate to India. Thereby renewing and reviving as well as forming contacts with different nations around the world. This is a brief overview of how the presence of an Islamic society in the country had a very strong effect on the Hindu society which formed the majority of the country.
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