Islam in India explained

Islam in India is the second-most practiced religion after Hinduism. There are approximately 154 million Muslims in India's population as of 2008 (according to government census 2001), i.e., 13.4% of the population.[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] Currently, India has the third largest population of Muslims in the world.[6] [7]


See main article: Muslim conquest in the Indian subcontinent. The emergence of Islam in the region is concurrent with the Turko-Muslim invasion of medieval India (which includes large parts of present day Pakistan and the Republic of India), where these rulers took over the administration of large parts of India. Since its introduction into India, Islam has made significant religious, artistic, philosophical, cultural, social and political influences to Indian history.

In modern times the Muslims of South Asia have had a turbulent history within the region. After the Lahore Resolution of 1940, Muslim League politicians achieved a Muslim-majority state known as Pakistan after independence from British rule. In modern times, the Muslim populations of India and Pakistan are roughly even. The previous President of India, APJ Abdul Kalam, two more before him, and numerous other politicians are Muslims, as are numerous sports and film celebrities within India. Isolated incidences of violence nonetheless have occurred between the Muslim populations and the Hindu, Sikh and Christian populations.

Contrary to popular belief, Islam came to South Asia long before Muslim invasions of India. Islamic influence first came to be felt in the early 7th century with the advent of Arab traders. Trade relations between Arabia and the subcontinent are very ancient. Arab traders used to visit the Malabar region, which was a link between them and ports of South East Asia, to trade even before Islam had been established in Arabia. According to Historians Elliot and Dowson in their book The History of India as told by its own Historians, the first ship bearing Muslim travelers was seen on the Indian coast as early as 630 AD. H.G. Rawlinson, in his book: Ancient and Medieval History of India[8] claims the first Arab Muslims settled on the Indian coast in the last part of the 7th century AD. Shaykh Zainuddin Makhdum’s “Tuhfat al-Mujahidin” also is a reliable work[9] .This fact is corroborated, by J. Sturrock in his South Kanara and Madras Districts Manuals[10], and also by Haridas Bhattacharya in Cultural Heritage of India Vol. IV.[11] It was with the advent of Islam that the Arabs became a prominent cultural force in the world. The Arab merchants and traders became the carriers of the new religion and they propagated it wherever they went.[12]

The first Indian mosque was built in 629 A.D, at the behest of Cheraman Perumal, during the life time of Muhammad (c. 571–632) in Kodungallur by Malik Bin Deenar.[13] [14] [15]

In Malabar the Mappilas may have been the first community to convert to Islam because they were more closely connected with the Arabs than others. Intensive missionary activities were carried out along the coast and a number of natives also embraced Islam. These new converts were now added to the Mappila community. Thus among the Mapilas, we find, both the descendants of the Arabs through local women and the converts from among the local people[16]

In the 8th century, the province of Sindh (Pakistan) was conquered by an Arab army led by Muhammad bin Qasim. Sindh became the easternmost province of the Umayyad Caliphate.

In the first half of the 10th century, Mahmud of Ghazni added the Punjab to the Ghaznavid Empire and conducted several raids deeper into modern day India. A more successful invasion came at the end of the 12th century by Muhammad of Ghor. This eventually led to the formation of the Delhi Sultanate.

Arab-Indian interactions

There is much evidence in history to show that Arabs and Muslims interacted with India and Indians from the very early days of Islam, if not before the arrival of Islam in Arabia.

Many Sanskrit books were translated into Arabic as early as the Eighth century. George Saliba writes in his book 'Islamic Science and the Making of the European Renaissance' that "some major Sanskrit texts began to be translated during the reign of the second Abbasid caliph al-Mansur [754-775], if not before; some texts on logic even before that, and it has been generally accepted that the Persian and Sanskrit texts, few as they were, were indeed the first to be translated."[17]

Spread of Sufi Islam

Sufis (Islamic mystics) played an important role in the spread of Islam in India. They were very successful in spreading Islam, as many aspects of Sufi belief systems and practices had their parallels in Indian philosophical literature, in particular nonviolence and monism. The Sufis' unorthodox approach towards Islam made it easier for Hindus to practice. Hazrat Khawaja Muin-ud-din Chisti, Qutub-Ud-Din Bakhtiyar Kaki, Nizam-ud-din Auliya, Shah Jalal, Amir Khusro, Sarkar Sabir Pak, Shekh Alla-ul-Haq Pandwi, Makhdoom Ashraf Simnani, Waris Pak trained Sufi groups for the propagation of Islam in different parts of India. Once the Islamic Empire was established in India, Sufis invariably provided a touch of colour and beauty to what might have otherwise been rather cold and stark reigns. The Sufi movement also attracted followers from the artisan and untouchable communities; they played a crucial role in bridging the distance between Islam and the indigenous traditions. However there is also evidence of fanatical and violent conversions carried out by Sufi Muslims. Ahmad Sirhindi, a prominent member of the Naqshbandi Sufi advocated the peaceful conversion of Hindus to Islam.

Conversion controversy

Considerable controversy exists both in scholarly and public opinion about the conversions to Islam typically represented by the following schools of thought:[18]

  1. The bulk of Muslims are descendants of migrants from the Iranian plateau or Arabs.[19]
  2. Muslims sought conversion through jihad [18]
  3. Conversions occurred for non-religious reasons of pragmatism and patronage such as social mobility among the Muslim ruling elite or for relief from taxes[18] [19]
  4. Conversion was a result of the actions of Sunni Sufi saints and involved a genuine change of heart[18]
  5. Conversion came from Buddhists and the en masse conversions of lower castes for social liberation and as a rejection of the oppressive Hindu caste strictures.[19]
  6. A combination, initially made under duress followed by a genuine change of heart[18]
  7. As a socio-cultural process of diffusion and integration over an extended period of time into the sphere of the dominant Muslim civilization and global polity at large.[19]

Embedded within this lies the concept of Islam as a foreign imposition and Hinduism being a natural condition of the natives who resisted, resulting in the failure of the project to Islamicize the Indian subcontinent and is highly embroiled within the politics of the partition and communalism in India.[18] An estimate of the number of people killed, based on the Muslim chronicles and demographic calculations, was done by K.S. Lal in his book Growth of Muslim Population in Medieval India, who claimed that between 1000 CE and 1500 CE, the population of Hindus decreased by 80 million. His work has come under criticism by historians such as Simon Digby (School of Oriental and African Studies) and Irfan Habib for its agenda and lack of accurate data in pre-census times. Lal has responded to these criticisms in later works. Historians such as Will Durant contend that Islam was spread through violence.[20] [21] Sir Jadunath Sarkar contends that several Muslim invaders were waging a systematic jihad against Hindus in India to the effect that "Every device short of massacre in cold blood was resorted to in order to convert heathen subjects."[22] Hindus who converted to Islam were not immune to persecution due to the Muslim Caste System in India established by Ziauddin al-Barani in the Fatawa-i Jahandari.[23], where they were regarded as an "Ajlaf" caste and subjected to discrimination by the "Ashraf" castes[24]

Disputers of the "Conversion by the Sword Theory" point to the presence of the large Muslim communities found in Southern India, Sri Lanka, Western Burma, Bangladesh, Southern Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia coupled with the distinctive lack of equivalent Muslim communities around the heartland of historical Muslim Empires in the Indian Sub-Continent as refutation to the "Conversion by the Sword Theory". The legacy of the Muslim conquest of South Asia is a hotly debated issue and argued even today. Different population estimates by economics historian Angus Maddison and by Jean-Noël Biraben also indicate that India's population did not decrease between 1000 and 1500, but increased by about 35 million during that time.[25] [26]

Not all Muslim invaders were simply raiders. Later rulers fought on to win kingdoms and stayed to create new ruling dynasties. The practices of these new rulers and their subsequent heirs (some of whom were borne of Hindu wives) varied considerably. While some were uniformly hated, others developed a popular following. According to the memoirs of Ibn Batuta who travelled through Delhi in the 14th century, one of the previous sultans had been especially brutal and was deeply hated by Delhi's population, Batuta's memoirs also indicate that Muslims from the Arab world, Persia and Turkey were often favored with important posts at the royal courts suggesting that locals may have played a somewhat subordinate role in the Delhi administration. The term "Turk" was commonly used to refer to their higher social status. S.A.A. Rizvi (The Wonder That Was India - II), however points to Muhammad bin Tughlaq as not only encouraging locals but promoting artisan groups such as cooks, barbers and gardeners to high administrative posts. In his reign, it is likely that conversions to Islam took place as a means of seeking greater social mobility and improved social standing.[27]

Role in Indian independence movement

See also: Indian independence movement. The contribution of Muslim revolutionaries, poets and writers is documented in India's struggle against the British. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Hakim Ajmal Khan and Rafi Ahmed Kidwai are Muslims who engaged in this purpose. Muhammad Ashfaq Ullah Khan of Shahjehanpur conspired to loot the British treasury at Kakori (Lucknow). Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan (popularly known as Frontier Gandhi), was a great nationalist who spent 45 of his 95 years of life in jail; Barakatullah of Bhopal was one of the founders of the Ghadar party which created a network of anti-British organizations; Syed Rahmat Shah of the Ghadar party worked as an underground revolutionary in France and was hanged for his part in the unsuccessful Ghadar (mutiny) uprising in 1915; Ali Ahmad Siddiqui of Faizabad (UP) planned the Indian Mutiny in Malaya and Burma along with Syed Mujtaba Hussain of Jaunpur and was hanged in 1917; Vakkom Abdul Khadar of Kerala participated in the "Quit India" struggle in 1942 and was hanged; Umar Subhani, an industrialist and millionaire of Bombay provided Gandhi with congress expenses and ultimately gave his life for the cause of independence. Among Muslim women, Hazrat Mahal, Asghari Begum, Bi Amma contributed in the struggle of freedom from the British.

The period starting from 1498 saw the rise of the naval and trading power of the European countries, as they increasingly projected their naval power and expanded their trading interests over the Indian subcontinent. Subsequently with the advent of the Industrial Revolution in Britain and in Europe, the European powers gained a significant technological and commercial advantage over the decaying Mughal Empire. They gradually began increasing their influence on the subcontinent.

Hyder Ali, and later his son Sultan Tipu were early to understand the threat of the British East India Company and resisted it. However, Tipu Sultan was finally defeated at Srirangapatnam in 1799. In Bengal, Nawab Siraj ud-Daulah faced the expansionist aims of the British East India Company and fought the British. However, he lost at the battle of Plassey in 1757. After the First war of Independence, which is popularly known as Sepoy Mutiny of 1857,the upper class Muslims were targeted by the Britishers the most, as under their leadership the war was mostly fought in and around Delhi. Thousands of kith and kins were shot or hanged near the gate of Red Fort, Delhi, which is now known as 'Khooni Darwaza'(the bloody gate). The renowned Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib(1797-1869) has given a vivid description of such massacre in his letters now published by the Oxford University Press 'Ghalib his life and letters'compiled and translated by Ralph Russel and Khurshidul Islam(1994).

As the Muslim power waned with the gradual demise of the Mughal Empire, the Muslims of India faced a new challenge - that of protecting their culture and interests, yet interacting with the alien, technologically advantaged power. In this period, the Ulama of Firangi Mahal, based first at Sehali, District Barabanki, and since 1690s based in Lucknow, educated and guided the Muslims. The Firangi Mahal led and steered the Muslims of India. The moulanas and moulvis (religious teachers) of Darul-uloom, Deoband (UP) also played significant role in freedom struggle of India declaring subjugation of an unjust rule is against Islamic tenets.

Other famous Muslims who fought for freedom under the British Raj: Maulana Azad, Hakeem Ajmal Khan, Hasrat Mohani, Dr. Syed Mahmud, Professor Maulavi Barkatullah, Dr. Zakir Husain, Saifuddin Kichlu, Allama Shibli Nomani, Vakkom Abdul Khadir, Dr. Manzoor Abdul Wahab, Bahadur Shah Zafar, Hakeem Nusrat Husain, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, Samad Achakzai, Colonel Shahnawaz, Dr. M.A.Ansari, Rafi Ahmad Kidwai, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad, Ansar Harwani, Tak Sherwani, Nawab Viqarul Mulk, Nawab Mohsinul Mulk, Mustsafa Husain, VM Ubaidullah, SR Rahim, Badruddin Tyabjee, and Moulvi Abdul Hamid.

Until the 1930s Muhammad Ali Jinnah was a member of the Indian National Congress and was part of the freedom struggle. Dr. Sir Allama Muhammad Iqbal, poet and philosopher, was a strong proponent of Hindu - Muslim unity and an undivdided India until the 1920s.

Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar and Maulana Shaukat Ali struggled for the emancipation of the Muslims in the overall Indian context, and struggled for freedom alongside Mahatama Gandhi and Maulana Abdul Bari of Firangi Mahal. Until the 1930s, the Muslims of India broadly conducted their politics alongside their countrymen, in the overall context of an undivided India.

In the late 1920s, recognising the different perspectives of the Indian National Congress and that of the All India Muslim League, Dr. Sir Allama Muhammad Iqbal presented the concept of a separate Muslim homeland in India in the 1930s. Consequently, the All India Muslim League raised the demand for a separate Muslim homeland. This demand was raised in Lahore in 1940 (Known as the Pakistan Resolution). Dr. Sir Allama Muhammad Iqbal had passed away by then, and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan,Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, and many others led the Pakistan Movement.

Initially, the demand for separate Muslim homeland(s) was within a framework of a large, independent, undivided India with autonomous regions governed by the Muslims. A number of other options to give the Muslim minority in India adequate protection and political representation in a free, undivided India, were also debated. However, when no common formula leading to early independence of India from the British Raj could be agreed between the Indian National Congress, the All India Muslim League, and the British colonial government, the All India Muslim League pressed unequivocally with its demand for a completely independent, sovereign country, Pakistan.

Prominent Muslims in independent India


Since India gained independence in 1947, three Muslims have been appointed the President of India: Dr. Zakir Hussain, Dr Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed and Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

Current influential Muslims include: Mohammad Hamid Ansari, the current Vice President of India; Omar Abdullah, chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir; A R Antulay, minority affairs minister and Saifuddin Soz, water resources minister.

Throughout independent India's history, Muslims have played an influential role in Indian politics. Some other influential Muslim politicians include Sheikh Abdullah and his son Farooq Abdullah, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Salman Khurshid and Ghulam Nabi Azad. For details on parliamentary representation see Muslims in Parliament of India.


Some of the most popular and influential actors and actresses in Mumbai-based Bollywood are Muslims. These include Yusuf Khan (stage name Dilip Kumar), Shahrukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Madhubala, Katrina Kaif and Emraan Hashmi. India is also home to several critically acclaimed Muslim actors such as Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi, Waheeda Rehman, Sharmila Tagore, Irrfan Khan, Farida Jalal, Arshad Warsi, Mehmood, Zeenat Aman and Tabu.

Muslims are also playing pivotal roles in the advertising industry, modern art, academics, theater and sports. M. F. Husain is one of India's best known contemporary artists and Academy Awards-winner A. R. Rahman is one of India's most celebrated musicians. Prominent poets and lyricists include Javed Akhtar who has won numerous Filmfare Awards for his work.


Sania Mirza, from Hyderabad is a highest-ranked Indian woman tennis player. In cricket, (which is the most popular game in India), there are many Muslim players who have made their mark. Some of them are Mushtaq Ali, Nawab of Pataudi, Mohammad Azharuddin, Zaheer Khan and Irfan Pathan.


India is home to several influential Muslim businessmen. Some of India's most prominent firms, such as Wipro, Wockhardt, Himalaya Health Care, Hamdard Laboratories, Cipla and Mirza Tanners were founded by Muslims. The only two South Asian Muslim billionaires named by Forbes Magazine, Yusuf Hamied and Azim Premji, are from India.

Law and politics

Muslims in India are governed by "The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937."[28] It directs the application of Muslim Personal Law to Muslims in marriage, mahr (dower), divorce, maintenance, gifts, waqf, wills and inheritance.[29] The courts generally apply the Hanafi Sunni law, with exceptions made only for those areas where Shia law differs substantially from Sunni practice.

The Indian constitution provides equal rights to all citizens irrespective of their religion. Article 44 of the constitution recommends a Uniform civil code. However, the attempts by successive political leadership in the country to integrate Indian society under common civil code is strongly resisted and is viewed by Indian Muslims as an attempt to dilute the cultural identity of the minority groups of the country. Thus in India there exists the unique situation where proponents of a secular law are deemed fascist while those who support the separate Sharia law for Indian Muslims are considered secular. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board was established for the protection and continued applicability of “Muslim Personal Law” i.e. Shariat Application Act in India.

See also: Haj subsidy

Indo Islamic art and architecture

Indian architecture took new shape with the advent of Islamic rule in India towards the end of the 12th century AD. New elements were introduced into the Indian architecture that include: use of shapes (instead of natural forms); inscriptional art using decorative lettering or calligraphy; inlay decoration and use of coloured marble, painted plaster and brightly coloured glazed tiles.

In contrast to the indigenous Indian architecture which was of the trabeate order i.e. all spaces were spanned by means of horizontal beams, the Islamic architecture was arcuate i.e. an arch or dome was adopted as a method of bridging a space. The concept of arch or dome was not invented by the Muslims but was, in fact, borrowed and further perfected by them from the architectural styles of the post-Roman period. Muslims used a cementing agent in the form of mortar for the first time in the construction of buildings in India. They further put to use certain scientific and mechanical formulae, which were derived by experience of other civilizations, in their constructions in India. Such use of scientific principles helped not only in obtaining greater strength and stability of the construction materials but also provided greater flexibility to the architects and builders. One fact that must be stressed here is that, the Islamic elements of architecture had already passed through different experimental phases in other countries like Egypt, Iran and Iraq before these were introduced in India. Unlike most Islamic monuments in these countries, which were largely constructed in brick, plaster and rubble, the Indo-Islamic monuments were typical mortar-masonry works formed of dressed stones. It must be emphasized that the development of the Indo-Islamic architecture was greatly facilitated by the knowledge and skill possessed by the Indian craftsmen, who had mastered the art of stonework for centuries and used their experience while constructing Islamic monuments in India.

Islamic architecture in India can be divided into two parts: religious and secular. Mosques and Tombs represent the religious architecture, while palaces and forts are examples of secular Islamic architecture. Forts were essentially functional, complete with a little township within and various fortifications to engage and repel the enemy.

Mosques: The mosque or masjid is a representation of Muslim art in its simplest form. The mosque is basically an open courtyard surrounded by a pillared verandah, crowned off with a dome. A mihrab indicates the direction of the qibla for prayer. Towards the right of the mihrab stands the mimbar or pulpit from where the Imam presides over the proceedings. An elevated platform, usually a minaret from where the Faithful are summoned to attend prayers is an invariable part of a mosque. Large mosques where the faithful assemble for the Friday prayers are called the Jama Masjids.

Tombs: Although not actually religious in nature, the tomb or maqbara introduced an entirely new architectural concept. While the masjid was mainly known for its simplicity, a tomb could range from being a simple affair (Aurangazeb’s grave) to an awesome structure enveloped in grandeur (Taj Mahal). The tomb usually consists of a solitary compartment or tomb chamber known as the huzrah in whose centre is the cenotaph or zarih. This entire structure is covered with an elaborate dome. In the underground chamber lies the mortuary or the maqbara, in which the corpse is buried in a grave or qabr. Smaller tombs may have a mihrab, although larger mausoleums have a separate mosque located at a distance from the main tomb. Normally the whole tomb complex or rauza is surrounded by an enclosure. The tomb of a Muslim saint is called a dargah. Almost all Islamic monuments were subjected to free use of verses from the Quran and a great amount of time was spent in carving out minute details on walls, ceilings, pillars and domes.

Islamic architecture in India can be classified into three sections: Delhi or the Imperial style (1191 to 1557AD); the Provincial style, encompassing the surrounding areas like Jaunpur and the Deccan; and the Mughal style (1526 to 1707AD).[30]


Religious conflict

Hindu-Muslim conflict

See also: Persecution of Muslims.

See also: Persecution of Hindus.

See also: Religious violence in India.

India has always maintained a constitutional commitment to secularism. Since the colonial period, Hindu-Muslim relations in India have been marred by communal violence.

1947 - 1991

The aftermath of the Partition of India in 1947 saw large scale sectarian strife and bloodshed throughout the nation. Since then, India has witnessed sporadic large-scale violence sparked by underlying tensions between sections of the Hindu and Muslim communities. These conflicts also stem from the ideologies of Hindu Nationalism versus Islamic Extremism and prevalent in certain sections of the population.

More Muslims have usually been killed than Hindus in inter-community violence in India, while many Hindus have been persecuted in neighboring Muslim states and in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. In all the communal riots since 1947, factually contested official police records reveal that three-quarters of lives lost and properties destroyed were Muslim, a figure that climbed to 85% during the 2002 riots in Gujarat.[31] .

Violence against Hindus East Pakistan, seeing the transmigration of over two million Hindus from 1950 to 1969, and also that of many Urdu speaking Muslims from the newly formed Bangladesh to West Pakistan during and after the 1971 crisis. The birth of Bangladesh witnessed unparalleled violence against Hindus as well when nearly three million Bangladeshis were killed and another 10 million sought refuge in India, the majority of them were Hindu. In addition, Islamist attacks on Hindus in Kashmir such as the Wandhama massacre and Kaluchak Massacre contributed to the rising communal tensions in the region. The ethnic cleansing of the Hindu Kashmiri Pandits from the region by Islamists worsened the situation. The Indian military stationed in Kashmir has been accused by Pakistan, as well as human rights advocacy groups, of atrocities against the Muslim population in the region.

Since 1992

The sense of communal harmony between Hindus and Muslims in the post-partition period has been compromised in the last decade with the razing of the disputed Babri Mosque in Ayodhya. The demolition took place in 1992 and was allegedly perpetrated by the Hindu Nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party and organizations like Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad. This was followed by tit for tat violence by Muslim and Hindu fundamentalists throughout the country including Bombay with the Bombay Riots and also the 1993 Bombay Bombings, amongst those allegedly involved in these atrocities were the Muslim Mafia don Dawood Ibrahim and the predominantly Muslim D-Company criminal gang. In 2001 a high profile attack on the Indian Parliament by Islamic militants created considerable strain on community relations.

Some of the most violent events in recent times took place during the infamous Gujarat riots in 2002 where it is estimated one thousand people were killed, most of whom allegedly Muslim, some sources claim there were approximately 2000 Muslim deaths,[31] there were also allegations made of state involvement. [32] [33] The riots were in retaliation to the Godhra Train Burning in which 50 Hindus pilgrims returning from the disputed site of the Babri Mosque, were burnt alive in a train fire at the Godhra railway station. The incident was a planned act carried out by revengeful and extremist Ghanchi Muslims in the region against the Hindu pilgrims according to Gujarat police.[34] The commission appointed by a pro-Muslim minister to investigate this finding declared that the fire was an accident. In 2006 the High Court decided the constitution of such a committee was illegal as another inquiry headed by Justice Nanavati Shah was still investigating the matter. The Nanavati Shah commission has already given it's first report, in last week of September 2008, where it has said that burning of train in Godhra was pre-planned and petrol of large quantity was bought by a group of Muslim people for this purpose.

There was widespread communal violence in which both communities suffered. In these riots, the role played by chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, and some of his ministers, police officers, and other right wing Hindu organization has been critisized. It was alleged that Gujarat administration,Gujarat police under Narendra Modi, delibaratly targeted Muslims. Narendra Modi was even accused of genocide. But Nanavati commission Report has clarified that all these allegation were wrong. Nanavati Commission has given clean chit to Narendra Modi, his ministers who were accused of violence against Muslims, and also Gujarat police and their officers of any role in riots against Muslims.

Muslim-Hindu conflicts have also been fomented due to the mushrooming of Islamist organisations like SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India) whose goal is to establish Islamic rule in India. Other Pakistan based groups such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed have been fomenting bias in the local Muslim populace against Hindus. These groups are believed by many to be responsible for the 11 July 2006 Mumbai train bombings, in which nearly 200 people were killed. Such groups also attacked the Indian Parliament in 2001, declared parts of Indian Kashmir to be Pakistani in 1999 and have orchestrated numerous other attacks including constant attacks in Indian Kashmir and bombings in the Indian capital New Delhi. In the meantime, the toll of innocent Muslims and Hindus at the altar of communal strife continues to mount.

As per Professor M.D. Nalapat (Vice-chairman of the Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair, and professor of geopolitics at Manipal University), the reason for "Hindu - Muslim" conflict is "Hindu Backlash" or "partial" secularism, in which only Hindus are expected to be secular while Muslims and other minorities remain free to practice exclusionary practices. [35] .

Muslim-Sikh conflict

The only conflict between Muslims and Sikhs were the pre partition era. Which caused the most extreme violence in the whole nation just in the Punjab region estimating around 500,000 deaths. In the West Punjab Muslims mob were attacking and haunting down for Sikhs in near by cities and villages. On the other hand, in Indian Punjab Sikh mobs took revenge and did not spare a single muslim in East Punjab. The only city that was spared in East Punjab by Sikhs was Malerkotla. Thanks to Guru Gobind Singh Ji he had announced that no one should ever harm this city no matter what the cause is. The Sikhs took that to heart and let no one ever attack the princely city. The nawab of this city was a Muslim and a great friend of Guru Gobind Singh Ji who was against the Mughals for capturing Guru ji's youngers sons. Many of the Mughal empires called the malerkotla nawab a kaffir (non-beilver). Malerkotla is the only village in Indian Punjab with a Muslim population. Punjab is the only state in India with a Sikh majority, and has hardly any Muslim population only around the Malerkotla area you will see Muslim families.

Muslim-Christian conflict

For the most part, Muslims and Christians form the same votebank in the left-of-center arena of politics, typically at odds with Hindus. However, in troubled areas of India, Muslims and Christians have come into conflict with each other.

Muslims in India who convert to Christianity are often subjected to harassment, intimidation, and attacks by Muslims. In Kashmir, the only Indian state with a Muslim majority, a Christian convert and missionary named Bashir Tantray was killed, allegedly by militant Islamists in 2006[36] .

A Christian priest, K.K. Alavi, who is a convert from Islam, recently raised the ire of his former Muslim community and has received many death threats. An Islamic terrorist group named "The National Development Front" actively campaigned against him.[37] .

Muslim institutes

There are several well established Muslim institutes in India. Here is a list of reputed institutes established by Muslims.

  1. Aligarh Muslim University
  2. Al Ameen Medical College
  3. Dar-us salam education trust
  4. Jamia Millia Islamia
  5. Hamdard University
  6. Al- Barkaat Educational Institutions
  7. Maulana Azad Education Society Aurangabad
  8. Dr. Rafiq Zakariya Campus Aurangabad
  9. Al Ameen Educational Society
  10. Crescent Engineering College
  11. Al-Kabir educational society
  12. Darul Uloom Deoband
  13. Darul-uloom Nadwatul Ulama
  14. Integral University

Population statistics

Islam is India's largest minority religion, with Muslims officially constituting 13.4% of the country's population, or 138 million people as of the 2001 census. However, unofficial estimates claim a far higher figure supposedly discounted in censuses. For instance, in an interview with a well circulated newspaper of India The Hindu Justice K.M. Yusuf, a retired Judge from Calcutta High Court and Chairman of West Bengal Minority Commission, has said that the real percentage of Muslims in India is at least 20%.

Hindutva groups claim in their reports that the Muslim population has reached 30%. [38]

The largest concentrations-about 47% of all Muslims in India, according to the 2001 census--live in the 3 states of Uttar Pradesh (30.7 million) (18.5%), West Bengal (20.2 million) (25%), and Bihar (13.7 million) (16.5%). Muslims represent a majority of the local population only in Jammu and Kashmir (67% in 2001). High concentrations of Muslims are found in the eastern states of Assam (31%) and West Bengal (25%), and in the southern state of Kerala (24.7%). Muslims are generally more educated, urban, integrated and prosperous in the Western and Southern states of India than in the Northern and Eastern ones; this could be due to partition when the more affluent and educated population migrated over the border, to Pakistan in the North and Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) in the East. India has the third largest Muslim population (after Indonesia and Pakistan) and also the second largest Shia Muslim population (after Iran) in the world.

The analysis on religious data, among the six major religious communities, shows that the decadal growth of the Muslims was the highest (36.0%) in the 2001 census. This statistic suggested that while the growth rate for Hindus has fallen between 1991 and 2001 compared with 1981 and 1991, Muslims have actually grown faster in the last decade, this led Indian media[39] and different parties raising an alarm at the growing number of Muslims and expressing concern about the demographic imbalance and overpopulation, which the Indian government is desperately trying to stop democratically.[40]

A grave objection to this theory is the fact that the 1991 census did not include Jammu & Kashmir, the only Muslim majority state and strife-torn Assam, while the 2001 census does include Jammu & Kashmir. Adjusted for this, the Muslim growth rate plunges from 36 per cent to 29.3 per cent.

Muslim population in Indian states according to 2001 Census.[3]

StatePopulation Percentage
Jammu & Kashmir6,793,24066.9700
West Bengal20,240,54325.2451
Uttar Pradesh30,740,15818.4961
Andhra Pradesh6,986,8569.1679
Andaman & Nicobar Islands29,2658.2170
Daman & Diu12,2817.7628
Madhya Pradesh3,841,4496.3655
Tamil Nadu3,470,6475.5614
Dadra & Nagar Haveli6,5242.9589
Himachal Pradesh119,5121.9663
Arunachal Pradesh20,6751.8830

Percentage distribution of population (adjusted)by religious communities : India – 1961 to 2001Census (excluding Assam and J&K).[1]

Year Percentage
1951 10.1%
1971 10.4%
1981 11.9%
1991 12.0%
2001 12.8%

Percentage distribution (unadjusted) of population by religious communities India - 1961 to 2001 Census (without excluding Assam and J&K).[1]

Year Percentage
1961 10.7%
1971 11.2%
1981 12.0%
1991 12.8%
2001 13.4%
Table : Census information for 2001: Hindu and Muslim compared
CompositionHindus[41] Muslims[42]
% total of population 200180.513.4
10-Yr Growth % (est '91–'01)[43] 20.336.0
Sex ratio* (avg. 933)931936
Literacy rate (avg. 64.8)65.159.1
Work Participation Rate40.431.3
Rural sex ratio944953
Urban sex ratio894907
Child sex ratio (0–6 yrs)925950

Islamic traditions in South Asia

The majority of Muslims in India are of the Sunni Barelwi School. India Today in its recent report says

The Barelvi school to which over two-thirds of India's 15 crore Muslims subscribe to and who follow the Islam enriched by its contact with fertile local cultures, revere the Prophet and revel in Sufi traditions like dargah visit, music and mysticism.[44]
Manzar-e-Islam Bareilly and Al Jamiatul Ashrafia are most famous Seminary of Barelwi Muslims.Darul-Uloom Deoband is the most influential Deobandi seminary in India.Sufism is a mystical dimension of Islam, often complimentary with the legalistic path of the sharia. A Sufi attains a direct vision of oneness with God, often on the edges of orthodox behavior, and can thus become a Pir (living saint) who may take on disciples (murids) and set up a spiritual lineage that can last for generations. Orders of Sufis became important in India during the thirteenth century following the ministry of Moinuddin Chishti (1142-1236), who settled in Ajmer, Rajasthan, and attracted large numbers of converts to Islam because of his holiness. His Chishtiyya order went on to become the most influential Sufi lineage in India, although other orders from Central Asia and Southwest Asia also reached to India and played a major role in the spread of Islam. In this way, they created a large literature in regional languages that embedded Islamic culture deeply into older South Asian traditions.

The leadership of the Muslim community pursued various directions in the evolution of Indian Islam during the twentieth century. The most conservative wing has typically rested on the education system provided by the hundreds of religious training institutes (madrasa) throughout the country, which have tended to stress the study of the Qur'an and Islamic texts in Arabic and Persian but little else. Several national movements have emerged from this sector of the Muslim community. The Jamaati Islami (Islamic Party), founded in 1941, advocates the establishment of an overtly Islamic government. The Tablighi Jamaat (Outreach Society) became active after the 1940s as a movement, primarily among the ulema (religious leaders), stressing personal renewal, prayer, a missionary spirit, and attention to orthodoxy. It has been highly critical of the kind of activities that occur in and around Sufi shrines and remains a minor if respected force in the training of the ulema. Conversely, other ulema have upheld the legitimacy of mass religion, including exaltation of pirs and the memory of the Prophet. A powerful secularising drive led by Syed Ahmad Khan resulted in the foundation of Aligarh Muslim University (1875 as the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College)-with a broader, more modern curriculum, and other major Muslim universities.

See also

External links


Notes and References

  1. Indian Census
  2. International Religious Freedom Report 2007 - India
  3. Indian Census 2001 - Religion
  4. CIA's The World Factbook - India
  5. Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs - Background Note: India
  6. India's Muslims face up to rifts
  7. India's Muslim population
  8. ISBN 81-86050-79-5 Ancient and Medieval History of India
  9. ISBN 983915480X
  10. Sturrock, J.,South Canara and Madras District Manual (2 vols., Madras, 1894-1895)
  11. ISBN 81-85843-05-8 Cultural Heritage of India Vol. IV
  12. -Genesis and Growth of the Mappila Community
  13. -Cheraman Juma Masjid A Secular Heritage
  14. Bahrain tribune World’s second oldest mosque is in India
  15. -A mosque from a Hindu king
  16. - Genesis and Growth of the Mappila Community
  17. Book: Saliba, George. Islamic Science and the Making of the European Renaissance. The MIT Press. 2007. 978-0-262-19557-7.
  18. der Veer, pg 27-29
  19. Eaton, Richard M. The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier, 1204-1760. Berkeley: University of California Press, c1993 1993.Online version last accessed on 1 May 2007
  20. Book: Durant, Will. Will Durant

    . Will Durant. "The Story of Civilization: Our Oriental Heritage" (page 459).

  21. News: Koenraad. Elst. Was there an Islamic "Genocide" of Hindus?. Kashmir Herald. 2006-08-25. 2006-08-25.
  22. Book: Sarkar, Jadunath. Jadunath Sarkar

    . Jadunath Sarkar. How the Muslims forcibly converted the Hindus of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh to Islam.

  23. Caste in Indian Muslim Society
  24. Book: Aggarwal, Patrap. Patrap C. Aggarwal

    . Patrap C. Aggarwal. Caste and Social Stratification Among Muslims in India. Manohar. 1978.

  25. Book: Maddison, Angus. Patrap C. Aggarwal

    . Patrap C. Aggarwal. The Contours of the World Economy 1-2030 AD. Oxford University Press. 2006.

  26. Biraben, Jean-Noël (2003). "The rising numbers of humankind", Populations & Societies 394.
  27. Islam and the sub-continent - appraising its impact
  28. The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937
  29. India, Republic of
  30. (Courtesy:
  31. India's Great Divide
  32. India's Great Divide
  33. Demand for CBI probe into Zaheera's u-turn
  34. Still a burning question
  35. A Hindu backlash hits Sonia Gandhi -
  36. Christian convert from Islam shot dead in Kashmir
  37. Convert from Islam in India Remains on Death List
  39. The Muslim growth rate and the media
  40. - The population bogey Frontline Coverstory Volume 21 - Issue 20, Sept. 25 - Oct. 08, 2004
  41. Web site: Tables: Profiles by main religions: Hindus. PDF. 2007-04-17. Census of India 2001: DATA ON RELIGION. Office of the Registrar General, India.
  42. Web site: Tables: Profiles by main religions: Muslims. PDF. 2007-04-17. Census of India 2001: DATA ON RELIGION. Office of the Registrar General, India.
  43. Web site: A snapshot of population size, distribution, growth and socio economic characteristics of religious communities from Census 2001. 2007-04-20. PDF. Census of India 2001: DATA ON RELIGION. Office of the Registrar General, India. pp1–9.