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Medieval History / Delhi Sultanate

Advent of Islam in India

Advent of Islam in India happened when Arab traders came to the coastal Malabar region. Cheraman Juma Mosque in Kerala is assumed to be the first mosque that was built in India in 629 AD by Malik Deenar, who is an Arab propagator of Islam. But significant conversion of locals to Islam happened only after invasion of Islamic rulers against India.

Introduction to Islam Religion

  • The meaning of Islam is Surrender to God. Islam religion was founded by Muhammad, who is declared as Prophet (571 - 632 AD). Muhammad was born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Islam is one of the monotheistic religions that believes in single God that is Allah.

  • In 622 AD, Prophet and his followers left Mecca and reached Medina (then Yathrib). It is called Hijrah (migration). Islam got spread from Medina. It also marks the starting of Muslim calendar (Hijrah Era).

  • Khalifa is the successor of Prophet. Two persons emerged as competitors for the successor post after Muhammad's death namely, Ali ibn Abi Talib (Son-in-law of Prophet) and Abu Bakr (Father-in-law of Prophet).

    Majority people supported Abu Bakr and he became the first Khalifa (successor), head of Islam throughout the world. Conflict between these two groups got started and schism happened in Islam. Shia Muslims followed Ali ibn Abi Talib and Sunni Muslims followed Abu Bakr.
  • Five Pillars of Islam

    • Shahada - It is nothing but declaring faith in Islam and accepting one God for the entire Universe that is Allah and Muhammad as the real Messenger of Allah. It remains a dogmatic principle.

    • Salat - Every Muslim is expected to perform Namaz 5 times a day. Azan is a call to prayer. The Minar in the mosque is meant for Azan.

    • Zakat - Every rich man has to spend 2.5% of his income to the poor otherwise, he is punishable. It is the income tax imposed by God. It is considered a humanitarian principle.

    • Sawm - It is fasting in the month of Ramadan or Ramzan. The month of Ramadan is that in which the Quran was revealed to Muhammad by God.

    • Hajj - Every rich Muslim in his lifetime, must make a pilgrimage to the place of Mecca. He needs to take 7 circumlocutions around a stone called Kaaba.

First Islamic Invasion of India

There are three important Islamic rulers who invaded India in the early ages when Islam was born.

  • Muhammad bin Qasim

    He was an Arab, who conquered India in 712 AD. He is the first Muslim to conquer, rule and collect Jizya (Tax paid by non-believers in Islamic countries) on people of India. He invaded and conquered the Sindh region.

    Dahir of Chach Dynasty was the king who was ruling Sindh at that time. Gifts sent by Sri Lankan king to Khalifa were looted at Sindh. Dahir rejected to pay compensation.

    Hence, Muhammad bin Qasim invaded Sindh and defeated Dahir. This information comes from the book Chachnama which tells about the history of Sindh.

  • Mahmud of Ghazni

    • He got Mansur from Khalifa. He invaded India 17 times between 1000 and 1027 AD. His first invasion took place in 1000 AD. In this invasion, Rajput king Jayapala (he had boundaries shared with Ghazni) belonging to Hindu Shahi Dynasty was defeated. Jayapala committed immolation himself after the defeat.

    • In 1008 AD, in the battle of Waihind, he defeated confederation of Rajputs under the leadership of Anandapala, who is the son of Jayapala.

    • In 1027 AD, Mahmud of Ghazni defeated (suppressed) Jat's rebellion in Punjab against him.

    • He took the title But-Shikan (Idol-breaker)

    • He had good scholars in his court and among them two are important,

      • Ferdowsi (known as Homer of the East) - He wrote a book named Shahnama in Persian language.

      • Al-Biruni (Abu Rayan) - He came from Uzbekistan to India in 1017 AD along with Ghazni and stayed here up to 1030 AD. He is considered the first Indologist. He wrote a book Kitab al-Hind (A book about India in which he criticized Indian civilization).

        It is in Arabic language. This book is the mirror of 11th Century. This book was being translated into many languages. He translated many Sanskrit books into the Arabic language.

        He translated Brihat-Samhita into Arabic language and also translated Euclid's (Greek mathematician) "Principles of Geometry" into the Sanskrit language.
  • Muhammad of Ghor

    During the period between 1175 and 1206 AD, he continuously invaded India. In 1206 AD, he came to India to suppress Khokhar (a community of Punjab) rebellion of Punjab.

    On the way to Ghazni, he was assassinated in 1206 AD. In India, his Governor Qutb-ud-din Aibak of Mamluk dynasty declared independence in the same year and established Muslim Rule in India.

    Qutb-ud-din Aibak, who has become the first Sultan of Delhi, was a slave of Muhammad Ghori and hence the dynasty is also called Slave dynasty.