ISLAM IN INDIA
The initial entry
of Islam into India came in the first century after the death
of the Prophet Muhammad (see Basic Tenets of Islam , ch. 2). The
Umayyad caliph in Damascus sent an expedition to Balochistan and
Sindh in 711 led by Muhammad bin Qasim (for whom Karachi's second
port is named). The expedition went as far north as Multan but
was not able to retain that region and was not successful in expanding
Islamic rule to other parts of India. Coastal trade and the presence
of a Muslim colony in Sindh, however, permitted significant cultural
exchanges and the introduction into the subcontinent of saintly
teachers (Sufi--see Glossary). Muslim influence grew with conversions.
Almost three centuries later, the Turks and the Afghans spearheaded
the Islamic conquest in India through the traditional invasion
routes of the northwest. Mahmud of Ghazni (979-1030) led a series
of raids against Rajput kingdoms and rich Hindu temples and established
a base in Punjab for future incursions. Mahmud's tactics originated
the legend of idol-smashing Muslims bent on plunder and forced
conversions, a reputation that persists in India to the present
During the last quarter of the twelfth century, Muhammad of Ghor
invaded the Indo-Gangetic Plain, conquering in succession Ghazni,
Multan, Sindh, Lahore, and Delhi. His successors established the
first dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate, the Mamluk Dynasty (mamluk
means "slave") in 1211 (however, the Delhi Sultanate is traditionally
held to have been founded in 1206). The territory under control
of the Muslim rulers in Delhi expanded rapidly. By mid-century,
Bengal and much of central India was under the Delhi Sultanate.
Several Turko-Afghan dynasties ruled from Delhi: the Mamluk (1211-90),
the Khalji (1290-1320), the Tughlaq (1320-1413), the Sayyid (1414-51),
and the Lodhi (1451-1526). As Muslims extended their rule into
southern India, only the Hindu kingdom of Vijayanagar remained
immune, until it too fell in 1565. Although some kingdoms remained
independent of Delhi in the Deccan and in Gujarat, Malwa (central
India), and Bengal, almost all of the area in presentday Pakistan
came under the rule of Delhi.
The sultans of Delhi enjoyed cordial, if superficial, relations
with Muslim rulers in the Near East but owed them no allegiance.
The sultans based their laws on the Quran and the sharia (see
Glossary) and permitted non-Muslim subjects to practice their
religion only if they paid jizya (see Glossary) or head tax. The
sultans ruled from urban centers--while military camps and trading
posts provided the nuclei for towns that sprang up in the countryside.
Perhaps the greatest contribution of the sultanate was its temporary
success in insulating the subcontinent from the potential devastation
of the Mongol invasion from Central Asia in the thirteenth century.
The sultanate ushered in a period of Indian cultural renaissance
resulting from the stimulation of Islam by Hinduism. The resulting
"Indo-Muslim" fusion left lasting monuments in architecture, music,
literature, and religion. The sultanate suffered from the sacking
of Delhi in 1398 by Timur (Tamerlane) but revived briefly under
the Lodhis before it was conquered by the Mughals.
Data as of April 1994