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Religious Conversion: A Major Threat to India's Survival - Part II
by Dr. Jaipal Singh Bookmark and Share

Continued from Part I  

While different civilizations evolved in various parts of the world with the human beings coming together for the community living, this led to constant civilizational conflicts too for supremacy of territorial, cultural and religious reasons, or even for the sheer personal greed of the kings, community leaders and warlords. For instance, the ancient civilizations of the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians grew in close proximity and remained at constant conflicts and wars with each other for centuries. Nonetheless one would seldom find a case that one civilization destroyed another; on the contrary, one would find many illustrations that they learned to live in peace in a syncretic and synergized way together after conquering another territory or empire. Many common cultural and religious attributes of the ancient Greeks and Romans, or even Egyptians, including gods and goddesses only vindicate this position. In fact, not only the conquered people were allowed to follow their cultural and religious beliefs but also the conquerors adopted some of the former’s best practices in own socio-religious life in most cases.

Later, it was only with the advent of the Abrahamic religions that the kings, warlords and their followers systematically started destroying the centuries old civilizational attributes, including culture and religion, of the conquered people. Although the Christianity began in 1st century CE with Jesus and his apostles, it acquired state patronage and opportunity to expand after the Roman Emperor Constantine converted and endorsed it in early 4th century CE. Although the initial history of the Christian religion too is full of forced conversion, violence and bloodbath worldwide, it became more tolerant and resorted to evangelic means to achieve same objectives later on. On the other hand, Islam originated in Mecca and Medina in the beginning of the 7th century with Prophet Muhammad and is so often quoted as a “religion of peace” but the entire history of the religion during the last fourteen hundred years is full of hostility towards other faiths, forced conversions, employing extreme violence, and genocide and destruction of the culture and religion of other communities or group of people.

It is a rather inglorious history of the world during the last two millennia how the ancient glorious civilizations of Mesopotamia, North Africa and Southern Europe such as Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Persian, and so on, were destroyed and the followers of various pagan religions converted to Christianity and/or Islam. On date, the only oldest surviving culture and religion remains the Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism), which has severely been dented and is constantly under threat from the orthodox and radical elements of the two Abrahamic religions. The erstwhile Bharatvarsha (India) has broken into several pieces over the years yet a significant Hindu population (third largest in the world) is still living in India as a secular country. In the previous part, the advent and spread of Christianity in India had been explained and in the current piece, the author proposes to briefly explain the advent of Islam in the Indian sub-continent and the treatment meted by the Islamic rulers to non-Muslim population, mainly Hindus, in India during the last millennium.

Early Islamic Advent and Invasion of Indian Sub-Continent

Muhammad ibn Abdullah alias Prophet Muhammad, an Arab religious and socio-political leader, was the founder of Islam in early seventh century CE, who according to Islamic doctrine was a prophet, sent as messenger to spread the words of Allah (God) with Quran the final revelation and literal word of Allah in the classical Arabic language. The initial campaigns of the conquest and conversion at Mecca, Medina and parts of Arabia were led by Prophet Muhammad himself and in subsequent years, the caliphate(s), the politico-religious successor(s) to Prophet Muhammad and the leader of the Muslim world (Ummah), vigorously carried out armed struggle and spread of the religion in various parts of the world.

After the death of Prophet Muhammad, the Rashidun Caliphate (633 - 654 CE) conquered and consolidated their position in Persia and Herat (Afghan city), thereby bringing them close to the Indian doorsteps. Subsequently, the Umayyad Caliphate made a few unsuccessful attempts, first under Ubaidulla, and second under Budail, to invade India fascinated with its vast wealth and prosperity and the zeal of further expansion of the Islamic influence. Finally, Mohammad bin Qasim led third Arab invasion of the Sindh and Punjab region in 711-12 CE opened doors for the Islamic conquest in India. According to sources, King Dahir of Sindh put up a brave fight against the invaders but he did not get support from the neighbouring Indian states and was ultimately defeated by the Arabs. However, the invaders failed to make progress beyond Sindh and Multan and Qasim was called back by the Caliph. Consequently, the Arab invaders had to return back with loots and other exploits, reportedly, captives including two enslaved daughters of the king.

Although there was not much headway in Islamic conquest further east but a relative successful invasion of Arabs led by Muhammad bin Qasim in early eighth century bore special significance as it inspired and paved way for further Islamic raids of India by the likes of Mahumud of Ghazini and Muhammad Ghori. Even history and historians have been very partial and divided about the Islamic invasion; while Hindus in the Indian sub-continent remember Qasim as a bloodthirsty and atrocious tyrant, the Pakistan and many Indian Muslims remember him as the Muslim ruler, who arguably brought the ‘first light onto this dark land’, the harbinger of nobilities that followed him as the Ghori, Babur, Abdalis, and so on. In the history of Pakistan, formed in 1947 after breaking India, Qasim would be a hero and symbol of Pakistani nationalism while King Dahir naturally an anti-thesis for them. This can be also adjudged from the fact that the most missiles of Pakistan with India proclaimed as sworn enemy are christened as Abdali, Babur, Ghauri, Ghaznavi, Shaheen, Ababeel, and so on, and even some Indian Muslims such as actor Saif Ali Khan take pride in naming their son as Timur, in whose name a record of slaughtering hundreds of thousand Hindus is authentically registered.

Age Of Islamic Rule in India

1. Delhi Sultanate

Mahmud of Ghazni of Ghaznavid Sultanate is known to have raided Northwestern parts of the Indian subcontinent seventeen times from 1001 to 1030 CE, starting with the battle of Peshawar with King Jayapala of the Hindu Shahi dynasty of Gandhara (Afghanistan). His horrendous battle exploits included loot of the wealth of many Hindu temples, the most prominent among them being the famous Somnath temple. Apart from plundering enormous wealth, he is known to have slaughtered or enslaved about two million Hindus; and most captives men and women were sent to Ghazni, where they were either sold or retained to serve his forces as slaves. Mahmud's forces are said to have attacked and desecrated Hindu temples at Varanasi, Mathura, Ujjain, Maheshwar, Jwalamukhi, Somnath and Dwarka as part of Islamic conquest.

Before he died in 1030 CE, despite his raids across vast regions of Northern and Western India, Mahmud controlled only the erstwhile united Punjab under his direct reign while he exercised nominal control over the dynasties of the Doab, Rajasthan, Gujarat and part of Kashmir. Al Biruni, an Iranian scholar and polymath, wrote in 1030 CE in detail on the devastation caused by Mahmud of Ghazni during his conquest of Gandhara and parts of Northwest India. The following excerpt from his writings give a fair idea of atrocities on Hindus caused by him:

Mahmud utterly ruined the prosperity of the country, and performed there wonderful exploits, by which the Hindus became like atoms of dust scattered in all directions, and like a tale of old in the mouth of the people. Their scattered remains cherish, of course, the most inveterate aversion towards all Muslims.”

Shahanotherb-ud-Din Muhammad Ghori was an Islamic warlord of Turkish origin from the Ghor region of Afghanistan, who conquered Ghazni empire from the Ghaznavids in 1186 and established Ghurid dynasty. They are believed to have converted from Buddhism to Sunni Islam. During his time, Prithviraj III of Chauhan dynasty ruled from Delhi as an influential and powerful Hindu king and his kingdom spread from the surrounding areas of Delhi to Ajmer of the present-day Rajasthan. Muhammad Ghori invaded the territory of the Delhi king in 1191 CE, which led to a fierce battle between the Rajput and Muslim armies officially known as the First Battle of Tarain. In the ensuing war, Ghori was defeated and pushed back by Prithviraj. However, Ghori invaded in the following year again, two armies again met at the same venue. Ghori is stated to have become victorious in the Second Battle of Tarain in 1192 and Prithviraj was killed (there are many versions) paving way for Islamic rule in Delhi for the first time.

Following this victory over the Rajput king, Muhammad Ghori committed enormous atrocities on Hindus. The city and its temples were destroyed, repertory was looted and hundreds of Hindus enslaved pronouncing Islamic rule in the country. Although vast tract of the country including south and central parts did not pay obeisance to Delhi king, the victory over Prithviraj Chauhan was still significant as he did represent symbolic central authority while controlling much of the present-day Rajasthan, Haryana, and Delhi; and parts of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. This Battle of Tarain had a great significance because his led to downfall of Rajputs and Muslim control over the vast parts of India for the first time. The Islamic rule from Delhi in 1192 CE paved way for subsequent Muslim rulers of the Delhi Sultanate and Mughals in the country for the centuries to come.

While some colonial and post-independence leftist historians have attempted to suppress atrocities and excesses over the Hindus and glorify the medieval period of Islamic rule, particularly those of the Mughal emperors, as the golden period of the Indian history, the fact is the period is characterized with a systematic desecration and destruction of the Hindu culture and religion under the state patronage of the successive Muslim rulers in Delhi and elsewhere. Few people know or care about the fact that Muhammad Ghori was inspired by the Islamic preacher Moinuddin Chisti in twelfth century to attack India and spread Islam in this land. Chisti was subsequently glorified as sufi saint and is now worshipped in Ajmer Sharif by both Muslims and Hindus. As per Rajput history recorded by the Hindu historians and Chander Berdai’s book “Prithviraj Raso”, Ghori attacked 16 times while post-independence historians support Islamic account of two wars.

The Delhi Sultanate was an Islamic empire with central seat in Delhi that spanned for about 320 years (1206–1526 CE) stretching over a large part of the Indian subcontinent. During this period, five dynasties ruled from Delhi in the following sequence: the Mamluk (Slave) dynasty (1206–1290 CE), the Khalji dynasty (1290–1320 CE), the Tughlaq dynasty (1320–1414 CE), the Sayyid dynasty (1414–1451 CE), and the Lodi dynasty (1451–1526 CE). The period was characterized with constant conflicts, bloodbath and atrocities over Hindus to gain control and expand Islamic influence over the larger territories. Various dynasties had fuller or partial control over the territories in the modern-day India, Pakistan, Bangladesh as also parts of southern Nepal. Although each ruler has their own tolls to credit, Bakhtiyar Khalji was particularly responsible for the large-scale desecration of Hindu and Buddhist temples, destruction of universities and libraries and coercive measures for the conversion of Hindus and Buddhists to Islam. These developments led to mass destruction of the Sanatana Hindu culture in India and migration of fleeing soldiers, intelligentsia, mystics, traders, artists, and artisans from the affected regions in the subcontinent, and, in turn, establishing firm Islamic culture in India.

The respective Sultans of Delhi Sultanate had based their laws on the Quran and Sharia, and allowed non-Muslim subjects, mainly Hindus and Buddhists, to practice their religion with certain restrictions including levy of the jizya. They ruled from urban centres, while military camps and trading posts provided the nuclei for towns that sprang up in the countryside. The Sultanate had endured severe jolt during Timur’s invasion in 1398, but again revived under the Lodi Dynasty before the advent of Mughal empire established by Zahiruddin Babur. Right from Qutb al-Din Aibak of the Slave dynasty to the last Sultan of Lodhi Dynasty, each one has their own gory tales of bigotry and tyranny against Hinduism and other allied religions of the Indian sub-continent. Historian Hasan Nizami in his Tajul-Ma’asir, stated to be the first official history of the Delhi Sultanate, wrote about Aibak’s reign that Aibak as a devout Muslim uprooted idolatry and destroyed temples at Kuhram, and the Hindu temples at Meerut, Banaras and Kalinjar were converted into mosques. The fact that remains of demolished Hindu temples were used to build mosques could still be corroborated by architectural remains, such as from the Qutb Minar complex in Delhi.

Armies of Delhi Sultanate had so often completely destroyed cities during their military expeditions against Hindu rulers. According to Jain historian Jinaprabha Suri, Nusrat Khan Jalesari, one-time wazir and general of Alauddin Khalji destroyed hundreds of towns including Ashapalli (modern Ahmedabad), Vanthali and Surat during the Devagiri (1296 CE) and Gujarat (1299 CE) campaigns. During the military campaigns, the massacres of the alleged infidels (mostly Hindus) was considered a noble religious deed. Some of the more notorious massacres that could easily be categorized as genocide of the Sultanate period include elimination of Rajputs of Mewat and Awadh by Ghiyas ud din Balban, killing of thousands of people at Chittor on the orders of Alauddin Khalji, thousands of Hindu ascetics by Muhammad bin Tughlaq, and nearly 180 thousand people during the invasion of Bengal by Firuz Shah Tughlaq’s army. However, life of those who readily agreed to convert to Islam was spared.

Desecration and destruction of temples, universities and libraries was probably considered as a pious religious duty by Sultans. American historian Richard Eaton had tabulated 37 instances of temples and idols destruction by Delhi Sultans, according to him, for which reasonable evidences are available. This at best could be illustrated as some proof by an independent source to chronicle such misdemeanours with a willful intent to destroy age old Indian cultural and religious practices but such instances were actually countless. In many cases, demolished remains of temples, rocks, slabs and broken statues were used for building mosques and other buildings. According to some accounts, the Qutb Minar complex was largely built from the stones of twenty-seven demolished Hindu and Jain temples. It is of common knowledge how Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khalji destroyed Hindu and Buddhist libraries along with thousands of manuscripts at Nalanda and Odantapuri Universities in 1193 CE. Destruction of temples and defacement of idols carried out by Mohammad Ghori in Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh was later expanded by Mamluks, Khaljis and Tughlaqs extending it to Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

2. Invasion of Timur

Turco-Mongol warlord Timur invaded northern India during the regime of Mahmud Shah Tughluq in 1398 CE. On way, he defeated and slaughtered Rajputs at Bhatner (modern Hanumangarh in Rajasthan) which was looted and burned to the ground, and also subdued and killed the Jat peasantry. Just before the battle for Delhi, he executed about 100,000 Hindu captives, Delhi fell easily and Tughlaq fled with his men. For the next several days, a bloody massacre was continued by Timur’s army during which the city was sacked, destroyed and left in ruins. Giving illustrated account of the havoc caused by Timur, historian Irfan Habib wrote:

Large groups of Timur’s soldiers began to enter the city and, like birds of prey, attacked its citizens. The “pagan Hindus” having had the temerity to begin immolating their women and themselves, the three cities of Delhi were put to sack by Timur’s soldiers. Faithless Hindus had gathered in the Congregation Mosque of Old Delhi and Timur’s officers put them ruthlessly to slaughter there on 29 December.

Timur purportedly wrote in his own autobiography that during the 15-day massacre of Delhi, excepting the quarters of the sayyids, the ulama and other Musalmans (Muslims), the whole city was sacked. This clearly imply that Timur had discriminated between the Muslims and non-Muslims while he committed massacre in the city. According to Ruy Gonzales de Clavijo, Timur had employed 90 elephants to carry precious stones looted from his conquest.

3. Mughal Empire

Zahir ud-Din Muhammad alias Babur was a descendant of Timur and Genghis Khan from his father and mother side, respectively, who founded the Mughal Empire as first Emperor (1526-30 CE) in the Indian subcontinent defeating and killing the last Lodhi Sultan at the First battle of Panipat near Delhi. His violent ways were commented upon by his contemporary Guru Nanak, and the Baburnama, his autobiographical work, contain illustrated account of how Hindus, Sikhs and apostates were targeted and killed in immense number, with Muslim camps building “towers of skulls of the infidels” on hillocks. Efforts have been made by some historians to glorify him as having ascetic tendencies in staying away from women yet he is known to have several wives and concubines besides infatuation and keen interest in at least one boy nicknamed Baburi.

Among the most controversial acts of the religious bigotry of Babur which had serious impact on the bilateral relationship and communal harmony of the two communities for centuries, was the demolition of Ram Janmbhumi Temple at Ayodhya in 1528 and the construction of a Babri mosque on the site utilizing the remains of the demolished temple. After a constant conflict and heavy toll of human lives during the last over 150 years, the Supreme Court of India has now paved way for the reconstruction of the Ram Janmbhumi Temple at the site. Ironically enough, many Islamic historians and scholars have recorded slaughters of Hindus, forced conversions in millions, abduction, rape and enslaving of Hindu women and children and destruction of temples with great glee and pride till about 1700 CE. Francois Gautier wrote in his book “Rewriting Indian History” in 1996:

The massacres perpetuated by Muslims in India are unparalleled in history, bigger than the Holocaust of the Jews by the Nazis; or the massacre of the Armenians by the Turks; more extensive even than the slaughter of the South American native populations by the invading Spanish and Portuguese.”

While writing in his memoirs, the ‘Baburnama’, Babur wrote at one place, “…I attacked Chanderi and by the grace of Allah captured it in a few hours. We got the infidels slaughtered and the place which had been Daru’l-Harb (nation of non-muslims) for years was made into a Daru’l-Islam (a muslim nation).”

Babur was followed by Humayun (AD 1530-1556), Akbar (AD 1556-1605), Jahangir (AD 1605-1627), Shah Jahan (AD 1628-1658), Aurangzeb (Alamgir) (AD 1658-1707). Aurangzeb was the last effective ruler and Mughal empire gradually declined after him. During the Mughal period, Akbar and Aurangzeb earned more name and fame for expanding their empire: While Akbar, despite many atrocities on non-Muslims, was relatively moderate and tolerant, Aurangzeb was an orthodox tyrant who committed most excesses and atrocities on Hindus and Sikhs.

Although Akbar has been glorified as a moderate and tolerant Muslim by many historians but has remained a contested figure from many accounts. He started Din-i Elahi in later life for the alleged aim of communal harmony and had four prominent Hindus in his Navratnas but is also true that he had purportedly assumed the title of Ghazi {Islamic warrior against infidels (non-Muslims)}, some of the worst Hindu massacres occurred during his time and constructed the fort Illahabas, following which holy city of Prayagraj since Vedic age was renamed Allahabad. He is also known for patronizing Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi, who favoured strict Sharia rule and that non-Muslims (Kafirs) should be kept away from any positions of significance or power. He is also known to have rewarded Islamic historian Badauni with gold coins for his gesture of declaration to soak his beard with infidel (Hindu) blood. Portuguese Jesuit, Father Monserrate after visiting Akbar’s court wrote in his travelogue: “religious zeal of the Musalmans has destroyed all the idol temples…in place of the Hindu temples, countless tombs and little shrines of Musalmans been erected.

Many facts about the Mughal emperors and their generals which have been suppressed by the leftist historians of the modern India are obnoxious and horrendous and can easily scare any civilized person and fill their minds with aversion. Akbar is considered more secular and moderate emperor yet he allowed slaying of scores of cows to sprinkle their blood onto the walls of the temples (Sir Henry Miers Elliot, The History of India, as Told by its Own Historians: The Muhammadan Period: Volume 5). One of the most notorious and heinous acts of Jehangir was the execution of the Sikh Guru Arjan Dev in prison, his sons were imprisoned and land confiscated. Thus, it was not only Hindus but other non-Muslims too faced religious persecution. Another cruel act of Jahangir was his persecution of Jain community. Having heard about the alleged infidel and superstitious sect of the Seoras (Jains) of Gujarat and their splendid and prosperous temples at Ahmedabad, the emperor reportedly ordered his men to banish them from the country and demolish their temples.

The atrocities of the Shah Jahan are illustrated in the contemporary record called ‘Badshah Nama’, wherein Islamic historian Abdul Hamid Lahori goes on to state: “When Shuja (Shah Jahan) was appointed as governor of Kabul, he carried on a ruthless war in the Hindu territory beyond Indus…The sword of Islam yielded a rich crop of converts….Most of the women (to save their honour) burnt themselves to death. Those captured were distributed among Muslim Mansabdars (Noblemen).” He had also ordered the destruction of Sikh gurudwara in Lahore when the Sikhs led by Guru Hargobind opposed unreasonable restrictions on pantheon and atrocities on non-Muslims.

Aurangzeb was the last effective Mughal emperor as well as the most orthodox and bigot ruler. He was one who had executed his own elder brother Dara Shikoh (accused of being influenced with Hinduism) and imprisoned father Shah Jahan to become ruler with support of hardliner Sunni clergy and generals. His entire regime is full of the gory tales of the persecution and atrocities on Hindus, other non-Muslims, and even Shia and Sufi Muslims including forced conversion and imposition of the rules and practices of orthodox Islamic state, such as sharia and jizya religious tax on non-Muslims, doubling of various taxes and duties on Hindus, frequent executions of non-Muslims and Muslims of non-Sunni sects, and destruction of temples and other worship places. Some of the prominent executions include sham and unfair trial and killing of Maratha Chhatrapati (King) Sambhaji and Sikh Guru Tegh Bahadur employing brutal means.

During his regime, the actions of Aurangzeb led to the killings or conversion of millions of non-Muslims, mainly Hindus. Sadly enough, many historians and Indologists have remained in the denial mode while reporting the truth of bigot Aurangzeb, and, in fact, some of them have even tried to cover up many of his heinous acts in an endeavour to glorify him as an ascetic and saint. Such self-proclaimed champions of religious freedom, while writing history textbooks, even forgot that it was this despot ruler who demolished the most celebrated Hindu holy sites of Mathura and Kashi, and some medieval scholars and travelers hold him responsible for the demolition of Ayodhya Ram Janmbhumi site too. A PEW research report based on Niccolao Manucci, a Venetian writer, doctor and traveler, found him to be responsible for the genocide of about 4.6 million non-Muslim Indians (mostly Hindus). In a raging controversy, the ruling Indian government in 2015 changed the name of Aurangzeb Road in the national capital Delhi to APJ Abdul Kalam Road in an extraordinary move.

The aforesaid three temples are not the only ones demolished at the order of Aurangzeb, there are imperial records and historiographies to vindicate that the iconoclastic frenzy of the bigot ruler led to the destruction of thousands of temples. Among the major worship places, only a few temples had survived his reign and most of the North India was deprived of large temples. He is known to have issued order in 1669 for general demolition of all temples, including the most sacrosanct ones such as Vishvanath Temple in Varanasi, Somnath in Prabhasa and Keshav Rai in Mathura. When Aurangzeb invaded Orissa, he demolished most other temples but spared Puri Jagannath because it was a good source of revenue too for the Mughals. The Temple at Tirupati was spared too for the same reason. In a long list of demolished temples, some other prominent ones are Chintamani Parshvanath Jain temple at Ahmedabad, Siddha Gwali Temple at Gwalior, Gobind Dev Temple at Vrindavan, Someshwara Temple at Mewar, Chausath Yogini Temple at Jabalpur, Ranganatha Swamy Temple in Karnataka, Pandarpur Temple in Maharashtra, and so on. After demolition of temples, mosques were erected at many sites using temple material.

After partition of India, Aurangzeb is a celebrated hero in Pakistan who, according to a Pakistani writer, fought and expanded the domain and frontiers of the Islamic empire. According to some Pakistani academics, he is one of the premodern Muslim heroes in the context of militarism, personal piety, and willingness to accommodate Islamic morality within state goals. Muhammad Iqbal compared him favorably to the prophet Abraham for his warfare against Akbar's Din-i Ilahi and idolatry, and that the life and activities of Aurangzeb constituted the starting point of Muslim nationality in India. In a way, the aforesaid averments only reflect orthodox Islamic hardliners’ approach towards non-Muslims. The approach of the contemporary Regional Sultanates such as Shah Mir dynasty in Kashmir, and Deccan Sultanates of Bijapur, Golkonda, Ahmadnagar, Bidar, Berar, etc. towards non-Muslims, more particularly Hindus, was no better and, in fact, conversion to Islam became easier under them.

Hindu Massacres under Islamic Rule

Although many Indian historians with leftist approach during the British rule and in post-independence period have been kind in glorifying Muslim dynasties particularly Mughal period, downplaying excesses of the era, yet many well documented unsavoury events and massacres of the era are available and listed below:

  • During Delhi Sultan Ghiyas ud din Balban’s regime, about one lakh Rajputs of Mewat were exterminated in a massacre in 1265.
  • Alauddin Khalji ordered the massacre of thirty thousand people of Chittor after besiege and capture of the fort in 1303 and thousands of Rajput women observed Jauhar.
  • Firuz Shah Tuglaq ordered his soldiers to kill about one lakh eighty thousand Hindus in Bengal in 1353.
  • Bahmani Sultanate soldiers massacred about five lakh Hindus in the districts around Vijayanagara during 1365-66.
  • Even before the capture of Delhi in 1398, about one lakh Hindu captives were exterminated under Timur’s order. He referred to himself as the "Sword of Islam" and according to the estimates of some scholars, his military expeditions caused the deaths of about 17 million people across the globe.
  • Under the orders of Emperor Akbar, about fourty-eight thousand Rajputs and Hindu peasants were killed in 1560; the historical event is recorded as Massacre of Garha (now Narsinghpur District in MP).
  • During seize of the Chittorgarh, about thirty thousand non-combatant Hindus were executed by Akbar’s troops and about eight thousand Rajput women immolated themselves (Jauhar).
  • The army of Nader Shah massacred about three lakh people in 1738-40.

The aforesaid massacres/killings are not comprehensive but only an illustrative account of the religious persecution by the Islamic invaders and rulers during the last millennium.

Methods of Persecution Employed

The saga of Islamic persecution and conversion is not a myth or merely a year or decade old story; instead, it has systematically occurred since Islamic invasion and conquest in various parts of the Indian sub-continent for over a millennium. For instance, till about 1,300 years ago, Gandhara was ruled by Hindu kings for centuries with predominantly Hindu and Buddhist population, which broadly corresponds to present-day Northwestern Pakistan and Northeastern Afghanistan. Now less than a thousand Hindus and Sikh are left in Afghanistan in Kabul and other bigger cities. Persecution has not stopped even now as 25 Sikhs were massacred in an attack on Gurudwara in March 2020. In Bangladesh, Hindus were about 22% of the population at the time of partition in 1947 and now only about 7% of them are left. The position of Hindus in Pakistan is even worse and the life of young Hindu and Sikh women in these countries is far worse.

The atrocities on non-Muslims (mainly Hindus) and persecution during the Islamic rule included forced conversion, massacre, violation and enslavement of women and children, demolition and desecration of temples/worship places and destruction of educational institutions and libraries. Many scholars believe that the aforesaid methods of torture and atrocities tantamount to the genocide of the community as it is aimed at wiping out the very identity and existence of the group of people and their ethnic identity by killing, rape, arson, abduction, forced marriages into other religion, mass conversion, destruction of living and worship places, and all other possible deceitful means. According to some estimates, such figures of atrocity and persecution of Hindus during the Islamic rule was about twenty-nine times more than the Jewish genocide figures. The atrocities of Mahmud of Ghazni alone is statistically equated with the Irish genocide, Assyrian genocide, Romani genocide and Wu Hu genocide put together.

Forced conversions have been a unique feature adopted by Islamists in the Indian sub-continent. During many past massacres, including the Noakhali massacre more recently in twentieth century, people were compelled to convert at the blade of a knife. Whoever refused io convert, got his/her head chopped off. Another common feature of the past Islamic invaders and rulers was enforcement of sex slavery and keeping infidels / Hindu women and children in harems to satisfy perverted whims and desires. In even more bizarre and horrendous acts, the Islamic invaders forced Hindus and Sikhs to eat raw meat of their killed wards and boiled them alive in some cases. Needless to mention such occurrences could materialize only as an outcome of extreme bias about a community or race on the basis of misplaced belief or ideology where one set of people feel inherently superior to another set. Ironically, many modern historians and self-proclaimed liberals and seculars have not only ignored these excesses but also tried to glorify such rulers and their generals.

During the centuries of atrocities on Hindus and attempted genocide on them, the common mapping factor among the perpetrators of Islamic and Christian origin has been their outright declaration of Hindus as the infidels, kafirs, black people, coolies, or such other derogatory terms. Particularly during the Islamic period, they were continuously forced to convert or get killed, raped, enslaved, starved, or forced to flee. Many self-esteemed Rajputs had migrated to areas of Nepal under persecution. Abrahamic religions tend to treat everyone not subscribing to their faith as inferior and unworthy of living at times. Perhaps this underlying philosophy of the Islamic invaders allowed them to mistreat Hindus and attack the centres of their culture and religion. Large scale destruction of temples and defacement of the idols of deities has been due to this predatory and avaricious attitude towards Hindus. More than their perpetrators, the Hindus themselves must realize now the atrocities incurred and sacrifices made by their ancestors in the past, just to be alive and live with dignity like a Hindu.

To be continued...

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