Sunday, January 28, 2007

Islam In India

Islam is the second-largest religion in India (after Hinduism - 76.5%), where Muslims number around 174 million (16.4%) Census of India.Govt. site with detailed data from 2001 census [1]. India has the second-largest population of Muslims in the world after Indonesia. Islam first arrived in India through Arab traders who spread the Sufi way of thought. The total emergence of Islam in the region occurred through the Islamic invasion of India, where Islamic rulers took over administration of numerous places within India and which was accompanied by forced conversions. Since its introduction to India, Islam has made religious, artistic, philosophical, culture, social and political contributions to Indian history, heritage and life.

In modern times, the Muslims of India have had a turbulent history within India. After the mass rioting of 1946, Muslim League politicians achieved a purely Islamic state known as Pakistan. In modern times, the Muslim populations of India and Pakistan are roughly even. The President of India, APJ Abdul Kalam, along with 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.


Main article: Muslim conquest in the Indian subcontinent
Contrary to general belief, Islam came to India 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 Indian 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[2] claims the first Arab Muslims settled on the Indian coast in the last part of the 7th century AD. This fact is corroborated, by J. Sturrock in his South Kanara and Madras Districts Manuals[3], and also by Haridas Bhattacharya in cultural Heritage of India Vol. IV.[4]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[5].

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.[6][7][8]

In Malabar the Mappilas may be the first community to come to the fold of Islam because they were more closely connected with the Arabs than others. Intensive missionary activities went on the coast and a number of natives also embraced Islam. These new converts were now added to the pile of 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 [9]

In the 8th century, the province of Sindh was conquered by Syrian Arabs 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.

Conversion Controversy

Considerable controversy exists both in scholary and public opinion about the conversions to Islam typically represented by the following schools of thought:[10]

That muslims sought conversion through jihad or political violence [10]
A related view is that conversions occurred for pragmatic reasons such as social mobility among the Muslim ruling elite [10]
Conversion was a result of the actions of Sufi saints and involved a genuine change of heart [10]
Conversion from the lower castes for social mobility and a rejection of oppressive caste strictures [citation needed]
Was a combination, initially made under duress followed by a genuine change of heart [10]
Embedded within this lies the concept of Islam as a foreign imposition and Hinduism being a natural condition of the natives who resisted, resulting the failure of the project to Islamicize the Indian subcontinent and is highly embroiled with the politics of the partition and communalism in India.[10] Other reasons given for the size of the Muslim expansion are the killings of Hindu's[citation needed], migrations and the influence of Arab traders along the Indian Ocean.[citation needed]

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 spread through violence. [11][12] Sir Jadunath Sarkar contends that 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." [13] In particular the records kept by al-Utbi, Mahmud al-Ghazni's secretary, in the Tarikh-i-Yamini document several episodes of bloody military campaigns. Hindus who converted to Islam however were not completely immune to persecution due to the Muslim Caste System in India established by Ziauddin al-Barani in the Fatawa-i Jahandari. [14], where they were regarded as an "Ajlaf" caste and subjected to discrimination by the "Ashraf" castes[15]

The disputers of the "Conversion by the Sword Theory" point to the presence of the strong Muslim communities found in Southern India, modern day Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Western Burma, Indonesia and Philippines 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 Sword Theory. The legacy of Muslim conquest of South Asia is a hotly debated issue even today. Different population estimates by economic historian Angus Maddison[16] and by Jean-Noël Biraben[17] also show that India's population did not decrease between 1000 and 1500, but in fact increased by about 35 million during that time[dubious — see talk page].

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 traveled through Delhi in the 14th century, one of the previous sultans had been especially brutal and was deeply hated by Delhi's population. His memoirs also indicate that Muslims from the Arab world, from 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.[18].

Sufism and spread of 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, Nizam-ud-din Auliya, Shah Jalal, Amir Khusro 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. Even today Sufi tombs are visited by Hindus and Muslims alike.

Role of Muslims in India's freedom movement

The contribution of Muslim revolutionaries, poets and writers is immense in India's struggle against the British. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Hakim Ajmal Khan and Rafi Ahmed Kidwai are a few of Muslims who devoted their life for this purpose. Muhammad Ashfaq Ullah Khan of Shahjehanpur who conspired and looted the British treasury at Kakori (Lucknow) to cripple the administration and who, when asked for his last will, before execution, desired: No desire is left except one that some one may put a little soil of my motherland in my winding sheet. Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan (popular as Frontier Gandhi), a great nationalist who spent 45 of his 95 years of life in jail for the freedom of India; Barakatullah of Bhopal, one of the founders of the Ghadar party which created a network of anti-British organizations and who died penniless in Germany in l927; Syed Rahmat Shah of the Ghadar party who 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) who planned the Indian Mutiny in Malaya and Burma along with Syed Mujtaba Hussain of Jaunpur and who was hanged In 1917; Vakkom Abdul Khadar of Kerala who participated in "Quit India" struggle in 1942 was hanged ; Umar Subhani, an industrialist and a millionaire of Bombay who provided Gandhi with congress expenses and who ultimately gave his life for the cause of independence. Among Muslim women, Hazrat Mahal, Asghari Begum, Bi Amma contributed heavily in the struggle of freedom from Britishers.

The following is a list of some famous Muslims who fought for a unified India (as opposed to Pakistan): Maulana Azad, Hakeem Ajmal Khan, Tipu Sultan, Hyder Ali, Hasrat Mohani, Professor 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, Viqarul Mulk, Mustsafa Husain, VM Ubaidullah, SR Rahim, Badruddin Tyabjee, and Moulvi Abdul Hamid.

However, Muslims such as Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Maulana Shaukat Ali, Maulana Mohammad Ali, and Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy would lead the Muslim League party to desire a segregated Islamic Republic of Pakistan and, to that effectm instigate massive riots such as Direct Action Day against Hindus which eventually spread outwards into massive anti-Hindu pogroms such as the Noakhali Massacre, as well as retaliatory attacks by Hindus against Muslims in Punjab and the North Western Frontier Province.

Law and politics

Indian Muslims are among the freest in the world to live according to their faith. [citation needed] Muslims in India are Governed by The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937.[19]. it directs the application of Muslim Personal Law to Muslims in a number of different areas mainly related to family law which includes marriage, Mahr(Dower), Divorce, Maintenance, Gifts, Wakf, Wills and Inheritance.[20] The courts generally apply the Hanafi Sunni law, with exceptions made only for those areas where Shia law differed substantially from Sunni practice.

Although the Indian constitution provided equal rights to all citizens irrespective of their religion, Article 44 recommended a Uniform civil code. The attempts by successive political leadership in the country to integrate Indian society under common civil code was strongly resisted and is still viewed by Indian Muslims as an attempt to dilute the cultural identity of the minority group of the country. 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.

Hindu-Muslim Conflict

India maintains a constitutional commitment to secularism and does not distinguish amongst the people on the basis of religious beliefs. However, Hindu-Muslim relations in India has been marred by communal violence. This communal conflict is inherited from the convulsive and turbulent course of history, starting with the Islamic invasion of India. The aftermath of the Partition of India in 1947 saw large scale sectarian strife and bloodshed throughout the nation. Since then India have witnessed occasional bouts of large-scale violence sparked by underlying tensions between sections of its majority Hindu and minority Muslim communities. The conflicts also stem from the ideologies of Hindu Nationalism versus Indian Muslim Nationalism , Islamic Fundamentalism and Islamism prevalent on certain sections of the population.

Violence against Hindus by Muslims took place in the Sindhi riots of 1980 when Muslims in Gujarat burnt Hindus alive [2]. In addition, Islamist attacks on Hindus in Kashmir such as the Wandhama massacre and Kaluchak Massacre contribute to the rising communal tensions in the region. The ethnic cleansing of the Hindu Kashmiri Pandits from the region by the Islamists has worsened the situation. In addition, the Indian military stationed there has been accused by Muslim-majority Pakistan, as well as human rights advocacy groups, of atrocities against the Muslim population of the region. For details see Terrorism in Kashmir.

The sense of communal harmony between Hindus and Muslims n the post partition period has been compromised in the last decade with the demolition of the disputed Babri Mosque in Ayodhya (matter for which in the court following a case in which it is claimed that there was Ram Temple there) . The demolition took place in 1992 and was perpetrated by the Hindu Nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party and organizations like Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh , Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad. This was followed by violence between Hindus and Muslims all over India, especially in Mumbai, with the Bombay Riots where mobs of Hindus, allegedly led by the Hindu nationalist party Shiv Sena, attacked and killed a substantial number of Muslims. The 1993 Mumbai Bombings were perpetrated by the Muslim Mafia don Dawood Ibrahim and the predominantly Muslim D-Company criminal gang in the aftermath of the Bombay Riots.In 2001, a high profile attack on the Indian Parliament by radical Muslims created considerable strain in community relations.

Some of the most violent of such events took place in recent times during the infamous Gujarat riots in which around one thousand people died. The riots were in retaliation to the the Godhra Train Burning in which 50 Hindus belonging to group called the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, who were returning from disputed site of the Babri Mosque were burnt alive at the Godhra railway station.The train burning was a planned act executed by the extremely radicalized Ghanchi Muslims in the region against the Hindu Pilgrims as confirmed by the Gujarat police[3].The commission appointed to investigate this finding alleged that the fire was an accident, but the results were refuted by the High Court in 2006[4]. The Gujarat riots that took place in retaliation for the incident swiftly took the state out of control, with massive killings of Muslims by mobs of Hindus, and corresponding counter-attacks on Hindus by Muslims. Several Hindu Nationalist groups have been accused of direct involvement in the anti-Muslim riots.

Muslim-Hindu conflicts has also been formented due to the mushrooming of radical Muslim organisations like SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India) whose goal is to establilsh Islamic rule in India. Other groups such as Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed have been formenting bias in the local Muslim populace against Hindus. These groups are believed to be responsible for the 11 July 2006 Mumbai train bombings, where nearly 200 people were killed in a terrorist attacks. Such groups also attacked the Indian Parliament in 2001, declared parts of Indian Kashmir to be Pakistani in 1999 (leading to the Kargil War) and have orchestrated numerous other terrorist attacks including constant attacks in Indian Kashmir and bombings in the Indian captial New Delhi. Presently, the meteoric rise of the popularity of Lashkar-e-Toiba among fringe radicals in the Muslim population of Kashmir is regarded as a major problem.Today, with moderate Islamic beliefs such as Sufism and the Hanafi school of thought being under threat from competing understandings of Islam, and with assaults on Muslims in India at the hands of Hindu Nationalist groups, Kashmir's indigenous religious resources of conflict-managementand inter-communal dialogue are less effective in challenging to the politics of religious hatred. In the meanwhile, the toll of innocent Muslims and Hindus at the altar of communal strife continues to mount [5].

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, a region overrun by Islamic Fundamentalists, a Christian convert named Bashir Tantray was killed , allegedly by Militant Islamists in 2006[21].

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.[22].

Muslims in Modern India

A Muslim couple is being wed in India, even as a Hindu man takes his ritual bath in the river.Muslims in India are 13.1% of total population. Like in all minorities, Muslims have played roles in various fields of the country's advancement.

Prominent Indian Muslims include:

Khawaja Abdul Hamid, who in 1935 founded one of the first Indian-owned industries in the colonial era, CIPLA (The Chemical, Industrial & Pharmaceutical Laboratories). In 1939, when Mahatma Gandhi visited CIPLA he wrote that he was "delighted to visit this Indian enterprise". CIPLA today is a pharmaceutical company with a global presence, it's products being sold in over 150 countries worldwide.
There have been three Muslim presidents of India, Dr. Zakir Hussain, Dr Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed and the current president, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
Salim Ali (November 12, 1896 - July 27, 1987) is one of India's best known ornithologists and naturalists. Known as the "Birdman of India", Salim Ali was among the first Indians to conduct systematic bird surveys in India and his books have contributed enormously to understanding and protecting India's birds and also other wildlife.
Azim Premji is the founder of and the highest stake holder in Wipro, one of the leading software service providing companies in India. In 2005, Yusuf Hameed of CIPLA and Azim Premji received one of India's highest civilian awards, the Padma Bhushan for his contributions to the country.
Muslims are also playing pivotal roles in the advertising industry, film industry (Bollywood), modern art, academics, theatre and sports. Some large industries like Wipro Ltd., Wockhardt, Himalaya health care, Hamdard Laboratories and Mirza Tanners are owned by Muslims.

Muslims are proportionally represented in Indian politics. For details on parliamentary representation see Muslims in Parliament of India.

Sachar report controversy

According to a recently published report to government, called the Sachar Report, Muslims are heavily under-represented in different government and social areas [23] [24] [25].

The Sachar report is highly controversial in that it has received substantial criticism, including allegations of bias in the media coverage concerning the report. Indian media expert[26] Dasu Krishnamoorti has criticized the media coverage of the report. He criticizes the claims made in the media that the fault of the plight of the Muslim lays squarely on the Hindus and the Congress Party as politically motivated in favor of the Muslim community and encouraging "emotional segregation [between Muslims and Hindus] that hardly helps Muslims share the Indian miracle"[27].The report stand criticized for misrepresenting data and figures, bias and "misrepresenting inequities"[28]. Leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party have also criticized the report as "distorted, politically motivated and dangerous", also pointing out that proposals of special reservation given to Muslims would harm the country, and criticized the UPA Government's endorsement of the report as a snub to their previous efforts to help the Muslim community[29][30]. BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi said that the the tone and texture of the Sachar Committee "has a striking similarity to the Muslim League of pre-independence era. Unfortunately, the government is irrationally following a policy of blind populism which threatens to divide the nation."[29]

Muslim employment in government sectors (according to the Sachar Report) [31]

Area Muslim %
Total 4.9
PSUs 7.2
IAS, IFS, and IPS 3.2
Railways 4.5
Judiciary 7.8
Health 4.4
Transport 6.5
Home affairs 7.3
Education 6.5

see: List of notable Muslims of independent India

Muslim Institutes

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

Modern Universities and institutes: Jamia Millia Islamia, Hamdard University, Al Ameen Educational Society, Al-Kabir educational society.
Traditional Islamic Universities: Sunni Markaz Kerala (the largest charitable, non governmental, non profit islamic institution in india), Raza Academy, Darul Uloom Deoband, Darul-uloom Nadwatul Ulama .

[edit] Population Statistics
Islam in India


Mughal architecture • Indo-Islamic Architecture

Major figures
Akbar • Maulana Azad

North Indian Muslims • Mappilas • Tamil Muslims
Konkani Muslims • Marathi Muslims • Memons
North East Muslims • Kashmiris • Hyderabadi Muslims
Dawoodi Bohras • Khoja • Nawayath • Meo
Sunni Bohras • Kayamkhani • Bengali Muslims

Islamic Sects
Deobandi • Barelvi• Shia

Muslim culture of Hyderabad

Other Topics
Indian Muslim nationalism • Indian Wahabi movement
Muslim chronicles for Indian history

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Islam is India's largest minority religion, with Muslims officially constituting 16.4% of the country's population, or 174 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%.[6] Even pro Hindutva people say in their reports that the Muslim population has reached 30%.[7]

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) and Lakshadweep (95 %). High concentrations of Muslims are found in the eastern states of Assam (31 %) and West Bengal (25 %), and in the southern state of Kerala (25 %) and Karnataka (12.2%). Muslims are generally more educated, urban, integrated and prosperous in the Western and Southern states of India than in the Northern and Eastern ones[citation needed]; this could be due to partition when the more affluent and educated population migrated over the border[citation needed], to Pakistan in the North and Bangladesh(then East Pakistan) in the East. India has the second largest Muslim population (after Indonesia) and also the third largest Shia Muslim population (after Iran and Pakistan) in the world.[citation needed]

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[32] 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[33].

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.[34]

State Population Percentage
Lakshadweep 57,903 95.4707
Jammu & Kashmir 6,793,240 66.9700
Assam 8,240,611 30.9152
West Bengal 20,240,543 25.2451
Kerala 7,863,842 24.6969
Uttar Pradesh 30,740,158 18.4961
Bihar 13,722,048 16.5329
Jharkhand 3,731,308 13.8474
Karnataka 6,463,127 12.2291
Uttaranchal 1,012,141 11.9225
Delhi 1,623,520 11.7217
Maharashtra 10,270,485 10.6014
Andhra Pradesh 6,986,856 9.1679
Gujarat 4,592,854 9.0641
Manipur 190,939 8.8121
Rajasthan 4,788,227 8.4737
Andaman & Nicobar Islands 29,265 8.2170
Tripura 254,442 7.9533
Daman & Diu 12,281 7.7628
Goa 92,210 6.8422
Madhya Pradesh 3,841,449 6.3655
Pondicherry 59,358 6.0921
Haryana 1,222,916 5.7836
Tamil Nadu 3,470,647 5.5614
Meghalaya 99,169 4.2767
Chandigarh 35,548 3.9470
Dadra & Nagar Haveli 6,524 2.9589
Orissa 761,985 2.0703
Chhattisgarh 409,615 1.9661
Himachal Pradesh 119,512 1.9663
Arunachal Pradesh 20,675 1.8830
Nagaland 35,005 1.7590
Punjab 382,045 1.5684
Sikkim 7,693 1.4224
Mizoram 10,099 1.1365

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

Year Percentage
1961 9.9%
1971 10.4%
1981 10.9%
1991 11.7%
2001 12.4%

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

Year Percentage
1961 10.7%
1971 11.2%
1981 11.4%
1991 12.1%
2001 13.4%

Islamic Traditions in South Asia

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The Jama Masjid, Delhi is one of the largest mosques in the world.A large number of Indian Muslims follow Sunni Barelwi (Sufi) traditions attached to the memory of great Sufi saints. Sufism is a mystical path (tarika) as distinct from 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 ([murid]s) 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. Many Sufis were well known for weaving music, dance, intoxicants, and local folktales into their songs and lectures. 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 has 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'anand 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 Indian branch of the party had about 3,000 active members and 40,000 sympathizers in the mid-1980s. 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.

Indo Islamic art and architecture

The Masjid-i-Jahan NumaIndian 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 brilliantly glazed tiles.

Taj Mahal mosque or masjidIn 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 was further perfected by them from the architectural styles of the post-Roman period. The Muslims used the 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 of 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.

The Delhi Fort, also known as the Red Fort, is one of the popular tourist destinations in Delhi.In simple terms the Islamic architecture in India can be divided into 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 the prayers is an invariable part of a mosque. Large mosques where the faithful assemble for the Friday prayers are called the Jama Masjids.

The Taj MahalTombs: 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 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 Holy Koran 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). (Courtesy:

Post - Independence

The Muslims of India have generally been treated well although there have been many anti-Muslim riots.

Indian Muslim Students
Muslims in India
Muslims in India Census 2001 Informational website on Indian Muslims
South Asian Islam Links
Islam, Muslim and Politics in India
IndianMuslimsOrg One-start portal for IndianMuslims

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

More Germans Embracing Islam

A new Interior Ministry-sponsored study on Muslim life in Germany has found a noticeable surge in the number of Germans embracing Islam, according to the weekly Der Spiegel.According to the study, conducted by the Islam-Archive Central Institute, based in the western town of Soest, the number of conversions between July 2004 and June 2005 reached 4,000, four times as many as in the prior period.Salim Abdullah who heads the institute said that most of those who converted to Islam have been women and well-educated, stressing an interesting point that each time the German media launches a new campaign aimed at defaming Muslims, more people convert to Islam.Mohammad Herzog, a Berlin-based Muslim leader, couldn’t cite a particular reason behind such increase in the number of Muslim converts, but he said that many of those who newly embraced Islam have been former devout Christians who had cast doubts about their faith.There are approximately 3.5 million Muslims in Germany, the large majority of which is of Turkish and Yugoslavian origin.Among the organizations that represent German Muslims, the Central Council on Muslims and the Islamic Council.Like other Muslim communities in the West, Muslims living in Germany continue to suffer anti-Muslim discrimination that surged noticeably following September 11 attacks on the United States.