by Rajiv Varma
American writer, historian, and philosopher Will Durant has written in his The Story of Civilization series, book two, “India and Her Neighbors” (1935) that the Mohammedan conquest of India was probably the bloodiest story in history.
India before the advent of Islamic imperialism was not exactly a zone of peace. There were plenty of wars fought by Hindu princes. But in all their wars, the Hindus had observed some time-honoured conventions sanctioned by the shãstras, the Hindu belief in the basic laws and principles of civil and social conduct. The Brahmins and the Bhikshus were rarely molested. The cows were not killed. In fact, animals were not eaten at all. The temples were not destroyed and looted. The chastity of women was never violated and they freely walked bare-chested without reports of harassment. The non-combatants were not killed or captured. A human habitation was not attacked unless it was a fort. The civil population was not plundered. War booty was an unknown item in the calculations of conquerors. The martial classes who clashed, mostly in open spaces, had a code of honour. Sacrifice of honour for victory or material gain was deemed as worse than death.
Islamic imperialism came with a different code – the Sunnah of the Prophet. It required its warriors to fall upon the helpless civil population after a decisive victory had been won on the battlefield. It required them to sack and burn down villages and towns after the defenders had died fighting or had fled. The cows, the Brahmins, and the Bhikshus invited their special attention in mass murders of non-combatants. The temples and monasteries were their special targets in an orgy of pillage and arson. Those whom they did not kill, they captured and sold as slaves. The magnitude of the booty looted even from the bodies of the dead, was a measure of the success of a military mission. And they did all this as mujãhids (holy warriors) and ghãzîs (kãfir-killers) in the service of Allah and his Last Prophet.
Hindus found it very hard to understand the psychology of this new invader. For the first time in their history, Hindus were witnessing a scene which was described by KãnhaDade Prabandha (1456 AD) in the following words: The conquering army burnt villages, devastated the land, plundered people’s wealth, took Brahmins and children and women of all classes captive, flogged with thongs of raw hide, carried a moving prison with it, and converted the prisoners into obsequious Turks. That was written in remembrance of Alauddin Khalji’s invasion of Gujarat in the year 1298 AD. But the gruesome game had started three centuries earlier when Mahmud Ghaznavi had vowed to invade India every year in order to destroy idolatry, kill the kãfirs, capture prisoners of war, and plunder vast wealth for which India was well-known.
MAHMUD GHAZNAVI AND SON
In 1000 AD Mahmud defeated Raja Jaipal, a scion of the Hindu Shahiya dynasty of Kabul. This dynasty had been for long the doorkeeper of India in the Northwest. Mahmud collected 250,000 dinãrs as indemnity. That perhaps was normal business of an empire builder. But in 1004 AD he stormed Bhatiya and plundered the place. He stayed there for some time to convert the Hindus to Islam with the help of mullahs he had brought with him. In 1008 AD he captured Nagarkot (Kangra). The loot amounted to 70,000,000 dirhams in coins and 700,400 mans of gold and silver, besides plenty of precious stones and embroidered cloths.
In 1011 AD he plundered Thanesar which was undefended, destroyed many temples, and broke a large number of idols. The chief idol, that of Chakraswamin, was taken to Ghazni and thrown into the public square for defilement under the feet of the faithful. According to Tãrîkh-i-Yamînî of Utbi, Mahmud’s secretary, the blood of the infidels flowed so copiously [at Thanesar] that the stream was discoloured, notwithstanding its purity, and people were unable to drink it. The Sultãn returned with plunder which is impossible to count. Praise he to Allah for the honour he bestows on Islãm and Muslims.
The conquered Empire of Mahmud Ghazni (1027 AD)
In 1013 AD Mahmud advanced against Nandana where the Shahiya king, Anandapal, had established his new capital. The Hindus fought very hard but lost. Again, the temples were destroyed, and innocent citizens slaughtered. Utbi provides an account of the plunder and the prisoners of war: The Sultãn returned in the rear of immense booty, and slaves were so plentiful that they became very cheap and men of respectability in their native land were degraded by becoming slaves of common shopkeepers. But this is the goodness of Allah, who bestows honour on his own religion and degrades infidelity.
The road was now clear for an assault on the heartland of Hindustan. In December 1018 AD Mahmud crossed the Yamuna, collected 1,000,000 dirhams from Baran (Bulandshahar), and marched to Mahaban in Mathura district. Utbi records: The infidels deserted the fort and tried to cross the foaming river but many of them were slain, taken or drowned. Nearly fifty thousand men were killed. Mathura was the next victim. Mahmud seized five gold idols weighing 89,300 miskals and 200 silver idols. According to Utbi, the Sultãn gave orders that all the temples should be burnt with naptha and fire, and levelled with the ground. The pillage of the city continued for 20 days.
Mahmud now turned towards Kanauj which had been the seat of several Hindu dynasties. Utbi continues: In Kanauj there were nearly ten thousand temples. Many of the inhabitants of the place fled in consequence of witnessing the fate of their deaf and dumb idols. Those who did not fly were put to death. The Sultãn gave his soldiers leave to plunder and take prisoners. The Brahmins of Munj, which was attacked next, fought to the last man after throwing their wives and children into fire. The fate of Asi was sealed when its ruler took fright and fled. According to Utbi, the Sultãn ordered that his five forts should be demolished from their foundations, the inhabitants buried in their ruins, and the soldiers of the garrison plundered, slain and captured.
Shrawa, the next important place to be invaded, met the same fate. Utbi concludes: The Muslims paid no regard to the booty till they had satiated themselves with the slaughter of the infidels and worshippers of sun and fire. The friends of Allah searched the bodies of the slain for three days in order to obtain booty. The booty amounted in gold and silver, rubies and pearls nearly to three hundred thousand dirhams, and the number of prisoners may be conceived from the fact that each was sold for two to ten dirhams. These were afterwards taken to Ghazni and merchants came from distant cities to purchase them, so that the countries of Mawaraun-Nahr, Iraq and Khurasan were filled with them, and the fair and the dark, the rich and the poor, were commingled in one common slavery.
Mahmud’s sack of Somnath is too well-known to be retold here. What needs emphasising is that the fragments of the famous ivaliñga were carried to Ghazni. Some of them were turned into steps of the Jama Masjid in that city. The rest were sent to Mecca, Medina, and Baghdad to be desecrated in the same manner.
Mahmud’s son Masud tried to follow in the footsteps of his father. In 1037 AD he succeeded in sacking the fort of Hansi which was defended very bravely by the Hindus. The Tãrîkh-us-Subuktigîn records: The Brahmins and other high ranking men were slain, and their women and children were carried away captive, and all the treasure which was found was distributed among the army. Masud could not repeat the performance due to his preoccupations elsewhere.
MUHAMMAD GHURI AND HIS LIEUTENANTS
Invasion of India by Islamic imperialism was renewed by Muhmmad Ghuri in the last quarter of the 12th century. After Prithiviraj Chauhan had been defeated in 1192 AD, Ghuri took Ajmer by assault. According the Tãj-ul-Mãsîr of Hasan Nizami, while the Sultan remained at Ajmer, he destroyed the pillars and foundations of the idol temples and built in their stead mosques and colleges and precepts of Islãm, and the customs of the law were divulged and established.
Next year he defeated Jayachandra of Kanauj. A general massacre, rapine, and pillage followed. The Gahadvad treasuries at Asni and Varanasi were plundered. Hasan Nizami rejoices that in Benares which is the centre of the country of Hind, they destroyed one thousand temples and raised mosques on their foundations. According to Kãmil-ut-Tawãrîkh of Ibn Asir, the slaughter of Hindus (at Varanasi) was immense; none were spared except women and children, and the carnage of men went on until the earth was weary. The women and children were spared so that they could be enslaved and sold all over the Islamic world. It may be added that the Buddhist complex at Sarnath was sacked at this time, and the Bhikshus were slaughtered.
The conquest of North India by Mohammed Ghori and his lieutenants (1192 ff.); and under the Delhi Sultanate (1206-1526).
Ghuri’s lieutenant Qutbuddin Aibak was also busy meanwhile. Hasan Nizami writes that after the suppression of a Hindu revolt at Kol (Aligarh) in 1193 AD, Aibak raised three bastions as high as heaven with their heads, and their carcases became food for beasts of prey. The tract was freed from idols and idol-worship and the foundations of infidelism were destroyed. In 1194 AD Aibak destroyed 27 Hindu temples at Delhi and built the Quwwat-ul-Islãm mosque with their debris. According to Nizami, Aibak adorned it with the stones and gold obtained from the temples which had been demolished by elephants. In 1195 AD the Mher tribe of Ajmer rose in revolt, and the Chaulukyas of Gujarat came to their assistance. Aibak had to invite re-inforcements from Ghazni before he could meet the challenge. In 1196 AD he advanced against Anahilwar Patan, the capital of Gujarat. Nizami writes that after Raja Karan was defeated and forced to flee, fifty thousand infidels were despatched to hell by the sword and more than twenty thousand slaves, and cattle beyond all calculation fell into the hands of the victors. The city was sacked, its temples demolished, and its palaces plundered. On his return to Ajmer, Aibak destroyed the Sanskrit College of Visaladeva, and laid the foundations of a mosque which came to be known as ADhãî Din kã JhoMpaDã. Conquest of Kalinjar in 1202 AD was Aibak’s crowning achievement. Nizami concludes: The temples were converted into mosques, fifty thousand men came under the collar of slavery and the plain became black as pitch with Hindus.
A free-lance adventurer, Muhammad Bakhtyar Khalji, was moving further east. In 1200 AD he sacked the undefended university town of Odantpuri in Bihar and massacred the Buddhist monks in the monasteries. In 1202 AD he took Nadiya by surprise. Badauni records in his Muntakhãb-ut-Tawãrîkh that property and booty beyond computation fell into the hands of the Muslims and Muhammad Bakhtyar having destroyed the places of worship and idol temples of the infidels founded mosques and Khanqahs.
THE SLAVE (MAMLUK) SULTANS
Shamsuddin Iltutmish who succeeded Aibak at Delhi invaded Malwa in 1234 AD. He destroyed an ancient temple at Vidisha. Badauni reports: Having destroyed the idol temple of Ujjain which had been built six hundred years previously, and was called Mahakal, he levelled it to its foundations, and threw down the image of Rai Vikramajit from whom the Hindus reckon their era, and brought certain images of cast molten brass and placed them on the ground in front of the doors of mosques of old Delhi, and ordered the people of trample them under foot.
Muslim power in India suffered a serious setback after Iltutmish. Balban had to battle against a revival of Hindu power. The Katehar Rajputs of what came to be known as Rohilkhand in later history, had so far refused to submit to Islamic imperialism. Balban led an expedition across the Ganges in 1254 AD. According to Badauni, in two days after leaving Delhi, he arrived in the midst of the territory of Katihar and put to death every male, even those of eight years of age, and bound the women. But in spite of such wanton cruelty, Muslim power continued to decline till the Khaljis revived it after 1290 AD.
Jalaluddin Khalji led an expedition to Ranthambhor in 1291 AD. On the way he destroyed Hindu temples at Jhain. The broken idols were sent to Delhi to be spread before the gates of the Jama Masjid. His nephew Alauddin led an expedition to Vidisha in 1292 AD. According to Badauni, Alauddin brought much booty to the Sultan and the idol which was the object of worship of the Hindus, he caused to be cast in front of the Badaun gate to be trampled upon by the people. The services of Alauddin were highly appreciated, the jagir of Oudh also was added to his other estates.
[The typical romantisized art in India in which muslims repeatedly depict their mughal leaders to convince India that muslims contributed with everything they have, and without Islam India would be nothing. In reality, it was not the British who robbed India blind. It was the muslim leaders who looted everything and took possession of the enormous wealth in India, while destroying as much as they could to eradicate Hindu identity]
Alauddin became Sultan in 1296 AD after murdering his uncle and father-in-law, Jalaluddin. In 1298 AD he equipped an expedition to Gujarat under his generals Ulugh Khan and Nusrat Khan. In an earlier chapter I have already quoted Tãrîkh-I-Wassãf on the achievements of this expedition. The invaders plundered the ports of Surat and Cambay. The temple of Somnath, which had been rebuilt by the Hindus, was plundered and the idol taken to Delhi for being trodden upon by the Muslims. The whole region was subjected to fire and sword, and Hindus were slaughtered en masse. Kamala Devi, the queen of Gujarat, was captured along with the royal treasury, brought to Delhi and forced into Alauddin’s harem. The doings of the Malik Naib during his expedition to South India in 1310-1311 AD have already been described.
Muslim power again suffered a setback after the death of Alauddin Khalji in 1316 AD. But it was soon revived by the Tughlaqs. By now most of the famous temples over the length and breadth of the Islamic empire in India had been demolished, except in Orissa and Rajasthan which had retained their independence. By now most of the rich treasuries had been plundered and shared between the Islamic state and its swordsmen. Firuz Shah Tughlaq led an expedition to Orissa in 1360 AD. He destroyed the temple of Jagannath at Puri, and desecrated many other Hindu shrines. According to Sîrat-i-Fîrûz Shãhî which he himself wrote or dictated, Allah who is the only true God and has no other emanation, endowed the king of Islãm with the strength to destroy this ancient shrine on the eastern sea-coast and to plunge it into the sea, and after its destruction he ordered the image of Jagannãth to be perforated, and disgraced it by casting it down on the ground. They dug out other idols which were worshipped by the polytheists in the kingdom of Jãjnagar and overthrew them as they did the image of Jagannãth, for being laid in front of the mosques along the path of the Sunnis and the way of the musallis (Muslim congregation for namãz) and stretched them in front of the portals of every mosque, so that the body and sides of the images might be trampled at the time of ascent and descent, entrance and exit, by the shoes on the feet of the Muslims.
After the sack of the temples in Orissa, Firuz Shah Tughlaq attacked an island on the sea-coast where nearly 100,000 men of Jãjnagar had taken refuge with their women, children, kinsmen and relations. The swordsmen of Islam turned the island into a basin of blood by the massacre of the unbelievers. A worse fate overtook the Hindu women. Sîrat-i-Fîrûz Shãhî records: Women with babies and pregnant ladies were haltered, manacled, fettered and enchained, and pressed as slaves into service in the house of every soldier.
Still more horrible scenes were enacted by Firuz Shah Tughlaq at Nagarkot (Kangra) where he sacked the shrine of Jvalamukhi. Firishta records that the Sultan broke the idols of Jvãlãmukhî, mixed their fragments with the flesh of cows and hung them in nosebags round the necks of Brahmins. He sent the principal idol as trophy to Medina.
The climax came during the invasion of Timur in 1399 AD. He starts by quoting the Quran in his Tuzk-i-Timûrî: O Prophet, make war upon the infidels and unbelievers, and treat them severely. He continues: My great object in invading Hindustan had been to wage a religious war against the infidel Hindus [so that] the army of Islam might gain something by plundering the wealth and valuables of the Hindus.
To start with he stormed the fort of Kator on the border of Kashmir. He ordered his soldiers to kill all the men, to make prisoners of women and children, and to plunder and lay waste all their property. Next, he directed towers to be built on the mountain of the skulls of those obstinate unbelievers. Soon after, he laid siege to Bhatnir defended by Rajputs. They surrendered after some fight, and were pardoned. But Islam did not bind Timur to keep his word given to the unbelievers. His Tuzk-i-Timûrî records: In a short space of time all the people in the fort were put to the sword, and in the course of one hour the heads of 10,000 infidels were cut off. The sword of Islam was washed in the blood of the infidels, and all the goods and effects, the treasure and the grain which for many a long year had been stored in the fort became the spoil of my soldiers. They set fire to the houses and reduced them to ashes, and they razed the buildings and the fort to the ground.
The Italian painter Andrea Celesti’s “Timur and Bayezid” table, 1700. (Prussian palaces and Berlin-Brandenburg Gardens Foundation).
At Sarsuti, the next city to be sacked, all these infidel Hindus were slain, their wives and children were made prisoners and their property and goods became the spoil of the victors. Timur was now moving through Haryana, the land of the Jats. He directed his soldiers to plunder and destroy and kill every one whom they met. And so the soldiers plundered every village, killed the men, and carried a number of Hindu prisoners, both male and female. Loni which was captured before he arrived at Delhi was predominantly a Hindu town. But some Muslim inhabitants were also taken prisoners. Timur ordered that the Musulman prisoners should be separated and saved, but the infidels should all be despatched to hell with the proselytising sword.
By now Timur had captured 100,000 Hindus. As he prepared for battle against the Tughlaq army after crossing the Yamuna, his Amirs advised him that on the great day of battle these 100,000 prisoners could not be left with the baggage, and that it would be entirely opposed to the rules of war to set these idolators and enemies of Islam at liberty. Therefore, no other course remained but that of making them all food for the sword. Tuzk-i-Timûrî continues: I proclaimed throughout the camp that every man who had infidel prisoners should put them to death, and whoever neglected to do so should himself be executed and his property given to the informer. When this order became known to the ghãzîs of Islam, they drew their swords and put their prisoners to death. One hundred thousand infidels, impious idolators, were on that day slain. Maulana Nasiruddin Umar, a counsellor and man of learning, who, in all his life, had never killed a sparrow, now, in execution of my order, slew with his sword fifteen idolatrous Hindus, who were his captives.
Timur entertaining himself with public beheadings [unknown date]. Paul Rezeanu: Constantin Lecca, Editura Arcade, Bucuresti, 2005.
The Tughlaq army was defeated in the battle that ensued next day. Timur entered Delhi and learnt that a great number of Hindus with their wives and children, and goods and valuables, had come into the city from all the country round. He directed his soldiers to seize these Hindus and their property. Tuzk-i-Timûrî concludes: Many of them (Hindus) drew their swords and resisted. The flames of strife were thus lighted and spread through the whole city from Jahãnpanah and Siri to Old Delhi, burning up all it reached. The Hindus set fire to their houses with their own hands, burned their wives and children in them and rushed into the fight and were killed. On that day, Thursday, and all the night of Friday, nearly 15,000 Turks were engaged in slaying, plundering and destroying. When morning broke on Friday, all my army went off to the city and thought of nothing but killing, plundering and making prisoners. The following day, Saturday the 17th, all passed in the same way, and the spoil was so great that each man secured from fifty to a hundred prisoners, men, women, and children. There was no man who took less than twenty. The other booty was immense in rubies, diamonds, garnets, pearls, and other gems and jewels; ashrafis, tankas of gold and silver of the celebrated Alãi coinage: vessels of gold and silver; and brocades and silks of great value. Gold and silver ornaments of Hindu women were obtained in such quantities as to exceed all account. Excepting the quarter of the Saiyids, the ulama and the other Musulmãns, the whole city was sacked.
RE-WRITING HISTORY TO HIDE ISLAMIC ATROCITIES
For quite some time, the All India Radio has been presenting a programme in Hindi – Itihãsa Ke Jharokhe Se (Window on History). The refrain is that medieval India under Muslim rule was a period of peace and amity between Hindus and Muslims, and that Muslim rulers, particularly Aurangzeb, went out of their way to be kind and considerate to the Hindus. The insinuation is that the Hindu-Muslim strife was a creation of the British imperialists whose nefarious game is now being continued by Hindu communalists.
Muslim historians and Hindu nationals influenced by sugar-coated mughal history has convinced the population that the Hindu-Muslim strife was a creation of the “British imperialists” 800 years after Islamic occupation.
The evidence cited by the speakers in this AIR programme is always an exercise in suppressio veri suggestio falsi. For instance, Aurangzeb’s petty donations to 2-3 Hindu temples patronized by some pet Hindu courtiers, are played up with great fanfare. But his systematic demolition of thousands of Hindu temples and defilement of countless images of Gods and Goddesses, throughout his long reign, is never mentioned. Such pitiable attempts at pitting molehills of munificence against mountains of malevolence, go against all sense of proportion in judging a whole period of Indian history. It is also a very sad spectacle of the slave mentality which was imbibed by a certain section of Hindu intelligentsia during the long spell of Islamic imperialism in India: The master has a god-given right to kick his slave a hundred times a day. But the master deserves gratitude from the slave if the former smiles on the latter once in a blue moon. It is understandable if an apologist of Islam sings the glories of the Islamic empire in India. But for a Hindu to participate in this programme is the limit of self-abasement. No amount of swearing by Secularism can cover up the sin.
One may very well ask the purveyors of this puerile propaganda that if the record of Islam in medieval India was so bright and blameless, where is the need for this daily ritual of whitewashing it. Hindu heroes like Chandragupta Maurya, Samudragupta, Harihar, Bukka, Maharana Pratap, and Shivaji, to name only a few of the notables, have never needed any face-lift. Why does the monstrous mien of an Alauddin Khalji, a Firuz Shah Tughlaq, a Sikandar Lodi, and an Aurangzeb, to name only the most notorious, pop out so soon from the thickest coat of cosmetics?
The answer is provided by the Muslim historians of medieval India. They painted their heroes in the indelible dyes of Islamic ideology. They did not anticipate the day when Islamic imperialism in India will become only a painful memory of the past. They did not visualise that the record of Islam in India will one day be weighed on the scales of human values. Now it is too late for trying to salvage Islam in medieval India from it blood-soaked history. The orthodox Muslim historians are honest when they state that the medieval Muslim monarchs were only carrying out the commandments of Islam when they massacred, captured, enslaved, and violated Hindu men, women and children; desecrated, demolished, and destroyed Hindu places of worship; and dispossessed the Hindus of all their wealth. The Aligarh historians and their secularist patrons are only trying to prop up imposters in place of real and living characters who played life-size roles in history.
I have already related what some of the sultans were doing to the Hindus from their imperial seat at Delhi. The provincial Muslim satraps who became independent whenever Delhi had a weak Muslim monarch, behaved no better.
THE PROVINCIAL MUSLIM SATRAPS
In 1391 AD the Muslims of Gujarat complained to Nasiruddin Muhammad, the Tughlak Sultan of Delhi, that the local governor, Farhat-ul-Mulk, was practising tolerance towards the Hindus. The Sultan immediately appointed Muzaffar Khan as the new governor. He became independent after the death of the Delhi Sultan and assumed the title of Muzaffar Shah in 1392 AD. Next year he led an expedition to Somnath and sacked the temple which the Hindus had built once again. He killed many Hindus to chastise them for this impudence, and raised a mosque on the site of the ancient temple. The Hindus, however, restarted restoring the temple soon after. In 1401 AD Muzaffar came back with a huge army. He again killed many Hindus, demolished the temple once more, and erected another mosque. Muzaffar was succeeded by his grandson, Ahmad Shah, in 1411 AD. Three years later Ahmad appointed a special dãrogah to destroy all temples throughout Gujarat. In 1415 AD Ahmad invaded Sidhpur where he destroyed the images in Rudramahalaya, and converted the grand temple into a mosque. Sidhpur was renamed Sayyadpur.
Mahmud Begrha who became the Sultan of Gujarat in 1458 AD was the worst fanatic of this dynasty. One of his vassals was the Mandalika of Junagadh who had never withheld the regular tribute. Yet in 1469 AD Mahmud invaded Junagadh. In reply to the Mandalika’s protests, Mahmud said that he was not interested in money as much as in the spread of Islam. The Mandalika was forcibly converted to Islam and Junagadh was renamed Mustafabad. In 1472 AD Mahmud attacked Dwarka, destroyed the local temples, and plundered the city. Raja Jayasingh, the ruler of Champaner, and his minister were murdered by Mahmud in cold blood for refusing to embrace Islam after they had been defeated and their country pillaged and plundered. Champaner was renamed Mahmudabad.
Mahmud Khalji of Malwa (1436-69 AD) also destroyed Hindu temples and built mosques on their sites. He heaped many more insults on the Hindus. Ilyas Shah of Bengal (1339-1379 AD) invaded Nepal and destroyed the temple of Svayambhunath at Kathmandu. He also invaded Orissa, demolished many temples, and plundered many places. The Bahmani sultans of Gulbarga and Bidar considered it meritorious to kill a hundred thousand Hindu men, women, and children every year. They demolished and desecrated temples all over South India.
The scene shifted once mere to Delhi after Babur came out victorious against the Lodis and the Rajputs. The founder of the Mughal empire has received much acclaim from Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru for his fortitude in adversity, his daring against heavy odds, his swimming across many rivers, his love of flowers and fruits, and so on so forth. But his face, presented by himself in his Tuzuk-i-Bãburî, suffers irreparable damage if it is denuded of the rich hues of horrible cruelties in which he habitually indulged. The lurid details he provides of his repeated massacres of the infidels, leave no doubt that he was mighty proud of his performance. He was particularly fond of raising higher and higher towers of Hindu heads cut off during and after every battle he fought with them. He loved to sit in his royal tent to watch this spectacle. The prisoners were brought before him and butchered by his brave swordsmen.
Romantisized portrait of the immensely cruel Babur.
On one occasion, the ground flowed with so much blood and became so full of quivering carcases that his tent had to be moved thrice to a higher level. He lost no opportunity of capturing prisoners of war and amassing plunder. In the dynasty founded by him it was incumbent upon every king that he should style himself a Ghãzî, that is, slayer of infidels. When he broke vessels of wine on the eve of his battle with Rana Sangram Singh, he proclaimed that he would smash idols in a similar manner. And he destroyed temples wherever he saw them.
SHER SHAH SUR
Sher Shah Sur’s name is associated in our textbooks with the Grand Trunk Road from Peshawar to Dacca, with caravanserais, and several other schemes of public welfare. It is true that he was not a habitual persecutor of Hindus before he became the emperor at Delhi. But he did not betray Islam when he became the supreme ruler. The test came at Raisen in 1543 AD. Shaykh Nurul Haq records in Zubdat-ul-Tawãrîkh as follows:
In the year 950 H., Puranmal held occupation of the fort of Raisen. He had 1000 women in his harem and amongst them several Musulmanis whom he made to dance before him. Sher Khan with Musulman indignation resolved to conquer the fort. After he had been some time engaged in investing it, an accommodation was proposed and it was finally agreed that Puranmal with his family and children and 4000 Rajputs of note should be allowed to leave the fort unmolested. Several men learned in the law (of Islam) gave it as their opinion that they should all be slain, notwithstanding the solemn engagement which had been entered into. Consequently, the whole army, with the elephants, surrounded Puranmal’s encampment. The Rajputs fought with desperate bravery and after killing their women and children and burning them, they rushed to battle and were annihilated to a man.
Humayun had hardly any time free from troubles to devote to the service of Islam. But his son, Akbar, made quite a good start as a ghãzî. He stabbed the half-dead Himu with his sword after the Second Battle of Panipat. The ritual was then followed by many more brave warriors of Islam led by Bairam Khan who drove their swords in the dead body. In 1568 AD Akbar ordered a general massacre at Chittor after the fort had fallen.
Abul Fazl records in his Akbar-Nãma as follows. There were 8,000 fighting Rajputs collected in the fortress, but there were more than 40,000 peasants who took part in watching and serving. From early dawn till midday the bodies of those ill-starred men were consumed by the majesty of the great warrior. Nearly 30,000 men were killed when Sultan Alauddin (Khalji) took the fort after six months and seven days, the peasantry were not put to death as they had not engaged in fighting. But on this occasion they had shown great zeal and activity. Their excuses after the emergence of victory were of no avail, and orders were given for a general massacre. Akbar thus improved on the record of Alauddin Khalji. Watching the war and serving the warriors were re-interpreted as acts of war! To top it all, Akbar travelled post-haste to Ajmer where he offered profuse thanks to Allah and the Prophet, and his (Akbar’s) patron saint, Muinuddin Chishti, and issued a Fathnãma in which many appropriate verses of the Quran were cited in order to prove that he had followed faithfully in the footsteps of the Prophet.
Jahangir was primarily a drunkard and a sadist scoundrel. He was too indolent to keep his promise, given to Nawab Murtaza Khan at the time of his accession, that he would uphold the Shariat. He was too much devoted to women and the wine-cup to care much for Allah and the Prophet. But he encouraged conversions to Islam by giving daily allowances to the converts.
In the very first year of his reign, he tortured Guru Arjun Dev to death. His contempt for Hindus comes out clearly in his Tuzuk-i-Jahãngîrî: A Hindu named Arjun lived in Govindwal on the bank of river Beas in the garb of a saint and in ostentation. From all sides cowboys and idiots became his fast followers. The business had flourished for three or four generations. For a long time it had been in my mind to put a stop to this dukãn-e-bãtil (mart of falsehood) or to bring him into the fold of Islam. According to other accounts, he asked the Guru to include some sûrahs of the Quran in the Ãdi Grantha, which the Guru refused to do. In the eighth year of his reign, he destroyed the temple of Bhagwat at Ajmer. He persecuted the Jains in Gujarat, and ordered that Jain monks should not be seen in his kingdom on pain of death. Finally, he sent Murtaza Khan to Kangra for reducing that city of temples. The siege lasted for 20 months at the end of which he himself went to Kangra for slaughtering cows in that sacred place of Hindus, and building a mosque where none had existed before.
The pendulum started swinging towards the true spirit of Islam at the very start of Shah Jahan’s reign in 1628 AD. Its outer symbol was the reappearance of the beard on the face of the emperor. Abdul Hamid Lahori records in his Bãdshãhnãma: It had been brought to the notice of His Majesty that during the late reign many idol temples had been begun, but remained unfinished at Benares, the great stronghold of infidelism. The infidels were now desirous of completing them. His Majesty, the defender of the faith, gave orders that at Benares, and throughout all his dominions in every place, all temples that had been begun should be cast down. It was now reported from the province of Allahabad that 76 temples had been destroyed in the district of Benares. That was in 1633 AD.
In 1635 AD, Shah Jahan’s soldiers captured some ladies of the royal Bundela family after Jujhar Singh and his sons failed to kill them in the time-honoured Rajput tradition. In the words of Jadunath Sarkar, mothers and daughters of kings, they were robbed of their religion and forced to lead the infamous life of the Mughal harem. Shah Jahan himself made a triumphal entry into Orchha, the capital of the Bundelas, demolished the lofty and massive temple of Bir Singh Dev, and raised a mosque in its place. Two sons and one grandson of Jujhar Singh who were of tender age, were made Musalmans. Another son of Jujhar Singh, Udaybhan, and a minister, Shyam Dawa, had fled to Golconda where they were captured by Qutbul-Mulk and sent to Shah Jahan. According to Bãdshãhnãma again, Udaybhan and Shyam Dawa, who were of full age, were offered the alternative of Islam or death. They chose the latter and were sent to hell.
With the coming of Aurangzeb, the policy of sulah-i-kul (peace with all) initiated by Akbar in the later part of his reign suffered a complete reversal. Aurangzeb had started his career as a but-shikan (iconoclast) 13 years before he ascended the throne at Delhi. According to Mirãt-i-Ahmadî, the temple of Chintaman situated close to Sarashpur (Gujarat) and built by Sitaldas jeweller was converted into a mosque named Quwwat-ul-Islãm (might of Islam) by order of Prince Aurangzeb in 1645 AD. A cow was slaughtered to solemnize the ceremony. Three years after he became king, he sent Mir Jumla on an expedition to Cooch Bihar. Mir Jumla demolished all temples in that city and erected mosques in their stead. The general himself wielded a battle-axe to break the image of Narayana.
Sculpture depicts Mati Das, a Hindu Brahman companion of Tegh Bahadur, sawn into pieces after he refused to convert to Islam in Aurangzeb’s court.
In 1665 AD, it was reported to Aurangzeb that the temples he had demolished in Gujarat during his viceroyalty had been rebuilt by the Hindus. He immediately issued a farmãn to the governor of Gujarat which said: In Ahmedabad and other parganas of Gujarat in the days before my accession temples were destroyed by my order. They have been repaired and idol-worship resumed. Carry out the former order.
In 1666 AD, he ordered the faujdãr of Mathura to remove a stone railing which had been presented by Dara Shukoh to the temples of Keshav Rai. He explained: In the Muslim faith it is a sin even to look at a temple and this Dara had restored a railing in a temple! A general policy towards Hindu temples was proclaimed in April 1669. Maasir-i-Ãlamgîrî records:
On the 17th of Zil Kada 1079 (9th April 1669) it reached the ears of His Majesty, the protector of the faith, that in the province of Thatta, Multan, and Benares, but especially in the latter, foolish Brahmans were in the habit of expounding frivolous books in their schools, and that students and learners, Muslims as well as Hindus, went there, even from long distances, led by a desire to become acquainted with the wicked sciences they taught. The Director of the Faith, consequently, issued orders to all governors of provinces to destroy with a willing hand the schools and temples of the infidels and they were strictly enjoined to put an entire stop to the teaching and practising of idolatrous forms of worship. On the 15th Rabiul-akhir (end September) it was reported to his religious Majesty, leader of the unitarians, that in obedience to order, the government officers had destroyed the temple of Bishnath at Benares.
There was a reign of terror unleashed by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb against Hindus and Sikhs.
Hindu babies were mercilessly cut in half, speared on spikes, beheaded by the muslim warlords. This barbarity continued after Islam had already ruled India for centuries.
In the month of Ramzan 980 H. (January 1670) this justice-loving monarch, the constant enemy of tyrants, commanded the destruction of the Hindu temple of Mathura known by the name of Dehra Keshav Rai, and soon that stronghold of falsehood was levelled with the ground. On the same spot was laid, with great expense, the foundation of a vast mosques. Glory be to Allah who has given us the faith of Islam that in this reign of the destroyer of false gods, an undertaking so difficult of attainment has been brought to a successful culmination. The richly jewelled idols taken from the infidel temples were transferred to Agra and there placed beneath the steps leading to the Nawab Begum Sahib’s (Jahanara’s) mosque in order that they might be pressed under foot by the true believers. Mathura changed its name into Islamabad and was thus called in all official documents.
And this is only a small pick of the brutal rivers of blood that poured across India during it’s Muslim rule.