Influence Of Islam In Hindu Society
Islamic influence on Hindu society during the medieval period can be observed from historical evidence, although it is not possible to quantify such influence numerically. However, such influence can be studied and examined by categorizing Islamic impact into various areas, such as the impact on food, clothing, and social life of the people; ideals, beliefs, and values; the purdah system; language and literature; art and architecture; and music and painting.
Before Islam emerged, Arabs had trade relations with the southern parts of India for a very long time. A significant event in India’s history occurred in 712 A.D. when the Arabs invaded Sindh. It was the first time, under the leadership of Muhammad Bin Kasim, for Muslims to have attacked India, gained political dominance over its territory and remained so for five centuries.
It is believed that the Muslim invaders were very conscious of their identities, as such they remained as a separate unit throughout instead of incorporating themselves into the majority Hindu community.
As they tried to spread and expand their religion in India, the Arabs gradually took over. The period spanning the 13th century to the arrival of the Mughals in 1526 AD During the period between the 13th century and the arrival of the Mughals in 1526 AD, a vast and remarkable change was observed in the socio-cultural landscape of India. A religious movement called the Bhakti Movement and a movement called the Sufi Movement caused the event to manifest.
According to some historians, the influence of Islamic culture on Indian society can be observed dating back to the 13th century. It is generally the case that when two very different cultures, such as Islam and Hinduism, come into contact and sustain alongside each other, they leave their mark on one another.
Both the positive and negative aspects of Islamic influence on Hindu society during medieval times can be seen. The Indian culture was heavily influenced by Islamic tradition, although it is not entirely true that Islam had a more powerful impact than any other religion.
Therefore, it is beneficial to examine the extent of Islamic influence since this will give a clear picture of its impact on Hindu societies during medieval times.
- Having a social impact
Islam had an important social impact on Indian society, which comprises primarily Hindus. Salwar and Achakan, which are the most popular dresses of North India, were introduced under Muslim influence. The elite Hindu class copied the dress fashion favoured by the Muslim noble class.
Furthermore, much of their food culture, social ethics, habits, and manners were influenced by Islam. As with Muslims, Hindus began eating non-vegetarian foods such as kebabs and curry.
Drinking habits also became part of Hindu culture. Additionally, many of the food habits of the Hindu people change during that time. Nevertheless, the majority of Hindus and the priestly class maintained their opposition to these Islamic influences in clothes, food, and manners.
It was not uncommon for Muslim people who controlled a powerful position to kidnap beautiful Hindu girls. Hence, Muslim parents had no choice but to let their daughters go into child marriage. India is primarily characterized by Muslim rule and this has led to a large number of child marriages.
Moreover, since women’s positions were becoming more unequal in society, their status as women deteriorated. Despite women’s lack of freedom, they were forbidden to attend social events and ceremonies organized by society.
There was a decline in the status of women under Islamic influence at that time.
Also, enslavement increased dramatically under Muslim rule. Muslims have destroyed the social structures of society by forcing people to work as bonded labourers as a symbol of power, status, position, and power in the community.
Women and men were slaves as well, and the number of slaves increased to over 2,00,000 during the Tughlaq rule. Women were used as slaves by the Royal Rajput families for dowry practices, which was an inhuman act and a very miserable practice.
- Effects of the Purdah System
In earlier times, India had no knowledge of the Purdah system and women were free to move around. Purdah became one of the most prominent practices in India under Muslim rule. It was rare for women to venture outside their homes and they were forced to live in seclusion at home.
Forgoing out, the women used Palanquins that were covered with curtains or Purdahs. As a result, the kidnapping of Hindu women was considered an act of Jihad and Hindu women used the Purdah to protect themselves from the evil practice of Jihad.
- Religion and its impact
There were two ways in which Islam influenced Hindu society: (1) Few of the democratic principles found their way into Hindu society. (2) Hindus learned conservatism as Islam aimed to convert Hindus to Islam in as large a number as possible.
Therefore, the Hindu leaders adopted more orthodox beliefs to preserve their religion and emphasized a strict religious lifestyle as outlined in the Smritis.
Indian and mainly Hindu philosophy derived the concept of “Unity of God” from Islam. Indian and mostly Hindu scholars often claim it to be a gift from Islam. The Hindu and Islam reformers greatly influenced the Bhakti movement since they addressed the fundamental equality of people of all faiths. Hindu society also absorbed a great deal of influence from Sufi saints, since Sufism was strongly influenced by them as well.
With the influence of Islam, Hindu society gradually understood that untouchability and discrimination had to be abolished within their society and that it was important to provide liberal treatment to such people in the interest of the Hind community.
- Effects on the economy
In India, the economy was dominated mostly by Hindu society, even though the Muslim rulers consolidated their authority in the political sphere. The Hindus were the peasantry, who worked in the fields and on farms.
In addition to managing trade and commerce, they also orchestrated the economic structure of the country during the medieval era, mostly because Muslims were less conversant with the commercial practices of the marketplace and the Baniyas (Hindus) continued to form a foundation of the economic system of India during this period.
Additionally, the Baniyas lent or advanced money to farmers, craftsmen, artisans, and other workers to earn interest from them.
Due to the overwhelming power of Hindu society in the fields of trade, business, and commerce, the Muslims were forced to rely on the Hindus. Nonetheless, foreign trade and commerce which had previously been discontinued came to life once more when Islam became a force in the Hindu society.
Foreign trade and commerce with Middle Eastern countries particularly began. These activities increased dramatically. Even though the administration and political supremacy of government were in the hands and influence of the Muslims, the economic life and growth of the economy continued to be under the influence of Hindu society.
- The impact on language and literature
Languages of the Middle East have also been influenced by Islam, which is evident from a large number of Arabic, Persian and Turkish words present in local culture. The emergence of Urdu as a language resulted from the fusion of Hindu and Muslim cultures. During the Middle Ages, Urdu developed from the synthesis of Arabic, Persian and Turkish languages of Sanskrit origin into a common language of communication among people.
As a result, the Hindu society paid little attention to Persian and Arabic studies, and the initial impact of Islam on the Hindu culture was small. Nevertheless, as time passed, Hindus became interested in Persian literature. The rise of Persian literature, though, really began during the Tuglaq between Islam and Hinduism. These scholars used Persian script to write Sanskrit romances in Hindi, which was translated by some Muslim scholars.
Soon, the synthesis between the two pieces of literature emerged where many Hindu literary men broke faith with Islamic ideas in their literary works and, as such, Hindu scholars did not come up with any independent works in the Persian form of literature. In later times, however, independent Persian literature was created in the time of Shah Jahan. This includes works such as Chandra Bhan Brahman.
- How does it affect art and architecture?
The medieval period is considered to have had a profound impact on the field of fine arts and architecture thanks to Islam. As a result of the union of the Hindu and Muslim cultures, a new type of art emerged, where the primary elements such as the craftsmanship and ornamental richness, etc. were of Hindu origin, and the external part like the spherical domes, the open courtyards, arches, etc. was of Persian origin.
Such Islamic architecture was used for the construction of such buildings as Qutab Minar, the Tomb of Humayun in Delhi, Taj Mahal, Jama Masjid, etc. During the Rajput period, Rajput palaces adopted Mughal architectural styles. There has been a significant influence of Islam on Hindu temples as well.
- The impact on music and painting
Music has had a large influence on Indian culture. Music was a great passion for the Muslim rulers, and the growth of musical culture developed rapidly during their reign. In particular, Qawwali music became quite popular.
With the mixing of Persian music and Indian music, new notations appeared. Musical instruments such as the Sitar were responsible for the mingling of the Iranian Tambura and the Indian Veena. In addition, Tabla was a variant of the Hindu musical instrument Mridang.
The Hindus were largely responsible for the creation of India’s unique painting tradition, techniques, and aesthetics in the 19th century. There was a great deal of influence from Islam in this field. It was not only in terms of ideas but also in terms of techniques and forms. The Islamic influence was primarily felt in the art of laying gardens since the Muslims had very sharp geometrical designing skills which were exported throughout India by Hindus.
There were two schools of painting, namely Mughal and Rajput School of Painting, that amalgamated Western and Eastern cultures. Their meticulous attention to detail resulted in a truly exceptional painting. The Hindu artists closely adhered to Persian painting techniques, resulting in exceptional work.
A critical analysis of the subject is necessary.
During medieval times, Islam had a great impact on Hindu society, greatly influencing Hindu society. The influence of Islam on society, culture, tradition, ideas, values, belief systems, and lifestyle can be studied in a variety of ways, such as its religious, social, economic effects, its impact on family structures and language, art and architecture, music and painting, clothes and food, and its impact on lifestyle.
As a result of rulers like Babur, Akbar, Aurangzeb, Shah Jahan, Jahangir, Firoz Tughlaq, the Sultans of Delhi, and the Mughals, the Islamic influence in India began extending. Those people were the driving force behind the flourishing of Islam in the country and the establishment of authority and position of control. It was this culture that provided the practices, ideas and beliefs that led to the flourishing of Islam in the country.
Across various fields or areas, Islam has had a varied impact. During the medieval period, Islamic influences had both positive and negative impacts on Indian society.
Even though the majority of Hindus remained away from such unworthy and wasteful practices of Islamic culture, the food, social manners, and clothing habits of the elite class of the Hindus were influenced by Islam. Due to the practice of showing their power, position and status to the world, Muslim rulers brought about the growth of slavery and child marriage. As a result of the Bhakti and Sufi Movement, the Hindu society went through immense social and cultural transformation.
However, it did not bring much change to the economic area of trade, commerce, and business, which was dominated largely by the Hindus. Many scholars and academicians admire the concept of Unity in God which is taught in Islam. This concept did not promote the worship of idols as a form of worship. They taught the Hindu society how to stop following practices such as untouchability and discrimination within their society and taught liberal attitudes toward such people.
These teachings promoted brotherhood and equality among their people. Indians have come to learn the need for religious conservatism, adherence to strict measures, and principles if they are to prevent the practice of Islam, which teaches to convert as many people as possible to Islam. The Urdu language has become the language spoken by the common people in the society that emerged from the fusion of Hindu and Muslim culture. It is a language with a great deal of literary value in both cultures. There was a multitude of works written by writers of both religions in both languages.
A further reason why the Hindus admired the Islamic rulers’ art and architecture was their faith. The Hindu emperors followed the same architectural pattern and idea for their palaces. Muslim architecture has gained much recognition throughout the country, and some sites are even recognized as heritage sites by the Indian government. There were several art forms, designs, and techniques that were a synthesis of the two religions, as evidenced by the emergence of two schools of painting and the development of a new musical instrument named the Sitar.
As far as the writer is concerned, everything has its benefits and its drawbacks. Islamic contributions to Hindu society have both positive and negative effects. Learning and relearning is the process to follow. It is widely recommended that one learns and adopts good practices and habits from someone else and leaves bad or immoral practices and habits behind. We can all understand this in this case as well. To benefit from the good cultural observances, beliefs, and values of Islam, Hindu society must abstain from the bad ones.
It has also harmed the people of the country, although Islam has brought many benefits to the country. There were some bad practices and beliefs even in Hinduism and that was fine with them. Everything comes down to learning and incorporating good practices. As a result, it is imperative to learn and keep moving forward.
In analyzing and evaluating the scope of the impact of Islam on Hindu society under several different segments such as the influence of food, clothing, and social life; ideals, beliefs, and values; the purdah system; the language and literature; the arts, architecture, and music, etc., it is clear that the contact between Hinduism and Islam has produced a new synthesis of cultures and religions. Moreover, it can be concluded that Islam was a very important influence in Hindu society, one that can be severely studied and investigated depending on the subject (for instance, tradition, language, art, music, ideology, etc.).
There is generally supposed to be a belief that when people from a framed geographic group share different cultures, it is more likely to occur that there is a common ideology, belief system, value system, behaviours, etc. mixing among them. Throughout society, people share their sense of social, political, and economic culture. Islam and Hinduism share some of these characteristics as well.
Despite this, the fundamentals of Indian society have not changed significantly due to Islam’s superficial influence and no material changes have taken place due to the Islamic influence only significant enough to impact external phases of life. The impact of Islam was never strong enough to completely change Indian civilization. To give an example.
(1) According to Islam, everyone is equal and brotherhood is preached. It does not consider social status or profession when dividing people.
The Christians treat people equally and maintain unity among them, as opposed to the Hindus who were more into social division among themselves, thus they did not relax the caste system and they did not promote equality between their people.
(2) Another difference between Islam and Hinduism is that Islam does not believe in worshipping idols. While both Hinduism and Islam adhere to the principle of collectivism, in Islamic society collectivism is separated from hierarchy, while in Hinduism hierarchy is associated with collectivism.
Generally, when two cultures come into contact and coexist alongside one another, they will leave a lasting impact on the other culture. The effects of this cultural combination have become an essential part of Indian culture. Even though Mohammedan culture did not have a major influence on Hindu society during medieval times, it would be impossible to deny that it had some influence on society. Like the cultural and societal influence exerted by the British culture and western civilisation on the Indian society during the 19th century, Islam had lasting effects on Indian society during medieval times.
edited and proofread by nikita sharma