How did Islam come to Kashmir?
"It came through the peaceful missionary preaching of the Sufis," comes the answer.
Sufis have been universally credited with the peaceful propagation of Islam around the world. An Islamic legend tells us that there was a king in Kashmir, at an unknown point in time, who had no religion. One day, he wished to adopt a religion. Both Muslims and Hindus came to convince him. Their contradictory views left him rather confused, and resolved that, "'he would embrace the religion of the first man he would meet in the street after coming out of his house the next morning" [Baharistan-I-Shahi (an anonymously 17th-century Persian book on the history of Kashmir, translated by Prof. K. N. Pundit), Chapter 2]. And it was a dervish [Sufi master], whom he encountered first the next morning, and there he became a Muslim, and Kashmir became Islamic.
…This impression, that was peacefully propagated in Kashmir and around the world by the Sufis, is universally entertained by Muslim and non-Muslim scholars and historians alike.
This paradigm is being successfully and exclusively propagated despite the fact that available historical records give an opposite picture.
It is hard to know when Islamic rule was established in Kashmir. Muhammad bin Qasim was in the preparation for an invasion of Kashmir in 715. Thereafter, Kashmir suffered a number of Islamic invasions; Sultan Mahmud, the master barbarian (although idolized by Muslims), had also led a failed expedition there. Caliph al-Mansur (r. 755–74) had sent an expedition under Hasham bin Amru for waging holy war against Hindu territories. Amongst many places, between Kandahar and Kashmir, he conquered, he "subdued Kashmir and took many prisoners and slave" [Elliot & Dawson, History of India as Told by Its Historians (it contains experts from Islamic chronicles), Vol. I, p. 122–23,203]. In 1033, Sultan Mahmud's not-so-illustrious son, Sultan Masud I, made up for his illustrious father's failure by launching "an attack on the fort of Sursuti in Kashmir. The entire garrison was put to the sword, except the women and children, who were carried away as slaves."
While it is hard to establish which of these invasions established Islamic rule in Kashmir, the Sufis, Islam's alleged prophets of peace, however had a prominent role in its Islamization, but it was a barbaric one.
About conversion of the masses to Islam in Kashmir, we get an idea of it around 1371 or 1381 CE, when Sayyid Ali Hamdani, a famous Sufi saint, arrived in Kashmir. The first thing he did was to build his khanqah [lodge or ashram] on the site of "a small temple which was demolished…" [Baharistan, p. 36]. Before his coming to Kashmir, the reigning Sultan Qutbud-Din paid little attention to enforcing Islamic laws. In the tolerant local culture, Muslims at all levels of the society—including the Sultan, the Qadis [Qazi]—had all tolerantly and comfortably submerged themselves in the Hindu culture and customs of Kashmir [ibid, p. 37].
But Sufi saint Sayyid Hamdani was horrified by the un-Islamic practices of Kashmiri Muslims, and forbade this laxity and tried to revive orthodoxy. The reigning Sultan Qutbud-Din tried to adopt Islamic orthodoxy in his personal life, but "failed to propagate Islam in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of Amir Sayyid Ali Hamdani" [ibid]. As a result, the Sufi saint left Kashmir because of his reluctance to live in a land dominated by the idolatrous culture, customs and creed.
Later on, his son Amir Sayyid Muhammad, another great Sufi saint, came to Kashmir during the reign of the famous idol-breaker, Sultan Sikander. Sikander was not such a barbarian until the arrival of holy Sufi saint Sayyid Muhammad, who prodded the Sultan into enforcing the Islamic code in his domain. Unlike Sultan Qutbud-Din, Sikander agreed to the Sufi saint's instruction. Sikander and Sayyid Muhammad, thus, formed an alliance to wipe out all signs of idolatry and its professors from Kashmir.
According to Muhammad Farishtah (d. 1614) [History of the Rise of the Mahomedan Power in India, Vol. IV, 1997 imprint, p. 268], a historian of Delhi Sultan, Sikandar issued an order:
According to another 17th-century Persian chronicle, HM Chadurah's Tarikh-I-Kashmir, Sikandar "was constantly busy in annihilating the infidels and destroyed most of the temples…" [trans. Razia Bano, Delhi, 1991, p. 55].
This, to learned Farishtah, this was Sultan Sikandar's greatest achievement. And to whom goes the credit?
Find it out from the proud author of Baharistan-i-Shahi, who writes: "…the credit of wiping out the vestiges of infidelity and heresy from the mirror of the conscience of the dwellers of these lands," goes to Sufi saint Sayyid Muhammad [p. 37].
Succeeding the Iconoclast, his son Ameer Khan (aka Ally Shah) continued the butchery of the remaining Hindus of Kashmir, as adds Farishtah, he "persecuted the few Brahmins who still remained firm in their religion; and by putting all to death, who refused to embrace Mahomedism. He drove those who still lingered in Kashmeer entirely out of that kingdom" [ibid, p. 269].
…terror befell upon the non-Muslims of Kashmir again in the reigns of Malik Raina and Kaji Chak, who converted the Hindus to Islam by the sword, again instigated by another Sufi saint, Amir Shamsud-Din Muhammad Iraqi, the greatest Sufi saint to arrive in Kashmir.
Iraqi arrived in Kashmir after Malik Musa Raina became the administrator of Kashmir (1501). He formed alliance with Malik Raina, and with his patronage and authority, says Baharistan-i-Shahi [p. 93–94]:
Amir Shamsud-Din Muhammad undertook wholesale destruction of all those idol-houses as well as total ruination of the very foundation of infidelity and disbelief. On the site of every idol-house he destroyed, he ordered the construction of a mosque for offering prayers after the Islamic manner.
And "on the instance of Shamsud-Din Iraqi, Musa Raina had issued orders that everyday 1,500 to 2,000 infidels be brought to the doorstep of Mir Shamsud-Din by his followers. They would remove their sacred thread (zunnar), administer Kelima [Muslim profession of faith] to them, circumcise them and make them eat beef"; and, thus, "twenty-four thousand Hindu families were converted to Iraqi's faith by force and compulsion (qahran wa jabran)" [ibid, p. 105–06].
(subsequently)… many of those, forcibly converted to Islam by Malik Raina, later reverted to 'polytheism' [Hinduism]. Muslims spread a rumor that these apostates "had placed a copy of the holy Quran under their haunches to make a seat to sit upon." Upon hearing this, the enraged Sufi saint protested to Kaji Chak, saying [ibid, p. 117]:
"This community of idolaters has, after embracing and submitting to the Islamic faith, now gone back to defiance and apostasy. If you find yourself unable to inflict punishment upon them in accordance with the provisions of Sharia [which is death for apostasy] and take disciplinary action against them, it will become necessary and incumbent upon me to proceed on a self-imposed exile."
Note that Iraqi's complaint does not mention the alleged disrespect of the Quran, but simply emphasize the Hindus' abandonment of Islam after accepting it—i.e. their apostasy, punishment for which is death in Islam. In order to pacify the enraged Sufi saint, Malik Kaji Chak "decided upon carrying out wholesale massacre of the infidels," says Baharistan-i-Shahi, which was scheduled to be carried out on the holy festival day of Ahsura [Muharram, 1518 CE; Iraqi was Shiite], and,
Thereupon, "the entire community of infidels and polytheists in Kashmir was coerced into conversion to Islam at the point of the sword. This is one of the major achievements of Malik Kaji Chak," adds the proud author of Baharistan-i-Shahi [p. 117].
This horrifying action, of course, was ordered by the great Sufi saint.
…Kashmir is flaunted by Muslims as the best example of peaceful penetration of Islam in India – thanks to peaceful Sufis, of course. And this is the story of the most peaceful Sufis that came to India from the Muslim world.
(Organiser, April 27, 2008 )
The other side of Sufism
By R.K. Ohri, IPS (Retd)
A reappraisal of the role of Sufis working as missionaries of Islam
For centuries the Sufi creed and Sufi music have been tom tomed as great symbols of spiritualism and promoters of peace and harmony between the Hindus and the Muslims. The cleverly marketed concept of Sufi spiritualism has been unquestioningly accepted as the hallmark of Hindu-Muslim unity. It is time we studied the history of Sufis, tried to track the narrative of their coming to India and analysed their explicit missionary role in promoting conversions to Islam. More importantly, it needs to be assessed how did the Sufis conduct themselves during reckless killings and plunders by the Muslim invaders ? Did they object to the senseless mass killings and try to prevent unremitting plunder of Hindu temples and innocent masses? Did the Sufis ever object to the capture of helpless men and women as slaves and the use of the latter as objects of carnal pleasure ? These are some of the questions to which answers have to be found by every genuine student of Indian history.
Most Sufis came to India either accompanying the invading armies of Islamic marauders, or followed in the wake of the sweeping conquests made by the soldiers of Islam. At least the following four famous Sufis accompanied the Muslim armies which repetitively invaded India to attack the Hindu rulers, seize their kingdoms and riches and took recourse to extensive slaughtering of the commoners. Almost all Sufi masters were silent spectators to the murderous mayhem and reckless plunder of temples ands cities by the marauding hordes across the sub-continent. Taking advantage of the fact that the Hindu masses are deeply steeped in spiritual tradition and mysticism, the Sufis used their mystic paradigm for applying sort of a healing balm on the defeated, bedegralled and traumatized commoners with a view to converting them to the religion of the victors. The following well-known Sufi masters came to India along with the invading Muslim armies which repetitively invaded India in wave after wave:
Additionally, the famous Sufi Shihabuddin Suhrawardy of Baghdad was brought to India for carrying out the missionary work of conversions by Bahauddin Zakariya of Multan several decades after the Hindu ruler had been defeated and the kingdom laid waste after repetitive plunder and manslaughter. Like all Sufi masters, his main task was to apply the balm of spiritual unity on the traumatized Hindu population and then gradually persuade them to convert to Islam. Not a single Sufi, the so-called mystic saints, ever objected to the ongoing senseless manslaughter and wreckless plunder, nor to the destruction of temples, nor for that matter to the ghoulish enslavement of the so-called infidel men and women for sale in the bazaars of Ghazni and Baghdad. Operating from the sidelines of spiritualism they even participated in the nitty-gritty of governance to help the Muslim rulers consolidate their authority in the strife torn country. And significantly, their participation in the affairs of the State was not conditional upon the Muslim rulers acting in a just and even handed manner. On the contrary, the Sufis invariably tried to help the Sultans in following the path shown by the Prophet and the Shariah. Another important objective of the spiritual and mystic preachings of the Sufi masters was to blunt the edge of Hindu resistance and prevent them from taking up arms to defend their hearth and home, their motherland and their faith, through the fa?ade of peace and religious harmony. The Naqashbandi Sufis had very close relations with Jahangir and Aurangzeb. The well known Sufi Saint of Punjab, Ahmad Sirhindi (Mujadid) of the Naqashbandi order (1564-1634) held that the execution of the Sikh leader Guru Arjun Dev by Jehangir was a great Islamic victory. He believed and openly proclaimed that Islam and Hinduism were antithesis of each other and therefore could not co-exist. Even the Chishti Sufi, Miyan Mir, who had been a friend of Guru Arjun Dev, later on turned his back on the Sikh Guru when the latter was arrested by Jahangir and sent for execution.
It may be recalled that the great Sufi master of the eleventh century, Al Qushairi (A.D.1072) had unambiguously declared that there was no discord between the aims of the Sufi ?haqiqa? And the aims of the Sharia. The definition given by Al Hujwiri should be able to quell any doubt about the commitment of Sufis in upholding the supremacy of the Islamic faith over all other religions. That dogma has been the key component of the philosophy of Sufism not only in India, but across the world - from India to Hispania (I.e., the Spain). The great Sufi master, Al Hujwiri, laid down the golden rule that the words ?there is no god save Allah? are the ultimate Truth, and the words ?Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah? are the indisputable Law for all Sufis. In other words, the Sufism and the ulema represent the same two aspects of the Islamic faith which are universally accepted and obeyed by all Muslims. By definition therefore Sufi masters could be no exception. The renowned ninth century Sufi master, Al Junaid, also known as ?the Sheikh of the Way?, and widely revered as the spiritual ancestor of Sufi faith, had categorically proclaimed that for Sufis ?All the mystic paths are barred, except to him who followeth in the footsteps of the Messenger (i.e., Prophet Muhammad) [Source: Martin Lings, What is Sufism, George Allen & Unwin Ltd, London, 1975, p.101].
As pointed out by Reynold A. Nicholson in the Preface to the famous tome, ?Kashaf al Mahjub? (Taj & Co., Delhi, 1982). ?no sufis, not even those who have attained the highest degree of holiness, are exempt from the obligation of obeying the religious law?. In fact, the famous tome, ?Kashaf al Mahjub? written by Ali bin Al-Hujwiri, who was also known as Data Ganj Baksh, was widely regarded as the grammar of Sufi thought and practice. Most Sufis have invariably drawn on the contents of this treatise for preaching the sufi thought ( also known as sufi silsilas). As already stated, on page 140 of Kashaf al Mahjub Al Hujwiri loudly proclaims that ?the words there is no God save Allah are Truth, and the words Muhammed is the Apostle of Allah? are the indisputable Law.
K.A. Nizami in his celebrated book, The Life and Times of Shaikh Nizamuddin Auliya (Idarah-I Adabiyat-i-Delhi, Delhi) has stated that the Auliya openly used to say that ?what the ulama seek to achieve through speech, we achieve by our behaviour.? The Auliya was a firm believer in the need for unquestioned obedience of every Muslim, every Sufi, to the dictates of the ulema. According to K.A. Nizami, another Sufi saint Jamal Qiwamu?d-din wrote that though he had been associated with the Shaikh Nizamuddin Auliya for years, ?but never did he find him missing a single sunnat ?? ?. The well known authority on Sufism, S.A.A. Rizvi has recorded in his book, ?A History of Sufism in India? that Nizamuddin Auliya used to unhesitatingly accept enormous gifts given to him by Khusraw Barwar which implied that the Auliya was unconcerned with the source of the gift, provided it was paid in cash. Yet the Auliya was a firm believer in the need for a Muslim?s unquestioned loyalty and obedience to the ulema. As reiterated by K.A. Nizami, Auliya used to preach that the unbeliever is the doomed denizen of Hell. In his khutba he would leave no one in doubt that Allah has created Paradise for the Believers and Hell for the infidels ?in order to repay the wicked for what they have done?. It has been categorically stated on page 161 in the famous treatise, Fawaid al-Fuad, translated by Bruce B. Lawrence (Paulist Press, New York, 1992) that the Auliya confirmed on the authority of the great Islamic jurist, Imam Abu Hanifa, that the perdition of the unbelievers is certain and that Hell is the only abode for them, even if they agreed to confess total loyalty to Allah on the Day of Judgment.
In the above mentioned treatise on Sufi philosphy, Fuwaid al-Fuad, a very interesting instance of enslaving the kaffir Hindus for monetary gain has been cited which shows how another Sufi, Shayakh Ali Sijzi, provided financial assistance to one of his dervishes to participate in the lucrative slave trade. He had advised the dervish that he should take ?these slaves to Ghazni, where the potential for profit is still greater?. And it was confirmed by Nizamuddin Auliya that ?the Dervish obeyed?. Obviously therefore, neither spiritual ethics and nor justice to all, including the infidels, were the strong points of Sufi saints.
If the narrative of the preachings and acts of Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmer are taken as indication of his religious philosophy and deeds, he emerges as a sufi master who nursed a deep hatred against the infidel Hindus and showed utter contempt for their religious beliefs. As elaborated by S.S.A. Rizvi in ?A History of Sufism in India, Vol. 1 (Munshiram Manoharlal, 1978, p. 117), there is a reference in the book, Jawahar-i- Faridi, to the fact that when Moinuddin Chishti reached near the Annasagar Lake at Ajmer, where a number of holy shrines of Hindus were located, he slaughtered a cow and cooked a beef kebab at the sacred place surrounded by many temples. It is further claimed in Jawahar-i-Faridi that the Khwaja had dried the 2 holy lakes of Annasagar and Pansela by the magical heat of Islamic spiritual power. He is even stated to have made the idol of the Hindu temple near Annasagar recite the Kalma. The Khwaja had a burning desire to destroy the rule of the brave Rajput king, Prithviraj Chauhan, so much so that he ascribed the victory of Muhammad Ghori in the battle of Tarain entirely to his own spiritual prowess and declared that ?We have seized Pithaura alive and handed him over to the army of Islam?. [Source: Siyar?l Auliya, cited by Rizvi on page 116 of ?A History of Sufism in India?].
Throughout the Muslim rule all Sufis enjoyed full confidence, royal favour and patronage of the cruel Muslim rulers. Though foolishly accepted as ?secular? by most Hindus seeking spiritual solace after being battered, bruised and marginalised, almost all Sufi saints dogmatically followed the commandments contained in the Quran, the Hadith and Sharia. Historians have recorded that many Sufi saints had accompanied armies of the Muslim invaders to use their spiritual powers in furtherance of Islam?s conquests. Not one of them raised even a little finger to forbid slaughter of the innocents, nor did they question the imposition of jiziya by Muslim rulers. In fact, most of them guided the
Muslim rulers in carrying forward their mission of conquest and conversion by furthering their campaigns of plundering the wealth of Hindus of which many Sufis willingly partook share. It was almost a taboo for Sufis, the so-called saints, to accept a Hindu ascending the throne of any kingdom during the heydays of the Muslim rule. . In an example narrated by S.A.A. Rizvi on page 37 of his well researched book, The Wonder That Was India (Vol.II, Rupa & Co, 1993, New Delhi) it is pointed out that when the powerful Bengali warrior, king Ganesha, captured power in Bengal in the year 1415 A.D., Ibrahim Shah Sharqi, attacked his kingdom at the request of outraged ulema and numerous Sufis of Bengal. In the ensuing strife, the leading Sufi of Bengal, Nur Qutb-i-Alam, interceded and secured a political agreement to the benefit of the Muslim community and satisfaction of Sufis. Under dire threat King Ganesha was forced to abdicate his throne in favour of his 12 years old son, Jadu, who was converted to Islam and proclaimed as Sultan Jalaluddin - to the satisfaction of the Sufi masters. Similarly Sultan Ahmed Shah of Gujarat (1411-42), though a practitioner of Sufi philosophy, was a diehard iconoclast who took delight in destroying temples, as stated in the same tome, by S.A.A. Rizvi. The Sultan also used to force the Rajput chieftains to marry their daughters to him so that they would become outcastes in their own community. And the endgame of the Sultan could as well be that perhaps some of the outcaste Rajputs might then opt to become Muslims.
Unfortunately due to relentless colonization of the Hindu mind during 1000 years long oppressive Muslim rule, the Hindu masses till date have failed to realise that the so-called Sufi philosophy of religious harmony is a one-way street. This trend of Hindus praying at tombs and dargahs has been nurtured by the strong undercurrent of belief in spiritualism among Hindu masses, even educated classes. That is the crux of the matter. Deeply steeped in their traditional belief in spirituality and mysticism, the Hindus have developed the custom of visiting dargahs and continue to pray at the tombs of Sufis, no Muslim, nor any Sufi, has ever agreed to worship in a Hindu temple, nor make obeisance before the images of Hindu Gods and Godesses. For them it would be an act of grossest sacrilege and unacceptable violation of the basic tenets of Sufism. That is the truth about the Sufi saints and their philosophy of inter-religious harmony.
Demystifying The Sufis
History testifies the fact that most of the Sufi "saints" came to India either accompanying the invading armies of Islamic marauders or just followed them in their sweeping conquests. Hazrat Shaikh Khwaja Syed Muhammad Mu'īnuddīn Chishtī was accompanied to Ajmer and Khwaja Qutubuddin to Delhi by Muḥammad Shahābuddīn Ghorī, famously known as Muḥammad of Ghor. Hazrat Bābā Farīduddīn Mas'ūd Ganjshakar aka Baba Fareed came to Pakpattan (now in Pakistan) and Hazrat Khwaja Nizamuddin Auliya of Dargah Hazarat Nizamuddin came to Delhi accompanying a contingent of theinvaders. [Ref: Islamization of India by the Sufis by Purushottam, Hindu Writers Forum, New Delhi]
These Sufi masters taught a faith, which though may appear different, was in tune with Koran and Hadis. The "great" Sufi Saint Al-Hujuri had "'There is no god other than Allah and Muhammad is the apostle of Allah' is ultimate and indisputable truth." Also Sufi's to convert India to Islam was no less than those Islamic murderers whom they had followed or accompanied.
Throughout the Islamic rule, all Sufis have enjoyed full confidence, royal favour and support of the Islamist rulers.historian Prof Abdul Karim in his book Social History of Muslims in Bengal (Pp 136-138) states that: "Hand in hand with the proselytizing efforts of the rulers was the Sufis and Maulvis. From the time of Muhammad bin Tughlaq (1326-1351) to that of (1556-1605); Bengal had attracted rebels, refugees, Sufi Mashaikh, disgruntled nobles and adventurers from North India." Besides, he has also referred to militant Sufi conversion practices.
Professor KR Qanungo has noted that the conversion of Bengal was mainly the work ofBarah-Auliyas. [Ref: "Bengal was not conquered by seventeen Turkish cavaliers (of Bakhtiyar Khalji); but by the barah-auliyas, or twelve legendary Muslim militant saints, the Pirs who cropped up after the seed of Islam had been broadcast in the plains of Bengal." K.R. Qanungo, op. Cit., p. 151.]
In the very same context, Dr IH Qureshi, who in his work The Muslim Community of the Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent (610-1947) writes: "Fourteenth century happened to be a period of expansion of Muslim authority in Bengal and adjoining territories. A significant part was played in this process by the warrior saints who were eager to take up the cause of any persecuted community. This often resulted [in clash] with the native authority, followed by, almost invariably by annexation."
Saiyyad Muhammad bin Nasiruddin Jafar Makki al-Husaini
Saiyyad Muhammad bin Nasiruddin Jafar Makki al-Husaini, the Khalifa of Nasiruddin Chiragh-I-Delhi "held that there were five reasons which led the people to embrace Islam:
1. Fear of death,
2. Fear of their families being enslaved,
3. (of Islam) on the part of Muslims,
4. The lust for obtaining mawajib (pensions or rewards) ghanaim (booty), and
5. Tassub (bigotry or superstition)."
[Ref: Rizvi, op. Cit., p.46 citing Sijzi, Akhbar-ul-Akhiyar, p.136]
Amir Khusrau writes that under Jalaluddin Khilji (1290-96) "Whenever a live Hindu fell into the hands of the victorious king he was pounded to bits under the feet of the elephants…" [Ref: KS Lal; Legacy of Muslim Rule in India, p-120]
Because it was impractical to behead the entire Hindu population which stubbornly refused to convert they were given the alternative of living as Dhimmis (or Zimmis) on payment of a tax called Jazia – which was generally an alternative offered to Christians and Jews only. By imposing this tax Hindus were turned into a second class citizen in their very own land!
Says KS Lal in Legacy of Muslim Rule in India (p–119) "The main objective of levying the Jazia is the subjugation of infidels to humiliation; and during the process of payments, the Dhimmi is seized by the collar and vigorously shaken and pulled about in order to show degradation." adding, "Death awaited them at every corner, because, being idolaters they could be given a choice only between Islam and death. Hindu peasants, unable to pay heavy taxes, were driven away as slaves and sold to recover. It was not uncommon to see the families crying and wailing during their march to the salve market. All such salves were sooner or later sold only to Muslim buyers."
"According to 14th and 15th century legends, Ismaili propagandist evolved a belief for Hindu converts that Ali, the husband of Fatima, daughter of Prophet Muhammad, was theincarnation of Vishnu, that Adam was another aspect of Siva and that Muhammad was in fact Brahma." [Ref: S Athar Abbas Rizvi, A History of Sufism in India, Volume 2, p-110]
Sufi literally means a person clad in woollen cloth. They were so called because they dressed themselves in this way, said to be the way of prophet and his companions.
In principle, Sufis believed in attaining God by meditation, fasts and singing his praises to achieve a state of ecstasy just like Hindu Saints. Thus, several scholars find a "great similarity" between these practices of Sufis and the advocacy by some of them of exercise of breath control (Pranyama) so highly praised in Hindu Yoga Shastras. They ascribe this similarity to the fact that ancient Hindu thought and ideas on mysticism had continually aroused interest in the Khurasan region and these naturally fused with the mystical experiences of the Muslim Sufis there.
All Sufis are ardent Muslims having absolute faith in the Prophet his traditions, Quran and Shariah. Thus, although their form and conduct of recollection (Jap) and Meditation (Dhyan) were often different, there was no hostility among them, and they adhered strictly to the basic tenets andof Islam, which, of course, held proselytisation a very "meritorious" and "pious" work.
Muhammad of Ghazni repeatedly invaded India from 1001 to 1025 AD. During these raids and after, many talented and adventurous Sunni Sufis came to India and settled here. By middle of the century, Sufis had well penetrated until Punjab and spread their tentacles there and in the adjoining areas. Stories of "miracle" of these Sufis were spread by the gullible Hindus themselves.
Between the 16th and 18th century, conversion of Hindus to Islam occurred in a considerable scale due to the successful proselytizing techniques used by the new Sufic orders which had considerable experience in this kind of work in Persia, Iraq and Central Asia. A large number of conversions that are taking place in India today are also due to the activities of these the Sufis – dead and alive. Music maestro AR Rehman is just one among those several converts to Islam through this means.
Chronicle of Shahid Salar Masood Ghazi
Amongst the Sufi saints who wielded the sword the name of Shahid Salar Masood Ghazi tops the list. He was Mohammad Ghazni's sister's son and had persuaded him to destroy the Somnath temple.
He entered India from the North-West with his father and a few hundred thousand cavalry. From the first day he offered to Hindus – 'Sword or Koran'. His forces swelled as local recruits joined him; and he marched as far as Bahraich (UP). The route he took is littered with tombs and graves of his Soldiers and offers who were slain fighting the Hindu forces. These can be recognized by the word Shaheed (martyr) or Ghazi (Slayer of Kafirs) attached with their names.
Interestingly, two of such graves in Lucknow have recently (post-partition) became famous and now attract thousands of Hindu devotees who have contributed most of the money for their expansion and decoration.
Hazrat Shaikh Khwaja Syed Muhammad Mu'īnuddīn Chishtī
Hazrat Shaikh Khwaja Syed Muhammad Mu'īnuddīn Chishtī of Ajmer is a hallowed name amongst Sufi saints of India. He is generally known as Gharib Nawaz (the friend of the poor beseechers). Mughal Emperor Akbar is said to have made several visits to his shrine many times starting and ending his journey on foot.
He is projected as an example of "Sufi saintliness" and "secularism", tending to all needy persons irrespective of their faith. However, little is known (or told?) about the major role that he played in Islamization of India.
The following is excerpt from "Siya-al-aqtab" compiled in the mid-seventeenth century as quoted in P M Curie's book "The shrine and cult of Mu'īnuddīn Chishtī of Ajmer": ''It is told that once when he went to perform the pilgrimage to the holy tomb of the Prophet Muhammad, one day from the inside of the pure and blessed tomb a cry came: ''Send for Muinuddin.'' When Muinuddin came to the door he stood there and he saw that presence speak to him. ''Muinuddin, you are the essence of my faith; but must go to Hindustan. There is a place called Ajmer, to which one of my sons (descendants) went for a holy war, and now he has become a martyr, and the place has passed again into the hands of infidels. By the grace of your footsteps there, once more shall Islam be made manifest, and the Kafirs be punished by God's wrath.''
"Accordingly Muinuddin reached Ajmer in Hindustan. There he said: 'Praise be to God, May he be exalted, for I have gained possession of the property of my brother. Although, at that time there were many temples of idols around the lake, when the Khwaja saw them, he said: 'If God and His Prophet so will, it will not be long before I raze to the ground these idol-temples.'"
This is followed by tales of Khwaja coming over those Hindu deities and teachers who were strongly opposed to his settling down there. Amongst such people was a disgruntled employee of Rai Pithaura (as Prithvi Raj Chauhan was also known).
It appears that shorn of miracles the story simply suggests that Khwaja came to India determined to eradicated idolatry and paganism and establish Islam in its place. He met with a lot of resistance from the local governor of Rai Pithaura besides resistance from Rai Pithaura himself. With the help of the immense treasure at his disposal and having converted many gullible Hindus to his faith, he became strong enough to invite Rai Pithaura to convert to Islam. Having failed to persuade him, Khwaja sent a message inviting Sultan Shihabuddin Ghori to attack India. Shihabuddin made unsuccessful invasions. Rai Pithaura always allowed him to go back unmolested after his defeat. Ultimately, however, he defeated Prithvi Raj Chauhan and killed him.
The 'Siyar al-'arifin' says about Khwaja Muinuddin: "All were ignorant of Allah and his prophet. None had seen the Kaba. None had heard of the greatness of Allah. After Muinuddin arrived in India, "Because of his sword, instead of idols and temples, there are Mosques, Mimbars and Mihrabs in the land of unbelief. In the land where the sayings of the idolaters were heard, there is now the sound of Allah-O-Akbar."
Sufis in Kashmir
Kashmir is a typical example of Islamization both by sword and by the Sufis. Amongst the Sultans who used force to Islamize Kashmir the most notorious is Sikandar Butshikan (1389-1431). About this Sultan Kalhana in his "Rajatarangini" says: "The Sultan forgetting all his royal duties took pleasure day and night in destroying idols. He destroyed idols of Martand, Vishnu, Ishan, Chakravarthy and Tripureshwar. Not a forest, a village or a city escaped where the Turushk and his minister Suha passed…"
But this is just a small tip of iceberg. The real credit of Islamizing Kashmir goes to Sufis. Sikandar was a passing phase having lived only 42 years. Conversion by Sufis was a continuous process almost imperceptible which lasted for centuries. Sikandar's conversions were caused by utter terror. Sufis created conditions where Hindus voluntarily came to them and got converted.
On the night of 10th May 1995 Sheikh Nuruddin's mausoleum known as "Charare Sharief" was burnt down, very interesting, by Muslim terrorists. The Indian Press described it as "the sacred Dargah of Sufi Saint Nuruddin Nurani" (India Today), "Symbol of Secularism, a most valuable symbol of cultural identity" (Frontline) and "Adobe of Rishis" (The Economic Times) without having any idea of the person's historical facts.
It is imperative to note that amongst the Sufis who played a major role in converting Hindus of Kashmir to Islam Sheikh Nuruddin popularly known as "Rishi Nur" holds a very high place. His way of conversion was through deceit.
Such is the story of Sufism that which is considered as the epitome of secular fabric of this nation.
'' When people hurt you Over and Over think of them as Sand paper.They Scratch & hurt you, but in the end you are polished and they are finished. ''"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great ones make you feel that you too, can become great."- Mark Twain.