Islam Reached India through Arab Traders rather than Invaders

cheraman juma masjid
Cheraman Juma Masjid in Kodungalloor

Islam’s diffusion towards India occurred due to Arab Traders rather than Invaders as imagined by the RSS ideologue, Mohan Baghwat in his latest statement. This is substantially substantiated by the building up of the first mosque by these Arabs in Kodungallur (modern Kerala which had nothing in common with what came to be called India after the British arrival) in the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and much before Mohammad Bin Qasim’s forays into Sindh, a separate polity which became a part of Indian entity that was essentially conceptualized and built by the British for their own commercial and political interests.

It may be also remembered that Arab invasion was facilitated by the anti-trade activists (pirates) who had infested the maritime
routes like termites. They had even dared to kidnap some Arab women travelling from Sri Lanka to Arbia. Before Sindh, the Arabs had already reached Makran and Balochistan as well.

The narrative that Muslims in India were religious invaders from outside had stemmed essentially from the political strategy and divide and rule policy devised by the British to bring India under their sway. They engaged scholars and historians to develop such strategies to help the authorities to build up a narrative that could be used in fueling and exploiting the most subjective interpretation of medieval historical literature. A lot of money went into this research which ultimately pointed to what the British desired, enabling them, thus, to let the proselytization of Hindu hatred against Muslim rulers percolate down the streets systematically and profusely. Historical links of a common Eurasian ancestry of the British with the Hindus established by these scholars made the East India Company to boast proudly that they were duty bound to protect the Hindu interests, trumpeting themselves as saviours of Hindu culture whom providence had brought to India to rescue her people of grave historical burdens and injustices perpetrated on them over centuries by the Muslim autocratic tyrants. They were, thus, obligated to rectify the wrongs done to her in the past by avenging the insults heaped on her– by Mohammed Bin Qasim, a Muslim “bigot” and invader– and guarding her against being completely swayed and overwhelmed by Islamic theocracy and Sharia laws.

The historians tasked for the job claimed to have delved deeper into the old records and, thereby, unearthed what they decried as historical malice against Hindus. Their conclusions were published to flare up identity politics and play one community against the other. Ellenborough, the then Governor-General of the East India Company was the foremost who vowed to do whatever it took to purge the Hindu ethos of its Muslim influence. He portrayed the British arrival in India as an effective challenge to Muslim identity and thought. He even claimed to have brought back the “gates of Somnath” temple once carried by Mohammed Ghaznavi . In his declaration of 1842 to “all Princes and Chiefs of India”, he announced that the return of the so called spoiled remains of the temple to India avenged “the insult of 800 years…the gates of the temple of Somnath, so long the memorial of your humiliation, are become the proudest record of your national glory”. ( it is a “sad reminder of historical lies of the East India Company” ASI).

Thus was set in motion a savage scuffle between Hindus and Muslims which gradually turned into a battle of civilizations that is now being fought with a fury never seen before. Those who question this unfolding phenomenon are suppressed and even threatened to be set on fire says the latest victim, Prof. Mohan Dutta of Massey University, Newzeland, who dared to question this trend. He writes:

“I am feeling threatened enough to think, how are we going to publish our next pieces of work?” Dutta said. “The kind of antics [that are] silencing voices of academics in India, we’re starting to see similar threats now in other parts of the world, in Western democracies.”

Dr Abdul Ahad is an author and historian

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