Journey of Indian Muslims’ ancestors to slavery and consequently to Islam. Must read for every Muslim to know how the legacy of Islam was handed over to native Indians.
This article is contributed by Rushmore, active volunteer of Agniveer.
In the previous article http://agniveer.com/who-are-indian-muslims-2/ we showed that all the Muslims of Indian subcontinent are descendants of Hindu ancestors. We also discussed how butchers from Arab and Central Asia invaded India, killed and converted Hindu ancestors of today’s Muslims to Islam. In this article we will show from Islamic sources the circumstances in which Hindu forefathers of subcontinent Muslims had to become slaves of Muslims first and then ultimately Muslims at the end.
Slavery formed a key component of the Islamic invasions to India. It is one thing for combatants to be killed on the battlefield or being taken as a prisoner of war. But slavery, during Islamic invasions to India, entered the arena of cities, towns and villages that were sacked by the invading Islamic armies. The enslaved men/women/children had to embrace Islam but that was no guarantee for freedom, as, these people ended up in slave markets in Arab lands, where they were purchased for a price and this price was another source to fill the coffers of the Islamic invaders.
Here is what is recorded in Farishtah (when Kalinjar was sacked by Aibak in 1202) – “fifty thousand kaniz va ghulam, having suffered slavery, were rewarded with the honour of Islam.” It is seen in Masalik-ul-Absar about Muhammad Tughlaq – “The Sultan never ceases to show the greatest zeal in making war upon infidels… Everyday thousands of slaves are sold at a very low price, so great is the number of prisoners.” Similarly Ibn Battutah records – “At (one) time there arrived in Delhi some female infidel captives, ten of whom the Vazir sent to me. I gave one of them to the man who had brought them to me, but he was not satisfied. My companion took three young girls, and I do not know what happened to the rest.”
He further writes that during the celebration of Id in the court of Muhammad bin Tughlaq, daughters of Hindu Rajas and those of commoners, captured during the course of the year were distributed among nobles (?), officers and important visitors from Arabia. “On the fourth day men slaves are married and on the fifth slave-girls. On the sixth day men and women slaves are married off.”
Slave taking by Islamic kings was a passionate act. And two Islamic invaders stand head and shoulders above the rest in this passion for slave taking. Mulfuzat-i-Timuri records that Timur Lane enslaved almost 100,000 people and of course we all know what happened to these slaves by the time Timur Lane went home. And the other passionate slave taker happens to be Mahmud Ghaznavi.
Utbi records that when Mahmoud attacked Punjab in 1014 – “slaves were so plentiful that they became very cheap; and men of respectability in their native land (India) were degraded by becoming slaves of common shop-keepers (in Ghazni).” Similarly, it is recorded in Farishtah (the year 1015 now) – “the Muhammadan army brought to Ghazni 200,000 captives so that the capital appeared like an Indian city, for every soldier of the army had several slaves and slave girls” Can you imagine, a normal free Hindu ending up as a slave in a Godforsaken place like Ghazni?
Slavery was a systematic enterprise in the Islamic scheme of things. Babur writes in his Memoirs that “there are two trade-marts on the land-route between Hindustan and Khurasan; one is Kabul, the other, Qandhar. (Route to Kabul was from Lahore, to Qandhar from Multan)… Down to Kabul every year …from Hindustan, come every year caravans… bringing slaves (barda)”
Now we move to the topic of sex slavery during Islamic invasions to India. The special interest of Muslims in sex slavery was universal and widespread and a plethora of evidence is available in contemporary Persian chronicles. In fact, Muslim historians derive extra delight in narrating anecdotes and stating facts about Muslim indulgence in sex and allied activities. But here is an incident that illuminates the way enslaved women were bounced around in the household of Islamic invaders.
Deval Devi was the daughter of Raja Karan Baghela of Gujarat and his queen Kamala Devi. Kamala Devi was captured in the sack of Gujarat (1299), and married by Alauddin Khalji. According to the Islamic law, slave women could be married to Muslims even while their husbands were alive for marriage is annulled by captivity. (this dictum can be seen in Muir, Life of Mahomet & in the book called Dictionary Of Islam).
Later on her daughter Deval Devi was also captured in another campaign (1308) and brought to Delhi. There she was married to Alauddin’s son Khizr Khan, against her will. After the assassination of Khizr Khan in the politics of succession, she was taken as a concubine by Qutbuddin Mubarak Khalji (1316-20). With the murder of Qutbuddin at the hands of Khusrau Khan she was taken into the latter’s harem.
In short, this princess was treated as nothing more than a transferable property in the Khalji ruling house. If this was the status of a princess belonging to a felled Hindu king, we can imagine the plight of the ordinary Hindu women that were enslaved by Islamic invaders and taken to their harems. It is for this reason that “Jauhar” of Hindu women (usually led by the surviving women folk of the felled Hindu king) started becoming a standard practice.
In Manucci II (336 – 38), we can also see the common Muslim names that enslaved Hindu little girls were given and upon attaining puberty they became concubines of the Islamic king that enslaved them. Here are a few names – Gulab, Champa, Chameli, Nargis, Kesar, Gul-i-Badam, Sosan, Yasmin, Gul-i-Rana, Gul Andam, Gul Anar, Saloni, Sugandhara, Koil, Gulrang, Mehndi, Dil Afroz etc. And I do not even want to touch the topic of enslavement and the treatment meted out to hijras and amrads (beardless boys) by the Islamic invaders.
Before someone can jump to a conclusion that Islamic invader of every shade just walked and enslaved people, it is worth to remember that unlike what happened in Spain or North Africa, or Syria or Persia, every wave of Islamic invasion was met with severe resistance from Hindus. We will deal with this topic separately but we are branching off to a slightly different topic.
Did Islam liberate “lower caste” Hindus from the clutches of caste system? Did these people leave Hinduism and accept Islam wishfully?
It is often said by the apologists of these slave takers that but for the Muslim rulers, the peasants would have continued to whither under caste system and that the light of Islam saved the day and many peasants “embraced” Islam. We will see the hollowness of this claim through Islamic sources now.
During Islamic invasions, the peasants scared by the prospect of enslavement, and finding the treatment by the government unbearable, sometimes left the fields and fled into the jungles. Often vanquished Rajas and aggrieved Zamindars also retired into the forests and organized resistance from there against Muslim rulers. In this confrontation Zamindars played the role of leaders and the peasants joined under their banner.
In the early period some angry rulers like Balban and Muhammad bin Tughlaq hunted down these escapists in the jungles like wild beasts. Muhammad Tughlaq was very keen on enslaving people and converting them to Islam. The flight of peasants sent him into fits of rage. When Hindus organized armed resistance armed peasants provided contingents to Baheliya, Bhadauriya, Bachgoti, Mandahar and Tomar Rajputs in the earlier period of Hindu resistance against Isalmic invasions & to Jats, Marathas and Sikhs in the later periods. Thus labeling Islam as liberator of any Hindu group is utter foolishness. Period.
What peaceful (?) Sufis had to say about this great Islamic tradition of slavery?
The likes of Amir Khusrau (who is believed to be a peaceful Sufi!) & Ziyauddin Barani opined – “the Muslims dominated the infidels. “But the latter fortify themselves in mountains… (and uneven and rugged places) as well in bamboo groves which serve them as ramparts.” It is also recorded in Babar Nama (Babar upon arriving in Agra states) – “neither grain for ourselves nor corn for our horse, was to be had. The villagers, out of hostility, and hatred to us had taken to thieving and highway-robbery; there was no moving on the roads… All the inhabitants (khalaiq) had run away.” Similarly, it can be found in Mulfuzat-i-Timuri – “The defence of the people, consists of woods and forests and trees, which interweaving with stem and branch, render it very difficult to penetrate the country… (where) landlords and princes… who inhabit fastnesses in those forests… live there like wild beasts.”
The forest dwellers that left their villages to escape Islamic slavery, suffered untold miseries. Still they had the satisfaction of being able to preserve their freedom. But all victims of aggression were not so lucky. Many groups and individuals could not escape from the clutches of the Muslim invaders and tyranny of their rulers; they used to be captured and enslaved. So that from the days of Muhammad bin Qasim in the seventh century to those of Ahmad Shah Abdali in the eighteenth, enslavement and distribution and sale of captives was systematically carried on by Muslim conquerors and rulers.
A Sufi of the stature of Amir Khusrau wrote in the Ashiqa: “Had not the law granted exemption from death by the payment of poll-tax, the very name of Hindu, root and branch, would have been extinguished.” A few years later he asserted that “the Turks, whenever they please, can seize, buy, or sell any Hindu.”
If this was the mindset of the ruling elite as expressed by the famous Sufi, the slave taking practice of Islamic invaders needs no further ads.
The key is that Islamic invaders to India took the practice of slavery to a whole new level that was unmatched before and after. And today many Muslims in India do not know or are willfully glossing over the past, where, someone in their lineage was enslaved by Islamic invasions and they ended up as a Muslim due to that lineage. This should not surprise us as Sultan Sikandar Lodi’s Mother was a Hindu that was enslaved by senior Lodi but he became a Muslim bigot. Sultan Sikandar Lodi’s Mother Zeba was originally a Hindu by the name of Hema a.k.a Amba. Bahlul Lodi was attracted by her beauty while he was governor of Sarhind. He forcefully married her after ascending the throne of Delhi. But she could not stop her son from slaughtering Hindus – like Father, like son.
We will discuss in the next article yet another factor that played a vital role in Islamization of India, i.e. Jizya (money that infidels had to pay to Muslim rulers for being infidels)
We will discuss in the next article yet another factor that played a vital role in Islamization of India, i.e. Jizya (money that infidels had to pay to Muslim rulers for being infidels).