History of Hindu- Muslim conflict in India
India has long history of battle among Hindu- Muslim, the two largest religions of South Asia, yet few knows about how it originated. The stigma carried against these two religious groups is far more complex and critical. People around the world had witnessed Asian genocides, especially the ones in India mainly due to religious conflict, be it about 1947 partition or 1984 Sikh genocide. Few academics argue that the very religious identities of Hindus and Muslims in south Asia were ignited by the British Raj and as such the further discord among these two religious groups was a function or an outcome of their policies. But it cannot be ignored that though, the British ignited the difference, the seed of dispute was laid decades ago. Hindu and Muslim was not a topic of concern before 1398. What’s that history? Let’s take a look around!
Conflict among Hindu- Muslim in India
“The Islamic conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. It is a discouraging tale, for its evident moral is that civilization is a precious good, whose delicate complex of order and freedom, culture and peace, can at any moment be overthrown by barbarians invading from without or multiplying within.” – The Story of Civilization: Our Oriental Heritage.
This statement by Will Durant makes us wonder the Islamic invasion in India was crude and brutal, but is that the complete story? Muslims came to India in around 12th century through the Turkic invasions, but the credit mostly implies on Mughal invasion in the nation. The Cheraman Juma Masjid, the first mosque of India, was built in 629 in Kerala, by the first Muslim from India that is Cheraman Perumal Bhaskara Ravi Varma. So, according to this theory small portion of Indian subcontinent were turning towards Islam long before the Mughal’s invaded. Till this time, though India was becoming a multi religious country, no conflict were noticed or recorded among the two groups and both lived in harmony. It is often said in many texts that, “at the village level… Hindus and Muslims shared a wide spectrum of customs and beliefs, at times even jointly worshiping the same saint or holy spot.” However that’s the different history!
The conflict began when Mughal rulers started attacking Indian states and capturing their female enemies as a part of souvenir for their victory. They slaughtered, ruled and started forcefully spreading Islam over the country. But on the contrary, Hindu kings too were doing the same, if not completely then partially. It is not 100% true, but some historians believe that this continues battle of winning states, laid the seed of Hindu Muslim dispute in the country. These battles were normal and did happened between Hindu- Hindu kings and vice versa, but it is a part of human psychology that things gets complex when there is a conflict between ideologies and not borders. There is another theory which relates the topic with the rise of jihad in India which is credited to the Mughal king Babur, the man who took Jihad to its peak in the country. Babur proclaimed Jihad during his battle against Rana Sanga and Medini Rai, a time when he massacred thousands of the Rajputs and took the title of ‘Ghazi’. He also scrapped Tamgha from the Muslims only to construct a mosque at Ayodhya, the Babri Masjid. It is argued that however Babur espoused these methods only to inspire his Muslim soldiers at the times of war and his objective sounds more political than religious.
The head of Tughlaq dynasty, Firuz Shah Tughlaq too has his share in this dispute, who imposed his Islamic beliefs on non-Muslims who were declared agnostic under his rule. He restored and imposed the meticulous religious tax that was called Jizya and made it compulsory for non-Muslims civilians to pay a yearly tariff or fear prosecution. But even during such crude dictatorships, Hindus and Muslims in the country lived with peace among each other and very few conflict were seen at the ground level during such periods. In fact, though there were kings like Firuz Shah Tughlaq or Raghoji I Bhonsle, there also was time when the country witnessed kings like Aram Shah and Maharana Pratap. Kings like Akbar and several others maintained peace with Brahmins and monks, and Muslims served important roles in the armies of Hindu kings like the one from Vijayanagara, Mysore, and also the Maratha Empire. Therefore, the dispute among Hindus and Muslims in India is nobody’s fault, but a natural consequence of the disclosure of amassed political culture. Though there was peace, but the ideologies on which both the religions was build was totally different. The major reason for this conflict is because Hindu- Muslim in the country have utilized and drawn different references when drawing upon history to persuasively articulate their socio-political aim and the modern ideologies.
The game changer came in the form of British Raj who somehow identified this seed and ignited the dispute by their ‘Divide and Rule’ policy. The Britisher’s started promoting Muslim minority in the country and laid the foundation of Hindu hatred over the same. During this time the country recorded highest numbers of Hindu- Muslim conflicts. One can also argue the most lasting impact of Islam in India and is country’s partitioning by Jinnah and his unit in 1947. A time when Mahatma Gandhi’s vision was distorted apart in a bloody partition by our own forefathers.
Religious faiths and the threat to humanity
We live in a society raised in prejudice which is based on global pandemic of fear and these fears are justified. Today we live in a world with more walls, barriers and security only due to the religious conflict surrounding our beliefs. Wars, bombing or attacks in various part of the globe reside over the prejudice of religious conflict. The basic idea behind any religion of the world is to bring harmony and peace, we say and further emphasize that no religion, clearly no religion on the globe bears the bloody hand of terror we are facing in the modern 21st century. It is our ideologies, the one forced by our so called leaders are becoming a threat to humanity which is surviving on tribalism and xenophobia! And as an outcome we have suicide bombers, sleeper cells, open terrorism, a mankind burning in flames of hatred and glorification of sufferings.
Suppressing religious leaders still exist in the country and when we talk about rise of Hindu- Muslim conflict, many of us just don’t accept this. Why? Because nobody actually cares unless and until they are facing these things on their personal grounds. People are fully aware of this fact yet they see it as a religious affair rather than a serious moral threat! It is time to rise against such detriments and establish new morals that will shape the future of this country for the betterment of our own kind.