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The Status of Hindus in an Islamic State

Now I can take up the next NCERT guideline, namely, that historians cannot identify Muslims as rulers and Hindus as subjects, and that the state in medieval India under Muslim rule cannot be described as a theocracy without examining the role of religion in political conflicts.

I will take up the second half of this guideline first.

The modern apologists of Islam have been trying to rescue this ‘religion’ from its macabre record as presented by the medieval Muslim historians. Firstly, they accuse the medieval historians of gross exaggeration. Secondly, they blame the Turks for barbarities committed in the name of Islam. The third pillar of this apologetics is to present as politically motivated the dismal deeds which the medieval historians regarded as religiously inspired.

An Example of Islamic Apologetics

I have already analysed the first two approaches. An example will illustrate the third approach. M. Nazim writes in his well-known monograph, The Life and Times of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazna: ‘The critics who accuse the Sultan of wanton bloodshed and reckless spoliation of Hindu temples forget that these so-called barbarities were committed in the course of legitimate warfare, when such acts are sanctioned by the practices of all the great conquerors of the world. Spoils captured from the defeated enemy have always been considered lawful property of the victorious army. In India, however, wealth was accumulated not only in the coffers of the kings, as in other countries, but also in the vaults of the temples, which were consecrated in the service of various deities. The consequence was that, while elsewhere the capture of the defeated monarch’s treasury usually gratified the conqueror’s lust for mammon, in India temples were also ransacked to secure the piles of gold and precious stones in them. The religious considerations rarely carry weight with a conqueror, and the Sultan does not appear to have been influenced by them in his schemes of conquest.’ (emphasis added).

Nazim has a similar explanation for Hindu hostility to Islam. It is an essay in philosophy and sociology, as he understands them. He writes: ‘Some critics hold that a ‘burning hatred for Islam was created in the Hindu mind because Islam was presented in the guise of plundering armies.’ This view, however, is not convincing. The Hindus rejected Islam as their national religion because of the fundamental and irreconcilable differences between Islam and Hinduism. Islam with its definite articles of faith, could not appeal to the average Hindu to whom religion had never meant any specified set of doctrines. To regard an idol as a helpless piece of stone instead of a source of life and death, and to believe in one Omnipotent God instead of myriads of deities each one of which could be played against the other, was diametrically opposed to Hindu ways of thinking. To this fundamental difference was added the hostility of the Brahmin, whose keen eye must have foreseen that the propagation of democratic principles of Islam would undoubtedly bring about a social revolution and break-down of the caste system on which depended his own exclusive privileges. The Brahmins, therefore, as a class must have thrown the whole weight of their position against the spread of Islam. Besides this, hatred of change inherent in the Hindu mind would in any case have offered strong though passive resistance to the onward march of Islam.’ (emphasis added).

I am not commenting on the contradictions, prevarications, pretensions, and plain lies contained in these lines from a ‘learned historian’ whose monograph was published by a prestigious British publisher. I am sure the readers will see for themselves the sheer scoundrelism of this apologetics. What I want to show in these quotations is the mind which the secularists in India have swallowed - hook, line, and sinker. It is this mind which our secularists have been cultivating over the years. And I am absolutely sure that the NCERT is out to patronise this mind.

Poison in the Core of Islam

What are the facts?

The seed is sown by the Kalimah - there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the prophet. This is not a religious precept which may be verified by spiritual experience, or referred to any system of logic. It is a purely political pronouncement which divides mankind into mu’mins and kafirs, like the Communist division of people into ‘progressives’ and ‘reactionaries’, or the Nazi division of them into ‘superior’ and ‘inferior’ races.

Next, the Quran calls upon the mu’mins ‘to fight them till not a trace of unbelief is left’, or ‘to fight those who do not profess the true faith till they pay jizyah with the hand in humility’, or to ‘cut their throats wherever you find them’, or you are no prophet until ‘you have made a great slaughter amongst them’. This is called jihad (glorified as holy war) which is as fundamental a tenet of Islam as the Kalimah, namaz, rozah, hajj, and zakat.

The Hadis and the four ‘pious’ Khalifas elaborated the principles which are to be applied in jihad against those who do not accept Islam nor agree to pay jizyah. The infidel males capable of bearing arms are to be massacred; the infidel women and children are to be enslaved; the movable properties of the infidels are to be plundered; their lands are to be expropriated; their places of worship are to be destroyed; their priests and monks are to be killed and their scriptures burnt.

Those who agree to pay jizyah are to be treated as zimmis who are allowed to live and work for the Islamic state under the following 20 disabilities: (1) they are not to build any new places of worship; (2) they are not to repair any old places of worship which have been destroyed by the Muslims; (3) they are not to prevent Muslim travellers from staying in their places of worship; (4) they are to entertain for three days any Muslim who wants to stay in their homes, and for a longer period if the Muslim falls ill; (5) they are not to harbour any hostility towards the Islamic state, or give any aid and comfort to hostile elements; (6) they are not to prevent any one of them from getting converted to Islam; (7) they have to show respect towards every Muslim; (8) they have to allow Muslims to participate in their private meetings; (9) they are not to dress like Muslims; (10) they are not to name themselves with Muslim names; (11) they are not to ride on horses with saddle and bridle; (12) they are not to possess arms; (13) they are not to wear signet rings or seals on their fingers; (14) they are not to sell or drink liquor openly; (15) they are to wear a distinctive dress which shows their inferior status, and which separates them from the Muslims; (16) they are not to propagate their customs and usages amongst the Muslims; (17) they are not to build their houses in the neighbourhood of Muslims; (18) they are not to bring their dead near the graveyards of the Muslims; (19) they are not to observe their religious practices publicly, or mourn their dead loudly; and (20) they are not to buy Muslim slaves.

The ‘law’ of Islam also prescribes death penalty for those who (1) question the exclusive claim of Islam as the only true religion, and of Muhammad as the last prophet; (2) try to revert to their ancestral faith after having been forced or lured to embrace Islam; and (3) marry Muslim women without first getting converted to Islam. Non-Muslims are also discriminated against in matters of testimony in law courts, taxation, and appointment to public offices. To sum up, the status of non-Muslims in an Islamic state is that of hewers of wood and drawers of water. They are subjected to every possible indignity and pressure in order to force them into the fold of Islam.

Debate Over ‘Islam or Death’

When an Islamic state was established over parts of northern India, the Ulama raised a great controversy. By now the interpreters of Islamic law had become divided into four schools - Hanafi, Hanbali, Maliki, and Shafii. The Hanafi school alone was in favour of extending the status of zimmis to the Hindus. The other three schools were insistent that the only choice the Hindus had was between Islam and death. Ziyauddin Barani voiced his opinion against the Hanafi school when he wrote as follows in his Fatwa-i-Jahandari: ‘If Mahmud  had gone to India once more, he would have brought under his sword all the Brahmans of Hind who, in that vast land, are the cause of the continuance of the laws of infidelity and of the strength of idolators; he would have cut off the heads of two or three hundred thousand Hindu chiefs. He would not have returned his Hindu-slaughtering sword to its scabbard until the whole of Hind had accepted Islam. For Mahmud was a Shafiite, and according to Imam Shafii the decree for Hindus is Islam or death, that is to say, they should either be put to death or accept Islam. It is not lawful to accept jiziya from Hindus who have neither a prophet nor a revealed book.’

Shykh Nuruddin Mubarak Ghaznavi was the most important disciple of Shykh Shihabuddin Suhrawardi, founder of the second most important sufi silsila after the Chishtiyya, who died in Baghdad in 1235 AD. Ghaznavi had come and settled down in India where he passed away in 1234-35 AD. He served as Shykh-ul-Islam in the reign of Shamsuddin Iltutmish (AD 1210-1236), and propounded the doctrine of Din Panahi. Barani quotes the first principle of this doctrine as follows in his Tarikh-i-Firuzshahi. ‘The kings should protect the religion of Islam with sincere faith  And kings will not be able to perform the duty of protecting the Faith unless, for the sake of God and the Prophet’s creed, they overthrow and uproot kufr and kafiri (infidelity), shirk (setting partners to God) and the worship of idols. But if the total uprooting of idolatry is not possible owing to the firm roots of kufr and the large number of kafirs and mushriks (infidels and idolaters), the kings should at least strive to insult, disgrace, dishonour and defame the mushrik and idol-worshipping Hindus, who are the worst enemies of God and the Prophet. The symptom of the kings being the protectors of religion is this:- When they see a Hindu, their eyes grow red and they wish to bury him alive; they also desire to completely uproot the Brahmans, who are the leaders of kufr and shirk and owning to whom kufr and shirk are spread and the commandments of kufr are enforced  Owing to the fear and terror of the kings of Islam, not a single enemy of God and the Prophet can drink water that is sweet or stretch his legs on his bed and go to sleep in peace.’ (emphasis added; read Allah for God).

Amir Khusru, the dearest disciple of Nizamuddin Awliya and supposed to be the pioneer of Secularism in India by India’s secularist historians, echoed the same opinion when he wrote as follows in his Khazain-ul-Futuh also known as the Tarikh-i-Alai: ‘The whole country by means of the sword of our holy warriors has become like a forest denuded of its thorns by fire. The land has been saturated by the waters of the sword, and the vapours of infidelism [Hinduism] have been dispersed. The strong men of Hind have been trodden under foot, and all are ready to pay tribute. Islam is triumphant, idolatry is subdued. Had not the law (of Hanifa) granted exemption from death by the payment of jiziya, the very name of Hind, root and branch, would have been extinguished.’

The Muslim monarchs, however, knew better. They did not live in a fool’s paradise like the mullahs and the sufis. The exponents of the ‘law’ of Islam lived amidst leisure and luxury in towns protected by Islamic armies. They could very well afford to blow any amount of hot air about the ‘beauties’ of their ‘religion’. The Muslim monarchs, on the other hand, had to live mostly on the battlefields, and could feel in their guts the power equations of a situation in which they had to wage a constant war against stiff Hindu resistance and repeated reassertion of Hindu independence. They had discovered very soon that Hindus hated Islam as a system of black barbarism, and would fight rather than submit to this criminal creed. Moreover, they needed the Hindus for doing work which the mullahs, or the sufis, or the swordsmen of Islam were neither equipped for nor inclined to do - agriculture, commerce, industry, book keeping scavenging, and so on. No wonder the Muslim monarchs fell for the Hanafi school of Islamic ‘law’ as soon as it was expounded to them, not because they liked this school but simply because they had no other choice. They recognized the Hindus as zimmis, imposed jizyah and other disabilities on them, and reduced them, wherever they could, to the status of hewers of wood and drawers of water.

The mullahs and the sufis howled at this ‘sacrilege’. Barani mourned: ‘Should the king consider the payment of a few tankas by way of jiziya as sufficient justification for their allowing all possible freedom to the infidels to observe and demonstrate all orders and detail of infidelity, to read the misleading literature of their faith, and to propagate their teachings, how could the true religion get the upper hand over other religions, and how could the emblems of Islam be held high? How will the true faith prevail if rulers allow the infidels to keep their temples, adorn their idols, and to make merry during their festivals with beating of drums and dhols, singing and dancing?’

The State of Hindu Society

But Barani and his likes were being unfair to the Muslim monarchs who were trying their best to serve Islam, under the circumstances. They were also painting far too rosy a picture of the condition of Hindu society in areas where the Islamic state had secured a stranglehold. Of course, the Hindus were singing and dancing in those parts of their motherland where their Rajas had retained or regained independence. But in areas controlled by the Muslim monarchs, Hindus had been turned into dumb driven cattle, always at the mercy of the meanest Muslim. Barani himself writes: ‘Sultan Alauddin (Khalji) demanded from learned men rules and regulations, so that the Hindu could be ground down and property and possession, which are the cause of disaffection and rebellion, could not remain in his house.’ One of these ‘learned men’ was Qazi Mughisuddin. He advocated very stern measures and advised: ‘If the revenue collector spits into a Hindu’s mouth, the Hindu should open his mouth to receive it without hesitation.’

Alauddin Khalji raised the land revenue to one-half of the gross produce. He imposed a grazing tax on all milch cattle and a house-tax. Barani himself reports: ‘The people were brought to such a state of obedience that one revenue officer would string twelve khuts, muqaddams and chaudharies (all Hindus) together by the neck and enforce payment by blows.’ Hindus were so much impoverished that their wives had to work as servants in Muslim houses. Next came Alauddin’s market regulations which our secularists and the All India Radio have been hailing as ‘the first experiment in socialism in India’s history’. The peasants, who were Hindus, were ordered to sell their grains to the merchants at arbitrarily fixed prices. The merchants, who were also Hindus, were forced to sell this grain to the State, again at arbitrarily fixed prices which hardly left any margin of profit. There was so much grain stored in state godowns that Ibn Battutah who visited Delhi 18 years after Alauddin’s death, ate rice which had been procured during Alauddin’s reign. The Hindu merchants had to procure all sorts of merchandise from areas where there was no fixation of prices. But the prices at which they had to sell to the state were fixed without any reference to costs involved. And the merchants had to keep their wives and children as hostages at the capital to ensure that they brought regular supplies. This was expropriation, pure and simple, under conditions from which there was no escape except death.

Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq issued an ordinance which proclaimed that ‘there should be left only so much to the Hindus that neither on the one hand they should become intoxicated on account of their wealth, nor on the other should they become so destitute as to leave their lands and cultivation in despair’. His son, Muhammad bin Tughlaq, enhanced the land revenue in a very steep manner. Barani reports: ‘The taxation in the Doab was increased ten and twenty times and the royal officials consequently created such abwabs or cesses and collected them with such rigour that the ryots were reduced to impotence, poverty and ruin  Thousands of people perished, and when they tried to escape, the Sultan led expeditions to various places and hunted them like wild beasts.’ Ibn Battutah who visited Delhi during Muhammad bin Tughlaq’s reign, reports in his Rehla an Id celebration in the Sultan’s palace: ‘Then enter the musicians, the first batch being the daughters of the infidel rajas captured in war that year. They sing and dance, and the Sultan gives them away to his amirs and aizza. Then come the other daughters of the infidels who sing and dance, and the Sultan gives them away to his relations, his brothers-in-law and the malik’s sons.’ At a later date, ‘there arrived in Delhi some female infidel captives, ten of whom the vazir sent to me’. Again, the Sultan sent to the emperor of China ‘one hundred male slaves and one hundred slave songstresses and dancers from among the Indian infidels’. He also reports how the Muslim commandant of Alapur ‘would fall upon the infidels and would kill them or take them prisoner’. The scoundrel was killed by the Hindus one day. His slaves fell upon Alapur, and ‘they put its male population to the sword and made the womenfolk prisoner and seized everything in it.’

Firuz Shah Tughlaq organised an industry out of catching slaves. Shams-i-Siraj Afif writes in his Tarikh-i-Firuz Shahi: ‘The Sultan commanded his great fief-holders and officers to capture slaves whenever they were at war (that is, suppressing Hindu rebellions), and to pick out and send the best for the service of the court. The chiefs and officers naturally exerted themselves in procuring more and more slaves and a great number of them were thus collected. When they were found to be in excess, the Sultan sent them to important cities  It has been estimated that in the city and in the various fiefs, there were 1,80,000 slaves  The Sultan created a separate department with a number of officers for administering the affairs of these slaves.’

Firuz Shah beat all previous records in his treatment of the Hindus. He himself writes in his Futuhat-i-Firuz Shahi: ‘The Hindus and idol worshippers had agreed to pay the money for toleration (zar-i-zimmiya), and had consented to the poll-tax (jiziya) in return for which they and their families enjoyed security. These people now erected new idol temples in the city and in the environs in opposition to the law of the Prophet which declares that such temples are not to be tolerated. Under divine guidance I destroyed these edifices, and killed those leaders of infidelity who seduced others into error, and the lower orders I subjected to stripes and chastisement, until this abuse was entirely abolished. The following is an instance. In the village of Maluh there is a tank which they call kund. Here they had built idol temples and on certain days the Hindus were accustomed to proceed thither on horseback, and wearing arms. Their women and children also went out in palankins and carts. There they assembled in thousands and performed idol-worship. The abuse had been so overlooked that the bazar people took out there all sorts of provisions and set up stalls and sold their goods  When intelligence of this came to my ears, my religious feelings prompted me at once to put a stop to this scandal and offence to the religion of Islam. On the day of the assembling I went there in person, and I ordered that the leaders of these people and the promoters of this abomination should be put to death  I destroyed their idol temples, and instead thereof raised mosques.’

He records another instance in which Hindus who had built new temples were butchered before the gate of his palace, and their books, images, and vessels of Worship were publicly burnt. According to him ‘this was a warning to all men that no zimmi could follow such wicked practices in a Musulman country’. Afif reports yet another case in which a Brahmin of Delhi was accused of ‘publicly performing idol-worship in his house and perverting Mohammedan women leading them to become infidels’. The Brahmin ‘was tied hand and foot and cast into a burning pile of faggots’. The historian who witnessed this scene himself expresses his satisfaction by saying, ‘Behold the Sultan’s strict adherence to law and rectitude, how he would not deviate in the least from its decrees.’

Sikandar Lodi’s ‘empire’ was much smaller than that of Firuz Shah Tughlaq. But he enforced the ‘law’ of Islam with no less zeal. A typical case of his reign is recorded by Abdulla in his Tarikhi-i-Daudi: ‘It is related in the Akbar Shahi that there came a Brahman by name Bodhan who had asserted one day in the presence of Musulmans that Islam was true, as was also his own religion. This speech of his was aired abroad, and came to the ears of the ulema  Azam Humayun, the governor of that district, sent the Brahman into the king’s presence at Sambal. Sultan Sikander  summoned all the wise men of note from every quarter  After investigating the matter, the ulema determined that he should be imprisoned and converted to Islam, or suffer death, and since the Brahman refused to apostatize he was accordingly put to death by the decree of the ulema. The Sultan after rewarding the learned casuists, gave them permission to depart.’

Hindu records of what the ‘law’ of Islam meant to the Hindus are few and far between. But whenever they are available, they confirm the medieval Muslim historians. Gangadevi the wife of Kumar Kampana (died 1374 AD) of Vijayanagara writes as follows in her Madhuravijayam regarding the state of things in the Madurai region when it was under Muslim rule: ‘The wicked mlechchas pollute the religion of the Hindus every day. They break the images of gods into pieces and throw away the articles of worship. They throw into fire Srimad Bhagwat and other holy scriptures, forcibly take away the conchshell and bell of the Brahmanas, and lick the sandal paints on their bodies. They urinate like dogs on the tulsi plant and deliberately pass faeces in the Hindu temples. They throw water from their mouths on the Hindus engaged in worship, and harass the Hindu saints as if they were so many lunatics let large.’

Chaitanya-mañgala, a biography of the great Vaishnava saint of medieval India, presents the plight of Hindus in Navadvipa on the eve of the saint’s birth in 1484 AD. The author, Jayananda, writes: ‘The king seizes the Brahmanas, pollutes their caste and even takes their lives. If a conch-shell is heard to blow in any house, its owner is made to forfeit his wealth, caste and even life. The king plunders the houses of those who wear sacred threads on the shoulder and put scared marks on the forehead, and then binds them. He breaks the temples and uproots tulsi plants  The bathing in Ganga is prohibited and hundreds of scared asvattha and jack trees have been cut down.’

Vijaya Gupta wrote a poem in praise of Husain Shah of Bengal (1493-1519 AD). The two qazi brothers, Hasan and Husain, are typical Islamic characters in this poem. They had issued orders that any one who had a tulsi leaf on his head was to be brought to them bound hand and foot. He was then beaten up. The peons employed by the qazis tore away the sacred threads of the Brahmans and spat saliva in their mouths. One day a mullah drew the attention of these qazis to some Hindu boys who were worshipping Goddess Manasa and singing hymns to her. The qazis went wild, and shouted: ‘What! the haramzadah Hindus make so bold as to perform Hindu rituals in our village! The culprit boys should be seized and made outcastes by being forced to eat Muslim food.’ The mother of these qazis was a Hindu lady who had been forcibly married to their father. She tried to stop them. But they demolished the house of those Hindu boys, smashed the sacred pots, and threw away the puja materials. The boys had to run away to save their lives.

This was the state of things in those parts of India which were ruled by Muslim monarchs ever since Qutbuddin Aibak set up his first Islamic state in Delhi in 1206 AD. Punjab upto the Ravi and the whole of Sindh had passed under Muslim rule during the days of Mahmud Ghaznavi. Kashmir met the same fate early in the 14th century. If the state which treated the Hindus in such an abominable manner out of religious inspiration was not a theocracy, the NCERT ‘experts’ would have to redefine the concept of theocracy. In common parlance so far, theocracy has meant the dominance of a single creed over the state apparatus, and discrimination against those who do not subscribe to that creed. Scoundrels like M. Nazim and Hindu secularists who preside over our education and ‘national integration’, have tried to invent political explanations for measures which the Muslim monarchs adopted purely out of religious zeal. But in that case politics as well as religion miss their common parlance meanings, and become esoteric terms which scoundrels and secularists alone can decipher.

The Myth of Akbar

It is curious but true that the very historians who refuse to see the pre-Akbar period of Muslim rule as a nightmare for Hindus, hail Akbar as the harbinger of a dazzling dawn for the same Hindus. They point out as to how Akbar abolished the pilgrim tax and the jizyah, how he appointed Hindus to high positions, and how he extended to them this or that concession which they had not enjoyed earlier. One may very well ask these worthies that if these discriminatory taxes and disabilities did not exist earlier, how come you find Akbar freeing the Hindus from them? All that one is bound to get by way of an answer will be another bundle of casuistry.

There is no dearth of Hindu historians who heap Akbar with the choicest encomiums. Ashirbadi Lal Srivastava is a typical example. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru goes much further and proclaims Akbar as the father of Indian nationalism. A Hindu who takes all these high-sounding stories with a pinch of salt, is rather rare nowadays.

On the other hand, most Muslim historians and theologians frown upon Akbar as a villain in the history of Islam in India. Ishtiaq Husain Qureshi who believes that Hindus were far more happy under Muslim rule than under that of their own princes, accuses Akbar of jeopardising Pax Moslemaica by tempering with the established tenets of Muslim polity. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad has written that if Ahmad Sirhindi had not come to the rescue, Akbar had almost finished Islam in India. It is only in post-Independence India that some Muslim historians have come forward to present Akbar as the pioneer of Secularism in this country. But we know what Secularism means in Muslim mouths, particularly if the Muslim happens to be a Marxist as well. For them, Akbar is no more than a Muslim hero for Hindu consumption.

One has, therefore, to go to the original sources in order to find the truth about Akbar. The story which these sources tell can be summed up as follows:

  1. There was nothing Indian about Akbar except that he lived his life in India, fought his wars in India, built his empire in India, and dragged many Indian women into his harem. He knew nothing about India’s spiritual traditions, or India’s history, or India’s culture except for what he heard from some native sycophants who visited his court for very mundane reasons. No Hindu saint or scholar worth his salt cared to meet or educate him about things Indian. It was only some Jain munis who came close to him. But then Jain munis have always been in search of royal patronage like the Christian missionaries. Moreover, Akbar used these munis for influencing some Rajput princes who would have otherwise remained recalcitrant.

  2. Akbar was every inch an Islamic bandit from abroad who conquered a large part of India mainly on the strength of Muslim swordsmen imported from Central Asia and Persia. He took great pride in proclaiming that he was a descendant of Taimur and Babur, and longed to recover the homelands of his forefathers in Transoxiana. He continued to decorate his name with the Islamic honorific ghazi which he had acquired at the commencement of his reign by beheading the half-dead Himu. The wars he waged against the only resistant Hindu kingdoms - Mewar and Gondwana - had all the characteristics of classic jihad. Whenever he wanted to celebrate some happy event or seek blessing for some great undertaking - which was quite often - he went on a pilgrimage to the dargah of Muinuddin Chishti, the foremost symbol of Islam’s ceaseless war on Hindus and Hinduism. He sent rich gifts to many centres of Muslim pilgrimage including Mecca and Medina, and carried on negotiations with the Portuguese so that voyages by Muslim pilgrims could be facilitated. In his letters to the Sharifs of Mecca and the Uzbek king of Bukhara, he protested that he was not only a good Muslim but also a champion of Islam, and that the orthodox Ulama who harboured doubts about him did not understand his game of consolidating a strong and durable Islamic empire in India.

  3. The concessions which Akbar made to Hindus were not motivated by any benevolence towards Hindus or Hinduism on his part. He was out to win Hindu support in his fight with two inveterate foes of every Muslim empire-builder - the Muslim chieftains and the die-hard Ulama. Alauddin Khalji and Muhammad bin Tughlaq had faced the same foes earlier, but failed to overcome them because they could not break out of the closed circle of the foreign Muslim fraternity in India. Akbar succeeded in fixing both the foes because he tried a new method, and discovered very soon that it worked. He fixed the Muslim chieftains with the help of Rajput princes and their retinues. He fixed the Ulama partly by making them fall foul of each other in the Ibadat Khana, and partly by flirting with jogis and Jains munis and Christian missionaries in order to frighten them. They had nothing except royal patronage to fatten upon. There is no evidence that Akbar’s association with some spokesmen of rival religions was inspired by any sincere seeking on his part, or that the association improved his mind in any way. He remained a prisoner of Islamic thought-categories to the end of his days.

  4. Nor did he have to pay a heavy price for Hindu support. Fortunately for him, he started functioning at a time when Hindu resistance to Islamic imperialism stood at a low ebb except in small pockets like Mewar and Gondwana. Hindu resistance had been led so far by the Rajput princes. But numerous wars fought by them with Muslim marauders for several centuries had exhausted their manpower as well as material resources. Akbar discovered it very soon that he could buy Rajput help in exchange for a few gestures which might have sounded ominous to orthodox Islam at that time but which proved only superficial in the long run. In fact, when one comes to think of it all, Hindus had to pay a very heavy price for those gestures from Akbar. He demanded Hindu princesses for his harem, which meant surrender of Hindu honour. He employed Hindu warriors not only against Muslim rebels but also against Hindu freedom fighters, which meant prostitution of Hindu heroism. For all practical purposes, he made the Hindus wield the sword of Islam not only in his own lifetime but right upto our own times. The pecuniary loss suffered by the Islamic state due to abolition of the pilgrim tax and the jizyah was compensated more than many times by the consolidation of an Islamic empire with a streamlined revenue system such as extracted from the Hindu masses, particularly the peasantry, the heavy cost of extending that empire by means of numerous wars, maintaining Mughal pomp and pageantry, and building monuments like the Taj. By the end of the Mughal empire, Hindu masses stood reduced to the subsistence level.

  5. It was during the reign of Akbar that Muslim adventurers from many Islamic countries abroad started flocking towards India on an unprecedented scale, and made the Islamic establishment in the country stronger than ever before. They occupied all the top positions in the army as well as the administration of the Mughal empire. Statistics may be marshalled in order to show that Hindu share in government posts went on increasing till the time of Aurangzeb. But there is no gainsaying the fact that Hindu say in the policies of the Mughal empire went on decreasing from the days of Akbar’s immediate successor onwards. Even during the reign of Akbar, Muslim functionaries at the lower levels did not stop molesting Hindus in various ways normal to Islam. Many instances can be cited. Many a magnate in Akbar’s court were in close contact with the orthodox Ulama and Sufis led by Shykh Ahmad Sirhindi who went about saying publicly that Hindu should either be made to embrace Islam or treated like dogs. They came out into the open as soon as Akbar was dead, and their progeny continued to progress towards renewed power and prestige from the reign of Jahangir onwards till they again rose to the top under Aurangzeb.

It is true that the main fault lay with the Hindus for not being able to see through Akbar’s camouflage, and for helping him in consolidating an imperial power which Islam had never known in India in the pre-Akbar period of Muslim rule. But the fact remains that but for Akbar laying the firm foundations, there would have been no sadist scoundrel like Jahangir, no abominable criminal like Shah Jahan, and no Islamic monster like Aurangzeb for heaping endless torments and humiliations on Hindus. Let there be no doubt that far from being a dazzling dawn, the reign of Akbar was only the beginning of a darker night which continues till today in the form of Nehruvian Secularism.