In this article we will discuss about the impact of Hindus on the Muslim society.
If Islam exercised profound influence on the various facets of Hindu culture and civilization, it could not remain immune from the influence of the latter. The new Indian converts to Islam could not get rid of their Hindu notions and practices and carried them to the new society.
In course of time these notions and practices became part of the Muslim society as well. Subsequently the marriages of the Muslim rulers to Hindu princesses also contributed to the introduction of certain Hindu social customs and rites in the royal families.
This also inevitably led to the abandonment of the policy of religious bigotry and persecution followed by the earlier Muslim rulers. Haveli says, “The traditional devotion and the tenderness of Indian motherhood helped greatly to soften ferocity of the Turki and Mughal nomad”.
The Hindu thought and customs also exercised great influence on the Muslim morality. The Muslims who earlier believed in polygamy became virtually monogamous under the influence of Hinduism. The divorce was also rendered more difficult. The impact of Hinduism on Muslim society is also found in the various class distinctions which made their appearance in the Muslim society.
The Muslims who believed in equality, were greatly influenced by the Hindu caste system, and started attaching great importance to the family background. Some of the Delhi Sultans avoided appointing men of noble birth to high offices.
The Muslims came to be divided into various classes viz. Sheikhs and Sayyids and usually these classes resided separately in different localities. The members of the various groups or qaums usually married within their own ranks.
The evil of untouchability which was a bane of the Hindu society also crept in the Muslim society. Most of the Hindu converts who took to Islam belonged to the lower castes. They adopted Islam with a view to escape the social disadvantage. But they found their lot no better in the Muslim society. They were treated as untouchables in the new society as well and were not given any positions of responsibility.
The Muslims were also greatly influenced by the Hindu customs. They not only started believing in saints and Sufis but also started following some of their superstitions and practices in a modified form. For example the ceremonies of Aqiqa and Bismillah were based on the Hindu ceremonies of Mundan and Vidhyarambh Sanskar.
Similarly the superstition of evil eye (nazar) and the ceremony of Arti was given the name of Nisar by the Muslims.
In other words Islam in India was transformed from a simple and puritanic religion, with emphasis on the performance of outward legal duties, to a complex devotional creed in which miracles and superstitions, combined, of course with saint-worship, played an important role.
The Muslim mystics, particularly the Sufis were greatly inspired by the Hindu Vedant. Some of the Muslim scholars even took to the study of the Hindu philosophy like Yoga and Vedant. Some Muslim scholars even took to the study of Hindu medicine and astrology.
The Muslim festivals were also given a new look. For example the festival of Shab i Barat was celebrated like the Hindu festival of Shivratri. The Muslims even adopted Hindu dresses like pag (ornamental turban) chira, etc. The chattra and other royal paraphernalia’s used by the Muslim rulers were merely copy of the Rajput practice. The Muslims learnt chewing of betel leaf from the Hindus.
The wearing of ornaments like rings, necklaces, earrings etc., which were forbidden by Islamic law, were also learnt by the Muslims even from the Hindus. According to certain scholars the Muslims even adopted the practice of jauhar and Sati from the Rajputs. It is said that Kamaluddin, the governor of Bhatnair went to fight against Timur after burning his wives and other women as well as their property.
The Muslim architecture also felt deep influence of the Hindu art. The buildings constructed during the Sultanate and Mughal periods display the impact of the Hindu architecture. From the times of Akbar the Muslims even started copying the paintings of the Hindus.
In conclusion we can agree with Titus that “Hinduism has wrought a far greater change in Islam than Islam has wrought in Hinduism which still continues to pursue the even tenor of its ways with a complacency and confidence that are amazing.” (Indian Islam).