In this article we will discuss about the impact of Islam on Hinduism:- 1. Impact on Religious Field 2. Social Impact 3. Economic Impact 4. Impact on Culture 5. Impact on Fine Arts 6. Impact on Music 7. Impact on Painting.
1. Impact on Religious Field:
What was the impact of Islam in the religious field is a matter of great controversy. Charles Eliot for the first time in his book ‘Hinduism and Buddhism’ propounded the thesis that Ramanuj and Shankra were greatly influenced by Islam. This view is supported by another prominent scholar Dr. Tara Chand who holds that the concept of the unity of God was a gift of Islam to India.
He says that the great Shankaracharya, who flourished during the later years of the eighth and early years of the ninth Century A. D. was so much influenced by the Islamic theology as to have borrowed the theory of unity of God from his contact with Muslims.
This view is not acceptable to Prof. A.L Srivastava, who poses a question that “if Shankaracharya really borrowed his theory of monoism from Islam, why did he fail to condemn and denounce image worship which is a cardinal doctrine of Islamic Ideology? He further points out “can it not be said that two different people might develop a similar line of thought, religious, secular, quite independently of each other? How very much can it be true of Shankaracharya’s Advait philosophy when it is realised on all hands that its germs are found in our Shrulis and that what he preached was only the logical development of the truth embodied in the Vedas and Upanishads.”
It is true that the upper class Hindus both in the north and in the South extended a very generous treatment to the Muslims and gave- them complete freedom to convert people to their religion. The Hindu leaders, reformers and preachers openly advocated that Hinduism and Islam were two paths leading to the same destination. They condemned the priestly rituals in both the religions and laid emphasis on devotion and piety.
Islam influenced the Hindu society in two ways. Firstly, the missionary zeal of Islam which aimed at conversion of the maximum number of Hindus to Islam gave rise to conservatism. The Hindu leaders thought that they could save their religion and culture only by adopting more orthodox outlook.
Greater emphasis was laid on rigid religious life as per Smritis. Strict rules were laid down regarding diet, marriage, and general conduct. Secondly, some of the democratic principles of Islam found their way into the Hindu society.
The Bhakti movement was to a large extent influenced by Islam and the Hindu reformers preached fundamental equality of all religions and the unity of God. Sufism exercised considerable influence on the Hindu society and the Sufi saints attracted the attention of the, Hindus.
This contact grew closer during the regime of Akbar. In short we can say that the Hindu leaders realized that a liberal treatment of the Sudras and the untouchables was essential in the interest of the Hind Community.
2. Social Impact:
The coming of Islam to India also left a deep mark on the social structure. With a view to meet the inroads of Islam more effectively the Hindu leaders made caste system more rigid and laid greater emphasis on the observance of caste rules.
With a view to strengthen the Hindu society they recasts the Smritis and thus paved the way for taking back those persons in the fold of the Hindu society who had been forcibly removed from it. During the period 1200— 1500 voluminous commentaries on the Smritis and Nibandhas (digests) were produced with a view to readjust the social relationship according to the changed circumstances.
The evil of infanticide which was greatly condemned by many centuries was also to a large extent the product of Islam. The Hindu adopted the practice of infanticide (killing girls at the time of their birth) with a view to escape the risk of their virgins losing chastity at the hands of the Muslims. It is a matter of historical information that a number of Hindu chiefs and well-to-do persons were compelled by the Muslim rulers and nobles to give their daughters in marriage. To escape all these ignonomies they started practising infanticide.
The Pardah system, was also the result of the Muslim rule. This practice was unknown in the previous periods of history and the women could move about freely. With the arrival of the Muslims they were compelled to live in seclusion in their homes and rarely moved outside.
Whenever they had to go out they went either in palanquins covered with curtains or used Pardah. According to Yasin Mohammad during this period kidnapping of Hindu women was considered to be an act of Jihad. The Hindu women took to pardah with a view to protect themselves against this Jihad.
Child marriage was also largely the result of the Muslim rule in India. The Muslim rulers and other high officials quite often kidnapped beautiful Hindu girls. Under the circumstances the-Hindu parents thought it desirable to take to child marriage. It was emphasised that the proper age for the marriage of girls was seven and that marriage after the age of eleven or twelve was sinful.
The position of women in society greatly deteriorated. They were denied the status of equality with men, which they earlier enjoyed. They were not allowed to participate freely in social functions and ceremonies. Though they still enjoyed a position of respect they were rendered completely dependent on the men-folk.
The women were expected to zealously safeguard their fidelity. To ensure this safety of honour and chastity against the Muslims the customs of Jauhar and Sati became current throughout the country. Another evil which found its way into Hindu society as a result of the impact of Islam was slavery.
No doubt slavery was known to the Indians even before the advent of Muslims, but the Muslim rulers specially patronized it. Slavery was a common feature of the Muslim society and keeping of slaves was not only a fashion but also a symbol of position and status.
The Sultans of Delhi as well as their nobles and Amirs kept slaves—both males and females usually the largest number of slaves were maintained by the royal family. It is said that Ala-ud-Din had 84,000 slaves.
This strength rose to 2, 00,000 under the Firoz Tughlaq. It may be noted that the Sultans maintained these slaves at the cost of the state. The Hindu feudal lords and leaders also started observing the practice of slavery. Women slaves were offered in dowry by the Rajput royal families.
Slavery might have served some useful purpose for the kings and the Amirs by rendering them necessary service, but its extension to all levels was inhuman and highly condemnable.
The dress, food and social manners of the upper sections of Hindu society were also greatly influenced by Islamic culture. Achakan and Salwar, the popular dresses of north India, were introduced under the Mohammedan influence.
Usually the dress fashions were introduced by the Muslim nobles and were copied by the high class Hindus. The Hindu masses and the priestly classes by and large remained immune from the impact by Muslims with regard to their dress, food and social manners. The food habits of the high class Hindus also underwent a change.
They started taking non-vegetarian dishes like pulao, kebab, kofta etc. like the Muslims. They also started following social manners and ceremonial cesiesurths of the Muslims. The vices of gambling and drinking which were prevalent in the Muslim society of the age were also adopted by the Hindus.
Some of the existing games and recreational activities were given a new shape under the impact of Muslims. For example hunting, hawking and other games became Mohammedanized.
3. Economic Impact:
Though the Muslim rulers established their supremacy in the political sphere, the economy of the country continued to be dominated by the Hindus. No doubt large jagirs were given to the Muslim Amirs but they depended for the cultivation of their lands on the Hindu peasants.
Therefore the land system remained in tact and there was hardly any change in the existing arrangement. The only change was that formally the lands came under the control of the Muslim Jagirdars.
In the sphere of trade and commerce also the Hindus continued to dominate. The Muslims were essentially military adventurers who were not conversant with the commercial practices of the Hindus. No doubt the Muslim rulers heavily crushed the commercial classes, but the Hindu Baniya continued to be an essential feature of the economic structure in medieval times.
The Baniyas advanced money to farmers, artisans and others. The Muslim rulers though quite jealous of the dominant position of the Hindus in the economic sphere had to depend on them. Barni has also testified the economic affluence of the Hindus. In other words we can say that even though the political and administrative machinery was dominated by the Muslims the Hindus continued to control the economic life.
The coming of the Islam to India exercised economic impact in another way too. The Indian overseas commerce which had virtually come to an end with the decline of the ‘Cholas’ was revived.
Prof. Jadunath Sarkar has rightly said that the “restoration of touch with the outer world, the revival of Indian navy and sea-borne trade both of which had been lost since the decline of the Cholas” was the direct outcome of the Muslim impact. India’s trade with foreign countries, particularly with the countries of the East, tremendously increased which exercised profound influence on the economic condition of the people.
4. Impact on Culture:
Though the initial impact of Islam on the Hindu culture was negligible and the Hindus paid no attention to the study of Persian and Arabic, but in course of time they took to the study of Persian literature. It is said that the Hindus for the first time took to the study of Persian and Arabic during the regime of Sikandar Lodhi.
The real progress in the sphere of literary communication between the two communities took place under the Tughlaqs. During the times of Firoz Tughlaq certain Muslim scholars rendered certain Sanskrit romances into Hindi, although the script used by them was Persian.
It was only under Akbar that the real synthesis in the field of two literatures took place. A number of Hindu literary men and reformers betray the influence of the Islamic ideas in their works. However, so far the Hindu scholars did not produce any independent works in Persian.
It was only during the times of Shah Jahan that independent works in Persian were produced by Hindu scholars. The work of Chandra Bhan Brahman can be quoted as an example of this.
Apart from the study of the Persian literature, the Hindi culture also felt the impact of Islam. As a result of the spread of Bhakti Movement there was a tremendous increase in the quantity of the Indian culture. The impact of the Muslim literature on the indigenous culture is evident from the presence of the large number of Persian, Arabic and Turkish words in the local culture.
The intermingling of the Hindu and Muslim culture gradually led to the emergence of a new language Urdu, which was a sort of linguistic synthesis of Persian, Arabic, Turkish and languages of Sanskrit origin. In course of time Urdu became the lingua franca of the people.
5. Impact on Fine Arts:
Probably the deepest impact of Islam was in the field of fine arts. The spirit of assimilation and synthesis between the Hindu and the Muslim cultures led to the evolution of a new type of architecture and music in which the basic elements were those of the Hindus and the finish and outward form was that of the Persians.
As Dr. Tara Chand has said “The craftsmanship, the ornamental richness and general design remained largely Hindu, the actuated form, plain domes, smooth-faced walls and spacious interiors were Muslim super-impositions”.
Dr. A. L. Srivastava has also admitted the deep impact of Islam in the domain of fine arts and says that “the Hindus did not disdain to borrow freely whatever appeared to them to be useful and beautiful and this trait is reflected in the Hindu buildings erected during the second half of the sixteenth century and the whole of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Rajput rulers readily imitated the Mughal style of architecture and introduced it in their palaces. Hindu temples could not remain immune from the influence of the Mughal architectural forms”.
6. Impact on Music:
In the sphere of Music the blending of the Persian Indian music led to the emergence of new notations. Qawwallis, etc. became more popular. Some of the musical instruments like Sitar were produced by blending the Indian Veena and the Iranian Tambura. Tabla is also considered to be a Muslim modification of Hindu musical Mirdang.
7. Impact on Painting:
The art of painting prevailing in the country was also greatly influenced by Islam. This influence was not only confined to the ideas but also to technique and form. The blending of the Persian and Rajput techniques of painting led to the emergence of a new school of Mughal art.
According to Prof. Jadunath Sarkar, “The art of painting in Mughal age though Persian in origin, war actually the joint product of Hindu and Persian ideas and developed into two schools of painting known as Mughal and Rajput.” The Indian artists particularly developed high talent in the art of portrait and mural painting. The Hindu painters adopted the minuteness of the Persian techniques and produced outstanding works.
The Islamic influence was particularly felt in the art of laying the gardens. The Mughals particularly excelled in geometrically designed pleasances with provision for artificial irrigation in the shape of tanks, basins and water-falls. This pattern was followed in almost all the part of the country.