9.) Hindu-Muslim Problem in a New Perspective

It is the contention of this note that the historical background of Hindu-Muslim relations seems to contain a logical telos which subconsciously contributes to Muslim anxiety in India.  Hitherto this relation has undergone two phases.  The first short phase was of peaceful coexistence.

Muslim Arabs arrived on India’s coast in the wake of their pagan ancestors who had carried on a tradition of maritime trade across the Arabian sea since nearly the dawn of history.  These Arab traders who settled down in India’s coasts between the seventh and ninth century were treated with tolerance by Hindu rulers, and the legend of conversion of a Cherman Perumal rājā shows that they were allowed to proprogate Islam.  They intermarried with indigenous women; some of them joined service under Hindu princes; and at least one of them contributed financially to a Hindu temple.  Several Muslim communities like the Labbes, the Mapillas (Mophlahs) and the Nawāit thrived in the south and their descendants still survive.[1]

The second, more long-standing, phase exhibits a different pattern of relationship.

The conquest of Sind by Muhammad ibn Qāsim, and the incorporation of that province into the Muslim universal caliphate, brought the Hindus and the Muslims there in a relationship of a very different nature, that of ruled and ruler.  This form of political relationship, which some centuries later extended to the whole sub-continent, and survived until well into the eighteenth century inevitably led to the creation of tensions which determined very largely the psychological course of the history of medieval and modern India.[2]

Could it be that the Islamic community in India is deeply concerned at the prospect of the ruler-ruled relationship being reversed, while the Hindu harks back to the original co-existence model and doesn’t even realize what is bothering his Muslim brother?


[1] Aziz Ahmad, Studies in Islamic Culture in the Indian Environment (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964) p. 77.

[2] Ibid., p. 77.

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2 Responses to “9.) Hindu-Muslim Problem in a New Perspective”

  1. Shehjar Says:

    There is a need to make it very clear, that in modern India, the rule will be of a state and a constitution and not of a religion.

  2. James Says:

    Can somebody clarify things for me? As an outsider to Hindu-Muslim problems (I just read the papers), can Muslims (and even Christians) accept Hinduism (and Hindus) without the need to spread the Truth of God to them? And if they are not actively proselytizing, don’t the authorities of Abrahamic religions see Hindus as pagans and sinners? How can there be peace in such a context? Now, I also have been reading about Hindu “fundamentalists” — but their beef (no pun, intended) seems to be political and not religious. In other words, they may do nasty things but are they trying to “convert” Muslims and Christians?

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