Whitewashing the Forced Conversions of Hindus to Islam in Medieval India: Here's What the Primary Records Say
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Whitewashing the Forced Conversions of Hindus to Islam in Medieval India: Here's What the Primary Records Say

Debunking the whitewashing and distortions of Marxist History about the forced conversions of Hindus into Islam in the medieval Muslim period

Shankar Saran

Shankar Saran

Two major variants of the same theme of pre-medieval and medieval Islamic invasions into India have stood out, and continue to remain an inextricable thorn in the flesh of our eminent Marxist historians: the large scale destructions of Hindu temples and forced conversions of Hindus into Islam. The kind of lengths these alleged historians have gone to in order to whitewash and later deny that these brutalities ever happened to Hindus is truly incredible. The pattern of such distortions and denials was first set by Mohammed Habib, father of Irfan Habib. As an earlier article on The Dharma Dispatch shows, Mohammed Habib selected Mahmud of Ghazni to begin this whitewashing. The following quote from Mohammed Habib's book is one only a representative sample of how this whitewashing was attempted.

It was impossible that the Indian temples should not sooner or later tempt someone strong and unscrupulous enough for the impious deed. Nor was it expected that a man of Mahmud’s character would allow the tolerance which Islam inculcates to restrain him from taking possession of the gold…when the Indians themselves had simplified his work by concentrating the wealth of the country at a few places...Face to face with the social and economic provisions of the Shariat and the Hindu Smritis, as political alternatives, the Indian city-worker preferred the Shariat.

Such sweeping and fraudulent conclusions about widely documented primary historical sources begs several fundamental questions. If the Hindu conversion to Islam in the mediaeval period in India "was not only voluntary, but in some cases also enthusiastic, so that the converts could escape the atrocities of the upper castes’ - why are no details, records, stories, folklore, and memoirs about such a great phenomenon available anywhere? No such record exists either from the side of the converts or from those who helped them convert. However, details regarding the conversions to Islam are definitely available.

And almost all of these details mention forcible conversions: depicting the demonstration of Islamic power; giving the defeated infields the standard option: to choose between Islam or death; inducement by promising to leave the property of a rich Hindu in his own hands if he converted to Islam; the prospect of reducing punishments if a Hindu culprit converts; promotion in the administrative hierarchy after conversion; demanding from a Hindu employee to convert to show his fidelity to the sultan or badshah; forced mass conversions flaunted as trophies of the victory of an Islamic army. Thus, all historical evidence available including written records and various narratives regarding conversions point to only one conclusion: that without fear or favour no Hindu converted to Islam on his own volition.

Interestingly, Harbans Mukhia and Romila Thapar, too, enumerate some of these reasons, only to claim the opposite conclusion: that Hindus were not forced by the Islamic state to convert to Islam! The entire convoluted effort of Mukhia & co produces the opposite impression on any open-minded reader, that it was, after all, forced conversions under the Islamic regimes.

If Hindus had willingly converted to Islam in the medieval period, and sometimes "enthusiastically" as Indian Marxist historians and Pakistani textbooks state, how is it that not a single description of the same is available in the voluminous historical records the Muslims have left behind? More so, since it has been a pet habit with Muslim chroniclers of the medieval age to note historical descriptions in great details. This non-existence of any description about wilful conversion of a Hindu is itself great evidence to the contrary. Equally, because Muslim historians and scholars have been repeatedly asserting that Islam is the only true religion. Hence even one such description would have been a great, remarkable showpiece and an event to flaunt: how the infidels, or those ‘deprived of religion’ or such ‘low-caste Hindus oppressed by Brahmins’ enthusiastically embraced Islam. Not a single such record exists.

If any such descriptions were indeed available, our Marxist and Muslim historians would have presented them in the beginning itself as the first historical evidence. But because such conversions did not happen, no record for the same can be found whereas various kinds of other details of the same period are available in different records. Thus the conclusion is clear: the thesis of "lower caste Hindus accepted Islam due to the oppression by higher castes" is purely a figment of later, modern imagination of colonialists, missionaries, Marxists and following their lead, the later Muslim historians of the post-Independence period.

Marxist historians often fail to see the consequence of their own logic. On the one hand they claim that the destruction of Hindu temples by Muslim invaders was not a religious but a political act. For example, Romila Thapar explains away the destruction of the Somnath temple by Mahmud of Ghazni using the same argument. Her underlying intent is to establish a theory that these destructions cannot be blamed on Islamic arrogance or bigotry, because it was all done just to strengthen say, Mahmud's hold on power as the natural act of any victor.

However, the Marxists do not answer why they have such an emotional objection to remove the same structure for ‘political purposes’? If the original act of temple destruction was political, how can undoing it hurt anyone’s religious feelings? If a victorious invader established his political power by destroying temples, how can the future generations of the victims be prevented from restoring their self-respect?

But, it is futile to expect the Marxists to be reasonable, logical and impartial.

A few words would be in order in the context of the temple destructions in medieval times and the Ram Janmabhoomi temple-Babri mosque kind of movement. There is a difference between revenge and restoration. As Dharampal, the philosopher-historian has said, we are nobody to decide what the common mass of a country should remember for how long or forget. The argument that Hindu communal propaganda influenced the people is also irrelevant. The deeds of Islamic rulers have remained alive in public memory, through stories and legends. It is absurd to blame Hindu nationalist organisations for the same.

Marxist historians, having a Western mindset and equipped with a foreign ideology, never cared to be acquainted with the different people in our society, their sensitivities, philosophy of life, priorities, activities, likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. They never tried to understand any of these aspects even with a modicum of empathy let alone honesty.

Dharmic discourses and related activities of Hindus living in temples and monasteries and wandering around the country have been continuously going on for centuries. The characteristic features and big events of the Islamic period of Indian history is known even to those who have not read a single book about it. Then again, traces of atrocities committed during the Muslim period are in existence all over the country, which do hurt the Hindus when attention is drawn to them.

It is part of sheer Marxist arrogance to imagine that what does not interest them should also not interest the entire populace. On the whole, all inconvenient details about the Islamic past in India are non-facts for Marxist historians.

To be continued

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