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The Iran-Deccan Relations

By: H.E. Ahad Ghazaee
Former Consul General of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Hyderabad, India.
Compiled Dated: 01-10-1994

The relations of Iran with Deccan are age old and have been close. The Iranians and Indians emerged from a common racial stock, the Aryans, and had migrated from the same homeland. Thus they are like two brothers who according to a Persian legend had got separated from each other, one going to the east and the other to the west.
Iran and India being adjacent countries have both been from remote past had a culture, which was the result of a long fusion of ethnic unity. They had maintained a fairly regular interchange of cultural value.
It has not been established yet, from when do these close ties existed. But the excavations conducted by Deccan College, Pune under the directorship of Dr. Sankalia at Navadatalian over the southern bank of Narmada provided evidence in the shape of goblets and channel spouted bowels that the contacts with eastern Iran which on carbon 14 estimates are dated to 1500 B.C. Later excavations at Ahar near Udaypur in Rajastan confirmed that these contacts were through the land route via Rajasthan.
We do not know much about the relations thereafter. But it is for certain that the trade links would have been kept alive though the intensity of the trade must have been fluctuating.
From the eighth century onwards the immigrants from Iran poured in to India either as peaceful traders or conquerors. The immigrants slowly migrated to Deccan. Further during the thirteenth and fourteenth century the political conditions in Iran deteriorated due to the Mongol attacks. Therefore a large number of Iranians migrated to the west coast of India and settled there or migrated to other parts.
Another event which brought a large number of immigrants known over the pages of history as Iranians who were called Afaquies or Ghareeb, was the change of capital by Muhammad Bin Tughlaq in 1327 A.D. The change however did not last long, but a large number of people, Sufis and Ulama stayed brick and latter migrated to different parts of the Deccan. These Ulama and Sufis were instrumental in spreading the true spirit of Islam in Deccan.
Considering that during this period the Iranian Plateau extended over Persian, Baluchistan, Afghanistan and eastern portion of the Asia Minor, it can be deduced that a large number of Iranians were from the Iranian Plateau during the period. The immigration of the Iranians to Deccan increased very much during the Bahmani rule over the Deccan specially during and after the period of Sultan Shahbuddin.
The Iran-Deccan relations are a historic phenomenon, spread over the pages of history since ancient past. The Bahmani Kingdom maintained strong relations with Iran which encircled almost every sphere of activities. The Iranians, who came to Deccan in large numbers in waves, included ulama, poets, writers, architects, artisans, builders, calligraphers and tradesmen. They were all peace loving and had not come to Deccan with sword in hand but instead they brought along with them the rich heritage of knowledge, science and culture. The fusion of the indigenous culture with the culture from Iran gave birth to Deccani culture.
The Persian was the court language of the Bahmani Kingdom. The Bahmani Sultans generously patronized the Iranian scholars, therefore the Persian literature flourished during that period. A number of remarkable and monumental works in Persian were produced which form a part of the Persian literature of the world.
The Iranian also richly contributed in the administrative field. They even occupied the top executive position of Prime Ministership in Bahmani Kingdom. The contribution of well-known Iranian immigrants like Fazlullah Inju and Mahmud Gawan in the consolidation, expansion, and administration of the Bahmani Kingdom was remarkable. It was they who laid down the policy of tolerance, brotherhood and broad mindedness as the very basis of their administration. They, therefore, appointed the people to the post of administration purely on merit, irrespective of religion, sect, caste or creed. We find a large number of non- Muslims even on the posts of prestige during their period.
The prominent ulama from Iran migrated to Deccan and enjoyed great respect and admiration of the masses. Their presence in Deccan was instrumental in formulating the policy of religious tolerance. Therefore they were popular among the Muslims and non- Muslims equally.
After the decline of the Bahmani Kingdom, when five independent Kingdoms were formed, the immigration from Iran to Deccan further increased specially to two Kingdoms of Bijapur and Golconda.
The relations of the Deccani Kingdoms of Bijapur and Golconda became cordial and close. The names of the Safawid Kings were included in Khutba of the Friday prayers. A number of factors were responsible for this, the major factor being the common faith, Shia Islam.
It was during this period that Deccan became the cradle of the migrant Iranian poets, writers, Ulama, calligraphers, painters, etc;These Iranian migrants richly contributed to the progress of culture, literature, architecture, poetry.
The Iran-Deccan relations were further strengthened when five Deccani Kingdoms, the Qutb Shahi, Adil Shahi, Nizam Shahi, Barid Shahi and Imad Shahi, were established.
The relations now extended even to political sphere. There were regular exchanges of envoys between the Deccani Sultans of the Qutb Shahi and Adil Shahi and the Safavid Kings of Iran.
Yousuf Adil Shah, the founder of the Adil Shahi Kingdom in Bijapur and Shah Ismail, the Safavid King and the founder of the Safavid dynasty in Iran of Iran both were the disciples and followers of the great religious scholar Shah Safi Ardabili. They were taught and trained together; therefore, they were close to each other even before the foundations of their kingdoms and remained so afterwards.
The seed of cordial relationship sowed by Yousuf Adil Shah, grew as the time passed. It is recorded that the names of the Safavid Kings were included in the Khutba (sermons) in Adil Shahi and Qutb Shahi Kingdoms. The Safavid Kings also co-operated fully with the Deccani Kingdoms. They were always ready to help the Sultans of the Deccan, whenever the need arose. There are three letters of Shah Abbas Safavi preserved in India, which he had written to Jahangir, requesting him to follow a peaceful solution to the problems and not to create troubles for the Adil Shahi and Qutb Shani Kingdoms.
The Iran’s relations with Qutb Shahs of Golconda and Hyderabad too were very close. A large number of Iranians came to Golconda and Hyderabad during different periods. Their contribution to the administration, literature, architecture and fine arts was remarkable. Two great Ulama from Iran, Allamah Meer Mohammad Mumin Astarabadi and Allamah Ibn-e-Khatun occupied the top position in the administration and were appointed as Peshwa(Leader) of the Qutb Shahi Sultanate. They too followed the policy of religious tolerance and service to the people, which had been their heritage. After their death their tombs in Hyderabad have become places of sanctity and homage and people irrespective of religion and sect come in large numbers to pay their respect.
Unfortunately most works especially of the Bahmani period are lost. Even the remarkable books both belonging to the religious and non-religious literature are still in the form of manuscripts. They are neither edited nor printed. The study of this contemporary literature presents another problem to the researchers of the present days.
Most of these manuscripts are in Persian language. The authors during the period took pride in writing ornamental language and often used couplets of the poets in between the text. The Persian language now has undergone many changes. Therefore the study of a manuscript in classical language becomes difficult even for those scholars, who know the language.
In spite of these difficulties, in the recent past, a number of scholars have produced worthy books covering different aspects of the history and literature of the medieval Deccan.
But very little has been done in religious literature. The most valuable manuscripts covering all fields of religious literature, Tafsir, Hadith, Fiqh, Philosophy, Akhlaq, etc; are lying in the libraries of Deccan specially in Hyderabad.
The Zoroastrian (Parsis) from Iran also migrated to India and got assimilated into Indian society but preserving their cultural identity. They have carved out for themselves a prime place in various fields of Indian society particularly trade, industry and judiciary.
During the last century also, large number of Iranians migrated to India and settled in various cities of the country. They have become integral part of the Indian society and enjoy great respect of the people of India. The people and government of India have been assisting and providing necessary facilities to Iranian citizens to lead a happy and prosperous life in India.
The Indian community settled in Iran is mostly leading traders and businessmen. They are also enjoying the full support and respect of the people and government of Islamic Republic of Iran. Thus Indians in Iran and the Iranians in India feel as if they are living in their homeland.
Indo-Iran cordial relations is just not the matter of the past, the relations are further strengthening between the Islamic Republic of Iran and India as both the governments are committed to the service of the people at large and peace in the world.

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