The Influence of Islam on Hinduism
Prof. Dr. M. M. Sharif
Former Director of the Institute of Islamic Culture, Lahore Pakistan
From the account of the six systems of Indian philosophy given above, such writers as were born after the advent of Islam in India have been excluded; not that they were in any way less important than those who saw the light of the day before the first /seventh century, but because their thinking shows unmistakable signs, implicit as well as explicit, of Muslim impact.
Details of this impact have been provided in a separate chapter of this volume. Here it will suffice to say that the impact was very deep, firm, and abiding, and left no aspect of Indian thought untouched.
The contact of the Muslims with the Indians began as early as the end of the first/seventh century, and still continues to the advantage of both. Islam was introduced into the Indian sub‑continent by Arab traders; it was propagated by mystics and saints; and it was established by Muslim rulers of various dynasties who made India their home like several other Muslim immigrants.
The Muslims brought with them their ideology, their philosophy and religion, their beliefs and practices, and, above all, an unconquerable passion to share this wisdom with others. The Sufis who were thinkers of no mean order succeeded by their example and precept in imparting to the natives that ideology and philosophy which the Muslims had expounded from their understanding of the Qur'an, the hadith, and the Sunnah.
Muhammad bin Qasim is ranked as the first Muslim who entered India as a conqueror in 94/712. His example was followed by a long line of Muslim rulers who wielded the sceptre of authority over the Indian sub‑continent till 1274/1857, when Indian “mutiny” took place and the Britishers found a splendid excuse to wipe off the last vestige of the Muslim Empire.
During a period of one thousand years when the Indian sub‑continent lay prostrate at the feet of the Muslim emperors, many of whom enjoyed full autocratic powers, it is very unlikely that the culture and philosophy which they cherished and treasured should have left no imprint on the thoughts and beliefs of the native population.
There was, however, no imposition of one culture over another. Culture can never be introduced by the sword, no matter how long and sharp. What happened on the Indian soil was not the replacement of one culture by another but an amalgamation of the two. It was a case of the willing acceptance of the salient features of Muslim culture and making them a part and parcel of the culture of India.
What Sankara and Ramanuja did in the sphere of philosophy was done by others in the fields of religion; ethics, and social polity. The result was a great upheaval in the world of Hindu thought. A re‑evaluation and a re‑appraisal of old values and thoughts took place on a gigantic scale.
Monotheism was stressed and so was universal brotherhood of mankind and a positive approach to life. Casteless society became the goal of social reforms and the Sudras, the accursed and the condemned, were accorded the right to live like others. All this was the product of the impact of Islam on Hinduism.
There is evidence to show that the Nyaya and the Vaiseska were organized into one system after Islam had firmly entrenched itself in India. Not only were the two systems welded into one, they also became monotheistic and advanced for the first time in the history of Hindu thought what are known as the Hindu proofs for the existence of God.
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