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Q.1. What are the causes of the Downfall of Muslim Society?

Causes of Decline of Muslim Society

By the opening of the eighteenth century when Europe was ruled by Strong
monarchies and the European merchant communities were well on the read to
prosperity the Muslim powers everywhere showed a rapid decline. The empire of the
Muslims began to weaken rapidly after the death of the great Emperor Alamgir-I in
1707. The causes of the decline and disintegration of the empire is generally
regarded as the weakness of the successors of Alamgir-I but really the loss of feeling
of solidarity among the Muslims was one of the principal causes of Muslims

The unity of faith gave a unity of feeling to the Muslims. It was this sense of
belonging to the same faith that enabled this numerically small minority to rule the
teeming millions of the non-Muslim population. Various historians have arrived at
the following main causes of the disintegration of the Muslim Society in IndoPakistan.

1. Weak Successors of Aurangzeb

The successors of Auranzeb were incapable, worthless and unsuited to the job of
Kingship. Most of them were devoted to merry making and neglected the affairs of
the state. They left their work to their Wazirs who eventually became all powerful.

2. Vastness of the Empire

During the reign of Aurangzeb the Muslim Empire had become very vast and
unwiedly. It became practically impossible for one ruler to control far flung provinces
without any effective means of communication and transport.

3. Absence of a Definite Law of Succession

There was no definite law of primogeniture. Consequently a war of succession was
the only means to decide the successor of an Emperor. According to Erskine, The
sword was the grand arbiter of right and every son was prepared to try his fortune
against his brothers. The result was that widespread bloodshed weakened the

foundations of the Empire and provided opportunities to other adventures to

interfere in the matters of state.

4. Deterioration of Morality of Mughal Emperors

With the passage of time the character of the Muslim Emperors deteriorated quickly.
Babur, Humayun, Akbar, Jehangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb were all physically
very strong. Some of them were reckless drinkers while the others were fond of
women. Deterioration of character of the rulers expedited the disintegration of the
Mughal Empire.

5. Degeneration of Nobility
The character of the Rulers nobility also degenerated with their rulers. Abundance
of wealth, leisure and luxury rendered them inefficient and incompetent. This
affected the administration of the State.

6. Deterioration of Army
Hot climate, abundance of wealth and comforts deteriorated the standards of
Mughal army. The soldiers became easy going with the result that by the 18th
century they began to avoid the hardships of battlefields. The invasions of Nadir
Shah and Ahmed Shah Abdali demolished the army. The soldiers lost their ancestral
confidence of victories. The army ceased to be what it had been; a terror for the
enemies. The invaders plundered the country at will. Demoralized army could not
keep the provinces together.

7. Intellectual Bankruptcy
The latter Muslim Rulers and nobility suffered from intellectual bankruptcy because
there was no proper system of education in the country. Lack of proper training
resulted in the production of rulers who were not competent to face the challenges
of their jobs.

8. Mughal Rule Alien, to Indian Soil

The Mughals had come from the countries of Central Asia. They brought their own
culture and customs to Indo-Pakistan. The demands of their religion clashed with
the tenets of Hinduism. Thus, the alien Mughal rule remained different throughout

and could not provide homogeneous nature to all the castes, creeds and religious of
the Sub-Continent.

9. Corrupt Administration
With the weakening of the hold of the rulers the Muslim administration became
corrupt. The ministers, courtiers, nobles and officials accepted bribes. Such a
situation weakened the foundations of the Muslim Society.

10. Stoppage of Adventures from Persia, Afghanistan and Turkistan

The Muslim leaders with the passage of time became habitual of luxurious living.
There was a dearth of good administration and fighters. Previously this vacuum was
filled by adventures from neighboring states. The stoppage of their influx resulted in
deterioration of military and civil standards.

11. Invasions of Nadir Shah and Ahmed Shah Abdali

The invasions of Nadir Shah (1739) and Ahmed Shah Abdali (1754-67) not only
exposed the hollowness of the Muslim rulers but also created a stale of anarchy in
the country. Such situation proved ideal for the rise of Marathas and Sikhs as new

12. Aurangzebs Policy in Deccan

Aurangzeb spent the last 25 years of his rule in the Deccan. Continuous fighting told
upon the efficiency and the morale of the army. The conquest of Bijapur and
Golkonda finished the two states which served as a check to the Marathas.

13. Absence of Naval Power

The Muslim rulers did not develop their Navy whereas the European nations
possessed modern naval fleets. It proved a weak point of the rulers when they had
to fight the British and the Portuguese.

14. Plight of the Common People and Peasants

The condition of the common people and Peasants worsened in the 17th and 18th
centuries. Bad economic conditions led to discontentment among the classes which
resulted in uprisings like the revolts of Satnamis, Jats and Sikhs.

15. Rise of Marathas

Second half of the 17th century saw the growth of Maratha nationalism. Later on in
the 18th century they were able to extend their influence to Delhi. The emergence
of Maralha power contributed to the downfall of Muslim rule.

16. Rise of Sikhs

Rise of Sikhs in the 18th century was another factor which contributed to the
downfall of the Muslim Society. After the death of Aurangzeb the weak Muslim rulers
could not check the emergence of Sikhs as a power in Punjab. During the reign of
Jahandar Shah (1712-13) and Farrukhsiyar (1713-19) Banda Bahadur (the Sikh
Leader) captured Sirhindi and killed its Governor Wazir Khan. The rise of Sikhs also
contributed to the downfall of Muslim Society.

17. Rise of Hindus of Rajputana

The religious policy of Aurangzeb was not liberal like his predecessors. Besides he
re-imposed Jazia on the Hindus. These acts created certain doubts in the minds of
Hindus. Especially the Rajputs of Mewar and Marwar fought a prolonged war against
the Muslim. Thus, they were deprived of the services of their centuries old friends.

18. Backwardness in Science and Technology

The rulers failed to keep pace with the developments in science and technology.
Thus they could not equip their army with the latest weapons. As a result they could
not effectively face the European nations in the battles of Plassey and Buxer which
ultimately decided the tale of the country.

19. Advent of English East India Company

The advent of Europeans like Portuguese and the English is an event of great
significance in the Muslim rule. The Portuguese and the British (The English East
India Company) came in the guise of traders but developed factories and forts
which ultimately became centre of their subversive activities. Their clever

maneuverings and the weaknesses of the Muslim Rulers enabled the British to seize
control of the country by 1857.

Q.3. Enumerate the services rendered by Shah Wali-ullah, to the cause of

Muslim community of Indo-Pak subcontinent.

Services rendered by Shah Wali-Ullah (1703-62)

Shah Wali-Ullah was a great Muslim saint of the 18th century. His real name was
Qutbud-Din Ahmed. He was born to a noble learned family of Delhi on 21st February
1703. His father Shah Abdur-Rahim was a renowned scholar of that period. Shah
Wali-Ullah showed great promise at an early age. By the age of fifteen he had
completed the learning of Holy Quran, Hadith and Fiqh. Then after the death of his
father in 1719 he started delivering lectures in Madressah Rahimyah at the age of
seventeen. Then in 1730 he performed Hajj again. In 1733 he returned to Delhi and
took over the charge of Madressah Rahimyah. There he wrote many books and
rendered many political, religious and national services. He died in 1762. The
contributions of Shah Wali-Ullah can be summarized as under:

1. Religious Services
Shah Wali-Ullah rendered many religious services. He completed the translation of
Holy Quran in Persian in 1738. Later on his sons Shah Rafi-ud-Din and Shah Abdul
Qadir translated the Holy Quran in Urdu. Moreover Shah Wali-Ullah termed the
Hadith collection by Imam Muttah as the most authentic and wrote its commentary
in Arabic and Persian. Shah Wali-Ullah also arranged the Hadith in respect of their
topics. In addition he worked for the renaissance of Islam. He propagated that Islam
was a universal power and thus the Muslims should be the dominant force in the
Sub-Continent and elsewhere.

Shah Wali-Ullah trained students in different branches of Islamic knowledge and

entrusted them with the teaching of students. He recommended the application of
Ijtihad against blind Taqlid in his famous work Aqad-al-jaiyad-fi-Ahkam-al-Ijtihad waal-Taqlid.

He studied the writings of each school-of-thought to understand their point of view,

and then wrote comprehensive volumes about what is fair and just in light of the
teachings of Islam. He adopted an analytical and balanced approach towards four
major school-of-thought of mysticism. In order to create a balance betweeen the
four schools i.e. Hanafi, Malaki, Shafii, Hambali he wrote Al-Insaf-fi-bayan-sabab-alIkhtilaf. He worked out a system of thought, beliefs, and values, on which all but the
extremists could agree. He thus provided a spiritual basis or national cohension.

2. Political Services
Shah Wali-Ullah possessed a deep political insight. He tried to trace the causes of
the decline of Mughal Empire. In the middle of the 18th century Marathas had
become a great political power. They were threatening to occupy the crown of Delhi.
At this critical juncture Shah Wali-Ullah in order to check their advance prepared
Najid-ullah (Rohilla Chief) and Shuja-ud-Daulah (Nawab of Oudh) for Jihad. Moreover
he wrote a letter to Ahmed Shah Abdali. King of Afghanistan requesting him to save
the Muslims from the highhanded-less of the Marathas. Consequently in the Third
Battle of Panipat, Ahmed Shah Abdali inflicted a crushing defeat on the Marathas. In
short, the Muslim Renaissance Movement launched by Shah Wali-Ullah was the
forerunner of all the future freedom movements of Indo-Pakistan. Maulana
Mohammad Qasim Nanotvi founder of Madressah Deoband and Sir Syed Ahmed
Khan were among his followers. Later on his son Shah Abdul Aziz founded the Jihad
Movement which was carried forward by Syed Ahmed Shaheed.
In his time Shias and Sunnis were aggressively hostile to each other and their rivalry
was damaging the Muslim unity. Shah Sahab wrote Izalat-al-Akhifa and Khilafat-alKhulafa in order to remove misunderstanding between Shias and Sunnis. He refused
to denounce Shias as heretics.

After Mujaddid Alf Sani, Shah Wali-Ullah worked for unity of Muslims and to develop
separate National identify. He created separate national identity among Muslims
and convinced them to fight for their rights. Shah Sahib rejected Combine Unity and
ensured Religion as only identification of Muslims. The religio-political ideology of
Waliullah made a permanent crack in Hindu-Muslim relation in this sub-continent,
which undermined the self-pride and dignity of integrated Indian society.

3. Social Services

Shah Wali-Ullah was strongly opposed to integration of Islamic culture in the cultural
cauldron of the sub-continent and wanted the Muslims to ensure their distance from
it. Ishtiaq Hussain Qureshi writes in The Muslim Community of Indo-Pakistan
subcontinent, Waliullah did not want the Muslims to become part of the general
milieu of the sub-continent. He wanted them to keep alive their relation with rest of
the Muslim world so that the spring of their inspiration and ideals might ever remain
located in Islam and tradition of world community developed by it. In his opinion,
the health of Muslim society demanded that doctrines and values inculcated by
Islam should be maintained in their pristine purity unsullied by extraneous

Shah Wali-Ullah directed his teachings towards reorienting the Muslim society with
the concepts of basic social justice, removing social inequalities, and balancing the
iniquitous distribution of wealth. He established several branches of his school at
Delhi for effective dissemination of his ideas. In his book Hujjat-ullah-il-Balighah,
he pinpointed the causes of chaos and disintegration of Muslim society. These were

1. Pressure on public treasury, the emoluments given to various people who render
no service to the state.

2. Heavy taxation on peasants, merchants and workers, with the result that tax
evasion was rampant. According to Shah Wali-Ullah, a state can prosper only if there
were light and reasonable taxes.


Shah Wali-Ullah was responsible for awakening in the community the desire to win
back its moral fervor and maintain its purity. To rescue a communitys conscience,
belief and faith from destruction was no small achievement. Even after his death in
1762, his sons and followers carried on his work and noble mission. Many future
Islamic leaders and thinkers were inspired by his example.

In short the Muslim Renaissance Movement launched by Shah Wali-Ullah was the
forerunner of all the future freedom movements of Indo-Pakistan. Maulana
Mohammad Qasim Nanotvi founder of Madressah Deoband and Sir Syed Ahmed

Khan were among his followers. Later on his son Shah Abdul Aziz founded the Jihad
Movement which was carried forward by Syed Ahmed Shaheed.