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The Contact between Hindu Culture and Muslim Culture in India: An Introduction

The Muslims came to India as invaders in A.D. 712 and settled down in Multan and Sindh. However,
they’d started coming to India as traders much earlier. They used to carry out their trading activities in
south India. As rulers, they settled down along the sea-coast from Sind to Kathiawar and Gujarat.

Several books of Hindu scholars on medicine, mathematics and astronomy made their way to Arabia
and helped in the intellectual development of Muslims.

The impetus which the Bhakti movement among the Hindus received from Muslim ideas has also
been mentioned. There are some indications of the influence of the dress, customs and manners of the
Arab Muslims on the people in south India but as a scientific investigation of this has not yet been
made, we cannot venture any positive assertion on the point.
But by the end of the tenth century, the Muslims had only touched the periphery of Hindu culture;
they were yet far from its centre. The real contact between Hindu and Muslim culture began not even
with the occupation of the Punjab and Multan by the Ghaznavides in the eleventh century, but with
the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate. The invasions of north India by the Muslim began from
Ghazni ~ now called Afghanistan ~ together with a part of Iran. This was one of the large states set up
by adventurous Turkish chiefs after the power of Abbas Khilafat had begun to decline. The first
invasion of Punjab was made by Subuktagin in 986-987. His son , Mahmud, carried on wars of pillage
and conquests throughout his reign and succeeded in establishing Ghaznavi rule which lasted for
about 150 years over Peshawar and a large part of western Punjab. In 1170, Muhammad Ghori, who
had wrested the ‘Empire of Ghazni’ from the Ghaznavi dynasty opened a new campaign in a bid to
extend his territory in India. After suffering one crushing defeat, he and his general, Qutubuddin
Aibak, exploited the dissensions among the Rajput princes and succeeded in conquering a
considerable part of northern India. When Muhammad Ghori died, Qutubuddin Aibak became the
independent ruler of the kingdom of India, which came to be known as the Sultanate of Delhi. This
was in A.D. 1206.
The Delhi Sultanate was ruled by several Muslim dynasties one after another for about 300 years
though its extent from almost the whole of India under Alauddin Khilji to a very small area
surrounding the city of Delhi under the Syeds.
The establishment of the establishments of the Delhi Sultanate was an epoch-making event in the
history of India. After the death of Harsha, it had been for the first time in 500 years that India had a
fair degree of political unity. Though the new rulers were foreigners, they made India their home. As
they were representatives of an advanced international culture and maintained constant contact with
the seats of their culture outside India, it took them very long to completely Indianised.

as we shall see that the attempt to make the Delhi Sultanate an Islamic state even in this limited sense did not succeed. . its failures as well as its successes. In this. to revive the national unity of India. he was greatly helped by having before him the 300 years of history of the Delhi sultanate. could not even understand it. far from turning this spontaneous process of unification to some purpose. Akbar who made a conscious effort.e.As a matter of fact. they wanted to establish in India the same type of Islamic state that existed in other Muslim countries. for the first time in the thousand years that had passed since the death of Harsha. a dynastic monarchy limited by the Shariah and giving its non-Muslim subjects religious and cultural freedom but slightly fewer political rights. The Delhi Sultanate. However. But the very fact of Hindu and Muslims living together had begun the process of cultural understanding which bore fruit after three centuries. It only had the unfortunate result of preventing the political unity of India from taking the shape of a new national unity. i. It was the Mughal Emperor.