(Online Course) History for IAS Mains: The Fifteenth and early Sixteenth Century – Influence of Islam on Indian Culture

The Fifteenth and early Sixteenth Century – Society and

Influence of Islam on Indian Culture

Unlike that of earlier invading tribes, the culture of Islam
was quite distinct. The real culture of Islam was represented by the Muslim
empires of Baghdad, Cairo and Cordova. The careers of this culture to India were
the Turks and the Afghans who hardly represent the culture of Islam.
Nevertheless, the cultural influence between Islam, and Indian traditions were
mutual and this is clearly borne by several institutions and particularly by the
Bhakti movement, which had its genesis in the early Bhagvatism and Vaishnavism.

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Muslim influence in the thoughts of Hindu philosophy are
manifested in the beliefs of Shankracharya’s revolt against all pluralism,
monism and repudiation of the semblance of duality; the attempts to establish
the monism on the basis of the authority of revealed scriptures, and his
tendency to regard his own activities as the mere restoration of the purity of
Indian thought and the original truth has great parallels in the world of Islam
It is not impossible, as historical evidences indicate, that Shankaracharya was
acquainted with the elements of Islamic thought.

Islam reopened the Indian doors to the west after a lapse of
several centuries.

Islam brought internal peace and uniform administration to
the whole of North India which helped in promoting the unity of Indian outlook.
Islam also reinforced mis aspect by introducing uniformity in social manners :
dress, food, customs and beliefs Another impact of Islam was felt in growth and
development of urban centres. Court etiquette largely influence the creed and
conduct of all transgressing rehgidus boundaries. Babur in his memories recalled
no Hindu or Islamic way of life but a common Hindustani-way.

The process towards uniformity was greatly strengthened by
the introduction of a common revenue system and spread of common methods in war
and peace.

Besides the growth of the Indo-Islamic architecture which
combined the sarcenic sense of form and Indian conception of embellishment
albeit as permitted by the Quranic scriptures. The same achievement is
exemplified in painting, weaving, metullurgy and gardening.

Perhaps the most significant development was the growth and
devolution of a composite language- Urdu which efficiently combined the
materials derived from ancient Indian sources and innovations of the new

Simultaneously the growth and development of literature in
regional language due to the efforts of religious reformers who were either
non-Hindu, but mostly non Brahmins. The efflorescence of regional literature was
the maximum where the affinity between the Hindus and Muslims was greatest.

Large scale ‘intermixing following the conversions led to the
establishment of a more or less homogeneous racial type and the development of a
common cultural and religious patterns This explains for the support that the
regional kings derived in their fights against the forces of Delhi.

These regional rulers were great patrons of literature in the
local languages and helped considerably in the perpetuation of poetry and
literature of languages such as Gujarati. Bengali etc.

In the field of religion, both from the Hindu and the Muslim
side there was an attempt towards rapprochement The similarities between
Vaishnavism and Sufism bear an unmistakable testimony to the fact Both
emphasised upon the rediscovery of man and self realization outside the sarcam
of conventions and dogmas.

The main social result of, the introduction of Islam as a
religion into India was the division of society on a vertical basis. Before the
thirteenth century, Hindu society was divided horizontally.

By the end of the 16th century the modus Vivendi between
different cultures of the north had already been established. At the top the
aristocracy attained a uniformity in behaviour, mode of life and general
outlook, regardless of the differences in faith. The mass, on the other hand;
had also established a kind of mutual toleration which enabled them to face the
common problems’ and share the common festive delights.


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