chapter  6
15 Pages

The Coming of Islam

Some historians begin their discussion of “modern India” with the Islamic period because in many ways the presence of Islam on the subcontinent was a watershed in the self-perception and practice of Indian religion and culture, especially in Northern India. Much has been claimed and counterclaimed about Islam’s presence in India, especially by Hindu militants. There are those Hindu nationalists who insist Islam was a brutal foreign intrusion whose rulers enforced conversions, demolished temples, and in other ways sought to wipe out “infidels.” On the other hand, many historians, in seeking to refute these claims, may soft pedal the more unpleasant aspects of the Islamic presence. We shall attempt in this chapter and the next to sketch in the nature of Islam’s presence and the subcontinent’s response to it. What is obvious is that Islam in India has been no monolith – there have been many various strands that constituted its contribution to the subcontinent. Similarly, responses to it were diverse and cannot be simply characterized.