India’s introduction to Islam was through Arab traders who came to the western coast of India in late 7th century AD. India and Arab trade relations existed way before Islam which is agreed and accepted by historians.
H G Rawlinson in his book ‘Ancient and Medieval History of India’ wrote that “The first Arab Muslims began settling in the towns on the Indian coast in the last part of the 7th century.” These traders married India women and settled here.
India was among the very few countries which have one of the first few mosques in the world. The first mosque of the county was built in 629 AD by an Arab trader at Kodungallur, now part of Kerala. And this equation pretty much explains the presence of Islam in India long before the Muslim invaders arrived.
I read very interesting story by Devdutt Pattanaik on Dailyo website, He profoundly explained that historians have avoided the use of term “Muslim Invaders” or “Islamic Invasion” and they have used the words like Arab, Turk and Mongol/Mughal invasions. This happened because those invasions were motivated by economic or political interests and not by religious call.
Why I am raising these points after such a long time is because these questions have started haunting me after unfortunate 9/11 incident and the Iraq invasion that followed. The questions faced by Muslims globally face by Muslims in India as well.
Different perspective and positions makes these questions justifiable although some stand indifferent and some annoyed. This fast changing world where most of us have changed their path but some are still blamed for their lethargic ways in the community.
And this has led to stereotyping a particular community and in the process; those who are competing with the pace of changing environment are also being stigmatized. This stereotyping has traumatized a common Muslim who is as normal as others in a civil society.
Being Muslim in today’s world often means carrying a special burden of suspicion and prejudice on one hand and social, political and religious conservatism on the other.
The ordinary Muslim is caught between the increasingly stringent anti-Muslim propaganda and equally strident religious fervor of the jihadi Muslims wherever they exist in the world.
Both sides are pushing ordinary Muslims towards making a clear choice between being either anti-Muslim or pro-jihadi. However, this is not a choice every Muslim wants to make. Many Muslims want to maintain the religious identity of their birth without being part of its fringe extremist elements.
Although like an ordinary Indian, Muslims in India are also struggling for their livelihood, their job security, the rising inflation etc. But when you look at the today’s media, they portray a Muslim such as he only thinks about establishing Islam all the over the world and wants to kill every infidel on the earth.
We are fortunate that we have a rich history of tolerance and mutual respect and only India is the country where 2 communities with separate background stayed and staying together for centuries. And in a natural discourse they both benefited from each other. However, how different their outlook may be but cultural exchange does take place. Both the communities imbibed each other’s thoughts, traditions and customs. This Hindu-Muslim unity left tremendous impact on the culture of India.
On the other hand, onslaught of religious extremism and rapidly vanishing humanism poses its own challenges. This extremism in every aspect of life kills within. We are being invaded all around by these unseen dangers which will tarnish the fabric of our social and transcendental values.
Thus those responsible for bringing the change and believes in Ganga-Jumni heritage should rise to face these challenges!