Hindu–Islamic relations

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Hinduism and Islam are two of the world’s largest religions, whose interaction began after Islam was launched in the 7th century CE.[1]

Hinduism is a diversity-filled socio-religious way of life of the Hindu people of the Indian subcontinent, their diaspora, and some other regions which had Hindu influence in the ancient and medieval times. Islam is a monotheistic religion in which the supreme deity is Allah (Arabic: الله"the God": see God in Islam), the last Islamic prophet being Muhammad, whom Muslims believe delivered the Islamic scripture, the Qur'an. Hinduism mostly shares common terms with the dhārmic religions, including Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Islam shares common terms with the Abrahamic religions–those religions claiming descent from Abraham–being, from oldest to youngest, Judaism, Christianity, Islam.

The Qur'an and the Hadiths are the primary Islamic scriptures. The scriptures of Hinduism are the Shrutis (the four Vedas, which comprise the original Vedic Hymns, or Samhitas, and three tiers of commentaries upon the Samhitas, namely the Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads[2]); these are considered authentic, authoritative divine revelation. Furthermore, Hinduism is also based on the Smritis (including the Rāmāyana, the Bhagavad Gītā, and the Purānas, which are also considered to be equally sacred.

Hinduism and Islam share some ritual practices such as fasting and pilgrimage, but differ in their views on apostasy, blasphemy, circumcision, consanguineous marriages, idol making, henotheism, social stratification, vegetarianism, and Ahimsa as a virtue. Their historical interaction since the 7th century has witnessed periods of cooperation and syncretism, as well as periods of religious violence.

Theology and Concept of God[edit]

Islam is a system of thought that believes in absolute monotheism, called Tawḥīd.[3] Muslims are required to affirm daily, as one of the five pillars of Islam, in Shahada, that is "There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of Allah."[4][5]

Hinduism is a diverse system of thought with beliefs spanning monotheism, polytheism, panentheism, pantheism, monism, agnosticism, humanism and atheism among others. Hindus are free to choose any of these beliefs.[6][7]

Scriptures and Messengers[edit]

The scriptures of Islam are the Qurān and the Hadiths.[8] Muslims believe that Muhammad was the last messenger, and Quran was the last revelation from God to the last prophet.[9] The hadiths contain the Sunnah, or the reports of Muhammad's life, sayings, actions and examples he set. The Quran and the Hadiths are considered in Islam as the source of Islamic law, or Sharia.[10]

Hinduism has no traditional ecclesiastical order, no centralized religious authorities, no governing body, no prophet(s) nor any binding holy book.[6][11] Spiritual knowledge of Hinduism is contained in texts called Shruti ("what is heard") and Smriti ("what is remembered"). These texts discuss diverse theology, mythology, rituals, rites of passage, philosophy, and other topics. Major scriptures in Hinduism include the Vedas, Upanishads (both Śruti), the Epics, Puranas, Dharmasutras and Agamas (all smriti).[12][13]

Differences between Islam and Hinduism[edit]

Apostasy[edit]

Apostasy, that is a condition of Islam for a Muslim and conversion to another religion or atheism, is a religious crime in Islam and sometimes punishable with death.[14][15]

Hinduism allows freedom of conscience. Any Hindu can be an atheist, or can change his belief when he or she wants.[6][7]

Blasphemy[edit]

Main article: Islam and blasphemy

Blasphemy against God and its prophet is a religious crime in Islam.[16] The Quran in verse [Quran 5:33–34] and [Quran 33:57–61], and many sunnah in the Hadiths of Islam discuss blasphemy and its punishment.[16] A variety of actions, speeches or behavior can constitute blasphemy in Islam.[17] Some examples include insulting or cursing Allah or Muhammad, mockery or disagreeable behavior towards beliefs and customs common in Islam, finding faults or expressing doubts about Allah, improper dress, drawing offensive cartoons, tearing or burning holy literature of Islam, creating or using music or painting or video or novels to mock or criticize Muhammad are some examples of blasphemous acts. Punishment can range from imprisonment, flogging to execution.[17][18]

Open discussion and criticism of spiritual thoughts, ideas and deities is allowed in Hinduism.[19] The concept of "divine blasphemy" or "heresy" does not exist in Hinduism, and ancient Hindu texts make no provisions for blasphemy.[20][21]

Caste[edit]

Hindu texts such as the Manusmriti segregate people through social stratification called the caste system.[22] Islamic texts do not segregate Muslims by caste.[23][24]

While Hinduism texts do not list thousands of castes, in practice, the Hindu caste system has been described variously as four Varnas or as thousands of endogamous hereditary groups called jātis.[22] Similar to the Hindu caste structure of four Varnas, in practice, Muslims in South Asia developed a caste system that divided the South Asian Muslim society into three: the foreign-descended Ashraf Muslims, the local Ajlaf converts, and the converted Arzal untouchables at the lowest rung.[25][26] The term "Arzal" stands for "degraded" and the Arzal castes are further subdivided, like Hindu jatis, into Bhanar, Halalkhor, Hijra, Kasbi, Lalbegi, Maugta, Mehtar etc.[26][27][28] Scholars[29][30] state that caste-like social stratification is also found in Islam outside South Asia.[31][32]

Circumcision[edit]

Khitan (circumcision) of males is required in Islam. The Qur'an itself does not mention circumcision explicitly in any verse, but it is mentioned in the Hadiths of Islam. Muslim commentators consistently interpret Islamic scriptures as making male circumcision obligatory, but female circumcision as merely preferable but not required.[33]

Circumcision is not a religious requirement in Hinduism.[34]

Consanguineous marriage[edit]

Consanguineous marriage are those where the bride and groom share a grandparent or near ancestor.[35] Hinduism forbids consanguineous marriage, and strongly recommends seven degrees of biological separation between bride and groom.[36] Arranged endogamous consanguineous marriage are very common in Islam, particularly first cousin marriages, followed by second cousin marriages.[37] About 25 to 40% of all marriages in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and UAE are first cousin marriages; while overall consanguineous arranged marriages exceed 65 to 80% in various regions of the Islamic Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia.[38][39] But in Tamil Nadu and kerala, consaguineous marriages are very common among Hindus. In Tamil Nadu, a Hindu girl can marry her uncle while in Kerala, marriages between first cousins are very common.[40][41]

Jizya[edit]

Islamic scriptures, in its history and unlike Hinduism, compelled the payment of a special tax called Jizya from dhimmi, the non-Muslims who live in a Muslim state.[42][43] Jizya was a tool of social stratification and treasury's revenue from non-Muslims.[43] Jizya was a reminder of subordination of a non-Muslim under Muslims, and created a financial and political incentive to convert to Islam.[43][44]

Some historical Islamic scholars have considered violence against idol worshippers, infidels and non-Muslims as justified when it benefits Muslims and Islam, such as in case of jizya.[45] Scholars such as Sarakhsi interpreted Islamic scriptures to suggest that the proper reason to wage war, jihad and imposing jizya on unbelievers, was the disbelief in Islam by non-Muslims.[46][47][48]

When the Messenger of Allah appointed anyone as leader of an army or detachment he would especially exhort him to fear Allah and to be good to the Muslims who were with him. He would say: Fight in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah. Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war, do not embezzle the spoils; do not break your pledge; and do not mutilate the dead bodies; do not kill the children. When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withhold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to accept Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them. Then invite them to migrate from their lands to the land of Muhairs and inform them that, if they do so, they shall have all the privileges and obligations of the Muhajirs. If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah's help and fight them.

Slavery[edit]

The Quran and the Hadiths approve the institution of slavery of non-Muslims in Islam, using the words abd (slave) and the phrase ma malakat aymanukum ("that which your right hand owns").[49][50] Under Islamic law, Muslim men can have sexual relations with female captives or concubines and slaves with or without her consent.[51][52] Slaves, in Islamic belief, were master's property and the slaves did not have a right to own property, right to free movement, right to marry without their owner's permission, or right to consent.[53][54][55] Islam, in some cases, encouraged a slave's manumission, but only after a non-Muslim slave first convert to Islam.[56][57] Non-Muslim slave women who bore children to their Muslim masters became legally free upon her master's death, and her children were presumed to be Muslims as their father.[56][58] Aurangzeb, the Mughal Emperor, hired Muslim scholars to study the Quran and the Hadiths and write down the Islamic law for India in late 17th century. The resulting document was called Fatawa-e-Alamgiri, and it dedicated many chapters on the rights of Muslim men to own and buy non-Muslim slaves for work and sex.[59][60]

The practice of slavery in early and late Vedic era of Hinduism is undocumented. Arrian, the Greek historian who chronicled India about the time of Alexander the Great, wrote in his Indika,[61]

The Indians do not even use aliens as slaves, much less a countryman of their own.

—The Indika of Arrian[61]

However, some Hindu texts use the term dasa. Some scholars translate this as slave,[62] while other scholars have translated it as servant and religious devotee.[63][64] Arthasastra text of Hinduism dedicates a chapter to dasa where a financially bankrupt individual may apply and become a servant of another. Arthasastra grants a dasa legal rights, and declares abusing, hurting and raping a dasa as a crime.[62][65]

In South India, a devadasi (Sanskrit: servant of deva (god) or devi (goddess) ) is a girl "dedicated" to worship and service of a deity or a temple for the rest of her life. The dedication takes place in a Pottukattu ceremony which is similar in some ways to marriage. Originally, in addition to taking care of the temple and performing rituals, these women learned and practiced Sadir (Bharatanatya), Odissi and other classical Indian artistic traditions and enjoyed a high social status as dance and music were essential part of temple worship.[66][67][68][69]

Similarities between Islam and Hinduism[edit]

Both Hinduism and Islam believes in non-violence.

Pacifism in Islam is the tradition of nonviolence within Muslim theology.

In the Islamic telling of Cain and Abel, Abel tells his murderous brother that "If thou dost stretch thy hand against me to slay me, it is not for me to stretch my hand against thee to slay thee: for I do fear Allah".[70] Some scholars, such as Jawdat Said,[71] have identified this an example of pacifism.[72]

Prior to the Hijra travel Muhammad struggled non-violently against his oppressors in Mecca.[73] On the day of occupation of his motherland Mecca from where he had to fire away to rescue his life from the non-Muslims, Muhammad declared:

"I speak to you in the same words as Yūsuf spoke to his brothers. This day there is no reproof against you; Go your way, for you are free."[74]

Non-violence (Ahimsa) towards all living beings – in action, words and thoughts – is considered one of the most important virtues in Hinduism.[75][76] Its scriptures state that, "Ahinsa is the highest virtue, Ahinsa is the highest self-control, Ahinsa is the greatest gift, Ahinsa is the best suffering, Ahinsa is the highest sacrifice, Ahinsa is the finest strength, Ahinsa is the greatest friend, Ahinsa is the greatest happiness, Ahinsa is the highest truth, and Ahinsa is the greatest teaching.[77] War and violence must be prevented by discussion, according to Hindu scriptures.[78] However, when faced with war, violent crime or violence of words (discrimination, humiliation), Hinduism suggests appropriate protest, reasonable self-defense and a proportionate response.[79] War in self-defense is allowed in Hinduism. However, cruelty to the opponent during war is forbidden under Hinduism.[78] Wounded, unarmed opponent warriors must not be attacked or killed, they must be brought to safety and given medical treatment.[78] Children, women and civilians must not be injured during war, according to texts of Hinduism.[80] Both Islam and Hinduism remember religious occasions with fasts, and celebrate festivals.[81]

Pilgrimage is found in both religions, Hajj to Mecca in Islam, while Kumbh Mela and Tirtha Yatra in Hinduism.[81] Muslims performs 7 rounds around Kaaba during Hajj which is called Tawaf.[82] Hindus also perform one or more rounds around the center (Garbhagriya) of a temple (one to twenty-one[83]),[84][85][86] which is called as Parikrama (known in Sanskrit as pradakśiṇā). Both of them are commonly called circumambulation.[87][88]

Politics and historical interaction[edit]

H.G. Rawlinson, in his book: Ancient and Medieval History of India[89] claims the first Arab Muslims settled on the Indian coast in the last part of the 7th century. It was however the subsequent expansion of the Turkish and Persian led Muslim conquest in the Indian subcontinent over the next millennium that significantly expanded the interaction of Islam with Hinduism.[1]

Peaceful cooperation[edit]

Translation of scriptures[edit]

The Mughal Emperor Akbar commissioned many Hindu masterpieces to be translated into Persian.[90]

Girish Chandra Sen, a Brahmo Samaj missionary, was the first person to produce the complete translation of the Qur’an into Bengali in 1886.[91]

Music[edit]

Further information: Kazi Nazrul Islam

There have been instances of syncretic cooperation on music on Islamic and Hindu theme. The national poet of Bangladesh Kazi Nazrul Islam, for example, wrote a lot of Islamic devotional songs for the mainstream of Bengali folk music.[92] He also explored Hindu devotional music by composing Shama Sangeet, bhajans and kirtans, often merging Islamic and Hindu values. Nazrul's poetry and songs explored the philosophy of Islam and Hinduism.[93]

Religious violence[edit]

Further information: Religious violence in India

Historical records of religious violence are extensive for medieval India, in the form of corpus written by numerous Muslim historians. Will Durant states that Hindus were historically persecuted during Islamic rule of the Indian subcontinent.[94]

Religious violence in medieval India began in centuries before the start of Delhi Sultanate, with the raids by Turko-Mongol, Persian and Afghan armies. It intensified during Delhi Sultanate, continued through Mughal Empire, and then in the British colonial period.[95][96]

There have been periodic instances of violence against Muslims in India from before its partition from Pakistan in 1947,[97][98][99][100] frequently in the form of mob attacks on Muslims by Hindus that form a pattern of sporadic sectarian violence between the Hindu and Muslim communities. Over 10,000 people have been killed in Hindu-Muslim communal violence since 1950 in 6,933 instances of communal violence between 1954[101][102][103][104] and 1982.[105]

The roots of violence against Muslims lie in India's history, stemming from lingering resentment toward the Islamic domination of India during the Middle Ages, policies established by the country's British colonizers, the violent partition of India into a Muslim Pakistan, and a secular India with a large but minority Muslim population.[106][undue weight? ] Some scholars have described incidents of anti-Muslim violence as politically motivated and organized anti-Muslim violence are politically motivated and a part of the electoral strategy of mainstream political parties they called them pogroms[107] or acts of genocide,[108][109] or a form of state terrorism with "organized political massacres"[110] rather than mere "riots".[111] Others argue that, although their community faces discrimination and violence, some Muslims have been highly successful,[112] that the violence is not as widespread as it appears, but is restricted to certain urban areas because of local socio-political conditions, and there are many cities where Muslims and Hindus live peacefully together with almost no incidences of sectarian violence.

Food-related conflicts[edit]

Islam has restrictions on food, such as how the meat is prepared.[113] Halal meat is prepared by ritual slaughter that involves cutting the jugular veins of the animal with a sharp knife. This leads to slow death, through bleeding, of the animal.[114] Meat from animals that die of natural causes or accident is not allowed. Beef is a sought after meat among Muslims, but they strictly avoid pork and alcohol.[115][116]

Hinduism, with its emphasis on non-violence against all creatures, tends to be vegetarian, and lacto-vegetarian meals are common. However, food habits are left as a choice for Hindus. There are varied opinions regarding the permissibility of eating meat in Hinduism, depending upon the interpretation of the Hindu scriptures. Vegetarianism is a choice for most Hindus, although some sects emphasize vegetarianism. Some Hindus consider violence against animals, that is used to produce any meat, so unacceptable that they avoid eating with non-vegetarians. Most observant Hindus strictly avoid cow-based beef, but some may eat water buffalo-based beef.[115]

The manner in which an animal is slaughtered in Islamic rituals is considered cruel and barbaric by Hindus. Slaughter of a cow is considered heinous in Hinduism and has been a cause of Hindu-Muslim riots in India.[117][118]

Contemporary interaction[edit]

Bangladesh[edit]

India helped Bangladesh gain independence from Pakistan in 1971. Various agencies, such as BBC, Associated Press and Reuters have reported periodic violence against Hindus by some Muslims in Bangladesh, and attempts by the Muslim government to punish such violence.[119][120] For example, in early 2013, Hindu families were attacked and killed, as well as dozens of temples burnt/destroyed after the International Crimes Tribunal sentenced Delwar Hossain Sayeedi of the Jamaat-e-Islami to death for the war crimes committed during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.[121][122][123]

India[edit]

In the last 60 years after the Indian independence and partition, the Muslims in India have preferential treatment with their own Muslim Personal Law. Communal tensions between the Hindus and the Muslims have erupted many a times during this period. Notable incidents of this phenomenon include the demolition of the Babri Masjid (believed to have been built on the sacred site of a demolished temple marking the birthplace of Lord Rāma) and the Gujarat Riots of 2002. The Gujarat violence of 2002 is significant for recording the highest annual death toll in any event of Hindu-Muslim violence in a single state in the history of independent India: 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus were killed[124] following the murder of 59 innocent Hindu passengers allegedly by Muslim youths on a train near Godhra on 27 February. The incident that spurred the violence was when the Sabarmati Express train was attacked at Godhra allegedly by a Muslim mob[125][126] as per a preplanned conspiracy.[127] 58 Hindu pilgrims, including 25 women and 15 children, returning from Ayodhya, were killed in the attack. This incident is not an isolated incident in the Gujarat state, in other states in India, especially in rural area violence between Muslims and Hindus is a common occurrence, that can result in fatalities.[128]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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