Islam in South Asia
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|507 million (2010)|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Sri Lanka||1,967,227 (9.71%)|
|Urdu, Classical Arabic (Sacred language), Bengali, Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi, Malayalam, Kashmiri, Saraiki, Balochi, Dari, Gujarati, Memoni, Bihari, Sinhalese with Arabic dialects, Rohingya and more|
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|Islam in South Asia|
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Islam in South Asia has existed since the beginning of Islamic history. There are at least 507 million South Asian Muslims, informally known as Desi Muslims, forming 31.4% of South Asia's population. In addition, about 30.6% of all Muslims live in South Asia, which is the largest regional population of Muslims in the world.
Islam first came to the western coast of India when Arab traders as early as the 7th century AD came to coastal Malabar and Konkan-Gujarat. Cheraman Juma Masjid in Kerala is thought to be the first mosque in India, built in 629 AD by Malik ibn Dinar. Following an expedition by the governor of Bahrain to Bharuch in the 7th century AD, immigrant Arab and Persian trading communities from South Arabia and the Persian Gulf began settling in coastal Gujarat. After the Islamic conquest of Persia was completed, the Muslim Arabs then began to move towards the lands east of Persia and in 652 captured Herat.
In 712 CE, a young Arab general Muhammad bin Qasim conquered most of the Indus region for the Umayyad empire, to be made the "As-Sindh" province with its capital at Al-Mansurah, 72 km (45 mi) north of modern Hyderabad in Sindh. Sindh became the easternmost province of the Umayyad Caliphate. But due to the instability of the empire and the defeat in various wars with north Indian and south Indian rulers including the Caliphate campaigns in India, where the Hindu rulers like the south Indian Emperor Vikramaditya II of the Chalukya dynasty and Nagabhata of the Pratihara Dynasty defeated the Umayyad Arabs, they were contained to Sindh and southern Punjab. There was gradual conversion to Islam in the south, especially amongst the native Hindu and Buddhist majority, but in areas north of Multan, Hindus and Buddhists remained numerous. By the end of the 10th century CE, the region was ruled by several Hindu Shahi kings who would be subdued by the Ghaznavids.
Dawoodi Bohra Ismailli Shia was established in Gujarat in the second half of the 11th century, when Fatimid Imam Mustansir sent missionaries to Gujarat in 467 AH/1073 AD. Islam arrived in North India in the 12th century via the Turkic invasions and has since become a part of India's religious and cultural heritage. Muslims have played a prominent role in India's economic rise and cultural influence.
Early Muslim traders
Trade relations have existed between Arabia and the Indian subcontinent since ancient times. Even in the pre-Islamic era, Arab traders used to visit the Konkan-Gujarat coast and Malabar region, which linked them with the ports of South East Asia. Newly Islamised Arabs were Islam's first contact with India. Historians Elliot and Dowson say in their book, The History of India as told by its own Historians, that the first ship bearing Muslim travellers was seen on the Indian coast as early as 630 AD. H.G. Rawlinson in his book Ancient and Medieval History of India claims that the first Arab Muslims settled on the Indian coast in the last part of the 7th century AD. (Shaykh Zainuddin Makhdum's "Tuhfat al-Mujahidin" is also a reliable work.) This fact is corroborated by J. Sturrock in his South Kanara and Madras Districts Manuals and by Haridas Bhattacharya in Cultural Heritage of India Vol. IV. It was with the advent of Islam that the Arabs became a prominent cultural force in the world. Arab merchants and traders became the carriers of the new religion and they propagated it wherever they went.
In Malabar, the Mappilas may have been the first community to convert to Islam. Intensive missionary activities were carried out along the coast and many other natives embraced Islam. These new converts were now added to the Mappila community. Thus, among the Mappilas we find both the descendants of the Arabs through local women and converts from among the local people.
During the 7th century, the Rashidun Caliphate Arabs entered modern-day Afghanistan after decisively defeating the Sassanian Persians in Nihawand. Following this colossal defeat, the last Sassanid Emperor, Yazdegerd III, who became a hunted fugitive, fled eastward deep into Central Asia. In pursuing Yazdegerd, the route the Arabs selected to enter the area was from north-eastern Iran and thereafter into Herat, where they stationed a large portion of their army before advancing toward northern Afghanistan.
A large number of the inhabitants of northern Afghanistan accepted Islam through Umayyad missionary efforts, particularly under the reign of Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik and Umar ibn AbdulAziz. In south, Abdur Rahman bin Samara introduced Islam to the natives of Zabulistan which was ruled by the Zunbils.
During the reign of Al-Mu'tasim Islam was generally practiced amongst most inhabitants of the region and finally under Ya'qub-i Laith Saffari, Islam was by far, the predominant religion of Kabul along with other major cities of Afghanistan. The father of Abu Hanifa, Thabit bin Zuta, was a native from modern-day Afghanistan. He immigrated to Kufa (in Iraq), where Hanifa was born. Later, the Samanids propagated Sunni Islam deep into the heart of Central Asia, as the first complete translation of the Qur'an into Persian occurred in the 9th century. Since then, Islam has dominated the country's religious landscape. Islamic leaders have entered the political sphere at various times of crisis, but rarely exercised secular authority for long.
Although soon after conquering the Middle East from the Byzantine empire and the Sassanid Empire, Arab forces had reached the present western regions of Pakistan, during the period of Rashidun caliphacy, it was in 712 CE that a young Arab general called Muhammad bin Qasim conquered most of the Indus region for the Umayyad empire, to be made the "As-Sindh" province with its capital at Al-Mansurah, 72 km (45 mi) north of modern Hyderabad in Sindh. Sindh became the easternmost province of the Umayyad Caliphate. But the instability of the empire and the defeat in various wars with north Indian and south Indian rulers including the Caliphate campaigns in India, where the Hindu rulers like the south Indian Emperor Vikramaditya II of the Chalukya dynasty and Nagabhata of the Pratihara Dynasty defeated the Umayyad Arabs, they were contained till only Sindh and southern Punjab. There was gradual conversion to Islam in the south, especially amongst the native Hindu and Buddhist majority, but in areas north of Multan, Hindus and Buddhists remained numerous. By the end of the 10th century CE, the region was ruled by several Hindu Shahi kings who would be subdued by the Ghaznavids.
Later Muslim conquest
Muslim incursions resumed under later Turkic and Central Asian Mongol dynasties with more local capitals, who supplanted the Caliphate and expanded their domains both northwards and eastwards and led to the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate. Under Sabuktigin, Ghazni found itself in conflict with the Shahi Raja Jayapala. When Sabuktigin died and his son Mahmud ascended the throne in 998, Ghazni was engaged in the North with the Qarakhanids when the Shahi Raja renewed hostilities. In the first half of the 10th century, Mahmud of Ghazni added the Punjab to the Ghaznavid Empire and conducted 17 raids on modern-day India. In the 11th century, Ghazi Saiyyad Salar Masud played a significant role in the conversion of locals (Hindus) to Islam. Tughril was the grandson of Seljuq and brother of Chaghri, under whom the Seljuks wrested an empire from the Ghaznavids. Initially the Seljuqs were repulsed by Mahmud and retired to Khwarezm, but Tughril and Chaghri led them to capture Merv and Nishapur (1037). Later they repeatedly raided and traded territory with his successors across Khorasan and Balkh and even sacked Ghazni in 1037. In 1040 at the Battle of Dandanaqan, they decisively defeated Mas'ud I of the Ghaznavids, forcing him to abandon most of his western territories to the Seljuqs. A more successful invasion came at the end of the 12th century from Muhammad of Ghor. This eventually led to the formation of the Delhi Sultanate. Tīmūr bin Taraghay Barlas, known in the West as Tamerlane or "Timur the lame", was a 14th-century warlord of Turco-Mongol descent, conqueror of much of western and central Asia, and founder of the Timurid Empire (1370–1507) in Central Asia; the Timurid dynasty survived until 1857 as the Mughal dynasty of India.
Last Muslim conquest
Ahmed Shah Abdali– a Pashtun – embarked on a conquest in South Asia starting in 1747. In the short space of just over a quarter of a century, he forged one of the largest Muslim empires of the 18th century. The high point of his conquests was his victory over the powerful Marathas in the third Battle of Panipat 1761. In South Asia his empire stretched from the Indus at Attock all the way to the outskirts of Delhi. Uninterested in long term of conquest or in replacing the Mughal Empire, he became increasingly pre occupied with revolts by the Sikhs. His empire started to unravel not long after his death.
|Islam by country|
South Asian Muslims are concentrated in Afghanistan (99%), Bangladesh (90%), Pakistan (96%) and Maldives (100%).
- Muslim conquests of the Indian subcontinent
- Muslim nationalism in South Asia
- Caste system among South Asian Muslims
- Islam in Europe
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Up to about the tenth century the largest settlement of Arabs and Persian Muslim traders are not found in Malabar however but rather more to the north in coastal towns of the Konkan and Gujarat, where in pre-Islamic times the Persians dominated the trade with the west. Here the main impetus to Muslim settlement came from the merchants of the Persian Gulf and Oman, with a minority from Hadramaut.
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Islam was introduced into Gujarat in the 7th century A.D. The first Arab raid came in 635 when the Governor of Bahrain sent an expedition against Broach. Then through the centuries colonies of Arab and Persian merchants began sprouting in the port cities of Gujarat, such as Cambay, Broach and Surat.
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