Islamic rulers in the Indian subcontinent
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Muslim rule in the Indian subcontinent began in the course of a gradual Muslim conquest in the Indian subcontinent, beginning mainly after the conquest of Sindh and Multan led by Muhammad bin Qasim. Following the perfunctory rule by the Ghaznavids in Punjab, Sultan Muhammad of Ghor is generally credited with laying the foundation of Muslim rule in Northern India.
From the late 12th century onwards, Turko-Mongol Muslim empires began to establish themselves throughout the subcontinent including the Delhi Sultanate and Mughal Empire, who adopted local culture and intermarried with natives. Various other Muslim kingdoms, which ruled most of South Asia during the mid-14th to late 18th centuries, including the Bahmani Sultanate, Bengal Sultanate, Deccan Sultanates, and Gujarat Sultanate were native in origin. Sharia was used as the primary basis for the legal system in the Delhi Sultanate, most notably during the rule of Firuz Shah Tughlaq and Alauddin Khilji, who repelled the Mongol invasions of India. While rulers such as Akbar adopted a secular legal system and enforced religious neutrality.
Muslim rule in India saw a major shift in the cultural, linguistic, and religious makeup of the subcontinent. Persian and Arabic vocabulary began to enter local languages, giving way to modern Punjabi, Bengali, and Gujarati, while creating new languages including Urdu and Deccani, used as official languages under Muslim dynasties, and Hindi. This period also saw the birth of Hindustani music, Qawwali and the further development of dance forms such as Kathak. Religions such as Sikhism and Din-e-Ilahi were born out of a fusion of Hindu and Muslim religious traditions as well.
The height of Islamic rule was marked during the reign of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, during which the Fatawa Alamgiri was compiled, which briefly served as the legal system of Mughal India. Additional Islamic policies were re-introduced in South India by Mysore's de facto King Tipu Sultan.
The eventual end of the period of Muslim rule of modern India is mainly marked with the beginning of British rule, although its aspects persisted in Hyderabad State, Junagadh State, Jammu and Kashmir State and other minor princely states until the mid of the 20th century. Today's modern Bangladesh, Maldives and Pakistan remain the only Muslim majority nations in the Indian subcontinent.
Early Muslim dominion
Local kings who converted to islam existed in places such as Gujarat as early as in the 7th century. Islamic rules in India prior to the advent of the Mamluk dynasty (Delhi) include those of Umayyad Caliphate's Muhammad bin Qasim, Ghaznavids and Ghurids.
During the last quarter of the 12th century, Muhammad of Ghor invaded the Indo-Gangetic plain, conquering in succession Ghazni, Multan, Sindh, Lahore, and Delhi. Qutb-ud-din Aybak, one of his generals proclaimed himself Sultan of Delhi. In Bengal and Bihar, the reign of general Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khalji was established, where the missionaries of the Islamic faith accomplished their biggest success in terms of dawah and number of converts to Islam. In the 13th century, Shamsuddīn Iltutmish (1211–1236), established a Turkic kingdom in Delhi, which enabled future sultans to push in every direction; within the next 100 years, the Delhi Sultanate extended its way east to Bengal and south to the Deccan, while the sultanate itself experienced repeated threats from the northwest and internal revolts from displeased, independent-minded nobles. The sultanate was in constant flux as five dynasties, all of either Turkic or Afghan origin, rose and fell: the Mamluk dynasty (1206–90), Khalji dynasty (1290–1320), Tughlaq dynasty (1320–1413), Sayyid dynasty (1414–51), and Lodi dynasty (1451–1526). The Khalji dynasty, under 'Alā'uddīn (1296–1316), succeeded in bringing the northern half of South India under its control for a time before the conquered areas broke away within the next decade. Power in Delhi was often gained by violence—nineteen of the thirty-five sultans were assassinated—and was legitimized by reward for tribal loyalty. Factional rivalries and court intrigues were as numerous as they were treacherous; territories controlled by the sultan expanded and shrank depending on his personality and fortunes.
Both the Qur'an and sharia (Islamic law) provided the basis for enforcing Islamic administration over the independent Hindu rulers, but the sultanate made only fitful progress in the beginning when many campaigns were undertaken for plunder and temporary reduction of fortresses. The effective rule of a sultan depended largely on his ability to control the strategic places that dominated the military highways and trade routes, extract the annual land tax, and maintain personal authority over military and provincial governors. Sultan 'Ala ud-Din made an attempt to reassess, systematize, and unify land revenues and urban taxes and to institute a highly centralized system of administration over his realm, but his efforts were abortive. Although agriculture in North India improved as a result of new canal construction and irrigation methods, including what came to be known as the Persian wheel, prolonged political instability and parasitic methods of tax collection brutalized the peasantry. Yet trade and a market economy, encouraged by the free-spending habits of the aristocracy, acquired new impetus both in and overseas. Experts in metalwork, stonework, and textile manufacture responded to the new patronage with enthusiasm. In this period Persian language and many Persian cultural aspects became dominant in the centers of power in Meric'a, as the rulers of the Delhi Sultanate (who, though being Turkish or Afghan, had been thoroughly Persianized since the era of the Ghaznavids) patronized aspects of the foreign culture and language from their seat of power in India.
In 1339, the Bengal region became independent from the Delhi Sultanate and consisted of numerous Islamic city-states. The Bengal Sultanate was formed in 1352 after Shamsuddin Ilyas Shah, ruler of Satgaon, defeated Alauddin Ali Shah of Lakhnauti and Ikhtiyaruddin Ghazi Shah of Sonargaon; ultimately unifying Bengal into one single independent Sultanate. At its greatest extent, the Bengal Sultanate's realm and protectorates stretched from Jaunpur in the west, Tripura and Arakan in the east, Kamrup and Kamata in the north and Puri in the south.
Although a Sunni Muslim monarchy ruled by Turco-Persians, Bengali Muslims, Habshis, and Arabs, they still employed many non-Muslims in the administration and promoted a form of religious pluralism. It was known as one of the major trading nations of the medieval world, attracting immigrants and traders from different parts of the world. Bengali ships and merchants traded across the region, including in Malacca, China, Africa, Europe and the Maldives through maritime links and overland trade routes. Contemporary European and Chinese visitors described Bengal as the "richest country to trade with" due to the abundance of goods in Bengal. In 1500, the royal capital of Gaur was the fifth-most populous city in the world with 200,000 residents.
Persian was used as a diplomatic and commercial language. Arabic was the liturgical language of the clergy, and the Bengali language became a court language. Bengali was patronised by the Sultans and saved it from being corrupted by the Brahmins wishing to Sanskritise it. Sultan Ghiyathuddin Azam Shah sponsored the construction of madrasas in Makkah and Madinah. The schools became known as the Ghiyasia Banjalia Madrasas. Taqi al-Din al-Fasi, a contemporary Arab scholar, was a teacher at the madrasa in Makkah. The madrasa in Madinah was built at a place called Husn al-Atiq near the Prophet's Mosque. Several other Bengali Sultans also sponsored madrasas in the Hejaz.
The Karrani dynasty was the last ruling dynasty of the sultanate. The Mughals became determined to bring an end to Bengali imperialism. Mughal rule formally began with the Battle of Rajmahal in 1576, when the last Sultan Daud Khan Karrani was defeated by the forces of Emperor Akbar, and the establishment of the Bengal Subah. The eastern deltaic Bhati region remained outside of Mughal control until being absorbed in the early 17th century. The delta was controlled by a confederation of aristocrats of the Sultanate, who became known as the Baro-Bhuiyans. The Mughal government eventually suppressed the remnants of the Sultanate and brought all of Bengal under full Mughal control.
The Mughal Empire ruled most of the Indian subcontinent between 1526 and 1707. The empire was founded by the Turco-Mongol leader Babur in 1526, when he defeated Ibrahim Lodi, the last Pashtun ruler of the Delhi Sultanate at the First Battle of Panipat. The word "Mughal" is the Persian version of Mongol. Babur, Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb are known as the six great Mughal Emperors.
Other Islamic rulers
The sultans' failure to hold securely the Deccan and South India resulted in the rise of competing for Southern dynasties: the Muslim Bahmani Sultanate (1347–1527) and the Hindu Vijayanagara Empire (1336–1565). Zafar Khan, a former provincial governor under the Tughluqs, revolted against his Turkic overlord and proclaimed himself sultan, taking the title Ala-ud-Din Bahman Shah in 1347. The Bahmani Sultanate, located in the northern Deccan, lasted for almost two centuries, until it fragmented into five smaller states, known as the Deccan sultanates (Bijapur, Golconda, Ahmednagar, Berar, and Bidar) in 1527. The Bahmani Sultanate adopted the patterns established by the Delhi overlords in tax collection and administration, but its downfall was caused in large measure by the competition and hatred between Deccani (domiciled Muslim immigrants and local converts) and paradesi (foreigners or officials in temporary service). The Bahmani Sultanate initiated a process of cultural synthesis visible in Hyderabad where cultural flowering is still expressed in vigorous schools of Deccani architecture and painting. Madurai Sultanate was established after gaining independence from the Delhi Sultanate.
Nizam, a shortened version of Nizam-ul-Mulk, meaning Administrator of the Realm, was the title of the native sovereigns of Hyderabad state, India, since 1719, belonging to the Asaf Jah dynasty. The dynasty was founded by Mir Qamar-ud-Din Siddiqi, a viceroy of the Deccan under the Mughal emperors from 1713 to 1721 who intermittently ruled under the title Asaf Jah in 1924. After Aurangzeb's death in 1707, the Mughal Empire crumbled, and the viceroy in Hyderabad, the young Asaf Jah, declared himself independent.
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