Sikandar Butshikan

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Sikandar Butshikan
Sultan of Kashmir
Reign 1389–1413 CE
House Shah Miri dynasty
Religion Sunni Islam

Sikandar Shah Miri better known as Sikandar Butshikan ("Sikandar the Iconoclast"), was the sixth sultan of the Shah Miri dynasty of Kashmir. He ruled the kingdom from 1389 to 1413 and is remembered for his strenuous efforts to convert the Hindu people, the original inhabitants of Kashmir, to Islam. These efforts included destruction of numerous old temples, prohibition of Hindu rites, rituals and festivals and even the wearing of clothes in the Hindu style.


Persecution of Hindus[edit]

Sultan Sikandar and Malik Saif-ud-Din working out the motivational inputs of Sufi Saint, Mir Mohammad Hamadani waged a crusade against the Hindus to realise their conversion to Islam. Due to his actions, large numbers of Hindus converted, fled, or were killed for refusal to convert.[1]

A rare photo of ruins of Martand Sun Temple taken in 1868 by John Burke

Sikandar won the sobriquet of but-shikan or idol-breaker, due to his actions related to the desecration and destruction of numerous temples, caityas, viharas, shrines, hermitages and other holy places of the Hindus and Buddhists. He banned dance, drama, music and iconography as aesthetic activities of the Hindus and Buddhists and fiated them as heretical and un-Islamic. He forbade the Hindus to apply a tilak mark on their foreheads. He did not permit them to pray and worship, blow a conch shell or toll a bell. Eventually he went on burning temples and all Kashmiri texts to eliminate Shirk. Sikandar stopped Hindus and Buddhists from cremating their dead. Jizya (poll-tax) equal to 4 tolas of silver was imposed on the Hindus.

Records of cruelty[edit]

Records Baharistan-i-Shahi:

"Hindus were forcibly converted to Islam and were massacred in case they refused to be converted'," writes Hasan, a Muslim chronicler. He further observes, "And Sikandarpora (a city laid out by Sultan Sikandar) was laid out on the debris of the destroyed temples of the Hindus. In the neighbourhood of the royal palaces in Sikandarpora, the Sultan destroyed the temples of Maha-Shri built by Praversena and another by Tarapida. The material from these was used for constructing a 'Jami' mosque in the middle of the city."

"Towards the fag end of his life, he (Sultan Sikandar) was infused with a zeal for demolishing idol-houses, destroying the temples and idols of the infidels. He destroyed the massive temple at Beejbehara. He had designs to destroy all the temples and put an end to the entire community of infidels," puts Bharistan-i-Shahi.

In his second Rajtarangini, the historian Jonraj has recorded, "There was no city, no town, no village, no wood, where the temples of the gods were unbroken. When Sureshavari, varaha and others were broken, the world trembled, but not so the mind of the wicked king. He forgot his kingly duties and took delight day and night in breaking images."

Writes Ajit Bhatracharjee, "Sikandar (1389–1413) equalled the most blood-thirsty and iconoclastic Muslim conquerors anywhere in his zeal to obliterate all traces of the Hindu religion and convert its followers to Islam on pain of death. Temples were levelled and some of the grandest monuments of old damaged and disfigured. Thousands of Hindus escaped across the borders of Kashmir, others were massacred." He further records, "Hindu temples were felled to the ground and for one year a large establishment was maintained for the demolition of the grand Martand temple. But when the massive masonry resisted all efforts, fire was applied and the noble buildings cruelly defaced." According to M.Mujeeb, Sikandar, the iconoclast of Kashmir, made forcible conversions a sustained political policy.

To quote Firishta, "Many of the Brahmans rather than abandon their religion or their country poisoned them selves, some emigrated from their homes while a few escaped the evil of banishment by becoming Mohamadans."

Puts A.K. Mujumdar, "These Sufi Muslim immigrants brought with them that fanatic iconoclastic zeal which distinguished Islam in other parts of India, but from which Kashmir was happily free up to this time." He further records, "Sikandar's reign was disgraced by a series of acts, inspired by religious bigotry and iconoclastic zeal for which there is hardly any parallel in the annals of the Muslim rulers of Kashmir."[2]


His cousins were ruling the area from Kabul to Sind (Indus). They had been ruling Kabul lagmant and Swat in 1190–1520, are known as Jahangiri dynasty in history.

Islamization of Kashmir[edit]

During the Shah Miri dynasty, Islam was firmly established in Kashmir and his rule has been considered controversial by some due to his rigid policies in Kashmir. In consonance with the customs in Delhi and elsewhere, Sikandar created the office of Sheikh-ul-Islam and more important, decided that the Islamic law should be valid instead of the traditional law. But, as in other places, that may have been restricted mainly to the personal law.

It was during Sikander's reign that a wave of Sufi warriors headed by Mir Muhammad Hamadani (1372–1450) arrived in Kashmir in 1393.[3] Sikunder issued orders proscribing the residence of any other than Muslims in Kashmir. He insisted on all golden and silver images being broken and melted down, and the metal coined into money. Many of the Hindus, rather than abandon their religion or their country, poisoned themselves; some emigrated from their native homes, while a few escaped the evil of banishment by becoming Muslims. After the emigration of the Hindus, Sikunder ordered all the temples in Kashmir to be thrown down and destroyed; among which was one dedicated to Maha Deo, in the district of Punjhuzara, which they were unable to destroy, in consequence of its foundation being below the surface of the neighbouring water. But the temple dedicated to Jug Dew was levelled with the ground; (...) but Sikunder (...) did not desist till the building was entirely razed to the ground, and its foundations dug up. After Digging and Destroying the Martand Temple, a copper-plate was discovered, on which was the following inscription: "having built this temple, was desirous of ascertaining from his astrologers how long it would last, and was informed by them that after eleven hundred years, a king named Sikundar would destroy it, as well as the other temples in Kashmir. Sikandar was surprised, though vexed, that the Hindu prophet should have predicted the truth, and declared, if they had placed the plate against the wall, he would have preserved the temple to belie the prophet. Having broken all the images in Kashmir, he acquired the title of the Iconoclast, 'Destroyer of Idols'."[4]

"He [Sikander] prohibited all types of frugal games. Nobody dared commit acts which were prohibited by the Sharia. The Sultãn was constantly busy in annihilating Hindus and destroyed most of the temples.[5] He strived to destroy the idols of the infidels. He demolished the famous temple of Mahãdeva at Bahrãre. The temple was dug out from its foundations and the hole (that remained) reached the water level. Another temple at Jagdar was also demolish. Rãjã Alamãdat had got a big temple constructed at Sinpur. (...) The temple was destroyed [by Sikander].[6] Sikander burnt all books the same wise as fire burns hay. All the scintillating works faced destruction in the same manner that lotus flowers face with the onset of frosty winter."[7]


  1. ^ Kaw, K.; Kashmir Education, Culture, and Science Society (2004). Kashmir and Its People: Studies in the Evolution of Kashmiri Society. A.P.H. Publishing Corporation. ISBN 9788176485371. Retrieved 7 July 2015. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ M.S. Asimov, Vadim Mikhaĭlovich Masson, Ahmad Hasan Dani, Unesco, Clifford Edmund Bosworth, Muḣammad Osimī, János Harmatta, Boris Abramovich Litvinovskiĭ (1992). Clifford Edmund Bosworth; Muḣammad Osimī, eds. History of Civilizations of Central Asia. 4. Paris: Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 1999. p. 485. ISBN 9788120815957. 
  4. ^ (Muhammad Qãsim Hindû Shãh Firishta : Tãrîkh-i-Firishta, translated by John Briggs under the title History of the Rise of the Mahomedan Power in India, first published in 1829, New Delhi Reprint 1981)
  5. ^ (Haidar Malik Chãdurãh: Tãrîkh-i-Kashmîr; edited and translated into English by Razia Bano, Delhi, 1991, p. 55.)
  6. ^ (Khwãjah Nizãmu'd-Dîn Ahmad bin Muhammad Muqîm al-Harbî: Tabqãt-i-Akbarî translated by B. De, Calcutta, 1973)
  7. ^ (Srivara, Zaina Rajtarangini)