Chapter2
Islam and Other Religions

ALTHOUGH the population of India still includes forty-five million Muslims, who enjoy a fair measure of respect and security, since partition Islam has ceased to be one of the governing forces in Indian life and politics. We need not therefore study that religion in detail, but shall confine ourselves to a brief review of the part it has played in Indian history.

The effective influence of Islam on India began, not with the Arab incursions into Sind in the eighth century, but with the systematic invasions from the north-west, by men mainly of the Turkish race, from early in the eleventh century onwards. The invaders were fierce fanatics, rejoicing above all things in the title of Ghazi or infidel slayer, and anxious in the early stages only to slay and pillage and return to the hills with their booty. Gradually the character of the invasions changed, and the invaders sought to carve out kingdoms for themselves in North-west India. The process was facilitated by the traditional inability of the Hindus to combine against a common enemy, and by the end of the twelfth century a Muslim sultanate was established in and around Delhi. For some centuries Turks, Mongols, Persians and Afghans continued to pour down into India, and before long all Northern India was under Muslim rule, though extensive areas were left under the direct control of the old Hindu chiefs, on condition of payment of tribute to the Sultan. The Delhi sultanates were characterised by dynastic instability and in three hundred years no fewer than thirty-three kings, belonging to five dynasties, occupied the throne. Only three or four of them possessed any great capacity to rule and, on the whole, the period was one of injustice and confusion.

In the sixteenth century a new group of Muslim invaders, belonging to a particular class of Mongols which had freely

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