(This is a reproduction of the booklet “Islamization of India by the Sufis” – by Shri Purushottam. This is the 2nd part of a 3 part series. You can read the 1st part here.)
Shahid Salar Masud Ghazi : The Sword or Quran
Amongst the Sufi saints who wielded the sword, perhaps the name of Shahid Salar Masud Ghazi stands on the top. He was Mahmud Ghaznavi’s sister’s son and had persuaded him to destroy the Somnath temple.
He entered Bharat from the North West with his father and a few thousand cavalry. From the first day, he offered to Hindus-‘Sword or Quran’. His forces swelled as local recruits joined him; and he marched as far as Bahraich (U.P.). The route that he took is littered with tombs and graves of his soldiers and officers who were slain fighting the Hindu forces. These can be recognized by the word Shaheed (martyr) or Ghazi (a slayer of Kaffirs) attached with their names.
Two such graves in Lucknow have recently (post partition) become famous and now attract thousands of Hindu devotees who have contributed most of the money for their expansion and decoration.
Khamman Pir Baba of Lucknow
One of these is known as the Mazar of Khamman Pir Baba at the Charbagh Railway Station, Lucknow. It is awkwardly situated between the Railway lines. One day every week, the normal work of the Railways is entirely dislocated. Thousands of people keep crossing the lines to reach it. This man was a companion of Salar Masud and was killed by Hindus in the battle and buried where he lies today.
Shaheed Quasim Baba of Lucknow
Another grave is that of Shaheed Quasim Baba near Dilkusha, in Lucknow cantonment. He too was a companion of Salar Masud Ghazi and was killed at the place where his grave exists today. God knows how many Hindus he and his companion ‘saints’ killed for refusing to accept Islam? The news item in Dainik Jagaran, Lucknow dt. 25-07-94 shall therefore always stand a historical monument of Hindu ignorance or political opportunism along with the shrine of Salar Masud at Bahraich, Muinuddin Chisti at Ajmer, Nizamuddin at Delhi and thousands of others who contributed significantly to the Islamization of Bharat.
According to this report, Mr. Moti Lal Vora, then Governor of U.P., after offering the ceremonial chadar at the Mazar of the said Shaheed Quasim Baba told the people gathered there that “The noblest message for the benefit of humanity given by Rishis, Munis and Sufi saints is not confined to any country, religious group or community. Hazarat Shaheed Quasim Baba too, for the liberation of human society , went beyond the narrow boundaries of religion, community, language and territory when he preached love, unity and humanism.” His excellency expressed happiness that the U.P. Chief Minister, Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav had got a road constructed upto the Mazar and provided it with water and electricity supply.
Addressing the same gathering, Mr. Mulayam Singh said that “This 900 years old shrine is worshiped by people belonging to all religions and faiths. This is an excellent example of our Ganga Yamuna composite culture. It is our determination to fulfil the edict of Shaheed Baba to achieve National integration, communal harmony, mutual love and brotherhood.” The cantonment land near the shrine has been transferred to the shrine.
The photographs and news items regarding similar functions at the Mazar of Muinuddin Chisti at Ajmer, and Nizamuddin Aulia at Delhi where our Presidents, Vice-Presidents and Prime Ministers, in order to prove their secularism and great respect for the Islamic faith, flock to offer ceremonial Chadar and gifts, frequently appear in national news papers.
These cruel fanatics who offered only “death or Quran” to innocent teachers, peasants, women and children, are presented by Hindu dignitaries as Rishis, Munis and Saints, excellent example of National Integration and Communal harmony who promoted Hindu-Muslim brotherhood.
How does one explain this phenomenal ignorance, political opportunism or chicanery?
Coming back to Salar Chazi, when he had entered Bharat, the Hindu rules had asked him what was the justification for invading a land without any provocation? Masud had replied in words which should remove any doubts regarding the purpose of such unprovoked invasions by Muslims from across the border. He said : “The land belongs to Allah. He gives it to any one of His slaves whom He wants to favour; my ancestors’ belief is this “ To convert Kaffirs to Islam is a duty. If they refuse, they should be killed.”11
When he reached Delhi fresh reinforcements from Ghazni helped him in defeating Mahipal, the then ruler. A large number of Hindus and Muslims were killed. Masud recruited 5000 to 6000 local mercenaries and crossed the Ganga near Kannauj whose Raja, a vassal of Mahmud Ghaznavi helped him. Masud, continuing his “Islam or death” March reached the holy tank at Satrik in Distt. Barabanki, U.P. where he made his head quarter. From Satrik he sent his commanders in all directions. While bidding them goodbye he said : “We commit you to the care of God. Wherever you go persuade Hindus to accept Islam. If they do, be kind and considerate to them otherwise slay them”.12 Thereafter, they embraced each other and departed on their mission.
The Muslim historian applauds : “What a scene? What a friendship? What a firmness of belief? For the propagation of the true faith of Islam without caring for their personal aggrandizement or safety, to jump into the sea of Kufr.”13
Salar Masud was killed in a battle by the Pasi Raja Suhel Dev, and buried in Distt. Baharaich, U.P. where he died. His body was later on dug up and buried perhaps by Muslim Sultan Mohd. Bin Tughlak in the famous sacred place of Hindu pilgrimage Suraj Kund. The prefix and suffix of Shaheed and Ghazi attached to his name tell the tale of his life devoted to forcibly converting and killing thousands of Hindus, and ultimately getting killed in this effort.
Saiyed Athar Abbas Rizvi in his monumental book ‘History of Sufism in India’ (2 Vol.) aptly comments: “To the Hindus who consider him a saint of miraculous powers, the number of their brethren he killed or Islamized was then, as it is now, meaningless.” They worship him! And those, who are unable to travel to the tomb at Bahraich, worship at one of the many symbolic graves scattered from Punjab to Eastern Bengal. These symbolic graves represent events of Salar Masud’s life, and are worshipped with fervor equivalent to that of the one at Bahraich.
Bale Miyan of Nauchandi, Meerut
Mention many be made here of one such important Mazar namely that of Bale Miyan near the famous Nauchandi temple at Meerut (U.P.) It appears that a fierce battle was fought here when the troops of Masud attacked the temple. The Hindus fought and killed the commander and many others. The main grave (perhaps of the commander) has been called the Mazar of Bale Miyan (i.e. Masud), whose real grave is in Bahraich. Small graves nearby appear to be of the Muslim soldiers. Recently , the Muslim M.P. of the area has spent Rs. 4 Lakhs of secular public money out of his discretionary grant for development works to construct a hall at the Mazar. The Hindu temple hardly 100 ft. away across the road stands neglected and forlorn because any attempt to add a hall to the Hindu temple will be against the secular character of the Government of Bharat.
Some Sufi orders devoted several years of their lives to the practice of Yoga and ascetic exercises in the wilderness so that the fame of their ability to perform miracles and supernatural feats helped them to convert their Hindu visitors. It is believed that impressed by these stories of actual performance of miracles (and supernatural powers), Hindus became their disciples and ultimately converted to Islam. Not only did they convert many animists, Buddhists and Hindus in Bharat but their activities extended from there to Sumatra and Jawa, converting their Hindu, Bouddh and tribal population to Islam.15
Suhrawardiya, Shaikh Jalalu’d-Din Tabrizi, Makhdum Jahaniyan and his brother, Raju Qattal were some of the very active propagators of Islam. The sufis trained in the Khanaqah of Shaikh Alaud-Daula Simnani, Mir Sayyad Ali Hamadri and his son and successor, Mir Muhammad, considered the conversion of Hindus to Islam as one of their main objective.16 The extent of Islamization of Hindu Bharat by these Sufis is indeed astounding. In this brief essay, we shall mention only a few cases as illustrations of their work.
Badauni claims that Shaikh Dawud of Chati converted fifty to a hundred Hindus each day in Punjab and Sindh. Despite Akbar’s prohibition against forced conversion, Shaikh Dawud’s successor, Shah Abul Maali and Sufis in other Qadriyya Khanqahs never hesitated in using force in their proselytizing mission. Even Mulla Shah converted a large number of Hindus to Islam.17
The Rashidiyya Khanqahas of the Qadiriyyas between Jaunpur and Bihar, in areas sparsely populated by Muslims, were more actively engaged in proselytization.
Diwan Abdur Rashid’s disciples and descendants also established Khanqahs through out Bengal. The support given to the Qadiriyya Khanqah of Shaikh Niamatullah Qadiri and his successors by prince Shah Shuja, and later by Aurangzeb, helped to invigorate their proselytizing activities resulting in that area becoming a Muslim majority area.
Shaikh Jalal of Sylhet and his Turistani disciples Khwajagan and the Naqshbandiyyas of Central Asia, some of whom would devote a few years of their lives fighting against kafirs before converting them to islam, were all embedded with missionary fervor. The Sufis of the Shattariyya, Qadiriyya and the Naqshbandiyya orders who began establishing their Khanqahs during the fifteenth century were deeply aware of the proselytizing traditions of their ancestors in Persia and Central Asia, and brought their knowledge to bear upon conditions in Bharat in order to gain converts.18
Bengal to Malwa
They established their Khanqahs from Bengal to Malwa and later on their disciples established Khanqahs as far away as Gujarat.19
There is a similar story of another Sufi Shaikih Jalaulddin Tabrizi. He was living at Lakhnauti in Bengal. There he established a Khanqah and attached many lands and gardens to it. Then he shifted to Devtalla. There a Kafir Hindu or Boddh had erected a large temple and a well. The Shaikh demolished the temple and constructed a Takiya (Khanqah) over it. He converted a large number of Kafirs (Hindus and Boddhs). However, the Shaikh’s memory is treasured by Hindus and Muslims alike. Dev Talla came to be known as Tabrizabad and attracts large number of pilgrims.
After consolidating the proselytizing work in Bengal Jalaluddin shifted to Badaun in U. P. There also he converted large number of Hindus to Islam.
The credit of Islamizing East Bengal which later opted for Pakistan goes to Sufi orders.
One Raja Ganesh occupied the throne of Bengal in 1409 CE. He sought to establish his authority by getting rid of prominent ulema and Sufis who were creating trouble in the Hindu State. Qutbul Alam Shaikh Nurul Huq wrote to Sultan Ibrahim Sharqi to come and save the Muslims of Bengal. Ibrahim Sharqi responded to the call, and Raja Ganesh finding himself too weak to face the challenge, appealed to Shaikh Nurul Huq, the very person whom he wanted to get rid of, for help. The latter promised to intercede on his behalf, if he became a Musalman.
The helpless Raja was willing but his wife refused to agree. Ultimately a compromise was made by the Raja offering to retire from the world and permitting his son, Jadu to be converted and ascend his throne. On Jadu being converted and enthroned as Jalaluddin Shah, Shaikh Nurul Huq induced Sultan Ibrahim to withdraw his armies.20
The converted Raja Jadu, now Jalaluddin Muhammad forcibly converted hosts of Hindus to Islam during his reign of seventeen years (1414- 1431). Dr. Wise writes that : “The only condition he offered were : Koran or Death ….Many Hindus fled to Kamrup and the Jungles of Assam, but it is nevertheless probable that more Muhammadans were added to Islam during his reign of seventeen years (1414-31) than in the next three hundred years”. And Barbosa writes that: “It is obviously an advantage in the sixteenth century Bengal to be a Moor (Mussalman) in as much as the Hindus daily become Moors to gain the favour of their rulers.”21 If a Raja of the stature of Ganesh could not face up to the Ulema and the Sufis, smaller Rajas and Zamindars were still worse placed. Petty Rajas and Zamindars were converted to Islam with their wives and children, if they could not pay their revenue or tribute in time. Such practice appears to be common throughout the whole country as instances of it are found from Gujrat to Bengal.22
Contrary to general belief, in place of being kind to the Hindus as saints should be, the Sufis wished Hindus to be accorded a second class citizenship if they refused to be converted. Only one instance, that of Shaikh Abdul Quddus Gangohi (Saharanpur U. P.) need be cited because he belonged to the Chishita Silsila considered to be the most tolerant of all Sufi Groups. He wrote letters to Sultan Sikandar Lodi, Babur and Humayun to re-invigorate the Shariat and reduce the Hindus to payers of land tax and Jiziyah. To Babur he wrote. “ Extend utmost patronage and protection to Ulema and mystics (Sufis)…that they should be maintained and subsidized by the state. No non-Muslim should be given any office…further more, in conformity with principles of the Shariat, they should be subjected to all types of indignities and humiliations.”23 The list of atrocities committed upon the Hindus for forcing them to convert to Islam, is endless.
(To be continued in the next part)
11. Elliot and Dowson : History of India by its own Historians Vol.II; p-534.
14. Athar Abbas Rizvi : A History of Sufism in India Vol. I, p-314
15. Ibid, p-427
16. Ibid, Vol.- II, p-426
17. Ibid, p-427
18. Ibid, p-426
20. K.S. Lal : The Legacy of Muslim Rule in India, p-202
21. Ibid, p-234
22. Ibid, p-236
23. Ibid, p-237