Muslim rule in India has been conveniently divided into two periods, the Sultanate of Delhi (1206-1526) and the Mughal empire (1526-1707). it continued up to 1857, though in the later stages only nominally. When the Sultanate was established, it carried with it the experience gained by the Arab rule in Sindh and the Ghaznavid rule in Punjab of about two centuries. Meanwhile a well-developed statecraft had sprung up in Muslim countries during the seventh to the twelfth centuries. This was mainly due to the universality of Islamic law. The Ghazni and Delhi sultanates cannot be isolated from the rest of the Muslim states particularly in the functioning of their institutions. There were parallel and sometimes identical institutions under the kingdoms of Ghazni and Delhi. The Sultanate of Delhi may not have possessed uninterrupted political continuity; its boundaries also constantly changed. As political entity, however, the Sultanate received sustenance from the evolution of institutions abroad and at home. The Mughal empire too in its early years lacked stability. But from Akbar (1556-1605) onwards there was undisturbed one dynasty rule. Its geographical boundaries also expanded and there was further growth of Islamic administrative institutions.
For an Islamic state, the Quran, the multiple Hadis collections and the administrative acts and principles of the Prophet had set up rules for a 'purified' system of governance. Muhammad was not only the founder of a faith, he was also the ruler of Arabia. He personally participated in war. He delivered judgements, he executed prisoners of war. He entered into treaties with tribal leaders within and potentates outside Arabia. Since everything was done at the behest of Allah which was conveyed to Muhammad in the form of revelations, his ministration is known as Nizam-i (Muhammad) Mustafa, meaning a regulated and purified system of governance based on the commands of God. Nizam-i-Mustafa is rightly translated into the English language as a theocratic administration both in letter and spirit.
Thus the state the Muslim invaders and rulers set up in India was a theocracy. This is the conclusion also arrived at by Jadunath Sarkar,1 R.P. Tripathi,2 K.M. Ashraf,3 T.P. Hughes,4 The Encyclopaedia of Islam5 and many others. "All the institutions that the Muslims either evolved or adopted were intended to subserve the law,"6 observes Tripathi. On the other hand, I.H. Qureshi says that the "supremacy of the Shara (Islamic law) has misled some into thinking that the Sultanate was a theocracy."7 Qureshi's contention may not be taken seriously, because he tries to eulogize every aspect of Muslim rule in India.8 But when Mohammad Habib declares that "it (Muslim state in India) was not a theocratic state in any sense of the word" and that "its foundation was, non-religious and secular",9 his statement calls for an appraisal.
Theocracy envisages "direct intervention and authorship of God through revelations in government of society", or "that constitution of a state in which the Almighty is regarded as the sole sovereign, and the laws of the realm as divine commands rather than human ordinances "10 Prophet Muhammad envisaged only a theocratic state for Islam. From the very beginning it had been so conceived. As P.K. Hitti Points out, "Hitherto (Battle of Badr 624 CE) Islam had been a religion within a state; in al-Madinah after Badr, it passed into something more than a state-religion - it itself became the state."11 "The history of the political structure of Islam, its system of government, laws and institutions, virtually starts from that date."12 D.De Santillana, another recognised authority on Islamic law and society, says that "Islam is the direct government of Allah, the rule of God, whose eyes are upon his people. The principle of unity and order which in other societies is called civitas, polis, state, in Islam is personified by Allah: Allah is the name of the supreme power, acting in the common interest. Thus the public treasury is the treasury of Allah, the army is the army of Allah", even the public functionaries are "the employees of Allah."13 According to Dr. Qureshi himself, the Shara "is based on the Quran which is believed by every Muslim to be the word of God revealed to His Prophet Muhammad... on these two rocks - the Quran and Hadis (the Prophet's interpretations, traditions) is built the structure of Muslim Law... This law was the actual sovereign in Muslim lands."14 "The protection of Shara," writes Ibn Hasan, "has two aspects: The propagation of the knowledge of Shara and its enforcement as law within the state. The one implied the maintenance of a class of scholars devoted to the study, the teaching and the propagation of that knowledge, and the other the appointment of one from those scholars as an adviser to the king in all his acts of state. The scholars devoted to that knowledge are called Ulama and the one selected from among them is termed Shaikh-ul Islam."15 The Shaikh-ul-Islam was the representative of the ulema and it was his duty to bring "to the notice of the King what he thought detrimental or prejudicial to the interest of his religion, and the King had little option in acting upon such an advice".16 Their advice was the establishment of the Nizam-i-Mustafa or a theocratic state.
In short, the law which obtained in medieval India under Muslim rule was the Shara which was based not on human experience but on divine revelation. It was not a secular law. Muslim state could not be a secular state. In fact Islam and secularism are mutually exclusive. One has only to read the Quran and a few Persian chronicles of medieval times to realise the extent to which the Muslim state in India was theocratic both in spirit and in action.
The fundamental basis of the Islamic polity is the attainment of complete religious uniformity, to root out heresy and to extirpate infidelity. Under it, populations everywhere were to be converted into true believers.17 The Quranic injunction is: "And when the sacred months (Ramzan) are passed, kill those who join other deities with God, wherever you shall find them. But if they shall convert... then let them go their way."18 The prophet of Islam who had accorded some sort of religious toleration to the Jews of Medina, expelled them afterward to bring about a complete religious uniformity in that city, while Caliph Omar I (CE 634-644) expelled the Jews and Christians from the whole of Arabia.19
Hindu Influence on the Muslim State
This could not be done in India. The country was too vast and the resistance of the people against Islamization of the country too determined.20 Here Islam could not be forced down the throats of the people despite persistent desire and efforts of Muslim invaders and rulers. And so during the twelve centuries of Muslim rule some compromises had to be made.
Twelve centuries is a long period to have kept the Muslim conquerors and rulers isolated from the majority population of the Hindus. In every sphere of life and activity, the Hindu fertile thought and vision influenced the rigid Muslim attitudes. In art and architecture the conquerors were inevitably impressed by the achievements of the Hindus and there came into being what is known as the Indo-Saracenic architecture. So was the case with painting and music. In classical and folk music the Hindus were past-masters, and the music that the Muslim rulers patronized in India was mainly Hindu. Similar was the case with polity. The concept of the theocratic Islamic state was not unoften influenced by the secular and tolerant traditions of Indian rules of governance although this did not change the theocratic nature of the Muslim state. Side by side the Muslim Sultanate and regional Muslim Kingdoms, there were Rajput States and the Vijayanagar Empire whose nature of administration would have been constantly watched by the Muslim kings. It is well known that Hindu kings on the western coast built mosques for the convenience of Muslim traders and settlers in India. In the fifteenth-sixteenth century Vijayanagar rulers treated their Muslim subjects with a consideration which was alien to the Islamic Shariat. For instance, Deva Raya II (1419-1449) "gave orders to enlist Mussulmans (as soldiers) in his service, allotting them estates, and erecting a mosque in the city of Vijayanagar. He also commanded that no one should molest them in the exercise of their religion, and moreover, he ordered a Koran to be placed before his throne on a rich desk."21 This policy continued throughout. Under Krishna Deva Raya (1509-1530), great equity and justice was observed " During the reign of Ram Raja (1542, 1556-1570), when, on one occasion, the Muhammadans sacrificed a cow in a mosque in the 'Turukvada' area, the excited officers and nobles, led by the king's own brother Tirumala, made a representation to the king. But he did not yield to them saying that it would not be correct to interfere in their religious practices and declaring that he was the master of the bodies of his soldiers, not their souls.22
Many Muslim scholars and rulers did not fail to notice this freedom in Hindu society and religion. To Babur, a conqueror, India provided a completely new environment. "Hindustan is a wonderful country," writes he. "Compared with our (Muslim) countries it is a different world... Once the water of Sindh is crossed, everything is in the Hindustani way people and horde, opinion and custom."23 This was due to the traditional Hindu tolerance. In spite of what the Muslims had always done to the non-Muslims in pursuance of their scriptures, the Vijayanagar kings allowed, according to Duarte Barbosa "that every man may come and go, and live according to his own creed without suffering any annoyance, and without enquiring whether he is a Christian, Jew, Moor or Heathen. Great equity and justice is observed by all."24 Abul Fazl extols the Hindus in his Ain-i-Akbari in the following words: "The inhabitants of this land are religious, affectionate, hospitable, genial and frank. They are fond of scientific pursuits, inclined to austerity of life, seekers after justice, contented, industrious, capable in affairs, loyal, truthful and constant They one and all believe in the unity of God, and as to the reverence they pay to the images of stone and wood and the like, which simpletons regard as idolatry, it is not so." In a footnote Jadunath Sarkar adds that "the same things were observed by the Chinese pilgrim Yuan Chwang in the 7th century: "The ordinary people are upright and honourable... They are faithful to their oaths and promises... In their behavior there is much gentleness and sweetness."' And of the Marathas: "The disposition of the people is honest and simple... to their benefactors they are grateful; to their enemies ruthless. If they are asked to help one in distress, they will forget themselves in their haste to render assistance."25 Even Badaoni concedes that freedom and tolerance existed among Hindus. He writes that "Hindustan is a nice large place where everything is allowed, and no one cares for another (i.e. interferes in the affairs of others) and people may go as they may".26
It stands to reason that in such an environment the Muslim mind, fanaticised by the commands of the Shariat, would have been occasionally dented by the Hindu spirit of tolerance, to breathe in freedom with a people who did not believe in one imposed version of God, one Book and one Prophet. Perhaps the first king who realised what India was, was Iltutmish, who tackled his orthodox ulema in his own way. Alauddin Khalji (1296-1316) even thought of founding a new religion which was believed to be in contravention of Islam (and the Shariat) for the Muslims were apprehensive that its enforcement would entail slaughter of a large number of Musalmans. Alauddin was illiterate and lacked the genius of taking any revolutionary step. But it appears that he recognised the fact that the rule of the Shariat was not entirely feasible in India and declared that "I know not whether these laws (his zawabits or regulations) are sanctioned by our faith or not, but whatever I conceive for the good of the state, that I decree".27 His contemporary chronicler confessed that if the Muslim kings followed the tradition of the Prophet, kingship and governance would be impossible for them in India. It was probably the experience of such rulers that prompted Ziyauddin Barani to advocate that if the enforcement of the Shariat was impossible or impracticable, new laws should be enacted by rulers. "It is the duty of a king," says he, "to enforce if he can, those royal laws which have become proverbial owing to their principles of justice and mercy. But if owing to the change of time and circumstances he is unable to enforce the laws of the ancients (Muslim rulers), he should, with the counsel of wise men.... frame laws suited to his time and circumstances and proceed to enforce them. Much reflection is necessary in order that laws, suited to his reign are properly framed, so that they in no way contravene the laws of Islam" (italics added).28 These laws Barani calls zawabits. Barani does not necessarily contradict himself. He knows the difficulties in the enforcement of the Shariat in India. Hence his advocacy of framing new laws. He also knew that the Shariat could not be superseded by any other law. Hence on every page of his Tarikh and his Fatawa-i-Jahandari he calls upon Muslim rulers to crush the Hindus in every possible manner according to the tenets of Islam.
Barani wrote in the fourteenth century. But right up to the middle of the sixteenth century no king made any laws of the kind, and the Shariat continued to be the supreme law prevalent in the Turkish, Afghan and Mughal times. They ruled with all the excesses that Islamic theory envisaged. It was late in the sixteenth century that emperor Akbar promulgated a number of regulations for "the real benefit of the people". That is, he removed to some extent the disabilities imposed on the majority of the population. Akbar was an administrative genius. His reforms cover all areas of religion and society, and their number runs into hundreds. However, we shall take note of only those major measures which were considered to be in contravention of the Shariat and the Sunnah to see how far his government was secular or theocratic.
The first revolutionary step of Akbar was the abolition of the Jiziyah, the hated discriminatory tax paid by Hindu Zimmis. The Hindus, as Zimmis, had become second class citizens in their own homeland and were suffered to live under certain disabilities. One of them was that each adult must pay a poll tax called Jiziyah (about this later on in detail). The Zimmis also had to suffer in respect of their mode of worship, payment of taxes, and on account of certain sumptuary laws. Death awaited them at every corner, because, being idolaters, they could be given a choice only between Islam and death. The state rested upon the support of the military class which consisted largely of the followers of the faith. They were treated as the favoured children of the state while various kinds of disabilities were imposed upon the non-Muslims.
Jiziyah was an outcome of jihad and was an inalienable part of the Muslim theory of taxation. It brought great income to the state. But it was an emblem of inferiority for the Hindus who were held down by sheer force through this financial burden. All earlier Muslim kings had imposed it in its true religious connotation. With its abolition in 1564, Akbar brought Hindus on par with Muslims as common citizens of the state rather than treat them as second class citizens. In an Islamic state it was prohibited to treat infidels and idolaters as equal to the people of the faith. But "in spite of the disapproval of statesmen, and of much chatter on the part of the ignorant, (this) sublime decree was issued... Which might be regarded as the foundation of the arrangement of mankind."29 Akbar removed restrictions on the public religious worship by non-Muslims. He abolished pilgrim tax on Hindus (1563) and removed all restrictions on the building of places of worship of non-Muslims. This led to the building of churches by Christians30 and temples by Hindus. A church was built in Agra itself; others were constructed at Lahore, Cambay and Thatta. Many Rajas built temples dedicated to their favourite Gods. Raja Mansingh built a temple at Brindaban at a cost of 5 lakh rupees and another at Banaras.31 Christians were People of the Book, but granting permission to build temples of idolaters was against the injunctions of the Shariat. Akbar did not stop at that. He allowed his Hindu spouses to perform Hindu worship inside the palace. A full Hindu temple built in his Allahabad fort still exists. Apostasy is punishable by death in Islam.32 Under earlier kings conversion of Muslims to other faiths was not allowed. Such apostates paid with their lives for their "falling off from grace".33 Akbar issued orders permitting those Hindus who had been forcibly converted to Islam earlier, to reconvert to Hinduism.34 He also prohibited making slaves of prisoners of war. All this did not conform with the Quran and the Shariat.
Akbar's 'Infallibility decree' also falls under "anti-Islamic" measures. Although the document was written by the principal ulema and presented to Akbar for the glory of God and propagation of Islam, it was deemed to confer on the Emperor final powers of decision over conflicting opinions of the Mujahids. According to Badaoni, Akbar challenged the doctrines of Islam itself, and this made the author of Muntakhab-ut-Tawarikh rave. He writes: "At the religious discussion meetings held by Akbar, 'at which every one... might say or ask what he liked,' the emperor examined people about the creation of the Quran, elicited their belief, or otherwise, in revelation, and raised doubts in them regarding all things connected with the Prophet and the imams. He distinctly denied the existence of Jins, of angels, and of all other beings of the invisible world, as well as the miracles of the Prophet."35 In the history of Muslim rule in India, it was for the first time that freedom of thought and critical appraisal of Islam was witnessed in the Court circles. In this atmosphere, the people also got busy collecting "all kinds of exploded errors, and brought them to his Majesty, as if they were so many presents... Every doctrine and command of Islam as the prophetship, the harmony of Islam with reason... the details of the day of resurrection and judgement, all were doubted and ridiculed."36 "Bir Bar...., Shaykh Abul Fazl and Hakim Abul Fateh... successfully turned the emperor from Islam and led him to reject inspiration, prophetship, the miracles of the Prophet and of saints and even the whole law."37
There were many factors responsible for such an attitude of Akbar, for such a change of mind and heart. We need not enumerate all of them here. But one reason is the most prominent - Akbar's association with Hindu scholars. His sympathetic and receptive mind willingly accepted the goodness that Hindus possessed and Hindu men of learning successfully conveyed to the King. Some earlier monarchs like Muhammad bin Tughlaq had also associated with Hindu saints and yogis but they had remained fundamentalists. It was Akbar's genius that grasped the finer points of Hindu civilization "skilfully represented" by learned Brahmins and he built up a political edifice on the oft-quoted principle of Sulehkul, or peace with all.
In India, Muslim sultans and padshahs came across a civilization which was different from theirs in many ways. It is another matter that many of them were not educated and the goodness of Hindu civilization was appreciated by only a few savants and kings like Alberuni and Akbar. About emperor Akbar, Abdul Qadir Badaoni says that he used to invite learned Hindus for discussion. "As they (the Brahmins) surpass other learned men in their treatises on morals, and on physical and religious sciences, and reach a high degree in their knowledge of the future, in spiritual power and human perfection, they brought proofs based on reason and testimony.... and so skilfully represented things as quite self-evident... that no man could now raise a doubt in His Majesty."38 Also, "His majesty, on hearing... how much the people of the country prized their institutions, commenced to look upon them with affection."39 He also believed that it was wrong to kill cows, which the Hindus worship.40 The custom of Rakhi, celebration of Diwali for similar reasons, became quite common. Jahangir also participated in all major Hindu festivals. He describes the Ramlila and dwells on the Hindu caste system and the four Varnashrams without any criticism. Jahangir even performed the shraddha of Akbar.41 Akbar was by nature tolerant. But he also felt that the sentiments of the vast population of the Hindus had to be respected if a strong and stable national state was to be built up.
What sentiments of the Hindus Akbar respected; what aspects of Hindu philosophy impressed Akbar? In Islam truth is established by the sword. "Fight against them (the mushriks) until idolatry is no more, and Allah's religion reigns supreme," says the Quran Surah 2, ayat 193. In Islam all dissent is treated as heresy and stamped out as infidelity. In Hinduism truth is sought to be arrived at through introspection and soul-searching, through argument and discussion (shastrarth). Dissent is not only tolerated but even encouraged and no one is declared a heretic. Buddhism and Jainism started as non-conformist movements. But in course of time Mahavir and Buddha were absorbed in the Hindu pantheon as their own 'Gods'. On their part, Buddha and emperor Ashoka did not indulge in any campaign to destroy other sects; they advocated promotion of all sects.42 In Hinduism all kinds of ideas are welcome for reflection, all kinds of gods emanating from these ideas are worshipped. To call such people by the derogatory epithets of polytheists and Kafirs is the height of arrogance and ignorance. As Ibn Warraq points out, "Implicit in all kinds of monotheism is the dogmatic certainty that it alone has access to true God, it alone has access to truth."43 Akbar tried to understand the spirit of India in a spirit of accommodation. He got the Ramayana and the Mahabharata translated into Persian. And what did the Mahabharata say on this point? "Dharmam yo badhate dharmo na sa dharmah prakirtitah; avirodhat tu yo dharmah sa dharmah satyavikarmah" (a religion which opposes another religion is not a true religion. True religion is that which does not come in the way of another religion). Akbar subscribed to such a view. As professor Toynbee has said: "Islam, like the other two religions of the Judaic family, is exclusive-minded and intolerant by comparison with the religions and philosophies of Indian origin. Yet the influence of India on Akbar went so deep that he was characteristically Indian in (his) large-hearted catholicity."44
In short, Akbar's policy of Sulehkul (secularism?) could go no further, looking to the times and exigencies of the state. Jahangir ordinarily continued Akbar's toleration. His memoirs, the Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri, as a book reveals a nonreligious secular outlook. Shahjahan may not have been as tolerant as his two predecessors, but it appears that his ardour for Islam was tampered by the love of his deputy, son, and heir-apparent Dara Shukoh.
The main principles of Muslim administration are known to all students of medieval Indian history. They were known to Mohammad Habib. The one reason why Habib and many others like him say that Muslim rule in India was not theocratic in any sense of the word and that its foundation was non-religious and secular, is that when they conjure up the vision of Muslim rule in India they only think about the one hundred years of Mughal rule between 1556 and 1658. But one hundred years rule of three Mughal emperors Akbar, Jahangir, and Shahjahan - does not make more than a thousand years of Muslim rule in India secular.
Record of Mughal Secularism
The first king of the Mughal dynasty was Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur. He conquered and ruled as a normal Muslim king. He inherited his religious policy in India from the Lodis. Sikandar Lodi's fanaticism45 must have been the norm of officials who continued to serve when Babur came to power. Babur himself was an orthodox Muslim. His ideas are reflected in his memoirs. Before engaging in battle with Rana Sanga, he wrote: "I made public the resolution to abstain from wine. (My) servants... dashed upon the earth., the flagons and the cups... They dashed them in pieces as, God willing! soon will be dashed, the gods of the idolaters"46 (italics added). Babur and his officers broke Hindu temples in many parts of the country.47 He raised towers of skulls of the slain infidels. Babur is said to have been a secular king on the basis of his alleged Will admonitioning Humayun to behave liberally towards the Hindus. But the Will has been found to be a non-genuine document.48
In short, Babur was content to govern Hindustan in the orthodox fashion. Humayun had not much chance of developing any distinct religious policy of his own, although he was liberal towards the 'heretic' Shias. Sher Shah Suri too was neither liberal nor fanatic. He devotedly believed in the Shariat and said that "it behoves kings not to disobey the commandments of God, to inscribe the pages of their history with the characters of religion, that their servants and subjects may love religion; for kings are partakers in every act of devotion and worship which proceeds from the priests and the people."49 "If Muslim chroniclers do not praise him for his religious fanaticism as they do Alauddin, Feroz Shah (Tughlaq), or Sikandar Lodi, they simply bring him to the level of the general run of Muslim rulers."50 The hundred years (1556-,1658) of Mughal rule comprising the reigns of Akbar, Jahangir and Shahjahan were a shade different. But for their fits of rage, Akbar and Jahangir were kind kings. About the former Abul Fazl says, "The compassionate heart of his majesty finds no pleasure in cruelties or in causing sorrow to others; he is ever sparing of the lives of his subjects, wishing to bestow happiness upon all."51 But as said earlier a hundred years of religiously less oppressive administration does not make the twelve centuries of Muslim rule secular. These three Mughals proved an exception when they, more or less, left the religious beliefs of their subjects alone. Else Aurangzeb's militant policy of religious persecution, as advocated by the Islamic scriptures, was the norm of Muslim rule in India. A Muslim state could only be Islamic in character. Muslim state could not but be a theocracy as the ideology of Islam was more important than thoughts and actions of a few individual 'secularist' kings.
Shariat a Must
For, no Muslim monarch including the three Mughals mentioned above, could move away from the ideology of Islam, from the laws of Islam, from the practice of the Shariat. Akbar abolished Jiziyah in 1564. In all probability many of his 'devout' officers in far off regions, did not care to enforce this anti-Islamic measure. Therefore, ten years later he once again issued orders for its abolition. Badaoni tells us that it was customary "to search out and kill heretics" (Shias), let alone non-Muslims as late as 1574. Hemu's father, when captured, was offered his life if he turned Muslim. Abdun Nabi executed a Brahman for blasphemy on the complaint of a Qazi. Husain Khan, the governor of Lahore (died 983H/ 1575-76) ordered Hindus to stick patches on their shoulders so that no Muslim could be put to the indignity of showing them honour by mistake, nor did he allow Hindus to saddle their horses. Jihad was practised as usual, massacre at Chittor was done in true Jihadist spirit. "The Akbar Nama, the Ain-i-Akbari and Badaoni are all agreed that prior to 1593, some Hindus had been converted to Islam forcibly." In 1581 some Portuguese captives at Surat were offered their lives if they turned Muslim. Even iconoclastic zeal did not disappear under Akbar. Kangra was invaded in 1572-73, and even though Birbal was in joint command, the umbrella of the Goddess was riddled with arrows, 200 cows were killed and Muslim soldiers threw their shoes full of blood at the walls and doors of the temple. A Mughal officer, Bayazid, converted a Hindu temple into a Muslim school. Jain idols in Gujarat could not escape vandalism. "Such seem to have been and continued to be the popular prejudices against the Hindus", under Akbar and his successors as per the obligations of the Shariat and practice of Sunnah, writes S.R. Sharma.52 In his letters to Abdullah Khan Uzbek written in 1586 Akbar definitely declares himself a Muslim and proudly boasts that on account of his conquests Islam had now spread to territories where it had not been heard of before and the temples of the non-believers had been converted into mosques. "He also roundly declares that the institutes of the Prophet and revelation of God have always be en his guides."53 Jahangir, when a prince, at one time intended demolishing some of the Hindu temples at Banaras but desisted there from on Man Singh's intervention. In his reign conversions to Islam were encouraged, conversions back from Islam to Hinduism were punished. When he visited Kangra, he celebrated the Muslim occupation of the fort by desecrating its famous temple. At Pushkar he broke the image of Varaha and a bull was sacrificed to signify the victory of Islam over idolatry.54 In his reign Muslims began to behave as bullies once again.55 Under Shahjahan, Akbar's Sulehkul was almost reversed. During his reign temples were destroyed in Gujarat, Banaras and Allahabad, and at Orcha. Like Jahangir he stopped marriages between Muslim girls and Hindu men. Apostasy from Islam again became a capital crime in accordance with the tenets of the Shariat. During the reign of Shahjahan titles in use among Khalifas and Ghaznavids were revived. Whenever the Muslim state used to show signs of 'secularist' weakness, the glorious memory of Mahmud of Ghazni used to inject a sense of pride in its polity. The title of Yaminuddaula (right hand of the state) was bestowed by the Khalifa al-Qadir Billah on Mahmud of Ghazni. This title was once again conferred by Shahjahan on Abul Hasan Asaf Khan (IV), the father of Mumtaz Mahal.56 Mir Jamaluddin Inju was also promoted by Jahangir to the title of Azududdaula (arm of the state).57 The bestowal of the title of Yaminuddaula on Asaf Khan itself points to the direction in which the state was reshaping itself. All that Islam advocated was more or less continued under all the Mughal monarchs. Akbar and Jahangir, like Babur and Shahjahan, adopted the title of Ghazi. Muslim nobles and ulema would not let the Muslim kings stray away from the path of Islam. Any deviation was sought to be corrected at the first opportunity. Immediately after the death of Akbar, "Mulla Shah Ahmad, one of the greatest religious leaders of the age, wrote to various court dignitaries exhorting them to get this state of things altered in the very beginning of (Jahangir's) reign because otherwise it would be difficult to accomplish anything later on."58 Aurangzeb openly claimed to have fought "the apostate" Dara to re-establish the law of Islam.
There was nothing new in this. At the close of the Khalji regime, Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq declared himself as a champion of the faith, because the ulema had been dissatisfied with Alauddin's rule and Ghiyasuddin with the activities of the neo-convert Nasiruddin Khusrau. Therefore according to R.P. Tripathi, "The slogan of 'Islam in danger' so common yet so effective in the history of the Muslims, was started."59 And this slogan helped Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq in winning the throne. The ulema were equally dissatisfied with Muhammad bin Tughlaq. On his demise, Shaikh Nasiruddin Chiragh obtained from Firoz a promise "that he would rule according to the tenets of justice and law". Firoz Shah Tughlaq proved true to his word and "made religion the basis of his government".60 A little later Amir Timur openly claimed to have attacked Hindustan with the avowed object of destroying idolatry and infidelity in the country.61 Akbar's tolerance had exasperated the Muslim divines, and a promise was obtained from his successor, Jahangir, that he would defend the Muslim religion. Liberal Muslims like Shaikh Mubarak and his sons Faizi and Abul Fazl had to pass many years underground. When they became close to Akbar and were supposed to influence his ideas, they were squarely abused by the true Muslims. "Some bastards such as the son of Mulla Mubarak," writes Badaoni about Abul Fazl, "wrote treatises in order to revile and ridicule our religious practices. His majesty liked such productions and prompted the authors."62 Thus whether we consider the influence of the Muslim religious class (the ulema), the application of the law of Islam (Shara), or the activities of the kings, it is clear beyond doubt that the medieval state was a theocratic state. No wonder that many contemporary and later Muslim writers praise the deeds of Aurangzeb with great gusto. The name of Akbar is obliterated; it does not find mention by a single Muslim chronicler after his death.
The law which prevailed in India under Muslim rule was the Shariat. "This was the actual sovereign in Muslim lands."63 It was not a secular law. Muslim state was not a secular state. If in this scenario two or three individual Muslim monarchs behaved in a less orthodox fashion, they did not as they could not make the Muslim state in India non-theocratic. The ideology of Islam does not permit practice of secularism. It refuses compromise with other faiths. It tries to dominate over them. It teaches Muslims that they are the rulers, that they must convert or destroy those who do not accept Islam, that those who do not subscribe to Islam are enemies of Allah. Islamic jurisprudence is based on this basic assumption. Islamic economy is based not on capital formation by multiplication of interest through investment, but on loot and extortion from non-Muslims through Ghanaim, Khams and Jiziyah. Islamic Shariat advocates annihilation of all creeds except that of Islam - 'Islam in its pristine purity'. This phenomenon has created unsurmountable problems in all countries of the East ever since the birth of Islam. It is now permeating in the West also. It stares in the face of those Muslim countries which try to step into secularism and modernity like Egypt, Algeria, Turkey and some others. India's problem is unique. It is one country which could not be converted to Islam, "although there were mass (forcible) conversions".64 This phenomenon baffles Indian Muslims to this day - why could India not be made a Muslim country despite the exertion of more than a thousand years. The apologists try to explain it by 'discovering' that Muslim state was a secular state. They do not attribute it to persistent Hindu resistance, nor to the continuance of the great Hindu civilization to which should go the real credit.
2.2. THE GOVERNMENT
By the quick conquest of the lands of Persia and Egypt the Arabians came into possession of the earliest seats of civilization in the whole world. "In art and architecture, in philosophy, in medicine, in science and literature, in government, the original Arabians had nothing to teach and everything to learn." The Arabs were an observant race. With sharp curiosity these Muslim Arabians, with the help of their subject peoples turned Muslim, began to assimilate, adopt and reproduce the latter's intellectual and aesthetic heritage. In Damascus, Jerusalem and Alexandria, they admired and copied the work of the architect and the artisan. "Throughout the whole period of the Caliphate the Syrians, the Persians, the Egyptians and others as Moslem converts or as Christians and Jews, were the foremost bearers of the (Islamic) torch of enlightenment and learning." Even India acted as an early source of inspiration, especially in wisdom, literature and mathematics. But Persian influence pinned down Arab Islam as it were. Gradually Persian titles, Persian wines and wives, Persian ideas and thoughts won the day. The Caliphate became a replica of Iranian despotism.65 In two fields only did the Arabian hold his own: Islam remained the religion of the state and Arabic continued to be the official language. Belief in the paramount superiority of the Arabic language is an article of faith among Muslims.
Evolution of Administrative Institutions
The administrative system of Islam had evolved gradually. In Arabia, in its earliest stages, the problem was to provide the new converts to Islam with subsistence. They were indigent and poor, and to help them, poor tax (zakat), voluntary contributions, and war booty (ghanaim) formed the revenue of the state at the start. Muhammad was followed (632 CE) by a succession of Caliphs at Madinah.66 According to Mawardi (who wrote in the fifth century of Islam), the Imamate, or Caliphate, was divinely ordained and the Caliph inherited all the powers and privileges of the Prophet.67 The institutions which developed under the Caliph became models of governance in the world of Islam. The Caliph Muawiyah (661-89 CE) transformed the republican Caliphate into a monarchy and created a governing class of leading Arab tribes.68 These two institutions - kingship and nobility - became an integral part of Islamic polity.
After the Umayyad came the Abbasid Caliphs. They established their capital in the newly built city of Baghdad. The Abbasids came under the irresistible influence of superior Persian culture and Persian institutions. The Abbasid dynasty lasted for full five centuries (752-1258 CE) and under it different branches of administrative machinery were greatly elaborated and new departments and offices created. The Quran contained almost nothing that may be called civic or state legislation. So also is the case with Hadis. There are very few references to government and administration in the Hadis. This lacuna was filled by Persian theories and practices. Persian court etiquette, Persian army organisation and administrative system were all adopted and developed under the Abbasids.
The Turks brought these institutions into India, adding some more offices and institutions while keeping the core intact. Muslim administration had evolved in Muslim lands through centuries and was highly developed before it was brought to India by the Turkish sultans. At the head was the monarch or Sultan. He appointed and was assisted by a number of ministers. A brief list of ministers and officers will give an idea of the framework of the central administration. At the top were four important ministers (and ministries) which formed the four pillars of the State.69 These were Wazir (Diwan-i-Wazarat), Ariz-i-Mumalik (Diwan-i-Arz), Diwan-i-Insha and Diwan-i-Rasalat. The Wazir was the Prime Minister who looked after the revenue administration. Ariz-i-Mumalik or Diwan-i-Arz was head of the army. He was known as Mir Bakhshi under the Mughals and was the inspector-general and paymaster-general of the army. Diwan-i-Insha was incharge of royal correspondence, and Diwan-i-Rasalat of foreign affairs and pious foundations. Sadr-i-Jahan, also called Sadr-us-Sudur, was the Chief Qazi. Under him was placed the justice Department. There were officers of the royal household like Wakil-i-Dar (Chief Secretary), Amir-i-Hajib (Master of Ceremonies) and Barbak, 'the tongue of the sultan', whose duty it was to present petitions of the people to the king. There were dozens of other officers and hundreds of subordinates both in the Central administration and in the Subahs or provinces.
The Central government was formed on the Persian model As seen above, the Prime Minister was called Wazir and his ministry Diwan-i-Wazarat. All Muslim political thinkers attached great, importance to this office. Abu Daud says that a good wazir is an asset. When Allah wants to destroy some ruler, he gives him a bad wazir.70 Fakhr-i-Mudabbir and Ziyauddin Barani who were scholars of Islamic scriptures, say the same thing.71 The main business of the Wazir who presided over Diwan-i-Wazarat was finance, although he oversaw most of the affairs of the state. "Agriculture, Building, Charitable institutions, Intelligence Department, the Karkhanas and the Mint were all directly or indirectly under the Diwan-i-Wazarat.72 Next in importance was the Diwan-i-Arz under the Ariz-i-Mumalik. He was the controller-general of the military department.73 Muslim state introduced two new elements in Indian polity. it brought in a new law - the Shariat law. Secondly, it was based on military force. Formerly, under Hindu kings, state power was subject to numerous customary and constitutional restraints. Muslim state in India found its support solely in military force. Its Chief Commander was the King; its administrative commander was the Ariz-i-Mumalik (Mir Bakshi of the Mughals). As said earlier, the Diwan-i-Insha dealt with the correspondence between the Sultan and the local governments, including all correspondence of a confidential nature. The Diwan-i-Rasalat, as the term indicates,74 looked after diplomatic correspondence, and as such this ministry was a counterpart of the present-day foreign office.
The Diwan-i-Qaza, or the Department of justice, was presided over by the Chief Qazi. Administration of Islamic justice was given a special place of importance in the Muslim state. We have devoted a separate chapter to it. One department of considerable importance was that of the Barid-i-Mumalik who was the head of the State Information Bureau. Through this department, the centre was kept informed of all that was happening all over the empire. A network of news agents or intelligencers was spread out in all localities. They acted both as secret information agents as well as open news reporters. There were also a large number of spies in every place and chiefly in the houses of the nobles to report their affairs to the Sultan. Espionage played a very important role in Islamic autocracy.
The king's court, palace and household also had an elaborate administrative set up of its own.75 The provincial government was a miniature replica of the central. The governors were called Walis and Muqtis. An expert in accounts called Sahib-i-Diwan was appointed in each province. He kept the local revenue records and submitted them to the Wazir. The army maintained by the governors and garrison commanders was subject to control and inspection by the provincial Ariz, who was responsible to the central government. Similarly, administrative arrangement of parganas, shiqqs and later sarkars was also clearly laid down. During the Mughal period, some new offices were created while nomenclatures of some others were changed.76 The administrative system also got the stamping of the Chingezi Yasas and the Institutes of Timur.77
But the core of administration remained Islamic. Just as the administrative system implanted in India had evolved in Iran and adjoining Islamic countries, important administrators also came from these regions to run it. This rendered the administration exotic and prompted Bernier to declare that the Mughal was a foreigner in India. The Mughal empire brought into existence and maintained for a century and a half (1556-1707) a bureaucracy, mainly Mughal, Turk and Afghan, and partly Rajput, with strong vested interest in Mughal imperialism. During this period and thereafter, the disparity in standards of living not only between the higher and lower strata of the ruling class but also between the higher officials and average citizens, became so pronounced that a deep gulf yawned between the people and the bureaucracy, isolating the latter and turning it into a separate class essentially alien and foreign in outlook from the masses.
The sovereign in the Muslim state was called Amir, Sultan, Badshah or Shahanshah. He personified the will of the Muslim people, a people who have been one of the greatest empire builders. It is said that during the time of the Prophet the word sultan was never used in the sense in which it is used or understood today. In the Quran the term sultan is vague and occurs in the abstract sense of "Power, Authority".78 Since the institution of sultan or king came from Persia, there is not much in the Quran about it. But there are quite a few ahadis which mention the institution of sultan and advocate unflinching loyalty to him. Quoting a hadis from Muslim, al-Khatib-ul-Umari, the author of Mishkat-ul-Sharif writes that "the Rasul said if one obeys me, he obeys Allah; if he disobeys me, he disobeys Allah; one who was obedient to the Amir was obedient to me and one who was disobedient to the Amir was disobedient to me".79 There should be affection and respect between the Hakim and his subjects. Those who create dissensions between the community and the ruler and between ruler and ruler should be killed.80 No community can remain coalesced without a leader. Such was the importance given to the leader by the Prophet that he ordained that if three men were going on a mission, they should choose one of them as the leader.81 In course of time as the numbers of Muslims increased, obedience to the leader became an imperative necessity and there are many ahadis advocating unflinching loyalty to the sultan who alone could be leader of warriors engaged in expansionist wars (glorified as the Holy jihad). The idea of this loyalty is elaborately expounded in many ahadis. It is laid down that even if a Habshi ghulam is appointed as the Hakim, even if he be a mutilated ghulam whose ears and nose have been cut off, is appointed as the ruler, he is to be given unflinching obedience. A hadis says: "One who obeys me (the Prophet) obeys God; one who shows insubordination to me shows disobedience to Allah."82 Such declarations frightened the poor, ignorant Muslims. "Badshah is the shadow of God on earth." Every oppressed person looks to him for justice. He is responsible for the well-being of his subjects. When the king is unjust and he commits a sin, his subjects should be patient towards him. They should not curse him but obey him without demur.83 Because if a Muslim strays away from the community even a wee bit, he will be destroyed. The Muslims should stay together as a group (Jamaat), as a community, under the leadership of the king.84 For a Muslim king was not only expected to be a true Muslim himself; he was required to see that all his subjects were true Muslims and the dignity of Islam and Islamic laws was upheld by them.
When this model of sultan came in contact with Persian Sassanid polity, writes K.A. Nizami, "many servile forms of Sassanid court were adopted as legitimate substitutes for the earlier democratic practice of bay't". But the fact is that contrary to the assertion of Nizami, ahadis were not "manufactured to cast a halo round the person of the sultan."85 The idea of Commander, Leader, Hakim or Sultan is many times given by all collectors of Hadis. Besides, there is no democracy involved in bay't. It is true that early Muslims ate with Muhammad, they prayed with him in the mosque. However, the relationship thrown up throughout the works of Hadis, is that of master and suppliant; there was not to question why; there was but to do as directed. There is no word for 'democracy' in Islam. In modern times the Arabs use the Greek word dimuqraatiya. Following upon the Muslim tradition the monarch was known as sultan during the early Muslim rule in India. This appellation was continued till it was replaced by Babur who took the title of Padshah. Thus sultan was the accepted title when the Turks conquered and set up a Muslim state in Hindustan. Before this Muslims had set up empires in many parts of the world. Empire building and ruling effectively in accordance with the precepts of the Shariat was in the logic of the history of Islam and this could be accomplished only by a sultan. The sultan was usually a strong warrior, often without a peer in strength. He gathered a strong army, collected taxes and contributions and was surrounded by counsellors. They bestowed upon him attributes of divinity, upon his subjects those of devilry, thus making his presence in the world a sort of a benediction necessary for the good of mankind. Once man was declared to be bad and the king full of virtues, there was hardly any difficulty for political philosophy and religion to recommend strict control of the people by the sultan.86
In the Siyasat Nama, Nizm-ul-Mulk Tusi stressed that since the kings were divinely appointed, "they must always keep the subjects in such a position that they know their stations and never remove the ring of servitude from their ears."87 Alberuni, Fakhr-i-Mudabbir, Amir Khusrau, Ziyauddin Barani and Shams Siraj Afif repeat the same idea.88 As Fakhr-i-Mudabbir puts it, "If there were no kings, men would devour one another."89 Even the liberal Allama Abul Fazl could not think beyond this: "if royalty did not exist, the storm of strife would never subside, nor selfish ambition disappear. Mankind (is) under the burden of lawlessness and lust ".90
In this context it would be pertinent to point out that there were monarchs both in the West and the East and in both autocracy reigned supreme. Still in the West they could wrest a Magna Carta from the king as early as in 1215 CE and produce thinkers like Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Montesqueue and Bentham who helped change the concept of kingship in course of time. But in Islam, a rigid, narrow and limited scriptural education could parrot-like repeat only one political theory - man was nasty, brutish and short and must be kept suppressed. So that when in England they wrested power by executing the king after a long civil war (1641-49), in India Shahjahan, a contemporary of Charles I, ruled as an autocrat and his reign is called a 'golden age'. The history of Islam is witness to the fact that autocracy and Islam are more natural allies than democracy and Islam. "The glitter of gems and gold in the Taj Mahal or the Peacock Throne," writes Jadunath Sarkar, "ought not to blind us to the fact that in Mughal India, man was considered vile; - the mass of the people had no economic liberty, no indefeasible right to justice or personal freedom, when their oppressor was a noble or high official or landowner; political rights were not dreamt of... The Government was in effect despotism..."91 Consequently, medieval Muslim political opinion could recommend only repression of man and glorification of king.
The king was divinely ordained. Abul Fazl says: "No dignity is higher in the eyes of God than royalty... Royalty is a light emanating from God, and a ray from the sun, the illuminator of the universe."92 Kingship thus became the most general and permanent of institutions of medieval Muslim world. In theory Islam claims to stand for equality of men, in practice it encourages slavery and imposes an inferior status on non-Muslims. In theory Islam does not recognize kingship; in practice Muslims have been found to be servile to authority. Muhammadans themselves were impressed with the concept of power and glamour associated with monarchy. The idea of despotism, of concentration of power, penetrated medieval mind with facility, and obedience to the ruler was advocated as a religious duty.
The duties and obligations of a Muslim monarch were clearly laid out for him by religious and political works, traditions and precedents. The Shariat, the four schools of Islamic law, works of political theorist like al-Mawardi's Ahkam-us-Sultaniyah and Nizamul Mulk Tusi's Siyasat Namah, the actual working of the Abbasid Caliphate running into more than five centuries, and the exploits of Muslims from Prophet Muhammad to Mahmud of Ghazni, had combined to lay down a code of private and public conduct for Muslim monarchs. Works of Indian Muslim political theorists and historians like Fakhr-i-Mudabbir's Adab-ut-Harb, Ziyauddin Barani's Fatwa-i-Jahandari and Tarikh-i-Firoz Shahi and later on Fatawa-i-Alamgiri and similar other works too constantly repeat the principles and ideals to be followed by a Muslim king.
In his personal life, the Muslim king was expected to be God fearing and pious. He was to say his prayers five times a day and observe the fasts of Ramzan. According to Barani he was expected to live the life of a common soldier, drawing from the public treasury the same salary as he gave to his soldiers (elsewhere he recommends him to live with magnificence and keep a large harem which would add to his dignity). By his words, acts and movements, his personal qualities and behaviour he was to appear to live and also enable people to live according to the laws of the Shariat.93 In public life, the Muslim monarch was enjoined to discharge a host of civil, military and religious duties. The sultan was expected to be the refuge of the suffering and the oppressed. He was to impart justice in accordance with the requisites of the Shariat. He was to levy taxes according to the law and appoint honest and efficient officers "so that the laws of the Shariat might be enforced through them."94 At times he was to enact zawabits (regulations) to suit a particular situation, but while doing so, he could not transgress the Shariat nor "alter the law".95 His military duties were to defend Muslim territories, to guard its frontiers by garrisoning the forts, make preparations for war, and to keep his army well equipped and ever on the alert for conquest and extension of the territories of Islam.96
Thus religious and political thinkers had gone on multiplying the duties of a Muslim monarch, presenting him with an unmanageable agenda. Obviously the king could not possibly follow all their injunctions. In such a situation there was adjustment and accommodation between precept and practice. If a sultan could not follow these behests in their entirety, this in no way compromised his status or weaken his position. The rulers who tried to live like true Muslims, are highly praised by their contemporaries. But those who did not, are not blamed or decried. Often the ulema overlook; many even justify their not-so-Islamic actions and habits. Ziyauddin Barani is very liberal with regard to such aberrations. He says: "If the king's faith in the religion of the Prophet is firm and unshakable, then there is no harm if he is not excessively given to his religious devotions and cannot fulfil the supererogatory duties prescribed with regard to fasting and prayer." Similarly, "If there is no fault or defect in the religious beliefs of the king, the enjoyments and pleasures in which he indulges as a human being are forgiven to him out of consideration for his firm faith ... (and) the sins due to his human nature are erased from the records of his life."97 Not only enjoyments and sins due to human nature were forgiven, the ulema, chroniclers and clericals, indeed all custodians of medieval publicity media, admired the large harems, the extravagance, the grandeur and the magnificence of the monarch. This mode of living raised his stature and strengthened his position in public eye. But in this the ulema went too far and exhibited a vacuum in the process of their thinking. While drinking of wine by a monarch was perhaps rightly overlooked, there was no redressal suggested even when he turned out to be a tyrant. There was no remedy recommended except to pray for change of his heart.
In short, the mainspring of Muslim regime was monarchy individual rulers may have been unsafe, but the institution was permanent; no other kind of system was envisaged.98 Since the institution was not vulnerable, kingship tended to be despotic, and even tyrannical. Within this framework it had variables. However, by and large, royalty was autocratic, and imperialistic, tempered only by revolution or fear of revolution. Cruelty and terror, strength and force, conquest and annexationism, glory and grandeur were its hallmarks.
What does Barani mean by statements like "If the king's faith in the religion of the Prophet is firm," or "If there is no fault in the king's religious beliefs," to earn him immunity from punishment for all sinful acts? It means that Muslim monarch who subserves the interests of his religion in its true spirit. In the Islamic religion human beings are divided into two distinct entities - Muslims and infidels. Citizenship rights are given to Muslims only, non-Muslims at the most can be given the status of Zimmis or second class citizens. For, Allah raises some people (qaums) and he degrades others.99 Momins are favoured by God and infidels are denounced. Muslims should always help one another. Protection of life and property of one momin is incumbent upon another momin. Abusing or killing of a Muslim by another Muslim is kufr. Hadis exhort the Muslims: "Do not loot another Muslim". "One who will kill another Muslim, Allah will throw him in Perdition face down."100 But the treatment meted out to an infidel should be just the opposite of it, because the two are different from one another in the eyes of Allah and his prophet. The Hadis say to Muslims: If you meet fire-worshippers and idolaters, do not wish them. If an infidel falls ill, do not visit him to enquire about his health; if he dies, don't accompany his bier.101 A Kafir dies. His heir becomes Muslim. This Muslim is not to honour the wasiat (wish/will) of his Kafir father.102 The Zimmi cannot be a witness against a Muslim; he cannot be the guardian of his child who is a Muslim.103
"In the words of the Hanafi jurist Sarakhsi (d. 483/1090) the word of a dishonest Muslim is more valuable than that of an honest dhimmi."104 Muslim religious literature and sufi hagiography overflow with such ideas. As if this discrimination was not enough, there are many ahadis and ayats of the Quran asking Muslims to kill Kafirs outright. Islamic scriptures recommend setting Muslims against non-Muslims, believers against infidels - to defend Islam and destroy unbelief. Individual and group killings of Kafirs are encouraged. One who kills a Kafir is given the latter's property. Khalid bin Walid said that the Prophet ordained that the property of the killed belonged to the killer; [it was not to be taken into account for khams]. In the Battle of Hunain, Abu Talha killed twenty Kafirs and got their goods.105 There are still more bloody instructions about group killings of Kafirs, but of this in the next chapter on Jihad.
A Muslim monarch was expected to carry out all these directions of the Quran and Hadis. In Islamic scriptures the primary duty of every good Muslim king, indeed of every devout Muslim, is to fight religious war or Jihad against the infidels. But the duty of propagating Islam and carrying on Jihad mainly devolved on the sultan. Since there is Jihad till idolatry is destroyed, Jihad was the monarch's most important duty.106 It is a great sin for a Muslim to shirk the battle against non-believers - those who do will roast in hell. Ziyauddin Barani had this idea of a good religious Muslim monarch the sultan even if he was unable to extirpate infidelity he must at least keep the enemies of God and his prophet dishonoured and humiliated.107