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Was Muslim Rule in India a Period of Islamic Iconoclasm?

“Muslim rulers/invaders made us rich.” : A statement that comes handy whenever one tries to debate the impact of Islamic iconoclasm in the Indian subcontinent. But how very rich and in what ways? Let us look at some of the arguments before we thoughtlessly believe the Marxist historians of Bharat. 

1. Vikramshila Vishwavidyalaya

Muslim Rule in India

We know that the greatest wealth in this world is a knowledgeable human mind. India had been a cave stuffed with this jewel before Islamic invasion. The Vikramashila Vishwavidyalay that was established in 730 A.D. during the Pala Dynasty, was destroyed by Mohammad Bin Bakhtiyar Khilji. He not only damaged the architecture and the sources of learning but even massacred the Gurus and Saints. The university was rich in scientific and spiritual learning and also held secrets of tantra revealed by the intellectuals of ancient India. What kind of a man will attack a peaceful place of learning unless he wants to destroy the nerve centre and culture of the society? 

 2. Nalanda University

Muslim Rule in India

Can we ever get over the 9 million books burnt in the terrain of knowledge, Nalanda university of the ancient Kingdom of Magadha? Study of Mahayana Buddhism, the Vedanta, Sanskrit Grammar, Medicine, Samkhya, Logical reasoning and Mathematics like subjects were taught in this university since 5th century C.E. Nalanda was plundered and devastated by Muslim invaders of Turkey called Mamluks, under Bakhtiyar Khilji in 1193 AD. Minhaj-i-Siraj wrote of this attack in his book Tabaqat-i Nasiri: “Muhammad-i-Bakht-yar, by the force of his intrepidity, threw himself into the postern of the gateway of the place, and they captured the fortress and acquired great booty. The greater number of the inhabitants of that place were Brahmins, and the whole of those Brahmins had their heads shaven, and they were all slain.” Of course they made Indians so rich by depriving them of their education system, respect and wealth. 

3. Takshashila University

Takshashila University, which is now part of Pakistani territory, was the world’s first-ever University dated 5 BCE. It was far ahead of its time and a centre of advanced learning of the ancient world. It taught astronomy, astrology, medicine, dharmic texts, mathematics, architecture and military science as well. It trained its shishyas in 20 different art forms. The University flourished until Persian invaders destroyed it over the years of their rule/looting. 

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4. Somnath Temple

Somnath Temple, home to the first shiv jyotirlinga, had been attacked and damaged 17 times. The first to loot this temple was Mahmud Ghazni in AD 1026, followed by Afzal Khan under Allauddin Khilji and then Aurangzeb. Its gold and jewels had made it vulnerable to exploits by Muslim rulers of India. Somnath’s beauty before destruction was unmatched. It was supported by 56 pillars, edifice built of hewn stone, wonderful carvings in walls and ceiling, and golden idols studded with jewels. No royal treasury ever contained such vast wealth as that of Somnath. Regular donations from rulers and devotees and made it the economic centre or bank of the Indian kingdoms. The hollow belly of the Somnath idols was cracked open, discovering rubies, pearls, diamonds in great quantity. Ghazni acquired both wealth and fame among the soldiers by his actions and Indians still are supposed too thank God for Muslim invasions.

5. Account By Firishta

In accounts of historian Firishta, When Mahmud Ghazni plundered the city of Mathura in 1018 AD, people suffered from the continuous destruction for a month. “Among the temples of Mathura were found five golden idols whose eyes were of rubies, valued at 50,000 dinars. On another idol was found a sapphire, weighing 400 miskals, and the image itself being melted down produced 98,300 miskals of pure gold. Besides these images, there were above 100 idols of silver, which loaded as many camels.” And then, when he reached Thaneshwar, Mahmud desecrated idols, plundered the city, took women as sex slaves and the idol of Jugsoma was sent to Ghazni to be trodden underfoot. He also looted a ruby weighing 450 miskals which will cost in trillions today. 

6. Kashi Vishwanath Temple

The Kashi Vishwanath temple destroyed by the army of Qutb-ud-din Aibak, the Martand Sun Temple of Kashmir ruined by Muslim Sultan Sikandar Butshikan in the early 15th century, the Meenakshi temple looted by Malik Kafur of Delhi Sultanate, are just some examples of Islamic iconoclasm that remain in records for their value in jewels and gold.

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7. Martand Sun Temple

There are hundreds of temples that were destroyed by the armies of invaders for their wealth or faith. Weakening the spiritual, religious, economic and educational centres can in no way be interpreted as making people more prosperous. 

Islamic Invaders destroyed grand cities of India, looted them, killed people and took sex slaves. the degree of hurt may vary from place to place and king to king but rarely there was any difference in their approach towards native people and the wealth they stored in their temples and educational institutions. The tax collected from non-muslims in form of Jizya was no symbol of prosperity, equality and tolerance. When Akbar abolished it, he faced immense resistance from his courtiers and no one really continued the concept of religious syncretism in form of Din-i-llahi as was introduced by him. 

There are many books to read if one wants to do away with marxist historians from JNU. Read autobiographies like Baburnama, Futuhat-i-Firoz Shahi, ‘Hindu Temples: What happened to them’ by Sita Ram Goel, and Firishta’s historical accounts of the times of invasions like ‘History of the Rise of the Mahomedan Power in India’ are one of them. 

The Muslim rule in India was not all hunky-dory, rich and prosperous but a series of destruction in pieces.

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