Gujarat’s forgotten Islamic history

  • Islam in India is often portrayed as a byproduct of the 16th century Persian Mughal Empire; but if you look past the Taj Mahal and Jama Masjid of Agra and Delhi, you find that Islam’s roots actually run far deeper in other parts of the country.
  • The claim that the Mughal Empire is responsible for the spread of Islam in the subcontinent, is often made by far-right (Hindu or Indian) nationalists, and has contributed to the common misconceptions that Islam is a recent phenomenon in South Asia, and that it spread from the north of the country to the south.
  • In the decades since partition, and in recent years, communal tensions and violence have flared up periodically in Gujarat. Since 1950, over 10,000 people have been killed in Muslim-Hindu communal violence with horrific events such as the Bombay riots (1992) and Gujarat riots (2002) still heavily imprinted in recent memory.
  • This colonial legacy, alongside increased ‘saffronisation’ of the Indian government and increased Hindutva mobilisation, has led to Muslim minority groups being attacked as “outsiders” or “invaders” to support the idea of a ‘Hindu Rashtra (nation)’.

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