GENOCIDE OF HINDUS
Hindus experienced this treatment at the hands of Islamic conquerors, e.g. when Mohammed bin Qasim conquered the lower Indus basin in 712 CE. Thus, in Multan, according to the Chach-Nama, “six thousand warriors were put to death, and all their relations and dependents were taken as slaves”. This is why Rajput women committed mass suicide to save their honour in the face of the imminent entry of victorious Muslim armies, e.g. 8,000 women immolated themselves during Akbar’s capture of Chittorgarh in 1568 (where this most enlightened ruler also killed 30,000 non-combatants). During the Partition pogroms and the East Bengali genocide, mass rape of Hindu women after the slaughter of their fathers and husbands was a frequent event.
There is no official estimate of the total death toll of Hindus at the hands of Islam. A first glance at important testimonies by Muslim chroniclers suggests that, over 13 centuries and a territory as vast as the Subcontinent, Muslim Holy Warriors easily killed more Hindus than the 6 million of the Holocaust. Ferishtha lists several occasions when the Bahmani sultans in central India (1347-1528) killed a hundred thousand Hindus, which they set as a minimum goal whenever they felt like “punishing” the Hindus; and they were only a third-rank provincial dynasty. The biggest slaughters took place during the raids of Mahmud Ghaznavi (ca. 1000 CE); during the actual conquest of North India by Mohammed Ghori and his lieutenants (1192 ff.); and under the Delhi Sultanate (1206-1526). The Moghuls (1526-1857), even Babar and Aurangzeb, were fairly restrained tyrants by comparison. Prof. K.S. Lal once estimated that the Indian population declined by 50 million under the Sultanate, but that would be hard to substantiate; research into the magnitude of the damage Islam did to India is yet to start in right earnest.
What should Hindus say to Muslims when they consider the record of Islam in Hindu lands? It is first very important not to allot guilt wrongly. Notions of collective or hereditary guilt should be avoided. Today’s Muslims cannot help it that other Muslims did certain things in 712 or 1565 or 1971. One thing they can do, however, is to critically reread their scripture to discern the doctrinal factors of Muslim violence against Hindus and Hinduism. Of course, even without scriptural injunction, people get violent and wage wars; if Mahmud Ghaznavi hadn’t come, some of the people he killed would have died in other, non-religious conflicts. But the basic Quranic doctrine of hatred against the unbelievers has also encouraged many good-natured and pious people to take up the sword against Hindus and other Pagans, not because they couldn’t control their aggressive instincts, but because they had been told that killing unbelievers was a meritorious act. Good people have perpetrated evil because religious authorities had depicted it as good.
This is material for a no-nonsense dialogue between Hindus and Muslims. But before Hindus address Muslims about this, it is imperative that they inform themselves about this painful history. Apart from unreflected grievances, Hindus have so far not developed a serious critique of Islam’s doctrine and historical record. Often practicing very sentimental, un-philosophical varieties of their own religion, most Hindus have very sketchy and distorted images of rival religions. Thus, they say that Mohammed was an Avatar of Vishnu, and then think that they have cleverly solved the Hindu-Muslim conflict by flattering the Prophet (in fact, it is an insult to basic Muslim beliefs, which reject divine incarnation, apart from indirectly associating the Prophet with Vishnu’s incarnation as a pig). Instead of the silly sop stories, which pass as conducive to secularism, Hindus should acquaint themselves with real history and real religious doctrines.
Another thing, which we should not forget, is that Islam is ultimately rooted in human nature. We need not believe the Muslim claim that the Quran is of divine origin; but then it is not of diabolical origin either, it is a human document. The Quran is in all respects the product of a 7th-century Arab businessman vaguely acquainted with Judeo-Christian notions of monotheism and prophetism, and the good and evil elements in it are very human. Even its negative elements appealed to human instincts, e.g. when Mohammed promised a share in the booty of the caravans he robbed, numerous Arab Pagans took the bait and joined him. The undesirable elements in Islamic doctrine stem from human nature, and can in essence be found elsewhere as well. Keeping that in mind, it should be possible to make a fair evaluation of Islam’s career in India on the basis of factual history.