Impact of Islam on Hinduism and Hindustan: The Delhi Sultan covers a period of a little more than three centuries. During this period Islam made rapid progress in Hindustan (India) and caused its influence on Hinduism.
The Muslims constituted a new and powerful element in the population of India. Unlike other foreigners they refused to be absorbed in the vast Hindu society. They were conscious of their distinct identity, and were able to retain it. Not only they remained a distinct identity, but they also succeeded in making a large number of converts from among the Hindus.
The impact of Islam on the Hinduism and Hindu life led to far-reaching consequences.
- Firstly, it led to a revivalist movement among the Hindus and attempts were made to save Hinduism by introducing a new set of stricter rules and regulations. This spirit of orthodoxy is represented by the Smriti works compiled by Raghunandan and Madhavacharya.
- Secondly, it gave birth to a new Catholic movement which aimed at the reconciliation of the two systems – Hindu and Muslim. A distinguished band of religious reformers arose who condemned artificial distinction of caste and creed, expressed in the rituals of worship and stressed on the fundamental unity of God and the essence of all faiths. Foremost among these reformers were Ramananda, Kabir, Nanak, and Chaitanya.
Ramananda, the celebrated Vaishnava preacher of the 4th century, preached the message of unity of God and the unity of man, and introduced a radical reform of the Vaishnava sect.
Kabir was a disciple of Ramananda. He was, by birth, a Muslim and by profession a weaver. He did not recognize castes. He believed in the essential unity of man and preached the God of the Hindus and Allah of the Muslims were one and indivisible.
Nanak was the great founder of Sikhism. Like Kabir and Ramananda he preached the futility of caste distinctions and stressed on the unity of man. The most influential and well-known among the religious reformers of this period was Sri Chaitanya. He was born in a Brahman family of Nabadwip. He laid great stress on universal love and did away with all artificial barriers. The teachings of the great reformers made profound and lasting impression on the life and thought of contemporary times and did much to bring the two communities into ever closer relations with each other.
A remarkable effect of this Hindu-Muslim impact was noticeable in the growth of Vernacular Literature. The great Sannyasi teachers of the 14th and 15th centuries preached in the simple language of the people and helped the growth and development of vernacular literature. While Ramananda and Kabir gave a great impetus to the development of Hindi literature, Bengali and Punjabi literature received a great impetus at the hands of Chaitanya and Guru Nanak respectively. The vernacular literature of Bengal and Bihar was further enriched by the melodious songs composed by Chandidas and Vidyapati. Even the Sultans of Bengal were liberal patrons of vernacular literature. They encouraged a number of scholars and literary men who, at their instance, undertook the compilation of Bengali versions of the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and the Srimad Bhagavat Gita.
As a result of close Hindu-Muslim contact a new vernacular known as Urdu came into existence. It did much to bring the two communities into closer relations with each other.
Under the patronage of the Muslim rulers Persian literature also made rapid progress. The most well-known among the Persian writers of the period was Amir Khasru. A number of historical works were also written during this period. The most famous of such works was Tairkh-Firoz Shahi written by the eminent historian Ziauddin Barani.
The Muslim rulers of mediaeval India were also liberal patrons of architecture and under their fostering card and liberal patronage a fairly larger number of mosques, palaces, and tombs were built in different parts of the country. These are fine specimens of what is known as Indo-Muslim architecture is the extensive use of arches and domes. The provincial rulers like those of Bengal, Jaunpur, Gujarat and also Bijapur competed with the Delhi Sultans in encouraging the growth of architecture. The Adina Mosque, the Kadam Rasul, Dakhi Darwaja, and several other buildings of Gaur and Pandua are excellent specimens of creative art in Muhammadan Bengal.