The Muslim Failure in India | Najmul Hoda


One of the most monumental failures of Islam in india has been the (a)pathetic neglect of the great Indian traditions. Despite remaining awestruck by the philosophical flights of the Indian mind, the Muslim scholars did not take any effort to delve deep into it. So, though Rama and Krishna were shown tacit deference as the “might have been great prophets”, the Muslims–their thirst for knowledge long dead–evinced no desire to drink from their fountain. That despite, even before coming to India, the Sufis had borrowed heavily from the yogic traditions of meditational exercises and the Vedantic philosophy of pantheism.

May be, the Islam which was brought to India by the Turkish conquerors was a cheap pirated edition on tatty paper and in smudgy print. I can not for the life of me ever understand how could the Muslims neglect such a text as Gita.

1001 Inventions: Sir Ben Kingsley featuring Al-Jazari

It were the Muslims who revived the Greek knowledge. They made Plato and Aristotle known to the world.

The Abbasid caliphs invited and enticed the Indian scholars to Baghdad. The treatises they carried were literally—yes, literally—weighed in gold. They learned the numerals and zero, astronomy and yoga from India.
The numerals we use (1, 2, 3,…) are called, by the Europeans, the Arabic Numerals, as distinct from the unwieldy and cumbersome Roman numerals (i, ii, iii…).

A Google doodle on birthday of legendary Persian mathematician and astronomer Abū al-Wafā Būzhjānī

And, what is the Arabic word for the Arabic Numerals? Don’t be surprised. It’s Hindsa, i.e., something which was learnt from Al Hind. The Arabs learned it from here, and passed on to the Europeans.

And, since they learned it from here, they write numerals from left to right, despite the fact that the Arabic is written from right to left. They have never felt uncomfortable with this right to left and left to right alpha-numeric boustrophedon.

In fact, all the languages which are written in the same script as Arabic, including Urdu and Persian, have been happily doing this left-right-left parade, and happily so.


Persian manuscript describing an astronomical phenomenon.

Al-Beruni came with Mahmud of Ghazni, in the early 11th century, to acquire the Indian knowledge. His Kitab ul-Hind still remains the mother of all books on Indology. But that was still the time when the Muslims were content with their dominions in Sindh and Punjab, and deeper inroads into the heart of India were no more than desultory incursions for loot and pillage.

But once they established themselves in the country, as conquerors and rulers, they hardly ever felt curious to retrieve the treasure troves rotting buried under the Brahminical insularity and hubris.

As conquerors—and so, as representing a superior / dominant culture—it was their civilisational responsibility to revive the knowledge of the land. But they remained content with ruling over decay, decrepitude and darkness.

May be, because the Muslim conquerors of India were the still-semi-barbaric new converts, the Turks, who did not not have much penchant for knowledge.

So, because of this civilisational failure of the Muslim rule in India, she had to wait for a thousand years for the likes of Max Mueller and William Jones to come and revive her ancient knowledge.


1001 Inventions: Discovering Islamic Golden Age |

Imagine, the Vedas and the Upanishads, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata remained untranslated for centuries! What the hell the Muslim ruling class were doing here?

In Baghdad they so revived the Greek medical science that today the Unani is a Muslim discipline. They couldn’t do the same for the Ayurveda.

Print Friendly
The following two tabs change content below.

Najmul Hoda

Najmul Hoda, IPS is an alumnus of Department of History, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh. He is currently serving as Deputy Inspector General (DIG) in Chennai.

Latest posts by Najmul Hoda (see all)

  • summerinmyheart

    Brilliantly written !