Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why Did So Much of India Fall Under Moslem Rule?

[an excerpt from Fjordman]

Muslim scholars did not seriously study other cultures with curiosity and describe them with fairness, the Persian universal scholar al-Biruni’s (973-1048) writings about Hinduism and India being one of very few exceptions to this rule. He had taken the trouble to learn enough Sanskrit to be able to translate in both directions between this language and Arabic (for him also a learned language). As author John Keay writes in his book India: A History, Muslims were viewed by Indians as just another group of foreigners, perhaps annoying but essentially marginal. This was a big mistake:

“There is no evidence of an Indian appreciation of the global threat which they represented; and the peculiar nature of their mission — to impose a new monotheist orthodoxy by military conquest and political dominion — was so alien to Indian tradition that it went uncomprehended. No doubt a certain complacency contributed to this indifference. As al-Biruni (Alberuni), the great Islamic scholar of the eleventh century, would put it, ‘the Hindus believe that there is no country but theirs, no science like theirs.’…his scientific celebrity in the Arab world would owe much to his mastery of Sanskrit and access to Indian scholarship….Unlike Alexander’s Greeks, Muslim invaders were well aware of India’s immensity, and mightily excited by its resources….Since at least Roman times the subcontinent seems to have enjoyed a favourable balance of payments….The devout Muslim, although ostensibly bent on converting the infidel, would find his zeal handsomely rewarded.”

[excerpt from Fjordman's]

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