Persecution of Hindus refers to the religious persecution inflicted upon Hindus. Hindus have been historically persecuted during Islamic rule of the Indian subcontinent and during the Goa Inquisition. In modern times, Hindus in Kashmir, Pakistan and Bangladesh have also suffered persecution.
The Muslim conquest of the Indian subcontinent led to widespread carnage because Muslims regarded the Hindus as infidels and therefore slaughtered and converted millions of Hindus. Will Durant argued in his 1935 book "The Story of Civilization: Our Oriental Heritage" (page 459):
The Mohammedan conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. The Islamic historians and scholars have recorded with great glee and pride the slaughters of Hindus, forced conversions, abduction of Hindu women and children to slave markets and the destruction of temples carried out by the warriors of Islam during 800 AD to 1700 AD. Millions of Hindus were converted to Islam by sword during this period.There is no official estimate of the total death toll of Hindus at the hands of Muslims.
As Braudel put it: "The levies it had to pay were so crushing that one catastrophic harvest was enough to unleash famines and epidemics capable of killing a million people at a time. Appalling poverty was the constant counterpart of the conquerors' opulence."
The backward castes of Hinduism suffered worst. Monarchs (belonging to backward castes) such as Khusrau Bhangi Khan, Hemchandra and Garha-Katanga were knocked off their throne and executed. Backward caste saints like Namadeva were arrested, while women like Kanhopatra were forced to commit suicide. Ghisadis have an “Urdu” title. Prof. K.S. Lal, suggests a calculation in his book Growth of Muslim Population in Medieval India which estimates that between the years 1000 AD and 1500 AD the population of Hindus decreased by 80 million. Even those Hindus who converted to Islam were not immune from persecution, which was illustrated by the Muslim Caste System in India as established by Ziauddin al-Barani in the Fatawa-i Jahandari. where they were regarded as "Ajlaf" caste and subjected to severe discrimination by the "Ashraf" castes.
It appears from your letter that all the rules made by you for the comfort and convenience of your men are strictly in accordance with religious law. But the way of granting pardon prescribed by the law is different from the one adopted by you, for you go on giving pardon to everybody, high or low, without any discretion between a friend and a foe. The great God says in the Koran [47.4]: "0 True believers, when you encounter the unbelievers, strike off their heads." The above command of the Great God is a great command and must be respected and followed. You should not be so fond of showing mercy, as to nullify the virtue of the act. Henceforth grant pardon to no one of the enemy and spare none of them, or else all will consider you a weak-minded man.
In a subsequent communication, Hajjaj reiterated that all able-bodied men were to be killed, and that their underage sons and daughters were to be imprisoned and retained as hostages. Qasim obeyed, and on his arrival at the town of Brahminabad massacred between 6,000 and 16,000 of the defending forces. The historian, Upendra Thakur records the persecution of Hindus and Buddhists:
When Muhammad Kasim invaded Sind in 711 AD, Buddhism had no resistance to offer to their fire and steel. The rosary could not be a match for the sword and the terms Love and Peace had no meaning to them. They carried fire and sword wherever they went and obliterated all that came their way. Muhammad triumphantly marched into the country, conquering Debal, Sehwan, Nerun, Brahmanadabad, Alor and Multan one after the other in quick succession, and in less than a year and a half, the far-flung Hindu kingdom was crushed, the great civilization fell back and Sind entered the darkest period of its history. There was a fearful outbreak of religious bigotry in several places and temples were wantonly desecrated. At Debal, the Nairun and Aror temples were demolished and converted into mosques.[Resistors] were put to death and women made captives. The Jizya was exacted with special care.[Hindus] were required to feed Muslim travellers for three days and three nights.
Other historians and archaeologists such as J E Lohuizen-de Leeuw, take the following stance regarding events preceding the sack of Debal:
In fact, we have clear evidence that the Arabs were very tolerant towards both Buddhists and Hindus during the rest of the campaign and throughout the time they ruled Sind...Of course that does not mean that no monuments were ever destroyed, for war always means a certain amount of damage to buildings but it does prove that there was no wanton and systematic destruction of each and every religious center of the Buddhists and Hindus in Sind.
Pradyumna Prasad Karan further describes Mahmud's invasion as one in which he put "thousands of Hindu's to the sword" and made a pastime of "raising pyramids of the skulls of the infidels". Holt et al. hold an opposing view, that he was "no mere robber or bloody thirsty tyrant" . Mahmud shed no blood "except in the exegencies of war", and was tolerant in dealings with his own Hindu subjects, some of whom rose to high posts in his administration, such as his Hindu General Tilak
Mahmud of Ghazni sacked the second Somnath Temple in 1026, and looted it of gems and precious stones and the famous Shiva lingam of the temple was destroyed and it's fragments taken away to Ghazni where they were used as stepping stones for a mosque.
Shahab-ul-Din, King of Gazni (1170-1206), put Prithwi Raj, King of Ajmer and Delhi, to death in cold blood. He massacred thousands of the inhabitants of Ajmer who opposed him, reserving the remainder for slavery (The Kamiu-t Tawarikh by Asir).
In the Taj-ul-Ma’asir by Hassn Nizam-i-Naishapuri, it is stated that when Qutb-ul- Din Aibak (1194-1210) conquered Meerat, he demolished all the Hindu temples of the city and erected mosques on their sites. In the city of Aligarh, he converted Hindu inhabitants to Islam by the sword and beheaded all those who adhered to their own religion. The Persian historian Wassaf writes in his Tazjiyat-ul-Amsar wa Tajriyat ul Asar that when Alaul-Din Khilji (1295-1316) captured the city of Kambayat at the head of the gulf ofCambay, he killed the adult male Hindu inhabitants for the glory of Islam, set flowing rivers of blood, sent the women of the country with all their gold, silver, and jewels, to his own home, and made about twentv thousand maidens his private slaves. Ala-ul-Din once asked his Qazi’, what was the Mohammadan law prescribed for the Hindus. The Qazi replied, “Hindus are like the mud; if silver is demanded from them, they must with the greatest humility offer gold. If a Mohammadan desire to spit into a Hindu’s mouth, the Hindu should open it wide for the purpose. God created the Hindus to be slaves of the Mohammadans. The Prophet hath ordained that, if the Hindus do not accept Islam, they should be imprisoned, tortured, finally put to death, and their property confiscated.” Sayad Mohammad Latif writes in his history of the Punjab, “Great jealousy and hatred existed those days between the Hindus and Mohammadans and the whole non-Muslim population w• subject to persecution by the Mohammadan rulers.”
Tīmūr bin Taraghay Barlas (Chagatai Turkic: تیمور - Tēmōr, "iron") (1336 – February 1405), known in the West as Tamerlane, was a 14th century warlord of Turco-Mongol descent, conqueror of much of western and central Asia, and founder of the Timurid Empire and Timurid dynasty (1370–1405) in Central Asia, which survived in some form until 1857. Perhaps, he is more commonly known by his pejorative Persian name Timur-e Lang which translates to Timur the Lame, as he was lame after sustaining an injury to the leg in battle.
Timur crossed the Indus River at Attock on September 24. The capture of towns and villages was often followed by the massacre of their inhabitants and the raping of their women, as well as pillaging to support his massive army. Timur wrote many times in his memoirs of his specific disdain for the 'idolatrous' Hindus, although he also waged war against Muslim Indians during his campaign.
Timur's invasion did not go unopposed and he did meet some resistance during his march to Delhi, most notably by the Sarv Khap coalition in northern India, and the Governor of Meerut. Although impressed and momentarily stalled by the valour of Ilyaas Awan, Timur was able to continue his relentless approach to Delhi, arriving in 1398 to combat the armies of Sultan Mehmud, already weakened by an internal battle for ascension within the royal family.
The Sultan's army was easily defeated on December 17, 1398. Timur entered Delhi and the city was sacked, destroyed, and left in ruins. Before the battle for Delhi, Timur executed more than 100,000 captives.
Timur himself recorded the invasions in his memoirs, collectively known as Tuzk-i-Timuri. In them, he vividly described the massacre at Delhi:
In a short space of time all the people in the [Delhi] fort were put to the sword, and in the course of one hour the heads of 10,000 infidels were cut off. The sword of Islam was washed in the blood of the infidels, and all the goods and effects, the treasure and the grain which for many a long year had been stored in the fort became the spoil of my soldiers. They set fire to the houses and reduced them to ashes, and they razed the buildings and the fort to the ground....All these infidel Hindus were slain, their women and children, and their property and goods became the spoil of the victors. I proclaimed throughout the camp that every man who had infidel prisoners should put them to death, and whoever neglected to do so should himself be executed and his property given to the informer. When this order became known to the ghazis of Islam, they drew their swords and put their prisoners to death.
One hundred thousand infidels, impious idolators, were on that day slain. Maulana Nasiruddin Umar, a counselor and man of learning, who, in all his life, had never killed a sparrow, now, in execution of my order, slew with his sword fifteen idolatrous Hindus, who were his captives....on the great day of battle these 100,000 prisoners could not be left with the baggage, and that it would be entirely opposed to the rules of war to set these idolaters and enemies of Islam at liberty...no other course remained but that of making them all food for the sword.
According to Malfuzat-i-Timuri, Timur targeted Hindus. In his own words, "Excepting the quarter of the saiyids, the 'ulama and the other Musalmans [sic], the whole city was sacked". In his descriptions of the Loni massacre he wrote, "..Next day I gave orders that the Musalman prisoners should be separated and saved."
During the ransacking of Delhi, almost all inhabitants not killed were captured and enslaved.
Timur left Delhi in approximately January 1399. In April he had returned to his own capital beyond the Oxus (Amu Darya). Immense quantities of spoils were taken from India. According to Ruy Gonzáles de Clavijo, 90 captured elephants were employed merely to carry precious stones looted from his conquest, so as to erect a mosque at Samarkand — what historians today believe is the enormous Bibi-Khanym Mosque. Ironically, the mosque was constructed too quickly and suffered greatly from disrepair within a few decades of its construction.
An order was accordingly given to the Brahman and was brought before Sultan. The true faith was declared to the Brahman and the right course pointed out. but he refused to accept it. A pile was risen on which the Kaffir with his hands and legs tied was thrown into and the wooden tablet on the top. The pile was lit at two places his head and his feet. The fire first reached him in the feet and drew from him a cry and then fire completely enveloped him. Behold Sultan for his strict adherence to law and rectitude.
Under his rule, Hindus who were forced to pay the mandatory Jizya tax were recorded as infidels, their communities monitored and, if they violated Imperial ordinances and built temples, they were destroyed. In particular, an incident in the village of Gohana in Haryana was recorded in the "Insha-i-Mahry" (another historical record written by Amud Din Abdullah bin Mahru) where Hindus had erected a deity and were arrested, brought to the palace and executed en-masse.
In 1230, the Hindu King of Orissa Anangabhima III consolidated his rule and proclaimed that an attack on Orissa constituted an attack on the king's god. A sign of Anangabhima's determination to protect Hindu culture is the fact that he named is new capital in Cuttack “Abhinava Varanasi.” His anxieties about further Muslim advances in Orissa proved to be well founded.
During his reign, tens of thousands of temples were desecrated: their facades and interiors were defaced and their murtis (divine images) looted. In many cases, temples were destroyed entirely; in numerous instances mosques were built on their foundations, sometimes using the same stones. Among the temples Aurangzeb destroyed were two that are most sacred to Hindus, in Varanasi and Mathura. In both cases, he had large mosques built on the sites.
The Kesava Deo temple in Mathura, marked the place that Hindus believe was the birth place of Shri Krishna. In 1661 Aurangzeb ordered the demolition of the temple, and constructed the Katra Masjid mosque. Traces of the ancient Hindu temple can be seen from the back of the mosque. Aurangzeb also destroyed what was the most famous temple in Varanasi- the Vishwanath Temple. The temple had changed its location over the years, but in 1585 Akbar had authorized its location at Gyan Vapi. Aurangzeb ordered its demolition in 1669 and constructed a mosque on the site, whose minarets stand 71 metres above the Ganges. Traces of the old temple can be seen behind the mosque. Centuries later, emotional debate about these wanton acts of cultural desecration continues. Aurangzeb also destroyed the Somnath temple in 1706.
Hindu nationalists claim that Mughals destroyed the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, located at the birthplace of Rama, and built the Babri Masjid on the holy site, which has since been a source of tension between the Hindu and Muslim communities.
Writer Fernand Braudel wrote in A History of Civilizations (Penguin 1988/1963, p.232-236), Islamic rule in India as a "colonial experiment" was "extremely violent", and "the Muslims could not rule the country except by systematic terror. Cruelty was the norm – burnings, summary executions, crucifixions or impalements, inventive tortures. Hindu temples were destroyed to make way for mosques. On occasion there were forced conversions. If ever there were an uprising, it was instantly and savagely repressed: houses were burned, the countryside was laid waste, men were slaughtered and women were taken as slaves."
C. K. Kareem also notes that Tippu Sultan issued an edict for the destruction of Hindu temples in Kerala.
Historian Hayavadana C. Rao wrote about Tippu in his encyclopaedic work on the History of Mysore. He asserted that Tippu's "religious fanaticism and the excesses committed in the name of religion, both in Mysore and in the provinces, stand condemned for all time. His bigotry, indeed, was so great that it precluded all ideas of toleration". He further asserts that the acts of Tippu that were constructive towards Hindus were largely political and ostentatious rather than an indication of genuine tolerance.
Hindu groups revile Tipu Sultan as a bigot who massacred Hindus. He was known to carry out forced conversions of Hindus and Christians.. According to Ramchandra Rao "Punganuri" Tipu converted 500 Hindus in Kodagu (Coorg).
While the vast majority of Hindus live in Hindu-majority areas of India, Hindus in other parts of South Asia and in the diaspora have sometimes faced persecution.
Hindus, like Muslims, Sikhs, and members of other religious groups, experienced severe dislocation and violence during the massive population exchanges associated with the partition of India, as members of various communities moved to what they hoped was the relative safety of an area where they would be a religious majority. Hindus were among the between 200,000 and a million who died during the rioting and other violence associated with the partition.
Kashmiri militants have engaged in attacks on Hindu pilgrims in both Kashmir and neighboring Jammu. Kashmiri militants have attacked Hindus in the region, as well as moderate Muslims suspected of siding with India. Kashmiri Pandit Hindus, who have been residents of Kashmir for centuries, have been ethnically cleansed from Kashmir by Islamic militants. In particular, the Wandhama Massacre in 1998 was an incident in which 24 Kashmiri Hindus were gunned down by Islamists disguised as Indian soldiers. Many Kashmiri Hindus have been killed and thousands of children orphaned over the course of the conflict in Kashmir.
The Moplah Riots in 1921 where Muslims in Kerala, influenced by the Khilafat movement rioted in rebellion against British Raj and Hindu Jenmis, resulted in thousands of Hindu deaths and a number of forcible conversions. Parts of Kerala such as Ernad and Walluvanad were declared as Khilafat kingdoms by groups of Muslim mobs and flags of the Islamic Caliphate were flown. Annie Besant stated in her book: "They Moplahs murdered and plundered abundantly, and killed or drove away all Hindus who would not apostatise. Somewhere about a lakh (100,000) of people were driven from their homes with nothing but their clothes they had on, stripped of everything...Malabar has taught us what Islamic rule still means, and we do not want to see another specimen of the Khilafat Raj in India.
In Northeastern India, especially in Nagaland, Hindus are not able to celebrate Durga Puja and other essential festivals due to harassment and killing by Christian terrorist groups. In Tripura, the NLFT has targeted Swamis and temples for attacks. The Baptist Church of Tripura is alleged to have supplied NLFT with arms and financial support and encouraged the murder of Hindus, particularly infants.
The period of insurgency in Punjab around Operation Bluestar saw clashes of the Sikh militants with the police, as well as with the Hindu-Nirankari groups resulting in many Hindu deaths. In 1987, 32 Hindus were pulled out of the bus and shot, near Lalru in Punjab by Sikh militants.
The HAF report documents the long history of anti-Hindu atrocities in Bangladesh, a topic that many Indians and Indian governments over the years have preferred not to acknowledge. Such atrocities, including targeted attacks against temples, open theft of Hindu property, and rape of young Hindu women and enticements to convert to Islam, have increased sharply in recent years after the Jamat-e-Islami joined the coalition government led by the Bangladesh National Party.
Bangladesh has had a troublesome history of persecution of Hindus as well. A US-based human rights organisation, Refugees International, has claimed that religious minorities, especially Hindus, still face discrimination in Bangladesh. The government of Bangladesh, a nationalist party openly calls for ‘Talibanisation’ of the state. However, the prospect of actually "Talibanizing" the state is regarded as a remote possibility, since Bangladeshi Islamic society is generally more progressive than the extremist Taliban of Afghanistan. Political scholars conclude that while the Islamization of Bangladesh is real, the country is not on the brink of being Talibanized. In 1971 at the time of the liberation of Bangladesh from East Pakistan, the Hindu population accounted for 15% of the total population. Thirty years on, it is now estimated at just 10.5%. The ‘Vested Property Act’ previously named the ‘Enemy Property Act’ has seen up to 40% of Hindu land snatched away forcibly. Since this government has come into power, of all the rape crimes registered in Bangladesh, 98% have been registered by Hindu women. Hindu temples in Bangladesh have also been vandalised. The United States Congressional Caucus on India has condemned these atrocities.
Bangladeshi feminist Taslima Nasrin's 1993 novel Lajja deals with the anti-Hindu riots and anti-secular sentiment in Bangladesh in the wake of the destruction of the Babri Masjid in India. The book was banned in Bangladesh, and helped draw international attention to the situation of the Bangladeshi Hindu minority.
In October 2006, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom published a report titled 'Policy Focus on Bangladesh', which said that since its last election, 'Bangladesh has experienced growing violence by religious extremists, intensifying concerns expressed by the countries religious minorities'. The report further stated that Hindus are particularly vulnerable in a period of rising violence and extremism, whether motivated by religious, political or criminal factors, or some combination. The report noted that Hindus had multiple disadvantages against them in Bangladesh, such as perceptions of dual loyalty with respect to India and religious beliefs that are not tolerated by the politically dominant Islamic Fundamentalists of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party. Violence against Hindus has taken place "in order to encourage them to flee in order to seize their property".The previous reports of the Hindu American Foundation were acknowledged and confirmed by this non-partisan report.
On November 2, 2006, USCIRF criticized Bangladesh for its continuing persecution of minority Hindus. It also urged the Bush administration to get Dhaka to ensure protection of religious freedom and minority rights before Bangladesh's next national elections in January 2007.
There are a number of instances of persecution of Hindus in Pakistan. Minority members of the Pakistan National Assembly have alleged that Hindus were being hounded and humiliated to force them to leave Pakistan.
On October 18, 2005, Sanno Amra and Champa, a Hindu couple residing in the Punjab Colony, Karachi, Sindh returned home to find that their three teenage daughters had disappeared. After inquiries to the local police, the couple discovered that their daughters had been taken to a local madrassah, had been converted to Islam, and were denied unsupervised contact with their parents.
In 2006, the last Hindu temple in Lahore was destroyed to pave the way for construction of a multi-storied commercial building. The temple was demolished after officials of the Evacuee Property Trust Board concealed facts from the board chairman about the nature of the building. When reporters from Pakistan-based newspaper Dawn tried to cover the incident, they were accosted by the henchmen of the property developer, who denied that a Hindu temple existed at the site.
Several political parties in Pakistan have objected to this move, such as the Pakistan People's party and the Pakistani Muslim League-N. The move has also evoked strong condemnation in India from minority bodies and political parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Congress Party, as well as Muslim advocacy political parties such as the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat. A firm of lawyers representing the Hindu minority has approached the Lahore High Court seeking a directive to the builders to stop the construction of the commercial plaza and reconstruct the temple at the site. The petitioners maintain that the demolition violates section 295 of the Pakistan Penal Code prohibiting the demolition of places of worship.
The decree was condemned by the Indian and United States governments as a violation of religious freedom. Widespread protests against the Taliban regime broke out in Bhopal,India. In the United States, chairman of the Anti-Defamation League Abraham Foxman compared the decree to the practices of Nazi Germany, where Jews were required to wear labels identifying them as such. The comparison was also drawn by California Democrat and holocaust survivor Tom Lantos, and New York Democrat and author of the bipartisan 'Sense of the Congress' non-binding resolution against the anti-Hindu decree Eliot L Engel. In the United States, congressmen and several lawmakers. wore yellow badges on the floor of the Senate during the debate as a demonstration of their solidarity with the Hindu minority in Afghanistan.
Indian analyst Rahul Banerjee said that this was not the first time that Hindus have been singled out for state-sponsored oppression in Afghanistan. Violence against Hindus has caused a rapid depletion in the Hindu population over the years. Since the 1990s many Afghan Hindus have fled the country, seeking asylum in countries such as Germany.
On November 20, 2006, three buses full of riot police, two ambulances, two empty lorries, and executors of the Karasai district arrived at the community in sub-zero weather and evicted the Hare Krishna followers from thirteen homes, which the police proceeded to demolish.
The Forum 18 News Service reported, "Riot police who took part in the destruction threw the personal belongings of the Hare Krishna devotees into the snow, and many devotees were left without clothes. Power for lighting and heating systems had been cut off before the demolition began. Furniture and larger household belongings were loaded onto trucks. Officials said these possessions would be destroyed. Two men who tried to prevent the bailiffs from entering a house to destroy it were seized by 15 police officers who twisted their hands and took them away to the police car.
The Hare Krishna community had been promised that no action would be taken before the report of a state commission – supposedly set up to resolve the dispute – was made public. On the day the demolition began, the commission's chairman, Amanbek Mukhashev, told Forum 18, "I know nothing about the demolition of the Hare Krishna homes – I'm on holiday." He added, "As soon as I return to work at the beginning of December we will officially announce the results of the Commission's investigation." Other officials also refused to comment.
The United States urged Kazakhstan's authorities to end what it called an "aggressive" campaign against the country's tiny Hare Krishna community.
The president of the Consumers Association of Subang and Shah Alam in Selangor State has been helping to organise efforts to stop the local authorities in the Muslim dominated city of Shah Alam from demolishing a 107-year-old Hindu temple. The growing Islamization in Malaysia is a cause for concern to many Malaysians who follow minority religions such as Hinduism. On May 11, 2006, armed city hall officers from Kuala Lumpur forcefully demolished part of a 60-year-old suburban temple that serves more than 1,000 Hindus. The "Hindu Rights Action Force", a coalition of several NGO's, have protested these demolitions by lodging complaints with the Malaysian Prime Minister. Many Hindu advocacy groups have protested what they allege is a systematic plan of temple cleansing in Malaysia. The official reason given by the Malaysian government has been that the temples were built "illegally". However, several of the temples are centuries old. On average, a Hindu temple is demolished in Malaysia once every three weeks.
On March 24, Saudi authorities destroyed religious items found in a raid on a makeshift Hindu shrine found in an apartment in Riyadh.
The Methodist church of Fiji repeatedly calls for the creation of a Christian State since a coup d'etat in 1987 and has stated that those who are not Christian should be "tolerated as long as they obey Christian law".
The Methodist Church of Fiji specifically objects to the constitutional protection of minority religious communities such as Hindus and Muslims. State favoritism of Christianity, and systematic attacks on temples, are some of the greatest threats faced by Fijian Hindus. Despite the creation of a human rights commission, the plight of Hindus in Fiji continues to be precarious.
Intensified protests over the course of the 1980s led to an improvement in the state's attitudes towards Hindus.The divergence of some of the fundamental aspects of local Hindu culture, the segregation of the Hindu community from Trinidad, and the disinclination to risk erasing the more fundamental aspects of what had been constructed as "Trinidad Hinduism" in which the identity of the group had been rooted, would often generate dissension when certain dimensions of Hindu culture came into contact with the State. While the incongruences continue to generate debate, and often conflict, it is now tempered with growing awareness and consideration on the part of the state to the Hindu minority. Hindus have been also been subjected to persistent proselytization by Christian missionaries. Specifically the evangelical and Pentecostal Christians. Such activities reflect racial tensions that at times arise between the Christianized Afro-Trinidadian and Hindu Indo-Trinidadian communities.