Islam and Jainism

Islam and Jainism came in close contact with each other following the Islamic conquest from Central Asia and Persia in the seventh to the twelfth centuries, when much of north and central India came under the rule of the Delhi Sultanate, and later the Mughal empire.

The Miyana Rajputs, many of whom were Jains (as per their last name) embraced Islam at the time of Allauddin Khilji (Kumar Suresh Singh, Rajendra Behari Lal, Anthropological Survey of India, P. 9390, "Gujarat").

Muslim invaders and Jain institutions

The first mosque built in Delhi, the "Quwwat al-Islam" (near Qutb Minar) was built after demolishing the Jain temples built previously during the Tomar rule and leaving certain parts of the temple outside the mosque proper.Maulana Hakim Saiyid Abdul Hai "Hindustan Islami Ahad Mein" (Hindustan under Islamic rule), Eng Trans by Maulana Abdul Hasan Nadwi]

Jainism in the Delhi Sultanate

Jinaprabha Suri (d.1333) writes in his "Vividhatirthakalpa" ("Guide to Various Pilgrimage Places") of his relationship with Sultan Muhammad bin Tughluq (r.1325-1351). In two chapters that discuss his relationship with the Sultan (one of which was actually written by his disciple), Jinaprabha travels to Delhi to recover an image that had been taken from a temple. After impressing the Sultan with his poetic flair and his thorough knowledge of the various religious and philosophical schools in India, the Sultan awards him with some blankets and other gifts, which Jinaprabha reluctantly accepts. In the second chapter, Jinaprabha is called back to Delhi to settle some religious matters for the Sultan. He is greeted warmly by the Sultan and even introduced to the Sultan's mother. One of his chief ministers is ordered to wipe the mud from Jinaprabha's feet. After getting the image back from the Sultan's treasury, Jinaprabha is paraded around the town on an elephant as a display of his pre-eminence in debate. He accompanies the Sultan on his military campaigns and upon his return is awarded a quarter of town in Tughluqabad for the Jain community, including a hall for Jinaprabha to teach in. Amid great fanfare and celebration the Jain community is declared by our author as prosperous and "just as when the Hindus ruled and times were not so bad, the glorious Jinaprabhasuri taught all those who come to him, even those of other faiths, and all rush to serve him." [(Phyllis Granoff, "Speaking of Monks" (Oakville, Ont.: Mosaic Press, 1992)] Jinaprabha also secured edicts (firmans) to allow Jains to go on pilgrimage unharmed and untaxed (ibid.).

Under the leadership of Jinaprabhasuri and the Kharatara Gaccha, the Jains would remain an economically powerful and culturally vibrant community. While temples were desecrated, Jinaprabha speaks of these incidents as due to the power of the Dark Age (Kali Yuga), in which such things are going to happen. He also speaks of these desecrations as opportunities to earn "endless merit" by restoring temples, which laymen did with gusto. [See John Cort and Phyllis Granoff's contributions in "The Clever Adulteress : A Treasury of Jain Stories", (Oakville, Ont.: Mosaic Press, 1990.)]

Jainism in the Mughal period

Some Jain influence at the Mughal court of Akbar has been documented. Akbar honored Hiravijaya Suri, the leader of the Shvetambara Tapa Gachchha. Jain monks gained the respect of the Mughal emperors Jahangir [] and Shah Jahan. Akbar banned animal slaughter near important Jain sites during the Paryushana festival. [Akbar as Reflected in the Contemporary Jain Literature in Gujarat, Shirin Mehta, Social Scientist, Vol. 20, No. 9/10 (Sep. - Oct., 1992), pp. 54-60]

Jain-Muslim relations in modern India

Jains are some of the noticeable non-Hindu supporters of the Hindutva movement. The reasons for this are their anti-Islamic world-view as well as a cultural similarity between Hindus and Jains. Fact|date=July 2008

Author Sam Harris has compared the two religions. In an interview he states: "The principal tenet of Jainism is non-harming. Observant Jains will literally not harm afly. Fundamentalist Jainism and fundamentalist Islam do not have the same consequences,neither logically nor behaviorally." [Q & A with Sam Harris ]

External links

* [ Jainism and Islam in]


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