Reportage

Muslims In New Delhi

219-220

 

Location

New Delhi lies in north India on the banks of Yamuna River between two mountain ranges – The Himalayas and the Aravali Range. It is surrounded by the State of Haryana on three sides and the State of Uttar Pradesh on the east.

Area and Population

New Delhi is th capital of India, it covers an area of 1,484 square kilometres – the second city only after Mumbai. According to the 2011 census, its population is 16,787,941. New Delhi is a city of multiple ethnicities. Hinduism is the religion of 82% of New Delhi’s population. There are also communities of Muslims (13%); other minorities include Christians, Buddhists, and Jews among others. Hindi is the most widely spoken language in New Delhi and the lingua franca of the city. English is widely spoken as well.

Geography:

Since the city is located on the Indo-Gangetic Plain in the north, there is little difference in elevation across the city. There are three geographic sections: New Delhi Hills, floodplains of the Yamuna River, and the banks of Yamuna River. The Yamuna River area has very fertile soil.

Climate:

The climate of New Delhi is a monsoon-influenced humid subtropical climate characterized with very hot summers. Summers are long, extending from March to September, with the monsoon season occurring in the middle of the summer. Winter starts in November and lasts until mid-February, and it peaks in January which is the coldest month of the year.

History:

Jama Mosque

This city is considered a blend of both ancient and modern eras. Its history goes back to the epoch of Mahabharata – when it was known as Indraprastha. Several dynasties ruled over New Delhi between the 13th Century and the 17th Century. During the early 1900s, the British administration named Delhi the capital of the Indian Empire. India gained independence in 1947 from Britain, and a limited autonomy was conferred to New Delhi and was administered by a Chief Commissioner appointed by the Government of India. In 1966, Delhi was converted into a union territory and eventually the Chief Commissioner was replaced by a Lieutenant Governor. In 1991, the Constitution declared the Union Territory of Delhi to be formally known as National Capital Territory of Delhi.

Form of Government:

The government structure of New Delhi includes three levels:

1 – The Lieutenant Governor

2 – An Executive Council which is formed of 4 members appointed by the president of the Republic

3 – An elected New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) and three elected local municipal corporations of Delhi (MCD).

The government of New Delhi has a governor, a cabinet and a premier appointed by the Indian President, contrary to many other Indian districts and cities. The 70 members of parliament in New Delhi are chosen through direct elections. Both the Government of India and the State Government of Delhi fully administer the city.

Economy

Ghana is one of the most economically advanced countries in Africa rich in its agriculture, water, and mineral resources. However, the dominance of foreign and European capitals over the economic potencies had diminished its national economic revenues. What also affected the economic crisis are the global price dispersion of minerals and export products (cocoa, banana, coconut) and the clear variance of annual rain average.

Agriculture has a distinctive economic status in Ghana as it sustains 52% of the population; 20% work in industry, and 28% work in administrative domains, tourism, and commerce. Ghana previously was famous for producing gold and aluminium and mining diamond and nickel in addition to manufacturing textiles and various chemical products.

Main Landmarks:

The Red Fort: When it was decided to shift the capital from Agra to Delhi in 1640 A.D., the construction of this beautiful fort was commissioned, and it was completed in eight years. The fort was built by the Mughals along the Yamuna River.

Humayuns Tomb: The tomb was commissioned in the late 16th Century after the death of the Mughal Empire Nasiruddin Humayun. It was constructed upon the orders of his wife Empress Hamida Bega Begum.  The tomb is considered one of the main landmarks of the Mughal era in India, and it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.

The National Museum of India: The National Museum of New Delhi is one of the largest museums in India that holds variety of articles belonging to the ancient Indian history. The museum has around 200,000 works of art, both of Indian and foreign origin, covering over 4,000 years, ranging from pre-historic era to modern works of art.

India Gate: The India Gate is a war memorial to the soldiers who died in World War I. Furthermore, the names of the soldiers who died during the war with Pakistan in 1971 are inscribed on the gate. It is considered one of the main tourist landmarks in India.

Rajpath Avenue and Rashtrapati: Rajpath (meaning “King’s Way”) is a ceremonial boulevard it includes the Rashtrapati Bhavan (presidential residence), the Parliament House of India, lakes, and rows of trees and flowers.

Purana Qila (Old Fort): It lies in Pandavas City.

Other landmarks: Chandni Chowk Market, Lotus Temple, Old Fort, Safdarjung Tomb, Dilli Haat Market, Lakshmi Narayan Temple, Hare Rama Hare Krishna Temple.

History of Islam in New Delhi

New Delhithe Capital of Islam in India: Dehli – as Muslims called it and now is known as Delhi – was the capital of the Mamluk State in India (602 A.H. – 689 A.H., 1206 A.D. – 1290 A.D.). It was known as the Delhi Sultanate, and it later became the seat of ruling dynasties in India until the 19th Century A.D.

The Foundation of Delhi Sultanate
The creation of Delhi sultanate, principal Muslim sultanate in north India with the capital city of Delhi, owed much to the campaigns of the Afghani Ghurid soldiers of Delhi and finally seizing it from its Hindu ruler in 592 A.H. – 1195 A.D. This was staged by Sultan Muʿizz al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Sām (Muḥammad of Ghūr) and his lieutenant Quṭb al-Dīn Aibak of Turkish origin. When the Sultan died in 602 A.H. – 1206 A.D., Aibak announced his independence in Delhi and rechristened himself as Sultan.

Qutub Manar Mosque

The Mamluk Sultanate: Several ruling dynasties reigned over Delhi, the first one being that founded by Qutb al-Din, and it was known as the Mamluk Sultanate because its founder was originally a Mamluk (slave) to his Master Shahabeddine. Ghurid Sultans used to bring along slaves to recruit them in the army from behind the river markets. After being freed, Aibak became an army lieutenant. He advanced in broadening his Indian kingdom to the east until reaching Bengal and to Punjab to the west.

In 607 A.H. – 1211 A.D., one of his sons and the Army Commander Iltutmish reigned and with him a second Mamluk dynasty took forth. When Sultan Iltutmish died in 633 A.H. – 1236 A.D., several of his sons successively ruled including his daughter Sultana Razia. Then the rule shifted to his Mamluk Balban (664 A.H., 1266 A.D.) who was on top of a third Mamluk dynasty.

The Khaljī Dynasty: Then the Khaljī dynasty who were of Turko-Afghan heritage ruled. They had long been settled in present-day Afghanistan before proceeding to Delhi in India what made them consider themselves Afghanis. The founder of this sultanate in Delhi in 689 A.H. – 1290 A.D. – Jalaluddine Firuz Khaljī, was around 70 years old at the time of his ascension. The sultanate did not last for more than 31 years, and 6 rulers succeeded in the reign, the last of which was of Hindu origin who had freshly embraced Islam. After being freed he became minister and army commander. Then he beheaded his master and appointed himself as the Sultan; he was murdered by one of his army commanders Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq in 720 A.H. – 1321 A.D.) because of his impudence and reversion to Hinduism.

Under the sultans of the Khaljī dynasty, the Delhi sultanate became an imperial power. With the onset of the reign of Jalal-ud-din Khaljī, the first invasion of Hindu Deccan peninsula was staged in 694 A.H. – 1294 A.D. The raids were continued by Alauddin Khaljī who sought to unite the Indian peninsula under his rule. He made victory after a fierce war that lasted for a one full year when he seized one of the main forts of Rajputana Desert in (700 A.H. – 1301 A.D.). Six years later, this was followed by a second raid in which he seized more forts in northern Deccan in 709 A.H. – 1309 A.D. In this raid, his army seized Gujarat Province and moved forward to Deccan itself and controlled parts of it. In 712 A.H. – 1312 A.D., Delhi Sultanate spread its control over the entire Indian peninsula. Afterwards Alauddin turned to carrying administrative and financial reforms.

The Tughluq DynastyThe Tughluq State: Sultan Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq commenced the rule of the Tughluq dynasty in 720 A.H. – 1321 A.D. It is stated that the Tughluq dynasty belonged to the race of Qarauna Turks from behind the river. The first three of its ten rulers were the most famous: the founder, his son Muhammad bin Tughluq and his nephew Firuz Shah Tughluq. They reigned for a long time as compared to the ruling dynasties which followed them. They could restore the provinces which the Sultanate lost in Deccan and Bengal. However separation movements reappeared under the tenure of Firuz Shah especially in Deccan. In the final stage of his rule, conspiracies and ordeals mushroomed. The streets of Delhi witnessed many clashes and massacres among those seeking power and high posts. With his death in 790 A.D. – 1388 A.D., the Tughluq rule degraded to a state of depression and deterioration. Seven weak rulers reigned over a period of ten years, and finally the power of the sultanate was shattered by the invasion from behind the river by Turkic conqueror Timur (Tamerlane) in 801 A.H. – 1399 A.D., who sacked Delhi itself and slaughtered its residents. The state disintegrated to petty states which declared their independence from the capital and were known as the states of kings of sects. Likewise, Delhi Sultanate was reduced to a small state, and its leaders always acknowledged their formal affiliation to Tamerlane and his successors afterwards with offering presents and money from time to time.

The Mughal Attacks on Delhi Sultanate: The most crucial cause that worried Delhi Sultanate was the repetitive attacks of the Mughal on its territories from the west. That was since the early days of Ganghis Khan who reached with his troops the banks of Sindh River. The successors of Ganghis khan continually conquered India having greed in its wealth.

The fear of Delhi Sultans from the danger posed by the Mughal led them to make close ties with the Mamluk Sultanate in Cairo – the seat of the Abbasid Caliph – after the fall of Baghdad. As the Sultans in Cairo nurtured enmity to the Mughal State Ilkhanate which was spreading its control over Iran and Iraq, it was agreed that Delhi invades Khorasan and Iraq which were under the Illkhanate rule. However, the conciliation between the Ilkhanate State and the Mamluks in 723 A.H. – 1323 A.D. prevented executing the invasion.

The importance of the Delhi Sultanate lies in the fact that it is the first independent Islamic state with a power restricted to India itself after it was annexed to the Islamic Caliphate State or part of the states which rose in neighbouring Afghanistan. Moreover, the City of Delhi was under the rule of a state that takes Islam as its religion for the first time in its history.

Muslims Today

Muslims in New Delhi today form the second religious community after the Hindus. As per the Indian constitution and laws, Muslims enjoy all civil rights. The state further allows Muslims to practice their religious rituals freely and safely in the regions with high Muslim populations.

However, despite the heavy Muslim populations and their residing in urban areas, their quota in particular is small in public and governmental offices as well as in university and political posts.

There is a general trend to learn English in particular among Muslims because it provides a way for better jobs in the light of the disappearance of traditional vocations practiced by Muslims such as weaving, tanning, mining, and limited industries.

It is also mentioned that much has been done to address poverty in rural areas through programs that provide jobs and through offering aids to farmers. Still costs were higher than the market level as per many agricultural products. In general, the majority of Muslims in cities suffer from negligence.

Still most Muslim Indians live to our very day on agriculture, as the job market of high administrative offices seems to be limited as per Muslims Muslims; as such groups from the middle classes are discarding with education and entering schools, while trying to find a place in the job market with little education, such as in the field of trade.

On the cultural level, the status is very poor; a governmental committee held a study in which it was asserted that the educational level of Muslims is alarming as 88% of Muslims quit school after receiving elementary education or even before. That means that 90% are illiterate. The study also shows that 8% of those who receive their education in public schools are Muslims while 4% study in Islamic schools.

The Status of Islamic Dawah:

As for Dawah, it is still active; however, the rarity of learned and educated men influenced the spread of Dawah. Still, scholars and students of religious studies are doing their best in this perspective. However, efforts are much less than what is expected. In fact, New Delhi is a fertile ground for Islamic Dawah, and the peaceful coexistence between its citizens may crown the Dawah with the aspired success.

The Status of Muslim Women in New Delhi:

Jama Masjid of Delhi: The Jama Masjid of Delhi is one of the largest mosques in India. It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, and it is tantamount to a kiblah that gathers the majority of Muslims and evidence on the power and civilization Muslim Mughals achieved. The mosque was built in the Mughal era in 1054 A.H – 1644 A.D.

Shan Jahan (meaning the king of the world) ruled from 1037 A.H. – 1627 A.D. to 1061 A.H. – 1657 A.D. He was one of the Muslim sultans of the Mughal state in India. Shah Jahan’s monuments are artistic wonders not only in the history of Islamic architecture but also in the history of world architecture.

The Special Characteristic and the Wide Areas:

The mosque is considered the largest mosque surrounded by a courtyard in the country, and it towers above a high hill. It is a colossal mosque that comprises adjacent halls, a square, and three domes on the terrace which are flanked by the two minarets.

prayer in Jama Mosque

Quwwat al Islam Mosque:

To the west of New Delhi, which was once the most famous Muslim city in the Indian peninsula, stands the Minar Qutb complex which is a host of monuments and buildings considered today to be one of the top touristic attractions in the world.

 

The Style of the Mosques:

Quwwat-ul Islam Mosque (the name a corruption of Qubbat-ul Islam Mosque – meaning the Dome of Islam) is one of the earliest extant mosques in India, and it is reminiscent in style and design of the Jama Mosque. Over years, expansions of the mosque continued, and many subsequent rulers added structures to the complex. It has a middle square with four praying halls the largest of which is the Kiblah hall. It was constructed by demolishing earlier temples at the site. The central arch of the mosque is ogee in shape. The side arches are smaller in size. The minaret – Qutub Minar – was built simultaneously with the mosque but appears to be a stand-alone structure, built 25 meters to the southeast front of the mosque. It is distinguished for its cylindrical style. It is the tallest brick minaret in the world. It is today 72.5 metres high, while it was 80 meters in the previous time.  It has an inner 379-step-spiral-ladder that leads to the top of the minaret. Qutub Minar is closed before visitors at the meantime because of repetitive suicide events that had taken place.
Jamia Millia Islamia (National Islamic University): It is a public central university in Delhi. It was established during British rule in 1920 A.D. It became a Central University by an act of the Indian Parliament in 1988.
The university was established by Muslim leaders and freedom fighters in 1920, before the independence of India, and they had influential contributions in liberating India from the hands of the British colonialists.

Dr Zakir Husain Library

Dr. Zakir Husain Library (Central Library, JMI): The university comprises many libraries annexed to the various faculties.
Dr. Zakir Husain Library – named after Dr. Zakir Husain, former President of India and Jamia’s former Vice-Chancellor – is the central library in the university. It has a collection of over 400,000 artefacts including books, microfilms, periodicals, manuscripts, and rare publications.

 

Jamia Millia Islamia

Jamia Millia Islamia Today:

From the historic perspective, the university is viewed as one of great importance in India at the meantime.  Perhaps, no other Indian institution had to confront as much political opposition during the stages of its construction without losing its targets.
The story of it surviving turbulent times and difficulties – as even the diplomas offered by the university under the British rule were not academically acknowledged – is a saga of dedication, conviction and vision of a people who worked against all odds and saw it growing step by step.
The academic structure: The University has nine faculties; it includes 11000 undergraduates, and the academic staff is formed of 1500 members. The faculties offer academic programs and higher education.

The Arabic Section in the university organized a meeting to mark the International Arabic Language Day in cooperation with the Union of Arabic Teachers and Scholars in India. The event highlights the great interest the University administration has towards the Arabic Language.

The Holy Month of Ramadan:


The Holy Month of Ramadan has its special rituals in India and more precisely in New Delhi. As the moon of the Holy Month appears, Muslims exchange the world famous expressions of felicitation: Ramadan Karim. Mosques and minarets are decorated with lights, and Quran sessions are held everywhere. Mosques become overcrowded with believers as the vibrant and substantial Muslim community break their everyday routine. Most Muslims keep with the Suhur Sunna, and at Iftar time, it is a habit that people gather in every neighbourhood mosque bringing with them the food, drink, and fruits they prepared, and they share together the Iftar dinner on that table. As for young children, they buy the lanterns this month is famous for and go out to the streets of popular neighbourhoods happy with the blessings Allah bestowed on them in this Holy Month. They chant religious hymns in their local Indian tongues. The devoted believers usually read the whole Quran during this month, and mosques which do not have imams who are memorizers of the Holy Quran (Hafiz) host a hafiz imam from other regions to undertake this mission.

Problems Faced by Muslims:

Lal mossque

A considerable number of Muslims moved to Pakistan in the aftermath of the wars and crises that befell Muslims in India; still, some Muslims preferred to remain in India and did not migrate to Pakistan, and they are today bearing repetitive aggressions staged by the Hindus. Indian Muslims further suffer from several problems the worst of which is poverty as the number of the deprived among them mounts to 75%. Other problems include lack of education and the unfair quota of Muslims in job opportunities.

Islamic Organizations

Jamiat UlemaeHind: Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind or Organisation of Indian Islamic Scholars is one of the oldest as well as one of the leading Islamic organisations in India. It was founded in 1920 A.D. by several Islamic scholars. Lately, the organization held a massive popular rally attended by some 300 thousand Muslims and several Muslim and Hindu scholars, politicians, and members of parliament. The speakers at the event talked about the problems posed by some Hindu and Muslim extremists and the causes of Muslims in general.

Tablighi Jamaat: Tablighi Jamaat, or The Outreach Society, is a global movement present worldwide especially where Indians exist such as in South Africa and Britain. The movement was started in 1925 by Muhammad Ilyas al-Kandhlawi, and its headquarters is in Delhi. It has no political affiliations or goals, and it is not active among non-Muslims. Its primary aim is spiritual reformation of Islam and calling on Muslims to adhere to their religious obligations and Islamic morals.

Moth-ki Masjid

Shia

The population of Shia Muslim varies in the many prominent big and small towns and villages where they reside. Shia Muslims are a large minority among India’s Muslims, and they are viewed as the second large minority in the country. Historically, important Hawzas prevailed in India when Shia ruled over vast areas.

According to some national and international sources, Indian Shia population is the world’s largest in number.  A census conducted in India in 1340 A.H. – 1921 A.D. estimated that the Shia population equals 35% of the Muslim population in India.

Khirki Masjid

It is worth mentioning that Shia were marginalized and neglected; later All India Shia Personal Law Board (AISPLB) was established in 2005 – to be separated from the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) – to meet the legal needs of the Shia population.

Shia Muslims have several centers, mosques, and Husseiniyehs where they mark Ashura rituals, have the Iftar dinner and spend Al Qadr Nights during the Holy Month of Ramadan, perform the five daily prayers, and learn and memorize the Holy Quran.

It is also noteworthy that Ashura Day is an official holiday in all Indian states including New Delhi.

All India Shia Organization: Based in Hyderabad, this organization works for the welfare of the Shia community.

Anjuman e Haideri: It is an Islamic organization that seeks to help the Shia and defend their rights.

Safeenat–ul-Hidaya (The Ship of Guidance) Association:    
It is active in the field of propagating Ahlulbeit (Peace be upon them) intellect and aiding Shia Muslims in New Delhi.

ImamElAsr Islamic Organization: This organization works on propagating the Shia intellect through establishing an orphanage for Shia children to look after them, protect them, and educate them. It further seeks to:

  • – Provide the necessary support for these students through libraries for example
  • – Provide the appropriate milieu where the person can assume his national and religious obligations with ease
  • – Perform Friday Prayers regularly
  • – Establish charity centers and hospitals
  • – Establish a nursing home for elderly people.

Check Also

Close
Close