Religions in India

Indian Muslims are divided into several communities - the most prominent being Shias and Sunnis. Information on Muslim Religion and Islam in India.

Islam in India


Jama Maszid in Delhi

Islam in India was first introduced by the Arab traders but most Indian Muslims are either the descendants of the Muslim invaders and rulers or are those who were converted to Islam later.

Islam Religion in India - 12% of Indian population follows Islam, which is a significant number considering the large population of the country. Muslims hold major influence in India as many Muslims rulers have ruled different parts of India, who came to India mostly as the invaders from the west and the non-Arab countries such as Bukhara, Turkey, Iran, Yemen and Afghanistan. Arab traders used to come to India before that and had their own places of worship that were later transformed into mosques. Since the 11th century, the Islam was spread jealously be the people who deemed it as their holy precept. Khwaja Chisti, who propounded Sufism, belonged to Iran. However, most conversion are said to have been forced and people had to either die or pay heavy Jeziya (poll) tax and Kharaj (property) tax or face execution. Since the 8th century, there were conversions but they were not forced on Indians.

Islam Religion in India

Not all Muslim invaders were religious fanatics and the tolerance and respect shown by Moghul emperor Akbar to other religions was legendary. However, his great grand son, Aurangazeb, was quite fanatic and destroyed many sacred places of Hindus and transformed into mosques. Many converted Muslims were from the crushed and lower classes of the Indian society while the warrior Hindus also adopted Islam as they tied up with the Muslim families. The descendants of Muslim invaders and their mercenaries, businessmen and slaves that belonged to various countries such as Russia, Afghanistan, Turkey, Arab countries and Africa expanded, married with local Hindu girls and converted them to Islam. The two major sects of Muslims are Sunni and Shia and tension exists between them.

Both the sects have different schools with specific titles and community names. The descendants of the daughter of Prophet Muhammad use the title 'Syed' before their names while the descendants of the first Muslims use the title 'Sheik'. Western Indian Muslim communities known as the Bohras and Khojas are named after different Islamic preachers who inspired them to adopt Islam. Nawaits are descendants of Arab and Persian immigrants while the Mophilla community in Kerala is descendants from Arab merchants. Pathans are Muslims from Afghanistan and normally use 'Khan' as their surname. They are deemed to be brave, honest and righteous. This led many converted Muslims in India to adopt the surname Khan too. The original Pathans are said to have originated as the Tribes of Israel.