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Parasparopagraho Jīvānām

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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) adopted 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 the Jain temples built previously during the Tomar rule were sold to the Muslims.[1] 27 Jain and Hindu temples were demolished to build this mosque also known as "might of Islam". The remains of the temple were used for to provide the building material for the mosque.[2] Similarly the Jami Masjid at Cambay was build on ruins of Jain temples.[3]

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."[4] 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. [5]

Jainism in the Mughal period

Some Jain customs and characters that influenced the Mughal court of Akbar have been documented. Akbar honored Hiravijaya Suri, the leader of the Shvetambara Tapa Gachchha.[6] They persuaded the emperor to forbid the slaughter of animals for six months in Gujarat and abolish the confiscation of property of deceased persons, the Sujija Tax (Jazia) and a Sulka (possibly a tax on pilgrims) and free caged birds and prisoners. Akbar is said to have given up hunting and quit meat-eating forever as it had become repulsive.[6] Akbar also declared "Amari Ghosana" banning the killing of animals during Jain festival of Paryushana and Mahavir Jayanti. He rolled back the Jazia tax from Jain pilgrim places like Palitana. These farmans were also issued in 1592, 1594 and 1598.[6] Jain monks gained the respect of the Mughal emperors Jahangir [7] and Shah Jahan. Akbar banned animal slaughter near important Jain sites during the Paryushana festival. [8]

An outsider's comparison of Jain and Islamic fundamentalism

Sam Harris, author of Letter to a Christian Nation, compared the two fundamentalisms. In an interview he states: "The principal tenet of Jainism is non-harming. Observant Jains will literally not harm a fly. Fundamentalist Jainism and fundamentalist Islam do not have the same consequences, neither logically nor behaviorally."[9] He further clarifies in The End of Faith:[10] "According to Zakaria, 'if there is one great cause of the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, it is the total failure of political institutions in the Arab world.' Perhaps. But 'the rise of Islamic fundamentalism' is only a problem because the fundamentals of Islam are a problem. A rise of Jain fundamentalism would endanger no one. In fact, the uncontrollable spread of Jainism throughout the world would improve our situation immensely. We would loose more of our crops to pests, perhaps (observant Jains generally will not kill anything, including insects), but we would not find ourselves surrounded by suicidal terrorists or by a civilization that widely condones their actions."[11]

See also


  1. Maulana Hakim Saiyid Abdul Hai "Hindustan Islami Ahad Mein" (Hindustan under Islamic rule), Eng Trans by Maulana Abdul Hasan Nadwi
  2. PETERSEN, ANDREW. (2002). Dictionary of Islamic architecture. London:Routledge. ISBN:0203203879 p.241
  3. PETERSEN, ANDREW. (2002). Dictionary of Islamic architecture. London:Routledge. ISBN:0203203879 p.102
  4. (Phyllis Granoff, Speaking of Monks (Oakville, Ont.: Mosaic Press, 1992)
  5. See John Cort and Phyllis Granoff's contributions in The Clever Adulteress : A Treasury of Jain Stories, (Oakville, Ont.: Mosaic Press, 1990.)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Ahmedabad turned Akbar veggie". The Times of India. 2009-11-23. Retrieved 2009-11-23. 
  7. <Jahangir's Vow of Non-Violence, Ellison B. Findley, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 107, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 1987), pp. 245-256
  8. 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
  9. Q & A with Sam Harris
  10. Harris, Sam. The End of Faith, pp.147-148: quoting Zakaria, Future of Freedom, 138 & 143
  11. I sold my soul on eBay: viewing faith through an atheist's eyes, by Hemant Mehta, p. 202

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Islam and Jainism. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.