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) adopted Islam at the time of Alauddin Khilji.[1]

Muslim conquerors and Jain institutions

The first mosque built in Delhi, the "Quwwat al-Islam" (near Qutb Minar) was built after the Jain temples built previously under the Tomara dynasty were forcefully converted into Mosques by the Muslim Sultanate.[2] 27 Jain temples were demolished to build this mosque whose name translates to "might of Islam". The remains of the temple were used for to provide the building material for the mosque.[3] Similarly the Jami Masjid at Khambhat was built on ruins of Jain temples.[4]

In the year 782, the city of Vallabhi, which was an important Jain center, was destroyed by Arab rulers of Sindh.[5] Mahmud Ghazni (1001), Mohammad Ghori (1175) and Ala-ud-din Muhammed Shah Khilji (1298) further oppressed the Jain community.[6] They vandalized idols and destroyed temples or converted them into mosques. They also burned Jain books and killed many people.[6]

Muslims also destroyed many Jain holy sites during their rule in western India. They exerted serious pressure on the Jain community during 13th and 14th century.[7] Jains were powerless against the dominance of Islam at that time.[8]

A mosque in Khambhat

The Shrine of Ibrahim at Bhadreshwar in Gujarat, built in 1160 AD was built before Islamic conquest. Mehrdad Shokoohy regards the Muslim monuments at Bhadreshwar to be the earliest Muslim monument in India based on archaeological evidence[9] with architecture similar to the Jain temples of Mt Abu. According to Jain text Jagaducharitra, a grant was provided by the Jain ruler Jagdu Shah for the construction of a mosque.

Jainism in the Delhi Sultanate

Jinaprabha Suri (d.1333) writes in his "Vividhatirthakalpa" ("Guide to Various Pilgrimage Places") of his relationship with Muhammad bin Tughluq (r.1325-1351), Sultan of Delhi. 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. In the second chapter, Jinaprabha is called back to Delhi to settle some religious matters for the Sultan. 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."[10] Jinaprabha also secured edicts (firmans) to allow Jains to go on pilgrimage unharmed and untaxed (ibid.). 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.[11]

In the Digambara tradition, the founding of the Bhattaraka tradition in its modern form (as an orange-robed monk), is often attributed to Prabhachandra of Mula Sangh, Balatkara Gana Saraswati gachchha, who travelled from Pattana (Gujarat) to Delhi, where he was anointed in a ceremony as the first Bhattaraka of Delhi. He was invited by the ruler of Delhi, who is identified as Muhammad Bin Tughlaq.[12]

Jainism in the Mughal period

As bankers and financiers, the Jains had significant impact on Muslim rulers, but they rarely were able to enter into a political discourse which was framed in Islamic categories.[13]

Some Jain customs and characters that influenced the Mughal court of Akbar have been documented. Akbar honored Hiravijaya, the leader of the Svetambara Tapa Gaccha.[14] 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 (jizya) 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.[14] Akbar also declared "Amari Ghosana" banning the killing of animals during Jain festival of Paryushana and Mahavira Jayanti. He rolled back the jizya from Jain pilgrimage places like Palitana. These farmans were also issued in 1592, 1594 and 1598.[14] Jain monks gained the respect of the Mughal emperors Jahangir [15] and Shah Jahan. Akbar banned animal slaughter near important Jain sites during the Paryushana.[16]

In 1645, the Mughal prince Aurangzeb desecrated the Chintamani Parshvanath Jain temple constructed by Shantidas Jhaveri, after being appointed the Governor of Gujarat. According to the French traveller Jean de Thévenot (1666), Aurangzeb caused a cow to be killed in the temple premises, destroyed the noses of all idols in the temple, and then converted the place into a mosque called Quvval-ul-Islam ("the Might of Islam").[17] Shantidas complained to Aurangzeb's father emperor Shah Jahan. In 1648, the Emperor issued a firman declaring that the building should be handed over to Shantidas, and a wall should be raised between the mihrabs (niches in the mosque walls) and the rest of the original temple building. It also declared that the Muslim fakirs housed in the mosque premises should be removed, and the materials carried away from the temple should be restored.[17][18]

As the Governor of Gujarat, Shah Jahan's son Murad Baksh granted the village of Palitana to Shantidas Jhaveri in 1656 which was a major pilgrimage centre of Jainism.[19]

The Jainism and Buddhism was under stress by resurgent Hinduism when Islam was introduced to Tamil Nadu and Kerala regions of southern India (650-750 AD). Some scholars believe that many Jains embraced Islam and they still retain some Jain habits.[20]


Followers of Jainism must observe abstinence from liquor. In Islam also, consumption of liquor is prohibited.[21] Champat Rai Jain, an influential Jain writer of the 20th century authored a book named "Lifting of the Veil or The Gems of Islam".[22]

Both Jainism and Islam place great value on fasting. One major difference is that in Sawm (Muslim Fasting) eating is permitted outside of daylight hours, whereas in Jain fasting eating after daylight is discouraged.

Jains are strictly vegetarian. While vegetarianism is not an Islamic concept, a few Islamic scholars such as Egyptian scholar Gamal Al-Banna [23] and Indian scholar Zakir Naik [24] have stated that a Muslim may choose to be vegetarian. Scholars have given fatwa that vegetarian food may be eaten by Muslims even when prepared by non-Muslims since it does not involve haram foods.[25][26] Some Muslim animal rights advocates quote “There is not an animal on earth, nor a bird that flies on its wings – but they are communities like you.” (Qur’an, 6:38) to support their view.[27] According to Hadith of Sahi Bukhari, when the companions pf the Prophet asked, 'O Allah's Messenger! Is there a reward for us in serving the animals?' He replied: 'There is a reward for serving any living being.".[28]

See also


  1. Kumar Suresh Singh, Rajendra Behari Lal, Anthropological Survey of India, P. 9390, Gujarat)
  2. Maulana Hakim Saiyid Abdul Hai "Hindustan Islami Ahad Mein" (Hindustan under Islamic rule), Eng Trans by Maulana Abdul Hasan Nadwi
  3. PETERSEN, ANDREW. (2002). Dictionary of Islamic architecture. London:Routledge. ISBN 0-203-20387-9 p.241
  4. PETERSEN, ANDREW. (2002). Dictionary of Islamic architecture. London:Routledge. ISBN 0-203-20387-9 p.102
  5. Dundas 2002, p. 145
  6. 1 2 Glasenapp 1999, pp. 74–75
  7. Dundas 2002, p. 146
  8. Dundas 2002, p. 147
  9. Bhadreśvar: the oldest Islamic monuments in India. By Mehrdad Shokoohy, with contributions by Manijah Bayani-Wolpert and Natalie H. Shokoohy. (Studies in Islamic Art and Architecture. Supplements to Muqarnas, Vol. II.) Leiden, E. J. Brill, 1988, p. 7
  10. (Phyllis Granoff, Speaking of Monks (Oakville, Ont.: Mosaic Press, 1992)
  11. See John Cort and Phyllis Granoff's contributions in The Clever Adulteress : A Treasury of Jain Stories, (Oakville, Ont.: Mosaic Press, 1990.)
  12. दिल्ली पट्ट के मूलसंघीय भट्टारक प्रभाचन्द्र और पद्मनन्दि, Parmanand Jain, Agarchand Nahta Abhinandan Granth Part 2, 1977, p.191-197
  13. John E. Cort 1998, p. 86.
  14. 1 2 3 Vashi, Ashish (2009-11-23). "Ahmedabad turned Akbar veggie". The Times of India. Retrieved 2009-11-23.
  15. <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
  16. 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
  17. 1 2 M. S. Commissariat, ed. (1996) [1931]. Mandelslo's Travels in Western India (reprint, illustrated ed.). Asian Educational Services. pp. 101–102. ISBN 978-81-206-0714-9.
  18. Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency: Ahmedabad. Government Central Press. 1879. p. 285.
  19. Yashwant K. Malaiya. "Shatrunjaya-Palitana Tirtha". Retrieved 28 November 2011.
  20. Conversion of Jains to Islam in Kerala
  21. Blocker, Jack S; Fahey, David M; Tyrrell, Ian R (2003). Alcohol and Temperance in Modern History. p. 326. ISBN 9781576078334. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  22. Jain, Champat Rai (1975). The lifting of the veil.
  23. Vegetarian Muslim: Turning Away From a Meat-Based Diet, Anila Muhammad, Huffington Post, 04/23/2013
  24. Questions Commonly Asked by Non-Muslims - V : Eating non-Vegetarian Food, Zakir Naik, Vol 12-12 No:144, DECEMBER 1998
  25. Fatwa ID:1003, Types of Halal and Haram food, Dr. Hatem al-Haj, 2005-12-07
  26. [128632: Ruling on accepting food and sweets from a kaafir, Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid 2009-10-01]
  27. Eating less meat is more Islamic Joseph Mayton, The Guardian, 26 August 2010
  28. Allah values acts of kindness, Arab Times, 28 June 2016


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