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Rise of Islam

This Lecture Series is presented by Dr. Amita Paliwal, Assistant Professor, Jesus and Mary College, at University of Delhi. Read more about her research here.


Part 1: Origins of Islam

About the lecture

During the 6th and 7th centuries C.E., west Asia was marked by a combination of settled cultures and communities of people mostly tribal in nature who were either agro-pastoralists or traders and merchants. Emerging from the Hashim clan of the Quraysh tribe, Abul Qasim Muhammad b. Abdullah rose in stature as gradually as the messiah, who had heard the message of a monotheistic God and know had the responsibility to disseminate it.

In this segment, Dr. Amita Paliwal not only goes over the history of the origins of Islam in Western Asia during this time period, but also delves deeper into historiographical enquiries surrounding the various theories that are intertwined with the rise of the religion. 


Part 2: Spread of Islam after the Death of Prophet Muhammad

About the lecture

In this segment, Dr. Paliwal takes the discussion further and talks about the fissures in the religious and political spheres of Islam after the death of the Prophet. The immediate aftermath of the death of the Prophet saw the rise of the Caliphate and its eventual proliferation under the Abbasids and Umayyads. It was during this period that the religion itself was also bifurcated into two separate sects, and remains so to this day.

Dr. Paliwal explains the causations behind this bifurcation, and ends the lecture with a discussion on the emergence of Sultanates under the Turks as a watershed movement in the history of Islam, which led to what has been a largely discussed part of Islamic history–the crusades in the West. 


Part 3: Islam in India

About the lecture

In this segment, Dr. Paliwal talks about the early incursions of Islam in India through the Turks, who, as mentioned earlier rose to the center of Islamic political authority during the 9th and 10th centuries C.E. In the later centuries, these people moved further west into Sindh and conquered those areas before finally setting up political authority in Delhi and founding the Delhi Sultanate, which ruled India from the 12th to the 16th centuries, before the establishment of the Mughal empire.

In this lecture, Dr. Paliwal seeks to explain the cultural, social, and political ideals that were introduced into India during this period by these communities, while also pointing at the novel forms of art and architecture that to this day becomes the identity of the city of Delhi. 


Part 4: Akbar and the Mughals

About the lecture

After the gradual demise of the Sultanate it was Babur, who in 1526 C.E. established what later became infamous as the magnificent Mughal empire in India which continued to rule till the mid-19th century, till the time the British took control over the political authority in India. 

In this segment, Dr. Paliwal focuses on the initial rulers in the Mughal dynasty and talks in detail about the syncretism and tolerance of Akbar, one of the most farsighted, competent, and powerful rulers of India. Under his rule the Mughal empire flourished in all manners, and art, literature, and architecture also developed and reached new heights.

In this segment, Dr. Paliwal also talks about the innovative political and administrative methods introduced by the Mughals under Akbar, which continued unabated for centuries after him. 


Part 5

About the lecture

In the last video, Dr. Paliwal continues to talk about history of the Mughal rulers in India, and juxtaposes the perception of Islam that was nurtured by more secular rulers like Akbar, and those on the opposite side of the spectrum like Aurangzeb. It is interesting to note that although Muslim rulers were the heads of state, the Mughal empire did not have an official religion for a long period of time, and especially under Akbar the empire enjoyed freedom of expression towards religion as never seen before. Thus, it becomes interesting to note how successive Muslim rulers of the Mughal empire confronted the plurality of the subjects they ruled upon, and how their own faith played a big part in their actions as emperors. 

Dr. Paliwal continues her lecture on the politics of Aurangzeb, the last great ruler of the Mughal empire who often has been misrepresented through various modern notions of being a ‘sectarian’ ruler and a bigot. After him, however, the collapse of the Mughal empire began and new principalities emerged, which was then finally taken over and consolidated by the British under its own flag in the 19th century.