The civilizational role of Islam in the Indian subcontinent: The Delhi sultanate


  • Arshad Islam


Muslim presence was manifest in the coastal regions of Southern
India from the earliest days of Islam, as evidenced by the establishment of
Arab trading settlements, with minor political impact prior to the conquests
in Northern India from the beginning of the 8th century, which solidified the
influence of Islam leading to tangible political and socio-cultural impacts in the
region. The history of India furnishes an amazing picture of the syntheses of
many divergent cultural trends which were gradually transformed by a process
of mutual adjustment and assimilation. Islam played a significant role in this
by contributing to India’s multi-cultural and multi-religious ethos, embedding
the subcontinent in the Arab-Islamic maritime civilization, stretching from
southern Africa to China, particularly in connecting Africa as well as the great
Turkic empires of Central Asia. It offers a pertinent example of the interaction
of human minds and the effects of cultural and civilizational contacts on
indigenous customs, religion, literature and arts. This paper examines the
impact of Islam in the Indian Peninsula from three different angles: its political
predominance, its intellectual and cultural impact, and finally, its influence on
art and architecture. Based mainly on Arabic and Persian sources, the article
focuses on the intellectual legacy, achievements and the role that the Indian
Muslims played in the Indian subcontinent during the Delhi Sultanate, the first
major Islamic political authority to govern large parts of South Asia.


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How to Cite

Islam, A. (2017). The civilizational role of Islam in the Indian subcontinent: The Delhi sultanate. Intellectual Discourse, 25(1). Retrieved from