Introduction by Frances W. Pritchett

        It's a pleasure to make this sturdy old veteran textbook publically available. I thank Ree DeDonato, Director of the Humanities and History Division at Butler Library, and my friends at the Columbia University Press, for making it possible.

        Muslim Civilization in India was edited by Ainslie T. Embree, my mentor and friend at Columbia University for many years. He created it out of the author's 712-page History of Muslim Civilization in India and Pakistan (Lahore: Institute of Islamic Culture, 1993 [1961), by removing most of the notes and many specialized passages, leaving a kind of bare-bones account. Prof. Ikram himself explains the extent of Prof. Embree's contribution in *his own preface*.

        Because the book is forty years old now, it does feel dated in some ways. Beyond the superficial ones (in 1964, there was an "East Pakistan" instead of a "Bangladesh), the main one that I notice is the frequent essentialization of "Hindu" and "Muslim," and the tendency to read back twentieth-century nationalism into centuries in which it really seems pretty irrelevant to people's thinking and behavior. I'll confine myself to just a few examples.

        When Muhammad bin Qasim fights Raja Dahar's troops in Sind in 712, the Sindhi troops are referred to as "the Hindu army" (p. 7), even though, as Ikram himself points out, southern Sind was "largely Buddhist" (p. 9), religious tensions played a major role in Dahar's defeat, and there's no evidence whatsoever that Dahar's army was organized along religious lines. Ikram quotes with apparent approval R. C. Majumdar's description of local Buddhists' hostility to Dahar as "treachery," and his characterization of the readiness of Dahar's chiefs and courtiers to change sides as "base betrayal" (p. 9)-- although in view of Dahar's behavior as Ikram describes it, an eagerness for regime change would hardly be surprising. Similarly, when speaking of the readiness of Jats and Meds to enlist with the newcomers, he quotes Elliot and Dowson, who describe this action as having a "moral effect in dividing national sympathies, and relaxing the unanimity of defense against foreign aggression" (p. 9).

        This kind of loaded vocabulary-- "treachery," "base betrayal," "dividing national sympathies," "unanimity of defense against foreign aggression"-- obviously raises tremendous problems. Is it necessarily "base" or "treacherous" to cease to obey someone who has conquered you by force and treats you badly? Can there be "national sympathies" where there's not only no "nation," but nobody has even invented the concept of a nation? Can there be a sense of "foreign aggression" when one doesn't have a sense of a "nation" that is being aggressed against, and when "foreigners" live all around, just beyond one's own local  area? All the evidence of South Asian history over time goes to show that, with very few and brief exceptions, the subcontinent was a place much more like Europe than like, say, France: it was full of mutually distrustful clans and groups and city-states, and when larger dynasties claimed regional control, their power was never more than swiss-cheesey, with lots of internal holes. Going right back to the Arthashastra, this is the vision of politics that we see: lots of small statelets, constantly jostling for power, always ready to attack each other or fend off an attack. Borders shifted back and forth over time, loyalties changed readily according to local and individual political advantage. What else would we expect? The same things were happening in Europe and so many other places. It doesn't make sense to castigate people for not feeling what we decide, with hindsight, that they should have felt.

        Another conspicuous example occurs at the beginning of Chapter 3. Ikram tells us that after Mahmud Ghaznavi's death "Hindu India enjoyed a respite from foreign invasion for a century and a half." (He thus assumes that there was some single entity called "Hindu India" at the time, and that it had a shared notion of "foreignness.") He goes on: "This did not lead, however, to national consolidation, and a number of principalities grew up in different parts of the subcontinent." He seems to consider that "national consolidation" (in the twelfth century!) would have been expected in such a situation. It's also misleading to say that regional kingdoms "grew up," as though this were some new development instead of completely business-as-usual in South Asia. He seems surprised at this continued localization of concern, and seeks to explain it: "Perhaps the relative freedom from Muslim raids during the first part of the twelfth century made them forget their perilous position" (p. 37). Of course, most South Asian rulers were demonstrably (and quite sensibly) much more concerned to avert a "perilous position" vis-a-vis their immediate neighbors of whatever religious persuasion, than to fend off abstract ideological dangers.

        Ikram basically knows this, but his mental vocabulary of "Hindu" and "Muslim" tends at times to oversimplify his historical thinking-- as does his temporal position, writing as he was in the decades immediately after Partition. He makes it quite clear that he admires the tolerant pluralists on both sides; but still, for him the sides are mostly pretty fixed. (For some examples of how modern historians and social critics have gone beyond his categories, see Romila Thapar, *"Somanatha and Mahmud"*; or Sanjay Subramaniam, *"Golden Age Hallucinations"*; or Pankaj Mishra,*"The Invention of the Hindu"*, to name only a few.) I could also offer a number of cases in which newer research has discredited some of his discussion of "Hindi" and "Urdu," including the polarization of good Delhi versus bad Lucknow so carefully created in Chapter 20. (Fortunately, nowadays *much better materials* are available.)

        Even so, this textbook is very helpful as an example of some of the solid and influential work of his generation of historians, and as a basic overview for people coming to the field afresh and wanting some background. In the present online version, typos have been corrected; punctuation has also been adjusted in some cases for better readability. Diacritics, which originally appeared only in the Glossary, have been omitted. The original text, while it made gallant efforts to be consistent in transliteration, didn't entirely succeed: we find both "Abdul Samad Khan" and "Abdus Samad"; both "wazir" with a "w" and "vakil" with a "v"; both "tauba" and "tawbar." The use of italics for Indian words is also idiosyncratic in the extreme: sometimes italics appear, most often they don't, and I couldn't figure out any real logic. So I basically haven't tried to straighten all this out, nor have I sought to import source footnotes from the original, longer work, even where some appeared to be needed. This was always a work for students and intelligent general readers, not for specialists, and such it remains. It provides a good solid going-over in outline form of the main times, places, and people, and offers a jumping-off point for further study.

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