The spread of Islam in India has been a contentious site of history-writing and politico-ideological polemics. Explanations offered by historians range from the coercive role and political patronage of state to the influence of Sufism and the appeal of egalitarianism in Islam. However, simplistic and sweeping explanations in the public discourse highlight mass conversions driven by inherent proselytizing zeal of Islam and effected by physical force, threats or material inducements. In the backdrop of this fraught debate on the spread of Islam, the essay discusses the process of Islamization in medieval Mewat, its linkages to political and socio-economic developments, and the formation and articulation of Meo Islamic identity. It demonstrates that the process was gradual and phased, that it involved far more acculturation than formal conversion, that the agents of this process were both the ruling elite and common people, and that the religio-cultural identity thus created was far from being fixed and monolithic. Further, several factors generally cited for the spread of Islam such as coercion, political patronage and liberal, egalitarian spirit of Islam do not seem to have played a major role in this region.
Cite this article:
Suraj Bhan Bhardwaj. The Advent of Islam and the Making of Muslim Identity in Mewat, 13th to 19th Century. Int. J. Rev. and Res. Social Sci. 2019; 7(2):341-352. doi: 10.5958/2454-2687.2019.00025.X