The Statement of Problem
Long ago, Middle East inhabitants had relation with the sub continent of India inhabitants through the ports and islands of Persian Gulf and through the land ways. This comes from the economical needs and necessities and also originated from historical and cultural commonality. Meanwhile, many of the Iran and other Islamic territories accommodated there for ever.
As the geographical borders of the subcontinent were closed or mostly very difficult to pass at north and northwest, the relations of the subcontinent inhabitants with Iran and Mesopotamia was of great importance. Although long and sea ways both had great importance and joined India with the civilized world of that time, but because the security of land ways was less and smugglers made many offends, and from another side, the power of sea navigation to transfer passengers and goods was better and sea ways were safer and more secure, the relation of subcontinent inhabitants with the borders and islands, of Persian Golf which was center of that time world trade had great importance. In fact the cultural, intellectual and economical relations of subcontinent with the Iranian and Mesopotamia cultural and commercial centers took place through the Persian Gulf. The study and analyzed of the relations and its cultural, political and sociological evaluation is the fundamental problem in this article that help us to find answer to the following questions:
1- commercial relations between banks and islands of Persian Gulf and Mesopotamia with the subcontinent of India has been done through which ways?
2- What kind of goods was exchanged between subcontinent inhabitants and Middle East inhabitants?
3- What were the cultural and political consequences of these relations?
The Background of India & Middle East Economical relations
The commercial relations between India and Middle East are dated to long ago. The king Suleiman, prepared gold, silver, tusk, monkey, peacock and so on from India.
Ptolemy’s, hold up some ports at the seaside of Red sea to use and buy more goods from India. Seleucids also set up some ports in Persian Golf for the same reason. Grecians also prepared rice, ginger, cinnamon and etc from the banks of Malabar. Rummies and Iranians also had commercial relations with India and for this reason they set up some ports at the banks of Persian Gulf. Among those ports we can name “Obollah” port around which Indian navigators during the fourth & fifth century made their businesses.
Be fore Islam, having relations with India was of such a great significance that there was a severe competition between Iran and Rome on it.
Iran & Rome partly could have released the markets of Indian ocean and east of Mediterranean from Arab domination .At 525A.D Ethiopia – under the intrigue of Rome invaded Yemen which was located at the mouth of Red sea . Romans aim from doing this was to achieve Asian markets and directly accessed the Indian ocean. Meanwhile Iran which had a complete domination on Persian Gulf and had setup some ports at the banks of it up to Mokran at 616 A.D invaded Egypt and Syria and tried to develop its goals and economical interests. At 626A.D .Egypt was occupied by the Romans and this was a fatal shock to Iran. Therefore Iranian and Romans political – military conflict accompanied with economical and commercial severe competitions. This result in weakness of both Iran and Rome and made Arabs to enjoy such a situation. Arabs also enjoyed many geographical advantages, because Bahrain, Oman, Hazar –al– mout, Yemen and Hijaz were located at the bank of Red sea and Persian Gulf, and naturally, sea trading was necessarily one of their priorities. In addition, Arabs had a suitable situation to transfer goods to other parts of the world such as Europe. The ships passed through the banks of India and reached to the Yemen ports, there their goods conveyed by camels and through the Mediterranean sea transmitted to Europe.
The most important land and sea commercial roads were as the follow:
1) first, the merchants from Syria and Egypt through the land roads at the east banks of Red sea came to Yemen. From there they got on ship and then some of them went to Africa and some others went to Hazar –al–Mout, Oman, Bahrain and Iraq and again from there they went to the banks of Iran in Persian Gulf. The merchants went through Iran to Teyz port and Mokran or Dayboy port at Sind or to farther regions up to Kambayat and Kathyawar. There through the sea, they went to Kalikot or Cape Comorin and from there went to Coromandal, after staying in several ports in Bengal Gulf, they reached to Burma, Malaya and China and on the way back they covered the same route. One of the problems of this way was that the merchants should have passed through the territory of Mids and other smuggler tribes in Sind. Pirates also had a great authority in this region and the scope of their influence was expanded to Tigris. For this reason the commercial ship had to bring sailors who were master enough to confront with them and defend them against these smugglers. How ever traveling to Sind, had, many problems and pains in itself.
2) the second way was shorter and safer, the ,merchants directly could go through the Indian sea by means of ports and islands at Persian Gulf and went to Kolem Meli in Malabar. Most of the commercial ships, specially those which went to China, chose this way. From Kolem Meli on, this way and the first one became the same road. After the banks of Malabar, the ships had a short stop to exchange and bargain with the inhabitants of islands such as Maldives & Sarandib land then went on. Meanwhile some of the ships went to Java and Sumatra after Malabar, but the final destination of most of these ships was the Kenton port in China. The distance of most of these roads are mentioned in geographical books. But many of the names and places can’t be matched with the modern places and names of the regions and cities today. And so, it is impossible to exactly locate them.
3) Other ways, such as the land roads between Iran and India & China were existed, of course the road between Iran and China was the well-known road by the name of Silk Road which was of great importance. Some of the merchants and traders used a secondary way from Silk Road and through the central Asia or Kabul and Ghazney went to the west-north of India and Sind. Many of the Muslim merchants were inhabited in this region, and many of them went from Moltan to Khorasan.
The Necessity of Economical Relations of India with Middle East
Because India had various goods and productions, it was very important and noticeable for traders and merchants of that time. From India, any goods such as ………, which was of great significance in ship making, cotton and Silk materials, spicy, purple, medicine and etc. especially through Kondor and Braoch, were imported to the middle east regions and in return some goods such as Iranian rose water, Arabian horse, date, clothes, sworn, and etc. were exported to India and other eastern parts of Asia.
In regarding the importance of the economical benefits of relations with India and china and Arabs especially Muslims role in transmitting goods to Europe, the security of the trading and commercial roads had a great importance. When Muslims conquered Sind, only from this region-which didn’t have significant commercial importance in comparison with other parts of subcontinent of India at least one million Drachma was sent to caliphate office yearly.
The security of trade and commercial roads was very important for Muslims. Perhaps the attack of Muslims to Sind can be called an economical necessity or at least it was a cause to start an economical war. Seyd Suleiman Nadvi who has religious viewpoint in historical analysis-believes that the first expeditions of Muslims to Thana, Broch and Deybol is because of economical necessities.
It can be said that, Hajaj Ibn Yousef Althaghafi’s insistent to attack Sind and his attempt to convince Omavid caliph came from his economical tendency.
From late before Iranian gained a lot of information about the tribes, customs, geographical characteristic and economical situations of India and China. many of the Iranian sailors and travelers after coming back from India and China talked about their customs, believes and animals and ever wrote books about countries among them are the Abuzaid Hasn Sirafi, Bozorg Ibn Sharyar and merchant Suleiman travel account.
Muslim Travels Settlements At Ports And Islands Of India And Their Role In Cultural Exchanges
After the developing of commercial relations between Middle East and subcontinent of India some centers and ports were established at the island of India and Middle East in order to accommodate traders and to halt the ships. There was an important port with the name of Obollah near Basra through which merchants could trade with India and Indian traders were a lot there. Ships from India and China came to this port and cast anchor. Muslim considered India and its island and banks at the lands full of jewelry and different kinds of antique medicine and goods.
Another port with the name of Siraf at Persian Gulf had also an important role in commercial relations between India and Middle East. The commercial ships came and went to India and China through this port. Hormoz port had also a significant place in trading with India and other parts of world at that time. From this port ships went to Serandib, Gujarat and other parts of India.
In Romhormozei’s “Ajaeb-ol-Hend” ( estranges of India ) spoke about a tradesman with the name of Muhammad Ibn Muslim Sirafi who was inhabited more than twenty years in Thana port and traveled to most of the cities in India. This person spoke about the commercial relations between ports such as Seymour, Teyz and Sedan and other commercial centers of India with Siraf and mentioned the name of some of the merchants and ships and described their problems.
The ships of this route was very great. Nadvi in one of his articles mentioned that the ships which went to China had six hundred crew, four hundred shooters and thousands of passenger and more than this in each ship, there were some extra and urgent boats.
There were some ports in India in where Muslims were lived. Some of these Muslims became permanent residents and even they made some influential minorities. In many of India ports Muslims had governor for themselves who administered their affairs. The name of this governor was Honarman who was the representative of India governor of the region but this local governor gave a kind of internal independency to the Muslims and guarantied their rights especially the traders. Honarman also was called judge. Muslims possessed mosque in many of the Indian ports and they were free in doing their religious affairs and even their commercial affairs. The settlement of Muslim trade in Indian ports caused a kind of situation in which the Islamic customs and India ceremonies were mixed together.
Among the most important cities and Indian ports which was the place of most of the Muslims accommodation specially traders and merchants were, Teyz in Mokran, Deybol and Asifan (Asivan) in Sind, than, Kambayat, Saubarah, Seymur, Sandan, Gandhara, Gawi, Beyram, Gogah, Chandapur, Braoch, Baharabahat, in Gujarat.
At 304 (A.H), Masoudi visited Cheymur port and said there were more than ten thousand Muslims who lived in this city which were under the dominations of Ballhara government. Some of the Muslims were born in this city and some others came from Siraf, Baghdad, Basra, Oman and banks of Persian Gulf, and inhabited there forever. Those Muslim who were born in Seymur, were called Beysar. Among the famous traders were, Abu-saeed-Ibn.Zakaria and Musa-Ibn-Ishaq were who lived in this city and were admired by the Raja of this region. In Ramhormozi’s book (Ajaeb-Ol-Hend) he mentioned a person by the name of Abbas-Ibn-Mahan who was the leader (Honarman) of this region.
Another port of Gujarat, where many of the Muslims were inhabited there was, Sandan . In this city Muslims were independent and had three Muslim governors For themselves. All these three governors were of Mahan ancestors .Sandan today is located near Momby and has no commercial significance but its shoes were very famous as Naalain –E – Kombanie among Arabs The last port of Gujarat at the south was called Thana. Although most of the inhabited of this city were Hindu but many of the Muslins also inhabited in this port and they had possessed enough rights and liberties.
Because of fair and a intimate treatment of Raja Ballhara, the number of Muslims in port and cities of this region were a lot. This kind of admirable behavior by Ballhara is mentioned by many of the travelers and researchers as Suleiman Tajer and Abu Hasan Sirafi who Said, no king like him loved Muslims.
Mohammed Ghamaroddin, one of the Indian researchers, believed that most of the Muslims migrated to the west and southwest banks of India and inhabited in cities such as kankan and Tiniuelly near Momby. At the same time many of them went to the banks of Malabar and made the largest colony of the Muslims.
Tarachand speaks about a tomb stone at south bank of India on which is written down: “ Ali Ibn Osman passed away forever at 166 (A.H)”. He considers this inscription as the best evidence of Muslims presence in this region.
Some of the most important Muslims places of residence at Malabar were Abisarur, Paknur, Mangalore, Hilli , Jarpatan, Dahpatan, Dudhpatan, Pindariy, Kalikot, Kolem , Chalyat , Maldives, Saran dib, Gali, Koromandal, Vijayya naggar, In most of this cities there was one or more mosque which was built by Raja who became Muslim later. Traders and merchants preached Islam in this area.
Arnold said that it was impossible for Muslim traders to live in non Muslim cities and don’t preach Islam. In some areas that Muslim traders could not enter, they could be able to play their role by the use of Indian traders or natives. As all the central and north roads of India passed through Gujarat this made it as a natural oases for the subcontinent. As Muslims were inhabited in these regions they saw Indian traders and passengers and more or less Islam and Muslims news was broadcasted throughout India. Muslims were free not only in doing their ceremonies but in building their mosques and this helped them to preach Islam easier.
Ansari believed that traders along with their goods brought Islam to this new land and through marriage with the natives, became familiar with their language and culture and influenced them by the use of their religious insight and translated Quran for them.
Majumdar – an Indian researcher – estimates the number of Indians who yearly became Muslim about 50 thousand. But Mojeeb – a famous Indian researcher – looks at this matter differently.
He believe, that Islam brought to India not only by the traders from Iran, Afghanistan, central Asia and Arab lands but Arab tribes who came to India after conquering some areas of India by the Muslims along with their families also had played a great role in bringing Islam to India.
Muslims traders could convince the governor of Asifan at the North of Sind to accept Islam. It should be mentioned that the scope in which Muslim traders could preach was limited to the places and land which were located on their trading road, but at the same time it was a large scope from Malabar at the south to Kashmir at the north part of subcontinent of India.
Middle East is one of the most important and oldest regions in the view point of mankind inhabitant. Iran, Egypt Phoenicia and Mesopotamia civilizations have been made in this region. From the early times up to now, Middle East has been the center of international trading and has been among the most important places that has attracted the attention of great powers. Islam also arouse in this region and Muslims, very soon, gained the domination over all the islands of this region and Muslim traders from its ports and islands began to exchange goods with the other ports of the world and also had cultural and intellectual exchanges with other countries such as subcontinent of India, Malaysia, Indonesia, China and other islands and banks of Indian Ocean through Muslim merchants. This made the commercial trading to become glorious and developed the exchanges of goods, cultural and art, between subcontinent of India, south of Asia and several parts of Middle East.
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