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in category Mughals

Did the Mughals force Hindus to convert via force?

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The historian Richard Eaton answers this question well.

There is no evidence that significant numbers of Hindus were forcibly converted to Islam. There are scattered references to forced conversion. But for the most part, the Mughals were scrupulously political in outlook. They focused on stability, loyalty and revenue, not on 'religious change' or missionaryism among their subjects. On one occasion, the Mughal governor of Bengal actually demoted a high-ranking officer for having converted his personal servant to Islam.

Why has the trope of forced conversion then found such a secure hold in popular perceptions of Indian history?

The answer probably lies in how the British justified their occupation of India.

They did this, in part, by contrasting their claims to ruling with justice, virtue and integrity with the alleged tyranny and violence of the Indo-Muslim states they had replaced.

The notion that Muslim rulers had forcibly converted Indians served the colonial need to portray Muslim rule as violent, tyrannical, and hence illegitimate and deserving of removal. The trope of forced conversions has persisted into the present mainly because of the pervasive Islamophobia of our own times.

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