Perhaps India is not special in resisting Islamicization

I have posted my thoughts as to why India, unlike Iran or Central Asia, resisted total Islamicization, before. It seems to be a phenomenon that demands an explanation.

And yet does it?

As I read F. W. Motte’s Imperial China 900-1800 I am struck by Han civilization’s resilience and absorptive capacity. What does that remind us of?

With some hindsight, perhaps I was asking the question because I constrained my dataset to West and South Asian societies, where India, in particular, seemed exceptional. But if you add China to the mix, then India’s robustness seems less incredible.

Timur died en route to China because he was keen on invading it. Many Muslims believe that Timur’s death prevented the Islamicization of the Han. After reading Imperial China I believe that this is false. Even if Timur conquered China, the Chinese would be resistant to Islam, and likely throw off the conqueror’s successors in short order.

Those conquest dynasties, such as the Manchus, who were successful in China underwent total assimilation. Those, such as the Mongols, who ultimately refused to kowtow to the verities of the Chinese, were expelled.

Taking this comparative perspective it is less surprising that so many South Asians became Muslim. Indians, “Hindus”, were ethnoculturally diverse and distinctive from each other in a way that Han Chinese never were. Muslim conversion of some elites and the targeting of oppressed castes was possible because Indian society was fractured in a way that the Han never were.

Of course, the Persians become Muslim in toto. But the Persians never had an identity to match the Han.

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121 Replies to “Perhaps India is not special in resisting Islamicization”

  1. Chinese have a strongly held Confucian notions like filial piety , social harmony , etc. So basically they viscerally resist any system which places giving priority to Submission to God over Confucian ethics . On top of , they like their pork and won’t allow any religious mumbo jumbo to divest them of their fav dish. Even catholic church has to play second fiddle to communist party. In India , live cow is a mental block to islamization and in China pigs on the plate are.

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    1. . So basically they viscerally resist any system which places giving priority to Submission to God over Confucian ethics .

      you may know of a religion called buddhism which is quite popular in china that alienates individuals from the family.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Han_Yu#Thoughts_and_beliefs

      i think the food point is important. i am broadly in line with that though (it’s almost marxist, pigs are well suited as protein production in china). but they could be replaced with chickens. and cultures evolve. the persians were pro-dog. after islam, not so much.

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      1. Buddhism co-existed with Confucianism, it never seeked to overthrow it. In fact Daoism, Confucianism and Buddhism generally tolerated each other. Their relative importance keeps changing and they don’t seem to mind. It also proved malleable for Chinese mentality. While Buddhism in India was associated with passiveness, in China it developed martial arts.

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        1. why are you telling me this? i likely forget more about chinese history in a day than you know.

          the idea of toleration is oversold, though there is something there. it took a thousand years for a very stable equilibrium to evolve. the tang dynasty witness massive defrocking attacks on buddhism because it started to swallow the state. confucian attacks on buddhism declined when it was no longer an institutional threat after the middle tang.

          daoists and buddhists got into major issues during the yuan.

          anyway, don’t tell me things i know from wikipedia entries. it’s more complicated though obviously chinese are syncretistic.

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  2. In the West, resistance to Islamization will come from woman’s rights and booze. Uber feminist’s tactical support for Islamists notwithstanding , Islam stands against everything the west has fought for and fighting for .

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    1. The old West anyway.
      The postmodernists who now hold sway over the Western clerisy however, think the world is solely comprised of competing power hierarchies, their values and beliefs are equal, knowledge and truth are social constructs. Because of this they can embrace both radical Feminism and Salafism concurrently.
      Islam is still resisted by the West’s hoi polloi for the very reasons you described, but because postmodern thinking rules the schools and universities, mass conversion will be easy-peasy in another twenty years.
      The West as we think of it is dead.

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    2. i am not worried about conversion to islam being an issue in the west. the numbers are trivial (though muslims and non-muslims find them salient, in part because many converts are literally crazy).

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      1. In the west , only sizable indigenous population of converts to Islam is US Blacks – not even rest of the american continent or European blacks. Curiously , the route to orthodox Islam was through Nation of Islam , which is more akin to Ahmedis , in fact NoI drew inspiration from Ahmedis. We have to wait and see for another generation to see if the conversion to Islam from US blacks will be a mass movement. Till the 1960s/70s , Islam was thought of as an underdog religion in the US and hence people like Malcolm-X or Mohammed Ali became culture heroes . Recently Islam has blown that image (and advantages ) of underdog religion .

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        1. In the west , only sizable indigenous population of converts to Islam is US Blacks – not even rest of the american continent or European blacks

          the erosion rate among black muslims is high from what black muslims tell me.

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          1. Razib, I find black American muslims to be liberal muslims most of the time. I like liberal muslims 😉

            I was moved by Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s very fine foward to Ali A Rizvi’s book:
            The Atheist Muslim: A Journey From Religion to Reason

            Kareem Abdul Jabbar is one of the most respected and popular muslims on the planet; and he gave Ali Rizvi instant credibility around the world. Kareem made it much harder for post modernists or Islamists to slander Ali Rizvi as an “Islamaphobe”. May Allah bless Kareem!

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  3. The parts of India that are closest to the Islamic world pretty much got Islamized, right? That’s why we have Pakistan. Perhaps the “spreaders of Islam” just ran out of steam, just as they did in the former Byzantine empire (where, like India, you get a cline of Islamization, with some exceptional pockets, like East Bengal and Bosnia.)

    What I’m saying is: can’t the degree of Islamization be explained simply as a function of geographical distance from the Arabian epicentre? Does it need an additional cultural explanation?

    One could present Muslim SE Asian countries as counter-examples, but Islam spread there through trade with Arabs, right? And not by land-based invaders?

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    1. Geography and ease of access don’t explain why a society puts up a fight for what it thinks worth fighting for.

      Actually south India was on easy sea routes from Arabia ; except a foothold in Kerala , Islam had no attraction for SI. Even the Kerala Muslims fitted into Kerala society without much dis-ease.

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    2. Yes, I think the Indian case is separate from the Chinese.

      India’s deep social stratification (so deep that different strata have identifiable genetic signatures cf Razib, Reich et al) also saved it from the Islamization zeitgeist. E.g. a brahmin would resist conversion if the local king asked people to, more because the king is not of the right caste to make that decision for him rather than the merits/demerits of Islam.

      The 2nd Rajatarangini written by Jonaraja in the early period of Islamization of Kashmir bemoans of dAmaras (feudals of Kashmir) losing their caste under mausUlaH influence and having the cheek to tell Brahmins what to do.

      Besides mainland Rajputs, Marathas, Jatts and other Hindu feudals held on to their principalities via negotiation and taxation and mansabdari arrangements (largely a brainchild of Akbar to keep his own kingdom stable-ish). And before long the Sikh, Maratha, Gorkha and Axom Empires divvied up Moghal territory from the North/West, South/West and North/East.

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      1. Kashmir sounds like a bad example to take up to argue that caste saved Hinduism, because it actually got Islamized, i.e., caste hardly helped. Perhaps Kashmiri pandits retaining their religion is very analogous to the Zorastrian priestly class alone not converting out in Iran?

        Numinous’ explanation sounds the only reasonable one to me (not that that is “sufficient” for understanding, but everything else like caste saving Hinduism sounds rather speculative.) India’s share of the world population then was much larger back then, and if you conquered one kingdom, there was one next to fight. Ghazni was one of the most powerful fellows of his time, but he kept encountering obstacles with every further advance into India, and Vidyadhara managed to fend him off. Khilji reached down south, but Vijayanagara came up and reconquered the Madurai sultanate and kept militarily engaging the Bahmanis/Deccan sultanates.

        BTW Razib, didn’t India also assimilate a lot of pre-Islamic groups who had attacked? India kept being attacked throughout its history by people with different faiths, the main difference with Muslim invaders was that they adhered to a form of religion which was too “set-in-stone” to follow the “exchange of Gods” pattern that was the norm with pagan religions.

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        1. Kashmir didn’t have much caste I have been told. Rather the Hindus were overwhelmingly “Brahmins”. Maybe this was the problem since the lovable sweet Brahmins didn’t have Kshatriyas to defend them. Maybe the Kashmiri Pandits should have invited some nice Sikhs to move to Kashmir and defend them?

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          1. Let me quote from an article I once read, without any endorsement.

            (Trigger alert: very anti-Muslim and also Brahmin-supremacist blog of a kind which is exceedingly rare even among Hindutva-vadis; I repeat that I am just posting it without comments, I don’t know enough to have any idea of how true it is. Moderators – I understand if you want to delete this, take your call).

            The quote, from here, is: “In this regard there is a tragic lesson to be learned from the fate of Kashmir – to some it might sound like blaming the victims. Some of our own coethnics, who have faced a milder version of the same at the hands of dramiDa-s perverted by western ideologies, might find such suggestions callous. Nevertheless, it is important for Hindus to squarely face our failures if we do not want to repeat them, especially since we are almost poised to repeat them: There was an aspect of leadership failure among the Kashmirian brAhmaNa-s, despite their extraordinary intellectual accomplishments. As indicated by manu and chANakya thereafter, in addition to their intellectual activities, it is incumbent on brAhmaNa-s, as the natural leaders of Hindu society, to instigate and organize the defense of Arya lands against AtatAyin-s. Right from the 1000s of the CE, when the kShatriya-s of Kashmir kept out the turuShka-s in fierce battles, the nature of the marUnmatta-s was well-known to the brAhmaNa-s. Indeed kShemendra gives a correct description of the ravaging of the earth in the kali age by the mlechCha-s and turuShka-s. In the manthAna-bhairava tantra the coming of the rAvaNa-like Arabs to the western reaches of bhArata was described and not unknown in scholarly Kashmirian circles. Yet, they failed to organize an effective defense of the land when the turuShka-s did finally come upon them. We find that the brAhmaNa-s did react, but it was via Gandhian tactics of non-violent protests and mass fasts – such might have worked with the Hindu rAjA-s but had no effect on the beards. They also failed to take steps to counter the da’i activity of the Sufi subversionists. Ironically, during the reign of Zain-al-abidin, we see that the Kashmirian engineers were building “thunder weapons of mass destruction” for the turuShka-s. In his history shrIvara states that: “the engineers showed the sultan (Zain-al-abidin) thunder weapons which make men tremble with the deep sound they make. “

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    3. (where, like India, you get a cline of Islamization, with some exceptional pockets, like East Bengal and Bosnia.)

      this is an enormous exception. east bengal had more muslims than pakistan until recently (pak = higher fertility).

      What I’m saying is: can’t the degree of Islamization be explained simply as a function of geographical distance from the Arabian epicentre? Does it need an additional cultural explanation?

      turan (transoxiana) converted faster than iran. this is well known. north africa converted faster than the levant and perhaps mesopatamia. 10% of egyptians are xtian. 0% of north africans (maghreb) are. so other variables are at play.

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      1. Also, Indonesia and Malysia while skipping south India (to an extent), Burma and Thailand.

        Yes, a (1- r^2/R^2) model does not work.

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      2. Thanks, these are great points. I stand corrected. But can some of these be explained in terms of comprehensiveness of military victories? (I see even that won’t suffice for Egypt vs Maghreb).

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          1. I am asking you! For instance, can Iran’s being slower than Transoxiana have something to do with resistance from Zorastrian warlords (you commented on them in the hydra post I think)?

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  4. “Of course, the Persians become Muslim in toto. But the Persians never had an identity to match the Han.”

    Don’t agree. The land of the Arya (Iran) had a great culture, philosophy and identity. It had ruled much of the world for a long time. And many, perhaps close to half of her people were Sanathana Dharma (especially in Turan, East Iran, Pakistan . . . especially Buddhist blended Sanathan Dharma). Most of the rest were Zorastrian. Religious openness and pluralism and freedom were baked in. Perhaps this is why they didn’t understand the concept of exclusionary converting faith and were unable to hold back. By the time the Islamists went further East, there was more of an understanding of what Islam was and more sophisticated realistic resistance to it.

    Jati and Varna were far more fluid in 600 AD than what they became later. Part of the calcification of Varna that happened later was to resist conversion to Islam.

    Islam greatly moderated over time. Much of Iran converted to Islam during the reign of terror and genocide of Muawiyah I –who slaughtered millions of muslims and nonmuslims alike. However in time Islam was transformed by the people they conquered . . . the beautiful Sufi stream might partly be seen as the Arya-ization and softening of Islam. But Sufism didn’t strengthen in time to save the land of the Arya (Iran).

    Muawiyah I was the equivalent of Al Qaeda or Daesh today. The muslim mainstream later rejected this extremism. Timur would not have attempted anything like what Muawiyah I or Yazid or Abd al Malik ibn Marwan attempted. Timur was far more reasonable.

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    1. Muawiyah I was the equivalent of Al Qaeda or Daesh today. The muslim mainstream later rejected this extremism. Timur would not have attempted anything like what Muawiyah I or Yazid or Abd al Malik ibn Marwan attempted. Timur was far more reasonable.

      have you been reading shia propaganda? 😉

      the majority of iranians were not msulim until the 900s last i checked in literature (going by surnames/names). the major wave of conversion was abassid, NOT umayyad.

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    2. Do not get the Muawiyah hatred. Yazid and Muawiyah did more to create islam than anyone, more than Umar and Uthman. The present form of Islam (even Shiism as a negative figure) owes more to Yazid and Muawiyah mote than the rightly ordained caliphs. While the use of elected/selected caliphs was a noble idea, the time was not appropriate; moving into an imperialist mode, and freezing the religion into a V2.0, was greatly important in creating the religion.

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      1. Vijay Muawiyah, Yazid and Marwan distorted and changed Islam . . . many muslims would say.

        I would rather that the Ali version of Islam prevailed. It would have been far better for muslims and nonmuslims alike. Much of the population of the world likely wouldn’t have been converted into slaves.

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        1. yes. both the shia and sunni dislike muawiyah for different reasons. shia the whole alid business. the sunni, he was too much a king and not a religious figure. they sometimes call the umayyads the ‘arab kingdom.’

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  5. In India , historically a common political consciousness has been a weak point – except recently . Also a common political centre. That prevented top-down islamization. So, the principle of ‘Cuius regio, eius religio’ could not be applied India wide and even locally.

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  6. Far more consequential for world history in the long run in my opinion was how British colonization of India prevented a similar enterprise in China.

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  7. “But the Persians never had an identity to match the Han.”

    Why do I have the feeling that this little Easter Egg was left for me 😀

    In literature we have the Shahnameh, in poetry we have Hafiz, Rumi, Sa’adi, in religion we have the Baha’i Faith, in architecture we have the Taj, Perspolis, in Empire we have Cyrus, Sassanids, Safavid in beauty we have Mumtaz Mahal, in music we have Ghazals/Qawalli.

    Iran and Turan 4ever yo! Boo to Aneran 🙂

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    1. i know plenty about persia.

      most of you don’t know much about china. to some extent including you. no need to name things i know about. you can’t name what you don’t know about. and the fact is that the persians today use the names of desert arabs. that’s the fact. ferdowsi bemoaned the fact that persians had to bow down to the arab. that’s a fact.

      persia is not a unit comparable to china. their population differs by an order of magnitude today. china is 25% of the world.

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  8. India just has tons of people historically. Otherwise nothing special.

    Also is there any research into when exactly the Muslim majority areas of Indian subcontinent became Muslim majority? Muslims have had the advantage of one-way conversion during intermarriage and order of magnitude higher birthrates, me thinks the core genepool is actually very small.
    All Muslim areas of subcontinent probably achieved such demographic character well into British rule. And this is continuing now as well. I was shocked recently during road trip from Kolkata to Orissa beach town, the villages must have been 25-30% Muslims. This belt used to be Muslim in the single digit percentages. So what gives? Nobody’s converting (except intermarriage but that is an exception)… It is just differential birthrates are manifesting. Even poor lower caste Hindus urban and rural are having 1-2 kids these days but Muslims are still multiplying albeit they have also slowed down (slowed down from their growth rate, still remaining multiples above Hindu even of same social class).

    West Bengal as a whole has China level fertility but Muslims in West Bengal are still pumping away. Muslims went up from low teens to almost 30% in West Bengal since 1947. At this point in one more generation given the demographic differential, there really will be a strong case to add West Bengal to Bangladesh.

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    1. when I compare Pakistanis and Indians; Indians started transitioning to a 2 child family as early as the 60/70’s (the Parsis led the way). Pakistanis are only now beginning to do that and even then three is considered to be better than 2..

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    2. Don’t know about Bengal, but such anecdotal evidence doesn’t stack up against the more gentle Muslim population growth that the census figures show.

      How much of your perception is due to the fact that more Muslims nowadays consciously choose to dress and look differently to stand out?

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      1. Census figures aren’t gentle, if you go beyond cherry-picked misleading factoids from newspaper-coverages.

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      2. Siddharthji

        Every community’s population has increased in the world massively. For that matter nobody’s population rise is “gentle”. But Muslim growth stands out head and shoulders above rest.

        Today Maulana Madani came out against 377 repeal saying this will lead to no people. Just incredulous that these people have the gall to talk about decriminalization of homosexuality is going to lead to “no people” lol
        https://swarajyamag.com/insta/homosexuality-against-law-of-nature-leads-to-moral-decadence-disorder-top-muslim-cleric

        You do have a point about Muslims choosing to be more visible with Islamic garb. Again, this is still something that they are able to do due to the numbers backing them up. I wonder how many Hindus in Bangladesh or Pakistan dare to walk around on the streets outside of particular religious occasion in religious garb like tiki or tilak. But anywho, the region of Rarh or southwest Bengal was even in pre 47 not substantially having any Muslim minority. Also the area is far enough from Bangladesh border to not be affected by migration. It is the local Muslims that are having higher exponential growth in absolute numbers than the local Hindus, and over the generations the percentage differential is also being affected. If it took 50 years for 9% to become 15%, it will take less than that for 15 to become 30. Hindus are essentially facing what whites in US are facing. Yes different regions have different realities but either way there is not a single region that has higher Hindu growth rate than Muslim growth rate (they will, in absolute numbers but not in relative). Tomorrow if Hindi belt Hindus of 400 million have two kids, they will stay at 400 million, whereas Hindi belt Muslims of 50 million having 4 kids, will shoot up to 100 million. The percentage of Hindus drops from 400/450 to 400/500. Now if this continues or the differential accelerates such that the 400 million have 1 kid and 100 million have 3 kids, the Hindus actually reduce in absolute terms to 200, Muslims go up to 150. This is how vast swathes of historical India have already turned Muslim majority in very recent historical time.

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        1. What did Subramanian Swamy say about the 377 repeal? (Hint: Not very nice stuff)

          Homosexuality is one issue where conservatives of all religions (Hindu, Muslim, Christian, what have you) are all on the same side.

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          1. Yes, but the point is that in the 21st century, it shouldn’t matter what people choose to do in their bedrooms.

            Subramanian Swamy’s comments were quite disgusting. He has served in a previous BJP government. It’s not like Muslims are much more anti-gay than members of other religions.

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          1. They have persisted long enough in the colonial period to have changed the demographic character of the rural peasantry in select regions of Indian subcontinent such that we see clearly Muslim majority regions by 1947. The other aspect to the demographics thing is that it accelerates with greater momentum. This stuff about India as a whole reaching the carrying capacity by 2050 means at that point in absolute terms Hindus will be going down and Muslims will still be going up since Muslims are operating at higher carrying capacity (in accordance with own customs/beliefs etc). At that point the percentage swing will be fast and drastic. Muslim growth rate in India has slowed down, that much is true… But Hindus and Sikhs etc are even slower, so percentage swing over is going to continue.

            If anyone is interested in a pan subcontinental but region specific look at demographic transitions from the 1900s including partition they can go ahead refer to the series here:
            Bengal
            https://southasiablog.wordpress.com/2014/01/23/how-did-partition-change-the-religious-map-in-bengal/
            Punjab
            https://southasiablog.wordpress.com/2015/07/03/a-more-detailed-punjab-religion-map/
            Hindi belt
            https://southasiablog.wordpress.com/2015/03/24/how-did-partition-affect-north-india/
            Sindh
            https://southasiablog.wordpress.com/2014/11/07/why-wasnt-sindh-parititioned-in-1947/

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        2. I see your point…
          As other commenters have pointed out, even a slight edge in number of births over a few generations is enough to lead to long term demographic change. But in many of the states where this is the case such as Kerala and WB, the question to be asked is why has the Hindu TFR fallen so sharply below replacement? I suspect that being a entrenched minority gives the Muslims a feeling of closeness and community and their families are able to share resources and help each other out and bring up children that way better.
          Having zakat also means that the weakest sections of their community are effectively subsidised in their child rearing efforts..
          (This is all speculation and anecdotal evidence, I don’t claim to have numbers to back these up!)

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      1. High brow stuff production does not make or unmake demographic realities as you have alluded to on the ground that 40% of the population descended from ancient India (subcontinent) is now Muslim.

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          1. Okay 33% you win Razib lol. That same statistic was around 25% in the 1940s. Pretty big jump in absolute numbers if you ask me considering the non Muslims in Indian subcontinent have themselves exploded.

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          2. No it is not; in 1941, the census of India described population by British India and princely states

            British India Total population = 292 Million
            Muslim India = 79 million
            % muslim = 27%
            The other half, the princely states census was not well run and should be ignored on actual
            British India Total population = 88 Million
            Muslim India = 12.5 million
            % muslim = 14%
            There is no evidence that the Muslim population exploded. As a fair argument, it can be argued that the growth of Muslim population follows the population growth of Bimaru states (in India) and West Punjab/Bangladesh, as anticipated.

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  9. “Also is there any research into when exactly the Muslim majority areas of Indian subcontinent became Muslim majority?”

    Sindh: 15th century (Interpreting the Sindhi World).

    Seraikistan: Not sure.

    Punjab: Was not Muslim majority till early 20th century (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punjab_Province_(British_India)#Religion).

    Kashmir: Not sure.

    Bengal: Late 19th century (60-40 as per 1901 census, so extrapolating backwards).

    See here: https://www.cpsindia.org/dl/religious/summary3c.pdf

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      1. Zack it probably is all of Punjab since the east west division of it isn’t relevant until partition. Besides it seems whether you look at it as a whole or in segments, the trend is the same, demographic differential…

        Vikramji thanks for the info. So essentially we’re referring to the fact that Islam caught up with the demographically stronger segments of Indian subcontinent population and once that happens you can call it Muslim majority over the turn of a century. If Hindi belt SC and OBC Hindus weren’t keeping up with Muslims in independent India (India as a whole tripled its population from 1947 to 1997, Indian Muslims by themselves heptupled or 7x), then Hindi belt would be Muslim as well.

        So let’s not draw big conclusions on caste or fractional Indian society etc when essentially we’re looking at demographic differential and different regions have different degree of the same demographic differential.

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        1. Heptupled??

          Indian Muslims were 9.8% in 1951; they are now 14.1% in 2017. That’s a 5% relative increase in 76 years. It’s hardly a takeover.

          This is my problem with multi-ethnic multi-religious liberal democracies; they start to obsess over the numbers..

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          1. When I say heptupled I’m talking of the absolute numbers (clear from the context that in the same sentence I said India’s overall population tripled).

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          2. India is still comfortably a Hindu majority country. This obsession with the Muslim growth rate is frankly ridiculous.

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          3. First of all India is a union of several nations. It is reductionist and highly dismissive of folks to refer to entire India in these contexts when clearly the demographic differential operates region to region (or else Muslim demographic majority would not characterize Kashmir, east Bengal, Sindh, west Punjab etc).

            Anyway I’m not interested in debating modern India’s demographic differential and its implications. I brought it up in this context because we’re trying to understand whether Hindu India truly was able to resist Islam or not. In that I used demographic power and differentials as the argument, modern India is just a supporting argument.

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        1. Try enforcing some basic rules of civility for a start. Then start vetting out obvious crank theories like the whole world was persian/croatian/serbian/whatever-speaking 10 thousand years ago, etc etc.

          I am usually just a reader of this blog. I rarely post here. Somehow this blog has the uncanny ability to put me to sleep despite my chronic insomnia. The other blogs I follow, such as wikipedia, wordreference etc just do not have the same magical effect. Apparently the intellectual rigor of those blogs is too powerful to allow any intrusion of sleep.

          What I find most juvenile is the random throwing around of f-word and other expletives, just to impress upon the audience how intellectually unfettered the writer is. This usually has exactly the opposite effect. Intellectual shallowness just cannot hide being cuss words. One has to have a minimum civil standard before anyone can engage them in a conversation.

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  10. BTW i dont feel that India resisted Islamization. Probably Islam was not as successful in pure numbers as it had in other areas of the world, but 30-35 percent population of subcontinent in roughly 500 odd years rule (that too in haphazard manner) is a good show i presume.

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  11. I am asking you! For instance, can Iran’s being slower than Transoxiana have something to do with resistance from Zorastrian warlords (you commented on them in the hydra post I think)?

    that is the argument. basically turan was a more disordered/diverse society. the turks went from shamanism to islam mostly and were percolating through the border.

    iran/persia had huge zones which were ruled by zoroastrian kings (toward the caspian) down to 850 AD. in contrast turan, through khorasan, was settled by a lot of arabs frontier people. the diverse buddhist/zoroastrian city-states flipped once they saw a path to power in the center (e.g., barmakhids).

    also, there is a phenomenon observed by peter turchin that ‘frontier zones’ of polities tend to be more socially open to novelty and cultural revolution, as elites exhibit lots of social cohesion on the borders. “core” cultures tend to be more stable.

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  12. @AnAn
    “There is a discussion of how Jati and Varna calcified to reduce conversion to Islam.”

    If I’m not mistaken, Razib has posted a few articles stating of a genetic basis of caste which is at least 2000 years old and in other cases possibly older. This greatly predate’s islam entrance into India. This is not to say there wasn’t an affect, all invasions might cause some change in the practices of a population. Ask Razib to confirm or look at his articles detailing the science of this.

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    1. the intervals are big enuf that the anan model MAY be possible. but probably not. it doesn’t look >1000 years old in south india. and there weren’t many muslims or muslim polities before 1000 AD.

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      1. Razib and JJ, we are talking past each other. Jati existed. But Jatis use to move between Varnas far more frequently in the past. The fluidity happened two ways:
        –entire Jatis moved (Vishwamitra’s Jati becoming Brahmin was not unique)
        –individuals changed Varna. This was common. But they kept their Jati.

        Razib is right about Jati. But Jati is not Varna.

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  13. As a percentage how much of China was Muslim at their peak? And would I be wrong in guessing this would have been in the late 19th century right before the Dungan revolt?

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  14. Buddhism co-existed with Confucianism, it never seeked to overthrow it.

    as a point of fact, this is actually false in two ways

    1) buddhism was patronized to such a great extent by some groups and at some periods that it starved resources from confucianism (the tang crackdown on buddhism was a counter-rxn to its enormous temporal power).

    2) milllennarian buddhist sects actually did try to overthrow confucianism and all of chinese society. but they were just periodic bursts correlated with social/economic instability.

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  15. Okay 33% you win Razib lol. That same statistic was around 25% in the 1940s. Pretty big jump in absolute numbers if you ask me considering the non Muslims in Indian subcontinent have themselves exploded.

    it’s not about winning. it’s about being right in the details when making a quantitative argument. if you present wrong numbers in a quantitative argument you aren’t undermining your thesis, you’re injecting detrimental information into the ecosystem.

    don’t fuck up again or i’ll just assume you are always sloppy and start deleting numerical comments from you. i hate fake numbers.

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    1. Okay, let’s do this then

      1951 census
      Hindus 306 million
      Muslims 34 million

      2011 census
      Hindus 966 million
      Muslims 172 million

      Sources are wiki for both census data
      966/306=3.15x for Hindu growth in absolute
      172/34=5.05x for Muslim growth in absolute

      Consider again regional considerations into this. While in the BIMARU the Hindus have a high TFR and Muslims have higher slightly, outside of BIMARU the Hindus have significantly lower while the Muslims have a BIMARU-Hindu-esque TFR. Look at West Bengal with 1.6 for Hindus and 2.1 for Muslims. That means Hindu population is about to shrink soon in absolute numbers while Muslims are still growing. That means the percentage swing is going to be rapid and within my lifetime.

      Vijay I’m not interested in solutions to above as these are hard coded realities. I simply brought up demographic differentials quantifiable today as a historical phenomenon to explain Muslim demographic majorities in various parts of subcontinent. I understand there are issues with projecting into the past the raw numbers simply because as we have seen Hindus also had/have high TFR depending on area and time. In past eras there were other social factors that facilitated for Muslim demographic overtaking of Hindus in the various regions. I have mentioned intermarriage conversions being a one way affair regardless of male or female being Hindu/Muslim. Widow remarriage and divorce acceptability are another social factor that historically would have allowed for Muslims to have superior demographic expandability vis a vis Hindus. Another thing I notice is during natural or other disasters, due to concept of charity there is a better social net for Muslims than Hindus. This might have also historically panned out and would be interesting to see if things like the various famines including the infamous Bengal famine of the 1940s disproportionately affected the Hindus vis a vis the Muslims.

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      1. Currently 15% of 1.36 billion Indians are muslims or approximately 204 million muslims. Although some scholars think the actual number is 16%, which might be possible. In which case the number is 218 million.

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  16. There is no evidence that the Muslim population exploded. As a fair argument, it can be argued that the growth of Muslim population follows the population growth of Bimaru states (in India) and West Punjab/Bangladesh, as anticipated.

    in general i agree. that being said, last i checked muslim TFR in kerala was higher than hindu or xtian. but a lot of this SES.

    in 19th century balkans muslims had lower TFR than xtians, but that’s because they were more urban.

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      1. Those differentials tabulated underline my point. Stretch that out backwards in time and that will demonstrate how various regions of the Indian subcontinent have achieved Muslim demographic majority in earlier times.
        TFR of Muslims in West Bengal is 2.1 whereas for Hindus is 1.6, so we are under replacement levels already… similar must have happened in east Bengal a century or two ago.

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        1. TFR of Muslims in West Bengal is 2.1 whereas for Hindus is 1.6, so we are under replacement levels already… similar must have happened in east Bengal a century or two ago.

          you have no fucking idea. stop bullshitting (speaking as someone who has looked at time series demographic data and see multiple flips back and forth btwn ethnic/religious groups).

          your underlying point is plausible in some ways. it’s testable. you just have no good grasp of data to do anything besides muddy the waters.

          ps anyone who plays around with linear projections back more than a century or as fwd as a century is usually a moron based on priors

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          1. Show me the “flip” anywhere in any time series data you have available in Hindu Muslim demographic differentials.

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    1. I think the existence of TFR difference holds pretty much all across India, and I have seen someone use this to claim that TFR is a function of religion too and not *merely* ses etc. (though one should really see if ses+womens’ education can account consistently for the difference).

      But for Kerala the TFR difference has been especially stark, much more so than the rest of India: Hindus are more than twice Muslims in Kerala, but Muslims are already the single largest group, more than Hindus, among age-groups around 0-2: this is not census data but the Kerala government records on the number of births in the state every year (which is possible to record in Kerala because all births get registered unlike in other states of India; so this isn’t even a statistical estimate). Similarly, Hindus heavily dominate the number of deaths in Kerala (because the Hindu population is more skewed towards old people). Yet, it will take a few decades (4?) for Kerala to become Muslim-plurality since each year difference can be made only in the 0-1 yr old population while life-expectancy is 70-80. One reason why one should never analyze demographics looking at how fast the total population changes, which is what many news reports do. I should add though that Muslim TFR in Kerala doesn’t seem high; just that Hindu TFR is far lower.

      So the culprit in India’s glacial march towards Muslim majority may not be Muslims themselves but Saraswati Devi? Now that would be a good explanation of why our good musicologist friend likes Saraswati Devi 😀

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      1. Isnt the right number to look at here the fertility rate, the number of children women have over a lifetime ?

        As per the NFHS-4 they do show a convergence for Hindu and Muslim women, and a strong correlation with level of education.

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        1. Good questions:

          1. TFR is certainly a great metric, but I think you’re wrong that NFHS data show any convergence. Both decrease pretty remarkably but I don’t think the rates have a pattern that allows us to deduce any sort of convergence. Muslim TFR in Kerala is still more than what Hindu TFR was 20 years ago (in NFHS 1), and it is not clear at all where Hindu TFR is going (its fall doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon). The other caveat with TFR is that it one needs to crunch numbers to use it; simply looking at TFR and applying intuition doesn’t help at all. For instance the asymptotic impact on population, see here, is P(t) = P(0) exp(gt), where g is “log(TFR/2)/Xm, where Xm is mean age for childbearing women”. Is human intuition good to process this? I don’t think so, which is why I protested someone at an earlier BP comment thread on the topic making up estimtaes.

          2. Yes, you are of course right about strong correlation with the level of education. My question (not statement) above was whether womens’ education + socioeconomic status is enough to explain it or not. I don’t think womens’ education is determined by ses – AFAIK economically Hindus and Muslims aren’t that different in Kerala (Muslims even seem to have a slight edge in certain parameters but as usual I have lost that link) but the TFR difference is high, though anecdotally it seems plausible that education levels for women are quite different, much more so than economic levels (which is why I added that caveat to Razib’s point on ses).

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        2. Vikram, here is another caveat about TFR: to use it one needs to know the share of the child- bearing-age population in each religion.

          To illustrate, consider that Kerala’s Hindu TFR per NFHS-4 is about 1.4, Muslim TFR 1.9. There are more than twice as many Hindus as Muslims in Kerala. Just looking at this, one might think that the ratio of Hindu to Muslim births should be (1.4 * 2)/1.9, which is well greater than 1. But we know from vital statistics reports that it is less than 1 now (and was only slightly greater than 1 when NFHS-4 came out). Why? Because the number of Hindu women of child bearing age is not twice the corresponding Muslim number , as Hindu population heavily skews old.

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          1. Great points froginthewell. Made some plots using census data to compare the ratio of Hindus to Muslims versus age group. The ratio has decreased from 4:1 in the oldest group to 1:1 in the youngest group. Plotting the rate of change in this ratio shows some kind of cyclical trend, periods of rapid decline in the ratio, followed by a much slower decline.

            I would conjecture that a number of Hindu families are choosing to have only one child. For some reason this proportion is increasing.

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          2. Thanks. Comparing population shares across age cohorts may be the very best way of intuitively getting a picture of what is happening (just for intuitive picture; no substitute for crunching numbers). That said, I think Census 2011 gives the Kerala 0-4 ratio as a bit greater than 1:1 still.

            When I said the ratio is 1:1 in 2015, and dipped below 1:1 for the first time in 2016.

            You are right that a large number of Hindu (also Christian) couples are just opting for one child.

            I should emphasize that Muslims are not to blame at all here, and I am not saying this for political correctness: Muslims in Kerala have a far healthier TFR, which is nevertheless *less* than replacement level; it is because of them that Kerala society’s ageing will be delayed.

            What really boils my blood is the liberal and commie superstitions telling people that they should have just one child, often even stigmatizing people having children, as this story shows:

            https://www.ndtv.com/kerala-news/kochi-crime-man-in-keralas-kochi-abandons-his-baby-for-fear-of-social-stigma-1861576

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          3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Kerala#Birth_rate

            The above gives the number of births in Kerala across different religions for the last 10 years – from Kerala Government’s vital statistics report. You can see that the ratio of births has been steadily decreasing, was still >1:1 until 2015, and dipped below 1 in 2016. But I think the rural (or was it urban?) ratio flipped in 2012.

            (The blog software clipped out this part of my previous comment).

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          4. I would not worry too much about Malayalees (Hindu, Christian or Muslim) from the few I have seen in Sri Lanka.

            They seem the closest in attitude to Sri Lankans, who will more or less marry anybody .

            My niece (abot 5 years younger) is married to a Muslim. Niece is a strong Christian so the daughter is brought up Christian.

            In the marginal village (now up and coming) where I live, Muslims (30%), Sinhalese (50% mainly Roman Catholic) and Tamils (20%) are all mixed. When a guy/gal runs down someone from an other ethnicity/culture, its most often his/her relative by marriage.

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  17. Show me the “flip” anywhere in any time series data you have available in Hindu Muslim demographic differentials.

    we don’t have data that far back! that’s my point.

    we do have some data from other places with better tabulation and record keeping (e.g.., ottomans). they show flips. you also see flips ethnically in places like fiji, where indians had higher TFR, then went lower . than fijians. or in northern ireland, where catholics had high TFR, and then they dropped below protestants.

    i know a lot of demographic data. you don’t see too. your hypothesis is fine, but stop speculating on my threads. i don’t give a shit about your speculations.

    your qualitative assertion is reasonble. but you have no data to add to the granularity. so stop talking.

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    1. there are a lot of stupid comments on this blog. trying to minimize that on this thead.

      fwiw i just banned you asshole.

      ps expect to be on my shit-list if i catch you fucking with quantitative numbers and rounding ways to congenial to your hypothesis.

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      1. Hmm so here’s the thing. The segment of society both Hindu and Muslim that did the population explosion as quantifiable decade to decade from 1951 onwards were not operating in some different socioeconomic or technological reality in comparison to say 1851 or even 1751. Same heavily rural and deindustrialized bulk population that is stagnant and multiplies to have more farm hands for labor. Projecting 1951-1991 to 2011 is strenuous and to 2041 is dubious, but projecting the same backwards is actually not such a jump.

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  18. In my opinion, none of Abrahamic religions will be ultimately successful in East Asia because… we are just too shallow and practical. Shamanism is about the most abstract concept we are capable of and we are mostly atheists in essence.

    Koreans tend to deviate from this norm the most and they tend to be fanatical at times – the highest number of Christian martyrs, the most fanatical Confucists(they had banned Buddhism for 500 years) , the worst communist-capitalist conflict and … the most ferocious atheists as well.

    Yet when I see Korean Evangelical Christians risking their lives in Muslim countries… I see Christian Shamanists instead, not those interested in the details of the Council of Nicaea, Divinity of Jesus, Holy Trinity and all that because … they are all just silly ideas. And I think it is a good thing actually; Koreans are more suited to the modern world because of it.

    And as an avid wargamer and strategy gamer, I find the idea of Tamerlane defeating China pretty silly. Those Muslim boys arguing for its possibility should know their proper place. And even if that had happened others such as Manchu or Mongols would have quickly filled in the power vacuum and they are not likely to adopt Islam.

    And lastly, China tends to be over-theorized. To the West it is a mysterious land and culture and it is always tempting to think there is something more abstract and wonderful about it that distinguishes it from the rest. But anthropology, not philosophy, provides the better answer as to the nature of its society.

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  19. Thanks EastAsianMan. You are absolutely right about the Chinese / East Asian mindset and outlook and expressed it way more concisely than I could have 🙂
    Hope you contribute more, not just specifically on East Asia(ns), although that would be great, but also on Indian / South Asian matters. We could do with an outside perspective of us as countries / peoples that we don’t get in the Indo-Pak-Bangladeshi back and forth that we normally have.

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  20. I think a multitude of factors played into fact that Indian subcontinent remained a predominantly Hindu land even after centuries of Islamic rule. Primarily it was due to the large population and geography of the land. It was simply beyond the capacity of the an invading Muslim army, typically numbering a few tens of thousands, to convert a population which was something like a thousand times more numerous than themselves. Individual conversions would’t make much of a dent, and it was just not feasible to forcibly convert a community say in deep Karnataka, and ensure that it stays Muslim when the invading army retires to far away Delhi. Iran, Turan(Transoxania), Mesopotamia etc were way more sparsely populated than India, and large scale conversion was much more easier.

    Second factor that came into play was the deep rooted caste pride of Hindu ruling castes. Masses in any land take their cue from the ruling class when following a religion. Hindu ruling castes like Rajputs and Marathas were fiercely protective of their ancient faith and it ensured that the masses retained their ancestral faith too. In isolated pockets like western Punjab and Sindh where the leading Rajput clans (e.g. Soomro, Janjua etc. ) did convert to Islam, the peasantry followed the course and it resulted in large scale islamicization of these lands.

    Another factor was the racism of the Turkic/Afghan/Mughal rulers. Even when Hindus converted to Islam, they were never treated as equals by the foreign ruling elites. So it removed a major incentive to convert to a foreign religion and rise up in social hierarchy.

    Foreign Muslim rules, especially the Mughals were practical enough to know that their rule rested on the military muscle of the local Hindu warlords, and wisely let them retain their ancestral faith in exchange for this military muscle. The Hindu warlords themselves matched the Mughal in realpolitik. While they drew a line over the question of giving up their religion, they did not mind accepting the Muslim over-lordship over their kingdoms. In exceptional cases like Aurangzeb, when he did try to force Islam down the throat of this Hindu vassals, it resulted in rebellions all over his empire and ultimately sowed the seeds of the downfall of his empire.

    Having said that, as somebody pointed out in this thread, the fact that Indian subcontinent is about one third Muslim after a superficial 5 centuries of Muslim rule is not a bad score either.

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    1. Masses in any land take their cue from the ruling class when following a religion. Hindu ruling castes like Rajputs and Marathas were fiercely protective of their ancient faith and it ensured that the masses retained their ancestral faith too.

      I would argue the ruling classes used the “faith” to keep the masses (i.e the Sudras) suppressed.

      Now that the masses are becoming literate, they are revolting against some of the hierarchical concepts of the “faith”. If the masses become literate in English forget about the “faith”.

      Its no different from the Catholic Mediterranean countries. The masses were not allowed to read (and the Bible). The message of faith was given by the Pope and the Priest. Once the masses became educated, the Pope and priests lost their influence. Now Catholicism is at the maximum a cultural influence.

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  21. “Having said that, as somebody pointed out in this thread, the fact that Indian subcontinent is about one third Muslim after a superficial 5 centuries of Muslim rule is not a bad score either.”

    This is a bit misleading, since the bulk of the expansion happened very recently (from 20% in 1881 to 33% in 2011) due to demographic differences rooted in female literacy levels, and was heavily concentrated in the extremities of the subcontinent.

    The point is that, apart from Kashmir and Sindh, most populations in the subcontinent remained Hindu (or Sikh) with some Perso-Arabic and Anglo influences, rather than Muslim with a faint memory of a ‘pre-Islamic’ past. There is also a non-trivial possibility of many elite Muslims in modern India switching to a more syncretic religious identity, where they follow a subset of Indo-Persian traditions, but do not necessarily identify with the ‘I would rather marry a cousin from Karachi I’ve never met than a Hindu from Lucknow I have known for years.’ logic. This will eventually have an impact on the mass Indian Muslims as well, perhaps not to the same degree, but will decrease the aversions currently held.

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    1. ‘I would rather marry a cousin from Karachi I’ve never met than a Hindu from Lucknow I have known for years.’

      This isn’t likely to happen except on the smallest number of cases unless the insistence on conversion of the partner is stopped. And I think the love jihad scaremongering has probably poisoned the well in this regard as well.

      I know that elite Hyderabadi families would rather marry their daughters off to Arabs or Pakistanis rather than Hindus – and this in a state which doesn’t (in recent times) have a history of communal conflict.

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      1. obviously I can’t imagine any Muslim family who would rather their daughter marry Hindus.
        But it goes the same way usually any Hindu family will be like anyone but Muslim or black..

        bigotry goes both ways

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        1. But it goes the same way usually any Hindu family will be like anyone but Muslim or black..

          Maybe among Indian Hindus.

          Not so among us Sudras living in the Beautiful Island (i.e Lanka Dveepa).

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      2. Siddarth, I dont see these attitudes sustaining amongst urban, college educated Muslims. Similar things used to happen amongst Hindus with regards to caste as well, UP Brahmins would much rather marry their daughters to Tamil Brahmins rather than UP non-Brahmins. But that has changed dramatically in recent years. Something similar will happen with respect to religion as well.

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  22. All of this worrying about the Muslim birth rate is really problematic. You guys remind me of those Zionists who consider Palestinians a “demographic threat”. It just reveals your own biases.

    You’ve got a Hindu-majority country (80% or so Hindu) with a Hindu Right regime in power so really you can chill. Indian Muslims are the ones who should be worrying.

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    1. Kabir, part of the issue is what happened in Kashmir (where the Hindu population dropped to almost nothing, the Sufi and Shia community shrunk as a percentage of the population, Buddhist community shrunk and life became far more difficult for all of them), Lebanon (was overwhelmingly nonmuslim and semi European in the 1940s and 1950s . . . and has become increasingly unsafe for the nonmuslim shrinking minority), Pakistan (nonmuslims shrunk from 30% to 3% of the population in weeks, not to mention the persecution of Sufis, twelvers, sixers, Ahmedis and other muslim minorities or muslim liberals), or Bangladesh (nonmuslims shrunk from 36% to 40%; to 7%; and the Sufis and twelvers have come under increasing attack).

      Bad things have happened after a ticking point.

      The best way to get rid of the fear of muslim demographics is to give muslims freedom of art, thought, intuition and feeling. And then encourage dialogue. The sweetness of love will end the 14 century Islamic civil war and muslim/non muslim relations will flower 🙂

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      1. I’m not reading this whole thing you have written because it is totally irrelevant.

        Only bigoted people worry about “demographic threats” and the birth rates of minority groups. I have zero time for bigotry. Stop justifying what the issues are with Muslims.

        You all have a Hindu Right regime in power. Stop worrying.

        And I don’t believe in this “sweetness of love” claptrap as I have mentioned many many times.

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    2. All of this worrying about the Muslim birth rate is really problematic. You guys remind me of those Zionists who consider Palestinians a “demographic threat”. It just reveals your own biases.

      no one gives a shit what you think is problematic. i understand these are magic words elsewhere, but they have no power here.

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  23. “Only bigoted people worry about “demographic threats” and the birth rates of minority groups.”
    There is literally thousands of instances where Muslims clerics or political leaders have publicly said that Muslims must haaave more babies so that they can take over a country and subsequently the world. Yes, and the world should not worry. Its just nice, lovely Muslims increasing. What can be wrong with that?

    Just last year, the President of Turkey, the neo-Ottoman, the Amir of faithfuls, HRH Erdogan publicly said Turks must have more babies so that they can take over Europe.

    “Calling Turks the “future of Europe,” Turkey’s president on Friday implored his compatriots living on the Continent to have multiple children as an act of revenge against the West’s “injustices.”
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/17/world/europe/erdogan-turkey-future-of-europe.html

    And finally, anyone who has read recent stuff and observe the world know that there is extensive studies on how a intrasignenet, unyoelding minority, after it crosses a particular threshold of populaation become the dictatorial arbitrar of what is acceptaable or not acceptable in the whole society. Muslims in Canada, being the very tiny minority they are, still demand sometime that pork be not served in public schools. If Muslims become 10-15% of Canada, does anyone doubt they will demand total ban of Pork in public institutions? And they will demand similar unyielding concessions from the greater people?
    This is article by Nassim Taleb where he lays out how minorities become dictatorial.
    https://medium.com/incerto/the-most-intolerant-wins-the-dictatorship-of-the-small-minority-3f1f83ce4e15

    And lastly, Paakistan is a Islmaic country so it will try remaining Islamic, that is natural, that is the order of the things. But Israel cannot try to remain Jewish, even though Palestinian popltion percentage even within Israel is increasing. India cannot worry about Hindu-Muslim percentaages etc. Muslims thinking demography is just self-preservation. Others thinking demography is horrible bigotry.

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    1. Erdogan’s comment was very stupid.

      Israel is Occupying Palestine. Please do not forget this very basic fact. So their worrying about the Palestinian “demographic threat” is a bit rich. Pakistan is not on anyone else’s land. Indian Muslims are Indian citizens.

      Your Islamophobia is showing.

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  24. equating education levels of women is shit if religious demographic has an attitude to not have their daughters educated in first place. Better to try to see urban population differences, urban areas provide opportunities. A difference there could clearly indicate choices , this would be one kind of test, other is to just do survey and directly look to differences in attitudes.

    One should be more interested in relative differences with regards to tfr. Relative differences are enough. As to china is concerned. Social science is an empirical domain,not one of theory. At best heuristics and heuristics can and do fail beyond a point. There are no proper opposing forces or friction that can measurably be quantified in this domain. Greeco Roman civilization is one of the greatest and it collapsed, zoroastrians too. Its easy to now read defects into them and assume they were somehow lacking in something. People do this, this however doesnt have to be true. Improbable events do happen and take things over, There is no science in “social science” as yet.

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  25. Hence I posted an article earlier, in absence of any science, irrespective of what historians will say or any ideological group or religious people or anyone for that matter, the only thing that matters is this. Is there reciprocity?, if not, is this lack of reciprocity being acknowledged and is being broadcasted for every one to know? and are counter costs being imposed ? , that is all there is, there is no need to pull one’s hair apart by constructing endless theories. In world where there is just heuristics and shifting sand dunes, one should follow but one and only one rule. Prudence, all else is folly.

    http://www.brownpundits.com/2018/03/07/there-is-no-morality/

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