Origin of the Muslim Population and their Social Stratification under Bengal Sultanate

civfanatic

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
3,305
Des Moines, Iowa
#41
Furthermore, Bengal became Muslim majority during this period. Immigration into Bengal was as much a factor in Islamization as was conversion of local populace. Therefore, it is more than likely that a significant part of the Bengali Muslims have foreign ancestry, though there's no way to quantify it into percentages.
There was never a large enough population of Persians, Turks, or Afghans in India to make a big impact on Bengali demographics. Moreover, those foreign ethnic groups looked down on the cultivating peasant classes, and sought careers in the military and administration of Islamic states in India. No Persian, Turk, or Afghan desired to become a peasant cultivator in eastern Bengal.

If any immigration played a big role in shaping Bengali demographics, it would be immigration of Hindustani laborers and cultivators from the Gangetic plains, who might be attracted by the abundant, newly-available farmland of Mughal-era Bengal.
 
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kandal

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,608
USA
#42
It's under Mughal administration that large parts of eastern Bengal became arable that enabled this region to turn into a major agricultural hub. Being part of the larger Mughal trade network also made its traditional textiles industry to boom, so much so that eastern Bengal became the economic epicenter of the Empire. This inevitably led to lots of migration into this area.

Furthermore, Bengal became Muslim majority during this period. Immigration into Bengal was as much a factor in Islamization as was conversion of local populace. Therefore, it is more than likely that a significant part of the Bengali Muslims have foreign ancestry, though there's no way to quantify it into percentages.
"Total number of Arabic, Persian, Afghan, Turkish, and Mongol Muslim invaders, who first conquered and then resided in India, was never more than 1 or 2 percent of the subcontinent's entire population" - From 'India' by Stanley Wolpert (p99). For Bengal it would be much less, as it is further east.
 
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M.S. Islam

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
3,111
Dhaka
#43
There was never a large enough population of Persians, Turks, or Afghans in India to make a big impact on Bengali demographics. Moreover, those foreign ethnic groups looked down on the cultivating peasant classes, and sought careers in the military and administration of Islamic states in India. No Persian, Turk, or Afghan desired to become a peasant cultivator in eastern Bengal.

If any immigration played a big role in shaping Bengali demographics, it would be immigration of Hindustani laborers and cultivators from the Gangetic plains, who might be attracted by the abundant, newly-available farmland of Mughal-era Bengal.
Your perception regarding the social stratification is that of the British colonial era. During Sultanate and Mughal periods, trading and weaving was the mainstay of Bengal economy. Bengal was a major trading hub. Traders from Arabia, Malaya, Persia, Portugal as well as from other parts of the subcontinent (especially Gujarati/Marwari merchants) were converging on Bengal, there was even an active riverine trade route to China (thru Brahmaputra). Lots of them settled down here. There even used to be a sizable Armenian community in Dhaka, as well as Greek, Portuguese and Jewish trading communities. Though they alone wouldn't have made significant demographic impact, it shows that there were other foreign elements apart from the nobles, military and administration.

Also, when the Afghans were routed by the Mughals, they melted into the background so as not be considered foreigners anymore.
 
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Aupmanyav

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,298
New Delhi, India
#45
Yes, I have never seen average hindus claim some exotic foreign ancestry.
It would not be wrong for people descended from Aryan/Kamboja tribes to claim foreign ancestry. They carry with them the family lines (Gotras). Not so with ancestry from Greeks, Pasrthians, Scythians, Kushanas, Hunas, etc.
Exactly, it is hard to find pure Indians in the elite families of Bollywood even today! The pure Indian actors struggle to breakthrough unfortunately.
What do you mean by 'pure Indians'. All people everywhere are some kind of mix. Nepotism rules in Bollywood. :D
 
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kandal

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,608
USA
#46
Your perception regarding the social stratification is that of the British colonial era. During Sultanate and Mughal periods, trading and weaving was the mainstay of Bengal economy. Bengal was a major trading hub. Traders from Arabia, Malaya, Persia, Portugal as well as from other parts of the subcontinent (especially Gujarati/Marwari merchants) were converging on Bengal, there was even an active riverine trade route to China (thru Brahmaputra). Lots of them settled down here. There even used to be a sizable Armenian community in Dhaka, as well as Greek, Portuguese and Jewish trading communities. Though they alone wouldn't have made significant demographic impact, it shows that there were other foreign elements apart from the nobles, military and administration.

Also, when the Afghans were routed by the Mughals, they melted into the background so as not be considered foreigners anymore.
Yes, but that has not changed how Bengalis look - basically Indian with minimal scattered archaic Mongoloid mix. So the proportions of these outsiders would have been pretty small compared to the natives.
 
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kandal

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,608
USA
#47
Until the Mughals cleared large swathes of jungles and settled farmers to cultivate those lands, eastern Bengal was more likely to be sparsely populated.
Not clear. Are you saying Mughals themselves cleared the land, or the lands were cleared while under the Mughals?
 
Jul 2012
3,111
Dhaka
#48
Yes, but that has not changed how Bengalis look - basically Indian with minimal scattered archaic Mongoloid mix. So the proportions of these outsiders would have been pretty small compared to the natives.
Indians aren't that different in look compared to Afghans/Persians, so you can't quite decide either way going by the look alone.
 
Jul 2012
3,111
Dhaka
#49
Not clear. Are you saying Mughals themselves cleared the land, or the lands were cleared while under the Mughals?
Mughals made a policy to allocate the lands to those that cleared them, and most of the takers were likely to be from outside Bengal, from areas already part of Mughal empire.
 
Apr 2018
439
India
#50
Indians aren't that different in look compared to Afghans/Persians, so you can't quite decide either way going by the look alone.
That depends upon what one understands by - "looking like an Afghan". For centuries Afghanistan used to be melting pot of Asia. Afghan ancestories should range from Greeks to Mongols (and everything in between). The fact that Indians and Afghans don't look different is most probably because a typical Afghan is not supposed to look like anything. You'll find comparatively dark complexioned people who may not look anything different from an average North Indian and also find blue eyed blondes. This is because they are a mix of Iranics, Turkics, SlavsHazaras, to this day have strong Mongolian features because of their rather famous (or infamous) Mongol ancestory. So IMHO, the very term "Afghan ancestory" means nothing.
 
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