India is a country of diversity. We have diverse languages, culture, religions, ethnicities etc and this diversity is what binds us together. Majority of the Indians associate themselves with a religion. Hinduism is the largest religion in India with about 79.80% of the Indian population. The Muslims account for about 14.23% of the total population in India[1]. Therefore, Muslims are the largest minority in India and this makes India one of the world’s third Muslim population country outside Muslim majority country.


Islam was established in Saudi Arabia. In the ancient times India and Saudi Arabia had trade relations. The Arab traders used to visit the Malabar region, which linked them with the parts of South East Asia. The Arabs became prominent in the last part of the 7th century AD. This paved way for the advent of Islam in India. The teachings of Islam were spread during the time of Prophet Mohammed, the founder of Islam. The process of conversion to Islam began in the 8th century[2] This is when the Arabs began invading North India and the present-day Pakistan.

After the Arabs, other Muslims invaded India. These rulers remained in India and married local Indians.  The first Muslim dynasty in India was founded by Qutubuddin Aibak. After this, many Muslim rulers ruled such as the Khilji, Tuglaq, Lodhi, Moghuls etc. Some of the rulers are responsible for the spread of Islam in India. It must be noted that not all Muslim invaders were Islamic fanatics. We can take the example of Akbar who, was very liberal and he even established the concept of Din E Elahi, which included in it, beliefs from different religions. He is said to be one of the greatest rulers and propagated secularism. This could be seen in some monuments which were built by Akbar since the symbols of different religions are visible. But Akbar’s grandson, Aurangzeb was a fanatic Muslim and worked ardently for spreading of Islam. Aurangzeb did not have any systematic plan to spread Islam.[3]

After the revolt of 1857, the Indian Muslims suffered a lot due to religious intolerance. However, the work of spreading Islam rapidly increased for the next forty years.  But slowly and gradually the inspiration of Muslims towards spreading of Islam decreased. At the time of later half of the 19th Century, there was no such religious organization or institutions in a systematic manner for spreading of Islam.[4]


The divide and rule policy, two-nation theory, and subsequent partition of India polarized the sub-continental psyche. Since a reasonable population of Muslims stayed back, they had a tough time re-adjusting. A large population of Muslims who stayed back were poor, therefore, making them economically marginalised too.  But with time, both the religions retained their identity of social conduct and ethics. India has been greatly influenced by Islam and it would be wrong to say that India and Islam can be isolated. Islam has made a great impact on the Indian culture. It has influenced the language, cuisine art forms, architecture, trade and social customs.

To protect the minorities from discrimination, the Constitution Of India has provided them with certain rights under the Fundamental Rights (Part III) which are included under Article 29[5] and Article 30 of the Constitution[6]; Directive Principles of State policy[7] (Part IV) and the Fundamental Duties. However, the constitution of India does not define ‘minority’ anywhere, however the Constitution recognises religious and linguistic minorities. The Constitution makers had anticipated the problems of the religious minorities and therefore had made provisions to meet the situation. Hence, under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992, the then Central government established the National Commission for Minorities which identified six religious minorities[8], which included the Muslims[9]. This is one of the ways to provide affirmative action to the marginalised groups in India.

In 2005, the then Prime Minister of India established a High-Level Committee to prepare a report on the social, economic and educational status of the Muslim community of India. This is a famous report prepared called as the Sachar Report. Its aim was to create transparency of all relevant data for various socio-economic purposes. This would also enhance the legal basis for providing equal opportunities to the Muslims in the field of education, employment and equal participation in governance and public bodies.

Muslims are governed by the Muslim Personal Law. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) is an organisation established to protect and continue the applicability of the Muslim Personal Law. This board plays a very important role since it is a leading body of Muslim opinion in India.


In the post independent India, religion plays one of the major bases of politics. Muslims have been underrepresented in the Parliament, state assemblies and cabinets. There has been a wide gap between what the constitutional theory says and what has been the political practice in India.  The study shows that there is a wide gap between the constitutional theory and political practice in India. According to the Preamble, “India is a Sovereign, Socialist Secular Democratic Republic.” The word secular means equal treatment and tolerance to all the religions. Yet, we have seen the numerous communal riots between Hindus and Muslims. Political parties are seen to be using religion to win elections. It is important to understand that the Muslim community in India plays a very important role in the society and their inclusion is necessary.

In the last 100 years we have had legends like Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Maulana Muhammad Ali, Maulana Shuakat Ali, Allama Muhammad Iqbal,  Badarudeen Tyabji, Hakim Ajmal Khan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Dr. M.A. Ansari, Dr. Siafudeen Kichlu, Dr. Basheer Ahmad, Syed Ameer Ali, Dr. Syed Muhammad, Hazrat Mohani, Nawab Abdul Latheef, Althaf Hussain Hali, Syed Ahmad Sirhindi, Syed Ahmad Barielly, Maulana Shibli Numani, Munshi Karamat Ali, Poet Hali, Munshi Zakaullah (Delhi)[10] and others who have created a legacy of critical thinking. They played an integral part of the Indian Freedom Movement.

We have seen great Indian Muslim Presidents like Zakir Hussain, APJ Abdul Kalam, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed. Mohammed Hidayatullah A. M. Ahmadi, Mirza Hameedullah Beg and Altamas Kabir held the office of the Chief Justice of India.  At his time, Mohammed Hidayatullah was the youngest judge to be elevated to the Supreme Court. Syed Akbaruddin served as India’s permanent representative at the United Nations from the year 2016 till 2020.  He has also served as official spokesperson of India’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2011 to 2015. In the field of business and market, we have people like Yusuf Hamied, who is the Managing Director for Cipla for nearly 52 years and has worked for the fight against AIDS. Muslims have achieved high ranks in the Indian Police Service and several of them have attained the rank of Director General of Police and have served as commanders of both state and Central Armed Police Forces. We have Muslim women too, who have played a very important role in making history. Sania Mirza is one of the leading Tennis players in the world. In the recent years, we have seen an emergence of Muslim women in India. The abolition of a discriminatory and a misogynistic law- triple talaq was led by the Muslim women of the country, which was started by Shayara Bano. Their movement had a clear impact and led to their victory which led to the reformation of Muslim Personal Law. At a moment that a large group of Indian Muslim ladies are breaking generalizations by accepting influential positions and incredible positions, it is totally important to quit essentializing the Muslim ladies and perceive the rights that these ladies’ forces and exercise. Acknowledge that brutality and mistreatment isn’t only explicit to Islam and that these restrictions and mental conditionings further forestall the concern’s cooperation and imparts a feeling of separation which doesn’t permit them to utilize their latent capacity. Looking at the above examples it is clear that Muslims are moving forward and have acquired a great place in India. However, the employment rates, literacy rates and health of the Muslim population can be seen declining.

India is a vast country with diverse culture, language, religion and ethnic differences. Religious diversity has a major role in shaping of the political future of the country. Muslims have and are playing an important role in development and progress of the country. The Muslim community forms a sizeable percentage of Indian population and therefore if India has to progress, the community has to be taken along. Due to certain societal, religious and cultural beliefs, Muslim community has not made as much progress as it should have. The community has large percentage of women and children who are uneducated. Poverty and criminal elements drag the community lower on the path of development. It is the responsibility of the State to ensure that all strata of society have equitable share in the country’s growth and therefore, the community must focus on education, employment, health facilities and empowerment of women to make any substantial progress alongside other communities of the country. The state must ensure that there is no polarisation of communities, religious discrimination and equal opportunity to all citizens irrespective of caste, colour, creed and religion. Indian Constitution guarantees equal rights to all its citizens. Adherence to constitutional principles by all stakeholders can only ensure focused and directional growth of the citizens of the country towards wealth, prosperity and peace.


[1] According to 2011 Population Census

[2] Moulana Sayyed Abu-Aala Modoodi , Islam Kaise Phaila?  pp. 18-19, (M.M.I. Publishers, New Delhi, 2004)

[3] Mohammed Farooque, Hindustan Mein Ashaat-E-Islam, pp. 11-12. (M.M.I., New Delhi.)

[4] Phalakeha, Political and Cultural History of India p. 58

[5] 29. Protection of interests of minorities

(1) Any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same

(2) No citizen shall be denied admission into any educational institution maintained by the State or receiving aid out of State funds on grounds only of religion, race, caste, language or any of them

[6] 30. Right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions

(1) All minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice

(1A) In making any law providing for the compulsory acquisition of any property of an educational institution established and administered by a minority, referred to in clause ( 1 ), the State shall ensure that the amount fixed by or determined under such law for the acquisition of such property is such as would not restrict or abrogate the right guaranteed under that clause

(2) The state shall not, in granting aid to educational institutions, discriminate against any educational institution on the ground that it is under the management of a minority, whether based on religion or language

[7] Article 350 A: It enjoins every State and every local authority within the State to provide adequate facilities for the instructions in the mother tongue at the primary stage to children of linguistic minority areas.

[8] Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Zoroastrians (Parsis) and Jains

[9] “National Commission for Minorities (Amendment) Act 1995”. NCM. Government of India. Retrieved 21 May 2015

[10] Alexandar, History of India by, Vol. 3, p. 361. (Publication, London, 1999).