Why is that Bangladesh has sizeable muslim population whereas West Bengal has sizeable Hindu population?

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  • 1 decade ago
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    I am from Bangladesh, but was born and raised in Karachi-Pakistan. I came back to Bangladesh after liberation. I would wonder the same question as to why the two wing of Pakistan was separated by India about 1000 miles and Bangladesh is like a 'pocket' inside the mighty India. How come we are still a free country when so many smaller independent countries were merged or annexed by India? The main reason may be the religion. In Bangladesh approximately 85% people are Muslims and about 10% Hindu and 5% Christian & Buddhist combined. We would find a lot of differences between Bengali of Bangladesh and Bengali of India. Among Indian Bengalis may be 90% are Hindus and 5% Muslims and 5% Buddhists & Christian combined. But the answer to your question lies in the history. The Turkish, Afghan and Arab came to this land many times and converted the lower cast Hindus into Muslims. These deprived Hindus found tremendous advantages in the religion Islam, by way of unanimity of the people in front of Allah (God). Thus they strictly adhered to this religion that has emancipated from religious persecution and division that Hinduism promotes by way of sect system. Thereafter, no turning back and people of this region of Bangladesh became stronger in religious faith.

    On the other hand, the upper class Hindus and educated people dominated the West Bengal and Calcutta in particular. Since they were in an already advantageous position in society and life, they had no reason to convert into Islam and becoming Muslim. You may find history in the following lines:

    Indian society under the British rule was divided into various geographic, linguistic, religious, and cultural groups. Numerically, the two largest religious groups were Hindus and Muslims, though it would be anachronistic to assume a conscious identity for either of the two groups in the early British period.

    Even though Islam originated in Arabia, the combination of its beliefs in absolute Good and Evil, the Goodness of the one God, the religious duty of Man to side with Good over Evil in all matters, and the resulting injunction to fight political authority that interfered in this — none of which singly was new in the religious landscape of humanity — lead to its zealous spread around the world. The religion forbade them from residing permanently under political power that could conflict with their religious allegiance and its extremely democratic roots appealed strongly to the oppressed classes in the by then barrier ridden cultures around the world. As it moved it imbibed the existing knowledge — from Byzantium (Rumi), Persia, India, Egypt, — and created a distinctly Islamic, even though not entirely homogenous, culture. On the religious front, the eternal thirst for the Truth lead to extensive investigations — with the Qalamis studying the Qur’an using Greek philosophy and mysticism, the Mutajilas trying to understand the nature of God and afterlife, the Kadaris and the Jabaris analyzing the independence of Man, and the Kiramitas questioning the idolization of even the Kaba.

    But possibly the most far reaching divides occurred when Islam overran the traditionally deeply hierarchical society of Persia, a society with both a strong belief in the eternal fight between Good and Evil and in the almost divine status of the ruler. It stood to logic in this collective mind that in ambiguous matters, the actions and statements of the leaders, Ali in particular, were the chief religious guide; whereas in the democratic spirit of Islam, elsewhere no none person could be considered infallible. Goodness of God, however, was reflected in Ijma, or collective wisdom of the thinkers, and this was a surer guide to truth. This initial split between the Shi'a and Sunni schools proved to have a lasting impact on the religion. The form of Islam that dominated Indian political thought in the medieval age came through Turkey and Afghanistan, and was distinctly Sunni, though strongly affected by the Persian court and culture. Its medium was Urdu which was mainly a local dialect with large amounts of vocabulary borrowed from strongly sanitized Persian. But the basic Sunni nature lead to a larger emphasis on the original texts in India, and it became a center for production of such manuscripts.

    A Persian stream of thought, however, was to have an ultimately much larger effect on the religious consciousness in Bengal. The stirrings of this mystic school of thought can be seen as the Noor (light) of God in the Qur’an itself, but we find it as a fully formed Sufi thought somewhat later. It is unclear today where all the different components arose — the striving for the merger of the inner light with the universal, the asceticism that can lead to that goal, the strong emphasis on the Murshid (teacher) in making this possible, the almost infallibility of the Imam and the Hujjat (religious guide), and the concept of Ana-l-haq (the unity of Man and God) — but influence of existing religions, including Persian Zoroastrianism and Hindu and Buddhist philosophy that had diffused from India, can certainly not be excluded. In any case, when this came to India, it so identified with the Bhakti (devotion) movement in Indian religions which originated in the South and the East, that it was common for people to simultaneously revere both the Sufi and the Hindu saints. Indian culture hungrily accepted the wonderful poems of Maulana Jalal uddin Rumi, of Firdausi and Sadi, of Hafiz and Saki, and even the almost agnostic Umar Khayyam.

    This, by no means, represent the only approach at a religious synthesis: apart from the historical examples such as Dara Shikoh and Akbar, and of movements by Shri Chaitanya, we find isolated sects like the Khojas lead by Aga Khan who originated as Shias but accepted the avatars of Vishnu; the Matiyas of Naosari who accept the fast on Ramadan and the burial of the dead but Brahmins performing marriage ceremony; and the Rajputs of Malekana who cannot be classified cleanly either. But such sects remained isolated: The reality of Muslim domination guaranteed the well-born Muslim economic and political power that often united them as a class; people of other religions stayed as Dhimmis in the Muslim kingdoms, sometimes, but not always, taxed with the jijiya.

    With the advent of the modern era, Muslims worldwide started loosing this dominance: dar-al-islam started reverting back to dar-al-harb. The explicit conflict with the ultra-orthodox interpretation of their religion that this engendered led to the Wahhabi movement — a return to Muhammad's direct ideals — and a pan-Islamic movement started by Syed Jamal-ud-din al-Afghani. They found a resonance among the Indian Muslims.

  • Elly
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    Bangladesh was originally a part of Pakistan that was founded in 1947 as a Muslim state that was seperated from India because of the religious conflict between Muslims and Hindus in India. This happened at the same time as the British rule in India ended. There were expulsions of Muslims from India to Pakistan and of Hindus from Pakistan to India, so that Pakistan became an almost completely Muslim country, but there is still a large Muslim minority in India. Bangladesh was seperated from the rest of Pakistan in 1971.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Simply, at the time of division pakistan is given a part of bengal with muslim majority and india retain with part with hindu majority

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Probably came from the Muslim advances between 1200 and 1500.

    That's why there is a sizable Islamic faction in France and Spain.

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