King Shivaji and His Muslim Warriors
This is a short introduction to the contribution of Muslims in the mission of the great king Shivaji (1630-1680)
Shivaji, a Secular King
Shivaji was a great warrior and king of Deccan, India. Many anti-Muslim historians of India have portrayed him as an anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic, and this concept was used by some politicians of India, especially from Maharashtra for their anti-Muslim propaganda.
But was Shivaji an anti-Muslim king? Surely not, because when we study the life of this great king, we find that many of his military officers and associates were staunch Muslims.The fact is that the king had appointed Muslims on the highest posts in many departments, including his Navy and Artillery. Moreover, many of his bodyguards were from Muslim community. These things clearly tell us that Shivaji was not an anti-Muslim king.
Shivaji’s war was against Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and Vijapur Sultan Adilshah. Although both these enemies of the king were Muslims, that does not mean that Shivaji was anti-Muslim. It is notable that the army of Aurangzeb which fought against Shivaji was mainly consisted of Rajput Hindus. On the other hand, the army of Adilshah which fought against king Shivaji consisted of mainly Deccan Hindus. Besides that, Aurangzeb and Adilshah, both were not friends, but the enemies of each other. Also, Shivaji was a close friend of Nizam, a Muslim Sultan of Hyderabad.
The great warrior Shivaji always respected Muslim saints. Yakut Baba, a Sufi Muslim saint was one of the king’s spiritual guides.
The king had ordered his Hindu soldiers, that Muslim women and children should not be maltreated, Mosques should be given a protection and if they find a copy of Kuran while the mission, they should handover it to their Muslim colleagues respectfully.
The king had many Hindu enemies and Muslim friends and vice versa. So the fact is that the war which the king fought was just a political war. It had nothing to do with religion. Shivaji was a secular king, but the biased historians wrote false history which lead India to communal wars and disputes between Hindus and Muslims in 20th Century.
King Shivaji’s Muslim Warriors & Associates
Now, it would be interesting to know about the king’s Muslim warriors and associates.
A major part of the soldiers in Shivaji’s army was of Muslims. The well known instance of recruiting Muslims in the king’s army was the batch of 700 Pathans, who left the army of Adilshah of Vijapur and joined the king.
Shivaji’s kingdom was spread on the west coast of India. He needed to safeguard his kingdom from any invasion from the sea, so he built his own navy. He appointed Daryadarang as the Chief of the Navy. Most of the sailors of the king’s navy were Muslims and fishermen.
The king was not a dependent on traditional method of warfare. He always modernized is army. He launched an artillery department in his army. He appointed Ibrahim Khan as the Chief of the Artillery. Here too we see that most of the soldiers in his artillery were from Muslim community.
Cavalry was another important part of King Shivaji’s army. The strength of the cavalry was 1,50000, out of which about 66,000 troopers were Muslims.
Siddhi Hilal was another brave Muslim chieftain in Shivaji’s army. When the king was on fort of Panhala, the army of Adilshah sieged the fort (1660 C.E.). To rescue the king, Netaji Palkar, one of the famous chieftains in Shivaji's army, attacked the enemy. Netaji Palkar was accompanied by Siddhi Hilal. In this battle, Siddhi Hilal’s son Siddhi Wahwah was seriously injured.
Siddhi hilal was killed in the battle of Nesari. When King Shivaji ordered his Commander in Chief Prataprao Gujar to capture Bahlol Khan, a General of Adilshah who had strength of 15000 force, Prataprao Gujar realized that it was not possible with his 1200 cavalrymen. As the king had ordered Prataprao to not to show face unless Bahlol Khan was captured, Prataprao decided not to let his cavalrymen killed. So he with his six chieftains made a suicide attack on Bahlol Khan’s mighty forces. These 7 men are known as 7 Brave Marathas, one of them was Siddhi Hilal.
Kazi Hyder was an emissary of King Shivaji, who later became a Secretary.
Siddi Ibrahim was a Bodyguard of King Shivaji. When the King met Afazal Khan at Pratap Gadh, Shivaji was accompanied by 3 Body Guards, Siddi Ibrahim was one of them. Afazal Khan tried to kill the King, but he himself got killed.
List of Shivaji’s Muslim Generals, Chieftains,Associates and Officers
The list of the Muslim Generals, associates, chieftains and officers is a very big, and there were at least 50 very important Muslim Generals in Shivaji’s army. Under each of them, there was a big group of Muslim soldiers.
Here is a small list, I will add more names later.