Influence of Islam on Indian Music

Around the 9th century, the Sufis tradition had itself a firm foothold in India. The Sufi mystics are known for their great love for music and acceptance of many indigenous customs. The followers of Nizamuddin Chishti (1324 AD) included the ‘Basant’ and ‘Rang’ celebrations in their religious practices. Similarly during the time of Kaikubad (1287-1290 AD), both Farsi and Hindi songs found a place in performances.

By the 12th century, Islam started making great impact on Indian Music.

Amir Khusro

  • Amir Khusrow was a Sufi mystic and a spiritual disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya. He lived for 72 years, out of which 60 years he lived in the courts of as many as ten different rulers of the Delhi Sultanate.
  • He was a poet as well as prolific musician. His primary language to write poems was Persian but he composed almost half a million verses in Persian, Turkish, Arabic, Braj Bhasha, Hindavi as well as the Khadi Boli. His Khaliq-e-bari, which is known as oldest printed dictionary of the world deals with Hindi and Persian words.
Contribution of Amir Khusro to Indian Music
  • He is regarded as the “father of qawwali”. He is also credited with enriching Indian classical music by introducing Persian and Arabic elements in it, and was the originator of the khayal and tarana styles of music. Khayal later reached to its zenith during the times of Mohammad Shah Rangile and today is integral part of Hindustani classical music.
  • His association with various sultans enabled him to travel and stay in various parts of India and this gave him exposure to various local traditions. This helped him to assimilate diverse musical influences. He was patronized by three Khilji rulers successively.


  • Sharangdeva (1210-1247 AD) is the author of the famous Sangeet Ratnakara. This treatise is so highly regarded that the two important systems of art music in India, Hindustani and Carnatic, try to trace their basic concepts to it.
  • It is divided into seven chapters so also known as Saptadhyayi. Sharangdev was patronized by the Yadavas of Devgiri.
  • The Sangeet Ratnakara explains the construction and the techniques of playing 14 kinds of drums.
  • Sangeet Ratnakar shows that by 13th century, Indian music was started getting highly influenced by Islam. This is evident from some of the names of Rāga mentioned in it such as Turushka Todi and the Turushka Gaud.

Man Singh Tomar

  • Raja Mansingh Tomar of Gwalior (1486-1516 AD) was the driving force behind introducing and consolidating Dhrupad. He is also known to have related the Indian music to the common and laymen by replacing many of the the traditional Sanskrit songs by Hindi songs.
  • Man Singh Tomar is credited with composing three volumes of songs viz. Vishnupadas (songs in praise of lord Vishnu), Dhrupads, and Hori and Dhamar songs associated with Holi.
  • Mansingh’s support gave pride of place to both the Hindu and Muslim musicians.
  • Mankutuhal was the name of a treatise created under the patronage of Raja Man Singh Tomar.