India has an age old history of mixed social fabric, i.e. Hindustani Tehzeeb which is an amalgamation of the esoteric spiritual Yoga and Bhakti streams synergizing with Sufi ideology propounded by Sufi masters who arrived in India from Iran, Iraq and Central Asia.
The period pre-dated the Mughals, who also never visited Mecca and Madina for Haj, and instead undertook Ziyarat to Dargahs, tying Mannats, even paying homage to Hindu shrines (the great Akbar, founder of Deen-e-Elahi had visited Khawaja Chisti as well as Hindu shrines like Jwalaji, conforming a composite Hindu-Muslim culture prevailed during that time). Hindus followed a similar practice without any religious refrain.
Muslims in medieval India had maintained distance from holy cities in Arabia and developed their own sacred sites, i.e. Dargahs, Ibadatkhanas, Mazars, which were commonly thronged by Hindus as well, and evolved as the foundation stone of the syncretic ‘Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb’. During that period, Parsi language and culture of Iran were favoured over Arabic due to the former’s Sufis origination and the tolerant nature of Safavid Regime there.
This Indo-Islamic civilisation which emerged out of seamless convergence of the Sufi and Bhakti threads sowed the seeds of Hindu-Muslim brotherly equations on Hindustani soil.
(Based on excerpts from book ‘The Islamic Connection South Asia and Gulf, by Christophe Jaffrelot, a senior Research fellow at the Centre de Recherches Internationales-Sciences Po in Paris)