Inscription on Tipu Sultan’s sword exhorting violence against “unbelievers”
“My victorious sabre is lightning for the destruction of the unbelievers. Ali, the Emir of the Faithful, is victorious for my advantage, and moreover, he destroyed the wicked race who were unbelievers. Praise be to him (God), who is the Lord of the Worlds! Thou art our Lord, support us against the people who are unbelievers. He to whom the Lord giveth victory prevails over all (mankind). Oh Lord, make him victorious, who promoteth the faith of Muhammad. Confound him, who refuseth the faith of Muhammad; and withhold us from those who are so inclined from the true faith. The Lord is predominant over his own works. Victory and conquest are from the Almighty. Bring happy tidings, Oh Muhammad, to the faithful; for God is the kind protector and is the most merciful of the merciful. If God assists thee, thou will prosper. May the Lord God assist thee, Oh Muhammad, with a mighty great victory.”
These are the messages that surfaced on social media in Jan. 2014, after the Republic Day parade float from Karnataka, the modern state which includes Tipu Sultan’s old kingdom, featured his large sculpture along with his trademark sword and a tiger. They claim to show English translation of the Inscription on the famous Tipu Sultan’s Sword, which supposedly exhorts violence against the unbelievers (of Islam).
About Tipu Sultan
Tipu Sultan was the ruler of Indian Mysore, now a segment of Karnataka. He ruled the Deccan part of South India around the closing years of the 18th century, and is considered to be the last ruler of India strong enough to dictate terms to the British East India Company. Tipu Sultan is regarded as a hero and a freedom fighter in India and Pakistan, and the British Army’s National Army Museum named him among the Greatest Enemy Commanders that the British Army ever faced.
The Inscription on Sword of Tipu Sultan
The famous Sword of Tipu Sultan was found in Tipu’s bed-chamber after he was defeated by the British on May 4th, 1799. The Sword was publicly presented by General Harris to General Baird, who had led the assault. On behalf of the British Army, it was presented by Major Allan, Deputy Quarter-Master-General in person, at Madras, to Marquess Wellesly after the conquest of Seringapatam, Karnataka, India. On the handle (hilt) of the Tipu Sultan’s steel Sword was the following inscription (translated to English) in praise of the Almighty (Muhammad of Islam):
“My victorious sabre is lightning for the destruction of the unbelievers. Haidar, the Lord of the Faith, is victorious for my advantage. And moreover, he destroyed the wicked race who were unbelievers. Praise be to him, who is the Lord of the Worlds! Thou art our Lord, support us against the people who are unbelievers. He to whom the Lord giveth victory prevails over all (mankind). Oh Lord, make him victorious, who promoteth the faith of Muhammad. Confound him, who refuseth the faith of Muhammad; and withhold us from those who are so inclined. The Lord is predominant over his own works. Victory and conquest are from the Almighty. Bring happy tidings, Oh Muhammad, to the faithful; for God is the kind protector and is the most merciful of the merciful. If God assists thee, thou wilt prosper. May the Lord God assist thee, Oh Muhammad, with a mighty victory.”
The above translation, as taken from the Mysore Gazetteer Volume II written by Historian C. Hayavadana Rao, praises the Islam prophet Muhammad and conveys Tipu Sultan’s thoughts for destruction of the unbelievers. Notably, there were also some stones, coins and gold mohurs that also had similar messages conveying destruction of unbelievers and infidels.
Controversy over Tipu’s Actions
The portrayal of Tipu Sultan as a secular leader is disputed, as some consider him as a religious bigot. There are also accounts stating Tipu Sultan sought to forced conversions of many Hindus to Islam and even destroyed many temples in South India. On the other hand, Tipu Sultan regularly paid annual grants to certain Hindu temples, and he also held some Hindus as his key officers. Some scholars from the 20th century suggest that he in fact often embraced religious pluralism.
According to the Historian Hayavadana C. Rao, who wrote about Tippu in his encyclopedic work on the History of Mysore, the religious fanaticism of Tipu Sultan committed both in Mysore and in the provinces, stand condemned for all time. He also said that the constructive acts of Tippu towards Hindus were largely political and ostentatious (pretentious) rather than an indication of genuine tolerance.
Tipu Sultan Television Drama
Tipu Sultan’s popularity increased in 1990, after an Indian historical drama ‘The Sword of Tipu Sultan‘ was broadcast on the DD National TV channel in India. The drama, based on a novel by Bhagwan Gidwani, was a portrayal of the life and times of Tipu Sultan. However, petitions were filed in the Supreme Court of India against the telecast of this drama, arguing that the controversial serial is full of lies, distortions and white-washed stories about a historical figure who was hated all over South India for his heinous crimes and cruelties. They argued that the TV serial was not based on the real life and deeds of Tipu Sultan, following which the Supreme Court of India gave a judgment that the drama could be telecast, but a notice has to be displayed along with each episode stating: “No claim is made for the accuracy or authenticity of any episode being depicted in the serial. This serial is a fiction and has nothing to do either with the life or rule of Tipu Sultan. The serial is a dramatized presentation of Bhagwan Gidwani’s novel.”
The inscription on the hilt (handle) of Tipu Sultan’s Sword has praises of the Almighty (Muhammad of Islam) and also conveys Tipu’s thoughts for destruction of unbelievers. And Tipu Sultan, as a secular leader, is also disputed. There are allegations that he forced many Hindus to convert into Islam and even destroyed many temples in South India.
And for the Sword of Tipu Sultan, which British invaders took it as a battle trophy after they defeated him 1799, it came back into Indian hands in 2003. The legendary sword was bought by Mr. Vijay Mallya of UB Group for Rs. 1.5 crores, when the descendants of General Baird auctioned it in London in September 2003.
Hoax or Fact:
Ring and sword of Tipu Sultan
Mysore Gazetteer Volume II by C Hayavadana Rao p. 2697
Was India’s Tipu Sultan a hero or a despot?
History of legal battle against the T.V. serial – The Sword of Tipu Sultan
Tipu’s sword is Mallya’