Centre for South Indian Studies



By Sahadev K, Associate, Centre for South Indian Studies, Hyderabad.

“ we, trusting to the divine power and aid, and supported by  our holy religion, having come to the resolution of prosecuting a holy war [against them]

..Promoting the prosperity and advantage of the people of Islâm, and of overthrowing the unrighteous Infidels, you will do whatever may be in your power, to increase the lustre of the firm religion of Mahommed… That all Musulmans should unite together; and, considering the annihilation of infidels as a sacred duty, labour, to the utmost of their power, to accomplish that object

The massacre of Hindus, large scale conversion into Islam especially Hindus of Kerala and Kodavas from Coorg are well documented in various literature. These actions of savagery were part of Tipu’s open declaration of ‘Jihad’. He made it clear through his manifesto distributed to a large number of Muslim religious heads that he has declared ‘Jihad’ on the infidels (kafirs) and sought the help and co-operation of Muslims across the country. His letter to various Muslim clerics, nobles across India reveal his clear cut plan for establishing an Islamic state in India, guided by the principles of Islam and Shariah law.

The barbaric manner in which Tipu went about killing innocent Hindus and Christians was well documented by various sources. They were no less in their savagery to the killings of ISIS in recent times, which thanks to modern technology, have been captured in great detail.  Fr. Paulinus of St Bartholomew who spent 14 years in India was residing at the headquarters of the Catholic order in South India at Veropoly when he came to know about the atrocities of Tipu Sultan. While Tipu Sultan was on his way invading up to the borders of the allied states of Travancore and Cochin in 1789, and when the invasion proceeded into these allied states, Veropoly (Varapuzha) was also at great risk being an important location.

Fr Paulinus has narrated in his book that he got the opportunity to communicate with several Christians and Hindus who escaped from the fury and it’s most probably from them that he came to know in detail about these atrocities. The book was published in Italian language in 1796 and in German language in 1798. An English translation of the book titled ‘A Voyage to the East Indies’ translated by William Johnston in 1800. The book contains graphic details of the savagery unleashed by Tipu on the hapless citizens of Calicut. In addition, Tipu’s own letters to his commanders and officials confirm his actions in executions and forceful conversions into Islam. According to Fr Paulinus:

“…first mothers were hanged with their children tied to necks of mothers. That barbarian Tipu Sultan tied the naked Christians and Hindus to the legs of elephants and made the elephants to move around till the bodies of the helpless victims were torn to pieces. Temples and churches were ordered to be burned down, desecrated and destroyed. Christian and Hindu women were forced to marry Mohammadans and similarly their men were forced to marry Mohammadan women. Those Christians who refused to be honoured with Islam, were ordered to be killed by hanging immediately…“


In a  ( Letter No 117) addressed to his Sipahdar, Tipu ordered that after the attack on Kodavas, both the slain and the prisoners are to be converted to Islam.

we have addressed another letter, which is enclosed. You are, in conjunction with him, to make a general attack on the Koorgs, when, having put to the sword, or made prisoners of, the whole of them, both the slain and the prisoners are to be made Musulmans. In short, you must so manage matters, as [effectually] to prevent them from exciting any further sedition or disturbance”

Through another letter  (Letter No. 202) , Tipu narrates that he had had converted into Islam 60,000 Kodavas and incorporated them into his army. The Ahmedy regiment was made up entirely of converts in to Islam from Hindus and Christianity.

“BY the favour of the Almighty and the assistance of the Prophet, we have arranged and adjusted the affairs of the Taalûk of Zufeerâbâd in the most suitable [and satisfactory] manner; the tribe of Koorgs, to the number of fifty thousand men and women,* having been made captives, and incorporated with the Ahmedy class.

Having accomplished this object, we returned prosperously and victoriously to the seat of empire at Putn, on the 11th of Yoosûfy of the year Jullo. This being an event calculated to give strength to the people of Islâm,* we wish that brother all joy on the auspicious occasion.

This letter shows that victory over Kodavas was achieved through the favour of Almighty (Allah) and Prophet Mohammed. Even before the attack was over, Tipu had taken a decision to convert Kodavas into Islam and accordingly ordered his generals to execute his orders.


The brutality of Tipu in his dealings with non-Muslims whom he invariably referred to as kafirs (infidels) came as a shock to many contemporary writers and commentators. Killing thousands of innocent fellow Indians just because they did not accept his condition of conversion to Islam is hardly the quality of a person who is being projected as a ‘ freedom fighter of India’. The intentions of Tipu become very clear when one studies the ‘Manifesto of Jihad’ prepared by Tipu and widely circulated to a large number of Muslim religious chiefs across the country.

In the preface to the book ‘SELECT LETTERS OF TIPPOO SULTAN TO VARIOUS PUBLIC FUNCTIONARIES by William Kirkpatrick published in 1811, the author wrote:

“ Thus, the various murders and acts of treachery, which we see him directing to be carried into execution, were not criminal, but, on the contrary, just, and even meritorious, in his eyes. They might, and most likely did, in a great degree, proceed from a disposition naturally cruel and sanguinary: but, perhaps, an intolerant religious zeal and bigotry were not less active motives to them. The Koran taught him, that it was not necessary to keep faith with infidels, or the enemies of the true religion… With regard to the secret murder of his English prisoners, his dreadful slaughter of the Koorgs and Nairs, and his forcible conversion of so many thousands of the two latter tribes to the Mahommedan faith, he most probably thought such enormities no less warranted, both by the example and precepts of the founder of his religion, than the infraction of oaths and engagements in transactions with unbelievers


Through his letter  ( Lettter No. 265) dated 28th Ahmedy ( 3rd May ), circulated to large number of Kazis, Bakshis, Dewans and other officials, Tipu lamented the decline of the ‘true faith’ and non-promulgation of divine commandments issued in the past under the seal of the last Prophet. In his manifesto replete with quotations from the Quran, he clearly proclaimed his intentions to establish an Islamic state through waging of the holy war (Jihad) on fellow non-Muslim Indians. He ordered recipients of his manifesto to make more copies, explain and distribute it amongst as many ‘people of the faith’. In other words, he wanted every Muslim in the country to understand that Jihad is his holy duty and all should join him in implementation of this divine commandment of Jihad so that ‘the worthless kafirs (infidels) may be chastised by the hands of the faithful, and made either to acknowledge the true religion, or to pay tribute’. In his covering letter enclosing the manifesto, Tipu declared that:

the persons most distinguished here for virtue and excellence, have extracted from the traditions, theological tracts, and commentaries, certain religious doctrines, a copy of which we enclose for your benevolent notice”

Tipu’s manifesto for establishing Islamic state begins as follows:

IN the time of the seal [or last] of the Prophets (with whom be the blessing and peace of God) the divine commands were promulgated. Since then, owing to the decline of the true faith under the succeeding princes, they have ceased to be promulgated: we, therefore, with the help of Almighty God, now issue the aforesaid commands; and, accordingly, the above mentioned commands are enclosed, herewith, under our seal and signature, to serve as a guide to the true faith.

You are, in the best [possible] manner to explain the same to all the people of Islâm, to the Kâzy, and to the other superiors of your Kuchurry [or department], considering the communication thereof to the ignorant as one of the most incumbent and obligatory duties of religion: for such is the recompense of holy war (Jihad) “. You must cause numerous copies of the commands herewith sent to be made, and must distribute the same among the people of the faith, the Kâzies and others belonging to your department, to the end that they may obtain the utmost publicity.

“WHEREAS, in conformity with the commands of God and the Prophet:

Fight with those who do not believe in God, and in the last day; and who do not consider those things as unlawful, which God and his Prophet have prohibited, and profess not the true religion; and [fight] with those, unto whom the scriptures have been given, until they pay tribute (Jiziya) by right of subjection, and be reduced low.’ (Quran 9:29)

Tipu’s proclamation starts with the Quranic verse which calls upon Muslims to wage Jihad against the unbelievers (Kafirs) and collect Jiziya. This sets the tone for the rest of the proclamation and also makes it amply clear that Tipu’s ultimate aim was a not an India free from British rule in which there will be equal respect for all religions and equal treatment of all citizens but a pure Islamic state guided by the principles enshrined in Quran. This should be contrasted against attempts to project Tipu as one of the earliest freedom fighters of India against the British rule in India.

The Tafisir to this Quranic verse by Ibn Al Kathir makes it clear that paying Jizyah is a sign of Kufr and disgrace. ‘The Kafirs should be disgraced, humiliated and belittled. Therefore, Muslims are not allowed to honour the people of Dhimmah or elevate them above Muslims, for they are miserable, disgraced and humiliated. Do not initiate the Salam to the Jews and Christians, and if you meet any of them in a road, force them to its narrowest alley. This is why the Leader of the faithful `Umar bin Al-Khattab demanded his well-known conditions be met by the Christians, these conditions that ensured their continued ‘humiliation, degradation and disgrace.’


….“it is our constant object and sincere intention, that those worthless and “stiff-necked infidels, who have turned aside their heads from obedience to the “true believers, and openly raised the standards of infidelity, should be chastised “by the hands of the faithful, and made either to acknowledge the true religion, “or to pay tribute: particularly at this time, when, owing to the imbecility of “the princes of Hind, that insolent race having conceived the futile opinion, that “the true believers are become weak, mean, and contemptible; and not satisfied “even with this, but, preparing for war, have over-run and laid waste the “territories of the Moslems, and extended the hand of violence and injustice on “the property and honour of the faithful.


Tipu declares that having come to the resolution of prosecuting a holy war [against them], deem it expedient [agreeably to the text], deem it expedient (quotes Quran 7.157) to make known what is the pure Mahommedan law, to all and every class of Musulmans, both far and near, and thereby to extract the cotton of negligence from the ears of their understanding”. We, trusting to the divine power and aid, and supported by our holy religion (Quotes 61:10-13)


Continuing his appeal to fellow Muslim soldiers in service of his opponents as well as Muslim citizens living under other rulers in India, Tipu quoting Quranic verses (Quran 2:9-15), reminds of the great rewards that await the faithful in after life- perpetual life, flowing rivers, great mansion to live in and other luxuries of life.

Do not obey the unbelievers and hypocrites, for certainly God is omniscient and all-wise. They seek to deceive God and those who do believe… “

Reminding Muslims of Quranic verses calling upon them not to obey the unbelievers, Tipu made an open appeal to Muslim soldiers working in the armies of other dominions to follow Quran and break their contractual obligations with infidels and to defect to his army.  Relying upon the Islamic doctrine of Herat, he reminded fellow Muslims that it is their indispensable duty to quit the territories of the unbelieversHerat is defined as ‘emigration from home or place to another land or place for the sake of Allah’. This clearly defined in Quran 4:100 – “And whoever emigrates for the cause of Allah will find on the Earth many [alternative] locations and abundance. And whoever leaves his home as an emigrant to Allah and His Messenger and then death overtakes him – his reward has already become incumbent upon Allah. And Allah is ever forgiving and Merciful

Tipu’s manifesto goes on:

More especially those persons “who, unmindful of the meaning of the sacred text, “have yielded obedience to the infidels, and engaged in the service of those miserable tribes. It is therefore written to all those who reside in the dominions “of the infidels, …“and to whose situation the  verse may be justly applied, that considering it to be their indispensable duty to quit the territories of the unbelievers, “they should repair, with confident hearts and assured minds, to these parts, “where, by the Divine blessing, they shall be still better provided for than they “are at present, and their lives, honour, and property, remain under the protection of God: while such as are without the means of subsistence there, shall “have a suitable allowance made to them here.


Adopting a carrot and stick approach Tipu’s manifesto says

“We have accordingly issued pre-emptory orders throughout our dominions to “this effect: ‘Receive into your protection all persons seeking refuge [in our “territories] and report to the Presence the particulars of their situation, in “order that, if it please God the Aider, due provision may be made for them.’

“Whosoever shall refuse to give ear to these words, or shall contravene their “promulgation, shall be considered as destitute of [every particle of] honour [or “zeal], as a stranger to [or no participator in] the bliss derived from [a steady] faith, “and as deserving to be banished from the presence of God, to be excluded from “the circle of the faithful, and to be accounted as one of the accursed infidels.”

In another letter  ( Letter No. 277) , addressed to Muslim religious heads at Aurangabad, Bajau and Hyderabad, enclosing his manifesto of Jihad on infidels, Tipu sought their assistance in doing whatever they can to promote Islam and overthrow the unrighteous infidels.

we, in the meanwhile, trouble your reverence with the present address, in the confidence that, turning your mind, in an especial manner, to the means of promoting the prosperity and advantage of the people of Islâm, and of overthrowing the unrighteous Infidels, you will do whatever may be in your power, to increase the lustre of the firm religion of Mahommed.

Actuated by similar motives, the persons most distinguished here for virtue and excellence, have extracted from the traditions, theological tracts, and commentaries, certain religious doctrines, a copy of which we enclose for your benevolent notice. We request of your reverence, also, to assist the cause, by your admonitions to the faithful”


In a covering letter ( Letter No. 277) enclosing the manifesto discussed above and which was addressed to different Muslim religious figures at Aurangabad, Bijapur  and Hyderabad, Tipu made a fervent appeal to “Promoting the prosperity and advantage of the people of Islâm, and of overthrowing the unrighteous Infidels, you will do whatever may be in your power, to increase the lustre of the firm religion of Mahommed. … We request of your reverence, also, to assist the cause, by your admonitions to the faithful “

Tipu was, at all times, in communication with various Muslim clerics belonging to the different shrines in peninsular India even though they were under other rulers. The fact that these religious heads exchanged such risky correspondence with Tipu and accepted his regular gifts shows that they were also committed to establishing an Islamic state in India. Motivated solely by their objective, these Muslim clerics were indulging in promoting treason at great personal risk. This in turn encouraged Tipu to rope in their services to take the last Muslim, the message of overthrowing the kafir rulers through Jihad and establishment of Islamic state.


Tipu considered the army of the Nizam of Hyderabad as ‘renegade’ and the Maratha army as ‘infidel army’.  Perhaps no other king at that time classified his opponents based on religion as was done by Tipu for whom everyone had to be evaluated through the eyes of Islam and Quranic teachings.

Tipu did not spare Shah Alam, the Moghul emperor of India, whom he contemptuously called ‘servant of the Marathas. In a letter  (Letter No. 331)  addressed to Kutbudeen Khan dated 29th Daraey (1st August), he questioned the reading of Khutbah in the name of Shah Alam terming it as ‘manifest sin, and repugnant to the laws [usages] of the Muselmâny faith’. He directed that the Khutbah should be read in his name alone.

As to those idiots, who at this time introduce the name of Shâh Allum into the Khûtbah, they act through ignorance; since the real condition of the above-mentioned is this: he is actually enslaved, and a mere cypher; being the servant of Saindeah ( Scindia), at the monthly wages of fifteen thousand rupees. Such being the case, to pronounce the name of a dependent of infidels, in reciting the Khûtbah, is a manifest sin, and repugnant to the laws [usages] of the Muselmâny faith. For these reasons it is written, that the Khuteeb* of that place [Adoni] must be directed to introduce our name constantly in the Khûtbah.


In a letter  Letter No. 71), to Shah Alam, the Moghul emperor at Delhi, Tipu once again reiterated his intention to firmly establish the ‘religion of Mahommed’ and determination to completely destroy the enemies of the faith (Islam).

In a ( Letter No.334), addressed to the Governor of Agra, Mohammed Beg Hamadani enclosing his manifesto of Jihad against kafirs, Tipu once again reiterated his resolve to annihilate the infidels and establish an Islamic state in India.He wanted to encash upon the opportunity offered by teetering Moghul empire in India, setbacks to the Marathas and use the same for ushering in Islamic rule. He also vent his anger on fellow Muslim rulers who had joined hands with the kafirs (infidels).

“ I am now employed in chastising certain Musulman rulers; who, engaging in measures contrary to the rules of Islâm [or the institutes of the faith], are become the allies and supporters of the reprobate(whose end is bad or calamitous) infidels. It is requisite, for the support of [our] religion, that all Musulmans should unite together; and, considering the annihilation of infidels as a sacred duty, labour, to the utmost of their power, to accom­plish that object: to the end that the Ahmedy faith may, day by day, acquire fresh lustre; that the weakness of the empire of Hindustan may be changed for efficient dominion and power; that the abominations of the wicked may find neither habitation nor retreat* within the kingdoms of his Majesty (the Shadow of the Divinity), who is the chief of the vicegerents of Mahommed; and [finally] that the rulers of Islâm may not be put to the blush* before the holy Prophet, on whom be the peace and blessing of God


To NUBBY SHÂH, at BANGALORE; same Date. (14th September.)

“YOU write, “that agreeably to [our] orders, the Pagoda which was “in front of the blessed Durgâh [or shrine] has been demolished, but “that the Aumil will not resign [to you] the ground [on which it stood].” It is known. The Aumil will make over the aforesaid ground [to you], when you must annex the same to the premises of the Durgâh.”


Tipu invariably described his victories as victory for Islam and flourishing of the religion of Mohammed. For him, wars were not fought for territorial or strategic reasons but always for the crushing of kafirs and establishment of an Islamic state.

In a letter  (Letter No. 385) addressed various Muslim religious heads and Peerzadeh, Tipu gloated over the victory of Islam over Kafirs and sent along a number of gifts to them. He sought their assistance in advancing the religion of Mohamed and support for Islam.

“ BY the blessing of God and the aid of the Prophet, the forces of the accursed having experienced a signal defeat and chastisement, have turned their faces to flight, leaving the troops of Islâm victorious over the enemies of the faith. Thus has the army of the accursed infidels been trodden under foot by the hoofs of the horses of Islâm, and rendered vile and miserable; while the religion of Mahommed has been thereby made to flourish.You, Sir, are one of the elders [of the faith], and will therefore apply, with all your heart, to the best means of advancing the religion of Mahommed, and of administering to the support of Islâm.”

Thus it can be observed that Tipu was hardly a freedom fighter seeking to liberate India from the yoke of British rule. Tipu was a hard core Islamist committed to establishing a full-fledged Islamic state in India as proved abundantly by his manifesto of Jihad implemented through various acts of barbarism and savagery. In the ruthless pursuit of his religious fanaticism, he unleashed massive destruction of life and property on his fellow Indians.



UNDRY OTHER PERSONS.  ARRANGED AND TRANSLATED BY WILLIAM KIRKPATRICK, Colonel in the Service of the Honorable East-India Company   —   1811


2) A Voyage to the East Indies: Containing an Account of the Manners, Customs, etc. of the Natives, with a Geographical Description of the Country … Collection – Travel and Exploration in Asia) by Paolino da San Bartholomaeo (Author), John Reinhold Forster (Editor), William Johnston (Translator).

3) Tipu Sultan the tyrant of Mysore by Sandeep Balakrishna





Nothing can be worse written than the original of this miserable circular. Though short, it is, perhaps, as perplexed a production as any that ever proceeded from the pen of the Sultan, who, most probably, dictated every word of it. The proclamation to which it refers, and which immediately follows it in my manu­script, is in a better style, and was, no doubt, drawn up by some of the Mahommedan theologians of his court.


A translation of the proclamation here mentioned, appeared, in the year 1793, in the Appendix to Major Dirom’s judicious and interesting Narrative of Lord Cornwallis’s last Campaign against Tippoo Sultan; and if that publication were not now become very scarce, it would be sufficient, perhaps, to refer the reader to it, for the document in question: it is proper, however, to observe, that the Persian original, from which Colonel Read’s translation was taken, appears to have differed, in some respects, from the copy recorded in the official register. Of the latter the following is a faithful version, for which I am, in a great measure, indebted to the kindness of Mr. Stewart, Persian, Arabic, and Hindostâny Professor at the Honorable the East-India Company’s Oriental College at Hertford. The original abounds so much in quotations from the Koran, and my knowledge of the Arabic is so limited, that, without such assistance, I should have hesitated at submitting a translation of it to the reader.

Although it is probable, that the immediate object of the Sultan, in the foregoing proclamation, or manifesto, was to seduce from their allegiance, and draw over to his standard, the Musulman subjects of the two powers, with whom he was, at this time, at open war, yet there can be but little doubt that the English, together with their dependants and tributaries, were also in his contemplation on the occasion. It is true, that the latter are not expressly named: neither are the Mahrattahs nor the Nizâm. Indeed, with regard to the Nizâm, he could not have been distinctly referred to without an apparent absurdity, since he was a Mahommedan as well as Tippoo; who, nevertheless, certainly regarded him in the light of an infidel, because he had, more than once, associated with infidels against the cause of Islâm, that is to say, in opposition to him (Tippoo). The argument, therefore, was addressed generally to all Musulmans, in whatever manner subject to the enemies, direct or indirect, of the true faith. There was no danger of its not being properly applied and understood by those for whom it was intended: no Musulman is ever at a loss to comprehend

The drift of such appeals. At the same time, if any exception had been taken to it by the English, the vague and general terms in which it is expressed would have enabled him to maintain, with sufficient plausibility, that he had only in view such Musulmans as were living under the authority of those with whom he was actually at war.


There is one passage in the foregoing production, which appears to point more particularly than any other to the English. It is that wherein he complains, not, as in Major Dirom’s translation, of ravages committed in his peculiar territories, but (according to my copy of this paper) of the injuries and losses which the Musulmans in general had sustained at the hands of the infidels; alluding distantly (as on other occasions he has done more openly) to our establishment in Bengal, the Carnatic, and other Mahommedan states of India. On the whole, it must be allowed, that the extensive views of aggrandizement, entertained at this time by the Sultan, are abundantly developed by this curious document.


* * * *


No doubt, the proclamation, or manifesto, at page 293, is the enclosure here referred to, and which, hitherto, had probably been circulated only in the terri­tories dependent on Mysore. But as the chief design of the Sultan, in that address, was to draw to his standard the Musulman subjects of other states, and particularly such as lived under the authority of his immediate enemies, it was necessary that it should be promulgated far and near. What means he adopted for this purpose, with respect to more distant countries, or whether he made any attempt to introduce the document in question into the British dominions, does not appear: but here we see him selecting as his instruments for publishing it, and promoting its proposed effect, within the dominions of the Mahrattahs and of the Nizâm, persons actually residing under the protection of, and owing alle­giance to, those very powers; and who, consequently, could neither pray for the success of his arms, nor contribute their endeavours to supply him with recruits (which was his chief object on the present occasion), without a violation of their civil duties, or without exposing themselves to the most imminent danger. Tip­poo, however, did not allow himself to be restrained by considerations of this nature. He was, at all times, in communication with the priests belonging to the different shrines, or places of peculiar sanctity among Musulmans, that are scat­tered over the Peninsula, but not one of which, I believe, was included within his own dominions. The only thing to be wondered at, on this occasion, is the temerity of the reverend personages who engaged in such a hazardous correspon­dence; for though it does not appear how the present letter was received by the individuals to whom it was addressed, the records found at Seringapatam afford abundant proof, that the Sultan, throughout his reign, stood high in the favour of this particular class. For this distinction he might, in some degree, be indebted to the gifts which he occasionally bestowed on them; but he, most probably, owed it principally to their bigotry. He fought avowedly for the glory and extension of their religion; and that, with zealots, would be a sufficient apology for treason, as well as a sufficient motive for risking their personal safety in the advancement of his cause.



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