Did medieval muslim rulers destroy Hindu temples to save Hindus from being looted?

Recently I saw a press report that stated that Imran Khan has said that Sultan Mahmud of Ghazny looted and destroyed Somnath temple in order to stop the looting of Hindu devotees. Is this claim true?

Why did Gaznavi destroy Hindu temples? This question was asked by Raja of Delhi, Anundpal in the year 1011 ce to the most famous (or infamous) of Islamic invaders Sultan Mahmud of Gizhnevy on the eve of the destruction of the temple of Tahnesur.

‘The Raja’s brother, with two thousand horses was also sent to meet the army, and to deliver the following message:- “My brother [Anundpal] is the subject and tributary of the King, but he begs permission to acquaint his Majesty, that Tahnesur is the principal place of worship of the inhabitants of the country: that if it is required by the religion of Mahmood to subvert the religion of others, he has already acquitted himself of that duty, in the destruction of the temple of Nagrakote. But if he should be pleased to alter his resolution regarding Tahnesur, Anundpal promises that the amount of the revenues of that country shall be annually paid to Mahmood; that a sum shall also be paid to reimburse him for the expense of his expedition, besides which, on his own part, he will present him with fifty elephants, and jewels to a considerable amount.” Mahmood replied, “The religion of the faithful inculcates the following tenet: ‘That in proportion as the tenets of the Prophet are diffused, and his followers exert themselves in the subversion of idolatry, so shall be their reward in heaven;’ that, therefore, it behoved him, with the assistance of God, to root out the worship of idols from the face of all India. How then should he spare Tahnesur?’

History of the Rise of the Mahomedan Power in India by John Briggs
Translated from the Original Persian of Mahomed Kasim Ferishta

Islamic invaders in fact did not consider Hindu worship as acceptable to God. I am posting a true incident that happened in the year 1500 ce.

It is mentioned that about this period a brahmin, whose name was Boodhun, and inhabitant of Kataen, near Luknow, being upbraided by some Mahomedans on account of his faith, maintained “that the religions of the Moslems and Hindoos, if acted on with sincerity, were equally acceptable to God.”

As this opinion has been supported with some ingenuity, and much argument, by the brahmin, the subject came to be discussed publicly before the kazies of Luknow, and the brahmin was ordered to appear. On this occasion, Kazy Peeala and Sheikh Budr, both residing at Luknow, had different opinions; and the arguments of the brahmin having made some stir in the city. Azim Hoomayoon, the governor, thought fit to senf all the parties to court at Sumbhul, where the King [Sikundur Lody Afghan], who was fond of hearing disputations on religious subjects, directed the most learned men in his empire to assemble and argue the point of faith with the brahmin. The following persons were accordingly brought together….. Besides which were the learned men who usually attended the court; such as Syud Sudur-ood-Deen of Kunowj, Meean Abdool Rahman of Seekry, Meeas Azeez-oolla of Sumbhul.

All these persons were present at this disputation. After many arguments, the learned men were of opinion, that unless the infidel, who had maintained the Hindoo worship to be equally acceptable to God, as that of the true faith, should renounce his error, and adopt the Mahomedan religion, he ought to suffer death. The Hindoo refused to apostatise, and was accordingly executed, while the Musalman doctors were rewarded with gifts, and returned to their respective homes.

History of the rise of the Mahomedan Power in India by John Briggs

Translated from the original Persian of Mahomed Kasim Ferishta

Imran Khan cannot possibly be right. His claim, probably popular in Pakistan, is simply revisionism.

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