Thursday, October 20, 2005

Arab Conquest of Sind and Multan

Sind and Multan are the two cities of northern India region, which was under the sway of Harsha Vardana of Qannauj, the last great king of Hindu India before the advent of Muslims. When the empire of Harsha fell, the North broke up into small principalities. Rajput clans starting from their original homes establishing the chieftaincies in the Himalayan regions. The Rajputs thus were the masters of India from the Punjab to the Deccan and from the Arabian Sea to Bengal before the Muslims appeared upon the scene.

Not all Rajputs were of the same race. Many of them traced their descent to the ancient Kshatriyas of the Vedic period. But a large number of the Rajput tribes were of non-Aryan. The descendents of the Greeks, the Kushanas, the Huns ECT, who came to India because of their war-like qualities, were absorbed in the Hindu society and given the status of Rajputs.
The Rajput age was one of division and conflict and lack of political unity. Unless literature, art and sciences the condition of society was in eclipse. Doctor Tara Chand wrote, “Society was enfeebled by feudal anarchy and clannish pretensions on the one side and by religious dissensions and priestly selfishness on the other. But although political power suffered an eclipse, literature, art and science still continued to flourish”.
The advent of Muslims in India was marked by the Arab conquest of Sind, though long before that the Arabs already had settlements on the western coast of India. Some historian believed that there were Arabs in Sind before the Arab invasion of Sind, though they were small in number but their presence was significant. According to P. K. Hitti, Muhammad Ibn Qasim, under the order of Hajjaj, advanced in 710 A.D., at the head of a considerable army, of which 6000 were Syrians. He subdued Mukran, pushed on through Baluchistan and in 711-12 reduced Sind, the lower valley and delta of the Indus.
Among the cities captured were the Sea Port Daybul, which had the statue of Buddha, “rising”, said al-Yaqubi, “to a height of forty cubits”, al-Nirun (modern Hyderabad), Siwistan, Brahmanabad and Alor. The conquest was extended (713) as far north as Multan in southern Punjab, but the rest of India was unaffected until the close of the tenth century, when a fresh invasion began under Mahmud of Ghaznah.
The people of the conquered towns welcome Muhammad Ibn Qasim as a liberator and helped him against their petty tyrants. By his conciliatory policy and his attitude of understanding and sympathy, Muhammad Ibn Qasim made himself immensely popular among all classes of people. At the time of his departure, records al-Baladhuri, the Hindus wept and they made an image of him and worshiped it.
The policy of Hajjaj and Muhammad Ibn Qasim was liberal beyond all the expectations of the Sindhis. The Hindus were given the status as enjoyed by the Christian and Jews in the Muslim state, which meant that on payment of Jizyah, their life, honor and property were safe, and they were assured freedom to practice their faith. S. A. A. Rizvi wrote, “An order was received from Hajjaj that, since the people of Sind had accepted the status of protected subjects (zimmi), no interference should be made in their lives and property. They should be permitted to worship freely in their own temples and should also be allowed to build new ones”.
The Jizyah was to be paid only by able-bodied men, who were sufficiently well-to-do, not to find it oppressive. Priests and hermits were exempted, so were women, children, cripples and the poor. If an able-bodied man entered government service, he was exempted from the tax. So long as a man paid Jizyah he could not be forced to join the Muslim army.
The “Chach-nama” details the administrative regulations introduced into Brahmanabad. According to the author, those civilians who had not become Muslims were then divided into three categories for the imposition of Jizyah. The men in the highest income brackets paid 48 dirhams of silver per head, the middle-income groups 24 dirhams and the lowest class 12 dirhams. Tribute was fixed according to their resources.
The treatment to the Brahmins displayed the utmost regard towards them. Titles, favors, costly gifts and robes of honor conferred on them. They were given the post they held under the fallen Brahmin dynasty. They were permitted to collect their customary fees from the merchants, thakuras and common Hindus; the 3% share of government revenue that they had previously received was also reinstated. Some of them were chosen as ministers and advisers. Even certain defense duties were assigned to them.
After the departure of Muhammad Ibn Qasim, the Arabs could not make any material addition to their acquisitions. The strong native powers in Rajputana blocked any extension towards northern India. Muslim power in Sind suffered from two weakness; lack of support from the home government and increasing disunity among the local authorities.
The Muslim rule in the North led to far-reaching effects in the field of culture and learning. Some Sindhi Muslim scholars went and taught at Mecca. The Arab Muslims also came into touch with Indian sciences. They learned from the Hindus some principles of mathematics, astronomy and philosophy. The Arabs introduced some new industries in Sind. They also introduced some new plants. They brought to an end the isolation of the sub-continent.
Muslims lived with the Hindus together. Mutual intercourse led to mutual understanding. Their buildings were erected by the Hindus. Many Hindus had changed their faith and converted to Islam. And many Muslims had changed their faith as well, differed little from those whom they had left. The Hindus and Muslims prepared to find a via media whereby to live as neighbors. The effort to seek a new life led to the development of a new culture, which were neither exclusively Hindu nor purely Muslim. It was indeed a Muslim-Hindu culture.

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  1. Anonymous1:44 PM

    You truly live in a dream world.
    To think of Muhamed of Ghazni as a liberator, is the height of wishful thinking. This guy destroyed and looted Nagarkot, Thanesar, Mathura, Kanauj, Kalinjar, Varanasi, Ujjain, Maheshwar, Jwalamukhi, and Dwarka and Somnath. His armies routinely stripped the temples of their wealth and then destroyed them. He slaugthered tens of thousands of Hindu's to earn himself the title of Ghazi. However, I agree with your statement that Hindu's wept at his comming - from seeing their loved ones getting slaughtered and their daughters being taken off as slaves.

  2. Anonymous6:21 AM

    One who has posted this comment need to know some history.Mohamed bin Qasim did not attack these places.His conquests were limited to Sind. These places are much far away from Sind.Qasim did not put his foothold on these places.When such is the case how could he have stiripped the temples of their wealth and would have destroyed them.Let us not give the credit of such supernatural capability to Mohamad bin Qasim that he could strip and destroy temples being hundreds of miles far away from
    them,without knowing and seeing them.

    The fact that people cried at his departure is recorded in a trust worthy contemporary record. I don't thing the commentator has any record to prove what he says about that fact.

  3. Anonymous5:45 PM

    I like the way you whitewashed the history, all the forced conversion, rapes, murder and pillage have all been censored, nice!

  4. Anonymous2:59 AM

    As a sindhi muslim I tend to agree with G.M.Syed's analysis of the turn of events.

    The truth of the matter is we should seperate Islam with the the horrific invasion of Mohamed Bin Quasim.Bin Qasim was an invader and a brutal one.The heritage and lineage of most sindhi muslims and sindhi hindus are common.When MBQ attacked a lot of people who were hindus had no choice but to accept the rule of the invader after defeat .Most Arab invaders were barbaric and treated the infidels mercilessly.It would be naive to identify and glorify the invader who raped and tortured our ancestors.Although we should be proud of ISLam there is no shame in falsifying history and dis- associating from Hindu Ancestors.
    Our ancestors were the victims and most of them had no option to accept Arab rule and the religion of the invader.However it is a totally different aspect that Islam
    does not propogate the forceful conversion of people and that we are the torchbearers of a great religion.

  5. Destruction and murder are the logical effect of war. What makes it different is the intention of the war. According to Tara Chand, a Hindu writer, the region was in disorder condition under the control of Rajput.

  6. I dont intend to whitewash the history. I dont try to hide the negative story of Muhammad Ghazni. You may see my answer at The spread of Islam to India

  7. Anonymous9:06 PM

    You have been whitewashed yourself, like it or not: believe it or not!

  8. Anonymous4:19 PM

    Most of u are mixing MBQ and Mahmood Ghaznavi any ways both of them did attack but MBQ was better than Mehmood Ghaznavi as he was not a robber.

  9. Anonymous4:08 AM

    I think If all Muslims were brutal and forcefully converted then Muslim shouldn't be in minority in India. This is not rational.


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