Chach Nama

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Sindh in 700 AD, under the Brahmin dynasty.

The Chach Nama (Sindhi: چچ نامو‎; Urdu: چچ نامہ‎; "Story of the Chach"), also known as the Fateh nama Sindh (Sindhi: فتح نامه سنڌ‎; "Story of the conquest of Sindh"), and as Tarekh-e-Hind wa Sindh (Arabic: تاريخ الهند والسند‎‎; "History of India and Sindh"), is one of the main historical sources for the history of Sindh in the seventh to eighth centuries CE, written in Persian.

The text, with the stories of early 8th-century conquests of Muhammad bin Qasim, has been long considered to be a 13th-century translation into Persian by `Ali Kufi of an undated, original but unavailable Arabic text.[1][2][3] According to Manan Ahmed Asif, the text is significant because it was a source of colonial understanding of the origins of Islam in the Indian subcontinent through Sindh region and influenced the debate on the partition of British India. Its story has been a part of state-sanctioned history textbooks of Pakistan, but the text in reality is original and "not a work of translation".[4]

Contents[edit]

It contains an introductory chapter about the history of Sindh just before its conquest by the Arabs. The body of the work narrates the Arab inclursions into Sindh of the 7th-8th centuries CE.[5] Thus it chronicls the Chacha Dynasty's period, following the demise of the Rai Dynasty and the ascent of Chach of Alor to the throne, down to the Arab conquest by Muhammad bin Qasim in early 8th century CE.[6] The text concludes with 'an epilogue describing the tragic end of the Arab commander Muḥammad b. al-Ḳāsim and of the two daughters of Dāhir, the defeated king of Sind'.[7]

Historical Significance[edit]

As one of the only written sources about the Arab conquest of Sindh, and therefore the origins of Islam in India, the Chach Nama is a key historical text that has been co-opted by different interest groups for several centuries, and it has significant implications for modern imaginings about the place of Islam in South Asia. Accordingly, its implications are much disputed.[8]

According to Manan Ahmed Asif, the Chach Nama has been historically significant. It was a source of colonial understanding of the origins of Islam in the Indian subcontinent through Sindh region.[9] The text has been one of the source of historiography and religious antagonism during the South Asian people's struggles to gain independence from the colonial British Empire.[10] The text, states Asif, has been a source of colonial construction of a long history of religious antagonism between Hindus and Muslims, and one of narratives of Muslim origins in South Asia by various 20th-century historians and writers.[11] It has been a part of state-sanctioned history textbooks of Pakistan.[4] The story of 17 year old Muhammad bin Qasim attack on "Pak-o-Hind" was mentioned by the Pakistani professional Faisal Shahzad prior to his 2010 Times Square car bombing attempt.[12]

Origins, authorship, and preservation[edit]

Translation of Arabic original[edit]

As we have it today, the Chach Nama is the work of ʿAlī b. Ḥāmid b. Abī Bakr Kūfī. He was writing in Persian, but claimed to be translating a book in Arabic, which he had discovered among the possessions of the ḳāḍī of Alōr, Ismāʿīl b. ʿAlī ... b. ʿUthmān al-Thaḳafī (who was appointed the first kādī of Alōr by Muhammad Kāsim after the conquest of the Sindh.[13])[14] According to Y. Friedmann,

a comparison between the Čač-Nāma and Arab historians such as Balādhurī [...] bears out the Arab provenance of those parts of the book that describe the battles leading to the conquest of Sind; Kūfī might well have used Madāʾinī’s Kitāb Thaghr al-Hind and Kitāb ʿUmmāl (or Aʿmāl) al-Hind [...] The Čač-Nāma seems to have preserved Madāʾinī’s tradition concerning India in a much fuller fashion than classical Arab histories. On the other hand, the book also comprises a considerable amount of material which probably reflects a local Indian historical tradition. The part dealing with the rise of the Čač dynasty (14-72), the story of Darōhar, Djaysinha and Djanki (229-234), and some traditions attributed to a Brahman called Rāmsiya (179) and to “some Brahman elders” (baʿḍī mashāyikh-i barāhima) (197; cf. also 20614) deserve to be mentioned in this context.[15]

The Chach Nama survived in the following key manuscripts: British Library Or. 1787; India Office, Ethé 435.[2]

Original work[edit]

According to Manan Ahmed Asif, no Arabic original existed and the work was an original work by ʿAlī in 1226 CE, created to gain favor in the court of Nasiruddin Qabacha.[16] Asif states that the Chach Nama is centred on the historical figure of Muhammad bin Qasim found in extant Arabic manuscripts, but the 13th-century text is different, creatively extrapolating the alternative versions.[17] For example, the version of Qasim story found in the Kitab Futuh al-Buldan of the 9th-century Al-Baladhuri and the version found in memoirs of 11th-century Al-Biruni, are much simpler, "markedly different" in structure, circumstances and martial campaign than that elaborated in the Chach Nama.[18] In the Baladhuri version, for example, Qasim does not enter or destroy budd (temples) or call them "like the churches of the Christians and the Jews and the fire houses of the Magians".[19] Further the Baladhuri version of the Qasim story repeatedly credits the monks and priestly mediators of Hind with negotiating peace with him, while Chachnama presents a different martial version. The Chach Nama drew upon Baladhuri's work, and others, as a template for the political history, but created a different and imaginative version of events. According to Asif, "there is little reason for us to consider the facticity" of verses in the Baladhuri's version either, an account written to glorify the martial conquest of courtly Abbasid times and composed over 200 years after Qasim's death. The Chachnama is a romantic work influenced by the 13th-century history, not a historical text of the 8th-century, states Asif.[20]

Accuracy[edit]

The Táríkh Maasúmí, and the Tuhfatulkirám are two other Muslim histories of the same period and, on occasion, give differing accounts of some details. Later Muslim chronicles like those by Nizamuddin Ahmad, Nurul Hakk, Firishta, and Masum Shah draw their account of the Arab conquest from the Chach Nama.[citation needed]

Scholars such as Peter Hardy, André Wink and Yohanan Friedmann, question the historical authenticity and political theory embedded in the Chachnama because of its geographical errors, glaring inconsistencies with alternate Persian and Arabic accounts of the Qasim story, and the missing Arabic tradition in it even though the text alleges to be a Persian translation of an Arabic original.[21][3][22]

Editions and Translations[edit]

  • Elliot, H. M. and Dowson, John. (1867). Chach-Nama. In The History of India: As Told by its Own Historians - The Muhammadan Period, Volume 1, pp. 131–211. London: Trubner. (Description and partial translation.)
  • The Chachnamah, An Ancient History of Sind, Giving the Hindu period down to the Arab Conquest. (1900). Translated from the Persian by Mirza Kalichbeg Fredunbeg. Karachi: Commissioners Press. (Online at: Persian Packhum)
  • Makhdūm Amīr Aḥmad and Nabī Bakhsh Ḵhān Balōč, Fatḥ-Nāmayi Sind, Ḥaydarābād (Sind) 1966. (Sindī translation and commentary.)
  • Nabi Bakhsh Khan Baloch, Chachnama (Islamabad, 1983). (Annotated critical edition.)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Asif, A Book of Conquest (2016), p. 8–15.
  2. ^ a b Friedmann, Y (1981), P. Bearman; et al., eds., ČAČ-NĀMA in Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition, Brill Academic Publishers, doi:10.1163/1573-3912_islam_sim_8436 
  3. ^ a b Friedmann, The origins and significance of the Chach Nāma 1984.
  4. ^ a b Asif, A Book of Conquest (2016), p. 4–15, 20
  5. ^ Y. Friedmann, “Čač-Nāma”, in Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition, ed. by P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, and W.P. Heinrichs (Leiden: Brill, 1981). Consulted online on 04 December 2016 DOI:10.1163/1573-3912_islam_SIM_8436.
  6. ^ The Chachnamah, An Ancient History of Sind, Giving the Hindu period down to the Arab Conquest. (1900). Translated from the Persian by Mirza Kalichbeg Fredunbeg. Karachi: Commissioners Press.
  7. ^ Y. Friedmann, “Muḥammad b. al- Ḳāsim”, in Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition, ed. by P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, and W.P. Heinrichs (Leiden: Brill, 1981). Consulted online on 04 December 2016 DOI:10.1163/1573-3912_islam_SIM_8436.
  8. ^ E.g. Syed Nomanul Haq, 'Gujarati Sandals in Baghdad: Decolonising History' [review of Manan Ahmed Asif, A Book of Conquest: The Chachnama and Muslim Origins in South Asia (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016)], Herald (19 November 2016), http://herald.dawn.com/news/1153594/gujarati-sandals-in-baghdad-decolonising-history.
  9. ^ Asif, A Book of Conquest (2016), p. 5–6: "this thirteenth-century Persian text became, in colonial understanding, a history of Muslim origins".
  10. ^ Asif, A Book of Conquest (2016), p. 3–6
  11. ^ Asif, A Book of Conquest (2016), p. 3–9
  12. ^ Asif, A Book of Conquest (2016), p. 8–9
  13. ^ History of Sind. Vol. II. (In two parts) Part II—Giving the Reigns of the Kalhórahs and the Tálpurs down to the British Conquest. Translated from Persian by Mirza Kalichbeg Fredunbeg, Chapter IV.
  14. ^ Y. Friedmann, “Čač-Nāma”, in Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition, ed. by P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, and W.P. Heinrichs (Leiden: Brill, 1981). Consulted online on 04 December 2016 DOI:10.1163/1573-3912_islam_SIM_8436.
  15. ^ Y. Friedmann, “Čač-Nāma”, in Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition, ed. by P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, and W.P. Heinrichs (Leiden: Brill, 1981). Consulted online on 04 December 2016 DOI:10.1163/1573-3912_islam_SIM_8436.
  16. ^ Asif, A Book of Conquest (2016), p. 8–16
  17. ^ Asif, A Book of Conquest 2016, pp. 38–44, 59-65.
  18. ^ Asif, A Book of Conquest 2016, pp. 26, 38–44, 59-65, 110-112.
  19. ^ Asif, A Book of Conquest 2016, pp. 38–44.
  20. ^ Asif, A Book of Conquest 2016, pp. 2-16, 40, 33–44.
  21. ^ Peter Hardy (1982), Is the Chach Nama intelligible as Political Theory?, in Sind through the Centuries, Ed: Hamida Khuro, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195772500, pages 111-117
  22. ^ Andre Wink (2002), Al-Hind, the Making of the Indo-Islamic World: Early Medieval India and the Expansion of Islam 7th-11th Centuries, Brill Academic, ISBN 978-0391041738, pages 192-196

Bibliography[edit]

Further reading[edit]