Muhammad bin Qasim
|Muhammad ibn Qasim ath-Thaqafi|
Muhammad ibn Qasim leading his troops in battle
|Born||31 December 695
|Died||18 July 715|
|Allegiance||Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf, Governor to the Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid I|
|Battles/wars||Conquest of Sindh and Multan for the Umayyads.|
‘Imād ad-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Qāsim ath-Thaqafī (Arabic: عماد الدين محمد بن القاسم الثقفي; c. 31 December 695 – 18 July 715) was an Umayyad general who conquered the Sindh and Multan regions along the Indus River (now a part of Pakistan) for the Umayyad Caliphate. He was born and raised in the city of Taif (in modern-day Saudi Arabia). Qasim's conquest of Sindh and southern-most parts of Multan enabled further Islamic expansion into India.
A member of the Thaqeef tribe of the Ta'if region, Muhammad bin Qasim's father was Qasim bin Yusuf who died when Muhammad bin Qasim was young, leaving his mother in charge of his education. Umayyad governor Al-Hajjaj Ibn Yusuf Al-Thaqafi, Muhammad bin Qasim's paternal uncle, was instrumental in teaching Muhammad bin Qasim about warfare and governance. Muhammad bin Qasim married his cousin Zubaidah, Hajjaj's daughter, shortly before going to Sindh.
Due to his close relationship with Hajjaj, Bin Qasim was executed after the accession of Caliph Sulayman ibn Abd al-Malik.
- 1 Umayyad interest in Sindh
- 2 The campaign
- 3 Military and political strategy
- 4 Administration by Muhammad bin Qasim
- 5 Jat clashes with Muhammad bin Qasim
- 6 Treatment of Jats
- 7 Religion
- 8 Death
- 9 Controversy
- 10 Legacy
- 11 See also
- 12 Footnotes
- 13 References
- 14 External links
Umayyad interest in Sindh
According to Berzin, Umayyad interest in the region occurred because of attacks from Sindh Raja Dahir on ships of Muslims and their imprisonment of Muslim men and women. They had earlier unsuccessfully sought to gain control of the route, via the Khyber Pass, from the Kabul Shahi of Gandhara. But by taking Sindh, Gandhara's southern neighbour, they were able to open a second front against Gandhara; a feat they had, on one occasion, attempted before.
According to Wink, Umayyad interest in the region was galvanized by the operation of the Meds and others. Meds (a tribe of Scythians living in Sindh) had pirated upon Sassanid shipping in the past, from the mouth of the Tigris to the Sri Lankan coast, in their bawarij and now were able to prey on Arab shipping from their bases at Kutch, Debal and Kathiawar. At the time, Sindh was the wild frontier region of al-Hind, inhabited mostly by semi-nomadic tribes whose activities disturbed much of the Western Indian Ocean. Muslim sources insist that it was these persistent activities along increasingly important Indian trade routes by Debal pirates and others which forced the Arabs to subjugate the area, in order to control the seaports and maritime routes of which Sindh was the nucleus, as well as, the overland passage. During Hajjaj's governorship, the Mids of Debal in one of their raids had kidnapped Muslim women travelling from Sri Lanka to Arabia, thus providing a casus belli to the rising power of the Umayyad Caliphate that enabled them to gain a foothold in the Makran, Balochistan and Sindh regions.
These Arabs were imprisoned later on by the Governor Deebal Partaab Raye. A letter written by an Arab girl who escaped from the prison of Partab Raye asked Hajjab Bin Yousaf for help. When Hijjaj asked Dahir for release of prisoners and compensation, the latter refused on the ground that he had no control over those. Hajjaj sent Muhammad Bin Qasim for a revenge expedition against the Sindh kingdom in 711 A.D.
The mawali; new non-Arab converts; who were usually allied with Hajjaj's political opponents and thus were frequently forced to participate in battles on the frontier of the Umayyad Caliphate - such as Kabul, Sindh and Transoxania. An actual push into the region had been out of favor as an Arab policy since the time of the Rashidun Caliph Umar bin Khattab, who upon receipt of reports of it being an inhospitable and poor land, had stopped further expeditionary ventures into the region.
Muhammad bin Qasim's expedition was actually the third attempt, the first two having failed due to stiffer-than-expected opposition as well as heat, exhaustion.
Hajjaj had put more care and planning into this campaign than the first campaign  under Badil bin Tuhfa. Hajjaj superintended this campaign from Kufa by maintaining close contact with Muhammad bin Qasim in the form of regular reports for which purpose special messengers were deputed between Basra and Sindh. The army which departed from Shiraz in 710 CE under Muhammad bin Qasim was 6,000 Syrian cavalry and detachments of mawali from Iraq. At the borders of Sindh he was joined by an advance guard and six thousand camel riders and later reinforcements from the governor of Makran transferred directly to Debal by sea along with five catapults ("manjaniks"). The army that eventually captured Sindh would later be swelled by the Gurjars and Meds as well as other irregulars that heard of successes in Sindh. When Muhammad bin Qasim passed through Makran while raising forces, he had to re-subdue the restive Umayyad towns of Fannazbur and Arman Belah (Lasbela) The first town assaulted was Debal and upon the orders of Al-Hajjaj, he exacted a bloody retribution on Debal by giving no quarter to its residents or priests and destroying its great temple.
From Debal the Arab army then marched north taking towns such as Nerun and Sadusan (Sehwan) peacefully. often using their components; additionally one-fifth of the booty including slaves were dispatched to Hajjaj and the Caliph. The conquest of these towns was accomplished easily; however, Raja Dahir's armies being prepared on the other side of the Indus were yet to be fought. In preparation to meet them, Muhammad bin Qasim moved back to Nerun to resupply and receive reinforcements sent by Hajjaj. Camped on the east bank of the Indus, Qasim sent emissaries and bargained with the river Jats and boatmen. Upon securing the aid of Mokah Basayah, "the King of the island of Bet", Muhammad bin Qasim crossed over the river where he was joined by the forces of the Thakore of Bhatta and the western Jats.
At Ar-rur (Rohri) he was met by Dahir's forces and the eastern Jats in battle. Dahir died in the battle, his forces were defeated and a triumphant Muhammad bin Qasim took control of Sind. In the wake of the battle enemy soldiers were put to death - but not artisans, merchants or farmers - and Dahir and his chiefs, the "daughters of princes" and the usual fifth of the booty and slaves was sent on to Hajjaj. Soon the capitals of the other provinces, Brahmanabad, Alor (Aror) and Multan, were captured alongside other in-between towns with only light Muslim casualties. Usually after a siege of a few weeks or months the Arabs gained a city through the intervention of heads of mercantile houses with whom subsequent treaties and agreements would be settled. After battles all fighting men were executed and their wives and children enslaved in considerable numbers and the usual fifth of the booty and slaves were sent to Hajjaj. The general populace was encouraged to carry on with their trades and taxes and tributes settled.
With Sindh secured Qasim sent expeditions to Surashtra, where his generals made peaceful treaty settlements with the Rashtrakuta. Muhammad bin Qasim wrote out letters to "kings of Hind" to surrender and accept Islam, and subsequently 10,000 cavalry were sent to Kannauj asking them to submit and pay tribute before his abrupt recall ended the campaign.
Military and political strategy
The military strategy had been outlined by Hajjaj in a letter sent to Muhammad bin Qasim:
My ruling is given: Kill anyone belonging to the ahl-i-harb [combatants]; arrest their sons and daughters for hostages and imprison them. Whoever does not fight against us...grant them aman [safety] and settle their tribute [amwal] as dhimmah [protected person]...
The Arabs' first concern was to facilitate the conquest of Sindh with the fewest casualties while also trying to preserve the economic infrastructure. Towns were given two options: submit to Islamic authority peacefully or be attacked by force (anwattan), with the choice governing their treatment upon capture. The capture of towns was usually accomplished by means of a treaty with a party from among the enemy, who were then extended special privileges and material rewards. There were two types of such treaties, "Sulh" or "ahd-e-wasiq (capitulation)" and "aman (surrender/ peace)". Among towns and fortresses that were captured through force of arms, Muhammad bin Qasim performed executions as part of his military strategy, but they were limited to the ahl-i-harb (fighting men), whose surviving dependents were also enslaved.
Where resistance was strong, prolonged and intensive, often resulting in considerable Arab casualties, Muhammad bin Qasim's response was dramatic, inflicting 6,000 deaths at Rawar, between 6,000 and 26,000 at Brahmanabad, 4,000 at Iskalandah and 6,000 at Multan. Conversely, in areas taken by sulh, such as Armabil, Nirun, and Aror, resistance was light and few casualties occurred. Sulh appeared to be Muhammad bin Qasim's preferred mode of conquest, the method used for more than 60% of the towns and tribes recorded by Baladhuri and the Chachnama. At one point, he was actually berated by Hajjaj for being too lenient. Meanwhile, the common folk were often pardoned and encouraged to continue working; Hajajj ordered that this option not be granted to any inhabitant of Daybul, yet Qasim still bestowed it upon certain groups and individuals.
After each major phase of his conquest, Muhammad bin Qasim attempted to establish law and order in the newly conquered territory by showing religious tolerance and incorporating the ruling class – the Brahmins and Shramanas – into his administration.
Reasons for success
Muhammad bin Qasim's success has been partly ascribed to Dahir being an unpopular Hindu king ruling over a Buddhist majority who saw Chach of Alor and his kin as usurpers of the Rai Dynasty. This is attributed to having resulted in support being provided by Buddhists and inclusion of rebel soldiers serving as valuable infantry in his cavalry-heavy force from the Jat and Meds. Brahman, Buddhist, Greek, and Arab testimony however can be found that attests towards amicable relations between the adherents of the two religions up to the 7th century.
Along with this were:
- Superior military equipment; such as siege engines and the Mongol bow.
- Troop discipline and leadership.
- The concept of Jihad as a morale booster.
- Religion; the widespread belief in the prophecy of Muslim success.
- The Samanis being persuaded to submit and not take up arms because the majority of the population was Buddhist who were dissatisfied with their rulers, who were Hindu.
- The laboring under disabilities of the Lohana Jats.
- Defections from among Dahirs chiefs and nobles.
Administration by Muhammad bin Qasim
After the conquest, Muhammad bin Qasim's task was to set up an administrative structure for a stable Muslim state that incorporated a newly conquered alien land, inhabited by non-Muslims. He adopted a conciliatory policy, asking for acceptance of Muslim rule by the natives in return for non-interference in their religious practice, so long as the natives paid their taxes and tribute. He established Islamic Sharia law over the people of the region; however, Hindus were allowed to rule their villages and settle their disputes according to their own laws, and traditional hierarchical institutions, including the Village Headmen (Rais) and Chieftains (dihqans) were maintained. A Muslim officer called an amil was stationed with a troop of cavalry to manage each town on a hereditary basis 
Everywhere taxes (mal) and tribute (kharaj) were settled and hostages taken - occasionally this also meant the custodians of temples. Non-Muslim natives were excused from military service and from payment of the religiously mandated tax system levied upon Muslims called Zakat, the tax system levied upon them instead was the jizya - a progressive tax, being heavier on the upper classes and light for the poor. In addition, three percent of government revenue was allocated to the Brahmins.
Incorporation of ruling elite into administration
During his administration, Hindus and Buddhists were inducted into the administration as trusted advisors and governors. A Hindu, Kaksa, was at one point the second most important member of his administration. Dahir's prime minister and various chieftains were also incorporated into the administration.
Jat clashes with Muhammad bin Qasim
|This section requires expansion. (March 2009)|
Passage from the Chachnama
(After capturing Debal and Nerun, Muhammad Bin Qasim then) proceeded to the fort of Ishbahar. It was in the month of Muharram year 93AH, that (he) arrived in the vicinity of that fort. He witnessed the fort (which ) was strong and impregnable. The inhabitants of the fort (hisariyan) were making preparations for the battle and had made a deep moat (khandiqi zart) around the fort. The Jats and the rustics (rustayan) that were living in the western sid (shelter) in the fort fought against Muhammad-i-Qasim for one week displaying the mastery (ustadaqi) of their warfare by demonstrating (their tactic of) seize and hold (dar-u-gir). After that they petitioned Bin Qasim, asking for safety (aman).
Treatment of Jats
The narrative in the Chachnama conveys that Chacha humiliated the Jats and Lohanas. He compelled them to agree to only carry sham swords, to wear no undergarments of shawl, velvet or silk; only wear silk outer garments provided they were red or black in color, to put no saddles on their horses, to take their dogs when they went out, to furnish guides and spies and carry firewood for the royal kitchen. Qasim maintained these regulations, declaring that the Jats resembled the savages of Persia and the mountains. He also fixed their tribute. Jats of Ghasul who had submitted to the Arab rule garrisoned the Ságara and the island of Bait.
There are conflicting views regarding religious policy in his reign. According to some historians, no mass conversions were attempted and the destruction of temples such as the Sun Temple of Multan was forbidden. Lane-Poole writes that, " as a rule Muslim government was at once tolerant and economic". But other historians like Elliot, Cousens, Majumdar and Vaidya have held the view that there was coercive conversion during his reign and destruction of temples was a reflection of the more basic, religiously motivated intolerance.
An eccelastical office, "sadru-I-Islam al affal", was created to oversee the secular governors. While some proselytization occurred, the social dynamics of Sindh were no different from other regions newly conquered by Muslim forces such as Egypt, where conversion to Islam was slow and took centuries.
Muhammad bin Qasim had begun preparations for further expansions when Hajjaj died, as did Caliph Al-Walid I, who was succeeded by Sulayman ibn Abd al-Malik, who then took revenge against all who had been close to Hajjaj. Sulayman owed political support to opponents of Hajjaj and so recalled both of Hajjaj's successful generals Qutaibah bin Muslim and Qasim. He also appointed Yazid ibn al-Muhallab, once tortured by Hajjaj and a son of Al Muhallab ibn Abi Suffrah, as the governor of Fars, Kirman, Makran, and Sindh; he immediately placed Qasim in chains.
There are two different accounts regarding the details of Qasim's fate:
- According to Al-Baladhuri, a 9th-century Persian historian, Qasim was killed due to a family feud with the governor of Iraq. After the death of the caliph Al-Walid I, his brother Sulayman ibn Abd al-Malik became the new caliph. Sulayman became hostile against Qasim because apparently he had followed the order of Hajjaj to declare Sulayman's right of succession void in all territories conquered by him. When Qasim received the news of the death of Hajjaj he returned to Aror. Qasim was later arrested under the orders of the caliph by the successor governor of Sindh, Yazid ibn Kabsha as-Sasaki who worked under the new governor of Iraq, Yazid ibn al-Muhallab and the new fiscal manager, Salih ibn Abd ar-Rahman. Salih whose brother was executed by Hajjaj, tortured Qasim and his relatives to death. The account of his death by Al-Baladhuri is very brief compared to the one in Chachanama.
- The account from the Chachnama narrates a tale in which Qasim's demise is attributed to the daughters of King Dahir who had been taken captive during the campaign. Upon capture they had been sent on as presents to the Khalifa for his harem in the capital Baghdad (however the actual capital was Damascus and Baghdad didn't exist yet). The account relates that they then tricked the Khalifa into believing that Muhammad bin Qasim had violated them before sending them on and as a result of this subterfuge, Muhammad bin Qasim was wrapped and stitched in oxen hides, and returned to Syria, which resulted in his death en route from suffocation. This narrative attributes their motive for this subterfuge to securing vengeance for their father's death. Upon discovering this subterfuge, the Khalifa is recorded to have been filled with remorse and ordered the sisters buried alive in a wall.[dead link]
Whichever account is true is unknown. What is known however is that he was 20 years old when he was killed by his own Caliph. The location of his grave is unknown.
There is controversy regarding the conquest and subsequent conversion of Sindh. This is usually voiced in two antagonistic perspectives viewing Qasim's actions:
His conquest, as described by Stanley Lane-Poole, in Medieval India (Published in 1970 by Haskell House Publishers Ltd), was "liberal". He imposed the customary poll tax, took hostages for good conduct and spared peoples' lives and lands. He even left their shrines undesecrated: 'The temples;, he proclaimed, 'shall be inviolate, like the churches of the Christians, the synagogues of the Jews and altars of the Magians'. In the same text, however, it is mentioned that "Occasional desecration of Hindu fanes took place...but such demonstrations were probably rare sops to the official conscience..".
- Coercive conversion has been attributed to early historians such as Elliot, Cousens, Majumdar and Vaidya. They hold the view that the conversion of Sindh was necessitated. Qasim's numerical inferiority is said to explain any instances of apparent religious toleration, with the destruction of temples seen as a reflection of the more basic, religiously motivated intolerance.
- Voluntary conversion has been attributed to Thomas W. Arnold and modern Muslim historians such as Habib and Qureishi. They believe that the conquest was largely peaceful, and the conversion entirely so, and that the Arab forces enacted liberal, generous and tolerant policies. These historians mention the "praiseworthy conduct of Arab Muslims" and attribute their actions to a "superior civilizational complex".
Various polemical perceptions of Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism are also reflected in this debate. Elliot perceived Islam as a religion of "terror, devastation, murder and rapine" where the conquering Arabs were characterized as "ruthless bigots" and "furious zealots" motivated by "plunder and proselytism". The period of Qasim's rule has been called by U.T. Thakkur "the darkest period in Sind history", with the records speaking of massive forced conversions, temple destruction, slaughters and genocides; the people of Sindh, described as inherently pacifist due to their Hindu/Buddhist religious inclinations, had to adjust to the conditions of "barbarian inroad". On one extreme, the Arab Muslims are seen as being compelled by religious stricture to conquer and forcibly convert Sindh, but on the other hand, they can be seen as being respectful and tolerant of non-Muslims as part of their religious duty, with conversion being facilitated by the vitality, equality and morals of the Islamic religion. Citations of towns taken either violently or bloodlessly, reading back into Arab Sindh information belonging to a later date and dubious accounts such as those of the forcible circumcision of Brahmins at Deybul or Qasims consideration of Hindu sentiment in forbidding the slaughter of cows are used as examples for one particular view or the other.
Some historians strike a middle ground, saying that Qasim was torn between the political expediency of making peace with the Hindus and Buddhists; having to call upon non-Muslims to serve under him as part of his mandate to administer newly conquered land; and orthodoxy by refraining from seeking the co-operation of "infidels". It is contended that Qasim may have struck a middle ground, conferring the status of Dhimmi upon the native Sindhis and permitting them to participate in his administration, but treating them as "noncitizens" (i.e. in the Khilafat, but not of it).
- Qasim's presence and rule was very brief. His conquest for the Umayyads brought Sindh into the orbit of the Muslim world.
- During the troubles between the Abbasid Caliphate and the Umayyad Caliphate the local emirs shook off all allegiance to the caliphs and by the 10th century the region the Umayyad control was destroyed by Mahmud of Ghazni. The Abbasids took this opportunity to set up their own government in Sindh. The Soomra dynasty ruled Sindh as the functionary of the Abbasid Caliphate until the Siege of Baghdad (1258). Mansurah was the capital of the Soomra Dynasty.
- Coastal trade and a Muslim colony in Sindh allowed for cultural exchanges and the arrival of Sufi missionaries to expand Muslim influence. From Debal, which remained an important port until the 12th century, commercial links with the Persian Gulf and the Middle East intensified as Sindh became the "hinge of the Indian Ocean Trade and overland passway."
- Muhammad bin Qasim is often referred to as the first Pakistani according to Pakistan Studies curriculum. Muhammad Ali Jinnah also acclaimed Muhammad Bin Qasim and claimed that the Pakistan movement started when the first Muslim put his foot on the soil of Sindh, the Gateway of Islam in India.
- Bagh Ibne Qasim is the largest park in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan named in honor of Muhammad bin Qasim.
- Jat people in Islamic history
- Battle of Rajasthan
- Qutaibah bin Muslim
- Muslim conquests
- Abdullah Shah Ghazi
- Shaikh Habib Al-Raee
- Al-Hajjaj Ibn Yusuf Al-Thaqafi
- Alexander Berzin, "Part I: The Umayyad Caliphate (661 - 750 CE), The First Muslim Incursion into the Indian Subcontinent", The Historical Interaction between the Buddhist and Islamic Cultures before the Mongol Empire Last accessed September 11, 2007
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- Wink (2004) pg 201-205
- Wink (2004) pg 131
- The Indus River during this time flowed to the east of Nerun, but a 10th-century earthquake caused the river to change to its course.
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- "The fall of Multan laid the Indus valley at the feet of the conqueror. The tribes came in, 'ringing bells and beating drums and dancing,' in token of welcome. The Hindu rulers had oppressed them heavily, and the Jats and Meds and other tribes were on the side of the invaders. The work of conquest, as often happened in India, was thus aided by the disunion of the inhabitants, and jealousies of race and creed conspired to help the Muslims. To such suppliants Mohammad Kasim gave the liberal terms that the Arabs usually offered to all but inveterate foes. He imposed the customary poll-tax, took hostages for good conduct, and spared the people's lands and lives. He even left their shrines undesecrated: 'The temples,' he proclaimed, 'shall be inviolate, like the churches of the Christians, the synagogues of the Jews, and the altars of the Magians.'" Stanley Lane-Poole, Medieval India under Mohammedan Rule, 712-1764, G.P. Putnam's Sons. New York, 1970. p. 9-10
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- Chapter by S Jabir Raza Titled -Passages in the Chachnama,Zainul-Akhbar And Tarikh-i-Baihaqi-Text and Translation, from the book of The Jats, Their Role and contribution to the socio-Economic Life and Polity of North and North -West India, Volume 2, Pages 46 to 47
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- Medieval India by Stanley Lane-Poole, Published by Haskell House Publishers Ltd. NY 1970. Page 10
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- Alexander Berzin, "Part I: The Umayyad Caliphate (661 - 750 CE), The First Muslim Incursion into the Indian Subcontinent", The Historical Interaction between the Buddhist and Islamic Cultures before the Mongol Empire
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