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Muhammad bin Qasim
Muhammad bin Qasim, an Umayyad general, was born in 695 CE. His full name was Imad ad Din Muhammad bin Qasim. He was born and raised in Taif. He belonged to Thaqif tribe. His father, Qasim bin Yusuf, was governor of Basra that was a cosmopolitan city at that time. He was married to his cousin Zubaidah daughter of Al Hajjaj bin Yusuf viceroy of Iraq. He was a great warrior in his teens. He was educated by Al Hajjaj in military and administrative affairs. He became governor of Fars, Iran in his early teens. He was made governor after suppressing the rebellious Kurds in Iran. Later, he strengthened his roots in Shiraz by building royal villa and army camp and also strengthened in Jurjan as well. Regarding, Muhammad bin Qasim it is documented in Chachnama that a Shia notable, Attiya ibn Saad Awfi was asked to curse Ali (A.S) the fourth caliph. On his refusal he was punished with 400 lashes by Muhammad bin Qasim on the order of Al Hajjaj. However, some historians disagree with this point.
The most important conquest by Muhammad bin Qasim is the conquest of Sindh. He leaded the campaign under the patronage of Umayyad Caliphate. There are 2 narratives of historians regarding the reason for this campaign. These are as under;
- The pirates of Debul looted the ships carrying the gifts sent by the Ceylon for Arab caliph. They also attacked the ships carrying Muslim women and children who were widows and orphans of Muslim soldiers died in Sri Lanka. This gave the Umayyad’s a legitimate cause to attack on Sindh.
- Sindh gave refuge to some of the rebels of the Arabs. They were imprisoned by Raja Dahir. When Al Hajjaj asked him for the prisoners Dahir refused to release them. This worked as oil on fire and the campaign was decided to attack on Sindh.
For this campaign Muhammad bin Qasim was selected to lead it. It was hajjaj’s choice. Qasim was sent with better military strategies. He was sent with 6000 cavalries from Shiraz in 710CE. At the Sindh border he was joined by 6 thousand camel riders and 5 catapults(manjaniks). The first town where the Arabs fought Sindhi’s was Debul. A bloody retribution was held on Debul and its temple was also destroyed. He was joined by the Thakore of Bhatta and western Jats to fight against Dahir. After crossing Nerun the Arab forces met Dahir’s forces on the opposite bank of river Indus. He met Dahir’s forces in Arrur (Rohri). Raja Dahir and his forces were defeated and Dahir died in the battle field. After that Qasim sent the fifth of booty to the caliph. Soon, other capitals like Brahman Abad, Alor and Multan were also captured by Muhammad bin Qasim. He did not made further campaigns in India because he knew that the powerful rulers of India would oppose him.
Muhammad bin Qasim became the governor of Sindh. He had to administer Sindh. He adopted conciliatory policy, asking acceptance of Muslim rule in Sindh by natives and in return not to interfere in the religion of the natives. Islamic Shariah Law was introduced and maintained but Hindus were free to practice their own law in matters. All the citizens were provided protection. Regarding Muslim conversion in Sindh there are 2 controversies among the historians. The first group of historians Elliot, Mujumdar and Vaidya are in favor of coercive conversions. According to them Muhammad bin Qasim was a liberal who destroyed the temples. In contrary to the other historians like Arnold and Muslim Nationalist historians i.e. Qureshi are in favor of voluntary conversions. The say that Muhammad bin Qasim maintained peace and freedom of religion in Sindh. Jizya was imposed on Dhimmis in Sindh. Trade was increased in Muhammad bin Qasim’s time. Different Sufi missionaries came to Sindh for promulgation of Islam.
Muhammad bin Qasim died in 715 CE at the age of 20. There are 2 dictums regarding his death which are as under;
- After the death of Al Hajjaj, Al Walid 1 became the caliph and Suleiman ibn Abd al Malik succeeded him. He was opponent of Hajjaj therefore he called Muhammad bin Qasim and killed him and his relatives.
- The second narrative is that during the campaign of Sindh Muhammad bin Qasim captured Dahir’s daughters and sent them as a gift to caliph. But before sending them it is written in Chachnama that he violated them. That why he was wrapped and stitched in oxen hides and sent to Syria. He died of suffocation and it was a death en route.