Muhammad bin Qasim

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Muhammad bin Qasim (c. 695 – 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 Ta'if (in modern-day Saudi Arabia). Qasim's conquest of Sindh and southern-most parts of Multan enabled further Muslim conquests on the Indian subcontinent.

Quotes from The Chach Nama[edit]

  • Muhammad Kasim then entered and all the town people came to the temple of Nobhar, and prostrated themselves before an idol. Muhammad Kasim enquired: 'Whose house is this, in which all the people high and low are respectfully kneeling and bowing down.' They replied: 'This is an idol-house called Nobhar.' Then, by Muhammad Kasim's order, the temple was opened. Entering it with his officers he saw an equestrian statue. The body of the idol was made of marble or alabaster, and it had on its arms golden bracelets, set with jewels and rubies. Muhammad Kasim stretched his hand and took off a bracelet from one of the idol's arms. Then he asked the keeper of the Budh temple Nobhar: 'Is this your idol?' 'Yes,' he replied, 'but it had two bracelets on, and one is missing.' 'Well' said Muhammad Kasim, 'cannot your god know who has taken away his bracelet?' The keeper bent his head down. Muhammad Kasim laughed and returned the bracelet to him, and he fixed it again on the idol's arm.'
    • Alor (Sindh) . The Chach Nama, translated into English by Mirza Kalichbeg Fredunbeg. Delhi Reprint, 1979, pp. 179-80.
  • The forts of Siwistan and Sisam have been already taken. The nephew of Dahir, his warriors, and principal officers have been despatched, and the infidels converted to Islam or destroyed. Instead of idol temples, mosques and other places of worship have been built, pulpits have been erected, the Khutba is read, the call to prayers is raised, so that devotions are performed at the stated hours. The takbir and praise to the Almighty Allah are offered every morning and evening.
  • Muhammad took the fort [of Rawar] and stayed there for two or three days. He put six thousand fighting men, who were in the fort, to the sword, and shot some with arrows. The other dependents and servants were taken prisoners, with their wives and children... When the number of the prisoners was calculated, it was found to amount to thirty thousand persons, amongst whom thirty were the daughters of chiefs, and one of them was Rai Dahir's sister's daughter, whose name was Jaisiya. They were sent to Hajjaj. The head of Dahir and the fifth part of the prisoners were forwarded in charge of Ka'ab, son of Mharak. When the head of Dahir, the women, and the property all reached Hajjaj, he prostrated himself before Allah, offered thanksgivings and praises... Hajjaj then forwarded the head, the umbrellas, and wealth, and the prisoners to Walid the Khalifa. When the Khalifa of the time had read the letter, he praised Almighty Allah. He sold some of those daughters of the chiefs, and some he granted as rewards. When he saw the daughter of Rai Dahir’s sister he was much struck with her beauty and charms, and began to bite his finger with astonishment.... It is said that after the conquest was effected and the affairs of the country were settled and the report of the conquest had reached Hajjaj, he sent a reply to the following effect. 'O my cousin! I received your life-inspiring letter. I was much pleased and overjoyed when it reached me. The events were recounted in an excellent and beautiful style, and I learnt that the ways and rules you follow are conformable to the Law. Except that you give protection to all, great and small alike, and make no difference between enemy and friend. God says, - Give no quarter to Infidels, but cut their throats. Then know that this is the command of the great God [Allah]. You shall not be too ready to grant protection, because it will prolong your work. After this, give no quarter to any enemy except to those who are of rank.
  • Muhammad Kasim marched from Dhalila, and encamped on the banks of the stream of the Jalwali to the east of Brahmanabad. He sent some confidential messengers to Brahmanabad to invite its people to submission and to the Muhammadan faith, to preach to them Islam, to demand the Jizya, or poll-tax, and also to inform them that if they would not submit, they must prepare to fight...
    They sent their messengers, and craved for themselves and their families exemption from death and captivity. Muhammad Kasim granted them protection on their faithful promises, but put the soldiers to death, and took all their followers and dependents prisoners. All the captives, up to about thirty years of age, who were able to work, he made slaves, and put a price upon them...
    When the plunder and the prisoners of war were brought before Kasim, and enquiries were made about every captive, it was found that Ladi, the wife of Dahir, was in the fort with two daughters of his by his other wives. Veils were put on their faces, and they were delivered to a servant to keep them apart. One-fifth of all the prisoners were chosen and set aside; they were counted as amounting to twenty thousand in number, and the rest were given to the soldiers. Protection was given to the artificers, the merchants, and the common people, and those who had been seized from those classes were all liberated. But he (Kasim) sat on the seat of cruelty, and put all those who had fought to the sword. It is said that about six thousand fighting men were slain, but, according to some, sixteen thousand were killed, and the rest were pardoned.
  • Muhammad Kasim fixed a tax upon all the subjects, according to the laws of the Prophet. Those who embraced the Muhammadan faith were exempted from slavery, the tribute, and the poll-tax, and from those who did not change their creed a tax was exacted according to three grades. The first grade was of great men, and each of these was to pay silver, equal to forty-eight dirams in weight, the second grade twenty-four dirams, and the lowest grade twelve dirams. It was ordered that all who should become Musulmans at once should be exempted from the payment, but those who were desirous of their old persuasion must pay the tribute and poll-tax. Some showed an inclination to abide by their creed, and some having resolved upon paying tribute, held by the faith of their forefathers, but their lands and property were not taken from them...
  • The agriculturists in this part of the country were Jats, and they made their submission and were granted protection. When all these circumstances were communicated to Hajjaj [Muhammed bin Qasim's uncle], he sent an emphatic answer, ordering that those who showed fight should be destroyed, or that their sons and daughters should be taken as hostages and kept. Those who choose to submit, and in whose throats the water of sincerity flowed, were to be treated with mercy, and their property secured to them...
  • A mine was dug, and in two or three days the walls fell down, and the fort of Multan was taken. Six thousand warriors were put to death, and all their relations and dependents were taken as slaves. Protection was given to the merchants, artisans and the agriculturists. Muhammad Kasim said the booty ought to be sent to the treasury of the Khalifa; but as the soldiers have taken so much pains, have suffered so many hardships, have hazarded their lives, and have been so long a time employed in digging the mine and carrying on the war, and as the fort is now taken, it is proper that the booty should be divided, and their dues given to the soldiers. Then all the great and principal inhabitants of the city assembled together, and silver to the weight of sixty thousand dirams was distributed and every horseman got a share of four hundred dirams weight. After this, Muhammad Kasim said that some plan should be devised for realizing the money to be sent to the Khalifa. He was pondering over this, when suddenly a Brahman came and said, 'Heathenism is now at an end, the temples are thrown down, the world has received the light of Islam, and mosques are built instead of idol temples. I have heard from the elders of Multan that in ancient times there was a chief in this city whose name was Jibawin, and who was a descendent of the Rai of Kashmir. He was a Brahman and a monk, he strictly followed his religion, and always occupied his time in worshipping idols. When his treasures exceeded all limits and computation, he made a reservoir on the eastern side of Multan, which was hundred yards square. In the middle of it he built a temple fifty yards square, and he made a chamber in which he concealed forty copper jars each of which was filled with African gold dust. A treasure of three hundred and thirty mans of gold was buried there. Over it there is an idol made of red gold, and trees are planted round the reservoir.' ...It is related by historians, on the authority of ... Ali bin Muhammad who had heard it from Abu Muhammad Hindui that Muhammad Kasim arose and with his counsellors, guards and attendants, went to the temple. He saw there an idol made of gold, and its two eye were bright red rubies... Muhammad Kasim ordered the idol to be taken up. Two hundred and thirty mans of gold were obtained, and forty jars filled with gold dust... This gold and the image were brought to treasury together with the gems and pearls and treasures which were obtained from the plunder of Multan.
  • Janaki was one of the daughters of King Dahir of Sindh. She was captured along with her sister and sent to the Khalifa at Baghdad. When the Khalifa invited Janaki to share his bed, she lied to him that she had already been violated by Muhammad bin Qasim. Her sister supported her statement. The Khalifa ordered that Muhammad be sewed up in raw hide and sent to his court. Muhammad was already dead when the chest containing him arrived in Baghdad. Janaki accused the Khalifa of having killed one of his great generals without making proper enquiry. She said, 'The king has committed a very grievous mistake, for he ought not, on account of two slave girls, to have destroyed a person who had taken captive a hundred thousand modest women like us,... and who instead of temples had erected mosques, pulpits and minarets.

Quotes from The History of India as told by its own Historians[edit]

  • The town was thus taken by assault, and the carnage endured for three days. The governor of the town, appointed by Dahir, fled and the priests of the temple were massacred. Muhammad marked a place for the Musalmans to dwell in, built a mosque, and left four thousand Musalmans to garrison the place. Ambissa son of Ishak Az Zabbi, the governor of Sindh, in the Khilafat of Mutasim billah knocked down the upper part of the minaret of the temple and converted it into a prison. At the same time he began to repair the ruined town with the stones of the minaret
  • He then crossed the Biyas, and went towards Multan... Muhammad destroyed the water-course; upon which the inhabitants, oppressed with thirst, surrendered at discretion. He massacred the men capable of bearing arms, but the children were taken captive, as well as the ministers of the temple, to the number of six thousand. The Muslamans found there much gold in a chamber ten cubits long by eight broad, and there was an aperture above, through which the gold was poured into the chamber.
  • Muhammad Kasim, ascertaining that large offerings were made to the idol, and wishing to add to his resources by those means, left it uninjured, but in order to show his horror of Indian superstition, he attached a piece of cow's flesh to its neck, by which he was able to gratify his avarice and malignity at the same time.

Quotes[edit]

  • Mahommad bin Qasim's first act of religious zeal was forcibly to circumcise the Brahmins of the captured city of Debul ; but on discovering that they objected to this sort of conversion, he proceeded to put all above the age of 17 to death, and to order all others, with women and children, to be led into slavery. The temple of the Hindus was looted, and the rich booty was divided equally among the soldiers, after one-fifth, the legal portion for the government, had been set aside.
  • My ruling is given: Kill anyone belonging to the combatants [ahl-i harb]; arrest their sons and daughters for hostages and imprison them. Whoever submits…grant them aman [protection] and settle their tribute [amwal] as dhimmah.
    • Instructions given to Muhammad bin Qasim by Hajjaj. Derryl N. MacLean, Religion and Society in Arab Sind (Brill, 1989), 37., as quoted in Spencer, Robert (2018). The history of jihad: From Muhammad to ISIS.
  • I am appalled by your bad judgment and astounded by your policies. Why are you so intent on giving aman, even to an enemy whom you have tested and found hostile and intransigent? It is not necessary to give aman to everyone without discrimination.… In any case, if [the Sindis] sincerely request aman and desist from treachery, they will surely stop fighting. Then income will meet expenditures and this long situation will be concluded.… It is acknowledged that all your procedures have been in accordance with religious law [bar jadah-yi shar] except for the one practice of giving aman. For you are giving aman to everyone without distinguishing between friend and foe.
    • From a letter by Hajjaj to Muhammad bin Qasim. MacLean, Religion and Society in Arab Sind, 39. As quoted in Spencer, Robert (2018). The history of jihad: From Muhammad to ISIS.
  • When Hajjaj, the governor of Iraq, asked the Caliph for permission to send another expedition, the Caliph wrote back: “This affair will be a source of great anxiety and so we must put it off, for every time an army goes, [vast] numbers of Mussalmans are killed. So think no more of such a design.” But Hajjaj was a very tenacious imperialist. He spent the next four years in equipping an army more formidable than any which had so far been sent against Sindh. While sending off his nephew as well as son-in-law, Muhammad bin Qasim, with this army in AD 712, Hajjaj said: “I swear by Allah that I am determined to spend the whole wealth of Iraq, that is in my possession, on this expedition.”
    • Ram Gopal, Indian Resistance to Early Muslim Invaders Upto 1206 A.D., 1983, quoted from S.R. Goel, (1994) Heroic Hindu resistance to Muslim invaders, 636 AD to 1206 AD. ISBN 9788185990187
  • When Muhammad bin Qasim mounted his attack on Debal in 712, all males of the age of seventeen and upwards were put to the sword and their women and children were enslaved.
    • Lal, K. S. (1994). Muslim slave system in medieval India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.
  • In September 1979, on Defence of Pakistan Day, there was a long article in the Pakistan Times on Bin Qasim as a strategist. The assessment was military, neutral, fair to the soldiers of both sides. It drew a rebuke from the chairman of the National Commission on Historical and Cultural Research.
    “Employment of appropriate phraseology is necessary when one is projecting the image of a hero. Expressions such as ‘invader’ and ‘defenders,’ and ‘the Indian army’ fighting bravely but not being quick enough to ‘fall upon the withdrawing enemy’ loom large in the article. It is further marred by some imbalanced statements such as follows: ‘Had Raja Dahar defended the Indus heroically and stopped Qasim from crossing it, the history of this sub-continent might have been quite different.’ One fails to understand whether the writer is applauding the victory of the hero or lamenting the defeat of his rival?”
    • Naipaul, V. S. (1981). Among the believers: An Islamic journey. New York: Knopf.
  • On the receipt of this letter, Hijaj obtained the consent of Wuleed, the son of Abdool Mullik, to invade India, for the purpose of propagating the faith and at the same time deputed a chief of the name of Budmeen, with three hundred cavalry, to join Haroon in Mikran, who was directed to reinforce the party with one thousand good soldiers more to attack Deebul. Budmeen failed in his expedition, and lost his life in the first action. Hijaj, not deterred by this defeat, resolved to follow up the enterprise by another. In consequence, in the year AH 93 (AD 711) he deputed his cousin and son-in-law, Imad-ood-Deen Mahomed Kasim, the son of Akil Shukhfy, then only seventeen years of age, with six thousand soldiers, chiefly Assyrians, with the necessary implements for taking forts, to attack Deebul'... 'On reaching this place, he made preparations to besiege it, but the approach was covered by a fortified temple, surrounded by strong wall, built of hewn stone and mortar, one hundred and twenty feet in height. After some time a bramin, belonging to the temple, being taken, and brought before Kasim, stated, that four thousand Rajpoots defended the place, in which were from two to three thousand bramins, with shorn heads, and that all his efforts would be vain; for the standard of the temple was sacred; and while it remained entire no profane foot dared to step beyond the threshold of the holy edifice. Mahomed Kasim having caused the catapults to be directed against the magic flag-staff, succeeded, on the third discharge, in striking the standard, and broke it down... Mahomed Kasim levelled the temple and its walls with the ground and circumcised the brahmins. The infidels highly resented this treatment, by invectives against him and the true faith. On which Mahomed Kasim caused every brahmin, from the age of seventeen and upwards, to be put to death; the young women and children of both sexes were retained in bondage and the old women being released, were permitted to go whithersoever they chose... On reaching Mooltan, Mahomed Kasim also subdued that province; and himself occupying the city, he erected mosques on the site of the Hindoo temples.
    • Tarikh-i-Firishta, translated into English by John Briggs under the title History of the Rise of the Mahomedan Power in India, 4 Volumes, New Delhi Reprint, 1981. p. 234-238
  • From the seventh century onwards and with a peak during Muhammad al-Qasim's campaigns in 712-713 a considerable number of Jats [Hindus] was captured as prisoners of war and deported to Iraq and elsewhere as slaves.
    • Andre Wink, Al Hind, Vol. I, p. 161

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