I. The Impact of the Arabs

*Islam* == *The Arab Conquest of Sind* == *Arab Administration* == *Intellectual Achievements* == *Results of Arab Rule*

        [[3]] ISLAM, the youngest of the three great Semitic religions, dates from the early years of the seventh century./1/ Its founder, the Prophet Muhammad, was born in 570 A.D. in Mecca, an important center on the caravan route along the western coast of Arabia. At the age of forty he saw visions and received revelations which, as embodied in the Quran, constitute the message and teachings of Islam. The tremendous vision of the majesty and power of God which came to Muhammad found expression in the central creed: "There is no God but God and Muhammad is his prophet." This uncompromising declaration of faith in the unity of God was a challenge to the polytheism that flourished in Arabia, especially in Mecca where the main temple, the Kaaba, housed more than three hundred idols. While the proclamation of God's oneness was originallythe main feature of Islam, other characteristics gradually developed, particularly an emphasis on the brotherhood of all believers and the equality of all men before God, irrespective of class, color, or race. Specific injunctions, such as the prohibition of the use of intoxicants, also became an essential feature of the Islamic way of life, helping to weld the believers in Islam into a cohesive, self-conscious social group. These beliefs and practices finally found vivid form in the "Five Pillars of Islam," an easily remembered summary of ritual and doctrine. These are: 1) profession of faith in the unity of God and the prophetic mission of Muhammad; 2) the observance of the five daily prayers; 3) the giving of alms; 4) fasting during the month of Ramadan; and 5) the making of a pilgrimage to Mecca. Each of these was open to interpretation and elaboration, but they provided, in their simplicity and.inclusiveness, a framework that proved capable of binding people of the most diverse races and of levels of cultural achievement into a brotherhood that built, with astonishing rapidity, a civilization that stretched from the Iberian peninsula to the islands of the Eastern Seas.

        [[4]] Despite the special features it had from its birth and the others it acquired in the course of its history, Islam essentially claims to be a continuation of the earlier religions of western Asia, particularly Judaism and Christianity. According to the Quran, prophets were sent to all nations and social groups to show them the right path. Four of them, Adam, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, find a frequent mention in the Quran. The ritual code of Islam is, indeed, largely based on that of Judaism as practiced in Arabia in Muhammad's time. There are, for example, ceremonial prayers, with Friday taking the place of the Saturday Sabbath; a month of fasting (Ramadan); festivals including the celebration of Old Testament events such as the sacrifice of Isaac (Ismail, in the Islamic version). There is the Judaic conception of "unclean meats," including the prohibition of pork. The references to Christianity and Christians in the Quran are friendly; Jesus is referred to as the spirit of God and many miracles are ascribed to him. But Islam firmly rejected belief in the Trinity as a reversion to polytheism.

        Muhammad received a very poor response in his own birthplace. He and the few followers he was able to gather were persecuted, and in 622 he had to flee from Mecca to Medina. This migration, known as the Hijra, proved highly propitious, for from this time, Islam rapidly gained adherents. In Medina the Prophet was not only the founder of a new religion, but he was also the head of a city-state. Gradually Islam began spreading outside Medina, and before the Prophet died in 632, almost the entire peninsula of Arabia had adopted Islam.

        Muhammad left no male heir. On his death claims were made on behalf of his son-in-law and cousin Ali, but senior members of the community elected as their leader or caliph, the Prophet's companion, Abu Bakr, who was one of the earliest converts to Islam. He successfully dealt with the local rebellions, and sent troops against the Byzantine and the Persian empires, with whom disputes had arisen during the last days of the Prophet. The two great empires had weakened themselves by centuries of mutual warfare, and the ill-equipped Arab armies were victorious. Abu Bakr died after only two years in office, and was succeeded by Umar (r. 634-644 ), under whose leadership [[5]] the Islamic community was transformed into a vast empire. Syria and Egypt in the west and Persia in the east were conquered, and an administrative basis was devised for the organization of Islamic territory. The sanctions for this governmental structure were the precepts of the Quran and the example of the Prophet, but Umar's administration reflects his own robust common sense and his knowledge of the experience of other rulers. After the conquest of Iran, for example, he invited a group of Iranian officials to Medina to explain its government under former rulers. His system of maintaining a bureau of official registers was derived from Iranian practice, as was the idea of jizya, the poll tax levied on non-Muslims. After ten years, Umar was succeeded by Usman (r. 644-656), who was followed by Ali (r. 656-661), the last of the four "Righteous Caliphs."

        Owing to his relationship with the Prophet as well as to personal bravery, nobility of character, and intellectual and literary gifts, Caliph Ali occupies a special place in the history of Islam, but he was unable to control the tribal and personal quarrels of the Arabs. After his death, Muawiyah (r. 661-680), the first of the Umayyad caliphs, seized power and transferred the seat of caliphate from Medina to Damascus. In 680 occurred the tragedy of Karbala when Imam Husain, son of Ali and grandson of the Prophet, fell a martyr. Three years later the succession passed from Muawiyah's grandson to another branch of the Umayyad dynasty, which continued in power until 750. During this period the Muslim armies overran Asia Minor, conquered the north coast of Africa, occupied Spain (711), and were halted only in the heart of France at Tours (732) .In the east the Muslim empire was extended to Central Asia, and, as we shall see, it was during this period that a part of the Indian subcontinent was annexed. In the course of these conquests, the Arabs became subject to older civilizations. Damascus was located in the heart of Syria, where Greek and Syrian culture had flowered for ages, and the Umayyad capital displayed a cultural and social life quite different from that of puritanical Medina. As heirs to the Byzantine civilization, the Umayyads developed the postal service, introduced a new coinage, established a state archive in Damascus, and introduced other changes in the organization of government.

        [[6]] Religious schisms in Islam began early and often paralleled political divisions. The two principal sects are Shia and Sunni. The former, more correctly known as Shiah-i-Ali (the partisans of Ali), hold that Ali should have succeeded the Prophet. The Sunnis, who make up the vast majority of the Muslim world, accept the order in which the succession of the "Righteous Caliphs" actually took place. The Shias were subdivided into two branches--the Ismailis, who played a more important role in the early history of Islam than they do today, and the main Shia group, whose creed is the state religion of Iran.

The Arab Conquest of Sind

        It was against this background of rapid expansion that the first contacts between Islam and India took place. Since time immemorial spices and other articles from India and southeast Asia had been in great demand in Egypt and southern Europe, with the transit trade largely in the hands of Arabs, who brought merchandise from the Indian ports to Yemen in southern Arabia. The goods were then sent by land to the Syrian ports to be shipped again to Egypt and Europe. The rise of Islam did not, therefore, give rise to the connection with India, but it added a new dimension. Trade continued after the Arabs had embraced Islam, and the first major conflict between the Indian subcontinent and Muslim Arabia arose out of developments connected with Arab sailors plying their trade about the Indian Ocean. They sailed as far as Ceylon, and when some of them died on that island, the local ruler thought it expedient to send their widows and children to Arabia, with gifts and letters of goodwill for Hajjaj (661-714), the powerful viceroy of the eastern provinces of the Umayyad empire. Unfavorable winds drove the vessels carrying the gifts and the survivors close to the shores of Debul (an inland port near modern Karachi). Here pirates attacked them, plundered the gifts, and took the Muslim women and children as captives. Hajjaj, on learning of this, protested to Dahar, the ruler of Sind, and demanded the release of the prisoners and restoration of the booty, but he received only an evasive reply. The enraged Hajjaj, famous in Arab history as [[7]] much for his severity as for his administrative ability, persuaded Caliph Walid to authorize punitive measures against Dahar.

        Two expeditions sent against Dahar ended in failure, but for the third, Hajjaj sent a hand-picked body of soldiers under the command of his son-in-law, Muhammad ibn Qasim. The Arab general, with six thousand horsemen, a camel corps of equal strength, and a baggage train of three thousand camels, marched against Debul by way of Shiraz and through Makran. He received reinforcements on the way and in the autumn of 711 appeared before Debul. Hajjaj, who had made very thorough preparations, sent the siege artillery by sea, including a huge balista, affectionately called al-'arus, "the bride," which was worked by five hundred men. Protected by strong stone fortifications, the Debul garrison offered stiff resistance, but ultimately the fort was captured and the Muslim flag was hoisted for the first time on the soil of the Indian subcontinent.

        Making light of the fall of Debul as a mere commercial town, Dahar made plans to give battle before the strong fortress of Brahmanabad. A decisive encounter did not take place for several months, however, owing to the difficulties confronting the Arabs. Apart from the greater forces assembled by Dahar, an epidemic of scurvy broke out among the Arab troops, and their horses also suffered from sickness. Hajjaj sent reinforcements, but perhaps even more valuable was the assistance he rendered in dealing with the scurvy. His manner of transporting a large supply of vinegar in concentrated form illustrates the resourcefulness of the early Arabs. Cotton was soaked in thick concentrated vinegar and dried. This operation was repeated until the cotton could hold no more liquid; then the cotton was sent to Sind, where the vinegar was extracted by soaking the cotton in water. This supply of vinegar brought the scurvy under control, and in the extreme heat of June, 712, the Arabs crossed the river and faced Dahar's army. The battle was fought with great vigor on both sides, but the superior Arab generalship and the skill of the Arab archers gave them the victory. Dahar lost his life on the battlefield, and with his death the Hindu army lost heart and fled from the field. Muhammad captured Brahmanabad, and married Rani Ladi, Dahar's widow, thus becoming the master of Lower Sind.

        [[8]] The Arab general spent some time in organizing the administration of the conquered area, then he started for Aror (near modern Sukkur), Dahar's capital, now held by one of his sons. After a brief siege the town surrendered, and soon Muhammad proceeded to complete the conquest of Upper Sind. He moved towards Punjab. Multan, the leading city, was well fortified, but a deserter brought information about a stream which supplied water to the city, and by diverting it the Arabs were able to force the garrison to surrender in 713. Muhammad was now master of the whole of Sind and part of the Punjab. After the occupation of Multan, he advanced to the borders of the kingdom of Kashmir. Threatened by this move, the raja of Kashmir sent an envoy to the Chinese emperor asking for help. He received no aid, but events at home stopped further Arab advance. Hajjaj, Muhammad ibn Qasim's father-in-law and the viceroy of the eastern provinces, died in 714, and in the following year the Caliph Walid, who had been his supporter, also died. The new caliph was Sulaiman, a bitter enemy of Hajjaj's family. The policy of extremism, partisanship, and violence which Hajjaj had followed now brought its nemesis. Death saved him from the new caliph's wrath, but his family had to pay the penalty. Sulaiman appointed a new governor, recalled Muhammad ibn Qasim, and handed him to an officer who had the young conqueror of Sind tortured to death in an Iraqi prison.

        The comparative ease with which the Arabs defeated the Indian forces and occupied a large territory calls for explanation. It was due partly to the quality of their troops, the ability of the military commander, and the superiority of the Arab military technique. But the conciliatory policy which Muhammad ibn Qasirn adopted towards all those who submitted to the Arabs also facilitated his task, and the Arab conquest was noteworthy more for voluntary surrenders than for bloody battles. At Nirun, for example, the Buddhist priests welcomed the general, and at Sehwan the populace revolted against the Hindu governor and submitted to Muhammad ibn Qasim. Popular dissatisfaction with the former rulers, or at least indifference to their fate, seems in fact to have contnbuted substantially to Arab success. A large proportion of the population of Sind and Multan was Buddhist, but Chach, a Brahmin minister of the Buddhist king, had [[9]] usurped the throne in 622, and his dynasty was not popular with large sections of the people. Even the chiefs and officials were quick to offer allegiance to the Arabs. As R. C. Majumdar has remarked: "To the inexplicable want of strategy on the part of Dahar and the treachery of the Buddhists of the south, we must add the base betrayal of the chief officials and grandees of Sind to account for its ignominious end. All important chiefs and officials seem to have deserted his cause. This is partly accounted for by the superstitious idea prevailing among the people that according to the Hindu Sastras the country was destined to fall into the hands of the Muhammadans, and it was, therefore, useless to fight. But the attitude of chiefs was perhaps due also to personal feelings against the son of the usurper who had driven out the old royal family."/2/

        Dahar's hold over southern Sind, largely Buddhist, was also very feeble, as this area had come under his rule only a short time before the Arab invasion. Chach (r.622-666) had tried to buttress his position by a policy of ruthless suppression of the dissident groups. He inflicted great humiliation on the Jats, who were forbidden to carry swords or wear fine garments or to ride on horseback with saddles, and they were commanded to walk about with their heads and feet bare, accompanied by dogs./3/ Muslims who were fighting his son won the sympathies of the oppressed classes, and perhaps the most important cause of the Arab success was the support of the Jats and the Meds. At an early stage they started enlisting under Muhammad ibn Qasim's banner, "which independent of its moral effect in dividing national sympathies, and relaxing the unanimity of defense against foreign aggression, must have been of incalculable benefit to him, in his disproportionate excess of cavalry, which could be of little service in a country intersected by rivers, swamps, and canals."/4/

        Muhammad ibn Qasim was only seventeen when he was appointed to a hazardous military command in a distant and little-known territory. Apparently he was selected because of his kinship with the all-powerful [[10]] Hajjaj, but he had already been a successful governor of Shiraz ,and his efficiency in carrying out his assignment in Sind fully justified the choice. His great achievement was, of course, as a military commander and the way in which he and his troops overwhelmed bigger forces. He combined great courage and resourcefulness with moderation and statesmanship of a high order. He had a warm personality, ready to enjoy the humor of new and odd situations and to exchange jokes with his companions. With all this he was a disciplined soldier, as is evident from the manner in which he carried out Hajjaj's directions and later quietly, without demur, submitted to the orders of the new caliph in his last supreme act of self-renunciation. In emphasizing this side of Muhammad ibn Qasim's character it should be remembered that he was the leader of a punitive expedition. At Debul, where he had to blot out the memories of the defeat and massacre of the Arab forces sent earlier against Dahar, and later at Multan, where he was stubbornly resisted, he was harsh and ruthless, but such occasions were exceptional. Normally he was humane and considerate, and though no subordinate of Hajjaj could afford to show any weakness, Muhammad achieved his object more by negotiation and grant of liberal terms than by warfare. He made systematic efforts to seek out the officers of the old regime, showered honors and favors on them, and made them his collaborators in the task of administration.

        Foremost among these were Sisakar, Raja Dahar's minister, and Kaksa, the raja's nephew. Sisakar won his way into Muhammad ibn Qasim's favor by restoring the widows and children of the Arabian sailors, whose capture by pirates had originally brought down Hajjaj's wrath on Dahar. Sisakar was made principal adviser in affairs relating to Lower Sind. Kaksa's position was even more important. "The minister Kaksa," according to an early historian, "was a learned man and a philosopher of Hind. When he came to transact business, Muhammad ibn Qasim used to make him sit before the throne and then consult him, and Kaksa took precedence in the army before all the nobles and commanders. He collected the revenue of the country and the treasury was placed under his seal. He assisted Muhammad ib Qasim in all his undertakings, and was addressed by the title of [[11]] mubarak mushir (prosperous counsellor)."/5/ The generosity shown by Muhammad to the leading Indian administrators was rewarded by their loyal cooperation.

Arab Administration

        The Arab administration in Sind followed the general pattern adopted by the Arab conquerors in other countries. The normal rule was to employ local talent and make minimum changes in local practices. Caliph Umar, acknowledged as the chief creator of the Arab system of administration, had laid down the working principle that Arabs should not acquire landed property in conquered territories. Under his system the conquering general of a new territory became its governor, but "most of the subordinate officers were allowed to retain their posts." Available evidence about Sind shows that these injunctions were observed. The Arabs established themselves in large towns, which were also military cantonments, and provided the military garrisons, but civil administration was left largely in the hands of the local chiefs, only a few of whom had accepted Islam.

        The administrative arrangements which Muhammad ibn Qasim made with the non-Muslims after his victory over Dahar are often referred to as "the Brahmanabad settlement." The basic principle was to treat the Hindus as "the people of the book," and to confer on them the status of the zimmis (the protected). In some respects the arrangements were even more liberal than those granted to "the people of the book" by the later schools of Islamic law. For example, according to later opinion the zimmis could not repair their places of worship, although existing ones were allowed to stand. The question of repairing a damaged temple came up before Muhammad, who referred the matter to Hajjaj. The latter, having consulted the 'ulama of Damascus, not only granted the permission asked for, but declared that so long as non-Muslims paid their dues to the state they were free to live in whatever manner they liked. "It appears," Hajjaj wrote, "that the chief inhabitants of Brahmanabad had petitioned to be allowed to repair the temple of Budh and pursue their religion. As they have [[12]] made submission, and have agreed to pay taxes to the Khalifa, nothing more can properly be required from them. They have been taken under our protection, and we cannot in any way stretch out our hands upon their lives or property. Permission is given them to worship their gods. Nobody must be forbidden and prevented from following his own religion. They may live in their houses in whatever manner they like."/6/ According to one early Muslim historian, the Arab conqueror countenanced even the privileged position of the Brahmans, not only in religious matters, but also in the administrative sphere. "Muhammad ibn Qasim maintained their dignity and passed orders confirming their pre-eminence. They were protected against opposition and violence." Even the 3 percent share of government revenue which they had received during the ascendancy of the Brahman rulers of Sind, was conceded to them. In his arrangements for the collection of taxes, Muhammad ibn Qasim also made an attempt to provide some safeguards against oppression, by appointing "people from among the villagers and the chief citizens to collect the fixed taxes from the cities and the villages so that there might be the feeling of strength and protection."/7/

        When the Abbasids overthrew the Umayyads in 750 they sent their own officers to Sind. The Abbasid governor, Hisham, who came to Sind in 757, carried out successful raids against Gujarat and Kashmir, but no permanent additions to Arab dominion were made. Later, through preoccupations at home, Arab control over Sind weakened, with the process of disintegration being accelerated by tribal conflicts among local Arabs. One governor went so far as to revolt against Caliph al-Mamun. The rebellion was put down, but Musa (son of Yahya the Barmakid, the famous wazir of Harun-al-Rashid), who was placed in charge of the affairs of Sind, nominated as his successor on his death in 836 his son Amran. The caliph recognized the appointment, but the beginning of the hereditary succession to governorship meant a weakening of the hold of Baghdad. An energetic ruler, Amran dealt firmly with the disturbances of the Jats and the Meds, but internecine quarrels among the Arabs flared up and he lost his life [[13]]

*INDIA IN 900*

[14] after a brief reign. In 854 the Hibbari family became hereditary rulers of Sind, with Mansura as their capital. In course of time, Multan became independent and the Hindus reestablished themselves in Rohri.

        The severance of contacts with Baghdad made Sind and Multan a happy hunting ground for the emissaries of the rivals of the Abbasids, the Ismaili rulers of Cairo. Their first missionary came to Sind in 883 and started secret propaganda in favor of the Ismaili caliph. After the ground had been prepared, military aid was obtained from Cairo, and through a coup d'etat Multan was captured in 977. Ismaili doctrines were now adopted as the official religion, and the khutba was read in the name of the Egyptian ruler. The Ismailis destroyed the old historic temple of Multan, which Muhammad ibn Qasim had left in charge of the Hindus, and built a mosque on its site. Mansura remained with the Hibbari family, at least until 985, but at a later date this also became a small Ismaili stronghold. The Ismailis suffered a setback with the rise of Mahmud of Ghazni, who in 1005 compelled the ruler of Multan to recant his Ismaili beliefs and some twenty years later conquered Mansura on his return from Somnath. The Ismaili creed regained strength as the Ghaznavids weakened, but in 1175 Sultan Muhammad Ghuri captured Multan and appointed an orthodox Sunni as governor. The area was incorporated in the Sunni sultanate first of Ghazni, and later of Delhi.

Intellectual Achievements

        During the Umayyad and the early Abbasid period, when the Arabs were at the height of their political power, they were also active in the intellectual field, making every effort to acquire knowledge from all sources. Sind became the link through which the fruits of Indian learning were transmitted to the Arabs, and by them made available to the rest of the civilized world. Indo-Arab intellectual collaboration was at its height during two distinct periods. During the reign (753-774) of Mansur, embassies from Sind to Baghdad included scholars who brought important books with them./8/ The second fruitful period [[15]] was the reign (780-808) of Harun-al-Rashid, when the Barmakid family, which provided wazirs to the Abbasid caliphs for half a century, was at the zenith of its power. Arab bibliographers especially mention Harun's wazir, Yahya the Barmakid, Yahya's son Musa, and grandson Amran (both of whom governed Sind for some time) for their interest in India and Indian sciences. Besides sending scholars to India to study medicine and pharmacology, they brought Hindu scholars to Baghdad, made them chief physicians of their hospitals, and commissioned them to translate into Arabic, Sanskrit books on such subjects as medicine, pharmacology, toxicology, philosophy, and astrology.

        The earliest recorded Indo-Arab intellectual contact came in 771, when a Hindu astronomer and mathematician reached Baghdad, bringing with him a Sanskrit work (Brahma Siddhanta by Brahma-gupta) which he translated into Arabic with the help of an Arab mathematician. Titles of three other works on astronomy translated from Sanskrit have been preserved by Arab bibliographers, but Siddhanta, which came to be known in Arabic as "Sindhind," had the greatest influence on the development of Arab astronomy. In mathematics the most important contribution of the subcontinent to Arabic learning was the introduction of what are known in the West as "Arabic numerals," but which Arabs themselves call "Indian numerals" (al-ruqum-al-Hindiyyah).

        Indian medicine received even greater attention; the titles of at least fifteen works in Sanskrit which were translated into Arabic have been preserved, including books by Sushruta and Caraka, the foremost authorities in Hindu medicine. One of the translated books was on veterinary science, and another dealt with snakes and their poisons. None of these translations are now known to exist, except a rendering of a book on poisons, which was originally translated into Persian for Khalid-al-Barmaki, the Abbasid wazir, and later was translated into Arabic. Indian doctors enjoyed great prestige at Baghdad, and although their names, like the titles of their works, have been mutilated beyond recognition in Arab bibliographies, their number was very great. One of these men, Manka, was specially sent for when Harun-al-Rashid fell ill and could not be cured by Baghdad doctors. [[16]] Manka's treatment was successful, and not only was he richly rewarded by the grateful caliph, but he was entrusted with the translation of medical books from Sanskrit. Another Indian physician was called in when a cousin of the caliph suffered a paralytic stroke and was given up for lost by the Greek court physician. Many Indian medicines, some of them in their original names such as atrifal, which is the Hindi tri-phal (a combination of three fruits), found their way into Arab pharmacopoeia.

        Astrology and palmistry also received considerable attention at Baghdad, and titles of a large number of books translated from Sanskrit on these subjects have been preserved. Other books which were translated were on logic, alchemy, magic, ethics, statecraft, and the art of war, but literary works gained the greatest popularity. Some of the stories of the Arabian Nights' Entertainments are attributed to Indian origin, and Arabic translations of the Panchtantra, popularly known as the story of Kalila and Dimna, have become famous in various Arabic and Persian versions. The games of chess and chausar were also brought from India and transmitted by Arabs to other parts of the world.

        Sind also made a contribution in spheres other than science and leaming. While the debt of the Sufis, the Islamic mystics, to Indian religion in general is not certain, the links of Sind with Islamic Sufism are fairly definite. The great early Sufi, Bayazid of Bistam, had a Sindhi as his spiritual teacher. "I leamed," he said, "the science of annihilation (ilm-i-fana) and unity (tauhid) from Abu Ali (of Sind) and Abu Ali leamed the lessons of Islamic unity from me."/9/ The close association of Sind with Sufism is maintained to this day, and one of the most marked features of Sind is the dominant place which Sufism occupies in her literary and religious life.

        Our knowledge of India's impact on Arab cultural life is based on contemporary Arab sources, but it is far from complete. No title of any Sanskrit book on music translated at Baghdad is available, but it is known that the music of the subcontinent influenced Arab music. That it was appreciated in the Abbasid capital is indicated by the [[17]] famous Arab author Jahiz (fl. 869), who wrote in his account of the people of the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent that "Their music is pleasing. One of their musical instruments is known as Kankalah, which is played with a string stretched on a pumpkin." This would seem to be a reference to an Indian instrument, the kingar, which is made with two gourds. Another indication of widespread knowledge of Indian music is a reference by an Arabic author from Andalusia to an Indian book on tunes and melodies./10/ It has even been suggested that many of the technical terms for Arab music were borrowed from Persia and India and that Indian music itself has incorporated certain Perso-Arab airs, such as Yeman and Hijj from Hijaz and Zanuglah, corrupted into Jangla./11/

        No connected history of Sind and Multan after the recall of Muhammad ibn Qasim is available, but works of Arab travelers and geographers enable us to fill the gap. In particular Masudi, who visited what is now West Pakistan in 915-916, has left a brilliant account of the conditions in the Indus valley, from Waihind in the north to Debul in the south. Ibn Haukul, another traveler, visited the area some years later. Both agree that the principal Arab colonies were at Mansura, Multan, Debul, and Nirun, all of which had large Friday mosques. Non-Muslims formed the bulk of the population, and were in a preponderant majority at Debul and Alor. The relations between the Arabs and the non-Muslirns were good. Unlike the historians of the sultanate period, the Arab travelers refer to the non-Muslims as zimmis and not as kafirs (infidels). Soon after the conquest of Sind and Multan, the killing of cows was banned in the area. The reason may have been a simple desire to preserve the cattle wealth, but regard for Hindu sentiments may also have been partly responsible for this step. Some Hindu chiefs showed a sympathetic interest in Islam, for in 886 a Hindu raja commissioned an Arab linguist from Mansura to translate the Quran into the local language./12/ Another indication of the integration of the population into the general [[18]] life of the ruling class was the use of Sindhi troops in Arab armies. Contemporary records mention their presence in areas as distant as the frontiers of the Byzantine empire./13/

        Arab rulers adopted local practices to a much greater extent than the Ghaznavids did later at Lahore, or the Turks and the Afghans at Delhi. According to Masudi, the ruler of Mansura had eighty war elephants and occasionally rode in a chariot drawn by elephants. The Arabs of Mansura generally dressed like the people of Iraq, but the dress of the ruler was similar to that of the Hindu rajas, and, like them, he wore earrings and kept his hair long.

        After Muhammad ibn Qasim there were no large-scale Arab immigrations, and Arab influence gradually diminished; but Sind and Multan remained in contact with the Arab countries, particularly Iraq and Egypt. At the time of Masudi's visit Arabic and Sindhi were spoken in Sind, but Iranian influences were also strong, particularly after the rise of the Dailamites, when the use of Persian became more prevalent, especially in Multan.

        Arab rule produced men of note in Sind and Multan, some of whom achieved fame and distinction in Damascus and Baghdad. One of them, Abu Maashar Sindhi (fl.787), an authority on the life of the Prophet, was so eminent that when he died in Baghdad the reigning caliph led the prayers at his funeral. A number of other scholars and poets connected with Sind are also mentioned in Arabic anthologies. Some of them were from the immigrant families, but many were of Sindhi origin and included descendants of captives taken as slaves during the Arab conquest or the later wars. The most notable Arabic poet of Sindhi origin was Abul Ata Sindhi, who was taken to Syria as a captive during his childhood, and earned his manumission with a qasida or ode. In spite of his command of literary Arabic, his pronunciation of Arabic words bore such traces of his origin that he had to engage a ravi to recite his verses. He wrote forceful qasidas in praise of the Umayyad rulers and poignant elegies on their downfall. 

        Life in the Arab dominion of Sind and Multan was simple, but agriculture and commerce were highly developed. Masudi mentions a large number of hamlets in the principalities of Multan and Mansura, [[19]] and apparently the whole country was well cultivated. There was active commerce between Sind and other parts of the Muslim world, with caravans going to Khurasan, most commonly by the route of Kabul and Bamian. There were also communications with Zabulistan and Sijistan through Ghazni and Qandahar. Sindhi Hindus, who were excellent accountants and traders, had a major share in this commerce, and Alor is mentioned as a great commercial center. The prosperity of the area may be judged by the fact that Sind and Multan contributed eleven and a half million dirhams to Abbasid revenue, while the total revenue from the Kabul area in cash and cattle was less than two and a quarter million dirhams./14/

Results of Arab Rule

        Time, man, and natural calamities have dealt harshly with the traces of Arab rule in Sind. In 893 Debul was visited by a terrible earthquake which practically destroyed the whole city; the number of deaths was estimated at 150,000. A similar calamity affected Brahmanabad at a later date, but more permanent causes of damage were the floods and the changes in the course of the Indus. The cumulative result is that not one of the Arab cities has survived, and their very sites are uncertain.

        It is not surprising, therefore, that historians attach little importance to Arab rule in Sind; yet though the visible traces of Arab ascendancy have been obliterated, its invisible effects are many and far-reaching. Most of them, of course, relate to the former province of Sind. The script adopted for the Sindhi language is Arabic, not the Perso-Arabic script used for other Muslim languages of the subcontinent, and it contains a large proportion of Arabic words, mutilated or intact. Several leading Sindhi families are of Arab origin, and many more, although indigenous, have changed their genealogical tables to claim Arab ancestry. Until recently the social pattern in Sind was largely tribal, the place of the Arab shaikh being taken by the Sindhi wadera (the word itself is a literal translation of the Arabic counterpart). Such Arab virtues as hospitality have always distinguished [[20]] Sind, and the standard of Arabic scholarship has also remained high. Even the landscape, before the recent construction of two barrages in Upper and Lower Sind, contained much to remind one of Arabia--the desert, the pastoral scene, many large groves of date-palm trees, and the strings of camels.

        In two important spheres the impact of the Arabs--as we have already seen--was felt far beyond Sind and Multan. In the political field, the arrangements made by Muhammad ibn Qasim with the non-Muslims provided the basis for later Muslim policy in the subcontinent. By the time Muslim rule was established at Lahore and Delhi, Islamic law had been codified and contained stringent provisions regarding idol-worshipers. The fact that those provisions were not followed and the Hindus were treated as "people of the book" was largely due to the fact that they had been given this status by Muhammad ibn Qasim, and that for centuries this liberal practice had been built up in Sind and Multan.

        The second important consequence of the Arab conquest of Sind--the cultural and intellectual contacts--came to an end when Baghdad lost political control over the area. Arabic literature henceforth looked elsewhere than to India for inspiration, and Sanskrit works were no longer translated by Hindu scholars in Baghdad.

        Although Arab conquest had been confined to the southern part of what is now West Pakistan, peaceful contacts were far more extensive. Arab sailors and traders plied their trade along the coast, and soon after the rise of Islam we find colonies of Muslim Arabs at a number of major ports such as Cambay, Chaul, and Honawar. Muslims had reached Ceylon even earlier, and the Arab invasion of Sind was, as we have seen, a measure of reprisal for the plunder and imprisonment of Muslim widows and orphans returning from Ceylon. Hajjaj, who organized the expedition to Sind, was also indirectly responsible for the establishment of a large colony of Muslim Arabs in the South. When he became the viceroy of Iraq, many political enemies fled his jurisdiction, seeking refuge on the southern coast of the subcontinent. They form the nucleus of the important Nawayat community found on the Konkan coast of Bombay and in Tinnevelly [[21]] district of Madras. Others settled along the Bay of Bengal, where the presence of Muslims is traceable back to the eighth century.

        The largest Arab coastal settlements, however, were in Malabar, where Muslims now form a substantial part of the population. One result of the Arab settlement was the conversion of a local ruler to Islam, an event which undoubtedly helped the position of the Muslim community. Another influence of the arrival of Muslims may possibly be seen in the great religious movements in South India in the ninth century. It has been suggested, although without very clear proof, that the religious ferment of the period may have owed something to Muslim ideas.

        These Muslim colonies on the coast are of interest also as they provided the base from which missionaries, traders, and sailors went to the Far East and spread Islam in Malaya and Indonesia. The movement to the East was not only a result of the Arab share in the spice trade of Southeast Asia, but also a continuation of traditional Indian relations with the countries further east. Southeast Asia has since ancient times been greatly influenced by Indian religion, literature, and art, and with the spread of Islam to the key points of contact, Muslim influence replaced that of Brahmanism and Buddhism. Bali remains Hindu to this day, but Malaya, Java, and Sumatra are predominantly Muslim, and owe their present religious and literary tradition largely to the influences emanating from the Muslim colonies on the coastline of the subcontinent. Emigrants who brought about this transformation in Southeast Asia included Arab and Persian sailors and traders, but the role of Muslims from Gujarat, Malabar, Coromandel, and Bengal was not less important.


/1/ "Islam" is used for the religion, "Muslim" for a member of the religious community.
/2/ R. C. Majumdar, "The Arab Invasion of India," Journal of Indian History, Vol. X (1931), supplement.
/3/ H. M. Elliot and John Dowson, The History of India as Told by Its Own Historians (London, 1867-1877), I, 151.
/4/ Elliot and Dowson, I, 435.
/5/ Elliot and Dowson, I, 203.
/6/ Elliot and Dowson, I, 185-86.
/7/ Elliot and Dowson. I. 183-87.
/8/ E. C. Sachau, Alberuni's India (London, 1914), I, xxxi.
/9/ Jami, Nafahat al-uns (Bombay, 1872), p. 60.
/10/ S. S. Nadwi, Arab wa Hind ke ta'alluqat (Allahabad, 1950), pp. 127, 157-58.
/11/ S. A. Halim in Journal of the Asiatic Society of Pakistan, vol. I (1956).
/12/ A. Z. Nadvi, Tarikh-i-Sind (Karachi, 1947), p. 196.
/13/ Elliot and Dowson, I, 465.
/14/ Elliot and Dowson, I, 471-72.

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