Before the entrance of Islam into India, evidence shows that Arab trading ships and merchants had been traveling to the Malabar Coast, where they practiced their pre-Islamic religions. Only later did they convert to Islam, after which nothing much changed in their relationship with India. The Hindu leaders did not interfere. Only after political Islam entered India in 712 CE, with the Arab conquest of Sindh, ninety years after founding Islam in Saudi Arabia, was there striking changes.
The first Islamic marauders are often called Yavanas (Greeks), Turuskas (Turks), Tajikas (Persians), and especially as mlecchas, which means those who are uncultured outcastes with no regard for Vedic Dharma.
The first 16 invasion attempts of the Arab Muslims failed completely. But the 17th attempt to invade India by Muhammad bin Kasim , which was carried out against the wishes of the Kalifate, was successful. Muhammad bin Kasim marched to Sindh with 15,000 men. He arrived at Debal, a port city near the modern Karachi, in 711. There he was bolstered by the arrival of his artillery by sea, and took the town.
Sindh was first captured by the Muslims after a small but dramatic incident. It was in 712 when a shipwreck with the wives and children of Arab traders sailing from Sri Lanka to Mecca caused them to ground in the Gulf of Debal. They were captured and presented before the Hindu king, Dahir of the Chach dynasty . When this news was received by Hajjaj, the Arab governor of Iraq, he became furious. So, he sent his nephew and son-in-law, Muhammad bin Kasim, who was seventeen at the time, with a huge army to punish King Dahir and retrieve the Muslims. They killed Dahir and conquered his kingdom. Dahir’s queen nonetheless had put up mighty resistance. The kingdom to the north, Multan, also fell.
Within this new kingdom of Arab Muslims, no one else was Muslim. And the Koran said that only Jews and Christians, as “people of the book,” could be tolerated. All other non-Muslims should have a choice of converting or die. However, Kasim decided to treat them in the same manner as “people of the book.” This was later supported by the ulamas or Islamic scholars.
Thus, the Hindus and Buddhist were allowed to practice their own religion. Nonetheless, Kasim sent back to his uncle large amounts of cash, treasure, and slaves. Why this conquest appeared to be fairly easy was not only did Kasim have a large army, but also because of the lack of unity in the kingdom of Debal.
Dahir was a Brahmana ruler, having acquired the kingdom from the previous Rajput rulers. So, there was some inter-caste and inter-religious tension that hindered the necessary unity needed in defending the kingdom. Furthermore, Dahir was known for his liberality and secularism, and allowed not only Arab Muslim traders to settle there, but also Buddhists and Parsis to practice their path with no interference. Dahir had also allowed refuge to some Sassanians who had recently been defeated by the Arabs in Persia. So, Kasim’s invasion may have been a retaliatory strike against the Sassanians and a means to stop any strike from a Sassanian-Sindh attack against Arabs in Persia.
In any case, Dahir was not prepared, was overly tolerant, lackadaisical, and when he needed strength the most, it was not there. This is not all that dissimilar from the situation we find in India today amongst its politicians who focus more on their own political career than on the future and strength of the country and people. And this was but one of the first attacks by Islam, which certainly paved the way for what happened next.
This was followed by Kasim’s conquest of Alor, located north of Hyderabad, in June, 712. Th e next year Kasim also conquered the important city of Multan. From the time of the first Muslim invasions, India’s history became a long series of attacks, massacres of thousands of people, and destruction of thousands of temples. And this was all in the name of “holy war” for the pleasing of Allah. Even the American historian Will Durant stated that the Islamic conquest of India is probably “the bloodiest story in history. . . its
evident moral is that civilization is a precious good, whose delicate complex order and freedom can at any moment be overthrown by barbarians invading from without and multiplying from within.” If this is not a warning for considering in the present time, then I do not know what is.
Although at the time, Muhammad bin Kasim had occupied some cities in Sindh, his successors led some raids towards Punjab, Rajasthan, and Saurashtra, but they were defeated and driven back. By the middle of the 8th century, they controlled only the cities of Multan and Mansurah. It was over 200 years later that Alptigin the Turk , in 963, seized Ghazni, the capital of Zabul. And it was his successor, Subuktigin , who seized Kabul from the Hindu Shahiyas just before his death in 997. It is said that the conquest of Afghanistan near 1000 CE was followed by the slaughter of the entire Hindu population within the area.
That is why the region is called Hindu Kush, meaning “Hindu slaughter,” where Hindu slaves from the Indian subcontinent were slaughtered in harsh Afghan mountains to the extent that their blood formed streams that fl owed down the hillsides. It was Subuktigin’s son, Mahmoud Ghazni , who went on to conquer the Northwest Frontier and part of the Punjab, and led 17 attacks into India between 1000 and 1027. His main interest was in destroying temples, taking treasures which funded his attacks, capturing slaves, and killing the infidels.
He was extremely cruel, and had a goal to make such an attack on India every year in order to destroy Vedic culture and wipe out what he called idolatry. Nonetheless, there were times when he had to make a hasty retreat in the face of the Hindu counterattacks. After Mahmoud died in 1030, the Jats and Gakkhars gave relentless trouble to the Muslims of Sindh and the Punjab. Lahore became the capital of the later Ghaznavids when they were pushed out of Afghanistan by the Ghurids in the last quarter of the 12th century.
It was another 150 years before Muhammad Ghuri planned his invasions in an attempt to conquer India. He first tried to attack Gujarat in 1178, which met with disaster from the defenses of the Chaulukyas, and he almost lost his life. At Tarain in 1191 he was carried half-dead from the battlefield. Finally, in 1192, he won his fi rst victory over the Hindus by resorting to cruel trickery which the chivalrous Rajputs did not foresee. In this way, it was not so easy for the Muslim attackers to have their way with the Hindu warriors.
Nonetheless, Muhammad Ghuri occupied the Chauhan kingdom of Haryana, Ajmer, Aligarh, and Bayana in 1192-3, and the Gahadvad kingdom of UP in 1194-5. His generals went on to conquer South Bihar, West and North Bengal, and parts of Bundelkhand. Finally, he was assassinated by the Gakkhars in 1206. Th e Shamsi dynasty was established in Delhi in 1210, which were followed by several other Muslim dynasties.
The Bahmani Sultans of central India made a rule to kill 100,000 Hindus every year. And in 1399, Timur killed 100,000 Hindus in a single day, plus more at other times. It is suggested by the historian K. S. Lal that between the year 1000 and 1525, the Hindu population decreased by as many as 80 million. This is probably the biggest holocaust in the history of the whole world, right there in India.
Source: Stephen Knapp-Crimes Against India/Image from Wikipedia
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