Tuesday, 5 December 2017

The Establishment of the Delhi Sultanate

*Muhammad Ghuri's Conquests* == *Causes of Muslim Success* == *Organization of the Delhi Government* == *Mongol Invasions* == *Administration* == *The Problem of Succession* == *The Struggle between the Nobles and the Sultan*

[[37]] AFTER the death of Mahmud in 1030 there were occasional incursions into Hindu territory from Ghazni and the Ghaznavid base at Lahore, but no major territorial change took place, and Hindu India enjoyed a respite from foreign invasion for a century and a half. This did not lead, however, to national consolidation, and a number of principalities grew up in different parts of the subcontinent. In the north, the most important were the kingdoms of Delhi and Ajmer, Kanauj, Bundhelkhand, Gujarat, Malwa, and Bengal. Occasionally they would come together for some common purpose, but normally there was no cooperation among them, even in the face of the danger that threatened them from the northwest. Perhaps the relative freedom from Muslim raids during the first part of the twelfth century made them forget their perilous position, but, for whatever reason, their disunity made it possible for a determined leader to deal with them one after the other.

Muhammad Ghuri's Conquests

It was this situation that was exploited to the full by Muhammad Ghuri, who had been placed in charge of Ghazni by his brother, the sultan of Ghur, in 1173. For the next thirty years Ghazni was the base from which Muhammad mounted his attacks on India; unlike the raids of the previous Muslim rulers of the mountain areas, these were aimed not at acquiring plunder and glory but at the political control of northern India. From this time on, the story of Islam in India is one of expansion and the building up of a great empire that would be based not on Ghazni or Ghur but on Lahore and Delhi.

To attain his object, Muhammad first had to bring the Muslim kingdoms on the frontier under his control. Soon after the conquest of Ghazni he accomplished this by occupying Multan and Uch in [[38]] 1175. At that time the most frequented route from Ghazni into India was not the well-known Khyber pass, or the Bolan pass in the south, but the Gomal, which leads to the district of Dera Ismail Khan in what is now West Pakistan. Muhammad Ghuri followed this route, and for some years left Peshawar and Lahore undisturbed. After occupying Upper Sind he turned in 1178 to Anhilwara or Patan, the capital of Gujarat, possibly with the hope that its riches would provide an economic basis for his military schemes. He was defeated, however, and had to change his strategy. Turning to the Khyber and the Punjab, he took Peshawar in 1179, Sialkot in 1185, and Lahore in 1186. In the winter of 1190–91 he conquered the Hindu fort of Bhatinda and placed it in charge of a governor. He was returning to Ghazni when he received information that Prithvi Raj of Ajmer and Delhi was on his way to Bhatinda and that immediate help was needed. Part of the sultan's army had already dispersed, but in view of the danger to which Bhatinda was exposed, Muhammad Ghuri returned and met the forces of Prithvi Raj at Tarain (modern Taraori), near Karnal. The Rajputs attacked with such vigor that both wings of the Muslim army were driven from the field. Its center stood firm under Muhammad Ghuri and, in a determined charge on the Hindu center, he attacked Govind Rai, the raja's brother and the commander-in-chief of the Indian army. Muhammad Ghuri struck Govind Rai with a lance, shattering his teeth, but the Hindu general drove his javelin through his opponent's arm. The sultan, faint from pain and loss of blood, was about to fall from his horse when a young Khalji with great presence of mind sprang upon his horse, steadied him, and carried him back to the place where the Muslim army had halted. Here a litter was hastily prepared, and the army returned to Ghazni in comparative order.

This was the first major defeat suffered by Muslims in northern India, and on his return to the capital Muhammad Ghuri meted out exemplary punishment to the army chiefs who had fled from the battlefield. As a severe penance for himself, he did not wear fine clothes or engage in any festivities for a year, but concentrated all his energies on preparations for a return to India.

The two armies met again in 1192 on the battlefield of Tarain. The [[39]] Indian army far exceeded Muhammad Ghuri's forces in number, but his brilliant generalship and superior tactics gave him a decisive victory. The Indian commander-in-chief fell on the battlefield, Prithvi Raj was captured in the course of flight, and the Indian army was completely routed. This victory made Muhammad Ghuri master of Delhi and Ajmer. He left Qutb-ud-Din Aibak to consolidate the new conquests at Kuhram (in East Punjab), but in conformity with Muhammad ibn Qasim's policy of appointing local governors, a son of Prithvi Raj, was made governor of Ajmer. Prithvi Raj himself was taken to Ajmer, where, after some delay, he was found guilty of treason and executed. A few of his coins with the Sanskrit superscription "Hammira" (Amir) on the obverse have been found, suggesting that he had initially accepted Muslim suzerainty.

Muhammad Ghuri, who had returned to Ghazni after the battle of Tarain, was back again two years later to deal with the powerful raja of Kanauj. The ensuing battle was severely contested, but the Muslims were victorious and added a great kingdom to their dominion. Meanwhile, early in 1193, Aibak had occupied Delhi, the future seat of Muslim power in India. Hazabr-ud-din Hasan Adib, an adventurous officer, had conquered Badaun in the heart of the Gangetic plain even before Muhammad Ghuri had taken Bhatinda, and Malik Hisam-ud-din Aghul Bak, another leader of the vanguard of Islam, had established himself in Oudh.

These brilliant victories, indicative of the spirit and resourcefulness of early Muslim officers, were soon eclipsed by the exploits of Ikhtiyar-ud-din Muhammad, the son of Bakhtiyar Khalji, who had been assigned certain villages in Oudh. From his advance base between the Ganges and the Son he raided Bihar and Tirhut. His successes attracted so many adventurers that he was able to invade and conquer southern parts of Bihar, probably in 1199. Later he presented himself to Aibak, who gave him his recent conquests as a fief.

This encouraged Ikhtiyar-ud-din to extend the Muslim dominion to the most eastern parts of the subcontinent. In 1201 he left Bihar with a large body of horse and marched so rapidly against Nadiya, the capital of Bengal, that when he arrived at the city only eighteen of his companions had been able to keep pace with him. Nadiya was [[40]] partly deserted at this time, and the Muslim commander and his eighteen companions were able to pass through the city gates unchallenged as horse dealers from the north. Reaching the raja's palace on the banks of the Ganges, they cut down the guards, but Raja Lakshmansena escaped through a postern gate by boat. The valiant eighteen held their own until the rest of the army arrived; then took complete control of the capital, laying the foundation of Muslim rule in the northwestern part of Bengal. The raja fled to Vikrampur (near modern Dacca), where his family continued to rule for three generations.

After his victory over the raja of Kanauj Muhammad Ghuri was preoccupied with the affairs of Central Asia, as he had succeeded his brother as sultan in 1202. He suffered a defeat in 1205 at the hands of the Qara Khitai Turks, and rumors spread that he had been killed. This led the Khokhars and some other tribes in the Salt Range of the Punjab to rebel, under the leadership of a renegade raja. They defeated the deputy governor of Multan, plundered Lahore, and, by stopping communication between that city and Ghazni, prevented the remittance of revenue from the Punjab. The situation became so serious that it required the sultan's personal attention; and in October, 1205, he left Ghazni for India. Only after the arrival of Aibak with fresh reinforcements was the rebellion completely crushed. Muhammad permitted his troops to return to their homes to prepare for his planned operations in Central Asia, and he himself was returning to Ghazni with a small contingent when on March 15, 1206, he was assassinated near Damiyak, probably by an Ismaili fanatic.

The death of Ghuri within fourteen years of the victory at Tarain was a great blow to the rising Muslim power in India, but his task had been nearly accomplished. Nearly all of northern India was under Muslim rule, and in Aibak, Iltutmish, Nasir-ud-din Qabacha, and Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khalji, he left a group of capable officers who could complete his task. Many of them, including Aibak and Iltutmish, who later became rulers of India, were slaves, a reminder of the important place well-trained and loyal slaves had in the early Muslim dynasties. Brought from all over Central Asia, often members of ruling families that had been defeated, they provided generals and [[41]] governors who were often more trustworthy than sons or other relatives.

Causes of Muslim Success

The sweeping victories won by Muhammad Ghuri and his generals at the end of the twelfth century tend to give the impression that the conquest of North India was an easy and uninterrupted process. That this was not the case is shown by the reverses suffered by Ghuri himself as well as by the strong counteroffensives mounted by individual Hindu rulers. The most important factor in the success of the Muslims at this time was probably the quality of the rank and file and of their commanders. Not only were Muslim commanders able to wipe out the effects of various setbacks, but they showed superior generalship against heavy odds in victories such as that at Tarain. They were able also to exploit their limited resources to the fullest possible advantage by adopting the most suitable tactics, such as the feigned withdrawal of Ghuri at Tarain and the shock of a sudden surprise at Nadiya by Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar. Another factor which materially contributed to Muslim success was superior horsemanship, and in fact the victories of Muslims over much larger Hindu armies may be considered the victory of the horse over the slow-moving elephant.

Other factors also contributed to Muslim success. They were always on the offensive and had the advantage of greater initiative and selectivity. Fighting hundreds of miles away from their homes, they had to fight desperately, as they had no easy means of escape. Religious ardor must also have acted as a spur to their fighting qualities. The soldiers were not confined to one class, as was generally the case with Indian armies, but contained picked and zealous soldiers from all classes and even different ethnic groups, such as the Turks, Tajiks, Khaljis, and Afghans.

While these factors were responsible for the speedy conquest of northern India, the consolidation of Muslim rule owed not a little to another event which was a tragedy for the Muslim countries of central and western Asia. This was the Mongol invasion, which drove [[42]] large numbers of refugees, amongst whom were princes, chiefs, soldiers, scholars, and saints, to Muslim India. Thus a vast reservoir of manpower became available to the new government at Delhi, and these people, having suffered so much, did not spare themselves in making India a "Citadel of Islam."

Organization of the Delhi Government

After Muhammad Ghuri's assassination in 1206 the control of his Indian possessions passed to his slave Qutb-ud-din Aibak, while the rest of his empire became the scene of a struggle between various claimants for power. This meant, in effect, that henceforth the Indian provinces of the Ghuri dynasty were independent; Aibak may thus be reckoned the first independent Muslim ruler of northern India, the founder of the Delhi Sultanate. He had been bought as a young man by the qazi of Nishapur who, recognizing his ability, gave him a good education. After the qazi's death he was sold to Muhammad Ghuri, under whom he served as a commander, and when Ghuri returned to Ghazni as sultan, Aibak remained as viceroy of his Indian province. In the inevitable confusion that followed the sultan's death, Aibak had himself crowned at Lahore, and although he acknowledged the supremacy of the new ruler at Ghuri, he himself was given the title of sultan, and was virtually independent. A source of perplexity for later jurists in connection with this assumption of power was that Aibak's formal manumission from slavery did not take place until 1208; yet under Islamic law an unmanumitted slave could not be a ruler. In any case, his own successors for the next ninety years were originally either slaves or descendants of slaves.

Aibak's main work had been accomplished as the deputy of Sultan Muhammad Ghuri. After his accession to the throne he made no new conquests but consolidated the Muslim dominion by following a policy of conciliation and open-handed generosity which earned him the title of lakhbakhsh, or “ the giver of lakhs.” Aside from this, he commenced building two magnificent mosques at Delhi and Ajmer. He was evidently a patron of letters, for two historians, Hasan Nizami and Fakhr-i-Mudabbir, dedicated their works to him. His career was cut short by early death in 1211 as the result of a polo accident. [[43]] Aibak's son succeeded him, but the Delhi nobles soon replaced him by Shams-ud-din Iltutmish, Aibak's son-in-law. The new ruler was faced with a very difficult task, for not only was Muslim rule in India far from consolidated, but powerful military leaders in Bengal, Punjab, and Multan challenged his authority. Yildiz, the ruler of Ghazni, laid claim as Muhammad Ghuri's successor to suzerainty over all the latter's Indian conquests. The Hindu chiefs had by now recovered from the stunning effects of Muslim victories and were winning back many of the strongholds originally conquered by the Muslims. Kalinjar had been recovered as early as 1206, and in course of time Jalor, Ranthambhor, Gwalior, and even Badaun, where Iltutmish held his last post before accession to the throne, were lost to the Muslims. In Oudh and the Doab the situation was even worse, and Minhaj-us-Siraj speaks of a Hindu chief named Bartu "beneath whose sword above a hundred and twenty thousand Musalmans had attained martyrdom."/1/

Iltutmish, trained in the traditions of Ghuri and Aibak, moved slowly against his host of enemies. He first consolidated his authority in the areas of Delhi, Badaun, Oudh, and Benares, and then dealt with his Muslim opponents one by one. In 1216 he defeated and captured Yildiz who, after his expulsion from Ghazni by the Khwarizmshahis, had occupied Lahore. In 1225 he turned his attention to Bengal and forced the local ruler to abandon his royal title, acknowledge the authority of Delhi, and pay regular tribute. After this he dealt with Nasir-ud-din Qabacha, the powerful and popular ruler of Sind and western Punjab. On February 9, 1228, he arrived at Uch, Qabacha's capital, and opened siege. Uch surrendered on May 4, and a few days later Qabacha, who had moved to the island fortress of Bhakkar (situated between modern Sukkur and Rohri), found a watery grave in the Indus.

Mongol Invasions

An important development of Iltutmish's reign which had indirect but far-reaching consequences for the new empire was the rise of the [[44]] Mongols under Chingiz and Hulagu, and their "dance of death" in central and western Asia. The Mongol invasion, the greatest blow which the Muslim world ever suffered, is the dividing point of Islamic history. The modern evaluation of the Mongol advance as a catastrophe for Islam was shared by contemporaries, one of whom, the historian Ibn-ul-Athir, called it, "the death blow of Islam and the Muslims." Beginning in 1219 with Chingiz Khan's invasion of Transoxiana, it brought destruction to large cultivated areas, ruin to libraries and madrasas, and endless slaughter to men, women, and children. It culminated in the sack of Baghdad, and the end of the Abbasid caliphate at the hands of Hulagu Khan in 1258. A quotation from E. G. Browne summarizes the extent of the catastrophe: "In its suddenness, its devastating destruction, its appalling ferocity, its passionless and purposeless cruelty, its irresistible though short-lived violence, this outburst of savage nomads hitherto hardly known by name even to their neighbors, resembles rather some brute cataclysm of the blind forces of nature than a phenomenon of human history. The details of massacre, outrage, spoliation, and destruction wrought by these hateful hordes of barbarians who, in the space of a few years, swept the world from Japan to Germany would … be incredible were they not confirmed from so many different quarters."/2/ That India was spared the full force of invasion can be attributed in large part to the vigilance and resourcefulness of the Delhi sultans.

Iltutmish's government first felt the impact of the gigantic military movement when Jalal-ud-din, the ruler of Khwarizm, whose father had attracted the wrath of Chingiz Khan, crossed the border with 10,000 men and sought aid from Iltutmish. Realizing the peril of getting embroiled in a dispute with the Mongol chief, Iltutmish gave skillfully evasive replies, and thus averted the danger of the Indian subcontinent being involved in the first onrush of the Mongol invasion. But the Mongols continued to move toward the subcontinent, and in 1241, during the chaos following Iltutmish's death, they destroyed Lahore. They remained entrenched on the frontier for several years, and for nearly half a century the principal preoccupation of the Delhi government was the defense of the subcontinent from the [[45]] fate suffered by central and western Asia. Thanks to Balban's efficient measures and Ala-ud-din Khalji's military prowess this danger was averted, but the indirect consequences of the Mongol eruption and their activities beyond the border were not trifling. The danger in the north was partly responsible for Balban's ruthless policy of internal consolidation and centralization (about which more will be said later). The Mongol atrocities in Muslim countries and the threat to their newly won empire also steeled Muslim hearts in the subcontinent and inspired them to great efforts. And, again, the great influx of refugees from the Muslim countries of Central Asia, Khurasan, Iran, Iraq, and modern Afghanistan into the newly conquered territories provided the human resources needed for the consolidation of Muslim rule and the firm planting of Islamic religion in the subcontinent. These developments continued throughout the greater part of the thirteenth century, but they began during Iltutmish's reign, and a large number of distinguished refugees came to his court./3/


Iltutmish rivals Balban for the distinction of being the greatest of the Slave Kings. Although it was Balban's transformation of the royal position that became firmly ingrained in the fabric of Muslim government, Iltutmish's work was historically of great importance. Aibak had done little but maintain the position he had acquired from Ghuri; it was Iltutmish who consolidated the Indian possessions into an independent kingdom. Not only had he to deal with powerful Muslim rivals and the Hindu counter-offensive, but he also had to build up the fabric of a new administration and organize different departments of the central government at Delhi. A skillful organizer, he dealt with the problems of administration in the same manner that he handled threats to the security and the integrity of the realm. In this his task was greatly facilitated by the model of government organization that had been established at Ghazni and the copious literature that had appeared on statecraft and the art of government in [[46]] Muslim countries. By now some of the classics of Muslim political theory, such as the Arabic Ahkam-us-Sultania, the Persian Qabus Namah (1082), and the Siasat Nama (1092) had already been written, in addition to similar works that have perished. The historian Ziya-ud-din Barani (1285–1357) quotes Balban as speaking of two works on statecraft—Adab-us-Salatin and Maasir-us-Salatin—which were brought from Baghdad in Iltutmish's reign./4/ He also seems to have received assistance from scholars versed in the principles of Muslim political theory and governmental organization, and Adab-ul-Muluk, the first Indo-Muslim classic on the art of government and warfare was written for him. With this background, he was able to lay the basis of a well-coordinated structure of government.

Aside from the influence of the Ghaznavid system of government and the principles of statecraft learned from the texts on politics, the pattern of the new government established at Delhi was determined by Iltutmish's own temperament and the realities of the Indian situation. Much of the territorial expansion of Muslim India had been the work of individual nobles and resourceful adventurers. These men and others who had risen to prominence in the service of Muhammad Ghuri or Iltutmish by this time possessed large tracts of land. Since their privileges were not curtailed, a loosely knit, decentralized form of administration came into existence. Iltutmish made no attempt to weaken the position of his nobles, and indeed felt himself one of them. He used to declare that God Almighty had raised him above his peers who were a thousand times better than he. Barani quotes him as saying: "When they stand before me in the durbar I feel abashed at their grandeur and greatness, and desire that I should descend from the throne and kiss their hands and feet."/5/

It was also typical of Iltutmish that he did not adopt a hostile policy towards the Sufis, but valued and respected them as a source of spiritual and moral strength. The high education which he gave to his daughter Raziyya, and his preference of her as his successor to the throne, suggests that he was free from the prejudices of his Turkish [[47]]

*INDIA IN 1236*

[[48]] nobles. He tried to maintain a balance between the Turks, who were the all-powerful generals and governors, and the Persian-speaking Tajiks, who provided the scribes who dominated the imperial secretariat. After his death the balance was seriously upset, but by then the basic task of organizing the new Muslim government had been accomplished.

One of the crucial problems facing Iltutmish was the position of Hindus in a Muslim state. By this time Muslim law had been codified, and the freedom of action enjoyed by Muhammad ibn Qasim five centuries earlier in Sind was denied him. Three out of four schools of Islamic law favored the extermination of all idolators, but the practice, initiated by Muhammad ibn Qasim and maintained by the Ghaznavids, of treating idolatrous Hindus at least as privileged zimmis proved more powerful. When the ulama urged Iltutmish to give effect to the opinion of the majority of the founders of Islamic schools of law, he convened a conference and called upon his wazir, Nizam-ul Mulk Junaidi, to explain the position. The wazir argued that since India had only recently been conquered, and since the Muslims were fewer in number than the Hindus, it would not be wise to attempt a course of action that might lead to disturbances. This argument was accepted, and the status quo was maintained. The possibility of imposing the viewpoint of the majority Islamic law was never again raised in the form urged by the ulama. The course adopted was in consonance with fourth school of law (Hanafi), which has been accepted by the vast majority of Indian Muslims./6/

Iltutmish took other steps to strengthen the fabric of the new government. To give it a legal basis in the eyes of the orthodox, he is said to have sought confirmation of his royal title from the Abbasid caliph of Baghdad. On February 19, 1229, the caliph's envoy arrived with a robe of honor and delivered to Iltutmish a patent which conveyed recognition of his title as the sultan of India. The caliph's recognition was largely a formality, and this seems to be one of the two occasions when a ruler of Delhi troubled himself about obtaining foreign recognition, but in the initial stages of Muslim rule this step was useful. It confirmed the sovereignty of Delhi against the claims of [[49]] Ghazni, giving it a legal basis in the eyes of the orthodox, and it also silenced those local rivals who challenged the sultan's authority.

After this investiture, Iltutmish attended to the coinage, an important symbol of sovereignty. The name of the caliph was inscribed on the coins issued from the royal mint, and the sultan was described as "Helper of the Commander of the Faithful." So far the Muslim rulers had issued small bullion coins of the native form inscribed in Devanagari, the Indian script, or in Arabic characters, and bearing symbols familiar to the Hindu population such as the Bull of Shiva and the Chauhan horseman. Iltutmish now introduced purely Arabic coinage, discarding Hindu symbols, and adopted as a standard coin the silver tanka, the ancestor of the modern rupee.

Delhi was founded in the tenth century, but before the Muslim occupation it was not a large city, ranking below Ajmer in the Chauhan kingdom. Since it could not meet the requirements of the large population attracted by the seat of the new government, Iltutmish had to provide it with proper amenities and adorn it as the imperial capital. He built or completed the Qutb Minar, greatly extended the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, giving it a distinctly Islamic look, and constructed a large water reservoir (Hauz-i-Shamsi) to meet the needs of Delhi citizens. The educational needs of the people were also looked after, for the Madrasa-i-Nasiri, of which the historian Minhaj-us-Siraj was the head at one time, was built in his reign./7/

While Iltutmish's outlook and political philosophy were reflected in the salient features of his administration, he was fortunate in receiving competent assistance and guidance from some able and farsighted people. Principal amongst these co-workers was his wazir, Nizam-ul-Mulk Kamal-ud-din Muhammad Junaidi, a man of culture, a distinguished patron of learning, and a statesman of strong views. The historian Aufi dedicated his famous Jawami-al-Hikayat to him, and in a number of verses and poems interspersed in the book he praised Junaidi's wisdom, statesmanship, skill in warfare, and generosity. The contemporary poet Reza also wrote many poems extolling these qualities of Junaidi and has mentioned as well his calligraphy [[50]] and excellent literary style. Isami also praises him in his history, Futuh-us-Salatin, mentioning that it was Junaidi who had purchased Balban as a present for Iltutmish. Junaidi's strength of character may be seen from the fact that when Iltutmish's worthless son, Rukn-ud-din Firuz, began to squander public money after his father's death, the wazir risked his office and refused to support him. He also refused to take the oath of allegiance to Raziyya, who had ascended the throne without consultation with the provincial chiefs and the wazir. The most fruitful part of Junaidi's career was under Iltutmish, when he was in charge of the entire government, including civil and military departments, and even religious functions which were later entrusted to the sadr-i-jahan. Barani's account of the conference which was convened to determine the treatment of the Hindus shows that in such major political issues Junaidi's opinion counted for much. He advocated a humane line of action, and though he based his viewpoint on the grounds of expediency, he achieved the practical end he had in view. The prominent role which he played in dealing with this difficult and crucial question would suggest that he had an equally important part in the formulation of other decisions and actions of Iltutmish's government.

The Problem of Succession

The problem of a successor troubled Iltutmish during his last days. His eldest son had died, and his other sons were worthless; his own choice was his able daughter Raziyya, but he knew the Turkish nobles were opposed to the idea of a woman ruler. He tried various solutions to deal with the situation. When he set out for Gwalior in 1231, he left Raziyya in charge of the capital, and was so satisfied with her handling of government affairs during his long absence that on his return he considered issuing a proclamation appointing her his heir. Her name was included along with that of the sultan in a series of coins, but for one reason or another Iltutmish did not take the final step of naming her his successor. He entrusted the viceroyalty of Lahore to his eldest surviving son, Rukn-ud-din Firuz, to see how he fared. Before he could decide the question of succession, [[51]] Iltutmish fell seriously ill and the matter was still unsettled when he died. Firuz ascended the throne with the support of army leaders, but he started squandering public funds and misusing power in such a way that the provincial governors revolted. Firuz left the capital to deal with the rebels when one of the most gruesome tragedies of early Muslim rule took place.

Firuz's misbehavior and the high-handedness of his mother Shah Turkan had offended so many people that even the Wazir Nizam-ul-Mulk Junaidi left the sultan to join his opponents. This brought to a head the bitter antagonism that existed between two court factions, the Tajiks and the Turks. The Tajiks were Persian-speaking Turks who had migrated from Turkish homelands. Their contribution to the building of the early Muslim state at Delhi was very substantial, and not only did they monopolize the higher posts in the Delhi secretariat, but also they dominated the literary and intellectual life. The wazir himself was a Tajik. So was Minhaj-us-Siraj, the historian and the future chief justice. Along with other notables they were openly hostile to Firuz. This so enraged the sultan's Turkish supporters that they massacred all the Tajik notables who were present in the royal camp. The list of casualties preserved by Minhaj-us-Siraj reads like a roll-call of the Delhi court./8/ Practically all the leading literary figures of Iltutmish's reign were extinguished on one dark day. The tragedy damaged irreparably the influence of the Tajiks and also impoverished the intellectual life of the new state.

While Rukn-ud-din Firuz's supporters were destroying the flower of the imperial secretariat, his sister Raziyya made a bold bid for the throne. Clad in red, she appeared before the people gathered for Friday prayers in the principal mosque at Delhi and appealed to them in the name of Iltutmish to give her a chance to prove her worth. This dramatic gesture evoked great response, and the people of Delhi, who so far had not taken the oath of allegiance to Firuz, accepted her claim. On his return, Firuz was imprisoned and subsequently put to death, but Rizayya's accession, which had been effected without consent of the provincial governors or even of the wazir, was doomed from the beginning. For the powerful nobles considered her accession [[52]] was unprecedented; her discarding of the veil and her severity swung public opinion against her. She tried to create dissension among her opponents, but the elevation of an Abyssinian to the major post of amir-i-akhur (commander of the cavalry) gave serious offense to the Turkish nobles and they rose in rebellion against her. Her followers murdered the Abyssinian and imprisoned her while she was camping at Bhatinda to deal with the rebels. Her efforts to weather the storm by marrying Altuniya, the rebel governor of Bhatinda, failed to save her. Her brother Bahram, who had been proclaimed sultan of Delhi during her absence, entrusted young Balban, their father's slave, with the task of dealing with Raziyya and her husband's troops, and Balban carried out the mission with the competence which was, in course of time, to carry him to the throne of Delhi. Raziyya and Altuniya were defeated, deserted by their troops, and murdered by the Hindus in the course of their lonely flight (October 14, 1240).

Raziyya's brief reign also saw a bid for power by the Ismailis, a heretical sect which once had sought to assassinate Iltutmish. On Friday, March 5, 1237, nearly a thousand of them, incited by the harangues of a fanatical preacher, Nur Turk, entered the great mosque of Delhi from two directions and attacked the congregation. Many fell under their swords, but the Turkish nobles assembled their troops who, aided by the congregation, overpowered and slaughtered the insurgents.

The Struggle between the Nobles and the Sultan

Raziyya's end highlighted a development which, though visible even in the success of nobles in sponsoring the claims of Iltutmish against those of Qutb-ud-din, Aibak's son, had become more marked since the death of Iltutmish. This was the question of the right and power of the nobility to determine the choice of the sultan and place limitations on his power and sphere of activity. After Raziyya was defeated and imprisoned, her half-brother Muizz-ud-din Bahram was proclaimed sultan, but "on the stipulation of Deputyship being conferred on Malik Ikhtiyar-ud-din Aetkin," who "by virtue of his Deputyship … took the affairs of the kingdom into his own hands, [[53]] and, in conjunction with the wazir [Muhazzab-ud-din] … and Muhammad Iwaz, the mustaufi [the auditor-general] assumed control over the disposal of state affairs."/9/ There is an analogy in this action to that taken in the same century by King John's barons in England, but the arrangement at Delhi broke down at once.

The basic responsibility for the failure was that of the deputy who, as the nominee of the nobles, started assuming royal prerogatives, and took steps which alarmed the new monarch. He married the sultan's sister, assumed the triple naubat, the drums which were a symbol of sovereignty, and stationed an elephant at the entrance of his residence. These developments annoyed the youthful monarch, and he secretly encouraged violent measures to deal with the situation. Within three months of his assumption of office, the deputy was assassinated in the royal presence at a gathering arranged to hear a sermon. The wazir was also attacked by the assassins but managed to escape.

This was not the end of the struggle between the nobles and the sultan. Badrud-din-Sunqar, the amir-i-hajib (lord chamberlain) assumed the direction of state affairs, but he suffered from the sultan's hostility and lack of cooperation from the wazir. He called a meeting of the principal nobles, including the highest financial and judicial officials of the realm. They discussed recent events among themselves and sent the mushrif-i-mumalik (accountant-general) to invite the wazir to join them. The wazir promised to come, but instead conveyed the news of what was happening to the sultan. Bahram immediately mounted his horse and reached the place where the meeting was being held. He took Sunqar with him, but so strong was the power of the nobles that no real punishment was inflicted on the leader of the conspiracy. He was sent to Badaun, which was given to him as a fief. Qazi Jalal-ud-din was relieved of the office of the chief qazi (which was a few weeks later conferred on Minhaj-us-Siraj), and some of the other collaborators left the capital, fearing unpleasant developments.

The wazir now became all-powerful, but the attack had shown Bahram's real sentiments toward him. He soon joined hands with the nobles to depose Bahram, who was dethroned on May 10, 1242. The principal senior noble, Izz-ud-din Kishlu Khan, now made a bid for the [[54]] throne, but his associates repudiated him, choosing instead Iltutmish's grandson, Ala-ud-din Masud. Qutb-ud-din Husain of Ghur was named deputy, but the real power remained with the wazir. The Turkish amirs, the soldier-administrators of the realm, did not like the concentration of power in the hands of someone selected from the "writer" class, so they joined forces and had him assassinated. The submissive Najm-ud-din Abu Bakr now became wazir, and Balban, Iltutmish's slave, was appointed to the key post of Amir-i-Hajib. Ala-ud-din Masud continued to rule for more than four years with tolerable success, but later when he tried to curb the power of the nobles he alienated the most powerful of them. He was deposed on June 10, 1246, and the nobles, among whom Balban played a dominant role, enthroned Iltutmish's youngest son, Nasir-ud-din Mahmud.


/1/ Minhaj-us-Siraj, Tabaqat-i-Nasiri, trans. by H. G. Raverty (Calcutta, 1881), I, 628–29.
/2/ E. G. Browne, A Literary History of Persia (Cambridge, 1928), II, 427.
/3/ H. M. Elliot and John Dowson, The History of India as Told by Her Own Historians (London, 1867–1877), III, 98–99.
/4/ Ziya-ud-din Barani, Tarikh-i-Firuz Shahi, ed. by S. A. Khan (Calcutta, 1862), pp. 144–45.
/5/ Barani, p. 137.
/6/ S. A. Rashid in Medieval Indian Quarterly, Vol. I, No. 3 and 4, pp. 104–5.
/7/ U. N. Day, The Administrative System of the Delhi Sultanate (Allahabad, 1959), p. 160.
/8/ Minhaj-us-Siraj, I, 635.
/9/ Minhaj-us-Siraj, I, 649–50.

The Heritage of Ghazni and Bukhara

The Heritage of Ghazni and Bukhara

*Invasions from Ghazni* == *India at the Time of the Invasions: Al-Biruni's Account* == *Mahmud's Successors* == *Results of the Ghaznavid Invasions* == *The Cultural Legacy* == *The Central Asian Heritage*

[[22]] THE ARAB conquest of Sind and southwestern Punjab was completed by 714, and during the following three centuries there was no further extension of Muslim dominion. The second phase of Muslim expansion, beginning with the establishment of a Turkish Muslim dynasty in Ghazni, followed the traditional northwestern routes for the invasion of India.

In 642 the Arabs had defeated the Sassanid ruler Yezdegerd and become masters of Iran. After this, operating from Fars by way of Kirman, they set about conquering the eastern provinces of the Iranian empire. Under Qutaiba ibn Muslim they conquered Transoxiana as far as Khwarizm and Samarqand (711-712), and within a century of the death of the founder of Islam the Arabs were masters of Khurasan, Balkh, and Mawara-un Nahr (Transoxiana). It was the Arab occupation of Transoxiana that paved the way for the Muslim conquest of India, for it established a link between the Turkish homeland and Islam. From this time the Turks were to play an important role in the Muslim world, and were the main force behmd the conquest of the subcontinent.

Invasions from Ghazni

The first inroad into the heart of the area which is now Afghanistan was made by Yaqub ibn Lais, the Saffarid, who captured Kabul in 870 and founded Ghazni at about the same time. Kabul was, however, lost by his successor to Hindu rulers known as the Hindu Shahis, whose capital was at Waihind (Ohind), near modern Peshawar, and whose rule extended to Kabul in the west and the Bias River in the east.

In the meanlime the Samanids (874-999) had established themselves [[23]] at Bukhara and gradually brought the greater part of the territory to the east of Baghdad under their sway. Persian in origin, they favored the Persian language. Rudaki, the Chaucer of Persian poetry, flourished at the Samanid court, and Persian replaced Arabic as the official language.

Under the Samanids Turkish slaves gained political and military importance. One of these, Alptigin, rebelled against his Samanid masters and established himself at Ghazni in 962. In 977, Subuktigin, a Turkish slave upon whom Alptigin had bestowed the hand of his daughter, ascended the throne of Ghazni and proceeded to expand his kingdom by annexing adjacent areas in Khurasan, Seistan, and Lamghan. Alarmed at the rising power of the new Turkish principality, Jaipal, Shahi raja of Waihind, took the offensive and advanced toward Subuktigin's capital. The two armies met between Lamghan (modem Jalalabad) and Ghazni. Jaipal was defeated, and was forced to agree to pay a large indemnity to the Turkish ruler. He defaulted and tried to avenge his loss, but he was again decisively defeated, and Subuktigin followed up his success by forcing Jaipal to cede the territory between Lamghan and Peshawar .

Later Muslim historians often represent Subuktigin as a champion of the faith, whose "chief occupation was the propagation of Islam with fire and sword among the idolators of India," but, in fact, he never crossed the Indus, and the only two expeditions in which he took the initiative "were undertaken rather as measures of reprisal and for the purpose of securing his dominion than with any intention of propagating his faith."/1/ Subuktigin, however, paved the way for the more active efforts of his son Mahmud by occupying the key city of Peshawar and building roads leading to the Indian frontiers along which his son marched during his numerous expeditions.

Even more important was the development of Ghazni as a base of operations against India. It reached its zenith in the succeeding reign when it became a center of political power, organized administration, and literary culture, second in importance only to Baghdad in Muslim Asia. Even under Subuktigin it surpassed Bukhara in importance, [[24]] and began to attract a large number of Turks who were to form the spearhead of the attack against the Indian subcontinent.

Subuktigin died in 997, and after a brief struggle his son, known to history as Mahmud of Ghazni, succeeded him. Brilliant and ambitious, Mahmud at once turned his attention to India. He had taken part in all of his father's campaigns against Jaipal, and knew the weakness of the Indian armies as well as the riches of the kings and temples. The series of invasions he launched against the sub-continent were to carry his armies farther than any previous Muslim ruler had penetrated. His first important battle was fought near Peshawar on November 28, 1001, and ended with the defeat and capture of his father's old opponent, Raja Jaipal. Jaipal obtained his release by paying ransom, but his repeated defeats had lost him the confidence of his people, and he named his son Anandpal as his successor. Following the Rajput custom, he immolated himself on the flames of a funeral pyre.

Three years later Mahmud made another expedition to India to punish the raja of Bhatiya (the modern Bhera), a principality that had been friendly to Subuktigin but had failed to provide help against Jaipal. The raja was defeated, but on his return Mahmud found himself in a difficult position. He lost most of his baggage in crossing the rivers of western Punjab, and was attacked by Abul Fath Daud, the Ismaili ruler of Multan. In 1005 Mahmud returned to punish Daud, but his passage was obstructed by Anandpal. Daud shut himself up in the fort at Multan and obtained pardon on payment of ransom and the promise to abjure Ismaili doctrines. Anandpal was defeated, and Mahmud appointed Sukhpal (a grandson of Jaipal who had accepted Islam and was now known as Nawasa Shah) as governor of Waihind, and returned to Ghazni.

This first attempt to establish a center of Muslim authority east of the Indus through a scion of the old ruling family did not succeed. Nawasa Shah apostasized, started expelling Muslim officers, and proposed to rule either as an independent king or as the vassal of his uncle Anandpal. Mahmud returned to deal with the situation in 1008 and found Anandpal fully prepared. He had obtained help [[25]] from the Hindu rajas of Ujjain, Gwalior, Kalinjar, Kanauj, Delhi, and Ajmer. It appears that by now Hindu India was alive to its peril. Not only did the rulers from northern and central India send their contingents, but, according to Firishta, even the masses were highly enthusiastic, and the Hindu women sold their ornaments and sent their savings to help the army. The battle was fought at a place between Peshawar and Waihind. Mahmud took special precautions, for his army was breaking down under the charge of the warlike Khokhars when a fortunate accident decided the day in his favor. Anandpal's elephant took fright and fled with his royal rider. The Rajput army, believing the raja's flight to be intentional, broke up and dispersed, hotly pursued by the Muslims, thus converting what looked like a Hindu victory into a defeat.

The defeat of the great Hindu confederacy was a turning point in Mahmud's career. So far his campaigns had been confined to the neighborhood of the Indus. The breakup of the Hindu army emboldened him, and now he marched against the more distant Nagarkot (Kangra), where there was no resistance. Nagarkot contained an ancient temple which, like other Hindu temples of the period, was a great repository of wealth donated by rich votaries. Mahmud returned laden with booty, and for the rest of his life the ancient Hindu religious centers with their treasure hoards accumulated over centuries were to exercise a powerful fascination over him. His future expeditions went even farther afield. Tarain (1010), Thanesar (1014), the distant Kanauj (1018), and Kalinjar (1022) were scenes of Mahmud's exploits, in which he was uniformly successful. He did not try to establish his rule at any of these places, but he left a governor at Lahore in 1020, which now became incorporated into the Ghaznavid empire.

The most dramatic of Mahmud's campaigns was against Somnath, the wealthy religious center on the shores of the Indian Ocean. The dash to this distant goal, through an unknown and unfriendly area, across the deserts of Rajputana and marshes of Cutch, was a remarkable feat of courage, planning, resourcefulness, and tenacity of purpose. In spite of the hardships which Mahmud and his army had [[26]] to suffer on the return journey, the expedition was completely successful in its object. Mahmud returned laden with riches of an extent until then unheard of in Ghazni.

Mahmud set out on the expedition to Somnath in October, 1024, and did not return to his capital until the spring of 1026. Except for a brief punitive expedition in the autumn of the same year against the Jats of Sind who had harassed him during his return from Somnath, Mahmud did not return to India. Henceforth affairs in Central Asia occupied him until his death in 1030.

A brave and resourceful general during thirty years of ceaseless warfare, Mahmud never suffered defeat. He was a cultured monarch, and by his munificence attracted great poets and scholars to his court, making Ghazni the rival of Baghdad in the splendor of edifices and the number of men of culture and learning. He lacked the constructive genius of Muhammad Ghuri, and in spite of having overrun a great part of northern India, established Muslim dominion only up to Lahore, but he made the work of the later conquerors easier.

India at the Time of the Invasions: Al-Biruni's Account.

For our knowledge of India in this period we are indebted to one of the most remarkable of Islamic writers, Abu Raihan al-Biruni. His stay in what is now West Pakistan could not have been long, but his accounts of Indian customs and manners, as well as his observations on the Islamic conquest, are among the most penetrating that we have. He was born in about 973 in Khwarizm (modern Khiva) and soon distinguished himself in astronomy, mathematics, logic, and history. Some time before 1017 Mahmud was able to persuade him to come to Ghazni, but evidence of close contact between the sultan and al-Biruni is lacking. He was evidently in greater favor with the next ruler, Masud, to whom he dedicated his work, Qanun-i-Masudi. His other works include the Chronology of Ancient Nations, an introduction to astrology, a treatise on materia medica, astronomical tables, a summary of Ptolemy's Almagest, and several translations from Greek and Sanskrit. He must have written some books in [[27]] Sanskrit, as at one place he writes of "being occupied in composing for the Hindus a translation of the books of Euclid and of the Almagest, and dictating to them a treatise on the construction of the astrolabe, being simply guided herein by the desire of spreading science."/2/ However the work which is of special interest is his famous Kitab-ul-Hind, a masterly survey of the religion, sciences, and social customs of the Hindus, which was completed shortly after Mahmud's death. As a study of an alien civilization his book represents the peak of Muslim scholarship, and remains unsurpassed as a masterpiece of erudite learning, penetrating observation, and unbiased appraisal of Hindu culture. In the preface to his book al-Biruni discussed the principles which should guide a scholar in treating of societies and religious systems other than his own. He criticized the tendency to misrepresent other societies or to depend on "second-hand information which one has copied from the others, a farrago of materials never sifted by the sieve of critical examination." The principle which he adopted was to adhere to the accounts of the Hindus as given in their own authentic works. Of his own work he said: "This book is not a polemical one. I shall not produce the arguments of our antagonists in order to refute such of them as I believe to be in the wrong. My book is nothing but a simple historic record of facts. I shall place before the reader the theories of the Hindus exactly as they are, and I shall mention in connection with them similar theories of the Greeks in order to show the relationship existing between them."/3/

Al-Biruni considered the Hindus to be excellent philosophers, good mathematicians, and sound astrologers. He fully appreciated their mental achievements, and when he came across anything noble in their sciences or practical life he did not fail to praise it. Writing about the great tanks, or reservoirs, at holy places he remarked, "In this they have attained a very high degree of art, so that our people when they see them wonder at them and are unable to describe them, much less to construct anything like them."/4/

[[28]] But while al-Biruni had a sympathetic understanding of the profound achievements of Hindu society, there were Indian attitudes and customs that seemed to him to indicate fundamental weaknesses. The chief of this is summed up in his often-quoted analysis of the tone and temper of contemporary Hindu society: "We can only say that folly is an illness for which there is no medicine, and the Hindus believe that there is no country but theirs, no nation like theirs, no kings like theirs, no religion like theirs, no science like theirs. They are haughty, foolishly vain, self-conceited, and stolid. They are by nature niggardly in communicating that which they know, and they take the greatest possible care to withhold it from men of another caste among their own people, still much more, of course, from any foreigner."/5/

There can be little doubt that these attitudes help to explain the successes of Mahmud and later invaders. An open, dynamic society, which had adopted ideas and techniques from many quarters, had an enormous advantage when it faced a culture that had ceased to be receptive to alien influences.

Mahmud's Successors

After Mahmud's death in 1030, his son Masud succeeded in establishing his claim to the throne. Masud soon turned his attention to India and replaced the governor of Lahore with Ahmad Niyaltigin, his father's treasurer. The instructions issued to the officers at Lahore at the time of Ahmad's administrative reorganization are interesting. "They were not to undertake, without special permission, expeditions beyond the limits of the Punjab, but were to accompany Ahmad on any expedition which he might undertake; they were not to drink, play polo, or mix in social intercourse with the Hindu officers at Lahore; and they were to refrain from wounding the susceptibilities of these officers and their troops by inopportune displays of religious bigotry."/6/

[[29]] Ahmad Niyaltigin soon got into difficulties, however, with Abul Hasan, who had been sent by Masud to collect the revenue and inquire into the affairs of the earlier administration. It seems that when Ahmad returned in 1034 from a very successful raid against Benares he had failed to remit the spoils of victory to Ghazni. This gave Hasan the opportunity to send reports to Masud that Ahmad, utilizing the plunder of Benares to raise a powerful army, was on the point of revolt. Masud decided upon punitive action against the governor, and the command of this responsible and hazardous expedition was entrusted to Tilak, one of his Hindu generals. "When Tilak arrived at Lahore, he took several Musulmans prisoners, who were the friends of Ahmad, and ordered their right hands to be cut off; ...the men who were with Ahmad were so terrified at this punishment and display of power, that they sued for mercy and deserted him."/7/ Tilak pursued Ahmad with a large body of men, chiefly Hindu, and after the erstwhile governor was killed in an encounter, his head was taken to Ghazni.

Masud came to India in 1037 and, in fulfillment of a vow taken during an illness, attacked and captured the fortress of Hansi, hitherto considered impregnable by the Hindus. During his absence the Saljuq Turks invaded the western and northern territories of the Ghaznavid empire and occupied Nishapur. Masud returned to deal with them, but his Hindu contingent failed conspicuously against the Saljuqs, and Masud fled toward Lahore. When the royal party reached Marigal pass between Rawalpindi and Attock, Turkish and Hindu guards mutinied, and the sultan's brother was placed on the throne. However Masud's son, Maudud, defeated his uncle and in 1042 became sultan.

During Maudud's reign, Mahipal, the raja of Delhi, made a determined attempt to oust the Ghaznavids from the Punjab. He recaptured Hansi, Thanesar, and Kangra and besieged Lahore, but was unable to take the town. In 1048 Maudud appointed two of his sons to the government of Lahore and Peshawar, and sent Bu Ali Hasan, the kotwal of Ghazni, to deal with the Hindu resurgence. These [[30]] measures were successful, but Maudud died shortly thereafter in December, 1049.

The next important ruler was Sultan Ibrahim, whose long and peaceful reign of forty years (1059-1099) constitutes the golden period of Ghaznavid Punjab. Ibrahim had ensured the stability of his northern and western frontiers by entering into a treaty with the Saljuqs, and his son Masud II married the daughter of Sultan Malik Shah. Secure at home, Ibrahim could pay full attention to India, and in 1079 he crossed the southern border of the Punjab, capturing Ajodhan, now known as Pakpatan. His military commander at Lahore, the brilliant Abul Najm Zarir Shaybani, was constantly on the offensive, and carried out successful raids against Benares, Thanesar, and Kanauj. The main achievement of Ibrahim's reign, however, was Lahore's rise as a great cultural center under the viceroyalty of Shirzad, his grandson. Ibrahim was succeeded by his son Masud III, who ruled peacefully for sixteen years (1099-1115). Shirzad succeeded him, but he was deposed in the following year, and then after a brief rule by Arsalan, Bahram came to the throne, which he held for thirty-four troubled years (1118-1152).

The trouble came mainly from the chiefs of Ghur, a hilly area between Herat and Kabul that had been conquered by the Ghaznavids in the time of Mahmud, but that had remained virtually independent. Out of the quarrels was to come the destruction of the Ghazni dynasty and its replacement by one based on Ghur. During Bahram's reign Qutb-ud-din Muhammad, a Ghuri chief, took the title of malik-ul-jabal (the king of the mountains). Bahram gave him his daughter in marriage, but later, suspecting treachery, had his son-in-law poisoned. To avenge his death, his brother Saif-ud-din collected a large body of men at Firuz Kuh, the capital of Ghur, and set out for Ghazni. He defeated Bahram and forced him to flee to India, but in 1149 Bahram returned suddenly to Ghazni, surprised Saif-ud-din, and reoccupied his capital. Saif-ud-din, who had surrendered on the promise that his life would be spared, was put to death under abhorrent circumstances. This aroused the ire of another brother, Ala-ud-din Husain, known to history as Jahan Soz (the world-burner), who took a terrible vengeance. Capturing Ghazni in 1151, he reduced its splendid [[31]] buildings to ashes and desecrated the graves of its kings. The same process of destruction was repeated in the provinces.

Bahram reoccupied what remained of Ghazni when Ala-ud-din Husain was defeated and temporarily imprisoned by the Saljuq Turks. This relief was only temporary, however, for after Bahram's death in 1152 his successor was driven out of Ghazni by the Ghuzz tribe of Turkmans. All that was left to the Ghaznavids was their Indian province of Lahore, where they maintained their rule after the loss of Ghazni.

Meanwhile the power of the Ghuri chieftains revived, and in 1173 two nephews of Ala-ud-din Husain succeeded in taking the city from the Turkmans. The older of the two, Ghiyas-ud-din, became sultan of the Ghuri kingdom, which he governed from Firuz Kuh, in the area now known as Hazarajat. The younger brother, Muiz-ud-din Muhammad, was stationed at Ghazni as the deputy of the sultan, and from here he undertook the conquest of the subcontinent. His first move was against Lahore, where the last of the Ghaznavids, Khusrau Malik, was finally defeated in 1186, and the area was added to the Ghuri kingdom. The subsequent career of Muiz-ud-din, or, as he is known in Indian history, Muhammad Ghuri, will be traced in the following chapter, but since his triumphs mark the end of one period of Muslim-Hindu contact and begin another, it will be convenient at this point to summarize the general results of the impact of Islam after the time Mahmud of Ghazni made his first raids at the beginning of the eleventh century.

Results of the Ghaznavid Invasions

The example set by Mahmud of Ghazni of raiding India and sacking its wealth, particularly that stored in the great temples, was repeated by his successors whenever the opportunity arose. The effect of this on the country can easily be imagined, and al-Biruni's description of the result of Mahmud's raids can scarcely be doubted. "Mahmud," he wrote, "utterly ruined the prosperity of the country, and performed wonderful exploits by which the Hindus became like atoms of dust scattered in all directions, and like a tale of old in the [[32]] mouth of the people. Their scattered remains cherish, of course, the most inveterate aversion towards all Muslims. This is the reason, too, why Hindu sciences have retired far away from those parts of the country conquered by us, and have fled to places which our hand cannot yet reach, to Kashmir, Benares, and other places."/8/

Over against this dark picture, however, must be set evidence that suggests that even during the Ghaznavid period there were peaceful contacts between Hindus and Muslims. The caravan routes between Kurasan and India were reopened, for example, as soon as mIlitary operations were over. Furthermore, according to Ibn-ul-Athir, there had been Muslims in the Benares area "since the days of Mahmud bin Subuktigin who continued faithful to the law of Islam, and constant in prayer and good works."/9/ There is a persistent local tradition in certain old centers in the heart of Uttar Pradesh that Muslim families had settled there long before the conquest of the area by Muhammad Ghuri. In the city of Benares there are Muslim mohallas, which, it is said, are anterior in date to the conquest of Benares by the Muslims, and similar traditions are current about Maner in Bihar./10/

The only area of which anything like a recorded history for the Hindu period is available is Kashmir, and from there we get information regarding the peaceful presence of the Muslims among the Hindus. "Muslim traders and soldiers of fortune began to enter Kashmir from an early date. Kalhana records that Lalitaditya's son and successor Vajraditya sold many men to the mlecchas, and introduced practices which befitted the mlecchas." Later Harsa (d.1101 ) employed Turkish soldiers and, under Muslim influence, adopted elaborate fashions in dress and ornaments. During the brief reign (1120-1121) of Bhikshachara, Muslim soldiers were again employed. From the accounts of Marco Polo, it appears that by the end of the thirteenth century there was a colony of Muslims in Kashmir, for he says that the people of the valley do not kill animals, but that if they want to eat meat, "they get the Saracens who dwell among them, to play the butcher." These "Saracens" must have been [[33]] either emigrants from Turkistan or Hindus converted to Islam by the pietist missionaries from India and Central Asia./11/

The position of Hindu generals, soldiers, and scholars at the Ghaznavid court is also significant. Even Mahmud, the iconoclast, had a contingent of Hindu officers and soldiers. He richly rewarded at least one Sanskrit poet, and had Hindu pandits at his court. He also issued coins with Sanskrit inscriptions. The Hindu position seems to have improved greatly in the days of his successor, Masud. Only fifty days after the death of Mahmud, his son despatched Sewand Rai, a Hindu chief, with a large body of Hindu cavalry in pursuit of the nobles who had espoused the cause of his brother. Sewand Rai died in the ensuing battle, but his selection for this important assignment indicates his position of trust and eminence. Five years later, Tilak, another Hindu general, acquired a dominant position. The son of a barber, he became a confidant of Khwaja Ahmed Hasan Maimandi, the influential wazir of Sultan Mahmud. The khwaja made Tilak his secretary and interpreter, and in 1033, when news was received from Lahore of the rebellion of Ahmad Niyaltigin, it was Tilak who was sent to deal with the situation. The extreme measures taken by the Hindu general against the Muslim partisans of Ahmad show his confidence and sense of security.

The importance of the Hindus in Masud's army may be judged by the fact that at the battle of Kirman they formed half of the cavalry, there being two thousand Hindus, one thousand Turks, and one thousand Kurds and Arabs. They fared very badly in this battle, and later six of their officers committed suicide in accordance with Rajput practice. The Hindu contingent was later equally ineffective at Merv. These repeated disasters must have led to the reduction of the Hindu element in the Ghazni army, but contemporary evidence suggests that the Hindu position under the Ghaznavids was very much better than it was to be in the early days of the Delhi Sultanate.

The Cultural Legacy

Of more lasting importance than the vicissitudes of the house of Mahmud is the cultural heritage of Ghazni, particularly in relation [[34]] to that part of the Ghaznavid empire which now constitutes West Pakistan. The court chroniclers of Ghazni have not paid the subject much attention, but there are ample indications in contemporary literature that the Muslim government at Lahore was well organized and vigorous and that the city had become a great cultural center. Usually a distinguished royal prince was appointed the naib (viceroy or deputy) of the Punjab, and maintained an elaborate court. The long and peaceful reigns of lbrahim and his successor Masud III, provided the opportunity for the cultural growth of Lahore. The city owed much to Abu Nasr Farsi, the distinguished secretary of Shirzad who was viceroy for many years. He established a khanqah (hospice) at Lahore which attracted scholars from far and near. "In large numbers seekers after knowledge from all parts of India, and the territories of Kashgar, Transoxiana, Iraq, Bukhara, Samarqand, Khurasan, Ghazni, Herat, etc., benefited by the same. Consequently a new settlement grew up in the neighborhood of Lahore."/12/

The first Persian poet of the area mentioned in literary histories was Masud Razi (d.1077). Razi recited a poem in Masud's court in which he appealed to the sultan to deal with the growing menace of the Saljuqs. "The ants have become snakes," he said, and "may become dragons, if neglected." The sultan, resenting this overt reference to his weakness, exiled the poet to the Punjab./13/ Next year he relented and put Razi in charge of affairs at Jhelum, but did not permit his return to Ghazni. With the exception of a few verses his work has perished, but the diwan of his distinguished son, Abul Farj Runi, who spent most of his time at Lahore, has survived and has been published in Iran.

The most notable poet of the period, however, was Masud Sa'ad Salman, whose father held a high office under the viceroy. Masud was born in Lahore about 1048. A great favorite of Prince Saif-ud-daula Mahmud, the viceroy of Hindustan, he composed many qasidas eulogizing the victories of his patron. When the prince fell out of favor with the sultan the poet lost his jagir, and was later imprisoned [[35]] for ten years because of his suspected share in Saif-ud-daula's treasonable proceedings. Released shortly before Sultan Ibrahim's death in 1099, he was given responsible posts, including the governorship of Jullundur. When his patron Abu Nasr Farsi incurred royal displeasure, Masud was again imprisoned. He was released in about 1107, became the royal librarian, and after arranging his voluminous diwan, died in 1121 or 1122. Masud wrote in Persian, Arabic, and old Hindi, but no specimen of his verses in the last two languages is extant. His Persian works have led an Iranian critic to include him among the ten greatest poets of the Persian language./14/ His most moving poems were composed in captivity and express a nostalgic longing for Lahore. In one he wrote:

Thou knowest that I lie in grievous bonds, O Lord!
Thou knowest that I am weak and feeble, O Lord!
My spirit goes out in longing for Lahore, O Lord!
O Lord, how I crave for it, O Lord!

And in another he remembers how,

The Id festal time is come, and I am far from the face of that charming sweetheart;
How can I live without the sight of that houri of Paradise?
Who shall say to me, "O friend, a happy Id to thee!"
When my sweetheart is at Lahore and I in Nishapur?
Why do I long for the city of Lahore and my beloved?
Well, was there a man who did not miss his sweetheart and his native land?

Among the prose writers of this period the most famous was the saint Ali Hujwiri, popularly known as Data Ganj Bakhsh of Lahore, who died in 1071. He wrote both in prose and verse, but his diwan was lost during his lifetime, and the few verses that are quoted in his prose works are not of a high order. His fame as an author rests on Kashf-al-Mahjub (The Unveiling of the Hidden), the oldest extant work on Sufism in Persian./15/ The value of Kashf-al-Mahjub lies not only in the authentic information which it gives about the earlier and contemporary mystic orders, but also in the fact that it is a systematic [[36]] exposition of mysticism. It has long been regarded as a standard textbook by Sufis.

The Central Asian Heritage

Arab rule in the Sind had brought Islam to India, and had set a pattern for dealing with the conquered peoples as well as facilitating fruitful contact between Hindu and Islamic civilizations; the Ghaznavid occupation of Lahore had even more far-reaching cultural results. Persian, which was adopted as the court language and was the vehicle of literary and cultural expression during the Ghaznavid period, continued to hold this position throughout Muslim rule. The branch of Persian which remained current in Muslim India was the eastern branch in vogue in Afghanistan and Central Asia, and not the pure Persian of Isfahan and Shiraz.

Partly because the linguistic affinity, and partly because the waves of the immigrants who established Muslim culture in India, came through Ghazni and Bukhara, the entire cultural pattern of Muslim India was dominated by the Central Asian tradition. This continued until the days of the Mughals who, although themselves Turks from Central Asia, established closer contacts with Iran and Arabia. Even then, out of several strands which provided the warp and woof of Muslim civilization in India, the most dominant was the influence of Central Asia. After the establishment of Muslim Delhi, the ad- ministrative system was modeled on that of Ghazni. Muslim political institutions, military and administrative organization, ethics, and jurisprudence, in fact the entire pattern of Muslim life, bears the imprint of Ghazni and Bukhara. It was the Hidaya of a Central Asian lawyer which became the standard legal textbook in Muslim India. The same tradition gained preeminence in other spheres. This tradition became firmly entrenched when a large number of Muslim scholars, writers, and darvishes from Central Asia took refuge in Muslim India to escape Mongol atrocities.


/1/ Sir Wolseley Haig in The Cambridge History of India (Cambridge, 1928). III, 12.
/2/ E. C. Sachau, Alberuni's India (London, 1914), I, 137.
/3/ Sachau, I, 6-7
/4/ Sachau, II, 144.
/5/ Sachau, I, 22-23.
/6/ Cambridge History of India, III, 29.
/7/ H. M. Elliot and John Dowson, The History of India as Told by Its Own Historians (London, 1867-1877), II, 132.
/8/ Sachau, I, 22.
/9/ H. M. Elliot and John Dowson, The History of India as Told by Its Own Historians (London, 1867-1877), II, 251.
/10/ H. R. Nevill, ed., Benares: A Gazetteer. VoI. XXIV of District Gazetteer of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh (Lucknow, 1922).
/11/ Mohibul Hasan, Kashmir under the Sultans (Calcutta, 1959), pp. 234-35.
/12/ Quoted in M. A. Ghani, Pre-Mughal Persian in Hindustan (Allahabad. 1941), p. 194
/13/ M. H. K. Sherani, Panjab men Urdu (Lahore. 195?), pp. 32-33.
/14/ Ghani, pp. 200-2.
/15/ Kashf a/-Mahjub, trans. by R. A. Nicholson (London, 1911).

Muslim Civilization in India - S. M. Ikram -The Impact of the Arabs

Muslim Civilization in India
S. M. Ikram
edited by
Ainslie T. Embree

New York: Columbia University Press, 1964
(presented here through the generous permission of Columbia University Press)

Chronology and Dynasties, 712-1526  
First Phase


The Sultanate 
 I. The Impact of the Arabs
  [[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.