Bk. I ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 4
Brahmanahad, married Rani Ladi, widow of Dahir, and became the master of lower Sind.
The Arab general spent time in organising the administration of the conquered area, and on 3 Muharram 94/9 October 712 started for Aror (near modern Rohri), which was the capital of Dahir and was at that time held by one of his
- sons. After a brief siege, the town surrendered and soon Muhammad b. Qasim proceeded to complete the conquest of upper Sind. He next turned towards Multan. The city was well fortified, and resisted capture for two months, but 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 (95/713). After the occupation of Multan, Muhammad b. Qasim ”carried his arms to the borders of the kingdom of Kashmir. Threatened by the Arab advance, the Raja of Kashmir sent an envoy to the Chinese emperor asking for help.” He received no aid but the Arab general’s own dismal fate stopped further Arab advance. Muhammad b. Qasim was now master of the whole of Sind and part of Punjab, up to the confines of Kashmir in the north and the borders of Rajputana in the east, but a tragic end awaited him. Hajjaj’s pohcv of extremism, partisanship, and violance incurred new Caliph’s wrath and Hajjaj’s familv had to pay the penalty Sulaiman appointed a nev, governor, recalled Muhammad b Qasim. and handed him to an officer who had the young conqueror of Sind tortured to death in a prison in Iraq
the Arabs dl I ,’T ^ COmParat^ «se with vvhieh the Arabs defeated the Ind.an forces and occupied a large erntory was due to the quality of their troops, L ability of he rml.tary commander and the superiority of Arab
The Arabs and the Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent
[ Ch. 1
Nirun, the Buddhist priests had welcomed the general, and at Sehwan the populace revolted against the Hindu governor and submitted to Muhammad b. Qasim.
The popular dissatisfaction with the former rulers also contributed to the success of the Arabs. A large bulk of the population of Sind and Multan was Buddhist, but in 622, Chach, a Brahman minister of Buddhist king, had usurped the throne, and the rule of his dynasty was naturally not popular with large sections of the people. Even the chiefs and officials were quick to change over to the Arabs. Professor Majumdar remarks:
”To the inexplicable want of strategy on the part of Dahir 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 (sacred books) 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 also due to personal feelings against the son of the usurper who had driven out the old royal family.”1
Dahir’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 (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 and the Meds, who were ”forbidden to carry arms, wear silk garments, or ride on horseback with saddles and they were commanded to walk about bare-headed and bare footed and accompanied by dogs.”2 Muslims who were fighting his son easily 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 b. Qasim’s banner, ”Which
History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan
The Arabs and the Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent
independent of its moral effect in dividing national sympathies, and relaxing the unanimity of defence 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”.
Personality and Methods of Muhammad b. Qasim. Muhammad b. 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 Hajjaj, but he had already been a successful governor of Shiraz and the way he carried out his assignment in the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent fully justified the choice. His great achievement was, of course, as a military commander as well as the way in which he and his troops overwhelmed bigger forces. Preparations for the expedition were made by Hajjaj with his usual thoroughness, down to the provision of needles and thread, but there were many unforeseen and unforeseeable contingencies which the young commander had to face and tackle with his own resources. His strategy was faultless and he combined great courage and resourcefulness with moderation and statesmanship of a high order. We do not have a full account of his personality and methods of work, but enough is on record to show that he was a methodical, disciplined, shrewd and humane individual, displaying a political sagacity and military skill far above his years. He had a warm, humane personality ready to enjoy the humour of new and odd situations and the 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 and without demur submitted to the others of the new Caliph in his last supreme act of self-renunciation.
Muhammad b. Qasim 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 Dahir, 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 b. Qasim achieved his objectives more by negotiation and the grant of liberal terms than by sanguine warfare.
The administrative structure built up by Muhammad b. Qasim has been described elsewhere. Essentially, it was on the pattern followed by early Muslims in other conquered countries like Egypt. Muhammad b. Qasim’s personal contribution lay in his quick grasp of the situation and the manner in which he handled it. He made systematic efforts to seek out officers of the old regime, showered honours and favours on them, and made them his collaborators in the task of administration. First amongst them was Moka, claimant to the chieftainship of Bait, a fortress on the banks of the Indus. He was captured and brought before Muhammad b. Qasim, who treated him with utmost kindness and consideration. His territory was restored to him ”and a hundred thousand dirhams were given as a reward. A green umbrella surmounted by a peacock, a chair, and a robe of honour were bestowed upon him. All his Takars (Thakurs) were favoured with robes and saddled horses”.3 Chach Namah records that ”the first umbrella of Rangi or chiefship’ was thus obtained by Moka. After this treatment Moka naturally became a faithful ally. Even more important was the submission of Sisakar, the minister of Raja Dahir. He offered to surrender if his life was spared. Muhammad b. Qasim readily promised this, and also conferred ”the office of Wazir” on him. Sisakar brought the Muslim women, whose capture by pirates had brought Hajjaj’s wrath upon Dahir, and became the principal adviser of the Arabs ”Muhammad Qasim told him all his secrets, always took his advice, and consulted him on all the civil affairs of the government, his political measures, and the means of prolonging his success.”4 When the Arabs reached northern Sind, they needed somebody well acquainted with the conditions of that area. About this time a
Bk. I ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 8
messenger from Kaksa, a cousin of Dahir, arrived at the Arab camp. Muhammad b. Qasim received him cordially and tickled his vanity by saying that the princes of Dahir’s family were ”all wise, learned, trustworthy, and honest.”5 He offered to make Kaksa his counsellor and this offer was accepted. ”The
- minister Kaksa was a learned man and a philosopher of Hind. When he came to transact business, Muhammad Qasim used to make him sit before the throne and then consulted him and Kaksa took precedence in the army before all the nobles and commanders. He collected the revenue of the country, and the treasure was placed under his seal. He assisted Muhammad Qasim in all his undertakings, and was called by the title of Mubarak Mushir (prosperous counsellor).”6 Trust begets trust and the generosity shown by Muhammad b. Qasim to leading Indian administrators was rewarded by their loyal and enthusiastic co-operation. Guided by their advice and by his own nobles, he followed a policy which was greatly appreciated by local population. His benevolent and sympathetic regime was so popular that the historian Baladhuri, dealing with the sad end of the Arab general, says: ”The people of Hind wept for Muhammad, and preserved his likeness at Kiraj.”7
Arab Administration. The Arab administration in Sind, as already observed, followed the general pattern adopted by the Arabs in other newly conquered countries. The normal rule was to employ local talent to the fullest and make the minimum changes in local practices. The Arabs established themselves in large towns which also became military cantonments. The Second Caliph ’Umar (13-23/634-644), acknowledged as ”the chief creator” of the Arab system of administration, and regarded by a non-Muslim scholar as ”the greatest and most farsighted statesman amongst the Arabs,”8 had laid down the working principle that the Arabs should not acquire landed property in the conquered territories. Under the system evolved by him the general of the army conquering a new territory became its governor, but ”most of the subordinate officers
The Arabs and the Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent
were allowed to retain their posts”. Such evidence as is available about Sind shows that these injunctions were observed. The Arabs provided military garrison, while civil administration was left largely in the hands of local chiefs, only a few of whom had accepted Islam.
The Umayyads who succeeded the Khulafa ’-l-Rashidin and who moved the Arab capital from Medina to Damascus, made a few changes in the system of government, under the influence of the Byzantine civilisation to which they became heirs. They produced some gifted administrators, but under them the administration was not so elaborate and highly departmentalised as it became under the Abbasids who drew upon the experience of the Sasanid emperors. The pattern of the Arab administration in Sind also remained simple and free from over-centralisation and complicated departmentalisation.
The Umayyads were worldly in their outlook and practical in their approach. They represented the old tribal aristocracy of the Arabs, and in their handling of the conquered territories the virtues of the Arab aristocracy are visible. Besides the normal features of Arab administration evolved in the days of Caliph ’Umar and the Umayyad caliph, ’Abdul Malik, the arrangements in Sind were influenced by the advice of Hajjaj to whom many problems were referred. His political sagacity and realistic approach to politics is evident in the guidance which he gave to his nephew on numerous occasions. Chach Namah gives an interesting account of the general principles which Hajjaj emphasised in a letter to Muhammad b. Qasim: ”You must know that there are four ways of acquiring a kingdom :-- firstly, courtesy, conciliation, gentleness, and alliances; secondly, expenditure of money and generous gifts; thirdly, sound judgment in the opposition of the enemies, and in understanding their behaviour; fourthly, the use of overawing force, power and strength and majesty in checking and expelling the enemy.”9
The Brahmanabad Settlement. Under the administrative arrangements which, after his victory over Dahir, Muhammad b. Qasim made with non-Muslims and which are often referred
Bk. I ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 10
to as the Brahmanabad Settlement, the basic principle was to treat them as ”the People of the Book,” and to confer on them the status of the dhimmis (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 the later opinion, the dhimmis could not repair their places of worship, though the old ones were allowed to exist. The question of repairing a damaged temple came up before Muhammad b. Qasim who referred the matter to Hajjaj. The latter consulted the ulema of Damascus, and sent the reply granting the permission asked for and, in fact, laid down that so long as the non-Muslims paid their dues to the state they were free to live in whatever manner they liked. Hajjaj wrote: ”It appears that the chief inhabitants of Brahmanabad had petitioned to be allowed to repair the temple of Budh and pursue their religion. As they have 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.”10
The Arab conqueror even maintained the privileged position of the Brahmans, not only in religious matters, but also in the administrative sphere. ”Muhammad Qasim maintained their dignity, and passed orders confirming their pre-eminence. They were protected against opposition and violence. Each of them was entrusted with an office, for Qasim was confident that they would not be inclined to dishonesty. Like Rai Chach, he also appointed each one to a duty. He ordered all the Brahmans to be brought before him, and reminded them that they had held great offices in the time of Dahir, and that they must be well acquainted with the city and the suburbs. If they knew any excellent character worthy of his consideration and kindness they should bring him to notice,
The Arabs and the Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent [ Ch. 1
so that favours and rewards might be bestowed on him As he had entire confidence in their honesty and virtue, he had entrusted them with these offices, and all the affairs of the country would be placed under their descendants, and would never be resumed or transferred.”11 Even the 3% share of government revenue, which the Brahmans had been getting during the ascendency of the Brahman rulers of Sind was conceded to them.
Apart from his general religious tolerance and patronage of non-Muslim priests, Muhammad b. Qasim generally maintained the old system of taxation. According to the Chach Namah, Sisakar, the minister of Dahir who had been employed by the Arabs, used to say to Muhammad b. Qasim ”that the regulations and ordinances which the just Amir had introduced would confirm his authority in all the countries of Hind. They would enable him to punish and overcome all his enemies; for the comforts all the subjects and malguzars, takes the revenue according to the old laws and regulations, never burdens any one with new and additional taxations, and instructs all his functionaries and officers.”12
Even the arrangements which the Arab general had made for the collection of government dues were calculated to cause minimum dislocation and discomfort to the ryot. For the collection of government dues he ensured protection against oppression. According to Chah Namah: ”He appointed people from among the villagers and the chief citizens to collect the fixed taxes from the cities and the villages, that there might be a feeling of strength and protection.”13 To these officials, many of whom were Brahmans, Muhammad b. Qasim issued a directive: ”Deal honestly between the people and the Sultan,14 and if distribution is required make it with equity, and fix the revenue according to the ability to pay.”15 Orders were also issued to pay compensation to those whose property had been destroyed during hostilities. For payment of Jizyah, three grades were fixed. ”The first grade was of great men, and each of them was to pay silver, equal to 48 dirhams in weight, the second grade 24 dirhams, and the lowest grade 12 dirhams.”
Bk. I ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 12
Muslims were exempt from this tax, but they had to pay Zakat and sadaqah.
Some Western writers have observed that, in granting the rights of the dhimmis to the Hindus and the Buddhists of Sind, Muhammad b. Qasim deviated from the provisions of Islamic Law. Historically this is not correct. When the Arab conqueror made his administrative arrangements (in 93/711); Islamic Law had not been codified, and the four schools of Islamic Law-- Maliki, Hanafi, Shafi’i and Hanbali --had not come into existence. Muhammad b. Qasim and Hajjaj we^e guided by the Qur’’an^Sunnah and the practice of the early Caliphs, and their arrangements were approved by the ulema of Damascus. The fact that the provisions of Islamic Law, as codified later, were not as liberal as these early arrangements, was presumably due to the influence of other legal systems,16 and the position accorded to the Muslims and other minorities in Christian and other societies.
Later Arab Rule in Sind and Multan, Chach Namah,17 the main source of information regarding the Arab conquest and administration, ends its account with the recall of Muhammad b. Qasim and for subsequent developments one has to depend on stray remarks in the general histories of the Caliphate. In
99/717, ’Umar II (99-102/717-720) wrote to the non-Muslim princes of Sind, inviting them to embrace Islam, and amongst those who responded to the invitation was Jaisinha, son of Dahir. He, however, later recanted and rebelled against Arab authority, losing his life in the conflict. Junaid, who was senl as governor in 106/724, was not only able to deal with the rebellion of Jaisinha and his companions, but also undertook many expeditions outside Sind. He is said to have been victorious in Rajputana, Kathiawar and north Gujarat, and sent expeditions as far as jain and Malwa.18 An echo of his victories is found in the history of Kashmir, whose ruler was so troubled by the Arab pressure from the south and danger from the Turkish tribes and the Tibetans in the north, that he ”had to invoke the help of the Chinese emperor and to place himself
The Arabs and the Inch-Pakistan Subcontinent [ Ch. 1
under his protection.” Later, however, Junaid suffered defeats, and was recalled in 122/740. After him, the position of the Arabs deteiiorated, and their posts in Marwar and other places had to be evacuated. In Sind also, there was a vigorous attempt to expel the Arabs and they had to withdraw from the areas to .the south of the Indus. Junaid’s successor died within a year of his appointment, and a difficult situation had to be faced by the next governor, Hakam, who was ably assisted by a son of Muhammad b. Qasim who later acted as governor on Hakam’s death. The first step that Hakam took was to rescue the Arab troops stranded in the midst of a hostile population. Near the old city of Brahmanabad and at a site, nearly forty miles northeast of modern Hyderabad, he established a stronghold, where all the forces which had been withdrawn were collected. This was called Mahfuzah (the Abode of Safety). When this operation was completed, he reorganised the army and opened an offensive. Before long, Hakam was able to restore Arab domination in Sind and opposite the town of Mahfuzah he established a new town, Mansurah (the Abode of Victory), which became the new Arab capital.
In 133/750, the Abbasids overthrew the Umayyads and sent their own officers to Sind. The Abbasid governor Hisham, who came to Sind in 140/757, carried out successful raids against Gujarat and Kashmir, but no permanent additions to Arab dominion were made. Later, through Arab preoccupations at home, their control over Sind became slack. The process of disintegration was accelerated by tribal conflicts amongst local Arabs, who became divided into Yamani and Hijazi groups. At one time the Arab governor revolted against Khalifah al-Mamun (198-218/813-833), but the rebellion was put down. Therefore Musa, son of Yahya the Barmakid, the famous wazir of Harun Rashid, was placed in charge of the affairs of Sind. On his death in 221/836 he nominated his son ’Amran as his successor, and the Caliph recognised the appointment. This beginning of hereditary succession to the governorship meant a weakening- of the hold of P«aghdad.
Bk. I ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 14
’Amran was an energetic ruler and firmly dealt with the disturbances of the Jats and the Meds, but the internecine quarrels of Arabs again flared up and he lost his life after a brief reign. In 240/854, the Hibbari family became hereditary rulers of Sind, with Mansurah as their capital. In course of time, Multan became independent, and the Hindus re-”” established 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 Fatimid rulers of Cairo. Their first da’i (missionary) came to Sind in 270/883, and started secret propaganda in favour of the Fatimid caliph. After the ground had been prepared, military aid was obtained from Cairo, and Multan was captured in 367/977 by a coup d’ etat. Isma’ili doctrines were now adopted as the official religion, and the ”khutbah was read in the name of the Fatimids. The Ismailis destroyed the old historic temple of Multan, which Muhammad b. Qasim had spared and ’eft in charge of Hindus, and built a mosque on its site. Mansurah remained with the Hibbari family, at least, till 375/985, but at a later date, this also became a small Isma’ili stronghold. The Isma’ili suffered a setback with the rise of Mahmud of Ghazni, who in 396/1005 compelled the ruler of Multan to recant from Isma’ili beliefs and some twenty years later conquered Mansurah on return from Somnath. The Isma’ili creed regained its former position when the Gaznavids became weak, but in 571/1175 Sultan Muhammad Ghuri captured Multan, appointed an orthodox Sunni as governor, and the area was incorporated in the Sunni dominion first of Ghazni, and later of Delhi.
Indo-Arab Intellectual Contacts. During the Umayyed and the early Abbasid period, the Arabs were, not only at the height of their political power, but were also very active in the intellectual field, and made every effort to ecquire 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 civilised world. So long as the seat of the
15 The Arabs and the Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent [ Ch. 1
Caliphate was at Damascus, most of the scientific books translated into Arabic were from Greek and Syriac, but when the Abbasid Caliphate was established at Baghdad, greater attention was paid to books in the Iranian and Indian languages. Indo-Arab intellectual collaboration was at its height during two distinct periods. It began during the reign of Mansur (136-157/753-774. ” As Sind was under the actual rule of Khalifa Mansur, there came embassies from the part of India to Bagdad, and among them were scholars”19 who brought important books with them. The second fruitful period was the reign of Harun Rash id (163-193/780-808) when the famous Barmakid family, which provided wazirs to the Abbasid caliphs for half a century, was at the zenith of its power. Arab bibliographers specially mention Harun’s wazir, Yahya the Barmakid, and his son Musa and grandson ’Amran who both governed Sind for some time, for their interest in India and Indian sciences. The Barmakids sent scholars to the IndoPakistan subcontinent to study medicine and pharmacology. Besides, they engaged Hindu scholars 16 come to Bagdad, made them the chief physicians of their hospitals, and ordered them to translate from Sanskrit into Arabic books on medicine, pharmacology, toxicology, philosophy, astrology, and other subjects.”20
The earliest Indo Arab intellectual contact recorded in history began in 154/771, when a Hindu scholar of astronomy and mathematics reached Baghdad with a deputation from Sind, and took with him Sanskrit work (Siddhanta by Brahmagupta)21 which he translated into Arabic with the help of an Arab mathematician. The title of three other astronomical works 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 Indo-Pakistan subcontinent to Arabic learning was the introduction of what are known in the
Bk. I ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India
West as ”Arabic numerals,” and what Arabs themselves call the ”Indian numerals” (Ruqum al-Hindiyyah).
The Indian system of medicine received even greater attention, and the titles of at lea^t fifteen v.orks m Sanskrit which were translated into Arabic have been preserved. These included books by Sushruta and Charak, 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 Shanaq’s book on poisons. It was originally translated into Persian in 200/815 *for Khalid alBarmaki, the Abbasid wazir, and ten years later was translated into Arabic. Indian doctors enjoyed great prestige at Baghdad. Their names, like the titles of their works, have been mutilated beyond recognition in the Arab bibliographies, but their number was very large One of them, Manka, was specially sent for from India when Harun Rashid fell ill and could not be cured by the doctors at Baghdad. Manka’ s treatment was successful and not only was he richly rewarded by the grateful Khalifah, but was entrusted with the translation of medical books from Sanskrit. Another Indian physician was called in when a cousin of the caliph suffered from a paralytic stroke and was given up for lost by the Greek court physician. Many Indian medicines, some of them in their original names like atrifal, which is the Hindi tnphal (a combination of three fruits), found their way into Arab pharmacopoeia.
Astrology and palmistry also received considerable attention at Baghdad, and the titles of a large number of books translated from Sanskrit on these subjects have been preserved. Other subjects on which books were translated were logic, alchemy, magic, ethics, statecraft and art of war, but the books which gained greatest popularity were linked with literature. Some of the stories of the Arabian Nights’ Entertainments are attributed to an Indian origin, though evidence on this point is not conclusive. Arabic translations of Panchtantra popularly known as the story of Kahlah and Dimnah, have become
77?^ Arabs and the Indo-Pakistan Suc?Jjcontinent \ Ch. 1
famous in various Arabic and Persian ver^^ions. The games of chess and chausar were also introduc&-~«d from India, and transmitted by the Arabs to other parts of tl~~ie world.
In spheres other than science and lear-ning also, Sind had its contribution to make Some Western scholars think that ””several elements in Islamic sufism are of Indian origin. This view is largely speculative, but the links czz>f Sind with Islamic sufism are definite.22 The great early sufi, Bayazid of Bistam, had a Sindi as his spiritual teacher. He on «*:e said ”I learnt the science of annihilation (’ilm-i fana’) and 1 ^auhid (unitarianism) from Abu ’Ali (of Sind), and Abu ’All l«^3arnt the lessons of Islamic unitarianism from me.”23 Referrinjsg to this, Professor Nicholson says: ”The Sufi conception o» f the passing-away (fana) of individual in ’Universal Being’ i s certainly, I think, of Indian origin. Its first great exponer-it was the Persian mystic, Bayazid of Bistam, who may have received it from his teacher Abu ’Ali of Sind.”24 The close asso ^nation of Sind with sufism is maintained to this day, and one ••of the most marked features of Sind is the dominant place whicb~r sufism occupies in her literature and religious life.
The above account of the Indian impa^ct 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 thatit the music of the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent had its impact c=>n Arab music, and was appreciated in the Abbasid capital. The famous Arab author, Jahiz (255/869), wrote in his accoLssnt of the people of the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent: ”Their mus-ac is pleasing. One of their musical instruments is known as KZ ankalah,25 which is played with a string stretched on a pumpkiin.” An Arab author from Andalusia (Moorish Spain) refers to a:am Arabic version of an Indian book on music dealing with tunes -and melodies.26
Professor Halim of Dacca University _, who has made a special study of Indio-Muslim music, is crDf opinion that the Arab and the Indian system of music infl-maenced each other. The geographer Mas’udi refers to the musv ical instruments of
Bk. I ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 18
the Arabs, the Persians, the Nabataeans, and ”of the people of Sind and Hind” in his Muruj al-Dhahab indicating that the Arabs were not uninfluenced by Indian music. Professor Halim quotes Lane as saying that most of the technical terms of Arab music ”are borrowed from the Persian and the Indian influences,” and adds: ”Furthermore, Indian music itself has incorporated certain Perso-Arab airs, such as Yeman and Hijj from Hijaz and Zanuglah corrupted into Jangla. Again, Arab music is similar to the system of the Greeks and the Indians being based on melody and not on harmony. Like the Indian and the Greek systems, Arab music believes in its being in consonance with nature and expressive of varied feelings, such as pleasure, sadness, fury, slumber, ecstasy and is also capable of producing wonderful effects. Consequently, the airs are sung, as in Greek and Indian systems, at fixed hours of the day and night.”27
Social and Cultural Conditions. No connected history of Sind and Multan, after the recall of Muhammad b. Qasim, is available, but the works of Arab travellers and geographers enable us to fill the gap. In particular, Mas’udi who visited what is now Pakistan in 304/915-16, has left a ”brilliant account” of the conditions in the valley of the Indus, from Waihind in the north to Debul in the south. According to him, and Ibn Hauqal who visited the area some years later, the principal Arab colonies were Mansurah, Multan, Debul, and Nirun where large Friday mosques were built. Non-Muslims formed the bulk of the population, and were in a preponderating majority at Debul and Alor. The relations between Arabs and non-Muslim population were very good. Unlike the historians of the Sultanate period, the Arab travellers refer to non-Muslims i1 dhimmis and not as Kafirs. Soon after the conquest of Sind and Multan, cow-slaughter was banned in the area. This might have been due to a desire to preserve the cattle wealth, but regard for Hindu sentiments may also have been partly responsible for this step. The Hindu chiefs, also showed a sympathetic interest in Islam, and in 273/886, a Hindu raja of
The Arabs and the Indo-Pakistan Sfubcontinent [ Ch. 1
Mehrog (?), a place said to be between Ka -sfrimir and the Punjab, obtained from Mansurah an Arab lingui st who translated the Holy Qur’an into the local language at hl_s request.28 The Arab and the local population became so closesly integrated that the Sindhi troops fought on behalf of thes Khalifah in distant countries, even as far as the Byzantine fro* ntier.29
The Arab rulers adopted local practi ces to a much greater extent than did the Ghaznavids later at HL-ahore, or the Turks’ and the Afghans at Delhi. According to Mas’uda, the ruler of, Mansurah had eighty war elephants and cmccasioraally rode in a chariot drawn by elephants. Like the Hin«cJu rajas , he wore earrings as well as a necklace, and wore his hair long. The Arabs of Mansurah were generally dressed like t^he peop-le of Iraq, but the dress of the ruler was similar to that o» -f the Hi ndu rajas.30
contact with v” Arab
the time of Mas/udi’s
in Sind but Iranian
after the rise of the
After Muhammad b. Qasim,, there wesre no largescale Arab immigrations and Arab influence was gradually diluted, but Sind and Multan remained in close countries, particularly Iraq and Egypt. At visit, Arabic and Sindi were spoken influences were also effective, particular! Dailamites when the use of Persian bec^-aime more prevalent, especially in Multan.
Arab rule produced men of note in ^S5nd and Multan-, and some of them achieved fame and distinct ion in Damascus and Baghdad. One of them, Abu Ma’shar Sum-dhl (17 1/787) was an authority of Hadith and the life of the H «oly Prophet, and was so eminent that when he died in Baghdacl , the reiigning 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 th Bk. I ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 20
Abu al-Ata Sindhi, who was taken to Syria as a captive during his childhood, and earned his manumission for a qasidah. 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 ravl to recite his verses. He wrote forceful qasidahs in praise of the Umayyad rulers, and poignant elegies on their downfall. Imam Abu Hanifah, the great founder of the Hanafi school of Islamic Law, was born in Iraq, but his family is stated to have migrated there from Sind.
Life in the Arab dominion of Sind and Multan was simple, but agriculture and commerce were highly developed. Mas’udi mentions a large number of hamlets in the principalities of Multan and Mansurah, and apparently ”the whole country was well cultivated, and covered with trees and fields.” There was active commerce between Sind and other parts of the Muslim world. ”Caravans were often passing and repassing that country and Khurasan, most commonly by the route of Kabul and Bamian. She also had communications with Zabulistan and Sijistan by way of Ghazni and Kandhar.” Sindi Hindus, who were excellent accountants and traders, had a major share in this commerce, and Alor is mentioned as a great commercial centre. 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.31
Significance of the Arab Rule in Sind. Time, man, and natural calamities have dealt harshly with the traces of Arab rule in Sind. The area has been subject to earthquakes, but more important causes of damage were floods and the changes in the course of the Indus. The cumulative result is that not one of the Arab cities has survived, and the very location of their sites has become a subject of controversy.
It is not, therefore, surprising that historians attach little importance to Arab rule in Sind, but though the visible effects were many and far-reaching. Most of them, of course, relate to
The Arabs and the Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent [ Ch.
the former province of Sind, which has been called ”the of Indo-Pakistan subcontinent”. The script adopted for the Sindhi language is Arabic-not the Perso-Arabic script used for other Muslim languages of the subcontinent -- and it contain a large proportion of Arabic words, mutilated or intact. Several leading Sindhi families have been 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 Wadeta (the word itself is a literal translation of the Arabic counterpart). Such Arab virtues as hospitality have always distinguished 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 was felt far beyond Sind and Multan. In the political field, the arrangements made by Muhammad b. Qasim with non-Muslim 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-worshippers (e.g. the Hindus). The fact that those provisions were not followed and the Hindus were treated as ”the People of the Book” must have been partly due to the circumstances that they had been given this status by Muhammad b. Qasim, and for centuries this liberal practice had been built up in Sind and Multan.
The intellectual and cultural contacts of the Abbasids the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent which gave to the world the socalled ”Arabic numerals,” chess, stories of Kalilah ^nd Dimnah, etc., were also facilitated by the Arab occupation of Sind. They came to end when the political hold of Baghdad over this territory slackened. After dealing with the rnost fruitful period of Indo-Arab intellectual collaboration, Sachau
Bk. I ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 22
says: ”Soon afterwards when Sind was no longer politically dependent upon Baghdad, all this intercourse ceased entirely. Arabic literature turned off into other channels. There is no more mention of the presence of Hindu scholars in Baghdad nor of the translations of Sanskrit. ”32
Arab Coastal Settlements. The Arab conquest was confined to the southern part of what is now Pakistan, but peaceful contacts between the Arabs and the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent were far more extensive. Arab sailors and traders plied their trade in the coastal area of the subcontinent, and soon after the rise of Islam we find colonies of Muslim Arabs at a number of major ports like Cambay, Chaul, Honawar, etc. Muslim had reached Ceylon even earlier, and the Arab invasion of Sind was a measure of reprisal for plunder and imprisonment of Muslim widows and orphans returning from Ceylon. Hajjaj, who organised the expedition to Sind, was also responsible, though indirectly, for the establishment of large colony of Muslim Arabs in the south. When he became the viceroy of Iraq, many members of Banu Hashim, of whom he was a sworn enemy, migrated from his jurisdiction, and sought refuge on the southern coast of the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent. They form the nucleus of the important Nawayat community which is found on the Konkan coast of Bombay and in Tinnevelly district of Madras.
Before the introduction of the steamship, the small seagoing boats had to keep close to the shore and small colonies of Arab sailors and traders were to be found at all important ports along the shores of the Indian Ocean and in the Bay of Bengal. Probably there was a substantial Arab colony at Chittagong in East Bengal as may be inferred from the existence of an unusually large number of Arabic words in the local dialect, the Arab influence on pronunciation and even the fact that more Bengali manuscripts written in Arabic script are found in areas around Chittagong than in any other part of Bengal. The earliest recorded reference to a visit of the Arabs to this region, according to Arakanese sources, relates to the
The Arabs and the Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent [ Ch. 1
reign of a local ruler who ascended the throne in A.D. 788, and describes the ship-wreck of several Arab boats near Ramu, situated in the Cox’s Bazar area, to the south of Chittagong, and the settlement of the survivors in the interior. Later, Muslim influence increased in Arakan and by the thirteenth century the coast from ”Assam to Malaya was dotted with the curious-looking mosques known as Budder makans”.33 This influence is held responsible for women living in greater seclusion in Arakan than in other parts of Burma.
The most important Arab coastal settlements were in Malabar34 where Muslims now form a substantial part of the population and where a local ruler adopted Islam in the early part of the ninth century. The Arab colonies did not disturb the general tenor of life in the Indian subcontinent, but they made the local inhabitants familiar with the new religion of the Arabs. Some scholars are of opinion that the powerful Hindu religious movement initiated in the ninth century by Shankracharya, who himself was born in Malabar, may have been facilitated by the religious ferment caused by the entry of Islam into that area.
Muslim colonies on the coast are also of interest 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 was a continuation of the traditional Indian relations with countries farther 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 largely owe their present religious and literary traditions to the influences emanating from Muslim colonies on the coastline of the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent. The emigrants who brought about this transformation in Sounteast Asia included Arab and Persian sailors and traders,
Bk. I ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan
but the role of the Muslims of the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent, particularly from Gujarat, Malabar, Coromandal and Bengal, was not less important.35
The full story of how Islam spread in Southeast Asia has not yet been fully pieced together, and links of the area with Muslim Bengal are only now being discovered. The latest study of the subject is Islam Comes to Malaysia, written by Professor S.Q. Fatimi and published by Malaysian Sociological Research Institute, Ltd. Singapore (1963). He has shown that, according to early accounts, Malikul-Salih, the first known Muslim ruler in the area (who died in 697/1297 or 707-1307), came from Bengal and was originally known as Merah Silan, and that in the early tenth/ sixteenth century Bengali Muslims were the most influential group in Pasai. ”In fact up to that time Bengalis appear to be the leading group among foreign merchants and colonisers in the whole of Malaysia.”36
Fatimi has summed up the entire position as under:
”It is evident from the story of Malik as-Salih, which we have attempted to piece together from fragments found hither and thither, that the privilege of being the pioneers in propagating Islam to the people of this part of the world is not the monopoly of any one Muslim community. Though the bulk of Muslim traders and Sufi preachers came from Bengal during the thirteenth and the three successive centuries, and most probably Merah Silan himself was a Thakur (according to the contemporary Chinese evidence) and ”of Bengali stock’ (according to Tome Pires), yet the names that the Sultan adopted for himself and his sons show strong Arab influence; Ibn Battuta found prominent Persian influence at the Court of his son, Malik az-Zahir; the school of law that prevailed at least subsequently in his own and the neighbouring Muslim States, shows the combined influence of southern coastal India and maritime Arabian cities; and finally the gravestones not his own, admittedly, but those which were subsequently brought from Cambay - have engraved on them the evidence of the Gujarati influence.”37
The Arabs and the Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent [ Ch. 1