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Tigers of Islam:Muhammad Bin Qasim - Part 1/2
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Muhammad bin Qasim Al-Thaqafi (Arabic: محمد بن قاسم) (c. 31 December 695--18 July 715) was an Umayyad general who, at the age of 17, began the conquest of the Sindh and Punjab regions along the Indus River (now a part of Pakistan) for the Umayyad Caliphate. He was born in the city of Taif (in modern day Saudi Arabia). Qasim's conquest of Sindh and Punjab laid the foundations of Islamic rule in the Indian subcontinent.
Ummayad interest in Sindh
According to Berzin, Umayyad interest in the region stemmed from their desire to control the trade route down the Indus River valley to the seaports of Sindh, an important link in the ancient Silk Road. They had earlier unsuccessfully sought to gain control of the route, via the Khyber Pass, from the Turki-Shahis of Gandhara.But by taking Sindh, Gandhara's southern neighbor, they were able to open a second front against Gandhara; a feat they had, on occasion, attempted before
According to Wink, Umayyad interest in the region was galvanized by the operation of the Mids and others. They had preyed upon Sassanid shipping in the past, from the mouth of the Tigris to the Sri Lankan coast, in their bawarij and now were able to prey on Arab shipping from their bases at Kutch, Debal and Kathiawar. At the time, Sindh was the wild frontier region of al-Hind, inhabited mostly by semi-nomadic tribes whose activities disturbed much of the Western Indian Ocean. Muslim sources insist that it was these persistent activities along increasingly important Indian trade routes by Debal pirates and others which forced the Arabs to subjugate the area, in order to control the seaports and maritime routes of which Sindh was the nucleus, as well as, the overland passage. During Hajjaj's governorship, the Mids of Debal in one of their raids had kidnapped Muslim women travelling from Sri Lanka to Arabia, thus providing a casus belli to the rising power of the Umayyad Caliphate that enabled them to gain a foothold in the Makran, Balochistan and Sindh regions.
Also cited as a reason for this campaign was the policy of providing refuge to Sassanids fleeing the Arab advance and to Arab rebels from the Umayyad consolidation of their rule
The campaign for the conquest of Sindh under Qasim was launched during the same period as the Umayyad conquest of Hispania and an offensive against the Kabul Shahan. It was a period of great expansion of the Umayyads under the governorship of Hajjaj, the first governor of both the Arabi and Ajami halves of the ex-Sassanid domains. Conflict was endemic among the frontier Muslims, with a considerable number seeking refuge with the king of Sindh.The period also experienced an intensification of the rivalry between Arab conquerors and the mawali; new non-Arab converts; who were usually allied with Hajjaj's political opponents and thus were frequently forced to participate in the Jihads on the frontier - such as Kabul, Sindh and Transoxania. Through conquest, the Umayyads intended to protect its maritime interest, while also cutting off refuge for fleeing rebel chieftains as well as Sindhi military support to the Sassanid rump state; akin to those received at several prior major battles during the their conquest of Persia - such as those at Salasal and Qādisiyyah and the finally at the Battle of Rasil. An actual push into the region had been out of favor as an Arab policy since the time of the Rashidun Caliph Umar bin Khattab, who upon receipt of reports of it being an inhostipable and poor land had stopped further expeditionary ventures into the region
Muhammad bin Qasim's expedition was actually the third attempt, the first having failed due to stiffer-than-expected opposition as well as heat, exhaustion.
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