MUHAMMAD BIN QASIM [695-715]
A Noble Son of Islam
MUHAMMAD BIN QASIM is undoubtedly one of the noblest sons of Islam. The most remarkable thing about him is that he combines the innocence of youth with the highest level of achievement. He was hardly seventeen when he led an army into Sind and conquered the whole of Sind and gave it a just and good government. These great achievements were attained in a strange, far off land, with the help of a few thousand countrymen. History has very few examples to put beside this one.
Muhammad bin Qasim strongly felt for the downtrodden masses who were suffering in the hands of rulers and gave them the basic human rights. All citizens were given equal rights. The Arab rule brought a new hope and new horizons for the down-trodden. The blessings of Arab rule were meant for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The Hindus were amazed at the treatment they received. Their temples remained intact, and the government even repaired temples. Three per cent of the income from land revenue was set aside for the upkeep of the temples. The priests continued to enjoy the rights they had enjoyed before.
Most of the government posts were filled by the Sindhis. Those who accepted Islam had to pay the poor-rate (Zakat). The non-Muslims had to pay the Jizya. This was a very light tax as compared with the poor rate. The rich Hindus had to pay fifteen rupees per year, middle-class Hindus paid seven rupees per year and the poorer Hindus had to pay only four rupees a year. Zakat or poor-rate was much more than this. Muslim citizens had not only to pay the poor rate; they could also be called for military duty. On the other hand, the Jizya freed the non-Muslims from military duty.
By his kind and just rule, Muhammad bin Qasim won the hearts of the Hindus. They loved and respected him even more than the Muslims did. In fact, they came to look upon him as a god.
The cool courage, with which the young hero met his unjust fate, is beyond praise. He understood the temper of his age, and without a word of bitterness, passed through the hardest of ordeals to which a man can be subjected.
Conquest of Multan
After occupying Aror, Muhammad marched toward Multan in the west Punjab which was ruled by a cousin of Dahar. Muhammad sent him a message saying, "We have taken the whole of Sind. If you, too, give in, you will receive the best of treatment. But if you choose to fight, you and your people will suffer."
To this the ruler of Multan replied, "I am strong enough to defend my city. I will never give in without a fight."
The Multan army marched some distance from the city to check the Arab advance but the Arabs squarely defeated them.
The siege of Multan went on for several weeks. But its soldiers showed no signs of weakness. On the other hand, provisions and supplies of the Arabs were rapidly running out. This set them thinking hard for a way to cut short the siege. Just then a man deserted from the city and came to the Muslim camp. He was brought before Muhammad bin Qasim. "I will tell you," he said, "how you can bring the people of Multan to their knees. They get all their water supply from yonder canal, which flows from underground into the city. Cut off the water supply and Multan will cry for mercy.
The plan was immediately tried and soon Multan was in Arab hands.
ALL was ready for a march into the heart of Hindustan when the news of Hajjaj's death reached Sind. The news made Muhammad very, very sad. Hajjaj was his uncle and father-in-law. Hajjaj had been paying personal attention to every small detail of the campaign. He had been sending men and supplies to far off Sind, whenever need arose. This source of guidance and help now lay dried up.
Hajjaj was one of the most trusted and the ablest officers of the Caliph. Walid thought that the success in Sind was solely due to Hajjaj. Now that Hajjaj was no more, the Caliph though it wise to call a halt in Sind.
In the year 715 Walid died. He was succeeded by his younger brother, Suleman. The new Caliph was deadly against the men who were close to Walid. Walid and Suleman were real brothers. Their father, Abdul Malik, had said in his will that Walid should be Caliph after him and Suleman should succeed Walid. On becoming Caliph, Walid tried to set aside the father's will. He wanted his own son, rather than his brother, to succeed him. Hajjaj was Walid's right-hand man. He encouraged the Caliph in this plan. However, the plan fell through because of Hajjaj's sudden death.
Suleman's action did much harm to the cause of Islam. He began undoing much of what Walid had done. Under Walid, the Muslim Empire had expanded rapidly both in the east and the west under Hajjaj, Muhammad bin Qasim and Musa bin Nusair, Tariq bin Ziyad. Under Suleman, the expansion suddenly stopped. The new Caliph dismissed the able generals who had made these conquests. The only fault of these heroes of Islam was that they had been appointed by Walid.
Muhammad bin Qasim's Dismissal
SULEMAN dismissed the brave young Conqueror of Sind and sent a new governor in his place. The new Caliph ordered that Muhammad bin Qasim be put in chains and sent as a prisoner to Iraq. When these orders reached Muhammad, he was all-powerful in Sind. He was loved by the army and the people alike. It was easy for him to disobey the Caliph. He could throw off the nominal yoke of Suleman and become an independent ruler. The people of Sind almost worshipped him. He could live here as a free citizen and no one could lay hands on him.
It was open to Muhammad bin Qasim to do any of these things. But he was a true son of Islam. The words of the Holy Quran, "Obey Allah and the Apostle and those from among you, who have been raised to authority," rang in his ears. He could not disobey the command of Allah. Silently but boldly, he carried out the Caliph's orders. He thereby set a lofty example of a keen sense of duty to Alalh and to his country.
As soon as Muhammad bin Qasim reached Iraq. Salih, the Viceroy of the eastern provinces shut him up in the prison at Wasit. To be related to the late Hajjaj was the worst crime in the eyes of the men then in power. But even at this dark moment, the young hero was not sorry for himself. He was only sorry for his people. All he said was "Alas I have been lost to my people. It is a pity they have lost a young man who was of service to them in battles."
A little later he said, "Today I am in chains, but I don't feel sad. I am the one who defeated great warriors and put to the sword many a brave young man.'
The gallant young Conqueror of Sind never came out of prison. It is not known how he met his end, but he was certainly tortured to death. Thus ended a career so full of promise and so devoted to the highest of ideals.
At the time of death Muhammad was in his early twenties. His sun set long before it was even midday. History will never forgive the men who committed this act of barbarity.
The young conquerer left Sind after a few years stay. However, his good name lived on. Today, after more than 1200 years, not only the Pakistanis but Muslims all over the world feel proud of him. It was he who first brought the light of Islam to India. Thus, in a stricter sense, it is he who was the first founder of Pakistan.
Allah's peace and blessings be on this gallant, young Conqueror of Sind who so selflessly worked for the greater glory of Allah!
Source: Leicester Muslims
Further reading: Muhammad Bin Qasim by Fazl Ahmad