It was 619 AD, when in the garden of Taif, the Prophet (sa), nursing his fresh wounds, prayed to his Lord. Nine years later, the entire Taif embraced Islam. And this is where our story begins.
Muhammad Ibn Qasim was seventeen, when he conquered Sindh. His sword struck the very heart of such false practices as idol worship, which prevailed in that era. He conquered not just a piece of land but an entire people living on the banks of the Indus River. It was his courage and persistent acts of goodness that caused his death – he was imprisoned, tortured and martyred.
He was born in Taif in 695 AD. Growing up in the care of his mother, he soon became a great asset to his uncle Muhammad Ibn Yusuf, the governor of Yemen. His judgement, potential and skills surpassed many experienced officers, thus, he was made the governor of Persia.
Interestingly, the Muslim rule he began was not for such worldly purposes as gaining land, power, or simply for satisfying the awe-inspiring leader inside him. He invaded Sindh for a truly humanitarian act.
In 712 AD, some Arab Muslim families were returning in a merchant ship to their homes to Iraq, including widows and orphans. The ship was intercepted at a Sindh port by some Hindu pirates, who looted the vessel and took the passengers as captives. These were men of Raja Dahir, the ruler of Sindh at the time. Qasim’s uncle wrote to Dahir, demanding the release of the prisoners and the due punishment of the pirates. As expected of a cruel ruler, Dahir refused point-blank. This prompted Muhammad Ibn Yusuf to dispatch his seventeen-year-old nephew to do what was required.
Qasim, of course, took the responsibility seriously. Displaying outstanding courage, he crushed Dahir’s troops. The people of Sindh rejoiced at Qasim’s entry. The cruel reign had ended, because Qasim was a promising ruler of commendable character, efficient administration, and a window into the Islamic system of law and justice, which was so fair and sufficient that it inspired the Hindus. He won both their lands and hearts.
There are two versions of his death. The first and most agreed upon account revisits his preparation for the attack on Rajasthan. Qasim’s father-in-law passed away, and the new governor took revenge against the family of the old governor. The new Khalifa Suleman called upon Qasim and made him captive. This imprisonment led Qasim to an early death. He was twenty, then.
Even his death could not diminish the magnitude of what he had done for the future generations. In 712 AD, conquering the area from its Hindu rulers, he extended Muslim rule to the Indus Valley. Just like Alexander the Great before him, he travelled endlessly and subdued the whole of what is now Pakistan – from Karachi to Kashmir within a matter of three years. He managed to do that with a small force of only around six thousand Syrian tribesmen. Allah (swt) was with him every step of the way.
Muhammad Ibn Qasim is a true inspiration for the leaders of all times. To this day, historians believe that had he lived longer, he would have brought the entire South Asian region into the folds of the Islamic empire.