Changing the World at Seventeen

Changing the world at 17

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.

Muhammad bin Qasim

Vol 3- Issue 4 Muhammad Bin QasimMuhammad bin Qasim was a Syrian Arab born in 695 AC. His father died, when he was young, leaving Qasim’s mother in charge of his education. The Umayyad Governor Al-Hajjaj Bin Yusuf, a close relative of Qasim, was instrumental in teaching Qasim about warfare and governing.

In 712 AC, at the age of seventeen, he was sent by Hajjaj Bin Yusuf on the orders of Caliph Al-Walid to lead an army towards India, into a powerful state known today as the Sind and Punjab areas of Pakistan. Raja Dahir, the ruler of this state, was very arrogant and unjust. He had given shelter to a number of rebels against Islam and the Caliph. His army looted Muslim traders and took into custody their children and women. In the past, the Umayyad Caliph in Damascus had sent two expeditions to rid the people of this tyrant. But both times the expeditions had failed, and Raja Dahir’s atrocities continued to increase.

Muhammad Bin Qasim’s army of six thousand men was small, whereas the opposing army consisted of more than a hundred thousand men fully equipped with war elephants and an array of excellent archers. Raja Dahir’s usual tactics were to shut himself inside the invincible walls of Daybul, the capital city, and let the enemy exhaust itself and retreat, once all its arms and ammunitions were depleted.

Muhammad Bin Qasim and his army fought hard against all odds and within a short time managed to win eleven battles. They had two unique weapons of that time – a huge catapult and a fire ball. The former rained stones, while the latter fired on the enemy. The Muslim victory at Daybul is ascribed to the giant catapult named Uroos. A stone hurled by Uroos brought down the flag flying atop the biggest temple in the city. The besieged considered this to be a bad omen, came out into the open, and were captured by Qasim’s army.

After capturing Daybul, Muhammad Bin Qasim marched on and conquered numerous parts of the sub-continent, hence purging it of many Hindu tyrants and oppressors. He then proved his administrative skills by being a wise and just ruler for that state for almost two years. He was admired by both Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

After the death of Caliph Al-Walid, Muhammad Bin Qasim was called back by the new Caliph to Baghdad. The new Caliph was a cruel man, who became known for his harsh treatment of many famous Muslim generals and honorable persons, on the basis of personal enmity. He falsely accused Muhammad Bin Qasim of treason and put him in jail, where he was severely tortured, until he passed away at the age of twenty.

The success of the Muslim army was due to Muhammad Bin Qasim’s superior military leadership. The foundation of an Islamic State in the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent was laid by this youngest conqueror in the world. His death was a great loss for all Muslims. He was greatly respected for his courage, determination, war tactics, and discipline. He was equally successful both in active warfare and in the times of peace.

Till today, Muhammad Bin Qasim is remembered and praised for the military exploits against the most formidable forces of the sub-continent. His victories form the golden chapters of the warfare history.