THE ARAB CONQUEST
The establishment of Arab rule in Sind in 712 A.D. was preceded by a number of efforts to penetrate India. The first military expedition was sent to Tahan near Bombay in 637. More were sent in the coming years against Broach and Debal. The view that the Arbas indeed were not interested in territorial acquisition till the ruler of Sind in 700 A.D. provoked them, is not accepted by the book 'A Comprehensive History of India'. This book relies on the authority of baladhuri, who is regarded as the most reliable authority on the subject. Accroding to the book, the Arabs made systematic inroads on the three kingdoms of Kabul, Zabul and Sind. Very often the first two were united in resisting the aggression of the Arabs. Baladhuri says that after 650 A.D. the Arabs entered India. One more expedition was sent by the Caliphate of Ali to conquer Kabul but was frusterated. Another attempt was made in 698 A.D., which was still less successful. The weakness of the Arabs was undoubtedly due to internal troubles and weakness of the Caliphate during the last days of Umayyids, but after the establishment of powerful Abbasid Caliphate the earlier designs were repeated. Kabul was conqured but again escaped from the control of the Caliphate. Zebul was conquered only in 870 A.D.
Although both Kabul and Zabul succumbed to Islam the heroic resistance they offered checked the spread of Islam into the Subcontinent. Fe countries in the world, that too small principalities like these, have defied the arms of Islam so bravely and for so long 2000 years.
Good number of details are found regarding the history of Sind in the 7th Century A.D. in Chachnama, a Persian translation of an old Arabicc history of the conquest of Sind by the Arabs. An expedition of the Arabs was sent against Debal some time before 643 A.D. Baladhuri speaks of Muslim victory but Chachnama says that the Muslims were defeated. The conquest of Sind was abandoned for some time. When then new Calipha Uthman attempted to conquer, he too left it after a setback. During the daysof Caliphate of Ali, a well-equipped Muslim Army came along the land route, According to Baladhuri, the Muslims were put to rout. After this, a series of expeditions were sent to conquer an outpost of Sind, which all ended in failure.
The Arabs resumed their aggression against Sind only after 705 A.D. An Arab ship fell in thehands of pirates near Debal. A Muslim governor deamanded their release and also the arrest of the pirates. It appears, Dehar refused to oblige. As a matter of fact, the governor for Iraq was appointed for both the areas of Hindi and Sind. For long time the Arabs chafed at their failure to conquer Sind. Thus, the governor Hajja merely seized the plicy as a pretext to defeat and conquer Sind.
After making elaborate preparation, Mohammad-Bin-Kasim, the son-in-law of Hajjaj, was sent with a well equipped army. He advanced to Makran and laid siege to Debal in 711 A.D. The capital was captured then, Muhammad advanced along the Indus to conquer the whole area. It appears that very often trachery led to the Arab conquest of Sind Muhammad advanced against Multan and succeeded in capturing it. According to Chachanam, Muhammad himself advanced to the frontier of Kashmir.
The triumph and career of Muhammad wa suddenly cut short by political changes at home. Since the new Caliph was the sworn enemy of Hajjaj. Muhammad was taken prisoner, insulted and tortured to death.
This development made Jaisimha, the son of Daher, to re-occupy Bahmansbad. The Caliph sent an army to subdue the rebels. They even parleyed with Jaisimha. Junaid, the Governor of Sind, defeated Jaisimha and took him prionser. Thus ended the dynasty of Daher and the independence of Sind.
The comperatively easy conquest of Muhammad, son of Kasim, should not make us forget the long resistance offered by Sind to the Arabs.
Later, Junaid sent several expeditions to the interior of India. They were signally defeated by the Pratihara kng Nagabhatta - I Pulakesin, the Chalukya chief of Gujarata, and probably also by Yasovarman. These defeats forced the Arabs to confine themselves to Sind. The Arabs lost control of Sind during the last years of Umayyids. The Abbasid Caliphs once again started to re-establish their power in Sind. A claim was made. The Arabs once again conquered Multan and Kashmir bu the evidence shows that Lalitadiya thrice defeated the Arabs. It was some time between 800 and 830 A.D. that the Arabs fully re-conquered the lost areas. It was during this period that the Arabs forces probably advanced as far as Chittor but the resistance offered by Indian kings probably forced them to retreat.
After the collapse fo the Abbasid power, Sind became virually independent and was divided into two independent states. Niehter of them could become powerful.
It is no longer believed that the Arab conqeust of Sind was a mere episode in the history of India. What this event reveals is the Sea change that cave over Hindu Civilisation by 1000 A.D. A few Muslim traders earlier settled in the Malabar region. But the might of Islam was experienced in Sind. This challenge was met by rulers of the day. It is now well-known that the political ambitions of the successors of Muhammad-bin-Kasim were chaeckmated by Lalitaditya, Bhoja and a few other rulers. This particular resistance bears testimony to the political consciousness of the day. It is this consciousness that was totally absent in India when Mahumud of Ghazni raided the country and soon he was followed by Ghori who succeeded in establishing Islamic rule in India. It is surprising to note that when the Sahiyas checkmated the Arab penetration in the north-west and rulers within India contained the penetration of Arabs in Sind, no concerted efforts were made by Indian rulers after 1000 A.D. to defeat the invaders except for the first battle of Tarain to some extent. Instead, we hear that Hinduism retreated into its own shell, a fact sharply revealed by the observations of Alberuni.
Apart from this significance, the Arab rule in Sind led to interaction between two cultures. It is held by some historians that Sind was the birt-place of later-day Sufism which in turn occasioned the emergence of the famous bhakti cult in the middle ages.
Apart from this consequence, the Arab conquest of sind also led to the transmission of Indian culture-Panchtantra and scientific lore of ancient India like the digital system and knowledge of medicine. It is to ba kept in mind that after the collapse of the Roman empire intellectuals began to gather in Baghbad, meaning city of god in Sanskrit. The intellectual speculations that the city facilitated by the interaction of Greek and Roman heritage with that of the Indian lay at the base of the Renaissance movement in Europe in the 16th century. "We know definitely from Masudind Ibn Hauqal that Arab settlers lived side by side with their Hindu fellow-citizens for many years on terms of amity and peace, and Amir Khusrav mentions that the Arab astronomer Abu Mashar come to Benaras and studied astronomy there for ten years.
Finally, the significance of the Arab conquest of Sind lies in the tolerance that was shown to Hinduism by Islam. Although jaziya was collected, the Arab governors chose to leave Hindu religious practices untouched. What India witnessed after the invasion of Mahmud of Ghazni was not Islamic influence as pioneered by the Arabs but central-Asian culture of the Turkish, nomade who carried the banner of Islam. In other words, what the history of Arabs in Sind conveys is the fact that persecution of other religious was not the avowed doctrine of Islam.