The land of Sind has a hoary past with some of the most striking episodes in history having occurred in its bosom. It has given a slightly different variation of its name to our neighbouring country and to the religious majority of its inhabitants. Both the words India and Hindu are derived from Sindhu, which, in Persian became Hind and Hindu (the letter H substituted for S) and in Greek and Roman, Ind (the letter S of Sind having being dropped). The meaning of the word Sindhu is water, referring to the great river. There is an old belief among Muslims that four rivers had sprung from Heaven: Neel (Nile), Furat (Euphrates), Jehoon (Juxartes) and Sehoon (Sind).
The Aryans called the whole of Pakistan, Kashmir and East Afghanistan as Sapta Sindhu — the land of seven rivers. In Rigveda it is referred to as Sapta Sindhva, while India is named Bharat Varsa (the land of the sons of Bharat, a legendary Emperor).1 Thus, even for the Aryans there were two countries in this sub-continent: Sapta Sindhva and Bharat Varsa. The Assyrians in the 7th century B.C. knew the north-western part of the sub-continent as Sinda. However, when India began to be called Hind by Persians and Arabs, and Ind by Greeks and Romans, the local people continued to call their land, Sind. This distinction continued for centuries. Arab geographers, historians and travellers also called the entire area from the Arabian Sea to the range of Kashmir mountains Sind.3 As such, there were always two countries in the sub-continent — Sind and Hind. The present Pakistan (including Kashmir and a major portion of Afghanistan) constituting one country, and India, another.
As regards the composition of the population of Sind Province (before Partition) the two main stocks that inhabit Sind are related to, and common, one with the Punjab and another with Baluchistan. The majority stock is that of Rajputs and Jats who are the descendants of Sakas, Kushans and Huns who also constitute the majority of the population the Punjab. During Kalhora rule a number of Jat tribes such as the Sials, Joyas and Khawars came from the Punjab and settled in Sind. They are called Sirai i.e., men from the north and speak Siraiki language.
Two main Rajput tribes of Sind are: the Samma, a branch of the Yadav Rajputs who inhabit the eastern and lower Sind and Bahawalpur; and the Sumra who, according to the 1907 edition of the Gazetteer are a branch of the Parwar Rajputs. Among others are the Bhuttos, Bhattis, Lakha, Sahetas, Lohanas, Mohano, Dahars, Indhar, Chachar, Dhareja, Rathors, Dakhan, Langah etc.4 The Mohano tribe is spread over Makran, Sind and southern Punjab. They are also identified with the ‘Mallah’ of the Punjab and both have in common a sub-section called Manjari. All these, old Sindhi tribes are known under the common nomenclature of Sammat.
The smaller stock is that of Baluchi tribes setlled in various parts of Sind mostly during the last five hundred years or so Since they were martial people and ruled over Sind for some time before the arrival of the British, they acquired vast lands in the province with the result that a large number of present-day Sindhi landlords are of Baluch origin. According to the 1941 census, which was the last one held before Partition Baluchis formed 23% of the total Muslim population of Sind. Among the Baluchi tribes inhabiting Sind are the Rind, Dombki, Jakhrani, Leghari, Lashari, Chandio, Karmati, Korai, Jatoi, Burdi, Khosa, Jamali, Umrani, Bugti, Marri, Mazari, Talpur, Brohi, Nizamani, Buledhi, Karrani, Bozdar, Nukharni, Magsi etc. These tribes are spread over Baluchistan, Sind and the south-western districts of the Punjab.
Yet a third stock of Sindhi population comprises of the descendants of Muslim conquerors, administrators and missionaries who were mostly Arabs, Persians, Turks or Mughals. They are a small minority settled in cities and towns but so deeply absorbed and blended with the other components of the population that all the three together have evolved a distinct language and culture. Of this third element Arabs have contributed most to the development of Sindhi language and literature and to the advancement of its intellectual and cultural activities.
Since the early history of Sind is intimately related to the history of the Punjab and other provinces of Pakistan it need not be dealt with at length. Only a brief account shall be attempted here, without mentioning the Indus Valley civilization which will be discussed some other time.
Dawn of history reveals an Aryan dynasty in power in Sind. In the Mahabharata (12th or 13th century B.C.) Jayadrath, King of Sind appears as a partisan of Panduas against their cousins Kauruas. Next historical mention of Sind is found about 575 B.C. during the time of Achaemenian dynasty. The Iranian General, Skylax, explored Indus in a flotilla equipped near Peshawar, conquered the Indus Valley and annexed it to the Empire of Darius the Great. The conquered province of the Punjab and Sind was considered the richest and the most populous satrapy of the Empire and was required to pay the enormous tribute of fully a million sterling. Next historical record is that of Alexander’s invasion in 326 B.C. A tribe called Mausikanos whose capital is usually identified with Alor (Rohri) is said to have submitted. According to Greek historians the territories of this chief were the most flourishing of all that the Greeks had seen. A few centuries later Roman historians have mentioned Sind as a rich country. Patala in lower Sind was known to them as an emporium of trade.
Alexandrian period was followed by that of the Mauryas (3rd century BC) whose fall brought in Graeco-Bactrians (2nd century B.C.). They ruled over the whole of Pakistan with their capital at Taxila. Their coins are still found in the old towns of Sind. The Graeco-Bactrian period was followed by that of the Scythian (Saka) invasion in the first century BC. “They settled here in such large numbers that Sind became known as Indo-Scythia and to this day a large proportion of the population is certainly Scythian.”5 Two Scythian tribes, the Jats and Meds, are mentioned as having invaded the Punjab and Sind. Some of the present day Mohanas of Sind and Baluchistan call themselves Med. “In 60 AD Sind was occupied by Scythians, ruled perhaps from far away Taxila.”6
The first century A.D. witnessed the arrival of the Kushans who, along with the Scythians (Sakas) and later Parthians, ruled over Afghanistan and Pakistan for about four centuries from Peshawar. The next great holocaust occurred in the 5th century A.D. with the Hun invasion which surpassed all previous records in its intensity and vastness. Their invasion ushered in the Rajput era which lasted till the 7th century A.D. in Sind (80 years before the arrival of Mohd. Bin Qasim); till the end of 10th century AD in the Punjab and NWFP (upto the arrival of Mahmud Ghaznavi) and till the end of 12th century in northern India when Mohammad Ghori defeated Prithviraj in 1192 A.D.
Before lmaduddin Mohammad Bin Qasim’s arrival here, Rajputs were the ruling race in Sind and in the rest of northern India. The last Rajput ruler of Sind was Raja Sahasi II whose dominions extended up to Kashmir. He was a contemporary of Prophet Mohammad and professed Buddhism as did his father Siharus. The rule of Raja Sahasi II ended in 632 A.D. the year Prophet Mohammad died. He was succeeded by his Brahmin chamberlain, Chach, who had become a favourite of Sahasi’s wife. Chach ruled over Sind for about 68 years from 632-700 A.D. His son Dahir was the ruler when Mohammad Bin Qasim arrived here in 711 A.D.
The line of rulership before Islam runs thus: Siharus, Sahasi II, Chach, Dahir. The first two were Buddhist Rajputs and the last two Hindu Brahmins. The new Brahmin rulers were extremely hostile towards the Buddhists who were in substantial numbers in Sind at that time and they had ruthlessly suppressed the Jats and Meds who formed the bulk of the peasantry. Humiliating conditions were imposed on the Jats depriving them of many civil rights. “When Chach, the Brahmim chamberlain who usurped the throne of Rajput King Sahasi II went to Brahmanabad, he enjoined upon the Jats and Lohanas not to carry swords, avoid velvet or silken cloth, ride horses without saddles and walk about bare-headed and bare-footed.”7 It was because of this background that Mohammad Bin Qasim received cooperation from the Buddhists as well as the Jats and Meds during his campaign in Sind. Among others who did not oppose Mohammad Bin Qasim’s advance and made peace with him was the Bhutto tribe.8 In fact he was hailed as deliverer by several sections of local population. The humble position of the Buddhists in Sind seeking support from outside can be read in the Chach Nama.
“Mohammad Bin Qasim’s work was facilitated by the treachery of certain Buddhist priests and renegade chiefs who deserted their sovereign and joined the invader. With the assistance of some of these traitors, Mohammad crossed the vast sheet of water separating his army from that of Dahir and gave battle to the ruler near Raor (712 A.D.). Dahir was defeated and killed.”9
THE JATS OF SIND
Before commencing a review of the Muslim period of Sind’s history, we shall speak briefly of the Jats of Sind (Pakistan) who were known all over Iran and the Middle East for their sturdy constitution and industrious nature. They have a colourful history and an adventurous past.
The author of Mujmaul Tawarikh has quoted an extinct Sanskrit work according to which the original inhabitants of Sind were Jats and Meds. Early Arab writers on Sind also say that Jats and Meds were important tribes in their time. Ibn Khurdabah mentions ‘zutts’ as guarding the route between Kirman and Mansura while Ibn Haukal writes: “Between Mansura and Makran the waters from the Mehran form lakes and the inhabitants of the country are the south Asian races called Zutt. The Chinese traveller Yuan Chwang who visited this region in the 7th century A.D. also mentioned Jats.
“The Jats claim to be included in the 36 royal Rajput tribes. Some of them state that their forefathers came from Ghazni. But it is generally accepted that they are the descendants of the ancient Getae, or Jeutchi, from Scythia. Some authorities consider that they entered the sub-continent some time in 1500 BC and are the same as the Jattikas mentioned in the Mahabharata, and also identical with the Jatti of Pliny and Ptolemy. Their original home was on the Oxus.”10 According to the Encyclopaedia of Islam, the Jats of the lower Indus comprise both Jats and Rajputs, and the same rule applies to Las-Bela where descendants of former ruling races like the Sumra and the Samma of Sind and the Langah of Multan are found. At the time of the first appearance of the Arabs they found the whole of Makran in possession of Jats (Zutts).
According to a ‘Hadis’, Hazrat Abdulla Bin Masood, a companion Prophet saw some strangers with the Prophet and said that their features and physique were like those of Jats.11 This means that Jats we in Arabia even during the Prophet’s time. Hazrat Imam Bukhari (d. 875 A.D. – 256 A.H.) writing about the period of the Companions in his book “Al adab al Mufarrad” has stated that once when Hazrat Aisha (Prophet’s wife) fell ill, her nephews brought a Jat doctor for her treatment. We hear of them next when the Arab armies clashed with the Persian forces which comprised of Jat soldiers as well. The Persian Command Hurmuz used Jat soldiers against Khalid Bin Walid in the battle of ’salasal’ of 634 A.D. (12 hijri). This vvas the first time that Jats were captured by the Arabs. They put forward certain conditions for joining the Arab armies which were accepted, and on embracing Islam they were associated with different Arab tribes.12 This event proves that the first group of Pakistanis to accept Islam were Jats who did it as early as 12 hijri (634 A.D.) in the time of Hazrat Omar.
The Persian King Yazdjard had also sought the help of the Sind ruler who sent Jat soldiers and elephants which were used against the Arabs in the battle of Qadisia.
According to Tibri, Hazrat Ali had employed Jats to guard Basra treasury during the battle of Jamal. “Jats were the guards of the Baitul Maal at al-Basra during the time of Hazrat Osman and Hazrat Ali.”13 Amir Muawiya had settled them on the Syrian border to fight against the Romans. It is said that 4,000 Jats of Sind joined Mohammad Bin Qasim’s army and fought against Raja Dahir. Sindhi Jats henceforth began to be regularly recruited in the Muslim armies.
“Some of the Zutt deserters from the Persian army were transplanted in 670 A.D. by Caliph Muawiya from Basrah to Antioch. When the Arabs conquered Sind, another batch of Zutts whom the conquerors had uprooted from their native pastures seem to have been sent to Syria by Hajjaj (691-713 A.D.) and eventually sent on by the Caliph Walid 1(707-15 AD) to join the previous batch of Zutt deportees at Antioch whence some, again, were sent on by the Caliph Yazid II (720-24 A.D.) to Massisah in Cicilia…. But the bulk of Hajjaj’s deportees from Sind seem to have been settled in Iraq. In the reign of Abbasid Caliph Mansur (813-33 A.D.) they broke into a rebellion which it took him and his successor Mutasim 833-42 AD), the best part of 20 years to quell….. Whether there had or had not been a voluntary immigration as well as a compulsory deportation of Zutt to Iraq from Sind, we may take it that in the course of the first two centuries of Arab rule, manpower from western subcontinent (i.e., Pakistan) had it in one way or another been pouring into a south-western Asia that, on the eve of the Arab conquest, had been depopulated by the two last and most devastating of the Romano-Persian wars.”14
This statement of Tonybee is revealing in that it shows the close relations Pakistan had with the Middle East. Sindhis began to settle in areas as far away as Iraq and Syria which were depopulated by wars between the Persians and the Romans.
The origin of European gypsies is also traced to Sindhi Jats. Harun-ur-Rashid had recruited Jats to reinforce Cilician fortress. When the Romans descended on Ayn Zarbah in 855 A.D. they carried off into East Roman territory the Jats together with their women, children and buffaloes. This detachment of the Jats was the advance guard of the gypsies of Europe.15 They continued to pour into Europe in small batches at various stages subsequently.
THE ARAB PERIOD
Turning to the history of Sind, it may be divided into seven periods: (1) Pre-Muslim; (2) Arab Rule; (3) Middle Ages from Mahmud Ghaznavi to the establishment of Mughal Rule; (4) Mughal Period; (5) Kalhora period; (6) The Talpur Period; and (7) The British Period. We shall deal with briefly discussing only certain salient features of each period.
We have already spoken of the Indus Valley Civilization and the pre-historic period in an earlier chapter. Between the fall of the Mauryan Empire and the arrival of the Arabs i.e., roughly 200 B.C. to 700 A.D., a span of 900 years, Sind and other parts of Pakistan experienced wave after wave of hordes from Central Asia settling down in these regions. The Bactrians, Sakas, Kushans, the Pahlavas and the Huns etc., came, conquered and settled here. From these stocks, mingled with indigenous blood, ultimately emerged the new Kshatrya ruling class of Hindus later called Rajputs and the peasant class of Jats and Gujjars. 16 The most outstanding aspect of this pre-Muslim period is that Sind was intimately connected with the rest of Pakistan and not with India. It had either independent kingdoms or kingdoms in common with Pakistan.
Several reasons are ascribed to the Arab desire to conquer Makran 17 and Sind. Firstly, Sindhi Rajas had helped the Persians in their wars against the Arabs. Sindhi forces participated in the battles of Nehawand, ‘Salasal’, Qadisia and Makran and fought against the Arabs. Secondly, when after the conquest of Persia by the Arabs some of their rebel chiefs began to seek refuge in Sind, its Raja refused to surrender them to the Caliphs inspite of repeated requests. Thirdly, since Arab traders were being constantly harassed by pirates from the Makran and Sind coasts, a foot-hold in these areas considered necessary to safeguard Arab maritime interests.
The first naval expedition undertaken by the Arabs in this ocean was during Hazrat Omar’s caliphate in 636 A.D. – 15 A.H. under the command of Osman bin Abi’Aas, the Governor of Bahrain and Oman. He attacked Thana, a port near modern Bombay. A little later he sent another naval expedition to Debal in Sind under the command of his brother Mughira. Raja Chach was the ruler of Sind at that time and his kingdom was well defended. Mughira was defeated by the Raja’s forces and killed in action.
During Hazrat Omar’s caliphate the Governor of Iraq also sent an expedition by land to Makran under the command of Rabi Bin Ziad Haris. Though Makran was conquered but the victory was short-lived, as the locals recaptured the country. Makran was, however, permanently conquered during the last days of Hazrat Omar’s caliphate in 642 AD – 43 AH. under the command of Hakam Taglabi. Hazrat Osman, the third Caliph had sent Hakim bin Jabala to Sind in 650 A.D. to collect information. Before him Sahar-al-Abdi had visited Sind for the same purpose in 643 A.D. during Hazrat Omar’s last days.18 The next Arab general to enter Pakistan by land was Muhlib bin Sufra who came through the Khyber Pass in 665 A.D. -65 A.H.
The real story, however, begins with Hajjaj Bin Yusuf who was Governor of Iraq. The story of Arab merchants returning from Ceylon to Basra having been looted by Sindhi pirates is well-known. It is related that some of the women who were being carried away by the pirates implored Hajjaj to rescue them.
Hajjaj took serious notice of the incident and wrote to Dahir, the ruler of Sind, for the release of captives as well as the goods which were being sent to the caliphate as presents by the ruler of Ceylon. Not receiving a favourable reply, Hajjaj, with the permission of Caliph Walid, sent a force to Debal under the command of Abdulla bin Nabhan. This force was annihilated by Dahir’s army and its commander killed in battle. (According to Dr. Daud Pota the tomb of Abdullah Shah at Clifton in Karachi is of this General, Abdulla bin Nabhan).l9 Again, Hajjaj sent a bigger expedition to Debal, to oppose which Dahir sent his son Jaisia with a fairly large contingent. For the second time Arabs were defeated and their commander Badil bin Tuhfa killed in action at Debal. (According to the British historian Eliot, Karachi and the island of Manora constituted the city of Debal).
Hajjaj was infuriated and perturbed at the developments. Having realised that the ruler of Sind was a powerful monarch, he started making large-scale preparations and took personal interest in the matter
since the issue had now become one of prestige. The selection of a commander for this expeditionary force had also to be made with due care keeping in view all the aspects of the problem. Hajjaj’s choice fell on the young 20 year old (according to some 17) Mohammad Bin Qasim. The army and its Commander were given rigorous training for over one year in the desert of southern Iran which had similar climatic conditions to those of Sind. Through intelligence reports, all the strong and weak points of the enemy and details of their weapons and defences were collected, studied, and the Arab army equipped accordingly. Hajjaj bin Yusuf went through through the minutest details and after thorough study of the maps of Sind, guided Mohammad Bin Qasim on the strategy to be followed. Not content with this, Hajjaj made arrangements to convey his messages and orders to Mohammad Bin Qasim from Basra to any point in Sind within a week. Orders were that Mohammad Bin Qasim should not attack any city or fort or engage his forces in any large-scale battle with the enemy without getting orders from Basra. Even instructions concerning the day and time of attack and weapons to be used in a particular place or battle were sent by Hajjaj.
This time Arab armies triumphed and the triumph proved permanent. I shall not go into details which are available in all histories and mention only a few points which have not been high-lighted.
MOHAMMAD BIN QASIM’S RULE
As mentioned elsewhere, Sind had a large Buddhist population at this time but the ruler, Dahir, was a Brahmin. It is said that the Buddhists been receiving constant information from their co-religionists in Afghanistan and Turkistan about the extremely liberal treatment meted out to them by the Arab conquerors of those regions. In view of these reports, the Buddhist population of Sind decided to extend full cooperation to Mohammad Bin Qasim and even acclaimed him as liberator from Brahmin tyranny. Several principalities in Sind were ruled by Buddhist Rajas. The Buddhist ruler of Nerun (Hyderabad) had secret correspondence with Mohammad Bin Qasim. Similarly, Bajhra and Kaka Kolak, Buddhist Rajas of Sewastan, allied themselves with Mohammad Bin Qasim.20 On similar grounds, Jats also joined the Arabs against Dahir.
Secondly, it is generally believed that Mohammad Bin Qasim conquered areas only up to Multan. No, he conquered almost the entire Pakistan which then formed part of the Kingdom of Sind. According to Chach Nama, after conquering Aror (near Rohri), Mohammad Bin Qasim advanced towards Bhatia, an old fort on Beas which was under the command of Chach’s nephew. After conquering Bhatia the Arabs laid siege to Iskandla on river Ravi and took it. Chach Nama further states that Mohammad Bin Qasim proceeded to the boundary of Kashmir called Panj Mahiyat, at the upper course of Jhelum just after it debouches into the plains.21 “With a force of 6,000 Mohainmad Bin Qasim, a youth of 20, conquered and reorganised the whole of the country from the mouth of Indus to the borders of Kashmir, a distance of 800 miles in three years 712-15 A.D.22
“Waihind (neat Attock) which was one of the oldest cities of the sub-continent was included in the kingdom of Sind.”23 “Mohammad Bin Qasim made Multan the base for further inroads and garrisoned Brahmanpur, on the Jhelum, the modern Shorkot, Ajtabad and Karor; and afterwards with 50,000 men marched via Dipalpur to the foot of the Himalayas near Jelhum.”24
It is recognised by all historians that Mohammad Bin Qasim’s rule was most liberal and his treatment of non-Muslims extremely just and fair. He not only appointed Hindus to senior administrative posts but left small Hindu principalities undisturbed. Brahmins had become so loyal to him that they used to go from village to village and urge people to support the Arab regime. When Mohammad Bin Qasim was recalled from Sind by the Caliph in very unhappy circumstances, the Hindus and Buddhist of Sind wept over his departure; and when he died they erected a statue in his memory and worshipped it for a long time. Mohammad Bin Qasim’s two sons had a distinguished career. Arnroo became Governor of Sind and Qasim was Governor of Basra for fifteen years.25
But the early Arab period is not one of peace and tranquility. With the recall of Mohammad Bin Qasim the province returned to chaos and confusion. After a few years of anarchy governor Junaid restored normalcy. A short while later, due to bad administration, chaos prevailed again. Conditions were so critical that the next governor, Hakam bin Awanah established a new city called ‘Mahfooza’ (place of safety) in 732 A.D. – 113 A.H. where all the Muslims collected for safety. Later on, after restoring order and reorganising most of the Province, Hakam’s general Amroo (the son of Mohammad Bin Qasim) built another city ‘Mansoora’ (victory) near Shahdadpur in 737 A.D. – 119 AH. which became the capital of the Arab kingdom. Because of these unsettled conditions Sind had to be conquered again and again.
“In Sind the recall of Mohammad Bin Qasim was followed by a Hindu reaction which almost wiped out the results of the first victories. When Hakam bin Awanah was appointed Governor of Sind, he found that the natives had rebelled and apostasized. He built two cities, Mahfuzah and Mansurah in the north and south of Sind, to provide places of security for Muslims.” 26
From the departure of Mohammad Bin Qasim in 715 A.D. to the fall of the Umayyad caliphate in 750 A.D., a period of 35 years, Sind had nine governors. They were Habib Bin Mohlab, Amro Bin Muslim Bahili, Bilal Bin Ahwaz, Junaid Bin Abdur Rehman Marri, Tamim Bin Zaid Atbi, Hakam Bin Awanah Qalbi, Amroo Bin Mohainmad Bin Qasim, Yazid Bin Arrar and Mansur Bin Jamhur Qalbi. During this period “Governor Junaid again conquered all the territory up to Beas and Ravi in the north-east, Kashmir in the north, Arabian ocean in the south, Malwa in the south-east and Makran in the west.”27
Umayyad caliphate was replaced by that of the Abbasids in 750 AD, Sind became part of the Abbasid dominions. It remained under Baghdad’s control during the Abbasid Caliphs Saffa, Mansoor, Hadi, Haroon, Mamoon, Mutasim, Wasiq and Mutawakkil. In the reign of the last mentioned Caliph, the Governor of Sind, Umar Hibari, became practically independent owing nominal allegience to the Caliph. Earlier, during the caliphate of Mamoon-ur-Rashid, Sind Governor Bashar Ibn-e-Dawood had revolted and withheld the payment of revenues, but the revolt was quelled judiciously. It may be of interest to note that the postal and intelligence services of Sind were directly controlled by the Caliphs.
The man who governed Sind (then covering major portion of present day Pakistan) for the longest period was Dawood bin Yazid bin Hatim who died in 821 A.D. Two members of the famous Baramaka family of Abbasid Prime Ministers ruled over Sind as Governors during this period. One was Musa Barmakh and the other his son Omar Barmakh. The Barmakh family were said to be originally Kashmiri Buddhists who had migrated to Balkh (now in northern Afghanistan) and after accepting Islam, went to Baghdad where several members of the family had distinguished career. Two of them, Yahya and Jafar, became Prime Ministers of Haroon-ur-Rashid. (The word Barmakh is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘par mukh’ meaning sardar).
During the 105 years of Abbasid period when Sind formed part of their dominions (750-855 A.D.) thirty-one Governors were appointed. The Hibari dynasty which had become independent lasted from 855 A.D. to 1010 A.D. i.e., till the annexation of Sind by Mahmud Ghaznavi. It was the last Arab government. One of its rulers Abdulla bin Omar Hibari (d. 893 AD) ruled for about 30 years and made great contribution to the cultural and economic development of the province. It was during the Hibari period that Sind severed its relations with the caliphate; and it was during this period that two separate states emerged in Sind: one had its capital at Mansura and the other at Multan. In addition, several small Hindu states had also sprung up. It was again during the Hibari rule that the Fatimid Caliph Obidullah-aI-Mahdi sent the first Ismaili missionary, Haishan, to Sind.
Sind being the eastern-most province of the Umayyad, and then of the Abassid Caliphates with loose control from the centre, its political as well as religious life was highly perturbed. In the political field due to internecine quarrels, Muslim governments in the area were divided into two sections: The upper region had Multan as its capital and the capital of the lower region was Mansura near Shahdadpur. Sind also became an arena of religious acrimonies because of the large number of Ismaili missionaries who visited this country and the herectics who took refuge here. The first Ismaili missionary to visit Sind was Haisham who came to Sind in 877 A.D. – 270 A.H. He was sent by the founder of the Fatimid caliphate, Obaidullah-al-Mahdi. Among other prominent Ismaili missionaries to visit Sind were Hazrat Abdullah (1067 A.D.), Pir Sadruddin (1430 AD), his son Kabiruddin, his brother Tajuddin and Syed Yusufuddin, all of whom gained considerable following in Pakistan. Pir Sadruddin had his grand lodge in Sind and it was he who conferred on the new converts the title of Khwaja (Khoja), meaning honourable. According to Dr. Arnold a number of Ismaili missionaries were sent to Sind from the famous “Alamut” fort which was the headquarter of Hasan Bin Sabbah who lived in the late 11th and early 12th century A.D.28 Abdullah-al-Ashtar Alvi, a great grandson of Hazrat Ali was among those who had religious differences with the Caliph, was considered a heretic and took refuge here. Because of sheltering him, the Governor of Sind, Omar bin Hafs was transferred to North Africa by the Caliph. Hazrat Abdullah Ashtar’s tomb at Clifton on the sea-shore near Karachi is still visited by devotees.
A large number of Sunni missionaries also visited Sind during the Arab period. The Omayyed Caliph Hazrat Omar bin Abdul Aziz is said to have sent a number of them who were successful in converting several Sindhi landlords. The Abbasid Caliph Mahdi also sent some missionaries who converted a number of Rajas and prominent Hindus up to Peshawar. Mohammad Alfi who came with Mohammad Bin Qasim and was among the most successful missionaries, later became adviser to the Raja of Kashmir and settled there.
As already stated, during the major portion of Arab rule, Sind and southern Punjab were rent by political as well as religious rivalries. Since every development in the Middle East had its direct impact on this region, the Fatimid-Abbasid political rivalry with its religious manifestation in the Ismaili-Sunni controversy, found its full echo here, particularly in the 10th century A.D. (early 4th century hijri). Ismaili, or according to some, Carmathian rulers were installed in the upper region whose capital was Multan. It is related that the Fatimid Caliph Imam Abdul Aziz Billah had sent a misionary Jalam bin Shaiban from Cairo to Multan with a sizeable army in 372 hijri (985 A.D.) to establish Ismaili rule which he did, and himself became head of the state. At this time the rulers of Makran and Mansura were also Ismailis. The Sumra family of Sind which had accepted Ismaili Islam owed allegience to the Fatimid Caliphs of Cairo, sent them presents and zakat and read their name in Friday ‘Khutba’. After the fall of the Fatimids, Sindhi Ismailis attached themselves to the Mustali branch of the Ismailis who were functioning from Yemen. (Members of the ‘Mustali’ branch are called Bohris in the sub-continent). The history of this period is so confused that it is difficult to state with any certainty as to when and how long Ismaili and Carmathian rulers held sway at Mansura and Multan. There were frequent changes accompanied by enlargement or shrinkag of territories. Ferishta speaks of Shaikh Hamid Lodhi as the first ruler of Multan converted to Carmathian faith. Haig says that Multan was seized by Abdullah, the Carmathian, about 287 hijri (900 A.D.). Ibn-e-Haukal visited in 367 hijri but does not mention the Ismailis and says that the rulers of Multan and Mansura recognised the authority of Baghdad. Al Maqdasi visited Multan in 375 hijri and wrote that the people of Multan were Shias, presents were sent to the Fatimids of Egypt and Ismailis were claiming an increasing number of converts. Al Beruni writing about the 424 hijri says “the rise of the Carmathians preceded our time by almost 100 years i.e., in 324 hijri.” Whatever the fortunes of the rulers, there is some ground to believe that Ismaili form of Shiaism continued to be dominant in Sind and southern Punjab for a considerable time.
“Propaganda under the Fatimid ‘Dawat’ in the subcontinent is traced back to the time of Fatimid Caliph al Mustansir. Ismailis had indeed been sent to the subcontinent at a much earlier date. Their field of labour was in Sind, in a district of Multan. Their chief dai was in correspondence with Caliph Muizz (953) and the community had not only increased in numbers, but it had attained power in Multan during his Imamate. The community recognised the Fatimids as Imams but the initiative in Sind may have been taken by the Carmathians. Later history links Multan and Sind with the Nizarian Dawat”29
“Ivanow describes the Ismaili population in south Asia as the most ancient and interesting. Sons of Mohammad Ibn Ismail had sought refuge in Qandahar, then a part of Sind. Sind early became a dist. or Jazira, of the Ismaili ‘dawat’. During the Imamats of Al Muizz (953) its chief dai was in direct communication with the Imam.” 30
SIND’S PROGRESS UNDER ARABS
However, in spite of political chaos and religious confusion, Sind made great progress in the literary and economic fields during this period. Sindhi scholars and doctors made a mark not only in their own country but in the entire Muslim world. Mathematicians and philosophers from Sind visited Baghdad in large numbers and made outstanding contribution to the promotion of learning among the Arabs. Several physicians were called from Sind for the treatment of Caliphs among whom were Ganga and Manka who treated Haroon-ur-Rashid. The latter was a member of Bait-ul-Hikmat of Haroon-ur-Rashid. Another Sindhi doctor who made a mark in the Muslim world was a newly converted Muslim, Saleh bin Bhahla (Bhalla).
Among the notable Sindhi ulema were: Maulana Islami who hailed from Debal, accepted Islam during Mohammad Bin Qasim’s days and was sent by him as envoy to Raja Dahir for negotiations. Abu Maashar Sindhi was Muslim world’s noted scholar of ’seerat and ‘fiqh’. He lived at Medina for a number of years and later shifted to Baghdad where he died. He was so much respected that on his death Caliph Mehdi led the funeral prayers. His son Abu Abdul Malik was also an eminent scholar and had settled down in Baghdad. Hafiz Abu Mohammad Khalaf bin Saalem who was a ‘hadees’ scholar had migrated from Sind to Iraq where he attained fame. Abu Nasr Fateh Bin Abdulla Sindhi was known for his proficiency in ‘hadees,’ ‘fiqh’ and Ilm-e-Kalaam. He wrote ‘Tafseer’ in Sindhi and rendered Islamic teachings in such beautiful and forceful Sindhi verse that it gained immense popularity both among Hindus and Muslims. Another ‘aalim’ Ishaque Sindhi, was among the most revered muftis of the Abbasid period. Imam Auzai of Sind was considered an authority on religion in the Muslim world. Mohammad bin Ali Shwarib, the Qazi of Mansura and his son Ali bin Mohammad bin Ali Shwarib were also renowned scholars.
Among the Sindhis who earned eminence in the Muslim world as Arabic poets during this period were Abul Ata Sindhi, Haroon bin Abdulla Multani, Abu Mohammad Mansuri who hailed from Mansura, Mansoor Hindi, Musa bin Yakub, Saqafi, Abu Zila Sindhi, Kashajam bin Sindhi bin Shahak etc. Sindhi bin Sadqa was a ‘Katib’, a writer as well as a poet. Some of them wrote in Sindhi as well as in Arabic. It is said that at the request of a Sindhi Raja, Mahrook, who embraced Islam, the Quran was translated into Sindhi during the reign of Abdulla bin Omar Hibari. Due to the patronage extended by early Abbasid Caliphs and their Baramaka Prime Ministers, a number of Sindhi Pandits and Veds went to Baghdad and engaged themselves in scientific and literary pursuits. They translated a number of Sanskrit books on mathematics, astronomy, astrology, medicine, literature and ethics into Arabic. Prominent among them were Bhalla, Manka, Bazeegar (Bajaikar), Falbar Ful (Kalap Rai Kal), Ibne Dahan, Saleh bin Bhalla, Bakhar, Raja, Makka, Daher, Anko, Arikal, Andi, Jabbhar, etc. Some of these Pandits taught the Arabs, numerals.31
In about 780 A.D. – 154 A.H. when a deputation of Sindhi Pandits visited Baghdad, they carried with them a Sanskrit work known as ‘Siddhanat’ which, after translation in Arabic, became known as AI-Sindh-Hind.
Sindhi accountants were also popular in the Arab world. According to Jahez (d. 874 A.D. – 255 A.H.) all the ‘Sarrafs’ (money-changers) in Iraq were Sindhi treasurers. They were proficient in accounting and exchange business and were also honest and loyal servants.
The Arab rulers of Sind-Multan were extremely liberal, spoke Sindhi and treated their subjects well. They never encroached upon the religious liberties of the Hindus and Buddhists and appointed them to positions of responsibility. Mohammad Bin Qasim had appointed Sisakar, the Prime Minister of Raja Dahir, his own Prime Minister, and Kiska, another Hindu, his Revenue Minister. The entire history of Sind under the Arabs is replete with instances of Hindus holding positions of great responsibility and honour. Three per cent of the country’s revenues were given to Brahmins as stipends. When some of the district administrators informed the Government that they were experiencing shortage of cows and bulls which were needed for agricuiture and transport, Government prohibited cow slaughter.
In the economic field also Sind made considerable progress. Agriculture received great impetus with foodgrains being exported tothe Middle East. A number of new varieties of fruits were cultivated among which the bananas of Sind were extremely popular in the neighboring countries. Camphor, neel, banana, coconut, dates, sugarcane, lemons, mangoes, almonds, nuts, wheat and rice are mentioned by almost all visitors as grown in plenty in Sind. Bishari Maqdasi writes that there were innumerable gardens in Sind and the trees were tall and luxuriant. The whole city of Mansura was covered with almond and nut trees.
The cities established by the Arabs “flourished as great centres of trade and learning. A busy trade grew up and the merchants of different nationalities carried Indian goods through Sind to Turkistan and Khurasan imported horses into Sind.”32 Debal, Nairun Kot, Sehwan, Khuzdar, Aror, Multan and Mansura were flourishing commercial centres. Arabs had more trade with this country than with Gujrat, Malabar and Bengal. A large proportion of merchandise was transported from the Punjab by rivers. 700-800 maunds of goods were sewn in jute cloth, put in leather bags oiled from outside to prevent water penetrating and put in the rivers. 33
“On account of their favourable geographical position the ports of Sind played a vital role, even before the Arab invasion, in the commercial intercourse between the countries to the west (Iran, South Arabia, Ethiopia) and to the east of the Indus delta, as well as in the export of commodities manufactured in Sind itself. This role gained momentum after Islam had reached Sind. The author of Hudud al’Alam mentions that there were plenty of merchants in Sind, stressing that many a citizen of the coastal areas were engaged in sea trade. The cities of Daibul and Mansura were major trade centres of Lower Sind at the turn of the first and second millennia. In the first centuries of the second millennium, Thatta came in the fore as another major economic and political centre of the country: in the opinion of some scholars, the city in its prime had a population of 280,000.”34
Leather and leather goods industry also made great progress during this period. The coloured and soft leather of Sind was known all over the world markets as Al-Sindhi. According to ‘Muruj-uz-Zahab’, the shoes of Mansura were very popular in Iran and the Arab world. Imam Hanbal relates that a large number of shoes were imported from Mansura into Baghdad where they were in great demand among the royal family and the gentry. But, he remarks, they were very showy.
Arabs also took keen interest in animal husbandry. They improved several breeds of camels, horses, cows, bulls and buffaloes. Sindhi buffaloes were so popular that Arabs used to carry them to their home towns when returning from Sind.
Building of cities and construction of roads and houses was a hobby with the Arabs. They built several new cities such as Mahfooza (in 732 A.D), Mansura (737 A.D.), Baiza (835 A.D.), Jundrore near Multan (in 854 AD) and several others. They also improved and expanded the existing cities by constructing satellite towns. A bridge called “Sukkar-al-Maid” was built over the Indus near Sukkur.
A number of Arab tribes of Quraish, Kalb, Tameem, Saqeef, Harris, Ael-e-Utba, Aal-e-Jareema and Asad, and several prominent families of Yemen and Hejaz had settled in Sind. Masudi (915 A.D. – 302 A.H.) writes that he met many descendants of Hazrat Ali in Mansura who were in the line of Omar bin Ali and Mohammad Bin Ali. He also mentions that there was fertility and opulence here and people were healthy. Some authorities have expressed the view that the wife of Hazrat Imam Hussain, who other of Hazrat Imam Zainul Abdin from whom the line of Hussaini Syeds is traced, was not a Perstan as is generally believed, but a Sindhi lady of noble family.”35
Bishari writes that the people of Multan were prosperous, they did not drink wine and their women did not use cosmetics. Both Arabic and Sindhi were spoken. Regarding Mansura he states that the people were very well-read, courteous and religious. The city had a large number of scholars and the general standard of morals and intelligence was high. Mansura remained the capital of Sind from 737 A.D. – 120 A.H to 1026 A.D. – 416 A.H. for about 300 years till its conquest by Mahmud Ghaznavi. In late 3rd century Hijri when Multan became the capital of the northern kingdom, Mansura remained the capital of only the south i i.e., modern Sind. It survived till the Tughlaq period in the 14th century A.D. when it disappeared due to change in the course of river Indus.
As during the time of Darius when Sind constituted the 20th Satrapy of the Achaemenian Empire and considered an extremely rich province, so also during the Arab rule Sind was regarded a prosperous part of the Caliphate and paid a million dirham per annum as revenue to the Government at Baghdad.
——- TO BE CONTINUED (Ghaznavid period in Sind, Naaseruddin Qubacha, The Sumras and Sammas, The Arghans and the Turkhans, The Kalhoras and the Talpurs)
1. The Wonder that was India, By A.L. Bhasham
2. The peoples of Pakistan, By Yu. V. Gankovsky
3. Arab-o-Hind ke Talluqat, By Sulaiman Nadvi.
4. The Gazetteer of Pakistan: The Province of Sind, edited by T.H. Sorly
5. Gazetteer of the Province of Sind, compiled by E.H. Aitkin
6. Ancient Trade in Pakistan, By Sir Mortimer Wheeler, Pakistan Quarterly, Vol VII #1957
7. Sindhj Culture, By U.T. Thakkur.
8. Tareekh-Sind, By Manlana Syed Abu Zafar Nadvi.
9. An Advanced History of India, Part II, By R.C. Majumdar, H.C. Roychandra and Kalikinkar Ditta
10. The Land of five rivers and Sind, By David Ross
11. Arab~o-Hind ke Tallukat, By Suiaiman Nadvi;
12. Tareekh-e-Sind, Part I, By Ijaaul Haq Quddusi.
13. Dr. Mohammad Ishaque in Journal of Pakistan Historical Society Vol 3 Part1
14. A Study of History, Vol VII, By Arnold Toynbee.
16. Sind: A General Introduction, By M.T. Lambrick.
17. A greater portion of the area now called Baluchistan was then known as Makran. The word Baluchistan came into vogue much later.
18. Journal of Pakistan, Historical Society, Vol.111, Part 1
20. Muslim Community of the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent, by Dr. I.H Qureshi
21. Tareekh-e-Sind, Part 1, by Aijazul Haq Quddusi
22. The Making of India, By Dr. Abdulla Yusuf Ali.
23. Jaunat-us-Sind, By Maulai Shaidai.
24. Imperial Gazetteer of India.
26. Indian Muslims, By Prof. M. Mujeeb.
27. Tareekh-e-Sind, Part 1, By Aijazul Haq Quddusi.
28. The preaching of Islam by Sir Thomas Arnold
29. Shias of India, By John Norman Hollister.
31. Arab-o-Hind ke Tallukat, By Syed Sulaiman Nadvi
32. Sindhi Culture, By U.T. Thakut.
33. Tareekh-e-Sind, By Maulana Abu Zafar Nadvi.
34. The Peoples of Pakistan, By. Yu. V. Gankovsky.
35. Arab-o-Hind ke Tallukat, By Syed Sulairnan Nadvi.