The Aligarh apologists accuse the medieval Muslim historians of exaggerating the barbarities committed by the Muslim invaders and rulers. Next, they blame on the inherent barbarism of the Turks whatever irreducible minimum of atrocities cannot be hushed out of recorded history. And they end by absolving Islam of every crime committed in its name.
My first question is: How is it that what the Prophet of Islam did in Arabia and the Arab armies in Syria, Iraq, Iran, North Africa, Sicily, Spain and Sindh, bears such close resemblance to what the Turks did in India?
The Aligarh school is never tired of telling us that Islam would have had a brighter record in India had it been brought by the Arabs instead of the “terrible” Turks. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru has swallowed this lie, hook, line, and sinker, and relayed it to two generations of Hindu students through his best-sellers.
Here the Aligarh apologists depend upon the ignorance of the average Hindu about the history of Arab imperialism inspired by Islam ever since the city of Yathrib was converted into Medina after conversion of its pagan citizens and massacre of the Jews. Otherwise, they would not have risked smuggling in such a stupendous lie without batting an eye.
We need not travel to distant lands in order to discover the truth about Islamic imperialism as practised and perfected by the Arabs. What the Arabs did in Sindh, as soon as they entered this unfortunate province of Bharatavarsha, provides every detail of the pattern they had repeated elsewhere.
THE ARAB RECORD IN SINDH
The Chachnãma which is the most famous Muslim history of the Arab conquest of Sindh, describes graphically what Muhammad bin Qasim did after that “accursed Dahir” had been “despatched” while defending the fort of Rawar: “Muhammad took the fort and stayed there for two or three days. He put six thousand fighting men, who were in the fort, to the sword and shot some (more) with arrows. The other dependents were taken prisoner with their wives and children… When the number of prisoners was calculated, it was found to amount to thirty thousand persons amongst whom thirty were the daughters of the chiefs, and one of them was Rãî Dãhir’s sister’s daughter whose name was Jaisiya. They were sent to Hajjãj. The head of Dãhir and the fifth part of prisoners were forwarded in charge of K’ab, son of Maharak.” (emphasis added).
How did Hajjãj react towards these helpless people from Sindh? TheChachnãma continues: “When the head of Dãhir, the women and the property all reached Hajjãj, he prostrated himself before Allah, offered thanks-giving and praises… Hajjãj then forwarded the head, the umbrellas, and wealth, and prisoners to Walîd the Khalifa.” (emphasis added).
The behaviour of the Amîr-ul-mu‘minîn, (commander of the faithful) was also true to type. The Chachnãma relates “When the Khalifa of the time had read the letter (of Hajjãj), he praised Allah the great. He sold some of those daughters of the chiefs, and some he granted as rewards. When he saw the daughter of Rãî Dãhir’s sister he was much struck with her beauty and charms, and began to bite his finger with astonishment. Abdullah bin Abbãs desired to take her, but the Khalifa said: ‘O my nephew! I exceedingly admire this girl and am so enamoured of her, that I wish to keep her for myself. Nevertheless, it is better that you take her to be the mother of your children’.” (emphasis added).
Meanwhile, Muhammad bin Qasim had been conspiring with some merchants of Brahmanabad and promising protection to the common people, provided they committed treason and threw open the gates of the fort in the thick of the fight. He had some doubts whether he had done the right thing. He referred the matter to Hajjãj in a letter which was sent post haste. According toChachnãma, Hajjãj replied as follows: “O my cousin! I received your life-inspiring letter …I learnt that the ways and rules you follow are confirmable to the Law (of Islam), except that you give protection to all, great and small, and make no distinction between enemy and friend. Allah says - Give no quarter to infidels but cut their throats. Then know that this is the command of Allah the great. You should not be too ready to grant protection, because it will prolong your work. After this, give no quarter to any enemy except to those who are of rank. This is a worthy resolve, and want of dignity will not be imputed to you.” (emphasis added).
So Muhammad bin Qasim carried out the command of Allah conveyed to him by Hajjãj. The Chachnãma carries the story forward after the fall of Brahmanabad: “When the plunder and the prisoners of war were brought before Qãsim and enquiries were made about every captive, it was found that Lãdî, the wife of Dãhir, was in the fort with two daughters of his by other wives. Veils were put on their faces and they were delivered to a servant to keep them apart. One fifth of all the prisoners were chosen and set aside: they were counted as amounting to twenty thousand in number, and the rest were given to the soldiers. He sat on the seat of cruelty, and put all those who had fought to the sword. It is said that about six thousand fighting men were slain, but according to some, sixteen thousand were killed.” (emphasis added).
After “peace” had thus been restored, the conqueror took the next step. TheChachnãma records: “Muhammad bin Qãsim fixed a tax upon all subjectsaccording to the laws of the Prophet. Those who embraced Islam were exempted from slavery, the tribute and poll-tax, and from those who did not change their creed a tax was exacted according to three grades.” (emphasis added).
Then followed the privilege reserved for every Muslim, conqueror or convert. According to the Chachnãma: “As the commander of the faithful, Umar, son of Khattãb, had ordered respecting the people of Shãm (Syria), so did Muhammad bin Qãsim also make a rule that every (Muslim) guest should be entertained (in Hindu homes) for one day and night, but if he fell sick then for three days and nights.”
Another massacre followed at Askalanda which was surrendered by the common people after the Hindu commandant had fled: “He went into the fort,killed four thousand fighting men with his bloody sword and sent their families into slavery.” And Multan: “Six thousand warriors were put to death, and all their relations and dependents were taken as slaves.” (emphasis added). TheChachnãma chooses a Brahmin of Multan to proclaim Muhammad bin Qãsim’s momentous victory in the following words: “Heathenism is now at an end, the temples are thrown down, the world has received the light of Islam, and mosques are built instead of idols temples.” The Brahmin was a new convert.
Al Biladuri who died in 892-893 AD wrote another account of the Arab conquest of Sindh. He tells us in his Futûhul-Buldãn: “We are told that Hajjãj caused a calculation to be made of the sums expanded in fitting out this expedition of Muhammad bin Qãsim, and the riches which resulted from it. He had spent 60 million dirhams and that which had been sent to him amounted to 120 millions dirhams.”
This 120 million dirhams represents only one-fifth of the total loot which was paid into the Caliph’s coffers according to a rule laid down by the prophet of Islam. Another four hundred and eighty million dirhams were distributed among Muslim soldiers in the field. Again, this total of 600 million dirhams does not include the sale proceeds of nearly two hundred thousand Hindu men, women and children who were taken prisoners and put to auction all over the world of Islam at that time.
PERFORMANCE OF THE PATHANS
My second question is: How come that the Pathans, who hated the Turks and fought them tooth and nail throughout the medieval period, followed the Turks so faithfully in their treatment of the Hindus?
Take Sikandar Lodi. He was the son of a Pathan father. His mother was the daughter of a Hindu goldsmith of Sirhind. Abdullah records as follows in hisTãrîkh-i-Dãûdî written in the reign of Jahangir: “It is also related of this prince that before his accession, when a crowd of Hindûs had assembled in immense numbers at Kurkhet, he wished to go to Thanesar for the purpose of putting them all to death… He was so zealous a Musalmãn that he utterly destroyed diverse places of worship of the infidels and left not a vestige remaining of them. He entirely ruined the shrines of Mathura, the mine of infidelism, and turned the principal Hindû places of worship into caravanserais and colleges. Their stone images were given to the butchers to serve as meat-weights, and all the Hindûs in Mathura were strictly prohibited from shaving their heads and beards and bathing at the ghãts.” Badauni writes in his Muntakhãb-ut-Tawãrîkh that “he took the fort (of Untgarh) and gave the infidels as food for the sword. He then cast down the idol temples and built there a lofty mosque.” He repeated the performance at Narwar next year, and at many other places in the years that followed
BEHAVIOUR OF HINDU CONVERTS
My third question is: How do we explain the behaviour of marauders who were not Turks but Hindus converted to Islam, and who behaved no better, if not worse, than the much-maligned Turks?
The story of Kalapahar and his exploits in Bengal and Orissa may be dismissed by the Aligarh apologists as a cock-and-bull story cooked up by “Hindu old women”. But the achievements of Malik Kafur are recorded by no less an authority than Amir Khusru who was also a contemporary. Malik Kafur was a handsome young Hindu who was captured and enslaved when Ulugh Khan and Nusrat Khan, two generals of Alauddin Khalji, invaded Gujarat in 1298 AD. He was bought by Nusrat Khan for a thousand dinãrs, converted to Islam, and presented to the emperor at Delhi. Alauddin was infatuated by Kafur who rose rapidly to be the topmost officer of the empire, titled Malik Naib.
Kafur led his famous expedition to the South in 1310-1311 AD. Devagiri was already a tributary of the Delhi Sultanate. The Hoysala King of Dvarasamudra was frightened into surrender. But the Pandya prince of Madurai refused either to purchase peace or fight a pitched battle. He tired out the Malik Naib by his hit and run tactics. The Malik Naib took it out on the non-combatant common people and their temples. At Brahmastapur (modern Chidambaram), he massacred the citizens, demolished the golden temple, and dug up its foundations. Next, the temples at Srirangam and in the neighbourhood of Kannanur were sacked. At Madurai he set fire to the temple of Sokkanatha. He had to beat a retreat in the face of fierce Hindu resistance. But he did not forget to capture and carry with him an immense booty and hordes of prisoners who were sold into slavery all along his long route to the imperial headquarters at Delhi.
Or take the case of Suhabhatta, the chief minister of Sikandar Butshikan of Kashmir (1389-1413 AD). Suhabhatta who had renounced his ancestral faith for Islam is known as Suhã in the RãjatariñgiNî of Jonarãja. This historian of Kashmir records: “Instructed by mlechhas, (Suhã) instigated the king to break down the images of Gods. The king forgot his kingly duties and took a delight day and night in breaking images… He broke the images of MãrtaNDa, Vishaya, Îšãna, Chakravaratî and Tripurešvara… There was no city, no town, no village, no wood where Suhã and the Turushka left the temples of Gods unbroken.
Suhabhatta continued to be the chief minister under Sikandar’s son, Ali Shah (1413-1420 AD). During Sikandar’s reign, he had stopped at destroying Hindu temples. Under the new regime, he started persecuting the Brahmins. Their religious performances and processions were banned. The traditional allowances of the Brahmins were stopped. The Brahmins, therefore, became beggars “who had to move from door to door, like dogs, for food”. Many of them tried to flee the land to escape oppression and save their caste. But they could not do so without an official permit. As a result, many of them committed suicide by fire, poison, drowning, hanging, and jumping from precipices. Amidst all this, Suhabhatta maintained that he bore no malice towards the Brahmins, and that he was only doing his duty towards Islam!
TURKS WERE BRUTALISED BY ISLAM
My fourth question is: Were the Turks really such black barbarians as they have been painted by the Aligarh apologists? How then do we explain the glaring contradiction in the behaviour of many Turkish kings who were such fearsome fiends when dealing with Hindus, but who became benevolent monarchs when dealing with Muslims?
Take Mahmud Ghaznavi who tops the list of Muslim invaders most hated by Hindus. Muhammad Nazim, a “modern historian,” writes as follows in his well-documented monograph, The Life and Times of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazna: “The Sultan was affectionate by nature… Sultan Mahmud was strict in the administration of justice… Sultan Mahmud was a poet and scholar of some reputation. He is said to have been the author of a book named Tafridul-Furuwhich was regarded as a standard work on Fiqh… The Sultan was a great patron of learning and his court was the rendezvous of scholars from all parts of the Muslim world… His meanest rewards were calculated in thousands ofdinãrs, and the later generation of poets cherished his memory chiefly as a giver of ‘elephant loads’ of gold and silver.” Firishta records that he used the war booty captured from Kanauj for building at Ghazni a magnificent mosque, a university well-stocked with books, and a museum full of many curiosities.
Or take Jalaluddin Khalji. He was second to none among the Muslim kings when it came to heaping atrocities on Hindus. But when Malik Chhajju, who had rebelled against him and caused bloodshed, was brought before him in chains, he overruled his advisers for harsh punishment with the remark that he would rather renounce his throne than shed the blood of a Muslim! Again, when the Rana of Ranthambhor refused to surrender, Jalaluddin gave up the siege of the fort, in spite of protests from his generals, with the remark that he did not consider ten such forts worth a single hair of a Muslim’s head!
Firuz Shah Tughlaq was a great patron of learning, a builder of new cities, and patron of many public works such as tanks, gardens, and canals. In his autobiography he writes: “Better a people’s weal than treasures vast; better an empty chest than hearts downcast.” But by “people” he meant only the Muslims. For Hindus he was nothing short of a monster.
The much-maligned Turk did have another face which was far from being that of a barbarian. It is quite another matter that the benevolent face of the Turk was always and exclusively turned towards his Muslim Ummah, and never towards the “accursed” Hindus. What is relevant here is that crimes committed by the Turks in India cannot be explained away in terms of a barbarism inherent in his race. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who also blames the crimes of Islam on the barbarism of the Turks says in the same breath that the Turks were Buddhists before they got converted to Islam. Was it Buddhism that had brutalised the Turks? Or had Buddhism failed to humanise them?
But even if we concede, for the sake of argument, that the Turk was a born barbarian, the basic question remains unanswered. Some of the medieval Muslim historians were not Turks. They were Arabs and Persians whom the Aligarh apologists credit with the quintessence of Islamic culture. Quite a few of them were learned mullahs conversant with the commandments of Islam. The positions and privileges they obtained in the courts of their Turkish patrons were entirely due to their erudition.
So my fifth and final question is: Why did these medieval Muslim historians credit their patrons with crimes which the latter had not committed, or exaggerate the scale of some minor misdemeanours?
Before we find answers to these five questions let us first have a look at the scale and magnitude of the crimes which medieval Muslim historians have laid at the doors of most of the Muslim monarchs and their minions. Let us see if the narrations of those crimes reveal a pattern. Then we shall proceed to inquire if the pattern conforms to the crudities of normal human nature, or to the commands of an inhuman and imperialist ideology masquerading as religion.