Incredible India - Part 4 - Raja Dahir – The fallen hero of India

Updated: Dec 31, 2020

Raja Dahir was the son of Chach of Aror who belonged to the Pushkarna Bhramin Dynasty of Sindh, and when his uncle Chander died, he took upon the throne. This dynasty ruled over the parts of modern day Afghanistan, Balochistan, Pakistan, parts of Punjab, and Iran. 

In the days of Raja Dahir, a member of the Bani Umaya dynasty, Abdul Malik son of Marvan, was the ruler of Arabia. His Commander, Hajjaj Bin Yousuf Sagfi was a very brutal, murderous tyrant, who had been very cruel in his treatment of the descendants of the Prophet and murdered many Muslims. There is plenty of historic documentation which informs us about these deeds. After brutally suppressing the local revolt that followed the killing of Hussain (grandson of the Prophet), the dominion of Bani Umaya extended to all of Arabia and they attacked all their neighbors to extend their kingdom. In the days of this king, his forces were sent in three different directions to conquer different countries. One was sent to the West under the command of Musa Ashri which made conquests till Spain. To the North, armies were dispatched under the command of Qutiba bin Muslim, and these captured Samarkand and Bukhara. Towards the east, Hajjaj son of Yousuf sent an army under the command of his son-in-law Mohammed son of Qasim. Before this attempt, they had made fourteen unsuccessful attempts to conquer Sindh. The main part of this conquest was to find out the remaining family of Hussain and kill them, who managed to escape to Sindh. Al-Hajjaj’s decision to send the powerful battalion was commanded by his nephew, Muhammad Bin Qasim, which was considered to be a revengeful act. It was because Raja Dahir had refused to hand over some Arab exiles who had fallen out of favor with Hajjaj and had sought asylum in Sindh.

In 711 AD, Qasim attacked Debal. The policy was in fact enlisting and co-opting support from defectors, and which defeated lords and forces. After the successful invasion of Debal, Qasim moved to Nerun for supplies. The city’s Buddhist governor acknowledged it to be the tributary state of Caliphate, and after the first campaign, he capitulated to bin Qasim.

Bin Qasim had the support of various other local tribes such as Jats, Meds, Bhuttos, Buddhist rulers of Nerun, Bajhra, Kaka Kolak, Siwistan. And with the strong support, he defeated Dahir and captured the eastern territories for Umayyad Caliphate.

Dahir had made attempts after attempts to prevent Qasim to cross the River so that he couldn’t force his armies into the eastern bank. Unfortunately for Dahir, Qasim crossed the river and defeated forces at Jitor led by Jaisiah (Dahir’s son). Dahir then had to fight Qasim at Raor (which is near modern Nawabshah) in 712, and in the battle, Qasim killed Dahir. When he was killed, his head was cut off and sent to Hajjaj bin Yousuf.

Dahir’s wife and other women in the household committed Jauhar because they didn’t want to be captured by the invaders. But two of them were unlucky. It was his two daughters – Surya Devi and Premala Devi – who were captured by the invaders. They were then sent to Khalifa as presents for the harem in Damascus. These women tricked the caliph to believe that Muhammad bin Qasim had, in fact, violated them before he sent them as the presents. Qasim was then wrapped and stitched in oxen hides and returned to Syria, which killed him from suffocation en route. When the Khalifa discovered the deceit, he was filled with guilt and remorse, and then buried the daughters alive in a wall.

After bin Qasim's departure, the next appointed Arab governor died on arrival. Dahir's son recaptured Brahmanabad and in c. 720, he was granted pardon and included in the administration in return for converting to Islam. Soon, however, he recanted and split off when the Umayyads were embroiled in a succession crisis. Later, Junayd ibn Abd al-Rahman al-Murri killed Jaisiah and recaptured the territory before his successors once again struggled to hold and keep it. During the Abassid period, c. 870, the local emirs shook off all allegiance to the caliphs and by the 10th century the region was split into two weak states, Mansurah on the lower Indus and Multan on the upper Indus, which were soon captured by Ismailis who set up an independent Fatimid state. These successor states did not achieve much and shrank in size. The Arab conquest remained checked in what is now the south of Pakistan for three centuries by powerful Hindu monarchs to the north and east until the arrival of Mahmud of Ghazni.

Part 5 – India and Arabs

Part 3 - Gandhari Language

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