Muhammad bin Qasim was an Umayyad general who conquered the Sindh region in present-day Pakistan for the Umayyad Caliphate. He was born in 695 AD in Taif, Saudi Arabia. Muhammad bin Qasim was the nephew of Hajjaj bin Yusuf, the governor of Iraq during the reign of Caliph Al-Walid I.
In 711 AD, Hajjaj bin Yusuf sent Muhammad bin Qasim at the age of just 17 to conquer Sindh and Punjab regions. This was in response to the appeal of some Sindhi Muslim traders who had been looted near the port city of Debal. Muhammad bin Qasim first captured Debal, then moved northward to Nerun and then to Brahmanabad. He defeated the ruler Dahir of Sindh and captured his capital Brahmanabad. The remaining territories including Multan surrendered and paid tributes.
Muhammad bin Qasim showed remarkable military skill and leniency towards the defeated populations. He established good governance and ensured peace in the conquered lands. He did not forcefully convert people to Islam but gave them religious freedom. He remitted taxes for those converting to Islam, but most of the Sindhi population remained Hindu.
After the conquest of Sindh, Caliph Al-Walid I and Hajjaj bin Yusuf desired to conquer more Indian territories. But due to Hajjaj’s death, those plans were abandoned. In 715 AD, Caliph Sulayman ibn Abd al-Malik took over as the new Caliph. He was not interested in conquering India. He eventually ordered the withdrawal of Muhammad bin Qasim from Sindh.
On his way back to Damascus, Syria, Muhammad bin Qasim died at the age of 20 in the city of Wasit in modern-day Iraq. His mausoleum still stands there today. He was admired for his military skill, good governance, and kindness towards the defeated non-Muslims of Sindh. That is why he received the title “Saifullah” meaning “Sword of Allah”.
Despite his short reign of just 4 years in Sindh, Muhammad bin Qasim is remembered as an icon who shaped cultural and political landscape of South Asia. He laid the foundation of Muslim rule in the Indian subcontinent that lasted for over 700 years. He is still revered by many Pakistanis for bringing Islam to Sindh. However, some Indian historians view Muhammad bin Qasim as a foreign invader.
In summary, Muhammad bin Qasim was the Umayyad general who at the young age of 17 conquered Sindh in present-day Pakistan. He was known for his military skill, religious tolerance and good governance. Though his rule lasted just 4 years, he left a lasting legacy and shaped Muslim history in South Asia. He was called back by the Umayyad Caliph Sulayman ibn Abd al-Malik and died on his way back to Damascus at the age of 20.
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