It is an often and conveniently ignored fact that the Persian term Hindu Kush, the mountain range that roughly forms the boundary between Afghanistan and Pakistan, translates literally as 'Hindu Slaughter' or 'Hindu Killer' (the Hindu name for these mountains was Paariyaatra Parvat). Many believe the name was given by Muslim conquerers of the Indian subcontinent as a warning to Hindus; still others believe it was given as a reminder of the Hindu slaves who died en route to Muslim courts in central Asia. Indeed, as historian Will Durant observed, the Mohammedan conquest of India was probably the bloodiest story in history ... a discouraging tale, for its evident moral is that civilization is a precious good, whose delicate complex order and freedom can at any moment be overthrown by barbarians invading from without and multiplying from within.
The Islamic empire had coveted India since the reign of the second Caliph Umar. However, unlike the decadent and aging Byzantine and Persian empires, the Muslims found in the Hindus stiff and latant in resistance, and for several decades their razzias into their territory met with disaster. Umar's expeditionary forces to Thana, Bharuch, and Debal in 636-37 C.E. were repulsed. The fourth Caliph Ali sent an expedition in 660 C.E. which also failed; the leader and most of his troops were slain in the rugged terrain of Kikanan. Ali's successor, Muawiyah, sent as many as 6 expeditions by land to Sindh, all except the last ending in great slaughter. He succeeded for a limited time in occupying Makran in 680, but for the most part it remained independant of Islamic rule. Subsequent attempts to control Hindu territory met with various success initially, but were fruitless in the long term.
Around the same time Berber invaders were conquering Spain for Islam, the governor of Iraq, Al-Hajjaj (Arabic for 'bone crusher') bin Yousef launched a full invasion. Lusting greatly after Hindustan's incomparable wealth, he promised the Caliph Walid I to repay the treasury double the amount spent on provisions and other items of expenditure for the army, as Walid was apprehensive about the cost in treasury, resources, and lives, remembering the disasterous results of nearly all previous Muslim forays into India 1. Walid consented and, at Hajjaj's request, sent 6,000 armed men to aid him in the undertaking.
Two expeditions were sent against Debal in 708 C.E., both resulting in embarrasing defeat. Hajjaj prepared a third expedition consisting of three massive forces, one sent to Kashgar, another to Kabul, and a third under the command of his seventeen year old cousin, Muhammad bin Qasim, to Sindh. Hajjaj instructed Qasim to bring destruction on the unbelievers ... [and] to invite and induce the inidels to accept the true creed, and belief in the unity of God ... and whoever does not submit to Islam, treat him harshly and cause injury to him until he submits 2.
Qasim found conquest relatively simple, due to the large percentage of Buddhists among the populations who were totally averse to violence, and the collaboration of the Jats, uneducated peasants at the lower rung of the social order, hoping to attain material gain from the invaders; indeed the bulk of the population was indifferent to the invasion. Qasim's forces began at Sindh, and moved on to Debal, where, after a prolonged seige, a defector informed him on how to capture the citadel. As Qasim's men scaled their walls, the besieged Indians opened their gates to the invaders and begged for mercy. Qasim's mercy was that they could accept Islam. Upon their refusal, the entire adult male population was put to the sword over the following three days and the women and children were sold into bondage. Qasim defiled their temple and destroyed their idolatrous artwork.
After the conquest of Debal, Qasim suffered from a brief lapse in Islamic reasoning, allowing the idolators freedoms in religion and profession so long as as they payed the jizya. This was unacceptable to Hajjaj, who had been exchanging letters with Qasim about every three days, and was virtually under the command of the expedition:
My dear cousin, I have recieved your life-augmenting letter ... It appears from your letter that all the rules made by you for the comfort and convenience of your men are strictly in accordance with religious law. But the way of granting pardon prescribed by the law is different from the one adopted by you, for you go on giving partdon to everybody, high or low, without any discretion and without any distinction between a friend of foe. The great God says in the Qur'an: 'O true believers, when you encounter the disbelievers, strike off their heads 3'. The above command of the Great God is a great command and must be respected and followed. You should not be so fond of showing mercy, as to nullify the virtue of the act. Henceforth grant pardon to no one of the enemy and spare none of them, or else all will consider you a weak-minded man 4.
The quick surrender of several Indian towns alarmed Raja Dahar, the Hindu prince who at the time ruled Sindh and its surrounding areas. He set out with his Brahman priests and Kshatriya soldiers to oust the Muslim invader. At Rawar, Dahar was killed and his forces defeated; his daughters and as many as thirty other women of royal blood were taken captive and sent to Hajjaj, along with Dahar's severed head and some sixty thousand other captives, now destined for bondage. Rani Bai (Dahar's princess) took refuge in the fort, garrisoned by some 15,000 fighting men. They were overtaken and, realizing she was doomed, the Rani called together the women of the fort and told them, our glory is gone, and our term of life has come to its close. As there is no hope of safety and liberty, let us collect firewood and cotton and oil. The most expedient course for us, I think, is to burn ourselves to ashes, and thus quickly meet our husbands (in the other world) 5. Thus they perished in the fires of jauhar. Qasim's forces occupied the fort and slaughtered the remaining 6,000 men who remained, and seized Raja Dahar's vast wealth and treasure.
Qasim continued his campaign through Brahminabad and Multan. Though Brahminabad surrendered with little resistance, Qasim sat on the thrown of cruelty and put all those who had fought to the sword 6; upwards of 16,000 fighting men were thus executed. Qasim, despite Hajjaj's strict orders for treatment of the subjugated peoples, came to realize that such complete and total elimination of the idolators was neither practical nor expedient, especially since Hajjaj had promised him to repay the costs of Qasim's expedition to the Caliph Walid I. And even though the spoils were so vast that Hajjaj was able to repay the Caliph double the actual cost of the expedition, Qasim allowed the temple of Brahminabad to be rebuilt, and old customs of worship were permitted on the condition that they payed the jizya and the kharaj, as well as other taxes, which he exacted with vigor and punctuality, and frequently with insult 7.
Qasim remained in Sindh for three years, when, in a disasterous overreaction, Walid recalled him to Damascus and had him executed for violating two Sindhi princesses meant for Walid's harem. Islamic power declined rapidly after Qasim's departure, and many newly-converted Muslims reverted back to their old faiths, and the remaining Muslims assimilated into Hindu culture - some actually converted to Hinduism. Still, great damage had been done to India's cultural heritage and social fabric, and the wealth that was looted is incalculable.
Following the Arab conquests, various Turko-Islamic conquerers wreaked great havok upon the Hindu and Buddhist cultures of India. Mahmud of Ghazni swore to make war against the idolators every year of his life - he led about 17 invasions, and faithfully followed the Qur'anic directive to kill the idolators wherever they could be found. The slaughter he wrought at the temple of Somnath alone, at which Muslim chroniclers claim a toll of 50,000 Hindus, appoints him a place of infamy in Indian history. After his conquests of Varanasi, Ujjain, Maheshwar, Jwalamukhi, and Dwarka, not one temple was left standing. In Kangra, besides over 10,000 other temples destroyed by Mahmud:
In the middle of the city there was a temple larger and finer than the rest, which can neither be described nor painted. The Sultan [Mahmud] was of the opinion that 200 years would have been required to build it. The idols included "five of red gold, each five yards high," with eyes formed of priceless jewels. The Sultan gave orders that all the temples should be burnt with naphtha and fire, and leveled with the ground 8
Tarikh-i-Yamini of Utbi, Mahmudís court historian, recorded Mahmud's conquest of Thanesar in 1011:
The blood of the infidels flowed so copiously [at Thanesar] that the stream was discoloured, notwithstanding its purity, and the people were unable to drink it. Had not night come on and concealed the traces of their flight, many more of the enemy would have been slain. The victory was gained by God's grace, who has established Islam forever as the best of religions, notwithstanding that idolators revolt against it. The Sultan returned with plunder which is impossible to recount. Praise be to God, the protector of the world for the honor he bestows upon Islam and Muslims! 9
And Nandana in 1013:
The Sultan returned in the rear of immense booty, and slaves were so plentiful that they became very cheap and men of respectability in their native land were degraded by becoming slaves of common shopkeepers. But this is the goodness of Allah, who bestows honour on his own religion and degrades infidelity.
The infidels deserted the fort and tried to cross the foaming river, but many of them were slain, taken or drowned. Nearly fifty thousand men were killed. The Sultan gave orders that all the temples should be burnt with naptha and fire, and levelled with the ground 10.
In Kanauj there were nearly ten thousand temples ... Many of the inhabitants of the place fled and were scattered abroad like so many wretched widows and orphans, from the fear which oppressed them, in consequence of witnessing the fate of their deaf and dumb idols. Many of them thus affected their escape, and those who did not fly were put to death. The Sultan took all seven forts in a day, and gave his soldiers leave to plunder and take prisoners.
The Sultan summoned the most religiously disposed of his followers, and ordered them to attack the enemy immediately. Many infidels were consequently slain or taken prisoners in this sudden attack, and the Muslims paid no regard to the booty till they had satiated themselves with the slaughter of the infidels and worshippers of sun and fire. The friends of God searched the bodies of the slain for three whole days in order to obtain booty ... The booty amounted in gold and silver, rubies and pearls, nearly to three hundred thousand dirhams, and the number of prisoners may be conceived from the fact that each was sold from two to ten dirhams. These were afterwards taken to Ghazna, and merchants came from distant cities to purchase them, so that the countries Mawaraun-Nahr, Iraq and Khurasan were filled with them, and the fair and the dark, the rich and the poor, were commingled in one common slavery 11.
Muslim conquerers, from Qasim to Mahmud, Muhammad Ghuri, Firuz Shah, Timur, Akbar the Great, Aurangzeb and others, utterly devestated India's Hindu and Buddhist cultural heritage. The great wealth of India has led many apologists to claim that the Hindu conquests were not religious in nature, but, the fact that the acquisition of war spoils is a core tenet of the Islamic faith not withstanding, the religious motives behind the Islamic conquests of India were often well documented by their undertakers. Timur (Tamerlane), who had a particular disdain for his Hindu enemies and wrought unparalleled devestation upon them, spoke of his motivations for invading India in his memoirs 12:
About this time there arose in my heart the desire to lead an expedition against the infidels, and to become a ghazi; for it had reached my ears that the slayer of infidels is a ghazi, and if he is slain he becomes a martyr. It was on this account that I formed my resolution, but I was undetermined in my mind whether I should direct my expedition against the infidels of China or against the infidels and polytheists of India. In this matter I sought an omen from the Koran, and the verse I opened upon was this, "O Prophet, make war upon infidels and unbelievers, and treat them with severity." [Q66.9] My great officers told me that the inhabitants of Hindustan were infidels and unbelievers. In obedience to the order of Almighty Allah I ordered an expedition against them...
The Prince Muhammad Sultan then commented that, not only is India full of gold and jewels, and in it there are seventeen mines of gold and silver, diamond and ruby and emerald and tin and steel and copper and quicksilver, etc., but its inhabitants are chiefly polytheists and infidels and idolators and worshippers of the sun, and as such, by the order of Allah and his prophet, it is right for us to conquer them. After some of the nobles and amirs expressed dismay that, by conquering and establishing a foothold in India, their culture will be dilluted and polluted by the Hindus, Timur said,
My object in the invasion of Hindustan is to lead an expedition against the infidels that, according to Muhammad (upon whom and his family be the blessing and peace of Allah), we may convert to the true faith the people of that country, purify the land itself from the filth of infidelity and polytheism; and that we may overthrow their temples and idols and become ghazis and mujahids before Allah.
Timur informed the Hindus that he would exterminate them to a man unless they consented to submit unconditionally and become Muslims and repeat the creed. Many did not submit, and, at Ajodhan,
all the people of the fort were put to the sword, and in the course of one hour the heads of ten thousand infidels were cut off. The sword of Islam was washed in the blood of the infidels and [the treasures of the land] became the spoil of my soldiers. They set fire to houses and reduced them to ashes, and they razed the buildings and the fort to the ground.
Not content with the slaughter, Timur led his armies into the wild to dispatch those who had fled, where he slayed the demon-like Jats [Hindus] ... made their wives and children captives, and plundered their cattle and property. Prisoners of war, over 100,000 held at Jahun-numa alone, were dispatched to hell with the proselyting sword. At Delhi, his troops engaged in slaying, plundering, and destroying ... the spoil was so great that each man secured from fifty to a hundred prisoners - men, women and children.
According to Srivastava, Timur
left [India] prostrate and bleeding ... so thoroughly ravaged, plundered and even burnt that it took [the northwestern provinces] many years, indeed, to recover their prosperity. [Hundreds of thousands] of men, and in some cases, many women and children, too, were butchered in cold blood 13.
Thus, archeological evidence shows that thousands of mosques in the former Hindu empire are built on the foundations of, and, in many cases, from the debris of, demolished Hindu temples. Idols were smashed or mutilated and trampled on before Muslim places of worship, or, if they contained precious metals, were melted down and re-used. Some were turned into toilet seats or handed over to butchers to be used as weights. Sacred Hindu texts were defiled or burnt, and cows were slaughtered upon the temple sites so that Hindus could never use them again.
The magnitude of Muslim attrocities in India is so great that I grossly understimate their scope simply by attempting to describe them, especially within the scope of this short essay. By the sword of Islam, an entire civilization was destroyed and the number of dead easily number in the many tens of millions over several hundred years 14. The value of the booty - jewels and unbored pearls and rubies, shining like sparks or like wine congealed with ice, and emeralds like fresh sprigs of myrtle, and diamonds in size and weight like pomegranates 15 - can never be measured. According to Durant, As a result of [this] fanaticism, thousands of temples which had represented the art of India through a millennium were laid in ruins. We can never know, from looking at India today, what grandeur and beauty she once possessed. India before Islam was one of the most advanced civilizations of all time.
 Chachnama; pg. 74  Ibid.; pp. 96-97  Qur'an 47.4. The conclusion of the verse reads, "till you have killed and wounded many of them, then bind a bond firmly. Thereafter (is the time) either for generosity, or ransom, until the war lays down its burden. Thus you are ordered by All‚h. But if it had been All‚h's Will, He Himself could certainly have punished them (without you). But (He lets you fight), in order to test you, some with others. But those who are killed in the Way of All‚h, He will never let their deeds be lost."  Chachnama; pg. 140  Ibid; pg. 139  K.S. Lal, Muslims Invade India; as quoted in Legacy of Jihad (Edited by Andrew Bostom); pg 438  Ibid.; pg. 439  V.A. Smith, The Oxford History of India; pg. 207  H.M. Elliot and John Dowson, The History of India as Told by Its Own Historians: The Muhammadan Period; as quoted in Legacy Of Jihad; pg. 631  Sita Ram Goel, The Story of Islamic Imperialism in India; pp. 45-46  H.M. Elliot and John Dowson, The History of India as Told by Its Own Historians: The Muhammadan Period; as quoted in Legacy Of Jihad; pg. 632  Ibid; pp. 645-648  Andrew Bostom, Killing from Qur'anic Piety: Tamerlane's Living Legacy; American Thinker  The reknowned Indian historian K.S. Lal estimates that the Hindu population of India decreased by at least 80 million between 1000 C.E. (the year of Mahmud's first expedition into India) and 1525 C.E. (the time of the Moghul conquests); the Arab conquests began several hundred years earlier  V.A. Smith, The Oxford History of India; pg. 207
Click to view image: '49849-hindu.jpg'
|Liveleak on Facebook|