It is stated that the Arabs were provoked to undertake the conquest of Sindh in 711 A.D. various reasons have been given for that. One view is that King of Ceylon was sending to Hajjaj, the Viceroy of the Eastern Provinces of the Khalifa, orphan daughters of the Muslim merchants who had died in his dominions and his vessels were attacked and plundered by pirates off the coast of Sindh.

According to another account, the King of Ceylon had himself embraced Islam and was sending troops and valuable gifts to’ the Khalifa and those were plundered off the coast of Sindh.

According to still another account, the Khalifa had sent agents to India to purchase female slaves and other commodities and those agents, on reaching Debal, the principal sea-port of Dahir, were attacked and plundered by pirates. The Khalifa demanded reparations from Dahir, the Ruler of Sindh, but the latter refused to do so on the ground that the pirates responsible for the plunder were not under his control and consequently he was not responsible for the payment of compensation.

However, the real cause of the Arab invasion of Sindh was the determination of the Arabs to conquer Sindh with the object of spreading Islam and also enriching themselves with plunder. The Arab conquest of Sindh was merely a part of their general aggressive policy which brought under them vast regions in Western Europe, Africa and Europe.


An expedition under Ubaidullah was sent in 711 A.D. but he was himself defeated and killed. Another expedition was sent under Buddai, but that also failed. It was under these circumstances that an expedition was sent in 712 A.D. under Mohammad-bin-Qasim to conquer Sindh.

According to Dr. Ishwari Prasad, “The story of Mohammad-bin-Quasim’s invasion of Sindh is one of the romances of history. His blooming youth, his dash and heroism, his noble department throughout the expeditions and his tragic fall have invested his career with the halo of martyrdom.” Mohammad Quasim started at the head of an army consisting of 6,000 Syrian horses, the flower of the armies of the Caliphs, 6,000 cavalry and a baggage train of 3,000 Bactrian animals.

He had reinforcements from the Governor of Makran. Mohammad Harun brought with him 5 catapults or Balistas which served as medievel artillery. Each catapult was worked by 500 trained men and thus the total of artillery men was 2,500. Abdul Aswad Jahan had been sent in advance to join Mohammad Qausim on the border of Sindh. The army of Mohammad Quasim continued to increase till it was 5^0,000 strong when it marched down to Multan.



From Makran, Mohammad-bin-Quasim proceeded to Debal. On the way, the Jats and Meds joined him against Dahir. It was in the spring of 712 A.D. that he reached the port of Debal and besieged it. A nephew of Dahir was in charge of the town and he offered stiff resistance. It is stated that Brahmanas of Debal prepared a talisman and placed it near the great red flag which flew from the temple. The Arabs were not able to conquer Debal in spite of best efforts.

However, a Brahman deserted Dahir and disclosed the secret of the talisman to the Arabs. The result was that the Arabs made the flagstaff the target and broke the talisman. Once the red flag was pulled down, the people surrendered in despair. There was a great massacre for three days. The Hindus and Buddhists of Debal were given the option to become Muslims and those who refused to do so were murdered or enslaved.

All those who were above 17 were put to the sword. Huge booty-fell into the hands of the Arabs. “700 beautiful females under the protection of Buddha” were among the prize of Mohammad-bin-Quasim. A part of the booty and women were sent to Hajjaj and the rest were distributed among and soldiers. A mosque was constructed in place of the damaged temple.

Mohammad-bin-Quasim wrote thus to Hajjaj. “The nephew of Raja Dahir, his warriors and principal officers has been dispatched, and the infidels converted to Islam or destroyed. Instead of idol-temples, mosques and other places of worship have been created. Khutbah (Friday prayer) is read, the call to prayer is raised, so that devotions are performed at stated hours. The Takbir and praise to the Almighty God are offered every morning and evening.”



From Debal, Mohammad-bin-Quasim advanced to Nerun. It was then in the hands of Buddhist priests and Sramanas. The Buddhists surrendered without a fight. They argued thus: “We are a priestly class; our religion is peace. According to our faith fighting and slaughter are not allowable.”


From Nerun, the Arabs marched on Sehwan which was helcbby a cousin of Dahir named Bajhra. He surrendered after some feeble resistance. No general massacre of the people of Sehwan was ordered.



Mohammad-bin-Quasim ordered a bridge of boats to be constructed in order to cross the Indus. Dahir was taken by surprise and with his men he fell back upon Rawar. It was here that the Arabs met imposing arrays of war elephants and a powerful army thirsting to give battle to the Muslims. Dahir was seated on an elephant. His frightened elephant took him into the river Indus.

Although the king saved himself and continued to fight after mounting a horse, the army thought that they had lost their leader and fled away. Ultimately, Dahir was defeated and killed. Ranibai, the widow of Dahir, put up a heroic defence from the fort of Rawar and her garrison 15,000 strong, rained stones and missiles on the Arabs. When they could not hold out, they saved their honour by performing the ceremony of Jauhar.



From Rawar, Mohammad-bin-Quasim proceeded towards Brahmanabad which was defended by Jai Singh, the son of Dahir. The fighting was bitter. As many as 8,000 or 20,000 persons were killed. When Jai Singh found that further resistance was useless, he retired from Brahmanabad. It was after the fall of Brahmanabad that Mohammad-bin-Quasim captured Rani Ladi, another widow of Dahir and his two daughters Suryadevi and Parmal Devi.


Aror, the capital of Sindh, was held by another son of Dahir. It was stoutly defended for some time. It was in this way that the conquest of Sindh was completed.



Mohammad-bin-Quasim proceeded towards Multan, the main city of the Upper Indus. There was tough resistance everywhere, but in spite of that he appeared before the gates of Multan and captured it through treachery. A deserter told him the stream from which the people got their water- supply and by cutting off the same, Mohammad-bin-Quasim was able to capture Multan. The Arabs got so much of gold that they named Multan as the city of gold.

After capturing Multan, Mohammad-bin-Quasim began to draw a plan of conquering the rest of India. He sent an army of 10,000 horses under Abu Hakim to conquer Kanauj. However, before that could be accomplished, Quasim himself was finished.

Death of Quasim:

There is a difference of opinion with regard to the circumstances which led to the death of Mohammad-bin-Quasim. One view is that Surya Devi and Parmal Devi, the daughters of Dahir were sent to the Khalifa as presents from Quasim. The Khalifa selected Surya Devi for the honour of sharing his bed but she stated that she was not worthy because Quasim had dishonoured her and her sister before sending them to the Khalifa. This annoyed the Khalifa who wrote with his own hand directing that Mohammad-bin-Quasim should suffer himself to be sewn up in a raw hide and thus dispatched to the capital.

When the order reached Mohammad-bin-Quasim, it was at once obeyed. He caused himself to be sewn up in the hide and thus the box containing his body was sent to Damascus. When the box was opened in the presence of Surya Devi and the Khalifa, the Khalifa pointed out to the dead body as evidence of the obedience which he was able to get from his servants.

However, Surya Devi told the Khalifa at that time that her charge against Mohammad-bin-Quasim was false and she had merely invented the story to have revenge against him. The Khalifa was so much annoyed that he ordered both the sisters to be tied to the tails of horses and dragged till they died.

Another view is that there were two rival groups in the court of the Khalifa and one group was opposed to Hajjaj whose cousin and son-in-law was Mohammad-bin-Quasim. The rivals of Hajjaj poisoned the ears of the Khalifa against Quasim and orders were passed to torture him to death.

The work of conquest of Sindh started by Mohammad-bin-Quasim was cut short by his death. The Khalifa also died in 715 A.D. Under his son, Omar II, Jai Singh, the son of Dahir, became a convert to Islam. However, even his conversion did not save him. Junaid, the Governor of Sindh under Khalifa Hisham (724-43 A.D.), invaded his territory and killed him.

In 750 A.D., there was a revolution at Damascus and the Omayyids were replaced by the Abbasids. The control of the Khalifas became more and more loose and the governors and chiefs of Sindh became more and more independent. By 781 A.D., authority of the Khalifa in Sindh became virtually extinct. The Arab chiefs established two independent kingdoms, one on Mansurah or Sindh proper up to Aror on the Indus and the other comprising Multan.