UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Early Muslim Conquests - 711-1527

At the very time that Buddhism was being crushed out of India by the Brahmanic reaction, a new faith was being born in Arabia, destined to supply a youthful fanaticism which should sweep the country from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin, and from the western to the eastern sea. Muhammad, also known as Mahomet, the founder of Islam, died at Medina in 632 AD. The first Mahometan invasion of India is placed in 664, only thirty-two years after the death of the prophet. The Punjab is said to have been ravaged on this occasion with no permanent results.

The first Mahometan conquest was the outlying province of Sind, which from the point of view of geology may be regarded as a continuation of the desert of Baluchistan. In 711, or seventy-nine years after the death of Mahomet, an Arab army under Muhammad Kasim invaded and conquered the Hindus of Sind in the name of Walid I, caliph of Damascus, of the Bene-Umyyeh line. The Arabs might have made a permanent settlement in Sindh but for the death and disgrace of the valiant Kasim. In an evil hour he presented to the Caliph Walid, as an offering to the harem, a beautiful daughter of the Indian Raja, who falsely accused him of having dishonoured her, a charge the falsehood of which the Commander of the Faithful learnt too late from her own lips, when the corpse of the brave general was received at Damascus sewn up in a raw hide.

In the same year Roderic, the last of the Goths, fell before the victorious Saracens in Spain. But in India the bravery of the Rajputs and the devotion of the Brahmans seem to have afforded a stronger national bulwark than existed in western Europe. In 750 the Hindus rose in rebellion and drove out the Musalman tyrant, and the land had rest for 150 years.

The next Mahometan invasion of India is associated with the name of Sultan Mahmud of Ghaznf. Mahmud was the eldest son of Sabuktagfn, surnamed Nasr-uddin, in origin a Turkish slave, who had established his rule over the greater part of modern Afghanistan and Khorasan with Ghazni as his capital. In 977 Sabuktagin is said to have defeated Jaipal, the Hindu rajah of Lahore, and to have rendered the Punjab tributary. Bat his son Mahmud was the first of the great Musalman conquerors whose names still ring through Asia. Mahniud succeeded to the throne in 997. During his reign of thirty-three years he extended the limits of his father's kingdom from Persia on the east to the Ganges on the west; and it is related that he led his armies into the plains of India no less than seventeen times. In 1001 he defeated Rajah Jaipal a second time, and took him prisoner. But Anandpal, the son of Jaipal, raised again the standard of national independence, and gathered an army of Rajput allies from the farthest corners of Hindustan. The decisive battle was fought in the valley of Peshawar. Mahmud won the day by the aid of his Turkish horsemen, and thenceforth the Punjab has been a Mahometan province, except during the brief period of Sfkh supremacy.

The Afghans of Ghor or Ghur rose to power on the downfall of the Turks of Ghazni. The founder of the family is said to have been Izzud-din al Husain, whose son Allah-ud-dm destroyed Ghaznf. Allah-ud-din had two nephews, Ghfyas-ud-din and Muiz-ud-din, the latter of whom, also called Shahab-ud-dfn by Musalman chroniclers, and generally known in history as Muhammad Ghori, is the second of the great Mahometan conquerors of India. In 1176 he took Multan and Uchch; in 1187 Lahore fell into his hands; in 1191 he was repulsed before Delhi, but soon afterward he redeemed this disaster.

Hindustan Proper was at that period divided between the two Rajput kingdoms of Kanauj and Delhi. Muhammad Ghori achieved his object by playing off the rival kings against each other. By 1193 he had extended his conquests as far east as Benares, and the defeated Rajputs migrated in a body to the hills and deserts now known as Rajputana. In 1199 one of his lieutenants, named Bakntiyar, advanced into Bengal, and expelled by an audacious stratagem the last Hindu rajah of Nadiya. The entire northern plain, from the Indus to the Brahmaputra, thus lay under the Mahometan yoke. But Muhammad Ghori never settled himself permanently in India. His favorite residence is said to have been the old capital of Ghazni, while he governed his Indian conquests through the agency of a favorite slave, Kutab-ud-dfn. Muhammad Ghori died in 1206, being assassinated by some Ghakkar tribesmen while sleeping in his tent by the bank of the Indus; on his death both Ghor and Ghaznf drop out of history, and Delhi first appears as the Mahometan capital of India.

On the death of Muhammad Ghori, Ktitab-ud-dln at once laid aside the title of viceroy, and proclaimed himself sultan of Delhi. He was the founder of what is known as the slave dynasty, which lasted for nearly a century (1206-1288).

In 1294 Allah-ud-din Khilji, the third of the great Mahometan conquerors of India, raised himself to the throne of Delhi by the treacherous assassination of his uncle Kiroz II, who had himself supplanted the last of the slave dynasty. Allah-ud-din died in 1316, having subjected to Islam the Deccan and Guzerat. Three of his descendants followed him upon the throne, but their united reigns extended over only five years. In 1321 a successful revolt was headed by Ghivas-ud-din Tughlak, governor of the Punjab, who is said to have been of Turkish origin. The Tughlak dynasty lasted for about seventy years, until it was swept away by the invasion of Timur.

Timur, the fourth Mahometan conqueror of India, is commonly described as a Mongul or Mughal, because he claimed to be the representative of Ghengiz Khan and because he revived the Tartar Empire. When Timur invaded India in 1398, he encountered but little organized resistance. Mahmud, the last of the Tughlak dynasty, being defeated in a battle outside the walls of Delhi, fled into Guzerat. The city was sacked and the inhabitants massacred by the victorious Mughals. But the invasion of Timiir left no permanent impress upon the history of India, except in so far as its memory fired the imagination of Babar (Baber), the founder of the Mughal dynasty. In 1525 Babar (Baber), the fifth in descent from Timur, and also the fifth Mahometan conqueror, invaded India at the instigation of the governor of the Punjab, won the victory of Panipat over Ibrahim, the last of the Lodi dynasty, and founded the Mughal empire, which lasted, at least in name, until 1857.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list