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Punjab History - Muslim Conquest

The Mahomedan invasions of India commenced in the seventh century of the Christian era, and the first storms broke upon the country east of the Indus. The date of AD 685 is that of the earliest invasion of Rajpootana by the Moslems. In the reign of Walid (AD 705 to 715), Sinde was invaded, and that caliph is said to have rendered all India to the Ganges tributary to him. In AD 718, Mahomed-bin-Kasim, the general of Omar, vanquished and slew the prince of Sinde, and conquered that country. The great kingdom of Arore was occupied by the Caliph Al-Mansoor (AD 754 to 775), who changed the name of its capital to Mansoora.

When Multan was captured by Muhammad Kasim Sakifi in AD 714, there was a temple of the Sun god with an idol, called Malisthan, resorted to by the people of Sindh, who presented rich offerings to it. The temple was in the centre of the city, the idol being seated on a throne of brick and mortar, but covered with red leather. Its eyes of precious gems were alone visible, and its head was covered with a crown of gold. Great treasure was found under it; but the idol was allowed to remain for the sake of the revenue derived from the pilgrims. The creed of Islam was at the same time forced on the people, and a mosque erected out of the proceeds of the spoil. The Muhammadans destroyed the idol about AD 976.

The celebrated Harun-al-Rashid (AD 786 to 809), in apportioning his immense empire amongst his sons, included in the share given to Al-Mamoon, the second son, Sinde and Hindustan. In 833, this prince, then caliph, entered Western India from Zabulisthan, but the Mahomedans do not appear to have obtained a footing in the country till nearly two centuries later, and in 850 Sinde was the only province of India left to Motawakel, the grandson of Harun.

After Subektegin, the governor of KhoMan, had declared himself independent at Ghuzni, in AD 975, he carried his arms across the Indus, forcibly converting the natives to Islamism. These inroads were repeated, and in the last (AD 997), he was accompanied by his son, the celebrated Mahmud, who became, upon his succession to the throne of Ghuzni, the scourge of India. Twelve several invasions of that country by him are recorded, in which the bigotry and rapacity of the Mahomedans left durable traces of their inroads, in the sack and destruction of cities, the desecration and plunder of temples, and the slaughter or impoverishment of the people.

The notices which the Musulman historians give of the political condition of the Punjab show that it was still divided into separate states. The Sindsagur doab, between the Indus and the Jelum, was the seat of a kingdom founded by the Keechi tribe of Rajpoots, the northern Chohans, whose ruler was expelled by Mahomed-bin-Kasim. The Jit king of Salpoora, in the Punjab, was driven across the Sutluj by a Musulman leader named Ferid, and a kingdom of Lahore is frequently mentioned by Ferishta, of which the city so named was the capital, and which extended to Multan.

For a century and a half the Arabs held doubtful sway in Multan and Sindh, and the authority of the Khaliphs, which was then on the decline, finally ended about AD 871, when Multan became the capital of one of the two independent and flourishing kingdoms established in Sindh; the other being Mansura, near the now ruined city of Brahmanabad, about forty-seven miles north-east of Haidarabad. The Amir of Multan, about AD 915, is described as an Arab of the noble house of Khoraish, named Abu-1Dalhat-al-Munabha, a powerful monarch with a paid army, his territory including Kanauj as a province, extending in one direction to the frontier of Khorasan, and in the other to Alor, which was the boundary of the Mansura kingdom. Multan is said to have been at that time surrounded by 120,000 hamlets. The Temple of the Sun was still an important source of revenue from the pilgrims, who flocked to it from all parts; and it had also a political significance, for a threat to injure the idol was sufficient to make the neighbouring princes refrain from hostilities.

The independence of Multan was lost about AD 978, when Hamid Khan, an Afghan of the Lodi family, under the Ghazni dynasty, was appointed governor of the province, the kingdoms of Multan and Mansura having both fallen in the Ghazni invasion of India. Sindh was captured by the famous Mahmud of Ghazni, who founded an empire in 1026. For a short time the Multan governor owed allegiance to Mahmud, son of Sabuktagin, the Ghazni conqueror of Lahore, who defeated Anang Pal, Raja of Lahore. Mahmud's descendants did not retain possession of the entire kingdom.

The first invasion of Mahmud, AD 1000, extended eastward as far as the Bari doab, and alarmed the king of Lahore, named Jeipal, a Bramin, who had formed an alliance with some of the Afghan tribes beyond the Indus, whither the arms of the Lahore prince had penetrated. His authority, according to Ferishta, was not much inferior to that of the late Runjeet Singh, for he is said to have ruled from Sirhind to Limgham, and from Cashmere to Multan. Various conflicts took place between this powerful prince and the Mahomedans; in the end, the latter were successful, and Jeipal was made a tributary to the Sultan. The next invasions took place in 1004 and 1005, when the king of Multan revolted, and was joined by the king of Lahore. The latter was conquered, and fled to Cashmere. In a subsequent year, Mahmud again expelled the king of Lahore from his dominions and overran Cashmere. From this country, in 1018, he burst with a large army upon Upper India, and took Canouj, Muttra, and Agra. In his later expeditions he captured the city of Lahore, which he gave up to pillage, and after having destroyed the celebrated temple of Somnat, in Guzerat, his last exploit was the punishment of the Jits or Jats of Multan, who made a desperate resistance, not only on land, but with a fleet of boats upon the Indus.

The son and successor of Mahmud maintained such a degree of authority as could be exercised over a remote territory, in the Punjab; but the Turks, under the Seljuk princes, gradually curtailed the power of the Ghaznivide Sultans, who, in 1049, possessed only Afghanistan and some provinces of India beyond the Jelum. In this state of things, the princes of the Punjab endeavoured to recover their independence; but Ibrahim, a vigorous prince, making a cession to the Seljukians of the territories they had taken from his family, directed his whole attention to India, and in 1080, reduced many parts; and his successor, Musaud, made Lahore the principal seat of his government. A subsequent sultan of this dynasty, Khosru, withdrew entirely from his Afghan territory, now usurped by the Gaurian princes, and made Lahore the capital of his Indian possessions. Under his successor, the Gaurian prince Mahomed invaded India, overran Multan and the provinces on both sides, the Indus, penetrating as far as Lahore, overthrew the Ghaznevide dynasty reigning there, and, in 1184, substituted his own.

Mahomed of Gaur, or Ghor, leaving the government of his Indian provinces to a viceroy, returned to his capital of Ghuzni; but his absence gave the princes of India an opportunity to form a powerful combination against his authority, and when, in 1190, he returned with a formidable army of Turks, Persians, and Afghans, he encountered a force consisting of 300,000 horse, and a great body of infantry, headed by no less than 150 rajas, in Ajmer. This unwieldy army was overthrown by the Moslems. Mahomed left his general, Kutb-ud-deen, to complete the conquest of India, and in 1192, Delhi, Benares, and the whole country to the confines of Bengal, submitted to him. Ruth was declared governor of India, and he established the authority of his master in the south-western provinces. In an insurrection of the Ghikers, or Gakkars, a tribe of Hindus, who attempted to recover their independence, and actually marched towards Lahore, Mahomed was murdered in his tent. As he left no family, Kutb became sovereign of India, and added Bengal and Bahar to his dominions. Upon his death, in 1210, his ill-compacted empire fell to pieces, but the fragments were re-united by Shams-ud-deen Altumsh, who extended his authority from the Ganges to the Indus.

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Page last modified: 13-09-2012 19:15:52 ZULU