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Raja Dahir

G.M. Syed
Translation of the first chapter of Ghulam Murtaza Syed, "Warrior Heros of
Sindh" ('Sindh ja Suuriya'), 1964.

The translation from the original Sindhi monograph is by Gul Agha.

1. Prologue

Sindh is one of the world’s most ancient civilized and organized countries. As the
nature of the such things, it has seen many a rise and fall. The signs of its ancient
glory are still to be found in the relics of Amri, Kot Diji and Moenjodaro.

For some of its history, Sindh has been ruled by natives, and for some of its
history, it has seen hardship colonized by aliens. It has not yet been possible
to properly research Sindh’s pre-historic days but its recent history begins with
Rai Sahasi and Chuch dynasties. The Chuch Dynasty is also called the Brahman
Dynasty. Its last ruler was Raja Dahir, the younger son of Chuch. Raja Chuch
died in 682 A.D. After him, Raja Chandur became King of Sindh and remained on
the throne for eight years. Raja Chandur was followed by Raja Dahir whose very
wise, courageous and principled rule lasted 32 years. Raja Dahir’s reign ended
with the take-over of Sindh by Muhammad bin Kasim’s son of Hajjaj Bin Yousuf
Sagfi’s, who was a commander of the imperialist Arab Banu Umaya’s army — and
Sindh became a part of a foreign empire.

Within one year of assuming power, Raja Dahir had taken steps to consolidate
his kingdom on all sides. The capitol of his kingdom was Alor. From there, he
marched eastward and put his brother in-charge of a province with its centre at
Brahmanabad. He then marched to Makran, where he made an alliance with the
local ruler. His kingdom extended to Multan in the North. Dahir’s government was
strong and his kingdom was peaceful.

2. The Nature of the Conquerors

At that time, Bani Umaya dynasty ruled Arabia. A member of that dynasty, Yazid
son of Mauvia, not only martyred the saintly Imam Hussain, grandson of the

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prophet, but ordered his dead body torn apart by horses and for months, had his
hallowed scalp carried on a lance through the streets of the Arab kingdom. The
son and family of Imam Hussain was imprisoned and brought to Damascus. A
member of that family, Abdullah bin Zubair was murdered in the sanctity of Kaaba
(Mecca). These are but a few examples of the cruelty perpetuated by this ruling
family.

In the days of Raja Dahir, a member of the Bani Umaya dynasty, Abdul Malik
son of Marvan, was the ruler of Arabia. His Commander, Hajjaj Bin Yousuf Sagfi
was a very brutal, murderous tyrant, who had been very cruel in his treatment of
the descendents of the Prophet and murdered many Muslims. There is plenty of
historic documentation which informs us about these deeds.

After brutally suppressing the local revolt that followed the martyrdom of Imam
Hussain [grandson of the Prophet], the dominion of Bani Umaya extended to all
of Arabia and they attacked all their neighbors to extend their kingdom.

3. Arabian Penninsula before the Prophet

A large part of the Arabian peninsula is a desert, besides the two major cities of
Mecca and Medina, its inhabitants live a nomadic life. Its tribes used to often go to
war with each other; thus militancy was part of their temperament. Its inhabitants,
for the most part, were followers of ancient tribal religions whose idols were kept
in the Kaaba, though some of them were Jews and Christians. To procure goods,
Arab traders traveled to Syria and Iraq in caravans.

Before the birth of the Prophet (peace be upon him), some Arabs enlisted in the
armies of Rome and Persia. The bulk of their livelihood, though, was through
shepherding herds. They passed their lives in considerable poverty. After the
Great Prophet, they were united in the name of a new religion under one central
government. This greatly increased their strength and courage.

4. What Followed the Death of the Prophet

The prophet-hood of the Kind Prophet had two goals:

• First, to encourage intellectual, spiritual and moral righteousness.


• Second, to promote peace and provide for the betterment of the socio-political
conditions in the country.

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Both goals were well met during the life of the Prophet of God. But after his passing
away, his followers split into two groups. One wanted to emphasize the first goal.

Others believed that the Arabs still suffered from a bad character, tribal conflicts,
old customs and manners which had not been completely reformed. For the first
time in history, they have united under a central government. Therefore, this group
wanted to emphasize the second goal. The first group was futuristic, the second
was present centered. The future depends on the present, thus the second group
prevailed.

The Arabs were poor; to unite them and divert their attention from tribal conflicts,
the people with the second viewpoint found it necessary to invade neighboring
rich and urban countries and gain their wealth to improve the lot of the locals.

The new religion had united them and fired up their zeal, besides which the
thought of gaining the wealth of other nations created a greedy desire of conquest.
In the days of Hazrat Umar [the third Caliph of (Arab) Muslims], the rich and
content neighboring countries of Syria, Iraq and Egypt were conquered.

On the one hand, this brought great wealth to the poverty stricken Arabs, and on
the other, it increased their military power and national pride. In the days of the
first two Caliphs, there was some attempt to maintain the standards of decency
and traditions of the Prophet, but this created such a reaction in the country that
one of these Caliphs was assassinated.

5. The Banu Umaya Empire

If wealth, property and other goods make life easier, they also create some
personality defects. The result was that after the martyrdom of Hazrat Ali (with
whom may God be pleased), factional warfare broke out among tribalist and
power-hungry Arabs. Finally, the Bani Umaya household forcefully crushed the
other contenders and became all-powerful.

Says Shaikh Sadi (with whom may God be pleased) [Persian sufi poet]:

Having conquered seven countries


The greed of kings is not reduced
If the saintly ones get but half a loaf
They eat half again and spare the rest for others

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Tribal warfare was sharply reduced in the days of Abdul Malik. After having
controlled internal turmoil, he made plans to expand the Banu Umaya empire.
They took the name of Islam but their intent was to loot and plunder the wealth
of others. Some Islamic historians hold that after the Prophet, there has been no
Islamic government, but some others hold that a little attention to his teachings
was paid during the first four Caliphs. In any event, afterwards the governments
were not Islamic, but in reality were in the hands of Sultans who ruled for their
personal, tribal and factional advantage.

During the time of Abdul Malik, the rule was for the benefit of this sort. Historians
know that the tyranny and massacres committed by Commander Hajjaj bin Yousuf
is of such magnitude that Satan himself would be ashamed to lay claim to it, let
alone Muslims. Perhaps one example would be sufficient to illustrate this. Once
thousands of people had gathered to pray at the Grand Mosque of Kufa, and
the religious scholars, saints, and descendants of the Prophet were among them.
While giving a sermon there, Hajjaj bin Yousuf declared "Today, seeing the fruit is
ripe, I wish to pluck it." Then he proceeded to order the massacre of those present,
resulting in the slaughter of thousands of Muslims.

At his death, a hundred thousand prisoners languished in pathetic conditions.

Moreover, another example of his tyranny is that without just cause, he attacked
other free countries to loot their wealth, enslave their citizens and turn their women
into concubines. He then declared the sale of these humans as the glorious deed
of Islam!

In the days of this king, his forces were sent in three different directions to conquer
different countries. One was sent to the West under the command of Musa Ashri
which made conquests till Spain. To the North, armies were dispatched under the
command of Qutiba bin Muslim, and these captured Samarkand and Bukhara.
Towards the east, Hajjaj son of Yousuf sent an army under the command of his
son-in-law Mohammed son of Qasim. Before this attempt, they had made fourteen
unsuccessful attempts to conquer Sindh.

6. Victory of Islam?

Raja Dahir fought with great courage against the army of Mohammed bin Qasim’s
in order to defend Sindh’s territory and honor but the Raja was killed and the

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country captured by the Arab. The conquest netted the Arabs millions worth of
property and thousands of Sindhi men and women were taken and sold in slavery.

Now the question arises: should the conquest of Arabs be called fair and a
victory for Islam, or should it be considered the expansionism of Arab Kings with
imperialist ambitions who were engaged in un-Islamic greedy subjugation of other
nations? To gain a perspective on this question, it is necessary that we understand
the viewpoints of two different groups of Muslims.

The first group believes that the purpose of Islam was to eliminate the barriers in
the name of creed, caste, race, nation, and color and to promote unity of humanity,
peace, progress and prosperity. It is the natural religion which all prophets have
propagated from the beginning of civilization. It was not a new religion but,
according to it, behind the manifest differences of different religions, the same
foundation of unity exists. Contentiousness, hatred, division, self-centeredness
are obstacles in its path. Compulsion in the matter of religion is unjust. The
Prophet of God is a mercy for ALL humanity. His goal was to free the slaves, end
looting, and establish peace and justice on earth — i.e., definitely not to do those
things which others did after him: to colonize other countries in the name of Islam,
loot and plunder, and enslave free people.

The second group claims Islam is a new, complete, universal religion and after
its coming all other religions are "defunct" and the new pillars of religion are
proclaiming unity of God, ritual prayer, pilgrimage, ritual fasting, and charity to
Muslims. To impose this religious code of conduct by force, which they term
'Jihad' (Crusade), they consider causing bloodshed, conquering other countries,
looting and plundering, enslaving men and women and selling them like cattle,
etc., fair conduct.

Looking at the beliefs and conduct of the second of these two ideologies, non-
Muslim scholars and historians have called Islam the religion of dacoits, thieves,
and hedonists. They say that people converted to it through the force of the sword,
otherwise what would attract someone to follow such a religion? To remove such
misconceptions, Muslim scholars and saints have shown that the true Islam is
the one shown by the first group. In recent times, this group is represented by Sir
Syed Ahmad Khan and Khwaja Kamaluddin, whose rejoinders are worth reading.
They claim that (true) Islam did not spread through weapons and violence but
through the battle for the heart and its principles. The aggression of Muslim rulers

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towards other countries, loot and plunder, and other oppression have no relation
to Islam. The Mullah’s interpretation of Islam is not correct.

To this day, Muslims are divided in these two ideological groups. Of these, one
is called the Mullahs' group and the other Saints' group. We are followers of the
Saints, therefore, we do not consider the "accomplishments" of Mohammed bin
Qasim as bearing any relation to Islam; nor do we consider him a veteran of Islam,
nor a flag bearer of Islam; instead we consider him a tyrant, a destroyer of Sindh’s
freedom, honor, wealth and a looter. We consider him a member of a mafia which
not only sold Sindhi men and women as slaves, looted the country, but in fact
were enemies of the prophet’s descendants, pleasure seeking hedonist, enemies
of the fundamental principles of Islam, and murderers of Muslims.

7. Love of One’s Country

We consider the great Prophet as the grace of ALL humankind, and his two quotes
still ring in our ears: - "Love of one’s country is a part of one’s faith." - There is a
pleasant breeze from the direction of Sindh.

Knowing this, is it possible that we would believe the love of Sindh is fair, but yet
consider foreign dominion of it and the cruelty inflicted by foreigners as fair!

We are of the opinion that it is incumbent on all to love their country: one who is
not patriotic has no faith, and without faith, one cannot be a true Muslim.

Sindh has been a center of civilization and culture for 5,000 years. At the time of
the great Prophet, there was not a single Muslim in Sindh, but the people were
Hindus and Buddhists — then his expression that he felt a pleasant breeze from
there must have some significance.

Under these circumstances, how can we consider the forcible end to that country’s
independence, forcing its people to be slaves, and looting its vast wealth, fair and
just according to true Islam? If some folks consider such actions to be Islamic,
they are entitled to their personal opinion; everyone is entitled to their personal
opinion. After all, there are still some people who consider Imam Hussain (may
God be pleased with him) [grandson of the Prophet] unjust and Yazid (the king
who ordered his assassination) righteous. They consider every action of Yazid
and his household Islamic. This groups includes not only the theologians of that
time but many of the present time.

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They should have every right to have such an opinion and we want to respect
their rights. But we consider the invasion of Muhammad bin Qasim against the
principles of Islam and tyrannical. There are still thousands of people in Sindh
who find it no embarrassment to call themselves Dahiri’s. The great Sindhi scholar
and elder, Maulana Abul Hassan found nothing wrong in calling himself Dahiri.
We have no objection if the partisans of Muhammad bin Qasim call themselves
Yazidis.

Humans are created from a speck which grows as tissue. Tissue (in human
or nonhuman animals) is formed by ingesting food. Food is made from grains,
vegetables or meat. All these are directly or indirectly the products of soil and
water. Observe, for example, that one seed produces thousands of seeds, which
are nourished by soil and water. Thus everything is the product of the soil and
water of one’s country.

This is the real parentage of every person. The Holy Quran also states: "Verily,
We have created every human from a speck of dust." From this point of view, the
one who is not loyal to their country is not a worthy child. Keeping this in mind, I do
not hesitate to call Raja Dahir the premier martyr who sacrificed his life defending
the independance, honor, and dignity of Sindh.

Let the Yazidis feel offended by my characterization. Imam Hussain, grandson


of the Prophet, could not escape the enmity of such people and I am but a little
speck of dust at his door.

8. The Character of Raja Dahir

Some people make slanderous accusations about Raja Dahir in order to provide
a justification for the bad deeds of their heros. Let us examine some of these few
accusations, the principal ones are as follow:

1. He married his sister


2. He imprisoned and robbed some Arab people.
3. He abused Buddhists and non-Brahmins.
4. He was a hedonist and a tyrant.

Observe that it is the work of every group that the victor to slander the vanquished
party, to defame them and thus provide a justification even if their behavior is

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unjust and evil.. many such examples exist in history. History has often been
written by those in the pay of the victors.

[four examples of victors' version of rewriting history skipped]

Let us carefully examine each of the allegations against Raja Dahir in turn.

1. Forget sisters, Hindu Brahmins consider marrying their cousins improper.


So the accusation that he married his sister appears to be fallacious. The
evidence offered for this accusation is that he refused to give his sister’s hand
to some petty chieftain. But everyone knows that Hindus were separated by
caste and status. Thus if he refused to allow his sister’s wedding to someone
of a lower caste, is it reasonable to say that he done so to marry his own
sister? It is an ill-intentioned bald lie.
2. The second allegation against him that has been spread is that he had some
gifts pirated that the Arab ruler was sending to the King of Ceylon and the
Arab sailors arrested. There is also no evidence offered here either — that
Raja Dahir did such a deed. There were was plenty of piracy in those
days. It is entirely possible that some pirates did this, but what possible
advantage could a great king like Raja Dahir derive from such petty piracy?
To make this a pretext for an invasion is entirely fraudulent and slanderous.
History states that even before the successful conquest of Sindh, the Arabs
attacked 14 times — what was their justification for these? Is it that the
attacks on Samarkand, Bukhara, Morocco, Spain also to get compensated
for something? One cannot hide the true facts of history. It is clear that the
Arab rulers, like all imperialist powers, had the goal of colonizing other nations.
If we regard Roman, Mongolian, British and French imperialists wrong and
tyrannical, how then can we call similar action by Arabs fair, and not merely
fair but in the glory of Islam? Does the respect for Islam increase by such
actions or is it slandered?
3. The third allegation that is made against him is that he was cruel towards
Buddhists and other non-Hindus — but we can’t find evidence of this either.
It is a historical fact that when Raja Chandersen, brother of Raja Chuch,
reigned, he encouraged Buddhism. He gave special concessions to Buddhists
bhikshus and monks. It is also no secret that the Brahmins can be religiously
bigoted even more than Mullahs. Their actions eliminated Buddhism in much
of India. But Sindh was that country where Buddhism flourished. Their

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presence is a testament to the liberalness of Raja Dahir. During his reign,


two governors were Buddhists. Not only that, but a Arab Muslim Mohammed
Alafi and his whole tribe, who were fleeing persecution of Banu Umayas, was
granted asylum by Raja Dahir. Raja Dahir was so generous with them that
they were permitted to stamp coins which bore Alafi’s name on one face.
Examples of such generosity are rare indeed in history. Accusing such a
generous minded king of being prejudiced, made as it is by people whose own
history is a testament to narrow-mindedness and bigotry, is nothing short of
malicious.
4. The fourth charge laid against Raja Dahir is that he was hedonistic and cruel.
Heaven knows what the intent of the slanderers is in using such terms. Who is
the real criminal? The ones who sent two daughters of the Raja as a "gift", the
adulterer who married their mother forcibly, those who considered it proper to
make Sindhi women slaves and have illicit relations with them — such rapists,
the ones who sold thousands of Sindhis into slavery; or the one who gave his
life defending his country?

9. Epilogue

In 712 A.D., Raja Dahir was martyred fighting for the cause of Sindh. Every true
Sindhi should admire his sacrifice and accomplishment. I will consider him the
first among the among the circle of those who laid down their life for Sindh. After
him, Sindh was under the tutelage of aliens for 340 years, until the Sindhi clan of
Soomra’s restored a purely Sindhi government once more.

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