By Manan Ahmed Asif
The query of ways Islam arrived in India continues to be markedly contentious in South Asian politics. commonplace money owed heart at the Umayyad Caliphate’s incursions into Sind and littoral western India within the 8th century CE. during this telling, Muslims have been a overseas presence between local Hindus, sowing the seeds of a mutual animosity that presaged the subcontinent’s partition into Pakistan and India many centuries later.
But in a compelling reexamination of the heritage of Islam in India, Manan Ahmed Asif directs consciousness to a thirteenth-century textual content that tells the tale of Chach, the Brahmin ruler of Sind, and his kingdom’s later conquest by way of the Muslim common Muhammad bin Qasim in 712 CE. The Chachnama has lengthy been a touchstone of Indian background, but it truly is seldom studied in its entirety. Asif bargains an in depth and entire research of this significant textual content, untangling its numerous registers and genres to be able to reconstruct the political imaginative and prescient at its heart.
Asif demanding situations the most tenets of the Chachnama’s interpretation: that it's a translation of an prior Arabic textual content and that it provides a historical past of conquest. Debunking either rules, he demonstrates that the Chachnama used to be initially Persian and, faraway from advancing a story of imperial aggression, is a sophisticated and complicated paintings of political concept, one embedded in either the Indic and Islamic ethos. This social and highbrow heritage of the Chachnama is a vital corrective to the divisions among Muslim and Hindu that so usually outline Pakistani and Indian politics this present day.
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Extra info for A Book of Conquest: The Chachnama and Muslim Origins in South Asia
It contained settlements, trading connections, and ports that predated the birth of Islam, and these connections continued after the rise of Muslim political power in the region. The region of Sind, as an adjacent geography, faced military campaigns from the Muslim polity based in Medina, and later those in Damascus and Baghdad. The various military campaigns, expeditions, and settlements must also be properly contextualized to provide a fuller picture of the eighth-century history invoked by Chachnama.
This work attempts to untangle such representations. It is thus important to re-think geography for Muslim history in India. It is important to underline the interconnected nature of the city states in northwest and southwest India. They must be seen as dynamic lived spaces connected to other city states in Afghanistan or Central Asia and not merely as nodes in a military conquest. It is imperative to resist a distillation of experience into military events, for it forecloses meaning in the texts that emerged from these lived spaces.
The first is the prominence given to the Umayyad governor Hajjaj. Baladhuri, as an 'Abbasid court scribe could be attempting to critically highlight the policies of the earlier Umayyad regime. Second, we must-consider the full import of the reasons behind Muhammad bin Qasim's campaign in Sind. It is clear from Baladhuri that the nascent empire had an acute need to subdue a frontier territory that provided safe harbor to Umayyad enemies and rebels. Baladhuri's account is peppered with many names of 'Alawis and Kharajites, evidencing their numbers.