Arab conquest of Sind was of great significance and impact, politically, socio-culturally, religiously, intellectually and even economically. Though the Arabs were not the actual conquerors of India, they were the path finders and torch bearers. The conquest was a great give and take. Historians attach little importance to Arab rule in Sind, but though the visible traces of Arab ascendancy have been obliterated, its invisible effects were many and far-reaching. Most of them, of course, relate to the province of Sind, which has been called "the Hijaz of the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent".
Effects of the conquest of Sind:
Lane Poole, "the Arab conquest of Sind is an episode in the history of India and of Islam, a triumph without result".
Professor Syed Abdu Qadir Shuja-ud-Din, " After the conquest of Sind a large number of scholars, traders inhabited in Sind. Local people embraced Islam. Today Sind is the same Islamic region like the Iraq and Egypt, in these circumstances we cannot deny the greatness of t
he Arab conquest of Sind, its historical importance and its consequences".
M.Kabir , " undoubtedly establishment of Islamic government in Sind is the greatest event in the history of Islam and sub-continent".
1- Little effect in Political Sphere:
There is no doubt that Arab conquest was confined to Sind and Multan only and the major portion of northern India was not directly affected. Expeditions were send against Hindu princes of the north, but the Rajputs were too strong to be defeated. The sudden death of Muhammad bin Qasim and fruitless help of the Khalifah had greatly shaken the Arab stability in Sind. Within the decline of the power of the Khalifah, territories of Sind were divided into independent states.
a- Qasim’s attack revealed the political and military weakness of sub-continent:
The Indo-Pakistan sub-continent presented a chequered picture of warring dynasties and of small kingdoms hostile to one another on the eve of the Arab invasion. There was no central government in the country. All these states enjoyed complete independence and sovereignty. The same situation was on the occasion of the invasion of Alexander the Great. Throughout the history of the sub-continent they united on few occasions otherwise they were fighting for the supremacy on one another.
It was proved from the Muhammad bin Qasim’s invasion that people of sub-continent could not unite from against their common enemy. If they are managed to form a confederation against a common enemy then they also cannot get their goals. Because in their army there is lack of uniformity and discipline. They belong to different areas and princes thus could not fight bravely and secondly their main problem was lack of leadership. Thus the attack on Sind revealed their political and military weakness which were helpful for the establishment of Muslim Empire in the sub-continent in the later periods.
The arrangements made by Muhammad bin Qasim with the non-Muslims provided the basis for later Muslim policy in the sub-continent.
b- Arab soldiers settled:
Most of Arab soldiers settled in Sind for good and some of them married Sindi women. The Arab and Hindus lived side by side in peace and amity for a long time. The Arabs left a legacy behind in the shape of buildings or administrative or cultural institutions that might have exerted influence on India.
c- Legacy of Arab Administration:
The Arabs were not only great warriors and conquerors, but also good administrators. The administration introduced by Muhammad bin Qasim in Sind leads us to believe that the Arabs possessed experience in the art of administration and were not cruel and fanatic as it is general supposed by the people.
The Arab governors were farsighted statesmen and great politicians. They did not disturbed the existing system of administration in Sind. According to Chach Nama, "Reposing full confidence in them, Muhammad bin Qasim entrusted them with high offices and placed all important affairs of the place in their hands." Steps were taken to improve and encourage agriculture and trade. Artisans and merchants were free from molestation.
Justice was administered without fear or favour. The Qazis who were well-versed in Islamic Law and Jurisprudence, filled the seats of Judgment. In matter of pubic and political offences the law made no distinction between Muslims and non-Muslims. Some cases among the Hindus were decided according to Hundu Law by the Panchayats.
When Muhammad bin Qasim was dismissed and arrested by the orders of Khalifah the people started worship of his statue due to his good administration and justice. The Arab administration was based on the principles of Justice, equality, toleration and welfare. It was a role model for the later Turk sovereigns.
d- Cantonments turned into big cities:
Muhammad bin Qasim was a genius administrator. He established many cantonments in different places for the internal peace, law and order and for discipline. He permitted the Arab soldiers to settle and marry with Sindi women. Mansura, Kanda, Baiza, Mehfooza and Multan were the famous cantonments of that time. These cities proved to be the centre of culture and civilization.
Dr. Ishwari Prasad, " It may by conceded at once that the Arab conquest of Sind from political point of view, was an insignificant event in the history of Islam" The statement is nullified by the above mentioned facts.
2- Profound and far-reaching effect on culture
The establishment of Muslim rule in Sind had profound and far reaching effects in the field of culture and learning of the land. "The Arabs had brought with them a new religion and a new civilization which they introduced among the conquered people. They brought India into direct contact with the Islamic world and opened immense possibilities of commercial and cultural progress". (K.Ali)
i- Social Effects:
Before the conquest of Sind the Arabs were not only nomads but also bandits. The were uncivilized. The terrirotory of sind became civilized after the inasaion of Arabs. They got awareness of law, its importance and obedience.
Until recently the social pattern in Sind was largely tribal, the place of Arab Shaikh being taken by the Sindi Wadera. The world Wadera itself is a literal translation of Arabic counterpart. Such Arab virtues as hospitality have always distinguished Sind, and the standard of Arabic scholarship has also remained high. After the interaction of two different nations a new civilization came into existence, whose vivacious example "Sindi Language" is still present today.
Arab scholars inhabited in Sind and several Hindu scholars embraced Islam and permanently settled in Arabia. The Muslim treated the Sindi generously and granted them complete religious freedom. In a result a lot of Sindi Brahman and Buddhist embraced Islam.
Arab had started some new kind of industries in Sind. They planted in Sind some new kind of plants. The Arab brought horse and camels Sind and still today they inhabitants use the camel.
ii- Religious Effects:
Toleration was shown by the Arab governors of Sind to their subjects irrespective of caste and creed. Some of the temples were no doubt destroyed during the days of war, but that was a temporary phase, for the destruction was not due to religious bigotry or fanaticism but to the fact that the temples were the repositories of India’s aglong accumulated wealth. Once a place was occupied and peace restored or the people submitted to the ruler and sought peace, the conqueror adopted a kind and conciliatory policy towards them. When the people of Brahmanabad, for instance submitted to the conqueror, they were allowed to rebuild their temples which were destroyed during the time of war.
The Brahmins were permitted to perform their rites and ceremonies in the manner prescribed by their religion. Hajjaj bin Yusaf sent a farman to Muhammad bin Qasim instructing him to grant the population of Sind rights to life and property in lieu of their submission and willingness to pay taxes to the Muslim administration. They were also given the right to perform their religious rites as they pleased.
The Arab believed on the policy of toleration, they have given complete religious freedom. They also given the permission to repair the ruined temples and construct the new ones. Due to the High moral and character the Muslims attracted the local population. In a result majority of the population of Sind accepted Islam.
Numerous Ulema, scholars, preachers, traders from Arabia settled in Sind. Ulema and Sufis had given great importance to the propagation of Islam and majority of the Sindis embraced Islam.
The Arab acquired from the Hindus some new knowledge in Indian religion, philosophy, astronomy, medicine and folklore and carried it to their own country as well as to Europe.
Many of the Sanskrit works on astronomy and mathematics were translated into Arabic under the patronage of the Abbassid Khalifahs. During the reign of Harun-ar-Rashid Hindu scholars were invited to Baghdad to translate into Arabic Sanskrit works on medicine, philosophy, astronomy and other subjects. Similarly many Arab savants studied Sanskrit to satisfy their thirst for knowledge of Indian culture.
The digit system was first invented in the sub-continent. Arabs adopted that procedure. Even today the Arabic digits form one to nine are same like written in Hindi and these are called Arabic Numerals. Famous Arab mathematician Khuarzami translated Hindi mathematics into Arabi.
Once the Khalifah Harun-ar-Rashid fell ill. For his treatment a physician was called from the sub-continent. Khalifah recovered with his vedic treatment. After that vedic physician was appointed in the hospital of Baghdad. Hindi herbs were imported and several books on medicine were translated into Arabic.
Ishwari Prasad opines, "It must be admitted that Muslims soon secularized the learning they borrowed from India and presented it to the European world in a new garb which was perhaps more acceptable to the European mind". Amir Khusrau mentioned that the Arab astronomer Abu Mashar came to Benares, the seat of Hindu learning, and studied astronomy there for ten years.
Thus we find that the exchange of ideas and the cultural contact between the Arabs and the Hindus were possible as a result of the Arab conquest. To the natives, particularly to the lower class, the Muslim rule symbolized prosperity and emancipation. This is why the Jats and the Meds accorded welcome to the Arabs by blowing conch-shell. So from the cultural point of view, the invasion of Sind cannot be regarded as an isolated military event.
The Arabs left a legacy behind in the shape of buildings or administrative or cultural institutions that might have exerted influence on India. The Sindi language shows Arab influence even today. It is wrong to say that the Arab conquest of Sind had absolutely no effect on India. (K.Ali)
K.Ali rebutted, "From the political, religious, social, cultural and literary point of view, the invasion of Sind cannot be regarded as an isolated military event. Hence the statement, that the Arab conquest of Sind was a triumph without results, cannot be accepted in toto".