born 679 AD, died 712 AD, was the last Sindhi Hindu ruler situated in Sindh and parts of Punjab in modern day Pakistan. During the beginning of the Muslim conquest in the Indian subcontinent his kingdom was conquered by Muhammad bin Qasim for the Umayyad Caliphate.
He was a very secular king - he had also given shelter to a well-known follower Imam Hussian, Muhammad Bin Allafi, was given shelter in Sindh from the Ommayya enemies of Ahal-e-Baith.
Reign as recounted in the Chach-Nama
The Chach Nama is the oldest chronicle of the Arab conquest of Sindh. It was translated into Persian by Muhammad Ali bin Hamid bin Abu Bakr Kufi in 1216 CE. from an earlier Arabic text believed to have been composed by the Sakifí family, the kinsmen of Muhammad bin Qasim. At one time it was considered to be a romance until Mountstuart Elphinstone's observations of its historical veracity.
It recounts Raja Dahir as a Brahmin king and son of Chach of Alor who ascended the throne upon the death of his uncle Chandar. His wife grew up at Brahmanabad with their elder brother Daharsiah who arranged her marriage to the King Sohan of Bhatia. She was then moved to reside at the capital Aror (Alor) with Dahir preceding the wedding. However in an attempt to circumvent a prophecy that declared that her husband would rule a strong kingdom from his capital at Aror, Dahir is reporeted to have married her instead and the event resulted in both severe criticism and a conflict with his brother Daharsiah. who immediately assembled and army and marched upon Dahir. His brother however died of disease during the siege of Aror. Dahir then marched to Brahmanabad where he subdued the area and consolidate his support base, by instating Daharsiah's son Chach as the ruler and marrying his brothers widow who was also the sister of Sarhand Lohanah, a powerful chieftain who commanded the allegiance of various Jat tribes to .
Eight years later his kingdom was invaded by Ramal or Kannauj. After initial losses the enemy advanced upon Aror so he allied hismself with one 'Alafi Arab. Alafi and his warriors, who were in exile from the Umayyad Caliph were recruited and led Dahirs armies in repelling the invading forces. They then stayed on as valued members of Dahirs court. In the later war with the Caliphate however Alafi served in the capacity of a military advisor but refused to take active part in the campaign; as a result of which he later secured a pardon from the Caliph.
Accounts of Islamist plunder, oppression, and destruction of traditions
Siwistan and Sisam (Sindh) Mohammed bin Qasem wrote to al-Hajjaj, the governor of Iraq:[
"The forts of Siwistan and Sism have been already taken. The nephew of Dahir, his warriors and principla officers have been despatched, and infidels converted to Islam or destroyed. Instead of idol temples, mosques and other places of worship have been built, pulpits have been erected, the Khutba is read, the call to prayers is raised so that devotions are performed at sacred hours."
The previous (as does the next) quote then supports the argument that Islamists had violently destroyed Hindu/Buddhist traditions.
Multan (Punjab) .."Mohammed Qasem arose and with his counsellors, guards and attendants, went to the temple. He saw there an idol made of gold. and its two eye were bright red rubies. "..Muhammed Qasem ordered the idol to be taken up. Two hundred and thirty "mans" of gold were brought to the treasury together with the gems and pearls and treasures which were obtained from the plunder of Multan. "
Lead up to war with the Umayyads
Towards the end of the seventh century Hajjaj becomes governor of "Iraq, Sind and Hind...Hajjaj's army is defeated by King Dahar's son... Hajjaj selects 6000 experienced soldiers from Syria, appoints as general his 17 year old son-in-law, Mohammed Bin Qasim..."
The primary reason noted in the Chach Nama for the expedition by the governor of Basra Al-Hajjaj bin Yousef against Raja Dahir, was the raid by pirates off the coast of Debal. resulting in the capturing both gifts to the caliph from the King of Serendib (modern Sri Lanka) as well as the female pilgrims on board who were captured. The Chach nama reports that upon hearing of the matter Hajjaj wrote a letter to the Raja and upon unsuccessful resolution being reached, launched of a military expedition. Other reasons attributed to the Umayyad interest in gaining a foothold in the Makran, Balochistan and Sindh regions in addition to protecting their maritime interests, are the participation of armies from Sindh alongside Persians in various battles such as those at Nahawand, Salasal and Qādisiyyah and the granting of refuge to fleeing rebel chieftains.
Ethnography of Raja Dahir's Sindh
Some writers call Raja Dahir a ruler of a predominantly Buddhist state However it is possible that the Buddhism of Sindh was actually just Buddhistic Hinduism as it was in Bengal under the Pala Dynasty and Andhra under the Satavahanas. It is also pointed out by some scholars such as Ikram that only souther Sindh was Buddhist in majority. Dr. Khan blames the Buddhist Shamanis who betrayed the trust placed in them by Dahir. He says that while some classes suffered inequality under Dahir's rule, their lot grew much worse under the Arab rule.
The Chinese Buddhist ambassador to Sindh in A.D. 641, Hiuen Tsiang reported many temples of Lord Shiva, especially along the banks of the Sindhu River. Hiuen Tsiang also mentions the king as a Sudra (Sho-tu-lo). He wrote, "There are several hundred Sangh aramas, (resting places) occupied by about 10,000 priests.... There are about thirty Deva temples, in which sectaries of various kinds congregate. The king is of the Sudra (Sho-tu-lo) caste. He is by nature honest and sincere, and he reverences the law of Buddha.... By the side of the river Sindhu along the flat marshy lowlands there are several hundreds of thousands of families settled. They are of an unfeeling and hasty temper, and are given to blood- shed only. They give themselves exclusively to tending cattle.... Men and women, both cut their hair short." It is believed that perhaps Hiuen Tsiang mentioned the lineage from the 'Shrotriya' Brahmins or the Kshudrak clan.[
The quote by the Chinese ambassador also denotes that Raja Dahir (much like King Lalitaditya of the time) was benevolent towards all religions.
It is believed that even Zoroastrians (or at least Magis) had lived in Sindh during the reign of Raja Dahir.
War with the Umayyads
The first force was led by Badil bin Tuhfa and landed at Nerun Kot (modern Hyderabad), where it was supported by Abdullah bin Nahban the governor of Makran. They were, however, defeated at Debal (modern Karachi)Elliot places it at Thatta.
Hajaj's next campaign was launched under the aegis of Muhammad bin Qasim. In 711 A.D Qasim assaulted Debal and upon the express orders of Al-Hajjaj exacted a bloody retribution on Debal in the freeing of both the earlier captives as well as prisoners from the previous failed campaign. Other than this instance the policy adopted is seen as generally being one of enlisting and co-opting support from both defectors as well as the defeated lords and forces. From Debal he then moved on to Nerun for supplies, where the city's Buddhist governor had acknowledged itself as a tributary of the Caliphate after the first campaign and opened the gates to the forces of the second. Qasim's armies then moved on to capture Siwistan (Sehwan) and received the alliance of various tribal chiefs and secured the surrounding regions, With whom he captured the fort at Sisam and thereby secured the regions to the west of the Indus River.
The Chachnama provides accounts of the rule by successors of the Rai Dynasty as one marked by persecution of Buddhists, Jats and Meds from the time of Chach as well as of a prophecy on the fall of Raja Dahir being a factor in swaying many defections to Qasim's army.
However, sociologist U.T Thakur suggest a more complex dynamic, suggesting that Hinduism (being the religion of the dominant castes) and Buddhism (being the religion of the recessive castes) existed side by side. The king was a Brahmin, but a majority of his advisers were Buddhists. The ruler of Brahmanabad, a Jatt, also had professed Buddhism as his spiritual guide. Nonetheless, there was a strong sense of "ideological dualism" between them, which he wrote was the inherent weakness that the Arabs exploited in their favor when they invaded the region.
By enlisting the support of various local tribes, such as the Jats, Meds, Bhuttos and Buddhist rulers of Nerun, Bajhra, Kaka Kolak and Siwistan, as infantry to his predominantly cavalry army Muhammad bin Qasim defeated Dahir and captured his eastern territories for the Umayyad Caliphate.
Dahir then attempted to prevent Qasim from crossing the Indus river and so moved his forces to its eastern banks in an attempt prevent Qasim from furthering the campaign. Eventually however, Qasim successfully completed the crossing and defeated an attempt to repel them at Jitor led by Jaisiah, the son of Dahir. Qasim then advanced onwards to give Dahir battle at Raor near modern day Nawabshah (712 A.D.) where Dahir died in battle.
King Dahir died in battle and the sister Dahar had married for the sake of his kingship burned herself to death with other women of her household.
It is said by textbooks of Sindh that after Raja Dahir's death, the Raja's widow and his son still fought on the Arabs.
When Dahir's severed head was presented to Hajjaj, a courtier sang: ``we have conquered Sindh after enormous trouble.... Betrayed is Dahir by Mohammed Bin Qasim's masterly strategy. Rejoice, the evil doers are disgraced. Their wealth has been brought away . . . They are now solitary and brittle as eggs and their women, fair and fragrant as musk-deer, are now asleep in our harems.''
After the Sindhis lost the war, writers claim that many were turned into slaves, and made to fight in Islamic armies. Some slaves were categorized as "Sayabija."