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Friday, November 21, 2014
How Ibn al-Qasim motivated his ghazis
Back in August Kashi N. Pandita trolled an Anglophone Pakistani and anti-Hindi board, found a hadith-bundle, and dumped the result at "Ghazavatu’l-Hind: A matter of Faith". This essay overall is a fascinating look at how Muslim commanders motivated mujahidun to fight in India. I have posted a commentary at Jihadwatch; the main points are worth reposting here.
Whoever was spreading these traditions, was saying - go conquer India, and in return Jesus will bless you back in Syria and Jerusalem. Islam today, by contrast, is or so we assume focused not on Syria and Jerusalem, and not on Jesus but on the Hijaz and Mecca, and on Muhammad. It turns out, from other contemporary sources, that the earliest Islam was close to apocalyptic and gnostic Jewish-Christianity (seriously, this is barely even disputed anymore). This biases me to suspect that these ahadith are VERY early.
Pandita has even helpfully suggested the conqueror Ibn al-Qasim as the ahadiths' source. That man was working for the Umayyad caliph al-Walid I and maybe for his brother and heir Sulayman too. That would explain their emphasis on al-Sham: for that read, the land of the New Testament, from Damascus to Jerusalem. Both caliphs were adorning holy sites there; and Sulayman held court in Jerusalem. Any later than, oh, 745 AD and Muslim politics simply migrates away - with the tiniest exceptions in al-Ma'mun and the antiCrusaders. (Hazra Niamatullah and other such later scholars are just recycling that material; these men had no real interest in spending the booty on Syria.)
I don't know if these ahadith are worth me writing a whole new essay - Pandita pretty much wrote that essay already - but they are worth a mention. For readers of Throne of Glass, feel free to jot Pandita's essay as a footnote to what I'd mentioned of Ibn al-Qasim in that last chapter. Do this with my apologies that, when I was writing it, I hadn't read Pandita's essay (or other non-Islamic Indian-authored essays).
APPENDIX: I have often wondered why there exist so many traditions that Jesus sojourned in India or was buried there. Nothing of this is mooted in early Christian tradition - of Saint Thomas, sure, but not of Jesus himself. But once Ibn al-Qasim was dead, and the Umayyad caliphate restricted to Spain, and southwest Syria held in suspicion... these ahadith became unmoored. At that point would-be plunderers of India required other rationales to handle these Jesus traditions. At the same time Muslims already "knew" that Jesus didn't die on the cross, freeing up the qussas to imagine all manner of later secret peregrinations.
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