Rai Dahir

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For the clan see Dahir

Rai Dahir or Raja Dahir (Sindhi: راجا ڏاھر Hindi: राजा दाहिर, Urdu: راجہ داہر‎, 661–712 CE[1]) was the Brahman ruler of Sindh in Pakistan. Rai Dáhir, son of Chach, son of Siláíj, at the beginning of the Muslim conquest his kingdom was conquered by Muhammad bin Qasim (an Arab general) for the Umayyad Caliphate.


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 written by the Thaqafi family (relatives of Muhammad bin Qasim).

The Chach Nama describes Raja Dahir as a Pushkarna Brahmin king, son of Chach of Aror, who ascended the throne after the death of his uncle, Chandar. Dahir's sister, Dahar, grew up in Aror with their elder brother Dahar-Sena (who arranged her marriage to King Sohan of Bhatia). She then moved to the capital, Aror, with Dahir before her marriage. However, to avoid a prophecy that her husband would rule a strong kingdom from his capital at Aror, Dahir is reported to have married her; the marriage resulted in severe criticism and a conflict with their brother, Dahar-Sena. Dahar-Sena however, assembled an army and marched on Dahir, but died of sunstroke while besieging Dahir at Aror. Dahir then subdued the area, consolidating his support base by executing his nephew Chach (Dahar-Sena's son). He married his brother's widow, who was the sister of Sarhand Lohanah (a chieftain who commanded the allegiance of several Jat tribes).

Eight years later, Dahir's kingdom was invaded by Ramal at Kannauj. After initial losses, the enemy advanced on Aror and he allied himself with Alafi, an Arab. Alafi and his warriors (who were exiled from the Umayyad caliphate) were recruited; they led Dahir's armies in repelling the invading forces, remaining as valued members of Dahir's court. In a later war with the caliphate, however, Alafi served as a military advisor but refused to take an active part in the campaign; as a result, he later obtained a pardon from the caliph.

War with the Umayyads

The primary reason cited in the Chach Nama for the expedition by the governor of Basra, Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf, against Raja Dahir was a pirate raid off the coast of Debal resulting in gifts to the caliph from the king of Serendib (modern Sri Lanka) being stolen. The chronicles reported that when he heard about the matter, Hajjaj wrote a letter to Dahir and launched a military expedition when no resolution could be reached. Other reasons for the Umayyad interest in a foothold in the Makran, Balochistan and Sindh regions were the participation of Sindhi armies with the Persians in battles (such as those at Nahawand, Salasal and Qādisiyyah) and granting refuge to fleeing rebel chieftains.

First campaign:

The first force was led by Badil bin Tuhfa and landed at Nerun Kot (modern Hyderabad), where it was supported by Abdullah bin Nahban (governor of Makran). It was, however, defeated at Debal (modern Karachi).

Second campaign:

Hajjaj's next campaign was launched under the aegis of Muhammad bin Qasim. In 711 CE, bin Qasim attacked Debal and on the orders of Al-Hajjaj, freed the earlier captives and prisoners from the previous (failed) campaign. Other than this instance, the policy was generally one of enlisting and co-opting support from defectors and defeated lords and forces. From Debal, bin Qasim moved on to Nerun for supplies; the city's Buddhist governor had acknowledged it as a tributary state of the Caliphate after the first campaign and capitulated to bin Qasim. bin Qasim's armies then captured Siwistan (Sehwan) received allegiance from several tribal chiefs and secured the surrounding regions. His combined forces captured the fort at Sisam, and secured the region, west of the Indus River.

The Chach Nama describes the rule by successors of the Rai Dynasty as characterized by persecution of Buddhists, Jats and Meds from the time of Chach; a prophecy of Raja Dahir's fall encouraged defections to bin Qasim's army. Sociologist U.T. Thakur suggested a more complex dynamic: Hinduism (the religion of the dominant castes), Buddhism (the religion of the lower castes) and high Buddhists were descended from Bactrian migrants. The king was a Brahmin, and the majority of his advisers were from his family. The ruler of Alor (a Jat) professed Buddhism. Nonetheless, there was a sense of "ideological dualism" between them; Thakur considered this the inherent weakness exploited by the Arabs when they invaded the region.

By enlisting the support of local tribes (such as the Jats, Meds and Bhuttos) and Buddhist rulers of Nerun, Bajhra, Kaka Kolak and Siwistan as infantry to his predominantly-mounted army, Muhammad bin Qasim defeated Dahir and captured his eastern territories for the Umayyad Caliphate.

Dahir then tried to prevent Qasim from crossing the Indus River, moving his forces to its eastern banks. Eventually, however, Qasim crossed and defeated the forces led by Jaisiah (Dahir's son) at Jitor. Qasim fought Dahir at Raor (near modern Nawabshah) in 712 CE, killing him; Dahir's wife immolated herself (with other women in her household) in accordance with the Hindu tradition of Jauhar.

After the death of Caliph Walid I, Muhammed bin Qasim's end was more tragic than that of general Musa bin Nusayr. Muhammed bin Qasim was a nephew of Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf, governor of Iraq. The new caliph, Sulaiman, disliked Hajjaj; however, the latter died before Sulaiman could punish him. The caliph then turned against Hajjaj’s relatives, and Muhammed bin Qasim was dismissed and sent back to Iraq. The new governor of Iraq, Saleh bin Abdur Rahman, hated Hajjaj because the latter had killed Saleh’s brother. Saleh also turned against Hajjaj’s relatives; Muhammed bin Qasim was arrested and imprisoned because of his relationship to Hajjaj. In prison, he was blinded, tortured and murdered.

External links


  1. Wink, 153