The many histories of Muhammad b. Qasim: Narrating the Muslim conquest of Sindh

Ahmed, Manan

     This study takes as its focus the history and representation of Muhammad b. Qasim, the commander of the Muslim forces which conquered the region of Sindh (present day Pakistan) in the eighth century. The history of Muhammad b. Qasim emerged as a central originary myth for the post-colonial state of Pakistan; formed a piece of the nationalist struggle against the British; and remains a contested historical symbol. To understand the many social and political functions of the history of Muhammad b. Qasim, I begin with the earliest extant accounts of the conquest and attempt to delineate "what happened" from "what is said to have happened." I argue for the recasting of these histories outside of nationalist/post-colonial paradigms, in order to situate them as regional histories, produced within the "frontier of Sindh"--a liminal perspective mediating between the global and the local. This perspective allows to examine the production of such histories, and the afterlives of the texts, in political and cultural memory, within their historiographical, literary and political contexts across the longue durTe.

Alam, Muzaffar