711- 1775 AD

Mohammad Bin Qasim in 711 AD. Fights and wins against Raja Dahir

800 years of turbulent history. Various dynasties struggle for rule.

Mughal era begins

Babur marches through Persia in 1525 AD. Defeats Ibrahim Lodhi in 1526 at Panipat. (1525-1530)

Humayun takes over. Struggles in battles. After exile, defeats Sher Shah Suri in 1556 (1530-1556)
Akbar takes over in 1556. Only 14 yrs old. Extends Mughal Empire. Built Fatehpur Sikri in Agra, and Lahore Fort. (1556-1605)
Jehangir begins in 1605. Reputation as a just king. Extended the Empire. (1605-1627)
Shah Jehan, bloody start in 1628, despite a good ruler. Built Red Fort in Delhi, Taj Mahal at Agra, Shalimar Gardens in Lahore, Shish Mahal (the hall of mirrors) in Lahore Fort and Shah Jehan Mosque in Thatta. 1627(-1658)
Aurangzeb, also a bloody start. Ruled the empire with an iron hand. Spread Islam. Built Badshahi Mosque in Lahore. (1657-1707)

C_ U_ L_ T_ U_ R_ E

711 - 1775 AD

Islam was first brought in by Arabs in early eight century. At that time, the religion itself was only about a century old. In 711 AD Mohammad Bin Qasam, a brilliant 19 year-old Arab general from Basra (Iraq) marched into Pakistan by way of Persia and Balochistan with the army of 60,000 men. He employed a method of warfare never before seen in the subcontinent - large carriage-drawn catapults capable of hurling heavy stones and missiles across the distances of about 200 yards. He marched all the way to Nerun (Hyderabad) where he engaged Raja Dahir, the local Hindu ruler and his massive army of 20,000 infantry and 5,000 cavalry. Mohammad Bin Qasim defeated Raja Dahir with contemptuous ease.

Islam took roots there through geniune intellectual and spiritual conversations rather than through forceful persuasion. In the centuries that followed, the subcontinent was invaded repeatedly by Muslim armies - Turks, Afghans and Mongols. Slowly, Islam spread outwards from Sindh to encompass all the lands that now make up Pakistan.

Some 800 years after the death of Mohammad Bin Qasim, the turbulent history of the subcontinent and the many competing dynasties that struggles for ascendancy there, gave way to a period of political calm and cultural achievement that was to last for more than three centuries. This was the start of Mughal empire.

This period began in 1525 AD, when a Turkish chief named Babur followed the same road of conquest into India that so many warlords had taken before him. Babur fought and won many great battles and when he died, he controlled an empire that stretched from Kabul in Afghanistan through the Punjab to the borders of Bengal.

Babur founded the Mughal dynasty. The five other Great Mughals who followed are stamped upon the face of modern Pakistan with indelible firmness. Mughals were great builders. They built beautiful gardens and forts of incredible strength that still stand today even after witnessing greatest Moghul battles.

Babur's son Humayun inherited much of his father's sensitivity but he did not have the same qualities of decisive statesmanship or the same quick military skills. He was a better scholar than soldier. At continual odds with the Afghans, their rebel chief Sher Shah Suri forced Humayun to leave India and seek asylum in Persia. Humayun only took back his father's territory in India on the death of Sher Shah Suri in 1556 and then continued to rein for only seven months.

Humayun's son Akbar was just forteen years old when he took the throne in 1556. Akbar assumed direct power in 1560. During the next forty-five years of his reign, he extended the Mughal frontiers to the Bay of Bengal in the east and the Persian border with Afghanistan in the north-west. People prefer to remember him for his gigantic military conquests and for the way in which he encouraged artistic and cultural endeavor.

After Akbar's death in 1605, his son Jehangir succeeded the reign. He was one of the most attractive characters amongst the Great Mughals. Although he had a weakness for strong drink, Jehangir built a reputation during his twenty-three years on the throne as a great and just king.

Jehangir died in 1628 leaving two potential heirs - his son Shah Jehan, and his stepson Shahryar. Shah Jehan took the throne and mercilessly killed Shahryar and all other possible claimants. Despite bloody start, he was to prove a good ruler. Like other Mughals, Shah Jehan was a significant patron of the arts and of architecture. In India, he built the Red Fort and in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj Mahal at Agra, one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. He reigned the massive Mughal Empire for twenty-two years and initiated a return to Islamic orthodoxy, abolishing many of the lax practices that had been permitted by his father and grandfather. He was overthrown by the sword and by the lust for power of his own children.

Shah Jehan's brothers fought among each other. Aurangzeb was to follow next in the Mughal Empire. He ruled the empire with an iron hand. He continued and strenghtened the return to Islamic law that had been instituted by his father. Of all Mughals, Aurangzeb came closest to achieving the ideal of a true Islamic state in India. He also continued to extend the borders to encompass Afghanistan and the entire subcontinent.

Aurangzeb died in 1707. His son and successor, Bahadur Shah, was already old when he took the throne and was confronted with one rebellion after another. He died in 1712, a dissatisfied man who had witnessed the beginning of the end of the empire founded by Babur. Mughals managed to rule at least some parts of India until 1850s but they never reigned the dignity and authority of their early days. The decline of Mughals was measured by the fact that in the century following the death of Aurangzeb no less than fifteen kings ascended the Mughal throne as against six Great Mughals of the previous 181 years.

[ Subtopics : Pre-Islamic History | 711-1775 A.D. | 1776-1947 A.D. | 1947-Present Day ]

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