Jalaluddin Khwarazm

Somewhere, just downstream of the crumbling ramparts of Bhakkar, there lies to this day a good deal of wealth.

Salman Rashid February 17, 2012

After his defeat on the Sindhu River at the hands of Chengez Khan, Sultan Jalaluddin, who never ever enjoyed the throne of Khwarazm, was joined by stragglers from his army. Although Alauddin (aka Ata Malik) Juvaini’s Tarikh-e-Jahan Kusha (History of the World Conqueror, circa 1255) tells us that while the Khan did not permit his archers from shooting Jalaluddin as he guided his horse through the waters, his soldiers were not so fortunate. For as far as the eye could see downstream, so the Tarikh records, the river flowed red.

Nevertheless within days, some five thousand of his men made it across and joined Jalaluddin. Eastward across the Kala Chitta Mountains the man went to make peace with Rai Sangin, the Khokar chieftain of the area around Kallar Kahar. In the furrowed hills west of the Gambhir River, there is a ruined fort called Samarkand that may recall that long ago friendship. But that is another tale.

Meanwhile, relaxing in the Peshawar valley (and indulging in wanton rape) the Khan heard of the Sultan’s swelling ranks. He may also have heard that the man had petitioned Sultan Shamsuddin Iyultimish of Delhi for asylum. Even as the Delhi throne refused, Chengez Khan sent a force to get Jalaluddin. Taking reinforcements from the Khokars, Jalaluddin fled south to Multan.

Multan’s governor Nasiruddin Qabacha ruled as a proxy of the Delhi Sultan. Instigated by the Salt Range, Khokars who had a score to settle with Qabacha, Jalaluddin attacked and routed the Multan garrison and advanced on Uch, the second capital of Sindh. Qabacha fled to Bhakkar, the island fortress between Rohri and Sukkur. Having acquired considerable booty from the Uch and Multan treasuries, Jalaluddin returned to summer in the Salt Range.

As summer drew to an end, Chengez Khan sent yet another sortie to flush out Jalaluddin once and for all. The man again fled south. He vented his spleen on Multan and Uch — and that was only for starters. The largely Muslim cities were given up to rape and plunder. Even in the 13th century Uch was already a religious centre but that did not stop the frustrated and cowardly fugitive from giving it up to sword and fire.

With the Mongols still breathing down his neck, Jalaluddin fled south. Bhakkar and Rohri, where Qabacha was holed up, went up in smoke. Here we have a rather tantalising aside. As the Khawarazmians came up against the massive walls of the island fortress from the north, Qabacha, having tasted the defeat and looting of his treasury in Multan and Uch, attempted to get away with his wealth. Loading it up in the royal boat, he set sail southward in an attempt to get to Thatta.

Evidently, the governor and his crew were in a state of great angst and confusion. The Tabqat-e-Nasiri, a contemporary and reliable history, tells us that barely out of bowshot from Bhakkar, the crew in its haste to get away managed to overturn the boat midstream. The treasure went into the brown summer eddies of a swollen Sindhu and Qabacha went down, never to re-emerge from the waters.

So far as we know, the treasure was never recovered. And so it is that somewhere, just downstream of the crumbling ramparts of Bhakkar, there lies to this day a good deal of wealth. In the intervening eight centuries, it may have been covered by metres of Sindhu silt. But it is still there nevertheless.

Meanwhile, Jalaluddin the great hero of Islamic history, bore ever southward. The glorious city of Pari Nagar in the Thar Desert faced his frustration and never rose up from the flames he set upon it. Bhambore on the seaboard, a rich and celebrated port, too went up in smoke, its population, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, put to the sword.

Having visited his anger upon this land, Jalaluddin withdrew to what is now Iraq. He hoped to displace his brother, a minor chieftain in that country. The brother, however, considered the land too small for the two siblings. He bribed a Kurd to do Jalaluddin in. And so it was that the man we consider an Islamic hero for destroying the largely Muslim cities of Multan, Uch and Bhakkar was mercilessly stabbed to death on the orders of his own brother.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 18th, 2012.


Hasnain Adil | 12 years ago | Reply Well, Mongols destroyed almost all the Muslim Society in thirteenth centuray. The advanced and even reached Egypt where they finally faced the decisive defeat. Had Jalaluddin not engaged them for almost two decades, Cairo would have been knocked much earlier. He was the only resistance in Jenghis Khan's master plan to abolish all the Muslim world. Mongols were not the conqueror, rather they were the sackers. By your point of view, Mohammed Bin Qasim was also an invader... I guess
observer | 12 years ago | Reply


A. His only source is Tareekh-e-Jahankusha.

B. For the events which took place on this side of Indus, Salman Rashid’s source is Tabqat-e-Nasiri.

To an uninitiated person, that is 'two' sources, which is more than 'only'. Care to cite some sources of your own? Specially a source that says that the 'shameful' (as opposed to shameless) Jalaluddin did not actually loot, sack, rape, and murder Multan, Uch and Parinagar.

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