Composed in Arabic and translated into Persian in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the Chachnama details the Arab conquest of the Sind (a province corresponding to northwest India and Pakistan) in the eighth century. The work details the most successful of the many attempts by Muslims to conquer the region, which was led by Muhammad Ibn Qasim, a cousin of the governor of Iraq. In this history of the campaign, Ibn Qasim is both a conquering hero and a defender of Islam, subduing non-Muslims and imposing new religious values in his wake.
The Chachnamah: An Ancient History of Sind, trans. Mirza Kalichbeg Fredunbeg, available online at http://persian.packhum.org/persian/main?url=pf%3Ffile%3D12701030%26ct%3D0.
Abu Raihan is often known in the West by his westernized name, Alberuni. Early in life, Alberuni gained a reputation as a scholar, writer, and scientist, and served as an advisor for local princes. Around 1030 C.E., he traveled to India, and wrote with an objective observer's sensibilities about this foreign land. Writing as a Muslim, Alberuni does not hesitate to point out things he dislikes about India or its inhabitants; at the same time, however, he is quick to praise things he likes.
Alberuni's India. Edited by Edward C. Sachau. (Delhi: S. Chand and Co., 1934)
The Mughal emperor Akbar ruled northern India, including large parts of present-day Pakistan and Bangladesh, from 1556 to 1605,and he is generally considered one of the greatest rulers of India. The founder of the dynasty, Babur (reigned 1526–1530), and his followers were Muslim Turks from central Asia, who had been driven from their homes by invaders. Called Mughals, because they were mistakenly identified with the Mongols, they were militarily very sophisticated, employing both matchlockmen and field artillery. They needed all that sophistication to hold onto their newly won territory. Akbar’s father succeeded Babur after his death. He first lost the territory, then won it back just 0a year before he died.
Though illiterate, Akbar developed a deep knowledge of Hindu and Muslim cultures by having important texts read to him daily. He also sponsored artistic creation and was especially interested in information about different religions. The debates he sponsored among religious scholars apparently distanced him from any of the established religions. He attempted to create a syncretic religion called Din-i Ilahi, based on worship of the sun and light, that he believed could unify Muslims, Hindus, Christians, and others. Characteristically, Akbar never attempted to force anyone to convert to his religion.
The source included here establishes the political ideal of a leader, as elaborated by a Muslim historian of northern India. Zi¯aud-d¯ın Barn¯ı (1285–1358) came from a prominent aristocratic family of Indian Muslims. He was a close associate of a sultan of Delhi, but he fell from favor after that sultan’s death in 1351, and he was arrested and sent into permanent exile. In 1358, he wrote the work Rulings on Temporal Government (Fat¯awa-yi-Jah¯and¯ari), hoping thereby to return to the sultan’s favor. It presents his understanding, formulated from an orthodox Sunni Muslim perspective, of how the ideal ruler should govern.
“Rulings on Temporal Government,” in Sources of Indian Tradition, William Theodore de Bary, Stephen N. Hay, Royal Weiler, and Andrew Yarrow, eds., 503–04. Copyright © 1959 Columbia University Press.
Because there are very few sources of information on the history of Vietnam before the Li dynasty (1010–1225), Chinese dynastic histories and Chinese poetry are indispensable sources. They are valuable even when, as in this case, they were composed by those on the other side of conflict with Vietnamese insurgents. P‘i Jih-hsiu was a prominent Tang poet of the late ninth century, and he was particularly drawn to the Mencian notion that the people have the right to revolt if their country is being mismanaged. While traveling through the country in 865, he stopped in the city of Hsü, from which 2,000 men had been drafted for the Tang army and sent to fight Nan-chao in Vietnam. These soldiers were probably lost when Nan-chao defeated the Chinese forces in Vietnam in early 863, and news of their defeat apparently reached Hsü while Jih-hsiu was there.
Keith Weller Taylor, The Birth of Vietnam (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983), 345–346.