The ‘ahadith’ relating to Ghazwa e Hind are shrouded with many misunderstandings. Let us look into these ‘ahadith’ so that we may gather correct comprehension of these ‘ahadith’.
From the outset, one clarification needs to be made. Word ‘ghazwa’ is usually used to describe a ‘qattal’ in which our Nabi (saww) took part physically; and word ‘sriya’ is used to describe a ‘qattal’ in which our Nabi (saww) did not take part physically. It may be appreciated that such a differentiation between ‘ghazwa and non-ghazwa’ has been made by historians (or narrators) for their convenience; such a differentiation is not based on Arabic grammar. In Arabic, word ‘ghazwa’ is used for ‘qattal’ whether our Nabi (saww) took part or no part in such ‘qattal’. What I am suggesting is that all ‘ahadith’ in which word ‘ghazwa’ has been used to describe ‘qattal’ in India do not mean that our Nabi (s.a.w.w) would take part in such ‘qattal’ physically.
The first ‘hadith’- regarding Ghazwa e Hind- which is narrated by Hazrat Suban (r.a.) states as follows:
“Two groups amongst my Ummah would be whom Allah has freed from fire; one group would fight against India & the Second would be that who would accompany Isa Ibn-e-Maryam(a.s.)”.
This above stated ‘hadith’ has been quoted, among others, by Imam Ahmad (r.a) in his ‘Musnad’ and by Imam Nisai (r.a) in his ‘Musnad’. Both these ‘Musnad’ are included in the ‘Sihah Sitta’.
This ‘hadith’ states that two groups of Muslim Ummah have been declared free from Hellfire; one group consists of those persons who would fight against India, and the second group is that which would accompany hazrat Isa (a.s). It may be appreciated that Hazrat Isa's (a.s) all companions would not have joined him (a.s) simultaneously; rather the companions would have joined Hazrat Isa (a.s) at various periods of time. It means hazrat Isa's (a.s) companions joining him (a.s.) at various periods of time are one group for the purpose of the good news given in this ‘hadith’. Similarly all Muslims fighting against India (non-Muslim India) at various periods of time are addressee of this hadith. In other words, all persons who have taken part in battles fought against India until now- and who would take part in such battles till Qiyamah- are addressee of the ‘basharat’ contained in this hadith. It is a great ‘basharat’ for those who, being Muslim Ummah, have got opportunity- and will get such opportunity in future- to fight against India; all such persons are free from Hellfire though they have not embraced ‘shahadat’. This above quoted hadith is a sahih hadith.
The other quoters of this hadith include Imam Bukhari (r.a) in ‘Al Tareekh Al Kabeer’; Tibrani; Behqi; Ibn-e-Kaseer; Imam Welmi; Imam Syuti; Imam Mazi; Ibn-e-Asaakar in ‘History of Damascus.
The second hadith, relating to Ghazwa e Hind, and narrated by Abu Huraira (r.a) states as follows:
“ In this Ummah, the troops would be headed towards Sindh & Hind”
Hazrat Abu Hurairah (R.A.) says "if I could find a chance to participate in any such expedition, and I get martyred, then well & good; if I come back as a survivor, then I would be a free Abu Hurairah, to whom Allah Almighty would have given freedom from the Hell.”
This hadith has been stated by Imam Hambal in his ‘Musnad’, as such it is also a sahih hadith. Imam Nisai also narrated this hadith in both his books: ‘Al- Sunan Al Mujtaba’ & ‘Al Sunan Al Kubra’ with the following wordings:
“Hazrat Abu Hurairah (r.a) says, Hazrat Muhammad (s.a.w.w) promised us of Ghazwa-e-Hind. If I get chance to participate in it, I would spend all my energy & wealth for it. If I get killed, I would be considered among the most great martyrs. And if I come back alive, then I would be a freed Abu-Hurairah.
This second hadith actually endorses the first hadith wherein there is a ‘bushrah’ that a Muslim taking part in fighting against India would be free from Hellfire.
The words ‘Muhammad (s.a.w.w) promised us of Ghazwa e Hind’ shows the highest degree of assurance given by our Nabi (s.a.w.w) to the happening of this event i.e. Ghazwa e Hind.
It may be appreciated that both ‘ahadith’ quoted above state about Muslims’ battles against India; these ‘ahadith’ do not state about conquest of India.
The third hadith, relating to ghazwa e Hind and narrated by Hazrat Abu Huraira (r.a) states about conquest of India as follows:
“Definitely, one of your troop would do a war with Hindustan, Allah would grant success to those warriors, as far as they would bring their kings by dragging them in chains / fetters. And Allah would forgive those warriors (by the Blessing of this great war). And when those Muslims would return, they would find Hazrat Isa Ibn-e-Maryam(a.s.) in Syria”.
It may be appreciated that this above quoted hadith is not included in ‘sehah Sitta’, though Naeem bin Hammad (r.a) quoted this hadith in his book ‘Kitab ul Fitan’ and Ishaq bin Rahuya(R) also quoted this hadith in his ‘Musnad’, with few additions.
Even if this ‘hadith’ is to be relied, it should not convey the theme that India would be conquered only near Qiyamah when Hazrat Isa (a.s) would descend on this earth. We know that Muslims have conquered India many times in the past, and Muslims may conquer India many times in the future before Qiyamah. We do not have to wait for Qiyamah to conquer India. But, of course, it may be so that for the last time we would conquer India near Qiyamah. It may also be appreciated this hadith also states about forgiveness of those who would have participated in the expedition.
The fourth hadith, relating to Ghazwa e Hind, narrated by Hazrat Kaab (r.a) states as follow:
“A King of Jerusalem (Bait-ul-Muqaddas) would make troops move forward towards India. The warriors would destroy the land of Hind; would possess its treasures, then King would use those treasures for the décor of Jerusalem. That troops would bring the Indian kings in front of King (of Jerusalem). His warriors by King’s order would conquer all the area between East & West. And would stay in India till the issue of Dajjal”.
This above quoted hadith is also not included in ‘Sehah Sitta’ though Naeem bin Hammad(r.a), the teacher of Imam Bukhari(r.a) did narrate this hadith in his book ‘Kitab- ul-Fitan’.
The fifth hadith, relating to Ghazwa e Hind, and narrated by Hazrat Safwan (r.a) states as below:
“Some people of my Ummah will fight India, Allah would grant them success, even they would find the Indian kings being trapped in fetters. Allah would forgive those warriors. When they would move towards Syria, then would find Isa Ibn-e-Maryam(A.S.) over there”.
This hadith also is not included in ‘Sehah Sitta’ but has been quoted by Naeem bin Hammad in his book ‘Al-fitan’.
Both fourth and fifth ‘hadith’ endorse each other to the extent that India would be conquered by Muslims at some point of time in the future. This hadith also states that the warriors taking part in the expedition would be forgiven by Allah.
We may conclude that out of five ‘ahadith’ and their various versions quoted above, four ‘ahadith’ state about forgiveness of those warriors who would take part in battles against India. Moreover, all these ‘ahadith’ state about Muslims’ battles against India and some ‘ahadith’ state about conquest of India by the Muslims near Qiyamah but it does not mean that we cannot conquer India until near Qiyamah; we have conquered India many times in the past, and we can conquer India many times in the future before Qiyamah.