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Book 5 – Mahometans – From the Commencement of the Arab Conquests to the Establishment of a Mahometan Government in India

Chapter 1 – Arab Conquests

Rise of the Mahometan religion

The attacks either of Greeks or Barbarians had hitherto made no impression beyond the frontiers of India, and the Hindus might have long remained undisturbed by foreign intrusion, if a new spirit had not been kindled in a nation till now as sequestered as their own. The Arabs had been protected from invasion by their poverty, and prevented, by the same cause, from any such united exertion as might have enabled them to carry their arms abroad. Their country was composed of some mountain tracts and rich oases, separated or surrounded by a sandy desert, like the coasts and islands of a sea. The desert was scattered with small camps of predatory herdsmen, who pitched their tents where they could quench their thirst at a well of brackish water, and drove their camels over extensive tracts

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where no other animal could have found a subsistence.

The settled inhabitants, though more civilised, were scarcely less simple in their habits, and were formed into independent tribes, between whom there could be little communication except by rapid journeys on horseback, or tedious marches under the protection of caravans.

The representative of the common ancestor of each tribe possessed a natural authority over it; but, having no support from any external power, he could only carry his measures by means of the heads of subordinate divisions, who depended, in their turn, on their influence with the members of the family of which they represented the progenitor.

The whole government was therefore conducted by persuasion; and there was no interference with personal independence, unless it directly affected the general interest.

Such a country must have trained its inhabitants to the extremes of fatigue and privation; the feuds of so many independent tribes and separate families must have made them familiar with danger in its most trying forms; and the violent passions and fervid imagination which they had from nature served to call forth the full exertion of any qualities they possessed.

Their laborious and abstemious lives appear in their compact form and their hard and fleshless muscles; while the keenness of their eye, their determined

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countenance, and their grave demeanour, disclose the mental energy which distinguishes them among all other Asiatics.

Such was the nation that gave birth to the false prophet, whose doctrines have so long and so powerfully influenced a vast portion of the human race.

Mahomet, though born of the head family of one of the branches of the tribe of Koresh, appears to have been poor in his youth, and is said to have accompanied his uncle’s camels in some of those long trading journeys which the simplicity and equality of Arab manners made laborious even to the wealthy.

A rich marriage early raised him to independence, and left him to pursue those occupations which were most congenial to his mind.

At this time the bulk of the Arab nation was sunk in idolatry or in worship of the stars, and their morals were under as little check of law as of religion.

The immigration of some Jewish and Christian tribes had, indeed, introduced higher notions both of faith and practice, and even the idolaters are said to have acknowledged a Supreme Being, to whom the other gods were subordinate; but the influence of these opinions was limited, and the slowness of Mahomet’s progress is a sufficient proof that his doctrines were beyond his age.

The dreary aspect of external nature naturally drives an Arab to seek for excitement in contemplation, and in ideas derived from within; and Mahomet

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had particular opportunities of indulging in such reveries during periods of solitude, to which he habitually retired.

His attention may have been drawn to the unity of God by his intercourse with a cousin of his wife’s, who was skilled in Jewish learning, and who is said to have translated the Scriptures from Hebrew into Arabic764; but, however they were inspired, his meditations were so intense that they had brought him to the verge of insanity, before he gave way to the impulse which he felt within him, and revealed to his wife, and afterwards to a few of his family, that he was commissioned by the only God to restore his pure belief and worship765. Mahomet was at this time forty years of age, and three or four more years elapsed before he publicly announced his mission. During the next ten years he endured every species of insult and persecution766; and he might have expired an obscure

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enthusiast, if the gradual progress of his religion, and the death of his uncle and protector, Abu Taleb, had not induced the rulers of Mecca to determine on his death. In this extremity, he fled to Medina, resolved to repel force by force; and, throwing off all the mildness which had hitherto characterised his preaching, he developed the full vigour of his character, and became more eminent for his sagacity and boldness as a leader than he had been for his zeal and endurance as a missionary.

At the commencement of Mahomet’s preaching, he seems to have been perfectly sincere; and, although he was provoked by opposition to support his pretensions by fraud, and in time became habituated to hypocrisy and imposture, yet it is probable that, to the last, his original fanaticism continued, in part at least, to influence his actions.

But, whatever may have been the reality of his zeal, and even the merit of his doctrine, the spirit of intolerance in which it was preached, and the bigotry and bloodshed which it engendered and perpetuated, must place its author among the worst enemies of mankind.

Up to his flight to Medina, Mahomet had uniformly disclaimed force as an auxiliary to his cause. He now declared that he was authorised to have recourse to arms in his own defence; and, soon

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after, that he was commanded to employ them for the conversion or extermination of unbelievers.

This new spirit seems to have agreed well with that of his countrymen; for, though he had but nine followers on his first military expedition, yet before his death, which happened in the twenty-third year of his mission, and the tenth after his flight767, he had brought all Arabia under his obedience, and had commenced an attack on the dominions of the Roman emperor.

But it was not to a warlike spirit alone that he was indebted for his popularity. He was a reformer as well as a conqueror. His religion was founded on the sublime theology of the Old Testament; and, however his morality may appear to modern Christians, it was pure compared with the contemporary practice of Arabia. His law, also, which prohibited retaliation without the previous sanction of a trial and sentence, was a bold attempt to bridle the vindictive passions of his countrymen, so long fostered by the practice of private war.

The conversion of the. Arabs, therefore, was probably as sincere as it was general; and their religious spirit being now thoroughly aroused, every feeling of their enthusiastic nature was turned into that one channel: to conquer in the cause of God, or to die in asserting his unity and greatness, was the longing wish of every Mussulman; the love of power or spoil, the thirst of glory, and even the

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hopes of Paradise, only contributed to swell the tide of this absorbing passion.

The circumstances, both political and religious, of the neighbouring countries, were such as to encourage the warmest hopes of these fanatical adventurers.

The Roman empire was broken and dismembered by the Barbarians; and Christianity was degraded by corruptions, and weakened by the controversies of irreconcileable sects. Persia was sinking in the last stage of internal decay; and her cold and lifeless superstition required only the touch of opposition to bring it to the ground768. In this last country, at least, the religion of the Arabs must have contributed to their success almost as much as their arms. The conversion of Persia was as complete as its conquest; and, in later times, its example spread the religion of the Arabs among powerful nations who were beyond the utmost influence of their power769.

Mahomet’s attack on the Roman empire was in the direction of Syria; and, within six years after his death770, that province and Egypt had been subdued

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by his successors. Roman Africa771 and Spain772 followed in succession; and, within a century from the death of their founder, the Mahometans had pushed their conquests into the heart of France773.

Conquest of Persia

These extensive operations did not retard their enterprises towards the East. Persia was invaded in AD 632; her force was broken in the great battle of Cadesia in AD 636; and, after two more battles774, her government was entirely destroyed, and her king driven into exile beyond the Oxus.

At the death of the second calif, Omar775, the whole of Persia as far east as Herat, nearly coextensive with the present kingdom, was annexed to the Arab empire.

650, AH 30

In the year 650, an insurrection in Persia induced the exiled monarch to try his fortune once more. His attempt failed: he was himself cut off in the neighbourhood of the Oxus; and the Arab frontier was advanced to that river, including Balkh and all the country north of the range of Hindu Cush.

651, AH 31 Extended to the Indus

The boundary on the east was formed by the rugged tract which extends (north and south) from those mountains to the sea, and (east and west) from the Persian desert to the Indus.

The northern portion of the tract which is included

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in the branches of Hindu Cush, and is now inhabited by the Eimaks and Hazarehs, was then known by the name of the mountains of Ghor. The middle part seems all to have been included in the mountains of Soliman. The southern portion was known by the name of the mountains of Mecran.

There is a slip of sandy desert between these last mountains and the sea; and the mountains of Soliman inclose many high-lying plains, besides one tract of that description (extending west from the neighbourhood of Ghazni) which nearly separates them from the mountains of Ghor.

At the time of the Mahometan invasion the mountains of Mecran were inhabited by Beloches, and those of Soliman by Afghans; as is the state of things to this day.

Who were in possession of the mountains of Ghor is not so certain; but there is every reason to think they were Afghans. The other mountains connected with the same range as those of Ghor, but situated to the east of the range of Imaus and Soliman, were probably inhabited by Indians, descendants of the Paropamisadae.

With respect to the plains, if we may judge from the present state of the population, those between the Soliman and Mecran mountains and the Indus were inhabited by Indians, and those in the upper country, to the west of those mountains, by Persians.

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The first recorded invasion of this unsubdued tract was in the year of the Hijra 44, when an Arab force from Merv penetrated to Cabul, and made converts of 12,000 persons776.

The prince of Cabul, also, must have been made tributary, if not subject, for his revolt is mentioned as the occasion of a fresh invasion of his territories in 62 of the Hijra777.

On this occasion the Arabs met with an unexpected check: they were drawn into a defile, defeated, and compelled to surrender, and to purchase their freedom by an ample ransom. One old contemporary of the Prophet is said to have disdained all compromise, and to have fallen by the swords of the infidels778.

The disgrace was immediately revenged by the Arab governor of Sistan; it was more completely effaced in the year 80 of the Hijra, when Abdurehman, governor of Khorasan, led a large army in person against Cabul, and, avoiding all the snares laid for him by the enemy, persevered until he had reduced the greater part of the country to submission. His success did not-afford satisfaction to his superior, and the notice taken of it led to results beyond the sphere in which it originated.

Abdurehman, as well as all the generals in Persia, was under the control of the governor of Basra, who at that time was Hejaj, so noted in Arabian

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history for his furious and sanguinary disposition. This person is said to have remarked, after an interview with Abdurehman, that he was a handsome man, but that he never looked on him without feeling a violent inclination to cut his throat. These kindly feelings led to so bitter a censure on this occasion, that Abdurehman, stung with the unmerited reproaches of his chief, and perhaps apprehending more serious effects from his hatred, immediately made an alliance with his late enemy the prince of Mid, and, assembling a numerous army, appeared in open rebellion, not only against the governor but the calif779. He marched through Persia, defeated Hejaj, and took Basra, after which he continued his march and took possession of Cilia, lately the capital of the empire. But fresh succours being continually sent by the calif780, who then resided at Damascus, he was at length defeated, and after a struggle of two years was obliged to fly to his old government, and was on the point of being made prisoner in Sistan, when he was relieved by his ally the prince of Cabul781. He again assembled a force, and renewed his opposition, until, after repeated failures, he was constrained to take refuge at Cabul. His friend’s fidelity was not proof against so many trials; sand in the sixth year of the revolt he was obliged to save himself

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from being given up to his enemies by a voluntary death782.

During all this time Ferishta represents the Afghans to have been Mussulmans, and seems to have been led, by their own traditions, to believe that they had been converted in the time of the Prophet himself. He represents them as invading the territory of. the Hindus as early as the year 63 of the Hijra, and as being ever after engaged in hostilities with the raja of Lahor, until, in conjunction with the Gakkars (a people on the hills east of the Indus), they brought him to make them a cession of territory, and in return secretly engaged to protect him from the attacks of the other Mussulmans. It was owing to this compact, says Ferishta, that the princes of the house of Samani

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never invaded the north of India, but confined their predatory excursions to Sind.

He also mentions that the Afghans gave an asylum to the remains of the Arabs who were driven out of Sind in the second century of the Hijra.

Setting aside the fable of their connection with the Prophet, this account does not appear improbable. The Afghans, or a part of them, may have been early converted, although not conquered until the time of Sultan Mahmud.

In the accessible parts of their country, especially on the west, they may have been early reduced to submission by the Arabs; but there are parts of the mountains where they can hardly be said to be entirely subdued even to this day.

We know nothing of their early religion, except the presumption, arising from the neighbourhood of Balkh and their connection with Persia, that they were worshippers of fire. Mahometan historians afford no light, owing to their confounding all denominations of infidels.

First incursion into India, 664

The first appearance of the Mahometans in India was in the year of the Hijra 44, at the time of their first expedition to Cabul.

Mohalib, afterwards an eminent commander in Persia and Arabia, was detached, on that occasion, from the invading army, and penetrated to Multan, from whence he brought back many prisoners. It is probable that his object was only to explore the intermediate country, and that his report was not

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encouraging: from whatever cause, no further attempt was made on the north of India during the continuance of the Arab rule.

Conquest of Sind by the Arabs

The next invasion was of a more permanent nature. It was carried on from the south of Persia into the country at the mouth of the Indus, then subject to a Hindu prince, called Dahir by the Mussulmans, whose capital was at Alor near Bakkar, and who was in possession of Multan and all Sind, with, perhaps, the adjoining plain of the Indus as far as the mountains at Calabagh. His territory was portioned out among his relations, probably on the feudal tenure still common with the Rajputs783.

Arab descents on Sind by sea are mentioned as early as the califate of Omar; but, if they ever took place, they were probably piratical expeditions for the purpose of carrying off the women of the country, whose beauty seems to have been much esteemed in Arabia784.

Several detachments were also sent through the south of Mecran during the reigns of the early califs, but seem all to have failed from the desert

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character of the country; which was that so well known under the name of Gedrosia, for the sufferings of Alexander’s army.

711, AH 92

At length, in the reign of the calif Walid, the Mussulman government was provoked to a more strenuous exertion. An Arab ship having been seized at Dival or Dewal, a sea port connected with Sind, Raja Whir was called on for restitution. He declined compliance on the ground that Dewal was not subject to his authority: his excuse was not admitted by the Mussulmans; and they sent a body of 1000 infantry and 300 horse to enforce their demand. This inadequate detachment having perished like its predecessors, Hejaj, the governor of Basra, prepared a regular army of 6000 men at Shiraz, and gave the command of it to his own nephew, Mohammed Casim, then not more than twenty years of age; and by him it was conducted in safety to the walls of Dewal. Casim was provided with catapultas and other engines required for a siege, and commenced his operations by an attack on a temple contiguous to the town. It was a celebrated pagoda, surrounded by a high inclosure of hewn stone (like those which figure in our early wars in the Carnatic), and was occupied, in addition to the numerous Bramin inhabitants, by a strong garrison of Rajputs.

While Casim was considering the difficulties opposed to him, he was informed by some of his prisoners that the safety of the place was believed to depend on the flag which was displayed on

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the tower of the temple. He directed his engines against that sacred standard, and at last succeeded in bringing it to the ground; which occasioned so much dismay in the garrison as to cause the speedy fall of the place.

Casim at first contented himself with circumcising all the Bramins; but, incensed at their rejection of this sort of conversion, he ordered all above the age of seventeen to be put to death, and all under it, with the women, to be reduced to slavery. The fall of the temple seems to have led to that of the town, and a rich booty was obtained, of which a fifth (as in all similar cases) was reserved for Hejaj, and the rest equally divided. A son of Dahir’s, who was in Dewal, either as master or as an ally, retreated, on the reduction of that city, to Brimanabad, to which place, according to Ferishta, he was followed by the conqueror, and compelled to surrender on terms. Casim then advanced on Netim (now Heiderabad), and thence upon Sehwan, of which he undertook the siege785.

Notwithstanding the natural strength of Sehwan, it was evacuated at the end of seven days, the garrison flying to a fortress called Salim, which was likewise speedily reduced.

Thus far Casim’s progress had met with little serious opposition. He was now confronted by a powerful army under the command of the raja’s eldest son; and his carriage cattle failing about the

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same time, he was constrained to take post, and to wait for reinforcements, and a renewal of his equipments. He was joined in time by 2000786 horse from Persia, and was enabled to renew his operations, and to advance, though not without several indecisive combats, to the neighbourhood of Alor itself.

Here he found himself opposed to the raja in person, who advanced to defend his capital at the head of an army of 50,000 men; and, being impressed with the dangers of his situation, from the disproportion of his numbers, and the impossibility of retreat in case of failure, he availed himself of the advantage of the ground, and awaited the attack of the Hindus in a strong position which he had chosen. His prudence was seconded by a piece of good fortune. During the heat of the attack which was made on him, a fire-ball struck the raja’s elephant, and the terrified animal bore its master off the field, and could not be stopped until it had plunged into the neighbouring river. The disappearance of the chief produced its usual effect on Asiatic armies; and although Dahir, already wounded with an arrow, mounted his horse and renewed the battle with unabated courage, he was unable to restore the fortune of the day, and fell fighting gallantly in the midst of the Arabian cavalry787.

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The pusillanimity of the rajah’s son, who fled to Bramanabad, was compensated by the masculine spirit of his widow. She collected the remains of the routed army, put the city into a posture of defence, and maintained it against the attacks of the enemy, until the failure of provisions rendered it impossible to hold out longer. In this extremity her resolution did not desert her, and the Rajput garrison, inflamed by her example, determined to devote themselves along with her, after the manner of their tribe. The women and children were first sacrificed in flames of their own kindling; the men bathed, and, with other ceremonies, took leave of each other and of the world; the gates were then thrown open, the Rajputs rushed out sword in band, and, throwing themselves on the weapons of their enemies, perished to a man.

Those of the garrison who did not share in this act of desperation gained little by their prudence: the city was carried by assault, and all the men in arms were slaughtered in the storm. Their families were reduced to bondage788.

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One more desperate stand was made at Ashcandra789, after which Multan seems to have fallen without resistance, and the Mahometans pursued their success unopposed, until they had occupied every part of the dominions of Raja Dahir790.

Their treatment of the conquered country showed the same mixture of ferocity and moderation which characterised the early conquests of the Arabs.

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On the first invasion, each city was called on, as the army approached, to embrace the Mahometan religion, or to pay tribute. In case of refusal, the city was attacked, and if it did not capitulate, all the fighting men were put to death, and their families were sold for slaves. Four cities held out to this extremity; and in two of them, the number of soldiers who were refused quarter is estimated at 6000 each. The merchants, artizans, and other inhabitants of such places, were exempt from all molestation, except such as we must conclude they suffered when a town was stormed.

When tribute was once agreed to, whether voluntarily or by compulsion, the inhabitants were entitled to all their former privileges, including the free exercise of their religion. When a sovereign consented to pay tribute, he retained his territory, and only became subject to the usual relations of a tributary prince.

One question relating to toleration seemed so nice, that Casim thought it necessary to refer it to Arabia. In the towns that were stormed, the temples had been rased to the ground, religious worship had been forbidden, and the lands and stipends of the Bramins had been appropriated to the use of the state. To reverse these acts, when once performed, seemed a more direct concession to idolatry than merely abstaining from interference, and Casim avowed himself uncertain what to do. The answer was, that as the people of the towns in question had paid tribute, they were entitled to

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all the privileges of subjects; that they should be allowed to rebuild their temples and perform their rites; that the land and money of the Bramins should be restored; and that three per cent. on the revenue, which had been allowed to them by the Hindu government, should be continued by the Mussulman.

Casim himself, notwithstanding his extreme youth, seems to have been prudent and conciliating. He induced several of the Hindu princes to join with him during the war, and at the conclusion he appointed the Hindu who had been Dahir’s prime minister to the same office under him, on the express ground that he would be best qualified to protect old rights, and to maintain established institutions791.

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The Mahometan writers assert that Casim had begun to plan a march to Canouj on the Ganges, and an almost contemporary historian792 states that he had reached a place which seems to mean Oudipur; but as he had only 6000 men at first, which the 2000 recruits afterwards received would not do more than keep up to their original number, it is inconceivable that he should have projected such an expedition, even if he could have left Sind without an army of occupation.

In the midst of his projects a sudden reverse was awaiting him. The Mahometan historians concur in relating that among the numerous female captives in Sind were two daughters of Raja Dahir, who, from their rank and their personal charms, were thought worthy of being presented to the Commander of the Faithful793. They were accordingly sent to the court and introduced into the harem. When the eldest was brought into the presence of the calif, whose curiosity had been stimulated by reports of her attractions, she burst into a flood of tears, and exclaimed that she was now unworthy of his notice, having been dishonoured by Casim before she was sent out of her own country. The Calif was moved by her beauty, and enraged at the insult offered to him by his servant; and, giving way to the first impulse of his resentment, he sent orders that Casim should be sewed up in a raw hide, and sent in that condition

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to Damascus. When his orders were executed, he produced the body to the princess, who was overjoyed at the sight, and exultingly declared to the astonished calif that Casim was innocent, but that she had now revenged the death of her father and the ruin of her family794.

Their expulsion 714, AH 96

The advance of the Mahometan arms ceased with the life of Casim. His conquests were made over to his successor Temim, in the hands of whose family they remained till the downfal of the house of Ommeia, that is, for about thirty-six years;

750, AH 132

when, by some insurrection of which we do not know the particulars, the Mussulmans were expelled by the Rajput tribe of Sumera, and all their Indian conquests restored to the Hindus, who retained possession for nearly 500 years795.

Causes of the slow progress of the Mahometans in India

It seems extraordinary that the Arabs, who had reached to Multan during their first ardour for conquest and conversion, should not have overrun India as easily as they did Persia, and should now allow themselves to be beaten out of a province where they had once a firm footing; but the condition of the two countries was not the same; and, although the proverbial riches of India, and the inoffensive character of its inhabitants, seemed to invite an invader, yet there were discouraging

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circumstances, which may not have been without effect even on the blind zeal of the Arabs.

In Persia, the religion and government, though both assailed, afforded no support to each other. The priests of the worshippers of fire are among the most despised classes of the people796. Their religion itself has nothing inspiring or encouraging. The powers of good and evil are so equally matched, that the constant attention of every man is necessary to defend himself by puerile ceremonies against the malignant spirits from whom his deity is too weak to protect him797.

To the believers of such a faith, uninfluenced as they were by a priesthood, the annunciation ofone God, the most powerful and the most merciful,” must have appeared like a triumph of the good principle; and when the overthrow of a single monarch had destroyed the civil government in all its branches, there remained no obstacle to the completion of the conquest and conversion of the nation.

But in India there was a powerful priesthood, closely connected with the government and deeply revered by their countrymen; and a religion interwoven with the laws and manners of the people, which exercised an irresistible influence over their

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very thoughts. To this was joined a horror of change, and a sort of passive courage, which is perhaps the best suited to allow time for an impetuous attack to spend its force. Even the divisions of the Hindus were in their favour: the downfal of one raja only removed a rival from the prince who was next behind; and the invader diminished his numbers, and got further from his resources, without being able to strike a blow which might bring his undertaking to a conclusion.

However these considerations may have weighed with the early invaders, they deserve the greatest attention from the inquirer, for it is principally to them that we must ascribe the slow progress of the Mahometan religion in India, and the comparatively mild and tolerant form which it assumed in that country.

At the time of the transactions which we are now relating, there were other causes which tended to delay the progress of the Mahometans. The spirit of their government was gradually altered. Their chiefs from fanatical missionaries became politic sovereigns, more intent on the aggrandisement of their families than the propagation of their faith; and by the same degrees they altered from rude soldiers to magnificent and luxurious princes, who had other occupations besides war, and other pleasures as attractive as those of victory. Omar set out to his army at Jerusalem with his arms and provisions on the same camel with himself; and Othman extinguished his lamp, when he had

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finished the labours of the day, that the public oil might not be expended on his enjoyments. Al Mandi, within a century from the last named calif, loaded 500 camels with ice and snow; and the profusion of one day of the Abbassides would have defrayed sail the expenses of the four first califs. The translation of the Greek philosophers by Al Mamun was an equally wide departure from the spirit which led to the story of the destruction of the library at Alexandria by Omar.

For these reasons the eastern conquests of the Arabs ceased with the transactions which we have just related; and the next attacks on India were made by other nations, to whose history we have now to turn.

Tartar nations 651, AH 31

When the Arabs had conquered Persia, as before related, their possessions were divided by the Oxus from a territory to which, from that circumstance, they gave the name of Mawar ul Nahr, literally Beyond the River; or, as we translate it, Transoxiana. This tract was bounded on the north by the Jaxartes, on the west by the Caspian Sea, and on the east by Mount Imaus. Though large portions of it are desert, others are capable of high cultivation; and, while it was in the hands of the Arabs, it seems not to have been surpassed in prosperity by the richest portions of the globe. It was occupied partly by fixed inhabitants and partly by pastoral tribes. Most of the fixed inhabitants were Persians, and all the moving shepherds were Tartars. Such is likewise the state

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of things at present, and probably has been from remote antiquity798.

The great influence which the Tartars799 of Transoxiana have exercised over the history of the neighbouring nations, and of India, makes us anxious to know something of their origin and former state; but we soon meet with many difficulties in following up the inquiry. It would be an important step to ascertain to which of the three great nations whom we include under the name of Tartars they belonged; but, although the Turks, Moguls, and Manchus are distinguished from each other by the decisive test of language, and though at present they are each marked by other peculiarities, yet there is a general resemblance in features and manners throughout the whole, which renders it difficult for a person at a distance to draw the line between them; even their languages, though as different as Greek and Shanscrit, have the same degree of family likeness with those two800.

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In making the attempt, we derive little aid from their geographical position. At present the Manchus are in the east, the Moguls in the centre, and the Turks in the west; but the positions of the two last named races have been partially reversed within the period of accurate history, and it is impossible to say what they may have been in still earlier ages. The Arabs and other wandering tribes in the south of Asia make long journeys, for fresh pastures or for change of climate, but each has some tract which it considers as its own, and many occupy the same in which they were found when first noticed by other nations. Not so the Tartars, who have always been formed into great monarchies; and, besides migration for convenience within their own limits, have been led by ambition to general movements, and have been constantly expelling or subduing each other; so that they not only were continually changing their abodes, but forming new combinations and passing under new names according to that of the horde which had acquired a predominancy. A tribe is at one moment mentioned on the banks of the Wolga, and the next at the great wall of China; and a horde which at first scarcely filled a valley in the mountains of Altai, in a few years after cannot be contained in all Tartary.

It is, therefore, as impossible to keep the eye on a particular horde, and to trace it through all this shifting and mixing, as to follow one emmet through the turmoil of an ant hill.

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The Turks at present are distinguished from the rest by their having the Tartar features less marked, as well as by fairer complexions and more civilised manners; and these qualities might afford the means of recognising them at all times, if we could be sure that they did not owe them entirely to their greater opportunities of intermixing with other races, and that the same superiority was not possessed in former times by portions of the other Tartars which may have then occupied the western territory801.

It may assist in distinguishing these races, to mention that the Uzbeks who now possess Transoxiana, the Turcmans both on the Oxus and in Asia Minor, the wandering tribes of the north of

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Persia, and the Ottomans or Turks of Constantinople, are all Turks; as was the greater part of the army of Tamerlane. The ruling tribe, and the greater part of the army of Chengiz Khan, was Mogul.

Turks in Transoxiana

On the whole, I should suppose that a portion of the Turks had settled in Transoxiana long before the Christian aera; that though often passed over by armies and emigrations of Moguls, they had never since been expelled; and that they formed the bulk of the Nomadic and part of the permanent population at the time of the Arab invasion802.

The ruling tribe at that time was, however, of much later arrival; they were probably Turks themselves, and certainly had just before been incorporated with an assemblage, in which that race took the lead, and which, although it had been tributary to Persia only a century before803, had since possessed an ephemeral empire, extending from the Caspian Sea and the Oxus, to the Lake Baikal, and the mouths of the Yanisei in Siberia804, and were now again broken into small divisions and tributary to China805.

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Arab conquest of Transoxiana 670–712, AH 87–93

It was fifty-five years after the final conquest of Persia, and five years before the occupation of Sind, that the Arabs crossed the Oxus, under Catiba, governor of Khorasan. He first occupied Hisar, opposite Balkh. In the course of the next six years he had taken Samarcand and Bokhara, overrun the country north of the Oxus, and subdued the kingdom of Kharizm, on the Lake of Aral806; and although his power was not introduced without a severe contest, often with doubtful success, against the Turks, yet in the end it was so well established, that by the eighth year he was able to reduce the kingdom of Ferghana, and extend his acquisitions to Mount Imaus and the Jaxartes.

713, AH 94

The conquest of Spain took place in the same year; and the Arab empire had now reached the greatest extent to which it ever attained.

But it had already shown symptoms of internal decay which foreboded its dismemberment at no distant period.

658, AH 38

Even in the first half century of the Hijra, the murder of Othman and the incapacity of Ali led to a successful revolt, and the election of a calif beyond the limits of Arabia. The house of Ommeia, who were thus raised to the califate, were disturbed during their rule of ninety years by the supposed rights of the posterity of the Prophet through his daughter Fatima, whose claims

Page 520

afforded a pretext in every case of revolt or defection; until, in AD 750, the rebellion of the great province of Khorasan gave the last blow to their power, and placed the descendants of Abbas, the Prophet’s uncle, on the throne.

Spain held out for the old dynasty, and the integrity of the empire was never restored.


764. His name was Warka ben Naufel. See theTarikhi Tabari,” quoted by Colonel Kennedy in the Bombay Literary Transactions, vol. iii. p. 423.; Preliminary Discourse to Sale’sKoran,” p. 43. of the first quarto; and Baron Hammer von Purgstall, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, No. VII. p. 172.

765. See Colonel Kennedy, just quoted. TheTarikhi Tabari” was written in the third century of the Hijra (from 800 to 900, AD), and is the earliest account accessible to European readers of the rise of the Mahometan religion. Its description of the mental agitation of Mahomet, his fancied visions, and his alarm at the alienation of his own reason, bear the liveliest marks of truth and nature.

766. “He allowed himself to be abused, to be spit upon, to have dust thrown upon him, and to be dragged out of the temple by his own turban fastened to his neck.” (Colonel Kennedy, Bombay Literary Transactions, vol. iii. p. 429.)

767. 732.

768. The temporal power acquired by the false prophet Mazdak, who nearly enslaved the king and people of Persia, shows the state of religious feeling in that country shortly before the birth of Mahomet.

769. The text refers particularly to the Tartar nations; but China, the Malay country, and the Asiatic islands are further proofs of the extension of the religion of the Must/Imam, independent of their arms.

770. 638.

771. From 647 to 709.

772. 713.

773. The defeat of the Mussulmans by Charles Martel took place in 732, between Poitiers and Tours.

774. Jalkilla in 637, Nehawend in 642.

775. 644. Hijra 23.

776. 664. (Briggs’s Ferishta, vol. i. p. 4.)

777. 682. (Ibid. p. 5.)

778. Price, from the Kholasat al Akhbar, vol. i. p. 454.

779. 699, Hijra 80.

780. Abdelmelek, one of the califs of the house of Ommeia.

781. 702, Hijra 83.

782. TheKholasat al Akhbar” and theTarikhi Tabari,” quoted by Price (vol. i. pp. 455–163.). The whole story of Abdurehman is omitted by Ferishta; but it rests on too good authorities, and is too circumstantial and too much interwoven with the general history of the califs, to allow us to doubt the truth of it. There are various’ opinions about the nation of the prince of Cabul, which is rendered doubtful from the situation of his city, at a corner where the countries of the Paropamisan Indians, the Afghans, the Persians, and the Tartars are closely adjoining to each other. It is very improbable that he was an Afghan, as Caul is never known to have been possessed by a tribe of that nation; and I should suppose he was a Persian, both from the present population of his country, and from the prince of Cabul being often mentioned by Ferdousi (who wrote at Ghazni), as engaged in war and friendship with the Persian heroes, without anything to lead us to suppose that he belonged to another race.

783. Briggs’s Ferishta, vol. iv. p. 401, &c. See also Captain McMurdo, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, No. I. p. 36. Abulfazl makes Dahir’s dominions include Cashmir; but that country was then in possession of one of its greatest rajas; for whom, like all considerable Hindu princes, his historians claim the conquest of all India. Sind is almost the only part of it with which they pretend to no connection. The native accounts quoted by Captain Pottinger (p. 386.) extend the dominions of Sind to Cabul and Marwar; and those given to Captain Burnes (vol. iii. p. 76.) add Candahar and Canouj.

784. Pottinger, p. 388.

785. See Captain McMurdo, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, No. I. pp. 30. 32.

786. Tarikhi Hind o Sind.

787. This battle must have taken place on the left bank of the Indus, though there is no particular account of Casim’s crossing that river. He first approached the right or western bank at a place called Rawer. The Hindus drew up on the opposite bank, and many movements were made on both sides before a passage was effected. The places. named on those occasions are Jiwar, Bet, and Rawer as above mentioned. It seems to have been after crossing that Casim drew up his army at Jehem and Gogand, and before the battle he was at Sagara, a dependency of Jehem. These places are not now in the maps. (Tarikhi Hind o Sind.)

788. Briggs’s Ferishta, vol. iv. p. 409.; Tod’s Rajasthan, vol. i. p. 327.

789. Pottinger, p. 390.; McMurdo, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, No. I. p. 31.

790. Dewal was probably somewhere near Korachi, the present sea port of Sind. It could not be at Tatta, as supposed by Ferishta, because that city, though the great port for the river navigation, is inaccessible from the sea; the bar at the mouth of the river rendering the entrance impracticable, except for flat-bottomed boats (see Captain McMurdo, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, p. 29., and Burnes’s Travels, vol. iii. p. 242., with the whole of his description of the mouths of the Indus, in Chap. IV.). The site of Bramanabad is generally supposed to be marked by the ruins close to the modern town of Tatta. (Burnes, vol. iii. p. 31., and the opinions of the natives stated by Captain McMurdo in a note, in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, No. I. p. 28.) Captain McMurdo is singular in supposing it to have been situated on the other side of the present course of the Indus, much to the north-east of Tatta; though this position would make it a more natural retreat for the son of Dahir after his flight from Alor. There were, perhaps, two different places, – Brahmanabad and Brahmans. Sehwan still retains its name, and the ruins of Aror (universally recognised as the ancient capital of Shia) were visited by Captain Burnes, close to Bakkar on the Indus. (Travels, vol. iii. p. 76.) There are some doubts about particular marches of Mohammed Casim, especially about the site of Salim, and the point where he crossed the Indus; but there is no obscurity about his general progress. Briggs’sFerishtacalls the scene of the great battle and siege Ajdar; but this is probably an error of the copyist for Aror, which is a very common name for Alor.

791. Tarikhi Hind o Sind, Persian MS. I did not see this work, which is in the library at the India House, until the narrative of Casim’s military transactions had been completed. It seems to be the source from which most of the other accounts are drawn. In its present form it was written by Mohammed Ali Bin Hamid, in Hijra 613, 1216; but it professes to be a translation of an Arabic work found in the possession of the Cazi of Bakkar; and the original must have been written immediately after the event, as it constantly refers, by name, to the authority of living witnesses. Though loaded with tedious speeches, and letters ascribed to the principal actors, it contains a minute and consistent account of the transactions during Mohammed Casim’s invasion, and some of the preceding Hindu reigns. It is full of names of places, and would throw much light on the geography of that period, if examined by any person capable of ascertaining the ancient Shanscrit names, so as to remove the corruptions of the original Arab writer and the translator, besides the innumerable errors of the copyist.

792. Tarikhi Hind o Sind.

793. Walid, the sixth calif of the house of Ommeia.

794. Briggs’s Ferishta, vol. iv. p. 410.; Ayeni Akberi, vol. ii. p. 119.; Pottinger’s Travels, p. 389.

795. Briggs’s Ferishta, vol. iv. p. 411.; Ayeni Akberi, vol. ii. p. 120. Part of the expelled Arabs found a settlement among the Afghans. (Ferishta, vol. i. p. 7.)

796. For a very curious comparison of the ancient and modern tenets of the magi, see Mr. Erskine’s Essay on the Sacred Books and Religion of the Parsis, in the Transactions of the Bombay Literary Society, vol. ii. p. 295.

797. Ibid. p. 335.

798. See Erskine’s Baber, Introduction, p. xliii., and Heeren, Researches in Asia, vol. i. p. 260. The language at the time of the Arab conquest was Persian, of which a remarkable proof, dated in the year 94 of the Hijra (716), is given by Captain Burnes. (Travels, vol. ii. pp. 269. 856.

799. I use the words Tartar and Tartary solely in their European sense, as a general term for a certain great tract and great assemblage of nations. The word in this sense is as little known to the people to whom it applies as Asia, Africa, and America are to the original inhabitants of those quarters of the globe; but is equally convenient for the purpose of generalisation.

800. See Dr. Prichard on the Ethnography of Upper Asia, Transactions of the Royal Geographical Society, vol. ix.

801. The Turks of Constantinople and Persia have so completely lost the Tartar features, that some physiologists have pronounced them to belong to the Caucasian or European, and not to the Tartar, race. The Turks of Bokhara and all Transoxiana, though so long settled among Persians, and though greatly softened in appearance, retain their original features sufficiently to be recognisable at a glance as Tartars. De Guignes, from the state of information in his time, was seldom able to distinguish the Tartar nations; but on one point he is decided and consistent, viz. that the Heoung-nou is another name for the Turks. Among the Heoung-nou he places, without hesitation, Attila, and the greater part of his army. Yet these Turks, on their appearance in Europe, struck as much terror from their hideous physiognomy and savage manners as from their victories. Attila himself was remarkable for these national peculiarities. (Gibbon, vol. iii. p. 35. quarto.) Another division of the same branch of the Heoung-nou had previously settled among the Persians in Transoxiana, and acquired the name of White Huns, from their change from the national complexion. (De Guignes, vol. ii. pp. 282. 325.)

802. The Arab and Persian Mussulmans always call their neighbours Turks, and (though well aware of the existence of the Moguls) are apt to apply the term Turk as vaguely and generally as we do Tartar. See the whole of this subject ably discussed in the introduction to Erskine’sBaber,” pp. xviii. – xxv.

803. De Guignes, vol. i. part ii. p. 469.

804. Ibid. pp. 477, 478.

805. Ibid. p. 493.

806. Now called Khiva or Organj.

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