Ali was succeeded by the following thirteen Caliphs of the Umeyya dynasty:
(i) Mvavia I, 661-680. (ii) Yazdi I 680-683. (iii) Mvavia II, 683 (iv) Abdul Malik, 683-705. (v) Valid I, 705-714. (vi) Sulaiman, 714-717. (vii) Omar II, 717-720. (viii) Yazdi II 720-723.
(ix) Hisham, 723-742. (x) Valid II, 742. (xi) Yazdi III. (xii) Ibrahim, (xiii) Mervan II, 749.
Until the time of Mervan Mvavia I, the Arabs had not been able to consolidate their hold over Eastern Iran. In 662, Abdulla, the son of Emir succeeded in conquering Khurasan and was made Governor of that province.
After the conquest of Iran, the Arabs seized Khurasan, Balakh and Merv, but the Governors were frequently changed because the successes were short-lived. During the reign of Mvavia, a number of Governors were sent to Central Asia. They were Abdulla, the conqueror of Khurasan; Kais, the son of Hasan; Abdulla son of Khazim; Ziad who was Governor for two years and considered by the Caliph to be his brother; Hakim, who after becoming Governor of Khurasan, attacked Tukharistan and brought under his sway the area south-west of Balakh up to the Hindu Kush.
He was the first general to have been able to cross the Vakhshu, although he was not able to retain his hold over that region. He died in Merv and until the next Governor was appointed, Khulaid administered the area.
In 670, Rabi, the son of Ziad, became the new Governor. As a result of years of Arab rule many Arab families had settled in Khurasan and thus recruits for the army were always ready to hand. Arab soldiers preferred the comforts of the newly-conquered regions to the stern life of the Arabian deserts. Rabi fought against the Turks as well and raided the areas across the Vakhshu.
In 673, Rabi and his lieutenant died. In the Eastern Provinces the lieutenant governors appointed by the Caliph elected the Governor. Abdulla, the son of Rabi, was able to govern for no more than two years.
His son, Khulaid Hanfi, made his son in his turn the lieutenant governor of Pupha, Balakh and Khurasan, but Abdulla deposed Khulaid and proclaimed himself the governor. Before saying anything more about him we shall give a few facts regarding the influence of Islam over the people of the conquered territories.
While the Arabs used the sword to destroy the might of the enemy, Islam was their weapon to unite the vanquished and victors. It was natural for the oppressed and downtrodden classes of Iran to be attracted towards Islam because the Iranian religion, like that of the Hindus, practised untouchability.
Although the Arabs did not accord exactly the same treatment to non-Arab as to the Arab Muslims, the status of the conquered Muslim was far above than that of the non-Muslims of the highest caste among the conquered people.
During the period of the Arab conquests the peasants or landholders were the masters of the village and it was from them that the king’s bodyguards were recruited. The official religion of the Iranian people was Zorastrianism but in Khurasan and other far-off towns there was no official religion and Buddhists, Nestorians and Jews were all to be found in them. The followers of Mazd, who had been expelled from the Zorastrian fold, also took shelter in the outlying provinces where the influence of the official religion was not so strong.
Owing to the trade with China, many wealthy merchants lived in the commercial cities of central Asia. They were not just ordinary merchants, but owners of vast estates and fortified castles.
Although Sogdhia, Fargana and Tukharistan, were peopled by settlers and not by nomads, they valued courage very highly because they had to face the constant incursions of the barbarian nomads from the North. In Samarkand, there was a custom amongst them of keeping food and wine on a pedestal, and he who ate the food and drank the wine was considered to have offered a challenge to all adversaries.
The winner in the contest that ensued was declared the champion for the year. An Arab historian writing in 539 stated, “In arts and craft the Chinese are foremost, in philosophy the Greeks, in administration the Sasanis and in battle the Turks.”
Like the Rajputs of our country the rulers and chieftains of Central Asia, whether Turk or non-Turk, cared little for death. War was for them a sport. But owing to quarrels among themselves they often sided with the Arabs against one another. The Caliph Omar had made it a rule not to allow non-Muslims to wield arms because he could not trust them.
The Arabs were never content with political conquest, but always tried to impose their religion on the conquered peoples. The Hephtals, Scythians and Greeks who had come into Central Asia at an earlier time had tried to compromise with existing religious practices and to absorb the local Deities into their own religion.
But the Arabs had united under the banner of Islam and their campaign of conquest took on the character of a religious war, so that it was religious fanaticism that gave courage to their soldiers.
Hence there was no question in their case of any compromise with existing religions.
But Omar’s behests that “infidels” should not be permitted to hold arms under them were not heeded to in the time of the Caliph Umeyya and his governor Kutaib.
The Arabs preferred to raid and plunder a country repeatedly rather than to establish permanent control over it. Khurasan and Balakh were their main centres of operation.
The historian Tabri narrates that the rulers of numerous small kingdoms of Central Asia, would, whenever threatened by Arab raids, unite and pledge themselves to fight together against the common enemy. But unfortunately the pledge was constantly being broken. Naturally it was not possible for them to stand up to the Arabs single-handed.
Ubaidulla had collected a large army in Iraq (Mesopotamia). Crossing the Vakhshu, he reached the mountains of Bokhara and leading the assault in person -on the back of a camel, he raided Ramtin and Baikund.
The Princess of Bokhara, not daring to face the Arabs, fled to Samarkand, leaving behind in her haste a sandal valued at two lakh dirhams (1 dirhams – 25 grs. of silver ) and ultimately the Princess was forced to agree to pay an annual tribute to the Arabs. The Caliph rewarded Ubaidulla by making him the governor of Basra, but he died soon after.
Syed, the son of Osman, who became the next governor, raided Bokhara in violation of a treaty which he had singned earlier. The Princess had spent all her wealth in the struggle against Ubaidulla and she now had to hand over the city to the Arabs. Samarkand continued however to remain independent.
It was a city that had been established by many wealthy nobles and as a pledge of good behaviour eighty nobles were sent as hostages to Syed, but even he did not spare Samarkand and in the end that city too fell into his hands together with thirty thousand slaves and untold wealth.
The Queen of Samarkand asked for the return of the eighty nobles who were handed over to him as hostages and he promised to send them back across the river, but the nobles were shorn of their insignia and turned into common slaves. Preferring death to this life of ignominy, these eighty slaves slew the treacherous Syed and committed sucide.
After the murder of Syed, Salim, the son of Ziad, was made Governor of Khurasan. At this time a revolt had started in Sogdhia. After the treachery of Syed no one trusted the Arabs. Salim felt it necessary to crush the revolt and, making Merv his headquarters, he crossed the Amu Darya with 6000 spldiers and attacked Bokhara. The Queen of Bokhara offered to marry the Gorak, the Governor of Tarkhan, in return for his help.
Gorak arrived with a large force and wiped out most of the advance guard of the Arab army, but in the clash with the main Arab forces the Turks suffered a severe defeat. Enormous wealth came into the hands of Salim and every Arab soldier received a large sum as prize money.
He spared the Queen of Bokhara and in the two years of his rule he became extremely popular among the local converts. It is reported that some 2000 children born during his governorship were named after him.
The Last Bid for Freedom:
In 709, Kutaib set out on his victory march again. This time he took with him Nizak, the king of the Badgis, and a minister of the king of Tukharistan. Nizak was hoping that Kutaib would be defeated by the Turks, but seeing that the strength of the Arabs was growing day by day, he decided to make a bid for freedom before it was too late. Taking leave of Kutaib on some excuse, he went to Tukharistan and raised the banner of revolt.
He sent for help to Afghanistan, promising to give all his treasure in exchange. He invited the Kings of Balakh, Mervrud, Talikhan and Phariyab to join him in the holy war and Kutaib’s representatives were driven out from Turkharistan. When news of the revolt reached Kutaib his army had already been sent into its winter quarters.
The fierce battle of Tukharistan began in the autumn of 709. For a long time the people of Turkharistan had been struggling against the Arabs whom they felt could not be trusted, since they made and broke treaties without compunction. They outdid the northern nomads in cruelty, while loot and plunder, accompanied by the abduction of girls on a mass scale, were their speciality. Moreover, the Arabs also made it a rule to destroy temples and places of worship, which hurt the religious sentiments of the people, among whom were Buddhists, Zorastrians and Christians.
It became necessary for Kutaib to crush the revolt, or Arab rule should be wiped out of Central Asia. He sent his brother Abdurrahman to Balakh and called up troops from the towns of Atawad, Akharsheher, Surakhsh and Hirat. Collecting his forces in Merv, he first of all defeated the ruler of Mervrud.
The Turks also lost the battle of Talikan and those who survived it were slaughtered by the Arabs. As Kutaib advanced, Pharab and Jazzan quietly surrendered, but as he did not trust the local rulers Kutaib appointed Arab officers to govern these places.
Soon after this Kutaib entered the hills of Khulm. Nizak had encamped meanwhile in Baglan. Advancing like a hurricane, Kutaib came right up to the doors of Nizak’s impregnable fortress and the rulers of Rub and Saminjan revealed the secret passage leading to the fort in return for their lives. The Turks were, therefore, outmanoeuvred and suffered heavy loss.
Nizak managed to flee across the desert to Kerj, the passage to which was so narrow that not even a horse could get through it. Kutaib beseiged the place, but being unable to take it by assault, sent Sulaiman to Nizak to persuade him to surrender. Having exhausted all his stock of food, Nizak agreed to go to Kutaib on condition that his life would be spared.
Kutaib made him prisoner and informed Hazzaj, but after an interval of forty days the reply was received that Nizak should be put to death. As Kutaib had promised to spare his life, he was in a quandary; but- in the -end. he. killed Nizak and his followers and sent Nizak’s head to Hazzaj. Examples of treachery such as this, and betrayal combined with lust for blood had made the Arabs conspiouous throughout Central Asia.
Nizak ‘had left his sovereign, the ruler of Tukharistan, bound with golden chains. Kutaib freed him and sent him to Damascus. When Kutaib returned, the ruler of Juzjan also accepted his suzerainty. The Juzjan ruler sent many of the members of his family as hostages and he himself went to Merv. Kutaib signed a treaty with him, but while he was returning he had him poisoned.
This roused the indignation of the people and they killed Kutaib’s representative, Habib. Kutaib retaliated by killing all the hostages. The same year, Kutaib conquered Suman, Kesh and Nakhshab and sent his brother Abdurrahman to subjugate Tarkhun of Sogdhia. The latter proved a coward and ultimately committed suicide.
Hazzaj now dreamed of adding China to his Empire and declared that any Arab commander who could conquer it would be rewarded with the governorship of the country. Kutaib took this task upon himself. An appeal for help – made by Chugan of Khwarezm against his brother Khorzed, who was threatening him, gave Kutaib the opportunity he was looking for and he marched into Hajarasp. Khorzed was defeated and handed over to Chugan. In gratitude Chugan sent lavish presents to Kutaib and sought his help against another rival of his Khamzard. Kutaib sent his brother Abdurrahman against him. Khamzard was killed and Abdurrahman returned with huge booty and four thousand slaves.
After some time there was another big upheaval in Sogdhia. When Kutaib launched a frontal assault on Samarkand, he met with fierce resistance under the leadership of Ikhshid. The Arabs boasted of a large army, while the Turks were much weaker in the North and the Western Turks were rent with internal quarrels.
The Samarkand ruler asked the king of Shash (Taskent) for help and after a number of fierce clashes, in which the Turks fought with great courage, their resources were exhausted and Gorak had to yield. It was agreed that heavy compensation should be paid to Kutaib and a gang of armed Arabs were sent to destroy the idols and desecrate the shrines of the infidels.
In 712, Kutaib started another campaign with an army that included large contingents from Kesh, Nakhsab and Khwarezm. The flag of Islam was now unfurled in the northernmost limits of Central Asia and after half a century of resistance the Central Asians was forced to bow to the inevitable. The Arabs had mixed with the people during this period and married the local women freely, so that they were no longer the pure Arabs of old.
The mosques erected by Kutaib still stand in Bokhara and Samarkand. A large number of Arabs had settled in Bokhara and they were not only a bastion of the Arab Empire, but helped to spread the message of Islam. In 713, Kutaib’s sovereign Hajjaj died as in the following year did the Caliph Valid, who had been the first Muslim ruler of Sindh.
Valid’s brother, Sulaiman, became the next Caliph. It had been Valid’s wish that his son should be made Caliph. This had also been Kutaib’s wish for he hated the Caliph Sulaiman. In 714, Kutaib set out on his last campaign. He crossed the Tyan Shan Mountains and after conquering Fargana, attacked Kashgar. By this time the Uigurs had begun to quarrel among themselves and all the Uigur Princes had declared themselves independent of the Kagan. Thus was Kutaib’s task rendered easier.
Kutaib’s concern, however, was not merely conquest, but the conversion of the conquered peoples to Islam. In order to achieve this objective the most unheard of cruelty was resorted to. The German scholar Lekak has dug up a grave in the deserts of Central Asia where hundreds of Buddhist priests and historians lie buried under the Arab sword. At one time the Arabs had respected the Christians, and Mohammed himself was an admirer of Christianity, but now the Arabs spared no infidel.
Thus did Central Asia take to Islam under the threat of Arab sword. Arab soldiers who got the chance of looting those prosperous towns of Central Asia that lay on the silk route were naturally ever ready for battle.
Meanwhile a new situation had been created by the death of Hajjaj, the protector of Kutaib. Sulaiman, the new Caliph, was hostile to Kutaib and had, moreover, as his adviser, Yezid, son of Mohallab, who had been deposed by Kutaib from the Governorship of Khurasan. Realising that his future was not bright, he called an emissary and handed him three letters for the Caliph with instructions to hand them over one after another.
The first contained a protestation of loyalty to the Caliph. The second, a declaration of hatred towards Yezid and the third, that he was no longer prepared to recognise Sulaiman as the Caliph and was about to revolt. The emissary was instructed to watch the reaction of the Caliph carefully. If the first letter was handed over by him to Yezid the second was to be delivered and if this too was handed over to Yezid, then, and then only, was the third to be given.
The emissary did not find it necessary to deliver the second and third letters to the Caliph, for the Caliph in fact sent a representative to confer his recognition on Kutaib. But the representative had only proceeded half way when he found that Kutaib had already hoisted the flag of revolt. He, therefore, went back to the Caliph.
Later, Kutaib was to repent his haste. He realised that the Caliph would never again forgive him, so that the most he could hope for, in consideration of his services to Islam, was his bare life. His brother, Abdurrahman, advised him to call his followers together and ask such of them as wished to join the Caliph to do so, placing himself meanwhile at the head of those who remained and declaring his independence.
But Kutaib preferred to take the counsel of his second brother, Abdulla. He called all his officers and delivered an impassioned appeal to them to revolt. He recalled his services to Islam and his successes on the field of battle. His officers remained silent. Kutaib thereupon lost his temper, accused them of cowardice and returned to his palace. His enemies knew that the Caliph was against him and they surrounded the palace, set fire to his stables and, remembering that this great general had acquired the reputation of being the cruelest of soldiers, tore him to pieces. Thus ended the life of Kutaib. He was then forty-six.
Islam hardly ever produced as zealous a propagator of the Islamic faith as Kutaib. In every one of his campaigns he forcibly converted the people to Islam but some of them afterwards returned to their old faith. In one of his campaigns he destroyed the temple of fire worship in Samarkand and build a mosque instead, where a prize of two dirhams was offered to anyone who would join the namaz prayer.
He placed an Arab in every household to act as an informer, a preacher of Islam and to live as the -son-in-law of the family. The English historian Denison Ross writes of him: “His character was an epitome of the qualities which made Islam a terror to mankind and ultimately conspired to reduce it to impotence.”
Until, after a few months, Yezid was appointed Governor (715), the leader of the revolt carried on the administration. Yezid’s first step was to throw all the associates of Kutaib into prison. The people of Sogdh, tired of Kutaib’s repression, had hoped that Yezid would first visit them, but Yezid preferred to set out on a campaign of conquest. In 716, his armies entered Jurjan and Tabaristan. West of the Caspian, forts had been set up to protect the people against the fierce Khazars, whom the people held in such dread that they were paying tribute to them.
Entrusting the care of Khurasan to his son Mukhallad, Yezid continued his campaign. The people of Jurjan fought heroically for the defence of their freedom, religion and culture, but Yezid had taken an oath that he would not sheath his sword until sufficient blood to run a flourmill had been shed, and until he had eaten bread made out of that flour.
It is reported that Yezid actually lived up to the pledge he had made. When examples of such cruelty are found in the Governor himself, one can well imagine the extent of that which would have been practised by his underlings. But in the name of the sacred war against the “infidel”, all was permitted by Islam.