Muslim conquests of Afghanistan

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The Muslim conquests of Afghanistan began during the Muslim conquest of Persia as the Arab Muslims were drawn eastwards to Khorasan, Sistan and Transoxiana. Fifteen years after the Battle of Nahāvand, they controlled all Sasanian domains except parts of Afghanistan and Makran. Fuller Islamization wasn't achieved until the period between 10th-12th century under Ghaznavid and Ghurid dynasty's rule who patronized Muslim religious institutions.


  • “He first took Bamian, which he probably reached by way of Herat, and then marched on Balkh where he ruined (the temple) Naushad. On his way back from Balkh he attacked Kabul…“Starting from Panjhir, the place he is known to have visited, he must have passed through the capital city of the Hindu Sahis to rob the sacred temple - the reputed place of coronation of the Sahi rulers-of its sculptural wealth…“The exact details of the spoil collected from the Kabul valley are lacking. The Tarikh [-i-Sistan] records 50 idols of gold and silver and Mas’udi mentions elephants. The wonder excited in Baghdad by elephants and pagan idols forwarded to the Caliph by Ya’qûb also speaks for their high value....“ The best of our authorities put the date of this event in 257 (870-71). Tabari is more precise and says that the idols sent by Ya’qub reached Baghdad in Rabi’ al-Akhar, 257 (Feb.-March, 871). Thus the date of the actual invasion may be placed at the end of AD 870.”
    • About Ya’qub bin Laith (AD 870-871) at Balkh and Kabul (Afghanistan) . Abdur Rahman, The Last Two Dynasties of the Shahis, Delhi Reprint, 1988,
  • “The Amir marched out towards Lamghan, which is a city celebrated for its great strength and abounding wealth. He conquered it and set fire to the places in its vicinity which were inhabited by infidels, and demolishing idol temples, he established Islam in them. He marched and captured other cities and killed the polluted wretches, destroying the idolaters and gratifying the Musalmans.”
    • About Amir Subuktigin of Ghazni (AD 977-997) at Lamghan (Afghanistan). Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own Historians, Vol. II, p. 22.
  • “It is related that Amru Lais conferred the governorship of Zabulistan on Fardaghan and sent him there at the head of four thousand horse. There was a large Hindu place of worship in that country, which was called Sakawand, and people used to come on pilgrimage from the most remote parts of Hindustan to the idols of that place. When Fardaghan arrived in Zabulistan he led his army against it, took the temple, broke the idols in pieces and overthrew the idolaters…”
    • About ‘Amru bin Laith (AD 879-900) at Sakawand (Afghanistan). Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own Historians Vol. II, p. 172.
  • But the Arabs, inspired as they were by an imperialist ideology, did not give up. .... The war against Kabul was renewed in AD 695 when Hajjaj became the governor of Iraq. He sent an army under Ubaidullah, the new governor of Seistan. Ubaidullah was defeated .... Once again, the treaty was denounced by the Caliph, and another general, Shuraih, tried to advance upon Kabul. He was killed by the Hindus, and his army suffered huge losses as it retreated through the desert of Bust. Poor Ubaidullah died of grief. That was the third round won by the Hindu kingdom of Kabul.... The Arabs had failed once again to conquer finally another small Hindu principality, in spite of their being the mightiest power on earth. The struggle had lasted for more than two hundred years. ... The kingdom of Kabul suffered a temporary eclipse in AD 870 but not on account of the Arabs, nor as a result of a clash of arms. The Turkish adventurer, Yaqub bin Layth, “who started his career as a robber in Seistan and later on founded the Saffarid dynasty of Persia”, sent a message to the king of Kabul that he wanted to come and pay his homage. The king was deceived into welcoming Yaqub and a band of the latter’s armed followers in the court at Kabul. Yaqub “bowed his head as if to do homage but he raised the lance and thrust it into the back of Rusal so that he died on the spot”. A Turkish army then invaded the Hindu kingdoms of both Kabul and Zabul. The king of Zabul was killed in the battle, and the population was converted to Islam by force. ... But the succeeding Hindu king of Kabul who had meanwhile transferred his capital to Udbhandapur on the Indus, recovered Kabul after the Saffarid dynasty declined. Masudi who visited the Indus Valley in AD 915 “designates the prince who ruled at Kabul by the same title as he held when the Arabs penetrated for the first time into this region”.
    • S.R. Goel, (1994) Heroic Hindu resistance to Muslim invaders, 636 AD to 1206 AD. ISBN 9788185990187, also quoting Ram Gopal Misra, Indian Resistance to Early Muslim Invaders Upto 1206 A.D. (1983).
  • Yaqub Ibn Layth now had recourse to stratagem and deception. He sent one of his confidential servants to Rusal [Hindu King] with a message to say that he wished to come and meet him and render homage.... When the ambassadors of Yaqub came to Rusal and delivered the message to him, it was very agreeable to him, because he was greatly harassed by Yaqub, who continually made incursions into his country, and attacked it in different directions. He made the ambassadors welcome, and sent messages to Yaqub, giving him many kind promises and holding out hopes for perferment.... A day was fixed for a parley between the parties. It was not the habit of Rusal to ride a horse, but he used to sit on a throne which a party of his servants carried on their shoulders. When both armies were drawn up in array, Rusal seated himself and ordered his troops to stand in line on each side of it. Yaqub with his three thousand brave horsemen advanced between these two lines, and his men carried their lances concealed behind their horses and wearing coats of mail under their garments.... When Yaqub drew near Rusal, he bowed his head as if to do homage, but he raised the lance and thrust it into the back of Rusal, so that he died on the spot. His people also fell like lightning upon the enemy, cutting them down with their swords, and staining the earth with the blood of the enemies of religion [Islam]. The infidels, when they saw the head of Rusal upon the point of a spear, took to flight, and great bloodshed ensued. The bride of victory drew aside her veil and Yaqub returned victorious. Next day six horsemen thousand of the infidels were sent prisoners to Sistan. He also placed sixty of their officers on assess, and having hung the ears of the slain upon the necks of these officers, he sent them in this manner to Bust. In this conquest he obtained such immense treasure and property that conjecture cannot make estimate of them.... The hostility which the people of Bust had shown to Yaqub, he now retaliated upon them. He fixed the same poll tax upon them as was levied from the Jews, and this was collected with severity. This victory which he achieved was the result of treachery and deception, such as no one had ever committed.
    • . H. M. Elliot and John Dowson, The History of India as Told by Its Own Historians: The Muhammadan Period, vol. 2 (1867-1877; repr., Delhi: Elibron, 2001), pp. 177-78, Jam-Ul-Hikayat of Muhammad Ufi. Yaqub Ibn Layth's successful treachery, according to A. L. Srivstava ("Indian Resistance to Medieval Invaders," Journal of Indian History 43 [1965]: 355), made the Brahman minister (and de facto Hindu ruler) Lallya's position, untenable after the ... disaster [described above] and he abandoned Kabul.... This happened in 265 A.H. corresponding to 870 A.D., and ended Hindu rule in Afghanistan. also quoted in Bostom, A. G. M. D., & Bostom, A. G. (2010). The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims. Amherst: Prometheus.
  • The monastery of Fondukistan flourished for about three or four centuries and came to an end only in 10th or 11th century A. D. on account of Arabs ' attack on Afghanistan. The city of Kapisa was sacked by Ibrahim-bin-Jabul , the Governor of Zabulistan in the year 743 A . D . The Hindu Sahi rulers had to move first to Kabul and then to Udbhandapur on account of the They ultimately took the possession of Kabul valley, including the adjoining areas of Herat and Kandahar . They not only established their suzerainty over this country but also indulged into a lot of persecutions against the Buddhists whom they called 'kafir' or infidel. They razed the monasteries and temples to the ground and the monks living there either had to flee or to embrace Islam. This was the fate of all the Buddhist establishments in Afghanistan and Fondukistan was no exception.. The Arabs not only betook the riches , jewels and gems accumulated in the monasteries of Balkh but burnt to ashes those treasures which were enshrined in the form of manuscripts in the libraries of the monasteries. Buddhist monks , the true upholders of Buddhism ( Dhammadharās ) were either put to sword or were forced to embrace Islam... Probably Balk was the first place in Afghanistan to lose its pristine glory , excellence and cultural heritage by the hands of Arabs and was set in ruins for good.
    • History of Buddhism in Afghanistan, Chandrika Singh Upasak, Sī. Esa Upāsaka. 232 ff. also quoted in Swarup, R. (2015). Hinduism and monotheistic religions. 515.

See also