By Ganeshi Lal Verma
THE land mass around Ghazni, especially the high lands of Kandhar along the upper water of Setumant (Mohd. Helmund) was once known as Zabulistan and was ruled by the Hindu kings. The kings there bore the title of Sahiyas or Shahianushahi, from where the title of Shahanshah was derived. Sahiyas were sun-worshipper.
During that time Siestan and a part of Baluchistan also formed part of the kingdom. A Chinese traveller known as Yuan-Chwang visited the kingdom as is recorded in his travels.
The Arabs, driven by cupidity invaded Zabulistan a number of times during the period of early caliphs, namely Ushman, Ali and Muaviyya. In AD 661 the Arab army, under the command of Ubaydullah attacked the kingdom of Zabulistan. But the army was routed and the general was captured. Thereupon another Arab general Yazid Ibn Zujad was sent with a strong army to relieve the Muslim army. But Zujad was also summarily defeated. Thus frustrated, Muslims entered into a negotiation with the Hindu king of Zabulistan called king Pranatpal Sahiya, whom the Arab chronicles call Rutbil. According to the negotiations, the Caliph’s envoy promised never to invade Zabulistan again and also paid a fine of seven lakh dirhams as compensation for attacking Zabulistan.
Thereafter for 15 years there remained peace. However, in AD 695, Hijjaj, the Caliph’s governor of erstwhile Persian Empire and Central Asia sent another general with the name, Abdullah to conquer the kingdom of Zabulistan. In AD 698 the general penetrated deep into Zabulistan without any opposition from the Sahiyas. A massive battle took place between the forces of Abdullah and the forces of Sahiyas. Finally Abdullah was defeated and he was forced to enter into a treaty with Sahiyas. After which Abdullah was allowed to retreat. Neither Hijjaj, nor his master—the caliph approved the treaty. Abdullah was punished with dismissal. After some years once again the Arabs invaded Zabulistan. This time a new general Abu Bakrak, provided with 40,000 strong fighters, was instructed to invade Zabulistan and was told not to return, untill he had either completely subjugated or destroyed the whole realm of Sahiyas.
The Arab army was very badly defeated and the Arab general was forced to enter into a treaty with Sahiyas according to which the Arabs were forced to pay a fine of 500,000 dirhams to the Sahiyas.
History was again repeated. The Arab general advanced and the Sahiyas tactfully retreated. And the moment the Arabs reached the interior of Zabulistan, the army of Sahiyas encircled the enemy. The Arab army was very badly defeated and the Arab general was forced to enter into a treaty with Sahiyas according to which the Arabs were forced to pay a fine of 500,000 dirhams to the Sahiyas. The Arab general Abu Bakrah also agreed to give his sons as hostages to the Sahiyas.
Note from the writer:
For more details on the subject mentioned above the following books can be consulted:-
1. History of India as told by (Muslim) Indian Historians, by Elliot
& Dowson, Vol. II.
2. Chronological Survey—Mohammedan History of India