Islamic Conquest

By admin, 8 April, 2024

In 637 A.D., only five years after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, the Arab Muslims shattered the might of the Iranian Sassanians at the battle of Qadisiya, and the invaders began to reach into the lands east of Iran. The Muslim conquest was a prolonged struggle in the area that is now Afghanistan. Following the first Arab raid into Qandahar in about 700, local rulers, probably either Kushans or Western Turks, began to come under the control of Ummayid caliphs, who sent Arab military governors and tax collectors into the region. By the middle of the eighth century the rising Abbasid Dynasty was able to subdue the area. There was a period of peace under the rule of the caliph, Harun al Rashid (7&S-809), and his son, in which learning fluorished in such Central Asian cities as Samarkand, located in what is now the Soviet Union. Over the period of the seventh through the ninth centuries, most inhabitants of what is now Afghanistan, Pakistan, the southern parts of the Soviet Union, and some of northern India were converted to Sunni Islam, which replaced the Zorastrianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and indigenous religions of previous empires.

During the eighth and ninth centuries, partly to obtain better grazing land, ancestors of many of the Turkic-speaking
groups now identifiable in Afghanistan settled in the Hindu Kush area. Some of these tribes settled in what are now Ghor,
Ghazni, and Kabul provinces and began to assimilate much of the culture and language of the already present Pashtun tribes. By the middle of the ninth century, Abbasid rule had faltered, and semi-independent states began to emerge throughout the empire. In the Hindu Kush area three shortlived, local dynasties emerged. The best known of the three, the Sammanid, ruling out of Bukhara (in what is now the Soviet Union), extended its rule briefly as far east as India and west into Iran. Bukhara and neighboring Samarkand were centers of science, the arts, and Islamic studies. Although Arab Muslim intellectual life still centered on Baghdad, Iranian Muslim scholarship, i.e., Shia Islam, at this time predominated in the Sammanid areas. By the mid-tenth century the Sammanid Dynasty crumbled in the face of attack from the Turkish tribes to the north and from a rising dynasty to the south, the Ghaznavids.