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diverted; the Abbassides returned to the less turbulent residence of Bagdad ; the insolence of the Turks was curbed with a firmer and more skilful band, and their numbers were divided and destroyed in foreign warfare. But the nations of the East had been taught to trample on the successors of the prophet; and the blessings of domestic peace were obtained by the relaxation of strength and discipline. So uniform are the mischiefs of military despotism that I seem to repeat the story of the prætorians of Rome. 118
While the flame of enthusiasm was damped by the business, Rise and the pleasure, and the knowledge, of the age, it burned with the Cars concentrated heat in the breasts of the chosen few, the con- A.D. 890-951 genial spirits, who were ambitious of reigning either in this world or in the next. How carefully soever the book of prophecy had been sealed by the apostle of Mecca, the wishes, and (if we may profane the word) even the reason, of fanaticism might believe that, after the successive missions of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Mahomet, the same God, in the fulness of time, would reveal a still more perfect and permanent law.
In the two hundred and seventy-seventh year of the Hegira, and in the neighbourhood of Cufa, an Arabian preacher, of the name of Carmath, 119 assumed the lofty and (Hamdan incomprehensible style of the Guide, the Director, the Demonstration, the Word, the Holy Ghost, the Camel, the Herald of the Messiah, who had conversed with him in a human shape, and the representative of Mohammed the son of Ali, of St.
118 See under the reigns of Motassem, Mota wakkel, Montasser, Mostain, Motaz, Mohtadi, and Motamed, in the Bibliothèque of d'Herbelot, and the now familiar annals of Elmacin, Abulpharagius, and Abulfeda. [Mustāin, A.D. 862-6; Matazz, AD. 866-9; Muhtadi, A.D. 869-70; Mutamid, A.D. 870-92.]
119 (The “Carmathian" movement has received its name, not from its originators, but from the man who placed himself at its head and organized it at Kūfa— Hamdan ton Ashath, called Carmath. The true founder of the Carmathian movement was Abd Allab ibn Maimun al-Kaddah, the active missionary of the Ismailite doctrine. This doctrine was that Ismail son of Jafar al-Sadik was the seventh imam from Ali; and that Ismail's son Mohammad was the seventh prophet of the world (of the other sis, Adam, &c., are mentioned above, in the text)—the Mahdi (or Messiah). Mohammad bad lived in the second half of the eighth century, but he would come Again, Abd Allah and his missionaries propagated their doctrines far and wide ; they sought to convert Sunnites as well as Shiites, and even Jews and Christians. To the Jews they represented the Mahdi as Messias; to the Christians as the Paraclete. Abd Allah's son Ahmad continued his work, and it was one of his missionaries who converted Carmath. The new interpretations of the Koran mentioned in the text were due not to Carmath, but to Abd Allah. See Weil's account, op. cit., il. p. 498 sqq.)
John the Baptist, and of the angel Gabriel. In his mystic volume, the precepts of the Koran were refined to a more spiritual sense; he relaxed the duties of ablution, fasting, and pilgrimage; allowed the indiscriminate use of wine and forbidden food; and nourished the fervour of his disciples by the daily repetition of fifty prayers. The idleness and ferment of the rustic crowd awakened the attention of the magistrates of Cufa; a timid persecution assisted the progress of the new sect; and the name of the prophet became more revered after his person had been withdrawn from the world. His twelve apostles dispersed themselves among the Bedoweens, "a race
a of men,” says Abulfeda, “equally devoid of reason and of religion;" and the success of their preaching seemed to threaten Arabia with a new revolution. The Carmathians were ripe for rebellion, since they disclaimed the title of the house of Abbas and abhorred the worldly pomp of the caliphs of Bagdad. They were susceptible of discipline, since they vowed a blind and absolute submission to their imam, who was called to the prophetic office by the voice of God and the people. Instead of the legal tithes, he claimed the fifth of their substance and spoil; the most flagitious sins were no more than the type of
disobedience; and the brethren were united and concealed by Their mili- an oath of secrecy. After a bloody conflict, they prevailed in
the province of Bahrein, along the Persian Gulf; far and wide,
the tribes of the desert were subject to the sceptre, or rather to [Abū Tahir the sword, of Abu Said and his son Abu Taher; and these re
bellious imams could muster in the field an hundred and seven thousand fanatics. The mercenaries of the caliph were dismayed at the approach of an enemy who neither asked nor accepted quarter; and the difference between them in fortitude and patience is expressive of the change which three centuries of prosperity had effected in the character of the Arabians. Such troops were discomfited in every action; the cities of Racca
and Baalbec, of Cufa and Bassora, were taken and pillaged; 924]
Bagdad was filled with consternation; and the caliph trembled behind the veils of his palace. In a daring inroad beyond the Tigris, Abu Taher advanced to the gates of the capital with no more than five hundred horse. By the special order of Moctader, the bridges had been broken down, and the person or head of the rebel was expected every hour by the commander of the
tary exploits. A.D. 900, &c.
faithful. His lieutenant, from a motive of fear or pity, apprised Abu Taher of his danger, and recommended a speedy escape. “ Your master," said the intrepid Carmathian to the messenger, " is at the head of thirty thousand soldiers: three such men as these are wanting in his host:" at the same instant, turning to three of his companions, he commanded the first to plunge a dagger into his breast, the second to leap into the Tigris, and the third to cast himself headlong down a precipice. They obeyed without a murmur. “Relate," continued the imam, “what you have seen: before the evening your general shall be chained among my dogs.”
Before the evening, the camp was surprised and the menace was executed. The rapine of the Carmathians was sanctified by their aversion to the worship of Mecca : they robbed a caravan of pilgrims, and twenty thousand devout Moslems were abandoned on the (A.D. 906] burning sands to a death of hunger and thirst.120 Another year they suffered the pilgrims to proceed without interruption; but, in the festival of devotion, Abu Taher stormed the holy city and trampled on the most venerable relics of the Mahometan They pilfaith. Thirty thousand citizens and strangers were put to the A.D. 929 sword; the sacred precincts were polluted by the burial of three thousand dead bodies; the well of Zemzem overflowed with blood; the golden spout was forced from its place; the veil of the Caaba was divided among these impious sectaries; and the black stone, the first monument of the nation, was borne away in triumph to their capital. After this deed of sacrilege and cruelty, they continued to infest the confines of Irak, Syria, and Egypt; but the vital principle of enthusiasm had withered at the root. Their scruples or their avarice again opened the pilgrimage of Mecca and restored the black stone of the Caaba; and it is needless to inquire into what factions they were broken, or by whose swords they were finally extirpated. The sect of the Carmathians may be considered as the second visible cause of the decline and fall of the empire of the caliphs.121
The third and most obvious cause was the weight and Revolt of 19 [Abu Tahir also plundered pilgrim caravans in A.D. 924.]
111 For the sect of the Carmathians, consult Elmacin (Hist. Saracen. p. 219, 224, 229, 231, 238, 241, 243), Abulpha ragius (Dynast. p. 179-182), Abulfeda (Annal. Moslem. p. 218, 219, &c., 245, 265, 74), and d'Herbelot (Bibliothèque Orientale, p. 256-258, 635). I find some inconsistencies of theology and chronology, which it would not be easy nor of much importance to reconcile. [De Goeje, Mémoire sur les Carmathes du Bahrain (1886).]
magnitude of the empire itself. The caliph Almamon might proudly assert that it was easier for him to rule the East and the West than to manage a chess-board of two feet square; 122 yet I suspect that in both those games he was guilty of many fatal mistakes; and I perceive that in the distant provinces the authority of the first and most powerful of the Abbassides was already impaired. The analogy of despotism invests the representative with the full majesty of the prince; the division and balance of powers might relax the habits of obedience, might encourage the passive subject to inquire into the origin and administration of civil government. He who is born in the purple is seldom worthy to reign; but the elevation of a private man, of a peasant perhaps, or a slave, affords a strong presumption of his courage and capacity. The viceroy of a remote kingdom aspires to secure the property and inheritance of his precarious trust; the nations must rejoice in the presence of their sovereign; and the command of armies and treasures are at once the object and the instrument of his ambition. A change was scarcely visible as long as the lieutenants of the caliph were content with their vicarious title; while they solicited for themselves or their sons a renewal of the Imperial grant, and still maintained on the coin, and in the public prayers, the name and prerogative of the commander of the faithful. But in the long and hereditary exercise of power, they assumed the pride and attributes of royalty; the alternative of peace or war, of reward or punishment, depended solely on their will; and the revenues of their government were reserved for local services or private magnificence. Instead of à regular supply of men and money, the successors of the prophet were flattered with the ostentatious gift of an elephant, or a cast of hawks, a suit of silk hangings, or some pounds of
musk and amber. The inde- After the revolt of Spain from the temporal and spiritual dynasties supremacy of the Abbassides, the first symptoms of disobedience
122 Hyde, Syntagma Dissertat. tom. ii. p. 57, in Hist. Shahiludii. (Also: Al Nuwairi, in de Sacy, Exposé de la religion des Druzes, vol. i.]
123 The dynasties of the Arabian empire may be studied in the Annals of Elmacin, Abulpharagius, and Abulfeda, under the proper years, in the dictionary of d'Herbelot, under the proper names. The tables of M. de Guignes (Hist. des Huns, tom. i.) exhibit a general chronology of the East, interspersed with some historical anecdotes; but his attachment to national blood has sometimes confounded the order of time and place.
broke forth in the province of Africa. Ibrahim, the son of Aglab, the lieutenant of the vigilant and rigid Harun, bequeathed to the dynasty of the Aglabites the inheritance of his The Aglabname and power. The indolence or policy of the caliphs dis- 800-941 (909) sembled the injury and loss, and pursued only with poison the founder of the Edrisites,124 who erected the kingdom and city The Edrisof Fez on the shores of the western ocean.125 In the East, the 29-907 first dynasty was that of the Taherites,126 the posterity of the The Tahervaliant Taher, who, in the civil wars of the sons of Harun, had 813-872 served with too much zeal and success the cause of Almamon the younger brother. He was sent into honourable exile, to command on the banks of the Oxus; and the independence of his successors, who reigned in Chorasan till the fourth generation, was palliated by their modest and respectful demeanour, the happiness of their subjects, and the security of their frontier. They were supplanted by one of those adventurers so frequent in the annals of the East, who left his trade of a brazier (from whence the name of Soffarides) for the profession of a robber. The SoffaIn a nocturnal visit to the treasure of the prince of Sistan, 872-902 Jacob, the son of Leith, 17 stumbled over a lump of salt, which he unwarily tasted with his tongue. Salt, among the Orientals,
13* The Aglabites and Edrisites are the professed subject of M. de Cardonne (Hist. de l'Afrique et de l'Espagne sous la Domination des Arabes, tom. ii. p. 1-63). The Aghlabid dynasty lasted from A.D. 800 to 909, when it gave way to the Fāti. mids. Its chief achievement was the conquest of Sicily. These princes also an. dered Sardinia and Malta, and harried the Christian coasts of the Western Meiiterranean.)
123 To escape the reproach of error, I must criticize the inaccuracies of M. de Gaignes (tom. i. p. 359) concerning the Edrisites. 1. The dynasty and city of Fez could not be founded in the year of the Hegira 173, since the founder was a posthumous child of a descendant of Ali, who fled from Mecca in the year 168. 2. This founder, Edris the son of Edris, instead of living to the improbable age of 120 years, A.H. 313, died A.A. 214, in the prime of manhood. 3. The dynasty ended 1.2. 307, twenty-three years sooner than it is fixed by the historian of the Huns. See the accarate Annals of Abulfeda, p. 158, 159, 185, 238. [Idris, who founded the dynasty of the Idrisids, was great-great-grandson of Ali. He revolted in Medina Against the caliph Mahdi in A.D. 785, and then he fled to Morocco, where he founded bis dynasty (in A.D. 788), which expired in a.D. 985. For the succession cp. S. LanePoole, Mohammadan Dynasties, p. 35.]
ixs The dynasties of the Taherites and Soffarides, with the rise of that of the Samanides, are described in the original history and Latin version of Mirchond ; Pet the most interesting facts had already been drained by the diligence of M. d'Herbelot. (Tāhir was appointed governor of Khurāsān in A.D. 820; he and his successors professed to be vassals of the Caliphs.]
*** (Yskub, son of al-Layth, a coppersmith (sattār), conquered successively Fārs, Balkh, and Khurāsān. The Saffärid dynasty numbered only three princes : Yakūb, big brother Amr, and Amr's son Tāhir, whose power was confined to Sistān, which he lost in A.D. 903. Cp. 8. Lane-Poole, op. cit., p. 129, 130.]