“And now shall India’s paroquets on sugar revel all,
In this sweet Persian sugarcandy that is borne to far Bengal.”
Hafiz to Sultan Ghiasu-d-din, King of Bengal.

The History of Bengal cannot fail to be of special interest not only to Hindus and Musalmans in Bengal, but also to Englishmen, in that Bengal formed the foundation-stone of the glorious fabric of Empire in Asia that England was des­tined in subsequent years to rear on the wreck of the mighty Empire of the ‘Great Mogul.’ Yet Histories of Bengal are very few. From the Muhammadan side, though there are plenty of General Histories of India, containing incidental references to Bengal, or dealing with particular periods of it, there is no general or comprehensive History of Bengal, save and except the Riyāzu-s-Salātin. From the European side, the only standard History of Bengal is Stewart’s History, but this last, too, whilst mainly based on the Riyāz, incorporates also the less reliable accounts from Ferishta. To appreciate the his­torical value and position of the Riyāz, I need only quote the opinions of two eminent Orientalists. “The Riyāzu-s-Salātin,” says the late Professor Blochmann who laboured so largely for the Asiatic Society of Bengal, “is much prized as being the fullest account in Persian of the Muhammadan History of Bengal, which the author brings down to his own time (1786-88)”; whilst Dr. Hœrnle observes in a letter to me: “The Riyāz is a Standard History of Bengal, is continually quoted by Mr. Blochmann in his ‘Contributions to the History and Geography of Bengal’ in the Journals of the Asiatic Society Mr. Blochmann strongly recommended that it should be translated, and, therefore, the book is one which deserves being translated and published by the Asiatic Society.”

Whilst fully sensible of the honour conferred upon me by the Asiatic Society in entrusting to me the duty of translating with notes this Standard History of Bengal, I can­not help confessing to a sense of diffidence in presenting this volume to the public under their auspices. Circumstances over which I have had little control, such as domestic troubles, difficulties of access to libraries or books of refer­ence in out-of-the-way mofussil stations, and scanty snatches of leisure after by no means light daily official duties— have combined not only to retard the publication of this annotated translation, but to interfere with my presenting it in the shape that I had fondly aimed at. As it is, I venture to think, whilst fully conscious of its defects and flaws, that I have spared no pains to render the translation a faithful and literal representation of the original, consistently with lucid­ity and clearness in statement. To constantly elucidate the text, I have given ample foot-notes. These foot-notes have been prepared by me by reference to original and generally contemporary Persian sources, and in some cases also embody results of the labours of European scholars and antiquarians, as well as my own personal observations. The prepara­tion of these foot-notes has involved considerable research and entailed much labour.

For my labours, such as they have been, I shall, however, feel amply rewarded if these pages in any measure contribute to awaken amongst my co-religionists in Bengal an enlightened consciousness of their historic past, coupled with an earnest longing in the present to avail themselves of the opportunity afforded by a progressive and beneficent Govern­ment for their future social and intellectual regeneration; and also if they widen the mutual sympathies of the two great nationalities in Bengal by infusing sentiments of closer and more cordial comradeship, in that they have been fellow-travellers over the same tract for many long centuries; and last, though not least, if they evoke the sympathetic interest of Englishmen in the fate of a great and historic Community that preceded them for six centuries in the Government of this country.

A respectful tribute of mournful acknowledgment is due to the memory of my lamented wife, Hyatunnissa Begam, who often sat up by me during progress of this work, and sustained me in my labours.

23rd May, 1903.

P.S.— I had hoped to add to this work an Appendix deal­ing with the social, economic and political condition of the people in Bengal under each period of Moslem Rule; but for this (though I have collected some materials) at present I com­mand neither the requisite leisure nor the full critical apparatus. The foot-notes will, however, it is hoped, give the reader some idea of the culture and civilisation that pre­vailed in Bengal under the Moslems, of their system and methods of administration, of their policy in adding to the physical comforts of the people, and in improving their intellectual, social and ethical ideals.

A. S.
17th November, 1903.