History of Khalaf-ibn-Ahmad, King of Sistan.

Khalaf Ahmad, King of Sístán, undertook, in the year 354, the pilgrimage to Mecca, and left his kinsman, Táhir-ibn-Hussain, Viceroy of his terri­tories. This man set himself up in rivalry to the King, seduced the army of Khalaf, seized his strongholds and treasures, and desired to possess himself of the throne of Sístán. When Khalaf returned he found his kingdom in confusion and his return to his capital intercepted. He fled to Mansúr-ibn-Núh, Sámány, and implored his aid, to deliver his kingdom from the grasp of Táhir. Mansúr was disposed, as he was a kinsman, to favour him, and sent his army with him towards Sístán, in order to restore him to his country and remove his grief. Táhir, when he received intel­ligence of the succour given by Mansúr’s army, left the country and fixed himself at Isfaráín, so that Khalaf repossessed himself of his kingdom, and the generals and supporting troops of His Highness Mansúr returned content. Then Táhir rushed upon him, defeated him, and compelled him to fly to Bádghíz.* Khalaf, in his distress, again betook himself to His Highness Mansúr, and earnestly implored his succour and help. Mansúr received him with generosity and esteemed it a duty to afford him honourable regard and effectual aid. He therefore dispatched a chosen army of warriors, to assist him. When Khalaf came to Sístán with that army Táhir had died, and his son Hussain had succeeded him in his opposi­tion to Khalaf. He commenced an obstinate resistance and took up a strong position, in one of the fortresses of Sístán. Khalaf besieged him in the citadel of Ark. Many battles took place and many of the soldiers of Hussain, son of Táhir, were slain. Hussain, in this extremity, sent a person to His Highness Mansúr, requesting that he might be freed from the stigma of rebellion, and offering service and submission. He further entreated that access might be opened for him to His Highness, and that a safe conduct might be granted him through the beleaguering troops, that he might present his respects at the Court and obtain the honour of kissing hands. Mansúr accepted his excuses and issued a rescript, according to his demand, for his admission to the presence. Khalaf was reinstated in his kingdom and his authority was established upon the former basis. Thus he passed many years, until excess of pride and wealth affected his mind, and he forgot what he owed unto that dynasty, and began to delay and refuse transmitting tribute and customs to the government of Bukhárá. The Amír reproved him in rescripts and letters, filled with good advice, and reminding him of the assistance formerly rendered to him; but he, through the intoxication of rebel­lion and the vapour of sedition, was carried onward in his career, and proceeded in strengthening and rooting himself, and in looking more acutely with the eye of undutifulness, until Hussain-Ibn-Táhir was sent against him, with all the warriors and heroes of Khurasán, who besieged him in the fortress of Ark. This siege lasted a long time, and the Vizér Abul Hasan Al Utbi sent mes­sengers continually, and expressed to the chiefs and nobles his eager desire for the completion of the enterprize; but, after all efforts, the realization of his wish never came forth from the veil of Providence, and his aim never reached the mark. The affair remained unaccomplished for years, because the height of this castle was so great as to be as unknown as the secrets of Heaven, and every voice was (united) with the voice of angels. Its roof reached the plain of Arcturus, and the sentinel could hear the distant angelic hymns, and from its noble summit brilliancy spread and the clouds wore a delicate robe for its height (Verse)

“For the service of every (impious) rebel are its peaks, for by it thou mayest ascend to Heaven on a staircase.”

And around it was a great moat, in whose depth imagination could find no footing, and in fording which every foot would sink in mud. Like the crocodile it conveyed away horseman and footman, and, like fate, it allowed stability neither to clay or hard earth (Verse)

“Mortals totter by its side, as the moth by the edge of the flame, and its dread almost exhausted the cavalry, as the sand swallows the showers.”

And Khalaf, by various skilful sidelong strokes and crafty blows, continually troubled the be­siegers, and upon every place where they stood cast at them pots full of serpents and scorpions, from slinging machines, and made whatever they confided in a place of ambuscade, and made their nights sleepless. Seven years were thus consumed, through the stubbornness of this hero, and the resistance of this crafty one, and the men remained unable to accomplish the affair, and property, and treasure, and horses, and men, and arms were wasted. The vestiges of the weakness and the indications of the debility of the army of Khurásán became unfolded and published, and the honour and the exultation of the enemy, and the strength of the opponents became manifest, and every look and every day afforded room for some fresh blow and some new injury to the Prince’s warriors. But there is an end to everything and a limit to every kingdom, to every condition happens decay and to every dynasty applies the quotation, “God erases and establishes whatsoever He willeth, and with Him is the book of Fate.”

And when Abúl Hasan Símjúr became sensible of the badness of this business and the dulness of this market he attached himself to traitorous determinations, and he constructed the measure of self-protection, and from preserving the good state of the kingdom, and establishing conservative regulations, betook himself to laxity and indifference, and fell into the habit of leaving and carelessly neglecting the duty of the accumulation of reinforcements and the thickening of the army, and the strokes of the billows of troops (Verse)

“For us, the guidance of fortune will not favour us, but whilst it beholds him who is earnest. All that fortune pro­duces is the reed; manliness mounts a spear-head upon the reed.”

So that the sons of the dynasty and the advisers of the presence extended the tongue of reproof, and found a wide field for correction and attack, and said— “Marks of support, of attachment, of honour, from the family of Sámán, have been more conspicuous with regard to none of the princes and officers than with regard to the son of Símjúr, and unto no other subject did the Amír Sadíd Ibn Mansúr Ibn Núh exhibit a more tender regard and preference; and he conferred upon him the province of Khurásán, which is the white of the State’s eyes and the best portion of the kingdom, in order that, when trial should arise and misfor­tune attack, he might prove a fervent heat and a powerful column, and, in fulfilling the obligations of gratitude for this favour, might devote his head and his life, and prove a protecting veil to the King, his heirs and successors. Now, since he begins to belie his favours and displays connivance and indifference in the performance of the obliga­tions of duty, and in the defence of the honour of the throne, it may be necessary to issue a docu­ment for his removal, and to give his rank and allowance to another of the servants of the State, who, in the efficiency of his orders, in the stopping up outbreaks, and in the conciliation of all may exhibit firmness.” And they dispatched from His Highness a document, for his removal from his government and from the command of the army of Khurasán, and settled his dignity and office upon Hisám-ad-doulat Tásh. And when this document came to Abul Hasan Símjúr the sinful­ness of pride withdrew the bridle of self-command from his hand, so that he gave a peevish reply and openly uttered a rebellious word, and rejected the rescript of His Highness. Afterwards, finding the eye of understanding, he looked into the issue of affairs and thought that any rebellion against the master of his prosperity would meet with unpleasant consequences, and that to draw upon the records of Símjúr the mark of treachery and the path of disobedience would be the cause of reproof and repentances, expose himself to vexation and difficulty, and bring upon himself misfortune instead of plenty, and that to taste the poison upon the bow is not the part of the wise. Wherefore he assembled his children, chiefs, and followers, and calmed them with various kinds of good counsel and chapters of advice, and said (Verse)

“As to the Commander of Believers and as to that which he hath done it is Fate which hath prostrated us, there is no disgrace in the acts of Fate.”

And he assured every one of them that, to be content with the determination of God and to betake himself to the path of humility, as (sub­mitting to all that proceeded) from the master of his prosperity, would be the assurance of safety. And (for thee, they said) not to take consequent measures for these injuries, or reprisals for this enmity, will be more fitting than to render thyself a recipient of misfortune and to distract thyself with care, and to rub the side against the wall of strife. He therefore summoned the messenger back, and, having submitted, he expressed peni­tence and made apologies, and begged acceptance of his excuses, and said, “I am a young shoot of a tree, planted by the King and supported by the water of his generosity and the floodgates of his benefits, and under the canopy of his beneficence and the veil of his generosities, I sprouted forth and exhibited myself, and having in his fortunate garden drawn out my branches and become fruit-bearing, if he suffer my service for the sake of fruit, and confirm his extended favour and his esteemed goodness, for that may he be praised and thanked, or if he pluck me up from the root and make me fuel for the fire, for that may he be excused and pardoned.” So he sent back the mes­senger, with all obedience, and he rose up from the surface of the kingdom of Khurásán and removed to the borders of Kohistan, and there awaited for that which should arrive from His Highness, upon the subject of the rescript, who commanded that he must go to the borders of Sístán, and to make an efficient manifestation of good order, bravery, and excellence in the affairs of that place, where all has fallen into confusion, like a knot of crimes, and in these urgent matters which remain in perplexity, like the square-root of the surd, and to release the army from the diffi­culties of distance and the vacillations of anxiety.

Abúl Hasan Simjúr went then to Sístán, and between him and Khalaf the grounds of their old affection, concord, love, and friendship became strengthened and settled. When he arrived at that place he immediately sent some one to him, and intimated the path of agreement, saying thus, “The residence of His Excellency in this country hath been of long continuance, and many injuries have arisen in portions of the kingdom; and since that regarding which we are eager and for the preser­vation of which, in its dignity, we have devoted our head and our life, i. e., your principality, is going to the wind and is becoming impracticable, our efforts (to serve you) are stopped and our pains fruitless, therefore this is the way, i. e., that thou shouldest rise up from this place and shouldest remove to another place, whilst I conduct away this army from this country, under the pretence of obtaining that which they seek and of receiving that which they request,* and when the field is clear that will be the fittest time to arrange presents and to settle tribute.” Khalaf listened to this advice and accepted it, and acknowledged that these words proceeded from the source of safety and security. Therefore he departed from the fortress of Ark and went to the Castle Ták, and Abul-Hasan and the chief men of the State entered within the citadel and sent the good tidings (of success) and dispatched letters of victory to His Highness and to all parts, and per­formed the Khuttah and decorated the coined money with the surname of Nuh-Mansúr. And they directed their path towards Khurasan; but the full explication of that which after this affair happened anew between Khalaf and Husain-ibn-Táhir will fully come in its place, and be presented, please God!