Sind under the Arabs.

Having in the previous Note exhausted all the scanty materials which history has left us respecting the political progress of the Arabs in Sind, we may now proceed to consider some of the questions connected with the maintenance of their power in that province.

The internal administration of the country was necessarily left in the hand of the natives; as the Arabs, upon their first acquisition of territory, had brought with them no men capable of exercising civil functions. Indeed, wherever we follow the steps of these fanatics, we find them ignorant of the first principles of public economy, and compelled, by the exigencies of their position, to rely upon native assistance in the management of the finances and accounts of their subject provinces. So, indeed, in a certain measure, do the English in India; but with this essential difference, that they direct and con­trol the ministerial officers, both of collection and record, introduce their own systems, modify or abrogate the old ones as occasion arises, and initiate all proceedings connected with the several departments of the exchequer: but the Arabs, either through indolence, pride, or ignorance, left themselves at the mercy of their subordinates, and were unable to fathom the depths of the chaotic accounts kept by their native financiers, who practised the most ingenious devices of flattery, falsehood, cajolery, and self-interest—rendered more acute by religious hatred—in order to blind their credulous dupes as to the actual resources of the countries which they governed. The rack and the threat of circumcision would sometimes extort the illicit ac­cumulations of past years; but, in the long run, the pliant and plausible officials were the gainers; and compromises, in a little ready cash, were gladly accepted, in lieu of closer scrutiny and more accurately balanced ledgers.

Hence those charges so readily brought, and so eagerly listened to, by Khalifs as well as Amírs, of defalcations and embezzlements: hence those demands for indefinite sums from refractory servants: hence those extortionate fines, levied according to mere surmises and conjectures, since no means existed of ascertaining the real amount of revenue and expenditure. Brought up in their native deserts, with no greater knowledge of schemes of administration than was to be obtained by studying the phylarchies of the Bedouins, and in­vested suddenly with dominions which they were not competent to manage, however easily they might overrun and subdue them, the Arabs were compelled to seek in the political institutions of their subjects the means of realizing the exactions which, as victors, they felt it their right to demand. The maintenance, therefore, of native officials (who were styled Bráhmans in the case of Sind) was a matter of necessity rather than choice, at least at this early period of their sway; for the guide-books mentioned by Ibn Haukal, which indicate some knowledge of statistics and finance, were the products of a much later age.

The first show of independence of such aid, even at the capital itself, was not exhibited till the reign of 'Abdu-l Malik, when he adopted an Arab currency, in supersession of the Greek and Persian money, with which trade had been hitherto carried on: though the old denominations of denarius and drachma were still retained, under the slight metamorphoses of dínár and dirham. Walíd next abolished the Greek language and character from the public offices of finance, and substituted the Arabic,—thus still further freeing the Arabs from the trammels which these foreign systems had interposed. The land-tenures and personal taxes, being based upon principles intro­duced by the victorious Moslems, retained their Arab nomenclature.*

The original conquerors of Sind received there, as elsewhere under similar circumstances, large possessions in land (iktá'át or katáya'), which, as beneficiary grants for public services, were exempt from all taxes, except the alms (sadaka) defined by law. They were, of course, held on the condition of continued military service, and as long as this was rendered, they never reverted to the fisc. Accord­ing to the regulations promulgated by 'Umar, soldiers were not allowed to devote themselves to agriculture or any other profession, and therefore the lands of these grantees continued to be cultivated by the former possessors, now reduced to the condition of villeins and serfs.* Other soldiers, not so beneficed, received stipends from the public revenue, to which they themselves contributed nothing in the shape of taxes. Four-fifths of the prize-money was invariably distributed among them, and, indeed, at first, formed their sole re­muneration, insomuch that a man who received pay was entitled neither to plunder nor the honour of martyrdom. One-fifth of the spoil was reserved to the Khalif for religious and charitable purposes, according to the injunctions of the Kurán. The man “who went down to the battle, and he who tarried by the stuff,” received equal shares, and the horseman was entitled to a double portion. Had the Khalif attempted to augment his share, the hardy warriors would have resisted his claim, with the same freedom as the fierce and sturdy Gaul, when he raised his battle-axe, and reminded Clovis that the famous vase of Soissons was public spoil.*

Much also of the conquered land was, during the whole course of Arab occupation, liberally bestowed upon sacred edifices and insti­tutions, as wakf, or mortmain; of which some remnant, dating from that early period, is to be found even to this day in Sind,* which notoriously swarms with sanctified beggars and similar impostors, and contains, according to the current saying, no less than 100,000 tombs of saints and martyrs, besides ecclesiastical establishments, which, under the Tálpúrs, absorbed one-third of the entire revenue of the State.

That the whole valley, however, was not occupied or assigned by the victors is evident, not only from the large amount of the land-tax—which, had that been the case, would have yielded no revenue to the government—but from the fact of many native chiefs being able to maintain their independence, amidst all the wars and turmoils which raged around them. This is manifest from the story of 'Abdu-lla bin Muhammad, the 'Alite, which has been related in the preceding note. There we find a native potentate, “only one amongst other Sindian kings,” possessing much land and many subjects, to whom 'Abdu-lla was recommended to fly for protection, and who was represented as holding the name of the prophet in respect, though he continued to worship his own idols.

The conquerors, taking up their abode chiefly in cities of their own construction, cultivated no friendly intercourse with the natives, whom they contemned as a subject race, and abhorred as idolaters. They remained, therefore, isolated from their neighbours, and when their turn came to be driven out from their possessions, they left a void which was soon filled up, and their expulsion, or extermina­tion, was easily accomplished, and nowhere regretted.

In no place do we find any allusion to Arab women accompanying Sindian camps, or—as often occurred in other fields—stimulating the soldiers to action, when they evinced any disposition to yield to their enemy,* The battle of the Yermouk, which decided the fate of Syria, was gained as much by the exhortations, reproaches, and even blows of the women, as by the valour of the men; for thrice were the faithful repulsed by the steady advance of the Grecian phalanx; thrice were they checked in their retreat, and driven back to battle by the women,—Abú Sufyán himself being struck over the face with a tent-pole by one of those viragos, as he fled before the enemy. In the remotest east, again, we find, as early as the time of 'Ubaidu-lla, his brother's wife mentioned as the first Arabian woman who crossed the Oxus,—on which occasion, unfortunately, she disgraced the credit of her sex, no less than her exalted rank, by stealing the jewels and crown of the queen of the Sogdians. Not many years after, the sanguinary battle of Bukhára, fought in the year 90 H., between Ibn Kutaiba and the Tátárs, was, in like manner with that of the Yermouk, restored by the tears and re­proaches of the women who accompanied the Arab camp.* These, soldiers, therefore, were prepared for immediate colonization and settlement, and must have consisted of the surplus emigrant popu­lation already settled in Khurásán. Accordingly, we find in this instance, that Baikand was converted into a fortress, and that part of the army was located in its neighbourhood, and composed several hundred military stations.