Muslim conquests of Afghanistan

The Muslim conquests of Afghanistan began during the Muslim conquest of Persia as the Arab Muslims were drawn eastwards to Khorasan, Sistan and Transoxiana. 15 years after the Battle of Nahāvand, they controlled all Sasanian domains except parts of Afghanistan and Makran. Nancy Dupree states that Arabs carrying the religion of Islam captured Herat and Sistan, but the eastern areas often revolted and converted back to their old faiths whenever the Arab armies withdrew. The harshness of the Arab rule caused the native dynasties to revolt after the Arab power weakened like the Saffarids. Fuller Islamization wasn't achieved until the period between 10th-12th century under Ghaznavid and Ghurid dynasty's rule who patronized Muslim religious institutions. Khorasan and Sistan where Zoroastrianism was well-established, were conquered but Qandahar remained unconquered. The Arabs had begun to move towards the lands east of Persia and in 652 they captured the city of Herat, establishing an Arab governor there. The Muslim frontier in modern Afghanistan had become stabilized after the first century of Hijri calendar as the relative importance of the Afghan areas diminished. From historical evidence, it appears Tokharistan was the only area heavily colonized by Arabs where Buddhism flourished. Balkh's final conquest was undertaken by Qutayba ibn Muslim in 705. Hui'Chao who visited around 726, mentions the Arabs ruled it and all the inhabitants were Buddhists. The eastern regions of Afghanistan considered politically as parts of India, and rest of the territory remained Indian in culture although influenced by various other cultures over time. Buddhism and Brahmanism (Hinduism) held sway over the region until the Muslim conquest. Kabul and Zabulistan which housed Buddhism and other Indian religions, offered stiff resistance to the Muslim advance for two centuries, with the Kabul Shahi and Zunbils remaining unconquered until the Saffarid and Ghaznavid conquests. The significance of the realm of Zun and its rulers Zunbils had laid in them blocking the path of Arabs in invading the Indus Valley. The Caliph Al-Ma'mun (r. 813-833 A.D.) was paid double the tribute by the Rutbil. His were the last Arab expeditions on Kabul and Zabul. The king of Kabul was captured by him and converted to Islam. The last Zunbil was killed by Ya'qub bin al-Layth along with his former overlord Salih b. al-Nadr in 865 while Zabulistan's people were converted by him. Meanwhile, the Hindu Shahi of Kabul were defeated under Mahmud of Ghazni. Indian soldiers were a part of the Ghaznavid army, Baihaki mentioned Hindu officers employed by Ma'sud. The 14th-century scholar Muslim scholar Ibn Battuta described that the Hindu Kush meant "slayer of Indians" because large number of slaves brought from India died because of its treacherous weather. The geographer Ya'qubi states that the rulers of Bamiyan, called the Sher, converted in the late 8th century. Ya'qub is recorded as having plundered its pagan idols in 870 while a much later historian Shabankara'i claims that Alp-Tegin obtained conversion of its ruler in 962. No permanent Arab control was established in Ghur and it became Islamised after Ghaznavid raids. By the time of Bahram-Shah, Ghur was converted and politically united. In the late 15th century, Babur, the founder of the Mughal Empire, arrived from Fergana and captured Kabul from the Arghun dynasty. Between the 16th and 18th century, Emperor Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb ruled parts of the eastern territory. The Afghan habitat during their conquest by Mahmud was located in the Sulaiman Mountains. They were enlisted by both Sabuktigin and Mahmud according to Tarikh-i-Yamini. The Pashtuns later began migrating westward and displaced or subjugated the indigenous populations such as Tajiks, Hazaras, the Farsiwanis, Kakars and Baloch people before or during 16th-17th century. They also displaced the Kafir people from Kunar Valley and Laghman valley to the less fertile mountains. Before their conversion, the Kafir people of Kafiristan practiced a form of ancient Hinduism infused with locally developed accretions. Previously the region from Nooristan to Kashmir was called Peristan and was host to a vast number of "Kafir" cultures. They were called Kafirs due to their enduring paganism, remaining politically independent until being conquered and forcibly converted by Afghan Amir Abdul Rahman Khan in 1895-1896 while others also converted to avoid paying jizya.


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