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Zad to that king,' said the man, 'he called his chief falconer,
and ordered him to procure the jewel required. The falconer
kept an eagle for three days without food, until he was nearly
starved; he then took him up into the mountains near the
wall, and I accompanied him. From the summit of one of
these mountains, we looked down into a deep dark chasm like
an abyss. The falconer now produced a piece of tainted
meat; threw it into the ravine, and let loose the eagle. He
swept down after it ; pounced upon it as it reached the ground,
and returning with it, perched upon the hand of the falconer.
The ruby which now shines in that ring was found adhering
to the meat.'

" Abda'lrahman asked an account of the wall. ' It is built,'
replied the man, ' of stone, iron, and brass, and extends down
one mountain and up another.' 'This, 'said the devout and
all-believing Abda'lrahman, ' must be the very wall of which
the Almighty makes mention in the Koran.'

"He now inquired of Shahr-Zad what was the value of
the ruby. 'No one knows its value,' was the reply; 'though
presents to an immense amount had been made in return for
it.' Shahr-Zad now drew the ring from his finger, and offered
it to Abda'lrahman, but the latter refused to accept it, saying
that a gem of that value was not suitable to him. ' Had you
been one of the Persian kings,' said Shahr-Zad, 'you would
have taken it from me by force ; but men who conduct like
you will conquer all the world.' "

The stories which he had heard had such an effect upon
Abda'lrahman, that he resolved to make a foray into the
mysterious country beyond the Derbends. Still it could only
be of a partial nature, as he was restrained from venturing far
by the cautious injunctions of Omar. "Were I not fearful ot
displeasing the Caliph," said he, " I would push forward even
to Yajuj and Majuj, and make converts of all the infidels."

On issuing from the mountains, he found himself among a
barbarious people, the ancestors of the present Turks, who in
habited a region of country between the Euxine and the
Caspian seas. A soldier who followed Abda'lrahman in this
foray gave the following account of these people to the Caliph
on his return to Medina. "They were astonished," said he,
"at our appearance, so different from their old enemies the
Persians, and asked us, ' Are you angels, or the sons of Adam? '
to which we replied, we are sons of Adam ; but the angels of
heaven are on our side and aid us In our warfare."


The infidels forbore to assail men thus protected ; one, how
ever, more shrewd or dubious than the rest, stationed himself
behind a tree, sped an arrow, and slew a Moslem. The de
lusion was at an end ; the Turks saw that the strangers were
mortal, and from that time there was hard fighting. Abda'lrah-
man laid siege to a place called Belandscher, the city or
stronghold of the Bulgarians or Huns, another semi-barbarous
and warlike people like the Turks, who, like them, had not yet
made themselves world-famous by their conquering migra
tions. The Turks came to the aid of their neighbors ; a seven
battle took place, the Moslems were defeated, and Abda'lrah
man paid for his daring enterprise and romantic curiosity
with his Life. The Turks, who still appear to have retained a
superstitious opinion of their unknown invaders, preserved
the body of the unfortunate general as a relic, and erected a
shrine in honor of it, at which they used to put up their
prayers for rain in tune of drought.

The troops of Abda'lrahman retreated within the Derbends ;
his brother Selman Ibn Rabiah was appointed to succeed him
in the command of the Caucasian passes, and thus ended the
unfortunate foray into the land of Gog and Magog.



THE life and reign of the Caliph Omar, distinguished by such
great and striking events, were at length brought to a sudden
and sanguinary end. Among the Persians who had been
brought as slaves to Medina, was one named Firuz, of the sect
of the Magi, or fire-worshippers. Being taxed daily by his
master two pieces of silver out of his earnings, he complained
of it to Omar as an eytortion. The Caliph inquired into his
condition, and, finding that he was a carpenter, and expert in
the construction of windmills, replied, that the man who ex
celled in such a handicraft could well afford to pay two dirhems
a day. "Then," muttered Firuz, "I'll construct a windmill
for you that shall keep grinding until the day of judgment. "
Omar was struck with his menacing air. ' ' The slave threatens


me," said he, calmly. "If I were disposed to punish any one
on suspicion, I should take off his head;" he suffered him,
however, to depart without further notice.

Three days afterward, as he was praying in the mosque,
Firuz entered suddenly and stabbed him thrice with a dagger.
The attendants rushed upon the assassin. He made furious
resistance, slew some and wounded others, until one of his
assailants threw his vest over him and seized him, upon which
he stabbed himself to the heart and expired. Religion may
have had some share in prompting this act of violence ; perhaps
revenge for the ruin brought upon his native country. " God
be thanked," said Omar, "that he by whose hand it was de
creed I should fall was not a Moslem !"

The Caliph gathered strength sufficient to finish the prayer
in which he had been interrupted; "for he who deserts his
prayers," said he, "is not in Islam." Being taken to his
house, he languished three days without hope of recovery, but
could not be prevailed upon to nominate a successor. " I can
not presume to do that," said he, " which the prophet himself
did not do." Some suggested that he should nominate his
son Abdallah. "Omar's family," said he, "has had enough
in Omar, and needs no more. " He appointed a council of six
persons to determine as to the succession after his decease ; aft
of whom he considered worthy of the Caliphat; though he
gave it as his opinion that the choice would be either Ali or
Othman. "Shouldst thou become Caliph," said he to Ali, "do
not favor thy relatives above all others, nor place the house of
Haschem on the neck of all mankind ;" and he gave the same
caution to Othman in respect to the family of Omeya.

Calling for ink and paper, he wrote a letter as his last testa
ment, to whosoever might be his successor, full of excellent
counsel for the upright management of affairs, and the promo
tion of the faith. He charged his son Abdallah in the most
earnest manner, as one of the highest duties of Islamism, to
repay eighteen thousand dirhems which he had borrowed out
of the public treasury. All present protested against this as
unreasonable, since the money had been expended in relief of
the poor and destitute, but Omar insisted upon it as his last
will. He then sent to Ayesha and procured permission of her
to be buried next to her father Abu Beker.

Ibn Abbas and Ah' now spoke to him in words of comfort,
setting forth the blessines? of Islam, which had crowned his
administration, and that he would leave no one behind hin>


who could charge him with injustice. " Testify this for me,*
said he, earnestly, "at the day of judgment." They gave him
their hands in promise ; but he exacted that they should give
him a written testimonial, and that it should be buried with
him in tb.3 grave.

Having settled all his worldly affairs, and given directions
about his sepulture, he expired, the seventh day after his
assassination, in the sixty-third year of his age, after a trium
phant reign of ten years and six months.

His death was rashly and bloodily revenged. Mahomet Ibn
Abu Beker, the brother of Ayesha, and imbued with her mis
chief-making propensity, persuaded Abdallah, the son of Omar,
that his father's murder was the result of a conspiracy ; Firuz
having been instigated to the act by his daughter Lulu, a
Christian named Dschofeine, and Hormuzan, the once haughty
and magnificent satrap of Susiana. In the transport of his
rage, and instigated by the old Arab principle of blood revenge,
Abdallah slew all three of the accused, without reflecting on
the improbability of Hormuzan, at least, being accessory to the
murder; being, since his conversion, in close friendship with
the late Caliph, and his adviser, on many occasions, in the
prosecution of the Persian war.

The whole history of Omar shows him to have been a man
of great powers of mind, inflexible integrity, and rigid justice.
He was, more than any one else, the founder of the Islam em
pire, confirming and carry ing out the inspirations of the prophet ;
aiding Abu Beker with his counsels during his brief Caliphat ;
and establishing wise regulations for the strict administration
of the laws throughout the rapidly -extending bounds of the
Moslem conquests. The rigid hand which he kept upon his
most popular generals in the midst of their armies, and in the
most distant scenes of their triumphs, give signal evidence of his
extraordinary capacity to rule. In the simplicity of his habits,
and his contempt for all pomp and luxury, he emulated the
example of the prophet and Abu Beker. He endeavored in
cessantly to impress the merit and policy of the same in his
letters to his generals. " Beware," he would say, " of Persian
luxury, both in food and raiment. Keep to the simple habits
of your country, and Allah will continue you victorious; de
part from them, and he will reverse your fortunes. " It was
his strong conviction of the truth of this policy, which made
him so severe in punishing all ostentatious style and luxurious
indulgence in his officers.


Some of his ordinances do credit to his heart as -wtll as his
head. He forbade that any female captive who had borne a
child should be sold as a slave. In his weekly distributions of
the surplus money of his treasury he proportioned them to the
wants, not the merits of the applicant. " God," said he, " has
bestowed the good things of this world to relieve our neces
sities, not to reward our virtues: those will be rewarded in
another world."

One of the early measures of his reign was the assigning
pensions to the most faithful companions of the prophet, and
those who had signalized themselves in the early service of the
faith. Abbas, the uncle of the prophet, had a yearly pension
of 200, 000 dirhems; others of his relatives in graduated pro
portions ; those veterans who had fought in the battle of Beder
5000 dirhems ; pensions of less amount to those who had dis
tinguished themselves in Syria, Persia, and Egypt. Each of
the prophet's wives was allowed ten thousand dirhems yearly,
and Ayesha twelve thousand. Hasan and Hosein, the sons of
Ali and grandsons of the prophet, had each a pension of five
thousand dirhems. On any one who found fault with these
disbursements out of the public wealth, Omar invoked the
curse of Allah.

He was the first to establish a chamber of accounts or ex
chequer ; the first to date events from the Hegira or flight of
the prophet : and the first to introduce a coinage into the Mos
lem dominions ; stamping the coins with the name of the reign
ing Caliph; and the words, " There is no God but God."

During his reign, we are told, there were thirty -six thousand
towns, castles, and strongholds taken ; but he was not a waste
ful conqueror. He founded new cities, established imporfc*n
marts, built innumerable mosques, and linked the newly AC-
quired provinces into one vast empire by his iron inflexi
bility of purpose. As has well been observed, "His Cali
phat, crowned with the glories of its triple conquest of Syria,
Persia, and Egypt, deserves to be distinguished as the heroic
age of Saracen history. The gigantic foundations of the Sara
cenic power were perfected in the short space of less than ten
years." Let it be remembered, moreover, that this great con
queror, this great legislator, this magnanimous sovereign, was
originally a rude, half -instructed Arab of Mecca. Well may
we say in regard to the early champions of Islam, "There
were giants in those days."

After the death of Omar the six nersons met together WQOD


he had named as a council to elect his successor. They were
All, Othman, Telha, Ibn Obeid'allah (Mahomet's son-in-law),
Zobeir, Abda'lrahman, Ibn Awf, and Saad Ibn Abu Wakkas.
They had all been personally intimate with Mahomet, and
were therefore styled THE COMPANIONS.

After much discussion and repeated meetings the Caliphat
was offered to Ali, on condition that he would promise to gov
ern according to the Koran and the traditions of Mahomet, and
the regulations established by the two seniors or elders, mean
ing the two preceding Caliphs, Abu Beker and Omar.

Ali replied that he would govern according to the Koran and
the authentic traditions ; but would, in all other respects, act
according to his own judgment, without reference to the ex
ample of the seniors. This reply not being satisfactory to the
council, they made the same proposal to Othman Ibn Affan,
who assented to all the conditions, and was immediately
elected, and installed three days after the death of his prede
cessor. He was seventy years of age at the time of his elec
tion. He was tall and swarthy, and his long gray beard was
tinged with henna. He was strict in his religious duties ; fast
ing, meditating, and studying the Koran ; not so simple in his
habits as his predecessors, but prone to expense and lavish
of his riches. His bountiful spirit, however, was evinced at
tunes in a way that gained him much popularity. In a time
of famine he had supplied the poor of Medina with corn. He
had purchased at great cost the ground about the mosque of
Medina, to give room for houses for the prophet's wives. He
had contributed six hundred and fifty camels and fifty horses
for the campaign against Tabuc.

He derived much respect among zealous Moslems for having
married two of the prophet's daughters, and for having been
in both of the Hegiras or flights, the first into Abyssinia, the
second, the memorable flight to Medina. Mahomet used to say
of him, "Each thing has its mate, and each man his associate:
my associate in paradise is Othman."

Scarcely was the new Caliph installed in office when the re
taliatory punishment prescribed by the law was invoked upon
Obeid'allah, the son of Omar, for the deaths so rashly inflicted
on those whom he had suspected of instigating his father's as
sassination. Othman was perplexed between the letter of the
law and the odium of following the murder of the father by
the execution of the son. He was kindly relieved from his per
plexity by the suggestior, thrt ? +he act of Obeid'allah took


place in the interregnum between the Caliphate of Omar and
Othrnan, it did not come under the cognizance of either. Oth-
man gladly availed himself of the quibble ; Obeid'allah escaped
unpunished, and the sacrifice of the once magnificent Hormu-
zan and his fellow-victims remained unavenged.



THE proud empire of the Khosrus had received its death-
, low during the vigorous Caliphat of Omar ; what signs of life
it yet gave were but its dying struggles. The Moslems, led
by able generals, pursued their conquests in different direc
tions. Some, turning to the west, urged their triumphant
way through ancient Assyria ; crossed the Tigris by the bridge
of Mosul, passing the ruins of mighty Nineveh as unheedingly
as they had passed those of Babylon ; completed the subjuga
tion of Mesopotamia, and planted their standards beside those
of their brethren who had achieved the conquest of Syria.

Others directed their course into the southern and eastern
provinces, following the retreating steps of Yezdegird. A fiat
issued by the late Caliph Omar had sealed the doom of that
unhappy monarch. "Pursue the fugitive king wherever he
may go, until you have driven him from the face of the

Yezdegird, after abandoning Bei, had led a wandering life,
shifting from city to city and province to province, still flying
at the approach of danger. At one tune we hear of him in the
pplendid city of Ispahan ; next among the mountains of Farsis-
tan, the original Persis, the ci exile of the conquerors of Asia;
and it is another of the lessons furnished by history, to see the
last of the Khosrus a fugitive among those mountains whence,
in foregone times, Cyrus had led his hardy but frugal and
rugged bands to win, by force of arms, that vast empire which
was now falling to ruin through its effeminate degeneracy.

For a time the unhappy monarch halted in Istakar, the
pride of Persia, where the tottering remains of Persepolis, and
its hall of a thousand columns, speak of the ancient glories of
the Persian kings. Here Yezdegird had been fostered and


concealed during his youthful days, and here he came neat
being taken among the relics of Persian magnificence.

From Farsistan he was driven to Kerman, the ancient Car-
mania; thence into Khorassan, in the northern part of which
vast province he took breath at the city of Merv, or Merou, on
the remote boundary of Bactriana. In all his wanderings he
was encumbered by the shattered pageant of an oriental court,
a worthless throng which had fled with him from Madayn,
and which he had no means of supporting. At Merv he had
four thousand persons in his train, all millions of the palace,
useless hangers-on, porters, grooms, and slaves, together with
his wives and concubines, and their female attendants.

In this remote halting-place he devoted himself to building
a fire-temple ; in the mean time he wrote letters to such of the
cities and provinces as were yet unconquered, exhorting his
governors and generals to defend, piece by piece, the frag
ments of empire which he had deserted.

The city of Ispahan, one or the brightest jewels of his
crown, was well garrisoned by wrecks of the army of Neha-
vend, and might have made brave resistance ; but its gover
nor, Kadeskan, staked the fortunes of the place upon a single
combat with the Moslem commander who had invested it, and
capitulated at the first shock of lances; probably through
some traitorous arrangement.

Ispahan has never recovered from that blow. Modern
travellers speak of its deserted streets, its abandoned palaces,
its silent bazaars. " I have ridden for miles among its ruins,"
says one, "without meeting any living creature, excepting
perhaps a jackal peeping over a wall, or a fox running into
his hole. Now and then an inhabited house was to be seen,
the owner of which might be assimilated to Job's forlorn man
dwelling in desolate cities, and in houses which no man in-
habiteth; which are ready to become heaps."

Istakar made a nobler defence. The national pride of the
Persians was too much connected with this city, once their
boast, to let it fall without a struggle. There was another
gathering of troops from various parts; one hundred and
twenty thousand are said to have united under the standard
of Shah-reg the patriotic governor. It was all in vain. The
Persians were again defeated in a bloody battle ; Shah-reg was
slain, and Istakar, the ancient Persepolis, once almost the
mistress of the Eastern world, was compelled to pay tribute
to the Arabian Caliph,


The course of Moslem conquest now turned into the vast
province of Khorassan ; subdued one part of it after another,
and approached the remote region where Yezdegird had taken
refuge. Driven to the boundaries of his dominions, the fugi
tive monarch crossed the Oxus (the ancient Gihon) and the
sandy deserts beyond, and threw himself among the shepherd
hordes of Scythia. His wanderings are said to have extended
to the borders of Tshin, or China, from the emperor of which
he sought assistance.

Obscurity hangs over this part of his story ; it is affirmed
that he succeeded in obtaining aid from the great Khan of the
Tartars, and re-crossing the Gihon was joined by the troops of
Balkh or Bactria, which province was still unsubdued and
loyal. With these he endeavored to make a stand against
his unrelenting pursuers. A slight reverse, or some secret
treachery, put an end to the adhesion of his barbarian ally.
The Tartar chief returned with his troops to Turkestan.

Yezdegird's own nobles, tired of following his desperate
fortunes, now conspired to betray him and his treasures into
the hands of the Moslems as a price for their own safety. He
was at that time at Merv, or Merov, on the Oxus, called Merou
al Roud, or " Merou of the River," to distinguish it from Merou
in Khorassan. Discovering the intended treachery of his
nobles, and of the governor of the place, he caused his slaves
to let him down with cords from a window of his palace and
fled, alone and on foot, under cover of the night. At the
break of day he found himself near a mill, on the banks of the
river, only eight miles from the city, and offered the miller
his ring and bracelets, enriched with gems, if he would ferry
him across the stream. The boor, who knew nothing of
jewels, demanded four silver oboli, or drachms, the amount ot
a day's earnings, as a compensation for leaving his work.
While they were debating, a party of horsemen who were ill
pursuit of the king came up and clove him with their scime-
tars. Another account states that, exhausted and fatigued
with the weight of his embroidered garments, he sought rest
and concealment in the mill, and that the miller spread a mat,
on which he laid down and slept. His rich attire, however,
his belt of gold studded with jewels, his rings and bracelets,
excited the avarice of the miller, who slew him with an axe
while he slept, and, having stripped the body, threw it into
the water. In the morning several horsemen in search ot
him arrived at the mill, where discovering, by his clothes ant 7


jewels, that he had been murdered, they put the miller to

This miserable catastrophe to a miserable career is said to
have occurred on the 23d August, in the year 651 of the Chris
tian era. Yezdegird was in the thirty-fourth year of his age,
having reigned nine years previous to the battle of Nehavend,
and since that event having been ten years a fugitive. His
tory lays no crime to his charge, yet his hard fortunes and un-
untimely end have failed to awaken the usual interest and
sympathy. He had been schooled in adversity from his early
youth, yet he failed to profit by it. Carrying about with him
the wretched relics of an effeminate court, he sought only his
personal safety, and wanted the courage and magnanimity to
throw himself at the head of his armies, and battle for his
crown and country like a great sovereign and a patriot prince.

Empires, however, like all other things, have their allotted
time, and die, if not by violence, at length of imbecility and
old age. That of Persia had long since lost its stamina, and
the energy of a Cyrus would have been unable to infuse new
life into its gigantic but palsied limbs. At the death of Yezde
gird it fell under the undisputed sway of the Caliphs, and be
came little better than a subject province.*



"IN the conquests of Syria, Persia, and Egypt," says a mod
ern writer, "the fresh and vigorous enthusiasm of the personal
companions and proselytes of Mahomet was exercised and ex-

* According to popular traditions in Persia, Yezdegird, in the course of his
wanderings, took refuge for a time in the castle of Fahender, near Schiraz, and
buried the crown jewels and treasures of Nushirwan, in a deep pit or well under
the castle, where they still remain guarded by a talisman, so that they cannot be
found or drawn forth. Others say that he had them removed and deposited in
trust with the Khacan, or emperor of Chin or Tartary. After the extinction of
the royal Persian dynasty, those treasures and the crown remained in Chin. Sir
William Ouseley's Travels in the East- vol. ii. j. 34.


penaed, and the generation of warriors whose simple fanati
cism had been inflamed by the preaching of the pseudo prophet,

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