The 4 Freedoms Library

It takes a nation to protect the nation

by History of Jihad 03 Jan, 2007

How the Chinese faced the danger of a Muslim occupation of China in the 8th century and how the Arab-Persian Muslim Invasion was beaten back in spite of initial military reverses?

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Jihad in China

Many eyebrows would be raised when we talk of a Muslim Jihad against China. When did that happen? We never hear about Muslim rule in China. Yes, there was a Muslim invasion of Western China. As there was of Persia, India, Byzantium, Spain, Balkans, etc.

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None of these countries had ever attacked a Muslim nation to bring about a retaliatory Muslim invasion. They had all been invaded by Muslims to compel the inhabitants to embrace Islam. The same happened with China. The Dawat-ul-Islam (Invitation to embrace Islam) was sent out by the Muslim gangster-prophet Mohammed-ibn-Abdallah to the kings of the neighboring countries, and if they did not submit to one of the two conditions viz: “Embrace Islam or Pay the Jaziya or face a Muslim invasion, then they had to face a Muslim Jihadi onslaught.

China was one of those countries which had been sent an invitation by the founder of Islam himself Mohammed-ibn-Abdallah to embrace Islam. This invitation had also been sent to three other kings of Zoroastrian Persia, of Christian Byzantine and to a Hindu king of Kerala in India.

The Chinese emperor did not quite understand the meaning of the ultimatum and thought that these were messengers from a far away land were bringing a spiritual message and welcomed them honorably. But unfortunately, the Chinese had to come face to face with the real danger of Islam a century later when in the year 751, they had to march to the borders of their empire in Western China to unsuccessfully repel an Arab Muslim invasion launched from Persia.

For much of the early 700s, the Chinese Empire, under the T'ang dynasty, was successful in its foreign affairs. They recovered crucial lands they had previously lost and stabilized the Tibetan frontier. They secured trade routes through central Asia and contained threats from the Turkic Khitan and Hsi peoples.

In the late 740s, Chinese troops claimed lordship over Kabul and Kashmir provinces of India. But their string of victorious campaigns could not last forever, as China discovered at Talas River in 751.

Islam's widespread aggression through Persia and Central Asia came into collusion with China's Westward expansion into Central Asia. This led to the meeting of the Arab Muslim invaders and the Chinese defending their homeland which finally erupted into open warfare at the Battle at Talas River, the only battle between Arab Muslim forces and the army of the Chinese Empire.

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The Chinese troops were led by Kao Hsien-chih, who had been successful in battles in Gilgit and in the Ferghana region. The Muslims were led by Ziyad ibn Salih, who was deputy to Abu Muslim (a Persian convert to Islam), with a band of 40,000 Ghazis (warriors crazed by Islam’s promise of wealth, women or martyrdom in heaven where the accursed Ghazis would be served by the many houris that the Terrorist Manifesto – the Quran falsely promises). These Ghazis came to China to wage a Jihad against the Chinese. When the Arab army marched from the south towards Talas. River, the Chinese general Kao (of Korean origin), decided to resist the Muslim invasion and marched towards Aulie-Ata on the Talas river with 100,000 Chinese troops in cavalry and infantry divisions.

In the Battle of the Talas river, the Qarluq Betrayal led to the defeat of the Chinese at Arab hands

On July 10th 751 AD the Arab and Chinese armies took to the field in Aulie-Ata on the backs of the Talas river. The Chinese cavalry seemed to initially overwhelm the Arab cavalry, but the Arabs had worked out a deal with one of the many Turkish contingents of the Chinese army viz., the Qarluq Turks, by promising them wealth and freedom in return for embracing Islam and betraying their Chinese masters.

The Qarluqs who held a grudge against the Chinese for having reduced them to vassalage, viewed this as an opportunity to throw off the Chinese yoke by using the Arabs and had planned to later throwing off the Arab Islamic yoke as well and regaining their freedom from both the Chinese and the Arabs. The Qarluqs later played the main role in converting other Turkish tribes notably the Seljuks to Islam.

At the Battle of the Talas river, the Qarluqs betrayed their own people the Chinese and went over to the Arabs

At the battle of the Talas river where the Arab and the Chinese armies clashed, the Qarluqs who were a part of the Chinese army, opened a breach in their own ranks and allowed the Arabs to ford the river and helped them to encircle a part of the Chinese infantry butchering it to a man.

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The Qarluq archers then surrounded their paymaster, the general of the Chinese army Kao and shot him down. Now the Arabs followed their heinous practice of sticking the severed head of an enemy and parading it before the enemy army.

The Chinese not being used to such grisly war tactics, fell into confusion and disarray, not knowing who had betrayed them, and their General Kao. They broke ranks and fell into confusion, shaking the Chinese center, which was rapidly assaulted by the Arab heavy cavalry and destroyed. Thus due to Muslim subterfuge and savagery the infallible Chinese war machine gave way under combined assault of the Arabs and the traitor Qarluqs, and the Chinese faced a heavy rout. From behind, the treacherous Qarluqs fell upon the Chinese supply and baggage trains and looted all they could and receded back into the steppe.

The Arabs rounded up tens of thousands of Chinese and their non-Qarluq Turkish allies and took them to Samarqand from where Abu Muslim sent them to Baghdad and Damascus to be sold as slaves, each worth a dirham. One Chinese survivor mentions being kept as cattle in the Arab prison camps. Abu Muslim and Ziyad made huge financial gains out of this slave trade and used it to pay their armies. More importantly the Arabs forced the Turkish and Chinese prisoners to teach them the art of making siege trains and catapult machines, which the Islamized Turks were to later use successfully in their attacks on the Byzantine cities.

The Qarluq Turks aimed at playing the Chinese and the Muslims against each other to gain their own independence

The Qarluq Turks wanted independence from the Chinese so they made a pretence of embracing Islam to obtain Arab support to defeat the Chinese. The Qarluqs had planned to later throw off the Arab yoke as well by repudiating Islam and regaining their freedom from both the Chinese and the Arabs.

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But little did the Qarluqs realize that in working out a deal with the Arabs, while they would succeed in throwing off the Chinese yoke, they would have to bring themselves into the fold of Islam, from which there was no escape!

The Qarluqs were forced to remain Muslim and whenever any of them reneged their Islamic faith, they were put to death while the luckier among them were enslaved by the Arabs and Persian Muslims. The later history of the Qarluqs was as Muslims who resigned themselves to remaining as satellites of the Arabs after having thrown off the Chinese yoke and with it also the only possibility of liberating themselves from the grip of Islam.

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Islam's widespread aggression through Persia and Central Asia ultimately reached the borders of China. This led to the meeting of the two powers in Central Asia which finally erupted into open warfare at the Battle at Talas River, the only battle between Arab Muslim forces and the army of the Chinese Empire.

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Unfortunately, it was this devious conversion of the Quarluqs, that was actually a pretense to throw off the Chinese yoke on the Turks, that led to the conversion of the greater Turkish nation to Islam in the next three centuries from 750 to 1050. The Turks who had aggressively retained their freedom from their neighbors the Chinese, and the Zoroastrian Persians for more than a millennium, finally began succumbing to Islam due to this tactical pretense of the Qarluqs, one of their important clans to pretend to embrace Islam for securing Arabs support and throwing off Chinese suzerainty. A deal that proved costly for Turkish independence that was now permanently enslaved into the prison of Islam!

B>The fallout of the Battle of the Talas river

While the battle in itself was of minor importance, its ramifications on the future were very significant. As the Arabs did not follow-up on their victory, they lost out on an opportunity to extend their Islamic influence throughout China and make China a Muslim country. On the other hand the T'ang (in China) lost a good amount of power and their westward advance was halted. But the Muslim success at the Talas river did not carry over, although the Muslim armies were victorious.

But the more significant fallout of the defeat at the battle of the Talas river was the arousal of the Turko-Mongol anger against the Muslims. The gradual bitterness that was planted among the Mongoloid peoples (Turks, Mongols and Chinese), since the first Muslim attacks on Turkish lands of Ferghana and Samarqand from the middle of the seventh century (650 C.E.), and which were taken to the border of China proper in 751 at the Battle of the Talas river, provoked a violent backlash of the Mongols against the Muslims.

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A Chinese Hui Muslim.

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After the victory at the Talas river, the Muslims faced increasing resistance from the Chinese and their Turko-Mongol allies. So the Muslims decided to concentrate on consolidating their position in Central Asia and converting the Turks to Islam. Hence they postponed their eastward invasion into China proper. This decision of the Arabs in 751, was to save China from Islam, as in the following centuries, the Mongol who belonged to the wider Chinese (Mongoloid) nation gathered sufficient strength to launch a fierce counter attack against the Muslims from 1200 onwards that culminated in the sack and destruction of Baghdad in 1258 C.E., by Hulagu Khan, the leader of the Mongols.

But the Muslim victory on the Talas river also had its negative fallout in the conversion of the Chinese border population to Islam, the Qarluq Turks were followed by the Ughirs and the Hui Chinese (a branch of the Han Chinese) into accepting the faith imposed on them by the Arabs. The Chinese who converted to Islam gradually gave up their rich Chinese heritage and became Arabized, although they continued to look Mongoloid like the Chinese. Today the descendants of the Hui, Ughirs, and Qarluq populate the Westernmost Chinese province of Xinjiang and are agitating for a separate Islamic state called Eastern Turkestan. Many of them are sympathetic to the Al Qaeda but their attempts to secede from China have been so far successfully resisted by the Chinese Communist regime.

Tags: (650-751), Zchina, Zimperialism, Zjihad

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