Of all the great nations of the world that have contributed to the building of human civilization, none perhaps have wielded the sword and pen with equal success than the nomadic Arabs. Issuing from their desert tents, they, in a remarkably short time, founded the mightiest Empire of the Mediaeval era, which stretched from the shores of the Atlantic in the West to the walls of China in the East. Their territorial conquests were not like those of Changiz, Hulaku, Atilla and Hannibal, culminating in the destruction of humanity and civilization. Instead, the Arab conquerors were the harbingers, protectors and patrons of civilizations and cultures. They proved to be the greatest administrators and reformers. In this way, they had won the hearts of the conquered races and ruled not only on their bodies but also on their souls. Thus they brought about the greatest revolution in the history of mankind-a revolution which embraced all branches of human activity.

The outstanding Generals, during the Caliphate Rashida, were Khalid bin Waleed, Saad ibn Al-Wakka’s and Anir bin al-Aas and during the Umayyad Caliphate were Musa bin Nusair, Tariq bin Ziyad Qutaiba and Muhammad bin Qasim.

The Umayyad power reached its zenith during the reign of Waleed. The brilliant military achievements during his regime centre on the name of Muhammad bin Qasim in the East and Musa ibn Nusair in the West. “The conquests on the Western front”, writes Phillip K. Hitti, in his outstanding work, The History of the Arabs, “Under Musa ibn Nusair and his lieutenants, were no less brilliant and spectacular than those on the East by al-Hajjaj and his Generals”.

Musa ibn Nusair was born in 640 A.C. His father was the Police Chief of “Amir Muawiya”. His talents as an administrator and man of valour were early recognized and he was appointed by Caliph Abdul Malik as Collector of Revenue at Basra. Later, he was appointed as the Viceroy of Africa and governed over a vast territory extending from the borders of Egypt to the shores of the Atlantic. He administered his vast territories with a firm hand and introduced several reforms. The Berbers found in their new Viceroy an outstanding administrator as well as an extraordinary military genius. Musa and his troops then entered on a career of successful conquests which ended in the consolidation of Arab power in Africa and the conquest of the rest of North Africa and Spain.

By a series of daring and brilliant operations carried out by himself and his sons, Musa broke the Berber opposition, drove out the Greek conspirators, and pacified the entire country. His wise administration and his conciliatory attitude endeared him to the Berbers and won him their confidence. He administered from Al-Qayrawan and was directly under the Caliph. The forbearance and equality, chivalry, and fraternity justice, and tolerance showed by the new conquerors towards the conquered races, won their hearts so much so that within a short time the entire Berber nation embraced Islam. They, in later years, became a formidable force, who carried the banner of Islam as far as the heart of France.

The Islamic countries of North Africa were harassed by the Byzantine Navy, stationed in the Mediterranean Islands. Musa, therefore, sent an expedition, and the strategic Mediterranean islands of Majorca, Minorca, and Ivica were captured and under the Islamic rule soon became extremely flourishing regions. “Musa’s viceroyalty”, writes Amer Ali, “was now almost equal to that of Hajjaj in extent; but its importance in the demand for administrative ability and generalship was far greater”,

Musa, who had driven the Byzantines out of Africa forever, had pushed his conquest up to the shores of the Atlantic, thus securing a point for the invasion of Europe. In 710 A.C., the first reconnaissance was made under the leadership of Tariq, an illustrious lieutenant of Musa. In the following year, Tariq ibn Ziyad landed in Spain with a small force of 7,000 men. A decisive battle was fought at the mouth of river Barbate between the tiny force of Tariq and the huge army of the Gothic King, Roderick, comprising one lakh soldiers in which the Christians were routed with terrible losses. Now, Tariq made a triumphal march into Spain, meeting little resistance. A year later, Musa too entered Spain with 10,000 Arabs and taking a different course captured Merida, Sidonia, and Seville. Merida was taken by storm. Musa joined Tariq at Toledo and the two conquerors pushed on as far as the Pyrenees. In less than two years the whole of Spain was in Muslim hands. Portugal was conquered, a few years after, and was named al-Gharb. (The West). “In its swiftness of execution and completeness of success”, writes Phillip K. Hitti, “This expedition into Spain holds a unique place in Mediaeval military annals”. Leaving Tariq behind, Musa crossed into France and conquered a part of Southern France. “Standing on the Pyrenees”, writes Ameer Ali, “the dauntless Viceroy conceived the project of conquering the whole of Europe; and in all human probability had he been allowed to carry his plan into execution, he would have succeeded. The West lay completely at his feet… … The cautious and hesitating policy of the Damascus Court lost the glorious opportunity, with the consequence that Europe remained enveloped in intellectual darkness for the next centuries”.

Musa was engaged in reducing a few guerrilla bands in the defiles of the Pyrenees when orders were received from the Caliph, summoning him and Tariq to Damascus.

Musa made a triumphal march through Africa, but they were not well received by the new Umayyad Caliph Sulaiman. Musa died in Syria in 98 A.H. (716-17 A.C.).

Before leaving Spain, Musa made all necessary arrangements for the Government of the country. He made one of his sons as Viceroy of Spain with his Headquarters at Seville and entrusted the charge of Africa to his con Abdullah, a great warrior, and administrator.

The discipline shown by the Muslim conquerors is unique in the history of military conquests. Musa also withstood this test magnificently and when the whole of Europe lay at his feet and he was on his triumphal march, he preferred to cut short his career and obeyed the orders of the Caliph summoning him to Damascus.

Musa was a great warrior, an outstanding General, a wise administrator, and above all a great Disciplinarian. It was on account of such capable men that Islam established its supremacy and permanent footing on extensive territories of the world and that too in such a short time.


Hazrat Sa’ad ibn Wakka’s, one of the oldest and most trusted companions of the Prophet of Islam, was the conqueror of Iraq and Persia. He was a great Arab General, who embraced Islam at the early age of 17. He was one of the ten Companions of the Prophet who were promised Paradise during their lifetime.

Hazrat Sa’ad was a famous warrior and General who took a leading part in the battles of “Badr” and “Uhd” and also in the campaigns that followed. When Muthanna who assumed command of Muslim forces at Al Hira (Iraq) after the departure of Khalid bin Waleed to Syria, asked for reinforcements in order to meet the threat of the ever-increasing Persian hordes, the Second Caliph of Islami himself wanted to assume the command. A large force gathered at Madina and Umar wanted to march at their head. Great enthusiasm prevailed there. But he was dissuaded by his Companions, who insisted that the central authority should remain in the Capital. At last Sa’ad ibn Wakka’s was selected to assume the Chief command. The entire campaign in Iraq was planned by the Caliph himself, who was daily informed of the developments in the military situation.

Sa’ad ibn Wakka’s, the trusted Companion of the Prophet and highly respected by Muslims, advanced with a force of 20 thousand Muslims. His army contained about 400 Companions of the Prophet and their 700 sons. Sa’ad advanced towards Kadessia, where the formidable Persian forces under their famous General Rustani were encamped and were harassing the neighboring Muslim dominions. Here, in the Summer of 637 A.C., a memorable battle was fought, which was hotly contested lasting for several days. The Muslim soldiers fought like real heroes and displayed great feats of bravery which unnerved and discomfited the enemy. Illness prevented Sa’ad from taking part in the battle personally, but a shrewd and skillful soldier as he was, very ably he directed the whole operations from a housetop, situated by the side of the battle-field.

The Muslims, for the first time, encountered an array of elephant and the Arab horses could hardly be controlled while facing these black giants. The Muslim army had been suffering heavily. Seeing this, Sa’ad ordered a charge with lances on the elephants. Accordingly, the Arabs made a fierce charge on the elephants with pointed lances and pushed them back and made them flee from the battle-field in panic.

Kaaka, a renowned Arab warrior, who joined the Muslim forces in the thick of the battle, challenged two renowned Persian warriors to personal combat and killed both of them. A number of famous Persian warriors were slain.

The battle of “Kadessia”, which lasted several days, was at its highest pitch. Abu Mahjan, the celebrated Arab warrior and poet, was at the time in chains due to drinking wine. He was extremely impatient to take part in the battle. He implored the Commander’s wife to let him participate in the battle on the undertaking that if he survived, he would willingly come back to their custody. The Commander’s wife agreed and gave him Sa’ad’s horse. All of a sudden an unknown warrior made a fierce charge on the Persian ranks who were at the moment routing the Muslims at certain points of the theatre of war. With his swift lightning charge, Abu Mahjan paralyzed the entire Persian defense, and when in the evening, he returned to Sa’ad’s custody he was pardoned by the Commander. In return, the poet swore not to taste the wine again.

On the last day of the battle, Kaaka made an attack on the leading white elephant and drove his lance into his eyes. With his sword, he cut down his trunk. Bleeding profusely and trumpeting frantically the white elephant turned back and with him, other elephants, too, fled in panic. Thereupon, the Muslims made a fierce charge and pushed back the Persian forces. Their great General Rustam fled in panic and was killed while swimming across a canal.

Defeated with terrible loss, their General killed, the Persians fled towards the North. The battle of Kadessia practically decided the fate of Persia. Sa’ad was now the master of the whole of Iraq.

Hazrat Umar, the Second Caliph of Islam, was extremely anxious about the outcome of the battle of Kadessia. He used to wait outside Madina for the messenger who regularly brought him reports about the war situation. At last, one day, he met the camel driver bringing the news of victory. The Caliph did not disclose his identity and quickly followed him enquiring about the news. He broke the news to the people assembled in the Mosque of the Prophet.

After receiving the submission of neighboring towns, Sa’ad now advanced towards Babylon. Here some of the famous Persian warriors including Firuzan, Hurmuzan, and Mihran, had reassembled the scattered Persian forces. But they could not withstand the initial charge of Sa’ad and fled in panic. Mihran escaped to Madain, Hurmuzan fled to Ahwaz and Firuzan to Nehawand. It was difficult to hold Chaldea. The fall of Madain, the Capital of the young Persian King Yezdjard was now imminent where Mihran was encamped with a strong Persian force.

Madain was situated on the Tigris. This river lay between the Muslim and Persian forces. On approaching the bank of the river, Sa’ad observed that the Persians had blown up the bridge. He plunged his horse into the river which was in flood.

His army followed him and in a few moments crossed the river without breaking their lines. The Persians watching this seemingly impossible feat cried out, “The Demons have come”, and fled in panic. The Persian Emperor, too, hurriedly fell back leaving behind his luxurious palaces and countless booty into Sa’ad’s hands.

The fall of Madain led to the submission of the entire country lying west of the Tigris to Muslims. A service of thanksgiving, led by Sa’ad, was held in the Palace of Chosroes.

Sa’ad, the civil and military Governor of Iraq, made Madain his Headquarters. He administered the conquered country very ably. The Persian King made one more effort to recapture Madain. He sent a large force that was defeated with terrible losses. According to Tabari, more than one lakh Persians perished in this battle and the Arabs captured vast booty. Seeing the rich spoils of Jalula, the Caliph wept bitterly. Asked for its reason, he replied that he saw in that wealth the ruin of his people.

During the Governorship of Sa’ad, the foundation of the Arab settlement of Kufa was laid, which soon grew to be an important, prosperous city, military and literary center.

Sa’ad was nominated by the Second Caliph of Islam, on his death bed as one of the six trusted Companions of the Prophet of Islam to choose the next Caliph. Hazrat Usman, the Third Caliph of Islam, reappointed him as the Governor of Kufa.

Sa’ad ibn Wakka’s retired to Akik during the Caliphate of Hazrat Ali and passed a retired and peaceful life till his death in 50 A.H. (670 A.C.) at a ripe age of 70. He was buried at Madina.


Babur, the founder of the great Mughal Empire in India, was a direct descendant of the two greatest conquerors of the world: Timur and Chengiz Khan-from the former from father’s side and from the latter from mother’s side.

Born in 1482 at Farghana, a small town situated in a charming country of vales and mountains, enclosed by the Amu Darya and Syr Darya, abounding in roses, melons and pomegranates, and reputed for all sorts of games and sports, Zahiruddin Muhammad, surnamed Babur “the Tiger” was a Chagatai Turk by race.

His father, Sheikh Umar, was a pleasant brave man whose generosity was large and who possessed great humour and eloquence. Babur’s uncle, a great soldier, was the King of Samarkand.

Babur himself, a true child of the race, was handsome, affable and fearless, an expert polo player and a deadly shot with the bow. He could swim across mighty rivers and could climb mountains with two men under his arms.

In 1494 A.C. Sheikh Umar died in an accident. Immediately anarchy broke out in Samarkand and Babur had to flee for his life. Three years later, he captured Samarkand. But his stay there was shortlived. His enemy seized it again when he was out on an expedition. Being driven once more into exile, he wandered for three years and in 1500 A.C. he swooped down on Samarkand with a handful of men and recaptured it. The boy King was seated on the throne of his world-famous ancestor-Timur-in Samarkand, the glorious city of orchards and pleasure gardens, adorned with a magnificent Friday Mosque, Colleges, Observatory and the Famous Palace of the Forty Pillars.

Babur was not destined to stay there for long. The following year, Shahi Beg, the great Khan of the Uzbeg expelled him from Samarkand. Young Babur once again found himself a fugitive. He wandered for four years and turned towards the south to Kabul which was ruled by one of his uncles.

His uncle died, leaving the state of Kabul in disorder, Babur occupied Kabul in October 1504 and henceforth he embarked upon a meteoric career.

He liked Kabul and the country surrounding it, known for variegated luscious flowers and fruits. In 1512 A.C., he again got a chance of capturing Samarkand but his triumph was short-lived, lasting for eight months only.

Finally returning to Kabul, he thought out a plan of conquering India, a land of gold, watered by the mighty Indus and Ganges.

On Friday, November 17, 1525, A.C., Babur set out for India with a force of 12,000 men. The Lodhi Governor of Lahore, Daulat Khan, promised to help him against his master Ibrahim Lodhi, King, of Delhi. When Babur reached Lahore the treacherous Daulat Khan changed his mind but was easily defeated.

Babur marched upon Delhi, Capital of the Afghan Empire, ruled over by Ibrahim Lodhi.

The two armies met on April 21, 1526, on the historic plain of Panipat Babur’s force was hardly a tenth of his enemy’s but it was better disciplined and equipped with a number of firearms unknown in the East.

Babur followed the traditional Mongol maneuver to camouflage the bound wagons, and while the enemy was attacking them, to counter-attack simultaneously on both flanks with swift masses of cavalry.

The unskilful young Ibrahim Lodhi was tempted to make a frontal attack led by his war elephants. This was what Babur desired. Withholding his fire till the elephants came at point-blank range, he suddenly opened fire. The savage brutes stampeded and turned around on their own men. Babur, thereafter, made a fierce cavalry charge which totally routed the enemy.

By midday the battle was over, Sultan Ibrahim Lodhi was killed and lost 20,000 men. Immense spoils including the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond fell into the hands of Babur’s men. Babur marched on Delhi, which capitulated without any resistance. He was proclaimed as the Emperor of Hindustan from the pulpit of the Friday Mosque in Delhi.

Babur settled down to rule over India. He had a very poor opinion of India and its inhabitants. He set to work to make India more tolerable for himself and for that purpose he laid out gardens and orchards containing fruit trees and flower plants of his choice. He built palaces of his choice dotted with fountains and aqueducts.

But a vital danger still loomed large over the horizon. He had to face a greater challenge thrown by the veteran Rajput Ruler, Rana Sangram Singh, the “Sun of Mewar“, better known as Rana Sanga. The Rajput army, comprising 80,000 horse and 500 elephants and commanded by 120 Chieftains of ancient lineage, was the flower of Hindu chivalry. The Rana himself, a mere “fragment of a man”, who had lost an arm and an eye on the battlefield had fought 18 pitched battles against the Afghans.

Babur advanced from Agra to a place called Kanua, where he awaited the approach of Rajput forces. He adopted the Mongol tactics. “His waggons were bound together with iron chains, with the cannons at intervals, and, in addition, he had mounted his matchlocks on wheeled tripods which could be moved quickly to the threatened point. His flanks were protected by deep ditches and entanglements”.

The Mughal army became somewhat nervous at the arrival of the mighty Rajput force. But their leader was not a man to lose heart. He took a vow that if God gave him the victory he would never taste the wine again. He made a memorable speech before his men :
“Noblemen and soldiers! Every man who comes into the world is subjected to death. When we pass away and are gone, God only survives, unchangeable. Whoever comes to the feast of life must, before it is over, drink from the cup of death. He who arrives in the inn of mortality must one day inevitably take his departure from this house of sorrow, the world. How much better it is to die with honour than to live with infamy!”

“The Most High God has been propitious to us, and has now placed us in such a crisis, that if we fall in the field we die the death of martyrs; if we survive, we rise victorious, the avengers of the cause of God. Let us then, with one accord, swear on God’s Holy Word that none of us will even think of turning his face from this warfare, nor desert from the battle and slaughter that ensues, till his soul is separated from his body.”

The army electrified by these noble words swore to fight till death. On March 16, 1527, the Rajput army appeared on the scene. Babur divided his army into three portions, with a strong reserve. The attack started soon. Wave after wave of Rajputs threw themselves against the gallant Mughals and Babur’s artillery did a terrible slaughter. When the Rajputs were exhausted, Babur ordered a simultaneous attack on the centre and on either flank. The Rajputs were routed with terrible losses and were pursued relentlessly to their camp. A minaret of Rajput heads was erected on the battlefield. Babur, with his small force, hardly one-ninth of the mighty Rajput force, had smashed the Hindu power in India forever.

The next year Babur captured the stronghold of Chanderi. The same year his forces overthrew the Afghan kingdom of Bihar and Bengal and he became the undisputed Emperor of India, and the foundations of the great Mughal Empire were laid firmly on the Indian soil.

But Babur was not destined to live long to enjoy the fruits of his labour and administer his vast Empire. He undertook the task of beautifying his new Capital, Agra, with gardens, palaces and buildings. In December 1529, he held a grand Durbar, attended by ambassadors from Persia, Herat and Bengal.

In December 1530, his most beloved son, Humayun fell seriously ill. All medical treatment proved ineffectual. Some wise men suggested the life of the Crown Prince could be saved only if the Emperor sacrificed his most precious thing. He at once offered to sacrifice his most precious thing, life, to save Humayun. Walking thrice round the sick Prince’s bed, he prayed, “On me be the sickness”. Then he cried out ecstatically, “I have succeeded! I have taken it”. From that moment Humayun gradually recovered and Babur sickened and died on December 26, 1530 A.C.

He was buried in a beautiful garden on the hillside of Kabul, where he once delighted to sit and gaze on the beautiful and panoramic world around.

Babur, a great warrior General, was a litterateur of repute. He was well versed in Persian and Turkish languages. Besides being an accomplished poet, he was a well-known writer of Persian prose and his Memoirs bear an immortal testimony to it.


The great Ottoman Empire, spread over three continents-Europe, Asia, and Africa-was like a tongue, surrounded by 32 teeth-the Christian European States—which were continuously plotting against it. It was headed by a succession of six brilliant rulers, who, side by side with braving the onslaughts of Christian monarchs, extended the boundary of the Turkish Empire up to the gates of Vienna. The greatest of all Ottoman Emperors was Sulaiman I, better known in history as Sulaiman, the “Magnificent”, or Sulaiman, the “Lawgiver”.

Sulaiman, son of the Ottoman Emperor Salim and Aisha Sultan, was born in 1494-95 A.C. He was given a thorough education, both in the arts of war and peace, by his illustrious father. Later, he was appointed the Governor of Maghnisa and ascended the throne on September 20, 1520, A.C., eight days after his father’s death.

Thereafter, started a career, which was brilliant both in war as well as in peace and won for Sulaiman an honored place amongst the greatest rulers of the world. A man of indomitable will and untiring energy, as he was, he proved his greatness on the battlefield and at the conference table alike. He was essentially a man of peace who ceaselessly strove for the peace and prosperity of his people, but when the call for war came, he was never found wanting and always took the field in person.

Sulaiman took part in 13 major campaigns-ten in Europe and three in Asia. The first campaign against Belgrade was provoked by the ill-treatment by the King of Hungary of the Turkish Envoy who had gone to collect annual tribute from him. The Ottoman army advanced under the Grand Vizier Piri Pasha and captured Belgrade on August 29, 1521. This was preceded by the fall of Sabacz, Danubian town, to the Ottoman forces. Sulaiman, the Magnificent, entered Belgrade on August 30 and stationed a Brigade there.

The following year he captured Rhodes, a strategic island, from the knights of St. John who had been for long a “menace to the Ottoman power because they supported the Christian Corsairs”.

The Grand Vizier Piri Pasha was replaced by Ibrahim Pasha who remained a faithful companion of the Sultan till his sudden execution in 1536.

In 1524 Sulaiman set out with the Grand Vizier, arrived in Belgrade on July 15, took Peterwarden, and crossed the Drave at Eszed. Here in August 1524, was fought a bloody battle against the Hungarian army which was routed with terrible losses. The Hungarian resistance was completely crushed. The Sultan advanced further and occupied Hungarian Capital, Budapest, on September 11. The Capital was in flames despite Sultan’s orders to the contrary.

The victorious Sultan returned to Constantinople in November to deal with trouble in Asia Minor. Meanwhile, the war continued in Bosnia, Dalmatia, and Slavonia.

Disturbed conditions in Hungary, obliged the energetic Sultan to set out in May 1529 for his new expedition, known as the Vienna campaign. Budapest capitulated on September 8 and the Sultan installed Zapolya as King of Hungary. The Turks reached the gates of Vienna and laid siege to the famous city on September 27 which was raised on October 15. In the following two years, the war with Austria continued.

In 1532, Sulaiman undertook a campaign against Charles V, King of Spain, and captured Guns after a long-drawn siege. The Sultan remained in Syria for the next few months and the Spanish King did not dare to face him.

The Sultan’s return to Constantinople was soon followed by an armistice with Austria signed on January 14, 1533.

His sixth campaign was directed against Persia, which was caused by Ottoman claims to Bitles and Baghdad. The Grand Vizier, Ibrahim Pasha, occupied Tabriz in July 1534. The Ottoman army marched towards Baghdad via Hamadan without meeting any resistance. The Sultan made a ceremonial entry into Baghdad on November 30, 1534. During his four months stay in the historic city he built the mausoleum of Imam Abu Hanifa and meanwhile visited a number of historic cities including Kufa, Najef, and Karbala.

The next two campaigns in 1541 and 1543 took him again to Hungary, where the death of Zapolya in 1540 had put that country into commotion. The Sultán entered Budapest in August 1541 and placed the country under the direct Ottoman Administration. In 1543, he captured a number of towns including Valpo, Siklos, Funfkirchen, Gran, and Stunl-Weisenberg.

His relations with Persia had become more strained, while the Hungarian war had come to an end through a seven-year truce with Ferdinand of Austria who undertook to pay an annual tribute of 30,000 ducats. The Persian campaign of 1548-49, provoked by the Shah of Persia’s brother Elkas Mirza ended following the latter taking refuge in the Ottoman Court. Sulaiman entered Tabriz, spent his winter in Aleppo, while his Vizier had made some conquests in Georgia.

The Sultan’s outstanding campaign was directed against Austria on account of the Ottoman claim over Szigeth which was besieged in August 1565. The city capitulated on September 8, 1565, while the Sultan died on September 5/6 and did not live to witness it.

The last few years of the Sultan were darkened by the death of his son Khurram and the conflict between his sons Salim and Bayazid, which ended with the execution of the latter. Hence the Sultan’s death was kept a secret for three weeks in order to prevent trouble in the army and to enable Salim Il to ascend the throne. The Sultan was buried in the Sulaimaniya Mosque at Constantinople.

Sulaiman made the Ottomans the most invincible power in the world, both on land and sea. In the battles fought on land, the Ottoman forces were mostly led by Sulaiman himself, while on the sea, his able Admiral Khairuddin Barbarossa had become a terror for the Spanish, Genoese, and Valentine fleets and had established Ottoman supremacy over the Mediterranean. He captured a number of islands in the Mediterranean and almost all important North African ports, including Tunis. He was responsible for the great naval victory of the Ottoman Fleet in the Mediterranean against the Spanish Fleet commanded by Admiral Andreas Doria and successive Ottoman victories on the African, Italian and Dalmatian coasts.

The enormous expansion of the Ottoman Empire under Sulaiman was the result of his untiring energy and exceptional military skill as well as the military system he had evolved. His great victories brought fundamental changes in the position of the Empire in international affairs. The Christians who lost all hopes of driving the Turks out of Europe concluded the famous alliance with Turkey through Francis I of France.

“He was a born ruler of remarkable dignity”, writes a Chronicler; “a striking figure in the midst of a brilliant Court”. He made the Ottoman Empire an undisputedly supreme power in the world—both among Christians and Muslims. He was fortunate to secure the services of brilliant men for Turkey, including Admiral Khairuddin Barbarossa, Mufti Kamal Pasha, and Architect Sinan. Each one played his brilliant role in making Turkey the most powerful State in the world.

Sulaiman’s contribution to the peace and prosperity of his people, to the cultural achievements and legislative reforms of his country, was as great as his territorial conquests. It was a period of intense literary and artistic creation in which the Ottoman civilization expressed its personality to the full. Constantinople became the centre of Islamic civilization and culture as well as the centre of its political power.

Sulaiman has been recognized as a great patron of art and literature. The Ottoman civilization gained its own special character in the fields of literature and art under him. A poet himself, Sulaiman recognized and encouraged talents in others, among them were the Turkish poets Baki and Fazuli whose works have become classics. Sulaiman himself composed several ghazals and diwans. In this way, his glorious reign developed art, poetry, literature, and architecture as never before.

Sulaiman is recognized as a great builder. The development of architecture owes much to his initiative and the famous Turkish architect Sinan raised some of the greatest Turkish architectures under his patronage. These included the mosques in Constantinople, namely the famous Sulaimaniya, built-in 1550-56 where Sulaiman, the Magnificent, Sulaiman II, and Ahmad II lie buried; Salimiya built-in 1522 in memory of Salim I; Shahzadi Jami, built-in 1547-48, in memory of Prince Muhammad and containing the mortal remains of Prince Jahangir; the Kassaki Jami, built-in 1539, in memory of Khurram Sultan. Two more mosques were built in Stanbool and Scutari, in memory of Princess Mehr-o-Mah, wife of the Grand Vizier Rustam Pasha. All these mosques, except the Salimiya, are the works of architect Sinan. The Amirs and dignitaries of the Ottoman Empire vied with one another in building a large number of mosques and works of Sinan included the aqueducts of Constantinople and the Sultan’s Palace at Scutari.

The Sultan did not confine his architectural works to Turkey alone. He built the mausoleum of Imam Abu Hanifa at Baghdad and the tomb of Maulana Jalaluddin Roomi at Konia. He built aqueducts at Makkah and was responsible for the restoration of the walls of Jerusalem, and the beautification of the Kaaba. Throughout Turkey, today, fountains, aqueducts, schools, and other monuments of public interest bear the stamp of Sinan and his school.

As a Legislator, he gave Turkey stable institutions and a legal system that remained unchanged for centuries thereafter. This earned him the title of Sulaiman, “the Law Giver” (Qanuni). His legislative system promulgated throughout the Empire, dealt mainly with the laws relating to the reorganization of the armed forces, military, feudality, landed property, the police, and the feudal code. Thus, by his enactments, he brought together a system of laws and reformed the administration of the army, the land tenure system, and the collection of taxes. He opposed the inheritance of high positions, hitherto followed in the Ottoman Empire and thus prevented the establishment of separate fiefs within the State.

His treatment of his Christian subjects was generous; he conferred on them some of the highest positions in the State.

Sulaiman was a pious and religious-minded ruler. The short and fervid prayer uttered by him before the battle of Mohacs and the humility with which he assisted the bearers of the bier of Gul Baba after the occupation of Budapest in 1529 is ample testimony to this fact. He had copied eighth volumes of the Quran which are preserved in the Sulaimaniya Mosque. He strictly followed the tenets of Islam. He was undoubtedly the greatest of Ottoman Sultans who ranks amongst the greatest rulers of the world. He was just and generous, capable and energetic, wise and prudent, and a real leader of his people in war and peace alike. With him ended the line of the great Turkish Sultans.


Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, which had witnessed its golden era during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the thirty years of the unprecedented glorious rule of the four Pious Caliphs, better known as “Khilafat-e-Rashida”, later degenerated into a regrettable state of disintegration and discord, lasting for about a thousand years.

With the decline of the Abbaside Caliphate, the Arabian peninsula was left to its fate, culminating into tribal rivalries and discord which led to its degeneration. The Ottomans, no doubt, did take interest in the building of Holy Shrines in the cities of Makkah and Madina, but they paid little interest to the welfare of the Arabs, who were groaning under poverty and tribal strife. They acted on the well-known maxim of divide and rule by setting one tribe against the other. The Western powers, too, had shown their interest in Arab affairs, particularly in the Gulf States by the end of 18th Century A.C. The British people, who entered Arabia as peacemakers, later proved to be exploiters of Arab interests and were responsible for installing Sharif Hussain as King of Hejaz and his two sons as Rulers of their protectorates in Iraq and Trans-Jordon. They had, under Balfour Declaration, planned setting up a Jewish State in the heart of the Arab World (Palestine) which proved to be a trouble spot in the Middle East and continues to be a threat to world peace.

There was born in 1703 A.C. in Najd a great Muslim visionary, Muhammad Abd al-Wahab, who later started a Muslim puritan movement in Najd which aimed at bringing Islam to its pristine glory. This interpretation of Islam was later adopted by the Saudi Ruling family in 1744 A.C. The Wahabi movement was aimed at purifying Islam of the superficial and superstitious practices which had crept into it due to non-Islamic influences.

The Mowahhid (Wahabi) movement started by Muhammad Abd al-Wahab found its great exponent in the Ruling Saudi family, and his great disciple Sheikh Muhammad Abduh later became one of the leading intellectuals of the Islamic world.

Abd al-Aziz ibn Abd al-Rehman ibn Faisal al-Saud, the Founder in 1932 of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was born in 1880 A.C., at the Saudi Capital of Riyadh in Najd. In the turbulent society of Arabia, occasional tribal leaders have influenced the world scene. Such a leader was Abd al-Aziz. He ranks among the foremost figures of his age-a person who has left ineffaceable prints on the pages of world history. Not since the Arabian Prophet and his Four Companions (Pious Caliphs) called a nation into being, had so much of the Arabian Peninsula been assembled under one man. He was greatly instrumental in bringing about the unity and solidarity of the Arabs, inhabiting the vast Arabian Peninsula, and has earned for them an honorable place in the comity of nations. The House of Saud, later on, had a chequered career, witnessing occasional rise and fall until the emergence of Abd al-Aziz to power, who founded the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932.

By the beginning of the 20th century A.C., the youthful Abd al-Aziz, better known as Ibn Saud, with 200 comrades-in-arms undertook the reconquest of his Saudi patrimony. On 15th January 1902, Abd al-Aziz, with 15 warriors, captured Riyadh in a dramatic surprise attack. His parting words to his father were: “You will see me victorious or will never see me again”. But his father did see him victorious. This exceptionally courageous feat of young Abd al-Aziz which will go down as one of the most daring exploits recorded in history makes the starting point in the history of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. During the next decade, he proceeded to reconquer Najd and other cities and provinces from Rashidi’s.

Before he could settle down, Abd al-Aziz had to solve three outstanding problems:

  1. Hostility of neighboring Arab States,
  2. Ottoman opposition supported by Rashidis and Sharif Hussain, appointed Amir of Makkah in 1908, and
  3. British policy of keeping status quo in the Persian Gulf. He was successful in tackling all three problems.

His first move was to strengthen ties between his dynasty and descendants of Wahabis. He founded a military religious organization of Ikhwan (Brethren). The Ikhwan in their first major operation expelled Turks from Al-Hasa in 1913, thus giving Abd al-Aziz direct access to the Persian Gulf. During 1921-22 Abd al-Aziz conquered Hai’l, and all Rashidi territories and assumed the title of Sultan of Najd and its dependencies.

Meanwhile, his relations with Sharif Hussain of Makkah who, during the Great War I, had become the King of Hejaz and self-proclaimed Caliph in 1924, had rapidly deteriorated. This unwise step by Sharif Hussain was much resented by the Arabs and the Muslim world. This necessitated military action by Abd al-Aziz, who captured Jeddah in December 1925. Sharif Hussain abdicated and his son Ali surrendered on January 8, 1926. Abd al-Aziz ruled the Holy Land as a Trust till the inhabitants themselves chose him as their King. He was proclaimed as the King of Hejaz in the Great Mosque of Makkah. In September 1932, he unified the Kingdoms of Najd and Hejaz, under the title of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

In 1930, he added one more province to his Kingdom, when he incorporated the northern half of the Red Sea principality of Asir, over which he had recently established a protectorate.

Repeated Yemini aggression against Saudi Arabia, resulted in a seven-week war between the two countries in 1934 in which his two sons, Saud and Faisal won a brilliant victory.

The development of Saudi Arabia has few parallels in history. The fact that a single person, namely Abd al-Aziz welded four separate provinces, inhabited by scores of independent tribes into one Nation is a marvelous achievement. The rapid transition of a poor country with almost unknown areas of the desert, torn by tribal conflicts to the position of a respected member of the United Nations is a great achievement.

Abd al-Aziz consolidated his State, by dividing it into four divisions of

  1. Najd,
  2. Hejaz,
  3. Hasa, and
  4. Asir,
    each headed by one Ameer. Each Ameer of the division commanded over a considerable military force that served as Escort, Police, and Reserve.

Immediately after becoming King of Hejaz, Abd al-Aziz convened an Islamic Congress at Makkah in 1926, to conciliate adverse sectarian opinion and gave a guarantee for the welfare of Muslim pilgrims, visiting Holy cities. His generous settlement with Imam Yahya of Yemen, despite the latter’s aggression and ultimate defeat in 1934, is a testimony of his magnanimity and Islamic brotherhood.

His wise administration was acclaimed throughout the world, and between 1926-31, Saudi Arabia was accorded diplomatic recognition by all major European countries, including Russia, and also by the U.S.A. This was a diplomatic triumph of King Abd al-Aziz who had won an honorable place for his country in the comity of nations.

His neutrality during World War II, despite pressure from His Majesty’s Council to side with the Germans, speaks volumes on his farsighted policy which was vindicated in the end.

After the unification of the two Kingdoms of Najd and Hejaz under the name of Saudi Arabia in 1932, King Abd al-Aziz embarked upon an unprecedented development work which immensely added to the peace and prosperity of his great country. Earlier, he settled Bedouins as agriculturists in suitable oasis and welded them into a nationally conscious community. The first Ikhwan colony, Artawiya, established in 1912, became the prototype of nearly 100 agricultural settlements.

In 1933, he took a momentous step by granting oil concessions to an American Oil Company, later known as ARAMCO after January 1944. This, and a subsequent concession, of 1939, allocated 440,000 sq. miles of Saudi territory for oil exploration. This added immensely to the revenue of Saudi Slate through increasing royalties from oil.

Before his death, King Abd al-Aziz had launched his first medical, irrigation and flood control projects. He built new ports, good roads, 300 miles long DAMMAN Riyadh railway and initiated the first elaborate School programme, radio communication network and an Air Force Training Centre. This amounted to a veritable social and economic revolution which was inaugurated in Saudi Arabia by the King.

King Abd al-Aziz was a great exponent of the unity of the Arabs and the Islamic world at large. His magnanimous and chivalrous peace with the defeated Yeman inaugurated a good neighbourly policy. He opened an era of constructive statesmanship of rapprochement with neighbouring Arab states of Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq and Trans-Jordon, the last two ruled by the sons of his erstwhile opponent Sharif Hussain of Makkah. The famous Treaty of Arab Brotherhood and Alliance made in 1936, was later adhered to by Yemen. He mediated in Palestine Arab national strike of 1936, jointly with the Rulers of Iraq, Transjordan and Yenian. In 1936, the Saudi King negotiated a treaty with Egypt.

The active role played by King Abd al-Aziz in uniting the Arabs and working for the Arab cause made him an international figure and the Leader of the Arab World.