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It is the most fruitful of all the countries of Allah; in it are the best trees and fruits, in every home are gardens, cisterns and flowing water. Mongol period[ edit ] The Mongols conquered Samarkand in Although Genghis Khan "did not disturb the inhabitants [of the city] in any way", according to Juvaini he killed all who took refuge in the citadel and the mosque, pillaged the city completely and conscripted 30, young men along with 30, craftsmen.

Samarkand suffered at least one other Mongol sack by Khan Baraq to get treasure he needed to pay an army. It remained part of the Chagatai Khanate one of four Mongol successor realms until The Travels of Marco Polo , where Polo records his journey along the Silk Road, describes Samarkand as "a very large and splendid city Timur id rule 14thth centuries [ edit ] Ibn Battuta visited in , and called the city "one of the greatest and finest of cities, and most perfect of them in beauty.

During the next 35 years, he rebuilt most of the city and populated it with the great artisans and craftsmen from across the empire. Timur gained a reputation as a patron of the arts and Samarkand grew to become the centre of the region of Transoxiana.

Timur's commitment to the arts is evident in the way he was ruthless with his enemies but merciful towards those with special artistic abilities, sparing the lives of artists, craftsmen and architects so that he could bring them to improve and beautify his capital. He was also directly involved in his construction projects and his visions often exceeded the technical abilities of his workers. Furthermore, the city was in a state of constant construction and Timur would often request buildings to be done and redone quickly if he was unsatisfied with the results.

Samarkand : a novel

During his stay the city was typically in a constant state of construction. The sextant was 11 metres long and once rose to the top of the surrounding three-storey structure, although it was kept underground to protect it from earthquakes.

Calibrated along its length, it was the world's largest degree quadrant at the time. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. November Samarkand in Samarkand from space in September In the second quarter of the 16th century, the Shaybanids moved their capital to Bukhara and Samarkand went into decline. After an assault by the Afshar shahinshah Nader Shah the city was abandoned in the 18th century, about or a few years later.

Shortly thereafter the small Russian garrison of men were themselves besieged. Alexander Abramov became the first Governor of the Military Okrug , which the Russians established along the course of the Zeravshan River , with Samarkand as the administrative centre.

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The Russian section of the city was built after this point, largely to the west of the old city. In , the city became the capital of the newly formed Samarkand Oblast of Russian Turkestan and grew in importance still further when the Trans-Caspian railway reached the city in Geography[ edit ] Samarkand is located in north-eastern Uzbekistan, in the Zarefshan River valley.

His narrative is, moreover, the voice of a modern Muslim who is anxious to rehabilitate one of the great religions of the world by making it relevant to the dilemmas of modern and postmodern societies. Hence, whereas most scholars would study Islamic Spain as historical subject, Ahmed offers it as a model for the future of European societies.

To him, it is "an ideal model" that could be of enormous benefit in the search for solutions to questions of multiculturalism, racism, intolerance, and immigration.

The author optimistically declares: Some of these answers were successfully tackled by a European society which existed about a thousand years ago: Muslim Spain. If we define a society as one which encourages religious and ethnic tolerance, free debate, libraries and colleges, public baths and parks, poetry and architecture, then Muslim Spain is a good example.

Ahmed believes that Islam as a historical and cultural entity constitutes an ideal that both Muslims and Europeans have the duty to emulate.

He, thus, advises his readers "to look back to the past for inspiration in shaping the future" p. This advice has as its premise the fact that the present is in need of adjustment and re- structuring if it is to become a decent framework capable of embracing timeless ideas derived from the wisdom of the past.

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The wisdom in question is preeminently Islamic-interpreted and updated by the author himself. At first glance, such an approach may appear a mere con- tinuation of reformist Islam, as expounded by Sir Sayyid Ahmed Khan in India and Muham- mad CAbduh in Egypt, during the 19th century.

However, Ahmed evinces, on more than one occasion, a sympathetic adoption of attitudes and policies normally associated with Islamic radicalism. His analysis of Algeria's experiment in democracy pp.

He also justifies Khomeini's fatwa, which pronounced the death sentence on Salman Rushdie, by setting it in the wider historical context. Part of this historical context turns out to be a discussion of Dante's Divine Comedy and the way the Prophet Muhammad "is punished as a schismatic" pp. The wish to revive the past is even sometimes confused with hard facts that do not lend themselves to optimistic expectations. Thus, we are told that only 3 percent of Turkey's population wish to conduct their affairs according to the rules of the sharica, whereas the majority still prefer the institutions of their secular state.

The author ignores this vital piece of evidence and goes on to draw the wrong conclusion.

He does so by citing the number of mosques in Turkey 57, , considering it a more reliable index that "should dispel the no- tion of Turkish society as secular" p. Such an emphatic statement provides the reader with a significant clue to the underlying assumptions underpinning Ahmed's narrative. These assumptions are often disturbing and deeply flawed. Although this reviewer has no wish to question Ahmed's integrity and reli- gious credentials, his persistent equation of secularism with atheism is a regrettable distortion that has to be challenged and corrected.

Being secular simply means an intellectual stance that treats religion and politics as two separate domains and insists on assigning to each its particular function in private and public life. In other words, there is no inherent contradiction between secularism and the spiritual realm, except to fundamentalist believers, be they Jewish, Christian, or Muslim.

Atheism is the denial of the spiritual realm in general, and the rejection of the existence of God in par- ticular. Hence, being both secular and a regular worshipper is not, as Ahmed would like us to believe, a contradiction in terms.Without a doubt the richest literature that exists in English relates to British rule in India.

Samarkand Overture - Piano Arrangement

A report on Muslim educational institutions in the Samarkand District in revealed that there were maktabs, with 7, students, or over twice as many in this one district as attended Russian-native schools throughout Turkestan.

See also Brower, Turkestan, The Military Bureaucracy 5. Chapter 2 charts the career of the Prophet, on the one hand, and provides a synopsis of the five pillars of Islam, on the other.