Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

THE WAHAUBY.

It is now nearly a century since an Arab of the name of Abdul Wahaub, of the tribe of Tomym, left the Nejd to study Theology and Divinity in the various schools, and colleges of the East; and at length, from Damascus where he had assiduously pursued his studies, and where at that time resided some of the most celebrated Mahommedan Doctors, he retired to Dereyah, a town situate in that portion of Arabia which is distinguished by the name of Nejd ; nearly in lat. 24 and long. 45.

Probably the retreat of Abdul Wahaubto Dereyah was not uninfluenced by prudential motives ; as the doctrines he had broached at Damascus, and other places where he resided, had drawn on him the notice, rather than the reverence, of the Theologians there. He had however not long resided at Dereyah, when Mahommed Ibn Saoud, the principal person of that town, became at once, his first convert and his father-in-law. The tribe to which Abdul Wahaub's father-in-law belonged was that of the Anissa, which at that time, and long afterwards, was in its different branches one of the most, if not the most powerful of the tribes inhabiting the desert, in the most extensive signification of the word. The great body of this noble tribe was generally stationed in that tract of land which extends from the banks of the Euphrates at Hillah to the confines of Aleppo, and from Grain at the head of the Persian Gulf to the confines of Arabia Felix; and which is known at Bagdad and Bassora by the appellation of the great Desert, in contradistinction to that which spreads itself from Monsul towards Nisibin and Orfa.

Not long after the adoption of the doctrines of Abdul Wahaub by Mahommed Ibn Saoud, the latter attempted to propagate the tenets of his teacher amongst his neighbours ; and at this time Saoud's force is reported to have been so trifling that in the first skirmish with his opponents he could only muster seven camel-riders in his company. But it will be seen by and by, that the tenets professed by Saoud, contained much that was captivating to the minds of those who panted for civil as well as religious freedom ; who had long considered the voluptuousness, and corruption of their Turkish masters as ill according with the simplicity recommended and enjoined by the Arabian prophet and legislator ; and who were indignant at the daily instances of Turkish tyranny and injustice.

If there was one point of the Wahauby faith

which was more pre-eminently odious to the Ottoman government than another, it was that which divested the grand signor of his sacred character of visible Imaum, or spiritual head of the followers of Islam ; for Saoud soon assumed the character of temporal and spiritual leader, 2) and found no difficulty in its acknowledgment by those Arabs who voluntarily embraced his doctrines, nor by those whom he had converted by force. The assumption of these powers accorded perfectly well with the declarations and actions of their prophet, and with what had been practised by the first caliphs, their countrymen, his successors.

It was not long therefore before Saoud, partly by persuasion and partly by force, became sufficiently powerful to draw on himself the notice, and consequently, to excite the fears of the court of Constantinople ; and when I arrived at Bassora in the year 1784, his proceedings and marauding marches caused great anxiety and alarm to the pacha of Bagdad, to his governor at Bassora, as well as to the best informed Turks. For these last were aware that his doctrines, when examined by the simple text of the Koran, were perfectly orthodox, and consonant to the purest and best interpretations of that volume.

The Bagdad government early made a fatal mistake in permitting Saoud to subjugate, and incorporate with his proselytes, the tribe of Benicaled; an ancient, and at that time a powerful tribe, occupying the north-western shores of the Persian Gulph, as well as a considerable space of country, both at the head of that gulph and to the northwestward of Bassora; so that they then possessed the part of the desert on the western side of the Euphrates, which was considered by the Montifeeks as belonging to them. This strange oversight of Suleiman Pasha, who had but recently obtained from the Porte the Paçhalik of Bagdad, was never imputed to his ignorance of the political interests of his government, but was imagined to arise, first, from the then poverty of his treasury,which rendered him unwilling to incur the expense of affording assistance to theBenicaled Shaik; secondly,from the jealousy which subsisted between the tribes of Montifeek and Benicaled, which caused the shaik of the first mentioned tribe to purchase the pacha's inactivity by a large bribe; and more than all perhaps from the pacha injudiciously supposing that himself and the Montifeek Sbaik at a future favourable period, would always have it in their power easily to set things to rights.

To the year 1794, however, the period at which I left Bassora, Saoud had greatly increased the former uneasiness and alarm of the Bagdad government by unexpected attacks made on different points of its territories; attacks which the Turks could neither foresee nor guard against ; for the ease with which the Wahaubees assembled a force, and the rapidity with which that force marched,

« AnteriorContinuar »