Episode 21: The Rise of the Seljuk Turks
Barbarian Empires of the Steppes (2014)
Dr Kenneth Harl
Harl asserts the real beneficiaries of the Battle of Talas (see How the 751 Muslim War with China Left Steppes Under Turkish Control) were the Turks. In 840 AD, a civil uprising in the Uighur Khanate led Uighurs to migrate en masse to China and the caravan cities of the Tarim Basin. The Abbassid Caliphate welcomed the emergence of new Turkish tribes on the steppes and the greater availability of Turkish slaves.
For two centuries prior to their conversion to Islam, Turks entered the Islamic world as imperial bodyguards, as well as slave and mercenary soldiers.
The first mass conversion of Turks (entire tribes) occurred in the 10th century. Kashgar would be the first caravan city to adopt Islamic culture, using a Persian version of Arabic script in the first Turkish literature.
After a long period of inter-tribal warfare, the Seljuk Turks became the predominant tribe on the steppes. In 1071 AD (as agents of the Abassid Caliphate), they invaded and captured both Persia and Baghdad. From then on, the Abassid Caliphate would be ruled by Seljuk sultans.*
*Sultan is defined as a king or sovereign of a Muslim state
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