When Samarkand was destroyed by the Mongol hordes, those who were not killed in the fighting fled to the East and West. Many reached only death in the desert. Famine, pestilence, the cruel horsemen of Mongolia destroyed many more: men, women and even children.
It is estimated that, apart from those who fell in battle, thirty million people were killed by the Khans who swore that they would wipe from the earth all who did not belong to their race.
Khwaja Anis, the dervish teacher at whose settlement in Afghanistan many refugees sought shelter, spoke to them thus:
‘You blame the Mongols. But your own habits and disunity have at least in part been responsible. This scourge has been, at least in part, called forth by the operation of your own folly, accumulating over the centuries.
‘You have lost a battle, and you think that you have lost a war. The Mongols are exhilarated and triumphant, crow with derision at your very name, make the people of all the surrounding lands, and even countries far away, cry out in delight at your discomfiture or blind to your misery.
‘The Mongols have displaced you from your own houses, have taken your flocks and your land, seem to stand everywhere full of valour and success. Men call you women and cowards.
‘In spite of your shortcomings and the belief of your detractors in your feebleness, you will prevail. I announce to you a law of peoples, which has never been negated.
‘You and your children will be witnesses to the humbling of these alien oppressors. Their humbling will be such that they will completely disappear. The world of Islam will rise again, and the Mongols in Turkestan, in Khorasan, in Iran and in all the other countries which they have taken will remain only a memory.
‘Even among those who delight at their victories today, none will weep at their dissolving. That which seems most impossible at the moment is precisely what will come to pass.’
(Recitals of Khwaja Anis).