Subuktageen’s Place of Death
Abdul Hai Habibi
While I was working on the publication and footnotes of Tabakat-e Nasiri I managed to research some of the places mentioned in the book. One of them is the death place of Subuktageen which is explained in this article.
Menhaj Seraj in Tabakat-e Nasiri states that the death of Subuktageen took place in the village of Barmal Mudawari, or Madar-wa-Moi, or Maduri, or Madrayawi or Barmal Madarwi of Balkh. The name of this village has been mentioned in the above mentioned forms in different hand written manuscripts. In his English translation of the book Raverty mentions all the various forms of the name. He adds that it has been mentioned in the Termez edition also.
Ibn-e Asir, in Alkamel (Vol. 9, p. 54) states: Subuktageen lived in Balkh and as a result of an illness decided to go to Ghazni to be in a better climate. He died on the way to Ghazni. His body was transferred to Ghazni and it was buried there. Ibn-e Khaldoon (Vol. 4, p. 323) and Bastani, in his encyclopedia (Vol.9, p. 462) exactly copy Ibn-Asir’s narrative but none of them mention anything about his body being moved from one place to another. Gardezi (p. 45) also talks about Subuktageen’s trip from Balkh to Ghazni and writes that his death took place on the way but does not provide a location.
Some of the later historians such as Fereshta and those who have copied him have noted that Subktageen died in Termez. Other historians, such as Gardezi and Ibn Asir, have not mentioned anything about Subuktageen’s death place. Thus it needs to be emphasized: The source used by Fereshta, to ascertain Subuktageen’s place of death as Termez, may be Tabakat-e Nasiri since Mohammad Qasem considers this book as part of his sources. In one of his book Raverty has mentioned Termez it is possible that in Mohammad Qasem’s references Termez was also mentioned.
A contemporary historian, Mohammad Nazem, in his book on the life of Sultan Mahmud, without any foundation, claims that the Mader-wa-Moi, mentioned in Raverty’s translation, as the death place of Subuktageen. I am, however, of the belief that these statements are not correct since Termez was not located on the way between Balkh and Ghazni but it was a town located on the banks of the Oxus river. Hudud-al-Alam (p. 66) states: “It is a green city located on the banks of the Oxus river…” Old relics of Termez exist until this day and the city of Balkh in the province of Mazar lies on the other side of the river. A small town by the same name exist until this day and I saw it in the winter of 1324 SH (1945 AD). If we are to consider this town as Subuktageen’s place of death then it negates the statements of former historians who have said he died between Balkh and Ghazni. It is therefore deemed necessary to look for another place between Balkh and Ghazni as the location of Subuktageen’s death. After researching the matter I have come to two conclusions.
1. About 20 to 30 miles south of the present day city of Mazar-e Sharif, in a mountainous area about 5000 ft. above sea level, there is an area which is known as Marmil or Marmal. This place is located on a mountainous road which leads to Bamian and Kabul. A street in the city of Mazar has also been named Marmil which leads in the direction of the namesake town. This road, however, has been washed away and is not in use now. Yaqut names this place and says: “Marmil is a town in the mountains near Balkh.” Since Subuktageen’s place of death, as mentioned in the hand written copies of Tabakat-e Nasiri, is close to Marmil and Marmal therefore it can be said that the place of death of this king was this location which has the same name until the present time. This mountainous road forms the closet link between Balkh and Bamian and it is possible that this road was used by people traveling between the two locations at the time.
2. There is another road which links Bamian with Mazar and Balkh which traverses through some treacherous mountainous terrain. This road forks from the main highway which leads to the north near Doaab. This trek which can only be traversed by horseback leads to Aibak. Between Bamian and Aibak one comes across the following towns: Bamian, Sayghan, Kohmard, Madr, Royee, Khuram and Saarbagh and Aibak.
If we are to write the names Madr and Royee together it becomes Madr Royee which is close to the name mentioned in the hand-written manuscripts of Tabakat-e Nasiri. Hence it can be said: Subuktageen went from Balkh to Aibak and wanted to get to Bamian via the mentioned towns and it is here that he left this world.