1. al-Khitat

From MedNub
Jump to: navigation, search

[pp. 586-673]


1.) From "Al-Khiṭaṭ"

[General Geographical Information]

The First Climate stretches across ... the "Nile of Egypt" as far as the country of the Ḥabasha and. the town of Dumqala in the country of the Nūba. (Wiet 1,1,ch.11, §37, p. 42; Bouriant, p. 31) <ref> Maqrīzī’s statements on the stronomical position of Dongola, distances between places in Nubia, the desert east and west of the Nile etc. have been omitted. Of the geographical passages, only those containing historical or legendary data have been included in this collection.</ref>

West [of Egypt] there is the Western Desert; to the south, the desert of the Nūba and the Ḥabasha. (W.1,1, ch.III, §1, p. 51; B., p. 36).

[p. 587] The frontier of Egypt begins at the Sea of the Rūm at Alexandria, or, according to others, at Barqa; traverses the land, passing behind the Oases (al-wāhāt) and continues as far as Nubia; then it turns [eastwards] along the borders of Nubia and those of Aswān, touches on the territory of the Beja which lies south of Aswān till it reaches the Sea of Qulzum. (W.I,1,ch.IV, §3, p. 54; B., p. 39).

Those who know well the history [of Egypt] say that the width of Egypt, from Aswān, in the remotest districts of Upper Egypt (aṣ-Ṣa'īd al-a‘lā) near the Nubian frontier, to Rosetta is about 30 days' journey. (W. ibid.; pp. 39 - 40).

After reaching the southernmost Oases, [if] you face towards the east and walk in the direction of the Nile; you will reach the river after eight days. Then if you go [upstream] following the Nile, you will reach the end of the territory of Islam, beyond this lies the country of the Nūba. Cross the Nile and go eastward from Aswān, leaving that town behind, in the direction of 'Aydhāb on the coast of the Sea of Ḥejāz: from Aswān to 'Aydhāb the journey takes five days. (W.1,1,ch.IV, § 8, p. 57; B., p. 41).

Traders go from Upper Egypt to the Maghrib, Nubia, the Beja country, Ḥabasha, Ḥejāz and Yemen. (W.I,1, ch. IX, §34, p. 114; B., p. 76).

[The Marvels of Ancient Egypt<ref>Most legends and fanciful tales about ancient Egypt were borrowed by Maqrīzī from Akhbār Miṣr wa-‘Aja’ibi-ha (The Stories and Marvels of Egypt) by Ibrāhīm Waṣif Shah. Bible apocrypha and commentaries (e.g. by Flavius Josephus) were widley known to ancient Arab writers.</ref>: A Bridge Across the Nile in Nubia]

[Pharaoh ʿAdīm, son of Naqtāīm] built a bridge<ref>This “bridge” is most probably the unfinished oblisk, still lying in the Aswān granite quarry. The ancients may have mistaken it for the rest of a giant bridge built across the Nile.</ref> across the Nile at a point where Nubia begins. On this [p. 588] bridge he erected roar statues, each facing one of the four directions; each statue held in its hands two arrows to hit any one who dared to approach from that direction. The statues remained in place until the Pharaoh of Moses - blessings upon him destroyed them. This king (ʿAdīm) erected, at the entrance to Nubia, the temple which has remained until our time.<ref>I.e. the time of the first writer who recited this story.</ref> (W.I, 1, ch. IX, 94, pp. 141 - 142; B., p. 90).

[The Origin of the Hawk Worship in Nubia]

The mother of [pharaoh] Marqūnis (Marqukis)<ref>Many different readings of this name.</ref> was the daughter of the king of the Nūba. Her father was a worshipper of the star as-Suhā<ref>A dim star in the Ursa Major constellation.</ref>, which he called God. She asked her son to build a temple especially for her in which she would find seclusion. He built it, decorated it with gold and silver plates and erected a statue (ṣanam) in it, and had it [the statue] covered with silk curtains.

The queen used to enter it with her maidens and her retinue and prostrate herself before it three times every day; she instituted a monthly feast during which she offered [to the idol] victims and frankincense day and night. She also appointed a priest from the Nūba to perform the celebration, to offer victims and to burn frankincense. She did not cease from [trying to persuade] her [p. 589] son, until he, too, prostrated himself before the statue and called others to worship it. When the priest saw that the king had become a true worshipper of the star, he wanted to give the star Suhā a symbol (mithāl) in the form of an animal to which worship be paid. He decided to play a trick: (he waited) until the time when the hawks became very numerous in Miṣr thus causing great inconvenience to the population. Whereupon the king invited this priest and asked him the cause of such an increase in the number of hawks. He answered: "Indeed, your God sent them so that you erect [a statue] similar to them to be adored". Marqūnis said: "If that will satisfy him, I shall make it". He said: "Surely, the God will be satisfied". So [the king] ordered that the likeness of a hawk be made two cubits high and one cubit wide, of solid gold; he had its eyes made from two rubies, he put two necklaces of pearls set on rows of green stones around his neck and hung a pearl on its beak; its thighs were ornamented with red pearls. He then placed it on a pedestal of chiselled silver standing on a base of blue glass and had it erected under a vault on the right side of the sanctuary (haikal). He ordered that all kinds of spices (al-afāwiyah) and aromatic resins (as-sumūgh) be burnt. He offered it a black calf and the first brood of the chickens and the first fruits and flowers. (W.1,1, ch. X, §11, pp. 152- 153; B., p. 97).

[The Nubians and Some Neighbouring Peoples]

Epidemics in Egypt are always caused by an abnormal corruption which is easily spread by the air. This corruption may begin in Egypt itself or in the neighbouring countries, such as the [country of the] Sūdān, Syria or Barqa.<ref>Cf. Michael the Syrian (q.v.).</ref> (W.1,1,ch. XIII, p. 205; B., p. 132).

[p. 590] In the Commentary of the Fourth Book of Ptolemy<ref>The first Arab commentator of Ptolemy was Al-Khuwārizmī (q.v.). This passage, however, is taken from Al-Ḥamdānī (q.v.).</ref> it is said; Concerning the countries, of the [inhabited] quarter which is near the centre of all the Earth, such as Barqa, Egypt, the Oases, the land of the Nūba, and the Beja arid the land of the coast east of the Nūba and the Ḥabasha, all these countries lie in the angle which extends its influence on all the inhabited quarters [of the Earth] situated between the north [wind] (dabūr) and the south [wind] (janūb) [B: vent du nord]. [In other words] these regions torn altogether the western half of the inhabited quarter (of the Earth) which is under the direct influence (tadbīr) of the Five Planets together. The inhabitants of these lands worship God, venerate the Genii (al-junn), practice wailing for the dead and bury their dead in graves with different ceremonies: they have different customs, rites and beliefs because mysteries (asrār) appeal strongly to them, so that every [racial] group (tā’ifa) among them performs one or another secret ceremony (al-umūr al-khaffīyya) which they all profess and perform. From these mysteries (asrār) originated the mathematical sciences (al-‘ulūm ad-daqīqa). When they are subject to foreign rule, these peoples are wretched and are generally lazy and cunning. When they have foreigners subjected to their rule, they show great generosity and kindness. Men take a great number of wives, and women alike have a number of husbands; as they [men] feel strongly inclined to intercourse, they have many children and the women are frequently pregnant. Many men are, however, weak and effeminate. (W.1,1, ch. XIII passim, pp. 205 - 206; B., pp. 134 - 135).

[p. 591] [The Nile]

The river [Nile] originally had no regular course, but flowed into swamps, and branched off on into the land, until King Naqrāwūs sent an expedition to Nubia comprising men who straightened the course. They dug several canals to flow from the main course so as to supply water to the towns which they built; one of these was the canal to the town of Amsūs.

... The same author [i.e. Ibn Waṣīf Shāh] adds: Al-Walīd, the son of Dawma' [B.: Darmaʾ), the Amalecite ... sent one of his servants by name ʿAwn to Egypt; then he himself went [to Egypt].

... He [Walīd] had the idea of exploring the sources of the Nile, and finding out what peoples were living on its banks. He spent three years making preparations for the expedition, then he set out with a numerous army. He never passed through a country without exterminating the inhabitants. He passed through the countries of the Blacks (umam as-sūdān), went beyond them, then he entered the country of the gold (arḍ adh-dhahab) and saw there small rods (qudbān) sticking out of the ground. (W.I,1, ch. XV, §2-3, pp. 225 - 227; B., pp. 146 - 148).

... [Idrīsī says]: This lake [i.e. the one from which the Nile river finally flows] is called Kuwarā (Kurī, Kūra), after the name of a tribe of Sūdān who dwell on its banks. These Sūdān are a savage people and eat the men whom they can capture. The river Ghāna (nahr Ghānah) and the great river (baḥr) of the Ḥabasha flows from this lake. On flowing out of the lake, the Nile crosses the country of the Kuwarā (Kurī, Kūra) and the Yana (Yanna, Nana) a tribe of Blacks (Sūdān) between Kanem (B.: Katem) and the Nūba. On reaching Dongola (Dumqala), the town of the Nūba, it enters into the Second Climate flowing in a [north-]easterly direction. (W.I,1,ch. XV, § 16, pp. 229 - 230; B., p. 149).

[p. 592]... Navigation of the boats coming downstream from the Nūba ends where the Nile reaches the cataracts (al-janādil), as well as the navigation by the boats coming upstream from the Ṣa'īd. Outcrops of rocks allow to beats no through-passage, except at the time of the flood. (W., ibid., pp. 231 - 232; B., p. 150).

What he [Idrīsī] says about the branch of the Nile, which flows across al-Ḥabasha is not true. The flood-season of the Nile occurs in Egypt at the same time as in the country of the Nūba and [in the other countries lying] beyond it to the south. There is no difference between the two regions except on two particulars: the first is that in the land of Egypt it flows in a rocky bed (ukhdūd), while there [in Nubia] it spreads far and wide over the lands. The second point is that in Egypt the flood is measured by the Nilometer (miqyās), but in Nubia it is quite impossible to measure it because the waters are dispersed. Those who have a good knowledge of Egypt, know well that the increase of water in the Nile is caused by the rains in the southern region. (W., ch. XV, §24, pp. 244 - 245; B., p. 160).

It is told that the Nile is formed by ten streams which flow from the above mentioned Jabal al-Qamar – each five streams gathering into one tributary. Then the ten streams flow into two lakes - five streams into one lake; then a river (baḥr) flows from the eastern lake smoothly (latīf), eastwards near Mount Qāqūlī (or: Qāqūl, Qāqarlī) and passes by the towns of that region, until it enters the Indian Sea. From the two lakes, six rivers flow, i.e. three rivers from each lake; the six rivers unite in a vast lake which is called "The Swamp" (al-baṭīḥa); on it there is a castle (qaṣr)<ref>Probably, a natural, but unidentified cliff protruding into the Nile. Cf. Al-‘Umarī (q.v.) from whom this passage was borrowed.</ref> which resembles a mountain [p. 593] round which the waters divide into two streams. One of them flows out from the western side of the Swamp, and this is the "Nile of the Sūdān" which becomes a river (baḥr) and is called the "Great River of the Damādim" (baḥr ad-Damādim). It turns towards the west between Samghara and Ghāna, passing south of Samghara and north of Ghāna, it touches the town of Barīsa, then disappears under a mountain south of that town beyond the equator as far as Rafila (?), after which it forms a lake in that region, then the remainder of the water continues flowing westwards till the lands of Mallī and Takrūr and ends in the [western] ocean, south of the town of Qaltabū (Qalab.tū ?, Qalb.twā'.F.l.sū.?). The other half begins on the northern side and flows northwards as far as to the east of the town of Jīmī (Hīmī); there it divides into two branches, one branch flows eastwards to the town of Saḥart, then turns south, then again southeast, to the town of Saḥarta (Sahrīyya ?), then to the town of Marka, and ends at the equator at Long. 65°, where it forms a lake (buḥairah); as for the main branch [of the Nile], from the place where it parts from the [Saḥart] branch, east of the town of Shīmī, it continues its course in the northern direction, passes by the borders of the country of the Ḥabasha, then flows north on the countries of the Sūdān to the town of Dumqala, until it falls over the cataracts to Aswān ... etc. (W.I,1,ch. XVI, §25, pp. 245 - 246; B., p. 161).

Mas’ūdī<ref>Maqrīzī here reviews the opinions of the ancient philsophers on the cause of the Nile flood.</ref> said: The Indians (al-hind) say that the flood of the Nile and its decrease depend on the torrential rains. We know that this is true because [it occurs regularly] in connection with the stars (al-anwāʾ) causing [p. 594] the rainy season and thunderstorms. The Rūm said that the Nile neither increases nor decreases, and that the flood and its ebb are due to the many [hidden] springs which feed it. The Copts say that the increase and the decrease are caused by some springs on the coast, which can be observed by those who travel and explore its upper course. Others say that the Nile neither increases nor decreases, but that its flood is due to the wind blowing from the north, which stops its water and forces it to overflow into the countryside. Others say that the Nile flood is caused by a wind blowing called Mullathan (muln: B.: Moltan), which brings the rain-carrying clouds from below the equator; therefore it rains in the countries of the Sūdān, the Ḥabasha and the Nūba, and the mass of these waters reaches Miṣr at [the time of] the increase of the Nile and Irrigates it. (W.I, 1, ch. XVII, §13, pp. 255 - 256; B., p. 167).

All these eight rivers end into one lake out of which one river flows and this is the Nile of Egypt. It traverses the country of the Nūba and merges with another river, the source of which is not in the region across the equator. That lake is vast and round, its diameter equalling 3° [degrees]. The distance of its centre from the beginning of the inhabited lands in the west is 71°; the stream flowing from this spring meets the Nile at a point distant 43° 40’ from the nearest inhabited land in the west. (W.I, 1, ch. XIX, pp. 267 - 268; B., p. 175).<ref>Maqrīzī reported different opinions of ancient scientists about the origin of the Nile and the cause of its annual flood. (I,1,ch. XV-XVI, pp. 230-256, passim). Then he quoted Avicenna’s opinion about the superior qualities of the Nile water (ch. XIX, p. 268).</ref>

[p. 595] [An Expedition Against the Blacks (Sūdān)]

Towards the beginning of the 30th year of the reign [of the Egyptian King Nadares b. Sabin b. Qobīim], the Zanj and the Nūba branches of the Sūdān carried out a raid on his kingdom, troubled and pillaged it [Nadares] gahtering his armies from the districts (a'māl) of Egypt, prepared boats and sent a general called Filūtus (Bilatus?, B.: Philotheos) with 300,000 men and another general with another similar army. He sent 300 boats up the Nile. On each boat there was a magician (kāhin), each one capable of doing a special miracle. Then he himself set out with a numerous army, met the multitude of the Sūdān who numbered about one million, defeated them, killed a great number and took many prisoners: his armies pursued them until they arrived at a place where elephants are found, in the country of the Zanj. He captured a great number of these animals, as well as leopards (numūr) and other wild animals and sent them to Egypt, where he had them tamed. On the borders of his country he built a light-house (manār) on which he recorded his journey, his victory and the time he spent on the expedition. Later, he then died in Egypt and was buried in a "naos" (nawūs), in which he had set up many effigies symbolizing the stars (aṣnām al-kawākib), gold, precious stones (jawhar), jewels and statues. On the "naos" (shrine) was engraved his name and the date of his death. Charms (ṭilasmāt) were placed on it [naos] so that they might keep [evil-doers] away. (W.I,l,ch. XXIII, §5, pp. 298 - 299; B., p. 199).

[p. 596] [A Tax on Nubian Slaves Abolished by Sultan Nāṣir Ibn Qalāwūn]

One of the taxes and privileges abolished by the Sultan [Nāṣir Ibn Qalāwūn] was the tax of the chieftains (shadd az-zu’amāʾ),<ref>Bouriant: “droit de garantie”. Some Arab scholars interpret “shadd az-zu-‘amāʾ” as a decree made in order to curb the arrogance of the chieftains. “Shadd” was, however, a custom duty levied by the Sultan at ‘Aydhāb. Some chieftains in Upper Egypt probably enjoyed the privilege of levying such tolls.</ref> which was a very peculiar institution (jiha mufrada). He also abolished the tax (huqūq) levied on the Blacks (Sūdān), and the inspection of the boats and whatever was prescribed as payment on every slave, girl or man, at the time they were admitted into the hostels (khānāt) for the purpose of shameful actions (li-'amāl al-fāḥishah); on that occasion it was customary to levy a fixed tax on every male and female. (W.I,2, ch. XXXII, §16, p. 27; B., p. 255).

[Nubians in Egypt under the Fatimite Dynasty]

Ibn Muyassar [q.v.] says in his "History" that the slaves in the service of the lady mother of the Imam (ʿabīd as-sayyida umm al-imām) al-Mustanṣir billah Abū Tammīm Ma'add b. aẓ-Ẓāhir li-'azz dīnillah Abūl-Ḥasan ‘Alī b. al-Ḥākim biamrillah Abū 'Alī Manṣūr b. al-'Azīz billah, numbered five thousand, without counting (those in) the army.

When the government (ad-dawla) passed from the Fatimites into the hands of al-Malik an-Nāṣir Saladin Yūsuf b. Ayyūb the latter suppressed the corps of the Blacks slaves (al-'abīd as-sūd) in the Egyptian army as well as the Egyptian emirs (al-umarā' al-miṣriyyīn), the Bedouins (al-'urbān), the Armenians (al-Arman) and others, so that the army consisted (only) of Kurds and Turks. (W. 1.2, ch. XXXIV, §§21-22, p. 45; B., p. 270).

[p. 597] [Enterprises of the Pharaoh Naqrāwūs]

Master Ibrāhīm b. Waṣīf Shāh tells us in his book "Stories and Marvels of Egypt" that the old [town of] Miṣr (Miṣr al-qadīma) was called Amsūs and that the first king of the land of Egypt was Naqrāwūs, the powerful, (al-jabbār), son of Miṣrāīm, and [that] the meaning of Naqrāwūs is "king of his own people".

It is said that it was this king who straightened the bed of the Nile. Formerly, [this river] spread between two mountain ranges. He sent an expedition [of men] to the country of the Nūba to straighten the Nile bed (handasū-ha). They dug a large canal (nahr) flowing from it and built towns along it and planted many trees. He also wished to know the sources of the Nile: he therefore set out [on an expedition] and travelled until he arrived beyond the equator and found himself at the shore of the Dark Lake of Pitch (al-baḥr al-aswad az-ziftī) where he saw the Nile welling up to the surface of this lake like a network [of streams]. From there the streams entered Jabal al-Qamar, flowed out of it and ended in [some] swampy lakes (batā’ih). It is also said that it was he who erected the statues which are found in that region. When he returned to Amsūs, he divided his kingdom among the children. (W., p. II, t.3, ch.II, §§1,2,5, pp. 6-8; B., p. 375).

After him [Naqrāwūs], his son Khaslīm<ref>Gen. 10, 14: “Khaslukhīm”.</ref> became the king ... it was he who built the bridge (al-qanṭara) over the Nile in the country of the Nūba. When he died he was placed in a temple (nāwūs) together with his treasures and a talisman. (W., ibid., §15, pp. 14 - 15; B., pp. 379 - 380).

[p. 598] They [the Egyptians] made as their king 'Adīm, son or Qafṭurīm, (Qofṭīm) ... In Nubia he built a bridge (qanṭara) over the Nile and he reigned 14 years ... During his days Qos was built and he raided the Ḥabasha and took prisoners. (W., ibid., §40,43 passim, p. 39; B., p. 395).

After her [i.e. Nūriāt, a sorceress queen], Marqūnis became king; he was good and wise. His mother was the daughter of the king of the Nūba. This princess did many wonderful things (ʿajā’ib). During his reign all sort of wondrous objects (kullu gharība) were made. (W., ibid., §§ 72-73, p. 47; B., p. 400).

He was followed as king by his son Badāris (B.: Todrās) who extended his power over all the provinces.

He carried out a raid in the land of the Zanj and the Ḥabasha (branches) of the Blacks (Sūdān). He sent 300 boats (safīna) down the Nile, met the Sūdān who were about one million in number and defeated them; he killed the majority of them and took a great number of them prisoners. He also took back to Egypt elephants and leopards (numūr). On the frontiers of his country he built light-houses (manārāt), on which he engraved his name, the account of his journey and of his victory.

In his time God sent the prophet Ṣāliḥ to the Thammūd. It is also said that it was he who settled the Nubians (an-Nūba) where they are now. During the war he waged in the land of the Ḥabasha and at the time of the slaughter he made among the Black peoples (umam as-sūdān), he found among them a nation (umma), who could read the books of Adam, Seth (Shith) and Idrīs; he bestowed favours on them and assigned a homeland to them, in a land lying at one month's distance from Egypt (arḍ Miṣr). These people were called "Nūba". He died at Memphis (al-manf). (W.,ibid., §§80-81, pp. 48 - 49; B. pp. 401 - 402).

[p. 599] His son Hazaba (other reading: Harbatā, Harnabā) reigned after him. Hazaba’s father had taught him the worship of the only one God and had kept him away from the worship of idols; but after the death of his father, Hazaba fell back to the worship of idols in use among his people.

... He carried out a raid against the Hind and the Sūdān, built one hundred boats of the same type as the boats (sufun) of the Hind; he set out and took with him a woman ... he built temples (hayākil) in which he erected effigies symbolizing the Planets, (aṣnām li-l-kawākib), he raided the coast of Syria, subjected its inhabitants and returned to Egypt; he then raided the Nūba and the Sūdān and imposed on them a tribute which they had to bring to him. He raised the prestige of the priests (al-kahnah) and ascribed his victory to the help of the Planets. (W. ibid., §83, pp. 49 - 50; B., pp. 402 - 403).

It is said that the pharaoh of Joseph was called ar-Rayyān (Riyān) b. al-Walīd b. Layth b. Fārān (Qārān) b. Amrū b. 'Amalīq b. Balqa' b. 'Āber b. Aslīḥā b. Lūdh b. Sām b. Nūḥ. It is also said that the pharaoh of Joseph is the grandfather (jidd) of the pharaoh of Moses, i.e. the father of his father (abū abī-hi).

... He set out on a campaign against the Maghrib with an army of 900,000 men, crossed the territory of the Barbar, the majority of whom he subjected, proceeded to the Green Sea, then marched southwards; went up to the Nūba and returned to Menf. (W., ibid., §105, p. 56; B., pp. 406 - 407).

She [Dalūka, the Old Lady], in order to protect Egypt against the enemies, built a wall which extended from the frontiers of Rafaḥ (B.: zinj) to Ifrīqiya, the Oases and Nubia. All along this wall there were gates with guards watching day and night, keeping fires alight con-[p. 600]-tinually. She had this wall (jidār) built around Egypt within six months; this is the wall known tinder the name of the Wall of the Old Lady (ḥā'iṭ al-'Ajūz). (W., ibid., §122, p. 61; B., p. 410).

When Egypt was ruled by Juriā (B.: Gouriāq), the daughter of Ṭūṭis, the first pharaoh of Egypt, who was also the pharaoh of Ibrāhīm ... she built a fortress (hiṣn) on the frontiers of Egypt, facing the Nūba and a bridge (qanṭara), under which the water of the Nile flows. When she became ill, she left her cousin, Dalīfa (B.: Zelfa), daughter of Māmūn to reign; then she died. (W. II, vol. 3, ch. 3, §6, p. 78; B., p. 420).

[Nubians in Egypt at the Time of the Arab Conquest]

It is said that 'Amrū ibn al-'Āṣ granted the population of Alexandria their lives and that, rather than massacre or plunder, he put them under the protection of Islam in the same way as he had done to the Nūba. (W.II, 3, ch. XIII, §12, p. 156; B., p. 474).

Know that this sand [i.e. the Western Desert] is spread over the surface of the Earth. Some people call it the "sand of the dunes (ar-raml al-habīr; B.: "le sable mamelonné")." The length of this desert, which begins behind the two mountains known as Tāy', reaches the sea, on the east, and, stretching behind these mountains, extends as far as Egypt and Nubia and the Ocean and takes five months' journey to walk across. (W.II, 3, ch. XXI, §1, p. 220; B., p. 523).

[p. 601] Chapter XXX<ref>Whole chapters from Maqrīzī’s Khiṭaṭ (XXX-XXXIV, XXVI-XXXVII), which preserved Aswānī’s invaluable statements, are quoted in the following pages. Unfortunately, Maqrīzī copied from Aswānī only the geographical description, and very little of the statements on the History of Nubia. It is often impossible to distinguish which passages are quotations from Aswānī and which are Maqrīzī’s own summaries. Aḥmad b. Muḥammad al-Manūfī (q.v.), who wrote in the 16th century a treatise on the Nile, read Aswānī’s book and quoted lengthy passages from it. A comparison between the borrowings by Maqrīzī and those made by Manūfī proves that Maqrīzī’s text is substantially faithful to al-Aswānī’s original book. Only place names are spelt in different ways. For the various readings of place names, see G. Troupeau, La description de la Nubie d’al-Aswani, Arabica 1, 1954, pp. 276288. (I am indebted to Prof. Leclant for this communication and a copy of Troupeau’s article). (The headings of chapters are from Maqrīzī, the sub-headings are the editor’s additions).</ref>: The Cataracts and the History of the Nūba in Retrospect

‘Abdalla b. Aḥmad b. Salīm (Sulaym) al-Aswānī said in his book entitled "History of the Nūba, Maqurra, ‘Alwa, the Beja and the Nile" (Akhbār an-nūba wa-l-maqurra wa-'alwa wa-l-buja wa-n-nīl): -

The first village (balad) of the Nūba is the village (qarya) of al-Qaṣr, five miles from Aswān. The last stronghold (hiṣn) of the Moslems is an island called Bilāq, one mile away from the [first] village of the Nūba, situated on the Nubian river bank. From Aswān to this place there are huge cataracts (janādil) in the river (al-baḥr): boats cannot pass through, except with the skillful help of the local fishermen, who are well acquainted with them, because these rocks are steep and the Nile divides here into many streams. The roaring of the cataracts is heard from a great distance. In this village there is an armed garrison (musallaḥa) and a gate leading to the country of the Nūba. Between this village and the first cataract (janādil) of the Nubian country there are ten halting places (marāḥil). The Moslems [who live] in this district (nāḥiya) have a free hand there: they own properties in the neighbourhood and carry out trade in the upper part. There is also a number of Moslem inhabitants but none of them speaks Arabic. This district is narrow and uneven, very mountainous and situated exclusively on the Nile, its villages being ranged in lines along its banks, with palm and muql (bdellium, Theban palm-tree).

[p. 602] The upper part of this district is broader than its lower part and has vine plantations (kurūm); the Nile does not water its fields because of the upward slope of the land [from the river]. The cultivated area is one or two or three acres (faddān) and is watered by water-wheels (dawālīb) drawn by oxen. They [the inhabitants] plant little, wheat (qamḥ), but more barley and rye (sult).

Because the cultivated area is narrow, they plant continuously never allowing the land to go fallow. In summer, after fertilising it with manure and [new] earth, they sow it with dukhn (pennisetum millet), dhurra (sorghum millet), ... (al-jāwrus), sesame and beans (lūbiyah).

In this district is located the town of Bujarāsh<ref>“Bujarāsh” is the reading adopted by Wiet (Op. cit., p. 253, n. 4). For other readings and discussion, cf. Wiet, 1, c.</ref>, the capital of al-Marīsī, as well as two fortresses (qal’a), one of which is the fortress of Ibrīm. There is also the port (minā) known as Adwāʾ [cf. Wiet, ibid., note 6], reputed to be the homeland of Luqmān the Wise and Dhū-l-Nūn. There are also the marvellous ruins of a temple (birbā). This district is ruled by a governor (wālī) called "the Lord of the Mountain" (Ṣāḥib al-Jabāl), representing the Great Lord of the Nūba (ʿazīm an-Nūba). He is among the highest ranking of their wālīs. This district borders on the land of Islam and anyone who comes from the land of the Moslems to Nubia has to deal [p. 603] with him, whether for the purpose of trace or to bring a gift to him or to his Lord (mawlā). He receives everyone and presents all [visitors] with slaves, but allows no one, Moslem or otherwise, to travel [up country] to visit his Lord.

At the first cataract in the country of the Nūba there is a village called Baqwā (Ta'wā, Taqwā; B. : Taqoui),<ref>J. L. Burckhardt, Travels in Nubia, London 1822, read Takoa and identified it with Wadi Halfa.</ref> which is a terminal port for the boats of the Nūba sailing upstream from al-Qaṣr on the frontier of their country. The boats cannot go further. No one, Moslem or otherwise, is allowed to go upstream beyond this point, except by permission from the Lord of the Mountain. Between the port and the Upper Maqs (al-maqs al-a'lā) there are six stopping places [all the length] full of cataracts. This is the worst part I ever saw in this district, for it is narrow, extremely difficult to navigate and full of cataracts and intervening rocks, where the Nile sometimes becomes as narrow as fifty cubits (dhirāʿ) only. The land on either side is cut by narrow passages (majāwib), steep heights and mountainous passes so narrow that neither a rider nor any ill-equipped traveller on foot can cross them. On both the western and the eastern [banks] there are sands. These mountains provide the inhabitants with a [natural] fortress (hiṣn), where the inhabitants of the district bordering the land of Islam seek shelter. In some islands there are palm-trees and some plantations of negligible value. Their staple food is fish. They also use fish oil (shahm) to anoint themselves. These islands are part of the Marīs and are under the authority of the Lord of the Mountain. The commander of the garrison (musallaḥa), which is in the Upper [p. 604] Maqs, is appointed by their Lord (Kabīr). He keeps a very tight control over them, so tight that even their greatest man (ʿazīma-hom), when he passes through, is stopped by any man from the garrison, who feigns to search him, so that he might do the same to the [King's] sons, his viziers and anybody else.

Here neither the dinar, nor the dirham are of any use because they do not use money in their transactions, except with the Muslims beyond the cataract they do not buy or sell with money, but carry out their transactions by the exchange of slaves (raqīq), cattle, camels, iron tools and grains.

Nobody is allowed to pass beyond this point except by permission of the king (malik): whoever transgresses this [law], is liable to the death penalty, whosoever he may be. By this precautionary measure, whatever happens [in their kingdom] is kept secret, so that their army can attack a country or carry a raid in the [environing] desert without anybody knowing.

The emery (sinbādh, whetstone) which is used in polishing gems, comes from this spot in the Nile. They dive for it and recognize it by its coldness when touched, compared with other stones. If they have any doubt as to its nature, they breathe on it and it forms a light film of moisture.

Beyond this garrison, there is a village called Sāy, which is on a cataract. [Sāy] is one of their seats [of government], where a bishop resides. There is a ruined temple (birbā).

Next comes the district (nāḥiya) of Saqlūdhā,<ref>Burckhardt, Travels, 523, identifies this region with Dār Mahās.</ref> which means the "Seven Governors" (wūlāh) ; its land [p. 605] is very similar to the region bordering the land of the Muslims, somewhere wide, somewhere narrow, with its palm-trees, vines, muql, and other plantations. There are few cotton plantations from which they make rough cotton material, and there are also some olive trees. The Wālī of this district is directly appointed by their king (kabīr) and under him are other governors who exercise authority.

A fortress (qal’a) called Astanūn<ref>Burckhardt, (ibid.): Tinareh.</ref> (other readings: Astūn, Asfūn) is located there and it marks the beginning of the third cataract, which is the most difficult cataract to cross, because there is a mountain protruding into the Nile from the east to the west, and the water gushes through three passages, and might even be limited to only two [passages] at low tide.<ref>Aswānī made the journey Aswān-Dongola in summer. Qurbān Bayrām – which Aswānī celebrated soon after his arrival at Dongola – fell in late August.</ref> It has a terrible roar but [presents] a beautiful view as the waters fall on it [the bedrock] from the heights of the mountain. South of it, the [river] bed is full of rocks lying in the middle of the Nile, stretching over the distance of three days' journey [abrud] as far as the village of Bastū (Nastū, Sanū, Banstū, Yastū, Yasīr), which is the last village [in the territory] of the Marīs and the beginning of the country of Muqurra. From this place to the frontier of the Muslims the language of the people is the Marīsī, and this (al-Marīs) is the last [most northerly] district of their king (mutamallik). [p. 606] There is the district (nāḥiya) of Baqūn<ref>Several different readings of this name are possible. Cf. Wiet III, p. 255, n. 10.</ref>, which means "marvel": it is so called because of its beauty.

I did not see a wider district on the Nile: I estimated that the width of the Nile in this district, from east to west, is five days' journey. The islands break up the Nile into several streams, which flow among them through a low-lying land and [along] an uninterrupted string of villages and fine buildings with pigeon towers, cattle and camels. The bulk food supplies to their capital come from this district. Their [commonest] birds are the taghṭīṭ, the nūbī, the babbāgh and other beautiful birds. Their king prefers to spend his leisure in this district. [Al-Aswānī] said: I was with him on some of these occasions and we made our way in the narrow canals under the shadow of trees from both banks. The crocodiles in this country are not harmful. I saw them [the inhabitants] swimming across these canals. Next comes Safadh Ba'al<ref>A tentative reading. Other readings Wiet III, p. 256, n. 5; Quatremère, Mémoires 2, p. 13: Sefid Bakl.</ref>, which is a narrow district, similar to the one on the borders of their country, with the difference that at Safadh Ba'al there are beautiful islands, and within less than two days' journey are about thirty villages with beautiful buildings, churches and monasteries, many palm-trees, vines, gardens, cultivated fields and broad pastures on which one can see camels (ibil) and very fine dromedaries (jumāl suhub) for breedding (mu'abbala li-n-nitāj). Their king often comes here because the southern border of this district is contiguous with Dongola (Dunqula), the capital. From the town of Dongola, the capital of the country, to Aswān, is a [p. 607] distance of fifty days away. He [al-Aswānī] gave a description of it and then said: they roof their houses with the wood of the sunt tree and the sāj, which is carried to them by the Nile during the flood season, in planks (isqālāt) with carvings (manḥuta), and no one knows where they come from. I saw for myself some very strange signs (ʿalāma gharība).

The distance between Dongola and the beginning of the country of 'Alwa is more than that between Dongola and Aswān. In that region there are big and small villages (al-qurā wa-ḍ-ḍiyyāʿ), islands, cattle, palm-trees, muql, cultivated fields and vines, many times as much as is seen on the side bordering the land of the Muslims. In these places there are large islands [several] days' journey in length, in which there are mountains and wild beasts and lions (as-sibāʿ) and stretches of desert, where the traveller fears to travel without water. From these districts the Nile turns eastwards and westwards for long stretches equalling several days' journey, until the land becomes even on the district where the bend of the Nile reaches the mine known as ash-Shanka<ref>Shanqa. Troupeau: “the great Nile bends between Dongola and Khartoum”. It may be recalled to mind that “shanqa” is also the name of a measure of capacity for liquids, mentioned by Maqrīzī in the story of al-Omarī. (See below Kitāb al-Muqaffā).</ref>; it is the country known as ash-Shanqir. Al-Omarī, whose name was Abū 'Abdurrahman 'Abdalla b. 'Abdulhamīd b. 'Abdalla b. 'Abdul'azīz b. 'Abdalla b. 'Abdalla b. 'Umar b. al-Khaṭṭāb originated in this country. He had waged several wars in Nubia and Bejaland, had defeated the army of Aḥmad ibn Ṭūlūn and occupied this district until he met his fate.

[p. 608] The hippopotamuses are numerous in these places. From this place<ref>Today’s Berber.</ref> begins the road leading to Sawākin, Bādi', Dahlak and the islands of the Red Sea.

The Omayyads who escaped death by fleeing to Nūba passed along these roads. In this district there is also a number of Beja, who are known as az-Zanāfij: they had migrated to Nubia long ago and settled there; all of them lead their own pastoral life and preserve their own language, not mixing with the Nūba, nor settling in their [Nubians'] villages. They are under a wālī, who is appointed by the Nubian King. (W. II, 3, pp. 252 - 258).

Chapter XXXI: About the Branching of the Nile as from the Country of 'Alwa and About its Peoples

The Nūba and the Muqurra are two races (jinsāni), each speaking a different language. Both live along the banks of the Nile. The Nūba, who are the Marīs, are neighbours of the land of Islam. There is a five miles gap between the frontier of their country and Aswān. It is said that Salhā, the ancestor (jadd) of an-Nūba,<ref>Sic (with the article) in Arabic. It may be intended as the name of an individual person or of a people.</ref> and Muqurrī (or Muqurrā), the ancestor of al-Muqurrah,<ref>Sic (with the article) in Arabic. It may be intended as the name of an individual person or of a people.</ref> were (both) from Yemen. It is said that (both) an-Nūba and Muqurrī<ref>Without “al-“.</ref> were from Himyar: most of the genealogists agree that all of them (annahum jamī'an) are descendants of Ḥam b. Noah. Between the Nūba and the Muqurra there were wars before [the coming of] Christianity.<ref>Most probably the A.D. time before the evangelisation of Nubia, rather than the time B.C.</ref>

[p. 609] The land of al-Muqurra begins at a village called Tāfa,<ref>This statement could be correct if we assumed that “al-Marīs” or “an-Nūba” should be written instead of “al-Muqurra”, the mistake may be due to an oversight by Maqrīzī or by some copyist. Considering that in the time of al-Aswānī al-Marīs (=an-Nūba) and al-Muqurra formed one kingdom with Dongola as capital, it was perfectly true that the kingdom of al-Muqurra began at Tāfa. As for Bujarāsh, the “royal town” of the same kingdom, this statement can be accepted as truthful because Faras (Bujarāsh) was in Aswānī’s time, a former capital of a kingdom, seat of an Eparch and a most flourishing town. Monneret, Storia, p. 137, rejected this statement as erroneous, on assumption that the northern frontier of the kingdom of Maqurra necessarily was the “Maqs” near Akashah.</ref> the day’s distance from Aswān. Their royal town (madīnat maliki-him) is called Bajarāsh, less than ten day's journey from Aswān. It is told that Moses - God may be pleased with him! - raided them before he began his [prophetic] mission in the time of the Pharaoh, and destroyed Tāfa. They were [at that time] pagans (Sābi’a), who used to worship the Planets (Kawākib) and erect statues to them; later both the Nūba and the Muqurra became Christians. The town of Dongola is the capital of their kingdom (dār mamlakati-him).

The frontier of the country of 'Alwa is [marked by] some villages on the east bank of the Nile, called al-Abwāb. This district (nāḥiya) has a wālī who is subject to the Lord of ‘Alwa and is known under the name of al-wahwāh.<ref>Other possible readings: “raḥrāḥ”, “dāḥdāḥ”, “wānwāḥ”, “wāwāj”, discussed by Monneret, Storia, p. 181.</ref> From this district the Nile branches into seven streams, one of which coming from an eastern direction, has turbid water but gets so dry in summer that people camp on its bed. When the flood season comes, water springs from its bed and rises up in pools which are in the river; then rains and downpours come in the rest of the country and the level of the water rises. It is also said that the head of this river is a large source (ʿain) which flows from a mountain.

[p. 610] The historian of the Nūba said: - Simon (Sīmūn),<ref>An inscription in the Church of Sonki West mentions one “simeon, Eparch of Pachoras”. The inscription is written on the right side of the portrait of “King Georgios, son of King Zacharias”, who can easily be identified with King George II (969-1002 A.D. ?). As the office of the Eparch of Nobatia was the highest in the Nubian political organisation, one might suggest that Simeon, the Eparch, was the same person as “Sīmūn” (Simiūn), the Crown Prince of ‘Alwa.</ref> the Crown Prince (ṣāḥib ‘ahd) of the country of ‘Alwa, told me that under the mud of the bed of this river, there is a large fish (ḥūt) without scales, of a kind which is not found in the Nile. It is found by digging as deep as the size (qāmah) of a man or more until it emerges. It is a big fish. Along this [river], there is a race (jins) which is mixed [by intermarriage] between the 'Alwa and the Buja: they are called "Dīhīyyūn" (Dījīyyūn, Dasīhūn) and another race called "Bazah": the bird called the "Bāzīn pigeon" comes from their land. Behind these [peoples] there is the frontier of the country of Ḥabasha.

Then there is the White Nile (an-Nīl al-abyaḍ), which is a river coming from the west; it is intensely white like milk. He [al-Aswānī] said: - I asked an experienced traveller who came from the western parts of the countries of the Sūdān about the Nile in their country and its colour. He said that it flows out of mountains of sand, or out of a mountain of sand; then its waters run together in the country of the Sūdān into large pools, flows towards unknown countries, but, in that place, it is not yet white: it acquires that colour on account of the kind of soil through which it flows, or because of another river which enters it. On its banks there are peoples of different races (ajnās).

[p. 611] Then there is the Green Nile (an-Nīl al-akhḍar), a river which flows from the south-eastern direction. It is intensely green, very transparent in colour, so that one can distinctly see what kind of fish there are in its depths. The taste [of the Green Nile water] is different from that of the [White] Nile; he who armies from it soon becomes thirsty. The fish is the same in ail (these rivers), but its taste is different. During the flood season such kinds of wood as teak (as-sāj), log-wood (al-baqm), al-qānāʾ (?) (ghātā) and a wood which smells like the olibanum (labān), float downstream. Also large logs are brought down which can be worked into nalms for boats. This (kind of) wood also grows on its banks. It is also related [by al-Aswānī] that the wood of frankincense (bakhūr) is found [in the flood waters]. He said: - I saw that some planks (siqālāt) of sāj, which are carried during the flood season, bear some strange signs. These two rivers, viz. the White and the Green, meet near the capital of the sovereign (mutamallik) of the country of 'Alwa and each of them keeps its own colour for about one day's journey, after which they mingle up. Their waters, when they meet, throw up big waves. He said: - I spoke with someone who took water from the White Nile and poured it into the Green Nile: the water [of the White Nile] remained for one hour the colour of milk before it mingled up. Between these two rivers is an island, the end of which is not known, nor does anybody know the end of these two rivers. The width of the first one is known [at the beginning], but further on it expands and its width increases as much as one month's journey, and further on its width has not been explored at all, for the peoples who live there, fear one another in fact, many races (ajnās) dwell on these two rivers. He [Aswānī] said: [Someone] told me that some kings (mutamallik) of the country of 'Alwa set out to visit the [p. 612] extreme frontier [of the island], but they failed to reach it after a number of years, and that, on its southern extremity, there is a race who, during the day-time, dwell together with their beasts in houses [built] like vaults, under the surface of the ground, because of the excessive heat of the sun, and come out during the night. Among them there are people who go naked.

The other four rivers also flow from a south-eastern direction all in the same season. Their sources cure not known. They differ from the White and the Green Rivers in width and in the number of streams and islands. All these four [rivers] flow into the Green river as well as the first one mentioned, then join the White [river]: all [their banks] are inhabited and cultivated. One journeys through them by boat. One of these four comes from the country of the Ḥabasha. Al-Aswānī said: As I wanted to know more about these rivers I went on asking questions to this and that person, but I did not find any informant who told me that he had personally explored the source of all these four rivers. The one whom I asked said, on the authority of others, that [these rivers] begin in a wasteland (kharāb): [he said] that during the flood season some parts of boats (alāt marākib) and doors (abwāb) and other things are carried down these rivers and this proves that beyond that waste there is other inhabited land (ʿimāra).

As for the flood season, all agree that it is caused by the rains together with a substance that comes down spontaneously (mādda ta'tī min dhāti-ha) with the flood water and the proof of it is that this river dries up and its bed is inhabited; then, during the flood season, water springs [from its bed] and what is marvellous about it is that the flood, takes place at the same time in these [p. 613] rivers [which finally merge together], as well as in the other districts and countries, viz. in Egypt, in the two Thebaids (aṣ-Ṣa'īdayn). at Aswān, in the two kingdoms of Nūba and 'Alwa and in the land beyond them, What is peculiar of this flood is that it may occur, for example, at Aswān, and not at the same time at Qos, but here it will be noticed later. Whenever the rains are abundant in the upper regions of the Nile and the streams come together, one understands that that is a year of plenty (riī "good irrigation"); but whenever the rains in the upper regions are scarce, one knows that that will be a year of drought.<ref>At this point, we have omitted a passage on navigation on the Red Sea (“Sea of China”) to the East African Coast, which has no connection with Nubia.</ref>

... Some of the four rivers come from the countries of the Zanj because they carry wood of the zanjī type. Suyya<ref>Sic, in the Wiet edition. Undoubtedly, this was a copyist’s mistake for “sūbah”.</ref> is the capital of 'Alwa (al-'Ulwā) [situated] to the east of the great island between the two great rivers (al-bahrain), the White and the Green, at its northern tip, near their junction, on the eastern bank of the river (an-nahr) which dries up and on the bed of which people camp. It has fine buildings (abniya husān) and large monasteries (dūr), churches rich with gold and gardens; there is also a great suburb (rabaḍ) where many Moslems live. The king (mutamallik) of 'Alwa is more powerful than the king (mutamallik) of Muqurra, has a larger army and more horses than the Muqurran (al-muqurrī): his country is more fertile and larger; but palm trees and vines are less numerous in his country. The commonest grain among them is the white dhurra (ad-dhurra al-bay-dāʾ) which resembles rice; with it they make their bread (khubz) and their beer (mizr); [p. 614] they have plenty of meat because of the abundance of cattle and large plains for grazing plain land, so vast that it takes several days to reach the mountains. They have excellent horses (ʿitāq), tawny camels (ṣuhub) of pure Arabian pedigree (ʿurāb). Their religion is Christianity (naṣrānīyya) of the Jacobite sect (ya’aqiba); their bishops (asāqifa) are dependant on the Patriarch of Alexandria (ṣāḥib al-iskandarīyya) like the Nūba; their books are in Greek (bi-r-rūmīyyah) and they translate (yufassirūnaha) [these] into their own language. They are less intelligent than the Nūba. Their king can reduce to slavery any of his subjects he wants whether he be guilty of a crime or not, and they do not oppose him, rather they prostrate themselves before him. They do not revolt against his order, however, unjust it may be; [on the contrary] they call out loudly "May the king live (al-malik ya'īsh!)! And let his order be executed!" He [the king] is crowned with [a crown of] gold. Gold is found in plenty in his country.

One of the marvels of his country is that on the great island between the two rivers there is a race called al-Karsā: they have a vast land which is fertilised (muzdara’a) by the Nile and the rain. When the time for sowing comes, everyone goes out with whatever seed (bidhr) he has and traces the boundaries of the land according to his quantity of seed; he spreads a little of the seed at the four corners of the field and puts the [remainder of the] seed in the middle of the enclosure and also a little mizr, then he goes away. The next morning, he finds that the area he has enclosed has been sowen and the mizr has been drunk.<ref>This is a legendary, or grossly exaggerated, tale about the intervention of monkeys.</ref> When it is harvest [p. 615] time, he harvests a small part of the crop and places it wherever he likes together with a little mizr and away he goes; then he finds that all the crop has been harvested and grounded. If he wants to have it thrashed or winnowed, he acts in the same way. If any one wants to clear his seed from the weeds and, by mistake, uproots even a little seed, he will find [on the morrow] that all the seed has been uprooted. This district (nāḥiya), where the things I have just mentioned take place, contains vast territories (buldān) equal to two months' journey in both length and width; and all of it is sown at the same time. The provisions (mīraʿ) of the [people of the] country of 'Alwa and of their king come from this district: they send the boats and these come back loaded. Sometimes there is war between them. Al-Aswānī said: - This account is true and is well known among all the Nūba, the 'Alwa and the Moslem traders, and all those who travel over that country: they have no doubt about it, nor suspicion. Were it not so well known and widely spread, no one would believe any part of what I reported, but would treat it as a shameful lie. The natives believe that the jinn do this and that they appear to some of their wizards who, by means of some stones, have the power to subject them [the jinn] to their will and to work wonders for them. [The natives claim] that even the clouds obey [their wizards].

Al-Aswānī said: - One of the wonders of Nubia - about which the King of Maqurra told me – [is] that, when they have rains on the mountains, they, soon afterwards, collect fish on the ground. I asked them what kind it was. They said that it was small in size and has a red tail.

Al-Aswānī said: - I saw many tribes of the people whom I mentioned before; most of them believe in the Creator [p. 616] (al-bārī) and make offerings to Him in the form of the Sun, or the Moon or the Stars. Some of them do not know the Creator and adore the Sun and the Day [an-nahār; B.: an-nār, the Fire); some others adore whatever they like; trees or animals. He said that he saw a man in the council of the King of Maqurra (majlis 'azīm al-muqurra) and questioned him about his country. The man answered that the distance from it to the Nile is three months' journey. He questioned the man about his religion and the man replied: 'My Lord (rabbī) and your Lord and the Lord of the King and the Lord of every man is but One'. He asked: 'Where is He?' The man answered: 'In Heaven alone: Glory to Him!' He also said that if the rains are late, or the people are hit by the plaque, or if pestilence falls on their cattle, they climb the mountain and pray to God and they are heard promptly and granted their demands before they come down [from the mountain]. [Al-Aswānī] asked him: 'Did He ever send an Envoy (rasūl) among you?' He replied: ‘No’. So al-Aswānī told him about the mission of Moses and 'Isā and Moḥammed - God be pleased with them! - and the wonders which they wrought! The man answered: 'If they have wrought this, they should be believed.' Then he said: ‘I [too] should have believed in them, had they done that [in my presence]’.

... The author said: - The Awlād Kanz ad-Dawla vanquished the Nūba and took their kingdom since the year... (lacuna)<ref>Some MSS have a blank here, while others have none. According to one MSS, the year seems to be 725 H. (1325 A.D.). Cf. Wiet, op.cit., p. 265, n. 5.</ref> and built a mosque in Dongola where he gives lodging to foreign travellers.

[p. 617] [The Kanem]

Know that one the [west-] bank of the Nile there is the [country of the] Kānem. Their king is a Moslem: between him and the Māllī there is a very great distance; his capital is called Jīmī and the beginning of his kingdom, on the side of Egypt is a village called Zalā (Zella), and on the opposite side there is a village called Kākā: between the two there are about three months' journey. They wear the muffler (yatalaththimūna). Their king lives in seclusion and can be seen on two feast days in the morning and in the afternoon; throughout the rest of the year nobody may speak to him except from behind the screen (ḥijāb). Their staple food is rice which grows without being sown; they have wheat, dhurra, figs, lemons, egg-plant, turnip, fresh dates: they trade by exchanging home-made cloth called "dandī"; each piece (thawb) is 10 cubits in length; they buy it in pieces of 1/4 cubit each or more; they also make use of cowry (wadaʿ), glassware (kharz, glassware, shells), pieces of copper, paper (waraq): all this is exchanged against pieces of that cloth.

In the south of their country there are places which are very hot (shi’ārī) and deserts (sahārā) inhabited by savage people similar to the Ghūl with human features; a horseman cannot overtake her, yet she can do harm to men; she appears during the night under the form of sparks (filal) of bright fire; if anyone attempts to catch her, she flees away from him; even though he runs after her, he cannot catch her: she will constantly flee ahead of him; if he throws stones at her and hits her, sparks of fire fly from her. In their country the gourd plant (al-yaqtīna) is held in great esteem so that they use it to make boats to cross the Nile. These countries between Ifrīqiya and Barqa extend southwards as far as the [p. 618]middle of the western parallel: the land is rainless and rugged and unattractive.

The first [person] who spread Islam there was a certain al-Hādī al-'Uthmanī, who claimed to be a descendant of Osman b. 'Affān. After him [the population] passed over to the Yazmīyyīn of Sayf b. Dhū-l-Yazan. They belong to the rite of the Imām Malik b. Uns. Justice is administered among them and they are very conservative about religion and tough. They built in the city of Miṣr a madrasa for the Mālikī [rite], called "madrasa ibn Rashīq", in the year 641 H. (1243 A.D.) and the students from their country come and settle here. (W. II, 3, pp. 252 - 258; B., pp. 554 - 560).

Chapter XXXII: The Beja who are Said to be a Berber People

The first village of the Beja country is that known as al-Khirba (B.: al-Hazabah). The emerald (az-zumurrud) mine is found in the desert of Qos. The distance between this place and Qos is about three days' Journey.

Al-Jāḥiz mentioned that there is no other emerald mine in the world apart from this. The emerald is found in deep dark caverns entered with lamps and ropes to indicate the way out and prevent one becoming lost. Mattocks are used to dig it out: it is found in stones surrounded by a gangue which is not pure and lacks lustre.

The other extremity of the Beja country is where it joins Ethiopia (al-Ḥabasha). Within this island - I mean to say the "island of Egypt" (Miṣr) - the Beja occupy a territory which extends as far as the coast (sayf) of the sea where the islands of Sawākin, Bāḍiʿ and Dahlak are found. The Beja are nomads, who look for fresh grass [p. 619] wherever it may be found for grazing: [they move around] and live in their tents made of skins. Their rules of descent are matrilinear (min jihat an-nisāʾ); each section (baṭn) [of a tribe] has its own chieftain (ra'īs), but they have no king (mutamallik). They follow no [God-given] religion (dīn). The inheritance is passed to the son of the sister (ibn al-ukht) or to the son of the daughter (ibn al-bint) to the exclusion of the son (walad) of the deceased. This is done on grounds that concerning the son born to a sister of the deceased, or the son of the daughter [of the deceased] there can be no doubt as to who is the father, the child can only be her own child.

In the past they had a chief whom all the [other] chiefs obeyed, and who used to reside in a village called Hajar (Hajr) in the remotest part of the Beja land. The Beja ride tawny dromedaries (najab) which are bred in their country; they also have very numerous camels (jumāl) of the Arab breed. Cattle, goats, and sheep are extremely numerous among them. Their cattle are beautiful with long shining horns; these too are in great numbers, as well as rams and sheep, which are of a spotted breed and produce abundant milk. Their food consists of meat and their drink is milk: they make little use of bread (khubz; Bulaq ed.: jibn: cheese), yet there are some who eat it. Their bodies are healthy and their stomachs are thin; their complexion is rather light; they run very fast; in speed they surpass [all] the other men.

Also their camels are very speedy and can last the pace for a long time running well and endure thirst. When mounted on camels, [the Beja] can overbake horses and fight in battle; they turn them around at their will, and run for very long distances over the country. It [p. 620] must also be mentioned that the Beja go to combat on camelback and throw spears: if [the javelin] has struck the target, the camel runs toward it so that its master might seize it [the target]; if the javelin strikes the ground, the camel bends his neck [to the ground] so that its master may pick it up.

Some time in the past there arose among them a man called Kilāz (Kilār). He was strong and brave, and had a camel of incredible speed; the camel, as well as his master, was one-eyed. [Kilāz] promised his people that he would go to [pray in] the masallā of Fusṭāṭ (Miṣr) on the day of the feast. This was already so near, that it seemed impossible, but he kept the promise and arrived at the Moqattam [at the time agreed upon]. Several horsemen ran after him, but could not overtake him. This was the man who caused sentinels to be posted at the foot [of the Moqattam] at the beginning of the feast. The Tulunides and other emirs of Egypt (Miṣr) used to post at the foot of the Moqattam Mountain, at a place next to the quarter of the Ḥabash,<ref>See below p. 696.</ref> a numerous garrison in charge of the security of the population until the celebration of the feast had ended.

[Beja Customs]

The Beja are a people living under the protection of Islam (aṣḥāb dhimma): if anyone has committed treachery, the man who has suffered [the treachery] raises a piece of cloth on a spear-head and says: "This is the off shoot (ghars) [Quatremère read: ʿarsh "la tente"] of N.N. [the traitor]"; by this he means to say: "I am the traitor". Thus he claims for himself the responsibility<ref>The meaning of this gesture was – in our opinion – a warning by the wronged man preparing to retaliate.</ref>, until they come to an agreement. They are [p. 621] exceedingly hospitable: if any visitor comes to one or their, [by night], the host kills a lamb to honour him. If the visitors number more than three, the host slaughters a camel [or an ox] from the nearest herd, whether it belongs to him or to another. If there is no animal at all he slaughters the mount of the guest himself and compensates him with a better one.

Their weapons are spears, called subā’ īyya, seven cubits long, so called because the iron-head with which they are equipped, measures three cubits; the iron part equals a sword in width; they never lay them down except at certain [definite] times, because at the end of the wooden handle there is a sort of catch which prevents it from slipping from their hands. The women make these spears; they make them in a place where no man is allowed to enter except when buying from them. If any of these women has a girl-child from the visitors, they (the women) rear her; but if she has a boy-child, they kill him saying that men are able only to cause quarrels and wars.

They have shields (daraq) made of haired ox-skins and also shields turned round the side (maqlūba) made of buffalo skin, called Axumite (aksumīyya), and also others called dahlakīyyah (Dahlak islands) and others made of the skin of a sea-animal. Their bows are large and thick, made of wood of sidr (lote-tree) and shūḥāṭ, the shape of the Arab bow, with which they discharge poisoned arrows; this poison is made from the roots of ghalqah (Peganum harmala, a poisonous tree of Arabia) boiled on the fire until it becomes like glue. If they want to test it, one of them makes an incision on his body and lets the blood flow, then he applies this poison: if the blood flows back [towards the wound)]they know that the poison is good, then he wipes away the blood to prevent it from entering his body and causing death; if it enters [p. 622] the body of a man, he is instantly killed, however, small the wound may be; it has no effect except on bleeding wounds; if it is drunk, it causes no harm.

[The Beja Country]

Their territories are rich in minerals: the further one penetrates the country the better and more abundant the gold is. They have silver mines, copper, iron, and lead, magnetic ore (mal-maghnatīs), marcasite (al-marqashitā), amethyst (al-jamshīt, al-ḥamsīt) , emerald (az-zummurrud), asbestos stone (hijāra bīshtā). If the asbestos is soaked in oil, it kindles like a wick. In addition to these (minerals), there are others, but all the Beja work mainly to find gold, while they completely neglect the other minerals. In their valley there are the moql (dom-palm, bdellium), the myrobalan-tree (al-ihlīj), shoemantum (al-idhkhir), the absynth (ash-shīh), a kind of wormwood or broomplant, the common senna (as-sanā), coloquint (ḥanẓal), al-bān (ficus bengalensis) etc and, at the extremity of their country there are date-palms, vines, odoriferous and other wild plants. There is wild game such as lion, elephant, leopard (numūr) and panther (fuhūd), monkeys, badger, (ʿannāq al-arḍ) "ursus meles", civetcat (zabād) and an animal similar to gazelle, beautiful with golden horns, which does not survive in captivity. Among their birds, there is the parrot (babbāgh), the taghṭīṭ (Bouriant: naqīṭ) and the nūbī, the turtle-dove (qāmārī), the guinea-fowl (dajāj al-ḥabash), the Bāzīn pigeon, etc.

All their men are deprived of the right testicle, and their women are deprived of the magna labia: the edges are drawn together and let heal so that, at marriage, it is necessary to make an incision convenient for the man's organ. This practice has become rare. It is [p. 623] told that the reason for it was that after a king had defeated them in war, he made a peace-treaty and laid down among the conditions that at birth, all girls should be deprived of their breasts and the boys should be deprived of their genital organs; by so doing he intended to stop procreation among them; they accepted the conditions, but inverted the terms, so that they cut the breasts of the men and the vulva (furūj) of the women. There are some who cut their own two incisors, lest they resemble donkeys, as they say.

At the extreme end of their country, there is another tribe called (Bazāh), among whom the women all have the same name and also the men. [It is said that] a Muslim man, a camel-owner, happened to pass through their country: they called one another saying: - This is [a] God who came from Heaven and is now sitting under a tree! They looked at him from afar.

They hold snakes in great esteem of which there are many kinds.<ref>Fabulous stories about snakes and poison-making in Bejaland are reported by Maqrīzī (pp. 269-270).</ref>

The Beja are troublesome and aggressive. At the rise of Islam and even before it, the Beja carried out raids into the eastern bank of Upper Egypt, where they destroyed several villages. The Pharaohs of Egypt used to invade their country and, at times, they made agreements because they were in need of the minerals. Also the Greeks (ar-Rūm), when they occupied Egypt, left some obvious remains [of their working]. Their mines and the managers were still there [running the mines], when Egypt was conquered by the Arabs.

[p. 624] [Beja-Arab Relations]

'Abd ar-Raḥmān b. 'Abdalla b. 'Abd al-Ḥakam said that [some of] the Beja met 'Abdalla b. Sa'd b. Abī Sarḥ during his withdrawal from Nubia along the Nile. He asked them about their affairs: he was told that they had no king to whom to refer to; he despised them and left them; they made no treaty or peace [with him]: The first who signed a treaty and agreement with them was ‘Ubaidallah b. Ḥabḥāb as-Salūlī. He ('Abd al-Ḥakam) said that he found the letter of ibn Ḥabḥāb whereby [the tribute] was fixed at 300 young camels (bakr) every year, so that they alight be allowed to come [down] into the [Egyptian] countryside (rīf), but only in transit as merchants, without right of residing and on condition that they kill no Moslem or dhimmī; if they killed any, the agreement would become null and void; not to give asylum to the slaves (ʿabīd) of the Muslims, and hand back those who ran away if they sought refuge among the Beja. It is said that for any of these runaway slaves, as well as for any sheep, they [the Beja] had to pay four dinars; for a cow, ten dinars. Their agent (wakīl) lived in the Egyptian territory as a hostage in the hands of the Moslems.

Later on, the Moslems became numerous in the mines and by intermarriage with the Beja; many Beja of the tribe known as Ḥadārib professed Islam, [only] superficially they live in the territory next to Upper Egypt, i.e. from the frontier up to al-'Allāqī and to 'Aydhāb, which is the harbour, from which one sails for Jeddah and beyond. There is another tribe among them called Zanāfij, who are more numerous than the Ḥadārib, but they are subject to them as serfs, escorts (khufarāʾ) and guards and the Ḥadārib entrust their cattle to them. Every chieftain of the Ḥadārib owns a number of the Zanāfij as patrimony (humla): they are like slaves (ʿabīd) and many be be be-[p. 625]-queathed from one to another. In the past the Zanāfij were masters [of the Ḥadārib].

The raids of the Ḥadārib on Muslim territory multiplied; at that time the wālīs of Aswān came from Iraq and reported the affair to the Commander of the Faithful, Al-Ma'mūn. He sent 'Abdalla b. Jahm who fought them several times, and made a peace-treaty with them signed by him and Kanūn, their paramount chief, who lived in the village of Ḥajar mentioned above. The following is a copy of the treaty: "This is the letter (Kitāb) written by 'Abdalla b. al-Jahm, servant (mawlā) of the Commander of the Faithful, head of the victorious army, agent (ʿāmil) of the emir Abū Ishāq, son of the Commander of the Faithful ar-Rashīd [Hārūn], in the month of Rabī al-Awwal of the year 216 H. [April 831 A.D.], to Kanūn 'Abd al-'Azīz, chief of the Beja in Aswān. You have asked me to give you a safe conduct and I undertake to give you and your people security in my name, as well as in the name of all the Muslims. I answered and I offered you the promise in my name and in the name of all the Muslims, as long as you and they are straight forward to keep what you gave me and what you laid down as condition in this treaty, viz. that the plain and the mountains of your country, from the extreme frontier at Aswān in the land of Egypt, up to a frontier between Dahlak and Bāḍīʿ belongs as property (mulk) to al-Ma'mūn ‘Abdalla b. Hārūn the Commandant of the Faithful. You and all your people are servants (ʿabīd) of the Commander of the Faithful, but he acknowledges you as king (malik) of your country, over which you rule. You must pay every year that tribute (kharāj), which has been customary among the Beja, i.e. 100 camels (ibil), or 300 dinars in cash, to be paid to the Treasury (bait al-māl), the choice between this and that will be decided by the Commander of the Faithful and his wālīs. You [p. 626] must not subtract any part of it, i.e. of the tribute. You and your people must not say anything unworthy at any time when mention is made of Moḥammed the Prophet, or of the Koran (Kitāb Allah) or His religion.- You must not kill any Moslem, free or slave; otherwise the protection (dhimma) will cease, viz. the protection of God, of his Prophet, the protection of the Commander of the Faithful and that of the Moslem people, and the murderer's blood will be shed in the same way as that of the enemies (ahl al-ḥarb) and their children. No one of you should help enemies of Islam with money or guide them to any place belonging to the Moslems, or spy on their army (ʿizzah): should this happen, the agreement of protection will become null and void, and his (i.e. of the offender) blood will be shed. Also, if anyone of you were to kill a Moslem, intentionally or unintentionally, whether he be a free man or a slave, or a man having the status of protection (ahl adh-dimma) or if anyone causes damage financially to any Moslem or the people under their protection, whether it be in Beja country, or in Moslim country or in the Nūba country, or any other place, on land or at sea, he shall pay for the killing of the Moslem 10 times the blood-price (dīyya), equivalent to 500 camels; for the killing of a slave of the Moslem, ten times the price [of the slave], or for the killing of a dhimmī, ten times the dīyya that is paid in the country of the victim; for any financial damage to the Moslem or the dhimmī, ten times as much. If a Moslem goes to the Beja country to trade or to reside or is in transit or on pilgrimage to Mecca, he must enjoy the same security as one of your people until he leaves your territory; you must not give asylum to fugitive slaves (ubbāq) of Moslems: if any of them arrives [in your country] you must return him to the Muslims; you must give back the livestock property (amwāl) of the Muslims whenever any [p. 627]crosses [the frontier] into your country, without obligation on their part to pay back to you anything for that [service]. If you enter [the countryside (rīf) of] Upper Egypt for trade or in transit, you must neither carry arms [openly], nor enter the towns and the villages under any pretext. You must not prevent a Moslem from entering your country and carrying out trade there by land or by sea; you must keep the way free from danger, and you must not prevent any Moslem or dhimmī from travelling; you must avoid stealing anything from a Moslem or a dhimmī; you must not pull down the mosques (masājid) which the Moslems have built in Sinja (Bouriant: Sīḥa), Hajar and other places throughout your country. If you do that, the treaty becomes null and void and you will enjoy no protection. Kanūn Ibn 'Abdel 'Azīz must reside in the countryside of Egypt as an agent (wakīl) to the Muslims to execute the conditions stipulated for the payment of the tribute, and to pay the compensation for any offence (iṣāba) committed by the Beja against the life or property of the Moslems. No Beja man may cross the frontier of al-Qaṣr beyond the village of Qubbān, in Nubia, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. 'Abdalla al-Jahm, mawlā of the commander of the Faithful, undertakes to guarantee safety to Kanūn ibn 'Abdel 'Azīz, chief of the Beja according to the conditions laid down in this our letter, to be ratified by the Commander of the Faithful. If he infringes [any of the conditions] or commits acts of violence, neither the treaty nor the protection will remain valid. Kanūn must allow the agents (ʿummāl) of the Commander of the Faithful to enter his country to collect the alms (sadaqāt) of those Beja who have emoraced Islam; he must also faithfully execute the terms agreed upon between him and ‘Abdalla b. Jahm, which he has sworn by an oath [in the name] of God, which is the most solemn oath a man can take. Kanūn ibn ‘Abdel [p. 628] ‘Azīz and all the Beja will enjoy God’s unfailing promise of protection (ʿahd Allah wa-mīthāqi-hi), as well as the protection (dhimma) of the Commander of the Faithful and the protection of Abū Ishāq [= al-Mu’tasim], son of the Commander of the Faithful, the protection of 'Abdalla b. al-Jahm, and the protection of the Moslems [and their assurance] that they will fulfil the terms offered by 'Abdalla b. Jahm so long as Kanūn b. 'Abdel 'Azīz will fulfil all the terms laid down to him. If Kanūn b. 'Abdel 'Azīz or any of the Beja alters [any clause of the treaty], the protection of God (dhimmat Allah), the protection (dhimma) of the Commander of the Faithful, and that of the emir Abū Ishāq son of the Comander of the Faithful ar-Rashīd, the protection of 'Abdalla b. Jahm and the protection of the Muslim become null and void." All that was [written] in this letter was translated, word by word, by Zakariah b. Ṣālih al-Makhzūm, one of the inhabitants of Jedda, and by 'Abdalla b. Ismā'īl al-Qorashī, then it was entered in the register by a number of [judiciary] witnesses of Aswān.

[Al-Qummī's Campaign]

The Beja kept that agreement for some time, then they resumed their raids into the country of Upper Egypt; many complaints were made against them to the Commander of the Faithful Ja'far al-Mutawakkil 'alā Allah. He appointed Muḥammad b. 'Abdalla al-Qummī to wage war against them. He [Qummī] asked to select his men as he wished: he did not like to have a numerous army because of the difficult roads; he marched on them [the Beja] from Miṣr with a powerful troop of selected men; some boats sailed by sea. The Beja gathered in numbers mounted on camels to oppose them. The Muslims were terrified by that multitude. He [al-Qummī] kept them [the Beja] busy by writing them a long letter on ṭūmār [rolled] paper and wrapped it in [p. 629] a piece of cloth: they gathered to read it, then he fell on them. He also had bells tied to the neck of the horses, causing the camels of the Beja to flee in all directions, not standing the noise (ṣalṣala) of the bells. Then the Muslims hurled themselves in pursuit and many Beja were killed in the slaughter. The Beja chief himself was killed, and his nephew (ibn akhīhi<ref>Balādhurī: “ibn ukhti-hi” (“his sister’s son”).</ref> = his brother's son) took his place: he asked for a truce and al-Qummī made a peace-treaty on condition that he would pay a visit to the Commander of the Faithful. So he went to Baghdad and was Introduced to al-Mutawakkil at Surra-man-ra'ā in the year 241 H. [b. 22 May 855 A. D.]. A peace-treaty was signed on condition that he should pay the tribute (itāwa), as well as the baqṭ. The condition was also laid down that they [the Beja] would not prevent the Muslims from working in the mines. Al-Qummī resided at Aswān for sometime and consigned to the stores of the town all the armament and equipment he had brought for that raid; the wālīs [of Aswān] continued using this war material until it was finished.


When the Muslims became very numerous in the mines and mixed with the Beja they [the Beja] became less troublesome. Gold was produced in considerable quantity because of the multitude of miners. People heard about it and came from several countries. One of the prominent people who travelled thither was one 'Abū ’Abdur-raḥmān b. 'Abdalla b. 'Abd al-Ḥamīd al-Omarī (Bouriant: al-'Amarī) after he had fought against the Nūba in the year 255 H. [868 A.D.]. He had with him [an army of] Rabī'a and Juhayna (Bouriant: Gahinahs) and other Arab [p. 630] tribes. The population in the mines region of the Beja increased so much that 60,000 beasts of burden were engaged to transport supplies (mirah) from Aswān to them, without counting what was imported by boat from Qulzum to 'Aydhāb.

The Beja were friendly with the Rabī'a and intermarried with them.

It is said that the Beja magicians (kuhhān), before any of them adhered to Islam, had announced on behalf of their divinity (ma'būd) that they should [one day] become subject to the Rabī'a. This is what actually happened when Omarī was killed: the Rabī'a occupied the island (jazīra)<ref>The Beja territory between the Nile and the Red Sea.</ref> and the Beja helped them: they expelled those Arabs who were hostile to the Rabī'a. The Beja chieftains gave their daughters in marriage to them and so the enmity against the Moslems ceased.

[The Beja Magicians]

The Beja of the interior, who live in the desert of tha country of 'Alwa along the [Red] Sea up to the frontier of Ethiopia (al-Ḥabasha), are, likewise the Ḥadārib, nomads (za'n) and shepherds, have the same food, use the same beasts of burden and the same weapons; the only difference is that the Ḥadārib are more courageous and less turbulent.

The Beja of the inner country have remained pagans (ālā kufr), following the worship of Satan (Shayṭān) and the decisions of their magicians. Each clan has its own magician (kāhin), who erects a leather dome (qubba) where they worship. If they ever want to consult him (the magician) about their needs, he takes off his garments and enters the qubba walking backwards towards it, [p. 631] then he comes out to them looking somewhat like a madman [or epileptic], shouting: - "The Devil greets you and advises you to withdraw from such and such a place, lest a people should attack you. You have asked about such and such a raid; well, go, because victory will be yours and you will take such and such spoils, the camels which you will seize from such and such a place will be mine, as well as that slave girl whom you will find in such and such a hide-out, and a sheep of such and such a kind." He utters these and similar words. They believe that most of what he foretells them will become true. If they take booty, they separate from it the part which he specified [as belonging to him] and they give it to the magician. If any [Beja] objects to this [i.e. to paying the magician his due], they refuse to let him [the objector] [the right of] drinking the milk of their she-camels. If they decide to move to another place, the magician puts his leather dome on a special camel and they claim that that camel can hardly rise on its feet and walk with great effort and that it sweats profusely although the qubba is quite empty. There are still some [clans] among the Ḥadārib who follow this practice and some who hold this [belief] together with Islam.

The Historian of Nubia, from whom I have summarized what I have related here above, said: I read a letter written by some tribes (ajnās) to the Commander of the faithful Alī ibn Taleb, where the mention of the Beja and the Kajah occurs. It is said in the letter that they are very wild, but little inclined to stealing. Actually, that is true about the Beja as for the Kajah, I do not know them.

Here ends what Abdalla b. Aḥmed [al-Aswānī], the Nubian Historian, reported.

[p. 632] [Other Writers on the Beja]

Abū-l-Ḥasan al-Mas'ūdī said: - The Beja settled in the territory between the Red Sea and the Nile of Egypt and are divided into branches [but] which have established one king (malik) [other reading: mulūk, several kings] to rule over them all.

In their land there are gold mines where native gold ore (tibr) is found; there are also emerald mines. They go in big troops (sarāyā) or in smaller parties (manāsir), mounted on dromedaries, into the country of the Nūba where they carry out raids. In the past, the Nūba were stronger than the Beja, until Islam penetrated there and prevailed; in fact, a great number (jamā’a) of Muslims came and settled in the region of the gold mines region, at 'Allāqī and 'Aydhāb; [then] in that territory Arabs of the tribe of Rabī'a b. Nizār, b. Ma'add, b. 'Adnān settled and their power increased considerably since they intermarried with the Beja and the Beja became stronger. Then some Rabī'a became related to the Beja by intermarriage, and the Rabī'a, thanks to their relation with the Beja, became more powerful than the neighbouring tribes such as the Qaḥṭān and others who had settled in that territory.

The ruler of the mines [region] at this time, which is the year 332 H. [= 943 A.D.] is Bishr b. Merwān b. Ishāq b. Rabī'a, who owns 3,000 warriors. Their allies are the Mudar<ref>Bouriant read: “Miṣr” instead of “muḍar” and translated “their allies are in Egypt, Yemen … etc.”.</ref> and the Yaman, as well as 30,000 Beja spear-men mounted on camels and carrying native (bijāwiyya) leather shields. They are of the Ḥadārib tribe and are [the only] Muslims among the Beja: while the Beja living in the inner parts are pagans who worship an idol of theirs.

[p. 633] The land of these Beja nomads who own the emerald mine is bordering on 'Allāqī, where there is [also] the gold mine. Between 'Allāqī and the Nile there are 15 days and the nearest town is Aswān.

The island of Sawākin is less than one mile in length and in width: between it and the Red Sea (al-baḥr al-ḥabashī) there is a strait which one can swim across. Its population consists of a branch of Beja called al-Khāsa, who are Moslems and have their own king (malik) on the island.

Al-Hamadhānī said: - Kana'ān b. Hām married Arsal daughter of Betāwīl, b. Taris, b. Yapheth; she gave birth to Khafā (Khaqā ?), the Asāwid [= the Blacks], the Nūba, the Fazzān, the Zanj, the Zaghāwa and other tribes of Blacks (ajnās as-Sūdān). It was said that the Beja are descendants of Ḥam, son of Noah; it was also said that they are descendants of Kūsh b. Kana'ān b. Ḥam; others said that the Beja are one of the tribes of the Ḥabash (Ḥubsh). They have tents of [woven] hair, their complexion is darker than the Ḥabasha; they wear the same dress as the Arabs. They have no towns or villages or cultivated fields, they live on what they import from the land of Ḥabasha, Egypt (Miṣr) and Nubia. The Beja were idol worshippers, then they embraced Islam under the emirate of 'Abdalla b. Sa'd b. Abī Sarḥ. They are quite generous; they are divided into tribes and subtribes (afkhādh), each of them under a chief (ra'īs): they are all shepherds and live only on meat and milk. (W.II,3, pp. 267 - 280; B., pp. 561 - 571).

[p. 634] Chapter XXXIII<ref>We omit the first part of this chapter which consists of quotations from Al-Mas’ūdī (q.v.) about the geographical position of Aswān, its resources, etc..</ref> : The Town of Aswān

... In the month of Dhū-l-Hijja of the year 344 H. [= April/May 956 A.D.], the king of Nubia made a raid on Aswān and killed many Muslims. Muḥammad b. 'Abdalla al-Khāzin marched with an army from Miṣr to fight him by order of Unūjūr, the son of Ikhshīd, in the month or Muḥarram of the year 345 H. [= May/June 956 A.D.]. They moved by land and river, and sent [to Miṣr] a number of Nubians they had taken prisoner and [later] beheaded them. The king of the Nūba was defeated and al-Khāzin advanced into Nubia until he took the town of Ibrīm and made its inhabitants prisoners. Then he returned to Miṣr about the middle of Jumadā al-Ulā of the year 345 H. [26 August 956 A.D.] bringing with him 150 prisoners and a great number of heads [of people he had beheaded].

Al-qādī al-Fāḍil<ref>Saladin’s famous secretary (q.v.).</ref> said that the revenue of the frontier town of Aswān in the year 585 H. [= 1187 A.D.] was 25,000 dinars.

Kamāl Ja'far al-Edfūwī said: At Aswān there were 80 delegates in charge of the taxation (rusul ash-sharʿ), and the revenue of Aswān in one year was 30,000 ardab of dates (tamar). A clerk told me that in his office there were forty head-clerks (sharīf khāṣṣa), and that in another office he saw sixty head-clerks, without counting the minor employees. He also said: - I saw for myself in one office about forty archivists (mu'arrikh). This was after the year 620 H. [= 1219 A.D.]. In the town of Aswān lived the Banū Kanz, a branch of the Rabī’a, who were valiant and praiseworthy emirs, of whom al-Fāḍil as-Sadīd Abū-l-Ḥasan b. 'Arrām wrote the biographies, des-[p. 635]-cribe their merits, the names of those who honored them and those who opposed them. When Saladin Yūsuf b. Ayyūb sent an army against Kanz ad-Dawla and his men (aṣḥāb), they abandoned their country, - the army [of Saladin] entered their [Kanz’s] homes and found there poems written in their praise, among which a poem by Muḥammad al-Ḥasan b. az-Zubayr in which the poet said:

"He whom the fate forsakes, finds at last protection from these men, whose support involves no humiliation. Whenever they grant it, everything under the planets becomes afraid; whenever they deny it, everything on earth becomes miserable."

It is said that Saladin<ref>According to Al-Edfūwī (q.v.) it seems that the reward to the poet was given by a member of the Kanz family.</ref> rewarded [the author] with one thousand dinars and assigned to him a "sāqiya" farm worthy 1,000 dinars.

A garrison of the regular army, equipped with weapons, was stationed at Aswān to defend the borders from attacks by the Nūbah and the Sūdān. After the fall of the Fatimid dynasty this precaution was neglected: therefore the king (mutamallik) of Nubia, with ten thousand men, attacked and occupied the island in front of Aswān and took prisoner all the Muslims who lived there.

After this, the importance of Aswān as a frontier dwindled to nothing and the Awlād Kanz have occupied it since the year 790 Η. [= 1388 A.D.] and caused much damage.

[p. 636] They [the Kanz] were several times at war with the wālīs of Aswān until the great trials (mihan, sufferings) which fell [upon the people] as from the year 806 H. [= 1403/1404 A.D.], during which the territory (iqlīm) of Ṣa'īd was devastated, and the Sultan's, power over the frontier town of Aswān practically ceased: he is no more represented by a wālī in the town of Aswān and this situation lasted for several years.

Then, the Muḥarram of the year 815 H. [1412 A.D.] the Hawwāra invaded Aswān and fought the Awlād Kanz, defeated them, killed many people and took prisoners from women and children and reduced all to slavery, pulled down the walls of the town of Aswān and went away with the prisoners; they left behind them heaps of ruins without a single person living there.

The town remained in this state after it had been [the flourishing town] described by Selim al-Aswānī in his book "Akhbār an-Nūba". He said that Abū 'Abd ar-Raḥmān 'Abdalla b. 'Abd al-Ḥamīd al-Omarī when he conquered the mines, wrote to Aswān inviting the merchants to come out and join him with equipment for the mines. A man called 'Uthmān b. Ḥanjala at-Tamīmī went to join him with 1,000 beasts loaded with equipment and wheat (burr).

He [Aswānī] mentioned that when al-Omarī returned to the Beja country after his campaign against the Nūba, the population [in the mines] increased so much that the beasts which transported the provisions to them from Aswān numbered 60,000 head, without counting the boats which carried provisions from Suez to 'Aydhāb.

He [Aswānī] said: - Some of our trustworthy, old people (shuyukh) of Aswān, or precisely of a village called Ashashī, which is two and-a-half days' distance [p. 637] from Aswān, assured him that they had seen on the eastern bank on the Nile, a walled village before whose gate there was a sycomore-tree and people went in and out: but when they went to that place [to ascertain what they had seen] they found nothing; this [phenomenon] happens in winter, and not in summer, before sunrise; and all the inhabitants admit the truth of this fact.

Aswān has many kinds of dry dates (tamar) and fresh dates (ruṭab) (Bouriant: "fruits" and "legumes" respectively), among which a kind of ruṭab which are greener than the garden-beet (salq). Hārūn ar-Rashīd ordered to collect for him [samples] of all kinds of the dates of Aswān on date of each quality to be collected for him; they filled one waiba<ref>Wayba: a dry measure equalling 33 litres.</ref> and nobody in the world, except in Aswān, knows how dates become tamar, (i.e. dry dates) without being first ruṭab (green). (W. II, 3, pp. 280 - 286; B., pp. 572 - 576).

Chapter XXXIV: Philae (Bilāq)

Philae is the last fortress belonging to the Moslems, [it is situated] on an island near the Cataracts, surrounded by the Nile. There is a big village (balad) which is thickly populated. It is rich in palm-tree. At this island, the boats of the Nūba as well as those of the Moslems of Aswān land. The distance between this place [Philae] and the village of al-Qaṣr, which is the first village of Nubia, is one mile; between Philae and Aswān, four miles. From Aswān to this place is a continuous cataract (janādil), unnavigable by boats unless [p. 638] they are guided by experienced fisherman who [usually] fish there. At al-Qaṣr there is a garrison and a gate leading to the country of the Nūba. (W. op.cit., p. 282; B., p. 577).

Chapter XXXVI<ref>According to Maqrīzī and Qalqashandī, two peace-agreements and baqṭs were signed, the first in the year 20 (or 21) H./ =641 or 642 A.D., under the emirate of ‘Amrū. (Qalqashandī, VIII, p. 6; q.v.); the second in the year 31 H./ 652 A.D., under the emirate of ‘Abdalla. (See Maqrīzī, below, and Qalq. V, p. 276). The conditions stipulated under the second agreement are mentioned by most Arab historians; the terms of the first baqṭ, are mentioned (not very clearly) in the traditions recorded by Ibn Abd al-Ḥakam (q.v.).</ref> : The Baqṭ

§ 1 - Baqṭ is the name given to the [consignment of] Nubian slaves who are brought to Egypt every year, as a tribute imposed on them. It is an Arabic word used by them [Arabs] when a [piece of] land [is rented] to express the [amount of] rent in vegetables or green fodder (baqṭ min baql wa-'ushb) i.e. a piece of grazing land; in this sense it also means a small sum of money. It is also used by them to say, for example, that the Banī Tamīm are a portion (baqṭ) of the Rabī’'a tribe, or a branch or a sub-division (qiṭ’a): in this sense it would mean a portion or a fraction of property (māl): for example, a portion of land (baqṭ al-arḍ) or a portion of anything (baqṭ ash-shayʾ). Baqṭ is also called the portion of grain which is given at the rate of one-third, or one-quarter; baqṭ is also that part of dates (tamar) which,when they are harvested, fall out of the basket because during the harvest, the reaping hook missed them.

In the subject which we are dealing with, the word baqṭ means what is in possession of the Nūba.

[p. 639] § 2 – The baqṭ is received from them [Nubians] in a village called al-Qaṣr, five miles from. Aswān, between Philae and Nubia. Al-Qaṣr was the port (farḍa) of Qos. The first time that this baqṭ was imposed on the Nūba, was during the emirate of 'Amrū b. al-'Āṣ, when, after the conquest of Egypt, he sent 'Abdalla b. Sa'd Abī Sarḥ to Nubia, in the year 20 H. [641 A.D.], or in the year 21 H. according to others, with an army of 20,000 men. He remained there some time, and 'Amrū wrote to him to come back. After the death of Omar, the Nūba broke the peace agreement (ṣulḥ) which had been drawn up between them and 'Abdalla b. Sa'd; their raids in Upper Egypt multiplied, they caused damage and devastation, so that 'Abdalla b. Sa'd b. Abī Sarḥ invaded their country a second time when he was emir of Miṣr, under the caliphate of Osman, in the year 31 H. [= 652 A.D.].

He besieged them in the town of Dongola (Dumqala) and shelled them by means of catapults (manjanīq), which were unknown to the Nūba. He broke down the [roof of the] church with stones ([rom the catapults] and this astonished them. Their king, by name Qalīdurūt (Balīdurūb, Qalīdurdāt) asked for peace and went out to meet 'Abdalla looking humble, sad and submissive. 'Abdalla met him, raised him and gave him a place near him ['Abdalla]; then he concluded the peace agreement with him, on condition [that he paid] 360 men every year, while 'Abdalla undertook to supply him with grain, as [the king] had complained of the scarcity of food in his country. Of this [agreement] he left a written document as follows:

[p. 640] [The Peace Agreement<ref>Maqrīzī confused the terms of the 7th century baqṭ with other conditions imposed later, especially under the 13th century Mamelukes.</ref>]

"Omitting the conventional greetings (al-basmala),.. this is the convention given by the emir 'Abdalla b. Sa'd b. Abī Sarḥ to the chief (ʿazīm) of the Nūba and to all the people of his kingdom, a convention binding all the Nubians, great and small, from the boundary line of Aswān to the frontier of 'Alwa. 'Abdalla b.Sa'd b. Abī Sarī gave them security (amān) and truce (ḥudna), valid between them and the neighbouring Muslims of Upper Egypt, as well as the other Muslims and the dhimmī. You, Nubian people, will be safe under the guarantee (amān) of God and His Prophet Moḥammed, that we shall not fight you and shall not wage war upon you, nor shall we carry out raids [on your country], as long as you keep the condition laid down between us and yourselves: that you enter our country in transit only, not for the purpose of settling there; we also shall enter your country in transit without settling there. You must protect any Muslim or anyone who is under our protection (mu'āhid), if he settles in your country or travels through it, until he leaves the same. You must hand back any fugitive slave (ābiq) belonging to the Muslims who seeks shelter in your country: you must deliver him to the country of Islam; you must likewise return any Muslim who fights against the Muslims, you must drive him out of your country [and deliver him] to the country of Islam, without befriending him or without hindering him in any way. You must take care of the mosque (masjad)<ref>Such conditions, as the upkeep of a mosque in Dongola, are anachronistic for the year 652 A.D. Al-Aswānī, who visited Dongola about 970 A.D., was hardly allowed to celebrate Qurbān Bayrām outside the city walls.</ref> which the Muslims have built in the enclosure of your town, you must not prevent anyone from praying there, or interfere with any Muslim who goes there or lives close to it, [p. 641] until he goes away. You must keep it swept, and lighted with lamps and respect it. You must give 360 men every year, whom you will hand over to the imām of the Muslims: they must be chosen from slaves (raqīq) of your country, adults, without bodily defects, both male and female, excluding old men, old women and sucklings: you will hand them to the wall of Aswān. The Muslims do not undertake to drive away enemies who [may] attack you, or prevent them from attacking you, from the frontier of ‘Alwa to the territory of Aswān. If you give shelter to any slave of the Muslims, or you kill a Muslim, or an ally, or if you allow any damage to be done to the mosque which the Muslims have built within your town, or you retain any part of the 360 men, the treaty and truce become null and void, and we leave it; all to God to decide [by war]<ref>Qur’ān, 10, 109.</ref>, for He is the best Judge. In such a case we take as witness, on our side, God and his Promise (mīthāq). his Protection (dhimma) as well as the protection of his Envoy [Moḥammed]; you, on your side, will call as witness in your favour the dearest things of your religion, the protection of Christ (al-Masiḥ), the protection of the Apostles (al-hawwārīyyīn) and the protection of those persons whom you hold in the highest respect in your religion and your community. May God be witness between us and you on this."

This treaty was written by 'Umar b. Sharhabīl, in the month of Ramaḍān of the year 31 H. [April-May 652 A.D.].

The Nūba paid to 'Amrū b. as-'Āṣ what was agreed upon in the baqṭ before they broke it. [In addition] they gave forty slaves as a present, but he would not accept them. He returned the gift to the superintendent of [p. 642] the baqṭ (kabīr al-baqṭ), a man called Saqmūs (Samqus, Nastaqūs). This man bought provisions (jahāz) and wine (khamr) which he sent to them<ref>Arabic: “ilay-hi” (to him). Logically one might expect “ilay-him” (to them), i.e. the Nubians.</ref>. 'Abdalla, too, sent them such cereals, wheat, barley, lentils, clothing material, and horses according to the promise. This custom (ar-rasm) continued until it became a prescription (rasm) which they still repeat every year when they pay the baqṭ; the forty slaves, who were offered to 'Amrū as a present, are taken by the wālī of Miṣr.

According to Abū Khalīfa Ḥamīd b. Hishām al-Buhturī, the amount fixed in the peace treaty with the Nūba is 360 slaves to the Treasury (fayʾ) of the Muslims, 40 slaves to the Governor (ṣāḥib) of Egypt; in return, the Muslims pay to the Nūba 1,000 ardab of wheat (qamḥ) and the delegates [of the Nubian king] 300 ardab; the same quantity of barley; 1,000 jugs (aqnīn<ref>Several readings are proposed. Cf. Wiet, op.cit., p. 296, n. 6. Caetani (Ann. IV, par. 110, pp. 520-521) read “iqtīz”, but admitted that a measure called by this name was unknown to him.</ref>) for the king, and 300 for his delegates, and two horses of the breed used by the emirs; l00 pieces (thawb) of cloth of [various] kinds (asnāf); 4 pieces of cloth called qabātī for the king and three for his delegates; 8 pieces of the cloth called buqturiyyah; five pieces of the cloth marked (mu'lama; Wiet reads Mu'allama) a mantle (jibba) of nappy silk (mukhmala, velvet, or wool, fabric) for the king (malik), 10 pieces of the cloth (qums) called Abū Buqtor, 10 pieces of Ahāsī (ahhāsī, ajāsī) which made is a thick fabric. Abū Khalīfa said: - Neither the book of 'Abdalla b. Wahb, nor the book of al-Wāqidī contains these details, but I had them from Abū Zakaria who told me: - I heard my father Osman b. Saleh telling this story, and I [p. 643] remember well what I heard. He said: One day I was called to the council [in the presence] of the emir ‘Abdalla b. Tāher, while he was [governor] of Egypt [625-327 A.D.]: the emir said to me: ‘Are you Osman b. Saleh whom we have summoned to give information about the document of the baqṭ of the Nūba?’ I said: 'Yes.' Then Maḥfūẓ b. Suleiman drew near and said: - 'What a strange country this is! We sent for the learned people (ʿulamāʾ) to ask about something they know, and also [we sent] for this shaykh, and none of them helps us [with the much needed information] !’ I said: 'God save the Commander of the Faithful! The information you want about the Nūba, I have, as they were orally transmitted by the elders [shaykhs] who heard it from the shaykhs who were present there when the truce (ḥudna) and the peace agreement (ṣulḥ) were drawn up.' Then I spoke to them about the Nūba according to what I had heard. [The emir] did not approve the supply of wine. I told him: 'Also 'Abdel 'Azīz b. Marwān disapproved of it.' This council was held in Fusṭāṭ in the year 212 H. [= 826 A.D.], after the peace treaty was signed between him and 'Ubaydalla b. as-Sarī b. al-Ḥakam at-Tamīmī, the emir [who was] his predecessor. Osman b. Ṣaliḥ said: - The emir, sent [someone] to the Chancery (dīwān) which was outside the great mosque (al-masjad al-jāmi'ʿ) of Miṣr and searched for the document concerning the Nūba and found that it was exactly as I told him: he was therefore very pleased."

Mālik b. Uns said that the peace treaty applied to the [whole] land of Nubia as far as the frontier of ‘Alwa and it was therefore forbidden to buy slaves there; but his contemporaries, such as 'Abdalla b. 'Abd al-Ḥakam and 'Abdalla b. Wahb and al-Layth b. Sa'd, Yazīd b. Abī Habb and other jurists of Egypt held a different opinion. [p. 644] Al-Layth b. Sa'd said: - We know the land of Nubia better than Mālik b. Uns. Under the peace treaty we have undertaken not to carry out raids into their territory, but not to prevent enemies from attacking them. Whomsoever their king reduces to slavery, or the slaves which they make when they raid each other, can be legally bought; but those whom the Muslims reduce to slavery through abduction (bughāh) or by stealing (surrāq), are illegal business; some Muslims used to have Nubian slave girls as concubines.

[Qurqī's Journey to Baghdad]

The Nūba continued paying the baqṭ every year and used to receive in return what we have mentioned above, until the time of the Commander of the Faithful al-Mu'taṣīm billah Abū Ishāq b. ar-Rashīd. At that time, the chief (kabīr) of the Nūba was a certain Zakariā b. Yuḥannis. Perhaps the Nūba had failed to pay the baqṭ and the wālīs of the Muslims had roused the neighbouring peoples against them and prevented the delivery of the provisions to the Nubians. Qurqī, son of their chief (kabīr) Zakariā, disapproved that his father professed obedience to a foreigner and [showed him] that it was impossible to pay [the whole amount of baqṭ which was 14 years in arrears]. His father said: - "What would you like to do?" "To revolt against them" - said he, "and to fight them". His father said: - "This (baqṭ) is something which our ancestors thought convenient to pay and I am afraid that you, too, may soon share the same opinion and will find it preferable to fighting the Muslims. I shall send you, as an envoy, to their kings; you will observe our situation and theirs: if you still remain of the opinion that we have enough power, we shall fight them knowing what we are doing; otherwise, you will ask the king to be generous towards us." So he sent [p. 645] Qurqī to Baghdad. The countries along his route decorated themselves, while he passed through the towns. The chief of the Beja, [who was travelling] for his own purposes, joined him on the [outward] journey to Baghdad;<ref>Maqrīzī, alone among the Arab historians, said that the Beja king journeyed to Baghdad together with the Nubian prince Qurqī in 835 A.D. Other Arab historians (Ṭabari, Ibn Hawqal, Miskawaih, q.v.) mentioned the journey of the Beja king to Baghdad in captivity, in the year 241 H./ 855 A.D.; Ibn Hawqal added that, on this occasion (855 A.D.), the Nubian king, too – (viz. Qurqī) went as a prisoner to Baghdad. I can hardly think Maqrīzī has made a mistake by confusing here two different events, i.e. Qurqī’s journey in 835 A.D. and the Beja king’s captivity in 855 A.D A plausible explanation may be that both the Nubian and the Beja king made the journey in 835 A.D. to settle the frontier troubles they had had with Egypt during 14 years. Possibly, more troubles may have arisen under al-Mutawakkil, followed by al-Qummī’s expedition. We learn from Taghribirdī (q.v.) that the Beja and the “Nūba” and other tribes of the inner regions (Ḥubūsh) were ready to ally against any invader coming from the Moslem countries.</ref> both of them met al-Mu'taṣīm and were impressed by what they saw in Iraq: numerous armies, large towns, beyond what they had seen on the way. Al-Mu'taṣīm invited Qurqī to sit near him, treated him very generously received his presents and gave him some which were much more valuable presents [than his]. He said to Qurqī: - 'Ask whatever you like.’ He asked for the release or the prisoners (al-muḥabbasīn)<ref>“al-muḥabbasīn”. We know nothing about such Nubian detainees of the circumstances of their detection at Baghdad.</ref> and this demand was granted. Al-Mu'taṣīm held him in great esteem and made him a present of the house where he stayed while in Iraq. He also gave orders that a house be purchased for their delegates at every stopping place along their route, because he [Qurqī] refused to enter [as a guest] anybody's palace. In Egypt, the Caliph assigned him a house (dār) in Gīza, and another in [the quarter of] Banī Wā'il, and another in the dīwān of Miṣr. He [also] assigned to him 700 dinars, to be drawn from the dīwān of Miṣr, and a horse with saddle and bridle, a decorated sword, a robe gold embroidered (muthaqqal)<ref>Although the word is not found in Arabic dictionaries, it sure indicates some richly embroidered fabric.</ref>, a turban [p. 646] (ʿamāmah) of silk (khazz), a woollen Shirt (qamiṣ sharb) and a mantle (ridā’ sharb) and a number of robes (thiyāb). To his delegates he offered a number of robes to be delivered on the arrival of the baqṭ at Miṣr. In addition, he offered them two camels<ref>Wiet read = “humlān” or hamalāh (two lambs). Quatremère (op.cit., p. 51) read “jamalān” (two camels) which seems more likely.</ref>. The officer in charge of receiving the baqṭ was invested with robes of honour. They had to pay a specific fee to the officer in charge of receiving the baqṭ and to his employees; whatever and above this the Nubians offered to the employees was to be considered a free gift, for which the employees should reciprocally offer a gift of the same value. Al-Mu'taṣīm examined the sum which the Muslims paid [to the Nubians]. He found that it was higher than the baqṭ and he disapproved of the supply of wine, grain and of the clothing material which was mentioned before. He decided that the baqṭ should be paid [once] every three years and confirmed this with a written document which remained in the hands of the Nūba.

The Nubian (an-Nūbī) complained about some citizens of Aswān who had bought lands (amlāk) from his [the king's] slaves. Al-Mu’taṣīm ordered that an investigation be made and summoned the Wālī of the country and the judge (mukhtār li-l-ḥukm) appointed for these affairs and also the Nubian subjects: [the wālī and the judge] asked them about the complaint raised by their Lord about what they had sold. They denied and said: - "We are subjects (ra’īyya)" and the complaint failed. He [Qurqī] asked also other things, for example, that the garrison posted at al-Qaṣr be transferred [to some other place] near the frontier between them and the Muslims, declaring [p. 647] that the garrison [at al-Qaṣr] was on Nubian soil; but Mu’taṣīm did not answer about this.

The Nubian Historian said that the institution of the baqṭ remained in force until the coming of the Fatimid dynasty in Egypt and that it was executed under the terms [decided by Mu'taṣīm] which also stated what was to be given the Nubians in return.

[Statements by Other Historians on the Baqṭ]

Abu-l-Ḥasan Mas’ūdī said: - The baqṭ means the prisoners (sabī) who are delivered every year and brought to Miṣr as a tribute (ḍarība) imposed on them. Their number is 365 men for the Treasury, according to the terms of the truce stipulated between the Nūba and the Muslims; over and above that figure, forty men are given to the emir of Miṣr, and 20 to his representative (khalīfah)<ref>Sic, in Maqrīzī; but Mas’ūdī has nā’ibi-hi (his representative).</ref>, resident in Aswān who is the officer in charge of receiving the baqṭ, five to the judge (al-ḥākim) resident at Aswān, who, with the amīr of Aswān, witnesses the delivery of the baqṭ, and twelve, i.e. one each to the twelve judiciary witnesses chosen among the citizens of Aswān who, with the judge, witness the delivery of the baqṭ, according to the custom (rasm) established since the beginning of Islam, when the truce was signed for the first time between the Muslims and the Nūba.

Al-Balāhurī said in his book "The Conquest (of the countries)" - The tribute (al-muqarrar) imposed on the Nūba is 400 men and they receive, in return, foodstuffs, i.e. cereals (ghilla). The Commander of the Faithful al-Mahdī Muḥammad b. 'Alī Ja'far al-Manṣūr [774-785 A.D.] fixed the amount at 360 men and one giraffe.

[p. 648] [The Fall of Nubia under the Mameluke Power]

In the year 671 H. [= 1272 A.D.] David, King of the Nūba became so wicked that he raided as far as near the town of Aswān. He destroyed several saqīyas by fire, after he had brought devastation at 'Aydhāb. The Wālī of Qos marched against him, but could not seize him. The wālī captured the Lord of the Mountains (Ṣāḥib al-Jabāl) with some Nubians and brought them to the Sultan al-Malik aẓ-Ẓāhir Baybars al-Bunduqdāri in the fortress of the Mountain, where they were sawn in two parts between planks.

Shekanda (Sh.K.N.D.H.),<ref>We currently adopt Monneret’s reading “Shekanda”.</ref> son of the sister of the King of the Nūba came [to Cairo] complaining against his [maternal] uncle (khāl). The Sultan sent with him the emir Shamsaddīn Aqsonqor al-Fāriqānī the ustādār,<ref>Ustādār = “majordomo” in the Sultanian court.</ref> and the emir 'Izzadīn Aibek al-Afram, [who was] the emir jāndār,<ref>Emir jāndār = title of the Court official in charge of introducing the emir to the dīwān and the incoming mail to the Sultan. (Qalqashandī, IV, p. 20, q.v.).</ref> with a numerous regular army (ʿaskar) and soldiers of the wilayāt, and nomad Arabs (ʿurbān) of Upper Egypt and a number of pike men (zarrāqūn) and archers (rumāh), grenadiers (harārīq). They marched from Cairo (al-Qāhira) on the first day of Sha'bān and did not halt until they arrived in Nubia. [The Nubians], mounted on camels, armed with spears, and wore black dakādik [thick tunic] came out to resist them. The two sides fought a furious battle in which the Nūba were defeated; al-Afram stormed the fortress of ad-Derr, killed [some] and others he took prisoners. Al-Fāriqānī advanced into Nubia by [p. 649] land and by river, killing and taking prisoners. He seized a very large number of cattle, established himself on the island of Mikā’īl at the head of the cataracts (al-janādil) and forced the boats to pass through the cataracts while the Nubian fled to the islands. He wrote a safe-conduct (amān) for Qamar al-Dawla, the representative (nā’ib) of David (Dāwūd), King (mutamallik) of Nubia, and he [Qamar] professed loyalty to Shekanda and called back the men (rijāl) of al-Marīs and the [others] who had fled.

Al-Afram, had waded across [a branch of] the Nile, to a castle (burj) in the middle of the water, laid the siege on it until he took it and killed 200 people there and took prisoner David's brother, while David succeeded in escaping. The army pursued him for three days, killing or taking prisoner [any one on their way. At last the population made their submission. David's mother and sister were captured, but not David. Shekanda was proclaimed King in place of David; he undertook to pay a tax (qaṭī'ah), every year of three elephants, three giraffes, five she-leopards (fuhūd), one hundred tawny dromedaries and four hundred oxen without blemish and also accepted the condition that the country of the Nūba should be divided into two halves, one half was appropriated to the Sultan and the other for the development (ʿimārah) and upkeep of the country, with the exception of the district of the Mountain (bilād al-Jibāl) which was to become the Sultan's own property because of its vicinity to the district (bilād) of Aswān, and this was about one quarter of the [whole] country of the Nūba. The dates and cotton produced in this district, as well as the other customary dues, where also to be given [to the Sultan]. The population was obliged to pay the jizyah, so long as they remained Christians; every adult had to pay every year, one dinār per head. The formula [p. 650] of an oath was written for this purpose to be sworn by King Shekanda, and another formula for the oath of the people. The two emirs pulled down [some] churches (kanā’is) of Nubia and took away what was inside; they took about 20 Nubian princes (umarā’ an-nūba) [as hostages] and freed the Muslin citizens of Aswān and 'Aydhāb who were still held prisoners at the hands of the Nūba.

Shekanda was crowned with the crown of the kingdom (tāj al-mulk) and sat on the throne (sarīr al-mamlakah), after having taken the oath and promised to bring to the Sultan all the private property, goods and cattle, which belonged to David and to all those who had been killed or taken prisoners, in addition to the old baqṭ which was 400 slaves (raqīq) every year, a giraffe. Of the slaves, 360 were destined to the Khalīfah and 40 to his representative (nā’ib) in Egypt. On the arrival of the complete baqṭ, the Nubians were to receive 1,000 ardeb of wheat for their king and 300 ardeb for his delegates. (W. II, 3, ch. XXXVI, pp. 289 - 299; B., pp. 580 - 567).

Chapter XXXVII: The Desert of 'Aydhāb

For more than 200 years the 'Aydhāb desert route was the only one used by the pilgrims from Egypt and the Maghrib. They used to go by boat on the Nile from the town of Fusṭāṭ (madīna Miṣr al-Fusṭāṭ) as far as Qos; then they mounted camels and crossed the desert until they reached ‘Aydhāb; from there they embarked in boats (jilāb) sailing for Jedda (Judda), the port of Mecca. In the same way merchants from India, Yemen and Ḥabasha used to reach 'Aydhāb by sea, then cross this desert to Qos finally to arrive at the town of Miṣr.

This desert was crossed continually by people going to and fro, with caravans of merchants and pilgrims. One [p. 651] could fine loads of spices (bahār) such as cinnamon (qirfa), pepper (filfil) and the lake, lying on the way; and travellers, going in either direction did not touch anything until the owners came to take them.

So this desert was the usual route for the pilgrims on their way to and from Mecca, for more than 200 years, from about 450 H. to about 650 H., i.e. from the time of the extreme restriction (ash-shiddat al-'uẓmā) imposed [on pilgrims] in the days of the Caliph al-Mustanṣir billah Abū Tamīm al-Ma’add b. aẓ-Ẓāhir, when the overland pilgrimage was suspended, until the time when the Sultan al-Malik aẓ-Ẓāhir Ruknaddīn Baybars al-Bunduqdārī decided to cover (kasā) the Ka'ba [with a precious veil] and made a special key for it. From that time, i.e. the year 666 H. [= 1267 A.D.] the caravan of the pilgrimage went, overland and the number of pilgrims who went by this [‘Aydhāb] desert route decreased steadily. The goods of the merchants, however, continued being hauled from 'Aydhāb to Qos, until the year 760 H., when the merchants, too, abandoned this route. The distance between Qos and ‘Aydhāb across this desert is seventeen days’ journey without any possibility of finding water for three days, sometimes even four consecutive days.

‘Aydhāb lies on the coast of the sea of Jedda and has no walls. The majority of the houses are made of reeds. It was one of the biggest ports in the world on account of the ships from India and Yemen calling here to unload goods, in addition to the boats transporting the pilgrims.

When ships from India and Yemen ceased calling here, Aden, in the land of Yemen, became the great harbour (al-marsā al-‘aẓīma). Later on, about the year 820 H. [= 1417 A.D.] Jedda became the greatest sea-port in the world (a’zam marāsī ad-dunyā) together with Hormoz, which has a very great port (marsā jalīl).

[652] ‘Aydhāb lies in a desert where no vegetable (nabāt) grows. All foodstuffs are imported, even water. The population received great benefit from the [traffic of] pilgrims and merchants, as they used to levy a specific tax (ḍarība) for every load of flour (ḥiml daqīq) they took to the pilgrims; they also hired their boats (jibāl) to the pilgrims for the journey to and from Jedda: from this they made a good profit.

Every one in 'Aydhāb possessed at least one boat (markab), according to his financial position.

There are some pearl fisheries on these islands near ‘Ayahāb. Divers go at certain time, every year, with small boats (zawārīq). They remain there for some days, then come back with what they had been able to catch. The water in the [pearl] fisheries is not deep.

The life of the inhabitants of 'Aydhāb resembled that of beasts; it is much nearer to that of the wild animal than to man's habits. The pilgrims who hired boats from the inhabitants of ‘Aydhāb faced great dangers while crossing the sea because very often the wind drew them to landing places far away towards the southern deserts. Then the Beja (al-Bujāh) [used to] come down from their mountains, hire their camels and take the pilgrims across waterless deserts. Many [pilgrims] died of thirst there and the Beja would carry off all their belongings. Some others also died of thirst after they had lost their way. Those who succeeded in arriving safe and sound, entered 'Aydhāb like people who had come from their graves: they were so disfigured and their faces were worn [with exhaustion]. The majority of the pilgrims died in these ports. Those who, helped by favourable wind, landed at the port of 'Aydhāb were very few, indeed. The boats for the transport of the pilgrims have no nails: the planks are connected only with qunbār, [p. 653] which is [a rope] made of [fibres of] the cocoa-tree (nārjīl): they mix it with fibres of palm-tree; then they soak it in grease (samn), or castor oil (duhn al-kharwa), or oil of shark (qirsh), a big fish which always devours those who drown. The sails (qilāʾ) of these boats are made of plaited leaves (khūṣ) of dora-palm (muql). The inhabitants of 'Aydhāb treat the pilgrims in an abominable way like devils.

Actually, they heap up men in their boats one on top of the other so as to extract the greatest profit. They do not care at all if one of them falls into sea. They only say: - We care for the planks (alwāḥ), let them care for themselves (arwāḥ).

The population of 'Aydhāb consisted of Beja who had their own king. They had also a wālī on behalf of the Sultan of Egypt. I met the qāḍī of 'Aydhāb at Cairo: he was a Black.

The Beja are a people who practice no [revealed] religion (dīn) nor have they any sensitiveness (ʿaql). Men and women go naked: they only wear a bit of cloth on their genitals, but many do not wear even this.

'Aydhāb has a torrid climate with a burning wind (simūn). (W., pp. 299 - 303).

... The emerald mine is in a waste land near Aswān. An office with inspectors and clerks was established there to pay the wages to the workers, and supplies were sent them [from Aswān] so that they could carry on their work. This mine lies amidst sandy mountains. The miners dig in a shaft, which, if it collapses, buries them all. The output of the mine is shipped to Fusṭāṭ whence it is distributed all over the country. Traders used to travel from Qos to the emerald mine in eight days walking at an ordinary speed. The Beja used to call there to collect [p. 654] their dues, for they were the overlords and guardians of the mine.

This mine is on the side of a mountain, facing the north, in a place called Aqrashanda. The mountain rises alone in the middle of a plain, separate from all the other mountains and it is the highest of all. No settlement is to be found on it or nearby. Rain water is found at half-a-day’s distance or little more; the spring is called "ghadīr a’yun" (Pool of the Sources); water is plentiful if the rains are abundant, it is less if the rains are scanty. Emeralds are mined from a white stone found there, in the middle of a large desert (mafāza). There are three kinds of this white stone: one called ṭalq kāfūrī (Camphor, Amianthus), the second ṭalq fiḍḍī (silver amianthus), the third ḥajar jarawī (pomegranate stone). These stones are pounded until the emerald comes out, for it is deeply embedded in the stone. There are several kinds [of emerald]: one is called riyānī (? or riyālī, doubtful reading), which is extremely rare and is found very seldom. When it is extracted it is soaked in hot oil, then wrapped in cotton wool and the cotton is rolled up and tied with strips of cloth or untanned skin or the like.

There was a very strict control in this mine, so that the workers when leaving the mine were carefully searched even in their intimate parts. Nevertheless, they used to steal some of it for their own private crafts.

The extraction of emerald from this mine continued until it was stopped by the vizier, one Lord 'Alam ad-dīn 'Abdalla b. Zanbūr in the time of al-Malik an-Nāṣir Ḥasan b. Muḥammad b. Qalāwūn, about the year 760 H. (1358/59 A.D.). (W. ibid.)

[p. 655] Chapter XXXVIII: The Town of Luxor

... It is one of the main towns and its population is (called) Marīsi. It is from this town that the "marīsi" donkeys are imported. (W. II, p. 303; B., p. 588).

[The Town of Qifṭ]

In the year 572 H. [= 1176-77 A.D.], there was a great revolt in the town of Qifṭ. The cause of it was that a dā'ī [propagandist for the Fatimids] from the clan of Banī 'Abd al-Qawī, claimed to be Dāwūd b. al- ‘Āḍid<ref>The son of the last Fatimid king of Egypt.</ref> and rallied a multitude of people around him. The Sultan Saladin Yūsuf b. Ayyūb sent an army under the command of his brother al-Malik al-'Ādel Abū Bakr b. Ayyūb, and killed about 3,000 of the population of Qifṭ: they were hanged on the trees outside the town, [strangled] by their turbans and their robes. (W., p. II, t. 3, p. 111; B., p. 689).

... It is said that al-Wahāt was the son (wuld) of Hawīlā, son of Kūsh, son of Cana'an, son of Ḥam, son of Noah. His brother were Sabā (B., Seban), son of Kūsh [who was] the father of the Ḥabash; Shafnā (B., Shanba) son of Kūsh, [who became] the father of the Zaghāwa and brother of Shanqā (B. Abū Shefaliā), son of Kūsh, [who became] the father of the Damādim ("le père des Abyssins Ramram").<ref>Thus is established, according to some tradition recorded by the Arab historians, the race relation between the inhabitants of the Oases, the Ḥabash, the Zaghāwa and the Damādim.</ref> (W. ibid., ch. LXXI, p. 113; B., p. 691).

[The Alum Export]

Mas'ūdī says: - The Oases form a region lying between the lands of Miṣr, Alexandria, Upper Egypt, the [p. 656] Maghrib and the land of that branch of Nūba which is called al-Aḥābish and others. In this region there are alum (arḍ shibbīyya), vitriol (zājjīyya), sour springs (ʿuyūn hāmida) and other springs of a similar taste.

At present, i.e. the year 332 H. [= 943 A.D.], the Lord of the Oases is Abdel Malik b. Merwān, a man of the Lawāta tribe, but he follows the Merwānī rite (madhhab). He possesses thousands of horsemen and camelmen. The distance between his country and the Aḥābish is a distance of about six days' journey, the same distance as between him and the other countries mentioned above. (W. II, ch. LXXIII, §3, p. 120; B., p. 699).

In the Oases there is white alum, in a valley parallel to the town of Edfu. In the time of al-Kamel Moḥammed b. al-'Adel Abū Bakr (1218-1238 A.D.) and of his son Najmeddīn b. Ayyūb [1240 A.D.], the Oases exported yearly one thousand qintār of white alum to Cairo.<ref>Alum (shibb) was in great demand for textile industries in the Middle Ages. “Numbers of them (Arab Bedouins) also travel from Wādī Halfa, on the Nile, three days’ journey into the Western Desert and collect there the “shābb” or nitre, which they exchange with the same merchants for dhurra, giving two measures of the former for three equal measures of the latter… Vessels from Assouan often moor here (Wādī Halfa) to load dates and the nitre which the Arab collect at three days’ journey from hence into the Western Desert.” (Burckhardt, Travels, pp. 28-29, 38).</ref> In return, the natives of the Oases were exempted from any tribute. Later on, this custom was discontinued and later it ceased completely.

In the year 339 H. [= 950-51 A.D.], the king of Nubia marched with a numerous army on the Oases: he made a sudden attack on the inhabitants without any warning, killed some and took others prisoner. (W. II, §5-6, p. 121; B., p. 699).

Chapter LXXX: The Town of the Hawk

The Town of the Hawk (Madīnat al-'Uqāb) was situated west of the Abuṣīr (Gīza) Pyramids, at five days' distance...

[p. 657] The distance between this town [the Town of the Hawk] and Memphis is three days' journey. (’Awn)<ref>A prince established by Pharaoh Al-Walīd to govern during his absence.</ref> used to go and stay there and then return to Memphis. There were four celebrations [in honour of the Hawk-god] held during the year, and these were held when the [statue of the] Hawk was changed [to a new direction]. After he accomplished all this, 'Awn grew bold. One day he received a letter from Nubia [sent] by Walīd, who ordered him to despatch food and to set up markets. [‘Awn] then sent him [Walīd] by land all that he asked for ... (W., II, §4, ch. LXXX, pp. 142 - 143 passim; B., pp. 716 - 717).

Chapter LXXXII: The Fayyum (The Nahrāwūsh Legend)

Ibn Waṣīf Shāh said: - Then ar-Riyan (Rayyān), the son of al-Walīd, became a king: he was the Pharaoh of Joseph; the Copts called him Nahrāwūsh... This king led an expedition against the nations of the Blacks (Sūdān) (viz.) the kingdom of the Damdam (Ramram), the man-eaters. These went out naked against him; he defeated them and subjected them; then he proceeded to the Dark Sea (al-baḥr al-muẓlim); but a fog covered them so that he returned towards the north until he reached a statue of red marble, which made a sign to them with its hand [as if] saying: ‘Go back!’ This inscription was carved on its breast: 'Behind me there is nothing'.

Nahrāwūsh ordered his companions to carry away some of the biggest of gold lumps (hijārat), which they did. [p. 658] The wise man [who ruled that country], noticing that some members of the king's followers prayed before a statue which they were carrying with them, asked the king not to stay any longer in his land and warned him against the worship of idols.

So [Nahrāwūsh] greeted him and marched away. He left some trace [of his march] on every people whose land he passed through until he arrived at Nūba country: he made peace with them on condition that they should pay tribute: In Dongola he erected a statue on which he engraved his name and [an account of] his journey, then he proceeded to Menf. (W., II, §4, pp. 143-147 passim; L., pp. 713 - 721).

[Nubians in Egypt Under Al-Mustanṣir the Fatimid]

After that [the great famine, 1054 - 1062 A.D.], a great rebellion began, which led the whole country of Egypt to ruin, and this is how it happened.

Al-Mustanṣir went out with a sumptuous train, as was his habit,<ref>A mock procession apparently held to ridicule the pilgrimage to Mecca. Cf. Al-Muyassar (q.v.).</ref> accompanied by his harem and the multitude of his servants: he drove towards al-Jubb, outside Cairo. A Turk, who was drunken, drew his sword and hit one of the slaves (ʿabīd ash-shirāʾ). A multitude of slaves rushed on the Turk and killed him, The Turks, angry at this murder, went in great numbers to make representations to al-Mustanṣir. "If that took place by your consent" - they said to him - "then we have only to obey and submit; but if it happened without the consent of the Commander of the Faithful, we shall not tolerate it".

[p. 659] Al-Mustanṣir disclaimed any responsibility... The Turks made plans to attack the slaves. Severe fights took place between them near Kom Sharīk, where many slaves were killed and those who survived took to flight. This caused much sorrow to the mother of al-Mustanṣir, she being herself a [former] black slave was the cause of the presence of so many black slaves at Miṣr. She liked to increase the number of people of her own race and bought them from everywhere. Her preference for these slaves was well known, so that many [black slaves] were brought to Miṣr, causing their number to rise, according to some to more than fifty thousand<ref>Al-Mustanṣir was 7 years old when his father died (1036 A.D.). His mother ruled at Regent for some time.</ref>.

At the time of the fight at Kom Sharīk, she secretly reinforced the slaves by sending them arms and money. During the time she ruled the kingdom [as a Regent] the mother of al-Mustanṣir conceived a deep hatred for the Turks and incited her [former] master Abū Sa'īd at-Tatarī (other readings: Abū Sa'd, and at-Tustarī)<ref>The correct reading is at-Tustarī from Tustar (Al-Ahwāz, in Persia).</ref> to exterminate them. The black slaves had become very powerful and they did what they liked; this caused the anger of the Turks. Some Turks seized part of the money and arms which the mother of al-Mustanṣir had sent reinforcements to the slaves after their defeat. The Turks gathered in great numbers and went to al-Mustanṣir and spoke to him harshly. Al-Mustanṣir, swearing that he was completely unaware of the incident, went to ask his mother about it and she denied the fact. The Turks rushed out, swords were unsheathed, and trouble started again. Al-Mustanṣir asked Abū-l-Faraj Ibn al-Maghrabī [p. 660] to negotiate a truce between the two sides and they agreed, though reluctantly. The slaves withdrew to Shubrā Damanhūr.

This was the beginning of the decadence of Egypt. In the year 459 H. [i.e. 1066 A.D.] the scorpions of enmity crawled again among the two sides. The Turks had grown very powerful and arrogant towards al-Mustanṣir; their claim increased and they also asked for higher wages. The situation of the slaves grew worse, their anger became deeper and their distress greater. As the revenues of the Sultan dropped his authority weakened. Al-Mustanṣir's mother sent [her emissaries] to the chiefs of the slaves inciting them to kill the Turks. They gathered in Gīza. The Turks, under the leadership of Nāṣiraddīn Husayn Ibn Ḥamdān, meet out to attack them. Several encounters took place: the last was when the Turks defeated the slaves and compelled them to flee towards Upper Egypt. Ibn Ḥamdān came back to Cairo, his authority having increased considerably; his pride swelled up and he despised the Caliph. News was received [at Cairo] that the slaves had gathered [again] in Upper Egypt, about 15,000 horsemen in number, [Ibn Ḥamdān] rose and sent the officers of the Turks to al-Mustanṣir, [to enquire about this]. He denied that a gathering of slaves had been organised; the meeting [between the Sultan and the Turks] was violent and the officers walked out unsatisfied.

Meantime the mother of al-Mustanṣir ordered those slaves who formed her retinue to fall suddenly on the Turks: they did so and killed many. Ibn Ḥamdān hurriedly went out of Cairo and the Turks joined him. The slaves who were living in Cairo and Miṣr advanced against them, and joined in battle [which lasted] for several days. Ibn Ḥamdān swore that he would not dismount from [p. 661] his horse before the issue was decided, either in his favour or against him. The two factions redoubled their efforts; the Turks eventually defeated the slaves, slew [some of] them, took prisoners and went back to Cairo. Ibn Ḥamdān pursued the others who scattered about the country and exterminated the majority of them. But the slaves still held out in the Ṣa’īd and another large troop was stationed at Alexandria. Ibn Ḥamdān went to Alexandria, besieged them, and after some time they asked for terms: he let them out and appointed a man whom he trusted to govern the town. All the year 549 H. [i.e. 1066 A.D.] was spent in the war against the slaves. By the beginning of the year 460 H. [i.e. 11 November 1067 A.D.] the Turks had brought the prestige of al-Mustanṣir down to nought; they publicly mocked him and challenged his authority. Ibn Ḥamdān marched on the Ṣa'īd to crush the slaves, who had grown violent and had become brigands. He had several encounters with them. At first the Turks were beaten by them, but later they returned to the attack. The slaves made a furious massive attack on them so that they compelled the Turks to withdraw as far back as Gīza. Then the Turks began committing all sorts of insolence [acts] against al-Mustanṣir and accused him of secretly supporting the slaves and reinforcing them. He denied all this under an oath. The Turks reorganised themselves and gathered their troops which had been scattered; they went out again to fight the slaves and did not cease fighting furiously until they finally crushed them. A great number [of slaves] were killed, the remainder took to flight and their power vanished for good. (Wiet, ibid., pp. 276 - 279).

[p. 662] [Ḥāra Bahā' ad-dīn - The Quarter of Bahā' ad-dīn, in Cairo]

... This quarter originally lay outside Bāb al-Futūḥ in the time of Jawhar and was later included in the town wall by the Amīr al-Juyūsh, was also called "The Quarter of the Rayḥāniyya <ref> Cf. Usama Ibn Munqidh (q.v.) and Ibn Muyassar (q.v.).</ref> and the Wazīriyya" after two Corps of the Fatimid army which had their billets there. The two Corps had large houses and many shops. It was also called "Between the Two Quarters" because its buildings extended up to city wall. The Rayḥāniyya and the Wazīriyya always occupied this quarter until the Sultan [Saladin] Yūsuf b. Ayyūb defeated the Blacks (ʿabīd). (Bulaq II, 3, p. 2).

[The Battle of the Black Troops]

The cause of this battle was that the Commissioner of the Caliphate, named Jawhar - who was one of the two eunuchs (ustādhayn) who had taken control over the Palace - plotted against Saladin. When Saladin began oppressing the officials of the Palace (ahl al-qaṣr) and ruled state affairs despotically, thereby weakening the Caliphate, and arrested the most prominent personalities of the dynasty, [Jawhar] plotted to overthrow Saladin and have him removed from the vizirate of the Caliph al-'Āḍid. Several Egyptians and members of the army (jund) joined in the conspiracy. They agreed to send [a letter] to the Franks of the Coast inviting them to advance towards Cairo. They intended if Saladin went out [of Cairo] to oppose them, they would rise in Cairo, then join forces with the Franks and finally drive Saladin out of Egypt.

[p. 663] They sent a man to the Franks with a letter concealed in his sandals; they covered it [the letter] with leather lest the messenger notice it. The messenger went to Bi’r al-Bayḍā', a village near Bilbeis, and there he met some of Saladin’s soldiers. The messenger walked unaware of the reason why he had been told to carry the sandals in his hands. The soldiers noticed that the sandals the messenger was wearing were still new without any trace of walking, while his garments were old and shabby. As they became suspicious, they seized the sandals and tore them open; they found the secret letter. Both the man and the letter were taken to Saladin who examined the handwriting until he discovered that the scribe was one of his Jewish secretaries (kuttāb). He ordered him to be killed, but the Jew escaped [death] by professing himself to be a Moslem and made then and there the profession of the Islamic faith. He confessed the whole story. The news reached the Commissioner of the Caliphate, who realizing his danger, began to fear for his life and stayed indoors. Saladin kept all the matter secret. After some time had elapsed, the eunuch (al-khaṣī) thinking that Saladin had forgotten all about it, left the Palace to go to a villa (manzara) he had built in a garden called "al-kharqaniyya". He went there to amuse himself with some friends. No sooner was Saladin informed of this, than he sent a company [of soldiers] thither; on Wednesday 25 Dhū-l-Qa'da of the year 564 H. [20 August 1168 A.D.]; they attacked and killed him, took off his head and brought it to Saladin, and the news spread all over Cairo.

The Egyptian army was enraged at this [murder] and on the 26th of the month rose as one man: a huge crowd of emirs and common people joined them, numbering over fifty thousand all told. They rushed to the vizier's house, where Saladin was staying on that day, and carried weapons with them. Shams ad-dawla Fakhr ad-dīn Tūrānshāh, the brother of Saladin, [p. 664] met them and shouted to the Turkish troops (al-ghuzz). Saladin gathered his men together; all the other Turks rallied round him ready for battle. The Rayḥāniyya, the Jūyūshiyya and the Farahiyya Corps, together with other Corps of the sūdān troops and many people from the two Palaces, assembled and the battle began between them and Saladin. The fight was fierce, the shouts rose high and the defeat of Saladin was already in prospect. Then Tūrānshāh ordered a massive attack on the sūdān; one of their leaders was killed and their courage dwindled temporarily; as the charge of the Ghuzz increased in intensity, the sūdān troops withdrew to the Golden Gate, then to Bāb az-Zahūma, where some Egyptian emirs fell as well as some who rushed to their assistance.

Al-'Āḍid watched the battle from his balcony. When the Palace officials saw that the sūdān and the Egyptian army were about to break, they began shooting arrows and throwing stones from the roof of the Palace on the Ghuzz. Some of the Ghuzz were so badly wounded that they could not continue the fight and the Ghuzz were about to retreat. Then Saladin ordered the flame-throwers (naffāṭīn) to burn down the balcony (manzara). Shams ad-dawla led the naffāṭīn to the battle; they carried the flask (qarūra) of niphṭ and began pouring fuel on the balcony on which al-‘Āḍid stood. As the life of al-'Āḍid was in immediate danger, the Director of the Caliphate (za’īm al-khilāfa) - who was the other eunuch - threw the door open and shouted: "The Commander of the Faithful greets [p. 665] Shams ad-dawla and says: Down with the slaves, the dogs (al-‘abīd al-kilāb)! Drive them out of the country;" As the sūdān heard that they lost heart and began to flee. The Ghuzz made a fresh charge and the sūdān broke, the populace (qawm) attacked them in the rear until they arrived at the suyūfiyyīn<ref>The shops of the sword-makers.</ref> where they killed a great number of them and took others prisoners There the sūdān were surrounded by the Ghuzz who set fire to them.

In the House of the Armenians (dār al-arman)<ref>“Al-Maktaba” has dār al-arḍ (the House of the Earth), obviously a misreading for dār al-arman.</ref> near the two Palaces many Armenians, all bowmen, had gathered. The Armenians played [in the past] an important role in the [Fatimid] dynasty... When the Ghuzz drew near them, the Armenians unleashed a shower of arrows which stopped the Ghuzz preventing them from catching the sūdān troops (ʿabīd). Therefore, Shams ad-dīn burnt their house (dār) and many of them were killed or burnt.

Then the Ghuzz reached the ʿabīd: every time these took shelter in a place, it was set on fire and they were burnt; [others] withdrew to Bāb Zuwayla but they found it locked and were besieged there. For two days there a massacre went on. The news spread that Saladin had set fire to al-Manṣūra which was the largest residential quarter of the Sūdān. As the roads were blocked, the sūdān realised that no escape was left, and therefore shouted: "Safe conduct!" They were given the safe conduct. All this happened on Saturday 28 Dhū-l-Qa'da [23 August 1168 A.D.]. Bāb az-Zuwayla was opened and they fled towards Gīza; but Shams ad-dawla with his army charged them. In the meantime they [sūdān] collected the weapons and provisions left behind by those who had [p. 666] fallen and they felt strong enough to resume the fight until not one of them survived except the few who escaped by fleeing. After this incident, the power of al-'Āḍid fell to nought. (Bulaq II, 3, pp 2-3).

[The Quarter of Al-Manṣūra]

... The sūdān enjoyed considerable power in Egypt, but Saladin fought them unceasingly until he had destroyed them completely. In fact, in every village and every hamlet of Egypt, the sūdān used to possess an abode where nobody - neither the wālī nor anybody else - dared to enter for fear of them.

The sūdān in Egypt numbered more than fifty thousand. Whenever they rose against a vizier they killed him. They caused much harm, as they laid hands on the property of the local population. When their vexations and assaults became intolerable, God brought them down to their utter destruction, in punishment for their mischiefs.<ref>Maqrīzī went on describing the site of this quarter and the buildings which were built on that place after al-Manṣūra was burnt down by Saladin.</ref> (Bulaq II, 3, p. 29).

[Kāfūr the Ikhshīdī]

He was a black slave, a eunuch of stout built, a pierced lower lip and ugly legs. He was brought to Egypt for sale at the age of 10, not later than the year 310 H. [922 A.D.]. When he arrived in Egypt he wished he would become its emir. His master sold him to Muḥammad b. Hāshim, a businessman who used to go to the villages of the south. In his turn, he sold him to 'Abbās, the secretary (kātib). One day, Kāfūr passed by an astrologer in Fusṭāṭ, who read his destiny in the stars and said to him: 'You will become a man who will rise to [p. 667] a very high position and will make a large fortune.' Kāfūr paid him two dirhams, as he had nothing else to offer. The astrologer threw the dirhams back to him saying! 'I have predicted you a good news and you give me only two dirhams?' Then he added: 'I tell you more: You will become the ruler of this country and the greatest man in it; just remember me, then.'

One day Ibn 'Abbās sent him to take a gift to the emir Abū Bakr Muḥammad b. Tufj ([sic! for Tughj], who, at that time was one of the generals of Tekin, the emir of Egypt. The general kept Kāfūr for himself and sent back the gift. Since then, Kāfūr advanced in the career until he became one of the most highranking officials. (Bulaq II, 3, p. 41).


... Saladin assigned to him Qos, Aswān and 'Aydhāb and made them a fief (iqṭā'āt) to him. The revenue of this fief was, for that year, 266,000 dinars. (Bulaq II, 3, p. 59).

[Fusṭāṭ Miṣr]

... The vizier Shawār b. Mujīr as-Sa'dī realizing that he could not defend the two towns at one time, ordered the inhabitants of Fusṭāṭ to evacuate the town and come together to defend Cairo (al-Qāhira). At that time, this town was a fortress very easy to defend. Therefore the population migrated in mass from Fusṭāṭ to Cairo; by order of Shawār the slaves ( ʿabīd) set fire to Fusṭāṭ: the fire lasted more than fifty days and burnt down most of the houses. (ed. Bulaq I, 2, ch. VIII, p. 59; Casanova, pp. 103 - 104).

He [‘Abdalla b. Sa'd b. Abī Sarḥ] led three campaigns, all of great importance: the Campaign in the year 27 H. [p. 668] [= 649 A.D.] in Ifrīqiya, in which king Girqir [= Gregorios, the Patrician] was killed, the campaign against the Blacks (al-asāwid) in which he advanced as far as Dongola, in the year 31 H. [652 A.D.)]and the campaign [known as] Dhū-as-sawārī (the Battle of the Masts) in the year 34 H. [655 A.D.]. (C., p. 157).

Ibn Ṭūlūn reviewed the men (rijāl) to make sure about those who were fit [for his army] and chose the slaves (ʿabīd) from among the Rūm and the Sūdān.<ref>The Abbasid Caliphs, distrustful of the Arabs, began recruiting their troops and bodyguard from the Turks, the Rūm, the Blacks (Nubians) and other nations. Al-Mu’taṣim (833-847 A.D.) weakened the power of the Arabs in Egypt to the benefit of the Turks and recruited soldiers from non-Arab countries, including Nubia. Ibn Ṭūlūn (868-884 A.D.) had in his army 24,000 Turks and 40,000 Blacks, many of whom were no doubt from Nubia. Khumarawaih, his son, increased the number of Black troops (Sūdān) in his army. Abū Bakr Tughj al-Ikhshīd [935-946 A.D.] had 400,000 troops of many different countries. Kāfūr, his Nubian trusted vizier, when he became the sole master of Egypt, increased the number of Nubians in his army. The Fatimids, in general, distrusted both Arabs and Turks, and relied on Maghrebi and Nubian troops, although they also had Slavs, Greeks and soldiers from other Caucasion regions. The army of al-Mu’izz (d. 975 A.D.) described by some Arab historians as the second biggest army after that of Alexander the Great consisted mostly of non-Arabs. The mother of al-Mustanṣir, herself a Nubian (?), had 5,000 “sūdān” (most probably from Nubia) employed in her service, besides those serving in the army. The army of Ibn Ruzzīk, under the last Fatimids, consisted of 40,000 horsemen and 36,000 footmen, mostly African; Saladin disbanded and suppressed all the Negro troops and relied entirely on the Turks and Kurds. Under the Mamelukes, we find again many Nubians employed in Egypt. (Summarised from Khiṭaṭ, W., 1, 2, ch. XXXIV, par. 15-20, pp. 43-45).</ref>. Al-qaṭā’iʿ were the residential quarters consisting of plots inhabited by the slaves of Ibn Ṭūlūn, his soldiers and his bodyguard. Each quarter (qaṭī’a) was reserved to a Corps of his array. So there was the qaṭī'a of the Blacks (sūdān), the qaṭī’a of the Rūm, the qaṭī'a of the Warders (farrāshīn). Ibn Ṭūlūn built a square (mīdān) with several gates, each gate having its own name... One of the gates was called Bāb Darmūn, after the name of a [p. 669] Black chamberlain (hājib aswad) who used to sit there. He was of a gigantic stature and used to look into the offences (jināyāt) of the black troops only. He [Khumarawaih, the son or the Aḥmed Ibn Ṭūlūn] attached to his own person, [a bodyguard consisting of] men from the Ḥawf [Eastern Delta] and from all village, well-known for their endurance and prowess... On the parade days they marched before him and his retinue, in excellent order, after all the other Corps and detachments had passed. They were followed by the [Corps of the] Sūdān, who were one thousand in number, wearing iron breastplates artistically wrought, with black uniforms and black turbans: they looked like a black sea rolling over the face of the earth... After the Sūdān had marched out, Khumarawaih advanced keeping at some distance from his followers. (Bulaq I, 2, pp. 103, 107; C., pp. 222 - 223).

The population of Miṣr complained to Aḥmad Ibn Ṭūlūn about the disruption [which could be seen] around the great mosque of 'Amrū (al-masjad al-jāmīʿ), every Friday, because of the encampment of his army and of his Sūdān. He then ordered that the great mosque was to be built on the Yashkur hill. The construction began in the year 263 H. [= 877 A.D.] and was finished in the year 266 H. [= 879 A.D.]. (Bulaq II, 4, p. 38).

Muḥammad Ibn Sulaiman (892 A.D.) entered Fusṭāṭ... on Thursday, the 1st of Rabī’. He set the qaṭā’iʿ on fire; his men pillaged Fusṭāṭ, broke the gates of the prisons, ... committed all sorts of atrocities. He [Ibn Sulaiman] ordered a great slaughter of the Sūdān who [p. 670] lived in the qaṭā'iʿ. (Casanova., p. 23b).

Ibn Abū Hishām related...: tribute from all countries was brought to them [the Tulunides] in their own palace. They did not rear danger from revolutions. They recruited troops in great numbers and grouped the Rūm and the Sūdān into separate corps. In their palace there were kings with their slaves and many soldiers of different Corps of all races: Negroes, Turks, Rūm and Kazar. (C. ibid., pp. 246 - 247).

[From the list of the Emirs who ruled over Egypt since the destruction of al-qaṭā'i']

[The 15th emir]: 'Alī Ibn al-Ikhshīd Abū-l-Ḥasan... The Carmathians marched on Syria in the year 353 H. [= 964 A.D.]. The Nile was very low in that year: the countryside of Egypt was pillaged by brigands. The king of Nubia marched on Aswān, reached at Akhmim, killed and pillaged and burnt down [villages]. The trouble in the provinces was very great. There was open disagreement between Kāfūr and 'Alī ibn al-Ikhshīd.

[The 16th emir]: Kāfūr, the Black (al-aswad) a eunuch freed by al-Ikhshīd... was entrusted with the war, the revenue, and all the administration of Egypt, Syria and al-Ḥaramayn [Mecca-Medina]. He did not change his name. During the Friday sermon (khuṭba) his name was mentioned as al-ustādh.<ref>The title of eunuchs was ustādh, under the Fatimite dynasty. (Qalqashandī V, p. 485).</ref> (Casanova, pp. 335 - 347).

... Ibn Lahī'a, according to Abū-l-Aswad, recorded this saying attributed to a slave freed by Shuhrabīl Ibn Ḥasanāt, or to 'Amrū b. al-'Āṣ. One day I heard [my master] saying in my presence: - You, Egypt, fear the day [p. 671] when you will be struck by four bows: the bow of Andalus, the bow of Ḥabasha, the bow of the Turks and the bow of the Rūm. (C. ibid., p. 273).

[The Coming of the Christian Copts of Egypt under the Obedience of the Muslims, the Imposition of the Jizya and their Status of Dhimmi]

When Egypt was conquered by the Muslims, the local population was all Christian, divided, however, into two sections (qismayn) quite different (mutabāyanayn), as regards their races (ajnās) and beliefs (ʿaqā’id). One section consisted of the ruling class (ahl ad-dawla), i.e. all the Greeks or soldiers (jund) of the emperor of Constantinople (ṣāḥib al-qustantīniyya), king of the Rūm; they were followers of the Melkite confession (ra'ī wa-diyāna al-malikliyya). They numbered over three-hundred thousand rūmī.

The other section consisted of the native people of Egypt taken as a whole (ʿamma). They are [now] called Copts (al-qibṭ), but their ancestral origin (ansāb) is very mixed; sometimes it is difficult to distinguish who is a genuine Copt (qibṭī), or an Ethiopian (al-ḥabashī), or a Nubian (an-nūbī) or a Jew (Isra'īlī) or other. The Copts are all Jacobites (ya’āqiba). Some of them are clerks employed in the public administration (kuttāb al-mamlaka), others are wholesale or retail merchants. There are bishops (asāqifa) and priests (qusūs) and the likes; others are peasants (ahl al-filāḥa) or servants (khidma). A deep-rooted enmity divides the Copts from the Melkite ruling class, so that they do not intermarry. [On the contrary] for every murder (qatl) they retaliate with a murder. The Copts go into many tens of thousands, for they are original people both of Upper and Lower Egypt.

[p. 672] When 'Amrū b. al-‘Āṣ entered Egypt at the head of the Moslem armies, the Greeks fought the Moslems in an attempt to protect their sovereignty (mamlaka) over the country, but the Moslems defeated them at the fortress [of Babylon]. The. Copts sued 'Amrū for peace, declaring that they would accept to pay the jizya. 'Amrū granted them their request on the aforesaid condition. He gave them a guarantee as regards their lands and other property.

The Copts cooperated with the Muslims against the Rūm until the latter were eventually defeated and driven out of Egypt by the help of God Almighty. Then 'Amrū wrote to Benjamin, the patriarch of the Jacobites [in exile] a letter of safe conduct in the year 20 H. [641 A.D.]. Benjamin rejoiced at this and paid a visit to ‘Amrū. Benjamin re-occupied his patriarchal seat after he had been away for thirteen years. Then the Jacobites seized all the churches and monasteries (diyārāt), occupied them and drove out all the Melkites. (Bulaq IV, p. 492).

As for the Melkites, Leo [Isauricus] the king of the Rūm, nominated Cosmas (Qusīma) patriarch of Alexandria for the Melkites in the year 107 H. [= 725 A.D.]. Cosmas went [to Egypt] taking a gift from the Greek king to Hishām 'Abd al-Malik and a letter of recommendation requesting [Hishām] to give back to the Melkites their churches. The emir took from the Jacobites the Church of the Annunciation [of Our Lady] (al-bishāra). The Melkites [of Egypt] remained without a patriarch for ninety-seven years, from the time of 'Umar al-Khaṭṭāb - blessings upon him! - to the caliphate of Hishām b. 'Abd al-Malik. During this time the Jacobites occupied all the churches and episcopal seats of Egypt. The Nubians (ahl an-nūba) sent delegates [to Egypt] asking for bishops [p. 673] (asāqifa) and the Jacobites sent them Jacobite bishops; eventually all Nubia became Jacobite since that time. (Bulaq II, 4, p. 393).