4. al-Muqaffa

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AL-MAQRĪZĪ

[pp. 706-722]

4.) From: Kitāb al-Muqaffā (The Great Chronicle of Egypt)


[Al-Omari' s Life]

’Abd ar-Raḥmān, son of 'Abd al-Hamīd, son of 'Abdalla the holy man (nāsik), son of 'Abd al-'Azīz, son of 'Abdalla, son of the caliph Omar, commonly called Abū 'Abd ar-Raḥmān al-Omarī al-Adwī al-Qurashī, was born and brought up in Medina. Thence, he moved to Fusṭaṭ, was a pupil of Muḥammad b. 'Abdalla b. 'Abd al-Ḥakam and became a master in the science of ḥadīth. He then went to Qayrawān to the court of Ibrāhīm b. Aghlab and wrote poems in praise of that prince, who gave him as a reward 1.000 dīnars. He then returned to Egypt, after he had acquired a vast knowledge of jurisprudence, arts, poetry, [p. 707] astronomy, and philosophy. There he heard tales about a mine of native gold (ṭibr). He bought slaves (ʿabīd) to work in the mine and left for Aswān, apparently for the purpose of trading. When he arrived there, he met learned people and discussed with them about various branches of science. Later on, he went to the mine and pitched his camp among a branch of the Muḍar tribe of Arabs. After a while there developed some friction between the Muḍar and the Rabīʿa tribesmen, as the result of the murder of a Muḍar Arab. When the two tribes gathered together [to settle the case] and the murderer accepted the customary punishment of retaliation, the nearest relative of the victim gave up [his claim for] vengeance. Al-Omarī was resentful because he had not been invited to the reconciliation meeting; he therefore left the camp. Some members of the [Muḍār] tribe followed him, and on finding him, they tried to mollify him, but he would not be reconciled. He said to them: "I have very good reasons to be angry with you; in fact, by not inviting me to your meeting, you have expelled me from your camp." They replied: - "We did not know that. Had we known it was your wish to attend our meeting, we would have been more than pleased to invite you. For the future we will do everything in our power to grant your wishes." In order to strengthen their promise, they took a most solemn oath (bay'a). Al-Omarī took the opportunity to have them recognize him as their leader. When he returned to their camp, he ordered them to revise the agreement they had reached [with the Rabīʿa] about the blood-price and to make the best of it by fighting. They obeyed him and attacked the Rabī'a Arabs. After several battles, al-Omarī being forced by the overwhelming number of the enemy, withdrew to a mine region south of the first one. In the new camp, his men had to walk a great distance to fetch water and were tormented by thirst.

[p. 708] One day, while al-Omarī was looking at the birds (ṭayr), he exclaimed: "These birds are of a certain kind and are usually to be found near rivers (shuṭūṭ). I think that the Nile should not be far from here." His conjecture proved correct, because one of his men, whom he sent to look for water, came back the same day and told him that the river was a short distance from there. He described the places where he had been. They were within the territory of the province of Muqurra, while their camp was just outside it. Al-Omarī, bewildered by this discovery, sent some of his Arabs to draw water from the river. The Nubians, displeased with the arrival of the new-comers, seized some of them and kept them prisoners. As the water carriers did not return to the mine, some of al-Omarī's men were assailed by the most terrible pangs of thirst: in fact, a "shanka" of water was sold for two dirhams of solid gold.

Al-Omarī after trying negotiation and persuasion to have his men released from detention went himself to ask for it. He begged the Nubians to say exactly what track his men might be allowed to use in order to fetch water, without deviating from it on either side. The Nubians, far from acceding to his request, massacred the Arabs whom they had previously caught. Al-Omarī, angered by such a gesture, went back to his men and ordered them to be ready to march. All of them who gathered around him swore that they would follow him. He then ordered them to collect all the iron tools used for mining, and to forge them into javelins. Then he suddenly marched on the Nubians. He arrived at a placed called Shanqīr, which is situated south of Dongola, about two months' distance from that town. In that place the Nile makes a bend in easterly direction and passes near the Shanka mine which lies only a few hours' distance. Thence, it turns westwards, then again eastwards. These bends make the journey [p. 709] very long for those who sail on the Nile upstream or downstream. The Nubians, too, in order to make the journey shorter, made their way through the desert, so that in two days time the distance of one month was covered. Al-Omarī fell upon the Nubians, killed a great number and ravaged the country. His men took so many prisoners that, when one of them had a hair-cut, he paid the fee of the barber by giving him a slave. The Nubians withdrew to the west bank of the Nile, taking with them all their movable property. Al-Omarī chose among his men some who were exceptionally skilful and ordered them to cross the Nile during the night, wearing air inflated water-skins (qirab), and to fall upon the Nubians and steal their boats. A member of this party on touching the western bank of the river, said to his fellows: - "My friends, take me out of the water, for a crocodile has snapped my foot off”. In fact, during the crossing he had been bitten by that ferocious animal; but, lest any noise might disturb the operation, he suffered the pain silently until they went ashore, where the enemy was living.

The Arabs suddenly fell on the Nubians, who where on the west bank, cut them to pieces, took their boats which they used to raid the islands in the river. Al-Omarī wrote to the Aswān merchants to invite them to bring supplies, by way of the mine route. In response to his appeal, one of the townsmen of Aswān, by name Osman b. Hanjala, of the Tamīm tribe, left with one thousand beasts of burden (rāḥila) laden with wheat (burr) and other supplies (jihāz). Al-Omarī went out to meet him and was astonished by his arrival.

Both in the mine region and in the town of Aswān Nubian slaves were a countless multitude. The concubines [p. 710] (sarārī) of the Aswān townsmen were almost all from this nation, and were sold at a very low price.

Qīrqī<ref>We reject Quatremère's spelling (Kirki) and prefer Qurqī, assuming that the latter may be the Nubian pronunciation of the Greek Georgi[ou] (Gorgi).</ref> (Quatremère: Kirki), son of Zakaria, son of John, was at that time King of Nubia. To fight al-Omarī he appointed Nyūtī, son of Qoshma (Cosmas), a brave man, and gave him his best troops for the expedition.

The two sides had several skirmishes which would be too long to narrate in detail. Eventually, Nyūtī concluded an agreement with al-Omarī, on condition that the latter would settle in a district of the country, where he would live unmolested by any one.

Then Nyūtī turned against his uncle (khāl) Qīrqī. Qīrqī sent his eldest son (walad) to continue the war against al-Omarī, but the young prince would not stand the attacks of his enemy and was defeated on several encounters. Eventually, he fled to find shelter in the kingdom of 'Alwa,<ref>The new destination may be a matter of speculation. Some Arab writer [e.g. Ibn Ṣa'īd al-Andalusī q.v.], mentioned that Nubian princes left the Nile Valley to settle in the western regions [Kordofan, Darfur ?].</ref> where he begged that king to give him protection for the next four years - because he [al-Omarī] remained in their [Muqurra] country for 7 years before leaving [Nubia] finally.<ref>Al-Omarī's activity in Nubia ended before 255 H./868 A.D. [cf. above a Khiṭaṭ, ch. XXXII, par. 6]. By then Qurqī was about 60 years old. Zakaria as "vicar of his father" [cf. al-Ya'qūbī] acted as Regent and probably had power to decide in matter such as the succession to the throne in favour of his own sister, thus by-passing Qurqī's own sister if any.</ref> The king of 'Alwa saved him.

[p. 711] Qīrqī had another son named Zakaria. This prince advised his father to conclude some agreement with al-Omarī and continue the war against the son of Qoshma until the end. He also asked to be appointed leader of this expedition. Qīrqī made him commander of his army and sent him against the son of Qoshmā, after he had negotiated an agreement with al-Omarī, by which the latter had bound himself to keep strictly neutral during the war. The Nubians of the two opposite factions joined battle on several occasions. The son of Qoshmā was victorious and Zakaria defeated and routed, fled and crossed the Nile on horseback. When he landed on the east bank, he had no more than two slaves accompanying him. By now he feared both enemies, viz. Nyūtī and al-Omarī. Thinking that the latter might be easier to deal with than the former, he went to him, asked to be received, and introduced himself as one of Zakaria's servants. Al-Omarī received him and questioned him about his identity and Zakaria's affairs. The visitor replied that Zakaria had been utterly defeated and his army dispersed. "As for myself", - he added -, "I am one of Zakaria's men and have decided to cross over to you." Al-Omarī welcomed him with honour. Then Zakaria asked to have a secret meeting with al-Omarī without any witness. When the two were alone, he declared that he was one of Zakaria's chief officers and advisor and added that Zakaria had sent him as a special envoy to obtain safe-conduct for the prince, whereby he might come freely to al-Omarī's camp and settle with him.

Al-Omarī, being extremely pleased with the proposal, gave him a safe-conduct in the form he requested. Then the young prince, trusting al-Omarī's oaths, told him that he was Zakarias himself. Al-Omarī, startled by this discovery, was filled with joy and expressed to the prince his admiration at so much prudence found in so young a [p. 712] prince. Zakaria stayed there for some time without taking any action, only intent on gaining the confidence and friendship of al-Omarī and of his men. Meantime, he searched for several hidden treasures which the Nubians had concealed, of which the Moslems knew nothing at all. He found them untouched, showed them to al-Omarī, and handed them over to him. He also gave him other sums of money which were hidden in other places. By this gesture, he gained al-Omarī's absolute confidence and began to influence him. Once he felt assured of the affection and confidence of that leader, he asked him to support him in an attack which he had planned to launch on the son of Qoshma. He said [to al-Omarī] : "[Nyūtī] is your enemy as well as mine. If God makes me victorious over him, all the Nubians unanimously will obey me. Then, at the head of my army, I shall come to you and I shall make submission to you: I shall be the ruler of the Barbarians [of the remotest provinces of the kingdom] : You will stay in peaceful possession of all the land which you have today under your control. Moreover, as soon as I shall have done away with Nyūtī, I shall give you his widow, who is also my sister, to be your wife, because my father is well advanced in age." He uttered these and many other luring promises until the great shaykh agreed and said: - "Even though this expedition in which you engage me, would be only for your personal benefit, I shall do my best to assist you; I wish to acknowledge the trust you put in me, when you came to my camp to seek asylum and sojourn. Moreover, I shall assist you, since your plan agrees with my deepest wish and my own real interest. But, how can I succeed in defeating so brave a general and defeat such a big army?" Zakaria answered: "By a trick I shall seize him by surprise and kill him." Al-Omarī said: "Go ahead with your plans." Zakaria chose four of the best officers [p. 713] (wujūh) who had previously been on a mission to Nyūtī more than once, on behalf of al-Omarī, and were therefore well known to Nyūtī. Al-Omarī offered then, to Zakaria who left with them in a light boat. Before leaving he gained the full support of his men and promised that if they would succeed in killing Ibn Qoshma he would pay each of them an amount of gold equal to each man's weight.

When he arrived a short distance away from his enemy, he ordered the four officers to bind him [Nyūtī] and taught them the words which they were to say. When they landed on an island opposite the camp of Nyūtī, they asked him to come nearer [in order to hear each other better]. As Nyūtī came nearer, they said to him: "The honourable sheikh [aṣ-Ṣāliḥ, i.e. al-Omarī] has ordered us to salute you and to inform you on his behalf: God has put in my hands the one who is both my enemy and yours. I am sending you a delegation in answer to the letter which you have sent me, whereby you asked me to send you Zakaria in exchange for such a sum of money and a number of slaves. Now Zakaria is in the hands of such and such officers, who are well known to you, whom I, too, trust completely. Settle with them the conditions for the exchange. When you have paid the money agreed upon they will hand over the enemy to you. On my side, I ask for such and such things."

[Nyūtī] replied: - 'I accept'. He then informed them in detail what he was ready to offer. Zakaria instructed the officer to refuse the offer. Nyūtī increased his offer until Zakaria instructed them to accept, and the agreement was reached between the two sides. A Maghrebi (rajul maghribī) who had consulted the lots about the destiny of al-Omarī's officers had warned them saying: "If the son of Qoshma walks to you on foot [p. 714] he will escape; if he comes carried by others, you will succeed in killing him." Ibn Qoshma declared that he was eager to see Zakaria before releasing the sum agreed upon, and the officers consented to his wish. Therefore, carried by hands, he came to the boat (qārib) which he was to board, so that the prediction of the [Maghrebi] palm-reader (ṣāḥib al-Kaff) might become true. As Nyūtī was followed by a great multitude of his soldiers, the officers of al-Omarī said to him: - 'We are only four, while you come to us at the head of a numerous army. Perhaps you are planning to arrest us and take us prisoners without paying any ransom!' Nyūtī ordered his men to withdraw and went to the island with a small party of attendants. A carpet had been spread and a throne (Kursī) erected for him. Zakaria ordered his men to take him to Nyūtī and added: - 'I shall amuse him with my words. Then, as soon as he will have dispelled all fear, you will fall on him and strike him.' He agreed with them that the right time to strike would be when he burst into tears.

Zakaria stood before Nyūtī who struck his head with a rod of solid gold (qaḍīb dhahab) he was holding in his hand and said: - 'Praise be to God who delivered you into my hands.' Zakaria answered: Ό my uncle (yā 'amm), as my life is now in your hands, please, spare me. These Moslems, have betrayed me for money, they were hoping to receive as ransom.' Nyūtī went on enumerating all the mischief which he laid to Zakaria. Zakaria apologized, out [his uncle] would not listen to him. Then Zakaria burst into tears. At that sign, his companions fell upon Nyūtī and killed him, then and there. Then they unfastened Zakaria's fetters and he went to the camp of the son of Qoshma and had this announcement proclaimed: 'God forgive you the past! He then sent for the highest [p. 715] officers and persuaded them to join him. He then disclosed to them the treachery which he had planned against al-Omarī and his four companions. After this, he sent for the latter, professed in front of all the soldiers his gratitude to them, and ordered that they should be treated with the highest regard. All the officers who had joined Zakaria offered presents. Then Zakaria went to his sister, widow of Nyūtī, and declared to her, in their presence, that he intended to marry her to al-Omarī. She consented and he gave her, on behalf of that leader [al-Omarī], a part of the dowry and requested the four companions to write to al-Omarī about all that they had witnessed. He himself wrote to him announcing that he was about to come to him, accompanied by his army, and asking him to prepare the quarters for the army. He also sent presents and robes of honour for his [al-Omarī's] chief men. The letter was forwarded by a slave who belonged to one of the four companions of the expedition.

Al-Omarī received the news with great joy and gave orders to make all the preparations Zakaria had asked for. Zakaria, for his part, began by putting to death the four officers who had joined him in the expedition, crossed to the eastern bank and marched on the camp of al-Omarī. When he arrived near it, an Arab said to al-Omarī: - "This infidel (kāfir) is now treading our lands and is approaching with such forces that we cannot stand." Al-Omarī answered: "Fear not! Zakaria has agreed with me that he comes at the head of his array to make complete submission to me." But Zakaria suddenly fell on Omarī's men, killed a great number and forced the remainder to flee with their leader, leaving behind all their goods. The Arabs who had settled on the Nile islands descended the river in boats (marākib) which [p. 716] proved to be a great help to them, enabling them to move from one inland to another, to take in food supplies. Zakaria, determined to cut off even this source of supply, concerted a ruse with a guide well-known for his experience of the passages through the cataracts. Al-Omarī made the guide prisoner, but treated him well and offered him a considerable sum, on condition that he lead the boats (marākib) of his men through the cataract. The guide advised them to tie all the boats, one to another. He then embarked in the first one and led them into a passage whence then was no escape; then he left and swam to safety, while [his companions] all drowned. The treacherous guide went to Zakaria who rewarded him by assigning him some lands and property to him, as well as to his descendants. The army of the Arabs, after this loss, could no longer retain its position.

Al-Omarī, although defeated, had escaped the massacre, and the Nubians were still in great fear of him. Zakaria wrote to him apologizing for what he had done: he said that he was forced to act in the way he did only by his desire to be the only ruler in his own country, and requested Omarī to leave his provinces, promising him that he would not attack him any more. He amused him in this way for about one year, until disagreement arose among Omarī's men precisely between the Syrian-born Arabs belonging to the Sa'd al-’Ashīra tribe and the Qays-'Aylān tribe. The Syrian Arabs, suspecting that al-Omarī preferred the Qays to the others, made a violent protest to him. Zakaria, learning from spies what was going on, wrote to the Syrian Arabs to win them over to his side. He promised to give back to them all their property which he had seized and to add whatever else they wished. They Syrians accepted this offer, and went to Zakaria, who made his promise good. He gave them land and estates within the area of the first cataract, in the province of [p. 717] Marīs, precisely in the villages or Dīdān, Adwa (Adawā) and the neighbouring villages. Al-Omarī, alarmed by this defection, withdrew to a mine three days' distance from the Nile, and his men began to work. Meanwhile, they sent raiding parties to ravage Nubia. Al-Omarī wrote to the Syrian Arabs offering them peace. As they set out: to join him, al-Omarī suddenly attacked them, killed fifteen hundred, took the remainder prisoners and cut their hands and feet and left them to die. Then he camped on the Nile bank, in the province of Maris. Zakaria, angered by his presence there, marched against him at the head of a numerous army. Al-Omarī, forced to retreat before the enemy, retired to Aswān and pitched his camp at a village called Artalmā, one day's distance from the town.

There he was met by a new adversary. Shu'ba [Quatremère: Schaba] b. Ḥarkām al Bābikī, who had been despatched by Ahmed ibn Ṭūlūn to Aswān, with a numerous army to prevent al-Omarī undertaking any [new] enterprise. When Shu’ba left the town to meet al-Omarī, the latter said to his men, who were not more than twelve hundred: — "I do not hasten to attack. This man: is a foreigner (a'jamī). I want to speak to him myself and know first what leader I am confronted with.” He left his ranks and so spoke to the sentinels of Shu’ba thus: - Ί want to speak to the emir before engaging in battle Shu'ba came and the two stood at a speaking distance. Al-Omarī said to him: - 'Surely, the emir Ahmed Ibn Ṭūlūn has not been properly informed about my case: he has been - misled so as to suspect me. I have not come [here] with hostile intentions: in fact, I have never harmed any Moslem or allies. I rose only to fight the enemies of Islam, and, thanks God, I have so far succeeded. Now, do not hasten to the combat. Allow me the time to write to the emir [Ibn Ṭūlūn] and give him a [p. 718] truthful account or all that has happened. You, too, can write to him. If the emir accepts my apologies and orders you to leave me unmolested, you will go back: and your behaviour will be without blame: if he orders you the contrary, you will obey and still remain unblamed.' Shu'ba rejected the proposal and declared that the only solution was the sword. Al-Omarī, after having addressed him some abuses, went back to his men and said: - 'This man is an ignorant fool. I leave you free to attack him.' Nevertheless, he sent him a second letter to propose a truce. Shu'ba laid down the condition that he should come himself to beg for it. Al-Omarī consented, but requested him, before doing anything to go back to Aswān and give him some hostages. Shu’ba refused and began the attack. Al-Omarī defeated the adversary, forced him to a shameful flight and seized all his baggage, so that after a long period of shortage, his men had plenty of food and clothing. Al-Omarī, still fearing an attack from Zakaria, divided his army into two corps, one of which he placed against the Nubian [king], and the Nubian did not intervene any more.

Shu'ba fled without stopping until he reached Fusṭaṭ. There he received reproach from Ahmed Ibn Ṭulun who said to him: 'Your behaviour in this affair showed neither justice nor wisdom. You should have accepted the truce and sent me correct information about this man, so that I could issue to you suitable instructions. But you attacked without reason, and have been defeated.' After this incident, Aḥmed left him [Al-Omarī] unmolested to fade into obscurity.

In the meantime, al-Omarī, reaching a village called Edfu, north of Aswān, crossed to the eastern bank of the Nile. He joined battle, near Aswān, with the officer who replaced Shu'ba in this town. Then he went up to the [p. 719] mine became engaged in a war much harder than the previous one he had had with the Rabī'a Arabs. He went to the mine another time in 255 H. [868 A.D.].

The headmen of the Rabī'a Arabs were, at that time. Ashhab b. Rabī'a, of the Banī Ḥanīfa b. Lujaym b. Sa'b shī'ī family, and Iyās [Manās], son of Rūḥ; Muḥammad b. Ṣarīḥ was the chieftain of the Qays b. Tha'lab and their allies. 'Uthmān b. Sa'dān the chieftain of the Juhayna: the Syrian-born Arabs had as their chieftain a man of the Sa'd-al-'Ashīra tribe, without mentioning many other minor chieftains and sub-chiefs whom I have mentioned before. The [mining] region became at that time so thickly populated that sixty thousand beasts of burden were employed to carry the provisions from the town of Aswān, without counting those which arrived by boats from Qulzum [Suez] to the harbour of 'Aydhāb. Aḥmed Ibn Ṭulun put a ban on the export of cereals, because of his ill-feeling towards al-Omarī. But the latter wrote to him that he had more than one hundred thousand men under his command. Therefore, [Ibn Ṭulun] lifted the ban.

Dissension soon developed among the moslems, and the different tribes took up arms one against the other. The Beja sided with the Rabī'a Arabs and had their alliance strengthened by Intermarriage. Ibrāhīm al-Makhzūmī, al-Omarī's half brother, while on his way to the town of ‘Aydhāb to take-food supplies, was attacked by the Beja, who murdered him as well as his fellow travellers. On receiving this news, al-Omarī was furious; he wrote to the Rabī'a Arabs requesting them to avenge this murder of the Beja, or to remain neutral, if he attacked them. As the Rabī'a rejected either request, al-Omarī urged the Mudar to attack them. But the Muḍar abandoned him; the Banu Hilāl crossed to the western bank of the Nile, the Banu Tamīm remained on the eastern side and parted from [p. 720] those who went to the western side. Al-Omarī was left with only a few men. Despite this, at a time when the Rabī'a were not on their guards, he suddenly attacked them and killed a great number of them. The war went on fiercely, and thousands of men were lost on both sides. Among the battles which they fought against each other - which would be too long to narrate in full - two are famous, and nave been celebrated with poems. The one is called Maizaḥ, after the place where it was fought, the other Kayā. Soon, dissension crept also among the Rabī'a Arabs. Al-Omarī attacked Ashhab, who was a shiite, and killed him. On the other hand, a Muḍar chief by name Muḥammad b. Hārūn, who retained some grudge against al-Omarī, killed him in an ambush. The army of Omarī was scattered, and that was the end of all the trouble. Al-Omarī’s head was taken by two slaves to Ahmed Ibn Ṭūlūn. They declared that they had been in the service of al-Omarī and claimed for themselves the merit of killing him. Aḥmed summoned some people of Upper Egypt to identify al-Omarī's head and they testified it was indeed his. He then said to the two slaves: 'Did your master ill-treat you in any way?' They said: - 'No'. 'Did he commit any act of injustice, in your sight so as to offer you some reason to kill him?' As they admitted he had committed none, he asked them why they did this to their master. They answered they were hoping to please the emir [Ṭūlūn] and receive some reward. 'Such a crime - he said - can only win you the wrath of God and mine.' After he had beaten them with Clubs, he had them beheaded on the spot. Then he gave orders that the head of al-Omarī be washed, embalmed, wrapped in linen and buried.

[p. 721] ['Abdalla b. Sulaym al-Aswānī]

Selim was sent by Jawhar to carry a letter to Qīrqī, king of Nubia, to invite him to embrace Islam and to solicit the payment of the baqṭ. This envoy, in the presence of the two witnesses he had brought with him, exhorted the king to embrace Islam. The king, surprised by such a proposal, summoned the [chief] men and the bishops (asāqifa) of his kingdom as well as 'Abdalla, to have a discussion (munāẓara) with 'Abdalla. The king read a letter which he had written to Jawhar in reply to the one he had received from Jawhar which contained the invitation to embrace Islam, but the king invited Jawhar to embrace Christianity. He replied to the argument put forth by Jawhar, who claimed that [Islam] had abrogated the previous religions. After a long discussion with 'Abdalla, the king [of Nubia] declared himself proud of his perfect allegiance to the Moslem kings, as well as of the constant loyalty of his father and grand-father to the agreements. 'Abdalla replied: - 'Your invitation to the emir [to become a Christian] shows your gratitude, because he actually wished to secure for you the same benefit as the one he has for himself. You ought to thank God for the favour he has bestowed on you by allowing you to enjoy the possession of your kingdom. In fact, Islam, since its rise, has overthrown the most powerful kings, such as the Caesars (akāsira) and your nearest neighbour the king of Egypt.' Then he added: - 'Which of the two kingdoms is more powerful, Egypt or yours?' The king answered: 'Surely, Egypt is more powerful and richer than ours, yet, we are superior to Egypt in population and troops.' 'Abdalla said: - 'If I contend that Egypt has a population more numerous than your kingdom, my argument has no foundation, because, as you may well point out, I have no idea of the number of [p. 722] your subjects, and also beyond your capital there are such and such provinces which I have never seen. Do you know a rank higher than the king's in the world?' The king of Nubia said: - 'No.' 'Abdalla then continued: - 'God, once upon a time, sent to the king of Egypt the prophets Musà and Harūn. When Musà addressed the Pharaoh by saying: - ’You are a king,' the Pharaoh rejected this address and claimed: 'I am God.' Well, so proud a king did God overthrow by the hands of the Moslems. In addition, the Moslems have occupied most of the towns which are the seas of the Patriarchs of the Christians, namely Alexandria, Jerusalem and Antioch, as well as many other towns and regions. Therefore, give thanks to God for the distinguished favour he has bestowed on you, by allowing you to inherit the crown of your ancestors.' Then Qīrqī humbled himself to God and gave him thanks.

Sulaym al-Aswānī is the author of Kitāb Akhbār an-Nūba wa-l-Muqurra wa-'Alwa wa-l-Buja wa-n-Nil. Our author relates that while he was at the court of the king of Nubia, it was the time of the Feast of the Sacrifice (ʿId al-Aḍḥā). He went out of the town of Dongola (Dunqula) together with some sixty Moslems. After they had unfurled two banners (bandayn), on which the name of al-Mu'izz li-dīnillah was inscribed, he ordered the drum (ṭabl) to be beaten and the trumpets (būq) be blown and together with all his companions performed the prayer of the feast. The court pressed the king to forbid all publicity for that ceremony, but the king would not pay heed to their request and answered: - 'This man has left his home and family [to go] on a useful mission. Today is the greatest feast of their own religion: he wants to celebrate it with all possible pomp: you shall not prevent him from enjoying this opportunity. (Mus'ad, pp. 355 - 371).

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