Al-Makin

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[pp. 372-379]

AL-MAKĪN (JIRJIS IBN AL-'AMĪD)

(1205 - 1273 A.D.)

Jirjis Ibn al-‘Amīd Abī-l-Yasīr b. Abī-l-Makārim b. Abī-t-Tayyīb al-Makīn (the "Steady one"), one of the greatest historians of the Coptic Church. Born in Cairo (in 1205 A.D.) he became War Secretary under Baybars in the campaign against the Tartars and was imprisoned for high treason (1261-1271 A.D.). Afterwards he lived in Baghdad.

Graf 2, 348-351; EI (s.v.)

[p. 373] Al-majmū' mubārak (The Book of the Blessed Collection, a Universal Chronicle), Part II: Ta'rīkh al-Muslimīn[1] (The History of the Caliphs 950-1260 A.D.)

Ed. and Latin transl.: Th. Erpen, Historia Saracenica. Leiden 1625.

MS. Paris, Bibl. Nat. MS ar. n. 294 fol. 19v.

T.: Erpen and MS Paris A:0


The children of Ham gave origin to 32 heads [of tribes] who settled in Syria (Shām), and in the land of Cana'an until the land of Miṣr and beyond as far as the extreme Maghrib. Of their number are the Canaanites, the Philistins (al-Filastīniyyīn), the Copts (al-Qubṭ), the Marīs, the other tribes of Sudan, Zanj, Maghāriba and Berber ...

They possess six alphabets, viz. the Coptic, the Nubian, the Ethiopian, the Phrījī, the Qolqī and the Phoenician. (Paris, Bibl. Nat. MS ar. 294, fol. 19v.).

In that year (31 H./652 A.D.), 'Abdalla b. Sa'īd (sic!), the emir of Egypt raided the country of the Nūba. Their king made a peace with him on [the agreement about the consignment of] a large number (jumla ʿazīmah) of captives (sabī). (Erpen, Book 1, Ch. 4, p. 32).

[Patriarch Isaac (696 - 699 A.D.)]

An envoy from India[2] came to him [Patriarch Isaac] to ask him to ordain bishops and priests for the Indians. [p. 374] He refused until the king of Egypt ordered him to do it. But, by that time, the envoy had gone to another [Patriarch], who granted his request: and this event caused many troubles. (Erpen, Book 1, Ch. 12, p. 68).

[King Cyriacus of Nubia]

In the year 120 of the Hegira [737 A.D.] Anba Khael was made Patriarch of Alexandria, at the time of Hishām b. 'Abdal-Malik, on the 7th day of Thot in the year 460 of Diocletian [744 A.D.]. He remained Patriarch twenty-three years. In this time the Caliph was Marwān b. Ja'd[3], under whose caliphate he suffered many adversities, while the governor of Egypt was one 'Abdal-Malik b. Musā, formerly a Jew who passed over to Islam. This [governor] put the Patriarch in jail and exacted money from him. The Patriarch asked and obtained permission to go out to beg money throughout the provinces. He [Patriarch Khael] went out begging in the country with bishops. The population was already suffering from [other] hardships when he [arrived] asking for money. They returned to Miṣr on the 21st day of Tubeh. On that night a disastrous earthquake happened.

When 'Abdal-Malik b. Musā, the wālī representing the Caliph Marwān al-Ja'dī, believed that what had happened was (a sign of the divine wrath) for the forcible exactions, he feared greatly and accepted whatever amount of money they had collected and dismissed them.

In the year 461 of Diocletian [745 A.D.], King Cyriacus of Nubia, on learning of the treatment which the agent of Marwān had inflicted upon the Patriarch and [p. 375] Christians, went to Egypt with an army of one hundred thousand black horsemen. When he was not far from Miṣr, 'Abd al-Malik, the governor, sent for the Patriarch asking him to write a letter to the king of Nubia to turn him away from his invasion. He actually wrote to him, telling him that the Christians were doing well. Therefore, he went back without joining battle and they rejoiced at this. (Erpen, Book 1, Ch. 18, pp. 82 - 83).

[Nubia under Jacobite Jurisdiction]

Sa'īd ibn Baṭrīq says in his "History" that in the time of Hishām [723 - 742 A.D.], while the king of the Rūm was Leo [Isauricus], in the third year of his [Hishām’s] Caliphate, Cosma was elected Patriarch of Alexandria for the Orthodox [Melkite] community and that this community, at Alexandria, used to pray in the Church of Saint Sabba, because the Jacobites had taken over all the [other] churches ...

He also says that the Orthodox [Melkite] community of Alexandria remained without a Patriarch for 97 years, from the Caliphate of 'Umar ibn al-Khaṭṭab [634 - 644 A.D.] until [this] Cosma was elected [731 A.D.] in the time of the governor (wālī) Hishām b. 'Abd al-Malik. He also says that Cosma was illiterate and did not know how to read or write and that he [formerly] was a carrier of water. He also says that the Jacobites occupied [all] Egypt and appointed Jacobite bishops in all the sees, and that the Jacobite Patriarch ordained bishops for Nubia and that since that time Nubia turned Jacobite. (Erpen, Book 1, Ch. 18, pp. 83 - 84).

[p. 376] [Patriarch Joseph (830 - 849 A.D.)]

In his time, there was in Ethiopia (al-Ḥabasha), a bishop called Ya’qūb.[4] While the king [of Ethiopia] was out at war, his wife expelled him [the bishop] from the country and replaced him with another bishop.

Then they were striken by drought and plague, so that the kingdom suffered great harm. The bishop had taken refuge in Egypt. When the king [of Ethiopia] came back from war, he blamed his wife and sent to the Patriarch asking him to send back the bishop, which the Patriarch actually did. They received him with great honour and Joy. During his patriarchate, he ordained bishops and sent them to Ifrīqya, Western Pentapolis and Kairawān. (Erpen, Book II, Ch. 9, p. 145).

In the eighth year of the Caliphate of al-Mutamid (869 - 892 A.D.), or according to others, during his seventh year, which is the Hegira year 263 [= 876 A.D.], the father Michael [III; 876 - 901 A.D.] was made patriarch of Alexandria for the Coptic Jacobites, during the governorship of Aḥmad Ibn Ṭūlūn [868 - 883 A.D.]. He held this position for 25 years. Aḥmad ibn Ṭūlūn taxed him 20,000 golden dinars; therefore he sold the Churches of Alexandria, the land [property] of the Ḥabash in Egypt and that church which is near al-Mu’allaqa at Qaṣr ash-Shama of Miṣr; he also imposed on every Christian a tribute of one qirāṭ. (Erpen, Book II, Ch. 16, p. 176).

[p. 377] [Death of Sa'īd Ibn Baṭrīq]

In the year 328 [= 939 A.D.] Sa'īd ibn Baṭrīq, the historian, who was Patriarch of the Orthodox community in Alexandria died. He died on the last Monday of the month of Rajab, after he had been a Patriarch for seven years and six months.

During his patriarchate there happened many troubles which caused a constant hatred between him and his people. This situation grew worse until Muḥammad b. Tughjī,[5] Lord (ṣāḥib) of Egypt, sent an officer (qa'īd) by name Abū-l-Ḥasan with a troop of Tinnis to confiscate all their churches and all the furniture and vessels that were found therein. They were so many, that the gold and silver had to be weighed on the weighbridge. (Erpen, Book III, Ch. 1, pp. 208 - 209).

[A Nubian Raid on Aswān]

In the year 345 [= 956 A.D.], the king of Nubia carried out a raid as far as Aswān and destroyed the town. Some of the inhabitants he killed and some others he seized and took prisoner. But the Egyptian army pursued the Nubians by land and by river, joined battle with them and defeated them; [the Egyptians] took many of them prisoner while the remainder fled, and also captured one of their fortresses called Rīm[6]. (Erpen, Book III, Ch. 4, p. 229).

[The Caliphs Al-'Azīz Billah and Al-Ḥākim]

In this time [i.e. under Patriarch Philotheos[7], (981 - 1003 A.D.)], the Melkites seized from the Jacobites [p. 378] the Church of the Lady, (Kanīsat as-sayyida), which is called by them, up to now, the "Church of the Patriarch". The reason was that 'Azīz Billah, Lord of Egypt, had taken as his wife a Christian (naṣrāniyyah) Melkite (malikiyya), by whom he had a daughter. That woman had two brothers, one by name Jeremias (Irmiyas; Orestes, according to others), whom the Caliph ordered to be made (ṣayyara-hu) Patriarch of Jerusalem; the other by name Arsenius, whom he made (ṣayyara-hu) Patriarch of Cairo (al-Qāhira) and Miṣr. The two, being uncles of the daughter of 'Azīz, were friendly with him, and for this reasons, they were promoted to high positions in his reign. In addition, Arsenius asked for that church, and the king ordered that it be given him. (Erpen, Book III, Ch. 5, p. 247).

He [al-Ḥākim Biamrillah, 996 - 1021 A.D.] oppressed Christians and Jews, pulled down their temples, and vexed them so that many embraced Islam. Later on, changing his mind, he permitted all those who had crossed over to Islam to go back to their religion and allowed them to restore their temples.

It is said that one day, he [al-Ḥākim] asked his Chief-Propagandist (dā'ī): - 'How many [converts to Islam] are registered in your register (jarīdah)?’ He answered: - 'Sixteen thousand already believe that you are Allah!' In fact he did not have a sound mind and was completely mad. (Erpen, Book III, Ch. 6, p. 260).

As for the Christians, the "Histories of Christians" (tawārīkh an-naṣārā) record that, under this Caliph of evil memory, Anbā Zachariā was elected Patriarch in the seventh year of al-Ḥākim [i.e. 1004 A.D.] and that he sat as a Patriarch for twenty-eight years and seven months under persecution. He was, in fact, thrown to the lions [year 1012 A.D.] by order of al-Ḥākim, together with [p. 379] one Sausan the Nubian (Sawsanah an-Nūbī); but the lions, though hungry, did not do any harm to them and therefore after three months they were released. (Erpen, ibid., pp. 263 - 264).

[Patriarch Michael IV (1092 - 1102 A.D.)]

In his time, the level of the Nile decreased exceedingly so that [the Caliph] al-Mustanṣir sent him to Ethiopia with gifts and precious objects. The King of Ethiopia came out to greet him and received him with great respect and asked the reason for his coming and he told him about the extremely low level of the Nile water in Egypt and consequently, the extreme damage threatening the Egyptian people. Then the king ordered that the dam (sadd) should be opened,[8] so that the water could flow to Egypt, as the Patriarch himself had come for that reason. The Nile rose three cubits in one night, so that when it reached full level, the fields of Egypt were watered and sown. The Patriarch came back and was received with great honour. (Erpen, Book III, Ch. 8, pp. 358 - 359).

From "Historia Arabum" of Roderick Ximenez, Ch. 7 (Erpen op.cit.)

This [’Uthmān b. al-’Affān] subjected to the sect of the Sarrasins and to his empire such territories lying above Egypt, as Libya (Libīm). Marmarica, Pentapolis, Gazaman (sic! for Garama) and Ethiopia.

  1. For the relationship to the Chronicon Orientale of Butros ibn ar-Rāhib, PO 1, cf. M. Chaine, Le “Chronicon Orientale”, in: Revue de l’Orient Chrétien, 1931/1932, pp. 390-405.
  2. See: Severus n. 1, also Michael the Syrian, n. 2.
  3. “Marwān b. al-Ja’a” was called “al-Ja’dī” after his vizier al-Ja’d, who was most influential on him. Here Makin makes Marwān “son of Ja’d”.
  4. Severus (q.v.) relates this story with more details and mentions the name of the Bishop John, ordained by Patriarch Ya’qūb. Makīn called him Ya’qūb, probably confusing him with the name of Patriarch Ya’qūb who ordained the bishop (John) for the Ethiopians.
  5. The first of the Ikhshīd dynasty of emirs. (935-946 A.D.).
  6. Ibrīm, Erpen's translation: “quae Rima dicta erat”.
  7. Erpen wrote “Philoponus” probably misreading the diacritic dots.
  8. Erpen: “Ita diverticulum recludi jussit” (He ordered that the “outlets” should be blocked).