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[pp. 47-48]


(about 790 A.D.)

Arabic historian, 819 qāḍī of Rusafa.

Wrote K. al-Maghazi

EB s.v. Waqidi; EI s.v. Wakidi

Ed.: H.A. Hamaker, Leiden 1725

T.: Mus' ad (Hamaker) A:0

Aristūlīs<ref>According to Hadīth tellers, Armanūsa, daughter of al-Maqauqas, having learnt from spies that the Arabs were about to arrive, wrote to Aristūlīs asking for help. Aristūlīs here described as a king, taking the advice of his officers despatched reinforcements to Fustāt (Miṣr) and sent to Nubia and the Beja for help</ref> wrote the letter and sent it to the king of the Nuba and the king of the Beja (al-Bujā) requesting them to come to bring [military] help and awaited their arrival. (Hamaker, p. 56).

[p. 48] ... [King Aristūlīs] said [to the chiefs of the people]: "Now, go and pitch your tents (and camps) outside the town; engage part of the enemy, keep harassing them to gain time until relief from Nubia and from the king of the Beja arrive!" They said: "Your order is very wise, O king!" Then they left and ordered their grooms (ghilmān) to go out and pitch their tents and camps just beyond Tell en-Nur and Rasd; which they did.

Muhammad b. Ishāq al-Umawī made the following statement: 'The very day they went out, the messengers whom king Aristūlīs had sent to Nubia and to the king of the Beja for help arrived and brought the news that fighting had broken out between the Nubians and the Beja; now as the two sides held different views, neither would send relief to Aristūlīs. The news was received with great grief. The Copts (al-qubt), however, pitched their tents and camped around the camp of the king.' (p. 60).

The same Ibn Ishāq also said: God alone is the Ruler of the Universe! In fact, in the evening Aristūlīs gathered his chamberlains (hujjāb) and chiefs (umarā’) and said: 'I am very worried because the Arabs are advancing against us and the prices are rising in town. Since the Arabs have gained control of the countryside and the farms, they have prevented our people from sending us supplies. Their [the Arabs'] horses are now treading down the fields of Lower and Upper Egypt on the east bank of the Nile; moreover, no one from Nubia or Beja-land has arrived to save us because a fight has broken out between them and they are now enemies to each other. So, it is my opinion that we should force the Arabs to battle, and let Christ make victorious whomsoever he likes.' (Hamaker, pp. 77-78).

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Bibliographic updates and remarks

Bibliographic updates and remarks by R. Seignobos (14 Jan. 2014)

Muḥammad b. ʿUmar al-Waqīdī

d. 822

On the author : EI2 s.v. « Al-Waḳīdī » (S. Leder)

More recent editions : Hamaker’s edition remains « authoritative » but the date given by Vantini for its publication (1725) is erroneous and must be corrected to 1825<ref> Note that some of the page numbers of Hamaker’s edition, as given in Vantini’s work, needs correction as well : p. 56 = p. 57 ; p. 60 = p. 61.</ref>

Further references : GAS I, p. 296 ; GAL, S I, p. 208.

Remarks : The entry devoted to this author is flawed by several inaccuracies and mistakes concerning the authorship and, therefore, the dating of this work. The text translated here does not come, in fact, from al-Waqīdī’s Kitāb al-Maġāzī, as Vantini stated, but from a later work known as Futūḥ Miṣr wa-l-Iskandariyya (The Conquest of Miṣr and Alexandria) which is often, but wrongly, ascribed to al-Waqīdī in the manuscripts. It was not an uncommon practice then, among the writers of late epics belonging to the « pseudo-Futūḥ » genre<ref> F. Rosenthal, A history of Muslim historiography, Leiden 1968, pp. 164-170 ; R. Paret, « The legendary Futūḥ literature », [in:] F.M. Donner (éd.), The expansion of the early islamic state, Aldershot 2008, pp. 163-175.</ref>, to ascribe their work to ancient and prestigious authors like al-Waqīdī who is credited with similar works such as the Futūḥ al-Šām, the Futūḥ Diyār Rabīʿa wa-Diyār Bakr or the Futūḥ al-Baḥnasā. The dating of the Futūḥ Miṣr wa-l-Iskandariyya has not been thoroughly investigated so far but it is obviously late (12th-13th cent. at the earliest, perhaps much later)<ref> EI2, « Al-Muḳawḳis » (K. Öhrnberg).</ref>. K. Öhrnberg has suggested that Ibn Isḥāq al-Umāwī, quoted repeatedly throughout the Futūḥ Miṣr (including in the extracts translated here), was the genuine author of the work but we cannot exclude that he was only the main rāwī (narrator, transmitter) on whom the author relied. Whatever the answers to these questions may be, Vantini and other scholars after him have been misled in assuming that this text contained one of the earliest reference to Nubians in Arabic sources. As for al-Waqīdī’s K. al-Maġāzī, the only surviving work securely ascribed to him, it was edited by M. Jones in 1966 <ref> Al-Waqīdī, Kitāb al-Maġāzī, ed. M. Jones, Oxford 1966, 3 vol.</ref> and it has been recently translated into English <ref>R. Faizer (ed. and transl.) A. Ismail, A.Tayob (trad.), The life of Muḥammad: al-Wāqidī’s Kitāb al-maghāzī, Abingdon-Oxon 2011.</ref>, but it does not contain any mention of Nubia.

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