Ibn 'Abd al-Hakam

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[pp. 56-59]

ABŪ-L-QĀSIM ‘AR. B. 'AL. B. 'ABD AL-ḤAKAM

(d. 871 A.D.)

Son of the head of the malikitic school of Law in Egypt.

K. al-Futūh

Sezgin 1, 355 f; Et (Ibn Abd al-Ḥakam).

Ed.s Ch. C. Torrey, The History of the Conquest of Egypt. North Africa and Spain known as the "Futūh Miṣr" of Ibn 'Abd al-Ḥakam, Yale Or. Res. Ser. Ill, New Haven 1922.

T.: Torrey A:0


[Ṣa'īd b. 'Ufayr] said: - 'Amrū b. al-'Ās sent Nāfi' ibn 'Abd al-Qays al-Fihrī, who was his half-brother. Their cavalry entered the land of Nūba like the summer expeditions of the Rūm (sawā'if[1] ar-rūm) and they remained at war until 'Amrū was deposed from the governorship of Miṣr, and 'Abdalla b. Sa'd took over and signed a peace-treaty with them. God willing, we shall discuss this in its proper place'. (Torrey, pp. 169 - 170).

'Abdalla b. Sa'd raided the Blacks (asāwid) who are the Nūba, according to what Yahyā b. 'Abdalla Ibn Bukayr told us, in the year 31 [652 A.D.].

'Abd al-Malik b. Maslama said: - Ibn Lahī'a reported the following statement made by Yazīd b. Abī Habīb: - 'Abdalla b. Sa'd b. Abī Sarh was the agent (ʿāmil) of 'Uthmān in Egypt in the year 31 when the Nubians attacked him.

[p. 57] Ibn Lahī'a reported the following statement from Al-Hārith Ibn Yazīd: They [the Muslims] fought a hard fight. On that day many were hit in their eyes, such as Mu'āwiya b. Hudayj and ’Alī Shamir b. Abraha and Haywil b. Nashir. The Nubians were nicknamed "the pupils-smiters". After that 'Abdalla b. Sa'd signed a truce with them, as he was not able to defeat them.

The poet said: "My eye never witnessed a day like Dumqalah’s[2] when the horses were advancing clad in heavy breast-plates."

Ibn Abī Habīb reported that [’Abdalla] made a peace agreement (hudna)[3] with them, on the condition that they would not invade each other’s country, the Nūba would give the Muslims every year a certain number of captives (sabī) and the Muslims would give the Nūba a specified quantity of wheat and of lentils every year.

Ibn Abī Habīb said: There existed no treaty (ʿahd) or written agreement (mīthāq) between them and the people of Egypt, but only a truce of security (hudnat amān).

Ibn Lahī'a said: They [the Nubians] have no objections if slaves are bought from them or from others. Abū Habīb, the father of Yazīd Ibn Habīb, whose nickname was Suwayd, was one of them.

[p. 58] Ṣa'īd Ibn 'Ufayr told us [the following statement he had] from Ibn Lahī'a: - I heard Yazīd b. Abī Habīb sayings 'My father was a captive from Dunqula, a slave of Sharīk b. Ṭufayl, a man from the Banī 'Amīr of Medina. He also said: - 'The [condition] laid down for peace- agreement with the Nūba was, according to the statement of some shaykhs from Miṣr, that they supply 360 slaves every year; [someone] said that the number required was 400 every year, of whom 360 to the Treasury (fayʾ) of the Muslims and forty to the wālī of the country. Some shaykhs claimed that seventeen of them were foster women. Then 'Abdalla b. Sa'd left them. The aforesaid shaykhs said that he [Yazīd] pursued some official papers at the Fusṭāṭ offices (dawāwīn), before they were destroyed, and memorised the following: - 'We made a treaty (ʿahd) with you and signed an agreement (ʿaqd) to the effect that you give us 360 slaves (ra’s) every year and that you [Nubians] enter our countries as travellers, not as settlers, and we also enter your country in the same way; but if you kill a Muslim, the peace-agreement (hudna) is no more valid; likewise, if you give shelter to a slave of the Muslim, the truce is no more valid; you must hand back the fugitives (ubbāq) of the Muslims and any dhimmī who took refuge in your country'. He said that other shaykhs claimed that the Nūba had no [binding] tradition (sunna) with regard to the Muslims, and that they, the first year, sent the baqṭ and gave forty slaves as a present to 'Amrū Ibn al-'Ās. He refused to accept them and handed them back to the chief (ʿazīm) of the Copts, who was called Nastaqūs, who was the superintendent of the baqṭ: he sold them and bought them[4] [other] provisions (jahāz) and [p. 59] they protested [saying] that 'Amrū had sent them the wheat and horses[5] and that they had been deprived by fraud of [part of] the wheat and horses; they discovered that fraud the first time and felt wronged. This is their story.

Then he resumed the story saying: - While he ['Abdalla b. Sa'd] was coming back [to Egypt], the Beja gathered on the bank of the Nile: he inquired about them and was told about their country; he found it was not worthwhile attacking; so he went on and left them.

The Muslims had no agreement (ʿaqd) or peace-treaty (sulh) with them. The first who made a peace-treaty (sulh) with them was 'Ubaydalla Ibn al-Ḥabḥāb. Some shaykhs, who claimed that they have read the text of al-Ḥabḥāb, said that it contained what follows: [They should deliver] 300 young men every year, so that they [Beja] be permitted to go to Upper Egypt (rīf). in transit, for trade purposes, without settling; that they should not kill any Muslim, or any dhimmī.- If they killed any, the agreement would cease; they should not offer shelter to any slaves (ʿabīd) of the Muslims, and should return their [the Muslims'] fugitives (ubbāq) if any of them ever went to their country. I came to know this in the days when [the agreement] was applied: for every sheep which a Bujāwī took, he had to pay four dīnārs, and for every cow, ten [dīnārs]. Their representative (wakīl) was living in the Egyptian countryside (rīf) as a hostage to the Muslims. (pp. 188 – 189).

  1. “Sawā’if” (summer expeditions) is the lesson in all the earliest Arab writers. As-Suyūṭī [+1515] has tawā’if (“gangs”).
  2. Here “Dumqala” [instead of Dunqula] is a rhyme with the end of the next hemistich “muthqala”.
  3. “Hudna” is the “legal instrument of peace” in Islamic Law. Its effect is to suspend hostilities and to provide prerequisite conditions for a peace-agreement between Muslims and non-Muslims, without the latter’s territory becoming dār-al-islām. [Enc. Of Islam]. Preliminary negotiations leading to “hudna” are called “muhādana”, “musālaha”, “muwādi’a”.
  4. Grammatically, the text is obscure, because it is not clear to what nouns [“Nubians”? “Copts”?], the pronouns (“to them”) are referred. It seems logical that the “fraud” discovered by the Nubians lies in the fact that Nastaqūs delivered to them provisions equivalent to the value of 360 slaves, and sold for his own profit the remaining 40 slaves, whom the emir had ordered to return to the Nubians.
  5. The Torrey edition had khayl (“horse”), which seems more likely to be the original word. Later Arab writers [whom Torrey supports in a footnote] read “khall” (“vinegar”). Balādhurī even specified “khall khamr” (“wine vinegar”).