Ibn Iyas

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[pp. 775-783]


(1449-1542 A.D.)

Abū-l-Barakāt Muḥ. b. Aḥmad Zayn Shihāb ad-dīn Ibn Iyās an-Nāṣirī al-Cerkesī al-Hanbalī. An Egyptian, who wrote a compendious chronicle of Egypt with special attention to the Mameluke period.

Brockelmann 2, 295; EI (s.v.)

Bada'i’ az-zuhur fi waqi'i' ad-duhur ("The Admirable Flowers of the Events of Ages")

Ed.: Bulaq, 3 vols., 1311-12/1893-94. Engl, transl.: W.H. Salmon, An Account of the Ottoman Conquest of Egypt in the Year 922, Royal Asiatic Soc., Or. transl. Fund, N.S. 15, London 1921; French transl.: G. Wiet, 1945-1960.

T.: Bulaq A: 0

... Abū-s-Salt, the Omayyad, the Spaniard, said: - The frontier of Egypt begins at Barqah, passes behind the Seven Oases, reaches the country of the Nūba from Aswān up to the country of the Buja. (Bulaq 1, p. 3).

Ibn Wasīf Shāh said: - When the Caliphate passed to the Abbasids and 'Abdalla as-Saffāḥ took over the power, 'Abdalla ibn 'Alī the Abbasid went to Syria to pursue the remnants of the Omayyads, then he seized the emir 'Abdalla b. Marwān al-Jammār [other reading: al-ḥimar, the Donkey], who was at that time the emir of Egypt. When 'Ubaydaila, the son of Marwān was informed of this, he hastened to go to his store rooms, took out 10,000 golden dīnār and ordered that twelve mules be brought. He had them loaded with money (māl), some cloth (qumāsh) and carpets (firash) and other things; he took with him some slaves and young servants, he tied around his waist a leather-bag full of precious Jewels and fled out of Miṣr into the direction of Nubia. When he arrived [p. 776] there, he found towns which were completely abandoned but well built; he settled in some of those castles, ordered his servants to sweep them; they swept them and then spread carpets, those rich carpets which he had brought with him. Then he ordered some of his trustworthy servants [saying]: - "Go to the king of the Nūba and ask him for a safe conduct in order that I may not be killed." The servant went to the king of the Nūba and remained away for one hour, then returned with a delegate of the king of the Nūba. The delegate entered and said to him: - "The king gives you his "salām" (peace), and asks whether you have come here with the intention of waging war or to seek protection." The emir 'Ubaydallah answered him: - "Give him my salām and assure him that I have come to ask your protection against an enemy who wants to kill me." The delegate reported this and remained absent for one hour, then came back announcing: - "The king himself is coming to you right now." He set a thick carpet (martabah) in the middle of the room, in the direction of [the place reserved to] the king of the Nūba; then a servant said: - "The king of the Nūba is here." The emir ’Ubaydalla rose up and went to the upper part of the castle to see the king of the Nūba [coming]. He was a man of black complexion, tall stature, but thin built; he wore two burd [streaky cloth garment]: with the one he wrapped (i’tazar) himself, with the other he covered (irtadā) his shoulder. With him were ten Blacks (Sūdān) around him holding javelins with shining spears (asinna, teeth). When the emir 'Ubaydalla saw them, he had a poor impression of him [the king] and despised him. When the king came near the place where 'Ubaydalla was standing, about men of the king's army arrived; they were armed with spears. When the king of the Nūba entered, he hastened to hold the hand of the emir 'Ubaydalla and [p. 777] kissed it; but when 'Ubaydalla invited him to sit on the bench covered with the rich carpet prepared for him the king refused and began pushing that rich carpet away with his foot. 'Ubaydalla said to the dragoman (turjumān): - "Why does he not sit on that martabah which we have prepared for him?" The dragoman immediately translated the words into the king's language, then the king said: - "Tell the emir: - Every king who does not humble himself before God is a proud, stubborn and vainglorious man." Then he sat before the emir 'Ubaydalla and began tracing signs on the ground with his finger for a rather long time, then raised his head looking at the emir and said to him: - "How is it that your kingdom was taken out of your hands, while you are the nearest [relatives] to your Prophet?" 'Ubaydalla answered: - "He who took the kingdom out of our hands was a closer relative than us to our Prophet." The Nubian king said: - "How do you take refuge in, and boast of, your Prophet and your relationship with him and then you drink wine (khumūr), which is forbidden to you, and dress silk tunics (dibāj), which has been declared forbidden to you? And why do you ride on saddles of gold and silver, which is also forbidden to you and your Prophet never did any such thing? It has also been reported to us that you, when you became wālī of Egypt, you used to go out hunting and imposed on the population of the villages to supply you with what they could not afford, and used to destroy their cultivation and desired to receive gifts (hadāyā) and offerings (taqādim) from the people of the countryside and all this for sake of a Numidian crane (kurkī, Ardea virgo) which you went on hunting while the price of it is seven or eight times that of a woman?" The king of Nubia went on enumerating faults (dhunūb) and the emir 'Ubaydalla kept silent without uttering a single word. Then the Nubian king said [p. 778] to him: - "Because you have made licit to yourselves what God has forbidden you, you have been deprived of your kingdom: it was taken from your hands and God has poured on you his anger, which has not yet reached its end. I am afraid for myself, that if I offer you hospitality in my country, the anger [of God] which fell upon you may attain us, too; that would be a misfortune to all." Therefore he said: - "Leave ray country within three days, or I shall strip you of all your things and put you to the most shameful death." As the emir 'Ubaydalla heard this, he left the land of Nubia that same day and went back to Egypt. The agents of the Caliph al-Manṣūr the Abbasid arrested him and sent him to Baghdad where the Caliph kept him in prison until he died. He was the last wālī of Egypt under the Omayyad dynasty. As for the agents (ʿummāl), who ruled over Egypt under the Abbasid Caliphs, they were more numerous than those who ruled under the Omayyads and were called "Agents of the Tribute" (ʿummāl al-kharāj) in Egypt. The Caliphs used to honour their agents [by presenting them] with Arabian horses, robes of silk etc. on condition that the agents provide the Caliphs with Egyptian honey from Benha, and mules and asses and other species which are found only in Egypt. (Bulaq I, pp. 29 - 31).

... Ibn Wasīf Shād said: - "The emir Ibn Ṭūlūn, at his death, left ... 7,000 white slaves whom he had bought (al-mamālīk al-mushtarawāt) and 24,000 black slaves (al-'abīd as-sūd). (ibid. I, p. 40).

... Quoting adh-Dhahabī: - "The troops of al-Ḥākim were recruited from the Turks, the Daylam, the Musāmidah, Slavonians (saqālibah), Greek (rūm) and black slaves (ʿabīd sūd) and others. (ibid. I, p. 57).

[p. 779] The Caliph [al-Āmir bi-aḥkām Allah, 1102 - 1130 A.D.] ordered the Patriarch [Zakarias; 1102 - 1131 A.D.] to go to the country of the Ethiopians (al-Ḥabashah) [to enquire] about the cause of the fall of the Nile flood, but the Journey of the Patriarch did not bring any result, (ibid. I, p. 63).

In the days of king al-Manṣūr 'Alī ... the leader (shaykh) of the truthful (tarīqah) shaykh Abūl-Ḥasan ash-Shādhilī died. He was buried in the desert of 'Aydhāb in the Upper Ṣa'īd. (ibid. I, p. 95).

... In this year [674 H./1275 - 1276 A.D.] the Sultan [Baybars I] sent an expeditionary corps to the country of the Nūba. The cause of it was that the king of the Nūba had entered the town of Aswān, pillaged whatever was there and set it on fire. When the news reached the Sultan he sent the emir Shams ad-dīn Aqsonqor al-Fāriqānī the ustadār of the High [lands]? (al-'āliyya) and the emir 'Izz ad-dīn Aybek al-Afram, the Jāndār, and a number of the emirs (umarā' al-‘asharawāt) and the Sultan's own slaves (mamālīk). When they arrived in Nubia, they fought against the king of the Nūba to take Aswān. The king of the Nūba was defeated and fled, a great number of his men were killed, his brother, the sons of his brother and his relatives were captured; the army of the Sultan took a large booty of female and male slaves, horses and other spoils. (ibid. I, p. 109).

... In that year [688 H./1289 A.D.] the news was brought that the king of the Nubians had attacked the town of Aswān, had pillaged its markets and burnt its mills (jurūn, grain supplies). The Sultan sent against him the Emir Aybek al-Afram. When he arrived there, the king of the Nubians had already fled before them, the army and the emir 'Izz ad-dīn Aybek al-Afram pursued him till the end of the country of the Nūba; they took much [p. 780] spoils of Nubian people (ʿabīd) and women (jawārī), horses and other spoils. The army returned to Egypt in triumph. (ibid. I, pp. 118 - 119).

... As for the places of the Sūdān which he [Baybars] had subjected, they are: Nubia (an-Nūbah) with its districts (a'māluha)... (ibid. I, p. 111).

... Then began the year 704 H. [began 4 August 1304 A.D.]. During this year at the Court of the Sultan (al-abwāb as-sharīfiyya) arrived the Lord of Dongola from the districts (a'māl) of the Ṣa'īd. He brought with him presents of slaves (raqīq), camels, Ethiopian oxen (abqār ḥabashiyya; but ḥabashiyyah is here a misreading for khīsiyyah, i.e. milk cows) and other things. The Sultan conferred on him a robe of honour and gave him hospitality in the house of this guests, (ibid. 1, p. 147).

... In the year 712 H. [began 9 May 1312 A.D.]: the king of the Nūba came to the Sultan's Court (al-abwāb ash-sharīfa) bringing with him rich presents, among which were 1,000 slaves (raqīq), 500 camels, and 500 milk cows (baqarāt khīsiyyah). (ibid. I, p. 157).

... The year 716 H. began [26 March 1316 A.D.]. The Sultan [Nāṣir ibn Qalāwūn] sent an army towards the desert of 'Aydhāb in the upper parts of the Ṣa'īd to put an end to the robberies by the Arab nomads. Six emirs took part in this expedition together with one thousand mamlūk. They entered the Beja land and crossed three regions (aqālīm) without meeting any of the nomads they wanted to fight; so they returned to Cairo without any prestige. (ibid., p. 160).

[Year 846 H./began 12 May 1442 A.D.]... In that year it happened that a group of black slaves (ʿabīd sūd) plotted a revolt against their chief; they appointed a [p. 781] Sultan, a vizier and a great emir and a dawadari of their own. Their Sultan began parading on horseback, wearing a yellow ... (dajaq?) and about 500 slaves marched around him. They roamed about plundering cereals and other crops according to his orders. The population suffered great damage from them. When this news reached the Sultan, [in Cairo] he appointed some emirs and a number of the Sultan's own slaves (al-mamālīk) (as-sultāniyyah) who set out and attacked them. The black slaves (ʿabīd) were routed and their Sultan was captured: a number of them were taken prisoner, the others fled.

They returned to Cairo and the Sultan issued an edict inviting all those [in Cairo] who were in possession of an adult slave (ʿabd-kabīr) to bring him to Bāb-al-Silsilah and receive 12 dīnārs as the price for him. All the people obeyed; the Sultan bought a great number of them and sent them to the country of Ibn 'Uthmān [Turkey] and ordered that they be sold there. They were taken to the ship and tied to a wooden log (wa-humfī-l-khashab). Thus the slaves kept their hands off Egypt [lit. their fingers were cut] and the revolt was put down for good. (ibid. II, p. 28).

... In the year 883 H. [began 4 April 1478 A.D.], news was received that the Secretary of state (dawadār) Yashbek had seized Yūnus b. 'Umar, whom he had chased up to Nubia after many adventures which would be long to describe. At last [Yashbek] captured him and beheaded him. He also seized the brother [of Yūnus] Aḥmad by name and a number of his relatives; that was a brilliant victory over the Banī 'Umar. The head of Yūnus was sent to Cairo and shown around and finally hung for a few days at Bāb-Zūwaylah. This Yūnus b. Ismāīl was an outstanding personality among the Banī 'Umar; he was very brave and [p. 782] became the Lord (ṣāḥib) of Hawwārah Bedouins. (ibid. II, p. 172).

... During this year [892 H./began 28 December 1486 A.D.] news was received that Jānim al-Ajrūd al-Ainānī, the prefect (kāshif) of Manfalūt fled to Nubia. The Sultan sent someone to seize him. He had fled fearing for his life. He stayed away a long time until the Sultan gave him a safe-conduct. (ibid. II, p. 244).

... In that year [894 H./began 5 December 1488 A.D.] the Sultan changed his attitude towards the eunuch Khushqadam who was the superintendent (zimām) [of the royal harem] and the vizier. He arrested him in the middle of the courtyard of the court. The Sultan at first wanted to have him flogged, but later was satisfied with exiling him to Sawākin, where he was to die. (ibid. II, p. 256).

The news arrived [Shawwāl 895 H. = August/September 1489 A.D.] that the vizier Khushqadam Aḥmadī had died. This eunuch, who had held high poets of responsibility and had been vizier and superintendent of the royal harem and Great Treasurer, was a brutal tyrant, altogether wicked. (ibid. II, p. 263).

... [Year 923 H./began 24 January 1517 A.D.]

The Sultan Tūmān Bey continued the fight against the army of the Ibn 'Uthmān [= Sultan Selīm], with a small force of slaves as bowmen and some of the Sultan’s slaves (mamālik sultāniyyah) and some emirs. (ibid. III, p. 103).

... The population [of Cairo] was troubled by thirst because the Sultan [Selīm] Ibn 'Uthmān had recruited all the water-carriers with their camels and their water-skins to follow him up to the Ṣa'īd, since the Sultan Tūmān Bey [p. 783] had fled, and [was ready to pursue him] even into the country of the Zanj, if he had escaped him. (ibid. III, p. 110).

... After the present (taqdimah) of the Lord of Yemen had passed [in the parad], next appeared the present of the Emir 'Alī ibn 'Umar, the Lord of Upper Egypt: his present was considerable, including 100 qintar of sugar and slaves, both males and females, horses and camels and other good things convenient to kings. (ibid. III, p. 168).

[Year 924 H./b. 13 January 1518 A.D.]

In the month of Dhū-l-Hijjah the news was received from the Ṣa'īd that the emir 'Alī b. 'Umar went out on a raid against the Lord (ṣāḥib) of Nubia (an-nūba) and that unrest was spreading all over Upper Egypt. (ibid. Ill, p. 184).

Rumour spread that the Khāndār (Selīm) had sent a rich present to the emir 'Alī ibn 'Umar, the shaykh of the Arab Nomads (ʿurbān) of Upper Egypt. He sent him a qaftān of crocodile, acting according to his habit. He ordered that the present and the qaftān be brought to Upper Egypt by his delegate. Since then the prestige of ‘Alī ibn 'Umar doubled, (ibid. III, pp. 187 - 188).