Ibn Qalanisi

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[pp. 285-288]

IBN QALĀNISĪ

(1073-1160 A.D.)

Abū Ya'lā Hamza b. al-Qalānisī. A Syrian-Arab historian of the 1st Crusade, later Lord Mayor of Damascus. Dhayl Ta’rīkh Dimishq

Ed.: H.A. Amedroz, History of Damascus, Leiden 1908 (965-1160 A.D.). Engl. transl. : H.A.R. Gibb, The Damascus Chronicle of the Crusades, London 1932.

T.: Amedroz A:0


[After narrating Abū Rakwa's last campaign and defeat in Fayyum he continues: ...] This Abū Rakwa, after he was defeated in battle, went to the Lord of Nubia (ṣaḥīb an-nūba). Requests for his extradition were frequently made [p. 286] by al-Ḥākim through messengers (murāsilāt); eventually [the king of Nubia] sent him and his companions back [to Egypt]. [The king of Nubia] had him accompanied by one of his princes (ṣāḥib), who brought presents to al-Ḥākim. The man who took over Abū Rakwa was the brother of al-Faḍl.[1] He handed the captive to his own brother al-Faḍl, who departed with the prisoner. At first, al-Faḍl, used to kiss the hand of Abū Rakwa and praise him; he often spent time chatting with him lest he might commit suicide before arriving [at Cairo]. He made him a guest in his own pavilion and appointed servants for Abū Rakwa and his companions, and wrote to al-Ḥākim to inform him of the seizure and the impending arrival of his prisoner. Every morning at sunrise, al-Faḍl would pay a courtesy visit to Abū Rakwa in the tent pitched within his camp. He treated him in a friendly way, kissed his hand and asked him: 'How does my Lord (mawlānā) do? He answered: 'I am well; may God reward you, Faḍl ' Al-Faḍl brought him drinks, and he drank first, in his presence, then handed the cup to Abū Rakwa. He did the same at meals until he arrived at Gīza. When he arrived there, al-Ḥākim sent orders [to Faḍl] and his soldiers to cross [the bridge] and stop at the end of the bridge. Then he sent fresh orders [for Abū Rakwa] to proceed to Cairo (al-Qāhira). He obeyed. As soon as Abū Rakwa walked forward a few paces, he was met by a guard of honour and beasts of burden. Abū Rakwa dismounted from his horse, kissed the ground, then went back to his mount and continued riding until he arrived at the Palace (qasr). He entered and stood in the presence of al-Ḥākim, professed his allegiance to him and prayed for him; then he gave a full account of his activities [from the beginning] until the day he was captured by his enemy. Then he left [p. 287] for his quarters. The chief of the army and the elders of the state came in to announce to Abū Rakwa what fate (had been prepared for him) and to see him. It is said that al-Ḥākim left on the next day [after] he had decided that Abū Rakwa should be publicly scorned (yushhar) and taken around (yutāf) (the town of) Fusṭaṭ (Miṣr).

It happened that the general (qā'id) Khotekīn, the chief-spokesman (dā'ī), came to him. [The dā'ī] had formerly been a scribe of king 'Aḍid ad-Dawla. He saluted Abū Rakwa and asked him whether he wished [to tell] something to the amīr al-mu’minīn. Abū Rakwa said: "Who are you?" As the other replied: "I am so-and-so", Abū Rakwa said: "I known you well and also your honesty (sadād); I beg you to take a little paper for me to the amīr al-mu’minīn. The other said: "Well, write it and give me it". Abū Rakwa asked for some scribes from Al-Faḍl’s office and a scroll of paper and wrote: "O amīr al-mu’minīn, verily, the mischiefs are great and bloodshed is a folly unless it be justified by your anger. You have been good[2] and I have been wrong. I have caused harm only to myself. Spare me."[3]

Then Khotekin went to al-Ḥusayn b. Jawhar to inform him about the matter and handed to him the scroll of paper. Al-Ḥākim read it carefully, then ordered that Abū Rakwa be put on a camel, clothed with a long, pointed cap (turtūr) and a monkey be placed behind him to flog him. Al-Ḥākim watched [the scene] sitting on the balcony of the Palace, called "the Golden Gate".

When Abū Rakwa was passing al-Ḥākim, he screamed and sighed at him asking for mercy, but al-Ḥākim gave order [p. 288] to Mas'ūd as-Sayfī to take him to Zahir of Cairo[4] and to behead him there on a mound in front of the mosque of Zaydān. When he arrived there he was found to be dead. However, his head was chopped off and brought to al-Ḥākim to see; he then ordered that the body be crucified. (Amedroz, pp. 64 - 66).

  1. Al-Faḍl was the general who led the last campaign against Abu Rakwa.
  2. The Arabic script can be read "ahsanta" ("you have been good") or "ahsantu", "I have been good".
  3. There follows a poem attributed to Abū Rakwa.
  4. Lit. : "outside Cairo".