Tabaqat Dayfallah

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[pp. 784-785]

ṬABAQĀT ḌAYFALLAH

(about 1700 A.D.)

A collection of short biographies of distinguished Shaykhs who founded "tarīqas" (ṭuruq sufīyya) in Northern and Central Sudan in the 15th to the 17th centuries A.D. or were illustrious members thereof. Written by Muḥ. Mur Ibn Ḍayfallah (+ 1709 A.D.).

Brockelmann S2, 895.

At-Tabaqāt fī khasā'is al-awliyā' wa-s-sālihīn wa-l-'ulamā' wa-sh-shu'rā', fī-s-Sūdān.

Ed.: without date (1930): partly, with Engl, transl.: S. Hillelson, Sudan Arabic Texts, Cambridge 1935, pp. 172 - 203; Yusuf F. Hasan, Khartoum Univ. Press, 1971 (with critical apparatus).

T.: Hasan A: 0


History of the Kingdom of the Funj (ta'rikh mamlakah funj)

Be it known that the Funj occupied the land of the Nūba and overcame them in the beginning of the tenth century [of Hegira = XVI cent. A.D.], precisely in the year 910 H. [began 14 June 1504 A.D.]. The founder of the city of Sennar was king ʿUmārah[1] Dūnqas; the town of Arbaji had been founded thirty years before [Sennar] by one Hijāzī b. Mu'īn. (Hasan, pp. 39 - 40).

It was due to the godliness of this shaykh [viz. Idris b. Moḥammed al-Arbāb[2]] that king Bādī Rubāt, king of Sennar, called a meeting of great men (kibār) of the Funj, such as Shawāl Wuld... Anfalah, and Naqī, shaykh of the [p. 785] court of his palaces, Shaykh Idris Shīkhī, shaykh Wabawī. He told them: "My kingdom (dār) extends from the (land of) honey[3] to (the land of) onions[4]. I divided it into two halves." The shaykh refused and said to them: "This kingdom (dār) is the kingdom of the Nūba and you have invaded it. I do not accept. The Prophet Moḥammed said: - He who steals an inch of land, will be forced by God in the day of the resurrection [surrender] seven times as much. Give me rather the part which is peacefully held."[5] (Hasan, pp. 60).

Among his [shaykh Idris'] prophecies, there is this: The palaces of For [i.e. the Darfur kings] will rule over Dār al-Gharb [Kordofan, Darfur] from al-Harāza Umm Qad to the Church "ar-Raqtā"', (ilā kanīsah ar-raqtā'),[6] and, according to another story, up to Tur'ah al-khadrā.[7] And the prophecy became true. (Hasan, p. 63).

  1. Reubeni: "Amara".
  2. Shaykh Idris is said to have been born in 1507 A.D. and died in 1650 A.D. : i.e; 147 lunar years.
  3. The Singa district where honey is found in plenty.
  4. The Dongola district characterized by the cultivation of onions.
  5. This sentence, according to the editor, condemned the warfare by which the Sennar Funj extended their power northwards, in the territories which formerly belonged to the Nubian kingdoms.
  6. Raqtā’” means “spotted”. The editor (Hasan, p. 63, n. 14) noted that a place of this name is said to be somewhere near the town of Dilling, on the Nuba Mountains [Central Kordofan]. He also pointed out that, if this identification proved true, the statement recorded in the “Tabaqāt” might become of the greatest importance. In fact, it would be a most rare, if not unique, testimony of the territorial expansion of Christianity in the Middle Ages, up to the Nuba Mountains, where no sure vestige has been so far discovered. There may, however, be some doubt about the correct, local, meaning of the word “kanīsah”, at that time.
  7. A village on the White Nile, near El-Dueim.