Ibn Abd az-Zahir

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IBN ABD AZ-ZAHIR (1223 - 1292 A.D.)

Muhiy ad-dīn Ibn 'Abd aẓ-Ẓāhir, born and died in Cairo as the Sultans Secretary in the Cairo diwan, wrote biographies of Baybars I, Qalawun and Al-Ashraf.

El (s.v.)

1. ) Rawd aẓ-Ẓāhir ... (Biography of Baybars I; un¬published thesis, London 1960).

2. ) Tashrīf al-ayyam (Biography of Qalawun)

MS. Paris,Bibl. Nat., MS ar. 1704; Exc.: Mus'ad, Al-Maktaba, pp. 196 203 from a Cairo MS. T.: Paris MS and Al-Maktaba A:0

3. ) Al-Altaf ... (Biography of Al-Ashraf)

Ed.: Moberg, Leipzig 1902 Exc.: Al-Maktaba, pp. 204 - 205 T.: Al-Maktaba A:0

From: "Tashrīf" [The Biography of Sultan Qalawun]

In the month of Ramaḍān of this year (685 H./b. November 1286 A.D.), envoys arrived from king Adūr, king of al-Abwāb, bringing as a present an elephant and a giraffe.

They brought also a letter from their king in which he professed his obedience had respectfully proclaimed his friendship to our lord (mawlānā) the Sultan. The envoys complained about the king of Dongola (Dunqula). Sometime before 'Alam ad-dīn Sanjar al-Mu'aẓẓamī had been sent from the Sultan's Court as an envoy to him (the king of al-Abwāb) and made his return Journey with the king's envoys parsing through Dongola. -The king of Dongola arrested him and was determined to kill him, but the nobles (aṣḥāb) and his entourage (jamā’atu-hu) rushed to warn him: - 'Do you intend to ruin our country (diyyāra-nā) and our homes (a' mār)?’ They made another king in place of him. Then the envoys of the king of al-Abwāb arrived (to Cairo) by way of 'Aydhāb. (MS Paris, fol. 290 r, pp. 195 - 1S6).

On the 20th Dhū-l-Qa'da of this year (7 January 1287 A.D.) the emir 'Alam ad-dīn Sanjar al-Mu'aẓẓamī was sent as ambassador to the king of Nubia, who was Adūr king of al-Abwāb, and to the Lord (ṣāḥib) of Bāra, the Lord of at-Tāka, the Lord of Kadurū, the Lord of Danrū, the Lord of Arā (Ari?), the Lord of Bifāl (Tegale?), the Lord of Anaj, the Lord of Karsā (Kursī?). At the same time, 'Ala'-ad-dīn al-Hisnī was sent as ambassador to Shemāmūn, king of Dunqula, to accompany (home) the ambassador (of Shemāmūn). (MS Paris, fol. 293 r).

On the river (Nile) they found someone who in¬formed them that king Anī had left two days before in the direction of the country of the Anaj. The array ('askar) pursued him for some distance, then returned. They came back with great booty, after they had slain a great number of men and taken their women prisoner, and seized their property as spoils. But king Anī had a narrow escape with seven men (anfār) who were with him. What prevented the army from reaching him was the fierce thirst and the country they crossed, which was only a wasteland, the abode of elephants, monkeys, boars, giraffes and ostriches.

Meanwhile, the man sent from the Sultan's court and appointed to become king of Nubia, arrived; his name was Budemma. Soon after his arrival, the emir 'Izzaddīn al-Afram, leader (muqaddam) of the army, convened the nobles (akābir) before the emirs and he (Budemma) was crowned according to the custom of their kings. He was compelled to swear allegiance to our Lord the Sultan, and his subjects were compelled to swear allegiance to him; they had to swear that they would obey him only so long as he was loyal to our lord the Sultan, and that, should he break his loyalty, he ought to be stripped of the crown and sent to the Sultan's Court. The natives (ahl al-bilād) said (to him): - 'Were it not for sake of our lord the Sultan, we should not obey you; if you ever change your allegiance we should arrest you. We agree that our lord the Sultan appoint as our king a peasant (fallāḥ) or a highlander (jabalī), because the country of the Nūba has no other king than our lord the Sultan and we are his subjects.'

[A Story Concerning the Kings of Nubia]

A king by name Meshkedet (M.Sh.K.D.T.) was en¬throned in the kingdom of Nubia after king David (Dāwūd) [II], in the time of (Baybars) az-Zahir. Al-Malik aẓ-Ẓāhir had sent from the court a man (shakhṣ), one of the Assassins (fīdāwī) who belonged to the sect of the Ismailis (mīn al-ismā'īliyya): his name was Salāma. He made friendship with the said king, but he ordered him to conceal that he was a fīdāwī. It happened that this Salāma took as his companion a youth (sabī) who was initiated (lazīq) in the sect, but Salāma feigned as if he had a grudge against his young friend (and sometimes abandoned him) and then the initiated friend (al-lazīq) stayed with king Meshkedet (M.S.K.D.T.). The king was weak with (Salāma) and made him his equerry (silāh-dāri-hi); they sat down in a grove (mashrabah) and the young man jumped on king Meshkedet and killed him. The young man, too, was killed and a person (shakhṣ), by name Berek (B.R.K.; Al-Maktaba: Birik) became king and was crowned in the time of the Sultan. Under him relations grew worse. The emir 'Almamaddīn Sanjar al-Masrūrī seized him and killed him shortly after his accession, and another person, by name Shemāmūn was installed (wulliyā). He (Shemāmūn) remained until his countrymen rose against him - as already mentioned. Our lord the Sultan sent from his jail (i’tiqāl) the present king, who acceded to the throne and was crowned: his name was Budemmah who is still reigning.

Later on, the emir ‘Izzaddīn al-Afram returned to Dongola after he had marched 33 days beyond it. When he entered it, the soldiers of the Sultan's army, the gre¬nadiers (harārīq) and the boats made a display of fireworks with nafṭ and the military band (tubulkhānāt), too, made a display; they entered the church of Sūs (Yasus), compelled the king to swear allegiance to the Sultan, and Jurays to swear allegiance to him (the king); (they swore) that if either broke his oath, the other would rise against him for the sake of our lord the Sultan. The natives and the priests (qusūs) too, took the oath. The emir 'Izzaddīn al-Afram dispatched a company of the army and a number of footmen and gave them a certain quantity of flour and barley and other provisions; then the emir 'Izzaddīn al-Afram left with his men (for Egypt). Five days after his departure, a letter arrived from king Budemma who said that the natives had returned to their homes. Also a letter arrived from the king of al-Abwāb who said that he had been prevented from meeting the emir through being engaged in pursuing king Anī and that the country of the Anaj had been overcome by an envious king who had seized power, and that he (the king of al-Abwāb) was doing his best to oust him: if he succeeded in dispossessing him, all the countries (jamī’ bilād) of the Blacks (Sūdān) would come under the power (qabada) of our lord the Sultan and under his obedience; (he added that) the hearts of the natives had been impressed with great fear, by the army of our lord the Sultan, as they had reached such places (Inside Nubia) that no other army had reached before, if exception is made for the army of Alexander Dhū-l-Qarnayn. And all that was achieved without a loss in the victorious army, but one man (nafr) who had been slain for sake of Allah (fī sabīl Allah) and another who was drowned.

The emir ’Izzaddīn al-Afram arrived on the island of Mikā'il on Thursday 3rd of Rabī' al-Awwal (14 March 1290 A.D.)• The emir 'Izzaddīn al-Afram and his men arrived (at Cairo) on the 5th of Rabī' al-Ākhar (15 April 1290 A.D.). Our lord the Sultan al-Malik al-Ashraf, inorder to honour him together with the emirs who had ta¬ken part in the campaign with Ezzeddin, went out to meet them at Qarafah. The emir Ezzeddin asked for 300 camels to carry the prisoners of war and they were sent to him. A number of Nubian nobles (akābir), mounted on dromedaries (hujin) and holding spears in their hands marched on parade, an elephant and a large number of elephant tusks followed (them), the army of the emir carried loads of such goods from the country as the emir Ḥisāmaddīn had instructed them to carry away. The soldiers paraded dressed in their best uniforms (zav), the popu¬lace rushed out to see them: it was a huge crowd indeed: all passed at the feet of the well-guarded citadel (al-qala'at al-maḥrūsah). Our lord the Sultan watched the spectacle and thanked God for all these gifts (mawāhib) (which were) so great that he could see every day prisoners of war arriving before him. Sometimes (these were brought) from the east, others from the west.

Since he and his armies in all countries of the infidels had either a raid (ghazū) or wars (ḥurūb) or an attack (ṭa'n) or an encounter (ḍarb) - and God had destined that his armies should advance - every month there was some expedition (marḥala) and a step forward (khaṭwa) in the country of the Rūm and another step forward in Dunqula. All from the bounty of God. (MS fols. 307 r - 313 r; Al-Maktaba, pp. 196 - 203).

From: Al-Alṭāf [The Biography of Sultan Al-Ashraf Khalīl]

The arrival of the gifts of the king of Nubia, together with his brother al-Barsī and Jurays, the gover¬nor (nā'ib) of the district of al-Jabal.

In the month of Ṣafar of this year, the king (malik) or the Regent (mutamallik) of Dunqula and of the country of the Nūba, apologised for (not being able to pay) the arrears of the baqt imposed on the kings of Nubia. The reason he gave was that utter destruction (kharāb) had been brought about in his country since the arrival of the Moslem armies (al-'asākir al-islāmiwa) more than once (karra ba'd karra ba'd karra). He also raised a complaint against the Lord (ṣāḥib) of al-Abwāb, who was king Adūr because he had made the situ¬ation of his country even worse by causing more and more devastations (kharāb 'alā kharāb), death, secret plots (?) (sawād) and discords (fasād). But his excuse was not accepted by the Sultan.

New ambassadors were sent taking to him an ultimatum. Then he was held by a fear .which crippled him. Our Lord the Sultan sent him a message of assurance, as to dispel his fear and strengthen his hope, that his mother (wālida), his sisters (akhawāt), his paternal aunt (‘amma) and other relatives who were detained as hostages in the Guest House of the Sultan's Court, were receiving their pensions (rawātib) regularly, and also generous gifts (hadāva).

When (the Nubian king) received the ultimatum he sent his brother called al-Barsī (al-Bursi?) and the nobleman (ḥaḍarah) Fāris ad-dawla Jurays, the Nubian, who had been appointed governor (nā’ib) of al-Jabal and other districts, together with a message, in which (the king) humbly implored mercy and pardon and asked that his apology be accepted. He also tried to placate the Sultan by saying that (in the court of) the kings of Nubia, it was only the women who direct (tudabbir) the kings; therefore he asked that his mother be sent back to direct him - not only his mother but also those who were with her because of him. So they all agreed to write to the Franks (asking them) to advance into the country. If Saladin went out to drive the Franks back, they (the officials of the Court) would seize all his supporters, whom he would have left as the rear-guard at Cairo; then they would go to Join the Franks in the fight against Saladin and his men and exterminate them; eventually, they would divide 'the country between them and the Franks.

The commissioner of the Caliphate sent a man and gave him a letter which he sewed in his shoes. They expected that by this ruse, they would escape the notice of Saladin and the other Muslims.

They pretend to blow out the light of God by their mouth, but God wants nothing but to make his light per feet, though it may displease the unbelievers.

It happened that this messenger, while passing through Bi'r al-Baldā’ (Bilbels) drew the attention of a Turk who noticed that he was wearing worn clothing while he carried in his hands a pair of sandals completely new and unused: these were the sandals where the letter had been concealed. The Turk seized him and took him to Saladin, who had the sandals unstitched and found there - the message to the Frank? on behalf of the court. Saladin took the letter and said: - 'Show me the man who wrote this letter.' They brought him a Jew. When the Jew was brought into his presence for questioning and for punishment, he declared himself a Muslim and, by that means, he saved himself (from capital punishment). He disclosed that he had written the letter on behalf of the Court Officials. Saladin concealed the whole affair. The Commissioner realized that he was in danger arid feared for his life. He would not leave the Palace at all, or if he ever went out it was only for a short distance. Saladin kept feigning that he did not remember and kept him in suspense without giving any order, neither reassuring him nor arresting him.

Then the Commissioner became confident arid thought that nobody wanted him anymore. He had a castle (qaṣr) in a village on the bank of the Nile near Qalyūb, called al-Khurfāniwa, (Kharqāniyyah) which had a promenade and gardens. He went there to take some rest. When Saladin was informed of it, he sent a company of his men who lured him out of his safety (place), killed him and cut his head off. That happened on Wednesday 25th Dhū-l-Qa'da of this year, i.e. the year 564 H. (= 22 August 1169 A.D.).

When the Commissioner was killed, the Blacks (Sūdān) who were serving in the Palace, became restive and revolted. Their number was over fifty thousand. Whenever they rose against a vizier they killed and destroyed him. When they rose, al-Malik an-Nāṣir sent against them Abū-l-Haijā as-Samīn (= ’The Father of War’, surnamed ‘the Fat One’). A battle broke out between the two sides, (in the square between the two Palaces in Cairo. The fight was fought fiercely for two days. Every time the Blacks sought refuge in a particular area (of the town), this was set on fire. They had a large district exclusively for them, near Bab az-Zuweila, called al-Manṣūra. Saladin sent some people to set fire to that quarter together with all that was found there: goods, children and women. When this news reached them, they took to flight, but the swords chased them the exits of the streets were blocked before them. Then they asked for a safe conduct (amān), after they had fought so long, and were granted it. It was Saturday, the last day but one of Dhū-l-Qa'da (25 August). They gathered together at Gīza. Al-Malik al-Mu'aẓẓam Shams ad-dawla Tūrānshāh, the brother of Saladin, marched against them with 'a troop of foot soldiers and slaughtered them to the last by the sword: there remained only the few who had managed to escape.

After that incident, the position of al-'Aḍid was weakened altogether, his power fell to nothing. Saladin gave orders that the quarter of the Blacks be razed to the ground without leaving a trace. Some emirs destroyed it to the foundations and turned it into a garden. The might of the Blacks disappeared as if it had never existed. (Shayyal I, pp. 174- 178).

In the month of Jumadā al-Ākhira of this year 568 H. (1172 A.D.), al-Malik al-Mu'aẓẓam Shams ad-Dawla Fakhr ad-Din Tūrānshāh b. Ayyūb, the brother of Saladin, raided Nubia. He conquered one of their fortresses called Ibrīm and took 'prisoners and spoils. They realized that the country was poor in resources. Therefore, he collected the prisoners and went back to Aswān where he distributed the spoils among his men. (ibid., pp. 228 - 229).

[On the Conquest of Nubia and the Maghrib]

Among the many favourable events which have been announced in these days, there is the news of the conquest (iftitāh) of Nubia and the advance of the army into such places that were never trodden by the hoofs of Moslem horses in by-gone ages. The armies of Egypt (‘asākir miṣr) have also occupied Barqa and the neighbouring fortresses and have subjugated all the strongholds up to the frontier of the Maghrib. (Paris MS ar. 1702, fol. 40 r; Shayyal I, p. 235).

This Kanz was one of the leading chieftains in Egypt. He migrated to Aswān and settled there and never ceased plotting. He rallied the Blacks (as-sūdān) around him and let them believe that he would conquer the whole country and restore the Egyptian (Fatimite) dynasty to its previous power and prestige. Those who were followers of the Isma'ili sect (ra'ī al-ismā’iliyyīn) and wished the return of the Fatimite dynasty joined him in great numbers. They were Blacks.

When their number was sufficiently great, he marched on Qos and its districts. The Sultan al-Malik an-Nāṣir - of blessed memory - sent a numerous army against him and appointed his own brother al-Malik al-'Ādil Sayf ad-dīn Abū Bakr command-in-chief. Al-Malik al-'Ādil marched until he met the multitude of natives (qawm). Al-Kanz had previously murdered the brother of Ḥisām ad-dīn Abū-l- Hayjā' as-samīn and some of his men who had obtained landed estates (in Upper Egypt). When Al-Malik al-'Ādil was on march, they (the Blacks) joined al-Kanz's men at Tūd (Tawd) and made one army. The army of al-Malik al-'Ādil laid the siege on the town, took it and exterminated the population by the sword. Then they pursued al-Kanz who fled with the remainder of his men. He was utterly defeated and killed: his men were all killed or taken prisoners. Thus the fire of the revolt of the Egyptians was put off for good. (ibid. II, p. 16).

In the year 569 H./1173 A.D., al-Malik an-Nāṣir Saladin sent his brother al-Malik al-Mu'aẓẓam Shams ad-Dawla Tūrānshāh Ayyūb to conquer Yemen. The reason for this expedition was that after they had occupied Egypt, Saladin and his family were in a constant fear that Nureddin might march on Egypt and take it from their hands. So they planned to conquer a kingdom where they might find shelter and settle in peaceful possession. Were Nureddin successful in driving them out of Egypt, they would retire there and settle. Thereupon Saladin decided to send his brother to conquer Nubia; his brother actually went there but he was not pleased with it, as already mentioned. He therefore returned to Egypt. (Paris MS arab. 1702, fol. 42 r; Shayyal II, p. 237