Al-Makin in prison

The Diez article on the 13th century Arabic Christian historian, al-Makin ibn Amid, contains an interesting anecdote from the historian’s life:

A second obscure point in the life of Ibn Amid concerns the period of the attempted Mongol invasion of Syria.  The functionary, who was then at Damascus, was accused of being in contact with the Mongols in order to reveal the secrets of the Mameluke army.  He was therefore thrown in prison in 1261 AD by order of the sultan Baibars, and remained there for more than ten years, before being liberated by the payment of a fine.  The biographer Ibn al-Suqa`i (and al-Safadi with him) attributes his detention to the slander of some envious envious scribe, while a Moslem contemporary, the sheikh Ghazi ibn al-Wasiti, cites the case of Ibn al-Amid as proof of the bad faith of the “dhimmis” which, in his opinion, shows that “it is necessary to seize the goods of the Christians, their wives and their lives, and to leave on the face of the earth neither Christian nor Jew.”

Interestingly the work by Ghazi ibn al-Wasiti exists in English, translated by Richard Gottheil[1]  Let us give Gottheil’s translation:

In the days of the Sultan al-Malik al-Thahir, a lot of sincere Moslems from the country of the Tartars told him that al-Makin ibn al-‘Amid, the Secretary of War, was corresponding with Hulagu in reference to the Egyptian army, its men and its commanders.  Al-Malik al-Thahir had him seized, with the intention of having him put to death. His condition was much worse than that of those who were governed by Christian Emirs-he was confined in prison for more than eleven years. Then, through payments of money, his release was effected. In order to put through this release, it was considered proper by Moslems to seize the property of Christians, their wives and their very lives. In the end, not a single Christian and not a single Jew remained in the land.

The work is well worth reading for a series of anecdotes on Moslem-Christian relations in the Moslem states.

  1. [1]R. Gottheil, “An answer to the Dhimmis”, Journal of the American Oriental Society 41 (1921), 383-457, esp. 410.  JSTOR.

3 thoughts on “Al-Makin in prison

  1. 1261 AD signals the beginning of a successive of persecution waves against the Copts during the reign of the first Mamluke Dynasty (Bahri Mamlukes 1250–1382).

    As now, these guys never fall short of reasons to persecute and oppress.

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