The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18c (part 5)

Let’s carry on a little further with the narrative of Eutychius.  The Muslims now prepare to invade Egypt.  But first, some bureaucracy!

The narrative of Eutychius contains endless letter-writing and refers to supposed Muslim guarantees. It seems unlikely that this is historically accurate, considering the illiteracy of most of the invaders, and their indifference to anything except loot.  Again, this perhaps reflects more the situation of the churches in the 10th century, and the mostly forged documents that they used to try to stem the seizures of their property.  The narrative everywhere reflects abject subservience to Muslim power, of the kind necessary in the 10th century, when in reality in the 7th century the Muslim invasion was seen (even by themselves) as no more than a large-scale raid of bandits from the desert.  It makes for tedious reading, but may explain why the Muslims liked Eutychius’ version of their history.

The lost Sassanid chronicle is excerpted once again for chapter 9.

8. Omar ibn al-Khattab ordered Amr ibn al-‘Ās to make the necessary preparations and to go to Egypt.  If the letter had reached him while he was still staying in Syria, he was commanded to remain and not to move, but if he was already on Egyptian territory then he should carry on.  Then Omar ibn al-Khattab returned from Jerusalem to Medina.  Abu Obayda ibn al-Garrah returned to Homs and from Homs he went to Qinnisrīn.  The patrician of Qinnisrīn wrote to him, asking him to give him a one-year truce, so that the population could go to King Heraclius, and to grant security to those who chose instead to remain in the city.  Abu Obayda agreed and the patrician asked him to put a column between the Rum and the Muslims, arranging with [each other] that no Muslim would travel to the side of Rum past that column, and that no Byzantine would travel to the side of Muslims, passing the same.  The column was a carved figure of King Heraclius seated on a throne.  Abu Obayda gave his approval.  Now it happened that, while a group of Muslims were learning to ride horses, Abu Handal ibn Sahl bin Omar lost control of the horse, passed the column with his spear in his hand, poking the tip into the eye of the effigy, without any intention to, and knocked out the eye of the statue.  The patrician of Qinnisrīn came to Abu Obayda and said: “You have deceived, O Muslim, you have violated the agreement and broken the truce that existed between us and you.”  Abu Obayda replied: “Who has violated it?”.  The patrician replied: “The one who knocked out the eye of our king”.  Abu Obayda said then: “So what you want [to do]?”.  He said: “We will satisfied only when the eye [of an effigy] of your king is gouged out.” Said Abu Obayda: “Instead of this, put up a likeness of me, then do with it what you want to do.” They said: “We will content ourselves with no other image than that of your great king”.  Abu Obayda acquiesced to this request, and the Rum sculpted the image of Omar ibn al-Khattab on a column, then their man stepped forward and with a spear knocked out the eye of the image.  Then the patrician said: “Now you have done justice”.  The following year, they renewed the act of truce and safety.  Ghiyād ibn Ghanm occupied Mesopotamia, ar-Raqqah and ar-Ruha, conceding his guarantee of security and a peace treaty.  Al-Mughira ibn Shughba with his army invaded Azerbaijan.  Al-Mughira was the first to call Omar ibn al-Khattab the “prince of the believers”, for the people, after the death of Muhammad, used to call Abu Bakr “the successor of the Envoy of God” and his governors also usually wrote:  “The such and such to the successor of the Envoy of God”.  When he took command, Omar ibn al-Khattab was usually called the successor of the successor of the Envoy of God and his governors usually wrote: “The such and such to the successor of the successor of the Envoy of God”.  But when Omar ibn al-Khattab had chosen al-Mughira ibn Shughba as governor of Basra, he wrote to him thus: “To the servant of God Omar ibn al-Khattab, the prince of the believers”.  Omar ibn al-Khattab, however, refused this title and did not recognize it.  But later he had to say himself:  “I am the servant of God, I am Umar ibn al-Khattab, the prince of the believers, as al-Mughira ibn Shughba well said”.  Thus it was that Omar ibn al-Khattab was called “prince of the believers”.  And since then every Caliph has been called “prince of the believers”.

9.  When Yazdagard, king of the Persians, was made aware of the coming of Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas, he ordered his family and his property to shelter in China.  Then he took with him a small number of soldiers and the money, left Khrād al-Awzadī, brother of Rustam, in command of Ctesiphon, and sent the same Rustam to fight against Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas.  Rustam camped near al-Qadisiyyah, where he remained until he was killed.  When Yazdagard heard this, and realized the state of discord and of internal struggle, of the death and of the sedition of his best soldiers, he perceived that the kingdom was slipping out of his hand.  He then went to Persia, then fled to Merv by the way of Sigistān, and was killed there.  He had only fought and faced sedition, until the day he died, having reigned twenty years.


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