The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 1 (part 2)

Let’s carry on from where we left off in September 19, 2016, when last we looked at Chapter 1.  All of this material is derived from the Old Testament, albeit with some imaginative reworking, and it is of no historical value except as indicating how people in the Muslim world thought about this narrative in the 10th century AD.

2. Shīt was two hundred and five years old when Anūsh was born.  After Adam’s death, Shīt’s family separated themselves from the family of Cain, the accursed one.  Shīt took his first-born Anūsh, Qīnān, son of Anūsh, and Mahlali’il, son of Qīnān, along with their women and their children and made them climb to the top of the mountain, where Adam was buried.  Cain and all his sons remained in the place where Abel was killed (9). Shīt’s sons lived on that mountain, pure and holy, and they heard the voices of the angels because they were close to them and they glorified and praised God together with the angels. Therefore they, together with their women and their children, were called children of God. They did not work, they did not sow, they did not reap.  They only fed on the fruits of the trees.  There was no envy among them, nor injustice, nor lies. And when they swore an oath they used to say: “No, for the blood of Abel”. They went to the top of the holy mountain every day and prostrated themselves before God by invoking blessings on the body of Adam.  When Shīt felt death approaching, he made his sons swear on the blood of Abel that none of them would ever come down from that holy mountain nor would they allow any of their children to come down among the sons of Cain, the accursed one.  Shīt lived in all nine hundred and twelve years.  Anūsh had Qīnān at the age of one hundred and ninety years.  In his time the sons of Cain, the accursed, made drums, cymbals, lyres and harps.  They were the first to work iron and copper and all that could be obtained, and they finally made tents in which they lived.

3. Anūsh was three hundred years old when Cain was killed, the accursed son of Adam and murderer of his brother Abel.  It happened that Lāmikh, the seventh descendant of Cain and a shepherd, shot a dart, as a game, that struck his grandfather Cain killing him.  Cain had continued to roam the woods, because he was a wanderer, never stopping in one place.  Cain died at the age of nine hundred and thirty years.  Anūsh lived in all nine hundred and five years.  Qīnān had had Mahlali’il at the age of one hundred and seventy years.  Feeling close to death, Qīnān called Mahlali’īl to himself and made him swear by the blood of Abel that he would not allow any of his sons to come down among the sons of Cain, the accursed.  Qīnān lived in all nine hundred and ten years.

4. Mahalali’īl had Yārid at one hundred and sixty-five years.  Qīnān died when Mahlali’il was one hundred and thirty-five years old, and was buried in the Cave of the Treasures.  When Mahlali’īl felt close to death, he called to his son Yārid and made him swear by the blood of Abel that he would not allow any of his sons to come down from the mountain among the sons of the murderer Cain, the accursed one.  Mahlali’il lived in all eight hundred and ninety-five years. Yārid had, at one hundred and sixty-two years, Akhnūkh.

Of the sons of the murderer Cain, the men behaved like stallions and whinnied after the women.  The women, in turn, were no better and behaved shamelessly like the men.  They fornicated and committed adultery among themselves, in front of everyone, in the open, and two or three men had the same woman together.  The elders were more libidinous than the young, fathers lay with their daughters and their sons with their mothers. The children did not know who their fathers were, nor did the fathers know who their children were.  They played every kind of musical instrument and the echo of their cries and their games reached the top of the holy mountain.  On hearing their cries, a hundred men among the sons of Shīt met together with the intention of descending from the mountain among the sons of Cain, the accursed one.  Yārid exhorted them to swear on the blood of Abel that they would never come down from the holy mountain, but they did not receive his words and went down.  When they were down, they saw the daughters of Cain with beautiful faces, naked and without any modesty, and were seized with burning lust.  The daughters of Cain looked at them, they saw that they were beautiful and gigantic and they fell on them like beasts, soiling their bodies.  Thus it was that Shīt’s sons perished, fornicating with the daughters of Cain.  From their union with the sons of Shīt, the daughters of Cain, the accursed, gave birth to the giants (10).  In the Torah it is said that the sons of God, also called sons of Elohīm, when they saw that the daughters of Cain were beautiful, descended to live among them and the giants were born.  They are therefore mistaken and do not know the truth, those who assert that the angels have descended among the daughters of Adam.  They were instead, the sons of Shīt, come down from the holy mountain among the daughters of Cain, the accursed, because the sons of Shīt, both for their purity and because they lived on the holy mountain, were called sons of Elohīm, that is children of God.  As for those who claim that the angels have descended among the daughters of men, well they are in error, because the substance of the angels is a simple substance and by their nature they cannot have sexual relations.  Man, on the other hand, is a compound substance and by his nature can have sexual relations, as is the case with animals.  If the angels could have sex they would not have left any woman among the daughters of the man without contaminating her.  When the sons of Shīt, who had come down from the mountain among the daughters of Cain, the accursed, wanted to return to the holy mountain, the rocks of the mountain became like fire and it was not possible for them to return to the mountain.  Later, group by group, [others also] came down from the holy mountain among the daughters of Cain, the accursed one


The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18i – The remaining Ummayads

The last few Ummayads conclude chapter 18.  The seizure of the Damascus church was plainly not straightforward.  It looks rather as if at least some of the Muslims felt that the failure to honour the guarantee by Khalid ibn al-Walid was dishonourable, for the matter came up again under the next caliph, Omar.  Omar also made moves to conciliate the Shia by removing the anathemas against Ali from public worship.  In the reign of Hisham, the melkite patriarch of Alexandria, an illiterate named Cosmas, started the evil tradition of appealing to the Muslims to settle disputes with the monophysites.  The caliph Yazid was the son of the Persian princess, descended from the emperor Maurice and the Sassanid Persian kings (!).  The line comes to an end with Marwan II, who dies in a Persian uprising.


1. The bay’ah was given to Omar ibn Abd al-Aziz b. Marwan b. al-Hakam – his mother was Umm Asim, daughter of As ibn Omar b. al-Khattab – in the month of Safar in the ninety-ninth year of the Hegira.

2. He disdained to follow the behaviour of the members of his family, and removed the curse that used to be launched against Ali ibn Abi Talib from the pulpit.  From the days of the Caliphate of Mu’awiya ibn Abi Sufyan, in fact, until the time of the caliphate of Omar ibn Abd al-Aziz, the Umayyad caliphs were accustomed to curse Ali ibn Abi Talib from the pulpits, maliciously calling him “Abu Turab”.

3.  [Omar ibn Abd al-Aziz] was caliph for thirty months.  In his day there was king of the Rum Anastasius, who reigned only a year and a half.  The Christians said to Omar ibn Abd al-Aziz that by virtue of the protection granted to them, their churches should neither be destroyed nor used as dwelling places.  In this regard they showed him the letter of Khalid ibn al-Walid.  Omar ibn Abd al-Aziz suggested that they take the money, abandon the church and construct another anywhere in Damascus they liked.  But the Christians refused.  Then the Caliph signed a decree which he allowed them to keep the church with its boundaries and be able to repair it.  The Muslims believed that this measure was onerous and said:  “Must we return to them our mosque, where we have been called to prayer from the top of the minaret, and where we have actually prayed, fulfilling our obligation to raise prayers to Allah?  Must it be destroyed and go back to being a church?”  Then Abu Idris al-Hulwāni interjected and said:  “The Christians have our protection for only one half of the city of Damascus and only for the churches that are in that half; the other half of the city, in fact, was conquered by the sword.  Also the churches and monasteries that are located on the outskirts of Damascus starting from Ghūtah belong to the Muslims, because they were conquered by the sword.  If the Christians want us to give back to them this their church, we will return it to them, but on one condition, namely that we will destroy every church that is in the other half of the city of Damascus and every church and monastery which are outside the town, at Ghūtah.  But if they leave us this church, we will give them all the rest.” With these last words he alluded to the churches of Ghūtah and “Dayr Murran” in which the Muslims were accustomed to stop and stay.  The Christians then, fearing that their churches and monasteries would be destroyed, left their church.  Omar ibn Abd al-Aziz wrote them a decree which ensured that their churches that were at Damascus, and the churches and monasteries that were outside Damascus, in Ghūtah, were neither destroyed nor used as dwelling places, and that no Muslim would ever be able to claim rights over them.  For all this he made his solemn oath.

4. Omar ibn Abd al-Aziz died in the month of ragab in the year 101 of the Hegira, at the age of thirty-nine.  He was of medium height, handsome of body and face with premature signs of gray hair and a scar on his forehead.  In one text he is said to be buried in Dayr Sim’an, in Homs.  The leader of his bodyguard was Ruwah Yazid ibn as-Saksaki and his hāgib was the freedman Hubaysh.


1. The bay’ah was given to Yazid ibn Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan ibn al-Hakam – his mother was Atika, daughter of Yazid ibn Mu’awiya -.  He was caliph for four years and one month and was the first caliph to take a singer.  For he had taken a singer named Habbābah, very dear to him, who appointed and deposed the governors without waiting for any order from him.  [Yazid ibn Abd al-Malik] died in the month of Ragab in the year 105 of the Hegira, at the age of thirty-one (In another text it says “thirty-seven years”), and was buried in Damascus.  The leader of of his bodyguard was Ka’b ibn Khalid al-Absi and his hāgib was the freedman Khalid.


1. The bay’ah was given to Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik – his mother was Umm Hashim, daughter of Hisham ibn Isma’il b. Hashim b. al-Walid b. al-al-Mughira Makhzūmi -.  He was caliph was for nineteen years and seven months.  In his day there was king of the Rum Theodosius.  He reigned a year and a half and died.

2. After him there reigned over Rum Leo for twenty-four years and died.  In the third year of Caliph Hisham there was made patriarch of Constantinople Constantine.  He held the office for twenty-eight years and died.  In the seventh year of the caliphate of Hisham there was made patriarch of Alexandria Cosmas.  He held the office for twenty-eight years.  The Melkite Christians in Alexandria were praying in the church of St Saba because the Jacobites had seized all the [other] churches in the city.  When Cosmas was made Patriarch he was an illiterate, he could neither read nor write.  He was a tailor.  He went to Damascus to the presence of Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik and claimed from him, with the help of some scribes, the return of the churches that the Jacobites had made their own.  Hisham wrote to his prefect in Egypt, who was then Abdullah ibn al-Gigan as-Sakwī, to get the churches that were in the hands of the Jacobites and return them to the Patriarch Cosmas together with all that had belonged to them.  Cosmas then took the churches from the Jacobites, including the church of al-Qaysāriyyah.  All this had happened because, from the time that the patriarch George had fled from Alexandria to Constantinople, in the third year of the caliphate of Omar ibn al-Khattab, until Cosmas became patriarch of Alexandria, in the seventh year of the caliphate of Hisham, the see of Alexandria had been without a Melkite Patriarch for ninety-seven years.  The Jacobites, therefore, had been able to take possession of all the churches of Egypt and Alexandria.  In addition, as the inhabitants of Nubia needed bishops, the patriarch of the Jacobites began to ordain bishops for them, and the Nubians became Jacobites also after then, and every time the bishop died in any city in Egypt, the patriarch of the Jacobites appointed another, so that all of Egypt, from the Upper to the Lower, became Jacobite.  The only exception was the Mika’il church in Qasr ash-Shama.  The Melkites, in fact, had managed to keep it, carrying on prayer and when their bishop died they referred to the Metropolitan of Sur, who ordained for them a [new] Bishop.  Things continued to go well for the Melkites of Egypt and Alexandria until Cosmas was no longer patriarch.  In the seventeenth year of the caliphate of Hisham there was made patriarch of Jerusalem Elia.  He held the office for thirty-four years and died.

3. Hisham died in the month of Rabi al-Akhar in the year 125 of the Hegira, at the age of fifty-three years.  He was buried in ar-Rusafah, in the district of ar-Raqqah.  He was of fair complexion, cross-eyed, ugly, bad tempered, stingy, and greedy for wealth.  The leader of his bodyguard was Ka’b ibn Hamid and his hāgib the freedman Ghālib.  His influential adviser was Sa`īd ibn al-Walid al-Abrash al-Kalbi and his katib was Salim ibn Abd al-Aziz.


1. The bay’ah was given to al-Walid ibn Yazid b. Abd al-Malik b. Marwan – his mother was Umm al-Haggag, daughter of Muhammad b. Yusuf b. al-Hakam b. Abi Uqayl ath-Thaqafi -.  He was wild, wasteful and addicted to entertainment. He ruled one year and three months.  Then the people could not stand his behaviour any more and killed him in the month of ğumādà al-akhar in the year 126 of the Hegira.  He was struck down in al-Buhayra, in Damascus.  He was forty years old.  There followed a revolt that shook the whole of Syria.  He was handsome of face, eloquent, with a perfect complexion.  The leader of his bodyguard was Abd ar-Rahman ibn Hamid al-Kalbi and his hāgib was the freedman Qatr.


1. The bay’ah was given to Yazid ibn al-Walid an-Nāfid, i.e. Yazid ibn al-Walid b. Abd al-Malik b. Marwan – his mother was a Persian, i.e. Shāhqūd, daughter of Firuz Kisra, King of Persia, son of Yazdağard, son of Shahrayān, whose grandmother was the daughter of Maurice, king of the Rum -.  [Yazid ibn al-Walid] thus used to say: “I am the son of Kisra and of Marwan; Maurice is my grandfather and my grandfather is [also] Shashan”.  He was made caliph in the month of Ragab, he ruled five months and died at the end of the month of dhu’l-qa’da in the year 126 of the Hegira, at the age of thirty.  He was buried in Damascus.  The leader of his bodyguard was Yazid ibn ash-Shammākh al-Lakhmi and his hāgib was the freedman Sallam.


1. Upon the death of Yazid an-Naqid, those of Syria gave the bay’ah to Ibrahim b. al-Walid b. Abd al-Malik (238).  He ruled for four months, then they deposed him.  Then arose Marwan ibn Muhammad b. [Marwan] al-Hakam, the son of an Armenian – his mother’s name was Izya and she had been the wife of Mus’ab ibn az-Zubayr and after the killing of this man she had been taken as wife by Muhammad ibn Marwan b . al-Hakam.  When he arrived in Syria, Marwan ibn Muhammad was hailed as caliph by many of the inhabitants of Syria, but he was opposed by Suleiman ibn Hisham b. Abd al-Malik and other Umayyads.  The inhabitants of Syria united against him and in Khurasan the number of supporters of the Banu Hashim[1] greatly increased.  His troops were put to flight, and his soldiers were killed.  Those of Khurasan killed many men of Syria and Iraq, seizing their property and making their wives and children captives.  Marwan ruled five years, through continuous wars and the opposition of the populations of the countries hostile to him.  Then he fled from az-Zab to Mosul and finally into Mesopotamia, then through Syria to reach Egypt.  The soldiers of the Banu Hashim penetrated Upper Egypt and began following him everywhere giving chase.  He was surprised in a village of Ashmūr called Abusir Lūrinds and was killed there.  He was sixty nine.  Amir ibn Isma’il as-Salmi [= al-Maslami?] was responsible for his killing.   Marwan was nicknamed “al-Ga’di” because he who had great influence on him and on his decisions was al-Ga’d ibn Dirham.  The leader of his bodyguard was al-Kawthar ibn al-Aswad al-Anawi and his ‘hāgib’ was the freedman Saqlāb.

  1. [1]I.e. the Shia, meaning here the Persians.

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18h – Abd al-Malik, Al-Walid and Suleiman

The remaining Ummayad caliphs are dealt with briefly by Eutychius.  Muslim seizures of churches begin.


1. The bay’ah was given to Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan b. al-Hakam b. Abi’l-`Ās – his mother was Aisha, daughter of Mu’awiya b. al-Mughira b. Abi’-`Ās b. Umayya b. Abd Shams -, in the sixty-fifth year of the Hegira.

2. He sent some of his men to Jerusalem with the task of extending the mosque to include the area of the Rock.  People then began to make the ritual pilgrimage to Jerusalem, because Abd al-Malik had forbidden them to do so to Mecca because of Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr.  Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan summoned the Christians of Damascus and asked them to give him the Mar Yuhanna Church [= church of St John] which was located next to the main mosque.  The Christians presented themselves, bearing the letter of Khalid ibn al-Walid.  He then offered them a lot of money so that they could build a church of equal size in any other part of Damascus that they wanted.  But Christians did not consent, and he let them go.  After holding his office for twenty years, Thomas, Patriarch of Antioch, died.  In the first year of the caliphate of Abd al-Malik George was made Patriarch of Antioch.  He held the office for twenty years and died.  In the same year John was made patriarch of Constantinople. He held the office for thirty-five years and died.

3. Justinian, king of Rum, died.  After him there reigned Leo for three years and he died.  After him there reigned over Rum Tiberius, for seven years, in the thirteenth year of the caliphate of Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan.  Abd al-Malik sent al-Haggag ibn Yusuf to Mecca to fight against Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr, who had become entrenched in the sacred Ka’bah of Allāh.  Al-Haggag subjected the Ka’bah to stone throwing and demolished a balcony.  Fearing he might be trapped under the rubble of the temple, Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr went out.  It was then that his mother said: “My son, if you are fighting for a just cause, you have right on your side.  Go then to meet them, and if you are killed you will be a martyr, because you will be killed for a just cause.”  He replied: “Mother, it is not death that I fear, but it disgusts me to think that they can make a fool of me, pointing me out as an example.”  His mother said: “My son, a lamb that is slaughtered is not afraid of being skinned!”  It is said that his mother made him drink a ratl of musk.  Then he went out against al-Haggag and fought until he was killed.  He was crucified at Mecca, and for many days the people could smell the odour of musk that emanated from his stomach.

4. Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr was killed in the month of ğumādà al-awwal in the seventy-third year of the Hegira.  During the caliphate of Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan there was, on the Monday at the end of al-ğumādà awwal of the seventy-fourth year of the Hegira, an eclipse of the sun so intense that the stars appeared.  Abd al-Aziz ibn Marwan, brother of Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, governed Egypt.  He demolished the great mosque of Fustat and built a new one.  There were already visible in him the signs of elephantiasis and the doctors advised him to settle in the city of Hulwān, where he built assembly rooms.  He then build at Hulwān a great pool, and brought water from springs that flowed upstream of the mountain of al-Muqattam, channeling it into aqueducts, which he had built, to make it flow into the pool.  Over it he made a throne entirely of glass.  He spent a thousand thousands of dinars at Hulwan and he planted date palms.  Every Thursday he used to ride to Fustat where he spent the rest of the day and night.  On Friday he returned to Hulwān, after having performed the morning prayer.  At Hulwān he built a hydrometer with which to monitor the rising of the waters of the Nile.  He had with him some Melkite Christians who asked for permission to build a church.  He granted this to them, and they built at Hulwān the church of St George:  it was a small church and was called “the church of the upholsterers”.  He ruled that the kharag [=land tax] in Egypt should be paid every Friday by groups of citizens, in rotation, for fear that in the event of a summons by the king he might need money.  This continued until Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr was killed and Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan brought the situation under his control.  In the seventy-fourth year [of the Hegira], Abd al-Aziz went to Alexandria, took the notable personalities of the city and exiled them into villages and rural districts, requiring each rural district [to supply] a specified amount depending on the funds, vineyards and species of cereal that it possessed.  He built the bridge that is on the canal of the prince of the believers.  He wanted to tear down the bridge of Fustat and erect it at Hulwān, and that he wanted to transfer to Hulwān also the ports, markets and merchants and stop any activity at Fustat, but he was unable to do this.  He had with him a Jacobite ‘Katib‘ [= scribe] named Athanasius who asked him for permission to build a church at Qasr ash-Shama.  He granted this and he built the church of St. George and the church of Abu Qir, which is inside the citadel next to Ashab ar-Ribat (?).  It is said that the church of Abu Qir was built with the remains of the church of St. George.

5. At that time there died in al-Fustat, where he was also buried, Abd al-Aziz ibn Marwan, on Monday night of the twelfth day of the month of ğumādà al-ula of the eighty-sixth year of the Hegira, at the age of twenty-two.

6.  Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan died on the tenth of the month of Shawwal in the eighty-fourth year of the Hegira, at the age of sixty-two.  He was caliph for twenty years.  He was of dark complexion, of medium height, he had a long beard and a big belly.  He was buried in Damascus.  The leaders of his bodyguard were Yazid ibn Abi Habasa as-Saksaki and, after him, Abd Allah ibn Yazid al-Hakami.  His hāgib was the freedman Abu ar-Rughayragha [= Abū’z-Zu’ayzi’a?]


1.   The bay’ah was given to al-Walid ibn ‘Abd al-Malik b. Marwan – his mother was Wallada, daughter of Abbas ibn al-Harbi b. Harith al-Absi -, at the same time that Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan died.  He ruled for nine years and nine months.

2. He sent his men to Jerusalem, and there he built the mosque in Jerusalem,  having the rock at the centre of the mosque.  There he built other buildings around it, and decorated it with marbles.  He then took away a ciborium from the church of the Christians of Baalbek – it was of copper covered with gold -, and had it put on the Rock, in order to do the ritual pilgrimage to the Rock.

3. He sent then to Qurra ibn al-Shibl al-Absi, who at that time was his governor in Egypt, telling him to demolish all of the great mosque and to rebuild it from scratch.  And in fact he rebuilt it, decorated it and covered with gold the capitals of the columns that were in the audience chamber of Qays: in the mosque there was no column with gilded capitals except for the ones which were in the chamber of Qays.  While the mosque was being demolished, Qurra had the ‘minbar’ [= the pulpit] carried to Qaysāriyyat al-Asal, where the people went to pray and to gather for Friday prayers until he had completed the construction of the mosque.  The dome was left at al-Qaysāriyyah until that time.

4. Al-Walid planned to rebuild the mosque, which was in Damascus, and he therefore summoned the Christians, telling them: “We want to expand our mosque annexing to it your church, i.e. the church of St. John” – it was in fact an extremely beautiful church, and there was none like it in all of Syria – “We will give you enough money to build wherever you like a church equal to it.  If you want we will give you as a price in exchange for it forty thousand dinars”.  But Christians refused saying: “We have a pact of security,” and so saying they exhibited a letter of Khalid ibn al-Walid.  Al-Walid was angry, stood up and with one hand he broke a piece of timber and with the other a brick, so ​​that the people began the demolition, following his example.  So it was that they extended the eastern part of the mosque and the whole ‘maqsūrah’, taking the material from the church which was left as it is today.  In the third year of his caliphate there was made patriarch of Jerusalem Theodore.  He held the office for thirty-five years and died.  In his day Justinian was king of the Rum.  He reigned six years and died.

5. Al-Walid ibn ‘Abd al-Malik died in the month of ğumādà al-Akhar in the ninety-sixth year of the Hegira, at the age of forty-three years.  He was of perfect stature, he had a thick and graying beard.  He was buried in Damascus.  The leader of his bodyguard was Ka’b ibn Hazim al-Absi and his ‘hāgib’ the freedman Sa’d.


1. The bay’ah was given to Suleiman ibn Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan – his mother was Wallada, daughter of al-Abbas ibn al-Bahri al-Absi -, in the month of gumādà al-akhar in the ninety-sixth year of the Hegira.  He ruled two years and six months.

2. In his day Philip was king of the Rum.  He was a Maronite.  He reigned two and a half years.  In Egypt the kharag was being received in the name of Suleiman ibn Abd al-Malik, by Osama ibn Zayd at-Tanūkhi.  Osama wrote to Suleiman to inform him that the Nilometer built by Abd al-‘Aziz ibn Marwan at Hulwān to measure the level of the water was out of order.  [The Caliph] answered him, ordering him to build a hydrometer in the island which was in the river near Fustat and Giza.  Osama built the Nilometer which is at the entrance of Giza, which is the one still in operation today and they call “al-qadim” [= the old], in the ninety-seventh year of the Hegira.  In the third year of the caliphate of Suleiman Stephen was made Patriarch of Antioch.  He held the office for thirty-seven years and died.

3. Suleiman ibn Abd al-Malik died in the month of Safar in the ninety-ninth year of the Hegira, at the age of thirty-nine, nominating as his successor Omar ibn Abd al-Aziz.  He was handsome, plump and had a black beard.  The leader of his bodyguard was Ka’b ibn Khalid al-Absi and his hāgìb the freedman Abu Obayda.


The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18g – the reigns of Yazid and Marwan I

Eutychius does not seem to know that much about the next two Ummayad caliphs, so I include both of their short entries here.


1. The bay’ah was given to Yazid ibn Mu’awiya  b. Abi Sufyan – his mother was Maysūr, daughter of Yahdak al-Kalbi -, in the month of Ragab in the sixtieth year of the Hegira.  At Karbalah, in Iraq, on the tenth of the month of al-Muharram of the sixty-first year of the Hegira, at the age of sixty-three years old, al-Husayn, son of Ali ibn Abi Talib was killed.  His head was taken to Damascus and carried around the city.  After the killing of al-Husayn, son of Ali ibn Abi Talib, there rose up at Mecca Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr b. al-Gharrām, who proclaimed himself caliph, – his mother was Asma, the daughter of Abu Bakr, the just – This was the beginning of his rebellion.

2. Yazid ibn Mu’awiya died after three years and eight months of his caliphate. After him there ruled, for only forty days, his son Yazid ibn Mu’awiya b. Mu’awiya .  The leaders of his bodyguard were first Hamid ibn Kharba b. Yahdak al-Kalbi and then Amir ibn Abd Allah al-Hamdani.  His ‘hagib‘ was the freedman Safwan.


1. The bay’ah was given to Marwan ibn al-Hakam b. Abi’l-`Ās b. Umayya b. Abd Shams – his mother was Amina, daughter of Alqama Safwan ibn al-Kināni -. in the month of Ragab in the sixty-fourth year of the Hegira, while Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr continued his well-fortified opposition at Mecca.  Neither the inhabitants of Damascus nor those of Palestine could make a pilgrimage to Mecca because Marwan ibn al-Hakam had forbidden them to, because of Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr.  Then there was the battle of Marg-Rahit with ad-Dahhak ibn Qays al-Fahri.

2. Marwan ibn al-Hakam died in the month of Rabi al-awwal in the sixty-fifth year [of the Hegira].  He was caliph for nine months and died at the age of sixty-one.  He was tall, tanned and had blue eyes.  He was buried in Damascus.  The leader of his bodyguard was Yahya ibn Qays al-Assāni and his hagib was Abu Sahl al-Aswad, the freedman of his mother.


The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18f – the reign of Muawiyah

The murder of Ali ends the rule of the companions of Mohammed and ushers in the reign of the first of the Ummayad dynasty.

Caliphate of Muawiyah I (41-60 / 661-680)

1. Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyān advanced from Syria into Iraq and was [there] given the bay‘ah.[1]  His name was Sakhr ibn Harb b. Umayya b. Abd Shams.  Mu’awiya’s mother was Hind, daughter of Utba ibn Rabi`a b. Abd Shams [b. Abd Manaf].  His appointment as caliph occurred in the month of rabi` al-awwal in the forty-first year of the Hegira, in the tenth year of the reign of Constantine, the son of Constantine, King of Rum.  He ruled for nineteen years and five months.

2. In the second year of his caliphate there was made patriarch of Constantinople George.  He held the office for ten years and he died.  In his second year in office there was the Sixth Council.  The Patriarch of Rome was then Martin, and the Exarch who ruled the West in the name of King Constantine, was a man named Constans.  He was a Maronite and put pressure on Martin, patriarch of Rome to profess that doctrine.  But Martin refused energetically and Constans banished him to a remote town.

3. There lived in those days a holy monk named Maximus, who had two disciples.  He went to the exarch Constans, reproached him with the indecency of his doctrine and of his religion and showed him how horrible was his faith and how stubborn his wickedness.  Constans then took Maximus, cut off his hands and feet, tore out his tongue, and banished him to a remote place.  He then took one of his disciples and treated him the same way, while the other he had flogged; then he exiled them to remote places, far away from each other.  After treating in this way the patriarch Martin, Maximus and his two disciples, Constans made patriarch of Rome a man of eminent virtues named Diyūnus.  When the orthodox King Constantine learned of the death of Theodore, patriarch of Rome, and what Constans had done to the patriarch Martin, to the monk Maximus and his two disciples, as well as the appointment of Diyūnus as Patriarch of Rome, he disapproved of what had happened and sent a letter to the patriarch accompanied with a ‘sigilius’, asking him to send to him the most distinguished bishops who participated with him at the same altar, assuring him that he need not be afraid of anything.  Constantine did this because he knew the cause of these excuses contrary to the doctrine of the church and who had originated them, just as the council of the holy Fathers had anathematized those who were not found worthy.

4. The king’s messenger arrived in Rome and found that Diyūnus was dead.  There had been made Patriarch of Rome, after him, Aghābiyūs.  So he gave the letter to the patriarch Aghābiyūs.  Aghābiyūs convoked the bishops.  They were around one hundred and twenty, and he sent them with the messenger from the king along with three deacons who communicated at his own altar.  And they came to Constantinople, the bishops were received by King Constantine, made him their greetings and blessings.  Constantine summoned [another] hundred and sixty eight bishops, and so there were around two hundred and ninety-two.  The three deacons sent by Aghābiyūs, patriarch of Rome, were subtracted and there remained two hundred and ninety bishops.  They are mentioned thus in the diptych.  By the help of the goodness of God and by the elevation of the meekness of Constantine the orthodox king, this issue was resolved with a judgment against the Monothelites, who were anathematised.  There presided at this holy synod George, patriarch of Constantinople, and Theophanes, patriarch of Antioch, who was made Patriarch at that council as Macarius, his predecessor, was excommunicated at the council itself.  Alexandria and Jerusalem had at that time no patriarch and the two sees were vacant.  Anathematised were Macarius, Macedonius and George, patriarchs of Antioch, and Stephen, a disciple of Macarius; also excommunicated were Cyrus and Peter, patriarchs of Alexandria; excommunicated was Honorius, Patriarch of Rome; excommunicated were Sergius, Tūdrus, Paul and Peter, the patriarchs of Constantinople, Theodore, bishop of Faran, and Blūkhrūniyūs, called Simon Magus, because he was a heretical Syrian priest who claimed to have seen Christ tell him in a dream that the Monothelites were in the right.  At that time he was present at Constantinople, after the final ruling against the Monothelites was published, and he had started talking about what he had seen in a dream, advocating the cause of the Monothelites.  They excommunicated him so he and his followers rejected the false allegations and the people called him Simon Magus.  They finished pronouncing the anathemas against the Monothelites, continued sitting, and settled what was the true faith, orthodox, pure and blameless saying: “We believe in the One of the Trinity, the Only-begotten Son, who is the eternal and everlasting Word, equal to the Father, God in one person, and in a unique hypostasis, must be considered perfect in humanity and perfect in divinity, in substance that is our Lord Jesus Christ, with two perfect natures, two operations and two wills in one person.”  Also they professed what was already professed by the Council of Chalcedon namely that God’s Son received by the holy virgin Martmaryam a human body with a rational soul and intellect, by the mercy of God who loves men, without suffering mixture nor corruption nor separation or division, but remaining one in doing both what man does in his nature and in his doing what God does in his nature.  He is the only begotten Son, the eternal Word who became flesh and truly took shape, as the Holy Gospel, without losing any of his eternal glory and without changing it, but keeping it integrated in two operations, two wills and two natures, God and Man in which is perfected the discourse of truth.  And each of the two natures work in communion with the other, with two wills not contrary or opposed to each other, but the human will remaining in accord with the omnipotent divine will.  If the Word of God in the act of incarnation had not become a perfect man in every part, our salvation would be a phantasm and a shadow.  How could the doer of good, the wise doctor who truly heals, as the prophet Malachi says: “He will stand as the sun of justice for those who fear the name, will heal them and carry them on his wings”, take upon himself the ancient defeat of the created and consent that in his power, in his will and in his power there was the first sin of man?  And as this was done without any compulsion, we see the Lord who is the object of the Father’s pleasure, the Son who alone is free, not a slave but who even became a servant for our salvation, giving us victory over those who were vainly uttering and saying that Adam sinned by necessity, that his sin did not depend at all on his own will and that his nature did not have a free power with which prevent it from falling.  With these their words, the proponents of this doctrine, in particular, and all those who share it, trace the sin and the lack to God the Creator – who is immensely beyond anything – and justify Adam in his sin.  Indeed, according to this their doctrine, the whole human race continues to sin, because it is forced to.  We, however, maintain that Adam was able to observe the commandment of his Creator and could also reject the advice of the woman, but he would not do so;  he accepted and ate the fruit picked from the tree and that the woman handed him with her hand, and the woman accepted the advice of the snake not under constraint by nature, but because of weakness of mind.  It was the greed of the will on the part of the first two creatures, i.e. Adam and Eve, to provoke that from which they obtained the painful wound and at the same time the healing, because our Lord Jesus Christ took upon himself our infirmities and our sorrows, as said the prophet Isaiah: “We saw him and he had no form or comeliness and was despised and cast aside, he shared our infirmities and took our sorrows, he through whose wounds we were all healed.  Because like a sheep he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and he stood silent before the shearers, but in his humiliation his judgment was exalted.”  Understand, now, children of the church of God, what is the true doctrine, and that is that Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, has two perfect natures, two wills and two operations in what is actually one person.

This is the profession and the symbol of faith of the sixth council. In it [the Fathers] confirmed what was established by the five previous holy councils, anathematising those whom they had excommunicated and driving [out of the church] the ones that they had driven out.  They set forth the doctrine of Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, welcomed this and confirmed it.

All these things were accomplished with the help of God and the presence of the orthodox King Constantine.  They invoked God for him, and then everyone returned to their own homes.  This was the thirteenth year of the reign of Constantine, the fourth year of the caliphate of Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyān. From the fifth council, in which there was one hundred and sixty bishops gathered in Constantinople in the time of Justinian, the king of Rum, to this sixth council of two hundred and ninety bishops gathered in Constantinople in the time of Constantine, King of Rum, there had passed a hundred years.  Since this controversy had its own epilogue at the time of S. Aghābiyūs, patriarch of Rome, the inhabitants of Syria and Egypt since then took to mentioning the name of Aghābiyūs, patriarch of Rome, in their diptychs, which today they still do.

5. Constantine, the orthodox King, died after a reign of sixteen years.  After him reigned over Rum his son Justinian for twelve years.  This happened in the eighth year of the caliphate of Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyān.  There were presented to Justinian, king of Rum, some people saying: “In the city there are those who find fault with the Sixth Council which your father Constantine kept to, and assert that it is void.”  Justinian then summoned hundred and thirty bishops, confirmed what the sixth council had asserted and anathematised those who resumed and contradicted the decisions; also they confirmed what was claimed by the previous five councils, they excommunicated those whom [the bishops of such councils] had already excommunicated and they returned each to his own home.  In the seventh year of the Caliphate of Mu’awiya there was made patriarch of Jerusalem, John.  He held the office forty years and died.  From the death of Sophronius to the appointment of John the see of Jerusalem was left without a Patriarch for twenty-nine years.  After ten years in office there also died George, the patriarch of Constantinople.  In the twelfth year of the caliphate of Mu’awiya there was made patriarch of Constantinople Thomas.  He held the office for ten years (in another text it says “twenty”) and died.  In the twenty-third year of the caliphate of Mu’awiya, Maslama ibn Mukhallad al-Ansāri added the minaret to the structure of the mosque of Fustat, built by Amr ibn al-As, putting his name on it.  During the caliphate of Mu’awiya the island of Rhodes was captured and taken from the Rum.  Also during his caliphate, in the fiftieth year of the Hegira, there was a solar eclipse so intense that you could see the stars.

6. Muawiya ibn Abi Sufyān died in the month of Ragab in the sixtieth year of the Hegira, at the age of eighty years.  Mu’awiya was obese, had a big posterior, and was short of stature; he had a stentorian voice, bulging eyes, a wide chest and a thick beard which he dyed with visto (?)[2].  He was buried in Damascus.  The leaders of his bodyguard were first Yazid ibn al-Hurr al-Ansi, then Qays ibn Hamza al-Hamdāni, then ad-Dahhak ibn Qays al-Fahri. His ‘hāgib’ was the freedman Riyah.

  1. [1]Islamic oath of allegiance.  The sense is that the Muslims swore allegiance to Muawiyah.
  2. [2]I don’t know what this Italian means: “ed una folta barba che tingeva di visto”?

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18e – the reign of Ali

The murder of Omar was followed by the murder of Othman.  The next caliph, Ali, was unable to master the large realm that he had inherited and was swiftly murdered also.

Caliphate of Ali ibn Abi Talib (35-40 / 656-661)

1. After Othman there was made caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib b. Abd al-Muttalib b. Hashim b. Abd Manaf – his mother was Fatimah, daughter of Asad ibn Hashim b. Abd Manaf – in the month of Dhu’l-hiğğa in the thirty-fourth year of the Hegira, in the fourth year of the reign of Constantine, the son of Constantine.  He then went to Basra and the battle of the Camel took place.  Then he went to Kufa, aimed at Syria and the battle of Siffin took place there. He returned and there took place the battle of al-Khazrawiyyah, in Nahrawan.  He returned to Kufa, where he was killed by Abd ar-Rahman ibn al-Mulğam al-Muzadi, ten days before the end of the month of Ramadan of the fortieth year of the Hegira.  He was killed at the age of sixty-three years.  The funeral prayer was held by his son al-Hasan.  His caliphate lasted four years and ten months.  He was of a dark complexion, with a big belly and he had a bushy beard that touched his chest.  Gray hairs had in no way altered his features.  He was buried in al-Ghariyyān, others say in an-Nawbah: it is in fact uncertain where he was buried.  The head of his bodyguard was Ma’qil Qaysi ibn az-Zibāgi, and his ‘hāgib’ was the freedman Qanbar.


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

After the  murder of Omar, the Muslims elect Othman. The Muslim conquests continue.  The Byzantines don’t make much resistance, apparently.  Othman too is murdered after drawing up an edition of the Koran and destroying all the other copies.

Lots of theological letters in this section of Eutychius.  We also see the appearance of “Misr” for the first time – Cairo.

Caliphate of Othman ibn Affan (23-35 / 644-656)

1.  Othman ibn’ Affari b. Abi’l-‘As b. Umayya b. Abd Shams was made Caliph – his mother was Umayyah bint Kawbarā b. Rabi’a – three days after the death of Omar, at the turn of the month of Dhul-hiğğa.  His caliphate began in the new moon of the month of al-Muharram, in the twenty-fourth year of the Hegira, the twenty-fourth year of the reign of Heraclius, King of Rum.  He held the caliphate for twelve years.  In the third year of his caliphate George was made by Patriarch of Antioch.  He was a Maronite.  He settled in Constantinople and remained there five years without ever going to Antioch.  He died in Constantinople and was buried there.  In the tenth year of his caliphate Macarius was made patriarch of Antioch.  He was a Maronite.  He was invested with the office in Constantinople and remained there for eight years and never entered Antioch.  He died and was buried in Constantinople.  In the ninth year of his caliphate Peter was made Patriarch of Constantinople.  He was a Maronite.  He held the office for six years and died.  In the fourth year of his caliphate Peter was made Patriarch of Alexandria.  He was a Maronite.  He held the office nine years and died.  In the eighth year of his caliphate died Honorius, patriarch of Rome, who had professed the doctrine of Maron, thus giving rise to different opinions within the church.  After his death a man named Sadinus was chosen and was made patriarch of Rome.  He held the office for six months and died.  After his death a man of proven virtue named John was chosen.  Made aware of the origin of the doubts that were snaking about within the church – the sovereigns of Constantinople were then Heraclius and his brother Constantine – the Patriarch John wrote them a letter in which he passed under review the reasons for such doubts, taking the side of his predecessor Honorius, patriarch of Rome.  The letter began:

2. “Pope John, Patriarch of Rome, to Heraclius and Constantine, ruling brothers, to whom are entrusted the church of Christ, true God, whose light appeared in the darkness, who has delivered us from the power of darkness with his wonderful light, the light of truth uncontaminated by any darkness, so that with the blood of his cross peace is restored between heaven and earth, who ever guards his church.  It is given to you, O emperors, to ensure that in his church are raised the best and noblest invocations and that people believe according to the perfect faith and stay close to him.  Something has happened that it is necessary to set forth, for him to understand who loves and cultivates justice, so that the truth can shine again as brightly as it once did.  I have come to know the state of the controversy, also, and the doubts that are circulating in the West.  I received news of all of this by a letter of our brother Honorius, Patriarch of Constantinople, and from others.  And it is our duty to explain how things are, because He knows everything.  The beginning of the story is this.  About eighteen years ago Cyrus, Patriarch of Alexandria, professed the doctrine of Maron, according to which in Christ, our Lord, there are two natures, one will and one operation.  He heard about Sophronius, who became Patriarch of Jerusalem, who disputed with him, getting the better with his arguments.  Then Sophronius went to Sergius, Patriarch of Constantinople, and perceived that he spoke the same way as Cyrus, affirming also that Honorius, patriarch of Rome, professed his doctrine.  From Constantinople Sophronius went to Jerusalem.  Later when he became Patriarch of Jerusalem – it was in fact because of the righteousness of his faith that the inhabitants of Jerusalem made him Patriarch of Jerusalem – he wrote a book on the faith that was welcomed by the people of this world.  When Honorius, patriarch of Rome, heard this and that Sergius, Patriarch of Constantinople, had lied about him [Honorius], saying that he [Honorius] was a Maronite, he wrote a letter in which he said: ‘Our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the source of life, was born without sin, because the eternal Word, by whom all things were made, coming down from heaven, he took a body from the Virgin Mary and became like us as to the nature, but not in the will of sinners.  Because Paul says that he took the similitude of us sinners, i.e. the body, without sin, with a rational soul and intellect.  And similarly, he was pleased to take the single will for his humanity, not as we know it, who have two contrary wills, one of which is centred in the intellect and the other in the body, opposed to each other, which takes place in every human being who is subject to sin, and because none [of us] is exempt from the sin of rebellion.  But the body of Christ, our Lord, did not in itself have two contrary wills nor was the will of his intellect contrary to the will of his body and he who had come to take away the sin of the world had no sin.  Away from him be such a thing!  In Christ our Lord there was never sin, not even one, either in his birth or in his incarnation.  We profess and confirm that there was only one will to which was conformed his sacred humanity, and we do not accept at all that there were in him two contrary wills, one in his intellect and the other in his body”.  So wrote Honorius, patriarch of Rome, to Sergius, the patriarch of Constantinople.

Now, with regard to our own natures, we recognize two contrary wills, the intellect and the body, and some, bending this fact to their fallacious doctrines, thought that Honorius, patriarch of Rome, was saying that there was one and the same will in the divinity and humanity of Christ our Lord.  Now I ask those who advocate this doctrine:  “In what nature can we say that Christ God had only one will?  If only in his divinity, then his humanity had no will, so therefore he was not a perfect man.  If they say that this will alone was in the humanity of Christ, we ask them: “How could he then be perfect God?”  And if you respond that there are two natures with one will, this would not be possible at all.  We profess the incarnation of Christ and therefore we do not deny the two wills of his two natures, nor alter in any way the peculiarities of each of them.  But let’s say that each of the two natures of Christ, the incarnation of the one and only person, has a will.  We do not say that there are two persons, like the much-execrated Nestorius [said].  As for those who claim to be two natures and one will, common to the deity and humanity of Christ, and a single operation, well they are known to be in error, like the maligned Marone.  As for those who claim there to be one nature, one will and one operation, well we also know that they are in error, like the execrated Eutyches, Dioscorus and Severus, since this is the doctrine of the Jacobites.  But sound and manifest doctrine is that which [our] masters professed, namely that in Christ our Lord there are two natures, two wills and two operations in one person, for it is impossible that one who has two natures can have only one will.  If he had only one will, he would also have only one nature.  But if he has two natures then he must have also two wills.  We therefore ask you to tear up the parchment in which are accused Leo, patriarch of Rome, and the council of Chalcedon, so that it is not widely read and not understood in the hands of weak minds so as to shake their faith. We ask Christ our Lord to look upon you with his mercy, his forgiveness and his help and to subdue the nations with his invincible strength.”

3. When John, patriarch of Rome, had thus finished his letter, he affixed his seal and sent it by entrusting it to a remarkable man named Barsiqā, archdeacon of the Church of Rome.  He went to the sovereigns Heraclius and Constantine, but he found that Constantine had died.  The ministers and army generals revolted against Heraclius, and killed him, because they thought that he was the cause of the disaster that had hit them – they had indeed lost Egypt and Syria – and also because he was a Maronite.  In his place they elected king the son of the late brother Constantine and called him Constantine, with the name of his father.  This was in the eighth year of the Caliphate of Othman.  This new king, Constantine, was a godly man.  When Barsiqā handed him the letter of John, Patriarch of Rome, the king took it, read it and was amazed at the insight of the Patriarch of Rome.  Then he ordered that his answer should be written in these terms:

4. “We welcome, Your Excellent Holiness, your instruction.  We profess and believe in Christ our Lord there are two natures, two wills, two operations and a single person and anathematise anyone who dares contradict anything.  We also believe in what the Six hundred and thirty bishops gathered in Chalcedon said, and anathematise anyone who dares act against them.  We have complied with the order that you gave to tear up the parchment where is slandered Leo, the holy patriarch of Rome, and the Council of Chalcedon, and we gave it to the fire.  We remain steadfast in your teaching, which is the teaching of truth, and ask that you invoke upon us salvation, and preservation from every calamity.”

5. Barsiqā set off, carrying the letter of King Constantine in order to hand it over to John, patriarch of Rome, in response to his letter.  When he arrived in Rome, he found that the patriarch John was now dead and in his place had come a man of proven virtue named Theodore.  Barsiqā presented himself, let him know what the king had willingly accepted, informed him of his orthodoxy and handed him the letter that King Constantine sent him in response to the letter that John had sent to the two sovereigns.  The Patriarch Theodore took it, read it and remained comfortable with the orthodoxy of the king.  He answered him in these terms:

6.  “To King Constantine, singularly faithful to pure orthodoxy, from the patriarch of Rome, Theodore.  Almighty God, who protects his church, gave us the economy of his mercy by the event of your orthodox faith and has given us the opportunity to talk to you with joy and fervour in order to manifest this grace.  Because you have received your authority as vicars of the holy Apostles in order to defend orthodoxy and make manifest the true religion, not as Heraclius did who does not deserve to be called King because of his wickedness, and to be left out of the truth, nor as Sergius, Honorius, Paul and Peter, the patriarchs of Constantinople, who opposed the truth making themselves worthy of anathema, and that they deserved to be deprived of the place they occupied within the church, for the falsity of their doctrine and for the doubts that they spread among the people.  As for you, most excellent king, know that the true orthodox faith is the fruit of paradise and it is your job, most excellent king, to protect it, fight for it and make it manifest to the people.  We ask this through Christ our Lord to grant this with his blessing by his generosity.”  Patriarch Theodore affixed his seal to the letter and sent it to King Constantine in response to the letter he had sent to John, patriarch of Rome.  When he received the letter, King Constantine felt great pain to learn the news of John’s death.  Then he opened the letter and remained extremely pleased with the response that the patriarch Theodore gave him in place of the deceased John.  Then he ordered a reply.  When the king’s messenger came to Rome, he found that Theodore had died and that Martin had been made Patriarch of Rome.

7. In the time of Othman ibn Affan, King Constantine sent an eunuch named Manuel with a large army by sea and captured Alexandria.  Amr ibn al-As was at Misr [i.e. Cairo].  Amr ibn al-As came out against him accompanied by the Copts and other people of Misr.  Al-Muqawqas was with them who provided them money, housing, weapons and provisions.  They met at the gates of Alexandria in a furious battle carried on fighting for several days.  Eventually the eunuch Manuel fled along with all the Rum that were with him, they embarked and returned to Constantinople.

8. During the times of Othman ibn Affan were conquered Africa, Armenia and Khurasan.  Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan ruled Damascus in the name of Othman ibn Affan.  Mu’awiya made a pact of friendship with the people of Cyprus in the twenty-eighth year of the Hegira, the fourth year of the caliphate of Othman ibn Affan, for a tribute of seven thousand, two hundred dinars to be paid to Muslims each year, forever.  The same amount they gave to the king of Rum. Othman had the Koran drawn up, beginning with the longest suras and ending with the shorter ones;  he had seven copies made and ordered the destruction of all the others.  This was in the thirtieth year of the Hegira.  The people revolted against Othman ibn Affan and he was killed.  Those who killed him were Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, Ammar ibn Yasir and Kinana ibn Bishr, on the eighth day of Dhul-hiğğa (others say “the eighteenth of Dhu’l-higğa”) in the thirty-fifth year of the Hegira.  He was eighty years old.  They buried him three days later.  He was of medium height, handsome of face, dark, had a thick and braided beard, and his teeth were linked together with gold frames.  His influential adviser was Marwan ibn al-Hakam.  He was buried in Medina in a place called ‘gisr Kawkab’.  The head of his bodyguard was Abdullah ibn Fahd al-Adawī and his ‘hāgib’  was the freedman Hamdan.


The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18c (part 9)

The Arab conquest of Egypt continues the story of the reign of Omar.  The small bands of Arabs naturally see their conquest of Egypt as merely a chance to loot. But faced with the enormous wealth of Egypt, Omar realises that if he can extract protection money on a continuing basis, this would be better for him than simply ruining the place.  The Egyptian corn supply is now diverted to Medina, and the ancient canal to the Red Sea is dug out again to make this easier.  Then the Muslims continue west, capturing Tripoli in Libya.  Meanwhile Omar’s reign comes to a sudden end when he is murdered while at the morning prayers.

15. After occupying Alexandria, Amr ibn al-As pursued the Rum who had retreated into the desert.  Then the Rum who had fled by sea returned to Alexandria and killed the Muslims who were there.  Hearing this, Amr ibn al-As hastily returned to Alexandria.  He engaged in a fierce battle at the citadel, but finally captured it and the Rum fled again by ship.  Amr ibn al-As then wrote to Omar ibn al-Khattab saying:  “I have conquered a city, but I will not describe here what is found there.  I will tell you only that I have found there four temples, four baths, forty thousand Jews who pay the personal tribute, four palaces for kings and twelve thousand sellers of fresh green vegetables.  I conquered by force without any promise of peace.”  In the letter he let him know that the Muslims were asking to divide up these things.  Omar ibn al-Khattab replied, condemning this opinion, and ordered him not to sack the city or to divide up what was there, and to provide that the proceeds of the kharag (Islamic land-tax) would serve as a strength and sustenance for Muslims in the Holy War against their enemies.  Amr then left the city as he had found it, he counted the villages and imposed on them the kharag.  All Egypt was placed under the protection of Muslims in exchange for two dinars kharag for every man, without anyone being asked more for his person, unless it was someone who possessed more: in which case he was taxed in proportion to the lands and the cultivated fields that he possessed.  The people of Alexandria were treated differently: they would have to pay the property tax as well as the personal tax that would have been asked by their administrators, because Alexandria had been conquered through war without any promise and no covenant, since there was no treaty or guarantee with its inhabitants.  Alexandria was captured on Friday the new moon of the month of Muharram in the year twenty of the Hegira, in the twentieth year of the reign of Heraclius, the eighth year of the caliphate of Omar ibn al-Khattab.

Amr ibn al-As sent Uqba ibn Nafi, who went as far as to Zawīlah.  The territory between Barqah and Zawīlah became a territory of the Muslims.  At that time none of the collectors of poll tax came to Barqah because people sent in their own personal tribute at the appropriate time.

In those days a severe food shortage fell upon the inhabitants of Medina.  Omar ibn al-Khattab then wrote to Amr ibn al-As, informing him of the state of collapse and famine in which the people were struggling.  Amr sent camels laden with flour.  The caravan was an  uninterrupted line: when the first camel arrived in Medina the last one was still in Egypt.  Omar ibn al-Khattab wrote to Amr ibn al-As to dig out a channel to reach the Red Sea, so as to make the wheat transport easier.  Amr then ordered a canal dug, which is in the territory of al-Qantarah, known by the name of the Canal of the Prince of the Believers.  The boats transported wheat, barley and cereals from al-Fustat to the Red Sea through the canal, and from the Red Sea to Medina.

16.  Amr ibn al-As then conquered Tripoli in Africa, in the twenty-second year of the Hegira, the twenty-second of the reign of Heraclius and tenth of the caliphate of Omar ibn al-Khattab.  In Fustat in Egypt Amr constructed the great mosque.

17.  Omar ibn al-Khattab was murdered at Medina, while he was at the morning prayer.  He was killed by Abu Lu’lu’a, the slave of Ibn al-Mughira Shu’ba, on the twenty-seventh of the month of Dhul-hiğğa, in the twenty-third year of the Hegira, the twenty-third year of the reign of Heraclius.  He was sixty-three.  He had delegated the election of his successor to a committee consisting of six companions of Muhammad, i.e. of Othman ibn Affan, Ali ibn Abi Talib, Talha, az-Zubayr ibn al-Arrām,  Abd ar-Rahman ibn Urf az-Zahri and Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas.  The funeral prayer was recited by Suhayb ar-Rumi and he was buried in the house where Muhammad had been buried.  His caliphate lasted ten years and nine months.  During his caliphate Omar made the pilgrimage to Mecca nine times.  He was of a reddish complexion, left-handed, bald, and his hair and beard were dyed with henna.  The head of his bodyguard was Abd Allah ibn Abbas and his hāgib was the freedman Barqa.


The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18c (part 8)

The Muslims capture Babylon fortress; but the fighting between the Arab force and the Roman force takes them both all over the place. Eventually the Muslims have to besiege Alexandria. 

13. ‘Ubāda ibn as-Samit then returned to Amr ibn al-As and made him aware of what had happened.  When the Muslims heard that there were only a few men in the citadel, they moved the field of action to the area that is now known by the name of  Souq al-Hammam, and subjected the citadel to catapult and ballista fire.  Az-Zubayr leaned a ladder againt the side of the citadel on the side of Souq al-Hammam and climbed up.  No one noticed until az-Zubayr was on top of the citadel, and shouted ‘Allahu Akbar!’  Others were already climbing up the ladder.  The Rum stopped fighting, they embarked [on ships] and joined their companions on the island.  The Muslims conquered the citadel, killing and making prisoners, and obtained great spoil.  When the Rum realized what al-Muqawqas had done, namely, that he had betrayed them and had made them go out of the citadel, delivering it to the Muslims, they were afraid, they embarked, and went off to Karm Sharik.  Al-Muqawqas later had an interview with Amr ibn al-As to enter into a communal agreement and agreed that all the Copts of Egypt, of Upper and Lower Egypt, would pay two dinars per head as a personal tribute, whether they were nobles or commoners, as long as they were adults.  The old, boys still not grown up, and women were not required to pay anything.

14. They then made a census of the Copts, especially of those who were required to pay the tribute.  The number counted was six thousand men and the tribute to be levied was therefore estimated at twelve thousand dinars.  [Amr] therefore commanded them to pay these dinars in exchange for the protection that had been granted to them.  Then al-Muqawqas went to Amr ibn al-As and said: “With the Rum I have nothing to do, my religion is not their religion nor is my doctrine the same as theirs.  I was just afraid that they would kill me, so I kept hidden from them my religion and my doctrine, taking care not to leak such a thing.  However, I have to ask you three things.”  Amr said:  “And what would they be?” He answered: “First, do not separate me from the Copts, consider me one of them and even impose on me what you impose on them because we decided this by mutual agreement and I am their guarantor.  The Copts will observe the covenant which you have made with their friendship and with which you engaged with them.  Second, if in the future the Rum ask you to make friends with them, do not do it until you have destroyed them and reduced them to slavery, because they deserve it.  Third, when I am dead, command them to bury me in the Abu Yūkhannas church in Alexandria.”  Amr gave him what he asked, provided that he undertook to repair both the bridges, to shoulder the burden of building houses and refreshment stations, and markets, and to build bridges in all the territory between Fustat and Alexandria.  And so they did.  In fact, the leaders of the Copts gathered their men, they repaired the road, and they built for them bridges, markets and houses.  The Copts were then of great help to the Muslims in the war against the Rum.  Amr then departed attacking the Rum at Karm Sharik.  They fought for three days.  Eventually the Rum retreated to escape, and they clashed again at Salstas, where they fought for nineteen days, then at al-Karyūn where they fought bitterly.  The Rum were defeated and fled back to Alexandria where they entrenched.  The Arabs then became like lions and continued to fight against the inhabitants of Alexandria without giving respite and harshly.  The Rum made sorties from the gates every day and engaged in battle.  Many were those on both sides who were left on the field.  One day the fighting was so violent that the Arabs were able to storm the citadel of Alexandria engaging in fierce combat with those who were there.  But the Rum managed to contain the onslaught and expelled them all from the citadel, making prisoners of Amr ibn al-As, Maslama ibn Mukhallad, Wardan, the freedman of Amr, and another man.  The Rum, however, did not know who they were.  The patrician told them: “You are now our prisoners, tell us what you want from us”.  Amr said to them: “Either embrace our religion or pay us the personal tribute, or we will not cease fighting you until you or we are destroyed.”  Then a Byzantine said to the patrician: “I have the impression that this man is their leader; kill him.”  He alluded to Amr ibn al-As.  Wardan understood what he said, because he knew Greek.  So he seized Amr violently and gave him a slap, saying,  “Who are you to dare to talk like this to the presence of the leaders?  There is no one more vile and less important than you among the soldiers.  Leave it to others to talk and keep quiet.”  The patrician then said to himself:  “If this man were their commander, he would not allow anyone to yank him like that and slap him.”  Maslama ibn Mukhallad said: “Our prince had already decided to cease all fighting against you, and in fact the prince of believers, Omar ibn al-Khattab, had written to our commander, wanting to send you ten of our most prominent and wise leaders, so that we could reach, some kind of agreement with which all would be satisfied, and so we were left alone here.  We ask, therefore, if you are of this opinion, to let us go because returning to our commander we can report how humanely you have treated us, then send to him the ten leaders and everything stops between us and you, as pleases us and pleases you, and so leave you in peace.” The patrician thought that these words corresponded to the truth.  So he let them go free, hoping that the ten chiefs would present themselves.  He would have them killed, and then the Arabs would be at his mercy.  So he granted them permission to leave.  As soon as they were outside, Maslama said to Amr ibn al-As: “O Amr, you were saved by the slap of Wardan!” Then they shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ and the Rum, discovering that the prisoner was Amr himself, repented of letting him go.  Next [the Muslims] advanced, shouted out against the Rum, and engaged in a fierce battle.  The Rum were put to flight.  Some of them reached the sea and took ship, others took off into the desert.  The Muslims thus came into Alexandria after having besieged it for fourteen months.


The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18c (part 7)

The Islamic raiders have now reached Egypt, and approach Babylon fortress, on the Nile.  The bitter ideological infighting of the past century has left the country and its rulers at odds, and both hate the Emperor Heraclius. The Persian war has stripped the country of soldiers, and left societal bonds weakened.  So the Prefect of Egypt is willing to cut a deal for his own corrupt ends with the handful of tribal raiders before him. 

The “prefect al-Muqawqas” is not named by Eutychius, nor is his exact  office given, and for  good reasons.  In fact his name was Cyrus, the augustalis or viceroy, and, far from being a Jacobite, he was Eutychius’ predecessor as the Melkite patriarch from 628-643.  There is more about him in al-Tabari and Abu Salih.[1]

11. In Egypt the prefect al-Muqawqas was receiving the kharāğ[2] on behalf of King Heraclius.  He was a Jacobite and he hated the Rum.  But it had never crossed his mind to express his Jacobitism for fear of being killed.  He had also not sent to Constantinople the money that he had collected in Egypt during the siege of Constantinople by Kisra, and therefore he was afraid that, if he fell into the hands of King Heraclius, he would surely be put to death.  So he tried to deceive the Rum by saying to them:  “The Arabs have had reinforcements, we cannot do anything against them, and we will find no way out if they besiege us.  They will kill us for sure.  Let’s open the gates of the citadel, and gather the fighters, then go out from the citadel and get out onto the island.  There we will encamp and the sea will make us an effective defensive barrier.”  The Rum went out, with al-Muqawqas and a group of Coptic notables, from the southern gate of the citadel, while others stayed to fight against the Arabs.  They embarked on the boats, came onto the island – today a place of artisans – and cut the bridge that was used when the Nile flooded.  Then al-Muqawqas sent word to Amr ibn al-‘As and said:  “You came into our country and we have fought for a long time.  For too long a time you have now been in our territory.  You are surrounded by the Nile and you are prisoners at our mercy.  Send us therefore one of your men who is your representative so that we can hear what you have to say and maybe reach an agreement that satisfies us and you, and so put an end to this war. ”  When the messengers of al-Muqawqas presented themselves to Amr ibn al-As, he sent them back to al-Muqawqas along with Obaida ibn as-Samit.  Obaida was of black complexion.  When he came to al-Muqawqas, he led him to a seat and said:  “What do you want from us, now, tell us.”  Obaida replied:  “For how things are done between us, there are only three possibilities, and it’s up to you to choose the one you like the most.  This my chief has ordered me to repeat, and the prince of believers ordered him to say this.  You may embrace our religion, namely Islam, and in this case you will become our brothers, we shall be united in good as well as in bad times.  If you do this, we will stop fighting against you and will not let anyone do you harm or dare to go up against you.  If you refuse to do this, you will pay us the tribute that we deem convenient, every year and forever, and we will defend you from all those who attack or try to harass you by laying claim upon your territory, upon you and upon your property.  But if you accept our guarantee we will give you a deal which we deem legal.  If you refuse even this, there will be between us and you only the judgment of the sword.  We are all willing to die, to the last, in order to obtain what we want from you.”

Al-Muqawqas replied:  “To embrace your religion is not possible [for us];  I myself personally, and my Coptic friends, can agree to accept a peace pact, but the Rum have refused to agree to make peace with you, saying:  ‘We never do such a thing!'”Al-Muqawqas behaved in this manner because of treachery and deceit, in order to drive out the Rum from the citadel and then accept peace, in order to keep the money that he had collected.

  1. [1]See F. Nau, “La politique matrimoniale de Cyrus (le Mocaucas) patriarche melchite d’Alexandrie”, in Le Muséon 45 (1932), pp. 1-17.
  2. [2]Or kharaj – This is the name of the Islamic land tax, initially imposed only on non-Muslims.  In this content it means the land tax.