The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18c (part 6)

We continue the account of the reign of Omar.

10. When he arrived at Medina, Omar ibn al-Khattab wrote a letter to remove Amr ibn al-‘As from office in Palestine, ordering him to equip himself and leave for Egypt, and he appointed Mu‘āwiya ibn Abi Sufyān as governor of Ashkelon, Caesarea and Palestine. Mu’awiya and his forces occupied Caesarea and Ashkelon, in the seventh year of the caliphate of Omar ibn al-Khattab. Othman ibn Affan paid a visit to Omar ibn al-Khattab, and Omar said:  “I have written to Amr ibn al-‘As, telling him to leave Palestine and Caesarea.  I’ve ordered him to go to Egypt and assigned the governorship of Palestine and Caesarea to Mu‘āwiya ibn Abi Sufyān”.  Othman said to him: “You know, O prince of believers, that ‘Amr is a bold, and intrepid commander.  I fear that he may start recklessly and without enough men, and then expose the Muslims to ruin, in the hope of a few opportunities that might turn out as easily good as bad.”  Omar ibn al-Khattab regretted the letter that he had sent to Amr ibn al-‘As, and worried about what Othman had said.  So Omar ibn al-Khattab wrote another letter to Amr ibn al-‘As, saying:  “If this letter reaches you before you’re entered the province of Egypt, go back to where you were.  If you’ve already entered, carry on.”  The letter came to Amr while he was at Rafakh.  Fearing that it might be an order to retire, if he took and opened the letter, Amr would not take it from the hand of the messenger and brought him with him, and he continued on his way until he came to a village halfway between Rafakh and al-‘Arīsh.  He enquired about the place and they said:  “This village belongs to the province of Egypt.”  He then called the messenger, took delivery of the letter, read it in front of the Muslims who were with him and said to them:  “Do you not know that this village belongs to the province of Egypt?”  “Yes,” they replied.  Then Amr said:  “The prince of believers has ordered me to go back if this letter is delivered to me before I entered Egyptian territory, and to continue if this letter comes to me after entering Egyptian territory.  We will continue, therefore, with the blessing and help of Allah. ”  It is said, though, that Amr was in Palestine and continued with his men to enter Egypt without any authorization and that Omar wrote the letter before Amr was at al-‘Arish.  However, he kept hidden the letter and did not read it until he arrived at al-‘Arish, where he opened it, and he read as follows: “From Omar ibn al-Khattab to Amr ibn al-‘As.  You’ve left for Egypt with those who are with you.  In Egypt there are many Rum and you have with you only a small handful of men.  If you’re not yet in Egypt, come back.”  Amr said: “Glory to Allah, what territory is this?”  They answered:  “It is Egyptian territory”.  Then he advanced and carried on.  It is also said that Omar sent him to attack Caesarea, to give a hand to the soldiers who were besieging it, when Omar ibn al-Khattab was at al-Ğābiyah and that Omar wrote secretly to Amr to travel to Egypt.  Amr then marched on Egypt and gave orders to his men as if they were only moving from one place to another place nearby.  He moved with them at night.  Later the leaders of his men halted their work because they saw that he had exposed them dangerously, and after they realised this, they reported it to Omar ibn al-Khattab, who sent a letter to Amr ibn al-‘As in which he said:  “You have endangered the lives of those who are with you.  If my letter reaches you before you have entered Egypt, then go back where you were.  If you have already entered Egypt, go ahead, and know that I give you my support.”  Then he carried on, until he came to al-Farama, besieged it for a month and captured it.  Then he continued his march into Egypt.  The Rum were well reinforced in the citadel, they had dug a moat around in which they had placed iron bars, and held back the garrison troops to guard the citadel, so that for seven months they defended themselves strongly.  Because of the delay in taking the city, [Amr] wrote to Omar and asked him for reinforcements.  He sent him as assistance four thousand men, including az-Zubayr ibn al-‘Arrām, Obāda ibn as-Samit, and Maslama ibn Muqallad. Amr already had four thousand men with him, and so this became eight thousand.


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.


The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18c (part 4)

The discussion of the events of the Muslim conquest fills many a page of Eutychius.  I confess that it doesn’t excite me.  Much of the material seems written with an eye to the events, not of the 7th century, but of the 10th, and to safeguarding church property – always an important concern for senior clergy, whatever their creed – from Muslim encroachments. 

7.  Omar ibn al-Khattab then wrote to Amr ibn al-As to go with his army into Palestine, saying, among other things: “I have appointed Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan as governor of Damascus, Sarhabil ibn Hasana as governor of the territory of Jordan, and Abu Ubayda ibn al-Garrah as governor of Homs”.  Amr ibn al-As then left for Palestine, Sarhabil for the territories of Jordan and Abu Ubayda ibn al-Garrah went to Baalbek.  [The people of Baalbek] said: “We have no objection to making a covenant of friendship with you, in the same way as the inhabitants of Damascus did.”  He granted them a guarantee in writing and left for Homs.  Then he granted a written guarantee to the people of Aleppo and to every [other] town that asked him.  Then the news of the arrival of Omar ibn al-Khattab came to the muslims.  Abu Ubayda ibn al-Garrah left the command of his men to Iyas Ibn Ghanm; Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan left his to Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan, Amr ibn al-As to his son Abd Allah, and they met with Omar ibn al-Khattab.  Then they all set out for Jerusalem and besieged it.  Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, then went to Omar ibn al-Khattab.  Omar ibn al-Khattab granted him his protection, and wrote a letter to them which stated that: “In the name of God, gracious and merciful. From Omar ibn al-Khattab to the inhabitants of the city of Aelia.  A guarantee is granted on their persons, their children, their property and on their churches, and they will not be destroyed or be reduced to dwelling places” and he swore this in the name of Allah.  After the gate of the city was opened and he went in together with his men, Omar went to sit in the courtyard of the Church of the Resurrection.  When it was time for prayer, he said to the patriarch Sophronius: “I would like to pray.” The patriarch replied: “O prince of believers, you may pray as well just where you are.”  “I will not pray here,” said Omar.  Then the patriarch Constantine led him into the church and ordered mat to be laid in the middle of the church.  But Omar said: “No, I will not pray either.”  Omar then went out and walked to the step that was at the door of the Church of St. Constantine, on the east side.  He prayed alone on the steps, then he sat down and said to the patriarch Sophronius: “Do you know, O patriarch, why I have not prayed in the church?”  The patriarch replied: “I do not really know, O prince of the believers.”  “If I had prayed in the church,” said Omar, “it would have been taken away from you, and you would have lost possession because on my departure the Muslims would take it from you, saying in chorus: ‘Here Omar prayed'”.  Bring me a piece of paper so I can write you a ‘sigili'”.  Omar then wrote a ‘sigili’, prescribing that no Muslim should pray on the steps except one by one, and that ritual prayer could be held unless someone the muezzin ascended.  He wrote a ‘sigili’ and gave it to the Patriarch.  Then Omar said: “You owe me for your life and for the goods which I granted you.  Come, give me a place where I can build a mosque.” The Patriarch said: “Give to the prince of believers a place where he can build a temple that the king of Rum was not able to build.  This place is the Rock on which God spoke to Jacob and Jacob called “the gate of heaven”; the sons of Israel called it “Sancta Sanctorum” and it is at the center of the earth.  It was once the temple of the children of Israel, which they have always magnified and every time they prayed they turned their faces towards it, wherever they were.  This place will I give you, provided you write me a ‘sigili’ that no other mosque will be built in Jerusalem other than this”.

Omar ibn al-Khattab wrote him a ‘sigili’ and handed it to him.  When the Rum became Christians, and Helena, mother of Constantine, built churches in Jerusalem, the place of the Rock and its surroundings were lying in ruins and abandoned; on the Rock so much earth had been thrown and it was reduced to a huge garbage dump.  The Rum had totally neglected it, and not held it in high regard, as in fact had the children of Israel.  They had erected no church on it, because of what Christ, our Lord, had said in his holy gospel: “Behold, your house is left in ruins,” and again: “There will not remain one stone upon another that has not been demolished and destroyed”.  It was for this reason that the Christians left it in ruins and not built on there any church.  The patriarch Sophronius took Omar ibn al-Khattab by the hand and took him out to that place of refuse.  Omar lifted the hem of his robe, filled it with earth and poured it into the valley of Gehenna.  As soon as the Muslims saw Omar ibn al-Khattab take the earth in his lap, they all hastened to take the earth, each in his lap, or clothes, or shields, some in baskets of palm leaves and some in basins until they emptied the place, cleaned it up and the Rock became visible.  Then some of them said: “Let’s build the mosque so that the Rock is our qibla“.  But Omar said: “No, let’s build the mosque and leave the Rock out at the back”.  So Omar built the mosque, leaving the Rock at the rear of it.  Then Omar went on a visit to Bethlehem.  Now it was the time of prayer, and he prayed inside the church facing Mecca.  At this time it was all covered with mosaics.  Then Omar wrote a ‘sigili’ for the Patriarch which provided that Muslims would not pray in that place but in another.  He also forbade prayer in the church and the muezzin to call the faithful to prayer.  He also stipulated that no changes should be made to these provisions.  In these present days the Muslims have contravened the ‘sigili’ of Omar ibn al-Khattab.  They have removed the mosaics from the ceiling and have written what they wanted, they make communal prayer, and the muezzin is calling the faithful.  The same thing they have done at the step that was at the door of the Church of Constantine and on which Omar had prayed; they have appropriated the middle atrium of the church and have built inside it a mosque which they have called the mosque of “Omar”.  Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, died after having held the office four years.  After his death Jerusalem remained without a patriarch for twenty-nine years.


The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18c (part 3)

The reign of the Caliph Omar continues, with the seige of Damascus.  The Roman garrison defends the city against what is seen at the time as merely a large-scale raidBut in the end, after six months, the governor surrenders.

6. When the Muslims arrived at Damascus, Khalid ibn al-Walid camped near the “Bab ash-Sharqi”, Abu Ubayda ibn al-Garrah near the “Bāb al-Gābiyah”, Amr ibn al-As near the “Bāb Tuma”, and Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan near the the “Bāb as-Saghir (71)” and the “Bāb Kisan”.[1]  They besieged Damascus for six months less one day.  The Rum made raids against them every day, coming out now from one gate or another, keeping them engaged in combat.  Then the Muslims wrote to Omar ibn al-Khattab, informing him of the progress of affairs.  Omar ibn al-Khattab replied, sending a letter with which he removed the supreme command from Khalid ibn al-Walid and entrusted it to Abu Ubayda ibn al-Garrah.  The siege had now exhausted the inhabitants of Damascus, and Mansur, the prefect of Damascus, went up on the “Bāb ash-Sharqi” and spoke to Khalid ibn al-Walid, asking him to grant safety to him, to his family, to those who they were with him, and to the inhabitants of Damascus, with the exception of the Rum: in exchange for which he would open the gates of the city.  Khalid ibn al-Walid agreed to his request and wrote to him a covenant whose text read as follows:

“This is a statement by Khalid ibn al-Walid to the people of Damascus.  I will guarantee your lives, your homes, your property and your churches and I assure you that these will not be destroyed, nor your dwelling places and that you will be left alone.”

He handed over the parchment, and Mansur opened to Khalid ibn al-Walid the “Bāb ash-Sharqi”.  Khalid burst into the city shouting to his men: “Keep your swords in their sheaths.”  Once they entered the city, Khalid’s men shouted in chorus “Allahu Akbar” [=God is great].  Their shout came up to the Rum who were fighting at the [other] gates.  Realizing that Mansur had opened the door and had let the Arabs into the city, they gave up defending the gates and fled.  Abu Ubayda ibn al-Garrah came with a drawn sword from the “Bab al-Gabiyah”, and from “Bab as-Saghir” came Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan who was also with his sword drawn, and from the “Bab Tuma,” where there was still violent fighting, came in, always with a drawn sword, Amr ibn al-As.  Many men were killed at the “Bab Tuma” on both sides.  The Muslims were continuing to slaughter, and to take prisoners when Khalid ibn al-Walid, Abu Ubayda ibn al-Garrah, Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan and Amr ibn al-As met together in the place called “az-Zayyanin” where Mansur was with the [text] of the covenant in his hands.  Khalid ibn al-Walid made them aware of the guarantee which he had granted them.  Their opinions were divided.  Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan said: “We do not endorse the guarantee given to them,” while Abu Ubayda and Amr ibn al-As said: “We will recognize its validity” and cried out to their men, saying sheathe their swords.  Yazid instead shouted to his men not to put away their swords.  Then Amr ibn al-As said: “Come now, consider also that the city was taken based on our commitment of protection and there is peace between us.”  Thus they were all agreed.

Then Mansur said to them: “Promise me in the name of Allah”, and did write in the text “There swore in the name of Allah: Abu Ubayda ibn al-Garrah, Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan, Amr ibn al-As and Sarhabil ibn Hasana”.  Mansur took with him the text.  The Byzantine soldiers who had found safety reached King Heraclius at Antioch.

When King Heraclius understood that Damascus had been occupied he exclaimed:  “Peace to you, O Syria,” or “Peace to you, O Damascus of Syria”, and went on his journey till he came to Constantinople, in the third year of the caliphate of Omar ibn al-Khattab.  As for Mansur, prefect of Damascus, for his cowardly behaviour and for what he had done to the Rum, getting them killed, and for the help given to the Muslims against them, all the patriarchs and bishops of the whole earth cursed him.

Seven days later, a messenger announced to Omar ibn al-Khattab the fall of Damascus.

  1. [1]I.e. outside each of the gates (“bab”) of the city.

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18c (part 2)

We continue our “grey translation” of Eutychius, and the reign of the Caliph Omar.  The treacherous governor of Damascus, who was slighted by Heraclius, prepares to betray the Romans to the muslims.

There is a reference here to a patriarch “Swrs”, which ought to be Sawirus, or SeverusEvidently there is some problem with this.

4. In the sixth year of the caliphate of Omar ibn al-Khattab, the eighteenth year of Heraclius’ reign, there was made patriarch of Constantinople Swrs.(57)  He was a Maronite.  He held the office for eight years[1], but Martina, wife of Heraclius, who was orthodox, removed him and put in his place as the Patriarch of Constantinople, Paul.  Paul was a Maronite, held the office for six years and died.  After his death Heraclius summoned to his headquarters Swrs, the patriarch that his wife had removed.  He held the office for seven years and died.

5. The Muslims intended to besiege Damascus.  When he became caliph, Omar ibn al-Khattab wrote a letter in which he took away the command from Amr ibn al-As and gave it to Khalid ibn al-Walid.  The king of Rum Heraclius had meanwhile retreated from Damascus to Homs.  Understanding that Muslims had already conquered Palestine and the territories of the Jordan as far as al-Bathaniyyah, he left Homs and went to Antioch.  Here he made preparations, and tried to win over to his cause the Arabized tribes of [Banu] Ghassan, of [Banu] Gudhām, of [Banu] Kalb, of [Banu] Lakhm and all of the Arabs that he could.  He appointed as their leader one of his generals named Mahan and sent to Damascus, writing to his prefect Mansur to hold onto the men by giving them money.  When Mahan arrived in Damascus along with the soldiers who were with him, Mansur said, “The king doesn’t need so many soldiers, because the Arabs are just a people of raiders, and any soldiers who go out against them to engage them in combat will kill them.  This army [of yours], then, would cost a lot of money and here in Damascus there is not the money to give them.”  Some said: “Mansur speaks this way only to grab the money, and pushed by cunning and guile, because the soldiers, learning that there was no money for the army in Damascus, will disperse and in such a way he can hand over Damascus to the Muslims.” Then Mahan said: “Give us the money that you have now, then we will write to the king to inform him that there is no money in Damascus. If the king has need of men he will be working to raise the money and will give it to them in one way or another. “

Mahan then learned that the Arabs had come directly from Tiberias to Damascus.  Gathering his soldiers, he left Damascus and marched for two days.  Then he camped in a large plain called Wadi ar Ramad [Valley of Ash] – the place was near the Golan – better known as al-Yaqūsah.  In that valley he made a kind of ditch between him and the Arabs.  There they remained for several days with the Arabs before them.  A few days later, the prefect Mansur left the city in search of Mahan’s soldiers.  He carried with him the money he had in Damascus to give to the soldiers.  He came at night to the place where the soldiers were camped, followed by many Damascenes carrying torches.  When they were close to the soldiers they beat drums, blew the trumpets and shouted.  Mansur resorted to this behaviour in order to deceive and provoke a disaster.  In fact when the Rum saw the torches behind them and heard the sounds of drums and trumpets, they believed that the Arabs had got behind  them and were attacking by surprise.  So they were defeated, and they fell down in that valley, that is in the Wadi ar-Ramad, a wide and big valley, and they died.  Only a few were saved, and some of them scattered here and there, others returned to Damascus, others fled to Jerusalem and others to Caesarea in Palestine.  The Rum who had taken refuge in Damascus, fearing to be besieged by the Arabs, brought to town as much food, fodder and the like as they could, putting on the gates whatever ballistae and catapults they had.  Then they wrote to king Heraclius, asking him for help and informing him of how Mansur had behaved with them, and the artifices which he had resorted to in order to kill the men.

Mahan, then, afraid of being killed if he returned to the king Heraclius, preferred to flee to Mount Sinai, where he became a monk and took the name of Anastasius.  And he is the author of the sermon in which he commented on the sixth Psalm of David’s Psalter.

  1. [1]In another text it says, “two”.

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18b (part 2)

We now get the first significant chunk of Islamic history.

5. When Abu Bakr became caliph, there was the first riddah [war] among the Arabs, but he fought those who did not remain in Islam to the end.  Then he sent Khalid ibn al-Walid with a huge army into Iraq.  Khalid encamped in Mesopotamia.  The notables of the place came to meet them, he gave them a guarantee of security and they made a pact of peace with him by giving him seventy thousand dirhams: this was the first jizya in Iraq and the first money that was given to Abu Bakr from Iraq.  Next Abu Bakr sent letters to Yemen, to Ta’if, Mecca and to other Arab people asking aid to subjugate Rum.  They responded to his appeal, and Abu Bakr put in charge of the expedition Amr ibn al-As, Sarhabil ibn Hasana, Abu Ubayda ibn al-Garrah and Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan.  He entrusted to them the fighters and designated as supreme head Amr ibn al-As, ordering them to focus on Syria taking the road to Aylah.  He ordered them not to kill old people or children or women, not to cut down fruit trees, not to destroy the towns, not to burn the palms, not to cripple and kill sheep, cows and goats.  They made their way until they came to a village called Tādūn, in the territory of Ghazza, on the border with al-Hiğāz.  Having been informed that in the city of Ghazza the armies of Heraclius were concentrating, who was then in Damascus, Amr ibn al-As wrote to Abu Bakr asking for reinforcements, and making him aware of the plans of Heraclius.  Abu Bakr then wrote to Khalid ibn al-Walid to bring his men to Amr ibn al-As to support him.  So Khalid ibn al-Walid moved from Mesopotamia taking the way of the desert until he reached Amr ibn al-As.  Meanwhile the soldiers of Heraclius were well fortified in Ghazza.  Having come to Ghazza, the patrician who commanded the army of Heraclius turned to the Muslim soldiers and asked them to send him their commander, in order to know, through him, what they had to say.  Khalid then said to Amr ibn al-As: “You go”, and Amr went.  He opened the gate of Ghazza and entered.  When he came to the patrician, he greeted him and said: “Why have you come into our country, and what do you want?”  Amr ibn al-As replied: “Our king has ordered us to fight you.  But if you embrace our religion, if you feel it is as useful to you as it is to us, and harmful to your interests as it is to ours, if you are our brothers, then we will not allow wrong or revenge to be done to you.  If you refuse, you will pay the jizya: a jizya agreed between us, every year, forever, as long as we live, and you live: we will fight for you against anyone who dares to oppose you and lay claim on your territory, on your lives, on your assets, and on your children; we will take care of these things for you if you accept our protection by entering into an agreement for this purpose.  If you refuse then there will be between us only the judgment of the sword: we will fight to the death, and until we get what we want from you.”  On hearing the words of Amr ibn al-As and seeing the lack of hesitation that the subject gave him, the patrician said to his men: “I think he is the leader of the people.”  So he ordered them to kill Amr as soon as he came to the gate of the city.  There was with Amr a slave named Wardan, who knew Greek very well because he was Greek.  Wardan informed Amr of what he had heard: “Be very careful how to escape.”  The patrician then asked Amr ibn al-As: “Is there anyone like you, among your companions?”  Amr replied: “I’m the the least of all who speak, and less authoritative than any other.  I am merely a messenger, and repeat what was said to me by my colleagues, ten people more important than me, who are busy with soldiers and wanted to come with me, here with you.  But they sent me to hear what you have to tell us.  However, if you want me to make them come here, so you can listen to them, and to know that I told you the truth, I will.”  The patrician said to him: “Yes, let them come.”  In fact, he thought and said to himself: “I think it’s better to kill many than just one.”  So he sent word to those, to whom he had given the order to kill Amr, not to do it, and to let him out without any trouble, in the hope that he would bring his ten companions and kill them all together.  After he had come out of the gate, Amr ibn al-As informed his men of what had happened and said: “I never go back to someone like that,” and he finished talking, shouting, “Allahu Akbar!”  The Rum came out against the Arabs and engaged in a violent battle with them, but were put to flight.  The Muslims made a great slaughter of them, and then gave chase, driving them into Palestine and Jordan.  They took refuge in Jerusalem, in Caesarea, and wherever they could.  The Muslims left them and went away from the parts of al-Bathaniyyah.  Then he wrote to Abu Bakr informing him of what had happened.  When the messenger came to him, he was already dead and had been succeeded by Umar ibn al-Khattab.  Abu Bakr himself, when he was sick, designated Umar ibn al-Khattab as his successor and ordered  Uthman ibn Affan to put this in writing.

6. Abu Bakr died on the penultimate day of the month of ğumāda al-akhar, in the thirteenth year of the Hegira.  The ritual prayers were held by Umar ibn al-Khattab.  He was buried in the same house in which Muhammad had been buried.  His caliphate lasted two years, three months and twenty-two days.  He died at the age of seventy-three.  Abu Bakr was tall, with a fair complexion which verged on pale, thin, with a thin, sparse beard, a gaunt face and sunken eyes.  He dyed his beard with hinna and cetamo, and his waist could barely bear the izar.  His minister was Abu Qahhafa as-Sandas and his hāgib was his freedman Sadid.


The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18b (part 1)

We now come to the start of the portion of the Annals where the Muslims take centre stage.  But there is still some Roman and Sassanid Persian history to run.

CALIPHATE OF ABU BAKR (11-13 / 632-634)

1. The Muslims were unanimous in giving the bay`ah to Abu Bakr, i.e. to ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Uthman b. ‘Amir b. Ka’ab b. Sa’d b. Taym b. Murra.  His mother was Selma, daughter of Sakhr b. ‘Amur b. Ka’ab b. Sa’d b. Taym b. Murra.  He was given the bay’ah on the same day that Mohammed died.  His influential advisers were Umar ibn al-Khattab and Uthman ibn Affan.  This was in the eleventh year of the reign of Heraclius, King of Rum.  In that year there was made patriarch of Rome Honorius.  He held the office for eighteen years and died.

2. As for Kisra, son of Hormuz, now in his city, and seeing the killings and destruction that Heraclius had caused there, he was deeply distressed, but he did not cease his despotic behavior.  The people felt oppressed by his authority, their patience broke down and they said:  “This is a man who has a jinx.  During his reign the Persians have been killed and their homes have been destroyed.”  So they deposed him, after a thirty-eight year reign, and put in his place his son Qabād, whose real name was Shirūyeh, son of Mary, the daughter of king Maurice, king of Rum, because of whom all those misfortunes had arisen: in fact he had been killed and Kisra had tried to avenge him as his son-in-law.  Having become king, Qabād, son of Kisra, proclaimed justice, made public the misfortune of which the sons of his father were the architects, who were adverse to him because of his mother, and had eighteen of them killed.  Others managed to escape.  Then he said: “I will free the people from tax, because of my justice and my good will.”  Unfortunately it was not long before the plague fell upon the people of his kingdom.  Many died and among them the king Shirūyeh, i.e. Qabād, and his father Kisra.  His reign had lasted eight months.

3. After him reigned Azdashīr, son of Shirūyeh, but the governor of the neighboring western state attacked him, and killed him.  His reign had lasted five months.  Then a man named Gurhan advanced his claims over the kingdom, a man who did not belong to the royal line, and none of whose lineage had ever aspired to be king before him.  He was the same man whom Abarwiz had sent to fight against the Rum and had named Shahrmārān, and he was then murdered by a woman of the royal house, named Arazmindukht, who managed to make him fall by his own treachery.  His reign lasted twenty-two days and he does not appear in the list of Kings.  After him there reigned a descendant of Hurmuz who was based in Turkey.  He came when he learned that he was in line for the succession.  His name was Kisra, son of Qabād, son of Hurmuz.  But the governor of the neighboring state of Khurasan attacked him and killed him.  His reign lasted only three months and he does not appear in the list of Kings.  After him reigned Murli, daughter of Kisra II, sister of Kisra on her mother’s side, for a year and a half;  she did not demand tribute and divided her property among the soldiers.  She reigned and was counted in the number of the kings of Persia.  After her reigned a man named Hushnastadih, a son of the paternal uncle of Kisra.  He reigned for two months, then he was killed.  He does not appear in the list of Kings.  There reigned after him Azarmindukht, daughter of Kisra, but only for a short time because she was poisoned and died.  She reigned one year and four months.  She reigned and was counted in the number of the kings of Persia.  After her reigned a man named Farrukhrādkhushri for a single month and was killed.  He is not counted among the kings of Persia.

4. The period during which Shirūyeh and the men and women who succeeded him reigned, whether included or not included in the number of the kings of Persia, up until Farrukhrādkhushrī, including an interruption between [the] two reigns, was four years.  It was a period of unrest and turmoil.  But when the Persians became aware of the discord that reigned over them, of the ascendancy that was gradually going to Rum and of the corruption into which their religion and their ordinary life had fallen, they sent for a son of Kisra named Yazdagard, who had run away from Shirūyeh when he had had his brothers put to death.  They proclaimed him their king even though he was only fifteen.  There were various parties and their factions were divided, warring against each other.  The inhabitants of each place, town or village of the kingdom fought against their neighbors.  Such a diffusion of disorder, of division of the community, corruption of the kingdom and discord among the people in the city lasted for eight months.  The reign of Yazdagard coincided with the first year of the caliphate of Abu Bakr, and the eleventh year of the reign of Heraclius, King of Rum.


The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18 (part 2)

Heraclius arrives at Jerusalem, and massacres the Jews. 

6. When he entered the city and saw that everything had been destroyed and burned by the Persians, he felt a deep sadness; then when he saw that Modestus had [re]constructed the Church of the Resurrection, of the Skull and the church of Mar Constantine, he felt great joy and thanked Modestus for what he had done.  The monks and the inhabitants of Jerusalem said to him: “The Jews living around Jerusalem, together with those from Galilee, took the side of the Persians, and they helped them when they invaded the country.  They went to the trouble of killing more Christians than did the Persians: they destroyed the churches and set fire to them”.  Then they let him see the dead who had been cast in the Mamilla, and made him aware of how many Christians they murdered, how many churches had been destroyed at Tyre by the Jews.

Heraclius said to them: “What do you want, then?”

“That you give us satisfaction,” they replied. “Kill every Jew who is found around Jerusalem and in Galilee, because if another hostile people come to us, we don’t want them to help them again against us, just as they have helped the Persians.”

Heraclius said to them: “How could I kill them, having already given them my protection and having put in writing my promise to them? You yourselves know what happens to those who violate a treaty.  If I violated the treaty and the oath, it would be shameful for me, and a reprehensible action on my part.  And I do not think that, if I were to give in writing a treaty to others who were not Jews, that they would accept it from me.  No, if I do not keep faith with the treaty signed with them, I would be a perjurer, a traitor, I would no longer be trusted by the people, not to mention the severe guilt and shame that I would receive in the presence of Christ our Lord, for the extermination of a people to whom I had given my protection, leaving my promise in writing.”

They answered: “Christ our Lord, he knows that killing them by your hand would be a cause of forgiveness for your sins and purification for your sins. Men, for their part, will justify you, because when you gave your protection to the Jews you did not know, or had not learned, how many Christians they had killed nor how many churches had been destroyed.  They have come to meet you and have they received you with gifts with the sole purpose of deceiving you, to avoid the punishment for what they have perpetrated.  If you kill them, it would be a worthy sacrifice that you offer to God.  We would not assign this guilt to you, or cause it to be imputed to you.  So also we will ask our Lord Jesus Christ to pardon it.  We will do for you, in the week that precedes the great fast and in it which is allowed to eat eggs and cheese, a [period] of absolute fasting: for the whole of the great fasting period we will fast for you and will abstain, in that time, from eating eggs and cheese, to last as long as Christianity”.  The Melkites, in fact, in that week abstained from meat and lived on eggs, cheese and fish, as is demonstrated by the Typicon of saint Mar Saba. “We will fast for you,” they said, “and we will abstain from eating all kinds of fat things.  We will make it a rule, a prohibition and a curse so that this can never be changed, and will send written in every part of the world, as we ask forgiveness for what will be done.”

Heraclius appeased them, and he killed an uncountable number of Jews who lived around Jerusalem and in Galilee.  Others managed to hide, and the rest fled into the wilderness, and into the valleys, the mountains and into Egypt.  So it was decided that the first week of fasting, in which the Melkites abstained only from flesh, should become a period of absolute fasting.  They fasted for King Heraclius, to beg pardon, because he had violated the treaty and killed the Jews: in this period they refrained from eating eggs, cheese and fish.  They sent written statements in this regard into all corners of the earth.  The Copts of Egypt still fast like this today, although not those of Syria, nor the Greek Melkites, because after the death of Heraclius they resumed eating eggs, cheese and fish in this week.  In the same week they abstain on Wednesdays and Fridays until the ninth hour, then they eat eggs, cheese and fish according to the Rule of St Nicephorus, patriarch of Constantinople, martyr and confessor, according to the Typicon of the church, allowing the Orthodox to eat in this week eggs and cheese also on Wednesdays and Fridays, although only after the ninth hour.  This rule is in sharp contrast with the behavior of those who fast for the Maronite king Heraclius, and may God will preserve us from their evil behaviour, because it is not permissible to fast for a man born of a woman and, even worse, for a king who has left this world and died a Maronite!

7. But let us return to [our] story.  Heraclius made as Patriarch of Jerusalem the monk Modestus, superior of the monastery of ad-Dukas, and ordered him to go with him to Damascus in order to hand over part of the money raised in Damascus and the Palestinian money, so that he could [re]construct in Jerusalem all the churches that the Persians had destroyed there.  Heraclius then came back from Jerusalem to Damascus, and he stopped and took the money from Mansur.  Modestus was patriarch for nine months and died.  After his death the see of Jerusalem had no patriarch for six years.

8.  In the sixteenth year of the reign of Heraclius there died Muhammad, son of ‘Abd Allah, prophet of the Muslims, on the second Monday of the month of rabi` al-awwal in the eleventh year of the Hegira.  He was buried in his own house, where he died, that is in the house of Aishah, after thirteen days of illness.  He died at the age of sixty-three, leaving no [other] children other than Fatimah, who died forty days after him (Others say “seventy days later”), in the time of the caliphate of Abu Bakr.


The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18 (part 1)

Let us venture into the second part of the history by Eutychius.  It opens with the reign of Heraclius and his war against the Sassanid Persian king Chosroes.


1. In the first year of the reign of Heraclius, king of Rum, there took place the Hegira of the Prophet to Medina, in the month of rabī‘ al-awwal.  He stayed there in exile for ten years and in the eighth year there he erected the minbar.  From Diocletian to the Hegira three hundred and thirty years had passed; from Christ, our Lord, to the Hegira had passed six hundred and fourteen years; from Alexander to the Hegira had passed nine-hundred and thirty years; from the Babylonian captivity to the Hegira one thousand one hundred and ninety six years; from David to the Hegira one thousand six hundred and seventy-three years; from the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt to the Hegira two thousand, two hundred and seventy-nine years; from Abraham to the Hegira two thousand seven hundred and six years; from Fāliq to the Hegira three thousand, three hundred and twenty-seven years; from the flood to  the Hegira three thousand eight hundred and fifty-eight years; from Adam to the Hegira 6114 years.

2. When Heraclius began to reign at Constantinople, he was engaged for six years in a violent siege.  Exhausted by the siege, the inhabitants of Constantinople, many of whom had already died from hunger, decided to open [the gate of the city of] Constantinople to Kisra.  Learning of this, Heraclius was afraid that they would open the gate and hand him over to Kisra.  So he sent to Kisra saying: “I’ll give you anything you want as long as you leave me alone.”  Kisra wrote him saying: “If you want me to leave you in peace, pledge to send as your ransom, and for the city, a thousand qintār of gold and a thousand qintār of silver, a thousand virgin maidens, a thousand horses and a thousand heads of embroidered silk.  This ransom you will give to me every year, I will stay away and I’ll leave you alone.  Send me immediately the ransom for this year, and do not postpone it, if you want me to leave you alone.”  Heraclius wrote to him: “I consent to what the merciful king is asking of me; at the moment, though, I do not possess all the ransom money, for the merciful king has not permitted me to do whatever I wanted.  But if the merciful king will give me the opportunity to go out, I will gather the money and everything else required of me.  I will send you everything in six months, if the king will wait for me, and will allow me to go undisturbed around the villages in order to collect the goods for which he has asked me and so satisfy him.”  Kisra granted this request.  So Heraclius gathered his ministers and generals and told them: “I have only placated Kisra in order to calm him, and inspire confidence in his men.  In truth I’m going to travel to Persia.  I am certain that Jesus Christ, our Lord, will give me the victory over the Persians, and so we will get rid of Kisra and his men.  If I am late and do not return at the end of six months, make sure to keep Kisra in suspense, filled with promises and defer throughout the year your commitment to give him what he requested.  If I don’t come back, or not come back to you, do what you please.  I leave my brother Constantine as my successor.  Do you accept what I’ve said to you?”  They accepted and wished him victory.  Heraclius chose about five thousand men, selecting the strongest among the commanders of soldiers of Constantinople and among the nobles, and took them with him.  And he took some of the ships, on which he embarked men and horses and left the city of Constantinople direct for Trebizond.  Here he landed, summoned the people and gave them their own instructions.  He asked the king of al-Gurzān for help, and he made with him a covenant and gave him a sarir to sit upon when he was attending levees.  He also asked the king of al-Angāz for help, and gave him a diadem to wear at court audiences.  Also he asked the king of as-Sanāriyyah for help, made a covenant with him, and likewise gave him a sarir to sit on when he was attending court receptions.  It was at that time that the king of as-Sanāriyyah became known as “the king of the sarir“.  Heraclius continued his march in this way until he arrived at al-Gabal, at Isfahan and at Mird, the city of Sabur.  Every time he went into a city he gathered the people and dictated laws to them.  If he found in his path a Persian man, woman or child, he had them killed.  When they saw the soldiers of Heraclius, the inhabitants of Sabur were terrified and fortified the city by placing catapults and ballistae near the gates.  Heraclius engaged them in battle for a few days and then ended the fighting by storming the city, putting to death all the men, women and children that were there.  They would open the wombs of pregnant women and pull out the unborn children and slam them against the rocks.  Then Heraclius said: “I am the one of whom David prophesied in Psalm 136[1] saying: “Blessed is he who takes your babies and dashes them against the rock”.  He then set fire to the city, took many prisoners, carried off with him many riches and jewels and sowed destruction in the Persian territory.  Then he began marching on in the direction of Hulwān, Shārūz and Ctesiphon, went into Mayyāfāriqin and the Tigris territory, then invading Armenia until he reached the river Arsanās.  There was, among his prisoners, a son of Kisra, called Qabād and named Sirūyeh: he was the son of Mary, the daughter of King Maurice who had been the cause of all those wars.  When he came to Mayyāfāriqin, Heraclius sent for Qabād, son of Kisra, made him shave his head and his chin, and sent him back riding on a donkey with a letter to his father Kisra.  With him he sent a group of delegates to lead him to his father.  This was the text of the letter he sent to Kisra through his son:  “From the servant of God, the victorious Heraclius, to Kisra the humiliated, the confused, the abandoned.  I have collected for you, as my redemption and as the ransom of my whole country, whatever I could gather, that is, the heads of the Persians. As soon as you read this letter, take a look at the bearer, before putting it aside. Be well.”

3. When Qabād came to his father Kisra, he saw him with his head and his chin shaved, astride a donkey, and said to him: “What new do you bring me?” The son replied: “Heraclius has destroyed every city in Persia and killed the men, women and children.  As for the city of the king, he destroyed it and handed it over to iron and fire, killing all who were there, took many prisoners, and brought away untold riches and treasures. This is his letter.”

4. When Kisra had read the letter to Heraclius, he was greatly saddened, and he and his men grieved, and together they wept for a long time for their families and their children.  Then Kisra summoned his ministers and generals and told them: “Tell me what to do; our families and our children have been killed, our houses and our homes destroyed.” The ministers and the generals answered: “We gain nothing just sitting here; rather let’s move, let’s see where Heraclius is and give chase”. Kisra then lifted the siege of Constantinople and began to chase after Heraclius.  As he marched, he was told that Heraclius had taken the road over the Tigris and was definitely about to ford the river Arsanās.  His advisers said to him: “Let us hasten to precede him to the ford, so that he can not pass over.  May God give us victory over him, so as to free the hostages and take back what has been taken away.  He has annihilated the men of Persia and it has lessened our honor.”  When he arrived near the river Arsānis, Kisra’s men made camp near the ford waiting for Heraclius.  Heraclius was a day’s march from the Arsānis river when he was told that Kisra was camped there and waiting for him.  Then leaving the soldiers and the baggage, he chose some of his own men, made them take the straw and manure of animals and began to walk against the current for a whole day.  Then he threw into the river straw and manure and the water carried them off until they appeared under the eyes of Kisra and his men.  Seeing the straw and manure in the river, Kisra and his men thought that Heraclius had forded across the river higher up, on another stream.  So they left the ford where they had camped, and they set out, heading towards the place where Heraclius had forded the river.  Heraclius then returned to his men and informed them that Kisra and the army had left the ford where they had camped and gone up the river.  Heraclius then set off with the army and crossed the river, continuing until he arrived in Trebizond.  Then he boarded and went to Constantinople.  The inhabitants welcomed him with cheers and jubilation, and for seven days they ate, drank and made merry.  Kisra, meanwhile, learned that Heraclius had returned to the place of the ford where he had camped and had crossed the river, and that the straw and manure of animals, which Heraclius had purposely thrown into the river, was just a ruse and a deception.  Kisra then continued on his march until he came to his own city: he found it destroyed, leaving not even a child, and no one to speak to another.  From then, that is in the seventh year of the reign of Heraclius, which was then the seventh year of the Hegira, the king of Persia began to lose prestige and authority.

5. In the second year of the reign of Heraclius there was made patriarch of Rome Yūsātiyūs.  He held the office for five years and died.  In the ninth year of his reign, the ninth of the Hegira, Heraclius left Constantinople for  Jerusalem, to see for himself what the Persians had destroyed. When he arrived at Homs, the population refused to accept him saying: “You are a Maronite, a violator of our religion”.  He left them and went to the monastery of Maron, where the monks came to meet him and they greeted each other.  And since Heraclius was a Maronite, he dispensed enormous wealth to them, assigned funds to the monastery and strengthened the prestige of the monks.  Then he went to Damascus.  There was, in Damascus, a man named Mansur ibn Sarğūn, who had collected the kharag on behalf of king Maurice.  Heraclius then asked him to remit the money he had received in all the years in which the Rum had been beseiged in the siege of Constantinople.  The man told him that he had sent regularly to Kisra the money received at Damascus.  Heraclius then spoke to him brusquely, had him flogged and put in prison until he paid out a hundred thousand dinars.  Then he reconfirmed him in his post, but Mansur began to harbour great resentment against Heraclius.  Heraclius resumed his journey to Jerusalem.  When he arrived near Tiberias, the Jews who lived in Tiberias, in Galilee, to Nazareth, and in all the [other] villages of that area came to meet him, and welcomed Heraclius with gifts, wishing him well and praying for his safety.  Heraclius granted them their safety and left them a treaty in writing.  When Heraclius came to Jerusalem, there met him the monks of the Laura, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem together with Modestus, with censers and incense.

  1. [1]Ps. 137: 8-9.