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Monday, December 06, 2004

The Tomb of the Righteous Woman, Cyprus

Caliph al-Manusr, speaking of the Cyprians said: 'We shall, above everyone else, do justice to them, and not enrich ourselvs by oppressing them'The account below gives a summary of the Muslims when the Muslim empire included Cyprus. May God Almighty have mercy and help us all act is the best and most just ways in all that we do, ameen. According to al-Wakidi and others, the first expedition against Cyprus was led in sea by Muawiyah ibn abi Sufyan. This was the first time the Muslims sailed in the Mediterranean.

Muawiyah had asked Umar's permission to lead a naval expedition, but Umar refused.[Tabari, vol I, 2820-2821] When Uthman ibn Affain became caliph, Muwaiyah wrote again asking permission to enter Cyprus, informing him about its proximity and the ease of acquiring it. In answer to this Uthman wrote, 'I have seen the answer Umar gave when you requested from him to lead the sea expedition'

In the year 27 AH, Muawiyah again wrote to Uthman, referring to the ease with which the sea could be crossed to Cyprus. Uthman wrote back this time saying, 'If you sail with your wife, we allow you to do so, but otherwise no'.
Accordingly, Muawiyah embarked from Acre with a large number of ships, accompanied by his wife Fakhitah. Likewise, Ubadah ibn as Samit took his wife Umm Haram of the Ansar. This took place in the year 28, after the cessation of the rainy season; others say, ikn the year 29.

When the Muslims arrived in Cyprus and landed on its shore, its Archon (one of the nine chief magistrates of ancient Greece) demanded to make terms of capitulation which was considered unavoidable by the people. Muawiyah made terms with them on 7,200 dinars to be paind annually to them. Similar terms had been made with them by the Greeks. Thus the people of Cyprus pay two tributes.

It was made a condition that the Muslims would not prevent them form paying the tribute to the Greeks, on the other hand the Muslims made it a condition that they would not fight those who may come after them to subjugate the Cyprians, and that the Cyprians would keep the Muslims informed regarding the movement of their enemy, the Greeks.[Ibn an Athir, vol III, p 74] Thus when the Muslims used to undertake an expedition by sea, they did not attack the Cyprians. They were not supported by the Cyprians, nor did the Cyprians support any one against them.

The second invasion by Muawiyah. In the year 32, however, the Cyprians offered ships as an aid to the Greeks in an expedition in the sea. Consequently, Muawiyah invaded them in the year 33 with 500 ships. He took Cyprus by force, taking many prisoners. He then informed them in the terms that were previously made, and send to the island 12,000 men of those whose names were recorded in the register (diwan: and therefore received stipends) and erected mosques.

Moreover, Muawiyah transplanted from balabakk a group of men, and erected a city on the island, whose inhabitants were assigned special stipends until the death of Muawiyah. His son Yazid, who succeeded him, send the troops back and ordered the city destroyed. According to other reports, the second invasion of Cyprus was carried out in the year 35.

Why Yazid withdrew the troops. Muhammad ibn Musaffa al Himsi from al-Walid: Yazid was offered a large and considerable sum of money as a bribe; and that was why he withdrew the troops from Cyprus, upon which the Cyprians destroyed their city and mosques.

Umm-Haram dies in Cyprus. Muhammad ibn Saad from Abdas Salam ibn Musa's father: When Cyprus was invaded for the first time, Umm Haram, daughter of Milhan, sailed with her husband, Ubdag ibn sa Samit. On their arrival in Cyprus, she disembarked and was offered a mule to rie on. As she was riding, the mule stumbled, and she was killed. Her tomb in Cyprus is called 'The Tomb of the Righteous Woman'[JRAS, 1897, pp 81-101]

Muwaiyah makes permanent peace. Hisham ibn Ammar as Dimashki from Safwan ibn Amr: Muawiyah personally carried out the invasion of Cyprus and was accompanied by his wife. Its conquest effected by Allah, was complete; and the booty he brought to the Muslims was great. The raids of the Muslims wer erepeated until Muawiyah in his caliphate concluded permanent terms with the Cyprians to the effect that they pay 7,000 dinars and give advice and warnings to the Muslims regarding their enemies, the Greeks. This or something like
it was agreed upon.

The Cyprians expelled and retrned. Al Walid ibn Yazid ibn Abd al-Malik expelled many of the Cyprians to Syria, because of a charge of suspicion brought against them. When the Muslims disproved of the act, Yazid returned them to their home. In the caliphate of ar Rashid, an invasion was led against them by Humaid ibn Mayuf al Hamdani because of a rebellion they had started; and many were carried off as prisoners. Later they behaved properly towards the Muslims, and by ar Rashids orders their prisoners were returned.

The tax increased. Muhammad ibn Saad from al-Wakidi: the terms between Muawiyah and the Cyprians were kept in force until the time Abdal-Malik ibn Marwan who added 1,000 dinars to their tax. That was the case until the caliphate of Umar ibn Abd-al-Aziz who cancelled the addition. When Hisham ibn abd-al-Malik, however, came to power, he restored it; and it wa skept until the caliphate of Abu-Jafar al-Manusr, who expressed himself as follows: 'We shall, above everyone else, do justice to them, and not enrich ourselvs by oppressing them'. Accordingly, he restored the terms made by Muawiyah.

Abd-al-Malik wasnt to annul the treaty. The following was communicated to me by certain Syrian scholars and Abu Ubaid al Kasim ibn Sallam: During the governorship of Abd al Malik ibn Salih ibn Ali ibn Abdallah ibn Abbas over the frontier cities, the Cyprians started a rebellion, and he, therefore, desired to break the covenant made with them. The canonists were numerous, among whom
were the following whose opinions he sought: al-Laith ibn Saad, Malik ibn Anas, Sufyan ibn Uyanah, Musa ibn Ayan, Ismail ibn Aiyash, yahya ibn Hamzah, Abu ishak al Fazari and Makhlad ibn al Husain. They all answered him.

The opinion of al-Laith. The following is a quotation from the letter of al-Laith ibn Saad: 'The Cyprians are being constantly charged by us with infidelity to Muslims and loyalty to Allah's enemies the Greeks. Allah himself has said, "Or if you fear treachery from any people, cast off their treaty in like manner". He did not say 'cast not off their treaty until you are sure of their treachery'. I therefore, consider it best that you cast off their treaty and give them respote of one year for enforcing the law. Those of them who desire to go and settle in a Muslim land and become dhimmis, paying the kharaj, may do so; those who desire to emigrate to the land of the Greeks may do so; and those who desire to remain in Cyprus, with the understanding that they are hostile, may do so and be considered an enemy to be fought and attacked. To give them a respite of one year would be enough to refute any
protest they make, and to prove our loyalty to the covenant'

The opinion of Malik. The following statement was written by Malik ibn Anas: 'Our peace with the Cyprians is of old standing and carefully observed by the governors placed over them, because they considered the terms a humiliation and belittlement to the Cyprians, and a source of strength to the Muslims, in view of the tax paid to them and the chance they had of attacking their enemies. Yet I know of no governor who broke their terms or expelled them from the city. I, therefore, consider it best to hesitate in breaking their covenant and casting off their treaty until the evidence of disloyalty is established against them, for Allah says, "Observe, therefore, the engagement with them through the whole time of their treaty". If after that they do not behave properly and abandon their deceit, and you are convinced of their perfidy, you may attack them. In that case, the attack would be justified and would be crowned with sucecss; and they would suffer humiliation and disgrace by Allah's will'

The opinion of Sufyan ibn Uyainah. This is waht Sufyan ibn Uyainah wrote: 'We know of no one who made a covenant with the Prophet and violated it, without having the Prophet consider it legal to put him to death, except the people of Makkah. Their case was a favor on the part of the Prophet. Their violation consisted in rendering aid to their allies against the Khuzah, the Prophets allies. One of the terms stipulated against the people of Najran was not to practice usury, but when they did practice it, Umar decreed they be expelled.
Thus by the consensus of opinion, he who violates a covenant forfeits the rights of being entitled to security'

The opinion of Musa ibn Ayan. Musa ibn Ayan wrote: 'Similar cases took place in the past, but in each case the governors would grant a period of respite; and so far as I know, none of the early men ever broke a covenant with the Cyprians or any other people. It may be that the common people and the mass of the Cyprians had no hand in what their leaders did. I, therefore, consider it best to abide by the covenant and fulfill the conditions thereor, in spite of what they have done. I have heard al-Auzi say regarding the case of some,
who, after making terms with the Muslims, conveyed information about their secret things and pointed them out to the unbelievers: 'If they are dhimmis, they have thereby violated their covenant an dforfeited their claim on security, making it right for the governor to kill them, if he so desires; but if they had been taken by capitulation and are not entitled to Muslim security, t hen their governor would cast off their treaty, for Allah loves not the actions of the decievers'

The opinion of ibn Aiyashs. The following is what Ismail ibn Aiyash wrote: 'The people of Cyprus are humiliated and oppressed and they have been subjugated, together with their wives, by the Greeks. It is therefore proper for us to defend and protect them. In the covenant of the people of Tadlis, Habib ibn Maslamah wrote, 'In case something should arise to divert the attention of the Muslims from you and some enemy should subjugate you, that would not be a violation of your covenant, so long as you keep loyal to the
Muslims'. I therefore, consider it best that they be left on their covenant and the security promised them, especially because when al-Walid ibn Yazif expelled them to Syria, the Muslims considered the act outrageous, and the canonists (legal authorities) disproved of it; so much so that when Yazid came to power, he restored them to Cyprus, which was an act approved by the Muslims and considered just'

The opinion of Yahya ibn Hamzah. The following was the statement issued by Yahya ibn Hamzah: 'The case of Cyprus is parallel to that or Arbassus in which it has set a good example and a precedent to be followed. This is the case of Arbassus: Umair ibn Saad once came to Umar ibn al Khattab saying, There lies between us and the Greeks a city called Arbassus, whose people disclose to our enemy our secrets, but do not disclose our enemys secrets. Umar replied, When
you go there, propose to give them for everey ewe they own, two, and for every cow they own, two, and for everything they own, two. If they consent, give that to them, expel them from the city and raze it to the ground. But if they refuse, then cast off their treaty to them and give them one year at the expiration of which you may destroy their city. Umair went to the city; and its people refused the offer. he therefore, gave them one year at the expiration of which he destroyed it. The people of Arbassus had a covenant similar to that of the people of Cyprus. To leave the Cyprians on the tersm
made with them and to have the Muslims use their own cause what they recieve as tax from the Cyrpians is preferable. All holders of covenant, for the sake of whom the Muslims are not supposed to fight and on whom the Muslim regulations are not binding, are not dhimmis, but people of tribute, to be spared so long a sthey are worthy, to be treated accoding to the covenant so long as they abide by it and consent to it, and to be forgiven so long as they pay their dues. It is reported that Muadh ibn Jabal always hated to have the enemy capitualte on definite terms unless the Muslims were by force of
circumstances compelled to make terms, because no one could tell whether such capitualtion would be of value and strength for the Muslims. [reference for 'People of Tribute': Ahl Fidyah, who are governed by their own laws and pay something (tax) to be left alone: at-Tahanawi, Kashf Istilahat al Funun, vol II, p 1157]

The opinion of Abu Ishak and KMakhlad. Abu Ishal al fazari and Makhdad ibn al Husaid wrote as follows: 'We can find nothing more similar to the case of Cyprus that the case of Arbassus and the decision of Umar ibn al Khattab regarding it. Umar gave them two alternatives to choose from: a double fold of everything they possessed and the evacuation of the city, or a respite of one year after casting off their treaty. Having rejected the former proposition, they were given one year at the end of which the city would be destroyed. Al-Auzi repeated a tradition to the effect that when Cyprus was conquered, the status quo of the people was kept, and terms made on 14,000 dinars of which 7,000 should go to the Muslims and 7,000 to the Greeks; and it was stipulated that the Cyprians should not disclose to the Greeks the conditions of the
Muslims. Al-Auzai used to say, 'The Cyprians did not abide by the terms they made with us, but we consider them as people bound to us by the covenant whose terms of peace involve rights to them and obligations on them, and the violation of which is legal only if they do something that shows their perfidy and treachery' [Reference for the above extracts: Kitab Futuh al Buldan, Vol 1, pp 235-243 (Columbia University, trans 1918)]


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