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Anything for Money:
The Struggle of Abbasids against Arab Tribes in Egypt

Anything for Money:

The Struggle of Abbasids against Arab Tribes in Egypt

Was published in Arabic in August 18, 2015

Translated by Ahmed Fathy

 

  Firstly: Pre-Abbasid Era:

  1- After the Arab conquest of Egypt, Arab tribes who originated in the Arabian Peninsula migrated to Egypt and North Africa. Qahtani tribes and Adnani tribes were among the major migrating tribes that included Mudar tribe and Rabei'a tribe. Qais tribe was the major line within Mudar tribe that was part of Adnani tribes, and Qais tribe used to struggle over gaining political influence against its rival: the Qalb tribe that was the major line within the Yemeni Qahtani tribes. This struggle harkened back to the Omayyad Era in the Levant.

 2- The Omayyad caliphs used to force Qais tribes to migrate to Egypt, and to relocate in the Eastern area between the Nile Delta and Sinai; currently the Egyptian Governorates of Sharqiya, Daqahliya, Qalyoubiya, Suez, Ismailia, and Port Said.    

 3- Before the caliphate of Hisham Abdel-Malek, the Qais tribes had not but a few houses in Egypt, owned by two tribes: Faham and Oudwan. Ibn Al-Habhab advised the Omayyad caliph Hisham Abdel-Malek to relocate other Qais tribes in Egypt. At that time, Waleed Ibn Rifaa' was the Omayyad-appointed ruler of Egypt. The caliph ordered three thousand people from the Qais tribe to move to Egypt on the condition that they avoid relocating in Al-Fustat, the capital of Egypt at the time. They were relocated eventually in the above-mentioned Eastern Delta area. Another historical narrative asserts that Ibn Al-Habhab relocated them, having acquired the caliph's approval, around the city of Bilbeis, in the Eastern Delta, on purpose so as not to harm native Egyptians and as there were no people of Arab origin there at the time. 

 4- The Qais tribes obeyed the caliph's orders and built about one hundred houses for Nudar tribe and a similar number for the Bani Salim tribe. They worked in agricultural activities in the lands around the city of Bilbeis, and they collected taxes of zakat and alms for the Omayyad State. The collected money was loaded on camels to be carried to the city known now as Suez. A man in this tribe used to earn more than ten dinars a month from carrying harvest.

 5- The authorities of the time allowed these tribes to buy and trade in horses, and this trade enriched the tribe due to the vast desert areas around their stables. They were very clever with horses to the extent that a mare used to be tamed and groomed in just a month. The wealth of the Qais tribes increased, and news of it reached the other Arab Peninsula-based Qais tribes, and consequently another five hundred families moved to Egypt. Hence, Bilbeis housed 1500 Qais families.

 6- When the caliph Marawan Ibn Muhammad, the last Omayyad caliph, came to power, he appointed Al-Hutharah Ibn Suhayl Al-Bahly as the ruler of Egypt. Qais tribes in Egypt were friends with Al-Bahly, and so he allowed more Qais tribes to be relocated in Egypt. They became more than 3000 families at the time at Bilbeis. This huge center of Arab tribes became a source of concerns for the Abbasids who feared uprisings by the Qais tribes in Egypt.

 

The Struggle between the Abbasids and Qais Tribes

 

1- The Abbasids came with a new policy and favored people of Persian origin in most positions. People of Arab origin in Baghdad and other cities did not like that. Accordingly, some tensions occurred between Qais tribes in Bilbeis and Abbasid authorities in Egypt. The Abbasids built a new capital in Egypt named Al-Askar, and imposed more heavy taxes in the year 178 A.H. Farmers were harmed seriously by such taxes under the Abbasid-appointed ruler Ishak Ibn Suleiman Ibn Ali.

2- The Qais tribesmen revolted against such heavy taxes by gathering their armed horsemen to prevent tax collectors from reaching them. The Abbasid-appointed ruler of Egypt sent forces that could not defeat the Qais tribe revolt. He sent a message to Haroon Al-Rasheed, the Abbasid caliph, for more military reinforcement. The caliph sent a huge army led by Hirthima Ibn A'yan. The Qais tribesmen feared such military force that landed in their vicinity, and they had to surrender and paid the taxes fully.

 

The Defeat of Qais Tribesmen

 

1- The Abbasid-appointed ruler sent his men to measure and survey the agricultural lands. Qais tribesmen did not approve the ruler's men's job and accused them of being dishonest. They complained to the Abbasid-appointed ruler, Al-Leith Ibn Al-Fadl Al-Bioudy, who did not pay attention at all to their complaint. The Qais tribesmen gathered their horsemen and marched to the ruler's resident in the capital. The ruler faced them in the month of Shaaban in 186 A.H. with 4000 soldiers. Fierce battles ensued in Ramadan. Although some of the ruler's soldiers fled the battlefield after being partially defeated at first rounds, the ruler with two hundred soldiers defeated the Qais tribesmen and followed their remnants until they reached Bilbeis. After this resounding victory, the ruler sent 80 heads of the slain Qais tribesmen to the caliph in Baghdad.

 2- This humiliating defeat roused the Qais tribesmen to seek revenge. Hence, they decided not to pay taxes anymore. The ruler feared that he might be defeated this time; he decided to go to Baghdad in 187 A.H. and asked the caliph, Haroon Al-Rasheed, to provide him with a strong army as he could not gather taxes from the Qais tribesmen. Mahfouz Ibn Salim was present in this audience with the caliph, and he told the caliph that taxes would be collected from the whole of Egypt without any resort to armed forces. The caliph appointed him as the new ruler of Egypt.

 

The Great Revolt at the Times of the Caliph Al-Ma'moon

 

 1- Battles and uprisings continued Arab tribes residing in Egypt and the Abbasids. Other Arab tribes took the side of the Qais tribes in refusing heavy taxes. When Al-Ma'moon came to the throne, the Qais tribesmen faced him after making an alliance with Egyptian Copts. A major revolt rose against all Abbasid employees in the whole of Upper and Lower Egypt.

 2- Battles continued one after the other for two years (216-217 A.H.), until the caliph Al-Ma'moon came to Egypt himself to quell the revolt once and for all. He made some reformations in the ruling and taxes systems to appease the revolting tribesmen and Copts. He revoked all additional taxes decreed before.

 

 Lastly: there is a well-known American idiomatic expression that we all know: "Everything for money". We find this phrase applicable to the Arab conquests of neighboring states around Arabia, the major civil war of Arabs in Arabia after the death of Prophet Muhammad, and all historical revolts, coups, and wars done by mortal gods of human-made religions. The same idiomatic expression applies to the present wars of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Wahabism, Salafism, the MB, the ISIS terrorists, and the like!  


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