From the Archive
The So-Called 'Quranic' Schools in Tunisia Which, In Fact, Undermine and Disbelieve in the Quran
They ask you about the veil
Une vision coraniste du massacre des deux mosquées en Nouvelle-Zélande
Between Curse and Heedlessness
Dancing Amidst the Steps of a Staircase!
Judicial Activism
Pieces of Advice Addressed to the Palestinians for the Last Time: Regarding What Should Be Done
They Ask You about Fayrouz
An open letter to senator McCai
Fatwas Part One-Hundred
The Quranic Chapter 77 and the Meaning of Denying Both the Quran and the Last Day
Fatwas Part One-Hundred-and-Seven
The Metaphysical Realm of Barsakh and the Day of Gathering Which Is the Day of Resurrection
Islam is against Muslim Wahaby terrorists
The Timing of the Fasting Month of Ramadan (3): Ramadan within the Historical Accounts of the Muhammadans
My testimony before the Congress Hearing about Muslim Brotherhood
The Ferocious Brown Chick Is Threatening Our Person:
Fatwas Part Seventy-Eight
The Mameluke Sultan Barsbay and the Judge Ibn Hajar the Big Criminals during the Plague of 841 A.H
The Historical Narratives of Al-Makrizi as an Eyewitness of the Plague of 841 A.H. – 1 of 2

The Mameluke Sultan Barsbay and the Judge Ibn Hajar the Big Criminals during the Plague of 841 A.H.: The Historical Narratives of Al-Makrizi as an Eyewitness of the Plague of 841 A.H. – 1 of 2



Published in March 29, 2020

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy





1- The Egyptian Mameluke State ruled regions that included the west of Iraq, south of Turkey, Libyan coast, the Levant, the Red Sea, and the Hejaz region (where Mecca is situated). The Levant had its governor who was a deputy of the Cairo-based Mameluke sultan. Cairo was the capital of the Mameluke sultanate. The Levant included cities like Aleppo, Damascus, Jerusalem,...etc. and each city had its mayor who served the governor of the Levant; by the way, the names "Palestine", "Syria", and "Lebanon" were nonexistent during the Mameluke Era. Of course, there was an emirate, named Al-Ghader, in northern Iraq protected by the Mameluke State though not included within its borders. The regions of the Egyptian Mameluke sultanate included Cypress which was invaded and conquered by Barsbay who captured its king.      

2- Al-Makrizi received pieces of news from the Levant, Iraq, Yemen, and North Africa; such news recorded by historians were like news bulletins in our era; historians entered such detailed news into their annals; i.e., recorded history by the days, months, and lunar years (from Muharram  to Zu Al-Hijja). 

3- The postal service was stable and thriving, despite the plague, and it linked all regions within the Mameluke sultanate to its capital Cairo. The post included decrees, commands, and official matters as well as exchanging news; when news reached Cairo from all regions, such pieces of news were recorded by historians in Egypt in their annals.  

4- In the following points, we quote some passages by Al-Makrizi about the plague of 841 A.H., and other scattered news of disasters, calamities, and torments which occurred within the events of the same year whose annals began by the first day of the lunar month of Muharram, and we offer our brief comments on these passages.


Al-Makrizi writes the following events.

1- (...During the month of Saffar, like the months before it, the plague swept through Aleppo and its estates; more than one hundred persons died each day...). This means that the plague increased in the city of Aleppo and its neighboring villages; it is naturally expected that the plague would reach Hama the nearest city to Aleppo.

2- (...During the month of Rabei, the plague swept through Hama and its estates; more than three hundred persons died each day; this was unprecedented at the time...). This means that the increase of the plague in Hama and the death rates because of the plague were unprecedented compared to other Levantine cities at the time.

3- (...A month later, news came about the emergence of the plague in Tripoli...Days later, the plague swept to Damascus and hundreds of people died of it...). This means that the plague moved westwards in the Levantine cities of Tripoli and Damascus and the death rates increased because of it; the names "Lebanon" and ''Syria'' were nonexistent at the time.

4- During the month of Rajab, Al-Makrizi writes the following events.

4/1: (...The plague struck Upper Egypt and increased in Damascus and Aleppo and its estates and neighboring villages; residents of such Levantine cities repented to God; they closed down taverns which offer wine; they stopped harlots and rent-boys from offering their services for customers in the streets; such whores paid taxes to the governor of Aleppo...When the plague lessened and less people died, the people of Aleppo were overjoyed; yet, in order to celebrate, they allowed harlots and rent-boys to resume their shameful activities and reopened taverns and allowed wine-drinking as usual; taxes money continued to be paid by harlots; days later, the plague increased and 800 persons died in one day; the severer plague continued for three more months: Rajab, Shabaan, and Ramadan...). We note here several indications of historical facts about the big criminals who are the sheikhs/clergymen of Satan and the tyrannical rulers/sultans.

4/1/1: We note here that prostitution was allowed by law and that there were female sex workers and male sex workers (i.e., hairless adolescent males); this was made permissible by the four supreme judges and their head Ibn Hajar Al-Askalany who was the supreme judge of the Al-Shafei doctrine. There was an official department to collect taxes from sex workers; pimps paid such taxes and collected more than triple the sums they paid from the (fe)male sex workers; pimps distribute such sex workers in squares, streets, and taverns. As per (Al-Khetat) by Al-Makrizi, sex workers had their uniform and (fe)male pimps were treated with respect at the time. Al-Makrizi mentions that because pimps paid so much taxes, they sometimes forced wine-drinker in taverns to be customers of sex workers or to pay more money to be released without being serviced by such sex workers!   

4/1/2: We note that the 'repentance' of the people of Aleppo was temporary; once the plague lessened and fewer people died, prostitution and wine-drinking were resumed.

4/1/3: We note how Al-Makrizi is meticulous in mentioning the details of time and place (i.e., the lunar months + locations: Upper Egypt, Damascus, and Aleppo)

4/2: (...When the plague became severer in Damascus, more people died among the newcomers who fled from Iraq and from Persian cities where grave injustices spread by rulers; such newcomers were thousands of people who resided in Damascus, Aleppo, and Hama in the Levantine region; no one could count the number of those newcomers who died of the plague...). Of course, such newcomers fled from the Mongol rule in Iraq and Persia; the injustice of the Mongols was severer than that of the Mameluke sultanate in the Levant; yet, most of such new residents died of the plague and no one knew their exact number.

4/3: (...While the plague increased and the number of dead people increased every day, an earthquake occurred in Cairo during the call/Azan of the Afternoon prayers; the walls of my house shook twice; yet, thank God, this earthquake was not strong...). So, we read here about torment inflicted in the form of both the plague and the earthquake. The earthquake that occurred in Cairo caused the walls of the house of Al-Makrizi to shake twice.

4/4: (...Strong winds swept over Damascus and its neighboring towns and villages for two days; most trees were uprooted; crops and fruits were destroyed; many mansions were destroyed partially or wholly; the minaret of the Umayyad grand mosque in Damascus collapsed...). So, we read here about torment inflicted in the form of both the plague and the strong, destructive winds.

4/5: (...Many cows and their calves died of the plague...). So, even cattle/animals died of the plague!

5- During the month of Ramadan, Al-Makrizi writes the following events.

5/1: (...Eighteen persons died in Greater Cairo and their names were recorded in the department of inheritance; when the plague increased in Greater Cairo, hundreds of people died everyday especially children, male slaves, female slaves, and women who died suddenly and swiftly...).

5/1/1: We note that the focus was on enumerating the victims of the plague in Greater Cairo only; the names of those rich ones who died and whose bodies were washed in mosques and their funerals were held were registeredin the department of inheritance as the State had a share of the money of the deceased persons. No one cared to record the number of deaths or names of the victims of the plague in Lower and Upper Egypt (i.e., outside Greater Cairo).

5/1/2: We note that most victims were children, since they were weaker, and (fe)male slaves since they were non-Egyptians who belonged to other races which had weaker immune systems; of course, in regions where plagues/pestilences occur periodically or cyclically, some people died and some others survived after acquiring a level of immunity; some survivors would either die or survive the next period/cycle of any plague. Children and (fe)male slaves lacked such immunity; those who acquired it and survived had higher chances of surviving the next period/cycle of the plague.      

5/2: (...The plague increased in Aleppo, Hama, Tripoli, Homs, Damascus, Al-Ramla, and Gaza, as well as other Levantine cities and towns; no one could count the number of thousands of people who died swiftly on a daily basis; the plague reached Upper Egyptian towns and villages and the Egyptian oases, but the number of dead people was less that in the Levant...). This means that the plague reached from the Levantine region to Upper Egypt and the oases in the Egyptian deserts; it caused swift, sudden death to innumerable victims.   

5/3: (...On the 23rd of Ramadan, the reciting of Al-Bokhary was completed within the attendance of the sultan in the palace along with the four supreme judges and many sheikhs, fiqh scholars, and students; this recital is typical since the reign of the sultan Al-Moayyad Sheikh; this recital is a grave sin and an act of disobedience clothed in the garments of a good deed or an act of obedience. Many of those who recited passages of Al-Bokhary had little share of knowledge and made many mistakes; many of the attendees hardly listened; they usually engage into discussions about any religious matter or topic until they scream and insult one another and declare one another as infidels; they end up being enemies of one another. These loud discussions and quarrels among sheikhs made the Mameluke sultan, leaders, and princes burst out laughing. The sultan Barsbay felt worried about the spread of the plague in Greater Cairo; he asked the judges, sheikhs, and fiqh scholars about the type of sins committed by people that draw God's wrath since the plague is a punishment by Him. Some told the sultan that the spread of fornication is the cause of the plague; some asserted to him that the cause is allowing women (ornamented and without covering their faces) into the streets and markets day and night. The sultan was advised to issue a decree to prevent women from leaving their houses and from entering into markets; some sheikhs proposed never to allow women in the streets unless covered from head to toe; old women who have no sons or husbands or slaves must be allowed to go shopping. Typically in such instances, sheikhs disputed and differed regarding this matter. The sultan Barsbay was inclined to issue a decree to prevent women from leaving their houses for any reason; this way, he thought, the plague would be removed; the sultan commanded all sheikhs to gather in a meeting with him in the palace next Thursday; they agreed to the view favored by the sultan regarding preventing all women from appearing in the streets and markets. Callers spread the news of the decree in all streets of Greater Cairo: no woman is ever to set her feet outside their houses, or to walk through the streets and markets, on the pain of death. Thus, all women of all ages, and female slaves, never showed up in the streets; the governor of Greater Cairo sent soldiers to watch the streets; upon seeing a woman, even if fully veiled, they would beat her severely in public; the callers spread the news about the decree and about the threat of severe punishment to violators of the decree. Women kept to their houses and were never seen it the streets and markets; many old women, widows, female workers, and women who had no male relatives suffered a lot. Markets were filled with goods like perfumes, garments, and victuals, but there were no purchasers; an economic crisis emerged and some merchants were about to go bankrupt...). We note the following.

5/3/1: We note that Al-Bokhary, both the book and the author, was the supreme deity within the dominant religion of Sunnite Sufism which spread within the reign of the Ayyubid sultan Saladin (who made it the alternative replacing Shiite Sufism of his predecessors  the Fatimids) and also during the Mameluke Era. Of course, Al-Bokhary book contains some Sufi hadiths such as the well-known one about God as the enemy waging a war against those who harm the saints/allies. The sanctification of Al-Bokhary book was exemplified by the many books of exegeses and commentaries on Al-Bokhary hadiths by authors like Ibn Hajar and Al-Ainy. No one during the Mameluke Era made an event to celebrate the Quran itself; the official annual celebration each Ramadan was to recite passages of Al-Bokhary book from the 1st until 23rd of Ramadan inside the palace (the Citadel of the Mount) in Cairo where the Mameluke sultan ruled. The attendees of such event of worshiping Al-Bokhary were the big criminals: the Mameluke sultan (i.e., Barsbay), many Mameluke princes/leaders, the four supreme judges (including Ibn Hajar), other judges, fiqh scholars, and clergymen/sheikhs.  

5/3/2: We note that Al-Makrizi, with his unique critical mind as a historian and an eyewitness, criticizes this recital of Al-Bokhary and ridicules those who quarrel and dispute and hardly listen and how reciters made mistakes and no one noticed.

5/3/3: During this recital of Al-Bokhary book in Ramadan, 841 A.H., the plague increased; Barsbay had to ask the supreme judges and the sheikhs among the attendees (including Ibn Hajar and Al-Ainy) about the grave sins which might be the cause of the plague which is a torment inflicted on sinners by the Lord God; the reason, in their view, was the spread of fornication among the masses. This is strange because heterosexual and homosexual prostitution was officially allowed and sex workers paid taxes. Some misogynists assumed that the plague would be removed if women would be prevented from appearing in the public sphere on the pain of death! Ibn Hajar and Al-Ainy flattered the sultan by subscribing to this view when the sultan was inclined to issue a decree to that effect! This caused many troubles to the people of Cairo.     

5/4: (...In order to alleviate the decree of the sultan and to stop the troubles caused by it, callers roamed the streets to allow female slaves to go shopping in markets but they must never cover their faces; the same goes to old women; all women of all ages were allowed into the public baths but never to spend the night there...This ended many troubles for many people and merchants...).

5/4/1: This means that by allowing some exceptions, an alleviation of the sultan's decree took place.

5/4/2: We note that the spread of fornication (apart from prostitution) went alongside with the habit of making women wear niqabs (or full veil covering the face); this means that niqabs facilitate sins like adultery/fornication since women who covered their faces could easily cuckold their husbands and have sex within the crowded Sufi celebrations of saints and their 'holy' mausoleums; sinful women would remove their niqabs and have sex with their lovers during such events away from the prying eyes as per what we read in the book titled (Al-Madkhal) by Ibn Al-Hajj Al-Maghraby.  

5/5: (...While many people died of the plague, some were about to die of hunger when swarms of locusts swept over Greater Cairo and its suburbs for several days...). So, we read here about torment inflicted in the form of both the plague and the swarms of locusts which destroyed crops.

5/6: (...The plague caused the death of thousands of people (Arab, Turcoman, and Bedouin people) in Iraq on a daily basis; many towns and villages no longer have any residents; in many instances, there was no one to bury the corpses of the dead; many corpses were thrown into the Euphrates...No one was there to care for the horses and cattle which died of hunger...News came that at least twelve thousand persons died in Gaza this month; many Levantine towns became empty as all their residents died; the plague reached the land of the Christians in the north as well...). This means that the plague increased and spread within the regions between Iraq and Egypt and it reached parts of Europe as well.

We continue in the next article.

The views and opinions of authors whose articles and comments are posted on this site do not necessarily reflect the views of IQC.