Primary sources on the Bajīlah’s ‘fourth’

al-Baṭḥā, a contemporary settlement in the Sawād, on the banks of the Euphrates River.
al-Baṭḥā, a contemporary settlement in the Sawād, on the banks of the Euphrates River. [1]
In the aftermath of the Battle of al-Qādisiyyah (Ar. Maʿrakat al-Qādisiyyah or معركة القادسية; also spelled Qadisiyya, Qadesiyyah, Kadisiya, Ghadesia, etc.) during the conquest of Sāsānian Iraq in the 630s, the Arab-Muslim invaders occupied the alluvial ‘black’ land of central Iraq, known as the Sawād. In due time, many of the tribesmen who took part in the engagements at al-Qādisiyyah and elsewhere on the Iraqi front began to colonise this rich, fertile region. During the first century of Islam, the Muslim population of Iraq swelled as tribes settled and expanded their populations through reproduction and the addition of non-Muslim clients. The vast body of literature surrounding the Battle of al-Qādisiyyah contains minor reports that appear to depict part of this process as it concerned the tribe of Bajīlah (Bajilah). In fact, the accounts not only relate the tribe’s successful and then unsuccessful land claims, but also seem to have provided an opportunity for tribal glorification and narrative embellishment regarding the Bajīlah’s participation in the Arab-Muslim conquest. Elsewhere, I have argued that scholars may apply an analysis that uses the textual content (Ar. matn) and the chains of transmission (Ar. isnād, pl. asānīd) to shed light on the narrative development of Islamic historiographical literature. Here, I present the primary source literature relating to the traditions of the Bajīlah’s land claims in the aftermath of the Battle of al-Qādisiyyah.

Table of contents

1. Abū Yūsuf (c. 731/732–798)

A well in the Sawād area of south-central Iraq.
A well in the Sawād area of south-central Iraq. [2]
One of the early heads of the Ḥanafī school of law, Abū Yūsuf Yaʿqūb b. Ibrāhīm al-Anṣārī al-Kūfī (c. 731/732–Baghdād, 798) was an important judge (Ar. qāḍī) during the period of Hārūn ar-Rashīd (r. 786–809), who was the first to receive the title of Grand Qāḍī (Ar. qāḍī al-quḍāt) from a caliph. Of Arab origin, he was descended from a Madīnan contemporary of Muḥammad; during his lifetime, Abū Yūsuf’s son also became a qāḍī. Of the numerous works attributed to him, only one—the Kitāb al-kharāj (‘The Book of the land-tax’), which deals with public finance, taxation, and justice—has survived (three other works, which do not appear in the historical bibliographies of Abū Yūsuf, are also extant). Although his renown as a scholar has never been in doubt, Schacht highlighted the ‘frequency with which he changed his opinions, not always for the better’, probably as a result of his experience as a judge. (Biography based upon Schacht, I 164-165.)

1.1 Ismāʿīl b. Abī Khālid←Qays b. Abī Ḥāzim

The tribe of Bajīla formed one-fourth of the army which fought the Battle of al-Qādisīya. When a man of the Thaqīf, who deserted to the Persians, informed them that the Bajīla tribe are the most dangerous, the Persians confronted the Bajīla fighters with 16 elephants, while against all the rest only two were deployed. Abū Thawr, ʿAmr b. Maʿdīkārib [sic], however, encouraged his men saying: O you associates of the Emigrants! Be like lions! The Persians are like a roe-buck against a spear and their cavalry cannot attack. I called out: Rely on God O Abū Thawr! And then I saw how a Persian threw his spear at him but hit his horse, and how ʿAmr attacked and slaughtered the Persian like a lamb, taking away from him two golden bracelets, one embroidered coat and a golden belt. After the enemy was vanquished a quarter of al-Sawād was given to the Bajīla tribe and they possessed it for three years. When Jarīr visited ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb he said to him: O Jarīr, I am responsible for the distribution of the lands, and I think that your land should go back to the Muslims as a whole. Thereupon Jarīr caused the lands to be vacated and ʿUmar granted him a stipend of 80 dinars.

Source: Abū Yūsuf, Kharāj, 31-32 (Arabic); English translation from idem, Taxation, 95-96. (Cf. Yaḥyā b. Ādam, 2.2–2.4.)

2. Yaḥyā b. Ādam (c. 757/758–818)

Ruins of the royal palace (Ayvān-e Khosrow) in Madāʾin (Ctesiphon), the Sāsānian capital.
Ruins of the royal palace (Ayvān-e Khosrow) in Madāʾin (Ctesiphon), the Sāsānian capital. [3]
Likely of Persian origin, Abū Zakariyyāʾ Yaḥyā b. Ādam b. Sulaymān (c. 757/758–Fam al-Ṣilḥ, 21 September 818) was an Arab client (Ar. mawlā) who grew up in al-Kūfah. Unlike his colleague Abū Yūsuf, he held no public posts and seems to have concerned himself solely with scholarly pursuits. His independent legal positions kept him outside the consolidating juridical system, despite his close relationship to his teacher, al-Ḥasan b. Ṣāliḥ b. Ḥayy (d. 784), a Zaydī teacher and Kūfan jurist (Ar. faqīh), and the fact that his orthodox traditionalism appealed to Ḥanbalīs. Yaḥyā’s contemporaries and later writers praised him as a leading light of Islamic law and traditionalism, and of Islamic scholarship in general. His Kitāb al-kharāj (‘The Book of the land-tax’) complemented Abū Yūsuf’s work of the same name and comprises mostly a compilation of traditions (Ar. akhbār) relating to the land-tax for Muslims and non-Muslims (Ar. dhimmīs). In particular, the text addresses the case of the Sawād, the rich alluvial lands of Iraq. This book’s emphasis on authentic tradition and its early date of composition make it a valuable looking-glass into early Islamic perceptions. (Biography based upon Schmucker, XI 243-245.)

2.1 Abū ʿAlī Ismāʿīl b. Muḥammad b. Ismāʿīl aṣ-Ṣaffār←Abū Muḥammad al-Ḥasan b. ʿAlī b. ʿAffān al-Kūfī←Yaḥyā b. Ādam←ʿAbd as-Salām b. Ḥarb←Ismāʿīl b. Abī Khālid←Qays b. Abī Ḥāzim

ʿUmar gave to Jarīr and his tribe [of Bajīlah] the fourth part of the Sawād and they held it two or three years. Then Jarīr went visiting ʿUmar together with ʿAmmār [b. Yāsir]. ʿUmar said to him: Oh Jarīr! Were I not responsible for the division (lawlā innī qāsim al-masʾul), you would be left as you are, but I think you should give it back to the Muslims. So they returned it, and ʿUmar gave them 80 dinars.

Source: Yaḥyā b. Ādam, Livre, 29 (Arabic); English translation from idem, Taxation, 42§109.

Depiction of the Battle of al-Qādisiyyah from a manuscript of the Persian epic Shāh-nāmeh.
Depiction of the Battle of al-Qādisiyyah from a manuscript of the Persian epic Shāh-nāmeh. [4]
2.2 Abū ʿAlī Ismāʿīl b. Muḥammad b. Ismāʿīl aṣ-Ṣaffār←Abū Muḥammad al-Ḥasan b. ʿAlī b. ʿAffān al-Kūfī←Yaḥyā b. Ādam←Ibn Abī Zāʾidah←Ismāʿīl b. Abī Khālid←Qays b. Abī Ḥāzim

On the battlefield of al-Qādisīya, we were one-fourth of the people, so ʿUmar gave us the fourth part of the Sawād and we held it for three years. Then Jarīr went to visit ʿUmar who told him: By God! If I were not the one responsible for the division, you would be left on what was allotted to you, but I think you should return it to the Muslims. This (Jarīr) did. ʿUmar allowed him 80 dinars.

Source: Yaḥyā b. Ādam, Livre, 29 (Arabic); English translation from idem, Taxation, 42§110.

2.3 Abū ʿAlī Ismāʿīl b. Muḥammad b. Ismāʿīl aṣ-Ṣaffār←Abū Muḥammad al-Ḥasan b. ʿAlī b. ʿAffān al-Kūfī←Yaḥyā b. Ādam←Ibn Mubārak←Ḥammād b. Salamah←Dāwūd b. Abī Hind←ash-Shaʿbī

ʿUmar said to Jarīr: Would you like to go to al-ʿIrāq if I allow you a fourth or a third of the land and everything, after the ‘fifth’ (has been deducted)?

Source: Yaḥyā b. Ādam, Livre, 29 (Arabic); English translation from idem, Taxation, 42§111.

2.4 Abū ʿAlī Ismāʿīl b. Muḥammad b. Ismāʿīl aṣ-Ṣaffār←Abū Muḥammad al-Ḥasan b. ʿAlī b. ʿAffān al-Kūfī←Yaḥyā b. Ādam←Ibn Mubārak←Ismāʿīl b. Abī Khālid←Qays b. Abī Ḥāzim

ʿUmar gave (the tribe of) Bajīla the fourth of the Sawād. They held it for two years. Then Jarīr visted ʿUmar. The latter told him: If I were not the one responsible for the division, you could stay on what was allotted to you, but I think you should return it. And Jarīr returned it, and was allowed 80 dinars.

Source: Yaḥyā b. Ādam, Livre, 29 (Arabic); English translation from idem, Taxation, 42§112.

continued on the next page pages 1 | 2 | 3

Bibliography and further reading

Abū Yūsuf Yaʿqūb b. Ibrāhīm al-Kūfī. Kitāb al-kharāj. 1st edition. Cairo: al-Maṭbaʿah as-Salafiyyah wa-maktabatuhā, 1934.

Abū Yūsuf Yaʿqūb b. Ibrāhīm al-Kūfī. Taxation in Islām. Ed. and transl. from Arabic by Aharon Ben Shemesh. Vol. 3, Abū Yūsuf’s Kitāb al-kharāj. Leiden & London: E J Brill; Luzac, 1969.

al-Balādhurī, Aḥmad b. Yaḥyā. Liber expugnationis regionum. 2nd ed. Ed. Michael Jan de Goeje. 1866. Reprint, Leiden: E J Brill, 1968. [online]

al-Balādhurī, Aḥmad b. Yaḥyā. The Origins of the Islamic state, being a translation from the Arabic accompanied with annotations, geographic and historic notes of the Kitâb futûḥ al-buldân of al-Imâm abu-l ʿAbbâs Aḥmad ibn-Jâbir al-Balâdhuri. Khayats Oriental reprint, 11. Ed. and transl. from Arabic by Philip Khuri Hitti. Vol. 1. 1916. Reprint, Beirut: Khayats, 1966. [online]

Becker, Carl Heinrich. ‘al-Balād̲h̲urī, Aḥmad b. Yaḥyā b. Ḏj̲ābir b. Dāwūd’. In Encyclopædia of Islam. 2nd ed. Leiden: E J Brill, 1960–2005. (pp. I 971-971)

Bosworth, Clifford Edmund. ‘al-Ṭabarī, Abū Ḏj̲afar Muḥammad b. Ḏj̲arīr b. Yazīd’. In Encyclopædia of Islam. 2nd ed. Leiden: E J Brill, 1960–2005. (pp. X 11-15)

Donner, Fred McGraw. The Early Islamic conquests. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981. [online (excerpt)]

Görke, Andreas. ‘Eschatology, history and the common link: A Study in methodology’. In Method and theory in the study of Islamic origins, ed. Herbert Berg, 179-208. Islamic history and civilization: Studies and texts, 49. Leiden & Boston: E J Brill, 2003.

Ibn Abī Shaybah, Abū Bakr ʿAbd-Allāh b. Muḥammad al-Kūfī. Kitāb al-Muṣannaf fī al-aḥādīth wa-ʾl-athār. 15 vols. 1st ed. Riyāḍ: Maktabat ar-Rushd Nāshirūn, 2004/1425.

al-Jaṣṣāṣ, Aḥmad b. ʿAlī Abū Bakr ar-Rāzī. Aḥkām al-Qurʾān. 5 vols. Ed. Muḥammad aṣ-Ṣādiq Qamḥawī. Beirut: Dār Iḥyāʾ at-Turāth al-ʿArabiyyah, 1992/1312. [online]

Juynboll, Gautier H A. ‘(Re)appraisal of some technical terms in ḥadīth science’. Islamic Law & Society 8.3 (2001): 303-349. [online]

Juynboll, Gautier H A. ‘Some isnād-analytical methods illustrated on the basis of several woman-demeaning sayings from ḥadīth literature’. In Ḥadīth: Origins and developments, ed. Harald Motzki, 175-216. The Formation of the classical Islamic world, 28. Aldershot, UK & Burlington: Ashgate/Variorum, 2004.

al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī, Abū Bakr Aḥmad b. ʿAlī ash-Shāfiʿī. Taʾrīkh Baghdād. 17 vols. 1st ed. Beirut: Dār al-Gharb al-Islāmī, 2001/1422.

Landau-Tasseron, Ella. ‘Sayf ibn ʿUmar in medieval and modern scholarship’. Der Islam 67.1 (1990): 1-26. [online]

Lewental, D Gershon. ‘Qādisiyyah, then and now: A Case study of history and memory, religion, and nationalism in Middle Eastern discourse’. Ph.D dissertation, Department of Near Eastern & Judaic Studies, Brandeis University, 2011.

Morony, Michael G. Iraq after the Muslim conquest. 1st edition. 1984. Reprint, Piscataway, New Jersey: Gorgias Press, 2005.

Motzki, Harald. ‘Dating Muslim traditions: A Survey’. Arabica 52.2 (April 2005): 204-253. [online]

Noth, Albrecht, in collaboration with Lawrence Irving Conrad. The Early Arabic historical tradition: A Source-critical study. Studies in late antiquity and early Islam, 3. Transl. from German by Michael Bonner. 2nd edition. Princeton: Darwin Press, 1994.

Pellat, Charles. ‘Ibn Abī S̲h̲ayba, Abū Bakr ʿAbd Allāh b. Muḥammad b. Ibrāhīm (= Abū S̲h̲ayba) b. ʿUt̲h̲mān al-ʿAbsī al-Kūfī’. In Encyclopædia of Islam. 2nd ed. Leiden: E J Brill, 1960–2005. (pp. III 692)

Schacht, Joseph. ‘Abū Yūsuf Yaʿḳūb b. Ibrāhīm al-Anṣārī al-Kūfī’. In Encyclopædia of Islam. 2nd ed. Leiden: E J Brill, 1960–2005. (pp. I 164-165)

Schmucker, Werner. ‘Yaḥyā b. Ādam b. Sulaymān’. In Encyclopædia of Islam. 2nd ed. Leiden: E J Brill, 1960–2005. (pp. XI 243-245)

Sellheim, Rudolf. ‘al-Ḵh̲aṭīb al-Bag̲h̲dādī, Abū Bakr Aḥmad b. ʿAlī b. T̲h̲ābit b. Aḥmad b. Mahdī al-S̲h̲āfiʿī, known as al-Ḵh̲aṭīb al-Bag̲h̲dādī’. In Encyclopædia of Islam. 2nd ed. Leiden: E J Brill, 1960–2005. (pp. IV 1111-1112)

Spies, Otto. ‘al-Ḏj̲aṣṣāṣ, Aḥmad b. ʿAlī Abū Bakr al-Rāzī’. In Encyclopædia of Islam. 2nd ed. Leiden: E J Brill, 1960–2005. (pp. II 486)

aṭ-Ṭabarī, Abū Jaʿfar Muḥammad b. Jarīr. Annales quos scripsit Abu Djafar Mohammed ibn Djarir at-Tabari. 15 vols. Ed. Michael Jan de Goeje, Jakob Barth, Theodor Nöldeke, et al. Leiden: E J Brill, 1879–1901. [online (vol. 4)] [online (vol. 5)]

aṭ-Ṭabarī, Abū Jaʿfar Muḥammad b. Jarīr. The History of al-Ṭabarī. Bibliotheca Persica. Transl. from Arabic by Khalid Yahya Blankinship. Vol. 11, The Challenge to the empires: A.D. 633–635/A.H. 12–13. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993.

aṭ-Ṭabarī, Abū Jaʿfar Muḥammad b. Jarīr. The History of al-Ṭabarī. Bibliotheca Persica. Transl. from Arabic by Yohanan Friedmann. Vol. 12, The Battle of al-Qādisiyyah and the conquest of Syria and Palestine: A.D. 635–637/A.H. 14–15. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992.

Yaḥyā b. Ādam al-Qurashī. Le livre de l’impôt foncier. Ed. Theodoor Willem Jan Juynboll. Leiden: E J Brill, 1896. [online (US only)]

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Related links

Image credits

  1. al-Baṭḥā, a contemporary settlement in the Sawād, on the banks of the Euphrates River. Source: University of Michigan Museum of Anthropology: Mesopotamian landscapes.
  2. A well in the Sawād area of south-central Iraq. Source: University of Michigan Museum of Anthropology: Mesopotamian landscapes.
  3. Ruins of the royal palace (Ayvān-e Khosrow) in Madāʾin (Ctesiphon), the Sāsānian capital. Source: Wikipedia.
  4. Depiction of the Battle of al-Qādisiyyah from a manuscript of the Persian epic Shāh-nāmeh. Source: British Library (MS. I.O.Islamic 3265 (1614) f. 602r).

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