Harold Alfred MacMichael.

A history of the Arabs in the Sudan and some account of the people who preceded them and of the tribes inhabiting Dárûr (Volume 2) online

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UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA. SAN DIEGO




3 1822 01947 1572






LiSRAR'^



UNtvEPSirr OF

CALIFORNIA
SAN DIE60 /






UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN DIEGO



3 1822 01947 1572



Central University Library

Date Due




UCSDLib.



M2>

Y '



A HISTORY OF THE ARABS
IN THE SUDAN



IN TWO VOLUMES
VOLUME II



CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS

C. F. CLAY, Manager

LONDON : FETTER LANE, E.G. 4




NEW YORK : THE MACMILLAN CO.

BOMBAY I

CALCUTTaI MACMILLAN and CO., Ltd.

MADRAS I

TORONTO : THE M.^CMILLAN CO. OF

CANADA, Ltd.
TOKYO : MARUZEN-KABUSHIKI-KAISHA



ALL RIGHTS RESERVED



A HISTORY OF THE ARABS
IN THE SUDAN

AND SOME ACCOUNT OF THE PEOPLE

WHO PRECEDED THEM AND OF THE

TRIBES INHABITING DARFUR



BY

H. A. MACMICHAEL, D.S.O.

^DAN POLITICAL SERVICE



VOLUME II



CAMBRIDGE

AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS

1922



CONTENTS



Part IV

THE NATIVE MANUSCRIPTS OF THE SUDAN



Explanatory Note

Introduction

List of Manuscripts Translated :

Note. "A" denotes Ga'alitn pedigrees, "B" Guhayna pedigrees,
"C" various other pedigrees and "D" more general historical
treatises.

Fuller details than those given below will be found in each case
in the form of introductory notes to the translations.

BA Full pedigree of Ga'aliin and Guhayna, and general in-
formation re other tribes ......

AB Ditto. By Ahmad ibn Isma'il el Azhari ....
ABC Pedigrees of Ga'aliin, Guhayna, Mahass and others, and
some biographical details. By Sadikel Hadra .

A I Pedigree of Muhammad 'Ali Kenan, a Ga'ali .

A 2 Pedigree of Muhammad Ishak Muhammad Sheddad, and
general information about tribes ....

A 3 Genealogical extracts concerning Ga'aliin etc.

A 4 Ditto

A 5 Ga'ah pedigree of el Hadi el Hag Ahmad

A 6 ,, „ of Zubayr Pasha Rahma

A 7 „ „ including the Meks of Tekali .

A8 „ „ of 'Abd el Kadir 'Abdulla

A 9 „ „ of Muhammad el Nur Ketayna

A 10 „ „ of Sheikh el Taib Ahmad Hashim, Mufti

of the Sudan .......

A II Full pedigree of the Ga'aliIn, and in particular the Ba
tahi'n, and information about other tribes

B I Full pedigree of Guhayna, and in particular of the
GELfLAB ........

B 2 Extract from a Guhani pedigree concerning the Dar Hamid

B 3 Fragment from a Guhani pedigree

C I Two full Kawahla pedigrees ....

C 2 Pedigree of Idri's Muhammad, a Kenani

C 3 Pedigree of Hamid Muhammad Gabr el Dar, a Musaba'awi



PAGE

vii



i6
6i

8i

lOI

103
III

"5
117
118
119
121
124

126

127

139
145
147
148

153
154



VI



CONTENTS



C4

C5
C6

C7
C8
C9

D I

D2

D3

D4
D5

D6



Index
Map



Extract from a Mahassi pedigree . . . . .

Two Shukri'a pedigrees ......

A Sherifi pedigree from Wad Hasuna ....

Pedigree of Ahmad ibn Musd'ad, a Sherifi

Full pedigree of the Mesallamia

Pedigree of 'Abdulla ibn Dafa'alla el 'Araki, a Sherifi, and
various sections of RufA'a ......

General genealogical and historical information concerning
various tribes ........

Abbreviated chronicle of the Fung kings and general items
of information about various tribes ....

Tahakdt zvad Dayfulla, a series of biographies of holy
men. With fifty appendices .....

An account of the Nubians. By Daud Kubara of Haifa

A series of four articles dealing with the 'Abdullab, the
'Ar.\kiin, the tribes descended from el 'Abbas, and the
Rikabia .........

General historical information about various Arab tribes .

A histor}' of the Fung kingdom and the Turkish period
down to 1871 A.D. With Appendices, I The Chronology of
the Fung Kings. 11 Extract from the Portuguese of Paez's
Historia Aethiopiae .......



PAGE

156

157
161
166
168

175
181

213

217
324

343



• 354

• 439

IN POCKET



GENEALOGICAL TREES in addition to those printed in the Text

Trees illustrating MS. BA
Tree ,,

Trees ,,

Tree



Trees



„ AB




„ ABC




„ A2




,> A3




„ A4




„ A II




„ Bi




„ C8




„ C9




„ I) I




,. 1^3





3 folding sheets


between 60 and 61


folding sheet




facing 80


4 folding sheets


between


100 and lOi


folding sheet




facing II








,, 114








„ 116








.. 138








- 144








.. 174








„ 180








„ 212



3 folding sheets between 272 and 273



EXPLANATORY NOTE

1 . Square brackets [ ] are used :

(a) to enclose words which do not occur in the Arabic text
but which are added in the translation to complete the obvious
meaning ;

(b) to enclose a transliteration of an Arabic proper name or
other word.

2. When a line of dots occurs thus, . . . , some words or sentences
have been omitted in the translation. Such omissions are made in
six cases:

(a) When there occur laudations of God following mention
of His name.

(b) When there occur complimentary phrases, such as "upon
him be blessings," which always follow mention of Muhammad,
the Prophets or the Companions.

(c) Where a passage is identical, or practically so, with a
passage quoted elsewhere. In such a case the reference is
always given.

(d) — Chiefly in AB and D3 — where the subject-matter is of
insufficient interest to warrant translation. In such a case a
short precis is generally given of the passage omitted.

(e) When the author has added an explanation as to what are
the vowel points of the preceding proper name : the result in
such a case is made clear by the English transliteration.

(/) When a word is illegible: in this case the word "illegible"
is added in brackets.

3. When it is said that a passage is identical with another the
statement must be understood with the implied reservation that there
may be slight grammatical variations not affecting the meaning.

4. The textual notes give obvious emendations for misprints
that occur in the text, and conversions of dates from the Muham-



viii EXPLANATORY NOTE

madan to the Gregorian calendar. As regards the former, it may be
noted that throughout the MSS. there is a continuous confusion be-
tween J iind e.

5. It is not enough merely to compare the genealogical trees and
neglect the text, because several persons or tribes, whose names occur
in the text, are not entered in the trees owing to their relationship to
the main stock not being specifically defined.

6. In common parlance the forms " Ga'aliin," " 'Arakiin," etc.
are used in all cases instead of the grammatically correct forms
" Ga'aliyyun," " 'Arakiyyun," etc. In the MSS. sometimes one
form and sometimes the other is used, independently of the gram-
matical construction. For the sake of consistency I have used, in
translating the MSS., the form ending in -iyyun throughout.

7. The paragraphs have been numbered by the translator for
the purpose of reference.

Note

The three trees following Chapter i of Part II illustrate the genea-
logical connections between the Arabian tribes to which reference is
frequent in Part IV. Thus, when there is a reference to Wiistenfeld's
Register in the notes, recourse may be had to these trees, which are
compiled from that work, and the introductory note which precedes
them in Vol. i, p. 154.



PART IV

THE NATIVE MANUSCRIPTS OF THE SUDAN



M.S. II



INTRODUCTION

I The line of cleavage between the two great Arab groups of
descendants of Kahtan on the one hand and of Isma'il and 'Adnan
on the other has not been obscured by the lapse of ages, nor by the
tremendous unifying force of a common religion, nor by continuous
intermarriage, nor by migration to distant lands. The distinction,
still jealously preserved in Arabia i, is, in another form, clearly trace-
able in the Sudan at the present day, and its persistence is due to
the unquestioned authority of the Kuran and of certain of the
Traditions,

As being a revelation from the very mouth of God the contents
of the Kuran are famiUar to the masses and unimpeachable both in
doctrinal matters and as a storehouse of historical facts. The best
authenticated traditions carry an almost equal weight.

No one familiar with the historical portions of the Kuran and the
biography of the Prophet could be oblivious of the distinction be-
tween the Kahtanite and the Isma'ilite; and, in the second place, the
careful preservation of pedigrees is enjoined by the Kuran and the
traditions as an act of piety. The injunction is frequently quoted
and to some extent obeyed.

Thus any respectable member of society, and particularly the
feM whose concern is immediately with things of religion, must
needs be prepared to produce his pedigree. Some of the links may
be faulty — they invariably are so — but the ground is fairly sure in
places, and by a system of comparison one obtains certain valuable
indications.

II Corresponding to the old division between Kahtanite and Is-
ma'ilite we find in the Sudan a definite line drawn between the two
great groups of tribes claiming descent on the one hand from Gu-
HAYNA and on the other from 'Abbas the uncle of the Prophet.

The period from the present day to that of the Ashab is generally
shewn as covering about forty generations, and in the case of a
typical feki or sheikh of good family one may generally accept the
first five or six generations from the present as stated accurately, and

^ See Zwemer, p. 259. "The animosity of these two races to each other is
unaccountable but invincible. Like two chemical products which instantly explode
when placed in contact, so has it always been found impossible for Yemenite and
Maadite \i.e. 'Adnanite] to live quietly together."



4 THE NATIVE MANUSCRIPTS IV. ii.

the next eight or nine as less so. Then follow seven or eight suc-
cessive ancestors whose names rest more firmly on the accepted
authority of contemporary 7risbas compiled during that Augustan
age of the Sudan, the period of the early Fung kingdom.

Beyond these are the weakest links in the chain, some fourteen
or fifteen names probably due in part to the inventiveness of the
genealogists of the Fung period and their anxiety to connect their
own generation with that of the immediate descendants of the Com-
panions of the Prophet.

III In the early centuries of Islam so much attention was paid, by
generations that scrupulously observed the behest of Muhammad
concerning pedigrees, to the exact inter-relationship of his Com-
panions and their ancestors that the native scribe of the present is
naturally content to accept without question the statement of any
ancient genealogist whose work may be accessible to him.

The popular idea of the value of a long pedigree is easily estimated
from the opening paragraphs of the larger nishas that have been
translated.

Unfortunately the Arab genealogies have always been almost
purelv patrilinear, and little account is taken of the wives and
daughters and the collateral lines. It is noticeable, however, that
whereas in the more recent generations the mother is not mentioned
at all unless for some very special reason, her name is not infrequently
given in the groups of ancestors who lived about the early Fung
period, but then only incidentally and with a view to showing which
of the sons of some particular man were full brothers and which
half-brothers. So, too, in the group of ancestors connecting the
generations last mentioned with the better-known generations of
those who lived in the seventh and eighth centuries a.d. one some-
times finds such names as ''so and so el Khazragi," meaning that his
mother was a Khazragia^.

IV Now the traditions current among the Arabs of the Sudan on
the subject of their racial origins and the circumstances and date of
the migration of their forebears to the Sudan are almost entirely
based upon statements they have found in the jiisbas handed down
to them, though in a few cases their stock of information has been
supplemented by the result of inadequate uncritical and unenlightened
foragings among the works of one or two mediaeval Arabic historians.

'I'he Arabic historians if studied with greater care might well have
saved the genealogists of the Sudan from a vast number of inaccuracies,
but, as it is, they have been so neglected that, unless the context
^ See BA, cxxxni note.



iV.vii. OF THE SUDAN 5

forbids, one is often inclined to accept a similarity between two
statements as corroborative evidence.

The nisba-v^riter relies as a rule upon the accuracy of the
inherited or copied nisba, and it is only in deaUng with the more
recent generations that tradition, other than that derived from the
nisbas, plays any important part.

V From among the mass of useless and untrustworthy material con-
tained in the manuscripts it is not difficult to pick out certain definite
and persistent traditions which are distinctly interesting. In addition
to them there are made in passing numerous remarks and asides from
which one may make some not unimportant deductions. It cannot
be too often insisted that the proper method is to regard the tribal
nisbas rather as parables than as statements of fact. Considered in
that light they have a very definite value.

By piecing together such scraps of historical information as are
available from the native manuscripts into an abbreviated and co-
herent whole one discovers to what extent the result coincides with
or differs from or supplements the information similarly derivable
from the works of non- Sudanese authors, whether they be mediaeval
Arabs or modern European travellers ; and from certain of the manu-
scripts one learns something of the sociology of the people and of
their customs and beliefs.

VI But one must make some attempt to reply to the inevitable
questions — "What is the general character of these native manu-
scripts ? " "Who wrote them ? " " What is their date ? "

VII The word nisba, by which the majority is known, means
literally a pedigree. Hence the true nisba is avowedly genealogical
in purpose and items of narrative are only incidental to the main
theme.

As a rule the author or copyist, after the usual confession of faith,
if he desires to do more than give a bald list of his ancestors, re-
capitulates his reasons for writing the nisba : it is an act of piety
enjoined by the Prophet, and the author had found that there was
some danger of links in the genealogical chain being lost or con-
fused^. Then follows a genealogical exposition, usually of the Gu-
HAYNA or the 'Abbasid stock in the Sudan, or of both, including the
author's or the copyist's own pedigree from father to son. In addition
the nisba often contains towards the end a series of short stereo-
typed notes on the origin of the chief Arab tribes of the Sudan.

^ Much of what is said about this bears a very strong resemblance to the con-
tents of the first chapter of Ibn Khaldun's second book, i.e. Vol. ii in the Arabic
edition. This second book, unlike the first and third, has not, I believe, been yet
translated into either English or French.



6 THE NATIVE MANUSCRIPTS iv.vii.

This type of Jiisba is both the oldest and the commonest.
Hundreds of examples must exist in the Sudan, but the great majority
of them are not merely incomplete but hardly pretend to be more
than extracts copied from a larger manuscript. Misreadings and
omissions abound. Interpolations also occur fairly frequently, but
happily the Sudanese Arab excels at the type of work that demands
no mental effort whatever, and as a copyist he may count this as a
merit. Where interpolations have been added the fact is almost
always obvious and consequently not without use.
VIII The father of this type of 7iisba is undoubtedly that renowned
but very elusive person, " el Samarkandi." As a writer of parables in
the form of genealogies he deserves a considerable meed of praise.

The second type of manuscript, sometimes included under the
term nisba, takes the form of a semi-historical, semi-genealogical
hotch-potch founded partly on nishas proper and partly on some
ill-digested Arabic history or encyclopaedia.

Thirdly, we have copies of a history^ of the Fung kingdom and
the Turkish period which followed it by an unknown author, who
probably wrote between 1870 and 1880 but had access to older
records.

Fourthly, we meet occasionally with a treasured copy of the
well-known Tabakdt wad Dayfulla^, a series of biographies of the
Arab holy men of the Sudan, containing many anecdotes and his-
torical data.

Into a fifth category may be classed a number of present-day
works dealing with the history of some particular region or with
certain specified tribes. These are founded partly on tradition and
partly on the manuscripts described^.

IX A word must be said here as to the "Samarkandi" referred to
as the originator of the most typical nisbas. It must be confessed
that nothing really definite is known about him at all. All we have
to go upon may be summed up as follows: hardly had the Fung
and their Arab allies overthrown the kingdom of Soba in 1504 when
they were threatened with invasion by Sultan Seli'm who had con-
quered Egypt in 15 17. 'Omara Dunkas therefore thought it well to
write to Seli'm and explain that the inhabitants of his kingdom were
Arabs of exalted lineage. "With this letter he sent a book of the
pedigrees of the Arab tribes in his kingdom compiled for him by
el Imam el Samarkandi, one of the learned men of Sennar; and when

'1)7. ^D3.

» Part IV consists of examples of all these types of MSS., and remarks as to
authorship and reliability are given in each case in an introductory note.



IV. IX. OF THE SUDAN 7

this book reached the Suhan Seh'm its contents delighted him and he
renounced the attack on Sennar^."

Of el Samarkandi nothing more is known. He was probably one
of the itinerant fekis who were attracted from Egypt by the fame
of the new kingdom founded in the Gezi'ra and by the probability
that in the vanity and credulity of its rulers some profit might be
found for himself. His original work has entirely disappeared and
the numerous "exact copies" of it that are periodically reported are
never more than garbled extracts.

There are nine references to el Samarkandi in the manuscripts
that follow: four of them are in A 2, two in A 11, two in C 5, and
one in D 6. From A 2 one gathers that el Samarkandi 's method was
to give the pedigree and branches of the Ga'ali stock and so connect
them with the Beni 'Abbas; then to tell how one Sulayman of the
Beni Ommayya migrated through Abyssinia to the Sudan about
750 A.D., when the 'Abbasids were supplanting the Ommayyads, and
became ancestor of the Fung; and finally, perhaps, to enumerate the
Arab tribes of the Sudan and state very shortly from what Arabian
ancestor each was descended and whence and when it migrated to
the Sudan.

From A II one gets the same impression but is told that there
were two persons named el Samarkandi, Mahmud el Samarkandi
and 'Abdulla ibn Sa'id el Samarkandi. One of them was apparently
called "el Samarkandi the Great." C 5 adds nothing to our informa-
tion. D6 speaks of "Abu Mahmud el Samarkandi." No direct
information is vouchsafed in any of the manuscripts as to the date
or life of el Samarkandi ; and D 7, which makes a point of mention-
ing such savants as came to the Fung court, refers to no such person.
To non- Sudanese literature so far as I am aware he is entirely
unknown.

It would be unjustifiable, I think, to write him down a myth.
His fame must rest on some basis or other of actuality. If one accept
the gist of Na'um Bey's account of him it is certainly allowable to
remark that at the time when el Samarkandi composed his work
there must have been a fairly large fund of information still available
about the circumstances of the entry of the Arabs into the Sudan
and their tribal affinities. El Samarkandi would naturally make use
of this, and the Arab chieftains of the day would be only too eager
to supply him with genealogical details and tradition concerning

^ Translated from Na'um Bey Shukayr, ii, pp. 73, 74. Cp. Crowfoot in A.-E.
Sudan, i, 319. Na'um Bey, I believe, got his facts by hearsay at Khartoum about
the time of the reoccupation of the Sudan.



8 THE NATIVE MANUSCRIPTS iv. ix.*

themselves and their immediate forebears. Where links in the chain
were missing no doubt others were supphed by the imagination, and the
critical faculty was presumably brought into play as little as possible ;
but it appears to me that it is easy to over-estimate the part played
by sheer inventiveness and to under-estimate the general amount of
truth underlying statements w^hich as regards the exact form in which
they have survived are inaccurate in many details.

X Let us now summarise the information to be gleaned from the
manuscripts as to historical and sociological matters.

No mention is made in any manuscript of an Arab immigration
to the Sudan prior to the foundation of Islam, The reason is obviously
the lack of interest felt for any ancestor who left Arabia in the pagan
" Days of Ignorance." The desire of all was to display their fathers as
pillars of the true faith.

One also notes that the tide of immigration is always represented
as having been by way of the Red Sea ports or of the Nile valley^,
and generally the former 2, Nothing is said of any tribe wandering
southwards from Tripoli, Algiers or Morocco into the western king-
doms and thence eastwards into the Sudan.

The Isma'ilitic tribes most commonly mentioned in the manu-
scripts as having sent branches to the Sudan are Kuraysh (including
Beni 'Abbas and Beni Ommayya) and Kays 'Aylan, who include
Ghatafan, Beni Dhubian (Fezara, etc.), Beni 'Abs, Thaki'f and
others.

Among the Kahtanite group we most often meet with Himyar,
who include Kuda'a and Guhayna (a branch of Kuda'a), and with
Beni Ghassan.

Extra stress is laid on Kuraysh for obvious reasons, and the Beni
Ghassan are similarly favoured because the tribes of " Ansar," Aus
and Khazrag, the "Helpers of the Prophet," were of their number.

From the frequency with which Himyarite names^ occur in
Ga'ali nisbas it would appear that some of the Arabs who claimed
an 'Abbasid (Isma'ilitic) origin were really of Kahtanite stock.

XI As regards the various epochs at which Islamic immigration
occurred the following data are available from the manuscripts.

Speaking of the conquest of Egypt by 'Amr ibn el 'Asi the author
of 1)4 says the armies of the Muhammadans penetrated "to the
furthest hmits of the land of the Nuba, to Dabat el Dolib and the
hills of the Nuba*," that is, roughly speaking, to Debba and el Haraza.

• See D 2, IV. 2 j^ particular see D 6.

• E.g. Dhu el Kild'a and Masruk. See BA, cxxxiii note.

• D4, VI.



IV. XL OF THE SUDAN 9

In the next paragraph he alludes to a further immigration in the
following century.

Secondly, we are told of the Fezara that they "have dwelt in the
Sudan since the conquest of el Bahnasa," that is, since 'Abdulla ibn
Sa'ad's expedition of 641-642^.

Thirdly, the Mahass, who are Nubian rather than Arab by race,
claim to be

descended from the Ansar who conquered the Sudan in 43 a.h. [663 a.d.]
during the period of the rule of 'Abdulla ibn Abu Sarah [i.e. ibn Sa'ad], the
Companion. After the conquest the Khazrag settled in this country.... At
the time of their coming to conquer the Sudan they numbered about
81,000^.

Fourthly, the Hadarma are said to have migrated from Hadra-
maut "in the time of Haggag ibn Yusef " and settled at Suakin^, that
is, between 662 and 713 a.d.

Fifthly, the ancestor of the Mesallamia is recorded to have come
to the Sudan from Syria "in the time of 'Omar ibn 'Abd el 'Aziz*,"
or between 679 and 718 a.d.

Sixthly, we have the entry of Sulayman ibn 'Abd el MaHk, the
alleged Ommawi ancestor of the Fung, into Abyssinia between 750
and 754 A.D., and his passage thence to the Sudan°.

Seventhly, it is generally implied by genealogists of the Ga'ali
group ^ that Kerdam or his son Serrar was the first of their ancestors
to immigrate from Arabia.

Ahmad ibn Isma'i'l el Wall, the author of AB, was born about
1 830-1 840 and his pedigree makes him the twenty-second in descent
from Kerdam. The latter or Serrar would therefore, if one reckon the
generation at about thirty years, seem to have immigrated in the
latter part of the thirteenth century'.

Another ntsba says the first Ga'ali ancestor to immigrate was
Ghanim (the fourth in descent from Serrar), and that he came in the
middle of the thirteenth century a.d. after the fall of Baghdad before
the Tartars^.

A third document makes Ghanim 's grandfather Subuh the
original settler^. A fourth represents the forefathers of the Ga'aliin

^ A II, Liv, and D 6, xiii. Cp. account in Part II, Chap. 2.

^ ABC, IX, and see note thereto.



Online LibraryHarold Alfred MacMichaelA history of the Arabs in the Sudan and some account of the people who preceded them and of the tribes inhabiting Dárûr (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 49)