Mujāhid al-ʿĀmirī

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Abu ʾl-Djaysh Mujāhid ibn ʿAbd Allāh al-ʿĀmiri, surnamed al-Muwaffaḳ (died AD 1044/5 [AH 436]), was the ruler of Dénia and the Balearic Islands from late 1014 (early AH 405) until his death. With the exception of his early and disastrous invasion of Sardinia, his reign was mostly peaceful. His court became a centre of scholarship and literary production and he himself wrote a book about poetry (now lost).[1]

Origins and rise[edit]

Mujāhid was a ṣaḳlabī, a slave of Slavic origin. His patronymic, Ibn ʿAbd Allāh, does not refer to his actual father.[1] His mother was a captured Christian.[2] He was purchased and converted to Islam by the ḥājib al-Manṣūr, who also had him educated. He may have served as governor of Dénia under al-Manṣūr's sons after 1002. After the death of al-Manṣūr's second son, Sanchuelo, in March 1009, he took control of Dénia. Within a few years he had set up his own rival puppet caliph, al-Muʿayṭī.[1]

Sardinian expeditions[edit]

In 1015 (AH 406), Mujāhid launched an expedition to conquer the island of Sardinia in the name of the caliph al-Muʿayṭī. He landed with 120 ships and occupied the southern coastal plain, but was defeated by Pisan and Genoese forces from Italy. The following year he returned with a large force of cavalry, defeated the army of the ruler of Cagliari and fortified the conquered area. He even sent a force to attack Luni on the Italian coast. The German chronicler Thietmar of Merseburg wrote that he sent a sack of chestnuts to the pope to illustrate the number of Muslim soldiers he would unleash on Christendom, but that Benedict VIII sent back a sack of millet representing the number of Christian soldiers that would meet them.[2]

In May 1016, the Italians returned to Sardinia. Mujāhid, facing mutiny among his men, fled by sea. His fleet was devastated in a storm and the remaining ships were picked off by the Pisan and Genoese fleets. His mother and his son and eventual successor ʿAlī were captured, but Mujāhid made it back to Dénia.[2] ʿAlī remained a prisoner for many years.[1]

During Mujāhid's absence in Sardinia and probably informed of his difficulties, al-Muʿayṭī tried to seize actual authority in Dénia for himself. Following his return, Mujāhid sent the caliph into exile in Africa.[1]

Rule in Dénia[edit]

Mujāhid's rule in Dénia following the dismissal of al-Muʿayṭī is not well recorded. Unusually, few coins of his survive and none in his name that can be dated to between the years AH 407 (1016–17) and 434 (1042–43).[1] Only the years 406 (1015–16) and 435 (1043–44) at the beginning and end of his reign are attested in the surviving dated coinage. He minted dirhams at a mint named "Elota" that remains unidentified.[3]

In 1033, Abu ʾl-Ḳāsim, the ruler of Seville, put forward an impostor claiming he was the caliph Hishām II, who had actually died in 1013. Mujāhid accepted the nominal authority of the fake Hishām II, probably as part of a series of marital alliances with the Abbadid dynasty ruling Seville.[1]

The peace of his reign was broken only towards the end of his life, when he temporarily occupied Murcia and also became preoccupied by a dispute with his younger son, Ḥasan. He was succeeded by ʿAlī, who continued to make the court of Dénia a centre of culture.[1]

Patronage of scholarship[edit]

Mujāhid was a patron of theological and literary studies, especially of kirāʾāt (recitation). His interest in this last practice may have stemmed from his name, since one of the most influential students of kirāʾāt was Ibn Mujāhid (died 936).[1]

Ibn Gharsiya and Ibn Burd al-Aṣghar are known to have composed works at Mujāhid's court. Ibn Gharsiya's famous risāla (treatise) on the shuʿūbiyya (non-Arab nations), criticising Arab ascendancy in Spain and praising non-Arabs, like Berbers and Slavs, was written there. Ibn Burd dedicated his Risālat al-Sayf wa ʾl-ḳalam to Mujāhid and is known to have composed other works at Dénia and elsewhere under Mujāhid's patronage. The polymath Ibn Ḥazm and the jurist Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr are also known spent time at his court.[1]

Mujāhid himself wrote a now lost work on ʿarūḍ (Arabic metre).[1]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k D. J. Wasserstein, "Mudjāhid, al-Muwaffaḳ ibn ʿAbd Allāh al-ʿĀmiri, Abu ʾl-Djaysh", The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. VII (Leiden: Brill, 1993), pp. 292–93.
  2. ^ a b c Travis Bruce, "The Politics of Violence and Trade: Denia and Pisa in the Eleventh Century", Journal of Medieval History, 32 (2006): 127–42.
  3. ^ George C. Miles, Coins of the Muluk al-Tawa'if (New York: American Numismatic Society, 1954), p. 43 (no. 159) and p. 61 (no. 266).

Further reading[edit]

  • Chabas, Roque. "Mochéhid hijo de Yusuf y Ali hijo de Mochéhid", pp. 411–34, in Homenaje a D. Francisco Codera. Zaragoza, 1904.
  • Codera, Francisco. "Mochéhid, conquistador de Cerdena", pp. 115–33, in Centenario della nascità di Michele Amari, vol. 2. Palermo, 1910.
  • Epalza, M. de. "El origen político del estado de Denia en el siglo XI: el Califa Al-Muaiti y el Rey Muyáhid", pp. 157–63, in Actas del 1er Congres d'Estudis de la Marina Alta, 1986. Alicante, 1986.
  • Rubiera Mata, M. J. La Taifa de Denia. Alicante, 1985.
  • Wasserstein, D. J. The Rise and Rall of the Party-Kings: Politics and Society in Islamic Spain, 1002–1086. Princeton, 1985.
  • Wasserstein, D. J. The Caliphate in the West: An Islamic Political Institution in the Iberian Peninsula. Clarendon, 1993.