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What Did the Big Criminals Do during the Plague of 841 A.H.?:

What Did the Big Criminals Do during the Plague of 841 A.H.?:

 The Comments of Al-Makrizi about the Last Year of the Reign of Barsbay – 1





Published in April 4, 2020

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy




The Mameluke Sultan Barsbay and the Judge Ibn Hajar the Big Criminals during the Plague of 841 A.H.: What Did the Big Criminals Do during the Plague of 841 A.H.? The Comments of Al-Makrizi about the Last Year of the Reign of Barsbay – 1



Introduction: about the type of sultans of the Al-Burji Mameluke State:

1- The Al-Bahariyya Mameluke State was known for its buying so many enslaved children from Central Asia and Central and Eastern Europe; they were typically kidnapped, enslaved, and then brought to Aleppo (and all Levant was ruled by the Mameluke sultanate) to be sold in Egypt where they receive military training as they grow up and they were taught the culture and religion of their era in certain islands in the River Nile (or Bahr in colloquial Egyptian Arabic); hence, they were named as Al-Bahariyya Mamelukes. After receiving the proper military training and education, the Mamelukes were freed and they (as followers/soldiers) would loyally serve the sultan or prince who bought them; such soldiers may get promoted in the ranks of military troops (as leaders or princes) as per their cleverness, cunning/scheming, military skills, and horsemanship. Some Mamelukes became defense ministers or leaders of a group of Mameluke soldiers; some became Mameluke sultans, and many of the ambitious Mamelukes lost their lives (when entrapped in intrigues/schemes/plots or when they were put to death or killed in battles) while endeavoring to reach power.

2- With the passage of decades, young, ambitious men in Central Asia and Central and Eastern Europe knew that kidnapped/enslaved children became Mameluke soldiers, leaders, and princes as well as sultans in Egypt; many such youths sold themselves into slavery willingly to be brought to Egypt to seek their fortune; they hoped for a better future away from poverty and suffering in their original homeland.

3- This means a change of the method of bringing new Mamelukes; youths (and not children as before) were recruited to join the Mameluke soldiers and receive military training...etc. to serve Mameluke princes and sultans. At the same time, the need to buy more adult Mamelukes (from Central Asia and Central and Eastern Europe) increased as many disputes/wars and instances of strife and rivalry occurred among Mameluke princes since they vied for controlling weak enthroned sons and grandsons of the sultan Al-Nasser Ibn Qalawun the last mighty ruler of the Qalawun dynasty. No Mameluke princes needed any children who took much time to grow and to be trained since young men who sold themselves into slavery to join the ranks of the Mameluke soldiers had their ready military skills which were perfected in a relatively short time. Such young men were mercenaries who worshiped Mammon/money and sought it by any means and they hardly had any religion, morals, or ethics at all; many of them were power-seeking, merciless rascals and evildoers. Among such young men who joined the Mamelukes was Barqoq who later on became a Mameluke sultan and established the Al-Burji Mameluke State; among them also were several men who became notable, prominent Mameluke princes/leaders and history mentions several sheets and lines about them. During the reign of Barqoq and other sultans after him, thousands of young and old men were brought/bought as Mamelukes and no one bought children (to raise and train them as Mamelukes) anymore. Many of such Mamelukes brought their family members to Egypt and gave them ranks within the hierarchy of Mamelukes; Barqoq brought his own father to Egypt and made him a leader of a group of Mameluke; such family members relatives came to Egypt willingly and were happy for settling in it; at the right moment, many Mamelukes made their maternal and paternal relatives as Mameluke leaders and their main allies and helpers.    

4- Those Mamelukes bought and brought as enslaved white male youths (and not children) into Egypt were named at the time as 'brought white male adults' or Jilban (pl.) in Arabic, and the singular form is a 'brought white adult man' or Jilaby Mameluke; the Mameluke Arabic singular term (Jilaby) evolved into the Egyptian proper name (Shalaby) which still employed until now in Egypt as a name for men.   

5- During the era of Al-Burji Mameluke State (i.e., the second era of the Mameluke sultanate after the collapse of the Al-Bahariyya Mameluke State), no distinction was made betweenJilban Mamelukes (sultans, princes, leaders, guards and soldiers) and Mamelukes who were bought as children previously. All Mamelukes merged into groups serving powerful masters/princes and sultans.  

6- All of them were the worst types of people.

6/1: They were among the mobsters, rascals, and criminals/highwaymen in their original homelands; no one among the noble families or lords sold themselves or their sons into slavery in the hope to become a Mameluke prince in Egypt; only thieves/criminals who looked forward to a better life did so. In contrast, children bought/brought previously by the Ayyubids and Al-Bahariyya Mameluke sultans and leaders did not choose to become Mamelukes and to live in Egypt; they were brought as plank sheets (Tabula Rasa) and lived through certain routine in the military life (which was not altogether bad at the time). This is why, in general, most of the Al-Burji Mamelukes are worse and meaner than most of the Al-Bahariyya Mamelukes. 

6/2: The Al-Burji Mameluke sultans were far worse than secular, ordinary enthroned tyrannical sultans who never raise banners of 'sharia' or ascribe their crimes to the name of Islam. The Al-Burji Mameluke sultans and leaders/princes were mean, treacherous rascals who loved to loot, scheme, conspire, and commit bloodshed more often than not. They were similar to any common highwaymen, gangsters, and petty thieves. Their worst crime was to attribute their grave injustices, evil deeds, and heinous crimes to the name of Islam.

6/3: Worse than all Mamelukes of history are the military regime generals who occupy Egypt since the 1952 coup d'état and who made Egypt and Egyptians descend into lower layers of failure on all levels.  

7- Al-Makrizi wrote the history of such Al-Burji Mamelukes (who were Jilban) in the last volumes of his seminal book titled (Al-Solok) and his sharp criticism of them was written after the death of each of them; this sharp criticism by Al-Makrizi of them is exemplified in the parts where we quote his lines about their crimes during the year 841 A.H. of the plague. 

8- By the way, the Al-Burji Mameluke sultans and princes, who wereJilban, inherited the hierarchy of obsequious clergymen from the sultan Al-Dhahir Beibars (i.e., Beibars I who ruled after he killed his processor the sultan Qotoz after the Mamelukes defeated the Mongols in the Levant); it was Beibars I who brought a surviving family member of the Abbasids and made him an honorary Abbasid prince/caliph in Cairo who added quasi-religious 'legitimacy' to any sultans in a coronation ceremony within the Mameluke sultanate. It was Beibars I who initiated in the judicial authority the rule of appointing four supreme judges to represent the four Sunnite doctrines and each supreme judge would have 200 judges under them who were employed in all cities and governorates. The criminals who were the Al-Burji Mameluke sultans increased their dependence on the civil wing of the big criminals; i.e., obsequious fiqh scholars, sermonizers/preachers, and sheikhs/clergymen, in order to cover up their savagery, corruption, and terrible crimes with a thin veneer of quasi-religious 'justification'. The more obsequious fiqh scholars and clergymen were to the sultans, the more fame, authority, and money they gained. This is why Ibn Hajar Al-Askalany the historian, fiqh scholar, and supreme judge who lacked morals and ethics grew famous and rich as he obsequiously served the Mameluke sultans and was given the title (the prince of hadiths); his biographies are filled with praises and good stories (i.e., Manaqib in Arabic) as if he were a 'saint'; this is in contrast to his real history as a big criminal (i.e., fiqh scholar) and an obsequious servant of the big criminals; i.e., tyrannical sultans. Hence no enthroned big criminals were served unless by other obsequious big criminals.         

9- As we have mentioned before, the civil wing of the big criminals was divided into two types as follows.

9/1: Religious posts: They were supreme judges, ordinary judges, fiqh scholars, sermonizers/preachers, and low- and high-rank sheikhs/clergymen of Al-Azhar and other Sufi-Sunnite religious institutions. Even when (supreme) judges were dismissed, they retained the title (judge); of course, it was common that many (supreme) judges were dismissed and (re)appointed as per who paid bigger bribes and gratified sultans, courtiers, princes, and others among those in power.

9/2: Governmental posts: Those who assumed them received thee title (prince/emir), such as the secretary, the treasurer, the governor, and the supervisor of private property.

9/3: Anyway, each of them assumed a religious title; i.e., with the suffix (-Eddine) which means ''of religion''; e.g., Shehab-Eddine (or comet of religion), Salah-Eddine (or uprightness of religion), Najm-Eddine (or star of religion), Alam-Eddine (or banner of religion), or Ezz-Eddine (or glory of religion).

10- We mention the role of each of them in swearing fealty to Youssef Ibn Barsbay as the new sultan when his father, the bedridden and very-much-ill Barsbay months before his death, ceded power to him.

11- We mention mainly events of 841 A.H. linked to the sultan Barsbay and his allies/courtiers/statesmen among the big criminals; we quote from the book titled (Al-Solok) by Al-Makrizi the historian who never belonged to the small or big criminals.


Firstly: the month of Muharram, 841 A.H.:

1- (...On the 9th of Muharram, the supreme judge Zayn-Eddine Abdel-Basset, the vizier Kareem-Eddine, and the overseer Saad-Eddine received news that the Mameluke guards of the sultan Al-Ashraf Barsbay were hatching a plot to rob their palaces and mansions; the three of them had to hide their wealth and treasures and lock their palaces and mansions; they and their families took hiding in an unknown location for a while, while feeling afraid as they narrated later on to the sultan; such news of a raid remained until the 16th of Muharram; when the Mameluke guards of the sultan attacked the palaces and mansions of the three men, they found no one but they stole all pieces of furniture...etc....). This means that high-rank Mamelukes (who were guards of the sultan) desired to raid and rob the statesmen of the sultanate, and Barsbay, of course, condoned their deeds and approve of it; all of them were Jilban Mamelukes anyway; we infer among the lines that Barsbay desired to embezzle and threaten them for some reason or the other.

2- (...On the 15th of Muharram , a governor of a Levantine city, along with 2000 cavalry, attacked the mansions of two Mameluke princes, Nasser-Eddine and Janbak, to rob them in the Levantine city of Marash; after robbing all that they could lay their hands on, they burned down the mansions and the princes Nasser-Eddine and Janbak had to flee along with their small number of guards and soldiers; their other massive troops joined the prince Suleiman, the ruler of northern Iraq and brother to Nasser-Eddine, who was fighting his rivals and sieging the Levantine city of Caesarea...). This means Barsbay employed his men to chase his rival Janbak who betrayed him; the runaway Mameluke prince Janbak served the ruler of a small kingdom located between Iraq and Turkey.


Secondly: the month of Saffar, 841 A.H.:

1- (...The Mameluke prince Einal the governor-general of the Levantine region travelled from Damascus, his capital, to Aleppo, and his allies among the governors of Levantine cities joined him there and their troops marched to Caesarea as military reinforcement to its governor who fought against the troops of the aggressor the prince Suleiman who was aided by prince Janbak...). Of course, Barsbay was keen on getting rid of his rival Janbak who betrayed him and fled from Egypt.

2- (...On the 7th of Saffar, the Mameluke prince Einal the governor-general of the Levant sent gifts from the spoils he gained to the sultan Barsbay: 10 thousand gold dinars, 200 horses with golden saddles, richly embroidered garments which had gold and silver threads, 300 camels, hundreds of arrows and bows, woolen colored garments...etc...). This means Einal stole items from the Levantine people he raided and robbed and sent Barsbay his share of the spoils; gifts to the Mameluke sultans were obligatory at the time to be offered every now and then by Mameluke princes to gratify him and/or avoid/appease his anger.

3- (...On the 12th of Saffar, the sultan Barsbay allowed the judge of Mecca, Jalal-Eddine Ibn Dhahira who came to Cairo to meet the sultan in his palace, to retain his position and he sent him a richly embroidered garment as a token of friendship; this judge heard the news or rumors about his dismissal; he gave a money-gift to the secretary the judge Salah-Eddine Ibn Nasr to act as his intercessor on his behalf to the sultan Barsbay who eventually allowed the judge of Mecca to keep his position in return for paying 500 gold dinars annually; this was a misdeed by the sultan and we never approve of it; in fact, it was an unprecedented matter in managing the affairs of the sultanate outside Egypt...). This means Barsbay embezzled the judge of Mecca to get some of his money (by forcing him to offer a bribe) by spreading rumors about his imminent dismissal; of course, such corrupt judge of Mecca imposed higher bribes he received from the people of Mecca to make up for the loss of his own money when he paid bribes to the secretary and to Barsbay. Al-Makrizi here does not condemn paying and receiving bribes since this was typical and 'legitimate; in the State run by big criminals; rather, he disapproved of how Barsbay embezzled the judge of Mecca and forced him to come to Cairo to pay a bribe; this plot was masterminded by the secretary; we see here cooperation in aggression, evildoing, and injustice among the big criminals: sultans and judges; the wronged parties who suffered grave injustices were the common people who were forced to pay bribes to judges and those in authority. We remind our readers that the plague began in the month of Saffar; Al-Makrizi writes that it emerged in Aleppo and its neighboring villages and estates and 100 persons died daily in Aleppo at the time; naturally, the plague reached Hama and other major cities in the Levant soon enough; Barsbay never cared about thinking how to fight the plague and protect people against it in the regions of the Mameluke sultanate.


Thirdly: the month of Rabei Awwal, 841 A.H.:

1- (...The supreme judge Ibn Hajar Al-Askalany retained his posts as a judge, as the sermonizer in Ibn Tulun mosque, and as the head of the madrassa of Bayn Al-Qasrayn district in Cairo; at first, Barsbay desired to replace Ibn Hajar with Alam-Eddine Saleh Ibn Al-Balkini in the position of supreme judge; yet, Ibn Hajar gave a money-gift to the supreme judge Zayn-Eddine Abdel-Basset to intercede on his behalf before the sultan who commanded Ibn Hajar to pay a certain annual sum...). The corrupt supreme judge of Al-Shafei doctrine Ibn Hajar (the prince of hadiths) paved his own way in posts through paying bribes; later on, he paid more bribes to allow his son, Badr-Eddine, to be appointed as a judge under him; he also made his son inherit his other posts later on within the madrassa and the Ibn Tulun mosque; even intercessors among the statesmen received bribes to act as intercessors on behalf of other big criminals (i.e., clergymen) like them; this means that positions were bought and sold and inherited; this means non-qualified rich people (and sons of high-rank judges/clergymen) became judges and assumed other high-rank posts they never deserved. Such corruption in the Mameluke military regime continues in the 1952 military regime in Egypt; a tyrannical regime which continues to exist until now as the military generals still occupy today's Egypt.

2- (...On the 5th of Rabei Awwal, the governor of Alexandria Gharz-Eddine Khalil was dismissed from his post; he was a vizier in former days; he was appointed as the governor of the Levantine city of Kerak and he hurried to assume his new post before the sultan Barsbay would change his mind...). Kerak is in today's Jordan; such change of posts means that Barsbay deliberately did this to receive more bribes from rich men who sought authority and high-rank positions and were willing to pay huge bribes to reach such positions and to maintain them.

3- (...The judge of Mecca left Cairo to reach his homeland after he retained his post there...). This means he returned in safety after making sure he kept his post by paying huge bribes; he knew for sure that Barsbay sometimes tortured in prison cells some rich judges and governors to confiscate their hidden ill-gotten treasures and money; some tortured corrupt men typically restored their posts after paying the amounts of money which gratified Barsbay and they were received in banquets and parties later on held on their honor to celebrate their reappointment!

4- (...On the 19th of Rabei Awwal, Jamal-Eddine Youssef was appointed as an overseer of estates and orchards of the sultan Barsbay after the death of his brother, Saad-Eddine, who held the same post for years...). this means after the death of someone who assumed any high-rank, prestigious post, one of his relatives or brothers would readily buy the same post through paying bribes.

5- (...The building project of the mosque, as per the commands of the sultan Barsbay, at Khanqah of the district of Sariaqos ended;...An imam/sermonizer was appointed there as well as other servants and preachers and reciters of the Holy Quran...). We see here cooperation in aggression, evildoing, and injustice among the big criminals: sultans and clergymen; Barsbay who hoarded ill-gotten wealth used some money to build mosques managed by clergymen who pray for him before the congregations; this help 'justify' his many grave injustices which increased since he assumed he guaranteed Paradise in the Hereafter since he built several mosques and his sins would be remitted accordingly! This is a false notion which pertains to the Sunnite-Sufi religion of Satan. Many sultans employed some money to build mosques, madrassas, and religious institutions; Sufi-Sunnite clergymen employed there spread devilish hadiths/narratives and fiqh notions and pray for the sultans and supplicate to the Lord God for their sake. Sadly, this continues until now in Egypt; e.g., the grand mosque built by Al-Sisi in the new administrative capital; this grand mosque carries a name (Al-Fattah Al-Aleem) which reminds the Egyptians of the first name of the president (i.e., Abdel-Fattah). Other Arab enthroned tyrants, or big criminals, have built grand mosques for the same purpose and to feign being 'religious' (before eyes of the citizens) in our cursed modern era. A reminder: Barsbay never made any efforts to control/combat or ward off the plague and never did anything to protect his subjects at all. The plague reached Hama and other Levantine cities soon enough; 300 persons died daily in Hama as per Al-Makrizi and this was unprecedented at the time and in previous eras as per his book (Al-Solok).    

 We continue the events of the rest of the months of 841 A.H. in the next article.





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