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The 'Pious' Mameluke Sultan Al-Moayyad Sheikh Who Was among the Big Criminals – 1

The 'Pious' Mameluke Sultan Al-Moayyad Sheikh Who Was among the Big Criminals – 1 

 

 

 

 

Published in April 22, 2020

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy

 

 

 

 

Introduction:

1- We assert here the fact that 824 A.H. was a very strange year in the Mameluke Era (648 – 923 A.H.); in 824 A.H., the Mameluke sultan Al-Moayyad Sheikh died on the 9th of Muharram; before his death, he made his son, Ahmad, as his heir and successor to the throne though the age of his son at the time was 17 months and 5 days; Al-Moayyad Sheikh formed a group of guardians to this child-sultan who managed the affairs of the sultanate and took care of the child-sultan Ahmad. Soon enough, the Mameluke prince Tatar, who was one of the guardians, removed the child-sultan Ahmad Ibn Al-Moayyad Sheikh and was enthroned instead as the sultan Al-Dhahir Tatar on the 29th of Shabaan, 824 A.H. Strangely, following a very short and swift illness, the sultan Tatar died on the 4th of Zu Al-Hijja, 824 A.H. (as a historian, we tend to think that he was poisoned); before his death, he made his son, Mohamed, as his heir and successor to the throne though the age of his son at the time was ten years; this child-sultan Mohamed Ibn Tatar became enthroned on the same day when his father died. The guardian of this child-sultan was the superior military leader-general of all the Mameluke troops the Mameluke prince Barsbay. Of course, Barsbay removed the child-sultan Mohamed Ibn Tatar and was enthroned instead as the sultan Al-Ashraf Barsbay on the 8th of Rabei Akhar, 825 A.H.          

2- This means that within the course of one year (824 – 825 A.H.), the Mameluke sultanate had witnessed four sultans who succeeded one another within a very brief space of time!

3- The reign of the Mameluke sultan Al-Moayyad Sheikh lasted for 8 years, 5 months, and 8 days, whereas the reign of the sultan Al-Ashraf Barsbay lasted for about seventeen years since he died on the 10th of Zu Al-Hijja, 841 A.H.

4- Of course, Barsbay, whom we covered within several articles of this book about the big criminals, was never an exception or a unique figure at all in the history of the Mameluke Egypt; in fact, he did not differ from most of the Mameluke sultans; Barsbay inherited a regime which was corrupt to the core; he maintained this regime and continued within it while being happily loyal to it as it served his purposes.   

5- The Mameluke Era was steeped in corruption which never lessened even if any 'religious' sultans adhered to religiosity and fake piety such as Barsbay, Qaitbay, or Al-Moayyad Sheikh. Of course, most Mameluke sultans of the Al-Burji Mameluke State were the worst, basest, vilest, and most brutal and savage criminals since they belonged to the Jilban Mamelukes who were brought to Egypt as adults and they were highwaymen, robbers, and murderers in their original homelands in Central Asia and Europe. This means they were deeply immersed in corruption and criminal behavior; besides, all of them were foul-mouthed. This matched very much with their fellow big criminals in the civil wing who helped them; i.e., clergymen/judges; in many cases, the corruption of judges surpassed that of the Mameluke sultans and this drove some sultans to interfere to attempt to reform the judicial authority and/or to assume it themselves.

6- Of course, such corruption matches with the dominant terrestrial religion of misguidance at the time which came into being since the reign of the Ayyubid sultan Saladin; namely, the Sunnite Sufism whose dominance lasted for centuries in Egypt until mid-1970s (during the reign of Sadat) when it was replaced by the Sunnite Hanbali Wahabi religion of Satan which pertains to more misguidance, violence/aggression, and moral degeneration.     

7- Before we write more about the reign of Barsbay, we write briefly about the figure and the reign of Al-Moayyad Sheikh.

 

Firstly: the testimony of Al-Makrizi regarding the 'piety'/'religiosity' of the Mameluke sultan Al-Moayyad Sheikh:

1- Al-Makrizi mentions that Al-Moayyad Sheikh was the one who invented the practice of reciting the whole book of Al-Bokhary hadiths in installments during the fasting month of Ramadan; Al-Makrizi writes the following within the events of Ramadan 841 A.H.: (...On the 23rd day of Ramadan, the reciting of Sahih Al-Bokhary ended within the presence of the sultan in the palace along with other attendees like the four supreme judges and other scholars, judges, and students of Al-Azhar and many Mameluke princes, leaders, viziers, and statesmen as per the habit established first during the reign of the sultan Al-Moayyad Sheikh...). This means that Al-Moayyad Sheikh invented this devilish practice (which shows their deification of Al-Bokhary) at one time during his reign and it continued to be repeated every Ramadan ever since during the Mameluke Era. This proves the very bad quality of the terrestrial religion of Satan embraced by Al-Moayyad Sheikh. The Holy Quran, which descended and was revealed in Ramadan, had no celebration every Ramadan during the Mameluke Era; in contrast, Al-Moayyad Sheikh invented an official celebration inside the palace in Cairo (the center of the Mameluke rule) to celebrate/recite/sing Al-Bokhary book and this celebration was reverently called (The Occasion of Al-Bokhary) which was repeated every Ramadan in the presence of the big criminals (the military wing: the Mamelukes + the civil wing: judges/clergymen); it is as if Al-Bokhary book were 'revealed'/'inspired' or made to descend in Ramadan and not the Holy Quran!    

2- We copy the remarks by Al-Makrizi about Al-Moayyad Sheikh followed by our comments.

2/1: (...He was a man of valor and courage...). Of course, in order to reached power and get enthroned as a sultan, any Mameluke prince must be courageous and bold with thorough experience of intrigues, schemes, and conspiracies; this was typical of all Mameluke sultans before and after Al-Moayyad Sheikh who himself was no exception to this rule. What matters here is how one employs one's courage and valor; i.e., to adhere to goodness and the Truth or to commit murders, massacres, looting, and ruin/destruction. This is also inferred from the words of Al-Makrizi when we quote what he has written about the defects of Al-Moayyad Sheikh.    

2/2: (...He loved men of knowledge and scholars and invited them a lot in the palace to converse with them...). The 'knowledgeable' scholars mentioned here were the big criminals of the civil wing; namely, clergymen who provided a type of quasi-religious, political legitimacy to the military regime of the tyrannical Mameluke sultans; this is why Al-Moayyad sheikhs loved them and they were his guests and courtiers inside the palace.

2/3: (...He revered and submitted to the sharia of the Holy Prophet Muhammad...). This means that both Al-Makrizi and Al-Moayyad Sheikh deified Muhammad and assumed that the fabricated/invented hadiths/lies attributed to him by force after his death pertain to Islamic sharia! This was dominant in the Mameluke Era of the Sufi-Sunnite traditions. Hence, Al-Makrizi praised Al-Moayyad Sheikh by saying that among his 'good' characteristics (i.e., Manaqib in Arabic) was that he sanctified and applied hadiths! This means that hadiths/lies were perceived as if they were part of Islam! This is why the Al-Shafei-doctrine supreme judges at the time (e.g., Ibn Hajar Al-Askalany and Al-Balkini) was given the title (Sheikh Al-Eslam)! This bad habit continued until now though Islam knows no titles like (Sheikh); the Quran mentions the ranks/terms (prophet) and (messenger) only. By the way, the Quranic/Arabic term (sheikh) means in general an old man or any man advanced in years; this meaning is repeated three times in the Quranic text: within the story of Moses: "...They said, “We cannot draw water until the shepherds depart, and our father is a very old man/sheikh.”" (28:23); within the story of Isaac: "She said, “Alas for me. Shall I give birth, when I am an old woman, and this, my husband, is an old man/sheikh? This is truly a strange thing.” " (11:72); within the story of Joseph: "They said, “O Potiphar, he has a father, a very old man/sheikh, so take one of us in his place. We see that you are a good person.”" (12:78).

2/4: (...He never hated it when people who resorted to him to judge among them would reject his views and rulings and resort to the judges of sharia; in fact, he admired this very much; he always reprimanded any Mameluke princes and statesmen who protested against rulings/edicts of judges and supreme judges...). Al-Moayyad Sheikh, then, believed that judges and supreme judges symbolized religion and represented it! Yet, he knew as well that (re-)appointing judges and supreme judges was done through their paying bribes! This means they were trying all to time to obsequiously serve and lease the sultan, and therefore, it was OK if he would pretend that he honored and revered them! It is silly that Al-Makrizi praised Al-Moayyad Sheikh by asserting that this was among his 'good' characteristics (i.e., Manaqib in Arabic), because Al-Makrizi himself criticized the corruption of judges and supreme judges of his lifetime; this means that Al-Makrizi contradicted himself when he has written bitterly about the corruption of judges and supreme judges (and other high-rank employees) in the reign of the Mameluke sultan Al-Moayyad Sheikh.     

2/5: (...He was never inclined to bring about inventions and fabrications in religions...). This is a flagrant lie; what about the celebration reverently called (The Occasion of Al-Bokhary) invented and initiated every Ramadan by Al-Moayyad Sheikh?!

2/6: (...He sometimes kept a night vigil of prolonged prayers and acts of worship...). Al-Makrizi claims here that the sultan sometimes did that; we never believe this outrageous lie; would Al-Moayyad Sheikh leave his concubines and female slaves at night?! Of course, we can never imagine that Al-Makrizi saw this sultan at midnight or after it to be an eye-witness about what the sultan did exactly at this time of the night; this means that Al-Makrizi has written this as per rumors he heard about the 'religious' and 'pious' sultan. In our view, it is impossible that a sultan among the big criminals to spend some nights in prolonged acts of worship. Al-Moayyad Sheikh could never have been among those mentioned in this Quranic verse since he was an ignoramus and a tyrant like all big criminals: "Is he who worships devoutly during the watches of the night, prostrating himself and standing up, mindful of the Hereafter, and placing his hope in the mercy of his Lord? Say, “Are those who know and those who do not know equal?” Only those possessed of reason will remember." (39:9).

3- Al-Makrizi writes the following about the events of 823 A.H. within the last months of the life and reign of Al-Moayyad Sheikh:

3/1: (...The River Nile water-level decreased for days; this made prices of all crops and grains soar; many merchants were reluctant to sell any crops or grains; people were very much distressed...). Of course, this was a sign of a coming famine and merchants began to store crops and grains...etc., and this caused soaring prices, of course. This is why measuring the River Nile water-level was very important official duty at the time. Al-Moayyad Sheikh devised his own plan to face a possible famine: in unison, people must ardently supplicate to the Lord God for deliverance and they must stop sinning and repent.

3/2: (...Callers roamed the streets of Greater Cairo to urge people to stop sinning and to adhere to performing good deeds; days later, an announcement came that all people in general should observe a three-day fast before they gather in the desert at dawn...The sultan fasted as well...The water-level increased one arm...People went out to the desert while they were fasting; they were led by the supreme judge Sheikh Al-Eslam Jalal-Eddine Al-Balkini who left his mansion on horseback while he wore his uniform of a supreme judge; people gathered around him outside the wall of Cairo in the desert as he recited the Quranic Chapter Six and they listened attentively, and this was followed by a sermon and congregational prayers and supplications in unison...). The dangerous decrease of the River Nile water-level drove Al-Moayyad Sheikh to send his callers (or town criers) to urge all people to repent, observe a fast, and to gather in the desert at dawn to supplicate to the Lord God for deliverance.  

3/3: (...About two hours after the sunrise, the sultan came alone on horseback while wearing the white woolen garb of Sufi sheikhs; no guards accompanied him and there was no ornaments or decorations on his horse or even on its saddle – no gold and no silk...The sultan dismounted his horse and sat on the sand of the desert without a rug on the left side of the makeshift pulpit where the supreme judge Al-Balkini stood to deliver his sermon...). Al-Moayyad Sheikh participated in this event while he was keen on appearing as if he belonged to Sufi leaders/sheikhs since he donned the garment of one of them, rejected all ornaments and decorations that fit a sultan, and acted as if he was like the masses or common people.

3/4: (...After he delivered his sermon to the congregation, the supreme judge Al-Balkini was their imam in a two-Raqa prayers like the ones of the Lesser and Greater Bairams; soon afterwards, he delivered two short sermons to urge people to repent and perform many good deeds while imploring Allah for pardon; he began his supplications and people repeated after him in unison; meanwhile, the sultan wept and prostrated on the ground; many specks of sand stuck to his forehead...When the second sermon ended, people dispersed and the sultan mounted his horse while some people walked around him from all directions while praying for him until he reached the palace...This was a great day witnessed by most residents of Cairo...). So, Al-Moayyad Sheikh wept and reverently and piously prostrated on the ground. We have no doubt that Al-Moayyad Sheikh was sincere at such an occasion like all human beings who pray and repent sincerely within life-threatening situations and when they face veritable danger, but once they attain safety, they return to sin, disbelief, and disobedience; this Quranic verse applies to them and to Al-Moayyad Sheikh: "When some adversity touches the human being, he prays to his Lord, repenting to Him. But then, when He confers on him a grace of His, he forgets what he was praying for before, and he attributes peers to God, in order to lead astray from His way. Say, “Enjoy your disbelief for a little while; you will be among the inmates of the Hell-Fire.”" (39:8); in contrast, this Quranic verse does not apply to Al-Moayyad Sheikh who was an ignoramus and a tyrant like all big criminals: "Is he who worships devoutly during the watches of the night, prostrating himself and standing up, mindful of the Hereafter, and placing his hope in the mercy of his Lord? Say, “Are those who know and those who do not know equal?” Only those possessed of reason will remember." (39:9).

3/5: (...It made the hearts tremble when the dominant lord on earth was seen weeping and supplicating to the Dominant Lord of Heaven, glorified be His Holy Name, while seeking His mercy; in this a moral lesson to be drawn by the pious people...). This comment by Al-Makrizi about such occasion describes the conditions of the tyrannical sultan Al-Moayyad Sheikh who, in our view, seems to have been a very good actor!

3/6: (...The best news which spread on that great day that when some people prayed for the sultan so that Allah would grant him victory and support all the time, the sultan told them that they should pray for all people in Egypt, since he was one of them, so that no famine would occur in Egypt...Yet, the sultan Al-Moayyad Sheikh was never supported by any good viziers, courtiers, statesmen, or retinue members to urge him to perform good deeds and introduce reform; all of those around them were evil, greedy, promiscuous, and savage men...). Al-Makrizi here wishes, in vain, that repentance would continue especially among the retinue members, statesmen, and courtiers of the sultan since if they are good, the sultan will continue to be good and will introduce reform. Al-Makrizi forgot that the retinue members, statesmen, and courtiers of any sultan are the reflection of the sultan himself. The Umayyad caliph Omar Ibn Abdul-Aziz once said that (any sultans are like marketplaces); i.e., since gold markets attract buyers of gold and cattle markets attract buyers of cattle, good and just sultans are surrounded with good people, and unjust, corrupt sultans are surrounded with corrupters and evil criminals.  

 

Secondly: the testimony of Al-Makrizi regarding the corruption of the Mameluke sultan Al-Moayyad Sheikh:

 Of course, Al-Makrizi contradicts himself when he writes about the characteristics of Al-Moayyad Sheikh:

1- (...He was very stingy and miserly even regarding food items...).

2- (...He was seized by anger easily and made many enemies for trivial reasons; he argued a lot and vented his fury more often than not instead of pardoning an excusing others...). Such are very bad features in any person, let alone powerful sultans, like Al-Moayyad Sheikh, who assumed that, as per the Mameluke Era sharia of Satan, they can put anyone to death immediately as part of the 'divine' right of kings/sultans.

3- (...He was very envious especially regarding the wealth, strength, and authority of others around him...). It is very strange that a powerful sultan like Al-Moayyad Sheikh would be so envious since he was naturally the most powerful and richest man in the Mameluke sultanate.

4- (...He loved to lead a promiscuous lifestyle openly and before all people...). So, Al-Makrizi assumed that this promiscuous sultan had spent some nights in prolonged acts of worship after spending his days in promiscuity!

5- (...He was foul-mouthed and tended to swear a lot and to verbally abuse and insult and ridicule others around him...).

6- (...He had an aura of awe and he kept his friendship with his closest men; he never dismissed them or banished him from his company in the palace...). Al-Moayyad Sheikh was feared by people because of his power as a sultan and a warrior and because they liked to avoid being insulted by this foul-mouthed tyrant; of course, he maintained his friendship with his closest evil men who were like him; we mention them and their corruption in a later article of this book.

7- Al-Makrizi writes the following brief words to comment on the reign of Al-Moayyad Sheikh in general: (...The sultan Al-Moayyad Sheikh was the main reason behind the ruin and destruction of Egypt and the Levant; when he was the governor-general of the Levantine region, he caused many instances of raids and looting and armed struggles and he committed many grave injustices; this increased when he became the sultan; his looting increased and he allowed his followers to humiliate, insult, and rob the common people; they were like the sultan: they never feared Allah and never regarded His religion and never listened to the voice of reason...). As the governor of the Levant and then the Mameluke sultan, Al-Moayyad Sheikh spread corruption on earth; he and his followers robbed too much and caused military struggles that terrorized the common people; he and his followers never had any qualms or pricks of conscience as they committed many injustices. Those corrupters who were the followers of Al-Moayyad Sheikh included men of the military wing, or the Mamelukes, in addition to the civil wing or judges/clergymen. Judges in most cases combined between their positions as judges and their being appointed in other posts simultaneously: secretaries of the sultan, overseers of the military troops, viziers, statesmen, courtiers, treasurers, and sheikhs/imams of grand mosques, Sufi institutions, madrassas,...etc. They were the big criminals who helped Al-Moayyad Sheikh to ruin Egypt and the Levant and to humiliate and harm the Egyptian people and the Levantine people.

8- We assert here the fact that Al-Moayyad Sheikh was never an exception or a unique figure at all in the history of the Mameluke Egypt; in fact, he did not differ from most of the Mameluke sultans; Al-Moayyad Sheikh inherited a regime which was corrupt to the core; he maintained this regime and continued within it while being happily loyal to it as it served his purposes.

  

 


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