Raja ibn Haywa

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Raja ibn Haywa
Native name
رجاء بن حيوة
Beisan (Beit She'an), Jordan district
Qussin, Kufa
Known forPlayed an important role in the construction of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem
TitleUmayyad caliphs political adviser
  • Haywa ibn Khanzal (father)
Political adviser for Abd al-Malik
In office
Political adviser for al-Walid I
In office
Political adviser for Sulayman
In office
Political adviser for Umar II
In office

Rajaʾ ibn Ḥaywa ibn Khanzal al-Kindī was a prominent Muslim theological and political adviser of the Umayyad caliphs Abd al-Malik (r. 685–705), al-Walid I (r. 705–715), Sulayman (r. 715–717 and Umar II (r. 717–720). He was a staunch defender of the religious conduct of the caliphs against their pious detractors. He played an important role in the construction of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem under Abd al-Malik. He became a mentor of Sulayman during the latter's governorship of Palestine and his secretary or chief scribe during his caliphate. He played an influential role in securing the succession of Umar II over Sulayman's brothers or sons and continued as a secretary to the new caliph. He spent the last decade of his life in retirement, though he maintained contact with Caliph Hisham (r. 724–743).

Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan 5th Umayyad caliph

Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan ibn al-Hakam was the fifth Umayyad caliph, ruling from April 685 until his death. A member of the first generation of born Muslims, his early life in Medina was occupied with pious pursuits. He held administrative and military posts under Caliph Mu'awiya I, founder of the Umayyad Caliphate, and his own father, Caliph Marwan I. By the time of Abd al-Malik's accession, Umayyad authority had collapsed across the Caliphate as a result of the Second Muslim Civil War and had been reconstituted in Syria and Egypt during his father's reign.

Al-Walid I Umayyad caliph

Al-Walid ibn Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, commonly known as al-Walid I, was the sixth Umayyad caliph, ruling from October 705 until his death.

Sulayman ibn Abd al-Malik Umayyad caliph

Sulayman ibn Abd al-Malik was the seventh Umayyad caliph, ruling from 23 February 715 until his death. Prior to his accession, he successively served as the governor of Palestine for his father Caliph Abd al-Malik and brother Caliph al-Walid I. During this period, Sulayman came under the mentorship of the Umayyads' court theologian Raja ibn Haywa al-Kindi and forged close ties with the Arab tribal elite of the district. In place of the long-established urban center of Lydda, he founded the nearby city of Ramla and in it, his palace and the White Mosque. The new city served as the administrative capital of Palestine as late as the 11th century.


Early life

The ancient ruins of Beisan, Raja's hometown ANCIENT BEIT SHE'AN AERIAL.jpg
The ancient ruins of Beisan, Raja's hometown

Raja, known also by his kunya "Abūʾl-Miqdām" or "Abū Naṣr", was the son of a certain Haywa ibn Khanzal. [1] He was born in Beisan (Beit She'an) in the Jordan district before moving south to Palestine. [2] [3] [4] According to a report traced to Raja and recorded by the medieval Egyptian historian al-Suyuti (d. 1505), Raja ultimately considered himself a Jerusalemite. [5] His approximate year of birth was c.660, during the early reign of the first Umayyad caliph, Mu'awiya I (r. 661–680). [1]

A kunya is a teknonym in Arabic names, the name of an adult derived from his or her eldest child.

Jund al-Urdunn One of the five districts of Bilad ash-Sham during the period of the Arab Caliphates

Jund al-Urdunn was one of the five districts of Bilad ash-Sham during the period of the Arab Caliphates. It was established under the Rashidun and its capital was Tiberias throughout its rule by the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates. It encompassed southern Mount Lebanon, the Galilee, the southern Hauran, the Golan Heights, and most of the eastern Jordan Valley.

Jund Filastin One of the military districts of the Ummayad and Abbasid Caliphate province of Bilad al-Sham

Jund Filasṭīn was one of the military districts of the Ummayad and Abbasid Caliphate province of Bilad al-Sham (Syria), organized soon after the Muslim conquest of the Levant in the 630s. Jund Filastin, which encompassed most of Palaestina Prima and Palaestina Tertia, included the newly established city of Ramla as its capital and eleven administrative districts (kura), each ruled from a central town.

The 9th-century historian Khalifa ibn Khayyat mentions that Raja was a mawlā (non-Arab, Muslim client or freedman) of the Kinda. [1] Because of his family's residence in the Palestine or Jordan district of Syria, Raja is occasionally given the nisba (epithet) of al-Filasṭīnī ("the Palestinian") or al-Urdunnī ("the Jordanian"). [6] The family likely hailed from or settled in an area inhabited by their Kindite tribal patrons, whose prominence in Syria had grown under Mu'awiya and further still under Caliph Marwan I (r. 684–685). [6]

Mawlā, plural mawālī (مَوَالِي), is a polysemous Arabic word, whose meaning varied in different periods and contexts. In the Quran and hadith it is used in two senses: Lord; and guardian, trustee, helper. In the pre-Islamic era the term originally applied to any form of tribal association. During the Early Islamic era, this institution was adapted to incorporate new converts to Islam into the Arab-Muslim society and the word mawali gained currency as an appellation for non-Arab Muslims, and sometimes converted Arab Muslim.

Kindah former country

Kindah was a tribal kingdom in Najd established by the Kindah tribe. The tribe's existence dates back to the 2nd century BCE. The Kindites established a kingdom in central Arabia which was unlike those of Yemen that were more centralized; its kings exercised an influence over a number of associated tribes more by personal prestige than by coercive settled authority. Their first capital was Qaryat Dhāt Kāhil, today known as Qaryat al-Fāw.

Bilad al-Sham Wikimedia list article

Bilad al-Sham was a Rashidun, Umayyad and later Abbasid Caliphate province in what is now the Levant. It incorporated former Byzantine territories of the Diocese of the East, organized soon after the Muslim conquest of the Levant in the mid-7th century, which was completed at the decisive Battle of Yarmouk. The term "Bilad al-Sham" means "land to the north", literally "land on the left-hand" relative to someone in the Hejaz facing east.

Career under the Ummayad caliphs

Association with the Dome of the Rock

Raja played a key role in the construction of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem Jerusalem-2013(2)-Temple Mount-Dome of the Rock (SE exposure).jpg
Raja played a key role in the construction of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem

It was likely through the patronage of the Kindites in the caliphs' courts in Syria that Raja gained favor with the Umayyads, particularly Marwan's son and successor, Abd al-Malik (r. 685–705). [7] The latter entrusted Raja and his own Jerusalemite mawlā, Yazid ibn Sallam, with overseeing the financing of the Dome of the Rock's construction in Jerusalem. [7] It is possible this was the reason for Raja's relocation to Palestine from the Jordan district and his new title sayyid ahl Filaṣtin (leader of the people of Palestine). [8] Raja's role in its construction is described in the earliest known Muslim literary work specifically dedicated to the merits of Jerusalem, the Faḍāʿil al-Bayt al-Muqaddas written by the Jerusalemite preacher Ahmad al-Wasiti before 1019. [9] Raja and Yazid were instructed by the caliph to spend generously on the building's construction and ornamentation. [10] In an account recorded by the 15th-century Palestine-based historian Mujir ad-Din al-Ulaymi, Raja and Yazid informed Abd al-Malik that after the Dome of the Rock's completion there remained a surplus of 100,000 gold dinars in the construction budget. [7] The caliph offered them the sum as an additional reward for their efforts, but both men refused; as a result, Abd al-Malik ordered that the coins be melted to gild the building's dome. [11]

The Banu Umayya or Umayyads (الأمويون), were the ruling family of the caliphate between 661 and 750 and later of Islamic Spain between 756 and 1031. In the pre-Islamic period, they were a prominent clan of the Quraysh tribe descended from Umayya ibn Abd Shams. Despite staunch opposition to the Islamic prophet Muhammad, the Umayyads embraced Islam before the latter's death in 632. A member of the clan, Uthman, went on to become the third Rashidun caliph in 644–656, while other members held various governorships. One of these governors, Mu'awiya I, won the First Muslim Civil War in 661 and established the Umayyad Caliphate with its capital in Damascus, Syria. This marked the beginning of the Umayyad dynasty, the first hereditary dynasty in the history of Islam, and the only one to rule over the entire Islamic world of its time.

Dome of the Rock islamic sanctuary in Jerusalem

The Dome of the Rock is an Islamic shrine located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. It was initially completed in 691–92 CE at the order of Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik during the Second Fitna on the site of the Second Jewish Temple, destroyed during the Roman Siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE. The original dome collapsed in 1015 and was rebuilt in 1022–23. The Dome of the Rock is in its core one of the oldest extant works of Islamic architecture.

Gold dinar gold coin, first issued by the Umayyad Caliphate, made of 1 mithqal (4.25 grams) of gold

The gold dinar is an Islamic medieval gold coin first issued in AH 77 (696–697 CE) by Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan. The weight of the dinar is 1 mithqal.

The historian Nasser Rabbat notes that Raja's social connection to Palestine, his attributed expertise about the holy sites of Jerusalem and his important role in developing the early Muslim tradition about Jerusalem's sanctity combined with his senior position in the Umayyad court and knowledge of the Qur'an may have afforded Raja a greater role in the Dome of the Rock's foundation, beyond its financing. [12] Accordingly, Rabbat speculates Raja may have advised Abd al-Malik to choose the site of the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount and formulated the Qur'anic inscriptions which decorate the structure's interior and exterior. [12]

Temple Mount religious site in the Old City of Jerusalem

The Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Haram esh-Sharif and the Al Aqsa Compound is a hill located in the Old City of Jerusalem that for thousands of years has been venerated as a holy site, in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam alike.

Adviser of Abd al-Malik

Toward the end of the Dome of the Rock's completion in 691/92, Raja was assigned by Abd al-Malik to a joint embassy with the up-and-coming commander al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf to negotiate a reconciliation with Zufar ibn al-Harith al-Kilabi, the Qarqisiya (Circesium)-based rebel leader of the Qaysi tribes. [13] The latter had given their allegiance to Abd al-Malik's anti-Umayyad rival, the Mecca-based caliph Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr, and since their rout by the Umayyads and their Kindite and Banu Kalb allies at the Battle of Marj Rahit in 684, had launched a revolt throughout Upper Mesopotamia and the Syrian Desert. Raja displayed his moderate disposition by praying alongside Zufar when al-Hajjaj refused to do so. [13] According to al-Baladhuri, Raja later interceded with Abd al-Malik to pardon the rebels who had participated in the mass anti-Umayyad, Iraqi rebellion of Ibn al-Ash'ath, a prominent Kufa-based Kindite, in 700–701. [7]

Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf Umayyad governor/general

Abū Muhammad al-Ḥajjāj ibn Yūsuf ibn al-Ḥakam ibn ʿAqīl al-Thaqafī, known simply as al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf, was perhaps the most notable governor who served the Umayyad Caliphate. A highly capable though ruthless statesman, strict in character, a harsh and demanding master, he was widely feared by his contemporaries and became a deeply controversial figure and an object of deep-seated enmity among later, pro-Abbasid writers, who ascribed to him persecutions and mass executions.

Zufar ibn al-Ḥārith al-Kilābī was a Muslim general, chieftain of the Arab tribe of Banu 'Amir, and the preeminent leader of the Qays faction in the 7th century. He commanded his tribesmen in Aisha's army during the First Muslim Civil War, and later served as the Umayyad governor of Jund Qinnasrin. In 684, during the Second Fitna, he supported Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr's bid to wrest the caliphate from the Umayyads. Afterward, he based himself in al-Qarqisiyah (Circesium) and led the Qays tribes against the Yaman, launching several raids against the latter in the Syrian Desert. By 688–689, he also became entangled in a conflict with the Banu Taghlib. Zufar made peace with the Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik in 691 by abandoning Ibn al-Zubayr's cause in return for stately and military privileges. During the reigns of Abd al-Malik's successors, Zufar and his family maintained their high-ranking positions in the Umayyad government.

Qays ʿAylān, often referred to simply as Qays were an Arab tribal confederation that branched from the Mudhar section of the Adnanites. The tribe does not appear to have functioned as a unit in the pre-Islamic era. However, by the early Umayyad, its constituent tribes consolidated into one of the main tribo-political factions of the caliphate.

Secretary of Sulayman and Umar II

When Abd al-Malik appointed his son Sulayman governor of Palestine, he assigned Raja as his mentor. [7] Raja accompanied Abd al-Malik's son and successor al-Walid I (r. 705–715) on the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina in 710. [14] By the time Sulayman acceded to the caliphate in 715, Raja had gained a reputation as the ascetic of the Umayyads and the "outstanding man of religion of his age for Syria", according to Bosworth. [15] He related traditions from certain companions of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, including Mu'awiya, Jabir ibn Abd Allah, Abu Umama al-Bahili and Abd Allah ibn Umar, which were, in turn, related by numerous later Muslim traditionists. [15] In a quote attributed to Sulayman's brother Maslama, the head Umayyad commander on the Byzantine front, "through Raja and his likes, we are rendered victorious". [16] In a testament to Raja's loyalty to the Umayyad caliphs Sa'id ibn Jubayr (d. 714) stated, Raja "used to be regarded as the most knowledgeable jurist (faqih) in Syria, but if you provoke him, you will find him Syrian in his views quoting Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan saying such-and-such." [17]

Raja served as Sulayman's chief kātib (secretary or scribe) and head of the administration of justice. [15] He is credited by the Mamluk historian Ibn Fadlallah al-Umari for advising Sulayman, while he was governor of Palestine, to select the site of Ramla as the new capital of Islamic Palestine, replacing nearby Lydda (Lod). [18] According to the traditional Muslim historians, Raja played an influential role in securing the succession of Sulayman's paternal cousin, the son of Abd al-Aziz ibn Marwan, Umar II, to the caliphate over expectations in the Umayyad ruling family that one of Sulayman's brothers or sons would accede. [19] In the account of the historian al-Waqidi (d. 823), while Sulayman was on his deathbed at his army camp in Dabiq during the major offensive against the Byzantines in 717, Sulayman's succession became a pressing issue. [19] Abd al-Malik had formally designated al-Walid and Sulayman as his successors, but did not specify anyone beyond them; nonetheless, his intention that the office of the caliphate remain in the hands of his direct descendants was common knowledge in the ruling family. [19] Sulayman's chosen successor, his eldest son Ayyub, had predeceased him and the ill caliph debated potential replacements with Raja. [20] [21]

The two Umayyad factions present at Dabiq were an anonymous group of Sulayman's inner circle represented by Raja and the family of Abd al-Malik, apparently represented by the caliph's brother Hisham. The latter faction favored another of Sulayman's brothers, Yazid II, who was away on the Hajj pilgrimage, to succeed, while the former favored Umar. [22] In al-Waqidi's accounts, which are ultimately traced back to Raja's own account of the events, Raja persuaded Sulayman to bypass his own sons and brothers in favor of Umar. [23] Raja was chosen to execute Sulayman's will. [24] He secured the decision by securing oaths of allegiance from the Umayyad family to Sulayman's willed successor whose name was kept secret in a sealed letter. [22] Once he gained their oaths, Umar was revealed as the next caliph and Yazid II as the next in line. [22] [23] He threatened the use of force against Sulayman's brothers following their protestations at being bypassed. [24] Raja's role in the affair is considered to be a likely exaggeration by the modern historian Reinhard Eisener because Raja's personal account was the original authority for the early Muslim sources. [23] [20]

Raja first met Umar during the Hajj pilgrimage of 710, when Umar served as governor of Medina for al-Walid. [23] During Umar's caliphate (717–720), Raja was one of the caliph's three kātibs. [15] Although Raja may have functioned as a secretary of Sulayman and Umar, there is no evidence that he was ever a copyist, adhering to a specific set of stylizations of the sort visible at the Dome of the Rock, or that a group of such copyists flourished in Palestine in the time of Abd al-Malik. [25] There is a lack of precise information about Raja's contributions, if any, to Umar's well-documented administrative reforms. [23]

Retirement and death

Following the death of Umar, Raja likely entered retirement. [15] According to the medieval Persian historian Abu Nu'aym al-Isfahani (d. 1038), he refused to accompany Umar's successor, Caliph Yazid II (r. 720–724) on the latter's visit to Jerusalem. [26] After Caliph Hisham (r. 724–743) wrote to Raja expressing regret about his executions of the Qadari (at the time a theological school of Islam that asserted humans possessed free will) scholars Ghaylan al-Dimashqi and Salih Qubba, Raja wrote back supporting Hisham's decision; the executed scholars had been known political dissident during the reign of Raja's patron, Umar II. [26] According to the medieval historian Ibn al-Athir (d. 1233), Raja died in Qussin, a place in Kufa's environs. [27] Bosworth surmises that Raja ended up there possibly as part of the entourage of the Umayyad governor of Iraq, Khalid al-Qasri. [27]

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  1. 1 2 3 Bosworth 1982, p. 81.
  2. Lecker 1998, p. 20, note 19.
  3. Elad 1999, p. 19.
  4. Rabbat 1993, pp. 70, 74, note 27.
  5. Rabbat 1993, p. 75, note 29.
  6. 1 2 Bosworth 1982, pp. 82–83.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 Bosworth 1982, p. 83.
  8. Elad 2008, p. 194, note 139.
  9. Rabbat 1993, pp. 66, 68.
  10. Rabbat 1993, p. 68.
  11. Bosworth 1982, pp. 83–84.
  12. 1 2 Rabbat 1993, pp. 70–71.
  13. 1 2 Bosworth 1982, p. 84.
  14. Bosworth 1982, p. 85.
  15. 1 2 3 4 5 Bosworth 1982, p. 87.
  16. Bosworth 1982, p. 88.
  17. Tabaqat al-Fuqaha, in the biography of Sa`id ibn Jubayr
  18. Bosworth 1982, p. 91.
  19. 1 2 3 Bosworth 1982, p. 94.
  20. 1 2 Eisener 1997, p. 822.
  21. Powers 1989, p. 70.
  22. 1 2 3 Bosworth 1982, p. 95.
  23. 1 2 3 4 5 Bosworth 2004, p. 683.
  24. 1 2 Shaban 1971, pp. 130–131.
  25. C. E. Bosworth, Raja' ibn Haywa al-Kindi and the Umayyad Caliphs, Islamic Quarterly 16 1972: 43 and n. 5, the sources vary
  26. 1 2 Bosworth 1982, p. 121.
  27. 1 2 Bosworth 1982, p. 122.