Banū Kinda in Hadjar in the second half of the 6th century
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Banū Kinda in Hadjar in the second half of the 6th century
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Dmitry Mishin 
Occupation: Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences
Affiliation: Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow

 This study deals with a particular aspect of the history of the Banū Kinda tribal confederation, namely, with its domination over Hadjar (North-Eastern Arabia). The Kindite rulers of Hadjar were descendants of Muʻāwiya al-Djawn (‘the Black’), son of Ḥudjr, founder of the Kindite royal house and vassal of the kings of Himyar and Saba (Yemen). Muʻāwiya and his son al-Ḥārith ruled over Yamama, whereas al-Ḥārith Ibn ʻAmr al-Ḥarrāb (‘the War-Wager’), the famous king and warrior, who belonged to a different branch of the Kindite royal family, moved to the north-east and became a vassal of the Sasanids. In the 520–530-es the Sasanids and their Lakhmid vassals persecuted al-Ḥārith Ibn ʻAmr and his subjects, which made it necessary for al-Ḥārith Ibn Muʻāwiya to move from Yamama to the region of Mecca. Afterwards Muʻāwiya, son of al-Ḥārith Ibn Muʻāwiya, became a vassal of Abraha, the Ethiopian ruler of Yemen, resuming the old Kindite practice of serving rulers of Yemen. In 553–554 Abraha got possession of the Arabs from the Hadjar region and appointed Muʻāwiya his governor over it. Muʻāwiya built al-Mushaḳḳar, the principal fortress of Hadjar. Lakhmid king ʻAmr III (554–569) in the beginning of his reign drove the Kindites out of Hadjar, but after his death they recovered it. Muʻāwiya ruled over Hadjar in the time of al-Nuʻmān III’s reign in al-Ḥīra (579–601). Before the end of the 6th century Banū Kinda left Hadjar, which may have been due to Muʻāwiya’s death, and migrated to South Arabia.

pre-Islamic Arabia, Hadjar, Banū Kinda, Lakhmids, Sasanids
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1 The history of the Banū Kinda tribal confederation is a subject which by all means is worth efforts to study. In the 5th century Banū Kinda, then vassals of the kings of the united state of Himyar and Saba, undertook a number of large-scale campaigns in Arabia. King Ḥudjr of Banū Kinda, nicknamed ‘Eater of Bitter Plants’ (Ākil al-murār), resided in al-Ghamr (placed by Muslim geographers on the way from Baghdad to Mecca, not far from the latter), which for a time became the Kindite capital. Ḥudjr’s grandson al-Ḥārith the War-Wager (al-Ḥarrāb) advanced further to the north, and Banū Kinda arrived at the frontiers of Byzantium and the Sasanid state. Banū Kinda failed in their attacks upon Byzantium but were more successful in the East. They dealt a strong blow to the Lakhmids, Arab rulers of al-Ḥīra, who governed Arab tribes on the Sasanids’ behalf. In the early 510-es al-Ḥārith the War-Wager seized al-Ḥīra. Lakhmid king al-Mundhir III (512/13–554)1 was compelled to flee. Some time later, evidently through the efforts of Sasanid king Kavad I (488–498/99, 501–531), a settlement was achieved. Al-Ḥārith became a vassal of Kavad, leaving his former masters, kings of Himyar and Saba, and went with those Banū Kinda who were subject to him to stay in the Sasanid possessionsbeyond Euphrates. Al-Mundhir, who did not cease to be a vassal of the Sasanids, returned to al-Ḥīra. Al-Ḥārith was expected to help the Sasanids extend their dominion over the tribes of Arabia, yet he did very little in that respect. The Sasanids must have been disappointed. In the late 520-es and the early 530-es the Lakhmids began, with the Sasanids’ help, an offensive against al-Ḥārith. The latter fled to Byzantium and apparently died before long. Al-Ḥārith’s elder sons, whom he had appointed his governors over Arab tribes, perished at about the same time. Imruʼ-l-Ḳays, a famous poet and grandson of al-Ḥārith, went to Byzantium to apply for help against Banū Asad Ibn Khuzayma who had killed his father Ḥudjr. Yet he, if the legends which have come to us are to be trusted, fell victim of courtly intrigues and died of a decease caused by a poison-soaked garment which the emperor sent him2.
1. Dates of Lakhmid kings’ reigns are examined in detail in my History of the Lakhmid state [Mishin, 2017, p. 27–42].

2. Here again I would suggest to address my History of the Lakhmid state [Mishin, 2017, p. 108–162].
2 Ḥudjr the Eater of Bitter Plants, al-Ḥārith the War-Wager and Imruʼ-l-Ḳays invariably enjoy the status of protagonists in Arabic stories and legends concerning Banū Kinda in preIslamic times. They overshadow all other Kindite rulers and statesmen, of whom only scattered references have reached us3. And yet, those references, although sometimes lacking precision or details, allow for re-constructing the history of another Kindite state formation which was a contemporary of al-Ḥārith’s tribal state but lasted longer for several decades.
3. It is approximately the same in works by 20th and 21st century scholars. They usually do not examine the rule of the descendants of Muʻāwiya the Black in Hadjar and do not go beyond mentioning the latter as a brother of ʻAmr, sonof Ḥudjr, who ruled in Yamama [ʻAlī, 1993, 3, p. 327; Farrūkh, 1964, p. 87; al-Kindī, 2000, p. 81; Olinder, 1927, p. 47; al-Shaykh, 1993, p. 168].
3 Ḥudjr the Eater of Bitter Plants left two heirs among whom his possessions were divided. ʻAmr, father of al-Ḥārith the War-Wager, ruled over the territories in which his father had resided, i.e., first of all, the region of al-Ghamr. Muʻāwiya al-Djawn, the other son, received Yamama [Abū al-Faradj al-Iṣfahānī, 1905, 8, p. 61; Ibn al-Athīr, 1987, p. 399; Muḥammad Ibn Ḥabīb, 1942, p. 369]. Of the latter, as well as of his rule, little is known. He was a brother of ʻAmr by both father and mother and was nicknamed al-Djawn (‘the Black’) for the darkness of his skin [Abū al-Faradj al-Iṣfahānī, 1905, 10, p. 33; al-Kalbī, 1988, p. 168]. I supposed once, on the basis of historical context, that it is to Muʻāwiya al-Djawn that Ibn ʻAbd Rabbih (860– 940) actually refers stating that a certain al-Djawn Ibn Yazīd was the first to conclude an alliance between Banū Kinda and the tribal confederation of Banū Bakr Ibn Wāʼil [Mishin, 2017, p. 121].
4 Following that, the story of Muʻāwiya the Black and his descendants cannot be followed for a while. They re-appear in the sources in quite different circumstances. The extant evidence on them is as follows.
5 The stories of the Banū ʻAbs tribe which belonged to the Ghaṭafān tribal confederation tell that at a certain stage they went to the region of Hadjar. Their goal was to find new dwelling places according to some accounts or merely to buy food according to others. Upon their arrival they entered into treaties with local rulers. In most accounts the Banū ʻAbs’ counterpart is the tribe of Banū Saʻd Ibn Zayd Manāt of the Banū Tamīm confederation. Yet Ibn al-Athīr (1160–1233) states that the Banū ʻAbs dealt with the ruler of Hadjar called Muʻāwiya Ibn alḤārith al-Kindī. However, the latter soon changed his mind and decided to attack them. This scenario occurs in other accounts as well, although in a slightly different form: it is said that Banū Saʻd addressed Muʻāwiya Ibn al-Djawn, the king of Hadjar (and, according to one story, of Banū Saʻd as well) and proposed to jointly destroy Banū Kinda and share the booty. The king agreed and set off with his troops, planning to suddenly attack early in the morning, which was then a usual element of Arabic military tactics. Yet Banū ʻAbs had been warned of his approach and left their camp. Muʻāwiya and Banū Saʻd pursued them and in the morning reached them near the wadi4 of al-Farūḳ, in half a day of march from the place where a largely known market was held. The Banū ʻAbs stood there in readiness. According to most accounts Banū ʻAbs won the battle, although the sources tell us that they did not stay at that place and retreated [ʻAntara, 1964, p. 223, 227; al-Bakrī, 1983, p. 1024; Ibn ʻAbd Rabbih, 1965, p. 158; Ibn al-Athīr, 1987, p. 460; al-Maydānī, 1955, p. 117; al-Mufaḍḍal Ibn Salama, 1974, p. 229; Yāḳūt, 1977, 4, p. 258; al-Yazīdī, 1998, p. 585].
4. Al-Farūḳ is also said to have been a mountain situated beyond the borders of the region of Hadjar, towards Najd.
6 Ibn al-Athīr then states that following a number of migrations and wars (which, according to him, spread over years) the Banū ʻAbs became allies of the tribal confederation of Banū ʻAmir and participated as such in the battle in a pass in the mountain of Djabala (yawm shiʻb Djabala), hereinafter the battle of Djabala [Ibn al-Athīr, 1987, p. 461], which Abū ʻUbayda Maʻmar Ibn al-Muthannā (d. 824/25 or 828/29), to whom we owe much information on Arabic warfare in pre-Islamic times, counts as one of the three major battles of the Djāhiliyya period [Ibn Rashīḳ, 1981, p. 203]. That battle was a part of a long-term struggle between the tribal confederations of Banū ʻĀmir and Banū Tamīm. Either party arrived at the battlefield with its allies, among whom we see once again a ruler called al-Djawn. According to a narration by Abū ʻUbayda, which is known to us through Ibn ʻAbd Rabbih and al-Nuwayrī (1279–1333), Laḳīṭ Ibn Zurāra, the chieftain of Banū Tamīm, gathered a large coalition against Banū ʻĀmir. He addressed, among others, al-Djawn al-Kindī who is described as king of Hadjar collecting tributes from Arabs who dwelt in that region. Al-Djawn agreed to help and sent his two sons, Muʻāwiya and ʻAmr, to Laḳīṭ’s aid [al-Bakrī, 1983, p. 366; Ibn ʻAnd Rabbih, 1965, p. 141; alNuwayrī, 2004, p. 269]. Ibn al-Athīr mentions ʻAmr and Muʻāwiyā too, calling each of them Ibn al-Djawn and probable referring to the same persons as mentioned above. In the version of the Naḳāʼiḍ Djarīr wa al-Farazdaḳ by al-Yazīdī (b. 843 or 845, d. 922) we see ʻAmr and Muʻāwiya, yet they are described as sons of Sharāḥīl Ibn ʻAmr and grandsons of al-Djawn, that is to say, Muʻāwiya the Black [al-Yazīdī, 1998, p. 574].
7 In mediaeval accounts of the battle of Djabala some other Kindite chieftains appear as well. Hishām al-Kalbī (b. ca. 737, d. 819 or 819), who in the Middle Ages had the reputation of one best experts on pre-Islamic history, points out, while speaking of the descendants of al-Djawn, son of the Eater of Bitter Plants (i.e. of Muʻāwiya the Black), to two of them who participated in what he terms yawm Djabala (the day (i.e. battle) of Djabala), namely, Ḥassān Ibn ʻAmr Ibn al-Djawn and Muʻāwiya Ibn Shuraḥbīl Ibn Akhḍar Ibn al-Djawn [al-Kalbī, 1988, p. 171]. AlMubarrad (b. 826 or in the early 820-es, d. 899 or 900) mentions Muʻāwiya and Ḥassān, calling both Ibn al-Djawn (son of al-Djawn), and we find the same in the treatise of al-Ḥillī (end of the 11th – first half of the 12th century), a very important source of information on pre-Islamic Arabs [al-Ḥillī, 1984, p. 532; al-Mubarrad, 1998, p. 294]. Ibn Rashīḳ (999/1000–1064) mentions, on the authority of Abū ʻUbayda, Muʻāwiya and Ḥassān, both with the nisbaal-Kindī, but then remarks that, according to another version, it was ʻAmr, brother of Muʻāwiya (and not Ḥassān) who participated in the battle [Ibn Rashīḳ, 1981, p. 203]. Abū-l-Faradj al-Iṣfahānī (897/98–967) states that the Banū Kinda were led by Shuraḥbīl Ibn al-Akhḍar, grandson of Muʻāwiya the Black [Abū al-Faradj al-Iṣfahānī, 1905, 10, p. 33], yet this is likely to be a scribal error for in all other accounts the chieftains’ names vary between Muʻāwiya, ʻAmr, and Ḥassān.
8 A more detailed piece of evidence is supplied by al-ʻAwtabī al-Ṣuḥārī5. In his words, the two Kindite chieftains were Ḥassān Ibn ʻAmr and Muʻāwiya Ibn Shuraḥbīl Ibn Akhḍar, grandson and grandgrandson of Muʻāwiya the Black (who is referred in the text as son of Ḥudjr) respectively. One of them, apparently, Muʻāwiya Ibn Shuraḥbīl, is said to have married someone from the Banū Badr tribe (belonging to the Banū Fazāra confederation) and have become its king. He arrived at the battlefield leading a troop collected from that tribe. Ḥassān is described as king of Banū Tamīm and commander of their host. It is further stated that the descendants of al-Djawn commanded troops of Banū Fazāra, Banū Dhubyān, Banū al-Ḳayn and Ṭayyiʼ [al-ʻAwtabī alṢuḥārī, 2006, p. 604, 606]. Ibn Khaldūn (1333–1378/1379) furnishes similar information stating that Hassān Ibn ʻAmr Ibn al-Djawn (erroneously written as al-Djawr) was the chief of the Banū Tamīm troops, yet he is obviously mistaken as to the second general whom he calls Muʻāwiya Ibn Shuraḥbīl Ibn Ḥiṣn and places at the head of the Banū ʻĀmir [Ibn Khaldūn, 2001, 2, p. 329].
5. The dates of his life are uncertain. It is believed that he must have lived between the beginning of the 10th and that of the 13th century.
9 Notwithstanding any divergences in details, mediaeval writers are unanimous in stating that the Banū ʻĀmir and Banū ʻAbs as their allies won a complete victory. Laḳīṭ was killed (according to one account, by famous poet ʻAntara), and his brother Ḥājib, then very young, was taken prisoner. The Kindite chieftains met a bitter fate. According to Hishām al-Kalbī both Ḥassān and Muʻāwiya perished in the battle [al-Kalbī, 1988, p. 171]. Abū ʻUbayda mentions the death of Muʻāwiya [Ibn ʻAnd Rabbih, 1965, p. 143; al-Nuwayrī, 2004, p. 270]. In Ibn al-Athīr’s narration ʻAmr was killed, and Muʻāwiya taken prisoner [Ibn al-Athīr, 1987, p. 464]. In the most detailed account of al-Yazīdī both ʻAmr and Muʻāwiya were taken prisoners, the former by Banū ʻĀmir, the latter by Banū ʻAbs. ʻAwf Ibn al-Aḥwaṣ of Banū ʻĀmir, who captured ʻAmr, set him free. The Kindite prince set off home but was almost immediately killed by one of the Banū ʻAbs. According to Arabic customs of that time, a prisoner was considered to belong to, and be under protection of, the one who captured him. ʻAwf, to whom a damage was thus caused, accused the Banū ʻAbs of an inappropriate act. Talks were held, and finally Muʻāwiya was handed over to ʻAwf, for the latter to recover his due. ʻAwf put Muʻāwiya to death [alYazīdī, 1998, p. 574]. Al-Mubarrad, Ibn Rashīḳ, and al-Ḥillī tell similar stories, although with some divergences in details. With al-Ḥillī, Ḥassān appears in ʻAmr’s stead, and the end is somehow different: it is stated that ʻAwf put Muʻāwiya to death according to some, but set him free according to others [al-Ḥillī, 532–533]. Al-Mubarrad states that Ḥassān was slain and Muʻāwiya was set free for a ransom [al-Mubarrad, 1998, p. 294]. In Ibn Rashīḳ’s version, Muʻāwiya was taken prisoner by ʻAwf, then set free for a ransom and killed on his way home [Ibn Rashīḳ, 1981, p. 204].
10 Banū Kinda took part in the following stage of the struggle, which was the battle of Dhū Nadjab. It occurred, according to Ibn al-Athīr, one year after the battle of Djabala [Ibn al-Athīr, 1987, p. 474]. In all accounts of the battle, Banū ʻĀmir, upon dealing the Banū Tamīm a hard blow in the yawm shiʻb Djabala, decided to destroy them completely. With that aim, they were active getting ready for war and looking for allies. An ʻĀmirite embassy went to the Kindite king. In Abū ʻUbayda’s account, which seems to be the most detailed and trustworthy of all, the king is called Muʻāwiya Ibn al-Djawn. He accepted the alliance proposal and sent two his sons, ʻAmr and Ḥassān, together with their mother Kabsha and one more person belonging to the ruling family, to the ʻĀmirite camp. The king’s election of ʻAmr and Ḥassān might well be explained by the words of Yāḳūt (1179–1229), who states that Kabsha was of ʻĀmirite origin. In all other accounts, including the one quoted by al-Yazīdī, the embassy went to Ḥassān Ibn Muʻāwiya, who is also called by his mother’s name, Ḥassān Ibn Kabsha. Ibn al-Athīr and Yāḳūt identify Muʻāwiya, the father of Ḥassān, with Muʻawiya the Black, which is obviously incorrect (the reference in question must be made to Muʻāwiya Ibn al-Ḥārith), but shows that the story must be about the ruler of Hadjar.
11 Again, the battle ended in a defeat of Banū Kinda and their allies. The Tamīmite tribe of Banū Ḥanẓala, against which the allies’ first blow was directed, migrated to where it became protected by another tribe of the same confederation, the Banū Yarbūʻ. The latter fought against the Banū ʻĀmir and Banū Kinda and defeated them. ʻAmr (with al-Yazīdī) or Ḥassān (with Ibn Hishām (d. 828/829 or 833), Ibn al-Athīr and Yāḳūt) perished on the battlefield [Ibn al-Athīr, 1987, p. 474; Ibn Hishām, 1995, 1, p. 257; Yāḳūt, 1977, 5, p. 261; al-Yazīdī, 1998, p. 474–475, 740–741, 1095].
12 The dating of those battles is of particular importance. It may be based upon the fact that in the accounts of Ibn ʻAbd Rabbih, al-Ḥillī, and al-Nuwayrī a detachment sent by Lakhmid king al-Nuʻmān Ibn al-Mundhir, i. e., al-Nuʻmān III (579–601) fought for Banū Tamīm in the battle of Djabala [al-Ḥillī, 1984, p. 227; Ibn ʻAbd Rabbih, 1965, p. 141; al-Nuwayrī, 2004, p. 245]. The veracity of this evidence may be questioned because Ibn al-Athīr, who provides a detailed account of the battle, does not refer to any involvement of Lakhmid troops [Mishin, 2017, 245]. Yet this cannot, of itself, be a reason to discard those references. Yāḳūt (1179–1229) states that Banū ʻĀmir and Banū ʻAbs went to passes of the Djabala mountain fearing king alNuʻmān and Sasanid troops [Yāḳūt, 1977, 2, p. 387]. Then, more generally, the narration of any particular ancient writer heavily depends on the sources at his hand, and even the same author may omit something he sets forth elsewhere. For instance, Ibn Rashīḳ provides two accounts of the battle of Djabala. In one, Abū ʻUbayda is said to be the source of information. In the other one, the story is quoted after Abū ʻUbayda’s account but as told by Muḥammad Ibn Ḥabīb (d. 860). The first account contains a reference to a detachment under the command of Ḥassān, al-Nuʻmān’s brother by mother, which participated in the battle, whereas in the second one there is no reference to Lakhmid troops [Ibn Rashīḳ, 1981, p. 203–204].
13 Concerning the battle of Djabala, it is worth observing that the Banū Tamīm were led by Laḳīṭ Ibn Zurāra. Arabic stories which I have examined in my History of the Lakhmid state show that Zurāra, Laḳīṭ’s father, governed Banū Tamīm earlier, for at least the initial part of the rule of Lakhmid king ʻAmr III (554–569) [Mishin, 2017, p. 202–203]. It was later that Laḳīṭ rose to power. This at least is not at variance with the observations made above as to the involvement of Lakhmid troops.
14 By the time of the events considered above the Banū Kinda who used to be ruled by alḤārith the War-Wager had, as I hope to show elsewhere, migrated to Hadramawt. And yet, in later times we see quite a picture. At least one Kindite ruler who, like al-Ḥārith the War-Wager, belonged to the family of Ḥudjr, possessed Hadjar, was named a king and perceived tributes from Arabic tribes. Moreover, he had enough power to send to war two persons who were rulers of strong tribes. According to some references, Kindite rulers had clients (ṣanāʼiʻ) who paid for protection by loyalty and service. Those clients are said to have participated in the battle of Dhū Nadjab [Ibn al-Athīr, 1987, p. 474; al-Yazīdī, 1998, p. 741]. The Banū Kinda of Hadjar, therefore, were not merely a tribe, but had a more advanced social structure.
15 This picture would be incomplete without understanding what was Hadjar. Ibn al-Faḳīh, a Muslim geographer of the 10th century, supplies, on the authority of Abū ʻUbayda, a brief description of the region of Baḥrayn which in the Middle Ages comprised lands from Basra to Oman. Hadjar is described as its capital. Then (perhaps, it is no longer taken from Abū ʻUbayda) Hadjar is said to have three fortresses, al-Ṣafā, al-Mushaḳḳar (with a cathedral mosque), and al-Shabʻān [Ibn al-Faḳīh, 89]. This description, one of the earliest extant, presents Hadjar as it was in Islamic times, but provides a good general overview; furthermore, at least al-Mushaḳḳar and al-Ṣafā are known to have existed already in the pre-Islamic period.

A history of Hadjar has recently been presented by ʻA. ʻA. al-Djanabī, whose book ‘Hadjar, Its Three Fortresses (al-Mushaḳḳar – al-Ṣafā – al-Shabʻān), and Its River al-Muḥallim’ was published in 2004. It undoubtedly goes to the author’s credit that he successfully connected evidence from written sources and the results of his own field work. Since making an alternative study of such scale would not be possible for a Moscow scholar, I am going to rely upon Mr. al-Djanabī’s observations. According to him, the town of Hadjar was situated at the foot of the al-Shabʻān mountain (present-day al-Ḳāra), on its north-western side. Al-Mushaḳḳar is identified with a hill which stands in the centre of the Ḳaryat al-Ḳāra borough and is called Djabal Raʼs al-Ḳāra, and al-Ṣafā, with another hill located to the south-west of the Djabal al-Ḥaṣīṣ mountain [al-Djanabī, 2004, p. 238]6. Should we localize this place on a map of present-day Arabia, the best orienting point would be the same Ḳaryat al-Ḳāra situated in some kilometres to the north-east from al-Hufūf.

6. This identification agrees in whole with Chr.-J. Robin’s suggestion according to which Hadjar, identified with Gerra / Gerrha of Hellenistic and Roman writers, probably was located in present-day al-Hufūf oasis. [Robin, 2016, p. 226–227]. Ḳaryat al-Ḳāra is situated near al-Hufūf, a little to the south-east of it. I hope to elaborate on this issue elsewhere.
17 An interesting piece of information is found in the mediaeval geographical encyclopaedia of Abū ʻUbayd al-Bakrī (b. ca. 1010, d. after 1090/1091). He states that al-Mushaḳḳar was built by a Kindite king called Muʻāwiya Ibn al-Ḥārith Ibn Muʻawiya. Formerly, the Banū Kinda’s dwellings were in Ḍariyya. Al-Ḥārith, Muʻawiya’s father, migrated to al-Ghamr, whereas Muʻāwiya built al-Mushaḳḳar [al-Bakrī, 1983, p. 1232].
18 To understand this reference, it is necessary to look at Ḍariyya. In mediaeval sources it is usually placed on the way from Basra to Mecca [Ibn Khurradādhbih, 1889, p. 146, 190; alMuḳaddasī, 1906, p. 109]. According to Ibn Saʻd (ca. 784–845), Ḍariyya was situated at a distance of ‘seven nights’ (sabʻ layālī) of travel from Medina [Ibn Saʻd, 2001, 2, p. 74]. This is a good reason to correct the 1938 edition of al-Masʻūdī’s Kitāb al-tanbīh wa al-ishrāf, where the distance in question is specified as 7 miles (sabʻat amyāl), and to revert to De Goeje’s earlier reading sabʻat ayyām (seven days) [al-Masʻūdī, 1894, p. 251; al-Masʻūdī, 1938, p. 218]. A settlement called Ḍariyya exists at present; it is situated between al-Riyadh and Mecca, at a distance of approximately 350 km from the latter. Dividing 350 km by 7, one has a little more than 47 km, a distance which may be covered in a day, or a night, of march. Given this, it may be assumed that al-Ḥārith Ibn Muʻāwiya brought his Banū Kinda to al-Ghamr from the region of present-day Ḍariyya.
19 So far, thus, it can be observed:
  1. King Muʻāwiya Ibn al-Ḥārith of Banū Kinda took and re-constructed al-Mushaḳḳar, the main fortress of Hadjar (rather than building it, as al-Bakrī’s text would suggest, because the fortress was already in existence). Banū ʻAbs applied for help to Muʻawiya Ibn al-Ḥārith, the Kindite king of Hadjar. Later on, king Muʻāwiya Ibn al-Djawn sent a detachment which participated in the battle of Dhū Nadjab.
  2. In the battle of Djabala the Kindite troops sent by the king of Hadjar were commanded by descendants of Muʻāwiya the Black, son of Ḥudjr the Eater of Bitter Plants.
  3. Muʻawiya the Black ruled over the Banū Kinda of Yamama. Al-Ḥārith Ibn Muʻāwiya migrated to al-Ghamr from Ḍariyya which can be said to be located in Yamama.
  4. Muʻawiya Ibn al-Ḥārith who re-constructed al-Mushaḳḳar was a grandson of Muʻawiya who had ruled over the Banū Kinda of Yamama.
  5. The rule of Muʻawiya Ibn al-Ḥārith in Hadjar can roughly be placed in the second half of the 6th century.
20 As combined with the historical context, the observations above allow to re-construct the course of events as follows. Muʻāwiya the Black, son of Ḥudjr the Eater of Bitter Plants, ruled in Yamama in the second half of the 5th century and, perhaps, later on. His residence, or one of his residences, was in Ḍariyya. He was succeeded as a ruler by his son al-Ḥārith. The latter migrated from Ḍariyya to the ancient Kindite dwellings at al-Ghamr, that is to say, to the southwest. The most plausible explanation of this would be that al-Ḥārith felt some danger from the opposite side, i. e., from the north-east. He probably feared that the offensive which the Sasanids and Lakhmids led against the Banū Kinda of al-Ḥārith the War-Wager might affect him as well. Should this be true, al-Ḥarith’s migration to al-Ghamr must have occurred in the late 520es or the early 530-es.

Muʻāwiya Ibn al-Ḥārith was, while migrating to Hadjar, advancing in the opposite direction. He went to where the Lakhmids collected tributes for themselves and the Sasanids. He settled at a distance of approximately 125 km from al-Ḳaṭīf and could, by making some quick marches, put Punyat-Ardashir (al-Khaṭṭ), the Sasanids’ main stronghold in the region of Baḥrayn, in danger. It must have been evident to him that such a migration would probably bring about war against the Lakhmids and Sasanids, as well as the tribes under their power. Nevertheless, something strong enough to set all risks aside encouraged him to advance. It appears likely that the migration of Muʻāwiya and his Banū Kinda is connected to the campaign in the north-east of Arabia which Abraha, the Ethiopian ruler of Yemen, made in approximately 553–554. That campaign is known after Abraha’s inscription at Murayghān known as Murayghān 37. I presented the results of my examination of the text of the inscription in my History of the Lakhmid state [Mishin, 2017, p. 197–199]; here it is important to state that Abraha, quoting the CSAI translation, took possession of all the Arabs of Hadjar (Hgrm) and al-Khaṭṭ (Khṭ). Regrettably, the inscription provides no information as to the course of the campaign, yet it appears plausible that the troops of Abraha or his Arabic vassals were able to advance as far as Hadjar. Among such vassals Kindite rulers are sometimes found. In Abraha’s incription at Mārib (CIH 541) one reads about Yazīd Ibn Kabsha (Yzd Ibn Kbsht) whom the Ethiopian ruler appointed his governor over Banū Kinda8. In the inscription Ry 506 Murayghān 1, also belonging to Abraha, a reference is made to Abū al-Djabr (ʼbgbr) who commanded a Kindite detachment during the campaign in Central Arabia in 552. Muʻāwiya Ibn al-Ḥārith might well be given, and play, a similar role. There is, it is true, no direct evidence of Muʻāwiya’s involvement in any of Abraha’s campaigns. Yet the above hypothesis has the advantage of explaining both Muʻawiya’s behaviour, which otherwise would seem difficult to understand, and the easiness with which Banū Kinda got hold of al-Mushaḳḳar. It appears that Abraha attempted to create a stronghold in the north-east of Arabia as a constant threat to the Lakhmids and Sasanids, and with that aim used Banū Kinda’s help and left them in Hadjar.

7. My observations as to South Arabian inscriptions are essentially based upon re-constructions of the texts and translations in the CSAI (Corpus of South Arabian Inscriptions) database at This database presents a useful synthesis of long-time research work on those inscriptions. Unless otherwise stated, all references to South-Arabian inscriptions are to CSAI.

8. Due to lack of evidence, there is no compelling reason to identify this Yazīd Ibn Kabsha with ʻAmr and Ḥassān mentioned above.
22 Banū Kinda disappear from Hadjar as dramatically as they arrive there. Their departure from Hadjar is known after two references supplied by al-Hamdānī, a 10th century geographer and historian. On one occasion he states that Banū Kinda who had left al-Ghamr after the death of Ibn al-Djawn in the battle of Djabala arrived to Hadramawt [al-Hamdānī, 166]. At a later stage he observes that following the death of Ibn al-Djawn Banū Kinda left Baḥrayn, alMushaḳḳar and al-Ghamr and moved to Hadramawt. The number of those who thus migrated is estimated at over 30 thousand persons [al-Hamdānī, 1990, p. 171]. References to the battle of Djabala and Ibn al-Djawn’s death show that al-Hamdānī speaks of those Banū Kinda who were under the power of Muʻāwiya Ibn al-Ḥārith.
23 This evidence, however, might not be taken at face value. If the Banū Kinda left following the battle of Djabala, it is impossible to explain who were the Kindites who fought in the battle of Dhū Nadjab. Moreover, it is in the battle of Dhū Nadjab that one Kindite prince (and not two) was killed. It seems that al-Hamdanī actually refers to the battle of Dhū Nadjab which in many respects was a continuation of the battle of Djabala. In that case too, alHamdānī’s statements are open to critics. If the death of two princes in the battle of Djabala did not cause Banū Kinda to leave, it is not easy to see why the death of one prince at Dhū Nadjab had such effect. It appears that other causes stand behind al-Hamdānī’s words. Losing two considerable battles, Banū Kinda were likely to have suffered losses and might doubt their ability to keep intact their dominion over the tribes which were under their power. Al-Hamdānī, it is true, gives a high estimation of the migrants’ numbers, which would imply that the Kindite king was still able to collect large armies. Yet Ibn Khaldūn appears to be correct in stating that the figures occurring in such stories are occasionally more than ten times as big as they really were [Ibn Khaldūn, 2001, 1, p. 16]. So, the Banū Kinda who migrated to Hadramawt may have been much less numerous than al-Hamdānī states. Another possibility which, due to the lack of evidence, remains purely hypothetical, is that Muʻāwiya Ibn al-Ḥārith, who appears to have ruled over decades, died. The settlement in al-Mushaḳḳar was essentially his undertaking, so that his death would have deprived it of its motive power. One may imagine that Muʻāwiya’s descendants were not attached to Hadjar as much as he was and felt free to leave it.

The exact date of Banū Kinda’s departure from Hadjar is unknown. In the earliest surviving stories of poet Ṭarafa Ibn al-ʻAbd put to death at the order of ʻAmr III, by al-Mufaḍḍal Ibn Muḥammad al-Ḍabbī (d. in 780-es), Abū Zayd al-Ḳurashī (d. 786/787), and Ibn al-Sikkīt (b. ca. 802, d. 858), it is stated that the Lakhmid king had a governor over Hadjar and the region of Baḥrayn. Ibn al-Sikkīt narrates that Ṭarafa arrived in Hadjar to that governor and was put to death and buried there [ʻAbd al-Ḳādir al-Baghdādī, 1997, p. 421–423; Abū Zayd alḲurashī, 1963, p. 74–75; al-Mufaḍḍal Ibn Muḥammad al-Ḍabbī, 1983, p. 176; Ṭarafa Ibn alʻAbd, 2000, p. 111–112; cf.: Abū al-Faradj al-Iṣfahānī, 1905, 21, p. 125, 132]9. As the governor is not identified with the Kindite king, it may be inferred that by then Banū Kinda had already left.

9. Ibn al-Sikkīt’s account is only known after quotations with later writers, ʻAbd al-Ḳādir al-Baghdādī (1620/1621– 1682) and, probably, al-Aʻlam al-Shantamarī (1019/1020–1083/1084). I examined stories of Ṭarafa’s death in my ‘History of the Lakhmid State’ [Mishin, 2017, p. 205–209], where references to other sources are provided as well.
25 This observation opens a bunch of problems. It would be natural to suppose that ʻAmr III, who appears to have restored the Sasanids’ power over the region of Baḥrayn [Mishin, 2017, p. 212], drove the ancient foes from Hadjar. But it cannot be taken for granted that in the times of ʻAmr III the Banū Kinda of Hadjar were actually his foes. The relationship of Muʻāwiya Ibn al-Ḥārith with the Lakhmids and Sasanids remains extremely unclear. The only available evidence consists in two brief comments on a poem which poet al-Ḥārith Ibn Ḥilliza recited in the presence of ʻAmr III. According to them, at a certain stage Banū Kinda seized some tribute collected for the king10. The latter sent troops against them. Then events are presented differently: in one version the king’s warriors killed the Banū Kinda [al-Naḥḥās, 1973, p. 574; al-Tibrīzī, 1977, p. 394], whereas in another one the troops consisted of Arabs from the Banū Taghlib tribal confederation who were defeated and suffered heavy losses [Abū al-Faradj al-Iṣfahānī, 190, 9, p. 172]. But even in this case the king’s campaign was not necessarily aimed at the ruler of Hadjar and his subjects.
10. Judging by the context, the king in question must be a Lakhmid ruler.

It appears certain that under ʻAmr III Hadjar became under the Lakhmids’ power, but alHamdānī does not necessarily refers to that. In his account, Banū Kinda’s departure from alMushaḳḳar and the region of Baḥrayn is not caused by any act of ʻAmr III. Ṭarafa’s story is problematic as well. Ṭarafa was put to death before he reached the age of 26 years11, and by then he had participated in the struggle for power, fighting against ʻAmr III at the side of another Lakhmid prince of the same name [Abū Bakr al-Anbārī, 1993, p. 121; al-Baṭalyawsī, 2008, p. 518]. That struggle probably took place in the beginning of ʻAmr III’s rule. By then Ṭarafa must have lived a considerable part of his short life. As a matter of fact, the less time we allow for the remainder of Ṭarafa’s life following that power struggle, the more plausible is the re-construction of the events. Now, if it is supposed that Banū Kinda left Hadjar for good before the Lakhmid governor was established there and put Ṭarafa to death, the battles of Djabala and Dhū Nadjab must have occurred before that time too. It is to be recalled that in both battles Banū Tamīm were commanded by Laḳīṭ Ibn Zurāra. It has been observed above that during a certain time of ʻAmr III’s government the ruler of the Banū Tamīm was not Laḳīṭ but Zurāra, his father. Subsequent events spread over some time: Zurāra died, Laḳīṭ became ruler of the Banū Tamīm and gathered a coalition, and then one year passed between the two battles. It would be rather hazardous to claim that all those events could be placed within a short timeslot between ʻAmr III’s ascension to power and Ṭarafa’s death. But if both battles took place at any time after Ṭarafa was put to death, it is to be concluded that Banū Kinda lost Hadjar for a time, but then recovered it. This hypothesis has the advantage of agreeing with the accounts on the battle of Djabala in which it is placed in the time of Lakhmid king al-Nuʻmān III (579–601). If those accounts are to be trusted, it could be concluded that, in all likelihood, ʻAmr III, known as a strong and cruel man, held Hadjar till the end of his life, but under his weaker successors Ḳābūs (569–573) and al-Mundhir IV (574–578) Muʻāwiya Ibn al-Ḥārith recovered the capital of Banū Kinda.

11. The most trustworthy source as to the date of Ṭarafa’s death appears to be a verse by Khirniḳ, his sister, in which she says, deploring her brother, that twenty-five full years of his life were counted [al-Khirniḳ, 1990, p. 32]. Other estimations of the duration of Ṭarafa’s lifetime vary from incomplete twenty to twenty-six years, but Khirniḳ, as a close relative of the poet, must have known better
27 It may appear simpler and more suitable to believe that Banū Kinda only occupied Hadjar once, at some time after ʻAmr III’s death (569). Indeed, in this case it would be unnecessary to make a complicated picture of Banū Kinda’s wanderings to and from Hadjar. Yet it must then be explained why Banū Kinda made an expedition through much of Arabia, without help from Ethiopian rulers of Yemen and at a risk of facing Sasanid armies which would have fought to defend such an important strategic place. So long as no plausible answer to this question is suggested, the idea that Banū Kinda first arrived to Hadjar as vassals of Abraha and then recovered their capital would prevail.
28 The certain chronological landmark is the very beginning of the 7th century, when alMushaḳḳar was residence of a Sasanid governor. The latter, at a certain stage, invited Banū Tamīm to his fortress and then slaughtered most of them and took the rest prisoners. According to an account quoted by Abū al-Faradj al-Iṣfahānī, the slaughter took place before the famous battle of Dhū Ḳār [Abū al-Faradj al-Iṣfahānī, 1905, 20, p. 135]. I hope to publish soon an article presenting reasons in favour of the summer of 602 as the most plausible date. However, Banū Kinda must have left earlier, for Hadjar was re-built under Sasanid control before it became the governor’s residence, and the construction works certainly took some time. Besides, there is a poem composed, according to some historical commentary, by Ṭarafa shortly before his death. The poem expresses anticipation of death and contains a call upon the inhabitants of al-Mushaḳḳar and al-Ṣafā to begin war against al-Nuʻmān III [Ṭarafa Ibn al-ʻAbd, 2000, p. 166, 168]. At least the fragment in question is clearly apocryphal, for Ṭarafa was put to death years before the beginning of al-Nuʻmān III’s rule. Yet it is noteworthy that the inhabitants of alMushaḳḳar and al-Ṣafā are called “sons of our paternal uncle”. Ṭarafa belonged to the tribal confederation of Banū Bakr Ibn Wāʼil. The poet who actually spoke in his name obviously refers to the tribe of Banū ʻAbd al-Ḳays for the latter dwelt in the region of Baḥrayn and had an ancestor who was brother of an ancestor of Banū Bakr. So, for the author of the verse, whoever he was, in al-Nuʻmān III’s time Hadjar was populated by Banū ʻAbd al-Ḳays, not by Banū Kinda.
29 It is to be recognized that the picture of Banū Kinda’s stay in Hadjar is far from being complete. Information yielded by the sources is scanty and fragmentary, so that there is no option left except for conjectures. Yet we have ahead of us excavations in Hadjar and search for new written accounts. Hopefully, on the basis of that the history of Banū Kinda in al-Mushaḳḳar will be re-constructed better than it is done here.


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