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Muhammad and the Umayyad Conversion to Islam

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Abstract

A.J. Deus’s paper investigates the historicity of Prophet Muhammad and the Koran as well as the Prophet’s possible relationship with the Umayyads. By limiting the evidence to pre-692 documents and artifacts, Deus brings forth a hypothesis that Prophet Muhammad did not appear in the primary evidence until after 631 AD. He is connected to a sermon based on Mosaic Law that cannot be identified in the Koran. His first and isolated sign of having passed away appears in 691 AD in Egypt. He may indeed have still been alive in the 650s, if not in the 680s, and no evidence exists of a prophet Muhammad that died in 632 AD. In that timeframe, a shift from a MHMT institution to an individual MHMD can be observed, and the two could be distinct. There seems to have been a progression from Elijah bar Kabsha, the chief of the Tayyi’ MHMT, to Muhammad being the spiritual leader of the Mhaggraye, and later to the Tayyi’ Mhaggraye, through the MHMD Mahdi, and finally to Islam. Nevertheless, in the 680s, the ‘adversaries’ of the Byzantine Orthodox Church were viewed as a like-Arian form of Judaic thought that reintroduced Jewish Messiahnism from an expanding territory of the Tayyi’. The Byzantines neither recognized Muhammad nor Islam. The earlier Saracen and Ishmaelite incursions must have been unaware of Islam and the Koran. It appears that the Jews from Edessa carried the seed (Sebeos), and the Tayyi’ represent the sprout of what eventually evolved into Muhammadeans. Their goal seems to have been to occupy Jerusalem, as was of other groups, certainly also in the first wave of attacks. However, the temple building activities in Jerusalem were attributed first to Saracens from the Caspian Sea in the Caucasus region, or in Sebeos to Jews who were driven away by the Ishmaelites. The next temple that went up was in Fusted under Amr, but from Mecca there was no sign of activity. The traditional narratives might contain several parallel “histories” and perhaps more than one Muhammad or a chain of Muhammads. The primary evidence also suggests, according to Deus, that the Muslim timescale may be connected to Heraclius’s advances and later alliance with three Persian rebel factions, establishing a growing confederation in competition with the Persian Empire. Deus makes a case that primary evidence should not be incorporated into traditions since the latter may have been inserted into real history with an agenda. In order to avoid circular arguments, contemporary primary evidence must take precedence, and tradition can only help to support it or clarify certain aspects.
MUHAMMAD AND
THE UMAYYAD DYNASTY’S
CONVERSION TO ISLAM
Putting Muslim Traditions into the Historical Context
A. J. Deus
Copyright: author A.J. Deus, April 15, 2015.
Contact for feedback, corrections, and suggestions: amod.jason.deus@ajdeus.org
Copyright 2015: A.J. Deus ─ Muhammad and the Umayyad Dynasty’s Conversion to Islam Page | 2
I
NTRODUCTION
A.J. Deus’s exploration into the Umayyad’s conversion to Islam in an earlier paper came to the
conclusion that this dynasty had been opponents of an emerging Muslim faith until a few years before
the breakthrough of Islam in the late 680s AD. This paper focuses on a modest scope to investigate
the historicity of the Prophet Muhammad and his possible relationship with the Umayyads. Given the
centrality of the prophet, it is astonishing how little primary evidence attests to him. Some researchers
conclude that he lived a few years longer and that he led the early Arab invasions.
1
Even though carbon
dating of parchments of the Koran from Sana’a and the fragments from the library at the University
of Tübingen
2
seem to have closed the discussion about Muhammad’s historicity, Deus remains
unsatisfied that it explains the order of events or the actors involved. After all, when scribes intended
to present works as older than they really were, they were smart enough to use old parchment. This
possibility led to experimenting with alternative ways of reading the primary evidence and to explore
whether the prophet’s life and death could somehow be retraced with what is extant. While the Koran
seems inseparably linked to the prophet, no evidence exists until the Tübingen fragments and a few
verses in the Dome of the Rock that are believed to originate from the last decade of the seventh
century. In the paper about the Ummayyad’s conversion, it was demonstrated that these Mosaics had
never been mentioned, not even by Benjamin of Tudela in the twelfth century. The latter confused
the builder with Omar (Umar), which is unlikely if there were an inscription. In the twelfth century,
the building would be known in the West as the Tower of David.
Other than the aforementioned carbon dated Tübingen parchments from 649-675 AD, the Koran
finally shows up in the primary evidence seventy years after the emergence of Muhammad’s The Way
of Truth, possibly with Hnanisho’ the Exegete
3
who made a statement about “a new folly” around 700
AD, followed by Jacob of Edessa around 705 AD who confirmed the emergence of Muslim prayers
that were oriented toward the Kaaba in Mecca from the sura The Cow,
4
succeeded by the text of John
of Damascus.
5
While the first Kufic fragments and the appearance in the primary evidence are likely
contemporaries, it remains unclear whether the Koran had been completed at that time or whether it
may have had been divided into several works. However, Al-Kindi expressed himself clearly in the
ninth century that the Koran had been pieced together of different histories by a number of authors.
1
Crone and Cook, Spuler, Shoemaker
2
The fragments of Tübingen were radiocarbon dated by the Institut für Ionenstrahlforschung der ETH Zürich for the Project Coranica to 649-675
with a probability of 95,4% (University of Tübingen, December 14, 2014):
Ma VI 152 - Kufisches Koranfragment, enthaltend Sure 19,59-20,24 ([o. O.], [not dated])
Ma VI 154 - Kufisches Koranfragment, enthaltend Sure 27,56-29,32 ([o. O.], [not dated])
Ma VI 165 - Kufisches Koranfragment, enthaltend Sure 17,37-36,57 ([o. O.], [649-675])
3
Hnanisho’ the Exegete, seventh century catholic (universal) priest in Iraq, commentary (ca. 700 AD): […] And if he were [only] a prophet, as idly
says some new folly [ayk da-mpaqqa leluta hdatta], [like those who said]: “this is Jesus the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee,” when and to which
of the prophets did the people cry out Hosannah, both as adults, and as children whose reason is not yet mature?
4
Jacob of Edessa (640-708 AD), Letter to John the Stylite (ca. 705 AD) no. 14, fol. 124a, summarized by Wright, Catalogue, 2.604, and translated
by Crone and Cook, Hagarism, 173 n. 30: Your question is vain […] for it is not to the south that the Jews pray, nor either do the Muslims
(mhaggraye/Muhammadeans). The Jews who live in Egypt, and also the Muslims there, as I saw with my own eyes and will now set out for you,
prayed to the east, and still do, both peoples—the Jews toward Jerusalem and the Muslims toward the Ka’ba. And those Jews who are to the south
of Jerusalem pray to the north; and those in the land of Babel, in Hira and in Basra, pray to the west. And also the Muslims who are there pray to
the west, toward the Ka’ba; and those who are to the south of the Ka’ba pray to the north, toward that place. So from all this that has been said, it
is clear that it is not to the south that the Jews and Muslims here in the regions of Syria pray, but toward Jerusalem or the Ka’ba, the patriarchal
places of their races.
5
John of Damascus confirms the suras The Cow (2), Women (4), The Table (5), and The Battlements (7).
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He regarded this as common knowledge at the time. Centuries later, Khaldun would come to single
out the Umayyads and the Abbasids for whom, he alleges, the traditions had been created, but not for
the Shi’ites or Karijites. With the scant primary evidence and the nearly insurmountable scholarly
prerequisites, an attempt to slice it apart is not only extremely difficult but also prone to ridicule.
Nevertheless, there is a consensus about the historicity of Muhammad and the Koran, and it is
widely taught in this context. However, if said context is built on traditions, then the chronology of
the Koran can perhaps not break free, and the respective investigations will remain circular.
In reviewing the research, some scholars tend to take the primary documents as evidence for the
confirmation of the spiritual leader according to traditions (the hadiths), and they use them liberally;
in contrast, more critical scholars dismiss most based on dubious document histories or/and perceived
non-chronologies. In light of the absence of reliable sources about the seventh century, the second
group did not come up with a convincing explanation what these flaws in the chronologies would
have to be measured with. Are these compared with traditions and collective memories rather than
with other contemporary primary evidence? Or are they elevating secondary documents, like The
Apocalypse of Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai from a century later, for example, to primary status?
The result of exploring these simple questions is a leader by the name of Muhammad that is
connected to a sermon based on Mosaic Law. He does not occur in the primary evidence until after
631 AD at the height of a career that certainly has a pretext before this date. He may still be alive in
the 650s, if not in the 680s. His first sign of death appears in 691 AD in Egypt. In addition, even in
the primary evidence, there might be several parallel “histories” and perhaps multiple Muhammads.
It is not only important for Muslims to understand the prophet and his place in the seventh century.
Boldly speaking, Muhammad is attributed to having triggered such radical changes that he constitutes
the culmination point of history from centuries before, and he forms also the starting gate for what
comes centuries thereafter across the Old World. For the primary evidence, the pivotal point is 692
AD since this constitutes the generally accepted break-through of Islam as state religion. Any evidence
beyond this point that reflects back on the seventh century should thus be regarded as likely tainted
by the evolution of “traditions” (the hadith collection) or under the impression of leading families’
alignment with the ruling religion. This process brought forth wildly differing scenarios. For example,
Stephen of Alexandria would write in the late eighth century that Muhammad had appeared in Mecca
around 571 AD.
6
In other words, tradition did not find its final footing well into Abbasid rule from
over a century later. Thus, primary evidence from before 692 AD should take precedence.
Deus hopes that solving the mysteries of the history in the seventh century could contribute to the
knowledge about the role of social economics of religion in mass poverty and also to help averting
another Holocaust. With anti-Semitism, religious zealotry, and Islamophobia on the rise, it is urgent
that science steps in to replace superstitions with real data. It may help to stop the killings.
6
Stephen of Alexandria, Horoscope, 21 (775-785) in Hoyland, p. 304: In the desert of Ethrib there had appeared a certain man from the so-called
tribe of Quraysh (Korasianou), of the genealogy of Ishmael, whose name was Muhammad and who said he was a prophet. He appeared in the
month of Pharmuti, which is called April by the Romans, of the 932nd year (from the beginning of Philip [571 AD?]). He has brought a new
expression and a strange teaching, promising to those who accept him victories in wars, domination over enemies and delights in paradise.
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R
EASSESSING THE PRIMARY EVIDENCE
Xosrov, the Ghassanids, and Kabsha
In the 560s, Xosrov I had invaded Syria and cut the Ghassanids off from their Byzantine ally. The
Melkite Ghassanids fiercely rejected the creed of the Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon from
451 AD where Jesus was declared both man and god.
7
Although Michael the Syrian is too late to be used
as primary evidence, the Melkites may have also been upset that Mary had been made Mother of God,
thus forming a ‘quartet’ of divinities. The Tayyi’ tribal alliance had settled between the Ghassanids and
the Nestorian Lakhmids (vassals of Persia) in the north-central area of the Arab Peninsula. Around
about 575 AD, the Ghassanid King Mundhir III
8
was fighting against the new Lakhmid King Qabus,
who had held the eastern part of the Arab Peninsula,
9
and the Lakhmids were overwhelmed.
7
Michael the Syrian (ca. 1190s AD) 310-11, from Robert G. Hoyland, Arabia and the Arabs, From the Bronze Age to the coming of Islam (Routledge, 2002)
150: Harith ibn Jabala, [father of Al-Mundhir] king of the Christian Arabs, and his company were much offended by the synod and would not
even break bread with the Chalcedonians. Ephraim, patriarch of Antioch [d. 545], was sent to them before his death by the emperor. He said to
Harith: “Why are you offended concerning us and the church?” Harith replied: “We are not offended by the church of God, but by the evil which
you have done to the faith. We distance ourselves from you because you introduce a quartet [saying Christ is both god and man and Mary being
the Godmother] in place of the Trinity and oblige men to deny the true faith.”
8
Al-Mundhir ibn al-ārith, Flavios Alamoundaros was king of the Ghassanid Arabs 569 to ca. 581 AD.
9
John of Ephesus, 6.3, ca. 580 AD, from Robert G. Hoyland, Arabia and the Arabs, From the Bronze Age to the coming of Islam (Routledge, 2002) 82-83.
Map
1: Byzantine and Persian empires ca. 600 AD with esti
mated Persian and Parthian dynastic territories; Persian vassal
kingdoms, Lakhmids, and Ghassanids, Lombards
Copyright 2015: A.J. Deus ─ Muhammad and the Umayyad Dynasty’s Conversion to Islam Page | 5
In 590/591 Bahram Chobin of the Parthian House of Mihran (Mithraic spahbeds of the north)
10
usurped the Persian throne briefly, prompting the flight of Xosrov II to Constantinople. After the
latter had regained control with the help of the Byzantines, Vistahm of the Parthian Ispahbudhan
Dynasty (spahbeds of the west)
11
also rebelled and took the throne around 595 – 600 AD.
The disruptive changes to the Seven Parthian Clans and these rebellions are not subject of this
paper, but they are indicators for an internal rift among the oligarchical clans that foreshadow the
Persian Empire’s disintegration. The internal core issue was an age-old enmity among the Parthians
in the north and east (the Pahlav) and the Persians in the south and west (the Parsig). It is doubtful
that Xosrov II had been able to iron out the differences within the Sasanian-Parthian confederacy, at
this time consisting of four main dynasties, the House of Mihran (north), the House of Ispahbudhan
(west), the House of Karin (east), and the House of Suren (south).
12
These dynastic groups are not
only pivotal in the empire’s greatest successes but also in its fall. Some of them would continue to
exert their power deep into the Islamic period, and they cannot be counted out in the formation of
the Islamic caliphates. It is symptomatic for the dynastic sectarianism that the Persian capital Seleucia-
Ctesiphon was engulfed in conflicts between Manicheans, Nestorians, followers of Byzantine
Orthodoxy, Mithraism, and also (reformed) Zoroastrianism at the beginning of the seventh century.
On the other hand, Xosrov was indebted to Emperor Maurice
13
and to the Armenian Smbat of the
House of Bagratuni (of Parthian descent) who had helped reinstate the former to the throne, likely at
the price of allowing Orthodox ideas to subvert the churches in Persia, which would have eroded the
spiritual chasm that had existed for centuries between the empires. Naturally, Smbat Bagratuni was
highly honored and given control of the realms that had been held by the Mihran and the Ispahbudhan
dynasties.
14
The friendly inter-imperial relationship fundamentally changed with the rise to power of Phocas
and Heraclius. Emperor Maurice’s son
15
should have become Persia’s favored ruler in Constantinople,
but Phocas had his family murdered in 602 AD. This, as well as the Parthian resistance against the
territorial changes, would have provided Xosrov with a motive for attempting a reversal of the spiritual
infiltration into the Church of the East, which was led by Patriarch Gregory from 604 AD.
16
Thus,
10
Parvaneh Pourshariati, Decline and Fall of the Sasanian Empire (Tauris, 2008) 115-116.
11
Ibid.
12
The position of these dynasties and their territorial locations are confirmed with the spahbed seals in the Gyselen collection. In addition, Rustam
of the Ispahbudhan Dynasty were part of Xosrov’s battle formations. Another seal identifies Bahram as the spahbed of the south. Although he is
suspected to be a Parsig, a Sasanian, the seals do not give away his family.
13
Flavius Mauricius Tiberius Augustus alias Maurice was Byzantine Emperor 582-602.
14
Parvaneh Pourshariati, Decline and Fall of the Sasanian Empire (Tauris, 2008) 138: […] for a total period of almost a decade, therefore, a
substantial part of Khurasan was put under the command of the Armenian dynastic figure Smbat Bagratuni. […] This then is indicative of the
predicament in which the Sasanian monarchy had found itself after it was confronted with the rebellions of one Parthian dynastic family after
another in the northern and eastern parts of its realm: for a not insignificant period, under what seems to have been extraordinary circumstances,
the Sasanian king was forced to exert his power in Khurasan through the agency of neighboring Armenian nobility!
15
Theodosius 583/585 – 602 was raised to rule the East from Constantinople and his younger brother Tiberius to lead the West from Rome.
16
William Ainger Wigram, An Introduction to the History of the Assyrian Church (Gorgias, 2004) 249 and 247: [...] this Gregory [Patriarch of the Church
of the East 604-608 AD] was not the King’s nominee, he was the Queen’s. Ultimately Xosrov accepted the fait accompli, but with a very bad
grace. “Patriarch he is and patriarch he shall be - but never again do I allow another election.” Gregory himself was heavily fined; and all
Christians suffered — as men do in oriental lands — from the feeling that got abroad that they were somehow “under the wrath of the
Government.”
Copyright 2015: A.J. Deus ─ Muhammad and the Umayyad Dynasty’s Conversion to Islam Page | 6
Xosrov denied the church leader’s replacement for two decades.
17
Xosrov’s Orthodox Christian wife
and his court doctor, Gabriel of Singar, a devoted convert from Zoroastrianism to Melkite Christianity,
seem to have been a strong influence, bringing the religious conflicts right into the royal palace. The
reasons for the royal-religious meddling are not obvious, though, and merit further investigation.
Xosrov also had problems with his southern allies. He might have thought to secure control by
killing off their king and the royal heir sometime before 609 AD, King Mundhir
18
and Al-Nuʿmān.
19
Confusingly, there were two Mundhirs, one king of the Ghassanids and the other of the Lakhmids.
Both had a son by the name of Nu’man. With this unlikely parallel, the Ghassanid control over the
Lakhmids must have lasted longer than is commonly accepted, but it would fit into the pattern of a
strategic reversal if Xosrov had terminated the Ghassanid leaders. Whichever king had been killed, the
matter at hand is that both Arab dynasties had been degraded, and they would have reason for settling
the scores. The new vassal king, Elijah bar Kabsha,
20
would thus have promised to get the Lakhmids
back into a pact against Byzantine Orthodox advances and certainly later against Heraclius.
The royal swap indicates a submission of the Lakhmids to the Tayyi’ since their new king was chief
of the Tayyi’. The Ghassanids (or parts thereof) may now have also fallen under Kabsha’s lead, creating
a master over a huge landmass that stretched from al-Hira to the Red Sea. If that is so, that would
have elevated the Kabsha family over and above both previous tribal alliances combined. It would
also have put a trained army into the hands of the Kabshas.
During the 610s, Xosrov’s advances through Syria and Anatolia to the gates of Constantinople led
to a near collapse of the Byzantine Empire. Also, almost the entire coast line around the Arab
Peninsula either submitted to Xosrov or became vassal kingdoms, surely prompting questions about
who might be suitable for controlling the newly acquired areas. Despite the tremendous successes,
Kabsha in al-Hira was replaced by the Persian governor, (the Mihran
21
) Azadbeh in 617/618, indicating
that the Tayyi’ alliance may then have been terminated. Azadbeh was in office until 633 AD, until
shortly after Yazdegerd took the throne.
Kabsha – being one of the many names of Muhammad – rose in the same year as the prophet of
the traditions,
22
and the end of both is unaccounted for in the historical record. Without attempting to
turn Kabsha (Qabisah) and Muhammad into one, the latter’s absenteeism is unfathomable, unless he
ended in disgrace. On the other hand, the prophetic revelations started in 610 AD, according to
tradition, the same year of Heraclius’s capture of the throne in Constantinople. The traditional date
of the prophet’s flight to Medina, 622 AD, is not only the beginning of the new Muslim time-scale
17
Wigram, 251: [...] Gabriel used all his influence with the King against the granting of the permission to elect the patriarch and used it successfully.
The vacancy thus caused lasted for twenty years (608 the rise of Heraclius -628), until, in fact, the death of Xosrov II.
18
Chron. Siirt 13.539-40, ca. ninth century, from Robert G. Hoyland, Arabia and the Arabs, From the Bronze Age to the coming of Islam (Routledge, 2002)
30: When Xosrov II deceitfully poisoned Nu’man ibn Mundhir [582 - ca. 609 AD], king of the Arabs, and his son, the Arabs in the empires of the
Persians and Romans broke off allegiance and dispersed, each acting according to their own whim.
19
Al-Nu
ʿ
mān ibn al-Mundhir, Naamanes.
20
Eyas ibn Qabisah al-Ta’i (or lyas ibn Qabisa, chief of Tayyi’) ruled the Lakhmids 602-611 AD together with the Persian governor Nakirjan
followed by governor Azadbeh 611-633 AD.
21
According to Tabari, Azadbeh’s son ibn al-Azadbeh would come to be a commander of the Mihran-i Hamadani army (Pourshariati, p. 219).
22
A biological relationship between Kabsha (Qabisah) and Muhammad could have been later reinterpreted as an adoption:
Safi ur Rahman Al Mubarakpuri, The Sealed Nectar: Biography of the Noble Prophet (Darussalam, 2002) 72: The Prophet was later entrusted to Halimah
bint Abi Dhuaib from Bani Sa’d bin Bakr. Her husband was Al-Harith bin Abdul-Uzza called Abi Kabshah, from the same tribe.
Copyright 2015: A.J. Deus ─ Muhammad and the Umayyad Dynasty’s Conversion to Islam Page | 7
but also the one that would be found on coins minted under Heraclius in Damascus. The Byzantine
Emperor’s siege of Ctesiphon (al-Mada’in) synchronizes with the Battle of the Trench, which is the
siege of Medina in 627 AD. The peace between Persia and Constantinople falls to 628 AD, together
with Xosrov’s death and also with the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah of the traditions (between Mecca and
Medina). Whether these are coincidences is not further explored here. However, in the absence of
Muhammad in the historical record and in light of the claim that multiple histories had been jumbled
into one, this avenue awaits closer examination. The insertion of religious fiction into a real historic
sequence is a classic technique that can be observed time and again in religious as well as dynastic
contexts.
In addition, the Biblical Elijah –here Kobsha – as a precursor to the second Christ
23
bears such
weight that it cannot easily be swept aside. This prophet makes up for the prototype of the basic story
of Muhammad’s revelations from a cave.
24
Elijah’s Ramadan was already well established with the
Arabs of the sixth century.
25
Hence, Kabsha could have served well as the starting point for a religious
fiction.
Coins during Xosrov II (622 AD), Heraclius (639 AD), and Yazdegerd
After Xosrov had invaded Egypt
at around 619 AD (i.e. post Kabsha
and having to pass by the
Ghassanids), he supported Arian and
Semi-Arian Christianity in the region
until it was wrested back by the
Greeks in 629 AD. The 610s mark the
greatest expansion of Xosrov’s
advances against the Byzantine
Empire, but it remains unclear
whether the Tayyi’ and the remnants
of the former Lakhmid territories
adjacent to the Tayyi’ had been
integrated into the Persian domain at
this time.
23
Malachi 4:1-6: Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of Yahweh comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers
to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.
24
1 Kings 19.1.
Kings 19:8-19:9: Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went
into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
1 Kings 19:13: When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him,
“What are you doing here, Elijah?”
25
Ahudemmeh (ca. 570s AD) 21, 26-28, from Robert G. Hoyland, Arabia and the Arabs, From the Bronze Age to the coming of Islam (Routledge, 2002)
149: Thus he inclined the hearts of the Arabs to the love of God and particularly to giving to the needy […]. Their alms extended to all men and
all places, but especially to the holy monasteries […] Nor do they confine their piety to making gifts to churches, monks, poor, and strangers, but
they love fasting and ascetic life more than any other Christians, to such an extent that they begin the forty-days fast a week earlier than others.
Many of them eat no bread during the whole time of the fast, not only the men but also many women.
Map
2: Greatest extent of Sasanian Empire under Xosrov II, Byz
antine Empire,
Lombards, Tayyi',
ca. 620 AD
Copyright 2015: A.J. Deus ─ Muhammad and the Umayyad Dynasty’s Conversion to Islam Page | 8
Xosrov minted coins in Egypt in 622 AD with
his image as a Christian ruler in support of Egyptian
Christianity.
26
Sasanian coins would typically show
the Zoroastrian Fire Temple flanked by two
attendants. The obvers of a coin dated 622/623 AD
shows Emperor Xosrov, presenting himself as a
mighty warrior with a large sword,
27
typical of
Sasanian rule. However, this stamp is void of the temple pictograms.
The coins from Egypt and the changes with the Ghassanids, Lakhmids, and Tayyi’ indicate that
Xosrov may have attempted to arouse hatred by like Arian Christians against Phocas and Heraclius.
One may wonder how the Zoroastrian,
Manichean, and Mithraic (from Armenia to
Khorasan) aristocracies would have received
Xosrov’s changes. Did they not resist in one way or
another? Indeed, one of the four generals,
Shahrvaraz
28
of the Mihran Dynasty and spahbed of
the south
29
(the former territory of the Suren
Dynasty), Rustam, together with his brother
Farrukh Hormizd of the House of Ispahbudhan,
and Kanadbak (a branch of Ispahbudhan)
30
de facto
walked out of the Sasanian-Parthian confederation
to enter an alliance with the Byzantine Heraclius
around 626/627,
31
possibly after the failed Avar-
Sasanian operation at the Siege of Constantinople
in 626 AD. The deserters thus triggered the sudden
losses of the Sasanian Empire.
32
The Karens, the
Mihrans, and the Ispahbudhan had before been
26
Cécile Morrisson, Catalogue des monnaies byzantines de la Bibliothèque nationale (Paris, 1970) 294: Buste de f. de Chosroes portant le stemma et
la cuirasse./IB Au centre, croix potencée au-dessus d’un globe.
27
Sasanian Kings. Husrav (Khosrau) II AV Dinar. Uncertain mint, Dated RY 33 (AD 622/623). Facing bust, wearing mural crown with frontal
crescent and surmounted by pellet-in-crescent; crescents and fillets over shoulders, crown flanked by stars / Husrav standing facing, crown and
symbols as on obverse, holding sword; 'syčsyh' to lower left. Cf. K. Mosig-Walburg. 'Sonderprägungen des Xusrō II vom Typ Göbl V/6 und
VI/7,' Iranica Antiqua XXVIII (1993), 2-7; Göbl type VI/7; Paruck 460; Saeedi -; Sunrise 989. Cf. Classical numismatic Group Triton XIV (2011).
Coinarchives.com.
28
According to Pourshariati, Shahrvaraz links to the wild boar, a symbol of the fifth incarnation of Mithra. However, the Parthian Manicheans also
incorporated Mithra as the Third Messenger in their beliefs, eclipsing the Pahlavi God Nirasaf in the same role.
29
Gyselen 2001a, seal 2d/2, p. 41, in Parvaneh Pourshariati, Decline and Fall of the Sasanian Empire (Tauris, 2008) 142: It is remarkable that
according to Gyselen, the gentilitial name of Mihran is clearly added to the seal at a later date for we do possess one bulla (impression) “which was
made by the seal under its first form (seal 2d/1) and several made by the same seal under its second form (seal 2d/2), where the word -mtr’n-
(Mihran) has been added to the end of the inscription on a third line, just below the word spahbed, which addition might in fact be a sign of the
growing independence of Shahrvaraz.” Gyselen 2001 a, p. 11.
30
Parvaneh Pourshariati, Decline and Fall of the Sasanian Empire (Tauris, 2008) 269.
31
Ibid. 142: What is clear from the complicated course of events is that Shahrvaraz rebelled and mutinied, probably late in 626 or early in 627, and
formed an alliance with the Byzantine emperor Heraclius.
32
Parvaneh Pourshariati, Decline and Fall of the Sasanian Empire (Tauris, 2008) 102.
Map
3:
Heartlands of the Persian Dynasties after the
reorganization under Xosrov II
Copyright 2015: A.J. Deus ─ Muhammad and the Umayyad Dynasty’s Conversion to Islam Page | 9
pushed from their territories by the Armenian-Parthian Smbat Bagratuni who had earlier helped
Xosrov to regain the throne.
Due to these tribal divisions, Xosrov’s forces broke into three independent armies under
Shahrvaraz (Mihran), Farrukh Hormizd (Ispahbudhan Prince of the Medes, Azerbaijan), and Nimruz
(Sistan, Persia and the East). The internal strive stood in the way from the Byzantine Empire being
assimilated by Xosrov, and the divisions would continue into Islamic times.
Xosrov’s successors, Kavadh II
33
and Ardashir
III,
34
would return to the traditional model of
Zoroastrian pictography. In an environment of
religious strive, these coins can but indicate
Zoroastrian leadership, whatever that meant at the
time. Any other interpretation would require more
than just circumstantial evidence or claims by
traditions that emerged long after the fact.
Yazdegerd’s coinage would tell a story of continued dynastic strive. In the years 632-634, all of the
extant mints are from Parsig areas: Fars of the House of Sasan, Khuzistan of the House of
Ispahbudhan, and Sistan (Sakastan) of the Suren Dynasty. With the exception of the unidentified
WYHC mints in 637-639, there have been no mints found from the Pahlav north that would indicate
support for Yazdegerd.
35
There are no further mints extant from Fars and Khuzistan as of 636 AD
until the tenth year of Yazdegerd when Sistan and Kirman mints resume for the next decade. The
cause of the gap might have been a severe outbreak of a plague.
In contrast, there is a coin with Heraclius’s emblem from 639 AD
from the Damascus mint that bears the year 17, coinciding with the
Arab era. Since this coin represents the oldest example of the Arab
time,
36
it possibly served as a reminder for Heraclius’s advances and
his successive alliance with Shahrvaraz, Rustam, and Farrukh
Hormizd. Perhaps, it related to this short lived confederacy (which
may become Arab time). Logically, but as pure speculation, AH could
then bear the meaning of Augustus Heraclius and be later reborn
under a different idea that may have been conjectured into the
Byzantine-Sasanian conflict and their prominent deserters.
According to inadmissible tradition, Muhammad’s expansion was aggressively advancing under
Xosrov’s feet. Strangely, the primary evidence is absent of any hint that the ruler was alarmed by this
prophet. The areas, including Egypt, that were supposed to start out as Muslim must have been in
Xosrov’s firm control until his death in 628 AD. However, the traditions in respect to the royal family
33
Kavadh II was King of Persia from February 628 – September 628 AD.
34
Ardashir III was King of Persia from September 628 to April 629 AD.
35
Susan Tyler-Smith, ‘Coinage in the Name of Yazdgerd III (AD 632–651) and the Arab Conquest of Iran’ (Numismatic Chronicle 160, 2000) 135–
170.
36
There is a coin that some researchers date to 16 AH. This coin is subject of this paper later on.
Copyright 2015: A.J. Deus ─ Muhammad and the Umayyad Dynasty’s Conversion to Islam Page | 10
are not at all concerned with Xosrov II. Likewise, the Muslim leader should be worried about a
backlash by the Persians. Yet, Bukhari’s earliest hadith in respect to Persia’s rulers begins with
Xosrov’s daughter in 631 AD in a remark that is so out of place that it hints at a continuance of
internal enmities among the dynasts rather than an outside ‘Arab’ threat.
37
In addition, nine traditions
repeat a prophesy about the end of the Sasanian Dynasty,
38
which would not occur until 651 AD, and
some even predict the end of the Heraclian Dynasty, which would possibly occur during the
turbulences between Muawiah and Constans II, sometime during the mid-fifties AD or at the end of
the dynasty in 711 AD. One tradition places Muhammad in context of the turbulent year 631 AD
under Xosrov IV, son of Hormizd.
39
In all other cases, Bukhari uses the term Khosrau as a balance to
the House of Ceasar, rather than a specific person.
Heraclius is described in Bukhari as head of the Christians of Sham (Damascus), and the narrations are
always put in context with Abu Sufyan ibn Harb, who died in 652 AD.
40
However, the name Heraclius
was not only attributed to himself but also to his son and to Constans II (Herakleios). A lone reference
by a sub narrator to Heraclius’s palace in Emesa (Homs) and another to an Arab independence indicates
a kernel in a history from before 637 AD. Thus, the respective traditions could lie in a broad spectrum
that could span decades, and it is surprising how little they pay attention to Heraclius the Great.
Doctrina Jacobi (just before 640 AD)
The first primary evidence of a new prophet is in the Doctrina Jacobi in the context of the Saracens
who are here understood as Saracens absent of Muslim or tribal prejudices. The latter’s origin could
rest on any biblical genealogy from those born not from Sarah. These include the Ishmaelites
(Hagarites) and Keturahns,
41
but it would be frivolous to either take a side or narrow a search to these
two without a thorough understanding of their whereabouts, in particular when they are named in the
same context or seemingly as one. To make it harder for researchers, sometime around the third
century, the authors of the Genesis Rabbah
42
decided to merge Hagar with Keturah as Abraham’s
second wife, thus creating a wider array of Hagarite descendants.
43
When the candidatus was killed by the Saracens, I was at Caesarea and I set off by boat to Sykamina.
People were saying “the candidatus has been killed,” and we Jews were overjoyed. And they were
saying that the prophet had appeared, coming with the Saracens, and that he was proclaiming the
advent of the anointed one, the Christ who was to come. I, having arrived at Sykamina, stopped by a
certain old man well-versed in scriptures, and I said to him: “What can you tell me about the prophet
37
Bukhari, ca. 864-870 AD (CMJE and the University of Southern California, 2007-2009) 5:59:709: When Allah’s Apostle was informed that the
Persians had crowned the daughter of Khosrau as their ruler, he said, “Such people as ruled by a lady will never be successful.”
38
Bukhari, for example 8:78:625: The Prophet said, “If Caesar is ruined, there will be no Caesar after him; and if Khosrau is ruined, there will be no
Khosrau, after him; and, by Him in Whose Hand my soul is, surely you will spend their treasures in Allah’s Cause.”
See also Sahih Muslim Vol. 7, 7327 75 (2918) and 7329 76.
39
Bukhari, 4:56:793: The Prophet further said. “If you should live long, the treasures of Khosrau will be opened (and taken as spoils).” I asked,
“You mean Khosrau, son of Hurmuz?”
40
Compare Bukhari, 1:1:6 and 4:52:191.
41
Sozomen had attested to the Ishmaelite background of the Lakhmids in the early fifth century as opposed to the Keturahn origin of the
Ghassanids. Sozomenus, ca. 420 AD, Ecclesiastical History, Book 6:38, Translated by Chester D. Hartranft. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers,
Second Series, Vol. 2. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1890.) Revised and edited for
New Advent by Kevin Knight.
42
Genesis Rabbah, 61.4.
43
Genesis 25:1-4: And Abraham took another wife, and her name was Keturah. And she bore him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian,
and Ishbak, and Shuah. And Jokshan begot Sheba, and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, and Letushim, and Leummim. And the
sons of Midian: Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch, and Abida, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah.
Copyright 2015: A.J. Deus ─ Muhammad and the Umayyad Dynasty’s Conversion to Islam Page | 11
who has appeared with the Saracens?” He replied, groaning deeply: “He is false, for the prophets do
not come armed with a sword. Truly they are works of anarchy being committed today and I fear
that the first Christ to come, whom the Christians worship, was the one sent by God and we instead
are preparing to receive the Antichrist. Indeed, Isaiah said that the Jews would retain a perverted and
hardened heart until all the earth should be devastated. But you go, master Abraham, and find out
about the prophet who has appeared.” So I, Abraham, inquired and heard from those who had met
him that there was no truth to be found in the so-called prophet, only the shedding of men’s blood.
He says also that he has the keys of paradise, which is incredible.
44
This document has received scholarly treatment ad nauseam. Crone and Cook, for example,
maintain that an alliance between Saracens and Jews is suggested in Jacobi.
45
Wansbourough, in
contrast, dismisses such ideas as preposterous since they were brought up by enemies.
46
Jacobi refers
to a polemic dialogue between the narrator and a Jew in North Africa who suggests that the Jew would
have been better off being a Christian. Unfortunately, the text reveals nothing about what either being
a Christian or a Jew let alone a Saracen – meant for the author. Modern research seems to turn a
blind eye to the prospect that all three terms could have significantly different meanings back then, so
much so that it might be difficult to recognize either of them easily today.
The act of killing the candidatus is generally attributed to July 634 AD. Scholars typically pick the
Byzantine commander and candidatus Sergius as the victim in the text, but that involves a chain of
assumptions that attempts to reconcile this text with inadmissible tradition.
However, there are major reservations that are removed from polemic: this first source lacks an
introduction to the central subject of the narration, indicating an expectation that the reader knows
more than he/she could. Jacobi’s passage operates on a similar approach of vagueness as the traditions.
Missing definite historic anchors, the text is left to generous interpretation, which could fit different
events at various times or locations. Likewise, the main nuisance with the text had long been pointed
out by researchers: it declines to reveal name, place, or time of the prophet. Which one is Jacobi’s
Christ; from where is he; when did he live? Before, during, and after the seventh century, many
prophets seem to have come with the Saracens from Africa, Saudi Arabia, the Syrian deserts, and
perhaps from elsewhere. Jacobi’s text establishes the appearance of a nameless prophet who came
with an undefined Saracen tribe at some unspecified date and place. He killed an anonymous
candidatus from nowhere. The latter could have been any. It would be negligent to take Muhammad
for granted when the text does not say so.
The annunciation of the Christ is a level of Jewish perception that connects to the prophesies of
the Seventy ‘Sevens‘ in the Book of Daniel,
47
which signifies the arrival of the Messiah around 625
AD, 490 years after the Third Jewish-Roman War that ended in 135 AD.
48
From this follows that the
prophet (Elijah) would be the forerunner of the Christ. The text thus proposes more than a mere
44
Hoyland, Seeing Islam as Others Saw It (Darwin, 1998) Doctrina Jacobi V.16, 209. p. 57.
45
Patricia Crone and Michael Cook (1976).
46
Wannsborough, Sectarian Milieu, 116-7: Can a vocabulary of motives be freely extrapolated from a discrete collection of literary stereotypes
composed by alien and mostly hostile observers, and thereupon employed to describe, even interpret, not merely the overt behavior but also the
intellectual and spiritual development of helpless and mostly innocent actors?
47
Daniel 9:20 – 9:27.
48
Note the proximity to 0 AH: 135 + 490 = 625 AD. The count may have started with the rise of a leader or an alliance rather than the end of the
war.
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involvement: it is distinctly Jewish. In contrast, for the Muslims, the prophet is placed before the
Mahdi, the Redeemer who should fall together with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, Isa, who will
assist the Mahdi in the fight against the Antichrist, Masih ad-Dajjal. After the rule of the Mahdi lies
Judgment Day or the Day of Resurrection. While Sunnis are still waiting for the Mahdi, he would be
born for the Shi’ites to live on as the twelfth, hidden Imam.
With a prophet that announces the Christ, the text suggests an intriguing possibility: could the
Prophet and the Apostle of God in Islam be two individuals?
49
There is also the prospect of a chain
of apostles of God as suggested by Bukhari.
50
Hence, there are alternatives in understanding Jacobi.
He could have lifted others to prophethood, the son of the Jewish Exilarch, Nehemiah ben Hushiel,
for example, who started out in alliance with Xosrov (and perhaps Elijah bar Kabsha) but was involved
in the killing of the Persian candidatus during the upheavals in Jerusalem in 614/615 AD. This scenario
could also explain the “keys to paradise” (a wink to Saint Peter or the Temple Mount whence the
high-priest hurled the keys back to God). Nehemiah fits the classic profile of a redeemer – a
khristos/messiah – or an apostle of God. It may be noted that he first had to clean the Temple Mount
from centuries old debris before starting his building project.
51
Since he failed in the mission, he would
undoubtedly have become a false messiah.
Eliezer ben Qalir wrote that the building project came to an abrupt end.
52
The flame from Jerusalem
was brutally extinguished, Jews were persecuted from Spain to Italy, Byzantium, and also in Persia.
However, it is neither readily obvious why the Jews should be ‘overjoyed’ at this death after Persia had
provided them a safe haven for centuries nor why they would now be persecuted there also. If the
Jewish joy finds its explanation in the primary evidence, then even the killing of a candidatus at the
royal court at Ctesiphon would need to be taken into consideration.
Alternatively, a false prophet
53
by the name of Musaylimah of the Banu Hanifa tribe surfaced in the
legends after Muhammad’s traditional death in 632 AD. This Christian or Manichean tribe forms the
49
Bukhari, 2:24:540: […] and it was in front of the Mosque of the Prophet. Allah’s Apostle used to go there and used to drink its nice water. [Since
all mosques are post Prophet, Allah’s Apostle must have been a different person visiting the Mosque of the Prophet.]
50
Bukhari, 3:48:849: A Jew from Hira asked me which one of the two periods Musa (i.e. Prophet Moses) completed. I said, ‘I don’t know, (but wait)
till I see the most learned Arab and enquire him about it.’ So, I went to Ibn ‘Abbas and asked him. He replied, ‘Moses completed the longer and
better period.’ Ibn ‘Abbas added, ‘No doubt,
an
apostle of Allah always does what he says.’
51
After the Aka Mosque had been damaged in 1927 and 1937, R.W. Hamilton, director of the British Mandate Antiquities Department excavated
under the mosque's piers during 1938 and 1942 in coordination with the Wakf Islamic Trust that controls the compound. There appears to have
been built a mosaic floor with Byzantine motifs that is estimated between the fourth and seventh century. Etgar Lefkovits, Was the Aksa Mosque
built over the remains of a Byzantine church? Jerusalem Post, November 16, 2008: The Byzantine mosaic floor, which was uncovered under the
Umayyad level of the mosque, is "without a doubt" the remains of a public building - likely a church - which predated the mosque, Zweig
[archeologist Zachi Zweig] said in an address at a Bar-Ilan University archeological conference. A similar mosaic can be found at the Church of
the Nativity in Bethlehem, he said. "The existence of a public building from the Byzantine period on the Temple Mount is very surprising in light
of the fact that we do not have records of such constructions in historical texts," Zweig said.
52
Eliezer ben Qalir (ca. 630 AD) in Robert Hoyland, Sebeos, the Jews and the Rise of Islam () 3: The holy people will have a short respite, for Assur
(the Persians) will permit them to found the holy shrine and they will build the altar and offer up the sacrifices. But they will not have time to
establish the sanctuary … After three months the commander-in-chief will return and come against him (the Messiah son of Joseph) and will kill
him in the little temple, and his blood will congeal upon the rock. And the land shall mourn, every family apart (Zacharia 12.12).
53
Bukhari 4:56:817: While I was sleeping, I saw (in a dream) two gold bracelets round my arm, and that worried me too much. Then I was instructed
divinely in my dream, to blow them off and so I blew them off, and they flew away. I interpreted the two bracelets as symbols of two liars who
would appear after me. And so one of them was Al-Ansi and the other was Musailama Al-Kadhdhab from Al-Yamama.
Copyright 2015: A.J. Deus ─ Muhammad and the Umayyad Dynasty’s Conversion to Islam Page | 13
ancestors of today’s royal family in Saudi Arabia. Tradition suggests Hanif as a synonym to Islam,
54
and
according to Ibn al-Nadim, Mani, the prophet of the Manicheans, was the most hanif of men.
55
Yet,
the Manicheans rely on a lineup of paracletes
56
whose trail can possibly be picked up five hundred
years later with Benjamin of Tudela. His account suggests that the Abbasid rulers saw themselves as
paracletes (apostles of God), in a succession of Muhammads
57
who re-enacted Judaic rituals.
58
A side remark seems opportune: three hundred years earlier, the Christian writer Cyril of Jerusalem,
one of the Doctors of the Church, established that the origin of Manichaeism was Saracen. Although
not a contemporary to Manes, he alleged that they were neither Jews nor Christians.
59
On the other
hand, Emperor Diocletian wrote in a rescript at the end of the third century to the proconsul of Africa
that the Manicheans originated from the hostile Persians as if deployed as a propaganda weapon to
subvert the empire.
60
It indicates an ongoing struggle that might find its beginnings centuries earlier
with the incursion of the Roman Empire into the Middle East. It is also a reminder not to
underestimate the strength of Manicheanism. Since this religion had adopted doctrines from
Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and Christianity (as well as Buddhism), its sectarian branches are not easily
identifiable.
According to al-Tabari, the Adnanite Musaylimah claimed a divine, prophetic partnership with
Muhammad while he taught the superiority of the Banu Hanifa over the Quraysh.
From Musaylimah, Messenger of Allah, to Muhammad, Messenger of God. Salutations to you. I have
54
Bukhari 5:58:169:Can you tell me of some other religion?” He said, “I do not know any other religion except the Hanif.” Zaid enquired, “What
is Hanif?” He said, “Hanif is the religion of (the prophet)
Abraham who was neither a Jew nor a Christian, and he used to worship none but Allah
(Alone).”
55
Ibn al-Nadim in Moshe Gil, Israel Oriental Studies XII, edited by Joel L. Kraemer (Brill, 1992) 17.
56
The word paraclete could be described as a human intercessor who is endowed with the presence of God.
57
The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela (1171) 54-58: Thence it is two days to Bagdad, the great city and the royal residence of the Caliph Emir al
Muminin al Abbasi of the family of Mohammed. He is at the head of the Mohammedan religion, and all the kings of Islam obey him; he occupies
a similar position to that held by the Pope over the Christians […]
There the great king, Al Abbasi the Caliph holds his court, and he is kind unto Israel, and many belonging to the people of Israel are his
attendants; he knows all languages, and is well versed in the law of Israel. He reads and writes the holy language [Hebrew] […] The men of Islam
see him but once in the year. The pilgrims that come from distant lands to go unto Mecca which is in the land El-Yemen, are anxious to see his
face, and they assemble before the palace exclaiming “Our Lord, light of Islam and glory of our Law, show us the effulgence of thy countenance,”
but he pays no regard to their words.
Then the princes who minister unto him say to him, “Our Lord, spread forth thy peace unto the men that have come from distant lands, who
crave to abide under the shadow of thy graciousness,” and thereupon he arises and lets down the hem of his robe from the window, and the
pilgrims come and kiss it, and a prince says unto them “Go forth in peace, for our Master the Lord of Islam granteth peace to you.” He is
regarded by them as Mohammed and they go to their houses rejoicing at the salutation which the prince has vouchsafed unto them, and glad at
heart that they have kissed his robe. […]
He proceeds from his palace to the great mosque of Islam which is by the Basrah Gate […]
He does not return the way he came; and the road which he takes along the river-side is watched all the year through, so that no man shall tread in
his footsteps. He does not leave the palace again for a whole year. He is a benevolent man.
58
Leviticus 16:34: […] Atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites.
Leviticus 16:2: The Lord said to Moses: “Tell your brother Aaron not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain
in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die, because I appear in the cloud over the atonement cover.
59
Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lecture (358 AD), 6:22–25: There was in Egypt one Scythianus, a Saracen by birth, having nothing in common
either with Judaism or with Christianity. This man, who dwelt at Alexandria and imitated the life of Aristotle, composed four books, one called a
Gospel which had not the acts of Christ, but the mere name only, and one other called the book of Chapters, and a third of Mysteries, and a
fourth, which they circulate now, the Treasure. This man had a disciple, Terebinthus by name. But when Scythianus purposed to come into Judæa,
and make havoc of the land, the Lord smote him with a deadly disease, and stayed the pestilence.
60
Lieu, Manichaeism, 121–22 in J. Kevin Coyle, Manichaeism and Its Legacy (Brill, 2009) 5: We have heard that the Manichaeans [. . .] have set up new
and hitherto unheard-of sects in opposition to the older creeds so that they might cast out the doctrines vouchsafed to us in the past by the divine
favour for the benefit of their own depraved doctrine. They have sprung forth very recently like new and unexpected monstrosities among the
race of the Persians — a nation still hostile to us — and have made their way into our empire, where they are committing many outrages,
disturbing the tranquility of the people and even inflicting grave damage to the civic communities. We have cause to fear that with the passage of
time they will endeavor, as usually happens, to infect the modest and tranquil Roman people of an innocent nature with the damnable customs
and perverse laws of the Persians as with the poison of a malignant (serpent).
Copyright 2015: A.J. Deus ─ Muhammad and the Umayyad Dynasty’s Conversion to Islam Page | 14
been given a share with you in this matter. Half the earth belongs to us and half to the Quraish. But
the Quraish are a people who transgress.
61
Tabari referred to the biblical covenant between God and Abraham in which Isaac had been
promised the inheritance of the land of Canaan
62
and Ishmael had been given unspecified kingdoms.
63
He also revealed the identity of the allies: the Quraysh with half, and Muhammad and Musaylimah
(Hanifa) with a quarter each — both not Quraysh. These traditions lie very strange in the landscape,
not the least because of the insecurities of who the three parties were associated with. That they divide
up the entire earth is a hint at the tradition’s late creation.
Musaylimah’s land of origin was Yamamah, which might rest on a Hebrew word for source for the
light of day,
64
as if referring to the Manichaean concept of light. Together with his wife, prophetess
Sajjah,
65
Musaylimah was one of the three Adnanite prophets of apostasy that were subject of the
Ridda Wars. The other ‘defector’ prophet was al-Asadi.
66
Such allegations of reverting from a new faith
back to a previous religion is a technique to reset the clocks. The magic trick has been applied
repeatedly throughout religious history to create a spiritual bottleneck for a sect through which it could
craft a pre-history against the backdrop that it had lost most or all of its followers.
Yet another was al-Ansi,
67
a rich business prophet of Yemen, who was apparently so ugly that he
hid behind a veil and was known as a drunk who entertained the crowd with tricks like having a donkey
kneel before God. But there were many more:
68
Following Bukhari, it was a time of hyperinflation of
prophets, and the Prophet Muhammad himself looms with a following in the tens of thousands that
distinguishes itself through total silence in the primary evidence.
In addition, there was Saf ibn Sayyad (Abdullah ibn Sa’id), a false messiah, according to tradition,
69
but nevertheless one that must have pretended to be a prophet. In the secondary hadith collection, he
competed directly with Muhammad for the title of the Messenger of Allah.
70
Although not technically recognized as a prophet, a prominent candidate is Maximus the
Confessor:
71
He is believed to having been born around the same time as the Muhammad of the
traditions. Seemingly originating with Heraclius, a Christological controversy had flared up, the
61
Al-Tabari (838–923 AD), The History of Al Tabari, translated by Ismail K. Poonawala (State University of New York, 1990) 107.
62
Genesis 17:8.
63
Genesis 21:13.
64
I would like to thank Ahmed Rasmy for pointing it out.
65
Sajah bint al-Harith ibn Suaeed
66
Tulayha ibn Khuwaylid ibn Nawfal al-Asadi defected from Mohammad in 631 AD and proclaimed that he was a prophet.
67
Al-Aswad al-Ansi appeared as a prophet around 630 AD.
68
Bukhari, 8:76:549: The Prophet said, “The people were displayed in front of me and I saw one prophet passing by with a large group of his
followers, and another prophet passing by with only a small group of people, and another prophet passing by with only ten (persons), and another
prophet passing by with only five (persons), and another prophet passed by alone. And then I looked and saw a large multitude of people, so I
asked Gabriel, ‘Are these people my followers?’ He said, ‘No, but look toward the horizon.’ I looked and saw a very large multitude of people.
Gabriel said. ‘Those are your followers, and those are seventy thousand (persons) in front of them who will neither have any reckoning of their
accounts nor will receive any punishment.’”
69
Bukhari, 9:92:453: Narrated Muhammad bin Al-Munkadir: I saw Jabir bin 'Abdullah swearing by Allah that Ibn Sayyad was the Dajjal. I said to
Jabir, "How can you swear by Allah?" Jabir said, "I have heard 'Umar swearing by Allah regarding this matter in the presence of the Prophet and
the Prophet did not disapprove of it."
70
Sahih Muslim, 41:6999-41:7002: Muhammad said: "Don't you bear testimony to the fact that I am the Messenger of Allah?" Ibn Sayyad said: "No,
but you should bear testimony that I am the messenger of Allah." Thereupon `Umar ibn Khattab said: "Allah's Messenger, permit me that I
should kill him." Thereupon Muhammad said: "If he is that person who is in your mind (i.e. the Dajjal), you would not be able to kill him.
71
Maximus the Confessor, ca. 580 – 662 AD.
Copyright 2015: A.J. Deus ─ Muhammad and the Umayyad Dynasty’s Conversion to Islam Page | 15
doctrine of Jesus with one will
72
as opposed to the separate wills that would be based on the two
natures of Jesus (Fredegar explains the controversy with the doctrines of Eutyches and his successors,
i.e. both natures of Jesus are unified into one divinity). The new idea would rock the Christian world
for the next five decades. Thus, there was a parallel Maronite ‘prophet’ on the stage of history as the
Byzantine ideas’ fiercest opponent. Since two of Maximus’s biographies are diametrically opposed and
his works are tainted with Orthodox verbiage, he is not a reliable source, and he is not subject of this
paper. Still, it needs to be noted that his (?) doctrinal ideas in The Life of The Virgin
73
contain earlier
concerns – the work does not address Jesus’s will,
74
and the author makes no reference whatsoever to
the fundamental changes under foot. Yet, Maximus may indeed be connected with Heraclius and his
ideas through Carthage, the capital of the Exarchate of Africa that had been instated by Emperor
Maurice not long before.
One more messianic prophet is often forgotten: al-Mukhtār ibn Abī ‘Ubayd Allah al-Thaqafī.
According to tradition, he was born in 622 AD. He may be too young for Jacobi, but he would leave
his mark. He was involved in establishing a counter caliph, Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah, the
supposed Mahdi. One of al-Mukhtār’s opponents was John Maron,
75
the first Maronite Patriarch.
For the purpose of the historicity of Muhammad as well as the Umayyad’s conversion, researchers
can pick and choose. The text suggests a Jewish event that happened to fall together with the advent
of the Saracens. The whereabouts of the latter or their identity remain undefined as well.
Thomas the Presbyter (ca. 640 AD)
The notion of unsubstantiated storytelling changes with Thomas the Presbyter. According to him,
the Tayyi’ MHMT were engaged in battle by Gaza.
In the year 634 [...] there was a battle between the Romans and the tayyaye d-Mhmt in Palestine
twelve miles east of Gaza […]
Some 4000 poor villagers of Palestine were killed there, Christians, Jews and Samaritans. The Arabs
ravaged the whole region.
76
As outlined earlier, Elijah bar Kabsha had been chief of the Tayyi’,
77
and he was replaced with
governor Azadbeh a dehqan of noble Sasanian blood,
78
possibly Mihran. Now, the Tayyi’ sailed under
the label of MHMT, which, as is generally recognized, differs from MHMD. Hence, the text represents
no confirmation of Muhammad. Instead, it may refer to a religious title or an institution of the Tayyi’.
72
Monothelitism.
73
Maximus the Confessor, The Life of The Virgin, translated by Stephen J. Shoemaker (Yale University Press, 2012).
74
Maximus, 51: He united himself with humanity not through seed but by the power of the Most High and the coming of the Holy Spirit. He
himself was the one who united and the one who was united: he united the two natures in one hypostasis and was united with human nature by
grace.
75
John Maron, Youhana Maroun, John the Sarumite, 628 – 707 AD. Maron was consecrated bishop in 676 AD. Pope Sergious I approved the
foundation of the Maronite Church in 686 AD and made Maron Patriarch of Antioch and all the East.
76
Thomas the Presbyter, Chronicle (ca. 640 AD) 147-148.
77
Eyas ibn Qabisah al-Ta’i or lyas ibn Qabisa, chief of Tayyi’.
78
The marzaban Islamic aristocracy of the Tahirid Dynasty would rule the semi-independent province of Khorasan and Baghdad from the ninth
century.
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Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem (died 639 AD)
There are several comments in Sophronius about the brutality of the Saracen incursions as well as
a note that a mosque (midzgita) would have been under construction on top of the Temple Mount.
The godless Saracens entered the holy city of Christ our Lord, Jerusalem, with the permission of God
and in punishment for our negligence, which is considerable, and immediately proceeded in haste to
the place which is called the Capitol. They took with them men, some by force, others by their own
will, in order to clean that place [i.e. the dunghill, resp. the Temple Mount] and to build that cursed
thing, intended for their prayer and which they call a mosque (midzgitha).
79
Meriting concerns about its authenticity, this text is only part of a Gregorian translation but is still
considered contemporary.
80
Sebeos would relate a similar story with a twist where the Jews started
building the temple but were then thrown off by the Ishmaelites.
81
This same version is also confirmed
by Eliezer ben Qalir, which confirms that the son of the Exilarch Nehemiah first cleared the site. It is
curious that Christians had not taken over the Temple Mount before. It had been filled with dung for
centuries and they should have cleared it since Constantine’s mother Helena had found the True Cross
in Jerusalem. Why the focus on this location –– and why now? What is modern research missing?
In the text, Jerusalem stands out as the focal point for the Saracens. While there is nothing in the
primary evidence that equates them with the Tayyi’, perhaps they were working together. Fredegar
would come to report that the Saracens were from the Caspian Sea in the Caucasus region. They are
thus here considered separate until Fredegar can be discredited.
Sophronius’s report also includes that churches and monasteries have been torn down, that they
were mocking the cross, and that they were imitating their leader. Yet, it is confusing that he, whose
patriarchy had been under assault, was ignorant of a new spiritual leader that remains anonymous
other than calling him the devil.
82
According to George of Resh’aina, Sophronius and Maximus were
spiritually affiliated,
83
thus perhaps excluding a reference to the latter. However, as with Maximus, no
writings about the issue of Jesus’s will are extant of the patriarch, supposedly a defender of Orthodoxy,
disabling future generations from making a sound assessment of what was going on.
The view of the self in Bukhari’s inadmissible traditions is never Saracen or Ishmaelite. The latter are
generally described in divination with arrows,
84
and the former are altogether absent. The Tayyi’ are
referred to only once in a negative tone.
85
While the Quraysh are usually portrayed as hostile infidels
to be converted, their prominence is overwhelming. But even though the Koran was supposedly
79
Hoyland, Note of Sophronius in John Moschus, ca. 637-639, Pratum spirituale, 100-102, p. 63.
80
Ibid.
81
Sebeos, 31: Now I shall speak about the plot of the Jewish rebels, who, finding support from the Hagarenes for a short time, planned to [re]build
the temple of Solomon. Locating the place called the holy of holies, they constructed [the temple] with a pedestal, to serve as their place of prayer.
But the Ishmaelites envied [the Jews], expelled them from the place, and named the same building their own place of prayer.
82
Ibid., 72-73: That is why the vengeful and God-hating Saracens, the abomination of desolation clearly foretold to us by the prophets, overrun the
places which are not allowed to them, plunder cities, devastate fields, burn down villages, set on fire the holy churches, overturn the sacred
monasteries, oppose the Byzantine armies arrayed against them, and in fighting raise up the trophies [of war] and add victory to victory. […]
Those Godfighters boast of prevailing over all, assiduously and unrestrainably imitating their leader, who is the devil, and emulating his vanity
because of which he has been expelled from heaven and been assigned to the gloomy hades.
83
Christian Boudignon, Maxime le Confesseur Etait-il Constantinopolitan? (2008) 8.
84
For example Bukhari, ca. 864-870 AD (CMJE and the University of Southern California, 2007-2009): 5:59:584.
85
Ibid., 4:56:793: What will happen to the robbers of the tribe of Tai who have spread evil throughout the country?
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written in the language of the Quraysh
86
and the Kaaba in Mecca was renovated by them, the traditions
never develop a self-view as being one of them either. They rather represent a conquered people.
87
How they suddenly became helpers after the conquest of Mecca
88
and managed to seize the right to
rule remains unexplained.
89
This claim of Quraysh leadership is repeated in the context of Mu’awiyah.
90
Bukhari thus shares the paradox with Al-Tabari where Muhammad would not be a Quraysh. Only the
mainstream narrative has the prophet originate from this tribe.
The word mosque is an Aramaic synonym for temple, synagogue or church that is found in Nabataean
texts as early as the first century BC.
91
While it had disappeared since, it now returned. Likewise,
Bukhari is unspecific with the term, and in one tradition, he views the word mosque interchangeable
with a Christian or Manichean place of worship that had existed before the conquest of Najd.
92
Sophronius thus merely repeats a word for place of worship in a language foreign to him. However,
Bukhari provides for an intriguing framework through what we do not know: out of the thirteen named
and arguably oldest mosques in his traditions, none is mentioned by any contemporary historian in
the context of Muhammad, Islam, or the prophet, including the one under construction in Jerusalem,
as if nobody took issue.
Following the lead of the primary evidence, the only mosque that an unidentified group of Saracens
had under construction went up on the Temple Mount. With the religious turmoil of the time and the
possible alternative scenarios, there is no necessity to conclude that the mosque in Jerusalem or the
Saracens had a connection to Islam.
86
Ibid., 4:56:709: If you differ with Zaid bin Thabit on any point of the Quran, then write it in the language of Quraish, as the Quran was revealed in
their language.
87
Ibid., 5:58:22.
88
Ibid., 4:56:715: The Prophet said, “The tribes of Quraish, Al-Ansar, Juhaina, Muzaina, Aslam, Ghifar and Ashja’ are my helpers, […]”
89
Ibid., 4:56:700 and 4:56:705.
90
Ibid., 4:56:704.
91
Rusmir Mahmutćehajić, The mosque: the heart of submission (Fordham, 2006) 85, paraphrased: Masjiid derives from the verb sajada (to bow down,
prostrate oneself). The earliest use of the verb is to be found in an Aramaic account on papyrus of Ashiqar, from the Elephantine islands, dating
to the fifth century BC. Although the precise meaning is unclear, the first use of the nominal form msgd’ is found in an Elephantine papyrus, dating
to the late fifth century BC. The noun can subsequently be found on Nabataean stele, mostly from the Damascus and Basra regions, dating from
the first century AD. Dating from the second and third century AD, Latin inscriptions from the Commagen region refer to Jupiter Turmasgadas,
which is the same vocalization as the Arabic Turmasgide. A Greek inscription from Dura Europos has a similar designation].
Arculf, Adomnan, De locis sanctis (ca. 700 AD) 1.1.14.186, p. 221: In that famous place where once stood the magnificently constructed Temple,
near the eastern wall, the Saracens now frequent a rectangular house of prayer which they have built in a crude manner, constructing it from raised
planks and large beams over some remains of ruins. This house can, as it is said, accommodate at least 3000 people.
92
Bukhari, 5:59:658: The Prophet sent some cavalry towards Najd and they brought a man from the tribe of Banu Hanifa who was called Thumama
bin Uthal. They fastened him to one of the pillars of the Mosque. The Prophet went to him and said, “What have you got, O Thumama?” He
replied, “I have got a good thought, O Muhammad! If you should kill me, you would kill a person who has already killed somebody, and if you
should set me free, you would do a favor to one who is grateful, and if you want property, then ask me whatever wealth you want.” […] The
Prophet left him till the day after, when he said, “What have you got, O Thumama?” He said, “I have got what I told you.” On that the Prophet
said, “Release Thumama.” So he (i.e. Thumama) went to a garden of date-palm trees near to the Mosque, took a bath and then entered the
Mosque and said, “I testify that None has the right to be worshipped except Allah, and also testify that Muhammad is His Apostle! By Allah, O
Muhammad! There was no face on the surface of the earth most disliked by me than yours, but now your face has become the most beloved face
to me. By Allah, there was no religion most disliked by me than yours, but now it is the most beloved religion to me.”
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Pseudo Shenute (ca. 644 AD)
The Coptic Apocalypse of Pseudo-Shenute wrote down a prophesy about the incursion of the
Ishmaelites:
After that shall arise the sons of Ishmael and the sons of Esau, who hound the Christians, and the
rest of them will be concerned to prevail over and rule all the world and to [re-]build the Temple that
is in Jerusalem. When that happens, know that the end of times approaches and is near. The Jews will
expect the Deceiver and will be ahead of the [other] peoples when he comes. When you see the
[abomination of] desolation of which the prophet Daniel spoke standing in the holy place, [know
that] they are those who deny the pains which I received upon the cross and who move freely about
my church, fearing nothing at all.
93
The prophesy is a doomsday scare that has the Jews expecting a deceiver that signifies the end of
times. It appears to be an evolutionary step from the Doctrina Jacobi. The fact that the invaders denied
the crucifixion hints at a form of Messianic Judaism that would otherwise accept Jesus to the lineup
of its prophets. As with the Doctrina Jacobi, the text expects the pre-runner of the Messiah (the
Mahdi).
The last part is perhaps the most intriguing where the text suggests that this new sect was a branch
from the (Egyptian Coptic) Church where they could speak freely. While he likely speaks of
Monophysitism, it is curious that they rejected the crucifixion.
Other than the rebuilding projects on the Temple Mount in 614/615 AD or 639 AD, it highlights
three groups as Jews, Ishmaelites, and sons of Esau.
94
The latter stand for the biblical betrayal of Esau’s
birthright to the inheritance of Israel by Jacob, but also for the Edomites in the south of Jerusalem
who had opposed the Maccabees
95
and had formed the royal core of the Herodian Dynasty.
Historically, the Ishmaelites emerge first in parallel to their Maccabee opponents as Nabataeans
(Zabadeans), from Nebaioth,
96
the firstborn of Ishmael. The latter had also been betrayed of his
birthright, which was given to Isaac. The Biblical Esau had been married to Ishmael’s daughter.
97
In
the seventh century, the Nabateans had long been displaced by the Romans. A vague glimpse into
their further evolution comes from the oldest, thus far found Arabic inscription about 100 km north
of Najran. The Christian inscription is dated to 469/470 AD and represents an intermediary between
the Nabatean and the Arabic script.
98
Najran is also the location for the production of the original veil
for the Kaaba in Mecca.
While Ishmael and Esau rise, it is unclear in the text who the deceiver is that the Jews expect or
where he is from. Likewise, it is not revealed whether the deceiver is coming from the Jews, the
Ishmaelites, the sons of Esau, or whether he might be an outsider.
93
Pseudo-Shenute, Vision (ca. 644 AD) 340-41.
94
Genesis 25:25: Esau was the firstborn of Isaac, Abraham and Sarah’s son. He was red and hairy. His twin brother was Jacob.
95
1 Maccabees 5:65: Then Judas and his brethren went forth and attacked the children of Esau, in the land toward the south, and he took Chebron,
and her towns: and he burnt the walls thereof and the towers all round it.
96
Genesis 25:13.
97
Mahalath.
98
Frédéric Imbert, email to the author (August 19, 2014): The text is very clear and readable on the stone: it says (under a cross), Yawnān son of
Malik, the month of Burak, year 364 [Roman era] (which is to say 470 AD). This is the oldest Christian text known in an Arabic writing (transition
from with some Nabatean forms).
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Tradition is not concerned with Esau, the son of Isaac and the model linage for the Herodians. It
rather focuses on the connection of Abu Bakr to Joseph, son of Jacob and grandson of Isaac. But
together, these texts imply a Judaic involvement of the ‘tribes’ of Ishmael, Esau, and Joseph. While
the Ishmaelites would be a sub-group of the Saracens (not from Sarah), the writer does not apply this
designation to them. Perhaps they were already concentrating linages on Ishmael in order to reclaim
the birthright from Abraham.
PERF 558 (644 AD)
A papyrus that is identified as PERF 558, bears another instance of the Arab timescale only a few
years after its appearance on a coin.
99
The document was signed off with the year 22 AH, which is 644
AD, double dated with the Christian timescale, and made out both in Arab and in Greek. It also
contains the Bismillah (in the name of God) which is commonly believed to be evidence of Islam but
constitutes a paradox by itself: the credo was not part of the original suras in the Koran. As the saying
also leaves out the prophet, it only confirms that an unspecified group believed in one God. The
Bismillah is perhaps a like-Arian equivalent to the Christian In nómine Patris et Fílii et Spíritus Sancti.
Thus, the verse could be an inter-sectarian, like-Arian prayer for the same purpose that is distinct from
Trinitarian beliefs. But one must not overlook that Trinitarian Christians or Zoroastrians would readily
sign off on the Bismillah as well. Despite the apparent complexities over the relationship of God with
his disputed descendant and with the mother of the latter, Trinitarians appear ignorant to the issue
that Jews, Muslims, and Zoroastrians view their doctrines as violating the unity of God.
Chronicle of Fredegar (ca. 641/655 AD)
Writing from far away in Europe, the chronicler Fredegar is not usually included in the narrative
of researchers to Islam. He recounts the invasion of Heraclius, as follower of Eutyches’s doctrines,
100
into Persia and presents a version of the rise of the Saracens that differs significantly from the
traditional account. Obviously, Heraclius’s incursion into eastern Armenia and beyond with doctrines
of Eutyches, who had fused the natures of Jesus into one, would be met with resistance by the
Nestorian or like Arian population that had formerly been associated with the Persian throne. Fredegar
essentially alleges that the circumcised Saracens originated from a country of Ercolia beyond the
99
PERF 558 (ca. 642 AD): In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful. This is what Abdallah, Son of Jabir, and his companions-in-arms,
have taken as of slaughter sheep at Heracleopolis (Ihnas) from a representative of Theodorakios (Tidraq), second son of Apa Kyros (Abu Qir),
and from a substitute of Christophoros (Istufur), eldest son of Apa Kyros (Abu Qir), fifty sheep as of slaughter and fifteen other sheep. He gave
them for slaughter for the crew of his vessels, as well as his cavalry and his breastplated infantry in the month of Jumada I in the year twenty-two.
Written by Ibn Hadidu.
100
J.M. Wallace-Hadrill, The Fourth Book of the Chronicle of Fredegars, with its continuations (Nelson, 1960) 66, p. 55: The Saracens proceeded –
as was their habit – to lay waste the provinces of the empire that had fallen to them. They were already approaching Jerusalem. Heraclius felt
himself impotent to resist their assault and in his desolation was a prey to inconsolable grief. The unhappy king abandoned the Christian faith for
the heresy of Eutyches and married his sister’s daughter. […] He was succeeded by his son Constantine, in whose reign the Roman Empire was
cruelly ravaged by the Saracens.
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Caucasus Mountains, at the Caspian Sea.
101
Identified as descendants from Hagar, they suffered from
population pressure and were led by two leaders, whose names he did not reveal.
102
The notion of an incursion from the north-east is also supported by tradition. An old Dictionary
of Islam is illuminating in its summary about the al-Mahdi from two traditions, essentially claiming
that he would come embedded with troops from the direction of Khorosan, carrying black ensigns.
103
Fredegar says Ercolia, which could be a Latinized version of the Avestan vəhrkō, the region of
Hyrcania. Khorosan and Tabaristan had essentially been the greater north-eastern areas of modern
Iran at the Caspian Sea. Before the reorganization of Xosrov I, the area was in de-facto control of the
powerful Parthian House of Karen. They were under pressure from Khazaria, a buffer state that was
spreading its power north of the Caucasus and from the Chinese Tang Dynasty that was soon to take
the Western Turkic Khaganate to the eastern shores of the Caspian Sea. Were the Saracens perhaps a
sub-group of the Mithraic Karens, or were the latter perhaps nicknamed ‘Saracens’? As shown earlier,
the Karens had been uprooted through the reorganization under Xosrov II by the Bagratunis of
Armenia. A backlash would thus not come as a surprise.
Even though Fredegar quotes from a book at hand, rendering him secondary but still
contemporary, he recounts how Jerusalem had been conquered, how cities had been destroyed, Egypt
set to war, Alexandria seized, and North Africa submitted until only few areas of the Byzantine Empire
remained. Constans II had to pay tribute to the Saracens for three years (to Muawiyah), after which
period the former refused payment.
104
Apparently, the Byzantine Empire had briefly become a vassal
state. This information is part of Fredegar’s promise to report in detail what might have happened.
105
Unfortunately, the fulfillment is missing. Since the Maronite Chronicle would come to suggest an
involvement of the papacy in Rome, these passages might have been destroyed.
As with the previous writers, Fredegar has two groups seizing parts of the Middle East, possibly
working together at times since there is an overlap in Alexandria. The European perception for the
101
Ibid.: The race of Hagar, who are also called Saracens as the book of Orosius attests – a circumcised people who of old had lived beneath the
Caucasus on the shores of the Caspian [Sea] in a country known as Ercolia – this race had grown so numerous that at last they took up arms and
threw themselves upon the provinces of the Emperor Heraclius, who despatched an army to hold them. [Wallace thinks that Ercolia might be
Colchis, at the Black Sea. However, Fredegar clearly puts the “country” to the shores of the Caspian Sea (Mare Caspium), beyond the Caucasus (ultra
montem Caucasi)].
102
Ibid., p. 55-56: He raised a great force throughout the imperial provinces and sent representatives to the Caspian Gates, which the Macedonian
Alexander the Great had built of brass above the Caspian Sea and had shut to check invasion by the untamed barbarians living beyond the
Caucasus. Heraclius ordered these gates to be opened, and through them poured 150,000 mercenary warriors to fight the Saracens. The latter,
under two commanders, were approximately 200,000 strong.
103
Thomas Patrick Huges, A Dictionary of Islam (Allen, 1885) 305:
“The world will not come to an end until a man of my tribe and of my name shall be master of Arabia.”
“When you see black ensigns coming from the direction of Khorosan, then join them, for the Imam of God will be with the standards, whose
name is al-Mahdi.”
104
Wallace, 81, p. 68: This year the Emperor Constantine died and was succeeded as Emperor, on the motion of the senate, by his son Constans,
who was still a minor. In Constans’ reign the empire suffered very great devastation at the hands of the Saracens. Having taken Jerusalem and
razed other cities, they attacked upper and lower Egypt, took and plundered Alexandria, devastated and quickly occupied the whole of Roman
Africa, and killed there the patrician Gregory. Only Constantinople, the province of Thrace, a few islands and the duchy of Rome remained in
imperial control, for the greater part of the Empire had been overrun by Saracens. So reduced, Constans became in the last resort their tributary,
merely controlling Constantinople and a handful of provinces and islands. It is said that for three years and more Constans paid one thousand
gold solidi a day to the Saracens; but then he somewhat recovered his strength, little by little won back his empire and refused to pay tribute.
105
Ibid., p. 69: How this came about I shall set down under the right year in its proper sequence; and I shall not remain silent if, God willing, I finish
this and other matters as I desire; and so I shall include everything in this book that I know to be true.
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next five decades would be that Damascus had been established as the capital of the Saracens and that
they were building then ‘famous’ basilicas and churches, not mosques.
106
It is strange that no contemporary report mentions Mecca, let alone the holy city as the capital of
a new empire. It may also be noted that the Saracen conquest does not at all agree with an expanding
Muslim caliphate. On the other hand, it seems obvious that Arabs, Saracens and Ishmaelites (both in
multiple sects that may morph into one by the early eighth century),
107
Lakhmids, Ghassanids, east and
west Armenians, the various Persian dynastic groups, the Tayyi’, the Khazars, and the remnants of the
Western Turkic Khaganate need to be kept diligently apart before putting them back together in a
holistic view.
What seems to shape up is a scenario where a string of buffer states and vassal kingdoms along the
Byzantine-Persian borders may have been involved, probably through shifting alliances in return for
privileges. Their histories may have been intermingled in order to create the one that is today
commonly accepted. The Saracens may have broken in from the north and brought along a prophet
– perhaps Maximus the Confessor. Clearly distinct, the Tayyi’ MHMT seem to have acquired
territories from the south.
Arab coinage (ca. 648 to 663 AD)
During the reign of the last Persian Emperor, Yazdegerd III, coins were minted that indicate a
continuance of the power struggle among the most powerful dynasties inside the Persian Empire,
particularly in the home territory of the ancient royal Achaemeni Dynasty from a millennium earlier.
In the year 26 of the Arabian era [648 AD], the emir Salim b. Ziyad had coins minted in Darabjird,
the former Sasanian royal residence in the region of Persia. His relative ‘Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad was
also minting coins in this year in Zaranj. In the year 41, Ziyad
b. Abi Sufyan had coins minted in Darabjird as well.
The Arabian emirs fought over Darabjird as the former royal
residence of the Sasanians. In the year 41 [663 AD], Samura
b. Jundab was able to bring the residence under his control
for a short time. Then, however, Mu’awiya appeared and was
acclaimed as the first Amir-I wurroyishnigan.
108
According to Bukhari, Ubayd Allah must have been an enemy of Husain from the House of Ali.
The latter’s head had been served to him on a platter,
109
leading to the Shi’ite mourning rituals.
106
Robert M. Kerr, Die Blauen Blumen von Mecca, August 2014, 67 from Beda Venerabilis (ca. 705 AD): Damascus nobilis urbs Fœnicis quæ et
quondam in omni Syria tenuit principatum et nunc Sarracenorum metropolis esse perhibetur, unde et rex eorum Mauuias famosam in ea sibi suæ
que genti basilicam dicavit, Christianis in circuitu civibus baptistæ Iohannis ecclesiam frequentantibus.
from De locis Sanctis: bi dum Christiani sancti baptistæ Iohannis ecclesiam frequentant, Saracenorum rex cum sua sibi gente aliam instituit atque
sacravit.
107
A post-mortem entry in Fredegar relates to the 730s. It explains an assimilation of the term Saracens by the (Spanish) Ishmaelites at that time.
Wallace., 20, p. 93: Once more the mighty race of Ishmael, who are now known by the outlandish name of Saracens, rebelled and burst across the
river Rhône.
108
Volker Popp, The Early History of Islam, in The Hidden Origins of Islam (Prometheus, 2010) 49.
109
Bukhari, 5:57:91: The head of Al-Husain was brought to ‘Ubaidullah bin Ziyad and was put in a tray, […]
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What this all means is contrary to what the history should be and can be taken straight from the
coins: in 648 AD, Ubayd Allah was a defender of Zoroastrianism, and in 663 Darabjird was still a
stronghold. Sebeos would later confirm
110
that the Persians had split into three military factions, one
of which was the eastern Iranian group. This split probably also
demarked dynastic and sectarian lines.
A look at coinage during this decade in southern Iraq and
Iran still shows little change compared to the Zoroastrian rule,
but now the dating with Hijri years would begin in the area of
Basrah,
111
perhaps suggesting that they were allied with the
Byzantines.
The coins had an image of a Zoroastrian ruler with the added Bismillah (in the name of God) and
the traditional Zoroastrian symbolism in the obverse. The coinage mirrors the notions that first, there
was no awareness of Islam (and there is no evidence) as late as 653 AD, and second, the Persian
Empire was divided but at least partially functional in the east and north up until Yazdegerd’s death
in 651 at an assumed age of only 27. Coins with Hijri years would be stamped thereafter only (after
Heraclius’s coins), indicating a kernel of history behind the rebellion under (the Persian) Governor
Abdullah ibn Aamir ibn Rabi’ah.
112
How this group from Basrah ties in with the Tayyi’ and the Saracens
remains to be explored.
Islam, according to tradition, comes with a message of converting non-believers, if need be through
jihad.
113
It is inconceivable that Muslims would have left Zoroastrian iconography on their coins. In
his feedback to an early draft of this article, Robert Hoyland rightly pointed out that this is an absolutist
position. Yet, the presence of Zoroastrianism in the archaeological record for over a thousand years
calls for caution. Since our knowledge about this religion at this junction is practically nil, it is too easy
to dismiss the unknown with the comfort of familiarity. However, this violates academic prudence
and is contrary to the resilience of religion that typically applies new paint to an old canvas. Is the
underlying process here a substitution, an assimilation, or an adaptation? What are the common
denominators? Was proto-Islam so close to (reform) Zoroastrianism that the differences were blurry?
It was shown that the Tayyi’ of MHMT might have been masters over the Lakhmid and Ghassanid
territories under Kabsha. However, the next section (Isho’yahb) will again show that there might
110
See the section of Sebeos.
111
Stefan Heidemann, in Angelika Neuwirth, The Qur’an in Context: Historical and Literary Investigations into the Qur’an (Brill) 163: The resulting picture
for the early decades seems to correspond to a situation in which the Sasanian administration remained operational, but functioned at a provincial
level and was responsible to Arab governors. In the 650s, possibly in the year 653-4, the mint authorities under the jurisdiction of the Basra
prefecture, began dating coins with Hijri years written in Pahlawi. The introduction of the new era on coins indicates that the administrative
Arabic elite gradually developed an awareness of its Islamic identity, but there was still no overt representation of the Islamic religion and its
empire.
112
Abdullah ibn Aamir ibn Rabi’ah 622-678 AD, was governor of Basrah 647-656 AD. According to Bukhari 9:86:103, Abdullah was of the Adnanite
Rabi’ah tribe to which the Banu Hanifa also belong.
113
Bukhari, ca. 864-870 AD (CMJE and the University of Southern California, 2007-2009) 2:26:594: The Prophet was asked, “Which is the best
deed?” He said, “To believe in Allah and His Apostle.” He was then asked, “Which is the next (in goodness)?” He said, “To participate in Jihad in
Allah’s Cause.” He was then asked, “Which is the next?” He said, “To perform Hajj-Mabrur [accepted pilgrimage to eradicate ones’ sins].”
The Koran itself lends support for Jihad; Koran 9:5: And when the sacred months are passed, kill those who join other gods with God wherever
you shall find them; and seize them, besiege them, and lay wait for them with every kind of ambush: but if they shall convert, and observe prayer,
and pay the obligatory alms, then let them go their way […]
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indeed be several histories that were intermingled and that the areas of the Tayyi’ might not only have
shrunk to a smaller size by the fifties but also that they were not recognized as adhering to a new
religion. When the religion would break through in 692 AD, its leaders would act swiftly to impose
new symbolisms.
A coin from the Bisapur mint (Fars) of 653 AD shows that
Fars was still operating on Yazdegerd’s time-scale. The coin
bears a text that indicates hope for growth:
strengthened, shall it
grow.
114
It perhaps refers to a new beginning for the Parsis under
Yazdegerd after the plague, maybe with a new but smaller
Pahlavi alliance. To interpret it as Islamic seems somewhat far-
fetched.
In sharp contrast to these coins, there is one Palestine mint
from the period between 647 and 658 that bears the name
Muhammad. It might seem bizarre but the coin shows a leader
with a Byzantine style royal headdress holding a Christian
cross. Should the coin indeed be from this timeframe, it
suggests a Christian Muhammadean influence in Palestine (vs.
a Muslim anti-crucifixion stance) while Muawiyah was “governor” of Syria but not while he would be
in charge as caliph. It looks as though Maximus the Confessor was the leading spiritual figure in Syria
during the time of Muawiyah. Thus, there is an apparent confusion between two spiritual leaders or
perhaps between the leader by the name Muhammad and the significance of MHMD itself. Perhaps
Muawiyah had been part of an alliance from which he would later brake off.
While it is still decades out, Volker Popp suggests a meaning
under al-Malik as the chosen/praised in reference to Jesus.
115
Since
MHMD appears under such different pretexts as a Menorah
or a cross, the notion of various interpretations cannot easily
be dismissed. That does not render the questions at hand
easier. Thus, the coin perhaps belongs to al-Malik’s period.
Under Muawiyah, coins were issued that resembled those of
Justin and Sophia, for example a CION mint and others. This
indicates a joint rule of Muawiyah with a female consort.
Comparing with Byzantine headdresses from coins issued
under Justin and Sophia, the royal fashion and the coins’
general layout remained unchanged from its original (second
example). Muawiyah’s coins are clearly new mints.
114
Xusro-Typ, Sasaniden-Umayyidenzeit. Drachme, Mz. BYS Bisapur, Fars. Büste mit Flügelkrone n. r. APD (erstarkt, es möge wachsen) am Rand.
Jahr 21 (?). Rv. Feueraltar zwischen zwei Dienern. 4,08 g. Göbl Tf. 13, 214 Vgl. Gaube Tf. 2, 17f.
115
Volker Popp, The Early History of Islam, in The Hidden Origins of Islam (Prometheus, 2010) 52.
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Muawiyah’s coin from CION bears the countermark “tayyib,” meaning
the good. Muawiyah had also issued coins with the Greek legend
IERO/SOLOI/MON, meaning belonging to Jerusalem,
116
again highlighting the
centrality of the Holy City.
A coin of Muawiyah was minted in Darabgird in 663 AD with the imprint
bism Allah (in the name of God). It undoubtedly represents a continuance of
Zoroastrian symbolism in contrast to the CION mint, indicating that
Muawiyah may have tolerated (or encouraged) local preferences.
Isho'yahb III of Adiabene (died 659 AD)
Isho’yahb III was a Nestorian patriarch of the Church of the East in the Persian capital Seleucia-
Ctesiphon between 649 and 659 AD and was a writer who supposedly mentioned “Muslims” and their
doctrines. Instead, he addressed differing policies of two factions.
The heretics are deceiving you [when they say] there happens what happens by order of the Arabs,
which is certainly not the case. For the tayyaye mhaggraye do not aid those who say that God, Lord of
all, suffered and died.
While the writer distinguishes between the Arabs as friend and the tayyi’ mhaggraye as foe, he fails to
provide the necessary insight to help understand who they were. Yet, it is remarkable that deception
seems to be the modus operandi of the heretics, whichever they were, and that the mechanism had
been noted so clearly. If that is the case, researchers have a difficult web to untangle. On the other
hand, mhaggraye might simply be a corruption of margrave, for their former military role in controlling
the Persian borders, and might thus initially have been an independent term. Yet, the text reveals that
the tayyi’ mhaggraye did not believe in Jesus having died, which implies that they were against the
crucifixion, providing for a first element on the Tayyi’s path to Islam. Yet, the Arabs seem to be distinct
from the Saracens since they had been branded by earlier authors for their brutality.
Muslims must not originally have seen themselves as mhaggraye, and one inadmissible hadith in
Bukhari makes a sharp distinction between a Muslim and a Muhajjir, an immigrant, which is commonly
believed to be interchangeable with mhaggraye.
117
In other places in Bukhari, the Muhajjir are described
as a people in need of conversion
118
and also as a sub-group of the Quraysh.
119
Yet, the term describes
so clearly a form of higher submission to Allah that it may constitute a top hierarchical layer of a pre-
existing cross-border, inter-tribal sect by the brand name of Muhajjir that appears to form the main
116
S. Qedar, Copper Coinage of Syria in the Seventh and Eighth Century AD (Israel Numismatic Journal 10, 1988-1989) 33, plate 6.
117
Bukhari, ca. 864-870 AD (CMJE and the University of Southern California, 2007-2009) 1:2:10: The Prophet said, “A Muslim is the one who
avoids harming Muslims with his tongue and hands. And a Muhajir (mhaggraye) is the one who gives up (abandons) all what Allah has forbidden.”
118
Bukhari, 8:82:817.
119
Bukhari, 5:58:175: “Who are you?” He said, “A man from the Emigrants.” She asked, “Which Emigrants?” He replied, “From Quraish.” […]
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path to Islam. This hierarchical dualism looks strangely Manichaean.
120
If so, then a proper translation
for the term would be wanderers as a synonym for their Elect, which again collides with the Manichaean
paracletes (as perhaps upheld by the Abbasids in a Manichaean/Mazdakean hybrid). To consolidate
them, it would have to be assumed that the Muhajjir might have seen their paracletes as divinely
inspired, rather than as gods. The parallel would be found with Christians who are, as noted earlier,
blind to the Pagan paradox in Jesus’s divinity. This opens the possibility to interpret the terms muhajjir
and mhaggraye differently, perhaps fusing the spiritual and military sense of both over time into jihad.
In his letter to Simon, bishop of Revardasir, Isho’yahb referred to a large presence of Manicheans
throughout the Middle East and confirmed the concept of relative religious freedom under the Arabs:
You alone of all the peoples of the earth have become estranged from every one of them. And
because of this estrangement from all these, the influence of the present error came to prevail with
ease among you. For the one who has seduced you and uprooted your churches was first seen among
us in the region of Radan, where the Hanpe [Manicheans or alternatively Pagans] are more numerous
than the Christians. Yet, due to the praiseworthy conduct of the Christians, the Manicheans were not
led astray by him. Rather he was driven out from there in disgrace; not only did he not uproot the
churches, but he himself was extirpated. However, your region of Persia received him, Manicheans
and Christians, and he did with them as he willed, the Manicheans consenting and obedient, the
Christians inactive and silent.
As for the Arabs, to whom God has at this time given rule (shultana) over the world, you know well
how they act toward us. Not only do they not oppose Christianity, but they praise our faith, honor
the priests and saints of our Lord, and give aid to the churches and monasteries. Why then do your
people of Oman reject their faith on a pretext of theirs? And this when the people of Oman
themselves admit that the Arabs have not compelled them to abandon their faith, but only asked
them to give up half of their possessions in order to keep their faith. Yet they forsook their faith,
which is forever, and retained the half of their wealth, which is for a short time.
121
Isho’yahb was on a mission to win back the defecting bishoprics in the eastern Arab Peninsula
from a present error. In contrast to the previous writers, Isho’yahb brought forth a path that the
“seducer” had taken from the church leader’s district Taron of Turuberan in Greater Armenia to the
Persian city of Revardasir. While it is unclear whether the unnamed leader was still alive, Moshe Gil
asserts the seducer possibly bringing along a Maronite incursion to the Manicheans. While this
drastically complicates matters, there is nothing in the text that could oppose this notion. In fact, in
the larger context of religious strive at the time, conflicts between existing sects was the necessary
pretext for the occurrence of a new religion that overwhelmed the divided factions.
120
J. Kevin Coyle, Manichaeism and Its Legacy, Introduction (Brill, 2009) XV: Manichaeans saw themselves as men and women who heard the call
clearly and knew how to answer it. Those who responded unconditionally thereby became adherents of Manichaeism’s inner circle—the Elect
(perfect, or holy ones). They were […] required to practice a rigorous asceticism, consisting of three “seals” and five “commandments”. They
were also obliged to frequent prayer and to break with family and all possessions, and so it was assumed that (at least in western forms of
Manichaeism) the Elect would be perpetual wanderers. Since they could not even collect their own food, this task fell to the other main
division of Manichaean membership, the Hearers (or catechumens), for whom looking after the needs of the elect was the primary religious duty.
Hearers were subject to a less demanding code of behaviour: they could perform manual labour, own property and ‘kill’, that is, harvest and
prepare the food they offered to the Elect. They had to observe fewer fasts and less frequent prayers, and could marry, though procreation was
discouraged. The hope of Hearers was that, after faithful service, they might be reborn as Elect, and so become eligible to be both saviours and
saved. For at death the Elect’s destiny was to have his or her personal light-substance start on its journey back to the light-realm.
121
Isho’yahb III, Ep. 14C, 251, (659 AD) 180: the word Manichean was originally translated as Pagan. Following the argument of Moshe Gil (Israel
Oriental Studies XII, 1992), the Syriac word Hanpe appears to be erroneously translated and should read Manichean. It was thus corrected by the
author.
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Isho’yahb related to events that were under foot during or since shortly before his reign, again,
placing the arrival of the seducer post the traditional Muhammad. He, the seducer, would first have
appeared in Greater Armenia, from where he was expelled. As the text is directed toward Oman, those
that would have accepted the leader’s ideas first would have been Manicheans in that region, followed
by passive submission of Christians of unspecified sects. In the traditions, Oman is also first on the
list with Bahrain as having submitted to Muhammad, which indicates a time shift between history and
tradition.
122
Indeed, the local Ibadi movement claims of itself to having been founded in the ominous
year 692 AD when drastic changes would uproot the political and religious landscape.
Robert Hoyland thinks that the following primary text was written during the reign of Ali:
123
“The
Iranian and Arabian Christian communities had always been reluctant to submit to Seleucia-Ctesiphon, where the
head of the Eastern Church resided, but the arrival of the Muslims [or maybe the Maronites] gave them the chance
of winning outside backing. This drew an angry response from Isho’yahb III, the eastern prelate in the 640s and
650s, which he voiced in a letter to the Christians of Qatar.“
Not satisfied with their wickedness against the church of God, your so-called bishops extended the
demonstration of their rebellion to the rulers there and to the chief ruler who is above the rulers of
this time. They rose up against the primacy of the church of God, and they have now been scorned
by the rulers as befits their insubordination. (Epistulae 266)
He then appeals to the priests and deacons of Qatar to cast off their unruly bishops and to send to him persons
more worthy of the episcopal office:
You, my faithful, in whose salutary power are the islands and desert dwellers (yothay madbro)—
namely those of dirin [modern Tarut], Mashmahig, Tilun [Dilmun/Bahrain], Khatt and Hajar—
should be diligent now more than ever before in the assistance of your faith and in the lawful
establishment of the priesthood that sanctifies you even more than in attending to worldly affairs. So
pick out and send to us either those fallen bishops who are in your mind suitable once more to be
restored to sacerdotal service, or others considered by you more suitable than them for the great task
of the exalted service of God’s church, so that thus they might be anointed, consecrated and
perfected. (Epistulae 267-68)
By such entreaties and threats Isho’yahb managed to heal the division and achieve a secure arrangement,
allowing the Qatar region more independence under its own metropolitan
.
The last Christian notice about east Arabia before its Islamization comes from a cleric writing in southwest Iran
in the 650s AD, who pens a short piece of Arabian geography:
Hasor, which scripture calls ‘head of the kingdoms’ [Joshua 11.10], belongs to the Arabs, while
Medina is named after Midian, Abraham’s fourth son by Qetura; it is also called Yathrib. And Dumat
al-Jandal [modern al-Jawf] belongs to them, and the territory of the people of Jajar [Arar?], which is
rich in water, palm trees and fortified buildings. The territory of Khatt [in the modern Emirates],
situated by the sea in the vicinity of the islands of Qatar, is rich in the same way; it is also thickly
vegetated with various kinds of plants. The region of Mazun [Oman] also resembles it, and it too lies
by the sea, comprising an area of more than 100 pasangs. So [...] also the territory of Yamama, in the
middle of the desert, and the territory of Tawf [the Najran Province?], and the city of Hira [by Kufa],
which was the seat of king Mundhir, surnamed the ‘warrior.’” (Chron. Khuzistan 38-39)
122
Bukhari, 5:59:657
123
Ali ibn Abi Talib ruled the caliphate 656-661 AD. He was cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, a Shi’ite Ishmaelite.
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The author ends with the laconic observation that ‘he [Mundhir] was sixth in the line of the Ishmaelite kings.
’”
124
According to the text, there was a schism in the Eastern Church (and also among the MHMTs?).
Isho’yahb’s targets are around Bahrain and Qatar, and he complains that the rebellion is not only
geared against the church but also against the rulers of the time. This is where the like Arian bishoprics
had been taken over. If there was an “infected” region in the eastern Arab Peninsula under a “seducer”
within this decade between 649 and 659 AD, then it could have been through conversion of Manicheans
and like Arian Christians. Yet, the missionary could have been viewed as a Maronite, which is a link
that is also made in the Maronite Chronicle.
In contrast, the cleric’s fragment seems unrelated to
Isho’yahb. There, the opponents had essentially taken
over large areas in the Arab Peninsula, including Hasor,
which is believed to relate to Mecca. However, the head
of the kingdoms is also a Biblical reference in Joshua that
could indicate the north-eastern Israeli city. Both regions
are marked on the map as shaded areas as is Jajar, which
is also unclear. Hasor did not exist at this time, but its
neighboring city of Safed would rise to one of the Four
Holy Cities of Judaism, together with Tiberias, Hebron,
and Jerusalem. This would potentially align the
Palestinian coin with the Muhammad pictography if it
were to project the same meaning. If the cleric’s Hasor
were identical with Sebeos’s T’etal region, then the writers
must have meant the Levant, which was indeed initially under the control of Amr Al-‘As. However,
the logic of the cleric’s order is perplexing, and the text is unclear. Plotting his geography with both
possible Hasors reveals a patchwork that defies the grandeur of the caliphate that had been decades
in the making. Except for Khatt, the fragment is so decisively different from Isho’yahb that they
perhaps talk about two different phenomena, maybe
even in different times that would later morph Arab
friend and Mhaggrayye foe into one. While the cleric
rather seems to overlap with the traditions of the Muslim
expansion in the early 630s, Isho’yahb does not complain
about an incursion from the western Arab Peninsula
other than highlighting the anti-Christian stance of the
Mhaggrayye. The map indicates that Syria, Basrah, and
Iran, the Lakhmids (that had earlier been under the
Tayyi’ leadership of Elijah Kabsha), Yemen, or what is
124
Robert G. Hoyland, Arabia and the Arabs, From the Bronze Age to the coming of Islam (Routledge, 2001) 31-32.
Map
4: Muslim conquests according to tradition
Map
5
: Locations in Isho'yahb (marked yellow), areas
in fragment of Iranian cleric (marked blue, unclear
areas shaded), and Tayyi’ (red)
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left of the former Ghassanid territories do not seem to be part of either description.
In the traditions, the Arabs, as the cleric calls them, find themselves on an inter-tribal list of
supporters and opponents and are thus impossible to narrow down to a specific group in this text.
Since Isho’yahb had warned of the possible confusion between Arabs and Tayyaye Mhaggraye, and with
the progression of the evidence, it seems logical that the Tayyaye were in control of these areas. The
cleric’s strange introduction would thus need to be transliterated to: “Hasor, […], belongs to the Tayyaye
Mhaggraye, while Medina is named after Midian …” With the inclusion of the Tayyi’, the region under their
control would be more in tune with an emerging state, but it would still be possible to view the writer’s
sequence as starting with either the region of Mecca or Safed. Choosing the former creates a paradox
wherein Mecca is part of the narrative in the Koran but not Hasor. Did the cleric not know of the
name change so long after the prophet of the traditions had died? Is it perhaps better to favor Safed
from the two possible choices? We know from Sebeos that only a couple of years later, a large Middle
Eastern Alliance would fall apart and the Tayyi’ would be destroyed by Mu’awiyah. Thus, if there had
been a ‘Muslim’ territory before, in 661 AD, there was none, neither in the Arab Peninsula nor in
Egypt, and certainly not in Syria. If they existed, where would they regroup?
Regardless of the understanding of the term hanpe as Pagan, Manichaean or something else,
Isho’yahb only makes sense in the absence of Islam, which could have abused the struggle for survival
of the Manicheans and Zoroastrians as well as of the Lakhmids and Ghassanids for a tale of its own
birth. Yet, the cleric seems to describe a separate group that does not come along with indications to
its faith but strongly hints at the Tayyaye Mhaggraye being on the path to Islam as deniers of Jesus’s
death, not unlike the death of the Mahdi would come to be denied.
Sebeos History (ca. 660s AD)
Another problematic but celebrated primary evidence is Sebeos’ History from the 660s AD. He is
criticized in particular for his chronology, and the long chain of transmission invites unwelcome
changes. The six paragraphs that follow after the author signs off with declaring that he has „futilely
strung together words into a history,” are particularly difficult to accept as authentic.
When the Persian Emperor Yazdegerd III’s
125
rose to power in 632 AD, he was only eight years old
(so it is believed) and was thus manipulated from behind the veils. His ascent falls together with the
end of Prophet Muhammad of the traditions. According to Sebeos, the Persian armies split into three
territorial units under the new emperor,
126
hence, weakening and dividing the power base
127
but still
respecting the throne. One of these territories was the east from which the Darabjird and Zaranj mints
originated. Like the previous writers, MHMD or MHMT is subject in Sebeos only after the lifetime of
Prophet Muhammad of the traditions. Since Sebeos would later recount that the Ishmaelites also
125
Yazdegerd III (Yazdgerd III, Yazdiger, Yazdigerd, meaning “made by God”) ruled the Sasanid Empire from the age of eight 632 – 651 AD. His
father was Shahryar and his grandfather Xosrov II.
126
Sebeos’s History of the seventh century, 28 (publishing ca. 660 AD), English by Robert Bedrosian (1985): Finally there came to rule Yazkert, son
of Kawad, grandson of Xosrov, who ruled in fear, since the troops of the land of Iran had split into three parts. The first army was the one in the
Iranian and Eastern region; the second army was [Erhasman] Xorheam’s which was in Asorestan [Babylon]; and the third army was in Atrpatakan
[Azerbaijan, east Armenia and Khorasan under Rostam Farrokhzad]. However, the [center of the] kingdom was at Ctesiphon, and all [the
Iranians] universally respected it.
127
According to Gyselen (2004), a split into the four factions East, South, West, and North may have already occurred under Khosrau I.
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started their annual count with Yazdegerd’s ascent in 632 AD, the notion of a Muslim timescale
beginning with 622 AD seems to be confused. In other words, the Muslim timescale restarted in Basra
with a group that may not associate with Ishmaelite or Tayyi’ but maybe with an old Persian dynasty
that may have been allied with the Byzantines. Given the text of Isho’yahb, this group could possibly
be identified through an inadmissible hint by the fourteenth century Muslim scholar Khaldun:
The first to pray for the caliph during the sermon was Ibn Abbas. As Ali’s governor in al-Basrah, he
prayed for Ali during his sermon. He said: “O God, help Ali, (who represents) the truth.” This
practice was continued afterwards.
128
Was the House of Ali perhaps responding to the failed sedition from the Eastern Church with an
alliance between them and Abbas from Basra and fracturing itself in its wake? Or was Ibn Abbas
perhaps the spiritual leader of the House of Ali?
Until the year 638 AD in Sebeos’ chronicle, the only word about Ishmaelites ─ not Muslims ─ was a
preview into the future,
129
challenging orthodox chronology again and indicating that the Ishmaelites
had been allied with Xosrov (since he had taken the True Cross).
Placed at the end of Heraclius’s rule, between 638 and 641 AD,
first
the Jews from Edessa fled to
the sons of Ishmael, and
then
Muhammad, a man knowledgeable in Mosaic history, became
prominent and taught that the inheritance of the Promised Land has moved from the Jacobites
(Israelites) to the Ishmaelites.
Twelve peoples [representing] all the tribes of the Jews assembled at the city of Edessa. […]
Heraclius, emperor of the Byzantines, gave the order to besiege it. […] So they [the Jews] departed
[…] to Tachkastan [the land of the Tayyi’], to the sons of Ishmael. [The Jews] called [the Ishmaelites]
to their aid and familiarized them with the relationship they had through the books of the [Old]
Testament. […] In that period a certain one of them, a man of the sons of Ishmael named Mahmet
[MHMT], a merchant [t’angar or t’ankangar], became prominent. A sermon about the Way of Truth,
supposedly at God’s command, was revealed to them, and taught them to recognize the God of
Abraham, especially since he was informed and knowledgeable about Mosaic history. […] He said:
“God promised that country [Canaan, Israel] to Abraham and to his son after him, for eternity. […]
Now, however, you are the sons of Abraham, and God shall fulfill the promise made to Abraham
and his son on you. […] go and take the country which God gave to your father, Abraham.”
130
The passage a merchant (t’angar or t’ankangar) points either at a possible later edit or at a
mistranslation, perhaps meaning a location or a tribal designation, a tanjahr,
131
or perhaps from the
Jewish-Arab city of Tayma, which may have been part of the Tayyi’s territories. Regardless, the Jews
from Edessa
first
fled to the Tayyi’ Ishmaelites for help.
132
Here, Sebeos serves up a confusing hybrid
where MHMT should be a personal name rather than a historic group that connects to the Tayyi’ and
binds the latter to the Ishmaelites. The passage “in this period” provides for some leeway in the span of
128
Muhammed ibn Khaldun (1332-1406 AD), The Muqaddimah (1377 AD), translated by Franz Rosenthal (Princeton University, 1958) III:34. The
characteristic emblems of royal and government authority, the “outt” (alah). The prayer enclosure (magsurah) and the prayer during the (Friday)
sermon.
129
Sebeos, 30: The Cross of the Lord remained in the heaven-built city until the taking of Jerusalem by the sons of Ishmael.
130
Sebeos, 30.
131
I.e. from Tangier, which was Arian Christian at this time
132
This incident is also placed after 632 AD (Heraclius’ compulsory baptism) in Michael the Syrian, in Robert Hoyland, Sebeos, the Jews and the Rise
of Islam () 2: At this time the emperor Heraclius ordered that all the Jews in the lands of the Roman Empire become Christian. For this reason the
Jews fled the lands of the Romans. First, they came to Edessa; when they were oppressed again there, they took refuge in Persia.
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Muhammad’s first appearance, but the writer seems to mean ‘in this period since the Jews had assembled at
Edessa.’
While Sebeos, being from Armenia, said himself that some of his history was hearsay,
133
he
mentioned a mere sermon (!), The Way of Truth, which was revealed to the Ishmaelites. Its title suggests
that the writer had no awareness of a Koran and provides for a striking parallel to the first Christian
sect, The Way, in the New Testament. While MHMT focused on the God of Abraham in the Old
Testament, Sebeos clarifies that he, MHMT, had been knowledgeable about the Jewish Law. Since
there is no sura that could be associated with The Way of Truth, this text is possibly an anti-evidence to
the existence of the Koran as late as the 660s.
Sebeos quoted MHMT as having set the goal to re-conquer Canaan. Apparently, Jerusalem was the
grand price of the operation, but Canaan spans from the Tigris River to the Sinai Peninsula. What we
do not know is how Jews, Ishmaelites, and MHMT would have forged a successful alliance.
It may be noted that the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah
134
and the Treaty of Ayla
135
after the Battle of Tabouk
do not bear a reference to Muhammad’s prophethood. The Covenant of Umar is likewise absent of
any reference to Muhammad, a prophet, or Islam. Moreover, this late appearance of the Prophet
creates a startling paradox between primary evidence and tradition where Muhammad is altogether
absent from the early conquests as well as the Ridda Wars and is instead replaced with successors,
some of whom shine in absence from the contemporary documents and artifacts. How could there
have been wars of apostasy before the Prophet even made a name of himself? Was Islam conjectured
into wars of entirely different scopes? Did those wars even take place?
Following the prominence of MHMT
in Sebeos, the Ishmaelites set out, and
then
the sons of
Israel united with them after which Jerusalem submitted to the Ishmaelites.
136
This seems to align with
the construction on the Temple Mount as reported by Sophronius and perhaps also with the coin of
Muhammad from Palestine. Sebeos’s story placed a first collapse of the Persian Empire to 640/641.
137
However, Yazdegerd regained partial control and returned to rule for another decade from Seleucia-
Ctesiphon. The Ishmaelites had then invaded the Levant under the leadership of Amr (Umar), king
of the sons of Ishmael.
138
133
Sebeos, 30: We heard this [account] from men [who had returned] from captivity in Xuzhastan Tachkastan, who themselves had been eye-
witnesses to the events described and narrated them to us.
134
Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, Sahih Muslim 19:4401.
135
The Biblical Ayla is today’s Aqaba, Jordan’s only Red Sea port in its far south.
136
Sebeos, 30: Then all of them assembled together […], and they set out [… being] twelve tribes [moving] in the order [of precedence] of the
Houses of the patriarchs […] to the country of Israel.
All the remnants of the sons of Israel then assembled and united, becoming a large force.
137
Sebeos, 30: […] the kingdom of Iran grew weaker, and their army was divided into three parts. Then the Ishmaelite troops who were gathered in
the east, went and besieged Ctesiphon, since the king of Iran resided there [Yazdegerd]. Troops from the land of Media [Marats’ from
southeastern Armenia], some 80,000 armed men under their [formerly Byzantine allied] general Rostom assembled and went against [the
Ishmaelites] in battle. Then [Yazdegerd] left the city […], [the Ishmaelites …] pursuing them [… to] Hert’ichan [an Armenian border village]. […
The armies of Rostom and the Ishmaelites] attacked each other, and the Iranian forces fled before them. […] Then they hurried to Ctesiphon and
took the treasury of the kingdom, the inhabitants of the cities, and their king, and then hurried to get back to Atrpatakan. But […] the Ishmaelite
army unexpectedly came upon them. […] Their king […] fled, winding up with the southern troops. Now [the Ishmaelites] took the entire
treasury and returned to Ctesiphon […]. And they pillaged the entire country.
138
Sebeos, 30: When the sons of Ishmael had arisen and issued from the desert of Sinai, their king Amrh did not accompany them. But when [the
Arabs] had militarily routed both kingdoms, seizing from Egypt to the great Taurus mountain, from the Western Sea [the Mediterranean] to Media
and Xuzhastan, they then emerged with the royal army [and went] to the natural borders of the holdings of Ishmael.
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In Bukhari’s traditions, Amr Al-‘As (who may have become king) acts only a couple of times as
narrator of traditions that do not contribute to the focus of this paper.
139
In two instances, Amr is made
commander
of
the army
140
or the troops of the place Dhat-us-Salasil.
141
His son Abdallah, a Qahtanite
(the umbrella of the Tayyi’ as viewed separate from the Quraysh),
142
is much more prominent in
Bukhari as a source of traditions,
143
as a companion of the prophet,
144
and also as an arch-enemy of
Mu’awiya.
145
Bukhari thus suggests a Muhammadean trail through Abd Allah. The aspirations of the
latter to appoint the king from the Qahtanites seems to have led to the schism by Muawiyah from the
throne of MHMD.
According to Sebeos, the Byzantine Empire entered a peace agreement with the Syrian Mu’awiya
around 651 AD. He is the first Umayyad who appears in the historical record after a failed attack on
Constantinople.
146
Three years later, the Syrian broke the treaty,
147
which is an event that is also
mentioned in the Maronite Chronicle.
148
Sebeos gave the new boss the title prince of the Ishmaelite army,
prince of the army or also Ishmaelite prince, indicating that Amr Al-‘As had been eliminated and that
Mu’awyiah may have made himself an enemy in Amr Al-‘As’s son ‘Abdallah. According to Tabari, the
latter had been a scholar who was proficient in the book of Daniel,
149
suggesting Jewish involvement.
The chronicle recounts the end of Yazdegerd in 651 AD
150
and portrays Syria as a satellite of the
Antichrist.
151
However, firstly, this honor was inflationary and given to anyone who denied any form
of Jesus being a god
152
or to others guilty of even lesser offenses. It was a rhetorical put-down with the
aim to instill fear in a superstitious public. Mani, the founder of Manicheanism had been recipient of
139
Bukhari, 8:73:19, 9:92:450.
140
Ibid., 5:57:14: The Prophet deputed me to lead the Army of Dhat-as-Salasil. […]
141
Ibid., 5:59:644: Allah’s Apostle sent ‘Amr bin Al As as the commander of the troops of Dhat-us-Salasil. […]
142
Ibid. 4:56:704: That while he was with a delegation from Quraish to Muawiya, the latter heard the news that ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin Al-‘As said
that there would be a king from the tribe of Qahtan. On that Muawiya became angry, got up and then praised Allah as He deserved, and said,
“Now then, I have heard that some men amongst you narrate things which are neither in the Holy Book, nor have been told by Allah’s Apostle.
Those men are the ignorant amongst you. Beware of such hopes as make the people go astray, for I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, ‘Authority of
ruling will remain with Quraish, and whoever bears hostility to them, Allah will destroy him as long as they abide by the laws of the religion.’”
143
Ibid., 1:3:113: There is none among the companions of the Prophet who has narrated more Hadiths than I except ‘Abdallah bin Amr (bin Al-‘As)
who used to write them and I never did the same.
144
Ibid., 3:31:195.
145
Ibid., 4:56:704 [see footnote above].
146
Sebeos, 33: Now the [Arab general] who was in the Palestine area, ordered that a large naval fleet be organized. He boarded a ship and began
warring with Constantinople. But his naval battle did not succeed, for a multitude of [Byzantine] troops in boats came up before him, and sent
[the Arabs] to the deep, driving off many others with fire, and pursuing those who fled. Nonetheless, emperor Constans was horrified [by the
attack] and considered it wise to pay a tax/tribute [sak], and to make peace by means of messengers. The Ishmaelites hurried the Byzantines to
complete a peace agreement. Now Constans, the Byzantine emperor, because he was a lad, did not dare to do so without the approval of the
army. So he wrote to Procopius for him to go with him to Damascus, to see Mu’awiya, prince of the Ishmaelite army […] He revealed the amount
of the tribute, stated the limit, made peace, and departed.
147
Sebeos, 35: When the king of the Ishmaelites […] had done away with the kingdom of Iran, and when three years of the peace provision had
passed, [Mu’awiya] no longer wanted to continue the peace with the Byzantine emperor. So he ordered his troops to commence warfare on land
and sea, to do away with this kingdom as well, in the twelveth year of the reign of Constans.
148
The Maronite Chronicle (664+ AD), from Andrew Palmer, Sebastian P. Brock, Robert G. Hoyland, The seventh century in the west-Syrian chronicles
(Liverpool University Press, 1993) 32.
149
Ibn Sa’d, al-Tabaqat al-kubra (Beirut, 1960-68) IV, 266, VII, 495; Tabari, II, 299 Cf. Kister, M.J., Haddithu ‘an bani isra’ila wa-la haraja (Israel Oriental
Studies, 2, 1972) 215-239.
150
Sebeos, 35: In the twentieth year of king Yazkert of Iran [651 AD], in the eleventh year of emperor Constans (who was called Constantine after
his father), in the nineteenth year of the lordship of the Ishmaelites [the Lakhmids, 651-19=632 AD], the Ishmaelite army which was in the
country of Iran and Xuzhastan [southern Iraq] went eastward to the area known as the Palhaw country (which is the land of the Parthians) against
Yazkert, king of Iran. Yazkert fled from them, but was unable to escape, because [the Ishmaelites] caught up with him close to the Kushans’
borders [modern greater Afghanistan], and destroyed all of his troops. [Yazdegerd] fled to the army of the T’etals [from Xak’an, king of the
Tetalats’ik’, north of Armenia] who had come from different areas to help him. […] Now the T’etal troops seized Yazkert and killed him.
151
Sebeos, 35: Thus did the satellite of the anti-Christ pull [the Armenians] away from the Byzantines.
152
John of Damascus, The Fount of Knowledge, Book IV, Chapter XVII, translated by Rev. G.N. Warwick: as quoted earlier.
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such stylish curses in a polemic – likely fictional
153
– that feigns a lop-sided dispute between the latter
and his Christian opponent, Archelaus.
154
Secondly, this section in Sebeos is problematic as it uses a
different terminology for the Byzantines than before.
155
On the other hand, John Bishop of Nikiu had
used a similar hateful language against what he had thought to be like Arian Christianity,
156
and he
clearly conveyed that the Ishmaelites had been riding under Muhammadean flags with The Way of Truth
written on it.
In a letter, according to Sebeos, Mu’awiyah denied that Jesus is god (in the sense of Eutyches?) and
asked Constans to return to the god of Abraham.
157
Sebeos is specific enough that Mu’awiyah must
not be on the path to Islam. The writer clarifies that the Ishmaelite prince had not accepted Jesus as
the Christ. In a doctrinal statement, the Koran clearly accepts Jesus as the Messiah,
158
which is nothing
but the equivalent to the Greek Khristos – in other words, the Koran calls the Messiah Christ Jesus. But
it also stresses that he represents the Word of God, is the son of Mary, and enjoys an intercessory role
with his near access to God. In Luke of the Gospels, Jesus is also the son of Mary, but he is the son
of God,
159
a position vehemently opposed by Islam. Sebeos’s text is specific enough to put it into the
realm of (perhaps not yet Christianized) followers of John the Baptist or possibly another form of
Judaism, the latter of which is also what Sebeos suggests by connecting Muhammad to Jewish Law
and putting emphasis on the Jewish migration from Edessa before the uprising of the Israelite tribes.
At this point, Mu’awiyah was a subaltern part of it. That John the Baptist is also an integral component
of the Koran hints at a very early fragmentation before Islam came to recognize itself as such.
A tradition in Bukhari mirrors this story where Constans first accepted and then rejected Islam.
160
From this tradition, we learn that the Ghassanids may have been involved and that Constans had a
153
Probably by the anti-Manichean militant Cyril of Jerusalem.
154
J. Kevin Coyle, Manichaeism and Its Legacy, A Clash of Portraits: Contrasts Between Archelaus And Mani in The Acta Archelai (Brill, 2009) 29:
Mani, he [Archelaus] says, seems “full of insanity” and his doctrine is “grotesque” (17.3). He is “delirious” and forgetful (17.7; see 59.10), and a
devious prevaricator (26.6). In what is by now standard anti-heretical discourse, he calls Mani ignorant and short on intelligence (27.3). He is a
“false Christ and a false prophet” (39.9; see 42.11), a Satan and vessel of the Antichrist” (40.1–2; see 64.9). He is more heretical and lower in
intellect than Marcion, Valentinus, and Basilides (42.1) [researchers may note that the text only refers to early Dualistic or Gnostic “heresies” and
that no reference is made to heretics after the mid second century up to Mani toward the end of the third]. He is a barbarian Persian (40.5), a
“barbarian priest and conspirator with Mithras” (40.7).
155
Sebeos, 35: This section, unlike the major portion of the book uses hrhomots’ (Romans) instead of yunats’(Greeks) for the Byzantine Empire.
156
Nikiû, CXVII, 8.
157
Sebeos, 36: “If you want to spend your life in peace,” he wrote, “abandon that foolish faith which you learned from childhood. Deny that Jesus
and turn to the great God whom I worship, the God of our father Abraham. […] Otherwise, how can that Jesus whom you call Christ — who
was unable to save himself from the Jews — possibly save you from me?”
158
Koran 3:40: Remember when the angel said, “O Mary! Verily God announceth to thee the Word from Him: His name shall be Messiah Jesus
the son of Mary, illustrious in this world, and in the next, and one of those who have near access to God; […]
159
Luke 1:31-1:32: You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the
Son of the Most High.
160
Bukhari, 1:1:6 [This hadith is usually understood as relating to Heraclius I]: While they were discussing it, a messenger sent by the king of Ghassan
to convey the news of Allah’s Apostle to Heraclius [Constans II?] was brought in. Having heard the news, he (Heraclius) ordered the people to go
and see whether the messenger of Ghassan was circumcised. The people, after seeing him, told Heraclius that he was circumcised. Heraclius then
asked him about the Arabs. The messenger replied, ‘Arabs also practice circumcision.’
(After hearing that) Heraclius remarked that sovereignty of the ‘Arabs had appeared. Heraclius then wrote a letter to his friend in Rome who was
as good as Heraclius in knowledge. Heraclius then left for Homs (a town in Syria [i.e. Emesa, which may not have fallen until now]) and stayed
there till he received the reply of his letter from his friend who agreed with him in his opinion about the emergence of the Prophet and the fact
that he was a Prophet. On that Heraclius invited all the heads of the Byzantines to assemble in his palace at Homs. When they assembled, he
ordered that all the doors of his palace be closed. Then he came out and said, ‘O Byzantines! If success is your desire and if you seek right
guidance and want your empire to remain then give a pledge of allegiance to this Prophet (i.e. embrace Islam).’
(On hearing the views of Heraclius) the people ran towards the gates of the palace like onagers but found the doors closed. Heraclius realized their
hatred towards Islam and when he lost the hope of their embracing Islam, he ordered that they should be brought back in audience.
(When they returned) he said, ‘What already said was just to test the strength of your conviction and I have seen it.’ The people prostrated before
him and became pleased with him, and this was the end of Heraclius’s story (in connection with his faith).
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Jew-phobia since the security checks of a Ghassanid messenger sent by Muhammad included dropping
the pants.
In the winter of 654 AD, southwestern Armenia (Arab Armenia) rebelled from Ishmaelite service
in order to “escape the dragon’s teeth and the bitter breath of the beast” and drove the latter back to their home
in the area of Ctesiphon (!),
161
which could have been their capital at this time other than its alternative
location in Al-Hira. Shortly thereafter, all of Armenia submitted to the Ishmaelites,
162
and all the
churches were stripped of their wealth.
163
Apparently, an alliance had here formed that encompassed
the region west of the Tigris River from Armenia to Egypt and the Arab Peninsula. However, the
Ishmaelites then fell into four parts. Two of them, Tachik (Tayyi’ with Basrah) and Egypt united and
ended up killing their king, perhaps Amr Al-‘As, enthroning another, possibly Abu Turab (alias Ali)
or ‘Abdallah.
164
Mirroring Muslim tradition, Mu’awiah then disposed of the new king and became the
leader of all while the Tayyi’ were destroyed and Egypt defected to Constantinople.
165
Those that came
to tell their stories to Sebeos were imprisoned there, in Xuzhastan Tachkastan, perhaps describing the
united territories of the Banu Khuza’ah (near Mecca) and the Tayyi’ as outlined earlier.
All primary evidence is in agreement, one accounting for a fact here, another there: Muhammad
appeared only after 632 AD, and he lived on as nobody reported the end of a personality whose
importance obviously did not escape the writers.
If the Tayyi’ had been on the path to Islam, Sebeos recognizes Mu’awiyah as their enemy. For him
or for Muhammad, he hints at Mosaic Law and a schism that may have brought forth a new way of
truth. Yet, the Muslim advance was here reset with the destruction of the Tayyi’ and the return of
Egypt to Constantinople – the ‘Arab’ conquest was over. This brief period in around the year 654 AD
between the schism and the destruction of the Tayyi’ will prove to be essential in understanding the
socio-religious environment that led to Islam. While not part of this publication, most of the many
parties and their whereabouts can be redefined by extrapolation and deduction from the dynastic past.
161
Sebeos, 37: In that year (654 AD) the Medes rebelled from Ishmaelite service and killed the Ishmaelite king’s prince [in charge] of taxation.[…]
For they were unable to bear the bitter and harsh service and the weight of the tax which had been imposed on them. […] For such reasons they
placed their lives in the balance and one out of two thought it better either to die, or to be freed from that wicked service. They started to
assemble the remaining people into an army and to organize by brigades so that perhaps they might escape the dragon’s teeth and the bitter breath
of the beast. […]
The Ishmaelite army was defeated by the T’etal army which struck at them and put them to the sword. […] a few [Arabs] escaped by a hairbreadth
[…]. Thus did they go to the Ctesiphon area, to the country of their habitation.
162
Sebeos, 38: Now Mushegh, lord of the Mamikoneans, rebelled in the Byzantine area and entered Ishmaelite service. And in that same year the
Ishmaelite army which was in the land of Armenia seized the entire country from end to end. T’eodoros, lord of Rshtunik’, and all the princes of
the land united and entered [Arab] service, hastening to do their bidding in every way, for fear of a terrible death hung over them.
163
Sebeos, 38: [The Arabs …] robbed the entire country of Armenia, Aghbania/ [Caucasian Albania, Albānia, Aguank, Ardhan, Arran; Rani], and
Siwnik’ [Syunik, Siunik, the southernmost region of Armenia], and denuded all the churches.
164
Sebeos, 38: Then God sent discord into the army of the sons of Ishmael. Their unity dissolved, they clashed with each other and divided into four
parts. One part was in the Indian area [the Arab Peninsula since Sebeos calls its inhabitants Indians]. Another was that army which held Asorestan
[Assyria, Babylon] and the northern areas. Another was the one in Egypt and in the T'etal region [from Xak’an, king of the Tetalats’ik’, north of
Armenia or perhaps the Levant]. Another was in the Tachik [Tayyi’] area and at the place called Askarawn [Basrah]. They began fighting with each
other and destroyed each other with endless killings. Now the troops who were in Egypt united with those in the Tachik area and they killed their
king and took the multitude of treasures as loot. They enthroned another king and returned to their places.
165
Sebeos, 38: Now when their prince Mu'awiya, who was in Asorestan and was second to their king, saw what had happened, he united his troops
and he too went to the desert. He killed the king whom they enthroned, battling with and severely destroying the troops in the Tachik area. He
then returned to Asorestan in triumph. Now the army which was in Egypt united with the Byzantine emperor, made peace and was incorporated.
The multitude of the troops, some 15,000 people, believed in Christ and were baptized. But the bloodshed of countless multitudes increased and
intensified among the Ishmaelite armies. They engaged in frantic battles and killed each other. Nor were they able to stop even somewhat from
wielding swords, taking captives and intense battles on land and sea, until Mu'awiya grew strong and conquered all of them. He subdued them,
ruled as king over the property of the sons of Ishmael and made peace with everyone.
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The Maronite Chronicle (ca. 664 AD)
The origin of the Maronites reaches back to fifth century Saint Mar Maron. The founder of the
Maronite Church would be John the Sarumite or popularly known as John Maron,
166
the first patriarch
in Antioch as of 686 AD. A new church indicates more religious turmoil in the Levant that would
become relevant after the Muhammadeans would break through. The chronicle appears to have been
composed before that critical moment and, for this reason, needs to be approached cautiously.
The relevant information that can be taken from the Maronite Chronicle is a confirmation that
Mu’awiyah had broken the peace settlement with the Byzantines,
167
and that he refused to submit to
Muhammad’s throne.
Furthermore, Muawiyah did not wear a crown like other kings in the world. He placed his throne in
Damascus and refused to go to Muhammad’s throne.
168
It cannot be stressed enough that the Maronite Chronicle sent a message to the future: there was
indeed a schism with the throne of MHMD in the mid-fifties. If it represented an institution or a title,
this fragmentation would have created two opposing MHMD thrones, but there is no trace of Islam,
other than some vague remarks about new but unspecified doctrines and a sermon that fails to fit into
a Koranic framework.
Indeed, bar Penkaye would later deliver a scenario how the Umayyads could have come to be
viewed as Muslims. As Mu’awiyah would be claimed to originally having been educated at the throne
of Muhammad
169
and since he had been prince or king of the Ishmaelites, later efforts by the dynasty
to reconcile the leader with Islam would turn him into a Muslim. Instead, like Sebeos, Penkaye would
suggest that the worship of one god was tied to the ancient Law, i.e. Messianic Judaism. Despite the
agreement, Penkaye falls to shortly after 692 AD and needs thus be ignored here. That Mu’awiyah had
been educated at the throne of Muhammad is anyway a strange thing to say: the former was born in
602 AD. Thus, the revelations could not have started until he was eight years old. Following tradition,
the migration to Medina was not until he was twenty and the siege of Medina in 627 AD not until he
was twenty-five, the earliest year when Muslim sources could consider the existence of a throne of
Muhammad. In other words, there was no throne of Prophet Muhammad at which Mu’awiyah could
have been educated unless the word Muhammad carried the meaning of an institution or a title or the
prophet appeared later.
The Maronite Chronicle portrays Mu’awiah as favoring the Maronite creed.
166
Youhana Maroun, 628 – 707 AD.
167
The Maronite Chronicle (664+ AD), from Andrew Palmer, Sebastian P. Brock, Robert G. Hoyland, The seventh century in the west-Syrian chronicles
(Liverpool University Press, 1993) 32: When Muawiyah had acquired the power which he had aimed at and was at rest from the wars of his
people, he broke the peace settlement with the Romans and refused to accept peace from them any longer.
168
Sebeos, 32.
169
John Bar Penkāyē's Riš Millē, Book XV, in Sebastian P. Brock, North Mesopotamia In The Late Seventh Century, Jerusalem Studies In Arabic And Islam
(Liverpool, 1987) 61: Having let their dispute run its course, after much fighting had taken place between them, the Westerners, whom they call
the sons of ’Ammāyē, gained the victory, and one of their number, a man called Muawiyah, became king controlling the two kingdoms, of the
Persians and of the Byzantines. Justice flourished in his time, and there was great peace in the regions under his control; he allowed everyone to
live as they wanted. For they held, as I have said above, an ordinance, stemming from the man who was their guide [mhaddyānā], concerning the
people of the Christians and concerning the monastic station. Also as a result of this man's guidance [mhaddyānūtā] they held to the worship of
One God, in accordance with the customs of ancient law. At the beginnings they kept to the traditions [mašlmānūtā] of Mụhammad, who was
their instructor [tā’rā], to such an extent that they inflicted the death penalty on anyone who was seen to act brazenly against his laws.
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[659 AD]: There was an earthquake in Palestine. A dispute was held between the Jacobites and the
Maronites “in the presence of Mu’awiya.” When the Jacobites were defeated, Mu’awiya ordered them
to pay 20,000 denarii. “So it became a custom for the Jacobite bishops that every year they give that
sum of gold to Mu’awiya so that he not lose his hand upon them.”
170
It is as difficult to accept a source that attests to its own victories as one that shines in polemics.
However, in the context of the primary documents of the time, it is hard to resist the inclusion of this
text. The distinction may be that Byzantine bishops continued to pay while Constantinople later
refused. But, if a mission of the Maronites is here attested, then researchers need to watch out for a
counter-mission that may manifest itself in Islam.
For Muhammad’s purpose, there is a throne of MHMD that was tied to Jewish Law from which
Mu’awiyah seceded, and the latter acts as protector of the Maronites.
The Chronicler of Khuzistan (ca. 665 AD)
The Chronicler wrote another attest to Muhammad. Khuzistan was the territory that had been
attributed to the Ispahbudhan Dynasty. It merits examination of the placement of this work on the
timeline as well:
And Yazdegerd, who was from the royal lineage, was crowned king in the city of Estakhr [June 16,
632 AD], and under him, the Persian Empire came to an end. And he went forth and came to
Mahoze [near Seleucia-Ctesiphon] and appointed one named Rustam as the leader of the army. Then
God raised up against them the sons of Ishmael, [numerous] as the sand on the sea shore, whose
leader [mdabbrana] was Muhammad [MHMD]. Neither walls nor gates, armor or shield, withstood
them, and they gained control over the entire land of the Persians. Yazdgird sent against them
countless troops, but the Arabs routed them all and even killed Rustam. Yazdgird shut himself up in
the walls of Mahoze and finally escaped by flight. He reached the country of the Huzaye
[Khuzestan]
171
and Mrwnaye [Merv of Margrave], where he ended his life. The Arabs gained control
of Mahoze and all the territory. They also came to Byzantine territory, plundering and ravaging the
entire region of Syria. Heraclius [Constans II],
172
the Byzantine king, sent armies against them, but the
Arabs killed more than 100,000 of them.
173
The Chronicle is typically well arranged, and a shift may be noted from Amr having been the king
of the Ishmaelites to Muhammad having slipped into his position, almost as if a legend had started to
evolve in the region of Khuzistan. Thus, the text might have been created post 692 AD.
The passage that ‘the Persian Empire came to an end’ serves as an introduction to highlight Yazdegerd’s
significance. The paragraph essentially spans his entire rule as the last Sasanid Emperor. Indicating
again a later edit, it is surprising that the author has come to a terminal conclusion so quickly as if
there was no possibility for a Persian comeback. What is the implication if it were authentic? Is the
170
The Maronite Chronicle (664+ AD), from Andrew Palmer, Sebastian P. Brock, Robert G. Hoyland, The seventh century in the west-Syrian chronicles
(Liverpool University Press, 1993) AG 970.
171
Khuzestan: from Old Persian Huza (Ahvaz region of writers in the early Islam era), Khuzi, Susian, Shushan, Khudhi, Khooji (Elamite Ooksin),
Sasan, or Safavid.
172
Although not part of this examination but for clarification of the author’s view, the Byzantine king Heraclius probably refers to Constans II
(Constans II or Konstas II, alias Constantine the Bearded, Konstantinos Pogonatos, was Byzantine Emperor 641 – 668 AD) who would have
been the Byzantine Emperor after the fall of the Persian capital. Constans was a nickname, and his real name was Herakleios.
173
Chronicler of Khuzistan (ca. 665 AD) 38-39.
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Chronicle trying to suggest that the empire’s internal forces had exhausted themselves or perhaps that
the dynasts had found a new arrangement of separatism beyond repair of the former establishment?
First
, Yazdegerd returns to the royal seat in Ctesiphon in 632 AD;
then
he appoints Rustam of
the Ispahbudhan Dynasty as his top general;
then
Muhammad makes his entry into the narrative for
the first time. The chronicle neither recognizes him as a prophet nor a religious leader. While the text
reports the victories of the Ishmaelites under Muhammad, Yazdegerd’s end in Merv (by treachery of
one Mahawayh [Mahuy/Mahoe Suri or his son Baraz]), and the taking of Ctesiphon by the Arabs (as
opposed to the Ishmaelites), it leaves the whereabouts of Muhammad open despite the fact that the
chronicler must have had the lasting impression that the Persian Empire was forever lost.
With this prerogative ─ yet again a Muhammad would have been active no sooner than 632/633
AD, and his activities could extend beyond the year 651 AD.
George of Resh’aina (d. ca. 680)
George of Resh’aina brings about another unusual twist: As Mu’awiyah had broken its pact with
Constantinople, so did the church in Rome. At the Lateran Council of 649 AD, Pope Martin I
174
and
Maximus the Confessor, both Eastern Christians, had torn down the Byzantine edict and ended the
issue of whether Jesus’s will was divine, human, or both.
175
For them, Jesus had two separate wills. This
council had been prepared before by Pope Theodore and Maximus, and it amounted to nothing less
than a declaration of war by the church in Rome against Constantinople.
The respective council was held in the Basilica of St. John Lateran ─ John the Baptist ─ and it was
the first that openly broke from the yoke of the emperor. However, the twenty canons of this council
are bizarre. The events in Rome fall together with the height of power of the Lombard Arian King
Rothari.
176
He had defeated the Byzantines in 645 AD. Moderns will thus never learn what was really
going on other than that the positions of Martin and Maximus have been wiped off the face of the
earth.
Resh’aina’s biography of Maximus is so hostile that one may wonder: at the time of his writing,
following the logic of the councils of 649 and 680 AD, he must have been aware that the supposed
doctrines of Maximus had made inroads and that they were about to be accepted into orthodoxy. He
makes a connection between the Arab incursion, with the changes in Rome, and what had happened
around Emperor Constans II. The passage can be placed between 651 and 654 AD, under the peace
agreement between Syria and Constantinople.
After Maximus went up to Rome, the Arabs seized control of the islands of the sea and entered
Cyprus and Arwad, ravaging them and taking captives. They gained control over Africa and subdued
almost all the islands of the sea; for, following the wicked Maximus, the wrath of God punished
every place which had accepted his error.
177
When Maximus saw that Rome had accepted the foul mire of his blasphemies, he also went down to
Constantinople at the time when Mu’awiya made peace with the emperor Constans, having started a
174
Pope Saint Martin I was pope from 649 to 653 AD. He was arrested in 653 AD and died in Constans’ confinement in 655 AD.
175
Lateran Council, 649 AD.
176
Rothari was king of the Lombards 636-652 AD.
177
George of Resh'aina, Syriac Life of Maximus XXIII, 312-13, p. 141.
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war with Abu Turab, the emir of Hira, at Siffin and defeated him.
178
With all primary evidence in agreement, the Arabs fall under Mu’awiya’s leadership. The text is not
entirely clear, but it seems that every place that had previously accepted Maximus’s ideas would later
easily be overrun by the Arabs, almost as if they were compatible with Maximus, not Islam.
While the Maronite Chronicle claimed a schism in the House of MHMT, Resh’aina takes this a step
further by mentioning conflicts with the emir of al-Hira, Abu Turab. Following tradition, he is none
less than Imam Ali, nicknamed man with the dust.
179
According to tradition, Ali would also be the fourth
Rashidun caliph,
180
the rightly guided, or the first in Twelver Shi’ism. While it constitutes a mystery
that Prophet Muhammad would neither be regarded as the first caliph nor the first Twelver, the
solution might again lie in a time shift and in an understanding of MHMT/MHMD shifting from an
institution to a title and then to an individual. To enforce this point, Shi’ites mourn the death of Husain
to this day with bloody rituals of self-flagellation for not having been able to come to his aid. The
absence of rituals for Muhammad’s death in the face of the importance of Husain is perhaps testimony
to an editorial lapse.
In traditions, Abu Turab (Ali) is part of the alleged dialogues between Emperor Leo III and Caliph
Umar II in a trio that had composed Surat 25, Al-Furqan. The three authors were Abu Turab from al-
Hira, Umar I, and Salman the Persian
181
from Kazerun in the Fars province or Isfahan.
182
The majority
of scholars might disagree: these dialogues come across as an attempt to create a new collective
memory and establish historicity through forged traditions, of Surat Al-Furqan in particular. It can
thus not hold as a primary evidence, certainly not for the seventh century. However, the absence of
Muhammad in the alleged creation of this Surat is perplexing and provokes a fundamental question:
should the creation of the Koran be viewed as (partly) independent from Prophet Muhammad?
Instead, the Persian governor Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf who would push for the Muslim currency and the
Arab language, is accused of having replaced ancient books with those now disseminated in Arabic.
Among those switched are other works of Abu Turab of which some survived – as if referring to parts
of the Koran. Despite the jittery evidence, it begs the question whether Abu Turab, one of the other
178
Resh'aina, XXV, 313, p. 141.
179
Bukhari 5:57:53, 8:74:297
Also 8:73:223: The most beloved names to ‘Ali was Abu Turab, and he used to be pleased when we called him by it, for none named him Abu
Turab (for the first time), but the Prophet. Once ‘Ali got angry with (his wife) Fatima, and went out (of his house) and slept near a wall in the
mosque. The Prophet came searching for him, and
someone said, “He is there, Lying near the wall.” The Prophet came to him while his (‘Ali’s)
back was covered with dust. The Prophet started removing the dust from his back, saying, “Get up, O Abu Turab!” (i.e. O man with the dust).
180
Abu Bakr (632-634), Umar (634-644), Uthman (644-656), Ali (656-661).
Armenia had been under constant pursuit by Byzantine and Sasanian rulers to enter an alliance with either of the two, leading to shifting alliances
and religious turmoil. Rshtuniq, north-west of Lake Van, was the home turf of the Rshtunis a royal house that claimed ancestry to Rusas I of
Urartu. However, Thodoros Rshtuni’s Byzantine predecessor allies were not Rshtunis:
Mzhezh or Mjej Gnuni (630-635, proposed union of Greek and Armenian churches), David Saharuni (635-638), Theodoros Rshtuni (Byzantine
638-655), loss of Bznunik to Hamazasp II Mamikonian who also married Rshtuni’s daughter (656).
181
Alternative names of Salman the Persian are (Rouzbeh, 'Abd Allah or Abdulola, Abu Al Kitabayn (father of the two books [which two?]), or
Luqman al-Hakeem.
182
Robert G. Hoyland Seeing Islam as Others Saw It (Darwin, 1997): It was ‘Umar, Turab, and Salman the Persian who composed that (your
P’ourkan), even though the rumour has got around among you that God sent it down from the heavens … As for your [Book], you have already
given us examples of such falsifications and one knows among others of a certain Hajjaj, named by you as governor of Persia, who had men
gather your ancient books, which he replaced by others composed by himself according to his taste and which he disseminated everywhere in your
nation, because it was easier by far to undertake such a task among a people speaking a single language. From this destruction, nevertheless, there
escaped a few of the works of Abu Turab, for Hajjaj could not make them disappear completely.
[I would like to thank Ahmed Rasmy for reminding me of this text.]
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three, or perhaps a pair might have been sitting on the throne of MHMT. Following the logic of
Twelver Shi’ism, Ali would be the first Imam of MHMT (not Muhammad), and what emerges in the
historical record was not among the Twelver. The implications for the creation of the Koran would be
wide open from ‘an improved edition’ to an entirely new work.
The House of Ali (of which Abu Turab may have been the leading member) was now in open
conflict with Mu’awiya who had before broken off from the throne of Muhammad, and the Syrian
was successful in those places where Maximus had found his converts (hence the crosses?). Does the
schism indicate a succession of Muhammad around 654 or a continuation as spiritual leader of the
House of Ali? Does this imply that the predecessors of Abu Turab in Al-Hira may have been in control
of an expanding caliphate that had followed the footsteps of Maximus and even touched Rome?
In order to restore obedience, Emperor Constans
183
ordered the arrest of Pope Martin and
Maximus. The emperor had accused the pope of conspiring with the Saracens (at this time under
Mu’awiya), which Pope Martin denied.
At no time did I send letters to the Saracens nor, as some say, a statement (tomus) as to what they
should believe; neither did I ever dispatch money, except only to those servants of God travelling to
that place for the sake of alms, and the little which we supplied to them was certainly not conveyed
to the Saracens
184
It is an anti-evidence for the Umayyads (and perhaps also the Saracens) adhering to Islam in which
it becomes clear that an inner-Christian church dispute had rocked the region under the leadership of
Constans and his opponents and later prisoners Maximus and Martin. Obviously, the papacy was well
informed about the Saracens early on. The pope must have been hostile toward orthodoxy since a
series of Greek puppet pontiffs would afterwards be dispatched to Rome to clean up the evidence.
It is curious to note that John of Damascus did not provide for an entry of Maximus or of this
heresy in his Fount of Knowledge. Could it be possible that he may not have viewed Maximus as a
heretic? Given that John’s family was attached to high positions in the Umayyad administration, the
answer to the mystery seems fairly obvious.
In fear of losing Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire was moved to Syracuse in
Sicily in 668 AD. Constantinople was administered by Emperor Constans’s son Constantine, but the
emperor was assassinated by one of his Greek servants during another military revolt. This attests to
a rift so deep that the Byzantine Empire and with it the spiritual idea that shook up the natures of
Jesus was on the brink of collapse.
183
Constans II was Byzantine emperor from 641 to 668 AD.
184
Pope Martin, Ep. 14, PL 87, 199A, (ca. 653 AD).
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The Sixth Ecumenical Council in 680-681 AD
Constantine did finally put an end to the earlier decree of Jesus’s single will and also to the revolt
at home. Yet, at the Sixth Ecumenical Council in 680-681 AD, the Maronite creed was declared a
heresy. The council was all about affirming or defining the nature and will of the Trinity and of Jesus:
185
the Trinity has one nature and one will while Jesus has two of each.
Since Pope Martin and Maximus had been arrested, the new popes in Rome had been sent from
Constantinople. The church chose a strategy to silencing the issue or burning the evidence.
186
Those
that disagreed were exiled,
187
imprisoned, or terminated.
The downside of the newfound ‘peace’ with the church was that a number of holy people had to
be declared heretics
188
and be dishonored — including former Pope Honorius,
189
who had supported
Heraclius’s idea of Jesus’s single will. Yet, the damage was inflicted, new opposition had been created,
and the papacy in Rome would break off for good only a few decades later. Eventually, the pope, then
Gregory,
190
would visit Constantinople for the first time in the 710s, not to return for more than a
thousand years. He wore a triple crown, the Tiara, which symbolizes the king of the Papal States and
the king of kings. Rome would finally come to have found a footing for an emancipated Catholic
Church and papal autonomy while the Byzantine might would shrink to a mere nation. The changes
of the seventh century were so profound that the entire secular and religious landscape of the world
had turned on its head.
The council got by without mentioning Maximus the Confessor unless he was known under a
different name. Instead, it singled out Patriarch Macarius of Antioch (in the territory of the Umayyads)
and his disciple Stephen as ringleaders. Stephen was viewed as the master,
“who tried to defend the impiety
of their predecessors, and in short stirred up the whole world, and by their pestilential letters and by their fraudulent
institutions devastated multitudes in every direction.”
191
In the same breath, the council mentions
Polychronius:
Likewise also that old man Polychronius, with an infantile intelligence, who promised he would raise
the dead and who when they did not rise, was laughed at; and all who have taught, or do teach, or
185
Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series II, Volume 14, letter of Pope Agatho (Grand Rapids, 1892) 634-635: […] we confess the
holy and inseparable Trinity, that is, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, to be of one deity, of one nature and substance or essence, so we will
profess also that it has one natural will, power, operation, domination, majesty, potency, and glory. […]
But when we make a confession concerning one of the same three Persons of that Holy Trinity, of the Son of God, or God the Word, and of the
mystery of his adorable dispensation according to the flesh, we assert that all things are double in the one and the same our Lord and Saviour
Jesus Christ according to the Evangelical tradition, that is to say, we confess his two natures, to wit the divine and the human, of which and in
which he, even after the wonderful and inseparable union, subsists. And we confess that each of his natures has its own natural propriety, and that
the divine, has all things that are divine, without any sin. […]
but we say that as the same our Lord Jesus Christ has two natures so also he has two natural wills and operations, to wit, the divine and the
human: the divine will and operation he has in common with the coessential Father from all eternity: the human, he has received from us, taken
with our nature in time.
186
Schaff, Excursus on the Condemnation of Pope Honorius, 665: [Honorius’s] two letters were ordered to be burned at the same session.
187
Schaff, The Imperial Edict, 667: Whoever did not obey the imperial edict should, if he were a bishop or cleric be deposed; if an official, punished
with confiscation of property and loss of the girdle (ζνη); if a private person, banished from the residence and all other cities.
188
Schaff, Session XVI, 654: To Theodore of Pharan, the heretic, anathema! To Sergius, the heretic, anathema! To Cyrus, the heretic, anathema! To
Honorius, the heretic, anathema! To Pyrrhus, the heretic, anathema! To Paul the heretic, anathema! To Peter the heretic, anathema! To Macarius
the heretic, anathema! To Stephen the heretic, anathema! To Polychronius the heretic, anathema! To Apergius of Perga the heretic, anathema!
189
Pope Honorius reigned 625 - 638 AD.
190
Pope Gregory was king of the Papal State 713 – 731 AD.
191
Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series II, Volume 14, The Prosphoneticus to the Emperor (Grand Rapids, 1892) 660.
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shall presume to teach one will and one operation in the incarnate Christ.”
192
Polychronius claimed supremacy of Jerusalem over all other bishoprics, including Constantinople
and Rome. If this discreet sideline is what it was about, then researchers might need to prepare
themselves for a stubborn claim to return from different factions within little time from this council.
That the supreme pontiff of Christianity should sit on top of the Temple Mount is suggested by the
handover of the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven by Jesus to Peter.
193
The council failed to touch on the subjects of either Muhammad or Islam. Instead, the authors of
evil were Christian or Judaic insiders.
194
If a Muslim faith existed, then the council’s focus was nothing
short of a surreal denial of reality. Did they turn a blind eye to the world-changing events unfolding
under their feet? Since there is still no primary evidence attesting to Islam, the new religion must have
been inconsequential, and the Umayyads may have been unaware of it also.
However, the council might serve up a mosaic of names that presents itself with different titles
from the opposing perspective. If so, the lack of evidence still prohibits putting the pieces together.
P. Nessana 77 (late 680s)
Two caches of papyri were found in the 1930s in the church of Theotokos and in the church of
Saints Sergius and Bacchus in the village of Nessana in southern Israel/Palestina. The verso of papyrus
77 contained an Arab text with two letters that provide a faint testimony from the Second Fitna.
(Letter 1)
1. In the name [of God] the Merciful, the Compassionate.
2. From [Bayān ibn] Qays to Yazīd ibn al-Aswad and ‘Ubaydall[āh] ibn […]
3. Pea[ce] upo[n you. I praise for you God beside Whom] there is no other god.
4. God does not like wrong-doing or corruption and as regards you, I did not
5. appoint you to a job for you to act sinfully in it and behave unjustly in any way with regard to
6. that. What you grieve for and complain about [is …. to you].
7. [ … ]
8. and [ … ] taking possession. Indeed your way of thinking is despicable.
9. [ … ] and you take the (financial) worth of it even though I have
10. [ … ], for as regards Yazīd ibn Fā’id there is not due to him
11. [ … ] due to him payment, and the people of Nessana have the protection of God
12. and the protection of His mess[eng]er. So do not reckon that we acquiesce to your
13. corruption and injustice in respect of it. When this letter of mine reaches you, then [….]
14. what I [ … ], and by God do not [...] from it
192
Ibid.
193
Matthew 16:17–19: blessed are you, Simon Bar Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. I also tell
you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it. I will give to you the keys of the
Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven; and whatever you release on earth will have been released
in heaven.
194
Schaff, Letter of Pope Agatho, 634-635: But as the author of evil, who, in the beginning, availed himself of the aid of the serpent, and by it
brought the poison of death upon the human race, has not desisted, but in like manner now, having found suitable instruments for working out
his will (we mean Theodorus, who was Bishop of Pharan, Sergius, Pyrrhus, Paul and Peter, who were Archbishops of this royal city, and
moreover, Honorius who was Pope of the elder Rome, Cyrus Bishop of Alexandria, Macarius who was lately bishop of Antioch, and Stephen his
disciple), has actively employed them in raising up for the whole Church the stumbling-blocks of one will and one operation in the two natures of
Christ our true God, one of the Holy Trinity; thus disseminating, in novel terms, amongst the orthodox people, an heresy similar to the mad and
wicked doctrine of the impious Apollinaris, Severus, and Themistius, and endeavouring craftily to destroy the perfection of the incarnation of the
same our Lord Jesus Christ, our God, by blasphemously representing his flesh endowed with a rational soul as devoid of will or operation.
Schaff, 659: But because the adversary Satan allows no rest, he has raised up the very ministers of Christ against him, as if armed and carrying
weapons, etc. [this is followed by the same list of heretics].
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15. […] unjustly or else I will take it in advance from your assets until such time as I am satisfied that
16. whoever of you is doing that [will be p]enal[ised] in respect of his wealth. So know that!
17. May God […] goodness and not lead you astray. It is incumbent (on you to choose) between two
separate things: either
18. […] Peace be upon you and the mercy of God.
(Letter 2)
19. [In the n]ame of God the Merciful, the Compassionate.
20. [Fr]om Bayān ibn Qays to Yazīd ibn Fā’id. Peace be upon you and I praise
21. for you God beside whom there is no other god. Further: I was not
22. awa[re] that Ibn usayn was wresting from you a village that you are (supposedly) in charge of.
So if
23. [ ] off him, then do so; otherwise, let us dispatch to it
24. someone who can take full charge of it. Peace upon you and the mercy of God.
195
Having found these documents in a church that venerates Mary, the Godmother and in one that
adores the saints Sergius and Bacchus is an indication of Syriac and possibly Ghassanid religious
involvement. According to tradition, Saint Sergius was a Roman soldier who was beheaded for
Christianity during Emperor Diocletian’s persecutions at the beginning of the fourth century. The
Sergius cult started from the mid-fifth century with a text The Passion of Sergius and Bacchus. Not only
Emperor Justinian I and the Ghassanid Saracen King Al-Mundhir had patronized Saint Sergius as
protector of the army but also the Sasanid Xosrov II (likely in his former alliance with the Byzantine
Empire). Muawiyah, it needs to be recalled, had prayed at the tomb of Mary in Gethsemane and at the
Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
196
Since there is no connection to Sergius in Muslim traditions and only
a negative one with the Theotokos, it seems that the “civil war” between around 680 and 692 might
have been a religious war with an emerging Islam that may finally have overwhelmed the territories of
Syriac and Maronite Christianity as well as others – in response to the spiritual turmoil in Orthodoxy.
A conclusion that this document might constitute the first historical evidence of the Dhimmi (the
right of residence for non-Muslims in exchange for extorting a special tax from them) might be
premature. The concept of taxation of the conquered as an inferior class, as perhaps described in the
letter, has existed for centuries before and is not an innovation of Islam.
Like PERF 558 from a few decades earlier, the letters contain the Bismilla, but again with leaving
out the prophet other than mentioning a messenger as the protector that may be alive. It by no means
confirms that this messenger is Prophet Muhammad since there could be a string of such messengers.
They only confirm that an unspecified group believed in one God, which would be the position of
the sender of both letters, Bayan ibn Qays, who may report to a messenger. This seems to be a similar
language as coming out of Basrah.
195
Edition and translation of P.Nessana 77, recto, extracted from Robert Hoyland, The earliest attestation of the Dhimma of God and His
Messenger and the rediscovery of P. Nessana 77 (AH 60s/AD 680) in B. Sadeghi, A. Ahmed, R. Hoyland and A. Silverstein, eds., Islamic
Contexts, Islamic Cultures: Essays in Honor of Professor Patricia Crone (Brill; Leiden, 2014).
196
J. Green und Y. Tsafrir, Greek Inscriptions from Hammat Gader: A Poem by the Empress Eudocia and Two Building Inscriptions, Israel
Exploration Journal, Vol. 32, Nos. 2-3, Jerusalem 1982, p. 31: [In] Constan’s eighteenth year [659 AD], many Arabs gathered at Jerusalem and
made Muawiyah king and he went up and sat down on Golgotha [the Church of the Holy Sepulchre]; he prayed there, and went to Gethsemane
and went down to the tomb of the blessed Mary to pray in it.
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The word messenger in the direct sense is only once
197
part of Bukhari’s inadmissible traditions.
Otherwise it refers to a courier or an angel, or it is presented in derogatory forms.
198
In one instance,
the messenger comes along as part of a definition in reference to the Old Testament
199
and in another its
meaning is unclear and could also refer to an angel.
200
The same problem of the messenger is presented
in the Koran. There, it usually means angels
201
as the news agents of God that, in one instance,
announce revelations to a compatriot.
202
Sometimes, it is a synonym for Biblical prophets,
203
Moses and
Aaron in particular
204
as well as Noah, Abraham, and Lot, or it means lay messengers.
205
It refers a
couple of times to Prophet Muhammad by interpolation only.
206
The usage of the term messenger would
thus at least be unusual, not the least since the formula peace be upon him is missing. In just a few years,
Muhammad would emerge in the evidence as Apostle of God, instead, a term much more in line with
his comparative standing to Jesus Christ and his apostles.
197
Bukhari, 4:53:386: Narrated Jubair bin Haiya: […] Al-Mughira replied, "We are some people from the Arabs; we led a hard, miserable, disastrous
life: we used to suck the hides and the date stones from hunger; we used to wear clothes made up of fur of camels and hair of goats, and to
worship trees and stones. While we were in this state, the Lord of the Heavens and the Earths, Elevated is His Remembrance and Majestic is His
Highness, sent to us from among ourselves a Prophet whose father and mother are known to us. Our Prophet, the Messenger of our Lord, has
ordered us to fight you till you worship Allah Alone or give Jizya (i.e. tribute); and our Prophet has informed us that our Lord says: "Whoever
amongst us is killed (i.e. martyred), shall go to Paradise to lead such a luxurious life as he has never seen, and whoever amongst us remain alive,
shall become your master." […]
198
Bukhari, 2:23:437: […] the Prophet stroked him with his hand and said to him, "Do you testify that I am Allah's Apostle?" Ibn Saiyad looked at
him and said, "I testify that you are the Messenger of illiterates."
199
Bukhari, 3:34:335: Narrated Ata bin Yasar: I met Abdullah bin 'Amr bin Al-'As and asked him, "Tell me about the description of Allah's Apostle
which is mentioned in Torah (i.e. Old Testament.") He replied, 'Yes. By Allah, he is described in Torah with some of the qualities attributed to
him in the Quran as follows: […].
200
Bukhari, 4:56:793: And any of you, when meeting Allah, will meet Him without needing an interpreter between him and Allah to interpret for him,
and Allah will say to him: 'Didn't I send a messenger to teach you?'
201
Koran 15:80: And the people of HEDJR treated God's messengers as liars.
Koran 43:24: Wherefore we took vengeance on them, and behold what hath been the end of those who treated our messengers as liars.
Koran 20:96: He said, "And what was thy motive, O Samiri?" He said, "I saw what they saw not: so I took a handful of dust from the track of the
messenger of God, and flung it into the calf, for so my soul prompted me."
Koran 19:19: He said: "I am only a messenger of thy Lord, that I may bestow on thee a holy son."
Koran 11:62: These men of Ad gainsaid the signs of their Lord, and rebelled against his messengers, and followed the bidding of every proud
contumacious person.
Koran 11:72: And our messengers came formerly to Abraham with glad tidings. (see also 29:31)
Koran 11:79: And when our messengers came to Lot, he was grieved for them; and he was too weak to protect them, and he said, "This is a day
of difficulty." (see also 29:33)
Koran 11:83: The Angels said, "O Lot! verily, we are the messengers of thy Lord:
Koran 42:51: Or, He sendeth a messenger to reveal, by his permission, what He will: for He is Exalted, Wise! Thus have we sent the Spirit
(Gabriel) to thee with a revelation, by our command.
Koran 10:22: Verily, our messengers note down your plottings.
Koran 6:61: Supreme over his servants, He sendeth forth guardians who watch over you, until, when death overtaketh any one of you, our
messengers take his soul, and fail not:
202
Koran 81:19-81:23: That this is the word of an illustrious Messenger, Endued with power, having influence with the Lord of the Throne,
Obeyed there by Angels, faithful to his trust, And your compatriot is not one possessed by djinn; For he saw him in the clear horizon:
203
Koran 7:57-7:60: Of old sent We Noah to his people, and he said, "O my people! worship God. Ye have no God but Him: indeed I fear for you
the chastisement of the great day." The chiefs of his people said, "We clearly see that thou art in a palpable error." He said, "There is no error in
me, O my people! but I am a messenger from the Lord of the Worlds. I bring to you the messages of my Lord, and I give you friendly counsel;
for I know from God what ye know not.
Koran 7:35: And who is worse than he who deviseth a lie of God, or treateth our signs as lies? To them shall a portion here below be assigned in
accordance with the Book of our decrees, until the time when our messengers, as they receive their souls, shall say, "Where are they on whom ye
called beside God?"
Koran 22:74 (as addressing both, prophets and angels): God chooseth messengers from among the angels and from among men: verily, God
Heareth, Seeth.
204
Koran 26:15: And go to Pharaoh and say: 'Verily we are the messengers of the Lord of the worlds - Send forth with us the children of Israel."'
205
For example Koran 27:36: And when the messenger came to Solomon, he said, "Aid ye me with riches? But what God hath given to me is better
than what he hath given you: yet ye glory in your gifts:
206
Koran 98:1-98:2: The unbelievers among the people of the Book, and the Polytheists, did not waver, until the CLEAR EVIDENCE had come to
them; A messenger from God, reciting to them the pure pages wherein are true Scriptures!
Perhaps Koran 29:17, which in self-reference probably also speaks of an angel since the successive examples speak of angels as the messengers
(29:31, 29:33): Suppose that ye treat me as a liar! Nations before you have treated God's messenger as a liar; but open preaching is his only duty.
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On the receiving end of one of these two threatening letters is Yazīd ibn al-Aswad. While nothing
is known about him, his linage
207
may provide for some hints: his son may be Abu Imran,
208
a celebrated
imam and doctor.
209
This religious leader’s an-Nakha ancestry is claimed to going back to Kufa/Al
Hira during the time of Muhammad of the traditions. An-Nakha is one of the main branches of the
Madhhij tribe that may earlier have migrated from Yemen to the Al-Hira region.
The documents reveal nothing about the involvement of ‘Ubaydall[āh] ibn […] other than that he
also was a recipient of the commands by Bayan that failed to please the leader.
It seems that ibn Husayn had conquered a town that was under the control of Yazid. The latter
was reporting to Bayan. However, the information is just not enough to provide for an identity of ibn
Husayn either. If there is a connection to the successors of the House of Ali, then the document
suggests that Bayan had the upper hand at this time, and ibn Husayn still resisted. Did the House of
Ali perhaps fight the new (Islamic?) leaders as long as or even longer than Syria under the Umayyads?
Coinage of the 680s
Zoroastrian coins now suggest a challenge by
the Kharijites to the Umayyad leadership.
210
However, Zubayr’s coins from his capital city
Kerman
211
were minted in 681-682 AD in the
Persian Pahlavi script and language, apparently
addressing the local population. Their source is
again close to the modern borders of Afghanistan,
in the east of Iran, and the Tamgha and Sogdian legends on the coins indicate an alliance with the
White Huns.
212
The city of Kerman, from where the mint KRMNAN-NAR (Narmashir) originates, was
a Zoroastrian and Karijite center, and the latter would be persecuted there in 698 AD.
207
(Ibrahim ibn) Yazid ibn al-Aswad ibn Amr ibn Rabia ibn Haritha, ibn Saad ibn Malik ibn an-Nakha an Nakhai.
208
Abu Imran, nicknamed Abu Ammar, Abu Imran (Ibrahim ibn) Yazid ibn al-Aswad ibn Amr ibn Rabia ibn Haritha, died 713/714 AD.
209
Ibn Khallikan, Biographical Dictionary (Paris, 1843) vol. 1, 6.
210
Angelika Neuwirth, Stefan Heidemann, The Qur’an in Context: Historical and Literary Investigations into the Qur’an (Brill, 2009) 188: The Kharijite
leaders […] placed distinctive religious slogans on their coins challenging the claim of the Umayyads to rule, with the expression that there is only
guidance by God. The Kharijite beliefs, though, were not at all a common denominator among all Muslims.
211
Neuwirth, 166: Zubayr’s name first appeared on coins of Kirman in 681-2. In the year 684, after the death of the Umayyad caliph Yazid, the coins
show that he assumed the imperial title “amir of the believers.” In the year 687, his brother Mus’ab secured Basra, Iraq and the territories to the
east as far as Sijistan. The Umayyads seemed to have lost their cause.
212
Coins exist from the White Huns with Zoroastrian and Buddhist symbolism united in one. They are known to having been Buddhists, Hindus,
Zoroastrians, and Manicheans.
Coinarchives: AR Drachm (31mm, 3.46 g, 3h). Imitating a Post-Yazdgerd year 37 drachm from the AY mint. Crowned Sassanian style bust right;
Sogdian tamgha and legend in margin / Fire altar flanked by attendants; star and crescent flanking flames. Göbl, Dokumente –; CNG 87, lot 799;
CNG 60, 1090-1 (same dies). VF, lightly toned. […]
This coin and related imitations (cf. CNG 60, 1090-6 and the previous lot) were struck after the deposition of bin Ziyad in the same Khorasanian
locality, by the same Sogdian speaking peoples. The group minting these imitations was plainly impartial to whether the prototype was Sasanian
(with Khusro II types) or Arab-Sasanian, imitating either ‘Abd Allah bin Khazim or Salm bin Ziyad. However, the omnipresence of the tamgha
and Sogdian legends (in countermark or engraveur) indicates that an association with Sogdian Hephthalite groups is the most important factor in
the coins' production and identity.
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In 685 AD, the text ‘amir of the believers’ emerges but does not provide a clue to any specific
creed. That these coins still contain Zoroastrian iconography with the fire altar and its attendants
213
means first and foremost that Zoroastrians were still in charge.
Coinage of az-Zubair reveals that attempts were made to end a ‘civil’ war with a truce. Part of that
agreement seems to have been that az-Zubair rose to be the caliph (or counter-caliph) and al-Malik
governor of Syria. It is the same year that Husain was killed, according to tradition. Also at the same
time, al-Mukhtār helped establish another counter caliph,
214
Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah of the
House of Ali. The latter was believed to be the Mahdi, and he would submit to, or become the spiritual
leader of, or succumb to the sword of al-Malik before 692 AD. According to tradition, he was buried
in Jerusalem. The downside of the latter is the absence of primary evidence attesting to this holy man
dead or alive. Yet, is it conceivable that earlier writers that had started to use the name Muhammad in
various forms referred to him rather than another?
In 685 AD, the same year of Az-Zubair’s rise to the top of the caliphate, Al-Malik appears on a
coin in connection with Muhammad. He was again branded governor of az-Zubair.
215
The latter minted
coins in 685 AD imprinted with ‘bismillah Muhammad rasul Allah,’ in the name of God, Muhammad is the
messenger of God. This provides for a first instance of the Bismillah joined with Muhammad, which may
perhaps indicate only a Muhammad as a spiritual leader on the path to Islam. This might be the missing
primary evidence attesting to Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah as the current messenger of God who
perhaps found himself here at the dusk of a career that may have been up to six decades in the making.
This scenario raises more questions than providing for answers but begs for further exploration. If he
was the central figure, how and why was he depreciated or nullified in the traditional accounts?
Az-Zubair, was then found on a coin dated 686, identified as caliph. A coin minted under Muawiyah
depicts a cross that is crowned by a crescent. A Syrian coin from 686 or 687 again shows a ruler with
Byzantine royal head dress holding a cross in conjunction with the imprint Muhammad, indicating
either an unlikely theological evolution from accepting the Crucifixion to denying it or a sectarian
fragmentation that must reach beyond the beginnings of Islam. However, the possible presence of
Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah put the notion that
Muhammad could simply constitute a Christological
title (for chosen/praised) into serious doubt. Since
the iconography is literally the same as on the coin
mentioned in the 650s, it could either belong to the
same Muhammad alive or the placement on the
timeline of the older specimen might need to be
questioned.
213
Mus'ab b. al-Zubayr (AH 67-72 / AD 685-690). AR drachm (30mm, 4.08 gm, 9h). KRMAN-NAR (Narmashir) mint, year AH 70, with Pahlavi
GDH in ObQ3, countermarked lillah in ObQ4. Album Checklist 17. Very rare, particularly with countermark. Choice Extremely Fine.
214
It gets even more complicated when a coin dated 690 AD, again from the same stamp series, bears the name of Atiya b. al-Aswad, Kharijite
caliph, and “in the name of God, possessor of the command.” Another mint dated 700 AD bore the name of Abd al-Rahman b. Muhammad, also
one who rebelled against al-Malik.
215
Stephen Album, Tony Goodwin, Sylloge of Islamic Coins in the Ashmolean: The Pre-Reform Coinage of the early Islamic Period (Ashmolean, 2002) page
22. Year 66 is Walker Sch.5 (p.97) for year 67, see Spink Zurich, 17 March 1987, lot 376.
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A five year gap in between az-Zubair’s presence on coins and the first mention of MHMD remains
unexplained, in particular in the face of a competitor (of the traditions) by the name of Muhammad
from the House of Ali. Could it be that both, the Persian az-Zubair and the Syrian al-Malik fell to the
throne of MHMT in al-Hira that was led by a MHMD (and may possibly have moved to Mecca)?
An indication to such weakness in Syria is the advance of Justinian II in pursuit of the Maronites
(as part of the Maradite army). It looks like Justinian had not approved of John Maron becoming the
Patriarch of Antioch. However, Ibrahim, John’s nephew, drove the Justinian army back. John, like
Maximus before him, campaigned against the heresy of a single will of Jesus, although, if one follows
the consensus, he must have been beating a dead horse.
John, Bishop of Nikiu (ca. 650s or 680s AD)
Since the account of John ends in the 650s, Hoyland proposed an early composition. However, the
text poses a number of challenges. Since John does not touch on Muhammad until the very end of
his chronicle, the prospect of later edits is fairly strong. The problem of missing pages in his account
from between 610 and 640 AD only strengthens this perception and could extend to missing pages at
the end. On the other hand, it could merely indicate a rushed fix of an otherwise fairly consistent text.
John clearly recognized a distinct religion of the Mhaggraye. Critical scholars dismiss the word Islam in
the text as an outright fabrication, a position that had also been held by Deus. However, there seems
to have been a progression from Elijah bar Kabsha, the chief of the Tayyi’ MHMT, to Muhammad
being the spiritual leader of the Mhaggraye, and later to the Tayyi’ Mhaggraye, through the MHMD Mahdi,
and finally to Islam. Thus, if one were to take the text as authentic, then it must be a later composition
from what was seen so far. Coins with Menorahs or crosses with the imprint MHMD suggest an
originally ecumenical approach that might have been lost in history but is still traceable in the Koran
where the Torah and the Gospel, respectively Jews and Christians are proclaimed integral parts of the
new teachings.
The most important message in John is probably what is not said: he does not report about any
specifics of this new faith.
When John finally gets to Muhammad, like all others, the chronology is post the lifetime of the
Prophet Muhammad of the traditions. The following passage falls to 645 AD, after the failure of
Valentinus to usurp the throne from Constans (Herakleios).
216
And Abba Benjamin, the patriarch of the Egyptians, returned to the city of Alexandria in the
thirteenth year after his flight from the Romans, and he went to the Churches, and inspected all of
them. And every one said: “This expulsion (of the Romans) and victory of the Mhaggraye is due to
the wickedness of the emperor Heraclius and his persecution of the Orthodox through the patriarch
Cyrus. This was the cause of the ruin of the Romans and the subjugation of Egypt by the
216
Nikiû, CXX, 61-63: And in those days there arose great troubles through Valentine; for he had assumed the imperial robes and sought to make
himself emperor. But when the people of Constantinople heard, they arose against him, and straightway he put off the (imperial) robes.
And forthwith they seized him and conducted him before the emperor Constans. And he sware a terrible oath to this effect: ‘I have not done this
with any evil intent, hut in order to contend against the Moslem.’
And when they heard this statement, they set him free and made him commander-in-chief of the army, and arranged with him that he should give
his daughter in marriage to the emperor. […]
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Mhaggraye.”
217
Benjamin returned to Alexandria in 644 or 645 AD.
218
The victory of the Mhaggraye over Egypt
(not Syria) falls after Heraclius’s wickedness, and Constans seems to have been forced to deal with it.
And Amr became stronger every day in every field of his activity. And he exacted the taxes which
had been determined upon, but he took none of the property of the Churches, and he committed no
act of spoliation or plunder, and he preserved them throughout all his days.
219
Previous writers had complained about the aggressive behavior of the Mhaggraye, but John
repositions them as friendly. This is followed by the abolishment of crushing new taxes that had been
introduced before the arrival of the Mhaggraye. Economic reasons may have led the population of
Alexandria to defect,
220
but placing the text late reveals its rationalizing qualities.
Muhammad only now finds his entry into the stage of John’s history:
And now many of the Egyptians who had been false Christians denied the holy orthodox faith and
lifegiving baptism, and embraced the religion of the Mhaggraye, the enemies of God, and accepted
the detestable doctrine of the beast, this is, Mohammed, and they erred together with those idolaters,
and took arms in their hands and fought against the Christians.
And one of them, named John, the Chalcedonian of the Convent of Sinai, embraced the faith of
Islam, and quitting his monk’s habit he took up the sword, and persecuted the Christians who were
faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ.
221
The remark about a Muhammad as a contemporary ‘beast’ places the prophet possibly alive after
645. It also puts the prophet to the Mhaggraye with distinct doctrines and separate from the one that
had arrived with the Saracens. Thus, the polemical passage finds its origin under the impression of a
matured form of proto-Islam that may lie after its breakthrough moment when Islam could be
commonly recognized. By the 660s, this is certainly not the case, which implies that the passage was
either added or John’s work was published later.
According to tradition, the trio of God’s drawn sword — the military commander al-Walid,
222
the
military magician Amr Al-’As,
223
and the clever politician Abu Bakr
224
— were engaged in establishing
and spreading Islam post Muhammad. Abu Bakr was the second caliph; al-Walid was the military
advisor; and Amr Al-’As was the executioner. Similar to earlier texts, the latter was termed “chief of the
Mhaggraye”
225
by the bishop, while neither al-Walid nor Abu Bakr was noteworthy. It thus appears that
217
Nikiû, CXXI, 1-2.
218
631+13=644.
219
Nikiû, CXXI, 3.
220
Nikiû, CXXI, 4-9: He [John of the city of Damietta] had been appointed by the governor Theodore, and had lent his aid to the Moslem [Saracen]
in order to prevent their destruction of the city. Now he had been appointed prefect of the city of Alexandria when ‘Amr entered it […]
‘Amr deposed Menas and appointed John in his stead. Now this Menas had increased the taxes of the city, which ‘Amr had fixed at 22,000 gold
dinars, and the sum which the apostate Menas got together was 32,057 gold dinars — he appointed for the Moslem [Saracen].
And none could recount the mourning and lamentation which took place in that city: they even gave their children in exchange for the great sums
which they had to pay monthly. And they had none to help them, and God destroyed their hopes, and delivered the Christians into the hands of
their enemies.
221
Nikiû, CXXI, 10-11.
222
Khalid ibn al-Walid, 592-642 AD. The mausoleum of al-Walid is in Emesa, in the Bekka Valley.
223
Amr ibn al-As (ca. 583 -664 AD). Upon the conquest of Egypt, Amr supposedly ordered the Rabbinic Jews in Cairo not to quarrel with the
Karaite Jews (at the time the Levite Quraysh).
224
Abu Bakr was caliph 632-634 AD.
225
John, Bishop of Nikiû, Chronicles (ca. 690 AD) CXX:72.
Compare with CXXI:3 wherein Amr Al-‘As emerges as the leading figure:
And ‘Amr became stronger every day in every field of his activity. And he exacted the taxes which had been determined upon, but he took none
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Amr Al-’As led the military while Muhammad, if he had then been alive, was the spiritual chief in a
dual leadership. Sebeos had before also made Amr king of the Ishmaelites (perhaps distinct from Amr
Al-’As) and Muhammad a spiritual leader of The Way of Truth. In contrast, The Chronicler of Khuzistan
had Muhammad slip into Amr’s shoes.
The Coptic writer Severus Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ seems to come to build on John, Bishop of Nikiu’s text
with a tenth century twist: Severus not only confuses Heraclius and his son, but also Muawiyah with
Muhammad.
226
Thus, even that late, there was disagreement over the time and persona of the prophet.
Fragment on the Arab Conquests (post-636 or ca. 689)
The Fragment on the Arab Conquests is a note on the side of a Syriac Gospel. It has been long
recognized as problematic, in particular because it is nearly illegible.
[...] and in January, they took the word for their lives (did) [the sons of] Emesa [i.e., Him’s)], and
many villages were ruined with killing by [the Arabs of] Muhmd and a great number of people were
killed and captives [were taken] from Galilee as far as Beth [...] and those Arabs pitched camp beside
[Damascus?] [...] and we saw everywhe[re...] and o[l]ive oil which they brought and them. And on the
t[wenty six]th of May went S[ac[ella]rius] [...] cattle [...] [...] from the vicinity of Emesa and the
Romans chased them [...] and on the tenth [of August] the Romans fled from the vicinity of
Damascus [...] many [people] some 10,000. And at the turn [of the ye]ar the Romans came; and on
the twentieth of August in the year n[ine hundred and forty-]seven there gathered in Gabitha [...] the
Romans and great many people were ki[lled of] [the R]omans, [s]ome fifty thousand [...].
227
If placed in 636, this document would be the first occurrence of the leader Muhmd. It is assumed
that the text suggests Emesa as the center of battles leading to the abolishment of Heraclius’s claims
to Syria.
228
of the property of the Churches, and he committed no act of spoliation or plunder, and he preserved them throughout all his days. And when he
seized the city of Alexandria, he had the canal drained in accordance with the instructions given by the apostate Theodore.
226
Severus of Al'Ashmunein (Hermopolis), History of the Patriarchs of the Coptic church of Alexandria (1904) Part 2: Peter I - Benjamin I (661
AD). Patrologia Orientalis 1 pp. 383-518 (pp.119-256 of text): Then Benjamin went forth from the monasteries in Wadi Habib, and departed to
Upper Egypt; and he remained hidden there in a small monastery in the wilderness until the accomplishment of the ten years, as the angel of the
Lord had told him. These were the years during which Heraclius and the Colchian [Mukaukas who surrendered the empire to the Arabs, perhaps
the Coptic Patriarch, Cyrus, according to Alfred J. Butler, The Arab Conquest of Egypt, Appendix C—On the Identity of `Al Mukaukas' (Oxford,
1978) 508ff] ruled over the land of Egypt. […]
Then Heraclius appointed bishops throughout the land of Egypt, as far as the city of Antinoe, and tried the inhabitants of Egypt with hard trials,
and like a ravening wolf devoured the reasonable flock, and was not satiated. And this blessed people who were thus persecuted were the
Theodosians.
And in those days Heraclius saw a dream in which it was said to him: «Verily there shall come against thee a circumcised nation, and they shall
vanquish thee and take possession of the land». So Heraclius thought that they would be the Jews, and accordingly gave orders that all the Jews
and Samaritans should be baptized in all the provinces which were under his dominion. But after a few days there appeared a man of the Arabs,
from the southern districts, that is to say, from Mecca or its neighbourhood, whose name was Muhammad; and he brought back the worshippers
of idols to the knowledge of the One God, and bade them declare that Muhammad was his apostle; and his nation were circumcised in the flesh,
not by the law, and prayed towards the South, turning towards a place which they called the Kaabah. And he took possession of Damascus and
Syria, and crossed the Jordan, and dammed it up. And the Lord abandoned the army of the Romans before him, as a punishment for their corrupt
faith, and because of the anathemas uttered against them, on account of the council of Chalcedon, by the ancient fathers.
When Heraclius saw this, he assembled all his troops from Egypt as far as the frontiers of Aswan. And he continued for three years to pay to the
Muslims the taxes which he had demanded for the purpose of applying them to himself and all his troops; and they used to call the tax the bakt,
that is to say that it was a sum levied at so much a head. And this went on until Heraclius had paid to the Muslims the greater part of his money;
and many people died through the troubles which they had endured.
227
M.S.M. Saifullah, David ‘Abdullah, Quran Manusripts & Papyrus, Date Texts Mentioning Prophet Muhammad From 622-719 CE, A Record of the Arab
Conquest of Syria, 637 AD (Islamic Awareness, 2008) 157.
228
Robert Hoyland Seeing Islam as Others Saw It: Wright, the first to draw attention to the fragment, wrote that 'it seems to be a nearly
contemporary notice,' a view to which Nöldeke also subscribed. […] It is of some significance that the fragment accords with one of the dates
given in Arabic sources for the battle at Gabitha (assuming this is to be identified with Yarmuk), namely 20 August AG 947/12 Rajab AH 15
(636).
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The fragment might instead originate post Sebeos [MHMT as a person], from when the
Mardaites/Maronite forces under Byzantine flags would be pushed from Syria half a century later.
The city of Emesa was home to a Byzantine palace. Like in nearby Damascus, one of the heads of
John the Baptist had been found there in the fifth century. This turned the city into an ecclesiastical
metropolis and a pilgrimage site. Before, and maybe still in the seventh century, Emesa was also the
religious center for El-Gabal. Emperor Elagabalus had been pontiff of the Temple of El-Gabal in the
early third century, and its sacred stone had been moved to the Elagabalium in Rome.
Other than learning about
a
Muhmd alive after 636 AD,
229
possibly in the 680s, the text contributes
nothing to the identification of Muhammad’s teachings or a conversion of the Umayyads.
The Tombstone of Abbasa
The daughter of Bint Juraij, Abbasa, died in April 691 AD. Her tombstone was rediscovered in a
mausoleum in Aswan, Egypt. The text provides for the archaeological evidence of the words
Muhammad and Islam with undoubtedly Muslim meaning.
230
While it allows to fixate a very late date for
the existence of Islam, it distinguishes itself from other tombstones with Koran quotes that appear
regularly from the late eighth century.
231
However, to the knowledge of Deus, the authenticity of this
stone is not yet established. Given the tremendous value that this lone artifact presents – lost in Aswan,
far from the religious epicenter of the traditions – it should be viewed with suspicion. Should one not
expect to find much earlier tombstones somewhere else? Specifically, the illegible parts are not some
random pieces of the text but the very essence of Abbasa’s linage, the signature of the stone. Has the
stone been vandalized? Has it been so carelessly excavated that it precisely eradicated the signature?
Probably the most significant passage of the tombstone is The greatest calamity of the people of Islām (ahl
al-Islām) is that which has fallen them on the death of Muhammad the Prophet, may Allah grant him peace. If it is
not a forgery, then it is implied from what was said before that Muhammad must have died sometime
in between the mid-650s and before April 691 AD. That his end is a calamity points at two issues:
there must have been a sudden death of Muhammad; the author must have been under the impression
of mourning, indicating a recent event, perhaps weeks apart, not one decades in the past. This is the
earliest expression of mourning the Prophet so far found in the archaeological record, and it is in
sharp contrast to az-Zubair’s contemporary coins. But again, a chain of Muhammads must be taken
into consideration. However, the idea of a Christological title may be difficult to maintain if this artifact
stands the test of scrutiny. Still, it may have been born of such a title or an institution. However, at this
point, it becomes increasingly clear that MHMD is or has become associated with Islam. The parchment
in the Sana’a Koran that has been radiocarbon dated fits into this timeframe also and was created with
229
Patricia Crone, Michael Cook Hagarism: The Making of the Islamic World.
230
Helmut Abu Limor Wagner, Abd al-Maliks Mohammed und Koran, Ein Grabstein von Assuan und Tausende von Münzen, Symposium of Inârah
Institute at the Europäische Akademie Otzenhausen, March 17, 2012, 15:
In the name of Allāh, the merciful, the Compassionate. The greatest calamity of the people of Islām (ahl al-Islām) is that which has fallen them on
the death of Muhammad the Prophet; may Allāh grant him peace. This is the tomb of
ʿ
Abbāsa daughter of Juraij (?) son of (?). May clemency
forgiveness and satisfaction of Allāh be on her. She died on Monday four-teen days having elapsed from Dhul-Qa
ʿ
dah of the year one and
seventy, confessing that there is no god but Allāh alone without partner and that Muhammad is His servant and His apostle, may Allāh grant him
peace.
231
Halevÿ, Léor, Muhammad’s Grave, Death rites and the making of Islamic Society (Columbia University, 2011).
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a 99.2% probability prior to 676 AD. Likewise, the carbon dated fragments of Tübingen fit into the
period from 649-675 AD. However, the subscript that lies under a text in the Sana’a Koran is estimated
to around 711 AD. It needs to be taken into consideration that these documents may have been
written unto older parchments.
Wishing peace upon the prophet is a distinct marker that allows to revisit traditions for possible
signs of life. Several hadiths can be found in Bukhari that lack the essential wish. Although open to
different interpretations, one of them suggests that Muhammad was still alive when Marwan ruled in
684-685 AD.
232
The Fourth Ecumenical Council of Trullo (692 AD)
The mirror image of what happened in Damascus was recorded in 692 AD at the Fourth
Ecumenical Council of Trullo in Constantinople. A stream of refugees had arrived in the capital that
included the Melkite patriarchs under Umayyad rule. In a seemingly bizarre move, the council decided
to oppress the Jews while the Byzantines were supposedly at war with a Muslim caliphate.
233
Why did
Justinian II make new enemies at home when the ‘beast’ was about to breach the front door?
The council’s impression was that they were under assault by a like Arian enemy, not by Islam.
234
When it came to also confirming the divinity of the virgin Mary as Mother of God, a more precise
definition of the like Arians was provided that connects them with Jewish Messiahnism.
235
When put
in the historical context, the council produced a number of canons that viewed a like Arian advance
as ‘a barbaric incursion,’ with a faith that resembled Judaism, prompting an outpour of hatred against
the Jews. But since there can be little doubt that the intruder now sailed under Muslim flags, John,
Bishop of Nikiu or the author of the tombstone of Abbasa (both from Egypt) must have been under
the impression of a recent phenomenon, which’s name, Islam, had not yet made it to Constantinople.
232
Bukhari 2:23:396: That his father said, "While we were accompanying a funeral procession, Abu Huraira got hold of the hand of Marwan and they
sat down before the coffin was put down. Then Abu Said came and took hold of Marwan's hand and said, "Get up. By Allah, no doubt this (i.e.
Abu Huraira) knows that the Prophet forbade us to do that." Abu Huraira said, "He (Abu Said) has spoken the truth."
233
Canon XI, Philipp Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, The Council in Trullo, 692 AD (T&T Clark, 1893): Let no one in the priestly order nor any
layman eat the unleavened bread of the Jews, nor have any familiar intercourse with them, nor summon them in illness, nor receive medicines
from them, nor bathe with them; but if anyone shall take in hand to do so, if he is a cleric, let him be deposed, but if a layman let him be cut off.
234
Trullo Canon I: And together with this odious and detestable contender against the truth [Arius], we condemn Apollinaris [Melkite], priest of the
same iniquity, who impiously belched forth that the Lord assumed a body unendowed with a soul, thence also inferring that his salvation wrought
for us was imperfect.
235
Trullo Canon I: Moreover what things were set forth by the [… Second Council of] Ephesus […]; these doctrines we assent to as the unbroken
strength of piety, teaching that Christ the incarnate Son of God is one; and declaring that she who bare him without human seed was the
immaculate Ever-Virgin, glorifying her as literally and in very truth the Mother of God. We condemn as foreign to the divine scheme the absurd
division of Nestorius [like Arian], who teaches that the one Christ consists of a man separately and of the Godhead separately and renews the
Jewish impiety. [… In the Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon] that the one Christ, the son of God, is of two natures, and must be glorified
[Latin, “believed in”] in these two natures, and which cast forth from the sacred precincts of the Church as a black pestilence to be avoided,
Eutyches, babbling stupidly and inanely, and teaching that the great mystery of the incarnation was perfected in thought only. And together with
him also Nestorius and Dioscorus of whom the former was the defender and champion of the division, the latter of the confusion [of the two
natures in the one Christ], both of whom fell away from the divergence of their impiety to a common depth of perdition and denial of God.
[The Sixth Ecumenical Council of Constantinople, 680 AD] taught that we should openly profess our faith that in the incarnation of Jesus Christ,
our true God, there are two natural wills or volitions and two natural operations; and condemned by a just sentence those who adulterated the true
doctrine and taught the people that in the one Lord Jesus Christ there is but one will and one operation; to wit, Theodore of Pharan, Cyrus of
Alexandria, Honorius of Rome, Sergius, Pyrrhus, Paul and Peter, who were bishops of this God-preserved city; Macarius, who was bishop of
Antioch; Stephen, who was his disciple, and the insane Polychronius, depriving them henceforth from the communion of the body of Christ our
God.
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In contrast to earlier writers that had written off Persia all too soon, the expectation was that the spook
would soon be over and the fleeing clerics could return to their posts.
236
One of the canons from this council listed a large number of heresies and what to do when their
members converted to Orthodox Christianity. Among many, it listed Arians and Manicheans, but it
did not mention Muslims or Islam. While some of the bishops did not sign the decrees, the patriarchs
of Constantinople, Alexandria, Jerusalem, and Antioch did. The seats of the latter three had been in
the hands of the caliphate and were now abandoned. Yet, Islam was not worth mentioning. The
Manicheans, the like Arians, the Melkites, and the Council of Chalcedon, however, were.
237
Prominently
missing on the list are also the Maronites (a sub-group of the Melkites) and Maximus the Confessor.
What may look like a purification of the Orthodox faith is in reality a calculated submission and
humiliation of a number of religious sects – looked at as ‘barbaric churches’ – that had to flee from the
caliphate, including the Melkite leaders. The council stood in the name of depriving the Manicheans,
like Arians, and Melkites of their lifestyle and families.
238
The most fundamental issues of this council were twofold: Firstly, the representation of Jesus was
‘standardized.’ It was at this council that the cross with Jesus was raised to be the sole representation
for Western Christianity.
239
In sectarian fragmentations, it can be demonstrated repeatedly that the
offshoot would position itself at the opposing end. Did the caliphate perhaps remove the iconography
and the crosses in response to the council? The Lamb would remain a mainstay of those parts of
Melkite Christianity that would live on. Secondly, in the wake of this council, the Paulinic epistles were
standardized throughout East and West, which might have fueled the fire of hatred between the
factions even more. In other words, many sects had not used Paul until now,
240
and it may be the
236
Trullo, Canon XVIII: Those clerics who in consequence of a barbaric incursion or on account of any other circumstance have gone abroad, we
order to return again to their churches after the cause has passed away, or when the incursion of the barbarians is at an end.
237
Trullo, Canon XCV: But concerning the Paulianists it has been determined by the Catholic Church that they shall by all means be rebaptized. The
Eunomeans also, who baptize with one immersion; and the Montanists, who here are called Phrygians; and the Sabellians, who consider the Son
to be the same as the Father, and are guilty in certain other grave matters, and all the other heresies—for there are many heretics here, especially
those who come from the region of the Galatians [in the Anatolian diocese of Pontus] —all of their number who are desirous of coming to the
Orthodox faith, we receive as Gentiles.
And on the first day we make them Christians, on the second Catechumens, then on the third day we exorcise them, at the same time also
breathing thrice upon their faces and ears; and thus we initiate them, and we make them spend time in church and hear the Scriptures; and then
we baptize them.
And the Manichæans, and Valentinians and Marcionites and all of similar heresies must give certificates and anathematize each his own heresy,
and also Nestorius, Eutyches, Dioscorus, Severus, and the other chiefs of such heresies, and those who think with them, and all the aforesaid
heresies; and so they become partakers of the Holy Communion.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XCV.
Thus we admit those converted from the heretics. We anoint with the holy chrism, upon the brow, eyes, nostrils, mouth, and ears, Arians,
Macedonians, Novatians (who are called Cathari), Aristerians (who are called Quartadecimans or Tetraditæ), and Apollinarians when they
anathematize every heresy; and sign them with the cross as we say, “The Seal of the gift of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”
238
Trullo, Canon XXX: Willing to do all things for the edification of the Church, we have determined to take care even of priests who are in
barbarian churches. Wherefore if they think that they ought to exceed the Apostolic Canon concerning the not putting away of a wife on the
pretext of piety and religion, and to do beyond that which is commanded, and therefore abstain by agreement with their wives from cohabitation,
we decree they ought no longer to live with them in any way, so that hereby they may afford us a perfect demonstration of their promise. But we
have conceded this to them on no other ground than their narrowness, and foreign and unsettled manners.
239
Trullo, Canon LXXXII: In some pictures of the venerable icons, a lamb is painted to which the Precursor points his finger, which is received as a
type of grace, indicating beforehand through the Law, our true Lamb, Christ our God. Embracing therefore the ancient types and shadows as
symbols of the truth, and patterns given to the Church, we prefer “grace and truth,” receiving it as the fulfillment of the Law. In order therefore
that “that which is perfect” may be delineated to the eyes of all, at least in colored expression, we decree that the figure in human form of the
Lamb who taketh away the sin of the world, Christ our God, be henceforth exhibited in images, instead of the ancient lamb, so that all may
understand by means of it the depths of the humiliation of the Word of God, and that we may recall to our memory his conversation in the flesh,
his passion and salutary death, and his redemption which was wrought for the whole world.
240
The Peshita version of the New Testament (Syria Vulgate) had a number of books excluded that were only added in the seventh century: 2 Peter,
2 John, 3 John, Jude, Revelation, and all of the additional Catholic books.
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reason why Islam is absent of references to Paul. While this path is also not explored here, it is a hint
to the convergence of a large cycle of religious evolution that had been in the making for over half a
millennia.
Despite the appearance of the combination of Muhammad and Islam in the recent archaeological
record, the Council of Trullo suggests that in 692, the enemy was not yet recognized as Muslim but as
like-Arian and Messianic Jewish. Manicheans also might loom much larger in the evolution of Islam
than is commonly believed, in particular when it concerns the early Muhammadeans of the traditional
view. Finally, Zoroastrianism tends to be severely under-rated.
Post-Reform Coins (692 AD)
A coin dated 692 that bore ‘Abd al-Malik’s name was made of the same stamp series as az-Zubair’s
but said Partisan of the Caliph and bore also the imprint Muhammad, Apostle of God. Since the Mahdi
Muhammd had died, it should thus not be entirely off hand that MHMD might at this time have
become a (like-Arian) religious title, and the Apostle of God might simply have been the new patriarch
in Jerusalem or perhaps already in Mecca. It is also unclear how the various religions and sects
(including Buddhist communities) sprouted and interbred from their beginnings, let alone how they
would have reacted to a new doctrine, hence, potentially triggering multiple feuds in many places on
differing grounds, leading to further fragmentation.
Ohlig was probably correct in his findings, which imply that al-Malik was not a Muslim, but not
because he may not have known about Islam (should the tombstone be authentic) but because he may
have actively rejected it until career necessity might have prompted him to change. However, with his
analysis of the inscriptions of the Dome of the Rock, Ohlig puts too much weight on a questionable
piece of evidence. According to Finbarr Barry Flood, Abbasid rulers had no reservation in mutilating
Umayyad inscriptions in Damascus and elsewhere.
241
Deus demonstrated in part I of the Umayyad’s
conversion,
242
that the inscriptions first showed up in the historical record centuries later.
To highlight the possibility of a competition (that had formed under Mu’awyah), the Christian
monk Anastasius Sinaita
243
wrote around 700 AD – thus outside of the evidence here included – that
the Persian Saracens in Kufa refuted the Byzantine doctrines, the crucifixion, baptismal water, the Holy
Communion, and icons.
244
He viewed them as demons and the devil impersonated. The same author
had before viewed the Arab Saracens as accepting Jesus as man and the Holy Spirit as the Word of
God.
245
The secret lies perhaps in the confusion of two or more competing Saracen groups, of which
the Persian branch would evolve into Islam. The Arab branch would carry their creeds on to Spain
and would become a victim of later efforts to modify the collective memory.
241
Finbarr, Barry Flood, The Great Mosque of Damascus: Studies on the Makings of an Umayad Visual Culture (Brill, 2001) 126.
242
A.J. Deus, The Umayyad Dynasty’s Conversion to Islam, Putting Muslim Traditions into the Historical Context, From the Low Point Until ca.
692 AD (June 2013).
243
St. Anastasius Sinaita was a Greek ecclesiastical writer of the seventh century. He was abbot of Saint Catherine’s Monastery at Mount Sinai and
hated the Monophysites while supporting the Chalcedonian Creeds.
244
Anastasius Sinaita, Diègèmata Stèriktiká, after 700 AD.
245
Anastasius Sinaita, Viae dux (before 690 AD) I 1; ebd. 9, line 45-49 and X 2,4; ed. Uthemann, ebd. 169.170, Zeilen 5-12.
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The mysteries continue after the currency reform, for example with coins that bear the Jewish
Menorah with the imprint Mohammad is God’s prophet.
246
Maybe the evidence is trying to say: independent
“caliphates” were competing against each other, and they may not have had a shared understanding
of Muhammad. Perhaps they had the same understanding of MHMT but not of how it should relate
to their territories and sectarian beliefs.
As of 696 AD, post-reform coins surfaced from Kufa,
247
and it almost seems that al-Malik was not
in control of the currency reforms. This implies some sort of an allegiance that al-Malik may have
been forced to submit to. With the currency reform, all images and icons disappeared. Instead, the
coins bore a religious message.
There is no god but God alone, He has no associate. In the name of God, this dirham was struck in
Ramhurmaz [Khuzestan, Iran] in the year 79. God the one, God the eternal, He did not beget and
was not begotten. And there is none like unto Him. Muhammad is the messenger of God whom He
sent with guidance and the religion of truth that He might make it prevail over all religions even if
the associators are averse.
248
The warning on the coins is targeted boldly at the “associator” role of Jesus as god,
249
and Muhammad
is (rather than was) the messenger of their god.
That the imprint may relate to present time can be attested for with a Khazar coin from the 820s,
which says “Moses is the Messenger of God” (Musa Rasul Allah). Not just because of its distance in time,
this coin provides for its own world of difficulties by breaking all conventions of Muslim chronology,
but it is hardly by coincidence that Musa
250
had been the seventh imam of Twelver Shi’ism at the time.
From this would follow the logic that ‘x is the pontiff’ of whichever sect it may concern, and this may
also be the core of the birth of Islam, which emerges with a new pontiff, not in Constantinople, Rome,
Antioch, Alexandria, Seleucia, Mecca, or Medina but on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem where Jesus
had identified a rock – the foundation stone – on which to build his church.
The central question is how al-Malik fits into this change of heart. Did he follow suit with the Melkites
(and how did they adapt), did he finally submit to Islam, or was he in a leading role? These questions
can be answered by following the primary evidence diligently.
246
Walker 605 ff.; and D. Barag, “The Islamic Candlestick Coins of Jerusalem,” Forum Ancient Coins.
247
Review Stephen Album, Tony Goodwin, Sylloge of Islamic Coins in the Ashmolean: The Pre-Reform Coinage of the early Islamic Period (Ashmolean, 2002).
248
Al-Malik, post reform Silver coin, 696 AD.
249
John of Damascus, The Fount of Knowledge, On Heresis (ca. 740 AD): Moreover, they call us Hetaeriasts, or Associators, because, they say, we
introduce an associate with God by declaring Christ to the Son of God and God.
250
The seventh imam of Twelver Shi’a Islam, the Shi’ite Musa al-Kadhim ruled the Shi’ite caliphate in the Arab Peninsula 765-795 AD.
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Conclusion
A seemingly simple question is embedded in a highly complex environment that is not made easier to
understand by the presence of deception and destruction of evidence. In modern surveillance
techniques, chatter provides the decisive clues to detect organized criminal activities. The same applies
for the past, and it is beyond doubt that the chatter started after Prophet Muhammad of the traditions
had already been at peace. The different placements of evidence on the timeline has no impact on this
finding nor does it render the traditions altogether futile. However, with a shift in timing with Sebeos,
Khusistan, possibly Nikiú, and every other primary evidence, as well as many inadmissible traditions
that suggest the same, researchers should be able to build on a fairly solid foundation of the absence
of all three, the Koran, Muhammad, and the non-conversion of the Umayyads to Islam deep into the
seventh century. It can be said with certainty that not a single piece of evidence attests to the prophet
of the traditions, not even the succession in Twelver Shi’ism.
The crux with incorporating primary evidence into traditions is that it supports a house of cards that
if built by intelligent scribes was skillfully inserted into real history. To figure out what really
happened and in order to avoid circular arguments, primary evidence must take precedence. Tradition
can help to clarify certain aspects that lie outside of the scribe’s (unknown) agenda. In particular, what
is not addressed is often as important as what is spelled out.
The hypothesis here made is that Muhammad, should it not simply be a title that moved from one
unto another, found his first entry into the historical record in the early 630s AD and was still alive in
the mid-650s. In fact, the first contemporary evidence is in Thomas the Presbyter from around 640
AD for MHMT,
251
followed by Sebeos from the 660s for Mehmet, and then the Maronite Chronicle
for MHMD, indicating a shift from a MHMT institution to a legendary person MHMD. The first
(suspect) evidence of his death is from a tombstone in 691 AD in a location remote from the alleged
religious center, suggesting a recent passing away of Muhammad, who may be distinct from the
original – a pontiff Muhammad. The parchments of the earliest Koran fragments happen to originate
from the same period (649-675 AD), but not all of the Koran seems to have been created by the
original prophet. Put in other words: multiple primary documents indicate a Muhammad alive in the
mid seventh century and none exist of a prophet Muhammad that died in 632 AD, let alone at any
point thereafter until the date on a tombstone. Up to al-Malik, there is no evidence of Islam. The
Umayyads were instead exposed to a like-Arian form of Jewish Messiahnism in the 680s. It started
from an expanding territory of the Tayyi’ who were at first headquartered in Al-Hira in between the
Syrian and Persian holdings. The earlier Saracen and Ishmaelite incursions were unaware of Islam.
To recapitulate, the Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD had declared Jesus as
both fully man and fully god in one union (hypostasis). This creed was rejected by all like-Arian and
Melkite sects, since they, in simplistic terms, viewed the divinity and the humanity as separate in
various forms. For them and for the Jews, the divinity would be present with (or accompanying) a
251
Thomas the Presbyter, Chronicle (ca. 640 AD) 147-148: In the year 634 [...] there was a battle between the Romans and the tayyaye d-Mhmt in
Palestine twelve miles east of Gaza […]
Some 4000 poor villagers of Palestine were killed there, Christians, Jews and Samaritans. The Arabs ravaged the whole region.
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prophet in either the form of the Holy Spirit (the presence of God), or the Word of God (the prophesy
itself), or in some cases both. The doublet is also the spiritual concept that would form the basis of
the Koran: Jesus is a man, a prophet, and God is the divinity who speaks through the Holy Spirit to a
prophet (the Word of God). These differences cascade through to Mary, which is either the Mother
of God for Byzantine Orthodoxy or the mother of Jesus for like-Arians and Muslims.
Heraclius had come up with a new formula with (parts of) the doctrines of Eutyches, who had
fused the natures of Jesus into one god and claimed but one energy and later but one will. Maximus
was not a carrier of the Byzantine ideas but an opponent of same, since he not only worked with Pope
Martin but possibly also with Mu’awiyah. It would be far too soon to imply a direct connection, but
whoever wrote the Koran may have been riding on a rolling train: the Messiah Jesus is the son of Mary [i.e.
not begotten by God], the Word of God was conveyed unto the mother while the Spirit proceeds from the only God to the
prophet who is the Apostle of God.
252
The question focuses on the status of a chain of recipients of the Holy
Spirit – the Muhammads.
The proposed time shift provokes an unexplained biographical overlap of Maximus and
Muhammad. If not of the same team, they must have been fierce opponents, possibly in a profound
fight over pontifical supremacy over all of Christianity where the rock of Jerusalem possibly emerges
as the intended cornerstone for a new map of secular and spiritual powers that may have moved from
Seleucia-Ctesiphon or Al-Hira to the Holy City. The idea appears at times as a more inclusive
leadership based on a voluntary submission to their god with Jesus being a human messiah endowed
with the Spirit of God and the Word of God. Islam emerges as a shoot-off that was entangled in the
related conflicts that shook the religions of East and West to their roots. Islam thus morphs from a
like-Arian form of Jewish Messiahnism into its earliest and still evolving form toward the end of the
century. While the Christian influence is apparent in the Koran, the messianic beliefs in Manichean,
and Zoroastrian (Mazdakism) religions contain elements that potentially form a common denominator
with the new ideas.
Greater Armenia turns out to be center stage, rather than sitting on the fringes, thus, elevating the
testimony of Sebeos to a higher level than generally assumed. It is also clear what the missing pages
of Nikiú between 610 and 640 AD might reveal in respect to Muhammad or Islam: nothing that would
support the collective memory. They can be written off as secondary in importance for this purpose.
Instead, the traditions may have absorbed part of the Ghassanid and Lakhmid histories for the story
of Muhammad. This absorption appears to find its roots with Xosrov’s attempts to stem Phocas’s and
Heraclius’s advances. The latter’s successes came about through rebelling factions within the Persian
establishment (Shahrvaraz, Rustam, and Farrukh Hormizd).
Likewise, inadmissible traditions as well as the primary evidence convey that the Muslim timescale
is connected to Heraclius’s advances and later alliance with the three Persian rebel factions.
MHMT/MHMD shows in the record during a few decades since.
252
Koran 4:126-4:127.
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Independent of the Kabsha (Qabisa) hypothesis, it appears that the Jews from Edessa carried the
seed (Sebeos), and the Tayyi’ represent the sprout of what evolved into Muhammadeans. Their goal
was Jerusalem, as was of other groups, certainly also in the first wave of attacks. However, the temple
building in Jerusalem was attributed first to Saracens from the Caspian Sea in the Caucasus region, or
in Sebeos to Jews who were driven away by the Ishmaelites. The next temple that went up was in
Fusted under Amr, but from Mecca there was no sign of activity. It is perplexing that the Muhammad
of the traditions ascended to heaven from the Mount before it would have been built. It appears as
though a Maronite ‘heresy’ under Maximus, rather than Islam, had been accepted first by Manicheans
in the eastern Arab Peninsula. The ideas made inroads from North Africa to the Euphrates River.
Perhaps they also touched the imperial palaces in Rome that were now in the hands of the Vatican.
654 AD is an important year, give or take a couple, when Abu Turab (Ali) became emir of al-Hira.
Turab’s rise possibly falls together with Mu’awiyah’s refusal to submit to the throne of MHMT and
his brake with Constantinople. Since Mu’awiyah acted as the champion of the Maronites (against the
Jacobites) in 659 AD, perhaps a first Muhammad had died around 654 AD, and the latter may have
been part of a dual government with Amr Al-‘As. However, Mu’awiyah did not only clash with Turab
but also with Amr Al-‘As’s son ‘Abd Allah who seems to lie on the path to Islam.
At the same time, a geography of the Arab Peninsula by a cleric suggests a party, possibly the Tayyi’,
that was in the process of expanding its territories and was distinct from the descriptions by Isho’yahb.
The Tayyi’ and ‘Abd Allah may form the beginning of the evolution to Islam, and the cleric is the only
source that provides for a connection to Medina.
The record of MHMT went silent for a couple of decades until az-Zubair became (counter) caliph
in 681 AD in Kerman. After the Maronite creed was declared a heresy in 680/681 AD, it re-emerges
as MHMD under az-Zubair as if subverted – in 685 AD. It is also around 685 when Muhammad
ibn al-Hanafiyyah entered the scene. In 692 AD, a ‘barbarian incursion’ (not one that is decades old)
wiped out the Melkite leadership in the Levant and seized al-Malik’s lead.
All this is not to say that the original prophet did not exist, but his absence in his allocated time
slot would trigger fundamental changes in the Muslim genealogies. Hence, researchers that are not
interested in parroting expedient traditions must be open for a radical shift in how the seventh century
unfolded. This notion is supported by ancient and reputed Muslim scholars. Khaldun of the
fourteenth century suggested that the emergence of Islam has to be understood without the Muslim
traditions. These were forged later for the pleasure of the ruling dynasties.
253
However, here the case is
made that the absence of traditions to particular times or topics speaks volumes. Al-Kindi
254
was of
the opinion that the Koran had been pieced together of different histories
255
– and this difficult avenue
is what the research in this paper also suggests.
253
Muhammed ibn Khaldun (1332-1406 AD), The Muqaddimah (1377 AD), translated by Franz Rosenthal (Princeton University, 1958) Introduction:
[…] they blindly follow the tradition of the historians of the Umayyad and ‘Abbasid dynasties, without being aware of the purpose of the
historians of those times. [They] wrote their histories for members of the ruling dynasty, whose children wanted to know the lives and
circumstances of their ancestors, so that they might be able to follow in their steps and to do what they did […].
254
Abu Yusuf Ya’qub ibn Ishaq al-Kindi, 801–873 AD.
255
Andrew Rippin, Muslims, their religious beliefs and practices (Routledge, 2005) 14;
from Emmanuel van Si, Radical Islam, Medieveal Theology and Modern Politics (Yale University Press, 1985) 2: Show me any proof or sign of a
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There were at least fifteen significant parties on the landscape, and their histories would be
intermingled in the traditions: 1) the Zoroastrians of Persia (divided into eight major dynasties that
may overlap with some of the parties and beliefs), 2) the Manicheans across the Persian Empire and
down the eastern Arab Peninsula, 3) the Tayyi’ in the Arab Peninsula that may have absorbed the
central regions as well as Oman, 4) the Melkite Ghassanids in the western Arab Peninsula that had
earlier overwhelmed the Lakhmids, 5) the Arian Lakhmids in the eastern Arab Peninsula, 6) the Jews
from Edessa and then Khorasan, 7) Maximus the Confessor who also touches the Vatican, 8) the
Maronites (perhaps of Maximus), 9) the Armenian Rshtun Dynasty from Ctesiphon, overlords of the
Ishmaelites at times, 10) the Umayyads from Damascus and Syria (possibly also eastern Armenians),
11) later the Zubayrs, 12) Saracens from the Caucasus (perhaps overlapping with Khorasan and the
Karens), 13) the Byzantines in Constantinople, 14) Rabbinic Jews across the Middle East, including
Tiberias and Basrah, and 15) evolving Muslims who must have been hiding particularly well.
It remains unaddressed why and how the shift in histories took place other than what every scholar
in religious studies knows: religion is a slow moving target. Former opponents felt an urge to transform
themselves into early proponents once a sect had reached a position of power. In control of
information, contrary evidence routinely went up in flames, and new ideas were backdated into the
old. However, religion was not static but sprouted through drawn-out socio-religious destruction in
the interest of the powerful, providing for the keys to a web that is difficult to unlock.
Some later writers provide timelines that differ from the contemporary pieces, Jacob of Edessa, for
example, but there is no longer an urgent need to figure out for early Islam what may have happened
at that time. These writers might have been under the impression of a wave of humanitarian disasters
that started from 678 AD, and they may have been influenced by early efforts to come up with
‘traditions’ about the life of Muhammad. It is interesting that Jacob of Edessa brought the year 0 AH
in proximity of Muhammad’s rule over the Arabs. This would then align the counting of years with
the rise of a ruler rather than an arbitrary event of subordinate significance, even for the Koran. What
needs to be figured out is when the onset of Islam actually took place, and this task with the
connections of the MHMT/MHMD framework that the primary witnesses of the time deliver — is
achievable; but this is part of a larger publication in the making. If Muhammad was alive at a later
time, then the prophetic revelations must also have occurred later unless they would be independent
or spread over several Muhammads.
With their research and publications, scholars can contribute to one of the rare opportunities to
foster peace and prosperity among the many Judaic opponents in the Muslim world and around the
globe. Knowledge of the beginnings of any religion — while at first zealously rejected (including by
many experts) — will inevitably lead to enlightenment as well as to social and economic awakening of
the affected, here in particular the realm of Islam.
wonderful work done by your master Muhammad, to certify his mission, and to prove what he did in slaughter and rapine was, like the other, by
Divine command.
The result of all of this is patent to you who have read the scriptures and see how, in your book, histories are all jumbled together and
intermingled; an evidence that many different hands have been at work therein, and caused discrepancies, adding or cutting out whatever they
liked or disliked. Are such, now, the conditions of a revelation sent down from heaven?
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