The Origins of the Islamic State/Part 9/Chapter 10
< The Origins of the Islamic State‎ | Part 9
Chapter IX
The Origins of the Islamic State, Part IX  (1916)  byAḥmad ibn Yaḥyá al-Balādhurī, translated byPhilip Khuri Hitti
Chapter X—Al-Baṭâʾiḥ
Chapter XI
Al-Aurff. I was informed by certain learned men that the Persians often discussed the future fall of their king- dom and thought that earthquakes and floods would be the sign thereof. Now, the Tigris emptied its water into Dijlat al-Basrah, also called al-'Aura', 1 by means of branching streams which drew their water from the main stream which carried the rest of the water and looked like one -of those streams.
The -formation of al-Bata'ih. In the days of Kubadh ibn- Fairuz, 2 the water at the lower part of Kaskar broke through a great breach which was neglected until its waters drowned large, flourishing tracts of land. Kubadh was a feeble man and cared little for the breach. But when his son Amishirwan came to rule, he ordered that dams be made and thus the water was stopped and some of the lands flour- ished again.
When the year came in which the Prophet sent 'Abdallah ibn-Hudhafah as-Sahmi to Kisra Abarwiz, which was the year 7 A. H. (others say 6), the waters of the Tigris and the Euphrates rose to a height never reached before or since, causing many great breaches. Abarwiz made special effort to stop the breaches; but the water had the better of him,
1 The united course of the Tigris and Euphrates before they empty into the Persian Gulf. Yakut, vol. ii, p. 745.
2 Tha'alibi, pp. 586-603.

turned towards al-Bata'ih * and overflowed the buildings and plants, drowning many cantons that were there. Kisra 2 rode out in person to block the breaches; he scat- tered money right and left, put many workmen to death and, according to a report, crucified on certain breaches forty dam builders in one day; but all that was of no avail against the force of water. 3
With the advent of the Arabs into al-'Irak, the Persians were kept too busy fighting to mind the breaches which would burst and no one would mind them; and the feudal lords [dihkdns] failed to block them. Consequently, al- Batihah was made wider and more extensive. 4
'Abdalldh ibn-Darraj. When Mu'awiyah ibn-abi-Sufyan became ruler, he appointed 'Abdallah ibn-Darraj, his f reed- man, over the khardj of al-'Irak. 'Abdallah, by cutting down the reeds and stopping the water by dams, reclaimed for his master lands in al-Bata'ih, the income of which amounted to 5,000,000 [dirhams].
Hassan an-Nabati. Then came Hassan an-Nabati, the freedman of the banu-Dabbah, the builder of Haud [reser- voir] Hassan in al-Basrah and the one after whom Mana- rat [light-house] Hassan in al-Bata'ih is named. Hassan reclaimed certain lands in al-Bata'ih for al-Hajjaj in the days of al-Walid and for Hisham ibn-'Abd-al-Malik. 5
Al-Janb canal. Before al-Bata'ih was formed, there was at Kaskar a canal called al-Janb, along the south bank of which ran the post-road to Maisan, Dastumaisan and al- Ahwaz. When al-Bata'ih was formed, that part of the
1 The great swamp in which water overflowing from the Tigris and Euphrates disappeared. Rustah, p. 94. 1 Anushirwan; Tha'alibi, p. 603. ' Mas'udi, vol. i, p. 225.
Kudamah, p. 240.
5 Cf. Kudamah, p. 240.

post-road which became a thicket was called A jam al- Barid; and the other part was called Ajam Aghmarbathi x in which the great thickets lie. The canal is now seen in the al-Jdmidah [solid] lands that have recently been re- claimed and rendered fit for use.
The version of abu-Mas f ud. Abu-Mas'ud al-Kufi from his sheikhs : Al-Bata'ih was formed after the " flight " of the Prophet and during the reign of Abarwiz over the Persians. Many great fissures were formed which Kisra was unable to block, thus making the rivers overflow and producing al-Bata'ih. At the time of the Moslem wars with the Persians, the water overflowed and no one took the trouble to block the fissures. This enlarged the Batihah and made it wider. The banu-Umaiyah had reclaimed a part of the Batihah, which part was again sunk in the time of al-Hajjaj when new breaches appeared which al-Hajjaj did not care to block, trying thereby to injure the Persian feudal lords whom he suspected to be on the side of ibn-al- Ash'ath who had broken off his allegiance to al-Hajjaj. Hassan an-Nabati reclaimed for Hisham certain tracts of the Batihah land.
Abu-l-Asad. Abu-1-Asad, from whom Nahr abu-1-Asad takes its name, was one of the generals of the caliph al- Mansur, and one of those sent to al-Basrah when 'Adballah 294 ibn-'Ali resided in it. It was this abu-1-Asad who made 'Abdallah ibn-' AH enter al-Kufah.
I was told by 'Umar ibn-Bukair that al-Mansur dis- patched his freedman abu-1-Asad, who pitched his camp between al-Mansur and the army of 'tsa ibn-Musa as al- Mansur was fighting against Ibrahim ibn-' Abdallah ibn-al- Hasan ibn-al-Hasan ibn-'Ali ibn-abi-Talib. The same abu- 1-Asad dug the canal near al-Batihah which bears his name.
1 "A Nabatean word which means the great thickets;" Kudamah, p. 241.

Others say that abu-1-Asad, reaching the mouth of the canal and finding it too narrow for the ships, widened it; and, therefore, it was named after him.
It is stated by abu-Mas'ud that in the time of the "blessed dynasty " certain breaches were formed which made al- Bata'ih larger. Because of the water of the Euphrates, many thickets grew, of which some were reclaimed and made tillable land.
Maslamah reclaims new lands. Abu-Mas'ud from 'Awa- nah: In the days of al-Hajjaj, new breaches were made. Al-Hajjaj wrote to al-Walid ibn-'Abd-al-Malik stating that he estimated that 3,000,000 dirhams would be required for blocking them. Al-Walid thought that too much. Masla- mah ibn-'Abd-al-Malik said to al-Walid, "I offer to pay the expenses provided thou givest me as fief the depressed tracts in which the water remains, after spending 3,000,000 dir- hams, which sum shall be spent under the direct supervision of thy counsellor and trusted man, al-Hajjaj." Al-Walid accepted the offer. Maslamah gained possession of lands that had many cantons close together. He dug as-Sibain x and induced the farmers and tenants to come and hold land. Thus the land flourished; and in order to secure his protec- tion, many landowners voluntarily turned their farms over to him, and then held them from him as fief. When the " blessed dynasty " came and the possessions of the banu- Umaiyah were confiscated, all as-Sibain was assigned as fief to Da'ud ibn-'Ali ibn-'Abdallah ibn-al-'Abbas, from whose heirs it was bought with its rights and boundaries and was included in the crown-domains [diya' al-khilafah].
1 The dual form of as-Sib.
Last edited on 28 May 2021, at 03:47
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