An Inscription Containing Invocation Of Wellness For A Descendent of ʿUmar B. Al-Khaṭṭāb, 96 AH / 714-715 CE

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First Composed: 31st January 2014

Last Modified: 12th April 2014

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Assalamu ʿalaykum wa rahamatullahi wa barakatuhu:

(a)

(b)

(c)

Figure (a) original inscription, (b) its transcription and (c) its contents. [] encloses letters supplied to fill a lacuna.

Date

96 AH / 714-715 CE.

Al-Rashid dated the inscription to 76 AH.[1] However, Frédéric Imbert has re-dated this inscription to 96 AH on the basis of the larger initial tooth [in the last line, Figure (b)] which most likely confirms the reading "ninety".[2]

Size

76 cm x 48 cm.

Script

Kufic script.

Contents

The translation of the inscription is:

  1. O God, grant well-
  2. -ness to Rabāḥ bin
  3. Ḥafṣ bin Āṣim
  4. bin ʿUmar bin Al-Khaṭṭāb!
  5. Good conduct towards God and
  6. kinship. And written
  7. in the year six
  8. [and] ninety.

Comments

Al-Rashīd says the text can be clearly read except the second word in line 5. It could be bi-yad (in the hand), however this does not make sense if one reads awṣa bi-yad Allāh. According to al-Rashīd, it seems that the person who scribed this inscription made a mistake when he intended to write bi-llāhi after the word awṣa. Instead he wrote bi-yad and simply added Allāh after as a corrective. Imbert does not see the same difficulty and gives a reading for line 5.[3]

Commenting on the date, al-Rashīd dismisses his own suggestion that the text could be written in 176 AH based on graphic considerations. Rabāḥ is known in the sources and his full name is ʿIsā ibn Ḥafṣ ibn Āṣim ibn ʿUmar bin al-Khaṭṭāb al-Adawī Abū Ziyād. His mother’s name is Maimunah bint Dāwūd al-Khazrajīah. He lived until he was around 80 years old and died between 157 AH and 159 AH. Perhaps this inscription was written by a relative of Rabāḥ when he was young and feeling sickly.

Location

Ruwāwa near Al-Madīnah Al-Munawwarah.

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References

[1] Saʿd b. ʿAbd al-Azīz al-Rashīd, Kitābāt Islāmiyyah Ghayr Manshurah Min "Ruwāwat" Al-Madīnah Al-Munawwarah Dirāsah Wa-Taḥqīq, 1993, Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), pp. 83-86.

[2] F. Imbert, "L’Islam Des Pierres : L’Expression De La Foi Dans Les Graffiti Arabes Des Premiers Siècles", Revue des Mondes Musulmans et De La Méditerranée, 2011, Volume 129, p. 61, Footnote 3. Also see online.

[3] ibid., p. 67.

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