P. Louvre Inv. E 7106 - Record Of A Debt, c. 44 AH / 664-665 CE

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First Composed: 28th November 2015

Last Modified: 25th January 2016

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Assalamu ʿalaykum wa rahamatullahi wa barakatuhu:

(a)

(b)

(a) P. Louvre Inv. E 7106. (b) Its transcription.

Date

c. 44 AH / 664-665 CE.

This leather document records a debt of a third of a dinar owed by a woman. It refers (in line 4) to the Nile's inundation (June-October) in 44 AH / 664-665 CE as the term for the repayment of the debt. Consequently, it was likely composed earlier that year or in the preceding year.[1]

Size

11 cm x 8.5 cm.

Accession No.

P. Louvre Inv. E 7106.

Contents

The translation of the Arabic document is given below.

  1. In the name of God. Due from Tarīs
  2. bint Muqayr from Liʿsān
  3. then al-Ḥaritha. Due from him [!] is a third of a
  4. dinār until the flooding of the basins of the year
  5. forty-four – in accordance with normative practice. Witnessed by Wahb b. ʿAlī
  6. and Nāfiʿ. It has been written.

Comments

Based on Ragib's initial description of the text,[2] until very recently, this item was considered the earliest piece of documentary evidence attesting to the concept of al-jizya.[3] However, based on a closer reading of the text, specifically the diacritical marks that indicate the letter thāʾ (see line 3), the word is more properly read as al-Ḥaritha.[4] Written in the style of the ḥijāzī script, notice the alif inclines to the right, is curved at the bottom (lines 1 and 4) and the overall tendency toward elevated ascenders. Also typical of texts from this early period, there is a large space after letters not attached to a following letter within a single word.[5]

This document contains a previously unattested validity clause that is identifiable in three different versions. Here the shorter variant sunnatan ("in accordance with normative precedent") is present. The other two versions that are contained in documents dated 42 AH and 57 AH respectively are sunnat qaḍāʾ al-muʾminīn ("in accordance with the normative procedure of the believers") and qaḍāʾ al-muʾminīn ("in accordance with the procedure of the believers"). Their purpose is to state the validity of the aforementioned financial transaction.[6]

The editiones principes of the documents dated 42 AH and 57 AH reads sunnat qaḍāʾ al-muʾminīn and qaḍāʾ al-muʾminīn.[7] Thus, not a previously unattested validity clause, rather a previously unattested dating system! The transformative significance of this reading should not go unnoticed here. Fred Donner cites both documents as important pieces of documentary evidence attesting to his understanding of an early ecumenical "believers movement" that was later "Qur'anicized" by the Umayyads.[8] However, this understanding of the text can no longer be supported according to Bruning's edition and convincing explanation supported by comparative analysis.

Location

Musée du Louvre, Paris (France).

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References

[1] J. Bruning, "A Legal Sunna In Dhikr Ḥaqqs From Sufyanid Egypt", Islamic Law And Society, 2015, Volume 22, pp. 352-374. This paragraph summarised from p. 358.

[2] Y. Ragib, ''Les Plus Anciens Papyrus Arabes'', Annales Islamologiques, 1996, Volume 30, Issue 1, p. 14, Fig. 3. Latterly also see, idem., "Une Ère Inconnue D'Égypte Musulmane: L'ère De La Juridiction Des Croyants", Annales Islamologiques, 2007, Volume 41, p. 194, Footnote 65; idem., "Les Premiers Documents Arabes De L'Ère Musulmane", Travaux Et Mémoires, 2013, Volume 17, p. 707, No. 14.

[3] For example see, A. Papaconstantinou, "Administering The Early Islamic Empire: Insights From The Papyri", in J. Haldon (Ed.), Money, Power And Politics In Early Islamic Syria: A Review Of Current Debates, 2010, Ashgate Publishing Limited (UK), pp. 64-65, Footnote 23; P. M. Sijpesteijn, Shaping A Muslim State: The World Of A Mid-Eighth-Century Egyptian Official, 2013, Oxford University Press (UK), p. 73, Footnote 178.

[4] J. Bruning, "A Legal Sunna In Dhikr Ḥaqqs From Sufyanid Egypt", Islamic Law And Society, 2015, op. cit., p. 358, Footnote 22. Unfortunately the low resolution image that Bruning was able to include in his article is only marginally better quality than the one published around 20 years earlier by Ragib. This may explain why many scholars continued to read the word al-jizya even though the (barely legible) diacritical marks do not allow such a reading.

[5] Summarized from ibid., p. 357.

[6] ibid., pp. 366-374.

[7] Y. Ragib, "Une Ère Inconnue D'Égypte Musulmane: L'ère De La Juridiction Des Croyants", Annales Islamologiques, 2007, op. cit., pp. 187-207.

[8] F. M. Donner., "Qur’ânicization Of Religio-Political Discourse In The Umayyad Period", Revue Des Mondes Musulmans Et De La Méditerranée, 2011, Volume 129, pp. 86-88.

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