Hasan ibn al-Nu'man

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Hasan ibn an-Nu`uman al-Ghasani (Arabic: حسان بن النعمان الغسانيHasān ibn an-Nu‘umān al-Ghasānī) (d. ca. 700), amir (general) of the Umayyad army in North Africa. The nisba indicates he either came from Ghassān[1] in Yemen or was part of an Arab tribe originally from that area.

Biography[edit]

Dates in this section are according to Ibn Abd al-Hakam (work cited below), other medieval sources give a range of 4 years before and after.

He was appointed governor of the Maghreb about the year 692 CE. At this time, the Arab forces had still not managed to entirely defeat the Byzantine Greeks in North Africa. He captured the Byzantine city of Carthage after defeating Ioannes the Patrician and Tiberios III at the Battle of Carthage in 698 CE. After a defeat by the Berber warrior queen al-Kahina, he retired to Libya for several years, then returned to Ifriqiya and killed al-Kahina in battle.[2] This effectively brought Ifriqiya (modern Tunisia and eastern Algeria) under Arab control.

He appointed Abu Salih as emir over Ifriqiya while keeping the emirates of Cyrenaica and other parts of Libya for himself. He returned to Kairouan and re-established it as the capital of Ifriqiya, building (or re-building) the mosque, establishing official registers and levying land taxes (against Muslims) and poll taxes (against Christians).

Having completed this task, he returned to Damascus in about 695-698 to report to the Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik, having left a deputy in charge of Cyrenaica. As he passed through Egypt, he was "relieved" of his captives[3] by the caliph's brother Abd al-Aziz, who was governor of Egypt. It is said that they included two hundred Berber slave girls each worth a thousand dinars.

In his absence, a Byzantine naval raiding force attacked Cyrenaica and occupied it for upwards of a month. Hasan's deputy fled to Egypt, and his trusted lieutenant Zuhayr was killed while attempting to repel the Greeks. Eventually a scratch force of Arabs drove the intruders out, after which Abd al-Aziz put one of his freed slaves in charge of Cyrenaica.

When Hasan attempted to return to North Africa, he asked Abd al-Aziz to remove his slave from Libya, but the Egyptian governor refused. Hasan then threatened to go to the caliph, whereupon Abd al-Aziz told him "Go". Hasan returned to Damascus, where he and Abd al-Malik learned that Abd al-Aziz had made Musa bin Nusair emir over Ifriqiya, deposing Abu Salih. Abd al-Malik disliked Musa, and prepared to use this as a pretext to do something about Abd al-Aziz. Unfortunately Hasan, who had been ill since leaving Egypt, died suddenly. This was in about 698 (according to some sources, up to 10 years after this!).

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ according to al-Baladhuri, ref. cited below
  2. ^ Modéran (ref cited below) has recently found an early Christian Syriac source giving the dates for the two encounters with al-Kahina as 698 and 702-3.
  3. ^ i.e. prisoners of war and civilians, taken as slaves after battle

References[edit]

  • Ibn Abd al-Hakam, Kitab Futuh Misr wa'l Maghrib wa'l Andalus. English translation by Torrey of portion of this 9th century work covering the period: "The Muhammedan Conquest of Egypt and North Africa in the Years 643-705 A.D., translated from the Original Arabic of Ibn 'Abd-el Hakem'", Biblical and Semitic Studies vol. 1 (1901), 279-330.
  • al-Baladhuri, Kitab Futuh al-Buldan, translated by Phillip Hitti in The Origins of the Islamic State (1916, 1924). This 9th century work has only a brief mention.
  • Modéran, Yves. (2005?). Article on Kahena in vol. 27 of Encyclopédie Berbère, p. 4102-4111.