Islamic Historians (part II)
Tabari (838-923 AD)
Full: Abu Jafar Muhammad ibn Jarir ibn Yazid ibn Khaled Amoli Tabari
ابوجعفر محمدبن جريربن يزيدبن خالد آملي طبري
Perhaps the greatest Islamic historian of all times, the author of the monumental multi-volume work “History”, admired as the sage of his era by his successors, the Iranian historian Tabari (native of Tabaristan, present day Mazandaran) was born in 224 Hijri and died in 310, according to Ibn Nadim, author of al Fihrist (the List).
Many of sources cited by Tabari have not survived, which renders Tabari’s work even more important. His work which gives the accounts of events until 302 Hijri has been completed by Arib ibn Sa’ad Qurtubi which includes those until 320.
Regarding the Caucasus in times of Arab conquests and caliphate in the first couple of Hijri centuries, his Tarikh ar Resal wal Moluk (تاريخ الرسل و الملوک) is a trustworthy document. Most of the people whose tales are related by Tabari were present in the wars in the time of Arab invasions in the Caucasus.
Tabari’s report of the second caliph Omar’s order to Armenians and peoples living in “Armenia and Abwab” (Aghvank which was part of Armenia), where he gives them assurance that their lives will be spared if they obey him and his appointed ruler, concludes: “…in case of war, they have to participate… Whoever accepts to obey will pay the jizyah (tribute tax H.) except for those who join the army… whoever is not needed to participate can stay and pay the jizyah like the people of Azarbaijan (the real H.)” This shows that first, even Christians were allowed to join the military and be exempted from paying heavy taxes second, the people of the real Azarbaijan had already converted to Islam, obeyed Omar and were paying their taxes in the early years of Arab conquest whereas the people of Armenia and Aghvank had remained Christian. This also proves that Aghvank and Azarbaijan (Atrpatakan) were two distinct regions and religiously unrelated.
Recounting the events of 145 Hijri, Tabari also reports the Khazar invasion into Armenia from Bab ul Abwab (Darband, Chor) and their occupation of lands north of the River Kur. This clearly shows that there was no doubt in Tabari’s mind that Aghvank was a part of Armenia. The Khazars repeated the intrusion two years later, pillaged Aghvank and returned to their land with booty and prisoners.
Again in 183 Hijri, using the pretext of his daughter’s death on the way to Aghvank to marry Fadhl ibn Yahya ibn Khalid Barmaki, the caliph appointed ruler of Armenia, Azarbaijan (the real) and Jebal (land of Medes = western part of Iran), the Khazar khan once again attacked Armenia from Darband and killed the Muslims and Dhimmis and took a hundred thousand slaves. “Such mayhem was never heard of before in Islamic era” Tabari confesses.
Tabari gives accounts of Yussof ibn abis Saj’s wars with Smbat Bagratuni from 295 Hijri (908 AD) and Saj’s appointment by al Muqtadir as the representative of the caliph in Armenia and Azarbaijan (Atrpatakan). ●
Ibn Faqih (late 9th-early 10th centuries AD)
Full: Abu Abdullah Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Ishaq ibn Faqih Hamadani
ابي عبدالله احمد بن محمد بن اسحاق ابن فقيه همداني
Work: Mokhtasar al Buldan (Concise Book of Lands)
Ibn Faqih wrote his geographic work in about 290 Hijri. According to Ibn Faqih, Armenia consisted of four parts what he calls first, second, third and fourth Armenia. Aran (Aghvank) and Sisjan (Sisakan) were a part of first Armenia (Medz Hyke, Armenia Maior). It should be noted that in another part of his work he places them in fourth Armenia. He names several cities in Aghvank among others: Bardhae (Partaw, Պարտաւ), Beylakan (Pytakaran, Փայտակարան), Qabalah (Kabalak, Կապաղակ), Shirvan, Shabran, Sheki (Shakeh, Շաքէ), Shamkhor, Bilasjan.
According to Ibn Faqih, the region north of the Arax and south of the Kur is part of Armenia and the Arax is the border between Azarbaijan (Atrpatakan) and Armenia. Regarding Neshwi (Nakhijevan), Ibn Faqih places it in the third Armenia.
Concerning the origin of the name of Azarbaijan (Atrpatakan), Ibn Faqih says: “Azarbaijan is (related to) Azarbad ibn Iran… or Azarbad ibn Biurasp.” ●
Massoudi (c. 896-956 AD)
Full: Abul Hassan Ali ibn Hussein Massoudi
ابوالحسن علي بن حسين مسعودي
Work: Muruj udh Dhahb wa Ma’aden ul Jowhar (The Meadows of Gold and the Mines of Gems), At Tanbih wal Ashraf, etc.
مروج الذهب و معادن الجوهر, التنبيه و الاشراف
The great Islamic scientist and historian native of Maghreb, Massoudi, died 344 Hijri according to ibn Nadim, is the author of many works some of which historical and geographical. He traveled far and wide and recorded his observations and research in those lands. The two works cited above are considered an encyclopedia in the domain of historical geography. Massoudi’s work has an eminent place among Islamic works related to the Caucasus. “I spent quite some time in Armenia, Azarbaijan (the real H.), Aran (Aghvank) and Beylakan (Pytakaran H.)”, Massoudi explains. According to him “the realm of the Persians included the entire Medes and Azarbaijan (Atrpatakan) until the vicinity of Armenia, Aran and Beylakan…” which confirms that Azarbaijan (Atrpatakan) and Aghvank were different entities.
Massoudi considers the dialects of Pahlavi, Dari and Azari from the same origin, their vocabularies one and the same and calls all of them languages of the Farsi group. He is among the Islamic historians who have used the term Azari to describe the Persian dialect of the people of Azarbaijan (Atrpatakan).
A noteworthy event also related by Massoudi is the uprising of Babak Khorramdin (from 820s AD) against the caliphate, to restore the ancient Iranian religion and to free Iran from the Arab rule. I mention this because not having any historical background the “Azeri” fakers have stolen every Iranian hero, poet, scientist, ruling dynasty, etc. along with the name of their counterfeit “state”, to fabricate their jumbled “history”. Twisting history beyond recognition, they regard Babak Khorramdin, native of the real Azarbaijan, as “their” greatest hero who fought to liberate “Turkish” Azarbaijanis from Iranian rule (!) whereas it’s hardly conceivable Babak knew any Turks in his lifetime let alone having been a Turk two full centuries before the Oghuz (Seljuk) invasions.
Another instance of anti-Armenian hate mongering by “Azeris” is their blaming the Armenians for Babak’s painful death, whose limbs were cut off by Afshin, al Mu’tasim’s general who fought Babak. After heavy battles with Afshin up to a thousand of his warriors were killed, his fortress gave in and he had to run north to Armenia. Crossing the Arax the ruler of Aghvank (north to Artsakh), Sahl ibn Smbat (Sahl Smbatian of Aranshah dynasty, Սահլ/Սահղ Սմբատեան), caught him and handed him over to Afshin. This shallow account of history will certainly confuse those who are uninformed of the fact of the matter but even in that case, are the actions of one historic figure reason enough to denounce an entire nation? A closer look at the fact of the matter proves the exact opposite.
In 821 Sahl Smbatian launched a surprise attack on Shikakar fortress and crushed the Arabs who had reduced the Amaras monastery to rubble and had enslaved about a thousand people. Later his participation played an instrumental role in the victory against a 12000 strong Arab army in Mughan plain in 837, the very same year he arrested Babak. Taking these events and Babak’s movement which was directed against the caliph into account, Sahl should have considered Babak a god sent ally but what the “Azeris” don’t want to say is that Babak would attack, harass, plunder and massacre the people of Artsakh and Siunik on regular basis, therefore it’s more because Babak had become a nuisance for people that Sahl handed him over to the Arabs and not out of treachery.
According to Massoudi, Sahl Smbatian hoped that the caliph would grant him the status of king of Aghvank but his wishes didn’t come true. He adds: “Afshin promoted Sahl and gave him gifts and noble attire and a crown. He provided him with guards and servants and exempted him from tax” but Mu’tasim did not make Sahl Smbatian the independent king of Aghvank and he remained only the ruler of Sheki (Shakeh).
In 854 Mu’tasim ordered the Turkish Buqa khan (against who Sahl had also fought) to arrest Sahl Smbatian along with a number of other Armenian rulers and sent them to exile and torture in Samara. He was never heard of afterwards...
This is like a double edge sword for the “Azeris”: if Sahl Smbatian is an Armenian king, then it proves that Aghvank was a part of Armenia. If “Azeris” are truly the descendants of the Aghvans as they absurdly claim, then it was an Aghvan ruler, i.e. an “Azeri” who betrayed Babak, the pretended greatest hero of the “Azeris”. ●