Jund Filastin

From Wikipedia
Jund Filastin
Province of the Umayyad, Abbasid and Fatimid Caliphates
660s/680s–late 11th century
Syria in the 9th century.svg
Arab Syria ( Bilad al-Sham) and its provinces under the Abbasid Caliphate in the 9th century
Capital Ludd, Ramla, Jerusalem
• Established
•  Seljuk attacks, First Crusade
late 11th century
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Palaestina Prima
Seljuq Empire
Kingdom of Jerusalem
Today part of  Israel

Jund Filasṭīn ( Arabic: جُنْد فِلَسْطِيْن‎, "the military district of Palestine") was one of the military districts of the Umayyad and Abbasid province of Bilad al-Sham (Syria), organized soon after the Muslim conquest of the Levant in the 630s. Jund Filastin, which encompassed most of Palaestina Prima and Palaestina Tertia, included the newly established city of Ramla as its capital and eleven administrative districts (kura), each ruled from a central town. [1]


Muslim conquest

The Muslim conquest of Palestine is difficult to reconstruct, according to the historian Dominique Sourdel. [2] It is generally agreed that the Qurayshite commander Amr ibn al-As was sent to conquer the area by Caliph Abu Bakr, [3] [4] likely in 633. [4] Amr traversed the Red Sea coast of the Hejaz (western Arabia), reached the port town of Ayla at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba, then crossed into the Negev Desert or further west into the Sinai Peninsula. He then arrived to the villages of Dathin and Badan near Gaza, where he entered negotiations with the Byzantine garrison commander. The talks collapsed and the Muslims bested the Byzantines in the subsequent clash at Dathin in February or March 634. [2] [3] At this stage of the conquest Amr's troops encamped at Ghamr al-Arabat in the middle of the Araba Valley between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba. [3] The town of Gaza was left alone, with Amr's primary objective at the time being the subjugation of the Arab tribes in the vicinity. [5]

After the Muslims armies led by Khalid ibn al-Walid captured Bosra in the Hauran in May 634 they crossed the Jordan River to reinforce Amr as he faced a large Byzantine army. In the ensuing Battle of Ajnadayn, fought at a site 25 kilometers (16 mi) southwest of Jerusalem in July or August, the Muslims under Amr's overall command routed the Byzantines. [6] In the aftermath of Ajnadayn, Amr captured the towns of Sebastia, Nablus, Lydda, Yibna, Amwas, Bayt Jibrin and Jaffa. [7] Most of these towns fell after minor resistance, hence the scant information available about them in the sources. [8]

Following the decisive Muslim victory against the Byzantines at the Battle of Yarmouk (636), fought along the Yarmouk tributary of the Jordan River east of Palestine, Amr besieged Jerusalem, which held out until the arrival of Caliph Umar, to whom Jerusalem's leaders surrendered in 637. [9] The coastal towns of Gaza, Ascalon and Caesarea had continued to hold out. The commander Alqama ibn Mujazziz may have been sent against Byzantine forces in Gaza a number of times during and after Ajnadayn. [10] Amr launched his conquest of Egypt from Jerusalem c. 640. [11] Caesarea was besieged for a lengthy period and captured most likely by Mu'awiya ibn Abi Sufyan in 639, 640 or 641. [8] Not long after, Mu'awiya captured Ascalon, completing the conquest of Palestine, [9] most of which had been undertaken by Amr. [4]

Early administration

Filastin became one of the four original junds (military districts) of Bilad al-Sham (Islamic Syria) established by Caliph Umar. [12] In effect the Muslims maintained the preexisting administrative organization of the Byzantine district of Palaestina Prima. [9]

The Umayyad period (661–750) was a relatively prosperous period for Filastin and the Umayyad caliphs invested considerably in the district's development. [13] According to Sourdel, "Palestine was particularly honoured in the Umayyad period". [9] The first Umayyad caliph, Mu'awiya ibn Abi Sufyan, who held overall authority over Syria, including Palestine, from the reign of Caliph Uthman ( r. 644–656), was initially recognized as caliph in a ceremony in Jerusalem. [9]


At its greatest extent, Jund Filastin extended from Rafah in the south to Lajjun in the north, and from the Mediterranean coast well to the east of the southern part of the Jordan River. The mountains of Edom, and the town of Zoar (Sughar) at the southeastern end of the Dead Sea were included in the district. However, the Galilee was excluded, being part of Jund al-Urdunn in the north. [14] It roughly comprised the regions of Samaria, Judea, and the adjacent Mediterranean coastal plain from Mount Carmel in the north to Gaza in the south. [2]

According to al-Baladhuri, the main towns of Filastin, following its conquest by the Rashidun Caliphate, were, from south to north, Rafah, Gaza, Bayt Jibrin, Yibna, Amwas, Lydda, Jaffa, Nablus, Sebastia, and Caesarea. [14] Under Byzantine rule the port city of Caesarea was the territory's capital, a natural choice as it eased communications with the capital Constantinople. After the Muslim conquest, the administrative focus shifted to the interior. Amwas was referred to as a qasaba in the early Islamic sources; the term could refer to a central town, but most likely meant a fortified camp in the case of Amwas. It served as the principal military camp of the Muslim troops, where spoils were divided and stipends paid, until it was abandoned by the troops in 639 due to the plague of Amwas. [15] From about 640 Ludd and/or Jerusalem have been determined as the capital or political-religious center of Filastin, according to modern historians. [15] [a]

After the caliph Sulayman ibn Abd al-Malik founded the city of Ramla next to Ludd, he designated it the capital, and most of Ludd's inhabitants were forced to settle there. In the 9th century, during Abbasid rule, Jund Filastin was the most fertile of Syria's districts, and contained at least twenty mosques, despite its small size. [14]

After the Fatimids conquered the district from the Abbasids, Jerusalem eventually became the capital, and the principal towns were Ascalon, Ramla, Gaza, Arsuf, Caesarea, Jaffa, Jericho, Nablus, Bayt Jibrin, and Amman. [14] The district persisted in some form until the Seljuk invasions and the Crusades of the late 11th century.[ citation needed]


At the time of the Arab conquest, the region had been inhabited mainly by Aramaic-speaking Miaphysite Christian peasants. The population of the region did not become predominantly Muslim and Arab in identity until several centuries after the conquest. [14] The principal Arab tribes which inhabited Filastin and formed its army were the Lakhm, Judham, Kinana, Khath'am, Khuza'a, and Azd Sarat. [16]


The governors of Jund Filastin:

Rashidun period

  • Amr ibn al-As and Alqama ibn Mujazziz al-Kinani (634–639; they were assigned as the commanders in charge of Filastin by Caliph Abu Bakr) [17]
  • Alqama ibn Mujazziz al-Kinani (639–641 or 644; when Amr left Filastin to conquer Egypt, Alqama was left as governor. [17] One version in the Islamic tradition placed his death in 641, [18] while another held that he was governor at the death of Caliph Umar in 644 [19] According to one version Umar made Alqama governor of half of Filastin from his seat in Jerusalem, while Alqama ibn Hakim al-Kinani was appointed over the other half of Palestine from Ramla—Lydda is most likely meant here. This division may have been done following the plague of Amwas in 639. [20] [21])
  • Abd al-Rahman ibn Alqama al-Kinani ( c. 644–645 or 646; governed for undetermined period during the reign of Umar's successor Caliph Uthman in 644–656) [22]
  • Mu'awiya ibn Abi Sufyan (645 or 646–661; appointed by Caliph Uthman after the death of Abd al-Rahman ibn Alqama; he was already governor of the junds of Dimashq and al-Urdunn under Umar was given authority over Jund Hims by Uthman) [23]

Umayyad period

Abbasid period

See also


  1. ^ The historians Guy le Strange, Moshe Gil, Muhammad Adnan Bakhit, and N. Hamash considered Ludd the capital before the founding of Ramla, while Goitein and Amikam Elad considered Jerusalem as the district's political-religious center before Ramla's founding. [15]
  2. ^ In another version, a man of the Judham, Dab'an ibn Rawh ibn Zinba's son al-Hakam, seized power in Palestine in 750 during the Abbasid Revolution, after which Caliph Marwan II, who had entered the district during his flight to Egypt, appointed another al-Hakam's uncle, Abd Allah ibn Yazid ibn Rawh, but he was unable to wrest power from al-Hakam. [43]


  1. ^ Avni, Gideon (2014). "Shifting Paradigms for the Byzantine–Islamic Transition". The Byzantine-Islamic Transition in Palestine: An Archaeological Approach. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN  9780199684335.
  2. ^ a b c Sourdel 1965, p. 910.
  3. ^ a b c Donner 1981, p. 115.
  4. ^ a b c Wensinck 1960, p. 451.
  5. ^ Donner 1981, p. 116.
  6. ^ Donner 1981, p. 129.
  7. ^ Sourdel 1965, pp. 910–911.
  8. ^ a b Donner 1981, p. 153.
  9. ^ a b c d e Sourdel 1965, p. 911.
  10. ^ Donner 1981, pp. 139, 152–153.
  11. ^ Lecker 1989, p. 30, note 61.
  12. ^ Luz 1997, p. 27.
  13. ^ Luz 1997, p. 28.
  14. ^ a b c d e Estakhri quoted by Le Strange, G. (1890). Palestine Under the Moslems: A Description of Syria and the Holy Land from A.D. 650 to 1500. London: Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund. pp.  25–30. OCLC  1004386.
  15. ^ a b c Luz 1997, p. 30.
  16. ^ Crone 1980, p. 225, note 210.
  17. ^ a b Blankinship 1993, p. 87.
  18. ^ Blankinship 1993, p. 87, note 489.
  19. ^ Humphreys 1990, p. 73.
  20. ^ Luz 1997, pp. 30–31.
  21. ^ Friedmann 1992, pp. 192–193.
  22. ^ Humphreys 1990, p. 74.
  23. ^ Humphreys 1990, pp. 72–74.
  24. ^ Crone 1980, p. 227, note 235.
  25. ^ a b Gundelfinger & Verkinderen 2020, p. 264.
  26. ^ Mayer 1952, p. 185.
  27. ^ Elad 1999, p. 24.
  28. ^ Crone 1980, p. 100.
  29. ^ Crone 1980, p. 125.
  30. ^ Sharon 1966, pp. 370–371.
  31. ^ Sharon 2004, pp. 230–232.
  32. ^ Crone 1980, p. 124.
  33. ^ Crone 1980, pp. 125–126.
  34. ^ Eisener 1997, p. 892.
  35. ^ Kennedy 2004, pp. 105–106.
  36. ^ Crone 1980, p. 127.
  37. ^ Gil 1997, p. 84.
  38. ^ Crone 1980, p. 129.
  39. ^ Hillenbrand 1989, p. 190.
  40. ^ Hillenbrand 1989, p. 193.
  41. ^ Williams 1985, p. 3.
  42. ^ Williams 1985, pp. 6, 170.
  43. ^ Williams 1985, p. 171.
  44. ^ Williams 1985, pp. 198, 204, 208.
  45. ^ a b c d Gil 1997, p. 842.
  46. ^ Crone 1980, p. 185.
  47. ^ a b Gil 1997, pp. 284, 842.
  48. ^ Crone 1980, p. 177.
  49. ^ Saliba 1985, p. 13.


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