Karbala – These days mark the eleventh century anniversary of the departure of the traveler Al-Baghdadi Ahmed bin Fadlan on an official mission from the city of peace to the jungles of northern Europe, in order to spread Arab-Islamic culture and discover the outskirts of the medieval world when Abbasid Baghdad was its center and great metropolis.
The trip lasted 11 months, and penetrated the lands of a number of current countries whose ancient history was almost absent, and it aroused sorrow in the hearts of those concerned with the cultural heritage in Iraq that the memory of this trip passed and government agencies and competent institutions did not notice the importance of reviving it, despite early calls to do so. , within the series of neglecting the material and moral Iraqi cultural heritage. Read also This
Who is Ibn Fadlan?
He is Ahmed bin Fadlan bin Al Abbas bin Rashid bin Hammad, one of the men of the commander of the Abbasid Caliphate army, Muhammad bin Salman, and then a senior figure in the court of the Abbasid Caliph Al Muqtadir Billah.
The late investigative researcher Dr. Sami Al-Dahan says in the introduction to his investigation of the “Risala Ibn Fadlan”, issued by the Arab Scientific Academy in Damascus in 1959, “At Yaqut Al-Hamawi, his name is Ibn Fadlan, and he was on religious culture, high literature, beautiful style, piety in creation and love for spreading Islam.” He also says about him, “A man of his time should reach what he reached on a distant journey in which he reaches the land of the Bulgarians and the Russians, and to see the wonders of that time and the difficulties of transportation.” This means that the journey is important and that its success is linked to this traveler.
And the Arabs at that time were famous for their love for travel, travel, exploration of the world and the transfer of his sciences and knowledge, and Dr. Al-Dahan states in his introduction that the letter had been “printed once in Arabic and published studies and articles in German, Russian and English” which means that Ibn Fadlan was wronged “a great injustice in the countries.” In Arabic, no publisher or investigator has risen to collect the scattered comments.” When orientalists wrote about him in the past decades more than what Arabs wrote about him.
And the mission-the journey that was entrusted to Ibn Fadlan made him discover the unknowns of northeastern Europe and contribute to the dissemination of Arab-Islamic culture in it, says researcher Hussein Muhammad Ajil, who is one of the most interested in studying Iraqi cultural and civilization history in its medieval and modern times, based on manuscripts, documents and archival materials He has many articles, research studies and books in this field, as well as his work in the investigation and study of manuscripts of the Arab heritage.
Ajil adds that Ibn Fadlan, in his journey, “carried to that remote place at the outskirts of the submerged world at that time the torch of civilizational enlightenment, which Baghdad represented at the height of its glory, and resulted in the recording of its exciting facts in Khaled’s book. His only manuscript survived the horrors of a truncated end.”
The researcher, who is managing editor of the refereed Iraqi heritage quarterly Al-Mawred, explains the first beginning of the reasons for the trip. the Islamic religion and teach them, and helps the kingdom to fortify itself with strong means of protection from hostile kingdoms that surround it.” And based on this request or invitation, “Caliph Ahmed bin Fadlan chose from among the members of the mission – which consisted of 5 men of statesmen as well as other assistants – to read his message To the king and bring his gifts to him, and to supervise the teachers and guides,” noting that the Saqlab had a historical kingdom located on the banks of the Volga River in the Russian Federation now at the beginning of the tenth century AD, then the Mongols removed it in the 13th century AD, and it is now located in the territory of the Republic of Tatarsan of Russia Federal.
And about the beginnings of this mission, which conveyed to the modern world accurate details and an unknown history of various Asian and European peoples, the researcher says, “I set out from Baghdad, on Thursday for eleven nights, from Safar in the year 309 AH, corresponding to June 21, 921 AD, on a long and arduous journey. The dangerous journey took 11 months, during which the members of the expedition traveled thousands of miles between valleys, mountains, prairies, outcrops and large rivers.
And he indicated that after leaving Iraq, it began with “Kermanshah, Hamadan, Ray, Semnan, Damghan, Nishapur, Sarakhs, Amal, Merv, Transoxiana, Bukhara, Khwarazm”, to penetrate the members of the mission after that “extended lands and deserts and snowy steppes inhabited by Turkic tribes Paganism at that time, and then to roam through the jungles of southern Russia, crossing great dangerous rivers and vast regions covered with ice, mixing with peoples, tribes and kingdoms of different cultures, customs and beliefs.
He talks about the difficulties of the journey on the long road to reach “the farthest destination in the land of the Kingdom of Saqala on the Volga River, on Sunday, Muharram 12 of the year 310 AH, corresponding to May 12 of the year 922 AD.”
The researcher Ajil stated that after reviewing the route by returning to the texts of Ibn Fadlan and to the Arab geographical books that showed the route of movement and the movement of convoys, it appears that the total of the countries traveled by the mission “six countries: Iraq, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and the Russian Federation, as well as two republics Currently in the Russian Federation are: the Republic of Bashkortostan, whose inhabitants were named by Ibn Fadlan on his journey (Bashgard), and the Republic of Tatarstan, whose territory is currently located in the ruins of the city of Bulgar, where the mission was received, and it is close to its capital, Kazan, the third city in an area of cities The Russian Federation of today, and the Slavs inhabited these lands at that time before it became the home of another people.”
Fadl Yaqout Al-Hamawi
Ajeel confirms that the matter of the mission and Ibn Fadlan’s journey would not have been known and that it would have been almost lost and lost had it not been for two things, fortunately, “the first was that the manuscript of Ibn Fadlan’s journey was found in Mashhad, Iran in 1924,” and the second earlier of this event – as the researcher mentions – is Fadl The famous geographer Yaqut al-Hamawi (died in 626 AH = 1228 AD) is known to contemporary historians, as he defined “the traveler al-Baghdadi and his mission, when he transmitted lengthy passages from the journey, in his famous book (The Dictionary of Countries), which remained the main source for all who came after him, mentioning the name of the traveler to The fourth grandfather, briefly defined by his social capacity, indicating the nature of his mission, the path of his mission, and his return to Baghdad.
He said that what Al-Hamawi mentioned made a number of orientalists, especially the Russians among them, at the beginning of the 19th century, “attention to the importance of this trip, as it revealed some unknowns of the distant history of Asian and European peoples about which nothing documented in parallel sources is known.” Therefore, Al-Hamawi’s saying was given, Then this rare manuscript, which was found in Iran with the interest of foreign historians and researchers before the Arabs, was translated into most of the living languages, then its Arabic version was verified and it was issued by the Academy of the Arabic Language in Damascus in 1959, and was published in more than one edition. Researcher Ajil expresses his regret that all editions of the trip were published outside Iraq, “and this raises more than a painful question mark about the reason for this official institutional disregard for a figure who has attracted the attention of the whole world except for the country to which he belongs.”
Art, cinema and literature
Ibn Fadlan took over writing the facts of his trip after his return to Baghdad, according to the researcher Ajil, so he provided “early documentation of the history of the Bakr region of the medieval world located at its far end, mixing in it the documentary aspect, albeit a general framework that is not detailed in the journey, which is what matters The historian concerned with the temporal dimension, explaining by describing the place, the active persons, the facts and events and the causal link between them, on the one hand, and the richness of the aspect related to anthropology, geography, sociology and economics, on the other hand.
He said that the traveler possessed a language of “agile, witty, with a lot of vitality, intelligence and wit, and when writing down his trip, he exceeded the official limits that could have restricted him, as a prominent member of an international diplomatic mission, carrying the message of the king of the largest empire at the time, to writing an enjoyable trip.” It skillfully contained a wealth of information and first-hand observations, so it seemed as if it was a literary piece dominated by dialogue, description, anticipation, suspense, live storytelling, and exciting transitions.” This means that he was able to mix description, poetry, and the artist’s description of what he saw. He was even described as a writer by some who read the manuscript from Orientalists because his writing method “opened the door for the emergence of a new writing style, the travel literature.”
He explained that the trip inspired the imagination of great artists, “and examples of this include a famous painting by the Russian painter Henry Smyradsky (1843-1902 AD), which is currently preserved in the Historical Museum in Moscow, and the novel (Eaters of the Dead) by the American Michael Crichton, published in 1976, which achieved unprecedented sales figures, then She produced a famous Hollywood movie in 1999 entitled (The Thirteenth Warrior), in which the role of Ibn Fadlan was played by the Spanish actor Antonio Banderas, and the late Egyptian star Omar Sharif participated with him, then she produced an Arab series entitled (The Roof of the World).
Researcher Ajil expresses his astonishment at the lack of interest in this event in the Arab interior, and most importantly in the Iraqi interior, because the traveler is an Iraqi Arab par excellence, and he is credited with spreading Arab culture and introducing other world civilizations. The Muslim-majority Tatarstan of the Russian Federation, whose parliament decided in 2010 AD to count the day of his arrival to its lands (12 May of each year) as its national day, and began implementing an ambitious project at a cost of $100 million, to excavate the ruins of the ancient city of Bulgar, the ancient capital of the Kingdom Sculpture”.
He stated that the government of Tatarstan is working there to rebuild or restore mosques, historical minarets and ancient buildings in the ruins of the city, and to set up a large museum in the name of Ibn Fadlan that includes the Qur’an, manuscripts and archaeological finds, with the largest Qur’an in the world in the middle, as well as a large mosaic implemented in Italy that represents the scene of the arrival of Ibn Fadlan’s mission And his meeting with the king, and the moment he read the book of the Abbasid Caliph, indicating that what is happening in those countries, and what does not happen in Ibn Fadlan’s homeland, causes great distress to those who are passionate about history and heritage because such celebrations should have occurred here as well.
Researcher Ajeel expressed his regret for this, saying, “I have been waiting for the 11th century anniversary of the trip’s launch, hoping that the official Iraqi cultural authorities will carry out their duties regarding this civilized occasion, which countries in the world wish to have something of this venerable heritage, to salute it. In splendid celebrations, it will be a source of pride for its people.”
He pointed out that as he was interested in the country’s history and cultural heritage, two years before this anniversary, he submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Culture “to organize several events in coordination with the ministries of culture in the other five countries that the mission passed through, as well as the two Russian republics, with vocabulary befitting its uniqueness, the country’s reputation and the aspirations of its elites,” including Issuing a commemorative stamp commemorating the traveler and his unique book and transforming the path of the mission’s journey between Baghdad and Bulgar with the stations of the great historical cities that it penetrated, into a path and a global tourist attraction, similar to the Silk Road.
He stressed that the response came after two years in light of the Iraqi reality, which neglects everything, by publishing “a news item on the ministry’s website about the proposal that I submitted.” Thus, the memory of this historical and civilized event passed in the country of Ibn Fadlan, without any activity or activity to commemorate his memory or recall his knowledge adventure that the world celebrated.