Paragraph 94

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Syriac Text: J. –B. Chabot (ed.), Anonymi auctoris chronicon ad annum Christi 1234 pertinens. Praemissum est chronicon anonymum ad A.D. 819 pertinens (vol. 1; Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, Scriptores Syri Series tertia; tomus 14, 1920). Translated by Mark Steven Francois (Ph.D.)  

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The Anonymous Chronicle Up to 1234 AD – Paragraph 94 (ܨܕ) — Last updated: February 19, 2020

(94) Concerning the beginning of the kingdom of the Muslims[1] and concerning Muhammad their leader, the one who by them was called a prophet and apostle of God. 

In the year 933 of the Greeks,[2] 12 of Heraclius, and 33 of Khosrow,[3] a man whose name was Muhammad, from the tribe of the Qurayshites, went out into the land of Yathrib[4] and he said concerning himself that he is a prophet. 

It is fitting, therefore, to make known the general reputation of all of the Muslims, who are called Arabs, based on the general reputation of this prosperous Arabia, which is the land of their dwelling.  It is situated approximately from north to south from the river Euphrates to the Arabian Sea[5] and from west to east from the Red Sea to the Persian Gulf.[6]  They are called by many names according to the names of the tribes of their ancestors. 

Therefore, this Muhammad of whom we have been speaking, when he was in the age and stature of youthfulness, began to go up and down from Yathrib, his city, to Palestine in the business of buying and selling.  And while he was occupied in that place, he saw [people who held to] the confession of one God and it was pleasing in his eyes.[7]  And when he went down to the members of his tribe, he set this confession before them.  And when he had persuaded a few, they joined him.

And along with this he also praised before them the goodness of that land of Palestine when he said, “It is because of the confession in that one God that the land is good and prosperous like this.”  And he added, “If you listen to me, God will also give you a good land that flows with milk and honey.”

And because he wanted to confirm his word, he led the company of those who had been persuaded by him and he began to go up to the land of Palestine.  And he would rob, take captives, and plunder.  And he returned while the ones who were being led astray were without injury.  And he did not fall short of the promise that he made to them.

From that time on, the love of possessions caused the work to become a custom.  And they began again to go up, to rob, and to return.  And when those who had still not joined him saw those who were subject to him – that they were abundantly supplied with many riches – from that time on they were drawn without compulsion to be subject to him.  

And when, after these things, the men who were with him increased and his army was great, he no longer permitted them to plunder.  When he settled down in glory in Yathrib, his city, and when they were sent out again, that which was in Palestine alone was not enough for them to remain but they also journey far away to that which was at a distance, openly killing, taking captives, destroying with the sword, and plundering.  But this was not enough for them – but they forced them to carry up tribute and to be servants. 

And so, little by little, they were strengthened and they spread abroad and became great until they subdued almost all of the land of the Romans and also the kingdom of the Persians under their power.  And from that time on, their principality became an established kingdom.  And it was through a whole series of small steps, from one man to another, that those who ruled over it became governors.  And it became very powerful according to what was pleasing to the judgments of God, who wanted to discipline us because of our sins.


[1] Syr. ܛܝܝ̈ܐ.  This word originally referred to Arabs from the Tay tribe.  This term eventually came to be used to simply mean “Arab” or “Muslim”.  See CSD, 172.

[2] I.e. 621/22 CE.  This refers to the Seleucid calendar, which begins in 311/10 BCE.  When calculating dates based on this calendar it is important to remember that there is no year zero.

[3] Khusro II ruled the Sasanian Empire (i.e. Persia) from 590 to 628 CE.  See Dignas and Winter, Rome and Persia in Late Antiquity, 42.

[4] I.e. Medina.

[5] Syr. ܠܝܡܐ ܬܛܡܢܝܐ, “the southern sea.”

[6] Syr. ܠܥܘܒܐ ܕܝܡܐ ܗܿܘ ܕܦܪ̈ܣܝܐ, “the gulf of the sea of the Persians.”

[7] Lit. “He saw the confession of the one God.”  The words in brackets have been added to clarify that Muhammad did not see this confession but he saw people in Palestine who made this confession.

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[1] Syr. ܛܝܝ̈ܐ. This word originally referred to Arabs from the Tay tribe. This term eventually came to be used to simply mean “Arab” or “Muslim”. See CSD, 172.

[2] I.e. 621/22 CE. This refers to the Seleucid calendar, which begins in 311/10 BCE. When calculating dates based on this calendar it is important to remember that there is no year zero.

[3] Heraclius was emperor of the Roman Empire (i.e. the Byzantine Empire) from 610 to 641 CE. For the reign of Heraclius see Walter E. Kaegi, Heraclius, Emperor of Byzantium (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), and Beae Dignas and Engelbert Winter, Rome and Persia in Late Antiquity: Neighbours and Rival (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 45.

[4] Khusro II ruled the Sasanian Empire (i.e. Persia) from 590 to 628 CE. See Dignas and Winter, Rome and Persia in Late Antiquity, 42.

[5] I.e. Medina.

[6] Syr. ܛܝܝ̈ܐ. See note 1 above.

[7] Syr. ܠܝܡܐ ܬܛܡܢܝܐ, “the southern sea.”

[8] Syr. ܠܥܘܒܐ ܕܝܡܐ ܗܿܘ ܕܦܪ̈ܣܝܐ, “the gulf of the sea of the Persians.”

[9] I.e. because the land is prosperous.

[10] Lit. “He saw the confession of the one God.” The words in brackets have been added to clarify that Muhammad did not see this confession but he saw people in Palestine who made this confession.

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