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BistamEI.pdf Bisṭām b. Ḳays b. Masʿūd b. Ḳays, Abu ʾl-Ṣahbāʾ or Abū Zīḳ (according to Ibn al-Kalbī, Djamhara 203, nicknamed “al-Mutaḳammir”)—pre-Islamic hero, poet and sayyid of the Banu Shaybān. His family was considered one of the three most noble and aristocratic Bedouin families (al-Aghānī, xvii, 105). His father is known (al-Muḥabbar, 253) as one of the “dhawū ɇl-Ākāl” (enjoying grants of the foreign rulers) and was granted by the Sāsānid kings as a fee Ubulla and the adjacent border territories (Ṭaff Safawān) against the obligation to prevent marauding raids of his tribesmen. Failing to fulfill his obligation in face of the opposition in his own tribe, and being suspected of plotting with Arab chiefs against Persian rule, he was imprisoned and died in a Persian gaol (al-Aghānī, xx, 140). It is a significant fact, that Bisṭām did not avenge the death of his father. On the contrary, Persian diplomacy succeeded, despite the Arab victory at Dhū Ḳār, in assuring the collaboration of Bisṭām, and a fairly trustworthy tradition (al-Naḳāʾiḍ, 580) shows that the Shaybānī troops were equipped by the Persian ʿāmil at ɈAyn al-Tamr. Born in the last quarter of the 6th century A.D. (T. Nöldeke, in Der Islam, xiv, 125) Bisṭām became a leader of his tribe at the age of twenty (Ibn al-Kalbī, op. cit.) and succeeded in uniting his tribe: he is known as one of the “djarrārūn” (al-Muḥabbar, 250). Abandoning the idea of fighting the Persians he directed all his activities against his neighbours of the Banū Tamīm. His first raid against the Banū YarbūɈ, a branch of the Banū Tamīm, was—according to al-Balādhurī—at al-AɈshāsh (Ansāb, x, 998 b). The Shaybānī troops were defeated, Bisṭām himself was captured and released without ransom. His second raid was probably at Ḳushāwa (Ansāb, x, 1003b). Here it is clearly mentioned that Bisṭām commanded the attacking troops, but the raid itself was insignificant and ended with seizing of camels of a clan of the Banū Salīṭ. To the same early period belongs apparently the encounter with al-AḳraɈ b. Ḥābis at Salmān, in which al-AḳraɈ was captured. A more serious enterprise was the raid of Ghabīṭ al-Madara (known as the Yawm Baṭn Faldj). A tribal federation of the ThaɈālib was attacked and overcome by the troops of Bisṭām, but when the attackers proceeded against the Banū Mālik b. Hanẓala, they met resistance and were put to flight with the aid of warriors of Banū YarbūɈ. Bisṭām, captured by ɈUtayba b. al-Ḥārith, had to pay a very high ransom and was compelled to promise not to attack the clan of ɈUtayba any more (Ansāb, 998a, 988a, 995b, 996a). Breaking his promise he attacked after a short time the camp of ɈUtayba's son at Dhū Ḳār (Ansāb 995b, 998a) and succeeded in seizing the camels (the raid is also known as Yawm Fayḥān). Not content with this victory, he prepared an attack on the Banū Tamīm in order to capture ɈUtayba; but he was defeated in this battle at al-Ṣamd (or Dhū Ṭulūḥ) and barely escaped with his life (Ansāb, 998a). A further battle at al-Ufāḳa (known as the battle of al-Ghabīṭayn or al-ɈUẓāla), prepared and aided by the Persian ʿāmil at ɈAyn al-Tamr, ended with the defeat of the attackers and with the escape of Bisṭām (Ansāb, 1004 b). Bisṭām fought his last battle at Naḳā al-Ḥasan. He was killed by a half-witted abbī, ɈĀṣim b. Khalīfa, who is said to have boasted of his deed at the court of ɈUthmān. The date of his death may be fixed at circa 615 A.D. Very little is known about the posterity of Biṣṭām. His grand-daughter Ḥadrāɇ, the daughter of his son Zīḳ was about to marry al-Farazdaḳ but died before the appointed date. Bisṭām is said to have been a Christian. He was the sayyid of his tribe; when the news of his death reached his tribe, they pulled down their tents as an expression of their sorrow. Many elegies were composed on his death, and his person was glorified as the ideal of Bedouin courage and bravery. But in the times of al-Djāḥiẓ, in the urban mixed society of the towns of ɈIrāḳ, his glory faded away and the common people preferred to listen to the story of ɈAntara (al-Bayān, i, 34) which came closer to their social equalitarian tendencies (cf. EI, s.v. ʿAntara, R. Blachère). (M. J. Kister) Bibliography Sources quoted in E. Bräunlich, Bisṭām b. Ḳays, Leipzig 1923 and by Th. Nöldeke, in his review of Bräunlich's book in Isl. xiv, 123 Ibn al-Kalbī: Djamharat al-Nasab, MS Brit. Mus. No. Add. 23297 (reported by Muḥammad b. Ḥabīb), 203 al-Balādhurī, Ansāb, MS., x, 988a, 995b, 998a, 1003b, 1004b al-Djāḥiẓ, al-Bayān (ed. Sandūbī) index Muḥammad b. Ḥabīb, al-Muḥabbar (ed. Lichtenstaedter) index al-Suwaydī, Sabāʾik, Baghdād 1280, 103, 112, 113 al-Āmidī, al-Muʾtalif, 64, 141 al-Marzubānī, Muʿdjam al-Shuʿarāʾ (ed. Krenkow) 300, 324, 405 Ibn Ḥazm, Djamhara (ed. Lévi-Provençal), 306 Djawād ɈAlī, Taʾrīkh, Baghdād 1955, 362-3, 370 R. Blachère, A propos de trois poètes arabes d'époque archaïque in Arabica, iv, 231-249 W. Caskel, Aijām al-ʿArab, in Islamica, iii, 1-100 Muḥammad b. Ziyād al-AɈrābī, Asmāʾ al-Khayl (ed. Levi della Vida), 60, 89 Abuɇl-Baḳāɇ Hībat Allāh, al-Manāḳib (B.M. MS. 23296), 36a, 38b, 42a, 44a, 111b al-Djāḥiẓ, al-Ḥayawān (ed. ɈA. S. Hārūn), i, 330, ii, 104. [Print Version: Volume I, page 1247, column 2] Citation: Kister, M.J. “Bisṭām b. Ḳays b. MasɈūd b. Ḳays, Abu ɇl-Ṣahbāɇ or Abū Zīḳ.” Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Edited by: P. Bearman; Th. Bianquis; C.E. Bosworth; E. van Donzel; and W. P. Heinrichs.