Under the early Caliphates, jund (Arabic: جند; plural ajnad,
اجناد) was a term for a military division, which became applied
to Arab military colonies in the conquered lands and, most notably, to
the provinces into which Greater Syria (the Levant) was divided. The
term later acquired various meanings throughout the Muslim world.
1 Origin and evolution of the term
6 See also
Origin and evolution of the term
The term jund is of Iranian origin, and appears in the
designate an armed troop. Under the
Caliphate it came to be
applied in a more technical sense to "military settlements and
districts in which were quartered Arab soldiers who could be mobilized
for seasonal campaigns or for more protracted expeditions" as well as
the "corresponding army corps" (Dominique Sourdel).
Gradually, however, and aside from its technical use for the provinces
of Syria (see below), the term acquired a broader meaning of the
entire armed forces of a state. Thus one of the caliphal fiscal
departments, the diwan al-jund, administered the pay and provisions of
the army. In addition, the geographers of the 9th–10th centuries
used the term ajnad as an equivalent of amṣar or large towns.
Syria (Bilad al-Sham) and its provinces (ajnad) under the Abbasid
Caliphate in the 9th century
The most notable use of the term was in Syria, where already the
Abu Bakr is credited with dividing the region into
al-Urdunn), and Palestine (
Jund Filastin). The
Umayyad Caliph Yazid I
then added the district of
Jund Qinnasrin). This
practice remained unique to Syria and was not emulated in any other
province of the Caliphates, which were usually headed by a single
governor; hence they were often referred to collectively as al-Shamat,
The circumscriptions of the ajnad by and large followed the
Byzantine provincial boundaries, but with modifications.
As K. Y. Blankinship notes, their inception as elements of a system of
military defense, aimed at safeguarding control over Syria and
defending against any
Byzantine assault, is evident by the placement
of the new provinces' capitals at even distances from each other—to
function as control and mobilization centers—and securely in the
interior, far from any seaborne attack. The army corps of the ajnad
of Syria comprised exclusively Arabs, who received a regular salary
(ʿatāʾ) drawn from the income of the land tax (kharāj), in
addition to which they received land grants. On campaign, they were
accompanied by retainers (shākiriyya) and reinforced by volunteers
The division into ajnad continued in Syria under the Abbasid Caliphate
and beyond, until well into Mamluk times. Under the Abbasids, a
governor-general of Syria often presided over all of the districts,
while in 785
Harun al-Rashid added the new district of
in the north, encompassing the frontier zone with the Byzantines.
In Egypt, soon after its conquest, a military colony (miṣr) was
established in Fustat. The Arab settlers who comprised it became known
as the jund of Egypt. They too, like the Syrian ajnad, were inscribed
on the army rolls (dīwān) and received a regular salary. For long
they provided the only Muslim military force in the province, and
played a major role in the political life of the country, jealously
safeguarding their privileged position for the first two centuries of
the Islamic period, until their power was broken in the turmoils of
the Fourth Fitna.
The jund system in some form seems to have been introduced in Muslim
Spain (al-Andalus) as well: in 742, the troops involved in the ongoing
conquest of the peninsula were allotted lands in nine districts
(mujannada). By the 10th century, the term jund came to encompass
these men alongside the enlisted volunteers (ḥushud) as distinct
from foreign mercenaries (ḥasham).
In the Maghrib, beginning with the
Aghlabid rulers of Ifriqiya, the
term jund came to be applied to the personal guard of the ruler, and
henceforth "kept a restricted sense which is often difficult to
define, rarely applying to the whole army" (D. Sourdel). A similar
usage is evident in Mamluk Egypt, where the term applied to a specific
section of the sultan's personal troops, though not his actual
Jund al-Sham, extremist Islamic group
^ a b c d e f g h i j Sourdel 1965, pp. 601–602.
^ a b Blankinship 1994, pp. 47–48.
^ Cobb 2001, pp. 11–12.
^ Cobb 2001, p. 12.
^ Kennedy 1998, pp. 64–81.
Blankinship, Khalid Yahya (1994). The End of the Jihâd State: The
Reign of Hishām ibn ʻAbd al-Malik and the Collapse of the Umayyads.
Albany, New York: State University of New York Press.
Cobb, Paul M. (2001). White banners: contention in ‘Abbāsid Syria,
750–880. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Kennedy, Hugh (1998). "Egypt as a province in the Islamic caliphate,
641–868". In Petry, Carl F. Cambridge History of Egypt, Volume One:
Islamic Egypt, 640–1517. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
pp. 62–85. ISBN 0-521-47137-0.
Sourdel, D. (1965). "D̲j̲und". In Lewis, B.; Pellat, Ch.; Schacht,
J. The Encyclopaedia of Islam, New Edition, Volume II: C–G. Leiden:
E. J. Brill. pp. 601–602. ISBN 90-04-07