The history of the ribāṭ of Kafr Lāb is shrouded in obscurity. Until the IAA undertook archaeological excavations of the site near Caesarea in 1999, the great majority of contemporary scholars tended to attribute the fortress's construction to the Crusaders, who captured the port-city of Caesarea and its district in 1101. Based on written records from the Islamic and pre-Islamic periods and the newly available archaeological evidence, this article proposes an alternative origin. Considering its compounded toponym, the semi-nomadic Arabs likely established the village in which the fortress sits long before the fall of Caesarea to Muslims in 19/640. Drawing on Ibn al-Murajjā's Faḍāʾil and Ibn ʿAsākir's History of Damascus, this article asserts that the unidentified pious warrior-saint called Mujāhid al-Kafr Lābī, seeming to acquire the surname following ribāṭ service in the village, might likely be the same as the well-known Successor, exegete, and reciter Mujāhid ibn Jabr. In addition to maintaining strong ties with the ruling circles of the Umayyad dynasty, Mujāhid actively participated in two major naval expeditions. Evidence makes it probable that the caliph Hishām ibn ʿAbd al-Malik constructed the ribāṭ of Kafr Lāb following the Umayyad's massive expeditions and seizures against Constantinople in 672-680 and 717–718.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2022 Society for the Medieval Mediterranean.
- coastal fortification
- Kafr Lāb/Kafr Lām
- maritime expeditions
- Mujāhid ibn Jabr
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Religious studies