Bishr ibn Safwan al-Kalbi

Bishr ibn Safwan al-Kalbi (Arabic: بشر بن صفوان الكلبي) (died 727) was a provincial governor for the Umayyad Caliphate, serving in Egypt (720–721) and Ifriqiyah (721–727).

Bishr ibn Safwan al-Kalbi
Governor of Egypt
In office
MonarchYazid II
Preceded byAyyub ibn Sharhabil
Succeeded byHanzalah ibn Safwan al-Kalbi
Governor of Ifriqiya
In office
MonarchYazid II, Hisham
Preceded byMuhammad ibn Yazid
Succeeded byUbaydah ibn Abd al-Rahman al-Qaysi
Personal details
RelationsHanzalah ibn Safwan al-Kalbi (brother)
  • Safwan ibn Tuwayl (father)


The son of one Safwan ibn Tuwayl, Bishr was an Arab of the Banu Kalb tribe. He and his family traced their genealogy back to the pre-Islamic chieftain Zuhayr ibn Janab.[1]

In 720 Bishr was appointed governor of Egypt by the caliph Yazid ibn Abd al-Malik as a replacement for Ayyub ibn Sharhabil. During his time in that province, he cancelled several measures that had been enacted by his predecessor, including a salary increase for the local Muslims and fiscal exemptions for Christian churches, and implemented a reform of the diwan registers by segregating members of the Quda'ah from those of other tribes.[2] It was also during Bishr's governorship that the city of Tinnis came under attack by the Byzantines, resulting in the deaths of several Muslims there.[3]

In 721 Bishr was ordered by Yazid to establish himself in Ifriqiyah (North Africa) following the murder of its governor Muhammad ibn Yazid, and he accordingly set out west, leaving his brother Hanzalah ibn Safwan to govern Egypt in his stead. Upon arriving in the province, he was informed that Abdallah ibn Musa ibn Nusayr had been behind Muhammad's death and wrote to Yazid of the matter. After receiving Yazid's reply that Abdallah should be put to death, Bishr executed him and sent his head on to the caliph. He also proceeded to confiscate Abdallah's property and implemented punitive measures against his former associates.[4]

In 723 Bishr set out from Ifriqiyah to meet the caliph in person, but while en route he learned that Yazid had died and been succeeded by Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik. Bishr therefore presented the new caliph with the tribute that had been meant for Yazid; Hisham responded by re-confirming his governorship over Ifriqiyah, and afterwards sent him to return to the province.[5]

While in Ifriqiyah Bishr dispatched his commanders on regular campaigns against Byzantine targets in the Mediterranean Sea. Sardinia came under attack in 721 and 727, while in 724 both Sardinia and Corsica were struck; raids against unknown objectives were also made in 722 and 726. Bishr himself led an expedition against Sicily which resulted in the acquisition of spoils, but this offensive ended badly when storms overtook his fleet and caused much of his army to perish.[6]

Bishr died in Kairouan of disease in 727, and was afterwards replaced with Ubaydah ibn Abd al-Rahman al-Qaysi.[7]


  1. ^ The exact rendering of Tuwayl's name is given variously in the sources. Ibn Hazm 1982, p. 457; Ibn 'Asakir 1995, p. 233; Al-Kindi 1912, p. 69; Ibn Taghribirdi 1929, p. 244.
  2. ^ Kennedy 1998, p. 73; Kubiak 1987, pp. 70, 92; Al-Kindi 1912, pp. 70–71; Severus 1910, p. 72.
  3. ^ Al-Kindi 1912, p. 70; Ibn Taghribirdi 1929, p. 244.
  4. ^ Blankinship 1994, p. 138; Jones 1858, p. 31; Gordon et al. 2018, p. 1030; Khalifah ibn Khayyat 1985, p. 326; Al-Baladhuri 1916, p. 366; Ibn Khaldoun 1852, p. 357; Al-Kindi 1912, p. 71; Ibn Taghribirdi 1929, pp. 244–45.
  5. ^ Blankinship 1994, p. 138; Jones 1858, pp. 31–32; Gordon et al. 2018, p. 1036; Khalifah ibn Khayyat 1985, pp. 334, 349; Al-Baladhuri 1916, pp. 366–67. Al-Kindi 1912, p. 72, reports that Bishr made it as far as Egypt before learning that Yazid had died, upon which he turned around and returned to Ifriqiyah.
  6. ^ Blankinship 1994, p. 139; Khalifah ibn Khayyat 1985, pp. 328, 330, 336, 338, 339; Jones 1858, p. 32; Ibn Khaldoun 1852, pp. 357–58.
  7. ^ Blankinship 1994, p. 138; Jones 1858, p. 32; Gordon et al. 2018, p. 1036; Khalifah ibn Khayyat 1985, p. 349; Al-Baladhuri 1916, p. 367; Ibn Khaldoun 1852, p. 358; Ibn Taghribirdi 1929, p. 245; Ibn 'Asakir 1995, pp. 236–37.


Preceded by Governor of Egypt
Succeeded by
Preceded by Governor of Ifriqiyah
Succeeded by