THE EASTERN CALIPHATE
1. In commencing the history of the Omayyad dynasty we must first recur to the causes which brought about the triumph of this family, and which led its chief to substitute Damascus for Medina as the seat of the Caliphate; an event which led to produced changes in the Moslem empire, and exercised a considerable influence on its development. In the same way, at a later date, the transfer of the Caliphate from Damascus to Baghdad marked the accession of a new family to the supreme power, and gave Islam a new direction.
In the time of Mohammed, the Arabs were divided into an infinite number of tribes, some settled, others nomadic, which were constantly at war with each other. The Prophet united them into one body, but he could not entirely eradicate the hatred which had existed for ages between tribe and tribe. Thus the people of Mecca and those of Medina hated each other, because the former were a branch of the race of Maadd, the great ancestor of the tribes of the North; while the latter belonged to the Yemenite race, or that of the South. The conquest of Mecca by Mohammed and his allies of Medina only exasperated this hatred, and the nobles of the Koraish swore to take revenge on the Yemenites, as soon as they should be able to do so. One of the most violent opponents of the Prophet had been, as we have seen, the father of that very Moawiya who founded the Omayyad dynasty, Abu Sofyan, grandson of Omayya, the leader of the Meccans in the battle at Ohod; and its related that his wife Hind, having found Hamza, Mohammeds uncle, among the dead, cut open his body, and tore out and devoured his liver. We have also seen how Abu Sofyan ultimately made his submission and embraced Islam, but only under compulsion. His son Moawiya became; it is true, one of Mohammeds secretaries; but we know that his faith was never very strong, and that he always made his religion subordinate to the interests of his family. Even in his youth, he had conceived the project of recovering the supreme power for his own race, and it has been related above how the inner conflicts of Islam under the Caliphate of Othman and Ali carried him forwards towards this goal.
Moawiya might, no doubt, have marched to the help of Othman with an army of Syrians; but the preservation of the Caliph, his relative, would not have served the purposes of his burning ambition, and we may say without hesitation that it was with secret joy that the prefect of Damascus heard of the fatal result of the plot against Othman. The Syrians were entirely devoted to Moawiya. Polite, amiable, and generous, he had gained the goodwill of all the Arabs of Syrias, for whom Islam had remained a dead letter, and who, continuing Bedouins at heart, shared the feelings of their chief against the new aristocracy of Medina. Consequently, when Alf, Othmans successor, summoned Moawiya for the last time to acknowledge him, and when Moawiya, assembling his partisans in the mosque of Damascus, asked their advice, they replied that it was his part to command, and theirs to obey and to act. The enthusiasm of the Syrians was great; and Moawiya having ordered a levy en masse, within three days every able-bodied man had joined his standard. Syria alone supplied Moaiya with more troops than all the rest of provinces put together furnished to Ali, who is said to have addressed his soldiers with these bitter words; "I would gladly exchange ten of you for on of Moawiya soldiers." Then he added-in allusion to the savage action of Hind, Moawoyas mother, on the field of battle at Ohod "By God! he will gain the victory, this son of the liver-eater!"
"Alis gloomy anticipations were fulfilled; but it was by stratagem that Moawiya gained his victory. The battle of Siffin , the abortive negotiations that followed, and the withtdrawal of the Kharijites, have been already spoken of. The negotiations ended in the conference of Dumat al Jandanl, a small place situated between Syria and Irak, about seven days; journey from Damascus and thirteen from Medina. Here in Ramadan, A.H. 37 ( A.D. 657-658), Abu Muisa and Amr b. al-As (the famous conqueror of Egypt) appeared as arbitrators for Ali and Moawiya respectively, and the cunning of the latter induced Abu Musa to pronounce both pretendants deprived of whatever rights either might have to the Caliphate, and to say that it now rested with the Moslems to make a new choice. Amr, who was only waiting for this declaration, rose in his turn, and said to the Arabs who were crowding round the platform: "O people, ye hear what AbuMusa says. He himself renounces the claims of his master. I also agree to the deprivation fo Ali, I proclaim my master Moawiya Caliph." Abu Musa cried out against this treachery, but no one would listen to him, and he fled for refuge to Mecca, where he ultimately recognized the claims of Moawiya, even in "Alis lifetime. This event marks the commencement of the Omayyad dynasty. Amr went in triumph to Damascus, where the Syrians took the oath of fidelity to Moawiya.
In Irak, on the other hand, with the exception of the Kharijites, all the people, remained faithful to the cause of "Ali, who, mounting the pulpit at Cufa, summoned his army to the field, and fixed their rendezvous at Nokhaila, a small place not far from the city. The Kharijites had taken refuge at Nahrowan, and "Ali found it necessary to attack them there, before marching against the Syrians. At his arrival most of the rebels dispersed, except from fifteen to eighteen hundred fanatics, who remained at their post and allowed themselves to be slaughtered to the last man. Thus rid of the Kharijites, "Ali meant to direct his march towards Syria, but his soldiers refused to move, and declared their intention of first taking some rest at Cufa. Compelled to inaction, Ali returned to Cufa, while Moawiya gave his attention to securing the possession of the provinces. At the beginning of A.H. 38 (A.D. 658-659), Egypt was lost of Ali. Amr b. al-As was sent thither by Moawiya, and marched without delay, at the heads of five thousand men, against Alis vocegerent, Mohammed, son of the late Caliph, Abubekr. The brave general Ashatr, whom Ali sent to the help of Mohammed, was poisoned at Kolzom by the prefect of that place, acting under secret orders from Moawiya, and "Alis troops retraced their steps meanwhile, in Egypt itself, a partisan of the Omayyads, Moawiya b. Hodaji, who was at the head of six thousand fighting men, had declared against Mohammed, and driven him from Fostat. On his arrival in Egypt, Amr effected a junction with Moawiya b. Hodaji, and the unfortunate Mohammed, beaten by his adversaries, fell into the hands of Ibn Hodaji, who put him to death.
While Egypt was thus being lost to "Ali, commotions were excited at Basra itself by a partisan of the Omayyads. These were, however, put down by the governor of that city, Ziyad. This man was Moawiyas own brother, but illegitimate, and not having been acknowledged by his father, Abu Sofyan, he had revenged himself by embracing the party of "Ali. Ziyad was renowed among the Arabs for his eloquence, hisresolution, and his courage. At a later period, Moawiya gained him over to his cause by publicly acknowledging him as his brother. At the time we speak of, he was a faithful servant of Ali, and a soon as the revolt of Basra was put down, he marched into Farsistan, where he maintained peace and kept the inhabitants in their allegiance. Meanwhile, however, the other provinces were falling one after the other under the power of Moawiya. His general penetrated into the heart of Chaldaea; and even in Arabia, where Alis generals had at first gained some advantages, Bosr b. Artah obtained possession of Medina A.H. 40 (A.D. 660-661), and compelled its inhabitants to acknowledge Moawiya. After this he marched upon Mecca, expelled Kotham, Alis governor, and there also exacted an oath of obedience to his master. Following up his successes, Bosr did not hesitate to press southward, and soon gained possession of Yemen. "Ali was now no longer master of anything but Irak and a part of Persia, and even of these provinces the former was menaced by the Syrians, as we have seen. Taking advantage of some partial successes gained by his forces in Arabia and in Syria, "Ali made overtures for peace, but they were rejected. Moawiya believed himself too sure of ultimate success to be willing to share the empire.
It was then that three men of the Khairjites conceived the project of delivering Islam from those who were desolating it with fire and blood. Abd al-Rahman b. Moljam, Boriak b. Abdallah, and Amr b. Bekr, agreed that on the very same day the first should kill Ali at Cufa, th second Moawiya at Damascus, and the third Amr b. ar As at Fostat. They fixed on Frisday the 15th of Ramadan, A.H. 40, when theyw ere sure of finding their victims at the mosque. The plot was put in execution, but "Ali alone fell. On the appointed day, Boriak made his way into the mosque of Damascus, and stablkled Moawiya in the back with his sword. Before he could repeat the blow he was seized, and Moawiya recovered from his wound. As for Amr, he had been kept at home by illness; his place at the mosque was taken by Kharija, the chief of his guards; and it was he who fell beneath the blows of Amr b. Bekr. Abnd al-Rahman was more successful. As "Ali was entering the mosque, he death him a blow on the head with his sword, and stretched him on the ground mortally wounded. Two days later Ali died, and the assassin was put to death with horrible torments.
"Ali left two sons, Hasan and Hosain. The people of Irak chose Hasan Caliph. But hem not having his fathers energy, recoiled before the prospect of a war with Moawiya. Though he had an army of forty thousand men at his disposal, he prefeered to renounce the Caliphate. Besides, one of his generals, Kais b. Sad, who urged him to continue the struggle, and had himself tried the chance of arms, had just been beaten by the Syrians. In consequence of this defeat, a mutiny had broken out in Hasans army. He abdicated, and only demanded, in exchange for the power which he resigned, pardon for his relatives and a yearly pension of five millions of dirhems, together with the revenues of the Persian city of Darabgird. A treaty to this effect was concluded between Moawiya and Hasan, in spite of the opposition of Hosain, who exhorted his brother to continue the struggle; and Moawiya entered Cufa at the head of his army, according to some authorities towards the end of the month of Rabi I., A.H. 41 (July, A.D. 661), according to others a month or two later. Hasan retired to Medina, where he died eight or nine years afterwards, poisoned, it is said, by order of the Caliph.
Moawiya, who now remained sole master of the Moslem empire, was, however, not yet universally acknowledged. Five thousand Kharijites made head against him in the province of Ahwaz, the ancient Susiana, and a revolt broke out at Basra. Ziyad himself, Moawiyas brotherm refused to take the oath to him, and fortified himself at Istakhr, the ancient Persepolis. The revolt at Basra was put down by Bosr b. Artah, and Moghira b. Shoba, whom Moawiya had named prefect of Cufa, accepted the task of bringing about a reconciliation with Ziyad. Ziyad refused to take the oath of allegiance only because he feared being called to account for certain sums of money which were missing from the public treasury of Persia. Moawiya promised to shut his eyes to these irregularities; and Ziyad came to Damascus and was very well received by the Caliph, who hastened to adopt the bastard as his brother, to the great scandal of allpious Moslems. After acknowledging Ziyad, who thusbecame Ziyad son of Abu Sofyan, Moawiya entrusted him with the government of Basra and of Persia, and afterwards with that of Cufa, when Moghira b. Shoba died. Ziyad governed Irak with the greatest vigor, to the full satisfaction of Moawiya, who further placed the whole of Arabia under his authority; but in that same year A.H. 53 (A.D. 672-673), Ziyad died. It seems that Moawiya had thought of him as his successor in the Caliphate. After Ziyads death, the Caliph wished to secure the throne for his own son Yazid. This was a new violation of the customary rights of Islam; for Mohammed , whose actions served as a rule, had not in his lifetime appointed any one as his successor. Moawiya, who was a statesman above everything, and who held religion very cheap when it interfered with his objects, did not hesitate to create a precedent. He met, however, at first with vigorous opposition, and it was not till some years later that he ventured to have his intentions publicly announced from the pulpit. In Syria the people took the oath of allegiance to Yazid; in Arabia and Irak public opinion declared itself against the step which Moawiyahad taken. The Caliph was not moved; threats prevailed over the obstinacy of the people of Irak, and Mooawiya repaired to Arabia in person, at the head of an army, to intimidate the inhabitants of Mecca and Medina. As may be supposed, the principal fomenters of the resistance in Arabia were the sons of the first Caliphs, Abd al Rahman the son of Abukekr. Abdallah the son of Omar, and Hosain the son of Ali; for, by submitting, they would have renounced allhope of being themselves chosen by the people. Another Abadllah, son of that Zobair who had been among the six candidates nominated at the death of Omar for the choice of the Moslems, was also one of the warmest opponents of the pretensions of Moawiya. All the efforts of the Caliph to win over these personages to his side having proved vain, he ordered them to be brought into the mosque at Mecca, each between two soldiers; then, having mounted the pulpit, he called on the bystanders to take the oath of allegiance to his son; adding that Abd al-Rahman, Hosain, and the two Abdallahs would raise no objection. They, in their terror, did not utter a word, and the assembly took the oath. Then Moawiya, without concerning himself further about the malcontents, returned to Damascus
While thus occupied at home, Moawiya did not neglect foreign affairs. Amr b. alAs, governor of Egypt, died A.H. 43 (A.D. 663-664), and was followed by several prefects in succession, under one of whom the general Moawiya b. Hadaij undertook several expeditions into the province of Africa. In the year 50 (A.D. 670) he advanced as far as Camunia, now Susa, near which city he laid the foundations of the celebrated Kairawan, and even went on to Sabaratha, a town situated near the seashore, and opposite to the island of Crina. The emperor, Constantine IV., had sent thither thirty thousand Greeks, who were beaten and compelled to re-embark in haste. Moawiya b. Hodaij returned to Egypt after his victory, and the Caliph now considered the position of the Moslems in Africa so strong, that he separated that province from Egypt, and appointed as governor of Africa Okba b. Nafi, who permanently established kairawan, in a plain situated at a little distance from the first encampment of Moawiya b. Hodaij. According to some historians, the new city was completed A.H. 55 ( A.D. 674-675)
In the East the successes of the Moslems were still more brilliant. Ziyad, brother of Moawiya, as soon as he was appointed governor of Irak and Persia, sent an army into Khorasan. It advanced as far as the Oxus, crossed that river, and returned loaded with booty taken from the wandering Turkish tribes of Transoxiana. Bokhara was occupied by a son of Ziyad, and Sad, son of the Caliph Othman, whom Moawiya had made governor of Khorasan, marched against Samarkand, A.H. 56 (A.D. 675-676). Other generals penetrated as far as the Indus, and overran and conuered Multan, Kabulistan, Mokran, and Sijistan.
In the North 6the Moslems were not less fortunate in their attacks on the Byzantine empire. Moawiya, while still only governor of Syria, had gained possession of Armenia, and had sent a fleet against Cyprus, which, in conjunction with that of the governor of Egypt, had effected the conquests of that island. Encouraged by the result of this expedition, he gave the order for new incursions in the Mediterranean. His fleet of twelve hundred vessels the islands of Cos, Crete, and Rhodes. The famous Colossus of Rhodes wasbroken to pieces, and it is said that the bronze of which it was made wad bought by a Jew of Emesa, and formed a load for nine hundred and eighty camels. The Arabs even dared to threaten Constantinople, which owed its safety only to the Greek fire. Yazid, the son of Moawiya, took part in these expeditions, but with no great ardor, and in the year (A.D. 677-678) Moawiya concluded a thirty years peace with Constantine IV. Two years later, he died at Damascus, after a reign of nearly twenty years. He had been governor of Syria for the same length of time. Before his death, he sent for his son Yazid, and having pointed out how he had smoothed down all difficulties for him, he advised him to spare no effort to preserve the attachment of the Syrians. He urged him also to keep a close watch on the actions of Hosain b. Ali, and of the other pretenders who had refused to take the oath of allegiance to him; but he added that, should they rebel, Yazid ought to treat them with clemency, and not to forget their illustrious origin. By failing to act upon this wise advice, Yazid rendered reconcilable that formidable schism which, even at the present day, still divides the Moslem world, and which, at all periods, has been a source of calamity to Islam.
2. Yazid had not his fathers genius. Passionately fond of pleasure, and careless about religion, he bestowed more care on turning a pretty couplet than on consolidating the strength of his empire. During his short reign he committed three actions for which Moslems never pardoned his memory: the murder of Hosain, son of "Ali and grandson of the Prophet; the pillage of Medina; and the taking of the Kaba, the venerated temple of Mecca; crimes which were not redeemed in the eyes of the people by a few fortunate expeditions on the part of his generals.
Immediately on ascending the throne, in the month Rajab A.H. 60 (April A.D. 680), Yazid sent a circular to all his prefects, with an official announcement of his fathers death, and an order to administer the oath of allegiance to their respective subjects. In particular, he charged the new prefect whom he appointed to Medina, his own cousin Walid b. Otba, to strike off the heads of Hosain son of Ali Abd al-Rahman son of Abubekr, Abdallah son of Omar, and Abdallah son of Zobair, if they again refused to acknowledge him. Terrified at such a commission, Walid did not dare to act with rigour against Hosain and Abdallah b. Zobair, both of whom refused to take the oath, but allowed them to escape to Mecca. Yazid immediately deprived him of his office, and appointed in his place Amr b. Sa;id, already governor of Mecca. Once in the Holy City, Abdallah b. Zobair thought himself in such perfect safety that he began to intrigue with the Meccans to have himself proclaimed Caliph in Arabia. At Cufa the news of the flight of Hosain produced great agitation among he partisans of the family of Ali, who were numerous there, and they sent several addresses to the grandson of the Prophet, inviting him to take refuge with them, and promising to have him proclaimed Caliph in Irak. Hosain, who knew the fickleness of the people of Iral, hesitated to yield to their entreaties; but Ibn Zobair, who was desirous to get rid at all costs of so formidable a rival, persuaded him that he ought to go and put himself at the head of the people of Irak, and enter on a open struggle with Yazid. Hosain began by sending his cousin Moslim b. Akil to Cufa, and from him he learned that many of the inhabitants of that city appeared really decided to support him. The perfect of Cufa, Noman b. Bashir, though apprised of these proceedings, did not choose to make them known to Yazid, as he was reluctant to act with severity against a descendant of the Prophet. Information, however, reached the Caliph, who deprived Noman of his office, and ordered Obaid Allah, son of the famous Ziyad, and then governor of Basra, to give up his post there to his brother Othman, and to repair in person to Cufa, in order to watch the partisans of Ali in that city. Obaid Allah obeyed, entered Cufa, and, ascending the pulpit the very day after his arrival, publicly announced his firm intention of putting to death any one who should rebel. Moslim b. Akil was given up by a traitor and executed. Meanwhile Hosain, on receiving his cousins dispatches, had already set out from Mecca with all his family, and had reach Kadisiya (a place situated only fifteen parasangs from Cufa, and noted for the defeat sustained there by the Persians during the Caliphate of Omar), when he received the news of these vexations occurrences. He wished to retrace his steps immediately, but the friends of Moslim dissuaded him from doing so, crying out for revenge, and representing to him that doubtless he had only to show himself under the walls of Cufa to be received with enthusiasm by its inhabitants. Hosain accordingly pursued his journey towards Cufa. But Obaid Allah, who was watching all his movements, sent four thousand horsemen, devoted to the Omayyad cause, to meet him, with orders to bring Hosain before him either alive or dead. The commander of these horsemen was Omar b. Sad, to whom Obaid Allah had promised the government of Media as a reward, if his expedition should succeed. The Omayyads met Hosain in the plain of Kerbela, opposite to Cufa, before he had reached the Euphrates and surrounded him. Omar b. Sad himself sought out Hosain and summoned him to surrender. Hosain declared himself ready to renounce his pretensions, provided he were allowed to return to Mecca with his followers, or were even sent to Damascus. When Obaid Allah was informed of this proposal, he simply repeated former order to bring Hosain to Cufa, dead or alive; and, fearing the defection of Omar b. Sad, he sent out another troop of horsemen under the oders of a certain Shimr. On the 9th of Moharram in the year 61 (9th October A.D. 680), Shimr reached Kerbela, and summoned Hosain afresh to surrender at discretion. Hosain preferred to die sword in hand, and on the following day, after a desperate struggle, he was cut down with all his followers. His head was cut off and carried to Cufa, and then sent to Damascus . His body was not buried till the following day. Only the women of his family were spared, and one of his sons; these were taken by Yazids order to Medina, where the sight of their mourning and the tale of their sufferings caused a profound sensation. The horror and grief of the partisans of Alis family were great. Hence the names of Yazid, Obaid Allah, and Shimr, have been held accursed ever since by the Shiites. They observe the 10th of Moharram as a day of public mourning. Among the Persians, stages are erected in public places on that day, and plays are acted, representing the misfortunes of the family of Ali. The Omayyads themselves were loud in their reprobation of this impious massacre, and all Moslems, without distinction of party, considered it a monstrous act.
At Mecca the news was received with a degree of indignation of which Abdallah b. Zobair took advantage to assume the title of Caliph. As early as A.H. 60, the new prefect of Medina had tried to secure his person. He had sent against him a force of two thousand men, at whose head was placed a brother of the pseudo-Caliph himself, called Amr. Who, having been accused by Abdallah of maintaining a guilty intercourse with one of his wives, had become his bitter enemy. Abdallah collected an army, and placed it under the orders of Abdallah b. Safwan, who completely defeated the Omayyad troops. The brother of the pesudo-Caliph was taken and put to death. At the news of this defeat, Yazid swore that Ibn Zobair should never appear before him but as a prisoner in chains. He dismissed the new prefect of Medina, and reinstated Walid b. Otba, who, in the year 61, went to Mecca to try to seize Abadallah b. Zobair. The latter, in derision, wrote too Yazid: "Walid is a madman, who will ruin everything by his folly; send in his place another governor to repair the wrongs he has done." Yazid thought that Abadallah meant these words as a step towards reconciliation; hastened to deprive Walid of his office appointed Othman b. Mohammed in his place; and even sent envoys to Ibn Zobair. He, however, would not listen to them; he thought he could reckon upon the devotion of the people of Mecca, and further hoped that Medina itself would declare against Yazid. This, in fact, took place in the year 63 (A.D. 682-683). The people of Medina, stirred up by a certain Abdallah b. Hanzala, who had had a near view of Yazid at the court of Damascus, and had been scandalized by the profligacy of his life, revolted, drove the governor and all the Omayyad out of Medina, and proclaimed the dethronement of Yazid. The Caliphate was even offered by some to Ali, that one of the sons of Hosain who had escaped the massacre of Kerbela; but Ali wisely refused it. At the news of this revolt, Yazid first sent an ambassador to Medina. This step proving fruitless, he next collected an army of from ten to twelve thousand Syrians, and entrusted their command to Moslim b. Okba, who passed, and with good reason, for a man who would recoil from nothing. This general, though weighed down by age and sickness, marched against Medina, took it, after a battle known as the day of Harra (26th Dhu l-Hijja 63, 26th August 683), and gave up the city for three days to massacre and pillage. Torrents of blood flowed, and hence Moslim b. Okaba received the surname of Mosrif (the Prodigal). On the fourth day, Moslim repaired to the mosque, and received the oath of allegiance from all those of the citizens of Medina who had not been able to make their escape. The news reached Mecca a few days later, and fell like a thunder-stroke on Ibn Zobair and his adherents, who prepared for war, expecting from day to day to see Moslim appear before the walls of their city. He had, in fact, started for Mecca immediately after the conquest of Medina; but he died on the road, and the command was taken by Hosain b. Nomair. The Omayyad army arrived before mecca a month after the capture of Medina, and found Ibn Zobair ready to defend it. A number of the citizens of Medina had come to the aid of the Holy City, as well as many Kharijites and Shiites, at the head of whom was a certain Mokhtar b. Abi Obaid, who subsequently played a very important part in Irak. In spite of the sorties of the Meccans, the Syrian army invested the city. Hosain b. Nomair had caused balistas to be placed on the neighboring heights; and these, under the management of an Abyssinian soldier, hurled against the Kaba enormous stones and vessels full of blazing bitumen, with such effect that the temple took fire and was consumed . After a siege of two months, Ibn Zobair was beginning to despair, when he received, through an Arab of the desert, news of the death of the death of Yazid. The Caliph had in fact died on the 15th of Rabi I. (11th November 683). Hosain b. Nomair immediately offered the Caliphate to Ibn Zobair, on condition that he should grant a complete amnesty to all those ho had taken part in the battle of Harra and in the siege of Mecca. Abdallah had the folly to refuse, and Hosain then returned to Damascus.
Thus rid of his enemy, Abdallah caused the title of Prince of the True Believers (Amir al-mominin) to be conferred on him a title which Omar had already received, and which was afterwards adopted by all the Caliphs. He sent one of his brothers, Obaid allah, to Medina and chose as governor of Egypt Abd al-Rahman b. Jahdam, who repaired to that province, and caused the authority of Ibn Zobair to be acknowledged there. At Basra and at Cufa, many of the inhabitants did not hesitate to acknowledge him, and received a Zobairite governor, while the Kharijites and the Shiites rose in revolt the former at Basra under the leadership of Nafi b. Azrak, the latter at Cufa under that of Solaiman b. Sorad- and expelled the Omayyad governor, Obaid Allah b. Ziyad, who took refuge at Damascus. Mesopotamia soon followed the example of Irak. Even in Syria, the population seemed disposed to forsake the cause of the Omayyads. The Kharijites and Mokhtar b. Abi Obaid, who had supported Ibn Zobair, now repented of having labored for the elevation of this pretender, and quitted Mecca. The son of Zobaic, remaining thenceforth sole master of Mecca, occupied himself tranquilly in rebuilding the Kaba, which he restored on its ancient foundations.
3. It was in the midst of this break-up of his party that, immediately after the death of Yazid, his eldest son, Moawiya II. , was elected Caliph at Damascus at the age of only seventeen or twenty. He was a young man of weak character, and imbued, it is said, with Shiite opinions. He felt himself incapable of ruling, and was contemplating abdication, when he died, after a reign of but forty days, by poison, as some say; of the plague, as others assert. The Caliphate was immediately offered to Othman b. Otba b. Abi Sofyan, cousin of Moawiya II.; for Khalid, the second son of Yazid, was only sixteen years old. Othman b. Otba, however, having made it a condition of his election that he should not be compelled to enter on any war, or to condemn any one to death, the choice fell at Damascus on Merwan b. al-Hakam, a descendant of Omayya through his grandfather Abul-As, but on condition that he should marry Maisun, the widow of Yazid, and should appoint Khalis, her son, as his successor.
4. Merwan b. al-Hakam had been secretary to the Caliph Othman, and governor of Medina under Mo;aiya I. Yazid, on his accession to power, had dismissed him and put Walid b. Otba in his place; but Merwan had continued to live at Medina, and has been driven from it during the revolt of the year 63, and again in the following year, when Obaid Allah b. Zobair had taken possession of that city in the name of his brother. It might have been thought that Merwan would cherish a deep hatred of Abdallah Ibn Zobair; but he was an old man of sixty-two at the time of his election, and, dreading an unequal struggle, he was on the point of making his submission to the Meccan Caliph. The drooping courage of Merwan was revived by his son Abd-al-Melik and by Obaid Allah b. Ziyab, and he resolved to try the chances of war.
Dahhak, b. Kais, governor of Damascus, had declared himself on the side of Ibn Zobair, and had raised an army, principally from among the tribe of Kais. This tribe and taken offence because Mo;awiya I. and Yazid had chosen their wives from the Yemenite tribe of Kalb, and continuing to resent their conduct, now refused to acknowledge Khalid as the heir-presumptive of Merwan. It was therefore on the Yemenites that Merwan had to depend for the suppression of Dahhaks rebellion. The latter had an army of nearly sixty thousand horsemen, while Merwan could bring together only thirteen thousand infantry. The two armies met at Masrj Rahit, a few miles from Damascus, and, after a series of combats which lasted for twenty days, Merwans troops gained a complete victory, and Dahhak was among the killed. The Syrian provinces hastened to acknowledge the conqueror, and Merwan was able to turn his attention to Egypt, which, as will be remembered, had submitted to the Mecca. Abd al-Aziz, a son of Merwan, had already marched to Aila on the Red Sea, and was preparing to enter Egypt; Merwan joined him, and the Zobairite governor of Egypt, beaten by their united forces, was obliged to seek safety in flight. Merwan made Abd al-Aziz governor of the province. At the beginning of the year 65 (A.D. 684-685) Merwan returned in haste to Syria; for, during his absence, a brother of Ibn Zobair, named Mosab,. Had invaded that province. Merwan triumphed over Mosab; but an army of four thousand men, which he had sent to he Hijaz, and in which was Hajjaja b. Yuzuf then quite a young man, but who afterwards played so important a part underAbd al-Meli was cut to pieces. This defeat was redeemed by a victory gained by his generals, Obaid Allah b. Ziyad and Hosain b. Nomair, at Ain al-Warda over a small army of Shiites led by Solaiman b. Sorad. But while the battle was being fought in Ramadan 65 (April-May 685), Merwan died; suffocated, it is said, by his wife Maisun, because he had insulted her son Khalid, and had broken his word by nominating his own son Abd al-Melik as his successor. The accession of Abd al- Melik was attended with no difficulty, as he was acknowledged by the whole of Syria and Egypt. The Kaisites naturally rallied round him, because he had not a drop of Yemenite blood in his veins.
5. When Abd al-Melik ascended the throne, thee still remained much to be done before the unity of the empire could be re-established. Ibn Zobair was still master of Arabia and of Irak, though in the latter province his authority was very much shaken by the permanent rebellion of the Shiites at Cufa, and of the Kharijites at Basra. The Zobairite general Mohallab has, it is true, succeeded in forcing back the Kharijites into Susiana and Persia; but at Cufa the Shiites, at the instigation of Mokhtar, continued their agitation. Mokhtar, as we have seen, had withdrawn from Mecca after the raising of the siege by Hosain b. Nomair. He returned to Cufa, and there fomented serious disturbances. Many of the inhabitants of that city repented bitterly of having allowed Hosain, the grandson of the Prophet, to be massacred. Amid the general disorder of the Moslem empire, Mokhtar hoped to make his own authority acknowledged in Irak and Mesopotamia. He put himself forward as the avenger of the family of Ali, and pretended to have been commissioned by a son of Ali, Mohammed b. Hanafiya, who was living at Medina, to give effect to his rights to the Caliphate. Many Shiites believed him, and, detesting their chief Solaiman b. Sorad, joined Mokhtart. On learning these intrigues, the Zobairite governor threw him into prison. Soon after the defeat of Solaiman at Ain al-Warda, at the request of Mokhtars brother-in-law, who was no other than Abdallah the son of Omar, the governor consented to set him at liberty, on his searing to make no further attempts against him. As Solaiman had fallen on the field of battle at Ain al-Warda, all the Shiites now acknowledged Mokhtar as their chief. He, however, considering himself bund by his oath, remained inactive until the governor who had imposed it was replaced by Abdallah b. Moti. The new Zobairite governor, suspecting with reason that Mokhtar was about to recommence his intrigues, thought it advisable to invite him to his house, with the intention of having him arrested. Mokhtar called his partisans together, and plotted with them to take Ibn Moti by surprise. As, however, Sad, one of the Shiite chiefs, asked for a delay of a week, for the purpose of collecting troops, Mokhtar was obliged to feign illness in order to evade the governors invitation, and took care to surround himself with a numerous body of guards. Meanwhile Sad, who had only demanded this delay in order to ascertain the real wishes of Mohammed b. Hanafiya, sent off four confidential messengers to Medina, to ask Mohammed whether he had really confided the care of his interest to Mokhtar. Mohammed contented himself with replying vaguely that it was the bounden duty of every good Moslem to take part with the family of the Prophet. These words were interpreted in favor of Mokhtar, and thenceforward all the Shiites followed him blindly as their chief. Mokhtar fixed the middle of the month Rabi I., A.H. 66, for the commencement of hostilities. During the night of the 13th to the 14th, the conspirators intended to gain possession of the city by a coup de main; but the governor was on his guard, and Mokhtar and his Shiites took the course of leaving Cufa. They numbered sixteen thousand resolute men. All the armies which Abdallah b. Moti sent against them were successively beaten, and Mpkhtar soon re-entered Cufa in triumph, compelling the Zobairite governor to flee to Basra. Once master of Cufa, Mokhtar though himself already in possession of the empire. He sent emissaries to Medina, to Mosul, to Madain, and even into Azerbaijan, with orders to induce the people to take the oath of allegiance to him. He then sent his generals, Yazid b. Anas and Zofar, against the Omayyad army, which had entered Mesopotamia after the battle of Ain al-Warda, and these prevented the advance of the Syrians into Irak. Another of Mokhtars generals, Ibrahim b. Malik, inflicted a serious defeat on the Syrians near Mosul, and Obaid Allah b. Ziyad, who commander them, fell in the battle. Ibrahim was rewarded by Mokhtar with the government of Mosul Mokhtar himself next took the title of "lieutenant of the Mahdi" and inserted in the Khotba, on Fridays preaching, a prayer on behalf of Mohammed b. Hanaffiya; which was equivalent to declaring him Caliph. After this, urged on by his adherents, he caused all those who had taken part in the massacre of Hosain, the grandson of the Prophet, like Omar b. Sad and Shimr, to be sought out and put to death.
While these events were occurring, the Caliph at Damascus, Abd al-Melik, sent an army observation to the frontiers of Arabia. Mokhtar, having been informed of this feigned an intention to help Ibn Zobair, and dispatched a body of three thousand men from Cufa, under the command of a certain Sharahil. His real object was to concentrate forces at Medina, with a view to attacking Ibn Zobair. But the latter penetrated his design, and two thousand Meccans marched by his orders to meet Sharahil, who was defeated.
In the same year (A.H. 66) Mohammed b. Hanafiya had gone to Mecca to perform the ceremonies of the pilgrimage. Ibn Zobair took advantage of this to seize his person, and confined him in a small house adjoining the wall of Zamzam, within the precincts of the Kaba. Mohammed succeeded in conveying intelligence of his detention to Mokhtar; and he, delighted to find his aid implored by the very man whose follower he called himself, swore to effect his rescue . He dispatched a thousand chosen horsemen, who managed to conceal their march so well, that they were under the walls of Mecca before the son of Zobair had been able to make the slightest preparations for defence. They made their way into the Holy City; but, being unwilling to draw the sword on that sacred ground, they armed themselves with sticks, broke in the doors of the house in which Mohammed b. Hanafiya was imprisoned, rescued him, and escorted him out of the city. A son of Mohammed, called Ali, who had also been thrown into prison, likewise succeeded in escaping, and rejoined his father at some distance from Mecca.
In the following year, Ibn Zobair, who was determined to get rid, at all costs, of so dangerous an adversary as Mokhtar, ordered his brother Mosab to effect a junction with Mohallab, the conqueror of the Kharijites, and to march against Cufa. Mosab and Mohallab invested that city, and Mokhtar, making a sortie against them, was beaten, taken prisoner, and beheaded. Irak thus, the second time, fell under the rule of Ibn Zobair. Ibrahim b. Malik, who held Mosul in the name of Mokhtar, submitted to the conquerors, on condition of retaining his government; but Mosab deprived him of his office, and put Mohallab in his place. He himself was appointed governor of Irak by his brother, and, having installed himself at Bsra, placed Cufa under the ordes of his lieutenant Harith. The year after, the Kharijites of Susiana raised a fresh insurrection, and invaded Irak. Mohallab had to be recalled from Mosul, and during his absence it was Ibrahim b. Malik whom Mosab chose to supply his place. the period of the pilgrimage caused a momentary truce to all these struggles, and in that year was seen the curious spectacle of four different standards planted near Mecca, belonging respectively to four partly chiefs, each of whom was a pretender to the empire: the standard of Abdallah b. Zobair, Caliph of Mecca; that of the Caliph of Damascus, Abd al-Melik; that of the son of Ali, Mohammed b. Hamafiya; and that of the Kharijites, who were at that time under the command of Najda b. Amir. Such, however, was the respect inspired by the holy places, that no disorders resulted from the presence of so many inveterate rivals.
The Omayyad Caliph, whose troops had been beaten in Mesopotamia, and who had been hitherto content to watch the frontiers of Arabia, was again prevented from pushing on military operations more actively by the breaking out of troubles in Syria. At the beginning of A.H. 69 (A.D. 688-689), Abd al-Melik having left Damascus at the head of a numerous army, with the purpose of marching against Irak, the Omayyad Amr b. Said, whom he had appointed governor of Damascus, took advantage of his absence to lay claim to the supreme power, and to himself proclaimed Caliph by his partisans. Abd al-Melik was obliged to retrace his steps, and to say siege to his own capital. The garrison of Damascus took fright, and deserted their posts; so that Amr b. Said, abandoned by his followers, was compelled to surrender at discretion. abd al-Melik at first meant to spare him, but he afterwards changed his mind, and struck off his head with his own hand. Scarcely had he suppressed thi revolt, when the Emperor of Constantinople, Justinia II., in violation of the thirty years truce formerly concluded between MoawiyaI. And Constantine IV., sent a Greek army to invade Syria. Abd al-Melik was obliged to buy peace for the time, for he required all his forces to dispute the empire with the son of Zobair. He consented, it is asserted, to pay the Greeks an indemnity of one thousand pieces of gold weekly. He then gave his attention to the renewal of the projected expedition against Irak. Mosab the Zobairite had rendered himself odious to the inhabitants of Basra and Cufa by his exactions, and a party favorable to Abd al-Melik was already forming in those cities. The Omayyad Calpih marched forth at the head of an army composed of Syrians and Egyptians, and encamped three parasangs from the plain of Dair al-Jathalik, not far from the site of Baghdad, where Mosab had established his army. Before joining battle, Abd al-Melik had written secretly to all the chiefs of Mosabs army, making them the most seductive promises if they would agree to desert the cause of Mosab. This step was crowned with success, and on the eve of the battle, which took place on the 13th Jomadi II., A.H. 71 (23d November 690), several of these generals passed into the camp of Abd al-Melik with arms and baggage. Mosab nevertheless attacked his enemy but during the battle he found himself deserted by his troops, and, not choosing to survive his defeat, he caused himself to be slain. This victory opened the gates of Cufa to Abd al-Melik, and all irak received him with acclamations. He remained forty days at Cufa, and then, having given the government to his brother Bishr, while Khalid b. Abdllah received that of Basra, he returned in triumph to Damascus. Soon after, the Ommayad arms having sustained a check from the Kharijites in Farsistan, the Caliph gave Khalid orders to march against those sectaries with the support of Mohallab, who was their terror, and of the governor of Rey. Khalid succeeded completely in this expedition, and drove the Kharijites out of Ahwaz, Farsistan, and Kirman. On his side, the Omayyad Caliph stirred up a revolt in Khorasan, a province which still remained faithful to the Zobairite cause. Its governor was treacherously assassinated by his lieutenant Bokair, who received, as the price of this service, the governorship of the province.
Only Arabia now remained to Ibn Zobair. In A.H. 72 Abd al-Melik made preparations for depriving him of it. According he raised an army; but when his generals found that another siege of Mecca was in contemplation, not one of them was willing to accept such a mission. An obscure officer, Hajjaj b. Yusuf, boldly offered to lead the expedition. Abd al-Melik had little confidence in him, and therefore at first placed only two or three thousand horsemen under his command. Hajjaj set out, traversed the Hijaz without resistance, and pitched his camp at Taif, not far from Mecca. Ibn Zobair tried to dislodge him; but in the frequent encounters between his troops and those of Hajjaj, the latter always had the advantage. Abd al-Melik then decided on sending him a reinforcement of five thousand men, on receiving which Hajjaj invested Mecca. The blockade lasted several months, during which the city was a prey to all the horrors of siege and famine. Hajjaj had set up balistas on the neighboring heights, and poured a hail of stones on the city and the Kaba. Famine at length triumphed over the last adherents of the son of Zobair. Ten thousand fighting men, and even several of the sons of the pretender, left the city and surrendered. Mecca being thus left without defenders, hajjaj took possession of it and invested the Kaba. Then the son of Zobair, seeing hat ruin was inevitable, went to hismother Asma, who had reached the age of a hundred, and asked her counsel. She answered that he must die sword in hand; and when, in embracing him for the last time, she felt the cuirass which he wore, she exclaimed that such a precaution was unworthy of a man resolved to perish. Abdallah took off his cuirass, and taking refuge in the Kaba, passed the night there in prayer. At day break of the 14th of Jomadi I. in the year 73 (1st October 692), the Omayyad troops made their way into the mosque. Abdallah attacked them furiously, notwithstanding his advanced age, but at last fell, overwhelmed by numbers. His head was cut off, carried to Hajjaj, and sent by the victorious general to Damascus.
With Ibn Zobair perished the influence which the early companions of Mohammed had hither exercised over Islam. Medina and Mecca, though they continued to be the Holy Cities, had no longer the political importance which had enabled them to maintain a struggle with Damascus. Temporal interests, represented by Damascus, will henceforth have precedence over those of religion; policy will outweight fanaticism; and the center of Islam, now permanently removed beyond the limits of Arabia, will be more easily affected by foreign influences, and assimilate more readily their civilizing elements. Damascus, Cufa and Basra will attract the flower of all the Moslem provinces; and thus that great intellectual, literary, and scientific movement which is top reach its apogee under the Abbasid Caliphs at Baghdad, will become daily more marked.
By the death of the son of Zobair, Abd al-Melik remained sole Caliph for Mohammed b. Hanafiya reckoned for nothing since the death of Mokhtar, whose creature he had been. The only remaining danger was from the Kharijites, who, though incessantly repulsed, as incessantly returned to the charge. Hajjaj had remained after his victory at Mecca, where he was occupied in rebuilding the Kaba, ruined for the second time by his engines of war. In the year 75, Abd al-Melik, alarmed at the news which reached him from Persia and Irak, named Hajjaj governor of that province, and gave him the most extensive powers for the re-establishment of order. The troops of Irak, who accompanied Mohallab in an expedition against the Kharijites, had abandoned their general and dispersed to their homes, and nothing could induce them to return to their duty. Hajjaj, arriving unexpectedly at Cufa, ascended the pulpit at the moment when the people were assembled for morning prayers, and delivered an energetic address to them, which depicts his character so well, that some passages from it may be cited:-
"Men of Cufa, I see before me heads ripe for the harvest, and the reaper-I am he! I seem to myself already to see blood between turbans and shoulders. I am not one of those who can be frightened by an inflated bag of skin, nor need any one think to squeeze me like dried figs. I have been chosen on good grounds; and it is because I have been seen at work that I have been picked out from among others. The Prince of the Believers has spread before him the arrows of his quiver, and has tried every one of them by biting its wood. It is my wood that he has found the hardest and the bitterest, and I am the arrow which he shoots against you."
Thereupon Hajjaj ordered that every man capable of baring arms should immediately join Mohallab in Susiana, and swore that all who made any delay should have their heads struck off. This threat produced its effect, and Hajjaj proceeded to Basra, where his presence was followed by the same result. Mohallab, reinforced by the army of Irak, at last succeeded, after a struggle of eighteen months, in subjugating the Kharijites, and was able, at the beginning of A.H 78, to return to Hajjaj at Basra. The latter loaded him with honors and made him govenor of Khorasan, whence he directed several expeditions against Transoxiana.
While Mohallab was fightin against the Kharijites in Persia, Hajjaj himself had had to struggle against rebellion. Three Kharijites, Salih, Shabib, and Motarrif, had succeeded in creating a party in Mesopotamia and Irak. The second had even pushed his audacity so far as to march upon Cufa, and for a moment had occupied that city. Hajjaj overcame the rebels; and through his vigilance, Katari b. al-Fojaa, another Kharijites, chief after being pursued as far as Tabaristan, on the Caspian Sea, was taken and killed by two Omayyad generals.
When he gave the government of Khorasan to Mohallab, Hajjaj had committed that of Sijistan to Obaid Allah b. Abi Bakra. At the beginning of A.H. 79, Obaid Allahs troops were beaten by the king of Kabul. Hajjaj thought it advisable to remove Obaid Allah and to replace him by the captain of his guards, Abd al-Rahman b. al-Ash-ath. This was a badchoice, for Ibn al-Ashath had often given proofs of an insubordinate temper, and Hajjaj soon had occasion to repent of it. In fact, soon after his arrival in Sijistan, Abd al-Rahman, whose army was composed of contingents from Cufa and Basram always ready for revolt, conceived the design of an insurrection against the authority of Hajjaj. Popular movements often go beyond the object first proposed; and not only did the troops welcome joyfully the idea of marching against the hated governor of Irak, but they even proclaimed the dethronement of Abd al-Melik, and saluted Ibn al-Ash-ath as Caliph. The new pretender entered Farsistan and Ahwaz, and it was in this last province, near Shuster, that Hajjaj came up with him, after receiving from Syria the reinforcements which he had demanded in all haste from the Caliph. Hajjaj was beaten and obliged to retreat. Ibn al-Ashath pursued him as far as Basra, which opened its gates to him; but fortune soon changed, and he was again driven out by his adversary. Ibn al-Ash-ath the turned his arms against Cufa, and with aid from within obtained possession of it; thus cutting the communications of Hajjaj with Syria. The latter, thus compelled to leave Basra, took the field, and pitched his camp at Dair al-Jamajim, two days journey from Basra. Ibn al-Ash-ath marched against him at the head of his army. The condition of Irak caused the greatest uneasiness at Damascus, and Abd al-Melik hoped to stifle the revolt by proposing to the insurgents the dismissal of Hajjaj from his post. The insurgents rejected this offer, and hostilities recommended. At the end of three, months in Jomadi II., A.H. 83 ( July 702), a decisive action took place. Victory declared for Hajjaj. Ibn al-Ash-ath fled to Basra, where he managed to collect fresh troops; but, having been again beaten, he took refuge in Susiana, from which he was driven bya son of Hajjaj. The rebel then retired into Sijistan, and afterwards sought an asylum with the king of Kabul. As soon as his partisans had rejoined him, he penetrated into Khorasan, in order to raise an insurrection there. The governor of this province was at that time Yazid, son of the celebrated Mohallab, who had died in the year 82. Yazid marched against Ibn al-Ash-ath, and cut his army to pieces. From that time the pretender disappeared; and it is though that, having again taken refuge with the king of Kabul, he was betrayed by him and put to death. It was during this long struggle that, in the year 83, Hajjaj laid the foundations of the city of Wasit (the Intermediate); so called because it is situated midway between Cufa and Basra. Some time after the suppression of this revolt, in the year 84, Hajjaj deprived Yazid b. Mohallab of the government of Khorasan, accusing him of partiality towards the rebels, and appointed in his stead first his brother Mofaddal b. Mohallab, and nine months after Kotaiba b. Moslim, who was destined at a later period to extend the sway of the Moslem in the east as far as China.
While these events were taking place Abd al-Melik was engaged in the west in a struggle against the Greeks. We have seen that in the year 69 the Caliph, compelled as he then was to direct all his efforts towards Irak and Arabia, had concluded a disgraceful peace with Justinian II. It was not till A.H. 73 (A.D. 692-693) that he resumed hostilities in Armenia, Asia Minor, and Africa. The operations in Asia Minor and in Amenia were entrusted to Mohammed b. Merwan, brother of the Caliph, and to Othman b. Walid. They beat the Greeks at first; but, in consequence of subsequent reverses, the Moslems were compelled to accept peace, which was broken anew by the Greeks about the year 75 or 76, the Caliph in one of his letters to Justinian II. having used expressions which displeased the Christian monarch. In retaliation, Justinian threatened to havbe legends offensive to Islam struck on his coins. As, up to that time, the Moslems had no special coinage of their own, and principally used Byzantine and Persina money, thismenace led Abd al-Melik to institute a ourely Arabic coinage. It was a Jew of Taima, named Somair, who commenced its fabrication. Justinian II. refused to receive these coins in payment of the tribute, and declared the treaty at an end. The incensed Moslem fought valiantly, and suchceeded in extending their frontiers to Marash, on the side of Asia Minor, and to Amid, on the side of Armenia. From this time forth the Moslems madeyearly expeditions against the Greeks; but they were only razzias, for which the Greeks often avenged themselves by incursions into the territory of Islam.
In Africa we have seen that Okba b. Nafi had been slain by the Berbers, who had taken Kairawan. In the year 73 Abd al-Melik sent Hassan b. Noman into Africa, at the head of a numerous army. He retook Kairawan, swept the coast as far as Carthage, expelling the Greek garrisons from all the fortified places, and then, turning his arms against Bebers, beat them so completely that they submitted for a long time to the tribute and the conscription. But when Hassan left Africa, the Greeks under the successor of Justinian, retook the coast0line. Hassan prepared to return to Africa, but he previously demanded from the governor of Egypt, Abd alAziz, the recall of a freedman, whom he had appointedgoivernor of a part of the province of Africa. Abd al-Aziz refused, and Hassan went to Damascus to complain to the Caliph. Soon after his arrival at the capital he died, and the governor of Egypt placed Musa b. Nosair at the head of the expedition. This general the seaboard as far as Carthage, reconquered the seaboard as far as Carthage, and drove the Greeks permanently from it. The daring Musa continued his triumphant march, and took possession of the whole of the coast to Tlemcen. One of his lieutenants, in the year 82, carried a reconnaissance by sea as far as Sicily. The Moslem fleet having been destroyed by a storm, Musa equipped another, and entrusted its command to his brother Abdallah, who returned to Sicily and affected razzia there. Merwan, the father of Abd al-Melit, had designated as successor to the latter his other son, Abd al-Aziz, governor of Egypt. Abd al-Aziz having died in the year 84, Abd al-Melik chose as heirs of the empire, first his son Walid, and after him his second son Solaiman. He himself survived Abd al-Aziz only two years, and died 14th Shawwal 86 (8th October 705), at the age of about sixty. His reign was one of the most unquiet in the animals of Islam, but also one of the most glorious. Abd al-Melik not only brought triumph to the cause of the Omayyads, but extended and strengthened the Moslem power externally. Amid so many grave anxieties he yet found time for his pleasures. He was passionately fond of poetry, and his court was crowded with poets, whom he loaded with favors, even if they were Christians, like Akhtal. In his reign flourished also the two celebrated rivals of Akhtal, Jarir and Farazdak.
6. Immediately on his accession Walid confirmed Hajjaj in the government of Irak, and appointed as governor of Medina his cousin Omar b. Abd al-Aziz, who was received there with joy, his piety and gentle character being well known. Under his government important works were undertaken at Medina and Mecca by order of Walid, who, having no rivals to struggle against, was able to give his attention to pacific occupations. The mosque of Medina was enlarged, wells were sunk, the streets widened, and hospitals established. At Mecca many improvements were introduced. The reputation of Omar attracted to the two Holy Cities a great number of the inhabitants of Irak, who were groaning under the iron hand of Hajjaj. The latter, who was not a man to let his prey escape from his grasp, was so urgent with Walid that he obtained the dismissal of Omar b. Abd al-Aziz in the year 93, and the appointment of Othman b. Hayyan at Medina, and of Khalid b. Abdallah at Mecca. These two prefects compelled the refuges at Mecca and Medina to return to Irak, where many of them were cruelly treated and even put to death by Hajjaj. It was probably his cruelty which drove so many men of Irak to enlist in the armies of the East and the South; and this may in some degree account for the unheard of successes of Kotaiba b. Moslim in Transoxiana, and Mohammed b. Kasim in India. They may also be explained by the ambition of Hajjaj, who, it is said, cherished the project of creating a vast empire for himself to the east and south of the Moslem realm, and had secretly promised the government of China to the first of his generals who should reach that country. Be this as it may, in the course of a very few years Kotaiba conquered the whole of Bokharia, Kharizm, and Transoxiana or Ma wara-annahr, as far as the frontiers of China. Meanwhile Mohammed b. Kasim invaded Mokran, Sind, and Multan, carried off an immense booty, and reduced the women and children to lavery. In Armenia and Asia Minor, Maslama, brother of the Caliph Walid, and his lieutenants, also obtained numerous successes against the Greeks. In Armenia, Maslama even advanced as far as the Caucasus.
The most important achievement, however, of Walids reign was the conquest of Spain. The narrative of this conquest belongs specially to the history of Spain; and we shall therefore only touch briefly on it here. We have seen that, even in the Caliphate of Abd al-Melik, Musa b. Nosair had penetrated as far as Tlemcen in Africa. Under Walid, Musa, who had been appointed governor of Africa, entered Morocco, occupied Fez and Tangier, and then returned to Kairawan, having made his lieutenant Tarik governor of Tangier and of all the West of Africa. The town of Ceuta still held out under its governor Julian, who held it in the name of Witiza, King of Spain. Witiza having been dethroned by Roderic, Julian thought he might find the Arabs useful allies in the struggle which he proposed to carry on against the usurper, and entered into negotiations with Tarik. The latter, foreseeing the possibility of conquering for the advantage of the Arabs a country which had been represented to him as a paradise, requested instructions from Musa, who referred the matter to the Caliph. Walid gave Musa carte blanche, and Tarik hastened to make alliance with Julian. He first, however, sent four ships, with five hundred men under the command of Tarif, to reconnoiter the country. This expedition was successful, and Tarik, now certain of meeting no serious opposition to his landing, passed into Spain himself, at the head of twelve thousand men, in the year 92 (A.D. 710-711), and landed at the spot which thence received the name of Jabal Tarik, or "Mountain of Tarik," a name which was afterwards corrupted by the Westerns into Gibraltar. At the news of this invasion, Roderic led a numerous army against the Arabs, but was completely routed near Cadiz, and perished in the conflict. Musa jealous of the success of his lieutenant, hastened to Spain with eighteen thousand men, and his first step on arriving was to send Tarik orders to suspend his march. But Tarik, far from obeying, divided his little army into three corps, and obtained possession successively of Ecija, Malaga, Elvira, Cordova, and Toledo. Musa, hopeless of arresting the victorious march of Tarik, determined to play the part of a conqueror himself, and took Seville, Carmona, and Merida. On rejoining Tarik at Toledo, the first step he took was to throw him into prison. The Caliph, however, gave orders that he should be set a liberty and restored to his command. The two conquerors then shared the country between them, and, in less than three years, all Spain was subdued, to the very foot of the Pyrenees. Meanwhile Walid, fearing to see Musa declare his indendence, recalled him to Damascus. He obeyed after appointing his son Abd al-Aziz governor of Spain, and assigning Seville as his residence. Musa left Spain in the mouth of Safar A.H. 95 (October-November 713), in company with Tarik, bringing an immense booty to Damascus, and leading in his train a great number of prisoners. His journey from Ceuta to Damascus was one long triumph. He reached Egypt in the month of Rabi I. in the following year (Nov. Dec. 714), and then moved on by short marches towards Damascus, where he did not arrive till two months and a half later, at the very moment when Walid had just breathed his last, and his brother Solaiman had been saluted as Caliph. The renowed Hajjaj had preceded his sovereign, and had expired five days before the end of Ramadan, A.H. 95. Musa did not receive the reward due to his distinguished services. Accused of peculation by the new Caliph, he was beaten with rods, and condemned to a fine of 100,000 pieces of gold; and all his goods were confiscated. Solaiman did not stop here: he caused AbdAziz, the son of Musa, to be put to death in Spain, and carried his cruelty so far as to show his severed head to Musa, asking him whether he recognized. He replied that it was the head of a man a thousand times superior to him who had ordered his death. Muda died soon after. As for Tarik, there is no further mention of him after the beginning of the reign of Solaiman, and we must therefore suppose that he retired into private life.
7. Solaiman had nearly missed the throne. Walid, in the very year of his death, wished to have his son Abd al-iAziz b. Walid chosen as his successor, and had offered Solaiman a great sum of money to induce him to surrender his rights to the Caliphate; but Solaiman obstinately refused to do so. Walid went still further, and sent letters to the governors of all the provinces, calling on them to make the people take the oath of allegiance to his son. None except Hajjaj and Kotaiba b. Moslim consented thus to set at nought the order of succession established by Abd al-Melik; and Solaiman succeeded without difficulty at the death of his brother. We can easily conceive the hatred felt by Solaiman for Hajjaj, and for all that belonged to him, far or near. Hajjaj himself escaped by death; but Solaiman poured out his wrath on his family, and strove to undo all that he had done. First of all, Mohammed b. Kasim, the conqueror of India, who was cousin to Hajja, was dismissed from his post and outlawed. Hajjaj had deprived Yazid b. Mohallab of the government of Khorasan; Solaiman conferred on him that of Irak. Kotaiba b. Molsim, on learning the accession of Solaiman, knew that his own ruin was certain, and therefore anticipated the Caliph by a revolt. But Solaiman induced Kotaibas troops to desert by authorizing them to return to their homes; and when the illustrious general sought to carry his army with him, a conspiracy was formed against him which ended in his murder. Yazid, b. Mohallab, who preferred Khorasan to Irak, obtained permission to exchange. Immediately on his return to Khorasan he set on foot a series of new expeditions against Jorjan and Tbaristan. But the inhabitants of Khorasan, which he governed oppressively, made complaints against him to the Caliph, accusing him of practisin extortions in order to obtain such a sum of money as would enable him to rebel against his sovereign . from that day Solaiman determined to get rid of Yazid. As, however, he was then dreaming of the conquest of Constantinople, he thought it prudent to dissemble his dissatisfaction for some time.
The Byzantine empire was disturbed by internal troubles during the years A.D. 715-717. Solaiman resolved to take advantage of these in order to rid himself for ever of the hereditary enemy of Islam, and prepared a formidable expedition. A fleet of eighteen hundred vessels, equipped at Alexandria, sailed to the coasts of Asia Minor, took on board the Moslem army, commanded by Maslama, and transported it to Europe. This army appeared under the walls of Constantinople, 15th August 717, five months after Leo III., the Isaurian, had ascended the throne. Once more the Greek fie prevailed against the Moslems. Their fleet was destroyed by this terrible engine of war; the army could obtain no fresh supply of provisions, and suffered all the horrors of famine. Meanwhile the Caliph, who desire to be present in person at the taking of Constantinople, had set out to join the army. He fell ill at Dabik, not far from Aleppo, and died there on the 22d of September in the same year, after havinmg nominated as his own successor his cousin, Omar b. Abd al-Aziz, and as successor to the latter, Yazid b. Abd al-Melik, his own brother. In vain did the new Caliph dispatch from Egypt a fleet of four hundred ships to carry arms and provisions to the army before Constantinople; this fleet also was destroyed by the Greeks, and the Moslem army was decimated by famine, and soon by the plague as well. A hundred thousand men perished miserably under the walls of Constantinople, and Maslama brought back to Asia Minor a mere handful of soldiers, and that with great difficulty.
8. Omar b. Abd al-Aziz, incensed at this disaster, took his revenge on the Christian of his own states by excluding them from all public employments, in spite of the great services they rendered there, and by loading them with imposts to such an extent that one public functionary wrote thus to the Caliph: "If things continue to go on in Egypt as at present, all the Christians will become Moslems to escape taxation, and the State will lose its revenue." To this the pious Omar replied: "I should look on the conversion of all the Christians as a great piece of good-fortune; for God sent his prophet to act me part of an apostle, and not of a tax-gathered. By his religious intolerance, by the simplicity of his life, and by his vigor in observing the precepts of his religion and enforcing their observance, Omar has acquired in Moslem history the reputation of a saint. But the sanctity of a prince does not ensure the greatness of a State; and the reign of Omar, as we shall see, was injurious rather than advantageous to Islam. He alienated the provincial governors by his severity; and the family of Abbas took advantage of the general discontent to stir up the people secretly, and thus to prepare the way for the fall of the dynasty.
It will be remembered that Solaiman died before carryingout his purpose of deposing Yazid b. Mohallab, the governor of Khorasan. Omar II. took it on himself to fulfill this design. He summoned Yazid to his presence, and on his arrival at Damascus, threw him into prison, and demanded the restitution of the money which he believed him to have misappropriated. As Yazid alleged that he could render no account of it, the Caliph banished him to Dahlak, a small island in the Red Sea, but soon brought him back, and placed him in close confinement. It was not till A.H. 101, when Omar II. was dying that Yazid succeeded in escaping and took refuge in Irak. Mokhallad, the son of Yazid, whom his father, on quitting Khorasan, had left there as his lieutenant, was also summoned to Damascus, and the Calip at first appointed Jarrah b. Abdallah governor of that province, but soon after, on receiving complaints against him, replaced him by Abd al-Rahman al-Koshairi, whom he desired to use every effort for the conversion of the unbelievers, rather than to think of extending the Moslem power by force of arms. With so pacific a disposition, it is easy to understand that the Caliph did not signalize his reign by any conquest; except a revolt of the Kharijites in Irak, which was suppressed by Maslama. His caliphate was not distinguished by any warlike event. Its most noticeable occurrence, as we have said above, was the commencement of the Abbasid movement.
The Abbasid family derived its name fromAbbas, who was Mohammeds uncle on the fathers side, and who during the Prophets life, had enjoyed universal consideration among the Moslems. It was he who, at the death of the Prophet, had the charge of washing the corpse. The first Caliphs, Abubekr, Omar, "Othman, and Ali showed the utmost deference to Abbas; and his eldest son Abdallah had been united in the closest friendship with Hosain, the unfortunate son of Ali. After the assassination of Ali, and the slaughter of Hosain, Abdallah had retired to Mecca, and there brought up his numerous family in hatred of the Omayyads. It was from his youngest son Ali, born A.H.40, that the Abbasid dynasty sprung. Under the Caliph Abd al-Melik, this Ali was living at Damascus; but, on his marrying Labbaba, the divorced wife for Ali. Walid, the son and successor of Abd alMelik, inherited his fathers prejudices, subjected Ali to evbery kind of insult, and drove him from his court. Walids successor, Solaiman, gave him leave to return to Damascus, but Ali instead of availing himself of this permission, preferred to retire to Homaima, a town situated in the south of Syria, on the confines of Arabia. It was in this retirement that his son Mohammed conceived the design of supplanting the Omayyad dynasty. We have said that the first Abbasids were closely united with the family of Ali. Mohammed b. Ali, the Abbasid, saw clearly that it was only among the followers of Ali that he was likely to be able to form a party. To attain this object, he formed the plan of making it believed that a descendant of the Prophets son-in-law had transmitted to him his rights to the Caliphate. It will be remembered that Mohammed b. Hanafiya had come forward as a pretender to the throne at the troublous period when Ibn Zobair and Abd al-Melik were disputing the Caliphate. According to the story of the Abbasids, Abu Hashim Abdallah, the son of Ibn Hanafiya, had gone to Homaima, to the house of Mohammed b. Ali, and had made on his deathed a legal transfer of his rights to Mohammed, by appointing him his heir. Whatever may be the truth respecting this transfer, Mohammed the Abbasid spread abroad the report of it, and chose especially for its propagation the provinces in which the family of Ali had the greatest number of adherents, Irak and Khorasan. Emissariessent by him into these two provinces, under the caliphate of Omar II., began to stir up the people in secret against the reinging house. Omar was probably acquainted with these intrigues, but he had not time to repress them, for he died on the 20th or 25th of Rajab, A.H. 101 (5th or 10th February 720), after a reign of about two years and a half.
9. Yazid, the son of Abd al-Melik, ascended the throne without resistance. His first care was to pursue Yazid b. Mohallab, who had escaped from his prison and taken refuge in Irak. Besides reasons of state, Yazid II. had personal reasons for ill-will to Yazid b. Mohallab. One of the wives of the new Caliph, the same who gave birth to that son of Yazid II. who afterwards reigned under the name of Walid II., was niece to the celebrated Hajjaj, who as it will be remembered, had hated and persecuted Yazid b. Mohallab. Aware of the alliance of the new Caliph with the family of Hajjaj, the son of Mohallab had made every effort to escape as soon as he was informed of the illness of Omar II.; for he well knew that Yazid Ii would spare neither him nor his family. In fact, the Caliph sent express orders to the prefect of Irak to arrest all the brothers and other members of the family of Mohallab who were to be found at Basra; and this order was immediately carried out. But Yazid b. Mohallab had many partisansin Irak. He collected a small army, and fought with such valour that in a short time he succeeded in making himself master of Basra, where he had himself proclaimed Caliph. The public treasury fell into his hands, and he employed it in paying his troops and in raising fresh ones, whom he sent on expeditions into Khuzistan or Ahwaz, Farsistan, Mokran, and Sind. As this revolt threatened to spread far and wide, Yazid II. was obliged to have recourse for it suppression to the celebrated Maslama. Early in A.H. 102, this illustrious general took the filed, and completely defeated Ibn Mohallab near Basra. Yazid fell in the battle, and his slain by the lieutenant of Maslama.
This revolt suppressed, Yazid II. was able to give his thoughts to the extension of the empire, an object which had been so much neglected by his predecessor. Several expeditions were directed against Farghana in Transoxiana, against the Khazars in Armenia, and against the Greeks in Asia Minor, but without any very decided results. In Africa, serious troubles had been caused by the appointment as governor of a certain Yazid b. Abi Moslim, who had been secretary to Hajjaj, and who followed the example of his masters implacable harshness. The Berbers rose in insurrection, slaughtered the unfortunate governor, and chose in his place Mohammed b. Aus. The Caliph at first ratified this choice, but soon after dismissed Mohammed from his post, and replaced him by Bishr b. Safwan, who sent out an expedition against Sicily.
In Europe, the Arabs obtained at first some degree of success. Under the orders of Samah, then governor of Spain, they crossed the Pyrenees, and took possession of Narbonne; but having been beaten at Toulouse, they had to retrace their steps. It was the celebrated Abderame (Abd al-Rahman) who effected their retreat.
Yazid II. died three years later of a lingering illness, caused, it is said, by his grief for the death of a favorite slave-girl. At his accession, Yazid had designated as his successors, in the first place his son Hisham, and in the second his son Walid. Hisham ascended the throne without opposition.
10. Hisham was a pious prince and an enemy of luxury; as rigid in his religion as Omar II. To this severity may in part be attributed the disturbances which broke out in the provinces during his reign. The governors were accustomed to remain loyal to the Caliphs only when the latter did not exact from them too rigorous an account. Hisham was, besides, very avaricious, a fault highly calculated to make him odious to those about him. Lastly, he favored the Yemenites, and this alienated from himn the powerful party of the Kaisites. All these circumstances emboldened the Abbasids to carry on actively their propaganda in Irak and Khorasan, and it succeeded beyond their hopes. The Kaisite tribes, offended at seeing the Caliph bestow the best posts on Yemenites, were ready to espouse with enthusiasm the cause of any one whose aim was the overthrow of the Omayyads. Rebellion had been smouldering in the provinces for thirteen years; it broke out at last at Cufa and in the whole of Irak, under chiefs called Moghira and Bahlud; and when these insurgents had been chastised, others sprung up in their place, Amr al-Yashkori, AlAnazi, and Al-Sakhtayani. The prefect of Irak, Khalid, b. Abadallah, was accused of favoring this revolt, was degraded, and replaced by Yusuf b. Omar, who threw him into prison, where he remained for eighteen months. This measure increased the discontent of the people of Irak, and a member of the family of Ali, Zaid b. Ali collected round him a small body of partisans, and had himself proclaimed Claiph, A.H. 122 (A.D. 739-740). Unfortunately for Zaid, he had to do with the same Cufans whose fickleness had already been fatal to his family. In the moment of danger he was deserted by his troops, slain in an unequal conflict, and his head sent to Damascus. In Khorasan also there were very serious disturbances. In the year 106 (A.D. 724- 725) there had already been a revolt at Balkh, excited by the emissaries of the Abbasids. The following years brought with them fresh troubles, which led to the dismissal of the governor of Lhorasan, Asad, the brother of Khalid b. Abdallah, who had been prefect of Irak. Under the successors of Asad, who were successively, Ashras b. Abdallah, Jonaid b. Abd al-Rahman, and Asim b. Abdallah, seditions broke out in Transoxiana, which were repressed with great difficulty; and it was not until year 120 that. By the appointment of the brave and prudent Nasr b. Sayyar as governor of Khorasan, peace was for a time restored to that region. The Abbasid emissaries, nevertheless, secretly continued their propaganda.
In India, several provinces which had been converted to Islam under the Caliphate of Omar II. declared themselves independent; and this led to the founding of several strong cities for the purpose of controlling those provinces. It was thus that the cities of Mahfuza and Mansura had their origin.
In the north and north-west of the empire there were no internal disorders, but the Moslems had much to do to maintain themselves there against the Alans, the Turkomans, and the Khazars. The illustrious Maslama lost his life in battle, and Merwan b. Mohammed, afterwards Caliph, took his place as prefect of Armenia and Azerbaijan. He succeeded in imposing peace on the petty princes of the Eastern Caucasus, and in consolidating the Arab power in that quarter. The war against the Byzantines lasted during the whole of Hishams reign. In Asia Minor, the Moslems reoccupied Caesarea, and laid siege to Nicaea. Arab writers even declare that Constantine, after wards Emperor of Constaninople, was made prisoner in the year 114 (A.D. 732-733), but the Byzantine authorities make no mention of this fact. On the other hand, they notice an important defeat of the Moslem arms in A.D. 739. This defeat, which is acknowledged by the Arab writers, cost the life of their general, Abdallah, surnamed al-Battal- "the hero" whose prowess still lives in the memory of the people of Asia Minor.
In Africa, several successive prefects were fully occupied in repressing the constant insurrections of the Berbers. In Spain, the attention of the Moslems was principally turned to avenging their defeats beyond the Pyreness. As early as the second year of the reign of Hisham, Anbasa, governor of Spain, crossed the Pyreness, and pushed on military operations vigoriously. Carcassonne and Nimes were taken. The death of Anbasa, in A.H. 107 (A.D. 725-726), put a stop to hostilities; but they recommended still vigorously six years later. Abd al-Rahman (Abderame), the same who, under Yazid II., had led back to Spain the remnants of the Moslem army, crossed the mountains anew, and penetrated into Gascony by the passage of Roncevaux. The Moslems beat the Duke Eudes, gained possession of Bordeaus, and overran the whole of Southern Gaul as far as the Loire. But in A.H. 114 (A.D. 732) Charles Martel, whose aid the Duke of Aquitaine had implored, succeeded in inflicting on Abd al-Rahman so severe a defeat, near Poitiers, that the Moslems were obliged to effect a hasty retreat, and to return to Spain. Two tears later the new governor of Spain, Okba b. al-Hajjaj, ren-entered Gaul, and pushed forward expeditions as far as Burgundy and Dauphine. Charles Martel, with the help of the Lombards, again drove back the Arabs as far as Narbonne. Thenceforth the continual revolts of the Berbers in Africa on the one side, and on the other the internal troubles which disturbed Spain, and which led at a later period to its independence, offered insurmountable obstacles to the ambition of the Moslems, and prevented their resuming the offensive.
Such was the state of the empire when Hisham died on the 6th of Rabi II A.H. 125 (6th Feb. A.D. 743), after a reign of twenty years. He had not been wanting in energy and ability. Yet under his reign the Moslem power declined rather than advanced, and signs of the decay of the Omayyad dynasty began to show themselves. The history of his four successors, Walid II., Yazid III., Ibrahim, and Merwan II., is b ut the history of the fall of the Omayyads.
11. Walid II., the son of Yazid II., ascended the throne without opposition at the death of Hisham; but he soon made himself so much hated and despised by his debaucheries and his irreligion that even the sons of Hisham and of Walid I. plotted with the enemies of the Omayyads. Yazid, one of the sons of Walid I., went so far as to take openly the title of Caliph, and to march against Damascus, which Walid II. had quitted for fear of a pestilence which was then raging there, This step was fatal to the Caliph. The inhabitants of Damascus opened their gates of Yazid, who took possession of the arsenals, and used the arms they contained to equip new troops. Walid II., on his side, collected his adherents and marched against his rival. The two armies met at a place called Bakhra, on the confines of Syria and Arabia. Yazid had no difficulty in overcoming his opponent, who was abandoned by his own soldiers. Walid II. died fighting, having reigned little more than a year, and his head was taken to Damascus, and carried about the city at the end of a spear. (Jomadi II., A.H. 126, March-April 744).
12. The death of Walid II., far from appeasing the troubles of the State, put its unity in greater jeopardy than ever. The distant provinces escaped from the power of the new Caliph. In Africa, Abd al-Rahman b. Habib declared himself independent. In Spain, every emir aspired to free himself from a suzerainty which appeared to him only nominal. In Khorasan the Abbasid emissaries were more and more busy, acting in the name of Ibrahim b. Mohammed, who had become the head of the family by the death of his father, Mohammed b. Ali. Even in Syria Yazid III. saw his authority disputed. Himself belonging to the sect of Motazilities, who rejected the doctrine of predestination a sect to which we shall have occasion to recur in treating of the religious history of Islam- he aroused all the orthodox against him. Besides this, many of the Syrians, from a sudden change of feeling, now desired to avenge the death of Walid II. The inhabitants of Emesa revolted, and marched against Damascus. They were beaten at a place called Thaniyat al-Okab. Or The Eagles Pass, twelve miles from the capital. Palestine rose in its turn, and chose as its Caliph another Yazid, cousin of the reigning prince. This revolt also was suppressed. But a greater danger menaced Yazid III. The Omayyad Merwan b. Mohammed, who was, as we have said, governor of Armenia and of Azerbaijan, also prepared to dispute the supreme power with the Caliph of Damascus, and invaded Mesopotamia. Yazid III., in his alarm, offered him the government of this last province as the price of peace. Merwan accepted these conditions, but he would probably not have left his rival long at rest, had not the latter died after a reign of only six months.
13. Yazid III. left his brother Ibrahim as his successor. At the news of Yazids death, Merwan-collected a powerful army and entered Syria. Having beaten Ibrahims generals one after the other and taken Emesa, he advanced rapidly towards Damascus. Soliaman b. Hisham tried to oppose his march, but he was defeated at Ain al-Jarr, between Ballabec and Damascus, and the Caliph Ibrahim took flight; while Solaiman, the son of Hisham, laid hands on the public treasure, and then fled in turn. Merwan entered Damascus, and caused himself to be proclaimed Caliph. The reign of Ibrahim had lasted only two months. Ibrahim himself soon acknowledged the new Caliph, and submitted to his authority.
14. Merwan II. was a man of energy, and might have revived the strength of his dynasty, if the ferment in the east of the empire had been less strong. Unfortunately for him, the Abbasid movement had never ceased to gain groun in Khorasan, and the chief adherent of the family of Abbas, Abu Moslim, was in no degree inferior to the Caliph in energy and ability. This Abu Moslim, whose origin is obscure and disputed, had been distinguished by the Abbasid Mohammed b. Ali, the same who alleged that he had been appointed her to the claims of the family of Ali to the supreme power. If we may believe the legend, Mohammed had even foretold that the accession of his family would take place in the year of the ass, through the efforts of Abu Molsim, and that one of his three sons would ascend the throne. These three sons were: Ibrahim, Abdallah, called Abu lAbbas, and Abdallah, called Abu Jafar. Whatever we may think of this prediction, it is certain that under Merwan II. Abu Moslim was the principal emissary of the Abbasid Ibrahim, and had been able to form a vast conspirary in Khorasan, which broke out in A.H. 128, at the very moment when it had been discovered by Nasr b. Sayyar, the Omayyad governor of the province. Even before this, Merwan II. had had to repress disorders which had broken out in Syria, Palestine, and ;Irak; and the Caliph could now rely so little on Syria that he had thought it necessary to quit Damascus, and to fix his abode at Harran, in Mesopotamia. On learning the revolt of Abu Moslim, Merwan II. wrote to Nasr b. Sayyar, direction him to act with vigor against the fomentors of sedition. It was easier to give such an order than to execute it, for Anu Molsim was at the head of a numerous army, absolutely devoted to the Abbasids. Merwan II. thought it necessary at the same time to secure the person of the Abbasid pretender Ibrahim, who was still living at Homaima. Ibrahim was therefore arrested, conveyed to Harran, and thrown into prison. He found means, however, of communicating with his lieutenant Abu Molsim, and the latter, who had received the most extensive powers from his chief, marched directed upon Merv, the capital of Khorasan, and drove out the governor Nasr. At the news of this the Caliph, no longer able to restrain his anger, had his captive Ibrahim put to death; an execution which, at a later period, brought upon the Omayyads the most terrible reprisals. The brother of Ibrahim, Abu lAbbas, surnamed Saffah, "The Sanguinary," on account of his cruelties, having by Ibrahgims death become chief of the Abbasids, immediately quitted Homaima with all the members of his family, and took refuge in Khorasan, that his presence there might sanction and encourage the insurrection. Abu Moslim, nowmaster of Khorasan by the capture of Merv, had meanwhile sent an army against Irak, under the order so Kahtaba b. Shabibi, who had beaten the Ommayad army, commanded by Yazid b. Hobaira, governor of that province. In A.H. 132 Abu l-Abbas arrived at Merv. After remaining there some time, waiting for a favorable moment, he decided on openly assuming the title of Caliph. He installed himself in the governors palace, and thence went in state of mosque, where he mounted the pulpit, and officiated in the capacity of successor of the Prophety. All those present took the oath of allegiance to him, and Abu lAbbas returned to the palace, over which the black flag was flying, black being the distinctive color of the Abbasids. But he did not remain long at Merv. Committing the government of that city to his uncle Dawud, he want to review his army, and divided it into several corps, which he directed against different points. After this he went to Chaldaea, and there established himself in a spot not far from Cufa, to which he gave the name of Hashimiva, or the city of Hashim, the ancestor of his own family and of that of the Prophet. Another of his uncles, Abdallah b. Ali, whom he had sent on an expedition against the city of Shaharozur, took possession of that place, and leaving Abu Aun Abd al-Melik b. Yazid there as governor, rejoined his nephew and sovereign at Hashimiya. Meanwhile the Omayyad Caliph had marched against Shahrozur. Abu Aun went out to meet him, and was joined by a strong reinforcement of cavalry under Abdallah b. Ali. The Abbasids only numbered forty-five thousand soldiers, but these were experienced and resolute warriors. The Omayyad army, though much more numerous, was ill commanded and devoid of spirit. A battle ensued, and fortune favored the rebels. In vain did Merwan show himself everywhere; his soldiers gave way and repassed the Zab in disorder, hurrying away in their flight the unfortunate Merwan. (Jomadi II. 11, A.H. 132, 25th January 750). This victory cost the Omayyads their empire. Merwan attempted at first to take refuge at Mosul; but the inhabitans of that city having declared for the enemy, the prince went to his capital Harran, whence he was soon driven by the army of Abdallah b. Ali. From Harran Merwan fled successively to Emesa to Damascus, to Palestine, and finally to Egypt. He was pursued without intermission by Salih, brother of Abdallah b. Ali, who at last came up with him at Busir, on the frontiers of the Detla. Merwan took refuge in a Coptic church; but the Abbasids pursued him into the building, and slew him at the foot of the altar. His head was cut off and sent to Cufa, where the new Caliph then was.
Thus perished in the East the dynasty of the house of Omayya, which, having been founded by usurpation, had only maintained itself by shedding torrents of blood, and was destined to perish in blood. We now enter upon the history of the new dynasty, whose origin we have described, and under which the power and glory of Islam reached their highest point.
Here we give the GENEALOGICAL TABLE OF THE OMAYYADS.
== TABLE ==
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Mohammedanism (Islam) - Table of Contents