1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Caliphate
CALIPHATE. The history of the Mahommedan rulers in the East who bore the title of caliph (q.v.) falls naturally into three main divisions:—(a) The first four caliphs, the immediate successors of Mahomet; (b) The Omayyad caliphs; (c) The Abbasid caliphs. To these three groups the present article is confined; for the Western caliphs, see Spain: History (and minor articles such as Almohades, Almoravides); for the Egyptian caliphs see Egypt: History (§ Mahommedan) and Fatimites. The history of Arabia proper will be found under Arabia: History.
A.—The First Four Caliphs
After the death of Mahomet the question arose who was to be his “representative.” The choice lay with the community of Medina; so much was understood; but whom were they to choose? The natives of Medina believed themselves to be now once more masters in their own house, and wished to promote one of themselves. But the Emigrants (see Mahomet) asserted their opposing claims, and with success, having brought into the town a considerable number of outside Moslems, so as to terrorize the men of Medina, who besides were still divided into two parties. The Emigrants’ leading spirit was Omar; he did not, however, cause homage to be paid to himself, but to Abu Bekr, the friend and father-in-law of the Prophet.
The affair would not have gone on so smoothly, had not the opportune defection of the Arabians put a stop to the inward schism which threatened. Islam suddenly found itself once more limited to the community of Medina; only Mecca and Tāif (Tāyef) remained true. The Bedouins were willing enough to pray, indeed, but less willing to pay taxes; their defection, as might have been expected, was a political movement. None the less was it a revolt from Islam, for here the political society and the religious are identical. A peculiar compliment to Mahomet was involved in the fact that the leaders of the rebellion in the various districts did not pose as princes and kings, but as prophets; in this appeared to lie the secret of Islam’s success.
1. Reign of Abu Bekr.—Abu Bekr proved himself quite equal to the perilous situation. In the first place, he allowed the expedition against the Greeks, already arranged by Mahomet, quietly to set out, limiting himself for the time to the defence of Medina. On the return of the army he proceeded to attack the rebels. The holy spirit of Islam kept the men of Medina together, and inspired in them an all-absorbing zeal for the faith; the Arabs as a whole had no other bond of union and no better source of inspiration than individual interest. As was to be expected, they were worsted; eleven small flying columns of the Moslems, sent out in various directions, sufficed to quell the revolt. Those who submitted were forthwith received back into favour; those who persevered in rebellion were punished with death. The majority accordingly converted, the obstinate were extirpated. In Yamama (Yemama) only was there a severe struggle; the Banū Ḥanīfa under their prophet Mosailima fought bravely, but here also Islam triumphed.
The internal consolidation of Islam in Arabia was, strange to say, brought about by its diffusion abroad. The holy war against the border countries which Mahomet had already inaugurated, was the best means for making the new religion popular among the Arabs, for opportunity was at the same time afforded for gaining rich booty. The movement was organized by Islam, but the masses were induced to join it by quite other than religious motives. Nor was this by any means the first occasion on which the Arabian cauldron had overflowed; once and again in former times emigrant swarms of Bedouins had settled on the borders of the wilderness. This had last happened in consequence of the events which destroyed the prosperity of the old Sabaean kingdom. At that time the small Arabian kingdoms of Ghassān and Hira had arisen in the western and eastern borderlands of cultivation; these now presented to Moslem conquest its nearest and natural goal. But inasmuch as Hira was subject to the Persians, and Eastern Palestine to the Greeks, the annexation of the Arabians involved the extension of the war beyond the limits of Arabia to a struggle with the two great powers (see further Arabia: History).
After the subjugation of middle and north-eastern Arabia, Khālid b. al-Walīd proceeded by order of the caliph, to the conquest of the districts on the lower Euphrates. Thence he was summoned to Syria, where hostilities had also broken out. Damascus fell late in the summer of 635, and on the 20th of August 636 was fought the great decisive battle on the Hieromax (Yarmuk), which caused the emperor Heraclius (q.v.) finally to abandon Syria. Left to themselves, the Christians henceforward defended themselves only in isolated cases in the fortified cities; for the most part they witnessed the disappearance of the Byzantine power without regret. Meanwhile the war was also carried on against the Persians in Irak, unsuccessfully at first, until the tide turned at the battle of Kadisiya (Kadessia, Qādisīya) (end of 637). In consequence of the defeat which they here sustained, the Persians were forced to abandon the western portion of their empire and limit themselves to Iran proper. The Moslems made themselves masters of Ctesiphon (Madāin), the residence of the Sassanids on the Tigris, and conquered in the immediately following years the country of the two rivers. In 639 the armies of Syria and Irak were face to face in Mesopotamia. In a short time they had taken from the Aryans all the principal old Semitic lands—Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia, Assyria and Babylonia. To these was soon added Egypt, which was overrun with little difficulty by ʽAmr ibn-el-Ass (q.v.) in 640. (See Egypt: History (§ Mahommedan.) This completed the circle of the lands bordering on the wilderness of Arabia; within these limits annexation was practicable and natural, a repetition indeed of what had often previously occurred. The kingdoms of Ghassan and Hira, advanced posts hitherto, now became the headquarters of the Arabs; the new empire had its centres on the one hand at Damascus, on the other hand at Kufa and Baṣra, the two newly-founded cities in the region of old Babylonia. The capital of Islam continued indeed for a while to be Medina, but soon the Hejaz (Hijaz) and the whole of Arabia proper lay quite on the outskirt of affairs.
The ease with which the native populations of the conquered districts, exclusively or prevailingly Christian, adapted themselves to the new rule is very striking. Their nationality had been broken long ago, but intrinsically it was more closely allied to the Arabian than to the Greek or Persian. Their religious sympathy with the West was seriously impaired by dogmatic controversies; from Islam they might at any rate hope for toleration, even though their views were not in accordance with the theology of the emperor of the day. The lapse of the masses from Christianity to Islam, however, which took place during the first century after the conquest, is to be accounted for only by the fact that in reality they had no inward relation to the gospel at all. They changed their creed merely to acquire the rights and privileges of Moslem citizens. In no case were they compelled to do so; indeed the Omayyad caliphs saw with displeasure the diminishing proceeds of the poll-tax derived from their Christian subjects (see Mahommedan Institutions).
It would have been a great advantage for the solidity of the Arabian empire if it had confined itself within the limits of those old Semitic lands, with perhaps the addition of Egypt. But the Persians were not so ready as the Greeks to give up the contest; they did not rest until the Moslems had subjugated the whole of the Sassanid empire. The most important event in the protracted war which led to the conquest of Iran, was the battle of Nehāwend in 641; the most obstinate resistance was offered by Persis proper, and especially by the capital, Istakhr (Persepolis). In the end, all the numerous and partly autonomous provinces of the Sassanid empire fell, one after the other, into the hands of the Moslems, and the young king, Yazdegerd III. (q.v.), was compelled to retire to the farthest corner of his realm, where he came to a miserable end. But it was long before the Iranians learned to accept the situation. Unlike the Christians of western Asia, they had a vigorous feeling of national pride, based upon glorious memories and especially upon a church having a connexion of the closest kind with the state. Internal disturbances of a religious and political character and external disasters had long ago shattered the empire of the Sassanids indeed, but the Iranians had not yet lost their patriotism. They were fighting, in fact, against the despised and hated Arabs, in defence of their holiest possessions, their nationality and their faith. Their subjection was only external, nor did Islam ever succeed in assimilating them as the Syrian Christians were assimilated. Even when in process of time they did accept the religion of the prophet, they leavened it thoroughly with their own peculiar leaven, and, especially, deprived it of the practical political and national character which it had assumed after the flight to Medina. To the Arabian state they were always a thorn in the flesh; it was they who helped most to break up its internal order, and it was from them also that it at last received its outward death-blow. The fall of the Omayyads was their work, and with the Omayyads fell the Arabian empire.
2. Reign of Omar.—Abu Bekr died after a short reign on the 22nd of August 634, and as a matter of course was succeeded by Omar. To Omar’s ten years’ Caliphate belong for the most part the great conquests. He himself did not take the field, but remained in Medina with the exception of his visit to Syria in 638; he never, however, suffered the reins to slip from his grasp, so powerful was the influence of his personality and the Moslem community of feeling. His political insight is shown by the fact that he endeavoured to limit the indefinite extension of Moslem conquest, to maintain and strengthen the national Arabian character of the commonwealth of Islam, and especially to promote law and order in its internal affairs. The saying with which he began his reign will never grow antiquated: “by Allah, he that is weakest among you shall be in my sight the strongest, until I have vindicated for him his rights; but him that is strongest will I treat as the weakest, until he complies with the laws.” After the administration of justice he directed his organizing activity, as the circumstances demanded, chiefly towards financial questions—the incidence of taxation in the conquered territories, and the application of the vast resources which poured into the treasury at Medina. It must not be brought against him as a personal reproach, that in dealing with these he acted on the principle that the Moslems were the chartered plunderers of all the rest of the world. But he had to atone by his death for the fault of his system. In the mosque at Medina he was stabbed by a Kufan workman and died in November 644.
3. Reign of Othman.—Before his death Omar had nominated six of the leading Mohajir (Emigrants) who should choose the caliph from among themselves—Othman, Ali, Zobair, Ṭalḥa, Saʽd b. Abi Waqqāṣ, and Abdarraḥmān b. Auf. The last-named declined to be a candidate, and decided the election in favour of Othman. Under this weak sovereign the government of Islam fell entirely into the hands of the Koreish nobility. We have already seen that Mahomet himself prepared the way for this transference; Abu Bekr and Omar likewise helped it; the Emigrants were unanimous among themselves in thinking that the precedence and leadership belonged to them as of right. Thanks to the energy of Omar, they were successful in appropriating to themselves the succession to the Prophet. They indeed rested their claims on the undeniable priority of their services to the faith, but they also appealed to their blood relationship with the Prophet as a corroboration of their right to the inheritance; and the ties of blood connected them with the Koreish in general. In point of fact they felt a closer connexion with these than, for example, with the natives of Medina; nature had not been expelled by faith. The supremacy of the Emigrants naturally furnished the means of transition to the supremacy of the Meccan aristocracy. Othman did all in his power to press forward this development of affairs. He belonged to the foremost family of Mecca, the Omayyads, and that he should favour his relations and the Koreish as a whole, in every possible way, seemed to him a matter of course. Every position of influence and emolument was assigned to them; they themselves boastingly called the important province of Irak the garden of Koreish. In truth, the entire empire had become that garden. Nor was it unreasonable that from the secularization of Islam the chief advantage should be reaped by those who best knew the world. Such were beyond all doubt the patricians of Mecca, and after them those of Tāif, people like Khālid b. al-Walīd, Amr-ibn-el-Ass, ʽAbdallāh b. abī Sarḥ, Moghīra b. Shoʽba, and, above all, old Abu Sofiān with his son Moawiya.
Against the rising tide of worldliness an opposition, however, now began to appear. It was led by what may be called the spiritual noblesse of Islam, which, as distinguished from the hereditary nobility of Mecca, might also be designated as the nobility of merit, consisting of the “Defenders” (Ansar), and especially of the Emigrants who had lent themselves to the elevation of the Koreish, but by no means with the intention of allowing themselves thereby to be effaced. The opposition was headed by Ali, Zobair, Ṭalḥa, both as leading men among the Emigrants and as disappointed candidates for the Caliphate. Their motives were purely selfish; not God’s cause but their own, not religion but power and preferment, were what they sought. Their party was a mixed one. To it belonged the men of real piety, who saw with displeasure the promotion to the first places in the commonwealth of the great lords who had actually done nothing for Islam, and had joined themselves to it only at the last moment. But the majority were merely a band of men without views, whose aim was a change not of system, but of persons in their own interest. Everywhere in the provinces there was agitation against the caliph and his governors, except in Syria, where Othman’s cousin, Moawiya, son of Abu Sofiān (see below), carried on a wise and strong administration. The movement was most energetic in Irak and in Egypt. Its ultimate aim was the deposition of Othman in favour of Ali, whose own services as well as his close relationship to the Prophet seemed to give him the best claim to the Caliphate. Even then there were enthusiasts who held him to be a sort of Messiah.
The malcontents sought to gain their end by force. In bands they came from the provinces to Medina to wring concessions from Othman, who, though his armies were spreading terror from the Indus and Oxus to the Atlantic, had no troops at hand in Medina. He propitiated the mutineers by concessions, but as soon as they had gone, he let matters resume their old course. Thus things went on from bad to worse. In the following year (656) the leaders of the rebels came once more from Egypt and Irak to Medina with a more numerous following; and the caliph again tried the plan of making promises which he did not intend to keep. But the rebels caught him in a flagrant breach of his word, and now demanded his abdication, besieging him in his own house, where he was defended by a few faithful subjects. As he would not yield, they at last took the building by storm and put him to death, an old man of eighty. His death in the act of maintaining his rights was of the greatest service to his house and of corresponding disadvantage to the enemy.
4. Reign of Ali.—Controversy as to the inheritance at once arose among the leaders of the opposition. The mass of the mutineers summoned Ali to the Caliphate, and compelled even Ṭalḥa and Zobair to do him homage. But soon these two, along with Ayesha, the mother of the faithful, who had an old grudge against Ali, succeeded in making their escape to Irak, where at Baṣra they raised the standard of rebellion. Ali in point of fact had no real right to the succession, and moreover was apparently actuated not by piety but by ambition and the desire of power, so that men of penetration, even although they condemned Othman’s method of government, yet refused to recognize his successor. The new caliph, however, found means of disposing of their opposition, and at the battle of the Camel, fought at Baṣra in November 656, Ṭalḥa and Zobair were slain, and Ayesha was taken prisoner.
But even so Ali had not secured peace. With the murder of Othman the dynastic principle gained the twofold advantage of a legitimate cry—that of vengeance for the blood of the grey-haired caliph and a distinguished champion, the governor Moawiya, whose position in Syria was impregnable. The kernel of his subjects consisted of genuine Arabs, not only recent immigrants along with Islam, but also old settlers who, through contact with the Roman empire and the Christian church, had become to some extent civilized. Through the Ghassanids these latter had become habituated to monarchical government and loyal obedience, and for a long time much better order had prevailed amongst them than elsewhere in Arabia. Syria was the proper soil for the rise of an Arabian kingdom, and Moawiya was just the man to make use of the situation. He exhibited Othman’s blood-stained garment in the mosque at Damascus, and incited his Syrians to vengeance.
Ali’s position in Kufa was much less advantageous. The population of Irak was already mixed up with Persian elements; it fluctuated greatly, and was largely composed of fresh immigrants. Islam had its headquarters here; Kufa and Baṣra were the home of the pious and of the adventurer, the centres of religious and political movement. This movement it was that had raised Ali to the Caliphate, but yet it did not really take any personal interest in him. Religion proved for him a less trustworthy and more dangerous support than did the conservative and secular feeling of Syria for the Omayyads. Moawiya could either act or refrain from acting as he chose, secure in either case of the obedience of his subjects. Ali, on the other hand, was unable to convert enthusiasm for the principle inscribed on his banner into enthusiasm for his person. It was necessary that he should accommodate himself to the wishes of his supporters, which, however, were inconsistent. They compelled him suddenly to break off the battle of Siffin, which he was apparently on the point of gaining over Moawiya, because the Syrians fastened copies of the Koran to their lances to denote that not the sword, but the word of God should decide the contest (see further below, B. 1; also Ali). But in yielding to the will of the majority he excited the displeasure of the minority, the genuine zealots, who in Moawiya were opposing the enemy of Islam, and regarded Ali’s entering into negotiations with him as a denial of the faith. When the negotiations failed and war was resumed, the Kharijites refused to follow Ali’s army, and he had to turn his armies in the first instance against them. He succeeded in disposing of them without difficulty at the battle of Nahrawān, but in his success he lost the soul of his following. For they were the true champions of the theocratic principle; through their elimination it became clear that the struggle had in no sense anything to do with the cause of God. Ali’s defeat was a foregone conclusion, once religious enthusiasm had failed him; the secular resources at the disposal of his adversaries were far superior. Fortunately for him he was murdered (end of January 661), thereby posthumously attaining an importance in the eyes of a large part of the Mahommedan world (Shīʽa) which he had never possessed during his life.
B.—The Omayyad Dynasty
Summary of Preceding Movements.—The conquest of Mecca had been of the greatest importance to the Prophet, not only because Islam thus obtained possession of this important city with its famous sanctuary, but above all because his late adversaries were at last compelled to acknowledge him as the Envoy of God. Among these there were many men of great ability and influence, and he was so eager to conciliate them or, as the Arabic expression has it, “to mellow their hearts” by concessions and gifts, that his loyal helpers (Ansar) at Medina became dissatisfied and could only with difficulty be brought to acquiesce in it. Mahomet was a practical man; he realized that the growing state needed skilful administrators, and that such were found in much greater number among the antagonists of yesterday than among the honest citizens of Medina. The most important positions, such as the governorships of Mecca and Yemen, were entrusted to men of the Omayyad house, or that of the Makhzūm and other Koreishite families. Abu Bekr followed the Prophet’s example. In the great revolt of the Arabic tribes after the death of Mahomet, and in the invasion of Irak and Syria by the Moslems, the principal generals belonged to them. Omar did not deviate from that line of conduct. It was he who appointed Yazīd, the son of Abu Sofiān, and after his death, his brother Moawiya as governor of Syria, and assigned the province of Egypt to Amr-ibn-el-Ass (ʽAmr b. Āṣ). It is even surprising to find among the leading men so few of the house of Hāshim, the nearest family of the Prophet. The puzzled Moslem doctors explain this fact on the ground that the Hashimites were regarded as too noble to hold ordinary administrative offices, and that they could not be spared at Medina, where their counsel was required in all important affairs. There is, however, a tradition in which Ali himself calls the Omayyads born rulers. As long as Omar lived opposition was silent. But Othman had not the strong personality of his predecessor, and, although he practically adhered to the policy of Omar, he was accused of favouring the members of his own family—the caliph belonged himself to the house of Omayya—at the expense of the Hashimites and the Ansar. The jealousy of the latter two was prompted by the fact that the governorship and military commands had become not only much more important, but also much more lucrative, while power and money again procured many adherents. The truly devout Moslems on the other hand were scandalized by the growing luxury which relaxed the austere morals of the first Moslems, and this also was imputed to Othman.
We thus see how the power of the house of Omayya developed itself, and how there arose against it an opposition, which led in the first place to the murder of Othman and the Caliphate of Ali, and furthermore, during the whole period of the Omayyad caliphs, repeatedly to dangerous outbreaks, culminating in the great catastrophe which placed the Abbasids on the throne. The elements of this opposition were of very various kinds:—(1) The old-fashioned Moslems, sons of the Ansar and Mohājir, who had been Mahomet’s first companions and supporters, and could not bear the thought that the sons of the old enemies of the Prophet in Mecca, whom they nicknamed ṭolaqā (freedmen), should be in control of the imamate, which carried with it the management of affairs both civil and religious. This party was in the foreground, chiefly in the first period. (2) The partisans of Ali, the Shiʽa (Shiʽites), who in proportion as their influence with the Arabs declined, contrived to strengthen it by obtaining the support of the non-Arabic Moslems, aided thereto, especially in the latter period, by the Abbasids, who at the decisive moment succeeded in seizing the supreme power for themselves. (3) The Kharijites, who, in spite of the heavy losses they sustained at the hands of Ali, maintained their power by gaining new adherents from among those austere Moslems, who held both Omayyads and Alids as usurpers, and have often been called, not unjustly, the Puritans of Islam. (4) The non-Arabic Moslems, who on their conversion to Islam, had put themselves under the patronage of Arabic families, and were therefore called maula’s (clients). These were not only the most numerous, but also, in virtue of the persistency of their hostility, the most dangerous. The largest and strongest group of these were the Persians, who, before the conquest of Irak by the Moslems, were the ruling class of that country, so that Persian was the dominant language. With, them all malcontents, in particular the Shiʽites, found support; by them the dynasty of the Omayyads and the supremacy of the Arabs was finally overthrown. To these elements of discord we must add:—(1) That the Arabs, notwithstanding the bond of Islam that united them, maintained their old tribal institutions, and therewith their old feuds and factions; (2) that the old antagonism between Maʽadites (original northern tribes) and Yemenites (original southern tribes), accentuated by the jealousy between the Meccans, who belonged to the former, and the Medinians, who belonged to the latter division, gave rise to perpetual conflicts; (3) that more than one dangerous pretender—some of them of the reigning family itself—contended with the caliph for the sovereignty, and must be crushed coûte que coûte. It is only by the detailed enumeration of these opposing forces that we can form an idea of the heavy task that lay before the Prince of the Believers, and of the amount of tact and ability which his position demanded.
The description of the reign of the Omayyads is extremely difficult. Never perhaps has the system of undermining authority by continual slandering been applied on such a scale as by the Alids and the Abbasids. The Omayyads were accused by their numerous missionaries of every imaginable vice; in their hands Islam was not safe; it would be a godly work to extirpate them from the earth. When the Abbasids had occupied the throne, they pursued this policy to its logical conclusion. But not content with having exterminated the hated rulers themselves, they carried their hostility to a further point. The official history of the Omayyads, as it has been handed down to us, is coloured by Abbasid feeling to such an extent that we can scarcely distinguish the true from the false. An example of this occurs at the outset in the assertion that Moawiya deliberately refrained from marching to the help of Othman, and indeed that it was with secret joy that he heard of the fatal result of the plot. The facts seem to contradict this view. When, ten weeks before the murder, some hundreds of men came to Medina from Egypt and Irak, pretending that they were on their pilgrimage to Mecca, but wanted to bring before the caliph their complaints against his vicegerents, nobody could have the slightest suspicion that the life of the caliph was in danger; indeed it was only during the few days that Othman was besieged in his house that the danger became obvious. If the caliph then, as the chroniclers tell, sent a message to Moawiya for help, his messenger could not have accomplished half the journey to Damascus when the catastrophe took place. There is no real reason to doubt that the painful news fell on Moawiya unexpectedly, and that he, as mightiest representative of the Omayyad house, regarded as his own the duty of avenging the crime. He could not but view Ali in the light of an accomplice, because if, as he protested, he did not abet the murderers, yet he took them under his protection. An acknowledgment of Ali as caliph by Moawiya before he had cleared himself from suspicion was therefore quite impossible.
1. The Reign of Moawiya.—Moawiya, son of the well-known Meccan chief Abu Sofiān, embraced Islam together with his father and his brother Yazid, when the Prophet conquered Mecca, and was, like them, treated with the greatest distinction. He was even chosen to be one of the secretaries of Mahomet. When Abu Bekr sent his troops for the conquest of Syria, Yazid, the eldest son of Abu Sofiān, held one of the chief commands, with Moawiya as his lieutenant. In the year 639 Omar named him governor of Damascus and Palestine; Othman added to this province the north of Syria and Mesopotamia. To him was committed the conduct of the war against the Byzantine emperor, which he continued with energy, at first only on land, but later, when the caliph had at last given in to his urgent representations, at sea also. In the year 34 (A.D. 655) was fought off the coast of Lycia the great naval battle, which because of the great number of masts has been called “the mast fight,” in which the Greek fleet, commanded by the emperor Constans II. in person, was utterly defeated. Moawiya himself was not present, as he was conducting an attack (the result of which we do not know) on Caesarea in Cappadocia. The Arabic historians are so entirely preoccupied with the internal events that they have no eye for the war at the frontier. The contention which Moawiya had with Ali checked his progress in the north.
Moawiya was a born ruler, and Syria was, as we have seen, the best administered province of the whole empire. He was so loved and honoured by his Syrians that, when he invited them to avenge the blood of Othman, they replied unanimously, “It is your part to command, ours to obey.” Ali was a valiant man, but had no great talent as a ruler. His army numbered a great many enthusiastic partisans, but among them not a few wiseacres; there were also others of doubtful loyalty. The battle at Siffin (657), near the Euphrates, which lasted two months and consisted principally in, sometimes bloody, skirmishes, with alternate success, ended by the well-known appeal to the decision of the Koran on the part of Moawiya. This appeal has been called by a European scholar “one of the unworthiest comedies of the whole world’s history,” accepting the report of very partial Arabic writers that it happened when the Syrians were on the point of losing the battle. He forgot that Ali himself, before the Battle of the Camel, appealed likewise to the decision of the Koran, and began the fight only when this had been rejected. There is in reality no room for suspecting Moawiya of not having been in earnest when making this appeal; he might well regret that internecine strife should drain the forces which were so much wanted for the spread of Islam. That the Book of God could give a solution, even of this arduous case, was doubtless the firm belief of both parties. But even if the appeal to the Koran had been a stratagem, as Ali himself thought, it would have been perfectly legitimate, according to the general views of that time, which had been also those of the Prophet. It is not unlikely that the chief leader of the Yemenites in Ali’s army, Ashʽath b. Qais, knew beforehand that this appeal would be made. Certainty is not to be obtained in the whole matter.
On each side an umpire was appointed, Abu Mūsā al-Ashʽarī, the candidate of Ashʽath, on that of Ali, Amr-ibn-el-Ass (q.v.) on that of Moawiya. The arbitrators met in the year 37 (A.D. 658) at Adhroḥ, in the south-east of Syria, where are the ruins of the Roman Castra described by Brünnow and Domaszewsky (Die Provincia Arabia, i. 433-463). Instead of this place, the historians generally put Dūmat-al-Jandal, the biblical Duma, now called Jauf, but this rests on feeble authority. The various accounts about what happened in this interview are without exception untrustworthy. J. Wellhausen, in his excellent book Das arabische Reich und sein Stürz, has made it very probable that the decision of the umpires was that the choice of Ali as caliph should be cancelled, and that the task of nominating a successor to Othman should be referred to the council of notable men (shūrā), as representing the whole community. Ali refusing to submit to this decision, Moawiya became the champion of the law, and thereby gained at once considerable support for the conquest of Egypt, to which above all he directed his efforts. As soon as Amr returned from Adhroḥ, Moawiya sent him with an army of four or five thousand men against Egypt. About the same time the constitutional party rose against Ali’s vicegerent Mahommed, son of Abu Bekr, who had been the leader of the murderous attack on Othman. Mahommed was beaten, taken in his flight, and, according to some reports, sewn in the skin of an ass and burned.
Moawiya, realizing that Ali would take all possible means to crush him, took his measures accordingly. He concluded with the Greeks a treaty, by which he pledged himself to pay a large sum of money annually on condition that the emperor should give him hostages as a pledge for the maintenance of peace. Ali, however, had first to deal with the insurrection of the Kharijites, who condemned the arbitration which followed the battle of Siffin as a deed of infidelity, and demanded that Ali should break the compact (see above, A.4). Freed from this difficulty, Ali prepared to direct his march against Moawiya, but his soldiers declined to move. One of his men, Khirrīt b. Rāshid, renounced him altogether, because he had not submitted to the decision of the umpires, and persuaded many others to refuse the payment of the poor-rate. Ali was obliged to subdue him, a task which he effected not without difficulty. Not a few of his former partisans went over to Moawiya, as already had happened before the days of Siffin, amongst others Ali’s own brother ʽAqīl. Lastly, there were in Kufa, and still more in Basra, many Othmaniya or legitimists, on whose co-operation he could not rely. Moawiya from his side made incessant raids into Ali’s dominion, and by his agents caused a very serious revolt in Basra. The statement that a treaty was concluded between Moawiya and Ali to maintain the status quo, in the beginning of the year 40 (A.D. 660), is not very probable, for it is pretty certain that just then Ali had raised an army of 40,000 men against the Syrians, and also that in the second or third month of that year Moawiya was proclaimed caliph at Jerusalem. At the same time Bosr b. Abi Artāt made his expedition against Medina and Mecca, whose inhabitants were compelled to acknowledge the caliphate of Moawiya. On the murder of Ali in 661, his son Hasan was chosen caliph, but he recoiled before the prospect of a war with Moawiya, having neither the ambition nor the energy of Ali. Moawiya stood then with a large army in Maskin, a rich district lying to the north of the later West Bagdad, watered by the Dojail, or Little Tigris, a channel from the Euphrates to the Tigris. The army of Trak was near Madāin, the ancient Ctesiphon. The reports about what occurred are confused and contradictory; but it seems probable that Abdallah b. Abbas, the vicegerent of Ali at Basra and ancestor of the future Abbasid dynasty, was in command. No battle was fought. Hasan and Ibn Abbas opened, each for himself, negotiations with Moawiya. The latter made it a condition of surrender that he should have the free disposal of the funds in the treasury of Basra. Some say that he had already before the death of Ali rendered himself master of it. Notwithstanding the protest of the Basrians, he transported this booty safely to Mecca. When his descendants had ascended the throne and he had become a demi-saint, the historians did their best to excuse his conduct. Hasan demanded, in exchange for the power which he resigned, the contents of the treasury at Kufa, which amounted to five millions of dirhems, together with the revenues of the Persian province of Darābjird (Darab). When these negotiations became known, a mutiny broke out in Hasan’s camp. Hasan himself was wounded and retired to Medina, where he died eight or nine years afterwards. The legend that he was poisoned by order of Moawiya is without the least foundation. It seems that he never received the revenues of Darābjird, the Basrians to whom they belonged refusing to cede them.
Moawiya now made his entry into Kufa in the summer of A.H. 41 (A.D. 661) and received the oath of allegiance as Prince of the Believers. This year is called the year of union (jamāʽa). Moghīra b. Shoʽba was appointed governor of Kufa. Homrān b. Abān had previously assumed the government of Basra. This is represented commonly as a revolt, but as Homran was a client of Othman, and remained in favour with the Omayyads, it is almost certain that he took the management of affairs only to maintain order.
One strong antagonist to Moawiya remained, in the person of Ziyād. This remarkable man was said to be a bastard of Abu Sofiān, the father of Moawiya, and was, by his mother, the brother of Abu Bakra, a man of great wealth and position at Basra. He thus belonged to the tribe of Thaqīf at Ṭāif, which produced many very prominent men. At the age of fourteen years Ziyād was charged with the financial administration of the Basrian army. He had won the affection of Omar, by his knowledge of the Koran and the Sunna of the Prophet, and by the fact that he had employed the first money he earned to purchase the freedom of his mother Somayya. He was a faithful servant of Ali and put down for him the revolt excited by Moawiya’s partisans in Basra. Thence he marched into Fārs and Kirman, where he maintained peace and kept the inhabitants in their allegiance to Ali. After Ali’s death he fortified himself in his castle near Istakhr and refused to submit. Moawiya, therefore, sent Bosr b. Abi Artāt to Basra, with orders to capture Ziyād’s three sons, and to force Ziyād into submission by threatening to kill them. Ziyād was obdurate; and it was due to his brother Abu Bakra, who persuaded Moawiya to cancel the order, that the threat was not executed. On his return to Damascus, Moawiya charged Moghīra b. Shoʽba to bring his countryman to reason. Abdallah b. ’Āmir was made governor of Basra.
As soon as Moawiya had his hands free, he directed all his forces against the Greeks. Immediately after the submission of Irak, he had denounced the existing treaty, and as early as 662 had sent his troops against the Alans and the Greeks. Since then, no year passed without a campaign. Twice he made a serious effort to conquer Constantinople, in 669 when he besieged it for three months, and in 674. On the second occasion his fleet occupied Cyzicus, which it held till shortly after his death in 680, when a treaty was signed. In Africa also the extension of Mahommedan power was pursued energetically. In 670 took place the famous march of ʽOkba (ʽOqba) b. Nāfiʽ and the foundation of Kairawan, where the great mosque still bears his name. Our information about these events, though very full, is untrustworthy, while of the events in Asia Minor the accounts are scarce and short. The Arabic historians are still absorbed by the events in Irak and Khorasan.
The talented prefect of Kufa, Moghīra b. Shoʽba, eventually broke down the resistance of Ziyād, who came to Damascus to render an account of his administration, which the caliph ratified. Moawiya seems also to have acknowledged him as the son of Abu Sofiān, and thus as his brother; in 664 this recognition was openly declared. In the next year Ziyād was appointed governor of Basra and the eastern provinces belonging to it. As the austere champion of the precepts of Islam, he soon restored order in the whole district. Outwardly, this was the case in Kufa also. A rising of Kharijites in the year 663 had ended in the death of their chief. But the Shiʽites were dissatisfied and even dared to give public utterance to their hostility. Moghīra contented himself with a warning. He was already aged and had no mind to enter on a conflict. He died about the year 670, and his province also was entrusted to Ziyād, who appointed ʽAmr b. Horaith as his vicegerent. At a Friday service in the great mosque ʽAmr was insulted and pelted with pebbles. Ziyād then came himself, arrested the leader of the Shiʽites, and sent fourteen rebels to Damascus, among them several men of consideration. Seven of them who refused to pledge themselves to obedience were put to death; the Shiʽites considered them as martyrs and accused Moawiya of committing a great crime. But in Kufa peace was restored, and this not by military force, but by the headmen of the tribes. We must not forget that Kufa and Basra were military colonies, and that each tribe had its own quarter of the city. A wholesome diversion was provided by the serious resumption of the policy of eastern expansion, which had been interrupted by the civil war. For this purpose Irak had to furnish the largest contingent. The first army sent by Ziyād into Khorasan recaptured Merv, Herat and Balkh, conquered Tokhāristān and advanced as far as the Oxus. In 673 ʽObaidallah, the son of Ziyād, crossed the river, occupied Bokhara, and returned laden with booty taken from the wandering Turkish tribes of Transoxiana. He brought 2000 Turkish archers with him to Basra, the first Turkish slaves to enter the Moslem empire. Saʽīd, son of the caliph Othman, whom Moawiya made governor of Khorasan, in 674 marched against Samarkand. Other generals penetrated as far as the Indus and conquered Kabul, Sijistan, Makrān and Kandahar.
Ziyād governed Irak with the greatest vigour, but as long as discontent did not issue in action, he let men alone. At his death (672–673), order was so generally restored that “nobody had any more to fear for life or estate, and even the unprotected woman was safe in her house without having her door bolted.”
Moawiya was a typical Arab sayyid (gentleman). He governed, not by force, but by his superior intelligence, his self-control, his mildness and magnanimity. The following anecdote may illustrate this. One of Moawiya’s estates bordered on that of Abdallah b. Zobair, who complained in a somewhat truculent letter that Moawiya’s slaves had been guilty of trespassing. Moawiya, disregarding his son Yazid’s advice that he should exact condign punishment for Zobair’s disrespect, replied in flattering terms, regretting the trespass and resigning both slaves and estate to Zobair. In reply Zobair protested his loyalty to Moawiya, who thereupon pointed a moral for the instruction of Yazid.
Moawiya has been accused of having poisoned more than one of his adversaries, among them Malik Ashtar, Abdarrahmān the son of the great captain Khālid b. Walīd, and Hasan b. Ali. As for the latter, European scholars have long been agreed that the imputation is groundless. As to Abdarrahmān the story is in the highest degree improbable. Madāinī says that Moawiya was prompted to it, because when he consulted the Syrians about the choice of his son Yazid as his successor, they had proposed Abdarrahmān. The absurdity of this is obvious, for Abdarrahmān died in the year 666. Others say that Moawiya was afraid lest Abdarrahmān should become too popular. Now, Abdarrahmān had not only been a faithful ally of Moawiya in the wars with Ali, but after the peace devoted all his energy to the Greek war. It is almost incredible that Moawiya out of petty jealousy would have deprived himself of one of his best men. The probability is that Abdarrahmān was ill when returning from the frontier, that Moawiya sent him his own medical man, the Christian doctor Ibn Othāl, and that the rumour arose that the doctor had poisoned him. It is remarkable withal that this rumour circulated, not in Homs (Emesa), where Abdarrahmān died, but in Medina. There a young relation of Abdarrahmān was so roused by the taunt that the death of his kinsman was unavenged, that he killed Ibn Othal near the mosque of Damascus. Moawiya imprisoned him and let him pay a high ransom, the law not permitting the talio against a Moslem for having killed a Christian. The story that this relative was Khālid, the son of Abdarrahmān, is absurd inasmuch as Moawiya made this Khālid commander against the Greeks in succession to his father. In the third case—that of Malik Ashtar—the evidence is equally inadequate. In fact, since Moawiya did not turn the weapon of assassination against such men as Abdallah b. Zobair and Hosain b. Ali, it is unlikely that he used it against less dangerous persons. These two men were the chief obstacles to Moawiya’s plan for securing the Caliphate for his son Yazid. The leadership with the Arabic tribes was as a rule hereditary, the son succeeding his father, but only if he was personally fit for the position, and was acknowledged as such by the principal men of the tribe. The hereditary principle had not been recognized by Islam in the cases of Abu Bekr, Omar and Othman; it had had some influence upon the choice of Ali, the husband of Fatima and the cousin of the Prophet. But it had been adopted entirely for the election of Hasan. The example of Abu Bekr proved that the caliph had the right to appoint his successor. But this appointment must be sanctioned by the principal men, as representing the community. Moawiya seems to have done his best to gain that approbation, but the details given by the historians are altogether unconvincing. This only seems to be certain, that the succession of Yazid was generally acknowledged before the death of his father, except in Medina. (See Mahommedan Institutions.)
Moawiya died in the month of Rajab 60 (A.D. 680). His last words are said to have been: “Fear ye God, the Elevated and Mighty, for God, Praise be to Him, protects the man that fears Him; he who does not fear God, has no protection.” Moawiya was, in fact, a religious man and a strict disciple of the precepts of Islam. We can scarcely, therefore, credit the charges made by the adversaries of his chosen successor Yazid, that he was a drinker of wine, fond of pleasure, careless about religion. All the evidence shows that, during the reign of the Omayyads, life in Damascus and the rest of Syria was austere and in striking contrast to the dissolute manners which prevailed in Medina.
2. Rule of Yazid.—When Moawiya died, the opposition had already been organized. On his accession Yazid sent a circular to all his prefects, officially announcing his father’s death, and ordering them to administer the oath of allegiance to their subjects. In that sent to Walīd b. ʽOtba, the governor of Medina, he enclosed a private note charging him in particular to administer the oath to Hosain, Abdallah b. Omar and Abdallah b. Zobair, if necessary, by force. Walid sent a messenger inviting them to a conference, thus giving them time to assemble their followers and to escape to Mecca, where the prefect Omar b. Saʽīd could do nothing against them. In the month Ramadan this Omar was made governor of Medina and sent an army against Ibn Zobair. This army was defeated, and from that time Ibn Zobair was supreme at Mecca.
On the news of Yazid’s accession, the numerous partisans of the family of Ali in Kufa sent addresses to Hosain, inviting him to take refuge with them, and promising to have him proclaimed caliph in Irak. Hosain, having learned that the majority of the inhabitants were apparently ready to support him strenuously, prepared to take action. Meanwhile Yazid, having been informed of the riotous behaviour of the Shiʽites in Kufa, sent Obaidallah, son of the famous Ziyād and governor of Basra, to restore order. Using the same tactics as his father had used before, Obaidallah summoned the chiefs of the tribes and made them responsible for the conduct of their men. On the 8th of Dhu’l-Hijja Hosain set out from Mecca with all his family, expecting to be received with enthusiasm by the citizens of Kufa, but on his arrival at Kerbela west of the Euphrates, he was confronted by an army sent by Obaidallah under the command of Omar, son of the famous Saʽd b. Abi Waqqās, the founder of Kufa. Hosain gave battle, vainly relying on the promised aid from Kufa, and fell with almost all his followers on the 10th of Muharram 61 (10th of October 680).
No other issue of this rash expedition could have been expected. But, as it involved the grandson of the Prophet, the son of Ali, and so many members of his family, Hosain’s devout partisans at Kufa, who by their overtures had been the principal cause of the disaster, regarded it as a tragedy, and the facts gradually acquired a wholly romantic colouring. Omar b. Saʽd and his officers, Obaidallah and even Yazid came to be regarded as murderers, and their names have ever since been held accursed by all Shiʽites. They observe the 10th of Muharram, the day of ʽAshūra, as a day of public mourning. Among the Persians, stages are erected on that day in public places, and plays are acted, representing the misfortunes of the family of Ali. “Revenge for Hosain” became the watchword of all Shiʽites, and the Meshed Hosain (Tomb of the martyr Hosain) at Kerbela is to them the holiest place in the world (see Kerbela). Obaidallah sent the head of Hosain to Damascus, together with the women and children and Ali b. Hosain, who, being ill, had not taken part in the fight. Yazid was very sorry for the issue, and sent the prisoners under safe-conduct to Medina. Ali remained faithful to the caliph, taking no share in the revolt of the Medinians, and openly condemning the risings of the Shiʽites.
Ibn Zobair profited greatly by the distress caused by Hosain’s death. Though he named himself publicly a refugee of the House of God, he had himself secretly addressed as caliph, and many of the citizens of Medina acknowledged him as such. Yazid, when informed of this, swore in his anger to have him imprisoned. But remembering the wisdom of his father, he sent messengers with a chain made of silver coins, and bearing honourable proposals. At the same time he received a number of the chief men of Medina, sent by the prefect, with great honour and loaded them with gifts and presents. But Ibn Zobair refused, and the Medinians, of whom the majority probably had never before seen a prince’s court, however simple, were only confirmed in their rancour against Yazid, and told many horrible tales about his profligacy, that he hunted and held wild orgies with Bedouin sheikhs, and had no religion. A characteristically Arabic ceremony took place in the mosque of Medina. “I cast off the oath of allegiance to Yazid, as I cast off my turban,” exclaimed the first, and all others followed, casting off one of their garments, till a heap of turbans and sandals lay on the floor. Ibn Ḥanẓala was made commander. The Omayyads, though they with their clients counted more than 1000 men, were not able to maintain themselves, and were allowed to depart only on condition of strict neutrality.
At last the patience of Yazid was exhausted. An army—the accounts about the number vary from 4000 to 20,000—was equipped in all haste and put under the command of Moslim b. ʽOqba, with orders first to exact submission from the Medinians, if necessary by force, and then to march against Ibn Zobair. Moslim, having met the expelled Omayyads at Wādi ’l-Qorā, encamped near the city (August 683) and gave the inhabitants three days in which to return to obedience, wishing to spare the city of the Prophet and to prevent the shedding of blood. When, however, after the lapse of three days, a final earnest appeal had been answered insultingly, he began the battle. The Medinians fought valiantly, but could not hold out against the well-disciplined Syrians. Moreover, they were betrayed by the Medinian family of the Banū Ḥāritha, who introduced Syrian soldiers into the town. Medina lies between two volcanic hills, called harra. After one of these the battle has been named “The Day of Harra.” For three days the city was given up to plunder. It is said that a thousand bastards (the “children of the Harra”) were born in consequence of these days. The remaining citizens were compelled to take the oath of allegiance to Yazid in a humiliating form; the few who refused were killed. Ali b. Hosain, who had refused to have anything to do with the revolt, was treated with all honour. Mahommed b. al-Hanafiya, the son of Ali, and Abdallah b. Omar had likewise abstained, but they had left Medina for Mecca.
Moslim then proceeded towards Mecca. He was already ill, and died about midway between the two cities, after having given the command, according to the orders of the caliph, to Hosain b. Nomair. It is quite natural that the man who delivered up the city of the Prophet to plunder, and at whose hands so many prominent Moslems fell, should have been an object of detestation to the devout. Even some European scholars have drawn a false picture of his personality, as has been clearly shown by Wellhausen. About Medina also false statements have been made. The city recovered very soon from the disaster, and remained the seat not only of holy tradition and jurisdiction, but also of the Arabic aristocracy. In no city of the empire, during the reign of the Omayyads, lived more singers and musicians than in Medina.
Hosain b. Nomair arrived before Mecca in September 683 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 from Yamāma under Najda b. ʽÄmir. The siege had lasted 65—others say 40—days, when the news came of the death of Yazid, which took place presumably on the 14th of Rabia I, 64 (12th November 683). Eleven days before a fire, caused by imprudence, had consumed all the woodwork of the Kaʽba and burst the black stone in three places. The evidence is quite conclusive; yet the fire has been imputed to the Syrians, and a tale was invented about ballistas which hurled against the House of God enormous stones and vessels full of bitumen. In fact, the siege had been confined to enclosure and skirmishes. It is said that on the news of the death of Yazid a conference took place between Hosain and Ibn Zobair, and that the former offered to proclaim the latter as caliph provided he would accompany him to Syria and proclaim a general amnesty. Ibn Zobair refused haughtily, and Hosain, with a contemptuous criticism of his folly, ordered his army to break up for Syria.
Hitherto Ibn Zobair had confined himself to an appeal to the Moslems to renounce Yazid and to have a caliph elected by the council (shūrā) of the principal leading men. He now openly assumed the title of caliph and invited men to take the oath of allegiance. He was soon acknowledged throughout Arabia, in Egypt and in Irak. The Omayyads, who had returned to Medina, were again expelled.
Yazid is described in the Continuatio Isidori Byz. §27, as “iucundissimus et cunctis nationibus regni eius subditis vir gratissime habitus, qui nullam unquam, ut omnibus moris est, sibi regalis fastigii causa gloriam appetivit, sed communis cum omnibus civiliter vixit.” This is confirmed by the fact that Moawiya II. is said to have been a mild ruler, like his father, and goes far to outweigh the prejudiced account given by his opponents and coloured still further by tradition. Against the accusation of being a drinker of wine he himself protested in verses which he recited when he sent the army against Ibn Zobair. Decisive is also the testimony of Ibn al-Hanafiya, who declared that all the accusations brought by the Medinians were false. It may be true that he was fond of hunting, but he was a peace-loving, generous prince. It is uncertain at what age he died. Accounts vary between 33 and 39. The latter finds confirmation in the statement that he was born in A.H. 25, though another account places his birth in 22. As his son Moawiya who succeeded him was certainly adult (the accounts vary between 17 and 23), the latter date seems to be preferable.
3. Moawiya II. had reigned a very short time—how long is again wholly uncertain—when he fell sick and died. Then commenced a period of the greatest confusion. The mother of Yazid, Maisūn, belonged to the most powerful tribe in Syria, the Kalb, and it seems that this and the cognate tribes of Qodāʽa (Yemenites) had enjoyed certain prerogatives, which had aroused the jealousy of the Qais and the cognate tribes of Modar. Immediately after the death of Yazid, Zofar b. Ḥārith, who had already fought with Ibn Zobair against Yazid, had induced northern Syria and Mesopotamia to declare for Ibn Zobair. In Homs (Emesa) the governor Noʽmān b. Bashīr had pledged himself to the same cause. The prefect of Damascus, Ḍaḥḥāk b. Qais, seemed to be wavering in his loyalty. Khālid, the brother of Moawiya II., was still a youth and appears to have had no strength of character. There was, however, a much more dangerous candidate, viz. Merwān b. Ḥakam, of another branch of the Omayyads, who had been Othman’s right-hand man. He had pledged himself after some hesitation to Yazid, but now his turn had come. The amir of the Kalb, Ibn Baḥdal, persuaded probably by Obaidallah b. Ziyād, conceived that only a man of distinction could win the contest, and proclaimed Merwan caliph, on condition that his successor should be Khālid b. Yazid, and after him ʽAmr b. Saʽīd al-Ashdaq, who belonged to the third branch of the Omayyads. Meanwhile Ḍaḥḥāk had declared himself openly for Ibn Zobair. A furious battle (A.D. 684) ensued at Merj Rāhiṭ, near Damascus, in which Ḍaḥḥāk and Zofar, though they had the majority of troops, were utterly defeated. This battle became the subject of a great many poems and had pernicious consequences, especially as regards the antagonism between the Qais-Moḍar and Kalb-Yemenite tribes.
4. Reign of Merwan I.—Merwan strengthened his position according to the old oriental fashion by marrying the widow of Yazid, and soon felt himself strong enough to substitute his own son Abdalmalik for Khālid b. Yazid as successor-designate. Khālid contented himself with protesting; he was neither a politician nor a soldier, but a student of alchemy and astronomy; translations of Greek books have been ascribed to him (Jāḥiz, Bayān, i. p. 126). In the year A.H. 435 there was still in Egypt a brazen globe attributed to Ptolemy which had belonged to Khālid (Ibn Qiftī, p. 440, 1.15). He was also consulted about future events. There were, however, not a few who deplored the fact that the throne had passed from the descendants of Abu Sofiān. This feeling gave rise to the prophecy that there should appear later a Sofianī on the throne, who would reign with might and wisdom. ʽAmr Ashdaq made no opposition till the death of Merwan. After the victory at Merj Rāhiṭ, Merwan conquered Egypt, and installed as governor his second son Abdalazīz. An army sent to the rescue by Ibn Zobair under the command of his brother Muṣʽab was beaten in Palestine by ʽAmr Ashdaq. But a division sent by Merwan to the Hejaz was cut to pieces. Obaidallah b. Ziyād set out with the purpose of subduing Mesopotamia and marching thence against Irak. But he was detained a whole year in the former country, by a rising of the Shiʽites in Kufa, who were still in mourning for Hosain and had formed an army which called itself “the army of the penitent.” They were routed at Ras ʽAin, but Obaidallah had still to fight Zofar.
Meanwhile Mokhtār (son of that Abu ʽObaid the Thaqifite who had commanded the Arabs against the Persians in the unfortunate battle of the Bridge), a man of great talents and still greater ambition, after having supported Ibn Zobair in the siege of Mecca, had gone to Kufa, where he joined the Shiʽites, mostly Persians, and acquired great power. He claimed that he was commissioned by Ali’s son, Mahommed ibn al-Hanafiya, who after the death of Hosain was recognized by the Shiʽites as their Mahdi. A vague message from Mahommed, that it was the duty of every good Moslem to take part with the family of the Prophet, was interpreted in favour of Mokhtār, and thenceforward all the Shiʽites, among them the powerful Ibrāhīm, son of Ali’s right hand Malik Ashtar, followed him blindly as their chief. Afterwards Ibn al-Hanafiya seems to have acknowledged him distinctly as his vicegerent. Ibn Zobair’s representative in Kufa was compelled to flee, and all those who had participated in the battle of Kerbela were put to death. An army despatched against Obaidallah under Ibrāhīm routed the Syrians near Mosul (battle of Khāzir); Obaidallah and Hosain b. Nomair were slain. Mokhtār was now at the zenith of power, but Ibn Zobair, determined to get rid at all costs of so dangerous an enemy, named his brother Muṣʽab governor of Basra and ordered him to march against Kufa. Basra was at that time full of fugitives from Kufa, Arabian chiefs who resented the arrogance of Mokhtār’s adherents, and desired eagerly to regain their former position in Kufa. The troops of Basra had been, since the death of Yazid, at war with the Kharijites, who had supported Ibn Zobair during the siege of Mecca, but had deserted him later. Their caliph, Nāfiʽ b. Azraq, after whom they were called also Azraqites, threatened even the city itself, when Mohallab b. Abi Ṣofra, a very able general, compelled them to retire. Mohallab then marched with Muṣʽab against Kufa. Mokhtār fell, and with him the ephemeral dominion of the Persian Shiʽites. This had been their first attempt to dispute the authority of their Arabian conquerors, but it was not to be the last. Ibrāhīm b. Ashtar, Mokhtar’s governor of Mesopotamia, submitted and acknowledged the Caliphate of Ibn Zobair.
5. Reign of Abdalmalik.—Merwan died on the 27th of Ramadan 65 (7th May 685); according to tradition, he was suffocated by his wife, because he had insulted her son Khālid and herself. The accession of Abdalmalik was attended with no difficulty, but the first years of his reign were occupied by troubles in northern Syria, where, instigated by the Greeks, the Mardaites of the Amanus, called Jarājima by the Arabs, penetrated into the Lebanon. He was obliged to conclude an unfavourable treaty first with them, later with the emperor of Constantinople. Moreover, in the year 68 (A.D. 687–688) Syria was afflicted by a serious famine. Ibn Zobair, however, was occupied at Mecca with the rebuilding of the Kaʽba, and Muṣʽab was harassed not only by the Kharijites, but also by a noble freebooter, Obaidallah b. Ḥorr, who had created for himself a principality in the vicinity of Madāin (Ctesiphon).
The period of the pilgrimage caused a momentary truce to all these struggles, and in Dhu ’l-hijja, A.H. 68 (January 688), was seen the curious spectacle of four different standards planted near Mecca, belonging respectively to four 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, Abdalmalik; that of Ali’s son Mahommed b. al-Hanafiya, Mahdi of the Shiʽites; and that of the Kharijites, who were at that time under the command of Najda b. ʽĀmir. Such, however, was the respect inspired by the holy places, that no disorders resulted.
When, in the year (69 A.H.) 689 Abdalmalik had at last encamped at Boṭān Ḥabīb in the vicinity of Kinnesrin (Qinnasrīn), with the purpose of marching against Muṣʽab, his cousin ʽAmr Ashdaq, to whom by the treaty of Jābia, before the battle of Merj Rāhit, the succession to Merwan had been promised, took advantage of his absence to lay claim to the supreme power, and to have himself proclaimed caliph by his partisans. Abdalmalik was obliged to retrace his steps and to lay siege to his own capital. The garrison of Damascus took fright, and deserted their posts, so that ʽAmr Ashdaq was compelled to surrender. The caliph Abdalmalik summoned him to his palace and slew him with his own hand. Abdalmalik has every claim to our esteem as one of the ablest monarchs that ever reigned, but this murder remains a lasting blot on his career.
Abdalmalik could now give his whole attention to the projected expedition against Irak. Muṣʽab was encamped at Bājomairā in the neighbourhood of Takrīt. But Abdalmalik’s first task was to subdue Zofar and his Qaisites at Kerkesia (Qarqīsia), and the rest of the partisans of Mokhtār at Nisibis. Meanwhile, Muṣʽab had to curb a violent revolt in Basra, brought about by agents of Abdalmalik, and called after a place in the city the revolt of the Jofrites. About the middle of A.D. 691 Abdalmalik at last encamped at Dair al-Jathalīq (the monastery of the Catholicus) between Maskin, not far from the site of Bagdad, and Bājomairā. Muṣʽab’s best troops were fighting under Mohallab against the Kharijites; many Basrians were secretly favourable to the Omayyads, nor were the Kufian soldiers to be trusted. The people of Irak had never been accustomed to discipline, and no improvement had taken place during the troubles of the last years. Abdalmalik, therefore, wrote secretly to the chiefs of Muṣʽab’s army, and persuaded them to desert to him, with the exception of Ibrāhīm b. Ashtar, the brave son of a brave father, who, after the fall of Mokhtār, had become a faithful supporter of Ibn Zobair. His death, in the beginning of the battle, decided the fate of Muṣʽab, who was slain sword in hand by a Shiʽite of Kufa.
This victory opened the gates of Kufa to Abdalmalik, and all Irak received him with acclamation. Thence, a few days later, he sent Hajjāj b. Yusuf at the head of 2000 Syrians against Ibn Zobair in Mecca, and despatched a messenger to Tāriq b.ʽAmr, who was encamped at Wādi ’l-Qorā with 5000 men, to make himself master of Medina and thence to rejoin Hajjāj. Before the arrival of this reinforcement, Hajjāj confined himself to skirmishes, in which his soldiers always had the advantage. Then, in Dhu ʽl Qaʽda 72 (March 25th, 692) Mecca was invested. The blockade lasted more than six months, during which the city was a prey to all the horrors of siege and famine. Hajjāj had set up a balista on the hill of Abu Qobais, whence he poured on the city a hail of stones, which was suspended only in the days of the pilgrimage. Ibn Zobair employed against him Abyssinians armed with Greek-fire-tubes, who, however, quitted him soon under the pressure of famine. This at length triumphed over his last adherents. Ten thousand fighting men, and even two of the sons of the pretender (it is said, on his own advice), left the city and surrendered. Mecca being thus left without defenders, Ibn Zobair saw that ruin was inevitable. Hajjāj having promised him amnesty if he would surrender, he went to his mother Asmā, the daughter of Abu Bekr, who had reached the age of a hundred years, and asked her counsel. She answered that, if he was confident in the justice of his cause, he must die sword in hand. In embracing him for the last time, she felt the cuirass he wore and exclaimed that such a precaution was unworthy of a man resolved to die. He, therefore, took off the cuirass, and, when the Omayyad troops made their way into the city, attacked them furiously, notwithstanding his advanced age, and was slain. His head was cut off, and sent by Hajjāj to Damascus.
With Ibn Zobair perished the influence which the early companions of Mahomet had exercised over Islam. Medina and Mecca, though they continued to be the holy cities, had no longer their old political importance, which had already been shaken to its foundations by the murder of Othman and the subsequent troubles. Henceforward we shall find temporal interests, represented by Damascus, predominating over those of religion, and the centre of Islam, now permanently removed beyond the limits of Arabia, more susceptible to foreign influence, and assimilating more readily their civilizing elements. Damascus, Kufa and Basra will attract the flower of all the Moslem provinces, and thus that great intellectual, literary and scientific movement, which reached its apogee under the first Abbasid Caliphs at Bagdad, steadily becomes more marked.
After the burning of the Kaʽba during the siege of Mecca by Hosain b. Nomair, Ibn Zobair had rebuilt and enlarged the house of God. It is said that he thus carried out a design of the Prophet, which he had not ventured to undertake for fear of offending the newly converted Koreishites. Hajjāj pulled down the enlargements and restored the Kaʽba to its old state. Meanwhile, the caliph committed to him the government of the Hejaz. The Medinians, whose loyalty was suspected, were treated by him with severity; not a few maulas (clients) were obliged to wear a leaden badge on their neck (Tabarī, ii. p. 854 seq.).
Thus the protracted war against Ibn Zobair was brought to an end; hence this year (71) also is called the “year of union” (jamāʽa). But the storms in Irak and Mesopotamia had not yet altogether subsided. The Qais could not leave unavenged the blood shed at Merj Rāhit. For about ten years the Syrian and Mesopotamian deserts were the scene of a series of raids, often marked by great cruelty, and which have been the subject of a great many poems. Abdalmalik had need of all his tact and energy to pacify ultimately the zealous sectaries, but the antagonism between Yemenites (Kalb and Azd) and Moḍarites (Qais and Tamīm) had been increased by these struggles, and even in the far east and the far west had fatal consequences.
When Abdalmalik, after a stay of forty days, returned from Irak to Syria, he left two Omayyad princes as his vicegerents in Kufa and Basra. Mohallab, who at the time of the battle of Bājomairā was in the field against the Azraqītes (Kharijites), and had put himself at the disposal of the caliph, had orders to carry on the war. But the two princes proved unequal to their task and did not support Mohallab sufficiently, so that the Kharijites gained more than one victory. Abdalmalik in alarm made Hajjāj governor of Irak with the most extensive powers. The troops of Kufa, 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. Then, in the year 75 (A.D. 694), at the moment when the people were assembled in the mosque for morning prayers, an unknown young man of insignificant appearance, with a veil over his face, ascended the pulpit. It seemed at first that he could not find his words. One of the audience, with a contemptuous remark, took a handful of pebbles to pelt him with. But he let them fall when Hajjāj lifted his veil and began to speak.
“Men of Kufa,” he said, “I see before me heads ripe for the sickle, and the reaper—I am he. It seems to me, as if I saw already the blood between your turbans and your shoulders. I am not one of those who can be frightened by inflated bags of skin, nor need any one think to squeeze me like a fig. 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 strongest, and I am the arrow which he shoots against you.”
At the end of this address he ordered his clerk to read the letter of the caliph. He began: “From the servant of God, Abdalmalik, Prince of the Believers, to the Moslems that are in Kufa, peace be with you.” As nobody uttered a word in reply, Hajjāj said: “Stop, boy,” and exclaimed: “The Prince of the Believers salutes you, and you do not answer his greeting! You have been but poorly taught. I will teach you afresh, unless you behave better. Read again the letter of the Prince of the Believers.” Then, as soon as he had read: “peace upon ye,” there remained not a single man in the mosque who did not respond, “and upon the Prince of the Believers be peace.” Thereupon Hajjāj ordered that every man capable of bearing arms should immediately join Mohallab in Khūzistān (Susiana), and swore that all who should be found in the town after the third day should be beheaded. This threat had its effect, and Hajjāj proceeded to Baṣra, where his presence was followed by the same results. Mohallab, reinforced by the army of Irak, at last succeeded, after a struggle of eighteen months, in subjugating the Kharijites and their caliph Qatara b. Fojāʽa, and was able at the beginning of the year 78 (A.D. 697) to return to Hajjāj at Baṣra. The latter loaded him with honours and made him governor of Khorasan, whence he directed several expeditions into Transoxiana. In the meantime Hajjāj himself had, in 695 and 696, with great difficulty suppressed Shabīb b. Yazīd at the head of the powerful tribe of Shaibān, who, himself a Kharijite, had assumed the title of Prince of the Believers, and had even succeeded in occupying Kufa. In the east the realm of Islam had been very much extended under the reign of Moawiya, when Ziyād was governor of Irak and Khorasan. Balkh and Tokhāristān, Bokhara, Samarkand and Khwarizm (modern Khiva), even Kabul and Kandahar had been subdued; but in the time of the civil war a great deal had been lost again. Now at last the task of recovering the lost districts could be resumed. When, in 697, Hajjāj gave the government of Khorasan to Mohallab, he committed that of Sijistān (Seistan) to Obaidallah b. Abi Bakra, a cousin of Ziyād. This prefect allowed himself to be enticed by Zanbīl, prince of Zabulistan, to penetrate into the country far from his base, and escaped narrowly, not without severe losses. The command over Sijistān was now given to Abdarrahman b. Ashʽath, a descendant of the old royal family of Kinda, and a numerous army was entrusted to him, so magnificently equipped that it was called “the peacock army.” Not long after his arrival in Sijistān, Ibn Ashʽath, exasperated by the masterful tone of Hajjāj, the plebeian, towards himself, the high-born, decided to revolt. The soldiers of Irak, who did not love the governor, and disliked the prospect of a long and difficult war far from home, eagerly accepted the proposition of returning to Irak, and even proclaimed the dethronement of Abdalmalik, in favour of Ibn Ashʽath. The new pretender entered Fārs and Ahwāz (Susiana), and it was in this last province near Tostar (Shuster) that Hajjāj came up with him, after receiving from Syria the reinforcements which he had demanded in all haste from the caliph. Ibn Ashʽath drove him back to Baṣra, entered the city, and then turned his arms against Kufa, of which he took possession with aid from within. Hajjāj, afraid lest his communications with Syria should be cut off, pitched his camp at Dair Qorra, eighteen miles west from Kufa towards the desert, where Mahommed, the brother of the caliph, and Abdallah, his son, brought him fresh troops. Ibn Ashʽath encamped not far from him at Dair al-Jamājim with a far more numerous army. In great alarm Abdalmalik endeavoured to stifle the revolt by offering to dismiss Hajjāj from his post. The insurgents rejected this offer, and hostilities recommenced. At the end of three months and a half, in July 702, a decisive action took place. Victory declared for Hajjāj. Ibn Ashʽath fled to Baṣra, where he managed to collect fresh troops; but having been again beaten in a furious battle that took place at Maskin near the Dojail, he took refuge at Ahwāz, from which he was soon driven by the troops of Hajjāj under ʽOmāra b. Tamīm. The rebel then retired to Sijistān, and afterwards sought an asylum with the king of Kabul. His partisans fled before ʽOmāra’s army and penetrated into Khorasan, where they were disarmed by the governor Yazīd, son of the celebrated Mohallab, who had died in the year 701. The pretender was betrayed by the king of Kabul and killed himself. His head was sent to Hajjāj and then to Damascus. This happened in the year 703 or 704. Yazid b. Mohallab was soon after deprived of the government of Khorasan, accusing him of partiality towards the rebels of Yemenite extraction. He appointed in his stead first his brother Mofaḍḍal b. Mohallab, and nine months after Qotaiba b. Moslim, who was destined in a later period to extend the sway of Islam in the east as far as China.
The struggle of Ibn Ashʽath was primarily a contest for hegemony between Irak and Syria. The proud Arabic lords could not acquiesce in paying to a plebeian like Hajjāj, invested with absolute power by the caliph, the strict obedience he required. They considered it further as an injustice that the Syrian soldiers received higher pay than those of Irak. This is apparent from the fact that one of the conditions of peace proposed by Abdalmalik before the battle of Dair al-Jamājim had been that henceforth the Irakian troops should be paid equally with the Syrian. Moreover, Hajjāj, in order tothe regular revenue from taxation, had been obliged to introduce stringent regulations, and had compelled a great many villagers who had migrated to the cities to return to their villages. Several of these were faqīhs, students of Koranic science and law, and all these seconded Ibn Ashʽath with all their might. But, as Wellhausen has shown, it is not correct to consider the contest as a reaction of the maula’s (Persian Moslems) against the Arabic supremacy.
Immediately after the victories of Dair al-Jamājim and Maskin, in 702, Hajjāj, built a new residence on the Tigris, between Baṣra and Kufa, which he called Wāsit (“Middle”). There his Syrian soldiers were not in contact with the turbulent citizens of the two capitals, and were at any moment ready to suppress any fresh outburst.
At the beginning of his reign Abdalmalik had replaced the humble mosque built by Omar on the site of the temple at Jerusalem by a magnificent dome, which was completed in the year 691. Eutychius and others pretend that he desired to substitute Jerusalem for Mecca, because Ibn Zobair had occupied the latter place, and thus the pilgrimage to the Kaʽba had become difficult for the Syrians. This is quite improbable. Abdalmalik was born and educated in Islam, and distinguished himself in his youth by piety and continence. He regarded himself as the champion of Islam and of the communion of the believers, and had among his intimates men of acknowledged devoutness such as Rajā b. Ḥaywa. The idea of interfering with the pilgrimage to the House of God at Mecca, which would have alienated from him all religious men, and thus from a political point of view would have been suicidal, cannot have entered his mind for a moment. But the glorification of Jerusalem, holy alike for Moslems, Christians and Jews, could not but exalt the glory of Islam and its rulers within and without.
As soon as the expedition to Irak against Muṣʽab had terminated, the holy war against the Greeks was renewed. The operations in Asia Minor and Armenia were entrusted to Mahommed b. Merwan, the caliph’s brother, who was appointed governor of Mesopotamia and Armenia, and in 692 beat the army of Justinian II. near Sebaste in Cilicia. From this time forth the Moslems made yearly raids, the chief advantage of which was that they kept the Syrian and Mesopotamian Arabs in continual military exercise. After the victorious march of Okba (Oqba) b. Nāfiʽ through north Africa and the foundation of Kairawan, his successor Qais b. Zohair had been obliged to retreat to Barca (Cyrenaica). In the year 696 Abdalmalik sent Hassān b. Noʽmān into Africa at the head of a numerous army. He retook Kairawan, swept the coast as far as Carthage, which he sacked, expelling the Greek garrisons from all the fortified places; he then turned his arms against the Berbers, who, commanded by the Kāhina (Diviner), as the Arabs called their queen, beat him so completely that he was compelled to retreat to Barca. Five years later he renewed the war, defeated and killed the Kāhina, and subdued the Berbers, who henceforward remained faithful to the Arabs. Hassān continued to be governor of Kairawan till after the death of Abdalmalik.
In the meantime Abdalmalik reconstituted the administration of the empire on Arabic principles. Up to the year 693 the Moslems had no special coinage of their own, and chiefly used Byzantine and Persian money, either imported or struck by themselves. Moawiya, indeed, had struck dinars and dirhems with a Moslem inscription, but his subjects would not accept them as there was no cross upon them. Abdalmalik instituted a purely Islamitic coinage. If we may believe Theophanes, who says that Justinian II. refused to receive these coins in payment of the tribute and therefore declared the treaty at an end, we must put the beginning of the coinage at least two years earlier. Hajjāj coined silver dirhems at Kufa in 694. A still greater innovation was that Arabic became the official language of the state. In the conquered countries till then, not only had the Greek and Persian administration been preserved, but Greek remained the official language in the western, Persian in the eastern provinces. All officials were now compelled to know Arabic and to conduct their administration in that language. To this change was due in great measure the predominance of Arabic throughout the empire. Lastly, a regular post service was instituted from Damascus to the provincial capitals, especially destined for governmental despatches. The postmasters were charged with the task of informing the caliph of all important news in their respective countries.
All the great rivals of Abdalmalik having now disappeared, he was no longer like his predecessors primus inter pares, but dominus. Under his rule the members of the Omayyad house enjoyed a greater amount of administrative control than had formerly been the case, but high office was given only to competent men. He succeeded in reconciling the sons of ʽAmr Ashdaq, and also Khālid b. Yazid, to whom he gave his own daughter in marriage. He himself had married ʽĀtika, a daughter of Yazid, a union which was in all respects a happy one. He took great care in the education of his sons, whom he destined as his successors. His brother Abdalazīz, governor of Egypt, whom Merwan had marked out as his successor, died in the year 703 or 704, and Abdalmalik chose as heirs to the empire first his son Walīd, and after him his second son Suleimān. He himself died on the 14th Shawwāl 86 (9th October 705) at the age of about sixty. His reign was one of the most stormy in the annals of Islam, but also one of the most glorious. Abdalmalik not only brought triumph to the cause of the Omayyads, but also extended and strengthened the Moslem power as a whole. He was well versed in old Arabic tradition and in the doctrine of Islam, and was passionately fond of poetry. His court was crowded with poets, whom he loaded with favours, even if they were Christians like Akhtal. In his reign flourished also the two celebrated rivals of Akhtal, Jarīr and Farazdaq.
6. Reign of Walid I.—This is the most glorious epoch in the history of Islam. In Asia Minor and Armenia, Maslama, brother of the caliph, and his generals obtained numerous successes against the Greeks. Tyana was conquered after a long siege, and a great expedition against Constantinople was in preparation. In Armenia Maslama advanced even as far as the Caucasus. In Africa, Mūsā b. Noṣair, who succeeded Hassān b. Noʽmān as governor, in a short time carried his conquests as far as Fez, Tangier and Ceuta, and one of his captains even made a descent on Sicily and plundered Syracuse. When he returned from the west to Kairawan, he made his client Ṭāriq (or Tarik) governor of Tangier and of the whole western part of Africa. Under him the chiefs who had submitted to the Moslem arms retained their authority. One of them was the Greek exarch of Tangier, Julian, who, supported by the powerful Berber tribe of Ghomēra, had long resisted and even asked for aid from Spain, but had been compelled to surrender and was left governor of Ceuta. Meanwhile in Spain, after the death of the Gothic king Witiza in the year 90 (708–709), anarchy arose, which was terminated by the council of noblemen at Toledo electing Roderic, the powerful duke of Baetica, to be his successor in the fifth year of Walid. The eldest son of Witiza then applied to Julian, and asked the aid of the Arabs for the recovery of his father’s throne. Ṭāriq forwarded the embassy to Kairawan, and Mūsā asked the caliph’s permission to send an expedition into Spain. Authorized by Mūsā, Ṭāriq now sent, in Ramadan 91 (July 710), 500 Berbers under the command of Ṭārif to reconnoitre the country. This expedition, seconded by partisans of Witiza, was successful. In the beginning of A.D. 711 Roderic had been summoned to the north on account of an invasion of Navarra by the Franks, caused, it is said, by the conspirators. Ṭāriq, thus certain of meeting no serious opposition to his landing, passed into Spain himself with an army composed mainly of Berbers of the Ghomēra tribe under the guidance of Julian. The spot where he landed thence acquired the name of Jebel Ṭāriq, “Mountain of Ṭāriq,” afterwards corrupted into Gibraltar. Having made himself master of Algeçiras and thereby secured his communication with Africa, Ṭāriq set out at once in the direction of Cordova. At the news of the invasion Roderic hastened back and led a numerous army against the combined forces of Ṭāriq and the partisans of Witiza. A fierce battle took place in the plain of Barbata on the little river of Guadaleta (north of Medina Sidonia), in which Roderic was completely routed. The spoils of the victors were immense, especially in horses, but the king himself had disappeared. Fearing lest he should have escaped to Toledo and should there fit out another army, the partisans of Witiza insisted that Ṭāriq should march immediately against the capital. Ṭāriq complied with their wishes, notwithstanding the express command of Mūsā b. Nosair that he should not venture too far into the country, and the protests of Julian. Having made himself master of Ecija and having despatched a detachment under Moghīth against Cordova, Ṭāriq took Mentesa (Villanueva de la Fuente) and marched upon Toledo, which he soon conquered. At the same time Moghīth took Cordova. But, notwithstanding these successes, Ṭāriq knew that his situation was most critical. King Roderic, who had escaped to Lusitania, and the noble Goths, who had fled from Toledo, would certainly not be slow in making efforts to regain what they had lost. He therefore sent a message in all haste to Mūsā, entreating him to come speedily. Mūsā, though angered by the disobedience of Ṭāriq, hastened to the rescue and embarked in April 712 with 18,000 men, among them many noble Arabs, and began, advised by Julian, a methodical campaign, with the purpose of establishing and securing a line of communication between the sea and Toledo. After having taken Seville, Carmona and Merida, he marched from the latter place by the Via Romana to Salamanca, after having ordered Ṭāriq to rejoin him in order to encounter king Roderic. Not far from Tamames the king was defeated and killed. King Alphonso the Great found his tombstone at Viseo with the inscription, “Hic requiescit Rodericus rex Gothorum.” After this battle Mūsā reconquered Toledo, which, after the departure of Ṭāriq, had recovered its independence, and entered the capital in triumph. Already, before the expedition to Salamanca, he had perceived that the sons of Witiza had neither military nor political ability. He therefore proclaimed the caliph of Damascus as sole ruler of the whole peninsula. The Gothic princes must content themselves with honours and apanages, in which they readily acquiesced. In the same year 93 (A.D. 712) Mūsā struck Moslem coins with Latin inscriptions. Mūsā then continued the subjugation of Spain, till Walid recalled him to Damascus. He obeyed after having appointed his son Abdalazīz governor of Andalos (Andalusia), as the Arabs named the peninsula, and assigned Seville as his residence. Abdalazīz consolidated his power by marrying the widow of the late king Roderic. Mūsā left Spain about August 714, and reached Damascus shortly before the death of Walid. Notwithstanding the immense booty he brought, he did not receive his due reward. Accused of peculation, he was threatened with imprisonment unless he paid a fine of 100,000 pieces of gold. The old man—he was born in the year 640—was released by Yazid b. Mohallab, the then mighty favourite of the caliph Suleiman, but died in the same year 716 on his way to Mecca. His son Abdalazīz was an excellent ruler, who did much for the consolidation of the new conquests, but he reigned only one year and eleven months, when he was murdered. His death has been falsely imputed by some historians to the caliph Suleiman.
In the East the Moslem armies gained the most astonishing successes. In the course of a few years Qotaiba b. Moslim conquered Paikend, Bokhara, Samarkand, Khwarizm (mod. Khiva), Ferghana and Shāsh (Tashkent), and even Kashgar on the frontiers of China. Meanwhile Mahommed b. Qāsim invaded Makran, took Daibol, passed the Indus, and marched, after having beaten the Indian king Daher, through Sind upon Multān, which he conquered and whence he carried off an immense booty.
Walid was the first caliph, born and trained as prince, who felt the majesty of the imamate and wished it to be felt by his subjects. He desired to augment the splendours of Islam and its sovereign, as Abdalmalik had already done by building the dome of Jerusalem. In the time of the conquest of Damascus, one half of the great church had been made a mosque, while the remaining half had been left to the Christians. Walid annexed this part, indemnifying the Christians elsewhere, and restored the whole building sumptuously and magnificently. In his time many fine palaces and beautiful villas were built in Syria, and Becker’s conjecture seems not altogether improbable, that from this period dates the palace of Mashetta, the façade of which is now in the Kaiser Friedrich Museum at Berlin, as perhaps also the country houses discovered by Musil in the land of Moab. Walid also caused the mosque of Medina to be enlarged. For this purpose, the apartments of the Prophet and his wives were demolished, which at first caused much discontent in Medina, some crying out that thereby a verse of the Book of God (S. 49, v. 4) was cancelled. With this exception, the citizens of Medina had nothing to complain of. The vicegerent of Abdalmalik had treated them harshly. Walid immediately on his accession appointed as governor of Hejaz his cousin Omar b. Abdalazīz, who was received there with joy, his devoutness and gentle character being well known. But the reputation of Omar attracted to the two holy cities a great number of the inhabitants of Irak, who had been deeply involved in the rebellion of Ibn Ashʽath. Hajjāj, however, was not the man to allow the formation of a fresh nucleus of sedition, and persuaded the caliph to dismiss Omar in the year 712, and appoint Othman b. Ḥayyān at Medina and Khālid al-Qasrī at Mecca. These two prefects compelled the refugees to return to Irak, where many of them were severely treated and even put to death by Hajjāj.
Few people have been so slandered as this great viceroy of the Orient. In reality he was a man of extraordinary ability, and accomplished the task committed to him with vigour and energy. To his unflagging constancy was due the suppression of the dangerous rebellion of Ibn Ashʽath. After the restoration of peace his capacity for organization was displayed in all directions. The draining and tilling of submerged or uncultivated land on a large scale, the promotion of agriculture in every way, in particular by the digging of channels, and the regulation of the system of taxation, were carried out on his initiative. He showed the utmost wisdom in the selection of his lieutenants. The fear of his name was so great that even in the desert there was security for life and property, and his brilliant military successes were unquestionably due in a great measure to the care which he bestowed on equipment and commissariat. The heavy expenses entailed thereby were largely met by the booty which he won. Hajjāj was a sincere Moslem; this, however, did not prevent him from attacking Ibn Zobair in the Holy City, nor again from punishing rebels, though they bore the name of holy men. He enjoyed the entire confidence of Abdalmalīk with Walid, but Suleiman, the appointed successor, regarded him with disfavour. Yazid b. Mohallab, whom he had recalled from Khorasan, and imprisoned, had escaped and put himself under the protection of Suleiman, who made himself surety for the fine to which Yazid had been condemned. Hajjāj foreboded evil, and prayed eagerly that he might die before Walid. His death took place about the end of Ramadan 95 (June or July 714).
7. Reign of Suleiman (Solaiman).—Suleiman had early missed the throne. Walid wished to have his son Abdalazīz chosen as his successor, and had offered Suleiman a large sum of money to induce him to surrender his rights. Walid went still further and sent letters to the governors of all the provinces, calling on them to take the oath of allegiance to his son. None, except Hajjāj and his two generals Qotaiba b. Moslim and Mahommed b. Qàsim, consented thus to set at naught the order of succession established by Abdalmalik; and Suleiman succeeded without difficulty on the death of his brother Jomāda II. 96 (February 715). We can easily conceive the hatred felt by Suleiman for Hajjāj and for all that belonged to him. Hajjāj himself was dead; but Suleiman poured out his wrath on his family and his officers. The governors of Medina and Mecca were dismissed; Mahommed b. Qasim, the conqueror of India, cousin of Hajjāj, was dismissed from his post and outlawed. Qotaiba b. Moslim, the powerful governor of Khorasan, tried to anticipate the caliph by a revolt, but a conspiracy was formed against him, which ended in his murder. Some historians say that he was falsely accused of rebellion.
Yazid b. Mohallab, the enemy of, was made governor of Irak. His arrival was hailed with joy, especially by the Azd, to whom his family belonged, and the other Yemenite tribes. Yazid discovered soon that the system of taxation as regulated by Hajjāj could not be altered without serious danger to the finances of the empire, and that he could not afford the expenses which his prodigal manner of life involved. He therefore asked the caliph to give him the governorship of Khorasan also, and took his residence in Merv, where he was free from control. On his return to Khorasan he set on foot a series of new expeditions against Jorjān and Tabaristān, with only partial success. He sent, however, to the caliph an exaggerated account of his victories and the booty he had made. He had cause to repent this later.
Walid had, in the last years of his reign, made preparations for a great expedition against Constantinople. Suleiman carried them on with energy, and as early as the autumn of A.D. 715 Maslama invaded Asia Minor at the head of a numerous army, whilst a well-equipped fleet under Omar b. Hobaira sailed out to second him. It is said that Suleiman was firmly persuaded that Constantinople would be conquered during his reign, in accordance with a Sibylline prophecy which said that the city would be subdued by a caliph bearing the name of a prophet, he himself being the first to fulfil this condition. Moreover, the Byzantine empire was in these years disturbed by internal troubles. The first year of the expedition was not unsuccessful. The siege of Amorium in Phrygia was broken up, but Pergamum and Sardis were taken. On the 25th of August 716 the blockade of Constantinople began from the land side, and two weeks later from the sea side. A few months before, Leo the Isaurian had ascended the throne and prepared the city for the siege. This lasted about a year. The besieged were hard pressed, but the besiegers suffered by the severe winter, and were at last obliged to raise the siege. Maslama brought back the rest of his army in a pitiful state, while the fleet, on its return, was partly destroyed by a violent tempest. The Moslems regard this failure as one of the great evils that have befallen the human race, and one which retarded the progress of the world for ages, the other calamity being the defeat in the battle of Tours by Charles Martel.
Maslama was still on his way back when Suleiman died at Dābiq in northern Syria, which was the base of the expeditions into Asia Minor. He seems not to have had the firmness of character nor the frugality of Walid; but he was very severe against the looseness of manners that reigned at Medina, and was highly religious. Rajā b. Haywa, renowned for his piety, whose influence began under Abdalmalik and increased under Walid, was his constant adviser and even determined him to designate as his successor his devout cousin Omar b. Abdalazīz. Suleiman was kind towards the Alids and was visited by several of them, amongst others by Abu Hāshim, the son of Mahommed b. al Ḥanafīya, who after his father’s death had become the secret Imam (head) of the Shiʽites. On his way back to Hejaz this man visited the family of Abdallah b. ʽAbbās, which resided at Ḥomaima, a place situated in the vicinity of ʽAmmān, and died there, after having imparted to Mahommed b. Ali b. Abdallah b. Abbas the names of the chiefs of the Shiʽa in Irak and Khorasan, and disclosed his way of corresponding with them. From that time the Abbasids began their machinations against the Omayyads in the name of the family of the Prophet, avoiding all that could cause suspicion to the Shiʽites, but holding the strings firmly in their own hands.
8. Reign of Omar II.—Omar b. Abdalazīz did his best to imitate his grandfather Omar in all things, and especially in maintaining the simple manner of life of the early Moslems. He was, however, born in the midst of wealth; thus frugality became asceticism, and in so far as he demanded the same rigour from his relatives, he grew unjust and caused uneasiness and discontent. By paying the highest regard to integrity in the choice of his officers, and not to ability, he did not advance the interests of his subjects, as he earnestly wished to do. In the matter of taxes, though actuated by the most noble designs, he did harm to the public revenues. The principle of Islam was, that no Moslem, whatever might be his nationality, should pay any tax other than the zakāt or poor-rate (see Mahommedan Institutions). In practice, this privilege was confined to the Arabic Moslems. Omar wished to maintain the principle. The original inhabitants had been left on the conquered lands as agriculturists, on condition of paying a fixed sum yearly for each district. If one of these adopted Islam, Omar permitted him to leave his place, which had been strictly forbidden by Hajjāj in Irak and the eastern provinces, because by it many hands were withdrawn from the tilling of the ground, and those who remained were unable to pay the allotted amount. Omar’s system not only diminished the actual revenue, but largely increased in the cities the numbers of the maula’s (clients), mainly Persians, who were weary of their dependency on their Arabic lords, and demanded equal rights for themselves. Their short dominion in Kufa under Mokhtār had been suppressed, but the discontent continued. In North Africa particularly, and in Khorasan the effect of Omar’s proclamation was that a great multitude embraced Islam. When it became necessary to impose a tribute upon the new converts, great discontent arose, which largely increased the number of those who followed the Shiʽite preachers of revolt. Conversion to Islam was promoted by the severe regulations which Omar introduced for the non-believers, such as Christians and Jews. It was he who issued those humiliating rescripts, which are commonly but unjustly attributed to Omar I. But he forbade extortion and suppressed more than one illegal impost. He endeavoured above all to procure justice for all his subjects. Complaints against oppression found in him a ready listener, and many unlawfully acquired possessions were restored to the legal owners, for instance, to the descendants of Ali and Talḥa. Even to the Kharijites he contrived to give satisfaction, as far as possible. In all these matters he followed the guidance of divines and devotees, in whose congenial company he delighted. It is, therefore, not to be wondered at that these men saw in Omar the ideal of a prince, and that in Moslem history he has acquired the reputation of a saint.
After the failure of the siege of Constantinople, the advanced posts in Asia Minor were withdrawn, but the raids were continued regularly. It has been said that it was Omar’s intention to give up his Spanish conquests, but the facts argue the contrary. The governor, named by Omar, Samḥ b. Abdallah, even crossed the Pyrenees and took possession of Narbonne; but he was beaten and killed at Toulouse in July 720. But Omar did all he could to prevent the degradation of the Holy War, which, instead of being the ultimate expedient for the propagation of Islam, if all other means had failed, had often degenerated into mere pillaging expeditions against peaceful nations.
9. Reign of Yazid II.—Omar’s reign was as short as that of his predecessor. He died on the 24th of Rajab 101 (A.D. 9th February 720). Yazid II., son of Abdalmalik and, by his mother ʽĀtika, grandson of Yazid I., ascended the throne without opposition. He had at once, however, to put down a dangerous rebellion. Yazid b. Mohallab had returned to Irak, after the conquest of Jorjān, when Suleiman was still alive. Shortly after, Adī b. Artāt, whom Omar II. had appointed governor, arrived, arrested Yazid, and sent him to Omar, who called him to account for the money he had mentioned in his letter to Suleiman, and imprisoned him when he pretended not to be able to pay the amount. Yazid II. had personal grounds 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 as Walid II., was niece to the celebrated Ḥajjāj, whose family had been ill-treated by the son of Mohallab, when he was governor of Irak under Suleiman. Aware that Yazid b. Abdalmalik, on ascending the throne, would spare neither him nor his family, Yazid b. Mohallab had succeeded in escaping to Basra, the home of his family, where his own tribe the Azd was predominant. Meanwhile ʽAdī b. Artāt had all the brothers of Yazid and other members of the family of Mohallab arrested, and tried to prevent Yazid from entering the city. But ʽAdi was too scrupulous to employ the public money for raising the pay of his soldiers, whilst Yazid promised mountains of gold. Yazid stormed the castle and took ʽAdī prisoner, the public treasury fell into his hands, and he employed the money to pay his troops largely and to raise fresh ones. A pardon obtained for him from the caliph came too late; he had already gone too far. He now proclaimed a Holy War against the Syrians, whom he declared to be worse enemies of Islam than even the Turks and the Dailam. Notwithstanding the warnings of the aged Hasan al-Basrī, the friend of Omar II., the religious people, took the part of Yazid, and were followed by the maulas. Though the number of his adherents thus increased enormously, their military value was small. Ahwāz (Khūzistān), Fārs and Kirman were easily subdued, but in Khorasan the Azd could not prevail over the Tamīm, who were loyal to the caliph. As the rebellion threatened to spread far and wide, Yazid II. was obliged to appeal to his brother, the celebrated Maslama. With the approach of the Syrians, Yazid b. Mohallab tried to forestall them at Kufa. He took his way over Wāsit, which he mastered—the Syrian garrison seems to have been withdrawn in the days of Omar II.—but, before he could get hold of Kufa, the Syrian troops arrived. The meeting took place at ʽAqr in the vicinity of Babel, and Yazid was completely defeated and fell in the battle. His brothers and sons fled to Basra; thence they went by sea to Kirman and then to Kandabīl in India; but they were pursued relentlessly and slain with only two exceptions by the officers of Maslama. The possessions of the Mohallabites were confiscated.
Maslama was rewarded with the governorship of Irak and Khorasan, but was soon replaced by Omar b. Hobaira, who under Omar II. had been governor of Mesopotamia. He belonged to the tribe of Qais, and was very severe against the Azd and other Yemenite tribes, who had more or less favoured the part of Yazid b. Mohallab. In these years the antagonism between Qais (Moḍar) and Yemenites became more and more acute, especially in Khorasan. The real cause of the dismissal of Maslama was, that he did not send the revenue-quota to Damascus. Omar b. Hobaira, to supply the deficiency, ordered the prefect of Khorasan, Saʽīd–al-Ḥarashī, to take tribute from the Sogdians in Transoxiana, who had embraced Islam on the promise of Omar II. The Sogdians raised a revolt in Ferghana, but were subdued by Saʽīd and obliged to pay. A still more questionable measure of Ibn Hobaira was his ordering the successor of Saʽīd Harashī to extort large sums of money from several of the most respectable Khorasanians. The discontent roused thereby became one of the principal causes of the fall of the Omayyads.
In Africa serious troubles arose from the same cause. Yazid b. Abi Moslim, who had been at the head of the financial department in Irak under Ḥajjāj, and had been made governor of Africa by Yazid II., issued orders that the villagers who, having adopted Islam, were freed from tribute according to the promise of Omar II., and had left their villages for the towns, should return to their domiciles and pay the same tribute as before their conversion. The Berbers rose in revolt, slaughtered the unfortunate governor, and put in his place the former governor Mahommed b. Yazid. The caliph at first ratified this choice, but soon after dismissed Mahommed from his post, and replaced him by Bishr b. Ṣafwān, who under Hisham made an expedition against Sicily.
Yazid II. was by natural disposition the opposite of his predecessor. He did not feel that anxiety for the spiritual welfare of his subjects which had animated Omar II. Poetry and music, not beloved by Suleiman and condemned by Omar, were held by him in great honour. Two court-singers, Sallāma and Ḥabāba, exercised great influence, tempered only by the austerity of manners that prevailed in Syria. He was so deeply affected by the death of Ḥabāba, that Maslama entreated him not to exhibit his sorrow to the eyes of the public. He died a few days later, on the 26th of January 724, according to the chroniclers from grief for her loss. As his successor he had appointed in the first place his brother Hisham, and after him his own son Walid.
10. Reign of Hisham.—Hisham was a wise and able prince and an enemy of luxury, not an idealist like Omar II., nor a worldling like Yazid II., but more like his father Abdalmalik, devoting all his energy to the pacification of the interior, and to extending and consolidating the empire of Islam. But the discontent, which had been sown under his predecessors, had now developed to such an extent that he could not suppress it in detail. His first care was to put an end to the tyrannical rule of the Qaisites (Moḍarites) in Irak and Khorasan by dismissing Omar b. Hobaira and appointing in his place Khālid al-Qasrī. This very able man, who under Hajjāj had been prefect of Mecca, belonged properly neither to the Qaisites nor to the Yemenites, but as he took the place of Ibn Hobaira and dismissed his partisans from their posts, the former considered him as their adversary, the latter as their benefactor. After his death, in particular, the Yemenites celebrated him as their chief, and assigned as the reason for their revolt the injuries which he suffered. Khālid himself assuredly did not intend it. He was a loyal servant of the dynasty, and remained such even after receiving very harsh treatment from them. For fifteen years Khālid governed the eastern half of the empire, and continued to maintain peace with only few exceptions throughout. He did much for the reclaiming and improving of lands in Irak, in which the caliph himself and several princes took an active part. The great revenues obtained thereby naturally caused much jealousy. Khālid lived on a very rich scale and was extraordinarily liberal, and he was charged with having carried out all his improvements for his own interests, and upbraided for selling the corn of his estates only when the prices were high. To these charges were added the accusation that he was too tolerant to Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians. As his mother professed the Christian religion, he was accused of infidelity. At last a conspiracy, into which the principal engineer of Khālid, Hassān the Nabataean, had been drawn, succeeded in inciting Hisham against Khālid. They told him that Khālid had used disrespectful terms in speaking of the caliph, and that he had appropriated revenues belonging to the state. The latter imputation especially influenced Hisham, who was very parsimonious. When the dismissal of Khālid had been resolved upon, Yūsuf b. Omar, his appointed successor, was sent secretly to Kufa, where he seized on Khālid unawares. For eighteen months Khālid remained in prison. But when he declined even under torture to confess that he had been guilty of extensive peculation, he was finally released. He settled at Damascus and made a noble return for his injuries by taking an active part in the war against the Greeks. In the summer of A.D. 740, while he was in Asia Minor, a great fire broke out in Damascus, the guilt of which was attributed to Khālid. Though it soon appeared that the imputation was false, Khālid, on his return, was furious, and uttered very offensive words against the caliph. Hisham, however, would not again punish his old servant; on the contrary, he seems to have regarded his indignation as a proof of innocence.
The successor of Khālid in Irak had not long been in office when Zaid b. Ali, grandson of Hosain b. Ali, who had come to Kufa for a lawsuit, was persuaded by the chiefs of the Shiʽa to organize a revolt. He succeeded in so far that 15,000 Kufians swore to fight with him for the maintenance of the commandments of the Book of God and the Sunna (orthodox tradition) of his Prophet, the discomfiture of the tyrants, the redress of injury, and last, not least, the vindication of the family of the Prophet as the rightful caliphs. The revolt broke out on the 6th of January 740. Unfortunately for Zaid he had to do with the same Kufians whose fickleness had already been fatal to his family. He was deserted by his troops and slain. His body was crucified in Kufa, his head sent to Damascus and thence to Medina. His son Yahyā, still a youth, fled to Balkh in Khorasan, but was discovered at last and hunted down, till he fell sword in hand under Walid II. Abu Moslim, the founder of the Abbasid dynasty, proclaimed himself his avenger, and on that occasion adopted the black garments, which remained the distinctive colour of the dynasty.
In Khorasan also there were very serious disturbances. The Sogdians, though subdued by Saʽīd al Ḥarashī, were not appeased, but implored the assistance of the Turks, who had long been contending earnestly against the Arabs for the dominion of Transoxiana. They found besides a most valuable ally in Ḥārith b. Soraij, a distinguished captain of the Arabic tribe of Tamīm, who, with many pious Moslems, was scandalized by the government’s perfidy in regard to the new converts. Ḥārith put himself at the head of all the malcontents, and raised the black flag, in compliance with a Sibylline prophecy, holding that the man with the black flag (the Prophet’s flag) would put an end to the tyranny, and be the precursor of the Mahdi. The government troops suffered more than one defeat, but in the last month of the year 118 (A.D. 736) the governor Asad al-Qasrī, the brother of Khālid, after having defeated Ḥārith, gained a brilliant victory over the Turks, which finally caused them to retreat. Asad died almost simultaneously with the dismissal of Khālid. Hisham then separated Khorasan from Irak and chose as governor of the former Naṣr b. Sayyār, a valiant soldier who had grown grey in war, and who, besides all his other capacities, was an excellent poet. Naṣr instituted a system of taxation, which, if it had been introduced earlier, would perhaps have saved the Arabic domination. It was that which later on was generally adopted, viz. that all possessors of conquered lands (i.e. nearly the whole empire except Arabia), whether Moslems or not, should pay a fixed tax, the latter in addition to pay a poll-tax, from which they were relieved on conversion to Islam. During the reign of Hisham, Naṣr made a successful expedition against Ḥārith and the Turks. The propaganda of the Shiʽa by the Abbasids was continued in these years with great zeal.
In India several provinces which had been converted to Islam under the Caliphate of Omar II. declared themselves independent, because the promise of equal rights for all Moslems was not kept under the reign of his successors. This led to the evacuation of the eastern part of India (called Hind by the Arabs, Sind being the name of the western part), and to the founding of the strong cities of Maḥfūẓa and Manṣūra for the purpose of controlling the land.
In the north and north-west of the empire there were no internal disorders, but the Moslems had hard work to maintain themselves against the Alans and the Khazars. In the year 112 (A.D. 730) they suffered a severe defeat, in which the general Jarrāh perished. But the illustrious Maslama b. Abdalmalik, and Merwan b. Mahommed (afterwards caliph), governor of Armenia and Azerbaijan (Adherbaijan), succeeded in repelling the Khazars, imposing peace on the petty princes of the eastern Caucasus, and consolidating the Arab power in that quarter. The war against the Byzantines was continued with energy during the whole of Hisham’s reign. Moawiya, the son of Hisham, whose descendants reigned later in Spain, was in command till 118 (A.D. 736), when he met his death accidentally in Asia Minor by a fall from his horse. After his death, Suleiman, another son of the caliph, had the supreme command. Both were eager and valiant warriors. But the hero of all the battles was Abdallah b. Hosain, surnamed al-Battāl (the brave). He has been the subject of many romantic tales. Tabarī tells how he took the emperor Constantine prisoner in the year 114 (A.D. 732; but Constantine V. Copronymus only began to reign in 740 or 741 A.D.); another Arabic author places this event in the year 122, adding that al-Battāl, having defeated the Greeks, was attacked and slain in returning with his captives. The Greek historians say nothing about Constantine having been made prisoner. It is probable that the Arabs took another Greek soldier for the prince. The victories of the Moslems had no lasting results. During the troubles that began in the reign of Walid II., the Greeks reconquered Marash (Germanicia), Malatia (Malatiyeh) and Erzerum (Theodosiopolis).
In Spain the attention of the Moslems was principally turned to avenge the defeat of Samḥ beyond the Pyrenees. As early as the second year of the reign of Hisham, ʽAnbasa, the governor of Spain, crossed the Pyrenees, and pushed on military operations vigorously. Carcassonne and Nîmes were taken, Autun sacked. The death of ʽAnbasa in A.D. 725 and internal troubles put a stop to further hostilities. The Berbers were the chief contingent of the Moslem troops, but were treated by their Arab masters as inferior people. They began to resent this, and one of their chiefs, Munisa (Munuza), made himself independent in the north and allied himself with Odo, king of Aquitaine, who gave him his daughter in marriage. In the year 113 Abdarrahman b. Abdallah subdued Munisa, crossed the mountains and penetrated into Gascony by the valley of Roncesvalles. The Moslems beat Odo, gained possession of Bordeaux, and overran the whole of southern Gaul nearly as far as the Loire. But in October 732 their march was checked between Tours and Poitiers by Charles Martel and after some days of skirmishing a fierce but indecisive battle was fought. Abdarrahman was among the slain and the Moslems retreated hastily in the night, leaving their camp to the Franks. They were, however, not yet discouraged. In 739 the new governor of Spain, Oqba (Aucupa) b. Hajjāj, a man of high qualities, re-entered Gaul and pushed forward his raids as far as Lyons, but the Franks again drove back the Arabs as far as Narbonne. Thenceforth the continual revolts of the Berbers in Africa, and the internal troubles which disturbed Spain until the reign of Abdarrahman I., effectually checked the ambition of the Moslems.
In Africa the hand of government pressed heavily. The Berbers, though they had pledged themselves to Islam and had furnished the latest contingents for the Holy War, were treated as tributary serfs, notwithstanding the promises given by Omar II. The Kharijites, of whom a great many had emigrated to Africa, found them eager listeners. Still, they could not believe that it was according to the will of the caliph that they  the meeting with the army of the insurgents took place (A.D. 740). Kolthūm was beaten and killed; Balj b. Bishr led the rest of the Syrian army to Ceuta, and thence, near the end of 741, to Spain, where they aided in the suppression of the dangerous revolt of the peninsular Berbers. Balj died in 742. A year later the governor, Abuʽl-Khaṭṭār, assigned to his troops for settlement divers countries belonging to the public domain. An effort of the African Berbers to make themselves masters of Kairawan failed, their army being utterly defeated by the governor Ḥanẓala.thus treated, until a certain number of their chiefs went as a deputation to Hisham, but failed to obtain an audience. Thereupon a fierce insurrection broke out, against which the governor of Africa was powerless. Hisham at once sent an army of more than 30,000 men, under the command of Kolthum al-Qoshairī, and Balj b. Bishr. Not far from the river Sabu in Algeria,
Hisham died in February 743, after a reign of twenty years. He had not been wanting in energy and ability, and kept the reins of the government in his own hands. He was a correct Moslem and tolerant towards Christians and Jews. His financial administration was sound and he guarded against any misuse of the revenues of the state. But he was not popular. His residence was at Roṣāfa on the border of the desert, and he rarely admitted visitors into his presence; as a rule they were received by his chamberlain Abrash. Hisham tried to keep himself free from and above the rival parties, but as his vicegerents were inexorable in the exaction of tribute, the Qaisites against the Yemenites, the Yemenites against the Qaisites, both parties alternately had reason to complain, whilst the non-Arabic Moslems suffered under the pressure and were dissatisfied. He caused a large extent of land to be brought into cultivation, and many public works to be executed, and he was accused of overburdening his subjects for these purposes. Therefore, Yazid III. (as also the Abbasids) on taking office undertook to abstain from spending money on building and digging. The principle that a well-filled treasury is the basis of a prosperous government was pushed by him too far. Notwithstanding his activity and his devotion to the management of affairs, 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 but the history of the fall of the Omayyads.
11. Reign of Walid II.—Walid II. was a handsome man, possessed of extraordinary physical strength, and a distinguished poet. But Hisham, to whom he was successor-designate, foolishly kept him in the background, and even made earnest efforts to get his own son Maslama acknowledged as his successor. Walid therefore retired to the country, and passed his time there in hunting, cultivating poetry, music and the like, waiting with impatience for the death of Hisham and planning vengeance on all those whom he suspected of having opposed him. His first public action was to increase the pay of all soldiers by 10 dirhems, that of the Syrians by 20. The Omayyads who came to pay their respects to him received large donations. Many philanthropic institutions were founded. As to the family of his predecessor, he contented himself with confiscating their possessions, with the single exception of Suleiman b. Hisham, whom he had whipped and put in prison. But the Makhzūmites, who were related to Hisham by his mother, he deprived of all their power and had them tortured to death. The vicegerents of Hisham were replaced by Qaisites; Yusuf b. Omar, the governor of Irak, being a Qaisite, was not only confirmed in his office, but received with it the supreme command of Khorasan. He made use of it immediately by ordering Naṣr b. Sayyār to collect a rich present of horses, falcons, musical instruments, golden and silver vessels and to offer it to the caliph in person, but before the present was ready the news came that Walid had been murdered.
It is not certain that Walid also suspected Khālid al-Qasrī of having intrigued against him. But Yusuf b. Omar did not rest until he had his old enemy in his power. It is said that he guaranteed Walid a large sum of money, which he hoped to extort from Khālid. This unfortunate man died under torture, which he bore with fortitude, in Muharram 126 (November 743).
Walid designated his two sons as heirs to the Caliphate. These were still under age and were not the children of a freeborn, noble mother. Both circumstances, according to the then prevailing notions, made them unfit for the imamate. Moreover, it was an affront, in particular, for the sons of Walid I., who already had considered the nomination of Yazid II. as a slight to themselves. A conspiracy arose, headed by Yazid b. Walid I., and joined by the majority of the Merwanid princes and many Kalbites and other Yemenites who regarded the ill-treatment of Khālid al-Qasrī as an insult to themselves. Various stories were circulated about the looseness of Walid’s manner of life; Yazid accused him of irreligion, and, by representing himself as a devout and God-fearing man, won over the pious Moslems. The conspirators met with slight opposition. A great many troops had been detached by Hisham to Africa and other provinces, the caliph himself was in one of his country places; the prefect of Damascus also was absent. Without difficulty, Yazid made himself master of Damascus, and immediately sent his cousin Abdalazīz with 2000 men against Walid, who had not more than 200 fighting men about him. A few men hastened to the rescue, among others ʽAbbās b. Walid with his sons and followers. Abdalazīz interrupted his march, took him prisoner and compelled him to take the oath of allegiance to his brother Yazid. Walid’s small body of soldiers was soon overpowered. After a valiant combat, the caliph retired to one of his apartments and sat with the Koran on his knee, in order to die just as Othman had died. He was killed on the 17th of April 744. His head was taken to Damascus and carried about the city at the end of a spear.
On the news of the murder of the caliph, the citizens of Ḥoms (Emesa) put at their head Abu Mahommed as-Sofiānī, a grandson of Yazid I., and marched against Damascus. They were beaten by Suleimān b. Hishām at a place called Solaimānīa, 12 m. from the capital. Abu Mahommed was taken prisoner and shut up with several of his brethren and cousins in the Khadrā, the old palace of Moawiya, together with the two sons of Walid II. One or two risings in Palestine were easily suppressed. But the reigning family had committed suicide. Their unity was broken. The holiness of their Caliphate, their legitimate authority, had been trifled with; the hatred of the days of Merj Rāhiṭ had been revived. The orthodox faith also, whose strong representative and defender had hitherto been the caliph, was shaken by the fact that Yazid III. belonged to the sect of the Qadaris who rejected the doctrine of predestination. The disorganization of the empire was at hand.
12. Reign of Yazid III.—Yazid III., on his accession, made a fine speech, in which he promised to do all that could be expected from a good and wise ruler, even offering to make place immediately for the man whom his subjects should find better qualified for the Caliphate than himself. He cancelled, however, the increase of the pay granted by Walid and thus earned the nickname of the Nāqiṣ (diminisher). As he owed his position to the aid of the Kalbites, he chose his officers from among them. The governorship of Irak was confided to a Kalbite, Manṣūr b. Jomhūr, a hot-headed and unscrupulous man. Yūsuf b. Omar was unable to offer resistance, and was ultimately taken and confined in the Khadrā. Manṣūr had hardly been three months in office when Yazid replaced him by Abdallah, son of Omar II. The distant provinces, with the exception of Sind and Sijistan, renounced the authority of the new caliph. In Africa Abdarrahman b. Habīb, a descendant of the famous ʽOqba b. Nāfīʽ, was almost independent. In Spain every amir tried to free himself from a suzerainty which appeared to him only nominal. Naṣr b. Sayyār, the governor of Khorasan, had not yet decided whether he ought to take the oath of allegiance when Yazid died, after a reign of only five months and a half, on the 12th of Dhu’l-Ḥijja A.H. 126 (25th September A.D. 744).
13. Yazid III. left his brother Ibrāhīm as his successor. He was acknowledged as caliph only in a part of Syria, and reigned no longer than two months, when he was obliged to abdicate and to submit to the authority of Merwan II.
14. Merwan II., the son of Mahommed b. Merwan and cousin of Maslama, was a man of energy, and might have revived the strength of the Omayyad dynasty, but for the general disorder which pervaded the whole empire. In 732 Hisham had entrusted to him the government of Armenia and Azerbaijan, which he held with great success till the death of Walid II. He had great military capacity and introduced important reforms. On the murder of Walid he prepared to dispute the supreme power with the new caliph, and invaded Mesopotamia. Yazid III., in alarm, offered him as the price of peace the government of this province together with Armenia and Azerbaijan. Merwan resolved to accept those conditions, and sent a deputation to Damascus, which, however, had just reached Manbij (Hierapolis) when Yazid died. Leaving his son Abdalmalik with 40,000 men in Rakka, Merwan entered Syria with 80,000 men. Suleimān b. Hishām, at the head of 120,000 men, was defeated at ʽAin al-Jarr, between Baalbek and Damascus. Merwan made many prisoners, whom he treated with the greatest mildness, granting them freedom on condition that they should take the oath of allegiance to the sons of Walid II. He then marched upon Damascus. But Suleimān b. Hishām, Yazid, the son of Khālid al-Qasri, and other chiefs, hastened to the Khadrā and killed the two princes, together with Yūsuf b. Omar. Suleiman then made himself master of the treasury and fled with the caliph Ibrāhīm to Tadmor (Palmyra). Only Abu Mahommed as-Sofiānī escaped the murderers. When Merwan entered Damascus this man testified that the sons of Walid II., who had just become adult, had named Merwan successor to the Caliphate, and was the first to greet him as Prince of the Believers. All the generals and officers followed his example and took the oath of allegiance (7th December A.D. 744). Merwan did all he could to pacify Syria, permitting the Arabs of the four provinces to choose their own prefects, and even acquiescing in the selection as prefect of Palestine of Thābit b. Noʽaim, who had behaved very treacherously towards him before, but whom he had forgiven. He did not, however, wish to reside in Damascus, but transplanted the seat of government to his own town, Harran in Mesopotamia. Suleiman b. Hisham and Ibrahim tendered their submission and were pardoned.
But the pacification was only on the surface. Many Omayyad princes considered Merwan as an upstart, his mother being a slave-girl; the Damascenes were angry because he had chosen Harran for his residence; the Kalbites felt themselves slighted, as the Qaisites predominated. Thābit b. Noʽaim revolted in Palestine, Emesa (Homs) and Tadmor were turbulent, Damascus was besieged by Yazid b. Khālid al Qasrī. Merwan, who wanted to march against Irak, was obliged to return to Syria, where he put an end to the troubles. This time Thābit b. Noʽaim had to pay for his perfidy with his life. After this new pacification, Merwan caused the Syrians to acknowledge his two sons as heirs to the Caliphate, and married them to two daughters of Hishām. All the Omayyad princes were invited to the wedding, Merwan hoping still to conciliate them. He then equipped 10,000 Syrians, and ordered them to rejoin the army of 20,000 men from Kinnesrin (Qinnasrīn) and Mesopotamia, who, under Yazid b. Omar b. Hobaira, were already on the march towards Irak. When these Syrians came to Roṣāfa (Rusafa), Suleimān b. Hishām persuaded them to proclaim himself caliph, and made himself master of Kinnesrin. From all sides Syrians flocked to his aid till he had 70,000 men under his orders. Merwan immediately ordered Ibn Hobaira to stop his march and to wait for him at Dūrīn, and marched with the main force against Suleimān, whom he utterly defeated at Khosāf in the district of Kinnesrin. Suleiman fled to Homs and thence to Tadmor and on to Kufa, leaving his brother Saʽid in Homs. The siege of this place by Merwan lasted nearly five months. After the victory the walls were demolished, and likewise those of Baalbek, Damascus, Jerusalem and other towns. Syria was utterly crushed, and therewith the bulwark of the dynasty was destroyed. Not until the summer of 128 (A.D. 746) could Merwan resume his campaign against Irak.
The governor of this province, Abdallah, the son of Omar II., was a man of small energy, whose principal care was his personal ease and comfort. An ambitious man, Abdallah b. Moawiya, a great-grandson of Ali’s brother Jaʽfar, put himself at the head of a band of Shiʽites and maulas, made himself master of Kufa and marched upon Hira, where, since Yūsuf b. Omar, the governor and the Syrian troops had resided. The rebels were defeated, and Kufa surrendered (October 744) under condition of amnesty for the insurgents and freedom for Abdallah b. Moawiya. This adventurer now went into Media (Jabal), where a great number of maulas and Shiʽites, even members of the reigning dynasty and of the Abbasid family, such as the future caliph Mansur, rejoined him. With their help he became master of a vast empire, which, however, lasted scarcely three years.
Ibn Omar did not acknowledge Merwan as caliph. For the moment Merwan could do no more than send a new governor, Ibn Saʽīd al Ḥarashī. This officer was supported only by the Qaisite troops, the Kalbites, who were numerically superior, maintaining Ibn Omar in his residence at Hira. There were many skirmishes between them, but a common danger soon forced them to suspend their hostilities. The general disorder after the death of Hisham had given to the Khawarij an opportunity of asserting their claims such as they had never had before. They belonged for the greater part to the Rabīʽa, who always stood more or less aloof from the other Arabs, and had a particular grudge against the Moḍar. Their leading tribe, the Shaibān, possessed the lands on the Tigris in the province of Mosul, and here, after the murder of Walid II., their chief proclaimed himself caliph. Reinforced by many Kharijites out of the northern provinces, he marched against Kufa. Ibn Omar and Ibn Saʽiđ al Ḥarashī tried to defend their province, but were completely defeated. Ḥarashī fled to Merwan, Ibn Omar to Hira, which, after a siege of two months, he was obliged to surrender in Shawwāl 127 (August A.D. 745). Manṣūr b. Jomhūr was the first to pass over to the Khawarij; then Ibn Omar himself took the oath of allegiance. That a noble Koreishite, a prince of the reigning house, should pledge himself to follow Ḍaḥḥāk the Shaibānite as his Imam, was an event of which the Khawarij were very proud. Ibn Omar was rewarded with the government of eastern Irak, Khūzistān and Fārs.
Whilst Merwan besieged Homs, Ḍaḥḥāk returned to Mesopotamia and took Mosul, whence he threatened Nisibis, where Abdallah, the son of Merwan, maintained himself with difficulty. Suleimān b. Hishām also had gone over to the Khawarij, who now numbered 120,000 men. Mesopotamia itself was in danger, when Merwan at last was able to march against the enemy. In a furious battle at Kafartūtha (September A.D. 746) the Khawarij were defeated; Ḍaḥḥāk and his successor Khaibarī perished; the survivors were obliged to retire to Mosul, where they crossed the Tigris. Merwan followed them and encamped on the western bank. Immediately after the battle of Kafartūtha, Yazid b. Omar b. Hobaira directed his troops towards Irak. He beat the Kharijites repeatedly and entered Kufa in May or June 747. Ibn Omar was taken prisoner; Manṣūr b. Jomhūr fled to Ibn Moawiya. Ibn Hobaira was at last free to send Ibn Ḍobāra with an army to Mesopotamia. At his approach the Kharijites left their camp and fled to Abdallah b. Moawiya, who was now at the height of his power. But it was not destined to last. The two generals of Ibn Hobaira, Ibn Ḍobāra and Nobāta b. Ḥanẓala defeated his army; Ibn Moawiya fled to Khorasan, where he met his death; the chief of the Kharijites, Shaibān Yashkori went to eastern Arabia; Suleimān b. Hishām and Manṣūr b. Johmūr escaped to India. Thus, at last, the western and south-eastern parts of the empire lay at the feet of Merwan. But in the north-east, in Khorasan, meanwhile a storm had arisen, against which his resources and his wisdom were alike of no avail.
When the news of the murder of Walid II. reached Khorasan, Naṣr b. Sayyār did not at once acknowledge the Caliphate of Yazid III., but induced the Arab chiefs to accept himself as amir of Khorasan, until a caliph should be universally acknowledged. Not many months later (Shawwāl 126) he was confirmed in his post by Yusuf b. Omar, the governor of Irak. But Naṣr had a personal enemy, the chief of the Azd (Yemenites) Jodaiʽ al-Kirmānī, a very ambitious man. A quarrel arose, and in a short time the Azd under Kirmānī, supported by the Rabīʽa, who always were ready to join the opposition, were in insurrection, which Naṣr tried in vain to put down by concessions.
So stood matters when Ḥārith b. Soraij, seconded by Yazid III., reappeared on the scene, crossed the Oxus and came to Merv. Naṣr received him with the greatest honour, hoping to get his aid against Kirmānī, but Ḥārith, to whom 3000 men of his tribe, the Tamīm, had gone over, demanded Naṣr’s abdication and tried to make himself master of Merv. Having failed in this, he allied himself with Kirmānī. Naṣr could hold Merv no longer, and retired to Nishapur. But the Tamīm of Ḥārith could not endure the supremacy of the Azd. In a moment the allies were divided into two camps; a battle ensued, in which Ḥārith was defeated and killed. Originally, Ḥārith seems to have had the highest aims, but in reality he did more than any one else to weaken the Arabic dominion. He brought the Turks into the field against them; he incited the native population of Transoxiana against their Arab lords, and stirred up discord between the Arabs themselves. Being a Tamīmite, he belonged to the Moḍar, on whom the government in Khorasan depended; but he aided the Yemenites to gain the upper hand of them. Thus he paved the way for Abu Moslim.
Since the days of Ali there had been two tendencies among the Shiʽites. The moderate party distinguished itself from the other Moslems only by their doctrine that the imamate belonged legally to a man of the house of the Prophet. The other party, that of the ultra-Shiʽites, named Hāshimīya after Abu Hāshim the son of Mahommed b. al-Ḥanafīya, preached the equality of all Moslems, Arabs or non-Arabs, and taught that the same divine spirit that had animated the Prophet, incorporated itself again in his heirs (see Shi'ites). After the death of Hosain, they chose for their Imam Mahommed b. al-Ḥanafīya, and at his decease his son Abu Hāshim, from whom Mahommed b. Ali, the grandson of Abdallah b. Abbas, who resided at Ḥomaima in the south-east of Syria, obtained the secrets of the party and took the lead (A.H. 98, see above). This Mahommed, the father of the two first Abbasid caliphs, was a man of unusual ability and great ambition. He directed his energies primarily to Khorasan. The missionaries were charged with the task of undermining the authority of the Omayyads, by drawing attention to all the injustices that took place under their reign, and to all the luxury and wantonness of the court, as contrasted with the misery of many of their subjects. God would not suffer it any longer. As soon as the time was ripe that time could not be far off—He would send a saviour—and out of the house of the Prophet, the Mahdi, who would restore Islam to its original purity. All who desired to co-operate in this holy purpose must pledge themselves to unlimited obedience to the Imam, and place their lives and property at his disposal. As a proof of their sincerity they were required at once to pay a fixed sum for the Imam. The missionaries had great success, especially among the non-Arabic inhabitants of Khorasan and Transoxiana.
Mahommed b. Ali died A.H. 126 (A.D. 743–744), and his son Ibrahīm, the Imam, took his place. Ibrahīm had a confidant about whose antecedents one fact alone seems certain, that he was a maula (client) of Persian origin. This man, Abu Moslim by name, was a man of real ability and devoted to his master’s cause. To him, in 745–746, the management of affairs in Khorasan was entrusted, with instructions to consult in all weighty matters the head of the mission, the Arab Suleimān b. Kathīr. At first the chiefs of the mission were by no means prepared to recognize Abu Moslim as the plenipotentiary of the heir of the Prophet. In the year 129 he judged that the time for open manifestation had arrived. His partisans were ordered to assemble from all sides on a fixed day at Sīqadenj in the province of Merv. Then, on the 1st Shawwāl (15th June 747), the first solemn meeting took place and the black flags were unfolded. On that occasion Suleimān b. Kathīr was still leader, but by the end of the year Abu Moslim, whom the majority believed to belong himself to the family of the Prophet, was the acknowledged head of a strong army. Meantime, Naṣr had moved from Nishapur to Merv, and here the two Arabic armies confronted each other. Then, at last, the true significance of Abu Moslim’s work was recognized. Naṣr warned the Arabs against their common enemy, “who preaches a religion that does not come from the Envoy of God, and whose chief aim is the extirpation of the Arabs.” In vain he had entreated Merwan and Ibn Hobaira to send him troops before it should be too late. When at last it was possible to them to fulfil his wish, it was in fact too late. For a moment it seemed as though the rival Arab factions, realizing their common peril, would turn their combined forces against the Shiʽites. But Abu Moslim contrived to re-awaken their mutual distrust and jealousy, and, taking advantage of the opportunity, made himself master of Merv, in Rabia II. A.H. 130 (December 747). Naṣr escaped only by a headlong flight to Nishapur. This was the end of the Arabic dominion in the East. Many Arab chiefs were killed, partly by order of Abu Moslim, partly by their clients. The latter, however, was strictly forbidden by Abu Moslim. So severe indeed was the discipline he exercised, that one of the chief missionaries, who by a secret warning had rendered possible the escape of Naṣr from Merv, paid for it with his life.
As soon as Abu Moslim had consolidated his authority, he sent his chief general Qaḥṭaba against Nishapur. Naṣr’s son Tamīm was vanquished and killed, and Naṣr retreated to Kumis (Qūmis) on the boundary of Jorjān, whither also advanced from the other side Nobāta at the head of an army sent by Merwan. Qaḥṭaba detached his son Ḥasan against Naṣr and went himself to meet Nobāta, whom he beat on the 1st of Dhuʽl-ḥijja 130 (6th August 748). Naṣr could not further resist. He reached Sāwā in the vicinity of Hamadan, where he died quite exhausted, at the age of eighty-five years. Rei and Hamadan were taken without serious difficulty. Near Nehawend, Ibn Ḍobāra, at the head of a large army, encountered Qaḥṭaba, but was defeated and killed. In the month of Dhuʽl-qaʽda 131 (June 749) Nehawend (Nehavend) surrendered, and thereby the way to Irak lay open to Qaḥṭaba. Ibn Hobaira was overtaken and compelled to retire to Wāsit. Qaḥṭaba himself perished in the combat, but his son Ḥasan entered Kufa without any resistance on the 2nd of September 740.
Merwan had at last discovered who was the real chief of the movement in Khorasan, and had seized upon Ibrahīm the Imam and imprisoned him at Harran. There he died, probably from the plague, though Merwan was accused of having killed him. When the other Abbasids left Ḥomaima is not certain. But they arrived at Kufa in the latter half of September 749, where in the meantime the head of the propaganda, Abu Salama, called the wazir of the family of Mahomet, had previously undertaken the government. This Abu Salama seems to have had scruples against recognizing Abuʽl-Abbas as the successor of his brother Ibrahīm, and to have expected that the Mahdi, whom he looked for from Medina, would not be slow in making his appearance, little thinking that an Abbasid would present himself as such. But Abu Jahm, on the instructions of Abu Moslim, declared to the chief officers of the Khorasanian army that the Mahdi was in their midst, and brought them to Abuʽl-Abbas, to whom they swore allegiance. Abu Salama also was constrained to take the oath. On Friday, the 12th Rabia II. A.H. 132 (28th November 749) Abuʽl-Abbas was solemnly proclaimed caliph in the principal mosque of Kufa. The trick had been carried out admirably. On the point of gathering the ripe fruit, the Alids were suddenly pushed aside, and the fruit was snatched away by the Abbasids. The latter gained the throne and they took good care never to be deprived of it.
After the conquest of Nehawend, Qaḥṭaba had detached one of his captains, Abu ʽAun, to Shahrazūr, where he defeated the Syrian army which was stationed there. Thereupon Abu ʽAun occupied the land of Mosul, where he obtained reinforcements from Kufa, headed by Abdallah b. Ali, an uncle of Abuʽl-Abbas, who was to have the supreme command. Merwan advanced to meet him, and was completely defeated near the Greater Zab, an affluent of the Tigris, in a battle which lasted eleven days. Merwan retreated to Harran, thence to Damascus, and finally to Egypt, where he fell in a last struggle towards the end of 132 (August 750). His head was cut off and sent to Kufa. Abu Aun, who had been the real leader of the campaign against Merwan, remained in Egypt as its governor. Ibn Hobaira, who had been besieged in Wasit for eleven months, then consented to a capitulation, which was sanctioned by Abuʽl-Abbas. Immediately after the surrender, Ibn Hobaira and his principal officers were treacherously murdered. In Syria, the Omayyads were persecuted with the utmost rigour. Even their graves were violated, and the bodies crucified and destroyed. In order that no members of the family should escape, Abdallah b. Ali pretended to grant an amnesty to all Omayyads who should come in to him at Abu Fotros (Antipatris) and acknowledge the new caliph, and even promised them the restitution of all their property. Ninety men allowed themselves to be entrapped, and Abdallah invited them to a banquet. When they were all collected, a body of executioners rushed into the hall and slew them with clubs. He then ordered leathern covers to be thrown upon the dying men, and had the banquet served upon them. In Medina and Mecca Daʽud b. Ali, another uncle of Abuʽl-Abbas, conducted the persecution; in Baṣra, Suleiman b. Ali. Abuʽl-Abbas himself killed those he could lay his hands on in Hira and Kufa, amongst them Suleimān b. Hishām, who had been the bitterest enemy of Merwan. Only a few Omayyads escaped the massacre, several of whom were murdered later. A grandson of Hisham, Abdarrahmān, son of his most beloved son Moawiya, reached Africa and founded in Spain the Omayyad dynasty of Cordova.
With the dynasty of the Omayyads the hegemony passes finally from Syria to Irak. At the same time the supremacy of the Arabs came to an end. Thenceforth it is not the contingents of the Arabic tribes which compose the army, and on whom the government depends; the new dynasty relies on a standing army, consisting for the greater part of non-Arabic soldiers. The barrier that separated the Arabs from the conquered nations begins to crumble away. Only the Arabic religion, the Arabic language and the Arabic civilization maintain themselves, and spread more and more over the whole empire.
We now enter upon the history of the new dynasty, under which the power of Islam reached its highest point.
1. Abuʽl-Abbas inaugurated his Caliphate by a harangue in which he announced the era of concord and happiness which was to begin now that the House of the Prophet had been restored to its right. He asserted that the Abbasids were the real heirs of the Prophet, as the descendants of his oldest uncle Abbas. Addressing the Kufians, he said, “Inhabitants of Kufa, ye are those whose affection towards us has ever been constant and true; ye have never changed your mind, nor swerved from it, notwithstanding all the pressure of the unjust upon you. At last our time has come, and God has brought you the new era. Ye are the happiest of men through us, and the dearest to us. I increase your pensions with 100 dirhems; make now your preparations, for I am the lavish shedder of blood and the avenger of blood.”
Notwithstanding these fine words, Abuʽl-Abbas did not trust the Kufians. He resided outside the town with the Khorasanian troops, and with them went first to Hira, then to Hāshimīya, which he caused to be built in the neighbourhood of Anbar. For their real sympathies, he knew, were with the house of Ali, and Abu Salama their leader, who had reluctantly taken the oath of allegiance, did not conceal his disappointment. Abu Jahm, the vizier (q.v.; also Mahommedan Institutions), or “helper,” of Abu Moslim, advised that Abu Jaʽfar, the caliph’s brother, should be sent to Khorasan to consult Abu Moslim. The result was that Abu Salama was assassinated, and at the same time Suleimān b. Kathīr, who had been the head of the propaganda in Khorasan, and had also expected that the Mahdi would belong to the house of Ali. It is said that Abu Jaʽfar, whilst in Khorasan, was so impressed by the unlimited power of Abu Moslim, and saw so clearly that, though he called his brother and himself his masters, he considered them as his creatures, that he vowed his death at the first opportunity.
The ruin of the Omayyad empire and the rise of the new dynasty did not take place without mighty convulsions. In Bathanīya and the Ḥaurān, in the north of Syria, in Mesopotamia and Irak Khorasan insurrections had to be put down with fire and sword. The new caliph then distributed the provinces among the principal members of his family and his generals. To his brother Abu Jaʽfar he gave Mesopotamia, Azerbaijan and Armenia; to his uncle Abdallah b. Ali, Syria; to his uncle Daʽud, Hejaz, Yemen and Yamāma (Yemama); to his cousin ʽĪsā b. Mūsā, the province of Kufa. Another uncle, Suleimān b. Ali, received the government of Baṣra with Bahrein and Oman; Ismā ʽīl b. Ali that of Ahwāz; Abu Moslim, Khorasan and Transoxiana; Mahommed b. Ashʽath, Fārs; Abu ʽAun, Egypt. In Sind the Omayyad governor, Manṣūr b. Jomhūr, had succeeded in maintaining himself, but was defeated by an army sent against him under Mūsā b. Kaʽb, and the black standard of the Abbasids was raised over the city of Manṣūra. Africa and Spain are omitted from this catalogue, because the Abbasids never gained any real footing in Spain, while Africa remained, at least in the first years, in only nominal subjection to the new dynasty. In 754 Abu Moslim came to Irak to visit Abu’l-Abbas and to ask his permission to make the pilgrimage to Mecca. He was received with great honour, but the caliph said that he was sorry not to be able to give him the leadership of the pilgrimage, which he had already purposely entrusted to his brother, Abu Jaʽfar.
Abu’l-Abbas died on the 13th of Dhuʽl-ḥijja 136 (5th June 754). He seems to have been a man of limited capacity, and had very little share in the achievements accomplished in his name. He initiated practically nothing without the consent of Abu Jahm, who was thus the real ruler. In the few cases where he had to decide, he acted under the influence of his brother Abu Jaʽfar.
2. Reign of Mansur.—Abuʽl-Abbas had designated as his successors first Abu Jaʽfar, surnamed al-Manṣūr (the victorious), and after him his cousin ʽĪsā b. Mūsā. Abu Jaʽfar was, according to the historians, older than Abuʽl-Abbas, but while the mother of the latter belonged to the powerful Yemenite tribe of al-Ḥārith b. Kaʽb, the mother of Abu Jaʽfar was a Berber slave-girl. But he was a son of Mahommed b. Ali, and was therefore preferred by Abu Moslim to his uncles and cousins. Abuʽl-Abbas, however, had promised the succession to his uncle Abdallah b. Ali, when he marched against Merwan. When the news of the death of Abuʽl-Abbas reached Abdallah, who at the head of a numerous army was on the point of renewing the Byzantine war, he came to Harran, furious at his exclusion, and proclaimed himself caliph. Abu Moslim marched against him, and the two armies met at Nisibis, where, after a number of skirmishes, a decisive engagement took place (28th November 754). Abdallah was defeated and escaped to Baṣra, where he found a refuge with his brother Suleimān. A year later he asked for pardon, and took the oath of allegiance to Mansur. The caliph spared his life for a time, but he did not forget. In 764 Abdallah met his death by the collapse of his house, which had been deliberately undermined.
The first care of Mansur was now to get rid of the powerful Abu Moslim, who had thus by another brilliant service strengthened his great reputation. On pretence of conferring with him on important business of state, Mansur induced him, in spite of the warnings of his best general, Abu Naṣr, to come to Madāin (Ctesiphon), and in the most perfidious manner caused him to be murdered by his guards. Thus miserably perished the real founder of the Abbasid dynasty, the Ṣāḥib addaula, as he is commonly called, the Amīn (trustee) of the House of the Prophet. A witty man, being asked his opinion about Abu Jaʽfar (Mansur) and Abu Moslim, said, alluding to the Koran 21, verse 22, “if there were two Gods, the universe would be ruined.” The Khorasanian chiefs were bribed into submission, and order was at last re-established by Mansur’s general Khāzim b. Khozaima in Mesopotamia, and by Abu Daʽud, the governor of Khorasan in the east.
About the same time Africa and Spain escaped from the dominion of the eastern Caliphate; the former for a season, the latter permanently. The cause of the revolt of Africa was as follows. Mansur had written to Abdarrahmān, announcing the death of Abuʽl-Abbas, and requiring him to take the oath of allegiance. Abdarrahmān sent in his adhesion, together with a few presents of little value. The caliph replied by a threatening letter which angered Abdarrahmān. He called the people together at the hour of prayer, publicly cursed Mansur from the pulpit and declared him deposed. He next caused a circular letter, commanding all Maghribins to refuse obedience to the caliph, to be read from the pulpit throughout the whole extent of the Maghrib (western North Africa). A brother of Abdarrahmān, Ilyās, saw in this revolt an opportunity of obtaining the government of Africa for himself. Seconded by many of the inhabitants of Kairawan, who had remained faithful to the cause of the Abbasids, he attacked his brother, slew him, and proclaimed himself governor in his stead. This revolution in favour of the Abbasids was, however, not of long duration. Ḥabīb, the eldest son of Abdarrahmān, who had fled in the night of his father’s murder, was captured, but the vessel which was to convey him to Spain having been detained by stress of weather, his partisans took arms and rescued him. Ilyās was marching against them, when the idea occurred to Ḥabīb of challenging him to single combat. Ilyās hesitated, but his own soldiers compelled him to accept the challenge. He measured arms with Ḥabīb, and was slain. The party of independence thus triumphed, but in the year 144 (761) Mahommed b. Ashʽath, the Abbasid general, entered Kairawan and regained possession of Africa in the name of the eastern caliph. From the year 800, it must be added, Africa only nominally belonged to the Abbasids; for, under the reign of Harun al-Rashid, Ibrahīm b. al-Aghlab, who was invested with the government of Africa, founded in that province a distinct dynasty, that of the Aghlabites.
At the same time as the revolt in Africa, the independent Caliphate of the western Omayyads was founded in Spain. The long dissensions which had preceded the fall of that dynasty in the East had already prepared the way for the independence of a province so distant from the centre of the empire. Every petty amir then tried to seize sovereign power for himself, and the people groaned under the consequent anarchy. Weary of these commotions, the Arabs of Spain at last came to an understanding among themselves for the election of a caliph, and their choice fell upon one of the last survivors of the Omayyads, Abdarrahmān b. Moawiya, grandson of the caliph Hishām. This prince was wandering in the deserts of Africa, pursued by his implacable enemies, but everywhere protected and concealed by the desert tribes, who pitied his misfortunes and respected his illustrious origin. A deputation from Spain sought him out in Africa and offered him the Caliphate, which he accepted with joy. On the 1st Rabia I. 138 (14th August 755) Abdarrahmān landed in the Iberian peninsula, where he was universally welcomed, and speedily founded at Cordova the Western Omayyad Caliphate (see Spain: History).
While Mansur was thus losing Africa and Spain, he was trying to redeem the losses the empire had sustained on the northern frontier by the Byzantines. In 750–751 the emperor Constantine V. (Copronymus) had unsuccessfully blockaded Malatia; but five years later he took it by force and razed its wall to the ground. Mansur now sent in 757 an army of 70,000 men under the command of his cousin Abdalwahhāb, the son of Ibrāhīm the Imam, whom he had made governor of Mesopotamia, the real chief being Hasan b. Qaḥṭaba. They rebuilt all that the emperor had destroyed, and made this key of Asia Minor stronger than ever before. The Moslems then made a raid by the pass of Ḥadath (Adata) and invaded the land of the Byzantines. Two aunts of the caliph took part in this expedition, having made a vow that if the dominion of the Omayyads were ended they would wage war in the path of God. Constantine advanced with a numerous army, but was afraid of attacking the invaders. The Moslems also rebuilt Mopsuestia. But from 758 till 763 Mansur was so occupied with his own affairs that he could not think of further raids.
In 758 (others say in 753 or 754) a body of 600 sectaries, called Rāwendīs (q.v.), went to Hāshimīya, the residence of the caliph, not far from Kufa. They believed that the caliph was their lord, to whom they owed their daily bread, and came to pay him divine honours. They began by marching in solemn procession round the palace, as if it had been the Kaʽba. Mansur being told of it said: “I would rather they went to hell in obedience to us, than to heaven in disobedience.” But as they grew tumultuous, and he saw that this impious homage gave offence to his men, he caused the principal leaders to be seized and thrown into prison. The Rāwendīs immediately rose in revolt, broke the prison doors, rescued their chiefs, and returned to the palace. The unfortunate fanatics were hunted down and massacred to the last man, and thereby the ties that bound the Abbasids to the ultra-Shiʽites were severed. From that time forward the Abbasid caliphs became the maintainers of orthodox Islam, just as the Omayyads had been. The name of Hāshimīya, which the reigning family still retained, was henceforward derived not from Abu Hāshim, but from Hāshim, the grandfather of Abbas, the great-grandfather of the Prophet.
A much greater danger now threatened Mansur. In the last days of the Omayyads, the Shiʽites had chosen as caliph, Mahommed b. Abdallah b. Hasan, whom they called the Mahdi and the “pure soul,” and Mansur had been among those who pledged themselves to him by oath. Not unnaturally, the Alids in Medina were indignant at being supplanted by the Abbasids, and Mansur’s chief concern was to get Mahommed into his power. Immediately after his occupying the throne, he named Ziyād b. Obaidallah governor of Medina, with orders to lay hands on Mahommed and his brother Ibrāhīm, who, warned betimes, took refuge in flight. In 758 Mansur, informed that a revolt was in preparation, came himself to Medina and ordered Abdallah to tell him where his sons were. As he could not or would not tell, he together with all his brothers and some other relatives were seized and transported to Irak, where Abdallah and his brother Ali were beheaded and the others imprisoned. Notwithstanding all these precautions, a vast conspiracy was formed. On the same day Mahommed was to raise the standard of revolt in Medina, Ibrāhīm in Baṣra. But the Alids, though not devoid of personal courage, never excelled in politics or in tactics. In A.D. 762 Mahommed took Medina and had himself proclaimed caliph. The governor of Kufa, ʽIsā b. Mūsā, received orders to march against him, entered Arabia, and captured Medina, which, fortified by Mahommed by the same means as the Prophet had employed against the besieging Meccans, could not hold out against the well-trained Khorasanians. Mahommed was defeated and slain. His head was cut off and sent to Mansur. When on the point of death, Mahommed gave the famous sword of the Prophet called Dhuʽl-Fiqār to a merchant to whom he owed 400 dinars. It came later into the possession of Harun al-Rashid. In the meanwhile Ibrāhīm had not only gained possession of Baṣra, Ahwāz and Fārs, but had even occupied Wāsit. The empire of the Abbasids was in great jeopardy. For fifty days Mansur stayed in his room, neither changing his clothes nor allowing himself a moment’s repose. The greater part of his troops were in Rei with his son al-Mahdi, who had conquered Tabaristan, in Africa, with Mahommed b. Ashʽath, and in Arabia with ʽĪsā b. Mūsā. Had Ibrāhīm marched at once against Kufa he might have crushed Mansur, but he let slip the opportunity. A terrible conflict took place at Bā-Khamra, 48 m. from Kufa. Ḥomaid b. Qaḥṭaba, the commander of Mansur’s army, was defeated, only a small division under ʽĪsā b. Mūsā holding its ground. At that moment Salm, the son of the famous Qotaiba b. Moslim, came to the rescue by attacking the rear of Ibrāhīm. Ḥomaid rallied his troops, and Ibrāhīm was overpowered. At last he fell, pierced by an arrow, and, in spite of the desperate efforts of his followers, his body remained in the hands of the enemy. His head was cut off and brought to Mansur.
Mansur could now give his mind to the founding of the new capital. When the tumult of the Rāwendīs took place he saw clearly that his personal safety was not assured in Hāshimīya, where a riot of the populace could be very dangerous, and his troops were continually exposed to the perverting influence of the fickle and disloyal citizens of Kufa. He had just made choice of the admirable site of the old market-town of Bagdad when the tidings came of the rising of Mahommed in Medina. In those days he saw that he had been very imprudent to denude himself of troops, and decided to keep henceforth always with him a body of 30,000 soldiers. So Bagdad, or properly “the round city” of Mansur, on the western bank of the Tigris, was built as the capital. Strictly it was a huge citadel, in the centre of which was the palace of the caliph and the great mosque. But around this nucleus there soon grew up the great metropolis which was to be the centre of the civilized world as long as the Caliphate lasted. The building lasted three years and was completed in the year 149 (A.D. 766). That year is really the beginning of the new era. “The Omayyads,” says the Spanish writer Ibn Ḥazm, “were an Arabic dynasty; they had no fortified residence, nor citadel; each of them dwelt in his villa, where he lived before becoming caliph; they did not desire that the Moslems should speak to them as slaves to their master, nor kiss the ground before them or their feet; they only gave their care to the appointment of able governors in the provinces of the empire. The Abbasids, on the contrary, were a Persian dynasty, under which the Arab tribal system, as regulated by Omar, fell to pieces; the Persians of Khorasan were the real rulers, and the government became despotic as in the days of Chrosroes.” The reign of Abuʽl-Abbas and the first part of that of Mansur had been almost a continuation of the former period. But now his equals in birth and rank, the Omayyads and the Alids, had been crushed; the principal actors in the great struggle, the leaders of the propaganda and Abu Moslim were out of the way; the caliph stood far above all his subjects; and his only possible antagonists were the members of his own family.
ʽĪsā b. Mūsā had been designated, as we have seen, by Abuʽl-Abbas as successor to Mansur. The latter having vainly tried to compel ʽĪsā to renounce his right of succession, in favour of Mansur’s son Mahommed al-Mahdi, produced false witnesses who swore that he had done so. However unwillingly, ʽĪsā was obliged at last to yield, but it was understood that, in case of Mahommed’s death, the succession should return to ʽĪsā. One of the false witnesses was, it is asserted, Khālid b. Barmak, the head of that celebrated family the Barmecides (q.v.), which played so important a part in the reign of Harun al-Rashid. This Khālid, who was descended from an old sacerdotal family in Balkh, and had been one of the trusty supporters of Abu Moslim, Mansur appointed as minister of finance.
A son of Mahommed the Alid had escaped to India, where, with the connivance of the governor Omar b. Hafs Hazarmerd, he had found refuge with an Indian king. Mansur discovered his abode, and caused him to be killed. His infant son was sent to Medina and delivered to his family. Omar Hazarmerd lost his government and received a command in Africa, where he died in 770.
In A.H. 158 (A.D. 775) Mansur undertook a pilgrimage to Mecca, but succumbed to dysentery at the last station on the route. He was about sixty-five years of age, and had reigned for twenty-two years. He was buried at Mecca. He was a man of rare energy and strength of mind. His ambition was boundless and no means, however perfidious, were despised by him. But he was a great statesman and knew how to choose able officers for all places. He was thrifty and anxious to leave to his son a full treasury. He seems to have cherished the ideal that this son, called Mahommed b. Abdallah, after the Prophet, should fulfil the promises of peace and happiness that had been tendered to the believers, and therefore to have called him al-Mahdi. For that purpose it was necessary that he should have the means not only to meet all state expenses, but also to be bounteous. But from the report of the historian Haitham b. ʽAdī about the last discourse which father and son had together, we gather that the former had misgivings in regard to the fulfilment of his wishes.
Khalid b. Barmak took the greatest care of the revenues, but contrived at the same time to consult his own interests. Mansur discovered this in the same year in which he died, and threatened him with death unless he should pay to the treasury three millions of dirhems within three days. Khalid already had so many friends that the sum was brought together with the exception of 30,000 dirhems. At that moment tidings came about a rising in the province of Mosul, and a friend of Khalid said to the caliph that Khalid was the only man capable of putting it down. Thereupon Mansur overlooked the deficiency and gave Khalid the government of Mosul. “And,” said a citizen of that town, “we had such an awe and reverence for Khalid, that he appeased the disorders, almost without punishing anybody.”
3. Reign of Mahdi.—As soon as Mansur was dead, Rabi’, his client and chamberlain, induced all the princes and generals who accompanied the caliph, to take the oath of allegiance to his son Mahommed al-Mahdi, who was then at Bagdad. Isa b. Musa hesitated, but was compelled to give in. In 776 Mahdi constrained him for a large bribe to renounce his right of succession in favour of his sons, Musa and Harun. Mansur wrote in his testament to his son that he had brought together so much money that, even if no revenue should come in for ten years, it would suffice for all the wants of the state. Mahdi, therefore, could afford to be munificent, and in order to make his accession doubly welcome to his subjects, he began by granting a general amnesty to political prisoners. Among these was a certain Ya’qub b. Da’ud, who, having insinuated himself into the confidence of the caliph, especially by discovering the hiding places of certain Alids, was afterwards (in 778) made prime minister. The provincial governors in whom his father had placed confidence, Mahdi superseded by creatures of his own.
In Khorasan many people were discontented. The promises made to them during the war against the Omayyads had not been fulfilled, and the new Mahdi did not answer at all to their ideal. A revolt in 160 under the leadership of a certain Yusuf b. Ibrahïm, surnamed al-Barm, was suppressed by Yazid b. Mazyad, who, after a desperate struggle, defeated Yusuf, took him prisoner and brought him in triumph to Bagdad, where he with several of his officers was killed and crucified. In the following year, Mahdi was menaced by a far more dangerous revolt, led by a sectary, known generally as Mokanna (q.v.), or “the veiled one,” because he always appeared in public wearing a mask. He took up his abode in the Transoxianian province of Kish and Nakhshab, where he gathered around him a great number of adherents. After some successes, the pretender was ultimately cornered at the castle of Sanam near Kish, and took poison together with all the members of his family. His head was cut off and sent to Mahdi in the year 163.
Mahdi had been scarcely a year on the throne when he resolved to accomplish the pilgrimage to Mecca. The chroniclers relate that on this occasion for the first time camels loaded with ice for the use of the caliph came to Mecca. Immediately on his arrival in the Holy City he applied himself, at the request of the inhabitants, to the renewal of the curtains which covered the exterior walls of the Kaʽba. For a very long time no care had been taken to remove the old covering when a new one was put on; and the accumulated weight caused uneasiness respecting the stability of the walls. Mahdi caused the house to be entirely stripped and anointed with perfumes, and covered the walls again with a single cloth of great richness. The temple itself was enlarged and restored. On this occasion he distributed considerable largesses among the Meccans. From Mecca Mahdi went to Medina, where he caused the mosque to be enlarged, and where a similar distribution of gifts took place. During his stay in that city he formed for himself a guard of honour, composed of 500 descendants of the Ansār, to whom he assigned a quarter in Bagdad, named after them the Qatīʽa (Fief) of the Ansār. Struck by the difficulties of every kind which had to be encountered by poor pilgrims to Mecca from Bagdad and its neighbourhood, he ordered Yaqtīn, his freedman, to renew the milestones, to repair the old reservoirs, and to dig wells and construct cisterns at every station of the road where they were missing. He also had new inns built and decayed ones repaired. Yaqtīn remained inspector of the road till 767.
During the reign of Mansur the annual raids against the Byzantines had taken place almost without intermission, but the only feat of importance had been the conquest of Laodicea, called “the burnt” (ἡ κατακεκαυμένη), by Maʽyūf b. Yahyā in the year 770. At first the armies of Mahdi were not successful. The Greeks even conquered Marash (Germanicia) and annihilated the Moslem army sent from Dābiq. In 778, however, Hasan b. Qaḥṭaba made a victorious raid as far as Adhrūliya (Dorylaeum); it was on his proposition that Mahdi resolved on building the frontier town called Ḥadath (Adata), which became an outpost. In 779 the caliph decided on leading his army in person. He assembled his army in the plains of Baradān north of Bagdad and began his march in the early spring of 780, taking with him his second son Hārūn, and leaving his elder son Mūsā as his lieutenant in Bagdad. Traversing Mesopotamia and Syria, he entered Cilicia, and established himself on the banks of the Jihan (Pyramus). Thence he despatched an expeditionary force, nominally under the command of Hārūn, but in reality under that of his tutor, the Barmecide Yahyā b. Khālid. Hārūn captured the fortress Samālu after a siege of thirty-eight days, the inhabitants surrendering on condition that they should not be killed or separated from one another. The caliph kept faith with them, and settled them in Bagdad, where they built a monastery called after their native place. In consequence of this feat, Mahdi made Hārūn governor of the whole western part of the empire, including Azerbaijan and Armenia. Two years later war broke out afresh between the Moslems and the Greeks. Leo IV., the East Roman emperor, had recently died, leaving the crown to Constantine VI. This prince being only ten years old, his mother Irene acted as regent and assumed the title Augusta. By her orders an army of 90,000 men, under the command of Michael Lachanodrakon, entered Asia Minor. The Moslems, on their side, invaded Cilicia under the orders of Abdalkabīr who, being afraid of encountering the enemy, retired with his troops. Irritated by this failure, the caliph in 781 sent Hārūn, accompanied by his chamberlain Rabī’, with an army of nearly 100,000 men, with orders to carry the war to the very gates of Constantinople. The patrician Nicetas, count of Opsikion, who sought to oppose his march, was defeated by Hārūn’s general, Yazid b. Mazyad, and put to flight. Hārūn then marched against Nicomedia, where he vanquished the domesticus, the chief commander of the Greek forces, and pitched his camp on the shores of the Bosporus. Irene took alarm, sued for peace, and obtained a truce for three years, but only on the humiliating terms of paying an annual tribute of 90,000 denarii, and supplying the Moslems with guides and markets on their way home. This brilliant success so increased Mahdi’s affection for Hārūn that he appointed him successor-designate after Mūsā and named him al-Rashīd (“the follower of the right cause”). Three years later, he resolved even to give to him the precedence in the succession instead of Mūsā, yielding to the importunity of Khaizorān, the mother of the two princes, and to his own predilection. It was necessary first to obtain from Mūsā a renunciation of his rights; and for that purpose he was recalled from Jorjān, where he was engaged on an expedition against the rebels of Tabaristān. Mūsā, informed of his father’s intentions, refused to obey this order, and Mahdi determined to march in person against him. But, after his arrival at Māsabadhān, a place in Jabal (Media, the later Persian Irak), he died suddenly, at the age of only forty-three. Some attribute his death to an accident met with in hunting; others believe him to have been poisoned. Some European scholars have suspected Mūsā of having been concerned in it, but of this we have no proof whatever.
The reign of Mahdi was a time of great prosperity. Much was done for the organization of the huge empire; agriculture and commerce flourished; the revenues were increasing, whilst the people fared well. The power of the state was acknowledged even in the far east: the emperor of China, the king of Tibet, and many Indian princes concluded treaties with the caliph. He was an ardent champion of the orthodox faith, repudiating all the extravagant doctrine preached by the Abbasid missionaries and formerly professed by his father. In particular he persecuted mercilessly the Manichaeans and all kinds of freethinkers.
4. Reign of Hādī.—On the death of Mahdi, Hārūn, following the advice of Yahyā. b. Khālid, sent the insignia of the Caliphate, with letters of condolence and congratulation, to Mūsā in Jorjān, and brought the army which had accompanied Mahdi peacefully back from Media to Bagdad. Mūsā returned in all haste to the capital, and assumed the title of al-Hādī (“he who directs”). The accession of a new caliph doubtless appeared to the partisans of the house of Ali a favourable opportunity for a rising. Hosain b. Ali b. Hasan III. raised an insurrection at Medina with the support of numerous adherents, and proclaimed himself caliph. Thence he went to Mecca, where on the promise of freedom many slaves flocked to him, and many pilgrims also acknowledged him. Suleimān b. Mansur, the caliph’s representative in the pilgrimage of that year, was entrusted with the command against him. Hosain was attacked at Fakh, 3 m. from Mecca, and perished in the combat with many other Alids. His maternal uncle, Idrīs b. Abdallah, a brother of Mahommed and Ibrāhīm, the rivals of Mansur, succeeded in escaping, and fled to Egypt, whence by the help of the postmaster, himself a secret partisan of the Shiʽites, he passed into West Africa, where at a later period his son founded the Idrisite dynasty in Fez (see Morocco).
Hādī, who had never been able to forget that he had narrowly escaped being supplanted by his brother, formed a plan for excluding him from the Caliphate and transmitting the succession to his own son Jaʽfar. To this he obtained the assent of his ministers and the principal chiefs of his army, with the exception of Yahyā b. Khālid, Hārūn’s former tutor, who showed such firmness and boldness that Hādī cast him into prison and resolved on his death. Some historians say that he had already given orders for his execution, when he himself was killed (September 14th, 786) by his mother Khaizorān, who had systematically and successfully intrigued against him with the object of gaining the real power for herself. Hādī, indignant at the fact that she was generally regarded as the real source of authority, had attempted to poison her, and Khaizorān, hoping to find a more submissive instrument of her will in her second and favourite son, caused Hādī to be smothered with cushions by two young slaves whom she had presented to him. She herself died three years later.
5. Reign of Hārūn al-Rashīd.—We have now reached the most celebrated name among the Arabian caliphs, celebrated not only in the East, but in the West as well, where the stories of the Thousand and One Nights have made us familiar with that world which the narrators represent in such brilliant colours. Hārūn ascended the throne without opposition. His first act was to choose as prime minister his former tutor, the faithful Yahyā b. Khālid, and to confide important posts to the two sons of Yahyā, Faḍl and Jaʽfar, of whom the former was his own foster-brother, the latter his intimate friend. The Barmecide family were endowed in the highest degree with those qualities of generosity and liberality which the Arabs prized so highly, and the chronicles never weary in their praises. Loaded with all the burdens of government, Yahyā brought the most distinguished abilities to the exercise of his office. He put the frontiers in a good state of defence; he filled the public treasury, and carried the splendour of the throne to the highest point. His sons, especially Faḍl, were worthy of their father.
Although the administration of Hãrūn’s states was committed to skilful hands, yet the first years of his long reign were not free from troubles. Towards the year 176 (A.D. 792–793) a man of the house of Ali, named Yahyā b. Abdallah, another brother of Mahommed and Ibrāhīm, who had taken refuge in the land of Dailam on the south-western shores of the Caspian Sea, succeeded in forming a powerful party, and publicly claimed the Caliphate. Hãrūn immediately sent against him an army of 50,000 men, under the command of Faḍl, whom he made governor of all the Caspian provinces. Reluctant, however, to fight against a descendant of the Prophet, Faḍl first attempted to induce him to submit by promising him safety and a brilliant position at the court of Bagdad. Yahyāaccepted the proposal, but required that the caliph should send him letters of pardon countersigned by the highest legal authorities and the principal personages of the empire. Hārūn consented and Yahyā went to Bagdad, where he met with a splendid reception. At the end of some months, however, he was calumniously accused of conspiracy, and the caliph, seizing the opportunity of ridding himself of a possible rival, threw him into prison, where he died, according to the majority of the historians, of starvation. Others say that Jaʽfar b. Yahyā b. Khālid, to whose care he had been entrusted, suffered him to escape, and that this was the real cause of Hārūn’s anger against the Barmecides (q.v.). Dreading fresh insurrections of the Alids, Hārūn secured the person of another descendant of Ali, Mūsā b. Jaʽfar, surnamed al-Kāzim, who enjoyed great consideration at Medina, and had already been arrested and released again by Mahdi. The unfortunate man was brought by the caliph himself to Bagdad, and there died, apparently by poison.
Meanwhile Hārūn did not forget the hereditary enemy of Islam. In the first year of his reign all the strong places of Kinnesrin and Mesopotamia were formed into a special province, which received the name of al-ʽAwāṣim (“the defending fortresses”), with Manbij (Hierapolis) as its capital. The building of the fortress of Hadath having been completed, Hārūn committed to Faraj the Turk the task of rebuilding and fortifying the city of Tarsus. Thanks to these and similar measures, the Moslem armies were able to advance boldly into Asia Minor. Almost every year successful raids were made, in the year 797 under the command of the caliph himself, so that Irene was compelled to sue for peace. An attack by the Khazars called the caliph’s attention from his successes in Asia Minor. This people had made an irruption into Armenia, and their attack had been so sudden that the Moslems and Christians were unable to defend themselves, and 100,000 had been reduced to captivity. Two valiant generals, Khozaima b. Khāzīm and Yazīd b. Mazyad, marched against the Khazars and drove them out of Armenia.
In the midst of the cares of war, Hārūn was assiduous in his religious duties, and few years passed without his making the pilgrimage. Having determined to fix the order of succession in so formal a manner as to take away all pretext for future contentions, he executed a deed by which he appointed his eldest son Mahommed his immediate heir, and after him the second, Abdallah, and after Abdallah the third, Qāsim. Mahommed received the surname of al-Amīn (“the Sure”), Abdallah that of al-Maʽmūn (“he in whom men trust”), and Qāsim that of al-Moʽtamin billāh (“he who trusts in God”). Hārūn further stipulated that Mamun should have as his share during the lifetime of his brother the government of the eastern part of the empire. Each of the parties concerned swore to observe faithfully every part of this deed, which the caliph caused to be hung up in the Kaʽba, imagining that it would be thus guaranteed against all violation on the part of men, a precaution which was to be rendered vain by the perfidy of Amīm.
It was in the beginning of the following year, at the very moment when the Barmecides thought their position most secure, that Hārūn brought sudden ruin upon them. The causes of their disgrace have been differently stated by the annalists (see Barmecides). The principal cause appears to have been that they abused the sovereign power which they exercised. Not a few were jealous of their greatness and sought for opportunities of instilling distrust against them into the mind of Hārūn, and of making him feel that he was caliph only in name. The secret dissatisfaction thus aroused was increased, according to some apparently well-informed authorities, by the releasing of the Alid Yahyā b. Abdallah, already mentioned. Finally Hārūn resolved on their destruction, and Jaʽfar b. Yahyā, who had just taken leave of him after a day’s hunting, was arrested, taken to the castle of Hārūn, and beheaded. The following day, his father Yahyā, his brother Fadl, and all the other Barmecides were arrested and imprisoned; all their property was confiscated. The only Barmecide who remained unmolested with his family was Mahommed the brother of Yahyā, who had been the chamberlain of the caliph till 795, when Fadl b. Rabiʽ got his place. This latter had henceforward the greatest influence at court.
In the same year a revolution at Constantinople overthrew the empress Irene. The new emperor Nicephorus, thinking himself strong enough to refuse the payment of tribute, wrote an insulting letter to Hārūn, who contented himself with replying: “Thou shall not hear, but see, my answer.” He entered Asia Minor and took Heraclea, plundering and burning along his whole line of march, till Nicephorus, in alarm, sued for peace. Scarcely had the caliph returned into winter quarters when Nicephorus broke the treaty. When the news came to Rakka, where Hārūn was residing, not one of the ministers ventured to tell him, until at last a poet introduced it in a poem which pleased the monarch. Notwithstanding the rigour of the season, Hārūn retraced his steps, and Nicephorus was compelled to observe his engagements. In 805 the first great ransoming of Moslem prisoners took place on the banks of the little river Lamus in Cilicia. But Nicephorus, profiting by serious disturbances in Khorasan, broke the treaty again, and overran the country as far as Anazarba and Kanīsat as-saudā (“the black church”) on the frontier, where he took many prisoners, who were, however, recovered by the garrison of Mopsuestia. Thus Hārūn was obliged to take the field again. He entered Asia Minor with an army of 135,000 regulars, beside volunteers and camp followers. Heraclea was taken, together with many other places, and Tyana was made a military station. At the same time his admiral, Homaid b. Maʽyūf, conquered Cyprus, which had broken the treaty, and took 16,000 of its people captive. Nicephorus was now so completely beaten that he was compelled to submit to very harsh conditions. In the year 808 the second ransoming between the Moslems and the Greeks took place near the river Lamus.
The disturbances in Khorasan were caused by the malversations of the governor of that province, Ali b. ʽĪsā b. Māhān. The caliph went in person to Merv, in order to judge of the reality of the complaints which had reached him. Ali b. ʽĪsā hastened to meet the caliph on his arrival at Rai (Rhagae), near the modern Teheran, with a great quantity of costly presents, which he distributed with such profusion among the princes and courtiers that no one was anxious to accuse him. Hārūn confirmed him in his post, and, after having received the chiefs of Tabaristān who came to tender their submission, returned through Bagdad to Rakka on the Euphrates, which city was his habitual residence. In the following year Rāfi’ b. Laith, a grandson of Nasr b. Sayyār, raised the standard of revolt in Samarkand, and, at the head of a numerous army, defeated the son of Ali b. ʽĪsā. Thereupon Ali fled from Balkh, leaving the treasury, which was plundered by the populace after his departure. The caliph on learning that the revolt was due to Ali’s tyranny, sent Harthama b. Aʽyan with stringent orders to seize Ali and confiscate his possessions. This order was carried out, and it is recorded that 1500 camels were required to transport the confiscated treasures. The caliph’s hope that Rāfi’ would submit on condition of receiving a free pardon was not fulfilled, and he resolved to set out himself to Khorasan, taking with him his second son Mamun. On the journey he was attacked by an internal malady, which carried him off, ten months after his departure from Bagdad, A.H. 193 (March 809), just on his arrival at the city of Tūs. Hārūn was only forty-five years of age. He was far from having the high qualifications of his grandfather Mansur; indeed he did not even possess the qualities of his father and his brother. When the latter asked him to renounce his right of succession, he was willing to consent, saying that a quiet life with his beloved wife, the princess Zobaida, was his highest wish, but he obeyed his mother and Yahyā b. Khālid. As long as the Barmecides were in office, he acted only on their direction. After their disgrace he was led into many impolitic actions by his violent and often cruel propensities. But the empire was, especially in the earlier part of his reign, in a very prosperous state, and was respected widely by foreign powers. Embassies passed between Charlemagne and Hārūn in the years 180 (A.D. 797) and 184 (A.D. 801), by which the former obtained facilities for the pilgrims to the Holy Land, the latter probably concessions for the trade on the Mediterranean ports. The ambassadors brought presents with them; on one of these occasions the first elephant reached the land of the Franks.
Under the reign of Hārūn, Ibrāhīm b. al-Aghlab, the governor of Africa, succeeded in making himself independent of the central government, on condition of paying a fixed annual tribute to his suzerain the caliph. This was, if we do not take Spain into the account, the first instance of dismemberment, later to be followed by many others.
In the days of this caliph the first paper factories were founded in Bagdad.
6. Reign of Amīn.—On the death of Hārūn his minister, Fadl b. Rabīʽ, with the view of gaining the new caliph’s confidence, hastened to call together all the troops of the late caliph and to lead them back to Bagdad, in order to place them in the hands of the new sovereign, Amīn. He even, in direct violation of Hārūn’s will, led back the corps which was intended to occupy Khorasan under the authority of Mamun. Aware, however, that in thus acting he was making Mamun his irreconcilable enemy, he persuaded Amīn to exclude Mamun from the succession. Mamun, on receiving his brother’s invitation to go to Bagdad, was greatly perplexed; but his tutor and later vizier, Fadl b. Sahl, a Zoroastrian of great influence, who in 806 had adopted Islam, reanimated his courage, and pointed out to him that certain death awaited him at Bagdad. Mamun resolved to hold out, and found pretexts for remaining in Khorasan. Amīn, in anger, caused the will of his father, which, as we have seen, was preserved in the Kaʽba, to be destroyed, declared on his own authority that Mamun’s rights of succession were forfeited, and caused the army to swear allegiance to his own son Mūsā, a child of five, on whom he bestowed the title of an-Nātiq bil-Haqq (“he who speaks according to truth”), A.H. 194 (A.D. 809–810). On hearing the news, Mamun, strong in the rightfulness of his claim, retaliated by suppressing the caliph’s name in all public acts. Amīn immediately despatched to Khorasan an army of 40,000 under the command of Ali b. ʽĪsā, who had regained his former influence, and told the caliph that, at his coming to Khorasan, all the leading men would come over to his side. Zobaida, the mother of the caliph, entreated Ali to treat Mamun kindly when he should have made him captive. It is said that Fadl b. Sahl had, through a secret agent, induced Fadl b. Rabīʽ to select Ali, knowing that the dislike felt towards him by the Khorasanians would double their strength in fighting against him. Mamun, on his side, sent in all haste an army of less than 4000 men of his faithful Khorasanians, and entrusted their command to Ṭāhir b. Hosain, who displayed remarkable abilities in the war that ensued. The two armies met under the walls of Rai (Shaaban 195, May 811). By a bold attack, in the manner of the Kharijites of yore, Ṭāhir penetrated into the centre of the hostile army and killed Ali. The frightened army fled, leaving the camp with all its treasures to Ṭāhir, who from that day was named “the man with the two right hands.” A courier was despatched immediately to Merv, who performed the journey, a distance of about 750 miles, in three days. On the very day of his arrival, Harthama b. Aʽyan had left Merv with reinforcements. Mamun now no longer hesitated to take the title of caliph.
When the news of Ali’s defeat came to Bagdad, Amīn sent Abdarrahmān b. Jabala to Hamadān with 20,000 men. Ṭāhir defeated him, forced Hamadān to surrender, and occupied all the strong places in Jabal (Media). The year after, Amīn placed in the field two new armies commanded respectively by Ahmad b. Mazyad and Abdallah b. Ḥomaid b. Qaḥṭaba. The skilful Ṭāhir succeeded in creating divisions among the troops of his adversaries, and obtained possession, without striking a blow, of the city of Holwān, an advantage which opened the way to the very gates of Bagdad. He was here reinforced by troops sent from Khorasan under the command of Harthama b. Aʽyan, who was appointed leader of the war against Amīn, with orders to send Ṭāhir to Ahwāz. Ṭāhir continued his victorious march, conquered Ahwāz, took Wāsit and Madāin, and pitched his camp near one of the gates of the capital, where he was rejoined by Harthama. One after the other the provinces fell away from Amīn, and he soon found himself in possession of Bagdad alone. The city, though blockaded on every side, made a desperate defence for nearly two years. Ultimately the eastern part of the city fell into the hands of Ṭāhir, and Amīn, deserted by his followers, was compelled to surrender. He resolved to treat with Harthama, as he was averse to Ṭāhir; but this step caused his ruin. Ṭāhir succeeded in intercepting him on his way to Harthama, and immediately ordered him to be put to death. His head was sent to Mamun (September 813). It was presented to him by his vizier, Faḍl b. Sahl, surnamed Dhuʽl-Riyāsatain, or “the man with two governments,” because his master had committed to him both the ministry of war and the general administration. Mamun hid his joy beneath a feigned display of sorrow.
Amīn was only twenty-eight years old. As a ruler he was wholly incompetent. He hardly comprehended the importance of the affairs with which he was called upon to deal. He acted invariably on the advice of those who for the time had his confidence, and occupied himself mainly with the affairs of his harem, with polo, fishing, wine and music. The five years of his reign were disastrous to the empire, and in particular to Bagdad which never entirely recovered its old splendour.
7. Reign of Mamun.—On the day following the death of Amīn Ṭāhir caused Mamun to be proclaimed at Bagdad, and promised in his name a general amnesty. The accession of this prince appeared likely to restore to the empire the order necessary for its prosperity. It was not so, however. The reign of Mamun—that reign in which art, science and letters, under the patronage of the caliph, threw so brilliant a lustre—had a very stormy beginning. Mamun was in no haste to remove to Bagdad, but continued to reside at Merv. In his gratitude to Faḍl b. Sahl, to whose service he owed his success, he not only chose him as prime minister of the empire, but also named his brother, Hasan b. Sahl, governor of Media, Fārs, Ahwāz, Arabia and Irak. The two generals to whom he owed still more were not treated as they deserved. Harthama was ordered to return to Khorasan; Ṭāhir was made governor of Mesopotamia and Syria, with the task of subduing Naṣr b. Shabath, who with numerous adherents refused submission to the caliph. The Alids seized on the elevation of Mamun as a pretext for fresh revolts. At Kufa a certain Ibn Ṭabāṭabā placed an army in the field under Abuʽl-Sarāyā, who had been a captain in the army of Harthama. An army sent by Hasan b. Sahl was defeated, and Abuʽl-Sarāyā, no longer content to play a second part, poisoned his chief, Ibn Ṭabāṭabā, and put in his place another of the family of Ali, Mahommed b. Mahommed, whom, on account of his extreme youth, he hoped to govern at his will. Abuʽl-Sarāyā’s success continued, and several cities of Irak—Basra, Wāsit and Madāin—fell into his hands. Mecca, Medina and Yemen also were mastered by the Alids, who committed all kinds of atrocities and sacrilege. Abuʽl-Sarāyā, who even struck money in Kufa, began to menace the capital, when Hasan b. Sahl hastily sent a messenger to Harthama b. Aʽyan, who was already at Holwān on his way back to Merv, entreating him to come to his aid. Harthama, who was deeply offended by his dismissal, refused at first, but at last consented, and at once checked the tide of disaster. The troops of the Alids were everywhere driven back, and the whole of Irak fell again into the hands of the Abbasids. Kufa opened its gates; Basra was taken by assault. Abuʽl-Sarāyā and Mahommed b. Mahommed fled to Mesopotamia, but were made prisoners. The former was decapitated, the latter was sent to Khorasan, the revolt in Arabia was quickly suppressed, and peace seemed within reach. This, however, was by no means the case. The disorder of civil war had caused a multitude of robbers and vagabonds to emerge from the purlieus of Bagdad. These ruffians proceeded to treat the capital as a conquered city, and it became necessary for all good citizens to organize themselves into a regular militia. Harthama, having vanquished Abuʽl-Sarāyā, did not go to Hasan b. Sahl, but proceeded towards Merv with the purpose of telling Mamun that the state of affairs was not as Fadl b. Sahl represented it to him, and urging him to come to Bagdad, where his presence was necessary. Fadl, informed of his intentions, filled the caliph’s mind with distrust against the old general, so that when Harthama arrived Mamun had him cast into prison, where he died shortly afterwards. When the tidings of his disgrace came to Bagdad, the people expelled the lieutenant of Hasan b. Sahl, called by them the Mājūzī (“the Zoroastrian”), who had chosen Madāin for his residence, and put at their head Mansūr, a son of Mahdi, who refused to assume the title of caliph, but consented to be Mamun’s vicegerent instead of Hasan b. Sahl.
Meanwhile, at Merv, Mamun was adopting a decision which fell like a thunderbolt on the Abbasids. In A.H. 201 (A.D. 817), under pretence of putting an end to the continual revolts of the partisans of Ali, and acting on the advice of his prime minister Faḍl, he publicly designated as his successor in the Caliphate Ali ar-Ridā, a son of that Mūsā al-Kāzim who perished in the prison of Mahdi, a direct descendant of Hosain, the son of Ali, and proscribed black, the colour of the Abbasids, in favour of that of the house of Ali, green. This step was well calculated to delight the followers of Ali, but it could not fail to exasperate the Abbasids and their partisans. The people of Bagdad refused to take the oath to Ali b. Mūsā, declared Mamun deposed, and elected his uncle, Ibrāhīm, son of Mahdi, to the Caliphate. It was only indirectly that the news reached the caliph, who then saw that Faḍl had been treating him as a puppet. His anger was great, but he kept it carefully to himself. Faḍl was one day found murdered, and Ali b. Mūsā died suddenly. The historians bring no open accusation against Mamun, but it seems clear that the opportune removal of these men was not due to chance. Mamun affected the profoundest grief, and, in order to disarm suspicion, appointed as his prime minister the brother of Faḍl, Hasan b. Sahl, whose daughter Būrān he afterwards married. Soon after the news came to him that Hasan b. Sahl had become insane. Mamun appointed an officer to act as his lieutenant, and wrote that he was coming to Bagdad in a short time. From that moment the pseudo-caliph Ibrāhīm found himself deserted, and was obliged to seek safety in concealment. His precarious reign had, however, lasted nearly two years. Mamun had found out also that the general uneasiness was largely due to his treatment of Harthama and Ṭāhir, the latter having been put in a rebellious country without the men and the money to maintain his authority. The caliph therefore wrote to Ṭāhir to meet him at Nahrawān, where he was received with the greatest honour. Having taken all precautions, Mamun now made his solemn entry into Bagdad, but, to show that he came as a master, he still displayed for several days the green colours, though at last, at the request of Tāhir, he consented to resume the black. From this time, A.H. 204 (August 819), the real reign of Mamun began, freed as he now was from the tutelage of Faḍl.
When welcoming Tāhir, Mamun bade him ask for any reward he might desire. Tāhir, fearing lest the caliph, not being able to endure the sight of the murderer of his brother, should change his mind towards him, contrived to get himself appointed governor of Khorasan. Like most of the great Moslem generals, Tāhir, it is said, had conceived the project of creating an independent kingdom for himself. His death, A.H. 207 (A.D. 822), prevented its realization; but as his descendants succeeded him one after the other in the post of governor, he may be said in reality to have founded a dynasty in Khorasan. His son Abdallah b. Tāhir was a special favourite of Mamun, He brought Naṣr b. Shabath to subjection in Mesopotamia, and overcame by great ability a very dangerous rebellion in Egypt. When he returned thence, the caliph gave him the choice between the government of Khorasan and that of the northern provinces, where he would have to combat Babak the Khorramite. Abdallah chose the former (see below, § 8).
The pseudo-caliph, Ibrāhim, who, since Mamun’s entry into Bagdad, had led a wandering life, was eventually arrested. But Mamun generously pardoned him, as well as Faḍl b. Rabiʽ, the chief promoter of the terrible civil war which had so lately shaken the empire. After that time, Ibrahim lived peacefully at the court, cultivating the arts of singing and music.
Tranquillity being now everywhere re-established, Mamun gave himself up to science and literature. He caused works on mathematics, astronomy, medicine and philosophy to be translated from the Greek, and founded in Bagdad a kind of academy, called the “House of Science,” with a library and an observatory. It was also by his orders that two learned mathematicians undertook the measurement of a degree of the earth’s circumference. Mamun interested himself too in questions of religious dogma. He had embraced the Motazilite doctrine about free will and predestination, and was in particular shocked at the opinion which had spread among the Moslem doctors that the Koran was the uncreated word of God. In the year 212 (A.D. 827) he published an edict by which the Motazilite (Muʽtazilite) doctrine was declared to be the religion of the state, the orthodox faith condemned as heretical. At the same time he ordered all his subjects to honour Ali as the best creature of God after the Prophet, and forbade the praise of Moawiya. In A.H. 218 (A.D. 833) a new edict appeared by which all judges and doctors were summoned to renounce the error of the uncreated word of God. Several distinguished doctors, and, among others, the celebrated Ahmad b. Ḥanbal (q.v.), founder of one of the four orthodox Moslem schools, were obliged to appear before an inquisitorial tribunal; and as they persisted in their belief respecting the Koran, they were thrown into prison. Mamun, being at Tarsus, received from the governor of Bagdad the report of the tribunal, and ordered that the culprits should be sent off to him. Happily for these unfortunate doctors, they had scarcely reached Adana, when news of the caliph’s death arrived and they were brought back to Bagdad. The two successors of Mamun maintained the edicts—Ahmad b. Ḥanbal, who obstinately refused to yield, was flogged in the year 834—but it seems that Motasim did not himself take much interest in the question, which perhaps he hardly understood, and that the prosecution of the inquisition by him was due in great part to the charge which was left him in Mamun’s will. In the reign of Motawakkil the orthodox faith was restored, never to be assailed again.
In spite of these manifold activities Mamun did not forget the hereditary enemy of Islam. In the years 830, 831 and 832 he made expeditions into Asia Minor with such success that Theophilus, the Greek emperor, sued for peace, which Mamun haughtily refused to grant. Accordingly, he decided on marching in the following year against Amorium, and thence to Constantinople itself. Having sent before him his son Abbas to make Tyana a strong fortress, he set out for Asia Minor to put himself at the head of the army, but died of a fever brought on by bathing in the chill river, Pedendon, 40 m. from Tarsus, in Rajab 218 (A.D. August 833), at the age of forty-eight.
Mamun was a man of rare qualities, and one of the best rulers of the whole dynasty after Mansur. By him the ascendancy of the Persian element over the Arabian was completed. Moreover, he began to attract young Turkish noblemen to his court, an example which was followed on a much larger scale by his successor and led to the supremacy of the Turks at a later period.
8. Reign of Motasim.—Abu Isḥāk al-Moʽtaṣim had for a long time been preparing himself for the succession. Every year he had bought Turkish slaves, and had with him in the last expedition of Mamun a bodyguard of 3000. Backed by this force he seems to have persuaded the ailing caliph to designate him as his successor. The chroniclers content themselves with recording that he himself wrote in the name of the caliph to the chief authorities in Bagdad and elsewhere that he was to be the successor. His accession, however, met at first with active opposition in the army, where a powerful party demanded that Abbas should take the place of his father. Abbas, however, publicly renounced all pretension to the Caliphate, and the whole army accepted Motasim, who immediately had the fortifications of Tyana demolished and hastened back to Bagdad, where he made his public entry on the 20th of September 833.
Motasim wanted officers for his bodyguard. Immediately after his coming to Bagdad, he bought all the Turkish slaves living there who had distinguished themselves. Among them were Ashnās, Itākh, Wasīf, Sīmā, all of whom later became men of great influence. The guard was composed of an undisciplined body of soldiers, who, moreover, held in open contempt the religious precepts of Islam. Tired of the excesses committed by these Turks, the people of Bagdad beat or killed as many of them as they could lay hands on, and Motasim, not daring to act with severity against either his guard or the citizens, took the course of quitting the city. Having bought in 834 territories at Sāmarrā, a small place situated a few leagues above Bagdad, he caused a new residence to be built there, whose name, which could be interpreted “Unhappy is he who sees it,” was changed by him into Sorra-man-raʽā, “Rejoiced is he who sees it.” Leaving the government of the capital in the hands of his son Hārūn al-Wāthiq, he established himself at Sāmarrā in 836. This resolution of Motasim was destined to prove fatal to his dynasty; for it placed the caliphs at the mercy of their praetorians. In fact, from the time of Wāthiq, the Caliphate became the plaything of the Turkish guard, and its decline was continuous.
In the time of the civil war the marshlands in Irak between Basra and Wāsit had been occupied by a large population of Indians, called yat, or, according to the Arabic pronunciation, Zoṭṭ, who infested the roads and levied a heavy tribute from the ships ascending and descending the Tigris. From the year 821 onwards Mamun had tried in vain to bring them to submission. When Motasim came back to Bagdad, after the death of his brother, he found the people in great distress, their supply of dates from Basra having been cut off by the Zoṭṭ, and resolved to put them down with all means. After seven months of vigorous resistance, they at last yielded on condition of safety of life and property. In January 835 the Zoṭṭ in their national costume and with their own music were conducted on a great number of boats through Bagdad. Thence they were transported to Ainzarba (Anazarba) on the frontier of the Greek empire. Twenty years later they entered Asia Minor, whence in a later period they came into Europe, under the name of Athinganoi (Ziganes) and Egyptians (gipsies).
A far more difficult task lay before Motasim, the subjection of Bābak al-Khorramī in Azerbaijan. Though the name Khorramī is often employed by the Moslem writers to designate such extravagant Moslem sectaries as the Hāshimīya, the real Khorramī were not Moslems, but Persian Mazdaqites, or communists. The name Khorramī, or Khorramdīnī, “adherent of the pleasant religion,” seems to be a nickname. As they bore red colours, they were also called Mohammira, or Redmakers. Their object was to abolish Islam and to restore “the white religion.” We find the first mention of them in the year 808, when Harun al-Rashid sent an army against them. During the civil war their power was steadily increasing, and spread not only over Azerbaijan, but also over Media (Jabal) and Khorasan. The numerous efforts of Mamun to put them down had been all in vain, and they were now in alliance with the Byzantine emperor. Therefore, in the year 835, Motasim made Afshīn, a Turkish prince who had distinguished himself already in the days of Mamun, governor of Media, with orders to take the lead of the war against Bābak. After three years’ fighting, Bābak was taken prisoner. He was carried to Sāmarrā, led through the city on the back of an elephant, and then delivered to the executioners, who cut off his arms and legs. His head was sent to Khorasan, his body was crucified. For long afterwards the place where this happened bore the name of “Bābak’s Cross.”
In the hope of creating a diversion in Bābak’s favour, Theophilus in 837 fell upon and laid waste the frontier town of Zibatra. There and in several other places he took a great number of prisoners, whom he mutilated. The news arrived just after that of the capture of Bābak, and Motasim swore to take exemplary vengeance. He assembled a formidable army, penetrated into Asia Minor, and took the city of Amorium, where he gained rich plunder. During his return the caliph was informed of a conspiracy in the army in favour of ʽAbbās the son of Mamun, of which ʽOjaif b. ʽAnbasa was the ringleader. The unfortunate prince was arrested and died soon after in prison. The conspirators were killed, many of them with great cruelty. (For the campaign see Bury in J.H.S., 1909, xxix. pt. i.)
Motasim had just returned to Sāmarrā when a serious revolt broke out in Tabaristan, Māziyār, one of the hereditary chiefs of that country, refusing to acknowledge the authority of Abdallah Ibn Ṭāhir, the governor of Khorasan, of which Tabaristan was a province. The revolt was suppressed with great difficulty, and it came out that it was due to the secret instigation of Afshīn, who hoped thereby to cause the fall of the Ṭāhirids, and to take their place, with the ulterior object of founding an independent kingdom in the East. Afshīn, who stood at that moment in the highest favour of the caliph, was condemned and died in prison. Motasim died a year later, January 842.
9. Reign of Wāthiq.—His son Wāthiq, who succeeded, though not in the least to be compared with Mamun, had yet in common with him a thirst for knowledge—perhaps curiosity would be a more appropriate term—which prompted him, as soon as he became caliph, to send the famous astronomer Mahommed b. Mūsā into Asia Minor to find out all about the Seven Sleepers which he discovered in the neighbourhood of Arabissus, and Sallām the Interpreter to explore the situation of the famous wall of Gog and Magog, which he reached at the north-west frontier of China. For these and other personal pursuits he raised money by forcing a number of high functionaries to disgorge their gains. In so vast an empire the governors and administrators had necessarily enjoyed an almost unrestricted power, and this had enabled them to accumulate wealth. Omar had already compelled them to furnish an account of their riches, and, when he found that they had abused their trust, to relinquish half to the state. As time went on, nomination to an office was more and more generally considered a step to wealth. During the reign of the Omayyads a few large fortunes were made thus. But with the increasing luxury after Mansur, the thirst for money became universal, and the number of honest officials lessened fast. Confiscation of property had been employed with success by Hārūn al-Rashīd after the disgrace of the Barmecides, and occasionally by his successors, but Wāthiq was the first to imprison high officials and fine them heavily on the specific charge of peculation.
The caliph also shared Mamun’s intolerance on the doctrinal question of the uncreated Koran. He carried his zeal to such a point that, on the occasion of an exchange of Greek against Moslem prisoners in 845, he refused to receive those Moslem captives who would not declare their belief that the Koran was created. The orthodox in Bagdad prepared to revolt, but were discovered in time by the governor of the city. The ringleader Ahmad b. Naṣr al-Khozāʽī was seized and brought to Sāmarrā, where Wāthiq beheaded him in person. The only other event of importance in the reign of Wāthiq was a rising of the Arabian tribes in the environs of Medina, which the Turkish general Boghā with difficulty repressed. When he reached Sāmarrā with his prisoners, Wāthiq had just died (August 846). That the predominance of the praetorians was already established is clear from the fact that Wāthiq gave to two Turkish generals, Ashnās and Itākh respectively, the titular but lucrative supreme government of all the western and all the eastern provinces. In his days the soldiery at Sāmarrā was increased by a large division of Africans (Maghribīs).
10. Reign of Motawakkil.—As Wāthiq had appointed no successor the vizier Mahommed Zayyāt had cast his eye on his son Mahommed, who was still a child, but the generals Wasīf and Itākh, seconded by the upper cadi Ibn abī Daʽud, refused their consent, and offered the supreme power to Wāthiq’s brother Jaʽfar, who at his installation adopted the name of al-Motawakkil ʽalā ʽllāh (“he who trusts in God”). The new caliph hated the vizier Zayyāt, who had opposed his election, and had him seized and killed with the same atrocious cruelty which the vizier himself had inflicted on others. His possessions, and those of others who had opposed the caliph’s election, were confiscated. But the arrogance of Itākh, to whom he owed his Caliphate, became insufferable. So, with the perfidy of his race, the caliph took him off his guard, and had him imprisoned and killed at Bagdad. He was succeeded by Wasīf.
About this time an impostor named Mahmūd b. Faraj had set himself up as a prophet, claiming to be Dhuʽl-Qarnain (Alexander the Great) risen from the dead. Asserting that Gabriel brought him revelations, he had contrived to attract twenty-seven followers. The caliph had him flogged, and compelled each of the twenty-seven to give him ten blows on the head with his fist. The “prophet” expired under the blows (850).
One of the first acts of Motawakkil was the release of all those who had been imprisoned for refusing to admit the dogma of the created Koran, and the strict order to abstain from any litigation about the Book of God. The upper cadi Ibn abī Daʽud, the leader of the movement against orthodoxy, who had stood in great esteem with Mamun and had fulfilled his high office under the reigns of Motasim and Wāthiq, had a stroke of paralysis in the year 848. His son Mahommed was put in his place till 851, when all the members of the family were arrested. They released themselves by paying the enormous sum of 240,000 dinārs and 16,000,000 dirhems, which constituted nearly their whole fortune, and were then sent to Bagdad, where father and son died three years later. An orthodox upper cadi was named instead, and the dogma of the created Koran was declared heresy; therewith began a persecution of all the adherents of that doctrine and other Motazilite tenets. Orthodoxy triumphed, never again to lose its place as the state religion. Hand in hand with these reactionary measures came two others, one against Jews and Christians, one against the Shiʽites. The first caliph who imposed humiliating conditions on the Dhimmis, or Covenanters, who, on condition of paying a certain not over-heavy tribute, enjoyed the protection of the state and the free exercise of their cult, was Omar II., but this policy was not continued. A proposition by the cadi Abū Yūsuf to Hārūn al-Rashid to renew it had not been adopted. Motawakkil, in 850, formulated an edict by which these sectaries were compelled to wear a distinctive dress and to distinguish their houses by a figure of the devil nailed to the door, excluding them at the same time from all public employments, and forbidding them to send their children to Moslem schools. Nevertheless, he kept his Christian medical men, some of whom were high in favour. He showed his hatred for the Shiʽites by causing the mausoleum erected over the tomb of Hosain at Kerbela, together with all the buildings surrounding it, to be levelled to the ground and the site to be ploughed up, and by forbidding any one to visit the spot. A year before, a descendant of Hosain, Yahyā b. Omar, had been arrested and flogged on his orders. He escaped afterwards, rose in rebellion at Kufa in 864, and was killed in battle. It is reported that the caliph even permitted one of his buffoons to turn the person of Ali into mockery.
In the year 848–849 Ibn Baʽīth, who had rendered good service in the war against Bābak, but had for some cause been arrested, fled from Sāmarrā to Marand in Azerbaijan and revolted. Not without great difficulty Boghā, the Turkish general, succeeded in taking the town and making Ibn Baʽīth prisoner. He was brought before Motawakkil and died in prison. In the year 237 (A.D. 851–852) a revolt broke out in Armenia. Notwithstanding a vigorous resistance, Boghā subdued and pacified the province in the following year. In that same year, 852–853, the Byzantines made a descent on Egypt with 300 vessels. ʽAnbasa the governor had ordered the garrison of Damietta to parade at the capital Fostāt. The denuded town was taken, plundered and burned. The Greeks then destroyed all the fortifications at the mouth of the Nile near Tinnis, and returned with prisoners and booty. The annual raids of Moslems and Greeks in the border districts of Asia Minor were attended with alternate successes, though on the whole the Greeks had the upper hand. In 856 they penetrated as far as Amid (Diārbekr), and returned with 10,000 prisoners. But in the year 859 the Greeks suffered a heavy defeat with losses of men and cattle, the emperor Michael himself was in danger, whilst the fleet of the Moslems captured and sacked Antalia. This was followed by a truce and an exchange of prisoners in the following year.
In 855 a revolt broke out in Homs (Emesa), where the harsh conditions imposed by the caliph on the Christians and Jews had caused great discontent. It was repressed after a vigorous resistance. A great many leading men were flogged to death, all churches and synagogues were destroyed and all the Christians banished.
In the year 851 the Boja (or Beja), a wild people living between the Red Sea and the Nile of Upper Egypt, the Blemmyes of the ancients, refused to pay the annual tribute, and invaded the land of the gold and emerald mines, so that the working of the mines was stopped. The caliph sent against them Mahommed al-Qommī, who subdued them in 856 and brought their king Ali Bābā to Sāmarrā before Motawakkil, on condition that he should be restored to his kingdom.
About this time Sijistan liberated itself from the supremacy of the Ṭāhirids. Yaʽqūb b. Laith al-Saffār proclaimed himself amīr of that province in the year 860, and was soon after confirmed in this dignity by the caliph.
In 858 Motawakkil, hoping to escape from the arrogant patronage of Waṣīf, who had taken the place of Itākh as head of the Turkish guard, transferred his residence to Damascus. But the place did not agree with him, and he returned to Sāmarrā, where he caused a magnificent quarter to be built 3 m. from the city, which he called after his own name Jaʽfarīya, and on which he spent more than two millions of dinars (about £900,000). He found the means by following the example of his predecessor in depriving many officials of their ill-gotten gains. He contrived to enrol in his service nearly 12,000 men, for the greater part Arabs, in order to crush the Turks. In the year of his elevation to the Caliphate, he had regulated the succession to the empire in his own family by designating as future caliphs his three sons, al-Montaṣir billāh (“he who seeks help in God”), al-Mo’tazz billāh (“he whose strength is of God”), and al-Mowayyad billāh (“he who is assisted by God”). By and by he conceived an aversion to his eldest son, and wished to supplant him by Motazz, the son of his favourite wife Qabīha. The day had been fixed on which Montasir, Waṣīf and several other Turkish generals were to be assassinated. But Waṣīf and Montasir had been informed, and resolved to anticipate him. In the night before, Shawwāl A.H. 247 (December 861), Motawakkil, after one of his wonted orgies, was murdered, together with his confidant, Fatḥ b. Khāqān. The official report, promulgated by his successor, was that Fatḥ b. Khāqān had murdered his master and had been punished for it by death. For the administrative system in this reign see Mahommedan Institutions.
11. Reign of Montasir.—On the very night of his father’s assassination Montasir had himself proclaimed caliph. He was a man of very feeble character, and a mere puppet in the hands of his vizier Ahmad b. Khaṣīb and the Turkish generals. He was compelled to send Wasif, the personal enemy of Ibn Khaṣīb, to the frontier for a term of four years, and then to deprive his two brothers Motazz and Mowayyad, who were not agreeable to them, of their right of succession. He died six months after, by poison, it is said.
12. Reign of Mostaʽīn.—The Turkish soldiery, now the chief power in the state, chose, by the advice of Ibn Khaṣīb, in succession to Montasir, his cousin Ahmad, who took the title of al-Mostaʽīn billāh (“he who looks for help to God”). In the reign of this feeble prince the Greeks inflicted serious losses on the Moslems in Asia Minor. A great many volunteers from all parts, who offered their services, were hunted down as rioters by the Turkish generals, who were wholly absorbed by their own interests. The party which had placed Mostaʽīn on the throne, led by Ibn Khaṣīb and Otāmish, were soon overpowered by Waṣīf and Boghā. Ibn Khaṣīb was banished to Crete, Otāmish murdered. The superior party, however, maintained Mostaʽīn on the throne, because they feared lest Motazz should take vengeance upon them for the murder of his father Motawakkil. But in the year 865 Waṣīf and Boghā fled with Mostaʽīn to Bagdad, and Motazz was proclaimed caliph at Sāmarrā. A terrible war ensued; Mostaʽīn was obliged to abdicate, and was killed in the following year.
In 864 a descendant of Ali, named Hasan b. Zaid, gained possession of Tabaristan and occupied the great city of Rai (Rey) near Teheran. A year later the province was reconquered by the Ṭāhirid governor of Khorasan, so that Hasan was obliged to retreat for refuge to the land of the Dailam. But he returned soon, and after many reverses ruled over Tabaristan and Jorjān for many years.
13. Reign of Motazz.—Motazz, proclaimed caliph at Bagdad in the first month of 252 (January 866), devoted himself to the object of freeing himself from the omnipotent Turkish generals, especially Waṣīf and Boghā, who had opposed his election. But such a task demanded an ability and energy which he did not possess. He was obliged to grant them amnesty and to recall them to Sāmarrā. He mistrusted also his brothers Mowayyad and Mowaffaq, who had interceded for them. He put the former to death and drove the latter into exile to Bagdad. Some time after he had the satisfaction of seeing Waṣīf killed by his own troops, and succeeded, a year later, in having Boghā assassinated. But a more difficult problem was the payment of the Turkish, Persian and African guards, which was said to have amounted in A.H. 252 to 200,000,000 dirhems (about £6,500,000), or apparently twice the revenue derived from the land tax. As the provincial revenues annually decreased, it became impossible to pay this sum, and Ṣāliḥ the son of Waṣīf, in spite of the remonstrances of the caliph, confiscated the property of state officials. Upon a further demand, Motazz, having failed to procure money from his mother Qabīha, who was enormously rich, was seized upon and tortured, and died of starvation in prison (Shaaban 255, July 868).
The dismemberment of the empire continued fast in these years, and the caliph was compelled to recognize the virtual independence of the governors Yaʽqūb the Saffārid (see Saffārids and Persia, History, § B) in Seistan, and Ahmad b. Tūlūn in Egypt.
14. Reign of Mohtadī.—Immediately after the seizure of Motazz, the Turks, led by Ṣāliḥ b. Waṣīf, proclaimed as caliph one of the sons of Wāthiq with the title of al-Mohtadī billāh (“the guided by God”), who, however, refused to occupy the throne until his predecessor had solemnly abdicated. Mohtadī, who was a man of noble and generous spirit and had no lack of energy, began by applying the precarious measure of power which was left him to the reform of the court. He banished the musicians and singers, and forbade all kinds of games; he devoted himself to the administration of justice, and gave public audiences to the people for the redress of their grievances. At the same time he contrived to elevate the power of the Abnā, the descendants of those Persian soldiers who had established the dynasty of the Abbasids, in order to break the supremacy of the Turks and other mercenaries. But Mohtadī came too late, and the Turks did not leave him time to finish his work.
On the news of the conspiracy against Motazz, Mūsā, the son of the famous general Boghā, then governor of Media (Jabal), ordered his deputy-general Mofliḥ to return at once from a proposed invasion of Dailam, and moved with his army towards Sāmarrā, notwithstanding the peremptory orders of the caliph. At his approach Ṣāliḥ, who was afraid of Mūsā, hid himself, but was soon discovered and killed. At that moment a Kharijite, named Mosāwir, who in 867 had risen in Mesopotamia and beaten more than one general of the government, took Balad and menaced Mosūl. Mūsā could not refuse to comply with the formal command of the caliph to march against him. During the absence of these troops, Mohtadī seems to have tried to get rid of the principal Turkish leaders. A brother of Musa and one of his best generals, Bāyikbeg (Baiekbāk), were killed, but the soldiery he had gained over for himself were not strong enough. Mohtadī was overwhelmed and killed, Rajab 256 (June 870).
15. Reign of Motamid.—Whether from weariness or from repentance, the Turkish soldiery discontinued for a time their hateful excesses, and their new leader, Mūsā b. Boghā, was without the greed and ambition of his predecessors. A son of Motawakkil was brought out of prison to succeed his cousin, and reigned for twenty-three years under the name of al-Moʽtamid ʽalā’llāh (“he whose support is God”). He was a feeble, pleasure-loving monarch, but Mohtadī had regained for the Caliphate some authority, which was exercised by Obaidallah b. Khāqān, the able vizier of Mohtadī, and by Motamid’s talented brother Abū Ahmad al-Mowaffaq; Mūsā b. Boghā himself remained till his death a staunch servant of the government. During the reign of Motamid great events took place. The great power long wielded by the Ṭāhirids, not only in the eastern provinces, but also at Bagdad itself, had been gradually diminishing, and came to an end in the year 873, when Yaʽqūb the Saffārid occupied Nīshāpur and imprisoned Mahommed b. Ṭāhir with his whole family. The power of Yaʽqūb then increased to such an extent that he was not content with the caliph’s offer to recognize him as supreme in the provinces he had conquered, and military governor of Bagdad, but marched against Irak. The caliph himself, wearing the mantle and the staff of the Prophet, then went out against him, and after a vigorous resistance he was beaten by Mowaffaq, who had the command of the troops, and fled to Jondisāpūr in Khūzistān, where he died three years later, leaving his empire to his brother ʽAmr. This prince maintained himself in power till the year 900, when he was beaten and taken prisoner by Ismāʽīl b. Ahmed the Sāmānid. The Sāmānids had been governors of Transoxiana from the time of Mamun, and after the fall of the Ṭāhirids, had been confirmed in this office by the caliph. After 287 (900) they were independent princes, and under their dominion these districts attained to high prosperity.
Motamid had also to deal with a rising of the negro slaves in the province of Basra, led by one Ali b. Mahommed, who called himself a descendant of Ali. It lasted from 869 to 883, and tasked the government to its utmost.
In the west, Ahmad b. Tūlūn became a mighty prince, whose sway extended over Syria and a part of Mesopotamia. Motamid, who wished to free himself from the guardianship of his brother Mowaffaq, concerted with him a plan to emigrate to Egypt, Ahmad being himself angered against Mowaffaq on personal grounds. Motamid’s flight was stopped by his vizier Ibn Makhlad, and the caliph himself was reconducted to Sāmarrā as a prisoner in the year 882. From that time there was war between the Abbasids and the Ṭūlūnids. Ahmad died in 270 (884). His son Khomārūya succeeded him, and maintained himself in power till his death in 896, in which year his daughter was married to the caliph Motadid. Ten years later Egypt was conquered by a general of the caliph Moktafī.
During the reign of Motamid the emperor Basil I. conducted the war against the Moslems with great success, till in the year 270 (A.D. 884) his army suffered a terrible defeat near Tarsus, in which the greater part of the army, the commander Andreas, and many other patricians perished.
Motamid had appointed his son al-Mofawwid as successor to the Caliphate, and after him his brother Mowaffaq. When the latter died in the year 891, his son Aḅū ʽl-ʽAbbās, al-Moʽtaḍid (“he who seeks his support in God”), was put in his place. Next year Mofawwid was compelled to abdicate in favour of his cousin. Shortly after Motamid died, Rajab 279 (October 892). Not long before these events, the seat of the Caliphate had been restored to Bagdad.
16. Reign of Motadid.—Motadid may be called, after Mansūr, the most able and energetic of all the Abbasid rulers. He took good care of the finances, reformed the administration, was an excellent commander in war, and maintained order as far as possible. The Kharijites in Mesopotamia, who for many years had molested the government, were finally crushed with the aid of their former ally Ḥamdān, who became the founder of the well-known dynasty of the Ḥamdānites. The mighty house of Abū Dolaf in the south-west of Media, which had never ceased to encroach on the Caliphate, was put down. The governor of Azerbaijan and Armenia, belonging to the powerful Turkish house of the Sājids or Sājites, whose loyalty was always doubtful, planned an invasion of Syria and Egypt. Motadid frustrated it by a quick movement. The citizens of Tarsus who were involved in the plot were severely punished. The chief punishment, however, the burning of the fleet, was a very impolitic measure, as it strengthened the hands of the Byzantines.
Almost simultaneously with the rising of the negro slaves in Basra there arose in the province of Kūfa the celebrated sect of the Carmathians (q.v.), Fātimites or Ismaʽilites. This powerful sect, which save for a difference of opinion would have joined the negro rising, remained outwardly quiet during Motamid’s reign, but under Motadid the government began to have misgivings about them. Abū Saʽīd al-Jannābī, who had founded a Carmathian state in Bahrein, the north-eastern province of Arabia (actually called Laḥsā), which could become dangerous for the pilgrim road as well as for the commerce of Basra, in the year 900 routed an army sent against him by Motadid, and warned the caliph that it would be safer to let the Carmathians alone. In the same year the real chief of the sect, whose abode had been discovered by the caliph, fled from Salamia in Syria, where he lived, to Africa, and hid himself at Sijilmāsa (in Tafilalt) in the far west, whence he reappeared ten years later at Kairawan as the Mahdi, the first caliph of the Fatimites.
Motadid died in Rabia II. A.H. 289 (March 902), leaving the Caliphate to his son al-Moktāfī billāh (“he who sufficeth himself in God”).
17. Reign of Moktafi.—Moktafi inherited his father’s intrepidity, and seems to have had high personal qualities, but his reign of six years was a constant struggle against the Carmathians in Syria, who defeated the Syrian and Egyptian troops, and conquered Damascus and other cities. Moktafi led his troops in person, and his general, Mahommed b. Suleimān, gained a signal victory. Three of their chiefs were taken and put to death. But, to avenge their defeat, they lay in wait for the great pilgrim caravan on its return from Mecca in the first days of 294 (906), and massacred 20,000 pilgrims, making an immense booty. This horrible crime raised the whole Moslem world against them. Zikrūya their chief was defeated at last and perished.
After the defeat of the Syrian Carmathians, Mahommed b. Suleimān was sent by the caliph to Egypt, where he overthrew the dominion of the Tūlūnids. ʽĪsā b. Mahommed al-Naushari was made governor in their stead (905).
The war with the Byzantines was conducted with great energy during the reign of Moktafi. In the year 905 the Greek general Andronicus took Marash, and penetrated as far as Haleb (Aleppo), but the Moslems were successful at sea, and in 907 captured Iconium, whilst Andronicus went over to the caliph’s side, so that the Byzantine emperor sent an embassy to Bagdad to ask for a truce and an exchange of prisoners.
18. Reign of Moqtadir.—The sudden death of Moktafi, Dhuʽl-qaʽda 295 (August 908), was a fatal blow to the prestige of the Caliphate, which had revived under the successive governments of Mowaffaq, Motadid and himself. The new caliph, al-Moqtadir billāh (“the powerful through God”), a brother of Moktafi, was only thirteen years of age when he ascended the throne. Owing to his extreme youth many of the leading men at Bagdad rebelled and swore allegiance to Abdallah, son of the former caliph Motazz, a man of excellent character and of great poetical gifts; but the party of the house of Motadid prevailed, and the rival caliph was put to death. Moqtadir, though not devoid of noble qualities, allowed himself to be governed by his mother and her ladies and eunuchs. He began by squandering the 15,000,000 dinars which were in the treasury when his brother died in largesses to his courtiers, who, however, merely increased their demands. His very able vizier, the noble and disinterested Ali b. ʽĪsā, tried to check this foolish expenditure, but his efforts were more than counterbalanced by the vizier Ibn abi’l-Forāt and the court. The most shameless bribery and the robbery of the well-to-do went together with the most extravagant luxury. The twenty-four years of Moqtadir’s reign are a period of rapid decay. The most important event in the reign was the foundation of the Fātimite dynasty, which reigned first in the Maghrib and then in Egypt for nearly three centuries (see Fatimites and Egypt: History (§ “Mahommedan”).
Far more dangerous, however, for the Caliphate of Bagdad at the time were the Carmathians of Bahrein, then guided by Abu Ṭāhir, the son of Abu Saʽīd Jannābi. In 311 (A.D. 923) they took and ransacked Basra; in the first month of the following year the great pilgrim caravan on its return from Mecca was overpowered; 2500 men perished, while an even larger number were made prisoners and brought to Lahsā, the residence of the Carmathian princes, together with an immense booty. The caravan which left Bagdad towards the end of this year returned in all haste before it had covered a third of the way. Then Kufa underwent the fate that had befallen Basra. In 313 (A.D. 926) the caravan was allowed to pass on payment of a large sum of money. The government of Bagdad resolved to crush the Carmathians, but a large army was utterly defeated by Abu Ṭāhir in 315 (927), and Bagdad was seriously threatened. Next year Mecca was taken and plundered; even the sacred Black Stone was transported to Lahsā, where it remained till 339 (950), when by the express order of the Imām, the Fātimite caliph, it was restored to the Kaʽba.
In 317 (929) a conspiracy was formed to dethrone Moqtadir, to which Mūnis, the chief commander of the army, at first assented, irritated by false reports. Very soon he withdrew, and though he could not prevent the plundering of the palace, and the proclamation as caliph of another son of Motadid with the title al-Qāhir billāh (“the victorious through God”), he rescued Moqtadir and his mother, and at the same time his imprisoned friend Ali b. ʽĪsā, and brought them to his own house. A few days later, a counter-revolution took place; the leaders of the revolt were killed, and Moqtadir, against his wish, was replaced on the throne. In 320 (A.D. 932) Mūnis, discovering a court intrigue against him, set out for Mosul, expecting that the Hamdānids, who owed to him their power, would join him. Instead of doing this, they opposed him with a numerous army, but were defeated. Mūnis took Mosul, and having received reinforcements from all parts, marched against Bagdad. The caliph, who wished nothing more than to be reconciled to his old faithful servant, was forced to take arms against him, and fell in battle Shawwāl 320 (October 932), at the age of 38 years. His reign, which lasted almost twenty-five years, was in all respects injurious to the empire.
19. Reign of Qāhir.—After the victory Mūnis acted with great moderation and proclaimed a general amnesty. His own wish was to call Abu Ahmad, a son of Moktafi, or a son of Moqtadir, to the Caliphate, but the majority of generals preferring Qāhir because he was an adult man and had no mother at his side, he acquiesced, although he had a personal dislike for him, knowing his selfish and cruel character. Qāhir was a drunkard, and derived the money for his excesses from promiscuous confiscation. He ill-treated the sons of Moqtadir and Abu Ahmad, and ultimately assassinated his patrons Mūnis and Yalbak, whose guardianship he resented. In Jomada I. 322 (April 934) he was dethroned and blinded, and died in poverty seven years later.
During the last years of Moqtadir and the reign of Qāhir a new dynasty rose. Būya, the chief of a clan of the Dailam, a warlike people who inhabit the mountainous country south-west of the Caspian Sea, had served under the Sāmānids, and found a footing in the south of Media (Jabal), whence his three sons—well known under the titles they assumed at a later period: ʽImād addaula (“prop of the dynasty”), Rokn addaula (“pillar of the dynasty”), and Moʽizz addaula (“strengthener of the dynasty”)—succeeded in subduing the province of Fārs, at the time of Qāhir’s dethronement (see Persia: History).
20. Reign of Radi.—Moqtadir’s son, who was then proclaimed caliph under the name of ar-Rādī billāh (“the content through God”), was pious and well-meaning, but inherited only the shadow of power. The vizier Ibn Moqla tried to maintain his authority at least in Irak and Mesopotamia, but without success. The treasury was exhausted, the troops asked for pay, the people in Bagdad were riotous. In this extremity the caliph bade Ibn Rāiq, who had made himself master of Basra and Wāsit, and had command of money and men, to come to his help. He created for him the office of Amīr al-Omarā, “Amir of the Amirs,” which nearly corresponds to that of Mayor of the Palace among the Franks. Thenceforth the worldly power of the Caliphate was a mere shadow. The empire was by this time practically reduced to the province of Bagdad; Khorasan and Transoxiana were in the hands of the Sāmānids, Fārs in those of the Būyids; Kirman and Media were under independent sovereigns; the Hāmdānids possessed Mesopotamia; the Sājids Armenia and Azerbaijan; the Ikshīdites Egypt; as we have seen, the Fātimites Africa, the Carmathians Arabia. The Amir al-Omarā was obliged to purchase from the latter the freedom of the pilgrimage to Mecca, at the price of a disgraceful treaty.
During the troubles of the Caliphate the Byzantines had made great advances; they had even taken Malatia and Samosata (Samsat). But the great valour of the Hamdanid prince Saif-addaula checked their march. The Greek army suffered two severe defeats and sued for peace.
21. Reign of Mottaqi.—Radi died in Rabia I. A.H. 329 (December 940). Another son of Moqtadir was then proclaimed caliph under the name of al-Mottaqī billāh (“he who guards himself by God”). At the time of his accession the Amīr al-Omarā was the Turkish general Bajkam, in whose favour Ibn Rāiq had been obliged to retire. Unfortunately Bajkam died soon after, and his death was followed by general anarchy. A certain Barīdī, who had carved out for himself a principality in the province of Basra, marched against Bagdad and made himself master of the capital, but was soon driven out by the Dailamite general Kūrtakīn. Ibn Rāiq came back and reinstated himself as Amīr al-Omarā. But Barīdī again laid siege to Bagdad, and Mottaqi fled to Nāsir addaula the Hamdānid prince of Mosul, who then marched against Bagdad, and succeeded in repelling Barīdī. In return he obtained the office of Amīr al-Omarā. But the Dailamite and Turkish soldiery did not suffer him to keep this office longer than several months. Tūzūn, a former captain of Bajkam, compelled him to return to Mosul and took his place. Mottaqi fled again to Mosul and thence to Rakka. The Ikshīd, sovereign of Egypt and Syria, offered him a refuge, but Tūzūn, fearing to see the caliph obtain such powerful support, found means to entice him to his tent, and had his eyes put out, Saphar 333 (October 944).
22. Reign of Mostakfi.—As successor Tūzūn chose al-Mostakfī billāh (“he who finds full sufficiency with God”), a son of Moktafi. This prince, still more than his predecessors, was a mere puppet in the hands of Tūzūn, who died a few months later, and his successor Ibn Shīrzād. Such was the weakness of the caliph that a notorious robber, named Hamdī, obtained immunity for his depredations by a monthly payment of 25,000 dinars. One of the Būyid princes, whose power had been steadily increasing, marched about this time against Bagdad, which he entered in Jomada I. A.H. 334 (December 945), and was acknowledged by the caliph as legal sovereign, under the title of Sultan. He assumed at this time the name of Moʽizz addaula. Mostakfi was soon weary of this new master, and plotted against him. At least Moʽizz addaula suspected him and deprived him of his eyesight, Jomada II. A.H. 334 (January 946). There were thus in Bagdad three caliphs who had been dethroned and blinded, Qāhir, Mottaqi and Mostakfi.
23. Reign of Moti.—Moʽizz addaula soon abandoned his original idea of restoring the title of caliph to one of the descendants of Ali, fearing a strong opposition of the people, and also dreading lest this should lead to the recovery by the caliphs of their former supremacy. His choice fell on a son of Moqtadir, who took the title of al-Motiʽ billāh (“he who obeys God”). The sultan, reserving to himself all the powers and revenues of the Caliphate, allowed the caliph merely a secretary and a pension of 5000 dirhems a day. Though in public prayers and on the coins the name of the caliph remained as that of the supreme authority, he had in reality no authority out of the palace, so that the saying became proverbial, “he contents himself with sermon and coin.”
The Hamdānid prince of Mosul, who began to think his possessions threatened by Moʽizz addaula, tried without success to wrest Bagdad from him, and was obliged to submit to the payment of tribute. He died in 358 (A.D. 969), and ten years later the power of this branch of the Hamdanids came to an end. The representative of the other branch, Saif addaula, the prince of Haleb (Aleppo), conducted the war against the Byzantines with great valour till his death in 356 (A.D. 967), but could not stop the progress of the enemy. His descendants maintained themselves, but with very limited power, till A.H. 413 (A.D. 1022).
Moʽizz addaula died in the same year as Saif addaula, leaving his power to his son Bakhtiyār ʽIzz addaula, who lacked his father’s energy and loved pleasure more than business.
While the Abbāsid dynasty was thus dying out in shame and degradation, the Fātimites, in the person of Moʽizz li-dīn–allah (or Moʽizz Abu Tamin Maʽadd) (“he who makes God’s religion victorious”), were reaching the highest degree of power and glory in spite of the opposition of the Carmathians, who left their old allegiance and entered into negotiations with the court of Bagdad, offering to drive back the Fātimites, on condition of being assisted with money and troops, and of being rewarded with the government of Syria and Egypt. The former condition was granted, but the caliph emphatically refused the latter demand, saying: “Both parties are Carmathians, they profess the same religion and are enemies of Islam.” The Carmathians drove the Fātimites out of Syria, and threatened Egypt, but, notwithstanding their intrepidity, they were not able to cope with their powerful rival, who, however, in his turn could not bring them to submission. In 978–979 peace was made on condition that the Carmathians should evacuate Syria for an annual payment of 70,000 dinars. But the losses sustained by the Carmathians during that struggle had been enormous. Their power henceforward declined, and came to an end in A.H. 474 (A.D. 1081).
Moʽizz addaula, as we have seen, professed a great veneration for the house of Ali. He not only caused the mourning for the death of Hosain and other Shiʽite festivals to be celebrated at Bagdad, but also allowed imprecations against Moawiya and even against Mahomet’s wife Ayesha and the caliphs Abu Bekr, Omar and Othman, to be posted up at the doors of the mosques. These steps annoyed the people and the Turkish soldiery, who were Sunnites, and led at last to an insurrection. Moti was compelled to abdicate, and Bakhtiyār was driven out of Bagdad Dhuʽl-qaʽda 363 (August 974).
24. Reign of Tai.—Moti left the empty title of caliph to his son al-Tāʽi li-amri’llāh (“the obedient to the command of God”). The Turks who had placed him on the throne could not maintain themselves, but so insignificant was the person of the caliph that ʽAdod addaula, who succeeded his cousin Bakhtiyār in Bagdad, did not think of replacing him by another. Under this prince, or king, as he was called, the power of the Būyids reached its zenith. His empire stretched from the Caspian to the Persian Sea, and in the west to the eastern frontier of Syria. He did his best to remedy the misery caused by the intestine Wars, repaired the ruined mosques and other public edifices, founded hospitals and libraries—his library in Shirāz was one of the wonders of the world—and improved irrigation. It was also he who built the mausoleum of Hosain at Kerbela, and that of Ali at Kufa. But after his death in the year 372 (A.D. 983), his sons, instead of following the example of their predecessors, the three sons of Būya, fought one against the other. In 380 (A.D. 990) the youngest of them, Bahā addaula, had the upper hand. This prince, who was as avaricious as he was ambitious, wishing to deprive the caliph Taʽi of his possessions, compelled him to abdicate A.H. 381 (A.D. 991).
25. Reign of Qādir.—A grandson of Moqtadir was then made caliph under the name of al-Qādir billāh (“the powerful through God”). The only deed of power, however, that is recorded of him, is that he opposed himself to the substitution of a Shiʽite head cadi for the Sunnite, so that Bahā addaula had to content himself with giving to the Shiʽites a special judge, to whom he gave the title of naqīb (superintendent). During this caliphate the Būyid princes were in continual war with one another. Meanwhile events were preparing the fall of their dynasty. In 350 (A.D. 961) a Turkish general of the Sāmānids had founded for himself a principality in Ghazni, arid at his death in 366 (A.D. 976) his successor Sabuktagin had conquered Bost in Sijistān and Qosdār in Baluchistan, beaten the Indian prince Diaya Pala, and been acknowledged as master of the lands west of the Indus. At his death in 387 his son Mahmud conquered the whole of Khorasan and Sijistān, with a great part of India. He then attacked the Būyids, and would have destroyed their dynasty but for his death in the year 421 (A.D. 1030).
In 389 (A.D. 999) Ilek-khān, the prince of Turkistan, took Bokhārā and made an end to the glorious state of the Sāmānids, the last prince of which was murdered in 395 (A.D. 1005). The Sāmānids had long been a rampart of the Caliphate against the Turks, whom they held under firm control. From their fall dates the invasion of the empire by that people. The greatest gainer for the moment was Mahmūd of Ghazni. In Mesopotamia and Irak several petty states arose on the ruins of the dominions of the Hamdānids and of the Abbasids.
Qādir died in the last month of A.H. 422 (November 1031). He is the author of some theological treatises.
26. Reign of Qāim.—He was succeeded by his son, who at his accession took the title of al-Qāim bi-amri’llāh (“he who maintains the cause of God”). During the first half of his long reign took place the development of the power of the Ghūzz, a great Turkish tribe, who took the name Seljuk from Seljuk their chief in Transoxiana. Already during the reign of Mahmūd large bodies had passed the Oxus and spread over Khorasan and the adjacent countries. In the time of his successor the bulk of the tribe followed, and in the year 429 (A.D. 1038) Toghrul Beg, their chief, beat the army of the Ghaznevids and made his entry into Nishapur. Thenceforth this progress was rapid (see Seljuks). The situation in Bagdad had become so desperate that the caliph called Toghrul to his aid. This prince entered Bagdad in the month of Ramadan A.H. 447 (December 1055), and overthrew finally the dynasty of the Būyids. In 449 (A.D. 1058) the caliph gave him the title of “King of the East and West.” But in the following year, 450, during his absence, the Shiʽites made themselves masters of the metropolis, and proclaimed the Caliphate of the Fātimite prince Mostansir. They were soon overthrown by Toghrul, who was now supreme, and compelled the caliph to give him his daughter in marriage. Before the marriage, however, he died, and was succeeded by his nephew Alp Arslān, who died in 465 (25th December) (A.D. 1072). Qāim died two years later, Shaaban A.H. 467 (April 1075).
In the year 440 Moʽizz b. Bādīs, the Zeirid ruler of the Maghrib, made himself independent, and substituted in prayer the name of the Abbasid caliph for that of Mostansir. In order to punish him, the latter gave permission to the Arab tribes in Egypt to cross the Nile, and granted them possession of all the lands they should conquer. This happened in 442 (A.D. 1050) and was of the greatest significance for the subsequent fate of Africa.
27. Reign of Moqtadi.—In the first year of the Caliphate of al-Moqtadī bi-amri’llāh (“he who follows the orders of God”), a grandson of Qāim, the power of the Seljuk empire reached its zenith. All the eastern provinces, a great part of Asia Minor, Syria with the exception of a few towns on the shore, the main part of West Africa acknowledged the caliph of Bagdad as the Imām. Yemen had been subjected, and at Mecca and Medina his name was substituted in the public prayers for that of the Fātimite caliph. But after the death of Malik-Shah a contest for the sultanate took place. The caliph, who had in 1087 married the daughter of Malik-Shah, had been compelled two years after to send her back to her father, as she complained of being neglected by her husband. Just before his death, the Sultan had ordered him to transfer his residence from Bagdad to Basra. After his death he stayed and supported the princess Turkān Khātūn. This lost him his life. The day after Barki-yāroq’s triumphant entry into Bagdad, Muharram 487 (February 1094), he died suddenly, apparently by poison.
28. Reign of Mostazhir.—Al-Mostazhir billāh (“he who seeks to triumph through God”), son of Moqtadi, was only sixteen years old when he was proclaimed caliph. His reign is memorable chiefly for the growing power of the Assassins (q.v.) and for the first Crusade (see Crusades). The Seljuk princes were too much absorbed by internal strife to concentrate against the new assailants. After the death of Barkiyāroq in November 1104, his brother Mahommed reigned till April 1118. His death was followed about four months later by that of Mostazhir.
29. Reign of Mostarshid.—Al-Mostarshid billāh (“he who asks guidance from God”), who succeeded his father in Rabia II. 512 (August 1118), distinguished himself by a vain attempt to re-establish the power of the caliph. Towards the end of the year 529 (October 1134) he was compelled to promise that he would confine himself to his palace and never again take the field. Not long after he was assassinated. About the same time Dobais was killed, a prince of the family of the Banu Mazyad, who had founded the Arabian state of Hillah in the vicinity of the ruins of Babel in 1102.
30. Reign of Rāshid.—Al-Rāshid billāh (“the just through God”) tried to follow the steps of his father, with the aid of Zengī, the prince of Mosul. But the sultan Masʽūd beat the army of the allies, took Bagdad and had Rāshid deposed (August 1136). Rāshid escaped, but was murdered two years later.
31. Reign of Moqtafi.—His successor Al-Moqtafi li-amri’llāh (“he who follows the orders of God”), son of Mostazhir, had better success. He was real ruler not only of the district of Bagdad, but also of the rest of Irak, which he subdued by force. He died in the month of Rabia II. 555 (March 1160). Under his reign the central power of the Seljuks was rapidly sinking. In the west of Atabeg (prince’s guardian) Zengī, the prince of Mosul, had extended his dominion over Mesopotamia and the north of Syria, where he had been the greatest defender of Islam against the Franks. At his death in the year 541 (A.D. 1146), his noble son, the well-known Nūreddīn, who was called “the just king,” continued his father’s glorious career. Transoxiana was conquered by the heathen hordes of Khatā, who towards the end of 535 (A.D. 1141) under the king Ghurkhān defeated the great army of the Seljuk prince and compelled the Turkish tribes of the Ghuzz to cross the Oxus and to occupy Khorasan.
32. Reign of Mostanjid.—Al-Mostanjid billāh (“he who invokes help from God”), the son of Moqtafi, enlarged the dominion of the Caliphate by making an end to the state of the Mazyadites in Hillah. His allies were the Arabic tribe of the Montafiq, who thenceforth were powerful in southern Irak. The greatest event towards the end of his Caliphate was the conquest of Egypt by the army of Nūreddīn, the overthrow of the Fātimite dynasty, and the rise of Saladin. He was killed by his majordomo in Rabia II. 566 (December 1170).
33. Reign of Mostadi.—His son and successor al-Mostadī’ bi-amri’llāh (“he who seeks enlightenment by the orders of God “), though in Egypt his name was now substituted in public prayers for that of the Fātimite caliph, was unable to obtain any real authority. By the death of Nūreddīn in 569 (A.D. 1174) Saladin’s power became firmly rooted. The dynasty founded by him is called that of the Ayyūbites, after the name of his father Ayyūb. Mostadi died in the month of Dhuʽl-qaʽda 575 (March 1180).
34. Reign of Nāsir.—Quite a different man from his father was his successor al-Nāsir li-dīni’llāh (“he who helps the religion of God”). During his reign Jerusalem was reconquered by Saladin, 27 Rajab 583 (October 2nd, 1187). Not long before that event the well-known Spanish traveller Ibn Jubair visited the empire of Saladin, and came to Bagdad in 580, where he saw the caliph himself. Nāsir was very ambitious; he had added Khūzistān to his dominions, and desired to become also master of Media (Jabal, or Persian Irak, as it was called in the time of the Seljuks). Here, however, he came into conflict with the then mighty prince of Khwārizm (Khīva), who, already exasperated because the caliph refused to grant him the honours he asked for, resolved to overthrow the Caliphate of the Abbasids, and to place a descendant of Ali on the throne of Bagdad. In his anxiety, Nāsir took a step which brought the greatest misery upon western Asia, or at least accelerated its arrival.
In the depths of Asia a great conglomeration of east Turkish tribes (Tatars or Mongols), formed by a terrible warrior, known under his honorific title Jenghiz Khān, had conquered the northern provinces of China, and extended its power to the frontiers of the Transoxianian regions. To this heathen chief the Imām of the Moslems sent a messenger, inducing him to attack the prince of Khwārizm, who already had provoked the Mongolian by a disrespectful treatment of his envoys. Neither he nor the caliph had the slightest notion of the imminent danger they conjured up. When Nāsir died, Ramadan 622 (October 1225), the eastern provinces of the empire had been trampled down by the wild hordes, the towns burned, and the inhabitants killed without mercy.
35. Reign of Zāhir.—Al-Zāhir bi-amri’llāh (“the victorious through the orders of God”) died within a year after his father’s death, in Rajab 623 (July 1226). He and his son and successor are praised as beneficent and just princes.
36. Reign of Mostansir.—Al-Mostansir billāh (“he who asks help from God”) was caliph till his death in Jornada II. 640 (December 1242). In the year 624 (1227) Jenghiz Khān died, but the Mongol invasion continued to advance with immense strides. The only man who dared, and sometimes with success, to combat them was Jelaleddin, the ex-king of Khwārizm, but after his death in 628 (A.D. 1231) all resistance was paralysed.
37. Reign of Mostasim.—Al-Mostaʽṣim billāh (“he who clings to God for protection”), son of Mostansir, the last caliph of Bagdad, was a narrow-minded, irresolute man, guided moreover by bad counsellors. In the last month of the year 653 (January 1256) Hulaku or Hulagu, the brother of the gteat khān of the Mongols, crossed the Oxus, and began by destroying all the strongholds of the Ismā’īlīs. Then the turn of Bagdad came. On the 11th of Muharram 656 (January 1258) Hulaku arrived under the walls of the capital. In vain did Mostasim sue for peace. Totally devoid of dignity and heroism, he ended by surrendering and imploring mercy from the barbarian victor. On the 4th of Saphar (February 10th) he came with his retinue into the camp. The city was then given up to plunder and slaughter; many public buildings were burnt; the caliph, after having been compelled to bring forth all the hidden treasures of the family, was killed with two of his sons and many relations. With him expired the eastern Caliphate of the Abbasids, which had lasted 524 years, from the entry of Abuʽl-Abbas into Kufa.
In vain, three years later, did Abu’l-Qasim Ahmad, a scion of the race of the Abbasids, who had taken refuge in Egypt with Bibars the Mameluke sultan, and who had been proclaimed caliph under the title al-Mostanṣir billāh (“he who seeks help from God”), make an effort to restore a dynasty which was now for ever extinct. At the head of an army he marched against Bagdad, but was defeated and killed before he reached that city. Then another descendant of the Abbasids, who also had found an asylum in Egypt, was proclaimed caliph at Cairo under the name of al-Hākim bi-amri’llāh (“he who decides according to the orders of God”). His sons inherited his title, but, like their father, remained in Egypt without power or influence (see Egypt: History, “Mahommedan period”). This shadow of sovereignty continued to exist till the conquest of Egypt by the Turkish sultan Selim I., who compelled the last of them, Motawakkil, to abdicate in his favour (see Turkey: History). He died at Cairo, a pensionary of the Ottoman government, in 1538.
Another scion of the Abbasid family, Mahommed, a great-grandson of the caliph Mostansir, found at a later period a refuge in India, where the sultan of Delhi received him with the greatest respect, named him Makhdumzādeh, “the Master’s son,” and treated him as a prince. Ibn Batūta saw him when he visited India, and says that he was very avaricious. On his return to Bagdad the traveller found there a young man, son of this prince, who gained a single dirhem daily for serving as imām in a mosque, and did not get the least relief from his rich father. It seems that this Mahommed, or his son, emigrated later to Sumatra, where in the old Samūtra the graves of their descendants have been lately discovered. (M. J. de G.)
- Throughout this article, well-known names of persons and places appear in their most familiar forms, generally without accents or other diacritical signs. For the sake of homogeneity the articles on these persons or places are also given under these forms, but in such cases, the exact forms, according to the system of transliteration adopted, are there given in addition.
- See Nöldeke, Beiträge zur Kenntniss der Poesie der alten Araber (1864), pp. 89 seq.
- De Goeje, Mémoires d’hist. et de géog. orient. No. 2 (2nd ed., Leiden, 1864); Nöldeke, D.M.Z., 1875, p. 76 sqq.; Balādhurī 137.
- The accounts differ; see Balādhurī 305. The chronology of the conquests is in many points uncertain.
- Balādhurī 315 sq.; Tabarī i. 1068.
- He sought to make the whole nation a great host of God; the Arabs were to be soldiers and nothing else. They were forbidden to acquire landed estates in the conquered countries; all land was either made state property or was restored to the old owners subject to a perpetual tribute which provided pay on a splendid scale for the army.
- Nöldeke, Tabari, 246. To Omar is due also the establishment of the Era of the Flight (Hegira).
- Even in the list of the slain at the battle of Honain the Emigrants are enumerated along with the Meccans and Koreish, and distinguished from the men of Medina.
- It was the same opposition of the spiritual to the secular nobility that afterwards showed itself in the revolt of the sacred cities against the Omayyads. The movement triumphed with the elevation of the Abbasids to the throne. But, that the spiritual nobility was fighting not for principle but for personal advantage was as apparent in Ali’s hostilities against Zobair and Ṭalḥa, as in that of the Abbasids against the followers of Ali.
- Or, at least, so they thought. The history of the letter to ʽAbdallah b. abī Sarḥ seems to have been a trick played on the caliph, who suspected Ali of having had a hand in it.
- Maʽad is in the genealogical system the father of the Moḑar and the Rabʽīa tribes. Qais is the principal branch of the Moḑar.
- The Arabs always call them Rūm, i.e. Romans.
- A single genealogist, Abu Yaqazān, says that he was a legitimate son of Abu Sofiān, and that his mother was Asmā, daughter of A’war. But all others call his mother Somayya, who is said to have been a slave-girl of Hind, the wife of Abu Sofiān, and who became later also the mother of Abu Bakra. We cannot make out whether Abu Sofiān acknowledged him as his son or not. At a later period, the Abbasid caliph Mahdi had the names of Ziyād and his descendants struck off the rolls of the Koreish; but, after his death, the persons concerned gained over the chief of the rolls office, and had their names replaced in the lists (see Tabari iii. 479).
- Aghāni xx. p. 13, Ibn abi Osaibia i. p. 118.
- Tabari ii. p. 82.
- See Chodzko, Théâtre persan (Paris, 1878).
- Dozy took communis for a gloss to civiliter.
- Formerly the capital of the homonymous province of Syria; it lies a day’s march west from Haleb (Aleppo).
- This account of the conquest is based partly on the researches of Dozy, but mainly on those of Saavedra in his Estudio sobre la Invasion de los Arabes en España (Madrid, 1892). Some of the details, however, e.g. the battle near Tamames and the part played by the sons of Witiza, are based, not on documentary evidence, but on probable inferences. For other accounts of the deaths of Musa and Abdalaziz see Sir Wm. Muir, Caliphate (London, 1891), pp. 368-9.
- Solaiman is the Arabic form of Solomon. The prophecy is to be found in the Kitāb al-Oyūn, p. 24; cf. Tabari ii. p. 1138.
- Seyid Ameer Ali, A Critical Examination of the Life and Teachings of Mahomet, pp. 341-343.
- Cf. Van Vloten, Recherches sur la domination arabe, le Chiitisme et les croyances messianiques sous le Khalifat des Omayades (Amsterdam, 1894), p. 63 seq.
- Cf. Wellhausen, Die Kampfe der Araber mit den Rom. in der Zeit der Umaijiden (Göttingen, 1901), p. 31.
- Bayān i. p. 42; Dozy, Histoire des musulmans d’Espagne, i. p. 246, names the place Bacdoura or Nafdoura, the Spanish chronist Nauam.
- Dozy i. p. 268.
- Merwan has been nicknamed al-Jaʽdi and al-Ḥimār (the Ass). As more than one false interpretation of these names has been given, it is not superfluous to cite here Qaisarānī (ed. de Jong, p. 31), who says on good authority that a certain al-Jaʽd b. Durham, killed under the reign of Hishām for heretical opinions, had followers in Mesopotamia, and that, when Merwan became caliph, the Khorasanians called him a Jaʽd, pretending that all’Jaʽd had been his teacher. As to al-Ḥimār this was substituted also by the Khorasanians for his usual title, al-Faras, “the race-horse.”
- The Arabic word for “shedder of blood,” as-Saffāh, which by that speech became a name of the caliph, designates the liberal host who slaughters his camels for his guests. European scholars have taken it unjustly in the sense of the bloodthirsty, and found in it an allusion to the slaughter of the Omayyads and many others. At the same time, it was not without much bloodshed that Abūʽl-Abbas finally established his power.
- The rule of the caliphs in Morocco, which had never been firmly established, had already, in 740, given place to that of independent princes (see Morocco, History).
- This Hāshimīya near Kufa is not to be confused with that founded by Abuʽl-Abbas near Anbar.
- Cf. G. le Strange, Baghdad during the Abbasid Caliphate (Oxford, 1900).
- Tabari iii. p. 443 seq.
- The first citizens of Medina who embraced Islam were called Anṣār (“helpers”).
- On this event, see a remarkable essay by Barbier de Meynard in the Journal Asiatique for March–April, 1869.
- Cf. W. M. Patton, Ahmed ibn Hanbal and the Mihna (Leiden, 1897); and article Mahommedan Religion.
- See M. J. de Goeje, Memoire sur les migrations des Ziganes travers l’Asie (Leiden, 1903); also Gipsies.
- See M. J. de Goeje, “De legende der Zevenslapers van Efeze,” Versl. en Meded. der K. Akad. v. Wetensch. Afd. Letterk. 4e Reeks, iii., 1900.
- See M. J. de Goeje, “De muur van Gog en Magog,” Versl. en Meded. 3e Reeks, v., 1888.
- “Dinars” in the text of Tabari iii. 1685, must be an error for “dirhems.”
- This Boghā was called al-Kabir, or major; the ally of Waṣīf, a man of much inferior consideration, al-Saghir, or minor.
- See Nöldeke, Orientalische Skizzen, pp. 155 seq.
- For the connexion between Carmathians and Fatimites see under Fatimites.
- M. J. de Goeje, Mémoire sur les Carmathes du Bahraïn et les Fatimides (Leiden, 1886).
- See Defrémery, Mémoire sur les Emirs al-Omara (Paris, 1848).
- Henceforward the history of the Caliphate is largely that of the Seljuk princes (see Seljuks).