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32
CALIPHATE

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. Fojā‛a, 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. Ash‛ath, 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 Ash‛ath, 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 Ash‛ath. 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 Ash‛ath 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 Ash‛ath 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 Ash‛ath 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 ‛Omāra b. Tamīm. The rebel then retired to Sijistān, and afterwards sought an asylum with the king of Kabul. His partisans fled before ‛Omāra’s army and penetrated into Khorasan, where they were isarmed 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, MHajjāj 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 Ash‛ath 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 to maintain the 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 Ash‛ath 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 Ka‛ba 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 Muṣ‛ab had terminated, the holy war against the Greeks was renewed. The