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. Nāfi’ 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. No‛mān 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 ‛Amr Ashdaq, and also Khālid b. Yazid, to whom he gave his own daughter in marriage. He himself had married ‛Ātika, 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. No‛mān 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.