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36
CALIPHATE

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, Sa‛īd-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 Sa‛īd and obliged to pay. A still more questionable measure of Ibn Hobaira was his ordering the successor of Sa‛īd 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 Shi‛a 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 Sa‛īd 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.[1] 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

  1. Cf. Van Vloten, Recherches sur la domination arabe, le Chiitisme et les croyances messianiques sous le Khalifat des Omayades (Amsterdam, 1894), p. 63 seq.