40-60 A.H.   /   661-680 A.D.

Mu'awiya's reign, 40-60 A.H. 661-680 A.D.

FROM the death of 'Othman, 35 A.H., Mu'awiya was independent ruler of the West; and from Al-Hasan's abdication till his own death, that is, for nearly twenty years, he was undisputed Caliph of all Islam. During this long reign there was prosperity and peace as a rule at home, disturbed only by intermittent outbursts of Khariji zealots, and by factions still ardent for the house of 'Ali, supported by old-fashioned Muslims who nicknamed the Umeiyads Tulaka (forced converts). Both were easily suppressed, though not without bloodshed, by the strong arm of the Caliph and his able lieutenants. Abroad his rule was equally successful, and extended the boundaries of Islam in all directions.

'Amr. His death, 43 A.H.

'Amr held the government of Egypt during the rest of his long life, which, indeed, had been one of the most eventful in this history. No man influenced more than he the fortunes of the Caliphate. Brave in the field, astute in counsel, coarse and unscrupulous in word and deed, it was mainly to 'Amr that Mu'awiya owed his ascendency over 'Ali, and the eventual establishment of the Umeiyad dynasty. Conqueror of Egypt, and for four years its governor under 'Omar, he continued in the same post a like period under 'Othman, who by his recall made him in an evil hour his enemy. Finally reappointed by Mu'awiya on the defeat of Mohammad, he was still at his death the governor of Egypt. He died seventy-three years of age, penitent, we are told, for his many misdeeds.

The career of Al-Moghira, though less brilliant, was not


less singular.

Moghira governor of Kufa.

A native of At-Taif, he had been deputed by the Prophet, in company with Abu-Sufyan, to hew down the tutelary idol of that city.1 He was ill-favoured, being one-eyed with red hair dyed black. Clever, designing, and shameless, he survived his disgraceful fall at Al-Basra which nearly cost him life as well as his reputation, and rose again to influence. Finally, appointed by Mu'awiya to that most difficult post, the government of the no longer regal Kufa, he held under strict control the turbulent and restless city, still the frequent scene of theocratic outburst, and of those dangerous conspiracies in favour of the house of 'Ali which began soon to disturb the Umeiyad dynasty.

Ziyad reconciled to Mu'awiya, 42 A.H. 662 A.D.

But perhaps the greatest service which Al-Moghira rendered to Mu'awiya, was that he succeeded in reconciling Ziyad to his sovereign. The history of Ziyad is one of the most remarkable of the time. He was the reputed son of Abu Sufyan, who fell in with his mother, then a vagrant bondwoman, before his conversion at At-Taif. By the faithful discharge of important trusts, Ziyad overcame the disadvantage of servile birth, rose to important office, and eventually was appointed by 'Ali to the government of Al-Basra and Istakhr. Powerful, wise, and eloquent, he was by far the ablest statesman of the day. Devoted to the cause of 'Ali, he was bitterly opposed to the pretensions of Mu'awiya, even after the abdication of Al-Hasan. Called by Mu'awiya to render an account of his stewardship in Persia, he refused to do so or to appear at Court even when threatened, if he continued to absent himself, with the execution of his sons in Al-Basra. A thorn in his side, he caused continual alarm to Mu'awiya. At last, in the year 42 A.H., Al-Moghira, who had not forgotten the occasion on which he owed his life to the partial evidence of Ziyad,2 repaired to Istakhr, and persuaded him to tender his submission. Under safe-conduct he appeared before the Caliph at Damascus, and as a royal gift, together with his arrear of revenue, presented a million pieces. He was dismissed with honour, and provided with a residence in Al-Kufa. The figure of Mu'awiya is in the annals quite eclipsed by those of his lieutenants Al-Moghira and Ziyad,

1 In 9 A.H., Life of Mohammad, p. 451.

2 Above, p. 178.


just as that of 'Abd al-Melik is by that of Al-Hajjaj. It is to be remarked that all three belonged to the tribe of Thakif in At-Ta'if; we shall meet other members of it who became eminent. The relations between this tribe and the house of Umeiya were of old standing.

Ziyad acknowledged as brother by Mu'awiya, 45 A.H. 665 A.D.

A year or two afterwards a curious episode in his life disturbed the equanimity of the Muslim world. As Ziyad grew daily in royal favour, Mu'awiya was seized with the desire to remove the stain upon his descent, and thus prove him not the supposititious, but the real and legitimate son of Abu Sufyan his own father. A commission appointed for the purpose held this established; upon which Mu'awiya publicly acknowledged Ziyad to be his brother. The announcement raised a scandal throughout Islam, first as contravening the law of legitimacy, and still more as making Um Habiba—also the child of Abu Sufyan and one of the "Mothers of the Faithful"—to be the sister of what (the above decision notwithstanding) was held to be an adulterous issue. Not only so, but Mu'awiya's own kinsfolk, the house of Umeiya, were displeased at the affront thus put upon the purity of their blood. The feeling, however, soon passed away, as it was seen that a pillar of strength had been gained for the Umeiyad dynasty.1

Appointed governor of Basra, iv. or v. 45 A.H. July 665 A.D.

Shortly after, Ziyad was made governor of Al-Basra in addition to his Persian command. In Al-Kufa religious strife did not interfere with the public safety, but in Al-Basra, under the feeble administration of Ibn 'Amir, there was now no longer any security for life or property. Ziyad's hand fell heavily on the restless population of the

1 When Ziyad proposed to go on pilgrimage to Mecca, his brother (who, offended at his tergiversation in the case for adultery against Al-Moghira (above, p. 178), had never spoken to him since) sent a message to dissuade him: "Thou wilt meet Um Habiba," he said, "if thou goest on pilgrimage. Now, if she receive thee as her brother, that will be regarded as a slight upon the Prophet; if otherwise, it will be a slight upon thyself." So Ziyad gave up the design. Again, Ziyad wishing to secure an acknowledgment of legal birth from 'Aisha, addressed to her a letter in which he subscribed himself, Ziyad, son of Abu Sufyan; to which she replied, without commiting herself. "To my dear son Ziyad." 'Abbasid writers name him without any patronymic, "Ziyad, son of his father." He is also called after his mother, "Ziyad ibn Sumeiya."


turbulent city, now patrolled incessantly by an armed police of a thousand men. None might venture abroad at night on pain of death; and so ruthless was the order, that an unlucky Arab, wandering unawares into the precincts, was executed for the involuntary offence. His best friends were the Azd, especially those lately arrived from 'Oman, and he did not forget their services. The supremacy of law, an experience new to Al-Basra, repressed rebellion, and effectually enforced order where strife and faction had heretofore prevailed.

and of Kufa, 50 or 51 A.H.

On Al-Moghira's death, he was elevated to the governorship of Al-Kufa also, and his habit was to spend half the year there and half at Al-Basra. A reign of terror now began. At the first address of his representative in the Mosque of Al-Kufa, stones were cast at him. Ziyad came from Al-Basra. To discover the offenders, all present were put to the oath, and some fifty men who refused to swear had their hands cut off. The 'Alid faction which reviled 'Othman abounded in both cities, and strong measures were no doubt needful to repress conspiracy; but cruelty and bloodshed went far beyond the bounds of need.

His severe administration,

Tales abound of parties refusing to curse the memory of 'Ali—one especially, headed by the grandson of the famous Hatim of the tribe of Tai'1—being ruthlessly beheaded; and the tyranny thus inaugurated by Ziyad casts a dark stain upon his memory. The gravel in the Mosque was replaced by a pavement, and the clan system in the army was broken up.

and splendid Court.

From Istakhr, Ziyad brought with him the pride of an Oriental court. Abroad he was followed by a crowd of silver-sticks and lictors, and at his gate 500 Soldiers mounted guard. He was the most powerful lieutenant the Caliphate yet had seen. The entire East was subject to him. From the Oxus and the Indus to the Persian Gulf his sway was absolute.2 His sons held important commands in Khorasan and the frontier; but the most famous, or infamous, of them was 'Obeidallah, who became governor of Al-Basra. One of these carried with him 50,000 citizens of Al-Kufa, whom by a wise policy he

1 Life of Mohammad, p. 436.

2 He divided the last into four commands, Tab. ii. 79. Cf. p. 395 below; also Le Strange, Lands of the Eastern Caliphate, p. 382.


planted in Khorasan with their wives and families.

His death, 53 A.H. 673 A.D.

Ziyad did not long enjoy the splendid position he had thus achieved. Not satisfied with the East, he coveted also charge of the Hijaz with its Holy Cities. The inhabitants in terror prayed to the Lord that he might not have it; and so (says our annalist) his hand was smitten with a malignant boil, of which he died in the year 53 (summer of 673 A.D.), at the age of fifty-eight.

Progress in the East.

Great progress was made by Mu'awiya in extending his rule eastward. The conquered peoples and their chiefs, impatient of the tribute and restraints of Islam, were continually casting off their allegiance; but the yoke was yearly becoming more secure. Herat, having rebelled, was stormed, 41 A.H.; and two years later Kabul also was besieged for several months, and taken after the walls had been breached by catapults. Similar operations are noticed against Ghazna, Balkh, Kandahar, and other strongholds. In the year 54 A.H., one of Ziyad's sons, crossing the Oxus and mountain range on camels, took Bokhara; and two years later a son of 'Othman beat back the Turkish hordes and gained possession of Samarkand and Tirmidh. The territories in the far north and east continued long on a precarious tenure; but in the south all the country up to the banks of the Indus was gradually being consolidated under Mohammadan rule or suzerainty.


The experience of Africa along its northern shore did not materially differ from that of the East, for the Berbers were ever and anon rebelling after they had tendered their submission. Indeed, the struggle was harder here for the Roman settlements enabled the native population to offer a more stubborn resistance. And yet, in the end, the overthrow was not less complete, so that the bright seats of civilisation and of the Christian faith were soon known only by the ruins of their temples, aqueducts, and civic buildings. 'Okba, appointed by 'Amr, 41 A.H., waged war against the Berbers, and for several years the littoral was ravaged as far as Barka and Waddan.

'Okba founds Kairawan, 50 A.H. 670 A.D.

In the year 50, strengthened by Mu'awiya with a body of 10,000 Arabs, he founded the settlement of Kairawan, to the south of Tunis as the African capital, and strongly fortified it against the Berbers. Ever since, it has been regarded as a sacred centre.


Tradition tells us of the miraculous flight of wild beasts and reptiles with their young from its site at the conqueror's prayer; and also that the Berbers, convinced by the prodigy, at once accepted Islam and settled themselves upon the spot.

Is defeated and slain.

But a few years later 'Okba was surprised by a joint Roman and Berber army, and miserably perished with his whole army.1 The Muslims were driven back on Barka.

Hostilities with Greece.

On the side of Armenia and Greece, hostilities, suspended during the contest with 'Ali, were resumed by Mu'awiya at its close, and we read of a serious defeat sustained by the Greeks, 42 A.H. The Muslim army wintered in Armenia, and the campaign was prosecuted both by sea and land. In 50 A.H. a formidable expedition was directed against Constantinople.

Attack on Constantinople.

The army suffered ­severely from want of provisions, and sickness; and Mu'awiya sent his pleasure-loving son Yezid, much against his will, to join the army with large reinforcements. The force landed near Constantinople, the safety of which is ascribed by some to the use of Greek fire, discovered about the time. There was much fighting, and the Muslim loss was heavy. But misfortune notwithstanding, efforts against the city were not abandoned. We read of almost yearly expeditions, and in 53 A.H., the island of Cyzicus near Constantinople was seized and held by a Muslim garrison for seven years but the position was abandoned by Yezid on his father's death.

Death of Abu Eiyub and other Companions; also of 'Aisha and widows of Mohammad.

In the Grecian campaign a famous Companion, Abu Eiyub, was killed under the walls of Constantinople, where his tomb was tended and visited by pilgrims for ages. He was the same who entertained the Prophet in his house for the first half-year after his arrival at Medina.2 Early memories are also recalled by the death of Al-Arkam, whose abode—thence called "the house of Islam"—was the resort of Mohammad and his followers when he first began his teaching at Mecca.3 About the same time also we read of the death of 'Aisha, nearly sevent years of age, and of four other of the "Mothers of the Faithful," also advanced in years.4

1 See p. 341.

2 Life of Mohammad, p. 170 f.

3 Ibid., pp. 63, 91.

4 Safiya, Juweiriya, Um Salama and Um Habiba.


A son of Khalid poisioned.

Suspicion rests on the name of Mu'awiya of compassing the death of 'Abd ar-Rahman, son of the great Khalid. The splendour of his father's memory, and his own success in the campaign against the Greeks, invested him with such distinction throughout Syria, as to arouse the fears and jealousy of Mu'awiya, who employed (it is said) his Christian physician to poison him. The deed embittered the Makhzum, to which tribe, formerly the most important in Mecca, Khalid belonged; for they were already alienated from the Umeiyads who had supplanted them, and were supporters of Az-Zubeir. It is rare to find an imputation of the kind against Mu'awiya, who though backward in checking the cruelty of his lieutenants, was himself on the whole mild and just in his administration. De Goeje, however, rejects the whole story.

Project of carrying Mohammad's pulpit to Damascus.

In the 50th year of the Hijra, Mu'awiya entertained the project of removing the pulpit and staff of the Prophet from Medina to Damascus, now the capital of Islam. But the impious project was, by divine interposition, checked. For, "on its being touched, the pulpit trembled fearfully, and the sun was darkened, so that the very stars shone forth, and the men were terrified at the prodigies." The fond tradition is significant of the superstitious regard in which everything connected with the Prophet's person was now held. Mu'awiya was dissuaded from his design by the consideration urged upon him, that where the Prophet had placed his pulpit and his staff, there they should remain. And so they were left as relics in the Great Mosque hard by the last home of Mohammad.

Features of reign

Syria was, of course, the capital province of the Umeiyad Empire, as with Egypt, it was first in culture and social and political standing. The Arabs of the northern part were mostly Keisites, of the southern, Kelbites. Mu'awiya was more nearly related to the former, but he made the son of his Kelbite wife his heir; and so held with both. Through the constant wars with the Greeks, the Syrians were also superior in military affairs. These conquerors and conquered lived on friendly terms, sharing the same cities and towns and even churches; whereas, in Al-'Irak, Al-Kufa and Al-­Basra were two military colonies in the midst of a hostile


indigenous population. The Christians of Syria were at least as well off under Mu'awiya as they had been under Heraclius. One of his chief advisers was a Christian: he rebuilt the church of Edessa, which had been destroyed by an earthquake; and Jacobites and Maronites brought their disputes to him to be settled.

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