61-64 A.H.   /   680-683 A.D.

Danger from the 'Alid reaction.

YEZID soon felt the evil which the tragedy of Kerbala had inflicted on the Umeiyad throne, and the rebound caused thereby in favour of the house of 'Ali. Al-Kufa, with proverbial inconsistency, was now eager to espouse the cause of a Dynasty which, over and again, it had cast aside. The Khariji heresy, in ever-varying form, gained new impetus, especially at Al-Basra. Its adherents, repenting of their desertion of 'Ali after the battle of Siffin, and grieving at the fate of his family, entered into a covenant of revenge and of never-ceasing hostility against the Government. But it was from a different quarter that peril first assailed the Caliphate. It arose, as Mu'awiya had foreshadowed, from 'Abdallah Ibn az-Zubeir.

Ibn Zubeir affects the Caliphate, 61 A.H. 680 A.D.

He it was, who, to be rid of Al-Hosein, had encouraged the unfortunate prince in his desperate venture. No sooner did the sad story reach Arabia than Ibn az-Zubeir arose and harangued the citizens of Mecca with fierce invective against the ruling Power. Veiling his ambitious design, he described himself as a dove of the doves of the Holy House. But he soon showed his true colours, and before the end of the year commenced to canvass, though at first secretly, as claimant to the throne. On this reaching the ears of Yezid, he swore that the rebel should yet be brought to Damascus, bound by the neck. Repenting of the oath, though wishing formally to fulfil it and yet leave Ibn az-Zubeir a way of escape, he sent a deputation to Mecca with a silver chain, and a silken dress of honour to conceal it, and invited him


so robed to come to court; but Ibn az-Zubeir scorned the offer and imprisoned the embassy. Its leader, a brother of his own named 'Amr, who was hostile to himself, he put to a terrible death.

Medina rebels, 62 A.H. 682 A.D.

Meanwhile, Medina was in a ferment. The crafty pretender, still feigning friendship with Yezid, advised him to send a milder governor there, as likely to conciliate the people. Accordingly, Yezid removed the governor and deputed in his place a young and inexperienced cousin of his own, 'Othman ibn Mohammad, who in an evil hour despatched a company of his chief citizens to Damascus, hoping that they might there be won over by the gifts and promises of the Caliph. They returned munificently rewarded. But, accustomed as they had been to the frugal and pious habits of the Prophet's home, they were shocked at the profane behaviour and indulgent excesses of the Syrians; and brought back such an account of the luxury and ungodliness of the Court,—wine and music, singing men and singing women, cockfighting and hounds,—that the Caliph was at once denounced, and a rival sworn to in his room. After a final attempt on the part of Yezid to win them over, the Ansar of Medina under the leadership of 'Abdallah ibn Hanzala, threw off their allegiance, by each one casting off his mantle or shoe. The young governor was fain to fly; the Umeiyad party, 1000 strong, were put in durance, and only allowed to leave the city after swearing that they would not assist the enemy.

Is attacked and sacked, 25 xii. 63 A.H. Aug 26, 683 A.D.

To chastise these rebellious citizens, and thereafter to Mecca against Ibn az-Zubeir, the Caliph despatched, under Muslim ibn 'Okba al-Murri (a Koreishite having declined), a column which, in a bloody battle, called the battle of the Harra, defeated the troops of Medina; and the unfortunate city was for three days given up to the licence and rapine of the Syrian army. After forcing the citizens, at the point of the sword, again to swear allegiance to Yezid, the force continued its march on Mecca under the command of Al-Hosein ibn Numeir as-Sakuni, Muslim having died on the way.

Siege of Mecca, i. 64 A.H. Sept. 683 A.D.

Ibn az-Zubeir had nothing effectual to oppose. He was indeed supported by the malcontent fugitives from Medina, and by the Khawarij who from all quarters flocked to the defence of the Holy House. People hardly believed that


even the most sacrilegious tyrant would have the hardihood to attack the sacred places. "Good heavens!" they cried, looking upwards, "will ye fall down upon us"1. And in like security Ibn az-Zubeir had probably been the less careful to prepare for his enemy's advance. Early in the year 64 A.H., going forth to oppose the Syrian army, he was driven back with loss.

City bombarded and Ka'ba destroyed, 3 iii. 64 A.H. Oct. 31, 683 A.D.

For two months the city was besieged and shot cast into it by the Syrians from the heights around. The Ka'ba caught fire and was burned to the ground.2 And so the siege went on till the third month, when tidings came of the death of Yezid, and thereupon hostilities ceased. So poor at the moment were the prospects of the Umeiyads under the weak son who succeeded Yezid, that the Syrian general offered to swear allegiance to Ibn az-Zubeir as Caliph if he would but accompany him to Syria, where alone he had any chance of successful candidature. But he refused, preferring to remain and rebuild the sacred shrine. Though himself a warrior, and the son of one of the most renowned heroes in the Prophet's train, he went out no more into battle, but from his quiet retreat main­tained, as rival Caliph, an acknowledged rule, as we shall see, in the troubled years that follow, over a large portion of the Muslim Empire.

Death of Yezid, 14 iii. 64 A.H. Nov. 11, 683 A.D.

Yezid died in his hunting castle at forty years of age, after a reign of three and a half years. The news took Yezid, twenty-seven days to reach Mecca. In natural disposition he much resembles Charles II. of England. He is described as a dissippated Monarch, but though the patron of learning, and himself no mean poet, he is only remembered for his sacrilegious attack upon the Holy Cities and the family of Mohammad.

"He reigned," says Ibn at-Tiktaka, "three years and six months; and in his first year he killed Al-Hosein son of 'Ali (on both of whom be peace!). In his second year he plundered

1 The exclamation is attributed to 'Abd al-Melik, who with his father Merwan was sent as a deputation by Yezid to Ibn az-Zubeir, and by him detained in durance; "and yet," adds the annalist, "this same 'Abd al-­Melik, when Caliph, himself sent Al- Hajjaj to besiege the Holy City, cast shot at the Ka'ba, and slay Ibn az-Zubeir."

2 The fire appears to have been kindled by the besieged, and even by lbn az-Zubeir himself.


Medina and sacked it for three days; and in his third year he raided the Ka'ba."

Islam stationary in his reign.

The accusations brought against him may be due to 'Abbasid enmity; he himself denied that he drank wine. No progress was made in this reign to extend Islam; on the contrary, as we have seen, there were serious disasters in North Africa.

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