101-105 A.H.   /   720-724 A.D.

Yezid II., 101 A.H. 720 A.D.

THE first event in the reign of Yezid II. was a serious rising in Al-'Irak—the rebellion, namely, of his namesake, Yezid son of Al-Muhallab. The accession of the new ruler revived tribal jealousies; for his wife was niece to Al-Hajjaj; and so throwing over the Yemeni faction Yezid II. took up the cause of the family and adherents of Al-Hajjaj, all of whom, as we have seen, had been sorely pursued by Suleiman. Yezid, Al-Muhallab's son, had, as the favourite of Suleiman, unfortunately as it now turned out for himself, carried out the orders of his patron with great severity; and turning a deaf ear to her cry, had confiscated to a vast amount the wealth which the present Caliph's wife inherited from her father; and so her husband had threatened that if he ever came to power, he would cut him into a thousand pieces.

Rebellion of Yezid, son of Mullallab.

For this reason Yezid, when he heard of 'Omar's last sickness, and knew that his enemy Yezid II must succeed, escaped from prison, and fled to Al-Basra. But he rallied numerous friends around him, for with all his failings Yezid was free and open-handed; so having attacked the palace, he slew the governor, seized the treasury, and by profuse largesses raised a threatening force. He had the support of the Yemeni faction, especially of his own tribe the Azd, who here as in Khorasan were allied to Rabia; whilst the Keis and Temim took the other side. His chief opponent, however, was the man of religion, the friend of 'Omar II., Al-Hasan al-Basri. The Caliph, now alarmed, sent to offer a free pardon; but Yezid had too deeply compromised himself, and must fight it out to the bitter end. The


rebellion gained so great a head, that he was able to send governors to Al-Ahwaz, Fars, and Kirman, but not to his old province of Khorasan, for there the Azd were held in check by Temim. At Al-Basra all the adherents of Al-Hajjaj that fell into his hands were slain, but the chief men of the city, even such as favoured Yezid, fearing to compromise themselves with the Court, made their escape to Al-Kufa. Yezid himself settled down inactive at Al-Basra, till tidings of an army 80,000 strong advancing from Syria under com­mand of the veteran commander in Asia Minor and Armenia, Maslama, the Caliph's brother, forced him to take the field. His brothers urged him to leave Al-'Irak. and occupy Khorasan, or the strongholds in the nearer mountains, where the discontented would flock to him, and thus weary out the Syrian force; but he declined to be "like the bird that flies from hilltop to hilltop," and so moving forward he occupied Wasit. Maslama advanced on Al-Kufa, where there was a strong party in favour of Yezid; and having deposed the governor, with difficulty suppressed a rising. Then crossing the Euphrates, he took ground on the left bank of the river. Yezid, leaving one of his brothers with a strong reserve at Wasit, marched against his enemy. Many Kufaites of note, Temim as well as Kelb, came over to him. A week passed in skirmishing and single combats. Then Yezid wished to attack the Caliph's army by night, but was prevented by two religious fanatics who followed him. Next day he harangued his army, denouncing the Umeiyads as a godless race, against whom it were a more sacred duty to war than against the Turks, and thus bring back the pure observances of their holy faith,—words that must have sounded strange from the lips of the unprincipled worldling. On the other side, to nerve his men by making retreat impossible, Maslama set fire to the bridge behind them.

His defeat and death, ii. 102 A.H. Aug. 720 A.D.

The rebel army, unable to sustain the Syrian onset, fell back, Temim showing them the way; and Yezid, hearing that his favourite brother was killed, rushed upon the enemy's ranks, crying that life after that was no longer worth living, and was slain. On this, his remaining brothers, unable to hold their position at Wasit, retired, after beheading all the prisoners in their hands, some thirty including the stadtholder, and, with wives and children,


took ship by the gulf to a fortress in Kirman, hoping that its governor, who owed his post to Yezid, would give his family and kindred shelter. But they were mistaken; the brothers were put to death, and the women and children, in defiance of all Islamic law, exposed for sale in Al-Basra; but a loyal servant of the Umeiyads, Al-Jarrah ibn 'Abdallah al-­Hakami, did his duty and ransomed them. Their estates were, of course, confiscated.

Slaughter of Muhallab's house and followers.

Equally cruel was the fate of the prisoners at Kufa, where 300 were by the Caliph's orders slain. In companies of twenty and thirty, they were brought out, some of them naked, and decapitated in cold blood. Thus the Caliph slaked his wrath against the faction hostile to Al-Hajjaj. And so perished the house of Al-Muhallab, none of whose descendants were meet representatives of that great man. The butcheries and contempt of human life we now so often read of, are a painful feature of the day. The cruel scene, however, is but a fit ending to the career of the man who drove the corn-mill of Jurjan with his victims' blood.

Rising in Khorasan, 102-104 A.H.

The services of Maslama in this dangerous rebellion, and in the campaign against the Greeks, were rewarded by the government of Al-'Irak and Khorasan. As his lieutenant at Merv, Maslama appointed his son-in-law Sa'id, a weak man, called in derision Khodheina, from affecting in his dress the attire of a Persian lady. The choice was far from fortunate. There was a general rising of the hordes in Khojanda and Ferghana, which became dangerous owing to Muslim inactivity. The tributary Soghdians threatened by these, sought protection from Merv, but help being slow of coming, they meanwhile made overtures to the Turks, and between the two suffered grievously. When Muslim forces did arrive, the Soghdians returned at first to their allegiance. Information, however, having reached the Muslim general of the murder of an Arab (for numbers of Arabians and Persians had begun to settle in the land), he sent for the culprit, and slew him in his tent. The Soghdians retaliated by putting to death the Muslim prisoners in their hands; on which the general fell upon the Soghdian residents, who having been meanwhile disarmed had only staves wherewith to defend themselves. The whole, 3000 in number, fell by the


sword.1 Fighting went on more or less throughout the reign in these outlying provinces, but with no very marked results.

'Irak, Asia Minor, and Armenia, 102-104 A.H.

Maslama not sending on the surplus revenues of his province to Damascus, the government was given to 'Omar ibn Hubeira, an ambitious scion of the Fezara tribe, in reward for his military service. He had distinguished himself in the campaign against the Khawarij, and more recently on the northern border of Mesopotamia. He was a Keisite of the Keisites, and the Azd and Yemen suffered accordingly, especially in Khorasan. The legacy bequeathed by Al-Hajjaj began to bear interest. Yezid II. followed in the footsteps of Suleiman, and outside of Syria the government represented only a party—that of Keis. The policy of extirpating the family of Al-Muhallab, a new departure in Islam, meant war upon the Yemen. In Asia Minor, the Muslim possessions were quiet. But towards the North-east several heavy, and not always fortunate, operations were carried on against the Khazar, Kipchak, and other hordes inhabiting the mountain region between the Black and Caspian seas.

104 A.H.

The first army sent thither suffered a bad defeat, losing their camp, and being driven out of the country. A second force under Al-Jarrah retrieved the disaster, and occupied Balanjar and other important cities; but incautiously pressing their advance too far, were overtaken by winter, and were surrounded and cut off by Turkoman hordes. The Caliph promised fresh support, but dying shortly after, left the task to his Successor.


In Africa things went from bad to worse. The Caliph appointed one who had been a favourite secretary of

1 Another tradition says 7000, which, even with any conventional margin, seems incredible. The Soghdian merchants were allowed to retire before the massacre. A romantic story is told of the fort of Bahila, occupied by a clan of the Soghdians who remained loyal. One of the Turkoman generals wished to marry a lady in the fort; on her refusal they besieged the place. A Muslim column came on the scene just as they were on the point of surrendering from thirst. The Turks were attacked and routed. They fled out of sight, and the Muslims meanwhile bore away every man, woman and child to a place of safety. The Turks returning, found the fortress empty, not a soul to be seen, and declared that it was the genii who had done the miracle.


Al-Hajjaj as governor; and he, practising the harsh tactics he had learned of his master against the converted Berbers, roused an insurrection which, ending in his death, relaxed the bonds of discipline and attachment to the Court.


Spain, as a dependency of Africa, was in an even less satisfactory relation to the Caliphate. Its authority being mediate and intermittent, the governing hand, strong else­where, was for this great conquest changeful and often weak; while the leaders, though valiant in the field, were in the civil branch intent chiefly on their own aggrandisement. The Pyrenees had already been crossed by the Amir al-Horr, perhaps under Suleiman,

Inroad into France, 100 A.H. 718 A.D.

and in the year 100 A. H. the Muslim troops, attracted by the weakness of France, which was at the moment torn by internal discord, and by the hatred of the native race to their new masters from the north, made an inroad into its southern provinces. Ravaging the land as far as Nismes, they returned to Spain laden with booty.

Pyrenees crossed again, xi. 102 A.H. May, 721 A.D.

Tempted by this success, two or three years after, they again crossed the Pyrenees, stormed Narbonne, and garrisoned its fortress as their permanent headquarters. Under Samh ibn Malik, 'Omar's governor of Spain, they laid siege to Toulouse, but were forced to raise it on the approach of the enemy under Count Eudo, by whom they were put disastrously to flight. The scattered fragments rallied under the banner of the famous 'Abd ar-­Rahman ibn 'Abdallah,1 and found a safe retreat in Narbonne. But the reverse, bruited far and wide, emboldened the northern Spaniards, who had already in the Asturias thrown off the yoke, to fresh efforts against the Muslims, on whom about this time they inflicted a serious defeat. The mountainous region was a source of strength to them; and there the seeds of a new power were being sown, which in the fulness of time brought Muslim rule to an end in Spain.2

In a reign so weak and so unpopular, it is no wonder that intrigue on the part of the 'Alids, and now also amongst the descendants of Al-'Abbas (of whose designs mention is now for the first time made), gained ground

1 Or, as he is called by European writers, Abderame.

1 The Muslims lost Narbonne, and were finally driven out of France in 759 A.D See M. Reinaud's Invasions des Sarrazins, Paris 1856.


throughout the East.

'Alid and 'Abbasid canvass.

A deputation from Al-'Irak, canvassing the cause in the harmless garb of merchants, was arrested in Khorasan and taken before "Khodheina." But he, listening to their feigned story, and accepting the guarantee of their friends, allowed them to go. And so the cause insidiously grew.

Last of the Companions.

Year by year, tradition has up to this time been chronicling the death of aged men who having been in the society of Mohammad, are dignified as his Companions. Such notices, by the lapse of time, now come to a natural close. In 89 A.H. the last two of these who lived in Syria died, one aged a hundred, the other, a "Companion who had seen the two Kiblas."1 Others survived in Al-'Irak for a year or two later. But the last of all who had seen and known the Prophet, died at Mecca in the year 101.2 "Companions" always enjoyed special and high distinc­tion in Muslim society. They would have done so under any circumstances as having seen and conversed with Mohammad himself. But a fresh value as time went on began to attach to their words. The Kor'an, at first the sole guide in all concerns, social, legal, and spiritual, was gradually found inadequate for the novel wants of an ever-expanding Muslim world.

Collectors of traditions or Sunna.

The word and wont (Sunna) of the Prophet was now called in to supplement it. Collectors of tradition thus sprang up everywhere, who sought out "Companions" from the ends of the earth, and spent their lives in noting down their remembrance of incidents connected with the life of Mohammad. Nothing, however trivial, came amiss; for every word and every act might form a precedent hereafter in social or legal obligation. The profession thus came to be one of high repute, and hundreds of thousands of traditions have been handed down of every shade of credibility, upon which to a great

1 That is, remembered when Mohammad prayed with his face towards Jerusalem as his Kibla, before he changed it towards Mecca. See Life of Mohammad, pp. 183-189.

2 His name is 'Amir Abu't-Tofeil. Others are mentioned as dying in this year who were born in Mohammad's lifetime but they had not seen him. One of these died in 98 A.H. over a hundred years old. He had gone as a boy to Medina to make confession of his faith to Mohammad, but arrived just after his death, and so never saw him alive; another is mentioned as surviving till 109 A.H., who must have been over a hundred.


extent the law and custom of Islam has been built, and which incidentally also give us a clear and generally authentic view of the Prophet's life itself.

Hishim nominated successor.

Early in his reign Yezid was persuaded to nominate as successor his brother Hisham, and after him his own son Al-Welid, then but eleven years of age. Homage was done to both accordingly throughout the Empire. A few years later he repented that he had not given the succession immediately to his son; but did not venture on a change.

Yezid's passion for a slave-girl.

Yezid had even a greater passion for the harim than any of his predecessors, but it was more fixed and constant. We are told of Habbaba and a songstress Sallama, whose influence was supreme at Court. Even Ibn Hubeira was said to have obtained his high place through them. His attachment to the former was so great that he did not many days survive her death. He had retired with her for a season to a garden retreat in Palestine, and there casting playfully a grape-stone into her mouth, it choked her, and she died upon the spot. For three days he clung weeping to her relics. At last he was persuaded to let her be buried. The funeral service was performed by his brother Maslama, who feared that if the Caliph were seen by the people, they would be scandalised at the extravagance of his grief. He never recovered composure or self-control, and died within a week. The cry of Sallama, who was tending his last moments, was the first intimation of the fact to his family and attendants.1

1 The romantic tale of Habbaba throws a strange light on the Royal harim, and the conditions of its domestic life. Some years before his accession, when on pilgrimage to Mecca, Yezid purchased her for 4000 pieces of gold; but his brother Suleiman, then Caliph, was displeased at the purchase; and so he returned her to the merchant, who then sold her to an Egyptian. When Yezid succeeded to the throne, his wife, a granddaughter of 'Othman, said one day to him,—"Is there yet any one thing in the world, my love, left thee to desire?" "Yes," he answered, "and it is Habbaba." "So she sent to Egypt and bought the object of his heart's desire. Then having adorned her as a bride, she seated her on a couch in an inner chamber behind a curtain, and called her husband; and as they talked, again she asked ‘Is there aught yet in the world left for thee to long after?’ ‘Yea, and thou knowest it all thyself.’ So she drew the curtain aside, and saying ‘Yes, I know it; there sits Habbaba waiting for thee,’ she arose and left them together. And Yezid loved his wife all the more for it."


Death of Yezid II, viii. 105 A.H. Jan., 724 A.D.

Yezid II. died at the age of forty, having reigned a little over four years;—an inglorious reign, which failed to stay, if it did not actually hasten, the decadence of the Umeiyad house. Ibn at-Tiktaka calls him the Prodigal Son of the Umeiyads. He was succeeded by his brother Hisham, another son of 'Abd al-Melik.

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