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Friday, August 6, 2010

The Fifth Caliph Of Dinasty Umayyah

Abdul Malik Bin Marwan

Abdul Malik Bin Marwan (646-705), Fifth caliph of the Arab Umayyad dynasty centred in Damascus. He recognized and strengthened governmental adminstartion and, throughout the empire, adopted Arabic as the language of adminstartion. 'Abd al-Malik spent the first half of his life with his father, Marwan ibn al-Hakam, fourth Umayyad caliph, in Medina, where he received religious instruction and developed friendly relations with the pious circles of that city that were to stand him in good stead in his later life. At the age of 16, he was entrusted by his kinsman, the caliph Mu'awiyah, with administrative responsibilities. He remained at Medina until 683, when he and his father were driven out of the city by Medinese rebels in revolt against the central government in Damascus. He then met the Syrian Umayyad army that was marching on Medina and gave its commander advice about the best means of attacking the city, advice that was followed and proved successful. When the caliph Yazid died in November 683, Marwan was proclaimed caliph in 684 and was able to effect a partial rally of Umayyad rule but at the cost of a bitter feud that arose between northern and southern Arab tribes. When Marwan died in 685 and 'Abd al-Malik succeeded to the caliphate, the forces opposing the Umayyads were still formidable.

There were, first, the northern Arab tribes who, under their leader Zufar, were holding out in northern Syria and Iraq. They were finally pacified only in 691. The second focus of resistance was in Iraq, where three main groups, opposed to each other but united in their resistance to the Umayyads, held sway: the Kharijites, the Shi'ah, and the forces of the anticaliph 'Abdallah ibn az-Zubayr, who was proclaimed caliph in Mecca in 685 and had received at least nominal allegiance from many provinces. The initial attempts by the former Umayyad governor of Iraq, 'Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad, to regain the province failed, and he was killed by the Shi'ah in 686. For three years 'Abd al-Malik made no further attempt to interfere in Iraq but bided his time as the various groups in Iraq exhausted themselves in internecine warfare. Mus'ab, the brother of the anticaliph Ibn az-Zubayr, defeated the Shi'ah in 687 but then had to deal with the Kharijites, committing a large part of his forces.

'Abd al-Malik first took the field against Mus'ab in 689 but had to turn back to quell a rebellion in Damascus. In the following year, the campaign again proved fruitless. Only after the defeat of the northern Arab tribes in 691 was 'Abd al-Malik finally able to face Mus'ab. The decisive battle took place at Dayr al-Ja Thaliq. The forces of Mus'ab were weakened by their wars against the Kharijites, and 'Abd al-Malik bribed many of them to desert Mus'ab, who was then killed in battle. The whole of Iraq now fell into his hands, and the only remaining centre of opposition was the now aging anticaliph, Ibn az-Zubayr. 'Abd al-Malik publicly chided him for his temerity and then sent his famous governor al-Hajjaj to Arabia. Al-Hajjaj besieged Ibn az-Zubayr in Mecca and killed him in September 692. The Muslim community was finally unified.

At first, the reestablishment of Umayyad rule was more apparent than real. The Kharijites were still either restless or in open revolt. The Kharijites in Persia were especially dangerous. It was only after 'Abd al-Malik had appointed al-Hajjaj to govern Basra that campaigns against them began to prove successful (the Persian Kharijites were finally wiped out in 697). But north of Kufah, another Kharijite trouble centre developed. In 695 these Kharijites captured Mosul and occupied large areas of central Iraq. Al-Hajjaj, leading his Syrian troops, defeated them too in 697. The Kharijite movement, however, remained strong, especially among the Bakr tribes between Mosul and Kufah.

Under 'Abd al-Malik, the conquest of North Africa was resumed in 688 or 689. There, the Arabs were opposed by both the native Berbers and the Byzantines. The governor appointed by 'Abd al-Malik succeeded in winning the Berbers over to his side and then captured Carthage, seat of the Byzantine province, in 697. Other coastal cities fell, and the work of pacification and Islamization continued apace. 'Abd al-Malik also resumed campaigns against the Byzantines in Anatolia in 692, but no permanent conquest ensued. These campaigns were partly designed to keep the Syrian troops fit.


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