Crazy facts

He was already ill, and died about midway between the two cities, after having given the command, according to the orders of the caliph, to Hosain b. Nomair. It is quite natural that the man who delivered up the city of the Prophet to plunder, and at whose hands so many prominent Moslems fell, should have been an object of detestation to the devout. Even some European scholars have drawn a false picture of his personality, as has been clearly shown by Wellhausen. About Medina also false statements have been made. The city recovered very soon from the disaster, and remained the seat not only of holy tradition and jurisdiction, but also of the Arabic aristocracy. In no city of the empire, during the reign of the Omayyads, lived more singers and musicians than in Medina. Hosain b. Nomair arrived before Mecca in September 683 and found Ibn Zobair ready to defend it. A number of the citizens of Medina had come to the aid of the Holy City, as well as many Kharijites from Yamāma under Najda b. ‛Āmir. The siege had lasted 65—others say 40—days, when the news came of the death of Yazid, which took place presumably on the 14th of Rabia I, 64 (12th November 683). Eleven days before a fire, caused by imprudence, had consumed all the woodwork of the Ka’ba and burst the black stone in three places. The evidence is quite conclusive; yet the fire has been imputed to the Syrians, and a tale was invented about ballistas which hurled against the House of God enormous stones and vessels full of bitumen. In fact, the siege had been confined to enclosure and skirmishes. It is said that on the news of the death of Yazid a conference took place between Hosain and Ibn Zobair, and that the former offered to proclaim the latter as caliph provided he would accompany him to Syria and proclaim a general amnesty. Ibn Zobair refused haughtily, and Hosain, with a contemptuous criticism of his folly, ordered his army to break up for Syria. Hitherto Ibn Zobair had confined himself to an appeal to the Moslems to renounce Yazid and to have a caliph elected by the council (shūrā) of the principal leading men. He now openly assumed the title of caliph and invited men to take the oath of allegiance. He was soon acknowledged throughout Arabia, in Egypt and in Irak. The Omayyads, who had returned to Medina, were again expelled. Yazid is described in the Continuatio Isidori Byz. §27, as “iucundissimus et cunctis nationibus regni eius subditis vir gratissime habitus, qui nullam unquam, ut omnibus moris est, sibi regalis fastigii causa gloriam appetivit, sed communis[17] cum omnibus civiliter vixit.” This is confirmed by the fact that Moawiya II. is said to have been a mild ruler, like his father, and goes far to outweigh the prejudiced account given by his opponents and coloured still further by tradition. Against the accusation of being a drinker of wine he himself protested in verses which he recited when he sent the army against Ibn Zobair. Decisive is also the testimony of Ibn al-Hanafiya, who declared that all the accusations brought by the Medinians were false. It may be true that he was fond of hunting, but he was a peace-loving, generous prince. It is uncertain at what age he died. Accounts vary between 33 and 39. The latter finds confirmation in the statement that he was born in A.H. 25, though another account places his birth in 22. As his son Moawiya who succeeded him was certainly adult (the accounts vary between 17 and 23), the latter date seems to be preferable. 3. Moawiya II. had reigned a very short time—how long is again wholly uncertain—when he fell sick and died. Then commenced a period of the greatest confusion. The mother of Yazid, Maisūn, belonged to the most powerful tribe in Syria, the Kalb, and it seems that this and the cognate tribes of Qodā‛a (Yemenites) had enjoyed certain prerogatives, which had aroused the jealousy of the Qais and the cognate tribes of Modar. Immediately after the death of Yazid, Zofar b. Ḥārith, who had already fought with Ibn Zobair against Yazid, had induced northern Syria and Mesopotamia to declare for Ibn Zobair. In Homs (Emesa) the governor No‛mān b. Bashīr had pledged himself to the same cause. The prefect of Damascus, Ḍaḥḥāk b. Qais, seemed to be wavering in his loyalty. Khālid, the brother of Moawiya II., was still a youth and appears to have had no strength of character. There was, however, a much more dangerous candidate, viz. Merwān b. Ḥakam, of another branch of the Omayyads, who had been Othman’s right-hand man. He had pledged himself after some hesitation to Yazid, but now his turn had come. The amir of the Kalb, Ibn Baḥdal, persuaded probably by Obaidallah b. Ziyād, conceived that only a man of distinction could win the contest, and proclaimed Merwan caliph, on condition that his successor should be Khālid b. Yazid, and after him ‛Amr b. Sa‛īd al-Ashdaq, who belonged to the third branch of the Omayyads. Meanwhile Ḍaḥḥāk had declared himself openly for Ibn Zobair. A furious battle (A.D. 684) ensued at Merj Rāhiṭ, near Damascus, in which Ḍaḥḥāk and Zofar, though they had the majority of troops, were utterly defeated. This battle became the subject of a great many poems and had pernicious consequences, especially as regards the antagonism between the Qais-Moḍar and Kalb-Yemenite tribes. 4. Reign of Merwan I.—Merwan strengthened his position according to the old oriental fashion by marrying the widow of Yazid, and soon felt himself strong enough to substitute his own son Abdalmalik for Khālid b. Yazid as successor-designate. Khālid contented himself with protesting; he was neither a politician nor a soldier, but a student of alchemy and astronomy; translations of Greek books have been ascribed to him (Jāḥiz, Bayān, i. p. 126). In the year A.H. 435 there was still in Egypt a brazen globe attributed to Ptolemy which had belonged to Khālid (Ibn Qiftī, p. 440, 1.15). He was also consulted about future events. There were, however, not a few who deplored the fact that the throne had passed from the descendants of Abu Sofiān. This feeling gave rise to the prophecy that there should appear later a Sofianī on the throne, who would reign with might and wisdom. ‛Amr Ashdaq made no opposition till the death of Merwan. After the victory at Merj Rāhiṭ, Merwan conquered Egypt, and installed as governor his second son Abdalazīz. An army sent to the rescue by Ibn Zobair under the command of his brother Muṣ‛ab was beaten in Palestine by ‛Amr Ashdaq. But a division sent by Merwan to the Hejaz was cut to pieces. Obaidallah b. Ziyād set out with the purpose of subduing Mesopotamia and marching thence against Irak. But he was detained a whole year in the former country, by a rising of the Shi‛ites in Kufa, who were still in mourning for Hosain and had formed an army which called itself “the army of the penitent.” They were routed at Ras ‛Ain, but Obaidallah had still to fight Zofar. Meanwhile Mokhtār (son of that Abu ‛Obaid the Thaqifite who had commanded the Arabs against the Persians in the unfortunate battle of the Bridge), a man of great talents and still greater ambition, after having supported Ibn Zobair in the siege of Mecca, had gone to Kufa, where he joined the Shi‛ites, mostly Persians, and acquired great power. He claimed that he was commissioned by Ali’s son, Mahommed ibn al-Hanafiya, who after the death of Hosain was recognized by the Shi‛ites as their Mahdi. A vague message from Mahommed, that it was the duty of every good Moslem to take part with the family of the Prophet, was interpreted in favour of Mokhtār, and thenceforward all the Shi‛ites, among them the powerful Ibrāhīm, son of Ali’s right hand Malik Ashtar, followed him blindly as their chief. Afterwards Ibn al-Hanafiya seems to have acknowledged him distinctly as his vicegerent. Ibn Zobair’s representative in Kufa was compelled to flee, and all those who had participated in the battle of Kerbela were put to death. An army despatched against Obaidallah under Ibrāhīm routed the Syrians near Mosul (battle of Khāzir); Obaidallah and Hosain b. Nomair were slain. Mokhtār was now at the zenith of power, but Ibn Zobair, determined to get rid at all costs of so dangerous an enemy, named his brother Muṣ‛ab governor of Basra and ordered him to march against Kufa. Basra was at that time full of fugitives from Kufa, Arabian chiefs who resented the arrogance of Mokhtār’s adherents, and desired eagerly to regain their former position in Kufa. The troops of Basra had been, since the death of Yazid, at war with the Kharijites, who had supported Ibn Zobair during the siege of Mecca, but had deserted him later. Their caliph, Nāfi’ b. Azraq, after whom they were called also Azraqites, threatened even the city itself, when Mohallab b. Abi Ṣofra, a very able general, compelled them to retire. Mohallab then marched with Muṣ‛ab against Kufa. Mokhtār fell, and with him the ephemeral dominion of the Persian Shi‛ites. This had been their first attempt to dispute the authority of their Arabian conquerors, but it was not to be the last. Ibrāhīm b. Ashtar, Mokhtar’s governor of Mesopotamia, submitted and acknowledged the Caliphate of Ibn Zobair.


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