The Umayyad Dynasty | 705CE – 750CE

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History of the Umayyad Dynasty

Umayyad Dynasty
The Umayyad Dynasty in 750 CE

Umayyad Dynasty: Abd al-Malik, during his lifetime, consolidated Umayyad rule over the Islamic Empire. At the time of his death in 705 CE, he had left behind a monarchy, powerful enough to challenge any force on the planet and on the brink of expanding into Europe. Okay, after Abd al-Malik, the Umayyad Dynasty held power till 750 CE. During these forty-five years, came about 8 different caliphs so I’m not gonna go through all of them, Caliph by Caliph, but rather I’m gonna go event by event during these forty-five years. Let’s get started. Abd al-Malik was succeeded by his son, Al-Walid.

In 712 CE, Muhammad ibn Qasim, invaded Sindh, in India. He was related to Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf and was something of a protege to him. The campaign itself was planned by Al-Hajjaj and he kept close tabs on the campaign by getting constant reports.

The first town attacked in India was Debut. Debul, as you can see, wasn’t that far from the Empire’s borders so they could run constant supply lines throughout the campaign. Muhammad ibn Qasim and his five catapults swept through Sindh. He also captured significant areas in Punjab like Multan. Stanley Lane-Poole, in his book “Medieval India under Mohammedan Rule” writes the following, Some historians also hold a negative view of him. Some call him “barbarian”, and “ruthless” and also, accuse him of massacring the population of Sindh and destroying the great temple in Debul but most historical accounts come centuries after the campaign so it’s difficult to know what happened.

I personally don’t think that Muhammad ibn Qasim and his army were brutal because it was uncharacteristic of the Arabs to do this kind of thing. Muslims hadn’t been brutal anywhere else during their campaigns, why would they do that in India? But then again, he WAS Al-Hajjaj’s protege so, maybe he was a monster too. Anyways, the campaign into India was halted when Muhammad ibn Qasim was called back and executed by Al-Walid’s younger brother, Sulayman. Sulayman became caliph because of the support by people who were really against Al-Hajjal ibn Yusuf because he was a monster. So, seeing as Al-Hajjaj died in 714CE,

Sulayman decided to call back Muhammad ibn Qasim and executed him because of his relation with Al-Hajjaj and the fear of him becoming a threat. Another important thing that happened around this time was Anas ibn Malik passed away at the age of 103 or so. Some eighty-five years after Muhammad himself passed away. All the companions of Muhammad were now gone. No one alive had ever seen Muhammad.

It’s weird to think that so much happened and Anas was there to see it all. He was Muhammad’s servant and had spent a lot of time with him and he saw Muhammad’s message go from Arabia to Persia, and Egypt then, he lived on to see the bloodbath that was both Fitnas and the siege of Mecca itself. Moving on, around the same time as the Indian Campaign,

The Umayyad Dynasty
Great Mosque of Damascus. The Great Mosque of Damascus, the earliest surviving stone mosque, was built in the 8th century by Caliph al-Walīd I in the Umayyad capital.

In 711 CE, Tariq ibn Ziyad, the governor of Tangier, landed on the Iberian Peninsula. The place he landed on is still named after him, Gibraltar, which is a deformed version of Jabal al-Tariq, the mount of Tariq. Tariq was probably not an Arab but rather a Berber. Tariq defeated the Visigothic king Roderic at the Battle of Guadalete in 711 or 712 CE. Roderic was killed and Tariq moved to take Toledo, Roderic’s capital. Then, Tariq and his superior Musa ibn Nusayr went on to capture almost all of Spain establishing direct power in the name of the Umayyad Caliph. The region was difficult to control for the Umayyad Caliph from Damascus but that would change soon.

On the 10th of October, 732CE, a decisive battle was fought near Tours in France between the forces of Abd al-Rehman al-Ghafiqi and the french. Many historians think that Muslims had they won this battle, would’ve gained control of all of Europe and as historian Edward Gibbon says, Personally, I don’t really agree with this because even if the Muslims had taken control of all of Europe, they wouldn’t have been able to hold it for long because Europe was very different than their own land and it would’ve been difficult for them to establish power here Moving back to 717 CE, Sulayman was succeeded by his cousin, Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz, the son of Abd al-Malik’s brother, Abd al-Aziz. He is often known as Umar the Second not because he was the second guy named Umar to be a caliph but because he was a spiritual successor to Umar ibn al-Khattab, the second Caliph. His mother was actually the granddaughter of Umar ibn al-Khattab. Umar II has a different reputation than all the other Umayyad caliphs. He was simple, humble, honest, and kind. He tried to get the Umayyads to stop living lives of excess and use only what they need. Kinda like Jimmy Carter of the Umayyad Caliphate and like Jimmy Carter, he didn’t rule for long. He was poisoned by the Umayyads, his own family because he was reforming the dynasty and trying to rid it of corruption.

He had ruled for around three years at this point and was around forty years of age in the year 720CE. He was pretty much the only ruler since Umar ibn al-Khattab himself who was popular with the public and had managed relative peace. Thanks to this image, Persians and Egyptians converted to Islam in a huge number so much so that the Jizya collected throughout the empire dropped significantly. His death made the public very angry. A lot of people felt like their voice had been quashed by the Umayyads,

In addition to that, the next Umayyad rulers alienated the public further by making some reforms to the Jizya. Now, Jizya was a tax that was levied on the non-muslim population. The number of non-Muslims in the empire was shrinking because of Umar II so, obviously, taxes were drying up, the Umayyads didn’t like that so they passed a law. They said that Non-Muslims were only converting to avoid Jizya and not out of their devotion to Allah so to de-incentivize conversion, all non-Muslims other than the ones who had converted before Umar II will still have to pay Jizya, even if they convert to Islam.

In practice, all the Persians the Egyptians, and other ethnic groups in the empire had to pay Jizya. Only the Arabs were excluded. This was racism in its most raw form. People were pissed because they said that that’s not what Islam teaches, that’s not what Muhammad said in his Farewell Address which was that; As a result of this racism, intrigue against the Umayyad dynasty began. Many smaller rebellions broke out but in Persia, there was a bigger threat. Ever since Ali, there had been many attempts to rally support for a successor of Ali to ascend to the throne.

The movement was called the Hashimiyya movement, named after Muhammad’s house, the house of Hashim. The leading candidate at the time wasn’t Ali’s descendant, though. He was the descendant of Ali and Muhammad’s uncle, Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib.

In 746CE, a Persian general, named Abu Muslim, who had converted to Islam overthrew the Umayyad general in Khorasan and started an open rebellion in the name of Abul Abbas As-Saffah. This was the beginning of the Abbasid revolution.

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