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Umayyad dynasty

ISLAMIC HISTORY
WRITTEN BY:
 Asma Afsaruddin
See Article History

Alternative Title: Omayyad dynasty

Umayyad dynasty, also spelled Omayyad, the first great Muslim dynasty to
rule the empire of the caliphate (661–750 CE), sometimes referred to as
the Arab kingdom (reflecting traditional Muslim disapproval of
the secular nature of the Umayyad state). The Umayyads, headed by Abū
Sufyān, were a largely merchant family of the Qurayshtribe centred at Mecca.
They had initially resisted Islam, not converting until 627, but subsequently
became prominent administrators under Muhammad and his immediate
successors. In the first Muslim civil war (fitnah; 656–661)—the struggle for the
caliphate following the murder of ʿUthmān ibn ʿAffān, the third caliph (reigned
644–656)—Abū Sufyān’s son Muʿāwiyah, then governor of Syria, emerged
victorious over ʿAlī, Muhammad’s son-in-law and fourth caliph. Muʿāwiyah
then established himself as the first Umayyad caliph.
TOP QUESTIONS
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How did the Umayyad dynasty end?

Umayyad rule was divided between two branches of the family: the Sufyānids
(reigned 661–684), descendants of Abū Sufyān; and the Marwanids (reigned
684–750), Marwān I ibn al-Hakam and his successors. The Sufyānids,
notably Muʿāwiyah I (reigned 661–680), centralized caliphal authority
in Damascus. The Syrian army became the basis of Umayyad strength,
enabling the creation of a united empire through greater control of the
conquered provinces and of Arab tribal rivalries. Muslim rule expanded
to Khorāsān, garrison cities were founded at Merv and Sīstān as bases for
expeditions into Central Asia and northwestern India, and the invasion of
northwestern Africawas begun. A new fleet conducted a series of campaigns
against Constantinople (now Istanbul; 669–678), which, while ultimately
unsuccessful, offset the secular image of the state because they were
directed against the Christians. Though the Sufyānids generally retained
the Byzantine and Persian administrative bureaucracies they inherited in the
provinces, they were politically organized along Arab tribal lines, in which
the caliph was chosen by his peers to become, theoretically, “first among
equals” and act on the advice of a shūrā (tribal council). Muʿāwiyah, however,
in securing during his lifetime an oath of allegiance to his son Yazīd I,
disregarded the traditional election (bayʿah) and introduced the alien concept
of hereditary succession. Civil war and the deaths of Yazīd I in 683 and
Muʿāwiyah II in 684 brought Sufyānid rule to an end. Marwān I was
proclaimed caliph in Syria in 684 amid tribal wars.

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Islamic arts: Early period: the Umayyad and ʿAbbāsid dynasties


Of all the recognizable periods of Islamic art, this is by far the most difficult one to

explain properly, even though it is quite well documented. There are two reasons

for this difficulty. On the one hand, it was a formative…

Under ʿAbd al-Malik (reigned 685–705) the Umayyad caliphate continued to


expand. Muslim armies invaded Mukrān and Sindh in India, while in Central
Asia the Khorāsānian garrisons
conquered Bukhara, Samarkand, Khwārezm, Fergana, and Tashkent. In an
extensive program of Arabization, Arabic became the official state language;
the financial administration of the empire was reorganized, with Arabs
replacing Persian and Greek officials; and a new Arabic coinage replaced the
former imitations of Byzantine and Sāsānian coins. Communications improved
with the introduction of a regular post service from Damascus to the provincial
capitals, and architecture flourished (see, for example, khan; desert
palace; mihrab).
Decline began with the disastrous defeat of the Syrian army by the Byzantine
emperor Leo III (the Isaurian; 717). Then the fiscal reforms of the pious ʿUmar
II (reigned 717–720), intended to mollify the increasingly
discontented mawālī (non-Arab Muslims) by placing all Muslims on the same
footing regardless of ethnicity, led to financial crisis, while the recrudescence of
feuds between southern (Kalb) and northern (Qays) Arab tribes seriously
reduced military power.
Hishām ibn ʿAbd Al-Malik (reigned 724–743) was able to stem the tide
temporarily. As the empire was reaching the limits of expansion—the Muslim
advance into France was decisively halted at Poitiers (732), and Arab forces
in Anatolia were destroyed (740)—frontier defenses, manned by Syrian troops,
were organized to meet the challenge of Turks in Central Asia
and Berbers (Imazighen) in North Africa. But in the years following Hishām’s
death, feuds between the Qays and the Kalb erupted into major revolts in
Syria, Iraq, and Khorāsān (745–746), while the mawālī became involved with
the Hāshimiyyah, a religio-political faction that denied the legitimacy of
Umayyad rule. In 749 the Hāshimiyyah, aided by the western provinces,
proclaimed as caliph Abū al-ʿAbbās al-Saffāḥ, who thereby became first of
the ʿAbbāsid dynasty.
The last Umayyad, Marwān II (reigned 744–750), was defeated at the Battle of
the Great Zab River (750). Members of the Umayyad house were hunted down
and killed, but one of the survivors, ʿAbd al-Raḥmān, escaped and established
himself as a Musl

*, The Umayyads

The Umayyad Caliphate

The Umayads were the first Muslim dynasty — that is, they were the first rulers of the Islamic Empire to pass
down power within their family.
According to tradition, the Umayyad family (also known as the Banu Abd-Shams) and Muhammad (peace and
blessings of Allāh be upon him) both descended from a common ancestor, Abd Manaf ibn Qusai, and they
originally came from the city of Mecca. Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)descended
from Abd Manāf via his son Hashim, while the Umayyads descended from Abd Manaf via a different son,
Abd-Shams, whose son was Umayya. The two families are therefore considered to be different clans (those of
Hashim and of Umayya, respectively) of the same tribe (that of the Quraish).
The shift in power to Damascus, the Umayyad capital city, was to have profound effects on the development of
Islamic history. For one thing, it was a tacit recognition of the end of an era. The first four caliphs had been
without exception Companions of the Prophet – pious, sincere men who had lived no differently from their
neighbors and who preserved the simple habits of their ancestors despite the massive influx of wealth from the
conquered territories. Even ‘Uthman, whose policies had such a divisive effect, was essentially dedicated more
to the concerns of the next world than of this. With the shift to Damascus much was changed.
In the early days of Islam, the extension of Islamic rule had been based on an uncomplicated desire to spread
the Word of God. Although the Muslims used force when they met resistance they did not compel their
enemies to accept Islam. On the contrary, the Muslims permitted Christians and Jews to practice their own
faith and numerous conversions to Islam were the result of exposure to a faith that was simple and inspiring.
With the advent of the Umayyads, how ever, secular concerns and the problems inherent in the administration
of what, by then, was a large empire began to dominate the attention of the caliphs, often at the expense of
religious concerns – a development that disturbed many devout Muslims. This is not to say that religious
values were ignored; on the contrary, they grew in strength for centuries. But they were not always at the
forefront and from the time of Mu’awiyah the caliph’s role as “Defender of the Faith” increasingly required
him to devote attention to the purely secular concerns which dominate so much of every nation’s history.
Muiawiyah was an able administrator, and even his critics concede that he possessed to a high degree the
much-valued quality of hilm – a quality which may be defined as “civilized restraint” and which he himself
once described in these words:
I apply not my sword where my lash suffices, nor my lash where my tongue is enough. And even if there be one
hair binding me to my fellowmen, I do not let it break: when they pull I loosen, and if they loosen I pull.

Nevertheless, Mu’awiyah was never able to reconcile the opposition to his rule nor solve the conflict with the
Shi’is. These problems were not unmanageable while Mu’awiyah was alive, but after he died in 680 the
partisans of ‘Ali resumed a complicated but persistent struggle that plagued the Umayyads at home for most of
the next seventy years and in time spread into North Africa and Spain.
The Umayyads, however, did manage to achieve a degree of stability, particularly after ‘Abd al-Malik ibn
Marwan succeeded to the caliphate in 685. Like the Umayyads who preceded him, ‘Abd al-Malik was forced
to devote a substantial part of his reign to political problems. But he also introduced much needed reforms. He
directed the cleaning and reopening of the canals that irrigated the Tigris-Euphrates Valley – a key to the
prosperity of Mesopotamia since the time of the Sumerians – introduced the use of the Indian water buffalo in
the riverine marshes, and minted a standard coinage which replaced the Byzantine and Sassanid coins, until
then the sole currencies in circulation. ‘Abd al-Malik’s organization of government agencies was also
important; it established a model for the later elaborate bureaucracies of the ‘Abbasids and their successor
states. There were specific agencies charged with keeping pay records; others concerned themselves with the
collection of taxes. ‘Abd al-Malik established a system of postal routes to expedite his communications
throughout the far flung empire. Most important of all, he introduced Arabic as the language of administration,
replacing Greek and Pahlavi.
Under ‘Abd al-Malik, the Umayyads expanded Islamic power still further. To the east they extended their
influence into Transoxania, an area north of the Oxus River in today’s Soviet Union, and went on to reach the
borders of China. To the west, they took North Africa, in a continuation of the campaign led by ‘Uqbah ibn
Nafi’ who founded the city of Kairouan – in what is now Tunisia – and from there rode all the way to the
shores of the Atlantic Ocean.
These territorial acquisitions brought the Arabs into contact with previously unknown ethnic groups who
embraced Islam and would later influence the course of Islamic history. The Berbers of North Africa, for
example, who resisted Arab rule but willingly embraced Islam, later joined Musa ibn Nusayr and his general,
Tariq ibn Ziyad, when they crossed the Strait of Gibraltar to Spain. The Berbers later also launched reform
movements in North Africa which greatly influenced the Islamic civilization. In the East, Umayyad rule in
Transoxania brought the Arabs into contact with the Turks who, like the Berbers, embraced Islam and, in the
course of time, became its staunch defenders. Umayyad expansion also reached the ancient civilization of
India, whose literature and science greatly enriched Islamic culture.

In Europe, meanwhile, the Arabs had passed into Spain, defeated the Visigoths, and by 713 had reached
Narbonne in France. In the next decades, raiding parties continually made forays into France and in 732
reached as far as the Loire Valley, only 170 miles from Paris. There, at the Battle of Tours, or Poitiers, the
Arabs were finally turned back by Charles Martel.
One of the Umayyad caliphs who attained greatness was ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, a man very different from
his predecessors. Although a member of the Umayyad family, ‘Umar had been born and raised in Medina,
where his early contact with devout men had given him a concern for spiritual as well as political values. The
criticisms that religious men in Medina and elsewhere had voiced of Umayyad policy – particularly the pursuit
of worldly goals – were not lost on ‘Umar who, reversing the policy of his predecessors, discontinued the levy
of a poll tax on converts.
This move reduced state income substantially, but as there was clear precedent in the practice of the great
‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, the second caliph, and as ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz was determined to bring government
policy more in line with the practice of the Prophet, even enemies of his regime had nothing but praise for this
pious man.
The last great Umayyad caliph was Hisham, the fourth son of ‘Abd al-Malik to succeed to the caliphate. His
reign was long – from 724 to 743 – and during it the Arab empire reached its greatest extent. But neither he nor
the four caliphs who succeeded him were the statesmen the times demanded when, in 747, revolutionaries in
Khorasan unfurled the black flag of rebellion that would bring the Umayyad Dynasty to an end.
Although the Umayyads favored their own region of Syria, their rule was not without accomplishments. Some
of the most beautiful existing buildings in the Muslim world were constructed at their instigation – buildings
such as the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, and the lovely country
palaces in the deserts of Syria, Jordan, and Iraq. They also organized a bureaucracy able to cope with the
complex problems of a vast and diverse empire, and made Arabic the language of government. The Umayyads,
furthermore, encouraged such writers as ‘Abd Allah ibn al-Muqaffa’ and ‘Abd al-Hamid ibn Yahya al-Katib,
whose clear, expository Arabic prose has rarely been surpassed.
For all that, the Umayyads, during the ninety years of their leadership, rarely shook off their empire’s
reputation as a mulk – that is, a worldly kingdom – and in the last years of the dynasty their opponents formed
a secret organization devoted to pressing the claims to the caliphate put forward by a descendant of al-‘Abbas
ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, an uncle of the Prophet. By skillful preparation, this organization rallied to its cause
many mutually hostile groups in Khorasan and Iraq and proclaimed Abu al-‘Abbas caliph. Marwan ibn
Muhammad, the last Umayyad caliph, was defeated and the Syrians, still loyal to the Umayyads, were put to
rout.
Under ʿAbd al-Malik (reigned 685–705) the Umayyad caliphate reached its peak. Muslim armies overran most
of Spain in the west and invaded Mukrān and Sindh in India, while in Central Asia the Khorāsānian garrisons
conquered Bukhara, Samarkand, Khwārezm, Fergana, and Tashkent. In an extensive program of Arabization,
Arabic became the official state language; the financial administration of the empire was reorganized, with
Arabs replacing Persian and Greek officials; and a new Arabic coinage replaced the former imitations of
Byzantine and Sāsānian coins. Communications improved with the introduction of a regular post service from
Damascus to the provincial capitals, and architecture flourished (see, for example, khan; desert palace;
mihrab).
Decline began with the disastrous defeat of the Syrian army by the Byzantine emperor Leo III (the Isaurian;
717). Then the fiscal reforms of the pious ʿUmar II (reigned 717–720), intended to mollify the increasingly
discontented mawālī (non-Arab Muslims) by placing all Muslims on the same footing without respect of
nationality, led to financial crisis, while the recrudescence of feuds between southern (Kalb) and northern
(Qays) Arab tribes seriously reduced military power.
Hishām ibn ʿAbd Al-Malik (reigned 724–743) was able to stem the tide temporarily. As the empire was
reaching the limits of expansion—the Muslim advance into France was decisively halted at Poitiers (732), and
Arab forces in Anatolia were destroyed (740)—frontier defenses, manned by Syrian troops, were organized to
meet the challenge of Turks in Central Asia and Berbers (Imazighen) in North Africa. But in the years
following Hishām’s death, feuds between the Qays and the Kalb erupted into major revolts in Syria, Iraq, and
Khorāsān (745–746), while the mawālī became involved with the Hāshimiyyah, a religio-political sect that
denied the legitimacy of Umayyad rule. In 749 the Hāshimiyyah, aided by the western provinces, proclaimed
as caliph Abū al-ʿAbbās al-Saffāḥ, who thereby became first of the ʿAbbāsid dynasty.
The last Umayyad, Marwān II (reigned 744–750), was defeated at the Battle of the Great Zāb River (750).
Members of the Umayyad house were hunted down and killed, but one of the survivors, ʿAbd al-Raḥmān,
escaped and established himself as a Muslim ruler in Spain (756), founding the dynasty of the Umayyads in
Córdoba.
Legacy
The Umayyad caliphate was marked both by territorial expansion and by the administrative and cultural
problems that such expansion created. Despite some notable exceptions, the Umayyads tended to favor the
rights of the old Arab families, and in particular their own, over those of newly converted Muslims (mawali).
Therefore they held to a less universalist conception of Islam than did many of their rivals. As G.R. Hawting
has written, “Islam was in fact regarded as the property of the conquering aristocracy.”
During the period of the Umayyads, Arabic became the administrative language. State documents and currency
were issued in the language. Mass conversions brought a large influx of Muslims to the caliphate. The
Umayyads also constructed famous buildings such as the Dome of the Rock at Jerusalem, and the Umayyad
Mosque at Damascus.
According to one common view, the Umayyads transformed the caliphate from a religious institution (during
the rashidun) to a dynastic one. However, the Umayyad caliphs do seem to have understood themselves as the
representatives of God on earth, and to have been responsible for the “definition and elaboration of God’s
ordinances, or in other words the definition or elaboration of Islamic law.”
The Umayyads have met with a largely negative reception from later Islamic historians, who have accused
them of promoting a kingship (mulk, a term with connotations of tyranny) instead of a true caliphate (khilafa).
In this respect it is notable that the Umayyad caliphs referred to themselves not as khalifat rasul Allah
(“successor of the messenger of God”, the title preferred by the tradition), but rather as khalifat Allah (“deputy
of God”). The distinction seems to indicate that the Umayyads “regarded themselves as God’s representatives
at the head of the community and saw no need to share their religious power with, or delegate it to, the
emergent class of religious scholars.”In fact, it was precisely this class of scholars, based largely in Iraq, that
was responsible for collecting and recording the traditions that form the primary source material for the history
of the Umayyad period. In reconstructing this history, therefore, it is necessary to rely mainly on sources, such
as the histories of Tabari and Baladhuri, that were written in the Abbasid court at Baghdad.
Modern Arab nationalism regards the period of the Umayyads as part of the Arab Golden Age which it sought
to emulate and restore. This is particularly true of Syrian nationalists and the present-day state of Syria,
centered like that of the Umayyads on Damascus.White, one of the four Pan-Arab colors which appear in
various combinations on the flags of most Arab countries, is considered as representing the Umayyads.
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Umayyad Caliphate
This article is about the original Umayyad caliphate. For the restored Umayyad caliphate in Spain, see Caliphate of
Córdoba. For for the earlier Umayyad period in Spain, see Emirate of Córdoba.

"Umayyad" redirects here. For the family, see Banu Umayya.

The Umayyad Caliphate (Arabic: ‫ٱل ِخالفَةُ ٱأل ُ َم ِويَّة‬,


ْ translit. al-Khilāfatu al-ʾUmawiyyah), also
spelt Omayyad,[3] was the second of the four major caliphates established after the death
of Muhammad. The caliphate was ruled by the Umayyad dynasty (Arabic: ‫ٱأل ُ َم ِويُّون‬, al-
ʾUmawiyyūn, or ‫بَنُو أ ُ َميَّة‬, Banū ʾUmayya, "Sons of Umayya"), hailing from Mecca. The third
Caliph, Uthman ibn Affan (r. 644–656), was a member of the Umayyad clan. The family
established dynastic, hereditary rule with Muawiya ibn Abi Sufyan, long-time governor of Syria,
who became the fifth Caliph after the end of the First Muslim Civil War in 661. After
Mu'awiyah's death in 680, conflicts over the succession resulted in a Second Civil War[4] and
power eventually fell into the hands of Marwan I from another branch of the clan. Syria
remained the Umayyads' main power base thereafter, and Damascus was their capital.
Umayyad Caliphate

‫ْٱل ِخالفَةُ ٱأل ُ َم ِويَّة‬

661–750

The Umayyad Caliphate at its greatest extent in 750 AD

Capital  Damascus
(661–744)
 Harran
(744–750)

Common languages Classical Arabic(official) –


Coptic, Greek, Latin, Persian(official in certain
regions until the reign of Abd al-Malik) –
Aramaic, Armenian, Berber
languages, African
Romance, Mozarabic, Sindhi, Georgian, Prakrit

Religion Sunni Islam

Government Caliphate

Caliph
• 661–680 Muawiya I

• 680–683 Yazid I

• 683-684 Muawiya II

History

• Muawiya I becomes estimated from 660 to 665


Caliph

• Defeat and death 750


of Marwan II by
the Abbasids

Area

720 11,100,000[1] km2(4,300,000 sq mi)

Population

• 724 33,000,000[2]

Currency Gold dinar and dirham

Preceded by Succeeded by

Rashidun Caliphate Abbasid


Caliphate
Byzantine Empire
Emirate of
Visigothic Kingdom Córdoba
Exarchate of Africa Barghawata
Mauretania Kingdom of
Tingitana Nekor
Brahman dynasty of Emirate of
Sindh Tlemcen

Hephthalite Empire

Amir al-Mu'minin (‫)أمير المؤمنين‬, Caliph (‫)خليفة‬

The Umayyads continued the Muslim conquests, incorporating the Transoxiana, Sindh,
the Maghreb and the Iberian Peninsula (Al-Andalus) into the Muslim world. At its greatest
extent, the Umayyad Caliphate covered 11,100,000 km2 (4,300,000 sq mi)[1] and 33 million
people,[2] making it one of the largest empires in history in both area and proportion of the
world's population. The dynasty was eventually overthrown by a rebellion led by the Abbasids in
750. Survivors of the dynasty established themselves in Cordoba in the form of an Emirate and
then a Caliphate, lasting until 1031.
The Umayyad Caliphs were considered too secular by some of their Muslim
subjects.[5]Christians, who still constituted a majority of the Caliphate's population,
and Jews were allowed to practice their own religion but had to pay a head tax (the jizya) from
which Muslims were exempt.[6] There was, however, the Muslim-only zakat tax, which was
earmarked explicitly for various welfare progammes.[6][7]
Muawiya's wife Maysum (Yazid's mother) was also a Christian. The relations between the
Muslims and the Christians in the state were stable in this time. The Umayyads were involved in
frequent battles with the Christian Byzantines without being concerned with protecting
themselves in Syria, which had remained largely Christian like many other parts of the
empire.[6] Prominent positions were held by Christians, some of whom belonged to families that
had served in Byzantine governments. The employment of Christians was part of a broader
policy of religious assimilation that was necessitated by the presence of large Christian
populations in the conquered provinces, as in Syria. This policy also boosted Muawiya's
popularity and solidified Syria as his power base.[8][9]
OriginsEdit
According to tradition, the Umayyad family (also known as the Banu Abd-
Shams) and Muhammad both descended from a common ancestor, Abd Manaf ibn Qusai, and
they originally came from the city of Mecca in the Hijaz. Muhammad descended from Abd
Manāf via his son Hashim, while the Umayyads descended from Abd Manaf via a different
son, Abd-Shams, whose son was Umayya. The two families are therefore considered to be
different clans (those of Hashim and of Umayya, respectively) of the same tribe (that of
the Quraish).[10]
While the Umayyads felt deep animosity towards the Hashimites before Muhammad (born c. 570
CE), their animosity severely deepened after the Battle of Badr of 624 CE. The battle saw three
top leaders of the Umayyad clan (Utba ibn Rabi'ah, Walid ibn Utbah and Shaybah) killed by
Hashimites (Ali, Hamza ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib and Ubaydah ibn al-Harith) in a three-on-three
melee.[11] This fueled the opposition of Abu Sufyan ibn Harb, the grandson of Umayya, to
Muhammad, his family, and Islam as a whole.[12]
Abu Sufyan sought to exterminate the adherents of the new religion by waging another battle
against the Medina-based Muslims only a year after the Battle of Badr. He did this to avenge the
defeat at Badr. Scholars generally regard the Battle of Uhud (March 625) as the first defeat for
the Muslims, since they incurred greater losses than the Meccans. After the battle, Abu Sufyan's
wife Hind, who was also the daughter of Utba ibn Rabi'ah, is reported to have cut open the
corpse of Hamza, taking out his liver which she then attempted to eat.[12] In 629, however,
within five years of the defeat in the Battle of Uhud, Muhammad took control of Mecca[13] and
announced a general amnesty for all. Abu Sufyan and his wife Hind embraced Islam on the eve
of the conquest of Mecca, as did their son (the future caliph Muawiyah I).
The Umayyad's ascendancy began when Uthman ibn Affan, who had been an early companian,
second cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad became the third Caliph. Uthman (644–656) did
not establish a dynasty but placed some members of his clan at positions of power.[14] Most
notably, he appointed his first cousin, Marwan ibn al-Hakam, as his top advisor, which created a
stir among the Hashimite companions of Muhammad, as Marwan (along with his father Al-
Hakam ibn Abi al-'As) had been permanently exiled from Medina by Muhammad. Uthman also
appointed his half-brother, Walid ibn Uqba, whom Hashimites accused of leading prayer while
under the influence of alcohol, governor of Kufa[14] and appointed his foster-brother Abdullah
ibn Saad as the Governor of Egypt, replacing Amr ibn al-As.
Most notably, Uthman consolidated Muawiyah's governorship of Syria by granting him control
over a larger area.[15] Muawiyah proved a very successful governor. He built up a loyal and
disciplined army composed of Syrian Arabs[16] and also befriended Amr ibn al-As, the ousted
governor of Egypt. In 639 Muawiyah was appointed[by whom?] as the governor of Syria after the
previous governor Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrahdied in a plague along with 25,000 other
people.[17][18] In 649 Muawiyah set up a navy manned by Monophysite
Christian, Copt and Jacobite Syrian Christian sailors and Muslim troops, who defeated the
Byzantine navy at the Battle of the Masts in 655, opening up the Mediterranean.[19][20][21][22][23]
Uthman's rule also saw the relaxing of restrictions instituted by the second Caliph Umar ibn Al-
Khattab. Umar had maintained a tight grip on the governors; if he felt that a governor or a
commander was becoming attracted to wealth, he had him removed from his position.[24] Umar
also ordered Muslim armies to stay in encampments away from cities because he feared that they
might get attracted to wealth and turn away from the worship of God.[24][25][26][27] At the time,
tribal differences among Arabs, which had been discouraged in Muhammad's life
time,[28][29][page needed][30][31][32][33] resurfaced. Deep-rooted differences between Iraq and Syria,
that had belonged to the long-warringSassanid and Byzantine Empire respectively, also
persisted.[34]
Conflicts over Uthman's policies led to his murder in 656. Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of
Muhammad, became caliph and moved his capital from Medina to Kufa. He soon met with
resistance from several factions, especially from Muawiyah, the governor of Syria, who wanted
Uthman's murderers arrested. Muhammad's wife, Aisha, and two companions of
Muhammad, Talhah and Al-Zubayr, supported this demand. The conflict resulted in the First
Fitna ("civil war") from 656 until 661. Ali was victorious against Aisha in the Battle of the
Camel in 656 but the Battle of Siffin (July 657) against Muawiyah was inconclusive. Ali's
position als Caliph was weakened when he first agreed to an arbitration but then refused to
accept the verdict, that both Ali and Muawiyah should step down and a new Caliph be
chosen.[35] In 661, the most vociferous opponents of the arbitration, the Kharijites, tried to kill
both rivals; while Ali was killed, the attempt on Muawiyah failed. Ali's son Hasan (the second
Imam for the Shias), accepted Muawiyah as Caliph on the condition that he be just to the people
and keep them safe and secure, and that he not establish a dynasty to rule after his death.[36][need
In spite of the latter condition, this marked the beginning of the Umayyad
quotation to verify][37]
dynasty, with its capital in Damascus.[38]
HistoryEdit

The expansion of the Muslim Caliphate until 750, from William R. Shepherd's Historical Atlas.
Muslim state at the death of Muhammad Expansion under the Rashidun Caliphate Expansion under the Umayyad Caliphate

Byzantine Empire

SufyanidsEdit
See also: History of Syria

Umayyad Caliphate coin imitating the coinage of Sasanid Empire ruler Khosrau II. Coin of the time of Mu'awiya I ibn Abi
Sufyan (Muawiyah I). BCRA (Basra) mint; "Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad, governor". Dated AH 56 = 675/6 CE. Sasanian style
bust imitating Khosrau II right; bismillah and three pellets in margin; c/m: winged creature right / Fire altar with ribbons
and attendants; star and crescent flanking flames; date to left, mint name to right.

Muawiyah's personal dynasty, the "Sufyanids" (descendants of Abu Sufyan), reigned from 661 to
684, until his grandson Muawiya II. The reign of Muawiyah I was marked by internal security
and external expansion. On the internal front, only one major rebellion is recorded, that of Hujr
ibn Adi in Kufa. Hujr ibn Adi supported the claims of the descendants of Ali to the caliphate, but
his movement was easily suppressed by the governor of Iraq, Ziyad ibn Abi Sufyan. Hujr, who
had been a sahabah (companion of Muhammad), was sentenced to death by Muawiya for his
support of Ali.[39]
Muawiyah also encouraged peaceful coexistence with the Christian communities of Syria,
granting his reign with "peace and prosperity for Christians and Arabs alike",[40] and one of his
closest advisers was Sarjun, the father of John of Damascus. At the same time, he waged
unceasing war against the Byzantine Roman Empire. During his reign, Rhodes and Cretewere
occupied, and several assaults were launched against Constantinople. After their failure, and
faced with a large-scale Christian uprising in the form of the Mardaites, Muawiyah concluded a
peace with Byzantium. Muawiyah also oversaw military expansion in North Africa (the
foundation of Kairouan) and in Central Asia (the conquest of Kabul, Bukhara, and Samarkand).
Muawiyah was succeeded by his son, Yazid I, in 680. This hereditary accession was opposed by
a number of prominent Muslims, most notably Abd-Allah ibn al-Zubayr, son of a companion of
Muhammad, and Husayn ibn Ali, the younger son of Ali. The resulting conflict is known as
the Second Fitna.[4] Ibn al-Zubayr had fled Medina for Mecca, where he remained in opposition
until his death. The people of Kufa invited Husayn to their city and revolt against the
Ummayads. However, Yazid I prevented this alliance by having Kufa occupied[41] and Husayn
and his family intercepted on their way to Kufa in the Battle of Karbala, in which Husayn and his
male family members were killed.[41] Word of Husayn's death fuelled further opposition
movements, one centered in Medina and the other around Kharijites in Basra. In 683, Yazid's
army suppressed the Medinese opposition at the Battle of al-Harrah and then besieged Mecca.
During the campaign, widespread pillaging and the damaging of both the Grand Mosque in
Medina and the Kaaba in Mecca caused deep resentment and became a major cause for censure
of the Umayyads in later histories of the period.
Yazid died while the siege was still in progress, and the Umayyad army returned to Damascus,
leaving Ibn al-Zubayr in control of Mecca. Yazid's son, Muawiya II (683–84), initially
succeeded him but seems to have never been recognized as caliph outside of Syria. Two factions
developed within Syria: the Confederation of Qays, who supported Ibn al-Zubayr, and the
Quda'a, who supported Marwan, a descendant of Umayya via Wa'il ibn Umayyah. The partisans
of Marwan triumphed at a battle at Marj Rahit, near Damascus, in 684, and Marwan became
Caliph shortly thereafter.
First MarwanidsEdit

The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem

Marwan's first task was to assert his authority against the rival claims of Ibn al-Zubayr, who was
at this time recognized as caliph throughout most of the Islamic world. Marwan
recaptured Egypt for the Umayyads, but died in 685, having reigned for only nine months.
Marwan was succeeded by his son, Abd al-Malik (685–705), who reconsolidated Umayyad
control of the caliphate. The early reign of Abd al-Malik was marked by the revolt of Al-
Mukhtar, which was based in Kufa. Al-Mukhtar hoped to elevate Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah,
another son of Ali, to the caliphate, although Ibn al-Hanafiyyah himself may have had no
connection to the revolt. The troops of al-Mukhtar engaged in battles both with the Umayyads in
686, defeating them at the river Khazir near Mosul, and with Ibn al-Zubayr in 687, at which time
the revolt of al-Mukhtar was crushed. In 691, Umayyad troops reconquered Iraq, and in 692 the
same army captured Mecca. Ibn al-Zubayr was killed in the attack.
The second major event of the early reign of Abd al-Malik was the construction of the Dome of
the Rock in Jerusalem. Although the chronology remains somewhat uncertain, the building
seems to have been completed in 692, which means that it was under construction during the
conflict with Ibn al-Zubayr. This had led some historians, both medieval and modern, to suggest
that the Dome of the Rock was built as a destination for pilgrimage to rival the Kaaba, which
was under the control of Ibn al-Zubayr.
Abd al-Malik is credited with centralizing the administration of the Caliphate and with
establishing Arabic as its official language. He also introduced a uniquely Muslim coinage,
marked by its aniconic decoration, which supplanted the Byzantine and Sasanian coins that had
previously been in use. Abd al-Malik also recommenced offensive warfare against Byzantium,
defeating the Byzantines at Sebastopolis and recovering control over Armenia and Caucasian
Iberia.
Following Abd al-Malik's death, his son, Al-Walid I (705–15), became caliph. Al-Walid was
also active as a builder, sponsoring the construction of Al-Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina and
the Great Mosque of Damascus.
In the year 712, Muhammad bin Qasim, an Umayyad general, sailed from the Persian Gulf into
Sindh in Pakistan and conquered both the Sindh and the Punjab regions along the Indus river.
The conquest of Sindh and Punjab, in modern-day Pakistan, although costly, were major gains
for the Umayyad Caliphate. However, further gains were halted by the death of Al-Hajjaj bin
Yusuf Al-Thaqafi, as after his death Muhammad was called back from his conquests. After this,
Muslim chroniclers admit that the Caliph Mahdi "gave up the project of conquering any part of
India".[citation needed]
A major figure during the reigns of both al-Walid and Abd al-Malik was the Umayyad governor
of Iraq, Al-Hajjaj bin Yousef. Many Iraqis remained resistant to Umayyad rule, and to maintain
order al-Hajjaj imported Syrian troops, which he housed in a new garrison town, Wasit. These
troops became crucial in the suppression of a revolt led by an Iraqi general, Ibn al-Ash'ath, in the
early eighth century.
Two coins of the Umayyad Caliphate, based on Byzantine prototypes. Copper falus, Aleppo, Syria, circa 695

Al-Walid was succeeded by his brother, Sulayman (715–17), whose reign was dominated by
a protracted siegeof Constantinople. The failure of the siege marked the end of serious Arab
ambitions against the Byzantine capital. However, the first two decades of the eighth century
witnessed the continuing expansion of the Caliphate, which pushed into the Iberian Peninsula in
the west, and into Transoxiana in the Muslim conquest of Transoxiana (under Qutayba ibn
Muslim) and northern India in the east.
Arab sources claim Qutayba ibn Muslim briefly took Kashgar from China and withdrew after an
agreement[42]but modern historians entirely dismiss this claim.[43][44][45]
The Arab Umayyad Caliphate in 715 AD desposed Ikhshid, the king the Fergana Valley, and
installed a new king Alutar on the throne. The deposed king fled to Kucha (seat of Anxi
Protectorate), and sought Chinese intervention. The Tang dynasty Chinese sent 10,000 troops
under Zhang Xiaosong to Ferghana. He defeated Alutar and the Arab occupation force
at Namangan and reinstalled Ikhshid on the throne.[46]
The Tang dynasty Chinese defeated the Umayyad invaders at the Battle of Aksu (717). The Arab
Umayyad commander Al-Yashkuri and his army fled to Tashkent after they were defeated.[47][48]
Sulayman was succeeded by his cousin, Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz (717–20), whose position among
the Umayyad caliphs is somewhat unusual. He is the only Umayyad ruler to have been
recognized by subsequent Islamic tradition as a genuine caliph (khalifa) and not merely as a
worldly king (malik).
Umar is honored for his attempt to resolve the fiscal problems attendant upon conversion to
Islam. During the Umayyad period, the majority of people living within the caliphate were not
Muslim, but Christian, Jewish, Zoroastrian, or members of other small groups. These religious
communities were not forced to convert to Islam, but were subject to a tax (jizyah) which was
not imposed upon Muslims. This situation may actually have made widespread conversion to
Islam undesirable from the point of view of state revenue, and there are reports that provincial
governors actively discouraged such conversions. It is not clear how Umar attempted to resolve
this situation, but the sources portray him as having insisted on like treatment of Arab and non-
Arab (mawali) Muslims, and on the removal of obstacles to the conversion of non-Arabs to
Islam.
After the death of Umar, another son of Abd al-Malik, Yazid II (720–24) became caliph. Yazid
is best known for his "iconoclastic edict", which ordered the destruction of Christian images
within the territory of the Caliphate. In 720, another major revolt arose in Iraq, this time led
by Yazid ibn al-Muhallab.
Hisham and the limits of military expansionEdit

The North gate of the city of Resafa, site of Hisham's palace and court

The final son of Abd al-Malik to become caliph was Hisham (724–43), whose long and eventful
reign was above all marked by the curtailment of military expansion. Hisham established his
court at Resafa in northern Syria, which was closer to the Byzantine border than Damascus, and
resumed hostilities against the Byzantines, which had lapsed following the failure of the last
siege of Constantinople. The new campaigns resulted in a number of successful raids
into Anatolia, but also in a major defeat (the Battle of Akroinon), and did not lead to any
significant territorial expansion.
From the caliphate's north-western African bases, a series of raids on coastal areas of
the Visigothic Kingdom paved the way to the permanent occupation of most of Iberia by the
Umayyads (starting in 711), and on into south-eastern Gaul (last stronghold at Narbonne in 759).
Hisham's reign witnessed the end of expansion in the west, following the defeat of the Arab army
by the Franks at the Battle of Tours in 732. In 739 a major Berber Revolt broke out in North
Africa, was probably the largest military setback in the reign of Caliph Hisham. From it,
emerged some of the first Muslim states outside the Caliphate. It is also regarded as the
beginning of Moroccan independence, as Morocco would never again come under the rule of an
eastern Caliph or any other foreign power until the 20th century. It was followed by the collapse
of Umayyad authority in al-Andalus. In India the Arab armies were defeated by the south
Indian Chalukya dynasty and by the north Indian Pratiharas Dynasty in the 8th century and the
Arabs were driven out of India.[49][50][51]
In the Caucasus, the confrontation with the Khazars peaked under Hisham: the Arabs
established Derbent as a major military base and launched several invasions of the northern
Caucasus, but failed to subdue the nomadic Khazars. The conflict was arduous and bloody, and
the Arab army even suffered a major defeat at the Battle of Marj Ardabil in 730. Marwan ibn
Muhammad, the future Marwan II, finally ended the war in 737 with a massive invasion that is
reported to have reached as far as the Volga, but the Khazars remained unsubdued.
The Umayyad Caliphate at its greatest extent in 750 AD

Hisham suffered still worse defeats in the east, where his armies attempted to subdue
both Tokharistan, with its center at Balkh, and Transoxiana, with its center at Samarkand. Both
areas had already been partially conquered, but remained difficult to govern. Once again, a
particular difficulty concerned the question of the conversion of non-Arabs, especially
the Sogdians of Transoxiana. Following the Umayyad defeat in the "Day of Thirst" in 724,
Ashras ibn 'Abd Allah al-Sulami, governor of Khurasan, promised tax relief to those Sogdians
who converted to Islam, but went back on his offer when it proved too popular and threatened to
reduce tax revenues.
Discontent among the Khurasani Arabs rose sharply after the losses suffered in the Battle of the
Defile in 731. In 734, al-Harith ibn Surayjled a revolt that received broad backing from Arabs
and natives alike, capturing Balkh but failing to take Merv. After this defeat, al-Harith's
movement seems to have been dissolved. The problem of the rights of non-Arab Muslims would
continue to plague the Umayyads.
Third FitnaEdit
Main article: Third Fitna

Hisham was succeeded by Al-Walid II (743–44), the son of Yazid II. Al-Walid is reported to
have been more interested in earthly pleasures than in religion, a reputation that may be
confirmed by the decoration of the so-called "desert palaces" (including Qusayr
Amra and Khirbat al-Mafjar) that have been attributed to him. He quickly attracted the enmity of
many, both by executing a number of those who had opposed his accession, and by persecuting
the Qadariyya.
In 744, Yazid III, a son of al-Walid I, was proclaimed caliph in Damascus, and his army tracked
down and killed al-Walid II. Yazid III has received a certain reputation for piety, and may have
been sympathetic to the Qadariyya. He died a mere six months into his reign.
Yazid had appointed his brother, Ibrahim, as his successor, but Marwan II (744–50), the
grandson of Marwan I, led an army from the northern frontier and entered Damascus in
December 744, where he was proclaimed caliph. Marwan immediately moved the capital north
to Harran, in present-day Turkey. A rebellion soon broke out in Syria, perhaps due to resentment
over the relocation of the capital, and in 746 Marwan razed the walls of Homs and Damascus in
retaliation.
Marwan also faced significant opposition from Kharijites in Iraq and Iran, who put forth
first Dahhak ibn Qays and then Abu Dulaf as rival caliphs. In 747, Marwan managed to
reestablish control of Iraq, but by this time a more serious threat had arisen in Khorasan.
Abbasid RevolutionEdit
Main article: Abbasid Revolution
The Caliphate at the beginning of the Abbasid revolt, before the Battle of the Zab

The Hashimiyya movement (a sub-sect of the Kaysanites Shia), led by the Abbasidfamily,
overthrew the Umayyad caliphate. The Abbasids were members of the Hashimclan, rivals of the
Umayyads, but the word "Hashimiyya" seems to refer specifically to Abu Hashim, a grandson of
Ali and son of Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyya. According to certain traditions, Abu Hashim died
in 717 in Humeima in the house of Muhammad ibn Ali, the head of the Abbasid family, and
before dying named Muhammad ibn Ali as his successor. This tradition allowed the Abbasids to
rally the supporters of the failed revolt of Mukhtar, who had represented themselves as the
supporters of Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyya.
Beginning around 719, Hashimiyya missions began to seek adherents in Khurasan. Their
campaign was framed as one of proselytism (dawah). They sought support for a "member of the
family" of Muhammad, without making explicit mention of the Abbasids. These missions met
with success both among Arabs and non-Arabs (mawali), although the latter may have played a
particularly important role in the growth of the movement.
Around 746, Abu Muslim assumed leadership of the Hashimiyya in Khurasan. In 747, he
successfully initiated an open revolt against Umayyad rule, which was carried out under the sign
of the black flag. He soon established control of Khurasan, expelling its Umayyad
governor, Nasr ibn Sayyar, and dispatched an army westwards. Kufa fell to the Hashimiyya in
749, the last Umayyad stronghold in Iraq, Wasit, was placed under siege, and in November of the
same year Abul Abbas as-Saffah was recognized as the new caliph in the mosque at Kufa.[citation
needed] At this point Marwan mobilized his troops from Harran and advanced toward Iraq. In
January 750 the two forces met in the Battle of the Zab, and the Umayyads were defeated.
Damascus fell to the Abbasids in April, and in August, Marwan was killed in Egypt.
The victors desecrated the tombs of the Umayyads in Syria, sparing only that of Umar II, and
most of the remaining members of the Umayyad family were tracked down and killed. When
Abbasids declared amnesty for members of the Umayyad family, eighty gathered to receive
pardons, and all were massacred. One grandson of Hisham, Abd al-Rahman I, survived, escaped
across North Africa, and established an emirate in Moorish Iberia (Al-Andalus). In a claim
unrecognized outside of al-Andalus, he maintained that the Umayyad Caliphate, the true,
authentic caliphate, more legitimate than the Abbasids, was continued through him in Córdoba. It
was to survive for centuries.
Previté-Orton argues that the reasons for the decline of the Umayyads was the rapid expansion of
Islam. During Umayyad period, mass conversions brought Persians, Berbers, Copts, and
Aramaics to Islam. These mawalis (enslaved) were often better educated and more civilised than
their Arab invaders. The new converts, on the basis of equality of all Muslims, transformed the
political landscape. Previté-Orton also argues that the feud between Syria and Iraq further
weakened the empire.[52]
Umayyad administrationEdit
The first four caliphs created a stable administration for the empire, following the practices and
administrative institutions of the Byzantine Empire which had ruled the same region
previously.[53] These consisted of four main governmental branches: political affairs, military
affairs, tax collection, and religious administration. Each of these was further subdivided into
more branches, offices, and departments.
ProvincesEdit
Geographically, the empire was divided into several provinces, the borders of which changed
numerous times during the Umayyad reign. Each province had a governor appointed by the
caliph. The governor was in charge of the religious officials, army leaders, police, and civil
administrators in his province. Local expenses were paid for by taxes coming from that province,
with the remainder each year being sent to the central government in Damascus. As the central
power of the Umayyad rulers waned in the later years of the dynasty, some governors neglected
to send the extra tax revenue to Damascus and created great personal fortunes.[54]
Government workersEdit
As the empire grew, the number of qualified Arab workers was too small to keep up with the
rapid expansion of the empire. Therefore, Muawiya allowed many of the local government
workers in conquered provinces to keep their jobs under the new Umayyad government. Thus,
much of the local government's work was recorded in Greek, Coptic, and Persian. It was only
during the reign of Abd al-Malik that government work began to be regularly recorded in
Arabic.[54]
CurrencyEdit

Coin of the Umayyad Caliphate, based on a Byzantine prototype, 695


A coin weight from the Umayyad Dynasty, dated 743, made of glass. One of the oldest Islamic objects in an American
museum, the Walters Art Museum.

The Byzantine and Sassanid Empires relied on money economies before the Muslim conquest,
and that system remained in effect during the Umayyad period. Byzantine copper coins were
used until 658, while Byzantine gold coins were still in use until the monetary reforms
c.700.[55] In addition to this, the Umayyad government began to mint its own coins in Damascus,
these were initially similar to pre-existing coins but evolved in an independent direction. These
were the first coins minted by a Muslim government in history. Gold coins were called dinars
while silver coins were called dirhams.[54]
Central diwansEdit
To assist the Caliph in administration there were six Boards at the Centre: Diwan al-Kharaj (the
Board of Revenue), Diwan al-Rasa'il (the Board of Correspondence), Diwan al-Khatam (the
Board of Signet), Diwan al-Barid (the Board of Posts), Diwan al-Qudat (the Board of Justice)
and Diwan al-Jund (the Military Board)

Diwan al-KharajEdit
The Central Board of Revenue administered the entire finances of the empire. It also imposed
and collected taxes and disbursed revenue.

Diwan al-Rasa'ilEdit
A regular Board of Correspondence was established under the Umayyads. It issued state missives
and circulars to the Central and Provincial Officers. It co-ordinated the work of all Boards and
dealt with all correspondence as the chief secretariat.

Diwan al-KhatamEdit
In order to check forgery, Diwan al-Khatam (Bureau of Registry), a kind of state chancellery,
was instituted by Mu'awiyah. It used to make and preserve a copy of each official document
before sealing and despatching the original to its destination. Thus in the course of time a state
archive developed in Damascus by the Umayyads under Abd al-Malik. This department survived
till the middle of the Abbasid period.
Diwan al-BaridEdit
Main article: Barid (caliphate)

Mu'awiyah introduced postal service, Abd al-Malik extended it throughout his empire, and
Walid made full use of it. The Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik developed a regular postal service.
Umar bin Abdul-Aziz developed it further by building caravanserais at stages along the
Khurasan highway. Relays of horses were used for the conveyance of dispatches between the
caliph and his agents and officials posted in the provinces. The main highways were divided into
stages of 12 miles (19 km) each and each stage had horses, donkeys or camels ready to carry the
post. Primarily the service met the needs of Government officials, but travellers and their
important dispatches were also benefitted by the system. The postal carriages were also used for
the swift transport of troops. They were able to carry fifty to a hundred men at a time. Under
Governor Yusuf bin Umar, the postal department of Iraq cost 4,000,000 dirhams a year.

Diwan al-QudatEdit
[citation needed]

In the early period of Islam, justice was administered by Muhammad and the orthodox Caliphs in
person. After the expansion of the Islamic State, Umar al-Faruq had to separate judiciary from
the general administration and appointed the first qadi in Egypt as early as AD 643/23 AH. After
661, a series of judges succeeded one after another in Egypt under the Umayyad Caliphs,
Hisham and Walid II.

Diwan al-JundEdit
The Diwan of Umar, assigning annuities to all Arabs and to the Muslim soldiers of other races,
underwent a change in the hands of the Umayyads. The Umayyads meddled with the register and
the recipients regarded pensions as the subsistence allowance even without being in active
service. Hisham reformed it and paid only to those who participated in battle. On the pattern of
the Byzantine system the Umayyads reformed their army organization in general and divided it
into five corps: the centre, two wings, vanguards and rearguards, following the same formation
while on march or on a battle field. Marwan II (740–50) abandoned the old division and
introduced Kurdus (cohort), a small compact body. The Umayyad troops were divided into three
divisions: infantry, cavalry and artillery. Arab troops were dressed and armed in Greek fashion.
The Umayyad cavalry used plain and round saddles. The artillery used arradah (ballista),
manjaniq (the mangonel) and dabbabah or kabsh (the battering ram). The heavy engines, siege
machines and baggage were carried on camels behind the army.
Social organizationEdit

Ivory (circa 8th century) discovered in the Abbasid homestead in Humeima, Jordan. The style indicates an origin in
northeastern Iran, the base of Hashimiyya military power.[56]

The Umayyad Caliphate exhibited four main social classes:

1. Muslim Arabs
2. Muslim non-Arabs (clients of the Muslim Arabs)
3. Dhimmis, non-Muslim free persons (Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, and others)
4. Slaves

The Muslim Arabs were at the top of the society and saw it as their duty to rule over the
conquered areas. Despite the fact that Islam teaches the equality of all Muslims, the Arab
Muslims held themselves in higher esteem than Muslim non-Arabs and generally did not mix
with other Muslims.

The inequality of Muslims in the empire led to social unrest. As Islam spread, more and more of
the Muslim population was constituted of non-Arabs. This caused tension as the new converts
were not given the same rights as Muslim Arabs. Also, as conversions increased, tax revenues
from non-Muslims decreased to dangerous lows. These issues continued to grow until they
helped cause the Abbasid Revolt in the 740s.[57]
Non-MuslimsEdit
Non-Muslim groups in the Umayyad Caliphate, which included Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians,
and pagan Berbers, were called dhimmis. They were given a legally protected status as second-
class citizens as long as they accepted and acknowledged the political supremacy of the ruling
Muslims, i.e. paid a tax, known as jizya, which the Muslims did not have to pay, who would
instead pay the zakat tax. If they converted to Islam they would cease paying jizya and would
instead pay zakat. They were allowed to have their own courts, and were given freedom of their
religion within the empire.[citation needed] Although they could not hold the highest public offices in
the empire, they had many bureaucratic positions within the government. Christians and Jews
still continued to produce great theological thinkers within their communities, but as time wore
on, many of the intellectuals converted to Islam, leading to a lack of great thinkers in the non-
Muslim communities.[58]
LegacyEdit
Currently many Sunni scholars agree that Muawiyah I's family, including his progenitors, Abu
Sufyan ibn Harb and Hind bint Utbah, were originally opponents of Islam and particularly
of Muhammad until the Conquest of Mecca.
However many early history books like the Islamic Conquest of Syria Fatuhusham by al-Imam
al-Waqidi state that after the conversion to Islam Muawiyah I's father Abu Sufyan ibn Harb and
his brothers Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan were appointed as commanders in the Muslim armies by
Muhammad. Muawiyah I, Abu Sufyan ibn Harb, Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan and Hind bint
Utbah[59][60][60][61][62][63] fought in the Battle of Yarmouk. The defeat of the Byzantine
Emperor Heraclius at the Battle of Yarmouk opened the way for the Muslim expansion into
Jerusalem and Syria.
In 639, Muawiyah was appointed as the governor of Syria by the second caliph Umar after his
brother the previous governor Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan and the governor before him Abu Ubaidah
ibn al-Jarrah died in a plague along with 25,000 other people.[64][65] 'Amr ibn al-'As was sent to
take on the Roman Army in Egypt. Fearing an attack by the Romans, Umar asked Muawiyah to
defend against a Roman attack.
With limited resources Muawiyah went about creating allies. Muawiyah married Maysum the
daughter of the chief of the Kalb tribe, that was a large Jacobite Christian Arab tribe in Syria. His
marriage to Maysum was politically motivated. The Kalb tribe had remained largely neutral
when the Muslims first went into Syria.[66] After the plague that killed much of the Muslim
Army in Syria, by marrying Maysum, Muawiyah started to use the Jacobite Christians, against
the Romans. Muawiya's wife Maysum (Yazid's mother) was also a Jacobite Christian.[67] With
limited resources and the Byzantine just over the border, Muawiyah worked in cooperation with
the local Christian population. To stop Byzantine harassment from the sea during the Arab-
Byzantine Wars, in 649 Muawiyah set up a navy; manned by Monophysitise
Christians, Copts and Jacobite Syrian Christians sailors and Muslim troops.[68][69]
Muawiya was one of the first to realize the full importance of having a navy; as long as the
Byzantine fleet could sail the Mediterranean unopposed, the coast line of Syria, Palestine and
Egypt would never be safe. Muawiyah along with Adbullah ibn Sa'd the new governor of Egypt
successfully persuaded Uthman to give them permission to construct a large fleet in the
dockyards of Egypt and Syria[68][69]
The first real naval engagement between the Muslim and the Byzantine navy was the so-
called Battle of the Masts (Dhat al-sawari) or battle of Phoenix off the Lycian coast in
655.[70] This resulted in the defeat of the Byzantine navy at the Battle of the Masts in 655,
opening up the Mediterranean.[68][69][71][72][73][74][75]
Muawiyah I came to power after the death of Ali and established a dynasty.
Historical significanceEdit
The Umayyad caliphate was marked both by territorial expansion and by the administrative and
cultural problems that such expansion created. Despite some notable exceptions, the Umayyads
tended to favor the rights of the old Arab families, and in particular their own, over those of
newly converted Muslims (mawali). Therefore, they held to a less universalist conception of
Islam than did many of their rivals. As G.R. Hawting has written, "Islam was in fact regarded as
the property of the conquering aristocracy."[76]
During the period of the Umayyads, Arabic became the administrative language. State
documents and currency were issued in the language. Mass conversions brought a large influx of
Muslims to the caliphate. The Umayyads also constructed famous buildings such as the Dome of
the Rock at Jerusalem, and the Umayyad Mosque at Damascus.[77]
According to one common view, the Umayyads transformed the caliphate from a religious
institution (during the rashidun) to a dynastic one.[77] However, the Umayyad caliphs do seem to
have understood themselves as the representatives of God on earth, and to have been responsible
for the "definition and elaboration of God's ordinances, or in other words the definition or
elaboration of Islamic law."[78]
The Umayyads have met with a largely negative reception from later Islamic historians, who
have accused them of promoting a kingship (mulk, a term with connotations of tyranny) instead
of a true caliphate (khilafa). In this respect it is notable that the Umayyad caliphs referred to
themselves not as khalifat rasul Allah ("successor of the messenger of God", the title preferred
by the tradition), but rather as khalifat Allah("deputy of God"). The distinction seems to indicate
that the Umayyads "regarded themselves as God's representatives at the head of the community
and saw no need to share their religious power with, or delegate it to, the emergent class of
religious scholars."[79] In fact, it was precisely this class of scholars, based largely in Iraq, that
was responsible for collecting and recording the traditions that form the primary source material
for the history of the Umayyad period. In reconstructing this history, therefore, it is necessary to
rely mainly on sources, such as the histories of Tabari and Baladhuri, that were written in the
Abbasid court at Baghdad.
Modern Arab nationalism regards the period of the Umayyads as part of the Arab Golden Age
which it sought to emulate and restore.[dubious – discuss] This is particularly true of Syrian
nationalists and the present-day state of Syria, centered like that of the Umayyads on
Damascus.[citation needed]
The Umayyad dynastic color was white, after the banner of Muawiya ibn Abi Sufyan;[80] it is
now one of the four Pan-Arab colors which appear in various combinations on the flags of most
Arab countries.
Theological opinions concerning the UmayyadsEdit
Sunni opinionsEdit
Many Muslims criticized the Umayyads for having too many non-Muslim, former Roman
administrators in their government. St John of Damascus was also a high administrator in the
Umayyad administration.[81] As the Muslims took over cities, they left the peoples political
representatives and the Roman tax collectors and the administrators. The taxes to the central
government were calculated and negotiated by the peoples political representatives. The Central
government got paid for the services it provided and the local government got the money for the
services it provided. Many Christian cities also used some of the taxes on maintain their churches
and run their own organizations. Later the Umayyads were criticized by some Muslims for not
reducing the taxes of the people who converted to Islam. These new converts continued to pay
the same taxes that were previously negotiated.[82]
Later when Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz came to power, he reduced these taxes. He is therefore praised
as one of the greatest Muslim rulers after the four Rightly Guided Caliphs. Imam Abu
Muhammad Adbullah ibn Abdul Hakam who lived in 829 and wrote a biography on Umar Ibn
Adbul Aziz[83] stated that the reduction in these taxes stimulated the economy and created wealth
but it also reduced the government budget and this then led to a reduction in the defense budget.
Only Umayyad ruler (Caliphs of Damascus), Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz, is unanimously praised by
Sunni sources for his devout piety and justice. In his efforts to spread Islam he established
liberties for the Mawali by abolishing the jizya tax for converts to Islam. Imam Abu Muhammad
Adbullah ibn Abdul Hakam stated that Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz also stopped the personal
allowance offered to his relatives stating that he could only give them an allowance if he gave an
allowance to everyone else in the empire. Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz was later poisoned in the year
720. When successive governments tried to reverse Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz's tax policies it
created rebellion.
Shi'a opinionsEdit
The negative view of the Umayyads by Shias is briefly expressed in the Shi'a book "Sulh al-
Hasan".[84] According to Shia hadiths, which are not considered authentic by
Sunnis, Ali described them as the worst Fitna.[85] In Shia sources, the Umayyad Caliphate is
widely described as "tyrannical, anti-Islamic and godless".[86][87] Shias point out that the founder
of the dynasty, Muawiyah, declared himself a caliph in 657 and went to war against
Muhammad's son-in-law and cousin, ruling caliph Ali, clashing at the Battle of Siffin. Muawiyah
also declared his son, Yazid, as a successor in breach of a treaty with Hassan, Muhammad's
grandson. Another of Muhammad's grandsons, Husayn ibn Ali, would be killed by Yazid in
the Battle of Karbala. Further Shia Imams, such as Muhammad's great-grandson, Ali ibn Husayn
Zayn al-Abidinwould be killed at the hands of ruling Umayyad caliphs. Umayyads also
ordered regular cursing of Ali and his progeny in the state mosques.
Early literatureEdit
The book Al Muwatta by Imam Malik was written in the early Abbasid period in Madina. It does
not contain any anti-Umayyad content because it was more concerned with what the Quran and
what Muhammad said and was not a history book on the Umayyads.
Even the earliest pro-Shia accounts of al-Masudi are more balanced. al-Masudi in Ibn Hisham is
the earliest Shia account of Muawiyah. He recounted that Muawiyah spent a great deal of time in
prayer, in spite of the burden of managing a large empire.[88]
Az-Zuhri stated that Muawiya led the Hajj Pilgrimage with the people twice during his era as
caliph.

Books written in the early Abbasid period like al-Baladhuri's "The Origins of the Islamic State"
provide a more accurate and balanced history. Ibn Hisham also wrote about these events.

Much of the anti-Umayyad literature started to appear in the later Abbasid period in Persia.

After killing off most of the Umayyads and destroying the graves of the Umayyad rulers apart
from Muawiyah and Umar ibn Adb al-Aziz, the history books written during the later Abbasid
period are more anti-Umayyad.[89] The Abbasids justified their rule by saying that their
ancestor Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib was a cousin of Muhammad.
The books written later in the Abbasid period in Iran are more anti-Umayyad. Iran was Sunni at
the time. There was much anti-Arab feeling in Iran after the fall of the Persian empire.[90] This
anti-Arab feeling also influenced the books on Islamic history. Al-Tabri was also written in Iran
during that period. Al-Tabri was a huge collection including all the texts that he could find, from
all the sources. It was a collection preserving everything for future generations to codify and for
future generations to judge whether the histories were true or false.
Bahá'í standpointEdit
Asked for an explanation of the prophecies in the Book of Revelation (12:3), `Abdu'l-
Bahá suggests in Some Answered Questions that the "great red dragon, having seven heads and
ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads,"[91] refers to the Umayyad caliphs who "rose
against the religion of Prophet Muhammad and against the reality of Ali".[92][93]
The seven heads of the dragon is symbolic of the seven provinces of the lands dominated by the
Umayyads: Damascus, Persia, Arabia, Egypt, Africa, Andalusia, and Transoxania. The ten horns
represent the ten names of the leaders of the Umayyad dynasty; Abu Sufyan, Muawiya, Yazid,
Marwan, Abd al-Malik, Walid, Sulayman, Umar, Hisham, and Ibrahim. Some names were re-
used, as in the case of Yazid II and Yazid III, which were not counted for this interpretation.

List of CaliphsEdit

Genealogic tree of the Umayyad family. In blue: Caliph Uthman, one of the four Rashidun Caliphs. In green, the Umayyad
Caliphs of Damascus. In yellow, the Umayyad emirs of Córdoba. In orange, the Umayyad Caliphs of Córdoba. Abd Al-
Rahman III was an emir until 929 when he proclaimed himself Caliph. Muhammad is included (in caps) to show the
kinship of the Umayyads with him.

Caliph Reign

Caliphs of Damascus

Muawiya I ibn Abu Sufyan 28 July 661 – 27 April 680

Yazid I ibn Muawiyah 27 April 680 – 11 November 683

Muawiya II ibn Yazid 11 November 683– June 684


Marwan I ibn al-Hakam June 684– 12 April 685

Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan 12 April 685 – 8 October 705

al-Walid I ibn Abd al-Malik 8 October 705 – 23 February 715

Sulayman ibn Abd al-Malik 23 February 715 – 22 September 717

Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz 22 September 717 – 4 February 720

Yazid II ibn Abd al-Malik 4 February 720 – 26 January 724

Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik 26 January 724 – 6 February 743

al-Walid II ibn Yazid 6 February 743 – 17 April 744

Yazid III ibn al-Walid 17 April 744 – 4 October 744

Ibrahim ibn al-Walid 4 October 744 – 4 December 744

Marwan II ibn Muhammad (ruled from Harran in the Jazira) 4 December 744 – 25 January 750

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