Abd al-Malik


Abd al-Malik

Infobox Monarch
name =Abd al-Malik
title =Caliph of the Umayyad dynasty
reign =685 – 705
full name =Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan
predecessor =Marwan I
successor =Al-Walid I
dynasty =Umayyad
father =Marwan I
date of birth =646
date of death =705|

Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan (646-705) ( _ar. عبد الملك بن مروان) was the 5th Umayyad Caliph. Abd al-Malik was a well-educated man and capable ruler, despite the many political problems that impeded his rule. Ibn Khaldun states: "“Abdul Malik Ibn Marwan is one of the greatest Arab and Muslim Caliphs. He followed in the footsteps of `Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, the Commander of the Believers, in regulating state affairs.”"

In his reign, all important records were translated into Arabic, and for the first time a special currency for the Muslim world was minted, which led to war with the Byzantine Empire under Justinian II. The Byzantines were led by Leontios at the Battle of Sebastopolis in 692 in Asia Minor and were decisively defeated by the Caliph after the defection of a large contingent of Slavs. The Islamic currency was then made the only currency exchange in the Muslim world. Also, many reforms happened in his time as regards agriculture and commerce.

Campaigns in Iraq and Hejaz

Abd al-Malik became caliph after the death of his father Marwan I in 685. Within a few years, he dispatched armies, under al-Hajjaj bin Yousef, on a campaign to reassert Umayyad control over the Islamic empire. Hajjaj first defeated the governor of Basra and then led his forces into Hejaz, where Ibn Zubayr was killed - ending his short claim to the caliphate.The Siege of Mecca in 692CE started with Hajjaj at the head of about 2000 Syrians he set out against Abd-Allah ibn al-Zubayr, the caliph of Hejaz at Mecca. He advanced unopposed as far as his native Taif, which he took without any fighting and used as a base. The caliph had charged him first to negotiate with Abd-Allah ibn al-Zubayr and to assure him of freedom from punishment if he capitulated, but, if the opposition continued, to starve him out by siege, but on no account to let the affair result in bloodshed in the Holy City. Since the negotiations failed and al-Hajjaj lost patience, he sent a courier to ask Abd al-Malik for reinforcements and also for permission to take Mecca by force. He received both, and thereupon bombarded the Holy City using catapults from the mountain of "Abu Qubays".The bombardment continued during the Pilgrimage or Hajj. A sudden thunderstorm, in which the uneasy soldiers detected a warning of Divine punishment, he was able to convince them that it was a sign of victory.After the siege had lasted for seven months and 10,000 men, among them two of Abdullah Ibn al-Zubair 's sons, had gone over to al-Hajjaj, Abd-Allah ibn al-Zubayr with a few loyal followers, including his youngest son, were killed in the fighting around the Kaaba (Jumadah I 73/October 692)

Hajjaj's success led Abd al-Malik to assign him the role of governor of Iraq and give him free rein in the territories he controlled. Hajjaj arrived when there were many deserters in Basra and Kufa. He promptly and forcefully impelled them to return to combat. Hajjaj, after years of serious fighting, quelled religious disturbances, including the rebellion launched by Salih ibn Musarrih and continued after Salih's death by Shabib. These rebels repeatedly defeated more numerous forces and at their height entered Kufah. However, Abd al-Malik's Syrian reinforcements enabled Hajjaj to turn the tide.

Under Hajjaj, Arab armies put down the revolt of Abd al-Rahman ibn Muhammad ibn al-Ash'ath in Iraq from 699 to 701 CE, and also took most of Turkestan. Abd al-Rahman rebelled following Hajjaj's repeated orders to push further into the lands of Zundil. After his defeat in Iraq, again achieved through Abd al-Malik's dispatch of Syrian reinforcements to Hajjaj, Abd ar Rahman returned east. There one city closed its gates to him and in another he was seized. However, Zundil's army arrived and secured his release. Later, Abd ar Rahman died and Zundil sent his head to Hajjaj who sent it to Abd al-Malik. These victories paved the way for greater expansions under Abd al-Malik's son Al-Walid.

Campaigns in North Africa

Caliph Abd al-Malik was effective in increasing the size of the empire. In Maghreb (western North Africa) in 686 CE a force led by Zuhayr ibn Qais won the Battle of Mamma over Byzantines and Berbers led by Kusaila, on the Qairawan plain, and re-took Ifriqiya and its capital Kairouan.

In 695 Hasan ibn al-Nu'man captured Carthage and advanced into the Atlas Mountains. A Byzantine fleet arrived, retook Carthage but in 698 Hasan ibn al-Nu'man returned and defeated Tiberios III at the Battle of Carthage. The Byzantines withdrew from all of Africa except Ceuta.

Hasan met trouble from the Zenata tribe of Berbers under al-Kahina. They inflicted a serious defeat on him and drove him back to Barqa. However, in 702 Abd al-Malik strongly reinforced him.Now with a large army and the support of the settled population of North Africa, Hasan pushed forward. He decisively defeated the Zenata in a battle at Tabarka, 85 miles west of Carthage. He then developed the village of Tunis ten miles from the destroyed Carthage. Around 705 Musa ibn Nusayr replaced Hasan. He pacified much of North Africa, though he failed to take Ceuta.

Reforms

Abd al-Malik instituted many reforms such as: making Arabic the official language of government across the entire empire, instituting a mint that produced a uniform set of aniconic currency, expansion and reorganization of postal service, repairing the damaged Kaaba and beginning the tradition of weaving a silk cover for the Kaaba in Damascus.

Art and Architecture

He also built the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, but parts of that city were also destroyed when Abd al-Malik's armies put down an uprising there. The Muslim scholar al-Wasiti reports this incidence:

The two engineers Yazid ibn Salam, a Jerusalemite, and Raja' ibn Hayweh, from Baysan, were ordered to spend generously on the construction. In his "Book of the Geography", al-Maqdisi reported that seven times the revenue of Egypt was used to build the Dome. During a discussion with his uncle on why the Caliph spent lavishly on building the mosques in Jerusalem and Damascus, al-Maqdisi writes:

The last years of his reign were generally peaceful. Abd al-Malik wanted to appoint his son al-Walid I as his successor, ignoring his father's orders to appoint Abd al-Malik's brother, Abd al-Aziz. However, Abd al-Malik accepted advice not to create disturbances by carrying out this design. It turned out to be unnecessary, as Abd al-Aziz died before Abd al-Malik. Abd al-Malik then had his sons al-Walid and Sulayman, in that order, accepted as heirs to the throne.

References

Bibliography

*Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari v. 21 "The Victory of the Marwanids," transl. Michael Fishbein, SUNY, Albany, 1990; v.22 "The Marwanid Restoration," transl. Everett K. Rowson, SUNY, Albany, 1989; v. 23 "The Zenith of the Marwanid House," transl. Martin Hinds, SUNY, Albany, 1990.
*John Bagot Glubb The Empire of the Arabs, Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1963


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