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22 min
Umayyad Caliphate
661 - 750

Umayyad Caliphate

Words: nono umasy


The Umayyad Caliphate was the second of the four major caliphates established after the death of Muhammad. The caliphate was ruled by the Umayyad dynasty. Uthman ibn Affan (r. 644–656), the third of the Rashidun caliphs, was also a member of the clan. The family established dynastic, hereditary rule with Muawiya ibn Abi Sufyan, long-time governor of Greater Syria, who became the sixth caliph after the end of the First Fitna in 661. After Mu'awiyah's death in 680, conflicts over the succession resulted in the Second Fitna, and power eventually fell into the hands of Marwan I from another branch of the clan. Greater Syria remained the Umayyads' main power base thereafter, with Damascus serving as their capital. The Umayyads continued the Muslim conquests, incorporating the Transoxiana, Sindh, the Maghreb and the Iberian Peninsula (Al-Andalus) under Islamic rule. At its greatest extent, the Umayyad Caliphate covered 11,100,000 km2 (4,300,000 sq mi), making it one of the largest empires in history in terms of area. The dynasty in most of the Islamic world was eventually overthrown by a rebellion led by the Abbasids in 750.






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627 Jan 1

Prologue

Mecca Saudi Arabia


Prologue


During the pre-Islamic period, the Umayyads or "Banu Umayya" were a leading clan of the Quraysh tribe of Mecca. By the end of the 6th century, the Umayyads dominated the Quraysh's increasingly prosperous trade networks with Syria and developed economic and military alliances with the nomadic Arab tribes that controlled the northern and central Arabian desert expanses, affording the clan a degree of political power in the region. The Umayyads under the leadership of Abu Sufyan ibn Harb were the principal leaders of Meccan opposition to the Islamic prophet Muhammad, but after the latter captured Mecca in 630, Abu Sufyan and the Quraysh embraced Islam. To reconcile his influential Qurayshite tribesmen, Muhammad gave his former opponents, including Abu Sufyan, a stake in the new order. Abu Sufyan and the Umayyads relocated to Medina, Islam's political centre, to maintain their new-found political influence in the nascent Muslim community.


Muhammad's death in 632 left open the succession of leadership of the Muslim community. The Muhajirun gave allegiance to one of their own, the early, elderly companion of Muhammad, Abu Bakr, and put an end to Ansarite deliberations. Abu Bakr was viewed as acceptable by the Ansar and the Qurayshite elite and was acknowledged as caliph (leader of the Muslim community). He showed favor to the Umayyads by awarding them command roles in the Muslim conquest of Syria. One of the appointees was Yazid, the son of Abu Sufyan, who owned property and maintained trade networks in Syria.


Abu Bakr's successor Umar (r. 634–644) curtailed the influence of the Qurayshite elite in favor of Muhammad's earlier supporters in the administration and military, but nonetheless allowed the growing foothold of Abu Sufyan's sons in Syria, which was all but conquered by 638. When Umar's overall commander of the province Abu Ubayda ibn al-Jarrah died in 639, he appointed Yazid governor of Syria's Damascus, Palestine and Jordan districts. Yazid died shortly after and Umar appointed his brother Mu'awiya in his place. Umar's exceptional treatment of Abu Sufyan's sons may have stemmed from his respect for the family, their burgeoning alliance with the powerful Banu Kalb tribe as a counterbalance to the influential Himyarite settlers in Homs who viewed themselves as equals to the Quraysh in nobility or the lack of a suitable candidate at the time, particularly amid the plague of Amwas which had already killed Abu Ubayda and Yazid. Under Mu'awiya's stewardship, Syria remained domestically peaceful, organized and well-defended from its former Byzantine rulers.


654 Jan 1

Muawiya captured naval base at Rhodes

Rhodes, Greece


Muawiya captured naval base at Rhodes


Dominance of the eastern Mediterranean enabled Mu'awiya's naval forces to raid Crete and Rhodes in 653. From the raid on Rhodes, Mu'awiya remitted significant war spoils to Uthman. In 654 or 655, a joint naval expedition launched from Alexandria, Egypt and the harbors of Syria routed a Byzantine fleet commanded by the Byzantine Emperor Constans II (r. 641–668) off the Lycian coast at the Battle of the Masts. Constans II was forced to sail to Sicily, opening the way for an ultimately unsuccessful Arab naval attack on Constantinople. The Arabs were commanded by either the governor of Egypt, Abd Allah ibn Abi Sarh, or Mu'awiya's lieutenant Abu'l-A'war. Nonetheless, the Muslim victory was a significant event in the naval history of the Mediterranean Sea. From long being considered a ‘Roman lake’, the Mediterranean became a contending point between the naval might of the rising Caliphate and the Eastern Roman Empire. The victory also paved the path for uncontested Muslim expansion along the coastline of North Africa.


661 Jan 1

Mu'awiya establishes the Umayyad Dynasty

Damascus, Syria


Mu'awiya establishes the Umayyad Dynasty


There is little information in the early Muslim sources about Mu'awiya's rule in Syria, the center of his caliphate. He established his court in Damascus and moved the caliphal treasury there from Kufa. He relied on his Syrian tribal soldiery, numbering about 100,000 men, increasing their pay at the expense of the Iraqi garrisons,;also about 100,000 soldiers combined.


Mu'awiya is credited by the early Muslim sources for establishing diwans (government departments) for correspondences (rasa'il), chancellery (khatam) and the postal route (barid). According to al-Tabari, following an assassination attempt by the Kharijite al-Burak ibn Abd Allah on Mu'awiya while he was praying in the mosque of Damascus in 661, Mu'awiya established a caliphal haras (personal guard) and shurta (select troops) and the maqsura (reserved area) within mosques.


665 Jan 1

Conquest of central North Africa

Sousse, Tunisia


Conquest of central North Africa
| ©Angus McBride


Although the Arabs had not advanced beyond Cyrenaica since the 640s other than periodic raids, the expeditions against Byzantine North Africa were renewed during Mu'awiya's reign.


In 665 or 666 Ibn Hudayj led an army which raided Byzacena (southern district of Byzantine Africa) and Gabes and temporarily captured Bizerte before withdrawing to Egypt. The following year Mu'awiya dispatched Fadala and Ruwayfi ibn Thabit to raid the commercially valuable island of Djerba.Meanwhile, in 662 or 667, Uqba ibn Nafi, a Qurayshite commander who had played a key role in the Arabs' capture of Cyrenaica in 641, reasserted Muslim influence in the Fezzan region, capturing the Zawila oasis and the Garamantes capital of Germa. He may have raided as far south as Kawar in modern-day Niger.



674 Jan 1

Siege of Constantinople

İstanbul, Turkey


Siege of Constantinople
Depiction of the use of Greek fire | ©Madrid Skylitzes


The first Arab siege of Constantinople in 674–678 was a major conflict of the Arab–Byzantine wars, and the first culmination of the Umayyad Caliphate's expansionist strategy towards the Byzantine Empire, led by Caliph Mu'awiya I. Mu'awiya, who had emerged in 661 as the ruler of the Muslim Arab empire following a civil war, renewed aggressive warfare against Byzantium after a lapse of some years and hoped to deliver a lethal blow by capturing the Byzantine capital, Constantinople. As reported by the Byzantine chronicler Theophanes the Confessor, the Arab attack was methodical: in 672–673 Arab fleets secured bases along the coasts of Asia Minor, and then proceeded to install a loose blockade around Constantinople. They used the peninsula of Cyzicus near the city as a base to spend the winter, and returned every spring to launch attacks against the city's fortifications. Finally, the Byzantines, under Emperor Constantine IV, managed to destroy the Arab navy using a new invention, the liquid incendiary substance known as Greek fire. The Byzantines also defeated the Arab land army in Asia Minor, forcing them to lift the siege.


The Byzantine victory was of major importance for the survival of the Byzantine state, as the Arab threat receded for a time. A peace treaty was signed soon after, and following the outbreak of another Muslim civil war, the Byzantines even experienced a period of ascendancy over the Caliphate.


680 Oct 10

Battle of Karbala

Karbala, Iraq


Battle of Karbala
Abbas Al-Musavi's Battle of Karbala


The Battle of Karbala was fought on 10 October 680 (10 Muharram in the year 61 AH of the Islamic calendar) between the army of the second Umayyad Caliph Yazid I and a small army led by Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, at Karbala, modern day Iraq. Husayn was killed along with most of his relatives and companions, while his surviving family members were taken prisoner. The battle was followed by the Second Fitna, during which the Iraqis organized two separate campaigns to avenge the death of Husayn; the first one by the Tawwabin and the other one by Mukhtar al-Thaqafi and his supporters.


The Battle of Karbala galvanized the development of the pro-Alid party (Shi'at Ali) into a unique religious sect with its own rituals and collective memory. It has a central place in the Shi'a history, tradition, and theology, and has frequently been recounted in Shi'a literature.;


680 Oct 11

Second Fitna

Arabian Peninsula


Second Fitna | © Kings and Generals


The Second Fitna was a period of general political and military disorder and civil war in the Islamic community during the early Umayyad Caliphate. It followed the death of the first Umayyad caliph Mu'awiya I in 680 and lasted for about twelve years. The war involved the suppression of two challenges to the Umayyad dynasty, the first by Husayn ibn Ali, as well as his supporters including Sulayman ibn Surad and Mukhtar al-Thaqafi who rallied for his revenge in Iraq, and the second by Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr.


Husayn ibn Ali was invited by the pro-Alids of Kufa to overthrow the Umayyads but was killed with his small company en route to Kufa at the Battle of Karbala in October 680. Yazid's army assaulted anti-government rebels in Medina in August 683 and subsequently besieged Mecca, where Ibn al-Zubayr had established himself in opposition to Yazid. After Yazid died in November, the siege was abandoned and Umayyad authority collapsed throughout the caliphate except in certain parts of Syria; most provinces recognized Ibn al-Zubayr as caliph.;A series of pro-Alid movements demanding revenge for Husayn's death emerged in Kufa beginning with Ibn Surad's Penitents movement, which was crushed by the Umayyads at the Battle of Ayn al-Warda in January 685. Kufa was then taken over by Mukhtar. Though his forces routed a large Umayyad army at the Battle of Khazir in August 686, Mukhtar and his supporters were slain by the Zubayrids in April 687 following a series of battles. Under the leadership of Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, the Umayyads reasserted control over the caliphate after defeating the Zubayrids at the Battle of Maskin in Iraq and killing Ibn al-Zubayr in the siege of Mecca in 692.


The events of the Second Fitna intensified sectarian tendencies in Islam and various doctrines were developed within what would later become the Sunni and Shi'a denominations of Islam.


683 Sep 24

Siege of Mecca Death of Yazid

Medina Saudi Arabia


Siege of Mecca Death of Yazid


The siege of Mecca in September–November 683 was one of the early battles of the Second Fitna. The city of Mecca was a sanctuary for Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr, who was among the most prominent challengers to the dynastic succession to the Caliphate by the Umayyad Yazid I. After nearby Medina, the other holy city of Islam, also rebelled against Yazid, the Umayyad ruler sent an army to subdue Arabia. The Umayyad army defeated the Medinans and took the city, but Mecca held out in a month-long siege, during which the Kaaba was damaged by fire. The siege ended when news came of Yazid's sudden death. The Umayyad commander, Husayn ibn Numayr al-Sakuni, after vainly trying to induce Ibn al-Zubayr to return with him to Syria and be recognized as Caliph, departed with his forces. Ibn al-Zubayr remained in Mecca throughout the civil war, but he was nevertheless soon acknowledged as Caliph across most of the Muslim world. It was not until 692, that the Umayyads were able to send another army which again besieged and captured Mecca, ending the civil war.


691 Jan 1

Dome of the Rock completed

Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem


Dome of the Rock completed
Cross section of the Dome (print from 1887, after the first detailed drawings of the Dome | ©Frederick Catherwood


The Dome of the Rock's initial construction was undertaken by the Umayyad Caliphate on the orders of Abd al-Malik during the Second Fitna in 691–692 CE, and it has since been situated on top of the site of the Second Jewish Temple (built in c. 516 BCE to replace the destroyed Solomon's Temple), which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.


The Dome of the Rock is in its core one of the oldest extant works of Islamic architecture. Its architecture and mosaics were patterned after nearby Byzantine churches and palaces, although its outside appearance was significantly changed during the Ottoman period and again in the modern period, notably with the addition of the gold-plated roof, in 1959–61 and again in 1993.


691 Oct 15

Battle of Maskin

Baghdad, Iraq


Battle of Maskin


The Battle of Maskin, also known as the Battle of Dayr al-Jathaliq from a nearby Nestorian monastery, was a decisive battle of the Second Fitna (680s-690s). It was fought in mid-October 691 near present-day Baghdad on the western bank of the river Tigris, between the army of the Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan and the forces of Mus'ab ibn al-Zubayr, governor of Iraq for his brother, the Mecca-based rival caliph Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr. At the beginning of the battle, most of Mus'ab's troops refused to fight, having secretly switched allegiance to Abd al-Malik, and Mus'ab's main commander, Ibrahim ibn al-Ashtar, was killed in action. Mus'ab was slain soon afterward, resulting in the Umayyads' victory and recapture of Iraq, which opened the way for the Umayyad reconquest of the Hejaz (western Arabia) in late 692.


695 Jan 1

Umayyad control over Ifriqiya

Tunisia


Umayyad control over Ifriqiya


In 695–698 the commander Hassan ibn al-Nu'man al-Ghassani restored Umayyad control over Ifriqiya after defeating the Byzantines and Berbers there. Carthage was captured and destroyed in 698, signaling "the final, irretrievable end of Roman power in Africa", according to Kennedy. Kairouan was firmly secured as a launchpad for later conquests, while the port town of Tunis was founded and equipped with an arsenal on Abd al-Malik's orders to establish a strong Arab fleet. Hassan al-Nu'man continued the campaign against the Berbers, defeating them and killing their leader, the warrior queen al-Kahina, between 698 and 703. His successor in Ifriqiya, Musa ibn Nusayr, subjugated the Berbers of the Hawwara, Zenata and Kutama confederations and advanced into the Maghreb (western North Africa), conquering Tangier and Sus in 708/09.


705 Jan 1

Armenia annexed

Armenia


Armenia annexed
| ©Angus McBride


For most of the second half of the 7th century, Arab presence and control in Armenia was minimal. Armenia was considered conquered land by the Arabs, but enjoyed de facto autonomy, regulated by the treaty signed between Rhstuni and Mu'awiya.


The situation changed in the reign of the caliph Abd al-Malik (r. 685–705). Beginning in 700, the Caliph's brother and governor of Arran, Muhammad ibn Marwan, subdued the country in a series of campaigns. Although the Armenians rebelled in 703 and received Byzantine aid, Muhammad ibn Marwan defeated them and sealed the failure of the revolt by executing the rebel princes in 705. Armenia, along with the principalities of Caucasian Albania and Iberia (modern Georgia) was grouped into one vast province called al-Arminiya (الارمينيا), with its capital at Dvin (Arabic Dabil), which was rebuilt by the Arabs and served as the seat of the governor (ostikan) and of an Arab garrison. For much of the remaining Umayyad period, Arminiya was usually grouped together with Arran and the Jazira (Upper Mesopotamia) under a single governor into an ad hoc super-province.


711 Jan 1

Umayyad conquest of Hispania

Guadalete, Spain


Umayyad conquest of Hispania
El Rey Don Rodrigo arengando a sus tropas en la batalla de Guadalete | ©Bernardo Blanco y Pérez


The Umayyad conquest of Hispania, also known as the Muslim conquest of the Iberian Peninsula or the Umayyad conquest of the Visigothic Kingdom, was the initial expansion of the Umayyad Caliphate over Hispania (in the Iberian Peninsula) from 711 to 718. The conquest resulted in the destruction of the Visigothic Kingdom and the establishment of the Umayyad Wilayah of Al-Andalus.


During the caliphate of the Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid I, forces led by Tariq ibn Ziyad disembarked in early 711 in Gibraltar at the head of an army consisting of Berbers from north Africa. After defeating the Visigothic king Roderic at the decisive Battle of Guadalete, Tariq was reinforced by an Arab force led by his superior wali Musa ibn Nusayr and continued northward. By 717, the combined Arab-Berber force had crossed the Pyrenees into Septimania. They occupied further territory in Gaul until 759.


711 Jan 2

Battle of Guadalete

Guadalete, Spain


Battle of Guadalete
The Visigothic retreat in front of the Berber cavalry | ©Salvador Martínez Cubells


The Battle of Guadalete was the first major battle of the Umayyad conquest of Hispania, fought in 711 at an unidentified location in what is now southern Spain between the Christian Visigoths under their king, Roderic, and the invading forces of the Muslim Umayyad Caliphate, composed mainly of Berbers as well as Arabs under the commander Ṭāriq ibn Ziyad. The battle was significant as the culmination of a series of Berber attacks and the beginning of the Umayyad conquest of Hispania. Roderic was killed in the battle, along with many members of the Visigothic nobility, opening the way for the capture of the Visigothic capital of Toledo.


712 Jan 1

Umayyad campaigns in India

Rajasthan, India


Umayyad campaigns in India
| ©Angus McBride


In the first half of the 8th century CE, a series of battles took place between the Umayyad Caliphate and the Indian kingdoms to the east of the Indus river.


Subsequent to the Arab conquest of Sindh in present-day Pakistan in 712 CE, Arab armies engaged kingdoms further east of the Indus. Between 724 and 810 CE, a series of battles took place between the Arabs and King Nagabhata I of the Pratihara dynasty, King Vikramaditya II of the Chalukya dynasty, and other small Indian kingdoms. In the north, Nagabhata of the Pratihara Dynasty defeated a major Arab expedition in Malwa. From the South, Vikramaditya II sent his general Avanijanashraya Pulakeshin, who defeated the Arabs in Gujarat. Later in 776 CE, a naval expedition by the Arabs was defeated by the Saindhava naval fleet under Agguka I.


The Arab defeats led to an end of their eastward expansion, and later manifested in the overthrow of Arab rulers in Sindh itself and the establishment of indigenous Muslim Rajput dynasties (Soomras and Sammas) there.The first Arab invasion of India was an expedition by sea to conquer Thana near Mumbai as early as 636 A.D. The Arab army was repulsed decisively and returned to Oman and the first ever Arab raid on India was defeated.


A second naval expedition was sent to conquer Barwas or Barauz (Broach) on the coast of southern Gujarat by Hakam, the brother of Usman. This attack too was repelled and the Arabs were driven back successfully.


713 Jan 1

Transoxiana conquered

Samarkand, Uzbekistan


Transoxiana conquered


The larger part of Transoxiana was finally conquered by the Umayyad leader Qutayba ibn Muslim in the reign of al-Walid I (r. 705–715). The loyalties of Transoxiana's native Iranian and Turkic populations and those of their autonomous local sovereigns remained questionable, as demonstrated in 719, when the Transoxianian sovereigns sent a petition to the Chinese and their Turgesh overlords for military aid against the Caliphate's governors.


717 Jan 1

Battle of Aksu

Aksu City, Aksu Prefecture, Xi


Battle of Aksu
| ©Angus McBride


The Battle of Aksu was fought between Arabs of the Umayyad Caliphate and their Turgesh and Tibetan Empire allies against the Tang dynasty of China. In 717 AD, the Arabs, guided by their Turgesh allies, besieged Buat-ɦuɑn (Aksu) and Dai-dʑiᴇk-dʑiᴇŋ (Uqturpan) in the Aksu region of Xinjiang. Tang troops backed by their protectorates in the region attacked and routed the besieging Arabs forcing them to retreat.


As a result of the battle, the Arabs were expelled from Northern Transoxiana. The Turgesh submitted to the Tang and subsequently attacked the Arabs in Ferghana. For their loyalty, the Tang emperor conferred imperial titles on the Turgesh khagan Suluk and awarded him the city of Suyab. With Chinese backing, the Turgesh launched punitive attacks into Arab territory eventually wresting all of Ferghana from the Arabs with the exception of a few forts.


717 Jul 15 - 718

Siege of Constantinople

İstanbul, Turkey


| ©Kings and Generals


The second Arab siege of Constantinople in 717–718 was a combined land and sea offensive by the Muslim Arabs of the Umayyad Caliphate against the capital city of the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople. The campaign marked the culmination of twenty years of attacks and progressive Arab occupation of the Byzantine borderlands, while Byzantine strength was sapped by prolonged internal turmoil. In 716, after years of preparations, the Arabs, led by Maslama ibn Abd al-Malik, invaded Byzantine Asia Minor. The Arabs initially hoped to exploit Byzantine civil strife and made common cause with the general Leo III the Isaurian, who had risen up against Emperor Theodosius III. Leo, however, tricked them and secured the Byzantine throne for himself.


The caliphate reached it high tide of as al-Mas'udi and the account of Theophanes mentioned for the Siege of Constantinople has fielded an army led by Sulaiman ibn Mu'adh al-Antaki large as 1,800 ships with 120,000 troops, and siege engines and incendiary materials (naphtha) stockpiled. The supply train alone is said to have numbered 12,000 men, 6,000 camels and 6,000 donkeys, while 13th-century historian Bar Hebraeus, the troops included 30,000 volunteers(mutawa) for the Holy War.


After wintering in the western coastlands of Asia Minor, the Arab army crossed into Thrace in early summer 717 and built siege lines to blockade the city, which was protected by the massive Theodosian Walls. The Arab fleet, which accompanied the land army and was meant to complete the city's blockade by sea, was neutralized soon after its arrival by the Byzantine navy through the use of Greek fire. This allowed Constantinople to be resupplied by sea, while the Arab army was crippled by famine and disease during the unusually hard winter that followed. In spring 718, two Arab fleets sent as reinforcements were destroyed by the Byzantines after their Christian crews defected, and an additional army sent overland through Asia Minor was ambushed and defeated. Coupled with attacks by the Bulgars on their rear, the Arabs were forced to lift the siege on 15 August 718. On its return journey, the Arab fleet was almost completely destroyed by natural disasters.


717 Sep 22

Caliphate of Umar II

Medina Saudi Arabia


Caliphate of Umar II


Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz was the eighth Umayyad caliph. He made various significant contributions and reforms to the society, and he has been described as "the most pious and devout" of the Umayyad rulers and was often called the first Mujaddid and sixth righteous caliph of Islam.He was also a cousin of the former caliph, being the son of Abd al-Malik's younger brother, Abd al-Aziz. He was also a matrilineal great-grandson of the second caliph, Umar ibn Al-Khattab.


Surrounded with great scholars, he is credited with having ordered the first official collection of Hadiths and encouraged education to everyone. He also sent out emissaries to China and Tibet, inviting their rulers to accept Islam. At the same time, he remained tolerant with non-Muslim citizens. According to Nazeer Ahmed, it was during the time of Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz that the Islamic faith took roots and was accepted by huge segments of the population of Persia and Egypt. Militarily, Umar is sometimes deemed a pacifist, since he ordered the withdrawal of the Muslim army in places such as Constantinople, Central Asia and Septimania despite being a good military leader. However, under his rule the Umayyads conquered many territories from the Christian kingdoms in Spain.


732 Oct 10

Battle of Tours

Vouneuil-sur-Vienne, France


Battle of Tours
Bataille de Poitiers en octobre 732 romantically depicts a triumphant Charles Martel (mounted) facing Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi (right) at the Battle of Tours. | ©Charles de Steuben


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).


The Battle of Tours was fought on 10 October 732, and was an important battle during the Umayyad invasion of Gaul. It resulted in the victory for the Frankish and Aquitanian forces, led by Charles Martel, over the invading forces of the Umayyad Caliphate, led by Abdul Rahman Al-Ghafiqi, governor of al-Andalus.


Notably, the Frankish troops apparently fought without heavy cavalry. Al-Ghafiqi was killed in combat, and the Umayyad army withdrew after the battle. The battle helped lay the foundations of the Carolingian Empire and Frankish domination of western Europe for the next century.


740 Jan 1

Berber Revolt

Tangiers, Morocco


Berber Revolt
| ©Otto von Faber du Faur


The Berber Revolt of 740–743 AD (122–125 AH in the Islamic calendar) took place during the reign of the Umayyad Caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik and marked the first successful secession from the Arab caliphate (ruled from Damascus). Fired up by Kharijite puritan preachers, the Berber revolt against their Umayyad Arab rulers began in Tangiers in 740, and was led initially by Maysara al-Matghari. The revolt soon spread through the rest of the Maghreb (North Africa) and across the straits to al-Andalus.


The Umayyads scrambled and managed to prevent the core of Ifriqiya (Tunisia, East-Algeria and West-Libya) and al-Andalus (Spain and Portugal) from falling into rebel hands. But the rest of the Maghreb was never recovered. After failing to capture the Umayyad provincial capital of Kairouan, the Berber rebel armies dissolved, and the western Maghreb fragmented into a series of small Berber statelets, ruled by tribal chieftains and Kharijite imams.


The Berber revolt was probably the largest military setback in the reign of Caliph Hisham. From it, emerged some of the first Muslim states outside the Caliphate.


744 Jan 1

Third Fitna

Syria


Third Fitna


The Third Fitna was a series of civil wars and uprisings against the Umayyad Caliphate beginning with the overthrow of Caliph al-Walid II in 744 and ending with the victory of Marwan II over the various rebels and rivals for the caliphate in 747. However, Umayyad authority under Marwan II was never fully restored, and the civil war flowed into the Abbasid Revolution (746–750) which culminated in the overthrow of the Umayyads and the establishment of the Abbasid Caliphate in 749/50.


746 Jan 1

Abbasid Revolution

Merv, Turkmenistan


| ©Al Muqaddimah


The Hashimiyya movement (a sub-sect of the Kaysanites Shia), led by the Abbasid family, overthrew the Umayyad caliphate. The Abbasids were members of the Hashim clan, 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.


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.


750 Jan 25

Battle of the Zab. End of the Umayyad Caliphate

Great Zab River


| ©HistoryMarche


The Battle of the Zab (Arabic: معركة الزاب), also referred to in scholarly contexts as Battle of the Great Zāb River, took place on January 25, 750, on the banks of the Great Zab River in what is now the modern country of Iraq. It spelled the end of the Umayyad Caliphate and the rise of the Abbasids, a dynasty that would last from 750 to 1258 which is divided in to two periods: Early Abbasid period (750–940) and Later Abbasid period (940–1258).


750 Jun 1

Banquet of Blood

Jaffa, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel


Banquet of Blood


By the middle of 750 AD, vestiges of the Umayyad royal line remained in their strongholds throughout Levant. But, as theAbbasids' track record demonstrates, moral qualms took a back place when it came to solidifying power and thus the plot for the 'Banquet of Blood' was created. Though nothing is known about the specifics of this tragic affair, it is widely assumed that over 80 Umayyad family members were invited to a great feast under the guise of reconciliation. Given their dire situation and desire for favorable surrender conditions, it appears that all of the invitees made their way to the Palestinian village of abu-Futrus. However, once the feasting and festivities were over, practically all of the princes were mercilessly clubbed to death by the Abbasid adherents, so putting an end to the idea of an Umayyad restoration to caliphate authority.


756 Jan 1

Abd al-Rahman I establishes the Emirate of Cordoba

Córdoba, Spain


| © Al Muqaddimah


Abd al-Rahman I, a prince of the deposed Umayyad royal family, refused to recognize the authority of the Abbasid Caliphate and became an independent emir of Córdoba. He had been on the run for six years after the Umayyads had lost the position of caliph in Damascus in 750 to the Abbasids. Intent on regaining a position of power, he defeated the existing Muslim rulers of the area who had defied Umayyad rule and united various local fiefdoms into an emirate. However, this first unification of al-Andalus under Abd al-Rahman still took more than twenty-five years to complete (Toledo, Zaragoza, Pamplona, Barcelona).


756 Jan 2

Epilogue

Damascus, Syria


Epilogue


Key Findings:

  • Muawiya was one of the first to realize the full importance of having a navy
  • The Umayyad caliphate was marked both by territorial expansion and by the administrative and cultural problems that such expansion created.
  • During the period of the Umayyads, Arabic became the administrative language and the process of Arabization was initiated in the Levant, Mesopotamia, North Africa, and Iberia. State documents and currency were issued in Arabic.
  • According to one common view, the Umayyads transformed the caliphate from a religious institution (during the Rashidun caliphate) to a dynastic one.
  • Modern Arab nationalism regards the period of the Umayyads as part of the Arab Golden Age which it sought to emulate and restore.
  • Throughout the Levant, Egypt and North Africa, the Umayyads constructed grand congregational mosques and desert palaces, as well as various garrison cities (amsar) to fortify their frontiers such as Fustat, Kairouan, Kufa, Basra and Mansura. Many of these buildings feature Byzantine stylistic and architectural features, such as Roman mosaics and Corinthian columns.
  • The only Umayyad ruler who is unanimously praised by Sunni sources for his devout piety and justice is Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz.
  • The books written later in the Abbasid period in Iran are more anti-Umayyad.
  • The sakia or animal-powered irrigation wheel was likely introduced to Islamic Spain in early Umayyad times (in the 8th century)




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References



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