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Summary of Preceding Movements.—The conquest of Mecca had been of the greatest importance to the Prophet, not only because Islam thus obtained possession of this important city with its famous sanctuary, but above all because his late adversaries were at last compelled to acknowledge him as the Envoy of God. Among these there were many men of great ability and influence, and he was so eager to conciliate them or, as the Arabic expression has it, “to mellow their hearts” by concessions and gifts, that his loyal helpers (Ansar) at Medina became dissatisfied and could only with difficulty be brought to acquiesce in it. Mahomet was a practical man; he realized that the growing state needed skilful administrators, and that such were found in much greater number among the antagonists of yesterday than among the honest citizens of Medina. The most important positions, such as the governorships of Mecca and Yemen, were entrusted to men of the Omayyad house, or that of the Makhzūm and other Koreishite families. Abu Bekr followed the Prophet's example. In the great revolt of the Arabic tribes after the death of Mahomet, and in the invasion of Irak and Syria by the Moslems, the principal generals belonged to them. Omar did not deviate from that line of conduct. It was he who appointed Yazīd, the son of Abu Sofiān, and after his death, his brother Moawiya as governor of Syria, and assigned the province of Egypt to Amr-ibn-el-Ass (‛Amr b. Āṣ). It is even surprising to find among the leading men so few of the house of Hāshim, the nearest family of the Prophet. The puzzled Moslem doctors explain this fact on the ground that the Hashimites were regarded as too noble to hold ordinary administrative offices, and that they could not be spared at Medina, where their counsel was required in all important affairs. There is, however, a tradition in which Ali himself calls the Omayyads born rulers. As long as Omar lived opposition was silent. But Othman had not the strong personality of his predecessor, and, although he practically adhered to the policy of Omar, he was accused of favouring the members of his own family—the caliph belonged himself to the house of Omayya—at the expense of the Hashimites and the Ansar. The jealousy of the latter two was prompted by the fact that the governorship and military commands had become not only much more important, but also much more lucrative, while power and money again procured many adherents. The .truly devout Moslems on the other hand were scandalized by the growing luxury which relaxed the austere morals of the first Moslems, and this also was imputed to Othman. We thus see how the power of the house of Omayya developed itself, and how there arose against it an opposition, which led in the first place to the murder of Othman and the Caliphate of Ali, and furthermore; during the whole period of the Omayyad caliphs, repeatedly to dangerous outbreaks, culminating in the great catastrophe which placed the Abbasids on the throne. The elements of this opposition were of very various kinds:—(1) The old-fashioned Moslems, sons of the Ansar and Mohājir, who had been Mahomet's first companions and supporters, and could not bear the thought that the sons of the old enemies of the Prophet in Mecca, whom they nicknamed ṭolaqā (freedmen), should be in control of the imamate, which carried with it the management of affairs both civil and religious. This party was in the foreground, chiefly in the first period. (2) The partisans of Ali, the Shi‛a (Shi‛ites), who in proportion as their influence with the Arabs declined, contrived to strengthen it by obtaining the support of the non-Arabic Moslems, aided thereto, especially in the latter period, by the Abbasids, who at the decisive moment succeeded in seizing the supreme power for themselves. (3) The Kharijites, who, in spite of the heavy losses they sustained at the hands of Ali, maintained their power by gaining new adherents from among those austere Moslems, who held both Omayyads and Alids as usurpers, and have often been called, not unjustly, the Puritans of Islam. (4) The non-Arabic Moslems, who on their conversion to Islam, had put themselves under the patronage of Arabic families, and were therefore called maula's (clients). These were not only the most numerous, but also, in virtue of the persistency of their hostility, the most dangerous. The largest and strongest group of these were the Persians, who, before the conquest of Irak by the Moslems, were the ruling class of that country, so that Persian was the dominant language. With, them all malcontents, in particular the Shi‛ites, found support; by them the dynasty of the Omayyads and the supremacy of the Arabs was finally overthrown. To these elements of discord we must add:—(1) That the Arabs, notwithstanding the bond of Islam that united them, maintained their old tribal institutions, and therewith their old feuds and factions; (2) that the old antagonism between Ma‛adites[11] (original northern tribes) and Yemenites (original southern tribes), accentuated by the jealousy between the Meccans, who belonged to the former, and the Medinians, who belonged to the latter division, gave rise to perpetual conflicts; (3) that more than one dangerous pretender—some of them of the reigning family itself—contended with the caliph for the sovereignty, and must be crushed coûte que coûte. It is only by the detailed enumeration of these opposing forces that we can form an idea of the heavy task that lay before the Prince of the Believers, and of the amount of tact and ability which his position demanded. The description of the reign of the Omayyads is extremely difficult. Never perhaps has the system of undermining authority by continual slandering been applied on such a scale as by the Alids and the Abbasids. The Omayyads were accused by their numerous missionaries of every imaginable vice; in their hands Islam was not safe; it would be a godly work to extirpate them from the earth. When the Abbasids had occupied the throne, they pursued this policy to its logical conclusion. But not content with having exterminated the hated rulers themselves, they carried their hostility to a further point. The official history of the Omayyads, as it has been handed down to us, is coloured by Abbasid feeling to such an extent that we can scarcely distinguish the true from the false. An example of this occurs at the outset in the assertion that Moawiya deliberately refrained from marching to the help of Othman, and indeed that it was with secret joy that he heard of the fatal result of the plot. The facts seem to contradict this view. When, ten weeks before the murder, some hundreds of men came to Medina from Egypt and Irak, pretending that they were on their pilgrimage to Mecca, but wanted to bring before the caliph their complaints against his vicegerents, nobody could have the slightest suspicion that the life of the caliph was in danger; indeed it was only during the few days that Othman was besieged in his house that the danger became obvious. If the caliph then, as the chroniclers tell, sent a message to Moawiya for help, his messenger could not have accomplished half the journey to Damascus when the catastrophe took place. There is no real reason to doubt that the painful news fell on Moawiya unexpectedly, and that he, as mightiest representative of the Omayyad house, regarded as his own the duty of avenging the crime. He could not but view Ali in the light of an accomplice, because if, as he protested, he did not abet the murderers, yet he took them under his protection. An acknowledgment of Ali as caliph by Moawiya before he had cleared himself from suspicion was therefore quite impossible. 1. The Reign of Moawiya.—Moawiya, son of the well-known Meccan chief Abu Sofiān, embraced Islam together with his father and his brother Yazid, when the Prophet conquered Mecca, and was, like them, treated with the greatest distinction. He was even chosen to be one of the secretaries of Mahomet. When Abu Bekr sent his troops for the conquest of Syria, Yazid, the eldest son of Abu Sofiān, held one of the chief commands, with Moawiya as his lieutenant. In the year 639 Omar named him governor of Damascus and Palestine; Othman added to this province the north of Syria and Mesopotamia. To him was committed the conduct of the war against the Byzantine emperor, which he continued with energy, at first only on land, but later, when the caliph had at last given in to his urgent representations, at sea also. In the year 34 (A.D. 655) was fought off the coast of Lycia the great naval battle, which because of the great number of masts has been called “the mast fight,” in which the Greek[12] fleet, commanded by the emperor Constans II. in person, was utterly defeated. Moawiya himself was not present, as he was conducting an attack (the result of which we do not know) on Caesarea in Cappadocia. The Arabic historians are so entirely preoccupied with the internal events that they have no eye for the war at the frontier. The contention which Moawiya had with Ali checked his progress in the north. Moawiya was a born ruler, and Syria was, as we have seen, the best administered province of the whole empire. He was so loved and honoured by his Syrians that, when he invited them to avenge the blood of Othman, they replied unanimously, “It is your part to command, ours to obey.” Ali was a valiant man, but had no great talent as a ruler. His army numbered a great many enthusiastic partisans, but among them not a few wiseacres; there were also others of doubtful loyalty. The battle at Siffin (657), near the Euphrates, which lasted two months and consisted principally in, sometimes bloody, skirmishes, with alternate success, ended by the well-known appeal to the decision of the Koran on the part of Moawiya. This appeal has been called by a European scholar “one of the unworthiest comedies of the whole world's history,” accepting the report of very partial Arabic writers that it happened when the Syrians were on the point of losing the battle. He forgot that Ali himself, before the Battle of the Camel, appealed likewise to the decision of the Koran, and began the fight only when this had been rejected. There is in reality no room for suspecting Moawiya of not having been in earnest when making this appeal; he might well regret that internecine strife should drain the forces which were so much wanted for the spread of Islam. That the Book of God could give a solution, even of this arduous case, was doubtless the firm belief of both parties. But even if the appeal to the Koran had been a stratagem, as Ali himself thought, it would have been perfectly legitimate, according to the general views of that time, which had been also those of the Prophet. It is not unlikely that the chief leader of the Yemenites in Ali's army, Ash‛ath b. Qais, knew beforehand that this appeal would be made. Certainty is not to be obtained in the whole matter. On each side an umpire was appointed, Abu Mūsā al-Ash‛arī, the candidate of Ash‛ath, on that of Ali, Amr-ibn-el-Ass (q.v.) on that of Moawiya. The arbitrators met in the year 37 (A.D. 658) at Adhroḥ, in the south-east of Syria, where are the ruins of the Roman Castra described by Brünnow and Domaszewsky (Die Provincia Arabia, i. 433-463). Instead of this place, the historians generally put Dūmat-al-Jandal, the biblical Duma, now called Jauf, but this rests on feeble authority. The various accounts about what happened in this interview are without exception untrustworthy. J. Wellhausen, in his excellent book Das arabische Reich und sein Stürz, has made it very probable that the decision of the umpires was that the choice of Ali as caliph should be cancelled, and that the task of nominating a successor to Othman should be referred to the council of notable men (shūrā), as representing the whole community. Ali refusing to submit to this decision, Moawiya became the champion of the law, and thereby gained at once considerable support for the conquest of Egypt, to which above all he directed his efforts. As soon as Amr returned from Adhroḥ, Moawiya sent him with an army of four or five thousand men against Egypt. About the same time the constitutional party rose against Ali's vicegerent Mahommed, son of Abu Bekr, who had been the leader of the murderous attack on Othman. Mahommed was beaten, taken in his flight, and, according to some reports, sewn in the skin of an ass and burned. Moawiya, realizing that Ali would take all possible means to crush him, took his measures accordingly. He concluded with the Greeks a treaty, by which he pledged himself to pay a large sum of money annually on condition that the emperor should give him hostages as a pledge for the maintenance of peace. Ali, however, had first to deal with the insurrection of the Kharijites, who condemned the arbitration which followed the battle of Siffin as a deed of infidelity, and demanded that Ali should break the compact (see above, A. 4). Freed from this difficulty, Ali prepared to direct his march against Moawiya, but his soldiers declined to move. One of his men, Khirrīt b. Rāshid, renounced him altogether, because he had not submitted to the decision of the umpires, and persuaded many others to refuse the payment of the poor-rate. Ali was obliged to subdue him, a task which he effected not without difficulty. Not a few of his former partisans went over to Moawiya, as already had happened before the days of Siffin, amongst others Ali's own brother ‛Aqīl. Lastly, there were in Kuta, and still more in Basra, many Othmaniya or legitimises, on whose co-operation he could not rely. Moawiya from his side made incessant raids into Ali's dominion, and by his agents caused a very serious revolt in Basra. The statement that a treaty was concluded between Moawiya and Ali to maintain the status quo, in the beginning of the year 40 (A.D. 660), is not very probable, for it is pretty certain that just then Ali had raised an army of 40,000 men against the Syrians, and also that in the second or third month of that year Moawiya was proclaimed caliph at Jerusalem. At the same time Bosr b. Abi Artāt made his expedition against Medina and Mecca, whose inhabitants were compelled to acknowledge the caliphate of Moawiya. On the murder of Ali in 661, his son Hasan was chosen caliph, but he recoiled before the prospect of a war with Moawiya, having neither the ambition nor the energy of Ali. Moawiya stood then with a large army in Maskin, a rich district lying to the north of the later West Bagdad, watered by the Dojail, or Little Tigris, a channel from the Euphrates to the Tigris. The army of Trak was near Madāin, the ancient Ctesiphon. The reports about what occurred are confused and contradictory; but it seems probable that Abdallah b. Abbas, the vicegerent of Ali at Basra and ancestor of the future Abbasid dynasty, was in command. No battle was fought. Hasan and Ibn Abbas opened, each for himself, negotiations with Moawiya. The latter made it a condition of surrender that he should have the free disposal of the funds in the treasury of Basra. Some say that he had already before the death of Ali rendered himself master of it. Notwithstanding the protest of the Basrians, he transported this booty safely to Mecca. When his descendants had ascended the throne and he had become a demi-saint, the historians did their best to excuse his conduct. Hasan demanded, in exchange for the power which he resigned, the contents of the treasury at Kuta, which amounted to five millions of dirhems, together with the revenues of the Persian province of Darābjird (Darab). When these negotiations became known, a mutiny broke out in Hasan's camp. Hasan himself was wounded and retired to Medina, where he died eight or nine years afterwards. The legend that he was poisoned by order of Moawiya is without the least foundation. It seems that he never received the revenues of Darābjird, the Basrians to whom they belonged refusing to cede them.


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