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From Abd al-Malik to Hisham Islamic History: the First 150 Years.

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Presentation on theme: "From Abd al-Malik to Hisham Islamic History: the First 150 Years."— Presentation transcript:

1 From Abd al-Malik to Hisham Islamic History: the First 150 Years

2 Session Plan 1.Unity Restored 2.Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz 3.Hisham and the End of Expansion 4.Rumblings of Thunder 5.Readings

3 Section I: Unity Restored

4 Unity Lost During the first 3 sessions, we looked at the evolution of the early Muslim community We saw that the central question facing the Muslim state was that of leadership In sessions one and two we looked at the differing responses to these questions under Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali We then looked at the break down of the patriarchal caliphate The first fitna: Ali & Muawiya The second fitna: Umayyads, Husayn and Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr We also saw the emergence of a fourth trend, if you will, that of the neutrals

5 Unity Restored As we saw last week, with the death of Ibn al- Zubayr, Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan became the undisputed caliph The reign of Abd al-Malik is an important one for a number of reasons Firstly, it is with him that the Umayyad empire takes its concrete form Secondly, his twenty year rule allowed relative peace and stability to return Thirdly, a number of important religious developments occur in his reign Fourthly, his reign (and that of his son Hisham) mark the effective zenith of the Umayyad empire

6 Unity Restored However, despite his importance, we will not be exploring his reign in fine detail I intend to explore a number of key elements, which, it is hoped, will paint a representative picture These include: Relationships with Religious Notables Iraq Jerusalem Further reading: C.F. Robinson Abd al-Malik

7 Relationships Abd al-Maliks relations with the religious elite are marked by ambiguity Unlike earlier caliphs, Abd al-Malik had grown up in Islam As a young man, he had shown a particular interest in the study of Prophetic Traditions and in the biography of Muhammad Some reports also state that he had memorised the entire Quran (hafiz al-Quran) Tradition, however, relates that his accession brought about a change He is said to have subordinated everything to policy That is, he seems to have taken the running of the empire seriously Raja ibn Haiwa al-Kindi, an early religious figure, seems to have been influential under him Moreover, he also patronised ibn Shihab al-Zuhri, the early hadith scholar and historian (whom we met last week) Despite this, it is from his reign onwards that we begin to see learned Muslims effectively staying away from involvement with the government In other words, it was considered somewhat disreputable for a religious scholar to be associated with the state This may well be due to the increasingly negative view of the Umayyad dynasty

8 Iraq In Iraq, Abd al-Maliks drive for stability and order effectively meant the repression of rebellious elements His governor, al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf al-Thaqafi, was infamous for his use of naked force His command began with what Hodgson describes as terrifying violence in which 1000s are said to have died A major Kharijite revolt was also defeated However, his harsh measures eventually prompted sections of the army itself to revolt under ibn al- Ashath Al-Hajjaj also built a number of canals and irrigation channels

9 Other Measures Abd al-Malik also reformed the coinage The earlier method of using existing Byzantine and Sassanid coinage was replaced A new Islamic coinage was introduced They were of a standard weight and metal standard and helped stabilise the economy They also carried ideological/religious messages They were aniconic Contained passages from the Quran and statements of Islamic belief They were so successful that they quickly became the standard form of Muslim coinage

10 Post-Reform Coinage

11 Mecca & Jerusalem The Kaba at Mecca the central shrine of Islam Islamic tradition describes the sanctuary as being built by Abraham and Ishmael The Arab tribes who inherit the site eventually fall into paganism Key idols of Mecca: Manat: literally meaning fate, this deity was widely worshipped throughout Arabia Al-`Uzza: literally meaning the mighty one (feminine) Al-Lat: the Goddess These three goddesses are the deities named in the Satanic Verses story Believed to have power of intercession with Allah

12 Mecca & Jerusalem Islamic tradition holds that Allah was recognised by the pagan Arabs as a High God Hubal: an imported deity originally from Palestine The tradition holds that on the conquest of Mecca, Muhammad cleared the Kaba of some 360 idols A suspiciously round number Not impossible of course, but seems to represent a god for every day of the solar year The Meccan shrine, according to the tradition, was thus the ritual centre of Islam from the beginning

13 Mecca & Jerusalem Indeed there are numerous references to the House in the Quran Some modern authorities, however, understand this development differently Crone and Cook – Hagarism Within the Islamic framework, Mecca holds a particular importance During the early period of Islam (and indeed the whole of Islamic history) control of the Meccan shrine was politically important Within our context, Abdullah in al-Zubayrs control of Mecca enabled him to claim a large degree of legitimacy That is, God Himself, the Lord of this House (surah quraysh), had given control of his sanctuary to ibn al-Zubayr Important propaganda value

14 Mecca and Jerusalem Once in control of Umayyad Syria, Abd al-Malik began to develop the Temple Mount area of Jerusalem The Temple Mount had been empty for quite some time Abd al-Malik built the Dome of the Rock This is a deeply fascinating building It is not a traditional mosque: its a hexagonal building built around a central mount This is believed to be the spot where Muhammad ascended to heaven Al-Zuhri cites a report in which Abd al-Malik allegedly built the Dome of the Rock to compete with Mecca (then under Zubayrid control) A somewhat defaced inscription on the Dome of the Rock reads: The servant of God, Abd al-Malik, the Amir al- Mumineen, built this Qubba in the year 72 hijri Al-Mamun (an Abbasid Caliph) had Abd al-Maliks name removed and his own put in its place

15 Mecca and Jerusalem The most interesting question regarding the Dome of the Rock is why? Why build such an unusual sanctuary there, at this time? The Dome is also adorned with Quranic calligraphy and is one of the earliest uses of the Quran on architecture The Quranic texts used on the Dome are also interesting and probably point towards Abd al-Maliks actual intentions They quote passages from the Quran which refer to the Islamic understanding of Jesus Christ Specifically, they refer to Islams understanding that he was not divine, but a human prophet In other words, the Dome is thus part of a wider theological debate It was also probably meant to physically assert Islams religious, theological and political superiority over both Judaism and Christianity

16 The Dome of the Rock




20 Questions?

21 Section II: Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz

22 Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz Abd al-Malik had a large family and because of this four of his children became caliphs after him However, the most famous ruler after him was not actually his son, but his nephew Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz Umar is an interesting character and is the only Umayyad caliph to be viewed positively by later Muslim tradition Indeed, some even felt that he was the fifth rightly guided caliph after Muhammad Although there are a number of reasons for this, perhaps the most significant of them is the perception of Umars motives In other words, Umar is perceived to ruled through adherence to Islamic norms Or, again, he ruled in accordance with what our sources felt were Islamic norms In assessing Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz, we must therefore take our sources biases into account Nevertheless, it does seem that Umar was personally committed to his religious principles and seems to have attempted to rule by them

23 Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz Wellhausen, an early 20 th century writer, has this to say: Sulaiman was a luxurious profligate, Umar almost an ascetic; to the former the ruling power offered unlimited means of enjoyment; upon the latter it imposed a a weight of responsibility. In everything he did judgement loomed before his eyes, and he was always afraid of coming up short of the requirements of God (p. 268) Umars Policies… Almost all outward expansion stopped and most advanced outposts withdrawn However, the Narbonne region of southern France was fortified under Umar Although he used existing men, Umar seems to have appointed provincial governors for their ability and honesty (Tab ) Thus Abd al-Hamid ibn Abd al-Rahman of Umar Is family became governor of Kufa He also brought the emerging Islamic religious scholarly elite into the business of government In a letter to his provincial governors, he is said to have named the pillars of government as: 1.The Wali (Executive Governor) 2.The Judge (or Qadi, i.e. someone learned in Islamic law) 3.The Tax Administrator 4.The Caliph

24 Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz He appointed the famous Hasan al-Basri Qadi (judge) of Basra Hasan is an important early ascetic and mystic Umar also reformed the tax system Although his changes were rather complex, in essence we can say that he attempted to make taxation conform to Islamic ideals Thus the mawali were given automatic entitlement to their Quranically allotted privileges Land use was also reformed: common land was to be used for the communities to which it was originally intended The sources report that Umar was an eager missionary He is said to have invited the rulers of Sind (in modern Pakistan) and various Berber tribes (in Morocco and Algeria) to accept Islam Umar also wrote to the Byzantine emperor Leo II, in an apparent attempt to convert him He prohibited the cursing of Ali, which Muawiya had introduced He is also said to have ordered the collation of Prophetic Traditions, in order to ensure their authenticity This last measure presumably sprang from two motives… A desire to preserve/record Muhammads words A desire to preserve a key source of Islamic law (the Shariah)

25 Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz However, despite all of these energetic reforms, Umars reign was a short one He died after a mere 2 years in office ( CE) In some senses, this is another important factor in his enduring popularity That is, had he ruled for longer, he may not have been able to maintain his momentum Hisham, Umars effective (but not actual successor), undid all of these reforms and restored Umayyad dominance on its pre-existing lines And, as we shall see, although he reigned for a long time in relative peace, his caliphate saw the beginnings of the end for the Umayyad dynasty

26 Questions?

27 Section III: Hisham and the End of Expansion

28 Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik As his name suggests, Hisham was a son of Abd al-Malik He ruled the Muslim empire from AH (or CE) His 20 year rule thus brought stability after another period of turmoil after Umar IIs death Essential Readings for Hisham K. Y. Blankinship The End of the Jihad State J. Wellhausen The Arab Kingdom and its Fall

29 Internal Opposition Kharijite groups, spread to North Africa Shiite discontent continued to manifest itself In 740CE, Zayd ibn Ali revolted at Kufa against Hisham Zayd ibn Ali (Zayn al-Abidin) ibn Husayn ibn Ali Brother of Muhammad ibn Ali al-Baqir Despite popular support, the revolt was soon crushed However, despite its failure, Zayds revolt was significant in a number of ways Firstly, it underlines continuing opposition to Umayyad rule from the Alid family and its supporters Secondly, Zayd became another martyr to the Shiite cause Thirdly, his rising marks the emergence of a new trend in Shiite thought regarding the nature of the imamate (more on this in a moment) Fourthly, the Abbasid revolution (which we will come to in the next session) styled itself as vengeance for Zayd (and all other Shiite martyrs)

30 Zayds Refrom Manifesto 1.Apply the Quran and Sunnah 2.Wage jihad against oppressors 3.Defend the weak 4.Provide for the deprived 5.Equally divide the income from Muslim property by right of conquest (fay) among those deserving it 6.Satisfy complaints 7.Bring back those held in the field campaigning for more than one year 8.Support the Alids against those resisting or denying their rights

31 The Concept of Imamate in Early Shii Thought As you might expect, during the century of Umayyad rule, the Shiite concept of Imamate underwent some development Although charting the development in detail would take too long here, we can look at some key features Those interested in this subject should consult… S. H. Jafri The History and Early Development of Shia Islam A. Lalani Early Shii Thought: the Teachings of Muhammad al-Baqir M. Hodgson How did the Shia become sectarian? (This is a journal article; I own a copy) Ali as Imam and Amir al-Muminin In other words, temporal and religious functions combined The fact that his descendents did not hold power was problematic at first However, probably first under Zayn al-Abidin, Shii thinkers began to separate these two aspect That is, the authority of the imam did not depend on his holding power

32 The Concept of Imamate in Early Shii Thought Muhammad al-Baqir and later his son, Jafar al-Sadiq, began to articulate this idea clearly Thus although they were not involved in politics they still seem to have understood themselves to be the rightful imams of the Muslim community They put forward two main arguments Firstly, after Hasans death, the imamate could only run through Husayns line Secondly, an imam could only be appointed by the explicit designation (known as nass in Arabic) of the incumbent Essentially, this stabilised the charismatic leadership of the Alid house As we saw last week, moreover, there were some within the Shia milieu that believed the imam to be more than human (we will look more at this in the next session) However, this was not the only viewpoint Zayd (Muhammads brother) seems to have strongly disagreed with this idea He argued, in common with al-Baqir, that an imam can only come from the house of Ali

33 The Concept of Imamate in Early Shii Thought However, he did not restrict this to the line of Husayn Rather, any suitably qualified Alid could be a potential imam Two things were required to actualise this 1.Religious Knowledge 2.Public Declaration of Imamate According to Zayd, the Imam had to arise sword in hand These differences eventually led to the development of two different schools of thought within Shia Islam Those who followed Muhammad al-Baqirs ideas became known as the Imami Shia From the Imami school of thought later emerged the Twelver Shia of Iran, as well as the Ismaili (and thus Druze) Shia – i.e. those who follow the Aga Khan Those who followed Zayd became known as Zaydi Shia Because they did not accept designation as such, there were many small groups of independent Zaydis During the course of time, Zaydi Shiites established imamates in northern Persia (on the shores of the Caspian Sea) in the Daylam region and in Yemen

34 The Twelver Shia Line 1.Ali ibn Abi Talib 2.Hasan ibn Ali 3.Hussein ibn Ali 4.Ali ibn Hussein 5.Muhammad ibn Ali (known as al-Baqir, or He who splits open [religious knowledge] and Zayds brother) 6.Jafar ibn Muhammad (known as al-Sadiq, the Truthful) 7.Musa ibn Jafar (al-Kazim) 8.Ali ibn Musa (al-Rida, or the Chosen) 9.Muhammad ibn Ali (al-Taqi, the Godfearing) 10.Ali ibn Muhammad (al-Naqi) 11.Hasan ibn Ali (al-`Askari) 12.Muhammad ibn Ali (al-Mahdi, the Rightly Guided One or the Messiah)

35 External Opposition Hishams rule was also challenged by a number of external foes As we saw, Hisham reversed Umars policy of disengagement and initiated an aggressive expansionist policy At first this appeared to be largely successful However, the strains caused by this expansionism soon began to show Muslim armies met with a number of serious defeats in many of its main theatres of war Moreover, new fronts also opened up The effect of all of this was to place a serious burden on the Muslim empires available manpower A brief glance at a map will help make this clear…

36 The Muslim World

37 External Opposition Anatolia: war against the Byzantines continued throughout this period Caucasus: Muslim forces suffer a number of serious setbacks against the Khazar confederation (in alliance with Byzantium) Khazar forces manage to raid Armenia and threaten Mosul (northern Iraq) Central Asia: the Turgesh confederation inflicted a number of defeats on Muslim forces Sijistan: a number of expensive campaigns against the Zunbil Sind/India: Muslim forces faced a number of resurgent Hindu kingdoms and were effectively driven back Khurasan: at the Battle of the Defile, Muslim casualties are reported to have been approximately 20,000 dead Mediterranean Area: Sicily and Sardinia attacked Spanish Frontier: Frankish attacks drive Muslims out of southern France (Narbonne)

38 External Opposition These defeats swallowed up much of the available manpower Moreover, they also placed a great strain on the Syrian forces Because these were, in some senses, crack troops they had been used to keep the peace in Iraq and other places With these defeats, more Syrian contingents began to be sent to different frontiers This weakened the internal hold of the Umayyad dynasty significantly Indeed, this only exacerbated the problem as Syrian troops became too thinly spread to prevent further revolts The Great Berber Revolt: AH ( CE) Excessive taxation and the illegal removal of Muslim Berbers as slaves seem to have been the immediate causes In any case, an enormous rebellion eventually proved successful and Umayyad control of the Maghreb region was lost

39 External Opposition This also considerably weakened the governments hold of Spain However, a fugitive Umayyad eventually took control of the province in the aftermath of the Abbasid revolution Hisham dies in 125AH (743CE) Yazid III His revolt soon crushed, but, his apparent programme is interesting A self-conscious return to the past? Main points include… Not to build any buildings of brick or stone, nor to dig any new canals Not to hoard wealth Not to give wealth to wives or children To transfer wealth to other provinces only after first is fully taken care of Spend any surplus in nearest province

40 External Opposition Not to keep troops in the field for more than 1 year Not to lock out petitioners To reduce non-Muslim taxation To give all Muslim troops equal stipends To acknowledge the right of Muslims to reproach the Caliph should he stray In some senses, this is reminiscent of Zayd ibn Alis programme And, is probably best seen as an attempt to address the perceived social ills of the day via a return to Islamic norms As Blankinship says, This program is redolent of irritation with the policies of Hisham… (p.227)

41 Section IV: Rumblings of Thunder

42 Rumblings of Thunder As we have seen, by the time of Hishams death the Muslim empire had reached something of an impasse It had suffered several important military defeats Moreover, these defeats meant a significant drop in the level and amount of booty In many ways, it was this drop in income which caused the most significant problems for the Umayyad regime Large scale war booty had effectively masked the underlying difficulties of the period and with their removal, they began to surface Firstly, Hishams death saw another return to civil war, as a number of factions fought for control This resulted in the accession and death of a number of candidates This led to military revolts and provincial insecurities, further exacerbating the economic situation

43 Rumblings of Thunder Secondly, this period again saw the re-emergence of a number of Shia uprisings However we will look more closely at that in the following session Thirdly, this political instability was made worse by the continuing feud between the Qudaa and Qays tribal groupings Fourthly, during Hishams reign, the scholarly class (ulama) had once again begun to withdraw from public office This effectively removed an important support for the Umayyad regime And, indeed, became the breeding ground for active opposition There were, furthermore, a number of Kharijite revolts

44 Section V: Readings

45 Readings Your reading packs contain a number of readings P. Crone Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam Oleg Grabar Ceremonial and Art at the Umayyad Court Oleg Grabar The Formation of Islamic Art Pre-Islamic Poetry (The Hanged Poems) A short passage attributed to Hasan al-Basri

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