The Banu Umayya (Arabic : بَنُو أُمَيَّةَ, romanized: Banū Umayya, lit. 'Sons of Umayya ') or Umayyads (الأمويون), were the ruling family of the Islamic caliphate between 661 and 750 and later of Islamic Spain between 756 and 1031. In the pre-Islamic period, they were a prominent clan of the Meccan tribe of Quraysh, descended from Umayya ibn Abd Shams. Despite staunch opposition to the Islamic prophet Muhammad, the Umayyads embraced Islam before the latter's death in 632. A member of the clan, Uthman, went on to become the third Rashidun caliph in 644–656, while other members held various governorships. One of these governors, Mu'awiya I, after the assassination of Ali ibn Abi talib in 661 and established the Umayyad Caliphate with its capital in Damascus, Syria. This marked the beginning of the Umayyad dynasty, the first hereditary dynasty in the history of Islam, and the only one to rule over the entire Islamic world of its time.
The Sufyanid line founded by Mu'awiya failed in 683 and Umayyad authority was challenged in the Second Muslim Civil War, but the dynasty ultimately prevailed under Marwan I, who founded the Marwanid line of Umayyad caliphs. The Umayyads drove on the early Muslim conquests, including North Africa, Spain, Central Asia, and Sindh, but the constant warfare exhausted the state's military resources, while Alid revolts and tribal rivalries weakened the regime from within. Finally, in 750 the Abbasid Revolution overthrew Caliph Marwan II and massacred most of the family. One of the survivors, Abd al-Rahman, a grandson of Caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik, escaped to Muslim Spain (al-Andalus), where he founded the Umayyad Emirate of Córdoba, which Abd al-Rahman III elevated to the status of a caliphate in 929. After a brief golden era, the Caliphate of Córdoba disintegrated into several independent taifa kingdoms in 1031, thus marking a definitive end to the Umayyad dynasty.
The Umayyads, or Banu Umayya, were a clan of the larger Quraysh tribe, which dominated Mecca in the pre-Islamic era.The Quraysh derived prestige among the Arab tribes through their protection and maintenance of the Ka'aba, which at the time was regarded by the largely polytheistic Arabs across the Arabian Peninsula as their most sacred sanctuary. A certain Qurashi tribesman, Abd Manaf ibn Qusayy, who based on his place in the genealogical tradition would have lived in the latter half of the 5th century, was apparently charged with the maintenance and protection of the Ka'aba and its pilgrims. These roles passed to his sons Abd Shams, Hashim and others. Abd Shams was the father of Umayya, the eponymous progenitor of the Umayyads.
Umayya succeeded Abd Shams as the qāʾid (wartime commander) of the Meccans.This position was likely an occasional political post whose holder oversaw the direction of Mecca's military affairs in times of war instead of an actual field command. This proved instructive as later Umayyads were known for possessing considerable political and military organizational skills. Historian Giorgio Levi Della Vida suggests that information in Muslim traditional sources about Umayya, as with all the ancient progenitors of the tribes of Arabia, "be accepted with caution", but "that too great skepticism with regard to tradition would be as ill-advised as absolute faith in its statements". Della Vida further asserts that since the Umayyads who appear at the beginning of Muslim history in the early 7th century were no later than third-generation descendants of Umayya, the latter's existence is highly plausible.
By circa 600, the Quraysh had developed trans-Arabian trade networks, organizing caravans to Syria in the north and Yemen in the south.The Banu Umayya and the Banu Makhzum dominated these trade networks and developed economic and military alliances with the nomadic Arab tribes that controlled the northern and central Arabian desert expanses, gaining them a degree of political power in Arabia.
When the Islamic prophet Muhammad, a member of the Banu Hashim, a politically weaker and less wealthy clan of the Quraysh related to the Banu Umayya through their shared ancestor, Abd Manaf, began his religious teachings in Mecca, he was opposed by most of the Quraysh.He ultimately found support from the inhabitants of Medina and relocated there with his followers in 622. The descendants of Abd Shams, including the Umayyads, were among the principal leaders of Qurashi opposition to Muhammad. They superseded the Banu Makhzum led by Abu Jahl as a result of the heavy losses that its leadership incurred fighting the Muslims at the Battle of Badr in 624. An Umayyad chieftain, Abu Sufyan, thereafter became the leader of the Meccan army that fought the Muslims under Muhammad at the battles of Uhud and the Trench.
Abu Sufyan and his sons, along with most of the Umayyads, ultimately embraced Islam toward the end of Muhammad's life, following the Muslim conquest of Mecca.To secure the loyalty of certain prominent Umayyad leaders, including Abu Sufyan, Muhammad offered them gifts and positions of importance in the nascent Muslim state. He installed another member of the clan, Attab ibn Asid ibn Abi'l-'Is, as the first governor of Mecca. Though Mecca retained its paramountcy as a religious center, Medina continued to serve as the political center of the Muslims. Abu Sufyan and the Banu Umayya relocated to the city to maintain their growing political influence.
Following Muhammad's death in 632, a succession crisis ensued and nomadic tribes throughout Arabia that had embraced Islam defected from Medina.Abu Bakr, trusted by the Ansar and the Muhajirun (Muhammad's initial supporters from Medina and Mecca, respectively) as one of Muhammad's oldest friends and earliest converts to Islam and accepted by the late converts from the Quraysh as a native Meccan who assured their influential role in state matters, was elected caliph (paramount political and religious leader of the Muslim community). Abu Bakr showed favor to the Umayyads by awarding them a prominent role in the Muslim conquest of Syria. He first assigned the Umayyad Khalid ibn Sa'id ibn al-As as commander of the expedition, then replaced him with four commanders, among whom was Yazid, the son of Abu Sufyan, who owned property and maintained trade networks in Syria.
Abu Bakr's successor, Caliph Umar (r. 634–644), though he actively curtailed the influence of the Qurayshi elite in favor of Muhammad's earlier supporters in the administration and military, did not disturb the growing foothold of Abu Sufyan's sons in Syria, which was all but conquered by 638. When his overall commander over the province, Abu Ubayda ibn al-Jarrah, died in 639, he appointed Yazid governor of its Damascus, Palestine and Jordan districts. Yazid died shortly after and Umar installed 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 influence of the Himyarite tribes who entered the Homs district during the conquest or the lack of a suitable candidate at the time, particularly amid the plague of Amwas which had already killed Abu Ubayda and Yazid.
Uthman ibn Affan, a wealthy Umayyad merchant, early convert to Islam and son-in-law and close companion of Muhammad succeeded Caliph Umar upon the latter's death in 644.Uthman initially kept his predecessors' appointees in their provincial posts, but gradually replaced many with Umayyads or his maternal kinsmen from the Banu Umayya's parent clan, the Banu Abd Shams: Mu'awiya, who had been appointed governor of Syria by Umar, retained his post; al-Walid ibn Uqba and Sa'id ibn al-'As were successively appointed to Kufa, one of the two main garrisons and administrative centers of Iraq; and Marwan ibn al-Hakam became his chief adviser. Though a prominent member of the clan, Uthman is not considered part of the Umayyad dynasty because he was chosen by consensus (shura) among the inner circle of Muslim leadership and never attempted to nominate an Umayyad as his successor. Nonetheless, as a result of Uthman's policies, the Umayyads regained a measure of the power they had lost after the Muslim conquest of Mecca.
The assassination of Uthman in 656 became a rallying cry for the Qurashi opposition to his successor and cousin of Muhammad, Caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib of the Banu Hashim.The Qurashi elite did not hold Ali responsible, but opposed his accession under the circumstances of Uthman's demise. Following their defeat at the Battle of the Camel near Basra, which saw the deaths of their leaders Talha ibn Ubayd Allah and al-Zubayr ibn Awwam, both potential contenders of the caliphate, the mantle of opposition to Ali was taken up chiefly by Mu'awiya. Initially, he refrained from openly claiming the caliphate, focusing instead on undermining Ali's authority and consolidating his position in Syria, all in the name of avenging Uthman's death. Mu'awiya and Ali with their respective Syrian and Iraqi supporters fought a stalemate at the Battle of Siffin in 657. It ultimately led to an indecisive arbitration, which ultimately weakened Ali's command over his partisans, while raising the stature of Mu'awiya as Ali's equal. As Ali was bogged down combating his former partisans, who became known as the Kharijites, Mu'awiya was recognized as caliph by his core supporters, the Syrian Arab tribes, in 659 or 660. When Ali was assassinated by a Kharijite in 661, Mu'awiya took the opportunity to march on Kufa where he ultimately compelled Ali's son Hasan to cede caliphal authority and gain recognition from the region's Arab tribal nobility. As a result, Mu'awiya became widely accepted as caliph, though opposition by the Kharijites and some of Ali's loyalists persisted, albeit at a less consistent level.
The reunification of the Muslim community under Mu'awiya's leadership marked the establishment of the Umayyad dynasty.Based on the accounts of the traditional Muslim sources, Hawting writes that
... the Umayyads, leading representatives of those who had opposed the Prophet [Muhammad] until the latest possible moment, had within thirty years of his death reestablished their position to the extent that they were now at the head of the community which he had founded.
In the early 7th century, prior to their conversion to Islam, the main branches of the Umayyads were the Aʿyās and the ʿAnābisa.The former grouped the descendants of Umayya's sons Abūʾl-ʿĀṣ, al-ʿĀṣ, Abūʾl-Īṣ and al-ʿUwayṣ, all of whose names shared the same or similar root, hence the eponymous label, "Aʿyās". The ʿAnābisa, which is the plural form of ʿAnbasa, a common name in this branch of the clan, gathered the descendants of Umayya's sons Ḥarb, Abū Ḥarb, Abū Sufyān ʿAnbasa, Sufyān, ʿAmr and Umayya's possibly adopted son, Abū ʿAmr Dhakwān.
Two of the sons of Abūʾl-ʿĀṣ, ʿAffān and al-Ḥakam, each fathered future caliphs, ʿUthmān and Marwān I, respectively.From the latter's descendants, known as the Marwanids, came the Umayyad caliphs of Damascus who reigned successively between 684 and 750, and then the Cordoba-based emirs and caliphs of al-Andalus (Muslim Spain), who held office until 1031. Other than those who had escaped to al-Andalus, most of the Marwanids were killed in the Abbasid purges of 750. However, a number of them settled in Egypt and Iran, where one of them, Abu al-Faraj al-Isfahani, authored the famous source of Arab history, the Kitab al-Aghani . Uthman, the third Rashidun caliph, who ruled between 644 and 656, left several descendants, some of whom served political posts under the Umayyad caliphs. From the Abu'l-'Is line came the politically important family of Asid ibn Abu'l-'Is, whose members served military and gubernatorial posts under various Rashidun and Umayyad caliphs. The al-'As line, meanwhile, produced Sa'id ibn al-'As, who served as one of Uthman's governors in Kufa.
The most well-known family of the 'Anabisa branch was that of Harb's son Abu Sufyan Sakhr.From his descendants, the Sufyanids, came Mu'awiya I, who founded the Umayyad Caliphate in 661, and Mu'awiya I's son and successor, Yazid I. Sufyanid rule ceased with the death of the latter's son Mu'awiya II in 684, though Yazid's other sons Khalid and Abd Allah continued to play political roles in the caliphate with the former being credited as the founder of Arabic alchemy. Abd Allah's son Abu Muhammad Ziyad al-Sufyani, meanwhile, led a rebellion against the Abbasids in 750, but was ultimately slain. Abu Sufyan's other sons were Yazid, who preceded Mu'awiya I as governor of Syria, 'Amr, 'Anbasa, Muhammad and 'Utba. Only the last two left progeny. Another important family of the 'Anabisa were the descendants of Abu 'Amr, known as the Banu Abu Mu'ayt. Abu 'Amr's grandson ʿUqba ibn Abī Muʿayt was captured and executed on Muhammad's orders during the Battle of Badr for his previously harsh incitement against the prophet. 'Uqba's son, al-Walid, served as 'Uthman's governor in Kufa for a brief period. The Banu Abu Mu'ayt made Iraq and Upper Mesopotamia their home.
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. The third Caliph, Uthman ibn Affan, 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 sixth 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 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.
Muawiyah I was the founder and first caliph of the Umayyad Caliphate, serving from 661 until his death. He became caliph less than 30 years following the death of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and very shortly after the reign of the four "rightly guided" (Rashidun) caliphs. Although considered to be lacking in the justice and piety of the Rashidun, Muawiyah was also the first caliph whose name appeared on coins, inscriptions, or documents of the nascent Islamic empire.
Marwan ibn al-Hakam ibn Abi al-As ibn Umayya, commonly known as Marwan I, was the fourth Umayyad caliph, ruling for less than a year in 684–685. He founded the Marwanid ruling house of the Umayyad dynasty, which replaced the Sufyanid house after its collapse in the Second Muslim Civil War and remained in power until 750.
Abu al-Mughira Ziyad ibn Abihi, also known as Ziyad ibn Abi Sufyan, was an administrator and statesman of the successive Rashidun and Umayyad caliphates in the mid-7th century. He served as the governor of Basra in 665–670 and ultimately the first governor of Iraq and virtual viceroy of the eastern Caliphate between 670 and his death.
Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr ibn al-Awwam was the leader of a caliphate based in Mecca that rivaled the Umayyads from 683 until his death. The son of al-Zubayr ibn al-Awwam and Asma bint Abi Bakr, Ibn al-Zubayr belonged to the Quraysh, the leading tribe of the nascent Muslim community, and was the first child born to the Muhajirun, Islam's earliest converts. As a youth, he participated in the early Muslim conquests alongside his father in Syria and Egypt, and later played a role in the Muslim conquests of North Africa and northern Iran in 647 and 650, respectively. During the First Muslim Civil War, he fought on the side of his aunt A'isha against Caliph Ali. Though little is heard of Ibn al-Zubayr during the subsequent reign of the first Umayyad caliph Mu'awiya I, it was known that he opposed the latter's designation of his son, Yazid I, as his successor. Ibn al-Zubayr, along with much of the Quraysh and the Ansar, the leading Muslim groups of the Hejaz, opposed the caliphate becoming an inheritable institution of the Umayyads.
Abu Abd Allah al-Mughira ibn Shu'ba ibn Abi Amir ibn Mas'ud al-Thaqafi ; c. 600–671) was a prominent companion of Muhammad and was known as one of the four 'shrewds of the Arabs'. He belonged to the tribe of Thaqif of Ta'if, who were part of the early Islamic elite. He served as governor of Kufa, one of the two principal Arab garrisons and administrative centers of Iraq, under Caliph Umar in 642–645. In his old age, al-Mughira was again made governor of Kufa, serving under the Umayyad caliph Mu'awiya I from 661 until his death in 671. During his second governorship, he ruled with virtual independence from the caliph.
The Second Fitna or the Second Islamic Civil War was a period of general political and military disorder and conflicts 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.
Abū Hāshim Khālid ibn Yazīd ibn Muʿāwiya ibn Abī Sufyān was an Umayyad prince, commander and one-time candidate for the caliphal throne. As a son of Caliph Yazid I and brother of Caliph Mu'awiya II, Khalid was supported by powerful elements of the pro-Umayyad Syrian tribes of Kalb and Kinda to succeed Mu'awiya II in the wake of his death and the outbreak of the Second Muslim Civil War, which saw the Umayyad domains largely overtaken by supporters of the non-Umayyad, Caliph Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr. Ultimately, Marwan I, a senior Umayyad from another branch of the clan, was chosen as caliph by the Syrians, thus ending the rule of the Sufyanid household to which Khalid belonged. Despite this, he forged close ties with Marwan's son and successor, Caliph Abd al-Malik, who appointed him to successive administrative and military roles. After successful campaigns against Ibn al-Zubayr's loyalists in Mesopotamia, Khalid lived the rest of his life in his Homs estate. Later sources turned Khalid into a legendary alchemist, known in the Latin sources as Calid.
The Battle of al-Harra was fought between the Syrian army of the Umayyad caliph Yazid I led by Muslim ibn Uqba and the local defenders of Medina, namely the Ansar and Muhajirun factions, who had rebelled against the caliph. The battle took place at the lava field of Harrat Waqim in the northeastern outskirts of Medina on 26 August 683.
Sakhr ibn Harb ibn Umayya ibn Abd Shams, better known by his kunyaAbu Sufyan, was a leader and merchant from the Quraysh tribe of Mecca. During his early career, he often led trade caravans to Syria. He had been among the main leaders of Meccan opposition to Muhammad, the prophet of Islam and member of the Quraysh, commanding the Meccans at the battles of Uhud and the Trench in 625 and 627. However, when Muhammad entered Mecca in 630, Abu Sufyan was among the first to submit and was given a stake in the nascent Muslim state, playing a role at the Battle of Hunayn and the subsequent destruction of the polytheistic sanctuary of al-Lat in Ta'if. After Muhammad's death, he may have been appointed the governor of Najran by Caliph Abu Bakr for an unspecified period. Abu Sufyan later played a supporting role in the Muslim army at the Battle of Yarmouk against the Byzantines in Syria. His sons Yazid and later Mu'awiya were given command roles in that province and the latter went on to establish the Umayyad Caliphate in 661.
The Siege of Mecca in September–November 683 was one of the early battles of the Second Islamic Civil War. The city of Mecca served as 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, 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.
Abu al-A'war Amr ibn Sufyan ibn Abd Shams al-Sulami, identified with the Abulathar or Aboubacharos of the Byzantine sources, was an Arab admiral and general, serving in the armies of the Rashidun caliphs Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman rejecting the fourth Rashidun caliph Ali, instead serving Umayyad caliph Mu'awiyah.
Saʿīd ibn al-ʿĀs al-Umawī was the Muslim governor of Kufa under Caliph Uthman and governor of Medina under Caliph Mu'awiya I. Like the aforementioned caliphs, Sa'id belonged to the Umayyad clan of the Quraysh.
Abū Unaysal-Ḍaḥḥak ibn Qays al-Fihrī was an Umayyad general, head of security forces and governor of Damascus during the reigns of caliphs Mu'awiya I, Yazid I and Mu'awiya II. Though long an Umayyad loyalist, after the latter's death, al-Dahhak defected to the anti-Umayyad claimant to the caliphate, Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr.
The Hashemite–Umayyad rivalry was a feud between the clans of Banu Hashim and Banu Umayya, both belonging to the Meccan Arab tribe of Quraysh, in the 7th and 8th centuries. The rivalry is important as it influenced key events in the course of early Islamic history.
Al-Walīd ibn ʿUtba ibn Abī Sufyān was a Umayyad ruling family member and statesman during the reigns of the Umayyad caliphs Mu'awiya I and Yazid I. He served two stints as the governor of Medina in 677/78–680 and 681–682. He was dismissed during his first term for failing to secure oaths of allegiance from Husayn ibn Ali and other senior Muslim figures who opposed Yazid's accession. After his relocation to Damascus during the Second Fitna, he was imprisoned in 684 for proclaiming his support for continued Umayyad rule and condemning the anti-Umayyad caliph Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr. He was freed shortly after by his kinsman Khalid ibn Yazid and the pro-Umayyad Banu Kalb tribe.
Utba ibn Abi Sufyan ibn Harb was a member of the Umayyad ruling family and served as the Umayyad governor of Egypt in 664–665, during the reign of his brother, Caliph Mu'awiya I.
Nuʿmān ibn Bashīr al-Ansārī was a commander and statesman of the Umayyad Caliphate. A supporter of Mu'awiya ibn Abi Sufyan during the First Muslim Civil War, he was appointed by him governor of Kufa in 678–680. Afterward, he was made governor of Homs by Caliph Yazid I. After the latter's death, he gave allegiance to the Mecca-based, Caliph Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr. When pro-Umayyad forces routed Ibn al-Zubayr's supporters in Syria, he fled Homs but was slain during his escape.
Busr ibn Abi Artat al-Amiri was a prominent Arab commander in the service of Mu'awiya I, the governor of Islamic Syria (640s–661) and the first Umayyad caliph (661–680). A veteran of the early Muslim conquests in Syria and North Africa, Busr became an ardent partisan of Mu'awiya against Caliph Ali during the First Muslim Civil War. He led a large-scale campaign against Ali's supporters in Arabia, gaining the submission of Medina, Mecca and Ta'if to Mu'awiya's caliphate and carrying out punitive measures against the inhabitants of Yemen. His actions in Arabia, which included executing two young sons of Ali's cousin, the governor of Yemen Ubayd Allah ibn Abbas, and taking captive women from the Muslim tribe of Hamdan, were condemned as unprecedented atrocities by the traditional Muslim sources, particularly Shia Muslim writers.
ʿAbd Allāh ibn Masʿada al-Fazārī was an Arab commander from the Banu Fazara tribe who fought in the service of the Umayyad caliphs Mu'awiya I and Yazid I. He also played a political role under the caliphs Marwan I and Abd al-Malik.
— Imperial house —
Cadet branch of the Quraysh
|Rashidun Caliphate as elective caliphate|| Caliphate dynasty|
661 – 6 August 750
Umayyad dynasty as caliphal dynasty
| Ruling house of the Emirate of Córdoba |
15 May 756 – 16 January 929
|Emirate elevated to Caliphate|
|New title|| Ruling house of the Caliphate of Córdoba |
16 January 929 – 1017
| Ruling house of the Caliphate of Córdoba |
1023 – 1025
| Ruling house of the Caliphate of Córdoba |
1026 – 1031
into Taifa kingdoms