Yazid I

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Yazīd ibn Mu‘awiya
Caliph in Damascus
Drachm of Yazid I, 676-677.jpg
Arab-Sasanian Drachm of Yazid I
2nd Caliph of the Umayyad Caliphate
Reign26 April 680 12 November 683
Predecessor Mu'awiya I
Successor Mu'awiya II
Born646 (25 AH) [1] [lower-alpha 1]
Died12 November 683 (14 Rabi ul-Awwal 64 AH) [2]
Issue Mu'awiya II
Khaled
Atikah
Full name
Yazīd ibn Mu‘awiya ibn Abī Sufyān
يزيد بن معاوية بن أبي سفيان
House Sufyanid
Dynasty Umayyad
Father Mu'awiya I
Mother Maisun bint Bahdal [3]

Yazīd ibn Mu‘āwiya (Arabic : يزيد بن معاوية بن أبي سفيان; 647 11 November 683), commonly known as Yazid I, was the second caliph of the Umayyad caliphate. He ruled for three years from 680 CE until his death in 683 CE. In 676 CE (56 AH), Muawiya made him his heir apparent; [4] this was regarded as a violation of Hasan–Muawiya treaty. [5]

In 661 CE, after Ali's murder, Hasan ibn Ali attained to the caliphate. There was a military conflict between Ahl al-Bayt and Muawiya ibn Abu Sufyan ; and to avoid the agonies of a further civil war, Hasan signed the Hasan–Muawiya treaty with Muawiyah. According to the treaty, Hasan ceded the caliphate to Muawiyah but the latter could name no successor during his reign; instead, he was to let the Islamic world choose its successor afterward.

Contents

Upon Muawiya's death in 680 CE, Yazid assumed power. A few prominent Muslims from Hejaz, including Husayn ibn Ali and Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr, refused to recognize his authority. When Husayn was on his way to Kufa to lead a revolt against Yazid, he was killed with his small band of supporters by forces of Yazid in the Battle of Karbala. Killing of Husyan led to widespread resentment in Hejaz, where Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr centered his opposition to rule of Yazid, and was supported by many people in Mecca and Medina. After failed attempts to regain confidence of ibn al-Zubayr and people of Hejaz diplomatically, Yazid sent an army to end the rebellion. The army defeated Medinese in the Battle of al-Harrah in August 683 and the city was given to three days of pillage. Later on siege was laid to Mecca, which lasted for several weeks, during which the Kaaba was damaged by fire. The siege ended with death of Yazid in November 683 and the empire fell to civil war.

Hejaz Place

The Hejaz, is a region in the west of present-day Saudi Arabia. The region is so called as it separates the land of the Najd in the east from the land of Tihamah in the west. It is also known as the "Western Province". It is bordered on the west by the Red Sea, on the north by Jordan, on the east by the Najd, and on the south by 'Asir Region. Its largest city is Jeddah, but it is probably better known for the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina. As the site of the two holiest sites in Islam, the Hejaz has significance in the Arab and Islamic historical and political landscape.

Husayn ibn Ali the grandson of Muhammad, son of Ali ibn Abi Talib and Fatimah bint Muhammad. Revered by Shia Muslims

Al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī ibn Abi Talib was a grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and a son of Ali ibn Abi Talib and Muhammad's daughter Fatimah. He is an important figure in Islam as he was a member of the Bayt (Household) of Muhammad and the Ahl al-Kisā', as well as the third Shia Imam.

Battle of Karbala 10 Muharram 61, October 10, 680 AD

The Battle of Karbala took place on Muharram 10, in the year 61 AH of the Islamic calendar in Karbala, in present-day Iraq. The battle took place between a small group of supporters and relatives of Muhammad's grandson, Husayn ibn Ali, and a larger military detachment from the forces of Yazid I, the Umayyad caliph.

Early life

Yazid was born in 646 CE to Muawiya ibn Abu Sufyan and Maisun bint Bahdal, the daughter of powerful Kalbite leader Bahdal ibn Unayf. He led several campaigns against Byzantine Empire and in 670 he participated in an attack on Constantinople. He also led Hajj on several occasions. [3]

Byzantine Empire Roman Empire during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages

The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire and Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural, and military force in Europe. Both the terms "Byzantine Empire" and "Eastern Roman Empire" are historiographical exonyms; its citizens continued to refer to their empire simply as the Roman Empire, or Romania (Ῥωμανία), and to themselves as "Romans".

Constantinople capital city of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire, the Latin and the Ottoman Empire

Constantinople was the capital city of the Roman Empire (330–395), of the Byzantine Empire, and also of the brief Crusader state known as the Latin Empire (1204–1261), until finally falling to the Ottoman Empire (1453–1923). It was reinaugurated in 324 from ancient Byzantium as the new capital of the Roman Empire by Emperor Constantine the Great, after whom it was named, and dedicated on 11 May 330. The city was located in what is now the European side and the core of modern Istanbul.

Hajj Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca

The Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the holiest city for Muslims, and a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey, and can support their family during their absence. Literally speaking, Hajj means heading to a place for the sake of visiting. In Islamic terminology, Hajj is a pilgrimage made to Kaaba, the ‘House of God’, in the sacred city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. The rites of Hajj, which according to Islam go back to the time of Prophet Abraham who re-built Kaaba after it had been first built by Prophet Adam, are performed over five or six days, beginning on the eighth and ending on the thirteenth day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar. It is one of the five pillars of Islam, alongside Shahadah, Salat, Zakat and Sawm. The Hajj is the second largest annual gathering of Muslims in the world, after the Arba'een Pilgrimage in Karbala, Iraq. The state of being physically and financially capable of performing the Hajj is called istita'ah, and a Muslim who fulfils this condition is called a mustati. The Hajj is a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission to God (Allah). The word Hajj means "to attend a journey", which connotes both the outward act of a journey and the inward act of intentions.

Nomination as caliph

Muawiya was not supposed to nominate a successor under the terms of the Hasan–Muawiya treaty. However, in 676, a few years before his death, he nominated Yazid. [6] At first Muawiya and the Shura of Damascus decided for Yazid. [7] He then ordered Marwan ibn Hakam, then the governor of Medina, to inform the people of Medina, of Muawiya's decision, who faced resistance on this announcement, especially from Husayn ibn Ali, Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr, Abdullah ibn Umar and Abdul-Rahman ibn Abi Bakr. Muawiya summoned influential people from all provinces to the capital and convinced them one way or the other. Then he went himself to Medina and began pressing against the four dissenters, who then fled to Mecca. Muawiya followed them and threatened some of them with life, but got only refusal. Nonetheless he was successful in convincing the people of Mecca that these four men had pledged their allegiance, and received allegiance for Yazid. On his way back to Damascus, he secured allegiance from people of Medina as well. The opponents went into silence thereafter. German orientalist Julius Wellhausen doubts the story, [8] while Bernard Lewis writes that the homage was arranged with mix of diplomacy and bribes and, to lesser extent, by force. [7]

Abdullah ibn Umar Islamic scholar

Abdullah ibn Umar was the son of the second Caliph Umar and a brother-in-law and companion of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He was a prominent authority in hadith and law, and was known for his neutrality toward factions engaged in the first civil war within the Muslim community (656–661).

Abdul-Rahman ibn Abi Bakr was the eldest son of Abu Bakr, the first caliph in Sunni Islam. His mother was Um Ruman bint Amir ibn Uwaymir ibn Zuhal ibn Dahman and he was the full brother of Aisha. He and three other children of Abu Bakr namely Abdullah, Aisha and Asma were born sometime between 595 AD to 600 AD. It is said that he had a good sense of humour.

Julius Wellhausen German theologian

Julius Wellhausen was a German biblical scholar and orientalist. In the course of his career, he moved from Old Testament research through Islamic studies to New Testament scholarship. Wellhausen contributed to the composition history of the Pentateuch/Torah and studied the formative period of Islam. For the former, he is credited as one of the originators of the documentary hypothesis.

Reign

Upon succession, Yazid asked governors of all provinces to take an oath of allegiance to him. The necessary oath was secured from all parts of the country. [9] [10] He wrote to the governor of Medina Walid ibn Utbah ibn Abu Sufyan, informing him about the death of Muawiya. He attached a small note with the letter, asking him to secure allegiance from Husayn ibn Ali, Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr and Abdullah ibn Umar. [11] The note read:

Seize Husayn, Abdullah ibn Umar, and Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr to give the oath of allegiance. Act so fiercely that they have no chance to do anything before giving the oath of allegiance. Peace be with you. [12]

Walid sought advice of Marwan ibn Hakam on the matter. Marwan suggested that ibn al-Zubayr and Husayn should be forced to pay allegiance as they were dangerous, while ibn Umar should be left alone as he posed no threat. When summoned by Walid, Husayn answered the summon, while ibn al-Zubayr did not. When Husayn met Walid and Marwan in a semi-private meeting at night, he was informed of Muawiya's death and Yazid's accession to the caliphate. When asked for his pledge of allegiance to Yazid, Husayn responded that giving his allegiance in private would be insufficient, such a thing should be given in public. Walid agreed to this, but Marwan interrupted demanding that Walid imprison Husayn and not let him leave until he gives the pledge of allegiance to Yazid. At this interruption, Marwan was scolded by Husayn who then exited unharmed. Husayn had his own group of armed supporters waiting nearby just in case a forcible attempt was made to apprehend him. Immediately following Husayn's exit, Marwan admonished Walid, who in turn rebutted Marwan, justifying his refusal to harm Husayn by stating "On the Day of Resurrection a man who is [responsible] for the blood of Al-Husayn [will weigh] little in the scale of God." Ibn al-Zubayr left for Mecca at night. In the morning Walid sent eighty horsemen after him, but he escaped. Husayn too left for Mecca shortly after, without having sworn any oath of allegiance to Yazid. [13] Yazid then replaced Walid with Amr ibn Said as the governor. [11] To capture ibn al-Zubayr, ibn Said sent an army to Mecca, but it was defeated. [14]

Incident of Karbala

Coin of the Umayyad Caliphate at the time of Yazid ibn Muawiya. BCRA (Basra) mint; "Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad, governor". Dated AH 60 = AD 679/680. Sasanian style bust imitating Khosrau II right; bismillah and four pellets in margin/ Fire altar with ribbons and attendants; star and crescent flanking flames; date to left, mint name to right. Umayyad Caliphate. temp. Yazid I ibn Mu'awiya. AH 60-64 AD 680-683.jpg
Coin of the Umayyad Caliphate at the time of Yazid ibn Muawiya. BCRA (Basra) mint; "Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad, governor". Dated AH 60 = AD 679/680. Sasanian style bust imitating Khosrau II right; bismillah and four pellets in margin/ Fire altar with ribbons and attendants; star and crescent flanking flames; date to left, mint name to right.

Husayn left for Mecca along with his family. There he received letters from pro-Alid Kufans, inviting him to lead them in revolt against Yazid. In order to assess the situation in Kufa, Husayn sent his cousin Muslim ibn Aqil. He also sent letters to Basra, but his messenger was handed over to the governor Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad by the Basrans and was killed. Ibn Aqil was met with large scale support in Kufa and informed Husayn of the situation, suggesting that he join them in Kufa. Yazid ordered Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad to move to Kufa and eliminate the Husayn threat at all costs. Ibn Ziyad suppressed the rebellion ruthlessly and killed ibn Aqil. [5]

Encouraged by ibn Aqil's letter, Husayn planned to leave for Kufa. As he prepared for the journey, Abdullah ibn Umar, Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr and Abd Allah ibn Abbas argued against his plan, and suggested that if he was determined to proceed to Kufa, he should leave women and children in Mecca, but Husayn rejected their suggestions. On the way to Kufa, he received the report of Muslim ibn Aqil's death at the hands of Yazid's men and that the Kufans had changed sides. [5] Husayn and his companions, nonetheless, continued their journey towards Kufa. Ibn Ziyad sent some 4000 men, who forced them to camp in the desert of Karbala. Husayn and 72 of his male companions were killed on 10 October 680. [5] [15] This event produced widespread outcry and image of Yazid suffered greatly. [16] It also helped crystallize mere opposition of Yazid into an anti-Umayyad movement based on Alid aspirations, [17] and contributed to the development of Shi'ite identity. [15]

Revolt of Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr

Ibn al-Zubayr secretly started taking oath of allegiance in Mecca. Upon hearing this, Yazid sent a silver chain to ibn al-Zubayr with the intention of pacifying him. But the latter refused it. [18] Yazid then sent a force led by ibn al-Zubayr's own brother Amr, who was at odds with his brother, to arrest him. The force was defeated and Amr was killed. [19] After Husayn's death at Karbala, ibn al-Zubayr's influence reached Medina and Kufa. [14] To counter growing influence of ibn al-Zubayr in Medina, Yazid invited notables of the city to Damascus and tried to win over them with gifts and presents. The notables were unpersuaded, however, and on their return to Medina narrated tales of his lavish lifestyle and practices considered by many to be impious, including drinking wine, hunting with hounds, and his love for music. Medinese renounced their allegiance to Yazid upon hearing these details and expelled the governor and Umayyads residing in the city. Yazid sent an army of 12,000 men under the command of Muslim ibn Uqba to reconquer Hejaz. By the end of August 683 Ibn Uqba approached Medina and gave Medinese three days to reconsider, but was refused. When the ultimatum was over, battle started in which Medinese were defeated. After plundering the city for three days and forcing the rebels to renew their allegiance, the Syrian army headed for Mecca to subdue ibn al-Zubayr. [20] [21] According to one account, the city was not plundered but only the leaders of the rebellion were executed. [20] Ibn Uqba died on the way to Mecca and command passed to Husayn ibn Numayr al-Sakuni, who laid siege to Mecca in September 683. The siege lasted for several weeks, during which the Kaaba caught fire. Yazid's sudden death in November 683 ended the campaign and threw the caliphate into disarray and civil war. Ibn al-Zubayr openly declared himself caliph and Iraq and Egypt came under his fold. [22] [2]

Setbacks

During the caliphate of Yazid ibn Muawiya, Muslims suffered several military setbacks. In 682 CE, Yazid restored Uqba ibn Nafi as the governor of north Africa and Uqba won battles against the Berbers and Byzantines. [9] Uqba then marched westward towards Tangier and then marched eastwards the Atlas Mountains. [10] With cavalry numbering about 300, he proceeded towards Biskra, where he was ambushed by a Berber force. Uqba and all his men died fighting, and the Berbers launched a counterattack and drove Muslims from north Africa. [23] That was a major setback for the Muslims, as they lost supremacy at sea and had to abandon the islands of Rhodes and Crete.

He discontinued Muawiya's policy of raids against Byzantine Empire and focused on stabilizing borders. [24]

Death and succession

Yazid died in November 683 at Huwwarin. Due to uncertainty concerning his birth year, his age is reported to have been between 35 and 39 years. His son Muawiya II, whom he had nominated, became caliph. His control was limited to some parts of Syria however, and he died after a few months rule from some illness. Some early sources state that Muawiya II abdicated before his death. [25] In any case, Marwan ibn Hakam became caliph afterwards and the Sufyanid caliphate came to an end. [26]

Legacy

Yazid is generally considered an evil figure by many Muslims, especially by Shia. He was the first person in the caliphate history to be nominated as heir based on blood relation, and this became a tradition afterwards. He is considered a tyrant who was responsible for three major crimes during his caliphate: the death of Husayn ibn Ali and his followers at the Battle of Karbala, considered a massacre; the aftermath of the Battle of al-Harrah, in which the troops of Yazid's general, Muslim ibn Uqba, pillaged the town of Medina; and the burning of the Kaaba during the siege of Mecca, which was blamed on Yazid's commander Husayn ibn Numayr. Moreover, because of his habits of drinking, dancing and hunting, and keeping pet animals like dogs and monkeys, he is considered impious and unworthy of leading the Muslim community. [3]

Despite his dark memory among religious circles, academic historians generally portray a more favourable view of Yazid. According to Jullius Wellhausen, Yazid was a mild ruler and not a tyrant that religious tradition portrays him to be. [27] Michael Jan de Goeje describes him as "a peace-loving, generous prince". [2] According to G. R. Hawting, he tried to continue the diplomatic policies of his father. But, unlike Muawiya, he was not successful in winning over the opposition with gifts and bribes. [3]

Notes

  1. His year of birth is uncertain. Reports vary from 22 AH to 30 AH [2]

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References

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  2. 1 2 3 4 de Goeje 1911, p. 30.
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Sources

Further reading

Yazid I
Born: 647  Died: 11 November 683
Sunni Islam titles
Preceded by
Muawiya I
Caliph of Islam
Umayyad Caliph

680 11 November 683
also claimed by Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr in 680
Succeeded by
Muawiya II