Campaigns in Iraq and Hejaz::Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan


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Campaigns in Iraq and Hejaz `Abd al-Malik became caliph after the death of his father Marwan I in 685, amidst the ongoing Second Fitna. Within a few years, he dispatched armies on a campaign to reassert Umayyad control over the Islamic empire. He first defeated the governor of Basra Mu'sab ibn al-Zubayr. In Iraq, he was facing three distinct groups (the Kharijites, Shi'a, and Abd-Allah ibn al-Zubayr and his followers) that were fighting amongst themselves and against Umayyad control. al-Zubayr, was the more dangerous of the three as he had been named caliph in Mecca and other provinces were getting behind him.<ref name=EB/> Al-Malik bided his time for three years while they weakened themselves. During this hiatus, al-Zubayr's brother Mus'ab defeated the Shi'a, in 687 which allowed them to commit a large force against the Kharijites.

`Abd al-Malik then appointed one of his most able generals and administrators who would later change the face of the Umayyad Empire, al-Hajjaj bin Yousef to march against `Abd-Allah ibn al-Zubayr, the governor of Hejaz. He was initially unsuccessful in 689, as he needed to return to Damascus to help quell a rebellion. Again in 690 he met with failure. Only after the northern tribes had finally capitulated in 691, did success start. He defeated the weakened army of Mus'ab by bribing many of his soldiers to switch sides and kill their leader.<ref name=EB/> He then turned his attention to the anticaliph, al-Zubayr. He besieged Makkah in 692 with almost 12,000 Syrian troops. He advanced unopposed as far as his native Taif, which he took without any fighting and used as a base. The caliph had charged him first to negotiate with `Abd-Allah ibn al-Zubayr and to assure him of freedom from punishment if he capitulated, but, if the opposition continued, to starve him out by siege, but on no account to let the affair result in bloodshed in the Mecca. Since the negotiations failed and al-Hajjaj lost patience, he sent a courier to ask Abd al-Malik for reinforcements and also for permission to take Mecca by force. He received both, and thereupon bombarded the Holy City using catapults from the mountain of Abu Qubays. The bombardment continued during the month of the Pilgrimage or Hajj.

After the siege had lasted for seven months and 10,000 men, among them two of Abdullah Ibn al-Zubair's sons, had gone over to al-Hajjaj, Abd-Allah ibn al-Zubayr with a few loyal followers, including his youngest son, were killed in the fighting around the Kaaba (Jumadah I 73/October 692).

Hajjaj's success led Abd al-Malik to assign him the role of governor of Iraq and give him free rein in the territories he controlled. Hajjaj arrived when there were many deserters in Basra and Kufa. He continually faced rebellions from the Kharijites, but was able to systematically put them down.<ref name=EB/> He promptly and forcefully impelled them to return to combat. Hajjaj, after years of serious fighting, quelled religious disturbances, including the rebellion launched by Salih ibn Musarrih and continued after Salih's death by Shabib. These rebels repeatedly defeated more numerous forces and at their height entered Kufah. However, Abd al-Malik's Syrian reinforcements enabled Hajjaj to turn the tide. By 697, the Kharijites were no longer much of a problem.<ref name=EB/>

Under Hajjaj, Arab armies put down the revolt of Abd al-Rahman ibn Muhammad ibn al-Ash'ath in Iraq and Afghanistan from 699 to 704,<ref name=EB/> and also took most of Turkestan. Abd al-Rahman rebelled following Hajjaj's repeated orders to push further into the lands of Zundil. After his defeat in Iraq, again achieved through Abd al-Malik's dispatch of Syrian reinforcements to Hajjaj, Abd ar Rahman returned east. There one city closed its gates to him and in another he was seized. However, Zundil's army arrived and secured his release. Later, Abd ar Rahman died and Zundil sent his head to Hajjaj who sent it to Abd al-Malik. These victories paved the way for greater expansions under Abd al-Malik's son Al-Walid.

Hajjaj decided that the best way to rule Iraq was to treat them as enemy territory. He built a new city, Wasit, which he used as a garrison city for his Syrian troops and also his private residence.<ref name=EB/>

Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan sections
Intro  Early life   Campaigns in Iraq and Hejaz    Campaigns in North Africa   Anatolia   Reforms    Art and architecture    Death    References    Sources    External links   

Campaigns in Iraq and Hejaz
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