The Umayyad caliphate
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The installation of the Umayyad caliphate in Damascus in 661 mark a radical rupture with the capacity of the preceding “well guided” caliphs. The Byzantine influence is felt by the introduction of a life of court and by the choice of a certain number of Christians among the advisers of the Caliph. The new capacity becomes a traditional “mulk”, i.e. a traditional monarchical capacity. The arabity of the political power overrides the specifically Muslim character of the caliphate of the former companions of the Prophet. The solidity of the mode is due to several essential factors:
The homogeneity and the internal solidarity of the government rest on the honesty of the Arab tribes installed in Syria. Mu’wwiyya consults systematically the tribal chiefs.
The Umayyad empire is initially an Arab empire before being a Muslim empire.
The continuation and the consolidation of the conquest will make it possible the empire to function on the economy of the spoils. A share of the conquered grounds is confiscated but left in usufruct with their original owners against payment of a tax, the “kharaj”. As for the other confiscated grounds, they are integrated into the public domain of the caliphate. They are cut out in great fields and are conceded with large Moslem owners belonging to the Arab tribes against the payment of “the usr”, tax equal to the tenth of harvests. Its amount is lower than the kharaj. Conversion with the Islam of a local owner does not change his situation.
Each head of household which is not Moslem is subjected to a particular tax, the jizya. The economic distinction which are founded between Moslems, primarily Arab, and those who are not Moslem are a factor justifying the absence of policy of the capacity in favour of massive conversions to Islam. On the other hand, this difference in situation can, in a certain number of cases, that those which are not Moslem wish to convert. The not converted local populations profit of a protection comprising, in theory, of the restrictions such as the access to the public office and the army. New convert is called “mawaali”. They are, in accordance with the operating mode of the tribal Arab society, of the customers of tribes. It is a kind of statute of affiliation which enables them to become Moslem but while remaining different. This distinction between mawaali and Arabic Moslem does not go without causing tensions and posing problems. It should be stressed that the religion of the conquerors exerts a particularly strong attraction with regard to the populations conquered for reasons which are not exclusively economic or political. Islam is a religion without mysteries, without clergy and whose liturgy is very simple, contrary to Christianity. This explains, to some extent, the speed and the success of the Moslem conquest. Little by little, the Umayyad caliphs will move away from daily realities to settle in a life of court which scandalizes pious people and, in particular, the partisans of Ali who denounce the illegitimacy of the caliphate of Damascus. The successive caliphs, like Hishaam, tend to leave Damascus and prefer to reside in castles built in the desert. The military operations of the conquest which does not cease continuing are the fact of the governors of province. The Caliph is less and less implied in the process of expansion. Lastly, the tensions between Arabs resulting from the conquering tribes and new convert are exacerbated. While the revolts shake the empire, the conquests continue.
Between 706 and 712, the towns of Bukhara and Samarkand are taken with the unit of which constitutes a hinged plate of the trade and movement of the men and ideas. Indus is crossed in 713. In the west, the misr of Kairuan is created in 670. North Africa is conquered partially, between 695 and 698. In 711, Tariq ibn Ziyad crosses the strait which separates Africa from Europe and penetrates in Spain. The country is conquered in five years. The Arab and Berber troops, supported by Christian combatants, cross the Pyrenees and penetrate in France. The conquerors are stopped close to Poitiers in 732 in a place baptized by overcome “the field of the martyrs”. The Moslem expansion reached its most extreme point in Occident. The conquest of the Maghreb will continue, enamelled many autochthones revolts. As for internal risings with the empire, they are of order varied:
The revolt led by Abd Allah ibn Az Zoubayr, governor of Hijaz occurs in 683. He refuses to make allegiance to the power of Damascus and enters in dissidence. Umayyad seizes Medina. Abd Allah takes refuge in Mecca which is besieged. The instability of the government of Damascus makes it possible to the dissident to continue to control Hijaz during ten years between 683 and 693. Abd Allah ibn Az Zoubayr incarnates a certain legitimacy and he proclaims himself Caliph. We assist, once again, at the existence of two caliphates. However, in 693, Abd el Malik arrives at the capacity at Damascus and righting the situation. His army seizes Mecca. Abd Allah is killed.
The Kharigits revolts: According to the tradition, are the facts of the nine survivors of the battle of Nahrawwan. For Kharigits the Caliph can be appointed only by Umma very whole and this dignity falls naturally to best of enters it. They preach a strict equality in the faith between the Arabs and the others one and also between men and women. The duty of rising against the capacity in place is posed like a rule by more the activists. The revolts occur from 682. They all are crushed. In 748, Abu Hamza, a Kharigit chief, is killed. Consequently, Kharigits take refuge with the borders of the empire, the Maghreb and Oman.
As for the partisans of Ali, the problem arises in terms different but always with the idea from the illegitimacy of the Umayyad caliphs. After the death of Ali in 661, it is Hassan, his son, who is designated Caliph but he agrees to make allegiance with his rival Mu'wwiyya. Hassan withdraws himself. With his death, in 680, his brother, Hussein, is solicited by the partisans of his father to take the head of the rising which prepares against the capacity of Damascus. He moves towards Kufa and stop at Karbala. The Umayyad troops block the road to him and block the access to the Euphrates River. Hussein and all his troop are massacred on October 10, 680 (10 Muharram 61 of Hegira). Other revolts shake the empire but it is that of the Abbasids, whose hearth of revolt is in the important province of Khurasan, which will triumph over the Umayyad government in 750. From this date, the centre of the empire moves from Damascus to Baghdad and cease to be exclusively Arab to become primarily muslim. Home page