Accession and Character
We know how Merwan came to power. He was driven out of Madinah when citizens of Madinah were waging revolt against Umayyads. Merwan eventually came to Damascus where he was made a Caliph due to necessities of time. He reigned only for about a year when he was killed by his wife. The throne was succeeded by his son Abdul Malik.
When he became the chief, the empire didn’t extent beyond Egypt and Syria and the second civil war was still going on. Most of the Empire was in hand of Ibn Zubair, the caliph of Makkah or was ravaged by Khawarij.
He possessed many of Umayyad traits. He was energetic, resolute, astute, extremely capable and unscrupulous. He was well-versed in Islamic theology and was a proficient interpreter of the Quran and Hadith.
But like Muawiyah 1, he was of secular mind. It is said that when the news of his succession reached him, he was reciting the Quran and closed it and said, “This is my last time with thee; we shall never meet again.”
Confronted with danger and enemies, Abdul Malik adopted a policy of making peace with Byzantines and agreed to pay annual tribute to them. This freed him from any external danger for now.
This allowed him to concentrate internally, by his intrigues he first tried to win their support and then at suitable time attacked and destroyed them.
Al-Mukhtar and Mawali
The events in Iraq were grim. Abdul Malik left it to Ibn Zubair who made his brother Mus’ab the governor of Basra. Kufa, on the other hand, was quite unruly.
Ibn Zubair rule was weakened there due to rise of the Shia factions.
In 684, Kufans who had left Hussain to himself were immersed in grief, remorse, and repentance. They resolved to avenge Hussain. They marched towards Syria with 5000 men but were defeated by Abdul Malik’s father Merwan. Among the few that got left out alive, came al-Mukhtar.
Mukhtar rose to power in Kufa with a battle-car of ‘vengeance for Hussain.’ But this guy was always ready to change sides. He was first with Hasan and then went to Muawiyah and again sided with Hussain during Karbala.
He was imprisoned by Ubaydullah after Karbala and treated so cruelly that he lost one of his eyes. He was determined to seek revenge against Ubaydullah.
By this time, Shias were virtually in control of Kufa. He became their leader with the slogan of ‘avenger of Ahl-e-Bayt.’
Al-Mukhtar, soon after coming to power, sent an army against Ubaydullah. Ubaydullah was defeated in 686 and his head was brought to same place where Ubaydullah once sat.
These successes made al-Mukhtar the master of Mesopotamia. It is to be noted that al-Mukhtar presented an extreme version of Shiaism such as he worshiped the chair of Ali etc.
He had ardent followers of Persian line, but his aristocratic Arab Shias were particularly tired of him and requested Mus’ab to come and invade Kufa. Ibn Zubair had tolerated Mukhtar, but after his victory against Ubaydullah he renounced his allegiance to Ibn Zubair. Ibn Zubair allowed his brother to march against Mukhtar.
Mukhtar was defeated and put to death along with his men by Mus’ab. Again the whole Iraq came under Ibn Zubair’s control.
The meteoric rise and fall of Mukhtar showed that:
➢ The influence of tragedy of Karbala on the later history of Islam
➢ The power of Shia rallying cry of ‘vengeance for the House of Ali’
➢ The advent of Mawali, into the politics of Islam, in order to seek justice and equality with the aristocratic Arabs.
For complete Islamic history notes click here.