Start of ‘Glorious Age of Umayyads.’ It began from 692 and lasted till 743 of Hisham’s reign. Arabs may have had conquered the lands from Byzantines and Persians, but the system and traditions that remained there were largely Unarabic. With Malik, the empire started becoming more Arabic and became foundation for Arabization of lands.
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New Arabian Coins
Hazrat Umar and Muawiyah had tried introducing their own coins and at some places did too, but the coins were fully instituted by Malik. He first struck them in 696. He copied from the Greeks, but they had now Arabic inscription on them. Gold coins were called dinar, solver coin, dirham and copper coin, fills. The weights were standardized too. Malik definitely achieved success here; the Muslim world was finally independent from dependence on foreign currency.
Arabic as an official language
Muslims rulers had continued to rely on foreign languages for administration of conquered provinces. Thus Greek was still in use in Egypt and Syria and Persia still in Kufa and Basra. Malik, altogether, instituted Arabic as an official language. The administration especially financial revenue ones would follow Arabic. The language came into speaking too and that too in non-Arabs mouths too. But the language had no written foundation, it was quite at least for the new learner. Arabs had no problem in understanding or speaking, but others did. Hajjaj took on the role to reform the language and placed needed effort in correcting for good. This helped in fine interpretation and reading of Quran.
Abdul Malik and his governor Hajjaj were great builders too. In 691, Malik built ‘the Dome of the Rock’ in Jerusalem which is wrongly called Mosque of Umar. He also built the al-Aqsa masjid in Jerusalem. One reason for focusing on Jerusalem was to divert the attention from Makkah where his rival Ibn Zubair was leading, but as soon as he was defeated, the construction activity in Jerusalem was dropped off.
He amplified the concept of Qatai lands. The feudalism was gaining strong ground in different provinces. The classes had clearly started to emerge.
His Character in general
As with Umayyads, his character too has been blackened by Abbasid historians. He is highlighted for his cruelty such as the one he showed against Amr bin Said or Hajjaj’s severity. He is pinpointed for having dynastic interests, but so did any one who came after him. Truth is, he was second to none in statesmanship. He expanded the administrative setup of the empire, gave it an Arabic touch and turned it into a truly Arabic one.
He was secular and believed theology and spirituality had no place in running the government. But he reunited the Caliphate and did so at the worst of the times. He defeated many of the enemies and reigned ably. Thus, with him began the age of Glorious reign for Umayyads.
For complete Islamic history notes click here.