History of the Saracens/Moawiyah I

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search


The caliphs of the family of Ommiyah,[1] Which are fourteen in all, the first of which is, Moawiyah I., the son of Abu Sofian, being the sixth caliph after Mohammed.

Hejirah 41-60. a.d. 661-679.

All opposition being now removed by the death of Hasan, Moawiyah[2] took possession of the whole caliphate. The family of Hashem, of which were Mohammed and Ali, lay like coals raked up in embers not able to stir.[3] The hearts of the people

were entirely in the interest of Hosein the younger brother of Hasan, but Moawiyah had possession and the army, and was, moreover, a man of great abilities and steady conduct. But before we proceed to give an account of his government, it will not be amiss to inquire a little into his origin.[4]

His father Abu Sofian was one of the heads of the noble tribe of the Koreish, to which Mohammed also belonged. When Mohammed took up arms, not so much for the defence as for the propagation of his pretended revelation, Abu Sofian was made generalissimo of the infidels against him: and after the battle of Beder, he stood very fair for the headship of that tribe. He wanted nothing to recommend him; his courage, his gravity and immense riches, set him above competition. But[5] at last he was convinced (as it seems, by a signal victory gained by Mohammed over his enemies), of the truth of the prophet’s pretensions. The conversion of Abu Sofian was no small accession to Mohammed’s party, which had been sufficiently galled and harassed by the Koreish. Moawiyah with his wife came in on the same day as their father, who, on, his adhesion to the new religion, begged three things of Mohammed. The first was, that in order to make amends for the offences committed by him against the true religion, when he commanded the forces of the infidels, he might now have the honour of leading the army of the faithful against the infidels; a request which was readily granted. His second petition was, that his son Moawiyah might be his secretary, to which also Mohammed assented. The third was, that the apostle would vouchsafe to marry his second daughter Gazah; an honour which Mohammed begged leave to decline. Our author says, it was not lawful; but he omits to give the reason, referring us to a particular treatise which, as we have before observed, he hath written on that subject.

Moawiyah was no sooner settled in his government, but the Karegites, enemies to all government both ecclesiastical and civil, began to disturb him.[6] It was one of their opinions that the person who had the rule in spirituals should not be one of man’s appointment, nor descend by any succession; but one whose spirituality should recommend him to the approbation of the godly. Upon Hasan’s refusal to take up arms, Moawiyah ordered the Syrians to march against them; but the Separatists beat the Syrians. So he applied himself to his new subjects the Cufians, and the inhabitants of all that part of Babylonia, telling them that now was their time to give him proof of the sincerity of their obedience; and that he could have no better security for their loyalty than their vigorous opposition to this rebellion. When accordingly they took up arms, the Separatists would have persuaded them to desist, and asked them whether or no Moawiyah was not their common enemy. “Let us alone,” said the Karegites, “to make war upon him; if we kill him, we shall have ridden you of your enemy; if he kills us, you are rid of us.” The Cufians did not think it prudent to hearken to this suggestion, and the war was soon ended by the discomfiture of the rebels.

After this rebellion we meet with little worth observing till the three and fortieth year;[7] which was remarkable for the death of the famous Amrou,[8] of whom it is reported by tradition, that Mohammed said, “There is no truer Mussulman, nor one more stedfast in the faith than Amrou.”[9] He served in the wars of Syria, where he behaved with singular courage and resolution. Always excellent in advice, he was also steady in execution. Afterwards Omar sent him into Egypt, which he reduced, and became lieutenant of the conquered country. Othman continued him in that post four years, and then removed him; whereupon he retired to Palestine, where he lived privately till Othman’s death. Upon this event, he went over to Moawiyah upon his invitation; and took a great part in the dispute between Ali and Moawiyah. The latter restored him to the lieutenancy of Egypt, and continued him in it till his death, allowing him all the revenues of that rich country, upon condition that he should maintain the necessary troops for its defence.

Amrou was justly reckoned one of the most considerable men among the Arabians, both for the quickness of his natural parts, and also for his valour and good judgment. Before he turned Mohammedan, he was one of the three poets who were famous for writing lampoons upon Mohammed, in which style of composition Amrou particularly excelled. There are some fine proverbs of his remaining, and also some good verses. His dying speech to his children is pathetic and masculine. He laments in it very much, his ever having exercised his wit in ridiculing the prophet.[10]

The same year died Abdallah Ben Salem a Jewish Rabbi, who had turned Mahommedan betimes. He used to say that when Mahommed came first to Medina, he pressed amongst the crowd to get a sight of him; and that at the first glance he perceived that he had nothing in his countenance that looked like an impostor.

We have before observed,[11] that Ziyad was in Ali’s reign made lieutenant of Persia; this office he discharged much to his own credit, and to the advantage of the people. He was a man of incomparable parts, and singular greatness of spirit. He was Moawiyah’s brother by the father’s side, but a bastard; and old Abu Sofian durst not own him for fear of Omar’s severity. He was born in the year of the Hejirah, and as he grew up, quickly distinguished himself by his great abilities and masterly eloquence. So powerful was his rhetoric that once in the reign of Omar, at a meeting of the companions, he made so great an impression that Amrou said, “Had the father of this youth been of the family of the Koreish, he would nave driven all the Arabians before him with his walking-stick.” Moawiyah was resolved to secure him in his interest; and he thought nothing so likely to effect this object as publicly to own him for his brother. Ziyad, in Omar’s time, was made a Cadi or judge; and when witnesses came before him, accusing Al Mogeirah of incontinency, whether out of favour, or because they failed in their proof, he not only acquitted Al Mogeirah, but also scourged the witnesses severely. This endeared him to Al Mogeirah for ever after. Ziyad, having been placed in the lieutenancy of Persia by Ali, upon Hasan’s resignation in favour of Moawiyah, he kept at a distance from the new caliph, and refused to acknowledge his government. This gave Moawiyah no small uneasiness, who was much afraid lest Ziyad should make a league with the family of Hashem, and embroil his affairs by renewing the war. However, Al Mogeirah, to whom Moawiyah had given the lieutenancy of Cufah, making the caliph a visit in the forty-second year, was informed by Moawiyah of the causes of his uneasiness. The lieutenant of Cufah, in consequence, asked leave to go to. Ziyad, to which the caliph consented, and sent by him a civil letter to the Persian governor, with a kind invitation. Al Mogeirah made so good use of his friendship with Ziyad, that he never ceased importuning him till he had prevailed upon him to go along with him to Moawiyah. Upon his arrival at Damascus, he immediately acknowledged him caliph. Soon after which, Moawiyah owned him to be his brother by his father’s side.

For Abu Sofian, in the days of ignorance, before drinking wine was made a sin by the Koran, while travelling in Taïf, put up at a public house. Here, after drinking somewhat freely, he lay with this Ziyad’s mother, Somyah, who was then married to a Greek slave. The old man that kept the house was yet alive; and Moawiyah, in order to make his recognition of Ziyad as public as might be, had him examined upon a set day in a full assembly, touching the conversation of Abu Sofian with Somyah. The old man gave in such a strong evidence that Ziyad was acknowledged to be a true Arabian, of the noble blood of the family of the Koreish, which, though illegitimate, was a greater honour than he could otherwise have ever obtained. For let his achievements have been never so great, he must still have been obnoxious to reproach on account of the baseness of his origin.

It is observed that this is the first time that the law, i. e. the Koran, was openly violated in a judicial way of proceeding.[12] For the child belonged to his legal father, the Greek slave that married his mother. Moreover, Mohammed had left it as his decision in such cases, “The child to the blankets, and the adulteress to the stone.” That is, bring up the child, and stone the adulteress. As for Moawiyah’s relations, they stormed, and were quite out of patience at the proceedings; they said that he had not only introduced the son of a harlot into the family, to the disparagement of all their kindred; but had raked into the ashes of old Abu Sofian his father, who had lived and died with a good reputation. Moawiyah, however, could well bear all their murmurs very patiently. He knew he had gained his point, and entirely secured in his interest the greatest man of the age.

Abdallah, the son of Ammar, was at this time governor of Bassorah; but Moawiyah removed him as unequal to that charge, because of the too great gentleness of his disposition for the country was overrun with thieves and murderers for want of discipline. Abdallah, for his part, never cared to punish any, but thought rather to win and reform them by the sweetness of his temper, and his gentle rule. Insupportably afflicted with this grievance, the people made their complaint to Moawiyah, who appointed Hareth for a time, until he could make them amends for Abdallah’s lenity, by sending them Ziyad, who drew the sword, and with exemplary punishments chastised the insolence of the brigands.[13] When he came to Bassorah things were in such a bad condition that there was hardly any walking the streets, even in the day; but still less in the night, which was always marked by disorder and bloodshed. On his arrival at Bassorah he made a very severe speech to the inhabitants, at which he had an excellent talent, being reckoned the best orator next to Ali, who never had any equal.[14] One of the polite Arabians used to say “That he never in his life heard a man speak well, but he wished he would say no more, for he always began to be in pain for him, lest he should fall beneath himself, and speak worse.” With Ziyad, however, this was never the case, for the more he spoke, the more you felt he would still excel. In this speech, he acquainted the Bassorians that he was very well aware of the lamentable condition they were in, through these disorders; and that he was resolved to put an end to them. He next published an order forbidding, upon pain of death, any person, whatsoever might be his rank or quality, to appear in the streets, or other public place, after the hour of evening prayer. And to put his order into execution, he appointed a strong watch to go the rounds, and put to the sword every one they met out of their houses after that hour. Two hundred persons were killed the first night, but only five the second, and on the third, no blood at all was shed.

Besides the lieutenancy of Bassorah, Moawiyah gave Ziyad those of Khorassan, Sejestan, India, Bahrein, and Amman. Not unadvisedly; for the more he committed to his care, so much the lighter to himself was the burthen of the government. The very name of Ziyad made all the villains within the precints of his province tremble. He was not, indeed, savage or cruel in his temper, but strictly just, though, at the same time, absolute in his way of governing; impatient of the least neglect of his commands; and never giving up any of his authority. But notwithstanding all his greatness, he met with a rebuff in his five and fortieth year; which it is uncertain how he would have resented, if the person that offered it had lived a little longer. He had sent Hakem the son of Amar to take a place called Mount Ashal;[15] Hakem succeeded in the enterprise, killing a great number of the enemy, and carrying off all the riches of the place. Upon this, Ziyad sent him word that he had received a letter from Moawiyah, the emperor of the faithful, commanding him to put aside all the white and yellow (meaning thereby the silver and gold), from among the spoil, that it might be paid into the treasury. Now, as to this particular there is a decisive rule in the Koran, a chapter being made on the subject, occasioned by a mutiny among Mohammed’s soldiers about the division of some spoil.[16] It is there ordered, that after any victory, a fifth part of the spoils shall first be taken out and reserved for the treasury, and the rest be divided among the soldiers. Hakem stuck close to the text of the Koran, and sent Ziyad word that the authority of the book of God was superior to that of the emperor of the faithful’s letter; and that it had also this promise, “Though the heavens and the earth conspire together against a servant of God, who puts his trust in him, he shall find him a secure place of refuge, and a means of deliverance.” Then he laid aside the fifth part of the spoil, according to the text; and divided the rest among the soldiers. After this, for he expected no mercy, he said:—“O God! if I be in the favour, take me.” His request was granted; and he died soon after.

This same year died Zeid the son of Thabet, one of Mohammed’s secretaries, to whom he dictated the Koran. He wrote that copy which was used by the caliphs or Imams at the command of Othman the son of Affan.

The author,[17] whom I am here following, had seen it; and adds, that all his writing was an extraordinary fair and strong hand. This Zeid was a man of the greatest parts of any in his age. He learned Hebrew in fifteen days, so as to be able to read the books of the Jews. He learned Persian in eighteen days, of one of Cosroes’ ambassadors, and acquired a knowledge of Æthiopic, Greek, and Coptic, from one of Mohammed’s slaves. He was fifteen years old at the battle of the Ditch; and was the most pleasant, facetious man in the world at home, and one of the most reserved when abroad. Once he saw the people coming from prayers, and he made what haste he could to get out of their way, as not wishing to be seen by them, for he used to say, “He that doth not reverence men will not reverence God.”

This year Merwan the son of Hakem went on pilgrimage to Mecca; he was governor of Medina.

The next year Abdarrhaman son of Kaled the Great, was poisoned in Syria.[18] His death was occasioned by Moawiyah’s jealousy; for the soldiers of Abdarrhaman, especially those who had been witnesses of the skill and courage of his father, whose equal he appeared in every respect, favoured him to that degree, that Moawiyah was afraid of him. During his absence, therefore, upon an expedition against the Greeks, the caliph tampered with a Christian servant of his to poison him, promising not only to remit him his own tribute, but to give him the lieutenancy of Hems. Upon Abdarrhaman’s return, the conditions were punctually performed on both sides. But the murderer did not long enjoy the reward of his treachery; for Kaled the son of Abdarrhaman, receiving information of it, came into Syria, and revenged his father’s death upon that wicked slave. For this act Kaled was imprisoned for a time, by Moawiyah, who also made him pay the money for the expiation of his murder. After a short incarceration he was liberated, and the caliph returned to Medina.

Not long after this, happened the death of a very great man among the followers of Ali.[19] His name was Hejer, a person remarkable for his singular abstinence, piety, and strictness of life, his constant purifications according to the Mohammedan law, and exactness in observing the hours of devotion. He lived at Cufah. Now, it was the custom of Moawiyah and his lieutenants, in their harangues every Friday to the people, to be very lavish in the praise and commendation of Othman, but to rail at and revile Ali. This was done by Al Mogeirah when he was lieutenant of Cufah, more out of complaisance to Moawiyah, than from any inclination of his own. As he was one day pronouncing these reproaches against Ali, Hejer and his company stood up, and interrupted him, and returned the ill language back again upon himself; but Mogeirah passed it by, and forgave them, without taking any further notice. Hejer, however, was not so quietly treated by Ziyad upon a similar provocation. The latter used to divide the year into two equal parts, residing six months at Cufah, and the other six at Bassorah. Coming according to his custom to Cufah, in his harangue he called Ali by the name of Abu Torah, which signifies in Arabic, “Father of dust.”[20] This was the most acceptable nick-name to Ali in the world, having been given him by Mohammed himself. But Hejer, resolved to affront Ziyad, stood up and said, “He seems to have designed a compliment to Ali.” This remark provoked Ziyad to such a degree, that he immediately seized him, and thirteen of his companions, and sent them all in chains to Moawiyah.

But though this was the occasion of Hejer’s punishment, it was not the sole cause; there were, besides, several old offences.[21] For before this, Ziyad, fearing lest the peace and quiet of the reigning caliph should be disturbed by Hejer, who was an avowed enemy of Moawiyah, but the declared friend of Ali and his party, and moreover, extremely popular on account of his piety, wished to carry him along with him to Bassorah from Cufah. But Hejer excused himself, by saying that he was indisposed. Ziyad answered angrily, that he was indisposed as to his religion, heart, and understanding; adding with an oath, that he would have an eye over him, and that if he dared to raise any commotion, he should suffer for it. Another time, when Ziyad was making a speech to the people, he spoke so long, that the hour of prayer came before he had finished. Hejer, who in all things belonging to the exercise of his religion was the strictest man alive, cried out, Salat; “to prayers.” Ziyad took no notice of him, but went on with his discourse. Hejer fearing, lest the time should be past, began the prayers in the congregation himself, upon which Ziyad was forced to break off, and come down and join with them. This affront he never forgave, looking upon it as a great detriment to his own character for piety, but wrote a long letter to Moawiyah, aggravating the matter, and desiring that he might put Hejer in irons, and send him to him. But there was also a still sorer and more recent provocation. Ziyad having returned from Bassorah to Cufah, Hejer and his company refused to acknowledge his lieutenant, and even went so far as to throw dust at him as often as he entered the pulpit. Upon receiving this information, Ziyad was forced to return to Cufah, where, dressed in a silk cassock, and a vest of gold brocade, he went into the pulpit and made a severe speech to the people, telling them, he should make but a very insignificant figure in his post, if he suffered his authority to be thus set at nought and trampled upon, without making an example of Hejer. In his oration he frequently, as occasion served, used these words, “And it belongs to the emperor of the faithful;” at which Hejer took up a handful of dust and flung it at him, with these words: “God curse thee, thou liest.” Whereupon Ziyad came down and went among the people. Then retiring to the castle, he sent for Hejer, who refusing to come, he sent a party to fetch him, between whom and Hejer’s friends there was a little skirmish with stones and cudgels, so that they did not carry him off that time. But he was taken soon after in the mosque, and sent to Moawiyah, attended with a sufficient number of witnesses to testify against him, that he had spoken reproachfully of the caliph, affronted the emir (Ziyad), and affirmed, that the government did not, of right, belong to any but the family of Ali. On their arrival, Moawiyah sent officers with orders to put them to death, and authors differ as to the circumstance of their being admitted into his presence or not. Gadrah, a village behind Damascus, was the place appointed for their imprisonment; and during their stay there, Moawiyah advised with his friends how they should be disposed of. Some were for putting them to death, others for dispersing them through the several territories of his vast dominions, Ziyad sent him word, that if he wished to retain the kingdom of Irak, they must die. Notwithstanding, the chief men of the court begged off six of them. When Hejer was come near the place of execution, he desired space to wash himself, which he always punctually observed. This being granted, having made his ablutions, he repeated two short prayers, and rising up, said, “If I had been afraid of death, I could have made them longer.” When, however, he saw the grave ready dug for him, his winding-sheet spread out, and the executioner with his naked sword, he was observed to tremble. Whereupon, being asked if he had not said a moment before that he was not afraid; he merely asked in turn, “If it was possible not to be moved at such a sight?” When the executioner bade him stretch out his neck straight, he answered that he would not be assistant to his own death. After these words, his head was struck off. His body being washed, he was, according to his own directions, buried in his chains.

Ayesha had sent a messenger to intercede for him, who unfortunately arrived too late. Afterwards, when Moawiyah went to Medina, he visited Ayesha, who said to him from behind the curtain, “What was become of your compassion, Moawiyah, when you killed Hejer and his companions?” “I lose that, mother,” said he, “when I am absent from such persons as you are.”

About the latter end of the eight and fortieth year, Moawiyah sent his son Yezid with a powerful army to besiege Constantinople. Our authors give us no account of the particulars of that siege, but only mention three or four of the most eminent of the companions, whose zeal, notwithstanding their great age, prompted them to undergo such fatigue and hazard. The army suffered the greatest extremities and hardships in their march; but they had a tradition sufficient to encourage them in all their sufferings, it being no less than a plenary indulgence.[22] Mohammed, the tradition ran, had said, “The sins of the first army that takes the city of Cæsar are forgiven.” It was in this expedition that the famous Abu Jyub was killed, who had been with Mohammed at the battles of Beder and Ohud. His tomb is held in such veneration by the Mohammedans, that to this very day the emperors of the Ottoman family, upon their accession to the throne, go to it to have their swords girt on.[23]

In the fiftieth year[24] of the Hejirah died Al Mogeirah, the governor of Cufah. A great plague had been raging in the city, which made him retire from it; but returning upon its violence abating, he nevertheless caught it, and died of it. He was an active man, and of very good parts; he had lost one of his eyes at the battle of Yermouk, though some say that it was with looking upon an eclipse. By the followers of Ali he was accounted to be of the wrong party, and one of the chief of them. For thus they reckon: there are five elders on Ali’s side; Mohammed, Ali, Fatima, Hasan, Hosein; and to these are opposed, Abubeker, Omar, Moawiyah, Amrou, and Al Mogeirah.

The same year Kairwan, the metropolis of that province which is properly called Africa, was built, though not finished till the fifty-fifth year.[25] It lies thirty-three leagues distant from Carthage, towards the north-east, and twelve from the sea. The account the Saracens give of it is as follows:—The place of the governor’s residence before being in Zeweilah and Barca, it was the custom of the inhabitants of this neighbourbood, upon the approach of the Saracen army, to make profession of Mohammedanism, and upon their departure to return to their old religion again. But Moawiyah having constituted Okbah[26] governor of the province of Africa, he put all those to the sword that had revolted from Islam. Resolving to have a garrison on the spot, to keep the people in awe, he pitched upon Kairwan. As his march had been interrupted and perplexed by the woodiness of the country, which was full of wild beasts and serpents, he felled all the trees in the neighbourhood, and employed them in the building. This city was of great use to the Saracens; it was well situated for keeping the country in subjection; and being remote from the sea, and bordering upon the desert, was secure from the invasions of the Sicilian and Roman navies. It soon became a flourishing city, considerable not only for its public and private buildings, riches, and the like, but also for the study of the sciences and polite literature.

This same year is remarkable for the death of one Rahya, who was one of the earliest professors of Mohammedanism, although he was not present at the battle of Beder.[27] Mohammed used to say of him, that of all the men he had ever seen, Rahya did most resemble the angel Gabriel. The year after died Saïd Ben Zend; he was the last of those (I think they were ten in all) that had a positive promise of paradise.[28]

About this time Moawiyah, who kept his constant residence at Damascus, had a fancy to remove Mohammed’s pulpit thither from Medina. He said, that the walking-stick and pulpit of the apostle of God should not remain in the hands of the murderers of Othman.[29] Great search was made for the walking-stick, which was at last found. Then they went, in obedience to his commands, to remove the pulpit; but immediately, to their great terror and amazement, the sun was eclipsed to that degree that the stars appeared. This put them all into a great consternation, for they looked upon it as a manifest indication of the divine displeasure, for their presuming to lay hands upon the apostle’s pulpit, and attempting to remove it from the place where he had himself set it up. This made Moawiyah desist from the enterprise, and the Medinians were left in the peaceable possession of this holy relic, till some years afterwards, when Abdalmelik had a mind to it. On this occasion, however, one of the Medinians said to him, “For God’s sake do not attempt such a thing, for Moawiyah did but move it once, and the sun was eclipsed!” He urged besides a tradition from Mohammed, who was reported to have said, “Whosoever shall swear upon my pulpit falsely, hell shall be his mansion.” “And,” added he, “will you go and take away the pulpit from the Medinians, when it is to them the ordeal of all their controversies? “This representation prevailed, and Abdalmelik forbore, and never mentioned the subject again. After him Al Walid, in his pilgrimage, made the same attempt, but when he sent for it his messenger received this answer, “Bid your master fear God, and not expose himself to the divine displeasure.” With which answer Al Walid remained very well satisfied. Afterwards, when Solyman, the son of Abdalmelik came on pilgrimage that way, Amrou, the son of Abdalaziz, was mentioning these things to him, “I do not love,” answered Solyman, “to hear these things mentioned either of the emperor Abdalmelik, or of Walid. What have we to do with it? We have taken possession of the world, and it is in our hands, and we will stand to the determination of the Mussulman doctors.”

And now the famous Ziyad’s time was come. He died of the plague on the third day of the month Ramadan in the fifty-third year of the Hejirah,[30] and also of his own age. A little before he died he wrote a letter[31] to Moawiyah, acquainting him that he had reduced all Irak, from north to south, into perfect subjection to his authority, and begged the caliph to give him the lieutenancy of Arabia Petræa. It is superfluous to add that it was granted, for it was not in Moawiyah’s power to deny him anything, or rather, shall I say? because it was his interest to have him employed everywhere, if possible. As soon as the Arabians[32] heard of the appointment, they were under the greatest concern in the world, for fear he should exercise his tyranny over them as he had done before upon the poor Irakians. Upon the first news of it, the son of Ammar rose up and went to the temple of Mecca to deprecate his coming amongst them,[33] and the people prayed in faith. Ziyad, struck with the plague, felt such an intolerable pain in his hand that he consulted a cadi, as a point of conscience, whether it were better to cut it off or not. The cadi told him, that he was afraid, if his time was come, he would have to go before God without that hand, which was cut off to avoid the appearing before him; and if it was not come, he would remain lame among men, which would be a reproach to his child,[34] wherefore he was of opnion, that live or die he had better let it alone: and so left him. However, notwithstanding this grave decision, Ziyad, impatient of the pain which increased every moment, resolved to have it cut off, but when he saw the fire, and the cauterizing irons, his heart failed him. It is said, that he had about him no less than a hundred and fifty physicians, three of which had belonged to Cosroes, the son of Hormuz; king of Persia, but it was not in their power to reverse the sealed decree, nor the thing that was determined. He had been Moawiyah’s lieutenant over Irak five years. He was buried near Cufah, which he had passed in his journey towards Arabia, in order to take possession of his new government there. When Abdallah, the son of Ammar, heard of his death, he said, “Go thy way, thou son of Somyah, this world did not stay with thee, neither hast thou attained to the other.”

Upon the death of Al Mogeirah, Moawiyah, who could never do enough for his brother Ziyad, or rather for himself, had added the lieutenancy of Cufah to all those vast territories he had entrusted him with before. He was the first that joined those two great trusts of Bassorah and Cufah together. When Ziyad first came to Cufah, having left Bassorah to the care of Samrah, in his inaugural address he told the Cufians, that he once had thoughts of bringing along with him two thousand of his guards, but recollecting that they were honest men, he had brought no other attendance but only his own family. They threw dust at him, upon which he sat down and gave private directions to some of his domestics to close and guard the doors of the mosque. This being done, he placed himself upon a seat near the principal door, and had the people brought before him, four by four, and made every one of them swear distinctly, “It was none of us four that threw dust.” Those that took the oath he dismissed, they that refused it were bound and ordered to stand aside. When he had thus gone through the whole congregation, there remained thirty, and some say fourscore, that would not take the oath, whose hands were immediately cut off upon the spot.

Not long after Ziyad entered upon his government, he issued an order that no one should appear in the street after a certain hour, and that every citizen should leave his door open all night, engaging to be responsible for all the damage that any person should sustain in consequence.[35] One night it happened that some cattle getting into a shop, put the things in disorder. As soon as Ziyad was informed of this, he gave every one leave to have a hurdle or harrow at his door, which continued in use ever after, not only in Bassorah, but in a great many other towns of Irak, of which he was governor.

One night his archers that were upon the watch, having met with a shepherd coming through the town with his flock, carried him before Ziyad. The shepherd excused himself upon the account of his being a stranger, and ignorant of the order. Ziyad said to him, “I am willing to believe that what thou tellest me is true; but since the safety of the inhabitants of this town depends upon thy death, it is necessary that thou shouldst die,” and instantly commanded his head to be cut off.[36]

Now though Ziyad was so strict in seeing his orders punctually executed, and severe in inflicting exemplary punishments, yet his behaviour was gentle in respect of that of Samrah, his lieutenant at Bassorah, who was abhorred by all men for his cruelty.[37] Ziyad himself was ashamed of it. For during Ziyad’s six months’ absence at Cufah, Samrah had put to death no less than eight thousand persons at Bassorah. Ziyad asked him if he was not afraid lest in such a number he might have put to death one innocent man. He answered, that he should be under no concern, if at the same time that he had killed them, he had killed as many more. Abu Sawar said that he killed seven and forty of his men one morning, every one of which had got the Koran by heart.

Once as Samrah’s horsemen went out on an expedition, they met with a countryman, and one of them struck him through with his lance. They went on, and Samrah coming up after them, found the poor man wallowing in his own blood. Inquiring what was the matter, he was answered, that the man having met the vanguard the soldiers had killed him. All that Samrah said to it was merely to repeat the verse, “When you hear we are mounted, beware of our lances.”

When Ziyad came to Cufah, he inquired who was the most religious man there, and one Abul Mogeirah was recommended to him in this character. He sent for him, and told him, that if he would keep within his own doors, and not go out, he would give him as much money as he desired. The religious told him, that if he would give him the empire of the whole world, he would not omit going out to say his prayers on the congregation-day[38] “Well then,” says Ziyad, “go to the congregation, but do not talk about anything.” He said he could not help “Encouraging that which is good, and reproving that which is evil.”[39] For which answer Ziyad commanded him to be beheaded.

A little before his death, he gathered the people together, and filled both mosque, and street, and castle with them, in order to impose upon them by oath the renunciation of the line of Ali. Whilst they were waiting, full of vexation and perplexity, one of his servants came out, and told them, that they might go about their business, for his master was not at leisure, The plague had just seized him, and the incident was afterwards looked upon by all as a providential deliverance.

A famous Persian historian[40] reports, that a letter written by Ziyad to Moawiyah, when he asked him for the lieutenancy of Arabia, was expressed in these terms: “My left hand is employed here in governing the people of Irak. In the meantime my right hand lies idle. Give it Arabia to govern, and it will render you a good account of its administration.”

He adds, with some little variation from my Arabic author above-mentioned, that Moawiyah having granted him this government, the principal inhabitants of Medina, who were afraid of his rough and violent temper, were very much alarmed; and that Abdallah the son of. Zobeir,[41] who was one of them, made this public prayer to God, Allahomma ectaphi yemin Ziyadihi. “O God! Satisfy this right hand, which is idle and superfluous to Ziyad.” There is in these words a very elegant allusion to the name of Ziyad, which signifies in Arabic, “abundant and superfluous.” And they say, that immediately after this prayer, a pestilential ulcer broke out in one of the fingers of his right hand, of which he died a few days after.

There was afterwards a dynasty of princes of his posterity, who reigned in Arabia Felix under the name of the children of Ziyad.

Several persons, both of the sect of Ali, and of the Karegites or heretics, endeavoured to disturb Ziyad’s administration, but these commotions were soon extinguished by his skilful management. The particulars are to be found at large in our historians; but I have purposely omitted them, because they would only interrupt the thread of our history, and contribute nothing either to illustrate the character of this great man, or to throw light on the customs and genius of the people.

This same fifty-third year died Jabaleh, the son of Ayham, the last king of the tribe of Gasan, who were Christian Arabs, and of whom we have already given a full account.

We will now return to Moawiyah,[42] who in the fifty-fourth year deposed Said from the government of Medina, restoring Merwan, the son of Hakem to that office. Then he wrote to Merwan commanding him to demolish Saïd’s house, and to seize all his effects that were in Hejaz. Merwan accordingly proceeded to execute the caliph’s command, and took his mule along with him to carry away whatsoever be found of value. Said was surprised, and told him he hoped he would not serve him so. Merwan answered, “It must needs be;” adding, “If Moawiyah had commanded you to have pulled down my house, when you were governor, you would certainly have done it.” But upon this Saïd produced a letter of the caliph’s to himself, when he was governor, commanding him to demolish Merwan’s house; which however, .out of friendship, he had ventured to disobey, and by so doing incurred the displeasure of the caliph. Merwan was surprised at this, and readily acknowledged the superior generosity of Saïd’s temper. They both perceived too, that this was only a contrivance of the caliph’s to set them at variance, though it really proved the means of uniting them in a stricter friendship than ever. Merwan never left off interceding with Moawiyah, till he desisted from urging the execution of his unjust command. Moawiyah was himself ashamed afterwards of his ungenerous dealing, and asked the pardon of both his intended victims.

This year Moawiyah deposed Samrah, who was Ziyad’s deputy over Bassorah. As soon as Samrah heard the news, he said, “God curse Moawiyah. If I had served God so well as I have served him, he would never have damned me to all eternity.” One of my authors tells this without any reserve; another seems to scruple at the truth of it.

Ziyad being dead, Obeidollah his son came to pay his duty to Moawiyah, who received him very courteously, and inquired of him concerning the characters and behaviour of his father’s deputies in their respective provinces. He gave him such a satisfactory account, that he made him lieutenant of Khorassan, when he was but twenty-five years old. He went to his charge, and passed over the river as far as the mountains of Bockhara. There he encountered the Turks, and having bravely charged them, he put them to such a precipitate flight, that the Turkish queen had only time to put on one of her buskins, and left the other behind her in the camp, for the Arabians, who valued it at two thousand pieces of gold.

Obeidollah[43] the son of Ziyad did not continue long in his lieutenancy of Khorassan, being removed to Bassorah, the place of Abdallah the son of Amrou. The occasion of Abdallah’s removal was this. A leading man of one of the tribes of the Arabs threw dust at him, whilst he was preaching. He followed Ziyad’s example, and commanded his hand to be cut off. Upon this some of the man’s tribe came to Abdallah and told him, that if the emperor of the faithful should know that he had cut off the man’s hand for such an action, he would deal with him, and all that belonged to him, as he had done by Hejer and his companions. Wherefore, added they, give it us under your hand, that you did it indiscreetly. This he foolishly complied with, imagining thereby to pacify them, as he knew them to be greatly provoked. They kept the paper by them for a time, and went with it afterwards to Moawiyah, and complaining that his deputy over Bassorah had cut off their master’s hand upon an uncertainty; and desired of him to execute the law of retaliation upon him. Moawiyah said, “They could have no retaliation against his deputy; but a mulct they should have:” which was accordingly paid out of the treasury.[44] And Abdallah, to satisfy them, was deposed from his lieutenancy, and Obeidollah the son of Ziyad substituted in his room. Obeidollah left Khorassan to one Aslam, a worthless man, who did nothing in his government deserving of notice. This same year Merwan, the son of Hakem, and governor of Medina, conducted the pilgrims to Mecca.

The next year[45] Moawiyah made Saïd, who was Othman’s grandson, lieutenant of Khorassan, who, passing over the river Jibon (formerly Oxus), marched to Samarcand, (afterwards the capital of the great Tamerlane), and Sogd.[46] Having there routed the idolaters, he proceeded to Tarmud, which surrendered to him.

Hitherto the caliphate had been elective; but Moawiyah designed, if possible, to secure the succession in his own family, and make it hereditary. For this end he used all the means imaginable to induce the people to declare his son Yezid his heir and successor.[47] He seems to have first entertained some thoughts of it in the days of Al Mogeirah; for Al Mogeirah had come to Moawiyah, to beg leave to resign the lieutenancy of Cufah; which, in consideration of his great age and infirmities, Moawiyah granted him, and designed to put Said the son of Aas in his place. But when Al Mogeirah heard this, he repented of what he had done: and advised Yezid to go to his father, and beg him to nominate him his heir. Upon Yezid’s coming with this request, Moawiyah asked him who had counselled him to make this demand. He told him Al Mogeirah; which surprised Moawiyah, and he restored him immediately to his lieutenancy of Cufah. This proposal wrought so powerfully upon Moawiyah’s mind, that he wrote to Ziyad to ask his advice about it; who however did not by any means approve of it, for he knew that Yezid was a profligate young fellow, wholly given up to sporting, gaming, and drinking. Wherefore he sent an intimate friend of his to Damascus, to divert both the father and the son from the project. This friend first applied himself to Yezid, and satisfied him that it would be much better to desist, at least for the present. Afterwards he talked with Moawiyah; till at last he also consented to lay it aside. Thus it rested as long as Ziyad lived; till, in this fifty-sixth year, Moawiyah, who had fondly cherished the idea ever since the day it was first suggested, at last revived it again in good earnest, and wrote circular letters about it to all the provinces. The Syrians and Irakians concurred at once in the proposal. Malec, who was then governor of Medina, would have had him proclaimed in that city heir-apparent to his father: but Hosein the son of Ali, Abdallah the son of Ammar, Abdarrhaman the son of Abubeker, and Ayesha’s brother, and Abdallah the son of Zobeir, absolutely refused it. Their protest kept the people back. Moawiyah, to forward the business with his presence, went in person to Medina, with a thousand horse, where he had a conference with Ayesha about it.[48] The result was, that in general the people of the province of Hejaz came into the measure. However, the four already mentioned, with their adherents, stood it out to the last. Though Moawiyah blustered in the mosque, and would have terrified them if he could; they stood their ground resolutely, and let him see by their answers that they despised his threats; and though he was vehemently angry, he was obliged to content himself with menaces, for they were too considerable, and too popular to suffer any violence.

After this, Moawiyah took an opportunity of saying to his son Yezid, “Look you, you see I have made the way plain before you: there is none that refuses to come in, except these four only. Hosein has the Irakians in his interest, who will never let him rest till they draw him out into the field. Remember, however, that he is your near relation, and a person of merit, wherefore if he comes under your power let him go. Abdallah the son of Ammar is a man wholly given up to devotion; and when nobody else stands out, he will come in. As for Abdarrhaman, he is guided by example; what he sees other people do, that he does too. For himself he minds nothing but women and play. But the man that will attack thee with the strength of the lion, and the subtilty of the fox, is Abdallah the son of Zobeir; if you get him into your power, cut him to pieces.”[49]

In the fifty-eighth year[50] died Ayesha, daughter of Abubeker,[51] who had that name from her. For Mohammed marrying his daughter Ayesha when she was very young, his name was changed into Abubeker, that is “the father of the girl.” She survived her husband Mohammed a long time, who died in the eleventh year of the Hejirah. She was invariably treated with the utmost respect, except on one occasion when she exposed herself in the expedition against Ali. Sometimes she was called prophetess, and generally when any one spoke to her, he qualified her with the title of “mother of the faithful.” Her brother Abdarrhaman, one of the four who stood out against Yezid’s inauguration, died the same year.

The next year died[52] Abu Horeirah, that is “the father of the cat;” so nicknamed by Mohammed, because of his fondness of a cat, which he always carried about with him. He was called so constantly by this name, that his true name is not known, nor his pedigree. He was such a constant attendant upon Mohammed, that a great many traditions go under his name; so many, indeed, that the multitude of them make people suspect them. Nevertheless others receive them all without the least hesitation, as of an undoubted authority.

I find nothing worth remarking between this great attempt of Moawiyah, to change an elective monarchy into a hereditary one, and his death.[53] Great it may very justly be called, considering not only the strength of Ali’s party, who, though kept under for the present, would be sure to fall into any measures opposite to Moawiyah their mortal enemy; but also with regard to the fact, that several of the old companions of the apostle still survived, who looked for the dissolution of Moawiyah, with no less impatience than the papal cardinals long for the possession of the apostolic chair. Besides Yezid’s character was so obnoxious, whatsoever it might seem in his father’s eyes, that his uncle Ziyad, who had capacity and experience to understand men, as well as courage and spirit to govern them, thought him too unpopular to be the subject of such a proposition to the provinces. And yet, notwithstanding all these difficulties, Moawiyah so managed matters, that the son was more secure of succeeding the father, than could have been supposed by any who considered the insolence and innovation of the attempt, and the vigorous opposition it was likely to provoke. And Moawiyah at last succeeded in getting his son acknowledged for his successor. As soon as this point was settled, Yezid sat and gave audience to the ambassadors, who were sent from all the countries round to proffer their allegiance, and to congratulate him.[54] Amongst the rest came old Al Ahnaf, who was Yezid’s uncle. Moawiyah, who was very fond of his son, bade Al Ahnaf discourse with him; and to give him a fair opportunity of trying his parts, left them some time alone. When Al Ahnaf came out, Moawiyah asked him what he thought of his nephew. The old man very gravely answered:—“If we lie, we fear to offend God; if we speak truth, we fear to offend you. You know best both his night and his day; his inside and his outside; his coming in and his going out; and you know best what you design to do. It is our business to hear and obey; yours to give counsel to the people.”[55]

It was part of the agreement between Moawiyah and Hasan, that after Moawiyah’s decease, the government should return to Hasan; but he being dead, Moawiyah s thoughts were entirely bent upon his own son Yezid; and there either really was in him, or else paternal tenderness made him fancy it, something so grand and majestic, and a capacity so well fitted for the government of a mighty empire, that his father grew every day fonder of him; and though in other respects, a wise and prudent man, he could not help frequently expressing in conversation the great opinion he entertained of his abilities. It is said, that once, in one of his harangues to the people after this business was over, he said, “O God! if thou knowest that I have settled the government upon him, because according to the best of my judgment I think him qualified for it, confirm it to him! But if I have done it out of affection, confirm it not!”

The last speech made in public, when he perceived himself in a weak condition, was to this purpose:[56]—“I am like the corn that is to be reaped, and I have governed you a long time till we are both weary of one another; both willing to part. I am superior to all who shall come after me; as my predecessors were superior to me. Whosoever loves to meet God, God loves to meet him. O God! I love to meet thee! do thou love to meet me!” He had not walked far after this speech before he was taken very ill. When he perceived death approaching, his son Yezid being absent,[57] he called the captain of his guards to him, and another faithful servant, and said to them, “Remember me to Yezid, and tell him this from me:—Look upon the Arabians as your root and foundation, and whenever they send you any ambassadors, be sure to treat them with courtesy and respect. Take care of the Syrians, for they are entirely in your interest; and you may depend upon them whenever you are insulted by your enemies. But if ever you have occasion to make use of them out of their own country, as soon as they have answered your purpose, send them home again; for they alter for the worse with being abroad. Oblige the Irakians, though they were to ask you for a new deputy every day; you had better in such a case part with the dearest friend you have in this world, than have a hundred thousand swords drawn upon you. I am not in fear for you from any of the Koreish but three, Hosein, Ben Ammar, and Abdallah son of Zobeir (here he repeated the characters given of them before). If Abdallah appears against you, oppose him; if he offers you peace, accept it, and spare the blood of your people as much as lies in your power.”

Moawiyah reigned nineteen years three months and seven and twenty days, from the time that the government came entirely into his hands upon Hasan’s resignation.[58] There are different reports concerning his age; some say seventy years, and others seventy-five. When he was dead, Dehac, the son of Kais, went into the mosque, and stepped up into the pulpit with Moawiyah’s winding-sheet in his hand; where, having made an encomium upon him, and satisfied the people that he was dead, and that that was his winding-sheet, he said the burial prayers over him. Yezid was then absent at a town called Hawarin, belonging to the territory of Hems. They wrote to him and desired his presence; but he did not come till after his father was buried, and then went and prayed at the tomb.

Moawiyah embraced the Mohammedan religion at the same time with his father, which was in the year of the victory. Mohammed made him his secretary, and Omar gave him the lieutenancy of Syria, which he held during four years of that caliph’s life. Othman continued him in that post during the whole space of his reign, which was about twelve years. Four years more he kept Syria in his own hands by force, whilst he held out against Ali. Taking all together, therefore, he had held possession of Syria, either as governor or caliph, for nearly forty years.

He was of a merciful disposition, courageous, of a quick capacity, thoroughly skilled in the administration of government. His good nature prevailed over his anger, and the sweetness of his temper exceeded its fierceness.[59] He was easy of access, and very obliging in his behaviour.[60]

There is a tradition that goes under the name of one Hasan, a Bassorian, of great authority among the traditionists.[61] According to it, four things are to be objected against Moawiyah, for each of which he deserved destruction. 1. His having seized the caliphate by force of arms, without having first consulted the people, amongst whom, besides the companions of the apostle, there were a great many persons of merit and distinction. 2. His leaving the caliphate by way of inheritance to his son Yezid, a man of scandalous character, a drunkard, a lover of music, and one that wore silk. 3. His disgraceful procedure in the business of Ziyad, when he owned him for his brother, in violation of the rule of Mohammed for the regulation of such matters. 4. His cruelty to Hejer and his companions. Shaphei reports, that he put Ali Rebiyah in chains, because there were four of the companions whose testimony he rejected, viz. Moawiyah, Amrou, Al Mogeirah, and Ziyad.

Once, when the caliph was holding his court for the redress of wrongs, there came before him a young man, and repeated to him a copy of verses, detailing his present condition, and demanding justice at his hands. Moawiyah was very well pleased with the verses.[62] The Arabians delight in poetry, and to address the severest tyrant of them all after this manner, with something that is fanciful and pungent, is the surest way in the world either for a man to gain his point, or, if such be the necessity, to save his neck. The young man’s case, however, was not quite so extreme. He had married a fair Arabian purely for love, and out of fondness had spent upon her all his substance, which was consider able. She was charmingly beautiful; and the governor of Cufah cast his wanton eyes upon her, and by force tore her from her husband’s bosom. He, to whom the loss of his property, though it had been all the world, was nothing in comparison with the loss of her, being pierced to the very heart, and ready to die with sorrow and vexation, made his appeal to Moawiyah. Moawiyah resolved to do him justice, and sent an express to the governor commanding to give up the woman. The governor, who had not the worst taste in the world, told the messenger, that if the caliph would be pleased to allow him to retain her one twelvemonth, he would be content to pay for so much happiness by having his head struck off at the end of it. But the caliph rigidly insisted upon her being delivered up, and had her brought before him. He was very much surprised at her beauty, but much more at the politeness and elegance of her expression. He that had received so many embassies, and always conversed with the greatest men of his country, had never in his life heard such a torrent of eloquence as flowed from the mouth of that charming Arabian. The caliph asked her jocosely, which she would have, him, or the governor, or her husband. She answered him in verse; and I forbear to translate her answer, because I have no hopes of coming up to the spirit of it. It was, however, marked with the modesty that became her sex, and the general sense of it was, that though a person in his eminent station might be able to do for her much that was beyond her merit or expectation, yet it could not be put into the balance against everlasting damnation; she therefore begged of him, if he really designed her any favour, to restore her to her own dear husband. This he very generously performed, and moreover presented her with a very rich equipage and plenty of gold, to repair her husband’s shattered circumstances.

He was in fact always munificent. He made a present to Ayesha of a bracelet worth a hundred thousand pieces of gold, which she accepted. He gave Hasan three hundred thousand pieces, and Abdallah, the son of Zobeir, one hundred thousand. He used to bid those that came to see him to take away with them anything they desired. He bestowed a hundred thousand pieces upon Hosein, who distributed them among ten of his acquaintance. A hundred thousand more were granted by him to Abdallah, the son of Faafar, who gave them to his wife at her request. Merwan, the son of Hakem, who was afterwards caliph, received from him a hundred thousand pieces, half of which he divided amongst his friends. At another time he bestowed four millions on Hasan.[63]

The following anecdote is related of Moawiyah by Abulfaragius. It happened that Sapor, who had seized Armenia by force of arms, sent an ambassador named Sergius, to Moawiyah, desiring his assistance against the Grecian emperor, who, at the same time, sent one Andrew, a eunuch, a great favourite. Moawiyah told them, that they were both equally enemies, and that he would assist that side that offered him most.

Moawiyah was the first caliph that introduced the meksourah into the mosque, or that spoke to the people sitting.[64] The meksourah is a place raised above, and separate from the rest of the mosque, where the caliph, who was chief pontiff in religious, as well as sovereign in civil affairs, began and chanted the prayers, which are, as one may say, the public office of the Mussulmans. It was in this place also, that he made the cotbah to the people, which is a sort of homily or preachment. Before his time it used to follow the prayers, but Moawiyah commenced with it, for fear he should forget what he had prepared to say.[65] He was also the first caliph that obliged the people to swear allegiance to his son.[66] The first that laid post horses upon the roads.[67]

An Arabian robber being once condemned to have his hand cut off, Moawiyah pardoned him for the sake of four very ingenious verses that he made and repeated to him on the spot.[68] They remark that this was the first sentence pronounced among the Mussulmans that was not put in execution; the caliphs not having as yet, before this instance of Moawiyah, taken the liberty of showing favour to those whom the ordinary judges had condemned.

Abulfeda relates the following as a remarkable instance of his patience and clemency. Arwah, the daughter of Hareth, the son of Abdal Motaleb, the son of Hashem, came to make him a visit. She was his aunt, a very old woman, and of Ali’s branch of the family. As soon as Moawiyah had saluted her, she began to reproach him, “O nephew,” said she, “you have been very ungrateful, and injurious to your cousin, who was a companion of the apostle; and you called yourself by a name that was none of your own, and took possession of what you had no right to. And our family exceeded all men in sufferings for this religion, till God took his prophet to reward his labours, and to exalt his station; and then you insulted us, and we were amongst you like the children of Israel in the family of Pharaoh; though Ali was to the prophet, as Aaron was to Moses.” Upon this, Amrou, who was then present, had no patience, but took her up, and said, “Hold your tongue, old woman, and do not talk thus like one out of your wits.” “What,” says she, “do you prate to me who am an honest woman, while your mother was known all over Mecca to be of very easy virtue, and as you were most like old Aasi, he was forced to father you? “Moawiyah, however, only said to her, “God forgive what is past: what would you have?” She answered, “Two thousand pieces, to buy an estate for the poor of our family; and two thousand more to marry our poor relations: and two thousand more for myself to secure me in time of extremity.” All which was, by Moawiyah’s command, immediately paid down to her.

This caliph was buried in Damascus, where he had established the seat of the caliphate; and that city always retained this prerogative of dignity so long as the Ommiyades, or defenders of Moawiyah reigned. In the time of the Abbasides it was transferred to Anbar, Haschemyah, and Bagdad. The inscription of Moawiyah’s seal was, “Every work hath its reward,” or as others say, “There is no strength but in God.”[69]

Original footnotes[edit]

  1. From the middle of the seventh to a like period of the eighth century of the Christian era (a space of about ninety-two years) the family of Moawiyah were invested with the regal and sacerdotal office. This dynasty is called the dynasty of the Ommiades, from the caliph Moawiyah or Ommia, the first of the house, the son of Abu Sofian, the successor of Abu Talet, in the principality of Mecca.—Mills.
  2. Moawiyah was called the ‘son of the liver-eater,’ because, after the battle of Ohud (see Life of Mohammed), his mother Hind, finding the body of Hamza, Mohammed’s uncle, amongst the slain, immediately tore out his liver, and eat it in her rage.”—Weil.
  3. MS. Hunt. No. 495.
  4. “The families of Moawiyah, and of Mohammed, were of the same tribe, but, according to the principles of legitimacy, the throne belonged to the descendants of Fatima, and even the children of Albas, the uncle of the prophet, had a claim prior to that of Moawiyah.” —Mills.
  5. Yaumal phethi, “The day of victory.
  6. Ebn Al Athir.
  7. MS. Hunt. No. 495.
  8. An. Hej. 43, cœpit April 14, a.d. 663.
  9. When Amrou perceived death approaching, he wept like a child, which caused his son to ask him if he feared its approach. “No,” he replied, “but I dread that which follows it!” When the young man endeavoured to cheer him by reminding him of his victories in the cause of Islamism, he said, “My life has been divided into three periods. Had I died within the first two, then I should have known what the world would have said of me. When Mohammed began to preach his mission, I was his bitterest foe, and wished for nothing better than his death. Had I died then, people would have exclaimed, ‘Amrou has left this world an unbeliever, an enemy to God and his ambassador; and he will belong to the inhabitants of hell.’ But after that God filled my heart with faith, and I repaired to Mahommed, and held out my hand towards him and said, ‘I yield reverence to thee if thou wilt ensure me forgiveness for all my past sins,’ for I believed at that time that I should sin no more as a Mussulman. The ambassador of God replied, ‘Amrou! Islamism brings forgiveness for all past transgressions.’ If I had died then, people would have said, ‘Amrou has become one of the faithful, and has fought with the apostle of the Lord; we hope he will find happiness with God.’ Then I was made governor, and this was the time of temptation which I dreaded. Oh! Allah, I cannot justify myself before thee, but only beseech thee for thy grace; for I have not done that which thou hast commanded me to do, but have done that which thou hast forbidden. There is no other God but thee! “These last words were then repeated by Amrou till his breath failed him and he expired.—Weil.
  10. “Amrou was one of Mohammed’s earliest proselytes. In the battles of the prophet, and in every war of Abubeker and Omar, he exhibited the various qualifications of a commander and a soldier. His satirical verses in early youth display vivacity of talent; and his observation in riper years has been justly preserved among the sayings of the wise. ‘Show me,’ demanded Omar, ‘the sword with which you have fought so many battles, and slain so many thousands of infidels.’ Amrou unsheathed his scimitar, and to the caliph’s ejaculation of surprise and contempt at its common appearance, made reply, ‘Alas! the sword itself; without the arm of its waster is neither sharper, nor more weighty, than the sword of Farezdak the poet.’ [Farezdak was a poet famous for his fine description of a sword, but not equally renowned for his personal prowess.]” —Mills.
  11. An. Hej. 44, cœpit Apr. 3, a.d. 664.
  12. Abulfeda.
  13. An. Hej. 45, cœpit Mart. 23, a.d. 664.
  14. MS. Hunt.
  15. Ms. Hunt. No. 495.
  16. Surat’ alamphal. “The chapter of spoils,” which is the eighth.
  17. MS. Hunt. No. 495.
  18. Altabari. Moawiyah I. An. Heg. 46, cœpit Mart. 13. a.d. 666.
  19. Abulfeda.
  20. Or dusty, for it is common with the Arabians to use the word “father” in such cases.
  21. Ebu Al Athir. M.S. Hunt.
  22. MS. Hunt, No. 495. Albokkari.
  23. D’Herbelot.
  24. An Hej. 50, cœpit Jan. 28, a.d. 670.
  25. Abulfeda. Golius in Alfergak. p.162. Ebn Al Athir.
  26. “This general crossed the wilderness, in which were afterwards erected the magnificent cities of Fez and Morocco, and arrived at the Atlantic Ocean, at the mouth of the Susa. He spurred his horse into the waves, and raising his eyes to heaven, exclaimed, “Great God! if my course were not stopped by this sea, I would still go on, to the unknown kingdoms of the west, preaching the unity of thy holy name, and putting to the sword the rebellious nations who worship any other gods but thee.” —Mills.
  27. Abulfeda.
  28. An. 51, 52.
  29. Ebn Al Athir. Altabari. It must be in the year 54, for then there was an eclipse of the sun.
  30. An. Hej. 53, cœpit Dec. 26, a.d. 672.
  31. MS. Hunt. No. 495.
  32. Ebn Al Athir.
  33. Arab. Waonaso Yuminuna.
  34. There is nothing more common among the Arabians than to nick-name children from the imperfections of their parents, as to call such an one the son of the lame, or the son of the blind.
  35. D’Herbelot.
  36. Ebn Al Athir. MS. No. 495.
  37. D’Herbelot of Khondemir.
  38. Yaumo’l Jom-ah, i. e. Friday.
  39. It is a precept frequently repeated in the Koran.
  40. Khondemir. See D’Herbelot in the word Ziad.
  41. My author says Abdallah the son of Ammar.
  42. Ebn Al Athir. Ms. Hunt. No. 495.
  43. An. Hej. 55, cœpit Dec. 5, a.d. 674.
  44. MS. Hunt. Num. 494.
  45. An Hej. 56, cœpit Nov. 24, a.d. 675.
  46. Abulfeda.
  47. MS. Hunt.
  48. There is a tradition that Ayesha was murdered by the direction of Moawiyah, and the following particulars are recorded:—Ayesha having resolutely and insultingly refused to engage her allegiance to Yezid, Moawiyah invited her to an entertainment, where he had prepared a very deep well or pit in that part of the chamber reserved for her reception, and had the mouth of it deceptively covered over with leaves and straw. A chair was then placed upon the fatal spot, and Ayesha, on being conducted to her seat, instantly sank into eternal night, and the mouth of the pit was immediately covered with stones and mortar.—See Price.
  49. MS. Hunt. No. 495.
  50. An. Hej. 58, cœpit Nov. 2, a.d. 677. Abulfeda.
  51. Becr, in Arabic, signifies “a girl,” and Abu, “father.”
  52. An. Hej 59, cœpit Oct. 22, a.d. 678.
  53. Anno 60.
  54. MS. No. 495.
  55. Several sayings of this celebrated chief are recorded in the Biographical Dictionary of Ebn Khallikan, translated by Baron De Slane. We extract the following:— “At the battle of Seffein (see reign of Ali), Al Ahnaf had fought on the side of Ali, and when Moawiyah was solidly established on the throne, he came one day to his presence. ‘By Allah,’ said the caliph, ‘never till the day of judgment shall I call to mind the battle of Seffein, without feeling my heart glow with anger.’ ‘By Allah,’ replied Al Ahnaf, ‘we have still in our bosoms those hearts which detested you, and we still bear in our scabbards those swords with which we fought you; if you advance an inch towards war, we shall advance a foot; and if you walk to give us battle, we shall run to meet you!’ He then rose up and withdrew. A sister of Moawiyah, who had heard the conversation from behind the tapestry, then asked him who was the person who had used such threatening language, and Moawiyah answered:—‘That is the man, who, if angered, has 100,000 of the tribe of Tamin to share his anger, without asking him the reason of it?’ “One of Al Ahnaf’s sayings was this:—‘I have followed three lines of conduct: I never interfered between two parties unless invited by them to do so; I never went to the door of princes unless sent for by them; and I never rose from my place to obtain a thing which all men were anxious to possess.’ Another time he said, ‘Excess in laughter, drives away respect; excess in jesting drives away politeness; and the man is known by the company he keeps.’ Again, he said, ‘In our assemblies avoid the mention of women or of food; I detest the man who is always speaking of his belly or his pleasures.’ “Al Ahnaf had a weak and indolent son called Bahr. The latter was once asked why he did not take example from his father. He replied, ‘from laziness.’ With him died all Al Ahnaf’s posterity.”
  56. Ebn Al Athir.
  57. MS. Hunt. No. 495.
  58. Abulfeda.
  59. The reader will easily perceive that this manner of expression is not English but Arabic, as he may observe in abundance of passages throughout the whole book.
  60. “Moawiyah was so voracious, that his greediness was proverbial, and in old age he became inordinately fat.” —See Freytag’s Proverbia Meidanii. “Abu Abdarrhaman, the chief traditionist of his age, and author of a Sunan, advocated the rights of Ali, and was one day asked what traditions he knew of Moawiyah. Abdarrhaman replied, ‘I know of none to his special merit, save this, May God never satiate thy belly.’ This circumstance took place at Damascus, and the sarcasm is said to have been so bitter, that the people struck him on all sides, and his death was occasioned by the injuries he then received.” —Ebn Khallikan’s Biog. Dict. transl. by Baron de Slane.
  61. MS. Hunt. No. 495.
  62. Moawiyah was a great patron of letters, Sismondi says he was more favourably disposed towards them than even Ali. The same writer adds, “He assembled at his court all who were most distinguished by scientific acquirements; he surrounded himself with poets; and as he had subjected to his dominion many of the Grecian isles and provinces, the sciences of Greece first began, under him, to obtain an influence over the Arabians.”
  63. “Strict Mussulmans were not a little offended at the richness of Moawiyah’s dress; for till his time the caliphs had worn only woollen garments. But as soon as he became governor of Syria, be began to make use of silk, and ever afterwards was clothed in rich and costly array. He also lived in a very splendid manner, and made no scruple of constantly drinking wine, contrary to the usage of his predecessors, who had always looked upon that liquor to be totally prohibited.” —Marigny.
  64. Abulfeda. D’Herbelot.
  65. Abulfaragius.
  66. Abulfeda.
  67. “Moawiyah was also the first caliph who allowed Mussulmans to embark in ships, and who sent maritime expeditions against the enemies of his empire. Previous to his reign no Arab had been permitted to go on board a vessel: the cause of the prohibition was as follows. When Egypt was conquered by Amrou Ebn Aas, in the reign of Omar, that caliph wrote to his lieutenant for a description of the sea. Amrou replied: ‘The sea is a great pool which some inconsiderate people furrow, looking like worms on logs of wood.’ On the receipt of this answer, Omar forbade all navigation amongst the Mussulmans, and from that time until the reign of Moawiyah all transgressors were severely punished. The real cause of this prohibition was, that when the Arabs began their conquests they were entirely unaccustomed to that element; while, on the contrary, the Romans and the Franks, through their almost continual practice, and their education in the midst of the waves, were enabled to navigate the seas, and, by dint of experience and successful enterprize, to become almost congenial to that element.” —Don Pascual de Gayangos.
  68. D’Herbelot from Rabialakyar.
  69. It was during the reign of Moawiyah that some of the principal incidents connected with the Paradise of Sheddad the son of Ad, are said to have taken place. This Paradise, though invisible, is still supposed to be standing in the deserts of Aden, and sometimes, though very rarely, God permits it to be seen. Lane in his notes to the Arabian Nights relates the following story:— “Abdallah the son of Aboo Kilabeh, proceeding one day over the deserts of El Yemen in search of a runaway camel, chanced to arrive at a vast city encompassed by enormous fortifications, around the circuit of which were pavilions rearing their heads into the clouds. As he approached it, he imagined that there must be inhabitants within it; but he found it desolate and in utter solitude. “‘I alighted from my camel,’ says he, ‘and entered the city. I found the fortifications had two enormous gates, the like of which I had never seen for size and height, and these were set with a variety of jewels and jacinths, white, red, yellow, and green. In a state of terror, and with a wandering mind, I entered the fortifications, and found them to be as extensive as the city; they comprised elevated pavilions, every one of which contained lofty chambers, constructed of gold and silver, and adorned with rubies, chrysolites, pearls, and various coloured jewels. The folding-doors of these pavilions were as beautiful as the gates of the fortifications, and the floors were overlaid with large pearls and with balls like hazel-nuts, composed of musk and ambergris, and saffron. And I came into the midst of the city, but I saw not a single created being of the sons of Adam; and I almost died of terror. I then looked down from the summits of the lofty chambers and pavilions, and saw rivers running beneath them; and in the great thorough-fare streets of the city were fruit-bearing trees, and tall palm-trees; and the construction of the city was of alternate bricks of gold and silver: so I said within myself, ‘No doubt this is the Paradise promised in the world to come.’ “‘I carried away of the jewels, which were as its gravel, and of the musk which was as its dust, as much as I could bear, and returned to my district, and acquainted my people with the occurrence. And when the news reached Moawiyah, he wrote to his lieutenant, and I was summoned to his presence. And I informed the caliph of what I had seen, and showed him the pearls, and the balls of ambergris, musk, and saffron; and the latter retained somewhat of their sweet scent, but the pearls were yellow and discoloured. “‘At the sight of these Moawiyah wondered, and sent for Kaab-el-Ahbar,* who, on hearing the story, said that the city was Irem-el-Emad, and accordingly related the following: “‘Ad the Greater had two sons, Shedeed and Sheddad, and on the death of their father they reigned conjointly over the whole earth. At length Shedeed died, and his brother Sheddad ruled after him. Sheddad was fond of reading the ancient books, and when he met with descriptions of Paradise and of the world to come, his heart enticed him to build its like upon the earth. He had under his authority 100,000 kings, each of whom commanded 100,000 chieftains, and each of these were at the head of 100,000 soldiers. And he summoned them all before him, and said, ‘I desire to make a Paradise upon earth. Depart ye therefore to the most pleasant and most spacious vacant tract in the earth, and build for me in it a city of gold and silver; for its gravel spread chrysolites, rubies, and pearls; and make columns of chrysolite as supports for the vaulted roofs. Fill the city with pavilions, and over the pavilions construct lofty chambers, and beneath them plant, in the by-streets and great throughfare-streets, varieties of trees bearing different kinds of ripe fruits, and make rivers to run beneath them in channels of gold and silver.’ To this they all replied, ‘How can we accomplish that which you have described?’ But he said, ‘Know ye not that all the kings of the earth are under my authority? Depart to the mines and the pearl provinces: gather their contents and take ye from the hands of men such things as ye find: spare no exertions and beware of disobedience!’ “‘Sheddad then wrote to each of the kings of the earth, commanding them to collect all the above-mentioned riches that their subjects possessed, and to gather them from the mines; and all this was done in the space of twenty years. Then he sent forth geometricians, sages, labourers, and artificers from all countries and regions; and they dispersed themselves until they came to a desert, wherein was a vast open plain, clear from hills and mountains; in the plain were springs flowing and rivers gushing, and here they busied themselves in building the city according to his commands. Then the kings of the earth sent thither their gold and jewels and riches upon camels and in great ships, beyond all description and calculation: and the workmen laboured at the city for three hundred years. When it was completed, king Sheddad desired them to build around it impregnable fortifications, and to construct around the circuit of the fortifications a thousand pavilions, each with a thousand pillars beneath it, in order that each pavilion might hold a vizier. This also was accomplished in twenty years. “‘Then Sheddad ordered his thousand viziers, and his chief officers and principal troops to prepare themselves for departing to Irem-el-Emad; he also ordered those whom he chose from his women, his harem, his female slaves, and his eunuchs, to fit themselves out: and they passed twenty years in equipping themselves. Then Sheddad proceeded with his troops, his women, and his slaves till he came within one day’s journey of Irem-el-Eamad, when God sent down upon him and the obstinate infidels who accompanied him, a loud cry from the heaven of his power, and it destroyed them all by the vehemence of its sound. Neither Sheddad nor any that were with him arrived at the city, and God obliterated all traces of the road; and there that city remaineth until the day of judgment.’ “At this narrative related by Kaab, Moawiyah wondered and asked if any one of mankind could arrive at that city. To which Kaab replied that one of the companions of the prophet,’ like Abdallah, could do so, without doubt.” Esh Shaabe relates that when Sheddad was destroyed, his son Sheddad the Less reigned after him; and soon as the latter heard of his father’s death, he ordered the body to be carried to Hadramaut, where a sepulchre was excavated for him in a cavern. The corpse was then covered with seventy robes, interwoven with gold and adorned with precious jewels, and placed upon a couch in the cavern. The history of Zobeide in the Arabian Nights is evidently founded upon this tradition, and it will be immediately recognized by all readers of Southey’s poem of “Thalaba.”
    The Addites are a race of ancient Arabs: the smallest of their tribe is said to have been 60 cubits high, and the largest 100 cubits!
    * A famous traditionist of the tribe of Hemyer, who embraced Islamism in the reign of Omar, and died in the year of the Hej. 32, during the reign of Othman; the anecdote therefore presents an anachronism.