views updated May 08 2018


UMAYYADS , dynasty (660–750) under which the Arabs established their empire, extending from Central Asia and the Indian border to the Atlantic Ocean. The religious ties which had unified Muslims under the first four Orthodox caliphs ("al-Rāshidūn") were weakened under ʿUthmān. Muʿāwiya, the first Umayyad caliph (661–680), transformed the community of the faithful into a secular Arab state in which religion took second place. For the first time, leadership was in the hands of a person who had not been one of the Prophet's eminent associates. Muʿāwiya was proclaimed caliph in *Jerusalem in 660, but was not finally recognized as such until 661 – after ʿAlī had been assassinated and his son Ḥasan had abdicated. Muʿāwiya organized the empire on the Persian and Byzantine model, introduced the barīd (postal horse) service, the official service of Post and Intelligence, and was the first to create an Arab fleet.

The capital of the Umayyad caliphate was *Damascus, and *Syria and Ereẓ Israel were the center of the Muslim world. Muʿāwiya built a wooden mosque on the Temple Mount (mentioned in an apocalyptic Midrash; Wertheimer, Battei Midrashot (1894), 30 and by the Christian pilgrim Arculfus: J. Wilkinson, Jerusalem Pilgrims before the Crusades (1977), 9–10). He and his successors confiscated land from the Jews of Ereẓ Israel and distributed it among the new Arab settlers, causing great disappointment to the Jews among whom the Arab conquest of Ereẓ Israel had caused messianic stirrings (see: pdre, ch. 30 and Nistarot de-Rabbi Shimon bar Yoḥai), and it seems that they settled some of those Jews in *Tripoli, Lebanon. Muʿāwiya established the principle of heredity for the caliphate and four years before his death appointed his son Yazīd as his successor. The majority of the tribal chiefs supported the appointment. After his death, opposition to Umayyad rule resulted in civil war, the main centers of the unrest being in *Persia, *Iraq, and the *Ḥejāz. Abdullah ibn Zubayr proclaimed himself caliph in Mecca, having gained the support of the Muslim aristocracy; the Umayyad caliphs Yazīd i (680–3), his son Muʿāwiya ii (683–4), and ʿAbd al-Malik ibn Marwān (685–705) warred against him. Ḥusayn, the grandson of Muhammad, revolted and was killed in Karbalā', Irak (680). ʿAbd al-Malik built the Dome of the Rock (691–2), the costs being covered by the tax revenue which he received from *Egypt for a period of seven years. *Goldziher assumes that the purpose of the grandiose structure was to divert the pilgrims from Mecca to Jerusalem, but *Goitein is of the opinion that the aim was to compete with the Holy Sepulcher. A. Elʿad, according to older traditions than those used by both researchers, thinks that Goldziher was right ("Al-Ḥaram al-sharīf: ʿAbd al-Malik's Jerusalem," in: Oxford Studies in Islamic Arts, 9:33–58) and that ʿAbd al-Malik or his son al-Walīd (705–715) built the Al-Aqṣā Mosque.

Al-Wasiṭī (Jerusalem, 1019), the author of the oldest remaining book of Faḍā'il al-Bayt al-Muqaddas ("The Praises of Jerusalem"; I. Hasson ed. 1979, 43–44) reports that a group of Jewish attendants were in charge of cleanliness in the mosque and on the Temple Mount and responsible for the maintenance of the lighting, for which service they were reimbursed by exemption from the poll tax. This monopoly was inherited by their descendants until it was abolished by Omar ii. The Umayyad caliphs employed both Jews and Christians, some of whom attained high posts in the government hierarchy. Under ʿAbd al-Malik a Jew was in charge of the mint. In spite of the existing prohibition on the building of new churches, some were in fact built. In general Umayyad caliphs exercised tolerance in religious matters, the exception being Omar ibn ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (the Second; 717–20), a religious fanatic who was the first to apply the restrictions of the Covenant of *Omar to the religious minorities. It was presumably Omar ii who excluded the Jews from the Temple Mount and restricted them to prayers at only one gate (*Salmon b. Jeroham in his commentary on Psalms 30:10; see Dinur in bibl.).

During the rule of the Umayyads, Ereẓ Israel was the scene of construction and development projects. Sulaiman ibn ʿAbd al-Malik (715–7) built *Ramleh, which became a district capital in Jund Falastin. Walīd ii (743), the son of Yazīd ii, embarked on a project of diverting the Jordan for irrigation purposes, but the project came to an abrupt end when a landslide caused the death of some of the workers; Walīd was then assassinated by his opponents. This event is described in Midrash Nistarot de-Rabbi Shimon bar Yoḥai: "Another king will arise and will seek to separate the waters of the Jordan, and he will bring laborers from distant lands to dig a canal to raise the water level and irrigate the land; and the land they dig up will collapse upon them and kill them, and when their princes learn of this event they will rise against the king and assassinate him" (J. Even Shemuel, Midreshei Ge'ullah (19542), 193). This report was confirmed by the Arab chronicler al-Ṭabarī.

Toward its end, the Umayyad regime was plagued by natural catastrophes and internal strife. Between 746 and 749 a number of earthquakes occurred in Ereẓ Israel. The most severe took place in 748 and caused a heavy loss of life and the collapse of a part of the Dome of the Rock. Against a background of inter-Muslim sectarian strife, Shiʿite opposition to the ruling house, and wars against the Byzantine Empire, which raised messianic hopes among the Jews of a Muslim victory over the Christians, Jewish sects came into being in the East in the beginning of the eighth century. Some of these sects advocated revolt against the established order, hoping to bring about redemption by force. One of these sects was headed by Serenus (or *Severus) of Syria, who was active at the time of Yazīd (720–4); reports of his appearance even reached Spain. The climax of anti-Umayyad stirrings in Persia came in the 740s, when an insurrection headed by Abdullah ibn Muʿāwiya was successful in establishing a short-lived independent kingdom. This was the background for the rise of the Jewish pseudo-messiah Abū ʿIssa (or Obadiah) from *Isfahan, who lived during the rule of Marwān ii (744–50), the last Umayyad caliph. The internal strife in various parts of the empire was among the major causes for the collapse of the Umayyad dynasty and paved the way for the rise of the *Abbasids.

[Eliezer Bashan]

Umayyad Caliphs in Syria

Muʿāwiyah ibn Abī Sufyān, 661–680

Yazīd ibn Muʿāwiyah, 680–683

Muʿāwiya ii ibn Yazīd, 683–684

Marwān ibn al-Ḥakam, 684–685

ʿAbd al-Malik ibn Marwān, 685–705

al-Walīd ibn ʿAbd al-Malik, 705–715

Sulaymān ibn ʿAbd al-Malik, 715–717

ʿUmar ibn ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz, 717–720

Yazīd ii ibn ʿAbd al-Malik, 720–724

Hishām ibn ʿAbd al-Malik, 724–743

al-Walīd ii ibn Yazīd ii, 743–744

Yazīd iii ibn al-Walīd, 744

Ibrāhīm ibn al-Walīd, 744

Marwān ii ibn Muḥammad, 744–750

In Spain

The Umayyad dynasty began its rule in Spain in 756. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān i (reigned 756–88), a survivor of the slaughter of the Umayyad dynasty in Damascus by the newly proclaimed Abbasid caliphate, and grandson of the 10th Umayyad caliph Hishām, made *Cordoba the capital of his emirate. The Jews under his jurisdiction enjoyed the same rights and status as they had previously under the former Muslim rulers. Both they and the Christians had to pay the special poll tax (*jizyah) of 12, 24, or 48 dirhems each year, according to income. The activity of the Umayyad dynasty at first was the consolidation of the conquest of Spain and the conciliation of a hostile Christian population, a task which continued well into the mid-9th century. The Jewish minority, which had welcomed the Muslim takeover, did not suffer from the Muslim attacks on rebellious Christians, particularly prevalent in Cordoba. The first cultural flowering came under 'Abd al-Raḥmān ii (822–852) through the patronage of literature and science and the refinement of customs and traditions: Al-Andalus became the center of western Islam. There is little information on the Jews under early Umayyad rulers in the 8th and 9th centuries, except that the population increased rapidly as Umayyad tolerance encouraged Jewish immigration to Spain. Under Umayyad rule, the Jews attained wealth, developed their culture, and even acquired influential positions at the center of power. *Ḥisdai ibn Shaprut was physician and adviser to ʿAbd al-Raḥmān iii (912–61), who proclaimed himself caliph in 929. The latter's reign marks the height of Umayyad military, economic, and cultural supremacy, and the caliph was considered the most tolerant toward minorities of all the Umayyads. Ḥisdai, head of the Jewish community, was in charge of trade and commerce and foreign affairs, traveling to the generally hostile northern Christian provinces of Spain on diplomatic missions. Cordoba was then the center of Muslim civilization in the West and an important seat of Jewish culture. Other prominent Jewish communities included *Tarragona, *Granada, and *Lucena. Under ʿAbd al-Raḥmān's successors, al-Ḥakam ii (961–76), Hishām ii (976–1013), and al-*Manṣūr (Hishām's chamberlain who in effect managed affairs of state from 996 to 1002), the Jewish community in the caliphate rose to great wealth and cultural prominence. Just as the western caliphate had declared its independence of Abbasid Baghdad, Spanish Jewry began to assert its independence of the Babylonian academies and the *geonim. The 12th-century historian Abraham *Ibn Daud describes the relations between the Jewish community of Cordoba and the caliph (Ibn Daud, Tradition, 63–71). Apparently the Umayyad ruler intervened in the appointment of the head of the Jewish community (*nasi) and the head of the academy, as exemplified in the case of the conflict between R. *Ḥanokh b. Moses and R. Joseph *Ibn Abitur in the late tenth century. At first, al-Ḥakam acknowledged the leadership of R. Ḥanokh. During Hishām's reign, al-Manṣūr appointed a supporter of Ibn Abitur, Jacob *Ibn Jau, a wealthy silk merchant who supplied the royal house with his costly wares, nasi of all Jewish communities in his domain. Ibn Jau, however, did not collect enough tribute from his people to suit al-Manṣūr, and was imprisoned. He was released by Hishām. The wealth of the Cordoba community and especially of Ibn Jau is attested to by Ibn Daud. The intellectual exchange and high cultural level of the Umayyad house may be ascertained from the statement that Ibn Abitur "interpreted the whole of the Talmud in Arabic for the Muslim king al-Ḥakam." The *Berber invasion and sack of Cordoba (1010–13) resulted in the decline of the Umayyad dynasty in Spain. Cordoba never regained its supremacy as a Muslim and Jewish cultural center; many Jews fled to Granada, Malaga, Lucena, and other cities. The constant internecine strife between the Muslim principalities contributed to a longing for the stability and peace of the Umayyad reign which had endured for nearly 250 years. The dynasty ended with the demise of the weak Hishām iii in 1031.

Umayyad Emirs of Spain

ʿAbd ar-Raḥmān ibn Muʿāwiya, 756–788

Hishām ibn ʿAbd ar-Raḥmān, 788–796

al-Ḥakam ibn Hishām, 796–822

ʿAbd ar-Raḥmān ii ibn al-Ḥakam, 822–852

Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al-Raḥmān, 852–886

al-Mundhir ibn Muḥammad, 886–888

ʿAbdallāh ibn Muḥammad, 888–912

ʿAbd ar-Raḥmān iii ibn Muḥammad ibn ʿAbdallāh, 912–929

Umayyad Caliphs of Spain

ʿAbd ar-Raḥmān iii al-Naṣir, as caliph, 929–961

Al-Ḥakam ii ibn ʿAbd ar-Raḥmān, 961–976

Hishām ii ibn al-Ḥakam, 976–1009

Muḥammad ii ibn Hishām, 1009–1009

Sulaymān ibn al-Ḥakam, 1009–1010

Hishām ii, restored, 1010–1012

Sulaymān, restored, 1012–1017

ʿAbd al-Raḥmān iv ibn Muḥammad, al-Murtaḍā 1018–1023

ʿAbd al-Raḥmān v ibn Hishām, 1023–1024

Muḥammad iii ibn ʿAbd al-Raḥmān, al-Mustakfī, 1024–1025

Hishām iii ibn Muḥammad, 1027–1031

[Isaac Hasson (2nd ed.)]


I. Goldziher, Muslim Studies, 2 (1971), 35–37; A.F. von Kremer, The Orient under the Caliphs (1920), 133–218; T.W. Arnold, The Caliphate (1924), 7–22, 57–58; J. Wellhausen, The Arab Kingdom and its Fall (1927); G.E. Von Grunebaum, Classical Islam. A History 6001258 (1970), 64–79; M. Zulay, in: ymḤsi, 3 (1936), 153–83; M. Margaliot, in: bjpes, 8 (1941), 97–104; idem, in: Tarbiz, 29 (1960), 339–44; H.Z. Hirschberg, in: bjpes, 13 (1947), 156–64; idem, in: Yerushalayim le-Dorotehah (1968), 109–19; B. Lewis, in bsoas (1950); S.D. Goitein, in: jaos, 70 (1950), 104–8; idem, in: Yerushalayim, 4 (1953), 82–103; J. Braslavsky, Le-Ḥeker Arẓenu (1954), 53–61; Dinur, Golah, 1 (19602), 41–53; D. Iron, in: Perakim be-Toledot ha-Aravim ve-ha-Islam, ed. by Ḥ. Lazarus Yafeh (19682), 128–55; P.M. Holt et al. (eds.), The Cambridge History of Islam, 1 (1970), 57–103; A.A. Dixon, The Umayyad Caliphate (1970); P. Crone, Slaves on Horses. The Evolution of the Islamic Polity (1980), 29–57; P. Crone and M. Hinds, God's Caliph (1986); G.R. Hawting, The First Dynasty of Islam (1986); Kh.Y. Blankinship, The end of the Jihad State: The reign of Hisham b. ʿAbd al-Malik, (1994); Ch. Robinson, ʿAbd al-Malik (2005); in spain: Ashtor, Korot, 1 (19662); E. Levi-Provençal, Histoire de l'Espagne Musulmane, 1–2 (1950); P. Hitti, History of the Arabs (1960), 493–536; Baron, Social, index. add. bibliography: W. Montgomery Watt, A History of Islamic Spain (1965), 5–94; J.Y. O'Callaghan, A History of Medieval Spain (1075), 89–162; R. Fletcher, Moorish Spain (1993); M. Fierro, ʿAbd al-Raḥmān (2005)


views updated May 29 2018


Caliphs of the aristocratic Meccan clan of Banū Umayya, who came to power in Syria in 661 a.d., and began the first Islamic dynasty. Because they were unpopular with the pietist element among Muslims, they were destroyed in a general revolution in 750 (see abbĀsids), but a prince of their house established himself in Spain, where they ruled until 1031a.d..

Rise. The Banū Umayya were the leaders of the pagan oligarchy at mecca that had opposed the prophet Muammad. One of them however, 'Uthmān ibn Affān, was a prominent early convert to Islam. (see ali.) After Muammad's triumph and the foundation of the Arab empire, 'Uthmān was elected caliph (644656) and gave many of his kinsmen high places.

After 'Uthmān's assassination, his cousin Muāwiya ibn Abī Sufyān, the governor of Syria, asserted the right to vengeance and so adroitly directed his struggle against Alī that he emerged as caliph in 661. Alī's caliphate, important as it was, can thus be regarded as an interlude in events that made the Banū Umayya, former enemies of Muammad, his successors.

The base of Umayyad power was the formerly Byzantine Syria, where Muāwiya had the loyalty of the half-Christianized Syrian Arabs and the good will of the Syrian Christians, and where he had laid the foundations of Arab sea power in repeated campaigns against the Christian Byzantine Empire. An astute statesman and diplomat, more interested in governing than in religion, he drew heavily on the skills of the Syrian Christians in administering his realm. Iraq, Alī's former base, remained a seat of opposition. Muāwiya initiated the family policy of leaving the eastern provinces to be governed by determined, semiautonomous henchmen whose methods were not questioned so long as they kept order. Eventually this policy alienated Iraq and Iran from the dynasty.

Muāwiya's arrangements were crowned with the recognition of the right of his son to succeed him. This heir, the execrated Yazīd I (680683), was unlucky enough to be responsible for the death of Husayn ibn Alī, the Prophet's surviving grandson. Husayn had tried to raise a rebellion in Iraq at Muāwiya's death and was killed in deplorable circumstances at Kerbela in 680 by the viceroy of Iraq. His "martyrdom" furnished the occasion for the emergence of the shĪites, and was a rallying point for all who distrusted the "irreligious" Umayyads. After Yazīd's premature death in 683, followed soon by that of his minor son, the Syrian tribes elected their aged cousin Marwān (684685), the unpopular former secretary of 'Uthmān. His reign was spent in struggle with an anticaliph at medina, son of the Prophet's companion Zubayr, who had once supported and then opposed Alī. Marwān's son Abd al-Malik (685705) introduced a policy more Arab and Islamic, in conformity with Muslim public opinion, and discriminated against native Christians, who nevertheless remained influential. The eminent Doctor of the Greek Church, St. john of damascus, was reared at the Umayyad court and followed his family's tradition by acting as a high financial official perhaps as late as 726, before retiring to the Monastery of St. Sabas in Palestine.

Under Walīd ibn Abd al-Malik (705715), the empire reached its greatest expansion; eastern Iran and Transoxania, Visigothic Spain and the lower valley of the Indus were conquered by Muslim armies, and the cities of the empire enriched with splendid sanctuaries worthy of an imperial destiny, in contrast to the rusticity of early Islam. Under his brother Sulaymān (715717), a major attempt to take Constantinople failed.

Decline in the East. At first "Arab" and "Muslim" were synonymous. Converts were accepted often grudgingly, had an inferior status, and were expected to continue paying the tribute. The anti-Umayyad Shīites and Kharijites took up the cause of the new Muslims, and despite the objections of the Arab military class, orthodox pietists also insisted that Muslims of whatever origin must all receive equal treatment.

With the Umayyad 'Umar II, son of Abd al-Azīz ibn Marwān, a man of pietist persuasion came to the throne (717720). For expensive military expansion he substituted remission of the tribute for all converts, resulting in mass conversions, particularly in North Africa and the East. With his death, however, the old policies were resumed, and the now considerable convert element joined in opposition to the dynasty. Moreover, the caliphs had unwisely begun to take sides in the persistent feuds of the Arab tribal factions. The Arab character of the dynasty was always marked: they preferred the carefree life of desert residences to their capital of Damascus.

The fiscal policies of Hishām (724743) brought local uprisings, and the profligacy of his nephew, Walīd II (743744), pushed the dynasty into the abyss. A revolt of the Syrian Arabs cost Walīd his life; religious and tribal revolts broke out on every hand as a reflection of the family failure to adjust the simple patriarchal and tribal system they had inherited, either to the needs of the vast and cosmopolitan society growing up under them, or to islam as a religion. Islam made universal claims and had gained in subtlety of expression through contacts with other creeds. It appeared briefly that a relative, the governor of Armenia, Marwān II (744750), would restore order; but when he had exhausted himself in victories, a new general revolt engineered by the Abbāsids for "a leader of the Prophet's family" destroyed his power and his life, and a general extermination of the Umayyads followed.

Umayyads in Spain. A grandson of Hishām, Abd al-Ramān, managed to escape to the distant disorderly province of spain, where he obtained military support and founded a flourishing kingdom. Under the Umayyads of Córdoba, Muslim Spain became the seat of a brilliant civilization, so that in 929 these princes were emboldened to fulfill their old dream of reclaiming the imperial title of the caliphate. This second caliphate collapsed in 1031 from internal weakness and civil wars.

Bibliography: j. wellhausen, The Arab Kingdom and Its Fall, tr. m. g. weir (Calcutta 1927). p. k. hitti, History of the Arabs (6th ed. New York 1956). b. lewis, The Arabs in History (New York 1950). e. lÉvi-provenÇal, Encyclopedia of Islam, ed. m. t. houtsma et al. (Leiden 191338) 4:105266. r. altamira, Cambridge Medieval History (London-New York 191136) 3, ch. 16.

[j. a. williams/eds.]


views updated May 23 2018

Umayyads (Arab., al-dawlah al-Umawiyyah). The first hereditary dynasty of caliphs (khalīfa) in Sunni Islam. The founder of the dynasty was Muʿāwiyya, the son of Abu Sufyān, of the Umayyah (hence the name) clan of the Quraysh of Mecca. Under the Umayyads, the Muslim Empire increased at a rapid rate, stretching by 732 from the Atlantic and the borders between Spain and France in the West, to the borders of China and India in the East—in that year Charles Martel halted the Arab advance at Poitiers and Tours. In Spain, the foundations were laid for a great flourishing of trade, crafts, architecture, and learning—the final expulsion of the Muslims did not take place until the 17th cent. But elsewhere the Umayyads ruled more severely and autocratically. The last Umayyad caliph, Marwan II, ‘the wild ass of Mesopotamia’, was beheaded in Egypt in 750 (AH 132). The ʿAbbāsids succeeded, although an Umayyad dynasty continued in Spain, known as the Western Caliphate.


views updated Jun 11 2018

Umayyads (Omayyads) Dynasty of Arabian Muslim caliphs (661–750). From their capital at Damascus, the Umayyads ruled a basically Arab empire, which stretched from Spain to India. They made little effort to convert conquered peoples to Islam, but there was great cultural exchange, and Arabic became established as the language of Islam. They were overthrown by the Abbasids.