Umayyad

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Related to Banu Umayya: Umayyad dynasty

Umayyad

(o͞omä`yäd), the first Islamic dynasty (661–750). Their reign witnessed the return to leadership roles of the pre-Islamic Arab elite, and the rejuvenation of tribal loyalties. The Banu Ummaya constituted the higher stratum of the pre-Islamic Meccan elite. Having entered into an agreement with Muhammad in 630, they succeeded in preserving their economic influence, and gradually reintegrated into the political power structure. The assassination of UthmanUthman
or Othman
, c.574–656, 3d caliph (644–56), also known as Uthman ibn al-Affan; son-in-law of Muhammad. He belonged to the great Umayyad family and was selected as caliph after the murder of Umar.
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, the third caliph, and a member of the Ummaya, presented the dynamic Ummayad figure of MuawiyaMuawiya
, d. 680, 1st Umayyad caliph (661–80), one of the greatest Muslim statesmen; son of Abu Sufyan, a Koreish tribesman of Mecca. He submitted to Islam the year of the surrender of Mecca and became Muhammad's secretary.
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 the opportunity to challenge the otherwise troubled rulership of AliAli
(Ali ibn Abu Talib), 598?–661, 4th caliph (656–61). The debate over his right to the caliphate caused a major split in Islam into Sunni and Shiite branches, and he is regarded by the Shiites as the first Imam, or leader: Shiite derives from the phrase
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. With the death of Ali, Muawiya succeeded in establishing himself as the caliph, making Damascus the capital of the Islamic empire. His efforts concentrated on strengthening his rule by entering into a truce with the Byzantines, renewing tribal alliances and securing the succession of his son Yazid. With the death of Muawiya in 680, Yazid faced the opposition of HuseinHusein
or Husayn
, c.626–680, Muslim leader, second son of Ali and Fatima (daughter of Muhammad). With the assassination of his father in 661 and the acquiescence of his brother Hasan, the caliphate passed out of the Alid family, although many continued to
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, the son of Ali. The resistance and subsequent martyrdom of Husein at Karbala in a battle where the Ummayad forces outnumbered him and his partisans is the focus of the central yearly Shiite observance of Ashura. Yazid also faced further resistance in the Hijaz (today Saudi Arabia), led by Abdallah ibn az-Zubayr. With his death, the caliphate was transfered to the Marwanid branch of the Banu Ummaya. Abd al-MalikAbd al-Malik
, c.646–705, 5th Umayyad caliph (685–705); son of Marwan I. At his accession, Islam was torn by dissension and threatened by the Byzantine Empire. With the help of his able general al-Hajjaj, Abd al-Malik overthrew the rival caliphs and united Islam.
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 succeeded in consolidating Ummayad rule, and proceeded with a series of administrative reforms including the conversion of the bureaucracy from Greek to Arabic, and the minting of new currency. This consolidation set the stage for the renewal of territorial expansion in Asia and Africa under Walid I (705–15), and the increased military pressure against Byzantium under Sulayman (715–17). Sulayman's successor, Umar II (717–20) unsuccessfully attempted to reverse the course of tribal-based politics in an effort to restore the Islamic political ideal of transcending partisanships. His successors, Yazid II (720–24), Hisham (724–43), and Walid (743–44) pursued the tribal-based territorial conquests. The expansion of the Islamic empire led to the emergence of a substantial class of non-tribal Muslims (mawali), who became the base from which anti-Ummayad movements drew their supporters. The most notable of these movements was the AbbasidAbbasid
or Abbaside
, Arab family descended from Abbas, the uncle of Muhammad. The Abbasids held the caliphate from 749 to 1258, but they were recognized neither in Spain nor (after 787) W of Egypt.
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, which eventually succeeded in toppling the last Ummayad caliph, Marwan II, in 750. A branch of the Ummayad family, led by Abd ar-Rahman ad-Dakhil, was able to reach Cordoba and to reestablish Umayyad rule (780–1031) in Muslim Spain.

Bibliography

See G. R. Hawting, The First Dynasty of Islam (1986).