This is a good article. Click here for more information.

'Abd al-Malik b. Marwan

From WikiShia
Jump to: navigation, search
Priority: c, Quality: b
'Abd al-Malik b. Marwan
Kunya Abu l-Walid
Lineage Banu Umayya
Well-known Relatives Marwan b. al-Hakam (father)
Birth 26/646
Place of Birth Medina
Places of Residence Medina, Damascus
Death/Martyrdom 86/705
Burial Place Damascus
Era Umayyad dynasty
Known for The fifth Umayyad caliph

ʿAbd al-Malik b. Marwān (Arabic:عبدالملک بن مروان) (b. 26/646 - 86/705) was the fifth Umayyad caliph who came to power in 65/685, after the death of his father, Marwan b. al-Hakam; he ruled for 21 years. In that time Muslims were suffering from a lot of internal issues, also Rome was a constant threat to Muslims. As 'Abd al-Malik was a capable ruler, he managed to overcome the issues and he suppressed the oppositions by force, tricks and violence. Ka'ba was partly destroyed in that time due to local conflicts. He appointed Hajjaj b. Yusuf al-Thaqafi as the governor of Kufa who put Shi'as under severe pressure. Imam al-Sajjad (a) was living in the time of 'Abd al-Malik's caliphate. Imam (a) suggested him to mint coins which became the first currency for Muslims. 'Abd al-Malik passed away at the age of 60 or 61, he is buried in Damascus.

Birth and Lineage

Abu l-Walid 'Abd al-Malik b. Marwan b. Hakam b. Abi al-Waqqas b. Umayya b. 'Abd al-Shams, the fifth Umayyad caliph was born in 26/646 in Medina, Hijaz. Marwan b. al-Hakam, his father, was an Umayyad caliph and 'Aisha, his mother, was the daughter of Mu'awiya b. Mughira b. Abi l-'As. 'Abd al-Malik had 17 sons; four of them, Walid, Sulayman, Yazid and Hisham, later became caliph as well.[1]


'Abd al-Malik memorized the Holy Quran and he was interested in religious teachings before he become the caliph. He had discussions and a close relationship with hadith scholars and faqihs in Medina. He was regarded as a vitreous and religious man among people. 'Abd al-Malik was also called "Hamama al-Masjid" (the pigeon of mosque). However, when he came to power, he refused to obey Islamic and ethical values. It is said, he was reciting the Quran when he was told that he became the caliph. Then he left immediately and said: "Now you (Quran) and I are departed and it will be the last time I see you."

'Abd al-Malik was a stingy and violent man, he was not afraid to kill his oppositions. His close supporters and representatives were treating just like him including: Hajjaj b. Yusuf al-Thaqafi (his agent in Iraq), Al-Muhallab b. Abi Sufra (his agent in Khorasan), Hisham b. Isma'il (his agent in Medina), his son 'Abd Allah b. 'Abd al-Malik in Egypt, Muhammad b. Yusuf al-Thaqafi (Hajjaj's brother in Yemen) and Muhammad b. Marwan in Al-Jazira.

'Abd al-Malik was a fierce enemy of descendants of 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a). Hisham b. Isma'il, his governor in Medina, treated people harshly.


When Marwan b. al-Hakam set out for Egypt in 65/685 to suppress the riots, he appointed 'Abd al-Malik to be a caliph. Marwan passed away in Ramadan it that year, and people of Damascus took oath of allegiance to 'Abd al-Malik.[2] When he came to power, Muslims' territory was in chaos and Umayyad dynasty was in decline.

Dealing with Internal and External Threats

In 65/685 'Abd al-Malik faced different internal and external threats:


'Abd al-Malik faced two groups of oppositions in Syria (Levant):

  1. A number of governors in Syria were supporting Ibn Zubayr such as Zufar b. al-Harith al-Kilabi in Al-Qarqisiya and Natil b. Qays al-Judami in Palestine; both were suppressed by 'Abd al-Malik.
  2. A group of Banu Umayyad who disagreed with caliphate of 'Abd al-Malik and considered themselves worthy of caliphate. 'Amr b. Sa'id b. al-'As known as 'Amr b. Sa'id b. al-Ashdaq was the most important one, who was promised to be appointed as the Crown Prince by 'Abd all-Malik and then he was killed after a while.

'Abd al-Malik also managed to suppress the movement of Mardaites with similar strategy.[3]


'Abd al-Malik was forced to pay tax to Romans so that he would not fear any attacks from them.[4]

Shi'a Uprisings in Iraq

After the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (a), the Uprising of Tawwābūn and the Uprising of Mukhtar al-Thaqafi took place in Iraq. The rise of Tawwābūn was defeated by 'Ubay Allah b. Ziyad in the time of Marwan b. al-Hakam,[5] but Mukhtar al-Thaqafi was suppressed in the time of 'Abd al-Malik.[6] However, 'Abd al-Malik himself did not act directly but he let Banu Zubayr do the job. Banu Zubayr were fighting against both Mukhtar al-Thaqafi and Umayyads.

Banu Zubayr

Banu Zubayr became influential in different Islamic territories. Iraq was ruled by Mus'ab b. Zubayr and Hijaz was ruled by 'Abd Allah b. Zubayr. Before 'Abd al-Malik take any military action against Banu Zubayr he applied other strategies:

  • 'Abd al-Malik sent letters to commanders of Mus'ab b. Zubayr's army in Iraq and encouraged them to join him. As a result in the battle near the Tigris River in 72/691 'Abd al-Malik managed to defeat Mus'ab easier. Mus'ab was killed and his army was scattered over the place. Consequently Banu Zubayr were not able to stand against 'Abd al-Malik any more in Iraq.
  • 'Abd al-Malik also did not allow people of Syria to travel to Mecca to perform hajj rituals, as they were influenced by propaganda spread by Banu Zubayr. According to Al-Ya'qubi: "People complained about prohibition of performing hajj rituals, and 'Abd al-Malik replied, as Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri narrated from Prophet Muhammad (s), you should go on a pilgrimage on three mosques, Masjid al-Haram, al-Masjid al-Nabawi and Masjid al-Aqsa. Today Masjid al-Aqsa is equally important as Masjid al-Haram. Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri also narrated: "The rock were Jews sacrificed on, is rock were Prophet Muhammad (s) ascended to heaven in the night of Mi'raj." 'Abd al-Malik also ordered to build a dome on that rock and they provided curtains on it and assigned servants for the place. They told people to perform hajj rituals there, which continued in Umayyad era.

In addition, 'Abd al-Malik sent Hajjaj b. Yusuf al-Thaqafi to suppress Banu Zubayr and take control of Hijaz. Then Hajjaj set out for Ta'if with twelve thousand men to negotiate with 'Abd Allah b. Zubayr, which led to failure as he disagreed with Hajjaj. Later, Hajjaj surrounded Mecca and he even damaged Ka'ba by throwing heavy rock by catapults.[7]

Mecca was under siege for seven months. Gradually people left 'Abd Allah b. Zubayr, ten thousands of people asked for mercy including two sons of 'Abd Allah b. Zubayr, Habib and Hamza who ran away. But one of his sons named Zubayr was killed alongside his father. 'Abd Allah b. Zubayr and few of his supporters resisted until their last breath and they fought bravely. Eventually Ibn Zubayr was killed in Masjid al-Haram.


Kharijites were divided into different groups based on their perspectives on political action and faith. Azariqa, Sufriyya and Ibadiyya were the most notable ones.

Azariqa, led by Nafi' b. Azraq used the weak condition of Umayyads and took control of Basra but people refused to take oath of allegiance to him. Then he moved to Ahvaz with his supporters and attacked a number of cities. Eventually he was killed in his attack to Basra in 65/685.[8]

Sufriyya Kharijites, led by Salih b. Masrah attacked Kufa from north of Mosul. After years of conflicts and battles they were defeated and suppressed by Hajjaj b. Yusuf al-Thaqafi.[9]

Najd b. 'Amir al-Hanafi also led a group of Kharijites, they moved to Bahrain and its neighboring regions in 65/685 where they started to attack 'Abd Allah b. Zubayr and 'Abd al-Malik. They were eventually surrounded and suppressed by 'Abd al-Malik.[10]


'Abd al-Rahman b. Muhammad b. Ash'ath was chosen as the governor of Khorasan by Hajjaj b. Yusuf, but after some time he launched an uprising which was suppressed by Hajjaj b. Yusuf himself.

Conquering North of Africa

In the early days of 'Abd al-Malik's caliphate, the king of Roma broke the peace treaty with Muslims and attacked Muslims' territory.[11] 'Abd al-Malik realized the danger of Romans and decided to pay tax to them; he promised to pay a thousand Dinar every week.[12] However, when 'Abd al-Malik managed to suppress internal disputes and uprisings, he launched an attack to Roman Empire and conquered large parts of their territories, as a result the peace treaty was violated.[13]

Expanding Muslims territory in Africa became a political strategy in the time of 'Abd al-Malik's rule. In 65/685 'Abd al-Malik sent an army led by Zuhayr b. Qays al-Balawi to Africa. Zuhayr managed to break the alliance between Berbers and Roman Emperor but he was killed in the battle against Romans.

In 74/693 'Abd al-Malik appointed Hasan b. al-Nu'man al-Ghassani as the governor of Muslims' territory in Africa. He conquered northern regions of Africa and defeated the Romans who took control of those regions. Ibn Nu'man recaptured Qartaj, today known as Carthage in Tunisia from Romans and Berber and expanded his territory up to Atlas Mountains.

But Romans brought new enforcements and conquered Carthage again when Ibn Nu'man was not there. But Hasan b. Nu'man returned and defeated Brisance (Tiberius III) which accordingly all Romans left Africa except for Ceuta.

Meanwhile Zenata and Urasi tribes led by a woman named Kahina (or Dihya) brought serious problems for Hasan b. Nu'man. Muslims army was at first severely defeated by Berbers, but later Ibn Nu'man attacked Kahina and kill her; as a result all of her supporters accepted to obey him.

According to one narration, Romans tried to capture Carthage back from Muslims by means of navy soldiers which was resisted and defeated by Hasan. After some time he ordered to demolish the whole city to end their aspiration to recapture it. However they built a new city called Tunisia in eastern region.[14]

Expanding Islamic Civilization

'Abd al-Malik made huge efforts in expansion of Islamic civilization through 20 or 21 years of his rule:

Arabization of Courts

Administrations were managed by Mawalis and 'Ajams (non-Arabs), as a result the official language of administrations and organizations were non-Arabic; they were different based on their local region. In some places Iranians were using Persian language and in some regions Roman and Egyptian were using their own languages.

As all Umayyad caliphs emphasized on Arabization and humiliation of other languages and races, 'Abd al-Malik made huge efforts to appoint Arab administrators so that non-Arabs were dismissed from administrations.[15] In the first step, 'Abd al-Malik changed administrations system and then he Arabized them. Then he changed the currency of Muslim territory; these actions were called the movement of Arabization.[16]

In his rule, 'Abd al-Malik ordered to train Arab office employees to replace Roman and Iranian ones. One of the problems of the time was presence of different languages between different classes of society which brought difficulties in sending letters, registering trades as they needed a common language.[17] This problem brought contradictions and disorder in administration of caliphate. As a result, 'Abd al-Malik ordered to Arabize all the administrations and he himself supervised the process.[18] After some years Arabic became the official language in Muslim territory replacing other languages in administrations.

Mintage of Coin

'Abd al-Malik realized lack of independent currency in Islamic territory which was subsequent monetary system of other systems including Roman's; he considered it as a disadvantage.[19] In addition, having different currencies plus Iranian and Roman currencies brought disorder in commercial trades. Therefore, he ordered to mint coins in 74/693-4. Also Islamic Dirham and Dinar were minted since 84/703 which was the first independent currency in Islamic world.[20]

Before the caliphate of 'Abd al-Malik, Muslims used Romans and Sassanid coins for their commercial trades; commonly Roman's. It is said, 'Abd al-Malik was the first one who ordered to mint Islamic coins. As it is narrated, when 'Abd al-Malik wrote letters to Roman kings, he started the letters with the names of Allah and Prophet Muhammad (s) which was criticized by the Roman king, he wrote back to 'Abd Allah and warned him if he continues staring his letters with those names, he would order to mint coins with curse words on Prophet (s) on them. Imam al-Sajjad (a) suggested 'Abd al-Malik to mint Islamic coins, then he ordered to build mints in 84/703 to coin Islamic Dirham and Dinar. According to A'yan al-Shi'a Imam al-Baqir (a) suggested 'Abd al-Malik to mint coins.[21]

Treatment of Shi'as

In the time of revolution of Medina, people banished all the Banu Umayyad members, but Imam al-Sajjad (a) provided shelter for the wife of Marwan b. al-Hakam, the daughter of 'Uthman b. 'Affan, in his house and welcomed her as well. It made Marwan to have an optimistic attitude toward Imam al-Sajjad (a). He also consulted with Imam (a); mintage of coin was one of the suggestions introduced by Imam (a). However, later 'Abd al-Malik treated Imam al-Sajjad (a) differently. He ordered to imprison Imam (a) and bring him to the capital of his caliphate.

Appointing Hajjaj al-Yusuf al-Thaqafi as the Governor of Iraq

Appointing Hajjaj al-Yusuf as the governor of Iraq is regarded among the most important political and military actions 'Abd al-Malik taken; he was a fierce enemy of Ahl al-Bayt (a). Defeating Banu Zubayr and conquering Medina made Hajjaj a key person to 'Abd al-Malik. Consequently he was ruling over Hijaz and later took control over Iraq and Khorasan as well. He treated his oppositions and people severely and violently in Iraq which made him notoriously known in historical proverbs and stories.

Hajjaj b. Yusuf ruled over Kufa, the capital of Shi'a revolutions, for almost twenty years and killed or imprisoned ten thousands of Shi'as. According to historical reports, When Hajjaj wanted to deliver a speech in mosque, he sat for a while and suddenly stood and said: "People of Iraq, By God I see heads like ripe fruits which are ready to be cut, and I will cut them; I see blood flouting from turbans and beards."[22] He treated people of Iraq and Iran so harshly that the whole area went to silence and all the uprisings were severely punished and suppressed.

Crown Princeship

'Abd al-Malik followed his fathers' steps in appointment of Crown Prince. He decided to release his brother, 'Abd al-'Aziz b. Marwan from Crown Prince and asked people to take oath of allegiance to his sons Walid b. 'Abd al-Malik and Sulayman b. 'Abd al-Malik as the Crown Princes.

Qubaysa b. Duwayb prevented him and said: "Do not take an action which starts a disturbance. Maybe 'Abd al-'Aziz dies and you will get rid of him." One night he informed 'Abd al-Malik of his brother's death. Then 'Abd al-Malik appointed his son, 'Abd Allah b. 'Abd al-Malik as the governor of Egypt and his other sons Walid and Sulayman as the Crown Princes. He sent letters to all the cities and accordingly people took oath of allegiance to them.[23]


'Abd al-Malik b. Marwan eventually died in Damascus in Shawwal 86/705 at the age of 60 or 65.[24] He ruled for 21 years.


  1. Ibn Ḥazm, Jamhara ansāb al-ʿarab, p.82-89.
  2. Ibn Kathīr al-Damishqī, Al-Bidāya wa al-nihāya, vol.8, p.260.
  3. Ibn Athīr, Al-Kāmil fī al-tārīkh, vol.2, p.304.
  4. Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, p.218.
  5. Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol.2, p.257.
  6. Ibn Muskuwayh, Tajārub al-umam, vol.2, p.95-110; Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol.2, p.257; Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa al-mulūk, vol.7, p.557-560.
  7. Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol.5, p.177.
  8. Ibn Athīr, Al-Kāmil, vol.4,p.194.
  9. Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol.8, p.8.
  10. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa al-mulūk, vol.7, p.462.
  11. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa al-mulūk, vol.6, p.150.
  12. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa al-mulūk, vol.6, p.150.
  13. Balādhurī, Futūḥ al-buldān, p.188.
  14. Al-Yāqūt al-Ḥimawī, Muʿjam al-Buldān, vol.2, p.61.
  15. Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, p.192.
  16. Ibn al-Ṭiqṭaqī, Al-Fakhrī, p.123.
  17. Ibn Khaldūn, Tārīkh Ibn Khaldūn, vol.1, p.467.
  18. Ibn Khaldūn, Tārīkh Ibn Khaldūn, vol.1, p.303.
  19. Balādhurī, Futūḥ al-buldān, p.237.
  20. Ibn Qutayba al-Dīnawarī, Al-Imāma wa al-sīyāsa, p.316.
  21. Amīn, Aʿyān al-Shīʿa, vol.1, p.654.
  22. Ibn al-ʿIbrī, Tārīkh mukhtaṣar al-duwal, p.112.
  23. Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol.5, p.183.
  24. Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol.5, p.182.


  • Amīn, al-Sayyid Muḥsin al-. Aʿyān al-Shīʿa. Edited by Ḥasan Amīn. Beirut: Dār al-Tʿāruf li-l-Maṭbūʿāt, 1403AH.
  • Balādhurī, Aḥmad b.Yaḥyā al-. Futūḥ al-buldān. Beirut: Dār wa Maktabat al-Hilāl, 1988.
  • Balādhurī, Aḥmad b.Yaḥyā al-. Ansāb al-ashrāf. Edied by Suhiyl Zakar and Riad Zirikli. Beirut: Dār al-fikr, 1417AH-1996.
  • Ibn al-ʿIbrī, Ghirīghurīyūs b. Hārūn. Tārīkh mukhtaṣar al-duwal. Edited by Āntūn Ṣāliḥānī al-Yasūʿī. 3rd edition. Beirut: Dār al-Sharq, 1992.
  • Ibn al-Ṭiqṭaqī, Muḥammad b. ʿAlī b. Ṭabāṭabā. Al-Fakhrī fī l-ādāb al-sulṭānīyya wa l-duwal al-Islāmīyya. Edited by ʿAbd al-Qādir Muḥammad Māyū. Beirut: Dār al-Qalam al-ʿArabī, 1418AH-1997.
  • Ibn Athīr, ʿAlī b. Abī l-Karam. Al-Kāmil fī l-tārīkh. Beirut: Dār al-Ṣādir, 1385AH-1965.
  • Ibn Ḥazm al-Andulīsī, ʿAlī b. Aḥmad b. Saʿīd. Jamharat ansāb al-ʿarab. Edited by A committee of scholars. Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmīyya, 1403AH-1983.
  • Ibn Kathīr al-Damishqī, Ismāʿīl b. ʿUmar. Al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya. Beirut: Dār al-Fikr, 1407AH-1986.
  • Ibn Khaldūn, ʿAbd l-Raḥmān b. Muḥammad. Tārīkh Ibn Khaldūn. Edited by Khalīl Shaḥāda. 2end edition. Beirut: Dār al-Fikr, 1408AH-1988.
  • Ibn Muskuwayh, Aḥmad b. Muḥammad. Tajārub al-umam. Edited by Abu l-Qāsim Imāmī. 2ned edition. Tehran: Dār Surūsh li-l-Ṭibāʿa wa l-Nashr, 1366Sh-1407AH-1987.
  • Ibn Qutayba al-Dīnawarī, ʿAbd Allah b. Muslim . Al-Imāma wa l-sīyāsa al-mʿrūf bitārīkh al-khulafāʾ. Edited by ʿAlī Shīrī. Beirut: Dār al-Awḍāʾ. 1410AH-1990.
  • Ibn Saʿd, Muḥammad b. Manīʿ al-Ḥāshimī al-Baṣrī. Al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā. Edited by Muḥammad ʿAbd al-Qādir ʿAṭā. Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya,1410AH-1990.
  • Ṭabarī, Muḥammad b.Jarīr al-.Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk. Edited by Muḥammad Abu l-fazl Ibrāhīm. 2end edition. Beirut: Dar al-Turāth, 1387AH.
  • Yaʿqūbī, Aḥmad b. Isḥāq al-. Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī. Beirut: Dār al-Sādir.
  • Yāqūt al-Ḥamawī. Muʿjam al-Buldān. 2ned edition. Beirut: Dār al-Ṣādir, 1995.