The Bani Umayyah Kings
The Bani Umayyah started tormenting the Prophet (S) immediately he began to spread Islam. Abu Sufyan was their leader. He led the wars of Badr and Uhud against the Muslims. During the battle of Uhud his wife Hind hired an assassin to kill Hamza, the uncle of the Prophet (S). After the murder, she located the body of Hamza, mutilated it, and chewed his liver. The children of this accursed couple were no less evil. After the death of the Prophet (S), Abu Sufyan tried to attain power by encouraging Imam Ali (A) to regain his right to Caliphate by spilling blood. Imam Ali (A), well aware of the hidden intent of Abu Sufyan, rejected his offer.
It was left to those who had stolen the rights of Imam Ali (A), namely Abu Bakr and Umar, to prepare the ground for the Bani Umayyah to come to power. Umar appointed Yazid, son of Abu Sufyan, as governor of Palestine and later, of Syria. When Yazid died, his younger brother, Mu'awiya became the ruler of Syria. Umar further strengthened the power base of the Bani Umayyah by arranging for Uthman to succeed him as Caliph. Uthman made sure that all the key posts in the Muslim empire were in the hands of his Bani Umayyah clan. Since then, the Bani Umayyah became the ultimate power throughout the Muslim lands and began to torture and harass the family and Shia of Imam Ali (A)
When Imam Ali (A) was asked by all the Muslims to become Caliph in 35 A.H., one of the first things he did was to ask Mu'awiya to forego his governorship of Syria and give an account of his actions. Mu'awiya, however, wanted the Caliphate himself, and claimed that he was an independent authority and not under the Muslim state.
This led to the battle of Siffin, which came to an unsatisfactory conclusion in 37 A.H. Some of the factors leading to the success of Mu'awiya in Syria were the following:
- The excuse of revenge for the murder of Uthman.
- The battle of Jamal led by Ayesha.
- The uncompromising nature of Imam Ali's (A) faith.
- The murder of Imam Ali (A) by Abdur Rahman ibne Muljam.
- The cunning and treacherous nature of Muawiya himself.
However, the Kufans were either bribed or threatened by Mu'awiya, and being very fickle people, they deserted Imam Hasan (A). At the gathering ground of Nukhayla, only 4,000 men turned out to fight and Imam Hasan (A) was forced to return to Kufa disappointed. To save the lives of the few sincere Muslims, Imam Hasan (A) had to sign a treaty with Mu'awiya.
Mu'awiya arranged the murder of Imam Hasan (A). He promised Ju'da binte Ash'ath, a wife of Imam Hasan (A), 100,000 dirhams and the hand of his son Yazid in marriage if she poisoned her husband. The cursed woman carried out the evil task and Imam Hasan (A) breathed his last on 7th Safar 50 A.H.
Muawiya, may Allah's Curse be on him always, finally died in Rajab of 60 A.H.
2. Yazid son of Muawiya
In 60 A.H. this devil declared himself ruler of all Muslims. Yazid was a man of extremely evil habits. He was a drunkard, gambler, womaniser and murderer. He only ruled for 3 years. In the first year he killed Imam Husain (A) and his companions in Karbala and made their women and children prisoners. During the second year he ordered his soldiers to enter Madina and do what they liked. As a result, 1,000 people were killed, including 700 close Companions of the Prophet (S). In addition 1,000 women were assaulted and forced to surrender their dignity to Yazid's men. In the third year, Yazid mounted an attack on the Ka'ba, aiming to destroy it with giant catapults.
Not content with committing crimes in Kerbala, Makka and Madina, Yazid appointed Ubaidullah ibne Ziyad as governor of Kufa with specific orders to hunt out and kill the Shia of Imam Ali (A). Ubaidullah carried out the orders of his master by imprisoning, exiling, hanging or amputating the limbs of the Shia. Yazid's rule ended with his death in 64 A.H. Before his death, he appointed his son Mu'awiya as his heir.
3. Mu'awiya the Second, son of Yazid.
Mu'awiya the Second was aware of the rights of the family of the Prophet (S) and of the terrible crimes committed by his own father and grandfather. He therefore told Imam Zainul Abideen (A) that he was transferring authority to him. His decision disgusted his mother so much that she told Muawiya, "I wish that I had discharged you as a miscarriage and never given birth to you." To this he replied, "I too, wish that that had been the case so that I would not be associated with Yazid, Muawiya and Abu Sufyan." Because of his refusal to continue in the way of his forefathers, Mu'awiya was soon poisoned and died only 4 months after coming to the throne.
4. Marwan bin Hakam
In 64 A.H. the line of kings of the Umayyad dynasty moved from the descendants of Abu Sufyan to those of Marwan. He ruled for only 9 months and during this time he was occupied in war against the group of Abu Sufyan on one hand and Abdullah ibne Zubayr on the other. As a result, he did not get much opportunity to persecute the Shia. However, he continued the policy of cursing Imam Ali (A) from the pulpits. He also gave shelter to the killers of Imam Husain (A) who were being hunted now that Yazid was dead.
5. Abdul Malik bin Marwan
Abdul Malik succeeded his father in 65 A.H. and ruled for 21 years. He became the ruler of Syria while Abdullah ibne Zubayr took over Arabia. Between the two of them they managed to kill the two groups of people who had risen to take revenge for the murder of Imam Husain (A). The "Penitents" led my Shia like Sulayman bin Sard Khuzai'i were killed by Abdul Malik while the group led by Mukhtar was killed by ibne Zubayr. Abdul Malik finally managed to kill ibne Zubayr and take control of the whole Muslim Empire. One of the worst crimes he committed was to turn a blind eye to the activities of his governor, Hajjaj bin Yusuf. Hajjaj was the worst tyrant in the whole history of the Bani Umayyah. He was responsible for the deaths of 120,000 innocent people. He tortured and killed such notable companions of Imam Ali (A) like Qambar, Kumail bin Ziyad and Sa'id bin Jubayr. During this time it was safer for the Muslims to call themselves the enemies of Islam rather than the Shia of Imam Ali (A). Abdul Malik was so grateful for the services of Hajjaj that he gave him full control of Iraq and Arabia to do as he liked. When Hajjaj died, his prison contained 50,000 men and 30,000 women.
6. Walid bin Abdul Malik.
In 86 A.H. Walid succeeded his father Abdul Malik. Walid was a cruel tyrant who continued to favour Hajjaj and give him free rein. He dismissed the popular governor in Madina, Umar bin Abdul Aziz and put Khalid bin Abdullah in his place. Khalid was an unbeliever whose mother was a Christian. This man built a church for his mother behind the Ka'ba. He allowed Christians to keep Muslim slaves.
7. Sulayman bin Abdul Malik
Walid died in 96 A.H. after ruling for 10 years and was succeeded by his brother Sulayman. Sulayman was a glutton and fond of women. Sulayman was an intensely jealous man and killed the great Arab conqueror, Musa bin Nasir who had brought Spain and Portugal under Muslim control. Sulayman killed him because Musa had sent all the spoils of war to Walid and had not kept it till Sulayman came to the throne. He also killed Waqtiba bin Muslim who had conquered territories from Fars to China for the Muslim Empire. His reason for killing Waqtiba was that the man had encouraged Walid to remove Sulayman from the office of crown prince. Sulayman used to shower blessings on Mu'awiya, saying that he had never come across anyone more bold than him in matters of cruelty, crime and oppression. He called Mu'awiya the True Spirit of the Bani Umayyah. Sulayman died in 99 A.H. after ruling for 2 years and a few months and was succeeded by Umar bin Abdul Aziz.
8. Umar bin Abdul Aziz
After the death of Sulayman bin Abdul Malik in 99 A.H., the reins of power were taken up by Umar bin Abdul Aziz. He was the one king in this dynasty whose actions were worthwhile.
One of the greatest deeds of Umar bin Abdul Aziz was that he stopped the abusing of Imam Ali (A) from the pulpits at the time of Friday prayers. Because of the influence of his childhood teachers, he had grown up with love and respect for the Ahlul Bayt (A). Instead of the customary curses, he ordered that the following verse be recited:
Verily, Allah commands to maintain justice, kindness and proper relations with relatives; and He forbids indecency, sin and rebellion. He gives you advice so that perhaps you will take heed.
Surah an-Nahl, 16:90
This verse is recited by all the Muslims in their Friday addresses upto today. The other noteworthy action of Umar bin Abdul Aziz was that he returned the garden of Fadak to a descendant of Bibi Fatima (A), who at the time was Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (A). This garden had been usurped by Abu Bakr after the death of the Prophet (S).
The favour with which Umar bin Abdul Aziz regarded the Ahlul Bayt (A) and the Shia made him unpopular amongst the Bani Umayyah themselves and led to his poisoning on 25th of Rajab 101 A.H. His grave in Dayr Sam'aan is still visited today.
9. Yazid bin Abdul Malik.
Yazid was the next king and he did his best to overturn all the good actions of his predecessor. Under his rule, the old harsh ways of terrorisation and unfair taxation were revived. Yazid also seized Fadak back.
Like his maternal grandfather, Yazid the First, this Yazid was also fond of easy living, drinking and women. His rule came to an end after 4 years.
10. Hisham bin Abdul Malik
Hisham came to power at a time when the crimes of Bani Umayyah were finally causing widespread resentment. Hisham did not take heed of these feelings, and instead of attempting to reform the evils of his forefathers, he added to the misery of the people. His policies towards the Shia were especially harsh. He ordered that they should be got rid off, their blood be shed and their rights be taken away.
During the time of Hisham a revolution was led by Zayd son of Imam Ali Zainul Abideen (A). 15,000 Shia supported him but they deserted him when the fighting started. At the end Zayd was left with only 300 men and after a brave fight, he was killed. The body of Zayd was treated very badly by Hisham who refused to allow it to be buried and hung it at Kufa.
11. Walid bin Yazid bin Abdul Malik.
Hisham died after ruling for 19 years and was succeeded by Walid. Walid was a shameless and foolish man, and he was fond of a pleasurable life, wasting it on wine, adultery and hunting. He was the first ruler to introduce professional singers into his court.
He is famous for having publicly shot arrows at the Qur'an. By this time, the days of the Bani Umayyah were numbered and the voice of outrage against these useless rulers rang everywhere.
To add to this, the Bani Abbas began a campaign to topple the Bani Umayyah. After Walid's death, three more rulers came to power briefly, but they ruled for only a short time before the sun set on this cruel dynasty forever. These rulers were:
12. Yazid bin Walid (6 months).
13. Ibrahim bin Walid (4 months).
14. Marwan bin Muhammad bin Marwan (5 years 10 months).