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Monday, 23 February 2009

Umayyads (711-1031 CE)

Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, died in 632 CE in Medina. Following his death, several of his close companions succeeded him as caliphs. The term caliph is a transliterated version of the Arabic word for "successor" or "representative." They included Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali.

During this time, Muslims had extended their rule outside Arabia to include much of today’s Middle East and parts of North Africa. Thus, they reduced the size of the Byzantine Empire and brought the Sasanid Empire in Persia to an end.

In 661 CE, opponents of Ali assassinated him. Then-governor of Syria, Mu’awiya, acquired leadership of the caliphate and moved the capital to Damascus. He was of a member of the elite Meccan tribe of Banu Umayya.

Mu’awiya designated his son, Yazid, to be his successor. In effect, this designation created the first Muslim dynasty: the Umayyads. During the next century, his descendants expanded Muslim rule northwards into Anatolia and Central Asia, eastwards to the borders of India and westward across North Africa.



In 711, Amazigh (Berber) commander Tariq ibn Ziyad led an Umayyad force across the Mediterranean into Spain. They defeated the army of the Visigothic king, Roderic. The caliph in Damascus appointed an Umayyad governor to rule most of Iberia. The Muslims called this new land “Al-Andalus.”

In 750 CE, the Abbasid family rallied support among opponents of the Umayyads and overthrew the dynasty. The Abbasids were a noble clan descended from one of Muhammad’s uncles. They took control of the caliphate and established their new capital at Baghdad.

While many of his relatives were killed, a young Umayyad prince named Abd al-Rahman sought refuge among his Amazigh (Berber) mother’s tribe in North Africa. He crossed over to Spain. In 755, he gained control of Córdoba. There, he became amir (ruler) of Al-Andalus, which was independent from the Abbasid caliphate.

Others followed Abd al-Rahman's example, such as Idris -- a descendant of Ali -- who established the Idrisid Dynasty in Morocco around 788.

The Umayyad amirate lasted until 929 CE. An Umayyad descendant named Abd al-Rahman (III), who was not content with the title of amir, declared himself caliph. In doing so, he openly challenged the Abbasids’ claim. He also countered the Shi’i Fatimids in North Africa, who had recently taken the title of caliph, as well.

The 10th century Umayyad caliphate in Spain represents the pinnacle of unity, power, wealth, and scientific and artistic achievement in Al-Andalus.

The rise to power of an ambitious palace official, Muhammad Ibn Abi Amir (Al-Mansur), initially enhanced the Muslims’ military strength in the peninsula. But, Al-Mansur’s military regime threatened the internal stability cultivated over several centuries, sowing the seeds for civil war.

In 1013 CE, Amazigh (Berber) troops seized control in Córdoba, killed Caliph Hisham II and sacked the palace city, Madinat al-Zahra. Amid chaos and tragedy, the leading religious authorities in Córdoba dissolved the caliphate. This move opened the way for former governors and city administrators to become local kings of a fragmented Al-Andalus.

Article refer to http://www.islamicspain.tv/

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