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Medinians, arched directly with his army towards Mecca. but died by the way, in the month Moharram of the sixtyfourth year. Upon his death, Hosein took upon him the command of the army, and besieged Abdallah in Mecca during the space of forty days, during which time he battered it so roughly, that he beat down a great part of the temple,* and burnt the rest; and this city had run the same fortune with Medina, if the news of Yezid's death had not recalled Hosein into Syria.†
Abdollah heard of Yezid's decease before the Syrian army had received any intelligence of it, and called out to them from the walls, and asking them what they fought for, for their master was dead. But they, not believing him, continued their siege with great vigour, till they received further and authentic information. Hosein now told Abdallah that he was of opinion that it would be the best way to forbear shedding any more blood, and proffered him his allegiance if he would accept of the government; assuring him, that all this army, wherein where the leading men of all Syria, would be in his interest, and that there was no fear of any
Some autnors, however, say that the temple was not set on fire by the besiegers, but that Abdallah, hearing in the night a shouting from the mountains of Mecca, and wishing to discover the cause, put some fire on the end of a spear, which, being wafted by the wind, the sparks laid hold first on the hangings, and then caught the wood-work.
+ An Abyssinian superintended the engines that were throwing stones and combustibles upon the city, and was delighted at the destruction of the place and the sacred temple, whose columns were completely shattered. He likewise filled several barrels with pitch, set fire to them, and threw them against the Kaaba, so that every thing around it was burnt. Here a miracle is related. One day, when this Abyssinian was about to send a number of these pitch-barrels against the temple, a fierce wind suddenly arose, the flames seized the machines, and burnt the black and ten of his companions. This took place on the same day that Yezid died at Damascus, The fire likewise pursued all those who assisted in assaulting the city, and consumed them altogether. When the Syrians beheld this manifestation of the wrath of God, they were struck with terror, and raised the siege, saying, "With God's temple we will have nothing more to do." Hosein, who as yet knew nothing of the death of Yezid, wrote to Damascus and described the position of Abdallah. On the following day the latter sent a messenger to Hosein, to ask him for whom he was fighting, as Yezid was dead. Hosein supposed the information to be false, and waited till Thabit Ebn Kais arrived from Medina and confirmed the news of Yezid's decease.- Weil.
MS. Laud. No. 16',
opposition. But Abdallah was afraid to trust him. As they were talking together, just where the pigeons from the temple of Mecca were pecking something upon the ground, Hosein turned his horse aside, which Abdallah taking notice of, demanded his reason; he said he was afraid his horse should kill the temple pigeons. Abdallah asked him how he could scruple that, and at the same time kill the Mussulmans. Hosein told him, that he would not fight against him any more, and only desired that they might have leave to go round the temple of Mecca before their departure; which was granted. Abdallah afterwards, when it was too late, repented of having rejected the services of Hosein, who was accompanied on his return into Syria by all those of the house of Ommiyah that were in Medina.
Yezid died in Hawwarin,* in the territories of Hems, when four nights were passed of the first Rebiyah, in the sixtyfourth year of the Hejirah, in the thirty-ninth year of his age, after he had reigned three years and six months. He was a man of a ruddy complexion, pitted with the small pox, with curly hair and black eyes. He had a handsome beard, and was thin and tall. He left behind him several children of both sexes, of whom his son Kaled is reported to have been skilled in the art of alchymy, and his son Abdallah to have been the truest bowman of all the Arabians in his time. His mother's name was Meisun, of the family of the Kelabi. She was an excellent poetess,† and had pleased Moawiyah's
Meisun was the Bedouin bride of Moawiyah, and amidst all the pomp of Damascus she still sighed for the desert. Some of her verses are thus translated in Carlyle's "Specimens of Arabian Poetry."
"The russet suit of camel's hair,
With spirits light and eye serene,
Than all the trappings of a queen.
Better than towers and splendid halls.
"The attendant colts, that bounding fly,
Than gorgeous mules in all their pride.
fancy to that degree with some of her verses, that he made her go back into the desert amongst her own relations, and take her son Yezid along with her, that he also might be brought up a poet. This part of his education succeeded, for he was reckoned to excel that way, though his chief talent consisted in making a drunken catch.
It is observed of him, that he was the first caliph that drank wine publicly, and was waited upon by eunuchs.* Besides, the Arabians reproach him with bringing up and being fond of dogs, which the more scrupulous Mohammedans have in abomination.
But the greatest vices of this caliph were his impiety and covetousness, which occasioned a certain authort to say, that for the empire of the Mussulmans to flourish, it ought to be in the hands of princes either pious, like the first four caliphs, or liberal, as Moawiyah; but that when it was again governed by a prince who, like Yezid, had neither piety nor generosity, all would be lost.
The Mohammedan doctors look upon Yezid's allowing the soldiers to commit such abominable outrages in the city of the prophet, and suffering it to be so profaned, as a very wicked action.§ They do not scruple to say, that although he did it thinking to preserve his life and government, God nevertheless had dealt with him as a tyrant, and, by cutting him off in the flower of his age, had inflicted judgment upon him for his presumption. In condemnation of Yezid, they quote this saying of Mohammed, "Whoever injureth Medina shall melt away, even as salt melteth away in the water."
By Persian authors he is never mentioned without abomination, and ordinarily this imprecation is added to his name,
"The watch-dog's voice, that bays whene'er
Than yonder trumpet's loud-drawn note.
"The rustic youth, unspoil'd by art,
Son of my kindred, poor, but free,
Be dearer, pamper'd fool, than thee !"
+ MS. Hunt. No. 495.
+Rabi Al Akyur,
§ MS. Laud.
No. 161. A.
Laanabullah, that is, "The curse of God be upon him;" in reference not to his vices, but to the death of Hosein, the son of Ali, whom he first of all attempted to destroy by poison, and afterwards caused to be killed, with all his family, on the plains of Kerbela.*
Under his caliphate the Mussulmans conquered all Khorassan and Khowarezm, and put the estates of the prince of Samarcand under contribution. The motto of his seal was, "God is our Lord."
MOAWIYAH II., THE SON OF YEZID, THE THIRD CALIPH OF THE HOUSE OF OMMIYAH, AND THE EIGHTH AFTER MOHAMMED.
Hejirah 64. A.D. 683.
As soon as Yezid was dead, his son Moawiyah was proclaimed caliph at Damascus. He was near one and twenty years of age, but of a weak constitution; very religious, but of the sect of the Alcadarii. Moawiyah's favourite master was Omar Al Meksous; and he consulted him whether he ought, or not, to accept the caliphate. His master told him, that if he thought himself able to administer justice duly to the Mussulmans, and to acquit himself of all the duties of that dignity, he ought to accept it; but otherwise he ought not to charge himself with it.
This caliph had scarcely reigned six weeks, when he found himself too weak to sustain the weight of the government, and resolved to lay it down. To this end he called a council of the greatest men of the court, and told them that when he first entertained the thought of abdicating himself, he designed to follow the example of Abubeker, and nominate a successor, as that first caliph had done; but that he had not found, as Abubeker had done, men like Omar upon whom to fix his choice. Then he told them that he had also a design
+ Abulfeda. Abulfaragius. D'Herbelot.
These are a branch of the Motazeli, and differ in their opinions from the orthodox Mussulmans in that they deny God's decree, and assert freewill; affirming that the contrary opinion makes God the author of evil.
of imitating Omar, and naming six persons, upon one of which the choice should fall by lot, but that he had not found so many among them capable of it, and therefore could not determine upon that course.
"I am therefore resolved," added he, "to leave the choice entirely to you." Upon this the principal statesmen told him that they had nothing to do but to choose that person amongst them that he should please, and that all the rest would obey him. Moawiyah answered them in these terms: "As I have not hitherto enjoyed the advantages of the caliphate, it is not reasonable that I should charge myself with its most odious duty, therefore I hope that you will not take it amiss if I discharge my conscience towards you, and leave you to judge for yourselves who is most capable among you to fill my place."
Accordingly, as soon as Moawiyah had made his abdication in so good form, they proceeded to the election of a caliph, and their choice fell upon Merwan, the son of Hakem, who was the fourth of the caliphs of Syria; Abdallah, the son of Zobeir, having been declared caliph in Arabia, Irak, Khorassan, Egypt, and a great part of Syria.
Moawiyah had no sooner renounced the caliphate but he shut himself up in a chamber, from whence he never stirred till he died, not long after his abdication, of the plague according to some, according to others by poison. The family of Ommiyah was, it is said, so greatly irritated at his proceeding, that they vented their resentment upon the person of Omar Al Meksous, whom they buried alive, because they supposed that it was by his advice that Moawiyah deposed himself. This caliph was nick-named Abuleilah, that is to say, "The father of the night," because of his natural weakness and want of health, which hindered him from often appearing abroad in the day time. The inscription of his seal was "The world is a cheat."
We must now look backwards a little towards the eastern parts of the empire.* As soon as Obeidollah heard of Yezid's death, he acquainted the Bassorians with it in a set speech, wherein he represented to them "the near relationship between him and them, and reminded them that the place of his nativity was amongst them; that, as appeared MS. Laud. No. 161. A.