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by the books, he had since his government over them destroyed a hundred and forty thousand of their enemies; that there was no person left of any consideration whom they need to fear, who was not already in their prisons; that they were every way the most considerable nation in the empire, both with regard to their courage, number, and extent of country; that they were very well able to subsist independently of any help, but that the rest of the provinces were not able to subsist without them; that there was a faction in Syria, and till that was appeased, he thought it advisable for them to choose a person duly qualified to be the protector of their state; that after that was done, if the Mussulmans agreed upon a successor whom they approved of, it would be well, if otherwise, they might continue as they were till they did." The Bassorians approved of his proposal, and told him that they knew no person so well qualified for such a trust as himself. He refused it several times, with little sincerity, as may be supposed by his speech; but overcome, as he pretended, by their importunity, accepted it at last. So they gave him their hands to be subject to him till all things were settled, and the Mussulmans were agreed upon an Imam or caliph. This being done, he sent a messenger to the Cufians, to persuade them to follow the example of the Bassorians. The Cufians received the message with indignation, and were so far from complying with it, that they flung dust upon their governor. Though the Cufians did not follow the example of the Bassorians, yet the Bassorians followed theirs. For, having learnt the repulse Obeidollah had met with at Cufah, they revoked their promise of allegiance to him; and the faction ran so high, that finding Bassorah too warm for him, he was fain to make the best of his way into Syria.
There was at that time in the treasury of Bassorah sixteen millions of money, part of which he divided among his relations, the remainder he carried along with him. He attempted to persuade the Najari, who are a tribe of the Arabian Ansars, to fight for him; but they refused, as did also all his own relations, for he had rendered himself so obnoxious by his cruelty, that he was dreaded and abhorred by all, beloved by none. His brother Abdallah told the Bassorians, that since they had promised their subjection, he and his brother Obeidollah would not fly away from them, but stay and be killed,
and leave it as a reproach upon them till the day of judg ment. Obeidollah lay concealed in women's clothes in Mesoud's house, who advised him to scatter money liberally among the people, and induce them to renew their oath. Abdallah, his brother, tried his utmost with two hundred thousand pieces, and Mesoud also stirred for him as much as he was able, till at last he was killed in the tumult, though he owed his death chiefly to an old grudge. Obeidollah was at last constrained to fly, and as soon as he was gone the people plundered his effects, and pursued him. He had a hundred men with him that were left him by Mesoud. In the night time he grew weary of riding upon his camel, and exchanged it for an ass. One of his friends observing him riding in that manner, with his feet dangling down to the ground, began to reflect upon the uncertainty of human affairs, and said to himself, "This man was yesterday governor of Irak, and is now forced to make his escape upon an ass." Then riding up to him, he asked him if he was asleep (for he had been silent a long time). He said no, he was talking to himself. The other told him he knew what it was that he was saying; it was, "I wish I had not killed Hosein." Obeidollah told him he was mistaken, for he chose rather to kill Hosein than to be killed by him. Then, having first mentioned a few matters about his property, and how he wished to dispose of it, he said that what he was sorry for, and what he was speaking to himself about, was this, that he wished he had fought the Bassorians at the beginning of their revolt, and struck their heads off for their perjury. But perhaps if he had attempted it, he might have lost his own, for the Karegites, who were his mortal enemies, were got to a great head, and resolved either to kill him, or to drive him from Bassorah.
We will leave Obeidollah, therefore, riding upon an ass, and talking to himself, and return to Hosein, who, much about this time, was come back from the siege of Mecca to Damascus. He gave an account of the posture of affairs on that side of the country, and of his having proffered his allegiance to Abdallah, who had refused to accept it, or at least to come into Syria. He told Merwan, and the rest of the family of Ommiyah, that, in the present disorder of their affairs, they would do well to look about them quickly;
that they ought to settle the government before faction, which is both deaf and blind, should overwhelm them. Merwan was for submitting to Abdallah; but Obeidollah, who also had now arrived, told him that it was a shame for a person of his distinction, who was the head of the noble family of the Koreish, to think of anything so mean. The people of Damascus had constituted Dehac, the son of Kais, their protector till the Mussulmans should be agreed upon an Imam. Dehac favoured Abdallah, and Hassan, the son of Malec, was in that part of Palestine that lay near Jordan, and was of the party of the house of Ommiyah. The Bassorians were in tumult and confusion, and could not agree about a governor. During the interregnum, they set up first one, and then another, till at last they wrote to Abdallah, to take the government upon him.
ABDALLAH THE SON OF ZOBEIR, THE
Hejirah 64. A.D. 683.
THERE being two caliphs at the same time, will, of necessity, occasion the repetition of a few circumstances. This however will give no offence to the ingenuous reader. Though Abdallah had been proclaimed before, in the days of Yezid, yet this is the place that our Arabian authors assign him in their histories, because he seemed now to be fully settled and established, all the territories of the Mussulmans, with the single exception of Syria, being under his command. But when we talk of the entire subjection of the Mohammedan countries, we must on all occasions be understood as not speaking of the heretics and schismatics, the Karegites and Motazeli, for they, as we have observed already, would never be subject to any; but on the least prospect of a favourable opportunity, used their utmost efforts to break from off their necks the yoke of all government whatsoever.
As soon as Yezid was dead,* the people of Mecca stood up for Abdallah, the son of Zobeir: Merwan the son of Hakem (who was of the house of Ommiyah) was then at Medina, and was preparing himself to go to Abdallah, and acknowledge him; for all took it for granted that his interest was so powerful, that it would be to no purpose to oppose him; when on a sudden there was a report spread, that Abdallah had sent word to his deputy in Medina, not to leave a man alive of the house of Ommiyah. This proved his ruin; whereas if he had gone along with Hosein, as he wished him, or had he caressed Merwan and the house of Ommiyah, he had been fixed immoveably in the government. But there is no reversing what God hath decreed. When they proclaimed him at Mecca, Obeidollah was at Bassorah, from whence, as we have seen, he afterwards fled into Syria. The Bassorians, Irakians, Hejazians, Yemanians, and Egyptians, all came into Abdallah, who, moreover, had a strong private party even in Syria itself, and in Kinnisrin and Hems. In short, they were very near coming in universally; but he wanted some qualifications necessary for the critical juncture. He was brave and courageous enough, and also exemplarily religious, but he wanted both tact and generosity.
MERWAN THE SON OF HAKEM, THE FOURTH CALIPH OF THE HOUSE OF OMMIYAH, AND THE TENTH AFTER MO
Hejirah 64, 65. A.D. 683, 684.
UPON the rumour of Abdallah's cruel designs against the house of Ommiyah, Merwan made haste into Syria, where his friends came about him, and, resolving to make a bold stand in self-defence, they proclaimed him caliph. Syria was now divided into two factions; Hassan and the Yemanians in Syria, siding with Merwan, and Dehac the son of Kais, with Abdallah. This Dehac was a man of great note; he had been
at the first siege of Damascus, and in the fifty-fourth year Moawiyah made him his deputy over Cufah. Because the general's father's name was Kais, the party that followed him were called Kaisians. There were a great many parleys between the two factions, which it would be tedious to relate. At last the brought it to the decision of a battle in the plains or meadows of Damascus. The issue was, that the Kaisians were shamefully beaten, Dehac himself being killed, and a great slaughter made amongst the horse. When the Kaisians were routed, Merwan sounded a retreat, and would not suffer his men to pursue. With Dehac, no less than fourscore of the nobles of Syria were killed. When Dehac's head was brought to Merwan, he expressed some concern, and said, "That I who am an old man, whose bones are wasted, and am next to nothing, should bring armies together to break one another in pieces!"
He then went into Damascus, and took up his lodgings at the house where Moawiyah used to reside. There he married Yezid's widow, for it had been agreed Merwan should not transfer the government to his own posterity, but leave it to Yezid's son Kaled, who was then a minor, and of whom the people had some expectation. Wherefore his friends thought it safer for him to marry Kaled's mother, and take upon him the guardianship of the child, than run the risk of standing upon the sole foundation of his own interest.
When the news of the defeat of the Kaisians and the death of Dehac came to Emessa, which was under the command of Nooman the son of Bashir, he fled away with his wife and family. The Emessians, however, pursued him, and cut off his head, and brought it, together with his wife and family, to Emessa.
Merwan after this marched towards Egypt, and sent before him Amrou the son of Saïd, who, going into Egypt, turned out Abdallah's lieutenant, and brought the Egyptians to own Merwan for their sovereign. As Merwan was upon his return to Damascus, news was brought him that Abdallah had sent his brother Musab against him with an army; wherefore he turned back and routed Musab before he entered Damascus.
This year the people of Khorassan chose Salem the son of Ziyad, who was their former governor, for their protector, till