Thursday, December 20, 2012

'Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr

‘Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr (b. May 624, Medina, Arabia - d. November 692, Mecca, Arabia), also known as ‘Abdallah ibn al-Zubayr or 'Abd Allah ibn az-Zubayr, was an anti-caliph and a challenger to the Umayyads from 683 to 692. Upon Mu‘awiya’s death in 680, ‘Abd Allah, together with the Prophet’s grandson Husayn, refused allegiance to caliph Yazid at Damascus and fled to Mecca, where ‘Abd Allah proclaimed himself Commander of the Believers (amir al-mu'minin), the title adopted by ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab on his election as caliph in 634.  After a six months’ siege, during which the Ka‘ba came under bombardment, Mecca was taken by Yazid’s general al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf in 692 and ‘Abd Allah was slain. 

ʿAbd Allāh ibn al-Zubayr was the leader of a rebellion against the Umayyad ruling dynasty of the Islāmic empire, and the most prominent representative of the second generation of Muslim families in Mecca, who resented the Umayyad assumption of caliphal authority.

As a youth Ibn al-Zubayr went on many of the military campaigns that marked the initial expansion of Islam and, in 651, he was nominated by the caliph (the titular leader of the Islamic empire) ʿUthman to aid in compiling an official recension (revision) of the Qurʾan. Subsequently remaining politically inactive, he took little part in the civil wars that followed the death of ʿUthman in 656. Resenting the Umayyad victory that was the eventual outcome of the civil wars, he refused to take an oath of allegiance to Yazid, the son and heir presumptive of Muʿawiyah, the first Umayyad caliph. When Yazid became caliph in 680, Ibn al-Zubayr still refused the oath of allegiance and fled to Mecca. There he secretly gathered an army. Yazid learned of this and dispatched forces of his own, which besieged Ibn al-Zubayr in Mecca. In 683, Yazid died, and the besieging army withdrew. Ibn al-Zubayr was left in peace until 692, when the caliph ʿAbd al-Malik sent an army to Mecca to force him to submit. Mecca was again besieged, and Ibn al-Zubayr was killed in the fighting.

Ibn al-Zubayr was an Arab sahabi whose father was Zubayr ibn al-Awwam, and whose mother was Asma bint Abi Bakr, daughter of the first Caliph Abu Bakr. He was the nephew of Aisha, third wife of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad.

Ibn al-Zubayr was a member of the Bani Assad tribe and was born one year and 8 months after the hijra of Muhammad to Medina (Madinah). As such, he was the first Muslim child born in Medina (Madinah). As a young man, 'Abd Allah was an active participant in numerous Muslim campaigns against both the Byzantine and Sassanid empires. He marched to Sbeitla, Tunisia, the capital of self-proclaimed local emperor Gregory the Patrician. Gregory was defeated and killed in the Battle of Sufetula in 647 CE.

Ibn al-Zubayr was not active in politics during the reign of Mu'awiyah I, but upon the ascension of Yazid I, he refused to swear allegiance to the new caliph. He advised Husayn ibn 'Ali to make Mecca (Makkah) his base and fight against Yazid.  When Husayn was killed in Karbala, Ibn al-Zubayr collected the people of Mecca (Makkah) and made an impassioned speech.

After his speech, the people of Mecca (Makkah) declared that no one deserved the caliphate more than Ibn al-Zubayr and requested to take an oath of allegiance to his caliphate. When he heard about this, Yazid had a silver chain made and sent to Mecca (Makkah) with the intention of having Walid ibn Utbah arrest Ibn al-Zubayr with it.

One of his supporters, Muslim ibn Shihab, was the father of Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri who became a famous scholar.

Eventually Ibn Zubayr consolidated his power by sending a governor to Kufa. Soon, Ibn Zubayr established his power in Iraq, southern Arabia and in the greater part of Syria, and parts of Egypt. Ibn Zubayr benefitted greatly from widespread dissatisfaction among the populace with Umayyad rule. Yazid tried to end Ibn Zubayr's rebellion by invading the Hejaz, and took Medina after the bloody Battle of al-Harrah followed by the siege of Mecca (Makkah) but his sudden death ended the campaign and threw the Umayyads into disarray with civil war eventually breaking out.

This essentially split the Islamic empire into two spheres with two different caliphs, but soon the Umayyad civil war was ended, and Ibn Zubayr lost Egypt and whatever he had of Syria to Marwan I. This coupled with the Kharijite rebellions in Iraq reduced his domain to only the Hejaz.

Ibn Zubayr was finally defeated by Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, who sent Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf to reunite the Islamic empire. Hajjaj defeated and killed Ibn Zubayr on the battlefield in 692, beheading him and crucifying his body, re-establishing Umayyad control over the Islamic Empire.

Alternative names include:

'Abd Allah al-Zubair
'Abd Allah al-Zubayr

'Abd Allah ibn al-Zubair
'Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr
‘Abdallah ibn al-Zubayr
'Abd Allah ibn az-Zubayr
Al-Zubair, 'Abd Allah ibn
Al-Zubayr, 'Abd Allah
Ibn al-Zubair
Ibn al-Zubair, 'Abd Allah
Ibn al-Zubayr
Ibn al-Zubayr, 'Abd Allah
Ibn al-Zubayr
Ibn al-Zubayr, 'Abdallah
Ibn az-Zubayr
Ibn az-Zubayr, 'Abd Allah
Zubair, 'Abd Allah ibn al-
Zubayr, 'Abd Allah al-

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