baya, Caliphate, Featured, Ruling

Part 2: Bay’a in Islamic History – The Umayyad Khilafah

Disputes broke out many times throughout the Khilafah’s 1300-year history over who should govern the state. One thing remained constant however and that was the bay’a. No Khaleefah ever came to power without the bay’a, and this method of appointing the ruler continued until 1924.

1.    Mu’awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan (41H/661CE – 60H/680CE)

The Civil War between Mu’awiyah and Ali

During the civil war between Mu’awiya and Ali, Mu’awiya never claimed the Khilafah for himself or took the bay’a for himself. Rather he made his bay’a conditional on Ali handing over Uthman’s assassins which Ali was unable to fulfil at that time.

Abu Muslim Al-Khawlani and a group of people said to Mu’awiyah: “Do you disagree with Ali or are you like him?” So Mu’awiyah said: “No, By Allah! I know that Ali is better than me, and he has more right to the leadership than me. However, do you not know that Uthman was killed wrongfully!? I am his cousin (‘Uthman’s cousin), and I am asking for his blood, so go to Ali and tell him this. So let him give up the killers of Uthman and I will give up (the leadership).” So they went to Ali and told him and spoke to him about it, but he did not give them up to Mu’awiyah.[1]

As discussed previously Al-Abbas contracted the bay’a to Ali in Madinah, the capital of the Khilafah, and all the Muslims in Madinah consented to this. Mu’awiya was not involved in the contracting of the bay’a and his consent was not necessary for Ali to become the Khaleefah because the Ahlul hali wal-aqd i.e. senior sahaba were in Madinah.

Once the bay’a is contracted legitimately to a Khaleefah (bay’a al-in’iqaad), then the rest of the ummah is bound by this bay’a and have to fulfil its conditions. This entails obedience to the Khaleefah inwardly and outwardly as the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Whosoever gave a bay’a to an Imam, giving him the clasp of his hand, and the fruit of his heart shall obey him as long as he can, and if another comes to dispute with him, you must strike the neck of that man.”[2] This is called the bay’a of obedience (bay’a at-taa’ah). If the ummah withhold their bay’a of obedience and rebel, then it’s the right of the Khaleefah to use force if necessary to quell the rebellion and reunite them with the state. This is what Ali did when he confronted Mu’awiya.

When the Byzantine Emperor heard about this dispute, he tried to take advantage of it and marched to Ash-Sham with a large number of troops. Mu’awiyah wrote to him, saying: “By Allah, if you do not give up and go back to your own country, Oh cursed one, I shall reconcile with my cousin against you, and I shall drive you from all of your land and leave you no room on earth, vast as it is.” At that point, the Byzantine Emperor got scared and refrained from fighting, and he sent a message asking for a truce.”[3]

This shows that Islam was always the central reference point in the Khilafah even though elements were misapplied from time to time through weak ijtihad by the Khaleefahs.

Who were the Ahlul hali wal-aqd in Mu’awiya’s time?

After the abdication of al-Hasan ibn Ali, Mu’awiyah was accepted as the legitimate Khaleefah by the Ahlul hali wal-aqd residing in Madinah, Iraq and Ash-Sham,and by the majority of the Muslim masses. The capital of the Khilafah moved from Kufa to Damascus where Mu’awiyah and his tribe Banu Umayyah, and the Yamani tribal groups which gave him support were now based. Part of the Ahlul hali wal-aqd were therefore now based in Ash-Sham. Quraysh, the sahaba and tab’ieen were dispersed throughout the Khilafah but there was still a strong powerbase in Madinah and Mu’awiya would not have a legitimate bay’a without their consent.

In Ash-Sham, Mu’awiya was primarily dependent on Banu Kalb who were part of the Yamani tribes from Southern Arabia who had settled there before Islam. They were initially Christian Arabs and part of the Byzantine Empire, but started converting to Islam during the time of the Prophet ﷺ and throughout the Rightly Guided Khilafah. One of Mu’awiya’s wives was Maysun bint Bahdal al-Kalbiyah, the daughter of a leader of Banu Kalb and the mother of Yazid ibn Mu’awiya.

A number of Muslim Yamani tribes also settled in Ash-Sham during the time of Abu Bakr, when he wrote a letter to Yemen requesting they join the Islamic conquest of Ash-Sham.[4] Some of the prominent Yamani tribes were Kalb, Tanukh, Judham, Kindah, Azd and Taghlib.[5]

Another tribal group was the Qaysi tribes from Northern Arabia who settled in Ash-Sham and Iraq during the Islamic conquests of the Rightly Guided Khaleefahs, and so were relative newcomers to the region. The Qaysi tribes consisted of Tamim, Ghatafan, Hawazin, Banu Amir, Thaqif, Banu Sulaym, Kilab and Bahila to name but a few.[6]

These tribal groupings became a powerbase during the time of Mu’awiya and throughout the Umayyad period, and were effectively part of the Ahlul hali wal-aqd who supported the Umayyad Khaleefahs. This shift in the people of power and influence is important to understand when we come to discuss the bay’a to Yazid ibn Mu’awiya.

Qaysi and Yamani tribal groupings

As mentioned previously, al-Hasan’s motivation for resigning from the Khilafah was to restart the Islamic conquests which had halted after Uthman’s assassination, and to deal with the other territories who had taken advantage of the situation and rebelled in the East. Al-Hasan said, “I have been thinking of going to Madinah to settle there and yielding (the Khilafah) to Mu’awiya. The turmoil has gone on for too long, blood has been shed, ties of kinship have been severed, the roads have become unsafe, and the borders have been neglected.”[7]

Expansion of the Islamic State

Once Mu’awiya became Khaleefah the conquests resumed on three fronts:

  1. Byzantine Empire
  2. North Africa
  3. Sijistan, Khorasan and Transoxiana in the East which had rebelled

Mu’awiya outlined his foreign policy when he said, “Tighten the stranglehold on the Byzantines so that you will be able to gain control over other nations.”[8]

The Beginning of Hereditary Rule

Mu’awiya’s rule marks the end of the Rightly Guided Khilafah and the beginning of the Umayyad Khilafah based on hereditary rule. The Prophet ﷺ said, “The Khilafah in my Ummah will be for thirty years. Then there will be mulk (kingdom) after that.”[9]

Ibn Kathir says, “The first monarchy began with the rule of Mu‘awiyah, making him the first king (malik) in Islam and the best of them all.”[10]

The reason the ulema used the title Malik for the Umayyad and Abbasid Khaleefahs was because these Khaleefahs were not following completely in the footsteps of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ when it came to ruling. Abu Bakr, the first Khaleefah was given this title because Khaleefah means successor, and Abu Bakr was a successor to the Prophet ﷺ in ruling. Mawardi says, “He is called the Khaleefah (successor) as he stands in for the Messenger of Allah at the head of his Ummah and so it is permitted for someone say, ‘Oh Khaleefah of the Messenger of Allah!’ or for someone to say, ‘Khaleefah’ on its own.”[11]

Umar ibn al-Khattab said, “By Allah, I do not know whether I am a Khaleefah or a king, for if I am a king then this is a tremendous matter.” Someone said, “Amir al-Mu’minin, there is a distinction between the two of them.” He said, “What is it?” He said, “A Khaleefah does not take except what is due and he does not use it except in the right way, and you, praise be to Allah, are like that. The king treats people unjustly, and takes from this one and gives to that one.” ‘Umar was silent.[12]

It should be noted that the Khaleefah was never sovereign like the Byzantine and Persian Emperors because sovereignty was always to the sharia.

How did Mu’awiyah make Yazid his successor?

In the year 56H/675CE, Mu’awiya made his son Yazid the wali al-ahd (heir apparent), instigating the start of hereditary rule within the Khilafah which would last until 1924.

Al-Hasan al-Baṣri said: Two men put disorder into people’s affair. First, ʿAmr ibn al-ʿAs when he advised Mu’awiya to raise the copies of the Qurʾan and they were lifted up. He said, “Where are the reciters (al-qurraʾ)?” Then the Khawarij asserted that judgement only belongs to Allah. This assertion of Allah’s judgement will continue until the Day of Rising.

Second, al-Mughira ibn Shuʿba, when he was Mu’awiya’s governor over Kufa and Mu’awiya wrote to him, “When you read my letter, come to me, dismissed from your office.” But he delayed and when he finally came to him, Mu’awiya asked, “What took you so long?” Al-Mughira replied, “An affair that I had to settle.” He said, “And what was that?” He said, “The bay’a for Yazid’s succession after you.” He said, “And did you complete it?” He replied, “Yes.” Then Mu’awiya said, “Return to your post.” When al-Mughira departed, his companions asked him how it went and he replied, “I have placed Mu’awiya’s foot in a stirrup of error, in which it will remain until the Day of Rising.”

Al-Hasan al-Basri added: Therefore, they have taken bay’a for their sons and were it not for that, it would have been a matter of consultation (shura) until the Day of Rising.[13]

After receiving al-Mughira ibn Shuʿba’s advice on appointing his son Yazid, Mu’awiya embarked on a campaign to bring this in to fruition.

The first attempts at taking bay’a for Yazid started prior to 50H because al-Mughira ibn Shuʿba died during the plague of Kufa in 50H. Mu’awiya’s initial attempts failed due to widespread opposition from the sahaba and the Ahlul hali wal-aqd of the regions.

When Ziyad ibn Abi Sufyan, Governor of Iraq and Khorasan died in 53H. Mu’awiya again attempted to bring up the issue. He sent 100,000 dirhams to Abdullah ibn Umar but Ibn Umar refused to be bribed and this attempt also failed.[14]

Then in the year 56H Mu’awiya finally managed to force the issue and made Yazid the wali al-ahd (heir apparent) by taking the bay’a from the Ahlul hali wal-aqd of the regions.

Ibn Kathir narrates the events of 56H. This was the year in which Mu’awiyah called on the people, including those within the outlying territories, to pledge allegiance to his son, Yazid, to be his heir to the Khilafah after him. Almost all the subjects offered their allegiance, with the exception of ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Abu Bakr, ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar, al-Hussain bin ‘Ali, ‘Abdullah bin Az-Zubayr and Ibn ‘Abbas.

Because of this, Mu’awiyah passed through al-Madinah on his way back from Makkah upon completion of his ‘Umrah, where he summoned each one of the five aforementioned individuals and threatened, intimidated and imprisoned them. The speaker who addressed Mu’awiyah sharply, with the greatest firmness amongst them was ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Abu Bakr as-Siddiq, while ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar bin al-Khattab was the most soft spoken amongst them. Mu’awiyah then delivered a sermon, having stood these five men below the pulpit in full view of the people, after which the people pledged allegiance to Yazid as they (five sahabi) stood in silence without displaying their disagreement or opposition for fear of being humiliated and threatened. This was done in the other regions of the country in order to facilitate the progress of pledging allegiance to Yazid.[15]

The five sahabi remained silent and did not rebel against Mu’awiya because they were acting on the hadith of the Messenger ﷺ, ‘There will be ameers, you recognise (something of what they do) and you reject (some). Whosoever recognised, he would be absolved (of sin) and whosoever rejected, he would be safe. But whosoever accepted and followed (what they do, he would not be safe).’ They (the Sahabah) asked ‘Shouldn’t we fight them?’ He ﷺ said: ‘No, as long as they pray.’[16]

Imam Nawawi’s explanation of the hadith on accounting the rulers

Imam Nawawi explains the meaning of the, ‘Shouldn’t we fight them?’ He said; ‘No, as long as they pray’. In it is the meaning of what preceded this, that khurooj (rebellion) is not allowed against the Khulufaa’ due to their oppression or transgression as long as they don’t change anything from the principles of Islam.[17]

The five senior sahabi were part of the Ahlul hali wal-aqd and as such Mu’awiya had to get their consent for the bay’a after his death to be valid.

The Five Senior Sahabi of Madinah
al-Hussain bin Ali
Abdur-Rahman bin Abu Bakr
Abdullah ibn Umar
Abdullah ibn Az-Zubayr
Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas

When Mu’awiyah came to Madinah he sent for al-Hussain bin Ali saying, “Oh cousin, the people have been able to acknowledge Yazid except for five persons of the Quraysh whom you lead. Oh cousin, what is your purpose in disagreeing?” He replied, “Do I lead them?” Mu’awiyah replied that he did.[18]

It should be noted that bay’a is a contract between the Muslims and the Khaleefah. Bay’a cannot be given to a successor while the previous Khaleefah is still in office, as Mu’awiya did. Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr said to Mu’awiya, “Allegiance to both of you can never be combined.”[19] Making Yazid the crown prince was not a valid bay’a but simply a contract of nomination (wilayatul ‘ahd). After Mu’awiya’s death the Muslim representatives were free to dispose of this nomination and choose someone else if they so wished. This is similar to Abu Bakr’s nomination of Umar. The bay’a was only given to Umar ibn Al-Khattab after Abu Bakr had passed away.

Although Mu’awiya tried to justify his actions by what Abu Bakr did in nominating Umar, this is invalid because as discussed earlier Abu Bakr took shura from the ummah and chose someone based on meritocracy not familial ties. The people said to Abu Bakr, “O Khaleefah of the Messenger Allah, your opinion is our opinion (i.e., appoint your successor for us).” He said, “Then give me some time, so that I can see what is best in the view of Allah and what is best for His religion and His slaves.”[20]

Mu’awiya had initially tried to take bay’a for Yazid via his governor in Madinah Marwan ibn Al-Hakam. He wrote to Marwan to take the bay’a and Marwan addressed the people: “The Ameer of the Believers has decided to appoint his son, Yazid, as his successor over you, according to the sunna of Abu Bakr and ʿUmar.” Abd ar-Rahman ibn Abi Bakr stood up and said, “Rather, according to the sunna of Khusraw and Caesar! Abu Bakr and ʿUmar did not appoint their sons to it, nor anyone from their families.”[21]

Later when Mu’awiya came in person to Madinah to take the bay’a, Abu Bakr’s other son Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr said to him, “You want us to entrust you to Allah in the affair of your son, but, by Allah, we will not do that. By Allah, return this affair as a matter of shura among the Muslims or we will bring it against you all over again.”[22]

From these statements it is clear that the core issue on why the sahaba opposed Yazid was due to him taking the bay’a through hereditary rule rather than shura and meritocracy. If Mu’awiya had chosen based on merit then he would have chosen al-Hussain or Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr or another of the sahabi, as the sahaba are of a distinguished rank unmatched by anyone as Allah says, “The forerunners (sabiqun) – the first of the Muhajirun and the Ansar – and those who have followed them in doing good: Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him.”[23]

As mentioned Mawardi says: “Imamate comes into being in two ways: the first of these is by the election of the Ahlul hali wal-aqd, and the second is by the delegation of the previous Imam.”[24] But he puts conditions on this delegation if he is appointing a close relative. He says, “If the Imam wants to entrust the Imamate to a successor he should strive to arrive at a clear decision as to who has the greatest claim to it and who best fulfils its conditions. If, in his effort to decide, someone becomes clear to him, then this choice should be examined: if it is neither his son nor father, he may, on his own, make the bay’a to him and may delegate authority to him without taking council with any of the electors. There is a difference of opinion, however, as to whether or not there must be some sign of acceptance on their part of the contracting and execution of his act of allegiance.

Some of the ‘ulama of the people of Basra maintain that the electors’ (Ahlul hali wal-aqd) acceptance of his transfer of allegiance must exist before it is binding on the Ummah as it is a right which belongs to the electors and the transfer of Imamate is not binding on the Ummah except with the acceptance of those amongst them involved in the election.

The valid position is that this transfer of allegiance stands and that their acceptance of it is not taken into consideration as the act of allegiance to ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, was not dependent upon the acceptance of the companions and as the Imam has more right over the Imamate than them – his choice of another for the Imamate takes precedence and his word in the matter is executed.

If the successor is his son or father there are three differences of opinion as to whether he is permitted to carry out the transfer of Imamate alone.

The first of these is that it is not permitted until he has sought counsel of the electors and they consider that he is worthy of this post: if this does happen his act of allegiance to a successor is validated as this seeking of council is like an assessment of his integrity and has the same value as a testimony and the appointment conferred on him over the Ummah has the same value as a legal judgement.[25]

Why did Mu’awiya appoint his son?

The capital of the Khilafah was now in Damascus and as such, some of the Ahlul hali wal-aqd from the Arab tribes were in Ash-Sham. Mu’awiya feared that the Arab tribes in Ash-Sham would not accept someone from outside Banu Umayyah to lead them. He said to Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr after he refused to give bay’a to Yazid, “Take it easy, man. Don’t go close to the Syrians. I fear that they will anticipate me regarding you (i.e. kill you) unless I announce in the evening that you have pledged allegiance. Afterwards do whatever seems proper to you.”

After failing to get support from the sahaba in Madinah, Mu’awiya ascended the minbar, praised Allah and said, “We found what people say is wrong. They claim that Ibn ʿUmar, Ibn az-Zubayr and Ibn Abi Bakr did not pledge allegiance to Yazid, but they did hear, obey and pledge allegiance to him.” But the Syrians said, “No, by Allah! We will not be satisfied until they pledge allegiance to him in public. If they don’t, we will cut off their heads!” Mu’awiya replied, “Glory be to Allah, how quick people are to harm Quraysh! I do not want to hear this kind of talk from anyone after today.”

Then he descended. The people said, “Ibn ʿUmar, Ibn Abi Bakr and Ibn az-Zubayr pledged allegiance,” whereas they said, “No, by Allah, we did not pledge allegiance.” But the people maintained that they did (pledge allegiance). Mu’awiya then departed and returned to Syria.[26]

Ibn Khaldoon says, “What prompted Mu‘awiyah to give precedence to his son Yazid and appoint him as Khaleefah, rather than anyone else, was the belief that this would serve the interests of the Muslims by uniting them and bringing them together behind one man, with the approval of the decision-makers at that time, who were from Banu Umayyah, because at that time Banu Umayyah would not accept anyone (as Khaleefah) except one of their own number. They were the strongest clan of Quraysh and the ones who had the greatest influence.

So Mu‘awiyah preferred Yazid, over others who may have been thought more qualified than him for that reason, and he overlooked others who were more virtuous in favour of one who was less virtuous, because he was keen to keep the Muslims united behind one leader, which is a matter of great importance in Islamic teachings. It is not possible to think of any other motive for Mu‘awiyah than that, because his good character and the fact that he was a Sahaabi would rule out any other motive.

The fact that some of the senior Sahaabah were present and kept quiet indicates that there was nothing suspicious in what Mu‘awiyah did, because such people would not be deterred from speaking out against something wrong, and Mu‘awiyah was not one of those who would be too arrogant to accept the word of truth. All of them were too noble to do that, and their good character would rule it out.”[27]

He also says, “Mu’awiyah issued instructions for Yazid to become Khaleefah for fear of the Muslims becoming divided.”[28]

One of the benefits cited for a monarchy is the clear line of succession for future rulers of the kingdom. Historically, this was seen as providing a stable system that prevents a power vacuum after the King dies. While Mu’awiya may have had good intentions in appointing Yazid and wanting to stabilise the Khilafah after his death, in actuality this deviation from shura and instituting hereditary rule had the opposite effect. Allah says, “Perhaps you dislike something which is good for you and like something which is bad for you. Allah knows and you do not know.”[29]

2.    Yazid ibn Mu’awiyah (60H/680CE – 64H/683CE)

Was Yazid a Legitimate Khaleefah?

There is ikhtilaaf (difference of opinion) among the ulema on Yazid’s legitimacy. Many scholars accept he was a legitimate Khaleefah such as Al-Dhahabi, but that he was sinful and blameworthy for the oppression and persecution he committed against the sahaba, and the murder of al-Hussain and his family. Others such as ibn al-Jawzi reject his legitimacy and call him a usurper, because he never had a legally convened bay’a that was given through free choice and consent by the majority of the Ahlul hali wal-aqd (political representatives of the ummah).

Al-Dhahabi says, “(Yazid) he was the commander of that army during the campaign against Constantinople, among which were people such as Abu Ayyoob al-Ansaari. Yazid was appointed by his father as his heir, so he took power after his father died in Rajab 60 AH at the age of thirty-three, but his reign lasted for less than four years.

Yazid is one of those whom we neither curse nor love. There are others like him among the Khaleefahs of the two states (Umayyad and Abbasid) and the governors of various regions, indeed there were some among them who were worse than him. But the issue in the case of Yazid is that he came to power forty-nine years after the death of the Prophet ﷺ, and it was still close to the time of the Prophet and some of the Sahaabah were still alive such as Ibn ‘Umar who was more entitled to the position than him or his father or his grandfather.

His reign began with the killing of the martyr al-Hussain and it ended with the battle of al-Harrah, so the people hated him and he was not blessed with a long life. There were many revolts against him after al-Hussain, such as the people of Madeenah who revolted for the sake of Allaah, and Ibn az-Zubayr.”[30]

It was mentioned in the Tafseer of Al-Alusi: “Ibn al-Jawzi (May Allah’s mercy be upon him) stated in his book: ‘As-Sirr ul-Masun’: “From the general beliefs that is prevalent amongst those attributed to the Sunnah is that they say: That Yazid was in the right and that Al-Hussain (ra) was wrong to rebel against him. Had they examined the Seerahs they would have become aware of how the bay’a was contracted to him and that the people were compelled with it! And that he did every ugly (or abominable) act. If we would have evaluated the Sihhah (correctness and validity) of the bay’a contract, then there appeared from it all that would oblige the annulment of the contract. Nobody inclines to that view except every ignorant person, blind in the Madhhab who believes that by adopting that opinion he is being harsh against the Rawaafid (i.e. Shi’ah).”[31]

The Ahlul hali wal-aqd resided in three areas at the time of Yazid. These centres of power were:

  1. Ash-Sham with Damascus as the capital of the Khilafah and seat of central government.
  2. Iraq – Kufa and Basra
  3. Hijaz – Makkah and Madinah

The Ahlul hali wal-aqd in Damascus and Ash-Sham gave bay’a to Yazid, but this is not enough because free consent and choice is required from all the Muslims, and so the political representatives who resided in the Hijaz and Iraq also needed to give consent. Mawardi says, “Those living in the country of the Imam do not possess any advantages over those living in other countries: it is rather that someone resident in the country of the Imam contracts to elect the Imam by custom not by any legal imposition of the shari’a; moreover such residents will come to know of the death of the Imam before people from other countries and usually the person who is most fitting for the succession is to be found in the country of the Imam.”[32]

The strongest opinion on this issue is that of ibn Al-Jawzi which is that Yazid did not have a legally convened (sihah) bay’a. This is why the Muslims of Madinah, Makkah and Kufa all rebelled against Yazid’s authority, which is their right (haqq) in fighting an injustice mazlama. The evidence for fighting the usurper is clearly established from the sunnah and ijma as-Sahaba.

As for the sunnah. In the Musnad of Ahmad Bin Hanbal he recorded the Messenger of Allah ﷺ saying:

مَنْ قُتِلَ دُونَ مَظْلَمَتِهِ فَ هُوَ شَهِيدٌ

“Whoever is killed in defence of an injustice (Mazlamah) against him, he is Shaheed.”[33]

The ightisaab (usurpation) of the authority from the Ummah is a Mazlamah from amongst the Mazhaalim (acts of injustice), and it is the Ummah’s right to fight to regain what was usurped from them. Whoever is killed in that fighting is a Shaheed.

Ahmad Bin Hanbal also related in his Musnad that the Nabi ﷺ said:

نِعْمَ الْمِيتَةُ أَنْ يَمُوتَ الرَّجُلُ دُونَ حَقِهِ

“What an excellent death it is for the man to die in defence of his Haqq (right).”[34]

The Sultah (authority) is a Haqq for the Ummah and as such it is her right to fight until death to regain this right from the one who has taken it without right!

As for the ijma as-Sahaba. Umar ibn Al-Khattab in a public speech said, “I have been informed that a speaker amongst you says, ‘By Allah, if Umar should die, I will give the bay’a to such-and-such person.’

One should not deceive oneself by saying that the bay’a given to Abu Bakr was given and completed suddenly. No doubt, it was like that, but Allah protected (the people) from its evil, and there is none among you who has the qualities of Abu Bakr. Remember that whoever gives the bay’a to anybody among you without consulting the other Muslims, neither that person, nor the person to whom the bay’a was given, are to be supported, lest they both should be killed.”

‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab then continued his Khutbah and came to the story of the bay’a that was given to Abu Bakr and how it happened in a sudden manner: “That it happened suddenly without prior consultation, but Allah protected the Muslims from the evil of disagreement in the selection of Abu Bakr due to everyone’s admission of his favour and merit, his precedence and the fact that he had the most right to the Khilafah, and so they (thereafter) gave him the bay’a out of willing choice …”

Umar continued: “So, if any person gives the bay’a to somebody (to become a Khaleefah) without consulting the other Muslims, then the one he has selected should not be granted allegiance, lest both of them should be killed.”[35]

Dr Muhammad Khair Haikal comments on this speech of Umar. “This is the speech of ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab delivered to a gathering of Fuqahaa’ from the Sahaabah immediately following the Hajj season in relation to the subject of the usurpation of the authority in addition to what was mentioned in Fat’h ul-Baari in terms of the explanation of Al-Khattaabi. The intended purpose of presenting this speech of ‘Umar’s (ra) and the explanation for it, is to show that ‘Umar Ibn ‘Al-Khattaab warned those who sought to attribute the authority to a particular person, being content to not present the matter to consultation amongst the individuals of the Ummah and its representatives. In addition, that the one who does that is exposing himself to being killed just as the one who wanted to attribute the authority to him would also be exposed to being killed.

The sahaabah listened to this speech and none spoke out against what was said. Consequently, it represented and Ijmaa’ (consensus) upon what was mentioned in terms of the obligation to take the opinion of the Muslims in respect to whom is chosen to be a Khalifah over them. Just as it represented an Ijmaa’ (consensus) over the matter to beware of those who want to usurp the affairs of the Muslims as ‘Umar expressed in his speech. And it also represents a consensus upon that being killed (i.e. the punishment of death) lies in wait for those usurpers, those who have gone outside from the method of shura to arrive to the position of the authority, and that it (i.e. death) applies equally to those who aspire and have ambition for the Khilafah and those who support them!”[36]

Although some of the sahaba such as Abdullah ibn Umar and Abdullah ibn Abbas gave bay’a to Yazid freely and with consent, the majority in Madinah did not give consent and they refused to submit to his authority. Ibn Umar and Ibn Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them) were following their own ijtihad on the issue, but this is their individual opinion. In sharia the individual opinion of a sahabi is not a sharia daleel. Only the collective agreement (ijma) on an issue is a daleel (evidence). In the case of fighting the usurper there is explicit evidence from the sunnah and ijma as-sahaba as mentioned above, and this is what the majority of the sahaba and tabi’een followed and Allah knows best.

What happened when Yazid came to power?

After Mu’awiya died, Yazid was given the bay’a by the Ahlul hali wal-aqd of Ash-Sham but the Ahlul hali wal-aqd from among the senior sahaba and tabi’een were split. The collective consensus of the sahaba (ijma) is a sharia evidence for us, but the individual opinion and ijtihad of a sahabi is not. Someone is free to adopt or disagree with such an opinion as the scholars of the past have done. With regards to Yazid, each sahabi was following a valid ijtihad and as such there is no blame on them for what they did since they are the best generation.

The core issue on why the sahaba opposed Yazid was due to him corrupting the bay’a by transferring it from shura and meritocracy to hereditary rule. This was a vital issue for them and is why they sacrificed their lives. This can be seen from their numerous statements as discussed previously. If Mu’awiya had chosen based on merit then he would have chosen al-Hussain or Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr or another of the sahabi, as the sahaba are of a distinguished rank unmatched by anyone as Allah says, “The forerunners (sabiqun) – the first of the Muhajirun and the Ansar – and those who have followed them in doing good: Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him.”[37]

A Timeline of events

DateEvent
15 Rajab 60HYazid is appointed ‘Khaleefah’ with a contracting bay’a from the tribes in Ash-Sham.[38]  
Rajab 60HAl-Walid ibn Utbah, the governor of Madinah tries to take the bay’a forcibly from Ibn Umar, Ibn Zubayr and al-Hussain.[39]  
26 Rajab 60HIbn Zubayr and his brother Ja’far leave for Makkah at night. Al-Walid sends 30 or 80 horsemen after him but they fail to stop him.[40]  
27 Rajab 60HAl-Hussain and his family leave for Makkah at night. Al-Walid is distracted by his pursuit of ibn Zubayr allowing al-Hussain to escape.[41]  
Sha’ban 60HIbn Abbas and Ibn Umar give bay’a to Yazid via the governor of Madinah Al-Walid.[42]  
Ramadan 60HAl-Walid ibn Utbah is removed from Madinah for failing to take the bay’a from ibn Zubayr and al-Hussain. His replacement is Amr bin Sa’id who arrives in Madinah during this month.[43]  
Ramadan 60HThe people of Kufa send messengers to al-Hussain requesting he comes to them so they can give him bay’a and appoint him Khaleefah.[44]  
Ramadan 60HAl-Hussain dispatches his cousin Muslim ibn ‘Aqil ibn Abi Talib to investigate the Kufan’s offer.[45]  
Shawwal 60HMuslim ibn ‘Aqil arrives in Kufa and 12,000 pledge allegiance to al-Hussain. Ibn ‘Aqil writes to al-Hussain informing him of this so al-Hussain makes preparations to leave Makkah for Kufa.[46]  
Shawwal 60H Dhul Qa’dah 60HAl-Nu’man ibn Bashir does not oppose the plans of the Kufans. When Yazid ibn Mu’awiyah is informed of this replaces Al-Nu’man with Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad who at the time was the governor of Basra, so ibn Ziyad had Kufa under his authority as well.[47]  
Dhul Qa’dah 60HYazid ibn Mu’awiyah sends messengers to Abdullah Ibn az-Zubayr in Makkah trying to force him to pledge his allegiance. Ibn az-Zubayr refuses.[48]  
Dhul Qa’dah 60H‘Amr ibn az-Zubayr is then sent by the governor of Madinah Amr bin Sa’id with an army of 2,000 to attack his brother in Makkah.[49]  
Dhul Hijjah 60HUbaydullah ibn Ziyad arrives in Kufa heavily veiled so people don’t know who he is and assume he is al-Hussain. Every group he passes by says to him, “Greetings, son of the daughter of the Messenger of Allah.”[50]  
Dhul Hijjah 60HUbaydullah ibn Ziyad starts working to thwart the plans of Muslim ibn ‘Aqil and is successful in this. He executes Muslim ibn ‘Aqil along with his main protector Hani ibn Urwah.[51]  
8 Dhul Hijjah 60HAl-Hussain, unaware of the events in Kufa, departs from Makkah with his family.[52]  
Dhul Hijjah 60H‘Amr ibn az-Zubayr fails to defeat his brother Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr, and Makkah remains outside of Yazid’s authority for the rest of his rule.[53]  
10 Muharram 61HHussain and 72 of his followers are martyred at Karbala by the army of Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad.  
61HIbn az-Zubayr starts making preparations to take the bay’a but isn’t formally contracted as Khaleefah until after Yazid dies.[54]  
61HThe people of Madinah write to Ibn az-Zubayr saying that since al-Hussain has gone, there was no one who can dispute with him, as he is the next most suitable candidate for the post of Khaleefah.[55]  
61HAmr bin Said is removed and Al-Walid ibn Utbah is reappointed as governor.[56]  
62HYazid removes Al-Walid ibn Utbah and appoints his cousin Uthman ibn Muhammad ibn Abi Sufyan as governor of Madinah.[57]  
62HA delegation from the Ahlul hali wal-aqd ofMadinah is invited by Yazid to Damascus headed by Abdullah ibn Hanzalah al-Ghasil al-Ansari.[58]  
62HWhen the delegation returns to Madinah, they publicly repudiate Yazid and make Abdullah ibn Hanzalah their leader.[59]  
62HYazid dispatches al-Nu’man ibn Bashir al-Ansari to Madinah to try and persuade them to desist from their rebellion, but al-Nu’man’s efforts fail.[60]  
63HThe governor of Madinah Uthman bin Muhammad is deposed by the people and replaced with Abdullah ibn Hanzalah. The people of Madinah lay siege to Banu Umayyah in the city.[61]  
63HBanu Umayyah write to Yazid about their predicament and Yazid dispatches an army of 12,000 to Madinah under the command of Muslim ibn Uqbah.[62]  
Dhul Hijja 63HThe Battle of Harrah. Muslim ibn Uqbah’s army slaughter hundreds and some say thousands of Muslims in a three-day rampage on Madinah. Among those killed were many prominent sahaba and tabi’een.[63]  
Muharram 64HMuslim ibn Uqbah dies and his deputy Hussain ibn Numayr al-Sakuni takes over and proceeds to Makkah to lay siege to Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr.[64]  
14 Rabi’ al‐Awwal, 64HYazid ibn Mu’awiya dies.
Rabi’ al-Thani, 64HAfter being informed of Yazid’s death, Hussain ibn Numayr halts the siege on Makkah and offers to contract the bay’a to Ibn Zubayr if he comes to Damascus. Due to mistrust from Ibn Zubayr against his former enemy he refuses and stays in Makkah.[65] He starts taking the bay’a and becomes the Khaleefah.  

Taking the bay’a by force in Madinah(60H)

Yazid’s only concern when he assumed power was to receive the bay’a from those influentials among the sahaba and tab’ieen who had refused to accept his father’s demand that bay’a be given to him. On entering office in the month of Rajab 60H he wrote a letter to his governor and cousin in Madinah al-Walid bin ‘Utbah bin Abi Sufyan, demanding he take the bay’a by force from the senior sahaba.

Yazid wrote:

“In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate

From Yazid, Amir ul-Mu’mineen, to Walid ibn Utbah…

Mu’awiyah was one of the servants of Allah, whom Allah had blessed, appointed to authority, and given power and ability. He lived for a measured time and died at an appointed time. May Allah have mercy on him, for he lived as a praiseworthy man and died as a pious, Allah-fearing man. Peace be with you.”

Accompanying this letter, he wrote to him on another parchment as small as a rat’s ear for secrecy:

“Seize Hussain, Abdullah ibn Umar, and Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr to give the bay’a. Act so fiercely that they have no chance to do anything before giving the bay’a. Peace be with you.”[66]

This letter clearly shows that the bay’a was to be taken by force from the Ahlul hali wal-aqd which would make their bay’a invalid (batil).

After receiving this letter, al-Walid ibn Utbah set out to take the bay’a forcibly from Abdullah ibn Umar, Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr and al-Hussain as ordered by Yazid.[67] He sent one of his mawali (servants) to Ibn az-Zubayr who abused him and shouted at him, “Son of Kahiliyyah![68] By Allah! You should come to the governor or he will kill you!”[69]

Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr managed to buy some extra time by sending his brother Ja’far to visit al-Walid and to tell him that he would give bay’a the next day. That night on 26th Rajab 60H, Abdullah ibn Zubayr and his brother Ja’far manged to flee Madinah and head for Makkah. When al-Walid found out he sent 30 or 80 horsemen after them but failed to stop them.[70] The next night on the 27th Rajab, while al-Walid was distracted by his pursuit of ibn az-Zubayr, al-Hussain and his family also managed to escape to Makkah.[71]

According to Al-Waqidi, Ibn az-Zubayr and al-Hussain left Madinah on the same night, and on the way met Abdullah ibn Abbas and Abdullah ibn Umar who were coming back from Makkah. The latter two asked them what the situation was like in Madinah. Ibn az-Zubayr and al-Hussain replied, “The death of Mu’awiya, and the demand for the bay’a to be made to Yazid.” Ibn Umar warned them to be pious toward Allah and not to divide the unity of the Muslims. He along with Ibn Abbas then proceeded to Madinah and stayed there for some days. Ibn Umar waited until the bay’a came from the provinces and then went to al-Walid and gave him his bay’a. Ibn Abbas then came and gave his bay’a.[72] Although ibn Umar and ibn Abbas did give bay’a of their own free will[73] the majority of the sahaba and tabi’een in Madinah did not give bay’a through free consent and choice. Ibn Umar and ibn Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them) were following their own ijtihad on the issue, which is their individual opinion and in sharia the individual opinion of a sahabi is not a sharia daleel as mentioned earlier.

Al-Hussain’s half-brother Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah, made it clear that Yazid did not have a legitimate bay’a. Instead, he encouraged al-Hussain to go and seek the bay’a for himself. If Yazid was considered a legitimate Khaleefah by Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah then he would not have encouraged this because the hadith is clear, where the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “When the bay’a has been taken for two Khaleefahs, kill the latter one.”[74]

Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah said to al-Hussain before he departed Madinah, “My brother, you are the most lovable of people and the dearest to me. I could not give my stored advice to any creature more entitled to it than you. Keep away from Yazid ibn Mu’awiyah with your followers, and avoid the provinces as long as you can.

Then send your messengers to the people and summon them to you. If they give you the bay’a, I praise Allah for that. If the people agree upon someone other than you, Allah will neither make your religion nor your reason deficient on that account; He will not remove your manliness and outstanding merit either. Yet I am afraid that you will enter one of these provinces and you will come to a group of people. They will differ among themselves: one group will be with you and another against you. They will fight, and you will be a target for the first of their spears. Then the best of all this community in person, in father, and in mother would be the one whose blood was most wastefully squandered and whose family most humiliated.”

Al-Hussain asked him where he should go, and he answered, “Stay at Makkah. If that place is secure for you, it will serve its purpose. However, if it is unsuitable for you, you can resort to the deserts and the mountain peaks; You can move from place to place until you see what becomes of the affairs of the people and then you will know their views. You will be most correct in judgment and firmest in action as long as you can directly face matters. Affairs will never be more abstruse for you than when you turn your back on them.” Al-Hussain replied, “Brother, you have given good advice and shown your concern. I hope that your judgment is correct and appropriate.”[75]

Taking the bay’a by force in Makkah (60H)

In the month of Ramadan, Yazid removed Al-Walid ibn Utbah from the governorship of Madinah for failing to take the bay’a from ibn Zubayr and al-Hussain. He replaced him with Amr bin Sa’id who arrived in Madinah during this month or the next.[76]

Amr bin Sa’id appointed Abdullah ibn Zubayr’s brother ‘Amr ibn az-Zubayr as his Chief of Police in Madinah. ‘Amr ibn az-Zubayr then started hunting down those who were in favour of his brother and had them flogged. Among those who were lashed were members of his own family. He flogged his brother al-Mundhir ibn az-Zubayr and his nephews Muhammad ibn al-Mundhir and Khubayb ibn Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr. He also flogged Abd al-Rahman ibn al-Aswad, Uthman ibn Abdullah ibn Hakim and Muhammad ibn Ammar bin Yasir. He had them flogged from forty to fifty or sixty lashes.[77]

In Dhul Qa’dah, Yazid ibn Mu’awiyah started sending messengers to Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr in Makkah trying to force him to pledge his allegiance. Ibn az-Zubayr refused.[78] Amr bin Sa’id then dispatched ‘Amr ibn az-Zubayr with an army of 2,000 to attack his brother in Makkah and force his allegiance.[79] ‘Amr ibn az-Zubayr launched an attack on Makkah but he and his army were defeated, and Makkah remained outside of Yazid’s authority for the rest of his rule.[80]

In 61H, Yazid removed Amr ibn Sa’id for his failure to subdue Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr and his supporters. The following year Amr met Yazid in Damascus and when asked about his failure Amr replied, “Amir ul-Mu’mineen! One who was present would have seen what one who was absent could not have seen. The majority of the people of Makkah and Madinah were inclined toward ibn az-Zubayr, they favoured him and gave their consent to him. They summoned each other both in secret and publicly.”[81]

After al-Hussain was martyred on 10th Muharram 61H, ibn az-Zubayr became the most suitable candidate for the post of Khaleefah. He was a sahabi, with the support from the Ahlul hali wal-aqd in Madinah, and had a power base in Makkah from which he could establish himself. The people of Madinah wrote to him and said that since al-Hussain had been destroyed, there was no one who could dispute with him.[82] Ibn az-Zubayr’s companions said to him, “Make public your acceptance of the bay’a to you, for no one remains now that Hussain is dead who can dispute this affair with you.”[83]

Ibn az-Zubayr started making preparations and taking the bay’a secretly but wasn’t formally contracted as Khaleefah until after Yazid died, because he didn’t have the necessary support at that time to take authority.[84]

Kufa offers their bay’a to Al-Hussain (60H)

In Ramadan, the people of Kufa began sending messengers to al-Hussain requesting he comes to them and be appointed the Khaleefah. They said, “We have kept ourselves exclusively for you. We do not attend the Friday prayer with the governor (Al-Nu’man bin Bashir al-Ansari), so come to us.”[85] Al-Hussain then dispatched his cousin Muslim ibn ‘Aqil ibn Abi Talib to investigate the Kufan’s offer.[86]

Muslim ibn ‘Aqil arrived in Kufa in the month of Shawwal and 12,000 Kufans pledged the bay’a to al-Hussain. Ibn ‘Aqil then wrote back to al-Hussain informing him of this so al-Hussain started making preparations to leave Makkah for Kufa.[87]

Al-Nu’man ibn Bashir, the governor of Kufa did not oppose the plans of the Kufans so one of Yazid ibn Mu’awiyah’s supporters stood up before al-Nu’man and said to him, “You are either a weak man or you are acting like a weak man. The town has been corrupted!”

Al-Nu’man replied, “I would prefer to be a weak man in obedience to Allah than a strong man in disobedience of Allah. I would not tear off a cover that Allah has spread.”[88]

Yazid was informed of Al-Nu’man’s words and Yazid’s Wazir Sarjun ibn Mansur advised Yazid to appoint Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad in his place. He said, “The only man for al-Kufah is Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad. Give him authority over the city.” So Yazid replaced al-Nu’man with Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad who at the time was the governor of Basra, so ibn Ziyad had Kufa under his authority as well.[89]

In Dhul Hijjah, Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad arrived in Kufa heavily veiled so people didn’t recognise him and assumed he was al-Hussain. Every group he passed by said to him, “Greetings, son of the daughter of the Messenger of Allah.”[90]

Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad began immediately working to thwart the plans of Muslim ibn ‘Aqil. He started by sending his mawla (servant) as a spy with 3,000 dirhams to find out where ibn ‘Aqil was staying. He was successful in this and found that he was staying in the home of one of the Kufan nobles Hani ibn Urwah.[91]

Ibn Ziyad then imprisoned Hani bin Urwah and invited all the Kufan tribal chiefs to his palace. When Muslim ibn ‘Aqil found out about Hani’s imprisonment he gathered an army of 4,000 Kufans who marched to the gate of ibn Ziyad’s palace. The Kufan tribal chiefs in the palace then persuaded all their people to go home, and eventually Muslim ibn ‘Aqil was abandoned and left to wander the city. He did manage to find refuge in one house but one of the inhabitants informed Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad and Muslim ibn ‘Aqil was subsequently captured and executed along with Hani ibn Urwah.[92] This is what ibn Abbas feared when he said to al-Hussain before his departure to Iraq, “I fear for you ruin and elimination in this direction. If the people of Iraq want you, as they claim, then write to them, for them to expel their enemy and thereafter say that I am coming to you …”[93]

Dr Muhammad Khair Haikal comments on this. “So Ibn ‘Abbas (ra), who was one of the representatives of the Ummah and one of the prominent sahaabah, in this text, at that time, did not oppose Hussain in respect to the legal legitimacy of rebelling against the usurper of the Khilafah (Yazid Bin Mu’awiya) but rather opposed his reliance upon the people of Iraq, due to prior experience with them in the time of his father ‘Ali (ra) and his brother Hasan (ra), which indicated that they were a people whom could not be depended on for strength and support. Consequently, there was no faithfulness to their covenant and no security in their betrayal! Al-Hussain later remembered this advice of Ibn ‘Abbas and so on the night of Al-Karbalaa’ he said: “How capable Allah has made Ibn ‘Abbas regarding what he advised me with.”[94]

On the 8th Dhul Hijjah, al-Hussain and his followers departed Makkah for Kufa.[95] At Tha’labiyya (Northern Saudi Arabia today) al-Hussain found out about ibn ‘Aqil’s death and he considered turning back but the brothers of ibn ‘Aqil wanted revenge and persuaded al-Hussain to continue on to Iraq. He continued on and nearing Kufa he was met by the army of Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad who were 1,000 men strong led by Hurr ibn Yazid al-Tamimi (Hurr ibn Yazid later defected to the side of al-Hussain and was martyred alongside him).

Hurr refused to let him enter Kufa so al-Hussain and his followers made camp at Karbala in the beginning of Muharram 61H. After negotiations for his surrender failed, al-Hussain and 72 of his followers were martyred on the 10th Muharram (Ashura).

The Rebellion of Madinah (63H)

In 62H a delegation from the Ahlul hali wal-aqd ofMadinah were invited by Yazid to Damascus to stay with him. This delegation included Abdullah ibn Hanzalah al-Ghasil al-Ansari, who is the son of the famous sahabi who the angels performed ghusl upon after he was martyred at Uhud.[96]

When the delegation returned to Madinah they publicly cursed and repudiated Yazid and the rest of the people followed them this. They then appointed Abdullah ibn Hanzalah as their leader.[97]

After hearing of this Yazid dispatched the famous sahabi al-Nu’man ibn Bashir al-Ansari to Madinah to try and persuade them to desist from their rebellion. Yazid b. Mu’awiyah sent for al-Nu’man and said to him, “Go to the people of Madinah and your own people. Soothe them away from what they are intending to do. If they do not rise up in this matter, the people will not dare to oppose me. There are those of my clan who would not want to rise up in this discord (fitnah), for they fear destruction.” Al-Nu’man then departed and went to his people in Madinah. He summoned the people and ordered them to obey and to adhere to unity and he warned them against fitnah. He told them, “You have no power against the Syrians.” Abdullah ibn Muti’, another famous sahabi, said, “Al-Nu’man, what is making you split our unity and corrupt our affairs that Allah has set right?” Al-Nu’man answered, “By Allah! It is as if I can see that which you are calling for (i.e., civil war) taking place, with men mounting their horses and striking blows against the heads of the other party and their faces. The mill of death revolves between the two parties. It is as if I can see you flying on your mule and setting your face in the direction of Makkah, leaving these wretched people (meaning the Ansar) behind to be killed in their alleys, in the mosques, and at the doors of their houses.” [98]

In 63H the majority of the people of Madinah rose up against Yazid and refused to give him their bay’a. They removed the governor Uthman bin Muhammad bin Abi Sufyan, and laid siege to Banu Umayyah who were almost a thousand strong and holed up in the dwellings of Marwan bin al-Hakam. Marwan’s son Abdul-Malik ibn Marwan was also among them.[99] This is important to note for future events.

The people of Madinah appointed Abdullah ibn Muti’ over the Quraish, Abdullah ibn Hanzalah over the Ansar and Ma‘qil bin Sinan al-Ashja‘i over the Muhajireen.[100] Abdullah ibn Hanzalah was the overall leader and Corp commander.

Ali bin al-Hussain (Zain ul-‘Abideen), on the other hand, chose to dissociate himself from the conflict and likewise, Abdullah bin ‘Umar did not renounce Yazid nor did any other member of his family. Similarly, no one from the Banu ‘Abdul-Muttalib tribe renounced Yazid.[101]

It has been reported on the authority of Nafi, that Abdullah ibn Umar paid a visit to Abdullah ibn Muti’ in the days (when atrocities were perpetrated on the People of Madinah) at Harrah in the time of Yazid ibn Mu’awiya. Ibn Muti’ said: “Place a pillow for Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman (family name of ‘Abdullah b. ‘Umar).” But the latter said: “I have not come to sit with you. I have come to you to tell you a tradition I heard from the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. I heard him say: ‘One who withdraws his band from obedience will find no argument when he stands before Allah on the Day of Judgment, and one who dies without having a bay’a on his neck will die the death of Jahiliyyah.’”[102]

Nafi’ also narrated: “When the people abandoned the leadership of Yazid bin Mu’awiyah, Ibn Umar gathered his children and family together, “I heard the Prophet ﷺ saying, ‘A flag will be fixed for every betrayer on the Day of Resurrection,’ and we have given the bay’a to this person (Yazid) in accordance with the conditions enjoined by Allah and His Messenger and I do not know of anything more faithless than fighting a person who has been given the bay’a in accordance with the conditions enjoined by Allah and His Messenger, and if ever I learn that any person among you has agreed to dethrone Yazid, by giving the bay’a (to somebody else) then there will be separation between him and me.”[103]

This is the ijtihad and individual opinion of ibn Umar as discussed previously.

Why did it take three years for Madinah to rebel?

As mentioned, the majority of Muslims in Madinah were initially forced to give bay’a to Yazid by the governor Al-Walid ibn Utbah. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Allah had forgiven my Ummah for the mistake and forgetfulness and that which they were compelled to do.”[104]

Later some sahabi such as Abdullah ibn Umar and Abdullah ibn Abbas did give bay’a freely but many had not. It seems the people of Madinah were putting their hopes in al-Hussain becoming the Khaleefah, but after his death they were in shock and this then spurred them on as it did with Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr to make an organised rebellion against Yazid.

The Battle of Harrah (63H)

Banu Umayyah wrote to Yazid concerning the siege, abuse, hunger and thirst they were facing which deeply stirred Yazid. He then dispatched an army of 12,000 to Madinah under the command of the notorious Muslim bin ‘Uqbah al-Murri, who was a feeble, elderly man, to force them to give him bay’a.

Abdullah bin Ja‘far said to Yazid: “Do you reckon that if they return in obedience it will be accepted from them?” He said: “They will, as there is nothing keeping them from doing so.” Then Yazid said to Muslim bin ‘Uqbah: “If you arrive in al-Madinah and you are not forced out and they listen and obey you, then do not confront any one of them but instead proceed straight to the deviant Ibn az-Zubayr.”[105] Yazid also said to him, “Leave the people for three days. If they agree to your demands, so be it. Otherwise fight them and when you overcome them, give license to pillage the city for three days.”[106]

Ibn Kathir comments on this, “Yazid committed a grave mistake by authorising Muslim bin Uqbah to exercise his control over al- Madinah for three days. This was because during those three days, Muslim carried out the most unspeakable and indescribable atrocities to ever be witnessed by the Prophetic land of al-Madinah, whose severity is known by Allah alone.”[107]

In Dhul Hijja 63H, Muslim ibn ‘Uqbah arrived in Madinah and stationed his army at al-Harrah, east of Madinah where he called on the people for a period of three days, but it was to no avail as the people refused to comply with him. He then set out carrying out the “most unspeakable and indescribable atrocities” as Ibn Kathir mentioned.

Those remaining in the city were then forced to give bay’a to Yazid. Al-Mada’ini said: “Sa’eed bin al-Musayyib was brought to Muslim ibn ‘Uqbah who said to him: ‘Pledge your allegiance.’ So he said: ‘I pledge allegiance to the path of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar.’ So he was ordered to be executed by beheading and his order was just about to be carried out when a man testified to his insanity, on which grounds he was left alone.”[108]

Ibn Kathir says, “The number of eminent Companions and others who died in this year due to the al-Harrah incident is so extensive that it would take too long to name them all. However, to mention just a few prominent figures: Abdullah bin Hanzalah, the commander of al-Madinah at the time of the battle of of al-Harrah, Ma‘qil bin Sinan, ‘Ubaidullah bin Zaid bin ‘Asim (May Allah be pleased with them) and Masrooq bin aI-Ajda‘.”[109]

The Siege of Makkah (63-64H)

In the month of Muharram 64H, after the sacking of Madinah, Muslim ibn Uqbah made his way to Makkah but died on the way. His deputy Hussain ibn Numayr al-Sakuni took over command and laid siege to Makkah for 60 days. [110] Then on 14th Rabi’ al‐Awwal, 64H Yazid ibn Mu’awiya also died.

After Yazid’s death, Hussain ibn Numayr made contact with Ibn az-Zubayr and they met outside Makkah at Al-Abtah. Hussain to him, “If this man (Yazid) dies then you are the most deserving of this matter after him. Now then come! Travel with me to ash-Sham as, by Allah, neither of the two of you will differ on this.”[111]

Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr did not trust ibn Numayr and used rude language towards him which caused him to walk away in a huff.Ibn Numayr later remarked: “I summon him to the Khilafah and he speaks to me rudely?” [112]

Ibn al-Zubayr regretted his remarks so sent Hussain ibn Numayr a message, “As for going to Syria, I will not do it, for I do not like to leave Makkah; but give me the bay’a here and I will grant you security and act justly among you.” Hussain replied, “What do you think I am to do if you will not come yourself while I have found there many members of this family (Banu Umayyah) who are seeking it and to whom the men will respond?”[113]

Hussain ibn Numayr and his army then left Makkah and headed towards Madinah.

Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr then started receiving the bay’a publicly from the Ahlul hali wal-aqd in Makkah and Madinah and was pronounced the Khaleefah of the Muslims. Tabari mentions that after the death of Mu’awiya ibn Yazid, the Kufans, the Basrans, Hijaz, the Syrians and the people of Mesopotamia all accepted ibn az-Zubayr, except for the people of Jordan.[114] The ‘Amil of Jordan was Hassan ibn Malik ibn Bahdal al-Kalbi from the Yamani tribal grouping, and he wanted Marwan ibn al-Hakam as the next Khaleefah as we will discuss later.[115]

Hussain ibn Numayr and his army met up with Marwan bin al-Hakam and the rest of Banu Umayyah who were leaving Madinah after Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr’s newly appointed governor ‘Ubaidah ibn az-Zubayr had expelled them. The army then embarked on the journey to Ash-Sham and upon their arrival in Damascus they discovered that Mu’awiya ibn Yazid had been appointed as the hereditary successor of his father Yazid by the Ahlul hali wal-aqd in the capital. [116]

3.    Mu’awiya ibn Yazid (64H/683CE)

Mu’awiya ibn Yazid was made wali al-ahd (heir apparent) by his father Yazid ibn Mu’awiya. Like his father he received the bay’a from the Ahlul hali wal-aqd in Ash-Sham but the Ahlul hali wal-aqd in Hijaz gave bay’a to Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr.

Mu’awiya ibn Yazid was a pious and honest man but he was only in power for forty days before passing away. He is noted as one of the Umayyads who tried to remove hereditary rule and bring back shura for the bay’a. He assembled the people together and said: “O people! Indeed, I have been entrusted with your affairs while I am weak and unable. I would therefore like for you to concede leadership to a man of strength in the same manner that as-Siddiq i.e. Abu Bakr) endowed ‘Umar. If you will, then appoint a committee for consultation comprised of six persons from amongst you as ‘Umar bin al-Khattab did; for just one of you cannot be right concerning it. And so, I have bequeathed your affairs to yourselves, therefore you should appoint the one that is most fitting to undertake leadership over you.”

He then stepped down and entered his house, and did not come out until he had died. It is believed that he was either poisoned or stabbed.[117] Another martyr in trying to correct the bay’a and reverse hereditary rule.

Mu’awiya ibn Yazid marks the end of what historians call the Sufyanid authority i.e. rulers from Banu Umayyah who are from Abu Sufyan’s lineage, and the start of the Marwanids, i.e. rulers from Marwan ibn al-Hakam’s line. 

4.    Marwan ibn al-Hakam (65H/684CE – 66H/685CE)

When Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr became the Khaleefah he appointed his brother, ‘Ubaydah ibn az-Zubayr, as the governor of Madinah. His brother then began the task of exiling Banu Umayyah from Madinah. Upon leaving, Banu Umayyah travelled to ash-Sham after meeting up with the army of Hussain ibn Numayr. Among those of Banu Umayyah who were exiled were Marwan bin al-Hakam and his son, ‘Abdul-Malik.[118]

Was Marwan a legitimate Khaleefah?

Suyuti says, “The soundest view is that of adh-Dhahabī, who said that Marwān is not regarded as one of the Amirs of the Believers, but as a rebel (bāghin) against Ibn az-Zubayr, and that his appointment of his son was not valid. ʿAbd al-Malik’s Khilafah only became valid when Ibn az-Zubayr was killed.”[119]

What happened in the provinces?

The Khaleefah appoints and removes the governors (wulah) of the provinces (wilayat). This contract of appointment (‘aqd taqleed) does not end with the death or removal of the Khaleefah. It continues, and the new Khaleefah will decide whether to renew the contract and keep the governors in place or appoint new governors. Abu Bakr for example, kept the same governors as the Prophet ﷺ had appointed, but Umar when he became Khaleefah changed the governors and appointed new ones. During the volatile period after the death of Mu’awiya ibn Yazid, the people of Iraq and Khorasan actually elected new governors until a Khaleefah had been chosen. This is based on the hadith, where the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “It would be forbidden for three people who are in an open country, not to appoint one from among them as Ameer.”[120]

Basra

Ubaydallah ibn Ziyad was the governor of Basra and Kufa under Yazid ibn Mu’awiya,[121] and was the one responsible for the killing of al-Hussain and his followers. Initially the people of Basra elected him as their governor, but then they regretted it after remembering what he did to al-Hussain. So they withdrew their allegiance to him.[122] Ubaydallah then made his way to Syria and was instrumental in getting Marwan ibn al-Hakam to take up the post of Khaleefah instead of giving bay’a to Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr.

Tabari mentions, “The Basrans decided together to give authority to one of themselves to lead the prayer until an imam should be agreed upon. They appointed Abd al-Malik bin Abdallah bin Amir for a month and then they appointed Babbah, who was Abdallah bin al-Harith bin Abd al-Muttalib. He led them in prayer for two months until Umar ibn Ubaydullah bin Ma’mar came to them from Ibn az-Zubayr.”[123]

As discussed previously under the Provisional Ameer section, leading of the prayer is an indication of leading the people in ruling not just prayer in the masjid.

Kufa

When Mu’awiya ibn Yazid died, Amr bin Hurayth was the ‘Amil (mayor) for Ubaydallah ibn Ziyad over Kufa. The people of Kufa then deposed him and gathered in the masjid saying, “Let us appoint somebody to authority until a Khaleefah is agreed upon.”[124] Initially they chose Umar ibn Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas who was the commander sent by Ubaydallah ibn Ziyad to fight al-Hussein, but the women of Hamdan (a tribe who supported al-Hussein) came weeping for al-Hussein, and the men of Hamdan came with their swords and encircled the minbar. After some debate they chose Amir bin Masud as their governor and wrote to ibn az-Zubayr who confirmed his appointment.[125]

Khorasan

Ubaydallah ibn Ziyad’s brother Salm ibn Ziyad, was appointed as governor over Khorasan and Sijistan by Yazid ibn Mu’awiya. Following Yazid and his son Mu’awiya’s death the army of Khorasan gave allegiance to Salm ibn Ziyad that he would remain in power until a Khaleefah was agreed upon.[126] As happened in Basra, the people of Khorasan deposed Salm ibn Ziyad which then led to instability and fitna in the region as rival leaders such as Abdullah ibn Khazim al-Sulami rose up and fought to take power. Ibn Khazim eventually become the governor, but in 72AH he was forcibly removed by Abdul-Maik ibn Marwan.[127]

Damascus

Al-Dahhak bin Qays al-Fihri was a former governor of Kufa under Mu’awiya,[128] and his Chief of Police (sahib ash-Shurta) in Damascus.[129] Ash-Sham at the time of Mu’awiya ibn Yazid’s death was split in to five provinces[130]:

ProvinceGovernorTribal grouping
Damascusal-Dahhak bin Qays al-Fihri[131]Qays
QinnasrinZufar bin al-Harith al-Kilabi[132]Qays
Himsal-Nu’man bin Bashir al-Ansari[133]Sahabi/Ansar
PalestineNatil bin Qays[134]Qays
JordanHassan ibn Malik ibn Babdal al-Kalbi [135]Yamani

Tabari mentions, “The people had given an oath of allegiance to al-Dahhak bin Qays al-Fihri on the understanding that he should lead them in prayer and manage their affairs until the question of authority over the community of Muhammad had been settled.”[136]

This echoes what occurred in all the other regions of the state except Hijaz where Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr received the bay’a from the Ahlul hali wal-aqd in Makkah and Madinah and was pronounced the Khaleefah of the Muslims. Tabari mentions that after the death of Mu’awiya ibn Yazid, the Kufans, the Basrans, Hijaz, the Syrians and the people of Mesopotamia all accepted ibn az-Zubayr, except for the people of Jordan.[137] The province of Jordan was under the leadership of Hassan ibn Malik who was a Yamani and he worked to secure Marwan ibn al-Hakam as the Khaleefah as we will discuss next. This split between the Qaysi supporting Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr and the Yamani’s supporting Marwan sowed the seeds for future discord which the Umayyad Khaleefah’s had to try and manage.

The Qaysi/Yamani Rivalry

As mentioned Mu’awiya was primarily dependent on Banu Kalb who were part of the Yamani tribes from Southern Arabia who had settled there before Islam. One of Mu’awiya’s wives was Maysun bint Bahdal al-Kalbiyah, the daughter of a leader of Banu Kalb and the mother of Yazid ibn Mu’awiya. Some of the prominent Yamani tribes were Kalb, Tanukh, Judham, Kindah, Azd and Taghlib.[138]

Another tribal group was the Qaysi tribes from Northern Arabia who settled in Ash-Sham and Iraq during the Islamic conquests of the Rightly Guided Khaleefahs, and so were relative newcomers to the region. The Qaysi tribes consisted of Tamim, Ghatafan, Hawazin, Banu Amir, Thaqif, Banu Sulaym, Kilab and Bahila to name but a few.[139]

Qaysi and Yamani tribal groupings

Mu’awiya, despite being close to the Yamani tribes, had the support of both the Yamani and Qaysi and didn’t favour one over the other, and appointed governors from both. The tribal groupings did not become an issue until the civil war and fitna of Yazid. This is generally the case, even today where in times of hardship and introspection people will start blaming ‘the other’ for problems or looking out for their own family interests. The Prophet ﷺ warned against this saying, “Whoever fights for a cause that is not clear, advocating tribalism (asabiya), getting angry for the sake of tribalism, then he has died a death of Jahiliyyah.”[140]

After being deposed in Khorasan, Salm ibn Ziyad left al-Muhallab bin Abi Sufrah, a Yamani as his deputy over the region. Salm then departed and when he reached Sarakhs he met with Sulayman bin Marthad from Banu Qays bin Tha’labah who asked him, “Who have you left behind over Khurasan?” Salm replied, “Al-Muhallab.”Sulayman said to him, “Was Nizar (Qaysi) so straitened that you made one of the Yamani a governor!” Consequently, Salm made Sulayman governor over Marw al-Rudh, al-Faryab, al-Taligan and al-Juzjan, and Aws bin Tha’labah bin Zufar, another Qaysi as governor over Herat.[141] It seems this was to head off a potential tribal conflict between the two.

Salm then continued on his way and when he reached Nisabur he met Abdallah ibn Khazim another Qaysi who asked him, “Who have you put in charge of Khurasan?” When Salm told him, ibn Khazim said, “Could you not find a man among Mudar (Qaysi) to appoint to office that you had to divide Khurasan between Bakr bin Wa’il (Sulayman bin Marthad & Aws bin Tha’labah) and Mazun of Uman (al-Muhallab)?”

Abdullah ibn Khazim then began fighting the other governors in the region including Qaysi governors Sulayman bin Marthad and Aws bin Tha’labah, before eventually defeating his rivals and becoming governor of Khorasan in 64AH. In 72AH he was forcibly removed by Abdul-Malik ibn Marwan.[142]

This shows that viewing events during the later Umayyad period through the lens of the Qaysi/Yamani rivalry alone is not correct. In most cases the disputes were simply struggles for power as in the case of Abdullah ibn Khazim who fought his Qaysi brothers in Khorasan.

We also saw that most of the Yamani gave bay’a initially to Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr via al-Dahhak bin Qays who was the interim leader in Damascus. Tabari mentions, “The majority of the men of Damascus, both Yemenis and others, gave him the bay’a on that basis.”[143]

The bay’a to Marwan ibn al-Hakam

The Candidates

NameSupporters in Ash-Sham
Abdullah ibn az-ZubayrAlready given bay’a by most of the regions and all districts in Ash-Sham except Jordan.[144]
Abdullah ibn UmarUnknown but his name was put forward as a candidate.[145]
Khalid bin YazidMalik bin Hubayrah al-Sakuni who was leader of Kindah, a Yamani tribe in Syria.[146]
Marwan ibn al-HakamUbaydallah ibn Ziyad and al-Hussain ibn Numair. Al-Hussain was also a leader of Kindah. [147]

The Time Limit

Banu Umayyah and their followers stayed at Marj Rahit, al-Jabiyah (near the Golan Heights in Modern day Syria) and were led by al-Hassan ibn Malik for 40 days there. Al-Hassan was in the position of the Provisional Ameer overseeing the election.[148]

On the Monday, al-Hassan ibn Malik went up on the minbar and said, “Oh people, we shall, Allah willing, appoint a Khaleefah on Thursday.”[149] This allowed for three days of debate and follows the widely accepted time limit for electing a Khaleefah that Umar ibn al-Khattab first announced, and which the sahaba collectively consented to. See Part 1: Bay’a in Islamic History – The Rightly Guided Khilafah for an explanation of the ijtihad behind this.

The debate

Candidate 1: Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr

Marwan ibn al-Hakam and his family were exiled from Hijaz by Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr. Despite this, Marwan initially wanted to rush and give bay’a to ibn az-Zubayr, but was talked out of it by Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad and al-Hussain ibn Numair. They said to Marwan, “You are the Sheikh (leader; elder) and chief of the Quraish and therefore you have the most right to pursue this matter.”[150]

Rawh bin Zinba al-Judhami, a former governor of Palestine said, “As for what is said about Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr and what is claimed for him, by Allah it is just as they say as to his being the son of az-Zubayr, who was the disciple of the Messenger of Allah and of Asma’, who was the daughter of Abu Bakr the Righteous One, and ‘mistress of the two girdles.’

Furthermore, he is just as you say regarding his precedence in Islam and his merit. But Ibn az-Zubayr is a hypocrite who has rejected two Khaleefahs, Yazid and his son Mu’awiyah bin Yazid, shed blood, and broken the staff of the Muslims. A hypocrite cannot be the master of the affairs of Muhammad’s community.”[151]

Candidate 2: Abdullah ibn Umar

Rawh bin Zinba al-Judhami said, “Oh people, you talk about Abdallah ibn Umar bin al-Khattab, his

companionship with the Prophet and his precedence in Islam. He is just as you say, but Ibn Umar is a weak man and no weak man can be master of the community of Muhammad.”[152]

Candidate 3: Khalid bin Yazid

As mentioned, the mother of Yazid ibn Mu’awiya was Maysun bint Bahdal al-Kalbiyah, the daughter of a leader of Banu Kalb, a Yamani tribe in Syria. Malik bin Hubayrah al-Sakuni and al-Hussain ibn Numair were both leaders of another Yamani tribe called Kindah.

Malik bin Hubayrah said to al-Hussain ibn Numair, “Come on, let us give the bay’a to this lad (Khalid bin Yazid) whose father we begat (Yazid ibn Mu’awiya). He is descended from one of our women and you know that our present status derives from his father, and he will shortly place our yoke on the necks of the Arabs.” But al-Hussain said, “No, by Allah Eternal, the Arabs will not come to us with a shaykh while we go to them with a youth!”[153]

Candidate 4: Marwan ibn al-Hakam

Malik bin Hubayrah said to al-Hussain ibn Numair, “By Allah, if you give the Khilafah to Marwan and his family, they will be jealous even of your whip, the lace of your sandal, and the shade of a tree where you seek shelter from the sun. Marwan is the father of a clan, the brother of a clan and the uncle of a clan, and if you give him the bay’a you will be their slaves. Rather, accept the authority of Khalid, the descendant of a woman of your own blood!”

But al-Hussain replied, “In a dream I saw a candlestick suspended from the heavens. Those who are now eager for the Khilafah reached out for it but did not obtain it, but Marwan reached out for it and got it. By Allah, we will indeed appoint him as Khaleefah.” Malik said to him, “Woe to you, Hussain! Will you give the bay’a to Marwan and the family of Marwan when you know they are a leading family of Qays?”[154]

Rawh bin Zinba al-Judhami then intervened in the debate and said, “As for Marwan b. al-Hakam, by Allah, there has never been a split in Islam but that Marwan was one of those who repaired it. He fought for the Amir ul-Mu’mineen Uthman bin al-Affan on the ‘Day of the House’ (when Uthman’s residence was attacked) and he fought against Ali ibn Abi Talib at the ‘Day of the Camel.’ We think the people should give the bay’a to the elder and consider the junior too immature.” (By the ‘elder’ he meant Marwan and by the ‘junior’ Khalid.)[155] Khalid was named as heir apparent to succeed Marwan after his death but Marwan managed to alter this arrangement and instead nominated his two sons as heir apparents as we will discuss.

Banu Umayyah and the other Yamani tribes present at Al-Jabiyah then gave bay’a to Marwan. Afterwards Marwan fought al-Dahhak bin Qays and managed to defeat him. He then brought all of Ash-Sham and Egypt under his authority, while Hijaz and Iraq were under the authority of Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr, the legitimate Khaleefah.

We can see from the debate that seniority and ruling experience was the deciding factor that swung in favour of Marwan. We can also see that unity of the state and Muslims was central in the minds of those present.

Marwan’s rule marks the end of the Sufyanid rule and the start of the Marwanid rule within the Umayyad Khilafah. Mu’awiya started the hereditary rule by appointing his son Yazid but his family line only lasted four years before Marwan’s line took over.

Adding conditions to the bay’a

Al-Hussain ibn Numair imposed a condition on the bay’a to Marwan that he settle those members of Kindah who were in Syria, in the Balqa region in Jordan.[156] He was also given bay’a on the condition he accepts Khalid bin Yazid and Amr bin Said ibn al-‘As as the successors to rule after him.

Delegating two successors

Mu’awiya had made Yazid the wali ul-ahd (heir apparent) but Marwan went a step further, and not only appointed the first wali ul-ahd but the second one as well. Khalid bin Yazid was appointed as the first successor and then after him would be Amr bin Said ibn al-‘As.[157]

The ijtihad behind this delegating two successors is explained by Mawardi. He states: “It is permitted for the Khaleefah to designate succession to two persons or more and to lay down an order of succession amongst them by saying, ‘The Khaleefah after me is such and such a person, and if he dies then the Khaleefah after his death will be such and such, and if he dies then the Khaleefah after him will be such and such a person.’ Thus the Khilafah will be transferred to the three persons in the order he has designated.

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ designated Zayd ibn Harith as vice-commander over the army of Mu’tah saying, ‘If he is struck down then Ja’far ibn Abi Talib, and if he is struck then Abdullah ibn ar-Rawahah, and if he is struck then the Muslims should agree on another man.’ So it was that Zayd went forward and was killed, and then Ja’far took the banner and went forward and was killed; then Abdullah ibn ar-Rawahah took the banner, advanced and was killed and so the Muslims chose Khalid ibn al-Walid after him. If the Prophet ﷺ did this with regard to amirate, the like is permitted regarding the Khilafah.

If it is argued that it is a contract of authority with a particular character and condition, and that contracts of authority are not based on such specific conditions and characteristics, then it must be replied that it is a general matter of public interest which should be addressed with more flexibility than in the case of private contracts between individuals.

This was acted upon during two dynasties (the Umayyads and the Abbasids) and none from amongst the ulema of the age have rejected it. Sulyman ibn Abdul-Malik pledged succession to Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz and then after him to Yazid ibn Abdul-Malik. Even though Sulayman’s judgement was not accepted as proof, his acceptance by those amongst the ulema of the Tabieen who were his contemporaries and among those, ‘who do not fear the censure of those who censure’ (Al-Ma’ida, 5:55), in matters regarding the truth constitutes a proof.”[158]

The appointment of the Khaleefah is through the bay’a contract which is unique and specific to the Khaleefah. The appointment of any other official in the Islamic State including army commanders is through a contract of assignment (‘aqd ta’yeen) or contract of appointment (‘aqd taqleed).[159] Therefore, qiyas (analogy) cannot be performed between the appointment of a Khaleefah and the appointment of army commanders. Delegating one or multiple successors as occurred from Marwan’s time is not permitted. However, this ijtihad of Marwan and Mawardi is still an Islamic opinion and represents a shubhat daleel (semblance of an evidence) in usul ul-fiqh. As Mawardi mentions this was acted upon throughout the Umayyad and Abbasid periods and the ulema of the time consented to this.

Changing the delegated successors

Marwan was given the bay’a on the condition that he accept Khalid bin Yazid as his first successor and Amr bin Said ibn al-‘As as the second. After assuming office however, he wanted to change the successors to his own sons, Abdul-Malik and Abdul-Azeez. This wasn’t permitted by the adopted opinion of the time, as Mawardi mentions, “The Imam who is still in office may not dismiss his successor as long as his state does not change,” so Marwan undertook a number of measures to bring this plan in to fruition.

Some people advised Marwan, “Marry Khalid’s mother so you can diminish his importance and he will not seek the Khilafah.”[160] This is what Marwan did. He married the widow of Yazid ibn Mu’awiya (Umm Khalid, the daughter of Abu Hashim bin ‘Utbah) who was the mother of Khalid bin Yazid. This made Marwan the step-father of Khalid and meant he now had authority over him to pressure him to relinquish his claim to the Khilafah.

With regards Amr bin Said who was the second successor, Amr had made it publicly known that Marwan had promised him the post of Khaleefah after his death. Marwan called Hassan ibn Malik who was one of the Ahlul hali wal-aqd that oversaw his bay’a and informed him about his decision to make Abdul-Malik and Abdul-Azeez his successors in place of Amr bin Said. Hassan told him, I will deal with Amr for you!” When the people had gathered in front of Marwan in the evening, Hassan ibn Malik stood and said, “We have heard that there are some men who have fanciful desires. Stand and give the bay’a to Abdul-Malik and to Abdul-Azeez after him!” So the people stood and gave the bay’a down to the last man.[161]

5.    Abdul-Malik ibn Marwan (73H/692CE – 86H/705CE)

Marwan ibn al-Hakam designated his son Abdul-Malik as the next Khaleefah (wali al-ahd) after his death. Marwan also designated his other son Abdul-Aziz, the father of Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz as the next Khaleefah after Abdul-Malik. Abdul-Aziz was the governor of Egypt under Abdul-Malik, but passed away before Abdul-Malik died. This meant Abdul-Malik could change the designated successors to his two sons Al-Walid and Sulayman, according to the opinion they had adopted on the bay’a at the time.

Was Abdul-Malik a legitimate Khaleefah?

While the Ahlul hali wal-aqd of ash-Sham did give bay’a to Abdul-Malik in 66H/685CE, this bay’a was initially invalid (batil) because Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr was the legitimate Khaleefah. It is not permitted for the bay’a to be given to two Khaleefahs at the same time. This is well-established from the sunnah where the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “If a bay’a is taken for two Khaleefahs, kill the latter among them.”[162]

The sahaba acted upon this sunnah and when they gathered in the courtyard (saqifa) of Banu Sa’ida to elect the first Khaleefah, one of the Ansar said, “Let there be an Ameer from among us and an Ameer from among you.”[163] Abu Bakr responded, “And it is not permitted for the Muslims to have two Ameers. If that would occur it would lead to a differing in their affairs and rulings, and their community (jamaa’ah) would be divided, and there would be dispute between them. That would be discarding the sunnah, bidah would arise and fitna would spread. None of that would be goodness for anyone.”[164]

Mawardi mentions, “If two Imamates are established in two countries none of the two is valid as it is not permitted for there to be two imams at one time.”[165]

Suyuti summaries the bay’a to Abdul-Malik. “He received the bay’a according to his father’s contract during the Khilafah of Ibn az-Zubayr, but his Khilafah was not valid and he remained as the usurper (mutaghallib) of Egypt and Syria. He then seized Iraq and its provinces before Ibn az-Zubayr was killed in 73H/692CE. From that day, his Khilafah became valid and his authority firmly established.”[166]

Taqiudeen an-Nabhani explains the situation when a Usurper المتسلط (Al-Mutasalit) or Dominant Sultan السلطان المتغلب (As-Sultan Al-Mutaghalib) takes the bay’a by force. If a usurper were to seize power by force he would not become Khaleefah, even if he declared himself to be the Khaleefah of the Muslims. This is because the Muslims in this case would not have contracted the Khilafah to him. If he were to take the bay’a from the people by force and coercion he would not become Khaleefah even if the bay’a was given to him. This is because a bay’a that is taken by force and coercion is not considered valid and the Khilafah cannot be concluded by it. For it is a contract based on mutual consent and choice and cannot be concluded forcefully or by coercion. The Khilafah cannot therefore be concluded except by a bay’a of consent and choice.

However, if the usurper managed to convince the people that it would be in the interest of the Muslims to give him their bay’a and that the implementation of the Shar’a rules obliges them to give the bay’a, and they were convinced of that and accepted it and then gave him the bay’a by consent and free choice, he would become Khaleefah from the moment that the bay’a was given to him by consent and choice. This is the case, even though in the first place he seized the authority by coercion and force. The condition is giving the bay’a and that it must be by mutual consent and free choice, regardless of whether the one who was given the bay’a was the ruler or not.”[167]

Ibn Hajar says, “The jurists have unanimously agreed that it is obligatory to obey the dominant sultan and jihad with him, and that obedience to him is better than revolting against him because of that of shedding blood and pacifying the masses.”[168]

The legitimacy of the bay’a to the dominant sultan is not a license for usurping power. There are conditions which he must fulfil. Ata Abu Rashta mentions. “As for the matter of the Dominant Sultan which was mentioned in some jurisprudence books, its meaning needs to be understood, not just repeat the terms “dominant Sultan”, without understanding when and how it is to be Islamically erected and when and how it is not Islamically erected; otherwise it will have dire consequences on its people!

The dominant Sultan would be sinful for Muslim bloodshed and dominating them through subjugation, force and coercion, and a legitimate Khilafah would not rise through him for violating the Islamic legislative method… However, some scholars see that this dominant Sultan’s ruling becomes Islamically valid if he fulfilled conditions, most notably:

a) He becomes dominant in a land that has the components of a State as per the region surrounding it, so he has a stable authority in it and has control over the internal and external security of the land towards the region surrounding him.

b) Implements Islam with justice and benevolence in that land, and sets a good repute for himself between the people, thus liking them and them liking him and being satisfied with him.

c) The people of that land give him the bay’a of contract with satisfaction and choice, not with coercion and force, and fulfilling the conditions of the legitimate bay’a including that the bay’a in origin should be from the people of that land, and not from the group of the dominant Sultan, because the legitimate Bayah is like that following the example of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, the Prophet ﷺ was keen to take the initial bay’a from the Ansar of the Madinah with satisfaction and choice, not take it from his Sahabah the Muhajirun, and the second pledge of allegiance proves this.

Thus, the dominant Sultan continues to be in sin, and no legitimate base is erected except after he fulfills the above three conditions, then the ruling of the dominant Sultan becomes legitimate from the moment of that bay’a with satisfaction and choice. This is the reality of the dominant Sultan, hoping that attentive ears may retain it… and it becomes clear from it that these conditions were not fulfilled for the owners of that announcement, they however imposed themselves and their announcement was done unjustly.”[169]

This then explains the difference between the bay’a to Yazid ibn Mu’awiya and Abdul-Malik ibn Marwan who were both usurpers. The bay’a to Yazid was never legally convened because the Ahlul hali wal-aqd never gave bay’a through free choice and consent. Whereas with Abdul-Malik the Ahlul hali wal-aqd in Hijaz and Iraq, finally agreed to give bay’a once Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr had been killed by Abdul-Malik’s infamous commander, Hajjaj bin Yusuf. Among those who gave bay’a to Abdul-Malik after ibn az-Zubayr’s death were Abdullah ibn Umar and his family in Madinah.

Bukhari narrates from Abdullah bin Dinar: “I witnessed Ibn Umar when the people gathered around Abdul Malik. Ibn Umar wrote: ‘I gave the bay’a that I will listen to and obey Allah’s Slave, Abdul-Malik, Ameer of the believers according to Allah’s Laws and the Traditions of His Messenger as much as I can; and my sons too, give the same pledge.’[170]

6.    Al-Walid ibn Abdul-Malik (86H/705CE – 96H/715CE)

Abdul-Aziz ibn Marwan (father of Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz) was designated as the next Khaleefah (wali ul-Ahd) after Abdul-Malik, but he passed away before Abdul-Malik, so that allowed a new succession contract to be created. Abdul-Malik designated his son Al-Walid as the first successor and Sulayman as the successor after him.

When Abdul-Malik died, his son Al-Walid became the Khaleefah and was given the bay’a by the Ahlul hali wal-aqd in Ash-Sham. Under his rule the Khilafah reached its highpoint in terms of conquests, with Spain, Sindh and Central Asia all becoming part of the state.

Attempts to change the designated successors

In 95H/714CE[171], Al-Walid attempted to change the succession contract (wiliyat ul-ahd) his father Marwan had instituted, by removing his brother Sulayman as the next Khaleefah after him. Al-Walid wanted his son Abdul-Aziz to be the next Khaleefah instead of Sulayman. As discussed, designating two or more successors as part of the wiliyat ul-ahd, which was Marwan’s ijtihad, was considered valid by the ulema and Ahlul hali wal-aqd, and so represents a shubhat daleel (semblance of an evidence). Mawardi mentions that this was acted upon throughout the Umayyad and Abbasid periods and the ulema of the time consented to this.[172]

In terms of Al-Walid’s attempts to alter the wiliyat ul-ahd then there is ikhtilaaf (difference of opinion) among the ulema on whether this is permitted or not. Mawardi says, If the Khaleefah dies while the three to whom he has designated succession are still alive and the Khilafah falls to the first of them and he wishes to pledge succession to someone other than the two whom the previous Khaleefah had chosen for succession, then there are some fuqaha who forbid it basing their judgement on the order of succession stipulated (by the previous Khaleefah)- except if they forgo their right to it voluntarily.

As-Safah (first Abbasid Khaleefah) pledged succession to al-Mansur, may Allah be pleased with them both, and then to Isa ibn Musa second in line after him; then al-Mansur wanted to give preference to al-Mahdi over Isa and wanted the latter to renounce his right of succession and to refrain from making any claim to it; numerous fuqaha of the time, however, did not consider he was justified in depriving him against his will of his inheritance of the succession but rather to seek to induce him with gentleness to step down of his own free will.”[173]

Al-Mansur, the second Abbasid Khaleefah succeeded in changing the wiliyat ul-ahd and replaced his nephew Isa ibn Musa with his son Al-Mahdi. Even though the Abbasids overthrew the Umayyads and took over the Khilafah, they continued to implement the same adopted sharia rules regarding the bay’a. Mawardi then goes on to explain the Shafi’i opinion which permits what Al-Walid was attempting.

He says, “What is most evident within the school of ash-Shafi’i, may Allah have mercy on him, and amongst the majority of the fuqaha is that it is permitted for the one who becomes Khaleefah from amongst the designated successors to designate the next successor from amongst whomever he pleases and to remove any right of succession from those following after him in line since this line of succession is restricted to those who have a claim to the Khilafah after the death of the one who has named them. Thus if the Khilafah falls to one of them, in accordance with the designated order, it is this person who is most entitled to designate succession as he pleases since overall authority for the execution of the responsibilities of this office became his when the Khilafah fell to him: thus his right is the strongest and his capacity to pledge succession takes precedence.”[174]

The Shafi’i position is that since all executive power is with the Khaleefah then he is permitted to change the designated successors. It should be noted that in Al-Walid’s time this was not the prevalent opinion and so the ulema and Ahlul hali wal-aqd adopted that it was forbidden to change the designated successors, unless the successors voluntarily agreed to it. This follows the laws of contract in Islam where they must be based on free choice and consent.

Initially Al-Walid tried to persuade Sulayman to allow his son Abdul-Aziz ibn Al-Walid to become the next Khaleefah, and then Sulayman would be Khaleefah after Abdul-Aziz, but Sulayman refused. Then Al-Walid offered large sums of money to Sulayman if he would renounce his place, but again Sulayman refused. Al-Walid then wrote to his governors ordering them to take the bay’a for his son Abdul-Aziz instead of Sulayman, but they all refused to obey his order except al-Hajjaj, the infamous governor of Iraq and Qutaybah ibn Muslim, the governor of Khorasan.[175] This shows that while the Khaleefah has full executive powers in Islam, he is bound by the sharia (legislative branch) and so are all his deputies. The Prophet ﷺ said, “It is a duty upon a Muslim to listen and obey (the ruler), whether he likes it or not, unless they command sinful disobedience. If they command sinful disobedience, then there is no listening or obedience to them.”[176]

Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz was one of the advisors to Al-Walid ibn Abdul-Malik and accounted him on his attempts to alter the wiliyat ul-ahd saying, “O Amir al-Mu’mineen! If we pledge allegiance to both of you in a single covenant, then how can we renounce him and leave you?” Al-Walid was outraged by Umar’s comments and it is said that he attempted to deal with him harshly as a means of getting him to agree to do what he wanted. It has been stated that he locked him in a room and sealed the door shut until Umm al-Banin, Umar’s sister and the wife of Al-Walid requested to enter. As a result, the door was opened after three (days or weeks) by which time Umar’s face had become withdrawn and his neck had become bent.[177]

Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz’s stance in opposing the deposition of Sulayman was mentioned by adh-Dhahabi as one of the reasons Sulayman nominated Umar as the Khaleefah after him. “Because of that, Sulayman was grateful to Umar and nominated him as his successor to the Khilafah.”[178]

All of Al-Walid’s attempts to change the next Khaleefah to his son failed. So after his death Sulayman ibn Abdul-Malik was given the bay’a in 96H/715CE. Since there was no third successor, this allowed Sulayman to create his own succession contract and he designated his nephew Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz as the next Khaleefah, and then his brother Yazid ibn Abdul-Malik after him.

7.    Umar bin Abdul-Aziz (99H/717CE – 101H/720CE)

How Umar bin Abdul-Aziz became the Heir Apparent

When Sulayman ibn Abdul-Malik was Khaleefah he was advised by the righteous scholar Raja’ bin Haywah al-Kundi, to nominate his nephew and Wazir Umar bin Abdul-Aziz as the next Khaleefah instead of his own son and brother. Sulayman did this, and knowing that Banu Umayyah would not be happy, he nominated his brother Yazeed ibn Abdul-Malik as the Khaleefah after Umar.

Raja’ bin Haywah who was the provisional leader overseeing the transition process to the next Khaleefah, describes the events surrounding Umar bin Abdul-Aziz’s nomination as narrated by Tabari.

Raja’ bin Haywah says: ‘On the day of Jumu’ah, Sulayman ibn Abd al-Malik was wearing green silk robes and as he looked in mirror, he said: “By Allah! I am a young king.” He then left for prayer, led the people in the Friday congregation and he did not return except that he had fallen ill.

When he later burdened his son, Ayyub, who was just a boy at the time, with writing a book on his Khilafah, I said: “What are you doing, O Amir ul-Mu’mineen? Among the things that can preserve the Khaleefah in his grave is the appointment of a righteous successor.” Sulayman said: “I will seek Allah’s counsel on the book. Wait and see. I have not decided upon it yet.”

After one or two days, however, he had torn up the book and upon summoning me, he said: “What do you think of Dawud bin Sulayman?” I answered: “He is away in Constantinople and you do not know if he is alive or dead.” He said: “O Raja’, who do you see fit?” So I said: “It is your choice, O Amir ul-Mu’mineen. I want to see who you mention.”

He then said: “What do you think of Umar bin Abdul-Aziz?” I replied: “I know, by Allah, that he is a pious, good Muslim.” So he said: “He was certainly that while he was governor. He is not the first in line considering Abd al-Malik’s sons, and will certainly never leave him to be appointed over them unless I make one of them his successor after him. Yazeed ibn Abd al-Malik is absent this season, so I will make him his successor. This should appease Umar and keep the others satisfied.” I said: “It is your choice.” He then wrote down:

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

This is a deed from the servant of Allah, Sulayman bin ‘Abd al-Malik, Amir ul-Mu’mineen, to Umar bin Abdul-Aziz. Verily, I have handed over the Khilafah to him after me, and after him, to Yazeed ibn ‘Abd al-Malik. Therefore, hear and obey him, fear Allah and do not differ over it lest it make you avaricious.

He then sealed the deed and sent Ka’ab bin Hamid, Chief of Police, to the members of his family who he had told to gather, which they did.

Next, he sent the letter with me after giving me instructions to inform them that it was his deed, to pass it on to all of them and then to take their bay’a to the one he appointed therein. Accordingly, I went to them and when I told them that it was the deed of Sulayman, they automatically said: “We hear and we obey whoever is in it. May we enter and give our greetings to the Amir al-Mu’mineen?” I answered in the affirmative and they entered upon Sulayman who said to them: “This deed – and pointed to it for them to look at in my hands – is my covenant, so hear, obey and pledge allegiance to whoever is named therein.” He then left while the sealed deed was in my hand.

After Sulayman’s death, the provisional leader Raja’ ascended the minbar in Dabiq Masjid and opened Sulayman’s sealed deed, which Banu Umayyah had pledged upon previously, and read out its contents. Raja’ says, ‘When I reached the part that mentioned Umar’s name, Hisham exclaimed: “We will never pledge allegiance to him!” I said: “I will, by Allah, have you beheaded! Stand up and give bay’a!” So dragging his feet, he stood up. I then escorted Umar onto the Minbar where I sat him down while Umar was visibly reluctant.[179]

The provisional leader has the power to call on the police to assist him in quelling rebellion and dissent during the transition process if required. The police chief assisting Raja’ was Ka’ab bin Hamid al-‘Unsi.[180]

This is similar to what occurred when Umar ibn Al-Khattab appointed the council of six to nominate a new Khaleefah after his death. Suhaib Ar-Rumi was appointed as the Provisional Leader of the state overseeing the election process, and he was assisted by Abu Talha Al-Ansari who had 50 men with him to protect the council.[181]

This incident clearly shows that the adopted laws regarding the bay’a were adhered to by the ahlul hali wal-aqd. No one is above the law in the Khilafah, not even Hisham, a future Khaleefah who was part of the ruling family.

Why didn’t Umar bin Abdul-Aziz want to be Khaleefah?

As mentioned, Sulayman’s decision on nominating Umar bin Abdul-Aziz was sealed so no one could read it. The only one aware of its contents was the provisional leader Raja’ bin Haywah. Umar had a suspicion that Sulayman had nominated him so he went to Raja’ and asked him: “O Abi al-Miqdam! I fear that Sulayman might have attached this affair to me in some way. If Sulayman has any reverence and respect for me, or wished to put my mind at ease, I implore by Allah and my respect and esteem, that you inform me if this is the case, so I can ask him to pardon me of it now before a situation emerges in which I will have no power to do so, as I have no power on the Hour.” Raja’ replied: “No, by Allah, not even a single letter.” Umar then left angrily.

The reason for this reluctance was due to the immense responsibility on the neck of the ruler, and the taqwa of Umar bin Abdul-Aziz which is an essential attribute of any leader. Without taqwa the ruler has the propensity for severe oppression as we witness throughout the world today. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “A ruler who, having obtained control over the affairs of the Muslims, does not strive for their betterment and does not serve them sincerely shall not enter Paradise with them.”[182]

Despite this heavy responsibility and reluctance Umar accepted the position of Caliph and was a just Caliph, an Imam ‘Adil as mentioned in the hadith:

 سبعة يظلهم الله في ظله يوم لا ظل إلا ظله‏:‏ إما عادل

“Seven types of people Allah will shade them by His Shade on the Day of Resurrection when there will be no shade except His Shade. They will be, a just ruler…”[183]

He discharged his duties in an exemplary manner and so is exempt from the humiliation on the day of judgement. It has been narrated on the authority of Abu Dharr who said:

قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَلاَ تَسْتَعْمِلُنِي قَالَ فَضَرَبَ بِيَدِهِ عَلَى مَنْكِبِي ثُمَّ قَالَ

يَا أَبَا ذَرٍّ إِنَّكَ ضَعِيفٌ وَإِنَّهَا أَمَانَةٌ وَإِنَّهَا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ خِزْىٌ وَنَدَامَةٌ إِلاَّ مَنْ أَخَذَهَا بِحَقِّهَا وَأَدَّى الَّذِي عَلَيْهِ فِيهَا

I said to the Prophet ﷺ: “Messenger of Allah, will you not appoint me to a public office?” He stroked my shoulder with his hand and said: “Abu Dharr, you are weak and authority is a trust, and on the Day of judgment it is a cause of humiliation and repentance except for one who fulfils its obligations and (properly) discharges the duties attendant therein.”[184]

Changing the bay’a back to shura

As-Sallabi mentions the events after Umar bin Abdul-Aziz had received the bay’a. “Having now officially assumed the seat of the Khilafah, Umar ascended the Minbar (pulpit) in what would be his first encounter with the Ummah. He said: “O people! I have been burdened with the responsibilities of the Khilafah against my own will and without your consent. I thereby remove the bay’a to me that is on your necks so that you are at liberty to elect anyone whom you like.” But the audience cried out with one voice that he was the fittest person for the high office and said: “We have chosen you, O Amir al-Mu’mineen, and we are pleased that you have blessed and honoured our good affair.” At this juncture, Umar sensed that he was not going to be able to evade bearing the responsibility of the Khilafah, and so he decided to go on with determining his method and approach in dealing with the politics of the Muslim Ummah…”[185]

After Umar bin Abdul-Aziz’s death, the Umayyads continued with the wiliyatul-Ahd (succession contract) and so Yazeed ibn Abdul-Malik (Yazeed II) became the Khaleefah according to the contract laid down by Sulayman.

The Mujaddid (reviver) of the first century

The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَبْعَثُ لِهَذِهِ الأُمَّةِ عَلَى رَأْسِ كُلِّ مِائَةِ سَنَةٍ مَنْ يُجَدِّدُ لَهَا دِينَهَا

“At the turn of every century, Allah will send a person to rectify (tujaddidu) the religious affairs of this Ummah.”[186]

The scholars and historians unanimously agree that Umar bin Abd al-Aziz was the first Mujaddid (Reviver; Renewer) in Islam. The first person to ascribe this title to him was Imam Muhammad bin Shihab az-Zuhri, followed by Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal who said: “It is narrated in the Hadith that at the turn of every century Allah will send a person to rectify the religious affairs of this Ummah. We saw that the Mujaddid of the first century was Umar bin Abdul-Aziz.”[187]

The reason he is known as a mujaddid is because he renewed the ruling principles of the rightly guided Khilafah. He started with abolishing hereditary rule, and reviving the concept of shura where the ahlul hali wal-aqd freely choose the leader. He went on to revive the principles of accountability and justice for all citizens, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, and he applied justice not just internally but externally in the state’s foreign policy. This occurred with his abolition of unjust customs duties (maks)[188], and withdrawing the army from Samarkand because it didn’t follow the sharia method of conquest.[189]

8.    Al-Walid bin Yazid bin Abdul-Malik (125H/743CE – 126H/744CE)

Al-Walid’s father Yazid ibn Abdul-Malik became the Khaleefah according to the wiliyatul-ahd (succession contract) of Sulayman ibn Abdul-Malik, who nominated him as the successor after Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz. Since the Umayyads only nominated two successors, this allowed Yazid ibn Abdul-Malik to create a new wiliyatul-ahd. Yazid’s brother, the famous general Maslamah ibn Abdul-Malik, persuaded him to nominate his other brother Hisham ibn Abdul-Malik as the next Khaleefah, and then Yazid’s own son Al-Walid (Al-Walid II) after him.

Yazid and Hisham try to change the designated successors

Yazid regretted appointing Hisham before his son Al-Walid, but as mentioned in the section on Al-Walid ibn Abdul-Malik, the prevalent opinion adopted by the ulema and Ahlul hali wal-aqd was that it is forbidden to change the designated successors, unless the successors voluntarily agree to it. Yazid would say, “It is Allah who stands between me and the one who put Hisham between me and you.”[190]This shows that the sharia was adhered to by the Umayyad Khaleefahs who were not absolute monarchs.

When Hisham became Khaleefah he also wanted to change the designated successors, and remove Al-Walid as the next Khaleefah in favour of his own son Maslamah ibn Hisham. Al-Walid refused to relinquish his position and so Hisham said to al-Walid: “Give Maslamah the bay’a (to succeed) after yourself,” but this too al-Walid refused to do.[191]

Why did Hisham try and remove Al-Walid as a successor?

The reason Hisham ibn Abdul-Malik tried to remove Al-Walid from the wiliyatul-ahd was due to his growing immoral behaviour which would make him unfit to be a Khaleefah. According to Tabari, Al-Walid started keeping bad company and drinking wine. Hisham wanted to keep Al-Walid ibn Yazid away from these bad influences so he appointed him as Head of Hajj in 116H/735CE. Unfortunately, this didn’t help. Al-Walid secretly took hunting dogs with him for the trip which were hidden in trunks. One of the trunks fell and the people saw the dog, but blamed the camel driver, for which he was harshly beaten. Al-Walid also ordered a dome-like tent the size of the Ka’bah to be built for him so that it could be set up on top of the Ka’bah where he and his companions would sit. He also took along with him various wines. When he reached Makkah, his companions warned him off the idea saying, “We don’t feel safe, either on your behalf or our own, from what the people might do,” butthe pilgrims still witnessed Al-Walid behaving in a contemptuous and flippant way towards the religion, and Hisham came to hear about it. It is for this reason Hisham tried to remove Al-Walid as being unfit for the Khilafah.[192]

One of the seven contractual conditions of the bay’a is that the Khaleefah is ‘adl (just). Mawardi mentions, “Two changes in a person’s state will exclude him from the Imamate: the first of these is a lack of decency and the second is a physical deficiency.

As for a lack of decency, that is a moral deviation, it is of two kinds: the first of them resulting from lust, the second from his holding dubious opinions. As for the first it is connected to physical action: he commits forbidden acts, pursues evil, is ruled by his lust and is subject to his passions; this counts as a moral deviation which excludes him from taking up the Imamate or from carrying on with it. Thus if such behaviour befalls someone who has become the Imam, he is disqualified. If he recovers his decency he may not return to the Imamate except by way of a new contract; some of the mutakallimun, however, have said that he may return to the Imamate on his return to probity – without a renewal of his contract and without the bay’a – because of his overall authority in governance and the difficulty involved in renewing his bay’a.”[193]

Hisham prepares his son for ruling

Another contractual condition of the bay’a is capability to rule. All the Umayyad Khaleefahs had ruling experience prior to coming to power. Mostly they would be assigned as heads of the army or hajj, or given a governorship to hone their ruling skills. This continued throughout the Abbasid period until the Khaleefah became a mere figurehead from the 10th to 16th century, with the Sultans being the de facto rulers. Selim I, who was the first Ottoman Khaleefah combined the role of Sultan and Khaleefah and a new line of strong, independent Khaleefahs emerged. Unfortunately, the Ottomans adopted a ‘survival of the fittest’ approach to the next Khaleefah, leaving the succession open to which of the Sultan’s son could make it to Constantinople first and claim the authority. The new Sultan would then have his brothers executed to prevent any fitna arising from potential power rivals. In 1595CE Mehmed III went a step too far in this and executed 19 of his brothers, which led to outcry among the ulema and other officials of the state. After his successor and son Ahmet I died a new system of Kafes (cage) was adopted, where instead of executing the Sultan’s brothers who were potential rivals to the throne, they were imprisoned under house arrest in the harem. This meant they had no ruling experience if at a later date they were called upon to succeed the Khaleefah upon his death or removal. This will be discussed in more detail in Part 5: Bay’a in Islamic History – The Ottoman Khilafah.

Hisham said, “Woe to you, Walid! By Allah, I do not know whether you are for Islam or not. You commit every reprehensible action without feeling any shame or bothering to conceal it.” So al-Walid wrote to Hisham the following poem:

‘O you who ask about our religion,

we follow the religion of Abu Shakir (Maslamah ibn Hisham).

We drink it (the wine) both pure and mixed,

sometimes warmed and sometimes cooled.’

After reading this, Hisham was furious with his son Maslamah whose kunyah (nickname) was Abu Shakir and said to him: “Al-Walid is making use of you to mock me. To think I was rearing you for the Khilafah! Behave in a civilized way and attend the collective prayer.” Hisham put Maslamah in charge of the Hajj in 119H / 737CE where Maslamah devoted himself to acts of religious devotion and behaved in a steady and gentle manner, and distributed money in Makkah and Madinah.[194]

In the end Hisham could not replace Al-Walid with his son Maslamah as the next Khaleefah after him, and in 125H / 743CE Al-Walid ibn Yazid ibn Abdul-Malik became the Khaleefah according to the wiliyatul-ahd of his father.

Al-Walid II makes his two young sons the delegated successors

Maturity is a condition for the post of Khaleefah. Someone who has not reached puberty cannot give bay’a or be given bay’a. Abdullah Ibn Hisham, who was a child at the time of the Prophet ﷺ, was taken by his mother Zainab bint Humair to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ where she said, “O Messenger of Allah! Take his bay’a”. The Prophet ﷺ said: “He is still a little boy”, so he stroked his head and prayed for him,[195] meaning the Prophet ﷺ did not take his bay’a as he was not mature.

Al-Walid ibn Yazid wanted the bay’a to be given to his two young sons, al-Hakam and Uthman so he consulted some of the influentials from the Ahlul hali wal-aqd on this. He consulted Said ibn Bayhas who said, “Don’t do it, for they are young boys who have not yet reached puberty. Have the bay’a given to ‘Atiq ibn Abdul-Aziz ibn al-Walid ibn Abdul-Malik.” Al-Walid was furious and put Said in prison, where he died.[196]

Al-Walid approached Khalid bin Abdullah, the former governor of Iraq and Khorasan under Hisham, to give bay’ato his two sons but Khalid also refused. Some of Khalid’s family said to him: “The Ameer ul-Mu’mineen wanted you to give the bay’a to his two sons yet you refused!” Khalid retorted, “Woe to you! How can I give the bay’a to those behind whom I cannot say my prayers or whose testimony (shahadah) I cannot accept?” They replied: “What about al-Walid? You know all about his wantonness and depravity, yet you still accept his testimony!” Khalid replied: “Al-Walid’s activities are hearsay. I cannot be sure about them. It is only vulgar rumours.”[197] Al-Walid was furious with Khalid and later had him tortured and killed.

In the end Al-Walid did succeed in making his sons, al-Hakam and Uthman as the delegated successors after him.

The removal of Al-Walid ibn Yazid from office

We already mentioned Al-Walid’s immoral behaviour which was well known prior to him becoming Khaleefah. On coming to power, he persisted in this and spent more time in the pursuit of idle pleasures, hunting, drinking wine and keeping bad company.[198] He quickly made many enemies due to his policy of revenge against those who were allies of the previous Khaleefah Hisham, and other members of the Umayyad family who he saw as a threat.

The sons of the previous Khaleefahs, al-Walid ibn Abdul-Malik and Hisham ibn Abdul-Malik had been badly mistreated by Al-Walid. He sentenced Sulayman ibn Hisham ibn Abdul-Malik to 100 lashes, shaving his head and beard and banishing him to ‘Amman, where he put him in prison. He also imprisoned Sulayman’s brother Yazid ibn Hisham.[199]

The tribe of Banu al-Qa’qa’ had supported the previous Khaleefah Hisham ibn Abdul-Malik when he attempted to remove Al-Walid as the delegated successor, and two of their men, al-Walid bin al-Qa’qa’ and Abdul-Malik bin al-Qa’qa’ had been made governors of Qinnasrin and Hims respectively by Hisham. When Al-Walid II came to power the Banu al-Qa’qa’ knew they would be targeted for revenge, and so al-Walid bin al-Qa’qa’ and Abdul-Malik bin al-Qa’qa’ were tortured and killed along with two other men from the tribe.[200]

All of these people and their supporters, along with the Yamani tribes who were part of the Ahlul hali wal-aqd in Ash-Sham and made up most of its soldiers, had a deep hatred for Al-Walid because of his treatment of Khalid bin Abdullah, and his ruining of the Yamani tribes in Khurasan who were its greatest army.[201] Accordingly, the Yamani went to Al-Walid’s cousin Yazid ibn al-Walid who was known for his righteousness and piety, and tried to persuade him to take the bay’a and become the Khaleefah.

Yazid ibn al-Walid consulted ‘Amr b. Yazid al-Hakami, who said: “The people will not give the bay’a to you over this matter. Consult your brother al-‘Abbas ibn al-Walid, for he is the head of the Banu Marwan. If al-‘Abbas gives you the bay’a, no one else will oppose you. If al-‘Abbas refuses, then the people will be more likely to obey him. If you insist on sticking to your opinion, then proclaim publicly that al-‘Abbas has given the bay’a to you.”[202]

As Mawardi mentions, moral deviation “excludes him [the ruler] from taking up the Imamate or from carrying on with it.”[203] Violation of the sharia rules is a red line which must never be crossed. If the Khaleefah does cross this line then his bay’a will become fasid (defective), and if it cannot be remedied through a change in his behaviour, or restitution of the rights of those he has wronged, then he must be removed from office.[204]

In origin this removal must be sanctioned by the judiciary who issue a fatwa of removal. In the Umayyad period there was no Chief Judge (Qadi ul-Qudah) or judicial court which would investigate and pass judgements on government oppression (mazlama). The Abbasids were the first to create the post of Qadi ul-Qudah and the later Sultans institutionalised the court which dealt with government oppression as a Dar Al-Adl (House of Justice). In a future Khilafah this is known as the Mahkamat ul-Mazalim (Court of Unjust Acts) or Supreme Court.

With no judge in the position of Qadi ul-Mazalim, it was left to the Ahlul hali wal-aqd from among the Yamani tribes and Umayyad family to instigate a coup d’état against Al-Walid II.

Initially Yazid ibn al-Walid’s brother Al-Abbas was on the side of Al-Walid, but later defected and gave the bay’a to his brother Yazid. Once Al-Abbas defected so did most of Al-Walid’s forces. Yazid’s other brother Abdul-Aziz ibn al-Walid commanded the army against Al-Walid’s forces.[205] The soldiers of Yazid ibn al-Walid carried a notice attached to a spear on which was written, “We summon you to the Book of Allah and the sunnah of His Prophet, and (we request) that the matter should be determined by shura.”[206]

After a number of skirmishes between the forces of Al-Walid and Abdul-Aziz, Al-Walid fell back and took refuge in a fortress in al-Bakhra (modern day Homs governate Syria) which was originally built by the Persians.[207] The forces of Abdul-Aziz ibn al-Walid surrounded the fortress and Al-Walid asked from behind the fortress door, “Is there anyone amongst you who is an honorable man of noble descent and who has a proper sense of shame, to whom I can speak?” Yazid bin ‘Anbasah al-Saksaki stepped forward and said, “Speak with me.” Al-Walid asked him who he was and he replied: “I am Yazid bin ‘Anbasah.” Then al-Walid exclaimed: “O brother of the Sakasik! Did I not increase your stipends? Did I not remove onerous taxes from you? Did I not make gifts to your poor and give servants to your cripples?” Yazid replied, “We don’t have any personal grudge against you. We are against you because you have violated the sacred ordinances of Allah, because you have drunk wine, because you have debauched the mothers of your father’s sons, and because you have held Allah’s command in contempt.”[208]

Abdul-Aziz’s forces scaled the walls of the fortress and the first one over the top was Yazid bin ‘Anbasah who went to Al-Walid and attempted to bring him in to custody, so they could have consultations on what should be done with him. At that point, ten soldiers from Abdul-Aziz’s army came in to the room and set upon Al-Walid killing him.[209] His head was then taken to Yazid ibn Al-Walid who was camped out in the desert and he formerly became the next Khaleefah by the bay’a of the Yamani tribes and Umayyad family.

Yazid ibn Al-Walid’s Speech after the removal of Al-Walid II

When Yazīd killed al-Walīd, he stood up and said in a khuṭba, “By Allah, I did not revolt out of insolent ingratitude and pride, nor worldly aspiration or desire for kingship. I would be a wrongdoer to myself, if it was not for the mercy of my Lord. On the contrary, I revolted in anger for the sake of Allah and His religion. I came to summon to His Book and the Sunna of His Messenger at a time when the signposts of guidance had been effaced, the light of the godfearing people had been extinguished and a tyrant had appeared, who legalised the unlawful and engaged in innovations. When I saw all this, I was afraid that, because of the large number of your sins and the hardness of your hearts, you would be covered by a darkness that would not be removed. I was afraid that he would summon many people to his way and that they would respond. Therefore, I asked Allah for guidance in my affair and summoned those of my family and the people under my authority who responded. Then Allah relieved the lands and the people from al-Walīd. Sovereignty is from Allah. There is no power or strength, except by Allah.

People! If I am given charge of your affairs, I promise that I will not place brick upon brick nor stone upon stone and that I will not transfer wealth from one region to another until I have fortified its frontiers and seen that its military posts are manned to make you secure. If there is any surplus, I will take it to the next region in order to the means of livelihood are put in order and you are all equal with respect to it. If you want to pledge allegiance to me according to what I have proposed to you, then I am yours. If I deviate, the bay’a is not binding upon you. If you see anyone more capable than me in this and prefer to pledge allegiance to him instead, then I would be the first to give him my allegiance and obey him. I ask Allah to forgive me and you.”[210]

From Yazid’s speech we can clearly see the sharia is the foundation on which the pillars of the bay’a are built. The bay’a being given with free consent and choice by the people of influence, and the Khaleefah fulfilling the conditions of the bay’a stand out here.

The Khaleefah is the state

It’s important to remember that the Khaleefah is the state. His removal is not something which should be taken lightly, or become easy to do when the people express dissatisfaction with his policies. If he is ruling by Islam then he has the authority to make unpopular decisions in the pursuit of the wider objectives of Islam which benefit all of mankind.

It was narrated from ‘Asihah that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “O ‘Uthman, if Allah places you in authority over this matter (as the Khaleefah) someday and the hypocrites want to rid you of the garment with which Allah has clothed you (i.e., the position of Khaleefah), do not take it off.” He said that three times. (One of the narrators) Nu’man said: “I said to ‘Aishah: ‘What kept you from telling the people that?’ She said: ‘I was made to forget it.’”[211]

Also benefit and harm are not a valid criterion for breaking the bay’a.

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “There will be three types of people whom Allah will neither speak to on the Day of Resurrection, nor will He purify them from sins, and they will have a painful punishment. They are,

(1) a man who possessed surplus water (more than he needs) on a way and he withholds it from the travellers.

(2) a man who gives bay’a to an Imam and gives it only for worldly benefits, if the Imam gives him what he wants, he abides by his pledge, otherwise he does not fulfill his pledge

(3) and a man who sells something to another man after the `Asr prayer and swears by Allah (a false oath) that he has been offered so much for it whereupon the buyer believes him and buys it although in fact, the seller has not been offered such a price.”[212]

The removal of a Khaleefah, if not done correctly, can set off a chain of events which leads to fitna and civil war. This is what occurred after the assassination of Uthman bin Affan. Abdullah ibn Salam came upon those who were besieging Uthman ibn Affan and said, “Do not kill him, for, by Allah, any man of you who kills him will meet Allah without a hand. The sword of Allah will remain sheathed, and by Allah, if you kill him, Allah will draw it out and He will never sheathe it again. A prophet was never killed but that seventy thousand were killed because of him, nor a Khaleefah but that thirty-five thousand were killed because of him before they were again united.”[213]

The killing of Al-Walid II and then the coup against Yazid ibn al-Walid’s successor Ibrahim ibn al-Walid by Marwan II, led to internal discord within the state, and the eventual end of Umayyad rule at the hands of the Abbasids.

How would a Khaleefah be removed in a future Khilafah?

The bay’a contract has no fixed time limit similar to other Islamic contracts such as nikah (marriage). This allows the Khaleefah to focus on long term strategic interests of the state rather than short-termism which is a feature of democratically elected presidents. Tocqueville comments on the re-election of the US President in his book ‘Democracy in America’, “Intrigue and corruption are vices natural to elective governments. But when the head of state can be reelected, the vices spread indefinitely and compromise the very existence of the country. When a plain candidate can succeed by intrigue, his maneuvers can only be exercised in a limited space. When, on the contrary, the head of state puts himself in the running, he borrows the force of the government for his own use.”[214]

Although the bay’a in origin is for life, there is provision for annulling the contract if the pillars of the bay’a such as implementation of Islam and justice are contravened as we saw with Al-Walid II. The Khaleefah is not above the law or an absolute monarch, because he is restricted by the sharia in legislation and judiciary.

In the Umayyad period there was no independent judge in the position of Qadi ul-Mazalim, so it was left to the Ahlul hali wal-aqd from among the Yamani tribes and Umayyad family to instigate a coup d’état against Al-Walid II.

In a future Khilafah there needs to be a formal constitutional process for impeaching the Khaleefah to prevent instability and fitna which occurs through coups and revolution. The draft constitution of the Khilafah states,

Article No 41: The court of the mazalim (injustices) is the only one who can decide if the change in the situation of the Khalifah, is a change which removes him from the leadership or not, and it is the only one who has the power to remove or warn him.[215]

Impeachment is a judicial function and must be performed by the Supreme Court which is the Court of Unjust Acts (mazalim) that acts in a similar manner to an upper house. This is the only institution within the state which has the power to remove the Khaleefah. The Khaleefah has no power to remove any judge who is investigating him, and the Khaleefah’s removal must be because he contradicted one or more of the seven contractual conditions of the bay’a, leading to the contract either becoming void (batil) or defective (fasid). If the bay’a contract is still valid, then no impeachment will take place and the Khaleefah will remain in office.

In the Ottoman Khilafah the Sheikh ul-Islam held the position of Qadi Mazalim, and he had the authority to issue a fatwa of removal against the Sultan and Khaleefah. This occurred when he issued a fatwa of removal against Selim III (r. 1789-1807).[216]

9.    Marwan ibn Muhammad ibn Marwan (127H/744CE – 132H/750CE)

Marwan’s coup d’état against Ibrahim ibn Al-Walid

The year 127H/744CE began with Ibrahim ibn Al-Walid bin Abdul Malik as the Khaleefah according to the wiliyatul-ahd (succession contract) of his brother Yazid ibn Al-Walid. All the governors gave him the bay’a as did all the people of Syria except those in Homs. [217]

Marwan bin Muhammad ibn Marwan also known as ‘Al-Himar’ or ‘the Donkey’ was the governor of Azerbaijan and Armenia as was his father before him. Although he was part of the Umayyad family, he was the son of Abdul-Malik ibn Marwan’s brother Muhammad, so was not in line to be designated as a Khaleefah. All the Marwanid Umayyad Khaleefahs were direct descendants of Abdul-Malik, except Umar bin Abdul-Aziz who was Abdul-Malik’s nephew.

After the killing of Al-Walid II, Marwan saw an opportunity to seek power and began to call for revenge for the blood of Al-Walid. He set out with his army and reached Harran in modern day Turkiye where he stopped his call for revenge and gave bay’a to Yazid ibn Al-Walid. Once Yazid had died and Ibrahim ibn Al-Walid became Khaleefah he resumed his call and set out for Damascus with an army of 80,000 soldiers. He first laid siege to Qinnasreen in Northern Syria until they surrendered and gave him bay’a. Then he proceeded towards Homs, who had refused to give bay’a to Ibrahim, and they also gave bay’a to Marwan. The son of the previous Khaleefah Sulayman ibn Hisham was dispatched by the Khaleefah Ibrahim to fight Marwan but he was defeated and made his way back to the capital Damascus.[218]

As mentioned previously, Al-Walid II had designated his two sons Al-Hakam and Uthman as the Khaleefahs after him. When Al-Walid was killed, the new Khaleefah Yazid ibn Al-Walid imprisoned the two sons to prevent Al-Walid’s supporters from mounting a rebellion and bringing them to power. They continued to be imprisoned under Ibrahim’s rule. The predominant opinion adopted in the Umayyad period, was that the wiliyatul-ahd which designated the next Khaleefahs was a binding contract. If the sons were released then Ibrahim and his governors feared that the Ahlul hali wal-aqd from the Syrian tribes and wider Umayyad family would bring them to power, and take revenge against all those who killed their father.

With Marwan II on the verge of entering Damascus, the Syrian governors gathered in the city and agreed to kill Al-Hakam and Uthman. The governor of Al-Ghouta, Yazeed bin Khalid bin Abdullah Al-Qasri was tasked with their killing and made his way to the prison. He managed to kill the two sons, but another prisoner Abu Muhammad As-Sufyani managed to evade capture. When Marwan finally entered the city the Khaleefah Ibrahim ibn Al-Walid fled with Sulayman ibn Hisham. The former prisoner Abu Muhammad As-Sufyani was brought to Marwan in shackles and greeted him as the Khaleefah. Marwan exclaimed, ‘What!’ in surprise whereupon As-Sufyani responded by saying, ‘The two boys named you as their heir after them.’[219]

Although Marwan II was a usurper, he was now the Khaleefah after taking over the capital Damascus and receiving the bay’a from the influential tribes. Marwan moved his capital to Harran and settled with his army there.

End of the Umayyads

Within a matter of months rebellions broke out across the state in Syria, Iraq, Hijaz and Khorasan as widespread discontent with Umayyad rule finally reached boiling point. Marwan then set out to try and quell these rebellions killing tens of thousands of Muslims in the process. He managed to subdue many of the rebellious provinces but was finally defeated by the army of the Abbasids who had managed to galvanise anti-Umayyad opposition in to one movement. Under the command of Abu Muslim Al-Khorasani and Abul-Abbas as-Saffah, Marwan and the last of the Umayyads were defeated at the Battle of Zab in Iraq in 132H/750CE marking the end of the Umayyad Khilafah.

The rise of the Abbasids and how they managed to galvanise anti-Umayyad opposition will be discussed in Part 3: Bay’a in the Abbasid Khilafah.

Dangers of Hereditary Rule

Hereditary rule entered the Khilafah when the first Umayyad Khaleefah Mu’awiya made his son Yazid the heir apparent. Ibn Khaldoon says, “What prompted Mu‘awiyah to give precedence to his son Yazid and appoint him as Khaleefah, rather than anyone else, was the belief that this would serve the interests of the Muslims by uniting them and bringing them together behind one man, with the approval of the decision-makers at that time, who were from Banu Umayyah, because at that time Banu Umayyah would not accept anyone (as Khaleefah) except one of their own number. They were the strongest clan of Quraysh and the ones who had the greatest influence. [220] He also says, “Mu’awiyah issued instructions for Yazid to become Khaleefah for fear of the Muslims becoming divided.”[221]

One of the benefits cited for a monarchy is the clear line of succession for future rulers of the kingdom. Historically, this was seen as providing a stable system that prevents a power vacuum after the King dies. While Mu’awiya may have had good intentions in appointing Yazid and wanting to stabilise the Khilafah after his death, in actuality this deviation from shura and instituting hereditary rule had the opposite effect. Seventy years after Mu’awiya instigated hereditary rule the entire Umayyad dynasty collapsed.

Hitti says, “With the fall of the Umayyads the glory of Syria passed away, its hegemony ended. The Syrians awoke too late to the realization that the centre of gravity in Islam had left their land and shifted eastward, and though they made several armed attempts to regain their former importance all proved futile.”[222]

Deviating from the sharia even by an inch will never lead to a good outcome in the long run. Allah says, “Perhaps you dislike something which is good for you and like something which is bad for you. Allah knows and you do not know.”[223]

The Rightly Guided Khaleefahs understood this danger and were strict in preventing any semblance of hereditary rule appearing in the state.

Abu Bakr announced to the people, “Will you be satisfied with him whom I have left as my successor over you? For, by Allah, I do not shun the effort [to reach] the best opinion, nor have I appointed a relative. I have designated Umar ibn al-Khattab as my successor; therefore, hear him and obey.” They responded, “We hear and obey.”[224]

Someone said to Umar ibn Al-Khattab on who the next Khaleefah should be, “I can point to someone, Abdullah ibn ‘Umar.” But (‘Umar) replied, “Allah curse you! You were not saying this for Allah’s sake! You wretch! How can I appoint someone as Khaleefah who has been unable to divorce his wife! We have no desire (to get involved) in your affairs. I have not found (the Khilafah) so praiseworthy that I should covet it for my own family. If things turn out well, we shall have gained our reward from them; but if they turn out badly, then it is enough for the family of ‘Umar that (only) one of them should be called to account and held responsible for what happened to Muhammad ‘s community. I have striven and have kept my own family out.”[225]

As death approached ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, Jundab bin Abdullah asked him, “Amir ul-Mu’mineen, if we have lost you – and may we not – we will give the bay’a to al-Hasan!” Ali said, “I do not order you to do so, and neither do I forbid it. You people are best fitted to see!”[226] Although al-Hasan became the Khaleefah after Ali, this was the choice based on shura of the people in Kufa.

Transferring the bay’a to hereditary rule and confining ruling positions to the Umayyad family, meant that any other political faction that wanted power would have to fight for it as happened with the Abbasids. It also meant that rulers would emerge who were not suitable for the position such as Walid II, and this would lead to infighting among the ruling family which happened when Marwan II fought against his cousin Ibrahim.

Unfortunately, with the Abbasids coming to power they continued dynastic rule, and this led to the same problems that plagued the Umayyads occurring within the Abbasid family. Harun al-Rashid’s two sons Al-Amin and Al-Ma’mun fought a bitter civil war over who should be the Khaleefah. From the early 10th century the Abbasid Khilafah became fragmented and then semi-independent Sultanates emerged in the 11th century and beyond. From this time the Khaleefah became a mere figurehead with limited power, and although the bay’a and structure of the state existed, the Khilafah never regained its central authority until 600 years later when the Ottomans took over the state under Selim I in 1517.

Looking forward

Most of the civil wars and political instability in Islamic history can be traced back to the misapplication of the bay’a, and disputes over who the next Khaleefah should be.

Going forward we need to devise a stable transfer of power, and find a suitable model for selecting the next Khaleefah which works and is accepted by the majority of the ummah.

This will be discussed in an upcoming series “Modelling the Caliphate”.

Notes


[1] Al-Dhahabi, ‘Tarikh al-Islam – Ahd ul-Khulufa’ Rashida,’ ‘Vol. 3, pp.540

[2] Sahih Muslim 1844a, https://sunnah.com/muslim:1844a

[3] Dr Ali Muhammad As-Sallaabee, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib,’ International Islamic Publishing House, Vol.2, pp.178

[4] Sallaabee, ‘The Biography of Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq’, pp.628

[5] Hugh Kennedy, ‘The Prophet and the Age of the Caliphates: The Islamic Near East from the 6th to the 11th Century,’ 2nd Edition, Harlow: Pearson Education Ltd, pp.92

[6] Ibid

[7] Ibn Sa’d, at-Tabaqat al-Kubra at Tabaqat al-Khamisah min as-Sahabah, 1:331

[8] Sallaabee, ‘Hasan ibn Ali, his life and times,’ International Islamic Publishing House, pp.170

[9] at-Tirmidhi 2226, https://sunnah.com/tirmidhi/33/69

[10] Ibn Kathir, ‘The Khilafah of Banu Umayyah,’ translation of Bidiyah wan-Nihiya, Darussalam, pp.21

[11] Abu l-Hasan al-Mawardi, The Laws of Islamic Governance, translation of Al-Ahkam as-Sultaniyah, Ta Ha Publishers, pp.27

[12] Jalal ad-Din as-Suyuti, ‘History of the Khalifahs who took the right way,’ translated by Abdassamad Clarke, Ta Ha Publishers, pp.146

[13] Jalal ad-Din as-Suyuti, ‘History of the Umayyad Khaleefahs,’ translated by T.S.Andersson, Ta Ha Publishers, pp.24

[14] Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil, Volume 3, ‘The year 56H,’ pp.351

[15] Ibn Kathir, ‘The Khilafah of Banu Umayyah,’ translation of Bidiyah wan-Nihiya, Darussalam, pp.82

[16] Sahih Muslim 1854a, https://sunnah.com/muslim/33/97

[17] Imam Nawawi, Sharh Sahih Muslim

[18] Abu Ja`far Muhammad b. Jarir al-Tabari, ‘The History of Al-Tabari’, translation of Ta’rikh al-rusul wa’l-muluk, State University of New York Press, Volume XVIII, pp.186

[19] Jalal ad-Din as-Suyuti, ‘History of the Umayyad Khaleefahs,’ Op.cit., pp.24

[20] Ibid, pp.724

[21] Jalal ad-Din as-Suyuti, ‘History of the Umayyad Khaleefahs,’ Op.cit., pp.24

[22] Ibid

[23] Holy Qur’an, Surah At-Tauba, verse 100

[24] al-Mawardi, Op.cit., pp.12

[25] al-Mawardi, Op.cit., pp.18

[26] Jalal ad-Din as-Suyuti, ‘History of the Umayyad Khaleefahs,’ Op.cit., pp.24

[27] Ibn Khaldoon, al-Muqaddimah, pp.109

[28] Ibn Khaldoon, al-Muqaddimah, pp.106

[29] Holy Qur’an, Surah Al-Baqara, verse 216

[30] Shams ad-Dīn adh-Dhahabi, ‘Siyar A’laam al-Nubalaa,’ part 4, pp. 38

[31] Tafseer Aloosi (Ruh Al-Maani), 26/73

[32] al-Mawardi, Op.cit., pp.11

[33] Musnad Ahmad Bin Hanbal: Majma’ Az-Zawaa’id: 6/244

[34] Musnad Ahmad Bin Hanbal: 1/184

[35] Saheeh Al-Bukhaari: 6830, Fat’h ul-Baari’: 12/144

[36] Dr Muhammad Khair Haikal, ‘Al-Jihaad Wal-Qitaal Fee As-Siyaasah Ash-Shar’iyah,’ Volume One, Dar ul Thaqafah, pp.321

[37] Holy Qur’an, Surah At-Tauba, verse 100

[38] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.1

[39] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.2

[40] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.7

[41] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.7

[42] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.10

[43] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.10

[44] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.17

[45] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.17

[46] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.17

[47] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.18

[48] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.11

[49] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.15

[50] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.18

[51] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.21

[52] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.64

[53] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.16

[54] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.190

[55] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.191

[56] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.195

[57] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.197

[58] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.198

[59] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.198

[60] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.200

[61] Ibn Kathir, ‘The Khilafah of Banu Umayyah,’ Op.cit., pp.185

[62] Ibid, pp.187

[63] Ibid, pp.188

[64] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.223

[65] Ibn Kathir, ‘The Khilafah of Banu Umayyah,’ Op.cit., pp.193

[66] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.2

[67] Ibid

[68] This is disparaging reference to Ibn az-Zubayr. The mother of his grandfather Khuwaylid was Zuhrah bint ‘Umar bin Hanthar of the clan of Kahn of the tribe of Asad.

[69] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.6

[70] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.7

[71] Ibid

[72] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.10

[73] Ibid

[74] Sahih Muslim 1853, https://sunnah.com/muslim:1853

[75] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.8

[76] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.10

[77] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.11

[78] Ibid

[79] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.15

[80] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.16

[81] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.196

[82] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.191

[83] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.190

[84] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XX, pp.1

[85] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.17

[86] Ibid

[87] Ibid

[88] Ibid

[89] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.18

[90] Ibid

[91] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.19

[92] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.21

[93] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.67

[94] Dr Haikal, Op.cit., pp.328

[95] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.64

[96] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.198

[97] Ibid

[98] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.200

[99] Ibn Kathir, ‘The Khilafah of Banu Umayyah,’ Op.cit., pp.185

[100] Ibid

[101] Ibid pp.185

[102] Sahih Muslim 1851a, https://sunnah.com/muslim:1851a

[103] Sahih al-Bukhari 7111, https://sunnah.com/bukhari:7111

[104] Sunan Ibn Majah 2045, https://sunnah.com/ibnmajah:2045

[105] Ibn Kathir, ‘The Khilafah of Banu Umayyah,’ Op.cit., pp.187

[106] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.205

[107] Ibn Kathir, ‘The Khilafah of Banu Umayyah,’ Op.cit., pp.190

[108] Ibid

[109] Ibn Kathir, ‘The Khilafah of Banu Umayyah,’ Op.cit., pp.192

[110] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.223

[111] Ibn Kathir, ‘The Khilafah of Banu Umayyah,’ Op.cit., pp.193

[112] Ibid

[113] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XX, pp.4

[114] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XX, pp.47

[115] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XX, pp.50

[116] Ibn Kathir, ‘The Khilafah of Banu Umayyah,’ Op.cit., pp.193

[117] Ibn Kathir, ‘The Khilafah of Banu Umayyah,’ Op.cit., pp.205

[118] Ibn Kathir, ‘The Khilafah of Banu Umayyah,’ Op.cit., pp.206

[119] Jalal ad-Din as-Suyuti, ‘History of the Umayyad Khaleefahs,’ Op.cit., pp.42

[120] Narrated by Ahmed from ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr

[121] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIX, pp.1

[122] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XX, pp.7

[123] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XX, pp.43

[124] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XX, pp.39

[125] Ibid

[126] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XX, pp.69

[127] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XXI, pp.210

[128] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XVIII, pp.182

[129] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XVIII, pp.209

[130] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XX, pp.49

[131] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XX, pp.50

[132] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XX, pp.49

[133] Ibid

[134] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XX, pp.50

[135] Ibid

[136] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XX, pp.48

[137] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XX, pp.47

[138] Hugh Kennedy, Op.cit., pp.92

[139] Ibid

[140] Sunan an-Nasa’i 4115, https://sunnah.com/nasai:4115

[141] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XX, pp.71

[142] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XXI, pp.210

[143] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XX, pp.56

[144] Ibid

[145] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XX, pp.57

[146] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XX, pp.56

[147] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XX, pp.56

[148] Ibid

[149] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XX, pp.59

[150] Ibn Katheer, ‘The Khilafah of Banu Umayyah The First Phase,’ Op.cit., pp.209

[151] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XX, pp.58

[152] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XX, pp.57

[153] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XX, pp.56

[154] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XX, pp.57

[155] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XX, pp.58

[156] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XX, pp.69

[157] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XX, pp.58

[158] al-Mawardi, Op.cit., pp.23

[159] Taqiuddin an-Nabhani, ‘The Ruling System in Islam,’ translation of Nizam ul-Hukm fil Islam, Khilafah Publications, Fifth Edition, p.223

[160] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XX, pp.161

[161] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XX, pp.160

[162] Sahih Muslim 1853, https://sunnah.com/muslim:1853

[163] Sahih al-Bukhari 3667, https://sunnah.com/bukhari:3667

[164] Baihaqi from Ibn Ishaq, https://al-maktaba.org/book/6947/987

[165] al-Mawardi, Op.cit., pp.16

[166] Jalal ad-Din as-Suyuti, ‘History of the Umayyad Khaleefahs,’ Op.cit., pp.45

[167] Taqiuddin an-Nabhani, ‘The Ruling System in Islam,’ Op.cit., pp.62

[168] Ibn Hajar, Fath Al-Bari (13/7)

[169] Ata Abu Rashta, ‘Q&A: The Legislative (Shari’) Method of Establishing the Khilafah and the Dominant Sultan,’ Khilafah.com

[170] Sahih al-Bukhari 7203, https://sunnah.com/bukhari:7203

[171] Tabari places this event under 96H but al-Hajjaj died in Ramadan/Shawwal 95H, 8 months before Al-Walid died so it had to take place in 95H.

[172] al-Mawardi, Op.cit., pp.23

[173] al-Mawardi, Op.cit., pp.24

[174] al-Mawardi, Op.cit., pp.25

[175] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XXIII, pp.222

[176] Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 7144, https://sunnah.com/bukhari:7144 ; Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 1839, https://sunnah.com/muslim:1839a

[177] Siyar A ‘lam an-Nubala’ [The Lives of Noble Figures] (5/148-9); Athar al-‘Ulama’ fil-Hayat as-Siyasiyyah [The Influence of Scholars in Political Life], pp. 167

[178] Siyar A ‘lam an-Nubalii’ [The Lives of Noble Figures] (5/149)

[179] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XXIV, pp.70

[180] Dr. Ali Muhammad As-Sallabi, ‘Umar bin Abd al-Aziz,’ Darussalam, pp.106

[181] al-Tabari, ‘The History of Al-Tabari’, State University of New York Press, Volume XIV, pp.146

[182] Sahih Muslim, https://sunnah.com/muslim:142g

[183] Al-Bukhari and Muslim, https://sunnah.com/riyadussalihin:376

[184] Sahih Muslim 1825, https://www.sunnah.com/muslim/33/19

[185] Dr. Ali Muhammad As-Sallabi, ‘Umar bin Abd al-Aziz,’ Darussalam, pp.107

[186] Sunan Abi Dawud 4291, https://sunnah.com/abudawud:4291

[187] Dr. Ali Muhammad As-Sallabi, ‘Umar bin Abd al-Aziz,’ Darussalam, pp.203

[188] Ibid, pp.154

[189] Ibid, pp.150

[190] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XXVI, pp.87

[191] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XXVI, pp.89

[192] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XXVI, pp.88

[193] al-Mawardi, Op.cit., pp.29

[194] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XXVI, pp.89

[195] Bukhari 7210, https://sunnah.com/bukhari:7210

[196] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XXVI, pp.128

[197] Ibid

[198] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XXVI, pp.126

[199] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XXVI, pp.127

[200] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XXVI, pp.136

[201] Ibn Katheer, ‘The Khilafah of Banu Umayyah The First Phase,’ Op.cit., pp.611

[202] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XXVI, pp.137

[203] al-Mawardi, Op.cit., pp.29

[204] Hizb ut-Tahrir, ‘An Introduction to the Constitution and its obligation,’ a translation of ‘Muqadimatud-Dustur Aw al-Asbabul Mujibatulah,’ pp.125

[205] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XXVI, pp.152

[206] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XXVI, pp.158

[207] Denis Genequand, ‘Al-Bakhra’ (Avatha), from the Tetrarchic Fort to the Umayyad Castle,’

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/233644468_Al-Bakhra’_Avatha_from_the_Tetrarchic_Fort_to_the_Umayyad_Castle

[208] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XXVI, pp.153

[209] Ibid

[210] Jalal ad-Din as-Suyuti, ‘History of the Umayyad Khaleefahs,’ Op.cit., pp.87

[211] Ibn Majah 112, https://sunnah.com/ibnmajah:112

[212] Sahih al-Bukhari 7212, https://sunnah.com/bukhari:7212

[213] as-Suyuti, ‘History of the Khalifahs who took the right way,’ Op.Cit., pp.177, Abd ar-Razzaq narrated in the Musannaf from Humayd ibn Hilal

[214] Alexis De Tocqueville, ‘Democracy in America,’ THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS, 2002, pp.178

[215] Hizb ut-Tahrir, ‘An Introduction to the Constitution and its obligation,’ Op.cit., pp.125

[216] Dr. Yakoob Ahmed, Ottoman History Course

[217] Ibn Katheer, ‘The Khilafah of Banu Umayyah The First Phase,’ Op.cit., pp.627

[218] ibid

[219] Ibn Katheer, ‘The Khilafah of Banu Umayyah The First Phase,’ Op.cit., pp.630

[220] Ibn Khaldoon, al-Muqaddimah, pp.109

[221] Ibn Khaldoon, al-Muqaddimah, pp.106

[222] Philip K. Hitti, ‘History of the Arabs From the Earliest Times to the Present,’ 10th Edition, pp.286

[223] Holy Qur’an, Surah Al-Baqara, verse 216

[224] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XXIII, pp.147

[225] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIV, pp.144

[226] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XVII, pp.218

[227] al-Bayhaqi, al-I’tiqad ‘ala Madh-hab as-Salaf Ahl as-Sunnah wal-Jama’ah, 184. Its chain of narration is good.