The Shia Rulers of Banu Ammar, Banu Mardas and the Mazidi
This Shi'ite family ruled over Tripoli (Lebanon) and changed it into a light-house of knowledge, literature and Jihad. One member of this family was Hasan bin 'Ammar, about whom the Encyclopedia of Islam says:
As was Aleppo a centre of poetry during the reign of Saif-ud-Dawlah, so was Tripoli during the period of Hasan bin Ammar. The city developed during his rule and became a centre of intellectual life in the Syrian territory. He established big school with a library attached to it.
The magazine "Ath-Thaqafah" writes about the library mentioned in the above-given quotation:
On account of this library, knowledge spread throughout the city so much so that the historians say that Tripoli on the whole had become a Dar-ul-'Ilm. In this library were employed 180 persons who had nothing to do except preparing copies of books or buying books to be placed there. Most of the credit for it, or rather whole of it goes to Abi Talib al-Hasan bin Ammar. Apart from this, the field in which this family contributed its most was their participation in jihad (holy war). The champion in this field was 'Ammar bin Muhammad bin 'Ammar who was known as Malik-us-Sahil (King of the Coast). He bravely checked the repeated invasions of the Crusaders on Tripoli for more than five years.
During his days, Sanjil the Frank captured Byblos and erected a fortress on way to Tripoli as well as watch towers. Hearing this, Fakhrul-Malik came along with three hundred horsemen from Tripoli and burnt down his ramparts. Sanjil stood on some of its burnt golden roofs along with his companions and become disheartened on looking at that scene, fell ill and died.
The poet Ibn-ul-Khyayyat praised him too much and wrote a number of eulogies addressed to him.
When Ammar saw that the Crusaders were increasing in number and power and that danger was increasing against his country, that he was not able to check those invasions after firmly standing against them for five years which had told upon his forces and disheartened his armies, he desired to seek help from the Caliph in Baghdad. He therefore sent and immediate appeal to Baghdad but was frustrated in this attempt because Baghdad was ruled by the Saljuqs at that time who did not care for what was happening in Tripoli. They, therefore, let Tripoli fight its battle and meet its fate alone. Fakhr-ul-Malik 'Ammar came back to Tripoli to participate in its fate and continued fighting heroically. In the end he was rendered helpless to stand against the onslaught of the Crusaders for long times who were pouring in from every direction. Tripoli fell to the Crusaders in the year 503 A.H.
Banu Mardas set up their government at the disintegration of the Hamdanid state. Byzantines were still threatening the whole Islamic world. This new state therefore followed the policy of the Hamdanids in every respect, in their national spirit, in their bravery and heroism, in the love for art and literature. The circumstances made the Mardasids face the same conditions and act same way as the Hamdanids had and did.
The founder of this state in Aleppo was Saleh bin Mardas who became ruler in 414 A.H. and adopted the title of Asad-ud-Dawlah. His territory included Baalbak, Hims, Saidon, Aleppo, Manbaj, Balis, Riqqah, Rabbah extending upto Aanah. This means it included the Syrian portion of the valley of Euphrates.
As to the founder of this state, Saleh, he has been portrayed by tradition as a hero who spent his time in battle fields and when had some peace, Saleh could move him as did poetry and no one except the writer who gave him company.
The details of the heroic stand of the Mardasids have been lost, except a very brief outline. But even this outline is bright enough to let us appreciate how they repelled the attacks and protected their cities and how they firmly stood to save that part of the Islamic territory which was in their hand. One incident will show to us the danger which was hanging over Syria and the Mardasids were facing that danger.
In the year 421 A.H. that is one year after the death of Saleh, the Byzantine king Armanus reached Aleppo in the company of the kings of Russia, Bulgaria, Germany, Belgium, Armenia, and Georgia, as the historians have narrated. They had an army of 600,000, Nasir bin Saleh checked this invasion and stood against this onslaught till he defeated this huge army and chased them out. Many of the European princes were taken prisoners and a large booty fell to the share of the Muslims.
This battle is considered to be one of the decisive battles of Islamic history. Very few instances are available when such an army was mobilized and such terrible force was gathered. To think of 600,000 warriors was a terrible thing at that time, especially against a newly formed small state like that of the Mardasids. It was not possible for the Mardasids state to stay more than it did under those circumstances and in that period of perpetual turmoil. The state disappeared but the tribe which this state is named after did not disappear from the pages of history. They remained heroes of the Islamic battles under the name Banu Kilab. It is sufficient for the reader to have this citation from Al-Qalqashandi from the fourth volume of Subh-ule-Asha, saying, "■■They were Bedouins living around Aleppo. They had many adventures and attacked the Byzantines and were the bravest of the Bedouins."
The people of this tribe remained famous as brave horsemen under the leadership of Mardasids till the beginning of the Crusade when the whole Islamic world was pushed into these wars. They joined these wars against the Crusaders under the leadership of Waththab bin Muhammad bin Nasr bin Saleh bin Mardas in 491 A.H.
The Mazidi State
The was an Shi'ite state which rose in Iraq. Imad al-Isfahani says about the rulers, "They were Arabs, belonging to Bani Mazid from the Asadi Tribe. They established themselves with the strength of their swords on the banks of Euphrates. They were the refuge of those who were in need of it, the shelter for the expectants, the helpers of those who sought help and supporters of the weak.
People with expectation were attracted towards them and scholars found money with them. What they did in spending on good purpose is too well known and talks of their generosity too common. Sadaqah shook with pride when he listened to poetry and set aside for the poet a special part of his generosity. He made them free from poverty. He accepted them in his audience. He was all ears to listen to the requests of people and very generous in giving them what they needed.
Shorter Shi'ite Encyclopaedia