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Abd al-Malik bin Marwan

The Islamic Caliphate, which was the Shade of Allah on the earth, reached to one of the Umayyad stubborn tyrants. He was 'Abd al-Malik b. Marwan. He was appointed as caliph during the lifetime of his father. When his father perished, the pledge of allegiance to him was renewed in Damascus and Egypt.(Ibn Kuthayr, Ta`rikh, vol. 8, p. 260).
3 The narrators said: "Before 'Abd al-Malik b. Marwan became a caliph, he had displayed asceticism and worship, that he might deceive the populace and pave the way to government. When he was given good news of the kingdom, he closed the copy of the Qur'an, which was in his hand, and said:
'This is the end of the covenant with you.' Or he said: 'This is a separation between me and you.'1" He was truthful to his words, for he separated himself from Allah's Book from the first moment when he held the reins of government, ruled the Muslims with a black policy, and empowered over them men like wolves, and they spread tyranny, injustice, and terrorism.
'Abd al-Malik was an arrogant tyrant. He paid no attention to what he did, as al-Mansur al-Dawaniqi said.(Al-Maqrzi, al-Niza`' wa al-Takha`sum, p. 8).
It was he who said: "After this station of mine, if someone orders me to fear Allah, I will cut off his neck!(Al-Siyu`ti, Ta`rikh al-Khulafa`', p. 219).
" He also said: "I will cure this community with nothing except with the sword until your affairs go well with me!(Al-Maqrzi, al-Dhahab al-Masbu`k, p. 29).
" Have you seen how did he treat his subjects rudely? He did not treat them with mercy and kindness. Rather he treat them with violence, tyranny, and injustice. These qualities were some of his psychological pleasure. Rather they were some of his personal elements. He went too far in shedding blood without any right, hence he spread bereavement, sadness, and lamentation among the houses of the Muslims. Umm al-Darda' said to him: "I have heard that you drank wine after asceticism and worship!" "Yes, by Allah! I have also drunk blood!" he replied. He shed the blood of the Muslims and drank it until he became full.
In addition to his tyranny, violence, and wrongdoing, he was a miser. Hence he was called Rashah al-Hijara (the Oozing of the Stone).(Al-Qada`'i, Ta`rikh, p. 72).
During the days of his government, the community suffered hunger, poverty, and deprivation. We will briefly mention some of his unjust works and his attitudes toward Imam Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him.
His Appointing al-Hajjaj as Governor
'Abd al-Malik poured upon the Muslims a shower of painful torture, and turned their life into an unbearable inferno. This was when he appointed as governor al-Hajjaj b. Yousif al-Thaqafi, who was the worst terrorist whom mankind has ever known throughout history. He gave him wide-range authority. He made him move about in the affairs of the state according to his desires and inclinations, which did not yield, in any case, to the logic of law; rather they yielded to the logic of violence and dictatorship.
Hence, al-Hajjaj ordered some people to be executed; some to be imprisoned; some to be arrested. He did this to meet his desires, not to preserve the regime. Accordingly, he created an atmosphere of political crises which were unique in cruelty and bitterness. We will briefly speak about some of the aspects of his wrongdoing:
His Shedding Blood
This arrogant tyrant shed the blood of the Muslims without any right. AL-Damyari said: "Al-Hajjaj could not withhold himself from shedding blood. He committed what none did.(Hayat al-Hayawa`n, vol. 1, p. 167).
Those whom he killed without any right, except those whom he killed during his battles, were counted, and they were one hundred and twenty thousand people.(Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, vol. 2, p. 211. Taysr al-Wsu`l, vol. 4, p. 31).
It was said that they were one hundred and thirty thousand people.(Hayat al-Hayawa`n, vol. 1, p. 170).
He officially confessed shedding blood when he said: "By Allah, I think that there is none on the earth bolder than me in shedding blood.(Ibn Sa'd, Tabaqa`t, vol. 6, p. 66).
He killed with his own sword the reciters of the Qur'an, the worshippers, and the scholars when they supported the revolt of Ibn al-Ash'ath. Among those whom he killed without any right was Sa'id b. Jubayr, who was a great religious scholar and among the eminent figures of the Shi'ites. Al-Hasan al-Basri praised Sa'id saying: "By Allah, Sa'id b. Jubayr died, while all the people on the earth were in need of his knowledge.(Hayat al-Hayawa`n, vol. 1, p. 171).
His Making Little of the Prophet
Al-Hajjaj showed mortal enmity toward the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, and harbored malice against him. Before the people, he addressed Allah, the Exalted, saying: "Which is better-Your Messenger (Mohammed) or Your caliph ('Abd al-Malik)?(Al-Ja`hiz, Rasa`'il, p. 297. Al-Maqrzi, al-Niza`' wa al-Takha`sum, p. 27).
He punished and laughed at those who visited the grave of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, saying: "Woe unto them! They circle walls and decayed bones! Why do they not go round the palace of 'Abd al-Malik, the Commander of the faithful? Do they not know that the Caliph is better than the Messenger?(Al-Arbali, Khula`sat al-Dhahab al-Masbu`k, p. 9).
This rude person (al-Hajjaj) preferred 'Abd al-Malik to the greatest Messenger, whom Allah sent as mercy for mankind. He not only made little of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, but also his survival Companions. The historians said: "Al-Hajjaj spared no effort to abase the Prophet's companions to the extent that he stamped their necks and their hands.(Al-Arbali, Khula`sat al-Dhahab al-Masbu`k, p. 9 ;Ta`rikh al-Khlafa`', p. 221).
His Showing Enmity toward ahl al-Bayt
This evil criminal (al-Hajjaj) went too far in displaying enmity toward the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt), from whom Allah took away uncleanliness, and whom He purified completely. Hence he wrote to 'Abd al-Malik saying: "If you want your kingdom to be firm, then kill 'Ali b. al-Husayn." However, 'Abd al-Malik did not respond to him and wrote to him:
"Keep me away from the blood of the Hashimites, and spare their blood. This is because Allah removed the kingdom of the family of Abi Sufyan when they went to extremes in shedding their blood."
When Imam Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, heard of this, he thanked 'Abd al-Malik and lauded him.
The historians said that the best means to seek nearness to al-Hajjaj was disparaging Imam 'Ali, the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him. A man came and said to Him: "O Emir, my family has wronged me when it named me 'Ali! I am poor and miserable! I am in need of the Emir's gifts!"
Al-Hajjaj was pleased with the man, hence he said to him: "It is gentle of you, hence I have appointed over so-and-so.(Haya`t al-Ima`m al-Hasan bin 'Ali, vol. 2, p. 336).
Hisham al-Kalbi narrated: "The children of Awad taught their children how to curse 'Ali b. Abi Talib. A man belonging to the tribe of 'Abd Allah b. Idris b. Hani'. The man came to al-Hajjaj b. Yousif and said some words to him. Al-Hajjaj answered the man crudely, hence the man interrupted him saying: 'Do not say this, O Emir! We have the excellencies of which Quraysh and Thaqif boast !'"
Al-Hajjaj admired the man and asked him: "What are your excellencies?"
"We never disparage 'Uthman in our assembly, nor do we mention him with evil," replied the man.
"This is an excellence," explained al-Hajjaj.
"We have no rebel," said the man.
"This is an excellence," said al-Hajjaj.
Then the man went on mentioning the excellencies of his people saying: "None of us attended an assembly of Abi Turab (Imam 'Ali) except one man, and this has made him fallen and unknown in our eyes. He has neither importance nor value with us." Al-Hajjaj was pleased with this, hence he said: "This is an excellence."
The man said: "If one of us wants to marry a woman, he asks her whether she loves Abu Turab (Imam 'Ali) or not. If she loves him, he turns aside from her and does not marry her."
Al-Hajjaj said: "This is an excellence."
The man said: "We have never named our sons 'Ali, Hasan, and Husayn, nor have we named our daughters Fatima."
Al-Hajjaj said: "This is an excellence."
The man said: "When al-Husayn came to Iraq, one of our womenfolk vowed that if Allah had killed him, she would have ordered ten camels to be slaughtered. When he was killed, she performed her vow."
Al-Hajjaj became happy with this excellence and said: "This is an excellence."
The man said: "One of our men was summoned to renounce and curse 'Ali, and he said: 'I renounce and curse not only him, but also al-Hasan and al-Husayn!'"
Al-Hajjaj hastened to say: "By Allah, this is an excellence!"
The man said: "'Abd al-Malik, the Commander of the faithful, said to us: 'You are the underwear (shi'ar) which is under the outer garments (dithar) (i.e., the nearest to me), and you are the supporters (ansar) after the Supporters.'"
Al-Hajjaj said: "This is an excellence!"(Al-Majlisi, Biha`r al-Anwa`r, vol. 46, pp. 119-120).
This is sufficient proof for the exalted position of Imam 'Ali, the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him, for none detested him except those who had neither honor nor excellence, such as al-Hajjaj b. Yousif and his corrupt followers.
His Demolishing the Kaaba
An example of the crimes and offenses of this tyrant (al-Hajjaj) was his aggression against the Holy House, which Allah has appointed as security for men. He besieged it for six months and seventeen nights when Ibn al-Zubayr sought sanctuary in it. He placed his fighters on the Mountain of Abi Qays and commanded them to throw fire and stones at the Kaaba with their catapults. His fighters carried out his commands and said:
We are throwing (fire and stones) at the walls of that Masjid with catapults like a foaming bull!( Ibn 'Asa`kir, Tahdhb, vol. 4, p. 50).
This tyrant did not respect the Sacred House of Allah; he violated its sacredness. Yazid b. Mu'awiya had violated its sacredness before him.
Imam Zayn al-'Abidin returns the Black Stone
After al-Hajjaj had demolished the Holy Kaaba, the religious scholars and judges wanted to rebuild it. When they wanted to place the Black Stone in its place, it did not become stable. Imam Zayn al-'Abidin came, and the people magnified him. Then he took the Black Stone and returned it to its place, and it became stable. Hence the people loudly exclaimed: "Allah is Great!"
(Zayn al-Dn al-'Amili, al-Sira`t al-Mustaqm, vol. 2, p. 181).
This professional terrorist (al-Hajjaj) used the prisons which did not protect (the prisoners) from heat and coldness. He severely tortured the prisoners. He drew them on broken Persian canes until they bled. The historians said: "Fifty thousand men and thirty thousand women died in his prisons. He imprisoned both men and women in one place.(Haya`t al-Hayawa`n, vol. 1, p. 170).
" There were thirty-three thousand innocent prisoners in his prisons.(Mu'jam al-Bulda`n, vol. 5, p. 349).
He passed by the prisoners and said to them: 'Go away into it and speak not to Me!'(Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, vol. 2, p. 212).
He likened the prisoners to the inhabitants of the Fire, and likened himself to the Great Creator.
His Death
Allah punished this wicked criminal (al-Hajjaj), who drowned the country in afflictions and misfortunes. He made Canker attack his stomach, and cold attack his body. The braziers full of fire were placed around him. They were brought nearer to him to the extent that they burnt his body, but he did not feel them. Pain attacked him severely, hence he complained of this to al-Hasan al-Basri, and he said to him:
"I had prohibited you from mistreating the righteous, but you insisted on this." Then al-Hajjaj said to al-Hasan: "O Hasan, I do not ask you to ask Allah to relieve me. However, I ask you to ask Him to seize my soul quickly, and not to lengthen torturing me.(Ibn Khllaka`n, Wafaya`t al-A'ya`n, vol. 6, p. 347).
This evil criminal suffered the agony of death until he perished. Hence his wicked soul went to the Fire. When he died, the door of tyranny was broken, and the spirit of injustice decreased. When al-Hasan al-Basri heard of his death, he said:
"O Allah, you have made him die, then deaden the norms of his sunna. He (al-Hajjaj) came to us weak-sighted and short-fingered! He never struggled in the way of Allah. An example of his unbelief is that he said: 'Pledge allegiance to me; otherwise I will cut off your necks!'" 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz said: "If all communities brought their wicked persons and we brought al-Hajjaj, we would overcome them.(Ibn al-Athr, al-Ka`mil, vol. 4, p. 133).
Al-Sha'bi said: "If all communities brought their evil and sinful persons and we brought al-Hajjaj, we would surpass them.( Al-Fa`khu`ri, Tuhfat al-Ana`m, p. 93).
The Muslims were very glad to hear the news of the death of this wicked criminal. They cursed him until Allah would inherit the earth and what was on it.
The Governors wrong their Subjects
'Abd al-Malik appointed the most wicked of Allah's creatures over the Islamic world, and they spread tyranny and oppression. He appointed Hisha`m b. Isma'il al-Makhzu`mi as governor over Medina (Yathrib), and he behaved badly, governed the people with injustice, and wronged the family of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family.(Al-Ya'qu`bi, Ta`rikh, vol. 2, p. 340).
Moreover he mistreated Sa'id b. al-Musayyab, a jurist, and ordered him to be whipped sixty times.(Al-Ya'qu`bi, Ta`rikh, vol. 2, p. 327).
The subjects complained to 'Abd al-Malik, but he did not respond to them; rather he scolded them. Al-Nimri also complained to him of wrongdoing, persecution, and plundering properties. Addressing him in a poem, he said:
As for the poor, their milk she-camels have been
taken; everything has been taken even the hair (of camels).
Hence their families have become poorer!
The rich have also become poor, and nothing of their
Possessions has remained because of the disorders.
If you raise (this sate) from them now, you will refresh
them; otherwise they will perish in the next year.( Ibn Sala`m, Tabaqa`t, p. 441).
These lines of poetry mean that the authorities had confiscated the norishments of the poor and deprived them of their properties. They took all things from them even the hair of the camels. They also transgressed against the rich and stopped the development of their properties. The poet asked sympathy from 'Abd al-Malik to refresh his people and to raise wrongdoing from them. He thought that if he had not helped them they would have perished.
Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin and 'Abd al-Malik
As for the affairs of Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, with 'Abd al-Malik b. Marwa`n, they are as follows:
The Ima`m with him during Circling the Kaaba
'Abd al-Malik circled the Kaaba, so did the Ima`m. The pilgrims surrounded the Ima`m and magnified him. Hence 'Abd al-Malik asked the people about him, and they said to him: "This is 'Ali b. al-Husayn." He summoned him and said to him: "O 'Ali b. al-Husayn, I am not the murderer of your father! What has prevented you from coming to me?"
The Ima`m did not take care of him and answered him: "The murderer of my father has spoiled his life in this world through his deed, and my father has spoiled the life of his murderer in the next world. If you want to be such a person, then be so."
The vainglory of 'Abd al-Malik became lower, and he said: No, but come to us, that you may attain something of our world."
The Ima`m, peace be on him, refused to respond to him.(Ithba`t al-Huda`t, vol. 5, p. 229).
'Abd al-Malik seeks the Prophet's Sword
'Abd al-Malik heard that the sword of Allah's Messenger, may Allah bless him and his family, was with Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him. Hence he sent for him and asked him to give to him (the sword) as gift or need. However, the Ima`m refused to respond to him. As a result 'Abd al-Malik wrote to him and threatened him with cutting off his livelihood from the Public Treasury, so the Ima`m, peace be on him, answered him:
"Now then, Allah has guaranteed the relief of the Allah-fearing from where they are forced, and provision from where they deem not. He, Great be His Name, said: 'Surely Allah loves not anyone who is unfaithful, ungrateful.' Then think: who is worthier of this verse-I or you? Greetings.('Aya`n al-Sh'a, 4/Q2/980).
His Criticizing the Ima`m
'Abd al-Malik appointed a spy in Medina to inform him of all things therein. The Ima`m, peace be on him, had released a slave girl and married her. 'Abd al-Malik made use of this event, criticized the Ima`m for it, and wrote to him:
"Now then, I have been informed of your marrying a slave girl. I know that there are qualified Qurashi (women) who will bear you noble children. You have not thought of yourself nor have you thought of your children. Greetings."
This message contains the essence and customs of the pre-Islamic people, who refrained from marrying non-Arab women. Hence the Ima`m replied to him with the following letter which has included Islamic logic: "Now then, I have received your letter in which you have scolded me for marrying my slave girl, claimed that there are Qurayshi women through whom I can be glorious, and have noble children, that there is no glory and generosity higher than Allah's Messenger, may Allah bless him and his family. (As for the slave girl), she had been the possession of my right hand.
I have released her according to the command of Allah, the Great and Almighty. I have besought His reward through her. Then I have returned her according to His norms of sunna. He who is honest in the religion does not oppose any of Allah's commands. Through Islam Allah has abolished mean things, completed shortcomings, and taken away ignobility. Therefore, the Muslim blames not; rather those who (follow) the pre-Islamic thoughts blame!(al-'Aqdd al-Fard, vol. 7, p. 121).
Islam has adopted abolishing all kinds of racism and all the barriers which divide the members of Islamic society, create selfishness and hatred among them. The organization of the Muslim family has been based on equity, not on lineage. However, 'Abd al-Malik did not understand this brilliant reality, hence he criticizing the Ima`m, peace be on him, for marring a miserable slave girl after he had released her. There is no blame or injury against the Ima`m; rather blame and injury are against the corrupt customs of those who lived before Islam. The historians said: "When 'Abd al-Malik read the message of the Ima`m, peace be on him, he admired it and said: '' 'Ali b. al-Husayn increases in honor, while the people abase themselves.(Al-'Aqdd al-Fard, vol. 7, p. 121).
The Ima`m sends a Message to 'Abd al-Malik
Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, sent a letter to 'Abd al-Malik and summoned him therein to fear Allah and obey Him. The letter is as follows:
"Now then, nothing exalts you except Allah, and you are in need of Him. If you are exalted through him, then pardon (men) for Him, for you are powerful through Him, and to Him you will return. Greetings.( Abi Hayya`n al-Tawhdi, al-Basa`'ir wa al-Dhakha`'ir, p. 217. Bahjat al-Maja`lis wa Uns al-Maja`lis, vol. 2, pp. 321-322).
This, though brief, is one the Arab most eloquent messages, and contains affairs of great importance. They are as follows:
1. Reverential fear of Allah is the reason for exaltation and glory; kingdom and authority are not two reasons for them.
2. Though 'Abd al-Malik had a great kingdom, he was in need of Allah, who was capable of depriving of his kingdom.
3. The Ima`m summoned 'Abd al-Malik to pardon those evildoers, that he might seek nearness to Allah, to Whom he would return.
His Arresting the Ima`m
The Ima`m's knowledge, asceticism, piety, and reverential fear spread all over the Islamic world. In their assemblies, the people spoke about his excellencies and laudable deeds. 'Abd al-Malik was informed of this, and he became very angry. Hence he ordered his men to arrest the Ima`m and send him to Damascus. While the Ima`m was being preparing for going there, a miracle occurred.
Al-Zuhri narrated the miracle saying: "I witnessed 'Ali b. al-Husayn on the day when 'Abd al-Malik b. Marwa`n ordered him to be sent from Medina to Syria. He made him heavy in iron, and entrusted him to many guards. I asked permission from them to greet and see him off. They permitted me, and I went to him. He was in a dome. His hands and legs were shackled.
Hence I wept and said to him: 'I wish I were in your place, and you were safe!' He said: 'O Zuhri, do you think that the shackles around my hands, legs, and neck grieve me? If I willed, they would not be!' Then he brought his hands and legs out of the shackles. Then he said: 'I will not pass by two way stations of Medina with them!'" Al-Zuhri added: "We passed four nights, and the guards came and looked for 'Ali b. al-Husayn in Medina, but they did not find him. I asked the guards about him, and one of them answered me:
'We saw none following him, nor did we see him dismounting. We were around him. We did not sleep, for we were observing him. When we entered upon morning, we found nothing in his place except the shackles.'" Then al-Zuhri added: "After this I went to 'Abd al-Malik, and he asked me about 'Ali b. al-Husayn, and I told him.
Then he said to me: ''Ali b. al-Husayn came to me on the day when the helpers lost him, and asked me: 'What am I? What you are?' Then I said to him: Stay with me. He said: 'No, I dislike this.' Then he went out. By Allah, my garment was full of fear of him.'" Al-Zuhri said: [So I said:] "O Commander of the faithful, 'Ali b. al-Husayn is not as you imagine. He is busy with himself. 'Abd al-Malik said: ' How an excellent work!(Kifa`yat al-Ta`lib, pp. 448-449. Ja`mi' Kara`ma`t al-Awliya`', vol. 2, p. 156. Sharh Sha`fiyat Abi Fira`s, vol. 2, p. 104. Ta`rikh Dimashq, vol. 36, p. 148. Mata`lib al-Sa'u`l fi Mana`qib Al al-Rasu`l, vol. 2, pp. 43-44. Bahr al-Ansa`b, p. 42. Al-Majjlisi, Biha`r al-Anwa`r, vol. 46, p. 123. A'ya`n al-Sh'a Q/4/235. Hulyat al-Awliya`', and others).
Allah, the Exalted, make miracles and excellencies run through the hands of His friends, that He may exalt them, magnify their importance, and strengthen their spiritual forces.
With this we will end our speech about the events which occurred between the Ima`m, peace be on him, and 'Abd al-Malik b. Marwa`n.
The Death of 'Abd al-Malik
'Abd al-Malik became ill. His doctors treated him, but all their efforts were in vain. Hence death approached him quickly. Then he died. The historians said:
"'Abd al-Malik was anxious and disturbed. His evil works attacked him, hence he hit himself on the head, and said: 'I wish I earned my livelihood day by day, busied myself with worshipping and obeying my Lord, the Great and Almighty.(Al-Bida`ya wa al-Niha`ya, vol. 9, p. 68).
'Abd al-Malik appointed his son al-Walid as successor after him. He ordered him to take care of al-Hajja`j, a terrorist criminal, saying: "Consider al-Hajja`j and honor him. It is he who has paved the way to the pulpits, and he is your sword, Walid, and your hand against your enemy. Listen not to anyone's words against him. You need him more than he needs you. When I die, summon the people to pledge allegiance to you. Employ your sword against those who refuse it.(Al-Siyu`ti, Ta`rikh al-Khulafa`', p. 220).
These commandments represent 'Abd al-Malik's inclinations toward evil even in the last hours of his lifetime. He advised his son to take care of al-Hajja`j, the sinful shedder of blood, who drowned the Islamic countries in afflictions and misfortunes, spread bereavement, sorrow, and mourning among the Muslims. He also ordered him to kill those who were dissatisfied with the Umayyad government. Nothing remained after these commandments except moments, and then he died.(Haya`t al-Ima`m al-Ba`qir, vol. 2, p. 40).
His death was on Wednesday, the first half of Shawwa`l, in the year 86 A. H.
(Al-Bida`ya wa al-Niha`ya, vol. 9, p. 68).
Al-Hasan al-Basri was asked about 'Abd al-Malik, and he said: "What will I say concerning a man one of whose evil acts was al-Hajja`j?(Al-Mas'u`di, Muru`jj al-Dhahab, vol. 3, p. 96).

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