Аннотация: The present study attempts to examine and analyse the period of reign of each caliph of Umaiyad dynasty and give critical evaluation of their policy and actions towards non-Muslim subjects of caliphate. Particularly, the emphasis is given to the position of Christians, which were one of the major groups in caliphate.
The Umayyad caliphs and their non-Muslim subjects: Critical evaluation of religious policy of caliphs
The present study attempts to examine and analyse the period of reign of each caliph of Umaiyad dynasty and give critical evaluation of their policy and actions towards non-Muslim subjects of caliphate. Particularly, the emphasis is given to the position of Christians, which were one of the major groups in caliphate.
This study is mainly based on the observations of such Muslim jurists and historians as Abu Yusuf, Turtushi, Maqrizi, Baladhuri, al-Mekin, Ibn Faqih and others. Besides, the fundamental work of Russian orientalist, N. Mednikov titled "Palestina ot zavoevaniia eia Arabami do krestovykh pokhodov po Arabskim istochnikam" (Palestine from the Arab conquests to the Crusades, based on Arabic sources) was examined.
The purpose of the article is to survey available information on the conditions under which non-Muslims lived under the rule of Umaiyad caliphate. The importance of the present study is realised in the context of rising concern towards the status of non-Muslims in present Islamic countries.
Overview of Umaiyad caliphate
The Umaiyad (Banu Umaiya) dynasty is the first dynasty of caliphs to reign in Islam; thus, their reign started with civil war and strikingly ended with civil war. The Umaiyad caliphate owes its establishment to its first ruler - Mu'awiya b. Abi Sufyan. The latter was the son of Abu Sufyan b. Harb, the arch-enemy of Prophet Muhammad during the period of resistance between Meccan Qurayshites and Medinan Muslims. After the conquest of Mecca by Muslims, Abu Sufyan was appointed as the governor of Hejaz by Muhammed, who valued the former for his leadership talents and organizational skills.
Prior to succession to the throne of caliph, Mu'awiya spent 20 years at the post of governor of Syria, to which he was appointed by second caliph Umar b. Khattab.
There were, overall, fourteen caliphs, who ruled Umaiyad state, starting from 41 A.H. /661 A.D. to 132 A.H. /750 A.D. They are: Mu'awiya ibn Abu Sufyan, who was succeeded by his son Yazid, which was next succeeded by his son Mu'awiya II, who died after few months of his father's death. After the death of the latter, the throne of caliph passed to the second branch of Umaiyads - Marwanids, to which third caliph Uthman belonged. The caliphs of Marwanid branch ruled in the following order: Marwan b. al-Hakam b. Abi `l-`As - Abd al-Malik b. Marwan - al-Walid b. `Abd al-Malik - Sulaiman b. `Abd al-Malik - `Omar (II) b. Abd al-`Aziz b. Marwan - Yazid (II) b. `Abd al-Malik - Hisham b. `Abd al-Malik - Walid (II) b. Yazid (II) b. `Abd al-Malik - Yazid (III) b. al-Walid b. `Abd al-Malik - Ibrahim b. al-Walid b. `Abd al-Malik - Marwan II b. Muhammad b. Marwan.
The territory of Umaiyad caliphate included: Arabian Peninsula, Egypt, Palestine, Northern Africa, Southern Italy (Sicily), Spain, Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Central Asia. During the rule of Umaiyad dynasty, they were engaged in war with Greece, Byzantium, Northern Africa, Central Asia, India, Spain, and Armenia.
The state administration was based partially on pre-Islamic Arab patriarchal customs and partially on Syrian traditions of administration. The full title of caliphs was khalifa-tAllah, literally meaning "deputy of God"; however, later it was modified to mean "successor of the Prophet approved by God". The caliph was the head of the state; however he was not supreme leader, but first among equals. He could not rule without the consultation with senior members of Umaiyad dynasty and it was one of the main distinctions from Abbasid caliphate, which based on Iranian despotic traditions.
One of the significant posts in Umaiyad hierarchy of state administration was the posts of umara (governor) and amil(tax collector). The function of governor did not only include the administration of the province but implementation of judicial power and some military functions. The governor had the power to appoint the tax collector; however there were cases when the latter was appointed by caliph himself. One of the other significant positions was the position of qadi(judge), whose functions, could be implemented by governor as well. The judges could also undertake military functions and in that case, would have the title of qadi al-jund, which means judge of military administrative districts. The police affairs of the state was regulated by sahib al-shurta(chief of police), who combined two functions: on the one hand, he was in charge of "an executive-military authority, charged with pursuing and punishing criminals" and on the other hand he assumed judiciary competence in order to examine the facts and persecute the offenders.
The reign of Umaiyad dynasty ended in the result of resistance and rebellion of members of Abbasid and Alid families, whose secret activity was overlooked by Umaiyad caliphs.
Overview of the status of religious minorities under Umaiyad caliphs
The status of non-Muslims in Umaiyad caliphate was generally regulated by the treaty of `Omar, agreement or agreements made between `Omar b. Khattab and conquered population in Syria and Palestine. The treaty of `Omar is said to contain the clauses of restrictive and discriminatory character. The number of the clauses ranges from 18 to 45, depending on the sources, which reported them. This agreement is said to have guaranteed the safety for conquered non-Muslim population in exchange for payment of jizya(poll-tax), in the case if they wish to profess their religions and also would grant the status of protected people (ahl al-dhimma) to certain category of non-Muslims. Nevertheless, such proposition, based on criteria of religion, seems to be refuted by Hoyland, who argued that in the first century of Islam and especially during the rule of Umaiyad dynasty, the poll-tax system was not based on distinction between Muslims and non-Muslims, but was "something that the conquered paid for the upkeep (rizq) of the conquerors in return for protection (dhimma).
Besides, there had been several attempts to reanimate the provisions of this treaty, by several caliphs, especially by `Omar (II) b. Abd al-Aziz. Nevertheless, it should be noted that the authenticity of some clauses of treaty are doubted as contradicting to the character and nature of `Omar b. Khattab and political situation at that time.
The scope of ahl al-dhimma only extends to the people, which were mentioned in Qur'an as ahl al-Kitab (people of the Book). Ahl al-Kitab would generally include: (i) Jews (H?d? orYahudi); (ii) Christians (An-Na??rА); (iii) Sabeans (A?-??bi'Ina); and (iv) those, who believe in One God and Last Day (Al-Ladh?na '?man? Bill?hi Wa Al-Yawmi Al-'?khiri). Later, in the course of conquest, the scope of ahl al-dhimma was extended to Zoroastrians (Majusi), which, in the opinion of Muslim jurists, did believe in One God in the beginning, but their religion had been corrupted.
Moreover, it has been asserted that there had been, overall, 33 churches in use throughout the Umaiyad caliphate and besides 22 of them were "built in early Islamic period". Also, it is assumed that 12 of them "underwent major rebuilding", whereas 5 other churches had been "repaired on a humbler scale" and 13 of them were "remodelled".
Undoubtedly, the reign of Mu'awiya was one of the critical periods for Islamic empire. Verily, Mu'awiya faced a number of problems during his reign, such as rebellion of various religious groups, challenge of traditional Islamic elite in the face of Hashemite clan and others. However, one of the complicated issues, he had to face, was the treatment of religious minorities, which resided throughout new Islamic empire, such as Jews (h?d?), Christians (an-na??rА) and Zoroastrians (majusi). In the terms of administration of conquered non-Muslim population, Muawiya had widely applied the rules of tribal administration which existed in pre-Islamic Arabia. Thus, it is said that Muslim Arabs governed the communities of non-Muslims through their native authorities, priests, rabbis, nobles, etc.
It is remarkable that in the course of administration of the empire, Mu'awiya realised the necessity of recruitment of Jews and Christians to the government posts, since he knew that without having established solid foundation, the state would not have survived. That solid foundation was fuelled by the experience and skills of the inhabitants of the conquered territories, who mainly belonged to Judaic and Christian religions.
Mu'awiya, unlike his predecessors, was the first to recruit Christians to government positions as scriveners. However, it is asserted that it was inevitable phenomena since Christians and Jews engaged in previous administration were hard to replace. He appointed Sardjun ibn Mansur as the head of chancery of Syria, who was Christian, which later was inherited by Sardjun's son. Nevertheless, Sardjun was murdered by Khalid, grandson of Khalid b. al-Walid b. al-Mughira, avenging the death of his father. Mu'awiya arrested Khalid and compelled him to pay blood-money to the relatives of Sardjun, but did not allow execution of Khalid for the murder of latter. In the opinion of Mednikov, these facts point to the decent position of Christians during Mu'awiya, since he doubts that Christians or Jews could claim for blood-money at later periods.
Besides, Mu'awiya extensively practiced the employment of Christians to the financial sector; thus it is reported that he appointed Ibn Usala, who was Christian, as the collector of kharaj(land tax) in Hims. Strikingly, such practice had never occurred during the reign of four`rightly-guided' (rashidun) caliphs. Prior to this, Christians or Jews were never appointed as the collectors of kharaj, however, their subordinates who track the record of population and whose records were written in Greek, were mainly Christians. It is also attested that Jacobite Christians paid special tax to Mu'awiya and that election of Christian patriarch was often prevented by authorities.
Such state of affairs witness surprisingly about the tolerant attitude of Mu'awiya to this category of non-Muslims, yet, there were some factors which could influence Mu'awiya, in the course of his reign, towards his attitude of non-Muslims.
First of all, it was the environment, in which Mu'awiya ruled prior becoming caliph; thus, during the rule of Omar and Uthman, he was the governor of Syria, which was predominantly Christian. In such conditions, it is clear why Mu'awiya actively involved previous Christian officials to the administration of the province; even though such practice seems to be disapproved by second caliph Umar. It would seem impossible for Mu'awiya to govern without the aid of experienced personnel, since Mu'awiya himself originated from the environment, where the state administration, in literal meaning, did not exist. The tribal form of governance existed in pre-Islamic Arabia, except the fact that in several places like Yemen, the early forms of state administration were represented.
Second, there was the number of Christian Arab tribes, which were loyal to new emerged Islamic kingdom, since they were granted the freedom of religion and -self-governance by the several treaties made between Muhammad and Christian Arab tribes in the north of Arabian Peninsula, later known as treaty of Nadjran.
Third, the tolerant attitude can be also explained by the fact of collaboration of some Christian provinces with Muslim army in the conquest of Palestine and Syria, whom Mu'awiya, later, exempted from payment of kharaj.
Ultimately, Mu'awiya preferred to appoint non-Muslims to the important posts, since Muslims would often abuse at their posts, without the fear of persecution; whereas non-Muslims would act honestly, fearing that in case of abuse or crime, the severe punishment or persecution would follow.
Overall, the period of Mu'awiya's reign is characterised by relative tolerance and decent position of non-Muslims. It is explained by the fact that at that time it was necessary for effective administration of government. Any persecution would jeopardise the position of Umaiyad family in conquered territories.
Yazid ibn Mu'awiya (60/682-64/686), Mu'awiya II (64/683-64/684), Marwan I (64/684-65/685)
During the rule of Yazid b. Mu'awiya, we would see the state of relative tolerance, which was established by his father; except the fact that Yazid imposed kharaj on Samaritan and al-Urdunn (Jordan) notably districts of Palestine, who were exempted by his father for collaboration with Muslims.
Generally, it would be true to assume that the policy implemented by Mu'awiya, was continued by his son, since the latter was actively involved in the administration of caliphate during the lifetime of his father. Besides, after the death of Mu'awiya, Yazid, during his short rule, was mainly involved in suppressing the uprising of opposition, the consequences of which turned out to be really dramatic for him.
Shortly, after four years of reign, Yazid passed away and the throne was succeeded by his son Mu'awiya, who did not live long. With death of Mu'awiya, the Sufyanid branch of Umaiyad dynasty had come to the end.
Marwan, who belonged to the parallel line of Umaiyad clan, became next caliph, but did not rule for long; he passed away after one year of rule in 65 A.H.
We do not have any reliable information on the condition of non-Muslims at that period, however we may assume, like indicated above, that this period lasted in relative tolerance for non-Muslims since Umaiyads themselves were involved in long and hard civil war, which was won by Umaiyads in the end.
Abd al-Malik (65/687-86/705)
Abd al-Malik, who succeeded Mervan, spent significant period of his rule in struggle with opposition in Hedjaz under the leadership of anti-caliph `Abd Allah b. al-Zubair and as a consequence of that opposition unsuccessfully attempted to change the location of pilgrimage from Mecca to Jerusalem.
There are ambiguous reports about the condition of non-Muslims during the rule of Abd al-Malik; some report that in some parts of caliphate, Christians were instantly persecuted, notably in Egypt, where brother of Abd al-Malik, Abd al-Aziz was governor. Yet, the other sources report that it was Abd al-Aziz, who allowed the new churches to be assembled in Egypt. Mednikov explains such ambiguity referring to the fact these reports were delivered in different periods; since in the beginning of his governorship, Abd al-Aziz was accompanied by Bishop Athanasius, who had the great influence on former, because of his intelligence, wealth and scholar knowledge. During Abd al-Aziz's governorship, Athanasius managed to assemble the basilicas in Eddesse and in two locations in Fustat in Egypt. Such practice clearly contradicts with the provision of treaty of `Omar, which prohibited the construction of new churches after Hegira.
One of the significant events, which come to our attention, is the dispute between Abd al-Malik and Christian population in Damascus over the St.John Church. Abd al-Malik attempted to turn the named church to mosque and requested from Christian population to give away the place; however Christians declined his request, basing on the guarantee granted by Khalid b. al-Walid on the immunity of the church. Then Abd al-Malik offered them large amount of money and the right to build the church in any district of Damascus, but they declined and Abd al-Malik did not insist on his request further. This episode indicates that the Christians during Abd al-Malik were not deprived of the right to express their opinion and demand their right.
Nevertheless, the condition of non-Muslims during Abd al-Malik depended on mainly political factors; since it is well-known of the dispute between Abd al-Malik and his brother Abd al-Aziz over the succession of the throne, in case of death of caliph. This dispute had indirectly affected on the position of Christian population in Egypt, since Abd al-Aziz, in order to strengthen his position in Egypt, ordered to impose taxes on monks; that was contrary to the agreements between Muslims and Christians, which stipulated that no taxes might be imposed on monks. Such strategy of Abd al-Aziz's policy led to some uprisings among Christians and became one of the reasons of their persecution by Abd al-Aziz. Besides, it is asserted that Abd al-Malik significantly changed system of taxation and as a result of it he imposed the personal tax on dhimmis in Egypt, Syria and Mesopotamia.
Strikingly, Mednikov believes that the reasons for persecution of Christians were not only due to the intolerance of their Muslim fellows, but obvious prosperity of Christians in Egypt. Several facts points to the credibility of such argument: (i) excessive wealth of Christian clerics such as Athanasius, since it is known that latter had, 4000 slaves and 400 shops in Edessa in possession, besides he had several palaces and houses; (ii) Athanasius managed to assemble several temples, churches, monasteries without any hindrances on the part of Muslim authorities; (iii) finally, Athanasius had unlimited influence over the government in Egypt and this factor was decisive in the argument against Christians because Muslims were not happy over the fact that Christian clerics would have such great influence in Muslim state.
Such persecutions, however, bore the temporary character, since it was not in the interests of Muslims authorities to suppress non-Muslim population, because non-Muslim population was one of the major sources of revenue in caliphate. In the meantime, it would not be appropriate to render this argument as correct since there were circles in Muslim elites that were interested in persecution of non-Muslims as they had significant interest in the wealth that non-Muslim had in their possession. The intolerance of Muslims was primarily convened by the fact that they viewed non-Muslims as secondary members of their community and it was not acceptable for them, that those, who in their opinion were not equal to them in status, to have such influence.
Overall, speaking of the attitude of Abd al-Malik, we may suggest that he was quite tolerant towards Christians and basing on this assumption, it would be correct to say the same thing about other members of non-Muslim community of Umaiyad caliphate. Yet, this tendency had been challenged by some circles several times, especially his brother Abd al-Aziz, who had serious disputes with Abd al-Malik and thus directed his rage against non-Muslim population, predominantly Christians. Abd al-Aziz was aware of the fact that Abd al-Malik patronised Christians, especially clerics, who had unlimited influence over the Christian community, therefore his persecutions against Christians were purposeful.
In contrast to Abd al-Malik, the reign of al-Walid was marked by some negative episodes for Christians. Thus, the church of St. John, over which Christians of Damascus had dispute with Abd al-Malik, had been demolished by al-Walid. Afterwards, al-Walid ordered to assemble new mosque in the place of this infamous church.
The reason for such severe decision was the incident which took place, when Walid went to pray to the mosque, which was next to church. While praying, he was disturbed by the loud prayer of Christian priests in church and as consequence decided to destroy the church and build the mosque instead. His decision was opposed by Christians of Damascus, which presented the guarantee of Khalid b. al-Walid, but it was not taken into consideration by caliph. However, it is reported that al-Walid offered money in amount of 40,000 dinars to Christians and the place in any other location of Damascus. Some sources report that Christian agreed with the decision of Walid and accepted his offer, however Mednikov doubts that, since he suggests that these reports were made by late authors. Besides, he suggests that "if Christians went into agreement with Walid and received the compensation, they would not have the right to complain to Umar II about the forced capture of St. John church". Other authors report that church was demolished without the consent of Christians. It would be correct to render the last suggestion as true, since the act of demolition was followed by the message of emperor of Byzantium.
The emperor of Byzantium, infuriated by such act of Walid, sent him the message. Therein, he reminded al-Walid that the St. John church was left untouched by his predecessors, and should their decision be accurate, al-Walid was wrong; should Walid make the right decision, his predecessors were wrong. Thus, he challenged the validity of his decision. When al-Walid received this message, he asked advice from the famous jurist as-Zuhri, who recommended him to refer to the decision of Solomon and David about the sowed field and sheep. It seems that the letter of emperor did not have any impact on al-Walid, since his decision remained unchanged.
This act of al-Walid, at first glance seems to be `one-time whim' of caliph; however such suggestion is refuted by the fact that later Walid ordered to destroy ten churches in Damascus. As one of the reasons for such behaviour, Mednikov names the Walid's desire for the construction of new building and his wish to eclipse magnificence of Christian churches.
Speaking of such behaviour of Walid, it would not be correct to relate it to intolerance of al-Walid towards Christians, since his decision was caused by different factors. To support this argument, it is worthy to note that no such measure had been taken against the sacred places of Jews and other denominations. Besides, such case took place only in Damascus and there is no evidence that it was widespread practice in other cities of caliphate. These arguments give us the ground to suggest that the policy of al-Walid, in respect of Christian churches, limited only to those churches which were located in Damascus, since it was capital city of caliphate.
There is also evidence, that during the reign of al-Walid, several persecutions of Christians took place in Egypt. It is not, however, known what the nature of persecutions was; nevertheless there is a strong assumption that the cause of persecutions was the abuses of governors in financial sector. To increase the treasury of the province, they extorted money from non-Muslim population, especially from clerics and monks. As the punitive measure for refusal of payment, the shrines of Christian saints were demolished. Mednikov suggests that, such humiliation concerned not only Christian population or non-Muslim population, but the remaining Muslim populations as well, because the governors were too greedy and humiliated people without any distinction.
Strikingly, there is an evidence that the brother of Walid Sulaiman, who was the governor of Palestine, appointed Christian al-Batrik ibn al-Bek as the supervisor over the expenses on the construction site in al-Ramla, the town in Palestine. This fact speaks about the continuation of approach taken by Mu'awiya towards non-Muslims i.e. they were recruited to the government positions despite several persecutions which took place. Such persecutions, however, did not bear systematically abusive character, that is to say they were not part of caliph's policy.
There is not much evidence, that any persecutions took place during the reign of Sulaiman. It is, perhaps, because his reign did not last very long. Nevertheless, there is evidence that during his reign, Usama b. Zayd had been appointed as the tax collector (amil) in Egypt. It is reported that this person did everything to please caliph; thus he used to stamp monks hands after they paid tax, instead of receipt. Besides, he used to cut hands and heads of those who tried to pass unnoticed and applied severest measures against those who refused to pay. Yet, such oppressive measures were not the part of caliph's policy, who continued the policy of his predecessors. Soon, his policy was strongly disapproved by next caliph Umar II and he was arrested. Mednikov believes that Usama really did not care whom to oppress Muslims or non-Muslims, since his aim was to extort as much money as he could.
Overall, this individual case of abuse may not, in one's opinion, give the ground to suggest that non-Muslims were persecuted during Sulaiman's reign. However, it would be correct to assume that anger and fury of Muslim authorities, in case of financial hardships or disobedience, were primarily directed against non-Muslims rather than Muslims.
`Omar b. Abd al-Aziz (99/717-101/720)
Although the reign of `Omar II was short, it was marked by some important events. These events, however, directly affected the position of non-Muslims. On the one hand, it was the positive resolution of St. John church case, which started in times of Abd al-Malik; on the other hand, it was new restrictions imposed on non-Muslims.
As for the case of St. John church in Damascus, Christians appealed to `Omar II over the decision of al-Walid to confiscate the space of church to build the mosque. As the ground for such appeal, they repeatedly presented the guarantee, granted by Khalid b. al-Walid, which they unsuccessfully did during al-Walid's rule. Umar II took this document into consideration and decided in favour of Christians. Such decision rose the anger of Muslims and Christians asked for the churches of al-Guta, which were captured in the battle, to be given to them instead of St. John
There are, however, other sources, which report that Muslim, themselves, offered the churches in al-Guta as the replacement or that `Omar II offered the large amount of money as the compensation for the St. John church. The last report somehow echoes with the similar report about al-Walid, who also offered large amount of money as the compensation. There is no single opinion on this matter; however it would be correct to suggest that `Omar II admitted that decision of al-Walid was wrong and the claim of Christians was thorough and proved. There had been also the dispute over some churches in Damascus and al-Guta, because `Omar II offered all these churches in exchange for St. John church.
There are two views regarding the attitude of `Omar II towards non-Muslims. One of them affirms that overall, `Omar II treated them in fair way; however there is evidence that it was `Omar II, who `reanimated' restrictive rules of `Omar I for non-Muslims. Particularly, he ordered all new churches to be demolished, except those, which were protected by the agreements. There is also suggestion that he ruled that old churches to be destroyed, but this information may not be authentic since he was the one to return all the churches that had been taken from Christians unjustly. Mednikov, however, refutes the suggestion that Umar II ordered all new churches to be destroyed, referring to the fact that Umar II bought the land close to monastery of St. Simon, which supposedly was built after conquest of Muslims. Deriving from these arguments, we may assume that although Umar II ordered some churches to be demolished, it was not for religious but for some other reasons. As one of such reasons, we may name the existence of agreements between Muslims authorities and non-Muslim subjects on granting the immunity to the churches captured.
Thus, Umar II is said to impose the provisions of treaty of Umar, which had been signed between the latter and Christian population of Palestine and Syria. Among such rules, we see the prohibitions to dress in atlas dress, turbans, to use leather saddles. However, there are doubts that Umar II could have imposed such rules, since this information was reported by Abu Yusuf, chief judge of Abbasid caliph, who was not contemporary of Umar II and lived long after Umar II.
There is, however, report that Umar II prescribed not to wear turbans and to dress in woollen cloaks and not to imitate Muslim dress. Besides, he is reported to have ordered to clip the front of the heads of members of Taglib tribe, to ride on pack saddles, sitting on them by side. Also there is the report that Umar II ordered the crosses in the streets to be broken; all non-Muslim to be expelled from their posts, they occupied prior to him and that no non-Muslim should be employed anymore. However, Mednikov suggests that the decree of Umar II, regarding expel of non-Muslims from their posts, concerned only those non-Muslims who were employed by governors to official posts in their administrations.
Also, Mednikov tends to suggest that the restrictive measures of Umar II against non-Muslims were produced by jurists of Medina, who tend to think that the dhimmi were granted excessive freedom of actions during the reign of previous Umaiyad caliphs. The prosperity of non-Muslims in Umaiyad caliphate was mainly caused by surprising degree of tolerance of Umaiyad caliphs and such tolerance led non-Muslims to the opinion that they were equal members of that community.
One of the questions, which arise here: whether the Umaiyad system of administration was based on religious postulates or on secular grounds, leaving religion to scholars. Umaiyad caliphs never distinguished themselves as pious followers of Islam and, as Mednikov notes; they considered Islam as political tool rather than the path to salvation, with the exception of `Omar b. Abd al-Aziz.
Overall, speaking of the attitude of Umar II towards non-Muslims, we may say that the policy of Umar determined, first of all, by the influence of Islamic traditional circles; second, by specific circumstances, which existed at that time and finally, indirectly, by the degree of his piety.
Yazid II (101/720-105/724)
The situation with non-Muslims radically changed during the reign of caliph Yazid II. It is reported that this caliph ordered to destroy all churches, crosses, icons and statutes in Egypt. Such measures were not the consequence of religious intolerance, but, like the reign of Sulayman, it was direct effect abusive extortions of governors, increase of taxes and resistance of monks.
We cannot, however, attribute such persecutions fully to the reasons indicated above, since they were one of other causes for the rise of religious intolerance among Muslims. Therefore, it would be true to trace the reasons of persecutions to religious intolerance, which was one of the vital factors of these events. This argument is also supported by the fact that Yazid himself disliked Christians since he ordered to return the church of St.John back to Muslims, despite previous decision of Umar II in favour of Christians. Surprisingly, there is evidence, however, that two churches had been assembled in Antiochia during the reign of Yazid II. These evidence shows that persecutions and restrictive measures could have taken place only in specific places of caliphate such as capital city and provincial centres.
The reign of Hisham was marked by striking tolerance towards non-Muslim subjects. He sent the order to Egypt to treat Christians, just like they were treated before, according to the agreements. The tolerance of Hisham concerned not only Christians, but all non-Muslims in all provinces of caliphate. Some of the governors were the sons of Christian women, such as Ubayda ibn Abd ar-Rahman as-Sulami, governor of Ifriqiyya; Khanzala ibn Safwan, twice governor of Egypt; Khalid ibn Abdullah al-Kasri, governor of Iraq. It is reported that some of these governors managed to build the churches in honour of their Christian mothers, such as Khalid al-Kasri and that the latter was the protector of non-Muslims. Due to his excessive patronage of non-Muslims, Muslims accused him in destroying the mosques, which were unlawfully built in non-Muslim districts; building the temples for Zoroastrians and Jews and churches for Christians; appointing Zoroastrians as principals of Muslims and marrying non-Muslims to Muslim women. Undoubtedly, there were exaggerations; however most of these allegations were true.
Despite the tolerance of Hisham, there was the case of humiliation of Christians in Egypt. Abdullah ibn Habhab, appointed as kharaj collector in Egypt by governor, increased the amount of kharaj, imposed on non-Muslims, implemented census of people and animals; stamped seals with the image of lion on Christians and cut the hands of those, who did not have such seals. This case was brought to Hisham and he displaced Abdullah ibn Habhab.
Besides, there were cases of humiliation of Christians, which brought outbreak of discontent among Christian Copts. One of such incidents took place around 121 A.H. in eastern Hauf, Egypt; however it was suppressed by the forces of Muslim army.
The condition of non-Muslims during Hisham's reign was stable; however disturbed by some unpleasant incidents, which were caused by abuse of Umaiyad officials. There was no, however, systematic persecution of non-Muslims and all persecutions which took place, bore temporary character.
Al-Walid II (125/743-126/744), Yazid III (126/744-126/744), Ibrahim (126/744-127/744)
Overall, the reign of these three caliphs did not last long, starting from 125 A.H. and ending 127, which gives us the ground to suggest that nothing significant had changed in the status of non-Muslims. This period is characterised by total political instability and frequent change of caliphs during such short period of time. Besides, there is no credible evidence, which would describe any dramatic change in status of non-Muslims.
Merwan II (127/744-132/750)
The period of reign of last caliph Merwan II is characterised by constant political instability and final fall of the Umaiyad caliphate. Nevertheless, this period was marked by the persecution of Copt Christians in Egypt. It was caused by Abd al-Malik ibn Musa, who was collector of kharaj in Egypt; he imprisoned Michael, patriarch of Egypt and demanded large amount of money. Patriarch asked to give him some time to gather such amount and Abd al-Malik let him. After a while, patriarch brought that amount and was released. Copts who were infuriated by such act of Abd al-Malik, started to collaborate with Abbasid rebels. Merwan II cruelly avenged Copts, arresting patriarch and sending him to death several times; besides he and his companions entered female monastery in al-Djiza and organized roistering there. However, he was caught and executed by Abbasid armies there.
Speaking of position of non-Muslims during the reign of Marwan, we should take into account that it was the time of political instability and final fall of the dynasty. Due to these factors, it would be correct to assume that in such disorder and instability the rage of Muslims would be directed against their non-Muslim fellows.
As a conclusion, it should be noted that the relative religious tolerance of Umaiyad caliphs and authorities was not consequence of personal attitude, but mostly political necessity, economical and social necessity.
If the beginning of Umaiyad reign, we see that non-Muslims were tolerated and even actively involved in state administration, then by the end of their rule, we would see the opposite. This situation might be explained partially due to the absence of any desire on the part of Muslims to become involved in work of bureaucratic apparatus, since they were actively engaged in military expeditions. Whereas at the later period, we would see that Muslims became more assimilated to urban life, since the majority Muslims were Arabs, who were addicted to nomadic life in the dessert rather than the life in strictly organised state. Interestingly, Goitein suggests that because Muslims found service in government unattractive, non-Muslims would go for it.
Another important factor is economical factor; verily, the income coming from non-Muslim population constituted the significant portion of government's budget. It is well-know fact, Umaiyad authorities many hindrances for non-Muslims to convert to Islam. Such policy was expressed in granting the status of mawali to non-Muslim who wants to become Muslim. First, he should become the client of Arab tribe, and as the time, he could have become Muslim in literal sense, with all consequences. Such policy was purposeful, since authorities realised that in the result of massive conversion, the budget of the state would get low.
Ultimately, non-Muslims were majority in some provinces of caliphate and their humiliation would lead to the massive resistance and disorder. Moreover, for Umaiyad Empire, who waged several wars against neighbouring Byzantine and Greece, was politically and strategically unnecessary to persecute and humiliate Christians, out of fear of collaboration of the latter with their aliens. However, despite that factor, as we did see, there was the large number of cases, where non-Muslims, especially Christians, were harshly being persecuted and discriminated by authorities. It might be explained, by non-tolerance of Muslim themselves, which was fed partially by former non-Muslims and religious conscience.
? PhD (LAW) Scholar, Brunel University, Middlesex, West London; Author would like to thank Professor Garth Fowden and Professor Gerald Hawting for valuable comments and suggestions
See generally Gerald R. Hawting, "The First Dynasty of Islam: The Umayyad Caliphate Ad 661-750", (Routledge, London, 2000)
E.J. Brill's First Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913-1936, ed. by M. Th. Houtsma, A.J. Wensinck, H. A. R. Gibb, W. Heffening and E. Levi-Provencal, (E.J. Brill, Leiden, 1987) Vol. VIII, pp. 998-1004; See Sir William Muir, "The Caliphate; Its rise, decline and fall", (Edinburgh, John Grant, 31 George IV.Bridge, 1924)
Martin Hinds, Patricia Crone, "God's Caliph: Religious Authority in the First Centuries of Islam" (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2003) p.4: Author specifically refers to Goldziher interpretation of caliph title, who construed it as "successor of (the Prophet approved) by God".
Gerald Hawting p. 42
See M. Watt, "AHistory of Islamic Spain", (Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 1965)
Irit Abramski-Bligh, The Judiciary (qadis) as a governmental-administrative tool in Early Islam in ed. Wael B. Hallaq "The formation of Islamic Law" Ashgate Variorum, 1995 p. 183
Ibid. p. 184
Ibid. See also Ibn Khaldun, "Muqadimmah", Beirut, 1900 tr. F. Rosental, I. 457
See generally Khalid Yahya Blankinship, "The End of the Jihad State: Reign of Hisham Ibn 'Abd Al-Malik and the Collapse of the Umayyads" , (State University of New York Press, New York, 1994)
Moshe Gil, "A History of Palestine, 634-1099", (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1997), p.142
For discussion of poll-tax see generally Daniel Clement, "Conversion and the Poll Tax in Early Islam", (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1950)
Robert Hoyland, Review of `Robert Schick, The Christian communities of Palestine from Byzantine to Islamic rule: a historical and archaeological study', Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 61, No.2 (1998), pp. 329-330
Ahmed ibn Naqib al-Misri, Reliance of the Traveller, A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law, in Arabic with Facing English Text, Commentary and appendices edited and translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller, (Amana Publications, Maryland, 1994) p.607
Robert Schick, The Christian communities of Palestine from Byzantine to Islamic rule: a historical and archaeological study. (Studies in Late Antiquity and Early Islam 2.) xviii, pp. 118-119
Ibid. pp. 119-123
Gerald Hawting, The First Dynasty of Islam, pp. 36-37
Al-Ya'qubi, Ahmad ibn Abi Yaqub," Kitab al-Buldan", ed., M.J. de Goeje, (2nd edition, Leiden, Brill, 1892) p. 107
Al-Maqrizi, Taqi al-Din Ahmad ibn Ali, "Kitab al-Suluk li-ma'rifat duwal al-muluk", ed. M.M. Ziyada and others, (Cairo, Lajnat al-tal'lif, 1934) p. 651
Above note 6, p. 107
N.A. Mednikov, "Palestina ot zavoyevaniya yeyo arabami do krestovyh pohodov po arabskim istochnikam", (Pravoslavniy Palestinskiy sbornik, T. 17 Byp. 2 SPb. T. 2-3 1897, T. 1 1903) p. 651
At-Tabari, Abu Jafar Muhammad ibn Jarir, "Ta'rikh al-Rusul wa'l-muluk", ed. M.J. Goeje and others, (Leiden, Brill, 1879-190)1 p. 198-9 al-Yaqubi p. 197
Above note 6, p. 197
Al-Baladhuri, Ahmad ibn Yahya,"Futuh al-Buldan", ed. M.J. de Goeje, (Leiden ,Brill, 1866) p. 90;
Corp. Script Chr. Or.., ser. Iii., iv. p.70; Above note 2. Brill's Encyclopaedia of Islam p. 849
See Yasin Istanbuli, "Diplomacy and diplomatic practice in the early Islamic era", (Karachi : Oxford University Press, 2001)
Above note 12, p. 88
Above note 9, p. 683
Al Mekin (Elmacinus), "Historia Saracenica" (The Saracenical historic, written in Arabike by George Elmacin, trans, in La-tine by Th. Erpenius, englished by Sam. Purchas. (London 1626, ed. with Latin translation by Erpenius, Leiden, 1625) p. 549 Renodo Histor. Patriarch, alexandr p. 178
Eutychius, "Cotextio Gemmarum", (sive Eatychii Patriarchae Alexandrini Annales), p. 273
Above note 9, p. 683
Rubens Duval. "Histoire d.Edess", (Journ. Asiat VIII. Serie, t. XIX 1892) p. 77-78
Al-Turtushi, Muhammad b al-Walid, called Ibn Abi Randaqa, "Siraj al-Muluk", (Cairo, 1289/1872) p. 229
Above note 12, p. 56; Above note 17 p. 265
Above note 17, p. 272
Above note 16, p. 549
Above note 9, p. 686
Dionysius of Tell Mahre, ed. Chabot, p. 10; Above note 2. Brill's Encyclopaedia of Islam p. 849
Ibid, p. 687
Above note 20.pp 77-8
Gerald Hawting p. 37
Above note 9, p. 689
Above note 17, p. 274
"Abu'l Mahasin ibn Tagriberdi, Annales" ed. T.G.J. Juynboll (Lugd. Bat. 1855-61) p. 692
Above note 9, p. 697 (author's translation from Russian)
Above note 12; note 17;
Notices Sommaires des manuscripts arabes du Musee Asiatique par le baron V. Rosen St. Petersbourgh, 1881 No. 262 Mednikov p. 693
Above note 9, p. 754
Ibn al-Faqih, Abu Bakr Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Hamadhani, "Mukhtasar Kitab al-Muldan", ed. M.J. Goeje, (Leiden, Brill, 1885), p. 106 v. SII p. 1272
Above note 9, p. 782-783
Above note 16, p. 550
Above note 7, p. 651-2
Above note 9, p. 702
Above note 30, p. 257
Above note 16 p. 550; Above note 7, p. 652
Above note 9, p. 704
"Travels of Ibn Jubair" ed. W. Wright, (Leyden 1852) p. 939; Wright generally refers to Al Baladhuri p. 63; al-Mada'ini p. 213; Eutychius p. 275; al-Mekin p. 552; Ibn `Asakir, Tevarih Dimeshq, ed. Quatremere, Histoire des sultans mamlouks, t.II, part -re, Paris 1842. p262
Above note 18 p. Above note 46 p. 939
Above note 10, p. 214
Above note 21, p. 173-5
Above note 12, p. 60
Above note 9, p. 710
"Jacut (Yakut) geographisches Worterbuch herausgeg". Von F. Wuestenfeld, (Leipzig, 1866-70) p. 1028
Abu Yusuf, Ya'qub ibn Ibrahim, "Kitab al-Kharaj", 3rd edition, (Cairo (Salafiyya) 1382/1962-1963) p. 317
Ibn Abd-Rabihi, Ahmad ibn Muhammad, "Al-Iqd al-Farid", 8 vols. Ed. Muhammad Sa'id al-Iryan, (Cairo, al-Maktaba al-Tijariyya al-Kubra, 1372/1953) p. 301
Above note 21, p. 395
Above note 53, p. 1317
Ibn Nakkash, "Fetoua relative a la condition des zimmis", trad., de l'arabe par M. Belin (Journ. Asiat. 1851-52 v. 18-19) p. 1351, 1353
Above note 9, p. 716
Ibid., p. 718
Ibid., p. 718
Above note 30 p. 652; Above note 7, p. 551; Above note 9, p. 1763
Above note 9, p. 719
Bar Gebreus, "Chronicon ecclesiast", I, p. 298
Above note 16, p. 215; Above note 7, p. 462
Above note 10, p. 215
Above note 7, p. 652-653
Ibid., p. 652
See generally Carole Hillenbrand, "The waning of Umayyad caliphate", The History of al-Tabari Vol. XXVI, (State University of New York Press, New York, 1989)
Above note 30 p. 350
S.D. Goitein, "A Mediterranean society: The Jewish communities of the Arab world as portrayed in the documents of Cairo Geniza, Volume II: The Community", (University of California Press, Los Angeles, 1971) p. 374-375