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Title: Annals of the Early Caliphate : From the Death of Mahomet to the Omeyyad and Abbaside Dynasties A.H. XI - LXI (A.D. 632 - 680) From Original Sources
Author: Muir, William, Sir
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Annals of the Early Caliphate : From the Death of Mahomet to the Omeyyad and Abbaside Dynasties A.H. XI - LXI (A.D. 632 - 680) From Original Sources" ***

  to illustrate
  By Sir William Muir, K.C.S.I., LL.D., D.C.L.

                             WILLIAM MUIR

                               ANNALS OF
                            EARLY CALIPHATE

                       FROM THE DEATH OF MAHOMET
                                TO THE
                      A.H. XI-LXI (A.D. 632–680)
                        FROM ORIGINAL SOURCES.



               REPRINT 1968 OF THE EDITION LONDON 1883.

                      PRINTED IN THE NETHERLANDS.


This work is a continuation of the ‘LIFE OF MAHOMET.’ Taking up the
thread from his death and burial, it tells the story of the spread
of the Religion which he founded, and seeks to trace the special
causes--national, tribal, and spiritual--which moulded the Faith,
created its expansive power, and guided its onward progress. The object
is, in short, to float the bark of ISLAM over the rapids and devious
currents of its early course until, becoming more or less subject to
ordinary human influences, it emerges on the great stream of time. I
have, therefore, given the first four CALIPHATES in full detail; I
have endeavoured to explain the ascendency of the OMEYYAD house; and
then, briefly showing how the ABBASSIDE dynasty rose upon its ruins, my
purpose being ended, I close the book. Thereafter the history of ISLAM
spreads itself out into the history of the world.

The materials for the work will be understood by the reader as he
goes along. They are purely Arabian. Christian authorities there
are absolutely none to speak of. We depend entirely upon Mahometan
tradition; and that in a form very different from what we have been
accustomed to in the Life of Mahomet. The substance of tradition
becomes, after the PROPHET’S death, more of a general outline;
altogether wanting (excepting some of the special episodes) in that
profuse detail with which the life of Mahomet is overlaid.

Such as it is, however, the story can be worked out broadly with
consistency, and the progress of the Moslem arms and faith, as a whole,
depicted truthfully. The great treasury of tradition on which the
historian must draw is the Annals of TABARI, happily styled by Gibbon
the Livy of the Arabians, who flourished in the third century of the
Hegira. Unfortunately his work has hitherto been accessible to me, in
its original form, only as far as the great battle of Câdesîya, in the
fourteenth year of the Hegira--that is, three years after the Prophet’s
death.[1] The materials, however, so laboriously collected by Tabari,
have been copiously used by later writers, especially by IBN AL ATHÎR
(d. A.H. 630), whose History has been mainly followed in these Annals,
from the point at which Tabari, as at present available, ends. I have
not neglected other sources, such as BELÂDZORI (3rd cent.) and IBN
KHALDÛN, a later writer. In all essential points I believe that the
picture which I have endeavoured to draw of the rise and spread of the
Faith may be accepted with confidence.

I have received much help from the invaluable work of DR. WEIL,[2]
whose literary acumen and candour are equalled only by his marvellous
industry and research. I have also freely made use of M. CAUSSIN
DE PERCEVAL’S admirable _Essai sur l’Histoire des Arabes_; but it
unfortunately ends with the Caliphate of Omar. On the general condition
of early Mussulman society I have found the scholarly volumes of H. VON
KREMER most valuable.[3]

I have followed the same system of rendering names as in the ‘Life of
Mahomet’ (adopted mainly from Caussin de Perceval), excepting in such
received forms as Bussorah, Mecca, &c.; namely:

    [Arabic] is represented by _th_.
    [Arabic] „       „      „   _j_.
    [Arabic] „       „      „  _kh_.
    [Arabic] „       „      „  _dz_.
    [Arabic] „       „      „   _z_.
    [Arabic] „       „      „  _dh_.
    [Arabic] „       „      „  _tz_.
    [Arabic] by a sharp accent, as _á_, _ó_.
    [Arabic] is represented by _gh_.
    [Arabic] „       „      „ _c_ or _ck_.
    [Arabic] „       „      „   _k_.

In quoting from the ‘Life of Mahomet,’ I refer to the Second Edition in
one volume, unless the First Edition in four volumes is specified.

I am indebted for the map which illustrates the campaigns, to Mr.
Trelawney Saunders, whose close acquaintance with the geography of
Syria and Chaldæa peculiarly qualifies him to identify many of the
sites, routes, &c.

The reader must remember that the Mussulman year is a purely lunar
one, being eleven days shorter than ours, so that passing through the
solar cycle it gains a year in about every thirty-three years.

At the death of Mahomet, in the eleventh year of the Hegira, Moharram
(the first month of the Arabian year) began on the 29th of March, so
that the corresponding months of the European calendar fell at that
period as in the following table:

      Arabian Months.        Corresponding Months

    Moharram, A.H. XI.       April,    A.D. 632.
    Safar                    May           „
    Rabî I.                  June          „
    Rabî II.                 July          „
    Jumâd I.                 August        „
    Jumâd II.                September     „
    Rajab                    October       „
    Shábân                   November      „
    Ramadhân (Ramzân)        December      „
    Shawwâl                  January,   A.D. 633.
    Dzul Cáda                February      „
    Dzul Hijj                March         „

To keep the notation distinct, I have ordinarily marked the years of
the Hegira by Roman numerals.

                                                              W. M.

    _November 1882._


                              CHAPTER I.


                      ELECTION OF ABU BEKR                            1

                          A.H. XI. A.D. 632.

                              CHAPTER II.

            EXPEDITION OF OSAMA TO THE SYRIAN BORDER                  8

                          A.H. XI. A.D. 632.

                             CHAPTER III.

                          MEDINA THREATENED.

                 A.H. XI. JUNE AND JULY, A.D. 632.

    Attack on Medîna repulsed                                        11

                              CHAPTER IV.


                    A.H. XI. SEPT.--OCT. A.D. 632.

    Abu Bekr discomfits the rebels at Rabadza--Expeditions to
    reclaim the apostate tribes                                      16

                              CHAPTER V.


                        A.H. XI. NOV. A.D. 632.

    Khâlid’s expedition against Toleiha--Khâlid defeats
    Toleiha--Omm Siml discomfited by Khâlid--Abu Bekr burns a
    freebooter alive                                                 20

                              CHAPTER VI.

                      STORY OF MALIK IBN NOWEIRA.

                          A.H. XI. A.D. 632.

    Mâlik ibn Noweira joins Sajâh the Prophetess--Is put to
    death--Khâlid marries his widow                                  30

                             CHAPTER VII.

                           BATTLE OF YEMAMA.

                 END OF A.H. XI. BEGINNING OF 633 A.D.

    The False Prophet Moseilama--Battle of Yemâma--The ‘Garden
    of Death’                                                        38

                             CHAPTER VIII.

                              OF ARABIA.

                         A.H. XI. A.D. 632–3.

    Bahrein reduced--Reduction of Omân and Mâhra--Rebellion
    in Yemen--Reduction of Yemen--Reduction of
    Hadhramaut--Authority re-established in the South                47

                              CHAPTER IX.


    Arabia aroused by the war-cry from without--All slaves of
    Arab blood set free--Death of Fâtima                             60

                              CHAPTER X.

                      CAMPAIGN OF KHALID IN IRAC.

                          A.H. XII. A.D. 633.

    State of Persia--Mesopotamia and the Syrian Desert--Irâc
    Araby described--Khâlid’s victories over the Persians--The
    River of Blood--Hîra capitulates--Hîra remains
    Christian--Khâlid’s administration in Irâc--Khâlid takes
    Anbâr and Ain Tamar--Dûma stormed by Khâlid--Expeditions
    against Bedouins in Irâc--Khâlid’s pilgrimage incognito to
    Mecca                                                            66

                              CHAPTER XI.


                         A.H. XIII. A.D. 634.

    Defeat of Khâlid ibn Saîd in Syria--Reinforcements
    sent to Syria--Roman army opposes the Moslems on the
    Yermûk--Indecisive skirmishing with Romans--Khâlid
    transferred to Syria--Khâlid’s journey across the
    Desert--Roman and Moslem armies compared--Khâlid takes
    command--Great battle of Wacûsa on the Yermûk--Roman army
    totally defeated                                                 92

                             CHAPTER XII.

                          OF REINFORCEMENTS.

         Moharram--Jumâd, A.H. XIII. March--August, A.D. 634.

    Mothanna asks Abu Bekr for reinforcements                       112

                             CHAPTER XIII.

                    SICKNESS AND DEATH OF ABU BEKR.

                Jumâd II., A.H. XIII. August, A.D. 634.

    Abu Bekr visits Mecca on pilgrimage--Abu Bekr appoints Omar
    his successor--Death and burial of Abu Bekr--Character of
    Abu Bekr                                                        115

                             CHAPTER XIV.


              Jumâd II., A.H. XIII.--Moharram, A.H. XIV.

                   August, A.D. 634–March, A.D. 635.

    Omar raises a new levy for Irâc--Rustem sends a Persian
    army against Abu Obeid--Battle of the Bridge--Moslems
    routed--Fresh levies ordered to Irâc--Mothanna’s victory at
    Boweib--Character of Mothanna                                   125

                              CHAPTER XV.


                          A.H. XIV. A.D. 635.

    Syria east of the Jordan--Khâlid deposed: Abu Obeida
    succeeds him--Siege of Damascus--Storm and capitulation
    of Damascus--Cathedral of St. John the Baptist--Battle of
    Fihl--Progress of Moslem conquest on the Jordan                 141

                             CHAPTER XVI.

                             OF CADESIYA.

                          A.H. XIV. A.D. 635.

    Yezdegird, King of Persia--Sád, commander-in-chief in
    Irâc--Death of Mothanna--Sád encamps at Câdesîya--Rustem
    advances on Câdesîya--Rustem crosses the river by a
    dam--Battle of Câdesîya. First day--Attack of the
    elephants--Second and third days--Night of Clangour--Defeat
    of Persians--Omar receives tidings of the victory               155

                             CHAPTER XVII.

                              OF MEDAIN.

                      A.H. XV., XVI. A.D. 636–7.

    Advance upon Medâin--Western suburb of Medâin
    taken--Capture of Medâin--Rich spoil of Medâin                  178

                            CHAPTER XVIII.

                         AND BUSSORAH FOUNDED.

                          A.H. XVI. A.D. 637.

    Great booty taken at Jalôla--Operations in Mesopotamia
    and the Delta of the Euphrates--Kûfa and Bussorah--Land
    settled with native cultivators--Factious spirit at Kûfa
    and Bussorah                                                    187

                             CHAPTER XIX.

                      CAMPAIGN IN NORTHERN SYRIA.

                          A.H. XV. A.D. 636.

    Northern Syria reduced--Heraclius retires to
    Constantinople--Story of Jabala, Prince of the Beni
    Ghassân                                                         198

                              CHAPTER XX.

                        CONQUEST OF PALESTINE.

                          A.H. XV. A.D. 636.

    Invasion of Palestine--Jerusalem capitulates to Omar--Omar
    visits Jerusalem--Causes facilitating conquest of
    Syria--Humiliation of Jews and Christians--‘Ordinance of
    Omar’                                                           205

                             CHAPTER XXI.

                       RISING IN NORTHERN SYRIA.

                         A.H. XVII. A.D. 638.

    Byzantine attack on Northern Syria--Campaign in Asia
    Minor--Khâlid brought to trial--Khâlid dies in neglect          215

                             CHAPTER XXII.


                     A.H. XIV., XV. A.D. 635, 636.

    Expulsion of Christians from Najrân, and of Jews from
    Kheibar--Dewân, or Civil List, of Omar--Omar perpetuates
    military organisation--The Corân, how compiled                  223

                            CHAPTER XXIII.

                          FAMINE AND PLAGUE.

                         A.H. XVIII. A.D. 639.

    Omar visits Syria after the Plague--Muâvia, Governor of
    Syria                                                           232

                             CHAPTER XXIV.

                          CONQUEST Of EGYPT.

                          A.H. XX. A.D. 641.

    Alexandria taken--Fostât founded--Canal from the Nile to
    the Red Sea--Second siege of Alexandria                         239

                             CHAPTER XXV.

                            TAKEN PRISONER.

                     A.H. XVI.--XX. A.D. 637–641.

    Unsuccessful attack on Persepolis--Capture of Râm Hormuz,
    Tostar, and Sûs--Hormuzân sent prisoner to Medîna--Embraces
    Islam                                                           249

                             CHAPTER XXVI.

                          CONQUEST OF PERSIA.

                    A.H. XXI., XXII. A.D. 642, 643.

    Yezdegird attacks the Moslems--Battle of Nehâvend--Persian
    provinces reduced--Miracle at the siege of Darâbgird            255

                            CHAPTER XXVII.


                    A.H. XVII.-XXIII. A.D. 638–644.

    Grand Square formed around the Káaba--Moghîra arraigned
    for adultery--Abu Mûsa, Governor of Bussorah--Moghîra,
    Governor of Kûfa--Deterioration of social life--Luxury,
    intemperance, and dissipation--Simplicity of Omar’s
    life--Death of Abu Sofiân and other ‘Companions’                262

                            CHAPTER XXVIII.

                            DEATH OF OMAR.

                         A.H. XXIII. A.D. 644.

    Omar stabbed by a Persian slave--Omar appoints
    Electors--Death of Omar--Character and reign of Omar            278

                             CHAPTER XXIX.

                          ELECTION OF OTHMAN.


                          NOVEMBER, A.D. 644.

    The six Electors--Conclave of the Electors--Othmân elected
    Caliph--Hormuzân slain by Omar’s son                            286

                             CHAPTER XXX.


                    A.H. XXIV.-XXXV. A.D. 645–656.

    Causes of Othmân’s unpopularity--Persia, Syria, Asia Minor,
    and Armenia--Conquests in Northern Africa--Naval victory
    off Alexandria                                                  294

                             CHAPTER XXXI.

                       HIS GROWING UNPOPULARITY.

    Change of governors at Kûfa--Change of governors
    at Bussorah--Revision of Corân--Story of Abu Dzarr
    Ghifary--Unlawful amusements checked--Othmân’s increasing
    unpopularity--Othmân marries Nâila                              303

                            CHAPTER XXXII.


                   A.H. XXXII.-XXXIV. A.D. 653–655.

    Emeute at Kûfa--Saîd expelled from Kûfa--Aly expostulates
    with Othmân--Othmân appeals to the people                       316

                            CHAPTER XXXIII.

                         THE OUTLOOK DARKENS.

                     A.H. XXXIV., XXXV. A.D. 655.

    Complainants invited to come forward--Conference of
    governors at Medîna                                             324

                            CHAPTER XXXIV.

                              OF OTHMAN.

                         A.H. XXXV. A.D. 656.

    Conspirators attack Medîna--Altercation of conspirators
    with Othmân--Tumult in the Great Mosque--Othmân besieged in
    his palace--The blockade--Death of Othmân--Burial of Othmân     329

                             CHAPTER XXXV.

                         THE ELECTION OF ALY.

                   END OF A.H. XXXV. JUNE, A.D. 656.

    Aly will not punish the regicides--Aly appoints new
    governors--Muâvia’s defiant attitude                            342

                            CHAPTER XXXVI.

                        REBELLION AT BUSSORAH.

                         A.H. XXXVI. A.D. 656.

    Ayesha at Mecca--Rebellion of Ayesha, Zobeir, and
    Talha--Rebel army marches from Mecca to Bussorah--Pursued
    by Aly--Ayesha’s alarm--Zobeir and Talha occupy Bussorah        351

                            CHAPTER XXXVII.

                         BATTLE OF THE CAMEL.

              JUMAD II., A.H. XXXVI. DECEMBER, A.D. 656.

    Aly advances on Bussorah--Negotiations with Zobeir and
    Talha--Regicides bring on engagement--Battle of the
    Camel--The insurgents defeated--Ayesha retires to Medîna        359

                           CHAPTER XXXVIII.

                           AFFAIRS IN EGYPT.

                      A.H. XXXVI. A.D. 656, 657.

    Cays, Governor of Egypt, deposed--Mohammed son of Abu Bekr
    appointed Governor of Egypt--Amru joins Muâvia--Muâvia and
    Aly                                                             369

                            CHAPTER XXXIX.

                           BATTLE OF SIFFIN.

                    A.H. XXXVI., XXXVII. A.D. 657.

    Aly marches against Muâvia--Fighting at Siffîn--Battle of
    Siffîn--Combat closed by reference to arbitration--The
    armies break up                                                 376

                              CHAPTER XL.

                             AGAINST ALY                            388

                         A.H. XXXVI. A.D. 657.

                             CHAPTER XLI.

                       DECISION OF THE UMPIRES.

                        A.H. XXXVII. A.D. 658.

    The Umpires meet--The decision deposing Aly                     391

                             CHAPTER XLII.

                              AT NEHRWAN.

                        A.H. XXXVII. A.D. 658.

    Hostile attitude of Khârejites--Second campaign against
    Syria projected--Army diverted by Khârejites--Khârejites
    defeated                                                        395

                            CHAPTER XLIII.

                           REVOLT OF EGYPT.

                        A.H. XXXVIII. A.D. 658.

    Aly abandons the war on Syria--Aly loses Egypt                  401

                             CHAPTER XLIV.

                     THE REMAINDER OF ALY’S REIGN.

                    A.H. XXXVIII.-XL. A.D. 658–660.

    Khârejite émeutes--Syrian expeditions against Aly--Troubles
    of Aly--Peace between Aly and Muâvia                            404

                             CHAPTER XLV.

                         ASSASSINATION OF ALY.

                          A.H. XL. A.D. 661.

    Conspiracy against Aly, Muâvia, and Amru--Muâvia and Amru
    escape--Assassination of Aly--Character of Aly                  411

                             CHAPTER XLVI.


                       A.H. XL., XLI. A.D. 661.

    Hasan abdicates the Caliphate--Muâvia sole Caliph               418

                            CHAPTER XLVII.

                      SOME BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICES.

                             A.H. XL.--L.

    Amru, Moghîra, and Ziâd--Muâvia acknowledges Ziâd as his
    brother                                                         422

                            CHAPTER XLVIII.

                         BECOMES A PRECEDENT.

                          A.H. LVI. A.D. 676.

    Precedents of succession--Yezîd declared Heir
    Apparent--Precedent for future successions                      427

                             CHAPTER XLIX.


                          A.H. LXI. A.D. 680.

    Yezîd succeeds to the Caliphate--Hosein sets out
    for Kûfa--Hosein stopped at Kerbala--The tragedy of
    Kerbala--Death of Hosein--‘The Moharram’                        433

                              CHAPTER L.


    Rebellion of Ibn Zobeir, Mukhtâr, and Khârejites--Abd al
    Malik and Welîd--Omeyyad dynasty--Abbasside dynasty--The
    Abbassides--Al Mâmûn--The Motázilites--Golden Age under
    Abbassides--Fall of the Caliphate--Early influences
    which still survive--Soonnies and Shîyas--Islam
    stationary--Causes of decadence--Conclusion                     443

    INDEX                                                           461

       *       *       *       *       *


Page 72, line 14, _for_ Hâtim, son of Adî, _read_ Adî, son of
Hâtim. Page 241, line 15, _for_ Khâlid _read_ Amru.



                         THE EARLY CALIPHATE.

                              CHAPTER I.

                         ELECTION OF ABU BEKR.

                          A.H. XI. A.D. 632.

[Sidenote: Death of Mahomet, 13 Rabi I. A.H. XI., June 8, A.D. 632.]

At eventide of a summer day in the eleventh year of the Hegira, three
chief ‘Companions’ of Mahomet might be seen issuing in haste from the
Great Mosque at Medîna, where, close by in the chamber of Ayesha, his
favourite wife, the Prophet of Arabia lay dead.[4] They were Abu Bekr,
Omar, and Abu Obeida. I will first describe each briefly, and then
explain the object of their errand.

[Sidenote: ABU BEKR.]

ABU BEKR, now threescore years of age, was somewhat short in
stature, of a spare frame, rounded back, and stooping gait. His face
was thin, complexion smooth and fair, nose aquiline and sharp, with
other features delicate; the forehead high; the eyes deep-seated and
far apart; the veins well marked. His scanty hair and beard, now for
many years white, was dyed red. The countenance was still in old age
handsome; and the expression mild, but wise and resolute. To him faith
in the Prophet had become a second nature, and, now that his Master
was gone, the disciple lived but to fulfil his will. It was this that
nerved a disposition naturally soft and yielding, and made Abu Bekr,
THE TRUE,[5] of all the followers of Mahomet, the firmest and
most resolute.

[Sidenote: OMAR.]

OMAR, fifteen years younger, differed both in frame and temperament.
Broad-shouldered and tall, he towered above the crowd. Though somewhat
dark in complexion, the face was fresh and ruddy. He was now bald; and
his beard was dyed like his friend’s. His stride was long, and his
presence commanding. Naturally hasty and passionate, he would twist his
moustache when angry and draw it downwards to his mouth. But time had
mellowed temper; and, beneath an imperious manner, he was bland and
courteous. Their attachment to Mahomet had, on these two friends, an
effect exactly opposite. That which braced the soft nature of Abu Bekr
served to abate the vehemence of Omar. Both stood in a like relation to
the Prophet, each having given a daughter to him in marriage; Haphsa,
Omar’s daughter, was one of Mahomet’s favourite wives; but Ayesha, the
child of Abu Bekr, was queen in his affections to the end.

[Sidenote: ABU OBEIDA.]

On these two men at this moment hung the future of Islam. The third,
who now accompanied them, ABU OBEIDA, was between them in
age. He was thin, tall, and sinewy; bald, and with little beard. Mild,
unassuming, and unwarlike, he was yet destined to take a leading part
in the conquest of Syria.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Abu Bekr and Omar in the Great Mosque.]

It was the afternoon of the day on which, but an hour or two before,
Mahomet had breathed his last. The event had come unexpectedly at the
end. Abu Bekr, thinking the Prophet better, had shortly before retired
to his house in the suburbs of the city. Called back in haste, he
entered Ayesha’s chamber, and kissed the face of his departed friend,

[Sidenote: Men of Medîna would elect a chief of their own.]

‘Sweet wert thou in life; and sweet thou art in death.’ The mosque was
filled with a crowd excited by the voice of Omar, who wildly proclaimed
that the Prophet was not dead, but in a trance; and that, like Moses,
he would surely return to them again. Abu Bekr, issuing from the
chamber (which opened directly from the court of the mosque), put his
friend aside with these memorable words:--_Whoso worshippeth Mahomet,
let him know that Mahomet is dead indeed; but whoso worshippeth God,
let him know that God liveth and dieth not._ He added passages from
the Corân, in which the Prophet had said that he would die; and Omar,
hearing them as if he had never heard them before, was speechless.
The multitude quieted down before the solemn words of Abu Bekr. But
just then a messenger hurried up with the report, that the citizens of
Medîna--the ANSÂR, had assembled to choose for themselves a
chief. The moment was critical. The unity of the faith was at stake. A
divided power would fall to pieces, and all might be lost. The mantle
of the Prophet must fall upon one successor, and on one alone. The
sovereignty of Islam demanded an undivided Caliphate; and Arabia would
acknowledge no master but from amongst the Coreish. The die must be
cast, and at once.

[Sidenote: Stormy scene in the hall of the citizens.]

Such, no doubt, were the thoughts which occurred to Omar and Abu
Bekr on receiving intelligence of the elective conclave; and so,
alarmed at the danger, they hastened to the spot, accompanied by Abu
Obeida, if haply they might nip it in the bud. On the way they met
two friendly citizens coming from the assembly, who warned them of
the risk they ran; but, notwithstanding, they hurried on. The men of
Medîna meanwhile, gathered in one of their rude halls, were bent upon
an independent course. ‘We have sheltered this nest of strangers,’
they cried. ‘It is by our good swords they have been able to plant the
Faith. The Chief of Medîna shall be from amongst ourselves.’ And they
had already fixed their choice on Sád ibn Obâda, leader of the Beni
Khazraj, one of ‘the Twelve’ at ‘the Pledge of Acaba,’ who, sick of a
fever, lay covered up at the further end of the hall. At this moment
the three Companions entered but just in time, for had the Citizens
elected Sád and pledged their troth to him, Medîna might have been
irretrievably compromised. Omar, with his native vehemence, was about
to speak, when Abu Bekr bade him to be silent, and anticipated him, as
Omar used in after days to say, with the same arguments he himself had
thought of, and even better. ‘Every word,’ said Abu Bekr, calmly and
firmly, ‘which the Citizens had uttered in their own praise was true,
but in noble birth and influence the Coreish were paramount, and to
none but them would Arabia yield obedience.’ ‘Then,’ cried the men of
Medîna, ‘let there be one chief from amongst you and one from amongst
us.’ ‘Away with you!’ exclaimed Omar; ‘two cannot stand together’;
and even Sád from beneath his covering muttered that to divide the
power would weaken it. High words ensued. Hobâb, on the side of Sád,
cried out, ‘Hear him not! Attend to me, for I am the _well-rubbed
Palm-stem_.[6] If they refuse, expel them from the city. I am the
Roaring Lion of the desert, and will devour them up.’ ‘The Lord destroy
thee!’ cried Omar; and Hobâb returned the words. The altercation
gaining in heat and bitterness, Abu Bekr saw that it must be stopped
at any risk; so stepping forward he said: ‘Ye see these two’--and he
pointed to Omar and Abu Obeida--‘Choose ye now whichever of them ye
will, and salute him as your Chief.’ ‘Nay,’ cried both at once, ‘Thou
hast already, at the Prophet’s bidding, led the prayers; thou art our
Chief. Stretch forth thine hand.’ He did so, and they struck their
hand on his in token of allegiance.[7] Others began to follow their
example. ‘Wilt thou cut thine own kinsman’s throat?’ cried Hobâb to
a Khazrajite about to take the pledge. ‘Not so,’ he answered; ‘I only
yield the right to whom the right is due.’ Whilst they yet hesitated,
the Beni Aus, jealous of the rival tribe and of Sád its nominee,
spake among themselves: ‘If this man be chosen, the rule will be for
ever with the Beni Khazraj. Let us salute Abu Bekr as our Chief.’[8]
[Sidenote: Abu Bekr elected Caliph.]The example once set, group after
group advanced to place their hand on that of Abu Bekr, till none was
left but Sád, who still lay covered in the corner. Acknowledged thus
by the men of Medîna, there could be no doubt of Abu Bekr’s acceptance
by the Coreish and all the Refugees.[9] He was one of themselves, and
the Prophet, by appointing him to take his place, when laid aside, at
the daily prayers, had in a manner indicated him as his vicegerent.
And so homage was done on all sides to Abu Bekr. He was saluted as the
‘CALIPH,’ or ‘_Successor_ of the Prophet.’

[Sidenote: Burial of the Prophet.]

The night was occupied in preparing the dead for sepulture. The body
was washed and laid out, and the grave dug in Ayesha’s apartment,
where Mahomet had breathed his last. On the morrow the citizens, men,
women, and children, thronged the chamber to look once more upon their
Prophet’s face. And then the body was reverently committed to the dust.

[Sidenote: Abu Bekr’s inaugural address.]

The funeral being over, and the court of the Great Mosque still crowded
with the mourners, Abu Bekr ascended the pulpit, and, sitting down, was
saluted as Caliph by acclamation. Then he arose, and said: ‘O people!
Now I am Chief over you, albeit not the best amongst you. If I do
well, support me; if ill, then set me right. Follow the true, wherein
is faithfulness; eschew the false, wherein is treachery. The weaker
amongst you shall be as the stronger with me, until that I shall have
redressed his wrong; and the stronger shall be as the weaker, until, if
the Lord will, I shall have taken from him that which he hath wrested.
Leave not off to fight in the ways of the Lord; whosoever leaveth off,
him verily shall the Lord abase. Obey me wherein I obey the Lord and
his Prophet; when I disobey, then obey me not. Now, arise to prayer,
and the Lord be with you!’ The assembly stood up for prayer, and Abu
Bekr, for the first time as Caliph, filled the place of Mahomet.

[Sidenote: Sád declines to swear fealty; and also (probably) Aly for a

Besides Sád, there were few, if any, who refused to do homage to Abu
Bekr. According to most authorities, Aly declined to do so until the
death of Fâtima his wife, six months afterwards. Zobeir and Talha are
also mentioned, but doubtfully.[10] Sád persisted in his refusal; he
even threatened to empty his quiver against the usurpers, and then
fight against them with his retainers. ‘Let him alone,’ was the advice
of those around the Caliph; ‘he is but a single man, and his secession
will not signify; but if force be used against him, then his tribe will
fight.’ The advice approved itself to Abu Bekr’s forbearing spirit. Sád
kept aloof, and never appeared at court or in the mosque. When Omar
succeeded to the Caliphate, he presented himself with these words, ‘I
love thee not, O Omar!’ and, disappearing, eventually died in Syria.

[Sidenote: The succession, how far provided for by Mahomet; and the
precedent now established.]

With Mahomet ceased the theocratic power which, as a prophet, he
had exercised; but the kingly functions, as ruler over all Islam,
descended to his successor. According to Arabian notions, such a ruler
was, like the Chieftain of a tribe, the head and representative of
the people, and his nomination was incomplete till confirmed by their
homage. Omar, we are told, in after days declared that the irregular
election of Abu Bekr (referring apparently to the scene enacted in
the hall) should not be drawn into a precedent. It was, he said,
an event the happiest in its consequences for Islam, but justified
only by the urgency of the moment. What might have been the issue
if any son of Mahomet had survived, it is useless to speculate. But
certainly the hereditary descent of kingly power was foreign to the
sentiment of Arabia. As matters stood, Mahomet seems to have shrunk
from anticipating the contingency of his death, and made no preparation
for what should follow. But in so far as we may suppose him to have
felt his illness mortal and his death impending, the nomination of Abu
Bekr to conduct the public prayers (the acknowledged mark of chief or
delegated authority) may be held the natural indication of his wish
that he should succeed.[11] Apart from the counter-claim of the men of
Medîna, there was, in point of fact, neither doubt nor hesitancy in the
election, and the counter-claim died away almost as soon as made. The
notion of divine right, or even of preferential claim, resting in the
Prophet’s family, was the growth of a later age.

                              CHAPTER II.


                          A.H. XI. A.D. 632.

[Sidenote: Osâma ordered by Mahomet to lead an expedition against the
Syrian border, A.H. XI. May, A.D. 632.]

Abu Bekr soon had the opportunity of showing that he was resolved to
carry out the commands of Mahomet to the very letter. A few weeks
previously an expedition had been ordered to avenge by a raid on the
Syrian border the disaster which, three years before, had tarnished the
Moslem arms. In that reverse Zeid, the Prophet’s bosom friend, who led
the army, was with many others slain at Mûta; and the more distinctly
now to mark the object of the campaign, his son Osâma, though still a
youth, was nominated by Mahomet to the command, and bidden to avenge
his father’s death. The camp was formed at Jorf, a little way on the
Syrian road; but during the Prophet’s sickness the force remained
inactive, uncertain of the issue. When the fatal event took place,
Osâma broke up the camp, and carrying back the banner which he had
received at the hands of Mahomet, planted it in the court of the Great
Mosque, close by the door of Ayesha’s apartment.

[Sidenote: Abu Bekr deaf to reclamations against its dispatch.]

The day following his inauguration as Caliph, Abu Bekr took up the
banner, and placing it in the hands of Osâma, in token that he was
still commander, bade the army again assemble and encamp, as it had
done before, at Jorf; and not a man was to be left behind. Obeying
the command, the fighting men of Medîna and its neighbourhood flocked
again to the camp, and even Omar was amongst the number. While yet
preparing to depart, the horizon darkened suddenly. Report of the
Prophet’s mortal illness, followed by tidings of his death, had spread
like wildfire over the land. From every side there now came rumours
of disloyalty, and of the resolve to cast the yoke of Islam off. The
sense of the army, and of Osâma himself, was strongly against leaving
the city thus defenceless, and the Caliph exposed to the risk of sudden
inroad. Omar was deputed to represent this to Abu Bekr, and also to
urge (as had been already urged to Mahomet himself[12]) that, if the
expedition must proceed, some more experienced general should command.
To the first request Abu Bekr replied, calm and unmoved: ‘Were the city
swarming round with packs of ravening wolves, and I left solitary and
alone, the force should go; not a word from my Master’s lips shall fall
to the ground.’ At the second demand the Caliph’s anger kindled: ‘Thy
mother be childless, O son of Khattâb!’ he said, seizing Omar by the
beard. ‘Shall the Prophet of the Lord appoint a man to the command,
and I, deposing him, appoint another in his place?’ So Omar returned,
without gaining either object, to the army.

[Sidenote: He accompanies it a little way on foot. June, A.D.

When all was ready for the march, Abu Bekr repaired to the camp, and
accompanied the force a little way on foot, ‘Be mounted,’ said Osâma to
him; ‘or else I will dismount and walk by thee.’ ‘Not so,’ replied Abu
Bekr; ‘I will not mount; I will walk and soil my feet, a little moment,
in the ways of the Lord. Verily, every step in the ways of the Lord is
equal to the merit of manifold good works, and wipeth out a multitude
of sins.’ After a while he stopped, and said to Osâma: ‘If it be thy
will, give Omar leave that he may return with me to the city, for
strength and counsel.’ So he gave him leave.[13]

[Sidenote: And gives Osâma instructions.]

The army then halted, to receive the parting injunctions of the Caliph.
‘See,’ said he, addressing Osâma, ‘that thou avoid treachery and
deceit. Depart not in any wise from the right. Thou shalt mutilate
none; neither shalt thou kill child or aged man, nor any woman. Injure
not the date-palm, neither burn it with fire; and cut not down any tree
wherein is food for man or beast. Slay not of the flocks or herds or
camels, saving for needful sustenance. Ye may eat of the meat which the
men of the land shall bring unto you in their vessels, making mention
thereon of the name of the Lord. And the monks with shaven heads that
spend their lives in monasteries, if they submit, leave them in their
cloisters unmolested. Now march forward in the name of the Lord, and
may He protect you from sword and pestilence!’

[Sidenote: Osâma returns victorious, July and August.]

So Abu Bekr returned with Omar to Medîna. Osâma marched by Wâdi al
Cora, in the direction of Dûma, Obna, and the highlands south of
Syria. The brunt of his attack fell upon the Beni Codhâa, and the
semi-Christian tribes which, under the Roman banner, had discomfited
and slain his father. That disaster was now avenged in fire and blood.
The land was ravaged far and near, and after an absence of two months,
the army returned laden with spoil.[14]

Meanwhile stirring events had transpired at Medîna, of which an account
is given in the chapter following.

                             CHAPTER III.

                          MEDINA THREATENED.

                   A.H. XI. JUNE AND JULY, A.H. 632.

[Sidenote: Beneficial effects of Osâma’s expedition.]

In after days Abu Bekr used to look back with a just pride and
satisfaction to his despatch, against a universal reclamation, of
Osâma’s force. Public opinion was not long in justifying the act and
attributing thereto results of essential benefit. The firmness of his
attitude inspired the Bedouin tribes with a sense of stability in
the government. If the leaders at Medîna had not been confident in
their strength at home they would not have sent away this army; and
the Arabs, reasoning thus, were restrained from much that they might
otherwise have attempted. Still the position was critical, and at times
sufficiently alarming.

[Sidenote: Courageous attitude of Abu Bekr.]

It was indeed a thing of which the brave old Caliph might proud. ‘The
Arabs,’ so the tradition runs, ‘were on all sides rising in rebellion.
Apostasy and disaffection began to raise their heads; Christians and
Jews to stretch out their necks; and the Faithful were left like a
flock of sheep without a shepherd--their Prophet gone, their numbers
few, and their foes a multitude.’ It was in face of all this that Abu
Bekr sent off beyond recall his only force, and left Medîna open and,
to the outward eye, defenceless.

[Sidenote: Insurrection throughout Arabia.]

During the lifetime of Mahomet three rivals had already laid claim
to the prophetic office and raised the standard of rebellion. In the
south, insurrection had hardly been quelled by the assassination of the
‘Veiled Prophet’ of Yemen, when tidings of the death of Mahomet made it
burst forth with redoubled violence. Enshrined in the very centre of
the peninsula, Moseilama had detached the powerful tribes around Yemâma
from their allegiance; and to the north-east, nearer home, Toleiha, the
third pretender, was now openly and dangerously hostile.[15] From every
quarter, in rapid succession, came the news of spreading disaffection.
The legates of Mahomet, the collectors of tithes--all, in fact,
who represented the authority of Islam--fled or were expelled. The
Faithful were massacred, and some confessors suffered a cruel death.
Mecca and Tâyif quivered and vacillated at the first intelligence of
the Prophet’s decease; in the end, through the strong influence of
the Coreish, they stood firm; but they were almost alone. Here and
there some few tribes, under loyal, or, it might be, temporising,
chiefs, maintained the semblance of obedience; but they were hardly
discernible amidst the seething mass of rebellion. Amru, hurrying back
from Omân (whither he had been sent by Mahomet as ambassador at the
Farewell Pilgrimage), witnessed the whole of Central Arabia either in
open revolt or ready to break away on the first demand of tithes, and
his report filled the citizens of Medîna with dismay.[16] In truth,
Islam had never taken firm hold of the distant provinces; and as for
the Bedouins, Mahomet had himself had frequent cause to chide their
fickleness. It was fear of punishment, and the lust of plunder, rather
than attachment to the faith, which had hitherto held these wild sons
of the desert in bondage to the Prophet. The restraints and obligations
of Islam were irksome and distasteful; and now, on Mahomet’s death well
rid of them, they hoped to return to their lawless life.

[Sidenote: Demand for exemption from tithes refused by Abu Bekr.]

As report after report came in of fresh defection, Abu Bekr could
but instruct his officers to hold on where they were able with the
loyal few, hoping to tide over the crisis till the return of Osâma’s
force. For the immediate defence of Medîna he took such measures as
were possible. He called in all that remained of the faithful tribes
in the neighbourhood, and posted pickets at the various approaches to
the city. The turbulent tribes in the near desert to the east were
the first to assume a threatening attitude. The Beni Abs and Dzobiân
massed there in such numbers ‘that the land was straitened by them,’
and they parted into two bodies, one at Rabadza,[17] the other at Dzul
Cassa, the first station from Medîna on the road to Nejd. The false
prophet Toleiha sent his brother with men to help them; but they still
vacillated between the claims of the pretender and Islam. At last
they bethought themselves of a compromise. They sent a deputation to
Abu Bekr, offering to hold by Islam and its ritual if only they were
excused the tithe. The strangers bearing the message were welcomed by
the chiefs of Medîna, but by the Caliph their advances were indignantly
rejected. He would relax not a tittle of the legal dues. ‘If ye
withhold but the tether of a tithed camel,’ said Abu Bekr, bluntly, ‘I
will fight with you for the same.’ With this refusal they retired, and
also with the intelligence that the city had but few defenders left.
Now was the time, before the army came back, not only for plunder,
but to deliver a decisive blow. Abu Bekr, foreseeing this, redoubled
his precautions. He strengthened the pickets, and set over them the
chief men who had remained with him--Aly, Zobeir, Talha, and Abdallah
ibn Masûd. For the rest of the people he appointed the Great Mosque a
rendezvous. ‘The land hath rebelled against us,’ he said, ‘and they
have spied out our nakedness and the weakness of our defence. Ye know
not whether they will come upon you by night or come upon you by day,
or which of you may be first attacked. They verily hoped that we should
have accepted their offer, but we rejected it. Wherefore be vigilant
and ready.’

[Sidenote: Attack on Medîna repelled.]

And so it came to pass. They tarried but three days, when a surprise
was attempted from Dzul Cassa. The outposts were on the alert, and
kept the assailants at bay while the main guard was hurried up from
the Mosque on camels. The Bedouins, hardly prepared for so warm a
reception, fled back upon their reserves. They were pursued; but the
camels of the Moslems, being used only to draw water for the fields,
took fright at a stratagem of the enemy, and turning, fled back to the
Mosque.[18] There were no casualties among the Medîna troops, but the
rebels were emboldened by the flight of their opponents. Abu Bekr,
anticipating a renewed attack, called out every man capable of bearing
arms, and spent the night in marshalling his force. Next morning, while
yet dark, the Caliph himself led out the little band in regular array,
with a centre and two wings.[19] The enemy were taken by surprise at
early dawn, and as the sun rose were already in full flight. Abu Bekr
drove them with slaughter out of Dzul Cassa, and, leaving a portion of
his little force as an outpost there, returned with the rest to Medîna.

[Sidenote: Good effect of the victory.]

The affair was comparatively small, but its effect great. As failure
would have been disastrous, perhaps fatal, to Islam, so victory was the
turning-point in its favour. The power of the Prophet’s successor, even
without his proper army, to secure the city and beat off his assailants
was noised abroad. And soon after, the spirits of the Moslems rose as
they saw certain chiefs appear, bringing in the tithes. The tribes they
represented, to be sure, were few in contrast with the apostate hordes;
but it was an augury of brighter days to come. Safwân and Zibricân,
chiefs of two branches of the Beni Temîm, and Adi son of Hâtim from a
loyal branch of the Beni Tay, were the first to present their legal
offerings to the Caliph. Each was ushered into his presence as an
ambassador. ‘Nay,’ said Abu Bekr; ‘they are more than that; they are
Messengers of glad tidings, true men, and defenders of the faith.’ And
the people answered, ‘Even so; now the good things that thou didst
promise are appearing.’

[Sidenote: Saving of Islam due to Abu Bekr.]

Tradition delights to ascribe with pious gratitude the preservation
of Islam to the aged Caliph’s faith and fortitude. ‘On the death
of Mahomet,’ we are told, ‘it wanted but little, and the faithful
had utterly perished. But the Lord strengthened the heart of Abu
Bekr, and stablished us thereby in the resolve to give place, no
not for one moment, to the apostates; and to say but these three
words--_Submission_, _Exile_, or the _Sword_.’ It was the simple faith
in Mahomet of Abu Bekr which fitted him for the task, and made him
carry out the law of his Master to the very letter. But for him, Islam
would have melted away in compromise with the Bedouin tribes, or might
have perished in the throes of its birth.

                              CHAPTER IV.


                     A.H. XI. SEPT.--OCT. A.D. 632

[Sidenote: Osâma’s return. Jumâd II. A.H. XI. Sept. A.D. 632.]

Osâma at last appeared, and Medîna, for two months left unprotected,
was relieved from further danger. The army returned laden with booty.
The royal Fifth was delivered to the Caliph, and by him distributed
among the people.[20]

[Sidenote: Expedition against Beni Abs and Dzobiân.]

Abu Bekr lost no time in now following up the advantage he had gained
over the Beni Abs and Dzobiân. Driven back from Dzul Cassa, they had
retired to Rabadza, and vented their anger in destroying by cruel
deaths the faithful followers of the Prophet still left amongst them.
Deeply moved at the fate of these confessors, Abu Bekr took a solemn
oath that ‘he would by the like deaths destroy as many of them as they
had slain, or even more.’

[Sidenote: Abu Bekr chastises the rebel tribes at Rabadza.]

Putting Osâma in command of the city, and leaving the army there for a
little while to recruit, Abu Bekr took the remaining force and marched
again towards Rabadza. The chief men expostulated with him on going
forth to fight in person. If a commander were killed in action, his
place could easily be filled; but if the Caliph fell, their head and
ruler would be gone. ‘Nay,’ replied Abu Bekr; ‘but I will go forth,
and will be your comrade even as one of your own selves.’[21] So
they marched on, and coming up with the enemy at Abrac, completely
discomfited them, killing some, and taking others prisoners. The Beni
Abs and Dzobiân fled to Toleiha, and joined his army at Bozâkha.
Thereupon Abu Bekr confiscated their pasture-lands, and declared them
to be for ever a public domain reserved for the stud and camels of the
State. On eventually submitting, they found themselves thus debarred
from re-entry; but this was of comparatively little consequence, as
they had, in the end, ample compensation in the conquered lands beyond
Arabia. After some days spent at Rabadza, the Caliph returned to

[Sidenote: Islam must be reimposed on all Arabia.]

The army by this time was refitted. The tithes had begun to come in
from many neighbouring tribes in token of submission. Medîna was
no longer in peril, and the citizens breathed freely. But a heavy
burden still lay upon the Caliph. Islam was to be the faith of all
Arabia;--‘Throughout the peninsula there shall be no second creed,’
was the behest of Mahomet on his death-bed. False prophets must be
crushed; rebels vanquished; apostates reclaimed or exterminated; and
the supremacy vindicated of Islam. It was, in short, the mission of Abu
Bekr to redeem the dying Prophet’s words.

[Sidenote: Eleven expeditions despatched to different parts of Arabia.]

With this great purpose, Abu Bekr went forth a second time to Dzul
Cassa, and there summoned the whole available forces of Islam and all
the loyal chiefs around him. He divided them into eleven independent
columns, and over every one appointed a distinguished leader, to whom
(following the example of his Master) he presented a banner. Arabia
was mapped out, and each detachment given a province to reclaim, with
marching orders, where to begin and what course to take. Thus Khâlid
ibn Saîd was named for the Syrian border; Khâlid ibn Welîd was to
subdue Toleiha; and Ikrima with Shorahbîl, Moseilama; Mohâjir was
sent to Yemen; Alâ to Bahrein; Hodzeifa and Arfaja to Mâhra; and Amru
against the Beni Codhâa. And so by this great scheme, in course of
time, no spot would be left unconquered. The troops retained at home
were few; for few were needed now.[22]

[Sidenote: Proclamation summoning apostates to repent. Oct.,
A.D. 632.]

Having despatched the various expeditions, Abu Bekr returned to Medîna.
There his first concern was to publish a summons to the apostate
tribes, commanding them everywhere to repent and submit themselves, on
which condition they should be pardoned, and received back into Islam.
Such as refused would be attacked, their fighting men cut to pieces,
and their women and children taken captive. This summons was sent by
the hand of envoys to every province and rebellious tribe. The Adzân,
or call to prayer, was to be the test of faith; if that were heard and
responded to, good and well; if not, the people were apostate, and as
such to be attacked.

[Sidenote: Abu Bekr did not again go out to fight.]

Abu Bekr never again left Medîna to lead his troops. Some say that
afterwards he regretted this; but it is not likely that he did so.
Medîna, where he continued to reside, was his proper place. From it, as
a central point, he was able to direct the movement of his commanders
all over the peninsula; and with operations in so many different
quarters to control he could not have been better situated.

[Sidenote: No chief ‘Companion’ appointed to a command.]

It is more open to remark that none of the more distinguished
Companions of the Prophet were appointed to commands. The same was
the case with Omar, who was known to say that he purposely refrained
from nominating them to any government, both out of respect to their
dignity,[23] and also to strengthen his own hands by having them about
him as advisers. This latter reason may also well have weighed with
Abu Bekr, who used to take counsel on all important matters with the
leading Companions. Still, it is singular that men like Aly and Zobeir,
who took so prominent a part in the battles of Mahomet, should now
altogether disappear from operations in the field.

                              CHAPTER V.


                        A.H. XI. NOV. A.D. 632.

[Sidenote: Materials for the first epoch imperfect.]

The materials for our story at this point are few, obscure, and
disconnected. The scene of confusion that reigned throughout Arabia is
presented to our view in but dim and hazy outline. With the Prophet’s
life, _Tradition proper_ ends. The prodigious stores of oral
testimony, which light up in minutest detail the career of Mahomet,
suddenly stop. The grand object of tradition was, from the oral
teaching and example of the Prophet, to supplement by authoritative
rulings what was wanting in the Corân. That motive ceased with the
death of Mahomet, and with it tradition, as such, ceases also.[24]
What history we have for the period immediately succeeding is in the
form of loose fragments--the statements, it may be, of eyewitnesses,
or gathered as hearsay from the memory of Arab tribes, or from legends
in the neighbouring conquered lands. Hence it is that, after the death
of Mahomet, we are left for a time to grope our way by evidence always
scanty and often discrepant. The further back we go, the obscurity is
the greater; and it is most so while, in the first year of Abu Bekr’s
Caliphate, Islam was struggling for existence. There was little room
then for thought beyond the safety of the moment; and when at length
the struggle was over, nothing was left but the sense of relief from
a terrible danger, and the roughest outline of the way in which it had
been achieved. No date is given for any one of the many battles fought
throughout the year. Here and there we may be guided by the apparent
sequence of events; but as the various expeditions were for the most
part independent of one another, and proceeding simultaneously all over
the peninsula, even this indication too often fails.[25]

[Sidenote: Arrangement of narrative of campaigns against apostate

Such being the case, the thread of our narrative here must run an
arbitrary course. Taking Tabari as our guide, we begin with the
campaign of Khâlid against Toleiha in the north-east, and follow
him thence southward to Yemâma. We shall then take up the provinces
assigned to other leaders, as they lie geographically around the
coasts--Bahrein, Omân, Hadhramaut and Yemen.

[Sidenote: KHÂLID ibn Welîd.]

After Abu Bekr and Omar, the most prominent figure in the story of the
early Caliphate is without doubt that of KHÂLID, son of Welîd.
More to him than to any other is it due that Islam spread with such
marvellous rapidity. A dashing soldier, and brave even to rashness, his
courage was tempered by a cool and ever-ready judgment. His conduct
on the battle-fields which decided the fate of the Persian empire and
of the Byzantine rule in Syria, must rank him as one of the greatest
generals of the world. Over and again he cast the die in crises where
loss would have been destruction to Islam, but always with consummate
skill and heroism which won the victory. The carnage following his
arms gained for him the title of _The Sword of God_; and so
little regard had he for loss of life even amongst his own followers,
that he could wed the freshly-made widow of his enemy on the field
yet moistened by his people’s blood. He had already distinguished
himself in the annals of Islam. Fighting, at the first, on the side of
the Coreish, the defeat of the Prophet at Ohod was due mainly to his
prowess. At the capture of Mecca, now in the ranks of the faithful,
his was the only column which shed blood; and shortly after, the cruel
massacre of an unoffending tribe brought down upon him the stern
reproof of Mahomet.[26] At the battle of Mûta, three years before, he
had given a signal proof of his generalship, when, the Moslem army
having been routed by Roman legions, and its leaders one after another
slain, he saved the shattered remnants by skilful and intrepid tactics
from destruction.[27] It was this Khâlid whom Abu Bekr now sent forth
against the rebel prophets Toleiha and Moseilama.

[Sidenote: Khâlid marches towards the Beni Tay.]

His column, by far the strongest of the eleven, was composed of the
flower of the Refugees from Mecca, as well as of the men of Medîna,
which latter marched under their own officer, Thâbit son of Cays.[28]
To divert the enemy’s attention, Abu Bekr gave out that the destination
was Kheibar, and (to strike the greater terror into the insurgents)
that he intended himself to join it there with a fresh contingent.
Khâlid, however, was not long in quitting the northern route. Striking
off to the right, he made direct for the mountain range of Ajâ and
Salmâ, the seat of the Beni Tay, and not distant from the scene of
Toleiha’s revolt among the Beni Asad.

[Sidenote: _Toleiha_, the false prophet.]

Of the doctrines of Toleiha, as of the other pretenders to the
prophetic office, we know little, nor indeed anything at all to show
wherein the secret of influence lay. A few doggrel verses and dark or
childish sayings are all that the contemptuous voice of tradition has
transmitted of their teaching, if such it can be called. So far as
appears, it was a mere travesty of Islam. Toleiha forbad prostration
during worship. ‘The Lord,’ he said, ‘hath not commanded that ye
should soil your foreheads in the dust, neither that ye should double
up your backs in prayer.’ Similarly Moseilama and Sajâh remitted two
of the five daily times of prayer. That four pretenders (for Sajâh
the prophetess was also such) should have arisen in different parts
of Arabia, and, even before the death of Mahomet, drawn multitudes
after them, would seem to imply something in their doctrine deeper
than senseless rhymes and more specious than petty variations of the
Moslem rite.[29] So much is clear, that the spiritual sense of Arabia
had been quickened by the preaching of Mahomet, and that his example
had not only suggested the claims of others, but also contributed to
their success. Jealousy of Mecca and Medîna, moreover, and impatience
of the trammels of Islam, were powerful incentives for Bedouins to
cast in their lot with these pretenders. Thus the Beni Ghatafân, who
before their submission to Mahomet were in league with the Tay and
Asad tribes, had recently fallen out with them and lost some of their
pasture-lands. Oyeina,[30] chief of the Ghatafân, now counselled a
return to their old relations with the Beni Asad. ‘Let us go back,’ he
said, ‘to our ancient alliance which we had before Islam with them,
for never since we gave it up have I known the boundaries of our
pasture-lands. A prophet of our own is better than a prophet of the
Coreish. Besides, Mahomet is dead, but Toleiha is alive.’ So saying,
Oyeina, followed by 700 warriors of his tribe, joined the false prophet
at Bozâkha.

[Sidenote: Khâlid reclaims the Beni Tay.]

When first he heard of the heresy, Mahomet had deputed Dhirâr to the
Beni Asad, with instructions to rally the faithful amongst them, and
with their aid to crush Toleiha. The two encountered one another, and
the sword of Dhirâr, we are told, glanced off from the person of his
adversary. On this, a rumour spread abroad that Toleiha led a charmed
life, and thenceforward his cause prospered. After their defeat at
Abrac, the insurgents, as we have seen, flocked to Toleiha at Bozâkha,
and he was further strengthened by the adhesion of two influential
branches of the Beni Tay.[31] Dhirâr found his position at last so
insecure that he fled to Medîna. The great family of the Beni Tay,
however, was not wholly disloyal, for Adî (as above mentioned) had
already presented the legal dues to Abu Bekr on behalf of some part
of it. Adî therefore was now sent forward by Khâlid to his people, in
the hope of detaching them from Toleiha’s cause. He found them in no
friendly humour. ‘The Father of the Foal!’ they cried (for such was
the sobriquet contemptuously used for Abu Bekr[32]); ‘thou shalt not
persuade us to do homage to him.’ ‘Think better of it,’ replied Adi;
‘an army approacheth which ye cannot withstand. Ye shall know full
soon that he is no foal, but a lusty stallion. Wherefore see ye to
it.’ Alarmed at his words, they begged for time that they might recall
the two branches which had joined Toleiha, ‘For,’ said they, ‘he will
surely hold them hostages, or else put them to death.’ So Khâlid halted
three days, and in the end they not only tendered submission, but
joined him with 1,000 horse, ‘the flower of the land of Tay, and the
bravest of them.’

[Sidenote: Battle of Bozâkha.]

Thus reinforced, Khâlid advanced against Toleiha. On the march his army
was exasperated by finding the bodies of two of their scouts--one a
warrior of note named Okkâsha--who had been slain, and left by Toleiha
to be trampled on the road.[33] The armies met at Bozâkha, and the
combat is said to have been hot and long. At last (so we are told) the
tide of battle was turned by certain utterances of Toleiha, who was on
the field in his prophetic garb of hair. Oyeina fought bravely with his
700 of the Beni Fezâra.[34] The situation becoming critical, he turned
to Toleiha, saying, ‘Hath any message come to thee from Gabriel?’
‘_Not yet_,’ answered the prophet. A second time he asked, and
received the same reply. ‘Yes,’ said Toleiha, a little after, ‘a
message now hath come.’ ‘And what is it?’ inquired Oyeina eagerly.
‘Thus saith Gabriel to me, _Thou shalt have a millstone like unto
his, and an affair shalt happen that thou wilt not forget_.’ ‘Away
with thee!’ cried Oyeina scornfully; ‘no doubt the Lord knoweth that
an affair will happen that thou shall not forget! Ho, ye Beni Fezâra,
every man to his tent!’ So they turned to go; and thereupon the army
fled. Toleiha escaped with his wife to Syria. His subsequent history
proved him a brave warrior; but he had a poor cause, and the combat
could hardly have been very severe, as no mention is made of loss on
either side.

[Sidenote: Toleiha’s sequel.]

His sequel is curious. At the first, Toleiha took refuge with the Beni
Kelb on the Syrian frontier; then when the Beni Asad were pardoned, he
returned to them and again embraced Islam. Passing Medîna soon after
on pilgrimage, he was seized and carried to Abu Bekr, who set him at
liberty, saying, ‘Let him alone. What have I to do with him? The Lord
hath now verily guided him into the right path.’ When Omar succeeded to
the Caliphate, he presented himself to take the oath of allegiance. At
first Omar spoke roughly to him: ‘Thou art he that killed Okkâsha and
his comrade. I love thee not.’ ‘Was it not better,’ answered Toleiha,
‘that they by my hand should obtain the crown of martyrdom, rather than
that I by theirs should have perished in hell-fire?’ When he had sworn
allegiance, the Caliph asked him concerning his oracular gift,[35] and
whether anything yet remained of it. ‘Ah,’ he replied, ‘it was but a
puff or two, as from a pair of bellows.’ So he returned to his tribe,
and went forth with them to the wars in Irâc, where, in the great
struggle with Persia, he became a hero of renown.

[Sidenote: Beni Asad and other tribes received back into Islam.]

After the battle of Bozâkha, the Beni Asad, fearing lest their families
should fall into the conqueror’s hand, tendered their submission. The
Beni Aámir, Suleim, and Hawâzin, tribes which had stood aloof watching
the event, now came in, and received from Khâlid the same terms as
the Beni Asad. They resumed the profession of Islam with all its
obligations, and in proof thereof brought in the tithe. A full amnesty
was then accorded, on condition only that those who during the apostasy
had taken the life of any Moslem should be delivered up. These were now
(to carry out the Caliph’s vow) put to the like death as that which
they had inflicted. If they had speared their victims, cast them over
precipices, drowned them in wells, or burned them in the fire, the
persecutors were now subjected to the same barbarous and cruel fate.

[Sidenote: A body of malcontents under Omm Siml discomfited.]

Khâlid stayed at Bozâkha for a month, receiving the submission of the
people in the vicinity and their tithes. Troops of horse scoured the
country, and struck terror into the vacillating tribes around. In only
one direction was serious opposition met. Certain malcontents from
amongst the penitent and returning people, unable to brook submission,
gathered themselves together in a defiant attitude. They had yet to
learn that the grip of Islam was stern and crushing. Their restless
and marauding spirit preferred, perhaps, even as a forlorn hope, to
hold their enemy at bay; or they had sinned beyond the hope of grace.
Thus they assembled in a great multitude around Omm Siml, daughter of
a famous chieftain of the Ghatafân. This lady’s mother, Omm Kirfa,
had been captured and put to a cruel death by Mahomet. She herself
had waited upon Ayesha as a captive maid in the Prophet’s household;
but the haughty spirit of her race survived the servitude. Mounted on
her mother’s war-camel, she led the force herself, and incited the
insurgents to a bold resistance. Khâlid proclaimed the reward of one
hundred camels to him who should maim her camel. It was soon disabled;
and, Omm Siml slain, the rout was easy.[36]

[Sidenote: Oyeina, Corra, and Alcama released by Abu Bekr.]

In this campaign the only persons taken captive were those who had
deeply compromised themselves as leaders in rebellion. They were sent
by Khâlid to Abu Bekr. The chief were Oyeina, Corra, and Alcama. The
story of this last, a chief of the Beni Aámir, is curious. After the
surrender of Tâyif he had fled to Syria. On the death of Mahomet he
returned, and incited his people to rebellion. An expedition sent in
pursuit of him had seized his family, and carried them off captive to
Medîna. He fled; but as all the country-side had now submitted, there
was no longer any way of escape, and he was seized and delivered up to
Khâlid. Corra, of the same tribe, was one of those whom Amru, on his
journey from Oman, had found vacillating, and of whom he brought an
evil report to Abu Bekr. Oyeina, the marauding chieftain of the Fezâra,
had often been the terror of Medîna. When the city was besieged by the
Coreish, he offered his assistance on certain humiliating terms, which
the Prophet was near accepting; and he was one of the many influential
leaders ‘whose hearts,’ after the battle of Honein and siege of Tâyif,
‘had been reconciled’ by the Prophet’s largesses. He was now led into
Medîna with the rest in chains, his hands tied up behind his back.
The citizens crowded round to gaze at the fallen chief, and the very
children smote him with their hands, crying out, ‘Enemy of the Lord,
and apostate!’ ‘Not so,’ said Oyeina bravely; ‘I am no apostate; I
never was a believer until now.’[37] The Caliph listened patiently
to the appeal of the captives. He forgave them, and commanded their
immediate release.

[Sidenote: Fujâa, a freebooter, burned alive.]

Abu Bekr, as a rule, was mild in his judgments, and even generous to
the fallen foe. But on one occasion the treachery of a rebel chief
irritated him to an act of barbarous cruelty. Fujâa, a leader of some
note amongst the Beni Suleim, under pretence of fighting against the
insurgents in his neighbourhood, obtained from the Caliph arms and
accoutrements for his band. Thus equipped, he abused the trust, and,
becoming a freebooter, attacked and plundered Moslem and Apostate
indiscriminately. Abu Bekr thereupon wrote letters to a loyal chief
in that quarter to raise a force and go against the brigand. Hard
pressed, Fujâa challenged his adversary to a parley, and asserted that
he held a commission from the Caliph not inferior to his. ‘If thou
speakest true,’ answered the other, ‘then lay aside thy weapons and
accompany me to Abu Bekr.’ He did so, and followed, without further
resistance, to Medîna. No sooner did he appear than the Caliph, enraged
at his treachery, cried aloud: ‘Go forth with this traitor to the
burial-ground, and there burn him with fire.’ So, hard by in Backî,
the graveyard of the city, they gathered wood, and heaping it together
at the _Mosalla_, or place of prayer, kindled the pile, and cast
Fujâa on it.

[Sidenote: Abu Bekr regrets the act.]

If the charges were well founded, which we have no ground for doubting,
Fujâa deserved the fate of a bandit; but to cast him alive into the
flames was a savage act, for which Abu Bekr was sorry afterwards. ‘It
is one of the three things,’ he used to say, ‘which I would I had not

                              CHAPTER VI.

                      STORY OF MALIK IBN NOWEIRA.

                          A.H. XI. A.D. 632.

[Sidenote: Khâlid advances south. A.H. XI. November (?) A.D. 632.]

Having subdued the Beni Asad, and other tribes inhabiting the hills
and desert to the north-west of Medîna, Khâlid now bent his steps
southward, against the Beni Temîm who occupied the plateau towards the
Persian Gulf.

[Sidenote: The Beni Temîm.]

This great tribe had from time immemorial spread itself with
multitudinous branches over the pasture-lands and settlements lying
between Yemâma and the delta of the Euphrates. Some of its clans
professed Christianity, but the greater portion were heathen. They used
in past times to have frequent passages, often of a hostile character,
with Persia.[39] Most part of this people had submitted to the claims
of Mahomet, and the oratorical contest between their embassy and the
poets of Medîna forms a curious episode in the Prophet’s life.[40] His
death had produced amongst them the same unsettlement and apostasy as
elsewhere. Abu Bekr’s first early success resulted, as we have seen, in
bringing some of their chiefs to Medîna with the tithes. Meanwhile a
strange complication had arisen which embroiled the Beni Yerbóa, one of
their clans, commanded by the famous Mâlik ibn Noweira, and eventually
brought Khâlid on the scene.

It was no less than the advent of Sajâh, a prophetess, at the head
of a great host from Mesopotamia. She was descended from the Beni
Yerbóa, but her family had migrated north, and joined the Beni Taghlib,
among whom in Mesopotamia she had been brought up as a Christian.
[Sidenote: Sajâh the prophetess gains over Mâlik ibn Noweira, chief of
Beni Yerbóa.] How long and by what steps she had assumed the prophetic
office, and what (if any) were her peculiar tenets, we do not know;
for nothing of hers excepting some childish verses has been preserved.
At the head of the Taghlib and other Christian tribes,[41] each led by
its own captain, she had crossed into Arabia, hoping to profit by the
confusion that followed on the death of Mahomet, and was now on her way
to attack Medîna. Reaching the seats of the Beni Temîm, she summoned
to her presence the Beni Yerbóa, her own clan, and promised them the
kingdom, should victory crown her arms. They joined her standard, with
Mâlik ibn Noweira at their head. The other clans of the Beni Temîm
refused to acknowledge the prophetess; and so, diverted from her design
upon Medîna, she turned her arms against them. In a series of combats,
though supported by Mâlik, she was worsted. Then, having made terms and
exchanged prisoners, she bethought her of attacking the rival prophet,
Moseilama of Yemâma, whose story I must here in some part anticipate.

[Sidenote: Sajâh, having married Moseilama, retires to Mesopotamia.]

Moseilama was strongly supported by his own people, the Beni Hanîfa,
in his claim to be their prophet and ruler; but he now felt that the
meshes of Abu Bekr were closing round him. The Caliph’s officers were
rallying the yet loyal or vacillating chiefs in Hejer; and Khâlid, whom
Moseilama dreaded most of all, was behind. Tidings of the approach of a
new enemy at this crisis added to his perplexity; and he therefore sent
a friendly message to the prophetess to come and meet him. She came,
and they found their sentiments so much in unison that they cemented
the alliance by marriage. Moseilama conceded to her one half-share of
the revenues of Yemâma--the share, he said, which belonged to the
Coreish, but which, by their tyranny and violence, they had forfeited.
After a few days she departed again to her own country, leaving a party
with three of her officers to collect the stipulated tribute. Like a
meteor, this strange personage disappeared as soon almost as she had
startled Arabia by her advent; and we hear no more of her.[42]

[Sidenote: Mâlik ibn Noweira and the Beni Yerbóa attacked by Khâlid.]

Khâlid, flushed with victory, was now drawing near, and most of the
branches of the Temîm were forward in tendering their submission to
him. At this critical juncture, the withdrawal of Sajâh, and his own
previous doubtful attitude, left Mâlik ibn Noweira at the head of the
Beni Yerbóa in a position of some perplexity, and he was undecided how
to act.[43] On the other hand, conflicting news divided the Moslem
camp. For some reason Khâlid was bent on attacking the Beni Yerbóa. The
men of Medîna[44] were equally opposed to the design, for which they
alleged that Khâlid had from the Caliph no authority. It would have
been better for him had he listened to the remonstrance. But he replied
haughtily, ‘I am commander. In the absence of orders, it is for me to
decide. I will march against Mâlik ibn Noweira with the men of Mecca,
and with such others as choose to follow me. I compel no man.’ So he
went forward and left the malcontents behind. These, however, thought
better of it, and rejoined the army. Khâlid marched straight upon
Bitâh, the head-quarters of Mâlik, but he found not a soul upon the
spot. It was utterly deserted.

[Sidenote: Mâlik brought a prisoner into Khâlid’s camp;]

In fact, Mâlik had resolved on submission, though his proud spirit
rebelled against presenting himself before Khâlid. He knew the
ordinance of Abu Bekr, that none but they who resisted his arms, and
refused the call to prayer, should be molested. So he told his people
that there was no longer use in opposing this new way, but that, bowing
down, they should suffer the wave to pass over them: ‘Break up your
camp,’ he said, ‘and depart every one to his house.’ Khâlid finding
things thus, was not content, but, treating the neighbourhood as
enemy’s land, sent forth bands everywhere to slay and plunder, and take
captive all that offered opposition or failed to respond to the call
for prayer. Amongst others, Mâlik was brought in with his wife and a
party of his people. When challenged, they had replied that they too
were Moslems. ‘Why, then, these weapons?’ it was asked. So they laid
aside their arms and were led as captives to the camp. As they passed
by Khâlid, Mâlik cried aloud to him, ‘Thy master never gave command for
this.’ ‘“_Thy_ master,” sayest thou?’ was the scornful reply of
Khâlid; ‘then, rebel, by thine own admission, he is not thine!’

[Sidenote: and, with other prisoners put to death.]

The captors differed in their evidence. Some averred that the prisoners
had offered resistance. Others, with Abu Catâda, a citizen of Medîna,
at their head, deposed that they had declared themselves Moslems, and
at once complied with the call to prayer. So they were remanded till
morning under an armed guard. The night set in cold and stormy, and
Khâlid (such is his explanation), with the view of protecting them
from its inclemency, gave the guard command ‘to _wrap_ their
prisoners.’ The word was ambiguous, signifying in another dialect[45]
not ‘to wrap,’ but ‘to _slay_,’ and Dbirâr, commandant of the
guard, taking it in that sense, put the prisoners, and with them Mâlik,
forthwith to the sword. Khâlid, hearing the uproar, hurried forth;
but all was over, and he retired, exclaiming, ‘When the Lord hath
determined a thing, the same cometh verily to pass.’ But the fate of
Mâlik was not thus easily to be set at rest. He was a chief of name
and influence, and a poet of some celebrity. The men of Medina who
had opposed the advance were shocked at his cruel fate. Abu Catâda
roundly asserted the responsibility of Khâlid. ‘This is thy work!’
he said; and, though chided for it, he persisted in the charge. He
declared that never again would he serve under Khâlid’s banner. In
company with Motammim, Mâlik’s brother, he set out at once for Medina,
and there laid a formal complaint before the Caliph. Omar, with his
native impetuosity, took up the cause of the Yerbóa chief. Khâlid had
given point to the allegations of his enemies by marrying Leila, the
beautiful widow of his victim, on the spot. From this scandalous act,
Omar drew the worst conclusion. ‘He hath conspired to slay a believer,’
he said, ‘and hath gone in unto his wife.’ He was instant with Abu
Bekr that the offender should be degraded and put in bonds, saying,
‘The sword of Khâlid, dipped thus in violence and outrage, must be
sheathed.’ ‘Not so,’ replied the Caliph (of whom it is said that he
never degraded one of his commanders); ‘the sword which the Lord hath
made bare against the heathen, shall I sheathe the same? That be far
from me.’ Nevertheless, he summoned Khâlid to answer for the charge.

[Sidenote: Khâlid exonerated by Abu Bekr;]

Khâlid lost no time in repairing to Medina. He went up straightway
to the Great Mosque, and entered it in his rough field costume, his
clothes rubbed rusty with his girded armour, and his turban coiled
rudely about the head with arrows stuck in it. As he passed along the
courtyard towards the Caliph’s place, Omar could not restrain himself,
but seizing the arrows from his turban, broke them over his shoulders,
and abused him as hypocrite, murderer, and adulterer. Khâlid, not
knowing but that Abu Bekr might be of the same mind, answered not a
word, but passed into the Caliph’s presence. There he told his story,
and the explanation was accepted by Abu Bekr;--only he chided him
roughly for having thus incontinently wedded his victim’s widow, and
run counter to the custom and feelings of the Arabs in celebrating his
nuptials on the field. As Khâlid again passed Omar, he lightly rallied
him in words which showed that he had been exonerated. Motammim then
pressed the claim, as one of honour, for payment of his brother’s
blood-money, and release of the prisoners that remained. For the
release Abu Bekr gave command, but the payment he declined.

[Sidenote: but held guilty by Omar.]

Omar remained unconvinced of the innocence of Khâlid, and still was of
opinion that he should be withdrawn from his command. He persevered
in pressing this view upon Abu Bekr, who would reply, ‘Omar, hold thy
peace! Refrain thy tongue from Khâlid. He gave an order, and the order
was misunderstood.’ But Omar heeded not. He neither forgave nor forgot,
as in the sequel we shall see.

[Sidenote: Mâlik’s death commemorated in verse by his brother.]

The scandal was the greater, because Mâlik ibn Noweira was a chief
renowned for his generosity and princely virtues, as well as for
poetic talent. His brother, Motammim, a poet likewise of no mean fame,
commemorated his tragic end in many touching verses. Omar loved to
listen to his elegies; and he used to tell Motammim that if he had
himself possessed the poetic gift, he would have had no higher ambition
than to mourn in such verse over the fate of his own brother Zeid, who
shortly after fell at Yemâma.[46]

[Sidenote: The affair leaves a stain on Khâlid’s fame.]

The materials are too meagre to judge conclusively whether the right in
this grave matter is on the side of Omar or of the Caliph, Abu Bekr.
Although the hostile bias of Khâlid against Mâlik led undoubtedly
to the raid upon his tribe and the harsh treatment which followed
thereupon, still, with the conflicting evidence, we may hold the deeper
charge unproven. But in wedding the widow of his enemy while his blood
(shed as we are to believe in misconception of his order) was fresh
upon the ground, Khâlid, if he gave no colour to darker suspicions,
yet transgressed the proprieties even of Arab life, and justified the
indictment of unbridled passion and cold-blooded self-indulgence.[47]

                             CHAPTER VII.

                           BATTLE OF YEMAMA.

                 END OF A.H. XI. BEGINNING OF 633 A.D.

[Sidenote: Campaign of Khâlid against Moseilama. January, A.D.

But sterner work was in reserve for Khâlid. In the centre of Arabia,
and right in front of his army, some marches east, lay Yemâma. There
resided the Beni Hanîfa, a powerful branch of the great tribe Bekr
ibn Wâil. Partly Christian and partly heathen, the Beni Hanîfa had
submitted to Mahomet; but they were now in rebellion, 40,000 strong,
around their prophet Moseilama. It was against these that Khâlid next
directed his steps.

[Sidenote: Moseilama’s previous story.]

The beginning of Moseilama’s story belongs to the life of Mahomet.[49]
Small in stature, and of a mean countenance, he had yet qualities which
fitted him for command. He visited Medîna with a deputation from his
people, and it was pretended that words had then fallen from Mahomet
signifying that he would yet be a sharer with him in the prophetic
office. Building thereon, Moseilama advanced his claim, and was
accepted by his people as their prophet. When summoned by Mahomet to
abandon his impious pretensions, he sent an insolent answer claiming to
divide the land. Mahomet replied in anger, and drove the ambassadors
from his presence. To counteract his teaching, he deputed Rajjâl, a
convert from the same tribe, who had visited Medîna, and there been
instructed in the Corân.[50] On returning to his people, however, this
man also was gained over by the pretender to espouse his claims as
founded on the alleged admission of Mahomet himself. Moseilama, we are
told, deceived the people by tricks and miracles; aped, in childish
terms, the language of the Corân; and established a system of prayers
similar to those of Mahomet. In short, his religion, so far as we can
tell, was but a wretched imitation of Islam.[51] At the period we have
now reached, he had just rid himself of Sajâh, the rival prophetess, by
the singular expedient of taking her to wife, and then bribing her by
half the revenues of Yemâma to return from whence she came. Parties of
Mesopotamian horse were still about the country collecting her dues,
when Khâlid’s approach changed the scene; and Moseilama, marching out
with a great army to meet him, pitched his camp at Acraba.

[Sidenote: Ikrima suffers a reverse.]

Ikrima and Shorahbîl were the commanders originally despatched by Abu
Bekr to quell the rising at Yemâma,[52] and both suffered at the hands
of Moseilama from a hasty and unguarded advance. Ikrima, anxious to
anticipate his fellow, hurried forward, and was driven back with loss.
The details (as generally the case when tradition deals with a defeat)
are wanting; but the reverse was so serious that Abu Bekr, in reply to
the despatch reporting it, wrote angrily to Ikrima. ‘I will not see thy
face,’ he said, ‘nor shalt thou see mine, as now thou art. Thou shalt
not return hither to dishearten the people. Depart unto the uttermost
coasts, and there join the armies in the east of the land, and then
in the south.’ So, skirting Yemâma, he went forward to Omân, there to
retrieve his tarnished reputation. Shorahbîl, meanwhile, was directed
to halt and await the approach of Khâlid.[53]

[Sidenote: Khâlid sets out for Yemâma.]

It was after the reverse of Ikrima that Khâlid, on being summoned to
Medîna on the affair of Mâlik ibn Noweira, received the commission to
attack Moseilama. In anticipation of serious opposition, the Caliph
promised to strengthen his army by a fresh column composed of veterans
from amongst the men of Mecca and Medîna. So Khâlid returned to his
camp at Bitâh, and when these reinforcements came up, he marched in
strength to meet the enemy. It was now that Shorahbîl, whose troop
formed the vanguard, hastening forward like Ikrima, met with a like
reverse, and was severely handled by Khâlid for his temerity.

[Sidenote: Mojâa, a chief of the Beni Hanîfa, taken prisoner.]

While yet a march from Acraba, Khâlid surprised a mounted body of the
Beni Hanîfa under command of the chief Mojâa. They were returning from
a raid against a neighbouring tribe, unaware of the approach of the
Mussulman army. But they belonged to the enemy, and as such were all
put to the sword, excepting Mojâa, whom Khâlid spared, as he said he
promised to be useful on the coming eventful day, and kept chained in
his tent under charge of Leila, his lately espoused wife.

[Sidenote: Battle of Acraba or Yemâma.]

On the morrow, the two armies met upon the sandy plain of Acraba. The
enemy rushed on with desperate bravery. ‘Fight for your loved ones!’
cried the son of Moseilama; ‘it is the day of jealousy and vengeance;
if ye be worsted, your maidens will be ravished by the conqueror, and
your wives dragged to his foul embrace!’ So fierce was the shock that
the Moslems were driven back, and their camp uncovered. The tent of
Khâlid was entered by the wild Bedouins; and, but for the chivalry of
her captive, who conjured his countrymen to spare a lady of such noble
birth, Leila would have perished by their swords. ‘Go, fight against
men,’ Mojâa cried, ‘and leave this woman;’ so they cut the tent-ropes
and departed. There was danger for Islam at the moment. Defeat would
have been disastrous; indeed, the Faith could hardly have survived it.
But now the spirit of the Moslems was aroused. Khâlid, knowing the
rivalry between the Bedouin and the city Arabs, separated them to fight
apart. On this they rallied one the other; and the sons of the desert
cried: ‘Now we shall see the carnage wax hot amongst the raw levies
of the town. We will teach them how to fight!’ Prodigies of valour
were fought all round. The heroic words and deeds of the leaders, as
one after another fell in the thick of battle, are dwelt on by the
historian with enthusiasm. Zeid, the favourite brother of Omar, who led
the men of Mecca, singled out Rajjâl, and, reproaching his apostasy,
despatched him forthwith. A furious south wind, charged with the desert
sand, blew into the faces of the Moslems, and, blinding them, caused a
momentary pause. Upbraiding them for their slackness, Zeid cried out:
‘I shall follow them that have gone before; not a word will I utter
more, till we beat the apostates back, or I appear to clear myself
before my Lord. Close your eyes and clench your teeth. Forward like
men!’ So saying, he led the charge and fell. Abu Hodzeifa, another
Companion of note, calling out ‘Fight for the Corân, ye Moslems, and
adorn it by your deeds!’ followed his example and shared his fate.
Seeing this, Abu Hodzeifa’s freedman, Sâlim, seized the banner from
his dying master, and exclaiming, ‘I were a craven bearer of the Corân
if I feared for my life,’ plunged into the battle and was slain.[54]
Nor were the citizens of Medîna behind their fellows. Their commander,
Thâbit ibn Cays, reproached them indignantly: ‘Woe be to you,’ he
said, ‘because of this backsliding. Verily, I am clear of ye, even as
I am clear of these,’ and he pointed to the enemy as he flung himself
and perished in their midst. Animated thus, the rank and file charged
furiously. Backwards and forwards swayed the line, and heavy was the
carnage. But urged by Khâlid’s valiant arm,[55] and raising the grand
battle-cry ‘_Yâ Mohammedâ!_’ the Moslem arms at length prevailed.
The enemy broke and began to give. ‘To the garden!’ cried Mohakkem, a
brave leader of the Beni Hanîfa; ‘to the garden, and close the gate!’
Taking his stand, he guarded their retreat as they fled into an orchard
surrounded by a strong wall, and Moseilama with them. The Moslem
troops, following close, soon swarmed all round the wall, but found
no entrance anywhere. [Sidenote: The Garden of Death.]At last Berâa,
one of the Twelve,[56] cried, ‘Lift me aloft upon the wall.’ So they
lifted him up. For a moment, as he looked on the surging mass below,
the hero hesitated; then, boldly leaping down, he beat right and left,
until he reached the gate, and threw it open. Like waters pent up, his
comrades rushed in; and, as beasts of the forest snared in a trap, so
wildly struggled the brave Beni Hanîfa in _the Garden of Death_.
Hemmed in by the narrow space, and hampered by the trees, their arms
useless from their very numbers, they were hewn down, and perished
to a man. The carnage was fearful, for besides the slain within the
walls, an equal number were killed on the field, and again an equal
number in the flight.[57] [Sidenote: The Beni Hanîfa discomfited,
with great slaughter on both sides.]The Moslems, too, despite their
splendid victory, had cause to remember the Garden Death and the
battle of Yemâma, for their loss was beyond all previous experience.
Besides those killed hand to hand in the garden, great numbers fell in
the battle when their ranks wavered and gave way. The Refugees from
Mecca lost 360 men, and the Citizens of Medîna 300, or nearly 700 in
all; while the slaughter amongst the Bedouins, though somewhat less,
raised the gross number over 1,200, besides the wounded. And amongst
them were nine and thirty chief ‘Companions,’ or men of note, amongst
the Prophet’s followers. At Medîna there was hardly a house, whether
of Refugees or native Citizens, in which the voice of wailing was not

[Sidenote: Moseilama among the slain.]

Moseilama was slain by Wahshi, the same negro warrior who, swinging a
javelin, after his savage style of warfare, round his head, had on
the field of Ohod brought the sainted Hamza to the ground. After the
battle Khâlid carried the chief Mojâa, still in chains, over the field
to identify the dead. As they passed along the field of battle, turning
the bodies over one after another, they came upon a stalwart figure.
‘Look, was this your master?’ said Khâlid. ‘Nay,’ replied Mojâa,
‘this was a nobler and a better man.’ It was the corpse of the brave
Mohakkem, who fell covering the retreat, slain by the hand of Abdul
Rahman, the Caliph’s son. Then they entered the Garden of Death. Among
the heaps of the mangled dead, they stumbled on a body of insignificant
mien. ‘This is your man,’ said Mojâa, as he turned it on its side;
‘truly ye have done for him!’ ‘Yea,’ replied Khâlid, ‘or rather it is
he which hath done for you, that which he hath done.’

[Sidenote: Truce with the Beni Hanîfa.]

The Mussulman horse now scoured the country, and every day brought in
bands of prisoners. Aware that after their crushing defeat his people
were incapable of resistance, Mojâa bethought him of a stratagem.
He represented them as holding their forts and fastnesses in force
throughout the country, and so persuaded Khâlid to offer them their
lives if they at once capitulated. Meanwhile, by his secret suggestion,
the battlements were lined by every available person, even by the old
men and women in armed disguise; and Khâlid’s messengers returned with
the answer that they would fight to the last. The army was wearied
with the hard struggle, and most of them anxious, after the long
campaign, to return to their homes; and so Khâlid concluded a truce,
on terms more favourable than they would have obtained but for Mojâa’s
artifice. When it came to light, Khâlid reproached him for it; but in
the end excused him on the pleaded ground of patriotism, and stood by
the treaty. No sooner was it concluded, than he received a despatch
of unwonted severity from Abu Bekr, who, to strike terror into other
apostate tribes, commanded that not a single adult male of the ungodly
and rebellious race should be spared. Fortunately the truce forbade
the bloody edict. The Beni Hanîfa, like other prostrate tribes, were
received back into the bosom of Islam, and a portion only of their
number were retained in captivity.[59]

[Sidenote: Deputation of Beni Hanîfa to the Caliph.]

When the campaign was ended, Khâlid sent a deputation of the chief
survivors to Abu Bekr, who received them courteously. ‘Out upon you!’
said he; ‘how is it that this impostor led you all astray?’ ‘O Caliph!’
they answered, ‘thou hast heard it all; he was one whom the Lord
blessed not, nor yet his people;’ and they repeated to him some of the
things he used to say. ‘Good heavens!’ exclaimed Abu Bekr, ‘Beshrew
you! What kind of words are these? There is neither sense in them for
good nor yet for evil, to have beguiled you thus, but a kind of strange
fatuity.’ So he dismissed them to their homes.[60]

[Sidenote: Many ‘Companions’ among the slain. Zeid, brother of Omar.]

Among the killed we meet not a few names familiar to us in the annals
of the Prophet’s life. The carnage amongst the _Readers_--those
who had the Corân by heart--was so great, as to suggest to Omar the
first design of collecting the sacred text, ‘lest any part should be
lost therefrom.’ At the death of his favourite brother Zeid, who had
shared with him the dangers of the first battles of Islam, Omar was
inconsolable. ‘Thou art returned home,’ he said to his son Abdallah,
‘safe and sound; and Zeid is dead. Wherefore wast not thou slain before
him? I wish not to see thy face.’ ‘Father!’ answered Abdallah, ‘he
asked for martyrdom, and the Lord granted it. I strove after the same,
but it was not given unto me.’ Such was the spirit of these Moslem

[Sidenote: Khâlid marries Mojâa’s daughter.]

Khâlid again signalised his victory by wedding a captive maid upon
the field.[61] ‘Give me thy daughter to wife,’ he said to Mojâa, the
prisoner who had so faithfully defended his bride in the hour of peril.
‘Wait,’ replied Mojâa; ‘be not so hasty. Thou wilt endamage thyself in
the eyes of thy Chief, and me likewise.’ ‘Man, give me thy daughter!’
he repeated imperiously; so Mojâa gave her to him. When Abu Bekr heard
of it, he wrote him a letter sprinkled with blood. ‘By my life! thou
son of Khâlid’s father, thou art a pretty fellow, living thus at thine
ease. Thou weddest a damsel, whilst the ground beneath the nuptial
couch is yet wet with the blood of twelve hundred!’ The reproof fell
lightly upon Khâlid. ‘This is the work,’ he said, as he read the
epistle, ‘of that left-handed fellow,’ meaning Omar. The sentiment,
however, was Abu Bekr’s own; but the ‘Sword of the Lord’ could not be

We shall meet Khâlid next in Chaldæa, by the banks of the river

                             CHAPTER VIII.


                         A.H. XI. A.D. 632–3.

[Sidenote: Campaigns in the east and south of Arabia. A.H. XI.]

Having traced Khâlid’s victorious career from the north to the centre
of Arabia, we shall now follow the Mussulman arms in their progress
from Bahrein and Omân on the Persian Gulf, along the southern coast to
Hadhramaut and Yemen, but more briefly than before, both because the
authorities themselves are brief, and also because the interest of the
story, apart from a few instructive incidents, centres mainly in the
general result, that is, the reclamation of apostate Arabia.

[Sidenote: Bahrein invaded by Alâ. A.H. XI. A.D. 633.]

Beyond Yemâma, skirting the western shore of the Persian Gulf from
Catîf to Omân, lies the long tract, desert and littoral, called Hejer
and Bahrein. It was chiefly occupied by the Beni Bekr, and other
branches of the great Beni Rabia family. Mondzir, the Christian chief
of Bahrein, had adopted Islam, and, in acknowledgment of the Prophet’s
suzerainty, entertained a Resident from Medîna at his court.[62] He
died shortly after Mahomet, and then the whole province rebelled. One
tribe alone was kept loyal by Jarûd, a disciple taught at the feet of
the Prophet, who now preached that, though Mahomet had gone the way of
all the prophets, Islam would not the less survive. Alâ, the Resident,
who had fled upon the outbreak, was reappointed by the Caliph, and
despatched with a force to reclaim the rebellious province.[63]
This was after the brilliant campaign of Khâlid, and the country was
sufficiently near the scene of his operations to feel its influence.
As he passed along the outskirts of Yemâma, the Beni Hanîfa, Temîm,
and other tribes, anxious to prove their loyalty, sent contingents to
join the column.[64] Thus reinforced to double his original numbers,
Alâ attempted to cross the waterless zone of Dahna, lying between him
and the Gulf. The army lost its way, and was overtaken by darkness in
the very midst of the wilderness; the water was all spent, no springs
were known of, and they resigned themselves to despair. With the sun
would arise a scorching heat, and they would all perish of thirst.
[Sidenote: The miraculous lake.]But, in answer to their earnest cries
and supplications, as morning broke, water suddenly appeared shining on
the horizon. They hastened forward, and found it to be a lake. Watering
their camels and horses therefrom, they drank themselves abundantly,
and went on their journey joyfully. The marvel is, in the believers’
eyes, the more extraordinary, as no spring had ever been seen in the
wilderness of Dahna before, nor after the most diligent search has the
miraculous lake ever been found again.[65]

[Sidenote: Bahrein reduced.]

The rebellion in _Bahrein_ had by this time assumed formidable
dimensions. Hotem, a powerful chief, had gathered around him not only
the backsliding tribes, but also the mixed races of Persian and Indian
parentage, who abounded on the shores of the Gulf;[66] and they had
fixed upon a scion of the house of Hîra as their king. The faithful
remnant under Jarûd, blockaded by the rebels, were nearly succumbing to
hunger, when, to their relief, Alâ appeared. For offensive operations,
however, against so great a host, the Moslem force was still too weak.
To guard their position, they dug a deep trench in front, and for a
whole month contented themselves with single combats and indecisive
skirmishing. At last, one night, finding the enemy disordered and
overcome with wine, they made an attack from all sides, put them to
flight, and killing Hotem, took the prince of Hîra prisoner.[67]

[Sidenote: Miraculous descent on the island of Dârîn.]

The discomfited force fled, and, taking ship, found refuge in Dârîn,
one of the numerous islets a little way off from the mainland, and the
seat of a Nestorian bishopric.[68] Thither they were pursued by Alâ,
and here again we are told of a miraculous interposition. No boats
or means of transport were anywhere at hand. Raising, therefore, a
wild invocation to the Lord of Hosts for help, the Moslems rushed into
the sea and crossed the strait as it had been a shallow sandy beach.
The enemy, taken by surprise on their island, were put utterly to the
sword, so that not one escaped to tell the tale. A pious bard has
likened the passage to that of the Israelites through the Red Sea, and
a monk is said to have been converted by the double miracle of waters
breaking out in the wilderness, and waters drying up in the channel of
the great deep. The spoil was prodigious,[69] and multitudes of women
and children were taken captive.

[Sidenote: Bahrein reclaimed by Alâ.]

While thus engaged, Alâ received material help from loyal followers
along the coast. They secured the wavering, protected the rear from
surprise, and overawed unruly tribes ever ready for plunder and rapine.
Thus the whole region of Hejer, reclaimed to the faith, fell peaceably
under the government of Alâ.[70] [Sidenote: Mothanna.]Amongst those who
aided in this work was Mothanna, a chief of great influence over the
Bekr clans, from one of which he sprang.[71] Following up the victory
of Alâ along the coast, this warrior in his progress northward reached
at last the delta of the Euphrates, where he inaugurated a movement
that was of lasting importance and which will shortly engage our

The campaign of _Omân_ followed close upon that of Bahrein.[72]
Jeyfar, Prince of Omân, had a year or two before tendered his
allegiance to Mahomet. [Sidenote: Omân reconquered by Hodzeifa.]Amru
was thereupon deputed to be the Prophet’s Representative at his court,
and the demand of tithes from this distant province was foregone,
on condition that they were distributed among the local poor.[73]
Notwithstanding this concession, Mahomet was no sooner dead than the
whole province revolted. The rebellion was led by one Lackît, who,
to swell his influence, claimed himself to be a prophet. Jeyfar fled
to the mountains and Amru to Medîna. The task of reclaiming Omân and
the adjoining province of Mâhra was committed by Abu Bekr to Hodzeifa
and Arfaja, two converts of influence in those parts.[74] They were
assisted by Ikrima, son of Abu Jahl, who (as we have seen) was bidden
by Abu Bekr to retrieve his reputation in this distant quarter.
Arrived in Omân, they effected a junction with Jeyfar, and were then
sufficiently strong to re-occupy Sohâr.[75] An engagement followed at
Dabâ. [Sidenote: Battle of Dabâ.]Here the Moslems, hard pressed, were
near to suffering defeat, when, at the critical moment, a great body of
Abd al Cays and other tribes recently reclaimed in Bahrein appeared on
the field and turned the battle in their favour. The slaughter amongst
the enemy was great, and their families, which they had placed in the
rear to nerve their courage, fell a welcome prize into the believers’
hands. The mart of Dabâ, enriched by Indian merchandise, yielded a
magnificent booty, and Arfaja was at once deputed to Medîna with the
royal Fifth of slaves and plunder.

[Sidenote: Ikrima reduces Mâhra.]

Hodzeifa was left behind as governor of Omân. Ikrima, having reached
the easternmost point of Arabia, turning now to the south-west,
pursued his victorious course to _Mâhra_. His army was swelled not
only by the Bahrein contingent but by fresh levies, attracted by his
success, from the tribes upon his march. Mâhra was distracted at this
moment by the quarrel of two rival chiefs. Espousing the cause of the
weakest, who at once avowed the faith, Ikrima attacked the other and
achieved a great victory. Among the spoil were 2,000 Bactrian camels
and a vast supply of arms and beasts of burden. This quarter of the
peninsula, including the islands along the coast, was soon completely
pacified. After some time spent here in the re-establishment of order,
Ikrima, with an army now of overwhelming strength, advanced, as he had
been instructed, to join Mohâjir in the campaign against Hadhramaut and
Yemen. But before proceeding further, we must take a brief retrospect
of things in the south and west of the peninsula.

[Sidenote: Order restored in the Hejâz, Tihâma, and south-west coast.]

The commotion in that quarter caused by the rebellion of Aswad, the
‘Veiled Prophet,’ had hardly subsided, when the death of Mahomet threw
the land into a worse confusion. Mecca and Tâyif, after the first
excitement, remained tolerably secure under their governors, the
youthful Attâb[76] and Othmân ibn al Aás. But in the _Tihâma_
(coast washed by the Red Sea), as well as in the interior, misrule
and violence were rife. A party of marauders from amongst the Beni
Khozâa and other lawless Bedouins round about the Holy City, ready
as ever for plunder and rapine, were dispersed with great slaughter
by the levies of Attâb. Order was maintained by a body of 500 men
quartered within the sacred limits, and by small pickets throughout
the districts of Mecca and Tâyif. But between them and Yemen there was
nothing save turmoil and alarm. Troops of bandit horse, remnants of
the false prophet’s army, hovered about the country to the south and
west of Najrân. They were headed by Amr ibn Mádekerib, a poet of note
and a chief of great local influence, before whom Khâlid ibn Saîd,
the governor of Najrân, fled for his life. On one occasion, however,
Khâlid, with but a small following, surprised Amr and spoiled him of
his horse and the sword _Samsât_, inherited from Himyar kings and
famous in Arab song.[77] The whole coast was in a ferment, and the
loyal adherents of Islam were fain to flee for shelter to fastnesses in
the mountains. Bands of the Beni Azd, occupying the uplands, approached
the sacred territory in threatening attitude, but were dispersed
by the governor of Tâyif. The whole Tihâma was overrun by swarming
bands of the Akk and Ashár tribes, who closed the roads and barred
communications with the south. Tâhir, who had been placed by Mahomet
over these tribes, was now commissioned with a force to rally the
faithful remnant on the spot, and to clear the country of the robbers
infesting it. This he did so effectually that the roads became again
impassable, but now simply from the offensive multitude of carcases
strewn upon them.[78]

In _Yemen_ peace was not so easily restored. The false prophet Aswad
(it will be recollected) was assassinated by three of his courtiers,
who, at the bidding of Mahomet, conspired with his wife against
him.[79] [Sidenote: Confusion in Yemen following the assassination of
Aswad.]These were the Arab chief Cays ibn Abd Yaghûth, commander of his
army, and the two ministers, of Persian descent, Feroze and Dâdweih,
who thereupon succeeded to the government at Sanâa.[80] When tidings
of these events reached Medîna just after Mahomet’s death, Abu Bekr
appointed Feroze to be his lieutenant, with Cays and Dâdweih to help
him. The Arab blood of Cays rebelled against serving under a foreigner,
and he plotted to expel the whole Persian race. The princes of Himyar,
however, Dzul Kelâa and others,[81] would not help him, and he was
obliged to call in the aid of the brigand Amr ibn Mádekerib and his
marauding bands. Dâdweih was treacherously slain by Amr at a feast,
but Feroze escaped, and after much hardship, secured his retreat with
a friendly tribe in the hills of Khaulân. For a time Cays carried all
before him. The family of Feroze was taken captive, and the Persian
settlers, pursued in every direction, fled to the mountains, or took
ship from Aden. Feroze appealed for help to the Caliph; but it was long
before he had any troops to send. So Feroze cast about for himself, and
at length, by the aid of some loyal tribes, put the troops of Cays to
flight, regained possession of his family and reoccupied Sanâa.[82]

[Sidenote: Mohâjir marches from Medîna upon Yemen. End of A.H.
XI. Spring, A.D. 633.]

But more effectual help to quell the disordered country was soon at
hand. On one side, Mohâjir was marching from the north. Appointed by
the Prophet his lieutenant in Hadhramaut, he had long been detained by
sickness at Medîna, and perhaps also by the inability of the Caliph to
furnish him with a following. He was the last of the commanders sent
forth by Abu Bekr to reclaim the backsliding tribes. Passing through
Tâyif and Najrân, as late, probably, as ten or twelve months after the
death of Mahomet,[83] he was joined on the way by various loyal tribes,
and thus approached the disturbed country at the head of a substantial
force. On the other side, Ikrima, with his great and ever-growing
army, was advancing from the east. Hastening to meet Mohâjir, he, for
the present, left Hadhramaut on his right, and passed rapidly on to
Aden. Alarmed at the gathering storm, Cays ibn Abd Yaghûth and Amr
ibn Mádekerib had joined their forces to oppose Mohâjir. But soon
quarrelling, they parted, and, according to the wont of Arab poets,
abused each other in insulting verse.[84] Amr, perceiving opposition to
be now in vain, sought, by a strange expedient, to gain his safety.
He made a night attack upon Cays, and carried him prisoner to Mohâjir;
but he had forgotten a safe-conduct for himself. Mohâjir, therefore,
seized them both, and sent them in chains to Medîna. The Caliph was at
first minded to put Amr to death because of the murder of Dâdweih; but
he denied the crime, and there was no evidence to prove it. ‘Art thou
not ashamed,’ said Abu Bekr to him, ‘that following the rebel cause,
thou art ever either a fugitive or in bonds? Hadst thou been a defender
of the Faith instead, then had the Lord raised thee above thy fellows.’
‘So assuredly it is,’ replied the humbled chief; ‘I will embrace the
faith, and never again will I desert it.’ So the Caliph forgave them
both; and his clemency was not abused, for we find these gallant but
unscrupulous chiefs soon after fighting loyally in the Persian war.

[Sidenote: Peace restored in Yemen.]

After this, Yemen was speedily reduced to order. The rebel horse,
remnant of the false prophet’s army, was pursued without quarter, and
soon exterminated. And Mohâjir, established firmly at Sanâa, ruled in
security over the whole of that country, from Najrân to Aden.

[Sidenote: Rebellion in Hadhramaut under Ashâth ibn Cays.]

Mohâjir and Ikrima were now at leisure to turn their arms against
_Hadhramaut_, the great province which occupies the south of
Arabia, east of Yemen. There Ziâd, who held Mohâjir’s government during
his protracted absence, was hard pressed. He had, at an early period,
aroused the hatred of the Beni Kinda by harshness in collecting the
tithe; but, supported by the Sakûn, and other tribes hostile to the
Beni Kinda, he had obtained several important advantages over them.[85]
On one occasion he carried off, with great spoil, the families of a
vanquished tribe. Asháth ibn Cays, chief of the Kinda, was moved by
their cries; and, having gathered a strong force, fell upon Ziâd, and
rescued the captives. It is the same Asháth who, when he tendered his
homage to Mahomet, had betrothed to himself the sister of Abu Bekr.[86]
Thus compromised he went into active rebellion, and roused the whole
country against Ziâd, who, surrounded by the enemy, despatched an
urgent summons to Mohâjir to hasten to his deliverance.

[Sidenote: Subdued by Mohâjir and Ikrima.]

By this time Mohâjir and Ikrima, marching respectively from Sanâa and
Aden, had effected a junction at Mâreb, and were crossing the sandy
desert of Sayhad, which lay between them and Hadhramaut. Learning the
critical position of Ziâd, Mohâjir set off in haste with a flying
squadron, and, joined by Ziâd, fell upon Asháth, and discomfited
him with great slaughter. The routed enemy fled for refuge to the
stronghold of Nojeir, which Mohâjir immediately invested. Ikrima
soon came up with the main body, when there were troops enough both
to surround the city and also to ravage all the country round about.
Stung by witnessing the ruin of their kindred, and preferring death
to dishonour, the garrison sallied forth, and fought the Moslems at
every point about the fortress. After a desperate struggle, in which
the approaches were filled with the dead, they were driven back.
Meanwhile Abu Bekr, apprised of the obstinate resistance, sent orders
to make an example of the rebels, and give no quarter. The wretched
garrison, with the enemy daily increasing, and no prospect of relief,
were now bereft of hope. Seeing the position desperate, the wily
Asháth made his way to Ikrima and treacherously agreed to deliver up
the fortress if nine lives were guaranteed. [Sidenote: Ashâth sent
prisoner to Medîna and released by Abu Bekr.]The Moslems entered, slew
the fighting men, and took the women captive. The list of the nine to
be spared was presented to Mohâjir. ‘Thy name is not here!’ cried the
conqueror, exultingly, to Ashâth; for the craven traitor had forgotten,
in the excitement of the moment, to enter his own name;--‘the Lord be
praised, who hath condemned thee out of thine own mouth.’ So, having
cast him into chains, he was about to order his execution, when Ikrima
interposed and induced him, much against his will, to refer the cause
to Abu Bekr. The crowd of captive women, mourning the massacre of
their sons and husbands, loaded the recreant as he passed by with
bitter imprecations.[87] Arrived at Medîna, the Caliph abused him as
a pusillanimous wretch who had neither the power to lead, nor yet the
courage to defend, his people; and he threatened him with death. But
at last, moved by his appeal to the terms agreed upon by Ikrima, and
by his protestations that he would thenceforth fight bravely for the
faith, Abu Bekr not only forgave him, but allowed him to fulfil the
marriage with his sister.[88] Ashâth remained for a while in idleness
at Medîna, and the Caliph was heard to say that one of the three things
that he repented having done during his Caliphate was his weakness in
sparing this rebel’s life. But afterwards Ashâth went to the wars in
Syria and Irâc, and there redeemed his name.

[Sidenote: Authority re-established in the south.]

By these operations the rebellion in the south was crushed, and the
reign of Islam completely re-established. Mohâjir elected to remain in
Yemen, where he shared the government with Feroze. Ziâd continued to
administer Hadhramaut.

A curious story is told of a lady whom Ikrima married at Aden, and
carried with him into his camp. [Sidenote: Ikrima marries a lady who
had been betrothed to Mahomet.]She had been betrothed to Mahomet,
but the marriage had never been consummated. The soldiers murmured,
and questioned the propriety of Ikrima’s marriage. Mohâjir referred
the matter to Abu Bekr, who decided that there was nothing wrong in
the proceeding, as Mahomet had never fulfilled his contract with the
betrothed damsel.[89]

[Sidenote: Two songstresses mutilated for profane singing.]

I should not here omit to mention the fate of two songstresses in
Yemen, who were accused, one of satirising the Prophet, the other of
ridiculing the Moslems, in their songs. Mohâjir had the hands of both
cut off, and also (to stay their singing for the future) their front
teeth pulled out. The Caliph, on hearing of it, approved the punishment
of the first; for, said he: ‘Crime against a prophet is not as crime
against a common man; and, indeed, had the case been first referred to
me, I should, as a warning to others, have directed her execution.’ But
he disapproved the mutilation of the other.

                              CHAPTER IX.


             [Sidenote: Opposition beaten down in Arabia.]

With the campaign in Hadhramaut, opposition in Arabia was at an end. A
brief review may be of use before we pass on to the wars without.

[Sidenote: Review of the military operations which crushed the

North, east, south, and west throughout the peninsula, the circle of
victory was now complete. It began, we might say, with the avenging
expedition of Osâma, directed by the Prophet against the Syrian
border. This was followed up, more leisurely, by the arms of Amru, who
restored the prestige of Islam amongst the Codhâa and other tribes on
the Roman frontier. During Osâma’s absence the brave Caliph, with but
a scanty following, beat back the rebel tribes which, hovering around
Medîna, threatened the heart of Islam. Then followed Khâlid’s brilliant
achievements, which, beginning with the Beni Tay on the north-east,
and reclaiming the apostate tribes as he moved south, ended with the
bloody and decisive field of Yemâma in the centre of Arabia. The
flower of the Moslem troops was engaged in this great struggle, which
decided the fate of Islam, then trembling in the balance; and while it
was in progress, operations languished elsewhere. Subsequently, the
campaign throughout the peninsula was carried on vigorously, but in
many quarters with limited resources and varying fortune; till Ikrima,
sweeping down the eastern coast, joined Mohâjir in the south, and
stamped out the last embers of apostasy.

The rebellion was totally suppressed, but the people remained still
backward and sullen. [Sidenote: Arabia sullen, till roused by the
war-cry from without.]The wild and turbulent tribes were brought
back unwillingly. They chafed at the demand of tithe and obedience
to Medîna. It was simply force and fear that as yet attached them to
the Caliph. The question occurs, what would have been the fortune of
Islam had no grand impulse arisen from without? It may be difficult
to say, but the prospect certainly was not encouraging. Convictions
so shallow and aspirations so low as those of the Bedouin would soon
have disappeared; and force and fear could not long have availed to
hold together the repellent atoms which go to form the Arab nation. The
South was jealous of the North; the Bedouins of the desert scorned the
population settled in towns and villages; every tribe had some cause of
rivalry with its neighbour; new feuds were ever arising out of the law
of blood. Even in Medîna, the cradle of the faith, the Beni Aus were
impatient of the Beni Khazraj, and both were jealous of the Refugees
from Mecca. The only authority recognised by a Bedouin is the authority
of his tribal chief, and even that sits lightly. To him freedom is
life; and dependence on a central power most hateful. The yoke of
Islam (had nothing external supervened) would soon have been shaken
off, and Arabia returned again to its former state. But fortunately
for Islam (sadly for the interests of humanity) a new idea electrified
the nation. No sooner was apostasy put down than, first in Chaldæa and
then in Syria, collision with the Christian tribes kindled the fire
of foreign war; and forthwith the Arabs, both town and Bedouin, were
riveted to Islam by a common bond--the love of rapine and the lust of

[Sidenote: The Moslems crusade due to circumstances rather than design.]

That the heritage of Islam is the world was an afterthought. The idea
(spite of much proleptic tradition) had presented itself but dimly,
if at all, to Mahomet himself. His world was Arabia; and for it Islam
was sent. From first to last the call was made primarily to Arabs and
to them alone. It is true that, some years before his death, Mahomet
had summoned certain kings and princes to confess the catholic faith
of Abraham; but the step had not in any way been followed up. Nor was
it otherwise with the command to fight against idolators, Jews, and
Christians: that command was announced to the Arab tribes assembled
in pilgrimage at Minâ;[90] it had reference only to them, and had
no immediate bearing whatever on warfare beyond the bounds of the
peninsula. The Prophet’s dying legacy was to the same effect:--‘See,’
said he, ‘that there be but one faith throughout Arabia.’ The seed of
a universal claim, indeed, had been sown; but that it ever germinated
was due to circumstances rather than design. Even Omar, after his
_rôle_ of splendid victories, manifested a continual dread lest
his armies should proceed too far; and, separated by some gulf or
mountain range, should be cut off from succour and exposed to danger.
Therefore he set barriers (as we shall see) to the ambition of his
people, beyond which they should not pass.

[Sidenote: The Arabs issue forth as the conquerors of the world.]

Nevertheless, universal empire was altogether in accord with the
spirit of the faith. ‘When a people leaveth off to fight in the ways
of the Lord,’ said Abu Bekr in his inaugural address (and, in saying
it, struck the key-note of Islam), ‘the Lord casteth off that people.’
And so, when the Rubicon, the border land of Arabia, was once crossed,
the horizon enlarged in ever-widening circles, till it embraced the
world. Now indeed the marauding spirit of the Bedouin was in unison
with the militant spirit of Islam. The cry of plunder and of conquest
reverberated throughout the land, and was answered eagerly. The
movement began naturally with the tribes in the north which had been
first reclaimed from their apostasy, and whose restless spirit led them
over the frontier. Later on, in the second year of the Caliphate, the
exodus spread to the people of the south. At first the Caliph forbade
that help should be taken from such as had backslidden. The privilege
of fighting for the faith was reserved for those who had remained firm
in its profession. But, step by step, as new spheres opened out, and
the cry ran through the land for fresh levies to fill up the ‘martyr’
gaps, the ban was put aside, and all were welcome. Warrior after
warrior, column after column, whole tribes in endless succession, with
their women and children, issued forth to battle. And ever, at the
marvellous tale of cities conquered, of booty rich beyond compute, of
fair captives distributed on the field--‘to every man a damsel or two,’
and, above all, at the sight of the royal Fifth of spoil and slaves
sent to Medîna--fresh tribes arose and went. Onward and still onward,
like swarms from the hive, one after another they poured forth, pressed
first to the north, and spread thence in great masses to the east and

[Sidenote: Discredit still attaching to apostasy.]

It must not, however, be overlooked that though apostasy was thus
condoned, and in the blaze of victory almost forgotten, a certain
discredit still clung to the backslider. His guilt was not like that
of others who had committed sins, however black, ignorantly before
conversion. The apostate, having been once enlightened, cast by his
fall a deliberate slur upon Islam. And therefore no chief who had
joined the great apostasy was ever promoted to a chief command. He
might fight, and was welcome, in the ranks, and was even allowed to
head small parties of fifty or a hundred; but to the last the post of
leader was denied him.

[Sidenote: Slaves of Arab blood set free.]

The Arab race, thus emerging from its desert-home, became the
aristocracy of Islam. Conquered nations, even if they embraced the
faith, fell into a lower class. The Arabs were the dominant caste
wheresoever they might go, and it was only as ‘clients’ of the noble
race that people of other lands could share their privileges--crumbs,
as it were, which fell from off their table. Yet great numbers of
the Arabs themselves were slaves, taken prisoner during the apostasy
or in previous intertribal warfare, and held in captivity by their
fellow-countrymen. Omar felt the inconsistency. It was not fit that
any of the noble race should remain in bondage. When, therefore, he
succeeded to the Caliphate, he decreed their freedom. ‘The Lord,’ he
said, ‘hath given to us of Arab blood the victory, and great conquests
without. It is not meet that any one of us, taken captive in the days
of ignorance,[91] or in the wars against the apostate tribes, should
be holden in slavery.’ All slaves of Arab descent were accordingly
ransomed, excepting only such bondmaids as had borne their masters
children. Men who had lost wives or children now set out in search, if
haply they might find and claim them. Strange tales are told of some of
these disconsolate journeys. Ashâth recovered two of his wives taken
captive in Nojeir. But some of the women who had been carried prisoners
to Medîna preferred remaining with their captors.[92]

[Sidenote: Death of Fâtima, the Prophet’s daughter.]

Before passing on to more stirring scenes, it may be proper here to
notice some domestic events occurring in the first year of Abu Bekr’s
Caliphate. In it Fâtima, the Prophet’s daughter and wife of Aly,
died. She had claimed a share in her father’s property. Repairing,
in company with her husband, to the Caliph, she said: ‘Give me the
inheritance that falleth to me.’ Abu Bekr inquired whether it was her
portion of the household goods that she desired. ‘Fadak and Kheibar,’
she answered, ‘and the tithe lands of Medîna--my portion therein, even
as thy daughters will inherit of thee when thou diest.’ The Caliph
answered: ‘Truly thy father was better than I, and thou art better than
my daughters. But the Prophet hath said, _No one shall be my heir;
that which I leave shall be for alms._ Now, therefore, the family
of Mahomet shall not eat of these lands; for, by the Lord! I will not
alter a tittle of that which he hath ordained. But,’ added he, ‘if thou
art certain that thy father gave thee this property, I will accept thy
word, and fulfil his promise.’ She answered that she had no evidence
excepting that of Omm Ayman, the Prophet’s aged nurse, who had said
that her father had given her Fadak.[93] So Abu Bekr maintained his
decision. Fâtima felt aggrieved, and was much displeased. She survived
but a few months,[94] leaving two sons, Hasan and Hosein, through
whom alone the issue of Mahomet was perpetuated. Aly, who, during her
lifetime, had held aloof, began after her decease, like the rest of the
chief Companions, to frequent the Caliph’s court.

[Sidenote: Death of Abu Bekr’s son.]

In this year Abu Bekr lost his son Abdallah, who died from the effects
of a wound received at the siege of Tâyif.

[Sidenote: Omar Chief Justice.]

As supreme judge in civil causes, the Caliph nominated Omar; but
warlike operations so occupied men’s minds, that for the time the
office was a sinecure.

[Sidenote: The first Pilgrimage under the Caliphate. Dzul Hijj.
A.H. XI. March, A.D. 633.]

The presidency at the annual Pilgrimage is always carefully recorded
by the annalists of Islam. The Caliph was too much engrossed with the
commotion throughout Arabia to proceed himself to Mecca on the first
Pilgrimage of his reign, and he therefore commissioned Attâb, governor
of the holy city, to preside in his stead.[95]

So ended the first year of the Caliphate.

                              CHAPTER X.

                      CAMPAIGN OF KHALID IN IRAC.

                          A.H. XII. A.D. 633.

[Sidenote: Collision with border tribes led to conflict with Roman and
Persian empires.]

Chaldæa and the south of Syria belong, as well by nature as by
population, to Arabia. The tribes inhabiting that region, partly
heathen, at the time we write of, but chiefly Christian, formed an
integral portion of the Arab race. As these resisted the Moslem columns
engaged on the frontier, they were eventually supported by their
respective sovereigns--the western tribes by the Byzantine empire, and
the eastern by Persia. Thus through them the struggle spread, and soon
brought Islam face to face in mortal conflict with the two great Powers
of the east and west.

[Sidenote: History of Byzantine and Persian campaigns dependent
exclusively on Arabian sources.]

The sources of our history, being purely Arabian, throw little light
on the condition of the provinces to which the scene will now be
transferred. With the Roman empire, the Arabs of the peninsula had
never at any time much acquaintance or concern, and the Byzantine
annals of Syria are suddenly quenched by the Saracenic cataclysm. A few
brief lines is all we have from them of the momentous events on which
we are about to enter. Of the Eastern empire, succeeding as the Arabs
did to the Sassanide dynasty, they naturally had a greater interest in
the antecedents; and we have, through their historians, glimpses of the
anarchy that now prevailed in Persia. But even this is, at the best,
fragmentary and imperfect.

It is enough, for our present purpose, to know that in neither of the
two great powers had the nerve and virtue of early days survived.
[Sidenote: Roman and Persian empires at Mahomet’s death.]Luxury,
oppression, religious strife, and military disaster had undermined
their strength and impaired their vigour. The Roman empire,
extinguished in the west by barbarian hordes, existed only in the
provinces governed by the Byzantine capital. Between the Kaiser and
the Chosroes war had long prevailed; and Syria or Mesopotamia had been
the prize now of one, now of the other. By the last turn of fortune,
Heraclius, in a brilliant campaign directed from the Black Sea, had
routed the Persians on the field of Nineveh, and marched triumphantly
to the very gates of Ctesiphon (_Medâin_). [Sidenote: A.H. VI. A.D.
627.] The Chosroes, with eighteen of his sons, was put to death by
Siroes, who enjoyed but a few months the fruit of his parricidal crime;
and ‘in the space of four years, the royal title was assumed by nine
candidates, who disputed, with the sword or dagger, the fragments of an
exhausted monarchy.’[96] Such was the condition of Persia, its court
imbecile and anarchy rampant, at the time when Abu Bekr was engaged in
his struggle with the apostate tribes. Nevertheless, the Arabian armies
met with a fiercer and more protracted opposition on the Persian than
on the Syrian side. And the reason is that Islam aimed its blow at the
very heart of Persia. Constantinople might remain, with Syria gone,
ignobly safe. But if the Arabs gained Irâc, Ctesiphon must fall into
their hands.

[Sidenote: Mothanna attacks the border tribes of Irâc.]

Among the chiefs who aided Alâ in the reoccupation of Bahrein, Mothanna
has been named.[97] Advancing up the shore of the Persian Gulf, he
reduced Catîf, and carried his victorious army into the delta of
the Euphrates. ‘Who is this Mothanna?’ asked Abu Bekr, as tidings
of his success kept reaching Medîna; ‘and to what tribe doth he
belong?’ Learning that he was of the Beni Bekr ibn Wâil, he gave him
a commission to carry forward his arms, fighting in the ways of the
Lord.[98] The service was just such as the Arabs loved; and Mothanna’s
column was soon swelled to 8,000 men. But opposition gathered in
front. The Christian and heathen tribes were roused; and Abu Bekr,
anticipating a struggle strongly backed by other forces in their rear,
resolved that (Khâlid being now at leisure) ‘the Sword of the Lord’
should be unsheathed there.

[Sidenote: Abu Bekr sends troops under Khâlid and Iyâdh towards Irâc.
A.H. XII. March, A.D. 633.]

It was now the beginning of the twelfth year of the Hegira. Rebellion
had been put down in the centre of Arabia, and the southern tribes were
also in fair way to pacification. It was Abu Bekr’s policy to turn
the victorious arms of the restless Arabs to similar work elsewhere.
He therefore despatched two armies to the northern frontier. One of
these, under command of Khâlid, joined by Mothanna, was to march on
Obolla near the mouth of the Euphrates, and thence, driving the enemy
up its western shore, to work its way towards Hîra, the capital of
Irâc. Iyâdh, at the head of the other, was directed to Dûmat al Jendal,
which had cast off its allegiance; and thence to pass also on to Hîra.
Whichever of the two first reached and captured that city was to be in
command of the country.[99]

[Sidenote: Khâlid joins Mothanna in Irâc.]

The progress of Iyâdh was hampered by his enemy, and he was long
detained in the Jôf, or country about Dûma. Khâlid met with no such
obstacle. His army, like Mothanna’s, was swelled on its march from
Yemâma to Irâc by large bodies of Bedouins. These were of the greater
service as his numbers had been thinned not only by the carnage at
Yemâma, but also by the free permission, which, after their long and
arduous campaign, the Caliph had given the army, of furlough to their
homes. Nevertheless, the expedition was so popular that when Khâlid,
after a flying visit to the Caliph at Medîna, rejoined his camp as
it neared the mouth of the Euphrates, he found himself at the head
of 10,000 men; and this besides the 8,000 of Mothanna, who hastened
loyally to place himself under the great leader’s command.

[Sidenote: The Syrian desert and Mesopotamia.]

The country on which they had now entered was, in some of its features,
familiar to the invading army, but in others new and strange. From the
head of the Persian Gulf to the Dead Sea there stretches right across
the peninsula a stony wilderness, trackless and waterless. As you
advance north, nature relaxes its severity; the plain, still a desert,
is at certain seasons clothed with verdure, bright with flowers and
instinct with the song of birds and hum of insect life. Such is the
pasture-land which for several hundred miles extends from Damascus
to the Tigris. Still further north, the desert features gradually
disappear, and, about the latitude of Mosul, are blended with the
hills and fields of Asia Minor. Athwart this vast plain, from Aleppo
to Babylon, runs the river Euphrates, and the far east is bounded by
the Tigris flowing under the mountain ranges of Persia. Between the
two rivers lies the _Jezîra_, or ‘Island,’ of Mesopotamia, full
of patriarchal memories. Over this great waste there roamed (as still
roam) Bedouin tribes with their flocks and herds. The greater part of
these Arabs had for centuries professed the Christian religion. Those
on the Syrian side, as the Beni Ghassân of Bostra, owed allegiance to
the Roman Empire; while on the east, like the Lakhmites of Hîra, they
were dependent upon Persia.[100] But nomad life tends to fickleness of
attachment and laxity of faith; and, not infrequently, affinity with
their brethren of Arabia, and the lust of plunder, led these northern
Arabs, deserting now their ancient allies and their ancestral faith, to
cast in their lot with the invading columns.

[Sidenote: Chaldæa and the delta of the Euphrates. Irâc Araby.]

The lower Euphrates--Irâc Araby[101]--is in striking contrast with
the region just described. The two great rivers of Mesopotamia, while
yet more than 500 miles above the sea, draw close to one another.
Below this point, the land, naturally rich, is easily supplied with
water, and when irrigated is exuberantly fertile. Instead of joining
where they approach, the two rivers still keep apart, and for two or
three hundred miles, running parallel, inclose what was the memorable
plain of Dura. The country (as now) was covered with long hillocks
and mounds, the remains of an ancient network of irrigation,[102] and
also strewed with fragments of brick and pottery, remnants of the dim
ages of antiquity. At the time of which we write, the face of the land
was not, as it is for the most part now, a barren waste, but richly
cultivated and irrigated by canals. On the Tigris, a little below the
point of its drawing near the Euphrates, was Medâin, ‘the twin city’
(combining the sites of both Seleucia and Ctesiphon), at this time the
capital of Persia. Fifty miles to the south of it a series of shapeless
mounds, looking down on the ‘great river’ Euphrates, marked the site
of ancient Babylon, and from their summit, still to the south, might
be descried the Birs Nimrûd (or ‘Tower of Babel’) rearing its weird
head on the horizon of the verdant plain. Some thirty miles yet further
south lay Hîra, the capital of the Lakhmites and of the Arab tribes
around. It stood (like its successor Kûfa) upon the Bâdacla, a branch
which issues from the right bank of the Euphrates by a channel in the
live rock, sixteen miles above Babylon, cut by the hand of man, but
of unknown antiquity.[103] Sweeping to the west of the parent river,
the rival stream, in its southward course, feeds many marshes, and
especially the great lake called the ‘Sea of Najaf; after a wide
circuit it rejoins the Euphrates above its junction with the Tigris.
There was in olden times another branch still further to the west,
the _Khandac_, or ‘Trench of Sapor,’ which intended as a bar to
Bedouin incursions, and, taking a yet wider circuit, fell into the
Euphrates near Obolla, at the head of the Persian Gulf. This is now
dry, but originally it carried a stream which, like the other, helped
materially to widen the green belt continually narrowed and pressed
in upon by the dry and sandy desert beyond. The lower delta again
has features of its own. It is subject to tidal flow for fifty miles
above the junction of the two rivers. Alluvial, low, and watered with
ease, it is covered with a sea of corn, and has, not without reason,
been called ‘the garden of the world.’ Besides the familiar palm, the
country abounded with the fig, mulberry, and pomegranate. But the
climate was close and oppressive; the fens and marshes, always liable
to inundation, were aggravated by the neglect of dams and sluices in
those days of anarchy;[104] and the Arab, used to the sandy steppes
of the peninsula, gazed wonderingly at the luxuriant growth of reeds
and rushes, and at buffalos driven by the pestiferous insects to hide
their unwieldy bodies beneath the water, their heads alone appearing,
or splashing lazily through the shallow waste of endless lagoons.
All Chaldæa, from the estuary upwards, was cultivated, as now, by
_Fellaheen_, or Arab peasantry, and these were lorded over by
_Dihcâns_, or collectors commissioned by the Persian Court.[105]
Such was the magnificent province lying between the desert and the
mountain range of Persia, the cradle of civilisation and the arts,
which attracted the first crusade of the Moslem arms.

[Sidenote: Khâlid advances on the delta, and summons Hormuz.]

The Satrap of the delta was Hormuz, a Persian prince, who (we are
told), ‘fighting the tribes of Arabia by land, and the Indians by sea,
guarded thus the portals of the Empire.’ But he was hateful to his Arab
subjects, and his name for tyranny had become a byword. To him, as
master of the tribes gathering in his front, Khâlid addressed a letter
in the haughty type of Moslem summons. ‘_Accept the faith and thou
art safe, or else pay tribute, thou and thy people; which thing if thou
refusest, thou shalt have thyself to blame. A people is already upon
thee, loving death, even as thou lovest life._’ Then he ordered an
advance. Mothanna led the first column; Adi, son of Hâtim (the famous
chieftain of the Beni Tay), the second. Khâlid brought up the rear; all
three converging upon Hafîr, a station on the Persian frontier by the
desert border.[106]

[Sidenote: Khâlid routs the army of the Persians. _Battle of

Startled by the strange summons, Hormuz informed the king, and set out
to meet the invader with an army, the wings of which were commanded by
princes of the royal house. He marched in haste, thinking to have an
easy victory over the untrained tribes of the desert; and reaching
first the encamping ground, took possession of the springs. Khâlid,
coming up, bade his force alight, and at once unload their burdens.
[Sidenote: Moharram, A.H. XII. March, A.D. 633.] ‘Then,’ said he,
‘let us fight for the water forthwith; by my life! the springs shall
be for the braver of the two.’ Thereupon Hormuz challenged Khâlid to
single combat, and, though he treacherously posted an ambuscade, was in
the encounter slain. The Moslems then rushed forward, and with great
slaughter put the enemy to flight, and pursued them to the banks of the
Euphrates. The Arabs had now a foretaste of the spoils of Persia. The
share of each horseman was one thousand dirhems, besides great store
of arms.[107] The jewelled tiara of Hormuz, symbol of his rank, and
valued at a hundred thousand pieces, was sent to the Caliph with the
royal Fifth.[108] An elephant taken in the field was marched as part
of the prize to Medîna; but having been paraded about the town, much
to the wonder of the admiring citizens, was sent back as unsuitable to
the place.[109] The action was called ‘the Battle of the Chains,’ for
we are told that a portion of the Persian army was bound together to
prevent its giving way.[110]

[Sidenote: ‘The Lady’s Castle.’]

The defeated army fled towards the capital, and Mothanna with his horse
hastened after them. Crossing the Euphrates, he came upon a fortress
called ‘The Lady’s Castle,’ held by a Persian princess. Leaving his
brother Moänna to besiege her, he advanced to a second fort defended by
the husband. This he took by storm, and put the garrison to the sword;
which, when the lady heard of, she embraced Islam, and, forgetting her
Persian lord, readily gave her hand to Mothanna’s brother.

[Sidenote: Persians again defeated at Madzâr.]

The ardour of Mothanna was near to causing a disaster. When Hormuz’
message reached Medâin, the King despatched Cârin, another prince of
the first rank, to reinforce him. Midway he was met by remnants of
the defeated army, which, with the two princes, were retreating to
Medâin.[111] Here their flight was stayed, and they rallied at Madzâr,
on the southern bank of the great canal, or branch of the Tigris which
runs athwart the peninsula to the Euphrates. Cârin, thus strengthened,
resolved on giving battle to Mothanna, who in his adventurous pursuit
had reached thus far. Khâlid, apprised of the check, hastened to
relieve his lieutenant, and arrived just in time. The field was
fiercely contested; Cârin and both princes lost their lives, and
a prodigious number of the enemy was either slain or drowned; the
remainder escaped in boats.[112] The deep channel stopped farther
advance; but the spoil of the enemy’s camp again was very great.
Khâlid, encamped on the bank of the canal, scoured the country on
either hand, killing all the people fit for war, and taking their women
captive. But the Fellaheen, or unwarlike peasants, he left unharmed.

The court was now thoroughly aroused. Arab invaders, they began to say,
were best met by Arabs who knew their tactics; and so the king raised
a great levy of the Beni Bekr and other loyal clans, under a famous
warrior of their own. [Sidenote: Battle of Walaja. Safar, A.H.
XII. April, A.D. 633.]He also summoned Bahmân, a veteran
general, from the provinces, to command the imperial troops. The
combined army, in imposing force, encamped at Walaja, on the farther
side of the Euphrates. Leaving a detachment to guard his conquests
in the lower delta, Khâlid advanced with the remainder of his army
to meet the enemy. The battle was long and obstinate, but was won by
the tactics of the Moslem leader, who, when the enemy were exhausted,
surprised them by two ambuscades in their rear. The discomfiture was
complete. The Persians fled, and with them the Bedouins, but not
until several of them had been taken prisoner. Flushed with success
and delighted with the bounty spread around, Khâlid called his troops
together and addressed them in these stirring words: [Sidenote:
Khâlid’s oration on gaining the victory.]‘Ye see the riches of the
land. Its paths drop fatness and plenty, so that food is scattered
about, even as stones are in Arabia. Were it but as a provision for
this present life, and no holy war to wage, it were worth our while to
fight for these fair fields and banish care and penury for ever.’[113]
Khâlid here struck a chord at which every Bedouin heart leapt for joy.
Now, also, the cunning device of the Corân, with respect to the other
sex, began to tell. Persian ladies, both maids and matrons, ‘taken
captive by the right hand,’ were forthwith, without stint of number,
lawful to the conquerors’ embrace; and, in the enjoyment of this
privilege, they were nothing loth to execute upon the heathen ‘the
judgment written.’ Thus religious fanaticism was kindled by martial
ardour, and both riveted by incentives irresistible to the Arab--fight
and foray, the spoil of war, and captive charms.[114]

[Sidenote: Battle of Allîs. Safar, A.H. XII. May, A.D. 633.]

The cup had but just touched their lips, and many a chance might
yet dash it from their hand. The great family of the Beni Bekr ibn
Wâil were divided in the struggle, part holding with Khâlid and part
with the Persian court. The bitter feeling between the Bedouins of
Mesopotamia and the levies of Mothanna was aggravated by defeat and
captivity. Smarting under the injury, the Christian tribes roused their
nomad brethren on both banks of the Euphrates, and urged the Court of
Persia to revenge. Just then, Ardshir the king fell sick, and Bahmân
was detained at court[115]; but he sent an army across the peninsula to
join the Bedouins, who, from every side, were flocking to Allîs, on the
south of the Euphrates, half way between Hîra and Obolla. News of this
great rising forced Khâlid to fall back hastily, and recross the river.
Then leaving a strong detachment at Hafîr to secure his rear, he boldly
turned to meet the enemy. The Arab tribes first rushed to the attack,
and Khâlid slew their leader. Then the Persians advanced, and the
Moslems were hard pressed as they had never been before. The battle was
fiercely contested, and the issue at one time so doubtful as to make
Khâlid vow to the Lord that if he got the victory, the blood of His
foes should flow in a river. At last the Persians, unable to withstand
his impetuous generalship, broke and fled. To fulfil his savage oath,
it was proclaimed by Khâlid that no fugitive should be slain, but that
all must be brought alive into the camp. For two days the country
was scoured by the Moslem horse, and a great multitude of prisoners
gathered. [Sidenote: The ‘River of Blood’.]Then the butchery commenced
in the dry bed of a canal, but the earth drank up the blood. Company
after company was beheaded, and still the gory flux remained. At last,
on the advice of an Arab chief, Khâlid had a flood-gate opened above,
and the crimson tide redeemed his vow. There were flour-mills upon the
spot, and Tabari tells us, with apparent satisfaction, that for three
days, corn for the whole army was ground by the reddened flood. The
memory of the deed was handed down in the name of the ‘River of Blood,’
by which thereafter this stream of infamous memory was called.[116]

[Sidenote: The Persian supper on the field of battle.]

When the battle was over, the army found ready spread in the camp of
the enemy a sumptuous repast, to which the Persians, when surprised
by Khâlid, were about to sit down. It was a novel experience for the
simple Arabs, who handled the white fritters with childish delight, and
devoured rich pancakes and other delicacies of an eastern table with
avidity. Khâlid ate his supper leaning on the body of a stalwart hero,
‘the equal of a thousand warriors,’ whom, in single combat, he had but
just cut down.’

[Sidenote: Abu Bekr delighted at the victory.]

Tidings of the victory, with a choice portion of the spoil, a welcome
earnest of the royal Fifth to follow, were at once despatched to Abu
Bekr. The messenger, himself a brave warrior (for the duty was an
honourable one) described the heat and progress of the battle, the
feats and prowess of the more distinguished heroes, the multitude of
the captives (the butchery, no doubt, as well) and the riches of the
spoil. The Caliph, overjoyed at his glowing tale, bestowed upon the
envoy, in token of his royal favour, a beautiful damsel from amongst
the captive maidens he had carried with him.[117]

[Sidenote: The principality of Hîra.]

For the moment the spirit of the enemy, both Bedouin and Persian,
was broken; but the former had proved so troublesome, and occupied a
position in the desert pastures from which they could so materially
annoy his flank and rear and his communications with Arabia, that
Khâlid resolved on reducing the whole tract west of the Euphrates
occupied by the Bedouins, with its capital city of Hîra. The last of
the Lakhmite dynasty, which had long ruled over Hîra, died in prison
at the Persian Court five and twenty years before; and he was replaced
by a favourite, Iyâs ibn Cabîsa, from the Beni Tay. A few years after,
a Persian army, with their allies from Hîra, was signally defeated
by the Beni Bekr ibn Wâil on the field of Dzu Câr; and from the year
614 A.D. the city was governed by a _Marzabân_, or Persian Satrap.
Partly from its interests being akin to those of the Christian tribes
of Mesopotamia, partly from its being a dependency of Persia, the
influence of Hîra was little felt in Arabia proper. But recent events
had shown that even the Beni Bekr might combine with the border capital
to resist the invader. To prevent the recurrence of such a danger,
Khâlid now directed his steps to Hîra.[118]

[Sidenote: Amghîsia sacked.]

With this view he advanced rapidly up the western bank of the
Euphrates, and surprised Amghîsia, a town on the same channel as
Hîra, and its rival in size and wealth.[119] The inhabitants, without
resisting, fled, and the booty was so rich that each horseman took
1,500 dirhems. When the Fifth reached Medîna, Abu Bekr was overwhelmed
at the sight; ‘O ye Coreish,’ he exclaimed in ecstasy, ‘verily your
lion, the lion of Islam, hath leapt upon the lion of Persia, and
spoiled him of his prey. Surely the womb is exhausted. Woman shall no
more bear a second Khâlid!’

[Sidenote: Hîra besieged, capitulates.]

Finding boats at Amghîsia, Khâlid embarked his infantry and baggage,
and was tracking up the Bâdacla to Hîra, when the flotilla grounded
suddenly. Azâdzuba, the Satrap of Hîra, had sent his son to lay open
the irrigating escapes, and hence the dried-up channel and bewilderment
of the Moslems.[120] Apprised by the boatmen of the cause, Khâlid
hastened with a flying squadron to the canal-head, slew the Satrap’s
son, and, having closed the sluices, enabled the boats again to ascend.
Then the army, having disembarked and taken possession of the beautiful
palaces of Khawarnac and Najaf, the summer residence of the princes
of Hîra, encamped before the city walls.[121] The Satrap, just then
receiving intelligence of the king’s decease, and stunned by the death
of his own son, fled across the river. The city was called upon to
surrender, but, defended as it was by four citadels, resisted. The
ramparts were manned, and the besiegers kept at bay by a continuous
discharge of missiles. But a monastery and cloisters lay without; and
the monks and clergy, exposed to the fury of the besiegers, induced the
citizens to capitulate. The chief men agreed to the terms demanded,
which were embodied in a treaty. Then they brought gifts, which Khâlid
accepted, and despatched, with tidings of the surrender, to Medîna. Abu
Bekr ratified the treaty and accepted the presents, but desired that
their value should be deducted from the tribute.

[Sidenote: Terms of treaty with Hîra.]

The men of Hîra bound themselves to pay a heavy tribute yearly, to
which all classes, saving religious mendicants, should be assessed.
The Moslems, on their part, engaged to protect the city from attack.
The treaty did not stand long, but it is interesting as being the
first concluded with a principality without the peninsula.[122] One
strange condition was insisted on. The beauty of Kerâmat, sister of a
leading citizen, had been long proverbial, and Showeil, one of Khâlid’s
soldiers, laid claim to her on the ground that Mahomet, hearing him
extol her charms, had promised (so the story runs) that when Hîra was
captured, she should be his bride. Though now well stricken in years,
Khâlid insisted that Showeil should have her. The thing was grievous to
the lady’s household, but she took it lightly. ‘Care not for it,’ she
said; ‘what will he do with an old woman like me? The fool saw me in my
youth, and hath forgotten that youth remaineth not for ever.’ Showeil
soon found out that it was even so, and was glad to name a ransom,
which she paid at once, and then departed to her people.[123]

[Sidenote: Hîra, though occupied by Khâlid, remains Christian. A.H.
XII. A.D. 633.]

The occupation of Hîra was the first definite step in the outward
movement of Islam. Here Khâlid fixed his head-quarters, and remained
for about a year. It was, in fact, the earliest Moslem capital beyond
the limits of Arabia. The administration was left with the heads of the
native municipality, who, together with the surrounding population,
were, if not friendly, at the least neutral. Khâlid, indeed, expected
that, being of Arab descent, and themselves long ruled by a native
dynasty, the citizens of Hîra would actively have joined his cause.
Adi, grandson of the poet of that name, was one of the deputation which
concluded the peace. ‘Tell me,’ said Khâlid rallying him, ‘whether ye
be of Persian blood?’ ‘Judge by our speech: doth that betray ignoble
birth?’ ‘True,’ answered Khâlid; ‘then why do ye not join our faith,
and cast in your lot with us?’ ‘Nay,’ answered the Christian, ‘that we
shall never do; the faith of our fathers we shall not abjure, but shall
pay tribute unto you.’ ‘Beshrew the fools!’ cried Khâlid; ‘Unbelief
is as the trackless desert, and he that treadeth it the silliest of
mankind. Here two guides are offered, an Arab and a Stranger; and
of the two they choose the Stranger!’ The flux and reflux of Roman
invasion had, no doubt, loosened their faith in Persia; but the court
of Medâin was near at hand, and, though in the last stage of senility,
sufficiently strong to command the allegiance of a small dependency
like Hîra. The permanence of Arab conquest, too, was yet uncertain; the
love of their ancestral faith was still predominant; and so the city
chose to remain as tributary. And several centuries later we find the
inhabitants of the neighbourhood in considerable numbers still attached
to the Christian faith.[124]

[Sidenote: Public prayer established. ‘The Service of Victory.’]

Public prayer, outward symbol of the dominant faith, was now
established; and the citizens might hear the cry of the Muedzzin, as,
five times a day, beginning with the earliest dawn, the call to prayer
resounded from the adjacent camp. Khâlid celebrated his success in a
special _Service of victory_. The occasion was memorable. Clothed
in a loose flowing robe girt about the neck, he turned, when the
prayers were over, to the assembly, and thus extolled their bravery:
‘In the field of Mûta (where he had himself rallied the dispersed army)
nine swords were broken in my hand.[125] But I met not there any foe to
match those ye have encountered here; and of these none more valiant
than the men of Allîs.’ It is, however, open to remark that the early
campaign in Irâc is surrounded by tradition with a special halo; for
the loss here on the Moslem side was not great, and, judged by this
unerring test, the fighting could hardly compare with that of many a
well-contested field in the Prophet’s time.[126]

[Sidenote: Summary administration set up in the conquered province.]

While the city of Hîra was left in the immediate hands of its
chief men, summary rule was set up over the adjacent country. The
_Dihcâns_--great landholders and imperial tax-gatherers--had
been waiting upon fortune. Seeing now that, while the Court was
inactive, Khâlid carried everything before him, many began to tender
submission and enter into engagements with the conqueror for payment
of the revenue. Abu Bekr had, in his wisdom, strenuously enjoined
that the Fellaheen, or occupiers of the soil, should be maintained
in possession, and their rights scrupulously respected. The Persian
demand remained unchanged on these, with the addition only of a light
poll-tax. In other respects, terms were granted corresponding with
those given to Hîra. Holding their ancestral faith, the people became
_Zimmies_, or protected dependents. Khâlid undertook to defend
them, and they on their part pledged allegiance and bound themselves to
give notice if danger threatened.[127] Garrisons were quartered in a
few commanding places and the troops were organised into five moveable
columns. By these the country was kept in check. In this manner Khâlid
held all to the south of the Euphrates, and also the lower delta,
stretching from Hîra eastward across the Great River to the banks of
the lower Tigris. Throughout this region none were secure from rapine
but such as had entered into engagements. Fifty days’ grace was allowed
to bring in the revenue, and, till it was paid, hostages were kept; a
formal discharge was given on payment.[128] The tribute, as well as the
booty, was distributed among the army ‘for the strengthening of the

[Sidenote: Persia paralysed by internal trouble.]

Persia was meanwhile hopelessly distracted. The massacre by Siroes and
his jealous successors, of the male progeny near the throne, had been
so ruthless and complete that no heir of the royal blood could anywhere
be found, and a rapid succession of feeble claimants was set up by the
princesses left to form the court. Thus paralysed, the Persians could
do little more than protect the capital by holding in force the Nahr
Shîr, an intervening stream that flowed down the peninsula.[129] This
line was threatened by Mothanna; but Abu Bekr gave stringent orders
that no advance should be made upon Medâin till all was secure behind.
[Sidenote: A.H. XII. A.D. 633.] No tidings, moreover, had as yet been
received from Iyâdh at Dûma, with whom (as before explained)[130]
co-operation was imperative. Khâlid fretted at remaining thus inactive,
‘playing,’ as he called it, ‘for so many months the woman’s part.’ But
he curbed his ardour, and contented himself with inditing two letters,
in an imperious tone, one to ‘the Princes of Persia,’ the other to
‘the Satraps and the people.’ Towards the north and west, however, he
employed his time more actively.

[Sidenote: Khâlid takes Anbâr. Autumn, A.D. 633;]

Persian detachments were posted in Mesopotamia and the outskirts
of the desert at Anbâr, Ain Tamar, and other places, within easy
distance of Hîra, and against these Khâlid now directed his steps.
Leaving Cacâa, a warrior of the Beni Temîm, in command at Hîra, he
laid siege to Anbâr, a fortress on the left bank of the Euphrates,
some eighty miles above Babylon. The garrison, though galled by the
Moslem archery, were secure behind their strong walls and the deep
fosse by which it was surrounded, until Khâlid, by a stratagem, stormed
an entrance. He slew the old and worn-out camels of his force, and
casting their carcases into the ditch, thus forced his way across.
[Sidenote: and Ain Tamar.]The Persian governor sued for terms, and was
allowed to retire.[131] Anbâr and the richly-irrigated neighbourhood
of Felûgia[132] thus secured, Khâlid went on to Ain Tamar, on the
desert border, three days west of Anbâr. The Persian governor Mihrân
had there, besides the imperial troops, a great following of nomad
tribes, and among these the Beni Taghlib, who (a strange coincidence)
were under command of Ackka, Hodzeil, and other chiefs, the captains
of the prophetess Sajâh when she invaded Yemâma.[133] These, advancing
to the attack, assailed Khâlid as he approached the citadel; but he
repulsed them easily, taking Ackka prisoner with his own hand. Mihrân,
seeing the rout from the ramparts, fled, and left the garrison and
the fugitives to defend themselves as best they could. Refused terms
and reduced to straits, they surrendered at discretion. [Sidenote:
Khâlid’s severity.]Khâlid, angry at the persistent opposition of the
Mesopotamian tribes, and also at his loss in the field (for though the
victory was easy, a Companion of note and a Citizen of Medîna were
among the slain), was betrayed into an unwise severity which embittered
the Christian Bedouins against him.[134] Ackka was beheaded in front
of the city walls; the garrison was then led forth, every adult male
put to death, and the women, with the children, made over to the
soldiers or sold into slavery. In a cloister, hard by the church, were
forty youths, who, in their terror, barred the door upon the enemy.
[Sidenote: Forty Christian students taken captive.]When their retreat
was forced open, they gave themselves up, declaring that they were
students, receiving there instruction in the Gospel. Their lives were
spared, and, being of a superior class, they were distributed among
the leaders. It is hard to record the fate of these youthful scholars
snatched from the Nestorian Church to be brought up as captives in
the Moslem faith. But the fate, though sad, could hardly have been
singular in the rough and sanguinary tide of Saracen invasion. Special
prominence has, no doubt, been given to it here because Sirîn, one of
the youths, became the father of Mohammed, the famous Moslem doctor of
Bussora, and Noseir, another, the father of Mûsa, the not less famous
conqueror of Spain.[135]

[Sidenote: Iyâdh hindered at Dûma.]

While these events transpired in Irâc, Iyâdh, who ought long since
to have joined Khâlid, was battling unsuccessfully against his foes
at Dûma. The Caliph, becoming anxious, sent Welîd ibn Ocba (who had
been deputed by Khâlid to Medîna in charge of royal booty) to assist
him.[136] The enemy had got possession of the roads, and Iyâdh could
make no head against them. ‘Counsel,’ said Welîd, as he found him in
this predicament, ‘is ofttimes better than numbers: send a courier for
Khâlid.’ The message reached just after the fall of Ain Tamar; and
Khâlid, with no enemy to detain him in the field, replied in martial

    Wait but a moment, my friend,
      And a legion shall appear;
    Cohort upon cohort following
      With glittering sword and spear.

Starting at once with the flower of his force, he crossed the
intervening desert, and made good his word.[137]

[Sidenote: Dûma stormed by Khâlid, Rajah, A.H. XII. October, A.D. 633.]

He was not a day too soon. Okeidar and Judi, the chiefs of Dûma, were
supported by the Beni Kelb, a tribe which pastured its flocks in the
neighbourhood, and also by the Beni Bahra, from the desert west of
the Euphrates; and now the Beni Ghassân were pouring down from the
north, under Jabala, the Christian prince of Bostra.[138] The position
of Iyâdh, thus beset, had been growing day by day more critical. The
advent of Khâlid changed the scene at once. His very name was a tower
of strength. Okeidar had already felt his prowess, having several years
before been taken by him a prisoner to Mahomet at Medîna. Hearing now
that his old enemy was advancing from the east, he was much afraid;
and, failing to persuade his comrades to offer terms, he hastened
forward by himself, with the view of surrendering; but Khâlid, being
apprised of his approach, sent out to take him prisoner, and he was
instantly beheaded.[139] Then, instructing Iyâdh to engage the Syrian
troops on the farther side of Dûma, Khâlid himself attacked the enemy
on the nearer, and utterly routed them, taking prisoner Judi and the
Kelbite leader. The discomfited troops fled back in confusion to the
fort, and when that was full, the gates were closed. Iyâdh was also
on his side victorious, but Jabala effected his escape to Syria. Then
the sword was drawn against the helpless crowd hemmed in between the
two forces. The Beni Kelb were spared; for Acra, a Bedouin chief, had
(much to Khâlid’s displeasure) given them quarter as a confederate
tribe[140]; but Judi was beheaded, and all the rank and file that
vainly struggled round the city walls. Even to those within, the
ramparts were of small avail; the gate was battered down, and the
crowded inmates put promiscuously to the sword. The women were sold
to the highest bidder; and the most beautiful, the unfortunate Judi’s
daughter, bought by Khâlid for his harem. Thus solacing himself for a
little while at Dûma, the conqueror sent Acra with the main body back
to Hîra. There they were received with outward demonstrations of joy;
for the citizens, with timbrels, music, and cymbals, went forth, headed
by Cacâa, to meet the returning army.[141]

[Sidenote: Various expeditions in Irâc. Shâban, A.H. XII. November,
A.D. 633.]

But all was not going on smoothly in Mesopotamia. The absence of Khâlid
and great part of his force encouraged the Persians and their Arab
allies--specially the Beni Taghlib, smarting under the execution of
Ackka--to resume offensive operations. Cacâa, though on the alert,
was able, with the diminished means at his disposal, to do no more
than guard the frontier and protect Anbâr from a threatened inroad.
At this news, Khâlid hastened back; and, having installed Iyâdh in
the government of Hîra, despatched Cacâa across the Euphrates against
the Persians, while he himself appointed a rendezvous at Ain Tamar to
attack the Arabs, for he had vowed that he would visit the Beni Taghlib
in their homes, and crush the viper in its nest. In Mesopotamia the
Persians were routed and their leaders killed; while on the western
border a series of brilliant and well-planned night attacks succeeded
again and again in surprising the Arabs as they slept secure in their
desert homes, where they were cut to pieces, and their families carried
away into dishonour and captivity. Thus Khâlid fulfilled his vow.
Multitudes of women, many of noble birth, were distributed among the
army. A portion of these, with a rich booty, were sent to Medîna; and
one, the daughter of Bodeir, chief of the Beni Taghlib, killed in the
slaughter, was purchased by Aly, and bore him a son and daughter.[142]
For the time, the Bedouin confederacy was dispersed.

[Sidenote: Battle of Firâdh; Persians, Romans, and Bedouins defeated.
Dzul Cáda 15, A.H. XII. Jan. 21, A.D. 634.]

Driving thus the enemy before him, Khâlid came upon the Euphrates,
and, crossing it, reached Firâdh, so far advanced as to touch the
frontier, within sight of a Roman post. There he rested his army on the
river bank during the fast of Ramadhan, and for some weeks after.[143]
The Syrian garrison on the western shore, uneasy at the prolonged
and threatening encampment, made common cause with the neighbouring
Persian outposts, and, joined as well from the desert by Bedouin horse,
advanced an imposing force to the river. They challenged Khâlid to
cross and give them battle. But the wary general bade them rather cross
over to his side, which they did. A long and severe conflict ensued.
The Moslems were victorious, and the cavalry pursuing the fugitives,
cut to pieces an incredible multitude.[144]

[Sidenote: Khâlid’s incognito pilgrimage. Dzul Hijj, A.H. XII.
February, A.D. 634.]

For the moment opposition was crushed both on the part of the Bedouins
and the Persian troops. Khâlid would willingly have attacked Medâin,
but the cautious policy of Abu Bekr withheld him. Besides the districts
secured by treaty with the great landlords of the lower delta, Khâlid
had now extended his rule on both sides of the Euphrates above Anbâr,
and no enemy was anywhere in sight.[145] Things seeming thus to be
quiet, Khâlid formed the singular resolve--the sacred month having
now come round--of making the pilgrimage incognito, unknown even to
his royal master. So, having recruited his army for ten days on the
well-fought field of Firâdh, he gave orders to march slowly and by
easy stages back to Hîra. Then, making as though he remained behind
to bring up the rear-guard, he set out secretly with a small escort
on his pious errand. Without a guide, he traversed the devious desert
route with marvellous sagacity and speed. Having accomplished the rites
of pilgrimage, he retraced his steps with like despatch, and entered
Hîra just as the rear-guard from Firâdh was marching in. So well had
he kept his secret, that the army thought he had been all the while
at Firâdh, and had been journeying slowly back. Even Abu Bekr, who
himself presided at the pilgrimage, was unaware of the presence of his
great general. When, after some time, the surreptitious visit came to
his knowledge, he was much displeased. But the action which he took in
consequence belongs to the succeeding year.[146]

                              CHAPTER XI.


                         A.H. XIII. A.D. 634.

[Sidenote: Khâlid ibn Saîd posted on the Syrian border. A.H. XII. A.D.

The campaign in Syria opened under the auspices of a very different
Khâlid, of the Omeyyad clan,--Khâlid ibn Saîd. Having been one of the
earliest converts, and amongst those driven for refuge to Abyssinia,
he held a high place amongst the confessors of Islam. He had been
appointed by Mahomet to a command in the south, and though forced
to retreat in the troubles which ensued on the Prophet’s death, had
achieved some renown in wresting from Mádekerib’s hands the famous
sword Samsât.[147] Returning from thence, he urged his claim to a
fresh command; and Abu Bekr, yielding to his importunity, and against
the wish of Omar, posted him at Tayma, on the Syrian border, there to
rally the friendly tribes, but, unless attacked, to take no offensive
step. Tidings of the movement alarmed the Romans in that quarter, who
thereupon, summoning the Ghassân and other Syrian tribes, assembled a
large force to protect the border. Khâlid, on this, obtained permission
to advance, but cautiously, and so as to leave no enemy in his rear.
[Sidenote: Discomfits a Roman column.]As he advanced, the Syrians
retired; and, marching onwards, he discomfited a Roman column on the
eastern shore of the Dead Sea.[148] Finding himself in a position
so advanced, and the country in front roused by the inroad, Khâlid
urgently demanded reinforcements from Medîna. [Sidenote: Ikrima sent
to his support;]The troops were just then returning from Yemen; and so
Ikrima, with Dzul Kelâa, a loyal Himyarite chief, followed by his clan,
being the first to appear, were despatched to the north in haste.[149]

[Sidenote: also Amru and Welîd. January, A.D. 634.]

Two other captains of note were also deputed for the support of
Khâlid; these were Amru and Welîd, who had a joint command over the
Beni Codhâa, in the tract of country between Tayma and the Red Sea.
Since the reduction of Dûma, this tract was now comparatively quiet,
and Abu Bekr gave them the option either of remaining where they were,
or engaging in a work ‘better for them, both in this present life,
and in that which is to come.’ Amru, although he had, even before his
deputation to Omân, had the promise from the Prophet of this district,
made answer: ‘Thy servant is but an arrow in the quiver of Islam, and
thou the Archer. It is for thee to pick out the fittest shaft, and
whithersoever thou wilt discharge it.’ So they were despatched, Welîd
to join Khâlid ibn Saîd, and Amru by Ayla to the south of the Holy

[Sidenote: Khâlid ibn Saîd defeated at Marj al Soffar.]

Emboldened by these reinforcements, Khâlid hastened forward to gain
the first laurels of the campaign; and, forgetful of his master’s
injunctions, suffered himself to be decoyed by the Roman general Bahân
towards Damascus, away from his supports. [Sidenote: Moharram, A.H.
XIII. March, A.D. 634.] Unprotected behind, the enemy closed in upon
his rear, and cut off his retreat. He was routed at Marj al Soffar, to
the east of the Sea of Tiberias; his son was slain, and, losing heart,
he fled, leaving his camp in the enemy’s hands, and Ikrima to retrieve
the disaster. That able general rallied the retreating force, and with
a sufficient remnant, including the brave Himyarite band under Dzul
Kelâa, took up a strong position on the frontier, until help should
come. Khâlid continued his flight, but was stayed at Wady al Cora.--‘By
my life!’ wrote the indignant Caliph, ‘thou shalt come no further; thou
pratest bravely when secure, but in battle thou art a coward. I have
no patience with thee!’ And he said to those about him: ‘Truly Aly and
Omar knew the man better than I. Had I listened to them, this mishap
had not been.’ We hear no more of Khâlid ibn Saîd.[151]

[Sidenote: Reinforcements despatched to Syria. Beginning of A.H. XIII.
Spring, A.D. 634.]

In the present emergency, it was fortunate for Abu Bekr that the south
of the peninsula was by this time entirely pacified. He was able,
therefore, as the columns returned from thence, to hurry them off to
Syria, there to retrieve the fortunes of Islam. Four battalions were
now sent forward. First, _Shorahbîl_, returning at that moment
from Irâc, was appointed to supersede Welîd, who shared in the
disgrace of Khâlid’s defeat.[152] Rallying the scattered fragments
of the discomfited force, he carried the greater part back again to
the front, and there took up a position in advance of Ikrima. Then
followed _Yezîd_, son of Abu Sofiân, with a great levy from Mecca,
including many famous chiefs of the Coreish, roused by the Caliph’s
call and the stirring news from Syria. His brother, Muâvia, shortly
after joined him, bringing up the remaining fragments of the runaway
army. _Abu Obeida_, already known to the reader as a trusted
Companion of the Prophet, led a third column, and posted himself near
to _Amru_, who commanded the fourth brigade in the Wady Araba,
to the west of the others. Many of the new troops, especially the
levies from the south, travelled, after the Bedouin fashion, with
their families, ready to settle house and home in the north; for
the marvellous success of the army in Irâc suggested the still more
inviting prospect of establishing themselves in the Land of Promise,
flowing with milk and honey.[153]

[Sidenote: Composition of the Syrian force.]

This force was altogether different in composition from the army of
Irâc. That in the main consisted of Bedouins, who flocked in tribes
or clans to the banners of Mothanna and Khâlid; the men of Mecca and
Medîna were as yet in Irâc comparatively few, for they had returned
in great numbers to their homes after the battle of Yemâma. In the
Syrian army, on the contrary, there are reckoned at least a thousand
_Companions_--men who had seen and conversed with the Prophet;
and of these no fewer than one hundred of the famous Three Hundred of
Bedr. They enrolled themselves at pleasure under whichever chief they
chose; but, once enrolled, they yielded to their leader an implicit
obedience; while he, on his part, consulted their views and wishes,
not only in the set council of war, but generally on all occasions
of importance. Sheikhs of renown, such as Abu Sofiân and Soheil, who
but a few years before, had wielded at will the whole power of Mecca,
and haughty high-born chieftains of Nejd and Yemen, now joined with
alacrity and zeal the column of anyone, however young and inferior,
into whose hands the Caliph was minded to present a banner of command.
And the whole force, thus formed in separate detachments, held itself
at the absolute disposal of the Commander of the Faithful.

[Sidenote: Abu Bekr addresses the columns as they leave Medîna.]

Abu Bekr was duly sensible of the gravity of the enterprise on which
he now embarked--nothing short, in fact, of measuring swords with the
Kaiser. He had thrown down the gauntlet, and in fact was waging war,
at one and the same time, with the potentates of the East and of the
West. The brigades for this service were pitched one after another
on the outlying field of Jorf; and, as each was ready to march, the
Caliph walked a little distance (as nearly two years before he had
done with Osâma) by the side of the mounted leader, and gave him thus
his farewell commands. ‘Profession,’ he would say, ‘is naught without
faith. The merit of a work dependeth on the purpose of the worker. The
reward set forth in the Book of the Lord for such as fight in His ways,
is great. Set this ever before thee and before thy men. But when thou
haranguest them, be brief, for in the multitude of words the foremost
word is lost in the hindermost. So striving, ye will obtain the
prize, riches and glory in the present life, and in the life to come
salvation.’ Then saying ‘Fare ye well,’ he would retrace his steps and
return to his simple home.

[Sidenote: Advance of the four divisions.]

The four battalions now gathered on the Syrian border numbered 30,000,
besides the reserve of 6,000 under Ikrima.[154] In their first advance
these columns met with little to oppose them. [Sidenote: Moharram,
A.H. XIII. March, A.D. 634.] Abu Obeida marched through the Belcâa.
The Arab settlement at Maâb[155] resisted, but, after an unsuccessful
skirmish, submitted to his terms; and he then marched on to Jâbia.
From the south of Palestine a Roman force advanced on the Araba below
the Dead Sea; but it was easily discomfited by Yezîd, who pursued it
to Dâthin, and slew the patrician in command.[156] The four divisions
eventually took up ground in a sort of échelon, threatening the
chief garrisons in the south of Syria. Abu Obeida, advancing towards
Damascus, held a position the furthest east, near to Ikrima and the
scene of the recent disaster. Next came Shorahbîl, overawing the Ghôr,
or depressed valley of the Jordan and Tiberias. Yezîd in the Belcâa,
threatened Bostra; and Amru, in lower Palestine, Hebron. Each of these,
at last, found himself confronted by a Roman force.

[Sidenote: Heraclius sends four battalions to oppose them.]

Heraclius now, at last, was thoroughly aroused. It was but a few years
before that he had gloriously repulsed the Chosroes; but after that
he had relapsed into the inactivity of earlier years. Tidings of the
invasion--a fresh irruption, as it would seem, of barbarians from
the south instead of from the north--awakened him from his lethargy.
Repairing to Hims, he gathered together an immense force, and sent
it, in separate divisions, to stem the advancing tide. The largest of
these, numbering (tradition tells us) 90,000 men, was commanded by his
brother Theodoric.[157] The Moslems were alarmed at the formidable
array, and they consulted how to meet it. Amru urged his brother
generals to gather all into one body.--‘For how,’ he sent to say, ‘can
our scanty numbers, divided and apart, encounter these mighty hosts?’
[Sidenote: The Saracen generals resolve to draw together.]To this they
agreed, and Abu Bekr, who had constant tidings of their progress, was
of the same mind. ‘Draw ye all together,’ was his command, ‘by the
banks of the Yermûk. Ye are the Lord’s host, and shall surely put the
enemy to flight. Such as you shall not be discomfited by reason of
the fewness of your numbers. Tens of thousands are smitten in battle
because of their sins. Wherefore, do ye eschew sin. Let every man stand
close by his fellow. So shall the Lord give you the victory.’

[Sidenote: Romans and Moslems face each other at _Wacûsa_ on the
Yermûk. Safar, A.H. XIII. April, A.D. 634.]

Acting on this counsel, the four columns concentrated to the south
of the Yermûk, near where it was crossed by the military road from
Damascus. The Romans, suiting their tactics to the change, also drew
together, and, under command of Theodoric, pitched their camp on the
northern bank of the river. The place was singular. The Yermûk, taking
its rise in the high lands of the Haurân, and fed by many affluents,
is a large and swift stream. In its lower course it runs, far below
the level of the plain, in a deep and rugged gorge, through which its
waters, rapidly descending to the Ghôr, fall into the Jordan at Gadara,
below the Lake of Galilee. The battle-ground was probably 30 or 40
miles above the junction. Here the stream, fetching a compass, formed
on the northern bank a great plain,--the plain of WACÛSA,
bounded on three sides by a sheer precipice. The remaining side was
hemmed in by a ravine which nearly closed the circuit. A narrow neck
was left for entrance, across which the military road passing, formed
the key of the position. The Romans were tempted by the wide expanse of
level ground, which offered room for their great camp, and was secure
on every side. Advancing, therefore, from the north, they entered this
plain, and spread themselves out upon it. Thereupon the Moslems crossed
the river, and encamped also on the northern bank, upon another plain
adjoining the neck; thus they commanded the road, and threatened the
exit of the enemy. Amru, seeing this, rejoiced and said: ‘Be of good
cheer, my friends; the Romans are shut in, and few that are shut in
escape.’[158] A desultory warfare ensued without any definite result.
The Romans often formed up in force, and as often were driven back; but
the ravine was to them a strong protection, and the Arabs gained no
material advantage. In such indecisive skirmishing two months passed
away, and the armies remained still facing one another.[159]

[Sidenote: Khâlid transferred to Syria.]

Abu Bekr became anxious at the delay, and at the urgent appeals that
came to him for reinforcements. It was not so much the poverty of
numbers, as the lack of fire and military genius that disquieted
him. Abu Obeida was mild and kindly even to timidity; Amru an able
counsellor, but lacking military dash. The mettle of none of the
generals had yet been fully tested; and their independence one
of another, in the absence of a general-in-chief, while it gave
opportunity to each, had a paralysing effect on all. When, therefore,
the cry reached Medîna for help, the Caliph exclaimed: ‘Khâlid, son
of Welîd, is the man for this! By him, with the help of the Lord,
shall the machinations of Satan and the Romans be overthrown.’ The
stealthy pilgrimage of Khâlid had come to his knowledge, and he now
marked his displeasure by indirectly hinting at it in the order for his
deputation to Syria, which ran as follows: ‘Depart and join thyself
unto the armies of the Faithful on the Yermûk, for they are downcast
and forlorn. But beware that thou return not again to do what thou hast
done. The Lord helping, thy removal shall not dishearten thy followers
in Irâc. Go forward then, Father of Suleimân, high resolve and success
attend thee! Fill up the measure of the Lord’s benefits upon mankind,
and He shall fulfil the same unto thee. Have a care lest the world and
the flesh ensnare thee, so that thou stumble and thy works perish. The
Lord doth recompense!’[160]

[Sidenote: Khâlid, with reinforcements from Irâc, sets out for Syria.]

This order at the first disconcerted Khâlid. He set it down to Omar,
who, envying him the conquest of Irâc, would thus, on the eve of
accomplishment, snatch it from his hand. There was too much reason
for the fear; but had Abu Bekr lived, it would have been otherwise,
for his order continued thus:--‘Take with thee half the army, and
leave Mothanna half. [Sidenote: Safar, A.H. XIII. April,
A.D. 634.]When the Lord shall have given thee victory in
Syria, then thou shalt return with the troops to thy command in Irâc.’
Reconciled by this assurance, and loyal to his chief, Khâlid set to
work at once, and began by selecting the ‘Companions’ and flower of
the force to accompany him. Mothanna insisted that the division should
be equal both in kind and number, and protested that he would not be
responsible for the safety of Irâc unless it was effected fairly. He
was conciliated by getting back a goodly portion of the veterans. The
strength of either moiety is put at 9,000.[161] The spring was far
advanced when Khâlid marched. Mothanna accompanied him to the border of
the desert, and, taking a last farewell of the great general whom he
had served so loyally, retraced his steps to Hîra.

[Sidenote: Khâlid marches across the Syrian desert;]

The Syrian desert lay between Khâlid and his new sphere of action. He
could not take the northern route, because of hostile tribes and Roman
garrisons; therefore, turning south by Ain Tamar, he crossed the second
time the Nefûd--that strange and tumbled red sea of sand--to the north
of the mountains of the Beni Tay, and halted at Dûma.[162] Thence he
took the direct road to Syria, along the Wady Sirhân; and surprising
Corâcar, a settlement of the Beni Kelb lying half way, he plundered it.
Keeping the same route, he would in a few days have reached Bostra. But
he feared the Roman garrisons, lest they should check him on that road,
and hinder his junction with the Moslem army. He formed, therefore,
the bold design of striking right across the Syrian desert to the
north, emerging at Tadmor, and so turning the Roman flank. A council
of war was held, and a Bedouin, well versed in the desert, set before
them. ‘There is but one track,’ said the guide, ‘a track so bare, and
for five days so waterless, that even single horsemen shun it, lest
they perish by the way.’ ‘By the same way shall we go,’ was Khâlid’s
prompt resolve; and when expostulated with on the wild and perilous
attempt, he answered that, with Divine aid and firm resolve, nothing
was wild and nothing perilous. The words fired his followers with the
same adventurous zeal, and the project was by acclamation carried.
‘Do this then,’ said the guide, ‘if ye be bent upon the enterprise.
Gather as many camels as ye can; make them thirsty by withholding
water for a while; then let them drink plentifully, and again a second
time; afterwards, bind their ears and slit their lips so that they
ruminate not. So haply may your water last.’ At each stage across the
wilderness, ten such camels were slain for every troop of a hundred
lances. The water drawn from them was mixed with milk for the horses.
The men were given but a single draught each day. On the fifth day a
shudder crept over the host. The supply was at an end. They had reached
the neighbourhood, marked by two hills on the right hand and on the
left, where water should have been, but the signs were wanting, and the
guide was at fault. After casting anxiously about in all directions,
he cried in despair--‘Search for the bramble bush; the bramble should
be here; if ye find it not, we are lost.’ So they searched all around.
At last they came upon a half-concealed root, and raising the Takbîr,
shouted ‘Great is the Lord!’ Rushing to the spot, they dug down into
the ground, and found a plentiful supply of water.[163]

[Sidenote: and effects a junction with the Syrian army. Rabi II. or
Jumâd I. June or July.]

They were now on the Syrian side of the desert, about a hundred miles
to the east of Damascus. Early next morning, Khâlid fell on the
astonished tribes in the neighbourhood, scattering terror all around,
and securing submission either willingly or by the sword. Tadmor, after
a slight resistance, yielded. Then fetching a circuit, he skirted
the Haurân within sight of Damascus, and emerged at Adzraât. Having
achieved this marvellous journey in the course of a few weeks, and
reopened communications with the south, he sent tidings to Abu Bekr of
his safety, with the Fifth of the spoil he had taken by the way. He was
now close to the combined army of the Moslems, which still lay inactive
on the Yermûk; and he effected a junction with them in the month of
June, or perhaps July.[164]

[Sidenote: The two armies compared.]

Fresh reinforcements from the Emperor, under the renowned Armenian
general Bahân (the same who discomfited the other Khâlid), had just
arrived and raised the flagging spirit of the Romans. Their army, we
are told, numbered 240,000 men, of whom a great body are stigmatised as
felon-prisoners released for the occasion, and others are said (like
those of the Persians) to have been chained together that they might
not run away, or in token that they were bound to die. The idea, no
doubt, is fanciful and cast in the contemptuous style of Mussulman
tradition. But so much we may readily accept, that the army with which
Heraclius sought to stay the tide of Saracen invasion, must needs
have been very large.[165] We may also believe that though devoid of
union, loyalty, and valour, it was well appointed, and elated by its
achievements in the Persian war, of which many veterans were still
present in the ranks. In discipline and combined movement, and in the
weight and style of his equipment, the Roman, no doubt, surpassed the
Arab. But the armament of the Roman did not so greatly excel as to
give him a material advantage. It had no analogy, for example, with
the superiority which in these days crushes the barbarian before the
sanguinary appliances of modern art and science. It is strange to
reflect how a single Gatling might have changed the day and driven
Islam back to wither and die in the land of its birth. On the other
hand, the Bedouin horse excelled in celerity and dash. Their charge, if
light, was galling, and so rapidly delivered that, before the surprise
was recovered from, the enemy might be out of sight. The Romans, it is
true, had themselves Bedouin auxiliaries, as numerous, perhaps, as
the whole Moslem army. But the spirit of the two was widely different.
The fealty of the Syrian Arab was lax and loose. Christian in name,
the yoke of his faith sat (as it still sits) lightly on him. Indeed,
throughout the empire, Christianity was eaten up of strife and rancour.
With Bahân came a troop of monks and bishops, who, bearing banners,
waving aloft their golden crosses, and shouting that the faith was
in jeopardy, sought thus to rouse the passion of the army. But the
passion roused was too often the scowl of hatred. Bitter schisms rent
the Church, and the cry of the Orthodox for help would strike a far
different chord than that of sympathy in the Eutychian and Nestorian
breast. Lastly, the social and ancestral associations of the Syrian
Bedouin, while alien from his Byzantine masters, were in full accord
with his brethren from Arabia; and of this instinctive feeling, the
invaders knew well how to take advantage. With these lukewarm and
disunited multitudes, compare now the Moslem force in its virgin
vigour, bound together as one man, and fired with a wild fanatical zeal
to ‘fight in the ways of the Lord,’ and so win at once heavenly merit
and worldly fortune;--their prize, the spoil of the enemy, and the fair
maidens of Syria ravished from their homes; or, should they fall in
battle, the reward of the martyr, heaven opened and beautiful virgins,
black-eyed Houries, beckoning, with all the wanton graces of paradise,
to their warm embrace.[166] Of warriors nerved by this strange
combination of earth and heaven, of the flesh and of the spirit, of
the incentives both of faith and rapine, of fanatical devotion to the
Prophet and deathless passion for the sex, ten might chase a hundred
half-hearted Romans. The forty thousand Moslems were stronger far than
the two hundred and forty thousand of the enemy.

[Sidenote: The Moslems paralysed by separate commands.]

The Roman army, swollen by the battalions of Bahân, and spreading over
the plain, began to overlap the Moslems and force them back into a
straitened place. But with Khâlid’s energy, things soon began to mend.
In a series of encounters, the enemy, being worsted, retired behind
the intrenched ravine. But in other ways the situation remained the
same. The five battalions of the Moslem host were separately pitched;
the conduct of public prayer (mark of supreme command) was separate
in each; the attacks were separately made; and so, from want of
combination, they failed in delivering a decisive blow. The issue hung
fire. A month passed, and Khâlid became impatient. To secure success,
command must be vested in a single hand. He saw the fault, and set
himself to remedy it.

[Sidenote: Khâlid obtains supreme command for a day.]

Opportunity soon offered. Unusual preparation and busy movement on
the Roman side led to a council of the Moslem chiefs, and Khâlid laid
his views before them. The Caliph, it was true, had given to each
a separate and distinct command to meet the separate Roman armies.
But the field had changed, and Abu Bekr would surely now approve the
assumption of absolute command by a single general. The merit in the
Caliph’s eyes would be the same for all; the merit in the sight of the
Lord, the same. ‘Come now,’ he added, to disarm their jealousy, ‘and we
shall vary the supreme command, each taking it in succession for the
day, and, if ye will, let the first be mine.’ The success of Khâlid in
Irâc added weight to his words. The proposal thus adroitly made was
unanimously agreed to. The Chiefs expected that, when the occasion
passed, the old system would be reverted to. But the change, once made,
stood good; and the supreme command in Syria was thenceforward vested
in a single hand.[167]

[Sidenote: A Roman general gained over by Khâlid.]

Meanwhile Khâlid had sown dissension in the enemy’s camp, and gained
over at least one of their leading officers. The facts are obscure,
and the episode, as told by tradition, strange. But so much appears,
that a general, Jâreja by name, perhaps of Arab blood and imbued with
Bedouin sympathies, was persuaded by Khâlid to embrace his cause, and
to promise that, at the decisive moment, he would leave the Roman and
join the Moslem side.[168]

[Sidenote: Moslem army arranged in battalions.]

The powers conferred on Khâlid were soon put to the test, and that to
good purpose. His first care was to organise the army as a whole. ‘The
Romans,’ he said, ‘are a vast and imposing multitude, and we but few to
look at. Now no disposition swelleth numbers to the eye like that of
separate battalions.’ So he divided the troops into forty battalions,
each about a thousand strong and under a trusted leader.[169] These
he arranged so that one half formed the centre, under Abu Obeida. Ten
battalions were then assigned to each wing, of which one was led by
Amru and Shorahbîl; the other by Yezîd, whose aged father, Abu Sofiân,
was bid to go from troop to troop, and rouse their ardour by martial

[Sidenote: The Roman army advances;]

It was soon manifest that the Byzantine captains were preparing to
deliver a general and decisive charge. Issuing from their defences,
they rolled up in dense volume along both sides of the plain. A
bystander, gazing at the moving field, exclaimed, ‘How many the Romans,
how few the Moslems!’ ‘Nay,’ cried Khâlid, ‘say rather “How many the
Moslems, how few the Romans”; for, if ye count aright, numbers wax by
the help of the Lord, but when He withdraweth His face, then they wane.
I would that the Romans were double the number they now appear, if I
had but under me my good Arab steed!’--for the hoofs of his favourite
bay had been worn down by the rapid marching from Irâc. Still the
Romans kept rolling up in dense columns. The fate of Syria depended on
the day.

[Sidenote: but is kept in check.]

As the enemy drew near, Khâlid called upon Ikrima, who had brought
his reserve upon the field, and Cacâa with his warriors from Irâc,
to advance and check them. Just then a messenger rode up in haste,
carrying a despatch from Medîna. To the inquiry of those who flocked
around, he answered: ‘All is well, and reinforcements on the way.’ But
in Khâlid’s ear he whispered a secret message, and he delivered a
letter which, hastily glanced at, Khâlid slipped into his quiver. Then,
bidding the messenger keep close by him throughout the day, he rode
forth to meet Jâreja.

[Sidenote: Battle of Wacûsa, on the Yermûk. Rajab, A.H. XIII. Sept.,
A.D. 634.]

The defection of this general was a calamity to the Romans, but at
the first it caused an unexpected issue. He had probably a troop, or
escort, which followed him, as he rode forth towards the Arab general;
but whether or no, a Roman battalion, mistaking his movement for a
desperate attack upon the enemy, advanced to his support with such
an energetic charge that the Moslem front was broken and thrown into
confusion. Ikrima stood firm. He who in the days of Ignorance had
measured arms even with the Prophet of the Lord, should he flee before
the infidel! ‘Who now,’ he cried, ‘will join me in the covenant of
death?’ Four hundred, with his own son, and the hero Dhirâr, took the
fatal pledge.[171] He charged, and the battalion which had created the
surprise, bewildered at the treachery of Jâreja, fell back. The ground
now clear, Khâlid ordered the whole line to move forward. The Romans
too advanced, and the charge was met on both sides with the sword.
All day the battle raged. Fortune varied; and the carnage amongst the
Moslems, as well as the Romans, was great. Ikrima’s gallant company,
holding their ground firm as a rock in front of Khâlid’s tent, bore
the brunt of the day; they were slain or disabled almost to a man. So
fierce were the Arabs, that even the women joined their husbands and
brothers in the field; and Huweiria, daughter of Abu Sofiân, inheriting
the spirit of her mother Hind, was severely wounded in an encounter
with the enemy.[172]

[Sidenote: The Moslem victory.]

Towards evening the Romans began to falter. Khâlid, quickly perceiving
that their horse were declining from the infantry, launched his centre
as a wedge between the two. The cavalry, with nothing behind them
but the precipice, made a fierce charge for their lives; the Moslem
troops opened to let them pass, and so they gained the open country
and never again appeared. The Moslems then turned right and left upon
the remaining force cooped up between the ravine and the chasm; and,
as they drove all before them, the Romans on both hands ‘were toppled
over the bank even as a wall is toppled over.’ The battle drew on
into the night, but opposition was now in vain. Those that escaped
the sword were hurled in a moving mass over the edge into the yawning
gulf. ‘One struggling would draw ten others with him, the free as well
as chained.’ And so, in dire confusion and dismay, the whole multitude
perished. The fatal chasm YACÛSA engulfed, we are told, 100,000
men.[173] Ficâr, the Roman general, and his fellow-captains, unable to
bear the sight, sat down, drew their togas around them, and, hiding
their faces in despair and shame, awaited thus their fate.

[Sidenote: Its importance.]

Morning found the Moslems in silent possession of the great plain. They
flocked into the Roman entrenchment, and Khâlid took possession of
Theodoric’s royal tent. The camp and its rich equipage yielded a booty
of 1,500 pieces to each horseman. More than this, the fearful fate of
the army struck such terror into the Byzantine court and the people
of the land, that the fate of Syria was sealed. Unlike the Persian
campaign, the opposition that remained was poor and feeble.

[Sidenote: Heavy loss.]

The victory was purchased at a heavy cost. Three thousand were buried
on the field, besides a great multitude wounded; and among the fallen
we read many distinguished names. Of Ikrima’s forlorn hope few
survived. The famous Dhirâr, badly wounded, recovered to signalise
himself on other fields. But Ikrima and his son both sank under their
wounds. In the morning, when near their end, they were carried to the
royal tent of Khâlid. He laid the head of the father on his breast, and
of the son upon his thigh, tenderly wiped their faces and moistened
their lips with water. And as they passed away, he kept fondly saying:
‘Alas, alas! the father and the son; who would have thought of a
martyr’s death for both!’

[Sidenote: Khâlid deposed by Omar.]

But Khâlid was no longer in command. The messenger in the field had
whispered in his ear the news of Abu Bekr’s death; and the letter which
he then slipt into his quiver brought the new Caliph’s order that
Khâlid should deliver up command into the hands of Abu Obeida.[174]

[Sidenote: Date of the battle.]

The battle was fought in the end of August, or the beginning of
September, A.D. 634.[175]

Before narrating the sequel of this great victory, we must turn for a
little to what was passing elsewhere.

                             CHAPTER XII.

                          OF REINFORCEMENTS.

                      Moharram--Jumâd, A.H. XIII.
                       March--August, A.D. 634.

[Sidenote: Mothanna attacked by the Persians.]

After bidding Khâlid farewell, Mothanna returned to Hîra, and made the
best disposition of his small force that he could, so as to strengthen
his defences towards the Persian capital. That the position was not
altogether secure is shown by the precaution of Khâlid, just before his
departure, in sending the sick and infirm with the women and children
home, for the time, to Arabia. A new prince, Shahrîrân, had succeeded
to the throne; and he now thought to expel the invaders by sending an
army under Hormuz, 10,000 strong, against them.[176] Mothanna, having
timely warning, immediately called in his outlying garrisons, but, with
every exertion, the force brought together was dangerously small in
comparison with the Persian host. The king, confident of victory, wrote
to Mothanna an insulting letter that ‘he was about to drive him away
with an army of fowl-men and swine-herds.’ Mothanna answered: ‘Thou
art either a braggart or a liar. If what thou sayest be true, then
blessed be the Lord that hath reduced thee to such defenders!’ Having
despatched this reply, he advanced boldly to meet Hormuz. Leaving
Hîra, the little force passed under the dreary ruin of Birs Nimrud,
and crossing the Euphrates, encamped to the north of the vast mound
which marks the site of Babylon. [Sidenote: Battle of Babylon. A.H.
XIII. Summer, A.D. 634.] There, some fifty miles from the capital,
amid a network of canals watering the country (now a wilderness or a
swamp), he chose the battle-ground; and, placing his two brothers in
charge of either wing, himself at the head of the centre, awaited the
attack of Hormuz. The Persian line was preceded by a war-elephant,
which threw the Arab ranks into confusion, and for a while paralysed
their action. Mothanna, followed by an adventurous band, surrounded the
great creature, pierced it in a mortal part, and so brought it to the
ground. Deprived of this adventitious help, the enemy gave way before
the fierce onslaught of the Arabs, who pursued the fugitives across the
plain of Dura to the very gates of Medâin. The praises of ‘the hero of
the elephant’ have been handed down in Arabian verse.[177]

[Sidenote: Mothanna asks Abu Bekr for reinforcements.]

Shahrîrân did not long survive the defeat. His son, succeeding him,
was killed in a rebellion caused by his attempt to give Azarmîdokht, a
princess of the royal blood, in marriage to a favourite minister. The
princess, saved by loyal hands from the dishonour, succeeded to the
throne. From a court weakened thus by continual change and treachery,
there was little, it might be thought, to fear. But Mothanna had to
guard a frontier of great extent, and for the task his army was far
too small. The Moslem conquests stretched from the lower Tigris to the
desert, and from the Persian Gulf all up the banks of the Euphrates to
Anbâr. The people were not with him, and the Bedouins of Mesopotamia
were distinctly against him. Victories might be won, but they could not
be followed up. The position, with so small a force, was clearly full
of risk. Accordingly, Mothanna urged upon the Caliph the pressing need
of reinforcements. He also pointed out how they might be met without
stint of number. ‘Remove the embargo,’ he wrote, ‘from the apostate but
now repentant tribes; they will flock to the war, and, in this crusade
against the Persians, none will be more brave or eager.’ Answer being
long delayed, Mothanna became anxious, and ventured to Medîna, there
to urge his suit in person.[178] He found Abu Bekr on his death-bed.
The aged Caliph knew that his end was near at hand; but his mind was
clear, and, on hearing the statement of Mothanna, he at once perceived
the urgency of the case. [Sidenote: Abu Bekr on his death-bed desires
Omar to order a levy.]‘Call Omar to me,’ he said (for he had already
declared him successor); and when Omar came, he addressed him thus in
earnest tone:--‘Command a levy for Mothanna. Tarry not. If I die, as
I think, this day, wait not till the evening; if I linger till night,
wait not till the morning. Let not sorrow for me divert you from the
service of Islam and the business of your Lord. Ye saw what I did
myself when the Prophet died (and there could be no greater sorrow for
mankind than that); truly if grief had stayed me then from girding my
loins in the cause of the Lord and of his Prophet, the Faith had fared
badly; the flame of rebellion had surely kindled in the city. And, list
thee, Omar! when the Lord shall have given thee victory in Syria, then
send back to Irâc its army; for they are the proper garrison thereof,
and fittest to administer it.’

[Sidenote: Omar accepts the charge.]

Omar was touched by the delicacy of his last words, and the allusion
they contained without expressing it. ‘For,’ said he, ‘Abu Bekr knew
that it grieved me when he gave the command to Khâlid; therefore he
bade me to send back his army to Irâc, but forbore to name the name
of Khâlid.’ He listened attentively to the dying Caliph’s words, and
promised to fulfil them.

                             CHAPTER XIII.

                    SICKNESS AND DEATH OF ABU BEKR.

                Jumâd II., A.H. XIII. August, A.D. 634.

[Sidenote: Abu Bekr presides over the pilgrimage at Mecca. Dzul Hijj,
A.H. XIII. March, A.D. 634.]

In the first year of his Caliphate, Abu Bekr was hindered by the
engrossing work of repressing apostasy and rebellion, from being
present at the yearly pilgrimage in Mecca. But next year he presided
at the pilgrimage himself. As the party entered the vale of Mecca,
the young men hastened to tell his father, who, blind from great age,
was seated at his door. On his son’s approach, he arose and stood up
to greet him, Abu Bekr made his camel to kneel down at the threshold,
and alighting, embraced his father, who was shedding tears of delight,
and kissed him between the eyes. Attâb, the governor, Soheil, and
the other great men of Mecca, approached and shook the Caliph by the
hand. Then they did obeisance to his father, who said: ‘These be our
nobles; honour them, my son, and make much of them.’ ‘Make much of
them,’ answered Abu Bekr, ‘that I do; but (mindful of his Master’s
teaching), as for honour, there is none save that which cometh from the
Lord alone.’ After bathing, he went forth in pilgrim garb, to kiss the
Black Stone, and encompass the Holy House. The people crowded round
him; and as they made mention of the Prophet, Abu Bekr wept. It was but
two years since Mahomet had been amongst them, celebrating the same
rites, and how much of danger and deliverance had come to pass in this
short space! And so they mourned his loss. At midday, he again went
through the ceremonies of the Káaba; then, sitting down beneath the
shadow of the Hall of Council,[179] he commanded the citizens that, if
any had complaint to make or justice to demand, he should speak. All
were silent; so he praised the people and their governor. Then he arose
and celebrated the midday prayer. After that he sat down again for a
little, and bade them all Farewell. Then he turned to go, and departed
for Medîna.[180]

[Sidenote: Abu Bekr’s sickness. Jumâd II., A.H. XIII. August, A.D. 634.]

During the summer, Abu Bekr was busied with reinforcements for the
Syrian campaign. Born three years after the era of the Elephant,[181]
he was now over threescore years of age; but, simple and temperate in
his habits, still hale and vigorous. In the autumn, happening to bathe
incautiously on a cold day, he was seized with a fever, which laid him
low and obliged him to make over the presidency at public prayer to
Omar.[182] When the illness had lasted for a fortnight, his friends,
coming daily to ask after him, at last became anxious, and said:
‘Shall we send for the physician?’ ‘He[183] hath been to me already,’
answered Abu Bekr. ‘And what said he?’ ‘He saith to me _I am about
to do that with thee which I purpose to do_.’ So they understood
his meaning and were silent. Aware thus that his end was not far, he
made preparation for a successor. His choice was fixed on Omar; but
willing to fortify his own conviction by the sense of others, he first
consulted Abd al Rahmân, who praised Omar as the fittest man, but
withal inclined to be severe.--‘Which,’ responded the dying Caliph, ‘is
because he saw me soft and tender-hearted; when himself the Master, he
will forego much of what thou sayest. I have watched him narrowly. If I
were angry with one, he would intercede in his behalf; if over lenient,
then he would be severe.’ Othmân, too, confirmed his choice. ‘What
is hidden of Omar,’ he said, ‘is better than that which doth appear.
There is not his equal amongst us all.’[184] Talha, on the other hand,
expostulated: ‘If we have suffered so much from Omar whilst thou wast
yet with us to temper his severity, what will it be when thou art gone
to thy Lord, there to answer for having left His people to the care of
so hard a master?’ ‘Set me up,’ cried the Caliph, much excited; ‘dost
thou seek to frighten me? I swear that when I meet my Lord, I will say
to Him, “I have appointed as ruler over Thy people him that is the best
amongst them.”’

[Sidenote: Abu Bekr appoints Omar his successor.]

Thereupon Abu Bekr called for Othmân and dictated an ordinance
appointing Omar his successor. He fainted while it was being written
down. On recovering, he bade Othmân to read it over. When he had heard
it all, he was satisfied, and praised the Lord; ‘for,’ said he, ‘I
saw thee apprehensive lest, if in the swoon I had passed away, then
the people had been left in doubt.’ Upon this, he desired that the
ordinance should be read in the hearing of the citizens, who had
assembled in the court of the Great Mosque. Omar himself was present,
and hushed the noise, that they might hear. Then, desiring to obtain
the assent of the people, the dying Caliph bade his wife Asma raise him
up to the window (for the Caliph’s house looked out upon the court);
so she bore him, in her beautifully tattooed arms, to the window, from
whence, with a great effort, he called out: ‘Are ye satisfied with him
whom I have appointed over you? It is none of mine own kin, but Omar,
son of Khattâb. Verily I have done my best to choose the fittest.
Wherefore, ye will obey him loyally.’ The people answered with one
voice, ‘Yea, we will obey.’[185]

[Sidenote: His death, 21st Jumâd II., A.H. XIII. August 22, A.D. 634.]

To the end the mind of Abu Bekr remained clear and vigorous. On the
last day of his life, he gave audience, as we have seen, to Mothanna,
and, grasping the critical state of affairs, commanded Omar to raise,
with all despatch, a levy for Irâc. During his illness he recited these
verses on the vanity of life:

   There is none that owneth herds or camels but must leave them
   to his heir; And whosoever taketh spoil, one day he shall be
   spoiled of the same. Every traveller, wheresoe’er he wander and
   however far, returneth; Excepting only the pathway of death,
   from which there is no return.

At another time one repeated verses from a heathen poet supposed to be
appropriate to the occasion. Abu Bekr was displeased, and said: ‘Not
so; say rather (and he quoted from a passage of the Corân relating
to death and judgment)--_Then the agony of death shall come in
truth_. _This, O man, is what thou soughtest to avoid._’[186]

His last act was to summon Omar to his bedside, and, as his dying
charge, to counsel him, which he did at great length, to temper
hardness and severity with mildness and moderation. Shortly after, he
sank, and feeling the agony approach, breathed his last with these
words: ‘Lord, make me to die a true believer. Take me to join the
blessed ones on high!’[187]

[Sidenote: and burial.]

Abu Bekr died on August 22, A.D. 634, having reigned two years
and three months.[188] His body was laid out, in pursuance of his own
wish, by the loving hands of Asma, and of Abd al Rahmân, his son; and
he was wound in the same clothes in which he died; ‘for,’ said he, ‘new
clothes befit the living, but old the mouldering body.’[189] The same
Companions that bore the Prophet’s bier bore also that of Abu Bekr;
and they laid him in the same grave, the Caliph’s head resting by his
Master’s shoulder. Omar performed the funeral service, praying, as was
customary, over the bier. The funeral procession had not far to go; it
had only to cross the area in front of the Great Mosque; for Abu Bekr
died in the house appointed for him by Mahomet opposite his own, and
looking out, like it, upon the open court of the Sanctuary.[190]

[Sidenote: _Abu Bekr’s character._ Simple life at Al Sunh.]

During the greater part of his Caliphate, he had occupied that house.
For the first six months, indeed, after Mahomet’s death, he continued
to live chiefly, as he had done before, at Al Sunh, a suburb of Upper
Medîna. Here he inhabited a simple dwelling made of palm stems, with
the family of Habîba, the wife whom he married when he came to Medîna,
and who was with child when he died, and bore him a daughter shortly
after. Every morning he rode or walked to the Great Mosque, where
Mahomet had lived and ruled, for the discharge of the business of the
State, and to perform the daily prayers, Omar presiding in his absence.
For the more important service of Friday, when a speech or sermon was
delivered, he stayed at home to dye his hair and beard, and dress more
carefully; and so did not appear till the time of midday prayer. In
this primitive home, as elsewhere, he preserved the severe simplicity
of early life, and even fed and milked the goats of the household. At
the first also he continued to maintain himself by merchandise; but
finding it interfere with the proper burdens of the State, he consented
to forego all other occupation, and to receive a yearly allowance of
six thousand dirhems for his household charges.[191]

[Sidenote: Removes his dwelling to the Great Mosque.]

Finding Al Sunh at an inconvenient distance from the Great Mosque,
where, as in the time of Mahomet, the affairs of the kingdom continued
to be transacted, he transferred his residence, and with it the
Treasury, thither. The Exchequer of Islam was in those days but a
simple one. It needed neither guard nor office of account. The tithes
were given to the poor, or spent on equipage and arms. The spoil of
war, and gold and silver from the mines,[192] or elsewhere, were all
distributed as soon as received, or on the following morning.[193] All
shared alike, the recent convert and the veteran, male and female,
bond and free. As a claimant on the Moslem treasury, every believing
Arab was his brother’s equal. When urged to recognise precedence in
the faith as a ground of preference, he would reply, ‘That is for the
Lord. He will fulfil the reward of such as have excelled, in the world
to come. These gifts are but an accident of the present life.’ After
his death, Omar had the treasury opened; and they found therein but
a solitary golden piece, which had slipped out of the bags; so they
lifted up their voices and wept, and blessed his memory. His conscience
troubled him for having taken even what he did by way of stipend from
the people’s money; on his death-bed, therefore, he gave command that
certain lands, his private property, should be sold, and a sum equal to
all that he had received refunded.

[Sidenote: Mild and gentle disposition.]

In disposition Abu Bekr was singularly mild and gentle. Omar used to
say that there was no man for whom the people would more readily have
laid down their life. They gave him the sobriquet of ‘the Sighing,’
because of his tender-heartedness. Excepting the solitary case in which
he committed a traitor-brigand to the flames, no single act of cruelty
stands against him; and for that he expressed his sorrow. It was one
of the three things, he used to say, which he would wish undone. The
others were, that he had pardoned Asháth, who deserved death; and that
when he transferred Khâlid to Syria, he had not at the same time sent
Omar to Irâc. ‘Then,’ said he, ‘I should have stretched out mine arms,
both the right and the left, in the ways of the Lord.’[194]

[Sidenote: His wives and family.]

Unlike his Master, he contented himself with but few wives. He had
married two at Mecca before his conversion. On his arrival at Medîna
he married the daughter of a Citizen, and, later on, Asma, the widow
of Jáfar. By all of these he left issue. There is no mention of any
other wives, nor of any slave-girls in his harem.[195] Of his children,
he loved Ayesha the best, and, in proof of special affection, had
given her a property for her own. On his death-bed, this troubled his
conscientious spirit, and he said to her, ‘I wish thee, my daughter,
to return it, that it may be divided with the rest of the inheritance
amongst you all, not forgetting the one yet unborn.’[196] His father
survived him six month, reaching the great age of ninety-seven.’[197]

[Sidenote: Simplicity and diligence in the affairs of state.]

At his court, Abu Bekr maintained the same simple and frugal life as
Mahomet. Guards and servitors there were none, nor anything approaching
the pomp and circumstance of state. He was diligent in business. He
leaned upon Omar as his counsellor, whose judgment (excepting in a few
cases in which it was warped by prejudice) had so great weight with
him, that he might be said to have shared in the government. Abu Bekr
never spared himself, and many incidents are related of the manner
in which he descended to the minutest things. Thus, he would sally
forth by night to seek for any destitute or oppressed person; and Omar
found him one night inquiring into the affairs of a poor blind widow,
whose case Omar himself had gone forth to look after. The department
of justice was made over to Omar, but for a whole year, we are told,
hardly two suitors came before him. The Seal of state bore the legend,
_God the best of Potentates_.[198] The despatches were chiefly
indited by Aly; and Abu Bekr made use also of Zeid (the amanuensis of
the Prophet and compiler of the Corân) and of Othmân, or of any other
penman who happened to be at hand.[199] In the choice of his agents
for high office or command, he was absolutely free from nepotism or
partiality, and was wise and discerning in his estimate of character.

But he had not Omar’s strength or decision; nor was his sense of
justice so keen and stern. [Sidenote: Not so strong, or sternly just,
as Omar.]This is illustrated in the matter of the two Khâlids. From
the one--Khâlid ibn Saîd, though warned by Omar and Aly, he hesitated
to withhold a command; and the disaster in Syria was the consequence.
On the other hand, by refusing to degrade Khâlid, ‘the Sword of God,’
for injustice and cruelty and the scandal of taking to wife his
victim’s widow, he became indirectly responsible for his acts. Yet to
this unscrupulous agent it is due, more than to any other, that Islam
survived and triumphed. But Abu Bekr was not wanting in firmness when
the occasion demanded; for example, the despatch of Osâma’s army, and
the defence of Medîna against the apostate tribes, when he stood almost
alone and all around was dark, showed a boldness and steadfastness of
purpose, which, more than anything else, contributed to turn the tide
of rebellion and apostasy.

[Sidenote: Faith in Mahomet the secret of his strength.]

The secret of Abu Bekr’s strength was faith in Mahomet. He would say:
‘Call me not _the Caliph of the Lord_: I am but _the Caliph of
the Prophet of the Lord_.’ The question with him ever was, What did
Mahomet command? or, What now should he have done? From this he never
swerved one hair’s-breadth. And so it was that he crushed apostasy, and
laid secure the foundations of Islam, His reign was short, but, after
Mahomet himself, there is no one to whom the Faith is more beholden.

[Sidenote: Abu Bekr’s belief in Mahomet; presumptive evidence of
Mahomet’s own sincerity.]

For this reason, and because his belief in the Prophet is itself a
strong evidence of the sincerity of Mahomet himself, I have dwelt at
some length upon his life and character. Had Mahomet been from the
first a conscious impostor, he never could have won the faith and
friendship of a man who was not only sagacious and wise, but simple
and sincere. Abu Bekr had no thought of personal aggrandisement.
Endowed with sovereign and irresponsible power, he used it simply for
the interests of Islam and the people’s good. He was too shrewd to be
himself deceived, and too honest himself to act the part of a deceiver.

                             CHAPTER XIV.


              Jumâd II., A.H. XIII.--Moharram, A.H. XIV.
                   August, A.D. 634–March, A.D. 635.

[Sidenote: Accession of Omar.]

On the morrow after Abu Bekr’s death, Omar ascended the pulpit, and
addressed the people assembled in the Great Mosque. ‘The Arabs,’ he
said, ‘are like a rebellious camel obliged to follow its driver, and it
pertaineth to the driver to see which way he leadeth the same. By the
Lord of the Káaba! even thus will I guide you in the way that ye should

[Sidenote: His first two acts.]

The first act of the new Caliph was to issue the despatch, with which
the reader is already acquainted, deposing Khâlid. The second was,
in fulfilment of Abu Bekr’s dying behest, to raise a fresh levy for
Mothanna. Leaving the former, we turn for the present to the latter.

[Sidenote: Fresh levies sent to Irâc under Abu Obeid.]

A new standard was planted in the court of the Great Mosque, and
urgent proclamation made that soldiers for the campaign in Irâc were
to rally round it. Then followed the oath of fealty to Omar, which was
taken by all who were in and around the city, and not completed for
three days. Meanwhile, so great a fear of Persian pomp and prowess had
fallen on the people, that none responded to the military call. Seeing
this, Mothanna harangued them in a stirring speech. He told them of
his victories, the endless plunder, the captives, male and female, and
the fruitful lands which they had already spoiled the enemy of; ‘and
the Lord,’ he added, ‘waiteth but to give the rest into your hands.’
Warmed by his discourse, and stung by the indignant invectives of Omar,
men began at last to offer. The first who came forward was Abu Obeid, a
citizen of Tâyif; and then numbers crowded to the standard. When they
had reached a thousand, those around began to say to Omar: ‘Now choose
thee one of the chiefest among them to be Ameer--a veteran Companion
of the Prophet,--Refugee, or Citizen.’[200] ‘That I will not,’ said
Omar. ‘Wherein doth the glory of the Companions consist but in this,
that they were the first to rally round the Prophet? But now ye are
backward, and come not to the help of the Lord. Such as be ready for
the burden, whether it be light or whether it be heavy, these have
the better claim. Verily I will give the command to none but to him
that first came forth.’ Then turning to Abu Obeid: ‘I appoint thee,’
he said, ‘over this force, because thou wast the first to offer; and
_in eagerness for battle is the Arab’s glory_.’ Nevertheless, he
earnestly enjoined upon him ever to take counsel with the Companions of
the Prophet, and to associate them with him in the conduct of affairs.
So the force started for Irâc. At the same time Omar removed the ban
against the employment of the once apostate tribes; and bade Abu Obeid
to summon to his standard all, without distinction, who since the
apostasy had made a good profession. Mothanna, with a lightened heart,
hastened back in advance of Abu Obeid, and returned to Hîra after the
absence of a month.

[Sidenote: Rustem rouses the Persians against the invaders.]

During this period, while Mothanna was away, further changes were
transpiring at the unhappy court of Persia. Prince and princess
succeeded one another in the midst of bloodshed and rebellion, till at
last a royal lady named Burân summoned Rustem, a general of renown,
from Khorasan, and by his aid established herself as Regent upon the
throne.[201] Rustem was an astrologer, and knew from the conjunction
of the planets the impending fate of Persia. When asked why then he
had linked himself with a doomed cause, he answered that it was the
love of pomp and riches. Amidst such silly tales, of which there is no
lack, we may discern the lineaments of a prince brave in the field,
but proud and overweening. Such was the man whose authority Burân now
proclaimed supreme. His energy was soon felt. The nobles rallied round
him; the great landholders were incited to rise against the invaders,
and Mesopotamia, with the Sawâd and delta, speedily cast off the Moslem
yoke. Two columns were despatched from Medâin, one under Jabân to cross
the Euphrates and advance on Hîra; the other under Narsa to occupy
Kaskar between the Euphrates and Tigris. The people flocked to their
standard, and the position of the Moslems again became precarious.

Mothanna, thus threatened, called in his forces, but they were too
few to oppose the enemy; so he abandoned Hîra, and falling back on
Khaffân, by the border of the desert, on the road to Medîna, there
awaited Abu Obeid. [Sidenote: Abu Obeid gains a victory over the
Persians. Shaban, A.H. XIII. October, A.D. 634.] But he had to wait
some time. Swelled by reinforcements from the tribes by the way, and,
burdened by their families, it was a month before the army made its
appearance there. After a few days’ repose at Khaffân, Abu Obeid took
command of the combined force, and, attacking Jabân, put him to flight.
Then crossing the Euphrates, he surprised Narsa, who was strongly
posted at a royal date-grove near to Kaskar, and, routing his army,
took possession of his camp, with much spoil. Great store of dates
fell into their hands, of a rare kind, reserved for royal use. These
were distributed among the army, and became the common food of all.
With the royal Fifth, a portion of them was sent to Medîna: ‘Behold,’
wrote Abu Obeid to his Master, ‘the food wherewith the Lord hath fed
us, eaten heretofore only by the kings of Persia. We desired that
thou shouldest see the same with thine own eyes, taste it with thine
own lips, and praise the Lord for his grace and goodness in giving us
royal food to eat.’ Jalenûs, another general, coming up too late to the
help of Narsa, was also discomfited; and the unfortunate delta, prey
to alternate conquest and defeat, began again to acknowledge Moslem
sway. The neighbouring chiefs brought in their tribute, and, in proof
of loyalty, made a feast of good things for Abu Obeid. But he declined
to partake of it, unless shared equally with his soldiers. A further
supply of the same delicacies was therefore furnished, and the whole
army sat down with him to the repast. His determination to taste none
of the Persian viands but in company with the rank and file of his men
redounded greatly to his popularity.[202]

[Sidenote: Bahmân sent with great army against Abu Obeid. A.H.
XIII. Autumn A.D. 634.]

Enraged at the defeat of his generals, Rustem assembled a still larger
force under the warrior Bahmân.[203] To mark the gravity of the
crisis, the great banner of the empire, made of panthers’ skins, was
unfurled,[204] and an array of war elephants accompanied the army.
Jalenûs, too, was sent back to fight, under the threat that if again he
fled before the enemy, he would be put to death. Before this imposing
host, the Arabian army fell back, and, recrossing the Euphrates, took
up ground on the right bank. Bahmân, following, encamped at Coss
Nâtick, on the opposite shore. The field of battle was not far from
Babylon, and, being on the highway between the Capital and Hîra, a
bridge of boats spanned the river near the spot.[205] Bahmân, in his
pride, gave Abu Obeid the option of crossing the river unopposed, thus
leaving him the choice of either bank for the impending action. Abu
Obeid desired to take the offer and pass over to the other side. His
advisers strongly opposed the movement, and sought to dissuade him
from quitting their more advantageous ground. But he made it a point
of honour; and exclaiming, ‘Shall we fear death more than they?’ gave
the order at once to cross. They found the ground upon the farther
side confined; and, though they were under 10,000 men, there was
little room to manœuvre, and nothing but the bridge to fall back
upon. [Sidenote: Battle of the Bridge. Shabân, A.H. XIII.
October, A.D. 634.[206]]The unwieldy elephants, with their
jingling bells and trappings, spread confusion among the Arab cavalry.
The riders, however, dismounting, went bravely at them on foot, and
tried, with some success, to cut the bands of the _howdas_, and
drive them from the field. Abu Obeid singled out the fiercest, a white
elephant, with great tusks, and rushed at it, sword in hand. While
vainly endeavouring to reach some vulnerable part, the huge beast
caught him with its trunk, and trampled him to death. Consternation
seized the ranks at the horrid spectacle. One after another the
captains whom Abu Obeid had named to meet disaster, were slain,[207]
and the troops began to waver. Just at this moment, a soldier of the
Beni Thackîf,[208] appalled at the fate of Abu Obeid and other leaders
of his clan, ran to the bridge, and crying out, _Die, as your chiefs
have died, or conquer_, cut the first boat adrift. Exit thus closed,
the panic spread. The Moslems were hemmed in, and driven back upon the
river. Many leaped in, but few reached the other shore of the deep
swift stream.[209] At this eventful moment Mothanna rushed to the
front. Backed by a few heroic spirits, among them a Christian chief of
the Beni Tay,[210] he seized the banner, and, planting himself between
the enemy and the bewildered Arabs, called out that he would hold the
ground till all had passed securely. Then he chided the Thackîfite for
what he had done, and commanded the bridge to be restored. ‘Destroy not
your own selves,’ he cried; ‘retire in order, and I will defend you.’
While thus bravely holding the Persians at bay, the thrust of a lance
imbedded several rings of his armour in a deep and dangerous wound.
Heedless of the pain, he stood heroically to his ground endeavouring
to calm his panic-stricken men. But in vain. [Sidenote: The Moslems
routed.]The confusion increased, and before order could be restored, a
vast number had perished in the river. At last the native boatmen were
made to refit the bridge, and a remnant escaped across it; but four
thousand were either swept off by the flood, left dead upon the field,
or borne wounded over the bridge. Of the new levies, two thousand,
stung with remorse, fled from the terrible field, away to their homes
in Arabia; and Mothanna, again assuming the command, was left with
only three thousand men. After the battle, Bahmân was on the point of
crossing the river to follow up his victory. Had he done so, it would
have fared badly with Mothanna and the wounded disheartened remnants,
who still held their ground on the opposite bank. But fortunately
for them, just at that moment, news reached Bahmân of a revolt at
Medâin; and so, relinquishing his design, he hastened, in support of
his master, back to the distracted capital.[211] [Sidenote: Mothanna
retires on Allîs.]With the relics of his army, Mothanna fell back upon
Allîs, farther down the river; and there, for the time, fixing his
head-quarters, bravely defended his first conquests. The cause of Islam
looked dark; but a hero like Mothanna would not despair. Mindful of
his early tactics, he sought to recruit his diminished ranks from the
surrounding coasts; so, rallying around him the tribes of kindred race,
before long he regained a firmer footing.

[Sidenote: Jabân taken prisoner and beheaded.]

Jabân, unaware of the General’s hasty recall to Medâin, and supposing
the Arabs to be in full flight before the conquering host, followed in
pursuit. He had before been taken prisoner and obtained his ransom by
deceit.[212] Crossing now the river, he was cut off by the Arabs, and,
with his column, was taken prisoner by Mothanna. The people also of
Allîs brought many of the stragglers into the Moslem camp. These were
all beheaded. At a later period, Allîs had special grace shown it for
this service.

[Sidenote: How the tidings of defeat were received at Medîna.]

Omar received with calmness the tidings of the disaster. Abu Obeid’s
levies kept on their flight till they reached their homes; and when
those from Medîna returned there, they covered their faces with
shame. The Caliph spoke comfortably to them. ‘Verily,’ he said, ‘I
am a defence to every believer that faceth the enemy and misfortune
overtaketh him. The Lord have mercy on Abu Obeid, and be gracious unto
him. Had he survived, and taken refuge from the foe on some sandy
mound, I surely would have been his advocate and defender.’ Muâdz,
reciter of the Corân, was among those who fled. Shortly after, when,
in the course of recitation, he came to this verse: ‘Whosoever in the
field shall give his back to the enemy (excepting again to join in the
battle), or shall turn aside unto another party, verily he draweth
the wrath of God upon him; his refuge shall be hell-fire--an evil
end!’[213] And he lifted up his voice and wept. Omar addressed him
kindly: ‘Weep not, O Muâdz,’ he said, ‘thou hast not “_turned aside
unto another party_”; thou hast turned aside to none but unto me.’
Such was the spirit of these Moslem heroes, even in defeat. The reverse
had no other effect than to nerve the Caliph to redoubled effort;
and the cry for a levy _en masse_ soon resounded over the whole
peninsula. The reinforcements, in response to this new call, would,
however, have been too late to help Mothanna if (fortunately for Islam)
earlier succour had not reached him.

[Sidenote: Numerous levies join Mothanna in Irâc.]

For the previous call, made at the time of Abu Bekr’s death, was still
drawing. Levies, from all directions, were daily coming in, eager (now
that the ban against apostates was removed) at once to evince the
sincerity of their repentance, and to share in the rewards of victory.
Each band, as it came in, besought Omar that they might be sent to
Syria.[214] But the late victory on the Yermûk had made him easy in
that direction; and every available man must now be despatched in haste
to Irâc. The Beni Bajîla, a brave and numerous levy, raised under the
banner of Jarîr, urged that their ancestral relations were all with
Syria; but Omar was firm, and, at last, reconciled them to set out at
once for Irâc by the promise--singular in the history of the time--that
they should have one fourth of the royal Fifth of all booty taken
there.[215] The fugitives also, from the army of Abu Obeid, hastened
back, seeking to retrieve their honour. But far the most remarkable of
the levies that now gathered under Mothanna’s standard--a proof, at
once of his liberality, statesmanship, and widespread influence--was
from the Beni Namr, a Christian tribe of the northern desert, which,
without detriment to their faith, threw in their lot with Mothanna, and
brought a large contingent to his help.[216] Thus, rapidly and largely
reinforced, he was soon stronger than ever, and ready for an offensive
movement. These troops were massed at first well in the rear of the
enemy’s country, on the edge of the Arabian desert, near Khaffân. The
women and children (for the practice had now become general of carrying
their families with them) were placed in security at a distance behind;
some were even left with friendly citizens in Hîra, although, since
the last retreat, the city had been reoccupied by a Persian satrap.
Mothanna had also a trusty follower in hiding there, to give him notice
of what was passing.

[Sidenote: Mothanna advances to meet a Persian army. Ramadhân, A.H.
XIII. November, A.D. 634.]

From this spy, Mothanna now learned that, matters having been settled
at the capital, a great army was in motion against him.[217] Sending
an urgent message to Jarîr, now close at hand, to hurry on, he marched
forward to Boweib, on the western branch of the Euphrates, and there,
close by the future site of Kûfa, and on ground commanded by a bridge,
he awaited the enemy. Omar had cautioned him not again to risk his
men by crossing the river before victory was secure; so he suffered
Mehrân, the Persian commander, without question to defile his troops
over the bridge.[218] The armies were then marshalled. The Persians
advanced in three columns, an elephant surrounded by a company of
footmen, at the head of each, and all with great tumult and barbaric
din. It was the fast of Ramadhân; but a dispensation was given to the
troops, and they had been strengthened by a repast. Mothanna, on his
favourite charger (called, by the humour of his men, _the Rebel_,
from its docility in action), rode along the lines, and exhorted his
soldiers to quit themselves like men: ‘Your valour this day will be a
proverb in the mouths of all. Be still as death,’ he cried; ‘and if ye
speak aught one to the other, speak it in a whisper. None shall give
way amongst us this day. I desire no glory for myself, but the glory of
you all.’ And they answered him in like words; for he was beloved by
his men.[219]

[Sidenote: The Battle of Boweib.]

The word for the advance was to be the _Takbîr_, ‘Great is the
Lord!’ It was to be thrice repeated; then, on the fourth cry, the rush.
But Mothanna had barely shouted the first, when the Persian myrmidons
bore down in great force; and the Beni Ijl, the nearest column, broke
before them. Mothanna stroked his beard in trouble. Calling an officer
of his staff, he bade him hasten with this message to the wavering
corps: ‘The Ameer sendeth greeting, and saith, _Ye will not this day
shame the Moslems_!’ They gave answer, ‘Yea, we shall not!’ And, as
the broken ranks closed up again in sharp serried line, Mothanna smiled
approvingly. The battle raged long and equally. At last, Mothanna,
seeing that a desperate onset must be made, rode up to the chief of the
Beni Namr, and said to him: ‘Though Christian, ye are one in blood with
us; come now, and as I charge, charge ye with me.’ The Persian centre
quivered before the fierce onslaught, and as the dust cleared off, it
was seen to be giving way. The Moslem wings, hitherto outflanked, now
took heart, and charged also. Then the Persian army fell back, and
made for the bridge. But Mothanna was before them. In despair, they
turned on their pursuers, and the multitude was so great that again
there was a moment of danger. But the fiery zeal of the Arabs, though
a handful in comparison, beat back the forlorn charge. ‘The enemy,’
says an eye-witness, ‘driven before Arfaja, were brought up by the
river, and finding no escape, re-formed, and charged upon us. One cried
to the leader to move his banner back; “_My work_,” he answered,
“_is to move the banner on_.” So forward we drove, and cut them
up, not one reaching even to the river bank.’ Mothanna reproached
himself afterwards with having closed the bridge, and caused (on his
own side) a useless loss of life. ‘I made a grievous error,’ he would
say: ‘follow not my example herein; it behoveth us not to close the
way against those who may be driven to turn upon us by despair.’[220]
The carnage was almost unparalleled even in the annals of Islam, and
it went on amongst the fugitives all night. A hundred warriors boasted
that they had slain each ten men to his lance; and hence the battle
of Boweib is sometimes called _the field of Tens_. There was no
engagement of which the marks were wider or more lasting. For ages the
bones of the slain bleached upon the plain; and the men of Kûfa had
here, at their very door, a lasting proof at once of the prowess and
the mercilessness of their forefathers in the faith.

[Sidenote: Persian general slain by a Christian youth.]

The victory is remarkable, not only for the unexampled loss of life,
but also as secured in great part by the valour of the Beni Namr, a
Christian tribe. And yet further, the most gallant feat of the day
was achieved by the member of another Christian clan. A party of Beni
Taghlib merchants, with a string of horses for sale, arriving just
as the ranks were being dressed, threw themselves into the battle,
choosing the Arab side. A youth from amongst them, darting into the
very centre of the Persians, slew Mehrân, and leaping on his richly
caparisoned horse, rode back upon it, amidst the plaudits of the
whole Moslem line, crying, as he passed in triumph: ‘I am of the Beni
Taghlib. I am he that hath slain Mehrân’[221]

[Sidenote: Loss on the Moslem side.]

The loss on the Moslem side was considerable. Mothanna had to mourn
the death of his brave brother Masûd. As this hero was borne from
the field mortally wounded, he cried: ‘Exalt your banners high, ye
Beni Bekr.[222] The Lord will exalt you, my men; and let not my fall
disturb you!’ Amr, the Christian chieftain, met a similar fate. And
Mothanna affectionately tended the last moments of both together--the
Christian and the Moslem--an unwonted sight on these crusading fields.
He performed the funeral service over his brother and the other fallen
Moslems, and said in his panegyric of their heroism: ‘It assuageth my
grief that they stood stedfast; that they yielded not a step; and now
they lie here the martyrs of Boweib.’

[Sidenote: The spoil.]

The spoil was great. Immense stores of grain, as well as herds of
cattle, were captured; and, therefrom, supplies were sent to the
families in their desert retreat. As Amr ibn Mádekerib rode up with
these, the women, mistaking the convoy for a plundering raid, rushed
out, with their wild shrill Arab scream, and began attacking them with
stones and staves. [Sidenote: Moslem women defend their camp.]Amr soon
made himself known to them, and praised their courageous attitude. ‘It
well becometh the wives of such an army,’ he said, ‘thus to defend
themselves.’ Then he told them of the victory; ‘and lo,’ he added, as
he produced the stores of grain, ‘the first-fruits thereof!’[223]

[Sidenote: Mesopotamia and delta regained.]

The country was now ravaged without let or hindrance up to Sabât,
within sight of the walls of Medâin. The enemy’s garrisons were all
driven back; and lower Mesopotamia and the delta anew reoccupied.
Parties also scoured the country higher up. Anbâr and Khanâfis were
again taken possession of, and many rich markets ransacked. They
penetrated to Baghdad (then a mere village on the Tigris above the
modern city), and even as far north as Tekrît. Great booty was gathered
in these plundering expeditions. It was divided in the usual way,
excepting that the Beni Bajîla, who well merited the distinction,
received, according to promise, a fourth of the imperial Fifth, beyond
their proper share--the remaining portion being sent to Medîna.[224]

[Sidenote: Mothanna superseded.]

Mothanna lived but a few months after his last great victory. He never
entirely recovered from the wounds received in the disastrous battle
of the Bridge, and eventually succumbed under them. His merits have
not been recognised as they deserve. That he did not belong to the
nobility of Medîna was the misfortune which kept him in the background.
Jarîr, leader of the Beni Jadîla, declined to serve under him as Ameer,
or commander, in Irâc, since he was a mere Bedouin chief, and not a
_Companion_ of the Prophet; and he complained accordingly to
the Caliph. Omar listened to the appeal; and eventually (as we shall
see) appointed another commander over both. But with that opens a new
chapter in the Persian war, and before entering on it, we must revert
to the course of events in Syria.

[Sidenote: Mothanna.]

The character of Mothanna, however, deserves more than a passing
notice, and as we shall hear little of him in the short remaining
period of his life, I may here devote a few lines to his memory. Among
the generals who contributed to the triumph of Islam, he was second
only to one. Inferior to Khâlid in dash and brilliancy of enterprise,
he did not yield to him in vigour and strategic skill. Free from the
unscrupulous cruelty so often disfiguring the triumphs of that great
leader, he never, like him, used victory to gratify his own ends. It
was due alone to the cool and desperate stand which Mothanna made at
the Bridge, that the Moslem force was not utterly annihilated there;
while the formation so rapidly after that disaster of a fresh army,
by which, with the help of Christian tribes (rare mark of Moslem
liberality), a prodigious host was overthrown, and the prestige of
Islam restored--showed powers of administration and generalship far
beyond his fellows. The repeated supersession of Mothanna cost the
Caliphate much, and at one time rendered the survival of Islam in Irâc
doubtful; but it never, in the slightest measure, affected his loyalty
and devotion to Omar. The nobility of the Moslem peerage may have
rendered it difficult for the Caliph to place a Bedouin chieftain of
obscure origin in command of men who, as Companions, had fought under
the Prophet’s banner. But it is strange that no historian, jealous
for the honour of the heroes of Islam, has regretted the supersession
of one so distinguished, or sought to place Mothanna on the deserved
pinnacle of fame, as one of the great generals of the world.[225]

                              CHAPTER XV.

                            BATTLE OF FIHL.

                          A.H. XIV. A.D. 635.

[Sidenote: The Syrian forces repose on the Yermûk.]

After the terrible slaughter of the Romans at Wacûsa, we left the
Syrian forces reposing on the banks of the Yermûk. There, for some
time, they were engaged in burying the dead, tending the wounded, and
dividing the spoil.

[Sidenote: Syria east of the Jordan.]

The country around them, ‘the land beyond Jordan on the east,’ differed
from any they had previously known. To the south was the undulating
pasture-ground of the Belcâa, and again to the north of the Yermûk the
pasture-lands of Jaulân.[226] Between these two pastoral tracts lay
the hills and dales of Gilead, with their fields of wheat and barley,
dotted every here and there with clumps of the shady oak, olive,
and sycamore, and thickets of arbutus, myrtle, and oleander. It was
emphatically ‘a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains
and depths that spring out of valleys and hills.’ The landscape,
diversified with green slopes and glens, is in season gay with
carpeting of flowers and melody of birds. From heights not far north
of the Yermûk, beyond the green expanse around, might be descried the
blue waters of the Sea of Galilee sparkling in the west, and still
farther the snow-capped peaks of the Lebanon and Hermon--a strange
contrast to the endless sands and stony plains of the peninsula.[227]
Not less marked was the contrast with the land of Chaldæa. There the
marshy delta of the Euphrates displays an almost tropical luxuriance;
while above it the plains of Mesopotamia, with its network of canals,
were covered by vast mounds, the site of cities teeming with life in
the early cycles of the world, and strewn with fragments of pottery
and bricks stamped with strange devices--mysterious records of bygone
kingdoms. Here, on the contrary, the pride of the Byzantine empire was
yet alive. From the Jordan to the desert were colonial cities founded
by the Romans, boasting their churches, theatres, and forum. Even
the naval contests of the naumachia might be witnessed in the land
of Gilead. The country was populous and flourishing, inhabited by a
mongrel race half Arab and half Syrian, who aspired to the privileges
and aped the luxurious habits, without the chivalry and manliness,
of the Roman citizen. It was altogether a civilisation of forced and
exotic growth. No sooner was the western prop removed than the people
returned to their Bedouin life, true sons of the desert; the chariot
and waggon were banished for the camel; and nothing left of Roman rule
but columns and peristyles, causeways and aqueducts--great masses of
ruined masonry which still startle the traveller as if belonging to
another world. But, at the time we write of, the age of so-called
civilisation was still dominant there.

[Sidenote: Highway between Syria and Arabia.]

Such was the beautiful country, strange to the peninsular Arab, both
in its natural features and in its busy urban life, which was now
traversed by the Moslem armies, and soon became the beaten highway
between Syria and Arabia.

[Sidenote: Abu Obeida succeeds Khâlid. A.H. XIII. Sept. A.D. 634.]

After achieving the victory of Wacûsa, Khâlid delivered over to Abu
Obeida the despatch from the new Caliph, which (as we have related)
was put into his hands at the commencement of the action, and with it
surrendered the commission which he held from Abu Bekr.[228] The other
leaders were all confirmed in their commands by Omar.

[Sidenote: Khâlid loyally supports Abu Obeida.]

The affront put upon him by Omar did not damp the zeal or devotion
of Khâlid. He placed himself forthwith at the command of Abu Obeida,
who published with reluctance the order for his deposition.[229] Abu
Obeida knew full well the rare military genius of Khâlid; and, himself
of a mild and unwarlike turn, was wise and magnanimous enough to ask,
and as a rule implicitly to follow, his advice. Khâlid, nobly putting
aside his grievance, devoted his best energies to the cause; and, his
supersession notwithstanding, remained thus virtually the chief captain
of Islam in Syria.

The course of Moslem victory in Syria advanced with little let or
check. In Persia the struggle was not to save a limb, but life itself.
[Sidenote: Byzantine struggle in Syria faint-hearted.]Here it was
otherwise. Syria, indeed, contained the holy places and all that was
dearest to the Byzantine people as the cradle of their faith. But,
after all, it was, though fair and sacred, but an outlying province, of
which a cowardly, supine, and selfish court could without vital injury
afford the loss. There were, accordingly, no such mortal throes in
Syria as on the plains of Chaldæa.

[Sidenote: Abu Obeida advances on Damascus.]

Leaving a strong detachment on the Yermûk to keep communications open
with the south, the invading army resumed its march towards Damascus.
On the way, news reached them that the city had been reinforced, and
also that in Palestine the scattered fragments of the defeated army
had re-formed in the valley of the Jordan, thus threatening the Moslem
rear. The moment was critical, and Abu Obeida wrote for orders to the
Caliph. The command of Omar was to strike a decisive blow at Damascus.
The citadel of Syria gained, the rest was sure. Accordingly, a strong
column under Abul Aûr and other veteran leaders was sent back to hold
in check the enemy on the Jordan, while the main body advanced by the
military road to Damascus.

[Sidenote: Damascus.]

This city, founded before the days of Abraham,[230] enjoys the singular
pre-eminence of having survived, through all the vicissitudes of
dynasties and nations, the capital of Syria. The Ghûta, or great plain
on which it stands, is watered by the Barada and other streams issuing
from the Lebanon and adjoining mountain ranges; and the beautiful
groves and rich meadows around have given it (perhaps with a better
title than the delta of the Euphrates) the name of ‘the garden of the
world.’ An _entrepôt_ of commerce between the East and West, it
has from age to age, with varying fortune, been ever rich and populous.
The city wall, twenty feet high and fifteen broad, still displays in
many places stones of cyclopean size, which must have been venerable
ages even before our era. Turrets for defence are placed at stated
intervals, and over the gates and at other spots there are structures
to accommodate the garrison on duty. The Eastern gate still leads into
‘the street which is called Straight,’ as it did in the days when St.
Paul passed through it.[231] The Cathedral church of St. John the
Baptist rears its great dome, towering above the other buildings; and
besides it there were, at the time of the invasion, fifteen churches in
Damascus and its suburbs. The city, not long before, suffered severely
from the alternating fortunes of the Persian war; but it had now, in
great measure, recovered its prosperity.

Such was the capital of Syria, ‘the Queen of Cities,’ which--embedded
in groves and gardens, and hemmed in (excepting towards the eastern
desert) with distant but lofty mountains, some tipped with snow--now
burst on the gaze of the Arab warriors. One here and there amongst them
may perchance have visited it, trading to the north; but, as a whole,
the army had heard of it only by report; and in beauty, richness, and
repose, fancy could hardly have exceeded the scene which now lay before

[Sidenote: The city invested. Shawwâl, A.H. XIII. December, A.D. 634.]

The Arab force was strong enough to invest the city. Abu Obeida pitched
his head-quarters opposite the Gate of Jâbia, on the western plain.
Khâlid was posted at the Eastern entrance,[232] where the gateway was
strengthened by the remains of an ancient temple. The other gates were
similarly guarded. Battering-rams and testudos were drawn up against
the walls; but every attempt at a breach of the massive defences
failed. At first the citizens, ignorant of the ardour and persistence
inspired by the faith of Mahomet, regarded the attack as a desultory
raid like many that had preceded it, and looked for succour. The city
lies two thousand feet above the sea, and the severity of the cold in
spring would drive away the Arab tribes, used to a more genial climate.
But months slipped by, and the host still hung obstinately around the
walls. The Emperor, indeed, from Hims, attempted a diversion; but Dzul
Kelâa, posted with his Himyarite horse to the north of the city, kept
them at bay; and Abu Obeida detached another column to cover the siege
from annoyance on the side of Palestine. The summer was coming on, and
no relief appeared. The Moslems, instead of retiring, pressed their
attack with increasing vigour; and the hopes of the Damascenes melted
away into despair.[233]

[Sidenote: Storm and capitulation. A.H. XIV. Summer, A.D. 635.]

On a certain day, we are told, the Roman Governor made feast to the
garrison to celebrate the birth of a son.[234] They ate and drank, and,
relaxing into merriment, began to quit their posts. Khâlid knew of the
expected feast, for nothing escaped his vigilance. ‘He neither himself
slumbered, nor suffered others to fall asleep.’ And so, reckoning upon
the season of revelry, he had settled with Abu Obeida to seize it as
the occasion for a general assault. The defences on Khâlid’s side
were by far the most formidable; the moat was deeper there, and the
walls stronger. The garrison, holding the spot to be impregnable, were
less on the alert than elsewhere; and in their negligence Khâlid found
his opportunity. In concert with certain daring spirits, his comrades
from Irâc, he planned an escalade. Ladders were got in readiness, and
scaling ropes with nooses to catch the projections of the castellated
wall. In the darkness preceding dawn, they stealthily crossed the
moat upon inflated skins;[235] then, casting up their tackle, they
caught the battlements. Cacâa, with another hero[236] from Irâc, was
the first to gain the summit. The way thus silently secured, others
scaled rapidly. Right and left they surprised the slumbering pickets
by a sudden rush, and put them to the sword. The gate from within was
forced open, and the appointed cry ‘_Allah Akbar!_’ resounded
from the walls to the expectant troops without. The Roman soldiery,
panic-struck, fled before their assailants; and now through the gateway
Khâlid’s column poured in, slaying and sacking all around. They had
already penetrated near to the centre of the city, when their progress
was brought to an unwelcome end. For on the other side a very different
scene was taking place. The Governor, seeing that resistance to an
assault apprehended from every quarter was hopeless, had issued from
the western gate, and already tendered his submission to Abu Obeida.
Terms were made upon the spot, and the capitulation signed. The gates
were thrown open, and the Moslem force, unopposed, kept streaming
in from the western camp. As they advanced, cries of despair and
appeals to stay the carnage met the ears of Abu Obeida, who was no
sooner apprised of what had transpired in the eastern quarter than
he sent orders to stay the onslaught. Khâlid remonstrated that the
city had been fairly carried by assault, and was at their mercy; but
in vain. Abu Obeida, juster and more clement, pointed to the treaty,
and insisted that its provisions should be fulfilled. Good faith was
the best as well as justest policy. The people were conciliated, and
throughout Syria the capitulation of Damascus became the type of

[Sidenote: Terms of capitulation.]

One half of all the property, both in money and buildings, private and
public, was by this capitulation surrendered to the conquerors. Besides
the taxes levied under Byzantine rule, the tribute of one dinar was
imposed on every male adult who did not embrace Islam, and a measure of
corn was taken from every field.[238] In this way the Arabs gained, not
only large spoil and a permanent revenue, without entirely alienating
the people, and even with a show of moderation, but obtained also
possession of buildings sufficient for their own accommodation and for
the conduct of public business. And so this beautiful city, ‘the Eye
of the East,’ passed from the grasp of Heraclius into the hands of the
Caliph, and became ‘the Eden of Islam.’

The churches of Damascus shared the common fate; they were equally
distributed between the Christians and the conquerors. [Sidenote:
Cathedral of St. John the Baptist turned into a Mosque.]The Cathedral
church of St. John the Baptist was treated differently. It was divided
into two parts--in one half the rites of the ancient faith were still
celebrated, and the gospel of Jesus read; in the other half, carefully
detached, the Corân was recited, and the service of Islam observed;
while from the dome the Muedzzin proclaimed daily the supremacy of
the Arabian prophet.[239] For seventy or eighty years the great
Cathedral continued thus to blend under one roof the symbols and the
practice of the two religions. That which was reasonable in the first
beginnings of Islam, however, became intolerable in the rapid advance
of arrogance and bigotry. One and another of the Caliphs sought, by the
offer of large payments, to obtain surrender of the entire Cathedral;
but in vain. At last Welîd, about the ninetieth year of the Hegira,
took the law into his own hands, and summarily ejected the Christian
worshippers. They complained against the injustice of the act, and Omar
II. listened to their reclamation. But the doctors of Islam declared
it impossible to restore to Christian worship a place once consecrated
by the Idzân and the prayers of the Faithful; and so at last the
Christians consented to take, instead, the churches of the city and
its suburbs which had been confiscated under the equal partition of
Abu Obeida. All that appeared Christian, therefore, in the style
or decoration of the Cathedral church, was now removed or defaced.
But this wonderful edifice retains to the present day marks of the
different religions to which it has been from time to time devoted. In
the massive foundations may be traced its origin as a pagan Temple;
these are surmounted by the beautiful architecture and embellishment
of Byzantine art; and over the great entrance may still be deciphered,
clear and uninjured, the grand prophecy of the Psalmist, which yet may
be realised in the worship of the Temple itself:--

                                      TO GENERATION.[240]

[Sidenote: Romans at Beisân held in check by Abul Aûr at Fihl. A.H.
XIV. Spring, A.D. 634.]

All through the protracted siege of Damascus, Abul Aûr kept watch over
his enemy in the Ghôr, or Valley of the Jordan, near to Fihl. This
city, the ancient Pella, was situated on the eastern slope of the
valley, six or seven miles below the outlet of the Lake of Tiberias.
Ruins still mark the site which is 600 feet above the river bed. The
gorge of the Jordan is here broad and fertile, and the stream at many
places fordable. Opposite Fihl the valley of Jezreel, branching off
from Esdräelon, that great battle-field of the world, issues into the
Ghôr. The broad opening is guarded on one side by the mountains of
Gilboa, the scene of Saul’s disaster, and on the other by the frowning
eminence of Beisân, to the walls of which the Philistines fastened the
body of that unfortunate monarch.[241] The mountain streams here run
along the valley, rendering it when neglected sodden and swampy.[242]
It was under the shadow of Beisân that the broken army of the Romans
took refuge, and here fresh supports from Heraclius joined them. To
secure their front, they dammed the streams, and so turned the whole
vale into a marsh. At first the Arabs chafed under the stratagem,
for their horses were disabled on the yielding ground. But they soon
learned patience, and discovered that the enemy had shut himself out
from the Ghôr, as well as from their attack. Himself securely posted,
his rear open to reinforcements, supplied in plenty by the fertile
vale of the Jordan, from which the Romans were cut off--Abul Aûr was
content to wait till the summer heat should dry up the quagmire; and
meanwhile his enemy, 80,000 strong, was held in check, if not virtually

[Sidenote: Abu Obeida returns to attack Fihl. A.H. XIV. Summer, A.D.

The summer was well advanced before the Arabs broke up their camp at
Damascus. They were eager to attack Heraclius at Hims; but Omar forbade
them to advance, so long as there was an army in their rear. Leaving,
therefore, Yezîd son of Abu Sofiân, with a garrison of Yemen levies,
as Governor of Damascus, Abu Obeida hastened back with the rest of
his army to Fihl. The province of the Jordan had been given by Omar in
command to Shorahbîl, and to him therefore Abu Obeida now committed
the chief conduct of the campaign which lay within his jurisdiction.
Khâlid led the van; Abu Obeida himself commanded one of the wings,
and Amru the other; the famous warrior Dhirâr directed the cavalry,
and Iyâdh the foot.[245] Retracing their steps, they took the highway
to Palestine, and, recrossing the Yermûk near where it falls into the
Jordan by the hot springs of Omm Keis (or Gadara), marched down the
valley of the Ghôr, and encamped under Fihl. Abul Aûr, who had held
the enemy in check for so long a time, was now detached on a similar
duty towards Tiberias, to prevent diversion from that quarter. The main
army, taking his place, sat before Beisân, and continued patiently its

[Sidenote: Battle of Fihl.]

Mistaking inaction for remissness, and themselves reduced to straits,
the Byzantine army, on a certain morning, thought to fall upon the
Arabs unawares. They little knew the vigilance of Shorahbîl, who
night and day was on the watch ready for action. Fetching a circuit,
the Romans suddenly appeared on the Moslem flank. They met a warm
reception, and there ensued a battle as fierce and obstinate as any
that had yet taken place. All day the Romans held their ground; but
by nightfall the impetuosity of the Arabs had its way. Sacalâr, the
Byzantine captain, fell, and his army broke and fled. The greater part,
caught in the marsh, there met their fate; and few escaped the sword.
‘Thus the Lord wrought for his people,’ writes the pious crusader;
‘and the morass which we thought a curse turned in His hands into a
blessing.’ And so the plain of Esdraelon again looked down upon another
great and sanguinary conflict, which, following on the defeat of
Wacûsa, decided for many a long century the fate of Syria.

The loss of the Mussulmans was comparatively small. The booty was
immense, and served to sharpen the Arab appetite for further victory.

[Sidenote: Khâlid’s contingent sent back to Irâc.]

No enemy now was left in sight. Omar, therefore, remembering the last
behest of Abu Bekr, that when the Lord gave victory in Syria the
contingent of Khâlid should be sent to Irâc, gave orders accordingly.
Its ranks, thinned by the fighting they had undergone, were before
the march made up to their former strength by transfer of volunteers
from the Syrian army. Thus recruited, the contingent (under command,
not now of Khâlid, but of Hâshim, son of Otba) recrossed the desert
just in time to take part in the great battle of Câdesîya. Abu Obeida,
with Khâlid and other chiefs of note, returned to Damascus. Shorahbîl
and Amru were left to reduce to order the province of the Jordan.
[Sidenote: Province of Jordan reduced.]The task was easy. The fire of
patriotism had never burned brightly anywhere in Syria; and what there
might have been was now extinguished by the listless cowardice of the
Byzantine Court. To the Bedouin class, weary of Roman trammels, the
prospect of an Arabian rule was far from unwelcome. Neither were the
Jews and Samaritans unfavourable to the invaders; indeed, we find them
not infrequently giving aid and information to the enemy. Even the
Christians cared little for the maintenance of a government which by
courtly and ecclesiastical intolerance had done its best to alienate
their affection.

[Sidenote: Progress east of the Jordan,]

Beisân for some time held out; but the garrison, when their sallies
had been repeatedly repulsed with slaughter, at last capitulated.
Tiberias followed its example, and both obtained the terms of Damascus.
Adzraât,[246] Ammân, Jerash, Maâb, and Bostra, all tendered their
submission. And so the whole tract from the Jordan eastward to the
Haurân and the desert, was brought under control, and garrisons were
distributed throughout the leading towns.

[Sidenote: and in Central Syria.]

Yezîd extended similarly his authority from Damascus towards the
desert as far as Tadmor. Westward he deputed his brother Muâvia, who,
meeting little opposition, reduced Sidon and Beyrût, and pushed his
conquests as far north as Arca.[247] Damascus itself, largely occupied
by Arabs, quickly assumed the garb of a Moslem city. The Byzantine
power and influence lingered longer on the coast; and once and again,
from seaward, they retook what the Arabs had gained. It was not,
indeed, until the Mussulmans began to cope with the naval forces of the
Mediterranean, that their authority was riveted along the littoral, as
it had long been in the interior.

[Sidenote: Bareness of Syrian tradition.]

The conquests of Syria have reached us, as I have before said, in a
form vague and most perfunctory. With the court of Damascus, its early
local traditions almost entirely disappeared; while those of the East
preserved by the learned coteries of Kûfa, Bussora, and Baghdad, alone
have reached us with any fulness and accuracy. In this we may see a
reason for the comparative bareness of tradition in respect of the
early history of Damascus and the rest of Syria under Moslem rule.

Leaving for the present Abu Obeida and Khâlid to make their advance on
Hims, we must return again to stirring scenes on the plains of Chaldæa.

                             CHAPTER XVI.

                             OF CADESIYA.

                          A.H. XIV. A.D. 635.

[Sidenote: Profuseness of tradition regarding field of Câdesîya.]

The desperate field of Câdesîya has been described to us with almost as
profuse detail as the leading battles of the the Prophet. The length
and severity of the contest, its memorable results, and the proximity
of the ground to Kûfa, made it a favourite topic of discourse at that
grand centre of tradition. Hence the prolixity. We shall follow the
outline only of the story, avoiding the detail with which it has been

[Sidenote: Yezdegird made king of Persia. A.H. XIII. December, A.D.

We left Mothanna, after the battle of Boweib, ravaging at pleasure the
terror-stricken coasts of Chaldæa. In the alternations of war, another
wave from the opposite quarter was about to sweep over that unhappy
land. A new movement was taking place at Medâin. The Persian nobles,
scandalised at the weakness of Rustem and the feeble Queen, began to
cry out that he was dragging the empire down to ruin. The ladies of
the court were assembled to inquire whether any king might not yet
be discovered of the royal blood. At last there was found Yezdegird,
saved as a child from the massacre of Siroes, and now a youth of
twenty-one.[248] He was placed upon the throne. Around the young King
the nobles rallied loyally, and something of the old fire of the empire
was rekindled. Troops were gathered, Mesopotamia was reoccupied, and
the cities as far as Hîra and the desert strongly garrisoned.

[Sidenote: Mothanna forced to fall back. Dzul Cáda, A.H. XIII. January,
A.D. 635.]

The inhabitants returned to their ancient allegiance; and Mothanna,
finding the whole Sawâd in arms, and his diminished army unable to cope
with the rising, again withdrew, and concentrated his troops behind
the Euphrates. He sent an urgent message, telling of the new perils
threatening him, to Omar. The danger was met bravely by the Caliph.
‘I swear by the Lord,’ he cried, when the tidings reached him, ‘that
I will smite down the princes of Persia with the sword of the princes
of Arabia.’ It was clearly impossible to hold any part of Mesopotamia
or the delta of the Euphrates, so long as they were dominated close at
hand by the court of Persia on the banks of the Tigris. The capital
must be taken at any cost, and an army large enough gathered for the
purpose. [Sidenote: Omar orders another levy _en masse_.]Orders, more
stringent even than those before, went forth (as we have already
seen) for a new and universal levy. ‘Hasten to me,’ he wrote in all
directions, ‘hasten speedily!’ And forthwith Arabia resounded again
with the call to arms. The troops from the south were to gather before
the Caliph at Medîna; those nearer to Syria, the demand being urgent
and time precious, were to march straight to Mothanna. [Sidenote: Dzul
Hijj. A.H. XIII. February, A.D. 635.] This much arranged, Omar set
out on the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. On his return, he repaired to
the rendezvous at Jorf, where the contingents as they came in were
marshalled. In a council of war, it was debated whether the Caliph, as
he proposed, and as the people wished, should in person lead the army
to Irâc. The chief ‘Companions’ were against it.[249] Defeat, if Omar
were on the field of battle, might be fatal; but seated at Medîna, even
under the worst disaster he could launch column after column on the
enemy. Omar yielded; and, whatever may have been his real intention
the show of readiness to bear the heat and burden of the day imparted a
new impulse of enthusiasm to the army.

[Sidenote: Sád appointed commander in Irâc.]

Who now should be the leader of this great army in Irâc? Mothanna
and Jarîr, already there, were but Bedouin chieftains. None but a
peer could take command of the Companions and Nobles of the land now
flocking to the field. The matter was being discussed in an assembly,
when at the moment there came a despatch from Sád son of Abu Wackkâs,
the Caliph’s lieutenant with the Beni Hawâzin, reporting the levy
of a thousand good lances from that tribe. ‘Here is the man!’ cried
those around. ‘Who?’ asked the Caliph. ‘None but the _Ravening
Lion_,’[250] was the answer; ‘Sád, the son of Mâlik.’ The choice was
sealed by acclamation; and so, Omar immediately summoned Sád. Converted
at Mecca while yet a boy, the new Ameer of Irâc was now forty years
of age. He is known as ‘the first who drew blood in Islam,’ and was a
noted archer in the Prophet’s wars. He took rank also as the nephew
of Mahomet’s mother. Short and dark, with large head and shaggy hair,
Sád was brave, but not well-favoured. The Caliph gave him such advice
as the momentous issues of the campaign demanded, and warned him not
to trust to his extraction. ‘The Lord,’ he said, ‘looketh to merit and
good works, not to birth; for in His sight all men are equal.’[251]
Thus admonished, Sád set out for Irâc, with 4,000 men, the first-fruits
of the new levy. As a rule, they marched now with their women and

As the levies kept coming in, Omar sent them on, one after another,
to join Sád. [Sidenote: Sád marches to Irâc and encamps on the border
of the desert.]The numbers swelling rapidly embraced the chivalry of
Arabia. Toleiha, the _quondam_ prophet, now an exemplary believer,
and Amr ibn Mádekerib, went in command of their respective tribes, the
Beni Asad and Zobeid; and Omar wrote that each chief was himself worth
a thousand men. Al Asháth, also, head of the Beni Kinda, the apostate
rebel of the south, now joined the army with a column of his tribe
from Yemen.[252] Indeed, Omar, we are told, ‘left not a single person
of any note or dignity in the land, whether warrior, poet, orator, or
chieftain, nor any man possessed of horse or weapons, but he sent him
off to Irâc.’ Thus reinforced, Sád found himself at the head of 20,000
men; and when the column ordered back from Syria returned, the numbers
were over 30,000--by far the largest force yet mustered by the Arabs on
the plains of Chaldæa.[253] The troops now marching on Irâc, and those
that had been commanded by Mothanna, drew all together at Sherâf, on
the borders of the desert, fifteen or twenty miles to the south of Hîra.

[Sidenote: Death of Mothanna. Safar, A.H. XIV. April, A.D. 635.]

Before Sád reached the rendezvous, Mothanna had passed away. Omar
entirely approved his having withdrawn from Mesopotamia, to the right
bank of the Euphrates, and there rallied the Bedouin tribes along
the lower waters skirting the desert.[254] This was all the more
necessary, as the court of Persia was then endeavouring to detach the
great tribe of the Beni Bekr ibn Wâil by an appeal to their ancient
alliance with the house of Hîra. Moänna, brother of Mothanna, had just
returned from a mission to this (his own) tribe, and had succeeded in
frustrating the attempt. Bearing intelligence of this success, as well
as the melancholy tidings of his brother’s death, he went out to meet
Sád on his march. He communicated also his brother’s dying message to
the new commander, advising that the Arabs should hold to their ground
on the confines of the desert. ‘Fight there the enemy’ were the last
words of Mothanna;--‘Ye will be the victors; and, even if worsted, ye
will still have the friendly and familiar desert wastes behind: there
the Persians cannot enter, and from thence ye will again return to the
attack.’ Sád, as he received the message, blessed the memory of the
great general. He also made the family he had left his special care;
and, the more effectually to discharge the trust, as well as to mark
his estimate of the man, he, in true Arab fashion, took to wife his
widow Selma.

[Sidenote: Sád marshals his troops in new order.]

The army was marshalled by Sád anew. Companies were formed of ten,
each under a selected leader. Warriors of note were appointed to
bear the standards. Columns and battalions were made up by clans and
tribes; and so by clans and tribes they marched, and also went into
the field of battle. Departments also were established for the several
services incident to a campaign.[255] The chief commands were all
given to veterans, who had fought under the Prophet’s banner; for in
this army there were no fewer than 1,400 Companions, and ninety-nine
who had fought at Bedr.[256] Following Mothanna’s counsel, which was
confirmed by Omar, Sád marched slowly to Odzeib, still on the border
of the desert. [Sidenote: Encamps at Câdesîya. A.H. XIV. Summer,
A.D. 635.]Leaving the women and children there under protection of a
squadron of horse, he advanced to Câdesîya. Here was a great plain
washed on its eastern side by the ‘old’ Euphrates,[257] and bounded
on the west by the _Khandac_, or Trench of Sapor (in those days a
running stream), with the desert beyond. The plain was traversed by a
road from the south, which here crossed the river by a bridge of boats
leading to Hîra, and onwards across the peninsula to Medâin. Such was
the field on which the great battle was to be fought that would settle
the fate of Persia. Sád, keeping still to the western bank of the Great
River, fixed his head-quarters at Codeis, a small fortress overlooking
the stream a little way below the bridge. He had thus the great plain
behind him on which to deploy his troops, with the river in front, and
the _Khandac_ and desert in his rear. Here encamped, the army awaited
patiently the enemy’s approach.

[Sidenote: Yezdegird, impatient at the ravages of the Arabs, orders

Rustem sought to play the same waiting game; but the King grew
impatient. The Arabs, from their standing camp, made continual raids
across the river into Mesopotamia, and as far north as Anbâr. The
castles of the nobles were attacked, and their pleasure-grounds laid
waste. A marriage procession fell into the hands of one of these
parties near Hîra, and the bride, a satrap’s daughter, was carried,
with her train of maids and wedding trousseau, captive to the camp.
Herds were driven from the fens and pastures of the delta, to supply
the army; for the forays were meant at once to furnish food, and to
punish such as had thrown off their allegiance to the Moslems. The
people were clamorous; and the great landholders at last gave notice to
the court that if help were delayed, they must go over to the enemy.
Moved by their cries, Yezdegird turned a deaf ear to Rustem, and
insisted on an immediate advance.[258]

[Sidenote: Yezdegird summoned by a deputation of Arab chiefs to embrace

Meanwhile, Sád maintained a constant correspondence with the Caliph,
who now called for a description of the country. ‘Câdesîya,’ Sád told
him in reply, ‘lay between the Trench of Sapor and the river; in front
of the army was the deep stream, which on the left meandered through
a verdant vale towards the town of Hîra; a canal led up in the same
direction to the lake of Najaf, on the margin of which stood the
palace of Khawarnac. His right was guarded by an impassable swamp,
and his rear rested on the _Khandac_ and the desert.’[259] Omar,
satisfied with his general’s report, enjoined upon him vigilance and
patience. But first, he said, Yezdegird must be summoned to embrace the
Faith at the peril of his kingdom. With this commission, a party of
twenty warriors, chosen for their commanding mien, crossed the plain
and presented themselves at the gates of Medâin.[260] As they were
led to the royal presence, the rabble crowded around, and jeered at
the rough habit of the Arabs, clad in striped Yemen stuff, and armed
with the rude weapons of the desert, all contrasting strangely with
the courtly splendour of the regal city. ‘Look!’ they cried mocking,
‘look at the woman’s distaff,’ meaning the Bedouin bow slung over the
shoulder, little thinking of the havoc it was soon to make in their
crowded ranks. As the Chiefs entered the precincts of the palace, the
prancing and champing of the beautiful steeds, and the wild bearing
of the stalwart riders, struck awe into the heart of the king and
his effeminate nobles. Yezdegird demanded, through an interpreter,
wherefore, thus unprovoked, they had dared to invade his kingdom.
One after another the Arabian spokesmen told him of the Prophet who
had wrought a mighty change in their land, and they explained to him
the nature of Islam, its blessings and its obligations. ‘Embrace the
Faith,’ they said, ‘and thou shalt be even as one of us; or, if thou
wilt, pay tribute, and come under our protection; which things if thou
shalt refuse, the days of thy kingdom are numbered.’ The king replied
contemptuously: ‘Ye are naught, ye are naught! hungry adventurers from
a naked land; come, I will give you a morsel, and ye shall depart full
and content.’ The Arabs replied in strong but modest words. ‘Thou
speakest truth. We are poor and hungry; but the Lord will enrich and
satisfy us. Thou hast chosen the sword; and between us shall the sword
decide.’ The king’s wrath was kindled. ‘If it were not,’ he cried,
‘that ye are ambassadors, ye should have been put to death, all of
you. Bring hither a clod of earth, and let the mightiest among them
bear it as a burden from out the city gates.’ The Arabs embraced the
happy augury. Asim forthwith seized the load, and binding it over his
shoulders, mounted his charger and rode away. Rustem coming up at that
moment, the king told him of the affront he had put upon the simple
Arabs. ‘Simple!’ cried Rustem, ‘it is thou that art simple;’ and he
sent in haste to get the burden back again: but Asim was already far
away with his treasure. Hastening to Câdesîya, he cast the clod before
his chief, and exclaimed, ‘Rejoice, O Sád! for, lo, the Lord hath given
thee of the soil of Persia!’[261]

[Sidenote: Rustem, with immense host, marches from Medâin,]

Rustem could now no longer delay the campaign. Elephants, cavalry, and
soldiers had been gathered from every quarter to swell the host. He set
out at the head of an army 120,000 strong.[262] But he still delayed,
marching slowly and unwillingly. The auguries, drawn from astrology
and divination, all boded some great disaster. But he cherished the
hope that the Arabs, pinched in their supplies, might, as in days
of old, break up and disappear; or, at any rate, that, wearied with
the suspense, they might be drawn from their strong position across
the river. After many weeks’ delay upon the road, he passed over the
Euphrates below Babylon, and encamped under the ruined pile of Birs
Nimrûd. [Sidenote: and encamps opposite the Arabs. A.H. XIV. October,
A.D. 635.]Advancing on Hîra, he chided the people for siding with the
Arabs; they replied with justice, that, deserted by their King, they
had no resource left them but to bow before the invaders. At last,
having whiled away four months from the time of starting, Rustem,
passing Najaf, came within sight of the Moslem force, and pitched his
camp on the opposite bank of the river.

[Sidenote: Moslem army restrained by Sád.]

During this long period of inaction, the impatience of the Arabs was,
not without difficulty, checked by the strong hand of Sád, to whom as
Ameer, and lieutenant of the supreme Ameer, the Moslems were bound to
yield implicit obedience. Excepting raids and reconnoitring expeditions
nothing was attempted. Some of these, however, were sufficiently
daring and exciting. On one occasion, Toleiha, the _quondam_
prophet, entered by night the enemy’s camp alone, and cutting the
ropes of a tent, carried off three horses. Hotly pursued, he slew his
pursuers one after another, excepting the last; who, seized by Toleiha
single-handed, and carried off a prisoner, embraced Islam, and fought
ever after faithfully by his captor’s side.[263] As the enemy drew
near, the Moslem host lay couched like the tiger in its lair, ready for
the fatal spring.

[Sidenote: Rustem obtains truce for three days.]

The contending armies being now face to face, Rustem had no longer
excuse for putting off the decisive day. On the morning after his
arrival he rode along the river bank to reconnoitre; and, standing on
an eminence by the bridge, sent for Zohra, who with the foremost column
was guarding the passage. A colloquy ensued; and Sád consented that
an embassy proceeding to the Persian camp, should there set forth his
demands. Three envoys, one after another, repaired to Rustem. All held
the same language: _Islam_, _Tribute_, or the _Sword_. The Persian, now
contemptuous in his abuse, now cowering under the fierce threats of the
envoys, and scared (as we are to believe) by his dreams and auguries,
at last demanded time to consider. Three days’ grace, they replied, was
the limit of delay which their Prophet allowed for choice; and that was

[Sidenote: Rustem throws a dam over the river,]

When the term was over, Rustem (as was common in that day) sent to
inquire whether he or they should cross the river for battle. Strongly
pitched, his rear resting on the trench of Sapor, flanked by Codeis and
by a morass, and with the river in front, Sád had no thought of moving;
and he bade the Persian cross as best he might. Rustem advanced, but
passage was denied. All night the Arabs watched the bridge. But Rustem
had another scheme; he meant to cross the river by a dam. During the
night his myrmidons cast fascines and earth into the channel, and the
morning light discovered a causeway over which it was possible to pass.

[Sidenote: and crosses.]

As soon as it was day, Rustem, clad in helmet and double suit of mail,
leaped gaily, as it would seem, upon his horse. ‘By the morrow we shall
have beaten them small,’ he cried.[265] But apart with his familiars
he confessed that celestial omens were against him. And, indeed,
previous mishaps, and the brave bearing of the Arab chiefs, were
sufficient--astrology apart--to inspire grave forebodings. Crossing
the dam unopposed, he marshalled his great host on the western bank,
with the centre facing the fortress of Codeis. There were thirty war
elephants in the field; eighteen were posted with the centre, and the
remainder under Jalenûs and Firuzân with the wings.[266] A canopy
covering a golden throne was pitched for Rustem by the river side; and,
seated there, he watched the issue of the day. Messengers posted within
earshot of one another the whole way from the battle-field to Medâin,
shouted continually the latest news, and kept Yezdegird informed of all
that passed.

[Sidenote: Sád disabled by illness, marshals the army from the ramparts
of Codeis.]

As the Persians began to cross, the advanced guard of the Arabs
fell back on Codeis, beneath which the main body was drawn up. On
the rampart of the fortress, Sád, disabled by blains and boils, lay
stretched upon a litter; from whence casting down his orders inscribed
on scraps of paper, he guided thus the movements of the army. The
troops, unused to see their leader, at such a moment, in a place of
safety, murmured; and verses lampooning him were soon in the mouth
of everyone. That he, the archer of renown, and the ‘first to shed
blood in Islam,’ should be thus aspersed was insupportable, and Sád
accordingly had the ringleaders seized and imprisoned in the fortress.
He then descended, and discovered to the troops the grievous malady
which rendered it impossible for him even to sit upright, much less
to mount his horse. They accepted his excuse; for no man could doubt
his bravery; but still a certain feeling of discontent survived.[267]
Resuming his recumbent posture, he harangued the army from the
battlements, and then he sent his chief captains, with the orators
and poets that accompanied his force, along the ranks to rouse their
martial spirit.

[Sidenote: Sura _Jehâd_ recited before the army.]

At the head of every column, as a preparation for the battle, was
recited the Sura Jehâd, with the stirring story of the thousand angels
that fought on the Prophet’s side at Bedr, and such hortatory texts
as these:--‘_Stir up the Faithful unto battle. If there be twenty
steadfast among you, they shall put to flight two hundred of the
Unbelievers, and a hundred shall put to flight a thousand. Victory
cometh from the Lord alone; He is mighty and wise. I will cast terror
into the hearts of the Infidels. Strike off their heads, and their
fingers’ ends. Beware that ye turn not your back in battle. Verily
he that turneth his back shall draw down upon him the wrath of God.
His abode shall be Hell-fire; an evil journey thither._’[268] The
mention of the great day of ‘DECISION’ at Bedr, with the
Divine command to fight, never failed to fire the souls of the Moslem
host. And here we are told that upon the recital ‘the heart of the
people was refreshed, and their eyes lightened, and they felt the
Tranquillity that followeth thereupon.’


The word was then passed round. Till the midday prayer, no one should
stir. [Sidenote: Ramadhân A.H. XIV. November, A.D. 635.] The Ameer
would give the first signal by proclaiming the Takbîr, _Great is the
Lord!_ and the whole host would then take up the shout from him.
[Sidenote: I. Day, called _Armâth_.[269]]At the second and third
Takbîr, they were to gird their weapons on, and make ready their
horses for action. At the fourth, the ranks were to rush in one body
forward with the battle-cry, _Our help is from the Lord!_ The order
was deranged by the enemy, who, hearing the shouts, advanced upon the
third Takbîr; whereupon several warriors from the Moslem front stepped
forward, and challenging the enemy to single combat, did prodigies of
valour. We are reminded of the similar feats at Bedr; only the spoil,
stripped from the fallen champions here, was rich beyond comparison.
Thus, Amr ibn Mádekerib carried off triumphantly the bracelets and
jewelled girdle of a princely victim. Ghâlib, of the Beni Asad,
advanced, shouting gaily--

    The maid, with hanging tresses,
      Milk-white breast and fingers tapering,
    Knows that when the battle waxeth hot,
      I am he that lays the warriors low.

Singing thus, he closed with Hormuz, ‘a prince of the Gate,’ and,
spoiling him of his armour, bore him, along with his diadem, a captive
to Sád. Asim, leader of the Beni Temîm, singing a like war-song,
pursued his adversary right into the enemy’s ranks; there he seized a
mule-driver, and carried him off with his laden beast to the Moslem
lines; it was the king’s baker with a load of his choicest viands. More
remarkable still is the story of Abu Mihjan the Thâckifite. He was a
ringleader in the detraction of Sád, and his offence was aggravated by
drunkenness. Bound as a prisoner in the fort, under charge of Selma,
he was seized by an irrepressible ardour to join the battle. At his
earnest entreaty, and under pledge of an early return, she set him
free, and mounted him on her husband’s white mare. An unknown figure,
he dashed in circuits, now into and now around the enemy’s host,
performing marvels of bravery. Some thought it might be the chief of
the Syrian contingent, expected that day. Others opined that it was Al
Khizr, precursor of the angelic band. But Sád said, ‘If it were not
that Abu Mihjan is safe in durance under Selma’s care, I would take an
oath that it were he, and the mare my own.’ According to promise, the
hero, satisfied with his exploits, returned to Selma, who reimposed his
fetters as before, securing, shortly after, his release.[270] But now
the elephants bore down upon the Bedouin lines. The brunt of the onset
fell upon the Beni Bajîla. The horrid sight of huge beasts swaying to
and fro,--‘the _howdas_, manned with warriors and banners, like
unto moving castles,’--affrighted the Arab horses, and they broke away
in terror. At Sád’s command the Beni Asad diverted the attack upon
themselves; but in the heroic act they left four hundred dead upon the
field. Then the elephants attacked the wings, spreading consternation
all around; and the enemy, profiting by the confusion, pressed
forward. The position was now critical; and Sád, as a last resource,
bade Asim to rid them from the danger at whatever cost. At once that
gallant chief chose from the Beni Temîm a band of archers and of agile
skirmishers, who, drawing near, picked off the riders one by one, and
boldly cut the girths. The howdas fell, and the great beasts, with none
to guide them, fled. Thus relieved, the Arabs regained their ground.
But the shades of darkness were falling, and both armies retired for
the night.

[Sidenote: Sád upbraided by his wife.]

The Moslem force was downcast. The uncertain issue added point to the
invectives of Sád’s accusers, and, what was still harder for him to
bear, the reproaches of Selma. As during the day, seated by her lord,
they watched the lines swaying in deadly conflict to and fro, she
exclaimed bitterly, ‘O for an hour of Mothanna! Alas, alas, there is
no Mothanna to-day!’ Stung by the taunt, Sád struck her on the face,
and pointing to Asim and his band, said, ‘What of Mothanna? Is he to be
compared with these?’ ‘Jealousy and cowardice!’ cried the high-spirited
dame, faithful to her first husband’s memory. ‘Not so, by any means,’
said Sád somewhat softened; ‘I swear that no man will this day excuse
me if thou dost not, who seest in what plight I lie.’ The people sided
with the lady; but (tradition adds) Sád was no coward, and he lived the
contumely down.

[Sidenote: II. Day, called _Aghwâth_.]

The morning was occupied with the wounded and the dead; and the day was
advanced before fighting was resumed. Just then the first column of the
Syrian contingent came in view. It was led by Cacâa, a host in himself,
who hurried forward with a thousand men, leaving Hâshim to bring up
the main body of five thousand more, the following day. By a skilful
disposition Cacâa magnified his force, in the eyes both of friend and
foe. He arranged his men in bands of a hundred, each following at a
little distance behind the other. Advancing, he saluted Sád and his
comrades, and bade them joy of the coming help. Then calling upon the
rest to follow, he at once rode forth to defy the enemy. Dzul Hâjib,
the hero of _the Bridge_, accepted the challenge. Cacâa recognised
his foe; and crying out, ‘Now will I avenge Abu Obeid and those that
perished at the Bridge,’ rushed on his man and cut him lifeless to the
ground. As each of Cacâa’s squadrons came up, it charged with all the
appearance of a fresh and independent column across the plain in sight
of both armies, shouting the Takbîr, which was answered by the same
ringing cheer, _Allah Akbar_, from the Moslem line. The spirits
of the Arabs rose, and they forgot the disasters of yesterday. Equally
the heart of the Persians sank. These saw their heroes slain, one
after another, at the hands of Cacâa and his fellows.[271] They had no
elephants this day, for their gear was not yet repaired. Pressed on all
sides, their horse gave way, and Rustem was only saved by a desperate
rally. The Persian infantry, however, stood their ground, and the day
closed with the issue still trembling in the balance. The fighting was
severe and the carnage great. Two thousand Moslems lay dead or wounded
on the field, and ten thousand Persians. All night through the Arabs
kept shouting the names and lineage of their several tribes. There was
shouting, too, in the Persian camp. And so, encouraging themselves,
each side awaited the final struggle.[272]

[Sidenote: III. Day, called _Ghimâs_.]

On the third morning, the army was again engaged in the mournful task
of removing their fallen comrades from the field. The space of a mile
between the two lines was strewn with them. [Sidenote: Burial of the
dead.]The wounded were made over to the women to nurse, if perchance
they might survive--or rather, in the language of Islam--‘until the
Lord should decide whether to grant, or to withhold from them, the
crown of martyrdom.’ The dead were borne to a valley in the rear
towards Odzeib, where the women and children hastily dug graves for
them in the sandy soil. The wounded, too, were carried to the rear.
For the suffering sick it was a weary passage under the burning sun. A
solitary palm-tree stood on the way, and under its welcome shade they
were laid for a moment as they passed by. Its memory is consecrated in
such plaintive verse as this:

    Hail to the grateful palm that waves between Câdesîya and Odzeib.
    By thy side are the wild sprigs of camomile and hyssop.
    May dew and shower water thy leaves beyond all others.
    Let there never want a palm-tree in thy scorching plain!

[Sidenote: Fighting resumed. Arrival of Syrian troops.]

A day and a night of unceasing conflict were still before the
combatants. The spirit of the Persians, whose dead troops lay unburied
on the field, flagged at the disasters of the preceding day. But much
was looked for from the elephants, which, now refitted, appeared anew
upon the field, each protected by a company of horse and foot. The
battle was about to open, when suddenly Hâshim came up with the main
body of the Syrian troops. Sweeping across the plain, he charged right
into the enemy, pierced their ranks, and having reached the river
bank, turned and rode triumphantly back, amidst shouts of welcome. The
fighting was again severe, and the day balanced by alternate victory
and repulse. Yezdegird, alive to the crisis, sent his own body-guard
into the field. The elephants were the terror of the Arabs, and again
threatened to paralyse their efforts. [Sidenote: The elephants put to
flight.]In this emergency, Sád had recourse to Cacâa, who was achieving
marvels, and had already slain thirty Persians in single combat; so
that the annalists gratefully acknowledge, ‘if it had not been for what
the Lord put it into the heart of Cacâa to do, we had surely in that
great battle been discomfited.’[273] Sád learned from some Persian
refugees that the eye and trunk were the only vulnerable parts of
the elephant: ‘Aim at these,’ he said, ‘and we shall be rid of this
calamity.’ So Cacâa took his brother Asim, and a band of followers as
a forlorn hope, and issued on the perilous undertaking. There were
two great elephants, the leaders of the herd. Dismounting, they boldly
advanced towards these, and into the eye of one, the ‘great White
elephant,’ Cacâa succeeded in thrusting his lance. Smarting at the
pain, it shook fearfully its head, threw the mahout, and swaying its
trunk with great force, hurled Cacâa to a distance. The other fared
still worse, for they pierced both its eyes, and slashed its trunk.
Uttering a shrill scream of agony, blinded and maddened, it darted
forward on the Arab ranks. Shouts and lances drove it back upon the
Persians. And so they kept it rushing wildly to and fro between the
armies. At last, followed by the other elephants, it charged right into
the Persian line; and so the whole herd of huge animals,--their trunks
raised aloft, trumpeting as they rushed by, and trampling all before
them,--plunged into the river and disappeared on the farther shore. For
the moment the din of war was hushed as both armies gazed transfixed
at the portentous spectacle. But soon the battle was resumed, and they
fought on till evening, when darkness again closed on the combatants
with the issue still in doubt.

[Sidenote: The Night of Clangour.]

The third night brought rest to neither side. It was a struggle for
life. At first there was a pause, as the light faded away; and Sád,
fearing lest the vast host should overlap his rear, sent Amr and
Toleiha with parties to watch the lower fords. There had as yet been
hardly time for even momentary repose when, early in the night, it
occurred to some of the Arab leaders to call out their tribes with the
view of harassing the enemy. The movement, made at the first without
Sád’s cognisance, drew on a general engagement in the dark. The screams
of the combatants and din of arms made _The Night of Clangour_, as
it is called, without parallel in the annals of Islam. It could only
be compared to ‘the clang of a blacksmith’s forge.’ Sád betook himself
to prayer, for no sure tidings reached him all night through.[274]
Morning broke on the two hosts, weary but still engaged in equal
combat. Then arose Cacâa and said that one more vigorous charge would
surely bring the decisive turn, ‘for victory ever followeth him that
persevereth to the end.’ For four-and-twenty hours the troops had
maintained the struggle without closing an eye. Yet now the Moslems
issued with freshness and alacrity to a new attack. The Persian wings
began to waver. Then a fierce onslaught on their centre shook the
host: it opened and uncovered the bank on which was pitched the throne
of Rustem. [Sidenote: The Persians discomfited and Rustem slain.]A
tempestuous wind arose; and the canopy, no longer guarded, was blown
into the river. The wretched prince had barely time, before his enemies
were upon him, to fly and crouch beneath a mule laden with treasure.
The chance blow of a passer-by brought down the pack and crushed the
prince’s back. He crawled to the bank and cast himself into the river;
but not before he was recognised by a soldier, who drew him out and
slew him, and then, mounting his throne, loudly proclaimed his end.[275]

[Sidenote: Destruction of the Persian host.]

No sooner was their leader slain, than the rout and slaughter of the
Persian host began. Firuzân and Hormuzân succeeded in passing their
columns over the dam, and making good their flight before their
pursuers could cross the bridge. Jalenûs, standing by the mound,
exhorted his men to follow; but the dam (perhaps to secure retreat)
had been already cut, and was soon swept away, and with it a multitude
into the stream.[276] To the right and to the left, up the river bank
and down, the Mussulmans chased the fugitives relentlessly. Jalenûs,
vainly endeavouring to rally his men, was slain, and his body rifled
of its jewelled spoil. The plain, far and wide, was strewn with dead
bodies. The fugitive multitude, hunted even into the fens and marshes,
were everywhere put mercilessly to the sword. But the army was too
exhausted to carry the pursuit to any great distance beyond the river.

[Sidenote: Moslem loss.]

The Mussulman loss far exceeded that of any previous Moslem engagement.
In the final conflict 6,000 fell, besides 2,500 in the two days before.
No sooner was the battle ended, than the women and children, carrying
pitchers of water, and armed with clubs, on a double mission of mercy
and of vengeance, spread themselves over the field. Every fallen
Mussulman, still warm and breathing, they gently raised and wetted his
lips with water. [Sidenote: Wounded Persians despatched by women and
children.]But towards the wounded Persians they knew no mercy; for
them they had another errand; raising their clubs they gave to them
the _coup de grâce_. Thus had Islam extinguished the sentiment
of pity, and, against nature, implanted in the breasts of the gentler
sex, and even of little children, the spirit of fierce and cold-blooded

[Sidenote: The vast booty.]

Like the loss of life, so also the spoil for the survivors was great
beyond all parallel, both in its amount and costliness. Each soldier
had six thousand dirhems, besides special gifts for the veterans and
for such as had shown extraordinary valour. The jewels stripped from
Rustem’s body were worth 70,000 pieces, although the tiara, most costly
portion of his dress, had been washed away. The great banner of the
empire was captured on the field. It was made of panthers’ skins, but
so richly garnished with gems as to be valued at 100,000 pieces.[278]
The prize taken by Zohra from the person of Jalenûs was so costly, that
Sád, doubting whether it might not be altogether too great for one
person, applied to Omar for advice. The Caliph chided him in reply.
‘Dost thou grudge the spoil to such a one as Zohra,’ he wrote, ‘after
all that he hath wrought, and in view of all the fighting yet to come?
Thou wilt break his heart thus. Give him the whole, and over and above
add a special gift of 500 pieces.’ Thus did the needy Arabs revel in
the treasures of the East, the costliness of which almost exceeded
their power to comprehend.

[Sidenote: Decisive character of the victory.]

For the enemy, the defeat was crushing, and decisive of the the
nation’s fate. It was little more than thirty months since Khâlid
had set foot upon Irâc, and already that empire, which fifteen years
before had humbled the Roman arms, had ravaged Syria, and encamped
triumphantly on the Bosphorus, was crumbling under the blows of an
enemy whose strength never exceeded thirty or forty thousand Arabs
rudely armed. The battle of Câdesîya reveals the secret. On one
side there was but a lukewarm, servile following; on the other, an
indomitable spirit that nerved every heart and arm, and after long
weary hours of fighting enabled the Moslems to deliver the final and
decisive charge. The result was, that the vast host, on which the last
efforts of the empire had been spent, was totally discomfited; and,
although broken columns escaped across the river, the military power
of the empire never again gathered itself into formidable shape. The
country far and wide was terror-struck. An important though indirect
effect was that the Bedouin tribes on the Euphrates hesitated no
longer. Many of them, though Christian, had fought on the Moslem side.
Some of these now came to Sád and said: ‘The tribes which at the first
embraced Islam were wiser than we. Now that Rustem hath been slain, all
will accept the new belief.’ So there came over many tribes in a body
and made profession of the faith.

[Sidenote: Tidings how received by Omar.]

The battle had been so long impending, and the preparations of the
empire on so grand a scale, that the issue was watched all over the
country, ‘from Odzeib away south to Aden, and from Obolla across to
Jerusalem,’ as that which would decide the fate of Islam.[279] The
Caliph used to issue forth alone from the gates of Medîna early in
the morning, if perchance he might meet some messenger from the field
of battle. At last a courier arrived outside the city, who to Omar’s
question replied shortly, ‘The Lord hath discomfited the Persian host.’
Unrecognised, Omar followed the camel-rider on foot, and gleaned from
him the outline of the great battle. Entering Medîna, the people
crowded round the Caliph, and, saluting, wished him joy of the triumph.
The courier, abashed, cried out, ‘O Commander of the Faithful, why
didst thou not tell me?’ ‘It is well, my brother,’ was the Caliph’s
simple answer. Such was the unpretending mien of one who at that moment
was greater than either the Kaiser or the Chosroes.

                             CHAPTER XVII.

                              OF MEDAIN.

                      A.H. XV., XVI. A.D. 636–7.

[Sidenote: Sád re-occupies Hîra, end of A.H. XIV. January, A.D. 636.]

After his victory, Sád, by desire of the Caliph, paused for a little on
the field of Câdesîya, and allowed the weary troops to rest. Fragments
of the great Persian host escaped, broken and dispersed, in the
direction of the ruins of Babylon, and rallied there, on the right bank
of the Euphrates. After two months’ repose, Sád, now recovered from his
sickness, advanced to attack them. One or two short marches brought him
to Hîra. It was the third time the unfortunate city had been taken and
retaken. The punishment for this its last helpless defection from the
Moslem cause, was the doubling of its tribute. Soon supplanted by Kûfa,
at a few miles’ distance, the once royal city speedily dwindled into a
common village. But the neighbouring palace of Khawarnac, the beautiful
residence of the Lakhmite princes, was left standing on the lake of
Najaf, and was sometimes visited, as a country seat, by the Caliphs in
after days.

[Sidenote: The Persians driven across the plain to Madâin, and the
Sawâd reoccupied.]

As the Moslems advanced, the Persian troops made a stand, first at
Birs Nimrûd,[280] and then, recrossing the Euphrates, under the great
mound of Babylon. Driven from thence with loss, they fell back upon
the Tigris. Sád then pitched a standing camp at Babylon, and, himself
remaining there, sent forward his lieutenants, Hâshim and Zohra.
[Sidenote: A.H. XV. A.D. 636.] These, in a series of minor but decisive
engagements, cleared the plain of Dura, here about fifty miles broad,
from the Euphrates to the Tigris.[281] The territorial chiefs from all
sides came in, tendering their allegiance, some as converts, some as
tributaries; and the Arabs again became undisputed masters of the whole
_Sawâd_, with the channels and canals intersecting it. Several months
thus passed; and at last, in the summer of A.D. 636, Sád found himself
able, now with the full consent of Omar, to make an advance upon

[Sidenote: The queen-mother is discomfited.]

This royal city of Persia was built, as we have seen, on both banks
of the Tigris, at a sharp and double bend of the river, fifteen miles
below the modern Baghdad. Seleucia, on the right bank, was the original
seat of the Alexandrian conquerors. On the opposite shore had grown up
Ctesiphon, the winter residence of the Persian monarchs. The combined
city had now for ages superseded Babylon as the capital of Chaldæa.
Though repeatedly taken by the Romans, it was now great and prosperous,
but helplessly torn by intrigue and enervated by luxury. The main
quarter, with its royal palaces, was on the eastern side, where the
noble arch, the _Tâk i Kesra_, still arrests the traveller’s eye
as he floats down the Tigris.[283] On the nearer side was the suburb,
Bahar Sair;[284] and towards it, as immediately accessible to attack,
Sád now directed his march. Burân, the queen-mother, animated by the
ancient spirit of the Sassanides, and swearing with a great oath that
so long as the dynasty survived, the empire was invincible, herself
took the field, with an army commanded by a veteran general, ‘the lion
of Chosroes.’ She was utterly discomfited, and her champion slain by
the hand of Hâshim. When he came to announce the victory, his cousin
Sád kissed Hâshim’s forehead, in token of approval and delight; and
Hâshim kissed the feet of Sád.

[Sidenote: Sád besieges the western suburb of Medâin. Summer, A.H. XV.
A.D. 636.]

Sâd then marched forward; and, in reference to the vainglorious boast
of the vanquished princess, he publicly recited this passage from the

   Did ye not swear aforetime that ye would never pass away? Yet ye
   inhabited the dwellings of a people that dealt unjustly by their
   own souls; and ye saw how We dealt with them; for We made them a
   warning and example unto you.[285]

In this spirit, they came upon the bend of the river; and lo! the
famous Iwân, or palace, with its great hall of white marble, stood
close before them on the opposite shore. ‘Good heavens!’ exclaimed
Sád, dazzled at the sight; ‘_Allah akbar!_ What is this but the
White Palace of Chosroes! Now hath the Lord fulfilled the promise
which He made unto His Prophet.’ And each company shouted, _Allah
akbar!_ ‘Great is the Lord!’ as it came up and gazed, wondering, at
the great white building, almost within their grasp. But the city was
too strong to storm, and Sád sat down before it. Catapults and testudos
were brought up, but they made no impression on the massive ramparts
of sunburnt brick. The besieged issued forth in frequent sallies; and
the siege is mentioned as the last occasion on which the warriors
of Persia adventured themselves in single combat with the Arabs. The
investment was so strict that the inhabitants were reduced to great
straits. The army lay for several months before the city.[286] But
it was not inactive in other directions; for bands were despatched
throughout Lower Mesopotamia, wherever the great landholders failed
to tender their submission. These ravaged the country between the
two rivers, and brought in multitudes of prisoners; but, by Omar’s
command, they were dismissed peaceably to their homes.[287] Thus, all
Mesopotamia, from Tekrît downwards, and from the Tigris westward to the
Syrian desert, was brought entirely and conclusively under the sway of

[Sidenote: Persians evacuate western suburb. Dzul Hijj A.H. XV.
January, A.D. 637.]

The siege at last pressed so heavily on the western quarter, that the
king sent a messenger, proposing terms. He would give up Mesopotamia
and all beyond the Tigris, if they would leave him undisturbed on the
eastern side. The offer was met by an indignant refusal.[288] Not long
after, observing the walls no longer manned, an advance was ordered.
They entered unopposed; the enemy had crossed in boats, and entirely
evacuated the western bank. Not a soul was to be seen. Sád, however,
was unable to follow up the success by storming the further capital;
for the ferry-boats were all withdrawn to a distance beyond his reach.
So the army, for some weeks, was forced to rest; and, occupying the
deserted mansions of the western suburb, enjoyed a foretaste of Persian

[Sidenote: CAPTURE OF MEDÂIN. Safar, A.H. XVI. March, A.D. 637.]

When Medâin was first threatened, Yezdegird despatched his family,
with some of the regalia and treasure, to Holwân, a fortified town in
the hilly country to the north: and now, leaving Mihrân in command, he
contemplated flight himself in the same direction. The heart of Persia
had sunk hopelessly; for otherwise, the deep and rapid Tigris formed
an ample defence against sudden assault. Indeed, the Arabs themselves
were, for some considerable time, of this opinion; they were occupied,
we are told, for two months, in the search for boats, which had all
been removed from the western bank. Unexpectedly, a Persian deserter
apprised Sád of a place where the river could be swum or forded. But
the stream, always swift, was then upon the rise, and they feared lest
the horses should be carried down by the turbid flood. Just then, news
came in that Yezdegird was arranging to flee to the mountains on the
third day with the rest of his treasure. Sád at once resolved upon the
enterprise. Gathering his force together, he thus addressed them:--‘We
are now at the mercy of the enemy, who, having the river at command,
is able to attack us unawares. The position is intolerable. Now, the
Lord hath shown unto one amongst us a vision of the Faithful upon
their horses, crossing the stream triumphantly. Arise, and let us stem
the flood!’ The desperate venture, supported by Salmân the Persian,
was carried by acclamation.[289] Six hundred picked cavalry were
forthwith drawn up in bands of sixty. The foremost rank plunged in,
and bravely battled with the rapid flood. Down and across, they neared
the other shore, as a Persian picket dashed into the water, and vainly
endeavoured to beat them back. ‘Raise your lances,’ shouted the leader
Asim, ‘and bear right into their eyes.’ So they drove them back, and
safely reached dry land. Sád no sooner saw them land safe on shore,
than he called on the rest to follow; and thus, with the cry--‘Allah!
Triumph to thy people--Destruction to thine enemies!’--troop after
troop leaped into the river. So thick and close-arrayed were they,
horses and mares together,[290] that the water was hidden from view;
and, treading as it had been the solid ground, without a single loss,
all gained the farther side.[291] The Persians, taken by surprise,
fled panic-stricken. The difficulty of the passage afforded them
time but barely to escape with their families, and with such light
stuff as they could hastily carry with them. The few inhabitants
remaining, submitted themselves as tributaries. The Moslems, already
in undisturbed possession, pursued the fugitives; but, meeting with no
opposition, soon hastened back to share the royal spoil. They wandered
over the gorgeous pavilions of a court into which for ages the East
had poured its treasures, and they revelled in beautiful gardens,
decked with flowers and laden with every kind of fruit. The conqueror
established himself in the palace of the Chosroes. But first he was
minded to render thanks in a Service of Praise. One of the princely
buildings was turned for the moment into a house of prayer; and there,
followed by as many as could be spared (for military precautions were
yet observed), he ascribed the victory to the Lord of Hosts. The lesson
was taken from the Sura _Smoke_, which speaks of Pharaoh and his
host being overwhelmed in the Red Sea, and contains a passage thought
to be peculiarly appropriate:--

    How many Gardens and Fountains did they leave behind,
      And Fields of Corn, and fair Dwelling-places,
    And pleasant things which they enjoyed!
      Even thus have We made another people to inherit the same.[292]

The booty was rich beyond conception. Besides millions of treasure,
there was countless store of silver and golden vessels, gorgeous
vestments and garniture, and precious things of untold rarity and
cost.[293] A lucky capture of sumpter mules disclosed an unexpected
freight--the tiara, robes, and girdle of the king. The Arabs gazed
in wonder at the crown and jewelled swords and all the splendour of
the throne, and, among other marvels, at a camel of silver, large as
life, with its rider of gold; and at a golden horse, having emeralds
for teeth, its neck set with rubies, and the trappings of gold. The
precious metals lost their conventional value, and gold was parted with
for its weight in silver. Works of art in sandal-wood and amber were in
the hands of everyone, with hoards of musk and the spicy products of
the East. Camphor lay about in sacks, and was kneaded with the cakes
as salt, till the pungent taste revealed the mistake.[294] The agents
of the prize had a heavy task, for each man’s share (and the army now
numbered 60,000, all mounted) was twelve thousand pieces,[295] besides
special largesses to the more distinguished warriors. The army could
afford to be generous, and so they despatched to Medîna, over and
above the royal Fifth, such rare and precious things as might stir the
wonder of the simple citizens at home. To the Caliph they sent as a
fitting gift the regalia of the empire, and the swords of the Chosroes
and of Nómân, the prince of Hîra.[296] But the spectacle of the day
was the banqueting carpet of the king, seventy cubits long and sixty
broad. It was a garden, the ground of wrought gold and the walks of
silver; green meadows were represented by emeralds, running rivulets
by pearls; trees, flowers, and fruits by diamonds, rubies, and other
precious stones. When the rest of the spoil had been distributed at
the Great Mosque, and special gifts allotted to the more distinguished
Companions, Omar took counsel what should be done with the royal
carpet. The most advised to keep it as a trophy of Islam. But Aly,
reflecting on the instability of earthly things, objected; and the
Caliph, accepting his advice, had it cut in pieces and distributed with
the other booty. The piece that fell to Aly’s lot (and it was by no
means the richest) fetched Twenty thousand dirhems.

[Sidenote: Sád establishes his head-quarters at Medâin.]

As Medâin offered every convenience for the seat of government, Sád
established his head-quarters there. The palaces and mansions of the
fugitive nobles were divided amongst his followers. The royal residence
he occupied himself. The grand hall, its garnishing unchanged, was
consecrated to Divine worship, and here, as a cathedral service, the
Friday ritual was first celebrated in Irâc.

                            CHAPTER XVIII.

                         AND BUSSORA FOUNDED.

                          A.H. XVI. A.D. 637.

[Sidenote: Battle of Jalôla.]

OMAR was satisfied, as well he might be, with the success achieved. His
old spirit of caution revived, and, beyond rendering Mesopotamia and
the border-lands within the Persian mountain range secure, he strictly
forbade any forward movement. The summer of the sixteenth year of the
Hegira was, therefore, passed by Sád in repose at Medâin. The king,
with his broken troops, had fled into the mountains, and thence into
the plains of Persia. And the people on either bank of the Tigris,
seeing opposition vain, readily submitted themselves to the conqueror.
In the autumn, however, the Persians, resolving again to try the chance
of arms, flocked in great numbers to Yezdegird, and an army was formed
at Holwân, a fortress on the stream of that name a hundred miles
north of Medâin. From thence Mehrân, with part of the force, advanced
to Jalôla, a stronghold on the mountain range half-way to Medâin.
[Sidenote: Persians advance. A.H. XVI. Autumn, A.D. 637.]This place,
capable of accommodating an army, and almost impregnable to such an
enemy as the Moslems, was defended by a deep trench, and all outlets
or accessible places guarded by _chevaux de frise_ and spikes of iron.
The movement was reported to the Caliph, and, with his sanction, Sád
pushed forward Hâshim and Cacâa at the head of 12,000 men, including
the flower of Mecca and Medîna; and they sat down in front of the
citadel. The garrison, reinforced from time to time by the army at
Holwân, made an obstinate defence, and in frequent sallies attacked
the besiegers with desperate bravery. Fresh troops had to be despatched
from Medâin, and the siege was prolonged for eighty days. At length, on
the occasion of a vigorous sally, a great storm darkened the air; and
the Persian columns, losing their way, were pursued to the battlements
by Cacâa, who seized one of the gates. Driven thus to desperation, they
turned upon the Arabs, and a general engagement ensued, which ‘was not
surpassed by the _Night of Clangour_, excepting that it was shorter.’
[Sidenote: The Persians routed, and Jalôla taken. Dzul Cáda, A.H. XVI.
December, A.D. 637.]Beaten at every point, many of the enemy in the
attempt to flee were caught by the iron spikes. They were pursued to
some distance,[297] and the fields and roads were strewn (tradition
tells us) with 100,000 corpses. Followed by the fragments of his army,
Yezdegird fled to his northern capital, Rei, in the direction of the
Caspian Sea.[298] Cacâa then advanced to Holwân, and defeating the
troops which still held it, took possession of that stronghold, and
left it garrisoned with Arab levies as the farthest Moslem outpost to
the north.

[Sidenote: The spoil.]

The spoil was again rich and plentiful, for it embraced much that had
been hastily carried off as most precious from Medâin, and (what was of
the highest value to the army) a vast number of fine Persian horses.
A multitude of women also, many of whom must have been of gentle and
princely birth, unable to effect escape into the plains beyond, fell a
welcome prize into the conquerors’ hands, and were distributed partly
amongst the warriors on the spot and partly amongst the troops left at
Medâin. The booty was valued at Thirty millions of dirhems, besides the
horses, of which nine fell to the lot of every combatant. [Sidenote:
Ziâd deputed to Medîna with the Fifth.]In charge of the Fifth, Sád
despatched to Medîna a youth named Ziâd, of doubtful parentage,[299]
but of singular readiness and address. In presence of the Caliph, he
harangued the citizens, and recounted in glowing words what had been
won in Persia, rich lands and cities, endless spoil, with captive maids
and princesses. Omar praised his speech, and declared that the troops
of Sád had surpassed the traditions even of Arab bravery. But next
morning, when about to distribute the booty, the rubies, emeralds, and
vast store of precious things, he was seen to weep. ‘What!’ exclaimed
Abd al Rahmân; ‘a time of joy and thankfulness, and thou sheddest
tears!’ ‘Yea,’ replied the simple-minded Caliph; ‘it is not for this
I weep, but I foresee that the riches which the Lord hath bestowed
upon us will become a spring of worldliness and envy, and in the end a
calamity to my people.’

[Sidenote: Omar will not sanction advance on Persia.]

Ziâd was also the bearer of a petition from the leaders in Irâc,
who chafed at the limit placed on their progress, and now asked for
leave to pursue the fugitives into Khorasan and to the Caspian shore.
But Omar, content with what had been already gained, forbade the
enterprise. ‘I desire,’ he wrote in reply, ‘that between Mesopotamia
and the lands beyond, the hills shall form a barrier, so that the
Persians shall not be able to get at us, nor we at them. The fruitful
plains of Irâc suffice for all our wants; and I would rather the safety
of my people than spoil and further conquest.’ The conviction of a
world-wide mission for Islam was yet in embryo; and the obligation to
enforce its claims by a universal crusade had not yet dawned upon the
nation. And, in good truth, a dominion embracing, as Islam now did,
Syria, Chaldæa, and Arabia, might have satisfied the ambition even of
an Assyrian or Babylonian monarch. The sound and equal mind of Omar,
far from being unsteadied by the flush and giddiness of victory, cared
first to consolidate and secure the prize he had already gained.

[Sidenote: Operations in Mesopotamia. A.H. XVI. Summer, A.D. 637.]

The Persian frontier, for the time, was safe. A son of Hormuzân made
an inroad from Masbazân, a fortress in the mountains, two days south
of Holwân; but he was defeated and beheaded; and the place, strongly
guarded, became one of an established line of frontier posts. There
being no further attempt upon the peace of Medâin, the ambition of Sád
and his generals, checked northwards by the Caliph’s interdict, was
for the present confined to the reduction of Mesopotamia. For this
end, troops were sent up the verdant banks of the Tigris as far as
Tekrît--a stronghold on the river, about a hundred miles above Medâin,
held by a mixed garrison of Roman troops and Christian Bedouins. These
bravely resisted the attack. But after forty days the Romans thought to
evacuate the place, and, deserting their native allies, escape by their
boats. The Bedouins, on the other hand, were tampered with, and went
secretly over to Islam; so that, when a final assault was delivered,
they seized the water-gate, and the Romans, taken on both sides, were
put to the sword.[300] The newly converted allies then joined the
force, and pressed enthusiastically forward to Mosul, which, hearing
of the fall of Tekrît, at once surrendered, and became tributary. On
the Euphrates, the Moslem arms had already met with equal success. The
Bedouin tribes in Upper Mesopotamia having been urged by the Byzantine
Court to make an attack on the invaders, who were threatening Hims,
Sád was charged by Omar to effect a diversion from Irâc. [Sidenote:
Hît and Kirckesia taken. A.H. XV. A.D. 636.] The fortress of Hît on
the Euphrates was accordingly besieged; but they found it too strong
to carry by assault. Leaving, therefore, half of the force before the
town, the commander marched rapidly up the river to Kirckesia,[301] at
the junction of the Khabûr, and captured it by surprise. The garrison
of Hît, when they heard of this, capitulated on condition of being
allowed to retire. Thus, all the southern portion of Mesopotamia, from
one river to the other, was reduced; the strongholds were garrisoned,
and the Bedouins either converted to the faith or brought under

[Sidenote: Delta of the _Shât al Arab_ occupied. A.H. XIV. A.D. 635.]

Towards the south also, the rule of Islam was established from the
junction of the two rivers, along the Shât al Arab down to the shores
of the Persian Gulf. This tract, with varying fortune, had been exposed
to the raids of the Arabs ever since the first invasion of Mothanna.
On one occasion, an expedition was worsted, and the leader killed.
Omar saw that, to secure Irâc, it was needful to occupy in strength
the head of the Gulf as far as the range of hills on its eastern side;
about the period, therefore, of Sád’s appointment he deputed Otba, a
Companion of note, with a party under Arfaja from Bahrein, to capture
the flourishing sea-port of Obolla. The garrison was defeated, and the
inhabitants, Indian merchants and others, escaped in their ships to the
Gulf. The Persians then gathered in force on the eastern bank of the
river, and many encounters took place before the Arabs succeeded in
securing their position. In one of these, the women of the Moslem camp
turned their veils into flags, and, marching in martial array to the
battle-field, were mistaken for fresh reinforcements, and contributed
thus at a critical moment to the victory. At last, in a great and
decisive action, the enemy was routed, and the girdle of the leader,
a Persian noble, sent as a trophy to the Caliph. The messenger who
carried it, in answering the Caliph’s questions, confessed that the
Moslems were becoming luxurious in foreign parts:--‘The love of this
present life,’ he said, ‘hath increased upon them; gold and silver have
dazzled their sight.’ Concerned at the revelation, the Caliph summoned
to his presence Otba, who came, having left a Bedouin chief in charge
of his government. The arrangement was highly distasteful to Omar:
‘What!’ he said, ‘hast thou placed a Man of the desert over Men of the
city and Companions of the Prophet? That can never be!’ So Moghîra
was substituted for the Bedouin; and Otba dying on the journey back,
Moghîra became governor in his stead. Thus early arose the spirit of
antagonism between the Bedouin chiefs and the men of Mecca and Medîna.

[Sidenote: The Delta subdued. A.H. XIV. A.D. 635.]

On the ruins of Obolla a small town arose of huts constructed of
reeds, with a Mosque of the same material; and the settlement grew
in size and importance by constant accessions from Arabia. But the
climate was inhospitable to the new settlers. The tide here rises close
to the level of the alluvial plain, which, irrigated with ease, is
surpassingly fertile, and stretches far and wide a sea of verdure. The
country abounds with groves of pomegranates, acacias, and shady trees;
and a wide belt of the familiar date-palm fringing the river might
reconcile the immigrant of the Hejâz to his new abode. But the moisture
exhaled by a soil so near the water was ill-suited to the Arabian
humour; pestilential vapours followed the periodical inundations,
and gnats settled around them in intolerable swarms.[302] [Sidenote:
_Bussorah_ founded. A.H. XVII. A.D. 638.] Three times the site was
changed; at last the pleasant spot of BUSSORAH, near the river bank,
and supplied with a stream of water running through it, was fixed upon;
and there a flourishing city rapidly grew up. It was laid out about the
same time, and after the same fashion, as its rival Kûfa. But, partly
from a more congenial climate, partly from being more largely endowed
with conquered lands, the sister city took the lead, as well in numbers
as in influence and riches.

[Sidenote: _Kûfa_ founded. A.H. XVII. A.D. 638.]

The founding of KÛFA was on this wise. The Arabs had been in occupation
of Medâin for some months, when, a deputation visiting Medîna on
certain business, the Caliph was startled by their sallow and
unwholesome look, and asked the cause. They replied that the city air
did not agree with the Arab temperament. Thereupon, search was ordered
for some more healthy and congenial spot; such as, approaching nearer
to the desert air, and also well supplied with wholesome water, would
not be cut off (so the watchful Ruler stipulated) from ready help in
any time of need.[303] They looked everywhere on the desert outskirts,
and found no place answering these conditions so well as the plain of
Kûfa, not far from Hîra, on the banks of the western branch of the
Euphrates. Omar confirmed the choice, and left it in each man’s option,
either to remain at Medâin, or transfer his habitation thither. The
new capital suited the Arabs well, and to it accordingly they migrated
in great numbers. The dwellings, as at Bussorah, were made at first
of reeds.[304] [Sidenote: October, A.D. 638.]But fires were frequent;
and, in the autumn, after a disastrous conflagration, the Caliph gave
permission that both cities might be built of brick. ‘The flitting
camp,’ he wrote, ‘is the only place for the crusader. But if ye must
have a more permanent abode, be it so; only let no man have more
houses than three, nor exceed the modest exemplar of the Prophet’s
dwelling-place.’ So the city was rebuilt, and the streets laid out
in regular lines. The centre was kept an open square for the chief
Mosque, which was constructed with a portico for shade, and ornamented
with marble pillars from the palaces at Hîra.[305] Another square
was left clear for the market; and to every man was allotted ground
proportioned to the number of his household. Sád built for himself a
spacious edifice, with materials carried from the royal buildings at
Hîra, and he reared in front of it a gateway to prevent intrusion from
the market-place, which was hard by. The rumour of ‘the Castle of Sád’
troubled the simple-minded Caliph, and he sent Mohammed ibn Maslama
with a rescript commanding that the gateway should be pulled down.
Arrived at Kûfa, the envoy was invited by Sád to enter his mansion as
a guest, but he declined. Sád therefore came forth, and received the
letter at his hands, which ran thus:--‘It hath been reported to me that
thou hast builded for thyself a palace, and people call it _The Castle
of Sád_; moreover, that thou hast reared a gateway betwixt thee and the
people. It is not thy castle; rather is it the castle of perdition.
Whatsoever is needful to secure the treasury, that thou mayest guard
and lock; but the gateway which shutteth out the people from thee, that
thou shalt break down.’ Sád obeyed the order; but he protested that
his object in building the portal had been falsely reported, and Omar
accepted the excuse.

[Sidenote: Irâc settled with the _Felaheen_. The SAWÂD.]

The settlement of the land was the next concern. The SAWÂD, or
rich plain of Chaldæa, having been taken, with some few exceptions, by
force of arms, was claimed by the Arab soldiery as prize of war. The
judgment and equity of Omar is conspicuous in the abatement of this
demand. After counsel held with his advisers at Medîna, the Caliph
ordered that cultivators who had fled during the operations in Irâc
from fear, as well as those who had kept to their homes throughout,
should be treated as _Zimmies_, or protected subjects, and
confirmed in their holdings on payment of a moderate tribute. The royal
forests and domains, the lands of the nobles, and of those who had
opposed the Moslem arms, and also endowments of the Fire-temples, were
all confiscated; but the demand for their division as ordinary prize
was denied. Equitable distribution was impossible, and the attempt
would but breed bad blood amongst the people. The necessities also of
the great system of canals, and of the postal and other services, as a
first charge upon the revenues, demanded that the public lands should
be kept intact. Such were the ostensible reasons. But a profounder
cause underlay the order. Omar would maintain the martial spirit of
his followers at any cost, and render it perpetual. With him it was
of first necessity that the Arabs should not settle anywhere but in
camp, or other place of arms, nor engage at all in husbandry, lest
they became fixed to the soil, and so the spirit militant decline.
The people of Arabia must in every land be men of arms, ready at a
moment’s notice for the field, a race distinct and dominant. Therefore,
much to the discontent of the claimants, not only were the confiscated
lands held undivided, but, from the border of the Syrian desert to the
mountain range of Persia, the sale of any portion of the soil, whether
confiscated or not, was absolutely forbidden. Thus there arose a double
protection to the native tenantry, who under no pretext could be
evicted from their lands. The country also, remaining in the hands of
its own cultivators, was nursed, and became a rich and permanent source
of revenue.

[Sidenote: Crown lands and endowments of Bussorah and Kûfa.]

The confiscated lands scattered over the province were administered by
agents of the State, and the profits shared between the captors and
the Crown. The prize domains of Kûfa--conquered, that is to say, by
the armies of Khâlid and of Sád--were much more extensive than those
of Bussorah. Shortly after it was founded, the inhabitants of Bussorah
sent a deputation to urge that its endowments should be increased, and
its income made more adequate to their responsibilities. ‘Kûfa,’ said
Ahraf, the spokesman from Bussorah, ‘is a well-watered garden which
yieldeth in season its harvest of dates, while ours is a brackish land.
Part bordereth on the desert, and part upon the sea, which laveth it
with a briny flood. Compared with Kûfa, our poor are many, and our rich
are few. Grant us, therefore, of thy bounty.’ Recognising the justice
of the demand, Omar made a substantial addition to the endowments of
Bussorah from the Crown lands of the Chosroes. But, although Kûfa
was richer, it had heavier obligations to discharge than the sister
city. Its government had a far wider range; and the charges of four
lieutenants, posted with strong garrisons at Holwân and Masbazân in the
east, at Mosul in the north, and at Kirckesia in the west, had to be
provided from the resources at the command of Sád.

[Sidenote: Kûfa and Bussorah hotbeds of faction and sedition.]

Kûfa and Bussorah, thus unique in their origin, had a singular
influence on the destinies of the Caliphate and of Islam itself. The
vast majority of the population came from the Peninsula, and were of
pure Arabian blood. The tribes which, with their families, scenting
from afar the prey of Persia, kept streaming into Chaldæa from every
corner of Arabia, settled chiefly in these two cities. At Kûfa the
races from Yemen and the south predominated; at Bussorah, from the
north. Rapidly they grew into two great and luxurious capitals, with
an Arab population each of from 150,000 to 200,000 souls.[306] On
the literature, theology, and politics of Islam, these cities had
a greater influence than the whole Moslem world besides. Service in
the field was desultory and intermittent. The intervals of rest were
spent in ennui. Excepting when enlivened by the fruits of some new
victory, the secluded harems afforded their lords but little variety
of recreation or amusement. Otherwise the time was whiled away in
the converse of social knots; and in these, while they discussed the
problems of the day, they loved still more to live in the past, and
fight their battles over again. Hence tradition. But the debates
and gossip of these clubs (to which we owe the two great schools of
Bussorah and Kûfa) too often degenerated into tribal rivalry and
domestic scandal. The people became petulant and factious; and both
cities grew into hotbeds of turbulence and sedition. The Bedouin
element, conscious of its strength, was jealous of the Coreish, and
impatient at whatever checked its capricious humour. Thus factions
sprang up which, controlled by the strong and wise arm of Omar, broke
loose under weaker Caliphs, eventually rent the unity of Islam, and
brought on disastrous days, which, but for its marvellous vitality,
must have proved fatal to the Faith.

                             CHAPTER XIX.

                      CAMPAIGN IN NORTHERN SYRIA.

                          A.H. XV. A.D. 636.

[Sidenote: Abu Obeida’s advance on Northern Syria. End of A.H. XIV.
A.D. 635.]

To recover the thread of events in Syria, it is necessary to go back
so far as the battle of Fihl. At the close of the fourteenth year
of the Hegira, Abu Obeida, leaving Amru to follow up the victory in
Palestine, and Yezîd as governor to hold Damascus, marched with the
remainder of his forces northward upon Hims, from whence the emperor
had been watching the progress of his enemies. He carried with him
Dzul Kelâa, who, posted with his Himyar column beyond Damascus, had
been, ever since the siege, covering the city from attack by the
Romans on the north. They had advanced but a little way, when they
were stopped by two Roman armies under Theodore and Shanas.[307]
Dividing his forces, Abu Obeida took Shanas himself in hand, and left
Khâlid to deal with the other. Damascus no longer covered, Theodore
thought to make a sudden dash upon it. But Yezîd, with his garrison,
was ready to confront him; and Khâlid, with a flying column, was
immediately in pursuit. Taken thus before and behind, Theodore’s army
was cut to pieces, but few escaping. Abu Obeida had meanwhile engaged
Shanas and put him to flight. Meeting no further opposition, the Arabs
continued their march, and attacked Báalbek, which after a short siege

[Sidenote: Hims [EMESSA] besieged.]

Abu Obeida then advanced straight upon Hims, and closely invested it.
Heraclius, on the defeat of Theodore, retired hastily on Roha,[308]
from whence he endeavoured to raise the Bedouins of Mesopotamia with
the view of effecting a diversion. [Sidenote: Dzul Cáda A.H. XIV.
January, A.D. 636,]This effort (as we have seen) was defeated by Sád,
who, making an inroad on Hît and Kirckesia, thus recalled the tribes
to the defence of their desert homes. The siege of Hims, prosecuted
with vigour, was bravely resisted. But the expectation of promised
succour died away; the severity of winter failed to make the Arabs
retire, the courage of the beleaguered garrison fell, and their sallies
became less frequent and effective. When the siege had been thus
protracted many weeks, suddenly an earthquake, with successive shocks,
breached the battlements. [Sidenote: and taken, A.H. XV. Spring, A.D.
636.] The governor, finding the position no longer tenable, offered
to capitulate; and the Moslems, unaware of the full extent of the
mischief, readily gave the same terms to the prostrate city as had been
given to Damascus. In answer to the despatch announcing the capture,
and forwarding the royal share of the booty, Omar bade Abu Obeida to
press forward; and promising further reinforcements, counselled him to
gain over the powerful Bedouin tribes on the border, and strengthen his
army thus.

[Sidenote: March continued northwards.]

Leaving, therefore, a garrison in Hims under Obâda, one of the Twelve
leaders,[309] Abu Obeida resumed his northward march. Hâma, and
other towns of inferior note, tendered their submission.[310] The
strongly fortified city of Laodicea alone showed an obstinate front;
but the Arabs made a feint of withdrawing, and then, a squadron,
darting suddenly back in the early morning through an open portal,
seized the defences, and overpowered the garrison. Advancing still
to the north, Khâlid, with great slaughter, defeated the Romans near
Kinnisrîn--a stronghold which, after a short defence, was seized and
dismantled.[311] In the battle we are told that a prince called Minas,
in dignity second only to the Emperor, was slain. Aleppo next fell,
after a brief resistance; and then Abu Obeida turned his arms westward
to Antioch. [Sidenote: Siege and surrender of _Antioch_.]In this, the
famous capital of Northern Syria, and emporium of merchandise, art,
and luxury, the broken troops of the Empire rallied. And here, at
length, within the great lines of circumvallation which ran along the
surrounding heights, we might have expected Heraclius to make a stand;
and, drawing fresh troops together, to battle against the disasters
which had befallen Syria. But no effort befitting the crisis appears
to have been even thought of. A heavy battle, indeed, was fought on
the wooded plain outside the walls; but the garrison was driven back,
and the city, surrounded on all sides, at last capitulated.[312] Such
are the details, comprised within the space of a few lines, which tell
us whatever we know of the loss of Northern Syria, stretching from
Damascus to the hilly range of Asia Minor.

[Sidenote: Northern Syria reduced.]

Eastwards, in the direction of Aleppo, the Romans made a last but
feeble attempt to regain their footing. They were again hopelessly
beaten, their leader slain, and great numbers taken prisoner. The
arm of the Empire was for the moment paralysed, and Syria, from the
Great River to the seashore, brought entirely under the sway of
Islam. The Arab tribes, as well as the settled inhabitants of towns
and villages, became tributary, and bound by engagements to keep the
conquerors informed of the movements of the enemy. Before long time,
the Bedouins, who sit ever loose to the trammels of religion, went
for the most part over to the Moslem faith. [Sidenote: State of the
Christian population.]But the urban population, as a whole, resisted
the inducements to abandon Christianity; and, although reduced, as the
Corân demanded, to an humbled and politically degraded state, they were
yet treated with moderation, their churches spared, and their worship
respected. They either reconciled themselves to their unhappy fate, or
retired unmolested into Roman territory.

[Sidenote: Heraclius retires to Constantinople.]

When Heraclius beheld his armies, one after another, defeated, and
his efforts to rally the Bedouin tribes end only in secession and
hostile risings throughout Mesopotamia, he gave up Syria as lost, and
fell back from Roha upon Samsât. But he was in peril even there. For,
after reducing Membij and other fortresses within the Syrian frontier,
Khâlid made a dash into Cilicia, and ravaged Marásh and the country
lying to the west of Samsât.[313] The Emperor, alarmed at his line of
retreat being thus threatened, retired altogether from the scene; and,
relinquishing the fairest provinces of his realm--provinces sacred
to the Christian faith--into the hands of his enemies, resolved to
recross the Bosphorus. Wending his sad way westward, he reached (so
the Arabian annalists tell us) an eminence from whence a last glimpse
might be had of the wooded hills and sunny plains that were vanishing
in the southern horizon. Heraclius turned to gaze, exclaiming, ‘Peace
be with thee, holy and blessed land! Syria, fare thee well! There is
for me no more returning unto thee; neither shall any Roman visit thee
for ever, but in fear and trembling, until the accursed Antichrist
shall come.’[314] It was but ten years before that the same Emperor,
performing on foot a pilgrimage to Jerusalem through this same
beautiful province, to commemorate the recovery of the ‘true Cross’ and
his own signal victories in the East, had cast aside a rude missive
from the Arabian Prophet demanding his submission to Islam. What seemed
then the wild phantasy of a maniac was now an accomplished fact.

[Sidenote: Story of Jabala, the Ghassanide Prince.]

A similar despatch from Mahomet had been at the same time received
by Jabala, last Prince of the Ghassanide dynasty. Jabala (so the
tradition runs) asked the Emperor’s leave to chastise the insolent
Arab, but was bidden to swell the imperial train at Jerusalem.[315]
And now Jabala was to share his Master’s fate. At the head of the
Beni Ghassân, he had fought loyally by the side of the Romans, till,
disheartened by the ignoble flight of Heraclius, he turned to Abu
Obeida, and embraced Islam. Splendidly clad, and with a pompous
following, he visited Medîna, where the people, familiar with the
illustrious name, and with the panegyric of their poet Hassân on his
condescension and munificence, received him with peculiar honours. He
then accompanied the Caliph to perform the pilgrimage at Mecca. There
a Bedouin chanced to tread, as he passed by, upon his flowing robe,
causing him to stumble and fall. The haughty prince struck the offender
on the face. To his amazement he was summoned before the Caliph, who
ordered that the law of retaliation[316] should have its course, and
that the Bedouin might have his satisfaction by returning the blow.
‘What!’ cried Jabala; ‘I, the Prince of the Ghassân, and he a common
Bedouin of the desert!’ ‘Yea,’ replied Omar; ‘for in Islam all men are
alike.’ Stung by the affront, Jabala disappeared during the night, and
retired to Constantinople. There he returned to the profession of the
Christian faith, and was hospitably entertained at the Byzantine Court.
The tale has been garnished by the touch of romance; and we are even
told that, pining after his old desert haunts and friends, he offered
again to recant and embrace Islam, if only Omar would promise to give
him one of his daughters to wife. But so much is certain, that he died
an exile, and left behind him a colony at Constantinople of his Arab

[Sidenote: Exchange of gifts between the Byzantine Queen and the
Caliph’s wife.]

I may notice here an interesting tradition, showing that friendly
relations subsisted at times between the Caliph and the Byzantine
Court. Omar’s wife, Omm Kolthûm, the daughter of Aly, sent to the
Empress a royal gift of frankincense, and precious things fit for the
toilet of a lady; and the Empress sent by the hands of the envoy in
return a beautiful necklace. Thereupon Omar gave command to call a
general assembly.[318] Then he propounded the question of the necklace.
Some said, ‘The Queen is not a subject; she hath sent a present for Omm
Kolthûm; let her keep it;’ other some, ‘It is but a gift in return for
a gift.’ But Omar said: ‘The envoy was the envoy of the Moslems, and
they have got this in return for his journey.’ So he commanded, and it
was made over to the treasury; but he gave his wife the value of it
from his privy purse.[319]

In this campaign, the chivalry of Khâlid made such an impression
upon Omar that he received him back into favour, and bestowed on
him the command of Kinnisrîn. ‘Verily,’ he said, in announcing the
appointment, ‘Khâlid hath proved himself a prince among men. Blessed be
the memory of Abu Bekr, for verily he knew mankind better than I.’ The
reconcilement, however, was not of long duration.[320]

                              CHAPTER XX.

                        CONQUEST OF PALESTINE.

                          A.H. XV. A.D. 636.

[Sidenote: Territorial division of Palestine.]

_Palestine_, according to the Arabs, is the tract that lies west
of the Dead Sea. If a line were drawn from the top of the sea obliquely
to Mount Carmel, all to the south of it would be Palestine. The zone
immediately to the north of the line, including the Ghôr, or valley
watered by the Jordan, is called _Ordonna_, or the province of the
_Jordan_. The country still farther north is _Syria_, and
that to the east of the Jordan the _Haurân_.[321]

[Sidenote: Palestine invaded.]

The first inroads of the Arabs were upon the province of the Jordan.
Issuing from Arabia, their beaten course, as we have seen, was the
highway to Damascus, along the pilgrim route of the present day, to
the east of the Dead Sea. The base of operations was, throughout
the Syrian campaign, at Jâbia, a town some little distance east of
the Sea of Tiberias; from whence, as a rendezvous, columns could be
forwarded, by the great military roads, either to Damascus, Báalbek,
and the north; or, again, to Tiberias, the Jordan, and Palestine. Soon
after the siege of Damascus and battle of Fihl, the greater part of
the province of the Jordan fell rapidly under the arms of Amru and
Shorahbîl. In Palestine proper, with Egypt in its rear, and Cæsarea
open to reinforcements by sea, the Roman power remained, for some time
longer, unbroken. The province was heavily garrisoned at Gaza, Ramleh,
Jerusalem, and other places. The Patrician Artabûn, commanding in
Palestine, divided his army into two parts. One guarded Jerusalem. With
the other, taking his stand at Ajnadein, some distance to the west,
he sought to hold the invaders advancing from Beisân, in check. This
foolhardy general is said to have invited Amru to a conference, having
laid an ambush by the way to slay him.[322] But he was outwitted by the
wily Arab, and, before long, found himself cut off all round from his
communications with Cæsarea, Jerusalem, and Ramleh. [Sidenote: Battle
of Ajnadein. A.H. XV. Spring, A.D. 636.] Amru then attacked the Roman
army; and a heavy and decisive engagement took place at Ajnadein. Of
its details we know little, for we are simply told that ‘the battle of
Ajnadein was fierce and bloody as the battle of Wacûsa.’ After great
slaughter, Artabûn was driven back upon Jerusalem. Amru encamped on
the battle-field, and the way was now clear to the Holy City. But he
took the precaution first to secure his rear, still bristling with
posts and garrisons. One after another--Gaza, Sebastia, Nablûs, Lydda,
Beit-Jibrîn, and Joppa--either fell before his arms, or, without a
blow, submitted to the Moslem yoke. Jerusalem and Ramleh alone held

[Sidenote: Capitulation of Jerusalem. A.H. XV. End of A.D. 636.]

Towards Jerusalem, a city surrounded by associations almost as sacred
as those of Mecca itself, Amru first directed his steps. On his
approach, Artabûn, dispirited by his late defeat, and unwilling to risk
the now desperate issue of a siege, retired with his army to Egypt. The
Patriarch, upon this, sued for peace. But one condition he made, that
Omar should come himself to the Holy City, and there, in person, settle
the capitulation.[324] The Caliph, nothing loth, braved the objections
of those about him, and at once set out for Syria.[325] Taking
the beaten track before described, he journeyed direct for Jâbia.
[Sidenote: Omar journeys to Jâbia;]It was a memorable occasion, being
the first progress of a Caliph beyond the limits of Arabia. Abu Obeida,
Yezîd, and Khâlid, came from the north in state, to welcome him. A
brilliant cavalcade, robed in Syrian brocade, and mounted on steeds
richly caparisoned, they rode forth as he approached. At the sight of
all their finery, Omar’s spirit was stirred within him. He stooped
down, and, gathering a handful of gravel, flung it at the astonished
chiefs. ‘Avaunt!’ he cried; ‘is it thus attired that ye come out to
meet me? All changed thus in the space of two short years! Verily,
had it been after two hundred, ye would have deserved to be degraded.’
‘Commander of the Faithful!’ they replied; ‘this that thou seest is but
the outside; beneath it (and they drew aside their robes) behold our
armour.’ ‘Enough,’ answered Omar, still much displeased; ‘go forward.’
So they fell in with his party, and alighted at Jâbia. Shortly after,
the camp was startled by the appearance of a troop of strange horse. It
was a deputation from Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem.[326] Terms of
capitulation were soon agreed to, and the treaty, duly witnessed, was
carried by the visitors back to their master; whereupon the gates of
Jerusalem, and of Ramleh also, were thrown open to the Moslem leaders.
Amru and Shorahbîl, thus relieved from further opposition, left their
troops and presented themselves at Jâbia. Omar rode forth to meet them;
and they kissed his stirrup, while he, dismounting, affectionately
embraced them both.

[Sidenote: and visits Jerusalem.]

Dismissing the other generals to their respective commands, the Caliph,
carrying with him Amru and Shorahbîl, resumed his journey westward,
and, crossing the Jordan below the Lake of Tiberias, proceeded thus
to Jerusalem. They gave him a palfrey to ride on, which pranced with
jingling bells after the fashion of Syria. He disliked the motion.
‘What aileth the animal?’ he said; ‘I know not who hath taught thee
this strange gait.’ So he dismounted and rode upon his own horse
again.[327] Arrived at Jerusalem, the Caliph received the Patriarch
and citizens with kindness and condescension. He granted them the same
privileges as to the most favoured cities; imposed on the inhabitants
an easy tribute, and confirmed them in possession of all their
shrines and churches. Jerusalem was to the Moslem an object of intense
veneration, not only as the cradle of Judaism and Christianity, but
as the first _Kibla_ of Islam itself--that is, the sacred spot
to which the Faithful turn in prayer; and also as the place visited
by the Prophet on his mysterious journey by night to heaven.[328] At
the crest of the sacred mount there is a stony projection, which the
tradition of the day had marked as Jacob’s pillow. The fond imagination
of the Moslems has fixed upon this as the very point in the ‘Farther
Temple,’ from which the winged steed mounted by Mahomet took its upward
flight; and in a depression of the rock the eye, or the hand, of faith
still traces the outline of the Prophet’s foot imprinted there as he
sprang into his airy saddle. It was close to this that Omar laid the
foundation of the Mosque which, to this day, bears his name.[329]

[Sidenote: Christian tradition regarding Omar’s visit to Jerusalem.]

Mahometan tradition gives no further detail respecting this memorable
visit. But we are told by Christian writers that Omar accompanied
Sophronius over the city, visited the Jerusalem, various places
of pilgrimage, and graciously inquired into their history. As the
appointed hour came round, the Patriarch bade the Caliph to perform his
orisons on the spot where they chanced to be, namely, the Church of the
Resurrection. But he declined to pray either there or in the Church
of Constantine, where a carpet had been spread for him--alleging, as
the reason, that if he were to pray there, his followers would deem it
their duty to oust the Christians and take possession of the church for
ever afterwards, as a place where Moslem prayer had once been offered
up. He also visited Bethlehem. There, having prayed in the Church
of the Nativity, he gave nevertheless a rescript to the Patriarch
who accompanied him on the pious errand, securing the Christians in
possession of the building, with the condition that not more than one
Mussulman should ever enter at a time; but the stipulation, we are
told, was disregarded, and a Mosque was eventually erected there, as
well as on the site of the porch of the Church of Constantine.[330]

[Sidenote: Omar returns to Medîna.]

Whatever truth there may be in these traditions, Omar did not prolong
his visit to Jerusalem or its environs. Having settled the matter for
which he came, he proceeded to divide Palestine into two provinces; one
of which he assigned to the government of Jerusalem, and the other to
that of Ramleh. He then returned by the way that he came to Medîna.[331]

[Sidenote: Causes which facilitated the conquest of Syria.]

Thus was Syria, from the farthest north to the border of Egypt,
within the space of three years, lost to Christendom. One reflects
with wonder at the feeble resistance offered by the Byzantine power,
both military and naval, and by its many strongholds of antiquity and
renown, to this sudden inroad. The affinities of the Syrian Bedouins
to the Arabian nation facilitated no doubt the conquest. There was
also an element of weakness in the settled population; for luxurious
living had demoralised the effeminate race and rendered it unable to
resist the onset of the wild and fanatic invaders. Still worse, they
had no heart to fight. What patriotic vigour might have still survived,
was lost in religious strife. Sects rejoiced each in the humiliation
of the other; and, as is usual in such controversies, the finer the
distinction, the more inveterate the hatred thereby engendered. Loyalty
was thus smothered by bitter jealousies, and there are not wanting
instances even of active assistance rendered to the enemy.[332] There
may have been among some, even a sense of relief in the equal though
contemptuous licence given, by the toleration or haughty indifference
of the conquerors, to all alike. But there was a still deeper cause,
and that was the growing decrepitude of the Roman empire. No vigour
remained to drive back the shock of barbarian invaders. And while
northern hordes could by degrees amalgamate with the nations which they
overran, the exclusive faith and the intolerant teaching of Islam kept
the Arabs a race distinct and dominant.

[Sidenote: The Arabs did not settle in Syria to the same extent as in

The conquerors did not spread themselves abroad in Syria, as in
Chaldæa. They founded no such Arabian towns and military settlements
as Bussorah and Kûfa. The country and climate were less congenial,
and the beautiful scenery, of the land of brooks of water and depths
springing out of valleys and hills, the land of vines and fig-trees
and pomegranates, the land of oil-olive and honey, offered fewer
attractions to the Arabian races than the heated sandy plains of the
Tigris and Euphrates, with their desert garb of tamarisk and groves
of the familiar date. They came to Syria as conquerors; and, as
conquerors, they settled largely, particularly the southern tribes, in
Damascus, Hims, and other centres of administration. But the body of
the native Syrians remained after the conquest substantially the same
as before; and through long centuries of degradation they clung, as to
some extent they still cling, to their ancestral faith.

[Sidenote: Humiliation of Jews and Christians.]

We read in later days of the _Ordinance of Omar_, to regulate the
conditions of Christian communities throughout Islam. But it would be
a libel on that tolerant Ruler to credit him with the greater part of
these observances. It is true that the stamp of inferiority--according
to the Divine injunction, _Fight against the people of the Book, Jews
and Christians, until they pay tribute with their hands and
are humbled_[333]--was branded upon them from the first; but the
worst disabilities of that intolerant Ordinance were not imposed till
a later period. Introduced by degrees, these gradually became, through
practice and precedent, the law of the land. At the first the exactions
of the conquerors, besides the universal tribute, were limited to
the demand of a yearly supply of oil-olive and other food, and the
obligation to entertain Moslem travellers on their journey for three
days at a time. But when the Caliphate was established at Damascus,
its pomp and pride could no longer brook the semblance even of social
equality, and hence the badge of an inferior race must be shown at
every step. The dress of both sexes and of their slaves must be
distinguished by broad stripes of yellow. They were forbidden to appear
on horseback; and if they rode on mule or ass, their stirrups must be
of wood, and the saddle known by knobs of the same material. Their
graves must be level with the ground, and the mark of the devil placed
on the lintel of their doors. Their children must be taught by Moslem
masters; and the race, however able or well qualified, was proscribed
from aspiring to any office of high emolument or trust. Besides the
existing churches spared at the conquest, no new building must be
erected for the purposes of worship; free entry into all their holy
places must be allowed at the pleasure of the Moslem; no cross must
remain in view outside, nor any church bells rung. They must refrain
from processions in the street at Easter and other solemn seasons;
and in short from anything, whether by outward symbol, word, or deed,
in rivalry or derogation of the royal faith. Such was the so-called
_Code of Omar_.[334] Enforced with less or greater stringency
in different lands and under different dynasties, it was, and still
remains, the law of Islam. One must admire the rare tenacity of the
subject faith, which, with but scanty light and hope, held its ground
through weary ages of insult and depression, and still survives to see,
as we now may hope, the dawning of a brighter day.

[Sidenote: The East cut off from the West.]

I have spoken of the loss of Syria as the dismemberment of a limb
from the Byzantine empire. In one respect it was something more. For
their own safety, the Romans dismantled a broad belt of country on
the borders of the now barbarian Syria. The towns and fortresses were
razed, and the inhabitants withdrawn. And so the neutral zone became
a barrier against travel to and fro. For all ordinary communication,
whether social, religious, or commercial, the road was closed. The East
was severed from the West.

[Sidenote: Silence of Byzantine historians.]

‘The abomination of desolation’ wept over by Sophronius stood in the
Holy Place. The cradle of Christianity, Zion the joy of the whole
earth, was trodden under foot, and utterly cut off from the sight of
its votaries. And all is told by the Byzantine writers in a few short
lines. The pen of the Christian annalist might well refuse to write the
story of cowardice and shame.

                             CHAPTER XXI.

                       RISING IN NORTHERN SYRIA.

                         A.H. XVII. A.D. 638.

[Sidenote: Rising in Northern Syria.]

In the sixth year of Omar’s Caliphate, a desperate effort was made
by the Byzantine power, and at one moment not without some prospect
of success, to shake off the Moslem yoke and recover possession of
Northern Syria.

[Sidenote: Romans by sea support attack of Mesopotamian Bedouins.
A.H. XVII. A.D. 638.]

The movement is attributed by tradition to an appeal from the
Christian tribes of Mesopotamia, which when the Roman army retired
into Asia Minor, besought the Emperor to save them from falling under
his adversary’s sway. Although the Moslem frontier on the side of
Cilicia was tolerably secure, yet the seaboard to the west, and the
desert border on the east of Syria, were both vulnerable. Most of the
strongholds of Mesopotamia, it is true, had already fallen into the
hands of Sád;[335] but the wandering Bedouins were not controlled by
these, and with few exceptions the numerous Christian tribes still
looked for support to the Persian or the Roman empires. The maritime
power of the Romans was yet untouched. Cæsarea with its naval supports
remained proof against landward attack; and the whole sea coast was
kept unsettled by the hope, or by the fear, that the Roman fleet
might at any time appear. The Emperor now promised the dwellers in
Mesopotamia that he would second their efforts by way of the sea. An
expedition was accordingly directed from the port of Alexandria upon
Antioch; while the Bedouins gathered in great hordes around Hims. Thus
seriously threatened, Abu Obeida called in Khâlid from Kinnisrîn, and
every garrison that could be spared from the south. But the enemy was
still too strong to be dispersed by the force at his disposal, and so
he sent an urgent summons for assistance to Medîna. Thereupon Omar
ordered Sád to despatch a strong column from Kûfa under Cacâa for
the relief of Hims without a day’s delay; and likewise to effect a
diversion by sending other columns against Rickka, Roha, Nisibîn, and
such like strongholds in Upper Mesopotamia. Meanwhile the Romans landed
from their ships. Antioch threw open her gates to them; and Kinnisrîn,
Aleppo, and all the chief towns in the north, were in full revolt.
Abu Obeida called a council of war; Khâlid was for giving battle, but
he was alone in that view. Abu Obeida, feeling too weak to cope with
the now combined forces of the Bedouins and Romans, retired within
the walls of Hims, and, hemmed in by enemies, awaited the succour now
advancing from Kûfa. So grave did Omar himself regard the crisis that,
quitting Medîna for the second time, he journeyed to Jâbia, intending
to march in person with the reinforcements northwards. But while on
the journey, a change had already come over the scene. The vigorous
movements in Mesopotamia so alarmed the Bedouins for the safety of
their homes in the desert, that they began to forsake the Roman cause.
[Sidenote: Abu Obeida puts the Romans and Bedouins to flight.]Seeing
now his opportunity, Abu Obeida issued from the fortress, and after a
severe engagement routed the enemy, who fled in such confusion that,
even before the arrival of Cacâa, they were totally dispersed. Omar
returned from Jâbia to Medîna. He was delighted at the result; and he
specially commended the alacrity of the Kûfa column:--‘The Lord reward
them,’ he wrote to Sád, ‘for their ready gathering and their speedy
march to the succour of their beleaguered brethren.’[336]

[Sidenote: Campaign in Mesopotamia and Asia Minor. A.H. XVII. A.D. 638.]

It was the last effort of Constantinople to expel the invader from
Syria, and the yoke plainly now was not to be shaken off. The
expeditions undertaken for diverting the nomad insurgents had also
the effect of reducing Mesopotamia to its uttermost limits. But not
content with this, the infant faith, becoming conscious of its giant
strength, began to stretch itself towards the north. The successes
in Mesopotamia were followed up by a campaign in Asia Minor, under
distinguished leaders; and the name of Iyâdh, the general-in-chief,
under whom even Khâlid did not disdain to serve, begins to figure in
the brief Byzantine record.[337] Nisibîn,[338] Amida, Harrân, Roha, and
all the strong places lying along the northern frontier were taken or
recaptured, and even Armenia was overrun.[339]

[Sidenote: Christian tribes in Mesopotamia. The Beni Iyâdh.]

Most of the Bedouin tribes in Mesopotamia embraced Islam. There
were exceptions, and the story of the Beni Iyâdh is singular. They
migrated to the north and found an asylum in Roman territory. But Omar,
nettled at their disappearance, and fearing lest they should remain
a thorn in his side, demanded their extradition from the Byzantine
Court, on pain of the expulsion of all the Christian tribes living
under his protection. And the Emperor, unwilling to expose these to
ill-treatment, complied with the demand.[340] Equally remarkable
is the tale of the Beni Taghlib. [Sidenote: Beni Taghlib allowed to
pay tithe.]They tendered their submission to Welîd ibn Ocba, who,
solicitous for the adhesion to Islam of this great and famous race,
pressed them with some rigour to abjure their ancient faith. Omar was
much displeased at this,--‘Leave them,’ he wrote, ‘in the profession
of the Gospel. It is only within the bounds of the Peninsula, where
are the Holy Places, that no polytheist tribe is permitted to remain.’
Welîd was removed from his command; and it was enjoined on his
successor to stipulate only that the usual tribute should be paid, that
no member of the tribe should be hindered from embracing Islam, and
that the children should not be educated in the Christian faith. The
tribe, deeming in its pride the payment of ‘tribute’ (_jazia_) an
indignity, sent a deputation to the Caliph:--They were willing, they
said, to pay the tax if only it were levied under the same name as that
taken from the Moslems. Omar evinced his liberality by allowing the
concession; and so the Beni Taghlib enjoyed the singular privilege of
being assessed as Christians at a ‘double _Tithe_,’ instead of
paying _Jazia_, the obnoxious badge of subjugation.[341]

[Sidenote: Fall of Cæsarea. A.H. XVII. A.D. 638.]

The last place to hold out in Syria was Cæsarea. It fell a last in the
fifth year of Omar’s Caliphate. Amru had sat long before it. But, being
open to the sea, and the battlements landward strong and well manned,
it resisted all his efforts; and although Yezîd sent his brother Muâvia
with reinforcements from Damascus, the siege was prolonged for several
years. Sallies persistently made by the garrison, were driven back with
equal constancy. In the end, as we are told, by the treachery of a
Jew, a weak point was discovered in the defences. The city was carried
by storm, with prodigious carnage of the wretched inhabitants. Four
thousand prisoners, of either sex, were despatched as part of the prey
to Medîna, and there distributed in slavery.[342]

[Sidenote: Khâlid brought to trial. A.H. XVII. A.D. 638–9.]

Khâlid had again the misfortune to incur the displeasure of Omar. He
came back from the campaign of Iyâdh greatly enriched with the spoils
of war. In expectation of his bounty, many of his old friends from
Irâc flocked to him on his return to his government at Kinnisrîn; and
amongst these was Asháth, chief of the Beni Kinda, to whom he gave
the princely largess of one thousand pieces of gold. Again, at Amida
in the east, Khâlid had indulged in the luxury of a bath mingled with
wine, the odour whereof as he came forth still clung about him. On
both charges he was now arraigned. About the second, there could be no
question; the use of wine, even externally, was a forbidden thing, and
Khâlid forswore the indulgence in it even thus. The other offence was
graver in the Caliph’s eyes. Either the gift was booty of the army; or,
if Khâlid’s own to give away, he was guilty, even on that supposition,
of culpable extravagance. Whichever was the case, he deserved to be
deposed from his command. In such terms a rescript was addressed to
Abu Obeida, and sent by the hands of a courier charged to see that the
command was fully carried out. Khâlid was to be accused publicly; his
helmet[343] taken off; his hands bound with his head-kerchief; and so
arraigned he was to declare the truth.

[Sidenote: Khâlid arraigned at Hims for malversation;]

With Abu Obeida this was an ungracious task; for to the now degraded
warrior he was beholden for all his victories in Syria. But the
Caliph’s word was law. And so he summoned Khâlid from his seat of
government, proclaimed an assembly in the great Mosque of Hims, and,
standing in the pulpit, placed Khâlid in the midst. Then the courier
put his master’s question--From whence the money given to Asháth came?
Khâlid, confounded at the unexpected charge, made no reply. Pressed
by his friends, still he remained silent. Abu Obeida stood himself
embarrassed, and a painful pause ensued. At last Bilâl, privileged as
the Muedzzin of the Prophet, stepped forth, and with stentorian voice
cried, ‘_Thus and thus hath the Commander of the Faithful said, and
it is incumbent on us to obey_;’ so saying, he unwound the kerchief
from the head of Khâlid, bound his hands therewith, and took off his
helmet. The great warrior, to whom Islam owed its conquests, stood
as a felon before the congregation. Bilâl repeated the question, and
Khâlid at length replied, ‘The money was my own.’ At once Bilâl unbound
his hands, and, replacing the helmet on his head, wound the kerchief
around it as before, and said, ‘We honour thee still, even as we did
honour thee before, one of our chiefest captains.’ But Abu Obeida was
silent; and Khâlid, stunned by the disgrace, stood speechless and
bewildered. Abu Obeida had not the heart to tell him of his deposition;
but, without sending him back to his seat of government, spoke kindly
to him as to one who still had his confidence. Omar understood the
delicacy of Abu Obeida’s position, and himself summoned Khâlid to
Medîna. [Sidenote: summoned to Medîna,]Prompt to obey, though sore at
heart, Khâlid first returned to Kinnisrîn; and both there and at Hims,
bidding adieu to his friends and to the people, he complained openly
and bitterly of the ingratitude of a prince who scrupled not to use
him in his times of difficulty, but cast him aside when, through his
aid, he had reached the summit of his power. Arrived at Medîna, he
reproached the Caliph: ‘I swear that thou hast treated despitefully a
faithful servant to whom thou owest much; and I appeal from thee to the
whole body of the Faithful.’ ‘Whence came that money?’ was Omar’s only
answer. The question was repeated day by day; till at last, galled by
the charge of unfaithfulness, Khâlid made answer thus: ‘I have nought
but the spoil which the Lord hath given me in the days of Abu Bekr, as
well as in thine own. Whatever thou findest over 60,000 pieces, hath
been gained in thy Caliphate; take it if thou wilt.’ So his effects
were valued, and the estimate reaching 80,000, Omar confiscated the
difference. [Sidenote: and there mulcted and deposed.]But he still
affected to hold the great general in honour and regard. Accordingly,
he sent a rescript to the various provinces, announcing that he had
deposed Khâlid, not because of any tyranny or fraud, but because he
deemed it needful to remove a stumbling-block out of the way of the
people, who were tempted to put their trust in an arm of flesh, instead
of looking alone to the Giver of all victory.

[Sidenote: Khâlid dies in neglect. A.H. XXI.]

So closed the career of Khâlid. The first beginning of Omar’s
alienation was the affair of Mâlik ibn Noweira, followed by acts of
tyranny in Irâc, which grated on his sense of clemency and justice.
But these acts had long since been condoned; and therefore his conduct
now was ungenerous and unjust. He used the ‘Sword of God’ so long as
he had need of it, and when by it victory was secured, he cast it
ungratefully away. Khâlid retired to Hims, and did not long survive.
His manner of life when in the full tide of prosperity may be gathered
from the brief notice that in the Plague (of which mention will soon
be made) _forty_ of his sons were carried off. The remainder of
the family took refuge, like many others, in the desert. Soon after,
in the eighth year of Omar’s Caliphate, the great general died. In his
last illness he kept showing the scars which thickly covered his body
all over--marks of his bravery and unflinching prowess. ‘And now,’ he
said, ‘I die even as a coward dieth, or as the camel breatheth its last
breath.’ His end illustrates forcibly the instability of this world’s
fame and glory. The hero who had borne Islam aloft to the crest of
victory and conquest, ended his days in penury and neglect.[344]

                             CHAPTER XXII.


                     A.H. XIV., XV. A.D. 635, 636.

[Sidenote: Domestic events. A.H. XIV., XV.]

I must now revert to one or two matters of domestic interest, which,
not to break the story of external conquest, I have refrained from
noticing before.

[Sidenote: Expulsion of Jews and Christians from Arabia.]

Arabia, as the nursery of the legions destined to wage the wars of
Islam, must be purged of strange religions. And accordingly, so soon as
victory was secured in Syria and Irâc, Omar proceeded to signalise his
reign by an act of harshness, if not of questionable equity.

[Sidenote: Christians removed from Najrân,]

In the centre of Arabia lies the province of Najrân, inhabited from
of old by a Christian people. Mahomet had concluded a treaty with
their chiefs and bishops, by which the annual tribute of 2,000 suits
of raiment secured them safety in the undisturbed profession of their
ancestral faith. Throughout the rebellion they remained loyal to their
engagements, and Abu Bekr renewed the treaty. Worthy descendants of
a martyr race, they resisted the blandishments of Islam; and as a
penalty they must now quit their native soil, consecrated, in the
persecution of Dzu Nowâs, by the ashes of their forefathers.[345]
They were ordered to depart and receive lands in exchange elsewhere.
Some migrated to Syria; but the greater part settled in the vicinity
of Kûfa, where the colony of Najrânia long maintained the memory of
Mahometan intolerance. The rights, however, conferred upon them by
the Prophet’s treaty, so far as their expatriation might admit, were
respected by successive rulers; and their tribute, with decreasing
numbers, lightened sensibly from time to time. [Sidenote: and Jews from
Kheibar.]After their removal, no long time elapsed before the Jews of
Kheibar, a rich vale two or three days’ journey north of Medîna, met a
similar fate. Their claim was not so strong as the Christians’; for,
conquered by Mahomet, they had been left on sufferance in possession
of their fields at a rent of half the produce. In return for this
partial right from which they now were ousted, they received a money
payment, and then departed for Syria. Various pretexts are urged for
the expatriation in either case. But behind them all we find the
dogma--supposed dying behest of Mahomet--_In Arabia there shall be
but one religion_. The recruiting field of Islam must be sacred

[Sidenote: The Arabs as a nation share the spoils of war.]

The Arabian nation was the champion of Islam; and to fight its battles
every Arab was jealously reserved. He must be the soldier, and nothing
else. He might not settle down in any conquered province as cultivator
of the soil; and for merchandise or other labour, a busy warlike life
offered but little leisure. Neither was there any need. The Arabs lived
on the fat of the conquered lands, and captive nations served them.
Of the booty taken in war, four parts were distributed to the army in
the field; the fifth was reserved for the State; and even that, after
discharging public obligations, was shared among the Arabian people. In
the reign of Abu Bekr this was a simple matter. But in the Caliphate
of Omar the spoil of Syria and of Persia began in ever-increasing
volume to pour into the treasury of Medîna, where it was distributed
almost as soon as received. What was easy in small beginnings, by equal
sharing or discretionary preference, became now a heavy task. And there
began, also, to arise new sources of revenue in the land assessment
and the poll tax of subject countries, which, after defraying
civil and military charges, had to be accounted for to the Central
Government;--the surplus being, like the royal Fifth, the patrimony of
the Arab nation.

[Sidenote: New rule of distribution by classes of merit.]

At length, in the second or third year of his Caliphate, Omar
determined that the distribution should be regulated on a fixed and
systematic scale. The income of the Commonwealth was to be divided, as
heretofore, amongst the Faithful as their heritage, but upon a rule of
precedence befitting the military and theocratic groundwork of Islam.
For this end three points only were considered: priority of conversion,
affinity to the Prophet, and military service. The widows of Mahomet,
‘Mothers of the Faithful,’ took the precedence with an annual allowance
of 10,000 pieces each; and all his kinsmen were with a corresponding
liberality provided for.[347] The famous Three Hundred of Bedr had
5,000 each; presence at Hodeibia and the _Pledge of the Tree_[348]
gave a claim to 4,000; such as took part in quelling the Rebellion had
3,000; and those engaged in the great battles of Syria and Irâc, as
well as sons of the men of Bedr, 2,000; those taking the field after
the actions of Câdesîya and the Yermûk, 1,000. Warriors of distinction
received an extra grant of 500. And so they graduated downwards to 200
pieces for the latest levies. Nor were the households forgotten. Women
had, as a rule, one-tenth of a man’s share. Wives, widows, and children
had each their proper stipend; and in the register, every infant, as
soon as born, had the title to be entered with a minimum allowance of
ten pieces, rising with advancing age to its proper place. Even Arab
slaves (so long as any of that race remained) had, strange to say,
their portion.

[Sidenote: All other nations a lower class.]

Thus every soul was rated at its worth. But the privilege was confined
most strictly to those of Arab blood. A few exceptions, indeed, were
made of distinguished Persian chiefs; but the mention of them only
proves the stringency of the general rule.[349] The whole nation,
every man, woman, and child of the militant Arab race, was subsidised.
In theory, the rights of all believers were the same. ‘Ye are one
brotherhood,’ said Mahomet at the Farewell pilgrimage; and as he spake
he placed two fingers of one hand upon his other hand, to enforce the
absolute equality.[350] But in point of fact, the equality was limited
to the Arab nation. The right of any brother of alien race was a dole
of food sufficient for subsistence, and no more.[351]

[Sidenote: Principle adopted by Omar disarms Arabian jealousies.]

A great nation dividing thus amongst them their whole revenues, spoil,
and conquests, first on the principle of equal brotherhood, and next
on that of martial merit and spiritual distinction, is a spectacle
probably without parallel in the world. The rule itself was well
conceived. In no other way would it have been possible to reconcile
the jealous susceptibilities of tribal rivalry.[352] Safwân, Soheil,
and other great chiefs of the Coreish, who fell into a lower class
because they had not joined the Prophet till after the capture of
Mecca, refused at first any allowance but the highest: ‘We know of none
nobler than ourselves,’ they said; ‘and less than any other we will not
take.’ ‘Not so,’ answered Omar; ‘I give it by priority of faith, and
not for noble birth.’ ‘It is well,’ they replied; and no reason but
this, unanswerable because already axiomatic among the Moslems, would
have satisfied them. Apart from tribal jealousy, there were two other
sources of danger: first, the rivalry between the Bedouin tribes, on
the one hand, and the ‘Companions,’ or men of Mecca and Medîna, on the
other; and, second, between the Beni Hâshim (the Prophet’s family),
the Omeyyads, and the Coreish at large;--jealousies which by-and-by
developed into large proportions, and threatened the very existence
of the Caliphate; but which, held in check by the strong arm of Omar,
were now for a time avoided by assuming a spiritual test as the main
ground of precedence.

[Sidenote: Omar perpetuates military organisation of Arabs.]

The Arabian aristocracy thus created was recognised by the whole Moslem
world. The rank and stipend now assigned descended in the direct line
of birth. Even rewards given for special gallantry in the field were
heritable.[353] By making thus the revenues of Islam the heritage of
the nation militant, their martial genius was maintained, and their
employment perpetuated as the standing army of the Caliphate. The
ennobled nation, pampered by indulgence, factious and turbulent when
idle, were indeed too often a serious element of sedition and intrigue.
But they were nevertheless the backbone of Islam, the secret of its
conquests, and the stay of the Caliphate. The crowded harems multiplied
the race with marvellous rapidity; and the progeny were, by Omar’s
organisation, kept sedulously distinct, so as never to mingle with
the conquered races. Wherever they went they formed a class distinct
and dominant--the nobles and rulers of the land. The subject peoples,
even if they embraced Islam, were of a lower caste; and as clients of
some Arab chief or tribe, courted their patronage and protection. Thus
the fighting nation was set apart for the sacred task of subjugating
nations and of propagating Islam; and even after the new-born zeal
of the Faith had to some extent evaporated, the martial fire of the
Arabs as a whole and undivided people was, owing mainly to Omar’s
foresight, kept alive in full activity for two centuries and a half.
The nation was, and continued, an army mobilised; the cantonment, not
the city, their home; their business, war and the camp;--a people whose
hereditary calling it was to be ready to march on warlike expeditions
at a moment’s notice.

[Sidenote: Register of all Arabs entitled to a stipend.]

To carry out this vast design, a Register had to be drawn and kept
up of every man, woman, and child, entitled to a stipend from the
State--in other words, of the whole Arab race employed in the
interests of Islam. This was easy enough for the higher grades, but
a herculean task for the hundreds of thousands of ordinary fighting
men and their families who kept streaming forth from the Peninsula;
and who, by the extravagant indulgence of polygamy, were multiplying
rapidly. But the task was simplified by the strictly tribal composition
and disposition of the forces. Men of a tribe, or branch of a tribe,
fought together; and the several corps and brigades being thus
territorially arranged in clans, the Register assumed the same form.
Every soul was entered under the stock and tribe and clan whose lineage
it claimed. And to this exhaustive classification we owe in great
measure the elaborate genealogies and tribal traditions of Arabia
before Islam.

[Sidenote: The _Dewân_ of Omar.]

The Register itself, as well as the office for its maintenance and
for pensionary account, was called the DEWÂN or Department
of the Exchequer. The State had by this time, as we have seen, an
income swollen by the tribute of conquered cities, the poll-tax of
subjugated peoples, the land and other regular assessments, the spoil
of war, and the tithes. The first charge was for the revenue and civil
administration; the next for military requirements, which began soon
to assume a sustained and permanent form; the surplus remained (as
has been now set forth) for pensionary and eleemosynary distribution.
The whole revenues of Islam were thus expended as soon, almost, as
received; and Omar took a special pride in seeing the treasury, in
accord with this principle, emptied to the last dirhem.[354] The
accounts of the various provinces were at the first kept by natives
of the country in the character to which they were accustomed--in
Syria by Greeks, and in Irâc by Persians. At Kûfa the use of Pehlevi
was maintained till the time of Hajjâj, when, an Arab assistant having
learned the art from the chief treasurer, the Arabic system of record
and notation was introduced.

[Sidenote: Vast extent of Arab exodus.]

We are not told the numerical result of the Dewân of Omar, but the
population of Kûfa and Bussora may give us a standard to judge of the
vast exodus in progress from Arabia, and the rapid strides by which the
crowded harems multiplied the race. Arab ladies, as a rule, married
only Arab husbands; but the other sex, besides unlimited indulgence
in servile concubinage, were free to contract marriage with the women
of conquered lands, whether converts or ‘people of the Book;’ for
marriage is lawful between a Moslem and females of the Jewish and
Christian faith. And although the wives of Arab blood took precedence
in virtue of rank and birth, the children also of every Arab father,
whether the mother were slave or free, Moslem, Jew, or Christian, were
equal in legitimacy. And so the nation multiplied. Looking to these
considerations and to the new drain upon Arabia to meet the conquests
in Egypt and Persia (of which anon), we shall not greatly err if we
assume that before Omar’s death the number of Arabs beyond the limits
of Arabia proper, reached to Half a million, and eventually doubled,
perhaps quadrupled.

[Sidenote: Provincial administration.]

Civil administration followed in the wake of conquest. In Chaldæa, the
great network of canals was early taken in hand. The long-neglected
embankments of the Euphrates were placed under charge of a special
officer, and those of the Tigris under another. Syria and Irâc were
measured field by field; and the assessment of the lands, both crown
and provincial, established on a uniform system. In Irâc, the agency of
the Dihcâns, or great landholders, was taken advantage of, as under the
Sassanide dynasty, to aid in the police and revenue administration.

[Sidenote: Reserves of cavalry.]

In addition to the armies in the field, Omar arranged that a reserve
of cavalry should be maintained at the head-quarters of the several
provinces, in proportion to their resources, ready to be called out
upon emergency. The corps at Kûfa numbered 4,000 lances, and there were
eight such centres. Reserves for forage were also everywhere set apart;
and the cost of these measures formed a first charge upon provincial

[Sidenote: Corân; how ‘collected.’]

The various Suras and fragments of the Corân had by this time been
compiled into a single volume. The ‘collecting’ of these was begun in
the reign of Abu Bekr, at the suggestion of Omar, who was alarmed at
the loss of so many of those, who had the Revelation by heart, in the
battle of Yemâma. ‘I fear,’ he said to Abu Bekr, ‘that slaughter may
again wax hot amongst the Reciters of the Corân in other fields of
battle, and that much may be lost of the divine text; now, therefore,
give orders speedily for its collection.’ The commission was given to
Zeid ibn Thâbit, who, as the Prophet’s amanuensis, had written down
much of the revelation from the Prophet’s lips. At first he scrupled to
do what Mahomet himself had left undone. At last he accepted the task;
and seeking out the Suras and scattered fragments and verses from every
quarter, ‘gathered them together from date leaves, shreds of leather
and parchment, shoulder blades, tablets of white stone, and the breasts
of men.’ By the labours of Zeid, these confused materials were reduced
to the comparative order and sequence in which we now find them; but
in its obscurity and incoherence, the collection still bears traces in
almost every page of the haphazard way in which the pieces, thus rudely
dovetailed, were compiled. The original copy was committed to the
custody of Haphsa, Omar’s daughter, one of the Prophet’s widows; and
during Omar’s Caliphate this exemplar continued to be the standard and
authoritative text of the Corân.[355]

                            CHAPTER XXIII.

                          FAMINE AND PLAGUE.

                         A.H. XVIII. A.D. 639.

[Sidenote: The _Year of Ashes_. A.H. XVIII. A.D. 639.]

The fifth year of Omar’s Caliphate was darkened by the double calamity
of pestilence and famine. It is called ‘The Year of Ashes;’ for the dry
air of the Hejâz was so charged with the unslaked dust of the parched
and sandy soil as to obscure the light by a thick and sultry haze.[356]

[Sidenote: Famine in the Hejâz.]

In the northern half of the Peninsula the drought was so severe that
all nature languished. Wild and timid creatures of the desert, tamed
by want, came seeking food at the hand of man. Flocks and herds died
of starvation, or were so attenuated as to become unfit for human
food. Markets were empty and deserted. The people suffered extremities
like those of a garrison long besieged. Crowds of Bedouins, driven
by hunger, flocked to Medîna and aggravated the distress. Omar, with
characteristic self-denial, refused any indulgence which could not
be shared with those around him. He took an oath that he would taste
neither meat nor butter, nor even milk, until the people at large had
food enough and to spare. On one occasion his servant obtained at a
great price a skin filled with milk, and another with butter. Omar sent
both away in alms. ‘I will not eat,’ he said, ‘of that which costeth
much; for how then should I know the trouble of my people, if I suffer
not even as they?’ From coarse fare and the use of oil-olive instead
of milk and butter, the Caliph’s countenance, naturally fresh and
bright, became sallow and haggard.[357]

[Sidenote: Grain imported from Syria and other lands.]

Every effort was made to alleviate distress, and as the famine was
limited to Arabia, or at any rate was sorest there, Omar sent letters
to the various governors abroad, who promptly aided him in this
extremity. Abu Obeida came himself with four thousand beasts of burden
laden with corn from Syria, which he distributed with his own hand
amongst the famished people. Amru despatched food from Palestine, both
by camels and by shipping from the port of Ayla.[358] Supplies came
also from Irâc. The beasts of burden were slain by twenties daily, and
served, together with their freight, to feed the citizens of Medîna.
After nine months of sore trial, the heavens were overcast, in answer
(we are told) to a solemn service, in which Abbâs, the Prophet’s aged
uncle, took a part; the rain descended in heavy showers and drenched
the land.[359] The grass sprang rapidly, the Bedouins were sent back
to their pasture lands, and plenty again prevailed. Benefit accrued
from the calamity, for a permanent traffic was established with the
north; and the markets of the Hejâz continued long to be supplied from
Syria, and eventually by sea from Egypt.[360]

[Sidenote: Plague breaks out in Syria.]

The famine was followed, but in a different region, by a still worse
calamity. The plague broke out in Syria; and, attacking with special
virulence the head-quarters of the Arabs at Hims and Damascus,
devastated the whole province. Crossing the desert, it spread to Irâc,
and even as far as Bussorah. Consternation pervaded all ranks. High
and low fell equally before the scourge. Men were struck down as by
a sudden blow, and death followed rapidly. Omar’s first impulse was
to summon Abu Obeida to his presence for a time, lest he too should
fall a victim to the fell disease. Knowing the chivalrous spirit of
his friend, the Caliph veiled his purpose, and simply ordered him to
visit Medîna ‘on an urgent affair.’ But Abu Obeida divined the cause,
and, choosing rather to share the danger with his people, begged to be
excused. Omar, as he read the answer, burst into tears. ‘Is Abu Obeida
dead?’ they asked. ‘No, he is not dead,’ said Omar; ‘but it is as if
he were.’ The Caliph then set out himself on a journey towards Syria,
but was met on the confines at Tebûk by Abu Obeida and other chief men
from the scene of the disaster. [Sidenote: Omar holds a council on the
borders of Syria.]A council was called, and Omar yielded to the wish
of the majority that he should return home again. ‘What,’ cried some
of his courtiers, ‘and flee from the decree of God?’ ‘Yea,’ replied
the Caliph, wiser than they, ‘we flee, but it is from the decree of
God, unto the decree of God.’ He then commanded Abu Obeida to carry the
Arab population in a body from the infected cities into the high lands
of the desert, and himself with his followers wended his way back to

[Sidenote: Arabs of Syria moved to high lands of Haurân.]

Acting on the Caliph’s wish, Abu Obeida lost no time in leading forth
the people to the high lands of the Haurân. He had reached as far
as Jâbia, when just as he put his foot into the camel’s stirrup to
start again upon his onward journey, he too was struck, and together
with his son fell a victim to the pestilence. [Sidenote: Death of
Abu Obeida.]Moâdz, whom he had designated to occupy his place, died
almost immediately after; and it was left for Amru to conduct the
panic-stricken multitude to the hill country, where the pestilence
abated. Not less than five-and-twenty thousand perished in this
visitation. Of a single family which migrated seventy in number from
Medîna, but four were left. Such was the deadly virulence of the plague.

[Sidenote: Omar’s journey to Syria, Autumn, A.H. XVIII. A.D. 639.]

The country was disabled by the scourge, and at one time fears were
entertained of an attack from the Roman armies. It was fortunate for
the Caliphate that no such attempt was made, for the Arabs would have
been ill able just then to resist it. But the terrible extent of the
calamity was manifested in another way. A vast amount of property was
left by the dead, and the gaps at every turn amongst the survivors
caused much embarrassment in the administration and devolution of
the same. The difficulty grew to such dimensions, that with the view
of settling this and other matters Omar resolved on making a royal
progress through his dominions. At first he thought of visiting Irâc,
and passing through Mesopotamia, so to enter Syria from the north;
but he abandoned the larger project, and confining his resolution to
Syria, took the usual route.[362] His way lay through the Christian
settlement of Ayla, at the head of the Gulf of Acaba. The reception
met with here brings out well the simplicity of Omar, and his kindly
feeling toward the Christians. He journeyed on a camel with small pomp
or following; and as he was minded to enter the village unrecognised,
he changed places with his servant. ‘Where is the Ameer?’ cried the
eager crowds as they streamed forth from the village to witness the
Caliph’s advent. ‘He is _before_ you,’ replied Omar, and he drove
his camel on.[363] So they hurried forward, thinking that the great
Caliph was beyond, and left Omar to alight unobserved at the house of
the bishop, with whom he lodged during the heat of the day. His coat,
which had been rent upon the journey, he gave to his host to mend. This
the bishop not only did, but had a garment made for him of material
lighter and more suited to the oppressive travel of the season. Omar,
however, preferred to wear his own.

Proceeding onwards to Jâbia, the Caliph made a circuit from thence
over the whole of Syria. [Sidenote: Muâvia appointed to the chief
command in Syria.]He visited all the Moslem settlements, and gave
instructions for the disposal of the estates of the multitudes
swept away by the plague, himself deciding such claims as were laid
before him. As both Yezîd, the governor of Damascus, and Abu Obeida
had perished in the pestilence, Omar now appointed Muâvia, son of
Abu Sofiân and brother of Yezîd, to the chief command in Syria, and
thus laid the foundation of the Omeyyad dynasty. Muâvia was a man of
unbounded ambition, but wise and able withal; and he turned to good
account his new position. The factious spirit which built itself up
on the divine claim of Aly and Abbâs, the cousin and uncle of the
Prophet, and spurned the Omeyyad blood of Muâvia, was yet in embryo.
Aly, as well as Abbâs, had hitherto remained inactive at Medîna.
The latter, always weak and wavering, was now enfeebled by age; the
former, honoured, indeed, as well for his wit and judgment as for
his relationship to Mahomet, was amongst the trusted counsellors of
the Caliph, but possessed of no special power or influence, nor any
apparent ambition beyond a quiet life of indulgence in the charms of
a harem varied constantly with fresh arrivals. Neither is there any
reason to suppose that at this time the former opposition to Islam of
Abu Sofiân or of Hind, the parents of Muâvia, was remembered against
them. Sins preceding conversion, if followed by a consistent profession
of the Faith, left no stain upon the believer. It was not till the
fires of civil strife burst forth that the ancient misdeeds of the
Omeyyad race and their early enmity to the Prophet were dragged into
light, and political capital made of them. The accession, therefore,
of Muâvia at the present time to the chief command in Syria excited
no jealousy or opposition. It passed, indeed, as a thing of course,
without remark.[364]

[Sidenote: Bilâl performs the office of Muedzzin.]

As Omar prepared to take final leave of Syria, a scene occurred which
stirred to their depths the hearts of all the Moslems present. It was
the voice of Bilâl, the Muedzzin of the Prophet, proclaiming the hour
of prayer. The stentorian call of the now aged African had never been
heard since the death of Mahomet; for he had refused to perform the
duty in the service of any other. He followed the army to Syria, and
there, honoured for his former position, had retired into private life.
The chief men now petitioned Omar that on this last occasion, Bilâl
should be asked once more to perform the office of Muedzzin. The old
man consented, and as the well-known voice arose clear and loud with
the accustomed cry, the people recalled so vividly the Prophet at the
daily prayers to mind, that the whole assembly was melted to tears, and
strong warriors, with Omar at their head, lifted up their voices and
sobbed aloud. Bilâl died two years after, at Damascus.[365]

[Sidenote: Pilgrimage to Mecca, A.H. XVIII. November, A.D. 639.]

Omar returned to Medîna in time to set out on the annual Pilgrimage to
Mecca, at which he presided every year of his Caliphate. But this was
the last journey which he took beyond the limits of Arabia.

                             CHAPTER XXIV.

                          CONQUEST OF EGYPT.

                          A.H. XX. A.D. 641.

[Sidenote: A.H. XIX. A.D. 641.]

The year following the plague and drought was one of comparative
repose. The arms of Islam were now pushing their way steadily into
Persia. But I must reserve the advance in that direction, and first
narrate the conquest of Egypt.

[Sidenote: Amru casts an eye on Egypt.]

The project is due to Amru. After the fall of Cæsarea, he chafed at a
life of inaction in Palestine, which was now completely pacified. All
around he looked for the ground of some new conquest. When the Caliph
last visited Syria, he sought permission to make a descent upon Egypt,
as every way desirable; for, to gain hold of a land that was at once
weak and wealthy, would enfeeble the power of the enemy, and, by an
easy stroke, augment their own. The advice was good; for Egypt, once
the granary of Rome, now fed Constantinople with corn. Alexandria,
though inhabited largely by natives of the country, drew its population
from every quarter. It was the second city in the Byzantine empire,
the seat of commerce, luxury, and letters. Romans and Greeks, Arabs
and Copts, Christians, Jews, and Gentiles mingled here on common
ground. But the life was essentially Byzantine. The vast population was
provided in unexampled profusion and magnificence with theatres, baths,
and places of amusement. A forest of ships, guarded by the ancient
Pharos, ever congregated in its safe and spacious harbour, from whence
communication was maintained with all the seaports of the empire. And
Alexandria was thus a European, rather than an Egyptian, city.[366]

[Sidenote: The land of Egypt disaffected towards Byzantine rule.]

It was far otherwise with the rich valley irrigated by the Nile.
Emerging from the environs of the luxurious city, the traveller dropped
at once from the pinnacle of civilisation to the very depths of
poverty and squalor. Egypt was then, as ever, the servant of nations.
The overflowing produce of its well-watered fields was swept off by
the tax-gatherers to feed the great cities of the empire. And the
people of the soil, ground down by oppression, were always ready to
rise in insurrection. They bore the foreign yoke uneasily. Hatred was
embittered here, as in other lands, by the never-ceasing endeavour of
the Court to convert the inhabitants to orthodoxy, while the Copts
held tenaciously by the Monophysite creed. Thus chronic disaffection
pervaded the land, and the people courted deliverance from Byzantine
rule. There were here, it is true, no Bedouin tribes, or Arabian
sympathies, as in the provinces of Syria. But elements of even greater
weakness had long been undermining the Roman power in Egypt.

[Sidenote: Amru invades Egypt, A.H. XIX., XX. A.D. 640, 641.]

It was in the nineteenth or twentieth year of the Hegira that Amru,
having obtained the hesitating consent of the Caliph, set out from
Palestine for Egypt. His army, though joined on its march by bands of
Bedouins lured by the hope of plunder, did not at the first exceed four
thousand men. Soon after he had left, Omar, concerned at the smallness
of his force, would have recalled him; but finding that he had already
gone too far to be stopped, he sent heavy reinforcements, under Zobeir,
one of the chief Companions, after him. The army of Amru was thus
swelled to an imposing array of from twelve to sixteen thousand men,
some of them warriors of renown.[367]

[Sidenote: And reduces Misr and Upper Egypt.]

Amru entered Egypt by Arîsh, and overcoming the garrison at Faroma,
turned to the left and so passed onward through the desert, reaching
thus the easternmost of the seven estuaries of the Nile. Along this
branch of the river he marched by Bubastis towards Upper Egypt, where
Mucoucus, the Copt, was governor--the same, we are told, who sent Mary
the Egyptian bond-maid as a gift to Mahomet.[368] On the way he routed
several columns sent forth to arrest the inroad; and amongst these a
force commanded by his Syrian antagonist Artabûn, who was slain upon
the field of battle. Marching thus along the vale of the Nile, with
channels fed from the swelling river, verdant fields, and groves of the
fig tree and acacia, Amru, now reinforced by Zobeir, reached at last
the obelisks and ruined temples of Ain Shems, or Heliopolis, near to
the great city of Misr.[369] There the Catholicos or bishop procured
for Mucoucus a truce of four days. At its close, an action took place
in which the Egyptians were driven back into their city and there
besieged. The opposition must at one time have been warm, for the Yemen
troops gave way. Reproached by Amru for their cowardice, one of these
replied, ‘We are but men, not made of iron or stone.’ ‘Be quiet, thou
yelping dog!’ cried Amru. ‘If we are dogs,’ answered the angry Arab,
‘then what art thou but the commander of dogs?’ Amru made no reply, but
called on a column of veterans to step forth; and before their fiery
onset the Egyptians fled. But, however bravely the native army may
have fought at first, there was not much heart in their resistance.
‘What chance,’ said the Copts one to another, ‘have we against men that
have beaten the Chosroes and the Kaiser?’ And, in truth, they deemed
it little loss to be rid of the Byzantine yoke. The siege was of no
long duration. A general assault was made, and Zobeir, with desperate
valour, had already scaled the walls, and the place was at the mercy of
the Arabs, when a deputation from Mucoucus obtained terms from Amru. A
capitation tax was fixed of two dinars on every male adult, with other
impositions similar to those of Syria. Many prisoners had already been
taken; and a fifth part of their number, and of the spoil, was sent to
Medîna. The same conditions were given to the Greek and Nubian settlers
in Upper Egypt. But the Greeks, fallen now to the level of those over
whom they used to domineer, and hated by them, were glad to make their
escape to the sea coast.[370]

[Sidenote: Alexandria, besieged,]

Amru lost no time in marching upon Alexandria, so as to reach it before
the Greek troops, hastily called in from the outlying garrisons,
could rally there for its defence. [Sidenote: capitulates A.H. XX.
A.D. 641.]On the way he put to flight several columns which sought to
hinder his advance; and at last presented himself before the walls
of the great city, which, offering (as it still does) on the land
side a narrow and well-fortified front, was capable of an obstinate
resistance. Towards the sea also it was open to succour at the pleasure
of the Byzantine Court. But during the siege, Heraclius died, and the
opportunity of relief was supinely allowed to slip away.[371] Some of
the protective outworks on the narrow isthmus were taken by storm; and
there appearing no prospect of support from Constantinople, the spirit
of the garrison began to flag. The Greeks took to their ships, and in
great numbers pusillanimously deserted the beleaguered city. At last
Mucoucus, who after his defeat had retired to Alexandria, finding the
place too weak for a prolonged defence, offered to capitulate, on the
same terms as were given to Upper Egypt, and on condition that the
prisoners taken throughout the campaign were set free. The Caliph,
being referred to, readily agreed. ‘Tribute,’ he replied, ‘is better
than booty; for it continueth, whereas spoil soon vanisheth as if it
had not been. Touching the captives, such as are already scattered, are
beyond my power; but those that remain, saving such as were seized on
the field of battle, shall be restored.’ And so the city escaped sack,
and the people became tributary to the conquerors.[372]

[Sidenote: Amru founds _Fostât_, or Cairo.]

Amru, it is said, wished to fix his seat of government at Alexandria,
but Omar would not allow him to remain so far away from his camp, with
so many branches of the Nile between. So he returned to Upper Egypt.
A body of the Arabs crossed the Nile and settled in Ghîzeh, on the
western bank--a movement which Omar permitted only on condition that
a strong fortress was constructed there to prevent the possibility of
their being surprised and cut off.[373] The head-quarters of the army
were pitched near Memphis. Around them grew up a military station,
called from its origin FOSTÂT, or ‘the Encampment.’ It expanded rapidly
into the capital of Egypt, the modern Cairo.[374] And there Amru laid
the foundations of a great Mosque, which still bears his name.

[Sidenote: The soil left in the hands of the cultivators.]

Zobeir urged Amru to enforce the right of conquest, and divide the land
among his followers.[375] But Amru refused; and the Caliph, as might
have been expected, confirmed the judgment. ‘Leave the land of Egypt,’
was his wise reply, ‘in the people’s hands to nurse and fructify.’
As elsewhere, Omar would not allow the Arabs to become proprietors
of a single acre. Even Amru was refused ground whereupon to build a
mansion for himself. He had a dwelling-place, the Caliph reminded him,
at Medîna, and that should suffice. So the land of Egypt, left in
the hands of its ancestral occupants, became a rich granary for the
Hejâz, even as in bygone times it had been the granary of Italy and the
Byzantine empire.

[Sidenote: Amru reopens communication between the Nile and Suez. A.H.
XXI. A.D. 641–2.]

A memorable work, set on foot by Amru after his return from Alexandria
to Fostât, facilitated the transport of corn from Egypt to Arabia.
It was nothing less than the reopening of the communication of old
subsisting between the waters of the Nile in Upper Egypt and those of
the Red Sea at Suez. The channel followed the most eastern branch of
the river as far north as Belbeis, then turned to the right through the
vale of Tumlât, and, striking the Salt Lakes near Timseh, so reached
the Red Sea by what is now the lower portion of the Suez Canal. Long
disused, the bed, where shallow and artificial, had in that sandy
region become choked with silt. The obstructions, however, could not
have been very formidable, for within a year they were cleared away by
the labour of the Egyptians, and navigation thus restored. The Caliph,
going down to Yenbó (the Port of Medîna), there saw with his own eyes
vessels discharge the burdens with which they had been freighted by
Egyptian hands under the shadow of the Pyramids of Ghîzeh. The Canal
remained navigable till the reign of Omar II., that is, for eighty
years, when, choked with sand, it was again abandoned.[376]

[Sidenote: Amru would teach the natives to respect the Arabs.]

Finding that the Egyptians, used to the delicate and luxurious living
of their land, looked down upon the Arabs for their simple and
frugal fare, Amru chose a singular expedient to disabuse them of the
prejudice, and raise his people in their estimation. First he had
a feast prepared of slaughtered camels, after the Bedouin fashion;
and the Egyptians looked on with wonder while the army satisfied
themselves with the rude repast. Next day he commanded a sumptuous
banquet to be set before them, with all the dainties of the Egyptian
table; and here again the warriors fell to with equal zest. On the
third day there was a grand parade of all the troops in battle array,
and the people flocked to see it. Then Amru addressed them, saying:
‘The first day’s entertainment was to let you see the plain and simple
manner of our life at home; the second to show you that we can,
not the less, enjoy the good things of the lands we enter; and yet
retain, as ye see in the spectacle here before you, our martial vigour
notwithstanding.’ Amru gained his end; for the Copts retired saying
one to the other, ‘See ye not that the Arabs have but to raise their
heel upon us, and it is enough!’ Omar was delighted at his lieutenant’s
device, and said of him, ‘Of a truth it is on wisdom and resolve, as
well as on mere force, that the success of warfare doth depend.’

[Sidenote: Fable of a maiden sacrifice and Omar’s rescript.]

A curious tale is told of the rising of the Nile and of Omar’s rescript
in reference to the same. The yearly flood was long delayed; and,
according to wont, the Copts desired to cast into the river a maiden
beautifully attired. When asked what course should be pursued to meet
their wish, the Caliph indited this singular letter, and inclosed it in
a despatch to Amru:--

‘The Commander of the Faithful to the River Nile, greeting. If in times
past thou hast risen of thine own will, then stay thy flood; but if by
the will of Almighty God, then to Him we pray that thy waters may rise
and overspread the land.


‘Cast this letter,’ wrote the Caliph, ‘into the stream, and it
is enough.’ It was done, and the fertilising tide began to rise

[Sidenote: Alexandria retaken, besieged, and finally reoccupied by
Moslems. A.H. XXV. A.D. 646.]

The seaboard of Africa lay open to the naval power of the Byzantine
empire; but for a time, it was little used against the Saracens. Amru,
with the restless spirit of his faith, soon pushed his conquests
westward beyond the limits of Egypt, established himself in Barca,
and reached even to Tripoli.[378] The subject races in these quarters
rendered their tribute in a fixed quota of African slaves, thus early
legalising in that unhappy land the iniquitous traffic which has ever
since prevailed in human flesh and blood. The maritime settlements
and native tribes thus ravaged, received little or no aid from the
Byzantine fleets. But early in the Caliphate of Othmân, a desperate
attempt was made to regain possession of Alexandria. The Moslems,
busy with their conquests elsewhere, had left the city insufficiently
protected. The Greek inhabitants conspired with the Court; and a fleet
of three hundred ships was sent under command of Manuel, who drove
out the garrison and took possession of the city. Amru hastened to
its rescue. A great battle was fought outside the walls: the Greeks
were defeated, and the unhappy town was subjected to the miseries of
a second and a longer siege. It was at last taken by storm and given
up to plunder. To obviate the possibility of another similar mishap,
Amru razed the fortifications, and quartered in the vicinity a strong
garrison, which, every six months, was relieved from Upper Egypt. The
city, though still maintaining its commercial import, fell now from
its high estate. The pomp and circumstance of the Moslem Court were
transferred to Fostât, and Alexandria ceased to be the capital of

                             CHAPTER XXV.

                            TAKEN PRISONER.

                      A.H. XVI.-XX. A.D. 637–641.

[Sidenote: Barrier laid down by Omar towards the East.]

Turning once more to the eastern provinces of the Caliphate, we find
the cautious policy of Omar still tending to restrain the Moslem arms
within the limits of Irâc-Araby; that is, within the country bounded
by the western slopes of the great range which separates Chaldæa from
Persia proper. But they were soon, by the force of events, to burst the

[Sidenote: Situation in Lower Irâc.]

To the north of Medâin, the border land of Moslem territory was
securely defended by Holwân and other strongholds, already mentioned as
planted along the hilly range. In Lower Irâc, Otba, as we have seen,
had, after repeated encounters, established himself at Bussorah, from
whence he held securely the country at the head of the Gulf.[380] But
the Persian satraps, though keeping at a safe distance aloof, were
still in strength at Ahwâz and Râm Hormuz within a hundred miles of him.

[Sidenote: The Governor of Bahrein attacks Persepolis. A.H. XVI. A.D.

Hostilities in this direction were precipitated by a rash and
unsuccessful raid, from the opposite coast, upon Istakhr or
Persepolis.[381] Alâ, Governor of Bahrein, who had distinguished
himself in crushing the rebellion along the southern shore of the
Persian Gulf, looked on with jealous eye at the conquests made in
Irâc by Sád. Tempted by the closeness of the Persian shore, he set on
foot an expedition to cross the narrow sea, and seize the district
which lay opposite. This was done, not only without the permission of
Omar, but against his known unwillingness to trust the treacherous
element.[382] Success might have justified the project; but it fell
out otherwise. The troops embarked with alacrity; and landing (it may
have been) at Bushire, met for a time with no check in their advance
upon Persepolis. [Sidenote: Meets with a check, but is relieved from
Bussorah.]But before long they were drawn into a trap. Advancing
confidently with their whole force in three columns, they had neglected
to secure their base; and the Persians, coming behind, cut them off
altogether from their ships. The Moslems, after a severe engagement, in
which the leaders of two of the columns fell, were unable to disperse
the gathering enemy; and, turning as a last resource towards Bussorah,
found the road in that direction also barred. Messengers were hurried
to Medîna, and Omar, highly incensed with Alâ for his foolhardiness,
despatched an urgent summons to Otba to relieve from Bussorah the
beleaguered army. A force of 12,000 men set out immediately; and
forming, not without difficulty, a junction with Alâ, beat back the
Persians, and then retired on Bussorah. The troops of Otba gained a
great name in this affair, and the special thanks of Omar.

[Sidenote: Campaign in Khuzistan. A.H. XVII. A.D. 638.]

But the retreat, conducted with whatever skill and bravery, put heart
into the hostile border. Hormuzân, a Persian satrap, escaping from the
field of Câdesîya, had retired to his own province of Ahwâz, on the
lower mountain range, at no great distance from Bussorah. He began
now to make raids upon the Moslem outposts, and Otba resolved to
attack him. Reinforcements were obtained from Kûfa, and Otba was also
fortunate enough to gain over a strong Bedouin tribe, which, though
long settled in the plain below Ahwâz, was by blood and sympathy allied
to the Arab garrison of Bussorah. Thus strengthened, he dislodged
the enemy from Ahwâz, and drove him across the Karoon river. A truce
was called; and Ahwâz, having been ceded to the Moslems, was placed
by Otba in the hands of his Bedouin allies.[383] A dispute as to
their boundary, however, shortly after arose between the Bedouins
and Hormuzân; and the latter, dissatisfied with the Moslem decision,
again raised his hostile standard. He was put to flight by Horcûs, a
‘Companion’ of some distinction, who reduced the rebellious province,
and sought permission to follow up his victories by a farther advance.
[Sidenote: A.H. XVIII. A.D. 639.] But Omar, withholding permission,
bade him occupy himself in restoring the irrigation works, and
resuscitating the deserted fields, of Khuzistan. Hormuzân fled to Râm
Hormuz, farther east, and was, for the second time, admitted to an

[Sidenote: Râm Hormuz and Tostar taken. A.H. XIX. A.D. 640.]

Not long after, tidings reached Horcûs, that emissaries from Yezdegird
at Merve were stirring up the people to fresh opposition. The attitude
of Hormuzân became once more doubtful; and the Caliph, suspecting now a
serious combination, assembled a powerful army from Kûfa and Bussora,
and gave the command to Nómân ibn Mocarrin.[384] Hormuzân, with a great
Persian following, was again routed, and, having abandoned Râm Hormuz
to the Arabs, fled to Tostar,[385] fifty miles north of Ahwâz. This
stronghold was obstinately defended by the Persians, who rallied there
in great force, and kept the Moslems for several months at bay. In
the end, but not without considerable loss, the citadel was stormed,
and Hormuzân, with the garrison, subject to the decision of the
Caliph, surrendered at discretion. They were meanwhile put in chains;
and Hormuzân was sent to answer before the Caliph for his repeated
rebellion and breach of faith.’[386]

[Sidenote: Capture of Sûs (Shushan).]

The troops then laid siege to Sûs, the royal Shushan of ancient
memories, and still a formidable city, planted as it was between two
rivers, on a verdant plain with snow-clad mountains in the distance.
The Arabs were here fortunate in drawing over to their side a body of
Persian nobles with an important following; these were at once admitted
to confidence; commands were conferred upon them, and they had the
singular honour of a high place on the Caliph’s civil list. Still it
was not till after a protracted siege and conflict that Sûs was taken.
[Sidenote: The tomb of Daniel.]Omar gave orders for the reverential
maintenance of the tomb of Daniel in this the scene of his memorable
vision ‘by the river of Ulai;’ and here, to the present day, the pious
care of succeeding generations has preserved his shrine on the river
bank through thirteen centuries of incessant change.[387]

[Sidenote: Jundai-Sabûr occupied.]

The important city of Jundai-Sabûr, with the country around the sources
of the Karoon, was also reduced by Nómân. But events were already
transpiring in Khorasan, which at length opened the way to an advance
upon the heart of Persia, and called away that leader to more stirring

[Sidenote: Hormuzân sent a captive to Medîna.]

The narrative of the deputation which, together with the spoil of
Tostar, carried Hormuzân a prisoner to Medîna, will throw light on the
reasons which weighed with the Caliph, and led to the withdrawal of the
embargo upon a forward movement eastward. As they drew nigh to Medîna,
his conductors dressed out their captive in his brocaded vestments,
to show the people there the fashion of a Persian noble. Wearied with
the reception of a deputation from Kûfa (for in this way he transacted
much of the business from the provinces), Omar had fallen asleep, as he
reclined, whip in hand, on his cushioned carpet in the Great Mosque.
When the party entered the precincts of the court, ‘Where is the
Caliph?’ asked the captive prince, looking round, ‘and where the guards
and warders?’ It was, indeed, a marvellous contrast, that between
the sumptuous palaces of the Chosroes, to which he had been used,
and the simple surroundings of the mightier Caliph! Disturbed by the
noise, Omar started up, and, divining who the stranger was, exclaimed,
‘Blessed be the Lord, who hath humbled this man and the like of him!’
He bade them disrobe the prisoner of his rich apparel and clothe him
in coarse raiment. Then, still whip in hand, he upbraided the denuded
captive and (Moghîra interpreting) bade him justify the repeated breach
of his engagements. Hormuzân made as if fain to reply; then gasping,
like one faint from thirst, he begged for a draught of water. ‘Give it
to him,’ said the Caliph, ‘and let him drink in peace.’ ‘Nay,’ said the
captive trembling, ‘I fear to drink, lest some one slay me unawares.’
‘Thy life is safe,’ replied Omar, ‘until thou hast drunk the water
up.’ The words had no sooner passed his lips than Hormuzân poured the
contents of the vessel on the ground. ‘I wanted not the water,’ he
said, ‘but quarter, and now thou hast given it me.’ ‘Liar!’ cried Omar
in anger, ‘thy life is forfeit.’ ‘But not,’ interposed the bystanders,
‘until he drink the water up.’ ‘Strange,’ said Omar, foiled for once,
‘the fellow hath deceived me, and yet I cannot spare the life of one
who hath slain so many noble Moslems by his reiterated treachery.
I swear that thou shalt not gain by thy deceit, unless thou shalt
forthwith embrace Islam.’ Hormuzân, nothing loth, made profession of
the Faith upon the spot; and thenceforth, taking up his residence at
Medîna, received a pension of the highest grade.[388]

[Sidenote: Deputation urge removal of the ban against advance.]

‘What is the cause,’ inquired Omar of the deputation, ‘that these
Persians thus persistently break faith and rebel against us? Maybe, ye
treat them harshly.’ ‘Not so,’ they answered; ‘but thou hast forbidden
us to enlarge our boundary; and the king is in their midst to stir them
up. Two kings can in no wise exist together, until the one of them
expel the other. It is not our harshness, but their king, that hath
incited them to rise up against us after that they had made submission.
And so it will go on until that thou shalt remove the ban and leave us
to go forward, occupy their cities, and expel their king. Not till then
will their vain hopes and machinations cease.’

[Sidenote: Omar begins to see this.]

These views were, moreover, enforced by Hormuzân. And the truth began
now to dawn on Omar that necessity was laid upon him to withdraw the
ban against advance. In self-defence, there was nothing left for him
but to crush the Chosroes and take entire possession of his realm.

                             CHAPTER XXVI.

                          CONQUEST OF PERSIA.

                    A.H. XXI., XXII. A.D. 642, 643.

[Sidenote: Persian campaign forced on Omar.]

It was not long before any doubts that might still have rested in the
mind of Omar were put an end to by the hostile attitude of the Persian
Court; and he was again forced to bid his armies take the field with
the avowed object of dealing a final blow at the empire.

[Sidenote: Yezdegird gathers a great army against the Arabs. A.H. XX.
A.D. 641.]

After Câdesîya and the loss of Medâin, Yezdegird may have buoyed
himself up with the hope that the Arabs, content with the fertile
plains of Mesopotamia and Irâc-Araby, would leave him in undisturbed
possession of the ample provinces of Persia proper beyond the mountain
range. But the capture of the ancient capital of Media, and the
threatening advance of the invaders in the direction of Ispahan and
Persepolis, put an end to any such imagination. Teeming, restless
hordes, still issuing from the Peninsula, began to press upon the
border; and their irruption into the farther plains of Persia became
clearly a mere question of time. The king, therefore, resolved once
more upon a grand effort to stem the tide of invasion. With this view
he ordered the governors of the various provinces to gather their
forces together for a final attack. These, especially in the outlying
regions, appear to have enjoyed an almost independent authority. But
their interests were now knit together by the common danger. From the
shores of the Caspian, therefore, to the Indian Ocean, and from the
Oxus to the Persian Gulf, they rallied around the royal standard, and
in vast number gathered on the plain that lies below the snow-capped
peak of Demavend.

[Sidenote: Omar sends an army under Nómân to oppose them.]

Tidings of the movement soon reached Kûfa, and Sád apprised the Caliph
of the rising storm. Each courier, as he arrived, filled the city with
fresh alarms. A hundred and fifty thousand men had assembled under
Firuzân; now they were encamped at Hamadan, and now marching on Holwân;
they would soon be close to Kûfa, and at their very doors. The crisis,
no doubt, was serious. Any reverse to the Arabs on the mountain border
would loosen their hold upon the plains below; and all the conquests in
Chaldæa, with Medâin, and the settlements even of Kûfa and Bussorah,
might be wrenched from their grasp. As on previous occasions of
imminent danger, Omar at once declared his resolve to march forth in
person. Encamped midway between the two cities of Irâc, his presence
would restore confidence; and while able from thence to direct the
movements in front, his reserve would be a defence to them in the
rear. But the old arguments against leaving Medîna again prevailed,
and Omar was persuaded to remain behind.[389] Nómân was recalled from
the campaign just described for the reduction of Khuzistan, to take
the chief command. Leaving strong garrisons behind, all available
troops were pushed forward in two columns from Bussorah and Kûfa. The
army at Sûs, besides furnishing a contingent for the main advance, was
given the important task of effecting a diversion by an attack upon
Persepolis, and so preventing the native forces in that quarter from
joining the royal standard.

[Sidenote: Battle of Nehâvend. A.H. XXI. A.D. 642.]

Arrived at Holwân, Nómân sent forward spies, who reported that the
enemy in great force was pitched at Nehâvend, on the plain of that name
bounded on the north by the lofty peaks of Elwand; but that the road
thus far was clear.[390] So they marched forward, and were soon on the
famous battle-ground, face to face with the Persians. The Moslems were
30,000 strong--one fifth part of the enemy; weak in numbers, but strong
in faith, and nerved by the presence of many veterans and heroes of
former fields. After two days’ skirmishing, the Persians retired behind
their line of fortification, from whence they were able at pleasure
to issue forth and molest their adversaries. This went on for a time,
till the Moslems, wearied by the delay, resolved on drawing them out.
At Toleiha’s instance they practised a feint for the purpose. They fell
back, and, on the Persians following, they wheeled round and cut them
off from their entrenchments. A fierce engagement followed, and in it
Nómân was slain. But the bravery of the Arabs in the end achieved its
wonted success. Of the enemy 30,000 are said to have been left dead
on the field; the rest fled to an adjoining hill, and there 80,000
more were slain. Of the great army but shreds and scattered fragments
effected their escape. The fate of the Captain-general, Firuzân, became
proverbial. Flying towards Hamadan, he was stopped in a mountain pass
choked by a caravan laden with honey. In seeking to turn the pass, he
lost his way, was overtaken and slain. Hence the saying--‘_Part of
the Lord’s host is the honey-bee._’

[Sidenote: Decisive effect of the victory.]

The importance attached to this battle is signified by the tradition
that a mounted Genius gave immediate notice of the victory and of the
death of Nómân to a traveller in the Hejâz, who at once communicated
it to Omar at Medîna. Hamadan fell into the hands of the victorious
army; and the royal treasure and jewels, deposited for safety in
the great Fire temple, were delivered up. The chiefs and people of
Irâc-Ajem, that is, the western districts of Persia proper, submitted
themselves and became tributary. The booty was immense; and amongst it
two caskets of priceless gems, which Omar placed in the treasury at
Medîna; but next morning, the courier that brought them was recalled,
and Omar told him that he had seen a vision of angels, which warned him
of punishment hereafter if he kept those jewels. ‘Take them hence,’ he
said; ‘sell them, and let the price be divided amongst the army.’ They
fetched 4,000,000 dirhems.

[Sidenote: Capture of Rei. A.H. XXII. A.D. 643.]

Omar was disconsolate at the death of Nómân; and he promoted his
brother Nóeim ibn Mocarrin (one of the three heroes of Dzul Cassa) to
high command. He had now embarked on an enterprise from which there
was no returning. The proud Yezdegird refused to yield, and Omar no
longer scrupled pursuing him to the bitter end. But a long series of
campaigns was yet needful, effectually to reduce the empire. These it
is not the object of this work to trace otherwise than in such brief
and cursory way as shall enable the reader to estimate the expanding
area and growing obligations of the Caliphate. The warlike races of the
southern shores of the Caspian gathered under Isfandiar, brother of
the ill-fated Rustem, for the defence of Rei, one of the royal cities
of Persia. Assuming the offensive, they began to harry the Mussulman
garrisons. Nóeim advanced to meet them; and another great battle
and decisive victory placed the city at his mercy.[391] [Sidenote:
Yezdegird flies to Merve, where Turks espouse his cause.]Isfandiar
retired to Azerbâijân; where, again defeated, he was taken prisoner;
and at last, without much compunction, he threw in his lot, and made
common cause with the invading army. From Rei, Yezdegird fled south to
Ispahan; finding no shelter there, he hurried on to Kermân; then he
retired to Balkh: and at last he took refuge in Merve, whence he sought
the aid of the Khâcân of the Turks, and of the Emperor of China. The
Khâcân espoused his cause; and for several years the contest was waged
with varying success in the vicinity of Merve. But in the end the Turks
retired, and with them Yezdegird, across the Oxus. [Sidenote: Death of
Yezdegird. A.H. XXXI. A.D. 651.] The conflict was subsequently renewed,
and nine or ten years afterwards, in the reign of Othman, Yezdegird,
bereft of his treasures and deserted by his followers, who in vain
besought him to tender his submission, perished miserably in the hut of
a miller, whither he had fled for refuge.

[Sidenote: Reduction of the Persian empire.]

On the fall of Rei, the Arabs lost no time in turning their arms
against all quarters at once of the Persian empire. Six considerable
armies, drawn from Kûfa and Bussorah, and continually replenished from
Arabia and the provinces by soldiers of fortune thirsting for rapine
and renown, invaded as many different regions; and these, as they were
overrun, fell each under the government of the leader who reduced it.
Thus, one after another, Fars, Kermân, Mokrân, Sejestan, Khorasan,
and Azerbâijân, were annexed to the empire of Islam. Some of these,
though subordinate in name, had been virtually independent; and so now,
even after the heart had ceased to beat, they maintained a dangerous
vitality. When tributary and reduced to an outward subjection, the
people would ever and again rise in rebellion; and it was long before
the Arabs could subside into a settled life, or feel secure away from
the protection of garrisoned entrenchments. [Sidenote: Subordinate
position of the conquered races.]But the privileges of Islam on the
mere confession of the Faith were so considerable and enticing, that
the adherents of the Zoroastrian worship were unable to resist the
attraction; by degrees the Persian race came over to the dominant
creed, and in the end opposition ceased. The notices of Zoroastrian
families, and of Fire temples destroyed in after reigns, show indeed
that in many quarters the conversion was slow and partial.[392] But
after the fall of the Court, the death of Yezdegird, and the extinction
of outlying authority, the political and social inducements to join
the faith of the conquerors were, for the most part, irresistible. The
polished Persian formed a new element in Moslem society. But however
noble and refined, he long held a place inferior to, and altogether
distinct from, that maintained by the rude but dominant races of
Arabian blood. Individuals or families belonging to the subject
peoples, on embracing Islam, attached themselves to some Arab chief or
clan, as adherents, or ‘clients’ of the same; and in this dependent
position could claim some of the privileges of the ruling faith. But
neither here nor in other lands did they intermarry with the Arabs on
equal terms; they were looked down upon as of an inferior caste. Thus,
although in theory, on becoming Mussulmans, the conquered nations
thereby entered the equal brotherhood of the Faith, they formed, not
the less, a lower estate. The race and language, ancestral dignity, and
political privileges, of the Arabs continued to be paramount throughout
the empire for many generations.

[Sidenote: Miraculous tale connected with the siege of Darâbgird.]

While passing by thus cursorily the military details of connected
outlying conquest, there is one episode which I may mention, as
containing a curious relation of miraculous interposition, such as we
rarely meet with in the tradition of events subsequent to the Prophet’s
death. The warrior Saria had long besieged with inadequate force the
stronghold Darâbgird in Kermân, when a band of Kurds came suddenly
down to its relief. The small Arab army, taken thus on both sides,
would have been cut to pieces, had not Saria, warned by a cry from
heaven, promptly sought refuge upon a hill at his rear. Omar on that
very day (so the tradition runs), as he conducted the Friday service in
the Great Mosque at Medîna, saw distinctly in a vision the impending
disaster, and trembling for his safety, cried aloud, ‘To the hill,
O Saria! to the hill!’ It was this voice which reached Saria, clear
from the sky, just in time to enable him to make good his retreat to
the hill, from whence, having rallied his troops, he turned again and
discomfited the enemy. Omar, we are told, related the whole affair of
the retreat and subsequent victory, at the moment it occurred; and with
this the courier’s report, received several weeks after, was found
exactly to tally.[393]

                            CHAPTER XXVII.


                    A.H. XVII.-XXIII. A.D. 638–644.

[Sidenote: Quiet in Syria, Arabia, and Egypt.]

While the arms of Islam were thus rapidly reducing province after
province in the East to the sway of Omar from the Caspian to the Indian
Ocean, the wave of conquest was for the time calmed down in Asia Minor.
There had now for some time prevailed a period of comparative quiet.
After the death of Heraclius there was no spirit left in the Byzantine
empire to continue the struggle either by land or by sea. Desultory
attempts were made, indeed, at intervals upon the coast; but they
were followed by no lasting success.[394] Muâvia was busy meanwhile
consolidating the administration of Syria; and, with a sagacious
foresight, strengthening his hold upon the provinces against the
contingencies of the future. Elsewhere peace prevailed. Shorahbîl ruled
over the district of the Jordan. Amru maintained a firm government in
Egypt; and, pushing a chronic warfare against the native tribes and
the Roman settlements on the coast of Africa, gradually extended the
boundaries of Islam towards the West. Arabia, still pouring forth its
unquiet spirits to fight in the wars abroad, was tranquil at home under
its various governors.

[Sidenote: Omar visits Mecca, and founds Grand Square around Kâaba.]

Besides the journeys into Syria already mentioned, Omar only quitted
his residence at Medîna for the purpose of performing the annual
pilgrimage.[395] The governors of the various provinces were wont
to repair to Mecca to discharge at that season the same religious
obligation; and the Caliph used to improve the opportunity for
conferring with them, as they returned by way of Medîna, on such
provincial business as needed his attention. The occasion, in fact,
served the purposes of an annual report delivered orally of local
government. Several years before his death, Omar spent three weeks
within the sacred precincts of Mecca, and enlarged the space around the
Kâaba. The dwellings approaching too closely the Holy House were pulled
down, and the first step taken towards the formation of a grand square
and piazza fitting the place of worship for all nations. Some of the
owners refused to sell their patrimony; but the houses were demolished
nevertheless, and the price in compensation left at their disposal
in the treasury. The boundary pillars of the _Haram_, or Sacred
Territory, were renewed. And convenient halting places were constructed
at the pilgrim stations on the road to Medîna, for the custody of
which, and the care of the adjoining springs of water, the local tribes
were held responsible.

[Sidenote: Volcano near Medîna. A.H. XIX.]

The seventh year of Omar’s Caliphate was distinguished by the bursting
forth of volcanic fires from a hill called Leila in the neighbourhood
of Medîna. The Caliph gave command for a general distribution of alms
amongst the poor. The people joined in the pious work, and the volcano

[Sidenote: Disaster in Red Sea.]

In the same year a naval expedition was sent to Abyssinia, across the
Red Sea, to check attacks upon the Moslems on the coast, or on the
borders of Nubia. [Sidenote: A.H. XIX. A.D. 640.] The vessels were
wrecked, and the expedition suffered great privations. [Sidenote: Omar
dreads the sea.]The disaster led Omar to vow that he would never again
permit his troops to embark on an element fraught with such danger. It
was not till some years after his death that the Mussulmans gathered
courage to brave the risks of naval encounter in the Mediterranean

[Sidenote: Moghîra, Governor of Bussorah, arraigned on charge of
adultery, A.H. XVII. A.D. 638,]

In the governors appointed to control the turbulent cities of Kûfa
and Bussorah, Omar was not altogether fortunate. Otba, Governor of
Bussorah, died shortly after rescuing the unfortunate expedition to
Persepolis.[398] The choice of a successor in Moghîra ibn Shoba, was
ill-advised. Of rude and repulsive aspect, he had committed murder in
his youth at Tâyif, and Islam had not softened his nature or improved
his morals. The heartless insult which he offered to an aged Christian
princess of the house of Hîra, whom he demanded in marriage on the
capture of that city, has been handed down in Arab song. His harem,
stocked with fourscore wives and concubines, failed to satisfy his
vagrant passion. His enemies at Bussorah watched his movements from
an adjoining building; and through a party-window were witness to
an intrigue with a Bedouin lady, who had visited his house. When he
issued forth to lead the public prayer, they shouted him down as an
adulterer; and Omar summoned him to his court to answer the accusation.
[Sidenote: and acquitted.]By any reasonable law of evidence, the
crime had been established beyond a doubt; but, under the strange
ordinance promulgated by Mahomet on the misadventure of his favourite
wife, there was a flaw in the testimony of Ziâd, the fourth witness.
And the Caliph, with an ill-concealed groan at the miscarriage of
justice, ordered the witnesses who had brought the charge to be
scourged according to the law, and the accused released. ‘Strike hard,’
cried the barefaced culprit, addressing the unwilling minister of the
law;--‘strike hard, and comfort my heart thereby!’ ‘Hold thy peace,’
said Omar, ‘it wanted little to convict thee; and then thou shouldest
have been stoned to the death as an adulterer.’ The guilty chief was
silenced, but not abashed. He continued to reside in Medîna, a crafty
courtier at the Caliph’s gate.[399]

[Sidenote: Abu Mûsa, Governor of Bussorah,]

As successor to Moghîra, Omar appointed Abu Mûsa al Ashári, Governor
of Bussorah--a man of a very different stamp. Of small stature, smooth
in face, and little presence, he had yet distinguished himself on the
field of Honein; and had been the envoy of Mahomet to Hadhramaut.[400]
He wanted strength and firmness (as we shall see hereafter) for the
stormy times that were coming; but he was wise and sufficiently able
to hold the restless Bedouins of Bussorah in check. Belonging to
the tribe of Ashár, it was perhaps an advantage, in the jealousies
now growing up, that he was himself outside the clique of Mecca and
Medîna citizens. But he still felt the need of Coreishite influence
to support his government; and as he departed he said to Omar:
[Sidenote: is accused of malversation, but aquitted. A.H.
XXIII. A.D. 643.]‘Thou must strengthen my hands with a company
of the Companions of the Prophet, for verily they are as salt in the
midst of the people;’--so he took in his train nine-and-twenty men of
mark along with him. But even Abu Mûsa was near losing his command.
The story is curious, and illustrates Omar’s style of government.
After a successful campaign against the Kurds in Ispahan, Abu Mûsa,
as was usual, sent a deputation to Medîna to report the victory, and
carry to the Caliph the royal Fifth. Dhabba, a discontented citizen,
desired to be of the number, but was not allowed. He forthwith set out
alone to Medîna, and there laid certain charges against Abu Mûsa, who
was summoned by Omar to clear himself. After some days of confinement
to his quarters, he was brought before the Caliph, face to face with
his accuser. The first charge was that a band of youths, from amongst
the captives taken in the recent expedition, had been used by him as
personal attendants. ‘True,’ said Abu Mûsa; ‘these sons of Persian
chieftains did me good service as guides; therefore I paid their
ransom as prize of the column, and now, being free, they serve me.’
‘He speaketh the truth,’ answered Dhabba, ‘but what I said was also
true.’ The second accusation was that he held two landed properties.
‘I do,’ explained Abu Mûsa; ‘the one is for the subsistence of my
family, the other for the sustenance of the people.’ Dhabba answered
as before. The third was that the governor had in his household a girl
who fared too sumptuously. Abu Mûsa was silent. Again, he was charged
with making over the seals of office to Ziâd; which was admitted by Abu
Mûsa, ‘because he found the youth to be wise and fit for office.’ The
last charge was that he had given the largess of a thousand dirhems
to a poet; and this Abu Mûsa admitted having done, with the view to
preserve his authority from being weakened by scurrilous attacks. The
Caliph received the explanation, and permitted Abu Mûsa to resume his
government, but desired him to send Ziâd and the girl to Medîna. He was
so pleased with the knowledge and readiness of Ziâd, who was already
foreshadowing the greatness of his administrative talent, that he sent
him back with the full approval of his employment in the affairs of
the province; but the girl was detained in confinement at Medîna. With
Dhabba the Caliph was very angry. Out of malice he had sought to ruin
Abu Mûsa by one-sided allegations. ‘Truth perverted is no better,’ Omar
said, ‘than is a lie; and a lie leadeth to hell fire.’[401]

[Sidenote: Sád deposed at Kûfa. A.H. XXI. A.D. 642.]

Kûfa remained for several years under the rule of Sád, its founder,
the conqueror of Chaldæa and Medâin. At length, in the ninth year of
Omar’s Caliphate, a faction sprang up against him. The Bedouin jealousy
of the Coreish had already begun to work; and Sád was accused of
unfairness in distributing the booty. There was also imputed to him
the lack of martial spirit and backwardness to show himself in the
field, a revival of the old charge made slanderously against him at
Câdesîya.[402] He was summoned, with his accusers, to Medîna; but the
main offence of which he was found guilty was one of little concern
to them. Sád in his public ministrations had cut short the customary
prayers; and Omar, deeming the offence unpardonable, deposed him.

[Sidenote: Changes in the government of Kûfa.]

To fill a vacancy requiring, beyond all others in the empire, skill,
experience, and power, Omar unwisely appointed Ammâr, who, having been,
as a persecuted slave at Mecca, one of Mahomet’s earliest converts,
possessed a merit second to none in the Faith, but was a man of no
ability, and, moreover, advanced in years.[403] The citizens of Kûfa
were not long in finding out his incapacity; and, at their desire,
Omar transferred Abu Mûsa from Bussorah to rule over them. But it was
no easy work to curb the factious populace. They took offence at his
slave for buying fodder as it crossed the bridge; and for so slight
a cause the Caliph, after he had been governor for a year, sent him
back again to Bussorah. Another nomination had already been determined
on, when the artful Moghîra, finding Omar alone in the Great Mosque,
wormed the secret out of him; and dwelling on the grave burden of a
hundred thousand turbulent citizens, suggested that the new candidate
was not fit to bear it. ‘But,’ said Omar, ‘the men of Kûfa have pressed
me to send them neither a headstrong tyrant, nor a weak and impotent
believer.’ ‘As for a weak believer,’ answered Moghîra, ‘his faith is
for himself, his weakness falleth on thee; as for a strong tyrant, his
tyranny injureth himself alone, and his strength is all for thee.’ Omar
was caught in the snare, and, the scandals of Bussorah notwithstanding,
was weak enough to confer on Moghîra the government of Kûfa. With all
his defects, Moghîra was, without doubt, the strong man needed for
that stiff-necked city; and he held his position there during the two
remaining years of Omar’s reign.[404]

[Sidenote: Evil arising from change of governors.]

The vacillation of Omar, and his readiness, at the complaint of the
citizens of Kûfa, once and again to shift their ruler, led that
turbulent populace to know their power, and gave head to the factious
temper already disquieting the city. It was a weak though kindly spirit
which led the Caliph to nominate Ammâr to a post for which he had no
aptitude whatever. Upon his recall, Omar asked whether his removal had
caused him pain. ‘It did not much rejoice me,’ replied Ammâr, ‘when
thou gavest me the command; but I confess that I was troubled when
thou didst depose me.’ To which Omar responded amiably: ‘I knew when I
appointed thee that thou wast not a man fitted to govern; but verily I
was minded (and here he quoted from the Corân) _to be gracious unto
the weak and humble ones in the land; and to make them patterns of
religion, and heirs of the good things in this present life_.’[405]
At the same time, he appointed another early convert of singular
religious merit, Abdallah ibn Masûd, who had also been a slave at
Mecca, to a post at Kûfa, for which, however, he was better fitted--the
chancellorship of the treasury. He had been the body-servant of the
Prophet, who was used to call him ‘light in the body, but weighty in
the Faith.’ He was learned in the Corân, and had a ‘reading’ of his
own, to which, as the best text, he held persistently against all

[Sidenote: Additional endowment to Bussorah.]

There was still a considerable jealousy between Bussorah and its more
richly endowed sister city. The armies of both had contributed towards
the conquest of Khuzistan, and had shared accordingly. But Bussorah,
with its teeming thousands, was comparatively poor; and Omar, to
equalise the benefits of all who had served in the earlier campaigns,
assigned to them increased allowances, to be met from the surplus
revenues of the Sawâd administered by Kûfa.[407]

[Sidenote: Officers of State: judicial, military, fiscal, and

In the more important governments, the judicial office was discharged
by a functionary who held his commission immediately from the
Caliph.[408] The control of all departments remained with the governor,
who, in virtue of his supreme office, led the daily prayers in public;
and, especially on the Fridays, gave an address, or sermon, which had
often an important political bearing. Military and fiscal functions,
which vested at the first, like all other powers, in the governor’s
hands, came eventually to be discharged by officers specially appointed
to the duty. Ministers of religion were also commissioned by the State.
From the extraordinary rapidity with which cities and provinces were
converted, risk of error rose, in respect both of creed and ritual, to
the vast multitudes of ‘new believers.’ To obviate this danger, Omar
appointed teachers in every country, whose business it was to instruct
the people--men and women separately--in the Corân and the requirements
of the Faith. Early in his reign, he imposed it also, as an obligation
to be enforced by the magistrate, that all, both great and small,
should attend the public services, especially on every Friday; and
that in the month of Ramadhan, the whole body of the Moslems should be
constant in the assembling of themselves together in their Mosques.

[Sidenote: Omar establishes era of Hegira. A.H. XVII.]

To Omar is popularly ascribed, not only the establishment of the
Dewân, and offices of systematic account, but also the regulation of
the Arabian year. He introduced for this purpose the Mahometan Era,
commencing with the new moon of the first month (Moharram) in the year
of the Prophet’s flight from Mecca. Hence the Mahometan year was named
the _Hegira_, or ‘Era of the Flight.’[409]

[Sidenote: Deterioration of social and domestic life.]

Of the state of Mahometan society at this period we have not the
materials for judging closely. Constant employment in the field, no
doubt, tended to arrest the action of the depraving influences which,
in times of ease and luxury, began to relax the sanctions and taint
the purity of Bedouin life. But there is ample indication that the
relations between the sexes were already rapidly deteriorating. The
baneful influence of polygamy, especially now that it was intensified
by the husband’s power of arbitrary divorce and the unlimited licence
of servile concubinage, was quickened by the vast multitudes of
slave-girls taken by the army, and distributed or sold, both among the
soldiers and the community at large. The wife of noble blood held,
under the old chivalrous code of the Arabs, a position of honour and
supremacy in the household, from which she could be ousted by no
base-born rival, however fair or fruitful. She was now to be, in the
estimation of her husband, but one amongst many, to whose level she
was gradually being lowered. If his slave-girls bore him children,
they became at once, as _Omm Walad_, free;[410] and in point of
legitimacy and inheritance the offspring was equal to the children of
the free and noble wife. Beauty and blandishment began to outshine
birth and breeding, and the favourite of the hour too often displaced
her noble mistress.

[Sidenote: Story of the Princess Leila.]

With the coarse sensualist, revelling like Moghîra in a harem well
stocked with Greek and Persian captives, this might have been expected.
But it was not the less the case in many a household of greater
refinement and repute. Some lady, ravished, it may have been, from
a noble home, and endowed with the charms and graces of a courtly
life, would captivate her master, and for the moment rule supreme.
The story of the Princess Leila will afford a sample. This beautiful
daughter of Judi, the Ghassanide chief slain at Dûma, was bought by
the victorious Khâlid from the common prize. The fame of her charms
had already reached Medîna, and kindled a romantic flame in the breast
of Abd al Rahmân, son of Abu Bekr. He was wild in his passion for her,
and sang his grief in verses still preserved.[411] At last he became
her happy master, and she was despatched from the camp to his home. At
once he freed her, and took her to wife. His love for this lady was
so great that, forsaking all other, he kept him only to her--so long
as her beauty lasted. She was the queen of his household. But after
a time she fell sick and began to waste away. The beauty went, and
with it her master’s love; and so her turn, too, came to be forsaken.
Then his comrades said to him: ‘Why thus keep her on, neglected and
forsaken here? Suffer her to go back to her people and her home.’ So
he suffered her. Leila’s fate was happy compared with that of others.
Tired of his toy, the owner would sell her to become, if still young
and beautiful, the plaything of another; or if, like Leila, disease or
years had fretted her beauty, to eke out the weary, wistless, hopeless
lot of a household slave.

[Sidenote: The use of wine.]

Relaxation of manners is significantly marked by the frequent notice
of punishment for drunkenness. There are not wanting instances of even
governors deposed for the offence. Omar was rigorous in imposing the
legal penalty. He did not shrink from commanding that stripes should
be inflicted, even upon his own son and his boon companions, for the
use of wine. At Damascus, the scandal grew to such a height that Abu
Obeida had to summon a band of the citizens, with the heroes Dhirâr and
Abu Jandal at their head, for the offence. Hesitating in such a case to
enforce the law, he acquainted Omar with the circumstances, and begged
that the offenders, being penitent, might be forgiven. An angry answer
came: ‘Gather an assembly,’ he wrote in the stern language of his early
days;--‘gather an assembly, and bring them forth. Then ask, ‘_Is
wine lawful, or is it forbidden?_ If they say _forbidden_,
lay eighty stripes upon each one of them; if they say _lawful_,
then behead them every one.’ They confessed that it was forbidden, and
submitted themselves to the ignominious punishment.[412]

[Sidenote: Influence of female slavery in the family.]

The weakness for wine may have been a relic of ‘the days of Ignorance,’
when the poet sang ‘Bury me under the roots of the juicy vine.’ But
there were influences altogether new at work in the vast accession to
the households of believers everywhere of captive women from other
lands. Greek, Persian, and Egyptian maidens abounded in every harem.
The Jews and Christians amongst them might retain their ancestral
faith, whether in freedom or bondage, whether as concubines or married
to their masters; and with their ancestral faith retain much also of
the habits of their fatherland; and the same may be said of the heathen
bondmaids from Africa and the Parsee slave-girls from Persia, even if
outwardly converted to the Moslem faith. The countless progeny of such
alliances, though ostensibly bred in the creed and practice of Islam,
must have inherited much of the nationality of the mothers by whom
they were nursed and brought up. The crowded harem, with its Divine
sanction of servile concubinage, was also an evil school for the rising
generation. Wealth, luxury, and idleness were under such circumstances
provocative of a licence and indulgence which too often degenerated
into debauchery.

[Sidenote: Intemperance, dissipation, and depravity.]

For, apart from the field of war and the strife of faction, Moslem life
was idle and inactive. There was nothing to relieve its sanctimonious
voluptuousness. The hours not spent in the harem were divided between
listless conversation in the city knots and clubs, and formal prayers
in the Mosque five times a day. Ladies no longer appeared in public
excepting as they flitted along shrouded beneath ‘the veil.’ The light
and grace, the charm and delicacy, which their presence imparted to
Arab society before Islam, was gone. The soft warm colouring of nature,
so beautifully portrayed in ancient Arabian song, was chilled and
overcast. Games of chance, and such like amusements, common to mankind,
were forbidden by law as stigmatised in the Corân; even speculation was
checked by the ban put upon interest for money lent. And so, Mussulman
life, cut off, beyond the threshold of the harem, from the ameliorating
influences of the gentler sex, began to assume that dreary, morose,
and cheerless aspect which it has ever since retained.[413] But nature
is not thus to be pent up and trifled with; the rebound must come;
and with the rebound, humanity, in casting off its shackles, burst
likewise through the barriers of the Faith. The gay youth of Islam,
cloyed with the dull delights of the sequestered harem, were tempted
when they went abroad to evade the restrictions of their creed, and to
seek in the cup, in music, games, and dissipation the excitement which
the young and the light-hearted will demand. In the greater cities,
intemperance and libertinism were rife. The canker spread, oftentimes
the worse because concealed. The more serious classes of believers were
scandalised not only by amusements, luxuries, and voluptuous living,
held to be inconsistent with their creed, but with immoralities of a
kind which may not even be named. The development of this evil came
later on, but the tares were already being sown even under the strict
and puritanical Caliphate of Omar.[414]

[Sidenote: Simplicity of Omar’s domestic life.]

Such excesses were, however, for the present confined to foreign parts.
At home, the first Caliphs, fortified by the hallowed associations of
Medîna, and at a distance from the scenes of luxury and temptation,
preserved the severe simplicity of ancient Arab life. This, it is true,
was not inconsistent (as we see even in the case of Mahomet) with the
uncontrolled indulgences of the harem. But as concerns the Caliphs
themselves, Abu Bekr, Omar, and Othmân, their lives in this respect
were, considering the licence of Islam, temperate and modest. Omar, we
are told, had no passion for the sex. Before the Hegira, he contracted
marriage with four wives, but two of these, preferring to remain at
Mecca, were thus separated from him. At Medîna, he married five more,
one of whom he divorced.[415] His last marriage was in the eighth year
of his Caliphate, when over fifty, perhaps nearer sixty, years of age.
Three years before, he had married a granddaughter of the Prophet,
under circumstances which cast a curious light on his domestic ways.
He conceived a liking for Omm Kolthûm, the young unmarried sister of
Ayesha, through whom a betrothal was arranged. But Ayesha found that
the light-hearted damsel had no desire to wed the aged Caliph. In this
dilemma she had recourse to Amru, who undertook the task of breaking
off the match. He broached the subject to Omar, who at first imagined
that Amru wished the maiden for himself. ‘Nay,’ said Amru, ‘that I do
not; but she hath been bred indulgently in the family of her father Abu
Bekr, and I fear that she may ill brook thine austere manners, and the
gravity of thy household.’ ‘But,’ replied Omar, ‘I have already engaged
to marry her; and how can I break it off?’ ‘Leave that to me,’ said
Amru; ‘thou hast indeed a duty to provide for Abu Bekr’s family, but
the heart of this maiden is not with thee. Let her alone, and I will
show thee a better than she, another Omm Kolthûm, even the daughter of
Aly and Fâtima, the granddaughter of the Prophet.’ So Omar married this
other maiden, and she bore him a son and daughter; but there was no
eventual issue in this line.[416]

[Sidenote: Death of persons of distinction.]

Many of those whose names we have been familiar with in the life of
Mahomet were now dropping off the scene. Fâtima, the daughter, and
Safia, the aunt, of Mahomet, Zeinab his wife, and Mary his Coptic
bond-maid, Yezid the son of Abu Sofiân, Abu Obeida, Khâlid, and Bilâl,
and many others who bore a conspicuous part in the great _rôle_
of the Prophet’s life, had all passed away, and a new race was
springing up in their place.

[Sidenote: Abu Sofiân, and Hind, his wife.]

Abu Sofiân himself survived till A.H. 32, and died aged eighty-eight
years. One of his eyes he lost at the siege of Tâyif, and the other at
the battle of the Yermûk, so that he had long been blind. He divorced
Hind, the mother of Muâvia--she who ‘chewed the liver’ of Hamza at the
battle of Ohod. As for her, we are told that, having received a loan
from Omar, she supported herself by merchandise. What was the reason of
the divorce does not appear.[417]

                            CHAPTER XXVIII.

                            DEATH OF OMAR.

                         A.H. XXIII. A.D. 644.

[Sidenote: Omar performs pilgrimage; end of A.H. XXIII. October, A.D.

It was now the eleventh year of Omar’s Caliphate, and though fifty-five
years of age (according to others over sixty) he was full of vigour
and vigilant in the discharge of the vast responsibilities that
devolved upon him.[418] In the last month of the twenty-third year of
the Hegira, he journeyed, as was his wont, to Mecca; and taking on
this occasion the Widows of Mahomet in his suite, performed with them
the rites of the annual Pilgrimage. He had returned but a few days to
Medîna, when his reign came to a tragical and untimely end.

[Sidenote: Abu Lulû, a Persian slave, promises to make a windmill.]

A Persian slave, Feroze, called more familiarly Abu Lulû, had been
brought by Moghîra from Irâc. Carried off a prisoner in his youth by
the Romans, he had early embraced Christianity; and now, captured from
them by the Moslems, his fate was to endure a second captivity as
Moghîra’s slave. When the crowd of prisoners was marched into Medîna
from the battle of Nehâvend (which is said to have been his birthplace)
he gave vent to his grief; the sight opened springs of tenderness long
pent up, and stroking the heads of the little ones, he exclaimed:
‘_Verily, Omar hath consumed my bowels!_’ He practised the
trade of a carpenter; and Moghîra, as his owner, shared the profit.
Meeting Omar in the market-place,[419] he cried out, ‘Commander of the
Faithful! right me of my wrong, for verily Moghîra hath assessed me
heavily.’ ‘At how much?’ asked the Caliph. ‘At two dirhems a day.’ ‘And
what is thy trade?’ ‘A carpenter, designer, and worker in iron.’ ‘It is
not much,’ replied Omar, ‘for a clever artificer like thee. I am told
that thou couldst make for me a mill driven by the wind.’ ‘It is true.’
‘Come then,’ continued the Caliph, ‘and make me such a mill that shall
be driven by the wind.’ ‘If spared,’ said the captive in a surly voice,
‘I will make a mill for thee, the fame whereof shall reach from the
East even to the far West;’ and he went on his way. Omar remarked, as
he passed on, the sullen demeanour of Abu Lulû:--‘That slave,’ he said,
‘spoke threateningly to me just now.’[420]

[Sidenote: Omar mortally wounded by Abu Lulû.]

Next morning, when the people assembled in the Great Mosque for the
early matin prayer, Abu Lulû mingled with the front rank of the
worshippers. Omar entered, and, as was customary with the Imâm who led
the prayers, took his stand in advance of the congregation, having
his back towards them. He had no sooner called out the first words,
_Allah Akbar_, than Abu Lulû rushed upon him, and with a sharp
blade inflicted six wounds in different parts of his body. Then he ran
wildly about, killing some and wounding others, and at last stabbed
himself to death. Omar, who had fallen to the ground, was borne into
his house, which adjoined the Mosque, sufficiently composed to desire
that Abd al Rahmân should proceed with the service. When it was ended,
Omar summoned him to his bedside, and signified his intention of
nominating him to the Caliphate. ‘Is this obligatory upon me?’ inquired
Abd al Rahmân. ‘Nay, by the Lord!’ said Omar, ‘thou art free.’ ‘That
being so,’ he replied, ‘I never will accept the burden.’[421] ‘Then
stanch my wound,’ said the dying Caliph (for life was ebbing fast
through a great gash below the navel), ‘and stay me while I commit my
trust unto a company of men that were faithful unto their Prophet, and
with whom their Prophet was well pleased.’ [Sidenote: Omar appoints
Electors to choose successor.]So he named together with Abd al Rahmân,
other four, namely Aly, Othmân, Zobeir, and Sád, as the chiefest
among the Companions of Mahomet, to be the electors of his successor,
and called them to his bedside. When they appeared, he proceeded
thus:--‘Wait for your brother Talha (who was absent for the moment from
Medîna) three days; if he arrive, take him for the sixth; if not, ye
are to decide the matter between you.’ Then, addressing each in turn,
he warned them of the grave responsibility attaching to their office
as Electors, and the danger to the elected one of favouring unduly his
own clan and family. ‘O Aly, if the choice fall upon thee, see that
thou exalt not the Beni Hâshim above their fellows. And thou, Othmân,
if thou art elected, or Sád, beware that thou set not thy kinsmen
over the necks of men. Arise, go forth, deliberate and then decide.
Meanwhile Soheib shall lead the public prayers.’[422] When they had
departed, he called Abu Talha, a warrior of note, to him:[423] ‘Go,
stand,’ he said, ‘before their door, and suffer no man to enter in unto
them.’ After a while he proceeded solemnly, addressing those around
him:--‘To him who shall succeed, give it as my dying bequest that he
be kind to the Men of this city, which gave a home to us and to the
Faith; that he make much of their virtues, and pass lightly by their
faults. And bid him treat well the Arab tribes, for verily they are the
backbone of Islam; the tithe that he taketh from them, let him give
it back unto the same for the nourishment of their poor. And the Jews
and Christians, let him faithfully fulfil the covenant of the Prophet
with them.[424] O Lord, I have finished my course. And now to him that
cometh after me I leave the kingdom and the Caliphate firmly stablished
and at peace.’ Then he lay down quietly and rested for a time.

[Sidenote: Omar desires to be interred beside the Prophet.]

After a while he bade his son go forth, and see who it was that had
wounded him. Being told that it was Abu Lulû, he exclaimed:--‘Praise
be to the Lord that it was not one who had ever bowed down before
Him, even once, in prayer! Now, Abdallah, my son, go in unto Ayesha,
and ask her leave that I be buried in her chamber by the side of the
Prophet, and by the side of Abu Bekr. If she refuse, then bury me by
the other Moslems, in the graveyard of Backî.[425] And list thee,
Abdallah, if they disagree’ (for he too was to have a voice in the
election) ‘then be thou with the majority; or, if the votes be equal,
then choose thou that side on which is Abd al Rahmân. Now let the
people come in.’ Crowds had assembled at the door; and, permission
having been given, they approached to make obeisance. As they passed in
and out, Omar asked whether any leading man had joined in conspiring
against him. ‘The Lord forbid!’ was the loud response of all, in
horror at the very word. For this burying-ground, see _Life of
Mahomet_, p. 208.]

[Sidenote: Omar’s death.]

Among the rest, Aly came forward to inquire; and as he sat by the
bedside, the son of Abbâs came up. Omar, who dreaded the factious
spirit of the latter, said: ‘O Ibn Abbâs, art thou with me in this
matter?’ He signified assent, whereupon Omar added earnestly: ‘See
that thou deceive me not, thou and thy fellows.[426] Now, Abdallah,
my son, raise up my head from the pillow, and then lay it gently on
the ground:[427] peradventure the Lord may in mercy take me thus, this
night, for I fear the horrors of the rising sun.’ A physician gave
him to drink of date-water; but it oozed through the wound unchanged;
and so also with a draught of milk. Which when the physician saw, he
said: ‘I perceive that the wound is mortal: make now thy testament, O
Commander of the Faithful.’ ‘That,’ said Omar, ‘have I done already.’
As he lay, his head resting on the bosom of his son, he recited this

    It had gone hard with my soul, if I had not been a Moslem;
    But verily all the appointed prayers have I observed, and fasted.

[Sidenote: Nov. 3, A.D. 644.]

And so, in a low voice, he kept repeating the name of the Lord, and the
short Moslem creed, until his spirit passed away. It was the 26th of
Dzul Hijj, the 23rd year of the Hegira. He had reigned for the space of
ten years and a half.[428]

[Sidenote: Achievements of his Calphate.]

So died Omar, next to the Prophet the greatest in the of Islam; for
it was all within these ten years that, by his wisdom, patience, and
vigour, the dominion was achieved over Syria, Egypt, and Persia, which
Islam has ever since maintained. Abu Bekr beat down the apostate
tribes; but at his death the armies of Islam had but just crossed
the Syrian frontier. Omar began his reign the master only of Arabia.
He died the Caliph of an empire embracing Persia, Egypt, and some of
the fairest provinces of the Byzantine throne. Yet throughout this
marvellous fortune he never lost the equipoise of a wise and sober
judgment, nor exalted himself above the frugal and familiar style of
the Arab Chief. ‘Where is the Caliph?’ would the visitor from distant
provinces inquire, as he looked around the court of the Great Mosque;
and all the while the monarch sat in homely guise before him.

[Sidenote: Character of Omar.]

The features of Omar’s life it requires but few lines to sketch.
Simplicity and duty were his guiding principles. Impartiality and
devotion characterised the discharge of his great office; and the
responsibility so weighed upon him that at times he would exclaim, ‘O
that my mother had not borne me; would that I had been this stalk of
grass instead!’ Of a fiery and impatient temper, he was noted in his
youth, and even during the later days of the Prophet’s life, as the
stern advocate of vengeance. Ever ready to unsheathe the sword, it was
he who, after the battle of Bedr, advised that the prisoners should all
be put to death. But age, as well as weight of office, had mellowed
the asperity of his nature.[429] His sense of justice was strong. And
excepting the treatment of Khâlid, whom he pursued with an ungenerous
resentment, no act of tyranny or injustice is recorded against him; and
even in this matter his enmity took its rise in Khâlid’s unscrupulous
treatment of a fallen foe. The choice of his captains and governors
was free from favouritism; and (the appointment of Moghîra and Ammâr
excepted) singularly fortunate. The different tribes and bodies in
the empire, representing interests the most diverse, reposed in his
integrity the utmost confidence, and his strong arm maintained the
discipline of law and empire. A certain weakness is discernible in
his change of governors at the factious seats of Bussorah and Kûfa.
But even so, the conflicting claims of Bedouin and Coreish were kept
by him in check, and never dared to disturb Islam till he had passed
away. The more distinguished of the Companions he kept around him at
Medîna, partly, no doubt, to strengthen his counsels, and partly (as he
would say) from unwillingness to lower their dignity by placing them in
an office subordinate to himself.[430] Whip in hand, he perambulated
the streets and markets of Medîna, ready to punish the offenders on
the spot; and it became a proverb,--‘Omar’s whip is more terrible
than another’s sword.’ But with all this he was tender-hearted, and
numberless acts of kindness are recorded, such as relieving the wants
of the widow and the fatherless.[431]

[Sidenote: The first called Commander of the Faithful.]

Omar was the first who assumed the title Ameer al Momenîn, or
‘Commander of the Faithful.’ _Caliph_ (Successor) _of the
Prophet of the Lord_, was, he said, ‘too long and cumbersome a name,
while the other was easier and more fit for common use.’

[Sidenote: Burial of Omar.]

According to his desire, Omar was buried side by side with the Prophet
and Abu Bekr, in the chamber of Ayesha. Soheib, as presiding over the
public prayers, performed the funeral service, and the five Electors,
with Abdallah, the Caliph’s son, lowered the body into its last

[Sidenote: Faction and schism in prospect.]

The Moslem annalist may well sigh as he bids farewell to the strong and
single-minded Caliph; and enters on the troubled sea of self-seeking
faction, strife, and schism, which opens with the Caliphate of his

                             CHAPTER XXIX.

                          ELECTION OF OTHMAN.

                          NOVEMBER, A.D. 644.

[Sidenote: The Electors.]

What arrangement Omar might have made for a successor, had his end come
less suddenly upon him, it is perhaps unnecessary to inquire. But some
more definite choice he would, in all probability, have signified.
We know that the perils of disunion hung heavily on his mind. The
unbridled arrogance of the numerous powerful tribes settled in Kûfa and
Bussorah, flushed with the glory and the spoils of war, was already
felt a danger; while family rivalries amongst the Coreish themselves
were beginning to weaken their hold over the people which had hitherto
been absolute. So much is plain, that (Abd al Rahmân perhaps excepted)
Omar saw none amongst them endowed with sufficient power and influence,
after his death, to hold the reins of government. There was none, at
least, so prominent as to take the acknowledged lead. Again, the mode
of nomination or election proper to Islam, was as yet all uncertain.
Abu Bekr had on his death-bed named Omar his successor; but the higher
precedent of Mahomet, who appointed no one to take his place, but
simply named Abu Bekr, when he fell sick, to lead the prayers, was
doubtful. Had Abu Obeida been yet alive, Omar declared that he would
have chosen him; and the succession now offered to Abd al Rahmân was
(as we have seen) declined. Weak and faint from the assassin’s dagger,
the emergency came upon the dying Caliph altogether unprepared to meet
it. So, relieving himself of the responsibility, he fell upon the
expedient of nominating the six chiefest Companions, on one or other
of whom he knew that the choice must needs fall, to be the Electors of
a successor from amongst themselves. These were Abd al Rahmân, Othmân,
Aly, Sád, Zobeir, and Talha. A seventh was added in the person of his
son Abdallah, who, himself excluded from election,[432] was (in case
the conclave were divided) to have the casting vote; and this his
father desired him to give on whichever side Abd al Rahmân might be.
Talha was absent, and did not return until the election had been made.

[Sidenote: Character of the Electors.]

Omar hoped, no doubt, that the Successor thus chosen would be strong in
the support of his Electors. But he had not calculated on the frailty
of human nature; and selfish ends proved more powerful than loyalty to
Islam. Abd al Rahmân was the only real patriot amongst them. Talha,
Zobeir, and Sád, not yet beyond the age of fifty, had none of them
any special reason to aspire to the Caliphate. They were all warriors
of renown. Zobeir was closely related to the Prophet. Sád was the
nephew of Mahomet’s mother; but his recall from Kûfa (although Omar
had declared it to involve no discredit) could not but in some measure
tarnish the fame of the conqueror of Medâin. Aly, a few years younger,
had by far the strongest claims of kinship (whatever these might be);
for he was at once the son of Mahomet’s uncle, the widowed husband
of Fâtima, and the father of the Prophet’s only surviving grandsons.
He had hitherto, from his inactive temperament, remained passive at
the Caliph’s court; but, possessed of a quick and high intelligence,
he had ever held a distinguished place in the counsels of Omar. The
time was now come, when, in the absence of any leading competitor, his
claims could no longer fail to be recognised by those around him; or,
without want of spirit, to be asserted by himself. Othmân was the only
real rival. His years carried weight, for he was now close on seventy.
Handsome and attractive in person and carriage, he gained the hand of
Rockeya, the Prophet’s daughter. She died while the battle of Bedr was
being fought. Shortly after, he married her sister Omm Kolthûm; and
when she, too, died, Mahomet used to say he loved Othmân so dearly
that, if another daughter had remained, he would have given her also
to him. But with all this, his character had vital defects. Of a close
and selfish disposition, his will was soft and yielding. And of all the
competitors, Othmân probably had the least capacity for dominating the
unruly elements of the Moslem empire.

[Sidenote: Electors’ conclave. Three days’ fruitless discussion.]

The Electors, when appointed by Omar, retired at once to an adjoining
chamber, and forthwith fell into such loud and hot discussion, that
Abdallah exclaimed, ‘Good heavens! all this tumult, and my father
still alive!’ Omar, overhearing it, desired that they should wait
till his decease, and then again assemble. So after his death and
burial, Micdâd, a veteran citizen appointed by the deceased Caliph to
the duty, gathered the Electors in the treasury chamber attached to
Ayesha’s house, Abu Talha keeping watch at the door with a guard of
fifty men.[433] Omar’s order was that the choice should not be delayed
beyond the third day, so that his successor might be declared by the
fourth at latest; and he signified the urgency of the business in the
empire’s interest, by saying that if the minority then resisted, they
should be beheaded on the spot. When the Electors came together, each
pressed hotly the claim of his own party, and two days were wasted in
unprofitable wrangling. Abd al Rahmân spent his nights in visiting the
leading citizens, and the governors and chief men from the provinces
(who, having come for the yearly pilgrimage, had not yet departed to
their several posts) and in sounding their views. On the third day, Abu
Talha warned the Electors that he would allow no further delay, and
that the decision must be come to by the following morning. To bring
the matter, therefore, to an issue, Abd al Rahmân offered to forego
his own claim to the Caliphate, if only the rest would abide by his
decision. They all agreed but Aly, who at first was silent. At last
Aly said: ‘First give me thy word that thou wilt not regard kith nor
kin, but the right alone and the people’s weal.’ ‘And I,’ rejoined Abd
al Rahmân, ‘ask thee first to give me thy troth that thou wilt abide
by my choice, and against all dissentients wilt support the same.’ Aly
assented, and thus the matter rested in the hands of Abd al Rahmân.

[Sidenote: Abd al Rahmân acts as Umpire.]

That night Abd al Rahmân did not close his eyes. The contest was
narrowed between the houses of Hâshim and Omeyya, in the persons of
Aly and Othmân, and their influence with the electoral body was fairly
equal.[434] Abd al Rahmân was closeted with each of the Electors alone
in turn. Zobeir was in favour of Aly; how Sád voted is not certain.
With Aly and Othmân, separately, Abd al Rahmân was long in secret
conference. Each pressed his own claim; but each also admitted the
claim of the other to be the next in weight to his own. The morning
broke upon them thus engaged; and now the nomination must be made.

[Sidenote: Othmân elected Caliph.]

The Great Mosque overflowed with expectant worshippers, who crowded in
unusual number to the morning service. Abd al Rahmân addressed them
thus:--‘The people think that the governors, chiefs, and captains
should, without further waiting, return to their respective posts.
Wherefore advise me now in this matter.’ Ammâr, the late governor of
Kûfa, said: ‘If it be thy desire that there be no division in the land,
then salute Aly, Caliph!’ and Micdâd affirmed the same. ‘Nay,’ cried
Abu Sarh, ‘if it be thy desire that there be no division, then salute
Othmân!’ and Abu Rabia affirmed the same. Ammâr turned contemptuously
on Abu Sarh; who, repaying scorn with scorn, said: ‘And pray, Ammâr,
how long hast thou been counsellor to the Moslems? Let the Beni Hâshim
and Omeyya speak for themselves.’ But Ammâr would not be silent, and,
continuing to press the claims of Aly, asked why the government should
pass away from the Prophet’s line. Whereupon one of the Beni Makhzûm
(a Coreishite tribe) cried angrily: ‘Thou passest beyond thy bounds, O
son of Sommeyya; who art thou, thus to counsel the Coreish?’[435] Sád,
seeing that the strife was waxing warm, said to Abd al Rahmân: ‘Finish
thy work at once, or the flames of discord will burst forth.’ ‘Silence,
ye people!’ cried Abd al Rahmân--‘Be quiet, or ye will bring evil upon
yourselves. The determination of this matter resteth with me.’ So
saying, he called Aly to the front, and thus addressed him: ‘Dost thou
bind thyself by the covenant of the Lord, to do all according to the
Book of the Lord, the example of the Prophet, and the precedent of his
Successors?’ ‘I hope,’ responded Aly, ‘that I should do so; I will act
according to the best of my knowledge and ability.’ Then he put the
same question to Othmân, who answered unconditionally,--‘Yea, I will.’
Whereupon, either dissatisfied with Aly’s hesitating answer, or having
already decided in his mind against him, Abd al Rahmân raised his face
toward heaven, and taking Othmân by the hand, prayed thus aloud:--‘O
Lord, do thou hearken now and bear me witness. Verily the burden that
is around my neck, the same I place around the neck of Othmân.’ So
saying, he saluted him as Caliph, and all the people followed his

[Sidenote: Othmân’s inaugural address, 3d Moharram, A.H. XXIV. Nov. 7,
A.D. 644.]

It was the first day of the new year, the twenty-fourth of the Hegira.
After receiving the homage of the people, a process in which two or
three days were occupied, Othmân ascended the pulpit, and made a brief
and modest speech.[436] ‘The first attempt,’ he said, ‘was always
difficult, for he was unused to speak in public. It would be his duty
in the future to address them, and the Lord would teach him.’

[Sidenote: Aly swears allegiance.]

Though Aly, like the rest, took the oath of allegiance to Othmân, yet
his party were much displeased, and he himself upbraided Abd al Rahmân
bitterly with the desire to keep the supreme power out of the Prophet’s
house and brotherhood. ‘Beware,’ said Abd al Rahmân, with a prophetic
warning: ‘take heed lest, thus speaking, thou makest not a way against
thyself, whereof thou shalt repent hereafter.’ And so Aly passed out
with the words of Joseph on his lips; ‘Surely patience becometh me. The
Lord is my helper against that which ye devise.’[437] Shortly after,
Talha returned to Medîna. Othmân acquainted him with what had happened.
As his vote would have ruled the majority, Othmân declared that if he
dissented, he was prepared even then to resign the Caliphate. But on
learning that all the people had agreed, Talha also swore allegiance.

[Sidenote: The choice unfortunate for Islam; but made in good faith.]

The choice of Abd al Rahmân laid the seeds of disaster for Islam at
large, and for the Caliphate in particular. It led to dissensions
which for years bathed the Moslem world in blood, threatened the very
existence of the faith, and to this day divide believers in a hopeless
and embittered schism. But Abd al Rahmân could hardly have anticipated
the wanton, weak, and wavering policy of Othmân which slowly but surely
brought such results about. There is no reason to think that, in
discharging his functions as Umpire, he acted otherwise than loyally
and for the best.[438]

An embarrassing incident followed immediately on the accession of
Othmân. [Sidenote: Murder of Hormuzân, and affair of Omar’s son.]Some
one told Obeidallah, son of the deceased Caliph, that Abu Lulû had been
seen some days before in private converse with Hormuzân the Persian
prince, and with a Christian slave belonging to Sád; and that when
surprised the three separated, dropping a poniard such as that with
which the assassin had wounded Omar. Rashly assuming a conspiracy, the
infuriated son rushed with drawn sword to avenge his father’s death,
and slew both the prince and the slave. Sád, incensed at the loss of
his slave, seized Obeidallah, still reeking with his victims’ blood,
and carried him, as the murderer of a believer (for Hormuzân had
professed the Moslem faith) before the Caliph.

A council was called. There was not a tittle of evidence, or
presumption even, against the prince. Aly delivered his opinion
that, according to the law of God, Obeidallah must be put to death,
as having slain a believer without due cause. Others were shocked
at the proposal:--‘But yesterday,’ they said, ‘the Commander of the
Faithful was slain, and to-day thou wilt put his son to death!’ Moved
by the appeal, Othmân assumed the responsibility of naming a money
compensation in lieu of blood, and this he paid himself. Some feeling
was excited, and people said that the Caliph was already departing
from the strict letter of the law. Ziâd ibn Lebîd, a poet of Medîna,
satirised both the murderer and the Caliph who had let him off, in
stinging verse. But he was silenced; the matter dropped, and there
is no reason to think that in the end Othmân’s action was generally

[Sidenote: Othmân increases stipends.]

One of the first acts by which Othmân signalised his accession was to
increase the stipends of the chief men all round, by the addition to
each of one hundred dirhems. The act, no doubt, was popular, but it
gave promise of extravagance in the new administration.

                             CHAPTER XXX.


                    A.H. XXIV.-XXXV. A.D. 645–656.

[Sidenote: Dynastic issues of the Caliphate.]

Having now traced the progress of Islam to its firm establishment in
the world, I do not propose to pursue the history of its conquests and
further spread, otherwise than in a very brief and general way; but
shall confine what remains of this work chiefly to a review of the
facts bearing on the dynastic issues of the Caliphate.

[Sidenote: Causes of Othmân’s unpopularity:]

The reign of Othmân lasted twelve years. It is usual to say that the
first six were popular, and the last six the reverse; that is to say,
that, during the latter half, the tide turned, and, discontent ripening
into sedition, the storm burst at length with fatal force upon the
aged Caliph. This is true if we look at the outward appearance. But in
reality the causes of unpopularity were busily at work from the very
beginning. These were twofold: _first_, antagonism between the
Arab nation at large and the Coreish; _secondly_, jealousy between
the house of Hâshim, and that of Abd Shems (the Omeyyads) to which
Othmân and Muâvia belonged.

[Sidenote: I. Antagonism between Arab tribes at large and Coreish.]

The Arab soldiery, flushed with the glory and the fruits of victory,
were scattered all over the empire. In Syria, they were held in check
by the powerful hand of Muâvia, whose authority was strengthened by the
larger settlement there than elsewhere of influential citizens from
Mecca and Medîna. In every other province, conscious of their power,
the Arab tribes were rapidly getting the bit between their teeth. Their
arrogant and factious spirit found its focus at Kûfa and Bussorah in
both of which cities, indeed, it had already ominously shown itself
during the reign of Omar; for even he had not been able effectually to
curb it there. Impatience of control on the part of the Arabs was based
partly on the spread of Islam having been due to the prowess of their
arms; and partly on the brotherhood of the faith, in virtue of which
all believers, and specially those of Arab blood, stood on the common
ground of civil equality. The Caliph, it is true, as successor to the
Prophet, was absolute, uncontrolled by any constitutional authority
whatever. But even he, yielding to the sentiment, not only took counsel
on all critical occasions with the leading men around him, but, as a
rule, held himself bound by the popular voice at large, and enjoined
the same upon his lieutenants in the provinces. And so it was that in
the recall of Sád, the arraigning of Abu Mûsa, and other concessions to
the clamour of the citizens of Bussorah and Kûfa, Omar had already set
a baneful lesson to his successor, and given to those constituencies a
foretaste of power which they were not slow to take advantage of. Thus
the turbulent spirit grew from day to day--a spirit of opposition to
all authority, and of impatience in particular of the pretensions of
the Coreish.

[Sidenote: II. Aly and the house of Hâshim jealous of Othmân and the
house of Omeyya.]

The second cause, though less threatening to Islam, was more insidious,
and fraught with greater danger to the Caliphate and the person of
Othmân himself. Had the Coreish rallied loyally around the throne, the
Arab factions might have been nipped in the bud. But the weakness of
Othmân, and the partiality with which he favoured his own friends and
relatives, stirred the jealousy of the house of Hâshim, which began
vaunting the claims of Aly and the Prophet’s family, and depreciating
the Omeyyad branch to which the Caliph belonged. That branch,
unfortunately for the Omeyyads, had been the tardiest to recognise the
mission of Mahomet; and the kinsmen on whom Othmân now lavished his
favours had been the most inveterate in their opposition to it. Every
unfavourable expression uttered by the Prophet during that period of
bitter enmity was now raked up against them, and used to blacken their
names, and to cast discredit on a government which promoted them to
power and honour. Thus the Coreish were divided; rivalry paralysed
their influence, and Othmân lost the support which would otherwise
have enabled him to check the machinations of the Arab malcontents.
Still worse, Aly and his party lent themselves to the disloyal policy
of the Bedouin faction, which was fast sapping the foundations of the
Caliphate, and which, as Aly should have foreseen, would in the end
recoil against himself.[440]

[Sidenote: Factious spirit diverted by military service.]

It was not, however, till the later part of Othmân’s reign that these
influences, though early at work, assumed dangerous prominence. Their
retardation was in great measure due to the military operations, which,
busily pursued in all directions by the Moslem arms, diverted attention
from domestic trouble. Campaigns were annually prosecuted, with more or
less vigour, throughout the twelve years of Othmân’s Caliphate. A very
brief outline of them will suffice.

[Sidenote: Operations in _Persia_.]

In Persia, as we have seen, the Mussulman invasion had resulted
hitherto rather in the dispersion of great armies than in the effectual
reduction of the country. Most of the provinces resented the first
imposition of tribute, and rose against their new masters, one
after another, in repeated and sometimes long-continued rebellion.
Expeditions were time after time equipped from Kûfa and Bussorah
to crush these risings, from the Caspian Sea and the Oxus to the
shores of the Indian Ocean, and even as far as Kabul.[441] It was
not till near the close of Othmân’s reign that the Moslem yoke was
firmly settled on the neck of Persia. [Sidenote: A.H. XXXI.
A.D. 652.]In the eighth year of his Caliphate, Yezdegird died;
and thereafter, though in a desultory and sporadic fashion opposition
might still survive, anything like national or dynastic antagonism
was at an end. Success, indeed, did not invariably attend the Moslem
arms. The progress, on the whole, was steadily forward; but there
were reverses, and these sometimes of a serious type. In the year
A.H. 32, the Turks on the western shore of the Caspian had an
advantage, in which the Arab leaders and a great body of the veterans
were slain. To retrieve the disaster, Othmân ordered levies from Syria
to cross Mesopotamia and reinforce the Kûfan army. Bad blood bred
between the two; the Syrians refused to serve under the captain of the
rival body; and an altercation ensued which nearly led to bloodshed.
This, adds the historian, was the first symptom of the breach between
the Kûfans and the men of Syria, which subsequently broke out into
prolonged hostilities. About the same time, a whole army was lost in
deep snow upon the heights of Kermân, only two men escaping to tell the
tale. There were also very serious reverses in Turkestan. But Arabia
continued to cast forth its swarms of fighting tribes in such vast
numbers, and the wild fanaticism of the faith still rolled so rapidly
onward, that these and similar disasters soon disappeared in the
swelling tide of conquest.

[Sidenote: _Syria_, _Asia Minor_, and _Armenia_. A.H. XXV. A.D. 646.]

Excepting raids of little import, Syria had for some time past enjoyed
rest,[442] when suddenly in the second year of this Caliphate, Muâvia
was startled by the approach of an army from Asia Minor, which he had
not the means to oppose. Othmân ordered troops to pass over from
the eastern provinces, and eight thousand volunteers soon joined the
Syrian army. Thus reinforced, the Arabs repulsed the Byzantine attack.
Following up their success, they overran Asia Minor, and, piercing the
heart of Armenia, joined their comrades on the Persian border within
sight of the Caspian. Thence they penetrated as far north as Tiflis,
and even to the shores of the Black Sea. Thereafter hostilities were
renewed for a long period every summer; and eventually, aided by naval
expeditions from the ports of Africa, the Syrian generals pushed
forward their conquests in the Levant and Asia Minor, enlarged their
coasts, and strengthened their border.

[Sidenote: _Africa._ A.H. XXV. A.D. 646.]

In Africa, I have already noticed the desperate attack made early in
the reign of Othmân on Alexandria from seaward. The Byzantine forces,
for a little while, regained possession of the city, but (as we have
before related) were finally driven out by Amru; and against the Moslem
power in Egypt no further attack was made. The Imperial arms, however,
were still active in Africa; and along the northern shores of the
Mediterranean, strong Arab columns were long actively engaged. Among
the chiefs who had joined the Egyptian army was Abu Sarh,[443] already
noticed as the foster-brother of Othmân. He did not bear an enviable
reputation in Islam; for having been employed by Mahomet as amanuensis
to record his early revelations, he had proved in some way unfaithful
to the trust; and on the capture of Mecca, was in consequence
proscribed from the amnesty, and only at the intercession of Othmân
escaped being put to death. [Sidenote: Abu Sarh supersedes Amru in
Upper Egypt. A.H. XXVI. A.D. 647.] Possessed of administrative ability,
he had been appointed by Omar to the government of Upper Egypt. But
some years after, he fell out with Amru, in whom was vested the supreme
control of the province; and each appealed to Othmân. Amru was
declared to be in fault, and the Caliph deposed him altogether from
the civil charge of Egypt. Amru objected. ‘To be over the army,’ he
said, ‘and not over the revenue, was but holding the cow’s horns, while
another milked her.’ He repaired angrily to Othmân, who, after some
words of bitter altercation, transferred the entire administration,
civil and military, into the hands of Abu Sarh. The act was unfortunate
for the Caliph. It threw Amru into the ranks of the disaffected party
at Medîna; while the bad repute of ‘the renegade’ Abu Sarh, though
he was an able warrior, gave point to the charges of partiality and
nepotism now rife against Othmân.[444]

[Sidenote: Conquest in Northern Africa. A.H. XXVI. A.D. 647.]

Abu Sarh, left thus in sole command, carried his arms vigorously along
the coast beyond Tripoli and Barca, and threatened Carthage and the
far west. The Byzantine Governor, Gregory, reinforced by the Emperor,
advanced against him with an army, we are told, of one hundred and
twenty thousand men. Othmân, warned of the danger, strengthened Abu
Sarh by a large contingent of Arab troops; and with them marched a
numerous company of veterans and ‘Companions,’ including the sons
of Abu Bekr, of Abbâs, and of Zobeir. The field was long and hotly
contested; and Abu Sarh, to stimulate his men, promised the hand of
Gregory’s daughter, with a large dower, to the warrior who should slay
her father. The enemy was at last discomfited with great slaughter,
and a citizen of Medîna gained the lady for his prize. He carried her
off on his camel to Medîna; and the martial verses which he sang by the
way are still preserved.[445] In this campaign, Othmân incurred much
odium by granting Abu Sarh a fifth of the royal share of the booty as
personal prize. The rest was sent as usual to Medîna; and here again
Othmân is blamed for allowing Merwân his cousin to become the purchaser
of the same at an inadequate price.[446]

[Sidenote: Naval operations, forbidden by Omar.]

But it is as the first commander of a Moslem fleet that Abu Sarh
is chiefly famous, in which capacity he both added largely to the
conquests of Islam, and also by his pre-eminence contributed anew to
the obloquy Cast on his master’s name. Muâvia had for a long time
keenly missed the support of a fleet, and had sought permission of
Omar to embark his soldiery in ships. ‘The isles of the Levant,’ he
wrote, ‘are so close to the Syrian shore, that you might almost hear
the barking of the dogs and the cackling of the hens: give me leave to
attack them.’ But Omar dreaded the sea, and wrote to consult Amru, who
answered thus:--‘The sea is a boundless expanse, whereon great ships
look but tiny specks; there is nought saving the heavens above and the
waters beneath; when the wind lulls, the sailor’s heart is broken;
when tempestuous, his senses reel. Trust it little, fear it much. Man
at sea is an insect floating on a splinter, now engulfed, now scared
to death.’ On receipt of this alarming account, Omar forbade Muâvia
to have anything to do with ships. ‘The Syrian sea, they tell me, is
longer and broader than the dry land, and is instant with the Lord,
night and day, seeking to swallow it up. How should I trust my people
on the bosom of the cursed infidel? Remember Alâ. Nay, my friend, the
safety of my people is dearer to me than all the treasures of Greece.’

[Sidenote: But undertaken by Othmân.]

Nothing, therefore, was attempted by sea in the reign of Omar. But on
his death, Muâvia renewed the petition, and, at his reiterated request,
Othmân at last relaxed the ban, on condition that the service should
be voluntary. [Sidenote: Cyprus occupied. A.H. XXVIII. A.D. 649.] The
first fleet equipped against Cyprus, in the twenty-eighth year of the
Hegira, was commanded by Abu Cays as admiral; it was joined by Abu
Sarh with a complement of ships manned by Egyptians, and carried a
body of Arab warriors from Alexandria. Cyprus was taken easily, and a
great multitude of captives carried off. The Cypriots agreed to pay the
same revenue as they had done to the Emperor; but, unable as yet to
guarantee their protection, the Caliph remitted the ordinary poll-tax.
Of Abu Cays we are told that he headed fifty expeditions by land and by
sea, but was killed at the last, while engaged in exploring a Grecian

[Sidenote: Naval victory off Alexandria. A.H. XXXI. A.D. 652.]

Three years after the fall of Cyprus, driven now from the harbours of
Africa, and seriously threatened in the Levant, the Byzantines gathered
a fleet of five or six hundred vessels of war, and defied the Arabs at
sea. Abu Sarh was appointed to take up the challenge. He manned every
available ship in the ports of Egypt and Africa; and his squadron,
though much inferior in weight and equipment to the enemy’s, was
crowded with valiant warriors from the army. The Byzantine fleet came
in sight near Alexandria. The wind lulled, and both sides lay for a
while at anchor. The night was passed by the Moslems in recitation of
the Corân and prayer, while the Greeks kept up the clangour of their
bells. In the morning, a fierce engagement took place. The Arab ships
grappled with their adversaries, and a hand-to-hand encounter with
sword and dagger ensued. The slaughter was great on both sides; but
the Greeks, unable to withstand the wild onset of the Saracens, broke
and dispersed. Constantine, who had been in command, sailed away to
Syracuse, where the people, infuriated at the defeat, despatched him in
his bath.[448]

[Sidenote: Obloquy cast on Othmân in this affair.]

In this expedition, the discontent against Othmân, notwithstanding
the splendid victory, for the first time found open and dangerous
expression among some of the leading Companions. Mohammed son of
Abu Bekr, and Mohammed son of Abu Hodzeifa (afterwards leaders in
rebellion), murmured against the Caliph for appointing Abu Sarh
admiral. ‘Othmân hath changed the ordinances of his predecessors,’
they said, ‘and made captain of the fleet a man whom the Prophet
proscribed, and desired to have put to death; and such like men also
hath he put in chief command at Kûfa and Bussorah, and elsewhere.’
The clamour reaching the ears of Abu Sarh, he declared that none of
these men should fight in his line of battle. Excluded thus from the
victory, they were the more incensed. Spite of the threats of Abu Sarh,
the inflammatory language spread, and men began to speak openly and
unadvisedly against Othmân.[449]

[Sidenote: Caliph’s outlook darkens.]

The clouds were louring, and the horizon of the unfortunate Caliph
darkening all around.

                             CHAPTER XXXI.

                       HIS GROWING UNPOPULARITY.

[Sidenote: Discontent at Kûfa and Bussorah.]

Kûfa and Bussorah at this period exercised an influence on the
destinies of Islam hardly less potent than that of the Court of Medîna
itself. The turbulent and factious atmosphere of these cities became
rapidly and dangerously charged with sentiments of disloyalty and
rebellion, and an unwise change of governors aggravated the evil.

[Sidenote: Sád reinstated in the government of Kûfa; A.H. XXXIV. A.D.

Moghîra did not long enjoy the power to which the weakness of Omar
had raised him. He was removed by Othmân shortly after his accession;
and, to fill the vacancy, in obedience (as some say) to the dying wish
of Omar, Sád, the conqueror of Medâin, was reinstated in his former
office. The issue was again unfortunate. To provide for his luxurious
living, Sád, shortly after his appointment, took an advance of money
from the chancellor of his treasury, Ibn Masûd; who, by and by, became
importunate for its repayment. A heated altercation ensued, and Sád
swore angrily at Ibn Masûd. The factious city ranged itself, part with
the great warrior, and part with the quondam slave. The quarrel reached
the ears of Othmân, who was much displeased, and recalled Sád before
he had been a year at Kûfa. [Sidenote: but shortly superseded by Welîd
ibn Ocba,]As successor, the Caliph appointed Welîd ibn Ocba, a brave
warrior, but suspected of intemperance, and withal a uterine brother of
his own. To make the choice the more unfortunate, Welîd was son of that
Ocba who, when taken prisoner in the battle of Bedr and about to be put
to death, exclaimed in the bitterness of his soul, ‘Who will care for
my little children?’ and was answered by the Prophet, ‘Hell-fire!’ The
words were not forgotten, and faction was careful now to turn them to
the worst account. Nevertheless, Welîd was popular; and as, for several
years, he directed successive campaigns in the east with gallantry and
vigour, he managed thus to divert the restless spirits of his people
from discontent at home. But in the end, the unruly populace was too
strong for him. A murder took place, and sentence of death was executed
at the city gate against three of the culprits.[450] [Sidenote: who was
deposed for inebriety. A.H. XXX. A.D. 651.] Their relatives resented
the act of justice, and lay in wait to find ground of accusation
against the governor, whose habits gave them ready opportunity to
attain their object. Charges of intemperance were repeatedly laid
against him, and as often dismissed by Othmân, because wanting in legal
proof. At last his enemies succeeded in detaching from his hand the
signet-ring of office while he slept (as they said) from the effects
of a debauch, and carried it off in triumph to Medîna. But still
worse, it was established that Welîd had on one occasion conducted
the morning prayers in such a state of inebriation that, having come
to the end of the proper service, he went on, without stopping, to
commence another. The scandal was great; and the majesty of Islam must
be vindicated. Welîd was recalled to Medîna, scourged according to law,
and deposed.[451]

[Sidenote: Abu Mûsa deposed at Bussorah. A.H. XXIX. A.D. 650.]

At Bussorah, too, things were going from bad to worse. Abu Mûsa had now
been many years governor, when the restless citizens became impatient
of his rule. He had been preaching to the pampered soldiery the virtue
of enduring hardness as good soldiers of the faith, and therefore of
going forth on foot to war. When the next expedition was ready to
start, they watched to see whether he would himself set the example.
And as his ample baggage issued forth, winding in a long string of
mules from the approaches to the castle, they set upon him, crying out,
‘Give us of these beasts to ride upon, and walk thou on foot, a pattern
of the hardness thou preachest unto us.’ Then they repaired to Medîna,
and complained that their governor had drained the land of its wealth,
pampered the Coreish, and tyrannised over the Arab tribes. Instead of
checking with promptitude their petulance and insubordination, Othmân
gave it new life by deposing Abu Mûsa on these vague complaints, and
appointing an obscure citizen whom they desired, to be their governor.
Found unequal to the post, this man was deposed, and a youthful cousin
of the Caliph, Ibn Aámir,[452] promoted in his room. [Sidenote: Ibn
Aámir appointed governor.]When tidings of his nomination reached
Bussorah, Abu Mûsa told the people: ‘Now ye shall have a taxgatherer to
your hearts’ content, rich in cousins, aunts, and uncles; he will flood
you with his harpies!’ And so, in truth, it turned out; for he soon
filled all the local offices and the commands in Persia with creatures
of his own. But in other respects he proved an able ruler, and took a
leading part in the struggle now close at hand.

[Sidenote: Saîd governor of Kûfa. A.H. XXX. A.D. 651.]

The government of Kûfa, vacated by the deposition of Welîd, together
with the whole province of Mesopotamia, was conferred by Othmân upon
another young and untried kinsman, Saîd ibn al Aás. His father was
killed fighting against the Prophet at Bedr; and the boy, thus left an
orphan, had been brought up by Omar, and was eventually sent by him
to the wars in Syria. Receiving a good account of his breeding and
prowess, Omar summoned him to his court, and gave him two Arab maidens
to wife.[453] This youth, now promoted to the most critical post in the
empire, was not only without experience in the art of governing, but
was vainly inflated with the pretensions of the Coreish. Accustomed
in Syria to the discipline of Muâvia’s rule, he wrote to Othmân, on
reaching Kûfa, that license reigned there; that noble birth passed for
nothing; and that the Bedouins were away, beyond control, with the bit
between their teeth. His final address as governor was a blustering
harangue, in which he glibly talked of crushing the sedition and
arrogance of the men of Kûfa with a rod of iron. [Sidenote: Discontent
gains ground at Kûfa.]Countenanced by the Caliph in his vain career,
he fomented discontent by advancing to invidious distinction the
Coreishite nobility, and treating with contumely the great body of
the citizens. ‘One Coreishite succeedeth another in this government,’
they said;--‘the last no better than the first. It is but “out of the
frying-pan into the fire.”’ The under-current of faction gained daily
in strength and volume. But the vigorous campaigns of Saîd in northern
Persia, for he was an active soldier, served for a time to occupy men’s
minds, and to stay the open exhibition of the rebellious spirit.

[Sidenote: Other causes of disaffection.]

Meanwhile other causes were at work throughout the empire calculated to
increase the disaffection; or which, if unimportant in themselves, were
adroitly seized by the Caliph’s enemies and turned to that purpose.

[Sidenote: Othmân’s recension of the Corân. A.H. XXX. A.D. 651.]

First may be mentioned the recension of the Corân. The Moslem warriors
had spread themselves over such vast areas, and the various columns,
as well as converted peoples, were so widely separated one from the
other, that differences arose in the recitation of the sacred text,
as it had been settled in the previous reign. Bussorah followed the
reading of Abu Mûsa; Kûfa was guided by the authority of Ibn Masûd,
their chancellor; and the text of Hims differed from that in use even
at Damascus. Hodzeifa, during his campaign in Persia, having witnessed
the variations in the different provinces, returned to Kûfa strongly
impressed with the gravity of the evil and the need of a revision. Ibn
Masûd was highly incensed with the slight thus put upon the authority
of his text. But Hodzeifa persisted in his views, and, supported by
Saîd, the governor, urged Othmân to restore the unity of the divine
word, ‘before that believers began to differ in their scripture, even
as do the Jews and Christians.’ The Caliph took the advice of the
leading Companions at Medîna, and, in accordance therewith, called
for samples of the manuscripts in use throughout the empire. He then
appointed a syndicate, from amongst the Coreish, of men whose authority
could be relied upon, to collate these copies with the sacred originals
still in the keeping of Haphsa, the widow of Mahomet. Under their
supervision the variations were reconciled, and an authoritative
exemplar written out, of which duplicates were deposited at Mecca and
Medîna, Kûfa and Damascus. From these exemplars, copies were multiplied
over the empire; all former manuscripts were called in and committed
to the flames; and the standard text was brought into exclusive use.
The uniformity thus secured by the secular arm, and maintained by the
same in every land and every age, is taken by the simple believer as a
proof of divine custodianship. The action of Othmân was received at the
moment, as it deserved, with a very general consent, excepting at Kûfa.
There Ibn Masûd, who prided himself on his faultless recitation of the
oracle, pure as it fell from the Prophet’s lips, was much displeased;
and the charge of sacrilege in having burned the former copies of the
sacred text, was readily circulated amongst the factious citizens. By
and by the charge was spread abroad, and was taken up with avidity by
the enemies of Othmân; and, ages afterwards, we find it still eagerly
urged by the partisans of the Abbasside dynasty as an unpardonable
offence on the part of the ungodly Caliph. The accusation, thus trumped
up for party purposes, was really without foundation. Indeed, it was
scouted by Aly himself. When, several years after, he proceeded as
Caliph to Kûfa, he found the citizens still blaming his ill-starred
predecessor for the act. ‘Silence!’ he said; ‘Othmân acted as he did
with the advice of the leading men amongst us; and if I had been ruler
at the time, instead of him, I should myself have exactly done the

[Sidenote: Many of the Coreish migrate to Irâc.]

A great body of the nobility from Mecca and Medîna about this time
transferred their residence to Irâc. These had no right to share in the
endowments of that province, the special privileges of which, in virtue
of their conquest, were reserved for the present citizens of Kûfa and
Bussorah. They were allowed, however, to do so on selling to Othmân, on
behalf of the State, the properties which they owned in the Hejâz; and
the concession appears to have added a fresh grievance to foment the
rising discontent at the extravagant pretensions of the Coreish.[455]

[Sidenote: Story of Abu Dzarr Ghifâry,]

The story of Abu Dzarr Ghifâry is singularly illustrative of the times,
and his harsh treatment is ordinarily mentioned as a serious ground
of complaint against the Caliph. He was one of the earliest converts
to the faith; and tradition asserts that he even anticipated Mahomet
himself in some of the observances of Islam. An ascetic in his habits,
he inveighed against the riches and extravagance of the day--evils
which were altogether alien from the simplicity of Mahomet, and which,
rushing in like a flood, were now demoralising the people. Gorgeous
palaces, crowds of slaves, multitudes of horses, camels, flocks and
herds, profusion of costly garments, sumptuous fare, and splendid
equipage, were the fashion, not only in Syria and Irâc, but had begun
to find their way even into the Hejâz.[456] The protest of Abu Dzarr
points to the recoil of the stricter class of believers against all
this luxury and indulgence; and the manner in which the discontented
classes, and the advocates of communism, were beginning to turn that
recoil to their own account, and to the discredit of the government.
Visiting Syria, the spirit of the ascetic was stirred at the pomps
and vanities so rife around him, and he preached repentance to the
inhabitants of Damascus. ‘This gold and silver of yours,’ he cried,
‘shall one day be heated red-hot in the fire of hell; and therewith
shall ye be seared in your foreheads, sides, and backs, ye ungodly
spendthrifts![457] Wherefore, spend now the same in alms, leaving
yourselves enough but for your daily bread; or else woe be to you in
that day!’ Crowds flocked to hear him, some trembling under the rebuke;
the envious rejoicing at the contempt poured on the rich and noble;
and the people dazzled by the vision of themselves sharing in the
treasures thus denounced. Uneasy at the disturbance caused by these
diatribes in the public mind, Muâvia resolved to test the spirit of the
preacher. He sent him a purse of a thousand pieces; in the morning,
affecting to have made a mistake, he demanded the return of the gift;
but during the night Abu Dzarr had distributed the whole in charity.
Upon this, Muâvia, apprehensive of the spread of communistic doctrines,
despatched the preacher to Medîna, telling Othmân that he was a sincere
but misguided enthusiast. Before the Caliph, Abu Dzarr persisted in
fearlessly denouncing the great and wealthy, and urged that they should
be forced to disgorge their riches. Othmân condescended to reason with
him. ‘After men have completely fulfilled their legal obligations,’
he asked, ‘what power remaineth with me to compel them to any further
sacrifice?’ and he turned to Káb, the learned Jewish convert, in
corroboration of what he had said. [Sidenote: banished by Othman to
Rabadza. A.H. XXX. A.D. 651.] ‘Out upon thee, thou son of a Jew! What
have I to do with thee?’ cried Abu Dzarr, and with these words smote
Káb violently upon the stomach. Argument being thus of no further
use, Othmân banished the preacher to Rabadza in the desert of Nejd,
where two years after he died in penury. As he felt his end approach,
the hermit desired his daughter to slay a kid, and have it ready for
a party of travellers who, he said, would shortly pass that way to
Mecca, and bury him; then, making her turn his face toward the Kâaba,
he quietly breathed his last. Soon after, the expected party came up,
and amongst them Ibn Masûd from Kûfa, who, weeping over him, bewailed
his fate, and buried him on the spot on which he died. The death of Ibn
Masûd himself, a few days after, added to the pathos of the incident.
The plaintive tale was soon in everyone’s mouth; and the banishment of
the pious ascetic and preacher of righteousness was made much of by
the enemies of the Caliph. The necessity was forgotten; the obloquy

[Sidenote: Othmân incurs odium by putting down unlawful amusements, and
by extending the square of the Kâaba. A.H. XXVI. A.D. 647.]

When he was himself minded to assume the office of censor and rebuke
the ungodliness of the day, the unfortunate Caliph fared no better. The
laxity of Syria had reached even to the sacred precincts of the Hejâz;
and Othmân, on attempting to check the games and other practices held
to be inconsistent with the profession of Islam, incurred resentment,
especially from the gay youth whose amusements he had thwarted.
Gambling and wagering, indeed, were put down with the approval of all
the stricter classes of society; but there were not wanting many who,
displeased with the Caliph’s interference, joined in the cry of his

[Sidenote: The Mosque at Medîna enlarged and beautified. A.H. XXXII.
A.D. 653.]

The enlargement of the grand square of the Kâaba, commenced by Omar,
was carried on by Othmân during his visits to Mecca at the time of
pilgrimage. And here, too, the ill-fated Caliph met with opposition.
The owners of the houses demolished in the course of the work refused
to accept the compensation offered, and raised a great outcry against
it. The Caliph put them into prison, for, said he, ‘My predecessor did
the same, and ye made no outcry against him.’ But what the firm arm of
Omar could do, and none stir hand or foot against him, it was a very
different thing for the weak and unpopular Othmân to attempt. He was
more successful with the Great Mosque at Medîna, originally built by
Mahomet, and hallowed by the mortal remains of the Prophet himself and
his two Successors. This was now greatly enlarged and beautified. The
supports, made at the first of the trunks of date-trees, were removed,
and the roof made to rest on pillars of hewn stone. The walls, too,
were built up with masonry, richly carved and inlaid with rare and
precious stones. It was a pious work, and none objected.[460]

Yet another, and a very gratuitous, cause of murmuring arose from
certain changes made by Othmân in the ceremonial of the annual
pilgrimage, which, though in themselves trivial and unmeaning, excited
strong disapprobation at the Caliph’s court. [Sidenote: Unwise changes
in the pilgrim ceremonial. A.H. XXXII. A.D. 653.] He pitched tents for
shelter during the few days spent for sacrifice at Minâ, a thing which
had never been done before; and, to the prayers heretofore recited
there and on Mount Arafat, he added new ones with two more series of
prostrations. The ritual, as established by the Prophet himself, had
been scrupulously followed by his two successors, and a superstitious
reverence attached thereto even in the minutest detail. When
expostulated with on the rash and unhallowed innovation, Othmân gave
no reasonable answer, but simply said it was his will that it should
be so.[461] Aly, Abd al Rahmân, and others were much offended at these
alterations; and the disregard of the sacred example of the Founder of
the faith raised a scandal among the Companions unfavourable to Othmân.

[Sidenote: Othmân makes many enemies.]

On the other hand, beyond the immediate circle of his kinsfolk,
Othmân made no personal friends. Narrow, selfish, indiscreet, and
obstinate--more and more so, indeed, with advancing years--he alienated
those who would otherwise have stood loyally by him; and he made many
enemies, who pursued him with relentless hatred. We have already seen
how Mohammed son of Abu Bekr, and Mohammed son of Abu Hodzeifa, were
embittered against him at the naval victory of Alexandria. And yet
no very special cause can be assigned for their enmity. The first is
said to have been actuated by ‘passion and ambition.’ The other was
nearly related to Othmân, and as an orphan had been kindly brought up
by him; he was now offended at having been passed over for office and
command. Both joined the rebellion which shortly broke out in Egypt,
and were amongst the most dangerous of the Caliph’s enemies. Nor was it
otherwise with the people at large. A factious spirit set in against
the unfortunate prince. The leaven fermented all around; and every man
who had a grievance, real or supposed, hastened to swell the hostile

[Sidenote: He loses the Prophet’s ring. A.H. XXIX. A.D. 650.]

To crown the Caliph’s ill-fortune, in the seventh year of his reign,
he lost the signet-ring of silver which had been engraven for the
Prophet, and which had been worn and used officially both by him and
his successors. It was a favourite and meritorious occupation of Othmân
to deepen the old wells, and to sink new ones, in the neighbourhood
of Medîna. He was thus engaged when, sitting by the well Arîs,[463]
and pointing with his finger in direction to the labourers, the ring
dropped and disappeared. Every effort was made, but in vain, to recover
the priceless relic. The well was emptied of the water and the mud
cleared out, and a great sum was offered; but no trace of the ring ever
appeared. Othmân grieved over the loss. The omen weighed heavily on his
mind; and it was some time before he was prevailed upon to supply the
place of the lost signet by another of like fashion.[464]

[Sidenote: Othmân marries Nâila. A.H. XXVIII.]

Othmân had married successively two of the Prophet’s daughters, both
of whom died before their father. Three of his wives still survived
when, in the fifth year of his Caliphate, being then between seventy
and eighty years of age, he took Nâila to wife. Of her previous history
we know little more than that she had once been a Christian, but,
before her marriage with the Caliph, had embraced Islam. She bore him a
daughter; and through all his trials clung faithfully by her aged lord,
to the bitter end. The days were coming when he needed such a helper by
his side.[465]

                            CHAPTER XXXII.


                  A.H. XXXII.--XXXIV. A.D. 653–655].

[Sidenote: Seditious elements at work.]

Towards the close of Othmân’s reign, the ferment, which (excepting
Syria perhaps) had long been secretly at work throughout the empire,
began to make its appearance on the surface. The Arab people at large
were everywhere displeased at the pretensions of the Coreish. The
Coreish themselves were ill at ease, the greater part being jealous
of the Omeyyad branch and of the favourites of the Caliph. And the
temptation to revolt was fostered by the weakness and vacillation of
Othmân himself.

[Sidenote: Ibn Sauda preaches sedition in Egypt. A.H. XXXII. A.D. 653.]

Ibn Aámir had been now three years governor of Bussorah, when Ibn
Saba (or, as he is commonly called, Ibn Sauda), a Jew from the south
of Arabia, appeared on the scene, and professed the desire to embrace
Islam. It soon appeared that he was steeped in disaffection to the
existing government--a firebrand of sedition; and as such he was
expelled successively from Bussorah, Kûfa, and Syria, but not before
he had given a dangerous impulse to the already discontented classes.
At last, he found a safe retreat in Egypt, and there became the setter
forth of strange and startling doctrines. Mahomet was to come again,
even as the Messiah was expected to come again. Meanwhile, Aly was
his legate. Othmân was a usurper, and his governors a set of godless
tyrants. The people were stirred. Impiety and wrong, they heard, were
rampant everywhere; truth and justice could be restored no otherwise
than by the overthrow of this wicked dynasty. Such was the preaching
which gained daily ground in Egypt; by busy correspondence it was
spread all over the empire, and startled the minds of men already
foreboding evil from the sensible heavings of a slumbering volcano.[466]

[Sidenote: Émeute at Kûfa. A.H. XXXIII. A.D. 654.]

The breaking out of turbulence was for the moment repressed at Bussorah
by Ibn Aámir; but at Kûfa, Saîd had neither power nor tact to quell
the factious elements around him. He offended even his own party by
ostentatiously washing the steps of the pulpit before he would ascend
a spot pretended to have been made unclean by his drunken predecessor.
He was not only unwise enough openly to foster the arrogant assumptions
of the Coreish, but he had the folly to contemn the claims of the Arab
soldiery, to whose swords they owed the conquest of the lands around
them. He was so indiscreet as to call the beautiful vale of Chaldæa
(the Sawâd) ‘_the Garden of the Coreish_’--‘as if,’ cried the
offended Arabs, ‘without us--our strong arm and our good lances--they
could have ever won this Garden.’ The disaffection, stimulated by a
popular leader named Ashtar, and a knot of factious citizens, found
vent at last in an émeute. As the governor and a company of the people,
according to the custom of the time, sat one day together in free and
equal converse, the topic turned on the bravery of Talha, who had
shielded the Prophet in the day of battle. ‘Ah!’ exclaimed Saîd, with
an invidious contrast, ‘_he_ is a warrior, if ye choose, a real
gem amongst your Bedouin counterfeits. A few more like him, and we
should dwell at ease.’ The assembly was still nettled at this speech,
when a youth incautiously gave expression to the wish, how pleasant
it would be if the governor possessed a certain property which lay
invitingly by the river bank near Kûfa. ‘What!’ shouted the company
with one voice, ‘and out of our Sawâd!’ So saying, and with a torrent
of abuse, they leaped upon the lad and upon his father, who vainly
endeavoured to urge his youth in excuse of his indiscretion, and went
near to killing both.[467]

[Sidenote: The ringleaders are exiled to Syria.]

The factious spirits were emboldened by the outbreak; and discontent
now found open and disloyal expression throughout the kingdom.
Saîd, supported by the Coreishite nobility, appealed against their
machinations to Othmân, who ordered that ten of the ringleaders should
be expelled to Syria.[468] There the Caliph hoped that the powerful
rule of his lieutenant and the loyal example of the Syrians would
inspire the malcontents with better feelings. Muâvia quartered them
in the church of St. Mary; and morning and evening, as he passed by,
abused them roundly on their folly in setting up their crude claims
against the indefeasible rights of the Coreish. Crest-fallen under
several weeks of such treatment, they were sent on to Hims, where the
governor, son of the great Khâlid, subjected them for a month to like
indignities. Whenever he rode forth, he showered invectives on them as
barbarous and factious creatures, who were doing all in their power to
undermine the empire. Their spirit at last was thoroughly broken, and
they professed to be repentant. They were then released; but, ashamed
to return to Kûfa, they remained for the time in Syria, excepting the
dangerous demagogue Ashtar, who made his way secretly to Medîna.

[Sidenote: Saîd expelled from Kûfa. A.H. XXXIV. A.D. 655.]

Months passed, and things did not mend at Kûfa. Most of the leading
men, whose influence could have kept the populace in check, were away
on military command in Persia; and the malcontents, in treasonable
correspondence with the Egyptian faction, gained head daily.
Disheartened at this, Saîd, in an unlucky moment, planned a visit to
Medîna, there to lay his troubles before the Caliph. No sooner had he
gone than the conspirators came to the front, and recalled the exiles
from Syria. Ashtar, too, was soon upon the scene. Taking his stand at
the door of the Great Mosque of Kûfa, he stirred up the people, as they
assembled for worship, against Saîd: ‘He had just left that despot,’
he said, ‘at Medîna, plotting their ruin, counselling the Caliph to
cut down their stipends, even the women’s; and calling the broad fields
which they had conquered _The Garden of the Coreish_.’ The acting
governor, helped by the better class of citizens, sought in vain to
still the rising storm. He inculcated patience upon them. ‘Patience!’
cried Cacâa, the great warrior, in scorn; ‘ye might as well roll back
the Great River when in flood as attempt to quell the people’s uproar
till they have the thing they want.’ Yezîd, brother of one of the
exiles, then raised a standard, and called upon all the enemies of
the tyrannical governor to join and bar his return to Kûfa. When Saîd
drew near, they marched out as far as Câdesîya, and sent forward to
say that ‘they did not need him any more.’ Saîd, little expecting such
a reception, said to them, ‘It had sufficed if ye had sent a delegate
with your complaint to the Caliph; but now ye come forth a thousand
strong against a single man!’ They were deaf to his expostulations. The
servant of Saîd, endeavouring to push on, was slain by Ashtar; and Saîd
himself fled back to Medîna, where he found Othmân already terrified by
tidings of the outbreak, and prepared to yield whatever the insurgents
might demand. [Sidenote: Abu Mûsa appointed in his room.]At their
desire he appointed Abu Mûsa governor in place of Saîd. To welcome him
the captains in command of the reserves and outlying garrisons came in
from all quarters; and Abu Mûsa received them in the crowded Mosque of
Kûfa. He first exacted from all present the pledge of loyalty to the
Caliph, and then installed himself in office by leading the prayers of
the great assembly.

[Sidenote: Othmân’s fatal mistake.]

If, instead of giving way, Othmân had inflicted on the ringleaders
condign punishment, he might haply have succeeded in weathering
the storm. It is true that thus he would, in all likelihood have
precipitated rebellion, not only in Kûfa, but also in Bussorah and
Egypt. But, sooner or later, that was inevitable; and in the struggle,
he would now have had a strong support. For here the contention was
between the Coreish and the nobility of Islam on the one hand, and
the Arab tribes and city rabble on the other; and in this question the
leaders of martial renown would all have rallied round the throne. By
his pitiable weakness in yielding to the insurgents, Othmân not only
courted the contempt of all around him, but lost the opportunity of
placing the great controversy about to convulse the Moslem world, upon
its proper issue. It fell, instead, to the level of a quarrel obscured
by personal interests, and embittered by charges of tyranny and
nepotism against himself. The crisis was now inevitable. Men saw that
Othmân lacked the wisdom and the strength to meet it, and each looked
to his own concern. Seditious letters circulated freely everywhere; and
the claims began to be canvassed of successors to the irresolute and
narrow-minded Caliph, who, it was foreseen, could not long retain the
reins of empire in his grasp.

[Sidenote: Aly expostulates with Othmân.]

Thus, even at Medîna, sedition spread, and from thence messages reached
the provinces that the sword would soon be needed there at home, rather
than in foreign parts. So general was the contagion that but few are
named as having escaped it.[469] Moved by the leading citizens, Aly
repaired to Othmân and said:--‘The people bid me expostulate with thee.
Yet what can I say to thee--son-in-law as thou wast of the Prophet
and his bosom friend--that thou already knowest not as well as I? The
way lieth plain and wide before thee; but thine eyes are blinded that
thou canst not see it. If blood be once shed, it will not cease to
flow until the Day of Judgment. Right will be blotted out, and treason
rage like the foaming waves of the sea.’ Othmân complained, and not
without reason, of the unfriendly attitude assumed by Aly himself.
‘For my own part,’ he said, ‘I have done my best; and as for the men
ye speak of, did not Omar himself appoint Moghîra to Kûfa; and if Ibn
Aámir be my kinsman, is he any the worse for that?’ ‘No,’ replied Aly;
‘but Omar kept his lieutenants in order, and when they did wrong he
punished them; whereas thou treatest them softly, because they are thy
kinsmen.’[470] ‘And Muâvia, too,’ continued the Caliph; ‘it was Omar
who appointed him to Syria.’ ‘Yes,’ answered Aly; ‘but I swear that
even Omar’s slaves did not stand so much in awe of their master, as
did Muâvia. But now he doth whatever he pleaseth, and saith _It is
Othmân_. And thou, knowing it all, leavest him alone!’ So saying,
Aly turned and went his way.

[Sidenote: Othmân appeals to the people.]

As Aly’s message professed to come from the people, Othmân went
straightway to the pulpit and addressed the multitude then assembled
for prayer in the Great Mosque. He reproached them for giving vent
to their tongues and following evil leaders, whose object it was to
blacken his name, exaggerate his faults, and hide his virtues. ‘Ye
blame me,’ he said, ‘for things which ye bore cheerfully from Omar.
He trampled on you, beat you about with his whip, and abused you. And
yet ye took it all patiently from him, both in what ye liked and what
ye disliked. I have been gentle with you; bended my back unto you;
withheld my tongue from reviling, and my hand from smiting. And now
ye rise up against me!’ Then, after dwelling on the prosperity of his
reign at home and abroad, and the many benefits that had accrued to
them therefrom, he ended thus:--‘Wherefore, refrain, I beseech you,
from your abuse of me and of my governors, lest ye kindle the flames
of sedition and revolt throughout the empire.’ The appeal (we are
told) was marred by his cousin Merwân, who at its close exclaimed,
‘If ye will oppose the Caliph, we shall soon bring it to the issue of
the sword.’ ‘Be silent!’ cried Othmân, ‘and leave me with my fellows
alone. Did I not tell thee not to speak?’ So Merwân remained silent,
and Othmân descended from the pulpit. The harangue had no effect for
good. The discontent spread, and the gatherings against the Caliph

[Sidenote: Close of Othmân’s eleventh year.]

Thus ended the eleventh year of Othmân’s reign. Near the close of it
was held a memorable council, of which we shall read in the following
chapter. The Caliph performed the pilgrimage as usual. He had done so
every year. But this was to be his last.

                            CHAPTER XXXIII.

                         THE OUTLOOK DARKENS.

                     A.H. XXXIV.--XXXV. A.D. 655.

[Sidenote: Contumelious treatment of Othmân.]

The unhappy Caliph was now being hurried on, by the rapid course of
events, helplessly to his sad end. Abd al Rahmân, who, no doubt,
felt a large measure of responsibility from the share he took in the
nomination of Othmân, was about this time removed by death. But even he
was dissatisfied; and one of the first open denunciations of Othmân’s
unscrupulous disregard of law--small it might be, but significant--is
attributed to him. A fine camel, having come in with the tithes of a
Bedouin tribe, was presented by the Caliph, as a rarity, to one of
his kinsfolk. Abd al Rahmân, scandalised at the misappropriation of
religious property devoted to the poor, laid hands upon the animal,
slaughtered it, and divided the flesh among the people. The personal
reverence attaching heretofore to the ‘Successor of the Prophet of the
Lord,’ gave place to slight and disregard. Even in the streets, Othmân
was greeted with cries, demanding that he should depose Ibn Aámir and
the godless Abu Sarh, and put away from him Merwân, his chief adviser
and confidant. Nor had he any countenance or support whatever from the
people excepting his immediate kinsmen, and reliance upon them only
aggravated the clamour of the discontented.[472]

[Sidenote: Othmân sends forth messengers to inquire into the feeling in
the provinces.]

The conspirators canvassed in the dark. They had been hitherto
burrowing carefully under ground. But now their machinations every
here and there were coming to the light, and rumours of treason began
to float abroad. The better affected classes in the great cities felt
uneasy; alarm crept over all hearts. Letters were continually received
at Medîna, asking what these ominous sounds of warning meant, and
what catastrophe was at hand. The chief men of Medîna kept coming
to the Caliph’s court for tidings; but, notwithstanding the sullen
mutterings of nearing tempest, the surface yet was still. At last, by
their advice, Othmân despatched four trusty persons one to each of the
great centres, Damascus, Kûfa, Bussorah, and Fostât, with a commission
to watch and report whether any suspicious symptoms were transpiring
anywhere.[473] Three returned saying that they discovered nothing
unusual in the aspect of affairs. The fourth, Ammâr, was looked for
in vain; he had, in fact, been tampered with and gained over by the
Egyptian faction. Thereupon Othmân despatched a royal edict to all the
provinces as follows:--At the coming pilgrimage the various governors
would, according to custom, present themselves at court; whoever,
then, had cause of complaint against them, or any other ground of
dissatisfaction, should come forward on that occasion and substantiate
the same, when wrong would be redressed; or else it behoved them to
withdraw the baseless calumnies which were troubling men’s minds.
Proclamation was made accordingly. The plaintive appeal was understood;
and the people in many places when they heard it wept, and invoked
mercy on their Caliph.

[Sidenote: Conference of Governors at Medîna. A.H. XXXIV. A.D. 655.]

The governors repaired to Medîna at the time appointed, but no
malcontent came forward to make complaint. Questioned by Othmân, his
lieutenants knew not of any grievance, real and substantial. To the
outward eye, everything was calm; and even the royal messengers sent to
make inquisition had returned without laying hand on anything amiss.
But all knew of the cancerous sore in the body politic, and of its
spreading rapidly. The wretched Caliph invoked their pity and their
counsel. But they could offer nothing of which he might lay hold. One
advised that the conspirators should be arrested and the ringleaders
put to death; another that the stipends should be forfeited of all
disloyal men; a third that the unquiet spirits amongst the people
should be diverted by some fresh campaign; others that the governors
should amend their ways. Othmân was bewildered; one thing only he
declared, that to measures of severity he never would assent; the
single remedy he could approve was the sending of fresh expeditions to
foreign parts.[474]

[Sidenote: Othmân declines help from Muâvia.]

Nothing was settled to avert the crisis, and the governors departed as
they came. When Muâvia made ready to leave, he once more warned Othmân
of his danger, and entreated that he would retire with him to Syria,
where a loyal people were ready to rally round him. But the Caliph
answered: ‘Even to save my life I will not quit the land wherein the
Prophet sojourned, nor the city wherein his sacred person resteth.’
‘Then let me send an army to stand by thee.’ ‘Nay, that I will not,’
responded Othmân firmly; ‘I never will put force on those who dwell
around the Prophet’s home, by quartering bands of armed men upon them.’
‘In that case,’ replied Muâvia, ‘I see nought but destruction awaiting
thee.’ ‘Then the Lord be my defence,’ exclaimed the aged Caliph, ‘and
that sufficeth for me.’[475] ‘Fare thee well!’ said Muâvia, and he
departed, to see his face no more.

[Sidenote: Muâvia retires, warning the Coreish.]

As he took the road to Syria, Muâvia passed by a group of the Coreish,
amongst whom were Aly and Zobeir. He stayed for a moment to drop a
warning word into their ears. They were drifting back, he said, into
the anarchy of ‘the days of Ignorance’ before Islam. The Lord was a
strong Avenger of the weak and injured ones. ‘To you’--and these were
his last words--‘to you I commit this helpless aged man. Help him, and
it will be the better for you. Fare ye well.’ And so saying he passed
on his way. The company remained some time in silence. At last Aly
spoke: ‘It will be best done as he hath said.’ ‘By the Lord!’ added
Zobeir, ‘there never lay a burden heavier on thy breast, nor yet on
ours, than this burden of Othmân’s to-day.’

                            CHAPTER XXXIV.

                           DEATH OF OTHMAN.

                         A.H. XXXV. A.D. 656.

[Sidenote: Plot to surprise Medîna. End of A.H. XXXIV. Summer of A.D.

The plot was now rapidly coming to a head, and a plan of action had
been already fixed. While the lieutenants of the Caliph were absent
from their posts on the occasion just described, the conspirators
were to issue from Kûfa, Bussorah, and Fostât, so as to converge upon
Medîna in combined and menacing force. There, in answer to the Caliph’s
challenge, they would present an endless roll of complaints, and cry
loudly for redress, reform, and the removal of their governors. If the
request were denied, they would demand the abdication of Othmân, and,
in the last resort, enforce their demand at the point of the sword. But
as to a successor they were not agreed. Kûfa was for Zobeir; Bussorah
was for Talha; Egypt’s favourite was Aly.

[Sidenote: The conspirators set out for Medîna. Shawwâl, XXXV. April,
A.D. 656.]

The scheme, being immature, at first miscarried. But months later, in
the middle of the following year, it was revived and preparations made
in secret for giving it effect. Under the pretext of visiting Mecca,
and there performing the Lesser Pilgrimage, the concerted movement at
last took place, two or three months before the annual pilgrimage.[476]
Abu Sarh, the Governor of Egypt, on learning of the treasonable
design, at once despatched a messenger to apprise Othmân. In reply
he was ordered to pursue the rebels; he did so, but it was too late;
they had marched beyond his reach. On turning back, he found Egypt in
the hands of the traitor, son of Abu Hodzeifa,[477] and fleeing for
his life, took refuge across the border, in Palestine. Amongst the
insurgent leaders of Egypt was Mohammed, son of Abu Bekr.

[Sidenote: The insurgents encamp near Medîna; but retire.]

On receiving the intelligence that the insurgents were marching on
Medîna, Othmân ascended the pulpit of the Great Mosque and made known
to the citizens the real object of attack. ‘It is against myself,’
he said; ‘soon they will look back with a longing eye to this my
Caliphate, and wish that each day of the same had been a year in
length, because of the tumult and bloodshed, anarchy and ungodliness,
that will flood the land.’ The rebels were not long in making their
appearance, and they pitched three camps, the men of Kûfa, Bussorah,
and Egypt, each encamping separately, in the neighbourhood of
Medîna.[478] The citizens put on their armour, a thing unheard of
since the days of the Apostasy in the reign of Abu Bekr, and prepared
for resistance. The insurgents, foiled thus far, sent deputies to the
widows of Mahomet, and the chief men of the city. ‘We come,’ they said,
‘to visit the Prophet’s home and resting-place, and to ask that certain
of the governors be deposed. Give us leave to enter.’ But leave was
not granted. Then the insurgent bands despatched each a deputation
to its respective candidate. Aly stormed at the messengers sent to
him as soon as they appeared, and called them rebels accursed of the
Prophet; and the others met with no better reception at the hands of
Talha and Zobeir. Unable to gain over the citizens, without whose
consent their object was out of reach, the rebel leaders declared
themselves satisfied with a promise from the Caliph of reform, and,
breaking up their camp, retired in the order in which they came. They
made as if each company was taking its way home again, but really
with the concerted plan of returning shortly, when they expected to
find the city less prepared to resist.[479] The citizens cast aside
their armour, rejoicing in the apparent deliverance from a pressing
danger; and for some days things went on as before, Othmân leading
the prayers. Suddenly, the three bands reappeared at the city gates.
A party headed by Aly went forth to ask the reason. [Sidenote: They
return with document bearing the Caliph’s seal.]The strangers pointed
to a document attested by the Caliph’s seal; this, they said, had been
taken from a servant of Othmân’s whom they caught hastening on the road
to Egypt; and it contained orders that the insurgents were to be seized
and imprisoned, some tortured, and some put to death. Aly, suspecting
collusion, asked how the discovery made by the Egyptian company on the
road to Fostât had become so promptly known to the others marching in
quite a different direction, to Kûfa and Bussorah, as to bring them
all back together? ‘Speak of it as ye will,’ they said, ‘here is the
writing, and here the Caliph’s seal.’ Aly repaired to Othmân, who
denied all knowledge of the document; but, with the view of clearing
up the matter, consented to receive a deputation of the rebel leaders.
Introduced by Aly, they made no obeisance to the Caliph, but with
defiant attitude approached and recounted their grievances. [Sidenote:
Angry altercation with the Caliph.]They had retired with the promise
of redress; but, instead of redress, here was the Caliph’s own servant
whom they had caught posting onward to Egypt with the treacherous
document now produced. Othmân swore solemnly that he knew nothing
of it. ‘Then say who it was that wrote this order.’ ‘I know not,’
said the aged Caliph. ‘But it was passed off as thine; thy servant
carried it; see, here is thy seal, and yet thou wast not privy to it!’
Again Othmân affirmed that it was even so.[480] ‘Either thou speakest
truth,’ they cried in accents loud and rude, ‘or thou art a liar.
Either way, thou art unworthy of the Caliphate. We dare not leave the
sceptre in the hands of one who is either a knave or a fool too weak
to govern others. Resign, for the Lord hath deposed thee!’ Othmân made
answer:--‘The garment wherewith the Lord hath girded me I will in no
wise put off; but any evil ye complain of, that I am ready to put away
from me.’ It was all too late, they cried; he had often made, and as
often broken, the promise to amend; they could no longer put any trust
in him; now they would fight until he abdicated, or else was slain.
‘Death,’ said Othmân, gathering himself up, with the firmness and
dignity which marked his last days--‘Death I prefer; as for fighting,
I have said it already, my people shall not fight; had that been my
desire, I had summoned legions to my side.’ The altercation becoming
loud and violent, Aly arose and departed to his home. The conspirators
also retired to their fellows; but they had now secured what they
wanted, a footing in the city. They joined in the ranks of worshippers
at the daily prayers in the Great Mosque, cast dust in the face of
Othmân as he officiated, and threatened the citizens to make them keep
away. The fatal crisis was hurrying on.

[Sidenote: Tumult in the Mosque; Othmân struck down.]

On the Friday following this scene, when the prayers were done, Othmân
ascended the pulpit. He first appealed to the better sense of the
citizens, who (he knew), however cowed by the threats of the rebels,
condemned their lawless attitude. Then turning to the conspirators
themselves, who had been taking part in the service, he continued,
‘Ye are aware that the men of Medîna hold you to be accursed at the
mouth of the Prophet, for that ye have risen up against his Caliph
and Vicegerent. Wherefore wipe out now your evil deeds by repentance,
and by good deeds atone for the same.’ One and another of the loyal
citizens arose earnestly to confirm the Caliph’s words and plead his
cause; but they were silenced and violently set down.[481] A tumult
arose. The men of Medîna were driven from the Mosque and its court,
by showers of stones. One of these struck Othmân, who fell from the
pulpit to the ground, and was carried to his house adjoining in a
swoon. He soon recovered, and for some days was still able to preside
at the daily prayers. But at last the insolence and violence of the
insurgents, rising beyond bounds, forced him to keep to his house,
and a virtual blockade ensued. But a body-guard of armed retainers,
supported by certain of the citizens, succeeded for the present in
keeping the entrance safe.

[Sidenote: Attitude of Aly, Zobeir, and Talha.]

From the day of the first tumult, Aly, Zobeir, and Talha (the three
named by the rebels as candidates for the Caliphate) each sent a son to
join the loyal and gallant band planted at the palace door. But they
did little more; and, in fact, throughout the painful episode, they
kept themselves altogether in the background. After the uproar and
Othmân’s swoon, they came along with others to inquire how he fared.
But no sooner did they enter, than Merwân and other kinsmen tending
the Caliph, cried out against Aly as the prime author of the disaster,
which would recoil, they said (and said truly) upon his own head.
Thereupon Aly arose in wrath, and, with the rest, retired home. It was,
in truth, a cruel and dastardly desertion, and in the end bore bitter
fruit for one and all. It was not only a crime, but a fatal mistake.
Alarm at the defiant rising against constituted authority, and loyalty
to the throne, equally demanded bold and uncompromising measures. The
truth was outspoken by one of the Companions at the time. ‘Ye Coreish,’
he said, ‘there hath been till now a strong and fenced door betwixt you
and the Arabs; wherefore do ye now break down the same?’[482]

[Sidenote: Othmân closely besieged, holds parley with Aly, Zobeir, and

So soon as the conspirators had shown their true colours, Othmân
despatched an urgent summons to Syria and Bussorah for help. Muâvia,
who had long foreseen the dire necessity, was ready with a strong force
which, as well as a similar column sent by Ibn Aámir from Bussorah,
hurried to their master’s rescue. But the march was long, and the
difficulty was for Othmân to hold out until these columns reached. The
insurgents had entire possession of the Mosque and of the approaches to
the palace; and, in the height of insolence, their leader now took the
Caliph’s place at public prayers.[483] There were no troops at Medîna,
and Othmân was dependent on the little force that barely sufficed to
guard the palace entrance. It was composed of train-band slaves, some
eighteen near kinsmen, and other citizens including (as we have said)
the sons of Aly, Zobeir, and Talha. Apprehending, from the ferocity
with which the attack began now to be pressed, that the end might not
be far, Othmân sent to tell Aly, Zobeir, and Talha that he wished to
see them once more. They came and waited without the palace, but within
reach of hearing. The Caliph, from the flat roof of his house, bade
them to sit down; and so for the moment they all sat down, both foes
and friends, together. ‘My fellow citizens!’ cried Othmân with a loud
voice, ‘I have prayed to the Lord for you, that when I am taken, he may
set the Caliphate aright.’ After this, he made mention of his previous
life, and how the Lord had made choice of him to be the Successor of
his Prophet, and Commander of the Faithful. ‘And now,’ said he, ‘ye
have risen up to slay the Lord’s elect. Have a care, ye men! (and here
he addressed the besiegers); the taking of life is lawful but for
three things, Apostasy, Murder, and Adultery. Taking my life without
such cause, ye but suspend the sword over your own necks. Sedition and
bloodshed shall not depart for ever from your midst.’ They gave him
audience thus far, and then cried out that there was yet a fourth just
cause of death, namely the quenching of truth by iniquity, and of right
by violence; and that for his ungodliness and tyranny he must abdicate
or be slain. For a moment Othmân was silent. Then calmly rising, he
bade the citizens go back to their homes; and himself, with but faint
hopes of relief, turned to re-enter his dreary abode.[484]

[Sidenote: The blockade pressed. Sufferings from thirst.]

The blockade had now lasted several weeks, when a mounted messenger
reached the city with tidings that succour was on its way.[485] But
this, coming to the knowledge of the Caliph’s enemies, only made them
redouble their efforts. They now closed every approach, allowing
neither outlet nor ingress to a single soul. Water could be introduced
by stealth only at night, and, there being no well within the palace,
the little garrison suffered the extremities of thirst. On the appeal
of Othmân, Aly interposed, and expostulated with the besiegers. ‘They
were treating their Caliph,’ he told them, ‘more cruelly than they
would treat Greek or Persian captives in the field. Even Infidels did
not deny water to a thirsty enemy.’ But they were deaf to his entreaty.
Omm Habîba, the Prophet’s widow, and sister of Muâvia, touched with
pity, sought herself, with Aly’s aid, to carry water upon her mule
through the rebel lines into the palace; but neither her sex nor rank,
nor her relation to the Prophet, was safeguard enough to prevent her
being roughly handled. They cut her bridle with their swords, so
that she nearly fell to the ground, and then drove her rudely back.
The better part of the inhabitants were shocked at the violence and
inhumanity of the rebels; but none had the courage to oppose them.
Sick at heart, most kept to their houses; while others, alarmed for
themselves, as well as to avoid the cruel spectacle, quitted Medîna.
It is hard to believe that, even in the defenceless state of the city,
Aly, Zobeir, and Talha, the great heroes of Islam, could not, had they
really wished it, have raised an effective opposition to the lawless
work of these heartless regicides. History cannot acquit them, if not
of actual collusion with the insurgents, at least of cold-blooded
indifference to their Caliph’s fate.[486]

[Sidenote: Annual pilgrimage to Mecca. Dzul Hijj, A.H. XXXV. June, A.D.

The solemnities of the Káaba worship were now at hand, and Othmân,
still mindful of his obligation as head of Islam to provide for their
due observance, once more ascended the palace roof. From thence he
called the son of Abbâs, one of the faithful party guarding the
entrance, to come near, and bade him assume the leadership of the band
of pilgrims proceeding from Medîna;--a duty which, much against his
will, as taking him away from the defence, he undertook at the Caliph’s
repeated command. Ayesha joined the party. She is accused of having
formerly stirred up the people against Othmân. Now, at any rate, this
impulsive lady not only shook herself free from the insurgents, but,
in order to detach her brother Mohammed, son of Abu Bekr, also from
their company, she besought him to accompany her to Mecca. But he

[Sidenote: The palace stormed. 18 Dzul Hijj. June 17.]

The approach of relief at last goaded the rebels to extremities, and
they resolved on a final and murderous attack. A violent onset was
made from all quarters, and the forlorn band of defenders (including
still the sons of Aly, Zobeir, and Talha), unable longer to hold their
ground, retired at Othmân’s command, but not without difficulty,
within the palace gate, which they closed and barred. In doing this
they covered their retreat with a discharge of archery, and one of the
rebels was killed thereby. Infuriated at their comrade’s death, the
insurgents rushed at the gate, battered it with stones, and finding it
too strong, sat down to burn it. Meanwhile others, swarming in crowds
from the roof of an adjoining building, gained an easier access, and,
rushing along the corridor, attacked the guard still congregated within
the palace gate. One was slain, Merwân was left half dead, and the rest
were overpowered.[488] Othmân had retired by himself into an inner
chamber of the women’s apartments; and, seated there awaiting his fate,
read from the Corân, spread open on his knees. Three ruffians, sent
to fulfil the bloody work, rushed in one after another upon him thus
engaged. Awed by his calm demeanour, his pious words and mild appeal,
each one returned as he went. ‘It would be murder,’ they said, ‘to lay
hands upon him thus.’ Mohammed, son of Abu Bekr, in his hate and rage,
had no such scruples. He ran in, seized him by the beard, and cried,
‘The Lord abase thee, thou old dotard!’ ‘Let my beard go,’ said Othmân,
calmly; ‘I am no dotard, but the aged Caliph, whom they call Othmân.’
Then, in answer to a further torrent of abuse, the old man proceeded,
‘Son of my brother! Thy father would not have served me so. The Lord
help me! To Him I flee for refuge from thee.’ The appeal touched even
the unworthy son of Abu Bekr, and he too retired. [Sidenote: And Othmân
slain.]The insurgent leaders, on this, crowded in themselves, smote the
Caliph with their swords, and trampled on the Corân he had been reading
from. Severely wounded, he yet had strength enough to stretch forth his
aged arms, gather up the leaves, and press them to his bosom, while
the blood flowed forth upon the sacred text.[489] Thus attacked, the
faithful Nâila cast herself upon her wounded lord, and, endeavouring to
shield him, received a sword-cut which severed some of the fingers from
her hand, and they fell upon the ground. The band of slaves attempted
his defence. One of them slew Sudân, the leader, but was immediately
himself cut down and killed. Further effort was in vain. They plunged
their weapons into the Caliph’s body, and he fell lifeless to the
ground. The infuriated mob now had their way. A scene of riot followed.
They stabbed the corpse, and leaped savagely upon it; and they were
proceeding to cut off the head, when the women screamed, beating
their breasts and faces, and the savage crew desisted. The palace was
gutted; and even Nâila, all wounded and bloody, was stripped of her
veil. Just then the cry was raised, ‘To the Treasury!’ and suddenly all

[Sidenote: Burial of Othmân.]

As soon as they had left, the palace gate was barred, and thus for
three days the dead bodies of Othmân, Moghîra, and the slave, lay in
silence within. Then Zobeir ibn Motím, and Hakîm ibn Hizâm (Khadîja’s
nephew), chief men of the Coreish, obtained leave of Aly to bury the
Caliph’s body.[491] In the dusk of evening, the funeral procession,
including Zobeir, Hasan son of Aly, and the kinsmen of Othmân, wended
their way to the burying-ground of Backî, outside the city. Death had
not softened the rebels’ hearts, and they pelted the bier with stones.
Not in the graveyard itself, but in a field adjoining, the body, with
a hurried service, was committed to the dust. In after years the field
was added by Merwân to the main burying-ground--a spot consecrated by
the remains of the heroes of Ohod, and many names famous in the early
days of Islam; and there the Beni Omeyya long buried their dead around
the grave of their murdered kinsman.[492]

[Sidenote: His character.]

Thus, at the age of eighty-two, died Othmân, after a reign of twelve
years. The misfortunes amongst which he sank bring out so sharply the
failings of his character that further delineation is hardly needed.
Narrow, weak, and vacillating, he had yet a kindly nature which might
have made him, in less troublous times, a favourite of the people.
Such, indeed, for a season he was at the beginning of his Caliphate.
But afterwards he fell on evil days. The struggle between the Coreish
and the rest of the Arabs was hurrying on the nation to an internecine
war. The only possible safety was for the class still dominant to
have opposed a strong and united front to their adversaries. By his
vacillation, selfishness, and nepotism, Othmân broke up into embittered
factions the aristocracy of Mecca, and threw this last chance away.

                             CHAPTER XXXV.

                         THE ELECTION OF ALY.

                   End of A.H. XXXV. June, A.D. 656.

[Sidenote: Revulsion of feeling.]

On the Caliph’s death, his kinsfolk, and such as had taken an
active part in his defence, retired from the scene. The city was
horror-struck. They had hardly anticipated, and could now with
difficulty realise, the tragical end. Many who had favoured, and some
who had even joined, the rebels, started back, now that the deed was
done. The nearer relatives of the murdered Caliph fled to Mecca and
elsewhere, with vows of vengeance. A citizen of Medîna, wrapping
carefully up the severed fingers of Nâila in the blood-stained shirt of
Othmân--meet symbols of revenge--carried them off to Damascus and laid
them at Muâvia’s feet.

[Sidenote: Aly elected Caliph, 24 Dzul Hijj, A.H. XXXV. 23 June, A.D.

For several days anarchy reigned at the capital of Islam. There was
neither Caliph nor any settled government. The regicides had the
entire mastery of the city. Amongst them the Egyptians were foremost
in those first days of terror; and public prayers (mark of supreme
authority) were conducted in the Great Mosque by their leader. Of
the citizens, few ventured forth. At last, on the fifth day, the
rebels insisted that, before they quitted Medîna, the citizens should
exercise their right, elect a Caliph, and restore the empire to its
normal state. Shrinking, no doubt, from the seething elements which
Othmân’s successor would have at once to face, Aly at first held back,
and offered to swear allegiance to either Talha or Zobeir. But in the
end, pressed by the threats of the regicides and the entreaties of
his friends, he yielded, and so, six days after the fatal tragedy, he
publicly bound himself to rule ‘according to the Book of the Lord,’
and was saluted Caliph. Zobeir and Talha were themselves the first to
take the oath. They asserted afterwards that they swore unwillingly,
driven to do so through fear of the conspirators. The traditions here
are so divergent that it is hardly possible to say how far this was
true, or a mere afterthought.[493] Talha’s arm had been disabled by
the wound he received when defending Mahomet on the battle-field;
unhappy auguries were now drawn from his withered hand being the first
to strike the hand of Aly in taking the oath of fealty. The mass of
the people followed. There were exceptions; for Aly was lenient, and,
from a praise-worthy delicacy, would not press the immediate adherents
of the late Caliph to swear allegiance.[494] The insurgents, having
themselves done homage to Aly, took their leave and departed to tell
the tale at Kûfa, Bussorah, and Fostât.

[Sidenote: He declines to punish the regicides.]

No bed of roses was strewn for Aly. Both at home and abroad rough and
anxious work was before him. To the standing contention between the
Arabs and the Coreish was now added the cry, which was soon to rend
Islam, of vengeance on the regicides. Further, the red-handed treason
enacted at Medîna had loosened the bonds of society. Constituted
authority was set at naught. Bands of Bedouins, scenting from afar the
approach of anarchy and the chance of plunder, hung about the city.
They were bidden to depart; but encouraged by the servile population,
which, broken loose during the insurrection, still kept aloof from
their masters, they refused.[495] Aly was pressed on many sides, by
those who held him bound by his accession-oath, to vindicate the
majesty of the Divine law, and to punish the wicked men who had imbrued
their hands in the blood of Othmân. Even Talha and Zobeir, awakening
too late to the portentous nature of the crime enacted before their
eyes and hardly against their will, urged this. ‘My brothers,’ replied
Aly, ‘I am not indifferent to what ye say. But I am helpless. These
wild Bedouins and rampant slaves will have their way. What is this but
an outburst of Paganism long suppressed--a return, for the moment, of
“the days of Ignorance,” a work of Satan? Just now they are beyond
my power. Let us wait; and the Lord will guide us.’ This waiting,
hesitating mood was the bane of Aly’s life. He loved ease; and though
sometimes obstinate and self-willed, his ordinary principle was that
things left to themselves would mend.

[Sidenote: The Coreish alarmed.]

The Coreish were anxious and alarmed. The revolt, under the veil of
discontent at the ungodly rule of Othmân, was now (they said) taking a
far wider range. The Bedouins were becoming impatient of the control
of the Coreishite aristocracy; and that which had happened to the Beni
Omeyya--now forced to fly Medîna--might happen at any moment to the
whole body of the Coreish. Yet Aly, though professing to denounce the
attack of the regicides as high treason, took no steps to punish it,
but temporised. A prompt and vigorous pursuit of the traitors would no
doubt have been joined in, heart and soul, by Muâvia and by the whole
nobility of Islam. But Aly preferred to let the vessel drift, and so it
was drawn rapidly into the vortex of rebellion.

[Sidenote: Aly seeks to supersede Muâvia in Syria.]

The next matter which pressed for immediate settlement was the
confirmation, or otherwise the supersession, of the various governors
of provinces and cities; and here Aly, turning a deaf ear to his
friends, proved himself wayward and precipitate. When Ibn Abbâs
returned from the pilgrimage at Mecca (to the presidency at which he
had been deputed by the late Caliph), he found that Moghîra had been
wisely urging Aly to retain the governors generally in their posts,
till, at the least, the people throughout the empire had recognised his
succession to the throne. But Aly had flatly refused.[496] Ibn Abbâs
now pressed the same view: ‘At any rate,’ he said, ‘retain Muâvia;
there is a special reason for it; Omar, and not Othmân, placed him
there; and all Syria followeth after him.’ The advice, coming from so
near and distinguished a kinsman of his own, deserved the consideration
of Aly. But he answered sharply, ‘Nay; I shall not confirm him even for
a single day.’ ‘If thou depose him,’ reasoned his friend, ‘the Syrians
will question thine election: and, worse, they may accuse thee of the
blood of Othmân, and, as one man, rise up against thee. Confirm him in
his government, and they care not who is Caliph. When thou art firmly
seated, depose him if thou wilt. It will be easy with thee then.’
‘Never,’ answered Aly, ‘he shall have nought but the sword from me.’
‘Thou art brave,’ Ibn Abbâs replied, ‘but innocent of the craft of war;
and hath not the Prophet himself said, _What is war but a game of
deception?_’[497] ‘That is true,’ responded Aly, ‘but I will have
none of the aid that cometh from Muâvia.’ ‘Then,’ said Ibn Abbâs, ‘thou
hadst better depart to thy property at Yenbó, and close the gates of
thy stronghold behind thee; for everywhere the Bedouins are hounding
along; and if thou makest the rest of the people thine enemies, these
will find thee alone, and will surely lay the blood of Othmân at thy
door.’ ‘Come,’ said Aly, trying another line, ‘thou shalt go forth
thyself to Syria. See, now, I have appointed thee.’ ‘That,’ replied Ibn
Abbâs, ‘can never be. Muâvia would surely behead me or cast me into
prison because of Othmân’s death, and my being akin to thee. Hearken to
me, and make terms with him ere it be too late.’ But Aly turned a deaf
ear to his appeal.[498]

[Sidenote: Aly appoints new governors throughout the empire. Moharram,
A.H. XXXVI. July, A.D. 656.]

Acting on these wayward impulses, Aly sent men of his own to replace
the existing governors in the chief commands throughout the empire.
In most places they met with but a sorry reception. At Bussorah, Ibn
Aámir, unwilling to provoke hostilities, retired, and his successor,
Othmân ibn Honeif, entered unopposed; but the faction which clung to
the memory of the late Caliph was as strong at Bussorah as that which
favoured Aly, while a third party waited to see how the tide of public
opinion might run at Medîna. In Egypt it was much the same. Cays,
appointed to the command, was a singularly wise and able ruler; but he
only succeeded in passing the frontier garrison by feigning attachment
to the cause of Othmân; while a strong and aggressive faction occupied
the district of Kharanba, swearing that they would not submit until the
regicides were brought to justice. In Yemen, the new governor obtained
possession, but only after Yála, his predecessor, had carried off to
Mecca all the treasure. The governors-elect of Aly who attempted to
enter Kûfa and the province of Syria, met with a rough reception on the
border, and were fortunate in escaping with their lives back again to

[Sidenote: Aly sends letters to Muâvia and Abu Mûsa.]

Dispirited by these reports, Aly again took counsel with Talha and
Zobeir. The sedition, he said, which he had apprehended, was already
kindled, and would spread like wildfire, catching whatever came in its
way. ‘Then,’ replied they, ‘let us depart, that we may do thee service
in the field.’ ‘Wait,’ answered Aly; ‘the cautery must be the last
resort.’ So he resolved, in the first instance, to address letters
to Muâvia, and also to Abu Mûsa at Kûfa, demanding their allegiance.
Abu Mûsa replied in loyal terms, but at the same time bade the Caliph
beware of the spirit of disaffection which in Kûfa was rife around
him. With Syria, all communication was cut off; weeks elapsed, and
there was no reply. In truth, a strange scene was being enacted there.

[Sidenote: Emblems of vengeance suspended on the pulpit at Damascus.]

Muâvia had no sooner received the emblems of his Master’s murder--the
gory shirt and Nâila’s mangled fingers--than he hung them up on the
pulpit of the Great Mosque at Damascus. There suspended, they remained
a spectacle maddening the Syrians to a bloody revenge.[499] Still they
took no immediate action. Biding their time, they waited to see what
the new Caliph might do. Aly, had he been wise, would have used such
allies to take vengeance at once on the conspirators, and at the same
time crush the rising democracy and disaffection of the Arab tribes.
In this work Syria would have been his strongest stand-by; for it
never suffered from the Bedouin turbulence which kept Irâc and Egypt
in continual turmoil. In the early campaigns, Syria was the favourite
field of the Coreish, who, settling there in larger proportion than
elsewhere, found their influence, in consequence, better recognised.
Moreover, the conquering race inhabited the ancient Syrian cities
in common with the Christian population, which had surrendered, for
the most part, on favourable terms. Society was thus throughout all
classes of the community orderly and loyal, whereas on the banks of
the Euphrates the settlements of Bussorah and Kûfa were filled with
wild and headstrong Arab tribes who regarded the vanquished lands as
their patrimony. Law prevailed in Syria; in Irâc and Egypt, the pride
and petulance of arms. Syria was, moreover, attached to its Coreishite
governors of the Omeyyad stock, and remained thus faithful to the end.

The Syrians had not long to wait for the outcome of Aly’s plans. The
abortive attempt to supersede Muâvia, and the refusal to arraign the
regicides, gave colour to the charge of collusion; and, with the bloody
shirt before their eyes, the Syrians soon raised that cry against the
Caliph. [Sidenote: Muâvia sends defiant answer to Aly’s letter, Safar,
A.H. XXXVI. August, A.D. 656.] The majesty of outraged law must be
vindicated; and if the assassins were not pursued to justice, then
who but Aly was responsible for the failure? Damascus was in this
excited temper when Aly’s letter was handed to Muâvia. At the first no
answer was vouchsafed. The envoy was kept in waiting from day to day
to witness the gathering storm. At last Muâvia sent a despatch; and
a stranger document, perhaps, was never seen. It bore, as was usual,
the seal of state outside upon the cover, which was superscribed with
this address--_From Muâvia to Aly._ It contained no other word, but
was all blank within. The despatch was carried by Cabîsa, a chief of
the Beni Abs, and with him the envoy was given permission to depart.
Arriving at Medîna just three months after Othmân’s death, Cabîsa
presented the letter to Aly, who read the address, and, breaking
open the seal, found the despatch all blank within. ‘What meaneth
this?’ cried Aly, starting at the unwonted sight;--‘let the enigma be
explained.’ Cabîsa, instructed by his Master, inquired whether his life
was safe. ‘It is safe,’ answered Aly; ‘the person of an ambassador is
sacred. Speak on.’ ‘Know then,’ proceeded the envoy, ‘that but now I
left behind me, weeping under the blood-stained shirt of Othmân, by
the pulpit of the Great Mosque at Damascus, sixty thousand warriors,
all bent on revenging the Caliph’s death--and revenging it on thee!’
‘What!’ exclaimed Aly, aghast, ‘_on me_! Seest thou not that I am
powerless to pursue the murderers? Oh, Lord! I take Thee to witness
that I am guiltless of Othmân’s blood. Begone! See, thy life is safe.’
As the Absite chief withdrew, the petulant slaves and rabble shouted
after him, ‘Slay the dog; slay the envoy of dogs!’ He turned, and,
apostrophising the Coreish, cried at the pitch of his voice, ‘Children
of Modhar! Children of Cays! The horse and the bow! Four thousand
picked warriors are close at hand. See to your camels and your horses!’

[Sidenote: Aly resolves to attack Muâvia and invade Syria.]

Medîna was startled by the envoy’s cry, only as Mecca had been startled
by the voice of Dham-dham at the battle of Bedr, four-and-thirty years
before. The time was come when Aly could no longer put his decision
off. Hasan, ever poor in spirit, counselled his father to wait; but Aly
saw too plainly that the hour for action was now or never. He gave vent
to his troubled soul in martial lines which were soon in everyone’s
mouth, and from which the people first learned his resolve to make the
sword the arbiter betwixt Muâvia and himself. An expedition against
Syria was proclaimed. Captains were appointed to command the various
companies of the expected levies, and banners were presented to them by
Aly; but he was careful to name no one who had taken any part in the
attack on Othmân.[500] Orders were also sent to Kûfa, Bussorah, and
Egypt, to raise troops for the war. Having made these preparations, Aly
mounted the pulpit and harangued the citizens of Medîna. If they failed
to fight now, he told them, the power would pass away from them, never
more to be regained. ‘Fight, then, against the cursed schismatics, who
would destroy the unity of Islam and rend in twain the body of the
Faithful. Haply the Lord will set that right which the nations of the
earth are setting wrong.’ But the people did not respond to the appeal,
and the ranks were slow of filling.

[Sidenote: Talha and Zobeir depart to Mecca.]

Talha and Zobeir, when they saw how affairs were drifting, again asked
that they might be allowed to quit Medîna. With Aly’s leave, they now
set out for Mecca, on pretext of performing the Lesser Pilgrimage.

                            CHAPTER XXXVI.

                        REBELLION AT BUSSORAH.

                         A.H. XXXVI. A.D. 656.

[Sidenote: Work nearer home.]

But, before crossing arms with Muâvia, heavy work was still in store
for Aly.

[Sidenote: Ayesha retires to Mecca.]

On her way back from the pilgrimage at Mecca, Ayesha was met by the
tidings of Othmân’s murder and of Aly’s accession to the Caliphate.
‘Carry me back,’ forthwith cried the incensed and impetuous lady;
‘carry me back to Mecca. They have murdered the Caliph. I will avenge
his blood.’

[Sidenote: And propagates sedition there.]

In the early period of Othmân’s troubles, Ayesha, like the rest of the
world, is said to have contributed her share towards fomenting public
discontent. We are told that she even abetted the conspirators, among
whom (as we have seen) her brother Mohammed son of Abu Bekr was a chief
leader. But however this may have been, she certainly was no party to
the factious proceedings so soon as they began to be pressed to cruel
extremities; and she had, in fact, sought to detach her brother from
them by carrying him off with her to Mecca. Vain and factious, she
had never forgiven the cold and unhandsome conduct towards her of Aly
when, on the occasion of the misadventure with Safwân, her virtue had
been doubted by the Prophet;[501] and now she would gladly have seen
Zobeir Caliph in the place of Aly. Instead, therefore, of proceeding
onwards to her home at Medîna, she returned straightway to Mecca. There
the disaffected (who ever gravitated for safety to the Sanctuary)
gathered around her, while from her veiled retreat she plotted the
revenge of Othmân, and with shrill voice loudly harangued her audience
on the enormous crime that had desecrated the Prophet’s home and

[Sidenote: Zobeir and Talha, with Ayesha, march on Bussorah, Rabi II.
A.H. XXXVI. A.D. 656.]

Thus when Zobeir and Talha reached Mecca, they found sedition well in
the ascendant. The numerous members of the Omeyyad family, who had
fled on the Caliph’s death from Medîna, and the adherents of that
powerful House still residing at Mecca, as well as the factious and
discontented population at large, listened eagerly to the tale of their
distinguished visitors. ‘They had left the men of Medîna,’ they said,
‘plunged in perplexity. Right and wrong had been so confounded that
the people knew not which way to go. It was therefore for the citizens
of Mecca now to lead, and to punish the traitors who had slain their
Caliph.’ The standard of rebellion was raised, and many flocked to join
it. Bussorah was chosen as the first object of attack. It was a city
which had always favoured the claims of Talha; and Ibn Aámir, the late
governor, had an influential following there. The treasure which he had
brought away with him, as well as that carried off by Alâ from Yemen,
was now expended in equipping the force, and providing carriage for
the more needy followers. Ayesha, spurning the restraints of her sex,
prepared to join the campaign and to stir up the people of Bussorah, as
she had stirred up those of Mecca. Haphsa, daughter of Omar, another
of ‘the Mothers of the Faithful,’ was with difficulty restrained by
her brother (who had just fled from Medîna, and held aloof from either
side) from accompanying her sister-widow. At length, some four months
after Othmân’s death, the rebel army set out 3,000 strong, of whom a
thousand were men of Mecca and Medîna. Ayesha travelled in her litter
on a camel, which was destined to give its name to the first engagement
in the civil war.[503] The other widows of Mahomet residing at Mecca
accompanied her a little way, and then returned. As they parted,
the whole company, men and women, gave vent to their feelings, and
wept bitterly at the louring fortunes of Islam; ‘there was no such
weeping, before or after, as then; so that it was called _The Day of

[Sidenote: Ambition mingled with cry for revenge.]

Questions even now began to arise as to which of the two, Talha or
Zobeir, would in event of victory be the Caliph; but Ayesha, staying
the strife, as premature, desired that Abdallah son of Zobeir should
lead the prayers; and it was given out that, if success should crown
their efforts, the choice of the future Caliph would be left, as
heretofore, in the hands of the men of Medîna.[505] Saîd, with a body
of the rebel troops, distrusting the motives of the leaders, turned
aside at the last moment, and went back to Mecca. As the cavalcade
swept by him, shouting that they were on their way to destroy the
murderers of Othmân root and branch, Saîd cried out to Merwân: ‘Whither
away? the proper objects of your vengeance are on the humps of their
camels before your eyes.[506] Slay these, and return to your homes!’ It
is not improbable that with many of the party, and notably with Talha
and Zobeir, ambition, the ruling motive, was mistaken for the desire
of a just revenge. In the whirl of passion and intrigue, party-cry
too often takes the place of reason; and we need not doubt that both
leaders and followers had wrought themselves up into the belief that
punishment of the high treason enacted at Medîna was their real object.

[Sidenote: Ayesha’s qualms of conscience.]

Yet, notwithstanding all this parade of justice, the conscience
of Ayesha was ill at ease. As they journeyed through the desert,
her camel-driver beguiled the tedium of the long autumn nights
by calling out the names of the hills and vales along which they
passed. Approaching a Bedouin settlement the dogs as usual began to
howl;--‘_The Valley of_ HAWÂB!’ cried the guide. Ayesha started and
screamed. Something dreadful which Mahomet had spoken, about those
at whom the dogs of Hawâb should bark, flashed across her memory or
imagination. ‘Carry me back,’ she cried; and, making her camel kneel,
she hastily alighted from her litter. ‘Alas and alas!’ she continued,
‘for I heard the Prophet say, reproaching us, as he sat surrounded by
his wives one day: “_O that I knew which amongst you it is at whom
the dogs of Hawâb will bark!_” It is me! I am the wretched Woman of
Hawâb. I declare that I will not take another step on this ill-omened
expedition.’ They sought to persuade her that the guide had mistaken
the name; but she refused to stir, and the army halted for her a whole
day. In despair, they bethought them of a stratagem. The following
night, they raised the cry that Aly was upon them. The greater terror
prevailing, Ayesha hastened to her camel, and the march was resumed.

[Sidenote: Aly fails to intercept the rebels.]

The alarm, feigned for the purpose, was not, however, altogether
groundless. When rumours of the defection first reached Medîna, Aly
declared that he would not move against malcontents at Mecca, so long
as no overt act of rebellion threatened the unity of Islam. But shortly
after, a message arrived from the widow of Abbâs[507] at Mecca, with
news of the design against Bussorah. At the first, Aly was disposed to
congratulate himself that the conspirators had not made Kûfa, with its
greater Bedouin population, their object. The son of Abbâs, however,
pointed out that Bussorah was really the more dangerous of the two,
because fewer of the leading chiefs were there, able as at Kûfa, if
they chose, to curb the people and repress rebellion. Aly admitted
the truth of this; and, now thoroughly alarmed, gave orders that the
Syrian column should march instead to Nejd, hoping thereby to intercept
the rebels on their way to Bussorah. But the people still hung back.
Finding that Abdallah son of Omar had disappeared, Aly, in alarm
lest he too should have gone to join the rebels, sent scouts in all
directions after him. Meanwhile his own daughter, Omm Kolthûm, widow
of Omar, sent to assure her father that Abdallah had really gone on
pilgrimage to Mecca, and was altogether neutral; whereupon Aly, ashamed
of his apprehensions, recalled the scouts.[508] At last a column of
900 men was got together, at the head of which Aly himself marched to
Nejd.[509] But, although they used all expedition on the road, they
found on reaching Rabadza that the insurgents had already passed. Not
being equipped for further advance, Aly halted at Dzu Câr. Messengers
were sent to Kûfa, Egypt, and elsewhere, demanding reinforcements; and
for these the Caliph waited, in his camp, before he ventured forwards.

[Sidenote: The rebels attack Bussorah.]

To return to Ayesha. The insurgent army, having resumed its march,
reached Bussorah, and encamped close by. Messages were exchanged, and
immediately on Ibn Honeif, the governor, becoming aware that the cry
of vengeance on the regicides covered designs against his Master, he
called together an assembly to try the temper of the people. Finding
from the uproar that the strangers had a strong party in the city,
he put on his armour, and, followed by the larger portion of the
citizens, went forth to meet Ayesha, who, on her side, was joined
from the town by the insurgent faction. A parley ensued. Talha, the
favourite at Bussorah, Zobeir, and even Ayesha, with her shrill and
powerful voice, declaimed against the murderers of Othmân, and demanded
justice. The other side were equally loud in their protestations
against the expedition. It was a shame, they said, and a slight on
the memory of the Prophet, for Ayesha to forego the sanctity of the
Veil, and the proprieties of ‘the Motherhood of the Faithful.’ Aly had
been duly elected, and saluted Caliph; and now Talha and Zobeir were
treacherously violating the allegiance which they had been the first to
swear. These both protested that the oath had been forced upon them.
On this point the controversy turned; and from words they fell to
blows. Night interposed; but fighting was resumed the following day,
and with so serious a loss to the loyalists that a truce was called,
and an agreement come to, on the understanding that the facts should
be ascertained from Medîna. [Sidenote: Reference to Medîna on question
of compulsion.]If it were shown that force had been put upon the two
leaders to take the oath, then Ibn Honeif would retire leave the city
in their hands. An envoy accredited by either side was accordingly
deputed to Medîna. He arrived while Aly was absent in his camp, and
forthwith proclaimed the commission he was charged with, before the
assembled city. The people at first were silent. At last Osâma ibn
Zeid, a Companion of the highest rank,[510] declared that both Talha
and Zobeir had done homage under compulsion, whereupon a great tumult
arose; and the envoy, having seen and heard enough to prove diversity
of opinion on the subject, took his leave.

[Sidenote: Fighting at Bussorah. City occupied by Zobeir and Talha.]

When tidings of these things reached Aly, who was with his army in
Nejd, he addressed a letter to Ibn Honeif: ‘There was no compulsion,’
he wrote; ‘neither of these my adversaries was constrained otherwise
than by the will of the majority. By the Lord! if their object be to
make me abdicate, hey are without excuse; if it be any other thing,
I am ready to consider it.’ So when the envoy returned, and upon
his report the insurgents called on Ibn Honeif to evacuate the city
according to agreement, he produced the Caliph’s letter, and refused.
But the rebels had already obtained the footing they desired within
the city. Arming themselves, they repaired to the Mosque for evening
service, and, the night being dark and stormy, were not perceived until
they had overpowered the body-guard, entered the adjoining palace, and
made Ibn Honeif a prisoner. On the following day, a severe conflict
raged throughout the city, which ended in the complete discomfiture
with heavy loss of Aly’s party, and so the government passed into the
hands of Talha and Zobeir. True to their ostensible object, these now
made proclamation that every citizen who had engaged in the attack on
Othmân should be brought forth and executed. The order was carried
rigorously out, and great numbers were put to death.[511] The life of
Ibn Honeif was, after some hesitation, spared. He was set at liberty,
his head and beard shaven, and his eyelashes and moustaches clipped;
and in this sorry plight the ousted governor made the best of his way
to Aly.

[Sidenote: Ayesha’s messages to Kûfa, &c.]

The insurgents communicated tidings of their success to Syria. And
Ayesha wrote letters to Kûfa, Medîna, and Yemen, seeking to detach the
people from their allegiance to Aly, and stir them up to avenge the
death of Othmân.

[Sidenote: Apathy of Bussorah towards Talha and Zobeir.]

Meanwhile the citizens of Bussorah swore allegiance to Talha and Zobeir
conjointly. To avoid all appearance of rivalry, the public prayers
were conducted alternately by a son of each. Little active sympathy
was evoked by the usurpers. Talha proclaimed an expedition to proceed
against Aly. But no one responded to the call, and his spirit fell.
Thus some weeks passed uneasily, till the city was aroused by the
announcement that Aly with a great army was in full march upon it.

                            CHAPTER XXXVII.

                         BATTLE OF THE CAMEL.

              JUMAD II., A.H. XXXVI. DECEMBER, A.D. 656.

[Sidenote: Aly, strengthened by contingent from Kûfa, advances on
Bussorah, Jumâd II. A.H. XXXVI. Nov. A.D. 656.]

Finding that the insurgent troops, with Ayesha, Zobeir, and Talha,
had already passed, Aly, as we have seen, halted for a while at Dzu
Câr in Nejd, with the view of strengthening his army; for, although
joined on his march by the Beni Tay and some other loyal tribes, he
still felt too weak for an offensive step. To Kûfa he addressed a
special summons, inhabited as it was by many veteran Companions on
whose loyalty to the Caliphate he might reasonably depend; and he added
force to the call by holding out the prospect that their city should
be the seat of his government. ‘See,’ he wrote to them, ‘have I not
chosen Kûfa before all the cities for mine own? Unto you do I look, in
these hard times, for succour, if haply peace and unity again prevail
as it behoveth among brethren in the Faith.’ But the summons was at
the first unheeded. The overgrown city was made up of many factions;
and from some of these the message of Ayesha, demanding revenge for
Othmân’s blood, had already found response. Abu Mûsa was altogether
unequal to the emergency. Loyal to the memory of the murdered Caliph,
he yet sought to allay the ferment by a neutral course, and urged the
citizens to join neither party, but remain at home. A second deputation
meeting with no better success, the Caliph bethought him of sending his
eldest son, in company with Ammâr, the former Governor of Kûfa, to urge
his cause. The personal appeal of Hasan, the grandson of the Prophet
(albeit a spiritless creature devoted only to his harem), had the
desired effect.[512] The chord of loyalty in the fickle city’s heart
was touched; a tumult arose, and Abu Mûsa, unable to maintain his weak
neutrality, was deposed. The Arab tribes rallied, and for the moment
heartily, around such noted leaders as Cacâa, and Adî the son of Hâtim.
And soon ten thousand men, partly by land, partly embarking on the
river, set out to join the Caliph, who, advancing slowly from Dzu Câr,
awaited their arrival. Thus reinforced, Aly was able to take the field
effectively, and to march on the rebellious city with an imposing force.

[Sidenote: Aly opens negotiations with Talha and Zobeir.]

Bussorah itself was not wholly hostile. A considerable portion of the
Beni Bekr and Abd al Cays went forth and joined the camp of Aly. The
Beni Temîm, another tribe inhabiting the city, perplexed by conflicting
obligations, stood aloof, and encamped, under their leader Ahnaf,
within a few miles of the city, watched what the result might be.
Still the numbers bound to the insurgent cause nearly equalled the
Caliph’s army; and on its approach they marched forth with Talha and
Zobeir at their head, and Ayesha in a well-fenced litter on her camel.
But Aly’s thoughts were for peace, if it were possible. He was a man
of compromise; and here he was ready, in the interests of Islam,
magnanimously to forget the insult offered to his throne. Apart,
indeed, from personal jealousies, there was no disagreement sufficient
to bar the hope of reconciliation. The cry of Talha and Zobeir was for
vengeance against the murderers of Othmân. As yet, Aly did not deny
that justice should be dealt out against them. But he was obliged to
temporise. He had in his army great numbers of these very men, and he
felt that to inflict punishment on them, as his adversaries required,
would be, for the present at least, impossible. Holding these views,
he halted while still some little way from Bussorah, and sent forward
Cacâa to expostulate with Talha and Zobeir. ‘Ye have slain six hundred
men of Bussorah,’ said Cacâa to them, ‘for the blood of Othmân; and lo!
to avenge _their_ blood, six thousand more have started up. Where
in this internecine work are ye to stop? It is peace and repose that
Islam needeth. Give that, and again the majesty of law shall be set up,
and the guilty brought to justice.’ As he spoke, the truth flashed on
the minds of Zobeir and Talha, and even of Ayesha; and they returned
word that if these really were the sentiments of Aly, they were ready
to submit. After several days were spent in such negotiations, Aly,
rejoicing at the prospect of a bloodless compromise, advanced.

[Sidenote: Tactics of the regicide.]

But as we have seen, Aly’s army, recruited at random from the Bedouin
settlements, comprised a great number of notorious regicides. Afraid
of bringing these into contact with the heated army of his opponents,
which was still breathing out fire and slaughter against them, Aly
gave command that none who had shared in the attack on Othmân should
for the present accompany him in his advance.[513] These in their
turn, with Ashtar and Ibn Sawda at their head, became alarmed. Talha’s
adherents, sworn to their destruction, were double their number. If
peace, then, were patched up, as was now proposed, what were they
all but doomed men? Reasoning thus, they held a secret conclave, and
came to the conclusion that their only safety lay in precipitating
hostilities, and thus forcing Aly’s hand to crush their enemies.
Accordingly, when the Caliph marched, they remained behind, but with
the resolve that, when the right moment came, they would advance and
throw themselves upon the enemy.

[Sidenote: Continued peaceful negotiations.]

The army of Bussorah, numbering from twenty to thirty thousand men,
remained encamped on the outskirts of the city. Aly’s force, advancing
unopposed, halted within sight of them. The citizens, as well as Talha
and Zobeir, sent deputations to the Caliph; and negotiations for peace
went on, evidently of a sincere and substantial character. Aly himself
approached on horseback, and Talha with Zobeir rode forth to confer
with him. ‘Wherefore came ye out?’ asked Aly; ‘did ye not swear homage
to me?’ ‘Yea,’ replied Talha, ‘but with the sword over our necks; and
now our demand is that justice be executed against the regicides.’
Thereupon Aly said that he too held them guilty; and in no measured
terms exclaimed, ‘The Lord blast the murderers of Othmân!’ But they
must bide their time. Zobeir on his side was softened by a passage from
some conversation of the Prophet recalled by Aly to his mind; and he
bound himself by an oath that he would not fight.[514] Then they all
retired. And both armies, understanding that pacific negotiations were
in progress between their leaders, went to rest that night in such
security as they had not felt for many weeks.

[Sidenote: Armies both surprised by regicides.]

But the spell was rudely broken. Towards morning, a sudden shock
changed the scene. The regicides, finding that the time for action
was fully come, had, during the night, carried their design into
execution. Squadron upon squadron of Bedouin lances bore down, while
it was yet dark, upon the Bussorah tents, and in a moment all was
confusion. Each camp believed that it was being treacherously attacked
by the other; and the dawn found both armies drawn up, just as the
conspirators desired, in mortal combat one against the other. In vain
Aly, perceiving the cause, endeavoured to hold back his men. The sense
of treachery embittered the conflict. It was a strange engagement,
and the first occasion on which Moslems crossed swords with Moslems.
It resembled one of the deadly battles of old Arab times, only that
for tribal rivalry were now substituted other passions. The clans
were broken up, and it became rather a contest between the two rival
settlements: ‘The Beni Rabia of Kûfa fought against the Beni Rabia
of Bussorah, the Beni Modhar of the one against the Beni Modhar of
the other;’ and so on, we are told, with the various tribes of the
Peninsula, and even with families, one part arrayed against the other.
The Kûfa ranks were urged on by the regicides, who felt that, unless
Aly conquered, they were altogether lost. The field was contested with
an obstinacy and sanguinary issue which can be only thus accounted for.
An eye-witness tells us that ‘when the opposing sides came breast to
breast, it was with a furious shock, the noise whereof was like that of
washermen at the ghaut.’[515] The attitude of the leaders was in marked
contrast with the bitter struggle of the ranks. Zobeir, half-hearted
since his interview with Aly, had left the battle-field according to
his promise, and was killed in an adjoining valley by a soldier of
Ahnaf’s neutral company. [Sidenote: Zobeir and Talha killed.]Talha,
disabled by an arrow in the leg, was carried into Bussorah, where he
died. Bereft of their leaders, the insurgent troops gave way. They
were falling back upon the city, when they passed by the camel of
Ayesha, stationed in the rear. Attacked fiercely all round, she was
screaming unceasingly, with fruitless energy, from within her litter,
the old cry, ‘Slay the murderers of Othmân.’ The word ran through the
retiring ranks, that ‘the Mother of the Faithful was in peril,’ and
they gallantly stayed their flight to rescue her. Long and cruelly
the renewed conflict raged around the fated camel. One after another,
brave warriors rushed to seize the standard by its side, and one after
another they were cut down. Of the Coreish, seventy perished by the
bridle. At last, Aly, perceiving that the camel was the rallying point
of his enemy, sent one of his captains to hamstring and disable it.
With a loud scream, the animal fell to the ground.[516] [Sidenote: The
insurgents defeated. Ayesha escapes unhurt.]The struggle ceased and the
insurgents retired into the city. The litter, bristling all round with
arrows like a hedgehog, was taken down, and, by desire of Aly, placed
in a retired spot, where Ayesha’s brother, Mohammed, pitched a tent
for her. As he drew aside the curtain of the litter, she screamed at
the unknown intrusion;--‘Are thine own people, then,’ he said, ‘become
strange unto thee?’ ‘It is my brother!’ she exclaimed, and suffered
herself to be led into the tent. The brave but wayward lady had escaped
without a wound.

[Sidenote: Losses in the battle.]

The carnage in this ill-starred battle was very great. The field was
covered with ten thousand bodies in equal proportion from either
side;[517] and this, notwithstanding that there was no pursuit. For Aly
had given stringent orders that no fugitive should be followed, nor
any wounded soldier slain, nor plunder seized, nor the privacy of any
house invaded. A great trench was dug, and in it the dead were buried,
friends and foes together. Aly, who encamped for three days without the
city, himself performed the funeral service. It was a new experience
to bury the dead slain in battle not against the infidel, but believer
fighting against believer. Instead of cursing the memory of his enemies
(as became too soon the fashion in these civil wars), Aly on this
occasion spoke hopefully of the future state of those who had entered
the field, on whichever side, with an honest heart. When they brought
him the sword of Zobeir, he cursed the man who had taken his life; and,
calling to mind the feats of the deceased warrior in the early battles
of Islam, he exclaimed: ‘Many a time hath this sword driven away care
and sorrow from the Prophet’s brow.’ The Moslems might well mourn
over the memory both of Talha and Zobeir, when they remembered how
on the field of Ohod the former had saved the life of Mahomet at the
peril of his own; and how often the latter, conspicuous from afar in
his saffron turban, carried confusion into the ranks of the idolaters
while they yet held possession of Mecca. Their fall, and that of many
amongst the Companions, was a loss to the empire itself, because
seriously weakening the Coreish in the struggle that yet remained to
be fought out betwixt them and the Arab tribes. In fact, this victory
of Aly was virtually the victory of these latter--that is to say, of
the regicides, and of the factious citizens of Kûfa. Thenceforward
Aly himself was almost wholly dependent on them. If, instead, he had
succeeded in effecting a strong and lasting compromise with Talha and
Zobeir, his position would have been incomparably strengthened.

[Sidenote: Aly’s magnanimity towards the enemy.]

The bearing of Aly after the victory was generous towards the fallen
foe. Having entered the city, he divided the contents of the treasury
amongst the troops which had fought on his side, promising them a still
larger reward when the Lord should have delivered Syria into his hands.
But otherwise he treated friends and foes alike, and buried in oblivion
the animosities of the past. Merwân and the immediate adherents of the
house of Omeyya fled back into the Hejâz, or found refuge in Syria.
All that remained in the city swore fealty to Aly. The only class
dissatisfied was that of the slaves and rabble, who murmured at having
no share in the treasure, nor any chance of plunder. These, gathering
into marauding bands, occasioned much disquietude to the Caliph, and
indeed hastened his departure with the view of checking the mischief
they were bent on.[518]

[Sidenote: Ayesha retires to Medîna.]

Ayesha was treated by Aly with the honour and reverence due to ‘the
Spouse of the Prophet both in this life and in the life to come.’ She
was now five-and-forty years of age, but had lost little of the fire
and vivacity of her early days. After the battle, the Caliph visited
her tent, and expressed his satisfaction at finding her unhurt; adding
mildly, but half reproachfully: ‘The Lord pardon thee for what hath
passed, and have mercy upon thee.’ ‘And upon thee!’ was her ready
answer. The best house in Bussorah was given up to her; and there
she was waited on by her own adherents. Not many days after, she was
dismissed, with a retinue of forty handmaids, and attended by her
brother. Aly himself accompanied her for a mile or two on foot; and a
large party went as far as the first stage, to bid her farewell. At
Mecca she performed the Lesser Pilgrimage; and then retiring to Medîna,
no more attempted to interfere with the affairs of State. Her nephew
Abdallah son of Zobeir (and of her sister Asma[519]) retired with her.
He is famous as the nearly successful usurper of the Caliphate; but
that was not till Ayesha had passed away. She spent the remainder of
her days at Medîna. There crowds of pilgrims visiting the Prophet’s
tomb (her own apartment) gazed wonderingly at her as the once beautiful
and favourite wife of Mahomet; while she, becoming the garrulous
and fertile source of tradition, entertained them with stories of
the Prophet, ascending as far back as the earliest memories of her
childhood. She died in the fifty-eighth year of the Hegira, aged about
sixty-six, having passed forty-seven years in widowhood.[520]

[Sidenote: Ibn Abbâs governor of Bussorah.]

Aly did not stay long in Bussorah. Having appointed his cousin,
Abdallah son of Abbâs, as governor of the city, with Ziâd, the able
administrator, to aid him, as in charge of the treasury, he set out for

                           CHAPTER XXXVIII.

                           AFFAIRS IN EGYPT.

                      A.H. XXXVI. A.D. 656, 657.

[Sidenote: Medîna abandoned as seat of Caliphate.]

When Aly rode forth from Medîna in pursuit of the insurgent army, a
Companion seized his bridle;--‘Stay!’ he cried with earnest voice;--‘if
thou goest forth from this city, the government will depart therefrom,
never more to return.’ He was pushed aside as a crackbrained meddler.
But his words were long remembered, and the prophecy was true. Medîna,
hitherto queen of the Moslem world, was to be the seat of empire no

[Sidenote: Aly’s entry into Kûfa. Rajab, A.H. XXXVI. Jan. A.D. 657.]

About the middle of the thirty-sixth year of the Hegira, seven months
after the death of Othmân, Aly entered Kûfa. The first four months of
his Caliphate had been spent, as we have seen, at Medîna; the other
three in the camp at Rabadza, in the campaign ending with the battle
of the Camel, and a short stay at Bussorah. No Caliph had as yet
visited Kûfa. It was now to be the seat of Aly’s government. We find
no mention of the manner of his entry and reception; simply the fact
of his arrival. No doubt the people were flattered by the honour now
put upon them. The city also had some advantages; for there were in
it many leading men, able, and some of them willing, to support the
Caliph by their influence. [Sidenote: Factious spirit there.]Moreover,
Aly might calculate on the jealousy of the inhabitants towards Syria,
in the approaching struggle with Muâvia. But all this was more than
counterbalanced by the fickle and factious humour of the populace. It
was the focus of Bedouin democracy; and the spirit of the Bedouins was
yet untamed. What had they gained, the citizens asked one of another,
by the rebellion against Othmân? The cry of vengeance on the regicides
was for the moment stifled; but things were fast drifting back again
into the old Coreishite groove. This was, in fact, the same cry as the
Arab tribes were making all around. ‘Aly hath set up his cousins, the
sons of Abbâs, everywhere--in Medîna, in Mecca, and in Yemen; and now
here again at Bussorah; while he himself will rule at Kûfa. Of what
avail that we made away with Othmân; and that we have shed all this
blood, fighting with Zobeir and Talha?’ So spoke the arch-conspirator
Ashtar among his friends at Bussorah; and Aly, fearful of the effect
of such teaching, took him in his train to Kûfa, where, indeed, among
the excitable populace his influence was even more dangerous. Another
uneasy symptom of the times was that the baser sort and the servile
dregs of Bussorah, breaking loose from authority, went forth in a body,
and took possession of Sejestan on the Persian frontier. They killed
the leader sent by Aly to suppress the insurrection, and were not put
down till Ibn Abbâs himself attacked them with a force from Bussorah.

[Sidenote: Struggle in prospect with Syria.]

It was in the West, however, that the sky loured the most. That was
but a shorn and truncated Caliphate which Aly enjoyed, so long as his
authority was scorned in Syria. A mortal combat with Muâvia loomed in
that direction. But, before resuming the thread of the Syrian story, it
is necessary first to turn to Egypt and relate what was being enacted

[Sidenote: Mohammed ibn Abu Hodzeifa usurps Egypt. Shawwâl, A.H. XXXV.
April, A.D. 656.]

When the band of conspirators set out from Egypt to attack Othmân, we
have seen that Mohammed son of Abu Hodzeifa thereupon ousted Abu Sarh,
Othmân’s lieutenant, and usurped the government. This man’s father had
been killed at Yemâma, and Othmân, adopting the orphan, had brought him
up kindly. Mortified at the refusal of the Caliph to give him a command
until he should have proved his capacity in the field, Mohammed joined
the insurgent faction, and gained great influence in Egypt by an
affected piety and by the vehement denunciation of his former guardian.
On the murder of Othmân he succeeded in holding the government of Egypt
for several months. [Sidenote: Flies to Syria and is killed.]But he
quickly paid the penalty of his ingratitude. On the approach of the new
governor, sent by Aly, he fled to Syria, and there lost his life.[522]

[Sidenote: Cays appointed governor of Egypt. Safar, A.H. XXXVI. August,
A.D. 656.]

The follower whom Aly selected for the heavy task of governing Egypt
was Cays, a citizen of Medîna, son of that Sád ibn Obâda who, it may be
remembered, was the rival of Abu Bekr for the Caliphate. Of approved
sagacity, strength, and judgment, he was a loyal follower of Aly. He
declined to take an army with him, saying that the Caliph had more need
of soldiers than he; and preferred instead to be supported by seven
‘Companions’ of the Prophet, whom he took along with him. He was well
received by the Egyptians at large, who swore allegiance to him in
behalf of Aly. But a strong faction, as before observed, found shelter
in the district of Kharanba, and loudly demanded satisfaction for the
death of Othmân. Cays wisely left these alone for the present, waiving
even the demand for tithe. In other respects he held Egypt firmly in
his grasp.

[Sidenote: Is supplanted by Muâvia’s machinations.]

With the prospect of an early attack from the banks of the Euphrates,
Muâvia became uneasy at the Egyptian border being commanded by so firm
and powerful a ruler as Cays; whom, therefore, he made every effort to
detach from his allegiance to Aly. Upbraiding him with having joined a
party whose hands were still red with the blood of Othmân, he reminded
Cays that there was yet time to repent, and promised that, if even now
he joined in avenging the crime, he should not only be confirmed in the
government of Egypt, but his kinsmen would be promoted to such office
in the Hejâz, or elsewhere, as he might desire. Cays, unwilling to
precipitate hostilities, fenced his answer with well-balanced words.
Of Aly’s complicity in the foul deed he had no knowledge; he would
wait. Meanwhile it was not in his mind to make any attack on Syria.
Again pressed by Muâvia, Cays frankly declared that he was, and would
remain, a staunch supporter of the Caliph’s cause. Thereupon Muâvia
sought craftily to stir up jealousy between the Viceroy and his Master.
He gave out that Cays was temporising, and spoke of his treatment of
the Kharanba malcontents as proving that he was one at heart with
them.[523] The report, assiduously spread, reached (as it was intended)
the court of Aly, where it was taken up by those who either doubted
the fidelity of Cays or envied his prosperity. To test his obedience,
Aly ordered an advance against the schismatics of Kharanba; and when
Cays remonstrated against the policy, it was taken as proof of his
complicity. [Sidenote: Mohammed son of Abu Bekr appointed to Egypt.] He
was deposed, and Mohammed the regicide, son of Abu Bekr, appointed in
his room. Cays retired in anger to Medîna, where, as on neutral ground,
adherents of either side were unmolested. Finding no peace there from
the taunts of Merwân and his party, Cays resolved at last to go to
Kûfa, and cast himself on Aly’s clemency; and Aly, on the calumnies
being cleared away, took him back at once into his confidence, and
thenceforward kept him at court as his chief adviser. Muâvia was
grieved that Merwân had driven Cays away from Medîna: ‘If thou hadst
aided Aly,’ he wrote upbraidingly, ‘with a hundred thousand men, it had
been a lesser evil than is the gain to Aly of such a counsellor.’[524]

[Sidenote: Muâvia is joined by Amru.]

On his own side, however, Muâvia had gained a powerful and astute
adviser in the person of the conqueror of Egypt. During the attack on
Othmân, Amru had retired from Medîna with his two sons to Palestine.
The tidings of the tragedy, aggravated by his own unkindly treatment
of the Caliph, affected him so keenly that he wept like a woman. ‘It
is I,’ he said, ‘who, by deserting the aged man, am responsible for
his death.’ From his place of retirement he watched the struggle of
Zobeir and Talha at Bussorah; and when Aly conquered, he repaired
at once to Damascus, and with his two sons presented himself before
Muâvia. In consequence of the unfriendly attitude he had held towards
Othmân, Amru was at first received coldly. But in the end, the past
was all condoned; friendship was restored between the two chiefs, and
thenceforward Amru was the trusted counsellor of Muâvia.[525]

[Sidenote: Weakness of Aly’s position at Kûfa.]

This coalition, and the false step of Aly in recalling Cays from
Egypt, now materially strengthened Muâvia’s hands. The success of Aly
at Bussorah brought at least this advantage even to Muâvia, that it
removed Talha and Zobeir, the only other competitors, from the field.
On the other hand, the position of Aly, as one of concession to the
Arab faction, was fraught with peril. While refusing ostensibly to
identify himself with the murderers of Othmân, it was virtually in
their cause that he had taken up arms; and therefore equally in the
cause of the Arabs, as against the Coreish and aristocracy of Islam.
And Aly should have foreseen that the socialistic element in this
unnatural compromise must sooner or later come into collision with the

[Sidenote: Advantages of Muâvia’s position in Syria.]

The authority of Muâvia rested on a firmer basis; his attitude was
bolder, and his position more consistent. He had from the first
resisted the levelling demands of the faction which rose up against
Othmân. He was, therefore, justified now in a course of action which,
pursuing these to justice, asserted in the pursuit the supremacy of the
Coreish. The influence of the ‘Companions’ had always been paramount
in Syria; and the Arab element (partly because very largely recruited
from the aristocratic tribes of the south) was thoroughly under
control. The cry for vengeance, inflamed by the gory emblems still
hanging from the cathedral pulpit, was taken up by high and low. The
temporising attitude of the Caliph was in every man’s mouth as a proof
of complicity with the regicides. And though many may have dreaded
Aly’s vengeance in the event of his ultimate success, the general
feeling throughout Syria was a burning desire to avenge the murder of
his ill-fated predecessor.

[Sidenote: Aly and Muâvia in personal antagonism.]

Still, whatever other motives may have been at work elsewhere, the
contest, as between Aly and Muâvia, had now become a purely personal
one. The struggle was for the crown; and many looked to ‘the grey mule
of Syria’ as having the better chance. A possible solution of the
contest lay, no doubt, in the erection of Syria into an independent
kingdom side by side with that of Persia and Egypt. [Sidenote: Unity
of Caliphate still the ruling sentiment.]But the disintegration of the
empire of Islam was an idea which as yet had hardly entered into the
minds of the Faithful. The unity of the Caliphate, as established by
the history and the precedents of a quarter of a century, was still,
and long continued, the ruling sentiment of Islam.

                            CHAPTER XXXIX.

                           BATTLE OF SIFFIN.

                    A.H. XXXVI., XXXVII. A.D. 657.

[Sidenote: Aly’s envoy returns with defiant message from Muâvia.
Shabân, A.H. XXXVI. January, A.D. 657.]

After Aly had established himself at Kûfa, there followed a short
interval of rest. The lieutenants and commanders, from their various
provinces, flocked into the new capital to do homage to the Caliph.
Towards one of these, named Jarîr, chief of the Beni Bajîla, Muâvia
was known to entertain friendly sentiments. Him, therefore, Aly
deputed to Damascus with a letter, wherein, after reciting the fact
of his election at Medîna to the Caliphate, and the discomfiture of
his enemies at Bussorah, he called on Muâvia to follow the example of
the empire, and, with the rest, to take also the oath of allegiance.
Like the former envoy, Jarîr was kept long in attendance. At last he
was dismissed with an oral message, that allegiance would be tendered
if punishment were meted out to the regicides, but on no other
possible condition. The envoy further reported to Aly, that Othmân’s
blood-stained garment still hung upon the pulpit of the Great Mosque,
and that a multitude of the Syrian warriors had sworn that they would
use no water to wash themselves withal, neither sleep in their beds,
till they had slain the murderers of the aged Caliph, and those that
sheltered them.[526] Ashtar accused Jarîr of playing into the hands of
Muâvia; and by having dallied for so long a time at his court, of thus
giving the Syrians leisure to mature their plans and become hardened
in their hostile attitude. Jarîr, disgusted at the imputation, retired
a neutral to Kirckesia, or, according to others, went over to Muâvia.

[Sidenote: Aly invades Northern Syria. Dzul Câda, A.H. XXXVI. April,
A.D. 657.]

Seeing that Muâvia was hopelessly alienated, Aly resolved no longer
to delay the attack upon Syria, and he proclaimed an expedition
accordingly. At first the people were slack in answering the call.
But after a time, the Caliph succeeded in gathering together from
Bussorah, Medâin, and Kûfa, an imposing force of 50,000 men. His plan
was to march first by Upper Mesopotamia, and so to invade Syria from
the north. A detachment was sent as an advance-guard up the western
bank of the Euphrates, but meeting with active opposition there, it
was forced to cross back again into Mesopotamia. Aly himself, with the
main body, marched across the plain of Dura to Medâin, and thence up
the Tigris. Then turning, short of Mosul, towards the west, he crossed
the great desert of Mesopotamia, and, outstripping his advanced column,
reached the Euphrates in its upper course at Ricca.[527] An unfriendly
population lined the banks of the river; and it was not without
sanguinary threats that Ashtar forced them to construct a bridge. The
army crossed near Ricca; and then marching some little distance along
the right bank, westward, in the direction of Aleppo, they met the
Syrian outposts at Sûr.[528]

[Sidenote: Muâvia, advancing, meets Aly, on field of Siffîn.]

On learning Aly’s preparations, Muâvia lost no time in marshalling
his forces, which greatly outnumbered the enemy, and, having no desert
to cross, were soon to the front. Amru was in command, having his two
sons, and his freedman Werdân, as lieutenants.[529] Aly, desirous of
averting bloodshed, had given orders that, as soon as his troops came
upon the enemy, they should halt, and, confining themselves to the
defensive, avoid precipitating hostilities before opportunity had been
given for friendly overture. The vanguards of the two armies spent the
first few days in skirmishing. Ashtar challenged the Syrian officer to
single combat; but the challenge was declined, and Ashtar told that,
having imbrued his hands in the blood of the late Caliph, he could
not claim the privileges of honourable warfare. When the main armies
came in sight of each other, Aly found Muâvia so encamped as to cut
him off from the river, and reduce his army to straits for water. He
therefore brought on an engagement, in which Muâvia was forced to
change his ground, and occupy the ill-starred field of Siffîn.[530a] Some
days of inaction followed; after which Aly sent three of his chief men
to demand that, for the good of the commonwealth, Muâvia should tender
his allegiance. No mention is made of any offer (though perhaps it
may be presumed) on the part of Aly to confirm Muâvia, in case of his
submission, in the government of Syria. A scene ensued of fruitless
recrimination. On the one hand, Muâvia demanded that the murderers
of Othmân should be brought to justice; on the other, the demand was
stigmatised as a mere cat’s-paw covering ambitious designs upon the
Caliphate. This was resented as a base calumny by Muâvia. ‘Begone,
ye lying scoundrels!’ he cried; ‘the sword shall decide between us;’
and, so saying, he drove them from his presence. Finding all attempts
at compromise to be useless, Aly marshalled his army into seven or
eight separate columns, each under a Bedouin chieftain of note. As
many separate columns were similarly formed on the Syrian side. And
every day one of these columns, taking the field in turn, was drawn
up against a corresponding column of the other army. [Sidenote:
Desultory fighting, Dzul Hijj, A.H. XXXVI. May, A.D. 657.] Desultory
fighting in this singular way was kept up throughout the month, there
being sometimes as many as two engagements in a single day. But the
contest could not up to this time have been very earnest or severe,
since little mention is made of sanguinary results.[530] On both sides
they feared, we are told, to bring the whole forces out into a common
battle, ‘lest the Moslems should be destroyed, root and branch,’ in the
internecine struggle.

[Sidenote: Truce during final month of A.H. XXXVII. June, A.D. 657.]

A new year, the 37th of the Hegira, opened on the combatants, wearied
by this endless and indecisive strife, and inclined to thoughts of
peace. A truce was called, to last throughout Moharram, the first
month of the year. The interval was spent in deputations; but these
proved as fruitless as those which had gone before. Aly, influenced
by the anti-Omeyyad faction around him, was not disposed even now to
admit the injustice of Othmân’s having been put to death. When pressed
upon the point by the Syrian envoys, he declined to commit himself.
[Sidenote: Fruitless negotiations.]‘I will not say,’ was his evasive
answer, ‘that he was wrongfully attacked, nor will I say that the
attack was justified.’ ‘Then,’ answered the Syrians, ‘we shall fight
against thee, and fight likewise against everyone else who refuseth to
say that thy predecessor was not wrongfully put to death;’ and with
these words they took their final leave. On his side, Muâvia declared
to the messengers of Aly that nothing short of the punishment of the
regicides would induce him to quit the field. ‘What?’ exclaimed some
one; ‘wouldest thou put Ammâr to death?’ ‘And why not?’ answered
Muâvia; ‘wherefore should the son of the bond-woman not suffer for
having slain the freedman of Othmân?’[531] ‘Impossible,’ they cried;
‘where will ye stop? It were easier to bale out the floods of the

[Sidenote: Renewal of hostilities, Safar, A.H. XXXVII. July, A.D. 657.]

So passed away the first month of the year. At the beginning of the
second, Aly, seeing things unchanged, commenced hostilities afresh.
He caused proclamation to be made along Muâvia’s front, recalling
the Syrians from rebellion to their proper allegiance. But it only
made them rally with the more enthusiasm around Muâvia; and a great
company took an oath, girding themselves in token with their turbans,
that they would defend him to the death. The warfare was, however,
carried on at the first in the same indecisive style as before. Six
leaders on Aly’s side took, in daily turn, the command against as
many captains on the other side.[532] But though still desultory,
the conflict was becoming severer and more embittered. Many single
combats were fought. One of Aly’s sons went forth on the challenge
of a son of Omar, but was recalled by his father.[533] And so eight
or nine days passed, one differing little from the other, till the
beginning of the second week, when Aly made up his mind to bring on
a general, and, as he hoped, decisive battle. The night was spent
by his followers in preparation, and (as the Abbasside historians
relate) in recitation from the Scripture, and in prayer. Thus, ten
days after the renewal of hostilities, both armies were drawn out in
their entire array. [Sidenote: Battle of Siffîn. 11 and 12 Safar; July
29 and 30.]They fought the whole day, but the shades of evening fell,
and none had got the better. The following morning, the combat was
renewed, and with greater vigour. Aly posted himself in the centre
with the flower of his troops from Medîna; the wings were composed
separately, one of the warriors from Bussorah, the other of those
from Kûfa. Muâvia had a pavilion pitched upon the field; and there,
surrounded by five compacted lines of his sworn body-guard, watched
the day. Amru, with a great weight of horse, bore down upon the Kûfa
wing. Before the shock it gave way; and Aly, with his sons, was exposed
to imminent peril, as well from the thick shower of arrows, as from a
close encounter. Reproaching the men of Kûfa for their cowardice, the
Caliph fought sword in hand, and with his ancient bravery withstood the
charge. Ashtar, at the head of three hundred _Readers_[534]--the
‘Ghâzies’ of the day--led forward the other wing, which fell with
fury upon Muâvia’s ‘turbaned’ body-guard. Four of its five ranks were
already cut to pieces, when Muâvia, alarmed, bethought himself of
flight, and had even called for his horse, when certain martial lines
came to his lips, and he held his ground. Amru stood by him, ‘Courage
to-day,’ he cried; ‘to-morrow victory.’ The fifth rank repelled the
danger, and both sides again fought on equal terms. Feats of desperate
bravery were displayed by both armies. Many men of rank were slain.
On Aly’s side fell Hâshim, the hero of Câdesîya. Of even greater
moment was the death of Ammâr, now over ninety years, and one of the
leading regicides. As he saw Hâshim fall, he exclaimed to his fellows:
‘O Paradise! how close thou couchest beneath the arrow’s point and
the falchion’s flash! O Hâshim! even now I see heaven opened, and
black-eyed maidens, all bridally attired, clasping thee in their fond
embrace!’[535] So, singing, and refreshing himself with his favourite
draught of milk and water, the aged warrior, fired again with the
ardour of youth, rushed into the enemy’s ranks, and met the envied
fate. It had long been in everyone’s mouth both in town and camp, that
Mahomet had once said to him: ‘By a godless and rebellious race, O
Ammâr, thou shalt one day be slain;’ in other words (so the saying was
interpreted), Ammâr would be killed fighting on the side of right. Thus
his death, as it were, condemned the cause of the ranks against whom he
fought; and so it spread dismay in Muâvia’s host. When Amru heard of
it, he answered readily: ‘And who is it that hath killed Ammâr, but
Aly the “rebellious,” that brought him hither?’ The clever repartee
ran through the Syrian host, and did much at once to efface the evil

[Sidenote: Battle still rages on morning of third day, 13 Safar, July

The fighting this day was in real earnest, and the carnage on both
sides great. Darkness failed to separate the combatants; and, like
Câdesîya, that night was called a second ‘Night of Clangour.’ The
morning broke on the two armies still in conflict. With emptied
quivers they now fought hand to hand. Ashtar, the regicide, resolved
on victory at whatever cost, continued to push the attack with
unflinching bravery and persistence. Muâvia, disheartened, began to
speak to Amru of proposing to Aly a judicial combat, Goliath-like,
with a champion on either side. ‘Then go forth thyself, and challenge
Aly,’ said Amru. ‘Not so,’ answered Muâvia; ‘I will not do that, for
Aly ever slayeth his man, and then _thou_ shouldest succeed me.’ Amru,
indeed, well knew that this was not in Muâvia’s line; and it was no
time for continuing grim pleasantry like this. [Sidenote: Hostilities
suspended for arbitration by Corân.] All at once Amru bethought him of
a stratagem. ‘Raise aloft the sacred leaves of the Corân,’ he cried;
‘if any refuse to abide thereby, it will sow discord amongst them;
if they accept, it will be a reprieve from cruel slaughter.’ Muâvia
caught at the words. And so forthwith they fixed the sacred scrolls on
the points of their lances, and raising them aloft, called out along
the line of battle: ‘The law of the Lord! The law of the Lord! Let
it decide between us!’ No sooner heard, than the men of Kûfa leaped
forward, re-echoing the cry: ‘The law of the Lord, that shall decide
between us!’ As all were shouting thus with one accord, Aly stepped
forth and expostulated with them: ‘It was the device,’ he cried,
‘of evil men; afraid of defeat, they sought their end by guile, and
cloaked rebellion under love of the Word.’ It was all in vain. To every
argument they answered (and the ‘Readers’ loudest of all): ‘We are
called to the Book, and we cannot decline it.’ At last, in open mutiny,
they threatened the unfortunate Caliph, that, unless he agreed, they
would all desert him, drive him over to the enemy, or serve him as they
had served Othmân. Seeing that further opposition would be futile, Aly
said: ‘Stay wild and treasonable words. Obey and fight. But if ye will
rebel, do as ye list.’ ‘We will not fight,’ they cried; ‘recall Ashtar
from the field.’ Ashtar, thus summoned, at the first refused. ‘We are
gaining a great victory,’ he said, ‘I will not come;’ and he turned
to fight again. But the tumult increased, and Aly sent a second time
to say: ‘Of what avail is victory when treason rageth? Wouldst thou
have the Caliph murdered, or delivered over to the enemy?’ Ashtar, on
hearing this, unwillingly returned, and a fierce altercation ensued
between him and the angry soldiery. ‘Ye were fighting,’ he said, ‘but
yesterday for the Lord, and the choicest among you lost their lives.
What is it but that ye now acknowledge yourselves in the wrong,
and the Martyrs gone to hell?’ ‘Nay,’ they answered; ‘it is not so.
Yesterday we fought for the Lord; to-day, also for the Lord, we stay
the fight.’ On this, Ashtar upbraided them as ‘traitors, cowards,
hypocrites, and villains.’ In return, they reviled him, and struck
his charger with their whips. Aly interposed. The tumult was stayed.
And Asháth, chief of the Beni Kinda, was sent to ask Muâvia ‘what his
precise meaning in raising the Corân aloft might be.’ ‘It is this,’
he sent answer back, ‘that we should return, both you and we, to the
will of the Lord, as set forth in the Book. Each side shall name an
Umpire, and the verdict shall be binding.’ Aly’s army shouted assent.
The unfortunate Caliph was forced to the still deeper humiliation of
appointing as his arbiter a person who had deserted him. The soldiery
cried out for Abu Mûsa, the temporising Governor of Kûfa who had been
deposed for want of active loyalty. ‘This man,’ answered Aly, ‘did but
lately leave us and flee; and not till after several months I pardoned
him. Neither hath he now been fighting with us. Here is a worthy
representative, the son of Abbâs, the Prophet’s uncle; choose him as
your Umpire.’ ‘As well name thyself,’ they answered rudely. ‘Then take
Ashtar.’ ‘What!’ said the Bedouin chiefs in the same rough imperious
strain, ‘the man that hath set the world on fire! None for us but Abu
Mûsa.’ It was a bitter choice for Aly, but he had no alternative.
The Syrian arbiter was Amru, for whose deep and crafty ways Abu Mûsa
was no match.[537] He presented himself in the Caliph’s camp, and
the agreement was put in writing. [Sidenote: Deed of arbitration, 13
Safar, A.H. XXXVII. July 31, A.D. 665.] As dictated from Aly’s side,
it ran thus: ‘_In the name of the Lord Most Merciful!_ This is what
hath been agreed upon between the Commander of the Faithful, and ----’
‘Stay!’ cried Amru (like the Coreish to the Prophet at Hodeibia); ‘Aly
is your Commander, but he is not ours.’ Again the helpless Caliph
had to give way, and the names were written down of the contracting
parties as simply ‘Aly and Muâvia.’[538] The document went on to say
that both sides bound themselves by the judgment of the Corân; and,
where the Corân was silent, by the acknowledged precedents of Islam. To
the Umpires, the guarantee of both Aly and Muâvia was given of safety
for themselves and for their families; and the promise of the people
that their judgment should be followed. On their part, the Umpires
swore that they would judge righteously, so as to stay hostilities
and reconcile the Faithful. The decision was to be delivered after
six months, or later if the Umpires saw cause for delay, and at some
neutral spot midway between Kûfa and Damascus. Meanwhile hostilities
should be mutually suspended.[539] The writing, having been duly
executed and signed, was numerously witnessed by leading chiefs on
either side. Ashtar alone refused: ‘Never again,’ he said, ‘should I
acknowledge this to be mine own right hand, were it to touch a deed the
like of this.’

[Sidenote: Aly returns to Kûfa, and Muâvia to Damascus.]

And so the armies, having buried their dead, quitted this memorable but
undecisive battle-field. Aly retired to Kûfa; and Muâvia, his point for
the present gained, to Damascus. As Aly entered Kûfa, he heard wailing
on every side. A chief man, whom he bade to pacify the mourners,
answered: ‘O Caliph, it is not as if but two or three had been slain;
of this clan hard by, alone, an hundred and fourscore lie buried at
Siffîn. There is not a house but the women are weeping in it for their

[Sidenote: Discord at Kûfa.]

The slaughter, indeed, had been great on both sides.[540] And what gave
point to Aly’s loss was that the truce was but a hollow thing, with no
hope in it of lasting peace or reconciliation. The Arab faction, to
whose insolent demands Aly had yielded, was more estranged than ever.
When the men of Kûfa murmured at the compromise, all that he could
reply was this: that the mutinous soldiery had extorted the agreement
from him; and that having pledged his faith, he could not now withdraw.
He had thrown in his lot with traitors and regicides, and was now
reaping the bitter fruit. Muâvia alone had gained.

                              CHAPTER XL.


                        A.H. XXXVII. A.D. 657.

[Sidenote: The Arab faction taken in by appeal to Corân.]

The quick sagacity of Amru had never been turned to better account
than when he proposed to the army of Kûfa that the Corân should be the
arbiter between them. To be judged by the Book of the Lord had been
their cry from the beginning. The sacred text gave no countenance to
the extravagant pretensions of the Coreish, nor to their (so-called)
empire of favouritism and tyranny. Its precepts were based on the
brotherhood of the Faithful; and the Prophet himself had enjoined on
his people the absolute equality of all.[541] No sooner, therefore, was
it proclaimed than, as Amru anticipated, the Arab chiefs, caught in the
snare, took up the cry, and pledged themselves thereto.

[Sidenote: Dissatisfaction of the Arab, or theocratic, faction.]

Reflection soon tarnished the prospect. They had forgotten how
narrow was the issue which the Umpires had to decide. The Bedouins
were fighting not for one Caliph or the other, but against the
pretensions of the Coreish at large. It was this that nerved them to
the sanguinary conflict. ‘If the Syrians conquer,’ cried Yezîd ibn
Cays to his followers of Bussorah and Kûfa, ‘ye are undone. Again ye
will be ground down by tyrants like the minions of Othmân. They will
possess themselves as heretofore of the conquests of Islam, as if,
forsooth, these had descended to them by inheritance, and not been
won by our good swords. We shall lose our grasp both of this world
and of the next.’ Such were the evils which they dreaded, for which
they had slain Othmân, and from which they had now been fighting for
deliverance. By the appointment of Abu Mûsa for their Umpire, what had
they obtained? It was theocratic rule they had been dreaming of, and
now they were drifting back to the old _régime_. The Umpires would
decide simply as between Muâvia and Aly; and, whatever their verdict,
the despotism of the past would be riveted more firmly than ever.
Nothing of the kind they really wanted had been gained, nor was there
any prospect of its being gained, by arbitration.

[Sidenote: They draw off into hostile camp near Kûfa.]

Burdened with these thoughts, a body of 12,000 men fell out from Aly’s
ranks on their homeward journey; and, keeping the same direction
towards Kûfa, marched side by side with the army, at some little
distance off in the desert. Loud and violent in their speech, they
beat about their neighbours in rude Bedouin fashion with their whips,
and reproached one another for having abandoned the cause of Islam to
the bands of godless arbitrators; while some few amongst them were
uneasy at having betrayed the Caliph on the field of battle, and at
having now separated themselves from the body of the Faithful. In this
frame of mind they avoided Kûfa, but encamped in its vicinity, at the
village of Harôra.[542] They chose for themselves a temporary leader.
But their resolve was, that when they gained the ascendency, they
would no longer have any prince or Caliph, nor any oath of allegiance
but to THE LORD alone; and would vest the administration
of affairs in a Council of State. This theocratic dream was not
confined to the schismatics at Harôra, but had widely leavened the
factious and fanatical population of Kûfa. Aly, aware of the danger,
sent his cousin, Mohammed son of Abbâs, to reason with the seceding
body, but to no effect. He then proceeded to their camp himself, and
gained over their leader, Yezîd, by the promise of the government of
Ispahan. He urged, and with good ground, that, so far from being
responsible for ‘the godless compromise,’ he had been driven to accept
the Arbitration against his better judgment by their own wayward and
persistent obstinacy; that the Umpires were bound by the terms of the
truce to deliver their decision in accordance with the sacred text,
which equally with himself the theocrats held to be the final guide;
and that, if the Umpires’ deliverance should after all turn out to be
in disregard of it, he would without a moment’s hesitation reject the
same, and again go forth at their head to fight against the enemies of
the Faith.

[Sidenote: They are pacified by Aly.]

There was a strange mingling of innocence and simplicity in these
Seceders, with a fanatical indifference to the distinctions of vice and
virtue, and a readiness to perpetrate any crime, whether against the
person or the State, so that it forwarded the cause they had at heart,
namely, ‘the Rule of the Lord,’ and the setting up of that which they
conceived to be His kingdom.

[Sidenote: And retire to their homes.]

For the present they were pacified by the assurances of the Caliph.
They broke up their camp and returned to their homes, there to await
the decision of the Umpires.

                             CHAPTER XLI.

                       DECISION OF THE UMPIRES.

                        A.H. XXXVII. A.D. 658.

[Sidenote: The interregnum.]

The interval passed uneasily. Muâvia ruled in Syria; Aly, over the
rest of the Moslem world. Neither, for the moment, interfered with the
other. The empire held itself in suspense.

[Sidenote: The Umpires meet. Ramadhân, A.H. XXXVII. Feb.] A.D. 658.]

Within the time appointed, Amru appeared at Dûma, and, shortly after,
Abu Mûsa. Each was followed, according to agreement, by a retinue of
four hundred horsemen.[543] Thither also, to the neutral spot, flocked
multitudes from Irâc and from Syria, from Mecca and Medîna. With
intense interest they watched the strange proceeding, which (as they
expected) was about to decide the future of Islam. The leading chiefs
of the Coreish were also there; some, we are told, with the distant
hope that haply the choice might fall on one of themselves.[544]

[Sidenote: And confer with each other.]

The Umpires met in a pavilion pitched for the occasion; and beneath it,
a private conference was held between the two alone. The account given
by our authorities of what passed between them, is very brief. The
result we must accept, but the colloquy which led to it is altogether
of an uncertain kind. The gist of it is as follows. Abu Mûsa, pressed
by his astute colleague, admitted that the putting of Othmân to death
was a wicked and unjustifiable thing. ‘Then why,’ rejoined Amru,
‘wilt thou not take Muâvia, the avenger of blood, for his successor?’
‘If it were a mere question of blood-feud or kinsmanship,’ Abu Mûsa
answered, ‘there were Othmân’s sons with a nearer claim. Succession
to the throne, however, was a matter to be determined, not by such
considerations, but by the vote of the chief Companions of the
Prophet.’ Amru (so the story runs) then proposed his own son: ‘A just
and good man,’ replied Abu Mûsa, ‘but one whom thou hast already made
to take sides in the civil war; and, Amru! we must above all things
beware of kindling mutiny again amongst the Arab tribes.’ A similar
objection shut out Abdallah son of Zobeir; and the son of Omar was put
aside as not having qualities fitting him for command. ‘Then,’ asked
Amru, after all the possible candidates had been named and negatived,
‘what may be the judgment that thou wouldest give?’ ‘My judgment,’
answered Abu Mûsa, ‘would be to depose both Aly and Muâvia, and then
leave the people free to choose whom they will.’ ‘Thy judgment is also
mine,’ said Amru promptly; ‘let us go forth.’

[Sidenote: The judgment.]

The people, in breathless expectation of the impending announcement,
crowded round the pavilion as the Umpires issued from it. ‘Let them
know,’ said Amru to his fellow, ‘that we are agreed.’ Abu Mûsa
advanced, and with voice loud and clear,[545] said: ‘We are agreed
upon a decision such as, we trust, will reconcile the people, and
reunite the empire.’ ‘He speaketh true,’ said Amru: ‘step forth, O
Abu Mûsa, and pronounce thy judgment.’[546] Then spoke Abu Mûsa: ‘Ye
people! we have considered the matter well. We see no other course so
likely to restore peace and concord amongst the people, as to depose
Aly and Muâvia, both the one and the other. After that, ye shall choose
a fit man in their room. This is my judgment.’ [Sidenote: Deposing
Aly.]He stepped aside, and Amru advancing said: ‘Ye have heard the
sentence of Abu Mûsa. He hath deposed his fellow; and so do I too
depose him. But as for my Chief, Muâvia, him do I confirm. He is the
heir of Othmân, and as avenger of his blood, the best entitled to

[Sidenote: The people thunderstruck.]

The assembly was thunderstruck. Even the Syrians had never dreamed
of Muâvia achieving such a triumph; nor had it entered the minds of
those on Aly’s side, that their Umpire could be overreached thus
shamefully. ‘What could I do?’ cried Abu Mûsa, assailed on every hand;
‘he agreed with me, then swerved aside.’ ‘No fault of thine,’ said the
son of Abbâs: ‘it was the fault of those who put thee in the place.’
Overwhelmed with reproaches, Abu Mûsa made his escape and fled to
Mecca, where he thenceforward lived in obscurity.[547] [Sidenote:
Muâvia saluted Caliph by the Syrians.]In the heat of his indignation,
the commander of the Kûfa body-guard made an onset upon Amru, and was
roughly handling him, when the people interposed to set him free. Amru
returned forthwith to Damascus, where by acclamation Muâvia was saluted
Caliph by the Syrians.

[Sidenote: The two Caliphs curse each other in the daily service.]

How the startling intelligence affected Aly, may be judged by the
fact that to the prescribed daily service he added a petition cursing
by their names, Muâvia, Amru, and several of their chief adherents.
Muâvia was nothing loth to follow his example. And so the world was
edified by the spectacle, in the cathedral temples of Islam, of the
rival Commanders of the Faithful uttering maledictions in their daily
prayers, the one against the other.[548]

                             CHAPTER XLII.

                              AT NEHRWAN.

                        A.H. XXXVII. A.D. 658.

[Sidenote: Aly’s designs against Syria.]

Aly, as the reader will suppose, was not content with heaping
imprecations on his antagonist. He resolved on the immediate renewal of
hostilities. But he had other work before him first in dealing with the
fanatics nearer home.

[Sidenote: Hostile attitude of the theocractic faction. Ramadhân, A.H.
XXXVII. Jan. A.D. 658.]

Ever since they had broken up their camp at Harôra, these, instead of
settling down in sentiments of loyalty and peace, had been gaining in
aggressive force and stubbornness. There should (such was their cry) be
no oath of fealty but to the Lord alone, the Mighty and the Glorious.
To swear allegiance either to Aly or Muâvia was in derogation of that
great name. ‘Ye are both of you,’ they would say, ‘coursing along, neck
and neck, in the race of apostasy: the Syrians run after Muâvia whether
the way be right or wrong, and ye swear for Aly through black and
white. It is nought but blasphemy.’ So they formulated their creed into
one short sentence: _No judgment, but the Lord’s alone_; and this
they insolently flung in Aly’s teeth.[549] In vain the Caliph argued,
as he had done before, that the Arbitration had been forced upon him
by themselves. ‘It is true,’ they would readily reply; ‘but we have
repented of that lapse; and thou must repent of it likewise, or else we
shall fight against thee; and if so be that we are slain, we shall meet
our Lord with joy.’ [Sidenote: Aly’s forbearance.]Aly yet hoped to gain
them over. He bore with their seditious talk; and in a public address
in the Great Mosque at Kûfa, he declared his intention of treating
them with forbearance. ‘They should have free access to the mosques
for prayer. If they joined his army, they should share the booty like
the rest. So long as they refrained themselves from any overt act of
disloyalty, he would use no force of arms against them.’

[Sidenote: The Khârejites march to Nehrwân. Shawwâl, A.H. XXXVII.
March, A.D. 658.]

Instead of softening the fanatics, this moderation only tended to
embolden them. When the Umpires’ judgment was announced, they were
elated at a result which in their eyes amply justified their secession
at Siffîn. They held frequent meetings in secret, and resolved on
raising the Divine standard. They looked for heavenly interposition;
but even if they perished, it would be in a righteous cause, sure to
triumph in the end; they would, at any rate, be protesting against a
wicked world, and become inheritors of a blessed futurity. In the month
following the Arbitration, they began accordingly, in concert with the
brethren who sympathised with them at Bussorah, to leave their homes
by stealth. The party from Bussorah, five hundred strong, was pursued
by the governor, Ibn Abbâs; but they effected their escape, and joined
the bands which in greater force had issued forth from Kûfa. Secular
power, and the dignity and pomp of this life, were abhorrent from
these Covenanters’ creed; and it was only after many had declined the
dangerous pre-eminence, and then simply as a temporary expedient to
meet the present necessity, that a chief was prevailed on to accept
the supreme command. The design was to occupy the city of Medâin, upon
the Tigris, and there, under a Council of Representatives, establish
theocratic rule as a model to the ungodly cities around. But the
governor had timely warning, and repulsed the attempt. They passed on,
and crossed the river farther up in various bodies, and, appointing
Nehrwân as their rendezvous, assembled there to the number of 4,000.

[Sidenote: Aly orders levy for Syrian campaign.]

Aly did not at first recognise the serious character and bearing of the
movement. The number of the fanatics was comparatively insignificant;
and he hoped that, when they saw their former comrades in arms
marching against the graceless Syrians, they would not hesitate again
to join his standard. So he mounted the pulpit and harangued the men
of Kûfa. He reprobated the Umpires, because they had cast the Book
of the Lord, equally with the precedent of the Prophet, behind their
backs. Both were apostates, rejected of the Lord, of his Prophet, and
of all good men. ‘Wherefore,’ he concluded, ‘we must begin to fight
our battle again at the point where, on the eve of victory, we were
forced to leave it off. Prepare then to march for Syria, and be ready
in your camp without the city, by the second day of the coming week.’
[Sidenote: And summons the theocrats, who refuse to join him.]Then he
indited a despatch to the fanatics at Nehrwân. It was couched in terms
similar to his address, and ended thus: ‘Now, therefore, when ye have
read this, return forthwith and join the army. I am marching against
the common enemy, yours and ours alike; and we have come back again to
the state of things when aforetime at Siffîn ye were fighting by my
side.’ In reply Aly received an insulting message: ‘If he acknowledged
his apostasy and repented thereof, then they would see whether anything
could be arranged between them; otherwise they cast him off as an
ungodly heretic.’ The stiff-necked theocrats were thereupon, for the
present, left to their own devices, and the business of raising levies
for Syria proceeded with. [Sidenote: Aly marches for Syria.]But little
enthusiasm was anywhere displayed in the cause of Aly. Of the 60,000
fighting men drawing stipendiary allowances in Bussorah, 3,000 were
with difficulty got together. At Kûfa, after vain appeal to the loyalty
of the city, a conscription was ordered through the heads of clans; and
thus at length an army of threescore and five thousand men of every
rank and class was brought into the field.[550]

[Sidenote: But is diverted by the excesses of the fanatic host.]

With this imposing force, Aly had already commenced his march on Syria,
when tidings reached him that the fanatics were committing horrid and
cold-blooded outrages in the country round about their camp.[551] A
messenger was sent to make inquiry; but he too was put to death by
the insurgents. The tidings of their proceedings became more and more
alarming, and the men of Kûfa demanded to be led against them; ‘for
how,’ said they, ‘can we leave such outlaws unpunished and at large
behind us, and our homes exposed to their unlicensed cruelties?’ Aly
himself, seeing that this must be done, changed his course eastward,
crossed the Tigris, and marched against the fanatics. When now near
to Nehrwân, he sent a messenger forward, to demand that the murderers
should be delivered up. ‘Surrender these to justice,’ he said, ‘and
ye shall be left alone, until the Lord grant us victory in Syria, and
then haply He shall have turned your hearts again toward us.’ They
replied that ‘they were all equally responsible for what had passed,
and that the blood of the ungodly heretics they had slain was lawful
to them.’ A parley ensued, in which the Caliph through his captains
expostulated with the misguided fanatics, and offered quarter to all
who should come over to his army, or retire peaceably to their homes.
[Sidenote: The fanatics at Nehrwân dispersed and slain.]Some obeyed
the call and came over; 500 went off to a neighbouring Persian town,
and many more dispersed in other directions to their homes at Kûfa or
elsewhere. Eighteen hundred remained upon the field, martyrs to the
theocratic creed. With the wild battle cry, _On to Paradise!_ they
rushed upon the Kûfa lances, and were slain to a man. Aly’s loss was

[Sidenote: The Khârejites again appear in the field. A.H. XXXVII. A.D.

It would have been better for the peace of Islam if none of the four
thousand had escaped. The snake was scotched, not killed. The fanatic
spirit was strangely catching; and the theocratic cause continued to be
canvassed vigorously and unceasingly, but in secret, at Bussorah and at
Kûfa. However hopeless the attainment of their object might appear, the
fanatics were nerved, if not by the expectation of Divine aid, at the
least by the sure hope of a Martyr’s crown. In the following year armed
bodies once and again appeared unexpectedly in the field, denouncing
Aly, and proclaiming that the Kingdom of the Lord was at hand. One
after another these bands of insurgent fanatics were cut to pieces, or
put to flight with ease. But the effect was unsettling; and it could
not but endamage the name and power of Aly, who now reaped the fruit
of his weak compromise with the enemies of Othmân, and his neglect to
bring them to justice. [Sidenote: They become a thorn in the Moslem
empire.]Fanatical in their extravagant doctrine, they were too sincere
to combine with any of the political sects, and hence they never came
near to leaving any permanent mark of their theocratic creed behind
them. But both at this period and in succeeding reigns, we find them
at intervals gathering up their strength to assail the empire, and as
often beaten back. Ever and anon, for years, and even for ages, these
_Khârejites_ still ‘went forth’[553] on their desperate errand, a
thorn in the side of the Caliphate, and a terror to the well-disposed.

                            CHAPTER XLIII.

                           REVOLT OF EGYPT.

                        A.H. XXXVIII. A.D. 658.

[Sidenote: Aly abandons the war against Syria. End of XXXVII. April,
A.D. 658.]

Having thus disposed of the fanatics at Nehrwân, and recrossed the
Tigris, Aly, at the head of his army, turned his face again towards
Syria. But the soldiers urged that, before setting out upon so long a
campaign, their armour needed refitting. ‘Let us return for a little
to our homes,’ they said, ‘to furbish up our swords and lances, and to
replenish our quivers.’ Aly consenting, they marched back and pitched
their camp at Nokheila. This being close to Kûfa, the soldiers dropped
off in small parties thither; and so it came to pass that, in a short
time, excepting commanding officers, the camp was left almost empty.
Aly, finding that no man returned, became impatient, and himself
re-entering Kûfa, again harangued the people on the obligation to go
forth with him and make war on Syria. But exhortation and reproach fell
equally on listless ears. There was no response. Aly lost heart. The
Syrian expedition fell through; and no attempt was made to resume it

[Sidenote: Position of Aly and Muâvia.]

Thus closed the thirty-seventh year of the Hegira. The situation was
unchanged. Muâvia, with now a colourable title to the Caliphate,
remained undisturbed in his position virtual monarch of Syria, strong
in the loyalty and affections of the province; while Aly, mortified by
an indifferent and partly alienated people, was now to experience a
severer trial.

We turn to Egypt. Before the Syrian war, as already stated, there was
a powerful faction in that dependency of Aly’s Caliphate, especially
at Kharanba, siding with those who demanded satisfaction for the
blood of Othmân; and Cays, having been recalled for leaving these
dissentients alone, Mohammed son of Abu Bekr had been appointed in his
room. [Sidenote: Egypt revolts. A.H. XXXVIII. A.D. 658.] Casting aside
the waiting policy of his wiser predecessor, Mohammed at once summoned
the recusants, either to submit themselves to him, or to be gone from
Egypt. They refused, but masking for the present their hostile designs,
watched the issue of the struggle at Siffîn. When the armies separated
from that battle-field, leaving Muâvia still master of Syria, they
gained heart and began to assume the offensive. A party sent against
them was defeated, and the leader slain; and a second attempt at
retrieving the loss met with a like fate. The slumbering elements of
revolt were everywhere aroused.

[Sidenote: Ashtar, appointed governor, is poisoned.]

Aly saw now the mistake which he had made, but too late. He would
have reappointed Cays; but Cays declined again to take the post. The
only other fitted for the emergency was Ashtar the regicide, whom he
summoned from his command at Nisibîn, and sent off in haste to Egypt.
But on the way he met with an untimely death, having been poisoned,
at the instigation (it is said) of Muâvia, by a chief on the Egyptian
border with whom he rested.[554] There was joy at the death of the
arch-regicide throughout the land of Syria, where he had been greatly
feared. Aly was equally cast down by the untoward event. His only
resource was now to bid Mohammed son of Abu Bekr hold on, and do what
he could to retrieve his position. [Sidenote: Mohammed killed and Egypt
conquered by Amru for Muâvia. Safar, A.H. XXXVIII. July, A.D. 658.]But
the faction which favoured Muâvia gained ground daily; and when,
shortly after, Amru, at the head of a few thousand men, crossed the
border, he was joined by an overwhelming body of insurgents. Mohammed,
after a vain attempt to meet his enemy in the field, was easily put
to flight. In the struggle he was killed, and his body ignominiously
burned in an ass’s skin.[555] Thus Egypt was lost to Aly; and Amru, as
the lieutenant of the rival Caliph, again became its governor.

[Sidenote: Mortification of Aly at the loss, and at the lukewarmness of

The loss of Egypt was the harder for Aly to bear, as undoubtedly it
might have been averted but for his removal of Cays; and even now it
might have been retrieved if the men of Kûfa had not been heartless in
his cause. Over and again he implored them to hasten to the defence of
Egypt. With difficulty two thousand men were got together; but after
so long a delay that they had hardly marched before news of the defeat
made it necessary to recall them. Aly thereupon ascended the pulpit,
and upbraided the people for their spiritless and disloyal attitude.
For fifty days, he had been urging them to go forth, to avenge their
fallen brethren, and to help those who were still struggling for him in
the field. Like a restive wayward camel, that refused its burden, they
had held back. ‘And now,’ he said, in grief and bitterness of spirit,
‘the son of Abu Bekr is fallen a martyr, and Egypt hath departed from

                             CHAPTER XLIV.

                     THE REMAINDER OF ALY’S REIGN.

                    A.H. XXXVIII.–XL. A.D. 658–660.

[Sidenote: Remainder of Aly’s reign.]

No gleam of fortune lighted up the remaining days of Aly’s reign. What
with the rising of fanatics at home, and the threats of the rival
Caliphate abroad, his life was one continual struggle. And, moreover,
the daily exhibition of indifference and disloyalty in Kûfa, the city
of his choice, was a burden and mortification hard to bear.

[Sidenote: Insurrection at Bussorah suppressed. A.H. XXXVIII. A.D. 658.]

The loss of Egypt, and the cruel death of Mohammed son of Abu Bekr,
preyed upon his mind. He withdrew into the strictest privacy. Ibn
Abbâs, fearful lest his cousin should resign the Caliphate, or do some
other rash and unadvised thing, set out from Bussorah to visit and
comfort him. This becoming known to Muâvia, he took the opportunity,
during the absence of Ibn Abbâs, to send an emissary with the view of
stirring up the disaffected elements at Bussorah. Among certain of the
clans, he was sure of finding many who, equally with himself, sought to
avenge the blood of Othmân; few were zealously attached to the cause
of Aly; the remainder were mostly _Khârejites_, of the theocratic
faction, now as hostile to Aly as to Muâvia himself. Abdallah, the
Syrian agent, carrying a letter to the citizens of Bussorah, was so
well received, that Ziâd, who held temporary charge of the city, was
forced to retire with the treasures and the gubernatorial pulpit into
the stronghold of a loyal clan, from whence he wrote for help to Kûfa.
Aly at once despatched a chief of influence among the Beni Rabia,
the leading tribe at Bussorah, who were by his persuasion induced
to rally round Ziâd. After severe and bloody fighting in the city,
attended by various success, the rebels were at last defeated, and
driven for refuge to a neighbouring castle. There they were surrounded,
and the castle having been set on fire, Abdallah, with seventy of his
followers, perished in the flames. The victory was decisive for the
time; but the insurrection had brought to light the alarming spread
of disaffection, and showed how precarious was Aly’s grasp upon the
Bedouin races of this factious city.

[Sidenote: Khârejite émeutes.]

The spirit of disturbance and unrest was not confined to Egypt and to
Bussorah. During the year, we read of five or six occasions on which
considerable bands of Khârejites were impelled by their theocratic
creed to go forth and raise the standard of rebellion. One after
another they met the common fate of slaughter and dispersion. But
though crushed, the frequent repetition of such desperate enterprises,
the fruit of a wild and reckless fanaticism, had a disturbing effect on
the capital and the empire at large. [Sidenote: Rebellion of Khirrît
in Southern Persia, A.H. XXXXVIII. A.D. 658.] The most serious of
these risings was that led by Khirrît; and it is the more remarkable,
because this chief had with his tribe, the Beni Nâjia, fought bravely
by the side of Aly in the battles both of the Camel and Siffîn. He
was now driven, like many others, by his strong convictions to rebel.
Boldly approaching the throne, he told Aly that since he, as Caliph,
had referred a Divine issue to the arbitration of man, he could obey
him no more, neither stand up behind him in the Mosque at prayer; but
henceforth was sworn to be his enemy. Aly, with his usual patience,
said that he would argue out the matter with him, and arranged a
meeting for the purpose. But the night before the appointed day,
Khirrît stole away from the city with all his following. ‘Gone,’ said
Aly, ‘to the devil; lost, like the doomed Thâmudites!’ They were
pursued, but by so small a party that they held it at bay, and in the
end effected their escape to Ahwâz and Râm Hormuz. There they raised
the Persians, Kurds, and Christian mountaineers, by the specious and
inflammatory cry that the payment of taxes to an ungodly Caliph must
be renounced. With a band of apostate Arabs, they kindled revolt
throughout the province of Fars, and put the governor to flight.
[Sidenote: suppressed, and Khirrît slain.]A force from Bussorah drove
them to the shores of the Indian Ocean. But luring the people by
delusive arguments and promises, they still gained head; and it was
not till after a bloody battle, in which Khirrît lost his life, that
the supremacy of the Caliphate was re-established in Southern Persia.
[Sidenote: Christian captives.]The Mussulman prisoners in this campaign
were set at liberty on their taking afresh the oath of allegiance; but
the Christians, five hundred in number, were all marched away to be
sold into captivity. The women and children, as they were torn from
their protectors, wailed with loud and bitter cries. The hearts of many
were softened. Mascala, Governor of Ardshîr, touched by the scene, took
upon himself the cost of ransoming these Christian captives, and set
them free. Aly, hearing of it, demanded from him immediate payment at
a thousand pieces for each captive; and Mascala, unable to pay down so
great a sum, fled and joined Muâvia.[556]

[Sidenote: Ziâd suppresses rebellion in Persia, A.H. XXXIX. A.D. 659,]

The defeat of the Khârejites did not at once restore peace to Persia;
for Fars and Kermân threw off their allegiance, and expelled their
governors. To quell the spreading insurrection, Aly was happy in the
selection of Ziâd, the Chancellor of Bussorah, a man, as we have seen,
of conspicuous administrative ability. He carried with him a great
court and retinue; but it was mainly by his ready tact in setting one
rebellious prince against another, and by well-appointed promises
and favours, that he succeeded in restoring peace. [Sidenote: and is
appointed Governor of Fars.]Aly recognised his service by conferring
on him the government of Fars; and his administration there became so
famous as to recall to Persian memories the happy age of Nushirwân. He
fixed his court at Istakhr (Persepolis), and built a castle there, in
connection with which his name was remembered for many ages following.

[Sidenote: Expeditions from Syria against Irâc. A.H. XXXVIII-IX. A.D.

Though successful thus in Persia, Aly was still subject to trouble and
molestation nearer home. Muâvia, relieved now from apprehension on the
side of Egypt, began to annoy his rival by frequent raids on Arabia and
the cities beyond the Syrian desert. The object was various--now to
ravage a province or surprise a citadel, now to exact the tithe from
the Bedouin tribes, or, again, to force upon them allegiance to the
Syrian Caliphate. Such inroads, though not always successful, inspired
a sense of insecurity; and, what was worse than that, they betrayed
more clearly than ever the lukewarmness of the people in the cause
of Aly. These would stir neither hand nor foot to repel the Syrians
invading cities so close to them even as Ain Tamr, Anbâr, and Hît.
[Sidenote: Safar, A.H. XXXIX. June, A.D. 659.] To show his displeasure
at their listlessness and disobedience, Aly went forth himself into
the field almost unattended. On this, the men of Kûfa, partly through
shame, partly lured by the promise of increased stipends, marched to
the defence of their frontier. During the year there were eight or ten
inroads of this kind from Syria. Though eventually repelled, it was
not always without loss in prisoners, plunder, and prestige. On one
occasion, however, Aly’s commander, with a flying column, pursued the
raiders back into the heart of Syria as far as Baalbek; and thence,
turning northward, escaped by Ricca again into Irâc. [Sidenote: Muâvia
visits Mosul.]On the other hand, Muâvia, to show his contempt for
the power of Aly, made an incursion right across the plain of Upper
Mesopotamia. For some days he remained encamped on the banks of the
Tigris; and, after leisurely inspecting Mosul, which he had never seen
before, made his way back again to Damascus unmolested.

[Sidenote: Raid of Bosor on Medîna, Mecca, and Yemen. A.H. XL. A.D.

The fortieth year of the Hegira opened with a new grief for Aly. At the
close of the year preceding, as the annual pilgrimage drew near, Muâvia
sent Bosor, a brave but cruel captain of his host, with three thousand
men into Arabia, to secure for him the allegiance of the sacred cities.
As he drew nigh to Medîna, Abu Ayûb, the governor, fled to Kûfa, and
Bosor entered unopposed. Proceeding to the Great Mosque, he mounted
the sacred steps of the Prophet’s pulpit, and, recalling Othmân to
mind, thus addressed the people: ‘O citizens of Medîna! The Aged Man!
Where is the aged, grey-haired man whom, but as yesterday, and in
this very place, I swore allegiance to? Verily, but for my promise to
Muâvia, who bade me stay the sword, I had not left here a soul alive!’
Then he threatened the leading citizens with death if they refused to
acknowledge Muâvia as their Caliph; and so, fearing for their lives,
all took the oath of allegiance to the Omeyyad ruler. Passing on to
Mecca, the same scene was enacted by the imperious envoy there, and
with the same result.[557] Then he marched south to Yemen, where he
committed great atrocities upon the adherents of Aly. [Sidenote: He
slays the infant children of Aly’s cousin.]The governor, Obeidallah
son of Abbâs, escaped to his cousin at Kûfa. But two of his little
children, falling into the tyrant’s hands, were put to death in cold
blood, as well as their Bedouin attendant, who ventured to protest
against the cruel act. An army of four thousand men was despatched in
haste from Kûfa, but too late to stop these outrages; and Bosor made
good his escape to Syria. The wretched peninsula fared no better at the
hands of the relieving army. Many of the inhabitants of Najrân were
put to death, because they belonged to the party of Othmân. The men of
Mecca were forced to recall the oath they had just taken, and again do
homage to Aly. Similarly, the citizens of Medîna swore allegiance to
Hasan, son of Aly, at the point of the sword;[558] but no sooner were
the troops gone, than Abu Horeira, of the opposite faction, resumed
his functions as leader of the daily prayers. The cruel death of his
cousin’s infant children preyed on Aly more, perhaps, than all his
other troubles put together; and he cursed Bosor in the daily service
with a new and bitter imprecation. The disconsolate mother poured forth
her sorrow in plaintive verse, some touching couplets of which still

[Sidenote: Abdallah son of Abbâs retires to Mecca.]

Yet another grief was in store for Aly. He had promoted his cousins,
the sons of Abbâs, to great dignity, giving the chief command in
Yemen to one, in Mecca to another, in Medîna to a third; while
Abdallah, the eldest, held the government of Bussorah, the second
city in his Caliphate. Complaints having reached the Court of certain
irregularities in the administration of Bussorah, Aly called upon his
cousin to render an account. Scorning to answer the demand, Abdallah
threw up his office, and, carrying his treasures with him, retired
to Mecca. Aly was much mortified at this unfriendly act; and still
more so by the desertion of his own brother, Ackîl, who went over to

[Sidenote: Aly, broken in spirit, concludes truce with Muâvia. A.H. XL.
A.D. 660.]

These troubles, crowding rapidly one upon another, entirely broke the
spirit of Aly. He had no longer the heart to carry on hostilities with
Syria. If he might secure the Eastern provinces in peaceful subjection
to himself, it was all that he could hope for now. Accordingly, after
lengthened correspondence, an armistice was concluded between Aly and
Muâvia, by which they agreed to lay aside their arms, respect the
territory of each other, and maintain a friendly attitude.

[Sidenote: The double Caliphate.]

It is possible that a double Caliphate thus recognised, in two
separate and independent empires, by the Rulers of the East and of the
West, might have been prolonged indefinitely, or even handed down in
perpetuity, had not the tragical event occurred which will be narrated
in the following chapter.

                             CHAPTER XLV.

                         ASSASSINATION OF ALY.

                          A.H. XL. A.D. 661.

[Sidenote: Three Khârejite fanatics conspire to assassinate Aly,
Muâvia, and Amru. A.H. XL. A.D. 661.]

The theocratic Separatists were sorely troubled at the prospects of
Islam. It was not that raids and robbery, dissension and strife, had
been the order of the day. That they could bear, for bloodshed was
more tolerable than apostasy. To the Khârejite, the cessation of war
brought with it no peace of mind. A settled government was the ruin
of his hopes. Aly having come to terms with Muâvia, there was no
longer room to expect that the ungodly kingdoms of the earth would
be overthrown, and the reign of righteousness established in their
stead. Thus the theocratic party brooded over the blood that had been
shed in vain upon the plain of Nehrwân and other fields of battle,
and for the present abandoned themselves to despair. Many took refuge
from the godless tyranny (as they called it) prevailing all around,
in the sacred precincts of the Hejâz, where they might lament freely
with one another over the miserable fate of Islam. As three of these
thus mourned together, a gleam of hope suddenly shot across their
path. ‘Our blood need not have been thus shed in vain; let each of us
kill one of the three oppressors of the Faithful; Islam may yet again
be free, and the reign of the Lord appear.’ It was one of the band
of regicides that spoke; and so, as in the case of Othmân, but under
another guise and urged by bolder hopes, the three again conspired
against the State. The fatal resolve once taken, details were speedily
arranged. Aly and Muâvia both must fall; and Amru also, not only as
the godless Arbitrator, but also as the likeliest successor to the
throne left vacant by the other two. Each was to dispose of his fellow,
as he presided at the morning service, on the same Friday when, in the
month of Ramadhân, the cathedral Mosques of Kûfa, Damascus, and Fostât
would be thronged with fasting worshippers. They dipped their swords
in a powerful poison; and separated from one another, swearing that
they would either fulfil the task or perish in the attempt. [Sidenote:
Amru escapes.]Amru escaped. He was sick that day, and the captain of
his guard, presiding in the Mosque at prayers, fell a victim in his
stead.[561] [Sidenote: Muâvia wounded, but recovers.]At Damascus,
Muâvia was not so fortunate.[562] The blow fell upon him, and was near
to being fatal. His physician declared that his life could be saved
only by the cautery, or by a potent draught that would deprive him of
the hope of further progeny. He shrank from the cautery, and chose the
draught. The remedy was effectual, and he survived.

[Sidenote: Aly attacked by assassins in the Mosque of Kûfa.]

At Kûfa things turned out differently. The conspirator Ibn Muljam,
one of the Egyptian regicides, was able there to gain two desperate
accomplices from the Beni Taym. The tribe, deeply imbued with the
fanaticism of the day, had suffered severely in the massacre of
Nehrwân, and ever since had nursed its resentment against the Caliph.
Ibn Muljam loved Catâm, a beautiful maid of the same tribe, who having
on that fatal day lost her father, her brother, and other near
relatives, was roused thereby to a savage ardour. ‘Bring me,’ said
the maid to her lover, ‘the head of Aly as my dower; if thou escapest
alive, thou shalt enjoy me as thy guerdon here; if thou perish, thou
shalt enjoy better than me above,’ So she introduced him to Werdân, a
warrior burning with the same spirit of revenge, and also to another
accomplice, named Shuhîb, On the appointed morning, the latter, with
Ibn Muljam, lay in wait on either side of the door leading into the
crowded Mosque; if their blows should fail, Werdân, stationed outside,
was in the confusion to rush upon Aly, and complete the work. At the
time appointed, the Caliph entered the Mosque calling aloud as usual,
_To prayers, ye people! To prayers!_ Immediately he was set upon
on either hand. Shuhîb’s sword fell upon the lintel; but Ibn Muljam
wounded the Caliph severely on the head and side. He was seized. The
other two fled; one was cut to pieces, the other escaped in the tumult.
Aly was carried into the palace, but retained strength sufficient to
question the assassin, who was brought before him. Ibn Muljam declared
boldly, that the deed had been forty days in contemplation; and during
all that time he had prayed without ceasing to the Lord, ‘that the
Wickedest of mankind might meet his fate.’ ‘Then,’ replied Aly, ‘that
must have been thyself.’ So saying, he turned to his son, Hasan, and
bade him keep the assassin in close custody: ‘If I die, his life is
forfeited to justice, and he shall be slain for the deed he hath done;
but see,’ said he, ‘that thou mutilate him not, for that was forbidden
by the Prophet.’ During the day Omm Kolthûm went into the assassin’s
cell and cursed him, adding, what no doubt she was fain to believe,
‘My father shall yet live.’ ‘Then, Lady,’ replied the fanatic, ‘whence
these tears? Listen. That sword I bought for a thousand pieces, and a
thousand more it cost to poison it. None may escape a wound from it.’

It soon became evident that the wound indeed was mortal. They asked
the Caliph whether if he died, it was his will that Hasan, his eldest
son, should succeed to the throne. [Sidenote: Aly’s death. 17 Ramadhân,
A.H. XL. Jan. 25, A.D. 661.] Still true to the elective principle, Aly
answered: ‘I do not command this, neither do I forbid it. See ye to
it.’ Then he called Hasan and Hosein to his bedside, and counselled
them to be steadfast in piety and resignation to the will of God, and
to be kind to their younger brother, the son of his Hanifite wife.
After that he wrote his testament, and continuing to repeat the name
of the Lord to the end, so breathed his last. When they had performed
the funeral obsequies, Hasan arraigned the assassin before him.
Nothing daunted, Ibn Muljam said: ‘I made a covenant with the Lord
before the holy House at Mecca, that I would slay both Aly and Muâvia.
Now, if thou wilt, I shall go forth and kill the other, or perish in
the attempt. If I succeed, I will return and swear allegiance unto
thee.’ ‘Nay,’ said Hasan, ‘not before thou hast tasted of the fire.’
[Sidenote: Ibn Muljam put to death.]He was put to death, and the body,
tied up in a sack, was committed to the flames.[563]

[Sidenote: Aly’s burial-place unknown.]

Tradition, strange to say, is silent, and opinion uncertain, as to
where the body of Aly lies. Some believe that he was buried in the
cathedral Mosque at Kûfa, others in the palace.[564] Certainly, his
tomb was never, in early times, the object of any care or veneration.
The same indifference attached to his memory throughout the realm of
Islam, as had attached to his person during life, and it was not till
that generation had passed away that the sentiment of reverence and
regard for the husband of the Prophet’s daughter, and father of his
only surviving progeny, began to show itself.

[Sidenote: His family.]

Aly died about sixty years of age. His troubled and contested reign
had lasted but four years and nine months. For a time (like Mahomet
himself) he had been content with a single wife, the Prophet’s daughter
Fâtima, by whom he had three sons and two daughters, the progenitors of
the Synd race--the nobility of Islam.[565] After she died, he took many
women into his harem, both free and servile; by whom he had, in all,
eleven sons and fifteen daughters. Aly was a tender-hearted father. In
his old age, a little girl was born to him, with whose prattle he would
beguile his troubles; for he had her always on his knee, and doted on
her with a special love.[566]

[Sidenote: Forbearance and magnanimity of Aly.]

In the character of Aly there are many things to commend. Mild and
beneficent, he treated the rebel city of Bussorah, when prostrate at
his feet (as Mahomet had done the ungrateful city of his birth) with
a generous forbearance. Towards the theocratic fanatics, who wearied
his patience by incessant intrigue and insensate rebellion, he showed
no vindictiveness. Excepting Muâvia (the man of all others whom he
ought not to have estranged) he carried his policy of conciliation to
a dangerous extreme. [Sidenote: Procrastination and compromise, his
failings.]In compromise indeed, and in procrastination, lay the failure
of his Caliphate. With greater vigour, spirit, and determination, he
might have maintained the integrity of the empire and averted the
schism which for a time threatened the existence of Islam, and is felt
in its debilitating influences to the present day.

[Sidenote: Aly wise in counsel.]

Aly was wise in counsel, and many an adage and sapient proverb has
been attributed to him. But, like Solomon, his wisdom was more for
others than for himself. His career cannot be characterised otherwise
than as a failure. On the election of Abu Bekr, influenced probably by
Fâtima, who claimed and was denied a share in her father’s property,
Aly retired for a time into private life. Thereafter we find him
taking part in the counsels of Abu Bekr and his successors, and even
performing the functions of chief judicial officer. But he never
asserted the leading position, which, as the cousin and son-in-law
of the Prophet, might have been expected of him; nor is there aught
(excepting party-coloured and distorted tradition) to show that this
was due to any other cause than his own easy and inactive temperament.
[Sidenote: The blot upon his escutcheon.]There is one indelible blot
on the escutcheon of Aly--the flagrant breach of duty he was guilty
of towards his sovereign ruler. He had sworn allegiance to Othmân,
and by him he was bound to have stood in his last extremity. Instead,
he held ignobly aloof, while the Caliph fell a victim to red-handed
treason. Nor can the plea avail that he was himself in the hands of
the insurgents. Had there been a loyal will to help, there would have
been a ready way. In point of fact, his attitude gave colour to the
charge even of collusion.[567] And herein Aly must be held accountable
not only for a grave dereliction of duty, but for a fatal error, which
shook the stability of the Caliphate itself, as he was not long in
finding to his cost.

[Sidenote: Divine Imâmate, a late fiction.]

There is no trace whatever, in the history of those times, of the
extravagant claims made in later days for Aly and his family. Clearly
none of these were regarded during their lifetime with any respect
or veneration beyond that which was due to their relationship with
the Prophet.[568] On the contrary, we find that even in their own
capital and provinces, there prevailed towards them an utter want of
enthusiasm and loyalty, amounting at times to positive disaffection.
The fiction of the Divine _Imâmship_ was a reaction from the
tragedy at Kerbala (to be told below) and the cruel fate of the
Prophet’s descendants. And the superstition, fostered by Alyite and
Abbasside faction, soon formed a powerful lever which was skilfully
and unscrupulously used in the busy canvass to overthrow the Omeyyad

                             CHAPTER XLVI.


                       A.H. XL., XLI. A.D. 661.

[Sidenote: Hasan succeeds his father Aly. Ramadhân, A.H. XL. Jan. A.D.

When they had committed Aly, we know not where, to his last home, the
people, following the example of Cays ibn Sád, whose influence at the
Court of Baghdad continued undiminished, did homage, as it were by
common consent, to Hasan, the departed Caliph’s eldest son. But Hasan
was a poor-spirited creature, more intent on varying the charms of his
ever-changing harem than on the business of public life, and altogether
unworthy of his descent as the grandson of the Prophet.[569]

[Sidenote: But, attacked by Muâvia, and mobbed by his own troops,]

It was, therefore, now Muâvia’s opportunity for asserting his title to
the whole Moslem empire. Already, in accordance with Amru’s verdict
at the Arbitration, he was recognised as Caliph throughout Syria and
Egypt.[570] Resenting the succession of Hasan to his father’s power at
Kûfa, Muâvia at once gathered a powerful army and marched to invade
Irâc. No sooner was this intelligence received, than the men of Kûfa,
impatient at the prospect of falling under the rule of Syria, rallied
beneath their new Caliph’s standard, and an army forty thousand strong
was ready to repel the attack.[571] But Hasan had no stomach for the
war. Sending forward his vanguard of twelve thousand men under the
brave and faithful Cays, he followed himself irresolutely; and, with
the bulk of his army, rested at Medâin amidst the luxurious gardens of
the old Persian Court.[572] While thus ignobly holding back, the report
gained currency at Medâin that Cays had been defeated on the plains of
Mesopotamia, and slain. An émeute ensued. The troops rose mutinously
upon the Caliph. They rushed into his sumptuous pavilion, and plundered
the royal tents even to the carpets. A project was set on foot to seize
his person, and, by delivering him up to Muâvia, thus make favourable
terms. The faint-hearted Caliph, alarmed at these demonstrations,
took refuge in the Great White Palace, a more congenial residence for
him than the martial camp; and, trusting no longer to his fickle and
disloyal people, sent letters to Muâvia offering to submit. [Sidenote:
abdicates in favour of Muâvia July, A.D. 661.]Hasan agreed to
abdicate and retire to Medîna, on condition that he should retain the
contents of the treasury, five million pieces; that he should receive
for his support the revenues of a Persian district; and further, that
the imprecation against his father should be dropped from the public
prayers. Muâvia granted the first two requests; and as for the third,
he consented that no prayer against Aly should be recited within
hearing of his son. The truce was ratified accordingly on the 24th day
of Rabî I.

After a brief and inglorious reign of only five or six months, Hasan,
with his household and belongings, retired to the Hejâz. The people of
Kûfa, we are told, wept at their departure. But Hasan left them without
regret. It was a race, he said, in whom no trust could be reposed, and
who had set purpose neither for good nor for evil.[573]

[Sidenote: Cays submits to Muâvia.]

Cays, whose ability and prowess were worthy of a better cause, remained
for some little while longer in the field. But at length, having
obtained terms for all his soldiers who had been fighting on the side
of Aly, and there being no longer any master left to fight for, he laid
down his arms and recognised Muâvia as supreme.[574]

[Sidenote: Muâvia sole and undisputed Caliph.]

Thus, at last, Muâvia was able to make a triumphal entry into Kûfa.
Having received the homage of that city and of the Eastern provinces,
he returned to Syria sole and undisputed Caliph of Islam; and Damascus
thenceforth became the capital of the empire.

[Sidenote: Continued imprecation against the house of Aly.]

The imprecations against the memory of Aly, his house, and his
adherents, still formed part of the public service at Damascus. The
curse, indeed, continued to be so used throughout the whole period of
Omeyyad ascendency.[575]

                            CHAPTER XLVII.

                      SOME BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICES.

                              A.H. XL.-L.

[Sidenote: Biographical notices.]

Before passing on to the brief remainder of this work, I purpose to
notice shortly the sequel of one or two of the leading men still left
at Aly’s death upon the stage.

[Sidenote: Hasan, son of Aly, poisoned by his wife.]

Hasan, the short-lived Caliph, retired to Medîna, where, with ample
means to gratify his ruling passion, he lived in ease and quietness,
giving no further anxiety to Muâvia. He survived eight years, and met
his death by poison at the hand of one of his wives. It was a not
unnatural end for ‘Hasan the Divorcer;’ but Alyite tradition would have
us to believe that the lady was bribed by the Caliph to commit the
crime, and thus exalt the libertine to the dignity of a martyr.[576] Of
his brother Hosein, we shall hear more anon.

[Sidenote: Amru.]

Amru remained in the government of Egypt till his death, A.H.
43. He died seventy-three years of age, and penitent, we are told,
for all his misdeeds. His life was one of the most eventful in this
history. No man influenced more than he the fortunes of the Caliphate.
Brave in the field, astute in counsel, coarse and unscrupulous in word
and action, it was mainly to Amru that Muâvia owed his ascendency over
Aly, and the eventual establishment of the Omeyyad dynasty. He was four
years Governor of Egypt under Omar; he continued in the same post a
like period under Othmân, who by his recall in an evil hour made him
his enemy; and, finally reappointed by Muâvia on the defeat of Mohammed
son of Abu Bekr, he was still at his death the Governor of Egypt. One
of his sons succeeded him, but not for any lengthened period.[577]

[Sidenote: Moghîra appointed Governor of Kûfa.]

The vicissitudes in the career of Moghîra were hardly less surprising
than in that of Amru. Clever and designing, he survived the disgrace
of his fall at Bussorah, and rose again to influence at court. He was
eventually placed by Muâvia in the most difficult and coveted post of
the empire, the government, namely, of the no longer regal Kûfa, to
which was added the northern district of Persia. By his shrewd and firm
administration, he held under strict control that fickle and restless
city, still betrayed ever and anon into theocratic outbursts, or (the
new trouble of the empire) into treasonable demonstrations in favour of
the race of Aly.

[Sidenote: Ziâd, Governor of Southern Persia, gives in his adhesion to
Muâvia. A.H. XLII. A.D. 662.]

But, perhaps, the service of greatest value which Moghîra rendered to
his sovereign, was that he induced Ziâd, now holding powerful command
in the south of Persia, to tender his allegiance. The son of a vagrant
bond-woman, whom Abu Sofiân before his conversion chanced to meet at
Tâyif, Ziâd had overcome, by the faithful and diligent application of
his high abilities, the disadvantage of servile birth. His merits as
Chancellor of the Treasury at Bussorah had been recognised by Omar, and
he had risen both under Othmân and Aly to the most important commands
in Bussorah and Southern Persia. Eloquent in address, and powerful
in administration, he was by far the ablest statesman of the day.
Firmly attached to the cause of Aly, he retained his animosity towards
Muâvia, even after Hasan’s abdication; and as Governor of Istakhr
(Persepolis) was a thorn in the side of the Caliphate. Moghîra, who
had not forgotten that he owed his escape from the capital charge of
adultery to the partial evidence of Ziâd,[578] maintained friendly
relations with him, and in the forty-second year of the Hegira was
deputed by Muâvia to the magnificent viceregal court of Istakhr, and
there persuaded him to tender his submission. Under a safe-conduct, he
appeared before the Caliph at Damascus, and presented, in token of his
adhesion, a purse of a thousand golden pieces. He was dismissed with
every token of honour, and confirmed in his Persian government.

[Sidenote: Muâvia declares Ziâd, as son of Abu Sofiân, his brother.
A.H. XLV.]

Not long afterwards a curious episode in his history disturbed the
equanimity of the Moslem public. Muâvia formally recognised Ziâd as
the son of his own father Abu Sofiân, and therefore as his brother.
The open acknowledgment of the relationship created a serious scandal
throughout Islam, because it was held to contravene the law of
legitimacy, and still more because it made Omm Habîba, one of the
‘Mothers of the Faithful,’ and daughter also of Abu Sofiân, to be the
sister of an adulterous issue. Even the Beni Omeyyad, Muâvia’s own
kinsfolk, were displeased at the affront put upon the purity of their
blood. But the feeling passed away when it was seen that a pillar of
iron strength had been gained to the Omeyyad side.[579] [Sidenote: Ziâd
appointed Governor of Bussorah, and eventually of Kûfa.]In the year
45 A.H., Ziâd was made Governor of Bussorah, and of the whole
of Southern Persia, from the Straits of Omân to the river Indus. His
strong hand fell heavily on the restless population of Bussorah: the
city was patrolled incessantly by an armed police of a thousand men.
None might venture abroad at night on pain of death; and so ruthless
was the order, that an unlucky Arab, who had wandered unawares into
the precincts of the town, was tried and deliberately executed for the
involuntary offence. Both at the Mosque and the palace, and whenever he
went abroad, Ziâd was attended in Oriental guise by silver-sticks and
lictors, and a body-guard of five hundred soldiers waited at his gate.
The supremacy of law, or, as it might perhaps be called, the reign of
terror, was new at Bussorah, but it effectually repressed rebellion;
and the same may also be said of Kûfa, to which, on Moghîra’s death,
Ziâd was translated. This stern administration was but a foretaste of
the hard and cruel régime which, later on, found its climax in the
bloody rule of Hajjâj; the son of Yusûf.

[Sidenote: Design of removing Mahomet’s pulpit to Damascus.]

In the fiftieth year of the Hegira, we are told that Muâvia entertained
a project for removing the pulpit and staff of the Prophet from Medîna,
the rebellious scene of Othmân’s murder, to Damascus, now the capital
of Islam. But the impious project was, by Divine interposition,
checked. For, ‘on its being touched, the pulpit trembled fearfully,
and the sun was darkened, so that the very stars shone forth, and
men were terrified at the prodigies.’ The tradition is significant
of the superstitious regard in which everything connected with the
Prophet’s person was held. It is not unlikely that Muâvia did entertain
the sacrilegious design; but, if so, he was dissuaded from it by Abu
Horeira, who urged that where the Prophet had placed his pulpit and his
staff, there they should remain. And so they were left as relics in the
Great Mosque hard by the dwelling-place of Mahomet.[580]

                            CHAPTER XLVIII.

                         BECOMES A PRECEDENT.

                          A.H. LVI. A.D. 676.

[Sidenote: Precedents for nomination or election to the Caliphate.]

The election of a Caliph on each recurring succession, excepting only
that of Omar, had been followed by the risk of serious perils to the
peace of Islam. The choice was supposed to be a privilege vested in
the inhabitants of Medîna--‘Citizens,’ as well as ‘Refugees;’ but the
practice had been various, and the rule had been oftener broken than
observed. The Prophet himself nominated no one. Abu Bekr may be said
to have been chosen by acclamation.[581] Abu Bekr, on his death-bed,
named Omar his successor. And Omar, establishing yet another precedent,
placed the nomination in the hands of Electors. It is true that on
the two last-named occasions, the choice was ratified by the homage
of Medîna; but that was little more than the formal recognition of
an appointment already made. At the fourth succession, the election
of Aly, though carried out under the compulsion of insurgent bands,
resembled somewhat the popular election of the first Caliph. Then
followed the unsuccessful rebellion of Talha and Zobeir, based on the
allegation that homage had been extorted from them under pressure.
After that, ensued the struggle between Muâvia, the _de facto_
sovereign of Syria, and Aly, which ended in the irregular recognition
of Muâvia as Caliph upon the so-called Arbitration of Dûma, and in the
double Caliphate. On the death of Aly, who (we are told) declined to
nominate a successor, his son Hasan was elected, not, as heretofore,
by the people of Medîna, but by the citizens of Kûfa. And, finally, we
have the first example of abdication, when Hasan resigned his rights
into the hands of Muâvia, and left him sole Caliph of Islam.

[Sidenote: The initiative in election no longer at Medîna.]

Whatever the rights of Medîna originally may have been, circumstances
had now materially altered the only practical means of exercising
them. Having been abandoned as the seat of government, the privilege
of choosing a Caliph, or of confirming his nomination, however much it
may have vested by prescription in the citizens of Medîna, had become
an anachronism now. The succession, as in the case of Hasan, followed
necessarily, and at once, upon the death of the reigning Caliph, and
Medîna could only ratify what had taken place elsewhere. The functions
of the citizens of Medîna were thus, from the course of events,
transferred to the inhabitants of the seat of government, wheresoever
it might be.

[Sidenote: Danger surrounding each succession.]

Again, that which had happened after the election of Aly, might happen
again at any fresh accession to the throne. Zobeir and Talha raised
the standard of revolt on the plea that their oath was taken under
compulsion; while between Aly and Muâvia, there followed a long and
doubtful contest. The internecine struggle had imperilled the existence
of Islam. Not only had the ranks of the Faithful been seriously thinned
by the blood shed on either side; but, from without, enemies might
at any moment have taken advantage of the strife. Muâvia, in point
of fact, made a truce with the Byzantine Court while the civil war
impended. But if a similar opportunity again offered, the foes of Islam
might not be so forbearing, and a fatal wound might be inflicted thus
upon the empire torn by intestine conflict.

Influenced by such considerations, as well, no doubt, as by the desire
of maintaining the Caliphate in his own line, Muâvia entertained
the project of declaring his son, Yezîd, to be the Heir Apparent.
[Sidenote: Muâvia’s design to nominate his son Heir Apparent.]By
securing thus an oath of fealty to his son throughout the Moslem world,
he would anticipate the event of his own decease, and thus prevent
the peril of a contested election when it did occur. Ziâd, summoned
to advise, was favourable to the design, but enjoined deliberation,
and a preliminary cautious canvass throughout the provinces. He also
counselled Yezîd, who was devoted to the chase and careless of public
affairs, to amend his ways in preparation for the throne, and show
before the people a character more fitted for the high dignity in store
for him. Moghîra likewise was strongly in favour of the scheme.[582]
But it was not till both these counsellors had passed away, that Muâvia
found himself in a position to proceed with the design.

[Sidenote: Yezîd declared Heir Apparent. A.H. LVI. A.D. 676.]

So soon as Muâvia felt secure of adequate support, and especially that
Medîna would not resent the invasion of its elective privilege,[583]
provision was made that deputations from all the provinces, and also
from the chief cities, should present themselves before the Caliph at
Damascus. These, received in state, affected to press the nomination;
and accordingly, without further ceremony, the oath of allegiance was
taken by all present to Yezîd as next successor to the Caliphate.
Syria and Irâc, having without demur tendered their homage to the
same effect, Muâvia set out for the Hejâz, followed by a retinue of
a thousand horse, ostensibly to perform the Lesser Pilgrimage, but
in reality to obtain the assent of the Holy Cities to what had been
enacted at Damascus and elsewhere. [Sidenote: Mecca and Medîna forced
to swear allegiance.]The leading dissentients at Medîna were Hosein
the second son of Aly, the son of Zobeir, Abd al Rahmân son of Abu
Bekr, and the son of Omar. Muâvia received them roughly as they came
out to meet him on his entry into the city; and so, to avoid further
mortification, they departed at once for Mecca. The remainder of
the citizens ratified the nomination of Yezîd, and took the oath
accordingly. Continuing his progress, and having arrived at Mecca,
Muâvia carried himself blandly towards the people of the Holy City
during the first few days of his visit, which were occupied with the
rites of pilgrimage. But as the time of departure drew nigh, he stood
up to address them on his errand; and although his speech was gilded
with many plausible assurances that the privileges of the Sacred places
would be religiously respected, there was at the first no response.
Then arose Abdallah son of Zobeir, and boldly said that the oath of
homage to an Heir Apparent would be opposed to all the precedents of
Islam. To such cavils, the Caliph, in answer, urged the danger in which
Islam was continually placed from the risk of a contested succession
followed by renewed bloodshed. The various objections then raised may
thus be summarised: ‘We shall consent,’ the spokesmen said, ‘to any one
of these three things. _First_, do as the Prophet did, and leave
the election absolutely to the citizens of Medîna. Or, _secondly_,
do as Abu Bekr did, and nominate a successor from amongst the
Coreish.[584] Or, _thirdly_, like Omar, appoint Electors who
shall, from amongst the same, choose a candidate to succeed thee.
Only, like Abu Bekr and Omar, thou must exclude thine own sons and thy
Father’s sons.’ ‘As for the first course,’ replied the Caliph, ‘there
is no one now left like unto Abu Bekr, that the people might choose
him. As for the rest, verily I fear the contentions and war that would
ensue were not the succession fixed aforehand.’ Then, finding all his
arguments wasted in the air, he called out the body-guard, and at the
point of the sword caused all the city to take the oath.

[Sidenote: Muâvia’s action becomes precedent for future successions;
even among Abassides.]

The example of Syria, Irâc, and the Holy Cities, was followed by the
whole empire without reserve. And ever after, the precedent of Muâvia
more or less prevailed; that is to say, succession to the Caliphate
was based partly on descent, partly on the choice of the reigning
Caliph, his nomination being confirmed by an oath of fealty taken
first by the inhabitants at the seat of government, and then generally
throughout the empire. The last condition, representing the fiction
that the elective power was vested in the body of the Faithful, became
almost nominal, and the oath of allegiance was consequently enforced
by force of arms against recusants. The practice thus was for the
Commander of the Faithful to proclaim as his successor the fittest,
the noblest born, or the most favoured, of his sons, or (in default of
immediate issue) the best qualified amongst his kinsmen. To him, as
Heir Apparent, a provisional and anticipatory oath of fealty was taken
during his father’s lifetime; and the succession, as a rule, was guided
by that choice. Sometimes even two successions were thus anticipated,
the reigning prince making a double nomination; but such attempt to
forestall the distant future was calculated to breed, rather than
prevent, dissension.[585]

The practice thus begun by the Omeyyads, was followed equally by the
Abbassides; and proved a precedent even for later times.

                             CHAPTER XLIX.


                          A.H. LXI. A.D. 680.

[Sidenote: Death of Muâvia. Rajab, A.H. LX. April, A.D. 680.]

After a reign of unusual length and prosperity, Muâvia came to die at
nearly eighty years of age. As he felt the end approaching, he brought
forth a casket with parings in it of the Prophet’s nails. Of these
ground fine, he bade them sprinkle the powder in his eyes and mouth
when dead; and then bury him, for a winding-sheet, in a garment which
Mahomet gave him. Fortune had favoured his rule. For twenty years he
was Governor of Syria, and nearly as many more the acknowledged Caliph
of all Islam. Since the abdication of Hasan, there had been, for the
most part, profound peace throughout the empire. Wise, courageous,
and forbearing, he held the dangerous and discordant elements that
surrounded him in check;[586] consolidated, and even extended, the
already vast area of Islam; and nursed commerce and the arts of peace,
so that they greatly flourished in his time.

[Sidenote: His dying advice to Yezîd.]

But he looked to the future with anxiety. The experiment of nominating
Yezîd his successor was sure to meet with opposition when he was gone.
So from his death-bed he sent a message to Yezîd, who was absent at his
huntingquarters, warning him of those against whom he must be on his
guard. There were only four, he said, of whom, as former recusants,
he need specially beware; Abdallah son of Omar, Hosein son of Aly,
Abdallah son of Zobeir, and Abd al Rahmân son of Abu Bekr. The first,
a pious devotee, would surely succumb. The last might be persuaded by
his fellows to set up his claim; but he was too much engrossed with
the pleasures of the harem to be the cause of much anxiety.[587] ‘As
for Hosein,’ he continued, ‘the factious people of Irâc will not leave
him alone till he shall attempt the empire; when thou hast gotten the
victory, then deal gently with him, for verily the Prophet’s blood
runneth in his veins. It is the Son of Zobeir that I fear the most
for thee. Fierce as the lion, and crafty as the fox;--when within thy
grasp, destroy him root and branch, leaving not a vestige behind.’

[Sidenote: Hosein and the Son of Zobeir escape to Mecca.]

The first care of Yezîd on ascending the throne was to require the
recusants who had objected to his nomination as Heir Apparent, to
swear allegiance to him now as Caliph. These resided at Medîna, and on
the summons of the governor, two of them, the sons of Omar and Abbâs
(the latter, progenitor of the Abbassides), at once complied with the
command. But Abdallah son of Zobeir, and Hosein son of Aly, hesitated;
and, under cover of delay for considering the matter, both of them
escaped to Mecca.

[Sidenote: Ibn Zobeir dissembles.]

Since its capture by Mahomet, fifty years before, no enemy dared to go
up against the Holy City; and there, in like security with the doves
fluttering around the temple, whom no man might molest, conspirators,
abusing the privilege of asylum, were able to hatch their plots against
the empire. The ambition of Abdallah ibn Zobeir, as Muâvia foresaw,
aimed at the Caliphate; but so long as Hosein remained at Mecca, he
dissembled his intentions, and professed to yield to the superior
claims of the Prophet’s grandson.

The house of Aly was still, after a fashion, popular at Kûfa.
[Sidenote: Hosein invited to Kûfa.]The fond and fickle populace of
that factious city now turned their eyes in the direction of Aly’s
second son, Hosein. Invitations began to pour in upon him from thence,
with promises of support, if he would but appear at Kûfa and claim his
regal rights. Within a short space after reaching Mecca, he received
one hundred and fifty missives of the kind. His friends pointed
faithfully to the slippery ways of the men of Kûfa, and earnestly
besought him that he would not trust himself amongst them there. But
Ibn Zobeir, longing to be rid of his rival, fostered the ambitious
design. [Sidenote: Muslim, sent in advance, put to death at Kûfa.]The
unfortunate prince in an evil hour was thus tempted to accept the call.
He sent, however, his cousin Muslim first, to feel the way, and promote
his cause in Kûfa. Yezîd, hearing of the plot, deputed Obeidallah
son of Ziâd, his most capable lieutenant, from Bussorah, to take the
command at Kûfa. Muslim was discovered, soon after his arrival, lurking
in the house of Hâni, a friend to the lineage of Aly. The populace,
taking an unexpected turn in his favour, rose upon Obeidallah, and
besieging him in his castle, went near to turning the tables against
him. The ebullition, however, subsided almost as quickly as it arose.
Obeidallah regained the lead, and Muslim, with his protector Hâni, was
put to death.[588]

[Sidenote: Hosein sets out for Kûfa. Dzul Hijj, A.H. LX. Sept. A.D.

Meanwhile, Hosein, heedless of the remonstrances of Ibn Abbâs and
other faithful friends, started from Mecca, with his whole family and
household, escorted by a small but devoted band of his adherents. He
had already passed the great desert, and was well advanced on the road
to Kûfa, when tidings reached him of the fate of Muslim and Hâni. He
was staggered by the intelligence. It might well have seemed the height
of madness, encumbered as he was with the ladies of his household, to
venture himself into a hostile city; and it was yet possible for him
to have retraced his steps. But the brothers of Muslim were clamorous
with him to avenge his blood; and there was still the hope, a forlorn
hope indeed, that the numerous professing friends who had drawn Hosein
thither by specious promises, would, when he appeared in person, arise
and rally round him, as, before the Battle of the Camel, they had
rallied round his brother Hasan. But each messenger and traveller whom
they met brought worse and worse reports. Farazdac, the poet, passed
by; all the comfort he could give Hosein was--‘The heart of Kûfa is
with thee, but its sword against thee.’ The Arab tribes, ever ready
for a fray, had been swelling Hosein’s band by the way, till it had
become a considerable force; but now perceiving how matters stood, and
that the cause was hopeless, they drew off, so that he was left with
nothing besides his original small following of some thirty horse and
forty foot.[589] An Arab chieftain of the Beni Tay besought him even
now to divert his course south-west, towards the hills of Aja and
Selma--‘where,’ said he, ‘in ten days time, twenty thousand swords
and lances of my tribe will gather round thee.’ Hosein would gladly
have followed the advice; ‘but,’ he replied, ‘I am surrounded, as thou
seest, by women and children; I cannot turn aside with them into the
desert; I must needs go forward.’ They had not proceeded far, when a
body of Kûfan horse appeared in sight. [Sidenote: Is met by Horr near
Kûfa. 1 Moharram, A.H. LXI. Oct. A.D. 680.] They were under the command
of Horr, an Arab leader of the Beni Temîm, who courteously, but firmly,
refused to let him pass. ‘My orders,’ he said, ‘are to carry thee to
Obeidallah, the son of Ziâd; but if thou wilt not go with me, then
turn to the right hand, or turn to the left, as thou choosest, saving
only the way back again to Mecca or Medîna, for that thou mayest not
take.’[590] So the little band turned aside to the left; and, skirting
Kûfa on the margin of the desert, marched forward, for a day or two,
along the banks of the Western Euphrates. In taking this direction,
Hosein had apparently no immediate object beyond avoiding an attack
from Kûfa. Horr kept close by him, and courteous communications still
passed between them.

[Sidenote: Hosein stopped by Amr’s cavalry at Kerbala.]

But it was dangerous to leave a pretender to the Caliphate thus
hovering around such a city as Kûfa, already excited by the affair of
Muslim. So Obeidallah sent Amr son of Sád at the head of four thousand
horse with a second summons.[591] Thus arrested, Hosein encamped his
little band on the plain of Kerbala, close by the western branch of
the Euphrates, five-and-twenty miles north-west of Kûfa. At repeated
interviews, Hosein disclaimed hostilities; which, indeed, with his
slender following, and no prospect of a rising in the city, were out of
thought. He would submit, he said, but only on one of these conditions:
‘Suffer me to return to the place from whence I came; if not, then
lead me to Yezîd, the Caliph, at Damascus, and place my hand in his
that I may speak with him face to face; or, if thou wilt do neither
of these things, send me far away to the wars, where I shall fight,
the Caliph’s faithful soldier, against the enemies of Islam.’ But
Obeidallah insisted upon an unconditional submission; and to effect
this without resort to arms, he ordered Amr to cut off all access
to the river, hoping that thirst might thus force him to surrender.
Hosein, who feared worse than death the cruel name of Obeidallah son
of Ziâd, stood firm to his conditions; and he even prevailed on Amr
himself to press them upon Obeidallah, and beg that he might be sent
to the Caliph’s court. [Sidenote: Shamir sent to bring in Hosein,
dead or alive. 8 Moharram. Oct. 8.]It had been well for the Omeyyad
dynasty, if the request had been complied with. Instead, Obeidallah,
impatient at the delay, jealous of his own prestige, or fearing the
fickleness of the Kûfans, sent a creature of his own, an Arab called
Shamir[592] (name never uttered by good Moslem but with a shudder and
a curse) with orders that Amr should dally with Hosein no longer, but,
dead or alive, bring him into Kûfa; and with power to supersede Amr
in command should he fail in prompt obedience. Amr thus compelled,
or fearing to lose the government of Rei to which he had just been
promoted, forthwith surrounded the little camp more closely. Hosein,
securing now the position as best he could, declared that he would not
surrender, but would fight the battle to the last. The scene which
followed is still fresh as yesterday in the mind of every Believer,
and is commemorated with wild grief and frenzy as often as the fatal
day, the Tenth of the first month of the year, comes round. It has been
encircled by tradition with such harrowing recitals as never fail to
rouse the horror and indignation of the listener to the highest pitch.
The fond and pious Moslem forgets that Hosein, the leader of the band,
having broken his allegiance, and yielded himself to a treasonable,
though impotent, design upon the throne, was committing an offence that
endangered society, and demanded swift suppression. He can see but
the cruel and ruthless hand that exterminated, with few exceptions,
everyone in whose veins flowed the sacred blood of the Prophet. And, in
truth, the simple story needs no adventitious colouring to touch the

[Sidenote: Hosein’s preparations for defence. 9 Moharram. Oct. 9.]

Hosein obtained a day’s respite to send away his relatives from the
fated camp. But, one and all, they refused to listen to his entreaty
that they would leave him. During the night, his sister Zeinab
overheard what was going forward, for his servant was furbishing her
brother’s sword, and singing the while snatches of martial verse on
the impending combat. Hastily drawing her mantle around her, she stole
in the dark to her brother’s tent, and flinging herself upon him in
wild grief, beat her breast and face, and fell into a swoon. Hosein
poured water on her temples; but it was little that he could do to
comfort her. The tents were rudely staked together, and some petty
barricades of wood and reeds--the burning of which might briefly check
the onset--piled around; a poor defence against the overwhelming foe.
Aly, Hosein’s little son, lay sick of a fever, but there was no drop
of water to slake his parched lips. The women and children passed the
night in fear and crying.

[Sidenote: Hosein attacked, and, with all his company, slain. 10
Moharram, A.H. LXI. Oct. 10, A.D. 680.]

On the morning of the fatal tenth of Moharram, Hosein drew out his
little band for battle. There was a parley; and again he offered to
retire, or be led to the presence of the Caliph. Finding that it
was all in vain, he alighted from his camel; and, surrounded by his
kinsmen, who stood with firm front for his defence, resolved to sell
life dear. At length, one shot an arrow from the Kûfic side, and, amid
the wailing of the women and little ones, the unequal fight began.
Arrows flew thick, and the forlorn company had its numbers gradually
thinned. Hosein’s nephew, Câsim by name, a lad of about ten years of
age, betrothed to his daughter Fâtima, was early struck by an arrow,
and died in the arms of his uncle. One after another, the grown-up
sons of Hosein, his brothers, nephews, and cousins, fell before the
shafts of the enemy. Some fled for shelter behind the camp. The reeds
were set on fire, and the flames, spreading to the tents, added new
horror to the scene. For long, none dared to attack Hosein, and to
the last it was hoped that he might yet surrender. Towards the close
of the conflict, driven by thirst, he sought to gain the river-bank.
The troops closed in behind, and he was cut off from his family. The
‘cursed’ Shamir then led the attack. Struck by an arrow, Hosein fell to
the ground, and the Kûfic cavalry rode ruthlessly across the corpse.

[Sidenote: Trunkless heads cast before the Governor of Kûfa.]

Not one of the fighting men of this forlorn band escaped alive. But
they fought bravely; and left of their foes, more than their own number
dead upon the field. Two sons of Hosein, Aly Akbar[593] and Abdallah,
perished early in the day; and, at its close, there were amongst the
dead no less than six brothers of Hosein, the sons of Aly; two nephews,
sons of his brother Hasan; and six others, descendants of Abu Tâlib,
the father of Aly and uncle of Mahomet.[594] The camp was plundered;
but no further indignity was offered to the inmates, mostly women and
children, who were carried, together with the ghastly load of seventy
trunkless heads, to Obeidallah’s palace. A shock of horror, such as
never since has ceased to thrill the Moslem world, seized the crowd,
when the gory head of the Prophet’s grandson was cast at Obeidallah’s
feet. Hard hearts were melted. As the governor turned the head roughly
over with his staff (though we must be slow to accept the tales of
heartless insult multiplied by Shîya hate), an aged voice from amongst
the courtiers was heard to cry: ‘Gently! for it is the Prophet’s
grandson. By the Lord! I have seen these very lips kissed by the
blessed mouth of Mahomet.’[595]

[Sidenote: The ladies and children sent to Medîna.]

The sister of Hosein, his two little sons, Aly Asghar[596] and Amr,
and two daughters, sole survivors of the family, were treated by
Obeidallah with respect; and were sent along with the head of the
Pretender to the Caliph at Damascus. Whether sincerely, or to escape
the execrations which began already to be heaped upon the actors
in the tragedy, Yezîd disowned all responsibility for the death of
Hosein, and bitterly reproached Obeidallah for the deed. The ladies
and children were honourably received into the Caliph’s household, and
sent eventually, with every comfort and consideration, back to their
Medîna home. This destination, meant in kindness by Yezîd, turned out
badly for the Omeyyad Caliphate. [Sidenote: Reaction in favour of
Aly’s descendants.]At Medîna, there ensued a wild scene of grief and
lamentation. Everything tended there to intensify the sense of the
catastrophe. The deserted dwellings inhabited heretofore by the family
and kinsmen of the Prophet, the widowed ladies, the orphaned little
ones, all added pathos to the cruel tale. That tale, eagerly heard by
groups of weeping listeners at the lips of the women and children who
alone survived to tell it--and coloured, as oft repeated by them, with
fresh and growing horrors--was spread by the pilgrims flocking yearly
to Medîna, over the whole empire. The tragic story was taken up in
every household. It soon was seen that the Governor of Kûfa, in his
zeal to suppress the imperial claim of the house of Aly, had overshot
the mark. The claim of this line, heretofore unknown, or treated with
indifference, struck deep now into the hearts of multitudes; and a
cloud of indignation and wrath began to gather, which ere long burst
upon the dynasty accused of perpetrating the sacrilegious massacre. The
tragedy of Kerbala decided not only the fate of the Caliphate, but of
Mahometan kingdoms long after the Caliphate had waned and disappeared.
[Sidenote: The ‘Moharram’.]None who has witnessed the wild and
passionate grief with which, as the anniversary each year comes round,
Moslems of every land beat their breasts, in vast crowds, the live-long
night, vociferating unweariedly the frantic cry, _Hasan, Hosein!
Hasan, Hosein!_ in wailing cadence, can fail to recognise the fatal
weapon, sharp and double-edged, which the Omeyyad dynasty allowed thus
to fall into the hands of the house of Aly and the house of Abbâs.[597]

                              CHAPTER L.


[Sidenote: Omeyyad and Abbasside dynasties.]

It remains but very briefly to follow the fortunes of the Omeyyad
dynasty; to show how it came to be supplanted by the Abbasside; to
trace the history of the more potent tribal and spiritual influences,
which sprang up with the Faith; and to explain how some of these,
having served their time, have disappeared; while others still survive,
as powerful agencies in the rise and fall of nations, and the destinies
of Islam.

[Sidenote: Yezîd. A.H. 60–64.]

Yezîd soon felt the injury accruing to the Caliphate from the revulsion
of feeling, in favour of the family of Aly and against the throne,
which followed upon the tragedy of Kerbala. Kûfa, with its proverbial
inconstancy, was ever ready to espouse the cause of a house the
progenitors of which--Aly and his sons--it had cast aside, and as
readily again to let drop that cause. Bussorah, on the other hand,
was more inclined to the Khârejite heresy. But it was from a very
different quarter that the gravest peril first assailed Yezîd and
his successors. The danger, as Muâvia had foreshadowed, arose from
Abdallah ibn Zobeir. It was he who, to be rid of Hosein, had encouraged
that unfortunate prince in his desperate venture. No sooner was the
catastrophe of Kerbala announced at Mecca, than Abdallah ibn Zobeir
set up a claim in his own person. [Sidenote: Ibn Zobeir affects the
Caliphate. A.H. 61.]At first he assumed the pious and modest
title, ‘Protector of the Holy House.’ But he soon went beyond this,
and proclaimed himself a rival of the Caliph. Though closely connected
with the Prophet’s family, it was not to noble birth he trusted. He
was a military adventurer, as his father and Talha had been before
him, trying conclusions, but more successfully at the first, against
the ruling power. Yezîd swore that his adversary should be brought a
prisoner, chained by the neck, to Damascus. Shortly after, regretting
the oath and yet wishing to fulfil it in the letter, he sent the rebel
a silver chain to be thrown as an ornament about his neck, if he would
present himself at court. But Ibn Zobeir, scorning the offer, committed
the messengers to prison, and soon roused all Arabia against the
Caliph. The Governor of Medîna sent a deputation of its chief men to
Damascus, hoping that they might be won over by the gifts and kindness
of Yezîd. [Sidenote: Medîna rebels, and is sacked. A.H. 63.
A.D. 683.]They returned munificently rewarded, but with such
an account of the dissipation and disregard of the obligations of Islam
prevailing at the court, that the leaders of Medîna were scandalised
and forswore allegiance to the godless Caliph. Thereupon an army was
sent to chastise the rebellious city. A battle was fought in its
neighbourhood, and the vanquished inhabitants were subjected for three
days to the licence and rapine of the Syrian troops. But in the end the
cause of Ibn Zobeir gained ground both in Arabia and the East. Aided by
his brother Musáb, and other able generals, he gained hold at one time
of a great portion of the empire. It is not, indeed, impossible that
he might have defeated the Omeyyads altogether, if he had consented to
make common cause with the Khârejite theocrats. But this he could not
do; because these demanded, as a first condition, that the memory of
Othmân should be denounced as that of a tyrant justly put to death;
whereas, in company with his father, the son of Zobeir had waged war
with Aly for the avowed purpose of avenging the blood of Othmân. His
arms were, therefore, turned against these heretics; and in everywhere
defeating them, he effectually served the cause of the Caliphs of
Damascus. For many years he maintained a rival court at Mecca; and his
rule is memorable for the rebuilding of the Holy House.[598]

[Sidenote: Rebellion of Mukhtâr. A.H. 65–67.]

Meanwhile another rebel against the Omeyyads had appeared at Kûfa in
the person of Mukhtâr, son of Abu Obeid.[599] This adventurer first
dallied with the Khârejites. Afterwards, changing front, he professed
himself the agent of the house of Aly, and the lieutenant of Aly’s
grandson then living at Medîna. As such for a time Mukhtâr ruled at
Kûfa, and took summary vengeance on all who had been concerned in the
massacre at Kerbala. Shamir and Amr were both executed, and their
heads sent to his pretended master. Over Obeidallah, Mukhtâr gained a
great victory on the Zab; and the trunkless head of that unfortunate
governor, who fell in the battle, was carried to the palace at Kûfa,
and cast upon the same spot where just six years before he had gloated
over the bloody head of Hosein. Thus early was the tragedy of Kerbala
avenged in the death of its chief actors. But the success of Mukhtâr
was not long-lived. He was attacked by the generals of Ibn Zobeir,
defeated and slain.

[Sidenote: Sequel of Ibn Zobeir, and rebuilding the Káaba. A.H. 63.]

By these successful campaigns against the Khârejites and against
Mukhtâr, both enemies of the empire, Ibn Zobeir was, in effect,
clearing the way for the Court of Damascus to strike a final blow
against himself. His brother Musáb was defeated and killed. [Sidenote:
Musáb killed. A.H. 71.]The famous Hajjâj, at this period the right
arm of the Omeyyad Caliphs, was now able to concentrate his forces
against the Pretender, who still held his court at Mecca, and with an
overpowering army to invest the sacred city. [Sidenote: Hajjâj besieges
Mecca. Ibn Zobeir slain. A.H. 73.]Finding that his game was nearly
played out, Ibn Zobeir lost heart, and had thoughts of surrendering.
But his aged mother Asma, daughter of Abu Bekr, with the ancient
spirit of the Arab matron, exhorted her son to die as a hero should.
And so, putting on his armour, he rushed into the unequal combat, and
fell. His mother, now a centenarian, is the same who, at the Hegira,
seventy-three years before, tore off her girdle to bind the Prophet’s
wallet to his camel as he took his flight from the cave of Mount
Thaur, and thus earned the name of ‘the Woman of the shreds.’[600]
It is almost the last personal link we have connecting the Prophet’s
life with the Omeyyad Caliphate. What a world of events had transpired
within the lifetime of this lady!

[Sidenote: Omeyyad dynasty again supreme. A.H. 73.]

On the death of Ibn Zobeir, who had thus bravely held his ground as the
rival of several successive Caliphs for thirteen years, the Omeyyad
rule was anew recognised, without dispute, over the whole Moslem realm,
and the name of the reigning Caliph was recited in the public prayers
of every Mosque from the East to the farthest West.

[Sidenote: Death of Yezîd. A.H. 64.]

During the troublous times of which mention has been made, several
successions had taken place in the Caliphate. After a short and anxious
reign, Yezîd died, leaving the kingdom to a weak son, who survived
but a few months. [Sidenote: Merwân, A.H. 65.]Amidst the
disturbances which followed, Merwân made his way to the throne, and,
dying in the following year, left the empire to his son Abd al Malik.
[Sidenote: Abd al Malik. A.H. 65–86.]This prince wielded the
sceptre for one-and-twenty years. The greater part of his reign was
a struggle with foes such as Ibn Zobeir, Mukhtâr, and other leaders
of the Alyite faction, besides the chronic outbursts of Khârejite
fanaticism. At one time the Caliph was so beset by these opponents,
that for three years he submitted to the humiliation of paying tribute
to the Byzantine Court. In the end he triumphed over all his enemies,
and transmitted a magnificent and still expanding kingdom to his son
Welîd.[601] Notwithstanding the storms that so long surrounded his
throne, Abd al Malik cultivated letters, and was mild and beneficent
in his sway. [Sidenote: Welîd A.H. 86–96.]During the reign of
his son, which lasted ten years, the glory culminated of the Omeyyad
race. Elements of disorder still remained, but under the wise and firm
sceptre of Welîd they were held in check. The arts of peace prevailed;
schools were founded, learning cultivated, and poets royally rewarded;
public works of every useful kind were promoted, and even hospitals
established for the aged, lame, and blind. Such, indeed, at this era,
was the glory of the Court of Damascus, that Weil, of all the Caliphs
both before and after, gives the precedence to Welîd. It is the fashion
for the Arabian historians to abuse the Omeyyads as a dissolute,
intemperate, and godless race; but we must not forget that these all
wrote more or less under Abbasside inspiration. And Welîd especially
suffers at their hands; for it was under him that Hajjâj[602] made the
assault upon the Holy City--a ‘sacrilege’ which still rankles in the
Believer’s soul; and, moreover, during whose twenty years’ splendid
vice-royalty in the East, Kûfa and Bussorah were both bathed in blood;
and hence some part of the hatred against the tyrant has come to be
reflected upon the name of his Master also. It is too true, indeed,
that at Damascus, as in other great cities of the empire, there was now
rapidly supervening a shameless laxity of manners; but neither in the
Caliphs themselves, nor in their surroundings, did the looseness of
morality at the Syrian Court surpass that which, under the Abbassides,
not long after prevailed within the royal precincts of Baghdad.[603]

[Sidenote: Omeyyad Caliphs. A.H. 96–132.]

After Welîd, the Omeyyad dynasty lasted six-and-thirty years. But it
began to rest on a precarious basis. For now the agents of the house of
Hâshim, descendants of the Prophet and of his uncle Abbâs, commenced to
ply secretly, but with vigour and persistency, their task of canvass
and intrigue in distant cities, and especially in the provinces of the

[Sidenote: The Shîya faction canvass for Alyite pretenders.]

For a long time, the endeavour of these agitators was directed to
the advocacy of the _Shîya_ right; that is to say, it was based upon
the Divine claim of Aly, and his descendants in the Prophet’s line,
to the Imâmate or leadership over the empire of Islam.[604] Risings
everywhere from time to time took place in favour of some one or
other in whose veins flowed the blood of Aly. Everywhere the attempts
were suppressed, the pretenders slain or cast into prison, and their
armies defeated in the field. [Sidenote: Canvass in favour of house of
Abbâs.]But a new and more fatal danger soon arose. The discomfiture
of the Shîyas paved the way for the designing advocates of the other
Hâshimite branch, namely, that of the house of Abbâs, the uncle of
the Prophet. These had all along been plotting in the background, and
watching their opportunity. They now vaunted the claims of this line,
and were barefaced enough to urge that, being descended from the
uncle of Mahomet through _male_ representatives, they took precedence
over the direct descendants of the Prophet himself, because these came
through Fâtima in the _female_ line. [Sidenote: Abul Abbâs supported
by Abu Muslim in Persia. A.H. 130.]About the year 130 of the Hegira,
Abul Abbâs, of Abbasside descent, was put forward in Persia, as the
candidate of this party, and his claim was supported by the famous
general Abu Muslim. Successful in the East, Abu Muslim turned his arms
to the West. [Sidenote: Battle of the Zab. A.H. 132. A.D. 750.] A great
battle, one of those which decide the fate of empires, was fought on
the banks of the Zab; and, through the defection of certain Khârejite
and Yemen levies, was lost by the Omeyyad army. Merwân II., the last
of his dynasty, was driven to Egypt, and there killed in the church of
Bussir, whither he had fled for refuge. [Sidenote: Abul Abbâs succeeds
to the Caliphate.]At the close of the year 132,[605] the black flag,
emblem of the Abbassides, floated over the battlements of Damascus. The
Omeyyad dynasty, after ruling the vast Moslem empire for a century, now
disappeared in cruelty and bloodshed. Alyite, Omeyyad, and Khârejite,
were equally the victims of the exterminating sword of the first
Abbasside Caliph, who thereby earned for himself the unenviable name of
_Al Saffâh_, ‘The Bloody.’[606]

[Sidenote: Omeyyad dynasty in Spain. A.H. 138. A.D. 756.]

So perished the royal house of the Omeyyads. But one escaped. He fled
to Spain, which had never favoured the overweening pretensions of the
Prophet’s family, whether in the line of Aly or Abbâs. Accepted by
the Arab tribes, whose influence in the West was paramount, Abd al
Rahmân now laid the foundation of a new Dynasty, and perpetuated the
Omeyyad name at the magnificent court of Cordova. [Sidenote: Moslem
defeat at Tours. A.D. 732.]Some years previously, the flood of
Moslem victory sweeping northwards had been stemmed and rolled back by
Charles Martel at Tours; but a grand career yet remained within the
peninsula of Spain to illustrate this remnant of the Omeyyad race.

[Sidenote: Other Moslem kingdoms.]

Thus with the rise of the Abbassides, the unity of the Caliphate came
to an end. Never after, either in theory or in fact, was there a
successor to the Prophet, acknowledged as such over all Islam. Other
provinces followed in the wake of Spain. The Aghlabite dynasty in the
east of Africa and west of it, the Edrisites in Fez, both of Alyite
descent; Egypt and Sicily under independent rulers; the Tâhirite kings
in Persia, their native soil; these and others, breaking away from
the central government, established kingdoms of their own. [Sidenote:
The Caliphate in its original significance comes to an end.]The name
of Caliph, however it might survive in the Abbasside lineage, or be
assumed by less legitimate pretenders, had now altogether lost its
virtue and significance.

[Sidenote: The Abbassides transfer seat of government to Baghdad. A.H.

Yet a splendid empire remained for the Abbassides. They carried
their court from Damascus, where the memory of the late dynasty
inconveniently survived its fall, to the banks of the Euphrates.
There, Kûfa, too prone to be inflamed by Alyite intrigue against the
new line of Caliphs, was finally abandoned as the seat of royalty.
Another capital was founded by Abu Jáfar, the second of the Abbassides,
at Baghdad, fifteen miles above Medâin, on the western bank of the
Tigris. For many years, Alyites, Omeyyads, and Khârejites continued to
be punished with equal rigour by the new dynasty, and much insecurity
and bloodshed prevailed. But misrule and rebellion in the end gave
place to rest and peace, and a century followed of unparalleled
grandeur and prosperity. [Sidenote: Splendour of Baghdad, the _City of
Peace_.]Baghdad, answering to its proud name of _Dâr al Salâm_, ‘The
City of Peace,’ became for a time the capital of the world, the centre
of luxury, the emporium of commerce, and the seat of learning.

[Sidenote: Al Mâmûn. A.H. 198–218.]

At the close of the second century of the Hegira, Al Mâmûn succeeded
to the throne. His mother was a Persian lady; and he had imbibed from
her, and the society in which he was reared at Merve, the principles
of the Motázilites. [Sidenote: Motázilite creed.]This strange system,
which had recently sprung up in the East, was grafted by the sectarians
of Aly (Shîyites) on the transcendental philosophy of the Persians.
It was, in fact, a new and altogether unlooked-for development, or
rather perversion, of Islam. Heretofore, the sole ground of faith had
been the Corân, and the _Sunnat_ or deliverances preserved by
tradition from the lips of Mahomet. Now, under the Divine Imâmate,
or spiritual leadership vested in some member of the house of Aly,
there might be other infallible sources of guidance from above. There
arose, in fact, a new school of interpretation, one might almost say,
a new dispensation. The Corân was treated allegorically; and such
difficulties as beset the Orthodox, offended reason, or cramped the
growth of society, were thus easily evaded.[607] In the system so
evolved, the Prophet, had he revisited the earth, would hardly have
recognised his own religion. This elastic development of the Faith,
sublimated by the mysticism of Persia, and refined by the subtleties of
Indian philosophy, was eagerly embraced by the natives of the Eastern
provinces. And Al Mâmûn, who on his accession remained still for a
time at Merve, fell deeply under its influence. [Sidenote: Embraced
by Al Mâmûn.]So inclined was he to the house of Aly, that he gave a
daughter of his own in marriage to one of that lineage, and he even
adopted their green ensign;--hoping thus to unite the lines of Aly
and Abbâs in one new dynasty. Although, on transferring his court to
Baghdad, he abandoned the design,[608] Mâmûn still remained faithful
to the rationalistic creed. He surrounded himself at the capital with
the learned of all persuasions; and in company with them was used to
hold discussions, at which such grave questions as those affecting
man’s relations with the Deity, and the nature of the Godhead itself,
were freely handled. In opposition to the Orthodox, he believed in the
doctrine of Free-will. From the received teaching that the Corân is
uncreated and eternal, he recoiled, as at variance with the unity of
the Godhead; and, in the end, he proclaimed, with pains and penalties
for dissent, that it was created. Thus, though a Free-thinker himself,
Al Mâmûn, as often happens, denied the free right of judgment to
others; and he persecuted cruelly, and on one or two occasions even
to the death, those who ventured to differ with him. [Sidenote:
Comparative freedom and toleration under Motázilites.]Still freedom of
opinion and open discussion were, beyond comparison, more tolerated
under the régime of the Motázilites than of the Orthodox.[609] For
forty or fifty years, the tenets of the Rationalists prevailed under
the Motázilite Caliphs at Baghdad. Then, there was a reaction back
again to the ‘Orthodox’ faith; and now, all who questioned the eternity
of the Corân, who ventured to magnify the claims of Aly, or to detract
from those of his predecessors in the Caliphate--Abu Bekr, Omar,
Othmân--became in their turn the objects of unrelenting persecution. In
one important respect, however, the Motázilite Caliphs (and we might
say the Shîya sect in general) have excelled the Orthodox; they are
especially distinguished by greater forbearance towards the professors
of other creeds. With the return of orthodoxy the reign of intolerance
revived; and against both Jews and Christians, the so-called
‘Ordinances of Omar’ were enforced by an Orthodox court with new and
degrading penalties.[610]

[Sidenote: Golden Age of literature at Baghdad.]

The reigns of Al Mâmûn and his immediate successors were the palmy days
of Moslem learning. At the court of Baghdad there were munificently
entertained, philosophers, physicians, and men of letters. Amongst
them were many Jews and Christians, versed at once in the Arabic
tongue, and in the language and literature of Greece. The monasteries
of Syria, Asia Minor, and the Levant, were ransacked for manuscripts
of the Greek philosophers, historians, and geometricians. These, with
vast labour and erudition, were translated into the Arabic; and thus
the learning of the West was made accessible to the Moslem world. Nor
were their efforts confined to the reproduction of ancient works, but
in some directions extended also to original research. An observatory,
reared on the plain of Tadmor, furnished materials for the successful
study of astronomy and geometry. In other walks of literature, we have
books of travel and history, and, above all, of medicine; while much
attention was paid to the less practical, but more popular, branches of
astrology and alchemy. It was through the labours of these learned men
that the nations of Europe, then shrouded in the darkness of the Middle
Ages, became again acquainted with their own proper, but unused and
forgotten, patrimony of Grecian science and philosophy.

[Sidenote: Introduction of mercenaries and fall of the Caliphate.]

But the Golden Age soon faded away. Provinces rebelled. Lieutenants
assumed independence. Faction and tumult became the chronic state of
the capital, and riotous attack was ever threatening the helpless
Caliphs at their very door. The reason is not far to search for. A
change had come over the military forces of the empire. From the very
first, the Abbasside Caliphs had regarded the Arab tribes, the real
backbone of the Caliphate, with a jealous and distrustful eye; and
these, cast at last aside, and the stipendiary support of the Dewân
withdrawn, were now rapidly returning to nomad life, or mingling with
the settled population. Instead of trusting them, or playing off one
tribe against another, as the Omeyyads did, the Caliphs of Baghdad,
in an evil hour, introduced Turkish mercenaries from Central Asia;
and, by-and-by, they committed the protection of their own persons to
a body-guard of these. The servant soon came to be the master. The
staff pierced the hand that leaned upon it. The Caliphate became the
sport and plaything of the Turkish soldiery, and sank in impotency and

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Politico-religious influences still surviving.]

Islam had now run its course of growth and change. After this, we
see no new phase development, spiritual, social, or political. The
considerations and incentives peculiar to the Moslem faith, and those
connected with the native tribes and families in which it took its
birth, became for the most part faint and feeble with the lapse of
time, or merged into the common motives which influence mankind. The
Mahometan world, as it advanced in years, we find guided more and more
by ordinary mundane causes. Nations rise and fall, as elsewhere they
rise and fall. Rebellion and vicissitude alternate with prosperity
and peace. Yet some of the principles and causes of action which I
have sought to trace, though in later times less prominent, have never
altogether ceased to operate. Of the four great powers which influenced
the fortunes of the Moslem world during the first two centuries, only
one, the Alyite, remains unimpaired. The _Arab tribes_ ceased
in the third century to be a distinct military force, the arbiter of
Moslem dynasties, as well as the means by which the Faith was spread.
Gorged with the prey of the world, they had already lost their early
fire, when the fence set up by Omar between them and the conquered
races having been broken down, the grand military organisation was
swept away, and their place taken by mercenary levies. Henceforth
we meet them no more as an independent force in the body politic.
The _Coreish_, with the collapse of the Caliphate, have passed
out of sight, excepting as a race of noble memories. The Abbassides
are known no longer. But _Alyite_ influence, unaffected by the
lapse of time, is at some points stronger now even than it ever was.
And although the Arabs, as a military institution, have long ago
disappeared, we still trace their influence in the _Khârejite_,
that is to say the spiritual and theocratic aspect of their creed.

[Sidenote: Tendency of revivals among Orthodox and Shîyas.]

The countries in which the native Arabs mostly spread and settled,
and where, consequently, the Arab spirit longest survived (by far the
largest part of the Mahometan world), are still, on the whole, the
most devoted to the Orthodox faith; while Persia and a few smaller
principalities continue loyal to the Shîya creed. Revivals follow a
corresponding course. Amongst the Orthodox, the quickened spiritual
sense even in the present day shows itself in an implicit return to
the letter of the Corân; in a Puritan protest against all forms and
superstitions inconsistent with the sacred text; in outbursts of zeal
for ‘fighting in the ways of the Lord,’ and generally in a tendency
towards the ancient tenets of Khârejite theocracy.[611] Among the
Shîyas, on the other hand, the spirit of revival breaks out in wild
and mystical devotion, in the excesses of Soofeeism, and in the
profane extravagances engendered by a belief in the Divine Imâmate and
emanations of the Deity.

[Sidenote: Turkey, Persia, and India.]

Persia remains still the only important kingdom given up to the Shîya
faith. In India, the emperors, being of Turkish blood, were generally
orthodox in their profession. They encouraged the immigration, by
grants of land and other privileges, of vast crowds of Arab followers
drawn directly from their native soil. And so throughout Hindostan,
the Soonnie has always overshadowed the Shîya faith. At the same time,
Islam in India (as in Persia and other Shîya lands) has been, from
the failure to convert the millions of its heathen subjects, less
intolerant of idol temples and alien worship, than elsewhere. While, on
the other hand, in India, as in all Soonnie countries, revivals of the
Faith have run in the lines of puritanical reform, rather than, as in
Persia, into mystical excess.[612]

[Sidenote: Enmity between Soonnies and Shîya.]

Between Turkey and Persia, there is a broad distinction as to
tolerance. The Osmanlies, notwithstanding their close territorial
contact with Christianity, are, in virtue of their orthodoxy,
intolerant of the least divergence from the Faith; while the more
distant Persia (following the example of the Motázilite Caliphs)
is less impatient of other creeds, and more amenable to outer
influence.[613] In other respects, too, the ancient sentiment dividing
the Soonnie and the Shîya is as bitter now as in the days when Aly
cursed Muâvia, and Muâvia cursed Aly, in the daily public service.
The hopeless schism has tended to slacken the progress of Islam, and
abate its aggressive force. Thus recently, when a deadly blow was aimed
at the head of the Moslem Empire on this side of the Bosphorus, the
sectarians of Persia, through hate and jealousy of the Soonnie creed,
declined to rally round the banner of the Crescent; and, indeed, so far
as any help or even sympathy from Shîyas went, Islam might have been
blotted out of Europe altogether. The Soonnie scorns the Shîya; and the
Shîya, in his turn, spits on the graves of those great Caliphs, Omar
and Abu Bekr, to whom they owe it that Islam spread thus marvellously,
nay even that it survived its birth.

[Sidenote: Political and economical outlook of Islam.]

The Islam of to-day is substantially the same as the Islam which we
quitted at the close of this history. By the middle of the third
century it had completed its circuit, and had rung all the changes
which seem to lie within the range of its potentiality. Swathed in
the rigid bands of the Corân, Islam is powerless, like the Christian
dispensation, to adapt itself to the varying circumstances of time
and place, and to keep pace with, if not to lead and direct, the
progress of society and elevation of the race. In the body politic, the
spiritual and the secular are hopelessly confounded; and we fail of
perceiving any approach to free institutions, or any germ whatever of
popular government. The nearest approach to it was in the brotherhood
of Islam; but that, as a controlling power, was confined strictly
to the Arab races, and with their fall it has entirely disappeared.
The type and exemplar of Moslem rule is the absolute and autocratic
monarch, alternating at times with the will of lawless soldiery; and
the only check on the despot’s power is the law of the Corân, as
expounded by the learned, and enforced by the sentiment of the nation.

[Sidenote: Obnoxious social ordinances.]

Nor has there been anywhere change or advance perceptible in the state
of society. [Sidenote: Polygamy.]Polygamy and servile concubinage are
still the privilege, or the curse, of Islam; the worm at its root, the
secret of its fall. By these the unity of the household is fatally
broken, and the purity and virtue weakened of the family tie: the
vigour of the dominant classes is sapped; the body politic becomes
weak and languid, excepting for intrigue; and the throne itself liable
to fall a prey to doubtful or contested succession. [Sidenote: Female
slavery.]As to slavery, and more especially female slavery, we look too
exclusively at its effect on the wretched subject of the institution.
Its influence on the owner is infinitely more disastrous. However much
the condition of slavery may be ameliorated by the kindly influences
which, in Moslem lands, surround it as a domestic institution, still,
servile concubinage fixes its withering grasp with more damaging effect
even upon the master, than on the miserable slave of his enjoyments.

[Sidenote: Divorce.]

Hardly less injurious is the power of divorce, which can be exercised,
without the assignment of any reason whatever, at the mere word and
will of the husband. It not only hangs over each individual household
like the sword of Damocles, but affects the tone of society at large;
for even if not put in force, it cannot fail, as a potential influence
existing everywhere, to weaken the marriage bond, and detract from the
dignity and self-respect of the sex at large.

[Sidenote: The Veil, and seclusion of women.]

Nor is it otherwise with ‘the Veil,’ and those other domestic
restrictions enjoined by the Corân, which banish woman from her
legitimate place in society. The loss, indeed, is not so much hers
as of the other sex, who are altogether shut out, in public and
social life, from the bright and gracious, purifying, and softening
influences, of female companionship. [Sidenote: Wine and games
of chance forbidden.]The interdict against games of chance, and
the prohibition of even the moderate use of wine (ordinances in
themselves not altogether devoid of merit), have tended to aggravate
the moroseness, gloom, and gracelessness of Moslem life in public,
resulting from the banishment of the female sex.

[Sidenote: Islam stationary.]

These and the other institutions of Islam form an integral part of its
teaching. They are bound up in the Corân, the charter of its existence.
A re-formed Islam, which should part with the Divine ordinances on
which they rest, or attempt in the smallest degree to change them by
a rationalistic selection, abatement, or variation, would be Islam
no longer. That they tend to keep the professors of the Moslem faith
in a backward, and in some respects a barbarous state, cannot be
doubted. It is still true that, as at Damascus, Baghdad, and Cordova,
an era of great magnificence has at times prevailed. Commerce and
speculation (notwithstanding the ban placed by the Corân on the receipt
of interest) prospered; the arts of peace were cultivated; travel
and intercourse promoted liberality of national sentiment: learning
and literature advanced apace. But it was all short-lived, because
superficial. Civilisation did not penetrate the family. It failed to
leaven domestic life. The canker-worm of polygamy, divorce, servile
concubinage and the veil, lay at the root. And society, withering under
the influence of these, soon relapsed into barbarism again.

[Sidenote: The Caliphate a thing of the past.]

To speak of the Caliphate as existing, or likely ever again to exist,
in modern times, is but a dream of the past, a fond anachronism. The
conditions which rendered the Caliphate possible, have been exhausted
long centuries ago, and are beyond the possibility of resuscitation.

[Sidenote: Islam may prosper apart from political ascendency.]

The political ascendency of Islam is doomed. Every year witnesses a
sensible degree of subsidence. In the close connection of the Moslem
faith with the civil power, this cannot but in some measure affect the
prestige of Islam itself. Nevertheless, the religion may long retain
its hold upon the people, unimpaired by the decline of its sway in the

[Sidenote: Conclusion.]

As regards the spiritual, social, and dogmatic aspect of Islam, there
has been neither progress nor material change since the third century
of the Hegira. Such as we found it to have been then, such is it
also at the present day. The nations may advance in civilisation and
morality, in philosophy, science, and the arts; but Islam stands still.
And thus stationary, so far as the lessons of this history avail, it
will remain.


    Aámir, _Beni_, 26

    Abbâs, prays for rain, 233

    Abbassides, 432, 448, 450 _et seq._

    Abd al Cays, _Beni_, 51, 360

    Abdallah Abbâs (_see_ Ibn Abbâs)

    Abdallah, son of Abu Bekr, 65

        „       „    Hosein, 440

        „       „    Khâlid, 37, 319

        „       „    Omar, 46, 281, 287, 288, 325, 355, 392, 394, 430,

    Abdallah, son of Zobeir (_see_ Ibn Zobeir)

    Abd al Malik, 446, 447

    Abd al Masîh, 80, 82

    Abd al Rahmân, first Caliph in Spain, 449

    Abd al Rahmân ibn Awf, 65, 117, 189;
      Elector, 280, 286, 287;
      Umpire, 289;
      nominates Othmân Caliph, 290 _et seq._, 309;
      death, 324

    Abd al Rahmân, son of Abu Bekr, 44, 119;
      enamoured of Leila, 272, 430, 434

    Abd al Rahmân, son of Khâlid, 394

    Abd Shems, _Beni_, 294

    Abd Yaghûth, 54

    Abrac, 17

    Abs, _Beni_, 13, 17

    Abu Bekr, described, 1, 120;
      election, 3, 5, 7;
      addresses troops, 10, 96, 13, 16, 18;
      derivation of name, 24;
      burns a rebel, 29;
      justifies Khâlid, 35, 45, 90;
      angry with Khâlid, 46, 50;
      pardons Ashâth, 58, 64, 77, 78;
      angry with Khâlid ibn Saîd, 94;
      transfers Khâlid to Syria, 100;
      orders levy, 114;
      last pilgrimage, 115;
      sickness, 116;
      names Omar his successor, 117;
      death, 119;
      character, 120 _et seq._;
      family, 122, 223;
      compiles Corân, 231, 275, 286, 456

    Abu Catâda, 33 _et seq._

    Abu Cays, 301

    Abu Dzarr Ghifâry, 309

    Abu Hodzeifa, 42

    Abu Horeira, 426

    Abu Jandal, 273

    Abul Abbâs, Al Saffâh, 449

    Abul Aûr, 151, 394

    Abu Lulû, assassin of Omar, 278 _et seq._

    Abu Mihjan, 168

    Abu Musâ, Governor of Bussorah, 266;
      deposed, 305;
      Governor of Kûfa, 320;
      deposed, 359 _et seq._;
      Umpire, 385;
      decision, 391 _et seq._, 408

    Abu Muslim, 449

    Abu Obeid, 126;
      killed, 130

    Abu Obeida, 2, 95 _et seq._, 108;
      commands in Syria, 143;
      attacks Fihl, 151, 198, 200, 207, 216;
      sends grain to Hejâz, 233;
      will not quit Syria in the plague, 234;
      death, 235, 276, 286

    Abu Rabia, 290

    Abu Sarh (_see_ Ibn Abu Sarh)

    Abu Shajra, 28

    Abu Sofiân, 96, 108, 109, 237;
      death, 277

    Abu Talha, 281, 288

    Abu Zobeid, 304

    Abyssinia, 264

    Ackîl deserts his brother Aly, 410

    Ackka, 85, 86

    Acra, 50

    Acraba (Yemâma), battle of, 39 _et seq._

    Aden, 54, 55, 57

    Adî ibn Hâtim, 15, 24, 72

    Adzân, call to prayer, 18, 238

    Adzrâat, 153

    Africa, 298

    Aghlabite dynasty, 450

    Aghwâth (Câdesîya), 167, 170

    Ahnaf ibn Cays, 385

    Ahwâz, 249, 251

    Ain Shems, 241

    Ain Tamar, 85, 101

    Ajâ and Salmâ (mountains), 22

    Ajnadein, 206

    Akk, _Beni_, 53

    Alâ, 18, 47, 49, 50, 249

    Alcama, 27

    Aleppo, 200, 216

    Alexandria, 216, 239 _et seq._;
      capitulates, 243;
      second siege, 247, 298;
      naval victory off, 301

    Ali Bey, travels of, 209

    Allîs, battle of, 76, 82, 132

    Aly, 21 _note_, 64, 65;
      his slave girls, 89, 123, 207;
      appointed Elector, 280, 282, 287, 289;
      swears allegiance to Othmân, 291, 293, 295, 308, 316, 317;
      expostulates with Othmân, 321, 327, 329 _et seq._;
      sends son to protect Othmân, 334;
      elected Caliph, 342 _et seq._;
      would supersede Muâvia, 345;
      appoints new governors, 347;
      defied by Muâvia, 349;
      pursues rebels, 355;
      advances on Bussorah, 360;
      negotiates with rebels, 361;
      Battle of Camel, 363;
      enters Bussorah, 366;
      transfers government to Kûfa, 369;
      sends envoy to Muâvia, 376;
      invades Syria, 377;
      battle of Siffîn, 380 _et seq._;
      accepts arbitration, 386;
      opposed by Khârejites, 388;
      Syrian campaign ordered, 397;
      defeats Khârejites, 399;
      loses Egypt, 401 _et seq._;
      attitude towards Christian captives, 406;
      truce with Muâvia, 410;
      assassination, 411 _et seq._;
      burial-place unknown, 414;
      character, 415, 433, 451, 456

    Aly Akbar, 440

    Aly Asghar, 440, 441

    Alyites (_see_ Shîyas), 454

    Aly, son of Hosein, 439

    Ameer al Momenîn, title of Caliph, 285

    Amghîsia, 78

    Amida, 217, 219

    Amina, Mahomet’s mother, 289

    Ammân, 153

    Ammâr, Governor of Kûfa, 268, 269, 284, 290, 325, 359, 363, 368,
      killed, 382

    Amr ibn Mádekerib, 53, 55, 56, 138, 158, 168, 173

    Amr, son of Sád, 437, 445

    Amru, 12, 18, 93, 95, 97 _et seq._, 108, 153, 205 _et seq._, 208;
      sends grain to Medîna, 233;
      conquers Egypt, 239 _et seq._;
      Mosque of, 244;
      Feast in Egypt, 246;
      conquests in Africa, 247, 264, 276, 288;
      displaced in Egypt, 299, 326;
      joins Muâvia, 373;
      commands Muâvia’s army, 378, 382;
      appointed Umpire, 385;
      decision, 391 _et seq._;
      escapes assassination, 412;
      his death, 422

    Amwâs, 206

    Anbâr, 85, 89, 138

    Ansâr, citizens of Medîna, 3, 5, 32, 126

    Antioch, 200, 216

    Apology of Al Kindy, 23, 75, 220, 416, 452

    Apostasy, of Arabia, 11;
      left a stigma, 28, 63;
      subdued, 60;
      ban removed, 126

    Araba, 97

    Arabia, exodus from, 60;
      to be wholly Moslem, 224, 230

    Arab slaves set free, 63

    Arabs, militant race, 62;
      pensioned, 226;
      nobility of the Moslem world, 260;
      antagonism between, and Coreish, 294, 454, 455

    Arbitration at Siffîn, 386

    Ardshir (city), 406

    Ardshîr (king), 76

    Arfaja, 18, 51, 134, 191

    Arîsh, 241

    Armâth (Câdesîya), 167

    Armenia, 217

    Arrestân, 199

    Artabûn, 206, 207, 241

    Asad, _Beni_, 22, 25, 26, 27, 169

    Ascalon, 206

    Ashár, _Beni_, 53

    Asháth ibn Cays, 56 _et seq._, 64, 219, 385

    Ashtar, 317, 319, 337, 360;
      precipitates Battle of Camel, 362;
      at Siffîn, 384 _et seq._

    Asia Minor, 217, 297, 298

    Asim, his feat at Câdesîya, 168

    Asim fords the Tigris with cavalry, 183

    Asma, wife of Abu Bekr, 118 _et seq._, 446

    Aswad, the false prophet, 52

    Atîck (_see_ Bâdacla)

    Attâb, 52, 65

    Aus, _Beni_, 5, 61

    Ayesha, 2, 5, 120, 276, 281, 338;
      her sedition at Mecca, 351;
      character, 352;
      her camel, 353;
      alarmed on march to Bussorah, 354;
      occupies Bussorah, 356;
      at Battle of Camel, 361 _et seq._;
      camel hamstrung, 364;
      retires to Medîna, 367, 403

    Ayla, 93, 233;
      Bishop of, visited by Omar, 236

    Azarmîdokht, 113

    Azd, _Beni_, 51, 53

    Azerbâijân, 258, 259

    Báalbek, 205

    Babylon, 70;
      battle of, 113;
      Sád encamps at, 178

    Backî, burying-ground of Medîna, 282, 341

    Bactrian camels, 52

    Bâdacla, 70, 135, 175

    Baghdad, 450

    Bahân, 93, 104

    Bahmân, 75, 129, 131, 166

    Bahra, _Beni_, 103

    Bahram Gour, 79

    Bahrein, 18, 21, 47, 49

    Bajîla, _Beni_, 133, 169

    Balkh, 259

    Barca, 247, 299

    Basilica of Virgin, 209

    Battle of Acraba (Yemâma), ‘Garden of Death,’ 39–43

    -- -- Alexandria, 241, 247, 301

    -- -- Allîs, 76, 82, 132

    -- -- Babylon, 113

    -- -- Boweib, Field of Tens, 135

    -- -- Bozâkha, 25, 27

    -- -- the Bridge, 130, 170

    -- -- Câdesîya, 167

    -- -- the Camel, (Bussorah), 363

    -- -- Chains, 72

    -- -- Dabâ, 51

    -- -- Fihl (Pella), 152

    -- -- Firâdh, 90

    -- -- the ‘Garden of Death,’ 43

    -- -- Siffîn, 380

    Bedouin faction, 227;
      opposed to Coreish, 294, 370

    Bedouins, 61, 69;
      Syrian, 105, 211

    Beisân, 150

    Beit-Jibrîn, 206

    Bekr ibn Wâil, _Beni_, 38, 49, 76, 360

    Belâdzori, vi

    Belbeis, 245

    Belcâa, 97

    Berâa, 43

    Beth Gabara, 206

    Bethlehem, 210

    Bilâl, 220, 238, 276

    Birs Nimrûd, 70, 112, 164, 178

    Bishoprics, 49;
      Bishop of Ayla, entertains Omar, 236

    Bishr, 90

    Bitâh, 33

    Bodeir, 89

    Booty, 176, 184, 188, 258

    Bosor, his raid on Arabia, 408

    Bostra, 69, 87, 97, 153

    Bowaj Rûd, 258

    Boweib, battle of, 135

    Bozâkha, 17, 24;
      battle of, 25, 27

    Bridge, battle of, 130, 170

    Bubastis, 241

    Burân, Queen Mother of Persia, 180

    Bussir, 4, 49

    Bussorah, founded, 192, 195 _et seq._, 249, 250, 264, 270;
      change of governors, 305, 329, 348, 352, 364;
      insurrection at, 404

    Byzantine empire, 66, 203

    Cacâa, 85, 89, 108, 170, 172, 173 _et seq._, 188, 216, 320, 360,

    Câdesîya, 160 _et seq._;
      battle of, 167

    Cæsarea, 206–15, 218

    Câhira, _Al_, Cairo, 243

    Calansua, Syrian hat, 220

    Caliph, 5, 285

    Caliphate, unity of, 375;
      double, 410;
      extinct, 450, 458

    Camel, Battle of, 363 _et seq._

    Canal, from Nile to Suez, 244

    Canals, administration of, in Chaldæa, 230

    Captives, female, 37, 75

    Cariatein, 103

    Cârin, 74

    Carmel, 205

    Carthage, 299

    Câsim, 438

    Caspian, 258, 296

    Castle of Sád, 194

    Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, at Damascus, 145, 149

    Catholicos, of Egypt, 241

    Catîf, 47

    Caussin de Perceval, vii

    Cavalry, reserves of, 231

    Caycar, 98

    Cays ibn Abd Yaghûth, 54, 55

    Cays ibn Asim, 48

    Cays, son of Sád ibn Obâda, 347;
      Governor of Egypt, 371;
      recalled, 372, 402;
      submits to Muâvia, 419

    Chains, Battle of, 72

    Chaldæa, 66

    China, 259

    Chosroes, 67

    Christians, 38, 49, 61, 66, 69, 76;
      at Hîra, 81, 86, 105, 131, 134, 136, 137, 177, 190, 201, 210
          _et seq._;
      disabilities, 213, 217 _et seq._;
      expelled from Najrân, 223, 248;
      captives, 406, 452

    Churches, 145, 210;
      prohibition against new, 213

    Church of the Resurrection, at Jerusalem, 210;
      of Constantine, 210;
      of Nativity, 210

    Cilicia, 215

    Clients, 63, 228, 260

    Codeis, 160, 166

    Codhâa, _Beni_, 10, 18, 40, 93, 103

    Commander of the Faithful, 285

    Companions, 1, 18, 95, 101, 160, 227, 374

    Conspirators, advance of, on Medîna, 329

    Constans II., 302

    Constantine, 302

    Convent of Khâlid, 211

    Corâcar, 102

    Corân, raised aloft in battle, 42, 384 _et seq._;
      Readers of, 45;
      how compiled, 231;
      created or eternal, 452

    Cordova, 449

    Coreish, 227;
      migrate to Irâc, 308;
      vaunt themselves against Arabs, 316;
      Garden of, 317, 454

    Corra ibn Hobeira, 27

    Coss Nâtick, 83, 129

    Ctesiphon, 67, 70, 179

    Cutham, son of Abbâs, 350

    Cyprus, 301

    Dabâ, battle of, 51

    Dadweih, 54

    Dahna, desert of, 48

    Dâira Hind, 265

    Damascus, 97, 103;
      siege, 145;
      capitulation, 148, 154, 200, 205, 348

    Daniel the prophet’s tomb, 252

    Darâbgird, miracle of, 260

    Darârkis, 98

    Dâr al Salâm, Baghdad, 450

    Dârîm, _Beni_, 30

    Dârin, island, 49

    Dates, royal, 128

    Dâthin, 97

    ‘Day of Tears,’ 353

    ‘Days of Ignorance,’ the, 64

    Dead Sea, 204

    Delta of Euphrates, 191

    Dewân of Omar, or Civil List, 225 _et seq._

    Dhabba accuses Abu Mûsa, 266

    Dhahhâk ibn Cays, 394 _note_

    Dhirâr, 24, 34, 109, 111;
      punished for drunkenness, 273

    Dihcâns, 71, 83, 91, 230

    Divorce, 457

    Doluk, 201

    Drought, 232

    Dûma, 10;
      stormed, 87, 88, 101

    Dura, Plain of, 70, 113, 179

    Dzât Irc, 353 _note_

    Dzobiân, _Beni_, 13, 17

    Dzu Câr, 78, 360

    Dzul Cassa, 13, 17, 18, 40

    Dzul Hâjib, 166

    Dzul Kelâa, 54, 93, 94, 383

    Dzu Nowâs, the Jewish persecutor, 223

    Ebnâa, of Persian or Indian descent, 49, 54

    Edessa, 217

    Edrisite dynasty, 450

    Egypt, sends grain to Arabia, 234;
      conquest of, 239 _et seq._;
      sedition in, 317, 329, 348;
      conquered by Amru, 401 _et seq._, 450

    Electors appointed by Omar, 280 _et seq._, 286

    Elephants, 73, 113, 130, 166, 169, 172;
       portentous sight of, 173

    Elwand, 257

    Esdräelon, 150

    Euphrates, 70, 130;
      canals, 230

    Fadak, 64, 224

    Famine, 232

    Farazdac, 113, 436

    Faroma, 241

    Fars, 259

    Fâtima, 6, 64, 224, 276, 282, 449

    Fâtima, daughter of Aly, 439

    Fellahîn, 71, 74, 194

    Felûgia, Felâlij, 85

    Female slavery, 273, 457

    Feroze, 54, 58

    Fezâra, _Beni_, 25

    Fifth of booty, 16

    Fihl (Pella), 150;
      battle of, 152

    Firâdh, battle of, 90

    Firuzân, 174, 257

    Fostât, 243, 247, 329

    Free-thinkers, 452

    Free-will, 452

    Fujâa, a rebel, burned to death, 29

    Gabala (Jabala), 203

    Gabriel, 25

    Gadara, 152

    Garden of Death, 43

    ‘Garden of the Coreish,’ 317, 320

    Gaza, 206

    Ghâficky, _Al_, the regicide, 335 _note_, 340

    Ghâlib, his song at Câdesîya, 168

    Ghassân, _Beni_, 69, 87, 202

    Ghatafân, _Beni_, 23, 25, 27

    Ghauth, _Beni_, 24

    Ghâzies, 382

    Ghimâs (Câdesîya), 168, 171

    Ghîzeh, 243

    Ghôr, 97, 150, 152, 205

    Ghûta, 144

    Gilead, 141

    Greeks, in Egypt, 242

    Gregory, 299

    Habîb, 394

    Hadhramaut, 21, 56

    Hafîr, 72

    Hajjâj, 445

    Hakam ibn Jabala, 333

    Hakîm ibn Hizâm, 340

    Hâma, 199

    Hamadan, 256, 257

    Hamza, 44

    Hâni, 435

    Hanîfa, _Beni_, 38 _et seq._, 44, 45, 48

    Hanifite, the, Aly’s wife, 89

    Hantzala, 337

    Hantzala, _Beni_, 30

    Haphsa, widow of Mahomet, 2, 231, 307, 353

    Haram, at Jerusalem, 209

    Haram, in Hejâz, 263

    Harîr, or Night of Clangour (Câdesîya), 168, 173

    Harôra, 389

    Harrân, 217

    Hasan, 65, 350, 359, 394, 414;
      becomes Caliph, 418;
      abdicates, 419, 422, 442

    Hâshim, _Beni_, 227

    Hâshim ibn Otba, 153, 172, 179 _et seq._;
      killed at Siffîn, 382

    Hassân ibn Thâbit, 202, 343

    Haurân, 205

    Hawâb, dogs of, 354

    Hawâzin, _Beni_, 26, 27

    Hebron, 97

    Hegira, 1;
      era established, 271

    Hejer, 47, 50

    Heliopolis, 241, 242

    Heraclius, 67, 97, 201;
      death of, 243

    Hims, 198, 216

    Himyar, 51;
      troops, 146

    Hind, daughter of Nómân, 265

    Hindia, western branch of Euphrates, 70, 135, 175

    Hind, wife of Abu Sofiân, 237, 277

    Hîra, 49, 68, 76, 78;
      capitulates, 79 _et seq._, 85, 127, 161, 164;
      reoccupied, 178

    Hît, 190, 199

    Hobâb, 4

    Hodeibía, 226, 386

    Hodzeifa, 18, 51, 307

    Hodzeil, 85, 90

    Holwân, 190, 249, 256

    Horcus, 90

    Horcûs, 251

    Hormuz, 72, 112

    Hormuzân, 166, 250, 252, 254;
      murder of, 293

    Honey-bee, part of the Lord’s host, 257

    Horr, 436 _et seq._

    Hosein, 65, 394, 414, 434;
      march to Kûfa, 435 _et seq._;
      death, 440

    Hotem, 48, 49

    Houries, 105

    Ibn Aámir, Governor of Bussorah, 305, 317, 326;
      sends help for Othmân, 334, 347

    Ibn Abbâs, 282, 345, 350, 355;
      Governor of Bussorah, 368, 393, 394, 396, 409

    Ibn Abu Sarh, 248, 290, 298, 299, 324, 326, 329

    Ibn Backîla, 82

    Ibn Honeif, 347, 356 _et seq._

    Ibn Ishâc, 21

    Ibn Khaldûn, vi

    Ibn Masûd, 270, 304, 307;
      death of, 311

    Ibn Muljam, the assassin, 412;
      body burned, 414

    Ibn Sauda (Ibn Saba), 316, 362

    Ibn Zobeir, 353, 367, 391, 430, 435, 434, 443;
      death, 446

    Iddat, interval before cohabitation, 75

    Ikrima, 18, 39, 51, 52, 55, 57, 58, 93, 97, 108;
      death, 111

    Imâmate in Aly’s family, 417, 451

    Imprecation of Caliphs, 394, 421

    Imrulcays, _Beni_, 30

    Indian Ocean, 296

    Irâc Araby, 70;
      field measurement, 230, 249, 308, 348

    Isfandiar, 258

    Islam for Arabia, 17, 224

    Ispahan, 259

    Istakhr (Persepolis), 249, 256

    Iwân, 180

    Iyâdh, 68, 84, 87, 89, 217

    Iyâdh, _Beni_, 190, 217

    Iyâs ibn Cabîsa, 78, 80

    Jabala, 87, 88, 202

    Jabân, 127, 132

    Jâbia, 94, 97, 205, 207, 208, 235

    Jacob’s Pillow, 209

    Jadîla, _Beni_, 24, 139

    Jalenûs, 174, 175

    Jalôla, battle of, 187

    Jarîr, 133, 139, 376

    Jârjea, 97, 107, 109

    Jarûd, 47, 49

    Jaulân, 94, 141

    Jazia, tribute, 218

    Jehâd, Sura, 167

    Jerâsh, 153

    Jerusalem, 202, 206;
      capitulation, 207

    Jews, 153, 211;
      expelled from Kheibar, 224, 452

    Jeyfar, 51

    Jezîra, 69

    Jobeir, 269

    Jobeir ibn Motím, 340

    Jôf, 68

    John, son of Zacharias, his tomb, 206

    Jondob, 304, 318

    Joppa, 206

    Jordan (Ordonna), 153, 205

    Jorf, 8, 96

    Jûdi, 87, 88

    Jundai-Sabûr, 252

    Káb, the Rabbin, 236, 279, 310

    Kâbul, 296

    Kahânat (soothsaying), 26

    Karoon, river, 251, 252

    Kaskar, 127

    Kelb, _Beni_, 87, 415

    Kerâmat, 80

    Kerbala, 437;
      tragedy of, 438

    Kermân, 259, 260, 297

    Khabûr, 191

    Khâcân, 259

    Khaffân, 128

    Khâlid ibn Saîd, 17, 53;
      his defeat, 92;
      death, 94

    Khâlid ibn Welîd, 18;
      his character, 21;
      discomfits Toleiha, 22 _et seq._, 27;
      attacks Mâlik ibn Noweira, 32;
      marries his widow, 34;
      and Mojâa’s daughter, 46;
      the ‘Sword of the Lord,’ 68;
      in Irâc, 72 _et seq._;
      kills Hormuz, 73;
      speech, 75, 82;
      cruelty, 76, 86, 79;
      frets at inaction, 84, 88;
      pilgrimage incognito, 91;
      transferred to Syria, 100;
      march across desert, 101;
      commands on the Yermûk, 106 _et seq._;
      deposed, 111, 143;
      storms Damascus, 146; 199 _et seq._;
      received back into favour, 204, 207, 216 _et seq._;
      arraigned for malversation, 219;
      death, 221, 276, 284

    Khanâfis, 138

    Khandac, Trench of Sapor, 71, 160, 165

    Khansa, Al, 28

    Kharanba, 347, 402

    Khârejites, 388 _et seq._;
      hostile attitude towards Aly, 395;
      defeated at Nehrwân, 399;
      origin of name, 400;
      émeutes, 405, 443, 444, 454

    Khaulân, 54

    Khawarnac palace, 79, 82, 161

    Khazraj, _Beni_, 4, 5, 61

    Kheibar, 22, 64, 224

    Khirrît, the Khârejite rebel, 405

    Khorasan, 259

    Khuzistân, 249, 250

    Kibla, 209

    Kinda, _Beni_, 56

    Kindy, _Al_, 23, 75, 220, 416, 452

    Kinnisrîn (Chalcis), 199, 200, 204

    Kirckesia, 190, 199

    Kremer, Herr von, vii

    Kubbet al Sakhra, 209

    Kûfa, 70;
      founded, 193, 195 _et seq._, 216;
      threatened by Yezdegird, 256, 270, 297;
      change of governors, 303;
      émeute, 317, 329, 348;
      assists Aly, 359, 364;
      seat of Aly’s government, 369;
      indifferent to Aly, 398, 403

    Kûtha, 179

    Lackît, 51

    Lady’s Castle, the, 73

    Lakhmite dynasty, 69, 78

    Laodicea, 199

    Leila, 34, 36, 41;
      Abu Bekr’s son enamoured of her, 272

    Lesser Pilgrimage, 329

    Levant, 298

    Lydda, 206

    Maâb, 97, 153

    Maára, 199

    Madzâr, Battle of, 74

    Mahomet, death of, 1;
      burial, 5, 20, 27, 36, 38;
      woman betrothed to him, 59, 76, 223, 224, 286;
      his ring, 314, 354;
      pulpit, 425

    Mâhra, 18, 51, 52

    Mâlik, _Beni_, 30

    Mâlik ibn Noweira, 30 _et seq._, 221, 222

    Mamûn, Al, 450, 452

    Marásh (Germanica), 201

    Marj al Soffar, 94

    Marj Arjûn, 206

    Mary, Coptic maid, 276

    Masbazân, 190

    Mascala, 406

    Masjid al Acksa, at Jerusalem, 209

    Maskat, 51

    Masûd, brother of Mothanna, 137

    Masûdy, 309

    Mecca, 52, 263, 351

    Medâin, 67, 70, 84, 162, 179;
      western suburb taken, 181;
      capture of city, 183;
      spoil, 184;
      jewelled carpet, 185, 193

    Medîna threatened, 10

    Mehrân, 135

    Melchite and Maronite patriarchs, 248

    Membaj, 377

    Memphis, 241

    Menbij (Hierapolis), 201

    Merve, 259, 450

    Merwân, 300, 322, 324, 332, 338, 339, 354, 372, 429;
      Caliph, 446

    Mesopotamia, 69;
      Upper, 217

    Micdâd, 288, 290

    Minas, 200

    Ministers of religion, 270

    Miracle of lake, 48;
      of the sea, 49;
      of Darâbgird, 260

    Misr, 241

    Moâdz ibn Jabal, 56, 132;
      dies in plague, 235

    Moánna, 74

    Mocarran, sons of, 14

    Modeya, 90

    Moghîra ibn Shoba, Governor of Bussorah, 192;
      deposed, 264;
      appointed to Kûfa, 269, 278, 284, 288, 345, 423, 425, 429

    Moghîra, the Thackîfite, 338, 340

    Mohâjir, 18, 52, 56, 57, 58

    Mohakkem, 42, 44

    Mohammed, doctor of Bussorah, 86

    Mohammed, Hanify, son of Aly, 350, 381

    Mohammed ibn Coteira, 333

    Mohammed ibn Maslama, 194, 248, 325, 333

    Mohammed, son of Abu Bekr, 302, 313, 330, 338, 339, 360;
      Governor of Egypt, 372, 392, 394, 402;
      killed, 403

    Mohammed, son of Abu Hodzeifa, 302, 313, 330, 370

    Mohammed, son of Talha, 391

    ‘Moharram,’ the, 442

    Mojâa, 40 _et seq._, 44;
      Khâlid marries his daughter, 46

    Mondzir, chief of Bahrein, 47

    Moseilama, 18, 23;
      marries Sajâh, 31, 38;
      killed, 43;
      sayings, 45

    Mosque of Omar, 209

    Motammim, 34 _et seq._

    Motázelites, 451 _et seq._

    Mothanna, 50, 67, 74, 84, 101, 112 _et seq._;
      retrieves defeat at Bridge, 131;
      gains battle of Boweib, 135;
      his horse, ‘the Rebel,’ 136;
      suspended, 139;
      character, 135, 139, 155;
      death, 159;
      his widow Selma, 159, 170

    _Mothers of the Faithful_, Mahomet’s widows, 59, 225, 278

    ‘Mount of the Eagle,’ 103

    Muâvia, 218;
      appointed Governor of Syria, 237;
      his mother Hind, 277, 294;
      attacked by Romans, 297, 310, 319, 326;
      sends help to Othmân, 334, 345;
      letter to Aly, 349;
      machinations against Cays, 372;
      joined by Amru, 373;
      marches to meet Aly, 378;
      at battle of Siffîn, 379 _et seq._;
      arbitration, 386;
      saluted Caliph, 394;
      gains Egypt, 403;
      raid against Irâc, 407;
      visits Mosul, 408;
      truce with Aly, 410;
      escapes assassination, 412;
      sole Caliph, 419;
      declares Yezîd heir apparent, 429;
      death, 433

    Mucoucus, 241 _et seq._

    Muedzzin, 175, 238

    Muhâjerîn, or Refugees, 5

    Mukhtâr, 445

    Mundzir, Gharûr, 49

    Mundzir, Prince of Hîra, 82

    Murad, _Beni_, 55

    Mûsa, conqueror of Spain, 86

    Muslim, killed, 435

    Mûta, 8, 22, 82

    Nablûs, 206

    Nahr Shîr, 84, 179

    Nâila, Othmân’s wife, 315, 339;
      her fingers hung up at Damascus, 342, 348

    Najaf, 79;
      Sea of, 135, 161, 414

    Najrân, 53, 55;
      Christians of, 223

    Namârick, 128

    Namr, _Beni_, 31, 134, 137, 190

    Narsa, 127

    Naval enterprise, 264, 300

    Nefûd, desert, 101

    Negus of Abyssinia, 223

    Nehâvend, 266;
      battle of, 257, 278

    Nestorians, 49

    Night of Clangour (Câdesîya), 168, 173

    Nile, 241, 242, 245;
      Omar’s letter to, 246

    Nisibîn, 216, 217

    Nóeim ibn Mocarrin, 258

    Nojeir, 57, 64

    Nokheila, 401

    Nómân ibn Mocarrin, 14, 251, 252, 256;
      his death, 257

    Nómân, Prince of Hîra, 79

    Noseir, 86

    Nubians, 242

    Obeidallah, son of Abbâs, his little children put to death, 408

    Obeidallah, son of Omar, 381

    Obeidallah, son of Ziâd, 435 _et seq._, 444

    Obna, 10

    Obolla, 76, 191, 192

    Odzeib, 160, 171

    Ohod, 22, 44

    Okeidar, 87, 88

    Okkâsha, 25

    Omân, 21, 47, 50

    Omar, described, 2, 275, 283, 4, 6, 9, 18, 28 _note_;
      angry with Khâlid, 34, 46, 90;
      mourns for his brother Zeid, 45, 50;
      frees all Arab slaves, 64;
      judge, 65;
      deposes Khâlid, 111, 114;
      accession to Caliphate, 125, 132;
      orders new levies, 133, 156;
      receives tidings of victory at Câdesîya, 177;
      weeps at seeing spoil, 189;
      forbids advance on Persia, 189, 203, 249;
      visits Jerusalem, 207 _et seq._;
      journeys to Jâbia, 216;
      arraigns Khâlid, 219;
      his Dewân, 225;
      compiles Corân, 231;
      administration of famine, 232;
      in the plague, 234;
      progress through Syria, 236;
      entertained by a bishop, 236;
      performs pilgrimage, 238;
      conquers Egypt, 239 _et seq._;
      letter to the Nile, 246;
      releases Hormuzân, 253;
      pressed to allow advance on Persia, 255;
      sends army against Persia, 256;
      miraculous interposition of, to save Saria, 261;
      enlarges square at Mecca, 263;
      dread of naval enterprise, 264;
      acquits Abu Mûsa, 267;
      establishes era of Hegira, 271;
      simplicity, 273;
      marries Omm Kolthûm, 276;
      last pilgrimage, 278;
      assassination, 280;
      appoints Electors, 280;
      death, 283;
      burial, 285, 286, 306, 456

    Omeyyad, _Beni_, 294, 316;
      dynasty, 443, 446;
      in Spain, 449

    Omm al Banîn, 315

    Omm al Fâdhl, widow of Abbâs, 355

    Omm Ayman, 65

    Omm Farwa, 58, 120

    Omm Habîba, 336

    Omm Keis, 152

    Omm Kirfa, 27

    Omm Kolthûm, 203;
      Omar’s wife, 276, 413, 415

    Omm Salma, 55

    Omm Siml, 27

    Omm Walad, 265, 272

    Omra, or Lesser Pilgrimage, 329

    Ordinances of Omar, 212, 452

    Ordonna (Jordan), 153, 205

    Orontes, 199, 203

    Orthodoxy, intolerant, 455

    Orwa, 318

    Osâma, expedition, 8 _et seq._, 16, 325

    Otba, 191, 249, 251, 264

    Othmân, 275;
      appointed Elector, 280;
      elected Caliph, 291, 294;
      appoints Abu Sarh over Egypt, 298;
      outlook darkens, 302;
      recension of Corân, 307;
      palace, 309;
      puts down unlawful amusements, 311;
      enlarges square of Káaba, 312;
      embellishes Mosque at Medîna, 312;
      alters rites of pilgrimage, 313;
      loses Prophet’s ring, 314;
      sinks wells, 314;
      marries Nâila, 315;
      gives in to Kûfa, 320;
      Aly expostulates with him, 321;
      appeals to the people, 322;
      last pilgrimage, 323;
      contumeliously treated, 324;
      complaints invited, 325;
      conference with governors, 326;
      attacked by regicides, 329 _et seq._;
      addresses them, 335;
      blockade, 337;
      slain, 339;
      character, 341;
      bloody shirt hung up at Damascus, 348, 374, 376

    Othmân ibn al Aás, 52

    Othmân ibn Honeif (_see_ Ibn Honeif)

    Oxus, 259, 296

    Oyeina, 23, 25, 27, 28, 315

    Palestine, 200, 205, 211

    Paradise, 105

    Patriarch, Jerusalem, 208;
      Maronite, 248

    Pella, 150

    Persepolis, 249, 255

    Persian Gulf, 191

    Persians, 72 _et seq._, 76, 90

    Persia, war in, 296;
      Shîyite, 455

    Phacûsa (Tel Fâkhus), 245

    Pilgrimage, 65;
      Khâlid’s incognito, 91;
      rules altered by Othmân, 313, 323

    ‘Pilgrimage to Nejd,’ 101

    Plague, 234

    Polygamy, 457

    Predestination, 211, 235

    Promised Land, 95

    Rabadza, 13, 16

    Rabia, 21

    Rajjâl, 39, 41

    Rama (Arimathea), 206

    Ramh, 206

    Râm Hormuz, 249, 251

    Ramleh, 206, 211

    _Readers_ of Corân, 45, 231, 381

    ‘Refugees,’ 5, 32, 126, 227

    Regicides attack Medîna, 329;
      return with document bearing Othmân’s seal, 331

    Register (Dewân) of Arab race, 229

    Rei, captured, 258

    Retribution, law of, 202

    Ricca, 216, 377

    Ring of Mahomet, 314

    ‘River of Blood,’ 76

    Roha, 199, 216, 217

    Roman army, 90, 92, 104, 190;
      and fleet, 215

    Roman empire, 66

    Rustem, 126, 155, 163;
      forebodings of, 165;
      killed, 174

    Sabât, 138, 179

    Sacalâr 152

    Sád ibn (Mâlik) Abu Wackkâs, 157;
      marches to Irác, 158;
      marries Selma, Mothanna’s widow, 159;
      reorganises army, 159;
      battle of Câdesîya, 167;
      upbraided by Selma, 170;
      captures Medâin, 183;
      his castle, 194;
      deposed, 268;
      appointed Elector, 280, 287;
      again appointed to Kûfa, 303;
      superseded, 303, 326, 343

    Sád ibn Obáda, 3 _et seq._, 6, 371

    Saffâh, _Al_, ‘the Bloody,’ 449

    Safia, 37, 76

    Safwân, 15, 351

    Sahba, 89

    Saîd, Governor of Kûfa, 306;
      expelled by citizens, 319;
      servant killed, 320, 353

    Sajâh, Prophetess, 23, 30 _et seq._, 39, 85

    Sakatia, 129

    Sakûn, _Beni_, 56

    Salahiya, in Egypt, 241

    Sâlim, 42

    Salmân, 183

    Salûba, 83

    Samaritans, 153, 211

    Samsât (Samosata), 201

    _Samsât_, the sword, 53, 92

    Sanâa, 54, 56

    Saria, 260

    Sawâd, 83, 179, 194;
      ‘Garden of Coreish’, 317 _et seq._, 320

    Sayhad, desert, 57

    Sea of Najaf, 71

    Sebastia, 206

    Second coming, 317

    Sedîr, palace, 82

    Sejestan, 259, 370

    Seleucia, 70, 179

    Service of victory;
      at Hîra, 82, 83;
      at Medâin, 184

    Servile population, 344

    Shahrîrân, 112, 113

    Shaizar, 199

    Shamir, 438, 440, 445

    Shanas, Roman general, 198

    Shât al Arab, 191

    Sheibân, _Beni_, 31, 50

    Sherâf, 158

    Shîyas, 448 _et seq._, 451;
      tolerant, 455

    Shorahbîl, 18, 39, 40, 94, 97, 108, 152, 153, 205, 208, 237

    Shoreih, 391, 394

    Showeil, 80

    Shuhîb, 413

    Shusan, 252

    Shuster (Tostar), 251

    Sicily, 450

    Siffîn, 378;
      battle of, 379 _et seq._

    Sinnimâr, 79

    Sirhân, Wady, 102

    Sirîn, 86

    Siroes, 67, 84, 127, 155

    Slavery, female, 273, 457

    Slaves, Arab, set free, 68

    Society, Moslem, 271, 273 _et seq._

    Sohâr, 51

    Soheil, 96

    Sommeyya, 290, 380

    Songstresses, two, mutilated, 59

    Soofeeism, 455

    Soonnies, 455

    Sophronius, Bishop of Jerusalem, 208, 210

    Spain, 449

    Spoil, at Câdesîya, 176;
      at Medâin, 184;
      at Jalôla, 188

    Succession, 7, 286, 427 _et seq._

    Sudân, the regicide, 340

    Suez Canal, 244

    Suleim, _Beni_, 26, 27

    Sunh, _Al_, 121

    _Sunnat_, 451, 455

    Sûra, 179

    Sûr al Rûm, 377

    Sûras, read before battle, 167;
      at Medaîn, 184;
      how compiled, 231

    Sûs (Shushan), 252

    Suwâ, 103

    ‘Sword of God,’ ‘Sword of the Lord,’ name of Khâlid, 68, 77, 107

    Syria, attacked, 94;
      east of Jordan, described, 141;
      Northern, 198 _et seq._, 205, 211, 215;
      field measurement, 230;
      sends grain to Hejâz, 233, 297, 348, 350, 370, 374;
      invaded by Aly, 377, 408

    Syrian desert, 68

    Tabari, vi, 21, 77

    Tadmor, 103, 154

    Tadzâric, 98

    Tâghlib, _Beni_, 31, 89, 137, 190;
      Christian, 218, 406

    Tâhir, 53

    Tâhirite dynasty, 450

    Tâk i Kesra, 179

    Talha, 6, 117;
      appointed Elector, 280, 287, 329 _et seq._;
      sends son to protect Othmân, 334, 342 _et seq._, 350;
      retires to Mecca, 352, 353;
      marches on Bussorah, 354;
      its occupation, 356 _et seq._;
      Battle of Camel, 361 _et seq._;
      killed, 364, 366

    Tay, _Beni_, 15, 22;
      reclaimed, 24, 27, 131, 436

    Tâyif, 52, 53, 55

    Tebûk, 55

    Tekrît, 181, 190

    Tell Azâz, 201

    Temîm, _Beni_, 15;
      described, 30, 48, 360, 436

    Thâbit ibn Cays, 22, 42, 318

    Thackîf, _Beni_, 131

    Theocratic faction, 388

    Theodore, 198

    Theodoric, 97

    Thinia, 90

    Thomâma, 48

    ‘Three Hundred’ of Bedr, 95

    Tiberias, 153, 205, 208

    Tiflis, 298

    Tigris, 71, 130, 179;
      swum by Arab cavalry, 183;
      canals, 230

    Tihâma, 52

    Timoor, passage of Tigris by, 183

    Tithe, 218

    Toleiha, 13, 17, 21 _et seq._;
      defeated, 25, 26, 164, 173, 257, 318

    Tostar (Shuster), 251

    Tower of Babel, 70

    Tradition, 20

    Trench of Sapor, 71, 160, 165

    Tripoli (Africa), 247, 299

    Tumlât, valley of, 245

    Turks, 259, 297;
      mercenaries, 453

    Veiled prophet, 52

    Veil, the, 265, 458

    _Victory_, Service of, 82

    Villains’ Road, the, 53

    Volcano near Medîna, 263

    Voluptuousness, 273

    Wacûsa, 98

    Wâdi al Cora, 10, 94

    Wahshi, 43

    Walaja, battle of, 75

    Wâsit, 447

    ‘Waterer of the two Holy Places’ (Abbâs), 233

    Welîd ibn Ocba, 87, 93, 94, 303;
      deposed for inebriety, 304, 394

    Welîd the Caliph, 447

    White Palace of Medâin, 180

    Widows of Mahomet, 59, 225, 278

    Windmill, 279

    Wine forbidden, as a bath, 219;
      intemperance in, 273

    Women, Moslem, fight, 138;
      and children give _coup de grâce_ to wounded enemies, 175;
      influence of captive, 273

    Yabna, 206

    Yála, 347

    Year, Mussulman, viii

    ‘Year of Ashes,’ 232

    Yemâma, 21, 38 _et seq._;
      battle of, 41

    Yemen, 18, 21, 55, 56

    Yenbó, 245

    Yerbóa, _Beni_, 30 _et seq._

    Yermûk, 98

    Yezdegird, 127, 155;
      deputation to, at Medâin, 162, 251, 255, 258;
      his death, 259, 297

    Yezîd, 95, 97, 108, 198, 207, 218, 276

    Yezîd ibn Cays, 388

    Yezîd, son of Muâvia, declared heir apparent, 429;
      becomes Caliph, 433, 434, 443, 446

    Zab, battles on the, 445, 449

    Zeid, brother of Omar, 36;
      killed, 42, 45

    Zeid ibn Thâbit, 123;
      compiles Corân, 231, 309, 333, 343

    Zeinab, 276, 415

    Ziâd, 56, 188, 265, 267, 368, 407, 423;
      declared brother of Muâvia, 424, 429

    Ziâd ibn Lebîd, 293

    Zibricân, 15, 48, 50

    Zimmies, 83, 194, 301, 318

    Zobeid, _Beni_, 53

    Zobeir, 6, 240 _et seq._;
      appointed Elector, 280, 287, 309, 327, 328, 329 _et seq._;
      sends son to protect Othmân, 334 _et seq._, 350;
      retires to Mecca, 352;
      marches on Busserah, 354;
      its occupation by, 356;
      Battle of Camel, 361 _et seq._;
      killed, 364, 366

    Zohra, 164, 176, 179

    Zohra, _Beni_, 289

    Zomeil, 90

    Zoroastrians, 72, 259, 260


[1] Manuscripts of the whole work have, however, been procured, and are
now being published on the Continent, but not in time to be available
for this work. They will serve hereafter to correct, perhaps, some of
the doubtful points of the history on which, from the scantiness of the
material, I may have gone astray.

[2] _Geschichte der Chalifen_, 3 vols., Mannheim, 1846–1851.

[3] _Culturgeschichte des Orients unter den Chalifen_, Wien, 1875.

[4] The date ordinarily given as that of the Prophet’s death is the
12th Rabi I. See note p. 280, _Life of Mahomet_, vol. iv.

For the term ‘Companion,’ technically used to signify all who had a
personal acquaintance with the Prophet, see _ibid._ p. 564.

The era of the Hegira was established by Omar, five or six years after
the Prophet’s death. The first Moharram of the first year of the Hegira
corresponds with 19th April, A.D. 622. The real _hegira_,
or flight of Mahomet from Mecca, took place two months later (June 20).
See _ibid._ p. 145, and _C. de Perceval_, vol. iii. p. 17.

[5] _Al Siddîck_; _ibid_. vol. ii. 102, 220. He was also
called ‘the Sighing one,’ from his compassionate nature.

[6] Meaning a palm-trunk left for the beasts to come and rub themselves
upon; a metaphor for a person much resorted to for counsel. Hobâb was
the chief whom Mahomet employed to reconnoitre the enemy at Bedr.

[7] The Arabian mode of swearing fealty. The chief held out his hand,
and the people one by one struck their hand flat upon it as they passed.

[8] It will be remembered that the native population of Medîna was
divided into the _Aus_ and _Khazraj_, and Sád belonged to
the latter. Enmity and fighting had long prevailed between them before
Mahomet’s arrival (_Life of Mahomet_, p. 119).

[9] The followers of Mahomet were divided into the _Muhâjerîn_, or
Refugees from Mecca and elsewhere; and the _Ansâr_ or Helpers, the
citizens of Medîna (_Ibid._ p. 189).

[10] The tradition regarding Zobeir and Talha, perhaps arose from
their attempt at the Caliphate, and refusal to acknowledge Aly, five
and twenty years afterwards. As to Aly himself, the traditions vary.
By some he is said to have been among the first to swear fealty to Abu
Bekr. But the more general tradition is that he did not do so till
Fâtima, who had a grudge against Abu Bekr for her father’s patrimony,
died (_Life of Mahomet_, p. 516). There are other tales, but
they all bear the stamp of Abbasside fabrication; such as of Omar
threatening to burn Aly’s house over his head; Zobeir rushing out with
a sword, &c. We are even told that Abu Sofiân taunted Aly and Abbâs
with allowing an insignificant branch of the Coreish to seize the
Caliphate from them; likened them to a hungry donkey tethered up, or to
a tent-peg made only to be beaten; and offered to help them with horse
and foot, but that Aly declined his offer. These stories are childish
and apocryphal. There is absolutely nothing in the antecedents of Aly,
or his subsequent history, to render it in the least probable that
during the first two Caliphates, he advanced any claim whatever, or
indeed was in a position to do so. It was not till the reign of Othmân
that any idea arose of a superior right in virtue of his having been
the cousin of Mahomet and husband of Fâtima.

It is said that as the people crowded to the hall, where Sád lay sick,
to salute Abu Bekr, one cried out: ‘Have a care lest ye trample upon
Sád, and kill him under foot.’ ‘The Lord kill him, as he deserveth!’
was the response of the heated Omar. ‘Softly, Omar!’ interposed Abu
Bekr, ‘blandness and courtesy are better than curses and sharp words.’
Indeed, throughout this chapter Abu Bekr appears to great advantage.

[11] See _Life of Mahomet_, p. 500.

[12] _Life of Mahomet_, p. 498.

[13] Some others of the chief Companions, Aly, Zobeir, &c., appear also
to have remained behind; but they may possibly not have originally
formed a part of Osâma’s army ordered to reassemble.

[14] The chronology at this period is uncertain, and the dates only
approximate. On the Prophet’s death we plunge at once from light into
obscurity. For the next two or three years we are left in doubt, not
only as to the period, but even as to the sequence of important events
and great battles. In the narrative of this expedition, we only know
that the army started soon after Abu Bekr’s accession, but not before
the spirit of rebellion had begun to declare itself, which last,
according to one tradition, was within ten days of the Prophet’s death.

The length of the expedition varies, according to different traditions,
from 40 days to 70.

[15] See _Life of Mahomet_, chapter 32.

[16] _Ibid._ chapter xxx. Amru hastened home through Bahrein
immediately on hearing of Mahomet’s death. Corra ibn Hobeira, Chief
of the Beni Amir, took him aside, after a hospitable entertainment,
and advised, as the only way to avoid revolt, that the tithe upon
the Bedouins should be foregone. Amru stormed at him for this; and
subsequently, on Corra being brought in a prisoner, advised his
execution as an apostate.

On reaching Medîna, Amru made known the disheartening news to his
friends, who crowded round him. Omar coming up, all were silent, but
he divined what the subject of their converse was: ‘I think,’ he said,
‘that ye were speaking of what we have to fear from the Arab tribes?’
On their confessing, he made them swear that they would not discourage
the people by letting the matter spread, and added: ‘Fear ye not this
thing; verily I fear far more what the Arabs will suffer from you, than
what ye will suffer from them. Verily if a company of the Coreish were
to enter into a cave alone, the Bedouins would follow you into the
same. They are a servile crew: wherefore, fear the Lord, and fear not

[17] Or Abrac. For the Beni Abs and Dzobiân, see _Life of
Mahomet_, vol. i. pp. ccxxiv. et seq.

[18] The riding camels had all been sent away with Osâma’s army, and
the only ones now available were those used to irrigate the fields and
palmgroves. The stratagem, was curious. The Bedouins blew out their
empty water-skins (_mussucks_), and when thus buoyant and full of
air, they kicked them (as you would a foot-ball) in front of the Moslem
camels, which, affrighted at the strange sight, took to flight.

[19] The centre and wings were commanded by three sons of Mocarran, a
citizen of Medîna. These distinguished themselves on many occasions in
the Persian campaign. One of them, Nomân, was killed ten years after in
the decisive action of Nehâwend.

[20] For the royal Fifth, see _Sura_, viii. 41.

[21] There is a tradition that when Abu Bekr issued, sword in hand, to
go to Dzul Cassa, Aly caught hold of his bridle, exclaiming: ‘O Caliph,
I say to thee what the Prophet said to thee on the day of Ohod: _Put
up thy sword again and expose us not to lose thee_, for,
by the Lord! if we were to lose thee, the prop of Islam were gone.’
Whereupon Abu Bekr returned and went not forth.

But this probably refers to the expeditions shortly after sent out in
all directions from Dzul Cassa, as narrated below, and to Abu Bekr’s
return to Medîna at that time.

[22] The notion given by tradition is that these eleven columns were
despatched on their several expeditions all at once from Dzul Cassa,
in presence of Abu Bekr. This of course is possible, but it is very
improbable. The arrangements could hardly have been so speedily cut and
dry as that supposes. It is enough to know that, sooner or later, about
this time, or shortly after, these eleven expeditions started. Some of
the eleven, as given by tradition, seem hardly to have been separate

[23] Meaning, no doubt, that as governors they would have been
immediately subordinate to himself, exposed to much drudgery, and
liable to be called to account for their stewardship.

[24] For an account of this marvellous system of oral tradition, see
the Essay in the _Life of Mahomet_ on _the Sources for the
Biography_. The halo surrounding the Prophet casts something of its
brightness on the lives also of his chief Companions, whose biographies
are given by tradition in considerable detail; and from them we can
gather something of the early history incidentally.

[25] So uncertain is the chronology of this period, that Ibn Ishâc
makes the campaigns in Yemâma, Bahrein, and Yemen to be in the
twelfth year of the Hegira; whereas the received, and manifestly
correct, account, as ‘gathered from the learned of Syria,’ is that
the operations against the apostate tribes throughout Arabia were
brought practically to an end in the 11th year of the Hegira. Only one
exception is mentioned (and that somewhat obscurely) of a campaign
against Rabia, who was beaten by Khâlid. Amongst the spoils of the
expedition is mentioned the daughter of Rabia, who, as a slave-girl,
fell to the lot of Aly.

[26] _Life of Mahomet_, p. 427.

[27] _Ibid._ p. 409.

[28] We have met Thâbit before as a poet of renown and a chief of
influence, especially among the Beni Khazraj (_Ibid._ p. 449).

The strength of Khâlid’s column is nowhere mentioned, but, adverting
to the great number slain at Yemâma (although he was reinforced
meanwhile from Medîna), it could hardly have been less than twelve or
fifteen hundred, besides the 1,000 men contributed, as we shall see
immediately, by the Beni Tay.

[29] Had there been anything else in Toleiha’s teaching, there is
no reason why we should not have heard of it, as Toleiha, when he
returned to the faith, became a distinguished champion of Islam. There
may, however, have been a disinclination on his part to dwell on this
chapter of his life. Al Kindy, the Christian, speaks in his Apology
with greater respect of Moseilama’s sayings as calculated to draw
off the followers of Mahomet. But I see no evidence of this. See the
_Apology of Al Kindy_, p. 31 (Smith & Elder, 1881).

[30] A name familiar to us in the _Life of Mahomet_, see p. 323,

[31] The Beni Jadîla and Beni Ghauth.

[32] _Abu Bekr_ means ‘Father of the young camel,’ and they called
him by the nickname _Ab ul Fasîl_, ‘Father of the foal.’ Adî
answered, ‘He is not _Ab ul Fasîl_, but, if you like it, _Ab ul
Fahl_,’ ‘Father of the stallion,’ i.e. endowed with power and vigour.

In the Persian version of Tabari, the surname is by a mistake given
as _Ab ul Fadhl_, ‘the Father of Excellence,’ and is applied to

[33] Okkâsha was a warrior of renown and leader of some expeditions in
the time of Mahomet.

[34] The sub-tribe of the Beni Ghatafân to which Oyeina belonged.

[35] _Kahânat_, the term used for the gift possessed by the
heathen soothsayers. The sayings ascribed to Toleiha are childish in
the extreme. For example: ‘I command that ye make a millstone with a
handle, and the Lord shall cast it on whom he pleaseth;’ and again, ‘By
the pigeons and the doves, and the hungry falcons, I swear that our
kingdom shall in a few years reach to Irâc and Syria.’

[36] For the barbarous execution of Omm Kirfa, see _Life of
Mahomet_, chapter xviii. The malcontents here gathered together
were from all the tribes against which Khâlid had now been engaged in
warlike operations--the Ghatafân, Suleim, Hawâzin, Tay, and Asad.

[37] It was a vain excuse, but was founded on the principle
that no bloodshed, treachery, sin, or excess of any sort,
_before conversion_, cast any blot on the believer; but that
_apostasy_, however, repented of, left a stigma which could never
wholly be effaced. At first the Caliph would receive no aid whatever
from any tribe or individual who had apostatised; and, though when
levies came to be needed urgently, the ban was taken off, still to the
end no apostate chief was allowed a large command, or put over more
than a hundred men.

Among the Beni Suleim was Abu Shajra, son of the famous elegiac
poetess, Al Khansa. A martial piece which he composed in reference to
an engagement at this time contains the verse:--

    ‘And I slaked my thirsty spear in the blood of Khâlid’s troop.’

Some years after, he visited Medîna, while Omar was distributing the
tithe among the poor Arabs around the city: ‘Give to me,’ said the
stranger, ‘for I, too, am poor and needy.’ ‘And who art thou?’ asked
Omar. Being told his name, he cried out in anger: ‘Art not thou the
same that said, _I slaked my thirsty spear_, &c.?’ and he beat
him about the head with his whip till the poet was fain to run off to
his camel. A poem complaining of this treatment has been preserved, in
which he says:--

    ‘Abu Hafs (Omar) grudged me of his gifts,
     Although every one that shaketh even a tree getteth at least the
       leaves it sheddeth.’

Such poetical fragments, in the scantiness of the materials for this
early period, give at many points reality and fulness to the story.

[38] The account as here given is from Abu Bekr’s own son. According to
other traditions, Fujâa employed the arms, &., which he got from the
Caliph, in attacking the loyal sections of his own and neighbouring
tribes, and was therefore a pure rebel. It is more probable that he
carried his marauding expeditions indiscriminately against loyal and
disloyal, wherever there was the chance of plunder. Even in this view
Fujâa deserved exemplary punishment, had it been of a less barbarous

[39] See _Life of Mahomet_, vol. i. chap. iii. Some of the
sub-tribes were great and powerful, as the Beni Hantzala, Mâlik,
Imrulcays, Dârim; and here the Beni Yerbóa.

[40] _Ibid._ ch. xxvii.

[41] The Beni Iyâdh, Namir, and Sheibân. We shall meet them again in
the Irâc campaign.

[42] Sajâh, it is said, lived quietly with her tribe after this in the
profession of Christianity, until with them she was converted to Islam.
There is a childish tale that on returning from the hasty marriage, her
army, scandalised that she had received no dower, made her go back and
ask Moseilama, who received her roughly, refusing her admittance; but,
in lieu of dower, agreed to remit two of the daily prayers imposed by

By some of the historians the interview between Moseilama and Sajâh
is drawn (happily a rare case in these annals) in language of gross
indelicacy. The pruriency suggesting this, is the more gratuitous, as
we are told, almost in the same breath, that Moseilama’s tenets were
rather of an ascetic turn. His system enjoined prayer and fasting, and
prohibited (so the tradition runs) cohabitation after the birth of a
son, to be resumed only, if the child died, till the birth of another.
But our knowledge of the life and doctrines of these pretenders to
prophecy is really too scanty to warrant us in pronouncing judgment
upon them.

Belâdzori and Ibn Khaldûn are among the few who have here kept their
pages clean. Gibbon characteristically seizes on the passage.

[43] In a passage of Tabari (vol. i. p. 188) it is stated that when
Amru passed through these regions with a column to clear the roads, he
and Mâlik had words with each other. It is possible, therefore, that
Khâlid may have had a stronger case against Mâlik than appears.

[44] That is, the _Ansârs_, as opposed to the _Refugees_,
i.e. the men of Medîna, as opposed to the Coreish and men of Mecca.

[45] In the Kinânite.

[46] A full account of Mâlik and Motammim, with copious extracts
from their poetry, will be found in Nöldeke’s _Poesie der alten
Araber_, Hanover, 1864. Arab critics take Motammim as the model of
elegiac poets, both for beauty of expression and intensity of feeling.
For twenty years he had been blind of an eye, and now he told Omar that
grief for his brother’s cruel fate had brought floods of tears from
that eye, which all these years had been bereft of moisture. ‘Verily
this surpasseth all other grief!’ said Omar. ‘Yes,’ replied Motammim,
‘it would have been a different thing if my brother had died the death
of thy brother Zeid upon the field of battle.’ The noble mien and
generosity of Mâlik are painted in glowing colours. He used to kindle
a great fire by his tent all night until the day broke, in the hope of
attracting travellers to his hospitable home.

[47] The darker suspicion has been preserved by tradition, both in
prose and verse. See _C. de Perceval_, vol. iii. p. 368; and
_Kitâb al Aghâny_, vol. iii. p. 355. Leila, we are told, cast
herself at Khâlid’s feet, with hair dishevelled and unveiled face,
imploring mercy for her husband. The wretched man, noticing the
admiring look which the conqueror bestowed upon his wife, cried out,
‘Alas, alas! here is the secret of my fate!’ ‘Not so,’ said Khâlid, as
he gave the sign for beheading him; ‘but it is thine own apostasy.’
All the same, he took the wife straightway for his own. We may dismiss
the scene as unsupported by evidence. It is also inconsistent with
Abu Bekr’s treatment. His reproach of Khâlid was based not on the
impropriety of the act itself (which he could hardly have avoided had
the story been founded on fact), but on its being at variance with the
ideas of the Arabs to wed on the field of battle. The example, however,
was set by the Prophet himself, who married Safia the night after
the battle of Kheibar, and at any rate it was not long in becoming
a common practice. Following the example of Khâlid (repeated by him
again shortly after), the Moslem warriors made no delay in the field
to wed--or rather, without wedding, to treat upon the spot as servile
concubines--the wives and daughters of their fallen foes. The practice
also now arose of taking their own families with them in the field, and
marriages were celebrated there among themselves--on one occasion, we
read, on the eve of an impending battle.

As to the tenor of tradition, there are two distinct versions of the
tragedy, one giving as its cause the misconception of Khâlid’s order,
the other Mâlik’s own disloyal speech. This last, taken separately,
is inconsistent with the admitted fact that Khâlid justified himself
before Abu Bekr by the former. In the text I have endeavoured to
combine the two narratives.

Mâlik had flowing locks, and (so runs the tradition) when the skulls of
the prisoners were cast into the fire under the cooking-pots, his alone
would not burn because of the mass of hair. The story (true or false)
shows the spirit of savagery rapidly fanned by religious war.

I should perhaps mention that, though tradition is proud of Khâlid’s
heroism, he is not a special favourite with Abbasside historians, as
his son was afterwards a staunch supporter of the Omeyyads.

[48] _I.e._ Shawwâl, or two months before the close of A.H. XI. As
already explained, the dates are arbitrarily assumed. The Kâtib Wâckidi
places the battle of Yemâma in A.H. XII. (which begins March 18, A.D.
633), and even the engagement of Bozâkha in the same year; but this
would throw the campaign in Irâc altogether too late. The _cold_ which
led Khâlid to order his prisoners to be ‘wrapped,’ must have been on
the approach of winter, and corresponds with the chronology which I
have been obliged to assume on grounds admittedly vague.

[49] See _Life of Mahomet_, ch. xxxii. _Moseilama_ is a diminutive form
of the adjective _Moslem_, and is supposed by some to be in that sense
a derisive epithet. He is described as of a contemptible presence, a
dark yellow complexion and a pug nose.

[50] Some say that he was deputed by Abu Bekr. He could recite the
whole of Sura Becr (s. ii.). Khâlid had not heard of his defection, and
looked for him to come out and join his army.

[51] The tales told of him are silly. He was desired to pray, as
Mahomet had done, for rain, but it only intensified the drought; when
he prayed for a blessing on young children, it made them stammer,
become bald, &c. He established a sanctuary, perhaps in imitation of
the Kâaba, but it became a mere rendezvous for bandits. See also the
ascetic doctrines ascribed to him, and the opinion of Al Kindy, the
Apologist, _supra_, pp. 23 & 32.

[52] Above, p. 18. Ikrima was the son of Abu Jahl, the arch-enemy,
cursed in the Corân by Mahomet, and himself an inveterate opponent,
until the taking of Mecca (_Life of Mahomet_, ch. xxiv.). So
completely was it all forgotten now under the new dispensation of
equality and brotherhood, that he had one of the chief commands given

[53] If Ikrima and Shorahbîl were despatched from Dzul Cassa at the
general marshalling when Khâlid marched against Toleiha, then Shorahbîl
must have had long to wait. But it is probable (as we have seen) that
the popular tradition of the simultaneous despatch of all the columns
is a fiction, and that Khâlid’s expedition preceded some of the others
by a considerable interval.

After finishing the Yemâma campaign, Shorahbîl’s original orders were
to join Amru in his proceedings against the Beni Codhâa in the north.

[54] From the expression used, it would almost seem as if Sâlim carried
the Corân on the point of his flag-staff. This was a common practice
in after times, but the Corân was not yet collected. Possibly some
portion may have been thus borne aloft by the leader, or the words may
be metaphorical or anticipative.

[55] In some accounts of the battle, Khâlid is spoken of as challenging
his enemy to single combat, and slaying, one after another, all who
came out against him. But the circumstances would hardly have admitted
of this. These single combats are the conventional drapery of all
the early battles, and need not always be taken as facts. Here they
are specially introduced to give place to an apocryphal story about
Moseilama. He came forth to answer the challenge of Khâlid, who, in
reference to the offer made by him to Mahomet, ironically asked whether
he was now prepared ‘to share the Kingdom’; whereupon Moseilama turned
aside ‘to consult his dæmon.’ Khâlid then rushed at him, and he fled.
‘Where is that now which thou didst promise us?’ cried his followers
to the prophet, but all that he could reply was to bid them fight for
their honour and their families.

[56] The twelve _Leaders_ at the Pledge of Acaba. _Life of Mahomet_,
ch. vi.

[57] It is said that 7,000 of the enemy were slain on each of
these occasions, but the statement is loose and, no doubt, vastly
exaggerated. One tradition gives the slain in the garden alone at

[58] The greater loss among the men of Mecca and Medîna was ascribed
by themselves to their superior gallantry, but by the Bedouins to
their being raw and unused to fighting. We see already the seed of the
rivalry which afterwards broke out so fatally between the Bedouins and
the Coreish.

[59] The terms of the treaty, notwithstanding the alleged artifice
(which reads somewhat strangely) were sufficiently severe. The Beni
Hanîfa agreed to give up all their armour, their silver and their gold;
but they were allowed to retain half of their slaves, and get back half
of their own people taken prisoner. Khâlid had already captured in the
valleys and open villages so many prisoners, that he had sent 500 to
Abu Bekr as the royal Fifth, implying a total number of 2,500. But Omar
subsequently freed all slaves of Arab blood.

Selma, one of the Hanîfa chiefs, sought to dissuade his people from
surrender, saying that the winter was not overpast, and that the enemy
must retire. Being overruled, he fled and committed suicide.

[60] The sayings reported were such as these: ‘O croaking frog, thou
neither preventest the drinker, nor yet defilest the water.’ ‘We
shall have half the land and ye the other half; the Coreish are an
overbearing folk.’ But as I have said before, we have not the materials
for knowing what the real teaching of Moseilama was, nor the secret of
his influence.

[61] The Persian paraphrase of Tabari gives a highly coloured version.
Khâlid, it tells us, gave his bride the dower of a million pieces out
of the spoil, while on the marriage night the Moslem warriors lay
about hungry and in want. Verses banded about the camp to this effect
reached Omar, and put him in a towering passion. He nearly persuaded
Abu Bekr to recall Khâlid, but the Caliph, reflecting that, after so
great a victory, it would discourage the army, contented himself with a
reproachful letter. All this is evidently gross exaggeration, founded
probably on the dislike of the Abbasside historians.

[62] See the previous history of the province, _Life of Mahomet_,
ch. xxx.

[63] The mission of Alâ must have been considerably later than that
of Khâlid. We have before seen reason to believe that the various
expeditions were not, as tradition represents, despatched all at once
from Dzul Cassa.

[64] The Beni Hanîfa, Moseilama’s tribe, was a branch of the same Beni
Bekr ibn Wail, mentioned in the text, as also the Beni Temîm, who to
this day (such is the tenacity with which the Bedouins hold to their
native soil) occupy the same pasture-lands. Some details are given
regarding the chiefs who had remained tolerably loyal throughout. Thus
Cays ibn Asim, Zibricân, &c., who at first vacillated, though they kept
aloof from Sajâh, now, as Alâ drew near, came forth with the tithes
which during the anarchy had been kept in deposit, and fought upon his

We are also told of a staunch believer, Thomâma, who was able to
maintain his loyalty with a party of his tribe, until Alâ appeared.
He joined the force, but came to an untimely and ignominious end. He
was presented for his bravery with the spoils taken from the person of
Hotem (to be noticed below), and, wearing them on a journey, was set
upon by the people as Hotem’s murderer and as such put to death.

[65] This is the solitary expedition since the death of Mahomet around
which tradition has gathered a halo of marvellous tales. When they
halted on that miserable night, the beasts of burden all ran off wildly
with their loads. Not one was left, and the army was near perishing
of hunger as well as thirst. In the morning, they returned from all
directions with their burdens, of their own accord. The lake is likened
to the water that flowed from the rock in the wilderness when struck by

[66] Called _Ebnâa_. The traders from India settled (as they do
now) along the coast from the Euphrates to Aden, and so a mongrel race
sprang up.

[67] He bore the dynastic name of Mundzir, and, having been freed at
the instance of an Arab relative, embraced Islam. He had the surname
of _Gharur_ (deceiver), but said that he ought rather to have
been called _Maghrûr_ (deceived). The relations of these tribes
on the N.E. of Arabia, with Hîra and also with Persia, were close and
constant. Little more than twenty years before, the Beni Bekr had
beaten back the combined forces of Persia and Hîra. The connection
of the Arab tribes in this quarter with Persia corresponded with
that between the Syrian tribes and the Roman empire. (_Life of
Mahomet_, vol. i. p. clxxxii.)

[68] For the island Dârîn (or Dirîn) see an interesting article by Sir
H. Rawlinson, on the islands of Bahrein, _Royal As. Society’s Journal_,
vol. xii. p. 222, _et seq._ There were _five_ bishops in this province,
and ‘the insular see is always named Dirîn.’ We have here indirect
evidence of the prevalence of the Christian faith in northern Arabia,
far down the shores of the Persian Gulf.

[69] Each horseman got 6,000 pieces. The tale is told with such
extravagances as we are accustomed to only in the life of the Prophet,
_e.g._ the strait was so broad that it took a day and a night
for a ship to cross, yet not the hoof of a camel was wetted. It is
remarkable that, with few exceptions, this expedition is the only one,
after the death of Mahomet, regarding which such childish tales are

[70] There is a tradition that two chiefs Zibricân and Acra obtained
from Abu Bekr a patent appointing them collectors of tithe in Bahrein,
on condition that they made themselves responsible for its loyalty.
The document was shown to Omar, who, angry apparently because Acra had
been an apostate, tore it up. Talha, who had negotiated the affair,
went to Abu Bekr and asked, ‘Art thou ruler, or is Omar?’ ‘Omar,’ he
replied, ‘but obedience is due to me.’ This (which illustrates the
great influence of Omar with the Caliph) may have referred to a part of
the Bahrein coast not under Alâ.

[71] He belonged to the Beni Shaybân, a sub-tribe of the Beni Bekr.

[72] No dates are given. But as the battle which follows was retrieved
by reinforcements from the Beni Abd al Cays, and as that tribe was only
set free by the success of Alâ, the operations in Omân must necessarily
have been later than those in Bahrein.

[73] See _Life of Mahomet_, ch. xxx.

[74] They belonged to the great families of Azd and Himyar, who
inhabited that part of the Peninsula, and had therefore both experience
and local influence.

[75] Sohâr, still a mercantile port, lies above 100 miles west of
Maskat. The bazaar of Dabâ was probably near to it.

[76] Attâb had been governor ever since Mahomet appointed him on the
capture of Mecca. The rebels were headed by Jondob of the Mudlij tribe.
Penitential verses, recited by this rebel chief on his submission,
have been preserved (_Tabari_, i. p. 212). In the paucity of
trustworthy tradition at this period, such verses are peculiarly
valuable, amplifying as they do the meagre materials at our command,
and giving fixed and certain points.

[77] According to another account of this affair, Khâlid (who had been
appointed by Mahomet collector of tithes and resident with the Beni
Zobeid in the quarter south of Mecca), attacked Amr ibn Mádekerib, and
having taken his sister prisoner, obtained the sword as her ransom. The
sword came several years afterwards into the possession of the Governor
of Kûfa, who offered to give it back to Amr; to show its marvellous
temper, Amr took it, and at one blow severed the pack on his mule’s
back in two. Then he returned it to the governor, saying that he could
not retain a sword of which he had once been despoiled. Among other
poetry is some by Amr himself:--‘The sword of the son of Dzu Cayfar
(A.D. 475) was mine; its blade was tempered in the age of Ad.
It hath a grooved blade which cleaveth helmets, and the bodies of men,
in twain.’ See _Caussin de Perceval_, vol. i. p. 117; also Mr.
C. J. Lyall’s translations from the Hamasah. _Journal As. Soc. of
Bengal_, 1877, vol. xlvi. pp. 179, _et seq._ It is curious to
remark how many Arab warriors were also poets of renown.

[78] The tradition was preserved in the name of ‘the _Villains_’
(_Akhabîth_) road, by which this part of the coast was long known.

[79] _Life of Mahomet_, chap. xxxii.

[80] Yemen was, for a considerable period in the seventh century,
governed by a Satrap as a dependency of Persia; and large numbers of
Persians then settled in the country. These were their descendants, and
also the _Ebnâa_ of mixed parentage. (_Life of Mahomet_, vol.
i., p. cxliv.)

[81] Dzul Kelâa and other semi-independent Himyar chiefs occupying the
neighbouring districts. Some of these remained loyal, and distinguished
themselves greatly in the Syrian campaigns.

[82] Feroze was a poet, as well as a statesman; and his verses
lamenting the captivity of his family, and threatening revenge, have
been preserved. (_Tabari_ i. p. 220.) Abd _Yaghûth_, or servant of
the idol of that name worshipped in the south of Arabia. See Lyall’s
translations from the Hamasah, quoted above. We hear of him afterwards,
but not much of Feroze.

[83] As usual, no date is given. But as only now he met Ikrima, who
had made a march of several weeks from Omân, after the campaign in the
East, the period must have been late in the year A.H. XI., if
not the beginning of A.H. XII. Tabari, as I have said before,
places the entire reduction of apostate Arabia within A.H. XI.

Mohâjir was brother to Omm Salma, one of the Prophet’s wives. He was
one of the malingerers who absented himself from the Tebûk campaign,
and so incurred the displeasure of Mahomet. (_Life of Mahomet_,
chap. xxviii.) But Omm Salma, one day, washing the Prophet’s head,
made mention to him of her brother, and, finding the opportunity
favourable, called him in. His excuse was accepted; and the government
of Hadhramaut was then and there conferred on him.

[84] The verses are quoted by Tabari, vol. i. p. 224. The Arabs,
and especially their poets, had the faculty of abusing one another
in the grossest manner. About the same time, lampoons were bandied
between Amr ibn Mádekerib and Farwa, a loyal chief of the Beni Murâd,
who maintained a constant check upon Amr’s proceedings. As regards
Farwa, we are told that when he first presented himself to Mahomet, he
explained how his tribe and the Beni Hamdân had an idol which each kept
alternately for a year. The contested possession of this idol led in
bygone time to the famous battle of Al Razm.

[85] The Beni Sakûn were loyal throughout the rebellion, and gave
protection to the faithful refugees from other tribes. Among others,
Moâdz ibn Jabal, deputed by Mahomet to teach the tribes of the south
the Corân and the tenets of Islam (_Life of Mahomet_, chap, xxx.),
took refuge with them, and married a lady from amongst them. He was so
enamoured of this Sakûnite wife that it used to be his constant prayer
that in the resurrection he and she might both be raised together. He
died in the plague A.H. XVIII.

[86] See the account of their brilliant cavalcade and the betrothal,
_Life of Mahomet_, chap. xxx.

[87] A thousand women were captured in the fortress. They called after
Ashâth as he passed, ‘he smelleth of burning,’ i.e. he is a recreant

[88] Her name was Omm Farwa. Their son Mohammed was killed fighting in
the army of Musáb against Mokhtâr. Some verses by Ashâth lamenting the
catastrophe of Nojeir have been preserved by Tabari, vol. i. p. 248.

[89] She was the daughter of one Nomân, who, praising her attractions
to Mahomet, added, as the climax, that she never had had sickness of
any kind. After a private interview with her, Mahomet sent her back to
her home in the south, saying, ‘Had the Lord seen anything good in her,
it had not been thus.’

In the _Life of Mahomet_, I rejected as apocryphal this and
other accounts of the Prophet’s betrothal to certain females with
whom marriage was not consummated. In the present case, however, the
betrothal is certainly confirmed by the curious objection taken by the
army to Ikrima’s marriage on account of the inchoate relation in which
she at one time stood to the Prophet; and it is therefore possible that
other betrothals which at the time appeared to me improbable may also
be founded on fact. See _Life of Mahomet_, chap, xxii., and Ibn
Cotâba, p. 18.

It will be remembered that the widows of the Prophet, as ‘Mothers
of the Faithful,’ were prohibited by the Corân from re-marrying.
_Ibid._ p. 303.

[90] See _Life of Mahomet_, chap. xxix.

[91] ‘The days of Ignorance,’ that is, the period preceding Islam.

[92] Two such are named by Tabari, i. p. 248.

A light ransom was fixed for each Arab slave, namely seven camels and
six young ones. In the case of some tribes which had suffered most
severely (as the Beni Hanîfa, the Beni Kinda, and the people of Omân
discomfited at Dabâ), even this was remitted.

[93] _Fadak_ was a Jewish settlement north of Medîna, conquered by
Mahomet at the same time as Kheibar. Portions of both were retained by
Mahomet for the support of his household. (See _Life of Mahomet_,
pp. 394 and 548.)

[94] According to most authorities she survived her father six months;
others say only three.

[95] Some say that Abu Bekr appointed Abd al Rahman to the duty. The
uncertainty on this (to the Moslem) most important point is indicative
of the confusion which still prevailed, and the vagueness of tradition
for the period immediately following Mahomet’s death.

[96] Gibbon, chap. xlvi.

[97] Above, p. 50.

[98] By some accounts Mothanna appeared in person before Abu Bekr and
promised to engage the local tribes in carrying the attack into the
border lands of Irâc.

[99] Such are said to have been Abu Bekr’s orders; but tradition here
probably anticipates the march of events. It is very doubtful whether
he had yet the city of Hîra in view. The campaign widened, and the aims
of Khâlid became more definite as his victories led him onwards.

[100] The pre-Islamite history of these Arab races is given in the
introductory chapters to the _Life of Mahomet_, vol. i.

[101] _i.e._ ‘Irâc of the Arabs’ as distinguished from _Irâc
Ajemy_, ‘foreign’ or Persian Irâc.

[102] The mounds are, no doubt, not only the remains of embankments
but also of the clearances of silt, which (as we know in India) become
hillocks in the course of time.

[103] This, as well as the main stream, is sometimes called by our
historians _Furât_, or Euphrates; at other times by its proper
name of _Bâdacla_, and also _Al Atîck_, the ‘old’ or deserted
channel; but the streams have varied their course from age to age.

[104] The country suffers similarly in the present day at the hands of
the Turkish Government. A traveller writes regarding it: ‘From the most
wanton and disgraceful neglect, the Tigris and Euphrates, in the lower
part of their course, are breaking from their natural beds, forming
vast marshes, turning fertile lands into a wilderness,’ &c.

[105] These seem to have occupied a position similar to that of the
great _Talookdars_ in Upper India.

[106] Beyond the general outline we must not look for much trustworthy
detail at the outset of these campaigns. The narrative of them is brief
and summary, often confused and contradictory. For example, Hîra is
said by some to have submitted at the outset and agreed to pay tribute,
which is inconsistent with the course of the narrative. The summons to
Hormuz as given in the text savours too much of the set type of after
days to be above suspicion; so with the constant repetition of single
combats, without which the historians seem to think no Arab battle

There is one point of some importance. It is the call on Hormuz _to
pay tribute_. Now, tribute was permitted by Mahomet only to ‘the
people of the Book,’ that is, to Jews and Christians. No such immunity
was allowed to the heathen, who were to be fought against to the bitter
end. Zoroastrians (for such was Hormuz) should strictly have been
offered no terms _but Islam_. They had not, however, yet been
thought of, for they were altogether beyond the limits and tribes of
Arabia. Eventually, Omar ruled that having ‘a Book’ or Revelation, they
might be admitted into the category of those to be spared on payment
of tribute. But, as I have said, the summons is no doubt cast in the
conventional mould of later days.

[107] Horsemen received _three_ shares; the foot soldiers one.
This was the standing rule from the time of the Prophet. Two shares
were for the horse.

[108] The grade of Persian nobility was marked by the costliness of the
jewelled turban.

[109] No elephant had ever been seen before at Medîna, and only one at
Mecca--‘the year of the elephant’ marking the era of Abraha’s attack
(_Life of Mahomet_, p. xxvi.). The astonishment of the women
and children of Medîna was unbounded, and some inquired in childish
amazement whether it was an artificial thing, or really was a work of

[110] It is also called the battle of Kâtzima, a neighbouring town
reduced by Khâlid.

This tale of soldiers being chained together, or tied with ropes,
is commonly told both of Persian and Roman armies. How far it is
founded on fact it is difficult to say. We must ever remember that the
materials for our story are all _one-sided_, and that there is
much ignorance of their enemies displayed by the annalists, as well as
much contemptuous fiction regarding them.

[111] It will be more convenient hereafter (dropping the Occidental
forms of Ctesiphon and Seleucia) to speak of the Persian capital by its
Arabic name, _Medâin_.

[112] Cârin, they say, was the last noble of the _first_ rank who
took the field against the Mussulmans. The slain are put at 30,000,
besides those drowned in the canal. Such numbers, always loose, are
especially so in the traditions of this early period. Among the
prisoners was a Christian, father of the famous jurisconsult Abul Hasan
of Bussora (d. A.H. 110). Also Mâckia, afterwards the freedman
of Othmân, and Abu Ziâd, freedman of Moghîra.

[113] Khâlid’s speech is quoted by Al Kindy the Christian Apologist
(Smith and Elder), p. 33.

[114] The _iddat_ (or interval prescribed between divorce and
re-marriage, or before the cohabitation of a new master with his
slave-girl) is not observed in respect of women taken captive on the
field of battle. I can find no authority on the subject, but am told
by those versed in the law that the only exception is that of women
with child in which event cohabitation would be unlawful till after
delivery. In all other cases, in conformity with the precedent of the
Prophet’s marriage with Safia at Kheibar, the captives, whether maid or
matron, are lawful to the captors’ embrace upon the spot (_Life of
Mahomet_, p. 391).

[115] Tabari tells us that every month it was the turn of a new prince
to rule as minister, and this was Bahmân’s month.

[116] The slain are given at the fabulous figure of 70,000. The
decapitation of the captives went on for a night and a day (so we are
told), and then they scoured the country for more. Cacâa, one of the
Arab captains, told Khâlid that ‘the Lord had forbidden the earth to
allow human blood to flow upon its face more than the length of a man’s
dress,’ and that it never would run in a stream until water was turned
on. Blood, as we know, soon thickens and curdles of itself.

There is, presumably, great exaggeration in the story, and I should
willingly have put down the whole as a fiction growing out of the
name of the river; but the narrative unfortunately is in keeping
with the bloodthirstiness of the Arab crusaders, and specially with
the character of ‘the Sword of the Lord.’ The tradition about the
flour-mills comes from Moghîra, through one of Tabari’s standing string
of traditional authorities.

[117] She bore him children, or the circumstance would probably have
been too common to merit a place in tradition. Abu Bekr was so charmed
with his stalwart mien that he burst forth in a martial couplet in the
envoy’s praise.

[118] For the history of Hîra up to this time, see _Life of
Mahomet_, vol. i. introd. chap. iii. The Lakhmite dynasty sprang
from the _southern_ branch of the Arabs, and, both on this account
and for the reasons stated in the text, their influence did not
penetrate deeply into the peninsula.

[119] Called also Manîshia. It never recovered the calamity; at any
rate we do not hear of it again.

[120] The escapes were opened perhaps as well to flood the country and
impede the enemy’s progress, as to lay the navigating channel dry.
These channels have greatly altered, so that attempt at identification
would be fruitless.

[121] The palace of Khawarnac was built 200 years before, by Nomân I.,
for the reception of his pupil Bahrâm Gour, heir-apparent to the throne
of Persia. Sinnimâr was the architect. There was a stone, so the story
runs, which, if removed, the whole building would fall. The secret
was known to Sinnimâr alone; and Nomân dashed him from the top, that
the secret might perish with him. (_Life of Mahomet_, vol. i. p.

[122] The treaty is given as follows:--‘This is the Treaty of Khâlid
with the son of Adi, Amr son of Abd al Masîh, and Iyâs ibn Cabîsa,
empowered in that behalf by the citizens of Hîra. They shall pay, year
by year, 190,000 dirhems, to be levied on clergy and laity, saving
mendicants who have abjured the world. The Mussulmans on their side
shall protect the city, otherwise there will be no obligation to pay
the tribute. If the city be disloyal in word or deed, the treaty shall
be void.’ The terms are given alike in two independent traditions; but
the rising, which shortly after swept over the land, cancelled it.

[123] Showeil was an old dotard. When Kerâmat said to him, ‘What carest
thou for an old creature like me?’ he replied, ‘I am not my mother’s
son if I take less for thee than a thousand dirhems.’ She feigned to
think it much, but paid it down. When she had gone, his companions
laughed at him for asking such a trifling sum for so distinguished a
captive. He went to Khâlid: ‘I meant,’ he said, ‘to ask the highest
figure that there was; but now they tell me that numbers go beyond a
thousand, and that I did not ask enough. Give me, therefore, a fitting
ransom.’ Khâlid said: ‘Thou purposedst one thing, my friend, and
the Lord purposed another. I judge by what appeareth, and leave thy
purposes alone.’ I give the story as I find it, absurd as it appears,
for the lady is said to have been fourscore years of age. The romance
of early love, at any rate, was soon changed into a more sordid
passion. The tale, though surrounded by marvels (_e.g._ Mahomet’s
foretelling the conquest of Hîra), is, no doubt, founded on some slight
substratum of fact. The lady’s age must be exaggerated as well as the
simplicity of Showeil, since she was the daughter of Abd al Masîh who
headed the deputation from the city.

[124] Tradition gives with considerable zest a somewhat coarse and
childish conversation between Khâlid and the aged Abd al Masîh (called
Ibn Backîla, ‘son of the bean-stalk,’ from his green dress), who headed
the deputation. ‘Whence comest thou?’ asked the conqueror. ‘From my
mother’s womb.’ ‘And where art thou now?’ ‘In my clothes,’ and so on.
Asked what was the most wonderful thing he had ever seen, he said,
‘The road from Hîra to Damascus, which was lined in my early days
with villages all along, so that a woman could travel on it alone,
taking with her a single cake; but that time hath long passed by.’ His
attendant carried a little bag containing a quick poison, which his
master was prepared to swallow if any indignity had been shown him.
Khâlid took and swallowed it, saying that no soul could die before its
time. As no ill effect followed, the chief was lost in amazement, and
declared that Khâlid must be irresistible. Marvellous tales of this
sort are, however, very rare now. Some touching verses are recorded as
sung by Ibn Backîla on the fall of Hîra. Here is a specimen:--

    Now that the Princes of the house of Mundzir are gone, shall I ever
      again behold the royal herd of camels returning at eve from the
      pastures of Khawarnac and Sedîr?
    Now that the horsemen of Nomân are passed away, shall I ever again
      feed the young she-camel on the pastures between Mecca and Hafîr?
    Like a flock of goats on a stormy day, we are scattered by the Beni
      Maád (the invading Moslems), even as pieces of camels slaughtered
      for the feast.
    Heretofore our homes were sacred, and we like the teats of a
      well-filled udder,
    Yielding tribute at the appointed times to the Chosroes, and
      imposts in cattle and gold.
    Alas! even so is the changeful wheel (bucket) of the well of
      fortune. Now the day brightens with joy and gladness, and now it
      is dark with sorrow and grief.

Masûdi speaks of the Ibâdites (the Christian aborigines of Hîra) as
still in his time inhabiting this neighbourhood.

[125] For the field of Mûta, where Khâlid rallied the fragments of the
Moslem army broken by the Roman legions, see _Life of Mahomet_,
chap. xxiii.

[126] The ‘Service of Victory’ consisted of eight continuous Rakâats,
or series of prostrations, with the appointed Sura of Victory.

In this first campaign there is no mention of any Moslems killed. There
were, no doubt, casualties among the rank and file of the Bedouin
tribes, but these are taken little account of. If any ‘Companion,’ or
leader of eminence, had been slain, the fact would, no doubt, have been
mentioned. We must remember that most of the soldiers from Medîna had
returned to their homes from Yemâma, so that there may not have been
many Companions present with Khâlid at this time.

With reference to Khâlid’s speech, I should notice that it was the
tendency of the Kûfa and Bussora schools to magnify the difficulties of
the conquest of Irâc in their own interest, as enhancing their claims
upon the revenues of the _Sawâd_, or surrounding province. In this
sense there is a fragment from the Arab warrior Amr ibn Cacâa:--

    The Lord water the ground where lie buried the heroes of Irâc
    Upon the dusty plain and beneath the sandy mounds!

And then he mentions in verse the various fields in which they had
fallen in this first campaign from Hafîr to the siege of Hîra.

[127] These treaties were mostly abrogated by the rebellion that
shortly after swept over the land. But some of the chieftains remained
steadfast, as Salûba ibn Nestûba, ‘the lord of Coss Nâtick.’ His treaty
is given verbatim by Tabari, with the witnesses, &c., copied, probably,
from the original. He had to pay a tribute of 10,000 dirhems, to be
contributed rateably by his people according to each man’s means,
besides a tax of four dirhems per head (apparently a Persian tax, as it
is called _harazat Chosra_).

The terms of these treaties were made by Khâlid, _with the consent
and approval of the army_, showing how Khâlid recognised the
dominancy of the democratic element.

[128] The terms of the discharge are given by Tabari, who also mentions
nine of the Moslem chiefs employed to attest the receipts.

[129] One of the great channels drawn above Babylon from the Euphrates,
which flows across the peninsula and falls into the Tigris.

[130] P. 68.

[131] His name was Shîrazâd, for we come now constantly on
_Persian_ names. The story is that the Moslems were told to shoot
at the _eyes_ of the garrison. And so a thousand of the enemy had
their eyes transfixed; whence the siege was called ‘The action of the
Eyes.’ I give the tradition as I find it--not pretending to offer an
explanation--excepting that the same word stands for _eyes_ and

[132] Still called by that name (pl. Felâlij), meaning the district
about Anbâr irrigated by channels from the Euphrates. The army is said
to have passed by the plain of _Kerbala_, which, however, is a
good deal south of the position I assign to Ain Tamar (‘The Fountain of

[133] See above, p. 31. The Beni Taghlib, it will be remembered,
retired into Mesopotamia with Sajâh after her marriage with Moseilama.

[134] The Companion was Omeir. He had been one of the refugees to
Abyssinia in the persecution of the Coreish, and was therefore a very
early convert. A citizen (Ansâr) was also buried here; it is not
distinctly stated, but I infer, that he too was killed in the action.
This is the first mention of anyone killed on the Moslem side in the
Irâc campaign, though, as said before, loss in the rank and file of the
Bedouin levies was not of such importance as necessarily to require
distinct notice.

[135] Another of these youths was Hemrân, who became the Mowla, or
freedman, of Othman. When surprised in their cloister, they declared
themselves to be ‘hostages,’ perhaps strangers from a distance,
detained to complete their education there.

[136] Welîd was the son of that Ocba who had been put to death by
Mahomet after the battle of Bedr (_Life of Mahomet_, p. 239). We
shall hear more of him by and by.

[137] The distance must have been over 300 miles, besides the detour
rendered necessary by the intervening desert (the _Nefûd_ of red
sand, see Lady Blount’s _Pilgrimage to Nejd_); and must have
taken, C. de Perceval says, not less than ten days; with any other than
Khâlid, I should have said a good deal more.

[138] Jabala VI. See _Life of Mahomet_, vol. i. p. clxxxix.

[139] So the ordinary narrative. But there is another account that
Okeidar was sent a prisoner to Medîna; and being subsequently released
by Omar, settled near Ain Tamar, at a place which, in memory of his
former home, he named _Dûma_. The name _may_ have given rise to the
tradition; though, on the other hand, the execution of Okeidar is in
keeping with Khâlid’s sanguinary character. For his first encounter
with Khâlid, see _Life of Mahomet_, p. 458.

[140] Acra was chief of the Beni Temîm, old allies of the Beni Kelb,
who otherwise would have shared the common fate.

[141] The demonstration was probably forced. The citizens, we are told,
murmured secretly,--‘We thought that they had passed by, like other
Arab raiders; their return is the breaking out of a fresh calamity;’
and so, before long, they found it.

[142] The girl’s name was Sahba. Aly had recently received into his
harem another maiden taken captive at Yemâma; being of the Beni
Hanifa, the son, Mohammed, whom she bore to him, was called _the
Hanifite_. Thus, though he sat inactive at home, Aly took his full
share of the captive ladies. He also married in this year Omâma, a
granddaughter of the Prophet (being a child of Abul Aâs and Zeinab) and
niece of his deceased wife Fâtima.

I have noticed these expeditions very briefly, as the similarity of
detail becomes tedious. The Persian generals Zermihr and Rozaba, were
attacked by Cacâa and slain before they could form a junction with the
Beni Taghlib, but the fugitives joined the Bedouin camp at Modeya in
the desert. Thereupon, Khâlid organised three parties to converge at a
set time by night upon the Arab encampment, which was surprised, and
left covered with the dead, ‘like a field of slaughtered sheep.’ The
chief, Hodzeil, escaped.

Among the slain were two Bedouin chiefs who, having embraced Islam,
held an amnesty from the Caliph. Omar took the occasion again to blame
Khâlid for his indiscriminating vengeance; but Abu Bekr, as before,
justified him; ‘for those,’ he said, ‘who dwell in the encampment of
an enemy must take their chance with him.’ As, however, they were both
said to have called aloud the Moslem shibboleth, their families were
set free and taken care of, and blood-money paid. Omar treasured up
these things against Khâlid.

The similar stratagem of a convergent night attack was repeatedly
resorted to at Thinia, Zomeil, and Bishr, not a soul escaping the sword
but the women and children. Horcus, a famous chief of the desert, was
surprised and slain while drinking his last draught of wine with his
daughters, who were carried away captive. The subject is a favourite
one, and the bacchanalian verses sung by Horcus in his last cups, with
a swan-like anticipation of impending fate, are assigned to several
different occasions.

[143] Ramadhan fell in December, A.D. 633.

[144] No details are given of this great battle, excepting the fabulous
number of 100,000 slain.

[145] In the troublous times that followed, almost all the country rose
and committed acts of disloyalty which, with one or two exceptions,
cancelled the treaties and engagements now entered into by Khâlid with
the Dihcâns.

[146] According to some traditions, Abu Bekr deputed Omar to preside at
the pilgrimage this year. But the general opinion is that Abu Bekr did
so himself, leaving Othmân during his absence in charge of Medîna. This
is the more likely, as, owing to the troubled state of the peninsula,
he had been unable to go on pilgrimage the previous year.

[147] See above, p. 53.

[148] Near to Castal (which C. de Perceval makes Callirhoe) and towards
Abila but probably not so far north; the advance on Syria being made
(as always) on the coast of the Dead Sea.

[149] Dzul Kelâa, with his immediate clan, remained firm in the
rebellion of Yemen, and aided Ikrima in its suppression: see above, p.
54. Ikrima’s column was called ‘the brigade of substitutes,’ because
on his return from the long campaign in the south, his soldiers
were allowed furlough to their homes, on condition of their giving
substitutes for the new expedition in the north.

[150] Amru is said to have had the promise of the command over the
tribes of Odzra and Sád-Hodzeim (branches of the Beni Codhâa) from
Mahomet when he deputed him to Omân, and Abu Bekr fulfilled the
promise. His present mission must have been subsequent to the affair
at Dûma, as Welîd, on his return to Medîna from Irâc, was sent to help
Iyâdh at Dûma. This further appears from the notice that Welîd, on
joining the Syrian force, left as his _locum tenens_ over the Beni
Codhâa, Imral Cays ‘from Dûma’; implying that Dûma was by this time a
Mahometan possession.

[151] Marj al Soffar is to the north of the Yermûk on the road to
Damascus, and is frequently mentioned in the subsequent campaign. It
was not far from Jâbia in the Jaulân (Gaulonitis) which became the
grand rendezvous for the Moslem armies, and the point of departure both
for northern Syria and Palestine. The journey from Medîna to Syria was
always, as now, by the country to the east of the Dead Sea, very much
what is the present pilgrim route from Damascus to Mecca.

Some accounts say that Khâlid himself was killed in the engagement,
which, according to the wont of Saracen defeats, is slurred over
with a few unsatisfactory and garbled words. According to other
traditions, Khâlid was degraded because, in returning from Yemen, he
delayed to swear allegiance to Abu Bekr, and abused Aly and Othmân for
allowing the government to pass out of the house of Abd Menâf. This is
altogether improbable. The account in the text is the received one and
also the most consistent. But the dates are all uncertain, for none are
reliable till after the battle of Ajnadein.

[152] Shorahbîl had fought under the great Khâlid at Yemâma, and
thence accompanied him to Irâc. Deputed at this crisis to Medîna with
despatches or booty, he there obtained this command.

[153] The Scriptural expressions of ‘the Promised Land,’ ‘the Land of
Blessing,’ &c., are applied in the Corân to Palestine; and it remained
long the most coveted destination of the Bedouin levies.

[154] The strength of the four columns is usually given as 27,000, some
authorities adding 3,000 rallied from Khâlid’s force, and some not.
Tradition represents Abu Bekr as sending them forth each to reduce a
given district in Syria--Abu Obeida, Hims; Yezîd, Damascus; Shorahbîl,
the Jordan; Amru, Palestine. A palpable anticipation. Abu Bekr’s vision
was yet bounded by the Roman army, and the issue doubtful.

[155] Ar, or Rabbah of Moab.

[156] The Dothan of Joseph’s story is placed by Robinson north of
Nablûs, near the plain of Megiddo. If this be the same, Yezîd must
have penetrated into the centre of Palestine, which at this early
period of the campaign is not likely. But the whole account is very
brief and confused. It seems, also, improbable that Abu Obeida should
have advanced quite so far as Jâbia, while as yet the Roman battalions
dominated the country north of the Yermûk.

[157] The names of the Roman commanders are given as Jâreja (George?),
Cayear ibn Nestûs, Darâckis, and Tadzâric (Theodoric). Tradition
pretends that Heraclius, half persuaded of the truth of Islam, was
desirous to cede to the Moslems the plain of Syria up to the mountains
of Asia Minor, but was hindered by the perversity of his grandees.

[158] The way out, however, could have been only partially closed, for
reinforcements reached the Romans without hindrance. The ravine was
probably passable at some points, though, on the whole, a sufficient
defence against the Arabs.

[159] The country is well described by Laurence Oliphant in his _Land
of Gilead_, and the picture at p. 87 gives an admirable idea of the
gorge surrounding our battle-field. ‘The Yermûk,’ he says, ‘at this
point is just sinking below the level of the plain through which it has
been meandering, and in the course of the next mile plunges down, a
series of cascades, into the stupendous gorges through which it winds,
until it ultimately falls into the Jordan below Gadara.’ The grand old
military road, still bearing traces of wheeled carriages, bifurcates
five and twenty miles south of Damascus. The right branch leads S.W.
to Palestine, crossing the Yermûk at Gadara; the other continues to
run south towards Jerash and Bostra, and so onward till it is lost
in the Hajj or pilgrim-route into Arabia. The latter was the road
always traversed by the Saracen armies as they marched into Syria and
Palestine; and I assume that the battle was fought at a point some 30
miles east of Gadara where this road crosses the Yermûk. The same road
northward leads to Jâbia (Tell Jâbieh); and Jâbieh became the grand
base of operations both for Syria and for Palestine; for Palestine was
never approached from Arabia but by this circuitous route. The Arabs,
we are told, do not use the Roman road, because probably it is in so
rugged and ruinous a condition. But they always use the bridges when
passable; and Mr. Oliphant tells us of an ‘old Roman bridge of nine
arches, one of which has fallen and has not been repaired,’ over the
Yermûk in this vicinity, p. 87. The researches now being prosecuted
to the east of the Jordan may throw farther light on this great
battle-field, the site of which it may be possible yet to identify.

[160] Some authorities represent the transfer as a punishment for the
surreptitious visit to Mecca; but this is at variance with the terms
of the order, as well as opposed to the whole tenor of Abu Bekr’s
forbearing treatment of Khâlid.

[161] The numbers of Khâlid’s column are variously stated at 9,000 and
6,000; and again as low as 800, 600, and 500. But the smaller numbers
are probably intended to indicate only that part of his force which
formed the flying column in his adventurous march across the desert:
the rest, I assume, followed more leisurely and by an easier route. In
point of fact, 6,000 returned the following year to Irâc, though they
had been thinned by the Syrian campaign.

Some put the march of Khâlid a month earlier. Ibn Ishâc says that
before leaving, Khâlid despatched the sick and infirm, with the women
and children, to Medîna, with the last consignment of royal prize, as
if he apprehended insecurity during his absence.

[162] The great sea of red sand has been spiritedly described by Lady
Anne Blount in her _Pilgrimage to Nejd_; her route (reversed) was
the same as Khâlid’s, from Irâc as far as Corâcar, only her circuit led
her farther south to Hâil, and nearer the mountain range of Ajâ and

[163] Such is the received account of this extraordinary march, the
memory of which is also preserved in contemporary verse. Ibn Ishâc
speaks of _twenty_ camels, which would have gone but a little way.
Other accounts give the number of camels at so many per hundred lances,
without mentioning the strength of the column. As before explained,
Khâlid probably took the perilous route with only the lighter part
of his force, leaving the bulky and heavy portion to follow by the
ordinary road, along the Wady Sirhân, after he had cleared the Bostra
approach. The lips of the camels were slit or cut off (according to
other accounts bound up) to prevent their ruminating and the consequent
digestion and assimilation of the water in their stomachs.

[164] They emerged at Suwâ near Tadmor, and forthwith fell upon the
Beni Bahra, a Christian tribe, a portion of which was engaged in the
defence of Dûma the year before. Here again we have the bacchanalian
death-song of Horcûs mentioned before. We must receive the account
of Khâlid’s circuit even after the passage of the desert, with some
reserve. He is said to have plundered Cariatein and Huwarein on the way
from Tadmor; to have made terms with the Beni Codhâa at Cussum; then to
have passed over the ‘Mount of the Eagle’ (so called from his halting
on it with the Prophet’s black flag), within sight of Damascus; to
have plundered Marj Râhat, and a convent in the _Ghûta_ or plain
of Damascus, killing the men and taking the females prisoners; and so
on to Bostra, which, after some opposition, came to terms. If this be
all true, he may have at Bostra formed a junction with the body of his
column left behind at Corâcar. But it is all very vague, and with a
dash of the marvellous.

Ibn Ishâc gives a somewhat different account. He mixes up former
victories (_e.g._ the capture of the forty Christian youths, of
Aly’s slave-girl, &c.) with this campaign; and he makes the storming
of Bostra to follow the junction with Abu Obeida. I find no authority
whatever for the romance of the taking of Bostra as given by Ockley and
followed by Gibbon.

[165] In the silence of Byzantine chroniclers we must make the best of
the figures. 80,000 were ‘prisoners,’ either simply so or in chains;
40,000 were ‘chained together to fight to the death;’ 40,000 were ‘tied
by their turbans;’ and 80,000 free and unencumbered. In the Armenian
general _Bahân_ we recognise the Βάαν of Theophanes; a rare (one
might say a unique) coincidence.

[166] The imagination of the crusading army was inflamed by tales and
visions of the dying soldiers each tended by two black-eyed girls of
Paradise, who, wiping the sweat and dust of battle from the face of
their spouse, welcomed and clasped him in their fond embrace.

[167] It is doubtful whether Abu Bekr’s commission to Khâlid on his
transfer did not at the same time nominate him to the supreme command
of the Syrian forces. Ibn Khaldûn reads so; and likewise the tradition
that Omar, in eventually deposing him, appointed Abu Obeida similarly
to the supreme command. If so, Khâlid may have chosen not to excite
jealousy by assuming the supremacy at once, but rather to have obtained
it by consent. But our information is, at this early period, vague and

[168] The tale is full of childish matter. The following is an outline
from which the reader may draw his own conclusion. When the two armies
were drawn up for battle, Jâreja, riding forth from the Roman ranks,
called out to Khâlid as if challenging him to single combat. They drew
so near to one another, midway between the two armies, that their
horses’ necks touched. Having pledged their word to each other, a
conversation ensued. Jâreja asked Khâlid why he was called the ‘Sword
of God,’ and whether a sword had really been sent down to him from
heaven. Khâlid smiled, and expounded to him the basis and practice of
Islam. The ingenuous Roman, convinced, forthwith reversed his shield;
whereupon Khâlid, leading him away to his tent, sprinkled clean
water upon him and taught him to pray,--Jâreja following him, with
the prescribed prostrations and words, in two Rakáats. Meanwhile his
followers, supposing that he had attacked Khâlid and been decoyed away
by him, advanced rapidly on the Moslem line, which at first gave way,
and both sides became promiscuously engaged. Then Khâlid, with Jâreja
now upon his side, issued forth and at the head of their troops charged
the Romans and drove them back; Jâreja fought by the side of Khâlid all
day long, and in the evening was slain, dying a faithful martyr, though
he had prayed but once. The tale is probably founded on fact, and
framed so as to cover the defection of some Roman general--perhaps a
Bedouin,--who, by previous arrangement, came over to Khâlid on the day
of battle, with a following, perhaps, of Syrians from the Roman camp.
_Jâreja_ may be the Arab rendering here for George.

[169] Battalion or Kardûs. The number of battalions now formed is
variously given at from thirty to forty. The leader of each is named;
but probably tradition has merely selected the most likely names, for
in other respects there is a great want of detail in the narrative.

[170] The person performing this duty was called _Al Cass_, the
Declaimer. The following is a specimen of the address by which Abu
Sofiân stirred up each battalion. ‘Lord! these be the champions of
Arabia, the defenders of the Faith. Those yonder are the champions of
Rome, the defenders of Idolatry. O Lord! this is a day to be held in
remembrance among Thy great days. Wherefore send down help upon Thy
servants and succour them.’

[171] Dhirâr is a favourite hero with the pseudo-Wackidy and other
romancers, who represent him as performing the most marvellous feats in
the field. Ikrima’s war-song was:--

    A noble maid, both fair and tender,
    Knows that her knight can well defend her.

[172] Abu Sofiân himself lost an eye; it was pierced by an arrow, which
was with difficulty withdrawn. There is a foolish tale that Abdallah,
son of Zobeir, then a boy, overheard Abu Sofiân, who, with a company
of the Coreish, stood upon a knoll, applauding the Romans when they
advanced, and crying, ‘Out upon you,’ when they fell back, as if siding
with them. He ran and told his father, who laughed, saying, ‘It is mere
spite, for we are a deal better than the Romans.’ This is a manifest
anti-Omeyyad tale, for tradition is almost unanimous that Abu Sofiân,
notwithstanding his age, distinguished himself that day by his valour
and his ardour in stirring up the troops (_Ibn Khaldûn_, p. 85);
and indeed it would have been altogether against his interest to have
done otherwise.

[173] The disaster, making every allowance for exaggeration, must have
been appalling. We are told that there were driven over the precipice
80,000 ‘chained’ and 40,000 free soldiers, besides those that perished
by the sword.

[174] The order given by Omar is couched in terms which would appear to
imply that Khâlid was in supreme command in Syria, from which command
he was now deposed, and Abu Obeida substituted in his room. This is
not consistent with the previous narrative. It is possible, indeed,
to construe the order as deposing Khâlid simply from his command over
his own Irâc contingent, and transferring it to Abu Obeida. But it
is certain that Abu Obeida from this time became in permanence the
Ameer, or governor-general and commander-in-chief of Syria. See _Ibn
Khaldûn_, p. 86, and previous note p. 106.

[175] The date is fixed by that of Abu Bekr’s death (August 22);
_twenty days_ after which we are told that the battle was fought.
But the messenger bringing the news of the Caliph’s death could hardly
have taken more than half that time for so urgent a journey. We may
safely, therefore, place the action about the end of August (Jumâd
II.); or, rather, following other traditions, early in Rajab, that is,
the beginning of September.

[176] The new king is called otherwise Shahrîzân and Shahrîzâz, son of
Ardshîr. His commander is called Hormuz _Jâdzoweih_.

[177] The poet Farazdac (who flourished shortly after), enumerating the
various families of the Beni Bekr ibn Wâil, when he comes to the clan
of Mothanna, describes him as ‘the hero who slew the elephant at the
battle of Babylon.’ So also Abda, a Bedouin poet, who, being in search
of his mistress, chanced to be present as a wayfarer at the battle,
makes a similar reference to the slaughter of the elephant.

[178] The delay may have been occasioned by Abu Bekr’s sickness, or the
proposal to employ the apostate Arabs in the campaign may have been
difficult to answer.

[179] The Council House (Dar ul Nadwâ) built by Cossaí. _Life of
Mahomet_, Introduction.

[180] From this account it would appear that Abu Bekr did not perform
the full pilgrimage to Mina and Arafât. Some authorities make Omar to
preside at this pilgrimage, others Abd al Rahmân. Possibly Abu Bekr
performed only the Omra or Lesser Pilgrimage (_Ibid._ p. xii.),
and left Omar to fulfil the other rites.

There is a curious incident quoted by an early writer as an authority
to prove that Abu Bekr was himself present. Some one bit the ear of a
man at the pilgrimage in play. Abu Bekr sent the case to Omar as judge,
and he summoned a surgeon. Thereupon Abu Bekr recited, as in point, a
story of the Prophet, who, having made the gift of a slave to his aunt,
bade her not to bring him up as a surgeon, lest in the discharge of
his profession he should be subject to reprisals for injuries done in
surgical operations.

[181] That is, the year in which the Viceroy of Yemen besieged Mecca.
He had in his train an elephant; and the year, A.D. 570, is
therefore called ‘the year of the Elephant.’ _Ibid._ p. xxvi.

[182] There is a tradition that Abu Bekr’s illness was owing to poison,
given to him and to Attâb and another, which, being a slow but deadly
drug, did not take effect till a year after. No details are given; the
tale is evidently apocryphal, and based on the desire (common in those
early days) to give to Abu Bekr the honour of martyrdom.

[183] Meaning the Divine physician.

[184] The tradition proceeds: Abu Bekr answered, ‘The Lord bless thee,
Othmân! If I had not chosen Omar, then I had not passed thee over; and
I know not whether Omar will accept the office. As for myself, I could
wish that I had never borne the burden of the Caliphate, but had been
of those who departed this life in times that are past.’

This would imply that Abu Bekr had thought of Othmân as his successor
in default of Omar. The conversation, however, is professedly secret
and confidential. It rests solely on the authority of Othmân himself,
and we need not give too much heed to it.

[185] It is not stated on what day this occurred. It may have been only
a day or two before his death; for his interview with Mothanna shows
that even on the last day of his life, he was able to gather up his

The ordinance ran in these words: ‘In the name of the Lord most
Merciful! This is the covenant of Abu Bekr, son of Abu Cohâfa, with the
Moslems:’ (here he swooned away)--‘I have appointed, as my Successor
over you, Omar, son of Khattâb. I have not in anywise spared myself in
this matter; but have striven to the utmost to do the best for you.’
Ibn Khaldûn adds: ‘I know that he will do judgment and justice amongst
you; but if he commit tyranny or injustice, verily the future is hidden
from mine eyes.’

Asma had been the wife of Jáfar; and again, after Abu Bekr’s death,
became one of Aly’s numerous wives. The Arab women still tattoo their
breasts and arms with elaborate and beautiful designs.

The reader will remark the freedom with which women of the highest rank
appeared in public even at this period, their habits partaking still of
the freedom of the desert. But this was not long to last.

[186] Sura, v. 18. Some make this to have been said in reply to Ayesha,
who had been repeating the few lines just given as recited by Abu Bekr

[187] The prayer is somewhat similar to the last words of Mahomet. See
_Life of Mahomet_, p. 509.

[188] The 21st Jumâd II. He reigned two years, three months, and ten
days. He died on the same day of the week (Monday) as Mahomet, and at
the same age, 63 lunar years.

[189] Abu Bekr told Asma that he wished her alone to wash his body and
lay it out. On her replying that her strength was not equal to the
task, he said that she might ask Abd al Rahmân to help her. He desired
to be buried in the same two garments he had on, with a new piece over
them; and when those around objected, he made use of the words in the

[190] It was opposite the house of Othmân, which adjoined the
apartments of Ayesha and the other widows of Mahomet. The cortège would
thus pass across the open court of the mosque. The grave was dug after
the same fashion as Mahomet’s (_Life_, p. 517). Talha, and Abd al
Rahmân the Caliph’s son, were the two who descended to adjust the body
in the grave.

A curious incident illustrates the rude manners of the time. When her
father died, Ayesha, with her sister Omm Farwa (Asháth’s wife), and
a party of female friends, began to wail. Omar forbade it, as a work
of Satan, but they persisted. Omar, on this, ordered Hishâm to bring
forth Omm Farwa. Ayesha screamed and said, ‘Who is Omar? I forbid thee
my house.’ But Omm Farwa was brought forth and beaten with a whip, on
which the mourning women dispersed. The story is probably exaggerated;
but that it should have been preserved at all is a proof of the rough
notions prevalent as to the treatment of ladies of rank and birth at
this early period.

[191] Some say 8,000 dirhems; others, that he had no fixed allowance,
but took only what sufficed for the maintenance of his family. In
support of the latter statement, a tradition is given that his wife,
having a longing for some sweetmeats, saved up a little money for the
purpose. Abu Bekr finding it out, took the whole sum and put it back
into the treasury, as more than absolutely needed for the maintenance
of his household. Many of these traditions are evidently exaggerated
with the view of enhancing the hardness and thrift of Abu Bekr’s life,
and his conscientious use of the public money, in contrast with the
luxury and extravagance of later Caliphs. Thus we are told that at his
death he desired that whatever property was found in his house should
be sent to Omar, in repayment of what he had received; there was only
a camel, a cutler-slave, and a carpet worth five dirhems. They were
sent to Omar with the deceased Caliph’s message, whereat Omar wept,
but carried out the request to the letter. All these stories, the
feeding and milking of the goats, engaging in merchandise, &c., must be
received dubiously.

[192] Mines were worked in the lands of the Beni Suleim.

[193] In the general distribution, each soul received ten dirhems the
first year, and twenty the second, besides what was spent in the public
service. Warm clothing was purchased from the Bedouin tribes, and
distributed among the destitute in the winter. In all, they estimate
that 200,000 dirhems (say 10,000_l._) were received in Abu Bekr’s
reign--but a poor forecast of what was to come! A woman was employed to
weigh the treasure as it came in.

[194] The three things are variously related: _e.g._ that he did
not himself go forth with the expeditions against the apostate tribes;
others, of weak authority, relate chiefly to the succession to the
Caliphate, and some are clearly of an Alyite stamp.

[195] It does not, however, by any means follow that he had none.
Slave-girls, as part of the harem, are rarely mentioned, unless one
happened to bear issue to her master, when she became free, as his
_Omm walad_.

[196] It seems he had a presentiment it would be a girl, for he said
to Ayesha: ‘Thy brothers and _sisters_ must all share equally.’
‘What sisters?’ she asked in surprise; ‘there is only Asma.’ ‘The
one,’ he answered, ‘that Habîba bint Khârija is big with.’ One of his
sons, Abdallah, was only three years old at his death; and his mother,
Coteila, was probably alive when he died. When Omm Rumân, Ayesha’s
mother, died, is nowhere stated.

[197] The old blind man, hearing a commotion at Mecca, asked what it
might be, and being told that his son had died--‘Alas!’ he cried,
‘glory hath departed from us; and who succeedeth him?’ They answered,
Omar. ‘It is well,’ he replied; ‘for he was his worthy fellow.’ As the
Caliph’s father, he inherited a sixth part of his son’s estate.

[198] [Arabic]

[199] This is almost the only mention made of Aly during Abu Bekr’s
Caliphate, excepting when he gives advice in the Caliph’s Council,
marries a new wife, or purchases some attractive bond-maid. In such a
self-indulgent life, he was becoming portly and inactive.

[200] _I.e._ of the Muhâjerîn or Ansâr; that is, the Coreish, on
the one hand, and the natives of Medîna on the other.

[201] The following is an outline of the narrative, as given by the
Arab historians. On Shahrîrân’s death, after the battle of Babylon
(summer of A.D. 634), Dokht Zenân, daughter of Chosroes (Perwîz),
for a brief period, and then Sapor, son of Shahrîrân, occupied the
throne. The latter gave the hand of Azarmîdokht, another daughter
of Chosroes, to his favourite minister Furrukhzâd. But she resented
the alliance; and, at her call, the hero Siâwaksh slew the intended
husband on the marriage night, besieged the palace, and, putting Sapor
to death, proclaimed Azarmîdokht queen. Such was the state of things
when Mothanna, in August, went to Medîna. During his absence, Burân,
another daughter of Chosroes, having great influence with the nobles,
summoned the warrior Rustem from Khorasan to avenge the death of his
father, Furrukhzâd, which he did most effectually--defeating the royal
troops, killing Siâwaksh, and putting out Azarmîdokht’s eyes; and then
he set Burân upon the throne. Her regency (such was the ordinance)
should continue ten years, in default of any prince being discovered
of the royal blood; after which, the male line being proved extinct,
the dynasty would be confirmed in the female line. Burân then appointed
Rustem her minister, with supreme powers, and the nobles rallied round
him. This was just before Abu Obeid’s appearance on the stage.

The chronology, however, is utterly confused and uncertain. This Burân
is said to have opposed Shîra (Siroes) for a year; and, when he finally
succumbed to have retained her authority as arbiter (_àdil_) in
the State. She is also said to have sent gifts to Mahomet, &c. But
so much we may assume as certain that between Perwîz (A.D.
628) and Yezdegird there was an interval of four and a half years. See
Weil’s _Chalifen_, vol. i. p. 64, and Tabari, vol. ii. p. 178.

[202] The Persian campaign begins now to assume greater consistency
and detail; but, partly from alteration of the river beds, and partly
from the sites of towns, &c., being no longer known, it is not always
easy to follow the course of the campaign. Namârick, the scene of
Abu Obeid’s first victory, was on the Bâdacla, or western branch
of the Euphrates. Jabân was there taken prisoner; but the captors,
not recognising his rank, ransomed him in exchange for two skilled
artisans. Mothanna, discovering his quality, would have put him to
death for the deception, but Abu Obeid stood by the ransom. ‘The
faithful are one body,’ he said, ‘and quarter given by any one of them
must be sustained by all; it would be perfidy to put him to death.’ He
was therefore let go; but being again laid hold of after the battle of
the Bridge, was then executed. The second engagement took place at the
royal date-preserve of Sakatia, near Kaskar (subsequently the site of
Wâsit). Abu Obeid, hearing that Jalenûs was on his way with supports,
hurried on and gave battle to Narsa before he came up. Expeditions were
then sent to Barôsama and the country around.

[203] Called also Dzú Hâjib.

[204] It was twelve cubits long and eight broad.

[205] The common tradition is that Ibn Salûba, Chief of Hîra (as a kind
of neutral), constructed the bridge for both sides. The account given
by Belâdzori is more probable, that it was a standing bridge belonging
to Hîra, as it would be chiefly for its use. The Moslems crossed at
Marwaha, near Babylon. The action must therefore have been fought on
the banks of the main river, and not on the western channel.

[206] Dates now begin to be given, but the chronology is still very
doubtful. One authority places the battle forty days after that of
Wacûsa on the Yermûk--that is to say, seven or eight weeks after Abu
Bekr’s death. But in the interval between that event and the present
battle, there took place Abu Obeid’s protracted march, the battle of
Namârick and the expeditions following it, the gathering of Jabân’s
army and its march, all which must have occupied at the least two
months, and probably a good deal more.

[207] A marvellous vision was seen by the wife of Abu Obeid. A man
descended out of heaven, having a pitcher in his hand, out of which
he gave drink first to her husband, and then, one after another, to
several warriors of his tribe. She told Abu Obeid, who answered that
he wished it might be a token of impending martyrdom to him and them.
He then appointed each of the warriors, in turn, whom she had named,
to succeed him if he fell; and so it turned out. Abu Obeid cut at the
_lip_ of the elephant, being told (erroneously) that it was the
part where a mortal blow could most easily be struck.

[208] The same clan as Abu Obeid’s.

[209] The depth is as much as fifteen feet, and it runs at the rate of
one and a half to three knots an hour. (Rich’s _Travels_.) The
banks, however, are not so high, nor is the current so rapid, as of the

[210] The remarkable fact of a _Christian_ chief, Abu Zobeid,
of the Beni Tay, being, not only on the Moslem side, but taking so
prominent and brave a part in the defence of the broken force, is
noticed both by Ibn Athîr and Belâdzori. We shall see how largely
Mothanna was indebted to Christian help in the next decisive battle.

[211] Firuzân was the name of the insurgent. But, with the exception
that the nobles sacrificed the empire to intrigue and jealousies, we
are much in the dark as to the inner history of Persia at this time.
There were two parties, we are told, the Persians proper, or the
national faction, which supported Firuzân; and the other nationalities,
Rustem. But they soon coalesced.

[212] See above, pp. 128, 129.

[213] Sura, VIII. v. 14.

[214] The names of the tribes now flocking to the war are, many of them
familiar to the reader of the Prophet’s life; as the Beni Hantzala,
Khátham, Abd al Cays, Dhabha. The Beni Azd were 700 strong, under

These levies are represented as the response to the present summons of
Omar, now made afresh after the battle of the Bridge; but erroneously
so, for they reached Mothanna at once, and fought under his banner
within a month of that disaster. It took some time for the fresh levies
to gather, as we shall see.

[215] The history of this contingent is interesting. Mahomet had
promised Jarîr that he should have a commission to gather the scattered
members of the Beni Bajîla into a fighting column. Jarîr followed
Khâlid into Irâc, and then returned to Medîna, where he found Abu Bekr
sick, or too much occupied to attend to his claim. But after his death,
Omar, in fulfilment of the Prophet’s promise, gave him letters to the
various governors to search out everywhere those who, before Islam,
belonged to the Bajîla tribe, and still desired to be associated with
it. A great rendezvous of these was accordingly made, at a spot between
the Hejâz and Irâc, whither, yielding to the persuasion of Omar, they
now bent their steps. There was rivalry between Jarîr and Arfaja as to
the command of this tribe; but the levy had some grudge against Arfaja,
who therefore left them and took the command of his own tribe, the Beni
Azd. Arfaja is also said, by another tradition, to have led the Beni
Bajîla _into Syria_; but that (if true) must have been a different
body of men, and at a different time.

[216] The tradition runs: ‘Among those who joined Mothanna was Anis ibn
Hilâl, with an immense following of the Beni Namr (Christians); for
they said, _We shall surely fight on the side of our own people_.’

[217] Rustem and the insurgent Firuzân had come to a compromise, and
agreed, we are told, to a division of power.

[218] Mehrân is called Hamadâny, because he was a native of that
province. He is said, as on the former occasion, to have given Mothanna
the option of crossing by the bridge.

The channel was the Bâdacla, which is here described as a spill canal
to pass off the surplus waters of the Euphrates when in flood, into
the _Jowf_ or sea of Najaf--the same as the western branch of the
river taken off (as already described) by the cut at Museyib, above
Babylon. Boweib was not far from Hîra, the inhabitants of which must
have been in much excitement during this and other great battles in the
vicinity, on which their alternating fate depended.

[219] ‘Mothanna was an example,’ we are told, ‘in word and deed.
The people trusted and obeyed him both in what they liked and what
they disliked’--a noble, single-minded commander, whose repeated
supersession had no effect upon his loyalty and zeal.

[220] ‘I brought the army,’ Mothanna said, ‘to an evil pass by getting
before the enemy and closing the bridge upon him; but the Lord
graciously warded off the danger. Beware, therefore, of following my
example, for verily it was a grievous lapse. It becometh us not to
bar the escape of those who have nothing to fall back upon.’ It will
be observed that the compunction was not at all for any unnecessary
bloodshed among the helpless enemy (an idea altogether foreign to the
thoughts of a Moslem crusader), but of gratuitous loss and risk to the
Moslems. It may have added to Mothanna’s grief that in repelling this
last charge he lost his brother. The slain are put at 100,000. ‘Years
after, even in the time of the civil wars, you could not walk across
the plain without stumbling on the bones strewed all around.’

[221] The horse and spoil of Mehrân were awarded to the column in which
this youth was fighting. Jarîr and another had a quarrel over them. Had
the youth been a Mussulman, no doubt he would have obtained the whole
as a prize.

[222] His own tribe, the Beni Bekr ibn Wâil.

[223] Amr went on with supplies to Hîra, where the rest of the families
were in hiding. The female defenders of their camp remind one of
Layard’s description of a similar occasion on which the women of an
Arab encampment rushed out to repel an attack, armed with tent-poles
and pitchforks. (_Nineveh and Babylon_, p. 168.)

[224] It would unnecessarily weary the reader to detail these raids at
any length. Some of them were against other and hostile branches of the
very Christian tribes that had fought at the Bridge and at Boweib on
the Moslem side; some were to obtain supplies for the army, which was
reduced at one time to great extremities for food; but most were for
the double purpose of striking terror into the people, and at the same
time gaining plunder. On one occasion the Beni Bekr ransomed a great
company of prisoners from the Taghlib tribe, by relinquishing their own
share of the booty. One of these minor actions is called ‘Anbâr _the
second_’; and another ‘Allîs _the second_.’

A somewhat remarkable incident shows that Omar had spies in all
quarters, and also that he dreaded the outbreak of ancestral quarrels
between the different Arab tribes. The garrison of Siffîn, in
Mesopotamia, composed of the Beni Namr and Taghlib, were attacked by
the Beni Bekr and driven out of their stronghold, over the banks into
the river. In their terror they cried out, _We are drowning!_ and
the Beni Bekr answered, _Yea, drowning for burning!_ in allusion
to an occasion in former days in which the Beni Taghlib had burned
alive some of the Beni Bekr tribe. Omar, learning the circumstance
from his spies, demanded what this threat--founded on a pre-Islamite
feud, and therefore alien from the spirit of Islam--should mean. He
was told that the threat was used, not in a spirit of retaliation, but
of punishment and example, and in the interests of the faith; and the
explanation was accepted.

[225] There is a tradition that the reason given by Omar why he set
aside both Khâlid and Mothanna was ‘his fear lest their influence
should become too great, and lead the people to put their trust in them
instead of in the Lord of Hosts.’ There may, no doubt, have been some
jealousy of Khâlid’s influence; but there could hardly have been any
of Mothanna’s. Again, Omar is said to have changed his mind both in
respect of Mothanna, on learning his gallant stand at the Bridge, and
in respect of Khâlid, on account of his bravery at Kinnisrin--adding
that, in both, Abu Bekr had proved a better judge of character than he.
Whatever foundation there may be for the tradition so far as Khâlid
is concerned, it can hardly apply to Mothanna, for it was not till
after the battle of the Bridge that Omar finally superseded him, by
appointing Sâd to the supreme command.

[226] The ancient Gaulonitis.

[227] The landscape between the Haurân and the Jordan is well described
by Laurence Oliphant, _Land of Gilead_, p. 62. See also Chesney’s
_Euphrates Expedition_ (London, 1850), vol. i. pp. 512–515, where
he speaks of the nightingale in these parts.

[228] The effect of Omar’s order depends on the nature of Abu Bekr’s
commission. It is usually held that the commanders of the several
columns were at the first independent, and that Khâlid held a similar
position in respect of the Irâc contingent, till on the eve of the
great engagement, he persuaded the rest to come temporarily under
his supreme command--a fact, of course, unknown to Omar when issuing
his order of deposition. If so, Abu Obeida would, by Omar’s order,
have simply superseded Khâlid in taking command of the Irâc troops
in addition to his own. On the other hand, it is held by some that
the commission given by Abu Bekr to Khâlid was that of generalissimo;
and that to this supreme command Abu Obeida succeeded, in addition
to that of his own proper column and of Khâlid’s. This is the more
probable, since Abu Obeida was certainly recognised thereafter as
commander-in-chief in Syria. It is, however, inconsistent with the
story of separate commands; but, see previous note, p. 111.

Tradition is still very shifty and uncertain. According to Belâdzori,
it is even held that the order of supersession was not received till
the siege of Damascus; but this seems improbable.

[229] It is said by some that Abu Obeida, though he received the order
on the Yermûk, yet held it back till after the siege of Damascus. But
this is out of the question. Had Abu Obeida not been supreme on that
occasion, Damascus would not have been allowed to capitulate. It was
with difficulty that Khâlid, even in his subordinate position, was
prevented from treating the city as taken by storm, which he certainly
would have done had he been supreme; and in that case all the property,
as well as the inhabitants and buildings, would have been at the mercy
of the captors.

[230] Gen. xv. 2. ‘The steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus.’

[231] The window from which St. Paul was let down, no doubt stood
in one of these military structures, or casemates, upon the wall.
Tradition still points out the window, ‘although the wall itself has
been several times rebuilt.’ (Robinson’s _Palestine_, p. 466.
Damascus is described, pp. 443 _et seq._) There is an admirable
account of the city given by H. von Kremer, in his vol. i. ch. iv.,
_Damascus und der Hof der Omejjaden_.

The Eastern gateway here mentioned is built of great masses of reddish
sandstone, well polished. The arch is rounded, and there are two
portals at the sides for foot-passengers. The main archway, intended
for camels, &c., is now closed. The ‘Straight street,’ only fifteen
feet wide, still runs right across the city, from this gate to the
Jâbia gate, on the west. There are several other similar gateways in
the great wall.

[232] For the Eastern gate invested by Khâlid, see Von Kramer, p. 210.
Amru sat before the Bâb Tûma, to the N.E.; Shorahbil before the Bâb
Farâdîs, to the north; and Yezîd patrolled from ‘the Lesser Gate to the
gate Al Heisan.’

[233] The length of the siege is variously given at seventy days by
Tabari, and six months by Wâckidy. The latter, indeed, places the
capitulation in autumn, a month or two before the battle of Câdesîya,
which was fought in November; but this leaves too little time for
intervening events. The order of events was as follows. The city
was first invested probably early in the spring; it capitulated in
the summer; then followed the battle of Fihl; after which Khâlid’s
contingent was sent back to Irâc, and appeared on the field of Câdesîya
just as the contest was proceeding.

[234] He is called by some Nastûs, by others Bahân. The latter is the
name of the general who inflicted on Khâlid ibn Saîd his severe defeat.

[235] Von Kremer describes the moat surrounding the walls as still from
ten to fifteen feet in breadth. It is filled with water from the Barada.

[236] Madzûr.

[237] The ordinary account is that Khâlid, hearing the merriment of
the feast, stormed the city on his side, unknown to the rest of the
army, and that the garrison, when overcome, hastened to conclude a
capitulation with Abu Obeida on the other side. But this is incredible.
When the victorious column, in possession of the eastern quarter, were
pushing their way through the city, it would have been altogether too
late. It is of course possible that Khâlid, knowing that the treaty was
impending, sought thus to anticipate the consequences of capitulation,
by which the city was lost as a prey, and its inhabitants as prisoners
of war. On the other hand, some traditions ascribe the acceptance of
the surrender and the treaty to Khâlid himself. But the account I have
given is the most probable and consistent.

Later authorities tell of treachery on the part of a bishop, who, from
the walls, held converse with Khâlid, and having obtained for himself
terms, pointed out the place for an escalade, &c.; also that Khâlid was
supplied with scaling ladders by a monastery in the Ghûta. Such tales
rest generally on weak and unreliable authority; but as regards the
last, the monks, we are told, obtained a permanent reduction of the
land-tax for the service now rendered. (See Belâdzori, p. 121.)

[238] From every jarîb, or local acre.

[239] It has been supposed that the column of Khâlid had reached the
Cathedral and taken possession of one half, before he was recalled, and
hence this arrangement. But it is not so; the surrender of one half
was stipulated irrespective of his attack, and (in conformity with the
treaty in other matters) as a fair concession to the conquering army.
Corresponding arrangements were made for the division of the churches
in other cities of Syria, which capitulated without an assault; but
it was only in Damascus that the difficulty as to disposing of the
Cathedral occurred.

[240] The following is the inscription as copied by Von Kremer, who
gives a minute description of this most interesting structure. It is
the Septuagint version of Psalm cxiv. 13, with the addition only of the
words, _O Christ_:--

                                                 ΚΑΙ ΓΕΝΕΑΙ.

Belâdzori tells us that Muâvia and Abd al Malik both desired to take
the portion occupied by the Christians as a church into the Mosque,
and offered them any sum they chose to ask in compensation; but they
stood by the terms of the capitulation, and refused. It was reserved
for Welîd I., son of Abd al Malik, to seize the building. When he
summoned masons to demolish the partition-wall, they demurred, saying
that whoever touched a church became an idiot. Whereupon Welîd took
the pickaxe into his own hand, and commenced the work of demolition.
(Belâdzori, p. 125.)

I have given all the particulars I could find in the early and reliable
traditions regarding the siege and capitulation. The tales and romances
of later days are altogether without foundation.

[241] 1 Samuel xxxi. 7, _et seq._ _Beth-Shan_ became by contraction
_Beisân_. The classical name was Scythopolis, once a noble city,
the seat of a bishop and convents, and the birthplace of Cyril and
Basilides. Here Alexander Jannæus had his interview with Cleopatra; and
Pompey took it as well as Pella, on his way from Damascus to Judæa.
Pella has a special interest for us, as the spot where the Christians
took refuge when Titus attacked Judæa. Both cities were at the time of
our history populous and flourishing. (See Robinson’s _Palestine_, pp.
325 _et seq._)

[242] ‘The whole plain was now so full of fountains and rivulets as to
be in some places almost a marsh.’ (_Ibid._ pp. 325, 327.)

[243] The Roman army was so shut in, that their blockade is called ‘the
_first siege_ in Syria’; the second being that of Damascus. The
numbers of the enemy are, no doubt, as elsewhere, exaggerated.

[244] Some accounts place the battle of Fihl at the close of A.H.
XIII., and therefore prior to the siege of Damascus, in which city they
say that the broken army of the Romans took refuge. But the chronology
in Tabari is clearly as I have given it. The sequence of events is
governed by the battle of Câdesîya, which took place in October or
November, A.H. XIV., after the Irâc contingent had been dismissed from

[245] It is of Dhirâr that so many marvellous tales are told in the
romances of Wâckidy and others.

[246] Bithynia.

[247] North of Tripoli.

[248] He was the son of Shahryâr and grandson of Kesra. His mother was
of the house of Baduria.

[249] Such as Aly, Talha, Zobeir, and Abd al Rahmân.

[250] A play upon the name _Sàd_, or ‘lion.’ His ordinary
patronymic was ibn Abu Wackkâs. (For his early history, see _Life of
Mahomet_, pp. 63, 68.)

When Mahomet got excited in battle, he used a form of adjuration to
Sád, which he is said never to have addressed to any other;--‘_By the
life of my father and mother_, shoot, O Sád.’ Sád died A.D.
655, worth 250,000 dirhems.

[251] Tradition puts into Omar’s mouth a set speech; but it has
evidently been framed for the occasion. We are also told that in the
levies which defiled before Omar were the (future) murderer of Othmân,
and also the assassin of Aly; and that Omar was observed to shrink back
as they passed--a touch of the proleptic and marvellous, now rare in
the matter-of-fact narratives of this period.

[252] Repentant rebel chiefs could thus lead their own tribes, though
they could not take a general command, or the command of a column
comprising ‘Companions’ in its ranks. Each of these leaders had
an allowance of 2,000 dirhems. Amr ibn Mádekerib, who was a great
gourmand, said to Omar: ‘A thousand for this side (slapping one side of
his stomach), and a thousand for that (slapping the other); but what
for this?’ (slapping the middle). Omar laughed, and gave him 500 more,
at the same time exclaiming (in admiration of his stalwart frame),
‘Praised be the Lord who hath created such a one as Amr!’

[253] The statements as to the numbers in the different columns vary.
After the battle of the Bridge, most of the recruits from Medîna
(Omar’s first levy) had fled, and left Mothanna alone with the Bedouin
contingents, mainly from the Bekr and Rabia tribes, belonging to the
N.E. of Arabia. He was then reinforced, by Omar’s command, with new
levies from the northern tribes of the Beni Tay, Codhâa, Bajîla, &c.;
and could thus show, at the battle of Boweib, a rank and file of some
8,000 men. Then Sád brought 8,000 more, and fresh contingents kept
trooping up from Yemen and the south; so that, with the Syrian levies,
which arrived during the battle of Câdesîya, he had in all 30,000 men.

[254] The Beni Rabia and Modhar, _i.e._ clans of northern lineage.

[255] Of the constitution of companies, Tabari says that ‘it was
according to the practice of the Prophet, and the system followed at
the establishment of the civil (pension) list.’ The first allusion is
not clear, for Mahomet made no such disposition of his soldiers. The
second points to the enrolment, shortly after made by Omar, of the
whole Arab race, according to descent. The organisation of commands was
very simple. First, there was the _Ameer_, or commander-in-chief,
responsible to the Caliph alone; immediately under the Ameer were
the generals commanding the centre, the wings, and brigades, van-
and rear-guards; between the generals and the decemvirs there was no
intermediate grade.

[256] ‘Companions’ here include all men who had seen and conversed with
the Prophet. The number of these now present was an altogether new
feature in the army of Irâc, hitherto mainly comprised of Bedouins. Of
the Companions, there were over 310 who had joined Mahomet before the
‘Tree of Fealty’ (_Life_, ch. xix.); 300 who had been under his
banner at the taking of Mecca; and 700 sons of Companions. We have had
no such detail for any previous engagement. It foreshadows the coming
classification of Omar’s civil list.

[257] So called _Al Atîck_, as before explained. The _Khandac_ here
approaches within a few miles of that channel.

[258] Some of these raiding expeditions are described at considerable
length by tradition, which, now becoming prolific, loves to dwell on
all the accompaniments of this great battle. An expedition sent for
cattle to the marshy jungles of the Lower Euphrates, for a long time
searched in vain. At last a boor told them that there were no herds in
the vicinity; whereupon an ox bellowed from the thicket, ‘The liar!
here we all are.’ They entered the jungle and found a great herd, which
was driven off, and lasted the army many days.

[259] On the right, we are told that towards the N.E. the country
was flooded as far as Walaja. For the ‘Trench of Sapor,’ dug three
centuries before, see _Life of Mahomet_, vol. i. p. clxxi., where
also will be found an account of the beautiful palace of Khawarnac. One
road led to the palace, another to the desert, and a third from the
bridge took a direction south into Arabia.

The chronology is somewhat obscure. Sád is said to have encamped only
two months at Câdesîya before the battle; but either he must have been
much longer in that vicinity, or have spent some considerable time
previously at Odzeib or Shirâf, or else upon the march thither--which
last is not unlikely, as they travelled in heavy order, like emigrants
with their families. Sád set out from Medîna in spring (it was March
when on the way he received tidings of Mothanna’s death), and the
great battle was not fought till November; so that three-quarters of
a year have to be accounted for. According to some traditions, Rustem
prolonged his march from Medâin to Câdesîya through a period of four
months, which, however, may be an exaggeration.

[260] The names of fifteen are given as ‘among’ those sent, so there
may have been as many as twenty or more. Of the number were the two
Moghîras, Asháth, Amr ibn Mádekerib, Nomân ibn Mocarrin, Otârid,
Moänna, &c.

[261] There is much embellishment and romance in the scene and in the
speeches, which are given in great detail, and must be taken only for
what they are worth. They have been spun by tradition, no doubt, around
a kernel of fact. There must have been many Persians present, who would
tell the tale in after days, as well as the members of the deputation
itself. There is fair probability for at least so much of the narrative
as I have given. Asim was brother of the warrior Cacâa.

[262] Jalenûs led the advanced column of 40,000; Rustem, the main body
of 60,000; there were 20,000 in the rear-guard; and besides, 60,000
camp followers accompanied the army. The right wing was commanded by
Hormuz, the left by Mehrân, son of Behrâm. Some traditions put the
numbers at 200,000; but it is all guess-work. 15,000 of these (as with
the Roman army) are called ‘bound (meaning, apparently, tied together)
for death,’ and 60,000 free; the rest seemingly slaves and convicts.
Abundance of tales are given of Rustem’s desponding dreams and auguries.

[263] These raids and expeditions are narrated at a length altogether
incommensurate with their importance--excepting that everything
connected with the impending battle is invested by tradition with
unusual significance.

[264] The three envoys were Ribia, Hodzeifa, and Moghîra. The
colloquies are much in the same style as those at the court of
Medâin--long addresses, and rather tiresome. Rustem is represented
at one time as inclining to Islam, and held back only by the taunts
of his officers from embracing it; at another, threatening the Arabs
with contemptuous denunciations. Much is drawn evidently from the
imagination of the traditionists.

[265] ‘If the Lord will,’ added one of his followers. ‘Whether He will
or not,’ said Rustem. Affecting to speak contemptuously of the Arabs,
he said: ‘It is going, I fear, to be a year of monkeys. The fox barks
when the lion is dead;’ meaning that in the time of Chosroes the Arabs
would not have dared to invade Persia. Fresh dreams and omens of a
portentous kind now multiplied upon him.

[266] There were, besides, the riding elephants of the court and
nobles. These must all have been imported from India. The elephant
does not appear to have been used by the Assyrians in war. It only
appears in their mural representations as a rarity, and under peaceful

The names of the other leaders were Dzul Hâjib (or Bahmân Jadoweih),
Mehrân, Hormuzan, and Bendzowân.

[267] The squib did not die out (as we shall see below), but assumed a
permanent form, as in this couplet:--

    We fought patiently until the Lord vouchsafed us victory,
      While Sád was safe within the walls of Câdesîya;
    And we returned to our homes, finding many a widow there;
      But among the women of Sád there was not any widow found.

[268] Sura viii., entitled _Anfâl_, or ‘The Spoils,’ is called
also ‘Sura Jehâd.’ It is a long chapter, of seventy-eight verses.
On ordinary occasions only suitable portions were recited. Here,
apparently, the entire Sura was read. Two other Suras--_Victory_
(xlviii.) and _She who is tried_ (lx.)--are also used before
battle, as containing warlike passages; and the practice is kept up in
Moslem campaigns to the present day.

[269] The battle lasted three days, and each day, it will be
observed, had a different name. The first, _Armâth_; the second,
_Aghwâth_ (alluding, as some think, to the _succour_ brought
that day by the Syrian contingent); the third, _Ghimâs_; the final
night, _Harîr_ (noise or clangour). The last is the only name
which clearly has a meaning, as we shall see. The others may have been
taken from names of places. See _C. de Perceval_, vol. iii. p.
484. Gibbon (ch. li.), ignoring the first day, translates the other
three as signifying Succour, Concussion, and Barking.

[270] Abu Mihjan confessed to Selma that in his cups he had been
singing these verses:--

    Bury me when I die by the roots of the vine;
      The moisture thereof will distil into my bones;
    Bury me not in the open plain, for then I much fear
      That no more again shall I taste the flavour of the grape.

But he swore to her that he would not again indulge in drinking, nor
in abuse of the Ameer. And Selma, explaining this to Sád, obtained his
release, so that he joined his comrades on the last great day of battle.

[271] Cacâa is said to have dressed up a troop of camels with
trappings, &c., resembling those of elephants, and so endeavoured to
affright the Persian cavalry. But it reads like a story.

[272] Sád felt satisfied and assured, so long as this shouting of
genealogies went on among his men, that all was right; and desired that
his sleep should not be disturbed during the night unless it ceased.
What kind of shouting the Persians’ was is not stated.

[273] So tradition says; but it seems a piece of extravagance that
thirty Persians should come forward, one after another, to be thus cut

Cacâa is the great hero of Câdesîya whom tradition delights to honour.
He was fearful lest Hâshim should not arrive in time. So, to keep up
the spirits of the Moslems, he repeated the tactics of the previous
day. During the night he led his thousand men back a little way on
the Syrian road, and in the morning appeared as before, company after
company, as if they had been fresh reinforcements. The last had just
come in, when Hâshim himself appeared in sight with his 5,000. But
there is a tendency to fiction throughout as respects Cacâa.

[274] The first thing, we are told, that gave him assurance was the
sound of the Arabs vaingloriously reciting their genealogies, as they
had done the night before. Then, towards morning, Cacâa was heard

    We have slain a whole host, and more,
      Singly, and in fours and fives,
    (We were like black serpents in the manes of lions)
      Until, as they fell, I called out lustily,
    _The Lord is my Lord!_ whiles I had to keep my guard all round.

Whereupon Sád knew that the attack was going on favourably.

[275] Another account is that, on the approach of the Moslems, Rustem
shot an arrow, which transfixed the foot of Hilâl (the fortunate
captor) to his stirrup; whereupon Hilâl rushed forward and despatched
him. Gibbon’s version is very different from either.

[276] The Hindia (which answers to the Atick or Bâdacla) is described
by Geary as flowing swiftly, sixty yards broad, and in the full season
eight or nine feet deep, with banks from ten to twenty feet in height.

[277] This is on the authority of one present:--‘We followed our
husbands,’ she relates, ‘and no sooner was the Persian army routed than
we (the women) tucked up our garments, seized clubs in our hands, and
issued forth to the field of battle, which was strewn with the dead.
Every Moslem still alive we raised up, and gave drink to; and every
wounded heathen we despatched. And the children followed us, and were
helpers with us in this service.’ (_Tabari_, iii. p. 73.)

A characteristic incident is mentioned. Among the slain was the
Muedzzin of the army. There was a contention as to who should succeed
to this post of honour. It came near to blows and bloodshed, when Sád
interposed, and settled the matter by his authority.

[278] The captor received 30,000. Gibbon, resting on the authority of
D’Herbelot, tells us:--‘The standard of the monarchy was overthrown and
captured on the field--a leathern apron of a blacksmith who, in ancient
times, had arisen, the deliverer of Persia; but this badge of heroic
poverty was disguised and almost concealed by a profusion of precious
gems.’ Our authorities simply describe it as made of panthers’ skins,
richly jewelled.

[279] The vast import of the battle is signified by the tradition that
the tidings of the victory were carried by the Genii to distant parts,
long before it was possible for any human messenger to reach.

[280] Written _Burs_. There is a town Bûrsa on the Euphrates,
four leagues below Babylon; but I take it that the ruin (_Tower of
Babel_) is meant, which lay in the way.

[281] In these engagements, Sûra, Kûtha, and Sabât, towns situated on
or near the Tigris, were either taken, or submitted themselves to the
Moslem arms. While encamped at Babylon, Sád made a pilgrimage to the
shrine (_Majlis_) of Abraham.

[282] Medâin signifies ‘Cities.’ It is said to have comprised a cluster
of seven towns, but it is ordinarily taken to designate the twin cities
of Seleucia and Ctesiphon. The double bend of the Tigris, in the form
of the upper part of the letter S (with the convex side to the west),
incloses a considerable peninsula on the eastern bank, and on this
stands the Tâk i Kesra.

[283] Geary, in the account of his recent journey, says it is fast
falling into decay; but ‘the arch unequalled in the world’ is still
nearly entire. Built of brick, it has a façade 450 long and 160 deep,
and the niches and cornices and mouldings still remain. The vaulted
arch is nearly 100 feet high, with a span of 80 feet.

[284] It is also called Nahr Shîr, and is described as beyond (i.e.
to the east of) Sabât. In the earlier campaigns, this name of _Nahr
Shîr_ frequently occurs, as the point at which the pursuit of the
victorious columns was stopped by the Persian outposts.

[285] Sura xiv. v. 44.

[286] Among the single combats, a singular one is mentioned, in
which Zohra challenged Shahryâr, a mighty champion. They closed, and
each slew the other. But the story, though told with some detail, is
uncertain; for, according to other accounts, Zohra was killed many
years after by a fanatic (Khârijite) in the time of Hajjâj.

The Arabs had twenty catapults--an instrument of war not unknown in
Arabia; see the siege of Tâyif (_Life of Mahomet_, p. 433). In
Mesopotamia, now at Sád’s command, there were ample materials for their
construction. The ramparts must have been of great thickness; for,
composed of sun-dried bricks, their outline can be still distinctly
traced on either bank. Of buildings, however, there are, besides
the _Tâk i Kesra_, no other remains of any kind whatever, the
materials having all been carried off to build the city of Baghdad, 16
miles above it. But coins and coffins abound.

In the siege we are told that the people, reduced to the utmost
distress, were driven to feed on cats and dogs. But, with the whole
river front open to them by boat, and the other half of the city with
plentiful supplies safe on the opposite bank, it is difficult to
understand how this could have been.

[287] As many as 100,000 are said to have been thus captured and

[288] A touch of the marvellous affects the story of the capture of
Medâin at several points. Sád’s reply was communicated orally by Abu
Mocarrin--‘who spake to the king in words given to him at the moment by
the Lord, but which he himself understood not, neither did those about
him.’ The fact was--as they were afterwards told by the single Persian
left in the western suburb--that Abu Mocarrin had delivered (without
knowing it) in the Persian tongue this mysterious answer: ‘The Moslems
will never make peace with thee, till they have eaten the honey of
Afrîdûn, along with the citrons of Kûtha.’ ‘Alas!’ exclaimed the king,
‘what was this but an angelic message spoken through the lips of the
messenger? Even the angels have turned against us!’ And so, followed by
his people, he fled across the river.

[289] Salmân, ‘the Persian,’ was a convert of some standing. It was
he who suggested to Mahomet the device of digging a trench to defend
Medîna against the siege which the Coreish laid to it, A.H. 5.
(_Life of Mahomet_, chap. xvii.) A Christian, native of Ispahan
(according to others, of Ram Hormuz), he had been taken captive in
some Bedouin raid, and sold as a slave at Medîna, where he obtained
his freedom on professing Islam. We do not hear much more of him after
this. He died at Medâin.

[290] This was done that the horses might the more readily follow one

[291] The gallant feat was repeated by Timoor, when he took Baghdad,
A.D. 1392; his army, swimming across the river, ‘thereby
impressed the inhabitants with an opinion that they were invincible.’
(Chesney, vol. i. p. 32.) The Tigris is more rapid, and has higher and
steeper banks, than the Euphrates. It is 200 yards wide, and flows at
over four miles an hour. The depth is considerable, and no fords are
spoken of by travellers. According to Rich, it is low in winter, begins
to rise in March from the melting of the snow on the hills, and reaches
its height in May. In flood, he says, the current is over seven miles
an hour. At the period of the passage, the stream must have been on the
rise. Tradition says it was in full flood.

Moslem annalists may be excused for surrounding the heroic passage with
many marvellous associations. For example, not only was there no loss
of life, but not even of the most trifling article. A drinking jug was
carried away by the current, but even that was recovered. The water
reached the horses’ manes, but they trod as it were on firm ground, &c.
And it is added truly: ‘In the whole history of Islam, there was no
passage more wonderful than this crossing of the Tigris and the capture
of the royal city.’

[292] Sura xliv. 25.

[293] The treasure alone was put at Three millions of dirhems. The
property divided, including the Fifth, was estimated at Nine hundred

[294] It was used, mingled with wax, for the candles of the wealthy.
Gibbon has a note, _in loco_, on the more precious sorts.

[295] Say five or six thousand pounds each.

[296] Five swords were captured, notable not only for intrinsic value
but historical interest. One had been the sword of the Kaiser of Rome;
another had been taken from the Khacân of the Turks; and a third had
been that of Dâhir, ‘King of Hind.’ The sword of Bahram was given to
Cacâa; and Sád kept the Kaiser’s for himself.

[297] As far as Khanickîn.

[298] The ruins of Rei are still visible within a few miles of Teheran.

[299] We shall hear more of Ziâd and of his parentage. His reputed
father was Abu Sofîan, who is said to have met his mother, a slave kept
by another person, at Tayif. He was eventually acknowledged by Muâvia
(son of Abu Sofîan) as his brother, much to the scandal of the public.
He was destined to play a prominent part in the history which follows.

[300] The Bedouin part of the garrison was formed of the Beni Iyâdh,
Tâghlib, Namr, &c. Tekrît was stormed by Timoor, after an obstinate
defence, A.D. 1392. It is now ‘a miserable village’ of 600
houses. But the ruins around are extensive, and a castellated building
overhangs the river at a height of 200 feet, with a fosse behind and a
staircase leading down to the river, where the massacre no doubt took

[301] Kirckesia or Circesium.

[302] The pest of gigantic and noisome mosquitoes, issuing from the
swamps and groves in overpowering swarms, is complained of by all
travellers in this quarter. See, e.g., Loftus’s _Travels_, p. 280.

[303] We are constantly reminded, in the tradition of this period, of
Omar’s nervous apprehension lest his armies should be tempted beyond
the reach of succour in case of any disaster befalling them.

[304] Reeds, wattle, and mud. (_Belâdzori._)

[305] The square was set out thus. A powerful archer, from the centre,
shot arrows on all four sides; where the arrows reached was the limit,
and the square was measured out accordingly. The main streets were 40
cubits wide, the cross ones 20, and the lanes 7.

[306] In Kûfa the southern tribes, with the Beni Morâd at their head,
greatly outnumbered the northern, which latter belonged to the Beni
Nizâr. The two nationalities inhabited separate divisions of the city,
and prayed each in its own Mosque. Bussorah, on the contrary, was
almost entirely peopled from the north; and the five chief clans--Azd,
Temîm, Bekr, Abd al Cays, and the Natives of Medîna (Ansâr)--occupied
each a separate quarter of its own.

In the time of Ziâd (A.H. 50), Belâdzori tells us that in
Bussorah the register (Dewân or civil list) numbered 80,000 warriors,
and their wives and children 120,000, all drawing pensions from the
State. Kûfa is rated at 60,000 fighting men on the roll, with families
numbering 80,000 souls. The proportion of families to fighting men
must surely have been much greater, as the harems of all of them
swarmed with children; and the Arab population of each city was
probably considerably greater than I have ventured (on the authority
of Belâdzori) to note in the text. There also must have been a great
multitude other than Arabs--dependants, clients, slaves, &c., Moslem
and non-Moslem; so that, as the cities grew, it is not improbable that
they numbered, of all classes, over 300,000 each. The population would
fluctuate according to the numbers engaged in the field.

[307] At Marj Rum, to the N.W. of Damascus.

[308] Edessa.

[309] The Twelve ‘Leaders’ chosen by Mahomet at the Pledge of Acaba.
(_Life of Mahomet_, p. 134.)

[310] The church of Hâma (_Epiphania_) was turned into a mosque.
Arrestân (_Arethusa_) on the Orontes, Shaizar (_Larissa_),
Maára, and other places of less importance, are mentioned as taken
possession of on this march.

[311] Kinnisrîn or _Chalcis_. According to some, the inhabitants
were forced to retire to Antioch, from whence they returned on peace
being restored. Others say that the city with its churches was, like
Damascus, divided. But the received tradition is that the people were
treated with moderation, and that only one plot of ground was taken
possession of for a mosque.

[312] Antioch, ‘_Queen of the East_, was the third metropolis of
the world.... Its wide circuit of many miles was surrounded by walls
of astonishing height and thickness, which had been carried across
ravines and over mountain summits with such daring magnificence of
conception as to give the city the aspect of being defended by its own
encircling mountains.’ (Farrar’s _St. Paul_, vol. i. p. 288.)
The ravages, not many years before, of the Persian invasion must have
still left their mark upon this noble city, and possibly affected its
means of defence. Still, we might reasonably have expected something
more from tradition than the simple mention of a battle outside the
famous citadel of Northern Syria, followed by its capitulation. But the
_history_ of the fall of Syria is little more than a calendar of
dates and places.

[313] Samsât, or Shamsât, the same as _Samosata_. Besides Marásh
(_Germanica_) and Menbij (_Hierapolis_), Tell Azâz, Doluk,
and many other places in this direction were overrun by Khâlid upon
this occasion.

[314] The meaning is somewhat obscure. The words are, ‘until there be
born the Accursed one. And I would not that he should be born; for his
deeds shall not be good; and he will devise evil against Rome.’

[315] _Life of Mahomet_, p. 384.

[316] The Jewish law of retaliation--‘eye for eye, nose for nose, ear
for ear, tooth for tooth,’ &c.--is maintained in the Corân. See Sura
ii. v. 179, and v. v. 53.

[317] The story is variously told, but the main facts, as given in the
text, appear beyond doubt. Tradition gives us first a romantic tale
of what happened at ‘the Iron Bridge’ on the Orontes, where Jabala
was posted to cover Antioch. There a Mussulman chief was brought in a
prisoner to Jabala’s camp. He happened to be descended from the same
ancestry, and on his reciting the poem of Hassân on the glories of the
Ghassanide dynasty, he was dismissed with rich presents; and, in the
end, Jabala himself went over to the Moslem camp.

After he had retired to the Byzantine Court, an envoy arrived at
Constantinople, with diplomatic communications from Medîna, and to him
Jabala made known his sorrows and pining after the desert. Pressed to
return to Arabia, he agreed to do so, if Omar would give him one of his
daughters in marriage and designate him his successor. He at the same
time sent a rich gift to Hassân, who composed a poem, still extant, in
token of his gratitude. The following is a couplet from the same:--

    ‘Jabala, the son of Jafna, forgot me not, when he reigned in Syria,
    Nor yet after he had returned at Constantinople to the Christian

We are to believe that Omar accepted the offer! but the officer who
carried the answer to Constantinople found that Jabala had died (A.H.
XX.). Others hold that Jabala survived to the reign of Muâvia, who
tempted him in vain to return to Syria by the promise of a property at

The colony of his descendants and followers is said to have survived at
Constantinople till the fall of the Cæsars; and a colour of likelihood
is given to the statement from the frequent recurrence of the name
_Gabala_ among the notables at the court of Heraclius’ successors.
(See _Caussin de Perceval_, vol. iii. p. 510.)

[318] It was the same call as a general call to prayer. (See _Life of
Mahomet_, p. 205.)

[319] The tradition is given in Ibn al Athîr. There is always a
tendency to magnify the simplicity and self-abnegation of the first
two Caliphs, and something in the story may be due to this. But the
tradition is of a character otherwise not likely to have been invented;
and there is nothing in it very improbable, as the two courts had
dealings with each other, not always unfriendly.

[320] According to some authorities, this command was conferred on
Khâlid by Omar on his visit to Jerusalem.

[321] Palestine (_Filistîn_) was thus confined to the lower and western
portion of the Holy Land, south of a line from Jerusalem and Jericho
to Cæsarea. The province of the Jordan (_Ordonna_) extended as far
north-west as Sûr, Tyre, and Acca. To the north of this, again, was
Syria or _Shâm_. (See _Caussin de Perceval_, vol. iii. p. 425.)

[322] Artabûn is called ‘the shallowest and the unluckiest of the
Romans.’ Omar said of him: ‘We shall play off Artabûn the Arab (meaning
Amru) against Artabûn the Roman, and see what cometh.’ Artabûn thought
to throw Amru off his guard, by telling him, at the interview which is
said to have taken place between them, that he was going to retire on
Egypt. When Omar was told of the ambush and Amru’s escape by taking
another road, he said, ‘Verily, Amru is a lucky fellow.’

[323] _Ramleh_ was not founded till the eighth century. The place
was previously named Rama (Arimathea), near which Ramleh was built; but
tradition, by anticipation, always calls it Ramleh.

Gaza, according to some, was captured in the first invasion, two years
before. The following places are mentioned as now reduced:--Sebastia
(on the way from Cæsarea to Nablûs, where is the tomb of John the son
of Zacharias); Beit-Jibrîn (or _Beth Gabara_); Yabna; Ramh (Marj
Arjûn); Ascalon; Amwâs. In fact, the whole country, with the single
exception of Cæsarea, now fell into the hands of the Arabs and became

The conquest of Palestine, however, like that of Syria, is a mere
epitome, with great confusion of dates. This is forcibly illustrated
by the perfunctory notice of the important battle of Ajnadein, and
the uncertainty surrounding its chronology. Several authorities place
it even before Yermûk, giving the date as on a Saturday, in Jumâd I.,
A.H. XIII. (634 A.D.). As the date given really fell upon a Saturday,
Weil adopts this view. But it is opposed to the consistent though very
summary narrative of the best authorities, as well as to the natural
course of the campaign, which, as we have seen, began on the _east_
side of the Jordan, all the eastern province being reduced before the
Arabs ventured to cross over to the well-garrisoned country west of the

[324] It was foretold (so the tradition runs) in the Jewish books, that
Jerusalem would be captured by a king whose name was formed but of
three letters (as in that of Omar [Arabic]), and whose description
tallied otherwise so exactly with that of the Caliph that there could
be no doubt that he was the personage meant by the prophecy. When
this was told to Artabûn, he lost all heart, and departed to Egypt;
whereupon the Patriarch sent to make terms with Amru. The tradition is
curious, and, however fabulous in appearance, may possibly have had
some foundation in fact.

[325] ‘Whither away?’ said Aly to the Caliph; ‘wilt thou go and fight
with dogs?’ ‘Nay,’ replied Omar; ‘not so, but I mean to visit the seat
of war, before Abbâs is taken, and the flames of sedition burst forth.’
He then started, leaving Aly in charge of Medîna. But the tradition has
a strong Abbasside tinge.

[326] The name is not given by the Arabian annalists. We learn it from

[327] The received account is that Omar made this (his first) journey
to Syria on _horseback_; the second (on the Roman invasion by sea),
riding on a _camel_; the third (at the great plague) on a _mule_; and
the last (his progress through Syria) on an _ass_.

[328] The heavenly journey is thus referred to in the Corân: ‘Praise be
to Him, who carried His servant by night to the FARTHER TEMPLE (_Masjid
al Acksa_), the environs of which we have made blessed.’ Sura xvii.
(The ‘Farther Temple,’ in opposition to the Nearer Temple, the Kaaba.)
See the tale, _Life of Mahomet_, p. 126. Jerusalem was the Kibla of
Mahomet and his followers all the time he worshipped at Mecca. In
the second year after his flight to Medîna, the Prophet was suddenly
instructed to turn instead to Mecca, to which ever since, the Moslems
have turned at prayer. (_Ibid._ p. 198.)

[329] The _Haram_, is the sacred inclosure on the S.E. corner of Mount
Zion. It is minutely described by Ali Bey, vol. ii. p. 214, with its
two great mosques, _Masjid al Acksa_ (said to be the Basilica of the
Virgin) and _Kubbet al Sakhra_ (the Dome of the Stone),--where also
will be found plans and sketches of the same. Until the Crimean War,
the Haram was guarded, as sacredly as Mecca itself, from the tread of
an infidel. But it is now more or less accessible, and an elaborate
survey of the two Mosques and their surroundings has recently been made
by the Palestine Exploration Society: see their _Proceedings_, January

The _Kubbet al Sakhra_, or ‘Dome of the Stone,’ has been built
polygonal to meet the shape of the ‘Stone,’ or Rock referred to in
the text, which gives its name to the Mosque. This rock rises to a
height of six or seven feet from a base, according to Ali Bey, 33 feet
in diameter (or, according to others, 57 feet long and 43 wide). The
architecture is Byzantine, but Greek builders were no doubt engaged for
its construction. There is probably little, if anything, of original
Christian building in the present Haram.

Ali Bey describes the _Sakhra_ itself as a stony apex cropping
out from the rock, which, when Mahomet stood upon it, ‘sensible of the
happiness of bearing the holy burden, depressed itself, and becoming
soft like wax, received the print of his holy foot upon the upper
part.... This print is now covered with large sort of cage of gilt
metal wire, worked in such a manner that the print cannot be seen on
account of the darkness within, but it may be touched with the hand
through a hole made on purpose. The believers, after having touched the
print, proceed to sanctify themselves by passing the hand over the face
and beard.’ (_Travels of Ali Bey_, vol. ii. p. 220.)

[330] According to Theophanes, Omar, clad in unclean garments of camel
hair, demanded of Sophronius to be shown over the Temple of Solomon,
and was with difficulty constrained to change them by the protestations
of the Patriarch, who wept over the threatened ‘abomination of
desolation.’ But the general tenor of Christian tradition (whatever
its worth may be) is, as in the text, altogether favourable to Omar’s
courtesy and condescension. Sophronius, we are told, showed him
the stony pillow of Jacob. It was covered with soil and sweepings.
Whereupon Omar, with his own hands, assisted by his people, set to work
to clear the spot, and the rock (_Sakhra_) having been laid bare,
the foundation of the Great Mosque was built upon it.

The most unlikely part of these traditions is that which supposes
that Omar would have ever thought of praying in a church adorned by
pictures, crosses, &c., though of course it is possible that he may
have made the excuse given in the text out of courtesy and politeness.

[331] It is of this journey the tale is told that in the midst of one
of his discourses Omar was interrupted by an ecclesiastic. The Caliph
quoted from the Corân the passage--_Whom the Lord misleadeth, for
him there is no guide_ (Sura iv. 90, 142; xvii. 99; and xviii. 6),
whereupon the Christian cried out: _Nay! God misleadeth no one._
Omar threatened that he would behead the Christian if he continued
his interruption, and so the Christian held his peace. The story is
told both in the _Romance of Wâckidy_, and in the _Fatooh al
Shâm_; and though wanting in authority, gives truly the _popular
impression_ of the doctrine of Predestination as taught in the
Corân. (See _The Corân: its Composition and Teaching_, Christian
Knowledge Society, p. 56.)

[332] The monks of the ‘Convent of Khâlid,’ near Damascus, received a
permanent remission of their land tax as a reward for the treacherous
aid rendered by them at the siege of that city. A similar concession
was enjoyed by the Samaritans, who hated both Jews and Christians
equally, and aided the Arabs as guides and spies; but the fruits of
their treachery were resumed by Yezîd.

Omar made an assignment from the tithes to a colony of Christian lepers
near Jâbia; but it seems to have been a purely charitable grant.

[333] Sura ix. 30.

[334] In some treaties given by Belâdzori and others, as concluded at
the first conquest, some of these disabilities are mentioned; but I
doubt their genuineness. Though the law was such, the practice varied
greatly. Under intolerant Caliphs, such as the orthodox Abbassides,
the poor Christians were always liable to have a fresh order issued to
demolish all but their ancient churches, close the Christian schools,

[335] According to Caussin de Perceval, the strongholds along the
Tigris, as well as the Euphrates--Tekrît, Hît, &c.--were only now
reduced by the Arabs; but, according to the best traditions, these
towns fell into the hands of the Moslems, shortly after the battle of

[336] The story of this inroad and widespread rising is told by
tradition with the extremest brevity; but it is very evident that the
position of Abu Obeida must, for some little time, have been very
critical. Lebeau conjectures that the naval attack was led from Egypt
by Constantine, the son of Heraclius; and M. Caussin de Perceval thinks
that this is probable (vol. iii. p. 512).

[337] It seems almost certain that Khâlid did so serve, though there
are other traditions to the effect that he never served under any other
general than Abu Obeida. He may have led an independent expedition.

[338] Now Diâr Bekr.

[339] Byzantine historians tell us that the Roman governor of Edessa
(Roha) concluded a treaty with Iyâdh, by which he bound himself to pay
100,000 pieces of gold, as black-mail, with the view of preserving
his province from Saracen inroad, but that Heraclius disowned the
humiliating condition, and deposed the governor. There is no hint of
this in our Arabian authorities.

[340] Four thousand of the Beni Iyâdh were sent back in a body to
Mesopotamia from Asia Minor, and resumed their allegiance to the
Caliph, though continuing to profess the Christian faith. The remainder
dispersed on the borders of the two kingdoms.

[341] That is, their tax was called _úshr_ (‘tenth’), the tithe paid
by the believer, instead of _jazia_. It may be doubted whether the
intolerant condition, forbidding the education of the children in
Christian doctrine, was meant otherwise than as a nominal indication
of the supremacy of Islam. It certainly was not enforced (if at all)
with any rigour, for we read of this great tribe continuing in the
profession of Christianity under the Omeyyad, and even under the
Abbasside, dynasties. And in still later times they had their bishops
at Ana, on the Euphrates. (See Caussin de Perceval, v. iii. p. 324.)

We now part with that invaluable author, whose history closes with this

[342] Nothing illustrates the vagueness of the Syrian narrative
so forcibly as the uncertainty of the year in which Cæsarea fell.
Byzantine historians make the siege last seven years, and place the
fall in the year A.H. 19, that is, A.D. 640. Various traditions place
it in every year between A.H. 14 and A.H. 20, and represent the siege
as having lasted, some three, some four, some seven years.

A Jew is said to have betrayed the town by discovering to the Arabs
an undefended aqueduct, through which they effected an entrance.
The population was mixed; 70,000, we are told, were Greeks, fed
(_murtazac_) from the public stores; 30,000 Samaritans; and
200,000 (?) Jews. It was a sad fate that of the captives. It is
mentioned incidentally that two were made over to the daughters of
Asâd ibn Zorâra, one of the twelve leaders, in place of two from Ain
Tamar, who had died in their service. Multitudes of Greeks--men and
women--must have pined miserably in a strange land and in hopeless
servitude. And amongst these there must have been many women of gentle
birth forced into menial office, or if young and fair to look upon,
reserved for a worse fate--liable, when their masters were tired of
them, to be sold into other hands. No wonder that Al Kindy, in his
Apology, inveighs, with scathing denunciation, against the slavery
practised in these Moslem crusades.

[343] _Calansua_, or helmet, worn by the captains of the Syrian

[344] Khâlid is no great favourite of Abbasside tradition. He belonged
to a branch distant from that of the Prophet, which attached itself to
the Omeyyads, of whom, in the struggle with Aly, Abdallah son of Khâlid
was a staunch adherent.

The general outline of Khâlid’s case is clear, though there is variety
in the details. According to some accounts, Omar returned to him all
the property he had confiscated. Others say that, when pressed to do
so, he said, ‘Nay, that be far from me. I am but the agent of the
Moslems, and am bound to administer their property faithfully. I will
never give it back.’

Tabari gives yet another account. Omar wrote to Abu Obeida commanding
him to arraign Khâlid; but adding that if he would confess his guilt in
the affair of Mâlik ibn Noweira, he would pardon him and restore him
to his Government. Khâlid repaired for counsel to his sister Fâtima,
then with her husband in Syria. She dissuaded him from confessing;
for if he did so, it would only give Omar--who was determined on his
ruin--a handle to depose him with disgrace. He bent down, and, kissing
her forehead, said: ‘It is the truth, my sister.’ So he returned to
Abu Obeida, and refused to make any confession. Thereupon Bilâl, as in
the text, stripped off his kerchief, and so on, as in the text. At the
conclusion of the trial Abu Obeida, by order of the Caliph, confiscated
half of his property, even to his sandals--taking one and leaving the

[345] For an account of the persecution and martyrdom, avenged by the
invasion of the Abyssinian Negus, see _Life of Mahomet_, vol. i.
p. clxii. For the treaty of Mahomet, vol. iii. p. 299 (second edition,
p. 158).

[346] The expulsion of the Jews is ordinarily assigned to the twentieth
year of the Hegira; that of the Christians took place earlier. For
the conquest of Kheibar, see _Life of Mahomet_, p. 395; and for
the death-bed saying of the Prophet, _ibid._ p. 503. That the
Peninsula should be wholly and exclusively Moslem was a sentiment so
closely connected with the inspiration of Mahomet, when he declared
in the Corân that he was ‘sent a prophet to the Arabs,’ and so forth,
that it might well have recurred in the feverish delusions of his last
illness. But whether or no, the utterance--whatever its purport--was
evidently not taken at the time as an obligatory command. Had it been
so, we may be sure that Abu Bekr would have made it his first concern
to give effect to it, and no other reason would have been required
to justify the act. As it is, various reasons are assigned for the
expatriation of the Christians. First, we are told that they took
usury greedily; next, that they fell to variance among themselves, and
_asked_ to be removed; lastly, that they were growing so strong
that Omar became afraid of them. As regards the Jews, we are told that
they were guilty of murder, and also that they attacked the Caliph’s

The governors of the districts to which they emigrated had it in charge
to treat them fairly. The Christians received special consideration,
and the tale of raiment (which the heads of the community collected by
yearly circuits among their people in Irâc and Syria) was reduced by
successive Caliphs as the numbers of the tribe diminished by conversion
to Islam or other cause.

Fadak, a dependency of Kheibar, was long a source of discontent to
the descendants of Fâtima, who, as we have seen, claimed it for her
patrimony; but Abu Bekr reserved it for the poor and the kinsmen of the
Prophet (Beni Hâshim). Certain of the Omeyyad Caliphs took possession
of it as their private property. It was repeatedly released to the
claimants as an act of justice or of piety (notably by Omar II., the
pietist of the Dynasty); but it was always soon resumed again.

[347] For example, the grandsons of the Prophet got 5,000 pieces each,
like the men of Bedr. As to Abbâs, his uncle, some say he was rated at
5,000 pieces, others 7,000, and some again as high as 12,000 or even
24,000; but these last figures are evidently a pandering of tradition
to glorify Abbâs and exalt the Abbasside dynasty under courtly
influence. Abbâs was of course respected in the time of Omar as the
Prophet’s uncle; but he never took any leading part at the Caliph’s
court; and indeed his antecedents, during the life of Mahomet, were
not much to his credit. See _Life of Mahomet_, p. 417. Ayesha was
allotted 2,000 pieces extra ‘for the love the Prophet bare to her;’ but
according to some, she declined to take it. The slave-concubines (Safia
and Juweiria) were at first rated at 6,000, but at the solicitation of
the other widows they were placed on an equality with them.

[348] For these see _ibid._ pp. 368, 371, chap. xix.

[349] Thus certain of the Dihcâns, or Persian Talookdars, who threw in
their lot with the invading army, had a high rank, with the title to
1,000 pieces, conferred upon them.

[350] See _Life of Mahomet_, p. 486.

[351] The dole was fixed, after a trial of what was sufficient as a
monthly ration, for the support of sixty poor persons. Two jarîbs of
grain, accordingly, was the portion appointed, as a minimum, to which
every indigent believer of whatever race was entitled.

[352] The jealous susceptibilities of the rival tribes were continually
breaking forth; as for example, in the election of a Muedzzin in place
of the one killed at Câdesîya to proclaim the times of prayer to the
army, on which a free fight arose that nearly ended in bloodshed.

[353] Belâdzori, p. 458.

[354] Omar gave out that if the revenues sufficiently increased, he
intended to advance the stipend of every man in the upper grades
to 4,000 dirhems. It is said also that he contemplated the issue
of a sumptuary ordinance both for Syria and Irâc, by which 1,000
dirhems were to be considered the allowance for the support of the
stipendiary’s family, 1,000 for his personal expenses, 1,000 for house
and furnishings, and the remainder for hospitable entertainment; but
that he died before he could issue the order. The object of such a
rule, and the practicability of giving effect to it, are however

[355] See _Life of Mahomet_, p. 555; and _The Corân: its Composition
and Teaching_, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

[356] This is the received derivation of the era called the _Year of
Ashes_. Others call it so because the land was pulverised, dark and
dusty, without a blade of grass or of any green thing.

[357] The secretary of Wâckidy has several pages filled with traditions
about Omar’s treatment of the famine, and self-denying solicitude for
his people. He refused to ride a horse during the famine because it
consumed corn. He chided his son for eating a cucumber, when men around
were dying of hunger, and so forth. There may be much of exaggeration;
but at the bottom of it all lies a fine trait in Omar’s character.

[358] Ayla, on the Gulf of Acaba, at the head of the Red Sea.

[359] Here again the Kâtib Wâckidy gives a great array of traditions
regarding Omar’s prayers and the service for rain. Some of these which
notice the part taken by Abbâs (but they are comparatively few in
number) have been eagerly seized by the Abbasside annalists to glorify
the patriarch, and through him the dynasty descended from him. The tale
is cast in the supernatural type of the Prophet’s life. A man finding
a sheep which he had slaughtered to be nothing but mere skin and bone
without a drop of blood, in his distress invokes Mahomet, who thereupon
appears to him in a vision, assures him that he shares the distress
of his people, and bids him tell Omar ‘to call to mind that which he
had forgotten.’ A general assembly is summoned in the Great Mosque,
and after much heart-searching as to what the Prophet meant by these
words, they betake themselves to prayer. Omar seizes the hand of Abbâs,
and for the sake of the Prophet’s aged kinsman, beseeches the mercy of
Heaven. Then Abbâs himself prays, and the people weep floods of tears.
The heavens are suddenly overcast, and the rain descends. Thereupon
Abbâs is saluted as ‘the Waterer of the two Holy Places,’ i.e. of Mecca
and Medîna.

[360] We are told that Amru, to meet the famine, established a shipping
service _between Egypt_ and the ports of the Hejâz, that the trade
in grain thus begun was permanently established, and that prices were
thereafter little higher at Medîna than in Egypt. But Egypt was not
conquered till two years later; and in the hostile state of the border
preceding the conquest, it is impossible that a peaceful trade in corn
could have sprung up. We must therefore conclude that tradition here
anticipates that which occurred shortly after, when Omar reopened the
communication from the Nile to Lake Timsa and Suez, and Egypt found a
rich customer in the markets of Medîna and the Hejâz.

[361] The council was held at Sargh, near Tebûk, on the confines
of Syria. During the discussion Abd al Rahmân quoted a saying of
Mahomet:--‘If pestilence break out in a land, go not thither; if thou
art there, flee not from it.’ Omar’s views were more reasonable, and
he justified them by this illustration: ‘Suppose that ye alight in a
valley, whereof one side is green with pasture, and the other bare and
barren, whichever side ye let loose your camels upon, it would be by
the decree of God; but ye would choose the brow that was green.’ And so
he judged that in removing the people from the scene of danger into a
healthier locality, he was making no attempt to flee from the decree of

[362] He purposed to make a circuit of all the provinces subject to
his sway. Aly, we are told, even recommended a second _hijra_, or
transfer of the Caliph’s court to Kûfa (evidently a proleptic tradition
anticipatory of the move eventually made by Aly himself to that
capital). What induced Omar to give up the project of visiting Irâc is
not very clear. The ordinary story is that Káb the Rabbin (a Jew from
Himyar, converted about this time, who will be noticed more hereafter)
dissuaded him from it: ‘Of evil,’ he said, ‘the East hath nine parts,
and of good but one; while the dwellings of Satan and every kind of
plague are there. On the contrary, the West hath nine parts good, and
but one of evil.’ Thereupon, the tradition proceeds, Omar abandoned the
idea of visiting Irâc.

[363] _Before_, having the double meaning of ‘he is before you,’
that is, in your presence; or (as they took it) ‘in advance of you,’
and farther on the road.

[364] Shorahbîl, who had the command of the province of the Jordan
(Ordonna), was put aside as weak and unfitted for the office; or rather
his government was apparently placed under that of Amru, who was in
command of all the Holy Land. The appointment of Muâvia as the brother
of Yezîd, the late governor of Damascus, was in every way natural and

[365] For Bilâl and his office of Muedzzin, see _Life of Mahomet_,
p. 204.

[366] The male population alone, we are told, numbered 600,000. There
were 70,000 (according to others 40,000) male Jews of an age to pay the
poll tax, and 200,000 Greeks, of whom 30,000 effected their escape by
sea before the siege. The baths were 4,000 in number, the theatres 400,
and the harbour held 12,000 vessels of various size.

[367] The narrative is almost more fugitive, and the chronology less
certain, than in the case of Syria. The expedition is variously placed
at from A.H. XVI. to XXV. The earlier date is due probably to
the notion (before explained) that Amru assisted Medîna with corn in
the year of famine; the later date, to the attempt of the Greeks to
retake Alexandria, A.H. 25. The best authenticated date is
that which I have followed. The received account is this. Amru obtained
permission for the campaign from Omar at Jâbia, probably on his last
visit to Syria. When the Caliph returned to Medîna and reflected on the
seriousness of the enterprise, he repented of having allowed Amru to go
on with so small a force, and sent orders that if he had not already
entered Egypt, he was to return. Warned probably of its purport, Amru
did not open the packet till he had crossed the boundary; and so he
went forward. When Omar was informed of this he sent Zobeir with 12,000
men to reinforce him. Other accounts say that Amru’s entire force
consisted of 12,000 men, despatched from Palestine and Medîna, in
three bodies, one after another. Some stories are told, but they look
apocryphal, of Amru having visited Alexandria, before his conversion,
many years previously.

[368] For the communications of this Mucoucus with Mahomet see _Life_,
pp. 385 and 440.

[369] Memphis, in the vicinity of modern Cairo. The advance was
probably made by Salahiya up the Pelusian branch of the Nile, to the
north of Ismailia and Wolseley’s recent line of march.

[370] Later historians (whose accounts, however, bear the mark of being
apocryphal) represent the Moslem army as at one time in considerable
peril, surrounded and hemmed in at Heliopolis by the rising waters of
the Nile. Mucoucus having retired to an island on the farther side of
the Nile, broke up the bridge across it. Deputations were then sent by
boat to and fro; and the Mussulman envoys delivered speeches before
Mucoucus, exhorting and threatening the governor, much in the style
of those recited at the Persian Court before the battle of Câdesîya.
Mucoucus, who is represented as favourable to Islam, at last entered
into terms with the invaders.

[371] Heraclius died in February, A.D. 641.

[372] The tale of Amru being taken prisoner in an attack on the
outworks is not mentioned by any early authority, and seems to possess
no foundation. The story is, that when carried before the authorities,
his freedman, who had been captured with him, slapped Amru on the face,
and so deceived the Greeks into the belief that he was a common soldier
who might be set at liberty.

[373] Here again we see the same nervous fear on the part of Omar, lest
his soldiers, wandering too far, or beyond some great river, should be
surprised and cut off, as led him at the first to forbid an advance on
Persia. Ghîzeh, properly Jîzeh, j in Egypt being pronounced as hard g.

[374] This name _Câhira_, or City of the Victory, is of later date.

[375] There is here, as in respect of other countries, a great
profusion and variety of tradition, having for its object to prove that
Egypt was taken by force of arms, and could therefore be treated as a
conquered country; rather than that it capitulated, and was the subject
of treaty and stipulations. There was always a strong pressure to prove
the former, as it gave the invaders a better standing in courts of law
as against the natives, in such claims as that pressed by Zobeir.

[376] The ancient canal appears to have followed very closely the
line of the Fresh-water Canal of the present day. We are not favoured
with many particulars; but there is no doubt that during Omar’s
reign vessels did make the voyage from Cairo to the coast of Arabia,
establishing thus a regular traffic between the two countries; and
therefore the work must have been very quickly finished by the forced
labour of the teeming population.

The reader who is curious about the previous attempts to unite the
Nile with the Red Sea will find the subject discussed by Weil (vol.
i. pp. 120–122). The attempt was made so far back as the time of
Pharaoh Nechos, and subsequently by Darius, who is said to have made
communication practicable from Bubastis, on the eastern or Tanitic
estuary of the Nile, to the head of the Red Sea. A second canal was
opened, under the Ptolemies at Phacusa (Tel Fakhûs), nearer to the
Mediterranean. This (taking apparently the line of the Salahiya canal)
must have presented greater difficulties in maintaining communication
through the system of lagoons leading to the Red Sea, and so it was
too shallow to be of much use, excepting in high flood. One of these
lines (the former most probably) was eventually deepened by Trajan, and
remained navigable to the end at least of the third century of our era.
It was this canal, no doubt, which was now cleared out and deepened by
Amru. Reference is made by Weil to the following authorities: Bähr’s
_Herodotus_, vol. ii. p. 158; _Revue des Deux Mondes_, vol.
xxvii. p. 215.

[377] This tale (which is not given by our earliest authorities) is,
no doubt, based upon a custom of the Egyptians, who, as we learn from
Lane, cast, year by year, the effigy of a maiden, decked in bridal
attire, into the river, calling it ‘the Bride of the Nile.’ But whether
the tale be real or fictitious, the sentiment conveyed in it is
indicative of that virtue in the Moslem faith which carries the special
providence of God into the life of every day.

[378] Amru is said to have been so pleased with Barca as to declare
that if he had not possessed a property and home in the Hejâz, he would
have settled there.

[379] The circumstances of the siege (a strange contrast to the
bombardment, which recently crowded the horrors of months into so many
hours) are narrated with the utmost brevity; and indeed tradition very
much confuses the second siege with the first. Eutychius speaks of the
investment of the city by the Arabs lasting fourteen months. He also
tells us that George the Patriarch fled to Constantinople, and that
for ninety-seven years there was no Melchite patriarch for Egypt. A
Maronite patriarch seems to have succeeded.

I should mention that by later and less reliable authorities a long
correspondence is given as having passed between Amru and Omar, in
which the latter upbraids his lieutenant for not remitting ‘as large
a revenue as that which Egypt yielded to the Pharaohs.’ Amru resented
the imputation; whereupon Omar sent his legate, Mohammed ibn Maslama,
to set on foot an investigation into the revenues of the country; and
also superseded Amru in the government of Upper Egypt by Abdallah Ibn
Abu Sarh. The correspondence (though accepted by Weil) appears to me
altogether apocryphal. It was contrary to Omar’s character to write
in the harsh and unreasonable tone of these letters, or to press
his governors for funds at the expense of the provinces which they
administered. Nor did he stand in any urgent need of the additional
revenue, as these letters would imply; for the treasures of the world
were flowing at this time in a full tide into Medîna. As to Ibn Abu
Sarh, he did not supersede Amru till the reign of his foster-brother

[380] The earlier operations of Otba have been narrated above, p. 91.

[381] The ancient capital of Khuzistan, where extensive ruins and
colonnades still mark the extent and magnificence of this once regal
city. Weil doubts whether the expedition reached so far as Persepolis.
But I can only follow our authorities, who certainly represent Alâ as
advancing to its vicinity.--Weil, vol. ii. p. 87.

[382] Omar, as we shall see farther on, had an unconquerable dread of
committing his troops to the sea.

[383] Otba died the same year, A.H. 17; and Moghîra succeeded
him, as related above (somewhat prematurely), p. 91.

[384] One of the three brothers who defended Medîna in the attack on
Abu Bekr--_supra_, p. 14.

[385] Tostar, otherwise named Shuster.

[386] These conquests are variously placed by different traditions in
A.H. XVII., XIX. and even XX. They immediately preceded the
great campaign of Khorasan.

[387] Shushan, the ancient capital of Media, now called Sûs. Loftus
gives an interesting history and description of Sûs, with a picture of
the tomb of Daniel. (_Travels in Chaldæa and Susiana_, 1857, p.
322.) Our authorities say that Omar gave orders for _the body_ of
Daniel, which (as the legend goes) was still exposed to view, being
honourably interred.

Mr. Baring, Secretary of the Teheran Legation, visited the spot in
1881, and found it much altered. The conical steeple, shown in Loftus’
picture, was removed, when three or four years ago the tomb was
rebuilt; and it was then surrounded by a gallery with a railing of
brass and woodwork overlooking the river.

[388] Two thousand dirhems, the same as was given to warriors of
Câdesîya and the Yermûk. And stipends of like amount were granted to
the Persian nobles who had recently joined the Moslem army in Khuzistan.

[389] It is remarkable that one of the arguments said to have been
used, even on this late occasion, was that if the Caliph quitted Medîna
there would be a risk of the Arab tribes of the Peninsula again rising
up in apostasy and rebellion.

[390] The spies were the famous Amr ibn Mádekerib (the warrior-poet
met with before) and Toleiha. The latter (the quondam prophet of the
Beni Asad) was long in returning from his scouting expedition--so much
so that the army, becoming anxious, began to speak among themselves:
‘What if Toleiha hath apostatised the second time!’ When he made his
appearance, therefore, there was a shout of joy. Toleiha, hearing of
it, was much hurt at the imputation. ‘Even had it been the old Arab
faith,’ he said, ‘which I once professed much more this blessed faith
of Islam, I should have disdained to change it for the jargon of these

[391] The battle was fought at Bowaj Rûd. Nóeim demolished the
fortifications of Rei, and laid the foundations of a new city. The
ruins of Rei, some five or six miles south-east of Teheran, are still
to be seen of considerable extent. See Porter’s _Travels in Georgia
and Persia_.

[392] The Zoroastrians must still have been numerous, especially in
the outlying provinces, even in the Abbasside reigns. The social
and political inducements brought to bear on them, and to induce
a profession of Islam that was at first but superficial, are well
brought out in ‘The Apology of Al Kindy’ (Smith and Elder, 1882). See
especially the speech of Al Mâmûn, pp. xii. and 33.

[393] It is difficult to account for the origin of so strange a tale.
It illustrates the heterogeneous materials of which our authorities are
still composed.

[394] Ascalon is stated to have fallen as late as A.H. XXIII.,
i.e. A.D. 643. If so, it must have held out so long only in
virtue of its maritime position. But we have no details.

[395] Omar presided every year, excepting the first of his Caliphate,
when the struggle with the Byzantine and Persian empires was at its
height. He is also said to have thrice visited Mecca for the Omra, or
Lesser Pilgrimage. (_Life of Mahomet_, p. xii.)

[396] The superstition attributing the cessation of the volcano to an
extraordinary dole of alms is not worse than that which seeks to check
the devastations of Vesuvius by the liquefaction of the blood of St.
Januarius in the cathedral of Naples.

[397] Omar consulted Amru on the subject, who was of the same mind, and

    Dûd ála ûd
    Fa in yaksar al ’ûd
    Halak al dûd.

‘An insect floating on a splinter; if the splinter break, the insect
perisheth;’ signifying thereby the risks of the mariner.

[398] Otba came on a pilgrimage to Mecca, and there besought Omar to
allow him to resign his government. Omar refused, and as Otba died on
his way back, the Caliph was much distressed. He visited his tomb to
pray over it, and said that he would have reproached himself as the
cause of his death--‘had it not been already written in the decrees of
the Lord.’

[399] We have met Moghîra in the lifetime of the Prophet. First at
Hodeibia, where the murder was cast in his teeth by his uncle, and
subsequently at the demolition of the great idol of Tâyif, &c. (_Life
of Mahomet_, pp. 370, 467.) He was red-haired, one-eyed, obese and
repulsive in appearance, but insinuating in manner and speech. One of
his eighty concubines, when his ill looks were mentioned, said, ‘Yes,
he is a sweet conserve but on a beggarly dish.’

The aged princess whom he demanded in marriage on the fall of Hîra, was
Hind, daughter of Nómân V. Some threescore years before she had been
married to Adi, who, when tutor to her father, had caught a glimpse of
her in the church at Hîra. Adi was executed for some offence by the
Chosroes, and Hind then retired into a convent near Hîra, called, after
her, Dâira Hind. See the strange story of Moghîra’s coarse conduct
towards her as related by M. Caussin de Perceval, vol. ii. p. 150; and
_Life of Mahomet_ (1st edition), vol. i. pp. clxxix. _et seq._

For the law of evidence on the charge of adultery, see _Life of
Mahomet_, p. 313. The whole story is significant as manifesting the
deterioration of Arab life from the ancient spirit and customs, which,
amongst the Bedouins, admitted of social intercourse between the sexes
without such scandals. The lady’s name was Omm Jamîl, of the Beni Aámir
ibn Sassâá, and is said by Tabari to have been a widow. ‘This lady used
openly to visit Moghîra and other chief men of Bussora, a custom common
amongst some of the ladies of that time.’ But the old Arab chivalry
towards the sex was rapidly disappearing under the system which raised
the slave-girl giving issue to her lord to the position of _Omm
Walad_, or freed-wife, and her children to the same legitimacy
as the children of the noble-born. This, coupled with the laxity of
divorce and re-marriage, was speedily lowering the position of the sex,
and rendered the strict use of ‘the Veil’ an absolute necessity for the
decent observances of social life; and gradually, but surely, bringing
about the wretched condition of women, together with the seclusion of
the harem, as we now find it in Moslem lands.

[400] In the action of Autâs following the field of Honein, his uncle,
who commanded, was slain; and Abu Mûsa took up the banner and routed
the enemy. He had more physical than moral courage, as we shall see at
the great Arbitration.

[401] It is not said that he punished the calumniator. What was the
fault of the girl which led to her imprisonment is not clear. Possibly
there was some scandal of undue influence over Abu Mûsa, to whom some
say she was given as a bribe by his predecessor Moghîra. As regards the
gift to the poet, Weil remarks that for a smaller offence of the same
kind, Khâlid was deposed with ignominy--which is true. This is the same
Ziâd of whom we have heard before, as the putative son of Abu Sofiân,
destined hereafter to assume a prominent position.

[402] Above, p. 166.

[403] See _Life of Mahomet_, p. 72. He was one of the friendless
converts whose freedom Abu Bekr purchased, and thus saved him from the
persecution of the Coreish.

[404] The manner in which Moghîra got hold of the secret is
characteristic of his artfulness. He perceived Jobeir in close
conference with the Caliph. Now Omar had apprised Jobeir of his
intention to appoint him Governor of Kûfa; but bade him, for the
present, to keep the matter secret. Moghîra, suspecting the truth,
sent one of his wives with a present of viands to Jobeir’s wife, who,
caught in the trap, accepted the congratulatory gift. Moghîra, thus
assured that his suspicions were well founded, hurried off to Omar,
and representing that he had got hold of a weak fellow, who could not
even keep the secret of his nomination for a day, got the appointment
(as in the text) for himself. Some say that Omar afterwards intended
to reappoint Sád (who seems to have been removed on very inadequate
grounds) to Kûfa, but that he died before he could give effect to the

[405] Sura xxviii. 4.

[406] See _Life of Mahomet_, p. 64. His height only equalled that
of an ordinary man seated.

[407] An extraordinary grant of one hundred dirhems was made to each.
The civil list and pensions were settled by Omar in his _Dewân_;
but the means of paying the allowances was by local assignments; so
that each city was dependent on its endowment, from which all the
expenditure of administration had to be met.

[408] According to some authorities, however, neither Abu Bekr nor Omar
appointed any Câdhy to Kûfa or Bussorah.

[409] The calculation was already by strictly lunar notation of months,
according to the Arab calendar; for that had been fixed by a Divine
ordinance at the Farewell Pilgrimage. (_Life of Mahomet_, p.
486.) But the commencement of the era, and numbering of the years, was
introduced only now. Note that the _i_ is short in Hegira.

[410] See _Life of Mahomet_, p. 349.

[411] Take, for example, two lines with the play on the name
_Leila_, or night--

    I thought of Leila, but the heavens are between us;
    Neither is her night (Leila) mine; nor my night hers.

[412] Many stories are told of Omar’s stern punishment of
wine-drinkers. The house of one who surreptitiously trafficked in
spirits, he caused to be burned over his head. Another culprit,
expelled for drinking, escaped to the Byzantine territory and

[413] See _The Corân: its Teaching and Precepts_, p. 61.

[414] For a description of the shameless demoralisation that prevailed,
especially among the youth of Damascus and Baghdad, I must refer to the
learned and elaborate work of H. von Kremer, _Culturgeschichte des
Orients unter dem Chalifen_.

[415] One of the wives was a captive maiden from Yemen, who, having, as
his bond-maid, borne him a son and daughter, became, _ipso facto_,
free. No mention is made of other slave-girls in his harem; but this
affords no presumption that he did not consort with such; for no
account is made of servile concubines, and they are rarely or never
mentioned, unless they chanced to bear offspring.

It was his daughter from whom the tradition is derived that he had no
special weakness for the sex, and married chiefly for the sake of issue.

[416] In the tradition both the maidens are spoken of as Omm Kolthûm;
but that must have been by anticipation, since they were so called as
having sons of that name.

[417] On one occasion Hind repaired to Syria and warned Muâvia against
giving money to his father, Abu Sofiân, who was in need, lest he should
incur the reproach of Omar and the people; and Muâvia accordingly sent
him away with only one hundred dinars. But tradition, through Abbasside
channels, begins now to take so strong and bitter a tinge of hatred
against the Omeyyad family, that tales regarding it must be received
with caution.

[418] By some authorities he was now sixty-three; but this was a
favourite age with traditionists, being that at which the Prophet died
(_supra_, p. 119). He was born before the ‘Sacrilegious War,’
which lasted ten years, A.D. 580–590 (_Life of Mahomet_,
p. 14); but his birth was probably at the end of the last great battle,
which terminated that war. This would make him twenty-six at his
conversion, and fifty-five at his death. If born at the commencement of
the war, he would now be ten years older. The true date may lie between
the two extremes; and it is not unlikely that he was near sixty years
of age at his death.

[419] Moghîra, when recently appointed to Kûfa, may have left him at
Medîna; or, more likely, he may have accompanied his master from Kûfa
to the Hejâz, it being the season of pilgrimage when the governors
presented themselves.

[420] The following story is told even by the earliest
authorities:--Káb (the converted Jewish doctor, of whom mention has
been made already) came to the Caliph and said, ‘Omar, thou hast but
three days to live.’ ‘Strange,’ said Omar, ‘for I feel quite well
and strong.’ ‘Nevertheless,’ continued Káb, ‘thus and thus I find it
foretold in the Towrât.’ Next day he came again, and told Omar he had
but two days left. After he was struck down, Káb came to visit him,
and Omar said, on this occasion, to those about him,--‘Káb spake the
truth,’ adding this couplet--

    Káb warned me that in three days I should die; in the prophecy of
      Káb there is no doubt;
    I fear not death; and verily I am dying; but the fear of the wolf
      followeth in its wake.

For _wolf_ (zeib) some read _sin_ (zanb). It is difficult to
say what can have given rise to this strange tradition. Possibly Káb,
seeing the sullen and threatening attitude of Abu Lulû, may have warned
him accordingly.

[421] It is possible that Abd al Rahmân’s subsequent renunciation of
the Caliphate in the coming conclave may have led to the tradition
of this supposed conversation with Omar; but I give the tradition as
I find it; and the facts as stated in the text are not in themselves

[422] The selection of Soheib was, no doubt, made advisedly. It will
be remembered that Mahomet is thought to have, in a manner, pointed
out Abu Bekr as his successor by nominating him, when he was himself
laid aside, to preside at the public prayers. Soheib had, of course, no
pretensions to the office. He had been a slave at Mecca, but was much
revered because of his early conversion (_Life of Mahomet_, p.
72). So his appointment on this occasion was very suitable.

[423] A stalwart warrior. Mahomet used to say that in the field, the
voice of Abu Talha was better than a thousand men. At Honein he slew
twenty of the enemy with his own hand.

[424] Some traditions omit the words ‘Jews and Christians,’ giving thus
to the sentence a general bearing; but the mention of _covenant_
or _treaties_ would seem to imply that tribes or people were meant
other than Mahometans; and the best supported traditions are as in the

[425] Backî al Gharcad

[426] There is the tradition of a long conversation between Ibn Abbâs
and Omar, in which the former pressed the _right_ of his family
to the Caliphate; and Omar answered, attributing the claim to envy.
The whole is a mere Abbasside invention; for neither Aly nor Abbâs,
nor any one of the house of Hâshim, seems even to have dreamed of any
such pretension till after the dissensions which broke out after Omar’s
death. _Fâtima_ was the only discontented person, and that, as we
have seen, was about the property left by the Prophet withheld from her
by Abu Bekr, not about any claim to the Caliphate.

[427] As in the Oriental style, the bed, or matting, was spread upon
the ground, Abdallah had but to raise his father’s head and remove it
outside the pillow; so placing it on the ground, and afterwards raising
it upon his lap.

[428] Some traditions give the date of his death three days later, i.e.
on the last day of Dzul Hijj. This, no doubt, arises from that having
been the date on which the new Caliph was chosen, and Omar’s reign
is conventionally spoken of as also lasting up to that day--the last
day of the year A.H. 23. There is another tradition that he
was wounded on Wednesday, 23rd of Dzul Hijj, and buried on the Sunday
following, i.e. on the 27th.

[429] Bilâl used to say that the only way to soothe Omar, when in a
rage, was to recite in his hearing passages from the Corân, which
invariably assuaged his wrath. This may, perhaps, have reference to the
period of his conversion, when having struck his sister, and made blood
to flow, he was moved to repentance by the reading of a Sura. (See
_Life of Mahomet_, p. 96.)

[430] Such were Abd al Rahmân, Zobeir, Othmân, Aly, and Talha. The
tradition as given by the Secretary of Wackîdy (fol. 235) may also mean
that he was unwilling to sully their name by subjecting them to the
sordid surroundings and associations of provincial government.

[431] Thus, for example, while journeying in Arabia in the year of
famine, he came upon a poor woman, seated, with her hungry and weeping
children, round a fire, whereon was an empty pot. Omar ran on to the
next village, procured bread and meat, filled the pot, and cooked an
ample meal; leaving the little ones laughing and at play.

[432] When some one proposed his son Abdallah, Omar was angry and
declared that the government had been long enough in his family.
‘Besides’ (alluding apparently to some scandal in his domestic life)
‘how could I appoint a man who was so weak as not to divorce his wife?’
They say, also, that Omar once praised Sâlim, the freedman of Hodzeifa,
slain at Yemâma, as one who would have been fit for the Caliphate--‘a
man beloved of the Prophet, and a lover of the Lord.’ But this could
only have been as a mere figure of speech.

[433] Others say that the conclave was held in the house of Miswar,
a citizen of Medîna; and that there Abd al Rahmân spent the last
decisive night in separate conference with Aly and then with Othmân.
For Micdâd, see _Life of Mahomet_, p. 239. Moghîra and Amru are
characteristically said to have sat at the door of the house to make
it appear as if they, too, had had a hand in the election. Amru had
probably come to Medîna with the other governors on pilgrimage.

[434] For the two rival families see _Life of Mahomet_, pp. xx.
and xxviii. The Electors were, in reality, selected very evenly.
Zobeir was cousin to Aly both on the father’s side and the mother’s.
Sád and Abd al Rahmân belonged to the Beni Zohra, a distant branch of
Coreishite descent. Sád, however, was likewise the nephew of Mahomet’s
mother, Amina. Some say that he voted for Othmân; others that, being
pressed by Aly, he went over to his side. Talha was of the Beni Taym,
the clan of Abu Bekr. The impartiality of Abd al Rahmân is impugned
by the partisans of Aly, as being the brother-in-law of Othmân, whose
uterine sister he married; and this probably was the relationship
hinted at by Aly in his appeal to Abd al Rahmân.

We are getting now into the full flood of Abbasside tradition, which
becomes entirely partisan and untrustworthy, with the view of exalting
the claims of the Prophet’s family and defaming the Omeyyads. Of this
class of traditions is the following:--Aly complained to Abbâs that
he was sure to be outvoted in the conclave because Sád would go with
his kinsman Abd al Rahmân, and vote for Othmân, brother-in-law of the
latter; and that then, the votes being equally divided, Abd al Rahmân
would have the casting-vote. On this Abbâs reproached Aly for having
neglected the advice, given by him now and on former occasions, to
claim the Caliphate _as his right_, and to have nothing to do
with electors or arbitration. He had told him years before to demand
the Caliphate from Mahomet, and he had neglected to do so. ‘And now,’
said Abbâs, ‘the Caliphate will leave our family for ever.’ All this is
patent fabrication.

[435] The Beni Makhzûm was a powerful branch of the Coreish, but far
removed by descent from the clan of Hâshim, and having little sympathy
with it. It was Khâlid’s tribe. To understand the taunts here bandied,
it must be remembered that Abu Sarh (his proper name is Abdallah Ibn
Abu Sarh) was the foster-brother of Othmân, and bore a bad repute (as
we shall see below) as having deceived Mahomet, and been proscribed
at the capture of Mecca. Ammâr (as has been stated before) was son of
a bond-woman called Sommeyya. See on the tradition of her martyrdom,
_Life of Mahomet_ (1st ed.), vol. ii. p. 126.

[436] The inaugural address was delivered on the 3rd Moharram or Nov.
10, the interval between the election and speech at installation being
presumably taken up in receiving the oath of allegiance from all
present at Medîna.

[437] Quoted from the Corân, Sura xii. v. 19.

[438] His attitude in discharging the invidious task was that of a
loyal and unselfish patriot. He disclaimed the Caliphate for himself.
Night and day engaged unceasingly in canvassing the sentiments of the
leading chiefs, he did his best to compose the antagonistic claims of
the selfish Electors. What was the immediate cause of his action when
in the Mosque he nominated Othmân, it is not possible to say. Abbasside
traditions assume that the cause was the conscientious scruples of Aly
in hesitating to swear that he would follow strictly the precedents of
Abu Bekr and of Omar in his conduct of the Caliphate. The Corân and the
precedent of Mahomet he would implicitly obey, but the precedent of
the first Caliphs only so far as he agreed in the same. In the tenor
of the traditions relating how Abd al Rahmân first questioned Aly and
then Othmân, and in their replies, I hardly find sufficient ground for
this assumption; and it looks very much of a piece with the Abbasside
fabrications of the day. One tradition ascribes the hesitancy of Aly to
the cunning counsel of Amru, who, beforehand, advised him not to give a
direct reply, lest Abd al Rahmân should think him too grasping; while
he advised Othmân to answer unconditionally--as if Aly were so simple
as to have been caught by such transparent guile.

[439] Aly, however, maintained his view, and sought, when he became
Caliph, to give practical effect to it. He searched for Obeidallah,
and would, we are told, have put him to death. But Obeidallah made his
escape to Syria, where he was safe under the rule of Muâvia.

[440] From this point begin the rough waters of the great cataclysm.
Tradition becomes deeply affected by faction, especially the envenomed
shafts of the party of Aly and the Abbassides, under cover of which
they built up their pretensions, and, in the end, succeeded in
supplanting the Omeyyad dynasty. The evidence, therefore, must be
received with caution as we go along.

[441] Kabul is said to have been first attacked A.H. 24. The
early Moslems seem to have been as unfortunate (perhaps as unwise) as
ourselves in their expeditions against Afghanistan, where they met with
many sad reverses.

[442] Ascalon is said to have been reduced (apparently for the first
time) just before Omar’s death, _A.H._ 23; but the delay was
purely owing to its maritime position. This excepted, Syria had for
some years been under the firm yoke of Islam.

[443] For his full name (Abdallah ibn Sád ibn Abu Sarh), see note at p.
290; but it may conveniently be abbreviated into Abu Sarh.

[444] Party spirit has, no doubt, been freely used to magnify the
offence of Abu Sarh. He is supposed to be the person alluded to in
Sura vi. 94:--‘Who is more wicked than he who saith, I will produce a
Revelation, like unto that which the Lord hath sent down?’ Vide Sale’s
note _in loco_. The circumstances as quoted there are altogether
apocryphal. He must, however, have deceived, if not betrayed, Mahomet,
in some very marked way, to have led to his proscription on the capture
of Mecca--an occasion on which the Prophet treated the inhabitants,
with but few exceptions, with mercy and even generosity. See
_Life_, p. 425. We have seen above (p. 248) that Omar is said by
some to have been dissatisfied with Amru’s administration in Egypt--so
much so, as to have superseded him partially by appointing Abu Sarh
to the command in Upper Egypt. The evidence of Omar’s disapproval of
Amru is imperfect, but there is no doubt that he appointed Abu Sarh
to Egypt, and that Othmân on his accession found him already in power

[445] This is all we are told by Ibn al Athîr. But there is elsewhere
a not unlikely tradition that the unhappy maiden, tearing herself from
her captor’s embrace, leapt from the camel, and found in death an
escape from her humiliation. This campaign furnishes plentiful material
for many still wilder stories in the romances of the pseudo-Wâckidy and
later writers.

[446] According to some authorities, Othmân presented the royal share
of the booty as a free gift to Merwân, and they add that this was one
of the grounds of Othmân’s impeachment. But it reads like a party

[447] Coming there in disguise, he was recognised by a woman, who
gave the alarm, and the natives rushed upon the boat. Asked how
she recognised the Saracen captain, this woman said, ‘He came as a
merchantman; but when I asked an alms of him, he gave as a prince
giveth; so I knew it was the captain of the Saracens.’

The payment of _jazia_, or poll-tax, implied the corresponding
claim of protection. _Zimmy_ signifies one who, so assessed,
becomes part and parcel of the Moslem empire, and as such entitled to
its guardianship. The Cypriots were not expected, from their position,
to take any active part on the Moslem side; but they were bound to give
their new masters warning of any hostile expedition, and generally to
facilitate their naval operations.

As the great crowd of prisoners were being shipped, one of the Moslem
warriors wept; for, said he, ‘those captives will lead the hearts of
their masters astray’--one of the few occasions on which we see a faint
perception of the evils of female slavery to the conquerors themselves;
for that I take to be the meaning.

[448] According to Theophanes, it was Constans II., grandson of
Heraclius, who perished thus for his crimes, but at a later date. See
Gibbon, ch. xlviii.

[449] Some authorities make the discontent to arise in consequence of
the failure of Abu Sarh to follow up the victory, and give chase to the
retiring enemy.

[450] See _Life of Mahomet_, p. 235.

[451] Abbasside tales are multiplied against the unfortunate Welîd.
He consorted with the poet Abu Zobeid, a converted Christian of the
Beni Taghlib, and was suspected of drinking wine in company with him.
Another complaint was, that a conjuring Jew from Baghdad having been
condemned in Ibn Masûd’s court for witchcraft, Jondob, one of the
factious leaders, killed him with his own hand instead of waiting the
regular course of execution; for which unlawful act Welîd imprisoned
Jondob, to the great discontent of the people. Hostile tradition, by
deep colouring, has improved on these tales, representing Welîd as
a brutal sot and sacrilegist. _E.g._ by his command, the Jew
performed works of magic in the sacred precincts of the Great Mosque,
assumed by sorcery the form of various animals, cut off a man’s
head, and then putting it on, brought him to life again, &c. Jondob,
scandalised at his devilish tricks, proceeded to cut off the Jew’s
head, saying, ‘If thou canst do miracles, then bring thyself to life
again.’ Upon this Welîd imprisoned Jondob, and would have put him to
death had he not, by the connivance of the jailor, escaped. These tales
are given by Masûdi and later writers, whose tendency to vilify Welîd
by the most extravagant fiction, is manifest.

Of the same complexion are the traditions which represent the citizens
of Medîna as in such bodily fear of Othmân that no one dared to carry
out the sentence of scourging against Welîd; so that Aly, at last,
stepped forward, and himself inflicted the stripes. Others say that Aly
ordered his son, Hasan, to do so; but he refused, saying, ‘The lord of
the _hot_ is lord also of the _cold_’ (_i.e._ the sweets
and the bitter of office must go together), and that then Aly compelled
a grandson of Abu Tâlib (Mahomet’s uncle) to carry out the sentence.

[452] His name was Abdallah, but to distinguish him from the multitude
of that name, he is always called Ibn Aámir.

[453] The youth, however, was not satisfied with this pair of wives;
for he left twenty sons, and as many daughters, behind him. He was
nephew of that Khâlid ibn Saîd who opened the Syrian campaign so

[454] On the text of the Corân, and the history of this recension,
see the Excursus on the ‘Sources for the Biography of Mahomet,’ in
the _Life of Mahomet_. The manner in which the Abbasside faction
perverted the facts and turned the charge to malignant purpose against
the Omeyyad house, will be understood from the section on the Corân in
the _Apology of Al Kindy_ (Smith and Elder, 1882), pp. 25 _et
seq._ The charge against Al Hajjâj of having altered the text is
equally groundless. See _Ibid._ p. xi.

[455] The precise nature of the arrangement, as stated by Ibn al Athîr,
is not very clear, but its general character seems to have been as
given the text.

[456] Masûdy, an unprejudiced witness, dwells on this as one of the
causes of demoralisation and disloyalty now setting in so rapidly, and
he gives some remarkable instances. _Zobeir_ had 1,000 slaves,
male and female, and 1,000 horses. At all the great cities he had
palaces, and the one at Bussorah was still to be seen in the fourth
century. His landed estate in Irâc was rated at 1,000 golden pieces
a day. _Abd al Rahmân_ had 1,000 camels, 10,000 sheep, and 100
horses, and he left property valued at between three and four hundred
thousand dinars. _Zeid_ left gold and silver in great ingots, and
had land valued at 10,000 dinars.

The Coreishite nobles built themselves grand palaces in Mecca and
Medîna, and in their environs such as Jorf and Ackîck. Othmân himself
had a splendid palace at Medîna, with marble pillars, walls of costly
stucco, grand gates and gardens; he is also said to have amassed vast
treasures, though we are not told what came of them after his overthrow.

Masûdy contrasts painfully all this luxury at home and abroad with
the frugal severity that prevailed even in the Caliphate of Omar, who
grudged to spend sixteen dinars on the pilgrimage to Mecca.

[457] Quoting from the Corân (Sura ix. 36), where these words are
applied to Christian priests and monks; but Abu Dzarr gives them here
a more general application. See _Life of Mahomet_, p. 470; and
Sprenger’s _Leben des Mohammeds_, vol. ii. p. cvi.

[458] Attempts are made by Abbasside tradition to show that Abu Dzarr
was driven into opposition by the tyranny of Muâvia’s rule in Syria,
and by divers ungodly practices at Medîna, which he denounced as
certain to bring down judgment on the city. But Ibn al Athîr justly
doubts this, and distinctly says that his preaching tended to excite
the poor against the rich. Abu Dzarr’s doctrines were based on the
equality of all believers; and the danger lay in their popularity with
the socialistic faction which decried the pretensions of the Coreish.
Before Muâvia, he reasoned thus: ‘_Riches_, ye say, _are the
Lord’s_; and thereby ye frustrate the people’s right therein; for
the Lord hath given them to his people.’ ‘Out upon thee!’ replied
Muâvia; ‘what is this but a quibble of words? Are we not all of us the
Lord’s people, and the riches belong unto the same?’ Tradition dwells
on the poverty of Abu Dzarr’s life at Rabadza to add point to Othmân’s
unkind treatment. The Beni Ghifâr, his tribe, are said to have resented
his ill-treatment by joining the insurgents when they appeared.

[459] On this subject historians say very little; and it is chiefly
from incidental notices in fragments of early poetry that Von Kremer
has so ably traced the inroads of profligacy and the practice of
forbidden pastimes--music, wine, and gambling. The brief notice of
Ibn al Athîr on this matter is as follows: ‘The prevalence of a
worldly spirit first showed itself at Medîna in the flying of doves
and shooting with pellets (with a gaming aim); and in the eighth year
of his Caliphate Othmân appointed an officer to stop the same, who
clipped the birds’ wings, and broke the cross-bows.’ A citizen was
rebuked by the Caliph for playing at ‘oranges’ (apparently some game of
chance); and he thereupon got angry and joined the hostile party. The
anti-Omeyyad tendency of the tradition on this subject is evident from
_Welîd_ (the drunkard) being named as the person employed by the
Caliph to administer the rebuke.

[460] As enlarged by Othmân, the Mosque was 160 cubits long, and 150
broad. As in Omar’s time, it had six gates for entrance.

[461] Othmân defended his innovations as based on the practice of the
pilgrims from Yemen, who recited additional prayers on behalf of their
distant homes; and he too (he said) had a property at Tâyif, as well
as at Mecca. The matter seems at first sight altogether insignificant.
But in an established ritual, the smaller the change, the greater
oftentimes the scandal and indignation, as we need not go far to
see. And although no point of doctrine was apparently involved, yet
the practice of the Prophet had come to be regarded as an obligatory
precedent in the commonest matters of daily life.

[462] For Abu Hodzeifa, see _Life of Mahomet_, p. 65. He left his
infant son to be brought up by Othmân, who faithfully discharged the
trust. When he grew up he asked for a government or military command,
but was told that he was not yet fit for it, and must prove his
capacity in the wars of Egypt and Africa. He never forgot the slight,
and was active in the insurgent ranks. Various other examples are given
of personal enmity, such as citizens alienated by the reprimand for
gaming, a chief imprisoned for the ill-treatment of a Christian tribe,
whose favourite hound he had killed, and so on.

[463] The well was at the distance of two miles from the city. Another
well, called Rûma, was bought by Othmân, during the Prophet’s lifetime,
from the Jews for the use of the Moslems. He first purchased the half
title, the well being used day about by either party; but on their
alternate days the Mussulmans emptied the well of enough water to
last them two days. Whereupon the Jewish owner insisted on Othmân’s
purchasing the entire right, which he did; and Mahomet promised him a
fountain in Paradise for the same.

[464] For traditions regarding Mahomet’s ring, see _Life of
Mahomet_, pp. 544 and 596. The despatches sent by him to the several
kings in the eighth year of the Hegira were attested by it. The most
received account is that the legend on it was ‘Mahomet, Prophet of
God’ (_Mohammed Rasûl Allah_, in three lines, beginning from the
bottom). It was used for all documents requiring a seal, by Mahomet
and his successors. The new ring disappeared at the time of Othmân’s
assassination, and, like the original, was never seen again.

[465] One of the four wives who survived him was Omm al Banîn, daughter
of the famous freebooter, Oyeina. Othmân had thirteen children, and (so
far as we read) no issue by slave-girls, which, looking to the habits
of the time, is somewhat remarkable.

[466] The name of this demagogue was Abdallah ibn Saba, but he was
usually called Ibn Sauda, and was supposed to come from Yemen. It is
notable that this first sect of Alyites (if it can be so called) was
founded by a Jewish convert. What led him (if the story of his teaching
be not altogether a proleptic fiction of tradition) to magnify Aly,
who had hitherto put forth no claim, nor indeed at any time dreamed
of the extravagant pretensions in store for him after his death, it
is difficult to understand. Nor did these transcendental notions
regarding Aly gain any ground whatever till a much later period. Ibn
Sauda had evidently imbibed some extreme notions on the dignity of
prophets. ‘Strange,’ he is reported to have said;--‘strange that men
should believe in the second coming of the Messiah, and not in that
of Mahomet.’ The idea, we are told, was inspired by the verse in Sura
xxviii. v. 84, ‘Verily, he who hath given thee the Corân will surely
bring thee back again;’ which, of course, referred only to Mahomet’s
returning again to Mecca. Indeed, the whole account of this man’s
teaching is obscure and uncertain; and the Alyite notices of it may be
altogether anticipatory and unreal.

[467] The youth and his father belonged to the Beni Asad. On hearing of
the riot, Toleiha (the _quondam_ prophet), chief of that tribe,
hastened with a body of his men to the palace for their rescue; but
found that both had escaped half dead.

Another version is, that on Saîd’s giving expression to the sentiment
about ‘the Sawâd being the Garden of the Coreish,’ the whole company
sprang to their feet and shouted excitedly: ‘Nay, but the Lord hath
given the Sawâd to us and to our swords.’ On this, the captain of the
body-guard retorted angrily at their rude reception of his master’s
words; whereupon they set upon him and left him half dead. The
inflammable material was all around, and wanted only the spark to
explode. This unfortunate speech about ‘the Garden of the Coreish’ was
in the mouths of the disaffected all through the insurrection.

[468] The chief amongst them was Mâlik al Ashtar, of whom we shall
hear more as the most sanguinary amongst the traitors; Zeid ibn Sohan;
Jondob (already noticed); Orwa; and Thâbit ibn Cays. Yezîd, a brother
of the last, another chief leader of sedition, was not sent. Muâvia
wrote to Othmân that they were an ignorant crew, bent on sedition, and
on _getting possession of the property of the Zimmies_, that is
of the subject races, whose rights of occupancy had been recognised as
the hereditary tenants of the Sawâd--a policy, as we have seen, firmly
upheld by Omar throughout Chaldæa, and which it was one object of the
malcontents to upset. According to one account, the exiles were sent
back by Muâvia, after expressing penitence, at once to Kûfa--where,
however, resuming their factious courses, Othmân, as a last resource,
despatched them again to Syria, this time to Abdallah, Khâlid’s son, at
Hims. Muâvia is throughout represented as _upholding the claims of
the Coreish_ against the Arab faction, showing thus the real aim of
the ringleaders.

A story is told that the exiles, enraged at the menaces of Muâvia,
leaped upon him and seized him by the beard; whereupon, shaking them
off, he warned them that they knew little of the loyal spirit of the
Syrians, who, if they only saw what they were doing, would be so
enraged that it would be out of his power to save their lives.

[469] Only two or three names are given of those who kept aloof from
seditious action: as Zeid ibn Thâbit (the collector of the Corân);
Hassân, the poet, his brother; Káb ibn Mâlik, and Abu Oseid--all
natives of Medîna; so that the whole body of Refugees (the Coreish),
excepting Othmân’s immediate kinsmen, must have joined the treasonable

[470] No doubt Aly spoke the truth. Yet Othmân’s weakness towards the
seditious populace was a far greater peril than his tender treatment of
his governors.

[471] I have given all this as I find it in tradition, but not without
some misgiving; especially of the part about Merwân, whom, as the evil
genius of Othmân, the Abbasside writers are never weary of abusing.

[472] Amru, who had become a petulant malcontent ever since his
deposition, is represented as speaking contumeliously of Othmân to
his very face; and Othmân is represented as returning it in kind,
calling him ‘a louse in his garments.’ On one occasion the Caliph is
said to have addressed the people, ‘leaning on the staff of Mahomet’
(a venerable relic that had descended from the Prophet to Abu Bekr
and Omar), when an Arab seized and broke it over Othmân’s head. Such
stories, however much they may be tinged with Abbasside exaggeration
and prejudice, point to the fact that Othmân was falling rapidly in
popular esteem.

[473] The four were Mohammed ibn Maslama, often employed by Omar, as
he had been by Mahomet himself, on confidential missions; Osâma ibn
Zeid, commander of the Syrian expedition at Mahomet’s death; Abdallah,
son of Omar; and Ammâr, whose injudicious appointment by Omar to the
governorship of Kûfa appears to have turned his head, for he fell into
the conspirators’ toils.

[474] We have abundance of conversations professing to have passed
between Othmân and his advisers; but they have no further authority
than as they represent the sentiments conventionally attributed to
the several speakers. As, however, it may give point to the crisis
now rapidly approaching, I subjoin the following epitome of the most
received account:--

_Othmân_: ‘Alas, alas! what is all this I hear of you, my deputies
and governors? I greatly fear that the complaints may be true; and
it is upon me the burden falleth.’ They replied that the Caliph had
sent his own men out to see, and they had found nothing wrong. Then he
asked what they advised him to do. _Sád_ (ex-governor of Kûfa)
would have the traitors, who were burrowing in the dark, unearthed and
slain; then sedition would subside. _Muâvia_: ‘In Syria there is
no disaffection, and it would be everywhere the same were the people
fairly and firmly dealt with.’ _Abu Sarh_ proposed to work through
the Dewân, increasing or diminishing stipends by way of reward and
punishment. _Ibn Aámir_ advised to engage the restless spirits in
war, and so the crisis would pass over. _Amru_, embittered by his
supersession in Egypt, is represented as addressing Othmân in coarse
abuse. Othmân replied despondingly:--‘Cruel measures he would not
sanction. If rebellion was to come, no one should, at the least, have
that to say against him. The millstone would grind round and round to
the bitter end. Good had it been, if before it began to revolve, he had
been taken to his rest. There was nought left for him but to be quiet
and to see that no wrong was done to anyone.’ So he gave the governors
leave to depart, saying only that if fresh campaigns were set on foot,
he would approve of that; otherwise he would hold on his way.

As they took their leave, Káb, the Jewish convert, said, ‘It will be
the grey mule that wins,’ meaning Muâvia, who overheard the saying and
from that moment (so the tradition runs) kept the Caliphate in view.

Another scene is represented, in which Othmân, surrounded by his own
advisers, sends for Aly, Zobeir, and Talha. Muâvia pleaded before them
the cause of the aged Caliph, and warned them of the danger they ran
to their own selves in allowing any attack calculated to abate the
sacredness of the Caliph’s person; it was, he said, both their duty
and their interest to support him in his feeble old age. On this,
Aly reproached Muâvia as the son of Hind, the ‘chewer of Hamza’s
liver.’ ‘Let alone my mother,’ he responded angrily; ‘she became a
good believer, and after that was not a whit behind thine own.’ Othmân
interposed: ‘My cousin Muâvia doth speak the truth. Now tell me wherein
I have gone astray, and I will amend my ways. It may be that I have
been too open-handed towards my kinsmen. Take back that which they have
received.’ So Abu Sarh disgorged 50,000 dirhems; and Merwân 15,000, and
they all departed for the moment satisfied.

But all these accounts must be received with suspicion. In the midst
of such violent factions as were springing up, the marvel is that
tradition has preserved so consistent a narrative as we have.

[475] Adapting the words from Sura xxxix. v. 39.

[476] For the Lesser Pilgrimage, or Omra, see _Life of Mahomet_,
p. xii. It may be performed in any month of the year, but preferably
in Rajab (three months earlier than the commonly received date of the
attack, which I have followed); and some traditions accordingly give
this as the date of the advance upon Medîna. That, however, would make
the interval (from January to May) too long for the intervening events,
which were hurried through within the period of a couple of months, if
so long.

[477] See above, p. 313.

[478] The men of Kûfa pitched at Al Awas; the Bussorah party at
Dzu Khashab; the Egyptians at Dzu Marwa--all places in the close
neighbourhood of the city.

[479] They marched off, we are told, expecting that the citizens
would break up their armed gathering as soon as they were gone, and
concerting to return again each from their separate road.

[480] The history of the document is obscure. On the one hand, it
certainly was sealed with the Caliph’s signet; but who affixed the
seal, and whether it was surreptitiously obtained, cannot be told.
Nobody alleges Othmân’s complicity. Most traditions attribute the
writing and sealing of the order to Merwân, the Caliph’s unpopular
cousin, who, throughout the narrative, receives constant abuse as the
author of Othmân’s troubles; but all this is manifestly tinged by
Abbasside and anti-Omeyyad prejudice. Aly’s objection of collusion
between the three insurgent bodies appears unanswerable. There must
have been some preconcerted scheme as to the simultaneous return of the
three camps; and there is a strong presumption of something unfair as
regards the document also. Amidst conflicting evidence, it is beyond
the historian’s power to offer any conclusive explanation. It is, of
course, possible that Merwân may have taken upon himself the issue and
despatch of the rescript; and, indeed, there was not wanting ground
for his venturing on such a course (and something perhaps also to be
said for his doing it unknown to Othmân), excepting only the deception
of the insurgents by false promises. The insurgents may also have got
scent of the document before they started ostensibly with the purpose
of returning home. But these are all mere assumptions.

The Persian version of Tabari has a different story, namely, that the
Egyptian band, on seizing the document, turned their faces back again
towards Medîna, despatching at the same time messengers to apprise the
Kûfa and Bussorah bands of Othmân’s treachery, and to recall them, so
that all should reach Medîna and join in the attack together. Neither
Ibn al Athîr nor Ibn Khallicân have anything to this effect, and it is
hardly consistent with Aly’s speech, noticed above. The Arabic original
of Tabari, now being published, may possibly throw further light on
this chapter.

[481] Mohammed ibn Maslama, a Companion (as we have seen) highly
trusted both by Mahomet and his successors; and Zeid ibn Thâbit, the
collector of the Corân, tried to speak in confirmation of what Othmân
had said, but were violently silenced and abused by the rebels Hakam
ibn Jabala and Mohammed ibn Coteira.

[482] There are traditions, but of an entirely Abbasside stamp, of
other interviews between Aly and the Caliph, with repeated promises
of the latter to amend; Aly recriminating that these promises were no
sooner made, even from the pulpit and before the congregation, than
under the baneful influence of Merwân they were broken. Even Nâila,
his wife, is represented as blaming her weak-minded husband for his
fickleness. But were all this true, it would go but a little way to
relieve Aly, Zobeir, and Talha from the charge of desertion, or, worse,
of treasonable collusion with rebels against the rightful monarch--a
short-sighted policy even in their own interest.

[483] He is called Al Ghâficky, the ‘Ameer,’ or Commander of the

[484] According to some traditions, we are told, that Othmân prevailed
on Aly to procure for him a three days’ truce, under the pretence of
issuing orders to the governors for a reform of the administration; and
that he treacherously employed the time instead in strengthening the
defences, and excused himself by saying that the time was too short
to carry out the promised reforms. But the story is altogether of the
Abbasside type.

[485] The authorities are conflicting as to the length of the siege,
though the several stages of the attack and investment are sufficiently
well defined. After the first uproar Othmân still presided at the
daily prayers for thirty days, after which he was besieged for forty
days--that is ten weeks in all. Another tradition is that after the
blockade had lasted eight and forty days, tidings of coming succour
reached the city, and then the investment became severe. But this would
leave too long an interval--namely, three weeks--between the report of
help being on its way and the final issue, before which the columns,
hurrying from Syria and Bussorah, should have had ample time to arrive
at Medîna. The Syrian column, we are told, reached as far as Wâdy al
Cora, and that from Bussorah as far as Rabadza, when they heard that
all was over, and accordingly turned back.

[486] The talk among the courtiers of Al Mâmûn, in the third century,
as reflected in the _Apology of Al Kindy_, was that Aly, even at
a much earlier period, contemplated the putting of Othmân to death
(_Apology_, p. 25). There seems to be no proof or presumption of
this; but anyhow, one cannot but feel indignant at the attitude of Aly,
who would do so much and no more; who sent his son to join the Caliph’s
guard at the palace gate, and was scandalised at his being denied water
to drink; and yet would not so much as raise a finger to save his life.

We have also traditions in which Othmân is represented as reproaching
Talha for encouraging the insurgents to a more strict enforcement of
the blockade; but, whatever his demerits in deserting the Caliph, this
seems incredible. The ordinary account is that Talha as well as Zobeir,
on hearing of the rebel excesses, kept to his house; others, again, say
that they both quitted Medîna.

Omm Habîba, as daughter of Abu Sofiân, naturally sympathised with
Othmân. Hantzala, one of the citizens of Kûfa who had accompanied the
insurgents, was so indignant at their treatment of one of ‘the Mothers
of the Faithful,’ that he went off to his home, and there gave vent
to his feelings in verses expressive of his horror at the scenes his
comrades were enacting at Medîna.

One day, we are told, Othmân, goaded by the thirst of himself and his
household, ascended the roof, and cried aloud: ‘Ye men! know ye that I
bought the well Rûma, and furnished it with gear that the Moslems might
quench their thirst thereat? and now ye will not let me have one drop
to quench my thirst. Moreover, I builded you such and such a mosque;
and now ye hinder me from going forth to say my prayers in the Great
Mosque.’ And so on, contrasting the various benefits he had conferred
upon them, and the kind and loving words the Prophet used to address to
him, with the cruel treatment he was now receiving; whereat the hearts
of all were softened, and the word was passed round to hold back from
pressing the attack. But Ashtar, the rebel, said, ‘He is but playing
with you and practising deceit,’ and so he resumed the attack. There
are many such traditions, but they seem to possess little authority.

[487] The pilgrims, in order to reach Mecca in time for the pilgrimage
(beginning on the 8th of Dzul Hijj, June 7), must have left Medîna a
week or ten days previously; that is, some three weeks before the final
attack on the palace.

[488] The one killed was Moghîra, a Thackîfite from Tâyif. He was a
confederate of the Beni Zohra, the same who had persuaded that clan to
retire from the Coreishite army when it marched forth to attack Mahomet
at Bedr (_Life of Mahomet_, p. 228).

Merwân received a sword-cut, which severed one of the tendons of
the neck, and left him, when he recovered, with his neck stiff and
shortened. The rebels were about to despatch him when his foster-mother
cried out: ‘Do ye seek to kill him? he is dead already; if ye would
sport with and mutilate his body, that were inhuman and unlawful.’ So
they left him. In after days, when Merwân came to power, he showed his
gratitude to this woman by giving her son a command.

[489] The blood, we are told, flowed down the leaves just touching
these words: ‘If they rebel, surely they are schismatics; thy Lord will
swiftly avenge you.’ (Sura ii. v. 138.) The appropriateness of the
text, however, may of itself have suggested the story.

When the insurgents first rushed in, he was at the moment reading the
appropriate passage in Sura iii. v. 174. Referring to the battle of
Ohod, and the danger in which Medîna was then placed, the disaffected
citizens are there represented as taunting Mahomet and his followers
in these words: ‘_Verily, the men (of Mecca) have gathered forces
against you; wherefore, be afraid of the same_. But (the taunt) only
increased their faith, and they said: _The Lord sufficeth for us; He
is the best Protector_.’ This was a favourite text of Othmân’s, and
he may perhaps have turned to it for comfort now that vain was the help
of man.

[490] The actual murderers were Al Ghâficky, the leader, and Sudân, who
was himself killed. Kinâna ibn Bishr is also named. All these belonged
to the Egyptian band, which seems to have contained the most rabid
of the insurgents. Amr ibn al Hamac leapt upon the body, hardly yet
breathless, and inflicted nine wounds--‘three for the Lord’s cause, and
six to satisfy his own passion.’

[491] These two were among the chief men ‘whose hearts were gained
over’ by largesses from the booty after the battle of Honein.--_Life
of Mahomet_, p. 436. Hakîm is frequently mentioned in the Prophet’s
biography. It was Hakîm who carried supplies to his aunt Khadîja when
shut up with Mahomet in the Sheb.--_Life_, p. 100.

It is said that a party of the citizens of Medîna made an attempt to
stop the funeral, but desisted on seeing that a tumult would arise. We
are also told that Aly himself, on hearing of the design to molest the
procession and cast stones at the mourners, did his best to prevent it.
Indeed, Abbasside tradition abounds with attempts to rescue the memory
of Aly from the obloquy attaching to the heartless part he had been
acting. For example, Masûdy gives us a tradition that when Aly heard
that all was over he hastened to the palace and asked his son how it
had happened--as though he could not for many days have foreseen the
fatal termination to which the blockade was tending!

[492] The field was called Hashh Kaukab--the Garden of the Star.

[493] My impression, on the whole, is that it was an afterthought.
The narrative of those who side with Talha and Zobeir is as follows:
After Othmân’s death the city was for some days in the hands of the
insurgents. No one ventured to accept the Caliphate. Sád and Zobeir
had already quitted the city; and all the members of the Omeyya
clan who were able had effected their escape to Mecca. The rebels
themselves were at their wits’ ends: ‘If we quit Medîna,’ they said,
‘and no Caliph is appointed, anarchy will burst forth everywhere.
It appertaineth unto you (addressing the men of Medîna) to appoint
a Caliph. Wherefore look ye out a man for the throne, and make him
Caliph. We give you one day’s grace for the same. If ye choose him,
well; but if not, then we shall slay Aly, Zobeir, and Talha, as well
as a great number of you.’ Alarmed at these threats, the leading
citizens repaired to Aly, who, at first, bade them seek another; but
they constrained him; and, as a last resource, to rid them of the
insurgents, he consented. Then they drew Zobeir (who, by this time, had
returned) and Talha to the Mosque, and forced them, at the point of the
sword, to swear.

It seems certain that the rebels of Kûfa and Bussorah were in favour
respectively of Zobeir and Talha; but that they were induced to accept
Aly, either through fear (as the partisans of the two pretenders hold)
of the Egyptian regicides, or because the citizens made choice of Aly.

[494] Thus Sád, the conqueror of Irâc, refused to swear till all else
had done so; whereupon, Ashtar, head of the conspirators from Kûfa,
threatened to behead him; but Aly said, ‘Leave him alone; I will be
surety for him.’ Moghîra, also, and a company of the late Caliph’s
adherents, declined to swear, and were left unmolested. Amongst them
was Hassân, the poet, and his brother Zeid (collector of the Corân),
whom Othmân had appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer. Of the latter,
it is said that when Othmân was first attacked, he cried to his
fellow-citizens, ‘Ye men of Medîna, be ye _Ansârs_ (Helpers) _of
the Lord_ for the second time, even as ye were Ansârs of His Prophet
at the first.’ But Abu Ayûb, another of the citizens, made answer and
said, ‘Verily, he shall get no help from us. Let the multitude of his
train-band slaves be his _Ansârs_!’

[495] This servile population (Sabâya or ‘captives’) had been pouring
for years in a continuous stream, during the campaigns, into Medîna.
They were employed as domestic servants, warders, body-guards, &c. Some
followed trades, in quasi-freedom, paying the profits to their masters.
They mostly embraced the Moslem faith because of the privileges it
conferred. On the outbreak they became insubordinate, and broke away
into a defiant attitude. This would occur the more readily as they
formed the guards of the treasury and mansions of the great men; and,
being the only trained force at Medîna, no doubt themselves felt their
power. We find them similarly taking part in the outbreak at Bussorah.
Like the Janissaries or Memlûk of later days, they were a petulant
brood. Immediately on homage being done to Aly, they are said to have
lampooned him in minatory verses, to which Aly (not to be outdone by
the poetry even of slaves) replied in extempore couplets. Proclamation
was made that slaves not returning to their masters would be treated as
outlaws, but it had no effect.

[496] The tradition runs that Moghîra, at the first, gave sound and
sincere advice to this effect; but that, finding Aly obstinately
opposed to it, he returned next day, saying that, on reflection, he
had changed his mind. When Ibn Abbâs came, Aly told him that Moghîra
had, at the first, attempted to deceive him, but on the second day had
spoken true, and advised him to put in his own men. ‘Not so,’ said Ibn
Abbâs; ‘just the reverse. It was the truth which he spake at the first;
the last was not his true opinion.’ And so it turned out; for Moghîra,
finding his advice disregarded, departed to join the malcontents at

[497] _Life of Mahomet_, pp. 324 and 527.

[498] I have given this conference fully, because, in substance at
least, it shows the impracticable bent of Aly’s mind which quickly
drew on the civil war. It is also not unlikely in itself. The purport
of such a conversation would become known; and, moreover, besides this
and one or two other uncertain conversations, we have little or nothing
to explain the early events of Aly’s Caliphate, and the motives which
actuated him.

[499] Amru, it is said, pressed this course upon Muâvia, saying, in his
proverbial style, ‘Show the dam her foal, it will stir her bowels.’

[500] The officers appointed were his cousin Abdallah ibn Abbâs, a
faithful adherent, and his brother Cutham; Omar, son of Abu Salma
(half-brother of Omm Salma, the Prophet’s widow); Abu Leila, nephew of
Abu Obeida; Aly’s own son Mohammed, son of his Hanifite wife, &c.

[501] For this passage in the Prophet’s life see _Life of
Mahomet_, pp. 311 _et seq._

[502] We are treading now on specially factious ground, and have to
weigh with care the bias of tradition which represents Ayesha as
suddenly converted from a deadly enemy of Othmân into the champion
of his memory. Thus, when, on receiving the tidings of the murder
on the way back from Mecca, she declared that she would avenge his
death: ‘What!’ cried her informant, startled by her zeal; ‘is this
thy speech now, whilst but yesterday thou wast foremost to press the
attack upon him as an apostate?’ ‘Yea,’ she replied; ‘but even now
he repented him of that which they laid to his charge, and yet after
that they slew him.’ In reply, her informant recited these verses: