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Abd al-Rahman I

Abd al-Rahman I

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Abd-al-Rahman was born on 1 March 731 to Mu'awiyah ibn Hisham, and he was born in Palmyra, Syria, in the Umayyad Caliphate. His father was a general of the Umayyads, and his mother was a Berber. In 750, the Abbasid Revolution occurred, and people claiming descent from Abbas ibn Shaiba founded the Abbasid Caliphate. Abd-al-Rahman, as a prince of the Umayyads, was targeted by the Abbasids, so he fled with his son Suleyman, his brother Yahya, and his Greek servant Bedr. He left his son with his sisters, but when he was crossing the Euphrates River, he became separated from his brother, who was beheaded by the Abbasids, and his body left to rot. Him and Bedr headed through Palestine, the Sinai, and through Egypt. Ibn Habib, a member of the Fihrids, gave him shelter in Ifriqiya, but he later changed his mind, and Ibn Habib's wife Tekfah hid Abd-al-Rahman under her personal belongings to preventher husband's soldiers from finding them. Abd-al-Rahman and Bedr reached Morocco, and he sent Bedr to make contact with Syrian commanders Obeid Allah ibn Uthman, Abd Allah ibn Khalid, and Yusuf ibn Bukht, and Abd-al-Rahman was invited to al-Andalus. In Malaga, he quickly amassed local support, and he took over much of Spain. Abd-al-Rahman proclaimed himself the leader of the Cordoba Emirate, and the House of Umayyad lived on in Spain. He won a tremendous victory over an Abbasid army of 7,000 troops under al-Ala ibn Mugith sent by al-Mansur to besiege Carmona in 763, defeating them with 700 troops. He sent the generals' heads to al-Mansur while he was in Mecca, and al-Mansur both hated and gained respect for him.

Abd-al-Rahman wished to take the fight east to Baghdad to avenge the deaths of his family members, but internal problems prevented him from doing so. In 778, Charlemagne of Francia invaded Muslim Spain with a large army from France to the north of the Pyrenees, and Charlemagne allied with Barcelona and Zaragoza against the Umayyad emir of Cordoba. In 783 he conquered Zaragoza after his appointed governor al-Husayn of Zaragoza (who was appointed in place of another rebellious governor) declared it an independent city-state. In 786 he began the construction of the Grand Mosque of Cordoba, and he was able to build a large standing army of 40,000 troops consisting mainly of Berbers from North Africa in addition to slaves from elsewhere. He died in 788, and he was succeeded as Emir of Cordoba by Hisham I of Cordoba.

Arrest of Sudanese war crimes suspect ‘extremely significant’: UN rights chief

The arrest of Ali Muhammad Ali Abd–Al-Rahman, commonly known as Ali Kushayb, an alleged former Janjaweed militia leader in the restive Darfur region of Sudan, has been hailed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, as an “extremely significant development”.

Mr. Kushayb, who is suspected of war crimes, and crimes against humanity, was taken into International Criminal Court (ICC) custody on Tuesday, after surrendering himself voluntarily in the Central African Republic. The charge sheet against him includes dozens of counts of murder, torture, persecution and rape.

According to a statement released on Tuesday, the ICC finds reasonable grounds to charge that, in 2003 and 2004, the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Janjaweed militia, acting together during a counter-insurgency campaign, carried out several attacks on the towns of Kodoom, Bindisi, Mukjar, Arawala and surrounding areas. During these offensives, civilians in these towns were allegedly murdered, raped, forcibly transferred or imprisoned.

Janjaweed commander

Mr. Kushayb, a Sudanese national, is alleged to have been in command of thousands of Janjaweed militia, to have carried out the counter-insurgency strategy, and to have enlisted fighters to the Janjaweed militia under his command, thereby intentionally contributing to the above-mentioned crimes, Mr. Kushayb is also alleged to have personally participated in some of the attacks against civilians, between August 2003 and March 2004.

“For too long those responsible for the large-scale international crimes committed in the western Sudanese region of Darfur have escaped prosecution”, said UN rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, in response to the arrest.

“Ali Kushayb is the first, and so far only, major figure to be arrested and handed over to the ICC, in connection with the numerous killings, rapes, pillage and other crimes that occurred when he was commander of the pro-government Janjaweed militias”.

Ms. Bachelet, noted her “profound hope” that four more suspects indicted in connection with the counter-insurgency campaign, will join him before the ICC in the near future, and declared that Mr. Kushayb’s detention “serves as a warning to all those responsible for such horrendous acts of violence in Sudan, and in many other parts of the world, that one day their crimes will catch up with them”.

She added that the arrest should also act as a deterrent to other military and political leaders who think they can commit such crimes with impunity.

Several countries and organizations were involved in Mr. Kushayb’s arrest, surrender and transfer to court: in the statement, ICC registrar Peter Lewis thanked the authorities of the Central African Republic (CAR), France, Chad, and the Netherlands (which hosts the ICC, in The Hague), as well as the UN peacekeeping mission in CAR (MINUSCA).

Abd Al Rahman I

He was born near Damascus, in Syria, in the year 731.

Abd Al Rahman I was a grandson of Hisham ibn Abd to the-Malik, son of the prince Omeya (Hisham ibn Mu'awiyah) and a concubine Berber.

He was twenty years old, when his family, were defeated by a revolt known as the Abbasid Revolution, in the year 750. Abd al-Rahman and a small selection of his family escaped of Damascus. Abbasid agents sought to Abd al-Rahman and his family, while theywere hiding in a small village. He left his young son with his sisters and fled with Yahiya. On the way south, they found with horsemen, to try to flee, Abd al-Rahman separated from his brother Yahiya, because who began swimming back towards the horsemen, from fear of drowning. Yahiya returned to the near shore, and was quickly assassinated by the horsemen. Abd al-Rahman continued south through Palestine, the Sinai, and then into Egypt. He intended to go as northwestern Africa (Maghreb), the land of his mother. The journey across Egypt was dangerous, because had been conquered by the Umayyad. At that time, the governor of Ifriqiya was a former Umayyad client. The governor broke with the Abbasids and invited Abd al Rahman to take refuge in his dominions.

In 755 he arrived north Africa, near Ceuta. Some berber tribes joined to he, to cross the mediterranean sea. Abd al Rahman arrived in Almuñecar, in September of the same year. Some of the events that he were conducted:- He defeated to the abbasid governor and proclaimed himself emir of Al Andalus. - In the year 763 he fought against an abbasid army which had invaded Al Andalus and finally was defeated. - In the year 784 he ordered the construction of a mosque in Cordoba, in that place there was a Christian Church, and bought the building. The new mosque was close to the palace of the emir and has 856 columns, and was reformed by Abd al Rahman II who ordered enlarge and enriched the building and al Mansur was who finally enlarged the building.

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'Abd al Rahman Jabarti's (1754-1822) multi-volume 'Aja'ib al-athar fi al-tarajim wa-al-akhvar (The Marvelous Compositions of Biographies and Chronicles is universally hailed as the most accessible and comprehensive primary source for the history of Egypt under Ottoman rule. It was rendered into a superb English translation in 1994 by a team supervised by Thomas Philipp and Moshe Perlmann, and published by Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart. The four volumes are bit daunting for beginning students and general readers, however, so Hathaway (Ohio State U.), having written her own history of Ottoman Egypt, presents 64 excerpts from the sections on the era of great household rivalries, the era of the French occupation, and the era of Muhammad 'Ali Pasha. She sets each into the context of the full work and of its historical period. --Book News

"'Abd al Rahman Jabarti's (1754-1822) multi-volume 'Aja'ib al-athar fi al-tarajim wa-al-akhvar (The Marvelous Compositions f Biographies and Chronicles is universally hailed as the most accessible and comprehensive primary source for the history of Egypt under Ottoman rule. It was rendered into a superb English translation in 1994 by a team supervised by Thomas Philipp and Moshe Perlmann, and published by Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart. The four volumes are bit daunting for beginning students and general readers, however, so Hathaway (Ohio State U.), having written her own history of Ottoman Egypt, presents 64 excerpts from the sections on the era of great household rivalries, the era of the French occupation, and the era of Muhammad 'Ali Pasha. She sets each into the context of the full work and of its historical period."--Book News --Book News

" Abd al-Rahman al-Jabarti. born in Cairo in 1753, combined biographies and historical accounts bv earlier chroniclers, covering events in Egypt as far back as 1688, with his own observations and research covering the period from roughly 1776 until his death in 1825. Printed in Arabic in 1879-80. The Marvelom Compositions of Biographies and Chronicles has long been regarded as the best primary source about Egypt under Ottoman rule. The present volume is composed of excerpts and brief contextual commentaries and will appeal to general readers. The sections describing the French occupation of Egypt (1798-1801) and its re-occupation by Ottoman forces are particularly interesting."--Saudi Aramco World --Saudi Aramco World

"Whoever teaches Middle Eastern history, sociology, politics or global studies, will like to use this book. For Jane Hathaway of Ohio State University presents here in 64 very brief chapters highlights of Egypt's history written by Abd ar-Rahman al-Jabarti (1753-1825). She, well known by her related works and especially her seminal book on "The Arab Lands under Ottoman Rule 1516-1800" (Longman 2008), gives each chapter a short introduction. Occasionally she writes "As I have explained elsewhere. " and equips the reader there and in the part "suggested reading'' with tips for further literature research.

The importance of this book comes not only from the work of the Egyptian historian al-Jabarti, but from the time he describes in his chronicle 'Aja'b al-Athar fi at-Tarajim wa al-Akhbar. This "Marvelous Remnants of Biographies and Reports" illuminates also Napoleon's invasion into the Egyptian and Syrian provinces of the Ottoman Empire and marks the dawn of the modernity in the Middle East since 1798. About that campagin Robert L. Tignor edited al-Jabarti's excerpts in "Al-Jabarti's Chronicle Of The French Occupation 1798: Napoleon In Egypt" translated by Shmuel Moreh (Wiener 1993).

Living in Cairo, Sheikh al-Jabarti witnessed not only this French campaign against the British, but the Muslim scholar reports also how the new Egyptian ruler Muhammad Ali fought the old Mamluk regime and took over Egypt finally in 1805. Since Sheikh al-Jabarti was critical to both, to the infidel Napoleon and to Muhammad Ali as the founder of a new dynasty (that was to be overthrown by the coup of Muhammad Najib and Abd an-Nasir in 1952), his chronicle was unpopular in Cairo.

However, with the new printing press in Bulaq, it was first edited in Arabic in 1879. Then a first full translation appeared in nine volumes in Cairo until 1896. Often translated again, available in an Arabic three volume edition of Bairut in 1972 and since 1994 in a four-volume English version edited by Thomas Philipp and Moshe Perlmann, it is still a key document of Muslim scholarship and of Egypt's Ottoman history since 1517. German readers be also refered to Arnold Hottinger's good compilation in one volume (Artemis 1983). Jane Hathaway's work abridged now Philipp's and Perlmann's edition. She added her introduction and commentaries. Our view changed also for there are not only other chronicles available like those of Ahmad Çelebi and Ahmad Kathkuda, but M. Şükrü Hanioğlu presented a much needed history of the late Ottoman Empire (Princeton University Press 2008) with which the reader can put al-Jabarti into the broader context.

Usually scholars discuss the chronicle's effects on three levels: main tendencies on how the Muslim al-Jabarti evaluated Napoleon's Christian armies and the jihad against them, schools of thought about this chronicle in Middle Eastern studies and finally what does it tell us about problems of mutual perceptions in Middle Eastern and Western cultures. The historian Jane Hathaway touches in her helpful introduction all three points. She explains Egypt under Ottoman rule, the French invasion and the rise of Muhammad Ali. Then she introduces the reader to al-Jabarti's life and his chronicle. Finally she describes his own sources, the publication history and changing perceptions of Abd ar-Rahman al-Jabarti.

The perception of al-Jabarti changed dramatically as Jane Hathaway opines: "No longer does he impress us as an isolated scholar attempting single-handedly to resurrect a long-abandoned tradition of Arabophone history-writing instead, he seems a skilled but a rather insecure historian who takes pains to minimize his debt to his predecessors in the field--and who, perhaps, never quite lived up to the illustrious, indeed almost legendary, example of his father." (XXXIII) Does she like to destroy an old legend just to erect an older one, like his father's who was a well known scholar? That al-Jabarti did not write out of the blue was quite clear though. Also that he did not acknowledge to the fullest some of his main sources and predecessors, is not unheard of in scholarship. Those earlier historians cultivated their quarrels as well, their antipathies and sympathies of colleagues.

Just take al-Jabarti's following words as an example about Muhammad Ali's attempt to modernize Egypt. The chronicler says that the pasha became convinced that Egyptians have a superior aptitude for sciences. Then he noted about Muhammad Ali (p. 327): "He ordered that a school be built in the courtyard of his palace in which a group of natives and the pasha's Mamluks were enrolled under the teacher Hasan Efendi, known as al-Darwish al-Mausili. With the colaboration of a Turk named Ruh al-Din Efendi and several Europeans the principles of accounting and engeneering were taught, as well as arithmetic, geometry, trigonometry, and algebra. Various technical instruments of English manufacture were provided, with which the students could measure distance, elevation, and area. He provided monthly stipends and yearly clothing allowances. They met regularly in this school, which was called School of Engeneering, every morning of the week until shortly past noon, when they returned to their homes. Some days they made field trips to the open country to study surveying. In fact, knowledge of surveying was the pasha's main goal."

It appears that the mechanisms to found and run a school was not all too different to our time. The ruler felt the need to know something about the property sizes and citizens. It was satisfied with the help of foreign teachers, a Turk and an Iraqi - dubbed the Derwish from Mosul, ad-Darwish al-Mausili -, and European advisors. Add to this the usage of English hardware and a couple of paid students until high noon, and the first School of Engeneering emerged right in the palace. The surveying reveals properties and taxes to the pasha's benefit. What a typical interplay of the domestic and foreign factors. Does it not sound all too familiar if we think of current attempts to get a census going in America? Jane Hathaway's compilation of excerpts, however, is a much appreciated selection of al-Jabarti's key primary sources on Egypt's rulers, peasants, scholars, servants, merchants, and students. It offers multiple glimpses on many aspects of the social life at the banks of the Nile and can well be advised for the use as a textbook in the realm of higher education."-- Wolfgang G. Schwanitz (Rider University) in Sehepunkte: Rezensionsjournal fuer Geschichtswissenschaften. --Sehpunkte

About the Author

Abd Al-Rahman Al-Jabarti(1754-1825) was renowed Arab historian and writer, and Egypt's most important and famous historian.He is also author of "Napoleon in Egypt." Jane Hathaway, Ohio State University, edited this book.

Abd Al-Rahman Al-Jabarti(1754-1825) was renowed Arab historian and writer.

1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Abd-ar-Rahman

ABD-AR-RAHMAN, the name borne by five princes of the Omayyad dynasty, amirs and caliphs of Cordova, two of thembeing rulers of great capacity.

Abd-ar-Rahman I. (756–788) was the founder of the branch of the family which ruled for nearly three centuries in Mahommedan Spain. When the Omayyads were overthrown in the East by the Abbasids he was a young man of about twenty years of age. Together with his brother Yahya, he took refuge with Bedouin tribes in the desert. The Abbasids hunted their enemies down without mercy. Their soldiers overtook the brothers Yahya was slain, and Abd-ar-rahman saved himself by fieeing first to Syria and thence to northern Africa, the common refuge of all who endeavoured to get beyond the reach of the Abbasids. In the general confusion of the caliphate produced by the change of dynasty, Africa had fallen into the hands of local rulers, formerly amirs or lieutenants of the Omayyad caliphs, but now aiming at independence. After a time Abd-ar-rahman found that his life was threatened, and he fled farther west, taking refuge among the Berber tribes of Mauritania. In the midst of all his perils, which read like stories from the Arabian Nights, Abd-ar-rahman had been encouraged by reliance on a prophecy of his great-uncle Maslama that he would restore the fortune of the family. He was followed in all his wanderings by a few faithful clients of the Omayyads. In 755 he was in hiding near Ceuta, and thence he sent an agent over to Spain to ask for the support of other clients of the family, descendants of the conquerors of Spain, who were numerous in the province of Elvira, the modern Granada. The country was in a state of confusion under the weak rule of the amir Yusef, a mere puppet in the hands of a faction, and was torn by tribal dissensions among the Arabs and by race conflicts between the Arabs and Berbers. It offered Abd-ar-rahman the opportunity he had failed to find in Africa. On the invitation of his partisans he landed at Almuñecar, to the east of Malaga, in September 755. For a time he was compelled to submit to be guided by his supporters, who were aware of the risks of their venture. Yusef opened negotiations, and offered to give Abd-ar-rahman one of his daughters in marriage and a grant of land. This was far less than the prince meant to obtain, but he would probably have been forced to accept the offer for want of a better if the insolence of one of Yusef’s messengers, a Spanish renegade, had not outraged a chief partisan of the Omayyad cause. He taunted this gentleman, Obeidullah by name, with being unable to write good Arabic. Under this provocation Obeidullah drew the sword. In the course of 756 a campaign was fought in the valley of the Guadalquivir, which ended, on the 16th of May, in the defeat of Yusef outside Cordova. Ab-dar-rahman’s army was so ill provided that he mounted almost the only good war-horse in it he had no banner, and one was improvised by unwinding a green turban and binding it round the head of a spear. The turban and the spear became the banner of the Spanish Omayyads. The long reign of Abd-ar-rahman I. was spent in a struggle to reduce his anarchical Arab and Berber subjects to order. They had never meant to give themselves a master, and they chafed under his hand, which grew continually heavier. The details of these conflicts belong to the general history of Spain. It is, however, part of the personal history of Abd-ar-rahman that when in 763 he was compelled to fight at the very gate of his capital with rebels acting on behalf of the Abbasids, and had won a signal victory, he cut off the heads of the leaders, filled them with salt and camphor and sent them as a defiance to the eastern caliph. His last years were spent amid a succession of palace Conspiracies, repressed with cruelty. Abd-ar-rahman grew embittered and ferocious. He was a fine example of an oriental founder of a dynasty, and did his work so well that the Omayyads lasted in Spain for two centuries and a half.

Abd-ar-Rahman II. (822–852) was one of the weaker of the Spanish Omayyads. He was a prince with a taste for music and literature, whose reign was a time of confusion. It is chiefly memorable for having included the story of the “Martyrs of Cordova,” one of the most remarkable passages in the religious history of the middle ages.

Abd-ar-Rahman III. (912–961) was the greatest and the most successful of the princes of his dynasty in Spain (for the general history of his reign see Spain , History). He ascended the throne when he was barely twenty-two and reigned for half a century. His life was so completely identified with the government of the state that he offers less material for biography than his ancestor Abd-ar-rahman I. Yet it supplies some Dassages which show the real character of an oriental dynasty even at its best. Abd-ar-rahman III. was the grandson of his predecessor, Abdallah, one of the weakest and worst of the Spanish Omayyads. His father, Mahommed, was murdered by a brother Motarrif by order of Abdallah. The old sultan was so far influenced by humanity and remorse that he treated his grandson kindly. Abd-ar-rahman III. came to the throne when the country was exhausted by more than a generation of tribal conflict among the Arabs, and of strife between them and the Mahommedans of native Spanish descent. Spaniards who were openly or secretly Christians had acted with the renegades. These elements, which formed the bulk of the population, were not averse from supporting a strong ruler who would protect them against the Arab aristocracy. These restless nobles were the most serious of Abd-ar-rahman’s enemies. Next to them came the Fatimites of Egypt and northern Africa, who claimed the caliphate, and who aimed at extending their rule over the Mahommedan world, at least in the west. Abd-ar-rahman subdued the nobles by means of a mercenary army, which included Christians. He repelled the Fatimites, partly by supporting their enemies in Africa, and partly by claiming the caliphate for himself. His ancestors in Spain had been content with the title of sultan. The caliphate was thought only to belong to the prince who ruled over the sacred cities of Mecca and Medina. But the force of this tradition had been so far weakened that Abd-ar-rahman could proclaim himself caliph on the 16th of January 929, and the assumption of the title gave him increased prestige with his subjects, both in Spain and Africa. His worst enemies were always his fellow Mahommedans. After he was defeated by the Christians at Alhandega in 939 through the treason of the Arab nobles in his army (see Spain , History) he never again took the field. He is accused of having sunk in his later years into the self-indulgent habits of the harem. When the undoubted prosperity of his dominions is quoted as an example of successful Mahommedan rule, it is well to remember that he administered well not by means of but in spite of Mahommedans. The high praise given to his administration may even excite some doubts as to its real excellence. We are told that a third of his revenue sufflced for the ordinary expenses of government, a third was hoarded and a third spent on buildings. A very large proportion of the surplus must have been wasted on the palace-town of Zahra, built three miles to the north of Cordova, and named after a favourite Concubine. Ten thousand workmen are said to have been employed for twenty-five years on this wonder, of which no trace now remains. The great monument of early Arabic architecture in Spain, the mosque of Cordova, was built by his predecessors, not by him. It is said that his harem included six thousand women. Abd-ar-rahman was tolerant, but it is highly probable that he was very indifferent in religion, and it is certain that he was a thorough despot. One of the most authentic sayings attributed to him is his criticism of Otto I. of Germany, recorded by Otto’s ambassador, Johann, abbot of Gorze, who has left in his Vita an incomplete account of his embassy (in Pertz, Mon. Germ. Scriptores, iv. 355-377). He blamed the king of Germany for trusting his nobles, which he said ​ could only increase their pride and leaning to rebellion. His confession that he had known only twenty happy days in his long reign is perhaps a moral tale, to be classed with the “omnia fui, et nil expedit” of Septimius Severus.

In the agony of the Omayyad dynasty in Spain, two princes of the house were proclaimed caliphs for a very short time, Abd-ar-rahman IV. Mortada (1017), and Abd-ar-rahman V. Mostadir (1023–1024). Both were the mere puppets of factions, who deserted them at once. Abd-ar-rahman IV. was murdered in the year in which he was proclaimed, at Guadiz, when fleeing from a battle in which he had been deserted by his supporters. Abd-ar-rahman V. was proclaimed caliph in December 1023 at Cordova, and murdered in January 1024 by a mob of unemployed workmen, headed by one of his own cousins.

The history of the Omayyads in Spain is the subject of the Histoire des Musulmans d’Espagne, by R. Dozy (Leiden, 1861).

Biographie de Abd al-Rahman I

Né près de Damas, en Syrie, Abd al-Rahman J'étais le fils du prince omeyyade Muawiya ibn Hisham et d'une concubine berbère nommée Rah. En 750, il fut l'un des rares membres de sa famille à échapper au massacre des Abbassides. Ainsi, alors que la lignée omeyyade s'éteignait à l'Est, il se rendit dans le monde islamique occidental pour établir une base de pouvoir. Accompagné de son affranchi Badr, il a traversé l'Afrique du Nord pour finalement se réfugier dans la tribu de sa mère, les Nafza Berbères du Maroc. Utilisant cette base, il envoya Badr en Espagne pour préparer le terrain à ses aspirations politiques.

Le 14 août 755, Abd al-Rahman débarqua à Almuñécar et fut bientôt reconnu comme chef par diverses colonies d'immigrants syriens, toujours fidèles à sa famille. Finalement, après avoir battu le dernier gouverneur de l'Espagne islamique, Yusuf al-Fihri, il entra dans la capitale, Cordoue, le 15 mai 756, et fut proclamé émir dans la mosquée principale.

Les nouvelles du triomphe d'Abd al-Rahman se répandent rapidement à travers le monde islamique, semant la terreur dans le cœur des rivaux Abbasides mais réjouissant des milliers de sympathisants omeyyades, qui affluent bientôt en Espagne. Beaucoup des relations du prince et des aristocrates syriens qui avaient été écartés du pouvoir à l'Est devinrent la nouvelle couche supérieure de la société cordouane. Au cours de son règne de 32 ans, Abd al-Rahman a dû faire face à de nombreux soulèvements, dont plusieurs ont été soutenus par les Abbassides. L'un des plus graves fut la révolte de l'Arabe yéménite al-Ala ibn Mugith, que Abd al-Rahman ordonna de décapiter. De 768 à 776, l'émir fait face à une révolte encore plus sérieuse menée par le chef berbère Shakya. Plus tard, une coalition de chefs arabes mécontents a appelé Charlemagne à l'aide contre le dirigeant omeyyade. Le roi des Francs assiégea vainement Saragosse en 778, et une partie de son armée fut anéantie dans le col de Roncevaux par une embuscade basque à son retour en France, épisode chroniqué dans le Chant de Roland.

Par sa politique d'attraction de groupes d'intérêts opposés et de répression sévère de la rébellion, Abd al-Rahman a atteint un minimum de stabilité. Il a perfectionné les bureaux administratifs syriens introduits plus tôt dans le siècle et d'autres opérations gouvernementales centralisées à Cordoue, qui à la fin de son règne a commencé à ressembler à une grande capitale. Blond, habituellement vêtu de blanc et aveugle d'un œil, il était aussi doué pour l'art oratoire et la poésie que pour les arts militaires. Le 30 septembre 788, Abd al-Rahman I mourut à Cordoue.

Abd ar-Rahman I

Abd ar-Rahman I (Abd al-Rahman ibn Mu'awiya ibn Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan), född 731 och död 788, regeringstid 756–788, var grundaren av den muslimska dynastin Umayyaderna, som styrde över Spanien under nästan två sekler. Han var sonson till Hisham, den tionde umayyadiske kalifen. När umayyaderna störtades i öst av abbasiderna var Abd ar-Rahman bara tjugo år gammal. Tillsammans med sin bror Yahya flydde han till beduinerna i öknen men abbasiderna jagade skoningslöst sina fiender och mördade Yahya. Abd ar-Rahman lyckades åter fly – först till Syrien och sedan, liksom alla som försökt ta sig utom räckhåll för abbasiderna, till Nordafrika.

I det kaos som uppstod efter den nya dynastins tillträde hade Afrika erövrats av de forna umayyadiska emirerna och andra ställföreträdare på kontinenten och nu eftersträvade de självständighet. Efter en tid upptäckte Abd ad-Rahman återigen att hans liv stod i fara och han flydde därför ännu längre västerut och hamnade hos berberstammarna i Mauretanien. Under sin flykt åtföljdes han av några få som var umayyaderna trofasta. Under alla sina umbäranden, som hämtade ur Tusen och en natt, hämtade Abd ad-Rahman styrka i den profetia som hans fars farbror, Maslama, uttalat som sade att det var han som skulle få familjens lycka att vända.

När han 755 gömde sig i närheten av Ceuta försökte han vinna stöd bland familjens trogna i Spanien, släktingar till dem som erövrat landet, som var många i Elvira, dagens Granada. Vid denna tid befann sig även den spanska halvön i ett kaotiskt tillstånd under den svage emiren Yusef – han var bara en marionett i händerna på en av de stridande fraktionerna och kunde inte förhindra inbördeskriget som rasade och motsättningarna mellan araber och berber. Abd ar-Rahman såg äntligen det tillfälle han letat efter och i september landade han, inbjuden av sina vänner, i Almuñécar, öster om Málaga på den spanska sydkusten.

Under en tid var Abd ar-Rahman tvungen att följa de råd han fick av sina anhängare, som var väl medvetna om de risker de stod inför. Yusef öppnade förhandlingarna genom att erbjuda en av sina döttrar och ett stycke land. Prinsen hade betydligt större ambitioner, men hade förmodligen blivit tvungen att acceptera erbjudandet – till en början – om inte en av Yusefs budbärare, en spansk avfälling, hade lyckats förolämpa en av umayyadernas viktigaste bundsförvanter, Obeidullah, genom att han inte kunde skriva på god arabiska. Obeidullah drog genast sitt svärd.

756 möttes arméerna i Guadalquivirdalen och den 16 maj nedkämpades Yusefs armé utanför Córdoba. Abd ar-Rahmans armé var så undermåligt utrustad att han själv var den ende som hade tillgång till en god stridshäst. Han saknade dessutom baner och fick improvisera ihop ett genom att vira en grön turban kring en spjutspets. Turbanen och spjutet blev därefter de spanska umayyadernas banner.

Abd ar-Rahmans långa regeringstid gick åt till att vinna maktkampen mot sina arabiska och berbiska undersåtar. De hade aldrig bett om en härskare och gillade inte alls hans växande makt. 763 tvingades han till och med slå tillbaka ett uppror lett av abbasidernas bundsförvanter utanför hans egna stadsportar. Vid segern lät han halshugga upprorsledarna, fylla deras huvuden med salt och kamfer och skicka dem till kalifatet i öster.

I slutet av sitt liv slog Abd ar-Rahman ned en serie konspirationer med stor brutalitet. Den dynasti han grundat skulle komma att behärska Spanien ända fram till 1031.

The Umayyads, an introduction

The Dome of the Rock (Qubbat al-Sakhra), Umayyad, stone masonry, wooden roof, decorated with glazed ceramic tile, mosaics, and gilt aluminum and bronze dome, 691-2, with multiple renovations, patron the Caliph Abd al-Malik, Jerusalem (photo: Brian Jeffery Beggerly, CC BY 2.0)

The Dome of the Rock. The Great Mosque in Damascus. The Great Mosque in Córdoba. These remarkable architectural and artistic achievements are associated with the Umayyads, “first” dynasty of the Islamic World.

After the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632 C.E., there was a series of four rulers, known as the Rightly Guided Caliphs: Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, and, lastly, Muhammad’s son-in-law, ‘Ali.

While the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam dispute the order of succession (specifically whether ‘Ali should have rightfully been Muhammad’s first successor), ‘Ali’s assassination marked a crossroad for early Muslims and resulted a series of civic wars (or fitnas).

View of the Courtyard of the Great Mosque of Damascus, photo: Eric Shin, CC BY-NC 2.0

Mu‘awiya and ‘Abd al-Malik

Mu‘awiya, then governor of Syria under ‘Ali, seized power after ‘Ali’s death. After a number of victories, Mu‘awiya emerged as the sole ruler of the Muslim world. He consolidated the early Muslim conquests in the Middle East and expanded the empire. Mu‘awiya established his capital at Damascus, shifting his power base north of Mecca and Medina in the Arab heartland. Mu‘awiya also instituted political and bureaucratic systems that allowed for the effective rule of the nascent Islamic empire and the expansion of the economy.

Mu‘awiya’s death in 680 resulted another wave of civil and religious wars, during which the Umayyads lost control of Mecca and Medina. Mu‘awiya’s son, ‘Abd al-Malik, eventually emerged victorious. Like the Roman emperors before him and his Byzantine contemporaries, ‘Abd al-Malik saw architecture and art as a means to express his authority and to provide the new religion of Islam with a powerful visual language that could convey the theology, values, and ideas of Islam to both Muslims and those who had been conquered.

‘Abd al-Malik built the Dome of the Rock on the Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem, which employed inscriptions, gold and blue mosaics, and innovative architecture to create one of the world’s most exceptional buildings. Adjacent to the Dome of the Rock, he also erected a permanent mosque (replacing an earlier temporary mosque), known as the Aqsa mosque. It is the third holiest mosque in the Islamic world after those at Mecca and Medina.

Al-Aqsa Mosque, Temple Mount, Jerusalem (photo: Andrew Shiva, CC BY-SA 4.0)

During ‘Abd al-Malik’s reign, Arabic took hold as the language of bureaucracy and of the elite. The stability afforded by his reign also meant that trade flourished, as goods and people moved with ease within the boundaries of the Islamic world. ‘Abd al-Malik also undertook public works, constructing roads, canals, and dams.

Coinage Reform

Alloy Coin, Standing caliph type, reign of ‘Abd al-Malik (pre-697 CE), minted in Homs (Syria) © The Trustees of the British Museum

‘Abd al-Malik also radically reformed coinage. Until 697 C.E., Islamic coinage deployed figural imagery, which was modeled on Byzantine and Sasanian coins. These coins included images, such as the standing caliph type, and were accompanied by Arabic inscriptions (or, in the case of coins minted in Iran, Pahlavi, or Middle Persian, inscriptions).

However, after 697 C.E., coins were minted with religious inscriptions in Arabic, the date, and the mint’s location. Since coins circulated widely, the coins helped articulate the new faith and political authority to both Muslims and the peoples that they had conquered. The uniform coinage also facilitated trade, as there was now a single currency with standardized iconography and denominations.

Gold dinar of caliph Abd al-Malik, (pre-697 C.E.), minted in Homs (Syria) © The Trustees of the British Museum

The inscription on the observe (on the left above) announces the creed of Muslims, the central inscription reads: There is no God but God, He is alone, He has no associate. The marginal inscription reads: Muhammad is the Messenger of God. He sent him with Guidance and the true religion that he might overcome all [religions even though the polytheists hate it]. Translation: British Museum. ‘Abd al-Malik was succeeded by his son, al-Walid I, who built the Great Mosque in Damascus (see photo near top of page) — another of the most important surviving monuments from the early Islamic period. Built using the tax revenue of Syria for seven years, the Great Mosque proclaimed the achievements of Islam in architectural and artistic form.

“Desert Castles”

al-Walid was succeeded by a series of male relatives who ruled until 749 C.E. Their main artistic and architectural achievement was the construction of what scholars have traditionally called the “Desert Castles.” These “castles” are better described as imperial or aristocratic residences that took the form of hunting lodges, rural residences, and urban palaces. Like the Dome of the Rock and the Great Mosque of Damascus, these residences expressed the authority and status of the Umayyad rulers however, they use a distinctively secular architectural language.

The exterior of the bathhouse, Qusayr ‘Amra (Otto Nieminen/Manar al-Athar).

These residences included audience halls, baths, and mosques, as well as extensive grounds. The residences were richly decorated with figural mosaics, paintings, and sculpture, which helped to create a luxurious environment for feasting, hunting, and the recitation of poetry and other courtly pursuits. These famous residences include Qusayr ‘Amra, Khirbat al-Mafjar, Mshatta, and others.

Built by al-Walid II, Qusayr ‘Amra (in Jordan) is composed of an audience hall and bath complex with rich wall paintings. Khirbat al-Mafjar, located outside Jericho in the West Bank, has rich floor mosaics, including deer and a lion under a treat, as well as an extensive program of figurative sculpture. A statue of the caliph, standing on a base decorated with lions (a symbol of royal power) greeted visitors, a clear articulation of authority and power. While the form of the standing caliph was no longer on Islamic coins, the image was still potent.

Mshatta façade detail, c. 743-44, photo: Steven Zucker, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 (Museum for Islamic Art, Berlin)

Statue of a standing caliph originally displayed above the main entrance to Khirbet al-Mafjar (Judith McKenzie/Manar al-Athar).

The frieze from Mshatta, an unfinished residence in Jordan, is now in the Museum for Islamic Art in Berlin. These residences are particularly important, as they confirm that since the inception of Islamic art figurative representation has been an important aspect of Islamic Art. However, figurative art is almost always used in the secular realm, while religious art is aniconic (without the representation of human figures).

The glory of the Umayyads was not to last almost all of the Umayyad princes were massacred in 749 by their rivals, the Abbasids, in what scholars call the “Abbasid Revolution.”

The only Umayyad prince to survive was ‘Abd al-Rahman I, and he escaped to found his own dynasty in Spain. Rooted in the Syrian traditions of his forefathers (and supported by Syrian immigrants), he established an alternative caliphate to the Abbasid caliph in Baghdad.

In 786, he founded the Great Mosque in Córdoba. Although little of his original foundation survives, the later modifications and decoration, particularly the use of mosaics on the domes of mihrab and maqsura, were a clear evocation of the glorious Syrian past.

Hypostyle hall, Great Mosque at Cordoba, Spain, begun 786 and enlarged during the 9th and 10th centuries (photo: wsifrancis, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Additional Resources:

For more images of Mshatta, Khirbet al-Mafjar, Qusayr ‘Amra, Dome of the Rock, Great Mosque of Damascus, and other Umayyad buildings, visit Manar al-Athar (free photo archive at the University of Oxford).

Watch the video: The True Story of a Syrian Refugee - Abd Al-Rahman I - WOTW EP4 P1 (July 2022).


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