In the previous article, we tackled Mu’awiyah’s caliphate, his interest in conquests, Amr’s second tenure on Egypt and his succession by his son, Abdullah. Utbah bin Abu Sufyan took over after Abdullah. He was succeeded by Uqba bin Amer al-Juhani after whom came Mu’awiyah bin Hudayj, then Muslima bin Mukhalad. We also spoke of al-Mughira bin Shu’ba’s attempt to persuade Mu’awiyah to make his son Yazid heir apparent.
When al-Mughira met Yazid and spoke to him about his father making him heir apparent, Yazid told his father about it. Mu’awiyah asked al-Mughira about his words. The latter explained that he was keen on sparing blood. He did not want what happened after Uthman’s murder to be repeated. He added, “Yazid is the best to succeed you. Should trouble occur, he would protect people. No rift will happen. No blood will be shed.” He suggested that the people of Kufa and Basra pledge allegiance to him. The caliph asked him to return to his province and try to persuade his confidants to implement this. Al-Mughira returned to Kufa to discuss the matter with all the Umayyads there: that they might pledge allegiance to Yazid. He was able to convince some men and sent them to the caliph to address the subject. The caliph ordered them not to declare it and cling to their opinion that he might be able to implement it later. This did happen. After the people of Iraq and the Levant had pledged allegiance, Mu’awiyah marched to Hejaz with some of his sentries. He gave a speech in Medina, telling people that Yazid was more worthy of the caliphate than him. He emphasized the importance of people’s pledging allegiance to him. Having accomplished his mission, he returned to the Levant.
In 675, Mu’awiyah made the ‘Umrah. He surveyed opinions concerning making his son Yazid heir apparent. In 679 (some say 680), Mu’awiyah bin Abu Sufyan, the founder of Umayyad State, died. It is believed that making the caliphate heritable was his tragic mistake. Historian Abdul Aziz Jamal al-Din asserts that, “Mu’awiyah’s tragic mistake, which no one can defend him for, is making his son, Yazid, succeed him. Yazid was not qualified for that post: for he was only interested in drinking, hunting, and all sorts of profligacy. This shows how whimsical he was. He made the caliphate a post assigned to the corrupt or foolish. This happened most of the time after his death.” Mu’awiyah got sick. Before his death, he summoned Yazid to tell him what to do with the caliphate. He also told him about his potential opponents, namely, al-Hassan bin Ali, Abdullah bin Omar, Abdullah bin al-Zubayr, and Abdul Rahman bin Abu Bakr. He warned him against Abdullah bin al-Zubayr in specific. Historians, however, did not confirm the issue. Some claim that Yazid was away when his father died, and that Abdul Rahman bin Abu Bakr had already died. We shall tackle some of these opinions.
Yazid bin Mu’awiyah (680-683 A.D.)
Yazid became caliph after his father’s death, for people pledged allegiance to him on the self-same day. Some historians assert that he was at Homs on that very day. On his way back, he passed by his father’s tomb, then headed to Damascus to give a speech before his subjects. Neither did al-Hussein bin Ali nor Abdullah bin al-Zubayr pledge allegiance to him. When Yazid got to know of this, he sent an army that fought al-Hussein and his followers (shi’ites) near Karbala. Al-Hussein was killed and beheaded. Some historians say that Yazid grieved for al-Hussein’s death and that he invited his sons Ali and Omar to all his dinners and breakfasts!
Yet, al-Zubayr declared himself caliph in Mecca, criticizing Yazid for drinking and profligacy. The people of Tihamah and Hejaz pledged allegiance to him. When the news reached Yazid, he sent his troops to al-Zubayr. When the troops reached Mecca, al-Zubayr took his troops and resorted to the Holy Mosque. While the armies were fighting, news about Yazid’s death reached them. So, they sent a message to al-Zubayr, asking him to stop the fight and reconcile, after which troops returned to the Levant.
Yazid bin Mu’awiyah died in 683, having been caliph for three and a half years. His son, Mu’awiyah, took over after him.
As for Egypt’s conditions during Yazid’s tenure, it is worthy to point out that Muslima bin Mukhalad, the proconsul of Egypt, died on April, 682. This is the self-same year in which Abdullah bin al-Zubayr deposed Yazid and declared himself caliph. Rebellion against Yazid moved to Medina. It spread through Hejaz, Egypt, the Levant and North Africa and endured until Yazid’s death. Sa’id bin Yazid bin Alqama, of Azd became Egypt’s proconsul after Muslima. Pope Agathon departed. He was succeeded by Pope John III, the fortieth patriarch.
Mu’awiyah bin Yazid bin Abu Sufyan (683 A.D.)
He became caliph after his father’s death. He was a good man. He ruled the State for forty days, after which he deposed himself. He died ninety-four days later. This resulted in turmoil in the Umayyad family in the Levant, especially after Abdullah bin al-Zubayr had made Hejaz an independent province. He appointed proconsuls in other provinces like Abdul Rahman bin Juhdum who he assigned Egypt’s affairs. Yet, by the end of 683, Marawan bin al-Hakam had become caliph, having killed al-Dahhak al-Fahri who was pledged allegiance to by the people of the Levant.
Pope John III
After Pope Agathon had departed, Pope John was chosen patriarch of St. Mark’s See in 677. This coincided with the caliphate of Mu’awiyah bin Abu Sufyan. Most Orthodox churches in Alexandria were dominated by the Melchites after the intruding patriarch, Theodosius, had seized them. Despite their fewness, the Melchites were able to close the churches and seal them with red wax lest Copts pray therein. The proconsul had two Copt scribes, namely, Isaac and Athanasius. The Pope sent them a message, telling them about the church’s conditions. Copts could not pray, as churches were closed and sealed. The scribes helped the Pope retrieve the churches and open them to Copts. Pope John III was kind and loving. So much so that he was honored by elites. Also, he was quite charitable. During the time of costliness, which alighted upon the country and endured for three years, he cared a lot for the needy. God helped him meet their needs, be they food or drink. Had it not been for him, these poor people would have perished. What a beautiful story! Stories never end in Beautiful Egypt.
Head of the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Center