Yazid I

Yazīd ibn Mu‘awiya
Caliph in Damascus
2nd Caliph of the Umayyad Caliphate
Reign 28 April 680  11 November 683
Predecessor Mu'awiya I
Successor Mu'awiya II
Born 20 July 647 ( 25 AH)[1]
Died 11 November 683 (14 Rabi ul-Awwal 64 AH)[1] (aged 36)
Issue Mu'awiya II
Full name
Yazīd ibn Mu‘awiya ibn Abī Sufyān
يزيد بن معاوية بن أبي سفيان
Dynasty Umayyad
Father Mu'awiya I
Mother Maysun bint Bahdal al-Kalbiyya al-Nasrania (The Christian)[1]

Yazīd ibn Mu‘āwiya (Arabic: يزيد بن معاوية بن أبي سفيان; 20 July 647  11 November 683), commonly known as Yazid I, was the second Caliph of the Umayyad Caliphate (and the first one through inheritance). Yazid was the Caliph as appointed by his father Muawiyah I and ruled for three years from 680 CE until his death in 683 CE.

Rise to power

According to some sources Muawiyah warned his son Yazid against mistreating Hussein ibn Ali, grandson of Muhammad. His final warning to Yazid was: "Be careful O my son, that you do not meet God with his blood, lest you be amongst those that will perish" [2][3] Robert Payne quotes Muawiyah in History of Islam as telling his son Yazid to defeat Hussein, who was surely preparing an army against him, but to deal with him gently thereafter as Hussein was a descendent of Muhammad; but to deal with Abdullah al-Zubair swiftly, as Muawiyah feared him the most.[4]

The appointment of Yazid was unpopular in Madina too. Narrated by Yusuf bin Mahak:

Marwan had been appointed as the governor of Hijaz by Muawiyah. He delivered a sermon and mentioned Yazid bin Muawiyah so that the people might take the oath of allegiance to him as the successor of his father (Muawiya). Then 'Abdur Rahman bin Abu Bakr told him something whereupon Marwan ordered that he be arrested. But 'Abdur Rahman entered 'Aisha's house and they could not arrest him. Marwan said, "It is he ('Abdur Rahman) about whom Allah revealed this Verse: 'And the one who says to his parents: 'Fie on you! Do you hold out the promise to me..?'" On that, 'Aisha said from behind a screen, "Allah did not reveal anything from the Qur'an about us except what was connected with the declaration of my innocence (of the slander)."[5]

Oath of allegiance of Yazid

Upon succession, Yazid asked Governors of all provinces to take an oath of allegiance to him. The necessary oath was secured from all parts of the country. Hussain ibn Ali and Abdullah ibn Zubayr refused to declare allegiance. Yazid sent Marwan, a soldier in his army, to assist in this task.[6][7] An early historical account of the issue of obtaining bai'ah ( bait ) (pledge of allegiance) by Yazid I was chronicled by the 9th Century CE historian Al-Tabari who recorded that Yazid's only concern, when he assumed power, was to receive the oath of allegiance from the individuals who had refused to agree with Muawiyah's demand for this oath of allegiance for his son Yazid. Muawiyah had summoned the people (i.e., the Islamic shura or council) to give an oath of allegiance to him that Yazid would be his heir. Yazid's concern was to bring their attitude (of this refusal) to an end. Yazid's paternal first cousin Waleed bin Utbah bin Abu Sufyan was the Governor of Madinah, where Husayn bin Ali and the Hashimite family resided as did Abdullah ibn Zubayr. Yazid had sent his fellow Umayyad kinsman, Marwan bin al-Hakam (who served as a vizier to Muawiyah and now to Yazid), to Waleed bin Utbah bin Abu Sufyan with the following message written on parchment:[8]

Seize Husayn (Grandson of Muhammad), Abdullah ibn Umar (Son of Umar), and Abdullah ibn Zubayr (Grandson of Abu Bakr) to give the oath of allegiance. Act so fiercely that they have no chance to do anything before giving the oath of allegiance. Peace be with you.[8]

When summoned by the Governor of Madinah, Waleed bin Utbah, Husayn bin Ali answered the summons. However, Abdullah ibn Zubayr did not. When Husayn bin Ali met Waleed and Marwan (who was present) in a semi-private meeting at night, he was informed of the late Caliph Muawiyah's passing and Yazid's accession to the Caliphate. When asked for his pledge of allegiance to Yazid, Husayn responded that giving his allegiance in private would be insufficient, such a thing should be given in public. Waleed agreed to this, but Marwan interrupted demanding that Waleed imprison Husayn and not let him leave until he gives the pledge of allegiance to Yazid. At this interruption, Marwan was soundly upbraided by Husayn who then exited unharmed. Husayn bin Ali had his own retainer of armed supporters waiting nearby just in case a forcible attempt was made to apprehend him. Immediately following Husayn's exit, Marwan emphatically admonished his kinsman Waleed, the governor of Madinah, who in turn rebutted Marwan, justifying his refusal to harm Husayn ibn Ali by stating "that on the Day of Resurrection a man who is (responsible) for the blood of Al-Husayn (will weigh) little in the scale of God." As for Abdullah ibn Zubayr, he had left Medina at night heading for Mecca. In the morning Waleed sent men after him, a party of eighty horsemen under the command of a retainer of the Banu Umayyah. They pursued Ibn al-Zubayr but did not catch up with him, so they returned. As for Husayn ibn Ali, Tabari records that he too left for Mecca shortly after, having not given an oath of allegiance to Yazid.[9]


Main article: Battle of Karbala

Hussein-ibn-Ali, the grandson of Muhammad, along with many other prominent Muslims, not only disapproved of Yazid's nomination for caliph but also declared it against the spirit of Islam. While the nomination issue was deliberated upon in Medina, Abdullah ibn Zubayr went with Husayn to Mecca because some prominent Muslims thought that Mecca would be the best base for launching a campaign to build up public opinion against Yazid's nomination. However, before any significant work could be done, Muawiyah died, and Yazid took over the reins of government.

Kufa, a garrison town in Iraq, had been Ali's capital, and many of his supporters lived there. Hussein ibn Ali received letters from Kufa expressing its offer of support if he claimed the caliphate. As he prepared for the journey to Kufa, Abdullah ibn Umar, Abdullah ibn Zubayr and Abdullah ibn Abbas argued against his plan, and if he was determined to proceed to Kufa, asked him to leave women and children in Mecca, but Hussein rejected their suggestions. On the way to Kufa, he received the report of Muslim ibn Aqeel's death at the hands of Yazid's men and that the Kufans had changed their loyalties to Yazid, pledging support to him against Husayn and his followers.

Ubayd-Allah ibn Ziyad, governor of Basrah, executed one of the messengers and warned the citizens to avoid the insurgency. He sent a message to Hussein, at instruction of Yazid, stating, "You can neither go to Kufa nor return to Mecca, but you can go anywhere else you want." Despite the warning, he continued towards Kufa and during the trip, he and many members of his family were killed or captured at the Battle of Karbala.

Many Sahaba, the most prominent being Abdullah ibn Zubayr, refused to give their oath of allegiance to Yazid, as they saw it as a usurpation of power and not the proper way of choosing a Caliph by the Shura.[10]

Both Yazid and Hussein had been involved in the siege of Constantinople a few years earlier. Hussein was in the army that laid siege under the command of Muawiyah's son Yazeed in 51 AH.[11] After the peace treaty with Muawiya, Hussein would frequently visit Muawiya with his brother and show great hospitality in return.[12]

Following Hassan's death, Hussein would travel to see Muawiya every year, who, in return, would show great hospitality.[12] When the governor of Kufa, Ibn Ziyad, sent the head of Hussein to Yazid the servant of Muawiya is reported to have said: "When Yazid came with Hussein's head and placed it in his hands, I saw Yazid crying and he said: 'If there had been any relationship between Ibn Ziyad and Hussein then he would not have done this (referring to Ibn Ziyad).'"[13]

Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr

When Husayn was killed in Karbala, Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr started an insurgency in the Hejaz (Mecca and Medina) and the Tihamah. Upon hearing this, Yazid had a silver chain made and sent it to Mecca with the intention of having Walid ibn Utbah arrest Ibn al-Zubayr with it.[14] Umayyad forces tried to end the rebellion by invading the Hejaz in 683. Medina was taken after the Battle of al-Harrah, the Tihamah was invaded and siege was laid to Mecca. Yazid's sudden death in 683, however, ended the campaign and threw the caliphate into disarray and civil war.


During the caliphate of Yazid ibn Muawiya, Muslims suffered several military setbacks. In 682 AD Yazid restored Uqba ibn Nafi as the governor of North Africa and Uqba won battles against the Berbers and Byzantines.[6] Uqba then marched westward towards Tangier and then marched eastwards the Atlas Mountains.[7]

With cavalry numbering about 300, he proceeded towards Biskra, where he was ambushed by a Berber force. Uqba and all his men died fighting, and the Berbers launched a counterattack and drove Muslims from North Africa.[15] That was a major setback for the Muslims, as they lost supremacy at sea and had to abandon the islands of Rhodes and Crete.


Yazid was killed by his own horse after it lost control, or maybe it was some intestinal disease. Yazid died at the age of 36 (age 37 in Hijri-Lunar calculation) after he had ruled for three years. He was succeeded by his son Muawiyah II. Yazid was buried in Damascus. Although it is thought that his grave no longer exists, a few believe that it is located in a small street near a zoo.[16]

Historical evaluation

Some scholars regard Yazid as a just, noble, religious and administratively efficient ruler and that his nomination by his father Muawiya as caliph was proper.[17] Notable contemporaries such as Ibn Abbas and Muhammad bin Hanfia regard Muawiya's nomination of Yazid as sincere and proper as Muawiya genuinely believed that Yazid had the qualifications of being the leader of Muslims.[18]

Muslim tradition regards Caliph Yazid I as a tyrant who was responsible for three major actions during the Second Fitna that were considered atrocities: the death of Husayn ibn Ali and his followers at the Battle of Karbala, considered a massacre; the aftermath of the Battle of al-Harrah, in which the troops of Yazid's general, Muslim bin Uqbah al-Marri, pillaged the town of Medina; and the burning of the Kaaba during Siege of Mecca, which was blamed on Yazid's commander Husayn ibn Numayr.[19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26]

That view was summed up with the following evaluation of Yazid by a scholar from the Abbasid era:

He was strong, brave, deliberative, full of resolve, acumen, and eloquence. He composed good poetry. He was also a stern, harsh, and coarse Nasibi. He drank and was a reprobate. He inaugurated his Dawla with the killing of the martyr al-Husayn and closed it with the catastrophe of al-Harrah. Hence the people despised him, he was not blessed in his life, and many took up arms against him after al-Husayn such as the people of Madînah - they rose for the sake of Allâh -[27]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani, Ahmad bin Ali. Lisan Al-Mizan: Yazid bin Mu'awiyah.
  2. Hosay Trinidad: Muharram Performances in an Indo-Caribbean Diaspora By Frank J. Korom Page 24
  3. Redemptive Suffering in Islam: A Study of the Devotional Aspects of Ashura ... By Mahmoud M. Ayoub Page 95
  4. John Dunn, The Spread of Islam, pg. 51. World History Series. San Diego: Lucent Books, 1996. ISBN 1560062851
  5. Al-Bukhari, Muhammad. Sahih Al Bukhari (Vol. 6, Book 60, Hadith #352)
  6. 1 2 Hitti, Philip K. (1943). The Arabs: A short history. Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780895267061.
  7. 1 2 Hasan, Masudul (1998). History of Islam. North Haledon, NJ: Islamic Publications International.
  8. 1 2 The History of Al-Tabari: Vol. XIX (The Caliphate of Yazid bin Muawiyah). Al-Tabari, Muhammad ibn Jarir. (English Translation by I. K. A. Howard). State University of New York Press. http://www.scribd.com/doc/114186278/Karbala. (Pg. 7). http://www.alsunnahfoundation.org/Academy/Karbala.pdf.
  9. The History of Al-Tabari: Vol. XIX (The Caliphate of Yazid bin Muawiyah). Al-Tabari, Muhammad ibn Jarir. (English Translation by I. K. A. Howard). State University of New York Press. http://www.scribd.com/doc/114186278/Karbala. (Pgs. 7-9). http://www.alsunnahfoundation.org/Academy/Karbala.pdf.
  10. Balyuzi, H. M.: Muhammad and the course of Islam. George Ronald, Oxford (U.K.), 1976, p.193
  11. The Caliphate of Banu Umayyah the first Phase, Ibn Katheer, Taken from Al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah by Ibn Katheer, Ismail Ibn Omar 775 ISBN 978-603-500-080-2 Translated by Yoosuf Al-Hajj Ahmad Page 135
  12. 1 2 The Caliphate of Banu Umayyah the first Phase, Ibn Katheer, Taken from Al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah by Ibn Katheer, Ismail Ibn Omar 775 ISBN 978-603-500-080-2 Translated by Yoosuf Al-Hajj Ahmad Page 134
  13. The Caliphate of Banu Umayyah the first Phase, Ibn Katheer, Taken from Al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah by Ibn Katheer, Ismail Ibn Omar 775 ISBN 978-603-500-080-2 Translated by Yoosuf Al-Hajj Ahmad Page 152
  14. Najeebabadi, Akbar Shah (2001). The History of Islam v. 2. Riyadh: Darussalam. p. 110. ISBN 9960892883.
  15. Glubb, John Bagot (1965). The Empire of the Arabs. Prentis-Hall.
  16. Usmani, Maulana Mufti Taqi. Hazrat Muawiya and Historical Facts. Karachi, Pakistan: Idara Al-Mu’arif. pp. 111–112.
  17. Hazrat Muawiya and Historical Facts by Maulana Mufti Taqi Usmani p. 111–114 (Idara Al-Mu’arif, Karachi, Pakistan)
  18. Al-Tabari, Muhammad ibn Jarir. pp=372-379, Tarikh Al-Tabari Vol. 3.
  19. Al-Tabari, Muhammad ibn Jarir. pp=309-356, Tarikh Al-Tabari Vol. 4.
  20. Al-Tabari, Muhammad ibn Jarir. History of al-Tabari Vol. 19, The Caliphate of Yazid b. Mu'awiyah.
  21. Al-Athir, Ali ibn. pp=282-299, pp=310-313, Ibn al-Athir Vol. 3.
  22. Al-Dhahabi, Muhammad bin Ahmad. pp=30, Tarikh Ul Islam Vol. 5.
  23. Ibn Kathir, Ismail bin Umar. pp=170-207, pp=219-221, pp=223, Al Bidayah Wal Nihayah Vol 8.
  24. Al-Suyuti, Jalaluddin. pp=165, Tarikh Ul Khulafa.
  25. Maududi, Sayyid Abul Ala. pp=181, Khilafat Wa Mulukiyyat.
  26. Al-Dhahabi, Muhammad bin Ahmad. 4:37-38, Siyar A`lâm al-Nubalâ.

Further reading

External links

Yazid I
Born: 20 July 647 Died: 11 November 683
Sunni Islam titles
Preceded by
Muawiyah I
Caliph of Islam
Umayyad Caliph

680  11 November 683
also claimed by Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr in 680
Succeeded by
Muawiyah II
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 12/4/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.