Page 1141

1141 MOHAMMEDAN ASCENDENCY.-OMMIADES AND PATIMITES.

departed from Damascus to enter on his campaign. His first movement was directed

against the province of Cyrenaica, and its

capital, Cyrene. The city was besieged and

taken, its walls thrown down, the country

conquered.

From the borders of this province Acbah

then continued his march to the west. Through

dense and serpent-haunted woods and trackless

wastes of sand, he pressed onward to the site

of ancient Carthage. Here he chose a heavily wooded valley as the place in which to

found a city which should serve as the headquarters of Islam in the West. Nor has tradition failed to record how Acbah went forth

into the dank wilderness, infested as it was

with lions, tigers, and serpents, and conjured

them to fly to other jungles. "Hence!" said

he; "wild beasts and serpents, quit this wood and valley!" Then they fled to

parts unknown.

When the news of the progress of Acbah

was borne to Moawyah, he added the newly

conquered countries to the province of Egypt,

and appointed Muhegir governor. But the

action of the Caliph was based upon ignorance

of the vast extent of the territory which Acbah had overrun. The latter had meanwhile established himself in his new city and exercised

authority over the surrounding country. When

Muhegir arrived in Egypt, he became desperately jealous of the fame of Acbah, and slandered him in letters to the Caliph to the extent

of securing his recall and deposition from his

command. The valorous Acbah, however, indignant at the injustice done him, hastened

to Damascus and made so manly an entrance that he was at once reinstated. Returning by way of Egypt he found that Muhegir

had used the interim to destroy, as far as possible, the results of the conquest. Acbah accordingly deposed him from authority and

placed him in irons, and then went about to

remedy the mischief which he had accomplished.

In a short time he had reduced the country

to such a state of quiet that he was able to resume his work of conquest in the West. From

the frontier which he had already established

at Caerwan, he marched into Algiers, the ancient Numidia, and setting up the banners of

Islam, compelled the barbarous tribes to reverence the name of the Prophet. He then

proceeded into Morocco, the Mauritania of the ancients, and in like manner reduced the

inhabitants to submission. Still westward he

pressed his way until reaching the Atlantic,

he rode into the salt waves to his saddle

girth, and drawing his cimeter, declared that

only the sea prevented him from honoring

the Prophet by further conquests in his

name.

In the mean time intelligence was borne to

the victorious Moslem that the Greeks of

the African coast behind him, as well as

the savage tribes of the interior, had revolted

and were about to overthrow his authority.

His capital of Caerwan was threatened with

capture. Returning by rapid marches he

was attacked in Numidia by the Berbers

or Moors, who gave him great annoyance,

but could not be brought to battle. On

reaching his capital, however, Acbah found

that his lieutenant, Zohair had beaten the

rebels in battle, and restored order in the

province. As soon as every thing was made

secure, the adventurous governor returned

into Numidia to punish the audacious Moors.

Meanwhile, the Greeks of the coast had

joined their fortunes with the barbarians of

the mountain slopes, and Acbah found a

large army ready to oppose him. The leader

of the Moors was a noted chieftain named

Abu Cahina. When Acbah came in sight of the enemy, he perceived that their numbers were so great as to make a victory over

them impossible; but with the dauntless

zeal of a true follower of the Prophet, he

determined to conquer or die. He struck

off the chains of Muhegir and gave him a horse and armor. The two then rode, side

by side, into the hopeless conflict. The

Moslems fought with thinning ranks, but invincible courage. At last only a handful

remained, but they faced the enemy until

all had perished. The dead body of Acbah

was discovered still grasping his sword and

surrounded with a heap of infidel slain. The

destruction of the heroic band of Islam was

complete.

Meanwhile, important events had taken

place in the Caliphate. The aged Moawyah,

forecasting the end of his career, named Yezid

as his successor, this act was in violation of

the precedent established by Mohammed and

observed by Abu Beker, Omar, and Othman.

It was a direct effort on the part of Moawyah

to make the crown of Islam hereditary in his