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1145 MOHAMMEDAN ASCENDENCY-OMMIADES AND FATIMITES.

until a new ruler could be legally elected.

This action, however, was soon repented.

The people of Cufa, still remembering the

atrocious conduct of Obeidallah in the murder of Hosein, rejected his claims with disdain; and the inhabitants of Bassora, turning

upon their own creature, drove him from

power. He was obliged to disguise himself

as a woman and fly for his life. He escaped

into Syria, and perceiving the present hopelessness of his situation, gave his influence

to Merwan and aided in his election to the

Caliphate. This adherence of Obeidallah to

the cause of the Ornmiades was one of the

circumstances which led to the defection of

Babylonia and the transfer of the allegiance

of that country to Abdallah, Caliph of the

West.

The accession of Merwan was thus recognized only in Syria, and among the Syrians

themselves a strong party arose in opposition

to his claims. The leader of the disaffected

was a certain chieftain named Dehac Ibn

Kais, recently governor of Cufa, who sympathizing with the politics of the people of

his former province, declared for Abdallah

and raised an army to support his pretensions. Merwan at once took the field against

his Syrian enemies, and a bloody battle

was fought, in which Dehac was killed and

his army cut to pieces. Merwan returned

in triumph to Damascus, and began his administration from the palace of Moawyah

and Yezid.

The great age of the Caliph and the general suspicion that he would attempt to

violate the agreement respecting the succession led to a movement on the part of the

authorities of Damascus to secure a guaranty.

They demanded that Merwan should marry

the widow of Yezid, and thus place himself close to the young Khaled. He

complied with reluctance; but in order to

extricate himself as far as possible from the

complication, he raised an army and set out

on an expedition against Egypt. The campaign was attended with success, and the

party of Abdallah was overthrown in that

province.

Merwan then returned to Damascus. But

scarcely had he reached the capital when

news came that Musab, the brother of the

Western Caliph, was marching upon Egypt to

recover what was lost. A second time the Syrian army, led by Amru, the son of Saad,

marched against the Egyptians, and another

hard fought battle resulted in a complete victory for Merwan and the reestablishment of

his authority in the valley of the Nile. He

appointed his son Abdalaziz governor of the

conquered country, and again returned to the

capital of Syria.

In the mean time the people of Khorassan,

disgusted with the quarrels of the rival Caliphs, chose for their governor Salem, the son

of Ziyad, who was to act as regent of the

province until what time the political affairs

of the Caliphate should be settled. While

Khorassan was thus virtually made independent, the people of Cufa, long ill at ease

on account of the murder of Hosein, sought

by repentance to make their peace with

the Fatimites. A society was organized,

called The Penitents, embracing in its membership the principal men of the state. The

whole movement had for its ulterior design

the restoration of the House of Ali to the

undivided sovereignty of Islam. The leader

of the revolutionary party was Solyman Ibn

Sorad, who had been one of the companions

of the Prophet. An army was mustered,

which, after passing a day and night in

prayer on the spot where Hosein was murdered, began its march into Syria. But before Solyman reached Damascus, Obeidallah

came forth at the head of twenty thousand

men and scattered the revolutionists to the

four winds.

It will be remembered how the hero Acbah,

on the far off plains of Numidia, was overpowered and destroyed by the Moorish host

led by Abu Cahina. The latter, after his

victory, pressed on to Caerwan where he began a

siege. At this juncture, however, reinforcements arrived, sent out from Egypt by Abdalaziz, the recently appointed governor.

Every thing looked to the speedy repulse of

Cahina and the restoration of Moslem authority in Northern Africa. But in the mean

time the sleepy court of Constantinople had

aroused itself to action and dispatched an Imperial army to make common cause with the

Moors in the expulsion of the Mohammedans.

Against these combined forces of Christianity

and barbarism, Zobeir, the governor of Caerwan,

made a desperate but ineffectual resistance.

The Moslems were defeated in battle and

driven back to Barca. Caerwan was assaulted