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1147 MOHAMMEDAN ASCENDENCY-OMMIADES AND FATIMITES.

to Mecca and espoused the cause of Abdallah,

where he fought with great bravery until

the death of Yezid occasioned the raising

of the siege. Afterwards he went to Cufa

and became an agent in the organization of

a band of Penitents. With the overthrow of

that sect he was again imprisoned, but was

released on the death of Merwan. He then

went into Arabia, and became recognized as

one of the strongest supporters of the House

of Ali. At the head of a body of avengers

he fell upon and destroyed Shamar, who had

commanded in the massacre of Hosein and

his friends. He slew Caulah, another of that

band, and burned his body in his own dwelling. Others of the enemies of Hosein met a

similar fate, until the larger number were

destroyed.

Al Moktar established himself in Cufa and

extended his authority over all Babylonia.

The attitude which he here assumed was such

as to bring upon him the hostility of both the

Caliphs. They accordingly made preparations

to suppress him by force. Al Moktar entered

into a correspondence with Mohammed, half-brother of Hosein, then residing at Mecca,

but could not induce him to do any thing

disloyal to Abdallah. But the suspicions of

the Western Caliph were excited, and Mohammed and his friends were thrown into

prison. Al Moktar now advanced with a

small army of horsemen to release his friends

by force. The assailants made their way into

Mecca, broke open the prison, and set the son

of Ali at liberty. The frightened Caliph, however, was permitted to remain in authority,

and Al Moktar returned to Cufa to defend

himself against Obeidallah, who was approaching at the head of a Syrian army. The latter was encountered a short distance from the

city, and utterly routed by the forces of the

Avenger. Obeidallah was killed, and a

large part of his followers destroyed in the

flight. When the head of the slain emir was

carried to Al Moktar, he struck the bloody

face a terrible blow, as if to repay the stroke

which he had himself received from Obeidallah, and by which one of his eyes had been

destroyed.

The Avenger was thus left victorious

at Cufa. A combination, however, was

soon formed against him, and armies were

mustered to besiege his capital; but Al Moktar marched forth boldly to meet his enemies in the open field. A battle was fought, in

which he was defeated and driven into the

citadel. Here, with about seven thousand

men, he defended himself till he was slain.

Thereupon the garrison surrendered to Musab,

the general of Abdallah, and every man

was put to the sword. The enemies of the

house of Ornmiah were avenged on the

Avenger.

By the victory thus gained over Al Moktar the province of Babylonia became a dependency of the Western Caliphate. Musab, the governor, was the brother of Abdallah,

and Abdalmalec perceived that in order to

maintain his authority he must reconquer the

country on the Euphrates. He accordingly

mustered a large army, and leaving Amru

as his regent at Damascus, set out on an

expedition into Babylonia. No sooner, however, had the army departed than Amru,

cherishing the memory of the wrongs which

he had suffered at the hands of Merwan,

usurped the vacant seat of the Caliph and

undertook to perpetuate his authority. Hearing of this flagrant proceeding, Abdalmalec

returned to Damascus, put the usurper to

death, and drove his family into exile. The

Caliph then again departed on his Babylonian

campaign. A battle was fought with the

Cufians, near the city of Palmyra, in which

the army of Musab was completely routed.

The emir and his son were both among the

slain.

It is narrated that when. the head of

Musab was carried to the Caliph an aged

patriarch living in the castle took up his

burden and said: "I am fourscore and ten

years old, and have outlived many generations. In this very castle I have seen the head

of Hosein presented to Obeidallah, the son of

Ziyad; then the head of Obeidallah to Al

Moktar; then the head of Al Moktar to

Musab, and now that of Musab to yourself."

Determining that the fifth act should not be

added by the presentation of his own head to

another within that castle, Abdalmalec ordered the noble edifice to be leveled to the

ground. Having done so much at the dictation of superstition he appointed his brother

Besner and the prince Khaled to be governors

of Babylonia and Bassora, and then returned

to Damascus.

The next difficulty in which the Eastern

Caliphate was involved was with a sect of