Waleed The Great Umayyad Caliph

Al Waleed - I

After the death of the Umayyad Caliph, Abdul Malik, in 705 A.C.,his highly talented son, Waleed,succeeded him. In Waleed's rule the Arab caliphate was extended to its farthest limits which included Spain and Southern France in the West, Sind, Baluchistan and Southern Punjab in the East and Transoxiana and Turkistan in the North. Three of the greatest Muslim conquerors, Tariq, Qasim and Qutaiba, swept away all resistence faced in these lands.

Waleed was born in 651 A.C. He grew up amidst the increasing luxury and aristocracy of the Ummayads. The artistic taste which he ha developed from his childhood which led him to become the greatest builder of the Umayyad dynasty that ruled in Damascus

At hardly 54, he introduced aristocratic outlook and religous fervour, whcha was known highly meagre in his predecessors.

Waleed's reign is reflected as the golden period of the Umayyad Caliphate highly known for its all round progress. He undertook an unprecedented career of conquest in three directions which extended the Arab rule to its widest limits. He established a just and wise administration which allowed him to commit himself to welfare works.

Waleed appointed his cousin Umar bin Abdul Aziz, as Governor of Hejaz. The newly appointed Governor set up a council of jurists and notables of Madina. All the administrative matters were discussed by them. He revolutionarised and beautified Makkah and Madina, renovated the Mosque of the Prophet, revamped roads and tried to erase signs of all the haram acts which were commited in the holy city during the caliphate of the previous ummayyad caliphs. He was such a just and wise adminstrator that people stared to migrate from the tyrannic rule of Hajjaj bin yousaf, the viceroy of Iraq. Hajjaj, who had become a legend of tyranny in the history of Islam, was an exceptionally capable Administrator who established himself firmly the Umayyad rule among the fickle-minded Iraqis. He was vexed by the relocation of a large number of Iraqis to Hejaz. At the nagging of Hajjaj, Waleed withdrew Umar bin Abdul Aziz from his post because of universal mourning. 

Waleed's stardom rests on the astounding Muslim victories which extended the extremities of the Umayyad Empire from the peaks of Pyrenees in the West to the walls of China within the East and from Kashgar within the North to the source of the Nile in the South.

Qutaiba bin Muslim Baheli, The Modharite Chief, who had been appointed as the Deputy Governor of Khurasan was a brilliant strategist and General. He conquered Transoxiana and overwhelmed the whole of Central Asia up to the confines of Kashgar. He captured the important cities of Bukhara, Samarkand and Farghana.

The Baluchistan, Sind and Southern Punjab territories were seized by Muhammad bin Qasim, the youngest General in history, who through a renowned military campaign defeated the mightiest Indian ruler of the time, Raja Dahir of Debal. Through a lightning march along the Indus valley he annihilated all resistance faced in the way and in less than two years conquered the whole lower Indus valley up to Multan. Muhammad bin Qasim captured a major portion of Southern Punjab and invaded as far as the Beas. He set up an intelligent and kind hearted Administration in the conquered territory because of which his muslim subjects loved him equally as his non muslim subjects did. Maslamah, Waleed's brother, who was the Captain-General of Muslim forces in Asia , captured many important cities and invaded a large part of Asia Minor.

But the greatest military campaign in Waleed's time was launched in NorthWestern Africa and Spain-under the able leadership of Musa bin Nusair, a Yemeni, and his able lieutenant Tariq bin Ziyad. Musa, son of Nusair, was the Umayyad Viceroy of Africa. He put down the Berber rebellion with a robust hand and pacified the entire North African territory. The Muslim settlements were harassed by the Byzantines from the Mediterranean. Musa, thus, sent out expeditions, which captured the Majorca, Minorca and Ivica islands , which soon came to thrive under the Muslim rule.

Whilst Africa was enjoying peace and prosperity under the benevolent Muslim rule, Spain was sobbing under the feet of the Goths. The Gothic King, Roderick, had harassed his Governor Julian's daughter, Florinda. The Governor invited Musa to liberate Spain from Roderick. Musa despatched his lieutenant, Tariq, with alittle force for the aim.

Tariq, son of Ziyad, an able lieutenant of Musa, landed on April 30, 711 A.C. together with his small force at the Rock which now bears his name. He ordered his men to burn their boats and thus ended all hopes of their return. A fierce battle took place on Sept, 711 A.C., on the boundary of the Guadalquivir, in which Roderick's heavy forces were met by the small Muslim force led by Tariq. Roderick was drowned in the Guadalquivir.

This memorable victory had a huge moral effect . Gothic Spain threw open its gates City after city to the Muslim Conqueror. Tariq divided his army into four corps which moved in Spain in four directions. In June 712 A.C., Musa and the two Muslim conquerors joined  Tariq. Leaving Tariq in Spain, Musa entered France and soon captured a large part of Southern France. Standing on the mountains of  Pyrenees, the brave commander conceived the conquest of whole of Europe and in all possible he would have done so, but Waleed called them back because he felt cautious. The West completely lay at his feet. This hesitant policy of the Umayyads really deprived the muslim rule from capturing the whole of Europe. As its result, Europe remained captured in darkness for the next eight centuries.

The recall of Musa and tariq proved to be the most disasterous for the cause of islam in the west the conquest of Spain by Muslims erected there an era of unchallenged peace and prosperity which, in later years, gave birth to a strong Muslim civilization that removed the darkness that had captured Mediaeval Europe.

Waleed is known for his artistic skills in Umayyad dynasty. Grand Mosque of Damascus was built by him, he enlarged and beautified the mosques in Madina and Jerusalem. Under his direction mosques were constructed in each and every city. He embellished the Capital city of Damascus with astonishing buildings, luxurious gardens and fountains. The city had broad roads lined with large shady trees. He constructed fortresses for the protection of the borders and constructed sank wells throughout his Empire. He established proper hospitals and schools, orphanages and houses for the poor people. He created asylums for blind people, the crippled and the insane where they were admitted and looked after by doctors that were appointed by the government. 

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