Abd Allah ibn Yazid

Abd Allah ibn Yazid
  • Atika bint Abd Allah ibn Mu'awiya I
  • Umm Kulthum bint Anbasa ibn Abi Sufyan
  • A'isha bint Sa'id ibn Uthman
  • Umm Uthman bint Sa'id ibn al-As
  • Umm Musa bint Amr al-Ashdaq ibn Sa'id ibn al-As
  • A'isha bint Zabban from Banu Kalb
FatherYazid I
MotherUmm Kulthum bint Abd Allah ibn Amir
OccupationMilitary commander
Military career
AllegianceUmayyad Caliphate
Battles/warsBattle of Maskin (691)
RelationsMu'awiya I (grandfather)
Yazid I (father)
Mu'awiya II (brother)
Abd al-Malik (brother-in-law)
Khalid (brother)
Atikah (sister)

ʿAbd Allāh ibn Yazīd ibn Muʿāwiya ibn Abī Sufyān (Arabic: عبدالله بن يزيد بن معاوية بن أبي سفيان), commonly known as al-Uswār, was an Umayyad prince from the Sufyanid line of the dynasty. He was the son of Caliph Yazid I (r. 680–683). After the death of his brother, Caliph Mu'awiya II, in 684, he and his brother, Khalid ibn Yazid, were deemed too young to succeed by the pro-Umayyad tribes of Syria and Umayyad rule was vested in the line of a distant kinsman, Marwan I (r. 684–685). Abd Allah was a famed archer and horseman and commanded part of the army which took over Iraq from anti-Umayyad forces during the Second Fitna in 691.


Genealogical tree of the Sufyanids, the ruling family to which Abd Allah belonged

Abd Allah was the son of the Umayyad caliph Yazid I (r. 680–683) and his wife Umm Kulthum, the daughter of the veteran commander Abd Allah ibn Amir of the Banu Abd Shams, the clan to which the Umayyad family belonged.

After the deaths of Yazid and his eldest son and successor, Mu'awiya II, in 683 and 684, Umayyad rule collapsed across the Caliphate. Most of the provinces and the military districts of Syria, the metropolitan province of the Umayyads, recognized the anti-Umayyad Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr of Mecca as caliph. The Banu Kalb, old tribal allies of the Sufyanids (the line of Umayyads descended from Yazid's father, founder of the Umayyad Caliphate Mu'awiya I) under whom they held privileged positions in the caliphal court, rallied the Umayyad loyalist tribes in Syria to appoint Mu'awiya II's replacement. In the recriminations in Damascus between supporters and opponents of the Umayyads, the governor Dahhak ibn Qays al-Fihri, who backed Ibn al-Zubayr, arrested Yazid's cousin Walid ibn Utba ibn Abi Sufyan, but he was freed by Abd Allah, his brother Khalid and their Kalbite backers. The chief of the Kalb, Ibn Bahdal, was a cousin of Yazid, and nominated Khalid and Abd Allah as his candidates for caliphal office. He was opposed by the other loyalist tribesmen due to Khalid and Abd Allah's young ages. Instead, a distant Umayyad relative, Marwan ibn al-Hakam, was appointed and led the Umayyad war efforts against the pro-Zubayrid tribes in Syria, defeating their leader Dahhak at the Battle of Marj Rahit in 684.

Abd Allah was known as the "finest archer of the Arabs of his time", according to the historian al-Tabari (d. 923). He was called "al-Uswar", from the Persian word for "horseman". Al-Tabari quoted an unnamed poet as saying of Abd Allah:

The people claim that the best of all Quraysh [the tribe of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and all the caliphs]
when they are mentioned is al-Uswār.

Marwan was succeeded by his son Abd al-Malik, voiding the previous succession arrangements whereby Khalid was heir apparent, followed by another Umayyad, Amr al-Ashdaq ibn Sa'id ibn al-As. The latter led an attempted coup against Abd al-Malik in Damascus in 689, which the Caliph squashed. Abd Allah was married to al-Ashdaq's daughter and counselled him not to respond to summons following the failed coup. Al-Ashdaq dismissed his brother-in-law's concerns and met with the Caliph, who had him executed. Abd Allah later served as the commander of the right wing of Caliph Abd al-Malik's army when it wrested control of Iraq from the Zubayrids in the Battle of Maskin in 691. His brother Khalid commanded the left wing.

Marriages and children

Abd Allah was married to his cousin Atika, the daughter of Yazid's brother Abd Allah. He was married to another Sufyanid kinswoman, Umm Kulthum, the daughter of Mu'awiya I's brother Anbasa ibn Abi Sufyan. Other Umayyad wives of Abd Allah included A'isha, the daughter of Sa'id ibn Uthman (a son of Caliph Uthman) and Ramla bint Abi Sufyan. He was also wed to Umm Uthman, the daughter of a distant Umayyad kinsman, Sa'id ibn al-As, after the death of her first husband, Khalid ibn Amr, a grandson of Caliph Uthman. With Umm Uthman, Abd Allah had his sons Abu Utba and Abu Sufyan (or Abu Aban according to al-Baladhuri). He later married Umm Uthman's niece, Umm Musa, who was the daughter of Amr al-Ashdaq ibn Sa'id ibn al-As. Abd Allah was also wed to a woman of the Banu Kalb tribe, A'isha bint Zabban.

One of Abd Allah's daughters was married to Caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik (r. 724–743). Abd Allah's son Ziyad (known as Abu Muhammad al-Sufyani) was a Damascus-based commander in the service of Hisham's successor al-Walid II and later proclaimed himself caliph and led a rebellion in Syria against the Abbasids.

This page was last updated at 2023-08-12 02:39 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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