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Umayyad Dynasty
  • The shift in power to Damascus, the Umayyad capital city, was to have profound effects on the development of Islamic history.
  • With the advent of the Umayyads and the expansion of the Islamic state, state administration was developed, sometimes adopting mechanisms from other cultures Muslims came into contact with.
  • There were many great achievements during this dynasty?s reign of power.

1.      Stability within the empire by the introduction of reforms by Caliph Abd Al-Malik:
He directed the cleaning and reopening of the canals that irrigated the Tigris-Euphrates Valley - a key to the prosperity of Mesopotamia since the time of the Sumerians.
He introduced the use of the Indian water buffalo in the riverine marshes.
He also minted a standard coinage, which replaced the Byzantine, and Sassanid coins.
Abd Al-Malik also established a system of postal routes to expedite his communications throughout the far-flung empire.
Most important of all, he introduced Arabic as the language of administration, replacing Greek and Pahlavi.

2.      Expansion of the Islamic Empire:
To the east they extended their influence into Transoxania, an area north of the Oxus River in today's Soviet Union, and went on to reach the borders of China.
To the west, they took North Africa, in a continuation of the campaign led by 'Uqbah ibn Nafi' who founded the city of Kairouan - in what is now Tunisia.
These territorial acquisitions brought the Arabs into contact with previously unknown ethnic groups who embraced Islam and would later influence the course of Islamic history.
Umayyad expansion also reached the ancient civilisation of India, whose literature and science greatly enriched Islamic culture.

3.      Architectural accomplishments:
Some of the most beautiful existing buildings in the Muslim world were constructed at their instigation - buildings such as the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

The End of Power:

The Umayyads, during the ninety years of their leadership, rarely shook off their empire's reputation as a mulk - that is, a worldly kingdom - and in the last years of the dynasty their opponents formed a secret organisation devoted to pressing the claims to the caliphate put forward by a descendant of al-'Abbas ibn 'Abd al-Muttalib, an uncle of the Prophet (pbuh).

Marwan ibn Muhammad, the last Umayyad caliph, was defeated and the Syrians, still loyal to the Umayyads, fled. Only one man of importance escaped the disaster - 'Abd al-Rahman ibn Mu'awiyah al-Dakhil, a young prince who-with a loyal servant-fled to Spain and in 756 set up an Umayyad Dynasty there.

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