Sulayman bin Abd al-Malik (Arabic: سليمان بن عبد
الملك) (c. 674 – 22 September 717) was an
Umayyad caliph who
ruled from 715 until 717. His father was Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, and
he was a younger brother of the previous caliph, al-Walid I.
1 Early years
2 Assumption of power as caliph and his appointments
3 Policies as caliph
4 Naming of his successor
Under the rule of his brother al-Walid he had been the governor of
Palestine. In the tribal politics of the
Near East at that time
(the Qays-Yaman conflict) he allied himself to the Yamanis. When Yazid
ibn al-Muhallab escaped from al-Hajjaj, he made his way to Sulayman in
Palestine. Sulayman granted him refuge. Al-Hajjaj pressed al-Walid
about this and the caliph commanded Sulayman to send him Yazid in
chains. Sulayman had his own son chained to Yazid approach al-Walid
and present Sulayman's forcefully written letter insisting on
sanctuary for Yazid. Al-Walid accepted this and so informed al-Hajjaj.
Assumption of power as caliph and his appointments
Sulayman was hailed as caliph on February 23, 715, the day al-Walid
died. He appointed
Yazid ibn al-Muhallab governor of Mesopotamia
(Iraq) and Salih ibn Abd al-Rahman financial administrator there.
Salih was also instructed to arrest and execute the family of
al-Hajjaj, one of two prominent leaders (the other was Qutaibah bin
Muslim) who had supported the succession of al-Walid's son Yazid,
rather than Sulayman. Al-Hajjaj had predeceased al-Walid, so he was no
longer alive to pose a threat. However his nephew, Muhammad bin Qasim
had to be eliminated by Sulayman in order to safeguard his own rule.
Qutaibah was considerably alarmed at the ascension of Sulayman to the
throne. He first sent an envoy to the caliph with letters asserting
his loyalty as he was loyal to previous caliphs, urging Sulayman not
to replace Qutaibah as governor of Khurasan with Yazid ibn al-Muhallab
and, finally, if the envoy saw Sulayman favouring Yazid, with
Qutaibah's renunciation of allegiance to Sulayman. Sulayman sent the
envoy back with a confirmation of Qutaibah's governorship. However,
Qutaibah had already attempted to rebel. Qutaibah's troops rejected
his appeal to revolt, killed him and sent his head to Sulayman.
Yazid ibn al-Muhallab governor of Khurasan. Yazid
was happy to escape the financial strictness of Salih ibn Abd
al-Rahman in Mesopotamia (Iraq).
Policies as caliph
As he remained close to the Yamanis, Sulayman did not move to Damascus
on becoming Caliph, but rather he remained in
Ramla in Palestine. His
Khurasani governor Yazid continued expansion into mountainous parts of
Iran such as Tabaristan. Sulayman also sent a large army under Maslama
ibn Abd al-Malik to attack the Byzantine capital, Constantinople. This
was a determined attack that lasted through the winter. The caliph's
armies also advanced beyond Byzantine territory and took a Slavic
stronghold. The siege of
Constantinople occasioned hunger inside
the city and among the besiegers. After the intervention of Bulgaria
on Byzantine side it ultimately proved to be unsuccessful. Sulayman
was on his way to attack the Byzantine border when he died in 717.
Sulayman led a conquest of
Dahlak Archipelago from Kingdom of Aksum,
which became caliphate territory from that point on, although later
recovered in the 9th century and vassal to the Emperor of Ethiopia.
In the domestic scene, he had wells built in
Mecca for pilgrims, and
organized enforcement of prayers. Sulayman was known for his
exceptional oratory skills and was fondly remembered.
Naming of his successor
In A.H. 98 (716–717) Sulayman named his son Ayyub heir to the
throne. However, Ayyub died that same year. Sulayman considered naming
a son to replace him. However, he received advice that it was
uncertain the son fighting at
Constantinople was still alive and
others were too young. So, he passed these over, broke with tradition
by not maintaining a hereditary dynasty and appointed Umar ibn Abd
al-Aziz as his successor. Umar had a reputation as being one of the
most wise, capable and pious persons of that era. This appointment is
rare, although it technically fulfils the
Islamic method of
appointing a successor, whereas hereditary succession does not.
Sulayman donned an impressive green robe and turban and seeing himself
in the mirror commented on how he looked to be in the prime of life. A
week later he was dead. He died on either September 22 or October 1,
717. Al-Tabari records the following anecdote: "According to
'Ali--Suhaym b. Hafs: A slave girl belonging to Sulayman looked at him
one day, and he asked, "How do you like what you see?" She recited:
You are the best object of delight—if only you would last./ But man
does not possess immortality.
I do not know of any blemish in you / that other people have, except
that you will pass away.
He was entombed at Dabiq following his death. The tomb was destroyed
after the ISIS' takeover of the town in August 2014.
^ Dr. Eli Munif Shahla, "Al-Ayam al-Akhira fi Hayat al-Kulafa", Dar
al-Kitab al-Arabi, 1st ed., 1998, p. 236
^ Crone 1980, p. 125.
^ re Qutaibah, al-Tabari v. 24 pp 5–25, head 30
^ al-Tabari v. 24, p. 42
^ Daniel Kendie, The Five Dimensions of the Eritrean Conflict
1941–2004: Deciphering the Geo-Political Puzzle. United States of
America: Signature Book Printing, Inc., 2005, pp.228.
^ al-Tabari v. 24, p. 62
^ Atyya, Bassam. Political Thought of Ibn Taymiya (in Arabic) (1st
ed.). Amman: Yaqut. p. 169. , page 169
^ Ibn Hazm. Al-fasl fil al-Milal wal-Nihal (in Arabic), page 28
^ v. 24 p. 63
Crone, Patricia (1980). Slaves on horses: the evolution of the Islamic
polity. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.
Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari, v. 23 The Zenith of the Marwanid House,
transl. Martin Hinds, Suny, Albany, 1990; v. 24 The Empire in
Transition, transl. David Stephan Powers, Suny, Albany, 1989
Sulayman ibn Abd al-Malik
Born: 674 Died: 22 September 717
Sunni Islam titles
Al-Walid ibn Abd al-Malik
Caliph of Islam
715 – 22 September 717
Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz
Caliphs of Damascus
Emirs of Córdoba
Abd al-Rahman I
Abd ar-Rahman II
Caliphs of Córdoba
Abd ar-Rahman IV
Ali ibn Hammud al-Nasir[H]
Al-Qasim al-Ma'mun ibn Hammud[H]
Yahya ibn Ali al-Mu'tali[H]
Al-Qasim al-Ma'mun ibn Hammud[H]
Abd ar-Rahman V
Yahya ibn Ali al-Mu'tali[H]
[H] indicates Hammudid usurpers
ISNI: 0000 0000 9044 1774