Khalid ibn Yazid

Abū Hāshim Khālid ibn Yazīd ibn Muʿāwiya ibn Abī Sufyān (Arabic: أبو هاشم خالد بن يزيد بن معاوية بن أبي سفيان‎) (ca. 668–704) was an Umayyad prince, commander and one-time candidate for the caliphal throne. As a son of Caliph Yazid I and brother of Caliph Mu'awiya II, Khalid was supported by powerful elements of the pro-Umayyad Syrian tribes of Kalb and Kinda to succeed Mu'awiya II in the wake of his death and the outbreak of the Second Muslim Civil War, which saw the Umayyad domains largely overtaken by supporters of the non-Umayyad, Caliph Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr. Ultimately, Marwan I, a senior Umayyad from another branch of the clan, was chosen as caliph by the Syrians, thus ending the rule of the Sufyanid household to which Khalid belonged. Despite this, he forged close ties with Marwan's son and successor, Caliph Abd al-Malik, who appointed him to successive administrative and military roles. After successful campaigns against Ibn al-Zubayr's loyalists in Mesopotamia, Khalid lived the rest of his life in his Homs estate. Later sources turned Khalid into a legendary alchemist, known in the Latin sources as Calid.

Khalid ibn Yazid
خالد بن يزيد
Umayyad Caliphate
Died704 (aged 35–36)
Homs, Umayyad Caliphate
WifeA'isha bint Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan
  • Abd Allah
  • Harb
  • Yazid
Khalid ibn Yazīd ibn Muʿawiyah
MotherFakhita bint Abu Hashim ibn Utba
OccupationCommander, Politician and political adviser of Umayyads
Military career
AllegianceUmayyad Caliphate
Service/branchUmayyad army
Years of servicec. 690s-704
RelationsMu'awiya I (grandfather)
Yazid I (father)
Mu'awiya II (brother)
Abd al-Malik (brother-in-law)


Genealogical tree of the Sufyanids, the ruling family of the Umayyad Caliphate, to which Khalid belonged

Khalid was likely born in circa 668 and was a son of the Umayyad caliph, Yazid I (r. 680–683), and Fakhita bint Abu Hashim ibn Utba,[1] who belonged to the Rabi'a line of the Banu Abd Shams clan of the Quraysh; the Umayyads belonged to the Umayya line of this same clan. At the time of his brother Caliph Mu'awiya II's death in early 684, Khalid was still a minor.[1] Umayyad authority had collapsed across the caliphate, with most provinces recognizing the suzerainty of the Mecca-based caliph Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr. Likewise, in the Umayyads' stronghold of Syria, the Qaysi tribes in the north and the dominant factions of Homs and Palestine recognized Ibn al-Zubayr. Loyalist tribes, namely the Banu Kalb and their allies who dominated Jordan and Damascus, strove to preserve Umayyad rule and by extension, their financial and military privileges. Thus, Khalid was proposed as Mu'awiya II's successor by the Kalbi chieftain Ibn Bahdal, but this was opposed by the other tribal nobles due to Khalid's young age and inexperience.[2]

When their father's paternal first cousin, al-Walid ibn Utba ibn Abi Sufyan, was imprisoned by the pro-Zubayrid governor of Damascus, al-Dahhak ibn Qays al-Fihri, Khalid and his brother Abdallah rallied the Kalb, their father's maternal kinsmen, and freed him.[3] In the weeks after, the loyalist tribes convened in Jabiya to elect a caliph from among the Umayyad dynasty. Though Ibn Bahdal and the Kindite nobleman Malik ibn Hubayra al-Sakuni lobbied for Khalid, viewing him as the most likely to guarantee their privileges due to his blood ties to their tribes, Husayn ibn Numayr al-Sakuni and Rawh ibn Zinba al-Judhami pressed for Marwan ibn al-Hakam, who, though an Umayyad from Medina with no ties to Syria or the loyalist tribes, was the most senior and experienced of the candidates.[4] After a compromise was reached recognizing Khalid as Marwan's successor, a consensus was reached and Marwan acceded.[1][5] To neutralize Khalid and his supporters, Marwan married Khalid's mother.[1][6]

Marwan viewed Khalid as politically weak and removed him from the line of succession in favor of his own son Abd al-Malik.[1] Despite this, close ties developed between Khalid and Abd al-Malik.[1] Khalid became an adviser of the caliph and married his daughter A'isha.[1] In the summer of 691, Khalid was made a commander in Abd al-Malik's siege of the Qaysi leader Zufar ibn al-Harith al-Kilabi in al-Qarqisiya in the Jazira.[1] After this victory, the caliph appointed Khalid commander of his army's left wing at the Battle of Maskin against Mus'ab ibn al-Zubayr, which resulted in the Umayyad conquest of Zubayrid Iraq.[7][8] In the aftermath of the victory, Khalid gave refuge to Zufar's son Hudhayl, who despite his father's recent reconciliation with Abd al-Malik, defected to the Zubayrids. Through Khalid's good offices, Abd al-Malik pardoned Hudhayl.[9]

Khalid spent the rest of his life in Jund Hims (military district of Homs) where he was in charge of a certain amount of territory.[1] He may have engaged in some level of poetry and hadith scholarship, though historian M. Ullmann considers him to have been an "amateur" in the former and "of no importance" in the latter.[1] Khalid died in Homs in 704,[1] and was buried there.[10] In the early 10th century, a third-generation descendant of Khalid, Sa'id ibn Abu Sufyan ibn Harb, was recorded as living in Syria.[11]

Alchemist legendsEdit

Khalid was said by later Islamic sources to have become an alchemist, holding that he ordered scholars from Egypt to translate into Arabic the alchemy, medicine and astronomy works of Greek and Coptic authors, and studied alchemy under a Greek monk known as Maryanos or Stephanos. These anecdotes were not factual and stem from an earlier anecdote, recorded in the work of al-Baladhuri, that Khalid was mocked for surrendering his place in the caliphal succession and was afterward occupied pursuing an impossible task. Ullmann writes that the later legend emerged due to an interpretation that Khalid's "impossible" pursuit was alchemy. The later sources attached Khalid's name to various alchemical works, including K. Firdaws al-ḥikma.[1] Medieval Latin sources later attributed a number of alchemical treatises to a certain Calid filius Jazidi.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Ullmann, p. 929.
  2. ^ Hawting 1989, pp. 50–51.
  3. ^ Hawting 1989, p. 52.
  4. ^ Hawting 1989, pp. 56–57.
  5. ^ Hawting 1989, p. 58.
  6. ^ Hawting 1989, p. 59.
  7. ^ Fishbein 1990, p. 179.
  8. ^ Ahmed 2010, p. 118.
  9. ^ Fishbein 1990, p. 192.
  10. ^ Le Strange 1896, p. 356.
  11. ^ Ahmed 2010, p. 112.


  • Ahmed, Asad Q. (2010). The Religious Elite of the Early Islamic Ḥijāz: Five Prosopographical Case Studies. Oxford: University of Oxford Linacre College Unit for Prosopographical Research. ISBN 978-1-900934-13-8.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Hawting, G.R., ed. (1989). The History of al-Ṭabarī, Volume XX: The Collapse of Sufyānid Authority and the Coming of the Marwānids: The Caliphates of Muʿāwiyah II and Marwān I and the Beginning of the Caliphate of ʿAbd al-Malik, A.D. 683–685/A.H. 64–66. SUNY Series in Near Eastern Studies. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0-88706-855-3.
  • Ullmann, M. (1978). "Khālid b. Yazīd b. Muʿāwiya". In van Donzel, E.; Lewis, B.; Pellat, Ch. & Bosworth, C. E. (eds.). The Encyclopaedia of Islam, New Edition, Volume IV: Iran–Kha. Leiden: E. J. Brill. pp. 929–930. OCLC 758278456.