Mus'ab ibn al-Zubayr
Mus'ab ibn al-Zubayr (Arabic: مصعب بن الزبير; died 691) was an Arab military commander of the second Islamic civil war. He was a younger brother of Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr and a son of Zubayr ibn al-Awwam, a companion of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. After the establishment of the Mecca-based, counter-caliphate of his brother, he led an unsuccessful campaign against Umayyad-held Palestine. Later he served as governor of Basra from 686 to 691, with brief interruption. He killed the pro-Alid revolutionary Mukhtar al-Thaqafi in 687 and came to control the whole of Iraq. His policies in Iraq caused his removal from the office by his elder brother, but was restored shortly afterwards. He was killed by the Umayyad forces in the Battle of Maskin four years later.
Abu Isa Mus'ab ibn al-Zubayr ibn al-Awam
Dayr al-Jathaliq, Iraq
Second Islamic Civil War
|Known for||Zubayrid governor of Iraq (686-691)|
Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan
|Spouse(s)||A'isha bint Talhah|
Sakinah bint Husayn
|Relatives||Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr (brother)|
Urwah ibn al-Zubayr (brother)
|Battles/wars||Second Islamic Civil War|
Family, early life and careerEdit
Mus'ab was the son of al-Zubayr ibn al-Awwam, a prominent companion of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and mother al-Rabab bint Unayf, a daughter of a chieftain of the Banu Kalb tribe. During the last years of the Umayyad caliph Mu'awiya I (r. 661–680), Mus'ab was part of a group that met together in the mosque of Medina, likely to study religion. The group included, among others, Mus'ab's half-brother Urwa and the later Umayyad caliph, Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan. Mus'ab, like many of his brothers, inherited property from their father in the city's al-Baqi' area and he had a home there.
Mus'ab had several children from a number of wives and slave women (ummahat awlad; sing: umm walad). From one of his wives, a certain Fatima bint Abd Allah, he had his sons Isa al-Kabir, Ukasha and a daughter, Sukayna. He also wed A'isha, a daughter of Talha ibn Ubaydallah, another prominent companion of Muhammad; she mothered his sons Muhammad and Abd Allah. He also had a daughter, al-Rabab, from his wife, Sukayna, a daughter of the Islamic prophet Muhammad's grandson, Husayn ibn Ali From various ummahat awlad, he had the sons Hamza, Asim, Umar, Ja'far, Mus'ab (also known as Khudayr), Sa'd, al-Mundhir, Isa al-Saghir, and a daughter, Sukayna.
Political career and governorship of IraqEdit
With the death of the Umayyad caliph Yazid in November 683, Mus'ab's older half-brother Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr was recognized caliph in most of the caliphate except Syria, where the Umayyad Muawiyah II, and shortly afterwards Marwan, held power. Mus'ab commanded an expedition against Umayyad-held Palestine in 684/685. It was repulsed by the Umayyad prince Amr ibn Sa'id al-Ashdaq. Mus'ab was later appointed as governor of Medina. In 685, the pro-Alid revolutionary Mukhtar al-Thaqafi seized Kufa after expelling its Zubayrid governor. As a result, Zubayrid authority in Iraq was restricted to Basra and its surroundings. At the same time, Kharijite raids in eastern Iraq intensified. To recover Kufa from Mukhtar and defeat the Kharijites, Ibn al-Zubayr appointed Mus'ab governor of Basra in 686. In his inaugural sermon in the mosque he declared: "People of al-Basrah, I have been told that you nickname your commanders. I have named myself 'al-Jazzir' (the Slaughterer)."
Defeat of MukhtarEdit
Previously a Zubayrid ally in the Hejaz, Mukhtar abandoned Ibn al-Zubayr after Yazid's death and returned to his home town Kufa, capturing it from the Zubayrids with his Arab and mawali (non-Arab, Muslim freedmen) supporters. Soon afterwards he crushed a rebellion by Arab tribal nobles resentful of the mawali, resulting in an exodus of some ten thousand Kufans to Basra. Persuaded by the refugees to take immediate action against Mukhtar, Mus'ab discontinued his campaign against the Kharijites and marched on Kufa. In an attempted pre-emptive strike, Mukhtar sent his army to Basra, but it was defeated at the Battle of Madhar, just north of Basra. Mus'ab pursued and annihilated the retreating Kufans in the Battle of Harura, a few miles from Kufa. Mukhtar and his remaining supporters took refuge in the palace of Kufa and were besieged by Mus'ab. Four months later, in April 687, Mukhtar was killed in an attempted sortie. Between 6,000–8,000 of his supporters surrendered, but Mus'ab gave way to pressure from the tribal nobles and executed all of them.
With the defeat of Mukhtar, all of Iraq came under Mus'ab's control. He appointed his commander Muhallab ibn Abi Sufra as governor of Mosul and its dependencies. Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr soon deposed Mus'ab after receiving complaints from the province, and sent his son Hamza as his replacement. The latter proved incompetent and Mus'ab was reinstated.
Standoff with Abd al-MalikEdit
Meanwhile, Marwan died in 685 and was succeeded by his son Abd al-Malik. In the summer of 689, Abd al-Malik marched towards Iraq and camped at Butnan Habib, a border post between Syria and Iraq. Mus'ab awaited him at Bajumayra near Tikrit, but Abd al-Malik abandoned the campaign on receiving the news of Al-Ashdaq's revolt in Damascus. In 690, preparations were again made for war and the two encamped at their respective positions from the previous year. This year too, no fighting took place and the arrival of winter forced them to retreat. Nevertheless, Abd al-Malik sent his agents to Basra to instigate a revolt against Mus'ab. With promises of reward, Abd al-Malik's agents were able to secure significant support, and clashed with pro-Zubayrid forces at a place called Jufra. The battle lasted for several weeks, but the arrival of reinforcements sent by Mus'ab decided it in his favor. Abd al-Malik's supporters, nonetheless, were allowed to withdraw before the arrival of Mus'ab, who, once back in the city, severely punished any remaining Umayyad loyalists.
In 691, Abd al-Malik once again marched on Iraq and camped at Maskin, deep into Iraqi territory. Mus'ab left Kufa and camped at his usual place of Bajumayra. Because of Mus'ab's severity in dealing with Mukhtar and Abd al-Malik's supporters, the Iraqis in general had turned against him and he could not amass a large army. Moreover, half of his troops were left in Basra to protect the city from the Kharijites. Abd al-Malik contacted Mus'ab's commanders and won over most of them with promises of money and governorships. Ibrahim ibn al-Ashtar, who also had been contacted by Abd al-Malik, reported the matter to Mus'ab, suggesting that commanders in correspondence with Abd al-Malik should be executed. Fearing that executing influential tribal nobles would cause revolt in his ranks, Mus'ab did not pay heed to the warning and kept his commanders in their posts. With the death of Ibn al-Ashtar early in the battle, Mus'ab's fate was sealed. The rest of his commanders either refused to fight or defected to Abd al-Malik. Considering his old friendship with Mus'ab, Abd al-Malik offered him amnesty and promised him the governorship of Iraq on the condition of surrender and allegiance. Mus'ab refused and kept fighting almost alone. Severely wounded, he was killed by Za'ida ibn Qudama al-Thaqafi, a follower of Mukhtar, who shouted "Revenge for Mukhtar!". Mus'ab's head was cut off and presented to Abd al-Malik, who lamented his death. He was 36 years old. He was buried in Dayr al-Jathaliq and a mausoleum was built over his grave, which became a pilgrimage site.
He is described to have been very handsome, generous and chivalrous. According to historian Henri Lammens "[H]e resembled his older brother and the Zubayrid family only in his courage and outbursts of severity in repression." According to historian Michael Fishbein and medieval historian Baladhuri, the title al-Jazzir (the butcher) that Mus'ab applied to himself, in fact referred to his habit of slaughtering camels to feed his guests. In Iraq, he built a dyke to prevent the flooding of marshlands, but appropriated the lands thus acquired for himself. He is also reported to have been fond of women. According to Lammens, Mus'ab's elder brother Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr was unmoved by his death, and complained about his philogyny, rudeness and his behavior towards his opponents, whom he would award insulting titles. The account of al-Tabari and Fishbein's commentary thereof, however, describe Abd Allah being deeply saddened by Mus'ab's death and implying his own downfall as a result of this loss.
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