• Sons of the Muhājirūn: Some comments on Ibn al-Zubayr and Legitimizing Power in Seventh-Century Islamic History

    Ryan J. Lynch (see profile)
    Islam, History
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    Islamic history, Early Islam
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    The second Islamic civil war, or fitna, divided the early Islamic community from the years 680-692CE/60-73AH and had as one of its central figures the character of ‘Abd Allāh b. al-Zubayr. He has long been treated in western scholarship as a usurper or “counter-Caliph” to the rightful leadership of the Umayyad Caliph ‘Abd al-Malik b. Marwān. The extant Islamic sources, however, are divided in their depiction of him: some treat him as a pious and saintly combatant against Umayyad depravity, while others characterize him as self-indulgent, ruthless, and a pretender to the lineage of the Prophet Muḥammad. Ibn al-Zubayr was the son of an established Companion of the Prophet, and had himself borne witness to the Prophet Muḥammad and his revelation as a young member of the new Islamic community. More importantly, he came from a family line that included not only other prestigious early Caliphs and converts, but also the wives of Muḥammad, Khadīja and ‘Aisha, and the grandfather of Muḥammad, ‘Abd al-Muṭṭalib. Scholarship has largely ignored the questions surrounding his connection with the Prophet as well as this status as a legitimizing force in his establishment of power during the fitna, choosing often to focus on issues of sacred geography instead. This paper concerns itself with the rise to power of Ibn al-Zubayr and his Caliphate, and how he may have legitimized his right to rule over other rivals through his genealogical relationship with Muḥammad.
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    3 years ago
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