The second Caliph of the Ummayad Dynasty was widely considered to be the greatest ruler to have ever ruled Arabia. When his father's economic vision for Arabia was cut short by his untimely murder, Al Wahdiq took it upon himself to continue it. Here he met with early failure for he was not the administrator and businessman his father was, but he soon found his talents to be on the battlefield where he became known as the Sword of Allah.
Al Wahdiq The Sword of Allah
Son of a Merchant
Al-Wahdiq was born in 632 AD as the son of Uthman, relative of the prophet Mohammed, and the most powerful Sheikh merchant in Arabia. He grew up close to the hierarchy of Muslim society so he was well placed to succeed.
The Rise of the Ummayads
His father, Uthman, was elected Caliph in 650 AD. Uthman had a revolutionary vision for Arabia and saw it as a world leader in culture and economics. He was a keen business man and sought to give everyone an equal chance to succeed. However, his fellow Sheikhs did not share these benevolent attitudes and in 653 AD this cost Uthman his life.
The Sheikhs elected Uthman's son, Al-Wahdiq, as his successor. At 21 years old, they presumed he would be a pushover, they were wrong. Al-Wahdiq knew who had ordered his father's assassination and immediately set to work eliminating the corrupt Sheikhs. The last of the conspirators, the leader, Malik-Tut, was executed in 658 AD. To show that his dynasty was to be the greatest that would ever rule Arabia, he constructed a city near the ruins of Ctesiphon called Hifez.
Al-Wahdiq sought to continue his father's vision but he wasn't so keen an economist and many of his economic reforms met with failure. This led to many rebellions in the outer provinces. Al-Wahdiq may not have been an effective or popular ruler, but he was a brilliant strategist and commander. The last rebellion against him, in 662 AD, was put down so ruthlessly that nobody dared speak out against him again. It was then he earned the name The Sword of Allah.
He was hated by many people for his cruel repressions and economic failures and he was desperately unhappy about it. He wanted to be seen as a wise and benevolent ruler as his father had been. To take the population's mind off his failures at home, Al-Wahdiq turned his attentions abroad.
In 665 AD, Al-Wahdiq began attacking the Kushans in Afghanistan. They could not present much of a challenge to him and the following year he captured their capital, Kabul.
In 668 AD, Al-Wahdiq set his sights on a greater prize, the Khazar Khanate of Uzbekistan. After a crushing early victory at Samarkand, the war progressed at a slower pace. By 670 AD, the Khazars were verging on defeat, but the timely entry into the war by the Byzantines forced Al-Wahdiq to move most of his combat troops west to face this much more serious threat.
For three years Al-Wahdiq skirmished with the mighty Byzantine legions. Neither side could find a weakness in the other. On the eastern front, Al-Wahdiq's generals were starting to have problems with the Khazars who had regrouped and now were under new leadership. In 673 AD, the Byzantines broke the deadlock by turning south and sacking Mecca. This spurned Al-Wahdiq into action and in 674 AD he besieged Antioch. After five days besieging the defenders, Al-Wahdiq was driven off by a relief army. He saw that he could never defeat the Byzantines as their troop reserves were too deep so he settled for peace. He then directed all his wrath against the Khazars and destroyed them in 676 AD. In later life he set up prosperous trading posts with his new allies, the Byzantines. These provided the economic success that he had strived for all his life. Sadly, that life was almost finished.
In 682 AD, Al-Wahdiq turned 50. His life of campaigning was beginning to tell on his ageing body. In 684 AD, at the age of 52, he passed away. He was entombed in a grand mausoleum in his city of Hifez, bulit with the winnings from his eastern conquests. The funeral was recorded in great detail and attended by many foreign dignitaries including several Senators from Constantinople! Writing in 1301, from his cave hideout in Persia whilst hunted by Mongol troops, the Muslim scholar Yussuf-alik said that there never was before or after a Muslim ruler that matched the achievements of the great Al-Wahdiq.