Birthday: July 20, 646
Died At Age: 37
Sun Sign: Cancer
Also Known As: Yazīd ibn Mu‘awiya ibn Abī Sufyān
Born Country: Syrian Arab Republic
Born in: Rif-Dimashq Governorate, Syria
Famous as: Second Caliph of the Umayyad Caliphate
Spouse/Ex-: Umm Khalid Fakhita bint Abi Hisham, Umm Kulthum bint Abd Allah ibn Amir
father: Muawiyah I
mother: Maysun bint Bahdal al-Kulaibi al-Nasrania
children: Abdullah Al Akbar, Abdullah Al Asghar, Abdullah Al Aswar ibn Yazid, Abdullah Asghar Al Asaghir, Abdurrahman ibn Yazid, Abu Bakr ibn Yazid, Abu Sufiane ibn Yazid, Al Rabi ibn Yazid, Atikah bint Yazid, Calid, Harb ibn Yazid, Khalid ibn Yazid, Mohamed ibn Yazid, Omar bin Yazid, Othman ibn Yazid, Ramlah bint Yazid, Um Abdurrahman bint Yazid, Um Mohamed bint Yazid, Um Yazid bint Yazid ibn Muawiya, Utbah ibn Yazid, Yazid ibn Yazid ibn Muawiya
Died on: November 12, 683
place of death: Hawwarin, Syria
Yazid I, also known as Yazīd ibn Muʿāwiyah ibn Abī Sufyān, was the second Caliph of the Umayyad caliphate. He was the first ruler in the Islamic history to be appointed through hereditary succession. Born in Syria to Governor Muawiya ibn Abi Sufyan, who worked under Caliph Uthman, Yazid was raised among the Kalbite tribesmen. He spent most of his teen years among the courtiers of Greek and Syrian descent and learned the basics of politics and ruling. His father became the Caliph in 661 and Yazid earned a place in the court and led several military campaigns against the ‘Byzantine Empire’ and Constantinople. Muawiya became caliph by the end of the ‘first Islamic Civil War,’ following a peace treaty with Hasan Ibn Ali. According to terms of the treaty, he would not nominate a successor, but Muawiya . He nominated Yazid as his heir. This resulted in a strong opposition from Muhammad’s grandson Husayn ibn Ali and Ibn al-Zubayr. He was seen as a tyrant and illegitimate ruler by several Muslims.
Childhood & Early Life
Yazid I was born in 646, in Mecca, which was a part of the Syrian Empire at that time. The place is currently in Saudi Arabia. His parents were Muawiya ibn Abi Sufyan and Bahdal ibn Unayf.
His father hailed from the Banu Umayya Clan from the Quraysh tribe, while his mother hailed from the Banu Kalb tribe. His father was governor of Syria under caliph Uthman and spent most of his time away from his family. As a result of this, Yazid spent most of his early years with his maternal relatives.
During his youth, he spent a lot of time in deserts, mostly during the spring season. He spent rest of the time with the Greek and Syrian courtiers of his father.
Yazid’s father was a strong man who held a prominent place in the court and was the best candidate to become the next caliph. After finishing his primary education, Yazid learned about battles, politics, and general history.
In 661, Yazid’s father became caliph of the Umayyad caliphate. . He entrusted his son with many difficult responsibilities while he was still a teenager. Yazid led several military campaigns against the Byzantine Empire, and also opened an attack on Constantinople in 670.
He was an ardent Muslim and led people to Hajj, the annual Muslim Holy pilgrimage, once every year during his youth. He thus became an extremely popular contender for the empire.
The Islamic world did not believe in hereditary succession, and the best man was supposed to take the throne. Even Yazid’s father was a governor in the court, who was later declared the successor to caliph Uthman. But Muawiya was not interested in following the tradition anymore and prepped his son to take his place after his death.
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Nomination & Reign as Caliph
Muawiya signed a peace treaty (that ended the first Islamic war in 661) with Hasan ibn Ali and became the sole ruler of the Caliphate. Hasan was in control of most of the Caliphate after the death of his father Ali,but as Muslims did not believe in hereditary succession, Muawiya was chosen the successor with the condition that he would not nominate any successor.
Muawiya, however, did not keep his words and in 676, he named his son Yazid as his successor. Muawiya had, however, made sure to earn the trust of many people who mattered in the administration. People of Medina were subsequently informed of the decision. As expected, he faced a severe resistance and several local leaders stood up against Muawiya.
In order to crush the rebellion, Muawiya embarked on a military expedition to Mecca, but the rebels fled to Medina to prepare better. Muawiya somehow followed them there as well and threatened them with death if they did not accept Yazid as their future leader. The rebels, such as Abd Allah ibn Al-Zubayr and Husayn ibn Ali, gathered their supporters and rose in an open rebellion against the Caliphate.
However, he was pretty much successful in telling the people from Mecca and Medina that the rebels had given up and everybody had accepted his decision. This tactics worked and many of his opponents became quite after this. Before his death, Muawiya, through a will, passed on instruction to Yazid on how to govern the empire. He also told him to be careful in dealing with Husayn, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad. He also predicted that the politicians of Iraq would manipulate Husayn easily into rebellion and then leave him alone.
In 680, Muawiya passed away, leaving the Empire to his son Yazid, who became the new caliph, Yazid I. For the most part, he heeded his father’s advice and ran with righteousness. However, many scholars and early historians blamed Yazid of being a tyrant and violent ruler. Later historians, however, consider him a capable ruler who spilled blood only when it was absolutely necessary.
But as expected, Husayn and Zubayr were still on the lookout for the opportunity to throw Yazid out of power. Both Husayn and Zubayr were strong local leaders and Yazid was advised that their allegiance to the empire was necessary if he wanted to rule smoothly.
Husayn became active and gathered support to challenge Yazid. Husayn came to know that the people of Kufa were willing to be on his side and hence, he decided to go there. He was warned by his trusted counsellors to drop the plan, but he did not pay any heed. On his way to Kufa, he came to know that Kufans had changed sides. Husayn, however, kept marching forward to Kufa and was attacked by Yazid’s troops in the desert of Karbala. He was eventually killed in the battle.
Meanwhile, Zubayr was gathering support from the people of Medina. When Yazid came to know about it, he invited important people from Medina over and tried to buy them with gifts, but the people of Medina refused to side with him.
In August 683, Yazid defeated the Medinese in a battle and the city was ransacked. Yazid then headed to Mecca but the campaign to crush the rebellions ended there with the death of Yazid.
Personal Life & Death
Yazid I was known to be a kind hearted man. But he was not generally accepted in the Islamic world due to his habits of drinking wine and sleeping with many women.
Yazid married twice in his life. His first wife wasUmm Khalid Fakhita bint Abi Hisham, while Umm Kulthum bint Abd Allah ibn Amir Was his second wife. He had many sons and daughters from his wives, and most notable of them were Mu'awiya II, Khaled, and Atikah.
The true cause of his death remains unknown. He passed away on November 12, 683. His son Muawiya II became caliph after him and the hereditary succession became the norm.