The Fall of the Umayyad Empire

            The Umayyad Empire was an Arab empire that practiced the Muslim religion.  After the death of their prophet Muhammad, they set out to find a new caliph.  One of the most famous was Abu Bakr who had a big role on the Muslim culture.  However, after his death, the son-in-law of Muhammad, Ali, claimed to be the next caliph and a war broke out broke out between him and the Umayyad Empire—the Sunni-Shi’a split.  Later, the Umayyad Empire would change their ideas leading to the fall of the empire.  Between 661 and 750 C.E. the Umayyad Empire struggled to find proper political comfort within the choosing of their caliph, but maintained their sacred religion.
            After the death of their prophet, Muhammad, the Umayyads had to choose who would be their next caliph.  The afternoon of Muhammad’s death, one of the Muslim clans met to discuss who should be the next leader.  After many discussions and arguments of who should be the new caliph, they finally decided on a good friend of Muhammad, Abu Bakr.  Abu Bakr was given no financial support from the Umayyads and had to keep his job as a merchant; he also had little control over the military.  However, he later united the Bedouin tribes in the Ridda Wars to unify the tribes under Islam.  These attacks were for a share of the booty and he proved to be a good leader through his military support.
            After the death of short-lived caliph Uthman, the son-in-law and cousin of Muhammad claimed to be the next prophet.  However, Ali never punished the assassins of Uthman and the people of Umayyad were very un-happy about it.  The Sunnis supported the Umayyad Empire and were very against Ali and his ideas.  However, the Shi’a liked Ali and supported his ideas and what he stood for.  This created tension between the two groups, and eventually, they split.
            After some time, the Umayyad Empire started to become greedy and were soon addicted to luxurious items.  They started to build gardens, palaces, and built personal harems.  They soon started to drift away from war so that they could be in their palaces and gardens which brought trouble for the empire.  They soon would start abandoning the idea of simplicity that Muhammad and Abu Bakr had started which broke out into riots and sparked revolts.  After the Abbasids defeated the Umayyads, the empire fell and would later be moved to Spain under a new name.
            Although the Umayyads had a difficult time finding a proper caliph, they eventually found peace within their political and religious leaders.  While they had a strong government and wise leaders, they also had their faults.  They caused the split of the Sunni and Shi’a tribe, but they also united the Bedouin tribes.  Later, they would fall from the lack of concern of the political activity, but they maintained their Muslim faith.  In the end, the Umayyads led a long legacy for future Muslim empires and countries.

Essay by Sara H