This volume chronicles the history of the Islamic state in the years A. H. 74-81 (A. D. 693-701), after the final defeat of Ibn al-Zubayr in Mecca put an end to twelve years of civil war and reunited the empire under the rule of the Marwanid caliph 'Abd al-Malik. Syria and the Hijaz enjoyed a period of relative peace during this time, and stability and consolidation were furthered by such basic administrative reforms as the institution of an official Islamic coinage. Pacification of Iraq, where Kharijite rebel bands still roamed and mutiny was spreading among the government forces, was entrusted by 'Abd al-Malik to the victorious general al-Hajjaj b. Yusuf. Al-Tabari gives a detailed account of this iron-fisted governor's administration, concentrating on his war against the redoubtable Shabib b. Yazid, a Kharijite guerilla leader with a band of a few hundred men who held out against all odds and twice even entered the capital at al-Kufah and prayed in its mosque. Vivid eyewitness reports from participants on both sides of this conflict provide a valuable picture of Arab life in Iraq at this time, as well as evidence for the ideology of the Kharijites and the sources of discontent in the wider society.
Attention is also given to developments in the frontier provinces of the east, eventually also placed under the authority of al-Hajjaj. In Khurasan, the vicious tribal feuds that had interrupted the policy of continued conquest were gradually resolved and campaigning resumed. In Sijistan, a crushing defeat of Arab troops led al-Hajjaj to outfit the "Peacock Army," a force of unprecedented size and impressiveness, which, when it rebelled under its leader, Ibn al-Ash'ath, was to offer the governor the gravest challenge of his career.
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