Abd Al Azeez B Al Waleed (early second Hijri century) عبد العزيز بن الوليد

Abd Al Azeez B Al Waleed (early second Hijri century) عبد العزيز بن الوليد

He was the son of the sixth Caliph, al-Waleed ibn `Abd al-Malik, of the Umayyad clan. His father, grandfather, great grandfather and others of his family ruled as Caliphs and still many others were governors and army leaders. He grew up during the golden period of the Umayyad dynasty after his grandfather regained control over dissident provinces. Education, in general, was available to all, but the children of the Caliphs had the privilege of having the finest teachers of their times. His father called Salih ibn Kaysan, who was one of the best in the Qur’an, jurisprudence and Hadith sciences in Madinah, to be `Abd al-Azeez’s instructor. He studied Qur’an and Hadith and their sciences, read history, and mastered Arabic Language studying grammar, eloquence, literature and poetry. He learnt, by heart, many sermons of good speakers and men of letters.

He also had a good share of knowledge in mathematics, engineering sciences and military arts. He acquired good skill in military encampment, in choosing loci for the same and arranging defense lines. He was an expert in setting up frontlines, laying traps and coordinating logistic supplies to the army. As a military man, he was skillful in horse riding, dexterous in archery and proficient in sword fighting. He underwent rigorous training in swimming, walking for long distances under harsh conditions and food deprivation for long periods. This training was followed by practice in battlefields alongside his uncle Maslamah ibn `Abd al-Malik. He acquired good practical training in political and administrative skills as a result of proximity to his father, al-Waleed, the Caliph, who handled the most critical and decisive matters of the vast state.

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The summer of 91H saw `Abd al-Azeez as a soldier in the army of his uncle Maslamah who led the conquest of Azerbaijan. The incursion was more of a training mission for `Abd al-Azeez where he is believed to have led the Damascus battalion. He led an army in 94H and overran a castle in the eastern Anatolian region which was then within the Roman state. `Abd al-Azeez’s stint as a leader in Jihad did not last long as his father chose him for another role for which he deemed him fit. He appointed him as the governor of Damascus to ensure he stayed near him. He remained in this post till the death of his father.

He must have earned the trust of his father for al-Waleed attempted to appoint him as his successor for which the Caliph wrote to all the regional governors to pledge loyalty to `Abd al-Azeez after his death. However, apart from two governors and close associates, none pledged loyalty to `Abd al-Azeez against his uncle Sulaiman who was the successor to al-Waleed as appointed by their father `Abd al-Malik. Sulaiman delayed coming to Damascus when al-Waleed summoned him to extract a pledge for his son. This prompted al-Waleed to travel towards his brother for the same purpose but he died before he could.

It also appears that he was a religious person in that his father appointed him to be his deputy in Hajj in the year 93H. Historians differ as to who led the following year’s Hajj: some said it was `Abd al-Azeez while others opined that it was his uncle Maslamah. Only a firmly religious person could be allowed to lead the pilgrims in Makkah and this shows that `Abd al-Azeez had not been a frivolous young man for his age.

Abd al-Azeez’s uncle, Yazeed, who succeeded his uncle, Sulaiman, as the Caliph thought of appointing `Abd al-Azeez as his successor, but was dissuaded from that by Maslamah who advised him to appoint their brother Hisham. `Abd al-Azeez himself was also confident that he was better suited for the post than anyone else among the Umayyads after the death of Sulaiman ibn `Abd al-Malik. In fact, he was not aware of Sulaiman appointing `Umar ibn `Abd al-Azeez as Caliph before his death, and so was calling for his own institution as the Caliph after he heard of Sulaiman’s demise. However, after he learned of `Umar’s appointment, he attended his court. When `Umar asked him about it, he replied that he had not heard of the appointment earlier and was worried of any anarchy that may result due to the absence of a Caliph. To this, `Umar made the remark that were it not for a mandate from the people, he himself would have pledged support to him and would be glad to be relieved of the responsibility. `Abd al-Azeez replied that he did not favor anyone else more than `Umar being appointed a Caliph and he pledged loyalty to him. `Abd al-Azeez married Maimoona, the grandchild of Abu Bakr.

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