Marwan/Marwan bin Hakam
Marwan b. al-Hakam b. Abi al-_As, Abu _Abd al-Malik, the eponym of the Marwanid branch of the Umayyads, reigned for several months in 684 and 685 C.E. He was one of the Companions of Muhammad and the cousin of _Uthman b. _Affan (r. 644–656), the third caliph of Islam. Marwan was appointed secretary to _Uthman during his caliphate because of his knowledge of the Qur_an and became the caliph’s closest advisor. He probably encouraged the caliph to compile the Qur_an. Much of Marwan’s wealth came from the rich plunder he obtained during an expedition to North Africa, which he invested in properties in Medina. Despite objection from many Medinans, Marwan influenced _Uthman to appoint his brother, Harith b. Hakam, to oversee the market of Medina.
Marwan was viewed as an ambitious man and his influence on the caliph was generally regarded as negative. When Egyptian malcontents negotiated a political settlement with _Uthman, Marwan is believed to have written a letter ordering the execution of the Egyptians concerned. It was the discovery of this letter by the Egyptians that led to _Uthman’s being besieged and murdered in his home in 656. This event is remembered as “the battle of the house,” or yawm al-dar.
Marwan was wounded while trying to protect _Uthman. He later fought in the Battle of the Camel with _A_isha against _Ali, for _Ali would neither investigate nor punish the murderers of _Uthman. Later, Marwan swore allegiance to _Ali, but joined the ranks of Mu_awiya when _Ali was murdered. He was appointed governor of Medina by the caliph Mu_awiyya b. Abi Sufyan (r. 661–680), and served in this capacity from 661 to 668 and again from 674 to 677. Mu_awiyya was succeeded by his son, Yazid, who died in 683, followed by Yazid’s son, Mu_awiya II, who died a few months later. Meanwhile, the hostility provoked by Yazid during his brief caliphate, which saw the death of Husayn b. _Ali, the battle of the Harra (a stronghold in Medina), and the onslaught against Mecca, had brought _Abdullah b. al-Zubayr great popularity. Al-Zubayr was acclaimed caliph of the region extending from the Hijaz (a region in western Saudi Arabia) to Iraq. The Umayyads were thus forced to look beyond the Sufyanid family for a leader. At this point, frustrated by inadequate leadership, tribal loyalties that had been submerged by the uniting forces of Islam emerged once again. The faction led by Ibn Bahdal, chief of the Kalbi clan, proclaimed Marwan caliph, while the faction led by al-Dahhaq b. Ways al-Fihri supported Ibn al- Zubayr. When the two factions met at the battle of Marj Rahat it was Marwan who won the day Marwan immediately consolidated his position: He married Fakhita bt. Abi Hashim, the widow of Yazid, vowing that the latter’s son, Khalid b. Yazid, would be his successor. Once appointed caliph, however, he first replaced Egypt’s Zubayrid governor with his son, _Abd al-_Aziz. Then, reneging on his promise to Fakhita, he named his eldest son, _Abd al-Malik, heir to the caliphate. Finally, having defeated Mus_ab b. al- Zubayr, the brother of his rival caliph in Mecca, he sent his general, _Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad, to capture Iraq.
Marwan died in 685, murdered by his wife, Fakhita, before Iraq was taken. His son, _Abd al-Malik (r. 685–705), successfully consolidated the Umayyad caliphate under the Marwanid banner.