Al-Walid I

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Al-Walid ibn Abd al-Malik
الولید بن عبدالملك
6th Caliph of Umayyad Dynasty
Umayyad Caliph in Damascus
درهم ولید ابن عبدالملک از ایالت سجستان (سیستان.jpg
Coins of Al-Walid I, found in Sistan
Reign 705–715
Predecessor Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan
Successor Sulayman ibn Abd al-Malik
Issue Abd al-Aziz, Yazid III, Ibrahim, al-Abbas
Full name
Al-Walid ibn Abd al-Malik
House Banu Abd Shams
Dynasty Umayyad
Father Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan
Mother Walida bint Al-Abbas[1]
Born 668
Died 715

Al-Walid ibn Abd al-Malik (Arabic: الوليد بن عبد الملك‎) or Al-Walid I (668 – 23 February 715) was an Umayyad caliph who ruled from 705 to his death in 715. His reign saw the greatest expansion of the Caliphate, as successful campaigns were undertaken in Transoxiana, Sind, Hispania and against the Byzantines.


He was born to Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan and his wife who was from the central Arabian region Najd. Al-Walid was born in 668 and died in 715. Walid continued the expansion of the Islamic empire that was sparked by his father, and was an effective ruler. His father Abd al-Malik had taken the oath of allegiance for Walid during his lifetime.[2][unreliable source?]. As such the succession of Walid was not contested. His reign was marked by endless successions of conquests east and west, and historians consider his reign as the apex of Islamic power.


The Arab Empire at its greatest extent.
  Expansion under the Prophet Mohammad, 622-632
  Expansion during the first four caliphs, 632-661
  Expansion during the Umayyad Caliphate, 661-750

Walid continued the Islamic conquests and took the early Islamic empire to its farthest extents. Then, in 711, Muslim armies crossed the Strait of Gibraltar(Named After Tariq Ibn Zayd) and began to conquer the Iberian Peninsula using North African Berber armies. By 716, the Visigoths of Iberia had been defeated and Iberia was under Muslim control. In the east, Islamic armies made it as far as the Indus River in 712—under Walid, the Caliphate stretched from the Iberian Peninsula to India. Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf continued to play a crucial role in the organization and selection of military commanders in the East, serving as virtual viceroy there.

Walid paid great attention to the expansion of an organized military, building the strongest navy in the Umayyad era, it was this tactic that supported the ultimate expansion to Iberia. His reign is considered as the apex of Islamic power.

Walid also began the first great building projects of Islam, the most famous of which is the mosque at Damascus. The long history of Islamic architecture really begins with Walid. This is also the period, however, in which Islamic court culture begins to germinate. With the caliph as a patron, artists and writers begin to develop a new, partly secular culture based on Islamic ideas.

It was also Walid that coupled Islamicization with Arabicization. Conversion was not forced on conquered peoples; however, since non-believers had to pay an extra tax, many people did convert for religious and non-religious reasons. This created several problems, particularly since Islam was so closely connected with being Arab. Being Arab was more than an ethnic identity, it was a tribal identity based on kinship and descent. As more and more Muslims were non-Arabs, the status of Arabs and their culture became threatened. In particular, large numbers of Coptic-speaking (Egypt) and Persian-speaking Muslims threatened the primacy of the very language that Islam is based on. In part to alleviate that threat, Walid instituted Arabic as the only official language of the empire. He decreed that all administration was to be done only in Arabic. It was this move that cemented the primacy of Arabic language and culture in the Islamic world.

Like his father, Walid continued to allow Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf free rein, and his trust in Hajjaj paid off with the successful conquests of Transoxiana and Sindh. Musa ibn Nusayr and his retainer Tariq ibn Ziyad conquered Al-Andalus. Hajjaj was responsible for picking the generals who led the successful eastern campaigns, and was well known from his own successful campaign against Ibn Zubayr during the reign of Walid's father. Others, such as Walid's brother Maslamah, advanced against the Byzantines and into Adharbayjan.

Valladolid is an industrial city and it is a municipality in north-central Spain, upon the Rio Pisuerga and within the Ribera del Duero region. It is the capital of the province of Valladolid and of the autonomous community of Castile and León, therefore is part of the historical region of Castile. The name "Valladolid" is linked with the Arabic name for the city بلد الوليد meaning The City of Al- Walid,but a more likely suggestion is a conjunction of the Latin: VALLIS, "Valley", and Celtic: TOLITUM, "place of confluence of waters",and indeed their inhabitants are still called by the archaic form closer to its possible original name,"Vallisoletanian" .

Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari describes how Qutayba ibn Muslim, Khurasan's governor, led forces extending the caliphate to the east. Qutayba campaigned in most, if not all, years of this reign, conquering Samarkand, advancing into Farghana and sending envoys to China. (v. 23)

Al-Tabari records how Hajjaj tortured Yazid ibn al-Muhallab. Yazid escaped and made his way to Walid's brother Sulayman ibn Abd al-Malik who granted him refuge. Hajjaj pressed Walid about this and Walid commanded Sulayman to send him Yazid in chains. Sulayman had his own son approach Walid chained to Yazid and speak in favour of Yazid's safety. Walid accepted this and told Hajjaj to desist. (v. 23, p. 156f)

Nation building[edit]

Umayyad Mosque built by Walid

Walid himself continued the effective rule that was characteristic of his father, he developed a welfare system, built hospitals, educational institutions and measures for the appreciation of art.

Around 701, al-Walid ordered the building of Al-Aqsa Mosque, opposite his father's Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount.

Walid himself was an enthusiast of architecture and he repaired and refurbished Masjid al Nabawi in Medina. He also improved mountain passes and wells in Hijaz (al-Tabari v. 23, p. 144). In addition, he renovated the Christian Basilica of Saint John the Baptist to build a great mosque, now known as the Great Mosque of Damascus or simply the Umayyad Mosque (Arabic: جامع بني أمية الكبير, transl. Ğām' Banī 'Umayyah al-Kabīr). The mosque holds a shrine which is said to contain the head of John the Baptist, honoured as a prophet by Muslims and Christians alike (he is considered a Prophet of Islam and is known as Yahya). The head was supposedly found during the excavations for the building of the mosque. The tomb of Saladin stands in a small garden adjoining the north wall of the mosque.

He was also known for his own personal piety, and many stories tell of his continual reciting of the Qur'an and the large feasts he hosted for those fasting during Ramadan. He was married to his first cousin Umm Banin bint Abd al-Aziz ibn Marwan.

Walid was succeeded by his brother Sulayman and was buried in Bab al-Saghir cemetery in Damascus. His grave is still present to this date.



  1. ^ Dr. Eli Munif Shahla, "Al-Ayam al-Akhira fi Hayat al-Kulafa", Dar al-Kitab al-Arabi, 1st ed., 1998, p. 236
  2. ^ Muhammad and conquests of Islam by Francesco Gabreili
Preceded by
Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan
Succeeded by