Al-Walid I

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Al-Walid ibn Abd al-Malik
الوليد بن عبد الملك
الوليد بن عبد الملك.png
Al-Walid ibn Abd al-Malik rendered in Arabic calligraphy
Caliph of the Umayyad Caliphate
Reign8 October 705 – 23 February 715
PredecessorAbd al-Malik ibn Marwan
SuccessorSulayman ibn Abd al-Malik
Died23 February 715 (aged 47)
IssueAbd al-Aziz, Yazid III, Ibrahim, al-Abbas
Full name
Al-Walīd ibn ‘Abd al-Malik Arabic: الوليد بن عبد الملك
HouseBanu Abd Shams
FatherAbd al-Malik ibn Marwan
MotherWalladah bint al-Abbas al-Ghatafaniyyah[1]

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 until his death in 715. His reign saw the greatest expansion of the Caliphate, as successful campaigns were undertaken in Transoxiana in Central Asia, Sind, Hispania in far western Europe, and against the Byzantines.


Early life and family[edit]

Al-Walid was born in Medina in 668. He was the eldest son of Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, who succeeded his father Marwan I as the Umayyad caliph in 685, and one Abd al-Malik’s wives, Wallada bint Abbas ibn al-Jaz.[2] She was a fourth-generation direct descendant of Zuhayr ibn Jadhima, the mid-6th-century chieftain of the Banu Abs, a subtribe of the latter Arab tribe of Ghatafan.[2] Two of al-Walid’s wives, Umm Abdallah bint Abdallah ibn Amr and Izza bint Abd al-Aziz ibn Abdallah were third and fourth-generation descendants of Caliph Uthman (r. 644–656), respectively.[3]


Al-Walid continued his father's expansion of the Islamic empire and was an effective ruler. His father Abd al-Malik had taken the oath of allegiance for Walid during his lifetime.[4][unreliable source?]. As such the succession of Walid was not contested. His reign was marked by a number of conquests in both the east and west with historians considering his reign as the apex of Islamic power.

Sulayman succeeded his brother Walid after he died in 715. He was buried in the Bab al-Saghir cemetery in Damascus. His grave is still present to this date.[citation needed]


The Caliphate at its greatest extent.
  Under Muhammad, 622-632
  Rashidun expansion, 632-661
  Umayyad expansion, 661-750

Walid continued his father's policies of expanding Islamic power through conquests and took the early Islamic empire to its farthest extent. In 711, Muslim armies crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and began to conquer the Iberian Peninsula using North African Berber troops. By 716, the Visigoths of Iberia had been defeated and most of Iberia was under Muslim control and some of present day France. 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 effectively the viceroy there.

Walid paid great attention to the development and expansion of a well-organized military. He built the strongest navy of the Umayyad era which was a key element in Caliphate's expansion into Iberia.

Like his father, Walid continued to allow Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf free rein, and his trust in Hajjaj paid off with his successful conquests of Transoxiana and Sindh. Musa ibn Nusayr and his retainer Tariq ibn Ziyad conquered Al-Andalus; whilst Mohammad Bin Qasim Conquered Sindh (present day Pakistan). Hajjaj was responsible for picking the generals who led the successful eastern campaigns, and was successful in his 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.

Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari describes how Qutayba ibn Muslim, Khurasan's governor, led forces extending the Caliphate to the east. Qutayba conquered Samarkand, advanced into Farghana and sent 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 spoke in favour of Yazid's safety. Walid accepted this and told Hajjaj to desist. (v. 23, p. 156f)

Islamic culture and civilization[edit]

The Umayyad Mosque, built under Walid
Coins of Al-Walid I, found in Sistan.

Walid began the first major building projects of Islam. The history of Islamic architecture can be said to have begun in earnest with Walid. Around 701, al-Walid ordered the building of Al-Aqsa Mosque, opposite his father's Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount. Walid repaired and refurbished Masjid al Nabawi in Medina. He also improved roads, mountain passes and wells in Hijaz (al-Tabari v. 23, p. 144).

At the site of the Christian Basilica of Saint John the Baptist, he built a mosque, now known as the Great Mosque of Damascus or simply the Umayyad Mosque.[5][6][7][8] The mosque holds a shrine which is said to contain the head of John the Baptist, honored as a prophet by Muslims and Christians alike (he is considered a Prophet of Islam and is known as Yahya). The head was said to have been 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.

Walid coupled Islam with Arabic culture and values. Since non-believers had to pay an extra tax, many people did convert for religious and non-religious reasons.[citation needed] 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 was threatened. In particular, large numbers of Coptic-speaking (Egypt) and Persian-speaking Muslims threatened the primacy of the very language that Islam was 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.[citation needed]

Walid built one of the first care homes for intellectually disabled individuals and built the first hospital which accommodated intellectually disabled individuals as part of its services. In addition, Walid assigned each intellectually disabled individual a caregiver.[9]



  1. ^ Dr. Eli Munif Shahla (1998). Al-Ayam al-Akhira fi Hayat al-Kulafa (1st ed.). Dar al-Kitab al-Arabi. p. 236.
  2. ^ a b Al-Tabari, p. 118.
  3. ^ Ahmed 2010, p. 123.
  4. ^ Muhammad and conquests of Islam by Francesco Gabreili
  5. ^ Grafman and Rosen-Ayalon, 1999, p.7.
  6. ^ Flood, Finbarr Barry (2001). The Great Mosque of Damascus: studies on the makings of an Umayyad visual culture. Boston: BRILL. pp. 1–2. ISBN 978-90-04-11638-2.
  7. ^ C. Rudolph, ed. (2006). "The concept of spolia". A companion to medieval art: Romanesque and Gothic in northern Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 177.
  8. ^ Takeo Kamiya (2004). "Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, Syria". Eurasia News. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  9. ^ Al-Aoufi, Hiam; Al-Zyoud, Nawaf; Shahminan, Norbayah (2012). "Islam and the cultural conceptualisation of disability". International Journal of Adolescence and Youth. 17 (4): 205–219. doi:10.1080/02673843.2011.649565.


Al-Walid I
Born: 668 Died: 23 February 715
Sunni Islam titles
Preceded by
Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan
Caliph of Islam
Umayyad Caliph

705 – 23 February 715
Succeeded by
Sulayman ibn Abd al-Malik