Saturday, 1 September 2007

Sultan Hakam I of Spain, Part II

Sedition, intrigue and instigation from within Spain however, was another matter and that continued to be his hallmark even up to the last year of his reign. Charlemagne had caused insurrections or otherwise in the rule of two different Spanish monarchs before Sultan Hakam and both had dealt with him similarly.

Now with Sultan Hakam on the throne in Spain, Charlemagne resurrected his earlier aim of assuming power and legal jurisdiction for himself on the pretence of assisting Christians living within it.

In 803 CE, shortly after peace and prosperity had begun to prevail once more in the Sultanate of Hakam, Charlemagne ordered an invasion of Spain and annexed Saragossa. This was apparently in reaction to the Sultan’s successful suppression of revolts against both the Christians and Spanish rebels.

Sultan Hakam immediately sent relief columns to meet the military might and challenge of the Frankish Empire and eventually drove Charlemagne’s forces out from Spanish soil.

In 812 CE, Charlemagne despatched the Franks into Spain again and captured Lusitania. As Sultan Hakam was busy elsewhere, he could not as easily come to the city’s aid and it remained under Frankish rule for almost five years.

In 816 CE, two years after Charlemagne’s death, Sultan Hakam defeated the resident Frankish garrison at Lusitania and again repulsed the Franks from Spain. By this time, Charlemagne had been succeeded by his son, Charles the Bald, a less capable ruler.

With the Frankish threat subdued and cessation of internal Christian hostilities, the Sultan engaged in consolidating the kingdom, reforming the administration and looking after the affairs of the state.

A strong and powerful navy came into existence under his patronage and under his guidance undertook naval operations in the Mediterranean. Corsica was conquered in one such expedition in 816 CE as were the islands of Majorca, Izira and Sardinia in 818 CE.

Shortly after these conquests, Sultan Hakam passed away in 822 CE, he was forty-eight years old. Most of his reign had been spent in wars against the Christians and Charlemagne of France.

Sultan Hakam used force where necessary and conciliation when it was in the public interest. He opted for peace whenever possible and despite the ravages of war, the treasury remained full and the economic conditions prosperous.

Once theologians advocated a policy of repression of Non Muslims simply for being outside Islam. Sultan Hakam disagreed and stated he favoured tolerance and conciliation.

He further added Islam’s will to accord Non Muslim subjects (Dhimmis) special rights and privileges (which included the right to be landowners, enterprising businessmen, industrialists and otherwise) as long as they paid the Jizya and respected the laws of the land.

Islam also encouraged all adherents to treat Non Muslim civilians well in general and the position of Muslims was to respect their religious affiliation, irrespective of faith. Some theologians, angered by his remarks, plotted his overthrow, were arrested and executed.

Sultan Hakam was against monopolisation of power in any one area, even with himself and the separate legislative bodies including the ulema and different Maddhabs and was never angered by sentiments expressed himself or his style of governance and polity personally.

It should be said, the two major Maddhabs, the Maliki and Hanafi Maddhabs had competed for state patronage and official endorsement as the leading school of thought for the state and both brought forth their arguments to different Sultans.

Although he respected both schools and heard their respective positions, Sultan Hakam refused to favour or sponsor one single school as the official Maddhab over the others.

Overall, Sultan Hakam was hailed by many as a great warrior, a soldier of Allah and praised for his conviction and devotion to preserving the unity of the state and forwarding the spirit and cause of Islam.

Several of those who disagreed with his authority, manner of operations and reign, both in history and to this day, still respected his individuality, character and personal merit.

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