A 7th-century Coin

This coin was minted in Sistan under the Zubayrid governor. Instead of a fire altar, it reads in Middle Persian: ‘Seventy-two / One God but He / another God does not exist / Muhammad [is] the messenger of God / SK.” Seventy-two was the year [= 691] and SK is the mint.

A 9th-Century Description

This passage is from Yaʿ qubi, an Arab historian who wrote in Arabic during the ʿAbbasid period. He is sometimes tagged as a “proto-Shi’i” historian. This passage describes the Umayyad attack on the “counter-caliph” ‘Abd Allah b. al-Zubayr in Mecca during the second fitna.

When the news reached [the Umayyad caliph] Yazīd b. Muʿāwiya, he sent for Muslim b. ʿUqba and had him brought from Palestine, although he was sick. He brought him into his house and told him the story [of a rebellion against the Umayyads in Madina]. Muslim said: “Commander [of the Faithful], dispatch me to them. By God, I will turn the place upside down!”—meaning the City of the Prophet. Yazīd dispatched him with 5,000 men to Medina, and he attacked its people at the battle of al-Ḥarra. The people of Medina fought him fiercely and dug a trench around the city. Muslim made an attempt on one side of the trench, but it proved impossible for him. Marwān tricked some of the inhabitants; he entered together with one hundred horsemen, and then the cavalry followed and entered the city. Few people in it were not killed. Muslim so violated the sanctuary of God’s Messenger that virgins later gave birth not knowing who had impregnated them. Then he forced the people to swear allegiance on the basis of being slaves to Yazīd b. Muʿāwiya. A man from the Quraysh would be brought forward and told, “Swear allegiance as a sign that you are a complete slave to Yazīd.” If he said no, he was beheaded.

ʿAlī b. al-Ḥusayn [the great grandson of the Prophet] came to him and asked, “On what basis do you want me to give you the oath of allegiance?” Muslim said, “On the basis that you are a brother and a cousin.” ʿAlī said, “Even if you want me to swear allegiance before you on the basis of my being a complete slave, I will do it.” Muslim said, “This man has not put you to shame.” When the people saw that ʿAlī b. al-Ḥusayn had acceded, they said, “Behold the grandson of God’s Messenger has sworn allegiance as Muslim wanted.” So they also swore allegiance as Muslim wanted. That was in the year 62.

Muslim’s army numbered 5,000 men: 1,000 men from Palestine, led by Rawḥ b. Zinbāʿ al-Judhāmī; 1,000 men from Jordan, led by Ḥubaysh b. Dulja al-Qaynī; 1,000 men from Damascus, led by ʿAbdallāh b. Masʿada al-Fazārī; 1,000 men from the people of Ḥimṣ, led by al-Ḥuṣayn b. Numayr al-Sakūnī; and 1,000 men from Qinnasrīn, led by Zufar b. al-Ḥārith al-Kilābī. The manager of the affairs of the people of Medina and their chief in fighting the Syrians was ʿAbdallāh b. Ḥanẓala b. Abī ʿĀmir al-Anṣārī.

Muslim b. ʿUqba left Medina for Mecca in order to fight Ibn al-Zubayr. When he reached the mountain pass at al-Mushallal, he became deathly ill. He appointed al-Ḥuṣayn b. Numayr as his successor and said to him: “You donkey’s pack-saddle! But for Ḥubaysh b. Dulja al-Qaynī, I would not have appointed you. When you get to Mecca, your work will be nothing but to take a position, fight, then depart!” Then he said, “O God, if you punish me after my obedience to your caliph Yazīd b. Muʿāwiya and the killing of the people of al-Ḥarra, I shall be truly wretched.” Then his soul departed, and he was buried at the pass of al-Mushallal. The concubine of Yazīd b. ʿAbdallāh b. Zamʿa came and exhumed him and crucified him at al-Mushallal; then the people came and stoned him. When al-Ḥuṣayn b. Numayr received word, he turned back, buried him, and killed a number of people of that place; some say that he spared not one of them.

Al-Ḥuṣayn b. Numayr came to Mecca and battled Ibn al-Zubayr in the sanctuary: he bombarded it with fire until he burned the Kaʿba. When the two sides faced each other, Ibn al-Zubayr’s judge, ʿAbdallāh b. ʿUmayr al-Laythī, stood by the Kaʿba and shouted at the top of his voice: “People of Syria! This is God’s sanctuary that even in the Time of Ignorance was a refuge where birds and game were safe. Therefore fear God, O people of Syria!” The Syrians shouted back: “Obedience, obedience! Attack, attack! Departure before evening!” This went on until the Kaʿba was burned. Ibn al-Zubayr’s supporters said, “Let us put out the fire!” But Ibn al-Zubayr prevented them, wanting the people to become angry over the fate of the Kaʿba. One of the Syrians said, “Sanctity and obedience met, and obedience overcame sanctity.” The burning of the Kaʿba took place in the year 63.

source, pp. 943-6.