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Walid ibn Abdul Malek (668 - 715) was an Umayyad caliph who ruled from 705 - 715. He continued the expansion of the Islamic empire that was sparked by his father, and was an effective ruler. Walid paid great attention to the expansion of an organized military, building the strongest navy in Ummayad era, it was this tactic that supported the ultimate expansion to Spain. His reign is considered as the apex of Islamic power. Walid also began the first great building projects of Islam. He demolished the Christian Basilica of St. John the Baptist to build a great ####mosque, now known as the Great Mosque of Damascus or simply the Umayyad Mosque, it is one of the largest and oldest mosques in the world. and of great architectural importance. 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 and were not technically citizens, 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, of course, 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. The forth Imam of Shias, Imam Sajjad (P.B.U.H) was poisoned and martyred by Walid Ibn Abdul Malek in 713. Walid was succeeded by his brother Suleiman.
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