After the death of Marwan, his son ‘Abd al-Malik came to power. Before taking over the affairs of government he was always to be found in the Mosque, praying or reading the Qur'an. He was so devoted in his worship that he became known as the `Dove of the Mosque'. As soon as news reached him that he was to succeed to the caliphate, however, he closed the Qur'an and said : "Farewell, from now onwards we are to be separated from each other. Since it is now a question of government of the Muslims, I have no need for the din of Allah (din is the Islamic code for living which Allah revealed to his Prophet Muhammad — s.a.w.a.) or the Qur'an."
Before coming to power ‘Abd al- Malik would become angry if someone were to kill an ant but as soon as he took control of the government he spent his life killing and torturing the Muslims. Indeed no matter how many people he killed he could never satisfy his thirst for blood. In this respect he was no different from his forefathers. Even when Hajjaj wrote to him informing him that huge members of Muslims and Shi `ahs had been killed, it made him no impression on his stony heart.
One day a noble asked him, "O King! I have heard that you even drink wine; is this to be expected of the caliph and ruler of the Muslims?" ‘Abd al-Malik replied, "By God I swear it is true, but wine is nothing compared to the blood which I am fond of drinking". Such is the way of behaving of those who desire to rule merely by force and oppression; such people will exterminate anyone once they consider to be an obstacle in their path — even if it means killing their closest friends or members of their own family.
‘Abd al- Malik thought only about power and by what means he could secure and retain his control over the government; he never considered the needs of the people or the country as a whole. ‘Abd al-Malik was shameless, tight-fisted and bloodthirsty and all his agents and supporters resembled him.
It was ‘Abd al-Malik who appointed the following men, all famous for their vicious and despicable behaviour to the various posts within the Muslims lands:
1) Hajjaj, who was the most blood-thirsty criminal of that time. He was ruler over lands stretching over present day Iran and Iraq. His name has become proverbial for ferocity and brutality.
2) Muhallab, who was the most baseless and shameless governor in the history of the people of Khurasan (in eastern Iran).
3) Hisham, the son of Isma‘il, who was the governor of Medina.
4) Abdullah, who was ‘Abd al-Malik's own son. He was appointed to serve in the government in Egypt.
5) Musa ibn Nasir who was the governor of Maghrib (the present day Morocco).
6) Muhammad, son of Yusuf ath-Thaqafi and brother of Hajjaj who lived in Yemen.
7) Muhammad ibn Marwan who ruled in the Arabian peninsula.
All these ministers or representatives of ‘Abd al-Malik were corrupt and tyrannical.
‘Abd al-Malik became famous by the name Abu Dhubab (the father of the flies). It is said that his mouth emitted such a foul stench that flies passing anyway near his face would perish because of the intensity of the smell.
He was also notorious under the name Rashah al-Hajar, indicating that he was excessively miserly. (It was the same ‘Abd al-Malik who initiated the minting of dirhams and dinars with specifically Islamic designs; upto that time Roman coins had been the normal currency.)
‘Abd al-Malik was perhaps the first so-called Islamic ruler to deliberately try to do away with the divine injunction "command others to do good deeds and forbid them from doing bad deeds" (al- amr bi 'l-ma‘ruf wan-nahy ‘ani 'l-munkar).
He did not allow trained teachers to teach the people about the din of Islam, moreover he did not allow anyone to talk publicly about the reality of this world and the next. Despite this anti-Islamic activity, he nevertheless decided to change his political position with regard to the family of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.), and the sons of Ali (a.s.). With this in mind he wrote to his governor Hajjaj that he should stop harassing the progeny of the Prophet.
The reason for this change was that he had seen with his own eyes how, soon after Abu Sufyan's family had bloodied their hands in the slaughter of Ali's sons, their government weakened and they lost political power. From this it is obvious that ‘Abd al- Malik changed his mind about killing the progeny of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and the other leaders of the Muslims, not because he feared God but for fear of losing his position as King. After twenty-one years of dictatorial rule he died.