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The Abbasid Caliphate ( or ar, اَلْخِلَافَةُ ٱلْعَبَّاسِيَّةُ, ') was the third
caliphate A caliphate ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an Islamic state under the leadership of an Islamic steward with the title of caliph (; ar, خَلِيفَة ', ), a person considered a politico-religious successor to the Islamic prophet Muhammad ...
to succeed the
Islamic prophet Prophets in Islam ( ar, الأنبياء في الإسلام, translit=al-ʾAnbiyāʾ fī al-ʾIslām) are individuals in Islam who are believed to spread God in Islam, God's message on Earth and to serve as models of ideal human behaviour. Som ...
Muhammad Muhammad ibn AbdullahHe is referred to by many appellations, including Messenger of Allah, The Prophet Muhammad, Allah's Apostle, Last Prophet of Islam, and others; there are also many variant spellings of Muhammad, such as Mohamet, Mohammed, ...

Muhammad
. It was founded by a dynasty descended from Muhammad's uncle,
Abbas ibn Abdul-Muttalib Al-Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib ( ar, ٱلْعَبَّاسُ ٱبْنُ عَبْدِ ٱلْمُطَّلِبِ, al-ʿAbbās ibn ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib; –   CE) was paternal uncle and Sahabi (companion) of Muhammad ) , birth_date ...
(566–653 CE), from whom the dynasty takes its name. They ruled as
caliphs A caliphate ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an Islamic state An Islamic state is a form of government based on Islamic law. As a term, it has been used to describe various historical Polity, polities and theories of governance in the Islami ...
for most of the caliphate from their capital in
Baghdad Baghdad (; ar, بَغْدَاد ) is the capital of and one of the in the , and compared to its large population it has a small area at just 673 square kilometers (260 sq mi). Located along the , near the ruins of the city of and the anc ...
in modern-day
Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq), is a country i ...

Iraq
, after having overthrown the
Umayyad Caliphate The Umayyad Caliphate (661–750 CE; , ; ar, ٱلْخِلَافَة ٱلْأُمَوِيَّة, al-Khilāfah al-ʾUmawīyah) was the second of the four major caliphate A caliphate ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an Islamic state under th ...
in the
Abbasid Revolution The Abbasid Revolution, also called the Movement of the Men of the Black Raiment, was the overthrow of the Umayyad Caliphate The Umayyad Caliphate (661–750 CE; , ; ar, ٱلْخِلَافَة ٱلْأُمَوِيَّة, al-Khilāfah al-ʾ ...
of 750 CE (132  AH). The Abbasid Caliphate first centered its government in
Kufa Kufa ( ar, الْكُوفَة ), also spelled Kufah, is a city in Iraq, about south of Baghdad, and northeast of Najaf. It is located on the banks of the Euphrates, Euphrates River. The estimated population in 2003 was 110,000. Currently, Kufa a ...

Kufa
, modern-day Iraq, but in 762 the caliph
Al-Mansur Al-Mansur or Abu Ja'far Abdallah ibn Muhammad al-Mansur (; ar, أبو جعفر عبدالله بن محمد المنصور‎; 95 AH – 158 AH (714 AD – 6 October 775 AD) was the second Abbasid The Abbasid Caliphate ( or ar, اَلْ ...

Al-Mansur
founded the city of Baghdad, near the ancient
Sasanian The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians ( Middle Persian: 𐭠𐭩𐭥𐭠𐭭𐭱𐭲𐭥𐭩 '' Ērānshahr''), and called the Neo-Persian Empire by historians, was the last Persian imperial dynasty bef ...

Sasanian
capital city of
Ctesiphon Ctesiphon ( ; Middle Persian Middle Persian or Pahlavi, also known by its endonym Pārsīk or Pārsīg (𐭯𐭠𐭫𐭮𐭩𐭪) in its later form, is a Western Middle Iranian language which became the literary language of the Sasanian Empir ...

Ctesiphon
. The Abbasid period was marked by reliance on
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...
bureaucrats (notably the
Barmakid The Barmakids ( fa, برمکیان ''Barmakīyān''; ar, البرامكة ''al-Barāmikah'');Harold Bailey, 1943. "Iranica" BSOAS 11: p. 2. India - Department of Archaeology, and V. S. Mirashi (ed.), ''Inscriptions of the Kalachuri-Chedi Era'' vo ...
family) for governing the territories as well as an increasing inclusion of non-Arab Muslims in the ''
ummah ' ( ar, أمة ) is an Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental cou ...
'' (national community). Persian customs were broadly adopted by the ruling elite, and they began patronage of artists and scholars. Baghdad became a center of
science Science () is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and organizes knowledge in the form of Testability, testable explanations and predictions about the universe."... modern science is a discovery as well as an invention. ...
, culture, philosophy and invention in what became known as the
Golden Age of Islam The Islamic Golden Age ( ar, العصر الذهبي للإسلام , al-'asr al-dhahabi lil-islam), was a period of cultural, economic, and scientific flourishing in the history of Islam The history of Islam concerns the political, social, ...
. Despite this initial cooperation, the Abbasids of the late 8th century had alienated both non-Arab ''
mawali Mawlā ( ar, مَوْلَى, plural ''mawālī'' ()), is a polysemous Classical Arabic, Arabic word, whose meaning varied in different periods and contexts.A.J. Wensinck, Encyclopedia of Islam 2nd ed, Brill. "Mawlā", vol. 6, p. 874. Before the ...
'' (clients) and Iranian bureaucrats. They were forced to cede authority over
al-Andalus
al-Andalus
(Spain) to the
Umayyads The Umayyad dynasty ( ar, بَنُو أُمَيَّةَ, Banū Umayya, Sons of Umayya) or Umayyads () were the ruling family of the Muslim caliphate A caliphate ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an Islamic state under the leadership of an Islam ...
in 756,
Morocco ) , image_map = Morocco (orthographic projection, WS claimed).svg , map_caption = Location of Morocco in northwest Africa.Dark green: Undisputed territory of Morocco.Lighter green: Western Sahara, a United Nations lis ...

Morocco
to the
Idrisid The Idrisids ( ar, الأدارسة ') were an Arab The Arabs (singular Arab ; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, ISO 233: , Arabic pronunciation: , plural ar, عَرَبٌ, ISO 233: , Arabic pronunciation: ) are an ethnic group An ethn ...
s in 788,
Ifriqiya Ifriqiya ( '), also known as al-Maghrib al-Adna ( ar, المغرب الأدنى), was a medieval historical region comprising today's Tunisia and eastern Algeria, and Tripolitania (today's western Libya). It included all of what had previously ...
and
Southern Italy Southern Italy ( it, Sud Italia; nap, 'o Sudde; scn, Italia dû Sud), also known as ''Meridione'' or ''Mezzogiorno'' (, literally "Midday"; in nap, 'o Miezojuorno; in scn, Mezzujornu), is a macroregionA macroregion is a geopolitical subdivisi ...
to the
Aghlabids 300px, An Aghlabid cistern in Kairouan The Aghlabids ( ar, الأغالبة) were an Arab dynasty of emirs from the Najd Najd, ( ar, نَجْدٌ, ) or the Nejd, forms the geographic center of Saudi Arabia (Shahada) , national_anthe ...
in 800,
Khorasan Khorasan may refer to: * Greater Khorasan, a historical region which lies mostly in modern-day northern/northwestern Afghanistan, northeastern Iran, southern Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan * Khorasan Province, a pre-2004 province of Iran, ...
and
Transoxiana Transoxiana or Transoxania is an ancient name referring to a region and civilization located in lower roughly corresponding to modern-day eastern , , southern and southern . Geographically, it is the region between the rivers to its south and ...
to the
Samanid The Samanid Empire ( fa, سامانیان, Sāmāniyān) also known as the Samanian Empire, Samanid dynasty, Samanid amirate, or simply Samanids) was a Sunni Islam, Sunni Iranian peoples, Iranian empire, from 819 to 999. The empire was centred in G ...
s and
Persia Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in . It is bordered to the northwest by and , to the north by the , to the northeast by , to the east by , to the southeast by , t ...

Persia
to the
Saffarid The Saffarid dynasty ( fa, صفاریان) was a Persian dynasty from Sistan that ruled over parts of Greater Iran, with its capital at Zaranj (a city now in southwestern Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto/Dari language, Dari: , Pashto: ...
s in the 870s, and
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a spanning the and the of . It is bordered by the to , the () and to , the to the east, to , and to . In the northeast, the , which is the northern arm of the R ...
to the
Isma'ili Ismāʿīlism ( ar, الإسماعيلية, ''al-ʾIsmāʿīlīyah''; fa, اسماعیلیان, ''Esmâ'īliyân'') is a branch or sub-sect of Shia Islam. The Ismāʿīlī () get their name from their acceptance of Imam Isma'il ibn Jafar, Ism ...
-
Shia Shia Islam or Shi'ism is the second largest branch Image:Tree Leaves.JPG, The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany as a ramus) is a woody structural member connected to but not par ...
caliphate of the
Fatimid The Fatimid Caliphate ( ar, ٱلْخِلَافَة ٱلْفَاطِمِيَّة , al-Ḫilāfa al-Fāṭimiyya) was an Ismaili Shia Ismāʿīlism ( ar, الإسماعيلية, ''al-ʾIsmāʿīlīyah''; fa, اسماعیلیان, ''E ...

Fatimid
s in 969. The political power of the caliphs was limited with the rise of the Iranian
Buyids The Buyid dynasty, or the Buyids ( fa, آل بویه ''Āl-e Būya''; also known as Buwaihids, Bowayhids, Buyahids, or Buyyids), was a Shia Shia Islam or Shi'ism is the second largest branch Image:Tree Leaves.JPG, The branches and leaves o ...
and the
Seljuq Turks The Seljuk dynasty, or Seljuks ( ; fa, آل سلجوق ''Al-e Saljuq'', alternatively spelled as Seljuqs or Saljuqs), also known as Seljuk Turks, Seljuk Turkomans "The defeat in August 1071 of the Byzantine emperor Romanos Diogenes by the Turkom ...

Seljuq Turks
, who captured Baghdad in 945 and 1055, respectively. Although Abbasid leadership over the vast
Islamic empire This article includes a list of successive Muslim state An Islamic state is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state. In the case of its broad associati ...
was gradually reduced to a ceremonial religious function in much of the Caliphate, the dynasty retained control over its
Mesopotamian Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a of situated within the , in the northern part of the . Mesopotamia occupies most of presen ...

Mesopotamian
domain. The Abbasids' period of cultural fruition and its (reduced) territorial control ended in 1258 with the
sack of Baghdad The siege of Baghdad was a siege that took place in Baghdad in 1258, lasting for 13 days from January 29, 1258 until February 10, 1258. The siege, laid by Ilkhanate Mongol forces and allied troops, involved the investment, capture, and sack ...
by the
Mongols The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , ''Mongolchuud'', ; russian: Монголы, ) are an East Asian East Asia is the eastern region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") ...
under
Hulagu Khan Hulagu Khan, also known as Hülegü or Hulegu ( mn, Khalkha Mongolian, Хүлэгү/Chakhar Mongolian, , lit=Surplus, translit=Hu’legu’/Qülegü; chg, ; fa, , ''Hulâgu xân''; Arabic: ; ; 8 February 1265), was a Mongols, Mongol ruler w ...

Hulagu Khan
and the execution of
Al-Musta'sim Al-Musta'sim Billah (full name: al-Musta'sim-Billah Abu-Ahmad Abdullah bin al-Mustansir-Billah; ; 1213 – February 20, 1258) was the 37th and last caliph of the Abbasid Caliphate; he ruled from 1242 until his death in 1258. Biography Al-Musta'si ...
. The Abbasid line of rulers, and Muslim culture in general, re-centred themselves in the
Mamluk Mamluk ( ar, مملوك, mamlūk (singular), , ''mamālīk'' (plural), translated as "one who is owned", meaning "", also as ''Mameluke'', ''mamluq'', ''mamluke'', ''mameluk'', ''mameluke'', ''mamaluke'', or ''marmeluke'') is a term most commo ...
capital of
Cairo Cairo ( ; ar, القاهرة, al-Qāhirah, , Coptic language, Coptic: ⲕⲁϩⲓⲣⲏ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities and towns in Egypt, largest city of Egypt. The Greater Cairo, Cairo metropolitan area, with a population o ...

Cairo
in 1261. Though lacking in political power (with the brief exception of Caliph Al-Musta'in of Cairo), the dynasty continued to claim religious authority until after the
Ottoman Ottoman is the Turkish spelling of the Arabic masculine given name Uthman (name), Uthman (Arabic: عُثْمان ''‘uthmān''). It may refer to: Governments and dynasties * Ottoman Caliphate, an Islamic caliphate from 1517 to 1924 * Ottoman Empi ...
conquest of Egypt in 1517.


History


Abbasid Revolution (750–751)

The Abbasid caliphs were
Arab The Arabs (singular Arab ; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, : , Arabic pronunciation: , plural ar, عَرَبٌ, : , Arabic pronunciation: ) are an mainly inhabiting the . In modern usage the term refers to those who originate from an Arab co ...
s descended from
Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib Al-Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib ( ar, ٱلْعَبَّاسُ ٱبْنُ عَبْدِ ٱلْمُطَّلِبِ, al-ʿAbbās ibn ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib; –   CE) was paternal uncle and Sahabi Muhammad and his companions on an Ottoman minia ...
, one of the youngest uncles of Muhammad and of the same
Banu Hashim ) , type = Banu Quraysh The Quraysh ( ar, قُرَيْشٌ, ) are a mercantile Arab tribe The Arabs (singular Arab ; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, ISO 233: , Arabic pronunciation: , plural ar, عَرَبٌ, ISO 233: , Arabic p ...
clan. The Abbasids claimed to be the true successors of Muhammad in replacing the
Umayyad The Umayyad Caliphate (661–750 CE; , ; ar, ٱلْخِلَافَة ٱلْأُمَوِيَّة, al-Khilāfah al-ʾUmawīyah) was the second of the four major caliphates established after the death of Muhammad. The caliphate was ruled by the ...
descendants of
Banu Umayya The Umayyad dynasty ( ar, بَنُو أُمَيَّةَ, Banū Umayya, Sons of Umayya) or Umayyads (), were the ruling family of the Muslim caliphate A caliphate ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an Islamic state under the leadership of an Isla ...
by virtue of their closer bloodline to Muhammad. The Abbasids also distinguished themselves from the Umayyads by attacking their moral character and administration in general. According to
Ira Lapidus Ira M. Lapidus is an Emeritus Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic History at The University of California at Berkeley. He is the author of ''A History of Islamic Societies'', and ''Contemporary Islamic Movements in Historical Perspective'', ...

Ira Lapidus
, "The Abbasid revolt was supported largely by Arabs, mainly the aggrieved settlers of
Merv Merv ( tk, Merw, ''Мерв'', مرو; fa, مرو, ''Marv''), also known as the Merve Oasis, formerly known as Alexandria ( el, Ἀλεξάνδρεια), Antiochia in Margiana ( el, Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐν τῇ Μαργιανῇ) and ...

Merv
with the addition of the Yemeni faction and their
Mawali Mawlā ( ar, مَوْلَى, plural ''mawālī'' ()), is a polysemous Classical Arabic, Arabic word, whose meaning varied in different periods and contexts.A.J. Wensinck, Encyclopedia of Islam 2nd ed, Brill. "Mawlā", vol. 6, p. 874. Before the ...
". The Abbasids also appealed to non-Arab Muslims, known as ''mawali'', who remained outside the kinship-based society of the Arabs and were perceived as a lower class within the Umayyad empire. Muhammad ibn 'Ali, a great-grandson of Abbas, began to campaign in
Persia Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Tu ...
for the return of power to the family of Muhammad, the
Hashemites The Hashemites ( ar, الهاشميون, al-Hāshimīyūn), also House of Hashim, are the Dynasty, royal family of Jordan, which they have ruled since 1921, and were the royal family of the kingdoms of Kingdom of Hejaz, Hejaz (1916–1925), Ara ...
, during the reign of
Umar II Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz ( ar, عمر بن عبد العزيز, ʿUmar ibn ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz; 2 November 682 – ), commonly known as Umar II (), was the eighth Umayyad The Umayyad Caliphate (661–750 CE; , ; ar, ٱلْخِلَافَة ٱلْ ...
. During the reign of
Marwan II Marwan ibn Muhammad ibn Marwan ibn al-Hakam ( ar, مروان بن محمد بن مروان بن الحكم, Marwān ibn Muḥammad ibn Marwān ibn al-Ḥakam; 691 – 6 August 750), usually known simply as Marwan II, was the fourteenth and last ...
, this opposition culminated in the rebellion of , the fourth in descent from Abbas. Supported by the province of
Khorasan Khorasan may refer to: * Greater Khorasan, a historical region which lies mostly in modern-day northern/northwestern Afghanistan, northeastern Iran, southern Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan * Khorasan Province, a pre-2004 province of Iran, ...
(Eastern Persia), even though the governor opposed them, and the Shia Arabs, he achieved considerable success, but was captured in the year 747 and died, possibly assassinated, in prison. On 9 June 747 (15 Ramadan AH 129),
Abu Muslim , image = Abbasid silver dirham in the name of abu Muslim struck at Marv in AH 132 (749-50), The David Collection, Copenhagen (36241672762).jpg , image_size = , caption = Abbasid silver dirham in the name of Abu ...
, rising from Khorasan, successfully initiated an open revolt against Umayyad rule, which was carried out under the sign of the
Black Standard The Black Banner or Black Standard ( ar, الراية السوداء ''ar-rāyat as-sawdāʾ'', also known as ''rāyat al-ʻuqāb'' "wikt:راية#Arabic, banner of the wikt:عقاب#Arabic, eagle" or simply as ' "the banner") is one of the ...
. Close to 10,000 soldiers were under Abu Muslim's command when the hostilities officially began in
Merv Merv ( tk, Merw, ''Мерв'', مرو; fa, مرو, ''Marv''), also known as the Merve Oasis, formerly known as Alexandria ( el, Ἀλεξάνδρεια), Antiochia in Margiana ( el, Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐν τῇ Μαργιανῇ) and ...
. General Qahtaba followed the fleeing governor
Nasr ibn Sayyar Naṣr ibn Sayyār al-Lāythi al-Kināni ( ar, نصر بن سيار الليثي الكناني; 663–748) was an Arab general and the last Umayyad The Umayyad Caliphate (661–750 CE; , ; ar, ٱلْخِلَافَة ٱلْأُمَوِيَ ...
west defeating the Umayyads at the Battle of Gorgan, the Battle of Nahāvand and finally in the Battle of Karbala, all in the year 748. The quarrel was taken up by Ibrahim's brother Abdallah, known by the name of Abu al-'Abbas as-Saffah, who defeated the Umayyads in 750 in the battle near the Great Zab and was subsequently proclaimed
caliph A caliphate ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an Islamic state {{Infobox war faction , name = Islamic State , anthem = '' Dawlat al-Islam Qamat'' {{small, ("My Ummah ' ( ar, أمة ) is an Arabic Arabic (, ' ...
. After this loss, Marwan fled to Egypt, where he was subsequently assassinated. The remainder of his family, barring one male, were also eliminated. Immediately after their victory, As-Saffah sent his forces to
Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia Asia () is 's largest and most populous , located primarily in the and . It shares the continental of with the continent of and the continental landmass of with both Europe and . Asia covers an area ...

Central Asia
, where his forces fought against Tang expansion during the
Battle of Talas The Battle of Talas or Battle of Artlakh (; ar, معركة نهر طلاس, translit=maerakat nahr talas, Nastaliq: ) was a military engagement between the Abbasid, Abbasid Caliphate along with its ally, the Tibetan Empire, against the Chinese ...

Battle of Talas
. The noble Iranian family
Barmakids The Barmakids ( fa, برمکیان ''Barmakīyān''; ar, البرامكة ''al-Barāmikah'');Harold Bailey, 1943. "Iranica" BSOAS 11: p. 2. India - Department of Archaeology, and V. S. Mirashi (ed.), ''Inscriptions of the Kalachuri-Chedi Era'' vo ...
, who were instrumental in building
Baghdad Baghdad (; ar, بَغْدَاد ) is the capital of and one of the in the , and compared to its large population it has a small area at just 673 square kilometers (260 sq mi). Located along the , near the ruins of the city of and the anc ...
, introduced the world's first recorded
paper mill A paper mill is a factory A factory, manufacturing plant or a production plant is an industrial Industrial may also refer to: Industry * Industrial archaeology, the study of the history of the industry * Industrial engineering, engineering ...
in the city, thus beginning a new era of intellectual rebirth in the Abbasid domain. As-Saffah focused on putting down numerous rebellions in Syria and Mesopotamia. The
Byzantines
Byzantines
conducted raids during these early distractions.


Power (752–775)

The first change made by the Abbasids under
Al-Mansur Al-Mansur or Abu Ja'far Abdallah ibn Muhammad al-Mansur (; ar, أبو جعفر عبدالله بن محمد المنصور‎; 95 AH – 158 AH (714 AD – 6 October 775 AD) was the second Abbasid The Abbasid Caliphate ( or ar, اَلْ ...

Al-Mansur
was to move the empire's capital from
Damascus )), is an adjective which means "spacious". , motto = , image_flag = Flag of Damascus.svg , image_seal = Emblem of Damascus.svg , seal_type = Seal , m ...

Damascus
to a newly founded city. Established on the
Tigris River The Tigris, () is the eastern of the two great river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end ...

Tigris River
in 762,
Baghdad Baghdad (; ar, بَغْدَاد ) is the capital of and one of the in the , and compared to its large population it has a small area at just 673 square kilometers (260 sq mi). Located along the , near the ruins of the city of and the anc ...

Baghdad
was closer to the Persian ''mawali'' support base of the Abbasids, and this move addressed their demand for less Arab dominance in the empire. A new position, that of the
vizier A vizier (; ar, وزير, wazīr; fa, وزیر, vazīr), or wazir, is a high-ranking political advisor or minister in the near east. The caliphs gave the title ''wazir'' to a minister formerly called ' (secretary), who was at first merely a ...
, was also established to delegate central authority, and even greater authority was delegated to local emirs. Caliph al-Mansur centralised the judicial administration, and later, Harun al-Rashid established the institution of Chief Qadi to oversee it. This resulted in a more ceremonial role for many Abbasid caliphs relative to their time under the Umayyads; the viziers began to exert greater influence, and the role of the old Arab aristocracy was slowly replaced by a Persian bureaucracy. During Al-Mansur's time, control of was lost, and the Shia revolted and were defeated a year later at the Battle of Bakhamra. The Abbasids had depended heavily on the support of Persians in their overthrow of the Umayyads. Abu al-'Abbas' successor
Al-Mansur Al-Mansur or Abu Ja'far Abdallah ibn Muhammad al-Mansur (; ar, أبو جعفر عبدالله بن محمد المنصور‎; 95 AH – 158 AH (714 AD – 6 October 775 AD) was the second Abbasid The Abbasid Caliphate ( or ar, اَلْ ...

Al-Mansur
welcomed non-Arab Muslims to his court. While this helped integrate Arab and Persian cultures, it alienated many of their Arab supporters, particularly the Khorasanian Arabs who had supported them in their battles against the Umayyads. This fissure in support led to immediate problems. The Umayyads, while out of power, were not destroyed; the only surviving member of the Umayyad royal family ultimately made his way to Spain where he established himself as an independent
Emir Emir (; ar, أمير ' ), sometimes Romanization of Arabic, transliterated amir, amier, or ameer, is a word of Arabic language, Arabic origin that can refer to a male monarch, aristocratic, aristocrat, holder of high-ranking military or politic ...

Emir
(
Abd ar-Rahman I Abd al-Rahman I, more fully Abd al-Rahman ibn Mu'awiya ibn Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan (731–788) was the founder of the Arab dynasty that ruled the greater part of Iberia The Iberian Peninsula , ** * Aragonese language, Aragonese ...

Abd ar-Rahman I
, 756). In 929,
Abd ar-Rahman III Abd al-Raḥmān III, also known as 'Abd al-Rahmān ibn Muḥammad ibn 'Abd Allāh ibn Muḥammad ibn 'Abd al-Raḥmān ibn al-Ḥakam al-Rabdī ibn Hishām ibn 'Abd al-Raḥmān al-Dākhil () (889/91 - 961), was the Umayyad Emir of Córdoba fr ...
assumed the title of Caliph, establishing from Córdoba as a rival to Baghdad as the legitimate capital of the Islamic Empire. The Umayyad empire was mostly Arab; however, the Abbasids progressively became made up of more and more converted Muslims in which the Arabs were only one of many ethnicities. There is a late tradition of several
Abbasid expeditions to East Africa Two or three Abbasid expeditions to East Africa are mentioned in the late Arabic ''Book of the Zanj''. The Abbasid caliphs al-Manṣūr (754–775), Hārūn al-Rashīd (786–809) and al-Maʾmūn (813–833) are reputed to have sent punitive expedit ...
. According to the ''
Book of the Zanj A book is a medium for recording information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" and thus defines both its essence and the nature of its characteristics. The conc ...
'', in the year 755, during the early stages of the Abbasid Caliphate, the people of current day
Somalia Somalia,, Osmanya script: 𐒈𐒝𐒑𐒛𐒐𐒘𐒕𐒖; ar, الصومال, aṣ-Ṣūmāl officially the Federal Republic of SomaliaThe ''Federal Republic of Somalia'' is the country's name per Article 1 of thProvisional Constitutio ...

Somalia
around
Mogadishu Mogadishu (, also ; so, Muqdisho or Xamar ; ar, مقديشو, Muqadīshū ; it, Mogadiscio ), locally known as Xamar or Hamar, is the capital city and most populous city The United Nations uses three definitions for what constitutes a city ...

Mogadishu
showed great loyalty to the newly created administration. It is reported that Yahya ibn Umar al Anzi the messenger of the second caliph of the Abbasids Abu Ja'far al-Mansur that the Sultan of Mogadishu and his people swore allegiance to the Caliphate and paid taxes regularly. However, in the year 804 (189 AH), the people of
Mogadishu Mogadishu (, also ; so, Muqdisho or Xamar ; ar, مقديشو, Muqadīshū ; it, Mogadiscio ), locally known as Xamar or Hamar, is the capital city and most populous city The United Nations uses three definitions for what constitutes a city ...

Mogadishu
and the Swahili coast to
Kilwa Kilwa Kisiwani (English: ''Kilwa Island'') is an island, national historic site, and hamlet community located in the township of Kilwa Masoko, the district seat of Kilwa District in the Tanzanian region of Lindi Region in southern Tanzania. Kilw ...
rebelled against the Abbasid rule and the administration of
Harun al-Rashid Harun al-Rashid (; ar, هَارُون الرَشِيد ''Hārūn Ar-Rašīd'', "Aaron the Just" or "Aaron the Rightly-Guided"; 17 March 763 or February 766 – 24 March 809 Common Era, CE / 148–193 Hijri year, AH) was the fifth Abbasid C ...
. Additionally, they refused to pay tax.
Harun al-Rashid Harun al-Rashid (; ar, هَارُون الرَشِيد ''Hārūn Ar-Rašīd'', "Aaron the Just" or "Aaron the Rightly-Guided"; 17 March 763 or February 766 – 24 March 809 Common Era, CE / 148–193 Hijri year, AH) was the fifth Abbasid C ...
sent a successful punitive mission to the region to reassert Abbasid control and sovereignty. Despite this, the Sultanate of Mogadishu remained in constant rebellion. In 829 Al Ma'mun the 7th Caliph of the Abbasids sent an army of 50,000 men to crush the secessionist enclaves and add them back to the Caliphate. In 756, the Abbasid Caliph
Al-Mansur Al-Mansur or Abu Ja'far Abdallah ibn Muhammad al-Mansur (; ar, أبو جعفر عبدالله بن محمد المنصور‎; 95 AH – 158 AH (714 AD – 6 October 775 AD) was the second Abbasid The Abbasid Caliphate ( or ar, اَلْ ...

Al-Mansur
sent over 4,000 Arab mercenaries to assist the Chinese
Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna or interregnums) is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organiza ...
in the
An Shi Rebellion The An Lushan Rebellion was an uprising against the Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum between 690 and 705. It was preceded by the Sui dy ...
against
An Lushan An Lushan or An Lu-shan (20th day of the 1st month (February), 703 – 25/29 January 757) was a general in the and is primarily known for instigating the . An Lushan was of n and origin,Yang, Zhijiu, "An Lushan". ' (Chinese History Edition), 1 ...
. The Abbasids, or "Black Flags" as they were commonly called, were known in Tang dynasty chronicles as the ''hēiyī Dàshí'', "The Black-robed Tazi" () ("Tazi" being a borrowing from Persian '' Tāzī'', the word for "Arab"). Al-Rashid sent embassies to the Chinese
Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna or interregnums) is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organiza ...
and established good relations with them. After the war, these embassies remained in China with Caliph
Harun al-Rashid Harun al-Rashid (; ar, هَارُون الرَشِيد ''Hārūn Ar-Rašīd'', "Aaron the Just" or "Aaron the Rightly-Guided"; 17 March 763 or February 766 – 24 March 809 Common Era, CE / 148–193 Hijri year, AH) was the fifth Abbasid C ...
establishing an alliance with China. Several embassies from the Abbasid Caliphs to the Chinese court have been recorded in the T'ang Annals, the most important of these being those of As-Saffah, Abul Abbas al-Saffah, the first Abbasid caliph; his successor Al-Mansur, Abu Jafar; and
Harun al-Rashid Harun al-Rashid (; ar, هَارُون الرَشِيد ''Hārūn Ar-Rašīd'', "Aaron the Just" or "Aaron the Rightly-Guided"; 17 March 763 or February 766 – 24 March 809 Common Era, CE / 148–193 Hijri year, AH) was the fifth Abbasid C ...
.


Abbasid Golden Age (775–861)

The Abbasid leadership had to work hard in the last half of the 8th century (750–800) under several competent caliphs and their viziers to usher in the administrative changes needed to keep order of the political challenges created by the far-flung nature of the empire, and the limited communication across it. It was also during this early period of the dynasty, in particular during the governance of al-Mansur,
Harun al-Rashid Harun al-Rashid (; ar, هَارُون الرَشِيد ''Hārūn Ar-Rašīd'', "Aaron the Just" or "Aaron the Rightly-Guided"; 17 March 763 or February 766 – 24 March 809 Common Era, CE / 148–193 Hijri year, AH) was the fifth Abbasid C ...
, and al-Ma'mun, that its reputation and power were created. Al-Mahdi Abbasid invasion of Asia Minor (782), restarted the fighting with the Byzantines, and his sons continued the conflict until Irene of Athens, Empress Irene pushed for peace. After several years of peace, Nikephoros I broke the treaty, then fended off multiple incursions during the first decade of the 9th century. These attacks pushed into the Taurus Mountains, culminating with a victory at the Battle of Krasos and the Abbasid invasion of Asia Minor (806), massive invasion of 806, led by Rashid himself. Rashid's navy also proved successful, taking Cyprus. Rashid decided to focus on the rebellion of Rafi ibn al-Layth in Khorasan and died while there. Military operations by the caliphate were minimal while the Byzantine Empire was fighting Abbasid rule in Syria and Anatolia, with focus shifting primarily to internal matters; Abbasid governors exerted greater autonomy and, using this increasing power, began to make their positions hereditary. At the same time, the Abbasids faced challenges closer to home. Harun al-Rashid turned on and killed most of the
Barmakids The Barmakids ( fa, برمکیان ''Barmakīyān''; ar, البرامكة ''al-Barāmikah'');Harold Bailey, 1943. "Iranica" BSOAS 11: p. 2. India - Department of Archaeology, and V. S. Mirashi (ed.), ''Inscriptions of the Kalachuri-Chedi Era'' vo ...
, a Persian family that had grown significantly in administrative power. During the same period, several factions began either to leave the empire for other lands or to take control of distant parts of the empire. Still, the reigns of al-Rashid and his sons were considered to be the apex of the Abbasids. After Rashid's death, the empire was split by a Fourth Fitna, civil war between the caliph al-Amin and his brother al-Ma'mun, who had the support of Khorasan. This war ended with a Siege of Baghdad (812–813), two-year siege of Baghdad and the eventual death of al-Amin in 813. Al-Ma'mun ruled for 20 years of relative calm interspersed with a rebellion in Iranian Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan by the Khurramites, which was supported by the Byzantines. Al-Ma'mun was also responsible for the creation of an autonomous Khorasan, and the continued repulsing of Byzantine forays. Al-Mu'tasim gained power in 833 and his rule marked the end of the strong caliphs. He strengthened his personal army with Turkish mercenaries and promptly restarted the war with the Byzantines. Though his attempt to seize Constantinople failed when his fleet was destroyed by a storm, his military excursions were generally successful, culminating with a resounding victory in the Sack of Amorium. The Byzantines responded by Sack of Damietta (853), sacking Damietta in Egypt, and Al-Mutawakkil responded by sending his troops into Anatolia again, sacking and marauding until they were Battle of Lalakaon, eventually annihilated in 863.


Fracture to autonomous dynasties (861–945)

Even by 820, the Samanids had begun the process of exercising independent authority in
Transoxiana Transoxiana or Transoxania is an ancient name referring to a region and civilization located in lower roughly corresponding to modern-day eastern , , southern and southern . Geographically, it is the region between the rivers to its south and ...
and Greater Khorasan, and the succeeding Tahirid and Saffarid dynasties of Iran. The Saffarids, from Khorasan, nearly seized Baghdad in 876, and the Tulunids took control of most of Syria. The trend of weakening of the central power and strengthening of the minor caliphates on the periphery continued. An exception was the 10-year period of Al-Mu'tadid's rule (892–902). He brought parts of Egypt, Syria, and Khorasan back into Abbasid control. Especially after the "Anarchy at Samarra" (861–870), the Abbasid central government was weakened and centrifugal tendencies became more prominent in the Caliphate's provinces. By the early 10th century, the Abbasids almost lost control of Iraq to various amirs, and the caliph al-Radi was forced to acknowledge their power by creating the position of "Prince of Princes" (''amir al-umara''). Al-Mustakfi had a short reign from 944 to 946, and it was during this period that the Persian faction known as the
Buyids The Buyid dynasty, or the Buyids ( fa, آل بویه ''Āl-e Būya''; also known as Buwaihids, Bowayhids, Buyahids, or Buyyids), was a Shia Shia Islam or Shi'ism is the second largest branch Image:Tree Leaves.JPG, The branches and leaves o ...
from Daylam swept into power and assumed control over the bureaucracy in Baghdad. According to the history of Miskawayh, they began distributing iqtas (fiefs in the form of tax farms) to their supporters. This period of localized secular control was to last nearly 100 years. The loss of Abbasid power to the Buyids would shift as the Seljuks would take over from the Persians. At the end of the eighth century, the Abbasids found they could no longer keep together a polity, which had grown larger than that of Rome, from Baghdad. In 793 the Zaydi-Shia dynasty of Idrisids set up a state from Fez in Morocco, while a family of governors under the Abbasids became increasingly independent until they founded the Aghlabid Emirate from the 830s. Al-Mu'tasim started the downward slide by utilizing non-Muslim mercenaries in his personal army. Also during this period, officers started assassinating superiors with whom they disagreed, in particular the caliphs. By the 870s, Egypt became autonomous under Ahmad ibn Tulun. In the East, governors decreased their ties to the center as well. The Saffarids of Herat and the Samanids of Bukhara began breaking away around this time, cultivating a much more Persianate culture and statecraft. Only the central lands of Mesopotamia were under direct Abbasid control, with Palestine and the Hijaz often managed by the Tulunids. Byzantium, for its part, had begun to push Arab Muslims farther east in Anatolia. By the 920s, North Africa was lost to the Fatimid dynasty, a Shia sect tracing its roots to Muhammad's daughter Fatima. The Fatimid dynasty took control of Idrisid and Aghlabid domains, advanced to Egypt in 969, and established their capital near Fustat in Cairo, which they built as a bastion of Shia learning and politics. By 1000 they had become the chief political and ideological challenge to Sunni Islam and the Abbasids, who by this time had fragmented into several governorships that, while recognizing caliphal authority from Baghdad, remained mostly autonomous. The Caliph himself was under 'protection' of the Buyid Emirs who possessed all of Iraq and western Iran, and were quietly Shia in their sympathies. Outside Iraq, all the autonomous provinces slowly took on the characteristic of de facto states with hereditary rulers, armies, and revenues and operated under only nominal caliph suzerainty, which may not necessarily be reflected by any contribution to the treasury, such as the Soomro
Emir Emir (; ar, أمير ' ), sometimes Romanization of Arabic, transliterated amir, amier, or ameer, is a word of Arabic language, Arabic origin that can refer to a male monarch, aristocratic, aristocrat, holder of high-ranking military or politic ...

Emir
s that had gained control of Sindh and ruled the entire province from their capital of Mansura, Sindh, Mansura. Mahmud of Ghazni took the title of sultan, as opposed to the Emir, "amir" that had been in more common usage, signifying the Ghaznavids, Ghaznavid Empire's independence from caliphal authority, despite Mahmud's ostentatious displays of Sunni orthodoxy and ritual submission to the caliph. In the 11th century, the loss of respect for the caliphs continued, as some Islamic rulers no longer mentioned the caliph's name in the Friday khutba, or struck it off their coinage. The
Isma'ili Ismāʿīlism ( ar, الإسماعيلية, ''al-ʾIsmāʿīlīyah''; fa, اسماعیلیان, ''Esmâ'īliyân'') is a branch or sub-sect of Shia Islam. The Ismāʿīlī () get their name from their acceptance of Imam Isma'il ibn Jafar, Ism ...
Fatimid dynasty of Cairo contested the Abbasids for the titular authority of the Islamic
ummah ' ( ar, أمة ) is an Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental cou ...
. They commanded some support in the Shia sections of Baghdad (such as Karkh), although Baghdad was the city most closely connected to the caliphate, even in the Buyid and Seljuq eras. The challenge of the Fatimids only ended with their downfall in the 12th century.


Buyid and Seljuq control (945–1118)

Despite the power of the Buyids, Buyid amirs, the Abbasids retained a highly ritualized court in Baghdad, as described by the Buyid bureaucrat Hilal al-Sabi', and they retained a certain influence over Baghdad as well as religious life. As Buyid power waned with the rule of Baha' al-Daula, the caliphate was able to regain some measure of strength. The caliph al-Qadir, for example, led the ideological struggle against the Shia with writings such as the ''Baghdad Manifesto''. The caliphs kept order in Baghdad itself, attempting to prevent the outbreak of fitna (word), fitnas in the capital, often contending with the ''ayyarun''. With the Buyid dynasty on the wane, a vacuum was created that was eventually filled by the dynasty of Oghuz Turks known as the Seljuqs. By 1055, the Seljuqs had wrested control from the Buyids and Abbasids, and took any remaining temporal power. When the amir and former slave Basasiri took up the Shia Fatimid banner in Baghdad in 1056–57, the caliph Al-Qa'im (Abbasid caliph at Baghdad), al-Qa'im was unable to defeat him without outside help. Toghril Beg, the Seljuq sultan, restored Baghdad to Sunni rule and took Iraq for his dynasty. Once again, the Abbasids were forced to deal with a military power that they could not match, though the Abbasid caliph remained the titular head of the Islamic community. The succeeding sultans Alp Arslan and Malikshah, as well as their vizier Nizam al-Mulk, took up residence in Persia, but held power over the Abbasids in Baghdad. When the dynasty began to weaken in the 12th century, the Abbasids gained greater independence once again.


Revival of military strength (1118–1258)

While the Caliph al-Mustarshid was the first caliph to build an army capable of meeting a Seljuk army in battle, he was nonetheless defeated in 1135 and assassinated. The Caliph Al-Muqtafi (Abbasid Caliph), al-Muqtafi was the first Abbasid Caliph to regain the full military independence of the Caliphate, with the help of his vizier Awn ad-Din ibn Hubayra, Ibn Hubayra. After nearly 250 years of subjection to foreign dynasties, he successfully defended Baghdad against the Seljuqs in the siege of Baghdad (1157), thus securing Iraq for the Abbasids. The reign of al-Nasir (d. 1225) brought the caliphate back into power throughout Iraq, based in large part on the Sufi futuwwa organizations that the caliph headed. Al-Mustansir (caliph), Al-Mustansir built the Mustansiriya School, in an attempt to eclipse the Seljuq-era Al-Nizamiyya of Baghdad, Nizamiyya built by Nizam al Mulk.


Mongol invasion (1206–1258)

In 1206, Genghis Khan established a powerful dynasty among the Mongols of central Asia. During the 13th century, this Mongol Empire conquered most of the Eurasian land mass, including both China in the east and much of the old Islamic caliphate (as well as Kievan Rus') in the west.
Hulagu Khan Hulagu Khan, also known as Hülegü or Hulegu ( mn, Khalkha Mongolian, Хүлэгү/Chakhar Mongolian, , lit=Surplus, translit=Hu’legu’/Qülegü; chg, ; fa, , ''Hulâgu xân''; Arabic: ; ; 8 February 1265), was a Mongols, Mongol ruler w ...

Hulagu Khan
's Battle of Baghdad (1258), destruction of Baghdad in 1258 is traditionally seen as the approximate end of the Golden Age. Mongols feared that a supernatural disaster would strike if the blood of
Al-Musta'sim Al-Musta'sim Billah (full name: al-Musta'sim-Billah Abu-Ahmad Abdullah bin al-Mustansir-Billah; ; 1213 – February 20, 1258) was the 37th and last caliph of the Abbasid Caliphate; he ruled from 1242 until his death in 1258. Biography Al-Musta'si ...
, a direct descendant of Muhammad's uncle
Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib Al-Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib ( ar, ٱلْعَبَّاسُ ٱبْنُ عَبْدِ ٱلْمُطَّلِبِ, al-ʿAbbās ibn ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib; –   CE) was paternal uncle and Sahabi Muhammad and his companions on an Ottoman minia ...
, and the last reigning Abbasid caliph in Baghdad, was spilled. The Shia of
Persia Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in . It is bordered to the northwest by and , to the north by the , to the northeast by , to the east by , to the southeast by , t ...

Persia
stated that no such calamity had happened after the death of Husayn ibn Ali in the Battle of Kerbala; nevertheless, as a precaution and in accordance with a Mongol taboo which forbade spilling royal blood, Hulagu had Al-Musta'sim wrapped in a carpet and trampled to death by horses on 20 February 1258. The Caliph's immediate family was also executed, with the lone exceptions of his youngest son who was sent to Mongolia, and a daughter who became a slave in the harem of Hulagu.


Abbasid Caliphate of Cairo (1261–1517)

In the 9th century, the Abbasids created an army loyal only to their caliphate, composed of non-Arab origin people, known as Mamluks. This force, created in the reign of al-Ma'mun (813–833) and his brother and successor al-Mu'tasim (833–842), prevented the further disintegration of the empire. The Mamluk army, though often viewed negatively, both helped and hurt the caliphate. Early on, it provided the government with a stable force to address domestic and foreign problems. However, creation of this foreign army and al-Mu'tasim's transfer of the capital from Baghdad to Abbasid Samarra, Samarra created a division between the caliphate and the peoples they claimed to rule. In addition, the power of the Mamluks steadily grew until al-Radi (934–941) was constrained to hand over most of the royal functions to Muhammad ibn Ra'iq. The Mamluks eventually came to power in Egypt. In 1261, following the devastation of Baghdad by the Mongols, the Mamluk rulers of Egypt re-established the Abbasid caliphate in
Cairo Cairo ( ; ar, القاهرة, al-Qāhirah, , Coptic language, Coptic: ⲕⲁϩⲓⲣⲏ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities and towns in Egypt, largest city of Egypt. The Greater Cairo, Cairo metropolitan area, with a population o ...

Cairo
. The first Abbasid caliph of Cairo was Al-Mustansir II of Cairo, Al-Mustansir. The Abbasid caliphs in Egypt continued to maintain the presence of authority, but it was confined to religious matters. The Abbasid caliphate of Cairo lasted until the time of Al-Mutawakkil III, who was taken away as a prisoner by Selim I to Constantinople where he had a ceremonial role. He died in 1543, following his return to Cairo.


Culture


Islamic Golden Age

The Abbasid historical period lasting to the Siege of Baghdad (1258), Mongol conquest of Baghdad in 1258 CE is considered the Islamic Golden Age. The Islamic Golden Age was inaugurated by the middle of the 8th century by the ascension of the Abbasid Caliphate and the transfer of the capital from
Damascus )), is an adjective which means "spacious". , motto = , image_flag = Flag of Damascus.svg , image_seal = Emblem of Damascus.svg , seal_type = Seal , m ...

Damascus
to Baghdad. The Abbassids were influenced by the Qur'anic injunctions and hadith, such as "the ink of a scholar is more holy than the blood of a martyr", stressing the value of knowledge. During this period the Muslim world became an intellectual center for science, philosophy, medicine and education as the Abbasids championed the cause of knowledge and established the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, where both Muslim and non-Muslim scholars sought to translate and gather all the world's knowledge into Arabic language, Arabic. Many classic works of antiquity that would otherwise have been lost were translated into Arabic and Persian and later in turn translated into Turkish, Hebrew and Latin. During this period the Muslim world was a cauldron of cultures which collected, synthesized and significantly advanced the knowledge gained from the Ancient Rome, Roman, Chinese, History of India, Indian, Sasanian Empire, Persian, Ancient Egypt, Egyptian, North African, Ancient Greece, Ancient Greek and Byzantine, Medieval Greek civilizations. According to Huff, "[i]n virtually every field of endeavor—in astronomy, alchemy, mathematics, medicine, optics and so forth—the Caliphate's scientists were in the forefront of scientific advance."


Science

The reigns of
Harun al-Rashid Harun al-Rashid (; ar, هَارُون الرَشِيد ''Hārūn Ar-Rašīd'', "Aaron the Just" or "Aaron the Rightly-Guided"; 17 March 763 or February 766 – 24 March 809 Common Era, CE / 148–193 Hijri year, AH) was the fifth Abbasid C ...
(786–809) and his successors fostered an age of great intellectual achievement. In large part, this was the result of the schismatic forces that had undermined the Umayyad regime, which relied on the assertion of the superiority of Arab culture as part of its claim to legitimacy, and the Abbasids' welcoming of support from non-Arab Muslims. It is well established that the Abbasid caliphs modeled their administration on that of the Sasanian Empire, Sassanids. Harun al-Rashid's son, Al-Ma'mun (whose mother was Persian people, Persian), is even quoted as saying: A number of medieval thinkers and scientists living under Islamic rule played a role in transmitting Islamic science to the Christian West. In addition, the period saw the recovery of much of the Alexandrian mathematical, geometric and astronomical knowledge, such as that of Euclid and Claudius Ptolemy. These recovered mathematical methods were later enhanced and developed by other Islamic scholars, notably by Persian people, Persian scientists Al-Biruni and Abu Nasr Mansur. Christians (particularly Nestorianism, Nestorian Christians) contributed to the Arab Islamic Civilization during the Ummayads and the Abbasids by translating works of Greek philosophers to Syriac Language, Syriac and afterwards to Arabic Language, Arabic. Nestorians played a prominent role in the formation of Arab culture, with the Academy of Gondishapur being prominent in the late Sassanid, Umayyad and early Abbasid periods. Notably, eight generations of the Nestorian Bukhtishu family served as private doctors to caliphs and sultans between the eighth and eleventh centuries. Algebra was significantly developed by Persian scientist Muhammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī during this time in his landmark text, ''The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing, Kitab al-Jabr wa-l-Muqabala'', from which the term ''algebra'' is derived. He is thus considered to be the father of algebra by some, although the Greek mathematician Diophantus has also been given this title. The terms algorism and algorithm are derived from the name of al-Khwarizmi, who was also responsible for introducing the Arabic numerals and Hindu-Arabic numeral system beyond the Indian subcontinent. Arab scientist Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen) developed an early scientific method in his ''Book of Optics'' (1021). The most important development of the scientific method was the use of experiments to distinguish between competing scientific theories set within a generally empiricism, empirical orientation, which began among Muslim scientists. Ibn al-Haytham's empirical proof of the intromission theory of light (that is, that light rays entered the eyes rather than being emission theory (vision), emitted by them) was particularly important. Alhazen was significant in the history of scientific method, particularly in his approach to experimentation, and has been referred to as the "world's first true scientist". Medicine in medieval Islam was an area of science that advanced particularly during the Abbasids' reign. During the 9th century, Baghdad contained over 800 doctors, and great discoveries in the understanding of anatomy and diseases were made. The clinical distinction between measles and smallpox was described during this time. Famous Persian scientist Ibn Sina (known to the West as Avicenna) produced treatises and works that summarized the vast amount of knowledge that scientists had accumulated, and was very influential through his encyclopedias, ''The Canon of Medicine'' and ''The Book of Healing''. The work of him and many others directly influenced the research of European scientists during the Renaissance. Astronomy in medieval Islam was advanced by Al-Battani, who improved the precision of the measurement of the precession of the Earth's axis. The corrections made to the geocentric model by al-Battani, Averroes, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, Mo'ayyeduddin Urdi and Ibn al-Shatir were later incorporated into the Copernican heliocentrism, Copernican heliocentric model. The astrolabe, though originally developed by the Greeks, was developed further by Islamic astronomers and engineers, and subsequently brought to medieval Europe. Alchemy and chemistry in medieval Islam, Muslim alchemists influenced medieval European alchemists, particularly the writings attributed to Jābir ibn Hayyān (Geber).


Literature

The best known fiction from the Islamic world is ''The Book of One Thousand and One Nights'', a collection of fantastical folk tales, legends and parables compiled primarily during the Abbassid era. The collection is recorded as having originated from an Arabic translation of a Sassanian era Persian prototype, with likely origins in Indian literary traditions. Stories from Arabic literature, Arabic, Persian literature, Persian, Mesopotamian, and Egyptian literature, Egyptian folklore and literature were later incorporated. The epic is believed to have taken shape in the 10th century and reached its final form by the 14th century; the number and type of tales have varied from one manuscript to another.. All Arabian fantasy tales were often called "Arabian Nights" when translated into English, regardless of whether they appeared in ''The Book of One Thousand and One Nights''. This epic has been influential in the West since it was translated in the 18th century, first by Antoine Galland. Many imitations were written, especially in France. Various characters from this epic have themselves become cultural icons in Western culture, such as Aladdin, Sinbad and Ali Baba. A famous example of Islamic poetry on romance (love), romance was ''Layla and Majnun'', an originally Arabic story which was further developed by Iranian peoples, Iranian, Azerbaijani people, Azerbaijani and other poets in the Persian language, Persian, Azerbaijani language, Azerbaijani, and Turkish language, Turkish languages. It is a Tragedy, tragic story of undying love much like the later ''Romeo and Juliet''. Arabic poetry reached its greatest height in the Abbasid era, especially before the loss of central authority and the rise of the Persianate dynasties. Writers like Abu Tammam and Abu Nuwas were closely connected to the caliphal court in Baghdad during the early 9th century, while others such as al-Mutanabbi received their patronage from regional courts. Under Harun al-Rashid, Baghdad was renowned for its bookstores, which proliferated after the making of paper was introduced. Chinese papermakers had been among those taken prisoner by the Arabs at the
Battle of Talas The Battle of Talas or Battle of Artlakh (; ar, معركة نهر طلاس, translit=maerakat nahr talas, Nastaliq: ) was a military engagement between the Abbasid, Abbasid Caliphate along with its ally, the Tibetan Empire, against the Chinese ...

Battle of Talas
in 751. As prisoners of war, they were dispatched to Samarkand, where they helped set up the first Arab paper mill. In time, paper substituted parchment as the medium for writing, and the production of books greatly increased. These events had an academic and societal impact that could be broadly compared to the introduction of the printing press in the West. Paper aided in communication and record-keeping, it also brought a new sophistication and complexity to businesses, banking, and the civil service. In 794, Jafa al-Barmak built the first paper mill in Baghdad, and from there the technology circulated. Harun required that paper be employed in government dealings, since something recorded on paper could not easily be changed or removed, and eventually, an entire street in Baghdad's business district was dedicated to selling paper and books.


Philosophy

One of the common definitions for "Islamic philosophy" is "the style of philosophy produced within the framework of Islamic culture." Islamic philosophy, in this definition is neither necessarily concerned with religious issues, nor is exclusively produced by Muslims. Their works on Aristotle were a key step in the transmission of learning from ancient Greeks to the Islamic world and the West. They often corrected the philosopher, encouraging a lively debate in the spirit of ijtihad. They also wrote influential original philosophical works, and their thinking was incorporated into Christian philosophy during the Middle Ages, notably by Thomas Aquinas. Three speculative thinkers, al-Kindi, al-Farabi, and Avicenna, combined Aristotelianism and Neoplatonism with other ideas introduced through Islam, and Avicennism was later established as a result. Other influential Abbasid philosophers include al-Jahiz, and Ibn al-Haytham (Alhacen).


Architecture

As power shifted from the Umayyads to the Abbasids, the architectural styles changed also. The Christian styles evolved into a style based more on the Sasanian Empire, utilizing mud bricks and baked bricks with carved stucco. Another major development was the creation or vast enlargement of cities as they were turned into the capital of the empire, beginning with the creation of Baghdad in 762, which was planned as a walled city with four gates, and a mosque and palace in the center. Al-Mansur, who was responsible for the creation of Baghdad, also planned the city of Raqqa, along the Euphrates. Finally, in 836, al-Mu'tasim moved the capital to a new site that he created along the Tigris, called Abbasid Samarra, Samarra. This city saw 60 years of work, with race-courses and game preserves to add to the atmosphere. Due to the dry remote nature of the environment, some of the palaces built in this era were isolated havens. Al-Ukhaidir Fortress is a fine example of this type of building, which has stables, living quarters, and a mosque, all surrounding inner courtyards. Other mosques of this era, such as the Mosque of Ibn Tulun, in
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Cairo
, and the Great Mosque of Kairouan in Tunisia, while ultimately built during the Umayyad dynasty, were substantially renovated in the 9th century. These renovations, so extensive as to ostensibly be rebuilds, were in the furthest reaches of the Muslim world, in an area that the
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controlled; however, the styles utilized were mainly Abbasid. Mesopotamia only has one surviving mausoleum from this era, in Samarra. This octagonal dome is the final resting place of al-Muntasir. Other architectural innovations and styles were few, such as the four-centred arch, four-centered arch, and a dome erected on squinches. Unfortunately, much was lost due to the ephemeral nature of the stucco and luster tiles.


Foundation of Baghdad

The Caliph al-Mansur founded the epicenter of the empire,
Baghdad Baghdad (; ar, بَغْدَاد ) is the capital of and one of the in the , and compared to its large population it has a small area at just 673 square kilometers (260 sq mi). Located along the , near the ruins of the city of and the anc ...

Baghdad
, in 762 CE, as a means of disassociating his dynasty from that of the preceding Umayyad Caliphate, Umayyads (centered at Damascus) and the rebellious cities of Kufa and Basrah. Mesopotamia was an ideal locale for a capital city due to its high agricultural output, access to the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers (allowing for trade and communication across the region), central locale between the corners of the vast empire (stretching from Egypt to Afghanistan) and access to the Silk Road and Indian Ocean trade routes, all key reasons as to why the region has hosted important capital cities such as Ur, Babylon, Nineveh and
Ctesiphon Ctesiphon ( ; Middle Persian Middle Persian or Pahlavi, also known by its endonym Pārsīk or Pārsīg (𐭯𐭠𐭫𐭮𐭩𐭪) in its later form, is a Western Middle Iranian language which became the literary language of the Sasanian Empir ...

Ctesiphon
and was later desired by the British Empire as an outpost by which to maintain access to India. The city was organized in a circular fashion next to the Tigris River, with massive brick walls being constructed in successive rings around the core by a workforce of 100,000 with four huge gates (named Kufa, Basrah, Khorasan and Syria). The central enclosure of the city contained Mansur's palace of in area and the great mosque of Baghdad, encompassing . Travel across the Tigris and the network of waterways allowing the drainage of the Euphrates into the Tigris was facilitated by bridges and canals servicing the population.


Glass and crystal

The Near East has, since Roman times, been recognized as a center of quality glassware and crystal. 9th-century finds from Samarra show styles similar to Sassanian forms. The types of objects made were bottles, flasks, vases, and cups intended for domestic use, with decorations including molded flutes, honeycomb patterns, and inscriptions. Other styles seen that may not have come from the Sassanians were stamped items. These were typically round stamps, such as medallions or disks with animals, birds, or Kufic inscriptions. Colored lead glass, typically blue or green, has been found in Nishapur, along with prismatic perfume bottles. Finally, cut glass may have been the high point of Abbasid glass-working, decorated with floral and animal designs.


Painting

Early Abbasid painting has not survived in great quantities, and is sometimes harder to differentiate; however, Samarra provides good examples, as it was built by the Abbasids and abandoned 56 years later. The walls of the principal rooms of the palace that have been excavated show wall paintings and lively carved stucco Dado (architecture), dadoes. The style is obviously adopted with little variation from Sassanian art, bearing not only similar styles, with harems, animals, and dancing people, all enclosed in scrollwork, but the garments are also Persian. Nishapur had its own school of painting. Excavations at Nishapur show both monochromatic and polychromatic artwork from the 8th and 9th centuries. One famous piece of art consists of hunting nobles with falcons and on horseback, in full regalia; the clothing identifies them as Tahirid, which was, again, a sub-dynasty of the Abbasids. Other styles are of vegetation, and fruit in nice colors on a four-foot high dedo.


Pottery

Whereas painting and architecture were not areas of strength for the Abbasid dynasty, pottery was a different story. Islamic culture as a whole, and the Abbasids in particular, were at the forefront of new ideas and techniques. Some examples of their work were pieces engraved with decorations and then colored with yellow-brown, green, and purple glazes. Designs were diverse with geometric patterns, Kufic lettering, and Arabesque (Islamic art), arabesque scrollwork, along with rosettes, animals, birds, and humans. Abbasid pottery from the 8th and 9th centuries has been found throughout the region, as far as Cairo. These were generally made with a yellow clay and fired multiple times with separate glazes to produce metallic luster in shades of gold, brown, or red. By the 9th century, the potters had mastered their techniques and their decorative designs could be divided into two styles. The Persian style would show animals, birds, and humans, along with Kufic lettering in gold. Pieces excavated from Samarra exceed in vibrancy and beauty any from later periods. These predominantly being made for the Caliphs use. Tiles were also made using this same technique to create both monochromatic and polychromatic lusterware tiles.


Textiles

Egypt being a center of the textile industry was part of Abbasid cultural advancement. Copts were employed in the textile industry and produced linens and silks. Tinnis was famous for its factories and had over 5,000 looms. Examples of textiles were ''kasab'', a fine linen for turbans, and ''badana'' for upper-class garments. The kiswah for the kaaba in Mecca was made in a town named Tuna (Egypt), Tuna near Tinnis. Fine silk was also made in Dabik and Damietta. Of particular interest are stamped and inscribed fabrics, which used not only inks but also liquid gold. Some of the finer pieces were colored in such a manner as to require six separate stamps to achieve the proper design and color. This technology spread to Europe eventually.


Technology

In technology, the Abbasids adopted papermaking from China. The use of paper spread from China into the caliphate in the 8th century CE, arriving in (Islamic Spain) and then the rest of Europe in the 10th century. It was easier to manufacture than parchment, less likely to crack than papyrus, and could absorb ink, making it ideal for making records and copies of the Qur'an. "Islamic paper makers devised assembly-line methods of hand-copying manuscripts to turn out editions far larger than any available in Europe for centuries." It was from the Abbasids that the rest of the world learned to make paper from linen. The knowledge of gunpowder was also transmitted from China via the caliphate, where the formulas for pure potassium nitrate and an explosive gunpowder effect were first developed. Advances were made in irrigation and farming, using new technology such as the windmill. Crops such as almonds and citrus fruit were brought to Europe through , and sugar cultivation was gradually adopted by the Europeans. Apart from the Nile, Tigris and Euphrates, navigable rivers were uncommon, so transport by sea was very important. Navigational sciences were highly developed, making use of a rudimentary sextant (known as a kamal). When combined with detailed maps of the period, sailors were able to sail across oceans rather than skirt along the coast. Abbasid sailors were also responsible for reintroducing large three masted merchant vessels to the Mediterranean. The name caravel may derive from an earlier Arab ship known as the ''qārib''. Arab merchants dominated trade in the Indian Ocean until the arrival of the Portuguese in the 16th century. Ormus, Hormuz was an important center for this trade. There was also a dense network of trade routes in the Mediterranean, along which Muslim countries traded with each other and with European powers such as Venice or Genoa. The Silk Road crossing Central Asia passed through the Abbasid caliphate between China and Europe. Engineers in the Abbasid caliphate made a number of innovative industrial uses of hydropower, and early industrial uses of tidal power, wind power, and petroleum (notably by distillation into kerosene). The industrial uses of watermills in the Islamic world date back to the 7th century, while horizontal-Water wheel, wheeled and vertical-wheeled water mills were both in widespread use since at least the 9th century. By the time of the Crusades, every province throughout the Islamic world had mills in operation, from and North Africa to the Middle East and Central Asia. These mills performed a variety of agricultural and industrial tasks. Abbasid engineers also developed machines (such as pumps) incorporating crankshafts, employed gears in mills and water-raising machines, and used dams to provide additional power to watermills and water-raising machines. Such advances made it possible for many industrial tasks that were previously driven by manual labour in ancient times to be Mechanization, mechanized and driven by machinery instead in the medieval Islamic world. It has been argued that the industrial use of waterpower had spread from Islamic to Christian Spain, where fulling mills, paper mills, and forge mills were recorded for the first time in Catalonia. A number of industries were generated during the Arab Agricultural Revolution, including early industries for textiles, sugar, rope-making, matting, silk, and paper. Latin translations of the 12th century passed on knowledge of chemistry and instrument making in particular. The agricultural and handicraft industries also experienced high levels of growth during this period.


Status of women

In contrast to the earlier era, women in Abbasid society were absent from all arenas of the community's central affairs. While their Muslim forbears led men into battle, started rebellions, and played an active role in community life, as demonstrated in the Hadith literature, Abbasid women were ideally kept in seclusion. Conquests had brought enormous wealth and large numbers of slaves to the Muslim elite. The majority of the slaves were women and children,Morony, Michael G. Iraq after the Muslim conquest. Gorgias Press LLC, 2005 many of whom had been dependents or harem-members of the defeated Sasanian Empire, Sassanian upper classes.Abbott, Nabia. Two queens of Baghdad: mother and wife of Hārūn al Rashīd. University of Chicago Press, 1946. In the wake of the conquests an elite man could potentially own a thousand slaves, and ordinary soldiers could have ten people serving them. Nabia Abbott, preeminent historian of elite women of the Abbasid Caliphate, describes the lives of harem women as follows.
The choicest women were imprisoned behind heavy curtains and locked doors, the strings and keys of which were entrusted into the hands of that pitiable creature – the eunuch. As the size of the harem grew, men indulged to satiety. Satiety within the individual harem meant boredom for the one man and neglect for the many women. Under these conditions ... satisfaction by perverse and unnatural means crept into society, particularly in its upper classes.
The marketing of human beings, particularly women, as objects for sexual use meant that elite men owned the vast majority of women they interacted with, and related to them as would masters to slaves. Being a slave meant relative lack of autonomy, and belonging to a harem caused a wife and her children to have little insurance of stability and continued support due to the volatile politics of harem life. Elite men expressed in literature the horror they felt for the humiliation and degradation of their daughters and female relatives. For example, the verses addressed to Hasan ibn al-Firat on the death of his daughter read: Even so, slave courtesans (qiyans and jawaris) and princesses produced prestigious and important poetry. Enough survives to give us access to women's historical experiences, and reveals some vivacious and powerful figures, such as the Sufi mystic Rabia Basri, Raabi'a al-Adwiyya (714–801 CE), the princess and poet 'Ulayya bint al-Mahdi (777–825 CE), and the qiyan, singing-girls Shāriyah (–870 CE), Fadl Ashsha'ira (d. 871 CE) and Arib al-Ma'muniyya (797–890 CE). Each wife in the Abbasid harem had an additional home or flat, with her own enslaved personals staff of eunuchs and maidservants. When a concubine gave birth to a son, she was elevated in rank to umm walad and also received apartments and (slave) servants as a gift.


Treatment of Jews and Christians

The status and treatment of Jews, Christians, and non-Muslims in the Abbasid Caliphate was a complex and continually changing issue. Non-Muslims were called dhimmis. Dhimmis did not have all of the privileges that Muslims had and commonly had to pay jizya, a tax for not being a Muslim. One of the common aspects of the treatment of the dhimmis is that their treatment depended on who the Caliph was at the time. Some Abbasid rulers, like Al-Mutawakkil (822–861 CE) imposed strict restrictions on what dhimmis could wear in public, often yellow garments that distinguished them from Muslims. Other restrictions al-Mutawakkil imposed included limiting the role of the dhimmis in government, seizing dhimmi housing and making it harder for dhimmis to become educated. Most other Abbasid caliphs were not as strict as al-Mutawakkil, though. During the reign of
Al-Mansur Al-Mansur or Abu Ja'far Abdallah ibn Muhammad al-Mansur (; ar, أبو جعفر عبدالله بن محمد المنصور‎; 95 AH – 158 AH (714 AD – 6 October 775 AD) was the second Abbasid The Abbasid Caliphate ( or ar, اَلْ ...

Al-Mansur
(714–775 CE), it was common for Jews and Christians to influence the overall culture in the Caliphate, specifically in
Baghdad Baghdad (; ar, بَغْدَاد ) is the capital of and one of the in the , and compared to its large population it has a small area at just 673 square kilometers (260 sq mi). Located along the , near the ruins of the city of and the anc ...

Baghdad
. Jews and Christians did this by participating in scholarly work and Christians even influenced Islamic funeral service traditions. It was common that laws that were imposed against dhimmis during one caliph's rule were either discarded or not practiced during future caliphs' reigns. Al-Mansur and al-Mutawakkil both instituted laws that forbade non-Muslims from participating in public office. Al-Mansur did not follow his own law very closely, bringing dhimmis back to the Caliphate's treasury due to the needed expertise of dhimmis in the area of finance. Al-Mutawakkil followed the law banning dhimmis from public office more seriously, although, soon after his reign, many of the laws concerning dhimmis participating in government were completely unobserved or at least less strictly observed. Even Al-Muqtadir (), who held a similar stance as al-Mutawakkil on barring non-Muslims from public office, himself had multiple Christian secretaries, indicating that non-Muslims still had access to many of the most important figures within the Caliphate. Past having a casual association or just being a secretary to high-ranking Islamic officials, some of them achieved the second highest office after the caliph: the vizier. Jews and Christians may have had a lower overall status compared to Muslims in the Abbasid Caliphate, but dhimmis were often allowed to hold respectable and even prestigious occupations in some cases, such as doctors and public officeholders. Jews and Christians were also allowed to be rich even if they were taxed for being a dhimmi. Dhimmis were capable of moving up and down the social ladder, though this largely depended on the particular caliph. An indication as to the social standing of Jews and Christians at the time was their ability to live next to Muslim people. While al-Mansur was ruling the Caliphate, for instance, it was not uncommon for dhimmis to live in the same neighborhoods as Muslims. One of the biggest reasons why dhimmis were allowed to hold prestigious jobs and positions in government is that they were generally important to the well-being of the state and were proficient to excellent with the work at hand. Some Muslims in the Caliphate took offense to the idea that there were dhimmis in public offices who were in a way ruling over them although it was an Islamic state, while other Muslims were at time jealous of some dhimmis for having a level of wealth or prestige greater than other Muslims, even if Muslims were still the majority of the ruling class. In general, Muslims, Jews, and Christians had close relations that could be considered positive at times, especially for Jews, in contrast to how Jews were being treated in Europe. Many of the laws and restrictions that were imposed on dhimmis often resembled other laws that previous states had used to discriminate against a minority religion, specifically Jewish people. Romans in the fourth century banned Jewish people from holding public offices, banned Roman citizens from converting to Judaism, and often demoted Jews who were serving in the Roman military. In direct contrast, there was an event in which two viziers, Ibn al-Furat and Ali ibn Isa ibn al-Jarrah, argued about Ibn al-Furat's decision to make a Christian the head of the military. A previous vizier, Abu Muhammad al-Hasan al-Bazuri, had done so. These laws predated al-Mansur's laws against dhimmis and often had similar restrictions, although Roman emperors were often much more strict on enforcing these laws than many Abbasid caliphs. Most of History of the Jews in Baghdad, Baghdad's Jews were incorporated into the Arab community and regarded Arabic their native language. Some Jews studied Hebrew in their schools and Jewish religious education flourished. The united Muslim empire allowed Jews to reconstruct links between their dispersed communities throughout the Middle East. The city's Talmudic institute helped spread the rabbinical tradition to Europe, and the Jewish community in Baghdad went on to establish ten rabbinical schools and twenty-three synagogues. Baghdad not only contained the tombs of Muslim saints and martyrs, but also the tomb of the Hebrew prophet Joshua, whose corpse had been brought to Iraq during the first migration of the Jews out of the Levant.


Arabization

While the Abbasids originally gained power by exploiting the social inequalities against non-Arabs in the Umayyad Empire, during Abbasid rule the empire rapidly Arabized, particularly in the Fertile Crescent region (namely Mesopotamia and the Levant) as had begun under Umayyad rule. As knowledge was shared in the Arabic language throughout the empire, many people from different nationalities and religions began to speak Arabic in their everyday lives. Resources from other languages began to be translated into Arabic, and a unique Islamic identity began to form that fused previous cultures with Arab culture, creating a level of civilization and knowledge that was considered a marvel in Europe at the time.


Holidays

There were large feasts on certain days, as the Muslims of the empire celebrated Christian holidays as well as their own. There were two main Islamic feasts: Eid al-Fitr, one marked by the end of Ramadan; the other, Eid al-Adha, "the Feast of Sacrifice". The former was especially joyful because children would purchase decorations and sweetmeats; people prepared the best food and bought new clothes. At midmorning, the caliph, wearing Muhammad's thobe, would guide officials, accompanied by armed soldiers to the Great Mosque of al-Mansur, Great Mosque, where he led prayers. After the prayer, all those in attendance would exchange the best wishes and hug their kin and companions. The festivities lasted for three days. During those limited number of nights, the palaces were lit up and boats on the Tigris hung lights. It was said that Baghdad “glittered ‘like a bride." During Eid al-Adha, “the Feast of Sacrifice.”, sheep were butchered in public arenas and the caliph participated in a large-scale sacrifice in the palace courtyard. Afterward, the meat would be divided and given to the poor. In addition to these two holidays,
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s celebrated the birthdays of Fatimah and Ali ibn Abi Talib. Matrimonies and births in the royal family were observed by all in the empire. The announcement that one of the caliph's sons could Qira'at, recite the Koran smoothly was greeted by communal jubilation. When Harun developed this holy talent, the people lit torches and decorated the streets with wreaths of flowers, and his father, Al-Mahdi, freed 500 slaves. Of all the holidays imported from other cultures and religions, the one most celebrated in Baghdad (a city with many Persians) was Nowruz, which celebrated the arrival of spring. In a ceremonial ablution introduced by Persian troops, residents sprinkled themselves with water and ate almond cakes. The palaces of the imperial family were lit up for six days and nights. The Abbasids also celebrated the Persian holiday of Mihraj, which marked the onset of winter (signified with pounding drums), and Sadar, when homes burned incense and the masses would congregate along the Tigris to witness princes and viziers pass by.


Military

In Baghdad there were many Abbasid military leaders who were or said they were of Arabs, Arab descent. However, it is clear that most of the ranks were of Iranian peoples, Iranian origin, the vast majority being from Khorasan Province, Khorasan and
Transoxiana Transoxiana or Transoxania is an ancient name referring to a region and civilization located in lower roughly corresponding to modern-day eastern , , southern and southern . Geographically, it is the region between the rivers to its south and ...
, not from western Iran or Azerbaijan. Most of the Khorasani soldiers who brought the Abbasids to power were Arabs. The standing army of the Muslims in Khorosan was overwhelmingly Arab. The unit organization of the Abbasids was designed with the goal of ethnic and racial equality among supporters. When Abu Muslim recruited officers along the Silk Road, he registered them based not on their tribal or ethno-national affiliations but on their current places of residence.The Cambridge History of Iran
p. 62
Ed. Richard N. Frye. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975.
Under the Abbasids, Iranian peoples became better represented in the army and bureaucracy as compared to before. The Abbasid army was centred on the Khurasan Abna al-dawla infantry and the Khurasaniyya heavy cavalry, led by their own semi-autonomous commanders (qa'id) who recruited and deployed their own men with Abbasid resource grants. al-Mu‘tasim began the practice of recruiting Turkic slave soldiers from the Samanids into a private army, which allowed him to take over the reins of the Caliphate. He abolished the old ''jund'' system created by Umar and diverted the salaries of the original Arab military descendants to the Turkic slave soldiers. The Turkic soldiers transformed the style of warfare, as they were known as capable horse archers, trained from childhood to ride. This military was now drafted from the ethnic groups of the faraway borderlands, and were completely separate from the rest of society. Some could not speak Arabic properly. This led to the decline of the Caliphate starting with the Anarchy at Samarra. Although the Abbasids never retained a substantial regular army, the caliph could recruit a considerable number of soldiers in a short time when needed from levies. There were also cohorts of regular troops who received steady pay and a special forces unit. At any moment, 125,000 Muslim soldiers could be assembled along the Byzantine frontier,
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Baghdad
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, Rayy, and other geostrategic locations in order to quell any unrest. The cavalry was entirely covered in iron, with helmets. Similar to medieval knights, their only exposed spots were the end of their noses and small openings in front of their eyes. Their foot soldiers were issued spears, swords, and pikes, and (in line with Persian fashion) trained to stand so solidly that, one contemporary wrote "you would have thought them held fast by clamps of bronze." The Abbasid army amassed an array of siege equipment, such as catapults, mangonels, battering rams, ladders, grappling irons, and hooks. All such weaponry was operated by military engineers. However, the primary siege weapon was the manjaniq, a type of siege weapon that was comparable to the trebuchet employed in Western medieval times. From the seventh century onward, it had largely replaced Torsion siege engine, torsion artillery. By Harun al-Rashid's time, the Abbasid army employed fire grenades. The Abbasids also utilized field hospitals and ambulances drawn by camels.


Civil Administration

As a result of such a vast empire, the caliphate was decentralized and divided into 24 provinces. In keeping with Persian tradition, Harun's vizier enjoyed close to unchecked powers. Under Harun, a special "bureau of confiscation" was created. This governmental wing made it possible for the vizier to seize the property and riches of any corrupt governor or civil servant. In addition, it allowed governors to confiscate the estates of lower-ranking officials. Finally, the caliph could impose the same penalty on a vizier who fell from grace. As one later caliph put it: "The vizier is our representative throughout the land and amongst our subjects. Therefore, he who obeys him obeys us; and he who obeys us obeys God, and God shall cause him who obeys Him to enter paradise." Every regional metropolis had a post office and hundreds of roads were paved in order to link the imperial capital with other cities and towns. The empire employed a system of relays to deliver mail. The central post office in Baghdad even had a map with directions that noted the distances between each town. The roads were provided with roadside inns, hospices, and wells and could reach eastward through Persia and
Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia Asia () is 's largest and most populous , located primarily in the and . It shares the continental of with the continent of and the continental landmass of with both Europe and . Asia covers an area ...

Central Asia
, to as far as China. The post office not only enhanced civil services but also served as intelligence for the caliph. Mailmen were employed as spies who kept an eye on local affairs. Early in the days of the caliphate, the Barmakids took the responsibility of shaping the civil service. The family had roots in a Buddhist monastery in northern Afghanistan. In the early 8th century, the family converted to Islam and began to take on a sizable part of the civil administration for the Abbasids. Capital poured into the caliphate's treasury from a variety of taxes, including a real estate tax; a levy on cattle, gold and silver, and commercial wares; a special tax on non-Muslims; and customs dues.


Trade

Under Harun, maritime trade through the Persian Gulf thrived, with Arab vessels trading as far south as Madagascar and as far east as China, Korea, and Japan. The growing economy of Baghdad and other cities inevitably led to the demand for luxury items and formed a class of entrepreneurs who organized long-range caravans for the trade and then the distribution of their goods. A whole section in the East Baghdad suq was dedicated to Chinese goods. Arabs traded with the Baltic region and made it as far north as the British Isles. Tens of thousands of Arab coins have been discovered in parts of Russia and Sweden, which bear witness to the comprehensive trade networks set up by the Abbasids. Offa of Mercia, King Offa of Mercia (in England) minted gold coins similar to those of the Abbasids in the eighth century. Muslim merchants employed ports in Bandar Siraf, Basra, and Aden and some Red Sea ports to travel and trade with India and South East Asia. Land routes were also utilized through
Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia Asia () is 's largest and most populous , located primarily in the and . It shares the continental of with the continent of and the continental landmass of with both Europe and . Asia covers an area ...

Central Asia
. Arab businessmen were present in China as early as the eighth century. Arab merchants sailed the Caspian Sea to reach and trade with Bukhara and Samarkand. Many caravans and goods never made it to their intended destinations. Some Chinese exports perished in fires, while other ships sank. It was said that anybody who made it to China and back unharmed was blessed by God. Common sea routes were also plagued by pirates who built and manned vessels that were faster than most merchant ships. It is said that many of the adventures at sea in the Sinbad the Sailor, Sinbad tales were based on historical fiction of mariners of the day. The Arabs also established overland trade with Africa, largely for gold and Trans-Saharan slave trade, slaves. When trade with Europe ceased due to Arab–Byzantine wars, hostilities, Jews served as a link between the two hostile worlds.


Decline of the empire

Abbasids found themselves at odds with the
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Muslims, most of whom had supported their war against the Umayyads, since the Abbasids and the Shias claimed legitimacy by their familial connection to Muhammad; once in power, the Abbasids disavowed any support for Shia beliefs in favor of Sunni Islam. Shortly thereafter, Berber Kharijites set up an independent state in North Africa in 801. Within 50 years the Idrisids in the Maghreb and Aghlabids of
Ifriqiya Ifriqiya ( '), also known as al-Maghrib al-Adna ( ar, المغرب الأدنى), was a medieval historical region comprising today's Tunisia and eastern Algeria, and Tripolitania (today's western Libya). It included all of what had previously ...
and a little later the Tulunids and Ikshidids of History of Muslim Egypt, Misr were effectively independent in Africa. The Abbasid authority began to deteriorate during the reign of al-Radi when their Turkic Army generals, who already had de facto independence, stopped paying the Caliphate. Even provinces close to Baghdad began to seek local dynastic rule. Also, the Abbasids found themselves to often be at conflict with the Umayyads in Spain. The Abbasid financial position weakened as well, with tax revenues from the Sawād decreasing in the 9th and 10th centuries.


Separatist dynasties and their successors

The Abbasid Caliphate differed from others in that it did not have the same borders and extent as Islam. Particularly, in the west of the Caliphate, there were multiple smaller caliphates that existed in relative peace with them. This list represents the succession of Islamic dynasties that emerged from the fractured Abbasid empire by their general geographic location. Dynasties often overlap, where a vassal emir revolted from and later conquered his lord. Gaps appear during periods of contest where the dominating power was unclear. Except for the Fatimid Caliphate in Egypt, recognizing a Shia succession through Ali, and the Andalusian Caliphates of the Caliphate of Córdoba, Umayyads and Almohad Caliphate, Almohads, every Muslim dynasty at least acknowledged the nominal suzerainty of the Abbasids as Caliph and Commander of the Faithful. * Morocco: Idrisid dynasty, Idrisids (788–974) → Almoravid dynasty, Almoravids (1040–1147) → Almohads (1120–1269) → Marinid dynasty, Marinids (1472–1554) → Wattasid dynasty, Wattasids (1472–1554) *
Ifriqiya Ifriqiya ( '), also known as al-Maghrib al-Adna ( ar, المغرب الأدنى), was a medieval historical region comprising today's Tunisia and eastern Algeria, and Tripolitania (today's western Libya). It included all of what had previously ...
(modern Tunisia, eastern Algeria and western Libya):
Aghlabids 300px, An Aghlabid cistern in Kairouan The Aghlabids ( ar, الأغالبة) were an Arab dynasty of emirs from the Najd Najd, ( ar, نَجْدٌ, ) or the Nejd, forms the geographic center of Saudi Arabia (Shahada) , national_anthe ...
(800–909 CE) → Fatimids of Egypt (909–973 CE) → Zirids (973–1148) → Almohads (1148–1229) → Hafsids (1229–1574) * Egypt and Palestine: Tulunids (868–905 CE) → Ikhshidid dynasty, Ikhshidids (935–969) → Fatimid Caliphate (909–1171) → Ayyubid dynasty (1171–1250) → Mamluk Sultanate (Cairo), Mamluks (1250–1517) * Al-Jazira (caliphal province), Al-Jazira (modern East Syria and Western Iraq): Hamdanid dynasty, Hamdanids (890–1004 CE) → Marwanids (990–1085) and Uqaylids (990–1096) → Seljuks (1034–1194) → Mongol Empire and the Ilkhanate (1231–1335) * Southwest Iran: Buyid dynasty, Buyids (934–1055) → Seljuks (1034–1194) → Mongol Empire → Injuids (1335–1357) → Muzaffarids (Iran), Muzaffarids (1314–1393) *
Khorasan Khorasan may refer to: * Greater Khorasan, a historical region which lies mostly in modern-day northern/northwestern Afghanistan, northeastern Iran, southern Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan * Khorasan Province, a pre-2004 province of Iran, ...
(modern Iran, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan): Tahirid dynasty, Tahirids (821–873) → Saffarid dynasty, Saffarids (873–903) → Samanids (903–995) → Ghaznavids (995–1038) → Seljuks (1038–1194) → Ghurid dynasty, Ghurids (1011–1215) → Khwarazmian dynasty, Khwarazmians (1077–1231) → Mongol Empire and the Ilkhanate (1231–1335) *
Transoxiana Transoxiana or Transoxania is an ancient name referring to a region and civilization located in lower roughly corresponding to modern-day eastern , , southern and southern . Geographically, it is the region between the rivers to its south and ...
(modern
Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia Asia () is 's largest and most populous , located primarily in the and . It shares the continental of with the continent of and the continental landmass of with both Europe and . Asia covers an area ...

Central Asia
): Samanids (819–999) → Karakhanids (840–1212) → Khwarazmian dynasty, Khwarazmians (1077–1231) → Mongol Empire and the Chagatai Khanate (1225–1687)


Dynasties claiming Abbasid descent

Centuries after the ''Abbasids'' fall, several dynasties have claimed descent from them, as "claiming kinship relation with the Prophet Muhammad, that is, claiming an affiliation to the 'People of the House' or the status of a sayyid or sharif, has arguably been the most widespread way in Muslim societies of supporting one's moral or material objectives with genealogical credentials."https://ecommons.aku.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1000&context=uk_ismc_series_emc Such claims of continuity with Muhammad or his Hashemite kin such as the Abbasids foster a sense of "political viability" for a candidate dynasty, with the intention of "serving an internal audience" (or in other words, gaining legitimacy in the view of the masses). The final ruler of the Bahawalpur (princely state), Bahawalpur Indian princely state was particularly so, the Kalhora Rulers of Sindh. In Bahawalpur, Pakistan, and the subcontinent, he was an Arab of the Abbasids and a conqueror, a man drawing his wealth from the country but not part of it. Among the most notable of these dynasties claiming Abbasid descent are the Wadai Empire which ruled parts of modern-day Sudan, Sindh in Pakistan, Bahawalpur in Pakistan, and the Khanate of Bastak. A common trope among Abbasid claimant dynasties is that they are descended from Abbasid princes of Baghdad, "dispersed" by the Mongol invasion in 1258 CE. These surviving princes would leave Baghdad for a safe haven not controlled by the Mongols, assimilate to their new societies, and their descendants would grow to establish their own dynasties with their Abbasid 'credentials' centuries later. This is highlighted by the origin myth of the Bastak khanate which relates that in 656 AH/1258 CE, the year of the fall of Baghdad, and following the sack of the city, a few surviving members of the Abbasid dynastic family led by the eldest amongst them, Ismail II son of Hamza son of Ahmed son of Mohamed migrated to Southern Iran, in the village of Khonj and later to Bastak where their khanate was established in the 17th century CE. Meanwhile, the Wadai Empire related a similar origin story, claiming descent from a man by the name of Salih ibn Abdullah ibn Abbas, whose father Abdullah was an Abbasid prince who fled Baghdad for Hijaz upon the Mongol invasion. He had a son named Salih who would grow to become an "able jurist" and a "very devout man". The Muslim ulama on pilgrimage in Mecca met him and, impressed by his knowledge, invited him to return with him to Sennar. Seeing the population's deviation from Islam, he "pushed further" until he found the Abu Sinun mountain in Ouaddaï highlands, Wadai where he converted the local people to Islam and taught them its rules, after which they made him sultan, thus laying the foundations of the Wadai Empire. With regards to the Bastak khanate, Shaikh Mohamed Khan Bastaki was the first Abbasid ruler of Bastak to hold the title of "Khan" after the local people accepted him as a ruler (Persian language, Persian: خان, Arabic: الحاكم), meaning "ruler" or "king", a title which was reportedly bestowed upon him by Karim Khan Zand. The title then became that of all the subsequent Abbasid rulers of Bastak and Jahangiriyeh, and also collectively refers in plural form – i.e., "Khans" (Persian language, Persian: خوانين) – to the descendants of Shaikh Mohamed Khan Bastaki. The last Abbasid ruler of Bastak and Jahangiriyeh was Mohamed A’zam Khan Baniabbassian son of Mohamed Reza Khan "Satvat al-Mamalek" Baniabbasi. He authored the book ''Tarikh-e Jahangiriyeh va Baniabbassian-e Bastak'' (1960), in which is recounted the history of the region and the Abbasid family that ruled it. Mohamed A’zam Khan Baniabbassian died in 1967, regarded as the end of the Abbasid reign in Bastak.


See also

* Iranian Intermezzo * List of largest empires * List of Sunni Muslim dynasties * :Governors of the Abbasid Caliphate


Footnotes


References


Bibliography

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External links

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