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Abu al-Abbas al-Maʾmūn ibn Hārūn al-Rashīd (Arabic: أبو العباس المأمون‎; September 786 – 9 August 833) was the seventh Abbasid
Abbasid
caliph, who reigned from 813 until his death in 833. He succeeded his brother al-Amin after a civil war, and was also known for his role in the Mu'tazilism
Mu'tazilism
controversy, and the resumption of large-scale warfare with the Byzantine
Byzantine
Empire.

Contents

1 Birth 2 Abbasid
Abbasid
civil war 3 Internal strife 4 After arrival in Baghdad 5 Wars with Byzantium 6 Al-Ma'mun's reign 7 Personal characteristics 8 Death 9 See also 10 References 11 Further reading 12 External links

Birth[edit] The future al-Ma'mun was born in Baghdad
Baghdad
on the night of the 13 to 14 September 786 CE to Harun al-Rashid
Harun al-Rashid
and his concubine Marajil, from Badghis. On the same night, which later became known as the "night of the three caliphs", his uncle al-Hadi died and was succeeded by Ma'mun's father, Harun al-Rashid, as ruler of the Abbasid Caliphate.[1] Abbasid
Abbasid
civil war[edit] Main article: Fourth Fitna In 802 Harun al-Rashid, father of al-Maʾmūn and al-Amin, ordered that al-Amin succeed him, and al-Ma'mun serve as governor of Khurasan and as caliph after the death of al-Amin. In the last days of Harun's life his health was declining and saw in a dream Musa ibn Jafar sitting in a chamber praying and crying, which made Harun remember how hard he had struggled to establish his own caliphate. He knew the personalities of both his sons and decided that for the good of the Abbasid
Abbasid
dynasty, al-Maʾmūn should be caliph after his death, which he confided to a group of his courtiers. One of the courtiers, Fadl ibn Rabi' did not abide by Harun's last wishes and convinced many in the lands of Islam
Islam
that Harun's wishes had not changed. Later the other three courtiers of Harun who had sworn loyalty to Harun by supporting al-Maʾmūn, namely 'Isa Jarudi, Abu Yunus, and Ibn Abi 'Umran found loopholes in Fadl's arguments, and Fazl admitted Harun had appointed al-Maʾmūn after him, but, he argued, since Harun was not in his right mind, his decision should not be acted upon. Al-Maʾmūn was reportedly the older of the two brothers, but his mother was a Persian woman while al-Amin's mother was a member of the reigning Abbasid
Abbasid
family. After al-Rashid's death in 809, the relationship between the two brothers deteriorated. In response to al-Ma'mun's moves toward independence, al-Amin declared his own son Musa to be his heir. This violation of al-Rashid's testament led to a succession struggle. al-Amin assembled a massive army at Baghdad
Baghdad
with 'Isa ibn Mahan at its head in 811 and invaded Khorasan, but al-Maʾmūn's general Tahir ibn al-Husayn
Tahir ibn al-Husayn
(d. 822) destroyed the army and invaded Iraq, laying siege to Baghdad
Baghdad
in 812. In 813 Baghdad
Baghdad
fell, al-Amin was beheaded, and al-Maʾmūn became the undisputed Caliph.[2] Internal strife[edit] There were disturbances in Iraq
Iraq
during the first several years of al-Maʾmūn's reign, while the caliph was in Merv. On 13 November 815, Muhammad ibn Ja'far al-Sadiq (Al-Dibaj) claimed the Caliphate for himself in Mecca. He was defeated and he quickly abdicated asserting that he had only become caliph on news that al-Ma'mun had died. Lawlessness in Baghdad
Baghdad
led to the formation of neighborhood watches. In A.H. 201 (817 AD) al-Ma'mun forced Imam
Imam
Reza to move from Madina to Merv. Imam
Imam
Reza, the Eighth descendant of Muhammad, was named his heir. This was not easily accepted by the Abbasid
Abbasid
leaders but was widely seen as a political move by al-Ma'mun since he was fearful of the widespread sympathy towards the Ahl al-Bayt. Al-Ma'mun's plan was to keep watch over Imam
Imam
Reza. However, his plans did not succeed due to the growing popularity of Ali Al-Rida in Merv. People from all over the Muslim world traveled to meet the prophet's grandson and listen to his teachings and guidance. After a debate Al-Ma'mun
Al-Ma'mun
had set up with the greatest scholars of the world's religions to humiliate the Imam, the victorious Imam
Imam
informed Al-Ma'mun
Al-Ma'mun
that his grand vizier, Fazl ibn Sahl, had not been informing him of everything. In Baghdad, the people believed that al-Maʾmūn was unseated, because of rumors spread by Fazl ibn Sahl. Because of this the people of Baghdad
Baghdad
were giving their allegiance to al-Mamun's uncle Ibrahim ibn Mehdi. Al-Ma'mun
Al-Ma'mun
set out for Baghdad
Baghdad
on 12 April 818. At Tus, he stopped to visit his father's grave. Al-Ma'mun
Al-Ma'mun
was troubled by the widespread support for the prophet Muhammad's descendant Imam
Imam
Reza, and the betrayal of his grand vizier. With the aim of gaining Abbasid
Abbasid
support and the establish of a new base for his rule in Baghdad, Al-Ma'mun
Al-Ma'mun
went on to depose of Ali Ar-Rida by administering poison, and arranging the murder of Fazl ibn Sahl. On the last day of Safar in 203 AH, Imam
Imam
Reza died. Imam
Imam
Reza was buried beside Al-Ma'mun's father Hārūn al-Rashid. Following the death of Imam
Imam
Reza a great revolt took place in Khurasan, Persia. Al-Ma’mun tried to show himself innocent of the crime but for all he did, he could not get himself acquitted and prove his innocence. After arrival in Baghdad[edit] Muhammad
Muhammad
ibn Jarir al-Tabari states that al-Ma'mun entered Baghdad
Baghdad
on 11 August 819 (v. 32, p. 95). He wore green and had others do so. Informed that compliance with this command was despite popular opposition to the colour, on 18 August he reverted to traditional Abbasid
Abbasid
black. While Baghdad
Baghdad
became peaceful, there were disturbances elsewhere. In A.H. 210 (825–826) Abdullah ibn Tahir al-Khurasani secured Egypt
Egypt
for al-Ma'mun freeing Alexandria
Alexandria
from Andalusians and quelling unrest. The Andalusians moved to Crete
Crete
where al-Tabari records their descendants were still living in his day (see Emirate of Crete). Abdallah returned to Baghdad
Baghdad
in 211 Hijri or (826–827 C.E.) bringing defeated rebels with him. Also, in 210 h / 825–6 C.E. there was an uprising in Qum
Qum
sparked by complaints about taxes. After it was quashed, the tax assessment was set significantly higher. In 212 Hijri or 827–828 C.E., there was an uprising in Yemen. In 214 (829–30) Abu al-Razi who had captured one Yemeni rebel was killed by another. Egypt
Egypt
continued to be unquiet. Sindh
Sindh
was rebellious. In 216 (831–832) Ghassan ibn 'Abbad subdued it. An ongoing problem for al-Ma'mun was the uprising headed by Babak Khorramdin. In 214 Babak routed a Caliphate army killing its commander Muhammad
Muhammad
ibn Humayd. Wars with Byzantium[edit] By the time al-Maʾmūn became Caliph, the Arabs
Arabs
and the Byzantine Empire had settled down into border skirmishing, with Arab
Arab
raids deep into Anatolia
Anatolia
to capture booty and Christians to be slaves in the Abbasid
Abbasid
Caliphate. The situation changed however with the rise to power of Michael II
Michael II
in 820 AD. Forced to deal with the rebel Thomas the Slav, Michael had few troops to spare against a small Andalusian invasion of 40 ships and 10,000 men against Crete, which fell in 824 AD. A Byzantine
Byzantine
counter offensive in 826 AD failed miserably. Worse still was the invasion of Sicily
Sicily
in 827 by Berbers
Berbers
of Tunis. Even so, Byzantine
Byzantine
resistance in Sicily
Sicily
was fierce and not without success whilst the Arabs
Arabs
became quickly plagued by internal squabbles. That year, the Arabs
Arabs
were expelled from Sicily
Sicily
but they were to return.

The Byzantine
Byzantine
embassy of John the Grammarian in 829 to Ma'mun (depicted left) from Theophilos (depicted right)

In 829, Michael II
Michael II
died and was succeeded by his son Theophilos. Theophilos experienced mixed success against his Arab
Arab
opponents. In 830 AD the Arabs
Arabs
returned to Sicily
Sicily
and after a year-long siege took Palermo
Palermo
from their Christian opponents and for the next 200 years they were to remain there to complete their conquest, which was never short of Christian counters. The Caliph
Caliph
Al-Ma'mun
Al-Ma'mun
meanwhile launched an invasion of Anatolia
Anatolia
in 830 AD. Al-Ma'mun
Al-Ma'mun
triumphed and a number of Byzantine
Byzantine
forts were taken; he spared the surrendering Byzantines. Theophilos did not relent and in 831 captured Tarsus from the Muslims.The next year, learning Byzantines had killed some sixteen hundred people, Al-Ma'mun
Al-Ma'mun
returned. This time some thirty forts fell to the Caliphate forces, with two Byzantine
Byzantine
defeats in Cappadocia. Theophilos wrote to Al-Ma'mun. The Caliph
Caliph
replied that he carefully considered the Byzantine
Byzantine
ruler's letter, noticed it blended suggestions of peace and trade with threats of war and offered Theophilos the options of accepting the shahada, paying tax or fighting. Al-Ma'mun
Al-Ma'mun
made preparations for a major campaign, but died on the way while leading an expedition in Tyana. Al-Ma'mun's relations with Byzantines are marked by his efforts in the translation of Greek philosophy and science. Al-Ma'mun
Al-Ma'mun
gathered scholars of many religions at Baghdad, whom he treated magnificently and with tolerance. He sent an emissary to the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
to collect the most famous manuscripts there, and had them translated into Arabic.[3] As part of his peace treaty with the Byzantine Emperor, Al-Ma'mun
Al-Ma'mun
was to receive a number of Greek manuscripts annually, one of these being Ptolemy's astronomical work, the Almagest.[4] Al-Ma'mun's reign[edit] Al-Ma'mun
Al-Ma'mun
conducted, in the plains of Mesopotamia, two astronomical operations intended to determine the value of a terrestrial degree. The crater Almanon on the moon is named in recognition of his contributions to astronomy. Al-Ma'mun's record as an administrator is also marked by his efforts toward the centralization of power and the certainty of succession. The Bayt al-Hikma, or House of Wisdom, was established during his reign.[5] The ulama emerged as a real force in Islamic politics during al-Ma'mun's reign for opposing the mihna, which was initiated in 833, four months before he died. The 'mihna', is comparable to Medieval European inquisitions in the sense that it involved imprisonment, a religious test, and a loyalty oath. The people subject to the mihna were traditionalist scholars whose social influence was uncommonly high. Al-Ma'mun
Al-Ma'mun
introduced the mihna with the intention to centralize religious power in the caliphal institution and test the loyalty of his subjects. The mihna had to be undergone by elites, scholars, judges and other government officials, and consisted of a series of questions relating to theology and faith. The central question was about the createdness of the Qur'an, if the interrogatee stated he believed the Qur'an
Qur'an
to be created, rather than were coeternal with God, he was free to leave and continue his profession. The controversy over the mihna was exacerbated by al-Ma'mun's sympathy for Mu'tazili
Mu'tazili
theology and other controversial views. Mu'tazili theology was deeply influenced by Aristotelian thought and Greek rationalism, and stated that matters of belief and practice should be decided by reasoning. This opposed the traditionalist and literalist position of Ahmad ibn Hanbal
Ahmad ibn Hanbal
and others, according to which everything a believer needed to know about faith and practice was spelled out literally in the Qur'an
Qur'an
and the Hadith. Moreover, the Mu'tazilis stated that the Qur'an
Qur'an
was created rather than coeternal with God, a belief that was shared by the Jahmites
Jahmites
and parts of Shi'a, among others, but contradicted the traditionalist- Sunni
Sunni
opinion that the Qur'an
Qur'an
and the Divine were coeternal. The fact that the Mu'tazili school had its foundations in the paganism of Greece
Greece
further disenchanted a majority of Islamic clerics. During his reign, alchemy greatly developed. Pioneers of the science were Jabir Ibn Hayyan
Jabir Ibn Hayyan
and his student Yusuf Lukwa, who was patronized by Al-Ma'mun. Although he was unsuccessful in his attempts regarding the transmutation of gold, his methods greatly led to the patronization of pharmaceutical compounds.[6] Caliph
Caliph
Al-Ma'mun
Al-Ma'mun
was a pioneer of cartography having commissioned a world map from a large group of astronomers and geographers. The map is presently in an encyclopedia in Topkapi Sarai, a Museum in Istanbul. The map shows large parts of the Eurasian and African continents with recognizable coastlines and major seas. It depicts the world as it was known to the captains of the Arab
Arab
sailing dhows which used the monsoon wind cycles to trade over vast distances (By the 9th century, Arab
Arab
sea traders had reached Guangzhou, in China). The maps of the Greeks and Romans reveal a good knowledge of closed seas like the Mediterranean but little knowledge of the vast ocean expanses beyond.[7] Although al-Mahdi had proclaimed that the caliph was the protector of Islam
Islam
against heresy, and had also claimed the ability to declare orthodoxy, religious scholars in the Islamic world believed that al-Ma'mun was overstepping his bounds in the mihna. The penalties of the mihna became increasingly difficult to enforce as the ulema became firmer and more united in their opposition. Although the mihna persisted through the reigns of two more caliphs, al-Mutawakkil abandoned it in 848. The failure of the mihna seriously damaged Caliphal authority and ruined the reputation of the office for succeeding caliphs. The caliph would lose much of his religious authority to the opinion of the ulema as a result of the mihna. The ulema and the major Islamic law schools became truly defined in the period of al-Ma'mun and Sunnism, as a religion of legalism, became defined in parallel. Doctrinal differences between Sunni
Sunni
and Shi'a Islam
Islam
began to become more pronounced. Ibn Hanbal, the founder of the Hanbali
Hanbali
legal school, became famous for his opposition to the mihna. Al-Ma'mun's simultaneous opposition and patronage of intellectuals led to the emergence of important dialogues on both secular and religious affairs, and the Bayt al-Hikma became an important center of translation for Greek and other ancient texts into Arabic. This Islamic renaissance spurred the rediscovery of Hellenism and ensured the survival of these texts into the European renaissance. Al-Ma'mun
Al-Ma'mun
had been named governor of Khurasan by Harun, and after his ascension to power, the caliph named Tahir as governor for his military services in order to assure his loyalty. It was a move that al-Ma'mun soon regretted, as Tahir and his family became entrenched in Iranian politics and became increasingly powerful in the state, contrary to al-Ma'mun's desire to centralize and strengthen Caliphal power. The rising power of the Tahirid dynasty
Tahirid dynasty
became a threat as al-Ma'mun's own policies alienated them and his other opponents. The shakiriya, which were to trigger the movement of the capital from Baghdad
Baghdad
to Samarra
Samarra
during al-Mu'tasim's reign, were raised in al-Ma'mun's time. The shakiriya were military units from Central Asia and North Africa, hired, complete with their commanders, to serve under the Caliph. Al-Ma'mun
Al-Ma'mun
also attempted to divorce his wife during his reign, who had not borne him any children. His wife hired a Syrian judge of her own before al-Ma'mun was able to select one himself; the judge, who sympathized with the caliph's wife, refused the divorce. Following al-Ma'mun's experience, no further Abbasid
Abbasid
caliphs were to marry, preferring to find their heirs in the harem. Al-Ma'mun, in an attempt to win over the Shi'a Muslims
Muslims
to his camp, named the eighth Imam, Ali ar-Rida, his successor, if he should outlive al-Ma'mun. Most Shi'ites realized, however, that ar-Rida was too old to survive him and saw al-Ma'mun's gesture as empty; indeed, Al-Ma'mun
Al-Ma'mun
poisoned Ali ar-Rida
Ali ar-Rida
who then died in 818. The incident served to further alienate the Shi'ites from the Abbasids, who had already been promised and denied the Caliphate by al-'Abbas. The Abbasid
Abbasid
empire grew somewhat during the reign of al-Ma'mun. Hindu rebellions in Sindh
Sindh
were put down, and most of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
was absorbed with the surrender of the leader of Kabul. Mountainous regions of Iran were brought under a tighter grip of the central Abbasid
Abbasid
government, as were areas of Turkestan. Shortly before his death, during a visit to Egypt
Egypt
in 832, the caliph ordered the breaching of the Great Pyramid of Giza
Great Pyramid of Giza
looking for knowledge and treasure. He entered the pyramid by tunneling into the Great Pyramid near where tradition located the original entrance. The resulting passage, which was later named the "Robbers' Tunnel" is the path along which tourists enter the pyramid today. Personal characteristics[edit] Al-Tabari (v. 32, p. 231) describes al-Ma'mun as of average height, light complexion, handsome and having a long beard losing its dark colour as he aged. He relates anecdotes concerning the caliph's ability to speak concisely and eloquently without preparation, his generosity, his respect for Muhammad
Muhammad
and religion, his sense of moderation, justice and his love of poetry. Ibn Abd Rabbih in his Unique Necklace (al-'iqd al-Farid), probably drawing on earlier sources, makes a similar description of al-Ma'mun, whom he described as of light complexion and having slightly blond hair and a long thin beard and a narrow forehead. Death[edit] Al-Tabari (v.32, pp. 224–231) recounts how Al-Ma'mun
Al-Ma'mun
was sitting on the river bank telling those with him how splendid the water was. He asked what would go best with this water and was told a specific kind of fresh dates. Noticing supplies arriving, he asked someone to check whether such dates were included. As they were, he invited those with him to enjoy the water with these dates. All who did this fell ill. Others recovered, but Al-Ma'mun
Al-Ma'mun
died. He encouraged his successor to continue his policies and not burden the people with more than they could bear. This was on 9 August 833. Al-Ma'mun
Al-Ma'mun
died near Tarsus. The city's major mosque (Tarsus Grand Mosque), contains a tomb reported to be his. He was not succeeded by his son, Al-Abbas ibn al-Ma'mun, but by his half-brother, al-Mu'tasim. See also[edit]

Apology of al-Kindy House of Wisdom Al-Fadl ibn Sahl Sahifah of al-Ridha

References[edit]

^ Rekaya 1991, p. 331. ^ Kennedy, Hugh (1986). The Prophet and the Age of the Caliphates (2nd ed.). London and New York: Pearson Longman. pp. 148–150.  ^ Lee S. Tesdell, "Greek Rhetoric and Philosophy
Philosophy
in Medieval Arabic Culture: The State of the Research," in: Discourses of Power: Grammar and Rhetoric in the Middle Ages, ed. Carol Poster and Richard Utz (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1999), pp. 51–58. ^ Angelo, Joseph (2009). Encyclopedia of Space and Astronomy. p. 78. ISBN 9781438110189.  ^ Goldschmidt, Arthur (2002). A concise history of the Middle East. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press. p. 78. ISBN 0-8133-3885-9.  ^ E.J. Brill's First Encyclopaedia of Islam
Islam
(1993), Vol. 4, p. 1011 ^ Rechnagel, Charles (15 October 2004). "World: Historian Reveals Incredible Contributions of Muslim Cartographers". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Retrieved 5 March 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

Bosworth, C.E. (1987). Yarshater, Ehsan, ed. The History of al-Ṭabarī, Volume 32: The Reunification of the ʿAbbāsid Caliphate: The Caliphate of al-Maʾmūn, A.D. 813–33/A.H. 198–213. SUNY series in Near Eastern studies. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0-88706-058-8.  Fishbein, Michael (1992). Yarshater, Ehsan, ed. The History of al-Ṭabarī, Volume 31: The War Between Brothers: The Caliphate of Muḥammad al-Amīn, A.D. 809–813/A.H. 193–198. SUNY series in Near Eastern studies. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-1085-1.  John Bagot Glubb
John Bagot Glubb
The Empire of the Arabs, Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1963. Peter Tompkins, "Secrets of the Great Pyramid", chapter 2, Harper and Row, 1971. E. de la Vaissière, Samarcande et Samarra. Elites d'Asie centrale dans l'empire Abbasside, Peeters, 2007 [1] Michael Cooperson, Al-Ma’mun, Oneworld Publications, Oxford, 2005 Dimitri Gutas, Greek Thought, Arabic
Arabic
culture: the Graeco-Arabic translation movement in Baghdad
Baghdad
and early Abbasid
Abbasid
society Routledge, London, 1998 Hugh N. Kennedy, The Early Abbasid
Abbasid
Caliphate, a political History, Croom Helm, London, 1981 John Nawas, A Reexamination of three current explanations for Al-Ma’mun’s introduction of the Mihna, International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 26, (1994) pp. 615–629 John Nawas, John The Mihna
Mihna
of 218 A.H./833 A.D. Revisited: An Empirical Study, Journal of the American Oriental Society 116.4 (1996) pp. 698–708 Rekaya, M. (1991). "al-Maʾmūn". The Encyclopedia of Islam, New Edition, Volume VI: Mahk–Mid. Leiden and New York: BRILL. pp. 331–339. ISBN 90-04-08112-7. 

External links[edit]

Wikisource
Wikisource
has original works written by or about: Al-Ma'mun

(in English) Al-Mamum: Building an Environment for Innovation Berggren, Len (2007). "Maʾmūn: Abū al‐ʿAbbās ʿAbdallāh ibn Hārūn al‐Rashīd". In Thomas Hockey; et al. The Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers. New York: Springer. p. 733. ISBN 978-0-387-31022-0.  (PDF version)

Al-Ma'mun Abbasid Born: 786 Died: 833

Sunni
Sunni
Islam
Islam
titles

Preceded by Al-Amin Caliph
Caliph
of Islam Abbasid
Abbasid
Caliph 813 – 9 August 833 Succeeded by Al-Mu'tasim

v t e

Abbasid
Abbasid
Caliphs

Caliphs of Baghdad (749–1258)

as-Saffah al-Mansur al-Mahdi al-Hadi Harun al-Rashid al-Amin Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi[B] al-Ma'mun al-Mu'tasim al-Wathiq al-Mutawakkil al-Muntasir al-Musta'in al-Mu'tazz al-Muhtadi al-Mu'tamid al-Mu'tadid al-Muktafi al-Muqtadir Abdallah ibn al-Mu'tazz[B] al-Qahir ar-Radi al-Muttaqi al-Mustakfi al-Muti at-Ta'i al-Qadir al-Qa'im al-Muqtadi al-Mustazhir al-Mustarshid ar-Rashid al-Muqtafi al-Mustanjid al-Mustadi al-Nasir az-Zahir al-Mustansir al-Musta'sim (Mongol conquest)

Caliphs of Cairo (1261–1517)

al-Mustansir al-Hakim I al-Mustakfi I al-Wathiq I al-Hakim II al-Mu'tadid I al-Mutawakkil I al-Musta'sim al-Mutawakkil I al-Wathiq II al-Musta'sim al-Mutawakkil I al-Musta'in al-Mu'tadid II al-Mustakfi II al-Qa'im al-Mustanjid al-Mutawakkil II al-Mustamsik al-Mutawakkil III al-Mustamsik al-Mutawakkil III (Ottoman conquest)

[B] indicates ephemeral caliphs recognized in the city of Baghdad
Baghdad
only

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 20477658 LCCN: n82164358 ISNI: 0000 0000 7986 0652 GND: 118847686 SELIBR: 235032 SUDOC: 179725173 BNF:

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