ABU \'ALI MUHAMMAD IBN \'ALI IBN MUQLA AL-SHIRAZI (
Baghdad , 885/6
– Baghdad, 20 July 940) was a Persian official of the Abbasid
Caliphate who rose to high state posts in the early 10th century. His
career culminated in his own assumption of the vizierate at Baghdad
thrice, in 928–930, 932–933 and 934–936. Unable to successfully
challenge the growing power of regional emirs, he lost his position to
the first amir al-umara , Ibn Ra\'iq , and died in prison. He was also
a noted calligrapher .
* 1 Life
* 2 Calligraphy
* 3 References
* 4 Sources
Ibn Muqla was born in
Baghdad , the capital of the
, in AH 272 (885/886 CE). His career in public service began in Fars
, where he served as tax collector. His rise to power in the central
government came in 908, under the patronage of the powerful vizier Abu
\'l-Hasan Ali ibn al-Furat , who appointed him in charge of official
dispatches. It was at this time, under the ineffectual rule of Caliph
al-Muqtadir (r. 908–932 CE) that the civil bureaucracy reached its
apex of power in the
Abbasid court, but where the achievements of
previous reigns in restoring the Caliphate's fortunes collapsed due to
chronic financial shortages. Throughout the period, the political
Baghdad was dominated by Ibn al-Furat and his faction (the
Banu\'l-Furat ), his rival
Ali ibn Isa al-Jarrah and the faction
gathered around him (the Banu\'l-Jarrah ), and the powerful chief of
the military, Mu\'nis al-Khadim . Despite his close ties to Ibn
al-Furat, which were re-affirmed during the latter's second tenure in
Ibn Muqla eventually turned against him. His next promotion
came during the de facto 918–928 vizierate of Ali ibn Isa, when he
assumed the important department (diwan ) of the public estates.
By cultivating the friendship of the powerful chamberlain (hadjib )
Ibn Muqla managed to secure the post of vizier for himself after
Ali's disgrace in 928. His vizierate however was marked by extreme
internal instability, including a short-lived coup in 929, instigated
by Mu'nis, which deposed al-Muqtadir in favour of his brother al-Qahir
. Despite the coup's failure, Mu'nis and his close ally Ali ibn Isa
now dominated the government, and led to Ibn Muqla's dismissal in 930.
Map of Iraq in the 9th–10th centuries
Ibn Muqla was reappointed as vizier by al-Qahir when he succeeded
al-Muqtadir after the latter's assassination in 932. The new caliph's
attempts to assert his own authority met with opposition both from Ibn
Muqla and from Mu'nis. Mu'nis started conspiring against al-Qahir, but
he was arrested and killed before he could act, whereupon, after only
six months in office,
Ibn Muqla was dismissed.
Ibn Muqla then headed
another conspiracy, and in 934 al-Qahir was captured, blinded and
deposed by the
Baghdad troops, with his brother al-Radi succeeding
Ibn Muqla was now appointed to his third term of office. By
this time, the greatest threat faced by the Caliphate was the
increasing independence of the regional governors, who had taken
advantage of the internal quarrels in the
Abbasid court to strengthen
their own control over their provinces and withheld the taxes due to
Baghdad, leaving the central government crippled.
Ibn Muqla resolved
to reassert his control over the neighbouring provinces by military
force, and chose the
Hamdanid -controlled Jazira as his first target:
in 935 he launched a campaign that took the
but he was forced to return to Baghdad. Another attempt in 936 to
launch a campaign against the rebellious governor of Wasit , Muhammad
ibn Ra\'iq , failed to even get started. Coupled with his failure to
counter the mounting financial crisis, this last disaster led to Ibn
Muqla's dismissal and arrest.
Ibn Muqla's dismissal marks also the final end of the independence of
Abbasid caliphs, for shortly after
Ibn Ra'iq was appointed to the
new post of amir al-umara ("commander of commanders"), a
military-based office that became the de facto ruler of what remained
of the Caliphate and deprived the Caliph from all real authority.
Ibn Ra'iq had the possessions of
Ibn Muqla and his son confiscated,
Ibn Muqla in turn began to conspire against the amir al-umara. Ibn
Ra'iq however became aware of this, and had him imprisoned and his
right hand cut off. Shortly after, even while the army of the Turkish
Bajkam was approaching
Baghdad to depose Ibn Ra'iq, his tongue
was cut. Despite Bajkam's success,
Ibn Muqla remained in prison, where
he died on 20 July 940.
Ibn Muqla was also famous as a calligrapher , and he or his brothers
have been considered the originators of the so-called al-khatt
al-mansub ("proportioned script") style, perfected by the 11th-century
Ibn al-Bawwab . "Khatt" refers to the "marking
out" of lines, which suggests that calligraphy is a demarcation of
space. In the al-khatt al-mansub system letter design is related to
three measurements: the size of nuqta ; the height of the alif; and
the circle with a diameter equal to the height of the alif.
None of Ibn Muqla's authentic work exists today, his work is only
known through other sources like
Ibn al-Nadim .
* ^ A B C D E F G H I J K L Sourdel (1971), pp. 886–887
* ^ Kennedy (2004), pp. 185–188
* ^ Kennedy (2004), p. 191
* ^ Kennedy (2004), pp. 193–194
* ^ A B Kennedy (2004), p. 194
* ^ Kennedy (2004), pp. 194–195
* ^ Kennedy (2004), pp. 195ff.
* ^ Grabar, Oleg (1992). The Mediation of Ornament. The A.W. Mellon
Lectures in the Fine Arts. XXXV. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University
Press. p. 38.
* ^ Osborn, J.R. (2009). "Narratives of Arabic Script: Calligraphic
Design and Modern Spaces". Design and Culture. 1 (3).
* ^ Ali, Wijdan (1999). The Arab Contribution to Islamic Art: From
the Seventh to the Fifteenth Centuries. Cairo: American University in
Cairo Press. page 81.
* Kennedy, Hugh N. (2004). The Prophet and the Age of the
Caliphates: The Islamic Near East from the 6th to the 11th Century
(Second ed.). Harlow, UK: Pearson Education Ltd. ISBN 0-582-40525-4 .
* Sourdel, Dominique (1971). "Ibn Muḳla". In Lewis, B. ; Ménage,
V. L. ; Pellat, Ch. ; Schacht, J. The Encyclopaedia of Islam, New
Edition, Volume III: H–Iram. Leiden: E. J. Brill. pp. 886–887.
ISBN 90-04-08118-6 .
* WorldCat Identities
* VIAF : 290896636
* GND : 129625418
* ULAN : 500319861
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