The Info List - Ibn Ra'iq

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Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Ra'iq[1] (Arabic: محمد بن رائق‎) (died 13 February 942), usually simply Ibn Ra'iq, was a senior official of the Abbasid Caliphate, who exploited the caliphal government's weakness to become the first amir al-umara ("commander of commanders", de facto regent) of the Caliphate in 936. Deposed by Turkish military leaders in 938, he regained the post in 941 and kept it until his assassination in February 942. Biography[edit] Ibn Ra'iq's father was of Khazar
origin and served as a military officer under Caliph al-Mu'tadid (reigned 892–902).[2] Under Caliph al-Muqtadir (r. 908–932), he served as chief of the police (sahib al-shurta) and chamberlain (hadjib). After the deposition and murder of al-Muqtadir and the accession of al-Qahir (r. 932–934), Ibn Ra'iq fell into disgrace and abandoned Baghdad. He nevertheless managed to be named governor of Basra, and returned to favour and obtained the governorship of Wasit
on the accession of al-Radi (r. 934–940).[2] The frequent coups and violent struggle for control of the Caliphate had by this time greatly enfeebled the central government. Effective control over the Maghreb
and Khurasan
had long been lost, but now autonomous local dynasties emerged in the provinces closer to Iraq: Egypt
and Syria were ruled by the Ikhshidids, the Hamdanids
had secured control over the Jazira—the "island" plain between the Tigris
and Euphrates
in upper Mesopotamia—while most of Iran
was ruled by Daylamite
warlords, among whom the Buyids
became prominent. Even in Iraq
itself, the authority of the caliphal government was challenged. Thus in the south, around Basra, the Baridi family under Abu Abdallah al-Baridi established its own domain, often refusing to send tax revenues to Baghdad
and establishing contacts with the Buyids of Fars.[3]

Map of Iraq
in the 9th–10th centuries

In this atmosphere of disintegration, Ibn Ra'iq likewise refused to send his province's revenue to Baghdad.[2][3] The Caliph's vizier, Ibn Muqla, tried to restore central control, but his expedition against the Hamdanids
in 935 failed to achieve any lasting results and his attempt to campaign against Ibn Ra'iq in the next spring failed to even get off the ground, and he was himself arrested.[4] Al-Radi
was now forced to turn to Ibn Ra'iq for support, even though he had dismissed such a proposal in 935. Thus, in 936 Ibn Ra'iq came to Baghdad
and assumed de facto control over the caliphal government with the title of amir al-umara ("commander of the commanders"). The post entailed overall command over the army, as well as the supervision of the civil administration, hitherto the province of the vizier. The Caliph was deprived of any say in affairs of state, and sidelined to a purely symbolical role.[2][5] The main pillars of Ibn Ra'iq's regime were the Turkish troops under Bajkam
and Tuzun, former subordinates of Mardavij. To secure his own position, Ibn Ra'iq even massacred the old caliphal bodyguard, the Hujariyya, destroying the last body of troops still loyal to the Abbasid dynasty.[2][6] Ibn Ra'iq's authority was soon weakened, however, when he fell out with the Baridis of Ahwaz, who had initially supported his rise to power. When he tried to deprive them of their province, they re-opened their contacts with the Buyids.[2][5] Finally, it was discontent among the Turkish military that led to his downfall: the Turks under Bajkam
rose up against him, and after a brief struggle, Bajkam
became the new amir al-umara in September 938, while Ibn Ra'iq was sent to govern Diyar Mudar.[2][5] The struggle between Bajkam
and Ibn Ra'iq had one long-term and disastrous consequence: trying to impede Bajkam's advance towards Baghdad, Ibn Ra'iq ordered the blocking of the Nahrawan Canal
Nahrawan Canal
to flood the countryside. This action did not avail Ibn Ra'iq, but it heavily impaired the local agriculture for centuries to come, since the canal played a central role in the ancient irrigation system of the Sawad.[7] As Hugh N. Kennedy writes, "the breach of the Nahrawan canal was simply the most dramatic example of a widespread phenomenon of the time; and it was symbolic of the end of ‘Abbasid power just as the breach of the Marib Dam
Marib Dam
was of the end of the prosperity of pre-Islamic south Arabia".[7] Bajkam
remained amir al-umara until his death in 941, whereupon Ibn Ra'iq seized the opportunity to recover his position: he sidelined Bajkam's successor Kurankij and secured his own re-appointment as amir al-umara in September 941. He did not long enjoy it, however, as in early 942 he was assassinated at the orders of the Hamdanid prince Nasir al-Dawla, who soon succeeded him as amir al-umara.[2][8] References[edit]

^ a b c d e Donohue (2003), p. 9 ^ a b c d e f g h Sourdel (1971), p. 902 ^ a b Kennedy (2004), p. 194 ^ Kennedy (2004), pp. 194–195 ^ a b c Kennedy (2004), p. 195 ^ Kennedy (2004), pp. 195, 197, 204 ^ a b Kennedy (2004), p. 197 ^ Kennedy (2004), pp. 195–196


Donohue, John J. (2003). The Buwayhid Dynasty in Iraq
334 H./945 to 403 H./1012: Shaping Institutions for the Future. Leiden and Boston: BRILL. ISBN 90-04-12860-3.  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 Rāʾiḳ". In Lewis, B.; Ménage, V. L.; Pellat, Ch.; Schacht, J. The Encyclopaedia of Islam, New Edition, Volume III: H–Iram. Leiden: E. J. Brill. p. 902. ISBN 90-04-08118-6. 

New title amir al-umara of the Abbasid Caliphate 10 November 936 – 9 September 938 Succeeded by Bajkam

Preceded by Kurankij amir al-umara of the Abbasid Caliphate 21 September 941 – 13 February 942 Succeeded by Abu Abdallah a