Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Ra'iq (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.
Ibn Ra'iq's father was of
Khazar origin and served as a military
officer under Caliph al-Mu'tadid (reigned 892–902). 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
Wasit on the accession of al-Radi (r. 934–940).
The frequent coups and violent struggle for control of the Caliphate
had by this time greatly enfeebled the central government. Effective
control over the
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
secured control over the Jazira—the "island" plain between the
Euphrates in upper Mesopotamia—while most of
Daylamite warlords, among whom the
Buyids became prominent.
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
Iraq in the 9th–10th centuries
In this atmosphere of disintegration, Ibn Ra'iq likewise refused to
send his province's revenue to Baghdad. The Caliph's vizier, Ibn
Muqla, tried to restore central control, but his expedition against
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.
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.
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. 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.
Finally, it was discontent among the Turkish military that led to his
downfall: the Turks under
Bajkam rose up against him, and after a
Bajkam became the new amir al-umara in September 938,
while Ibn Ra'iq was sent to govern Diyar Mudar. The struggle
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 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
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 was of the end of the prosperity of
pre-Islamic south Arabia".
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.
^ 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.
amir al-umara of the Abbasid Caliphate
10 November 936 – 9 September 938
amir al-umara of the Abbasid Caliphate
21 September 941 – 13 February 942
Abu Abdallah a