Tuesday 20 June 2017

Abbasid Caliphate after Anarchy at Samarra Period

Anarchy at Samarra was the period 861–870 in the history of the Abbasid Caliphate. It was marked by extreme internal instability and the violent succession of four caliphs, who became puppets in the hands of powerful rival military groups chief among them being Turks. It inflicted great and lasting damage on the structures and prestige of the Abbasid central government, encouraging and facilitating secessionist and rebellious tendencies in the Caliphate's provinces.

Mosque of Ibn Tulun, Cairo,  884 CE

By the 870s Egypt became autonomous under Ahmad ibn Tulun. In the East as well, governors decreased their ties to the center. The Saffarids of Herat and the Samanids of Bukhara had broken away from the 870s, cultivating a much more Persianate culture and statecraft. By this time 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.

The Great Mosque of Herat, Afghanistan

At the end of the "Anarchy at Samarra", al-Muʿtamid ʿAlā ’llāh (15th Abbasid Caliph) ruled from 870 to 892. He was a largely a ruler in name only, power was held by his brother al-Muwaffaq, who held the loyalty of the military. Al-Mu'tamid's authority was circumscribed further after a failed attempt to flee to the domains controlled by Ahmad ibn Tulun in late 882. In 881, when al-Muwaffaq died, loyalists attempted to restore power to the Caliph, but were quickly overcome by al-Muwaffaq's son al-Mu'tadid, who assumed his father's powers.

Spiral minaret at Abu Dulaf, 15 km north of Samarra

al-Mu'tadid bi-llah sucseeded al-Muʿtamid as the 16th Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad from 892 until his death in 902. Despite his successes, al-Mu'tadid's reign was ultimately too short to effect a lasting reversal of the Caliphate's fortunes. The brief reign of his less able son and heir, al-Muktafi(17th Abbasid Caliph), saw the annexation of the Tulunid domains, but his later successors lacked his energy, and new enemies appeared in the form of the Qarmatians.

Minaret of Ibn-Tulun Mosque, the largest remaining building from the Tulunid period today.

al-Muqtadir bi-llāh became the 18th Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad and reigned from 908 to 932 at 13 being the youngest caliph. By the 920s, the situation had changed further, as North Africa was lost to the Abbasids. Outside Iraq, all the autonomous provinces slowly took on the characteristic of de facto states with hereditary rulers, armies, and revenues such as the Soomro Emirs that had gained control of Sindh and ruled the entire province from their capital of Mansura. Mahmud of Ghazni took the title of sultan, as opposed to the "amir" that had been in more common usage.

Mahmud of Ghazni

On the death of the former Caliph, al-Muqtadir, courtiers chose the late Caliph's brother al-Qahir to be 19th Caliph of the Abbasid Caliphate who ruled from 932 to 934 CE. Being tyrannical, his eyes were blinded, and he was cast into prison in 934 CE. He was succeeded by al-Radi bi-llah (20th Abbasid Caliph), reigning from 934 to his death in 940. The authority of the Caliph at this time extended hardly beyond the region of the capital city. Al-Radi is commonly spoken of as the last of the real Caliphs.

Gold dinar of Al-Radi

After death of Al-Radi, al-Muttaqi became the 21st Abbasid caliph ruling from 940 to 944. Of such little importance the Caliphate had become by now that when the previous Caliph died, Bajkam, amir al-umara (Amir of Amirs), contented himself with dispatching to Baghdad his secretary, who assembled the chief men to elect a successor. After the death of Bajkam, Muhammad ibn Ra'iq, Caliph's amīr al-umarāʾ, persuaded the Caliph to flee with him to Mosul.

Grand Mosque in Mosul

Al-Muttaqi was welcomed in Mosul by the Hamdanid dynasty, who organized a campaign to restore him to the capital. But, they assassinated Ibn Ra'iq, and having added his Syrian government to their own, turned their ambition towards Baghdad. The Hamdanid chief, with the title of Nasir al-Dawla, advanced on Baghdad with the Caliph. Being foreign mercenaries they were not able to hold Baghdad and had to return to Mosul after one year.  al-Muttaqi took up his residence at Raqqa while a Turkish general called Tuzun, entered Baghdad in triumph, and was saluted as amir al-umara.

Baghdad province

Tuzun(amir al-umara) installed the previous Caliph's cousin as his successor, with the title of al-Mustakfi as 22nd caliph of Abbasid Caliphate. He ruled from 944 to 946 CE. He was succeeded by al-Mutīʿ li-ʾllāh (23rd Abbasid Caliph) and ruled from 946 to 974. The Buwayhids under Mu'izz al-Dawla entered Baghdad in 945 and maintained their hold over one hundred years. The material position of the Caliphs throughout the Buwayhid reign was at its lowest ebb.

Manuscript from the Abbasid Era

At-Ta'i became the 24th Caliph of Abbasid Dynasty in 974 CE and remained till 991 CE. During his Caliphate, Syria was torn by contending factions — Fatimid, Turkish, and Carmathian; while the Buwayhid dynasty was split up into parties that were fighting among themselves. Also, Byzantine Emperor John Tzimisces stormed the east in a victorious campaign in 975. After holding the office for seventeen years, At-Ta'i was deposed in 991 by the Buwayhid emir Baha' al-Dawla.

Byzantine Eagle

Al-Qadir became the 25th Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad and ruled from 991 to 1031. He held the Caliphate for 40 years. It was during his Caliphate that Mahmud of Ghazni arose, threatening the empire. Al-Qadir died at eighty-seven years of age in Baghdad, and was succeeded by his son al-Qa'im who became the 26th Abbasid Caliph. He ruled from 1031 to 1075.

Mahmud of Ghazni receiving a richly decorated robe of honor from the caliph al-Qadir in 1000.

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