Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Abbasid Caliphate Part 2

This post will be focused on the decline of Abbasid Caliphate. I will discuss about several factors that led to the fall of Abbasid Caliphate.

1: Decentralization.

For your information, the Abbasid started to become weak by mid 3rd cent A.H/ 9th cent C.E. This is because they had a weak central government. Hence, many independent kingdoms started to rise like Saffarids, Samanids, Ghaznavids and etc. These kingdoms led by powerful governors and military leaders. Here are some information about three independent kingdoms that appeared during Abbasid time.

i. Aghlabids (800 - 909 C.E)

Map of Aghlabids

This kingdom was founded by Ibn al-Aghlab. The capital of this kingdom was at Qayrawan, al-Maghrib (current state in Morocco). Al-Maghrib consists of current modern states of Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. We can said during Aghlabids period they control over most part of North Africa and contributed to the spread of Islam in the central part of the Mediterranean Sea. The rise of Aghlabids led to Abbasid gradually lost its control over North Africa.

ii. Seljuqs (1037 - 1157 C.E)

The Seljuq Empire

The founder of this kingdom was the Turkish chieftain, Saljuq. He came from the Sultanate of Seljuqs which also known as the Great Seljuqs of Persia. They came from Turkestan. The famous leader of Seljuqs was Alp Arsalan because he had a successful campaigns against the Byzantines in Syria. He managed to win a decisive battle at Manzikart (446 AH/1071 CE). He DESTROYED the Byzantine empire and took the emperor himself as a prisoner of war. The Byzatines asked help from West Europe. Hence this event marked the beginning of Crusade wars.

iii. Ayyubids. (1171 -1260 C.E)

The Ayyubid dynasty

It was founded by the famous Muslim icon, Salah al- Din ibn Ayyub who was also known as Saladin to the Western. He eventually ended the Fatimid and Nurid dynasty which located at Egypt and Syria. The kingdom stretched to Tigris river at Iraq, Yemen, Hijaz (Makkah+Madinah), Al-Maghrib, Nubia and Western Arabia. He also given the title of 'Sultan'. One of the greatest contribution of Saladin was the victories against the Crusaders. He captured Beirut, Tiberias, Asqalan and Baitul Maqdis. However, as their power weakened especially after the death of Saladin, the Crusaders recaptured the Syrian cities. Some defeated by Hulagu Khan while some were subdued by Mamluks of Egypt.

2: Economic Problems

The decentralization factor led to the less contribution of revenues in central treasury. This is because many distant provinces and areas within Iraq (e.g Sawad - the main agricultural centre) were seized from Abbasid control. Fertile areas were under the rule of independent rulers like Fars, Ahwaz, Sawad, Egypt and Syria. The liss of revenue for the Abbasid government has caused bankruptcy. In some independent dynasties, there were exploitation and over-taxation onto the people to benefit the ruling class. This policy discouraged farming and industry. This policy also led to the increase gap between rich and poor. Other than that, there were continuous fighting and wars that caused depletion of man-power and many farms were abandoned. Famines were also appeared in various parts of the caliphate and this led to the spread of epidemics like plague, smallpox, malaria and other fevers.

3: Disunity among Muslims.

In the later part of Abbasid caliphate, there were divisive feeling among different groups of people. This tension happened between the Arabs, Persians, Turks, Berbers and Syrians. There were also religious divisions among the people of Abbasid. For example, the Sunnis, Shiite, Ismaillites and Qarmatians.

4: Social and Moral Problems

As usual, many great empires in the world history crumbled because of the moral decay in their social institution. The Abbasid leaders adopted the harem institutions. There were large number of harems. This led to NUMBERLESS of half brothers and half sisters in the imperial household. This caused jealousies and intrigues among them. Besides that, they practiced a luxurious lifestyle at court like wine , songs and entertainment.

A Turkish bath provided for a harem.

4: Weak Caliphs.

Many weak caliphs could not rule efficiently during the later part of Abbasid caliphate. Their appointment and disposal were determined by powerful military leaders of governors. For example the Buwayhids acted at their will in the appointment of Abbasid caliph in the central government. The caliphs did not have power even over capital Baghdad. They also ruled for short period before being replaced by new caliphs. Al- Qa'im, Al-Muqtadi, Al-mustazhir, Al-Mustarshid are few examples of weak caliphs.

5: Conspiracy of Muwayd al-Din Ilqami

He was the Shia wazir or personal advisor of Caliph al- Musta'sim, the last caliph of Abbasid caiphate. The wazir planned to establish an Alawi caliphate. He wrote a letter to Hulagu Khan invinting him to Baghdad and end the Abbasid Caliphate. Yet he was imprisoned by the Hulagu.

6: Mongol Attacks.

The Mongols were originate from Central Asia. In 1218 - 20 C.E, Changiz Khan or Genghis Khan attacked and destroyed the Kingdom of Khwarizm. After that, his successor Hulagu Khan started to spread the Mongol empire in the Middle East. Hulagu was the grandson of Genghis Khan. He began the 2nd wave of Mongol invasion in 1253 - 58 CE. First he attacked the Ismaillites at Alamut. in 1253, he entered Khurasan and after that he advanced to Baghdad. He sent an utilmatum to Abbasid caliph, al- Musta'sim to surrender or destruction of the city of Baghdad will happened if he did not obey. As there was no concrete reply, he began to attack the city. 1258 marked the siege og Baghdad by the Mongols. Despite attempts by the Abbasids to make terms, Hulagu refused to accept the offer. In the end, February 1258 was the doomsday for the Abbasid caliphate because it was the date of fall of Baghdad. Consequently, the caliph and his entourage and family members were all killed. Baghdad was sacked by the Mongols army for 40 days. According to Ibn Khaldun, 1.6 million people were killed. This event was the most tragic event in the history of Muslim world. Some also said that the Tigris river was in black or red colour because it was covered with inks from the books. This is because the Mongols took all the books in the Baghdad's libraries in order to make a bridge to cross over the river.

Hulagu (left) imprisoned Al-Mus'tasim with his treasure to starve in death. Medieval depiction from "Le livre des merveilles", 15th century.

Hulagu and his Kerait Queen, Doquz Khatun

The siege of Baghdad

p/s: Alhamdulillah sbjk ni aku dpt A. Tak sia2 aku post pasal Abbasid ni kat blog aku. Haha. Br pasan rmi strangers from overseas yg dtg blog aku smua bukak post pasal Abbasid. Hehe


  1. azam!!! aku dpat B >_<

    haha for sure kau dapat A kaaan!!!

  2. aah..haha..ok la 2 B klu hentam2 pon..hee

  3. the seige of baghdad has always remained a source of pain for me... The water of tigris was all red because of the blood of almost 1.6 million people. Whenever, i read about the seige of baghdad by halagu khan, tears roll out from my cheek...


HaaA Ngomel JAngan TAk NgomeL !


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