Abbasid Caliphate

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This page's source is WHKMLA: Abbasid Caliphate 750-1250. Retrieved 25 January 2012.

Abbasid Caliphate c. 800 (left); Regional Dynasties 9th and 10th century (right). Adopted from WHKMLA: Abbasid Caliphate 750-1258
Provinces in the Abbasid Caliphate c. 800. Adopted from ibid.
Abbasid Caliphate c. 1200. Adopted from ibid.

Contents

Political History

In 750 AD, the Abbasids overthrew the Umayyad Dynasty. In 762 the capital was moved from Damascus to Baghdad, in 836 the capital was moved to Samarra; in 892 it was moved back to Baghdad. From 750 to the middle of the 9th century the Abbasid Caliphate extended from Ifriqiya (modern Tunisia) to Mawarannahr (modern Uzbekistan). Then provincial governors claimed independence Tulunid Egypt 868-905, Buwayhid Iran from 934.

The Buwayhid conquest of Baghdad in 945 turned the Abbasid caliphs into puppet rulers under Buwayhid protection from 945 to 1055, briefly under Fatimid protection in 1058, then under Seljuk protection until 1135 when the Abbasids restored political independence, now controling Iraq. In 1258 Baghdad was destroyed by Hulagu Khan; Iraq became part of the Il-Khanate. A branch of the Abbasid Dynasty from 1260 to 1517 resided in Cairo as puppets of the Mamluk Sultans of Cairo.

Religious Policy

During the Abbasid Revolution (the movement which resulted in the overthrow of the Umayyad Dynasty, 749-750) the Abbasids appealed to Shi'ites dissatisfied with Umayyad rule. Once firmly established, the Abbasid Dynasty declared Sunni Islam (which was further defined during early Abbasid rule) the official interpretation of Islam. Shi'ites rejected Abbasid rule and suffered persecution. The Abbasid Caliphate experienced major rebellions, such as the Zanj (slaves in lower Iraq, 860-883); the Qarmatians (899-985) established an independent state in eastern Arabia. In coastal Syria, the Alawi (a branch of the Shi'a) established autonomy.

In the 10th century, the rivals of the Abbasid Caliphs, the Buwayhids in Iran (934-1055) and the Fatimids in Ifriqiya (909-), later in Egypt (969-1171), made Shi'a Islam the official religion, thus openly declaring their break with the caliphate.

Over time, conversion of non-Muslims to Sunni Islam took place. Book-religions (Christianity, Judaism, initially also Zoroastrianism) enjoyed toleration. Zoroastrianism then was deprived of the status of a book-religion and suppressed. In Egypt Coptic Christians engaged in several major revolts, the last of which took place in 831-832.

Economy and Culture

Politically, the Abbasid caliphs from the death of Harun al-Rashid on (809) increasingly became politically unstable; from the 860s onward, the caliphate lost control of significant territories; provincial governors established independence; rebels held entire provnces. From 945 until 1135 the Abbasid caliphs were puppets controlled by others, and when independence was restored (1135-1258) the authority of the caliphs was limited to Iraq.

In cultural and economic history the Era of the Abbasid Caliphate (750-1258) is generally described as the Golden Age of Islam. South Asia, East Asia, Central Asia, Western Asia, the Mediterranean, East Africa and the Sahel Zone were better connected by trade routes (Silk Road, Indian Ocean Trade). Crops from East and South Asia such as sugar cane, rice, and citrus fruit were introduced to Western Asia and the Mediterranean (Arab Agricultural Revolution), as well as Arab irrigation techniques to Spain (qanats). The silver dirham became the standard currency of trade in the Islamic world. At the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, numerous scientific books were translated from such languages as ancient Greek or Egyptian into Arabic. At madrasas, scientific ideas were discussed and new books on astronomy, medicine, geography, mathematics, optics, to name a few, were written.

See also

Notes

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