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Islam / Caliph /
Arabic: 'al-¢abbāsidīnPlay sound

Abbasid caliphs
as-Saffah 749-754
al-Mansur 754-775
al-Mahdi 775-785
al-Hadi 785-786
Harun ar-Rashid 786-809
al-Amin 809-813
al-Ma'mun 813-833
al-Mu'tasim 833-842
al-Wathiq 842-847
al-Mutawakkil 847-861
al-Muntasir 861-862
al-Musta'in 862-866
al-Mu'tazz 866-869
al-Muhtadi 869-870
al-Mu'tamid 870-892
al-Mu'tadid 892-902
al-Muktafi ibnu l-Mu'tadid 902-908
al-Muqtadir 908-932
al-Qahir bi'llahi bni l-Mu'tadid 932-934
al-Radi bi'llahi bni l-Muqtadir 934-940
al-Mutaqqi li'llahi bni l-Muqtadir 940-944
al-Mustakfi bi'llahi bni l-Muktafi 944-946
al-Muti' ibni l-Muqtadir 946-974
al-Tai'i' ibni l-Muti' 974-991
al-Qadir bi-amri'llah 991-1031
al-Qa'im 1031-1075
al-Muqtadi 1075-1094
al-Mustazhir 1094-1118
al-Mustarshid 1118-1135
ar-Rashid 1135-1136
al-Muqtafi 1136-1160
al-Mustanjid 1160-1170
al-Mustadi' 1170-1180
an-Nasir 1180-1225
az-Zahir 1225-1226
al-Mustansir 1226-1242
al-Musta'sim 1242-1258

Caliphate dynasty ruling from 750 until 1258. The Abbasids were all of one big family that claimed to descend from Abbas, an uncle of Muhammad.
The Abbasids governed from Baghdad, a city the second Abbasid Caliph founded in 762, and Samara for some periods in the 9th century. The Abbasids took the power from the Umayyads in 750, and stayed in power until the Mongols conquered Baghdad in 1258, and had the Caliph killed.
For their first 100 years, the Abbasids were leaders, both of Islam and of the Muslim community. The Shi'is of the period rejected the legitimacy of the Abbasid leadership.
The change came towards the end of the 9th century, and started with the takeover by Sunni scholars of religious leadership, of the cost of the Caliph. This change became especially clear after the Mihna of mid-9th century.
In political terms, the Abbasid Caliphs became puppets in the hands of the Turkish military troops, and in 935 the title Emiru l-Umara was transferred to the chief of the Turkish soldiers.
The Persian Shi'i Buwayhids were the real rulers from 945 until the 10th century. The Buwayhids were so strong that they had the power to remove Caliphs at their own will.
At the same time as the Caliphs lost the grip of power, the unity of the Caliphate also fell apart, and independent states were formed. These new states recognized the position of the Caliph, but it was only the symbolic value that survived.
In 1055 the Turkish Seljuqs conquered Baghdad, but this had little influence to the position of the Caliphs, who continued to play only his limited symbolical role. With the fall of the traditional Caliphate in 1258, when the Mongols took over Baghdad, a new line of Abbasid Caliphs continued in Cairo. In Cairo they played the same type of role as in Baghdad, but now even the symbolical role was limited by geography. This, the last branch of Abbasids, stayed in office until 1517.
Harunu r-Rashid is the most famous of the Abbasid Caliphs. The Abbasid period, is recognized of being the one in Muslim history bringing the most elevated scientific works. The Muslim world continued the achievements of classical Europe (especially the 9th and 10th centuries), India and former science of the Middle East, during a period when Europe was unable contribute much to the cultural and scientific fields. The Abbasid era is often regarded as the golden age of Muslim civilization.

By Tore Kjeilen