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The Golden Age of the `Abbasid Caliphate. HIST 1007 9/23/13. Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406). North African historian Father of modern social sciences Used history to generate theories and models about human society Muqaddimah – The prologue to his chronicle Kitab al- Ibar

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ibn khaldun 1332 1406
IbnKhaldun (1332-1406)
  • North African historian
  • Father of modern social


  • Used history to generate

theories and models about

human society

  • Muqaddimah – The prologue

to his chronicle Kitab al-Ibar

(Book of Lessons)

ibn khaldun s four generational model
IbnKhaldun’s Four Generational Model

First generation – “builder of glory”

Fought hard to achieve success

Second generation – “inherited leadership”

Learned to rule by watching his father

Third generation – “traditionalists”

Rely on tradition when making decisions

Fourth generation – “entitled rulers”

Believe they were born to rule

abbasids first generation
`Abbasids – First Generation
  • Abu al-`Abbas `Abdullah b. Muhammad al-Saffah (r. 750-754)
  • Grab and then consolidate power
  • Were other groups looking to gain power through revolution?
  • Abu Salama – head

of `Abbasid dawa

  • Killed after dinner

with al-Saffah…

but whodunnit?

challenges to abbasid power
Challenges to `Abbasid Power
  • Big tent revolution means many constituencies to please
  • `Abbasid Family
  • Persians
  • Khurasani


  • Shi’ites
  • Sunni



abbasids first generation1
`Abbasids – First Generation
  • Abu Ja`far `Abdullah b. Muhammad al-Mansur (r. 754-775)
  • Brother of al-Saffah
  • `Abdullah b. `Ali – uncle, revolutionary general, challenges rule
  • Rules of succession
  • Abu Muslim puts down `Abdullah’s revolt
abu muslim and challenges to authority
Abu Muslim and Challenges to Authority
  • Abu Muslim – governor of the


  • Can he be trusted?
  • 755 – Invited to al-Mansur’s


  • Leaves supporters at garrisons

throughout Iran

  • Abu Muslim killed and tossed in

the Tigris

  • Abu Muslim becomes legendary

figure – Abu Muslim nameh

shi ite challenges to authority
Shi’ite Challenges to Authority
  • `Alids – descendants of `Ali and Fatima
  • Invited to court, offered state pension
  • Muhammad “al-Nafs al-Zakya” (The Pure Soul) and Ibrahim b. `Abdullah
  • 762 – Muhammad

revolts in Medina

  • Medina’s status in

the empire

  • 763 – Ibrahim revolts

in Basra

consolidation of authority
Consolidation of Authority
  • `Abbasid Family
  • al-Saffah and al-Mansur had seven uncles
  • Establish courts in the provinces
  • Salih – granted Umayyad

family property in Syria

(marries Marwan II’s


  • al-Mansur and

al-Saffah’s sons largely stay

at court

QasrUkhaydir – first `Abbasid palace, near Kufa

consolidating authority
Consolidating Authority
  • Bureaucracy
  • Create a large, stable institution
  • Families of high ranking bureaucrats dependent on the caliphate for their position
  • Chamberlain – control access to caliph
  • Rabi b. Yunus and Fadl b. Rabi – slave turned freeman (mawla) of al-Mansur turned chamberlain
  • Advancement by attachment to royal family
  • Salaried professional clerks (kuttab)
  • Working in government offices (diwan)
  • Standardized formalities
  • Qudama b. Ja`far (d. 948) – Kitab al-kharajwa

sina`at al-kitaba

(Book of the Land Tax

and the Art of

the Secretary)

  • Emergence of paper
  • Barid– post office, but also intelligence
  • Deliver official correspondence
  • Spy on governors, judges, etc.
  • Get news to the caliph fast
  • Shurta – police, city guard of the capital
  • Haras – Caliph’s private guard
the round city of baghdad
The Round City of Baghdad
  • 762 – founded as new capital by al-Mansur
  • Centrally located in Iraq
  • Near Ctesiphon
  • Planned round city
  • Property for loyalty
  • Attracts people

from around empire

baghdadi elites
Baghdadi Elites
  • abna’ al-dawla – literally “sons of the dynasty”
  • Khurasani Arab soldiers who had fought in the revolution
  • Given property in Baghdad
  • Build shops, markets, bakeries, etc. and collect rents for wealth
bureaucracy and the second generation
Bureaucracy and the Second Generation
  • 775 – al-Mansur goes on pilgrimage
  • bay`ah (oath of allegiance) given to Muhammad b. Mansur al-Mahdi (r. 775-785)
  • Travels with Rabi b. Yunus and Musa b. al-Mahdi
  • Rabi hides al-Mansur’s

death until the bay`ah for

al-Mahdi can be renewed

with Musa

  • Vizier – Chief advisor to the caliph
  • Guardians of the Nawbahar Buddhist shrine outside Balkh
  • Come to the `Abbasid cause
  • Khalid b. Barmak (705-782) – managed finances during


  • Yahya b. Khalid

(d. 806) – “whereas most

men begat sons, Yahya

had begotten a father”

Bamiyan and its Buddhas

barmakids and abbasids
Barmakids and `Abbasids
  • 758 – al-Mansur sends al-Mahdi to Rayy as governor of the east
  • Yahya b. Khalid goes as his advisor
  • Harun b. al-Mansur and Fadl b. Yahya
  • 780 – Harun sent on Byzantine campaign
  • Yahya sent to administer

the army

  • Yahya as father figure