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  1. Additional Information
  2. ISLAMIC, 'Abbasid Caliphate. al-Ma'mun. AH 196-218 / AD 812-833. AV Dinar
  3. Al-Ma'mun - WikiShia
  4. Dar Al Ma'Mun

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What you should do is call in the jurists and encourage them to do the right thing by acting in accord with the Sunna [that is, the practice of the Prophet and the early Muslims], and you should hold audiences sitting on a cloth of felt and satisfy anyone who complains of injustice Tabari, 3, The cloth of felt was intended to cast a glow of ascetic piety over the proceedings.

This may have been a matter of necessity: he is said to have left his money in Baghdad. But there are also indications that the appearance of pious austerity was carefully engineered by al-Fadl.

Additional Information

This anecdote is one of many to depict al-Fadl as plotting from the start to overthrow al-Amin. This move was particularly welcome, as the previous governor had been notorious for his rapacious tax gathering. Then, they made overtures to the petty kings of the region. Some of these kings were nominally subject to the Abbasids, while others had maintained their independence by playing the Muslims off against the Turks.

With the others he exchanged gifts and embassies and was rewarded with promises of loyalty.

Khalifah - Al Amin dan Al Ma'mun

The next step was to create an army. At first, they reportedly refused to betray a caliph to whom they had sworn an oath of loyalty. The Abbasid regime had not treated the province kindly, and those Sons who had remained in Khurasan may have felt that their fellows in Baghdad had forfeited any claim to their allegiance. Still, it cannot have been a simple matter for the Sons to take sides against their relatives in Baghdad.

Many seem to have avoided choosing sides until the last possible moment. Having achieved only limited success with the Sons, al-Fadl then turned to the local kings and princes. Here his arguments proved more successful.

ISLAMIC, 'Abbasid Caliphate. al-Ma'mun. AH 196-218 / AD 812-833. AV Dinar

The petty rulers of the east seem to have been eager to exchange their tenuously maintained independence for the chance to participate in a movement that seemed poised to overthrow the Baghdad regime. In a few short years, the new governor of Khurasan had gained effective control of his province. But he did not do so in the name of the central authority in Baghdad. Rather,he did so in the name of Islam and of local Khurasani interests. Prompted by his advisers, al-Amin tested the waters by asking for the income from certain estates in Khurasan and the right to appoint governors and intelligence officers in those areas.

But if the text we have is a forgery, then al-Amin was merely exercising his rights as caliph. Al-Amin then retaliated by naming his own infant son as heir apparent. This was a clear violation of the succession agreement and was widely condemned as such. In an inspired moment, he proclaimed himself imam, the implication being that he was a rightly guided leader while his brother was not.

At first, the implication was only an implication: since he was not calling himself a caliph, he could not be accused of challenging his brother directly or of dividing the community of believers. Indeed, his supporters are quoted as offering disingenuous protests when observers expressed surprise at the new title.

Caliphate.

Following the precedent of the original Abbasid revolutionaries, he was issuing a call to allegiance based on the idea that his movement aimed to restore just government under the leadership of a learned and pious kinsman of the Prophet. He reappointed Ali ibn Isa, the former governor of Khurasan, and sent him to reclaim the province. In one respect, Ali was a poor choice: he was famous for his brutal ch3. And, apart from questions of numerical superiority, the Baghdad regime was confident that the Sons of the Revolution could defeat any collection of Turks and Iranians from the frontier.

In hindsight, it seemed that the Sons who had settled in Baghdad had become accustomed to urban warfare and had lost the ability to fight in the field. The Sons are used to fighting with swords in trenches and alleys. The urbanized Sons may also have been intimidated by the sight of their wild and woolly cousins from the frontier.

One Khurasani is quoted as describing his people as follows: When you see us approach on horseback with our retinue and our special banners, you realize that we were created for one purpose: to overthrow dynasties, to obey the caliphs, and to support authority We have huge terrifying drums, and banners, and horse-armor, and bells, and mantles and long gowns of felt, and curved scabbards, and tall caps, and fine horses, and truncheons and battle-axes and daggers. We sit smartly on horseback, and our shouting is enough to cause a miscarriage This verse was normally understood to have predicted a Byzantine victory over the Sasanians, or a Muslim victory over the Byzantines.

In desperation, al-Amin sought to recruit new troops, going so far as to seek help from the traditionally hostile province of Syria.


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Resentful of the largesse showered on the new recruits, the Baghdad soldiery fought only half-heartedly for al-Amin. At one point,he was deposed and imprisoned by his own commanders, only to be released when the mutineers fell to fighting among themselves. Tahir, meanwhile, had resumed his march toward the capital. Harthama was willing to wait for his former comrades to realize the weakness of their position. But the Baghdadis were having none of it: when Harthama left his camp to talk peace, he was greeted with curses.

Realizing that the capital would not surrender without a fight,Tahir determined to take it by force. To the north, west, and south was the city proper, consisting of residential neighborhoods and markets built along irrigation canals. To the east was the Tigris River, with further urban construction on the opposite bank. Tahir began his assault by setting up catapults to bombard the neighborhoods on the west bank of the Tigris.

Al-Ma'mun - WikiShia

As each neighborhood surrendered, his troops would fortify it with walls and ditches and then begin bombarding the next one. When the assault approached the walls of the Round City, al-Amin responded by torching the neighborhoods that stood between him and the attackers. People fled from place to place, and fear was everywhere Fishbein who took up arms to defend their neighborhoods. In the end,Tahir was able to crush the resistance only by prodding his reluctant colleague Harthama to take a more active role in the fighting.

In the last stages of the assault, the besiegers cut the bridges that spanned the Tigris, thereby trapping the defenders in their positions. They also stopped river traffic into the city, effectively depriving the Baghdadis of food and supplies. According to his proclamations,the Baghdadis deserved to suffer because they had proclaimed their allegiance to a false imam. More to the point, his troops had completed a long march through hostile territory and suffered heavy losses in their battles with the Sons. By the time they reached the capital,they were eager for plunder and revenge.

The new recruits, many of whom were probably pagans or nominal converts, doubtless thought of the capital as enemy territory and treated it accordingly. Besides attacking the besiegers, the popular militias also took the opportunity to rob and pillage, and their depredations are cited as the reason for the decision taken by the merchants of Karkh the commercial district south of the Round City to throw their lot in with Tahir.

Properly supplied and defended, the walled and gated compound could have withstood a major assault. But al-Amin had neither troops nor food.

Dar Al Ma'Mun

No sooner had he boarded it than the boat began to sink:Tahir,suspecting treachery, had sent men into the water to drill through the hull. Thrown ch3. After a night in confinement,he was beheaded. This time, however, the occasion was a somber one. In one account, he bursts into tears, disclaims all responsibility, and curses Tahir.

On closer examination, however, the idea that Tahir went ahead and killed al-Amin without permission is unlikely. It would not have been difficult to keep the deposed caliph under arrest, or even send him to Marv as was done with his children. Instead, he was killed shortly after being identified. Some ninth-century observers seem to have reached the same conclusion. The slaying of al-Amin was a profound shock to those who believed in the legitimacy of the Abbasids.

He had been appointed by due process of law and his subjects had given binding oaths of loyalty to him, either directly or through their governors. Now the Muslim community was being asked to pay homage to his killer. But many Muslims, especially ch3. Eventually, the chroniclers were to paper over the crisis of legitimacy by arguing that al-Amin had lost his office and his life because of his own bad conduct. The sources are full of stories depicting him as a glutton, a drunkard, and a pederast. Allegedly, he had spent vast sums on pleasure boats in the shape of marine animals; set fire to piles of tax records laboriously assembled for his inspection; and spent the siege of Baghdad drinking, fishing, and listening to music.

Although some of these stories may have a basis in fact, they clearly represent efforts to justify his assassination. At the same time, the depiction of any caliph as a drunken despot could not be carried too far without making a mockery of the caliphate itself. In the reports of his last days, we are given a glimpse of the personality behind the caricature, as when he is shown weeping and embracing his children before riding out to meet Harthama on the Tigris.

By lending dignity to his final hours, these reports reflect a sense that the murder of a caliph, even one as frivolous as al-Amin, is a desecration of the office. If chronicles written centuries after the civil war can still betray uneasiness about the death of al-Amin, the discomfort experienced in must have been acute. During the ensuing five years, Iraq lapsed into anarchy and Shiite uprisings broke out in Kufa, Mecca, Medina, and the Yemen. Having promised ch3. During this period, the tendency to provincial independence that was to characterize the later history of the Abbasid caliphate began to make itself felt.

Given the heavy-handed rapacity of imperial government, local autonomy was doubtless a good thing. Certainly, he thought of himself that way. But he was now cut off from his Abbasid relatives, the only people who shared his caliphal lineage. He was, in other words, a ruler without a dynasty. This situation does not seem to have troubled him unduly at first. Eventually, however, he resolved to address it, proposing a solution entirely unprecedented in the annals of the Abbasid caliphate: the nomination of an heir apparent from the rival family of Ali.

He had deposed and killed his duly appointed predecessor, broken the power of the Sons of the Revolution, and inflicted grievous suffering on the capital. To make matters worse, he had then decided to remain out of sight in Marv. Despite its symbolic importance — it was there that the Abbasids had first unfurled the black banners of the revolution — the Khurasani capital was too far to the northeast and too geographically isolated to serve as the capital of an empire that extended from Libya in the west toYemen in the south.


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In the absence of any credible central government, the provinces of the empire began to fall away. The rebellion that made the greatest impression on contemporaries was the uprising of Abu al-Saraya in Kufa. A 57 ch4. The call for al-rida had been the slogan of the Abbasid revolution of In the event, an Abbasid and not an Alid had become caliph in But there was no particular reason — other than the contingent fact that the Abbasids had an army and the Alids did not — why that should have been so.