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  • Print publication year: 1977
  • Online publication date: March 2008

4 - The ‘Abbasid caliphate

from Part I - The rise and domination of the Arabs
The 'Abbasid dynasty, known to its supporters as the 'blessed dynasty', which imposed its authority on the Islamic empire in 132/750, claimed to inaugurate a new era of justice, piety and happiness. A great obscurity shrouds the nature of this movement, the yandaqa, which was in evidence at the beginning of the 'Abbasid period. The civil war between al-Amīn and al-Ma'mūn had demonstrated the need for the caliph to have at his disposal an armed force which was completely loyal to him and which was outside religious quarrels. Al-Mutawakkil, who took his dignity as a ruler very seriously, also governed in a very authoritarian fashion. Al-Muktafi also attempted, in the course of his brief reign, to strengthen the governmental machine. The effacement of the caliph served in fact to sanction the parcellingout of the Arab-Muslim empire, with the development of new centres, both political and intellectual, and the reappearance of local cultures.
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The Cambridge History of Islam
  • Online ISBN: 9781139055024
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