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Al-Mahdi al-'Abbasi

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Al-Mahdi al-'Abbasi
Third 'Abbasid Caliph
Personal Information
Name Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah
Teknonym Abu 'Abd Allah
Epithet al-Mahdi
Birth 126/744, Humayma
Death 169/785-86
Father Al-Mansur al-Dawaniqi
Children Al-Hadi, Harun
Rule
Dynasty Abbasids
Reign 158/775 - 169/785-86
Contemporary with Imam al-Kazim (a)
Activities Sending armies to Roman Empire and India several times
Remnants Developing roads which reached Mecca and expanding al-Masjid al-Haram
Predecessor Al-Mansur
Successor Al-Hadi

Al-Mahdī al-ʿAbbāsī (b. 126/743-44 - d. 169/785-86) was the third Abbasid caliph who reached caliphate during the imamate of Imam al-Kazim (a). His rule began in 158/775 and ended in 169/785-86. Some sources, based on historical evidence, believe that Mahdawiyya and his father's goals were influential in titling him as al-Mahdi. In 159/775-76, he summoned Imam al-Kazim (a) to Baghdad and then imprisoned him for a while.

At the beginning of his caliphate, al-Mahdi al-'Abbasi avoided to kill and torture Shi'a. He released imprisoned Shi'a and assigned allowance for them. During his rule, some rebellions were made which were suppressed by the government. He sent armies to Roman Empire and India several times.

Life

Abu 'Abd Allah, Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah b. Muhammad b. 'Ali b. 'Abd Allah b. al-'Abbas, titled as al-Mahdi,[1] was the third Abbasid caliph. He was born in Humayma near Mecca in 126/743-44.[2] His father al-Mansur al-Dawaniqi was very much concerned about his education and since he was a teenager, assigned important responsibilities to him.[3] In 147/764-65, al-Mansur appointed him as his crown prince. He was famous for his cleverness, generosity, and leniency.[4] After the death of his father, al-Mahdi became caliph on Saturday, Dhu al-Hijja of 158 AH[5] or 159 AH[6] (October 775 or 776). Al-Mahdi al-'Abbasi appointed his two sons al-Hadi and Harun successively as his crown princes.[7] However, toward the end of his life, he regretted his decision for appointing al-Hadi as his crown prince, but could not change it.[8]

After gaining power, he took some measures in domestic policy which led to relative calmness and security in the society during his rule.[9] Some consider his rule, a transition from violence and oppression by previous Abbasid kings to moderation and lenience of the future ones.[10]

He made all efforts to develop cities and roads and developed the roads which reached Mecca and expanded al-Masjid al-Haram.[11] He assigned allowance for ill people and built schools and hospitals. He also did some actions in the economy. He built business routes and turned Baghdad into the world trade center at that time.[12]

'Abbasi Dynasty
 
 
 
 
 
 
al-'Abbas b. 'Abd al-Muttalib
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
'Abd Allah b. al-'Abbas
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
'Ali b. 'Abd Allah
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Muhammad b. 'Ali
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Ibrahim al-Imam
 
al-Saffah
(r. 132/749-50 - 136/753-54)
 
al-Mansur
(r. 136/753-54 - 158/775)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
al-Mahdi
(r. 158/775 - 169/785-86)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
al-Hadi
(r. 169/785-86 - 170/786-87)
 
Harun al-Rashid
(r. 170/786-87 - 193/808-9)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Muhammad al-Amin
(r. 193/808-9 - 198/813-14)
 
al-Ma'mun
(r. 198/813-14 - 218/833)
 
al-Mu'tasim
(r. 218/833 - 227/841-42)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
al-Wathiq
(r. 227/841-42 - 232/846-47)
 
 
 
 
 
al-Mutawakkil
(r. 232/846-47 - 247/861-62)
 
 
 
 
 
Muhammad
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
al-Muhtadi
(r. 255/869 - 256/870)
 
al-Muntasir
(r. 247/861-62 - 248/862)
 
al-Mu'tazz
(r. 251/865 - 255/869)
 
al-Mu'tamid
(r. 256/870 - 279/892-93)
 
al-Musta'in
(r. 248/862 - 251/865)


Title

Some researchers believe that the title "al-Mahdi" for him was adopted with regards to ideological backgrounds and the situation at that time. That time, al-Mansur chose the title "al-Mahdi" for his son to guarantee the support of people[13] and to oppose the claim of al-Nafs al-Zakiyya's Mahdawiyya.[14]

Treating Imam al-Kazim (a)

Al-Mahdi summoned Imam al-Kazim (a) from Medina to Baghdad in 159/775-76 and imprisoned him.[15] After a while, Imam Musa b. Ja'far (a) swore that he (a) would not revolt against the government and was released from the prison,[16] but he (a) was placed under surveillance until the end of al-Mahdi al-'Abbasi's rule. Imam (a) also advised his companions about observing taqiyya and asked them to follow that as their policy.[17]

The martyrdom of Imam al-Sadiq (a) and division of Shi'a in different branches weakened the position of Imam al-Kazim (a) and made Imam (a) follow taqiyya.[18] So, the government did not take any action against him and his followers; but, after the beginning of the rule of al-Mahdi al-'Abbasi, most of the followers of other Shi'a sects joined the main body of Shi'a and Imamiyya became more powerful than other Shi'a sects; therefore, al-Mahdi followed the policy of threatening about Shi'a and imprisoned their Imam (a).[19]

Encounter with Shi'a

At first, al-Mahdi al-'Abbasi avoided killing and harassing Shi'a. He released them from prison[20] and assigned allowance for them.[21] As his first step, al-Mahdi tried to attract people's content.[22] He returned most of the properties remained from his father's government which were confiscated and taken from people and especially Shi'a by force and made them happy.[23] But, he later adopted the policy of threatening against Shi'a.[24]

Suppressing Rebellions and Sending Armies to Roman Empire and India

During the rule of al-Mahdi al-'Abbasi, some movements and rebellions were formed against the government. As his first step, he stood against Zindiqs movement which was going to expand.[25]

The rebellion of al-Muqanna',[26] Yusuf al-Barm's rebellion in 160/776-77 in Khorasan,[27] 'Abd Allah b. Marwan's rebellion in 161/777-78 in Syria[28] and the rebellion of Khawarij led by 'Abd al-Salam al-Yashkuri in 162/778-79[29] happened during the rule of al-Mahdi al-'Abbasi and were all suppressed.[30]

After suppressing rebellions, he sent armies to Roman Empire in different phases. In 159/775-76, he sent al-'Abbas b. Muhammad with a great army to Roman lands and went forth up to Ankara.[31] Also in 165/781-82, he sent a great army led by his son, Harun to Roman lands and they could go forth up to the Gulf of Constantinople.[32] Also in 160/776-77, he sent an army to India via sea, besieged Barbad and then took hold of it.[33]

Death

In 166/782-83[34] or 169/785-86,[35] al-Mahdi died in Masbadhan[36] region (Ilam today) in Rudh village after 10 years of caliphate.[37] There is disagreement on whether al-Mahdi al-'Abbasi was killed by poison or during practice for hunting antelopes.[38]

Notes

  1. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 8, p. 110.
  2. Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 1, p. 151.
  3. Khiḍrī, Tārīkh-i khilāfat-i ʿAbbāsī, p. 44.
  4. Masʿūdī, Tanbīh wa l-ishrāf, p. 297; Ibn Ṭaqṭaqī, al-Fakhrī, p. 179.
  5. Dīnawarī, al-Akbār al-ṭiwāl, p. 386.
  6. Maqdisī, al-Bidaʾ wa l-tārīkh, vol. 6, p. 95.
  7. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 8, p. 124.
  8. Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 401.
  9. Khiḍrī, Tārīkh-i khilāfat-i ʿAbbāsī, p. 44.
  10. Ṭaqūsh, Dawlat-i ʿabbāsīyān, p. 72.
  11. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 8, p. 165.
  12. Ṭaqūsh, Dawlat-i ʿabbāsīyān, p. 74.
  13. ʿUmar, Farhang-i mahdawīyyat, p. 170.
  14. Ṭabāṭabāyī, "Gūnahā-yi chālish āfarīnī-yi ʿabbāsīyān", p. 135.
  15. Ibn al-Jawzī, Tadhkirat al-khawāṣṣ, p. 313.
  16. Ibn Athīr, al-Kāmil fī l-tārīkh, vol. 6, p. 85.
  17. Ḥusayn, Tārīkh-i sīyāsī-yi ghaybat, p. 65.
  18. Ḥusayn, Tārīkh-i sīyāsī-yi ghaybat, p. 65.
  19. Ḥusayn, Tārīkh-i sīyāsī-yi ghaybat, p. 66.
  20. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 8, p. 118.
  21. Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 394.
  22. Ṭaqūsh, Dawlat-i ʿabbāsīyān, p. 73.
  23. Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 401.
  24. Ḥusayn, Tārīkh-i sīyāsī-yi ghaybat, p. 65.
  25. Ṭaqūsh, Dawlat-i ʿabbāsīyān, p. 76.
  26. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 8, p. 135; Ibn Athīr, al-Kāmil fī l-tārīkh, vol. 6, p. 38; Maqdisī, al-Bidaʾ wa l-tārīkh, vol. 6, p. 97.
  27. Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 397; Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 8, p. 124; Ibn Athīr, al-Kāmil fī l-tārīkh, vol. 6, p. 43.
  28. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 8, p. 135.
  29. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 8, p. 142.
  30. Ṭaqūsh, Dawlat-i ʿabbāsīyān, p. 78.
  31. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 8, p. 144.
  32. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 8, p. 152.
  33. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 8, p. 124; Ibn Athīr, al-Kāmil fī l-tārīkh, vol. 6, p. 46.
  34. Maqdisī, al-Bidaʾ wa l-tārīkh, vol. 6, p. 95.
  35. Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 401.
  36. Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 401.
  37. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 8, p. 168.
  38. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 8, p. 168.

References

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