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Muhammad b. al-'Alqami

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Muhammad b. al-'Alqami
The last minister of Abbasid caliphate
Full Name Muhammad b. Muhammad b. Ali b. Abi Talbi b. al-'Alqami
Well-known As Ibn al-'Alqami
Religious Affiliation Twelver Shi'a
Birth 591/1195
Places of Residence Hillah, Baghdad
Death/Martyrdom 656/1258
Burial Place Kadhimiya
Era Abbasid and Mongol
Professors Ibn Ayyub 'Amid al-Ru'asa, 'Abd Allah b. Husayn al-'Ukbari

Muḥammad b. Muḥammad b. ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib b. al-ʿAlqamī (Arabic:محمد بن محمد بن علي بن ابي طالب بن العلقمي) (b. 591/1195 – d. 656/1258) known as Ibn al-ʿAlqamī was a Shi'ite politician and the last minister of Abbasid caliphate. Some of Sunni historians criticized his behavior in the event of occupation of Baghdad, while they admired his capabilities, and knowledge in governance.


Ibn al-'Alqami was born in 591/1195, but some sources stated that he was either 63 or 66 years old at the time of his death which means he was born in 590/1194 or 593/1197.

Lineage and Religion

A number of historians regarded Ibn al-'Alqami as an Iranian who was from Qom, while some of them regarded him an Arab whose lineage goes back to Asad b. Khuzayma, an ancestor of Prophet Muhammad (s). Also a number of sources stated that he was from Banu Asad tribe living a Nile Iraq.

Ibn al-'Alqami was a Shi'ite politician who fanatically supported his religion.

Education and Teachers

Ibn al-'Alqami learned Nahw (Arabic synax) and literature in his young ages in Hillah from Ibn Ayyub 'Amid al-Ru'asa, a Shi'ite scholar. Then he moved to Baghdad where he learned qira'a (reciting) from Abu al-Baqa' 'Abd Allah b. Husayn al-'Ukbari.

He moved to stay with his maternal uncle, 'Adud al-Din Abu Nasr Mubarak b. Dahhak al-Qummi, a great scholar in Abbasid caliphate; he was in charge of the documents of al-Mustansir's court. Ibn al-'Alqami stayed with him for a while and then he was appointed as the head of the Bureau of Buildings, where he learned the techniques of writing letters and composing court letters. After the death of 'Adud al-Din, Ibn al-'Alqami left the Bureau and became a recluse.

Ibn al-'Alqami was a notable scholar and a poet in his time; he mastered writing Arabic texts. He was very good at calligraphy and he always encouraged scholars. Ibn al-'Alqami had a library with ten thousand exquisite books.

Ibn Abi l-Hadid who wrote a famous commentary on Nahj al-Balagha and his brother always supported Ibn al-'Alqami. Ibn Abi l-Hadid also dedicated that book to Ibn al-'Alqami which brought many gifts to him. Another work called al-Sab' al-'Alawiyyat which contains eulogistic qasa'id was also dedicated to Ibn al-'Alqami.

His Position in Abbasid Caliphate

After some time when Shams al-Din Abu l-Azhar Ahmad b. Naqid achieved a position, he asked Ibn al-'Alqami to return. Then he worked as the supervisor of ceremonies in the court until Shawwal 629/ August 1232. In that time he took part in a plan of removing Mu'ayyid al-Din al-Qummi from ministry of al-Mustansir.

Ibn Naqid was appointed as the minister of al-Mustansir in 19 Shawwal 629/15 August 1232. and Ibn al-'Alqami was given a high court position which he held for a long time until the end of caliphate of al-Mustansir and a few years after the caliphate of al-Musta'sim.

After the death of al-Mustansir, his son al-Musta'sim became the caliph. When his minister passed away, Ibn al-'Alqami was appointed as the minister which he held for fourteen years until the fall of Abbasid caliphate.

The Fall of Baghdad

In Muharram in 656/1258 Hulagu managed to occupy Baghdad. Ibn al-'Alqami visited him alone, which brought rumors that he supported Hulagu and contacted him by sending letters to him. According to Wassaf al-Hadra, who regarded Ibn al-'Alqami as an antagonist in his narration, he frequently sent his men to Hulagu and encouraged him to occupy Baghdad. After some time when the caliph and minister visited Hulagu, the caliph was murdered. However Ibn al-'Alqami became known in the city, so that people stayed his house to save their lives from the Mongols.

Re-appointment as the Minister

When Baghdad was completely occupied and the caliphate was overthrown, Hulagu appointed Ibn al-'Alqami as the minister again and he also chose Fakhr al-Din Damghani as the chief of administration and 'Ali Bahadur as the Sheriff of Baghdad, then he left the city. This time Ibn al-'Alqami held ministry until his death in Jumada II 656/June 1258.


Ibn al-'Alqami passed away in the 2nd of Jumada II 656/13th June 1258; Ibn Taqtaqi and Hindu Shah stated that he passed away in Jumada I of the same year. His body was buried in a Shi'ite cemetery in Baghdad.


Ibn al-'Alqami had some children including:

  • Sharaf al-Din Abu l-Qasim 'Ali who became the minister of Baghdad after his father.
  • 'Iz al-Din Abu l-Fadl Muhammad, a poet, writer and a scholar; some of his poems are available.


Ibn al-'Alqami was a capable and knowledgeable minister. Although some of Sunni historians criticized Ibn al-'Alqami's behavior in the fall of Baghdad, they admired his ability and knowledge in governance.

Ibn al-'Alqami was a moderate and supporter of tolerance against the Mongols. He managed to predict Abbasid inability to face the oppositions as he was aware of the number of and ability of the troops and Emirs of Abbasid caliphate. As a result, he consulted the caliph to apply a peaceful approach toward the oppositions in order to prevent mass bloodshed. The policy he proposed was a reason that historians regarded him as a Shi'ite follower. Some believed he planned to remove Sunni Abbasids in order to bring a branch of 'Alavis to take over the caliphate.

Some of historians including Minhaj used repulsive phrases about Ibn al-'Alqami, while some including Ibn al-Jawzi, who passed away before the fall of Baghdad, admired and praised Ibn al-'Alqami.

Shi'ite historians regarded Ibn al-'Alqami a prominent, religious and generous man. Putting historians' ideas about him aside, it should not be in doubt that Ibn al-'Alqami was a enthusiastic Shi'ite Muslim. When he achieved power, he put Friday prayer on hold to build a school for Shi'ites and he ordered to perform Friday prayers in that school.

Al-Saghani, a scholar of Lughat in that time, dedicated two of his books Majma' al-Bahrain and al-'Ibab al-Zakhir wa al-Libab al-Fakhir to Ibn al-'Alqami.

Relations with Ibn Tawus

Ibn al-'Alqami had a friendly relationship with Ibn Tawus, the famous Shi'ite scholar.

Saving Ibn Abi l-Hadid from the Mongols

In the event of fall of Baghdad, Ibn Abi al-Hadid and his brother, Al-Muwaffaq al-Din were captured by the Mongols. Ibn al-'Alqami put so much efforts and managed to save their lives.


  • The material for this article is mainly taken from محمد بن علقمی in Farsi WikiShi'a.