Al-Mansur al-'Abbasi

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Al-Mansur al-'Abbasi
Second 'Abbasid Caliph
قبرستان معلاة(قبرستان ابوطالب).jpg
Al-Ma'lat cemetery after it was demolished by Wahhabis in 1343/1925
Personal Information
Name 'Abd Allah b. Muhammad b. 'Ali b. Abd Allah b. 'Abbas
Teknonym Abu Ja'far
Epithet Al-Mansur (Al-Mansur al-Dawaniqi, Al-Mansur al-'Abbasi)
Birth 95/713-4
Death 158/774-5
Father Muhammad b. 'Ali b. 'Abd Allah
Mother Salama
Children Muhammad
Burial Place Al-Ma'lat Cemetery 21°26′05″N 39°49′43″E / 21.434778°N 39.828642°E / 21.434778; 39.828642
Dynasty 'Abbasid
Reign 136/753-4 to 158/774-5
Contemporary with Imam al-Sadiq (a)
Capital Baghdad
Activities Confronting Scientific Status of Imam al-Sadiq (a), Imprisonment of Descendants of Imam al-Hasan (a), Killing Abu Muslim, killing Imam al-Sadiq (a) by poison
Remnants Building Baghdad
Predecessor al-Saffah
Successor al-Mahdi al-'Abbasi

ʾAbū Jaʿfar ʿAbd Allah al-Manṣūr (Arabic: ابوجعفر عبدالله المنصور) known as al-Mansūr al-'Abbasī (Arabic: المنصور العباسي) and Al-Manṣūr al-Dawānīqī (Arabic: المنصور الدوانیقي) (ruled 136/753-4 to 158/774-5) was the second Abbasid caliph and a descendant of al-'Abbas b. 'Abd al-Muttalib. He was the first person who brought conflicts between Abbasids and Alids in the time of his reign. He also ordered to imprison a large number of descendants of Imam al-Hasan (a). He ruled in the time of Imamate of Imam al-Sadiq (a); according to Ibn Shahrashub, al-Mansur martyred Imam (a).

The uprising of al-Nafs al-Zakiyya and the uprising of Qatil Bakhamra took place in the time of al-Mansur's caliphate. Al-Mansur ordered to build the city Baghdad which is regarded among his significant actions.


Birth and Lineage

'Abd Allah b. Muhammad b. 'Ali b. Abd Allah b. al-'Abbas b. 'Abd al-Muttalib was born in 95/713-4 in Humayma.[1] His mother was a Berber female slave called Salama. The teknonym of 'Abd Allah was Abu Ja'far and his epithet was al-Mansur.[2]

Crown Prince

When Abbasid tried to usurp caliphate, Ibrahim (Organizer's of Abbasid and al-Mansur's brother) appointed al-Saffah, the younger brother of al-Mansur, as the crown prince; because al-Mansur was a child of a female slave,[3] he was treated secondary to al-Saffah. Later, al-Mansur was appointed as the crown prince. When al-Saffah became the caliph (ruler) of Muslims, he appointed his brother, al-Mansur, as the governor of al-Jazira (northern region of Iraq), Armenia and Azerbaijan.[4]


Al-Mansur was performing Hajj rituals in the time of al-Saffah's death. When he was informed of the news, he hurried back to Iraq and took control of power. Then he asked people to pledge allegiance to him.[5]

'Abbasi Dynasty
al-'Abbas b. 'Abd al-Muttalib
'Abd Allah b. al-'Abbas
'Ali b. 'Abd Allah
Muhammad b. 'Ali
Ibrahim al-Imam
(r. 132/749-50 - 136/753-54)
(r. 136/753-54 - 158/775)
(r. 158/775 - 169/785-86)
(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)
(r. 198/813-14 - 218/833)
(r. 218/833 - 227/841-42)
(r. 227/841-42 - 232/846-47)
(r. 232/846-47 - 247/861-62)
(r. 255/869 - 256/870)
(r. 247/861-62 - 248/862)
(r. 251/865 - 255/869)
(r. 256/870 - 279/892-93)
(r. 248/862 - 251/865)


  • Stinginess: Al-Mansur was a stingy and narrow-minded man who questioned his agents and representatives for small amounts of money. As a result, he was known as al-Dawaniqi[8] (Daniq means a very small of money) [9]. It is said when 'Abd al-Malik b. Marwan built al-Aqsa mosque, he covered the doors with gold and silver, however, when al-Mansur al-Dawaniqi intended to repair the mosque, he ordered to take out the gold and silver from doors and mint coins with them.[10]

Political and Social Situations

The political and social situation in the time of al-Mansur al-Dawaniqi was massively influenced by cultural interactions and contacts between Arabs and conquered territories including Iran and Rome. Iranian culture was the dominant culture and their political structures were changed similar to Iranians' structure. Al-Mansur managed to suppress numerous uprisings and then he focused on stabilization of power. Similar to Sassanid kings, al-Mansur had complete power over all governors, ministers, judges and emirs.[11]

In the time of al-Mansur, social situation changed. As Arabs humiliated Mawalis (freed servants) and consequently the movement of Shu'ubiyya (rejecting the Arabs' superiority over other nations) started. National and social traditions revived in Abbasid era among government officials and people. Nowruz, Mehregan and other national ceremonies of Iranians along with poems and music brought the taste of Sassanid era back. Bureaucratic system of Sassanid era was transmitted to Abbasid era. Diwan al-rasail (letters) was revived in the framework of Arabic literature conveying Pahlavi literature mixed with Islamic notions. Even Abbasid caliphs were interested in listening to Pahlavi texts and aphorisms as well as Islamic teachings; especially al-Mansur.[12]


Imams Caliphs
Imam 'Ali (a)
(b.3 BH/600 - d.40/661)
Duration of Imamate: 11/632 - 40/661
Abu Bakr
'Umar b. Khattab
'Uthman b. 'Affan
Imam al-Hasan (a)
(b. 3/625 - d. 50/670)
Duration of Imamate: 40/661 - 50/670
Abu Bakr
'Umar b. Khattab
'Uthman b. 'Affan
Imam 'Ali (a)
Imam al-Husayn (a)
(b. 4/626 - d. 61/680)
Duration of Imamate: 50/670 - 61/680
Abu Bakr
'Umar b. Khattab
'Uthman b. 'Affan
Imam 'Ali (a)
Imam al-Hasan (a)
Yazid b. Mu'awiya
Imam al-Sajjad (a)
(b. 38/658 – d. 94/713)
Duration of Imamate: b. 61/680 – 94/713
Imam 'Ali
Imam al-Hasan (a)
Mu'awyia b. Yazid
Marwan b. Hakam
'Abd al-Malik b. Marwan
Walid b. 'Abd al-Malik
Imam al-Baqir (a)
(b. 57/677 – d. 114/733)
Duration of Imamate: 94/713 - 114/733
Mu'awyia b. Yazid
Marwan b. Hakam
'Abd al-Malik b. Marwan
Walid b. 'Abd al-Malik
Sulayman b. 'Abd al-Malik
'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz
Yazid b. 'Abd al-Malik
Hisham b. 'Abd al-Malik
Imam al-Sadiq (a)
(b. 83/704 – d. 148/765)
Duration of Imamate: 114/733 - 148/765
'Abd al-Malik b. Marwan
Walid b. 'Abd al-Malik
Sulayman b. 'Abd al-Malik
'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz
Yazid b. 'Abd al-Malik
Hisham b. 'Abd al-Malik
Walid b. Yazid
Walid b. 'Abd al-Malik
Ibrahim b. Walid
Marwan b. Muhammad
Abu l-'Abbas al-Saffah
al-Mansur al-Dawaniqi
Imam al-Kazim (a)
(b. 128/745 - d. 183/799)
Duration of Imamate: 148/765 - 183/799
Marwan b. Muhammad
Abu l-'Abbas al-Saffah
al-Mansur al-Dawaniqi
al-Mahdi al-'Abbasi
al-Hadi al-'Abbasi
Harun al-Rashid
Imam al-Rida (a)
(b. 148/766 – d. 203/818)
Duration of Imamate: 183/799 - 203/818
Al-Mansur al-Dawaniqi
Mahdi al-'Abbasi
Hadi al-'Abbasi
Harun al-Rashid
Amin al-'Abbasi
Ma'mun al-'Abbasi
Imam al-Jawad (a)
(b. 195/811 - d. 220/835)
Duration of Imamate: 203/818 - 220/835
Amin al-'Abbasi
Ma'mun al-'Abbasi
al-Mu'tasam al-'Abbasi
Imam al-Hadi (a)
(b. 212/828 - d. 254/868)
Duration of Imamate: 220/835 - 254/868
Ma'mun al-'Abbasi
al-Mu'tasam al-'Abbasi
al-Wathiq bi Allah
al-Mutawakkil al-'Abbasi
al-Muntasir al-'Abbasi
al-Musta'in al-'Abbasi
al-Mu'tazz al-'Abbasi
Imam al-'Askari (a)
(b. 232/846 - d. 260/874)
Duration of Imamate: 254/835 - 260/874
al-Mutawakkil al-'Abbasi
al-Muntasir al-'Abbasi
al-Musta'in al-'Abbasi
al-Mu'tazz al-'Abbasi
al-Muhtadi al-'Abbasi
al-Mu'tamad al-'Abbasi
Imam al-Mahdi (a)
(b. 255/869 - alive)
Duration of Imamate: 260/874 - alive
al-Mu'tazz al-'Abbasi
al-Muhtadi al-'Abbasi
al-Mu'tamad al-'Abbasi
al-Mu'tadad al-'Abbasi
al-Muktafi al-'Abbasi
al-Muqtadir al-'Abbasi
al-Qahir al-'Abbasi
al-Radi al-'Abbasi

Treatment of Sunni Faqihs and Scholars

When al-Nafs al-Zakiyya launched an uprising in Medina, Malik b. Anas stated that oath of people of Medina to Abbasid caliph is Haram (forbidden) as it was taken by force. Abu Hanifa, Sufyan al-Thawri, al-A'mash and other faqihs of Kufa along with hadith scholars supported the uprising.

Al-Mansur recaptured Medina and suppressed Ibrahim later. Then he ordered to lash Malik b. Anas and he gave Abu Hanifa life sentence.[13] Later al-Mansur tried to convince Malik to join him in order to confront the influence of Imam al-Sadiq (a).

Confronting Scientific Status of Imam al-Sadiq (a)

As Imam al-Sadiq (a) became hugely influential among scientists, al-Mansur al-Dawaniqi tried to validate and admire the other scholars and influential figures of the time in order to humiliate Imam (a). Hence the spokesmen of Banu l-Abbas in Medina stated: "Nobody is allowed to issue fatwa in Islamic laws except for Malik b. Anas and Ibn Abi Dhi'b."[14] The caliph did his best to support and magnify Malik b. Anas to guide people toward him and away from Imam al-Sadiq (a).

Imprisonment of Descendants of Imam al-Hasan (a)

Al-Mansur al-Dawaniqi was the first man who brought conflicts between Abbasids and Alids in the time of his caliphate, while they had a close relationship before.[15]

Also al-Mansur ordered to arrest and imprison all the descendants of Imam al-Hasan (a), except for al-Nafs al-Zakiyya and Ibrahim (the sons of 'Abd Allah b. Mahd) who managed to hide. He ordered to shackle them bring them to al-Hayra and imprison them in a harsh situation.[16]

Killing Abu Muslim

Abu Muslim al-Khurasani challenged al-Mansur at times. They became rivals in the time of al-Saffah's caliphate. Abu Muslim's rule in Khorasan worried al-Mansur, then he decided to kill Abu Muslim in 137/754-5[17] which brought painful consequences for him as Abu Muslim was the political, military and religious leader of Khorasan. After the death of Abu Muslim, a number of uprisings took place to avenge his blood; they brought difficulties and problems for Abbasids.[18]

Building Baghdad

Building the city Baghdad is regarded as the most notable actions performed by al-Mansur al-Dawaniqi. Abbasids did not have a specific capital for thirteen years, and when al-Mansur built Baghdad, he chose it as the capital of Abbasid dynasty. He had political, military, critical and climate-related motivations in building the city.[19]

Uprisings against Him

The Uprising of His Uncle, 'Abd Allah

When al-Mansur came to power, his uncle 'Abd Allah tried to usurp the power and caliphate as well. As he made huge efforts in stabilizing the bases of Abbasid caliphate, he expected to become the caliph after al-Saffah. He was ordered by al-Saffah to prepare a dominant army and attack Syria (Sham), but when he was informed of the demise of al-Saffah, he immediately forced his close friends and army commanders to testify that al-Saffah has appointed him as the Crown Prince.[20] Then people of Syria pleadged allegiance to him. Al-Mansur acknowledged potential danger of 'Abd Allah, then he sent Abu Muslim to fight against him; although he held grudges against Abu Muslim as well. Therefore, he would get rid of one of them at least. Abu Muslim applied his political and military talent and defeated 'Abd Allah. He fled to Basra and finally was killed in prison by al-Mansur.

Uprising of Al-Nafs al-Zakiyya

The uprising of Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah al-Hasan, known as al-Nafs al-Zakiyya was the first rise of Alids against Banu l-Abbas. When Banu l-Abbas broke their oath in handing power over to al-Nafs al-Zakiyya (a descendant of Imam al-Hasan (a) who introduced himself as the promised Mahdi and people pledged allegiance with him), he launched an uprising in Medina against al-Mansur, the Abbasid caliph. He was finally killed along with his supporters.

Uprising of Ibrahim b. 'Abd Allah

The uprising of Ibrahim b. 'Abd Allah was the second rebellion against Banu l-Abbas. Ibrahim b. 'Abd Allah was a descendant of Imam al-Hasan (a); he launched the uprising after his brother al-Nafs al-Zakiyya in Basra. A large number of supporters of Zaydi, Mu'tazila and a few number of well-known faqihs attended the uprising which failed eventually. Ibrahim was killed in Bakhmara region near Kufa in 145/762-3.

Uprising of Sinbad

The rebellion of Sinbad was among the first actions after the death of Abu Muslim. Taking the revenge of Abu Muslim was only an excuse for his rise. He tried to misuse national and religious feelings of different groups to overthrow the dominance of Arabs and Islam in defeating Banu l-Abbas. He was outpowered in a battle against the supporters of al-Mansur and was beheaded; his head was sent to al-Mansur as a gift.

Uprising of Ishaq al-Turk

Also Ishaq al-Turk revolted against al-Mansur to avenge the blood of Abu Muslim. There are doubts on the lineage and originality of Ishaq though. It seems he supported Manichaeism and Zoroastrianism, similar to Sinbad. His revolt did not last long but it provided the situations for the uprising of Sepidjamegan who launched the main revolt seeking the revenge against the killers of Abu Muslim.

Movement of Rawandiyya

The movement of Rawandiyya is regarded amongst the most important movements formed after the death of Abu Muslim. Rawandis had mixed beliefs, although they apparently showed their support and respect toward al-Mansur, they made efforts to overthrow him as well. The majority of Rawandiyya's supporters were from the Great Khorasan. They planned to admire al-Mansur, earn his respect to deceive and kill him, just like al-Mansur treated Abu Muslim.


There were other uprisings in the time of al-Mansur as well, including the revolt of Ustadh Sis (who was a Magus, i.e. Zoroastrian, of Khorasan; he claimed that he was a Zoroastrian prophet) and the revolts of Kharijites which were all suppressed by the armies of al-Mansur.[21]

Treatment of Imam al-Sadiq (a)

Summoning Imam al-Sadiq (a)

The last years of Imam al-Sadiq's (a) life coincided with the rule of al-Mansur. Imam (a) was hugely influential as a spiritual figure among Banu Hashim. According to Asad Haydar in his book Imam al-Sadiq wa l-Madahib al-Arba'a, Imam's popularity was increasing all over the Islamic territories. Knowledgeable men and scholars often came to meet him and they held discussions and asked him their questions. The influence of Imam (a) concerned al-Mansur. As a result, he summoned Imam (a) to Baghdad to keep a close eye on him; he even thought of martyring Imam (a).[22] Al-Sayyid b. Tawus stated in his book Muhaj al-da'awat wa manhaj al-'ibadat that al-Mansur regularly summoned Imam al-Sadiq (a) to Baghdad and Kufa.[23]

Imam al-Sadiq (a) usually refused to go to al-Mansur's palace, expect on some occasions; al-Mansur mostly complained about rejections he got from Imam (a).[24] When he complained to Imam (a) about his infrequent visits to his palace, Imam replied: "I have done nothing to be afraid of you, and your deeds in this world do not make me optimistic about your situation in the Hereafter. Your current situation is nothing delightful to congratulate you; you do not regard it a misery to offer my condolences to you; then why should I come to visit you?"[25]

Martyrdom of Imam al-Sadiq (a)

Al-Mansur held grudges against Alids and tried very hard to keep a close eye on Imam al-Sadiq (a); he did not let Imam (a) to live freely. On the other hand, Imam (a), just like his fathers, openly considered himself as the Imam of Muslims and believed others have usurped the power by force. It brought dangers to al-Mansur. Then he was looking for the right time to martyr Imam (a).

According to sources, al-Mansur considered Imam al-Sadiq (a) a major obstacle in his way and it is said he took an oath to kill Imam (a).[26] Eventually Imam al-Sadiq (a) was martyred on Shawwal 25, 148/December 14, 765 According to Ibn Shahrashub in al-Manaqib, Imam (a) was poisoned by al-Mansur.[27]


Al-Mansur died on the way to Mecca in 158/775 because of indigestion, at the age of 68. He was buried in Al-Ma'lat cemetery in Mecca.[28]


  1. Suyūṭī, Tārīkh-i khulafā, p. 277.
  2. Suyūṭī, Tārīkh-i khulafā, p. 277; Ziriklī, al-Aʿlām, vol. 4, p. 117.
  3. Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 5, p. 382.
  4. Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 358.
  5. Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 358.
  6. Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 10, p. 122.
  7. Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 10, p. 122.
  8. Dīyārbakrī, Tārīkh al-khamīs, vol. 2, p. 324.
  9. Dawaniq is the plural form of "Daniq" (Arabic: دانِق). Daniq equals a sixth of dirham, thus it would be a very small amount of money.
  10. Ḥamīdī, Tārīkh-i Urshalīm, p. 183.
  11. Ḍayf Shuqī, Tārīkh al-adab al-ʿarabī, p. 21.
  12. Amānī Chāklī, Muqāyisa-yi janbahā-yi mukhtalif-i andarznāma-yi Ardshīr Sāsānī wa wasīyyatnāma-yi Maūṣur Abbāsī, p. 120.
  13. Jaʿfarī, Tashayyuʿ dar masīr-i tārīkh, p. 326.
  14. Ibn Khalkān, Wafayāt al-aʿyān, vol. 4, p. 135.
  15. Suyūṭī, Tārīkh-i khulafā, p. 317.
  16. Allāh Akbarī, Rābiṭa-yi ʿAlawiyān wa ʿAbbāsiyān, p. 22-23.
  17. Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 367-368.
  18. Ṭaqwūsh, Dawlat-i ʿAbbāsiyān, p. 46.
  19. Ṭaqwūsh, Dawlat-i ʿAbbāsiyān, p. 57.
  20. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-Ṭabarī, vol. 4, p. 377.
  21. Ṭaqwūsh, Dawlat-i ʿAbbāsiyān, p. 56.
  22. Asad Ḥaydar, al-Imām al-Ṣādiq wa al-madhāhib al-arbaʿa, vol. 5-6, p. 46-47.
  23. Ibn Ṭāwūs, Muhaj al-daʿawāt wa manhaj al-ʿibādāt, p. 184-215.
  24. Nūrī, Khātima al-mustadrak al-wasāʾil, vol. 12, p. 307.
  25. Irbilī, Kashf al-ghumma fī maʿrifat al-aʾimma, vol. 2, p. 740.
  26. Rāwandī, al-Kharāʾij wa l-jarāʾiḥ, vol. 2, p. 647; Shāmī, al-Durr al-naẓīm, p. 633.
  27. Ibn Shahrāshūb, Manāqib Āl Abī Ṭālib, vol. 4, p. 280.
  28. Khiḍrī, Tārīkh-i khilāfat-i ʿAbbāsī, p. 34; Ziriklī, al-Aʿlām, vol.4, p. 117.


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