Abbasid Caliphate at its height, 1560
|Capital|| Cairo (1409-1529)|
|Languages||Arabic, Greek, Farsi, Catalan|
|Religion|| Sunni Islam|
|•||Mamluks overthrown||1412 1409|
|•||Cloaked Jihad||1439-1528 (9 years)|
|•||Sixth Fitna||1594 - 1599|
|•||1430 est.||3.5 million|
|•||1530 est.||30 million|
|•||1580 est.||42 million|
The Abbasid Caliphate (Arabic, الخلافة العباسية al-Khilāfah al-‘Abbāsīyah) is theocratic nation located in North Africa and parts of the Middle East. The Abbasid Caliphate of Baghdad ruled the entire Middle East and most of North Africa during the Islamic Golden Age in the 8th-10th centuries. After initial Turkish invasions, however, the Caliph quickly lost all temporal power while retaining religious domination over Sunni Islam. After the destruction of Baghdad in 1258, the Abbasids in Cairo claimed the title of Caliph, until the eventually subverted the rule of the Mamluk Sultanate to re-establish the theocracy in 1412. After the Gurkani collapse in the Cloaked Jihad, the seat of the Caliphate was moved to Damascus
RestorationAfter Baghdad was destroyed in 1258, the last remaining branch of the Abbasid family was confirmed by the Mamluk Sultanate as the official head of Islam, starting with the Caliph Al-Mustansir II. The Caliphate lived on under the protection of the Mamluk Sultanate, but the opulent and feudal Mamluks kept the Caliph with no power in the government. After the invasion of Tamerlane at the end of the 14th century, however, the ensuing anarchy in the nation allowed the Abbasid family to assume more de-facto authority in and around Cairo.
During the Jaffarid coup in 1407, Caliph Al-M'utadid was instrumental to help overthrow Jaffar and put Izz Al-Din in power. In the process of doing so, the Caliph assumed more power throughout Egypt, both in charismatic respect among the populace and de facto rule over areas with Arab Muslims in rebellion. In 1409, with Izz Al-Din dead and Egypt erupting in anarchy, the Mamluk nobility was forced to cede power to the Caliph as Sultan. While deploying his own Arab military to pacify the warlords and reunite Egypt, Al-M'utadid assumed more control over the economy and finances of the Mamluk nobility, especially using his new secret army of the Kilab Al-Rub.
In 1411, Al-M'utadid declared jihad against the Turkic people in general, and utilized the Kilab Al-Rub to seek out and purge the Mamluks from Egypt. By 1412, almost half a million peasants and nobles of Turkish origin were deported from Egypt, mostly to the Timurid Sultanate. In 1414, the remaining Mamluk Emirs gathered forces for a general rebellion of Turks in Syria, and managed to capture both Mari and Aleppo. A few months later, Al-M'utadid raised an expedition to invade Syria and meat the Mamluks at the Battle of Tizrah, crushing the rebellion.
Caliph Al-M'utadid, along with the Abbasid court of that generation, had a seething hatred for Turks and Mamluks specifically, based on the memories of how Mamluk rule destroyed Egypt and Syria in general. Most of the laws and rulings during the early Abbasid period revolved around this prejudice.
Rebuilding the NationAl-M'utadid is generally known as the father of the restored Caliphate. Not only did he succeed in overthrowing the Mamluks and invested power to the religious elite, but also rebuilt the nation itself. As the nation of Egypt was completely thrown into chaos and anarchy after the invasions of Tamerlane, Al-M'utadid undertook the task to rebuild the nation from the ground up.
In the early phase of his reign, Al-M'utadid focused on rebuilding the economy with a new currency and reformed 'Iqta system. In international economy, the Caliph sent the explorer Mahmud Ibn Tulun to re-establish the Silk Road, which he accomplished from 1416-1422. He also signed the Compact of Iskenderun to join the economic system under the Gurkani Sultanate in 1421. Aside from silver and gold mined in Upper Egypt, most of this economy was based on slavery taken from Africa. Slaves of Turkic origin, being so similar to the Mamluks, were forbidden to be bought or sold starting in 1415. Ali Al-Aswed also visited the Caliphate from Mogadishu in 1418. An attempted mission was sent by Khalid As-Sagheer to Benin in 1417, but all trade were diverted from the nation after Benin converted to Kuzir .
In spite of his draconian laws and cruel treatment of the Turks, Al-M'utadid was also a great patron of literature and philosophy, starting with the reconstruction of the Library of Alexandria. It was during this time that the Three Traditional Treasures of Egypt were uncovered and added to the symbols of governance. The Ulema, or Council of Senior scholars were re-established in 1414, and at that same time Al-M'utadid established the full ecclesiastical and secular administration used throughout the Caliphate's history. It's this ecclesiastical structure that best outlived both Al-M'utadid and the Abbasids in general. Unfortunately, during his reign Al-M'utadid failed to get any other Muslim nation to accept these reforms, particularly with political pressure from the more powerful Gurkani Sultanate.
Initial WarsAlong with the Kilab Al-Rub, Al-M'utadid constructed an entirely new military in his early reign. The greatest use of this new model army was the campaign known as the Reclamation of North Africa. After the Hafsid Sultanate, an old ally of Egypt, fell into decline after the North African Crusade in 1407, Al-M'utadid felt necessary to annex the nation and spread the Caliphate across the Berber people. Tunis was conquered under Marwan Ibn Zayid in 1417, ending the Hafsid dynasty and establishing the Zayid dynasty to this day.
In 1418, the Kingdoms of Aragon and Cyprus attempted an attack against Tunisia to expand their earlier colonies. The Caliphate responded by not only stopping these invasions, but quickly invading Algiers and supporting the native Berber people to oust the Spanish rule. This was the first time the Caliphate invaded a Christain nation, and indeed much of the military were hesitant to attack until a speech by Ibn Zayid urged them on. Finally, in 1420 Marwan led a full invasion of Cyprus with 20,000 troops to fist take Framagustra, then besiege Nicosia. Prince James of Cyprus fled from the island into exile in Aragon.
The Reclamation of North Africa first put the Caliphate on the map, and increased its notoriety across the western world. As said by King Alfonso V of Aragon, "Prepare the rest of Mediterranean Christendom for a Crusade on the alarmingly expanding Abbasid Caliphate!" The Bank of Saint George in Genoa started trading with the Abbasids in 1421. In 1426, the Treaty of Tunis established a powerful alliance with France not seen since the Carolingian dynasty, providing a conduit of military and industrial technology from Europe. A mission from Ahmed Ibn Fadlan attempted to ally with the Boyardom of Russia in 1430, but this was again cut off from political pressure from the Gurkani .
The Ionian Crusade from 1419-1422 was started by the Ottoman Empire conquering the last remnant of the Byzantine Empire . However, the combined invasion of the Papal States with other Crusader states recaptured Constantinople in 1421, and thereafter held it under Catholic rule until it was liberated again by the Tsardom of Bulgaria .
Due to the defeat in the Ionian Crusade, Al-M'utadid pressed harsher laws within Egypt, particularly against the Coptic Christians who he felt were in league with the Crusaders. However, this would prove costly to Al-M'utadid both emotionally and diplomatically. In 1421, his daughter Aresh was found to be in adultery with her lover Hassan, and so both were put to death and their children illegitimized. Among the children of Aresh was Fatima, who had been married to the Gurkani Sultan Shahrukh since 1410. This almost created diplomatic incident against the far more powerful Persians, but it also prevented any of the Gurkani Sultans to assume the title of Caliph.
In 1430, a group of about 3,000 Coptics allied with remnant Turks in Upper Egypt raised up in revolt against Al-M'utadid's harsh rule. This was ostensibly caused by the martyrdom of St Maryam Nasr. After the rebels were brutally put down in the Siege of Herekropolis, all those who died in the conflict were canonized by the Coptic Church, although the Pope John XI denied involvement with the incident.
According to legend, Al-M'utadid died of a stroke when he nearly killed his younger son after losing to him in a chess match. He was laid to rest in 1431.
Al-Mustansir IIIOnly outliving his brother seven years, Al-Mustansir III is generally considered more of a transitioning period between the reigns of Al-M'utadid the founder and Al-Najm the Great. However, he is best remembered for the campaigns he organized to conquer east Africa and take full control over the Red Sea.
In general, Al-Mustansir relaxed the draconian laws and strict policies of the previous administration. However, the Coptic revolt left a scar on the Abbasid dynasty, forcing Al-Mustansir to see the Coptics as enemies of the state. An ulterior motive for this African campaign was to dominate the Red Sea. Trade with Mogdaishu was key to establishing trade in the Indian Ocean, but it was massively hampered by competition with other states in that region. Furthermore, the navy of the Abbasids at this stage was entirely focused on the Mediterranean with mostly trade ships outside of it.
Al-Mustansir also capitalized on the previous treaties with France and Italy to update the military. Cannons and other gunpowder weapons were first introduced, as well as a navy with the same technology of the Ottomans. He also transitioned the Kilab Al-Rub from a secret police to a military order. As the second Abbasid Caliph, he was also responsible for establishing traditions of the Caliphate succession.
In the African campaign, Al-Mustansir first invaded Alwah along the Nile, besieging the city of Dongola. The nine oligrarchs that ruled Alwah banded together to stop the invasion, but where crushed at Dongola in 1432. The invasion pressed further to attack Yemen, utilizing navy stationed at Jeddah, followed by a land invasion to besiege the capital San'a. Immediately after Yemen was conquered, the forces then crossed over to invade Somalia and besiege Zeila, conquering Adal in 1434. Over the next few years, further campaigns in Medri expanded these dominions around East Africa near Ethiopia. These campaigns were instrumental, not only in testing the modernized military of Al-Mustansir, but also helped the rising military campaign of Malik Al-Najm, the future Caliph.
As relations with the Coptic church subsided, Al-Mustansir opened up for ambassadors from other parts of Europe. His patience with these western nations was thin, however, and at one point in 1433 he dismissed all ambassadors from Egypt except for the French. After the Catholic and Orthodox churches temporarily merged, the Patriarch of Jerusalem held greater authority over the Orthodox churches.
After Al-Mustansir's death, the rising military career of Al-Najm allowed him to assume control as the next Caliph. However, according to many legends there was quite a bit more drama that led to Al-Najm assuming power, including a vision from Jibril (Gabriel) revealing Al-Najm's true origin. Al-Najm took up a passionate relationship with his wife Al-Zuhur, who was also the daughter of Al-Mustansir and thus his second cousin.
Al-Najm IAl-Najm Al-Akbar (literally, "the Great") is considered the greatest ruler of the restored Abbasid Caliphate, and rivals with Harun Al-Rashid as the greatest Abbasid ruler of all time. He was one of a few Caliphs in history to lead armies himself in battle, and the only Caliph in all of history to assume the honorific title "the Great". His various campaigns in the Middle East, Morocco, and Anatolia have often been compared to Alexander the Great, increasing the population of the Caliphate over ten fold and doubling its area. It was his administrative reforms that also introduced western philosophy and literature in the Middle East, and moved the capital to the more centralized location of Damascus.
Al-Najm has become something of a legendary hero, and many stories surrounding his origin and career are shrouded in mythological motifs. It was said he was born in 1403 at the appearance of a comet, but was orphaned at a young age by a raid of warlords in the Mamluk era. Al-Najm's early military career was born in the desert among nomadic raiders, until he joined the new military in the late reign of Al-M'utadid. Al-Najm was raised in a culture under Al-M'utadid which utterly hated and despised the Turkic empires, especially how Persia lorded over the Caliphate and kept them as subordinate nation.
Al-Najm started in 1439 with an alliance with the Ottoman Empire; an alliance henceforth known as "The Dynamic Duo". His coordinated attack began by attacking the city of Mosul, the main strategic center of the Jaylarid Sultanate. His cousin, Arpad Ibn Ismail, coordinated with the Ottoman Empire for their attack on Trebzond. Al-Najm also reached out in alliance with the Chagatai Khanate, recently in revolt from Persia's central Asian possessions. In response to previous overtures for help, the Tsardom of Russia also joined on the Abbasid side with an invasion of Georgia.
Al-Najm was based in Damascus during this campaign, and it was during this time the culture of the Abbasids shifted from Egypt-centered to Syrian-dominated. However, it also meant Al-Najm was to keep Egypt protected while he was on campaign. Khalid Ibn Ismail, Vizier of Egypt and future Viceroy of Africa, was put in charge of defending Egypt from possible western attack. Although the Compact of Iskenderun attempted to bind Europe in a defensive pact, only the Duchy of Naxos took the cue to attack the Caliphate by invading Cyprus. The subsequent Naxos-Abbasid war, contemporary to the Cloaked Jihad, the invasion was first thwarted by 3,000 troops sent from the Vizier, followed by a complete conquest of the nation. Duke John II was killed in the invasion, and his brother William assumed power in exile in Morea, until that was conquered by the Ottomans later on. This territory of Naxos would remain part of the Abbasid possessions for almost 200 years.
In response to this invasion, Sultan Zeeshan Beg converted the Persian Empire to Shia Islam of the Ziyadi branch, and coerced his allies across Asia to follow suit. Mansur Al-Nasir, leader of the Ziyadi in Yemen, was invited to come into Persia and was there proclaimed Caliph in Esfahan. This rejection of Sunni Islam spurned the invading force of Al-Najm to conquer Persia and bring them back into the true faith.
Domestically, Al-Najm administrated from his command in Damascus across the Caliphate. Western universities were build in both Syria and Egypt, and literary traditions in poetry and novels began there as well.
The Cloaked JihadIn 1523, four years into the war, Al-Najm finally crushed the Jaylarid Sultanate and invaded across Mesopotamia, parading into Baghdad in a white charger. By 1524, all of Mesopotamia was annexed, and Al-Najm turned north to invade Persia itself. In 1525, with success on the fronts of Ottomans, Russians, and Mongols simultaneously, Al-Najm's army crossed over the Zaragos mountains and besieged Tabriz. After Zeeshan Beg died in battle and was replaced with Sultan Tahmasp, the Gurkani brought the army back to the western front to meet Al-Najm at Esfahan. The battle was victorious for Al-Najm, but very costly, so he was able to establish de-facto peace until the conflict could be fully settled.
In 1528, the Treaty of Batman finally laid out an end to the war. Persia still existed with Iran and its eastern provinces, but even then it was very broken. The entire military hardware, including its navy was confiscated by the Abbasids and Ottomans. The treasury was split between the Ottomans, Abbasids, and on loan to Iran, which was also forced into a dynastic union with the Abbasid court. Even the books from the Library of Esfahan were confiscated to fill the House of Wisdom as Baghdad was reconstructed. The Compact of Beyrut was made in the same year to replace the Compact of Iskederun. Ziyadi Islam was removed from all the governments in Asia, and the new Caliph Al-Mutawakkil Al-Din was stripped of power and sent back to Yemen.
The sudden large influx of new population and territory caused Al-Najm to restructure the government of the Caliphate drastically. He introduced Viceroyalties in 1529, and moved the capital from Cairo to Damascus in 1531. In order to deal with the larger population of Shia Muslims (particularly of Aryan descent), Al-Najm introduced the Millet system from the Ottomans, as well as distributed the Aryans of Tabriz to various parts of the Middle East. He worked to rebuild Baghdad from the end of the war to 1532, where the new House of Wisdom was established. Subsequently, he used the funds stolen from the Persian treasury to establish the Bank of Cairo. He also started work on the Fatha Al-Farun in 1537, but this wasn't finished in his lifetime.
Other CampaignsFor many years after Castile had conquered Morocco in the North African Crusade, it (and the United Kingdom of Iberia that succeeded it) worked very hard to remove the Berber people of the nation and deport them into the Sultanate of Africa. In 1529, however, word of this massive group of refugees came to the attention of Al-Najm, and so he launched a western campaign against the Iberians. Initially his progress was slow, but Portugal under the House of Braganza decided to ally with the Kingdom of France in order to take this opportunity to overthrow the ruling House of Trastamara, which was ruling Iberia to that point. The resulting Franco-Iberian War (1530-1533) quickly allowed the Abbasids to conquer Morocco, and subsequent rule over Gibralter was an extra piece of bargaining when the Treaty of Tunis was eventually renewed.
After a massive Berber immigration of almost half a million people were restored to power in Morocco, the Catholic colonists were reduced to a minority in the nation. It was at that time, now in control over Morocco, that the Sultanate of Africa was granted independence as vassal to the Caliphate. Buildings its own navy on the Atlantic coast, Morocco dabbled in its own Atlantic voyages by Abu Rass (1533) and Ibn Tulun (1535). It was during these voyages that the Abu Rass Map was drawn up.
In yet another campaign against Europe, Al-Najm conquered both Rhodes and Crete in 1531. After Crete (renamed Krete) fell in the Siege of Candia, the Knights Hospitaller were sent into exile to Italy , and thereafter the New World. As one last military expedition before retirement, 600 men were sent into the Nejd region of Arabia to subjugate the Bedouin people.
Later ReignAl-Najm worked to restore relations with the Coptic Church, and Christians in the Middle East in general. The Tsardom of Bulgaria came to meet the Caliphate as equals in 1531, and in 1534 the Patriarch of Vasiligrad was given primacy over the Pentarchy in Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria. This personal meeting between the Tsar and Caliph was met with tremendous celebration, showcasing various arts from across the Muslim world. Al-Najm had a similar show of opulence in 1532 for the celebration of his 50th birthday.
Al-Najm also worked to patronize literature and poetry. The printing press was first introduced to the Middle East in 1536, and immediately spread literature across the Muslim world. A complete history of the Abbasid Dynasty was created in 1536, but this skipped over the years from 1440-1520. Plays started to be written in the Caliphate starting in 1538.
By the time of Al-Najm's reign, the Ulema had been completely run by the M'utazila branch of Sunni Islam, albeit in liberal and conservative factions. Ismail Ibn Yakub, an immigrant from the Ottoman Empire, introduced Humanist philosophy to the Middle East, and this merged quickly with the liberal faction of the Ulema. Ibn Yakub's most famous work, Lamakan, was not only instrumental in spreading his philosophy, but was also the first book set in the New World, published in 1538. As Ibn Yakub's enemies in the Ulema were more vocal against him, the philosopher began traveling itinerately around the universities in Mesopotamia and the Levant, spreading his doctrine.
Ibn Yakub was greatly beloved by the common people, including the Caliph himself, but hated by the conservatives in the Ulema. Eventually, as his ideas of uniting Shia and Sunni had gone too far, the Ulema had him arrested in Jamnia and brought to Damascus, where he was imprisoned on false charges. Al-Najm could not deny this action for fear of schism within the council. However, Ibn Yakub was more famous imprisoned than free, and many people of the younger generation stood up for him in jail. Unfortunately, the philosopher ultimately died in prison in 1544. Al-Najm remarked upon his death, "I would gladly have lost twenty ships than lose this great scholar".
With Persia defeated, Al-Najm worked to spread the international prestige and power of the Caliphate further into Asia. Alliances over the Silk road with Bengal and Bahamani created a hegemony over the Muslim nations of South Asia in 1533. In 1540, Al-Najm's eldest son Amr married the successor of Swahili , Zahur Al-Aswed, forming a dynastic union there as well. He also worked to improve the military beyond the capacity of his neighbors, introducing the Great Bombard 1542.
A number of great discoveries happened towards the end of Al-Najm's reign. The work Fii Nijaam Khadeer led to the expulsion of Zoroastrians in 1543, as divination and astrology was condemned in exchange of new astronomy. In 1545, Al-Babil's monumental work Fii Al-Tariq ila A'lum was the foundation for the scientific method. Finally, in 1546 a group of antiquarians from Alexandria uncovered the Rosetta Stone, although they did not realize its significance yet. Al-Najm died peacefully in November that year, being 63 years old.
Expansion East and SouthAl-Najm the Great was buried in a grand mausoleum in Damascus, and mourned for 90 days. In one of the smoothest transitions of power in Abbasid history, Al-Rahim I is known for a variety of acts, somewhat controversial, that both brought the Caliphate to the height of its power and set it on the path to collapse. Patronized the most pivotal point of the Muslim Renaissance, but also organized large-scale wars in Africa and Asia. In general, Al-Rahim is best remembered for his great wisdom and piety.
Al-Rahim felt that Europe was thoroughly defeated with the campaigns of Al-Najm, and so had little interest in the Mediterranean. Instead, he took up a greater dream of expanding Abbasid influence across the Indian Ocean in Asia and Africa. Many thousands of troops were sent south along the Red Sea in the late 1540s, annexing the nations of Yemen, Adal, and Alwah which had previously gained independence as vassals. Oman at this time started encroaching on Yemen under the rule of Sultan Numair, attempting to plant a colony in Aden in 1547. Although the Ulema negotiated with the Sultan to withdraw this claim, the Caliph remained on very bad terms, and in 1557 Al-Rahim supported Swahili over Oman in Al-Numair's War.
After securing the Red Sea, Al-Rahim focused on expanding the Indian navy and trade as far as possible. The Arab-Indian Company administrated by the Bank of Cairo quickly gained support from all of Gurkani's former allies. The Sultanate of Persia itself became closer allies of the Caliphate in an agreement to rebuild their navy. To seek further trade relations, the explorer Ibn Tulun traveled by sea through Indonesia to establish trade with both Korea and China from 1549-1551, becoming superior to the overland trade route in the Silk Road.
To support this increased influence in the Indian Ocean, Al-Rahim relinquished the entire Mediterranean fleet and gave it to Morocco, on the provision the navy is used to spread Islam to the Atlantic Ocean. Morocco had other ulterior motives for this, however, and secretly engaged in a career of piracy to disrupt trade in the Mediterranean. Their initial attempt was crushed by Sicily in the Barbary War of 1547, but in the 1550s a golden age of piracy was felt by the acts of the pirate king, Abdullah Barbossa.
Arab-Ethiopian WarAl-Rahim considered the greatest challenge in dominating east Africa to lie in the Empire of Ethiopia. For a long time, Ethiopia had remained the largest stronghold of the Coptic Church, but the Arab-Ethiopian War would end that from 1550-1554. The campaign against the Ethiopian mountains was very long an arduous, leading to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of soldiers on both sides. Ethiopia itself had nowhere to retreat or the resources to keep up the war, so it eventually was annexed after the Siege of Gojjan in 1554. It was at this time the Ulema added the title of Imbrator Ifriqiya (Emperor of Africa) to the titles of the Caliph. After the conquest, Al-Rahim worked to colonize the region with immigration from Egypt and the Middle East, as well as constructing various cities. The Solomonic Dynasty, being related to the Prophets of Islam, was kept unmolested but deposed from power. However, over the decades the Amharic people of Ethiopia would also greatly influence Egypt, as the population had no restriction on their mobility.
The effects of the Arab-Ethiopian War impacted the homeland the most, however. The Coptic church and other Egyptian Christians condemned these actions in Africa, but far more significant was a large youth movement from Syriac Arabs, fueled by the Humanist philosophy of Ibn Yakub and others of the previous generation. The main complaint of this movement, inspired by the blood shed in Ethiopia, was how the Caliph makes unilateral decisions from hereditary rule, when Islam should be run by a council of wise scholars. The Ottoman Empire, hoping to influence the government of the Caliphate, sent the scholar Mehmed Hassan to propagate this philosophy, and quickly he became a strong leader in the movement. In 1553, he published the "Hassanian Theses" that spelled out how the Ulema needs a proper system of election.
After the war concluded in 1555, while the Oromo campaign continued, the epic poem Tides of Blood circulated in the Caliphate, revealing more of the horrific conditions perpetrated in the war. As the Humanist influence reached its climax in 1556, the Caliph himself came out to their support, and proceeded to draft the Tables of Government. Many people marvel at this act of willingly relinquishing power, but it should be noted that the Ulema had been growing in its influence and expanse ever since the death of Al-Najm the Great .
Later ReignAfter the Tables of Government were established, Mehmed Hassan was elected the first Grand Vizier in 1557. Hassan immediately began making religious edicts of his own for the Ulema. First, in reaction to the growing Druze community in Syria subsequent to the discovery of Akhetaten, he fully condemned any belief of re-incarnation in 1558. Second, with the rising movement of art and sculpture in the Caliphate on Qurranic scenes, Hassan permitted the depiction of Muhammad with special authorization of the Ulema. Many people came to Al-Rahim, asking how he lets other people make these doctrinal decisions, to which the Caliph made his famous quote "the foolishness of one man is outweighed by the wisdom of many".
Al-Rahim was the greatest patron of arts in the Caliphate's history, and saw to the complete change from medieval to Renaissance art in the Middle East. The citadel of Damascus was abandoned in favor of a modern palace, the Qaseer Al-Rahim from 1549-1551. Realistic portraiture was adopted in 1550, and gradually improved over the next decades leading up to the most famous work of art, The Revelation of Muhammad in 1565. After the palace was built, Al-Rahim also constructed the Grand Mosque of Antioch from 1552-1554, and other Grand Mosques afterward. One of the most beautiful cities constructed was the new regional capital of Ethiopia, Beit Dawud, which was colloquially called "Madinah Jamil". In addition, it was during Al-Rahim's reign that the first authorized version of the Qur'an was printed.
Great works of science and history were also supported. With the discovery of the Rosetta Stone, hieroglyphs were translated in Alexandria until 1549. Throughout the 1550s, this information was used to uncover many lost tombs and other monuments of ancient Egyptian history, leading to a wealth of new understanding of that period. In 1566, an entire history of Egypt was compiled, which contributed to the Annals of the World published in 1568. Al-Babil's career continued with the invention of calculus, optics, and early modern chemistry, until his death in 1553. After that point, many other scholars in the House of Wisdom continued to expand on their ideas of chemistry and anatomy.
Later events in Al-Rahim's reign saw the growth of international influence over the world. The breakup of Majapihut allowed the Caliphate to expand its influence over the successor states of Sumatra and Sunda. The Kingdom of the Kongo changed to the Sultanate of Zayiyr when it converted to Islam in 1563. The Kingdom of Tali was influenced by trade as a strong Muslim presence in East Asia. Finally, the Ottoman Empire itself submitted as a vassal in 1565, being yet another Turkic state to fall under Abbasid control.
Throughout this time period, the Caliphate stood eternally at odds against the powerful alliance of Orthodox states known as the Most Holy League, consisting of Bulgaria , Poland, Russia, Kiev, and Georgia. This nearly erupted into war when the Principality of Kiev attacked the Khanate of Crimea in 1568. This did lead to the brief and inconclusive Russo-Turkic war, which ended when neither Bulgaria nor the Caliphate wanted this conflict.
This period also saw a great economic threat to the Caliphate as well. The Maharaja of Aryavarta had overthrown the Delhi Sultanate completely, and proceeded to invade Bengal. Al-Rahim managed to stop this conquest in 1560, thus starting the long Hindu-Bengal Wars for many decades after.
Al-Mahdi IIAl-Mahdi's reign was relatively brief, but it saw the greatest spiritual and philosophical growth of the entire Abbasid history. Building on earlier succession traditions, Al-Rahim groomed his cousin Ahmed Abdullah for many years to be wiser and more scholarly than himself. Especially after his famous speech before the Ulema at the Turko-Russian War, common people across the Caliphate anticipated his rule to usher in a new age of spiritual enlightenment. This is why he chose the name Al-Mahdi, the same as the messiah for the end of the world in Muslim tradition.
One of the most prominent features of this tenure was a liberal openness to religion. Al-Mahdi helped confirm the Pope of Alexandria, who had been marginalized in previous administrations, as well as grant the Coptics their own authority over education and religion in east Africa. Outside of the Middle East, Al-Mahdi also reached out to the Pope of Rome and offered to create a dialogue between Christianity and Islam, especially in relation to Jerusalem and the Holy Lands. An ulterior motive for this shift, however, was a means of pushing out the influence of Bulgaria over the Pentarchy, but instead granting greater control to the Franciscan Order of the Church of the Holy Seplucre. This was also instrumental of foreshadowing the Conference of Alexandria later on.
Al-Mahdi's enlightened attitude created a culture of philosophy that went beyond what he was even capable of. Many works of poetry during this time, known as the "Mahdi sonnets", exemplify and praise his reign. It was also during this time that Abd Al-Rahman, the great Humanist philosopher, published his great work Return to Lamakan as a response to Ibn Yakub.
Al-Mahdi also participated in some military activity as well, but in general he tried to be a pacifist. A naval expedition helped ensure the successor states of Majapihut in Sumatra remained in tact, leading to their colonization later. In Europe, the Ottoman Empire almost got involved with the War of Austrian Succession by invading Bulgaria, but this was not approved.
Al-Mahdi had a great hatred of slavery, and throughout his reign he fought every possible obstacle to try its abolition. He suspended the slave trade for a whole year starting in 1573, with the full intention of removing it altogether. Although the insurmountable economic burden prevented this from being accomplished, he did succeed at creating an anti-slavery culture that culminated in the Rashidun Caliphate. In March of 1574, Al-Mahdi was mysteriously assassinated by a Slavic servant while attending his garden in Damascus, and the ban on slavery was immediately lifted.
Decline and Fall
Struggle of SuccessionAfter the disillusionment caused by the assassination of Al-Mahdi, the Caliphate went into a sharp decline of social and political upheaval. A combination of famines, plague, and incompetent leadership led to the deaths of over two million people and leveled the local economy. Over time, the Ulema gradually gathered more power for itself until it was capable of toppling the Abbasid dynasty entirely. The resulting civil war known as the Sixth Fitna saw the destruction of the Abbasids and the rise of the Rashidun Caliphate.
The assassins of Al-Mahdi were murdered so quickly, no one was able to ascertain where they came from. The Caliphate in general turned very much inward, ending the inter-religious discussions of Al-Rahim and Al-Mahdi. However, the more autonomous Coptic Church continued to increase its influence in East Africa, as more Amharic people spread into Egypt. In addition, Al-Mahdi is remembered as a great prophet of his own time, and his works against the institution of slavery are taught in the universities of Syria and Mesooptamia.
In the 1570s, some advancements of music and literature happened in spite of the chaos. The viola and cello were invented, and based much new music for these instruments. In addition, the tombs of more obscure rulers such as King David and Alexander the Great were uncovered, and placed in appropriate museums.
Al-Mahdi's will had his cousin, Ahmed, to be Caliph under the guardianship of the Grand Vizier, as he was only 16 years old, and he assumed the name of Al-Rahim II. This worked well at first, but after Mehmed Hassan died in 1575 there arose quite a dispute over his succession. Abduallah Hassan, brother of Mehmed, insisted he should succeed as Vizier, but there existed a polarized faction those that supported the family of Hassan, and those who saw this as a dangerous hereditary rule. This latter faction, led by Yahya Al-Kitta, was also vehemently opposed to the humanist reforms of Mehmed Hassan in the last generation. As a compromise, the neutral scholar Khalid Al-Ubaid was made Grand Vizier instead, being unopposed to either side.
With the Caliph in minority and the Grand Vizier as indecisive, Abdullah Hassan assumed some de-facto power over the government during this time, and made some important political decisions. The successor states of Majapihut, as well as Gujarat were granted member ship in the Arab-India Company in 1574, and in 1577 Sumatra and Sunda were made vassals of the Caliphate. Further east, Abd Al-Rahman was sent as ambassador to Korea in return for their mission in 1576, and in 1578 the Treaty of Incheon helped establish formal relations with the nation, as well as begin their cultural exchange. Among the gifts sent to Korea was a signed portrait of Al-Rahim II. In 1579, this was honored to give aid to Korea during their war with Japan. In the west, threat of attack on two sides during the War of Austrian Succession allowed Bulgaria's islands in the Aegean to be annexed by the Emirate of Krete, in exchange for the use of mercenaries.
Weakening LeadershipIn 1577, as Abdullah's rise to power greatly disturbed Al-Rahim II, and so when Khalid Al-Ubaid died he appointed Yahya Al-Kitta to replace him, directly opposing Abdullah. The increased polarization of the Ulema was most evident in 1578, when it took nearly five months to appoint a new Emir of the Nejd region. In 1580, Al-Rahim II died unexpectedly, without any successor named. As no provision was named in the Tables of Government, for the first time the Ulema voted on Al-Rahim's successor. They ultimately picked his uncle Malik Hussein, who took the name Al-Mutawakkil IV.
Al-Mutawakkil suffered from paranoidal delusions, and utilized the Kilab Al-Rub to spy on members of the Ulema at all times. In 1581, a few hundred peasants revolted in the Nejd region, but this rebellion was quickly crushed by the Caliph. Still, he took this as a sign there are enemies everywhere, and began a purge of political rivals in the Ulema. Yahya Al-Kitta latched on this idea, and used it to purge out members of the humanist faction in the Ulema, including Abdullah Hassan. Abduallah and many of his followers managed to escape Syria and hide in the Ottoman Empire. During the ongoing Hindu-Bengal Wars, Al-Mutawakkil was known to send his political enemies to the front lines against the Indians, when the prisons of Syria were filling up. Ultimately, the Treaty of Baghdad was forced to relinquish Bengal to the growing Aryavarta empire , but in exchange several colonies of the Indian Ocean were obtained.
At the height of this terror in 1583, a plague of cholera broke out in Baghdad, and spread to various parts of Syria and Mesopotamia. It was reported at the worst point of this plague, 300 people were dying a day in Jerusalem. As soon as the plague started to subside later in the year, Al-Mutawakkil was assassinated by his servants, allowing Abdullah Hassan to return to Damascus from the Ottoman Empire. The new Caliph, Al-M'utadid III, deposed Yahya Al-Kitta from power and appointed Hassan at last as Grand Vizier.
As a Caliph, Al-M'utadid proved surprisingly charismatic. As a person, however, he was completely insane. Among his rants included talking to nautilus shells and treating them as oracles, and declaring war on all dogs in Damascus. This last act is infamously known as the Harb Al-Kilab. It is rumored that this was chosen on purpose, as Abdullah was hoping to find a Caliph he was able to control. In 1585, Al-M'utadid mysteriously fell out the window of the citadel of Damascus, and plunged to his death.
Rising Power of the UlemaIn a surprising turn of events, Abdullah pushed the Ulema to name the five-year-old grandson of Al-Mutawakkil as Caliph, who was given the name Al-Najm III. This at last was an administration where Abdullah had full control, and ultimately the Ulema in general. Unfortunately, the Ottoman Empire grew in its influence over the Caliphate greatly during this time, being as the ultimate patrons of the Hassan government itself.
With influence over philosophy from Persia, the Caliphate under Hassan adopted policies of wealth redistribution using the Levelism doctrines. This proved very costly, as a drought of the Nile in 1587 created a massive famine across the whole Middle East, threatening the lives of millions. At the worst of the famine in 1588, over a million people died of starvation, including the Grand Vizier Hassan. Social infrastructures were mostly in chaos, most notably in an Amharic revolt that captured Ismail in 1587. Abdul Hamid Al-Nasser, a rising sea captain, was able to crush this rebellion at the siege of Ismail. In the capital, the Ulema voted Abdullah Salih, son-in-law of Hassan, as the new Grand Vizier.
Asside from the Great Abbasid Famine, the late 1580s was relatively peaceful in the Calipahte, and it was still able to expand some influence. As the Most Holy League was falling apart after the War of Austrian Succession, Kiev approached the Caliphate for a peace agreement in exchange for having the mainland portion of Crimea. Russia agreed to a peace offer for exchanging Muslim Tartars with Christian Orthodox between their nations. Finally, Georgia agreed to become a full protectorate of the Caliphate for fear of being attacked by Russia.
Al-Najm III died in 1591 under highly unusual circumstances, and it is generally believed he was murdered by his uncle, Al-Assad, who became Caliph Al-Mansur II. Being a grown adult, Al-Mansur attempted to thwart the power of the Ulema by proposing amendments to the Tables of Government, granting the Caliph the same monocratic powers since the days of Al-Najm the Great . The Ulema, accustomed to their authority, refused this proposal, to the point the Grand Vizier Salih resigned and was replaced by his brother, Khalid Salih. Although the Ulema were intimidated to agree to these demands, Khalid was very charismatic with his resolve, and kept the council together in their stance against the Caliph.
The Sixth FitnaWhen this power struggle started causing revolts in Syria and Mesopotamia, Al-Mansur began seizing power by force. He arrested Abdullah Salih with a number of other respected scholars, and attempted to arrest the Ulema themselves. It was at this point that the Ulema wrote up the first draft of the Kitaab Kabir, the founding declaration of the Rashidun Caliphate. It nullified the authority of the Abbasid dynasty, and hereditary Caliphs in general, reaching back to the time of Muhammad for justification. When it seemed clear that the Ulema were raising a far larger military force in the city, Al-Mansur fled from Damascus to Cairo, beginning the Sixth Fitna in 1594.
Legend has it that Al-Ankabut, the Syrian folk hero of the late Mamluk dynasty, made a sudden re-appearance during this time to fight for the Ulema. Rather than using sheer cunning and swordsmanship as in the original legends, this Al-Ankabut relied on disguise and infiltration. Using these tricks, the hero rescued the captured scholars from their imprisonment. In addition, Al-Ankabut intercepted a letter from Mansur trying to recruit Georgia for his side, but instead managed to ask Georgia to come in on the Ulema's side.
Many other nations besides Georgia were involved as well. Mansur early on reached out to the Tsardom of Bulgaria for support to put down this rebellion. All other nations previously allied with the Abbasids came in on the Ulema's side, although many of them stayed neutral at first.
At one point, Al-Mansur II attempted to invade Levant by sea, but this was stopped by the captain Al-Nasser, who was quickly promoted to Admiral. Al-Nasser went on to crush the Abbasid navy itself, capturing the Islands of Cyprus, Krete, and Naxos. Eventually, the Ulema coalition forces managed to invade and conquer Lower Egypt, at which point Al-Mansur was assassinated by his guards and his son became Caliph Al-Mansur III. It was at that point that the Ulema formalized the formation of a new dynasty, using the Maktab Al-Qudds as an electoral college. After Upper Egypt was conquered without much struggle, Al-Mansur III quickly surrendered the Caliphate to Khalid Salih, who proclaimed the start of the Rashidun Caliphate.
Federal GovernmentThe Caliph is the executive and arbitrator of both secular and religious sectors in the state. This authority is strictly hereditary, and passed in patriarchal succession (meaning the eldest male of the family always inherits). The Caliph is also patriarch of the House of Abbas, a dynasty decedent from Abbas ibn Abd Al-Muttalib (568-653 AD), an uncle of Muhammad. For much of the Caliphate's history after the Mamluks were overthrown, the Caliphs acted more as monarchs with direct control over all matters judicial, military and religious, up until the adoption of the Tables of Government in 1550s. The Abbasid royal family holds a special place in the government by blood, and often favored to many public offices.
The Ulema, or more properly the "Council of Senior Scholars" is the second highest authority, acting as a legislative body under the Caliph. Originally organized as a group of reciters (those who had memorized the Qur'an) under the Old Rashidun Caliphate, the office was recreated by Al-M'utadid in 1413 as an official administration. However, for many years after that it mostly functioned as giving advice or theological insight to the Caliph, and individual offices were haphazardly appointed at the Caliph's pleasure. After the Tables of Government were adopted in 1556, the Ulema gained both independence from the Caliph's control, and authority to legislate over the federal government.
The Grand Vizier is an office created after the Tables of Government, and was designed to be the leader or Prime Minister over the Ulema. As the Abbasid dynasty went through more incapable rulers in the late 16th century, the Grand Vizier rose in prominence to be a second executive after the Caliph, and by the 1590s had taken full responsibility over the military and domestic affairs. Al-Mansur II attempted to regain more power to the Abbasids later in that decade, but the resulting Sixth Fitna between Mansur and the Ulema ultimately destroyed the dynasty and led to the rise of the Rashidun Caliphate.
The Caliph, royal family, Ulema, and Vizier all reside in the capital city. The Beyt Talut is the public building where the Ulema and Vizier would convene, while Caliph and his family dwell in a private residence. Originally, the government was based in the Citidel of Cairo which M'utadid retained from the Mamluk dynasty. During Al-Najm 's campaigns in the Middle East, he found the city of Damascus a much more suitable residence and more centrally-located among the Arab population, and it was there he moved the capital after the Cloaked Jihad. The citadel was upgraded to a modern palace with the construction of the Qaser Al-Rahim.
It is fairly clear how much the Abbasid Caliphate adopted elements of government from the Mamluks, particularly in terms of administration. The system of Emirs, Sheikhs and deputy Sultans remained as local administration, but with much less authority and rarely with the ability to raise their own military. Although Al-Mu'tadid abolsihed the Sultanate of Egypt, he retained the title and it remained a permanent fixture of the Abbasid authority. Although the office of Caliph was passed in patriarchal succession, in some instances the Caliph was elected by the Ulema from among the Abbasid family similar to the Mamluk system.
After the conquests of Al-Najm the Great, much more population were concentrated around the Middle East than Egypt. As a result, an extra layer of administration known as Viceroys were established: the Viceroy of Mosul (the northern Middle East), the Viceroy of Basra (the southern Middle East), and the Viceroy of Egypt (all of Africa). The Viceroys retained greater responsibility in government, and could raise a sizable military in times of crisis.
Another means of dealing with the rising population was adopting the Ottoman Millet system. This system of government administrates over individual communities in local townships, giving almost autonomous authority to ethnic groups divided by religion, language and race. This assured each group felt satisfied by their own administration, but it also prevented different groups collaborating together against the government.
Laws and system of justice was largely unchanged from previous Egyptian dynasties, which were imposed in the Middle East after the Gurkani were forced back to Iran. Different forms of Sharia law that were adopted were up to the discretion of the Ulema, which depended on which theology was growing in prominence. Starting in the 1420s, a very harsh system of laws based on Hanbali theology was the source of some tragedy, and contributed to the Coptic revolt in 1430. By the time of Al-Najm the Great, this mostly fell out of use and was replaced with the more liberal Mutazila theology.
As previous Caliphates had always been theocratic institutions, there was very little room for a truly secular office. Even the Ulema were composed entirely of prominent clerics and theologians. In 1414, in the process of Al-M'utadid removing power from the nobility, he created a federal council for secular administration, known as the Shay Al-Nass (literally, "thing of the people"). The Shay Al-Nass were in charge of enforcing legislation and justice as directed by the Caliph and Ulema, as well as managing the treasury that was not personally owned by the Abbasids.
The Shay Al-Nass were known to take their job very seriously, and meticulously worked at all the logistics of the Caliphate through the conquests of Al-Najm the Great. However, during the reign of his successor, Al-Rahim, the Ulema assume more and more direct control over secular matters outside of the Shay Al-Nass. The first known instance of this was how the Ulema took direct command over the Oman-Swahili war in 1550.
Administration outside of the Caliphate's core territory was never systematic. After the Hafsids were overthrown in 1416, the Sultanate of Maghreb that replaced it was a nominally autonomous Sultanate under and in union with the Abbasid dynasty. However, it wasn't until 1534 when Morocco was conquered that Maghreb was released as a full vassal, and the largest vassal the Abbasids had at that time. In the 1570s, after numerous wars with Bulgaria and Russia pushed the Ottoman Empire to near collapse, they asked to become a vassal of the Caliphate. Although the Abbasids fixed the Ottoman economy and modernized its military, very little was ever done to integrate them under Arab rule. Anti-Turkish sentiment was still high after the Mamluk collapse, and it was much more convenient to keep Anatolia as a source of resources and a buffer from Europe.
After Majapihut collapsed in the 1570s, the Caliphate saw an opportunity to create a modest colonial empire by vassalizing Sumatra and Sunda. However, due to the importance of East Asian trade these vassals consumed more money than given as tributary, as the Indonesian vassals were placed under a generous salary system designed by Mehmed Hassan.
EcclesiasticalAt the same time Al-M'utadid created Shay Al-Nass to oversee secular matters, a second ecclesiastical office was also created, known as the Maktab Al-Qudds. While the Ulema was seen as a federal office over both secular and religious matters, the Maktab Al-Qudds was designed to be the highest office for religious appeal. In addition, it is responsible for managing religious hierarchy and appointments of lower clerical offices. A secondary responsibility of the Maktab Al-Qudds was enforcing piety and rooting out heresy from the state. As such, the most prominent time for the Maktab Al-Qudds was the early-mid 15th century, as the ongoing Jihad against the Mamluk Turks justified their mass expulsion, and similar heresies later on such as the Druze resurgence in the 1550s.
Similar to the Shay Al-Nass, the Ulema later assumed more direct control over religious administration. In fact, the Tables of Government in 1556 nominally gave the Ulema more authority over religion than the Caliph, although this wasn't enforced until the rise of the Rashidun. This was said to be the design of Caliph Rahim, who sought the value of diverse theological opinions over a unilateral decision.
The Ulema also saw new restrictions with the Tables of Government. They were limited to a total of 72 individuals. Elected for life, each member is selected based on scholarly merit from the most prominant scholars in Syria and surrouding Mesopotamia. The preference to Asiatics in the Ulema contributed to the cultural rift between Egypt and Syria.
Under the Maktab Al-Qudds, Al-Mu'tadid designed a system of religious hierarchy to oversee Muslim communities across the entire Muslim world. The system was based in part on the Catholic church, placing an Ayatollah as leader of a large metropolitan area and a Kazir over a more local group of Mosques. These offices existed before the Abbasids, but until the 15th century they had no authority outside of pious respect. Although this was meant to apply to the whole House of Islam, until the Cloaked Jihad it was used mainly in Egypt and North Africa. After the Treaty of Batman in 1529, the ecclesiastical hierarchy extended to almost all Muslim nations except west Africa, which wasn't incorporated until the Rashidun Caliphate. These offices of Kazir and Ayatollah would report sequentially up to the Maktab Al-Qudds, who in tern report to the Ulema and the Caliph.
Individual enclaves of Muslim immigrants were also given religious administration, which was most notable in the sporadic Muslim communities in East Asia. In 1578, the Treaty of Inncheon established a permanent enclave of Arab merchants in the city of Busan in Korea .
List of Heads of State
The Abbasid Dynasty saw themselves as an unbroken continuation of both the Old Abbasid Caliphate and the Abbasid Caliphs of Cairo. For that reason, thy kept the same naming convention as previous rulers: each Caliph would adopt a regal name upon assuming office, which would derive from the same naming pool as previous Abbasids. If we believe his legendary biography, Al-Najm I is the only Caliph to assume a regal name identical to his personal name. The Grand Viziers, just like the subsequent Caliphs who derived from them, just had their personal name.
The full title of the Abbasid Caliph is:
أمير المؤمنين, وخادم الحرمين الشريفين، وخليفة الرصول محمد، وأب البيت عباس، وسلطان مصر، وموسول، وباسرا، وإمبراطور أفريقيا، وسلطان السلاطين المقدس
Which translates as "Commander of the Faithful, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, Sucessor of the Prophet Muhammad, Patriarch of the House of Abbas, Sultan of Egypt, Mosul, and Basra, Emperor of Africa, the Holy Sultan of Sultans"
|Regnal name||Personal name||Born||Reigned||Image|
|Al-Mu'tadid II||Muhammad Abu |
|1366 (Cairo)||1407-1431 (24 years)|
|Al-Mustansir III||Dawud Abu Bakr||1375 (Cairo)||1431-1438 (7 years)|
|Al-Najm I||Malik Abu Amr Al-Najm||1403 (Cairo)||1438-1466 (28 years)|
|Al-Najm II||Malik Abu Amr Al-Najm||1483 (Cairo)||1518-1546 (28 years)|
|Al-Rahim I||Muhammad Umar||1519 (Rashid)||1546-1571 (25 years)|
|Al-Mahdi II||Ahmed Abdullah||1530 (Antioch)||1571-1574 (3 years)|
|Al-Rahim II||Ahmed Mubarak||1558 (Damascus)||1574-1580 (6 years)|
|Al-Mutawakkil IV||Malik Hussein||1533 (Aleppo)||1580-1583 (3 years)|
|Al-Mu'tadid III||Abd Al-Muttalib Uthman||1537 (Aleppo)||1583-1585 (2 years)|
|Al-Najm III||Khalid Hassan||1580 (Damascus)||1585-1591 (6 years)|
|Al-Mansur II||Mahmud Al-Assad||1553 (Iskanderun)||1591-1597 (6 years)|
|A-Mansur III||Muhammad Al-Talib||1575 (Damascus)||1597-1599 (2 years)|
|Mehmed Hassan||Al-Rahim I||1557-1575 (18 years)|
|Khalid Al-Ubaid||Al-Rahim II||1575-1577 (2 years)|
|Yahya Al-Kitta||1577-1583 (6 years)|
|Abdullah Hassan||Al-Mu'tadid III||1583-1588 (5 years)|
|Abdullah Salih||none (elected)||1588-1592 (4 years)|
|Khalid Abdul Hamid Salih||1592-1598|
(6 years, thereafter Caliph)
MilitaryBecause the Mamluk government were so closely tied to their military, once they were overthrown the Abbasids had to recreate the military of Egypt from the ground up. While the Mamluks still existed, Abbasid allies in Syria organized a formidable land military under Ahmed Ibn Harb, which formed the basis of the later army. The Caliphate military was concentrated on land, and for its whole history the army was the most significant part of the military.
When the army was first organized in 1412, it was separated into three divisions: cavalry, infantry, and archery. Much of the specific units of the military were based initially on the Ottoman military, until the Abbasids surpassed their development. Hussars are used as light cavalry, known for their firecness and determination in battle, as well as their proficiancy wtih sabars. Sipahi are alternative heavier cavalry, wearing plate armor and more trained in lances and composite archery. As gunpowder was more introduced in the 16th century, both of these forms of cavalry evolved their styles of combat to utilize muskets and wheelock pistols, while the armor of the Sipahi were cocentrated on the chest to be bullet proof.
Infantry consists primarily of Yaya, or skirmishers, who are primarily recruited from nomadic peoples in Arabia. The main infantry, or Nefer, use armor and swords, and later on hand cannons, as methods of confrontation. Pikemen were also added in the late 15th century as anti-cavalry measures. At that same time, Dragoons were introduced as infantry trained in horsemanship, thus enabling quick travel from one battlefield to another before dismounting to fight.
The introduction of gunpowder was a gradual process that ultimately reshaped the military. The first truly western hand cannons were introduced in the 1420s after the Treaty of Tunis, when the Caliphate opened up mutual trade of technology with France. Al-Mustansir continued this policy of creating larger cannons and morters during his African campaigns, which he collectively placed under the archery division as relevant to sieges. However, this proved inneffective at first as such larger aparatus was slow and could not keep up with the cavarly of before. In the 1440s, Al-Najm the Great introduced the first fully independent division of the artilary, and in general Al-Najm is credited as a genius of gunpowder technology. The largest of these cannons was the Great Bombard, first invented in the early 16th century and added to the military late in Al-Najm's reign.
Kilab ArubThe Kilab Arub (translated "the Lord's Hounds") are the most elite class of warriors in the Caliphate military. Originally, they were a tribe of Ismaili Assassins living in Egypt since the Fatimid Caliphate. In the last days of the Mamluk Sultanate, Al-M'utadid organized them into a secret military to spy and secure posts around the Mamluk nobility, under the pretense of extra security. Starting in 1411, the Kilab Arub were used by the Caliph to hunt down and purge Egypt of any Turkish trace, even as far as invading private homes of Turkish immigrants.
After the purge was mostly complete in 1414, Al-M'utadid made sure to quickly transition their post from assassins to guardians of the roads to Mecca and Medina. This was an important step to ensure the now very powerful military force could not turn around and overthrow the new government. A generation later, in 1436, Al-Mustansir reorganized that class of the military to fully integrate them as a new warrior class.
The Kilab Arub are selected at a young age from the children of nobility, usually preferred to be a long line of prevoius Kilabs. The trainee is then put through a rigorous training course of not only strength and agility, but also piety and loyalty as well. Kilabs were legendary as expert sabar duelists, and were equipped with the most advanced firearms in the Caliphate's posession. With such a high standard of both skill and honor, there are only a few hundred Kilabs in the Caliphate at any one time. Before the rise of the Rashidun Caliphate, who restructured the Kilab Arub agian, the last major update to their equipment came in the reign of Al-Mahdi II.
In general, the Abbasid navy is a lesser priority than the army, and frequently it was downsized in order to accomodate the rest of the military. During defensive naval conflicts in the Mediterranean, most notably the Conquest of Naxos and the Barbary War, the Caliphate would rarely implement their own ships but rely mostly on the ships of their Mediterranean vassals, namely Cyprus and Maghreb.
Al-M'utadid expanded the Mediterranean navy from the Mamluk ships under Nasir Muhammad, reaching over 114 ships during the conquest of Cyprus in 1418. After the Reclamation of North Africa and subsequent loss in the Ionian Crusade, the Mediterranean navy was largely cannibalized in favor of a much stronger pressense in the Red Sea. Al-Mustansir's creation of the Red Sea fleet focused primarily on copying the Ottoman ships, and for the rest of the Abbasid history the navy would follow this same model. By the early 16th century, the Abbasid navy was on par with Turkey.
After the Cloaked Jihad in 1530, the Caliphate acquired all the modern ships used by the Gurkani Sultanate. Seeing the immediate potential to become on par with European navies, Al-Najm cannibalized the Red Sea fleet to construct a full Mediterranean for the second time, this time wtih fully modern ships similar to the Iberian Caravels. This was very successful for Al-Najm's conquests of Morocco, Rhodes and Krete, but it ultimately did not outlive him. In 1549, his sucessor Al-Rahim gave up almost the entire Mediterranean fleet to Morocco, which was instrumental in helping them found their own colonial empire in the Altantic. Instead, Al-Rahim focused on recreating the Red Sea fleet to trade across the Indian Ocean, which ultimately led to the colonial posessions in Indonesia in the 1570s.
To compensate for the periodic lack of navy, the Calipahte would specialize on anti-naval defenses. As early as 1423 the castles at Tunis, Damietta, and Haifa were massively rennovated to function more as fortresses than the medieval castles, mainly defending against naval cannons. Cannons and morters along the coast were also added as these were incorporated to the military.
Ships in the navy come in three classes: Frigates, Galleys, and smaller vessels. Frigates were the largest ships, taken directly from the technology of Caravels, although not many were used at one time. Galleys were medium ships, taking a middle road between speed, durability and fire power. Smaller vessels mainly consisted of transport bardges, for quick access to infantry divisions.
EconomyJust like the previous dynasties of Egypt, the Abbasid economy was agriculturally-based, and the heart of the Caliphate's source of income was tied to the agriculturally stability of Upper Egypt, Levant, and Syria. The 'Iqta semi-feudal system was also carried over, and implemented across the local secular administrations. As the Renaissance started to take off in the 1540s, many advancements to agriculture and industry were applied to the Middle East as well, most notably the Three-Field system and selective breeding.
Unlike the Mamluk system of economy, however, the Abbasids did not make attempts to control the economy or manage it directly. Instead, local economies based on private mercantilism was encouraged, and this only increased as the Millet system was implemented for local administration. Since the Mamluk economy had completely collapsed since the invasions of Tamerlane, Al-M'utadid recreated the economic system from the ground up, abolishing previous attempts at command economy. The silver dinar and gold fils were reset to their original values before inflation, and remains the basic currency of the Caliphate ever since.
After the Treaty of Batman in 1528, the Caliphate absorbed a massive amount of revenue from the treasury seized from Persia. Al-Najm originally intended this money to be used as the "African Fund", a reserve of the treasury to be used in attempt to purchase Morocco from Iberia. With the outbreak of the Franco-Iberian war, this plan was abandoned and instead the funds were used to create the Bank of Cairo. Used as a central hub of the Caliphate's internal economy, the Bank of Cairo was originally an administration under the federal government, until it became a private company in 1533. The status of banking in the Caliphate was very tentative process, however, as usury was not legalized until the day of Al-Najm's death in 1546.
Although most of the Abbasid economy is done through trade and agriculture, a lot is also developed domestically as well. Particularly after the conquest of Ethiopia, coffee and gold became major exports along with perfumes and finer goods.
SlavarySlavery is a large part of the Abbasid economy, and much of their exports revolved around the use of slaves. Previous Arab dynasties had two forms of slaves: Mamluks, or owned slaves of Turkish origin (commonly called white slaves), and Ghulam, or servants of African origin (commonly called black slaves). In 1415, after expelling the last Mamluk nobility from Egypt, Al-M'utadid placed a ban on all imports or use of Turkish slaves. This was not a form of emancipation, but rather a way of preventing any Turkic influence to affect Egypt in the future. Generations of anti-Turkic sentiment would keep this ban enforced. However, the market of black slaves continued throughout most of the dynasty, reaping large profits abroad in Persia, Turkey, and ultimately Korea.
As the religious elite gained more power in the 16th century, the early 1570s saw a movement among the nobility to ban slavery altogether, mostly following the charisma of Abduallah Ibn Rahim, the future Caliph Al-Mahdi II. This quickly ran into heavy friction against the mercantile elite, mostly in southern Arabia, and so the plan was abandoned after Al-Mahdi's assassination. However, the general sentiment in Syria and Mesopotamia against slavery continued to gain popularity all through the Rashidun Caliphate.
During this same time period, the economic system of Levelism began spreading from Persia to many scholars in Iraq, which emphasized on the abolition of poverty using liberal social policies. This grew in popularity until Levelism was fully implemented by the Ulema in 1586, but was immediately followed by the Great Abbasid Famine that devastated the nation. With so much of the economic system dependent on one location, a sudden drought of the Nile in 1587 caused massive shortages of food that ultimately killed almost 2 million people. After the famine subsided in 1589, the philosophy of Levelism disappeared from the public sphere.
Silk RoadThe early Abbasid Caliphs sought to establish the same international respect they had retained in the Old Abbasid Dynasty, and the main way that was implemented was overland trade. The Old Abbasids were famous for running the silk road through Transoxiana to support their greatest ally in the far east, the Tang Dynasty. During the Mongol Empire, the pax Mongolica established regular trans-asiatic contact between Europe and China, but more at the expense of the Muslim world during the Il-Khanate and Crusades. This all came to a complete interruption with the wars of Tamerlane cutting off the Silk Road trade at the end of the 14th century.
In 1416, the renowned explorer and statesman Mahmud Ibn Tulun traveled from the Caliphate as a Muslim Marco Polo, carefully documenting the lands of Central Asia from the nearby Gurkani Sultanate all the way to the court of Ming China. Once trade and alliance was established there, Tulun journeyed back by sea through the Bahamanid and Mogadishu Sultanates. This nominally re-established the Silk Road trade, but it was made official by the Caliphate joining the Compact of Iskenderun in 1421, which had been in use since 1410.
This process continued until Gurkani collapsed in the Cloaked Jihad. At that point, with the Middle East and Iran under Arab economic influence, the Compact of Iskenderun was abandoned in 1529 and replaced with the Compact of Beyrut . The Compact of Beyrut presented itself as a continuation of the Silk Road trade under the Compact of Iskenderun. However, every single article form the old compact was abandoned in the new version, seeing them as too restrictive to trade and too centralized around the Persian state. This revision was particularly important, as in the 16th century overland trade started to compete with the oversee trade reaching Asia by way of the Cape of Storms.
In the Compact of Beyrut, each member nation from either direction promises to agree to the terms of the compact, in addition to some extra tribute in exchange for higher privilege in the Silk Road trade. As the Caliphate declined in the late 16th century, so too did the use of the Compact as Indian Ocean trade surpassed it.
MediterraneanSimilar to the overland Silk Road trade with China, the Abbasids also worked towards rebuilding trade relations with European nations. In the Old Abbasid Caliphate, the Muslim world enjoyed a close alliance with the Carolingian Dynasty of the Frankish Empire. In light of this, King Louis XI of France opened trade with the Caliphate in 1426 by signing the Treaty of Tunis, which also ensured a close political and military alliance in exchange for selling the city of Collo in Algiers. John de Valois came to live in the Caliphate starting in 1430, building closer relations.
The growing economy of the Caliphate and Maghreb in the Mediterranean saw closer trade deals with other merchant powers. Investments were made in the Bank of Saint George in Genoa starting in 1421, and more were made in the Bank of Barcelona in Aragon starting in 1438. However, after the early failure of colonialism in the Reclamation of North Africa, and seeing the success of France to purchase Collo, many nations in Western Europe began coming to Cairo to offer buying large or resourceful tracks of land. In response to all these demands, Caliph Al-Mustansir dismissed all the foreign ministers from Egypt in 1433, except for the French, which lasted until his death in 1438.
After the collapse of Persia in the Cloaked Jihad, the major nations in Eastern Europe began seeing the Caliphate as equals in power. For this reason, Tsar Boris of Bulgaria signed a special trade agreement with Al-Najm the Great in 1529, which also included a military and political truce that lasted a surprisingly long time. This was not only instrumental to establish the main Mediterranean trade for both Bulgaria and the Caliphate, but also extended their European partners to other Orthodox nations, such as Russia and Georgia.
Piracy had been a fixture of the Barbary economy since the Hafsid dynasty in the early 15th century. After Maghreb was made a vassal of the Caliphate, this did not change. While Morocco and Sicily were the largest rivals for control of the Mediterranean in the 16th century, Barbary pirates would frequently harass Italian ships near the coast of Rome. The most famous of this time period being the career of Abdullah Barbarossa (1551-1555).
Altantic OceanAs it was during the Mamluk Sultanate, the Abbasids capitalized on the Trans-Saharan caravan route that connected the Middle East to sources of trade in West Africa. This would import additional sources of gold and ivory to the Caliphate in exchange for revenue and technology, before the Abbasids had the naval capacity to explore the Atlantic directly.
In the 1410s, during Al-M'utadid's economic reforms, the explorer Khalid As-Sagheer traversed the route to establish relations with Mali and Songhai, but the crux of his mission was in Benin. The Benin Empire had recently been reaching out to expand its knowledge from neighboring civilizations, and the Caliphate saw this as an opportunity to also expand the House of Islam. When this mission failed to establish relations with Benin, however, the Caliphate focused their trade more exclusively with Songhai and Mali. In the 1550s, as Al-Rahim was turning the focus of the Caliphate from Europe into Africa, the caravan trade was revived again.
After Morocco was conquered in the Franco-Iberian War, the Atlantic ports in North Africa were expanded to accommodate its own trade fleet. From 1533-1535, the Admirals Abu Rass and Ibn Tulun set out a series of explorations around the Atlantic Ocean. The most famous product of these explorations was the Abu Rass map, the first map of the Atlantic Ocean in recorded history.
Since the full formation of the Morroccan navy in 1549, it continues to create a local colonial empire for itself across the Atlantic Ocean. The most prosperous result of this exploration was establishing trade with the Kingdom of Kongo, which was named as Zayiyr by Berber merchants after it converted to Islam.
As very few Muslim dynasties had implemented a substantial navy, trade in the Indian Ocean through the Red Sea was largely unprecedented. However, the gradual expansion of navy and economy not only brought Abbasid trade to its apex, but also paved the way for the colonial empire of the Rashidun Caliphate.
Trade with Mogadishu was inherited from the Mamluks, and for a long time the trade state in the horn of Africa was the Caliphate's main conduit to the Indian Ocean. The Swahili explorer Ali Al-Aswed helped establish this relation when he personally visited the Caliph in 1418.
After the Coptic Revolt in 1430, Caliph Al-Mustansir took upon himself the ultimate goal of dominating African and Indian trade through the Red Sea. The subsequent conquests of the future Caliph Malik Al-Najm succeeded to subjugate all nations on the Red Sea short of Ethiopia, thus completely controlling that region. In 1547, these regions were completely annexed by Al-Rahim, in preparation for conquering Ethiopia and monopolizing the whole sea. Both Al-Najm and Al-Rahim worked to reconstruct the Fatha Al-Farun (Canal of the Pharaohs), as a way of more easily moving navies between the White and Red Seas starting in 1537. However, this wasn't ultimately completed until the beginning of the Rashidun.
The Arab-Indian Company was founded in 1548, and has since been the jurisdiction of the Bank of Cairo. The earlier Gurkani Sultanate worked well to establish international alliances with the most powerful Muslim nations of South Asia, namely the Sultanates of Delhi , Bahamani , Bengal , Swahili, and Oman. After Persia collapsed in the Cloaked Jihad, all of these former allies switched over to establish both trade and diplomacy with the Abbasids, which collectively was organized under the Arab-Indian Company. By the 1570s, this created almost a monopoly of trade across the Indian Ocean in general. Obligations to maintain this trade in the rise of the Hindu-Bengal Wars, however, was taxing. The conquest of Aryavarta over both Delhi and Bengal contributed to the rapid decline of the Abbasid economy and infrastructure.
In the 1550s, as trade in the Indian Ocean was being fully established, Mehmed Ibn Tulun explored by sea as far as China and Korea, extending Abbasid trade there as well. China had long accepted trade with the Caliphate by way of the Silk Road, and the sea route through the Arab-Indian company kept the same relationship. As Islam was spreading fast in southern China leading up to the creation of the Kingdom of Tali, influence in the region was very key to the Abbasids.
In addition, the spread of Catholicism and Iberian influence in Japan forced Korea to draw closer in relation to the Arabs, counteracting the influence of Europe with the Middle East. The Caliphate used this dependency to create very strong ties with Korea, and during their many wars with Japan managed to establish the permanent mercantile enclave of Busan in 1578. Late in his reign, Al-Rahim was known to keep a large harem of east Asian women imported from Korea and China.
Early PrintingOne of the first policies Al-M'utadid ever established was to reconstruct the Library of Alexandria. It is unknown exactly how or when the original library was destroyed, but that loss nonetheless had left an enormous gap in literary tradition for centuries. As soon as the new library was constructed, it became a secondary goal for most Caliphs after him to cherish and expand the collected knowledge at Alexandria. The peak of Alexandria's influence of literature was around the 1430s. After the Cloaked Jihad repossessed the region of Mesopotamia, the city of Baghdad and the House of Wisdom was fully restored to its glory from the Old Abbasid Dynasty. Since then, Baghdad and Alexandria remain as chief rivals for literary innovations and popularity. In some diplomacies such as the Treaty of Batman and the Compact of Beyrut, participating nations were required to donate books for the Libraries of Baghdad and Alexandria.
In spite of its theocratic roots, the Caliphate encouraged diverse philosophical opinions within Sunni Islam, and gradually took more liberal approaches to art, science, and history as they apply to Sharia law. Al-Najm started this policy by the establishment of western-style universities, namely in Beyrut, Damascus, Alexandria, and Tabriz. This would ultimately prove to be their undoing, as it was from this pool of progressive thinking that created the representative government in the form of the Rashidun Caliphate.
Al-M'utadid encouraged the copying of Greek and Latin works, but it wasn't until 1536 that the printing press was introduced to the Middle East. This was cause of theological controversy at first, as many scholars feared the rapid spread of literature could easily spread lies as well as truth. However, by 1540 these fears had mostly died out. The introduction of the printing press, along with the flood of literature acquired from Persia in the cloaked Jihad, caused a massive surge of Renaissance literature to appear in the Middle East. The first form of these were epic works of prose poetry and sonnets. These were shortly followed by works of drama and cycle plays, leading to the addition of a theater in the House of Wisdom. The final form of this literary surge was the introduction of proto-novels, mostly due to the writings of Ibn Yakub.
Later PrintingThe literary tradition of the Caliphate started out as propaganda for the new regime, but over time shifted towards a philosophy of moralism and humanism. Al-M'utadid encouraged many different Sunni theologies when the Ulema was first formed, but in the late 15th century many of them eventually phased out in favor of the Mu'tazila theology, one of the Neo-Platonic traditions of the Old Abbasid Dynasty. By the end of the Cloaked Jihad, the Ulema was entirely composed of Mu'tazila, but shortly after that it split between liberal and conservative factions. In the 1530s the liberal Mu'tazila, originally derived from Persian philosophy, merged into the Humanist philosophy imported from Europe.
This Arab Humanism was primarily led by the scholar Yahya Ibn Yakub, and was most popular among the younger generation. Arab Humanism holds to a belief that ultimate truth comes from God, but some levels of wisdom can be found in other religions with partial revelation, such as Judaism, Christianity, and Shia. It also holds an emphasis of theology being derived from collective faith of the common population, rather than handed down from an elite. Ibn Yakub continued to adhere to this philosophy even at the risk of his life until his execution in 1544.
After the Arab-Ethiopian War, the sudden rise of Humanists under the leadership of Mehmed Hassan eventually led to the Tables of Government reforming the Caliphate in 1556, as Caliph Al-Rahim was a proponent of Humanism himself. In the latter years of the Caliphate, the philosopher Abd Al-Rahman expanded this philosophy to create a more literal political ideology, forming the basis for the creation of the Rashidun Caliphate. The three philosophers of Ibn Yakub, Mehmed Hassan, and Abd Al-Rahman are seen as the three founding fathers of modern Arab Humanism.
One result of this emphasis on rational observance caused a persecution of ideas shrouded in superstition. In 1543, the Ulema voted to ban all divination and other forms of astrology, forcing mass persecution of Zoroastrians in the process.
A short list of great works of literature typical of the Abbasid Caliphate:
- The Itinerary of Ibn Tulun by Mehmed Ibn Tulun As-Sagheer (1422)
- La Makan by Yahya Ibn Yaqub (1537)
- Al-Najm Al-Mashriq by anonymous (1538)
- Romance of Al-Nu'uman and His Sons by Salman Al-Abbas (1540)
- The Katrynia Cycle by Marko Herekropoli (1541)
- The Al-Najm Authorized Qu'ran edited by the Council of Senior Scholars (1545)
- The Life and Adventures of Al-Ankabut by Maryam Al-Harb (1546)
- Hassanian Theses by Mehmed Hassan (1553)
- Tides of Blood by Ayyob Al-Rajul (1554)
- Darker Africa by Salah Ibn Tulun (1565)
- The Mahdiya Sonnets by anonymous (1572)
- The Book of Incheon by Dawud Ubaid (1578)
- Return to Lamakan by Abd Al-Rahman (1579)
- The Religions of China and India by Dawud Al-Baghdadi (1585)
- The Kitab Al-Kabeer by Abdullah Salih (1593)
AntiquarianismThe Abbasids justified their rule through their historical connection to the Old Abbasid Dynasty, and just like the Old Abbasids they held a fascination for the history and origins of older civilizations, mainly in seeing how the flow of history since ancient and medieval times flowed into the modern Caliphate. From the moment Al-M'utadid founded the Library of Alexandria, he commissioned the scholars there to study the history and origins of Egypt. In 1416, they developed a system of dividing Egypt's history in three parts: Pagan Egypt under the Pharaohs (2188 - 31 BC), Christian Egypt under the Copts (31 BC - 644 AD), and Muslim Egypt under the Arabs (644 AD - Present). Even as the Caliphate transitioned from Egypt to the Middle East under Al-Najm the Great, this triad of historical heritage remained a fixture of the Abbasid symbolism.
Initially, this general fascination of history was very abusive to historical sites in Egypt, particularly the Pharaonic tombs that were routinely robbed and sold. However, proper Antiquarianism was formalized in the 1530s, developing proper procedures for preserving, protecting and interpreting ancient relics. This eventually led to the construction of the first modern Museum in Alexandria in 1553, and similar museums were built around Lower Egypt and Mesopotamia in the following decades. These procedures have formed the basis of archaeology and historiography ever since.
The first archaeological discoveries in Egypt were for the private use of the Abbasid family. As symbolic of the three historical traditions of Egypt, Al-M'utadid acquired three relics to be stored in the Citadel of Cairo as the three traditional treasures of Egypt: the Crown of Pharaoh Sesostris (of Pagan Egypt), the Ring of Saint Catherine (of Christian Egypt), and the Sword of Sultan Saladin (of Muslim Egypt). When the capital moved to Damascus, Al-Najm ensured that these treasures were carefully moved to the citadel of Damascus, being representative of the seat of the Caliphate by that time. As the Treasures of Egypt remain in the private archives of the Caliphate to this day, modern histography remains uncertain to the authenticity.
In the early 16th century, antiquarian work was mostly done in Lower Egypt, and mostly led by the Coptic community focusing on the Greco-Roman phase of Egyptian history. In and around Alexandria, the Coptic and Arab scholars uncovered many tombs of the Ptolemaic Dynasty, discovering the catacombs of Kom El-Shofqa in 1544. However, the focus of history shifted dramatically after the Rosetta Stone was discovered in 1546. As this stone had the same writing on it of Greek, Egyptian, and Coptic, it provided the first key in over a thousand years to translate hieroglyphics. In 1549 the Tablet was fully decoded, and so too was the language of the Ancient Egyptians.
The translation of hieroglyphs started a revolution of antiquarianism in Egypt, but it also opened up new mysteries about the nation's origin. The tombs of New Kingdom Pharaohs, mostly from the 18th and 19th dynasties, were uncovered in the 1550s, but unfortunately many of them suffered some pillaging. These were mostly seen as remnants of the pagan emperors of Egypt, until the city of Akhetaten was discovered at Amarna in 1552. Pharaoh Akhenaten was then elevated by Muslim scholars as a prophet among pharaohs, and many artifacts from the Amarna period were then treated as holy relics. From that moment on, Pharonic Egypt was seen more as a prototype Caliphate than a completely pagan nation. This was especially true when Tutankamun's mostly in-tact tomb was uncovered in 1555, providing a wealth of information from the Amarna period. Other artifacts discovered around this time included the Amarna Letters and the Bust of Queen Nefertiti.
Later years would uncover more archaeological discoveries to add to this base of historical knowledge. Old Kingdom Tombs as far back as Menes was uncovered around 1556. Alexander the Great was discovered underneath the Daniel Nabi Mosque in Alexandria in 1557, and later King David was found in Jerusalem in 1577. These were all added to the Museum of Alexandria to showcase the progression of great monarchs of history.
The official chronicle of the Abbasid Caliphate was started my Al-M'utadid in 1423, based on the tripartite historical tradition he established. This chronicle was updated and expanded by Al-Najm the Great in 1536, reaching back to the foundations of the Abbasid dynasty by As-Saffeh in 750 AD. However, about 80 years from about 1440 until 1520 were skipped over, causing a permanent gap in Abbasid history. After the translation of hieroglyphs and subsequent discoveries of ancient inscriptions, a large volume of information was used to correct or justify previous understandings of Egyptian history, until a complete synthesized chronicle was created in 1566. Building off of that work, the renowned scholar Hassan Abd Al-Hamid, Ayatollah of Baghdad, compiled a complete history of the world from 1568-1570. This first example of world history was known as the Tariq Al-Ali'm (Annals of the World).
Science and TechnologyThe Universities founded by Al-Najm the Great in Cairo, Alexandria, Beyrut, Damascus, and Tabriz are all bastions of intellectual development and scientific inquiry. In addition, the Library of Alexandria and the House of Wisdom of Baghdad maintained a tight competition throughout the Abbasid dynasty for the most influence over scientific accomplishments. In the vein of the Muslim Golden Age from the Dark Ages, the Abbasid Caliphate prided themselves on their scientific innovations, and was constantly in flux to expand their institutions both physically (such as observatory added to the House of Wisdom), and intellectually.
Works on mathematics and astronomy were conducted first, mostly in Alexandria during the 1540s. Various writings from this time, most notably On New Stars describing the nature of supernovae, both encouraged and were spurned on by the rising disdain of astrology and divination. Mathematics focused mainly on geometry based on Euclid's Elements, as well as algebra and number theory.
In the later half of the 1540s, the scholar Yahya Al-Babil flourished in his career at the House of Wisdom. Al-Babil is considered one of the greatest scholars of Abbasid history, and one of the first scientists in the modern world. He had a brilliant mind known for many accomplishments in chemistry, biology, mathematics, physics, and a number of other fields. In 1545 his most famous work On the Method to Science outlined the basis of the modern scientific method, most iconic being the hierarchy of hypothesis, theory, and law by experimentation and logic. In 1548, he developed the theory of infinitesimals which is the basis of later calculus. His last work New Optics in 1553 was also instrumental to the development of theories of light. After his death, the method he developed very quickly became popular enough to apply for many other fields of study, leading to further advancements in chemistry, anatomy, and medicine. Acupuncture as a form of medication was revived in 1558.
Art and Architecture
As the Renaissance era of art spread from Europe into the Middle East, it worked to transform the cultural appearance of the Caliphate as more western, bringing the Middle East out of the basic, unrealistic Medieval style and into the modern world. Although much of its style is western in appearance, the Abbasids also worked to adapt the European art to create a unique identity for the Caliphate. However, some obstacles initially stood in the way of this, namely the strict observance of Sharia law which deters depictions of living creatures, and forbids the depictions of any prophet or companion of prophets. The shift towards more enlightened culture in the 16th century, however, helped to gradually turn this around.
Much of the Caliphate's focus on common architecture, especially early on, was simply imitating the western city planning, particularly Italy and Greece. Cobblestones and dense housing were introduced to major cities like Damascus, Cairo, and Beyrut starting in 1542. By 1560, these were almost indistinguishable from their western counterparts in the urban size and density. Antioch particularly adopted more Bulgarian style of cities, while Jerusalem adopted buildings mainly from central Italy. This style was also used in constructing new cities across East Africa after the conquest of Ethiopia, most notably the main regional capital there Medinah Jamil, officially called Beit Dawud.
The advent of the printing press and subsequent fascination of ancient literature brought in many works of classical architecture studied in Alexandria and Baghdad. Most of these came from Greece and Rome, but after hieroglyphics were translated in 1549, instructions on Egyptian architecture were also studied. It was at that time that Vitruvius' instructions on domes and Hatsheptut's instructions on obelisks were both translated to Arabic.
Architecture Under Al-Rahim
Caliph Al-Rahim was especially known as a patron of the arts and sciences, and commissioned many projects of his own. In 1548, Al-Rahim abandoned the citadel of Damascus to construct his own personal palace elsewhere in the city, combining the traditional Muslim style with Renaissance innovations. This focused on Roman-style domes for the main and side rotundas, lining the top frame with glass and silver with chandeliers stretching hundreds of feet down to the floor. The hallways with vaulted ceilings were lined with sapphire mosaics, and on the top floor there was added a portrait gallery for all previous Caliphs going back to As-Saffeh in 750 AD. In 1558, an additional wing to the southeast was added, copying the style of the hypostyle hall from the Temple of Karnak in Egypt. Known as the Qaseer Al-Rahim, it has remained the personal residence of the Caliph ever since. In 1584, the mentally unstable Caliph Al-M'utadid III redecorated a couple of hallways in purple, due to his hatred of the color blue.
As soon as the Qaseer Al-Rahim was completed in 1552, the Caliph sponsored religious building projects in the form of the Grand Mosque. The Grand Mosque of Antioch was built to be a complete counterpart of European Cathedrals. However, the basic shape and layout of the Mosque is based on the shape of the Kaaba in Mecca. Stained glass windows were added, but this was done in conjunction with glass chandeliers to form a dazzling light effect. The scenes depicted on the stained glass were significant moments in early Islam, but the faces of the Prophet and his companions were left blank. An elaborate courtyard was built to connect the building to the four minarets. After it was completed in 1555, other Grand Mosques were built in Egypt and Syria. In addition to the Grand Mosques, another building project made by Al-Rahim was a tower to represent the Lighthouse of Alexandria in 1558, but this was not nearly as impressive.
Other Forms of Art
Development of painting was much more of a gradual and unofficial process. The oldest example of Renaissance art in the Middle East comes from a small guild of artists in Antioch, operating in 1544. It was considered revolutionary at the time because it consisted of painting animals and people, which was unknown to medieval Muslim art. The trend quickly spread across Syria and Iraq in conjunction with the Humanist movement, until the last edicts of Al-Najm in 1546 suspended the rules of Sharia law pertaining to art. By 1550, paintings of specific people began to appear. This was quickly patronized by Al-Rahim to create a tradition of portraiture for nobility across the Caliphate. This development of was key to introduce realism in the form of expression and perspective in paintings.
Starting in 1557, realistic historical art began appearing to depict famous scenes of Muslim history, known collectively as "Qurranic Art". However, the faces of prophets and companions were still obscured until 1559, when the Ulema decided that Muhammad's face might be depicted under special authorization. This provision was best used in the most famous painting in the whole Abbasid period: the Revelation of Muhammad commissioned in 1565. This painting made use of shadow and posture on oil medium, as typically used in Italy at the same time.
Both Renaissance sculpture and music took off in the later 1550s. Music up until this point was very uniform and did not make use of harmonies or rhythm. As western music began influencing the Abbasids, many folk and secular music began adopting polyphony with traditional Arabic instruments. By 1577, European instruments such as cellos and violas were introduced to create quartets for the royal court. By the 1580s, this music was expanded to be adopted in religious services as well.
As the Caliphate is a theocratic institution, many of its laws and policies revolved around the Five Pillars of Islam and maintaining their integrity. The Zakat, or 2% donation to the poor, is included as an additional tax from the federal government. Both Ramadan and the Salat prayers are publicly announced in every major city. The trade networks and road system was built primarily for pilgrimage to religious sites, mostly the annual Hajj to Mecca. Other cities of religious importance include Medinah (Mosque of the Prophet), Jerusalem (Dome of the Rock), Antioch (center of the Syriac Church), Alexandria (center of the Coptic Church), Nineveh (Tomb of Jonah), and Karbala (holy site of the Shia). The Kilab Al-Rub were primarily assigned to guard these paths from robbers. Part of the Compact of Beyrut was ensuring these sites open to international pilgrimage.
The Ulema, or Council of Senior Scholars, was re-established in 1413 as a secondary authority over the whole Caliphate, but like the Caliph they administrated over religious doctrine as well. After the Humanist movement, late in Al-Najm's reign and throughout Al-Rahim's, the Ulema gradually assumed more authority over religious matters, until it was formalized under the Tables of Government in 1556. Initially, many were worried about people outside of the Caliph making decisions on religion. But Al-Rahim was very charismatic as well as visionary, and sought to divide authority among many more capable minds. It was only after Al-Mahdi's assassination that the Ulema seized more real authority over the Caliphate, ultimately leading to the Sixth Fitna and the rise of the Rashidun Caliphate.
The Ulema was originally designed as a diverse representation of all sects of Sunni theology: Hanifi, Shafi, Hanbali, and Mu'tazila. During late M'utadid's reign, the Hanbali school became most dominant for several decades, but by the late 15th century the M'utazila theology took more dominance. By the end of the Cloaked Jihad, M'utazila was the only theology remaining, but it quickly split into liberal and conservative factions. These factions eventually gave way to the more philosophical and political ideology that became the basis of the Rashidun Caliphate.
Shia SectsThe Caliphate adopted the Millet system from the Ottoman Empire in 1530, and used it to keep a balance between various sects of Islam and other religions within the Middle East. During the Fatimid Caliphate of earlier centuries, the various Shia sects in the Middle East had split apart into various sects of local traditions, mostly the Druze, Alawites, Ziyadi, and Nizari. Al-M'utadid's original reforms forbade all these heresies, and deported many of them out of Egypt along with the jihad against the Mamluks. This completely destroyed the Nizari sect, but many of the other communities were isolated by either desert or mountains and were difficult to find. It was the Millet system that finally accepted the Shia back into the Caliphate as isolated communities.
The Druze made a resurgence in the 1550s, during the height of excavations around Amarna and Akhetaten. The Druze believed in the reincarnation of Allah, in such persons as Noah, Al-Hakim, and Al-Durazi. In such a way, they believed the Pharaoh Akhenaten to be an older incarnation of Al-Durazi, and took much fascination with the new artifacts for this reason. In 1559, Mehmed Hassan and the Ulema condemned the Druze doctrine of reincarnation and systematically oppressed it.
As soon as Al-Najim I invaded Persia in the 1440s, the Gurkani Sultanate abandoned Sunni religion and adopted the Ziyadi branch of Shia Islam. The Ziyadi scholars were imported to Persia out of Yemen, very recently conquered by Al-Mustansir's campaign. The Grand Imam of the Ziyadis, now styled "Caliph" of Shia , was placed in Esfehan as center of the new religion, who at the time was Al-Mansur Al-Nasir. Not only did all of Iran and Iraq convert to Ziyadi, but also the rulers of many allies in the far east, namely Delhi , Bahamani , Mogadishu , and Bengal . During the late 15th century, comparable to the time of the Fatimid Caliphate, Shia was more prevalent than Sunni Islam.
However, when Persia was ultimately vanquished in the Cloaked Jihad, the last Ziyadi Caliph Al-Mutawakkil was deposed of his title and sent back to Yemen, under the Treaty of Batman. All the former allies of Gurkani, including Persia itself, would remove Shia from their governments. However, the Ziyadi sect of Islam would remain the majority in most of Iran and parts of Iraq for the rest of the Caliphate, eventually absorbing all other branches of Shia. Later in the 16th century, Ibn Yaqub supported the idea of accepting Shia as equally valid theology of Islam, but in-spite of his instrumental work founding the Humanist movement this was not generally accepted.
Just like in the Old Abbasid Caliphate, both Judaism and Christianity are greatly tolerated within certain limitations. Christians are not allowed to proselytize or make public declarations of faith, such as ringing church bells. They were also required to pay an extra poll tax known as the jizyah tax. Other miscellaneous restrictions from Sharia law were also introduced early on, but varied throughout the Caliphate's history. Jerusalem always remained a neutral ground between all three religions, being a Holy Site for many people over thousands of years.
The Coptic ChurchThe Coptic Christian Church had existed in Egypt and Africa for almost two millennia, tracing its history to the Christian era of Egypt's history under Rome. Although it had split off from the orthodox Christian church in the fifth century after the Council of Ephesus, it was still considered part of the Christian world under the rule of many Musilm dynasties. After the Ionian Crusade in the early 1420s, Al-M'utadid blamed the Copts for being in league with the Crusaders, and so turned his draconian judicial policies against Christianity.
In 1430, the Coptic Saint Maryam Al-Nasr was martyred in Herekropolis. The recent persecutions, combined with the last remnants of Turkish minorities in Egypt, led to the Coptic Christians raising a general revolt against the Caliph, in support of the recently-elected Pope John XI. After the Coptic Revolt was crushed at the Siege of Herekropolis, Al-Mustansir used this as the justification to invade the Coptic states of East Africa short of Ethiopia. The Pope himself managed to remain in power by restricting his activities only to the city of Alexandria. Al-Najm himself and later Caliphs would generally be much more lenient to the Pope, and allow him to hold jurisdiction over Christianity among the Coptic people.
The bloody conquest of Ethiopia was seen as a tragedy to the Coptic community, and the Pope organized collective mourning for it. However, the remainder of the 16th century would see gradual growth of Coptic influence across Africa, as the 10 million Ethiopians from the old Coptic Empire were incorporated into the Viceroy of Egypt. Amharics had spread across Egypt by 1569, and by 1575 they had dominated the educated class. By the early 1590s, the Pope of Alexandria was seen as the official Holy See of the greater Coptic world.
Catholics and OrthodoxOrthodoxy is also very prevalent across the Caliphate. The Armenian Church centered in the Kingdom of Georgia holds jurisdiction over their own quarter of Jerusalem. After the Cloaked Jihad, Bulgaria offered to have primacy over the Orthodox pentarchy in Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria, in order to keep the Middle Eastern Christians pacified. The Abbasids agreed to this move, but only in accommodating the other Christian communities in those same cities.
The Catholic Church has some influence in the Middle East due to the many years of colonization during the Crusades. Kingdoms set up by crusader knightly orders ruled the islands of Cyprus, Crete, Rhodes, Naxos, and Epirus at the time the Abbasids took power. The King of Cyprus had even inherited the title "King of Jerusalem". After the Ottoman Empire had conquered Epirus and Rhodes, while the Abbasids conquered Cyprus, Crete, and Naxos, the Catholic colonists of these islands were deported from the nation. Mostly voluntarily, these exiles went back to the nations of France and Italy where they originated from. Only Crete would retain some Christian influence, and this was purely Orthodox from the native Greek community.
Similarly, the North African Crusade had left a strong presence of Catholic colonization in North Africa, almost entirely in Morocco which was a large part of Castilian infrastructure in the 15th century. After Morocco was conquered in 1534, these Catholic communities were largely marginalized by the influx of Berber re-population, but they were never actively persecuted.
During Al-Mahdi's reign in the 1570s, the Caliph sought closer relations with the Pope in Rome, treated as equals across two different religions. The largest motivation for this move was to find a way to dislodge the hold the Orthodox had over the Christians in the Middle East. And so, the Fraciscan Custo in the Church of the Holy Seplucure was permitted to have equal jurisdiction in the Pentarchy than the Orthodox Patriarch.
Jewish communities, although extremely small, also exist in the Caliphate in various places.
Other ReligionsReligions outside of Abrahamic faiths were universally considered pagan, idolatrous practices not worth being associated with. Some minor Zoroastrian communities existed in Iraq right after the Cloaked Jihad, but after divination was condemned in 1557 these were systematically purged and forced back into Iran.
When Benin began expanding its influence northward towards the Trans-Saharan trade route in 1416, Khalid ibn As-Sagheer was sent with the finest scholars of Mecca and Medinah to convert the Oba to Islam, in competition with the Catholic missions being sent the same year. When Benin adopted the new, pantheistic religion of Kuzirism however, this surprised the whole Abbasid court. With the Benin empire under this clearly idolatrous faith, Muslim trade was diverted towards Mali and Songhai. However, missions continued into sub-Saharan Africa, ultimately leading to converting Kongo from Kuzir to Islam in the 1560s.
As Islam spread into China throughout the 16th century, the Chinese Traditional religion was seen largely as a local pagan threat to the House of Islam. Support was always given to the Kingdom of Tali after its independence, and those killed by traditional Chinese and Confucian are considered martyrs of the faith. Just like most other Muslim dynasties stretching back to the days of Al-Ghaznavi, Hinduism was always seen as a great threat to the House of Islam, and this was especially true during the Hindu-Bengal Wars as Aryavarta threatened the integrity of the Silk Road trade.
Buddhism, however, was seen largely as curiosity among Muslim scholars. The enclave of Arab merchants in Busan, coupled with the Korean enclave in Aden created a mutual cultural exchange. In the 1580s, attempts were made to find some parallels between the Buddhist religion and passages in the Qur'an.