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The Abbasid Caliphate (Arabic: ‎, al-‘Abbāsīyūn) was the third of the Islamic Caliphates of the Islamic Empire. It was ruled by the Abbasid dynasty of caliphs, who built their capital in Mecca, a Muslim holy site, to signify the Abbasid family as the rightful successors of the Muhammad. Roman Empire.

It was founded by the descendant of Prophet Muhammad's youngest uncle, Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib. It was created in Medina in 750 C.E. and shifted its capital in 762 C.E from Medina to Mecca. In 1258, the caliphate was invaded by the Mongols, who forced the caliphs to flee to Aegyptus (Roman province of Egypt) for three years. When the Mongol Empire collapsed, the Abbasid family and their followers raised an army and reconquered the Arabian peninsula. The Abbasid caliphate was the center of the Islamic world until its official decline in 1744.

الخلافة العباسية الإسلامية
Islamic Abbasid Caliphate
Timeline: XI: Serica & Romanum
Preceded by {{{years}}} Succeeded by
Umayyad Caliphate Ottoman Empire
Flag of Libya No coa
Flag Coat of Arms
Middle east map
The caliphate on the verge of Ottoman invasion.

الله أكبر (Arabic (official), Aramaic,Armenian, Berber languages, Georgian, Greek, Hebrew, Persian, Turkish, Kurdish)
(""Allah is Great"")

Capital Mecca
Largest city Medina
Language Arabic (official), Aramaic,Armenian, Berber languages, Georgian, Greek, Hebrew, Persian, Turkish, Kurdish
Religion Sunni Islam
Government Monarchy; Caliphate
Population 50,000,000 (c. 850) 
Currency Abbasid Dinar


The Abbasid caliphs descended from Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib (566 – 662), one of the youngest uncles of the prophet Muhammad, because of which they considered themselves as the true successor of Muhammad as opposed to the Umayyads. The Umayyads were descended from Umayya, and were a clan separate from Muhammad's in the Quraish tribe. They won backing of Shi'ites (the Hashimiyya sub-sect of the Kaysanites Shia) against the Umayyads by temporarily converting to Shia Islam and joining their fight against the unjust Umayyad rule.

The Abbasids also distinguished themselves from the Umayyads by attacking their moral character and administration in general. According to Ira Lapidus "The Abbasid revolt was supported largely by Arabs, mainly the aggrieved settlers of Marw with the addition of the Yemeni faction and their Mawali". The Abbasids also appealed to non-Arab Muslims, known as mawali, who remained outside the kinship-based society of Arab culture and were perceived of as a lower class within the Umayyad empire. Muhammad ibn 'Ali, a great-grandson of Abbas, began to campaign for the return of power to the family of Muhammad, the Hashimites, in Persia during the reign of Umar II, Muhammad ibn Ali.

During the reign of Marwan II, this opposition culminated in the rebellion of Ibrahim the Imam, the fourth in descent from Abbas. Supported by the province of Khorasan, Persia, he achieved considerable successes, but was captured in the year 747 and died in prison; some hold that he was assassinated. The quarrel was taken up by his brother Abdallah, known by the name of Abu al-'Abbas as-Saffah, who, with victory on the Greater Zab River (750), defeated the Umayyads and was proclaimed Caliph.

Islamic Golden Age

See also: Islamic Renaissance (Wikipedia)

The Islamic Golden Age was a period in Muslim history traditionally dated from 9th to 14th centuries Anno Domini for 600 years when artists, engineers, scholars, poets, philosophers, geographers and traders in the Islamic world contributed to the arts, agriculture, economics, industry, law, literature, navigation, philosophy, sciences, sociology, and technology, both by preserving earlier traditions and by adding inventions and innovations of their own.

The Abbassids were influenced by the Qur'anic injunctions and hadith such as "The ink of the scholar is more holy than the blood of martyrs" stressing the value of knowledge. During this period the Muslim world became the unrivaled intellectual centre for science, philosophy, medicine and education as the Abbasids championed the cause of knowledge. They established the "House of Wisdom" (Arabic:بيت الحكمة) in Baghdad, where scholars, both Muslim and non-Muslim, sought to gather and translate all the world's knowledge into Arabic in the Translation Movement. Many classic works of antiquity that would otherwise have been forgotten were translated into Arabic and later in turn translated into Turkish, Persian, Hebrew and Latin. During this period the Muslim world was a cauldron of cultures which collected, synthesized and significantly advanced the knowledge gained from the ancient Mesopotamian, Roman, Chinese, Indian, Persian, Egyptian, North African, and Greek civilizations.

A number of important educational and scientific institutions previously unknown in the ancient world have their origins in the early Islamic world, with the most notable examples being: the public hospital (which replaced healing temples and sleep temples) and psychiatric hospital, the public library and lending library, the academic degree-granting university, and the astronomical observatory as a research institute (as opposed to a private observation post as was the case in ancient times).

The first universities which issued diplomas were the Bimaristan medical university-hospitals of the medieval Islamic world, where medical diplomas were issued to students of Islamic medicine who were qualified to be practicing doctors of medicine from the 9th century.The number of important and original medieval Arabic works on the mathematical sciences far exceeds the combined total of medieval Latin and Greek works of comparable significance, although few of these works have ever been studied by modern historians.

Islamic science is believed to have been declining in the early 16th century. One reason given for the scientific decline was when the orthodox Ash'ari school of theology challenged the more rational Mu'tazili school of theology, with al-Ghazali's The Incoherence of the Philosophers (Tahafut al-falasifa) being the most notable example. This interpretation was introduced by the Hungarian Orientalist Ignaz Goldziher, who believed that there was an intrinsic antagonism between Islamic orthodoxy and the Greek-influenced traditions of science. Recent scholarship has questioned this traditional view, however, with a number of scholars pointing out that the Ash'ari school supported science but were only opposed to speculative philosophy and that some of the greatest Muslim scientists such as Alhazen, Biruni, Ibn al-Nafis and Ibn Khaldun were themselves followers of the Ash'ari school. Emilie Savage-Smith also pointed out that Al-Ghazali's positive views towards medicine, particularly anatomy, were a source of encouragement for the increased use of dissection by Muslim physicians (such as Avenzoar and Ibn al-Nafis) in the 12th and 13th centuries.

There was an increasing lack of tolerance of intellectual debate and freedom of thought, with some seminaries systematically forbidding speculative philosophy, while polemic debates appear to have been abandoned in the 15th century. A significant intellectual shift in Islamic philosophy is perhaps demonstrated by al-Ghazali's late 11th century polemic work The Incoherence of the Philosophers, which lambasted metaphysical philosophy in favor of the primacy of scripture, and was later criticized in The Incoherence of the Incoherence by Averroes.

First Silk War

Main article: First Silk War

In 1393, war broke out between the Roman Empire and the Serican Empire. Hoping to regain Persia, the Abbasid Caliphate entered the war on the side of the Romans. Eventually the Allies won and the Treaty of Baghdad was set up in 1401. However, the Caliphate failed to win any new lands and felt cheated by the Romans. However, the war introduced gunpowder to the Arabs, something they had never seen before. The war also caused the Abbasid army to be reorganized into a more effective fighting force.

Expansion of the Caliphate

When the Roman Empire was on the verge of collapse in 1415, the Abbasid government saw a chance to establish their hegemony over Southwestern Asia and invaded Mesopotamia and Persia, isolating the Roman legions stationed there by cutting off their escape routes.This was a severe blow to the Roman army, and the rest of the Roman territories in the region were soon conquered by the Abbasid army. The Arabs also invaded the Roman provinces of Aegyptus, Cyrenaica, and the eastern part of the Africa Proconsularis. By the time the Roman Empire collapsed in 1418, the Arabs had taken control of western Anatolia.


By 1430, the Samanids had begun the process of exercising independent authority in Transoxiana and Greater Khorasan, as had the Shia Hamdanids in Northern Syria, and the succeeding Tahirid and Saffarid dynasties of Persia. By the early 10th century, the Abbasids almost lost control of Mesopotamia to various amirs, and the caliph al-Radi was forced acknowledge their power by creating the position of "Prince of Princes" (amir al-umara). Shortly thereafter, the Persian faction known as the Buwayhids from Daylam swept into power and assumed control over the bureaucracy in Baghdad. According to the history of Miskawayh, they began distributing iqtas (fiefs in the form of tax farms) to their supporters.

Outside Iraq, all the autonomous provinces slowly took on the characteristic of de facto states with hereditary rulers, armies, and revenues and operated under only nominal caliphal suzeranity, which may not necessarily be reflected by any contribution to the treasury. Mahmud of Ghazni took the title of sultan, as opposed to the "amir" that had been in more common usage, signifying the Ghaznavid Empire's independence from caliphal authority, despite Mahmud's ostentatious displays of Sunni orthodoxy and ritual submission to the caliph. In the 11th century, the loss of respect for the caliphs continued, as some Islamic rulers no longer mentioned the caliph's name in the Friday khutba, or struck it off their coinage.

Almost immediately after the fall of the Roman Empire, a new powerful foe came to power in Anatolia. This was the Ottoman Empire, ruled by the Sultans of the Ottoman Dynasty. The Ottomans had captured Greece and now were setting their sights on the Abbasids. Simultaneously, the Mongols from East Asia expanded west towards the Abbasid Caliphate. After losing Persia to the Mongols, the Abbasids made peace with the Mongol leader Esen Taishi. The Ottomans, seeing how weak the Abbasid Caliphate had become, launched an invasion of the Caliphate. Mecca fell to the Ottomans in 1517, thus ending the Abbasid Dynasty.