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Abu’l-Faḍl Jaʿfar ibn Muḥammad al-Muʿtaṣim bi’llāh (Arabic: جعفر بن محمد المعتصم بالله‎; March 822 – 11 December 861), better known by his regnal name al-Mutawakkil ʿAlā ’llāh (المتوكل على الله, "He who relies on God") was an Abbasid
Abbasid
caliph who reigned in Samarra from 847 until 861. He succeeded his brother al-Wathiq. His assassination on 11 December 861 by the Turkish guard with the support of his son, al-Muntasir, began the troubled period of civil strife known as "Anarchy at Samarra".

Contents

1 Origin and early life 2 Caliphate 3 Death 4 Treatment of "People of the book" 5 Accomplishments 6 References 7 Sources 8 External links

Origin and early life[edit] The future al-Mutawakkil was born on February/March 822 to the Abbasid prince Abu Ishaq Muhammad (the future al-Mu'tasim) and a slave concubine from Khwarazm
Khwarazm
called Shuja.[1] His early life is obscure, as he played no role in political affairs until the death of his older half-brother, al-Wathiq, in August 847.[1] Caliphate[edit] Al-Wathiq's death was unexpected, and although he had a young son, he had not designated a successor.[1] Consequently the leading officials,the vizier Muhammad ibn al-Zayyat, the chief qādī, Ahmad ibn Abi Duwad, the Turkish generals Itakh and Wasif al-Turki, and a few others, assembled to determine his successor. Ibn al-Zayyat initially proposed al-Wathiq's son Muhammad (the future al-Muhtadi), but due to his youth he was passed over, and instead the council chose the 26-year-old Ja'far, who became the caliph al-Mutawakkil.[2][3] The officials obviously hoped that the new Caliph
Caliph
would prove a pliable puppet, like al-Wathiq. In this they made a fatal miscalculation, for al-Mutawakkil was resolved to restore the authority of the caliphal office and restore its independence by destroying the coterie of civil and military officials, raised by his father, that effectively controlled the state.[1][4] Al-Mutawakkil's first target was the vizier Ibn al-Zayyat, against whom he harboured a deep grudge over the way he had disrespected him in the past.[4] According to al-Tabari, when al-Wathiq had grown angry and suspicious at his brother, al-Mutawakkil had visited the vizier in hopes of persuading him to intercede with the Caliph. Not only had Ibn al-Zayyat kept the Abbasid
Abbasid
prince waiting until he finished going through his correspondence, but even mocked him, in the presence of others, for coming to him seeking assistance. Not only that, but when the dejected prince left, Ibn al-Zayyat wrote to the Caliph
Caliph
to complain about his appearance, noting that he was dressed in effeminate fashion, and that his hair was too long. As a result, al-Wathiq had his brother summoned to court. Al-Mutawakkil
Al-Mutawakkil
came in a brand-new court dress, hoping to mollify the Caliph, but instead al-Wathiq ordered that his hair be shorn off, and al-Mutawakkil be struck in the face with it. In later times, al-Mutawakkil confessed that he had never been so distressed by anything in his life than by this public humiliation.[5][6] Thus, on 22 September 847, he sent Itakh to summon Ibn al-Zayyat as if for an audience. Instead, the vizier was brought to Itakh's residence, where he was placed under house arrest. His possessions were confiscated, and he was tortured to death.[7][8] This was the apogee of Itakh's career: he combined the positions of chamberlain (ḥājib), head of the Caliph's personal guard, intendant of the palace, and head of the barīd, the public post, which doubled as the government's intelligence network. In 848, however, he was persuaded to go to the pilgrimage, and laid down his powers, only to be arrested on his return. His possessions were confiscated—reportedly, in his house alone the Caliph's agents found one million gold dinars. He died of thirst in prison on 21 December 849. He released from prison famous Ahmad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Hanbal Ibn Hilal Ibn Asad Asy-Shaybani who opposed Mutazilites in their opinion that Quran, Allah's Speech was created, where it goes against Islamic Belief System. Ahmad Ibn Hanbal - the originater of the Fourth School of Thoughts (Hanbali Madhhab) was arested and tortured throughout the reign of Al-Mamuun (813-833 CE), His Brother and Al-Mutawakkil
Al-Mutawakkil
father, Al-Mutassim and son Al-Wathiq. One Mahmud ibn al-Faraj al-Nayshapuri arose claiming to be a prophet. He and some followers were arrested in Baghdad. He was imprisoned, beaten and on June 18, 850 he died. In A.H. 236 (850) al-Mutawakkil issued a decree requiring all Christians and Jews in his realm including Jerusalem and Caesarea to wear a yellow (honey-colored) hood and belt to distinguish them from Muslims.[9] In A.H. 237 (851–852) Armenians rebelled and defeated and killed the Abbasid
Abbasid
governor. Al-Mutawakkil
Al-Mutawakkil
sent his general Bugha al-Kabir to handle this. Bugha scored successes this year and the following year he attacked and burned Tiflis, capturing Ishaq ibn Isma'il. The rebel leader was executed. That year (A.H. 238) the Byzantines attacked Damietta. In A.H. 240 (854–855) the police chief in Homs
Homs
killed a prominent person stirring an uprising. He was driven out. Al-Mutawakkil
Al-Mutawakkil
offered another police chief. When the next year saw a revolt against this new police chief, al-Mutawakkil had this firmly suppressed. As Christians had joined in the second round of disturbances, the caliph had Christians expelled from Homs. Also in 241 occurred the firm response to the revolt by the Bujah, people of descent just beyond Upper Egypt. They had been paying a tax on their gold mines. They ceased paying this, drove out Muslims working in the mines and terrified people in Upper Egypt. Al-Mutawakkil
Al-Mutawakkil
sent al-Qummi to restore order. Al-Qummi sent seven ships with supplies that enabled him to persevere despite the very harsh terrain of this distant territory. He retook the mines, pressed on to the Bujah royal stronghold and defeated the king in battle. The Bujah resumed payment of the tax. On February 23, 856, there was an exchange of captives with the Byzantines. A second such exchange took place some four years later. Al-Mutawakkil's reign is remembered for its many reforms and viewed as a golden age of the Abbasids. He would be the last great Abbasid caliph; after his death the dynasty would fall into a decline. Death[edit] Al-Mutawakkil
Al-Mutawakkil
continued to rely on Turkish statesmen and slave soldiers to put down rebellions and lead battles against foreign empires, notably the Byzantines, from whom Sicily
Sicily
was captured. His secretary, Al-Fath ibn Khaqan, who was Turkish, was a famous figure of Al-Mutawakkil's era.[10] His reliance on Turkish soldiers would come back to haunt him. Al-Mutawakkil
Al-Mutawakkil
would have his Turkish commander-in-chief killed. This, coupled with his extreme attitudes towards the Shia, made his popularity decline rapidly. Al-Mutawakkil
Al-Mutawakkil
had appointed his oldest son, al-Muntasir, as his heir in 849/50, but slowly had shifted his favour to his second son, al-Mu'tazz, encouraged by al-Fath ibn Khaqan and the vizier Ubayd Allah ibn Yahya ibn Khaqan. This rivalry extended into the political sphere, as al-Mu'tazz's succession appears to have been backed by the traditional Abbasid
Abbasid
elites as well, while al-Muntasir was backed by the Turkish and Maghariba guard troops.[11][12] In late autumn 861, matters came to a head: in October, al-Mutawakkil ordered the estates of the Turkish general Wasif to be confiscated and handed over to al-Fath. Feeling backed into a corner, the Turkish leadership began a plot to assassinate the Caliph.[13][14] They were soon joined, or at least had the tacit approval, of al-Muntasir, who smarted from a succession of humiliations: on 5 December, on the recommendation of al-Fath and Ubayd Allah, he was bypassed in favour of al-Mu'tazz for leading the Friday prayer
Friday prayer
at the end of Ramadan, while three days later, when al-Mutawakkil was feeling ill and chose al-Muntasir to represent him on the prayer, once again Ubayd Allah intervened and persuaded the Caliph
Caliph
to go in person. Even worse, according to al-Tabari, on the next day al-Mutawakkil alternately vilified and threatened to kill his eldest son, and even had al-Fath slap him on the face. With rumours circulating that Wasif and the other Turkish leaders would be rounded up and executed on 12 December, the conspirators decided to act.[12][15] According to al-Tabari, a story later circulated that al-Fath and Ubayd Allah were forewarned of the plot by a Turkish woman, but had disregarded it, confident that no-one would dare carry it out.[16][17] On the night of 10/11 December, about one hour after midnight, the Turks burst in the chamber where the Caliph
Caliph
and al-Fath were having supper. Al-Fath was killed trying to protect the Caliph, who was killed next. Al-Muntasir, who now assumed the caliphate, initially claimed that al-Fath had murdered his father, and that he had been killed after; within a short time, however, the official story changed to al-Mutawakkil choking on his drink.[18][19] The murder of al-Mutawakkil began the tumultuous period known as "Anarchy at Samarra", which lasted until 870 and brought the Abbasid Caliphate
Abbasid Caliphate
to the brink of collapse.[20] Treatment of "People of the book"[edit] In 850 Mutawakkil made a decree ordering Dhimmi (Jews) wear garments to distinguish them from Muslims, their places of worship destroyed, demonic effigies nailed to the door, and that they be allowed little involvement government or official matters.[9][21] Mutawakkil ordered the ancient sacred Cypress of the Zoroastrians, Cypress of Kashmar to be cut down in order to use it in constructing his new palace despite the enormous protests from the Zoroastrian community.[22] The cypress was of legendary values to the Zoroastrians, believed to be brought from Paradise
Paradise
to the earth by Zoroaster
Zoroaster
was more than 1400 years old at the time. He was killed before the cypress wood arrived for his new palace.[23] Accomplishments[edit]

Destruction of the Tomb of Husain at Kerbela

Al-Mutawakkil
Al-Mutawakkil
was unlike his brother and father in that he was not known for having a thirst for knowledge, but he had an eye for magnificence and a hunger to build. The Great Mosque of Samarra
Great Mosque of Samarra
was at its time, the largest mosque in the world; its minaret is a vast spiralling cone 55 m high with a spiral ramp. The mosque had 17 aisles and its wall were panelled with mosaics of dark blue glass. The Great Mosque was just part of an extension of Samarra eastwards that built upon part of the walled royal hunting park. Al-Mutawakkil built as many as 20 palaces (the numbers vary in documents). Samarra became one of the largest cities of the ancient world; even the archaeological site of its ruins is one of the world's most extensive. The Caliph's building schemes extended in A.H. 245 (859–860) to a new city, al-Jaʻfariyya, which al-Mutawakkil built on the Tigris
Tigris
some eighteen kilometres from Samarra. More water, and al-Mutawakkil ordered a canal to be built to divert water from the Tigris, entrusting the project to two courtiers, who ignored the talents of a local engineer of repute and entrusted the work to al-Farghanī, the great astronomer and writer. Al-Farghanī, who was not a specialist in public works, made a miscalculation and it appeared that the opening of the canal was too deep so that water from the river would only flow at near full flood. News leaked to the infuriated caliph might have meant the heads of all concerned save for the gracious actions of the engineer, Sind ibn ʻAlī, who vouched for the eventual success of the project, thus risking his own life. Al-Mutawakkil
Al-Mutawakkil
was assassinated shortly before the error became public. Al-Mutawakkil
Al-Mutawakkil
was keen to involve himself in many religious debates, something that would show in his actions against different minorities. His father had tolerated the Shīʻa Imām who taught and preached at Medina, and for the first years of his reign al-Mutawakkil continued the policy. Imām ʻAlī al-Hadī's growing reputation inspired a letter from the Governor of Medina, ʻAbdu l-Lāh ibn Muħammad, suggesting that a coup was being plotted, and al-Mutawakkil extended an invitation to Samarra to the Imām, an offer he could not refuse. In Samarra, the Imām was kept under virtuial house arrest and spied upon. However, no excuse to take action against him ever appeared. After al-Mutawakkil's death, his successor had the Imām poisoned: al-Hadī is buried at Samarra. The general Shīʻa population faced repression. and this was embodied in the destruction of the shrine of Hussayn ibn ʻAlī, an action that was carried out ostensibly in order to stop pilgrimages to that site,[24] and the flogging and incarceration of the Alid Yahya ibn Umar. Also during his reign, Al-Mutawakkil
Al-Mutawakkil
met the famous Byzantine theologian Cyril the Philosopher, who was sent to tighten the diplomatic relations between the Empire and the Caliphate in a state mission by the Emperor Michael III. Of his sons, al-Muntasir succeeded him and ruled until his death in 862, al-Mu'tazz reigned as Caliph from 866 to his overthrow in 869, and al-Mu'tamid reigned as Caliph
Caliph
in 870–892 with his brother al-Muwaffaq serving as an effective regent of the realm until his death in 891. References[edit]

^ a b c d Kennedy 1993, p. 777. ^ Kennedy 2006, pp. 232–233. ^ Kraemer 1989, p. 68. ^ a b Kennedy 2006, p. 234. ^ Kraemer 1989, pp. 65–68. ^ Kennedy 2006, pp. 234–235. ^ Kraemer 1989, pp. 65–71. ^ Kennedy 2006, pp. 234–236. ^ a b Decree of Caliph
Caliph
al-Mutawakkil ^ Pinto, O. "Al-Fath b. Khakan." The Encyclopedia of Islam, Volume II. New Ed. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1991. ISBN 90-04-07026-5. p. 837 ^ Gordon 2001, p. 82. ^ a b Kennedy 2004, p. 169. ^ Kraemer 1989, p. 171. ^ Kennedy 2004, pp. 168–169. ^ Kraemer 1989, pp. 171–173, 176. ^ Kraemer 1989, pp. xx, 181. ^ Kennedy 2006, p. 265. ^ Kraemer 1989, pp. 171–182, 184, 195. ^ Kennedy 2006, pp. 264–267. ^ Kennedy 2004, pp. 169–173. ^ "Jews Under Islam" section from "The Longest Hatred" in New Internationalist ^ Mary Boyce, Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, (Routledge Kegan Paul Ltd, 1979), 158. ^ Mary Boyce, Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, 158. ^ Imam Haadi, Biographies of Masumeen, Shahaadat, al-Mutawakkil, Al-Muntasir, Imamate (Imamah)

Sources[edit]

Gordon, Matthew (2001). The Breaking of a Thousand Swords: A History of the Turkish Military of Samarra, A.H. 200–275/815–889 C.E. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-4795-6.  Kennedy, Hugh (1993). "al-Mutawakkil ʿAlā 'llāh". In Bosworth, C. E.; van Donzel, E.; Heinrichs, W. P.; Pellat, Ch. The Encyclopaedia of Islam, New Edition, Volume VII: Mif–Naz. Leiden: E. J. Brill. pp. 777–778. ISBN 90-04-09419-9.  Kennedy, Hugh (2004). The Prophet and the Age of the Caliphates: The Islamic Near East from the 6th to the 11th Century (Second ed.). Harlow, UK: Pearson Education Ltd. ISBN 0-582-40525-4.  Kennedy, Hugh (2006). When Baghdad
Baghdad
Ruled the Muslim World: The Rise and Fall of Islam's Greatest Dynasty. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-306814808.  Kraemer, Joel L. (1989). Yarshater, Ehsan, ed. The History of al-Ṭabarī, Volume 34: Incipient Decline: The Caliphates of al-Wāthiq, al-Mutawakkil and al-Muntaṣir, A.D. 841–863/A.H. 227–248. SUNY series in Near Eastern studies. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0-88706-874-4. 

External links[edit]

Wikisource
Wikisource
has original works written by or about: Al-Mutawakkil

Imam Haadi and Al-Mutawakkil The great mosque at Samarra al-Mutawakkil's decree of 850 (English) al-Farghani and the canal

Al-Mutawakkil Abbasid Born: March 821 Died: 11 December 861

Sunni Islam
Islam
titles

Preceded by al-Wathiq Caliph
Caliph
of Islam Abbasid
Abbasid
Caliph 10 August 847 – 11 December 861 Succeeded by al-Muntasir

v t e

Abbasid
Abbasid
Caliphs

Caliphs of Baghdad (749–1258)

as-Saffah al-Mansur al-Mahdi al-Hadi Harun al-Rashid al-Amin Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi[B] al-Ma'mun al-Mu'tasim al-Wathiq al-Mutawakkil al-Muntasir al-Musta'in al-Mu'tazz al-Muhtadi al-Mu'tamid al-Mu'tadid al-Muktafi al-Muqtadir Abdallah ibn al-Mu'tazz[B] al-Qahir ar-Radi al-Muttaqi al-Mustakfi al-Muti at-Ta'i al-Qadir al-Qa'im al-Muqtadi al-Mustazhir al-Mustarshid ar-Rashid al-Muqtafi al-Mustanjid al-Mustadi al-Nasir az-Zahir al-Mustansir al-Musta'sim (Mongol conquest)

Caliphs of Cairo (1261–1517)

al-Mustansir al-Hakim I al-Mustakfi I al-Wathiq I al-Hakim II al-Mu'tadid I al-Mutawakkil I al-Musta'sim al-Mutawakkil I al-Wathiq II al-Musta'sim al-Mutawakkil I al-Musta'in al-Mu'tadid II al-Mustakfi II al-Qa'im al-Mustanjid al-Mutawakkil II al-Mustamsik al-Mutawakkil III al-Mustamsik al-Mutawakkil III (Ottoman conquest)

[B] indicates ephemeral caliphs recognized in the city of